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.