Chapter 2 - Kell
Kell lounged against the table, crossed his arms and legs, and gave the royals and councilmen time to battle things out. Everyone had surged to their feet and moved into a huddle, most were shouting, and all were waving their arms thinking that would get their point across better. It was amusing, and Kell was in no hurry to wade in. Then Kell noticed the expression on Emmalyn’s mother’s face. The Queen looked stricken. Her hands were up in a defensive position, her small frame was shuddering slightly and her eyes were moist. The King stationed himself somewhat in front of her, and was taking the brunt of the cruel words being hurled at them, but the Queen was plainly distraught. The sight of her in that state infuriated Kell.
Kell furiously dropped his arms, pushed off the table and prowled to the edge of the foray. His irritation was back in a flash, and he was letting them see it. Once he grew near, the air in the chamber changed. Instantly the group became wary and apprehensive. They understood angering the Elemental was a dangerous thing, and they were tense as they turned to see what he would do. He paused when he was near and let his body show just how livid he was. His entire frame was locked solid, his eyes were icy, the vein in his neck twitched and his nostrils flared. As he watched, Seraphina’s family took a tentative step back. Then several cracks of thunder ripped through the sky outside, and fear settled on all their faces.
Kell knew he’d caused that. Sometimes it happened when his emotions were high and he wasn’t in complete control. A heavy hand settled on his shoulder, and a brief glance let him know his brother was there. Thane had been present before when Kell had inadvertently set fire to something or called up a slight wind when he’d become agitated. It was what frightened people the most. He drew several deep breaths and forced his taunt body to relax. As soon as he did, the thunder ceased and his brother stepped aside. Grateful, he nodded to Thane, then turned back to the group before him.
“It is a parents responsibility to protect their offspring,” Kell disclosed as he leaned closer. “The royals had every right to do what they deemed necessary to see that through. I don’t agree that another realm was the best option, but it wasn’t my choice to make, it was theirs. Now stand the fuck down and give them some space.”
Grudgingly everyone moved back to their seats, but Kell could see this dispute was far from over. He moved back to the table, but he was too wired to sit. He decided pacing was a better option. No one said a word as they waited to hear what his next words would be. Honestly, he had no idea what to say. The royals admission had stunned him as much as it had everyone else. He sighed as he raised his arm and rubbed at the spot on the back on his neck where a throbbing had begun. He should have known this day would go from bad to worse.
“The princess has been gone many years,” the King of Kilharbor announced. “It’s obvious her parents remained here, and someone else raised her. That someone else would not have been of royal blood, therefore she will not have the education and grace she should. It takes a princess her whole life to learn the skills that are necessary to take the crown.”
“I agree,” Gelding snapped, and Kell turned his glare on the man. “The rightful bride should be Seraphine. She knows what it takes to stand at your side. Even considering Emmalyn, is a waste of precious time. We need to send a contingency of men to retrieve her, and then we need to lock her down. It’s unknown what that girl has been up to all these years. She may even be so far gone it would be better to put her down.” The King and Queen of Fairrest gasped, and Kell decided he’d heard enough. A change of topic was in order.
“Did you ever learn who was attempting to take your daughter’s life,” Kell questioned the two, completely ignoring Gelding’s ridiculous remark.
“No,” the King answered. “We sent out patrols, we questioned as many as we could, but no one seemed to know. To this day I can honestly say it could have been anyone.”
Kell nodded as he glanced around the chamber. It was full. Between the four sets of royals, their families and the dozen or so councilmen, there were a number of ears. Anyone could have done it, and all there would now know the princess was in fact, still alive. Things had just taken a dangerous turn.
“I demand to know which realm you sent her to,” Seraphine’s father ordered. “I volunteer some of my men to go and retrieve her. They can assess the girl and determine what should be done with her.”
“No,” Emmalyn’s mother cried, and Kell completely agreed with the Queen.
“Done,” Gelding announced, as he turned to the royals. “Give us the exact location and we will send the men.”
Kell turned to Emmalyn’s parents and made sure he had their full attention. Once he did, he spoke. “You will not say one more goddamned word. If someone here was behind the assignation attempts, then they’ll have all the knowledge they need to try once more. They already know she’s in another realm. It won’t take much to track her down.”
“So you’re considering taking Emmalyn as a bride instead of Seraphine?” Kell’s own father questioned.
“I was never considering taking Seraphine as a bride,” Kell growled in irritation. “My powers are strong enough as they are. If need be, I’ll do without the benefits the union would bring.” Kell raised his hand when it was apparent there would be objections. “I won’t rule out taking Emmalyn as a bride, but as stated, the girl has been gone an awfully long time. She may not be schooled in all things royal, and she may be against all of this. If she hasn’t been taught about the realm and her homeworld, she may not accept it’s her duty to wed me. If she objects, it may force me to marry her without her consent, and that would make things unbearable for both of us.”
“Then we explain things to her once she is home. Surely she’ll understand after we’ve spoken to her,” the Queen suggested.
“Are you suggesting we were right, and she doesn’t know about her home world?” Gelding inquired.
The King dropped his head. “We decided it would be best if she didn’t know. We wished her to have a good life and not to fret about the people and obligations she left behind.”
“And what does she know of you?” Seraphina demanded.
The King paled at the question. “She believes we died. She thinks she was born of that world.”
Gelding slammed his fists on the table once more. “That’s outrageous, Kell can’t possibly consider accepting her as a bride now we know that.”
Kell’s head snapped back towards Gelding. “I can do as I please,” he asserted, then he asked another question. “Who is with her in that world? You must have considered the possibility of someone discovering her?”
The King nodded. “We did. We sent our most trusted guard Mathias. She believes he is an uncle, and that when we died, he took her in. She was a baby, she would have had no memories of her home world or of us.”
“That must have been difficult for you,” Kell’s mother whispered. “I can’t imagine doing that with one of my children.”
“At the time, the decision was an easy one,” Emmalyn’s mother assured her. “I’d rather my child not know us and remain alive, then stay and have to bury her.”
Kell’s mother inclined her head, indicating she agreed, and said no more.
“If we are in disagreement over the Kilharbor royals sending a contingency to retrieve the princess, then I will provide a suitable amount of guards,” Gelding stated, getting the discussion back on track.
Kell completely ignored the ass. “I will go myself to retrieve the princess, and my own men will accompany me. Then I will assess the condition she is in and decide what to do. If she is acceptable to me, I will take her as my bride, if not, I will return her safely to her parents.”
“I think a man of our choosing from each Kingdom should accompany you. We all should be a part of this,” the King of Kilharbor demanded.
“No,” Kell shot back. “I will not have men I don’t trust at my back.”
“This is preposterous,” the King continued. “We need to be appraised of the situation and make sure the princess is well enough to wed.”
“The princess is of no concern to you,” Kell sneered, unleashing his fury once more. “I am the one that may wed the girl. I am the one that will have to live with that decision. Therefore, I am the one that will make it...alone,” Kell nearly roared.
The King seemed to be struggling to hold on to his anger, so Kell was satisfied when he said no more. The royal definitely needed to learn when to shut up.
“I will need to speak to the two of you in private,” Kell demanded of Emmalyn’s parents. After both nodded, he continued. “Afterwards I will gather my men and begin my journey. It will take me several weeks to arrive at the portal that will take me to the other realm. The journey back will proceed quickly or slowly depending on the princess’s condition. I can promise you though, that regardless of her condition, she will have the protection of me and my men. No harm will come to her during her time with me.”
“Thank you,” the King of Fairrest acknowledged. “That is all we can ask.”