“Geq-Cu III,” Chrístõ said as he stepped out of his TARDIS onto the treeline above a narrow strip of silvery sand lapped by a grey-green sea. “The Planet of Secrets.”

“Sounds like a very bad spy novel,” Axyl commented. Earth literature had become his passion. He had read every piece of fiction available to him on his electronic reader.

“What’s the secret?” Cinnamal asked in a bored tone that suggested he didn’t really care.

“I think I know,” Diol said. He was looking towards the distant horizon. The sky didn’t quite meet the water there. There was the merest smudge of a line that suggested a far coastline at least as wide as the one they were standing upon. This sea was more like straits between two landmasses. Diol smiled widely.

“It’s impressive,” he added.

“What is?” His brother looked at him keenly. He could sense Diol’s excitement, but he couldn’t yet understand what it was about. Then Axyl followed his gaze and he, too, saw it. “Wow.”

“What the @£$%& are you two on about?” Cinnamal demanded. “There’s nothing there but water.”

“You have to look with your soul as well as your eyes,” Chrístõ told him. “If anyone cares about the science, it’s caused by an oblique refraction of light in the atmosphere.”

Axyl and Diol didn’t care. Oblique refractions of light couldn’t account for the compulsion to look with longing at the far off place that Cinnamal, to his frustration, still couldn’t see.

“That waterfall... is it really possible for so much water to keep on coming?” Diol asked. “You’d think it would run out eventually. It’s magnificent. There’s nothing like it in the Shining System.”

“The Geq-Mar falls,” Chrístõ said. “Fed by the twin rivers of Geq and Mar that rise in the Cu mountains further north. The meltwaters of six glaciers swell the rivers all year round so there is always a massive torrent tumbling down the eight hundred metre cliffside into the Geq Cauldron. That, in its turn, empties out over the lesser falls of a mere fifty metres into the Mar Straits where the constant addition of ice cold fresh water into the temperate salt water causes a unique feature – a fresh water river in the sea that actually flows, even against the tide, right across the straits to Gequin Peninsula, two miles down the coast here, where it meets the Geq river and forms a freshwater lake on the edge of the sea.”

Axyl and Diol were both entranced. Cinnamal still couldn’t see what they were all making such a fuss about.

“Close your eyes and empty your mind,” Chrístõ told him. “Stop believing that you know everything and be open to the possibility that there is more in the universe than you could possibly know even in a Time Lord lifetime.”

It was a huge concept for Cinnamal Hext. He had been raised in the traditional way of young Gallifreyan aristocrats, to think he was a superior being. But he gave it a try.

“Oh!” he murmured as he opened his eyes and looked again. “Oh, yes. I can see it, now. The waterfall... so high there’s snow at the top.”

“You’re making it up,” Axyl told him. “There’s no snow.”

Cinnamal swore in Low Gallifreyan. Chrístõ admonished him for it.

“You’ll see it when we’re close, anyway,” he said. “Everyone grab a handle and help haul these down to the shoreline.”

There were two long, heavy canvas bags. Axyl took hold of one side of the nearest one. Chrístõ took the other. Cinnamal, fuming with annoyance because he had not only failed the ‘test’ but had been found out in a lie took hold of the other with Diol. He remarked once that manual labour was for Caretakers, and again Chrístõ found it necessary to admonish him.

“There are no Caretakers here,” he said. “We are all equally responsible for the equipment, and for each other’s safety on this field trip.”

“Is it dangerous?” Axyl asked him. He looked at the sea. It seemed tranquil enough.

“Lord Parnassa’s botany class is dangerous if you’re stupid enough to stick your hand into the jaw of a flesh-eating hydra plant,” Chrístõ pointed out. The two brothers laughed. They’d sat in that particular classroom, aware of sinister rustlings from the specimen shelves and the fact that it was the only classroom in the Academy where there were never any insects, even in the warmest days of summer.

Cinnamal didn’t laugh. He was, Chrístõ noted, sulking, which was thoroughly unbecoming of a Time Lord candidate, especially one of high Oldblood ancestry.

Chrístõ knew about sulking. He had done a fair bit of it himself when he was young, when he had felt that he ought to have had a bit more of his father’s attention or a little more sympathy for the fact that he was the only child on the estate without a mother.

He had stopped doing that by the time he was fifteen. And just as well. It would have cut little ice when he got to the Prydonian Academy where he was considered the least important and unworthy of all the Tyros. Complaining that anything was unfair was useless when there was nobody interested in hearing the complaint.

He wasn’t prepared to hear Cinnamal’s complaint, now. Besides, if he thought carrying a heavy pack down to the waterside across a soft, sandy beach was hard work, then he had more shocks ahead.

The packs contained two inflatable boats, camping equipment and food supplies for a four day trip away from the TARDIS. The tents were light, geothermal, self erecting and the food was hydrated discs that weighed very little. The weight had mostly been the boats which had to be sturdy enough for a sea trip.

“You’re kidding!” Cinnamal looked out to sea. The smudge on the horizon had to be at least two hundred miles away.

“Nothing wrong with your sense of distance,” Chrístõ commented. “You can come in this boat with me. Axyl and Diol can take the second boat.”

He had thought of splitting the brothers and making Cinnamal work with one of them, but he wasn’t sure he could trust him not to make the Caretaker boy do all the work. Besides, the two brothers worked well together. Why break them up?

He divided the equipment and food between the two boats and the four of them pushed off through the surf before getting into position. They took up the oars and fought against the incoming waves until they reached the deeper water where there was less pull against them.

“It’s not a race,” Chrístõ called out to the two boys in the other boat. “We’ve got a long way to go. A steady pace will get us there easier than trying to break records.” He turned to Cinnamal. “A steady pace means we both row strongly. You’re not a passenger.”

He wished he didn’t have to nag the boy. It wasn’t the ideal way to get the best out of him, but Cinnamal lacked self-discipline. It was the main reason why Chrístõ thought something involving physical effort would be good for him. He couldn’t delegate the hard work to anyone else. He couldn’t slack off. There was no way to cheat.

To his credit, he didn’t try to cheat. He pulled at his set of oars strongly. He was clearly no expert at it, but he matched Chrístõ’s pace and the boat cut through the waves swiftly. The Malcanan brothers were always very slightly ahead. They were both strong and used to hard work and their stamina was impressive. They were very probably, Chrístõ admitted to himself, a little fitter than he was. Until the three students came to live with him he had fallen out of the habit of a daily training regime. He often didn’t even get around to meditating for a bare hour some days. He had been living more like a Human, getting up from his bed, eating breakfast, going to work, coming home in the evening ready to relax and forget about the disciplines of the dojo or gym.

Having them around had helped him focus himself again. He was living as a Gallifreyan, with his day punctuated by exercise and meditation, as well as study of the philosophies and histories of his world. They were all learning from it.

“Why can’t I see it?” Cinnamal asked, looking into the distance again. He wasn’t complaining this time. He was simply asking what it was that kept him from seeing what the others could see.

“I don’t know,” Chrístõ answered. “At first, I think it was because you didn’t really believe. Now, I think you’re trying too hard. You feel humiliated because Axyl and Diol can do something you can’t and you’re desperate to match them.”

“I’m not... humiliated. I’m an Oldblood. We don’t do humiliation.”

“Don’t bet on it,” Chrístõ told him. “I’ve been humiliated plenty of times. Especially at the Prydonian Academy.”

“Yes. But you’re...” Cinnamal began. Then he actually blushed in embarrassment.

“I may be born of a Human mother, but I was also born to one of the Twelve Ancient Houses. Don’t underestimate either, Cinnamal Hext.”

“I... don’t,” he answered less certainly. “Even if you are a half blood... you are still a war hero. You and my brother liberated Gallifrey.”

“Not just us,” Chrístõ reminded him. “We had allies.”

The war was probably the one thing they all had in common in one way or another. Cinnamal had lived in fear, lived with the uncertainty of the invasion. His father and brother had been part of the resistance, and he might have lost them both. Many families, Oldblood, Newblood and Caretaker, had suffered that way. The Houses of Hext and de Lœngbærrow were fortunate in that respect. Chrístõ thought briefly of some of those who were not.

“You... didn’t even like Malika Dúccesci,” Cinnamal said to him. Chrístõ realised he had been thinking of his former opponent on the lacrosse field. “Why does his death upset you?”

“Maybe because I didn’t like him,” Chrístõ answered. “It’s easier to grieve for friends I have good memories for than somebody I have nothing but bitter remembrances of.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“That’s the Human part of me. Irrational and illogical.”

“His mother is having another baby,” Cinnamal added. For a moment Chrístõ didn’t realise he meant Malika Dúccesci’s mother.

“You’re obviously better acquainted with society gossip than I am. But if that’s true, then I am glad. It will be a small comfort to her. I hope it’s a boy. They’ll have an heir again. One less Oldblood House dying out because of the Mallus and their cruelty.”

Cinnamal Hext understood about that as well as any Oldblood might.

“There was a time... when my father was in the thick of the resistance fighting and Parry was offworld... I thought I would end up being the only one left... Patriarch of the House of Hext.”

“I hope you’re not disappointed that you’re not,” Chrístõ told him.

“No,” Cinnamal assured him quickly. “I was... relieved. I don’t want to be patriarch... not that way... and not... I’m not even finished school... I wouldn’t know how.”

Chrístõ thought that was the most open and honest thing he’d heard Cinnamal say about himself.

They fell silent again, concentrating on the task of rowing hard and steady. They were in the salt water, not the fresh water channel. That would have been harder since the current ran in the opposite direction. It was enough of a challenge this way.

Then the two brothers started to call out. Chrístõ didn’t see what was bothering them at first. Then he saw the sinister shadow below their boat. It could have been a large fish – something like a whale.

“Row towards us,” he called out to them. “Stick close, until we know what this is.”

The shadow was getting bigger. The latent precognition that he very rarely used because it made his head ache sounded thrumming alarms in his head. They were all in very grave and immediate danger and he was powerless to do anything about it. He couldn’t save himself and he couldn’t protect the three boys he was supposed to be in charge of.

Whatever it was, it was causing a serious swell in the sea. It wasn’t anything approaching a tsunami, but the two collapsible boats were being pitched and tossed dangerously. Chrístõ threw a rope to the Malcannan brothers and they lashed the boats side by side, riding the waves together.

“Whatever it is, it’s getting closer,” Cinnamal observed. “It could be a ship… a… what do they call them on other worlds… a sub…mariner…”

“Submarine,” Chrístõ corrected him. “I don’t think so. It’s too big. I thought at first… a whale… or some animal like it…”

None of his students knew what a whale was until they looked into his mind and saw images of them in Earth’s oceans. But they agreed that the shadow beneath them was far too big to be one of those, either. At least not unless whales were much bigger on Geq-Cu III.

Then the two brothers yelped in unison. There was a ripping sound and something pushed up through the bottom of their boat. Chrístõ’s first thought was that it was Neptune’s trident, except that it had five prongs, not three. His second thought was to yell to the brothers to abandon their boat. They scrambled into the other boat as Chrístõ took a knife and slashed the rope that lashed them together. As soon as it was free, the boat with all four of them aboard slid away as if it was a sledge going down a hill.

“What is… THAT!” Cinnamal exclaimed, looking up at the thing that had snagged the other boat. It still looked like Neptune with his trident held aloft, although the head of the statue and one arm had broken off over time. He was made of some kind of metal that was tarnished green-blue and partially encrusted with barnacles and draped with fronds of seaweed.

‘Neptune’ was atop a huge dome of the same kind of metal, similarly tarnished and bearing signs of having been underwater for a long time. The boat the four adventurers were in had slid down it and into the water again. But that water was getting shallower by the minute. The building that the dome topped rose up beside them. Walls of pale white stone, discoloured and seaweed draped, rose up all around them, in fact. They were in a ‘street’ between buildings. They were not entirely surprised when the boat scraped against a stone pavement as the last inches of water drained away.

Diol stood warily and stepped out of the boat. His brother did the same. Chrístõ and Cinnamal looked at each other and realised it was utterly pointless sitting in a boat that was now high and dry and climbed out, too. They walked along the ‘street’ until they came to what, for want of a better word, they called a ‘beach’. Waves lapped a rocky foreshore, each one falling back a little shorter than the previous one. The tide was going out.

“I am not even going to start guessing how it happened,” Chrístõ said. “But it seems that an island has risen from the sea. It looks as if it used to be an inhabited island... but it sank. And now it’s risen again.”

“Can that happen?” Cinnamal asked.

“I’ve never heard of it happening before,” Chrístõ answered. “But I don’t claim to know everything about the universe. It’s possible... if there was some kind of shift in a fault line under the sea... it could push the land up. But the sea was perfectly calm. We would have felt an underwater earthquake. And it happened so fast. We saw it rising up underneath us, and we had no chance to get away. I just can’t explain it.”

“It’s fantastic,” Axyl said. “Let’s explore it properly.”

“Why not,” Chrístõ agreed. “It’s not what I had planned for this trip, but as a test of resourcefulness it’s as good as anything else this planet has to offer.”

He had absolutely no intention of NOT exploring it. It was exactly the sort of wonder that made him want to leave his home world and explore the galaxy in the first place. The idea of taking the boat and rowing away never even entered his head.

“It must have been an advanced civilisation,” Axyl commented as they walked through the rapidly drying streets of the risen city. “These buildings are as strongly built as any we have on Gallifrey. Look at that structure. It looks like it might have been a library or a temple. They had culture and learning.”

“What happened to them?” Diol asked. “Did they have time to escape when the island sank, or will there be bodies inside these buildings?”

None of them were especially superstitious. They knew that the dead could not harm them. But the thought was enough to keep them from entering any of the grand buildings with their once gleaming cupolas and spires.

“I wonder what that was for,” Axyl said looking at a stone pillar with metal rings set into it a little above head height for an average humanoid. He stood and reached up to the rings with both hands. His companions all looked at him with arms raised and knew exactly what the rings were for.

“It’s a place of punishment,” Diol said. “Imagine if your hands were tied to those rings and you were left there with your arms getting heavier and heavier and the sun beating down on you. They might have flogged people here, too, or left them to die of exposure as an execution.”

“Yes,” Chrístõ said. “I think you’re probably right. It proves one thing. The people who once lived here were bipeds with a skeletal structure like ours, about the same average height.”

“They may have been bipeds,” Cinnamal remarked. “But they didn’t look like us.” Chrístõ was on the point of asking how he knew that when he saw the bas relief mural on the wall of another elaborate building with not only four verdigris covered cupolas but a dozen or more spires.

The figures in the mural were, as Cinnamal observed, bipeds. They had a torso with two legs, two arms and a head. The heads were elongated with a wide mouth, flattened nostrils and bulging eyes at the top of the head.

“They’re like flaggis,” Axyl commented. Chrístõ had been thinking of frogs. The amphibious creatures called flaggis were indigenous to Gallifrey. It said something about how long he had been away from home that he thought of the species from Earth. But both he and Axyl were right. The heads of the creatures in the mural were frog-like – or flaggis-like. The figures were all in profile. Again, Chrístõ thought of ancient Egyptian frescoes on temple ruins in the Nile Delta. His students remembered that the heroic figures on the front of the library in the southern Gallifreyan city of Athenica were all in profile. It didn’t signify anything other than a forgotten art form.

“The people on the mainland aren’t like that,” Diol reminded his friends. “They’re more like us, except blonde and pale skinned. So I think these might have perished when the disaster hit them.”

That was a reasonable guess, Chrístõ noted. His students were thinking about what they were seeing and constructing theories about the mysterious city. That was good. That was exactly what he was supposed to be encouraging in them.

He wasn’t absolutely certain that Diol’s theory was correct, though. He had no evidence to counter it, but a gut instinct told him not to write off the frog-like inhabitants of this risen Atlantis so readily.

“Atlantis?” The three students all picked up that name from his somewhat rambling thoughts. Unconsciously he had conjured images of the Human legend. They had picked those up, too.

“It’s a legend,” he said. “Nobody even knows if it ever existed. But this place is definitely real.”

“It’s...” Diol’s precognition kicked in again. He looked around fearfully.

“Somebody needs to give you some extra training with that,” Chrístõ commented. “You’re like a miner’s canary, sniffing out danger, but we never know for certain what SORT of danger.”

Diol wasn’t sure what a miner’s canary was, and he wasn’t entirely sure if the comparison was a fair one. But he was certain that there was danger somewhere. Chrístõ reached for his sonic screwdriver. It was a tool, not a weapon, but in desperation the laser cutting mode could be effective. Sometimes, just holding it in a defensive way, as he would hold a sword, was enough. He hoped it would be on this occasion.

The mural shuddered and a deep crack appeared down the centre of it. The heavy stone wall it was fixed to grinded loudly on old bearings and pushed out like two great, three foot thick doors. Beyond them was a dark place that reeked of damp. A tide of trapped seawater flooded out, splashing over their feet.

And wading through it came the Atlanteans with pale grey frog faces and glistening flesh that looked as if it might retain surface moisture even in the dry air. They were naked except for a sort of leathery cloth around their loins and more of the cloth around their feet. They carried long staves with sharpened ends that they pointed aggressively at the four Gallifreyans.

Chrístõ lowered his sonic screwdriver. He didn’t want to be the first to make an offensive move. As things stood, they were the intruders into the city. These were the indigenous people. They were within their rights to point their weapons at them.

“We... come in peace,” he said, feeling that it was a ridiculously clichéd thing to say, but as far as he was concerned, absolutely true. “We mean you no harm. Do you understand me?”

There was no obvious rank among the troops, but one of them stepped forward, blinking those huge bulging eyes and finishing off a half-formed theory that these might have been some kind of masks. The frogman looked at Chrístõ and his students with undisguised curiosity and then turned and made a hooting sound. Eight of the troops moved forward swiftly and the Gallifreyans were made their prisoners with very little resistance.

“Stay calm,” Chrístõ told his students telepathically as they were herded into the dark building. “We don’t know what their intentions are, yet. We may be in no danger.”

“We’re going down,” Axyl noted. It was nearly pitch dark and smelt like a place that had been underwater until a short while ago, and the floor sloped steeply. The surface was rough, littered with what felt like pieces of broken masonry. Without the guards holding them tightly, they might easily have fallen, especially since their captors were forcing them to move at a brisk pace that could fairly be called a jog.

They became aware of a dim light ahead and quickly emerged into a wide, high chamber that they all felt was deep under the surface of the city. The air felt damp but not in quite the same way that the chamber above had felt. It hadn’t been flooded with water.

The light came from the walls of the chamber itself, a natural phosphoresce. In its eerie glow they saw dozens of pools of water in which were suspended what for want of a better word Chrístõ decided to call frogspawn. Both the Earth creatures and the Gallifreyan equivalent laid hundreds of eggs within clear sacs of protein which developed to tadpoles before eating their way through the sac to live a precarious life in the open water. The same seemed to be the case for these creatures, except the tadpoles developing within the glistening sacs were at least three foot from rounded head to tail tip. The sight of them squirming around in the shallow pools was more than a little repulsive.

“They’re alive,” Diol noted, speaking telepathically. “They’re....”

“Yes, I know,” Chrístõ answered. “The guards seem to be the only adult forms around.”

“Good,” Cinnamal commented. “I don’t like the look of them at all.”

“If we went through the galaxy worrying about how other beings looked, we would very bad judges of character,” Chrístõ told him. “The people of Fahot and Ay'Ydiwo look very unusual to us, and the Alpha Centaurans. But they are among our planet’s closest allies.”

“I don’t like the FEEL of them,” Diol added. “My precognition is hammering at my head non-stop. I really don’t think they’re friendly, Chrístõ.”

“Nevertheless, I am, as well as your teacher, an agent for the CIA and Crown Prince of Adano Ambrado, still a member of the Gallifreyan Diplomatic Corps, and my first duty on encountering an unknown race is clear.”

Their guards stopped before something that in all cultures would be most simply described as a throne. It was a huge chair made of elaborately carved white stone inlaid with what looked like precious jewels except that even Chrístõ and Cinnamal whose fathers both owned diamond mines had never seen a jewel as big as these.

“Don’t even think about it,” Chrístõ said telepathically to the younger son of the House of Hext. “Any treasure these beings own stays with them. That sort of idea only leads to trouble.”

“I wasn’t thinking anything,” Cinnamal protested. But that was a lie. A covetousness that was thoroughly unbecoming a Time Lord had reared its head. Of course, Chrístõ noted, Cinnamal was a second son in a society where primogeniture was the hard and fast rule. He stood to inherit nothing except by the generosity of his older brother. Chrístõ was fairly sure Paracell Hext WOULD be generous to him, but Cinnamal was expected to find his own fortune and he wasn’t entirely to blame if he saw opportunity in this odd place.

But it couldn’t be allowed, all the same.

The Malcannan brothers, who didn’t even dream of ever having a fortune to call their own were more concerned with the being that sat upon the throne. It was the centre of Chrístõ’s attention, too. It was huge by any measure. Its arms and legs were barrel-shaped and its loincloth was nearly impossible to see because its stomach folded over it in a thick layer. Its face was bloated and the frog eyes almost hidden under the flab.

Christo wondered when the creature last stood up from that throne and then decided he didn’t want or need to know.

“Your majesty,” he said, bowing courteously as he had always been taught to do in the presence of royalty.

“The ssssmall creature isss polite,” said what he mentally called the frog queen judging by the pitch of the sibilant tone reminiscent of water running over gravel. “Where wasssss it found?”

“Above in the plassse of the dry-feet,” replied the leader of the guards that had taken them prisoner. “Thessse are all there isss. The othersss are gone.”

“Do you mean that there were humanoids in the city once?” Chrístõ asked. “What happened to them? Did they escape when the city sank, or did they drown?”

“I care not what happened to the creaturessss that infessst the dry land,” replied the queen. “We have no usssse for thossse. We have no ussse for you except as protein for the hatchlings.”

“I... don’t think that would be a good idea,” Chrístõ responded. He stepped back slowly. His students did the same. But, of course, they were hopelessly outnumbered. They were surrounded and held. Chrístõ’s sonic screwdriver was confiscated. They were bound with ropes that appeared to be made of some kind of seaweed and dragged out of the hatchery/throne room and back up through the dark upper chamber and into the drowned city above once again. Nobody was entirely surprised when more of the seaweed rope was used to bind them to the rings on the punishment pillar.

“We are in trouble,” Diol said when the guards filed away leaving them to their fate.

“We are if we don’t get these ropes loose,” Cinnamal replied. “We’re not as exposed here as we were on Utar Kapesh, but that just makes it worse. We’ll die of exposure slowly instead of quickly.

“We’re going to die a lot faster than that,” Axyl said. “And not from exposure. Look at our feet.”

They all looked down. There was water trickling over their shoes.

“The island is sinking again,” Chrístõ noted. His calm observance of the fact surprised his students. “I suppose I should have expected it to happen. There must be some kind of natural build up of gases in a subterranean chamber that pushes it up every so often. The gases would slowly escape and it would sink again.”

“That’s an interesting scientific theory,” Diol told him. “But... I don’t really want to be this close to the practical application of it.”

“Me, neither,” Chrístõ admitted. “Just hang on a little while longer, and don’t panic. This isn’t going to be pleasant, but we do have one slim chance.”

“The spawn... those creatures... are going to be released, you know.”

“Yes, I know,” Chrístõ answered. “That’s a part of it all. The frog queen down there...” He looked at the still open doors to the upper chamber. The still shallow water was rushing in. They could hear it cascading down the slope to the lower chamber where the frog queen held her strange court. “I don’t think she and the adults are completely comfortable immersed in water. That lower chamber seals from the inside. I have a theory that the spawnlings will be hatching about now. They’ll start to swim out and...”

Axyl gave a startled gasp. There were frog people coming along the slowly drowning street from the sea. These were less pallid than the ones they had encountered below. It occurred to all four of them at once that these ones had got a lot more sun on their faces!

“The last hatching, returned as young adults,” Chrístõ said. “And look...”

The first of the spawnlings were emerging from the chamber, swimming against the tide strongly, their tails whipping up the still shallow water around their older brothers who were going in the opposite direction. They had taken no notice of the prisoners. They were moving with some urgency down into the chamber. Not long after the last of them had disappeared there was a grinding sound from deep within. The lower chamber had sealed itself.

“There weren’t as many returning as there are coming out,” Diol said. “I suppose it’s the same as it is with flaggis. Hundreds are born, but only a few survive to adulthood with so many bigger things in the sea to eat them?”

“Funny way to survive,” Axyl noted.

“I’d sympathise,” Cinnamal responded with more than a hint of sarcasm. “If our chances of survival weren’t as dismal as theirs.”

The wave of spawnlings clustered about the ankles of the prisoners, and they felt the unpleasant touch of their mouths on their skin, but they weren’t bitten.

“I don’t really think we’re soft enough for them to eat, yet,” Axyl suggested. “When we’ve rotted away and bits drop off our bones...”

“We’ll be away from here before then,” Chrístõ assured them. “But it really won’t be pleasant for a while, I’m sorry to say. You can all recycle your breathing, I suppose? You’ve learnt that already?”

“Yes... but...” Diol worked it out first. “Oh... Oh, no. You must be joking. Chrístõ... you can’t be serious.”

His brother caught on, too, and added his voice to the protest.

“It’s the only way,” Chrístõ told them. “These ropes are made of dried seaweed. They’re too strong to break. But when they get wet, they’ll soften and expand. We’ll be able to get our hands free.”

“But our hands are above our heads,” Cinnamal pointed out.

“Yes, I’m sorry. That’s why it won’t be pleasant for a while. But look over there. Once we ARE free, we’ll be home and dry. Well... nearly.”

The three young students looked where their teacher was looking. The boat, still fully laden with the supplies for their camping weekend, had drifted up the street on the rising tide. It was heading towards the open door to the upper chamber but those doors were closing. The boat came to a halt against the frogmen mural, the trailing ropes from when they had tried to save the second boat snagging and anchoring it there. As the tide rose up to their waists the boat bobbed securely, so tantalisingly close to them.

“This really ISN’T pleasant,” Diol said as the waves lapped his chest. “Chrístõ, are you SURE this will work?”

“I’m sure,” he answered. “Trust me, as you’ve never trusted me before.”

“We trust you,” Axyl assured them. “But... even so...”

“If I drown, my father is not going to be pleased with you, even if you ARE a war hero,” Cinnamal Hext pointed out.

“If you drown, we’ll all be drowned with you,” Diol told him. “Including Chrístõ. He’s hardly going to escape and leave us all.”

It was a risk. Chrístõ was worried as the water slowly rose past his neck and he closed his mouth tightly against it. Soon he was recycling his breathing with his head underwater. It was a horrible sensation, and none of them could do it for much more than fifteen minutes before they would start to die of oxygen deprivation and carbon monoxide build up in their lungs.

But the water was still rising. He felt it reach his hands. And as he hoped, the ropes started to slacken. He felt them break apart. He was free. He kicked away from the bottom and broke the surface of the water. Two other heads bobbed beside him, the Malcannan brothers. Cinnamal was struggling still, beneath the still rising waves.

“Get the boat,” he told the brothers. “I’ll help him.” He dived under the water again and reached for Cinnamal’s hands. His ropes were breaking apart, too, but he was tangled in them and couldn’t fully free himself. Chrístõ pulled them apart and grasped him by his shirt collar as he reached for the surface again. Cinnamal gasped and splashed around in a panic, spitting out water and retching.

“You’re all right,” Chrístõ told him. “You didn’t swallow THAT much of it.” Then the boat was beside them. The brothers were reaching to help them both in. “Everyone take an oar and row as fast as you can. There will be a certain amount of suction as the island descends again. We need to be away from here when it happens.”

Cinnamal was still inclined to clear his throat and spit all the time, but he rowed as strongly as the rest. By the time the headless ‘Neptune’ disappeared below the waves they were a good quarter of a mile away.

“Wow!” Cinnamal commented suddenly as they looked around afterwards. “Hey... I can see it now, I really can. The waterfall and everything...”

“Well done,” the Malcanan brothers told him with just a hint of amusement in their tone. “About time, too.”

“Can we go there, still? It looks amazing.”

“One boat and half of our equipment missing,” Chrístõ noted. “I think we’ll row into the fresh water stream and let it carry us back to the mainland. We’ll get back to the TARDIS and take the easy way across. I think we’ve all had enough endurance training for one weekend.”