32 Gift Of Perception

Iris was more than shocked to see another Olympian God, but her head was still reeling from her mental overload. Athena backed away from the Undine Queen, keeping a gentle smile on her face as she did so.

"Why am I lucky? This doesn't feel lucky.."

Athena's grin widened; "The pain lets you know you are alive, which you are very lucky to be. If the Leviathan would not have called to me, you'd be dead right now."

"Really?! Aww.. Thank you, Levi! And thank you, too, Athena. Really would've sucked to die a second time so soon.."

Athena grinned at the Aquarian Candidate. She seemed intelligent and witty, which was a combination Athena liked to see. When she'd checked over Iris before helping her, she'd also read her aura..

The girl was a fighter, but a deep sadness within her heart was stunting her powers from reaching their full potential. Athena wondered for a moment, but then brushed the thought aside.

'This is Poseidon's responsibility, not mine.. Although I do like the child.'

"Why did you come? I thought you and Poseidon hated each other?" Selena asked, surprised by her own boldness.

'...This one is a bit too much like her ancestor. Such a temper..'

Athena quirked an eyebrow at Selena, but maintained her smile; "I was curious as to why Leviathan would summon me, and when I realized where the call was coming from.."

Athena's smile turned a touch devilish; "Well, I had to come and see for myself. Poseidon and I don't hate each other, we just don't particularly get along. We have worked together, on occasion. I will go and talk with him, to curb his ire."

"That's all well and good, but can you Please explain to me what the hell just happened?" Iris asked irritably, their voices still grating against her senses.

"You have received the Gift of Perception from your vessel. You will be able to access the majority of knowledge retained by your body. From sensory reactions, to the names of people and places it's familiar with. Even a few ingrained memories that helped to shape the essence of the previous inhabitant will eventually reveal themselves to you.."

Iris nodded; "Okay.. But why did it hit me all at once? It wasn't like this when I went, Ahh, for a swim before. I recognized corals and fish I'd never seen, but there wasn't any pain then. I didn't even realize the knowledge wasn't mine until Levi pointed it out."

Iris had motioned to him as she'd finished speaking, confusing Athena for a moment.

Athena looked to her fellow god with an amused expression; "Levi? Short for Leviathan, I presume?"

As he shifted uncomfortably, Iris chimed in; "I started calling him that about ten seconds after meeting him. He's so Cute when in his mini-form!"

"Oh, really? May I see?"

"Absolutely not," was Levi's immediate reply.

Athena pouted; "It can be your repayment for summoning me.."

Her voice sounded almost sing-song, and the request was from Athena. If all he had to do to repay his debt to her was shrink down.. 'She can't be any worse that Iris..'

Sighing in defeat; the Great God Leviathan shrank down even smaller than usual. As he floated in place, he was no bigger than a clownfish.. Hoping the extra-small size would deter Iris from squishing him like she always did when he shifted into a smaller size.

Iris was Not the problem..

Athena squeaked very similarly to how Iris had the first time she'd met him, then squeezed Levi fifty times harder. The armor she wore didn't help at all..

"...I! ...Can't breathe! ...HELP!" Levi struggled to get out, but it was in vain.

"You look like a baby dragon! Oh! Why don't you stay like this all the time?! You're so adorable!" Athena cooed as she held him tightly.

"...This!" Levi tapped her arm as he struggled; "...This Is Why!"

Iris and Selena couldn't hold back their laughter any longer. His face puffed, and reminded Iris of a dog's squeaky toy being stepped on. The laughing didn't help her head much, but it did lift her spirits.

As Iris looked around and saw how close they were, she asked; "How is it that no one has shown up to see what all my screaming was about? Doesn't this city have guards? And why doesn't it have any walls?"

Selena chuckled; "A bit silly when anyone can swim over them. The only reason the palace has them is for privacy. That way anyone nearby can't see in, and it gives the guards a vantage point. To put a wall around a city just wouldn't make sense here."

Iris nodded in understanding, then asked; "But what about guards?"

"There are patrols, but there's hardly any violence in the kingdom caused by Undines. It's usually when the other Aquarians raid and pillage that-"

Iris cut Selena off; "I don't mean just violence. What about stealing and stuff like that? Who handles that?"

Selena thought a moment; "I believe the mayor of the city handles those sorts of things.."

Right as Selena spoke, information with a mental picture flooded her mind.. 'The Mayor of Omorfiá is Mortimer Ugo. Up there in cycles, but intelligent and a sincere person. Has a son that creeped out the original Iris..'

"Interesting..." Iris stated, then looked up at Athena; "Thank you again for saving me. Will they be easier to handle now? My knowledge bombs, I mean?"

Athena smirked at the Aquarian Candidate as she nodded in the positive. 'I like this mortal. I think I will give her a little extra help..'

As Iris looked up to Athena, she took her index finger, and touched it to Iris' forehead again. There was no glow this time, just a light pulse of strong power spreading out from Iris.

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She blinked several times before asking the goddess what she'd done to her. After squeezing Levi a few more times, Athena released him, then explained with a confident voice.

"I have given you my blessing. It won't help much here because this is Poseidon's domain, but your faculties should be heightened by at least twenty percent now. I trust you to use your intelligence wisely, Queen Iris.."

She couldn't tell if Athena's words were sincere, or warning in nature. But a part of Iris told her it was both. She'd instinctively bowed to the goddess. Some foreign part of her mind telling her that it was a sign of gratitude and respect.

Athena smiled broadly, then bid the three Aquarians farewell. Disappearing in a blinding flash of light..

Seconds after she'd left, the eerie stillness of the water faded. They could hear the sounds of the city, and see people swimming past their path just up ahead.

Cooked fish and other strong smells wafted over their senses again, making Iris' stomach rumble. The only thing she'd eaten since coming to the Aquarian World were the bubble bites. The familiar scents were too much..

Iris' stomach gurgled so loud that it'd actually made Selena and Levi jump. Her hands instantly went to it as her cheeks flushed from embarrassment.

Grinning knowingly, Selena stated; "We'll get something to eat from a shop, don't worry."

"Shouldn't we discuss what just happened? Do you feel any different?" Levi asked, concern in his tone.

"Hey! You're blocking the path! Move it!" a random Undine yelled as he came up from behind them.

The path through the kelp forest was a common travel route for the outlying Undines to use. Most were farmers, which was exactly what Iris assumed the man to be. His tail and hair were a dark-turquoise color, and his body looked large and bulky.

As Iris, Levi, and Selena swam to the sides of the pathway, Iris saw a dolphin behind him. It was pulling a cart that had different kinds of vegetables on it, or so her brain told her. Not a single one looked like something found on Earth..

'Except a watermelon? Haha! They have watermelons here?!' As Iris' mind blazed with facts, Selena watched her with a worried expression.

Noticing the look, Levi swam over to her, and placed a small paw on her shoulder before saying; "I know you can't help it, but she'll be fine. Regardless of the strife between my Father and Athena, they both want Iris to succeed. All of the gods do."

Selena's pulse quickened; "How do all the gods know? ...Why do you stay by her side?"

Levi shrugged; "Same reason you do, I suppose.. I care for Iris, and I truly believe that she can save us.."

Selena nodded with a contemplative expression. As he stared at her, Levi wondered what she was thinking.. 'I wish I could ease her worry..'

Iris saw Levi looking at Selena and grinned. 'For someone that has no interest in mortal attachments, he sure has been attentive to Selena lately. Wonder if there's something there between them? ..This should be interesting to watch..'

Shaking the thought from her mind, Iris called to the two; "Come along you two! We got some exploring to do!"

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