Chapter 119:

Laughing Coyote

Elyon - Gods among us

—Even if we drink ambrosia, it won't make any difference— said Epona, still lying on the ground.

Ana then conjured a jar of chocolatl and placed it on the ground between the three goddesses.

—It's the only thing we can do, Epona— said the badly wounded goddess. —I'll leave it here, and whoever wants to drink its contents, go ahead—

Tania was the first to drink it, placing it back among the three goddesses after. Ana immediately drank its contents and offered it to Epona.

—Alright, we'll likely die here anyway— commented the equine goddess.

Epona finished off the jar's content and threw the cup to the ground. The injuries and broken bones of the three goddesses healed, though their faces remained stained with blood from the wounds they suffered.

All three, now standing, stared defiantly at Coyote. The massive crater left by the dark god's attack was the only thing separating them.

—Splendid, bearers of Tawa's light— remarked Coyote with his terrifying voice. —Now I'll erase that faint light growing in your hearts. Huhuhuhu—

—What the hell is that dog talking about?— Epona questioned.

—I have no idea— Tania replied with an indifferent expression.

—I think he's referring to what we discussed in Chaco— Ana added, —that energy that awakened in us when we were in despair—

—The miracle that brought me back to life?— Epona inquired.

—That voice you heard was Tawa's— Ana explained.

—So, that creature must know a lot about the universe and its origin, but I doubt he'd easily share that information with us— Tania nervously said, seeing the grotesque creature's sadistic smile.

—Finished chattering? Good, it's time to continue this fight. Huhuhuhu— voiced Coyote, as he opened his deformed mouth with three rows of teeth, emitting a scorching ray.

The three goddesses dodged the attack by jumping, but the ray caused a massive explosion that turned that part of the ground into molten magma and smoke. Coyote continued firing those scalding rays from his mouth, while the goddesses approached the creature; meanwhile, countless faces started emerging from his body. These were human faces, moaning in agony.

The two giant snakes that Coyote had created began circling the three goddesses; but Ana instantly decapitated the first, and Epona the second. When they were annihilated, their bodies turned to liquid, sinking into the desert ground. But Coyote was anticipating that attack; when the two goddesses turned to face the monstrous god, he had fired his huge scalding ray. Then, Tania, with her hands engulfed in flames and in her manticore transformation again, intercepted the ray.

With much effort, Tania deflected the attack towards the sky, where it collided with the dimensional shield protecting the continent. The two goddesses, not having halted their movement, continued flying at full speed towards the grotesque face of the demonic being.

Coyote calmly uttered: —Neeznáá ooljééi adáátłizh

Again, the ten moons with their diabolical smiles appeared above the goddesses, plunging towards them as if they were comets.

Tania, lagging behind the other two goddesses, looked to the sky and shouted: —Esh Kela - Safar: Qnem—. The Punic goddess created a giant fireball above her two fists clutched together, aimed at the phenomenon invoked by Coyote.

With a muffled boom, Tania launched her attack and hit the first moon, which, upon impact, showed molten cracks in its distorted face and shattered into thousands of pieces. The shockwave affected the other moons, disintegrating simultaneously with the fire goddess's attack.

Ana and Epona, not having been deterred by the attack, simultaneously shouted their techniques: —Sgàile agus solas X-chros— and —Menman selgheth—. Epona struck the monster's right side of the neck, while Ana targeted the left. Coyote's head dropped to the ground while his body once again dissolved like dark matter, falling onto the desert dunes and sinking. But Tania was already preparing her potent fireball again. The goddess shouted again: —Esh Kela - Safar: Qnem

Launching the massive magmatic ball where Coyote's body had dissolved, a colossal atomic explosion painted the desolate landscape of Samalayucan in red. Ana and Epona, having flown to Tania after decapitating Coyote, joined the Punic goddess.

—Did you defeat him?— Ana asked Tania.

—No, we haven't harmed it at all— Tania responded.

—Then?— Ana asked.

—Then let's flee immediately and leave that beast in this cursed desert— shouted Tania, flying at full speed towards her companions.

Ana and Epona did the same, and together they picked up Rodrigo, Anpiel, Menrva, Susanoo, Tul, Freyja, and Loki; flying at full speed toward the mountains Tania believed marked the end of the Samalayucan desert.

To their horror, when they looked back at Coyote, the sky had turned pitch black. It seemed like black water, with ghastly demonic faces resembling coyotes howling inside. The vast wave of darkness approached them at high speed, with the omnipresent voice of Coyote saying: —Anoonééł Tááʼ góneʼ Nahasdzáán

The giant wave erased everything in its path as it advanced. Tania saw it and realized, no matter how fast they moved, the wave would inevitably destroy them. The faces of the goddesses turned pale, and hope was lost at that moment.

However, Loki, who had just woken up, saw the wave and released himself from Ana's grasp, throwing himself toward the ground.

—Fool! What are you doing?— shouted a terrified Ana, as Loki, dressed in his totema, positioned himself between the goddesses and the massive wave.

—I caused this mess, and I'll be the one to clean it up— he said, signaling Ana in what she interpreted as a goodbye.

—No, Loki, it shouldn't end like this!— Ana cried out, but the dark god ignored her, raised his arms as he continued to fall, and whispered: —Eyda ævi

Using her manticore tail, Tania pulled Ana back, and the three goddesses continued flying at full speed toward the mountains. However, as if by magic, the wave disappeared entirely. The three goddesses halted abruptly and looked back. There was nothing, just the desert dunes and, far away, the craters left by their battle against Coyote. The dark starry sky again covered the Samalayucan desert.

—Hey, beauties, don't leave me here!— shouted Loki, lying on the dunes, his body entirely motionless. The desert slowly began to swallow him.

Without a second thought, Ana flew down to where Loki was, releasing herself from Tania's tail. She grabbed him and flew quickly to where Tania and Epona were, still shocked and trying to comprehend what had just happened.

—What happened? Weren't you going to sacrifice yourself to stop the attack or something?— a surprised Tania asked the lifeless god, who dangled limply in Ana's hand.

—I never said I was going to sacrifice myself, now keep flying at full speed; Coyote will surely attack again!— shouted the Norse god, and all nodded.

The three goddesses flew at full speed toward the mountains bordering the vast desert.

—That attack caught me off guard— commented Coyote, who now appeared in the form of a single coyote, perched on a mountain range opposite from where the Orniskem members were flying.

—Could it be a historical legacy from 'The Void'?— the evil god continued to ponder.

—I can destroy any technique, no matter how big or small— Loki commented, still looking weary. —But that breaks my body and leaves me incapacitated for days. Even with ambrosia, I won't be able to get up— he explained.

—Three goddesses with Tawa's power in this corrupt, wretched, shit-filled world, along with a god with that ability— Coyote laughed. Even in animal form, his snout seemed to wear a satisfied expression.

—I want to see how much chaos and destruction they cause with those powers! Huhuhuhuhu— he shouted excitedly.

The goddesses finally crossed the desert's mountains, and Tania, carrying Menrva in one of her arms, noticed Menrva's dreamcatcher amulet reacting. She realized that indeed, Coyote couldn't follow them anymore.

—We've left the barrier!— Tania shouted to the other two goddesses, who also observed Menrva's amulet reacting. The three goddesses landed on a mountain plateau, laid their friends on a flat spot, and collapsed from exhaustion, losing their transformations. They had used more manna than their bodies allowed.

—You don't mind sleeping on the ground, do you?— Ana asked as she lost consciousness.

The gods laid sleeping on the mountains south of the Samalayucan desert.

The next morning, Menrva stirred Tania's sleeping body, who had lost the most manna in the battle. The Punic goddess woke up with a face full of fatigue.

—Are you okay, Tania? I'm glad— remarked the Etruscan goddess as she watched Tania sit on the ground, trying to understand what had transpired.

The scene was somber. The sky was blue, but cloudless, although there was a sort of sand cloud floating in the sky, giving the environment an ochre hue. The gods were atop a mountain with sparse vegetation.

All the gods seemed downcast. Epona was with Rodrigo, who seemed more depressed than usual, while Susanoo sat in his lotus position beside Anpiel, who also wore a gloomy expression. However, the worst off was Freyja. Ana was with the goddess trying to comfort her, but the goddess seemed lost in her own world.

Tul, who had been with Tania using aromatic herbs to wake her, asked if she had been affected by Coyote's nightmares.

—No, this is the second time they've tried the same trick on me, and it starts to lose its impact— Tania remarked, to which Tul smiled.

—Were you affected, Tul?— Tania asked with a motherly gaze.

—Don't worry, ch'úupal— said the rabbit goddess, smiling. —Those attacks mean nothing to me—

Tania turned to Menrva and asked how she was.

—Quite well— replied the goddess. —It seems that some are stronger than others, but what Freyja witnessed devastated her entirely—

—Chan Rodrigo is also struggling— Tul pointed out. —I think it might be best to rest nearby until their spirits recover—

Tania stood up and looked at Loki, who still lay on the ground, unable to move, although the god was now awake.

—You said you'd maintain that barrier at night, but you did nothing— Tania commented, standing over him. —Any excuse?—

—I have none— Loki replied. —The bastard tricked me, and I felt for it. Whatever happened to Freyja is entirely my fault—

—How did it deceive you, the self-proclaimed 'god of deception'?— Tania inquired, annoyed.

—Well, it didn't exactly deceive me. It just... well... transformed into a woman and seduced me— Loki said, visibly irritated.

Furious, Tania tried to hit Loki, but Ana stopped her.

—Enough, Tania. You won't solve anything with violence— the Irish goddess interjected.

—You damn lecher. Can't you keep your dick inside your pants?— Tania snapped, but now Epona joined in restraining the goddess.

—Not everyone can walk around the world without feeling sexual desires like you, Tania— Epona snapped back.

—Coyote knew our weaknesses and our fears— Ana remarked, trying to soothe the goddess.

—What I experienced... was also related to sex— Ana finally admitted.

Epona then realized what Ana's dream had entailed. She remembered that the dream involved her and Rodrigo, and she hung her head.

Tania took a deep breath and looked at Loki more calmly.

—As I've told you, Tania, I have no excuses for my behavior— Loki continued. —I risked my comrades' lives due to my inner lust—

—Better this never happen again!— Tania declared and walked away.

The Punic goddess then sat on a rock and surveyed the group.

—I'll say something that may upset many— she began explaining, —but if we want to be a team, we need to recognize our weaknesses so that, together, we can fight to overcome them—

Everyone turned to Tania, who wore a grave and weary expression.

—What I mean is that the weaknesses and doubts among us weaken us, and creatures like Coyote exploit them, trying to shatter our fighting spirit or divide us— the Punic goddess elaborated.

—Do you expect us to tell you our dreams?— Menrva asked, puzzled.

—It would be best to know each other better and understand how we can help— Tania asserted, standing up.

—As many of you know, the name my parents gave me was Tannit— Tania continued. —I am the patron goddess of the now-vanished city of Carthage—

—Its citizens made human sacrifices, especially children, to honor me, and in a fit of rage, I allowed my city to be razed by Rome, and its citizens were massacred or enslaved. That's my sin, and the sin I'll bear until I die— she concluded.

Everyone stared at Tania in astonishment. Ana, Epona, and Anpiel, who already knew about Tania's past, were surprised she was willing to talk about it. The others were shocked by the goddess's actions in the past. Rodrigo had learned only a few details and didn't know the full story.

—I also don't want to hide the fact that my father is Elyon, though I never met him. I also don't want to hide that, through my dreams, my sister Baalat made me choose between my current city, Ibiza, and Rodrigo; and I, selfishly, chose my city, almost killing a close friend in the process. This is, once again, my sin— Tania continued, touching the scar on her cheek.

Tania looked at everyone, who wore expressions of uncertainty and nervousness in response to her words.

—I understand that you may not be ready to share about your past with the group immediately, but please consider it— Tania commented, then sat down.

—My full name is Tu'ul-Uj— Tul began telling as she stood.

—I'm one of the rabbits of the goddess Ixchel in Mayapán, and that's been my only life. I'm sure my kaansaj must have already replaced me. I dreamed that my master's new rabbit devoured me— After explaining, the rabbit goddess sat back down.

—My full name is Susanoo-no-Mikoto, and I was banished from my realm, Takama-no-hara, due to indecent behavior— said Susanoo as he rose.

—That's why I haven't drunk alcohol since coming to Earth. I dreamt that my sister urged me to murder Rodrigo in his sleep, to bring his tannin head back to my realm; but I resisted— the Oriental god continued before sitting down.

Ana then recalled the meaning of valor and her obligation to love all her companions. The goddess rose and swallowed hard.

—I... well, my name is Anand, and I'm Ernmas's daughter. I'm actually a triplet— Ana started, embarrassedly, rubbing her right arm with her left hand, her face as red as a cherry.

—Ana, you don't need to speak of this if you're not ready— Tania commented.

—I must! We're all a big family, and everyone deserves to know about my past, even if they judge me!— Ana exclaimed, standing tall as she continued her story.

Without omission, Ana shared her history, her life with her sisters, how she met the hero Cu-Cúchulainn, the war against the Formorians, and about her sisters and Dagda. The goddess was deeply embarrassed to talk about her time with Dagda, a topic that resonated with Freyja at that moment.

—I share all this because I want us to truly be a family. I love all of you for being part of my life, my dreams, and I know I can trust you with my future— Ana expressed.

The gods began to applaud Ana's words, bringing her immense relief, as she feared their judgment.

—What I dreamt about was related to...— Ana began, but Epona interrupted her. —Keep that a secret, Ana— the Celtic goddess said.

—But I must, Epona— Ana timidly insisted.

—Ana, we all know already. We know that you love Rodrigo a bit more than the rest of us— Epona continued.

Rodrigo was taken aback by these words and blushed deeply.

—But... I'd like to discuss that with you privately— Epona added, giving Ana a look that the Irish goddess couldn't determine whether it was of shame, sorrow, or sadness. But Ana understood Epona's message and apologized as she sat back down.

—Tania, I'm sorry, but I'd like to discuss my past at another time— Menrva stated.

—Everyone knows I killed Odin's son and was imprisoned for a thousand years—Loki remarked, still immobilized.

Freyja then rose. Her eyes were red from crying, though she denied it.

—I used to be an easy girl in Asgard and loved the hedonistic life— Freyja said. —My husband Odr traveled a lot and always held these types of parties in my palace. Coyote raped me in my dreams, and although I know it was an illusion, my body was damaged by the act and I would like... to be given a few days of rest so I can recover both physically and mentally—

Everyone could see that Freyja was not all right. Her body was trembling and her face was red. Such mannerisms were not typical of the Norse goddess, who was the most affected by Coyote's illusions. She always hid her weakness and continued forward, even when her totema was broken, the goddess had not wanted to give up. But for the first time, she seemed broken and asked for help.

—Of course, Freyja, we will rest in the next town we arrive at. We will leave until you recover— Tania commented with a conciliatory look.

Tul, Ana and Epona hugged the Nordic goddess, who did not stop giving thanks; and at that, the goddess burst into tears.

—Thank you to everyone who expressed her words— Tania commented as she stood up again.

—The reason I'm doing it is because it seems that, fighting Coyote, and from what we've learned on this trip, is that this universe is alive— she said.

—Is that what Speaking God said about the god Tawa?— Menrva asked in surprise.

—Yes, Coyote mentioned that Ana, Epona, and I have awakened some power from Tawa, that is, the universe— Tania replied.

—But it seems the conditions are still unknown. It could be about helping humans as individuals, but I also believe our bond and trust can create a union... a union akin to the universe— she explained.

—You've gotten quite mystical, Tania— Epona laughed.

—I apologize, but... that's what I believe right now, and I'd like to test my hypothesis— Tania added.

—Yes, I agree!— Tul replied, hopping energetically.

—I believe we're all moved by your words, Tania— Anpiel interrupted. —However, I think our priority should be to find a place to rest, especially since Ana's cabin and our provisions were destroyed—

Ana bowed her head, recalling the destruction of her cabin. She had purchased it in the British territories after saving up much money when she first began working for Lel. To assimilate into Irish society, when she was designated the grigori of Ireland, Ana took blacksmithing lessons and subsequently worked in a workshop forging and repairing armor and weapons. However, when rumors spread about the town's sole female blacksmith not aging, the goddess would fake her death and move to another city in the realm. She continued this for over three hundred years.

—Raven, can't you build one, like how you craft your weapons?— Epona asked, approaching her.

—I don't know anything about architecture. To learn to clone weapons, I had to learn blacksmithing— the Irish goddess replied somberly.

It wasn't just the house and the resources; it was also the memories that the cabin held for the goddess.

—Don't worry, Ana. You'll soon be able to buy another home, and this one will be filled with happier memories with all of us in it— Anpiel comforted the Irish goddess.

—Well, I had stored the ambrosia that Tul made in my pocket dimension, so we still have nine jars left— Ana mentioned, bringing relief to many. However, having only nine containers in unknown territories possibly filled with creatures as powerful as Coyote was indeed a concern.

—Well, let's try to find a village in this desert and hope no malevolent god attacks us in the meantime— Tania said, transforming herself into her manticore transformation in order to fly.

—Excuse me, Tania— Epona approached the Punic goddess and whispered, —Rodrigo is still not feeling well, so I don't think he can fly, but I'll gladly cover for him—

—Of course, Epona— Tania responded.

Tania, Ana, and Epona amplified their powers to fly. Together, they carried the other gods, flying over the surroundings searching for a village where they could rest.