After 3794BC on the Korean Peninsula. Kairos, life 23: Kim
“Hey! Who turned out the lights?” Boston called out into the dark and against the roaring sound of the sea breaking on the rocks.
“Over here,” Roland’s voice rang out. He could make himself heard against the thunder of wind and waves.
“Glad it is not raining,” Lincoln said as he and Lockhart came up. Lincoln retrieved his lantern from his pack.
“Can’t hardly tell from the sea spray,” Lockhart responded and added, “Where’s the Gott-Druk?” He went for his own lantern.
“Here,” Katie shouted and a moment later she appeared, holding tight to the reigns of the Gott-Druk’s horse. Elder Stow looked as seasick as a man caught in a boat in the storm, but he held tight to the saddle horn and tried to grip with his legs as instructed. “I caught him just before his panicked horse dove into the drink.”
“Lucky for him,” Lincoln said.
“Lucky for Decker’s horse,” Lockhart offered the alternate view.
“We can’t stay here,” Boston shouted as she coaxed her horse up the rocks from the other side.
“Inland?” Roland decided but looked at Lockhart for confirmation.
“But keep to the shore?” Lockhart suggested and in turn looked at Boston. She checked the amulet, pointed up the shoreline and it was settled.
Katie handed the reins for Decker’s horse back to Lincoln and he took up his usual place in the center, the Gott-Druk beside or behind him. Boston, with her lantern lit, traveled out front with Roland. Lockhart and Katie with their lanterns brought up the rear. Lockhart kept watch on the Gott-Druk. Katie kept looking back as if she could sense something following them in the dark.
“I don’t like this,” Katie said at last. “We need to find shelter for the night.”
“Working on that,” Roland heard with his elf ears and made his voice heard to the back of the troop. Shortly, his elf eyes spotted a cave in the hillside above sea level. It was not the best accommodations, not the least because there was no wood around to build a fire, something they all wanted, but it was big enough to get the horses away from the sounds of the storm, and it was shelter in case it did decide to start raining.
Elder Stow got off his horse and fell to kiss the dirt and rocks. He bowed and chanted for a good ten minutes before he collapsed and laid out flat. They left him alone. They rode hard all day in Cophu’s time and came through the time gate to this forsaken place. They all remembered when they first started to ride, how painful it was. They were improved now, or at least toughened up, but poor Elder Stow had to be rubbed raw.
Lincoln went first to the back wall to make sure the cave did not continue off into the dark. He was glad to see it did not. He did not want his sleep interrupted by some troll or worse. He just got a comfortable seat in the light and pulled out the database for some reading when Roland came from the back of the cave.
“No hidden dwarf or ogre doors I could find,” he said. “Of course, goblins can be clever so we may never know.”
“Thanks,” Lincoln said and he tried to concentrate on his reading. It helped to read it out loud. “Kim is the Kairos we are looking for.”
“Kim?” Lockhart sat by the entrance to put Katie between him and Lincoln. Elder Stow stayed on Lincoln’s other side next to the elf whom he kept looking at with big eyes.
“That’s it. Kim is the only name. It says he married the sun, whatever that means.”
“Maybe he was a bright fellow,” Lockhart suggested. Only Katie nudged his arm.
“I have some fresh water in my canteen. At least we can make some bread out of these crackers,” she said.
“Hardtack,” Lockhart called it.
“Good elf bread,” Roland defended his people. “It will sustain you when nothing else will.”
Lincoln leaned back into a rock. “This is either Korea or Japan, depending on the time.”
“Korea,” Lockhart said with enough certainty to get a few stares. “I can smell the kimchi.”
“Not kimchi,” Boston countered. “I’ve had kimchi. This smells more like a compost heap.”
“Chinese food?” Lincoln made a joke.
Elder Stow finally touched the elf. “You are a strange tribe.” He turned to Lockhart. “May I have my sonic device?”
Lockhart looked at Katie. They spoke without speaking before Lockhart reached into the bag and pulled out three suspects. Elder Stow pointed and tried to smile when Lockhart handed it over. The Gott-Druk stood and lifted a stone far bigger than any of the humans could lift. He set it square in their midst so they sat around it. Then he adjusted the device and pointed it at the rock. In a short time, the rock began to glow. A minute longer and it got positively hot.
“Warm bread is better than cold,” Boston said, and Katie put the water on to boil. Elder Stow handed back the sonic device. Lockhart looked squarely at the Gott-Druk.
“This could be used as a weapon, couldn’t it?”
“Easily,” the Gott-Druk looked away. “But I am much too exhausted to argue.”
“Argue?” Katie asked.
“In Gott-Druk, even fighting is in familial terms. Argue means fight.”
“What is that smell!” Roland looked like he could hardly take it.
“Rotting seaweed?” Boston suggested.
“I’ve been wondering,” Elder Stow said. “It is making me hungry.”
Katie screamed, and when Lincoln saw he screamed too. Vines were creeping into the cave from the sea, not all that fast until they touched Katie’s ankle. They whipped around her leg like a constricting snake and gave a great tug to drag her out to sea. Katie had her knife out and cut herself free almost before the others could react. When the vine snapped they heard a wail from the water and the dark that chilled them all.
“The horses!” Lincoln yelled. They were prepared to panic. He and Boston got in their way and calmed them as well as they could while Lockhart drew his knife and Roland pulled out his sword. Two more creeping vines were cut and got the same chilling sound from the deep. Yet for every vine they cut, two seemed to take its place.
“A Kraken.” Roland yelled between strikes. “But they stay in the deep. It takes a week of stormy darkness to tempt them to the surface. The sun is death to them.”
Elder Stow watched, until Roland mentioned the sun. Then he stood. “My sonic device.”
Lockhart still had it in his other hand and gave it to the Gott-Druk without hesitation. He was otherwise busy. The Gott-Druk took it and turned it on the vines. They quickly burst into flame, full of sea water or not. The sound that got from the Kraken was more like pain rather than shock. Then he turned it to the sea straight out from the cave and turned the volume all the way up. Roland held his ears, opened his mouth in a scream, but that scream was overwhelmed by the scream from the creature. They saw a streak of fire rise from the surface of the sea to several hundred feet in the air. That quickly shrank as the kraken submerged. The vines were all withdrawn and Elder Stow stopped firing.
“Now I will sleep,” the Elder said, and he lay where he was beside the hot rock and closed his eyes.
Boston and Lincoln came back. Lincoln had his foot stepped on by one of the horses, but nothing was broken. “Katie and I first watch,” Lockhart said. “Lincoln, you can overlap with me and Roland. Roland and Boston third watch. Get some sleep.”
“What about the sonic device?” Lincoln asked.
“Leave it with the Elder for now, and pray we don’t need it again.”
Avalon 2.3: In the Dark … Next Time