Chapter 117:

And behold, a pale horse. And the name who sat on it was Death

Elyon - Gods among us

—Why do I always end up like this? Am I not a warrior goddess?— Ana asked herself, as she continued to lose more and more consciousness due to the lack of blood from her neck, caused by the ghostly corpses of her sisters.

—No, Ana, you can't lose consciousness... you must invoke Excalibur again— she said to herself. But she didn't know how.

Ana then remembered when she made Excalibur appear the first time.

—I know that you are not the real Rodrigo— said the Irish goddess when she saw the supposed Rodrigo mocking her like a maniac.

—But, Rui, I love him with all my heart!— the goddess shouted.

But nothing happened.

—If you love me that much, you must accept my seed in your dry vagina— the false Rodrigo said laughing as he approached Ana, while the false Epona opened the legs of the Irish goddess.

—No! Anything but that!— Ana screamed desperately, while she couldn't prevent the fake Rodrigo try to rape her.

—Think, Ana, think. What is the meaning of Excalibur? What is the reason why Arturo was able to remove it from the stone?— the goddess continued to ask herself with a look of despair when she saw the false Roderigo on top of her. At the same time, her fake sisters held her arms. Ana had almost no energy to resist.

—Let's have fun, Ana— said the fake Rodrigo.

Then, Ana remembered her friends, and thought that surely they were also suffering from these realistic illusions of Coyote.

—It's not just me, everyone must be suffering. The only thing I want right now is to get out of here and help them however I can— the goddess thought, trying to devise an escape.

—Do I love Rodrigo?— Ana continued thinking.

—Yes, I love him, but I love everyone equally. I love Tania, I love Epona, I love Anpiel, I love Menrva, I love Tul, I love Susanoo, I love Freyja... I even love that Loki bastard— said the goddess as she looked defiantly at the fake Rodrigo.

—I love them because they are my friends, they are the people with whom I have shared a bond greater than a simple friendship! These are the people I'm willing to fight for! And, above all, I love myself!— Ana shouted at that moment.

At that moment, white light emanated from Ana's body, just when the false Rodrigo was going to penetrate the goddess. The light caused the false tannin to step back, as did the false sisters and false Epona.

The light that emanated from Ana's body took the form of Excalibur. Quickly, Ana grasped it with both hands and stared intently at Rodrigo.

—You are not Rui... I am disgusted that you exist— she shouted angrily and split him in half. He vanished as if made from dark matter.

—No, sister, don't betray us again!— shouted the girls who seemed to be Ana's sisters. Their faces shifted from looking like corpses to looking as they did the last time the goddess saw them.

—You are not my sisters, just filthy vermin created by that Coyote— Ana said. At that moment, the goddess beheaded both of her sisters, who, like the fake Rodrigo, disappeared into a dark cloud.

The imposter Epona backed away and tried to attack Ana with a hiss. The goddess cut the imposter in half, and the demonic presence in the room ceased.

Ana then lowered Excalibur and took a deep breath. Her wounds did not heal even though the power of these creatures didn't seem very strong.

—It has always been about courage, but I was confused by my feelings— said Ana with a broad smile. —I cannot be possessive over someone I love if the person making them happy is someone I equally love. The courage to fight for those I love is my true value, my real gift. Like Arthur who fought to create Camelot, a dream country... my ambition to fight for my friends is my own greed and my own worth— the goddess told herself, her face a mix of pride and serenity.

However, the dark presence that had dissipated returned, filling the room. Ana realized that she could not escape the room. She was trapped by the power of, possibly, Coyote. The goddess understood that she would have to fight until her energy was exhausted.

Suddenly, a portal opened in that dimension, and a rider on a yellowish horse entered, carrying a large scythe on his back.

—Who are you?— asked a frightened Ana. On closer inspection, behind that morbid, rotting energy, was the figure of a woman.

—Ana! Did you save yourself from Coyote's nightmare?— asked the rider.

—No fucking way!— Ana shouted, once again gripping her sword. —Who are you... fake Epona?— the dark-haired goddess asked with determination.

The greenish energy diminished, revealing Epona on the horse. Even though the goddess was wearing her totema, it now looked grim, corpse-like. Epona's hair had turned a greenish-white, her skin milky in color. Her normally bright green eyes were now dark green and lacked pupils.

—It's me, Ana!— shouted Epona. —Don't attack me!—

—Epona doesn't look like a reaper— Ana said angrily, preparing her sword to fight the mysterious rider.

—Ana, listen!— Epona cried. —I too fell into one of Coyote's nightmares, but I was able to awaken this strange power and free myself—

—How can I trust you when we know Coyote reads our hearts?— Ana asked, still nervous and concerned.

Epona sighed.

—From what I saw, Coyote displays the most dark and sick parts of our minds. But you'd never imagine me as the mistress of death in your wildest dreams, right, Raven-face?— the goddess teased.

Ana remained silent, and after a while, lowered her sword.

—Alright, I choose to believe you for now, Epona— she said.

—Well, it seems this was caused by the residue that thing left in my body— Epona commented. —But thanks to this, I was able to save everyone from the nightmares they were trapped in—

—Everyone? Can you move between dreams?— Ana asked.

—Yes, in this form I can. To be honest, only you and Tania were left— Epona replied.

At that moment, new ghostly creations of Epona, Rodrigo, and Ana's sisters began to form, slowly advancing like zombies towards the two goddesses. Epona quickly took her scythe and with a swift cut made them disappear.

—You have no idea how many times I've had to decapitate myself tonight— the Irish goddess lamented. —I didn't think I was that important in your life, Raven—

—Shut up, mare, and let's hurry to help Tania!— Ana shouted. But Epona looked at her with calm yet sinister eyes.

—First I have to do this— Epona said, raising her scythe towards Ana.

—Epona, what are you doing?— Ana asked. But before the Irish goddess could lift Excalibur, Epona had cut at her neck.

Ana froze, seeing that she hadn't died and her head hadn't separated from her body. A dark cord fell to the ground and disappeared.

—Those cords had us tied to Coyote's dimensional world— Epona said. —My scythe is the only thing that can break them—

The spirits that were reforming disappeared instantly, and the room faded, leaving the two goddesses alone in a white room.

—Stupid mare! I thought you were going to behead me!— Ana shouted angrily.

—What did you expect when you didn't trust me, Raven?— Epona yelled back.

—What would you do if I asked you: 'Ah, Ana, I know you still don't trust me, but I need to cut your neck with this scythe to free you from this dimension'?— she questioned.

—I guess you're right— Ana admitted, looking down.

—I freed the others the same way— Epona explained. —But they were unconscious from their wounds, and it seems that in this dimension, our ichor doesn't work—

Then, Epona smiled and stared intently at Ana, saying, —You're the first to free herself from her nightmares by her own will—

Ana shook her head. —I'm sure Tania didn't give up either— she said, placing the massive Excalibur on her shoulder and smiling at Epona. —Thank you for saving me, Epona—

—Let's save the thanks for another day— Epona replied, guiding her horse towards a dimensional door she'd created. —If we escape from here, we still need to confront that Coyote— she added nervously.

Ana nodded, and both crossed the dimensional door.

When they appeared on the other side, they were shocked to see everything engulfed in flames, as if a massive fire had occurred. At the center of the disaster was Tania, bloodied, holding a charred skeleton by the neck. She had a look of rage and hatred.

—Tania? What happened here?— Ana asked.

Upon seeing Epona, Tania readied herself for combat, tossing the skeleton away. However, Ana and Epona both tried to calm the lioness goddess.

—First, Rodrigo's strange totema on Mars, and now you're parading as an Apocalypse rider— Tania said, her expression softening.

—It seems that some residue from that thing that possessed her awakened those powers— Ana explained, and Epona nodded in agreement.

—Tania, what happened here?— Epona asked.

—That fool Coyote tried to attack me with child sacrifices. Suspecting it was an illusion, I decided to burn everything— Tania said indifferently.

—Tania, did you burn children with your power?— a horrified Ana asked, noting among the skeletons several that were of infants.

—If they're an illusion, it means they're not alive— Tania responded, still indifferent.

—But how did you know it was an illusion?— Epona pressed.

—I believed it was real most of the times— Ana interjected.

—I swore that day— Tania began, extinguishing the flames on her body. —I vowed never to fall for another stupid illusion from our enemies again—

—Tania, that was... risky; you might fall into the same sin as before— Epona voiced her concern.

—My only duty is to protect you— Tania replied. —I was the one who tried to kill Rodrigo in exchange for my people, but that will never be my weakness again. I can't afford to have doubts. It's either them or you— the goddess added with a big smile.

—Alright, Tania, I respect your devotion— Epona commented, approaching the Punic goddess.

—Look at your neck. You'll see a dark cord tied to it, and only I can cut it— she told the fire goddess.

Tania checked and indeed saw a cord around her neck, reminiscent of the one used to bind her in Onondaga.

—Why didn't you tell me that, mare?— Ana shouted in anger.

—Alright, if only you can, I trust you completely, Epona— Tania said, closing her eyes with a smile.

Epona made a clean cut on Tania's neck with her scythe. The dark cord split in half and disappeared, taking with it the world created by Coyote's nightmare.

—That's why I told her— Epona said to Ana, sticking out her tongue.

—And now, how do we return to the real world?— Tania asked.

Epona then slashed the dimension with her scythe, causing it to shatter, leaving the three goddesses inside the cabin, precisely in the living room where Tania and Loki had been.

—Indeed, Loki's not here— Tania noted.

—Did he betray us?— asked Epona, making her horse and scythe disappear, returning to her usual form.

—No, Loki didn't betray us— Ana said. —I'm sure that Coyote must have kidnapped him or something—

—Only you trust that trash— Tania remarked.

—It's just... I love him too— Ana admitted, her gaze firm.

Both Tania and Epona looked at the Irish goddess with surprise and disgust when she uttered those words. Realizing what she had said, Ana blushed.

—No... I didn't mean romantic love. I meant I've come to value him as one of us— Ana clarified.

Tania eyed Excalibur and smiled at Ana. —I think you finally found the answer you were seeking— she observed.

Ana looked at her friend and nodded.

—I won't have issues using this sword anymore— she replied.

Suddenly, a deafening noise sounded outside, shaking the cabin's structures vigorously.

—It's Coyote— Tania stated.

—Only the three of us can confront him— Epona added.

The Irish goddess then summoned her totema. To the others' astonishment, it was gold with hints of purple. Her armor shone elegantly, with a balance between darkness and light.

—Ana, your totema is beautiful— Tania exclaimed. Then she looked at Epona, who had activated her totema again, which now shone with grim and shadowy colors. —Quite the opposite of Epona's— she commented.

—I didn't choose these colors, damn salamander— Epona retorted angrily.

Ana then summoned two ravens from her shoulders. One was as dark as night, and the other was as white as snow. They flew upstairs, allowing Ana to see their unconscious companions slowly healing. The ravens returned and merged with Ana.

—Our friends are fine, but we need to ensure Coyote doesn't attack this house— the Irish goddess remarked.

—Why don't you store it in your vast dimensional pocket?— Epona curiously asked.

—Don't you know that you can't store deities in dimensional pockets?— Ana responded irritably.

—Well, mine's basic and small. I didn't know about that restriction— Epona retorted indignantly.

Tania activated her totema and addressed the two goddesses.

—Enough chit-chat. Coyote won't wait forever— she pointed out.

The three goddesses exited the cabin and saw a colossal dark figure in the distance. It had an elongated face, antelope-like horns, abnormally long arms ending in massive claws, and stood on monstrous legs.

—It doesn't look like a wolf. More like a reindeer from Norway— Epona noted.

—And its element... I can't determine it— Ana added.

—I think it's one of those beings without a defined element— Tania said nervously.

—I thought such beings only existed in fiction— Epona admitted, surprised.

—I knew they existed. But they are usually anomalies with powers surpassing all other gods— Ana explained.

The goddesses then noticed the creature's distended stomach.

—I can sense Loki inside it— Ana said.

—So the bastard ate him— Epona responded, summoning her scythe.

—Goddesses from beyond the sea— the monstrous entity spoke. —First of all, congratulations for overcoming my nightmares. As for your friend, he's being digested in my stomach, though I doubt you can save him in time. Huhuhuhu— the grotesque creature remarked. Coyote's omnipresent voice was both terrifying and soft, a chilling blend of horror and elegance.

Tania transformed into a manticore. At the same time, Ana lifted Excalibur, pointing it at Coyote.

—For all the nightmares you made us endure... I swear we will defeat you, infernal spirit!— Ana shouted, as the three goddesses prepared to attack the monstrous entity.