The elemental churned up the seabed as it approached, a cloud of silt and blood boiling around it. It hit the front clusters of Erinyes and Arae, sending them scattering about the ocean or sucking them into the vortex at its heart. The latter group couldn’t be seen once absorbed, but the crushing pressure’s effect could – the water elemental was gradually growing increasingly red.
Athena kicked after it, her mind working furiously. Summoning an elemental was almost never done anymore. It required a group of gods working in tandem, and once it was created, the elemental could only be loosely pointed at the target of your wrath. Afterwards, it would rampage freely until the divine power invested in it wore out or it was destroyed.
Given how much power she’d seen the five sea gods dump into the water elemental, it would last for quite a long time.
Destroying elementals couldn’t be accomplished by slashing and cutting. You had to change their state so much that they no longer could maintain cohesion. An air elemental condensed into a liquid. An earth elemental melted to lava. A fire elemental denied anything to react with.
Water elementals were usually reduced to steam, but beneath the ocean that require all the Olympians working together – and leaving themselves completely drained at the end of it.
It wasn’t viable, and it was exactly what Athena figured Poseidon was hoping for. Getting the Olympians drained and weak enough to pick off at his leisure.
And if the water elemental rampaged across the Adriatic coast, killing dozens or even hundreds, what did that matter to the mighty Poseidon?
Athena turned to look at the sea gods. Triton had swum over to join them. They were lobbing lazy weaves towards the Olympian lines, just enough to keep the pressure up, but not overly exerting themselves.
They had all the time in the world.
“Focus your power on the Ele-” Athena started to shout.
She didn’t get to finish the sentence. The elemental was drawn to the sound of her voice and curved its path of destruction directly towards her. Athena’s command was cut off when the Elemental formed arms that were made of smaller vortexes coming off the side of the main mass, reaching out towards her with a speed she couldn’t match.
Athena was sucked in.
She found herself tossed around, spun so quickly she lost all track of what was up and what was down. All she could tell for certain was that she was being drawn into the center of the water elemental’s mass. She turned on her divine sight, but adding elemental threads to her vision just confused her even more. She tried to kick away, but even with her webbed feet, she had nowhere near the strength needed to resist the water elemental’s strength.
Focus! She screamed at herself, trying to drown out the distraction that was the roaring of the elemental’s water, trying to block out the dizzying sensation of being tossed about, anything that would give her the ability to focus on some way – any way – to survive this mess.
It wasn’t working. She was being drawn further in, and could do nothing to fight the tug. Kicking away only managed to slow her progress down. Athena focused on that little bit of possible salvation, kicking her feet with all the strength she could muster. She clenched her fists – trying to use her hands was useless in this tidal force – and focused every bit of strength she had into each kick. It was a full body motion, starting at her shoulders and rolling all the way down to her feet.
Yet still she felt herself being pulled backwards into the elemental’s core, where the pressure would grind her into a fine paste.
Resignation began to set in. She’d have to hope the Olympians could win this fight and recover her nanoverse. Even if they couldn’t, if they won, she’d revive on the bottom of the ocean – which would at least make Thirst an easy Hunger to see too, since divine Hungers didn’t care about how saline the water was. Of course, the need for air might drive her mad before she could reach the surface. That horrifying thought gave her a surge of adrenaline. She’d heard tales of gods that revived somewhere they couldn’t even get air. They didn’t turn into anthropophages, those poor souls. They would instead find themselves caught in an endless cycle of death and rebirth, over and over, until their minds eventually shattered.
The Adriatic was more than deep enough to give Athena that exact torment if she died and her nanoverse was left behind.
She felt a tug on her foot, a sideways tug. She’d reached the main vortex of the water elemental. Just a couple moment’s more, and she’d suffer a painful death, followed by possible madness.
Just then, something impacted her. A force strong enough that Athena felt a couple ribs almost crack at the impact. She grunted at the sudden stab of pain, but found she was no longer spinning in the vortex. She was floating in the open ocean.
A chunk of ice rose towards the surface. The water that had made up the water elementals arm, frozen solid. The remaining vortex had rammed it into her, seconds before she had to endure a fate worse than death.
Athena cast her eyes around, trying to orient herself. Anansi, Arachne, and Artemis all had hands outstretched in her direction. A current wrapped around her and began to tug her away from the confused and injured elemental, into to their waiting arms. Athena didn’t fight it.
“Thank you,” she gasped when she within range of them. “I thought that-”
“Save it,” Arachne said. “How do we beat this?”
Artemis shot Arachne a withering look but turned to Athena. “She’s right. I know you’re injured, but we need some way to win, or we are all damned.”
Athena thought for a moment, her mind was still spinning, both figuratively and literally, but she’d asked for command. She’d be damned if she failed them after they had saved her.
The elemental veered towards me, Athena thought.
An idea began to form. “I think I know a way. But it’s going to be tricky. Everyone has to play their part.”
The other three gods leaned in, listening, as Athena explained the details.