The First Savior set off in a ship made from glass. “Below the surface, in the deepest depths, lies a kingdom beyond my kingdom,” said the King upon his departure. “Many men have travelled there never to return. At its center sits the Nether King on his throne of coral offering eternal life to those who brave his dark domain. I fear Luna may have brought the Princess there, to be seduced by the Nether King’s promise and be bound by his power.”
As the ship sailed from the harbor to the open sea, the captain turned to the First Savior and asked “And who would you be, brave Savior?” The First Savior looked through him into the endless horizon and answered “I do not know.”
For three days they sailed, cutting their path through the dark waters of the ocean. They braved baking sun, driving rain, and a storm so fierce the glass masts and sails sang with tension. On the fourth day the captain ordered the sails trimmed and threw out his sea anchor. “We have arrived,” he exclaimed, as the men gathered on the deck. Under their feet, through the hull, and miles below, the faint lights of the kingdom of the Nether King shone like a sparkling gem. The faces of every man but one were grim and filled with tension. At this patch of ocean in the middle of nowhere, many a man had been lured to the Nether King’s domain, and save one, the First Savior, the men wished to start their return and get away from this place as soon as they arrived.
As the First Savior gathered his supplies, the crew prepared his diving bell, a large upturned glass bowl with a thick rope attached to its stem. “Here,” said one of the men, handing the First Savior a bundle containing rods of different metals and a flint stone. “As you descend, tie these rods together and set them ablaze with the flint. They will produce the air you need to breathe and produce a bright white light to show the way.”
The First Savior jumped into the ocean and swam under the diving bell where a harness had been placed to keep his body above water. As the bell descended, he tied his metals together and lit them. They produced a sizzling sound and a fierce white light which threw itself into the green of the ocean turning every speck of dust and creature passing into a bright shining star.
After hours of descent, the First Savior was overcome by sleep and he settled in the harness the darkness around him grew and the bright gem below grew brighter. When he woke some time later, it was to his feet firmly planted on the floor of the sea and the wonders of the Nether Kingdom all around him. At first it appeared empty save for the magnificent glowing corals the size of houses and trees that made up the kingdom. But as he waited and watched, creatures began to emerge of all shapes and sizes, from the mundane fish he had oft purchased dead at the harbor market to the most spectacular giant octopi and jellyfish. Then, through a parting curtain of twinkling silver disks with finns, a man appeared, a mane of long red hair haloing his head, a braided beard drawing a line down his torso, his arms and legs covered in intricate purple tattoos. The man carried a long scepter and wore a seashell like a mask over his nose and mouth. He approached the glass bell and hit the scepter against its outside three times. Inside, each stroke was a deep vibration burrowing to the core of the First Savior, and at the third stroke he was paralyzed. As he watched, the school of silver fish gathered around the edge of the bell and lifted it above his head letting him submerge in the water. Just as he panicked at the loss of breath, the man placed a shell over his mouth and nose and he found he could breathe again. The man put a hand out and let the First Savior find his footing on the ocean floor. The First Savior inspected the intricate artwork weaving its way around the man’s arms and realized it told the story of a people forced undersea by a war fought against monsters in the sky. He looked up at the man’s eyes and saw they were like his own eyes; grey and clear and heavy with melancholy. “Come with me,” the man’s voice boomed form within the shell, “and I will give you eternal life.” The First Savior realized this was the Nether King and before he took another step he stopped and said to the King and the fish and the octopi and the oceans around them, “I am the First Savior, sent by the King to retrieve his daugher the Princess who was taken from us some nights ago. King of the Nether, if you hold the Princess I implore you to let her go.”
The Nether King stopped in his tracks and turned to face the First Savior. His eyes narrowed and his forehead creased in anger.
“I do not have your Princess, nor do I have any other of your people. No person can hold or own another. We are all here by our own volition as we are all free.”
As he said these words, other men and women appeared from behind and underneath rocks and reefs and coral, all covered in tattoos, all wearing shells on their faces.
“You can join us to obtain eternal life,” the Nether King said, holding his arms out as if embracing the entire community of people and animals around him. The First Savior felt the draw of this offer, felt himself fall into the fold they had opened for him. Then he caught himself and fought the urge with all his might and every gram of his being.
“No,” he shouted, at the Nether King and his captive people, “I am here for the Princess. Keep your offers for the weak of mind.”
The Nether King chuckled, his shoulders bobbing up and down like waves on a calm sea. “I do not have your Princess dear Savior. To find her you must seek the one who lives by the burning lake.”
The First Savior shook his head in confusion. “The Burning Lake? Pray tell where this burning lake may be found.”
The Nether King pointed his arms to the sky and said, “Look up and you will find your answer.”
When the men in the glass ship lifted the diving bell to the surface, they found within it the First Savior raving mad and speaking in tongues. Of what he had seen and with whom he had spoken they would never know. Their only clue as to what had transpired was a fresh tattoo covering the First Savior’s right arm depicting a dark figure silhouetted in front of a burning lake.