Verena's words caused the grinning ant elders' faces to twist into scowls.
They replied like a choir before stretching out their hands to each summon Nihility Flail, their lineage weapon. Vast, dark-green demonic energy erupted alongside soaring rocks as the pitch-black flail was willed from their bloodline and descended into their hands.
Armed with it, their strength skyrocketed. Still, Verena didn't flinch.
Turning into dark-green beams, the six zenith ant elders shot toward Verena, hurling their flails at her unprotected eyes and neck. Not moving from an inch, she raised her golden sword.
"Ancestral Glory: Citadel of Dreams!"
She exclaimed and released a magenta fog from which rose three gargantuan citadels, each releasing a soothing, enchanting melody as if the choir of a celestial host descended from heaven's vault to enlighten the mortal world.
The three citadels opened their gates, unleashing vast celestial armies that barreled into the six incoming ant elders. But even before such a startling armada, they remained wholly unafraid.
They roared with fiendish glee. Instantaneously, the pressure rippling from them skyrocketed in intensity, propelling their might to new heights while suppressing Verena's celestial host with the weight of mountains.
All together, the zenith ant elders aimed their Nihility Flails at the ground, causing massive boulders and rock pillars to rise from beneath the ground to slam into Verena's illusory army.
Overwhelmed by their combined might, the celestial host collapsed, but even as it did, Verena turned into a beam of golden light to slam into the leftward ant elder with a piercing sword strike.
The ant elders exclaimed while shifting their formation to surround her. And by the time Verena's sword reached their sister's neck, their flails were raining upon her skull, neck, and face in a flurry of blows!
However, as the blows approached, Verena's lips curved into a resplendent smile. Golden light flashed around her head, covering head and neck in a dazzling golden helmet that repelled the flurry of blows!
And as the five elders flew backward, Verena's sword slammed into her target's neck, causing a metallic clang to echo. Bright golden light then erupted from her sword, and it pierced through its target like a knife through butter!
The Ant elder's green blood erupted from both her throat and lips.
Verena then spun on one-hundred-eighty degrees, beheading the ant elder with a circular swing. With her free left hand, she slammed a golden light infused punch into the soaring head, smashing it into smithereens and destroying both body and soul!
Unlike Saints, Sages' souls possessed their own independence and could survive without a body. Worse, at Divine Ascension, as long as the soul remained, although the process was far from instantaneous, the body could reconstruct itself.
Therefore, in battles of that level, blows that obliterated the soul were of paramount importance.
Having not expected such a sudden turn, the remaining five Ant elders were startled. But before they could voice their complaints, Verena pursued!
The five pairs of wings at her back glittered, endowing her with speed transcending that of light itself!
The five ant elders roared in tandem, locking the might of their bloodline on Verena and crushing her with the weight of an invisible mountain. Under the suppression of five Zenith, her speed shrunk to less than ten percent of what it previously was. But still, she charged, attempting to force through the suppression to hack her golden sword at her foes.
Relentless grit shone on her face as she charged, but the violent, forceful move caused her to spit a large mouthful of blood and tumble toward the ground!
"Hateful creature, surrender your life!"
The ant elders snarled while vanishing to reappear above Verena's tumbling form. But as their flails flew toward her exposed back, the helpless grit and determination on her face made way for another bright smile, and as if suddenly refilled with her full strength, she turned into golden light particles and bypassed their blows to reform above them!
But now, not one, but five Verena stood, and all hacked at one of the five Ant elders!
"True Demon Form!"
They snarled in desperation, causing massive demonic energies to erupt from their forms as they turned into five, 1.65 meters tall praying mantises!
In one, resounding metallic sounds, Verena's five simultaneous blows sent the five Ant elders crash into the ground. And in a vast eruption of dust, they cratered!
They roared in indignation. In usual days, it was always them playing tricks on others. When had they ever been swindled in such a shameful way? And not just once but twice! In a flash, they felt as if those millennia of cultivation were spent in vain!
Hearing their grievances, Verena burst into laughter.
"My strength cannot compare to Yvonne's, and my talent is a step below Else's. Were it not for my ability to bring resources to their full potential, how could I possibly suppress those little Valkyries shooting for my seat?
I am a trickster.
A riveting schemer.
What can you do?"
She chortled while aiming her golden sword at the five mantis demons below her.
Verena's entire armor and weapon turned into golden lightning. But at the tip of her sword, the blinding golden lightning coalesced into a humongous energy ball that exploded in a bright golden lightning beam that barreled into the five ant elders!
"Resist with your full arse-!"
The leading ant elder began, but only then did she realize that as the golden lightning beam descended, she couldn't move an inch!
She realized too late. Indeed, as the creators of both dream spirits and mermaids, maras all possessed the ability to seamlessly bewitch and entrap body and soul through their voice. And from the start of their collision, Verena did just that, using the fight, their soaring anger, and overall lack of preparation as a distraction to prevent them from figuring her out.
In a thundering explosion of sparkling light, the golden lightning beam slammed into the five ant elders, turning them into a charred mess.
However, although Verena aimed for their lives, with their powerful physiques and demonic form, they still stood!
Not giving them a chance to make a comeback, Verena turned into a light beam to shoot toward them, aiming to behead them all.
But as her sword approached, the sky darkened under a gathering of dark-green clouds, and from them, a dark-green palm descended to slam into Verena!
Averting her move, she spun to face the blow with her full might!
Verena flew backward with stinging internal organs and a large blood spurt.
Still, she managed to receive the blow. But as her magenta eyes locked on the figure appearing within the sky, her lips curved into a forced smile.