Elyon - Gods among us
The dark sky of Chicomóztoc began to cloud over, and a lightning storm started throughout the region. The people looked nervously at this phenomenon, for they knew that a deadly confrontation between their king and another powerful god was about to take place. Would the sacred city withstand this conflict? No one knew for sure.
Menrva, Freyja, and Tul climbed the stands and met up with their companions, who were staring intently at the battle about to unfold.
Ehécatl made a hand gesture, and the bracelets preventing the gods from using their power broke.
—Rodrigo, I know you must have many questions right now, but I will take you to my lord so that he can clarify them all— the god said.
—How arrogant you are, Ehécatl!— Xólotl shouted. —I do not intend to let that bastard out of here either—
—Your reasoning makes no sense, Xólotl. I thought you wanted me— retorted the wind god, Ehécatl, as he gathered wind in his right hand. The wind dispersed, revealing a hook-shaped knife in the god's hand.
—A bastard with the same face as my brother or me?— shouted Xólotl. —It's clear that his very existence mocks my family, and I cannot allow such a thing to exist... especially when he seems to start using the power my brother sought— he concluded.
Xólotl, with his dark power in his left hand, conjured a huge staff with black and red feathers. At the top of the staff, a perpetual flame burned with great intensity.
—What are you implying?— asked Ehécatl as he lifted his hook and took an attacking stance.
—Isn't it obvious?— remarked Xólotl. —My brother surely found ways to clone himself or create homunculi; and I'm going to open that guy up to see what his secret is so I can use it too—
However, while still speaking, Ehécatl slashed Xólotl's chest with his hook. The wind god quickly appeared behind the Zacateco deity with his weapon drawn.
—Damn you!— shouted the Zacateco god, creating dark energy orbs with lightning.
—I've been training to kill you someday, and that time has come— Xólotl said, hurling the attack at the wind god.
But Ehécatl, using a kind of tornado around his body, dispersed the dark energy created by Xólotl without difficulty.
—Wind can only fan the flames!—shouted the Zacateco god, creating a massive fireball as he cried out: —Miktlantletl—
But Ehécatl, with the wind covering his body, captured the fireball and sent it to the sky, making it disappear.
—No matter what trick you use, Xólotl, you will never beat me— Ehécatl calmly stated. —Besides, remember what my primary ability was—
Ehécatl then vanished entirely. Not just him, his divine essence as well.
—Did he escape?— Epona wondered aloud.
—No, it's a kind of a very advanced wind ability— Susanoo explained in amazement. —He's literally just split into atomic structures all over the sky, making him impossible to attack or stop—
—I can't believe he was that powerful— Rodrigo mused, still in shock.
—You think I haven't devised a counter to your ability to become intangible?— Xólotl yelled, enveloping himself in dark energy as he bellowed: —Atlatoualotl—
The dark energy surrounding the Zacateco god erupted from him like fire, with dark lightning emanating from his body. To everyone's gaze, the god was using a vast amount of power.
—He has combined darkness, fire, and thunder into a single attack— Tania observed in amazement.
—It's noticeable that he's barely holding the power to balance three elements at once— the Etruscan goddess noted.
Xólotl began to laugh. —Go ahead, Ehécatl; try to break this dark barrier— he said confidently. —But when you do, your entire atomic structure will be torn apart— he warned.
However, at that moment, Xólotl's body began to explode in various parts, as if small explosions were emanating from within him. His entire body was shattered as a tornado emerged from his belly, and Ehécatl materialized once again.
—Forgive me, Xólotl, but I had already introduced atoms of mine into your body before you activated that technique— the god commented as Xólotl's body fell onto the ball court, unconscious and bathed in blood.
—It was impressive, and it didn't even cause damage to the city— Anpiel said, amazed.
—He's on a completely different level— Ana added, also looking astonished.
However, Tul had a look of annoyance and uncertainty, not fully trusting the Toltec gods.
Ehécatl descended from the sky and landed in front of Rodrigo, where he bowed. —Lord Rodrigo, we have spoken before, but I have not formally introduced myself to you and your friends— the wind god said. —My name is Ehécatl, and I am the servant of the great Quetzalcóatl— he introduced himself.
The man's eyes were silver, and his hair was bluish-green, quite long. His skin, although tan, shone as if it were oiled. The god was quite tall, almost two meters in height.
—Yes, I heard your voice when I was on Mars, but I haven't heard from you since. I assume you were the one who healed me back then— Rodrigo commented.
—Indeed, I was tasked by the great Quetzalcóatl to take you to his temple in Cholollan, to the south of here— the wind god explained.
—One moment, does that mean you've been with Rodrigo all along, since he wore your totema?— Epona asked.
—Indeed, since that day, I haven't stopped watching over him to protect him in case he needed my help— Ehécatl said, finishing his bow and looking at the horse goddess.
Epona blushed, and Ehécatl chuckled. —Don't worry, Lady Epona, I haven't witnessed your intimate moments. I'm not a pervert—
—So, you know our names as well?— Tania asked.
—Yes, Lady Tania. Since I found Rodrigo, I've heard your conversations as well. Thanks to my ability to turn into atoms, I've been able to stay hidden within the totema—
—One moment— Ana interjected, —Rui has been in dangerous situations, and you didn't help him—
—Actually, only three times: in the Dream Cavern, when facing Tezcatlipoca, and finally when you confronted Coyote— Ehécatl explained. —But you prevented me from intervening in the first two situations. Lady Tania saved you in the Dream Cavern just as I was about to intervene, and Lady Epona awakened him when facing Tezcatlipoca. With Coyote, it was more complicated because I couldn't intervene in the nightmare Rodrigo was experiencing. But you managed to wake him up, Lady Epona, and I'm grateful for that—
—So, you finally appeared when Xólotl was going to attack us again?— Menrva inquired.
—Indeed, Lady Menrva. I underestimated Xólotl's abilities in the first fight, but I couldn't wait for him to attack you again because you wouldn't have won— Ehécatl said, turning to Rodrigo. —Lord Rodrigo, is it okay if we head there immediately?— he asked.
—Before we go, why don't you talk about our past and my brother's in Puh?— a voice behind the gods interrupted. When they realized it, it was Xólotl, who, despite his injuries, had managed to reach the box where everyone was.
All the members of Orniskem were put on alert, but Xólotl raised his hand. —I don't intend to stop you anymore; I surrender— he said.
—The issue between Xólotl and me is personal, and it doesn't concern you— Ehécatl commented as he enveloped the Zacateco god in a tornado.
—Wait, there's no need to kill him!— Tania shouted angrily, but Rodrigo held her back.
—It's the same technique he used to heal me when he found me— Rodrigo explained, calming her down.
—I'm sorry I couldn't teach you this technique, Lord Rodrigo, but despite being a Venus, you don't have an affinity for healing techniques— Ehécatl said as he dissipated the tornado around Xólotl, and the god appeared completely healed.
—And then, why do you want to take Rodrigo to Cholollan?— Anpiel asked. —Besides, what does this Quetzalcóatl want with our friend?—
—As I mentioned— Xólotl interrupted, —it would be better to talk about our past when we lived in Puh, or as the Toltecs now call it: Teotihuacán—
—I think you're right— Ehécatl said, and with a wave of his hand, he created some fluffy clouds and placed them on the seats in the stands. —Please, lie down on them— the wind god said.
As Rodrigo and the others reclined on the fluffy clouds, they felt a great sense of relief washing over their bodies, as if the clouds were giving them a soothing massage.
—After the beatings we took in that game, this makes all my aches and pains melt away— Freyja commented with joy.
However, Tul was the only one who didn't sit down. The Mayan goddess continued to give Ehécatl a challenging look.
—Forgive me, Miss Tul, but I didn't come here to reopen old wounds between your kingdom and mine— Ehécatl said, a hint of sadness in his eyes as he looked at the rabbit goddess, who wore a defiant expression.
—I'd rather stay here and heal in my own way— Tul said as she sat down on the ground and began to take out medicine from her bag.
At that moment, Tania got up and hugged Tul. —Come with me, don't be a stubborn child— the Punic goddess told the Mayan goddess.
—Really, ch'úupal, I'm fine here— Tul replied, resisting Tania's efforts. However, Tania managed to drag her over to the cloud where she was lying down and settled her next to her.
—Remember, Tul, this journey is for all of us to break stigmas and resentments between us— Tania said. —I don't know what history you have with the gods of Tula, but he is someone who has helped Rodrigo up to this point, and we can trust him—
Tul took a deep breath and smiled at Tania. —Alright, ch'úupal, I'll stay here with you— she said.
Tania stroked her head affectionately and congratulated her on her excellent performance in the ball game.
The god Ehécatl also sat down on a fluffy cloud and joined his hands to begin talking about his history.
—Over 800 years ago, we began to govern the city of Puh, which was the most important city in the region— Ehécatl began to recount. Using his cloud powers, he created a model of what the city looked like back then.
—The city was an attempt to create a unified government among the various gods in this region. There were Nahua or Toltec gods, Otomi gods, Totonac gods, Zapotec gods, and Maya gods. The goal was to make peace with the different empires emerging in the region and create a global capital where each of us could discuss our needs as peoples in a civilized manner— Ehécatl continued to explain.
—I heard that Puh was the name the Maya gave to that city, and it was the name that stuck because it was the easiest for all the different ethnic groups to remember— Tul interjected.
—Indeed, Quetzalcóatl and I were born in that city and grew up there. My master was the son of one of the principal gods of the first great empire, so he was raised as a prince. I, on the other hand, always grew up as his butler, but we always had a relationship of friendship, not of master and servant— Ehécatl continued his story.
—But there's no utopia, and the Chichimeca realms, fearing Puh's great influence in the north, began making incursions to attack the gods' kingdom— Xólotl interrupted.
—In addition to that, there were power disputes among the different ethnic factions, which began ending in bloodshed— Ehécatl went on to explain.
Tul then closed her eyes and wore a frustrated expression.
—Miss Tul has every reason to be upset— Ehécatl commented. —Several Maya were killed by my people, the Nahua, out of jealousy for the progress this group continued to make—
—Some chieftains in Mayapán continue to make deals with Tula, claiming that these conflicts are a thing of the past. But many of us still carry these memories fresh in our hearts— Tul said, sounding very sad.
Tania embraced the rabbit goddess maternally, trying to comfort her.
—Taking advantage of the chaos within Puh, the queen of the Caxcanes, who ruled most of the Chichimeca realms, the fearsome goddess Itzpapálotl, was finally able to attack our city. So it was necessary to defend ourselves from her invasion— Ehécatl said.
—Yes, and that's when they decided to use Nanahuatzin and Tecuciztécatl as solar weapons to fight for our civilization. We call this event the Fourth Sun— Xólotl interjected.
—Fourth Sun?— Anpiel asked, puzzled.
—It's a term we use in these lands— Ehécatl explained. —When a civilization is about to come to a catastrophic end, that civilization defends itself by creating one or more sun gods through self-immolation or the genocide of an entire ethnic group—
—When I was in Cahokia, I faced off against the king of that region, and he, through thousands of human sacrifices, became a sun god— Tania interjected.
—You met the king of Cahokia?— Xólotl asked, surprised.
—Not only that... I defeated him— the Punic goddess stated.
—It can't be. If you weren't able to defeat me, it would be impossible for you to go up against a New Sun— Xólotl said, clearly surprised.
—That's because the fight was outside the barrier of this continent— Ehécatl commented. —Outside of here, this girl would tear you to pieces in three seconds—
Xólotl made a gesture of surprise but continued explaining the story.
—Nanahuatzin managed to become a New Sun by self-sacrifice, but Tecuciztécatl hesitated to jump into the fire, and his transformation was incomplete. So, as I was the first possible candidate if the sacrifice failed, Ehécatl tried to kill me— Xólotl said, annoyed, pointing at the Wind God.
—I was just following orders, Xólotl— Ehécatl responded. —No one would have known that you would chicken out and run off with our enemies—
—Does that justify the genocide you committed afterward to create, albeit failed, the second sun?— Xólotl asked.
Ehécatl looked at the ground with a pained expression. —That's why I can't take your life, Xólotl, because I am also a sinner due to the decisions of our former leader, the Second Feathered Serpent— he said.
—Did you know that Nanahuatzin was the son of Itzpapálotl, and they intended to use him to fight against his own mother?— Xólotl asked.
—We didn't know, but I understand why he chose to follow you— Ehécatl replied.
—Besides, it was the empire of Puh that began displacing the Chichimeca realms to the north, combined with a terrible climate change, it caused the perfect storm— Xólotl continued explaining. —The Chichimecas were forced to migrate, both to defend themselves from Puh and to survive the severe drought in the desert— he explained.
—Quetzalcóatl had reflected a lot on the crimes caused by the Second Feathered Serpent and had tried not to make the same mistakes— Ehécatl responded.
—Yes, I'm aware of that— Xólotl commented. —However, that doesn't mean I can forgive them, even if it's the blood of my own brother—
—Well then, what happened in the end to the city of Puh?— Rodrigo asked, puzzled.
—Puh fell, and its inhabitants scattered throughout the region— Ehécatl replied. —However, Quetzalcóatl decided to take in these invading Chichimeca peoples and create a new civilization based on principles similar to the great city of Puh. This is the realm of Tollan that you've heard so much about—
—Obviously, Itzpapálotl didn't agree, but they managed to drive her northward again, where she has been plotting revenge ever since— Xólotl said.
Then, the Zacateco god asked Rodrigo if he remembered the village he saw at the top of the pyramid above Tlacuitlapán. Rodrigo nodded.
—Those are the realms of the Caxcanes, and their queen is that Itzpapálotl woman, possibly the second most powerful deity on this continent. She grows stronger and stronger with massive human sacrifices and cannibalistic practices— Xólotl said.
—That's horrifying!— Tania exclaimed.
—At this moment, she sits as the regent of Tollan. That's why the great empire fell into her hands— Xólotl continued.
—Wait a minute, does that mean that this king of Tula is no longer the ruler of the Toltec empire?— Rodrigo asked again.
—Are you talking about Yayauhqui?— Ehécatl inquired.
—Yes, exactly— Rodrigo replied.
—No, in fact, no one knows his whereabouts— Xólotl said. —He, along with several Toltec gods, were exiled from Tula—
—As for Quetzalcóatl, Yayauhqui already explained it to you— Ehécatl added. —He became the king of the Toltecs and led the empire into a new golden age until foreign gods arrived and demanded his head, accusing him of being a serpent god—
—Yes, the king of Tula told me about that— Rodrigo said.
—In any case, Quetzalcóatl knew he was going to die, so he instructed me to find the person to whom he would pass on his legacy to be brought to the great pyramid of Cholollan— Ehécatl commented. —That has been my mission since I found you. But since I saw that you were also trying to reach this continent, I've let things flow naturally—
—So, does that mean we shouldn't enter Tula and just let Rodrigo go to that pyramid as you said?— Epona asked, with a hopeful look.
—Indeed, the matter of Tula shouldn't concern you— Ehécatl said.
—No, wait— Ana interjected.
—What's going on, Ana?— Menrva asked, surprised.
—When I was fighting Anath, she mentioned something about a king who would be placed in Tula. It would be a sort of puppet for Lel— Ana commented. —Was she referring to that Chichimeca goddess you mentioned?—
Ehécatl and Xólotl looked at each other and took a deep breath.
—Better not face him, he's very powerful, even by our standards— Xólotl commented.
—But we can't allow a puppet of Lel to establish a stronghold in this region— Tania responded. —We will try to break the barrier and confront him, no matter how strong he is—
—I want you to know that he's a deity who demands massive human sacrifices every day, justifying a war he had when he was a child, which left him severely injured— Ehécatl added. —Basically, he has been performing the New Sun ritual constantly—
—I think, for some reason, Anath chose him— Epona nervously commented.
—I agree with them, Tania. Let's help Rodrigo reach that pyramid and leave this place— Anpiel interjected. —After all, we still need to rescue Athena, and time is of the essence—
Menrva sighed. —I also want to leave this continent as soon as possible—
—And I want to return to Father Odin now that they're evacuating Yggdrassil— Freyja added.
Then Susanoo, hasty, stood up.
—Mina-san— Susanoo interrupted. —Don't you remember our mission on this continent?—
—To take Rodrigo to Tula and find Odin?— Epona asked.
—Iie, Epona-chan— the oriental god replied. —It's to become stronger. Only you, Rodrigo-san, Tania-san, and Ana-hime have partially broken the barrier—
—That's true; I still can't fly over this continent— Freyja said, embarrassed.
—We won't leave this continent until all of us have completely broken the barrier— Susanoo stated. —It's our duty, or else, we'll only be a hindrance in the upcoming battles—
—Are you implying that we should fight the new king of Tula?— Anpiel asked.
—Mochiron— Susanoo responded.
Immediately, the oriental god turned to Rodrigo. —Rodrigo-san, at the moment, you are possibly the strongest among us. Go to that pyramid and discover your past— Susanoo commented. —We will continue our journey to destroy the barrier in our own way—
—Thank you, Susanoo— Tania thought, feeling relieved. She couldn't help but wonder what would happen if this Itzpapálotl continued to reign over an empire as powerful as the Toltec. She thought of the crimes Heshuka had committed against her people and felt disgusted at the thought of allowing the same to happen in Tollan.
—I agree with Susanoo— Ana interjected. —Leaving a stronghold of Lel on this continent would be counterproductive for all of us—
—I will have to accept that too— Loki said, raising his hand. —Besides, I will accompany Ana to the ends of the earth if necessary—
Ana blushed and thanked the Norse god. Tania was becoming increasingly annoyed by her friend's attitude.
—My emotions blind me when making decisions— Menrva commented. —But I'll accept the challenge and make myself stronger— the goddess said, looking at the spear that Bellona had left behind in the form of an idol.
—As a war goddess, I accept the challenge too— Freyja added.
—What the hell! I accept going as well— Epona said, disappointed.
—I'll accompany you as well— Tul said excitedly.
—I must admit that even though you rarely speak, you know what this group needs, Susanoo— Anpiel commented, and then agreed to go to Tula.
—Before you go— Xólotl interrupted, —you won't be able to do much with such low power for those who haven't broken the barrier yet—
—We know, that's why we need to get stronger— Menrva responded.
—If you cross the Chichimeca realms and head southeast, you will reach the Otomi realms. You might be able to train there— Xólotl suggested. —I can't help you with your mission, being a Chichimeca king; I have to remain neutral, even though I didn't participate in Itzpapálotl's advance—
—The Otomi realms are on the way to the ancient city of Cholollan— Ehécatl added. —I will take you there, and from there, I will continue to guide Rodrigo further south—
—In fact, if you plan to invade Tula, it will be easier from the Otomi realms— Xólotl said.
—Before you go— Anpiel interrupted, —can you tell us something about the famous new king of Tula?—
—I don't think there's much you can know... you already know him— Xólotl responded.
—What do you mean?— Tania asked, puzzled.
—Well, the man you made friends with here in the stands, who forced me to spare your lives— Xólotl replied. —The Hummingbird god, Huitzilopochtli—
—Was that the god Huitzilopochtli?!— Tul exclaimed in shock.
—No, wait, someone as kind as him can't be an enemy— Ana replied.
—We don't know him well because he's a king from a distant land, but his reputation for strength is known even in the Mapuche realms in the south— Xólotl explained as he sat on his throne.
—I couldn't sense any trace of divine power in that individual— Tania commented.
—But we should have suspected he wasn't just anyone when he flew out of here— Anpiel added.
—But that's a good thing— Rodrigo interjected. —He might not be evil, and we might be able to negotiate with him—
—The problem then is— Tania continued, —if he's not the type of person who likes to rule, it's very likely that this Chichimeca goddess will do it for him—
—And as Xólotl mentioned, she could be a very cruel and ruthless queen— Anpiel explained.
—Indeed, that's true— Xólotl commented.
—On the other hand, Rodrigo— Tania continued explaining, —he may look like a kind person, but if he receives so much human blood from sacrifices to him, it's very possible he has developed a kind of addiction and could show his violent side at any moment—
—So, as a group, are you sure you want to face Itzpapálotl and Huitzilopochtli?— Ehécatl asked, staring at the members of Orniskem.
—We'll go and defeat them as a group— Menrva replied, and everyone nodded with determined looks.
—All right, then, let's fly to the Otomi realm immediately— Ehécatl said, and then the Toltec wind god disappeared once again.
Rodrigo's totema reappeared and returned to his neck. —Don't worry; I'll be here guiding you— the Toltec wind god's voice emanated from the totema.
Rodrigo nodded and looked at all his companions. —Shall we go then?— he asked. Everyone nodded.
Menrva turned to Xólotl. —We'll make you pay for what you did to us someday, but for now, we have a mission to accomplish. Goodbye—
Rodrigo glanced at Xólotl but said nothing. He still found it strange that there was someone with his exact face.
The gods then flew away in the same way they had moved so far, using a platform created with Ana's dark matter power, with Tania carrying her. Everyone received Ehécatl's instructions on how to reach the Otomi realms in their minds.
—Go ahead, defeat Itzpapálotl and Huitzilopochtli!— Xólotl said with a sinister smile. —That city will be mine when you leave it in a power vacuum— Then, the god began to laugh manically.