Chapter 57 - Kell
Kell was ready to raise hell and tear apart Knightshire. It had been five days since his warriors and the Fae had set out to find his love, and still none had returned. For three days solid his head was pounding, he was weak, and his thoughts were jumbled. Then it had mysteriously stopped. Kell needed to know Emmalyn was safe, but he had his doubts. He feared the only reason his symptoms had disappeared was because she was dead. And the thought paralyzed him.
While he waited for word he removed the bodies, burying his fallen and burning those that had fought against him. He had dismantled the makeshift tents and dumped buckets of water on the courtyard until the blood was no longer there. He also repaired the damaged castle wall. Lastly, he had removed everything that belonged to Connor, effectively wiping any trace of the man from existence.
The only thing that gave him peace was when he himself went back to the cavern with five of his warriors and searched for his murdered father’s bones. It had taken them half a day, but they were successful. Kelton was now resting under the tree Kell had played in during his boyhood. The leaves were full, the wildflowers surrounding it were in bloom, and the sound of a nearby creek could be heard. Kell dug the grave himself, then both he and his mother had given him a heartfelt send off.
“She will be fine,” his mother assured him now as she moved to his side. He was so distraught he had not heard her approach.
“You do not know that,” Kell scowled. “I have not felt her for two whole days, and it terrifies me.”
“Your warriors will return soon, my son. You must trust in them,” Aspen coaxed. “Do not let your fear rule you.”
“If she is gone I will not survive it,” Kell grunted in return.
“You will,” Aspen sighed. “Just as I have. Like you, I only had a short time with Kelton. But our connection was something I could have only dreamed of. He was it for me, and he claimed I was it for him. His loss was devastating.”
“And yet you never spoke of him,” Kell admonished. “I was raised to believe Connor was my father. I cannot begin to imagine why you would do that.”
“It was because of Connor that it had to be that way. He hated you, and the only reason he let you live was because I kept his secret,” Aspen admitted.
“Did you know Connor killed him?” Kell questioned as he studied her.
“I did not,” Aspen denied. “Although I had my suspicions. Connor seemed almost smug when Kelton went missing. It was not a normal reaction.”
Kell would have continued the conversation but horses were riding in, and he was anxious to get to them. Without a word to his mother, he simply strode away. His long strides took him across the courtyard quickly. When he reached the group, it was to see both Behr and Torin dismounting.
“Did you find her?” Kell demanded as he searched the horses. There was no sign of his bride.
“We did not,” Behr conveyed. “We have scoured the countryside, and there is no trace of either of them. We did not even find horse tracks.”
“Goddammit,” Kell cursed as he tore his hands through his hair.
“There are still a lot of groups out there,” Torin reminded him. “Do not lose Hope.”
“I feel useless,” Kell growled. “I am doing nothing to help.”
“You are doing what a King should do. Kiera pointed out how important it is for you to remain here. I agree with her,” Behr admonished.
Kell scowled at him, but said no more. Their reasoning was sound, but it still infuriated him. He was a man of action.
“Rest your horses and get something to eat,” Kell ordered as more groups arrived, two of them Fae. Neither Emmalyn nor Thane were among them.
For two days Kell remained in the courtyard. He made sure he was the first person his warriors and the Fae saw when they arrived. After each group rested and ate, they joined him. After another day all the groups had arrived, except for Kiera’s. Everyone was quietly waiting by the gates in support. In desperation Kell moved to the trees and knelt. It was time to seek the Elements help.
“I call upon the Earth Element,” Kell beseeched as he closed his eyes and concentrated. “I am lost without my wee warrior and I need your help in locating her. Please show me what you can.”
Kell waited a full five minutes, but nothing came to him. It was disturbing, as the Elements had never let him down before. He frowned, then tried something else.
“Can you show me Thane?” Kell pushed. “I would be grateful for anything you can reveal.”
This time Kell got a few fleeting visions. They came fast, but they showed what he needed to see. Thane was injured, and from the looks of it he was in bad shape. Kiera and her people were flying through the trees, close to the ground, and they had Thane in their arms. They all looked rather concerned, and they were moving at a fast clip.
“Thank you for your help. I am beholden to you,” Kell acknowledged.
Then he rose and headed back to his men. Oryn, Behr, Torin, Darrow, and Lock were all together. Mathias and King Lorcan were also with them, but Lorcan was pacing and refused to sit still. He was beside himself with worry and was not concerned about showing it. The man was a mess.
“Thane and Kiera’s group are headed this way. They should be here shortly,” Kell informed the men surrounding him. Then he turned to Torin. “Get your medical supplies. Thane is injured, and it looks serious.”
“Emmalyn,” King Lorcan shouted, as he stopped his pacing and raced his way. “What of my daughter?”
“She was not with him,” Kell grunted. He had been trying to remain positive, but he feared the worst. It was beginning to look like Thane had murdered his wee warrior. There was a good possibility Kiera had inflicted the wounds he had suffered herself and was delivering him to Kell. It was a grim thought, but it was the only explanation.
It took three hours for the group to arrive, and by that time Kell was barely holding on. On four separate occasions Behr and Oryn had to physically restrain him. He was determined to go out and intercept the group, even though he knew it was unwise. King Lorcan had quieted and not resumed his pacing. The King simply looked broken.
As soon as they were through the gates pandemonium ensued. Kell’s warriors, sensing his mood, brandished their swords and held them at the ready. King Lorcan was being held back by a concerned Mathias. And Alden was shouting at Kiera. Kell pushed through them all, shoving his warriors to the ground as he did. The Fae were safe, but only because they were high enough he could not reach them.
Kell drew his own sword as he got close to his brother. He would find out what happened to Emmalyn, even if he had to kill Thane to do it. Kiera was the first to see him approaching. She motioned for her people to back away, then she moved to stand in front of Thane protectively. The position only infuriated Kell more.
“Move,” he demanded. “Or by god I will go through you.”
Kiera narrowed her eyes, then lifted her bow and inserted an arrow. Without missing a beat, the tiny Fae aimed it at his heart.
“I adore Emmalyn and do not wish to harm you, however if you take one more step towards Thane I will do just that,” Kiera growled.
The two of them glared at each other for a few more minutes, and no one moved to interfere. It was clear they were waiting to see what would transpire. Kell was once more surprised by Kiera. The girl did not back down, and he respected that.
“Emmalyn is not with you,” Kell practically roared. “Thane knows why. I will get my answers.”
“Thane is hurt. He was struck with two arrows, and the trip back here did not help matters. He is in no condition to answer your questions,” Kiera declared before sighing. “I will tell you all you need to know.”
“Let him ask his questions,” Thane interrupted in a near whisper. “He needs to know all that has happened.”
Kiera glanced at Thane and frowned. “You need your wounds attended. That should be done first. You have grown extremely pale and I fear you have lost too much blood.”
“Enough,” Kell roared as he moved to Kiera’s side and stared down at his brother. He did indeed look horrid. Kell hardened his heart and glared at the man with murderous eyes. “Where is Emmalyn?”
“Gone,” Thane whispered. “I sent her back through the portal. It was the only way to keep her safe. She is back in her own world.”
Kell almost dropped to his knees in relief. He had honestly thought her dead. Going through the portal must have severed the connection. He made a move closer to Thane, but once more Kiera stepped in front of him.
“He saved her Kell. Did you think Seraphine was the only one Connor manipulated?” Kiera questioned.
That gave Kell pause. He looked towards Thane, but his eyes were closed and his face was a mask of pain. It was then Kell got a good look at his injuries. An arrow that had been broken off was sticking out of his leg, and another full arrow was imbedded deep in his shoulder. If he was not looked at soon, infection would set in.
“Who did this to him?” Kell demanded, as he kept the mask on his face.
“Connor’s men,” Kiera informed him. “They were to kill Emmalyn if he did not.”
Kell turned his head back to his brother. Once more Thane’s eyes were open, and he was watching him.
“His men are hidden among yours. If she would have remained here, I could not have prevented her death. Sending her through the portal was all I could think to do,” Thane explained tiredly. Then he took a deep breath and locked eyes on Kell. “I did not betray you brother.”
Kell then saw the brother he loved. He forgot the doubts and lies, and considered himself a fool for thinking the worst of him.
“Torin,” Kell growled. “Heal him. Do not let my brother die.”
Torin stepped forward and nodded. “I will do all I can.”
“I need to give you the names of Connor’s men,” Thane grunted. “Some of them will be close, and they will not want me to give them up.”
Behr, Oryn, Loch, Darrow, Mathias, King Lorcan, Rayme, and a dozen more of his most trusted warriors stepped forward. Each one took up a position of defence around Thane. They made it clear no one would get to him. Then as Kell watched, Kiera knelt and took Thane’s hand.
“You have done all you need to for now. It is time to let the rest of us take up your fight,” Kiera ordered.
Then she leaned down and kissed him, surprising Kell. When the Fae lifted her head, Thane’s eyes were questioning, but his expression was soft.
“A kiss to make it better,” Kiera declared curiously.
Kell had no idea what her words meant, but his brother must have, because he grinned widely as he reached up to brush the hair from her cheek.