Chapter 55 - Thane
Thane could not decide if he was out of his mind or just an idiot. Why he did not go straight to his brother in the beginning, he had no idea. Now he was on the run with Kell’s pregnant bride in tow, and he was being hunted by his father’s men. He knew they were close behind him. He couldn’t see them, but he could feel them. And he had serious doubts he would get out of this alive, although if Emmalyn lived, he truly did not care.
Thane was dead either way. If his father’s men did not kill him, he knew Kell would. He had learned firsthand how persuasive his father could be. Once his father convinced Kell he was working with him, Kell would attack. His bride and babe were in danger. There would be no stopping the Elemental Prince, or Elemental King, if Kell had successfully killed Connor. Thane hoped he had, but he did not stick around to find out. He had to get to Emmalyn, and he had to get her to safety.
The portal was the only option Thane could come up with. Once Emmalyn was through, the men could not get to her. Only royals could open it, and he knew none of the men after them were. But his horse was exhausted. Thane had run him night and day, and he was struggling to stay awake himself. He was close to his destination, he just had to hang on a bit longer.
“What is Connor holding over you?” Emmalyn whispered.
Since they had left, she had gotten a headache, and Thane could see the pain behind her eyes. It concerned him. The further they went, the worse it got. But he had no choice but to continue. Death lay behind them.
“My mother,” Thane eventually confessed. “He feels betrayed by her and married her simply for her title. He cares naught for her. If I do not follow him, he will end her life.”
“He held Douglas over Seraphine’s head. He also held Abrielle over Darrow’s,” Emmalyn sighed. “It appears to be effective.”
“Extremely,” Thane agreed. “We will do whatever needs to be done to see our loved one’s safe.” Then he gave her a squeeze to let her know she was included in that love. Emmalyn smiled up at him before her frown returned.
“But Aspen’s the mother of his child,” Emmalyn huffed. “That should mean something to Connor.”
Thane glanced down and gave her a sad smile of his own. “She is,” he agreed, having nothing else to say that would explain his fathers reasoning.
“I still think if we turn around Kell can help us,” Emmalyn pushed. She had been pleading with him the whole way, and it was breaking his heart. Again he tried to get her to see why he could not do that.
“Sweetheart, my fathers men are close behind us. I have no doubt they are tracking us. Without your powers they will slaughter us. I am reasonably skilled with a sword, but I cannot defend you against a dozen armed men,” Thane reminded her.
“But he has his men, and I’m sure he will be searching for me. He cannot be far behind.”
“I agree,” Thane conceded. “But my fathers men are closer. It is a risk I am not willing to take. If we can make it to the portal, you can slip through while I hold them off.”
“And if you get injured in the process?” Emmalyn question in concern.
“It does not matter, as long as I can close the portal and keep the enemy on this side. Kell needs to see his babe grow, and he needs you by his side. That is my only priority,” Thane vowed.
“You love your brother very much,” Emmalyn declared. “It is clear you are risking your life for him. He will be grateful.”
“He most likely will never know. There is a good possibility I will not live to tell him. I will be gone, and all he will remember is my betrayal.”
“Then I will make sure he knows the truth. I will not rest until he forgives you,” Emmalyn fiercely promised.
“And what of you?” Thane grinned. “Do you forgive me?”
“I do,” Emmalyn scoffed. “You are family. And someone that goes to such lengths for another, is someone I am proud to know.”
Thane gave her another squeeze, then pointed to the clearing up ahead. He could see the eerie spiderweb ahead. It did not look so bad now, just larger than most webs. Of course it would not come to life until he called it up. Then it would glow green and increase in size.
“I hate that thing,” Emmalyn grumbled, as a shiver slid through her tiny body.
“It will be okay,” Thane assured her as he stopped his horse a good distance away. The portal was known for spooking animals, and he did not want his to run. It would be a long walk back to Knightshire, and one he did not wish to experience.
Thane lifted Emmalyn from his lap and gently lowered her to the ground. Then he swung his left leg over the saddle and dropped down beside her. Taking the reins, Thane walked the horse to a tree with a massive trunk and tied him off. He had no doubt the horse would fare well there. He turned to take Emmalyn’s hand, when a whizzing noise sounded from the trees.
“What is that?” Emmalyn questioned curiously as she moved closer to him.
Thane’s whole body locked. He recognized the sound, even if she did not.
“Arrow,” he bellowed. “Get down.”
Then before she could comprehend what he had said, he was tackling her. Both landed on the ground just as an arrow slammed into the tree beside them. Thane cursed as he covered her body with his own.
“What do we do?” Emmalyn cried from under him. “I don’t have my powers.”
“I need my bow,” Thane grunted. “If they come closer, they will pick us off.”
The horse was only a few steps to the right, but there was no cover. His best bet was to crawl to it and then use it for cover as he retrieved his bow. But the first thing he needed to see to was Emmalyn. If he left her, she would be on her own and unprotected. Another arrow slammed into the tree, and Thane growled. He had to move now.
“I am going to lift my body from yours and turn slightly to the side. My body will shield yours. As soon as I do, I need you to crawl to the trees and use them for cover,” Thane instructed.
Emmalyn looked to the trees, which were almost close enough to touch, and back at him. Then she leaned up and kissed his cheek.
“You better make sure nothing happens to you. I will kill you myself if you die. I have come to love you very much,” she hissed.
Thane smirked down at her then shifted. Once he was on his side, he felt her leave him. The girl moved silently, and he was grateful. He waited only a minute more before gritting his teeth and rolling to his stomach. Then he pushed himself to his knees and crawled to his horse. The animal was terrified, and pulling at his reins in a desperate attempt to gain his freedom. Thane could do nothing to sooth him. His only thoughts were of Emmalyn.
The saddle bag that held his bow was too high to reach from his position. He would need to rise to his knees. Arrows were coming faster now, and he needed to move quickly. Once he was up, he grabbed for the bag and opened it. He snatched his bow out and had his hand on his quiver, when he felt a searing pain in his thigh. The pain was intense, and he dropped to his palms in agony. When he looked to his leg, it was to see an arrow sticking out of it. Blood was already seeping from the wound.
“Goddammit,” Thane hissed, as he closed his eyes and tried to block out the pain. They were still in serious trouble, and Thane needed to do what he could to protect Emmalyn.
Gritting his teeth once more, Thane reached up again and removed the quiver. Once he had both it and the bow in his hands, he began to fire back. There was movement in the trees as the men took cover, but not one of them was visible. Thane grabbed the horses saddle and used it to pull himself to his feet. Then he reached for the reins and untied them. He knew he only had a minute before the men were in a position to fire again. With a quick slap to the horses ass, it took off. Thane fired another couple arrows, then hobbled to the cover of the trees.
Emmalyn was waiting for him, and she was sobbing. It was clear she had witnessed him getting hit. She pulled him down to where she was hiding and reached for the arrow. Immediately he stopped her.
“No,” Thane denied. “Leave it. You pull it out and it will bleed more.”
Then he reached down and snapped both the ends off. It hurt like hell, and he saw black spots for a minute, but at least he had more mobility.
“You need to remove my belt and tie my leg off. I need my hands to use my bow,” Thane ordered.
Arrows were once more coming at them, but Emmalyn appeared not to notice. As Thane returned fire, the brave girl undid his belt and yanked it hard. It slid through the loops easily. She looked at him for a minute, sadness mixing with her tears, then grabbed his leg and lifted it. Then she was slipping the belt under it and tying it off. Again the pain almost made him pass out.
“Don’t you dare,” Emmalyn growled, as she watched him sway. “I need you. You stay with me.”
“I am not going anywhere,” Thane vowed. “I will see you through the portal.”
“How?” Emmalyn cried as she looked towards it. It was close, but it would be suicidal trying to reach it.
Thane was furious. They were so close, and they were in a perilous situation. It was just the two of them, and Emmalyn only had her sword. There was no way they could hold them off for long. He only had a few arrows left, then they would have no defence. They would be picked off quickly.
“I’m sorry,” Thane whispered, grief tearing him in two. “I failed you.”
Then a loud buzzing came from the trees. Thane had no idea what it was, but Emmalyn gripped his arm in a death grip, gaining his attention.
“Help has come,” she cried. “Look.” Then she was pointing to the trees.
Thane looked up and could scarcely believe what he was seeing. A dozen fairy like creatures moved through the trees. They were all armed with bows of their own, and they were firing at the men surrounding them.