Chapter 134:

Cum Romae, ut Romani faciunt fac

Elyon - Gods among us

The gods found the camp where the survivors of the Xochicalco massacre were taking refuge. When they saw their gods Tláloc and Xipe Tótec, they immediately bowed in reverence.

—You were saved thanks to our divine intervention, mere mortals— Xipe Tótec told the survivors, all of whom had their faces to the ground.

—We are not worthy of your words, great lords of Tollan— the peopke said to their gods. The members of Orniskem noticed that these people were trembling in fear before their deities.

Tláloc then pointed to the members of Orniskem. —Our allies lost a lot of blood in that brutal battle against the beast Tlaltecuhtli; so, when you return to your city, you must begin to make human sacrifices in our honor and theirs— the god said to the humans, who were shivering with fear.

Tul was translating what the Toltec gods were saying to their people. When Tania heard about the human sacrifices, she was furious and stomped the ground with great force, causing a crack in it. The eyes of the goddess emanated uncontrollable anger, and she clenched her teeth in rage.

—Do you have a problem?— Xipe Tótec asked the Punic goddess irritably.

—Force them to make human sacrifices, and I myself will tear off that head of yours and wear your skin— Tania shouted angrily.

The people who bowed to the Toltec gods began to retreat out of fear of Tania's immense power. Intense heat began to be felt throughout the area.

—Ch'úupal, please, calm down— Tul said, taking the Punic goddess's hand.

—Listen, woman— Tláloc said, turning to the goddess. —You're upsetting my people—

—Human sacrifices are a crime, you damn addicts!— Tania continued to shout furiously at the Toltec gods. —I swear, I'll tear both of your heads off— she said.

—Human sacrifices are a way for us to become stronger, woman!— Tláloc shouted back. —That has been the custom in this region since before I was born— he explained.

—Every life in this world is precious— Tania continued to argue, and then she approached Tláloc wearing her totema. The furious goddess grabbed him by the neck.

—Lord Tláloc— one of the surviving women said. —Please, protect us from that demon woman—

Tul tried to get closer to Tania to calm her down, but the goddess began to emanate fire from her body, causing the rabbit goddess to hesitate.

—No, woman; not all lives are precious— Tláloc replied. —Human life is energy, and we gods consume it. It's part of nature itself— the god said.

Xipe Tótec, furious, also drew an obsidian knife and approached the Punic goddess with rage. Tania looked at him disdainfully.

—Tania, wait— said Loki, placing his hand on the goddess's shoulder. Although it burned, the god protected himself with ice on his hand.

Then, Loki whispered to the goddess: —Cum Romae, ut Romani faciunt fac—

Tania was silent for a moment. She turned to look at the people, who were terrified, bowing before their gods, believing that a divine battle would be unleashed in front of them. Then she looked at Tul, who was concerned, seeing that Tania couldn't control her anger.

—I... I apologize— said Tania, releasing Tláloc, and she turned halfway to approach Tul.

—Listen, woman— said Tláloc as Tania turned away. —Humans need to eat, so they kill turkeys and deer for food; or they pull living tubers out of the ground to eat potatoes and jicamas. Gods, in addition to that, can feed on their blood. It's part of nature itself— the god said.

—Your name is Tláloc, right?— Tania asked and then looked at him with teary and tired eyes. —Have you ever lived with humans? Listened to their problems? Attended to their children? Healed their wounds? Helped in their fields?— The Punic goddess asked.

—No, I've never done that. I'm a god and I live in a different realm. Just as humans don't live with their turkeys or deer— Tláloc answered.

—You hold that bunny girl so tight— Xipe Tótec interrupted. —Has she told you how the Mayans throw children into cenotes as sacrifices to their rain god?—

Tania looked surprised at her companion, but Tul, ashamed, admitted that such things often happened in Mayapán. At that moment, Tania felt an emotional breakdown and didn't know what to say.

—I'm sorry, ch'úupal— Tul said apologetically to the goddess.

Tania knelt down to hug Tul. —It's not your fault, it's okay— the Punic goddess replied.

At that moment, Loki stepped in between the two groups and asked for calm.

—Tania— Loki said, —I know you hate me for causing a war and causing human sacrifices to help heal Father Odin. I admit that some time ago, I shared the worldview of these people—

Tania looked at the Nordic god while still hugging Tul.

—However, spending time with you, I found some importance in your words, in the way you see the world when you openly live with the human race— Loki continued. —It's clear you don't want the people who live with you to die and become part of your own blood— he added.

Tláloc and Xipe Tótec were thoughtful about that. Then, Loki looked at them intently.

—Do you not live in the same city as your humans, rather than living in the world where the gods live?— the Nordic god asked.

—We, the gods, live in a secluded area for gods called Tollan— Tláloc replied.

Loki then shrugged and made an indifferent face. —Then tear down that wall that divides the city of Tollan, and live among the humans so you can understand Tania's way of thinking— the god suggested.

The two Toltec gods looked at each other, making a disgusted face at the idea. To them, it was inconceivable. It was as if a human left their city or tribe to live among animals.

Loki then looked at Tania. —Ebony beauty, you must also understand that each region has cultures and customs that you may not like, but for them, that way of life is the only truth they know, and they will defend it religiously— the Nordic god said.

Tania bowed her head. She felt bad for having to accept such a condition.

—Your name is Tania, right?— Tláloc asked.

—The Toltecs... no, from the first empire, we have used human sacrifice to strengthen ourselves against foreign enemies— the blue god commented.

—Huitzilopochtli, Itzpapálotl... even that woman from the continent where you are from; they have become incredibly strong through human sacrifices— Xipe Tótec added irritably.

—How can we protect our lands if others practice such things? Answer me!— he asked.

Tania was silent for a moment.

—There is a way, my dear Toltec god— Loki said, —and you saw it just moments ago when we faced that horrible saggy-breasted monster—

—A different method?— Tláloc asked in surprise.

—Yes, while you believed that monster would kill us— the Nordic god said smugly, —we took advantage of it to break the barrier with that method—

Then, Loki looked at them intently and smiled. —But don't worry, only the two of us hadn't done it yet; meaning, any of my companions could kick your asses right now— he warned.

—Break the barrier?— Tláloc asked.

—Indeed— Loki continued.

—But obviously, it's a secret we won't share with a group of gods who wanted to sacrifice us to that beast. Did you think that would strengthen your power?— he asked.

Tláloc and Xipe Tótec uncomfortably remained silent.

—So that's what it was— Tania thought in surprise.

—Sacrifice this, sacrifice that— Loki commented. —I admit, I used to think the same; but I believe you need to mature and see the world. Especially, learn from those humans who see you as pack animals— he remarked.

Tláloc then bowed his head.

—I apologize for trying to sacrifice you to Tlaltecuhtli— he said. —I didn't think you could defeat her, considering Quetzalcóatl and Tezcatlipoca had a hard time defeating her— he explained.

—We knew that from the beginning— Loki said mockingly. —But we used it to become stronger ourselves and break the barrier. That's why we hid our inability to fly— he added.

—So, breaking the barrier means being able to fly in this continent with the anti-deity barrier?— Tláloc asked.

—That's right, and without shedding a drop of blood— Loki commented, putting his hands on his hips.

—We admit our mistake and our lack of vision— Tláloc finally said. —No one will be sacrificed in this city— he added.

Tania then stood up and tried to say something, but Loki signaled her to stop.

—Still— Tláloc continued, —we need help to recover Tollan from the Chichimecas—

—Then you'll have to negotiate with this beautiful redhead— Loki said, striking a pose as if presenting Tania.

The Punic goddess was surprised to see how Loki had prevented a military conflict between the Toltec gods and herself. Now, both groups were willing to listen to each other.

—Just... don't ask us to bow— Xipe Tótec commented. —Doing so in front of our humans would only backfire on us—

—I would never ask you to bow to me— Tania replied.

Tláloc and Tania looked at each other, and hesitating a bit, both gods shook hands.

—My group will face the Hummingbird god and recover your city for you— Tania said. —But my conditions will be the abolition of human sacrifice— she warned.

—Tania, we cannot comply with that demand because it is part of our culture— Tláloc replied.

—I've understood that now, Tláloc— Tania added.—But you can, little by little, change those customs and replace them with others—

—That will take some time, but I suppose we can try— replied Tláloc, turning to look at Xipe Tótec. The god did not seem pleased with the idea at all, but he decided to accept it because Tania and her group represented his last hope of reclaiming their city.

Tláloc then firmly grasped Tania's hand. —It's a deal then. And I commit that no human sacrifice will be made in our territories while you are here— said the Toltec god.

Tania smiled and replied, squeezing his hand even tighter. —Deal done then— she said.

After that, Tláloc communicated the new orders to the people. There was a certain joy when the god stated that there would be no human sacrifices in honor of him or Xipe Tótec. After all, only about 10% or 5% of the entire population of that great city had survived, and sacrificing their children would have been devastating.

—Sorry for not telling you about the cenotes— Tul apologized to Tania again.

—It's okay, Tul— said Tania.

—Where I come from, children were also sacrificed, but I hope to have taken the first step here to change the culture— Tania replied.

Both goddesses sat on the lush grass of that mountainous area. Tania was smiling because no life was lost in a human sacrifice that day, and they were able to save those people.

Loki then sat down next to the goddesses. —Tania, I want you to hear something I learned in my short life on Earth— said the Norse god.

The Punic goddess looked at Loki intriguingly.

—Do you know why the civil war started in Denmark?— asked the Norse god.

—Because you started it— Tania replied.

Loki began to laugh.

—I just accelerated something that was going to explode anyway— replied Loki.

The god then relaxed and stretched out his legs as he lay on the grass.

—The former king, Harald, converted to Christianity, and as Christian customs were not compatible with Norse customs, many people died refusing to convert to Christianity, and that was going to explode sooner or later— Loki began to tell his story.

—Yes, it's one of the ways Lel has spread Christianity— Tania replied, annoyed.

—You're wrong, ebony beauty— Loki said. —Harald wasn't manipulated by Elyon or Anath to do those things. He believed he was above the morality of the Norse people, and pursued them to force them to think like him— he explained.

Tania became thoughtful at that moment.

—While several Norse customs such as slavery or human sacrifice were part of Norse culture, there were also social elements, dances, and ancestral knowledge that were appreciated in those cultures; but Christians put all of that in a bag, highlighting the negative to justify the cultural genocide of an entire people— the Norse god continued.

Tania understood what Loki was trying to explain and lowered her head.

—Tania, even if you feel you are right on a moral or ethical issue, remember that every people have their own version of it— said Loki. —Forcing them is doing the same thing Harald did to his people. Every individual must come to ethical and moral conclusions on their own, without having to put a knife to their throat— he continued.

Tania smiled and looked at him intently. —Thank you— she said.

—I never expected to see your beautiful smile lighting up my life, so I assume that with this you will give me permission to woo Ana— he replied, laughing mockingly.

—Don't overstep with your permissions— Tania replied with an annoyed look. But in reality, the goddess had finally begun to appreciate that god who, little by little, was cleaning up his past.

—The light of Tawa?— Tania wondered.

After eating, and after Tul healed the wounded people of Xochicalco, the gods flew over the city and confirmed that, indeed, Tlaltecuhtli had been defeated by the combined attack of Tul and Loki, and was no longer a threat to the people. Fortunately, the town suffered no damage, thanks to the strange ability of the terrible monster to merge with the earth itself. So the residents joyfully returned to their great city. Although life would be complicated due to the vast number of people who had died, there was optimism on their faces.

—We must prevent that disgusting Itzpapálotl from making another one of these massacres as soon as possible— Tláloc commented.

Tania nodded as they all said goodbye to the great city and flew back to Xaltocan. She and her group met again with the rest of Orniskem in the royal palace of Xaltocan.

Menrva returned shortly after Tania, Tul, and Loki had left. She and the rest of the group had gone to various cities in the Otomí kingdom and defeated various monsters. Most of them returned at the same time at Xaltocan.

The sun was setting as Ana hugged Loki, telling him that she knew he would succeed as well. Tania had to accept the obvious: her friend had finally fallen in love with the Nordic god.

Susanoo congratulated Tul just as Freyja grabbed her by the waist and lifted her into the sky with excitement. —Congratulations, Tul!— the Nordic goddess shouted joyfully. Susanoo felt displaced by the affection of the Nordic goddess but didn't say anything due to his warrior's honor.

In the royal chamber, Otontecutli thanked the gods for cleansing the Otomí kingdom of the monsters sent from Tollan to attack them. He was so emotional that tears welled up in his eyes.

—The best thing would be to attack Tula tomorrow— Tania commented.

—Wait, Tania— Ana interrupted. —Rui hasn't returned from Cholollan yet—

—If Rodrigo joins us, we'll have a better chance of winning— Menrva interrupted.

—But how do we communicate with him?— Epona asked, looking worried.

At that moment, Tláloc interrupted the debating gods. —If he went to Cholollan, it's very likely that he met Tezcatlipoca and they're fighting right now— the blue god said.

—Darn it! We have to go stop them then— Epona said in agitation.

—I doubt our king would want to be interrupted— Xipe Tótec commented mockingly.

—No, Epona. Wait— Tania interrupted. —We have to believe that he will win and return here after meeting with Quet... Quel... well, that god—

—Quetzalcóatl— Anpiel corrected teasingly.

Tláloc and Xipe Tótec began to laugh when they saw that Tania couldn't pronounce the names in Nahuatl, which only made the deity blush.

—Anyway— she continued to explain. —I'm sure Rodrigo will return and join us in the battle— she said.

—Yes, I have faith in Rui—Ana said.

—And I do too— Epona added.

All the other gods nodded in agreement.

—Then, tomorrow we will head to Tula without fail, great Otontecutli— Menrva said to the Otomí god, and he nodded.

—Wait a moment— Tláloc interrupted. —Before you go to Tula, I would like you to pass the test of the 'Thirteen Skies— the blue god said.

Everyone looked at the Toltec god with uncertainty.