Elyon - Gods among us
After flying all day over the vast desert that continued to stretch across the territory, where various tribes such as the Rarámuris lived; they finally began to see a bit more green in the mountains. Simple shrubs began to be replaced by pines and large trees, which gradually dominated the scene.
Wolves, coyotes, deer, turkeys, and even pumas - with which Rodrigo felt a certain familiarity, echoing the feline he saw in his dreams - roamed the mountainous scenarios of this region.
Tul mentioned that this region was good for collecting medicinal ingredients. Thanks to her, the members of Orniskem learned the names of the diverse flora that spread in the area. Peyote and maguey were among the plants from which the goddess took the most samples.
Vast grasslands stretched to the horizon when they finally seemed to leave behind the endless desert they had visited long ago, even before entering the city of Chaco. And although the grasslands still felt part of this arid climate, it was proof that new highly fertile areas, full of forests and lakes, were nearby, similar to the regions they had seen in the Great Lakes area or in Haida territories.
The sky was reddish as it was getting late, casting a characteristic ochre color over this region of large pastures. The gods had decided to move on a bit more before nightfall, but they began to detect human movements around them, and these seemed like warriors, unlike the Rarámuris.
—If I'm not mistaken, these must be Zacatecos— Tul said. —It's one of the seven Chichimeca kingdoms located north of the Toltec empire—
—Mina-san, do you want me to activate my stealth ability?— Susanoo asked.
—That would be most appropriate— Menrva replied. —If it's true that these people are born warriors, they likely won't let us pass peacefully—
Susanoo then raised his katana and invoked his ability, Mayonaka no u~ōkingu. All members of Orniskem were enveloped in a ghostly trail that prevented them from making noise or being seen by human eyes.
—Well, what a primitive technique to hide divine presences— Loki remarked mockingly.
—Do you have a better ability, Loki-san?— The Oriental god asked, a bit annoyed, while the rest of Orniskem's members gave the dark god a disdainful look.
Loki moved his hands and recited: —Sjónhverfing fjölkyngi—
This made the gods completely invisible, not only to human eyes but also to divine ones.
—I guess I've been able to get stronger in this region, so now I can use this ability without problems— the Nordic god commented.
All the gods could see each other, even though there was a kind of ghostly aura emanating from their backs.
—Alright, let's fly out of here— Ana commented, creating a huge bronze shield tied with a couple of chains using her power of material construction.
All members of Orniskem jumped onto the giant shield, while Ana, flying, carried them using the chain. This way, they could take turns flying and move faster.
From the sky, the gods could see several archers hiding in the grasslands and behind the trees in the region's forests. The men walked completely naked with their faces painted red and a set of red and yellow feathers on their backs.
—I got the feeling they had already detected us, and now they're looking for us— Anpiel said, noticing the way the men moved.
—Well, we avoided a problem at least— Ana said cheerily as she continued to fly south, crossing the vast grasslands of the region.
At that moment, the bronze shield began to feel scorching hot, causing the gods to react strangely. Ana, looking towards the setting sun, felt her eyes drying up from the intense heat.
—What's happening?— Tania asked. —This sensation of heat is very similar to when I fought against the king of Cahokia in that sun— she recalled.
Suddenly, Ana screamed in agony as the chain, with which she was carrying the gods, glowed red-hot and melted completely, just like the gigantic bronze shield. The gods jumped off the molten metal as quickly as they could, but Ana had her left shoulder burned.
The giant chunk of metal fell to the ground, where it dissipated like dark energy. Injured from the burn, Ana lost balance and fell from the sky, but Loki saved her before she could crash. All the other gods also landed on the ground, where they noticed the heat emanation had ceased.
—What was that?— Menrva asked, puzzled by the completely normal sky.
—It's as if there had been a heat barrier up top, possibly to prevent gods from flying over this place— Anpiel remarked.
Ana's wounds quickly healed, and she rose from Loki's arms, thanking the dark god for his assistance. —We'll need to proceed with caution— she stated.
—The outcome will be... cough cough... the same... cough— echoed a feeble and tired voice from a distance. This voice seemed to belong to an old man, over eighty years of age.
—There's someone here who can see us— Tania stated with annoyance, glaring at Loki, who claimed his ability was superior.
—But it's impossible they could've seen us— the dark god countered.
—Indeed, I can't... cough cough... see or feel you, but the heatwaves here tell me that there are unwanted visitors... cough cough— the weary voice reiterated.
—We haven't come for a fight— Anpiel assured in a conciliatory manner. —We just wish to pass through to reach Tula—
—It's a pity... cough cough... because not always do foreign gods reach to our lands with the full intention of being willingly sacrificed— the mysterious voice spoke.
—Willingly?— Tania asked in surprise, as at that moment, an unbearable heat began surrounding them. Although it affected only the gods, because the ground seemed unscathed.
—It's impossible! This heat is incredibly intense!— Menrva exclaimed.
—We'll have to fight!— Tania cried out, being the one most able to withstand the intense heat. She stood and began trying to pinpoint the voice's origin, possibly from an elderly man.
—Tania, he's to your left, atop one of those mountains!— Loki mentioned, hunched over on the ground. Being of icy nature, the heat affected him profoundly. His ability to keep them invisible had also faded.
Tania then donned her totema, transforming into a manticore and shooting a fireball toward the location Loki had indicated. An explosion shattered the mountain's top.
The Punic goddess started absorbing the heat energy surrounding them. On closer inspection, it looked like a translucent fireball. With her energy, she eventually made it vanish. However, where the explosion had taken place, only smoke remained. Emerging from the smoke column, a man enveloped in that fiery energy, in the form of a sphere, floated in mid-air.
—It seems you're stronger than your companions... cough cough— the man said. On closer observation by Tania, he appeared repulsive.
The god's yellowish skin was covered in pus-filled sores. The deity's figure was hunched and almost skeletal, leading the goddess to believe he was elderly. However, his hair was not gray but a greenish-black, albeit unkempt and tangled. A horrifying jade mask concealed the deity's face. Not only were there marks of possibly syphilis, but there were also several cuts on the skin, as if they had been made by knives; and the worst thing was that it had bite marks too. Some of her fingers were missing, which seemed to be torn off. Beyond that, the deity wore a crest of red feathers, a jaguar cape, and a loincloth, all dirty and ragged.
The deity then took an obsidian knife and cut off part of his arm in a kind of religious ecstasy. —Sacrifice is the only way to meet God— the man commented as he floated in front of the Punic goddess. The other gods of Orniskem stood up, put on their totemas, and stared at him.
The man eyed Rodrigo's totema and only made a mocking grimace. —I assume... cough cough... you're not Ehécatl, but you carry his very teotonli— the repulsive god commented.
—Do you know the person who owns this totema?— Rodrigo asked.
—That's one more reason to have to kill you right here... cough cough... before my lord sees you— the god replied, raising his hand. His few fingers, full of sores and long nails, pointed at Rodrigo, who began to feel his heart suffering a cardiac arrest.
—What's happening to you, Rodrigo?!— Epona exclaimed in fear. Ana also rushed to him, seeing the young man's agonizing look.
—It's a cardiac arrest!— Epona shouted and began to stimulate his heart, but nothing happened. Rodrigo seemed to be suffocating.
—Rui, hold on!— Ana yelled as she also massaged his heart, while Tul rushed with some medicinal herbs. However, Menrva walked past him, and with her lance, she launched an electric shock at the young man, causing his heart to beat again.
—What did you do to Rodrigo?— Menrva asked furiously.
With his emaciated fingers, the horrible god pointed at Menrva, who, at that moment, began to lose her sight and hearing.
—I can generate any disease I want in my victims— the man said.
While Freyja and Susanoo attended to Menrva, Tul managed to make Rodrigo regain consciousness using fragrant medicinal herbs. Rodrigo watched as Tul ran to tend to Menrva and then stared fixedly at the terrible god.
—What is that in his body?— Rodrigo asked, feeling disgusted.
—It's nanahua, a disease that causes those horrible sores— Tul commented, also with a surprised expression as he administered drops to the Etruscan goddess's eyes.
—In fact, I am known as Nanahuatzin, or the little syphilitic one— the man said.
—This venereal disease causes me great pain that brings me closer and closer to God— he continued commenting, as he once again took a knife and made himself another cut.
Drops of blood fell to the ground, which the gods prevented, assuming that his illness could be spread.
Menrva got up after regaining her sight thanks to Tul's care. He thanked the rabbit goddess, and then, he looked at the god with a worrying look.
—How can we fight someone like that?— she asked herself.
—This guy is crazy— Epona commented, surprised as she saw how the god went into ecstasy every time he caused another cut on his body.
—But even so, we must get him out of the way if we want to pass— Tania commented. —The truth is, the guy doesn't seem reasonable— said the goddess.
—The only reason for life is suffering— the god commented as he continued to cut himself and his blood fell to the ground. —And you will know the same pleasure of self-sacrifice—
At that moment, the blood began to emit a yellowish smoke that enveloped all the gods. —Teokokolistli— the god said, as they all began to suffer grotesque deformities in their bodies.
—Pain is the only path to salvation— the man continued in a chant.
—Suffer, cry. This will bring you closer and closer to perfection!—he yelled ecstatically.
Everyone's heads began to expand, and some limbs did likewise. Their hands and feet grotesquely deformed, and they could do little to ward off the attack as the pain left them almost immobile. But Tul, using all his strength, took a potion from his bag and threw it into the sky. Once it had risen high enough, the vessel shattered, and a purifying rain fell upon everyone, reversing the effects of the gigantism.
The goddess then said: —Kili'ich ja'—. All members of Orniskem were healed after Nanahuatzin's attack, leaving him stunned.
—My sacred water can cure most diseases caused by viruses or bacteria that affect divine beings— Tul declared, looking smugly at the syphilis-riddled god.
—You filthy rabbit, how dare you prevent your own salvation?— Nanahuatzin raged.
Without hesitation, Loki teleported behind the god with an ice lance to impale him. However, before he could act, he became petrified, frozen like a statue behind the Chichimeca god.
Seeing this, Rodrigo lunged at the fearsome god, opening his fifth chakra; but before he could land a blow, the world around him shifted. Nanahuatzin intoned: —Kalatl akualitilistli—
Suddenly, Rodrigo found himself transformed into a frog, plummeting to the ground, helpless.
Tul raced towards the frog-transformed Rodrigo, intending to save and cure him, but Nanahuatzin, realizing she was the main healer, planned to get rid of her.
With a wave of his hand, he uttered: —Nekokolistli— Pain gripped Tul's abdomen, forcing her to her knees with a scream.
Enraged, Tania caught the falling Rodrigo and charged at the sickly god. But with another gesture, he declared: —Temostli—
A yellowish mist erupted from the god's hand, enveloping Tania. She felt her body deteriorate from within, but she didn't halt her attack, slashing the diseased god with her claw. However, the hand she used became coated with the god's blood, infecting Tania with the same syphilis that plagued him. She watched in horror as her arm began to fill with sores and pus.
Horrified, Tania tore off her arm and destroyed it, but it didn't work because the sores continued to spread over her body. At that moment, Tania saw that her arm was not regrowing, and she began to vomit. Her skin turned yellow, and her eyes red. Her temperature shot up, and the goddess collapsed, victim to dizziness, as her entire body began to suffer both from the plague invoked by Nanahuatzin and the syphilis she had contracted.
Ana, wielding her sword Gram, also lunged at Nanahuatzin, but the green smoke of the plague released by the god remained present, affecting the Irish goddess before she could strike.
—Don't attack him up close!— shouted Anpiel.
—But we have to rescue Tania and Ana! And also cure Rodrigo!— yelled Epona, as she took on her reaper form and summoned her scythe.
Tul, who was being attended to by Susanoo, tried to use another of her vials of holy water, but the pain was so intense that the rabbit goddess could only scream as if her body was tearing itself apart from within.
Nanahuatzin then said: —Tonatitlamanalistli—
Again, the god enclosed all members of Orniskem in a fire sphere, while the epidemic from Tania and Ana spread among them all. Epona, though she had become immune to diseases, discovered that under this transformation, she was especially vulnerable to fire and dropped to her knees.
Rodrigo, who had been transformed into a frog, could not withstand the heat and cooked alive, and no one present could prevent it, despite Epona's attempts to rescue him.
—He's too powerful— Menrva whispered, almost drained by the deity's simultaneous attacks.
—Now... cough... you will become the light of a new dawn— the god said, his voice almost breaking into a sob.
—Relish the agony of becoming God's essence!— he shouted excitedly.
At that moment, the fire sphere was split in half, freeing everyone from the attack. Susanoo had his sword drawn and wore a look of seriousness, even anger, at what had transpired. The Oriental god stood up as a kind of cloud, similar to vapor, swirled around his body.
—Impossible... cough... you shouldn't be able to move— remarked Nanahuatzin, stunned as he saw the Oriental god standing, looking at him with a determined gaze.
—If something is liquid, I can control it as if it were a limb of mine— the god explained, making the cloud swirling around him expand to envelope all his companions. They began to feel better, and their disease symptoms started to fade.
—How did you achieve this, yuum?— Tul asked the eastern god, surprised as she slowly got back up after the intense pain she felt as if her belly was bursting.
Susanoo offered his hand to help the rabbit goddess up, which she accepted, still looking surprised.
—I simply turned the fluid from your magical elixir into vapor to protect us from that man's diseases, my dear kawaii Tul-chan— Susanoo replied, helping the rabbit goddess up.
Nanahuatzin quickly summoned more plagues from his hand, prompting Susanoo to energetically instruct the rabbit goddess to throw more health potions into the air. She obeyed, throwing three full flasks, which Susanoo split with his katana, turning the liquid into vapor. The virulent plague from the Chichimeca god couldn't get past the magical medicine of the rabbit goddess.
All members of Orniskem, except for Rodrigo and Loki, stood up with a determined look, ready to defeat the opponent before them.
—How cowardly can you be, using viruses and bacteria to attack us instead of facing us with your strength?— questioned the Oriental god.
—But thanks to our great physician Tul, we can overcome your dirty tricks— Tania added with a sarcastic smile.
—A physician? That bunny?— Nanahuatzin queried.
—Ah, I see she's a deity from Mayapán, how peculiar— he remarked.
Tul had a serious look, contrary to her usually cheerful demeanor. It seemed that something about her was deeply affected by the Chichimeca god's words.
—I heard that a worthless little bunny tried to cross our realms but was captured by the Caxcanes and sent to Mississippi as a slave— the syphilis-ridden god commented. —And now, you intend to return for us to teach you another lesson?— he asked.
—Such wicked people you are!— Tul shouted angrily, but Nanahuatzin threw a ball of energy at her.
Susanoo quickly deflected the attack and stood in front of the goddess.
—Yuum bo'otik, yumm Susanoo— said the surprised rabbit goddess.
—Tul-chan, I need one of your potions to cure diseases— Susanoo remarked without turning to face her.
—Did that attack affect you?— asked the rabbit goddess as she handed him a vial containing the panacea.
Susanoo then broke the vial, enveloping his body in a mist formed by the medicine.
—No, Tul-chan— Susanoo replied. —I simply need it to kill that disgusting creature and prevent him from infecting me with one of his foolish diseases—
—Oh, it's good you're seeking God's grace by self-sacrificing and fighting against me— commented Nanahuatzin.
—Self-sacrificing? No, I'm going to cut you down because you insulted Tul-chan, bastard— retorted the god, pointing his katana at the deity.
—Wait a moment!— Epona shouted, trying to revive the frog-transformed Rodrigo. —We also want to fight—
—Don't worry, Epona-chan— replied Susanoo. —Only I can avoid diseases this way, and also resist his heat attacks with my water ability—
—As much as I hate to admit it, he's right— said Menrva, frustrated.
Tul quickly attended to Rodrigo, reverting him to his original form with more medicine, but the boy's body had suffered severe damages, and he remained unconscious.
—Finish him!— everyone yelled, as the Oriental god lunged to slice Nanahuatzin, who continued cutting his own body in a sickening ecstasy.
Meanwhile, the fight was observed from a magic mirror by a man in the shadows. He sat on a throne and wore a mask of a black dog, completely covering his face.