28 December 1905
Joanna was wrapped in the few blankets the driver had on hand, trying to fight off the cold from kneeling in an ice-locked river. Aaboukingon, on the other hand, actually seemed to be doing somewhat better. Color had returned to his face and his bleeding had slowed, and Joanna refused to put anything on him that would pull away the water from the river. He finally opened his eyes as the car came to a stop near the bank of the Ohio River, then called the Allegheny by some, on the shore opposite the city where the pair had met.
"Joanna," he whispered, slowly reaching a shaking hand to her cheek.
"Abe, oh, are you recovering? Did the river save you after all?" He shook his head slightly, and she brushed the hair away from his face. "Then rest, please. We're here." The driver opened the door and helped Joanna out before lifting Aaboukingon and carrying him to the river's edge. Again, Joanna broke the ice, and slid his legs into the water. The driver went back to his car and waited. The ice in the river began to rise, and a single spirit formed from it.
"Aaboukingon," it said, slowly moving toward him.
"Can you help him?"
"I must ask the others." A column of water formed from the side of the spirit and stretched out, wrapping around the back of Aaboukingon's head and lifting him into a seated position. It wiped across his face, and he took a deep breath as his eyes flew open. "This will buy you time. But only very little." With that, the spirit vanished into the ice again, and Joanna fell to her knees beside Aaboukingon, who leaned on her chest. She wrapped her arms around him and buried her face in his hair.
"Joanna," he said, his voice still soft and weak.
"Yes, my love?" she asked, pulling back to look at him.
"You must know. I can only recover now by returning."
"Returning...to the river?" He gave a weak nod. "I feared as much."
"I must be a spirit again. But if I go, know that I will return. Once I am well, I will come back for you."
"Anywhere on the river will do. I will go where you are." He slowly reached up and wiped a tear from her cheek.
"Must you leave me here alone?"
"You will not be alone. Not for long," he said, lowering his hand and touching her abdomen. "I felt it when I was healing you." She began to buckle, falling forward into his arms.
"Don't make me do this without you." The ice rose again as the spirit returned.
"He may return," it said. "We will see to his recovery." Joanna kissed Aaboukingon before pulling away from him and standing to face the spirit. She wiped her eyes and stared at it.
"You send him back to me when he's well."
"This is not my decision. The gods must allow his return."
"You tell any god that dares take my husband from me that it can come deal with me itself." Aaboukingon chuckled and then groaned, grabbing his gut and leaning forward. Before Joanna could react, the spirit was on him, water covering his form as he began to drift toward the center of the river.
"I will be back for you," he said reaching out his hand toward her before vanishing beneath the ice. Joanna stood, watching the river for a few moments, before she began to shiver. As she tried to take a step back, she stumbled and collapsed. The driver jumped out of his car and ran to her, scooping her limp form in his arms as he turned and made his way back.