• Once upon a time, in a tiny little cottage, there was a young, and very beautiful, woman. Since she lived by herself, she longed for company--of any sort. So, she began to make toys.

    At first, they were simple things--a doll with a hemp dress, maybe with a red ribbon in its hair, but they eventually grew more complicated--something like jacks-in-the-box.

    Since the lady had no use for the excess toys, she gave them away to the children in the village, who later visited her because they found they loved her.

    One day, a stranger came into town. The stranger was rich and had only one child: a rather selfish little girl who accompanied him on his travels. The stranger heard of the woman's work and decided to try to appease his daughter's greed with a promise of a new toy. The girl, after viewing the woman's previous works, decided to test the woman and gave her a quest:

    "I want you to make the best toy ever...out of a crab's shell. And it better talk, too!"

    With this commission and a promise of a great reward, the woman set out to find a crab's shell suitable for a toy, even though she thought the girl deserved nothing more than a smack on the rump for her ill behaviour.

    She went to the ocean and dove, deeper and deeper, until the light disappeared and unknown beasts swam around her. Deeper still she dove until she found what she was looking for: a great, old crab.

    After speaking with the crustacean, she struck a deal with him: she'd put him out of his misery since there was nothing but predators seeking to eat his flesh in return for the use of his shell.

    With her prize in hand, she rose, slowly, and rose some more until the water became lighter.

    Little did the woman know that she'd been followed by a monster from the deep on her ascent.

    Back in her workshop, as the cottage had become, the woman began to work on the toy, carving the thick shell into the semblance of a shark.

    How sad, she thought, it is that this toy will never receive the love of a child and will be doomed to rot and collect dust in a closet somewhere... And so, the woman carved a heart and placed it into the shark's mouth, praying that it would one day find someone to care for it as it should be.

    The beast from the deep saw this and fell in love with the woman. It decided to proclaim its feelings for the maiden and searched for a suitable flower to do so.

    During this time, the spoiled daughter and her father came to pick up the completed toy. The man had paid the woman handsomely, but still, it wasn't enough to quell her fears about the child mistreating it.

    Eventually, she stopped doing her life's work and the children stopped coming to see her. She soon became even lonelier than before and became prone to wandering the forest surrounding the village in her spare time.

    One day, she came to rest, exhausted, in front of a large and deep lake. She sat for a while, comtemplating her life.

    All of a sudden, the great beast burst out of the water, a lotus clasped gently between its great mouth, frightening the woman.

    Trying to calm her down, the shark, its eyes glowing red, proclaimed his love for her.

    Of course, the woman refused and despite the beast's pleading, continued to.

    Angered, the beast spat out the lotus and swallowed the woman whole.

    All that was left of that fateful encounter was bloodstained water and a pale lotus, floating sadly on it.

    The End.