“This day, you reach the end of a story,” she continues, “and the last of its paths.”
It’s dark inside the whale, but the men appear to be intact.
“Aye, they’ll float,” nods Steady Beard.
“Give me water, and I’ll teach it to carry me!”
“Time flows quickly in contemplation of the Great One’s splendor.”
“Really very sorry for scuttling your promotion and all that,” offers Steady Beard.
“Shouldn’t you be a bit more chipper, having won and all?” prods Steady Beard.
“Right, then. Let’s be off!” commands Brave Beard, striking a leaderly pose.
The creature drags the struggling men deeper beneath the waves, finally tossing them aside in disgust.
“Quick, while we’ve a chance!” whispers Hasty Beard, leading the way to the boat.
“Great idea!” cuts in Steady Beard. “How about a demonstration?”
The orbs lead on, out through the cavern’s deep tunnels and beyond the island.
Following the glow of moonlight, the men step out eagerly into the night.
The men paddle furiously, but the widening vortex is inescapable.
Collapsing, the maelstrom tosses the men in their barrels toward the surface.
The men push off, paddling the raft beyond the island and into the night.
With a rumble, the island sinks slowly into the sea, carrying all hands with it.
Surfacing, they find themselves men once more, who, for the moment, splash about like happy children under the moonlit sky.
Heedless of the warning, the burly seals spread out as they swim, until the spell around them weakens and they become human once more.
With a piercing screech, the creature disappears back into the depths.
The jaws snap shut over the shattered tree, launching the men out into the deepening darkness.
Clinging to wooden barrels, they watch their beloved ship sink into the depths.
Finding the dark water empty, the men quickly regret their course of action.
“Er, hullo,” stammers Brave Beard.
The absurdity of underwater speech only adds to the wonder apparent on his face.