Chapter 6:

Tania vs Ana

Elyon - Gods among us

—Alright, Rui. This will hurt a bit, so try to resist, okay?— Ana said as she approached Rodrigo with her sword in her left hand.

—OK, Ana— Rodrigo responded.

The young man thought Ana looked too cute and innocent to be considered a serious threat. However, as he was still thinking that, he saw his right arm disappear again, just like Tania had done when he first met her.

Ana was behind him, her sword unsheathed. She had made a clean cut, and Rodrigo hadn't even had time to defend himself. Pain and fear returned to the confused boy, who believed he had lost his arm forever and feared he would die.

But he remained conscious, and the blood emanating from his wound began to form strands, like a spiderweb, connecting back to his severed arm. And as several drops of blood merged, his arm returned and reattached itself to his body, healing the wound completely, leaving only a few bloodstains on his clothes as evidence of the cut.

—This is divine blood, Rui. It's called 'ichor'— Ana mentioned as she turned around and transformed her sword back into dark feathers, making it disappear completely.

—But how did my arm come back as if nothing happened?— Rodrigo asked, feeling a slight dizziness and placing his hand on his face.

—The bodies of the gods don't function the same way as humans— Ana commented as she approached Rodrigo.

—We, as long as we have a reserve of ichor in our veins, can heal our wounds, even if we're decapitated or torn into hundreds of pieces. However, any wound or blow, depending on its intensity, will deplete part of your ichor. When your reserves are very low, your wounds will stop healing, and you'll lose consciousness. If you're mortally wounded without ichor, you will die— she explained.

Ana then placed a finger on Rodrigo's forehead and tapped him. Although it seemed like an insignificant blow, Rodrigo was sent flying several feet, demolishing a wall of the cavern in the process.

—And it's a good thing I'm the brute— Tania said playfully.

Rodrigo felt his consciousness fading; he felt no energy in any part of his body. His arms and legs didn't respond.

—I'm going to die— he thought.

Quickly, Ana positioned herself next to him with a container that resembled a small golden tube. —Quick, drink this— she said as she emptied part of its contents into her injured disciple's mouth.

As if by magic, Rodrigo felt the energy returning to his body. The pain had completely disappeared, and his vision returned to normal.

—This is ambrosia— Ana said as she helped Rodrigo to stand up.

—When your ichor is in danger, ambrosia will replenish it instantly. If you don't have access to ambrosia, you'll have to wait for your body to naturally replenish ichor, but it can take several days, and if your wounds don't heal during that time, they will never heal. For example, if you lose an eye and don't have enough ichor for an extended period, you'll lose that eye forever— she explained.

Rodrigo stood up, still amazed by what had just happened.

—So, does this mean that a blow from your finger was enough to deplete my ichor?— he asked.

—Rui, you've never trained or learned to increase your ichor,—Ana said, smiling and placing her hand on his shoulder.

—Don't feel bad about it—

—As you train more and more, your ichor reserve will increase— the goddess said as she turned around and stood in front of Rodrigo once again.

—Well, now I want you to hit me with all your strength— Ana said as she raised her arms.

—I won't try to defend myself— she continued.

—Impossible, I can't hit girls— Rodrigo said in a tone that tried to sound chivalrous. He then heard Tania burst into laughter.

—This girl almost killed you with just one finger, and you think she's defenseless?— Tania said, amused, as she sat and watched the training.

—You're very sweet, Rui, but you can't cling to human customs. That attitude in the world of gods will lead you to death— Ana mentioned while keeping her arms raised.

—Goddesses are not like human women. A goddess of war could easily massacre hundreds of Igigi and Malakim in a matter of seconds—

—What would you do if a goddess came here and attacked you? Would you let yourself be killed just like that?— Tania asked, intrigued.

—Yes, I wouldn't attack her, I would only defend myself— Rodrigo replied, placing his fist on his chest and continuing with a tone he thought sounded heroic.

—You see? It's a lost cause— Tania said, wearing a bored expression as she rested her head on her left hand.

—No matter if you're an angel, goddess, or human. I could never raise my fist against a face as angelic as yours. A woman should not be touched, not even the tip of her hair— Rodrigo continued with a speech that seemed to be already memorized.

—Pathetic, don't you think, Ana?— Tania said, still looking bored.

But Ana blushed and had her mouth slightly open.

—That... was very sweet, Rui— she said.

—By Elyon, that's pathetic, Ana! It's the sappiest and most stereotypical thing I've ever heard. You're not a teenager anymore, you know?— Tania replied, shouting.

Rodrigo also blushed and tried to avert his gaze from Ana.

—Well, well— Ana responded, still blushing. —If you can't do it, I won't stand in your way—

"Grandma, come spar with me then— Ana said, turning to look at Tania.

"Grandma?" Tania replied, intrigued.

—Well, if I'm a teenager, then you're a decrepit old woman who needs a cane to walk— the dark-haired goddess responded with a mocking expression.

—Oh, really? Now you'll see what this old woman can do, brat— Tania said as she stood up.

Tania and Ana faced each other, while Rodrigo sat where Tania had been before.

—Alright, Rui. You've learned that ichor is our vitality, and now you need to learn about 'manna,' the source of our energy and magic— Ana said as she conjured a sword in her hand.

Tania also extended her right hand, growing her fiery nails and assuming a combat stance.

—My summoning of this sword and Tania's fire claw consume our manna. If we deplete it all in a fight, we won't be able to perform any tricks, so you mustn't spend it all at once and manage it wisely. Without it, you'll only be able to defend yourself with your fists and feet—

Tania and Ana lunged at each other. Ana attempted to strike Tania with her sword, but Tania stopped the attack with her bare fire hand. The collision created a massive shockwave that lifted part of the ground and sent Rodrigo flying.

Tania threw Ana using the momentum of her technique, and with her other hand also transformed into a fire claw, she attempted to attack Ana's head. However, Ana evaded the attack with difficulty. Using acrobatics, Ana distanced herself from Tania and got back into a combat stance.

Then, Tania started creating points of light at the tips of her nails and shouted:

The small points turned into giant fireballs, and Tania enveloped her sword in dark energy, swiftly cutting through each of them, except for the last one, which struck her and caused a massive explosion.

Ana fell to her knees, and Tania jumped towards her again, preparing the same attack. The five fireballs exploded directly on Ana, but as the smoke cleared from the explosion, Ana had created a shield to defend herself.

—Crág Duban!— Ana shouted, and she made the shield disappear. Quickly, she positioned herself as if preparing to race and launched herself, thrusting her sword towards Tania.

—Beanna pollta!— she shouted as she advanced like an arrow so fast that Rodrigo couldn't see her. Behind her, the image of a raven appeared.

However, Tania managed to stop Ana's attack by using both her hands engulfed in fire and threw her towards one of the cave walls, which crumbled upon impact. Ana's body continued flying from the momentum and collided with the boundary wall of the dimension, causing Ana to spit blood.

But Ana wasn't defeated yet, and she used her collision with the dimensional wall to gather momentum.

—Beanna pollta— Ana shouted once again and lunged forward like a speeding arrow.

Tania tried to stop her again, but this time Ana was much faster. She pierced Tania's abdomen, traveling with her at astonishing speed, destroying the entire cavern in the process, until they reached the limit of the dimensional wall.

In the course of the attack, the Berber goddess ripped the sword out of her abdomen and brutally slammed Ana against the dimensional wall with all her might. Tania extended her two fire claws and shouted: —Uph-arimat Eshar—

In an instant, she delivered thousands of slashes, cruelly punishing Ana while she was tortured without being able to defend herself or escape, as she was trapped against the wall.

Ana appeared unconscious, and Tania then placed her claw behind her back and gathered an enormous amount of fiery power in it, impaling Ana's abdomen, leaving her crucified in front of the dimensional wall. Rodrigo, witnessing this, screamed desperately for the goddess to stop.

Tania withdrew her claw from Ana's body and turned her back, as Ana exploded into thousands of pieces.

—I won again— Tania said with a satisfied smile.

When Rodrigo managed to stand up amidst the brutal and destructive fight, he ran towards the falling fragments of Ana's body, reproaching Tania for killing his friend. Tania laughed.

To his surprise, Ana was still alive, kneeling on the ground, and the massive wounds caused by Tania's attack healed completely.

—Phew, phew. Don't worry, Rui— said the dark-haired goddess. —It would take more than that to kill me—

—With that attack, I lost a tenth of my icor— Ana said as she held Rodrigo's hand to get up. —At the same time, I only used one-hundredth of my mana to perform my techniques. The techniques we shout are the ones that consume the most, as they are our secret techniques— the dark-haired goddess continued, dusting off the combat debris.

—Now it's your turn, 'Rui'— Tania said sarcastically, mocking the nickname that Ana had given Rodrigo.

—Since Crowface is so soft towards you, I will make you unleash your abilities against me. Let's see if you don't try to attack me when I charge at you—

Tania swiftly moved her hand, creating a shockwave that threw Rodrigo several feet away, separating him from Ana, who was still trying to regain her energy.

—Phew. Don't kill him, Tania— Ana said as she stood up again.

—If he dies, it will be due to his own weakness!— Tania shouted, extending her two fire claws and assuming a combat stance.

—When I start fighting, my feline instincts can't be stopped until I hunt down my prey— Tania continued, licking her lips with her tongue.

Rodrigo felt cornered. —I'm going to die, I'm definitely going to die now. I'm sure of it— he thought.

Tania howled and moved so swiftly that she disappeared, leaving behind a line of fire where she had been standing. Rodrigo looked around frantically, but he couldn't see anything, until a fiery claw-shaped trail pierced his stomach, causing immense pain.

Driven by adrenaline, Rodrigo remained standing, trying to spot Tania, but it was impossible. Another attack, this time on his right shoulder, then on his left leg, then on his abdomen. Rodrigo was in shock.

—Attack me, or I'll bite your neck!— he heard the furious goddess shout as cuts appeared all over his body.

Then, Rodrigo remembered the same situation when he couldn't kill Almanzor, and he shouted in anger, channeling his strength and causing an earthquake. The energy made Tania jump backward before she could attack his neck, while Rodrigo, almost unconscious, looked into Tania's eyes with his green eyes filled with rage. Seeing them, Tania felt fear.

In a fit of fury, the apprentice raised his arm and created an energy ball that he intentionally missed, making a huge hole in the ruins of the cavern. The fire goddess was astonished.

—Did he succeed?— Ana asked as she made her way to the scene of the battle. But Rodrigo fell to the ground exhausted; he had depleted all his mana in that attack.

—Are you okay, Rui?— Ana asked as she helped Rodrigo to his feet.

Rodrigo, still breathing heavily, stood up with Ana's assistance.

—You did it, congratulations! Now you have to learn not to exhaust all your mana at once— the dark-haired goddess said.

Tania was still in shock until Ana spoke to her.

—I didn't trust your methods, but you did it! You're amazing!— Ana exclaimed.

—Yeah, it was nothing— the fire goddess replied, still lost in her gaze.

—I thought you were really going to kill him for a moment; I'm glad you held back in the end— Ana said as she helped Rodrigo walk and dissolved the dimensional barrier.

Tania remained silent for a moment.

—Those eyes, that thirst for blood... no, it's impossible— she thought, trying to push her fearful thoughts aside.

Rodrigo slept throughout the rest of the day.