Chapter 136:

Tlalocan

Elyon - Gods among us


—Damn it, that Tania!— Ana exclaimed angrily when she realized that Tania hadn't teleported along with her, Menrva, and Tul.

—Don't be so hard on Tania— Menrva replied. —From what I've heard, she speaks several languages—

—That's why it surprises me that she can't say a few words in Nahuatl— Ana continued to complain frustratedly.

—Well, if she speaks Semitic and Latin languages, her tongue might be very accustomed to those sounds and might find it difficult to make new movements to speak— Menrva explained. —Think of it that way—

At that point, Tul stood in front of the Irish goddess and smiled.

—Don't worry, ch'úupal Ana; I'm sure she will come— Tul commented with a reassuring smile.

The three goddesses then began to walk through the sky they had arrived in. The deities were awestruck by the magnificent world around them. It was a vast forest with fruit trees in green, ocher, orange, and red shades; all lush.

A dirt path lay on the ground, indicating the path they should take, adorned with mushrooms and flowers where bees landed. The trees bore an abundance of fruits, such as guavas, nanches, avocados, tomatoes, and more.

The sky was dark with a blue-red hue; although no stars were visible, a gigantic moon could be seen. Despite the clear sky, a light rain was falling on the goddesses as they walked on the surface of that strange place.

—It's similar to the world where my kaansaj lives— Tul noted in awe.

Menrva stopped suddenly.

—What's wrong, Menrva?— Ana asked in confusion.

—Where are we supposed to go?— the Etruscan goddess asked.

—We can fly to get a better view of this world— Ana suggested.

Tul and Menrva nodded, and the three goddesses began to fly over the vast planet. They realized that there was a dimensional shield at the exosphere level.

—It seems we can't escape from this planet because of this shield— Menrva noted, touching the shield.

—We'll have to fly and find an exit— Ana said.

Tul looked down and saw that the endless forest was actually a huge continent connected by an extensive bridge to another continent.

—Look there— Tul pointed out. —There seem to be some lights on that other continent—

—Let's head over there— Ana proposed.

The three goddesses flew to the other continent and saw that it looked like a massive marsh, but there were various green and white temples and structures on its surface, as if it were a vast circular city. Moreover, rivers emanated from the central pyramid, which was larger than the other temples.

—I bet the ordeal is there— Menrva speculated.

The three goddesses descended onto the vast marshy island. There were countless bright blue frogs croaking in the region, as if made of precious stones, while colorful dragonflies buzzed around. On the lagoons and streams, a profusion of colorful flowers grew, while in their clear waters, fish and axolotls of varying hues swam, looking like living rainbows. Butterflies of various colors perched on the fruit bushes on the mainland.

—In this area, there's a very sweet fruity scent, even though it's a marsh— noted Menrva, taking in the surroundings. The goddesses couldn't resist plucking some of the fruits that grew on the bushes.

Ana picked some strawberries and tasted them; they were far sweeter than any that grew on Earth. Joy and satisfaction spread across her face as she savored them.

However, Menrva mistakenly grabbed some chilies. Before Tul could warn her, the goddess popped them into her mouth and immediately felt an intense burning sensation all over. Her face turned red, and she began to choke, looking at her companions in terror.

—Water!— Menrva gasped, her face a mask of panic.

Luckily, the swamp water was potable and tasted sweet. The Etruscan goddess quickly alleviated her burning mouth, taking a deep sigh of relief afterward.

—You turned all shades of color, Menrva— Ana laughed, teasing her. Tul was also suppressing her giggles.

—Let's keep moving and not get sidetracked— said a blushing Menrva, trying to change the subject.

The three goddesses finally entered the exquisite city with massive green buildings, reminiscent of emerald and jade. Rivers flowed from its opulent streets, bordering every road. Though the city was massive, it was eerily vacant. The bright buildings, covered in seaweed and corals, felt empty and dead. There was no hum of insect or sign of life.

—Hello? We're here for the ordeal!— Ana called out but received no response.

—I think we should head to the central pyramid we saw from the sky— Ana suggested.

—I just hope it's not a trap— Menrva said, sounding frustrated.

The goddesses began to fly low over the ghostly city and eventually arrived at the enormous pyramid. At its top was a blue face with terrifying fangs. Covering the face's eyes were serpents that looked like eyeglasses.

—Don't tell me this is that Tlaloc's realm— Ana said. —That face looks just like his ugly helmet—

Unlike the other structures, the pyramid gleamed as if made of lapis lazuli. Crystal-clear rivers sprung from its grand staircases. At the main staircase's base were statues of two giant blue frogs with red eyes, seemingly staring intently at the goddesses.

—Hello, anyone home? We're here for the Ordeal!— Ana continued to shout.

—Welcome to the first sky. This is Tlalocan, the realm of the god Tlaloc and the first world of Ilhuicatl Iohtlatoquiliz— a woman's voice echoed from inside the pyramid.

—Who are you?— Menrva asked as the three goddesses watched a woman surf down the pyramid's staircase on a jade and feather board.

The goddess gracefully landed, holding her pose for a moment before greeting the trio.

—So, you're here for the ordeal?— the woman asked with a radiant smile. —It's been a while since anyone came for it, as no one's been able to pass. That's why it was so strange to me— she added.

The woman was breathtakingly beautiful. Tall, with tan skin and almond-shaped eyes, her blue-tinted hair was adorned with seashells and marine snails. Her blue eyes mirrored the hue of water. The goddess was adorned with an intricately crafted headdress of green feathers. A necklace of precious stones in blue and white covered her bare chest, while she wore a long skirt made of jade, so shiny it acted like a mirror. The skirt had an opening on the left, and its rear flowed like a water body, resembling a river when touched.

—Yes, we've come for the ordeal on Tláloc's recommendation— Menrva commented.

Upon hearing this, the woman turned pale and began trembling in fear, as if Menrva's words had scared her.

—Has something gone wrong between those two gods?— Ana wondered.

—What's the matter?— Menrva inquired.

—Oh no!— the woman exclaimed. —I did it again!—

The three goddesses looked at her, concerned, trying to understand what the issue was.

—They asked who I was, and I didn't introduce myself... such a lack of manners!— the goddess lamented.

The three goddesses regarded the peculiar goddess with a mixture of curiosity and confusion.

—My name is Chalchiuhtlicue, and I am the queen of this place, along with Tláloc— she finally introduced herself.

—We are Menrva, Ana, and Tul. Nice to meet you!— Menrva said, giving a slight bow.

—I hope you can forgive me! Sometimes, I get lost in my own conversations, ignoring other people's questions— the goddess apologized.

—No worries— Menrva replied reassuringly. —If you could tell us about the ordeal, we'd greatly appreciate it—

—Well, as you can see, this realm used to be a very beautiful place, but it's now empty due to the restrictions imposed after the fall of Teotihuacán— the sea goddess continued, completely sidestepping Menrva's question. —Our servants and the humans who lived here have all disappeared, leaving me all alone— she said, her expression growing melancholic.

—That... that's very sad, Miss Chal...— Menrva tried to address her by name but was unable to.

—But you'll be my new friends, won't you?— the sea goddess asked, leaning her face so close to Menrva's that she had to lean back to create some distance.

—Friends? Of course, but we'd like to know about the ordeal— Menrva replied, puzzled as she saw her companions shaking their heads in disagreement.

—Tláloc told me to stay here alone— the Toltec goddess continued, completely ignoring Menrva's question.

—I've been here, talking to myself, for over a century, or more... I'd say it's been about 38,791 days in total... but I haven't lost my sanity. Of course!— she continued with a somewhat unsettling smile.

—Miss Chalchiuhtlicue!— Tul shouted. —We'd love to chat with you again in the future, but we're in a hurry right now—

—Oh no! Did I do it again?— Chalchiuhtlicue exclaimed in fear. —I ignored your questions again!—

Menrva made a worried gesture. The mental state of this goddess was quite concerning.

Chalchiuhtlicue then became serious and pointed to the pyramid. —Up there is an illusion that represents Tláloc, the king of this realm. If you wish to fight him, you can, but if you want to move on to the next trial, you must enter a portal within that pyramid— she explained.

—Does that mean we don't have to face him if we don't want to?—Ana asked.

—Only if you can distract him, as that illusion has the task of protecting this place from intruders— Chalchiuhtlicue replied. —Before, people used to come in shifts to jump to other heavens and reach the thirteenth world without fighting. However, few could avoid facing at least one of the gods— she added.

—Thank you very much, Miss Chalchiuhtlicue— Tul responded.

Ana and Menrva felt embarrassed that they hadn't been able to say the goddess's name, even if they spend months with her.

—Are you leaving now, then?— Chalchiuhtlicue asked with disappointment. —Don't leave me alone, please!— she cried out, almost in tears.

—I'm sorry, but we're in a hurry— Menrva said, trying to distance herself from the Toltec goddess.

However, Chalchiuhtlicue used her water tail to attack the three goddesses like a whip. The attack hit all three of them.

—If you don't pass the ordeal, you'll have to stay here— the Toltec goddess said with an obsessive look. —So, I just need to defeat you to be my friends forever—

Ana, Menrva, and Tul were thrown against one of the structures in the huge courtyard, near the central pyramid. They got up without much difficulty.

—I'll take care of her— the Etruscan goddess said.

—Don't be too harsh on her, ch'úupal— Tul added. —I feel sorry for her—

—We're in a hurry, Tul, and we can't waste time here with this crazy gal— Menrva replied irritably.

The Maya goddess lowered her head and nodded.

—Tul, remember that your master is captured in Tula, and we need to rescue her as soon as possible— Menrva said as she put on her armor, fused with Bellona's, adopting the appearance of a Roman general.

—Will you stay with me then?— Chalchiuhtlicue asked.

—I'm sorry, but it will have to be another day— the Etruscan goddess said as she conjured a massive golden lance.

Chalchiuhtlicue launched another attack with the tail of her dress, but Menrva preempted it and struck the Toltec goddess's chest with a powerful blow from her lance. Chalchiuhtlicue convulsed with electrical shocks and fell unconscious.

—You defeated her in one blow, ch'úupal!— Tul exclaimed.

—Well done, Menrva!— Ana cheered.

However, Menrva reverted her totema to its normal state and looked at her hands with concern.

—What's wrong, ch'úupal?— Tul asked.

Menrva then turned to her two companions.

—Do you remember when Xólotl said that he wouldn't have been able to defeat the falcon god which Tania defeated in Cahokia?— she asked.

—Yes, I remember— Ana replied.

—I think our power already surpasses that of most of these gods— Menrva said disappointedly. —And if that's the case, it won't help us break through the barrier—

Ana and Tul pondered this. It was true; they had become very strong, but they had only fought in Vinland for just over a month. Outside the protective barrier, they were much stronger than most of their opponents. Even if their adversaries had become strong through human sacrifices, they had trained like crazy and pushed their bodies to the limit.

—Do you have any suggestions?— Ana asked.

—We could use the handcuffs like the ones they put on us in Cahokia and Chicomóztoc— Tul suggested.

—Wouldn't that put us at a disadvantage?— Ana asked worriedly, but Menrva smiled with great excitement.

—Do you have any of those handcuffs?— Menrva asked the rabbit goddess.

—I can create some with a special enchantment— Tul replied. —Only the gods can craft such artifacts—

—Wait a moment, Tul— Ana interjected, looking surprised. —Could you make arrows with that enchantment? We could shoot them at all our rivals and defeat them without any issues— she suggested with a wicked smile.

—Is it that simple?— Menrva asked, surprised.

—If it were possible, no one on this continent would fear invasion— Tul commented.

The rabbit goddess then explained that for the handcuffs and anti-divinity seals to work outside the barrier, the victims would have to undergo a ritual in which they were cursed with these devices and had almost all their ichor drained.

—Now I understand why Lel hasn't used this technology in our continent— Ana commented.

—So, these handcuffs are only an extension of the barrier's power?— Menrva asked.

Tul nodded her head.

—That barrier is fueled by the divine power of all the leaders on the continent— the Maya goddess replied. —Unless more than 80% of them were to die, the barrier would not disappear—

—I see, so without the barrier, these handcuffs are completely useless— Ana said, disappointed.

—Why are you trying to cheat?— Menrva asked.

—It's not cheating; it's to make our fight easier— Ana replied, somewhat annoyed.

—And you call yourself the goddess of war?— Menrva added, feeling disillusioned.

Ana pouted and didn't respond any further.

—Well, I'll enchant these three bracelets, so we can fight as if we were under the effects of the barrier— the rabbit goddess said as she took out three gold bracelets from her bag.

Tul drew some intricate symbols on the ground with chalk and placed the bracelets on top of them. Then, she began to chant in her native language. Meanwhile, Ana went to check on the unconscious Toltec goddess and tried to wake up her. Chalchiuhtlicue regained consciousness and panicked when she saw she was on Ana's lap.

—Are you feeling better?— Ana asked.

—I'm sorry! I didn't mean to attack you!— the Toltec goddess said nervously and quickly got up from Ana's lap.

—Don't worry about it— Ana reassured her.

—But still, you defeated me in a single blow. That has never happened to me before. Who are you?— the Toltec goddess asked, still frightened.

Ana then told her about themselves, their arrival in Vinland, and their mission to reach Tula.

—All of this is going to be very hard to digest— the Toltec goddess commented with a hint of sadness.

At that moment, the rabbit goddess shouted, —They're ready!—

—Excuse me for a moment— Ana said, and she and Menrva approached Tul to see the enchanted bracelets.

Menrva took one of the bracelets and put it on her right arm.

—I don't really feel anything— she said.

—Me neither— added Ana, who had also put the bracelet on her left arm.

—It's because I still need to perform the curse that allows these bracelets to draw power from the barrier. Plus, you'll need to lose almost all of your ichor— Tul explained.

—How do we deplete our ichor?— Menrva asked, puzzled.

—Do you want us to fight each other?— Ana asked.

—Just reduce your divine power to the minimum—Tul said with a sweet smile.

—Okay— both goddesses replied and relaxed their bodies to a minimum.

Tul then placed her hands forward and chanted: —Áak'abil yóok'ol kaab

A dark translucent sphere emanated from the Maya goddess's hands and slowly traveled towards the two goddesses. When the attack reached them, both felt excruciating pain. The dark energy dissipated, and they were left feeling very drained.

—This ability reduces ichor to a minimum, but it can only be used on very weak enemies or those who are sleeping or unprotected— Tul explained.

—You should have warned us it would hurt so much— Menrva commented, struggling to keep her balance on wobbly legs.

—You could have resisted; I'm sorry— Tul replied apologetically.

—Was that a dark ability?— Ana asked, puzzled.

—No, it's a sacred power— Tul confessed. —It's something known as the forbidden arts of sacred power or something like that—

Both goddesses then collapsed to the ground, right where Tul had drawn her chalk symbols.

—Okay, don't move from there. I'm going to curse you now—Tul said.

The rabbit goddess began repeating a mantra in Maya while sitting on her knees, raising her hands with her eyes closed.

After about five minutes, Tul said: —Done—

The goddesses felt their bodies heavy, but they couldn't tell if it was due to the bracelets or their lack of ichor. Tul then gave them a potion to help them regain their energy.

Upon recovering and making a disgusted face, the two goddesses finally confirmed that the bracelets were effective.

—I calibrated them to the level of the barrier; I hope it's okay— the Maya goddess said.

—That's fine, Tul— Ana replied.

Tul was about to put on her bracelet, but Menrva stopped her.

—We'll need one of us to not wear it and be able to remove them if necessary— the Etruscan goddess told Tul.

Tul nodded and put the bracelet in her bag.

—Are you both crazy?— Chalchiuhtlicue asked in fear when she saw both Menrva and Ana wearing anti-divinity bracelets. —Tláloc will kill you if you confront him!—

—Tell me, how big is the difference between your power and Tláloc's?— Menrva asked the Toltec goddess.

—He is slightly stronger than me— Chalchiuhtlicue confessed.

—Then it should be fine— Menrva replied, and she ran towards the pyramid.

—Don't worry, this is just training for us— Ana said to the Toltec goddess, and from there, she ran towards the pyramid.

— They are very strong, you'll see they'll win!— Tul said excitedly to Chalchiuhtlicue.

—I don't doubt they can, but those illusions are made using Tláloc's maximum power, and it lacks consciousness, which always limits our power— Chalchiuhtlicue replied.

Just then, a watery explosion emanated from the great pyramid. Both Ana and Menrva fell to the ground near where Tul and Chalchiuhtlicue were talking, cracking it. Then, Tláloc appeared floating while coming out of the large pyramid. The god looked similar to how he dressed on Earth, with his grotesque helmet shaped like a sea reptile, its mouth, which served for the god to show his face, was completely full of sharp fangs. He also wore greenish glasses which protected the god's eyes, and a headdress with green feathers. The attire of the Toltec water god consisted of an emerald-colored tunic with red touches at the bottom. In his right hand, he held a staff that looked like a tree branch with flowers, but it emanated electric shocks as if it were lightning.

—Run right now!— Chalchiuhtlicue shouted, and immediately, she stood up and ran from there; as Tláloc floated over the two goddesses lying on the ground.

—What happened?— Tul asked in surprise.

—He's stronger than we thought!— Menrva shouted as she quickly got up.
—If we don't beat him this way, our training will be for nothing— Ana commented, as she also got up and stared fixedly at the water god.

Tláloc then created a water frog in his left hand and threw it at the goddesses while shouting: —Xittontlalistli in Akalatl

The god dropped the frog on the goddesses, but Tul easily disintegrated it with her bare hand.

Tláloc began to laugh and created millions of frogs, filling the entire sky. Meanwhile, Chalchiuhtlicue, who was hiding behind one of the structures, watched the goddesses with concern.

—These women will only provoke that fake Tláloc to destroy this planet— she muttered to herself.

Tul was about to attack but was stopped by her companions.

—No, Tul, this is our fight— Menrva said, touching the rabbit goddess's shoulder.

Menrva transformed back into her Roman general totema, while Ana wielded Excalibur and manifested a white wing and a black wing from her back.

—We will stop this attack— Ana said, pointing her sword at Tláloc.

The millions of frogs began to merge, forming a gigantic blue frog floating in the sky. It was so large that it could easily cover the pyramid below it. Tláloc moved his arm downward, and the colossal amphibian plummeted towards the goddesses at full speed. They prepared their weapons to battle the monstrous creature.

At that moment, the frog exploded in the sky. When the goddesses turned, they saw Tania with her hand extended, in her manticoress transformation.

—This opponent is mine; you go to the next realm— Tania said.

—Fool!— Ana shouted. —You need to use one of Tul's bracelets to fight him—

Tania then showed her bracelet to the two goddesses. Tul stood beside Tania.

—Unlike you, I asked Tul to put this bracelet on me before coming here— the goddess said.

—Did you mean you flew here using the bracelet?— Ana asked nervously.

—In fact, I've been using the bracelet since our ballgame. I knew it could be the key to maximizing our power— Tania replied.

Ana and Menrva were surprised by Tania's determination.

—Alright, Tania— Ana said. —But even if you're very strong, we'll have to defeat this opponent together—

—Nah— Tania replied, shaking her head. —Since I met this guy, I've only thought about breaking that stupid reptile helmet of his—

—I assume it was something like hatred at first sight— Ana said, shaking her head.

—Alright, Tania— Menrva shouted to the Punic goddess. —We'll trust you with this!—

Tláloc then lunged with his electrified staff to attack the Orniskem goddesses, but Tania stopped him with her fire-covered claw. The impact was so powerful it sent Tania flying like a ball, and she landed in the swamp outside the city, creating a massive crater.

The enormous hole began to fill with water slowly, but Tania's body was no longer there. She suddenly appeared in the air in front of the Toltec god and headbutted him, sending him flying towards his own pyramid, destroying it instantly.

—Ch'úupal Tania! You are the strongest goddess there is, even stronger than my kaansaj!— Tul cheered.

—Tul! Let's trust Tania and go to the next realm!—Ana shouted. The rabbit goddess nodded.

At that moment, the three goddesses spotted Chalchiuhtlicue in hiding. —Hey, you— Menrva asked. —Where is the exit?—

—Oh, um, it was inside the temple of the pyramid that your friend just destroyed— Chalchiuhtlicue replied.

The three goddesses exchanged disappointed glances. —I'm definitely going to give that fool a beating— Ana said angrily, turning to look at Tania.

—Find Tláloc's idol and bring it to me!— the Toltec goddess shouted to Menrva and Ana. The two goddesses exchanged glances because they didn't know what the idol looked like.

Suddenly, Tul jumped out from among the ruins, holding the idol in her hands. —Look, I found it!— the rabbit goddess cheered.

At that moment, a wave of lightning bolts fell from the sky, pulverizing everything around them. Tláloc had summoned them while raising his staff, but Tania was enduring the attack in a defensive stance.

—Be careful, they're going to fall here too!— the Toltec goddess shouted. But just then, Menrva created a gigantic conical roof with her electrical power, preventing the thunderbolts from hitting where the goddesses were.

—Wow, thanks— Chalchiuhtlicue commented as she looked at the structure made of lightning, protecting her.

Tul arrived with the idol and handed it to the Toltec goddess. This anthropomorphic idol was small and bluish, with square shapes that represented the god Tláloc. It had the god's glasses and his jaw.

—Alright, I'll teleport you out of here so you can head to the next realm— Chalchiuhtlicue said, holding Tláloc's idol. —But first, you must promise me that you'll come back to visit me—

—Why don't you come with us?— Ana asked.

—Because I have to stay here to protect this planet, even though I don't know if it will survive the attacks of those two— the Toltec goddess said.

—Don't worry, Chalchiuhtlicue; I will definitely come back to see you again!— Tul said, jumping excitedly.

Ana smiled, seeing that Tul had readily accepted a Toltec deity.

—Yes, I promise too— Ana said, placing her hand on her chest.

The goddess Chalchiuhtlicue smiled and began to chant, holding the statue. Light appeared around the goddesses, and they disappeared while the battle between Tláloc and Tania continued.