Chapter 108:

Menrva vs Bellona

Elyon - Gods among us

Menrva and Bellona looked at each other defiantly, both wearing their totemas and in their fighting stances.

Bellona's totema looked just as when they found her in Denendeh, a golden Roman helmet with red feathers on top, a shiny bronze armor, a red cape, and a short red skirt. The goddess gripped her chains tightly, while her left hand burned as if it were a torch.

—Freyja, don't get involved in this fight— the Etruscan goddess said to the Norse goddess. —I want to defeat her one on one—

—I wasn't purranning to. It would be cowardly to fight two against one— Freyja replied nonchalantly.

—However— Menrva continued, —I want you to attend to that injured boy over there. He's part of our group—

—Alright, altpurr we no longer have ambrosia— replied the somewhat startled Norse goddess.

—Just make sure he regains consciousness. He's a very strong boy— the Etruscan goddess added. Freyja nodded and jumped over to where Rodrigo was.

—You're not going to try to stop her?— Menrva asked Bellona.

—I'll take her offer and kill you first. I'll figure out how to defeat that girl later. With her broken totema, I doubt she'll be a problem for me— Bellona responded as chains began attaching to her arm.

Freyja then began to move Rodrigo, who was unconscious, but his icor had already sealed the wounds on his neck.

—Hey, boy. Wake up!— the blonde goddess said.

Rodrigo slowly opened his eyes and saw the near-perfect face of Freyja, with her golden curls and amber eyes. At that moment, the boy thought he was in heaven and that the goddess was an angel.

—I see, this must be Heaven, and you must be my guardian angel— Rodrigo commented, still in a trance.

—Eh?— the Norse goddess was taken aback.

Meanwhile, Bellona's chains came together to form a whip.

—There's no point in using my chains against you, knowing you can avoid it— Bellona said.

—No trick will help you defeat me— replied the Etruscan goddess.

Bellona then caressed her whip with her fiery hand, setting it ablaze. The goddess's eyes turned red, and a maniacal smile appeared on her face.

—Just one last warning— Bellona remarked. —I might... enjoy killing my victims excessively and act cruelly while doing so—

—I've met many like you— Menrva replied.

—Alright, if you have nothing more to say, then let's go!— shouted Bellona, launching a fiery whip attack at Menrva.

Bellona tried to slash the goddess's neck, but she dodged the attack. At the same time, the fire emanating from the whip created a mighty flaming pillar, forcing Freyja to grab Rodrigo and jump away. However, still in mid-air, Bellona prepared to finish Menrva, but the Etruscan goddess kicked the Roman goddess in the abdomen. Bellona's face distorted as she was thrown into the sky, vanishing from sight.

Menrva then adopted the same stance Athena had used against her. Similarly, she tried to bend her electric spear. A massive thunderstorm emanated from her body as she did. Just as Bellona's body became visible again, descending headfirst from the sky, Menrva swiftly slashed the air with her spear, shouting: —Nensa Lauchum - Unus Frontac

A giant electrical wave shot out, colliding with Bellona, darkening the sky. A huge rain of sparks fell on the earth as a white elliptical explosion emanated from the Roman goddess's body.

—Meownrva isn't purraying with her; she's fighting with everything— said Freyja, witnessing the powerful attack.

Then, a blushing Rodrigo asked the Norse goddess who she was.

—Meow a purriend of Ana and Epona. We came to rescue purr— the Norse goddess said. "Meow name is Freyja—

—Are they okay? Is Epona okay?— Rodrigo asked, grabbing the front of the goddess's cloak, which took her by surprise.

—They are...— Freyja started, recalling Epona's current state and how Ana was falling ill from caring for her. —..they're fine, but they stayed in a nearby town— the Norse goddess continued.
Rodrigo felt relief and lay down on the ground.

—Thank you very much. I feel better now— said the boy.

The light from the explosion dissipated, but no one had been hit by the attack. Menrva began searching everywhere for Bellona's body.

—Behind you!— shouted Rodrigo.

Suddenly, Bellona appeared behind Menrva like a shadow and launched an attack with her flaming whip, shouting: —Flammeum flagellum

But thanks to Rodrigo's warning, Menrva teleported away, and Bellona's attack missed, causing huge explosions nearby. As a result, stones violently rose around her.

—You're lucky your pet warned you about my attack— commented Bellona. —But I doubt it was enough—

Red spears made of apparent magma emanated from the ground as the goddess recited:
Claudi umbra—. These spears appeared precisely where the whip's explosions had struck.

The spear formation looked like a plant with leaves sprouting from the ground, like the henequen. One of the spears pierced the Etruscan goddess's stomach without her being able to dodge. After striking Menrva, the spears submerged back into the ground.

Menrva's nervous system completely paralyzed, and she could only watch as the Roman goddess approached and began to punish her with multiple whip strikes to her back.

Rodrigo grew furious and tried to get up, but Freyja stopped him.

—You can't interrpupt a fight between two purrsons, don't purr know how meowch it would humiliate her?— the Norse goddess replied irritably.

—That's right, Rodrigo. Enjoy watching your friend's final moments— Bellona remarked.

—By paralyzing her nervous system, her body will be unable to heal, so I'll have fun slicing her up— she explained.

—Wait, Bellona!— shouted Rodrigo.

—I know you're not a bad person, you do this only to protect your own. What does torturing Menrva have to do with that?— he asked.

—Oh, Rodrigo— Bellona replied.

—I forgot to tell you why I was exiled from Saturnia... I enjoyed this too much!— the Roman goddess shouted with a face of pleasure and madness as her crimson whip sliced deeply into the Etruscan goddess's back, tearing part of her totema.

Rodrigo was in shock from Bellona's words and felt he could neither act nor speak. He wanted to hit her, but it went against his principles. Though he had already broken them a while ago when they confronted Bellona upon leaving Denendeh.

Suddenly, an electric discharge emanated from Menrva's body, pushing the Roman goddess back. Menrva's heart started beating again, and she began to move. Menrva instantly ran toward Bellona, landing a powerful blow that knocked the Roman goddess to the ground, making her drop her whip.

—How can you move again?— Bellona asked, baffled.

—I sent an electric shock to my heart to reactivate it— Menrva replied breathlessly.

—You bitch, you almost killed me with that!— the Etruscan goddess yelled furiously.

Bellona, using telekinesis, drew her whip to her hand, and it reignited with flames. —Sanguinis sacrificium— she shouted, slashing her whip through the air. A line of fire traveled across the ground to Menrva, who easily dodged the attack by jumping, but Bellona was prepared. A ring of fire formed under Menrva, erupting into a towering fiery pillar that engulfed her.

—You fell for my traps again— Bellona smirked, when suddenly she was engulfed in a vast sea of flames.

The fire vanished from Menrva as she floated in the air with a mirror in front of her, chanting: —Malena Caperi

The Roman goddess recovered from the burns, rising to her feet as the flames died down. Menrva gracefully landed on the ground, looking at her smugly.

—Now, what will you do against my mirror, Bellona?— she inquired.

—I'll smash it with blows!— Bellona yelled and began attacking Menrva with her whip.
However, every attack Bellona made also injured her. But the goddess was so enraged and desperate that she continued trying to harm the Etruscan goddess, only damaging herself.

Walking slowly towards the goddess, Menrva raised her left hand and said: —Pulumchva Luri—. Electric sparks ruthlessly struck Bellona, destroying part of her totema, and she finally fell backward onto the ground.

The Etruscan goddess then placed the tip of her spear on the Roman goddess's neck. Bellona spat in Menrva's face, and the spittle landed on the Etruscan goddess's cheek.

Menrva wiped away Bellona's insult and subsequently asked the Roman goddess: —What will be your last words?—

But Bellona just began to laugh sinisterly, still glaring defiantly at Menrva.

—No, Menrva! You don't have to kill her!— shouted Rodrigo.

—I know she's evil, but killing is wrong, and we won't be any better than her if we do it— he continued pleading.

—We let her live once, and look at the situation we found you in— Menrva replied angrily.

—And I still don't know what happened to Susanoo and the others!— shouted the goddess, turning to Rodrigo.

Rodrigo wanted to protest further, but Freyja silenced him.

—Do purr believe someone with such sociopathic tendencies will change her ways?— asked Freyja, equally irritated.

—But wouldn't we be doing the same as her?— Rodrigo inquired.

—No— Menrva countered. —She kills for pleasure, and I do it to solve a problem that concerns everyone. There's a crucial difference—

—That's right, boy— Bellona chimed in. —If your friend doesn't kill me here, I won't stop hunting you until I've killed you all and presented your heads to Lel. No matter where you go or hide, I won't give up on my mission— she warned.

Rodrigo then chose to remain silent. He despised the idea, but he felt helpless.

—Though...— Bellona continued, —I doubt this is where I'll die—

In that instant, the goddess lashed out at Menrva, tying the whip around her neck.

—How did it get past her mirror?— Rodrigo wondered aloud.

—My spit gave me the answer— Bellona responded, pushing the Etruscan goddess down with her foot and standing up.

—Your mirror only deflects attacks with divine energy. If a weapon moves by human physics without using divine energy, it's impossible to deflect. You didn't realize I removed the flames from my whip and attacked normally; and since we're on this continent with energy suppressors, such a slow attack went unnoticed by your eyes— the Roman goddess explained.

Bellona then pulled Menrva with her whip, gushing blood from her neck, displaying her to Rodrigo and Freyja.

—Will you act or just watch your friend die?— she taunted.

Menrva tried to use electricity to free herself, but Bellona, having anticipated this, let go of the weapon and began using telekinesis to elevate the whip into the sky, strangling Menrva.

Freyja lowered her head, but then felt Rodrigo pushing past her, standing up.

—A knight always has to save the damsel in distress— he yelled defiantly.

—But it's their personal duel— Freyja retorted. Still, Rodrigo turned his back and began to walk away.

—I don't give a damn about their personal duels, just as you don't give a damn about the lives of your enemies. If I have principles, I'll follow them— Rodrigo declared.

Bellona then tried to pull the chain fast enough to behead Menrva, but she found her arm had been severed. Rodrigo held her arm in his hand, radiating immense sacred energy throughout his body, his hair levitating in response.

—I jmanaged to awaken the fifth chakra in Pallas— the young tannin revealed.

—But when we arrived here, I couldn't even activate the fourth. My fight with Sawiskera must have strengthened my power, or perhaps, unconsciously, I didn't want to achieve it in front of the girls— he admitted.

—He's not wearing his totema!— thought Bellona, increasingly worried, looking at the young man and his newfound power. Worse, her icor wasn't healing the wound Rodrigo had inflicted.

—Who is this guy?— Freyja wondered aloud, shocked.

—I'm just a human born in the Kingdom of León, and my mission is to protect my comrades when they're in danger— Rodrigo stated calmly.

Menrva removed the whip from her neck and looked at Rodrigo in awe, seeing his vast power increase. For the first time, the goddess felt insignificant compared to this young warrior's might. Athena's promise: A tannin that can use sacred powers.

Bellona screamed, slamming the ground: —Claudi umbra—. Red spears from the earth appeared once more. However, as they tried to pierce Rodrigo, they shattered.

Quatuor rubri equi mortis— Bellona shouted, raising her remaining hand, and a chariot drawn by four magma-like, red horses appeared before her. The chariot, too, was Roman-style, but entirely red in color.

The goddess climbed aboard the chariot and tried to run over Rodrigo, but the young man punched the illusion, causing it to explode in a flash of light. Bellona was hurled into the air and landed flat on her back.

—Forgive me, Rodrigo— she said in a choked, pleading voice. —Please don't kill me. I'll leave and not report this to Lel!—. The Roman goddess looked up at Rodrigo with tearful eyes.

But just as Rodrigo approached her, the goddess, using the wound Rodrigo had made when tearing off her arm, flung blood into the young tannin's eyes.

—I told you not to trust me, fool!— the goddess shouted.

Bellona then, using her blood, conjured a shield and a spear. Both looked like a combination of blood and magma. The goddess had a fiery gaze as she aimed her spear at Rodrigo, who was still trying to wipe the blood from his face.

Hasta discordiae— The mad Roman goddess screamed, hurling her spear at Rodrigo with telekinesis.

In the air, the weapon morphed into a massive column of magma with a pointed tip and sped toward Rodrigo. But Bellona wasn't yet satisfied. While her initial attack was in motion, the goddess threw her shield into the sky, subsequently creating a vast sphere of magma in her hand, which she also hurled, shouting: —Potestas odio

Both attacks collided with the young tannin, resulting in an atomic explosion that forced the three goddesses away. Only a crater remained, filled with still-boiling magma.

—How do you like that? Seems not a single atom of your disgusting presence remains, queery boy!— Bellona screamed maniacally, making an obscene gesture with her finger.

—Did she kill him?— Freyja asked nervously.

—No... she didn't even scratch him— Menrva replied, still in shock.

Then, Rodrigo appeared unharmed in front of Bellona, and without her being able to react, he forcefully pushed her chest with his open palm. Blood spewed from Bellona's mouth as she collapsed unconscious.

—When I met Tania, she ripped off my arm, and Ana nearly knocked me out with a single finger. I suppose the power gap between Bellona and me right now is the same as what existed between Ana and Tania back then— Rodrigo thought.

The young man then turned around.

—Menrva, I respect your decision, but I won't stain my hands with her blood. If you wish to kill her, do it yourself— Rodrigo commented, sitting on the ground and turning his back to Bellona's unconscious body.

Attacking a woman, allowing her to be killed, and feeling guilty for overshadowing Menrva with his power... that emotional burden was too heavy for Rodrigo.

Menrva, however, stood up with her spear and at full power, pierced Bellona's heart with a swift move, seeming to summon a powerful lightning bolt. The Roman goddess's body began to dissolve into a light of energy, leaving only a red and black spear embedded in the ground.
The spear resembled a Roman pilum, used for throwing at enemies, much like javelins. At its tip was an engraving of a flame, and it radiated intense heat.

—She's purrned into an idol— Freyja remarked.

—So, you want me to use your power, Bellona?— Menrva questioned, grabbing the spear. Suddenly, she felt all of Bellona's memories.

Menrva began experiencing every emotion the Roman goddess ever felt, of a misunderstood, isolated child. The loneliness and lack of friends led to her developing sociopathic and cynical views on life.

As a girl, she was forced into an arranged marriage with Mars, her own brother. She despised him touching her but couldn't resist. Human sacrifices made in her honor led to an addiction to human blood.

Menrva also saw Bellona's immense envy towards Lel and her nobility. Bellona's harsh life in Saturnia, worsened by her exile. She could only see the princess daughters of Elyon being feared and respected by the entire universe, while she only looked like a stray dog, without love or affection.

—I just want to die— she constantly thought.

Bellona never truly fought for anyone or anything, simply seeking a place to die, passing on her power to whoever defeated her. She was a deeply unhappy and misunderstood being.

—What a sad life, but not so different from many of us who were born in the world of gods. You just had bad luck, Bellona, in never finding support. If only you had trusted in Athena, I'm sure she would have helped you. But I can understand the pain you lived through, and I'll continue your legacy as if you had had a friend— Menrva said to the spear Bellona had left behind, looking at it nostalgically.

—Rodrigo...— Menrva began, turning to the young man.

But Rodrigo didn't look back at her. He was shattered.

—...Thank you for saving my life— the Etruscan goddess admitted, swallowing her pride, realizing that the young man had become much more powerful than her.

—I only did my duty, Menrva— Rodrigo replied.

Menrva also noticed something in the young man she hadn't seen before: ego. He always doubted, always feared expressing himself. But for the first time, Rodrigo showed courage and determination. Despite a beautiful girl like Freyja trying to hold him back, he'd acted like a true man, doing what his heart dictated.

—So... shall we leave?— Menrva asked Rodrigo nervously.

It was incredible. No one, absolutely no one, intimidated the goddess. Not Tinia, her annunaki; not Ares, whom she had worked for; even though she admired Athena, she could see her as an equal. But facing Rodrigo, she felt both fear and admiration simultaneously. She dreaded his response.

—Head to Tula? Yes. But I'm not going there without my friends. I want you to take me to where Epona and Ana are— Rodrigo commanded, standing up.

Menrva was hesitant to tell him that Epona was ill and undergoing treatment in a ritual. She feared angering him.

—Rodrigo, puright?— Freyja began, slightly nervous. The Norse goddess was more used to pressure, so she was more composed.

—I didn't inform you that... Epona was on the brink of death and got traumatized by it; now she's resting in a village where they're healing her. Moreover, Loki and Ana are looking after her— the Norse goddess reported.

—If I had achieved this power sooner, this wouldn't have happened— Rodrigo lamented, gritting his teeth.

—Meow sorry, I didn't meowan to purring such bad news...Meow sorry— Freyja apologized nervously.

—Don't worry, it's not your fault. It's mine— Rodrigo replied.

Suddenly, they all sensed a tremendous force approaching, flying.

—This energy— Menrva recognized.

Rodrigo and Freyja turned northward, spotting a shooting star streaking horizontally across the sky in the distance.

—There's no doubt, it's Tania!— Menrva exclaimed.

—Wait a meowment, is she flying?— Freyja wondered aloud.

Then, to the two goddesses' surprise, Rodrigo also took to the skies. The young tannin headed to meet the Punic goddess.

—Freyja, I think... for the first time in my life, I feel like a burden— Menrva confessed, storing Bellona's spear in her pocket dimension.

—Thor... is this what purr saw in these kids?— Freyja pondered to herself, watching as Rodrigo and Tania reunited in the sky.