Chapter 23 - Emmalyn
Emmalyn sat beside Kell and leaned into his side, but her sole focus was on her parents. They looked exactly like the picture in her locket, if not a little older. Kell had promised they would accept her with open arms, and it relieved her he had been right. She had worried for no reason. They were loving, kind parents, and she mourned the time she had lost with them. Her life would have been vastly different if she had stayed with them. She couldn’t fault Mathias though. He was a dedicated guardian, and he did all he could for her. She had a good life back in her home world with him.
“It is clear Emmalyn is being targeted and not me,” Kell began, interrupting her musings, and bringing her back to the conversation. “Warrick went through the portal with a contingency of men with the sole purpose of taking her life. And when we were attacked at the inn, the dagger went through her pillow and not my own. There have been many opportunities during my travel both to and from the portal to make an attempt on my life, and no one has done so.”
“Warrick is a soldier in the Kingdom of Kilharbor. Do you think that is where the attempts are coming from?” King Lorcan questioned.
“I am unsure,” Kell truthfully admitted. “I did not recognize the rest of the men, and I know most of the Kilharbor soldiers. Warrick was killed. I had no chance to question him. He could have been sent at their request, or he could be working for someone else. It leaves us with no definitive answers.”
King Lorcan nodded in acceptance. “Whoever it is must have been at the meeting where we revealed her existence.”
“I agree,” Kell conceded. “But many were present including the royals and dozens of councilmen.”
At the mention of the councilmen, Emmalyn’s mother jerked away from her husband. “Oh my god,” she gasped. “I forgot he was even here.”
Emmalyn had no idea who the man was she was referring to, but suddenly the doors were thrown open and a short, rather robust, slimy looking fellow entered. The minute he did, Kell rose from the chair and stood protectively in front of her. By his rigid position, it was clear Kell considered him a threat.
“Councilman Gelding, why am I not surprised to find you here. Lurking in the hall outside were you?” Kell growled.
The slimy man narrowed his eyes at Kell as his complexation took on a reddened shade. He clearly didn’t like Kell’s words, and his anger caused Behr to rise and move closer to Kell’s side. The man’s head snapped in Behr’s direction before instantly moving back to Kell.
“The council has been patiently waiting for word on whether you secured the princess. I came directly here, knowing you would get some sort of message to the girl’s parents. It is a pleasant surprise to find you both here in person,” Gelding smugly declared. “And as I can clearly see the princess is just as I assumed, unfit to wed and rule by your side. You will go at once to Kilharbor and retrieve your bride. You and Seraphine will wed immediately,” Gelding ordered as he eyed her up and down with revulsion.
Emmalyn’s mouth dropped open at his words, and she could do nothing but stare at the man in shook. She did not know who Seraphine was, but the way the man worded it made it sound like Kell had already agreed to marry her. Emmalyn stood and placed her hand on Kell’s shoulder, but he didn’t turn around. Behr glanced at her quickly, then turned back to face Gelding once more.
“Never speak of my daughter that way again,” her father furiously demanded as he too stood. “We allowed you to stay here, even though we disagreed with it, but there is no reason for you to remain here any longer.”
“She is dressed like a boy, not a Princess,” Gelding fumed. “She has dirt on her face, and it is clear she is a mute.”
Emmalyn gasped, but Kell spoke before she had the chance.
“We have been attacked many times. I dress Emmalyn like that for her safety. I can assure you she has all the qualities a Princess and a bride of mine require,” Kell sneered. “I will be marrying her and not Seraphine.”
“Seraphine was approved, and Emmalyn was not,” Gelding sneered in protest. “We gave you sufficient time to choose someone appropriate, and you did not. It is time the council to steps in. You are considering Emmalyn because you do not wish to marry Seraphine. You made that more than clear at the meeting. And now you need the marriage to increase your elemental powers.”
Emmalyn’s head was pounding as she tried to make sense of the conversation. She did not understand what they were arguing about, but she knew it had to do with other things beside her. She dropped her hand from Kell’s shoulder and stepped to the side, away from both him and Behr. Kell had secrets he was keeping from her, and it appeared those secrets were important ones.
“I am marrying Emmalyn because I love her,” Kell growled, as he turned to lock his darkening eyes on her.
Gelding threw up his arms in frustration and practically roared in anger. “You are not in love with her. You are only saying that to win her over. The real reason you want to marry her is to for elemental power you will gain. Be honest and stop lying to the girl.”
As soon as he said that the sky darkened, and a loud clap of thunder shook the room. Terrified, Emmalyn stepped towards her father just as he stepped towards her. Instantly his warm arms wrapped securely around her. At the same time her mother surprised her by moving towards Kell and placing her palm on his massive chest.
“Please Kell,” she softly pleaded. “Calm yourself. You put our Kingdom at risk by calling on both the air and water elements. Many will be caught in the storm, including your own warriors.” Kell looked down at her, and as soon as he did the sky began to lighten. “Thank you,” her mother acknowledged as she removed her hand and stepped back.
Emmalyn pushed out of her fathers arms, but remained safely across the room from Kell. She couldn’t believe all the things Kell had lied to her about.
“You just did that?” she questioned as she pointed to the sky. Kell closed his eyes for a minute and took a deep breath, before opening them again and focusing them back on her.
“Oh for heaven’s sake,” Gelding huffed. “You have to be one of the stupidest girl’s alive.” She actually froze as she turned to face the man who was once more back to shouting. “Kell has powers, did you not just hear that? He got mad and released them. He needs to take a bride of royalty, because once he does they will increase. He was to marry Seraphine, but for some insane reason he refuses. He is settling for you, as you are the only other royal of age.”
“Shut up,” Kell roared at Gelding as he continued to face her. “If you don’t, I will damn sure make you.”
“You have no right. This is a council matter,” Gelding countered.
“I have every right, seeing as I hold more authority than you. As first-born son and future King to the Kingdom of Knightshire, and being the first elemental born in one hundred years, I have control of the entire realm,” Kell sneered. Then she lost his eyes as he turned to Behr. “See him packed, and escort him and anyone he brought with him off the property. Make certain he is aimed in the direction he came from.”
“As you wish,” Behr grinned as he strode across the room, caught Gelding by the arm, and dragged him out the door.
Emmalyn could hear the man cursing as they moved down the hall, but she had no compassion for him. She remained focused on Kell. He had not only lied to her, but it appeared he was pushing her to marry because of what he would gain from it.
“You lied to me,” Emmalyn accused him, and his face actually fell at her words. “You’ve had plenty of time to reveal the reason you want to marry, and yet you did not. And you have crazy powers,” she practically shouted. “What the hell is that?”
“I never lied,” Kell denied, as he took a step in her direction. She moved away from her father and raised her palm. Instantly he stopped.
“No, you’re right. You just kept me in the dark,” she cried. “If that awful councilman hadn’t walked in, I bet you never would have said a word.”
“I had planned on telling you, I just wanted to find the right time,” Kell huffed, as he clearly started to lose patience. But she didn’t care, there was no way in hell he was justifying it.
“Bullshit,” Emmalyn shouted. “You were waiting until after we married, so I couldn’t leave you.”
“Bloody hell,” Kell yelled back. “You were out of your element. I had no desire to put more on your already struggling shoulders. You broke once on me, telling you could cause you to snap. I was only thinking of you.”
“So you don’t have to marry?” Emmalyn threw back at him.
“I do,” Kell conceded. “The Kingdom’s are at odds. I need to take a bride so my powers will reach their full potential and I can take my rightful place as ruler of the entire realm.”
“And how long have you known this?” Emmalyn questioned.
“Emmalyn,” her father cautiously soothed, but she ignored him as she glared at Kell.
“How long have you known?” she repeated.
“Four years,” Kell admitted, as he glared back. “But I’ve met no one I wanted so badly before. Someone who matched me in every way. I could have married a commoner if I so chose. My powers are strong enough on their own, and I need not marry to take full control of the realm.”
Emmalyn brushed at the tears that began to fall from her eyes, but her resolve hardened. “You’ve kept me in the dark this whole time. You say it was for my own good, but do you know how that feels?” she whispered. “I’ve been treated unkindly by everyone except Mathias, I told you that. You were the one person I could truly trust in this world, and you didn’t trust me back. You yourself agreed we are destined to be together. All the signs are pointing to that, yet you hold me at arms length. I gave myself to you, both with my heart and my body. I was yours,” she cried.
Kell stepped away as his face shut down. “I understand, and I see you need time,” he remarked. “I will leave and give you that. However, I remain close, and will fulfill my promise to your parents to keep you safe. You never need to fear for your life.”
With that said, Kell turned and strode from the room. She heard his boots click on the marble stairs and the front door slam, then there was silence. It was then she finally collapsed, dropping to the ground as a sob tore from her. But she didn’t remain there for long. Her fathers strong arms wrapped around her and lifted her. Then she was placed in her mothers arms. She broke, a break that she had been fighting since she went through the portal, and a break that she feared would truly destroy her.