Chapter 54 - Kell
Kell prowled through the dungeon with fury in his veins. If Connor’s words were true, there was still a threat out there. He had trusted Thane, and when suspicions arose earlier, Thane had assured him he was with him. Kell loved his brother, they had a bond many brothers simply did not have, but if Connor was right, he would take his head.
Kell moved through the opened gate, his men at his back. As he turned the corner pandemonium ensued. Lorcan and Mathias, along with about half a dozen men, were shouting at each other as they threw their massive bodies against a door.
“What the hell is going on?” Kell thundered as he moved to their side.
“It’s Emmalyn,” King Lorcan growled. “Thane took her through this door and we can not get the goddammed thing open.”
“Explain,” Kell demanded, as he pushed the men out of the way and slammed his own body against it. It did not even budge.
“Thane found us and convinced us all Aspen was hurt. He explained you would want Emmalyn to try to heal her. We all believed him and followed him here,” Mathias relayed. “When they got to this door Thane grabbed her and pushed her through. With the staircase so narrow we had no chance of getting to her before he shut the door. I can only assume it’s barred from the other side.”
“How long since they disappeared?” Kell grunted as he again threw himself at the door. A loud cracking noise followed, but the door itself remained intact.
“About ten minutes ago,” King Lorcan sighed. “And Torin took a few men back up to search the outside of the castle.”
Kell nodded, grateful Torin had been with them. Without a word he raised his hands, closed his eyes, and called on the Fire Element.
“Fire Element hear my call and come to me,” Kell beseeched.
Warmth tingled in Kell’s fingers, and a whisper of heat fanned across his face. He opened his eyes and watched as a ball of fire formed and floated above his head. The men cautiously stepped back and gave him space. As soon as the ball was large enough, he pushed his hands towards the door, and the fire launched itself in that direction.
A loud explosion ensued, as the door was blown to pieces. Tiny fragments of wood hurled through the air and bounced off the thick stone walls. Smoke filled the tiny space, but it lasted only a minute before dissipating. Once it did, all could see the charred remains of where the door had once been. Kell rushed through the opening with the men at his back. The tunnel was dark, but not long, and they reached the other side quickly.
“We need more men,” Torin was shouting to the warriors that surrounded him. “These woods need to be searched.”
“Torin,” Kell bellowed as he cleared the tunnel and moved to his side.
“Kell,” he grunted. “We can’t find them. I was hoping to get here in time, but it took too long to get through the castle. There is no sign of either of them.”
“Have you searched the immediate area?” Kell demanded as his blood ran cold.
“We have, and it looks like Thane had a horse waiting. Unfortunately, with the battle that just ensued, there are numerous prints. It is impossible to know which are theirs.”
“Bloody hell,” Kell grumbled, at the same time Kiera and the Fae arrived. He glared at the girl as she hovered just above them. “How did this happen?” Kell bellowed.
“I am sorry,” Kiera apologized. “Thane surprised us. I knew who he was from speaking with Emmalyn earlier and did not think him a threat. However, it was my understanding he did not know about us. I thought it wise to conceal our existence from him. They went into the castle and she had her father and guardian with her. They never came back out.”
“No,” Kell agreed. “Because Thane took her through a tunnel in the dungeon.” Then he sighed as he looked at the obviously distraught Fae. “You are not to blame. I myself would not have considered Thane a threat. He was questioned earlier and dismissed.”
“What do you think he intends to do with her?” King Lorcan interrupted, fear written clearly across his face.
“I do not know,” Kell grunted. “But I can only assume it will not be good. If he is indeed with Connor in this, he will want to see his fathers plans fulfilled.”
“So he will kill her,” Mathias acknowledged. “That is what Connor has been attempting all along.”
“It is the quickest way to end me,” Kell agreed. “Kill her and I will fall.”
“But she can get away,” Oryn declared. “Emmalyn has powers that can help her.”
“No,” King Lorcan huffed. “She continued to do what she could for the warriors. She did not want any to suffer when she could help. She was exhausted and her powers were completely depleted when Thane found us.”
Kell had heard enough. The time for talking was over. It was time for action.
“Break into groups of twelve,” he ordered. “Fan out from the castle in every direction. We do not know if Thane will kill her right away, or do it somewhere else. We also do not know if he has men hidden somewhere that he is meeting. Be prepared for anything and keep alert.”
He turned to Behr, Oryn, Loch and Torin. “I want you each to lead a group.”
“Mathias and myself can lead one together,” King Logan pushed. “I can not stand by and do nothing. I need to be out there too.”
Darrow came barreling around the corner, and Kell turned to him in question.
“Aspen is safe. She is distraught, but uninjured. I left her with Abrielle. There are many warriors with them,” Darrow announced.
Seraphine came hurrying around the corner, pulling a curse from Kell and a frown from Darrow.
“I told you to stay put,” Darrow grumbled. “Kell will take your head for disobeying and following me back.” Then he turned back to Kell. “I apologize. She was cooking at the camp and doing what she could to help. I released her, but kept men close to her, not thinking she would be stupid enough to seek you out.”
“Seraphine?” Douglas whispered, as he pushed off the wall he had been leaning against and moved towards them.
“Douglas,” Seraphine cried in return.
Then she was running past them all and hurling herself at the man. He could not support her when her body slammed against his, and they both went down. But they were crying and clinging to each other as they did so.
Behr made to step towards them, but Kell held up his hand to stop him. “Let them be,” he huffed before turning to Kiera.
“Are you needed in your world?” Kell inquired. “Because I desperately need your help. Time is of the essence, and each minute wasted could mean my bride’s life.”
“I will stay until she is found,” Kiera promised. “My people will fan out as well and search. We can take to the skies and move quickly. If they are out there, we will find them.”
“Appreciated,” Kell nodded. “I will lead a group myself. We need everyone searching that is able.”
“That is not wise,” Kiera surprised him by saying.
“And why is that?” Kell demanded as he glared up at her furiously.
“Because when we find her we will then need to stop and search for you,” Kiera argued. “You need to stay put so she can be brought here.”
Kell did not like her words, but he understood Kiera was right. If he went out to search, he could be anywhere when Emmalyn was found, and that would not do either of them any good. It went against everything inside of him though to do nothing. He wished to be the one to find her.
“You have people here that need your help. You need to to show them you are there for them,” Kiera continued. “You also need to comfort your mother. She will need your support the most. And as a warrior, you need to put up a defence so the people feel safe.”
“I agree,” Behr added. “Bodies need to be buried and villages need to be rebuilt. There is a lot of damage that needs to be put to right.”
“A true King does what is best for his people, regardless of his own comfort,” Kiera wisely advised. “Trust us to find Emmalyn and bring her back to you. You know in your heart we are her best chance.”
Kell glared, but he gave her a slight nod. It was all the approval she needed. She took to the trees where the rest of the Fae waited and gave out orders. In minutes they were disappearing in several directions, and the whir of their wings resonated through the forest.
“I will go with a group and help in the search,” Douglas declared as he approached with Seraphine at his side.
“You will stay here and let Seraphine tend to you,” Kell ordered. “You are in my debt for all you did today, but you are clearly not in the best of health. Eat, rest, and then you can help sort things around here. I could use your help.”
“I will eat, and perhaps get a change of clothes,” Douglas agreed. “But I do not need rest. Rest is all I have done for as long as I can remember. I will help gather the bodies for burial.”
With that the man turned and walked away, effectively ending the argument. Kell would have smiled if he was not so fraught with worry.
“I like him,” Oryn declared. “Seraphine surprised us. Maybe Thane will too.”
Then he too turned and walked away, gathering a group of warriors as he did and heading out. Behr, Loch, Darrow and Torin were also on horses and had warriors at their backs. They nodded in farewell and set out too. As Kell turned, he caught the backs of King Lorcan and Mathias as they disappeared into the trees. Even Rayme remained to help, taking a group of his own men out with him. It appeared everyone wanted Emmalyn found, and for that Kell was grateful.
With nothing left to do, Kell headed around the castle and moved to the courtyard. He called the first few warriors he found over to him.
“I want you to head back to the cabin and gather everything you can,” he instructed. “From now on, this is where we will set up. Anyone left there needs to get their asses here.”
With that said, Kell picked up a body that lay at his feet and hefted it over his shoulder. He would do all he could to make sure everything was set right again for Emmalyn’s return. She would come back to him, and he would be right here waiting.