Soon, Steadfast catches up with Vanguard and weights anchor on the island at which they are marooned. King Whitson Mariner addresses the community, telling them of the Grimbles' betrayal. The king then resolves to take a skeleton crew aboard Steadfast and attempt to catch up with Desolation.
Aboard Steadfast, Whitson keeps a sharp eye for Desolation as they approach rapids. Just as Steadfast is about to collide with a massive rock, Whitson calls for Hamp, but the buck is no longer at helm. Just as Steadfast is about to collide with the rock, Brindle Cove reaches the helm. The ship careens out of danger, and the crew hurries to make things shipshape as they continue sailing. As they approach a cliff, Whitson spots Lillie, Massie, and Lander running along its top, chased by dragons. The king orders the crew to drop anchor, and catches his wife as she and the other two jump down onto Steadfast's deck.
On their way away from the cliff, Whitson sees Lander on his way towards them, pursued by dragons. Lander leaps onto the deck, bringing two dragons with him. One is dead, but the other lunges for Lillie; it is slain by Galt. Whitson learns of Lillie's and Lander's ordeals, then hurries back to the bow. As Steadfast continues downriver, the king promotes Massie to captain for his service.
As evening approaches, Massie Burnson spots movement on the edge of the island. Whitson orders Brindle to take them closer to shore. Massie recognizes the creatures as the supposed dead of Vanguard's wreck, Mother Saramack included among them. Whitson quickly holds a hurried conference with his captains, during which he explains his plan. Just then, Desolation emerges out of the river beyond.
The crew of Steadfast feign continuous mistakes, allowing Desolation to quickly gain on them. Whitson orders Brindle to pull hard to port, then back to starboard so that the ship is now aimed squarely at Desolation; the bow of Steadfast crashes right into the bigger ship's side. Though momentarily stunned, Grimble soon regains control and sends his bucks onto the decks of Steadfast; they find the deck empty.
Just then, a buck spots a group of actively burning blastpowder barrels in the corner of the deck, and most of Grimble's crew abandons ship in their panic. Grimble, however, breaks open the barrels to find them all empty. Suddenly, Whitson and his crew surge on deck, and a fierce battle ensues. Just as Grimble is about to bring the final blow, he stops when finding himself surrounded by Whitson's supporters. Jimmi Docker brings an oar around into Grimble's face, successfully knocking the younger buck out cold.