Chapter 114:

The Samalayucan desert

Elyon - Gods among us

En Hawikku, the last city of the Hisatsinom culture, the gods of Orniskem bought the last supplies before heading into the desert that stretched southward.

—You should not go further south!— one of the vendors selling to Anpiel said, speaking Tano quite fluently now to communicate with the locals.

—That's right, to the south lies the desert of Samalayucan, a place now inhabited by demons, and the temperatures there are scorching. It's a deathtrap!— another vendor commented.

—Well, we have urgent business in reaching the city of Tula, so that's where we're heading— the angel replied, trying to sound reassuring.

—I recommend that you travel east to the great Cahokia Empire instead. There, you can take a boat that trades with the southern territories— an old passerby commented as he walked through the small market of the city.

—We appreciate that, but we don't have the time to go all the way there— Anpiel told the man.

—I say this because, even if you try to enter, something will make you walk in circles, and you'll end up outside that great desert again— the man continued.

—Yes, we've heard about that— Anpiel responded.

—When I was a child— the old man recounted, —my father used to take us south to sell goods to the tribes in that region, like the Rarámuri and the Yaqui. But several years ago, demons appeared in the area, and Spider Grandmother sealed off the desert to prevent them from escaping—

—Do you mean to say that those nomadic tribes are trapped there with those demons?— Anpiel asked.

—I don't know the extent of Spider Grandmother's barrier, but we haven't had contact with those nomadic tribes for at least fifty years— the man explained.

The old man bid them farewell, and Anpiel relayed what he had discussed with the Orniskem group.

—I think we should have done that from the beginning, headed back to the Cahokia territories to catch a boat— Epona replied pessimistically.

—No, Epona, remember, we need to get stronger and face this Coyote. It will surely give us a significant boost— Menrva countered, trying to lift the equine goddess's spirits.

—Besides, going there, even flying, will probably take us twenty days or more, not to mention who knows how many months on the sea— Menrva added pessimistically.

—You're still worried about Athena, aren't you?— Anpiel asked the Etruscan goddess, who just nodded.

—Well, demons or not, we're going to cross that great desert and make it to Tula— a determined Tania said. —And we'll kick Coyote's ass!—

Upon hearing Tania say the name "Coyote" aloud, the people around them immediately began to scream in agony and cover their ears. Others pulled out amulets, and people started to move away. The shopkeepers politely asked the gods to leave.

—I guess that word must be taboo in this region— Anpiel remarked after explaining to the people that they were referring to the friendly animals that roamed there, though it didn't help much.

After leaving the town, though not in the most honorable manner, the gods walked a bit until they lost sight of the small city.

—Alright, let's travel as we discussed— Ana said as she summoned her pocket dimension cabin.

All the gods, except Rodrigo, entered Ana's cabin. Rodrigo opened his fifth chakra and underwent his usual transformation.

—You look very handsome in all white, surrounded by it, Rodrigo— Epona said to the young tannin as she blew him a kiss from the window.

Rodrigo thanked Epona for the compliment and, with his strength, lifted the cabin and placed it on his shoulders before taking off into the air.

—Remember, Rodrigo— Tania said, —when you start to feel tired, let me know so I can take over, and you can enter Tul's energy juice—

—Yes, Tania, although I feel capable of traveling for a longer time now— Rodrigo replied.

—And remember, we rest at night, no excuses— Menrva added as she also peered out of the window. Rodrigo nodded and flew at high speed with the cabin on his back.

—This was a very good idea, Tul-chan— Susanoo commented as he approached the rabbit goddess, who continued to admire the cabin with passion.

—Yuum bo'otik, yuum Susanoo— Tul replied, turning to face the oriental god. —Although ch'úupal Tania said it was a very childish idea at first—

—Alright, I apologize— Tania said. —I just felt like the airflow would blow everything we have inside—

—But, thanks to yuum Susanoo's barrier, there's nothing to fear— the rabbit goddess said cheerfully.

Indeed, the cabin was covered by a light layer of air that prevented the air currents from hitting it or blowing everything inside away.

—By the way, we have another surprise— Tul said excitedly, reaching into her bag and pulling out several clay jars they had bought in Chaco.

Ana took one of the sealed jars and smelled it, realizing it was the chocolate drink they had tried before.

—Is this the sweet drink from the other day?— Ana asked, while everyone else examined the small clay cups.

—We've mixed the ambrosia from the mead we had left and diluted it with Tul's drink— Tania explained.

—Well, this is good news! Chocolatl with alcohol! Now, that's something!— Loki exclaimed enthusiastically as he prepared to drink some. The Norse god had returned to his male form.

—Don't drink it, you fool. It's for emergencies!— Ana said as she took the cup away from him.

—With pleasure, I would share my cup with you, my dear— Loki said, giving her a flirtatious look. Tania became furious, while Ana blushed.

—Well, we hope what's left will be enough— Menrva said, looking at the ten cups, one for each of them.

—We lost too much ambrosia in the fight against Anath— Epona said in a depressed tone.

—It will suffice, I'm sure— Menrva replied somewhat melancholic, thinking that they were now facing the most powerful gods on the continent. Considering that this King of Aztlán should have a power similar to Anath's, according to Odin.

—Everything will be fine, Menrva— Freyja said cheerfully and gave her a thumbs up. —Thor always used to say that the more the odds are against us, the more magnificent our victory will be—

Menrva tried to smile and nodded.

At that moment, Menrva's dreamcatcher hanging around her neck began to rise and glow with a golden light.

—Look, the amulet is glowing; we must be close— Menrva said as she delicately held the dreamcatcher in her hand.

Freyja looked out the window and saw a range of mountains that separated the desert from Hisatsinom territory and a desert filled with sand and dunes.

—Yes, those are the mountains that blocked our way— Freyja exclaimed as she spotted them below. Rodrigo continued flying, and they finally entered the desert of Salamanyucan, where there was nothing but vast sand dunes and no vegetation in sight.

Then, the dreamcatcher stopped glowing and returned to its dormant state. —Yes, it seems like we're finally in Coyote's territory— Menrva commented.

Tania peered out of the window next to Tul and saw the enormous sand dunes unfolding below them.

—I've seen similar desert dunes where I grew up, Tul— Tania said excitedly as she gazed at the gigantic sea of sand below them.

—I've never seen anything like this in my life, ch'úupal— the rabbit goddess said with great excitement as she looked at the sand. Then she turned to Tania with a look of tenderness. —Can we touch the sand?— she asked.

—Of course, and we can take the opportunity to switch with Rodrigo— Tania replied with a big smile.

—Hey, Rodrigo!— Tania called out to the young tannin who was currently using his reserve strength. —I told you not to overexert yourself. Please land the cabin here!—

Rodrigo nodded and landed on the massive dunes of Salamanyucan. The cabin began to sink slightly due to the soft sand, but not enough to prevent the gods from getting out through the windows. Meanwhile, Rodrigo lost his transformation and leaned against the cabin's wall.

—Idiot, go inside and have some of Tul's concoctions— Tania told the young tannin as she stepped out of the window and onto the hot desert sand. Tul, with a bound, leaped beside her and began jumping and playing with the sand in her hands enthusiastically.

—I've never been in an environment like this before— Ana said as she exited the cabin along with the other gods, who were all looking at the desert with curiosity.

—No, there weren't environments like this in Yggdrassil either— Freyja commented, fascinated by the sand.

—It brings back bad memories of when I faced Al-Qaum and nearly turned me into a salt statue— Epona said pessimistically as she gazed at the sea of sand.

—What a surprise! Finally, we see something that we all enjoy, and you still find a 'but,' Epona— Anpiel remarked.

The Celtic goddess stuck her tongue out at the malak and went to help Rodrigo get up, while Loki and Susanoo also stepped out to see the vast sea of sand that was the incredible Salamanyucan Desert.

At that moment, Loki noticed something curious: some of the sand that was spilling out of the cabin and spreading over the dunes of the great desert was moving in the opposite direction. The god remembered the words of the Speaking God about seeing things that were not right.

—I know everyone is enjoying the moment, but remember that we are in enemy territory, and we must not let our guard down— Loki commented.

—Loki is right— Menrva said, sitting on the sand as she watched Tul throw dirt in Susanoo's face. —We need to get up and keep going—

—I can't believe Loki said something coherent for the first time— Tania remarked, and all the gods stood up and returned to the cabin.

Tul then collected some sand in a cup and stored it in her bag. —It will be a keepsake from this part of the world— she said.

The gods returned inside the cabin, where Rodrigo was sitting next to Epona, drinking one of Tul's energy drinks. He still looked tired.

—Already bored so quickly?— Epona asked.

—We have to continue our journey; we can't wait for that Coyote to attack us— Ana commented.

—Is everyone ready?— she asked, as Susanoo covered the house with his wind power. The sand that had covered the construction was blown away like a dust cloud.

Tania then transformed into her manticore form and lifted the house without any difficulty.

—All right, let's get moving!— Tania shouted, and everyone nodded. The Punic goddess began to fly, and they continued their march over the vast desert.

—I would have liked to play in the sand a bit longer— Tul said disheartened as she looked out the window at the great desert from the sky.

—Don't worry, Tul-chan, you'll get to see it again another time— Susanoo reassured her and put his hand on her shoulder, taking advantage of Tania not paying attention.

—I hope you're not saying strange things to Tul, Susanoo— Tania shouted as she carried the cabin and flew south.

—Uso! It's impossible for me to do something like that, Tania-san— Susanoo replied, surprised and annoyed.

At that moment, Menrva noticed the table and chairs and looked puzzled.

—Hey— she said to the group. —Were the chairs arranged like this when we landed?— she asked.