Chapter 19 - Emmalyn
Emmalyn studied Darrow as she tried to figure out what was going on. He was a younger warrior, the youngest she had seen, and was extremely handsome. He was her age, if not a year younger, and he had a kind boy next door face. His hair was a dirty blonde colour and was overlong, as if he hadn’t cut it in a month. He had striking blue eyes, and he was tall and well built. And, he looked utterly broken over his betrayal.
“I don’t understand,” Emmalyn rushed to ask. “How is his loved one in danger?” She pushed past Kell and Behr, and moved to stand in front of Darrow, protecting him from the anger she could feel emanating from Kell.
Emmalyn squealed when warm hands gripped her waist and lifted her, then set her down off to the side. She spun as soon as Darrow released her and scowled up at him.
“I’m trying to protect you,” Emmalyn hissed as Darrow frowned down at her.
“You shouldn’t. I did wrong, and I will face my death without hiding behind a pretty girl’s skirts,” Darrow snorted. Emmalyn sucked in her breath as she turned back to Kell.
“You won’t take his life will you?” Emmalyn whispered as she bit her lip.
“It’s the punishment for someone who has betrayed his prince, such as Darrow has,” Behr answered for Kell. Instantly Emmalyn snapped her eyes to Behr, and if she had something she could have thrown at him, she would have.
“I didn’t ask you,” Emmalyn furiously huffed. “Kell,” she called, then waited until his eyes were on her before continuing. “He must have had a good reason.”
“He is newly married. The assassins have his wife,” Kell explained, causing Emmalyn to nod.
“Okay, well that’s a pretty good reason,” she agreed. “So he did it because he had to. He couldn’t let her die.”
“True, but he still betrayed his prince,” Behr interrupted.
Emmalyn had heard enough from him. She spun around, located a thick branch on the ground, and picked it up. Then she raised it as she charged at Behr. Behr yelped as he narrowly missed getting clobbered in the side of the head. When she repositioned and lifted her arm again, Behr held up his hands in surrender.
“I won’t say another word,” he vowed.
“Fine,” Emmalyn huffed. “But I’m holding onto this just in case.” Then she tucked the branch under her arm and turned to Darrow.
“You love her,” Emmalyn questioned.
“I love her,” Darrow confirmed. “She is my everything. We were meant to be together,” he declared as he looked her in the eye.
Emmalyn immediately turned back to Kell. “As are we,” she stated. “If you were in danger, I’d do what I had to protect you.”
“Emmalyn,” Kell sighed as his face slackened, but she wasn’t done.
“Darrow’s wife, is she safe?” Emmalyn asked, raising a question that no one had addressed yet.
“No,” Darrow quickly replied. “They are staying by her side until the deed is complete, and I’m sure someone has been dispatched to let them know I was unsuccessful. She will die shortly,” he told her with a hitch to his voice.
“Kell please,” she pleaded. “Don’t take Darrow’s life for doing something you or anyone of your warriors would have done. He had no choice, and now his wife will die because of it.”
Kell remained silent, but she could see his expression was softening. “What would you have me do?” Kell asked as he rubbed at his temple.
“Let Darrow go. It’s only been a couple hours since they attacked us. I’ve seen the way you and your men ride. He can beat them there if he stays off the roads and cuts through the forests. Let him try,” she cried. “You can’t let her die.”
Kell turned back to Darrow. “You take two of my fastest warriors and you leave at once. You ride hard. Don’t stop to rest, push all the way through.”
Darrow almost dropped to his knees in relief. “You won’t kill me?” he shakily questioned.
“No,” Kell confirmed. “I would have done the same thing. I should not have brought you knowing your young bride was left unprotected. I should have foreseen this.” Then he placed his hand on Darrow’s shoulder. “May the souls of fallen warriors protect you and give you strength.”
“Thank you,” Darrow breathed, then he turned to Emmalyn, and she saw his eyes held unshed tears. “Thank you.”
“Go,” she whispered. “I wish to meet her when I get there.”
“Abrielle,” Darrow imparted with a small smile. “Her name is Abrielle, and she will know what you have done here today. She will know you broke the laws to spare my life, and she will love you as she does Kell.”
“Go,” Emmalyn cried, as she brushed away a stray tear. “Waste no more time with thanks.”
Darrow lost his smile and nodded. Then before she could blink, he took off towards camp.
“Will he make it in time?” Emmalyn questioned, as she stared in the direction Darrow had gone and dropped her stick. Warm arms snaked around her waist and she was pulled into Kell’s side.
“He has a very good chance,” Kell told her, not sugarcoating it.
“Would you have killed him?” Emmalyn pushed as she looked up at him.
“I would have come to the same decision you did. I just would have let him sweat for a while. It is the law to execute traitors,” Kell gently explained.
She nodded in understanding. “Thank you then for doing that. I know I pushed and overstepped, and for that I am sorry.”
“You did, but as my future queen you should give your opinion. Even if I don’t agree, I will always hear you out. Today worked out in your favour, but it won’t always be that way,” Kell lectured.
“Okay,” she agreed. “How far is it to your Kingdom?” Emmalyn asked wishing to change the topic.
“It’s a good month’s ride from the portal,” Kell explained. “And that’s riding hard. We’re only about a week in.”
“And you told him not to sleep?” Emmalyn cried as she pushed out of his arms.
“He will do what he has to to get to Abrielle. He will sleep in short bursts and push both himself and his horse to their limits. It will be dangerous, but it is the only way to ensure she lives.”
“I like your world,” Emmalyn sighed. “But I miss the fact that you can’t communicate easily. A telephone call would be so much easier.”
“Yes, but the assassins could make a call too. This way we have a fighting chance,” Kell smartly reminded her.
“Right,” Emmalyn huffed as she shook her head. “So now what do we do?” she asked as she started walking back to camp. Kell took her hand and moved to walk beside her.
“What would you have us do?” Kell returned.
“Break camp and make haste for your Kingdom. I like Darrow, and I need to know he made it to Abrielle in time. Maybe we can push a bit harder and take shorter breaks.”
“Are you up for that?” Kell frowned. “I wish to see you safety within my Kingdoms walls as well sweetheart, but I don’t wish to risk your health.”
“I’m tougher than I look,” Emmalyn declared as she pulled on his arm to speed him up. “Let’s tell the men our plan.”
Kell chuckled at her enthusiasm, and she smiled up at him. Emmalyn understood that Darrow had gotten off easily because of her, and she was more than appreciative. She suddenly stopped Kell by spinning and placing her small hand on his muscled chest. He looked down at her in confusion, and she smiled up at him reassuringly.
“You seem to know every nook and cranny in these forests,” she declared, and he nodded back at her, still with a question in his eyes. “Do you know of a small lake or waterfall close by?”
Kell furrowed his brow for a minute in thought, then nodded. “There is a small hot spring about ten minutes west of here,” he imparted.
Emmalyn nodded as a blush spread across her chest and cheeks. “Do you think, since we’ll be pushing ourselves so hard the rest of the way, that we might have a private moment before we head out?”
Kell’s body locked, and the golden flecks in his eyes practically glowed. “I can make time for that,” he declared. “But my warriors will surround the glen the spring is located in. I will make sure they are out of sight, but I need them to hear us if there is trouble.”
Emmalyn frowned, but knew it was the only way he’d agree. He was as eager for the time alone with her too, but he’d made it more than clear her safety came first.
“Okay,” she agreed. “But if we get carried away, you need to be quiet. I embarrass easily.”
Kell threw back his head and laughed as they entered camp, and the situation with Darrow was forgotten for the moment. All the warriors close by stopped what they were doing and turned his way in surprise. Emmalyn understood it was unusual to see him laugh so often, and she was glad she was the one to coax it out of him.
Emmalyn moved to the blankets she had slept in and rolled everything up, while Kell had a word with his men. Behr had left after Darrow, so he wasn’t privy to their plans. When everything was packed away, Kell lifted her onto Zephyr and climbed up behind her. She stroked the beautiful horse’s neck, hoping to avoid the men’s eyes. She had no idea what reason Kell had given for visiting the hot springs, but she knew the men weren’t stupid.
Kell was silent during the ride, and he set a rather brisk pace. The men stuck with them for a bit then broke off and disappeared in several directions. As Emmalyn got closer her nerves got worse. She wanted to take things further with Kell, but she was inexperienced, and not quite sure how to go about it.
“Relax my wee warrior,” Kell breathed into her ear, eliciting a small gasp from her. “Things will progress at the speed you wish them to. You set the pace.”
She nodded, loving that he knew exactly what was worrying her and instantly moving to make it better.