Present day, Between Avalon and Earth. Kairos 121: Glen, the Storyteller.
Mingus, a well-respected elder elf, nearly eight-hundred years old, a true academic and head of the Avalon history department for the last three-hundred years, a peace-loving scholar by reputation, dragged the elderly human woman to an obscure closet on the campus in the castle of the Kairos. She struggled, but her hands were bound behind her back and her lips were magically sealed so she could not cry out. Her eyes got big when Mingus opened the closet door and a cloud of dust greeted them.
You wouldn’t, she thought. Mingus, a master of mind magic, caught her thought because she directed it at him. You can’t do this. Lady Alice will find out. She will know.
You wouldn’t, she repeated her thought. Father! Her mind cried out and her whole being objected when he touched her forehead. Her eyes rolled up and closed as she fell into a trance.
“Alexis. I am just trying to save you from yourself,” Mingus whispered. He left the light on when he gently closed the door. He paused to make sure the light did not leak out the bottom or around the edges of the door frame. Satisfied with his work, he stepped out of the first-floor door and headed across the green toward the history building.
The great, wooden tower on his right reached for the clouds. He understood it was the first building in Avalon. The rest of the castle got built around that ancient structure. It housed the Heart of Time, the glowing crystal that beat with light like the beat of a living heart. The Heart of Time held a record of all human history. It got created when the old god, Cronos and the Kairos, Alice, held hands, the angel presiding. Alice made a three-pronged stand to hold the great crystal, built the tower to house it, and there it rested through the ages, beating from its own internal light, capturing a record of everything that happened on the earth.
Mingus shifted his eyes to the spring beside the tower. The spring and the stream that came from it supplied all the fresh water in the castle. People called it the spring of life. Fortunately, the naiad of the spring was not present. Rumor said she was still in recovery from the time, several years earlier, when the goddess Ashtoreth invaded Avalon and enslaved the people. The naiad was the last defender of the tower and the Heart of Time. The goddess overcame her in the cruelest way imaginable, and then Ashtoreth had access to all of human history.
Mingus paused. He stopped walking and looked again at the spring and the tower.
In the end, the children of the Kairos overcame the demon-goddess with the help of the Knights of the Lance, but in the meanwhile, Ashtoreth discovered some interesting things about the Heart of Time.
First, she found that gateways, something like invisible time gates, bracketed the many lives of the Kairos throughout history—like bookends. The gates gave real access to the lives before and after whatever life the Kairos presently lived. If one knew how to find the gates and work them, and could cross safely through each time zone, they made something like a time-travel highway through history, from the beginning of history, when the Kairos was first conceived to live lives number one and two, up to the present one hundred and twenty-first lifetime of the Kairos.
Mingus started to walk again. The second discovery showed a person could enter the Heart of Time and travel to anywhere in the timeline of history to begin the journey. Jumping into the past through the Heart of Time displaced a person from his or her normal time stream. Mingus supposed a person would continue to age according to their own internal time clock, but at that point they could travel through the gates into the future and not fear prematurely ageing, or into the past without suddenly getting younger than their birth.
No one knew this before Ashtoreth. Maybe the Kairos knew it, but no one previously guessed. Ashtoreth proved the fact by sending all sorts of terrible persons and monsters into the past, in her effort to disrupt history. “Unsavories,” as Doctor Procter called them. Mingus smiled. That quick access to any point in history was the discovery he counted on, dangerous as it might be.
After Ashtoreth got overcome, the brains and powers around Avalon got together and built a prototype amulet that would lead a person from one time gate to the next. Mingus volunteered to test it, in the dead of night, without telling anyone. He took his daughter to the days of her youth, not that anyone knew he kidnapped Alexis. They jumped to the year 1776, but Alexis remained stupid and stubborn. She refused to come home to the Long March of Elfenheim. She insisted on staying married to that human—on remaining human. There appeared to be no way he could get through to her. Mingus got angry to think about it. He ended up dragging her back to the present through the time gates, which proved their worth. It took him half a year to do that. He felt prepared then to let her go. But when they got back to the present, she made him angry, again, and he thought what he had thought a thousand times before. No daughter should die before her father.
He stepped into the history building and walked up the stairs to the lab.
Lady Alice stood on the wall that surrounded the tower and the campus. She watched Mingus enter the history building before she turned to the lovely naiad that stood beside her. “You understand. This one time I want you to stay away from your spring and let Mingus enter the tower of the heart. He will run. I will send others to chase him, and when they have him, I will bring them all back through the heart.”
“Aren’t you afraid they will get lost in time or mess up something in history and set the whole course of human life off track?” the naiad asked.
“There is a risk, but it is the only way to test the Heart. When Ashtoreth broke it, I feared time itself might unravel. Some said history would come to an end. Some thought the whole of creation might roll up like a scroll and be finished. Glen’s children were able to collect the broken pieces of the Heart, and I managed to make it whole again. It is continuing to record the events on earth, but it needs to be thoroughly tested before I can pronounce it fully healed.”
“But what if you can’t bring them back all at once from the past?”
“Mingus and his captive daughter, that is one elf and one human, tested the time gates between my Michelle Marie’s lifetime and the present; even if Mingus did not realize that was what he was doing. If something goes wrong, it may take a long time, but we know the people will be able to get home using the time gates.”
“It just seems a big risk.”
“Relax. Have some faith. Everything will work out in the end, one way or another.”
“Oh, I know,” the naiad said. “I love the conspiracy of it, except it makes my waters churn.”