The great Tartal was once the most precious of creatures in the Wide World. How sad it is these days that they are no longer among us. For the Wide World is a colder, lonelier place without these great creatures that willingly carried men and women to and fro across the great waters. A lonelier place, indeed.
Imagine that you are standing on the long, glittering marble Promenade on the shore of the shining White City. And then, a vast body of silver and yellow-green passes into the mouth of the bay, slashing through the blue-green waters. Imagine that this is a body of glittering living shell, strung with shining strands of bottle green and coal-red light like colored pearls. It is a great Tartal.
Imagine that the enormous creature changes its course, slows, and its great head rises as it sights the White City. Now the vast creature gingerly sounds the channel, seeking the way it will approach the shore.
Too large by far to take any berth in the city’s harbor, the Tartal pauses. Then, with its mighty lungs, it exhales twin plumes of water like two whales put together, and searches again. It senses its channel and guides itself through the waters. It does not want to beach itself upon a spit, or entangle itself in any hidden danger – great nets, perhaps, or underwater magick. Such things would pose little obstacle to this great creature, yet there is something about the creature that is cautious, and perhaps, tired.
It inches across the bay, closer and closer still, so slowly now that it seems that it has come to a stop – but not quite – and at last, brings itself to rest alongside the beautiful Promenade that wends its way along the sandy shore.
This is indeed what they saw in the White City on the day that Lumiere came.