“Ameratsu,” Lockhart said as Katie and Elder Stow brought the old woman up the hill to safety, though now that the wind was down, the sea was going back to its place.
“Wait,” Katie interrupted. “Shouldn’t you be in Japan?”
“We are trying to get there,” the young man said. “She will be safe there.”
“Eh?” Lockhart said it, but the question was all over Lincoln’s face as well as he stepped up to join them.
Katie pointed around at the people who were all on their knees, though Ameratsu showed none of her true self. “Goddess of the sun.”
“Yes,” Ameratsu spoke to Katie and appeared more comfortable speaking to the woman than she did the men. “And there is something special about you as well I see, though I am not sure I know what it is. Kim? This is strange for me.”
The young man, Kim took a minute to properly introduce his friends from the future before he said, “But we must go before Susanu finds us.” He explained for the others. “My wife shared a little of her spirit with me. That was why I could do what I did, but I fear Susanu will notice even that little thing and come here.”
“Lord.” It was almost a wail. Roland had tears in his eyes and his arms around a woman that was so frail and old, Kim hardly recognized her. Her hair was gray, her face wrinkled and the hand she put out was gnarled and leathery in the extreme.
“Mary Riley, but everyone calls me Boston.” The old woman spoke through terribly cracked lips.
“But you should not be old,” Ameratsu got that right away and again looked at Kim. “But Susanu and his friends are dampening me?” She was not sure if that was the right word. Kim nodded so she went on. “My self is small when the gods do this. I cannot make her young again.” A tear came up into the eye of the goddess and Kim was right there to hold her and tell her everything would be alright. The single tear fell to the earth and steam came up from the rock it landed on.
“Why does your brother want you?” Lincoln had to ask.
“To mate. Hush.” Katie quieted him.
Ameratsu made a face of disgust at the idea, but a face only intended for Katie even if everyone saw. “I have a husband. My brother is such a moron.” Lockhart, Katie, Lincoln and Boston all laughed. “What?” Ameratsu looked to Kim. “Did I not use the word correctly?”
“You used it perfectly,” Kim assured her.
“I have a moron for a brother, too,” Boston managed to speak. “I would hug you, but I would be afraid of falling apart.”
“But Kim, can we not?” Ameratsu started to say one thing when her eyes turned big and she shouted, “Oh, no!”
A giant wave came in from the sea and a tall thin man rode on top of it. The wave crested at the last second and deposited the man precisely at the edge of the hill, only a few feet away. “I have found you,” the man said, and then paused to stare at the travelers and wonder why they were not trembling in their boots.
“Go away!” Ameratsu was adamant and turned her face into Kim’s shoulder.
“After Set and Tiamut, this one doesn’t seem so bad,” Lincoln said.
Katie rolled her eyes, “Especially after Tiamut.”
“But,” Susanu was clearly thrown by this reaction. “Look here, you are to be my wife.”
Kim looked Susanu in the eyes and Susanu appeared to have a hard time not looking away. “The lady has made her choice.”
“I should kill you right now. That would settle things.” Susanu threatened.
Ameratsu tried to lift her head to respond, but Kim kept her planted in his chest and hushed her gently. It was Roland who stepped up.
“Not advisable,” he said.
“I need no advice from a demon,” Susanu said. “And a lesser demon at that.”
Ameratsu could not help but say, “Elf.” There was a pause all around and she looked up at Kim. “How did I know that?”
“Hush. Later,” Kim said, and Ameratsu went happily back to laying her head in Kim’s chest.
A second wave came in from the sea and even Susanu looked surprised. When this wave crested, dozens of the cutest translucent sea sprites escaped the sea. They looked like gingerbread men made of sea green and blue see-through gelatin and they marched in perfect order to stand between Susanu and Kim. They climbed on each other’s shoulders until they made a pyramid to block Kim completely and then one spoke in the sweetest, baby voice.
“You will not harm our Lord.”
“What is this rebellion?” Susanu asked.
“Children, you must not put yourselves in danger,” Kim said as he moved Ameratsu behind him and called out to his armor and weapons. One moment he looked like a poor Korean peasant, and the next he looked like a Greco-Roman or perhaps a medieval warrior in the finest chain armor skirt, a long sword across his back and a long knife across the small of his back.
“Kim?” Ameratsu was surprised, but did not sound displeased with this transformation.
“Enough!” Susanu shouted and waved his hand. The sea babies shattered, turned back to water and soaked into the ridge, and Roland was shoved ten feet away, lucky to survive the god’s wrath. Susanu paused when he saw Kim and how he was dressed and what he was reaching for.
“You do not want to do this,” Kim said. “And neither do I.” Fortunately, it did not come to blows as a new figure arrived and stood between the two combatants. Everyone, including Ameratsu did not hesitate to fall to their knees and tremble. This one was brighter, more pure, more perfect that even the unicorn could ever hope to be.
“Angel,” Boston named the visitor and tried to go to her knees as well, but it was hard. Kim caught her and held her up, but she lowered her head and eyes which was the least she could do.
Angel turned his head and took one look at Susanu. Susanu screamed like death and raced back to disappear into the sea. “He will tremble for a time,” Angel said. “But you must not be afraid.”
“Boston?” Kim spoke boldly, but he dared not say anymore. Angel looked at Lockhart and Lincoln, both of whom were once over sixty and now were hardly thirty.
“The ones who will grow the trees and guard them are not yet born,” Angel said.
Kim thought of Yduna and others. He thought there was slim hope.
“The tree is guarded by one whose sword is bigger and sharper than anything you imagine carrying,” Angel said. “And I know you have quite an imagination.”
“Please, Lord.” Kim could not let it go.
Angel held out his hand. “I have procured this for you.” He held a perfect golden apple.
“Thank you Lord,” Kim said. Then he took it carefully so as not to touch the holy one. He took out his knife and eye measured a piece for Boston. She chewed it slowly at first, but in less than a minute she was fully restored and even younger than she had been before, being more nearly nineteen or so rather than twenty-five. She wept as she fell to her knees.
“And what will you do with the rest?” Angel asked and indicated clearly he would not take it back.
“My Lord?” Ameratsu dared to speak.
“No, I would not want a baby for a wife. Nor is it for any of you others. Nor is it for mortal hands.” Kim looked around before he voice the only possible conclusion. “I will have to eat it myself.”
“And the core?”
“I will plant it on Avalon,” Kim said and caught a very human expression on Angel’s face. “Not on Avalon proper, but a new island, shrouded in mist and impossible to find. I feel that Avalon of the apples will be important in the future, if not in the East, then certainly in the West. And the offspring of this seed will be guarded.”
“So be it,” Angel said and he vanished, but he left some light to linger in that place for a time.