239 Tested by Chaos
The initial clash between Athena and Volaia blasted the side of the volcano with a shockwave that pulverized rock and sent rubble flying into the air. The impact of two warriors near the pinnacle of power was incredible, and the concussive blast that was released rumbled out across the entire city. Athena had used her staff to go against Volaia in that first strike, and Volaia had surprisingly summoned forth a staff of her own made from pure chaotic energy that she used to meet Athena head on.
Athena was utilizing Sethrii's divine power, a fact made apparent by the silver tinge that lay under her golden aura as it layered protectively around her body. Her staff was fused with the divine energy as well, lighting it up with a pure, golden-silver light as she attacked.
Volaia's summoned staff was a core of black energy shrouded in her blood-red aura, and the two weapons clashed together with a powerful impact. Energy crackled and sparked, showering the surroundings with searing bits of magic particles as the two powerful warriors ground their weapons against each other.
Athena's face was lit up by a gleeful grin, her eyes burning with a desire for challenge. This youthful exuberance was met with an understanding half-smile from Volaia, then the two of them separated only to slam their weapons back together as they attacked again!
In an instant, they were trading blows, staff against staff, strength against strength, sending shockwaves cascading out across the city like ripples on a pond. Athena had a considerable size and reach advantage over the smaller girl, but Volaia evened it out with speed and flexibility, not giving an inch to Athena's attacks.
Athena quickly noticed that her staff technique was rather weak compared to the girl's, and she started noticing more and more of her own shortcomings as the battle continued. This only served to fire her up even more, and she began to actively adjust her style mid-combat, eliminating flaws in her technique as she did so.
Volaia had a look of surprise flash across her face when she saw how easily Athena adapted her fighting style. It seemed that this golden-aura warrior had more to her than met the eye! Volaia began to bring out even more of her skill in response, brutally testing Athena's limits and pushing her even harder than before!
Athena was forced to be a little more defensive for a moment as the attacks coming at her began to change, becoming harder to predict and defend against. She could no longer attack as she pleased, and had to focus even more on adapting her technique to defend. However, it wasn't long before she figured out the nuance of the attacks being sent at her, and she quickly returned the favor by unleashing a barrage of attacks on her opponent, using a combination of power and speed in alternating forms to lay down some powerful hits.
The exchange continued for a while, the brutal power that the two fighters were releasing laying waste to the surroundings as they fought. Luckily, no living things were in the vicinity, otherwise they would have suffered a terrible fate as the turbulent energy escaping from the battle pulverized even the rocks themselves into dust.
The two combatants were oblivious to all this, focusing all their energy and power against each other in this titanic contest of strength. Theirs was a battle of extremes, one rarely seen, and if not for the shroud surrounding the city masking them from the rest of the world outside, every powerful magic user on the continent would have been alerted by the exchange.
After this had gone on for a while, the two fighters were nearing their limits. Both were drenched with sweat, their bodies starting to ache from constant channeling of magic power as they continued to exchange blows. The battle's intensity had continually gone up, and they were both feeling the effects by now.
It all came to a head in one last exchange. Athena and Volaia came together in one last clash, the impact of which was strong enough to shatter Volaia's energy staff and send her flying back from the impact. She landed on her feet and slid for a short distance as Athena instinctively chased after her target, but a raised hand from the girl stopped her in her tracks.
The two stood there for a moment, then with a sigh they both let their energy dissipate and bleed away. They both understood that the battle was over. Athena had a complex look in her eyes as she looked at the young girl. The battle had revealed much to her, and she understood now that she had not been fighting the girl known as Volaia Rellen. No, she had been fighting someone far stronger!
The girl's eyes still swirled with that same pool of infinite chaos as she looked at Athena, then turned to gaze out at the metal city stretched out below the slopes of the volcano. After a moment of silence, the girl spoke again with that same, authoritative voice that Athena had heard before.
"Through battle, I have determined that you are acceptable to protect this child," she said, her voice echoing through the surrounding air.
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Athena said nothing, but after a second she nodded slightly.
"She has been through much suffering. I expect you to ensure that she does not suffer any further," she said in a softer tone, but Athena could sense the warning in those words. "In return, I will teach you the techniques that I know."
She paused and looked back at Athena, who met those eyes of infinite chaos with steady topaz pupils. Then, she closed her eyes, and suddenly the girl collapsed into a faint. Athena was quick enough to catch her, but she noticed that the chaotic presence that had been ever-present around the girl was now completely gone.
Picking her up, Athena looked around for a moment before taking off in the direction where she could sense Zoey's presence. It was time to go back.