I, of course, was an outstanding swimmer—standing, as I was, outside of the boat which was inside of the great river of chocolate. Deep inside of it, by my measure. And yes—I was standing! My feet caught a toehold—or my toes caught a foothold—on something. I was worried, of course, even having served as a first-class swimmer in Lincylum—and I'll tell you why:
- I didn't know the potential staining effects of chocolate on my boots
- I didn't know how chocolate might affect my backstroke
- I didn't know where to find a tall glass of milk after all this dessert
- I didn't know what it was I was standing on
- And I didn't want to do what I was about to do—
I dove down into the chocolate and instantly I regretted it. Chocolate surrounds you in a way no pool ever will. It envelopes you, as an envelope might a letter, if that envelope was made of thick slabs of chocolate and if that chocolate was being melted by a river of lava. And lava it felt like, burning the soft places under the eyes, the nose, the ears—singeing the sinuses with a sweet sting.
But still I dove—searching with outstretched fingers for our last and only hope. I felt the brim of the boat, followed the rough of the deck, until I came to it—bundled up in the bundle I left it when I boarded the boat: the egg! The last egg, the one egg that the Ambassador hadn't chickenfied. The one egg I had preserved against the magician's wile plots. I made an underwater motion (underchocolate) with my hands, perfectly mimicking the ambassador's sly moves, and in one fell swoop, turned the egg into a chicken, and the chicken into a Pursuer, and a Pursuer into a...titanium levitation master.
Instantly I felt the chocolate separate, pulling apart as it was lifted up, and me and the boat and Chevron in the boat and the whole of the river and the dark lady of the river with it: clear into the air, higher and higher and higher until...we crashed our collective heads into the ceiling of the underworld and had to start digging UP.
"This is a tedious process," Chevron said.
"You're welcome," I answered. And: "You're right."
Drowning in chocolate may have been a tastier fate.