Deep below the waves lies a pearl. White-golden in color, it is the subject of both myth and legend, guarded by a Child of the Storm. Born in a breath of lightning, her life was never created, so she waits for her eternity to end. She watches the ocean change over the millennia, feels the ocean currents shift, and the pull of the moon each time it crowds the sky and dims the stars. But deep in her muddy home, the land is the one thing beyond her archaic mind.

Sailors, murderers, widows, and hopeless children: all have fallen to the deception of the white-gold pearl. They fall beneath the surface, believing they will finally be the one to steal it from the sea. Most of these barely make it to the water before turning back. The first sight of her black oceans stills their curiosity and strikes down their wandering spirits. Others are dealt with at the first taste of her fury, the malicious waves drowning them. Every century or so, some scarred and damaged-minded old man penetrates the water's depths. She is ready. Without the beat of a heart or second thought, she concentrates the dark sea around him, freezing his mind and stilling his heart for ad infinitum. What is left drifts along the bottom until she is sure their loved ones have suffered.

Far above the sea and many miles inland lives one man. He is not of huge stature, nor does he posses great intelligence or wit. His mother was a slave and his father had been some wandering, omnipotent knight with a deceptive smile. And even though he had been created through less than perfect events, his mother loved him much. So saying, everyone loved him. His lack in certain areas only magnified the love and benevolence of his heart and mind. His heart was brighter than the stars and won the respect of all those he met.

The mother and son lived in poverty all their life. Together, they resided in a hovel just inside their town. It was a dreadful place to struggle through life and both suffered from constant afflictions. From one cold to the next alien ailment, there was no rest. What they earned was a scarce amount – almost not worth mentioning – and was used to keep each other alive, if not perfectly well. I must say again, they were a breed above others in their view of life; they lived piously, without regret or sorrow.

The black plague spread through the land like a night without morning. It cast a shadow much like that of the Angel of Death over Egypt. It took down those who though they were invincible, the ones in their prime, the sick and helpless, the weak. Many hid behind locked doors and spoke only in whispers, fearing to bring the finality of death upon them. But no one, even the righteous, was safe. All were hunted down like animals and taken by the tens of thousands.

In the disheveled abode, the two I spoke of prayed constantly. Days past after the disease first wracked their city, then weeks, and eventually months. Until finally, those left living believed they would keep doing so. The mother and son were the most hopeful for their small family had gone untouched while many others had been wiped out completely.

She died. Like a quick frost killing a flower, so her life was taken, silent and unknowingly until the first rays of morning. No sign of disease marked her body, and he could not remember her gasping for breathe or suffering any symptoms. There was no sign that she had slowly been eaten away by the black disease. He found her lying in the bed, stiff with rigor mortis and cold from the lack of life. Staring down, he dares not breathe for fear that his exhale of air would break the ignorance protecting his mind.

Another dead woman, although this she pertains the semblance of life, can feel the death radiating from the land in the form of dead bodies. They float over and on, clogging her ocean. She does not stir, of course, and waits for the barrage of corpses to end.

Life seems devoid of worth to him. Without any ties to it, he walks like a ghost through the city, not caring what will happen in the next instant. People watch sadly and comment on his poor situation. But instants later they turn away and forgot about his greater troubles for their own petty ones. He stands alone in a crowd of worshippers, praying that he will one day be able to rejoice once again. One man, a fellow beggar, notices his lost look.

The former son, now an orphan, allows himself to be pulled out of the church and away from the sound of the organ. Only the stones beneath his bare feet hold his attention as the old man explains the great myth of the white-golden pearl. How, if it was found, it would grant the deepest desire of its master and forever bring hope.

Hope. What a terrible word. The son can only think of how foolish he had been. He had hoped all his life to become someone great, to pull his mother and himself out of the terrible niche created for them. Now, there was nothing remaining.

More words escape from the old beggar's mouth, none shaking the younger man out of his puddle of self-pity and depression. If only he could drown in it and disappear forever…

Again, the promise of his deepest desire is mentioned. Wouldn't he like his mother to be alive again? Wouldn't he want to live in an actual home? Wouldn't he her to watch him marry and raise his own children? The beggar reads his mind, poking and tearing open every blocked memory.

At the edge of her sea there is no life. Not a blade of grass adds to the bereavement colors to the divide between land and sea. There are no footprints or tracks traipsing across the sand, nor half burned logs depicting existence of any kind. He stands and looks over the black water without fear. No emotion crosses his features as he walks to the edge. Coldness seeps up through his legs and to his mind. It twists his thoughts, trying to get him to turn around to nothing. Nothing is nothing, it reminds, and there is always room for improvement. To him, what is left lies ahead and he steps into the cold salt water. It comes to his knees. To his stomach. And finally, to his neck. One last prayer is sent up to the heavens before he plugs forward. The minerals in the water sting his eyes and waves try in vain to pull him back to the shore.

Never does he stop, wanting to reach her lair before he loses his slight grip on sanity. The sun rises over him, breaking though the clouds for the first time. It strikes the black ocean and changes it to a pleasant blue. More hours pass. Currents begin to pull him forward rather than backwards.

Water changes color around her. Instead of the tomblike shades, there is a thread of something else coming down. The strings surround her and she feels the unpleasantness of something. There had always been darkness. No light had every shown her surroundings or what she herself might look like. It was all so wrong.

Rocks rise in front of him. Ships are impaled upon their pointed spires and are position like un-concordant bones. With naught to go back to, he continues forward, slipping between the rocks recklessly. No one cares whether or not he lives through this experience.

More wrongness comes down to her depths. She can't stand it. A pale shadow darker than her surroundings appears when she places her hand before her eyes. Pain fills her head as the brightness increases. Pushing waves into the sky, she creates a storm to block out the discomfort. The chaos sends the darkness swirling around her and she revels in it the cacophony.

No fear of death keeps him from swimming directly into the storm. At the center rests the white golden pearl, or so said the old man. Crashing waves tower over him to touch the sky. Lightning strikes them, sending a shock through the water.

Each hit creates another lifeless cadaver to wreak havoc through the oceans. The lady on the bottom feels her new sisters being created. Each one is a replica of the other, just as she has her own set to belong to.

Oxygen fills his lungs for the last time. He would not come up again. Sinking under the waves, he swims toward in the direction he believes she waits. A minutes passes and he losses all sense of up or down. Floating down here, without sunlight, is what he had dreamed of. A dark shape appears ahead of him, and another, smaller, shape glows beside it.

There is something coming, she sees. The pearl behind her begins to glow a soft white color. She hisses and shrinks away from the light. Closer and closer the figure comes while the light increases its brightness.

Entranced by the glow of the pearl, he doesn't notice the wraith hiding in his shadow. She holds a spear of darkness and sneaks closer. Once he would reach for the pearl, she plans, she would watch him fall. This loss of life would be most satisfying for her.

The light is so bright that even he is blinded. Still, he is drawn to it, ignoring the burning want of oxygen and the throb as his heart tries to keep beating. His shadow shrinks and behind him, she shrieks as it touches her. The unnatural noise passes unheeded by his ears, so focused is he on the pearl.

It is too much, it burns, it is killing her. Darkness is becoming to her but light is the equivalent of a land dweller breathing water. She can't take it but neither can she let him take the pearl.

Finally, it is in his hands and he turns for whatever reason. Maybe he thought it was like leaving a house or room: you have to go back the way you came. Or he thought his mother was with him and turned to show her ghost the wonderful treasure. Whatever the reason, he turned and faced her.

She floats inches above the ocean floor, frozen by the sight of the pearl in his hand. Equally frozen is the wish in his mind, enchanted is he by her strangeness. To any average human, she is a skeleton. Hair like seaweed floats around her head and tries to cover her sunken eyes, their color a blue so dark it seemed black. No tail replaces the bottom half of her body, she has two legs. Ragged cloth covers her and floats around her derelict shape.

She is a princess swallowed by the sea, to him. He imagines her dancing through the sand, innocent and beautiful and wise. She would have been the shining monarch of her kingdom. Her father and mother would have waited patiently until she came of age, then relinquished their title to her. She wouldn't need a king to help her rule. Her pride and wisdom would be too strong for any man to accept. He would have had to hide in her shadow for his entire life. Even without a soul to reside with, she would pull children from the streets as her heirs. The crippled beggars would be her advisors and blind men her priests. The kingdom would be lead through its golden age, following behind her, both glad and thankful to follow, never wanting to lead.

An evil spirit must have pulled her beneath the surface as she twirled across the sand. A giant wave would have swallowed her. Being too afraid that it would get someone else, she would not have screamed. Down into the ocean she would go and never see the sun.

The light does not disturb her anymore. Opening her eyes slightly, she can see the human in front of her. He isn't like the others. He is the first to see her and not die of fear. To bad he didn't swim away, though. Now his doom was sealed.

Staring is supposed to be rude but he doesn't care. The great lack of feeling in her eyes is too sad. His mother had been happy once. She had died peacefully and would not want to be taken from her eternal rest. In front of him was someone who had suffered in the cold forever. He desired to see her laugh and smile in her rightful form, not the wasted one in front of him.

The spear was left to dissolve back into the water. A bow and arrow are pulled from the darkness behind her. She opens her eyes wide and takes aim. The heart would be on her right, and the perfect place to hit. The pearl would fall from his dead hand and all this trouble would be over. Next time, she would be more prepared.

I want her to live, he thought, and come with me back to the surface.

Her chest twists. A burning liquid runs through her veins. She gasps and pulls in water instead of oxygen for her first breathe. Beating, her heart sends the salty liquid to be mixed with the blood and forever taint her. Her head aches from the new pulse. Every finger is on fire from the living her. To her, everything is boiling.

Distress is evident from her thrashing. He is reminded of his own need of oxygen. Looking up, all he sees is darkness. It seems to be growing thicker, gathering around both of them. The white golden pearl begins to dim. Before its light disappears completely, he grabs her hand and swims with the dead weight back to the ocean's surface; both her and the pearl stolen from the sea.