Seeing as their plan to tire Ri and Madeleine out first had failed, Ode and Eboni chose to attack much earlier than expected. But, they still hadn't given up on the rest of their plan. Regardless of what they said, they had witnessed Madeleine and Ri fight before. As such, they knew that they had no certainty of winning.
But, what Eboni did know was that Ri would be very angry with her. Because of that, she may utilize more energy than she should. With the Geb clan's specialty being based in the Earth, their stamina and defenses far outmatched most. This meant that Eboni could stall until Ri tired – banking on the fact Ri would be angered into trying to finish her off quickly.
So, when Eboni saw Ri flash forward, a small smile was already playing on her lips.
Madeleine saw this, but there was little she could do. If she tried to communicate with Ri now, the judges would pick up on it because her cultivation didn't match theirs. They would use any excuse they could to kick her and Ri out so she could only focus on her own opponent.
In reality, Ode had drawn the short end of the stick. Despite being just in the top 30, she now had to fight Madeleine, who was in the top 20. None of them were stupid enough to think that Dyon had manipulated Madeleine's rankings for real. For one, Madeleine wasn't even on the same planet as Dyon for this past campaign and even before then, Dyon obviously had never campaigned before. This meant that both of Madeleine's campaigns had no influence from Dyon.
But, Ode could only accept her fate. As a Horus God Clan member, she specialized in something she knew Madeleine was weak in: Speed and her sky specialties gave her a special advantage over music will users. All she had to do was evade for long enough to tire Madeleine out. She didn't have to win, she just had to make sure that the second phase of their plan was easier.
Ri and Eboni clashed first.
Plates of crystalline defense shields shattered as Ri's sword pierced forward.
There was an unfettered wild aura to Ri's swordplay that she hadn't tapped into before. Her movements were fluid and her instincts were sharp. It seemed almost unnatural at times, and yet so fitting at others. It was as though a cunning fox had picked up the blade.
Her faints were damning, her cuts were decisive, and her power was wild.
Eboni's brows furrowed as defense shield after defense shield shattered.
She was quite confident in her crystalline will, but Ri was making it look like a joke. 'That dense black on her sword… What is that?...'
Eboni's flowing Egyptian dress fluttered in the wind and her feet flashed around the arena, clearly avoiding Ri. What she needed was time.
Eboni's crystal will followed a completely different path than Dyon's. While Dyon focused on amplification to compliment his array alchemy, Eboni was entirely focused on defense. It was known as the hardening path – a path that was known as being a step up from the shield path.
This was because hardening effected both offense and defense, it was just that Eboni had yet to use its offensive capabilities just yet. She wanted to first understand the extent of Ri's will.
Surprisingly, though, Ri didn't seem bothered by Eboni's constant avoidance. Ever since the initial provocation, Ri's anger had faded. Instead, she saw Eboni as prey. A mouse caught in a trap. Nothing more and nothing less.
A cold sweat permeated along Eboni's alluring back, causing her dress to cling tightly to her curves.
'No matter how I adjust the structure of my shields, she keeps breaking through them!'
As a specialist of the hardening path, Eboni could manipulate her crystals into any structure she chose. Utilizing her Geb clan's analysis techniques, she was confident that she could create the best structure for blocking any will path as long as she was given enough time and her opponent was within her scope. But… There was something off about Ri's will. No matter what she tried, it was like an insurmountable wall!
Ri's blade was coated in a dense fog – even the edges weren't obvious. But, despite this, the sharpness seemed to surpass anything Eboni had ever seen.
Eboni grit her teeth, if she kept running away like this, what was she proving? In fact, it was even worse that she was aware that if she kept running, Ri would corner her. She felt like she was scampering away from a predator.
'I'm a top beauty of this universe! I rank in the top 30 by my own merit! I won't allow this to happen to me!'
On the other stage, Ode and Madeleine's battle was going… oddly.
Madeleine's eyes had lost a decisive sharpness they had had with the previous challenger all while Ode's silver hair fluttered around her.
Every time Madeleine plucked a string to attack, Ode would vibrate the air violently, causing distortions in Madeleine's notes and thus disrupting her technique.
However, despite this, Madeleine still stood elegantly at the center of the arena, gently plucking the strings of her lyre. A beautiful melody seemed to be building, but it lacked any attacking or killing intent. It was almost as though Madeleine was playing just to play as opposed to fight.
Ode didn't know how to feel about this. But, she was much too wary of Madeleine to approach too closely. So, she maintained her distance, becoming one with the wind as her clan was so famous for.
'Speaking in a vacuum is impossible. Without a medium, sound can't travel. As long as I take full advantage of our Horus clan's dominance in the air, her music will never reach me. I'll let her waste her stamina. Then, I'll attack when she's given up!' Ode thought quickly as she vibrated the air particles around her again.
"I will win!" Ode and Eboni's minds focused on one goal.