Euryale was breathing people.
The air was thick with it – grating particles of off-white dust that might have tasted innocent.
She sputtered, covering her mouth with her damp shirt. At the very least, the seawater of cursed Poseidon was good for one thing. She looked ahead, trying to recognize this place, slotting it over her memories of a time not even that long before, but now completely changed, as if the formless things that squirm inside Tartarus’ viscera crawled out to twist it into a nightmare.
There used to be a lake here – the shores of Lake Triton, and behind them a beautiful city built on a island rich with gardens, with olive trees sacred to the Weaver Goddess. It was a place of plenty, it was a place of peace.
Home. The word stuck in her throat. She couldn’t let it out, hooked as it was even inside her immortal flesh.
And now, all that remained was the curtain of the sea, that had flooded the lake, turning its crystalline waters into a pond of murkiness from which the remnants of old gardens and orchards stuck like misshapen corals.
She sneered at the spectacle. Truly the Seafather had no qualms about anything but sating his own base desires.
But then again, she knew as much already, didn’t she?
Euryale looked up towards the abandoned city, where the cold sunlight peered through a whitish haze of what might have looked like snow or mist, but was in fact dispersed dust, chafed by the unerring winds carried from the seashore a few miles behind.
Standing with the seawater up to her knees, she shivered at the sight of what a wretched place this had become.
And yet she had come back there.
Her eyes looked for the acropolis and there, at the very tip of the city’s dusty outline, the squared shape of the Temple of Athena seemed to call on to her.
She wouldn’t meet her sister there, only the shadow of her sins.
Of their sins.
But it was another step on the long and sorrowful road she had to walk, so why waste more time?
The Olypians did not bear patience for mortals who did waste time, and she knew enough by now to remember that the Firstborn, gazing blindly from the corners of the cosmos, did not bear one shred more of sympathy for the immortals who did the same.
The feel of water sloshing around her knees made her stomach churn. Water seemed to linger, to hold onto her skin, as if the sea itself wanted to keep herself from reaching inside the destroyed city.
“That is a little too late, don’t you think? Seafather?” She tossed a scathing glance to the waters and their movement ceased.
Now accompanied only by the tiniest ripples, she walked across much faster.
And the horrors of her sister’s presence appeared soon. The trees, already bent like crying mothers, turned grey and their bark rigid and flaky like chalk.
Euryale spotted animals, as well. Eagles fallen off the sky, their wings still open, laying half-submerged in the shallow waters.
Sometimes her feet stumbled upon a fish or a hawk or some other unfortunate beast that had befallen her sister’s presence.
And as she reached the city proper… she found the rest.
She pressed her shirt harder against her mouth and nose but the feeling did not stop. The haze that surrounded the town was now thicker, and she could see the individual specks dancing in the wind as they turned, reflecting and scattering light.
It tasted like chalk and it tasted like choking dust, or perhaps it was her own stomach that was fighting against it. She was not of mortal flesh and most of the afflictions that preyed upon mortals did not touch her – but this one… she felt it hook right into her chest.
Almost all the statues were running. Running away, precipitously, most of them trying to cover their eyes as well, in a chorus of mute screams.
Euryale pursed her lips. A valiant effort, she was sure, but useless, each and every time. The curse was swifter than a blink, and when it took root, it would spread and spread and consume until nothing remained but stone.
Such was the will of the Weaver Goddess.
Euryale proceeded towards the first actual streets, moving between the statues and the remnants of the emptied town. Dogs and cats also lay like abandoned statues. The city had turned into an open-air workshop, a gathering of unseen lifelike sculptors that seemed to draw their craft from the mind of the Olympians themselves, so perfect were their representations.
She had to change her route quite often – the streets were clotted with once-people and the air now was so full with dust that used to be their flesh that it was becoming difficult to see and to know where to set her foot.
Unluckily enough for her, she had known this city for far too long to ever get lost – lost amidst an empty grave, filled with the stone-corpses of its inhabitants, its cattle and its animals.
She figured that the Olympians must have fought against similar horrors during their war to establish order in the universe, so much time before. But this one nightmare seemed to tailor-made especially for her, cut with scissors made of coral and draped around her by sapient hands, knowing where to prod to make her feel the most pain.
Everything around her screamed silently for her turn, go back to her boat with her tail between her legs, and abandon her search.
And she could forget about ever meeting her sister.
The truth was that she felt just as condemned as the statues she was walking among. Her skin might not turn into stone, but her limbs were following a path chosen for her already.
And the Weaver Goddess, for sure, had already spun the right thread for her to walk upon.
What a travesty.
“Oh, sister,” Euryale sighed, pulling between two statues as she walked towards the acropolis. There, inside the old Temple, she might find a few more hints as to where she was now. Where she could find her. And start to pay her dues, anyway. “The things we do for love.”
Author’s Notes: a quick scene to try and get back into my headspace. I wanted to write this short for a while, and I tried to get the right angle. I am not sure this one is the best, but I like the idea and I like myths, so I hope you had fun. Of course the name of the mysterious sister was not spelled out (and I won’t even write it down in the tags because I am a little shit), but I am sure you will have no trouble finding it out. Thanks for reading.