Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Sitting here listening to Bing Crosby singing "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas" in spite of the grey, cold and rainy day outside. The Christmas tree lights are shining beautifully against the wall. The movie classic 'Scrooge - A Christmas Carol" is paused on the DVD player while the children search for Carries Cell Phone.  The cinnamon buns are rising, the oven is pre-heating, our stomachs are growling in anticipation.  Everyone is still in pajamas from opening presents this morning.  Thankfully no one paid us a surprise visit!  We sit remembering the wonderful Christmas Eve service and meal we shared last night with church family. Men of the church shared various prophecies of the coming Messiah, all fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  Praise God for sending His only begotten Son to redeem lost sinners to Himself.

Here's wishing all a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with health and the blessings of the Lord.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Anakdidae found on Google Search!

Just for fun I searched 'Anakdidae' on Google.  This is in The World Below short story I wrote about the amazing Anakdidae, who were descendants of the Anakim in the Bible.  Hey, I just invented a new zoological classification!  I sure hope no one finds them under Todd's pond!  So far, this location is a secret. I hope it stays that way!

Mark.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The World Below: Final thoughts

Thanks for following The World Below.  This story, was oft told to my children over several days, and at different times.  Some were younger and some were older and the details get blurry over time, for them and for me. I took some creative license as I recorded the story again from memory, filling out details and character traits as I went along.  I read it again to the children still at home and they seemed to enjoy it, even though the youngest is 13 now (OK I AM old). 

Now I'd like to answer some obvious questions about the story... 

No, I don't think there are actual descendents of the Anakim alive today.  No, I don't believe in evolution.  No, mermaids do not exist (although they may have!). No, I don't believe children should date at 13 years old. No, fish do not have souls.

Yes, I expect children to obey their parents. Yes, I believe in a literal creation by the Creator God. Yes, I believe in Jesus our Emanuel our Savior and Redeemer.

Finally, this story is a fantasy!  Writing is fun and can be entertaining!   I hope you enjoyed it!

Your other questions are welcome, your comments as well.

thanks,

Mark

The World Below: Epilogue

There was a splash in the pond!  Mary went running towards the pond full tilt.  She quickly shed her flip-flops so she could run faster, and as she ran she yelled “It’th Todd! It’th Todd! Momma! Momma!”
“Another false alarm”, thought Mrs. Hargood, “Every time a leaf falls in the pond, or a bird splashes, or a frog croaks she goes running!” she said to Mr. Hargood who was sitting beside her on the porch swing on the deck of their little house as the Sun was setting on the horizon.
“Might be him this time,” said Mr. Hargood, “Could be.” he said stopping the swing and squinting for a better look.
“We’ll see.  I hope it is though, this waiting is near killing me.”
“Don’t you worry now, he’ll be back right as rain.  You remember, don’t you? I came back, and my father before me.”
“Yes, but your father almost didn’t make it.  He limped until the day he died!”
“Maybe so, but Earnest would rather limp than have not gone at all.”
“That’s true John.”
“He’ll be home soon, and he’ll be just fine.”
Mary Hargood stopped her quilting and laid it in her lap then she rested her head on her husband’s shoulder.  John Hargood put his arm around her and watched Mary in the distance approaching the pond.

Mary stopped at the edge of the pond and watched intently the ripple that had started in the middle of the pond and moved out in a perfect circle until the water lapped at her bare feet. Looking for another sign of movement and seeing none, Mary turned to walk away.

“Hey little sister, where you going?” asked Todd pulling himself from the water and walking towards her.

“Todd!” she screamed in her high pitched little voice and ran into his arms, getting her summer dress soaked in the process.
“Mary!” Todd said laughing, “I missed you so much!”

“I mith’d you too Todd!”

“Wath that?” she asked, pointing at the medallion around his neck.

“It’s a medal I got from some good friends.”

“Oh. Let’s go see Momma and Daddy!”

“OK.”

Todd picked her up and put her on his shoulders then headed for the house running, spinning and laughing along the way. Mary was giggling and laughing “Thtop!” all the way.

“It’s him!” said Mr. Hargood.

“Thank the Lord!” said Mrs. Hargood.

Together they ran to Todd, hugs and kisses were exchanged and joy abounded at the return of the new hero from the World Below.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The World Below: Part 10

Todd and Einah paused at the doorway to the grand room, looked at each other, squeezed hands and stepped into the room.  
Applause and cheers greeted them as they entered the room and the crowd parted to let them through.  The joy was palpable as they walked up to the dais and climbed it’s stairs to join Bandrag and Gardle and the other elders who were there already.  Todd and Einah greeted them and then turned to face the crowd at Gardle’s instruction.  Bandrag stepped forward and motioned the crowd to be silent.
“Fellow Anakdidae. Today we thank Emanuel for victory over the Beast!” he began.
The crowd cheered and applauded loudly again and Bandrag waited for them to settle this time.
“Today we thank Emanuel for sending his servant to defeat our greatest enemy! I present you Todd Hargood!” Bandrag motioned Todd forward to stand beside him.  Einah was smiling and applauding as loud as any of the Anakdidae.
“Today Todd has proven himself worthy to be called one of us, and in honor of that privilege, I present him with this medal, The Order of Emim.”

One of the other elders stepped forward and offered a blue coral tray to Bandrag. From the tray he took a rope of woven seaweed which held a gold medallion.  The medallion had a profile of a male Anakdidae with a golden braided rope around the edge and on the other side a picture of the steeple with beams of light coming from it.  Below that was the double H like the one on Todd’s belt buckle and the like the one on the altar of Dagon.  Todd bowed his head as Bandrag placed the medal around his neck then stepped back to applaud. The crowd joined in and cheered once more.

Einah pushed Todd forward and whispered “Say something!” with a smile of encouragement. Todd stumbled forward and Bandrag put his arm around Todd’s shoulder. The crowd grew silent and all eyes were on Todd.

“Um, I - I don’t know what to say, um. Thank you, for this wonderful medal! Um, I only did what any one of you brave Anakdidae would do. Thank you!” Todd stumbled through his short speech and was grateful it was done.

The crowd cheered again as if he had just given them an oration fitting Aristotle.

Gardle stepped forward and said “Now that we have done with the formalities, refreshments and music please, we have something to celebrate!”

The crowd cheered again and then talked amongst themselves. Several  Anakdidae came and shook Todd’s hand and thanked him again for saving their home and their lives.  Todd really couldn’t understand why they were so grateful to him. Surely any one of them could have done what he did.  Finally, after the crowd broke into groups, music played and food was brought around on shelfish trays, he asked Gardle.

“Gardle, What did I do that was so special?  Surely you, or any other of the warrior class Anakdidae could have turned on the light beam defenses.”

“No, Todd. It could only be done by a human, and a human of the Hargood line. You see, for hundreds of generations we have lived in hiding in this world below yours.  We have often fought with the Beast’s progenitors.  Every generation the Beast comes, and we defeat it, only to have it’s offspring appear after several years and the battle repeats again and again.  We have tried to fight the Beast ourselves but it’s strength is too great and many lives were lost.  The medal you wear bears the image of Emim who was a great warrior who had no equal.  He was Einah’s father.  Your grandfather had come to our world but was injured in his battle with the Beast.  Emim took the oracle and found the altar of Dagon, but the defenses did not activate, and he was lost. Your grandfather, despite his injuries, made it to the altar and activated the defenses, killing the Beast.  Only a human, it seems, is worthy to bring the light.  Other humans have come, but they were defeated when the light would not come.  Only a Hargood can defeat  the Beast it seems. “

“So my grandfather has been here? What about my father?”

“Every generation a Hargood must come.  We call you with our minds and pray that Emanuel will send the one. Yes, your father John Hargood, and your Grandfather , Earnest Hargood and his father, Lincoln Hargood have all been here, and their fathers before them.”

“Why don’t you just find the nest and kill the eggs?”

Bandrag said “Todd, we haven’t been able to find the nest.  For generations we have searched, to no avail. We have searched with our combined minds and that of the Blessed Hive; we have searched individually; we have searched in groups; every time the Beast is defeated we search again; but it seems to be impossible.  Sometimes we find a young Beast and kill it, but there is always another.”

“What happens if the Beast wins one time?”

“Without our Blessed Hive we will have to seek shelter elsewhere.  We can cultivate and nurture another one, but it takes hundreds of years to do so and we would be vulnerable until then.  We would seek refuge in the oceans but there even more dangers exist and the salt water is, how can I say, distasteful.”

“You must take the oracle back to your world and preserve it for your sons, and their sons; just like your father has done so for you.” said Bandrag

“I have to leave?” asked Todd looking at Einah.

“Yes, you cannot stay here.  The breather must be returned to it’s kind, and you cannot use it indefinitely, there are health consequences.  Besides, your family will be missing you.” he answered also looking at Einah.

“I know, I miss them too.  Can I visit here? Sometime?”

“No Todd, I’m afraid not.  Once you return we will secure the entrance until the Beast returns.”

“Oh.” Todd said.

“Grandfather, can we not make an exception?” asked Einah her eyes beginning to brim with tears.

“I’m sorry Einah, there can be no exceptions. We have been protected by our God for generations through the Blessed Hive and through the Hargoods.  If we were to expose ourselves more often, there is a greater risk to our safety. In fact Todd must leave tomorrow.”

“What! Oh Bandrag Zamzummim!” exclaimed Einah, using his full name she covered her face and ran sobbing from the room.

“Einah!” called Todd and ran after her, exiting through the same doorway.

“He will adjust to being at home again.  They all do.” said Bandrag.

“I’m not so sure.  He is taken with Einah. That has never happened before.” commented Gardle.

“Once outside the hive memories fade for humans.  They have a recollection of the events, but the details are lost over time. He’ll be fine.”

“What about Einah?”

“It is just the infatuation of a young Anakdidae. She will grow out of it once Todd is out of sight, you’ll see.”

“I hope you are right, Bandrag.” said Gardle.

“So do I.”

Todd found Einah watching the life teeming on the other side of a view port.

“Are you OK?” he asked.

“I am not OK.  I want you to stay, but I must honor my Grandfather’s wishes.” she answered.

“I know. I need to go back to my family.  My sister Mary will be missing me, and my parents.  To be honest I miss them too.”

“Of course you do. Oh Todd!” Einah cried and hugged him tightly. He hugged her back and sighed. 

“I will never forget you Einah.”

“I will never forget you either Todd.”

They turned to face the portal and sat down on the bench that rose from the floor at their command.  Watching the exotic creatures swim by they sat side by side arm in arm reflecting on the amazing events of the last two days.

The next day Todd said farewell to Gardle, Bandrag and the healer who gave him the container of healing gel with the elder’s approval but with the strict instructions not to reveal the source.

There was a crowd surrounding the exit from the Blessed Hive; the portal that would carry Todd to the surface.  With the breather removed Todd felt like he was missing a part of himself, but more so, he was missing Einah, who was conspicuous by her absence.

Todd was dressed in his human clothes again and had everything but the oracle with him.  When he saw Einah coming into the passageway, he knew where she had been.  She had been to the temple of Dagon to retrieve the oracle.  Einah ran up to Todd and presented it to him with a curtsy. “Sir!” she pronounced.

“Thank you ma’am.” said Todd formally, then smiled and they hugged one last time.  “Good bye Einah.”

“Good bye Todd.” she said.

To Bandrag and Gardle he said “Thank you for all that you have taught me.  I will never forget.”

“You are welcome Todd.”  They said together.
Todd moved toward the portal and waved one last time to the Anakdidae, but to Einah he made his thumb, index and little finger into a trident, or I love you sign. She made the same sign.  He had taught her it when they talked until late, as a way of remembering and indicating their love for one another should they ever meet again.

“What is that he did?” Bandrag asked Gardle.

“I do not know; some human custom I assume.”

They both returned the sign awkwardly, which made Einah giggle under her breath.

Todd laughed and jumped into the portal.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The World Below: Part 9


Todd felt the water wash over him as he dove through the opening in the floor and into the world of water below him.  He turned to see where the Beast was and found it seeking out the edges of the Blessed Hive with its tentacles trying to find purchase to pull it to the depths. Blood mixed with the water as vivid gashes were made in the white flesh. Todd could see the intent of the Beast.  The Blessed Hive was a living creature that needed air to breathe from the surface of the Earth. By pulling it down into the depths, the Blessed Hive would drown,the Anakdidae would lose their home and their shelter, and the Beast would win!
With difficulty Todd ignored his desire for vengeance and turned away from the Beast. He swam straight down until he was into the colder, darker water.  “How will I know where to look?” he thought.  His answer came from his first experience in the world below.  He seemed to know that the church steeple he entered when he sought refuge from the Beast would hold the key.  He paused his descent and looked left and right but he couldn’t see it, in fact he couldn’t see much at all. “Help!” he cried in his mind to the Anakdidae above him.
“We must pray together!” came his answer.
“What? Pray? Now?” Todd asked incredulously.
“Yes, Todd.  Now especially; when all seems lost we must seek our God; and yours together.” he heard from Grandag.
Taking a deep “breath” and releasing it, Todd calmed himself.
“Together then…” Todd paused, “Dear Heavenly Father; The one who made all things; the one who made me; the Anakdidae; even the Beast; Please give me strength to fight the Beast and wisdom to do what I must, guide me to the altar; light my way; I pray all this in Jesus name; the name above all names; Amen.”
Todd heard a chorus of “Amens” in his mind and felt the power of prayer race through his body.  He closed his eyes and thought of the steeple.  Swimming down, then to the left he knew where he was going.  In his mind’s eye he could see the steeple below him and swam directly for it. Sneeking a look Todd confirmed that he could see nothing but darkness in front of him, yet when he closed his eyes he could see the steeple getting closer.
Todd found the steeple and was about to enter it, when he heard the Beast scream behind him.  It was the same metal on metal sound that it had made before, but now Todd knew it was directed at him.  Somehow the Beast knew what Todd was up to and was heading for the steeple too, forsaking the attack on the Blessed Hive for the more immediate threat of the oracle and the boy who carried it.
Todd entered the steeple and thought to himself, “How can I see in here?” No sooner had he said it, when his sword began to glow shining light into the room. He didn’t give it a second thought; he had seen a lot of amazing things in the world below and nothing would surprise him now. Or so he thought.
Todd couldn’t believe his eyes.  He was inside the top of a stone tower and spiral stairs descended into the gloom below him. Casting his fear aside he dove down the center of the spiral as fast as he could, the sword only revealing his descent a few feet ahead of him.  He reached the bottom and halls led off in four different directions.  “Which one?” he thought. Hearing nothing from the Anakdidae he prayed again…”Lord Jesus, which way? Please give me wisdom.”
He looked again at each hallway entrance.  He hadn’t noticed before that at the cornerstone of each doorway was a symbol; a Bull, a Dog, a Bird and a Fish. He quickly chose the fish representing Dagon and swam through the doorway.
Todd heard stones crumble and fall down the center of the tower as the stairs, being already unstable were shaken loose by the Beast as it engulfed the tower with its powerful limbs and felt inside the tower for its enemy.
Todd hurried down the hall and saw many rooms on each side that reflected back the light from his sword with the sparkle of jewels and the gleam of golden treasures. Right now they held no interest; he was seeking the altar of Dagon, the fish God mentioned in the bible.
The hallway ended in what could only be the right room.  It was so immense that the light from Todd’s sword could not penetrate to its corners.  At one end of the room, raised up on an altar, was a golden stone that was glowing in a light that descended from a hole in the ceiling. Behind it a statue of Dagon, half fish, half man; a golden crown upon his head and a golden trident in his right hand like the one Neptune, the mythological god of the sea would hold. Todd tucked this morsel of knowledge away for further investigation; could Neptune be Dagon?
Todd, hearing more stones falling and concerned for time, swam up to the altar and examined the golden stone.  “It can’t be!” Todd thought.
Engraved in the stone was the double H of his belt buckle. Todd unclipped the buckle from his belt and inserted the buckle into the stone.  It made a metallic sound as it set in place to a perfect fit! Immediately light filled the room from Dagon’s trident.  A concentrated beam then formed from the end of Dagon’s trident and streaked back down the hallway. Todd could feel the energy pulsing through the water and it made the hair stand up all over his body.  Fortunately for Todd, he was lower than the tip of the trident or he would have been burned to death in the powerful beam!
He carefully followed the path of the beam back the way he’d come until he saw that it was reflected back up the tower and into an orb in the ceiling of the steeple room.  What he could not see was that a brilliant golden light was emanating from the spire of the steeple and illuminating the world below as far as the eye could see.
The Beast screamed in agony, unraveled its grip on the tower, and fled from the light to the farthest corner of the aquifer. Fleeing, however, was futile as the light penetrated the farthest reaches of the world below.  The creature howled in defeat and agony as its skin burned and dissolved in a melting mess of flesh.  Finally it was still and sank into the silt below where its cries ceased.
Todd had watched all this from the steeple window and joined in with the hundreds of minds that were praising God for the victory over the Beast! 
The light went out and Todd left the shelter of the steeple, swimming upward until he could once again see the Blessed Hive and in front of it, scores of Anakdidae hugging and dancing and laughing in the world below his pond.
Todd could not celebrate with them any longer as he thought of Einah.  He sought her out with his mind but could not find her. He entered the Blessed Hive and asked her to show him the way to the healer. The blue guide appeared and he followed it to a room off a hallway just like all the other ones.  He asked to enter and the door chimed, but did not open.
“Yes? Who is it?” a voice answered from inside.
“It’s Todd, may I come in?”
“Of course, come in!”
The door opened and Todd saw what was to him the most beautiful sight he’d ever seen. “Einah!” He cried and ran to her where he embraced her and lifted her up off the floor and spun her in a circle. Joy filled his heart when she returned the embrace and laughed aloud at his antics.
“Todd!”, she giggled, “put me down!”
Todd set her down and she winced in pain. “I’m sorry!” he said, “You were standing, so I thought you were OK!”  Todd released his grip on her and stepped back.
“I am OK, thanks to the healer and the prayers of others.  I am just a little sore.” she said taking his hands in hers and looking deeply into his eyes.
“When Gardle said that you weren’t breathing and I thought you were dead.” Todd said quietly intently watching her face.
“I was in medical hibernation. Our bodies appear lifeless, but our heart is beating slowly and our organs shut down to preserve function.  It is induced by severe stress to the body, which, I must say I can attest to!”  she laughed and her face lit up when she smiled and then said more seriously, “Gardle tried to reach you but you were already too angry to hear him.”
“Oh, sorry. I’m just glad you are OK.”
“I am also happy that you lived to defeat the Beast!”
“Me too!” said Todd and they laughed together, still holding hands.
Todd now realized in looking into her eyes, that he had feelings for her that he’d never felt before.  He realized that he loved her. She hadn’t meant to, but in her mind she reached out to his and revealed that she loved him too.  Todd heard it in his mind and they moved together to embrace again.
“Nice to see that you are up and about Einah!”
It was the Healer returning from the next room. Todd and Einah separated guiltily as he approached and asked “You must be Todd.  I understand that you’ve cut your finger?”
“Um, yes, I think so.” answered Todd checking his fingers.
“Let me see!” the Healer said kindly but in a commanding tone.
Todd complied and the Healer found the deep cut on Todd’s index finger. He proceeded to take some gel from a shell shaped container and pressed it deeply into the cut and told Todd to grip it firmly for a minute.
Todd cried out in pain as the burning he felt was worse than when he’d cut his finger.  However, in less than a minute the pain was gone.  Todd pulled his hand away and examined his finger.  It was completely healed, not even a scar.
 “How?” asked Todd
“Our ways are ancient.  The oceans hold many secrets!  We have learned many of them, but there is still much left to discover.”  said the Healer.
“That’s amazing!  Can I have some?” asked Todd.
“For what purpose?” asked Bandrag, entering the room.
“To take with me when I return to my world, it can help many people!”
“No.  That is not possible!  You must tell no one of this place.  Your kind will only destroy that which it doesn’t understand.” Bandrag insisted.
“I guess I understand that. What if I told them I found it and couldn’t remember where?  Then they would be able to examine it and find out how it works. No one would ever know.” suggested Todd.
“No. The risk is too great.”
“Please Bandrag, Todd has helped us, could we not help him?” asked Einah.
Bandrag sighed, “Granddaughter you cross the line! However, I will bring it before the elders for debate.”
“Thank you Grandfather!” she said and kissed him on the cheek.
Bandrag hunched to hug Einah and chuckled under his breath at his granddaughter’s show of affection, then straightened, once again the dignified leader, and turned to leave. “Come to the grand hall in ten cycles, we have a celebration to go to!” he said and left the room.
“Come back and see me after the celebration Einah, I am not done with you yet.” said the Healer and went back into the next room.
Todd and Einah held hands and left to follow the blue teardrop guide to the grand hall.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The World Below: Part 8

Todd thought his eyes were playing tricks on him. In front of his eyes was a wall of water, beyond which was a room open to the world below but filled with water to the ceiling.  The room was at least fifty yards square, with walls and a ceiling but no floor. In it were several Anakdidae who were rolling, diving, soaring, spinning and twisting through a variety of holographic obstacles, some ringed with sharp barbs or glistening edges, sharp as a knife’s edge.
“Step through Todd.” said Gardle, “It is quite safe.”
Todd took a deep breath and stepped through the doorway.  It felt odd to be walking into a wall of water which soaked through his clothes.  He instantly could feel the pressure of the water creep around his body and then he was floating free.  Todd started to see flashes of light behind his eyes as he starved for oxygen.  He checked to make sure the button on his chest was still there and let out the air from his lungs with a rush of bubbles from his nose and mouth.  His first lungful of water felt very strange, and his heart rate went through the roof, but then he was ‘breathing’ normally again and soon relaxed. Gardle and Einah followed him through.
“What now?” Todd asked using his mind.
“Now you train to be a warrior class Anakdidae! Einah will guide you.” answered Gardle in kind.
“It looks like everyone can see the obstacles.” commented Todd.
“That’s right. We can all see them, and feel them.  They are not just visible but also physically have substance through the use of force energy from the Blessed Hive. Be careful Todd the blades and barbs will feel very real to you when touched.” said Einah.
“Now, are you ready to begin?” asked Einah.
“I guess so.” said Todd, a little unsure.
“First, let’s cover swimming.  Do like I do!” instructed Einah and swam away and Todd followed.
He was clumsy in the water, swimming like a human would, doing the breast stroke and kicking his legs wildly.  Einah swam like a fish!  She seemed to be at home in the water.
“Do as I do!” she reminded him.
Todd stopped and watched her now, instead of trying to follow her. She moved with grace and power through the water, her body undulating like an eel at times, but at other times bending and darting like a porpoise.  It was amazing to watch and Todd found himself captivated by the beauty of these magnificent creatures, or perhaps this one in particular.
“Do as I do!” she commanded now.
“Yeah, OK.” Todd pulled himself out his reverie and began to mimic her motions. He found in himself a greater speed and fluidity than he thought possible.  Einah motioned him to follow her now and she swam away. Todd swam after her as best he could, but she would often turn, and laugh, and swim away again after he caught up to her.  They swam within the room and around the obstacles and through them.  They used the obstacles to propel them faster through the water as some were flexible offering rebounding energy and others were rigid and solid offering no give at all. Einah went through a loop ringed with vicious barbs and easily avoided them, but when Todd followed he strayed too close and felt the sting of a barb as it tore the flesh from his thigh to his ankle. Screaming in pain, Todd stopped to hold his thigh and examine the damage, expecting blood to be pouring from the wound.
“There is no blood. The pain is real, but it is in your mind only.  It is effective, no?” asked Einah.
“Very!” exclaimed Todd.
The pain quickly subsided and they were able to continue the training, racing through the obstacles and soon Todd was moving like an Anakdidae.
In what seemed like minutes Todd grew weary and stopped, catching his ‘breath’.  Einah saw him stop and swam back to him. “Are you OK?” she asked, concerned.
“I’m just tired, I’m sorry, I guess I’m out of shape.”
“You are doing very well!  It has been three of your hours since we started.  Let us rest a while and get some food. Come.”
Todd followed her, but instead of going up as he thought they would, to get to the cafeteria, they went down and out of the room.  The world below was teeming with life, large and small. Young Anakdidae romped and played under the watchful eye of their parents. Other of their kind worked to gather seaweed, algae and what could have been plankton or something like it from beds in the shallower water.  Einah swam to what must have been the edge of the world to them, the aquifer wall, and rubbed a finger down the wall, collecting green goo.  She licked off her finger and motioned for Todd to try it.  He ran his finger down the wall and ate some of the sticky substance.  It tasted like spinach, which wasn’t his favorite, but it was agreeable enough to want more to quell his hunger.
Einah led Todd further into the depths and they came across some seaweed growing from a shelf in the aquifer wall. Einah cut some off and gave it to Todd.  He tried to take a bite but couldn’t get purchase on the rubbery plant.  She lifted a knife from a thigh sheath hidden by her long gown and gave it to Todd. Surprised by the blade, he cut his finger when he took it and dropped the knife. Einah quickly dove to retrieve it. Todd took a look at his finger. The blade had neatly sliced his index finger to the bone and blood was clouding the water.
Einah could see the blade sparkling as it wobbled below, moving deeper into cooler, darker water.  A warning sounded in her mind that she was entering the hunting ground of the Beast, but she swam all the harder.  Her father had given her that knife!  Finally her hand grabbed the knife as if twisted around and cut her palm deeply, leaving behind a cloud of blood. She let out a scream in pain but she held on to the knife. Einah then bent herself in two, reversed direction and jetted upwards as fast as she could go, her spine tingling as she imagined the eyes of the Beast watching from behind her.
Todd floated above her and saw her swimming towards him.  She had a smile on her face with the knowledge that her father’s knife had been retrieved, and waved at Todd.  His wave turned into a warning and he furiously pointed behind her, with his mind he screamed “Look out!”
Einah turned to look behind her and saw the tentacle reaching out from the darkness.
“AAA-EEEEE!” she screamed. Einah turned again and swam with desperation as her scream joined with the scream of the alarm from the hive, and with the screams of the other Anakdidae racing for safety of their white home above them.
Todd could hardly think with the cacophony in his head as hundreds of minds screamed in disharmony, but he knew he had to do something.  He dove towards Einah, wanting to help any way he could, but before he could reach her, one of the Beast’s muscular tentacles reached up and grabbed Einah around the waste, trapping her arms inside it’s tremendous grip and she was pulled down, her face a mask of fear and dread.  
Todd was overtaken by Gardle racing with incredible speed after Einah. He held a long-bladed sword in his right hand and a knife in the other.  He had a look of determination mixed with anger on his face as he raced by. “Stay back!” Todd heard in his mind.
Gardle had shed the gown and wore nothing but a pair of shorts and a belt to sheath his weapons.  He was wearing a shield that looked like it was from giant sea turtle attached to his back by shoulder straps that crossed his chest. Todd had not noticed how strong Gardle was before. The gown had covered a muscular body, arms and legs that looked built for war.  It was in deep contrast to the gentleness that Gardle normally displayed when fully clothed.
Todd slowed and hovered watching a battle that had been fought over and over again for three thousand years; a battle of wits versus strength.
Gardle with amazing speed overtook Einah and with one acrobatic twirl and a swing of his sword, severed the Beasts tentacle below it’s grasp on Einah. 
Einah sunk lower in the weakened grasp of the severed arm, however, she was unconscious now from the struggle.  Gardle dove again and pulled Einah from the lifless arm of the Beast. He grasped her gently and swam to the safety of the Blessed Hive. Todd followed behind watching her face for signs of life. “Will she be OK” Todd asked Gardle, feeling responsible because he had dropped the knife.
“We’ll see.”  he answered gruffly.
Todd was about to say he was sorry when the alarm sounded again.
“Inside! Quickly!” said Gardle.
They were the last to enter the training room and once inside, Todd heard a horrible screeching sound like metal being ground against metal.  He covered his ears, but the sound was in his head. “What is that!” he asked Gardle.
“That is the Beast. He is very angry and will attack the hive now. Look!” said Gardle pointing below. Todd saw the Beast come up from the depths like a rocket, it’s single eye flaming red!  The door closed and the water drained quickly leaving  Todd alone with Gardle, who was still gently holding Einah in his arms.  “I must get her to the healer!  Your oracle is in your room now, take it to the altar, hurry!”
“I want to go with Einah!” Todd argued.
“You must find the altar of Dagon and activate the defenses or we will all be lost!” he said with urgency in his voice. “I will see to her! Go!”, then he quickly turned and left the room.
Todd asked the Blessed Hive to show him where his room was and followed the blue teardrop down the hallway.  Before he could get there the hive suddenly shook beneath his feet and he was thrown to the ground.  The alarm continued to ring in his head as he got up and ran down the halls. He reached his room and ran through the doorway.  On one wall was his belt, a sword, a knife and a shield. Todd fell to the ground again as the room shook violently. Todd threw off the gown and put on his jeans, his belt and hefted the shield.  It was too heavy for one hand and Todd was going to discard it when he remembered that he would be under water and it should be partially buoyant. He strapped it to his back and put the knife in his belt.  The sword he kept at the ready.
Using all his concentration, he sought out Gardle in his mind. “How is Einah?” he asked.
“Todd? How?” asked Gardle somewhat mystified that Todd could find him this way.
“How is Einah?” Todd insisted.
“The healer is examining her now. It is too early to tell.”
“Is she breathing?”
“No.”
Todd felt sorrow rising in his chest and tears began to form in his eyes. “Thank you Gardle.” he said and the sorrow turned quickly to wrath.
Todd’s face showed determination mixed with anger as he swallowed his fears and commanded the floor to open below him.