“You!” Ahio could hardly speak. He glared at Maui, his voice shaking with rage. “This is all your doing, isn’t it? Give me back my body!”
“Not until we settle a few things,” said Tangaroa. He lifted his hands, and the sea around them began to stir. Ahio felt as though the sea were pressing in tightly on all sides. Next thing he knew, he was standing with his feet planted on the hot sand. A few feet away, Tangaroa and Maui were engaged in a heated argument.
“Those people deserved their punishment,” Maui was saying. “You should have seen the waste of fish. Great, rotting mounds tossed back into the sea.”
“Those people,” said Tangaroa, “were wrong. But they did not disturb the mana, and do not deserve this lasting punishment. I command you to lift the curse. Now!”
Pouting like a child, Maui waved one hand through the air. “There,” he said through gritted teeth. “The curse is no more. Satisfied?”
Maui held up a finger. “Not until you have returned the man and the merman to their rightful bodies.”
Maui shrugged. “Can’t help you there.”
“What do you mean you can’t help us?” Ahio’s eyes widened in horror. He couldn’t be stuck in Ahohako’s body for the rest of his life!
“Well for starters, I can switch you back, but there will be consequences,” said Maui.
“What kind of consequences?”
Maui ignored Ahio. “Secondly, the other dude’s got to be here, too, or the switch can’t happen.”
“I can help with that,” said Tangaroa. He produced a large conch shell, which he lifted to his mouth and blew.
Moments later, the air on the beach began to shimmer. Then Puaura appeared, along with a man whom Ahio had not seen since he had escaped with Puaura in a tiny rowboat years before.
Puaura’s face was shocked as she looked from face to face, landing at last on the man. “Ahohako?” Her voice was hesitant.
“Yes, it’s me,” said Ahohako. “But I don’t understand how I got here.”
Tangaroa spoke. “Are you both ready to be returned to your true selves?” Everyone fell silent, looking with expectation at Maui.
Maui rolled his eyes. “Fine, fine,” he said. “But don’t forget what I said…there may be consequences to switching back.” He waved his arm through the air. Ahio felt his vision dissolve into blackness. Then, he opened his eyes.
“I’m me!” he cried. He touched his arms, his chest, and his hair, which had grown long and unkempt. “I’m myself again!”
“Well, almost,” said Maui, his eyes glinting with mischief. He turned and raced for the sea, diving into the waves before Tangaroa could stop him.