Chapter 29 - Kell
Kell stood at the bottom of the stairs with his warriors and watched as Emmalyn walked towards them. All of them were out of disguise and back in their own clothes, and it was a relief. Kell hated hiding his identity. It felt like deceit. He preferred to meet the enemy head on, but while on Fairrest lands it had been necessary. Now it was time to push home, where he was on his own turf, and there were no unknowns.
Tears were in Emmalyn’s eyes as she stepped close to him and titled her head back. Kell framed her face with his large hands and used the pads of his thumbs to swipe them away.
“I am ready to go,” his wee warrior stated, as she straightened her back and tried to push her emotions back.
“Don’t do that,” Kell admonished. “I know this is hard, but you don’t have to put on a brave face for me and my warriors.”
“If I don’t put on a brave face, I’ll simply fall apart,” Emmalyn replied. “I’ve grown to love them both. It’s hard to say goodbye.”
“This all will be over soon,” Kell vowed as he kissed her head affectionately. “You will see them again.”
She nodded but said no more, and Kell felt a change of subject was needed.
“I have a present for you sweetheart. Would you like to see it?” Kell questioned with a raised brow.
He almost laughed when her face lost its forlorn expression and was replaced with one of open curiosity. Kell gave a sharp nod and his warriors stepped aside, revealing the horse they had been hiding. She was a beauty, and the minute Kell had spotted her he knew she was meant for Emmalyn. Her coat was a gorgeous cream colour and her mane and tail were a couple shades darker. She had a strong frame and a gentle personality, just like his girl.
Squeals came from Emmalyn as he was completely forgotten and the horse gained her full attention. She raced to its side and immediately threw her arms around its neck. Soft words were whispered, stroking ensued, and Kell knew Emmalyn was in love with her. When she finally lifted her head and sought him out, he could see how happy she was. Tears were still in her eyes, but the sadness was gone and a huge smile lit up her face.
“What is her name?” Emmalyn questioned.
“Her previous owners simply called her Beauty, but you may pick a new name for her if you like,” Kell grinned.
“No,” Emmalyn denied. “Beauty is perfect. It suits her.”
Then she was moving to the saddle and lifting her dress as she grabbed the saddle horn. Kell watched in amazement as she hefted her tiny frame on the huge horses back. The horse dwarfed her, but she looked in complete control.
“I love you Kell,” she shouted in front of all his warriors, gaining grins from them all. “She’s absolutely perfect. Thank you.”
Then she gently nudged the horse forward and stopped beside him. She leaned over and Kell met her halfway, but instead of giving her the kiss she clearly wanted, he dragged her off Beauty and onto his lap. Then he pulled her close and ravished her mouth like a desperate man. When he pulled away a minute later, she wore a pretty blush and was blinking up at him.
“You’re welcome honey,” Kell grinned.
“For what?” Emmalyn asked with a dazed look on her face.
“The horse,” Kell chuckled as all his men laughed with him.
She looked confused for a minute, then turned to Beauty. It took only a second before she was alert again and smiling up at him.
“We’ll continue that later,” Emmalyn promised. Then she was climbing off his lap and dragging herself clumsily back on her horse. Kell could only shake his head and be thankful she hadn’t fallen. The girl had no fear, as she’d proved time and time again.
Then she turned to wave at her parents and Mathias, who were watching from the top of the steps. The minute they waved back she took off, pushing Beauty into a dead run. Kell cursed as he and his warriors had to push their own horses and give chase. They were skilled riders, but it still took them a minute to catch his wee warrior. When they did, she simply threw back her head and laughed, then thankfully slowed to a decent speed.
For hours they twisted and turned, moving through the forest at a good clip. With Emmalyn healed and on her own horse, Kell knew they’d reach his lands much faster, and it pleased him greatly. The tension eased out of him, and once more he felt the lightness in his heart. No other royal would be happy on her own horse. Like Seraphine, they would have insisted in riding in a carriage and it would have slowed them down. Kell knew without asking that his wee warrior would have hated that. She looked at home on Beauty, and even after riding for hours on end, she was practically glowing.
Kell slowed as they came to a small clearing near a lake. They had a hearty breakfast, but it was hours later, they needed to rest and have a warm meal. It took no time at all to see to the horses and built a small fire. Emmalyn tried to insist on seeing to Beauty but Kell overruled her. It was her first day riding on her own, he understood she would be tired and sore. Torin would take good care of Beauty for her, and after a small argument, she finally gave in. Kell set out a blanket for her and she curled up and fell asleep right away.
“She’s a tough one,” Behr declared as he sat beside him and sharpened his sword. “She’s pushed herself hard today, and still she tried to do more.”
Kell nodded, agreeing with the man. “She surprises me every day.”
“What do you make of Seraphine’s declaration?” Behr questioned.
“Of having a lover?” Kell clarified, and when Behr nodded he huffed. “Her eyes didn’t show a lie, but her, her parents and the council have been pushing for a match between us for so long it’s difficult to see her suddenly giving up. Honestly it baffles me.”
“I agree. She clearly expressed affection when she spoke of him, but it seems like there is more to it. She stated he was of her ranking, and the match would be a good one.”
“He must be a royal then,” Kell decided as he rubbed at the back of his neck. “Or a close relative.”
“That doesn’t narrow it down much,” Behr sneered. “There are numerous male royals, it’s the females that lack numbers.”
“Right,” Kell sighed. “And it was clear she hadn’t spoken to the councilman recently. She came to the castle for her own reasons.”
“Perhaps she wanted to get a look at Emmalyn?” Behr shrugged. “Many will be curious about the missing princess.”
“True, but Seraphine is devious. That can’t be the only reason she was there,” Kell denied. “She’s got something up her sleeve.”
Behr nodded and said no more, leaving each of them to their own thoughts. Kell had too many unanswered questions, and he didn’t like it. Before Emmalyn he would have simply detained Seraphine and beat the information out of her. He was wondering if it was time to go back to that way of doing things. He just hoped Emmalyn understood. She liked to step in and smooth things over.
“What are you thinking?” Emmalyn inquired as she sat up and rubbed her eyes. It was clear she only just woke and hadn’t heard their conversation. Kell smiled as he pulled her into his arms and played with her long braid.
“I’m not the feared warrior since setting eyes on you sweetheart. If we want to end this, I need to use force. I believe it’s time to get some answers. And to do that I need to bash in some heads,” Kell patiently explained.
Emmalyn studied him for a minute before sighing and laying her head on his chest. “You fear my reaction?”
“You have only really seen the gentle side of me, but that isn’t all that I am. The threat is still out there and it needs to be taken out. I have no leads, and I have no idea how many people are involved. I need to use violence to get answers and take back control of the situation,” Kell admitted.
“And what of me?” Emmalyn softly asked.
“You will remain at my castle under guard. My men are numerous and they are mighty. No harm will come to you while you are there,” Kell promised.
“We got married just yesterday,” Emmalyn sadly declared. “And you want to leave me. How do you think I’ll feel with you gone? We share a special connection, it will break me to be without you.” Kell huffed, seeing no other way to ensure her safety, but she wasn’t finished. “We are stronger together, and everything that has happened proves that. Your powers are greater since our marriage, and I have just discovered mine.”
Emmalyn pushed out of his arms and stood with a furious expression. Then she turned a scowl on Behr and Torin who had been standing quietly by.
“Hold him down,” she ordered, as she placed her hands on her hips.
Kell could have killed his men as they moved to do her bidding. Behr sat on his legs and Torin pushed him down and straddled his chest.
“Don’t fight them,” Emmalyn growled. “I have a point to prove.” Then she turned to the rest of his warriors who had gathered to see what was going on. “I need all of you to follow me.” Then she addressed him once more as she spoke. “There is no threat close by, and I have a ton of capable men surrounding me. You have no need to worry. I’ll see you soon.”
Kell watched in stunned silence as she simply walked away with his warriors trailing her. The foolish girl disappeared into the trees and he lost sight of her. Immediately his chest started to burn and his vision got hazy. Then he broke out in a sweat and his whole body started to tremble. He tried to stay still but he couldn’t handle not having her in his sight. It was killing him, and every part of him was breaking down.
With a battle cry and a mighty heave, he threw off Behr and Torin and surged to his feet. Then he was running through the woods at a deadly pace, trampling any bushes and trees that slowed him down. He could hear Behr and Torin giving chase, but his sole focus was on finding his bride.
Not five minutes later he found her. He punched at anyone blocking his path, ignoring their grunts of pain as he charged forward. Then he was lifting Emmalyn off the ground and wrapping her in his arms. His whole body finally settled as he breathed her in and held her close.
“You may want to look behind you,” Emmalyn whispered as she peered over his shoulder.
Kell slowly turned and actually gasped at what he saw. His men were laid out and bleeding on the ground, and there was a clear path indicating exactly where he had been. The ground was flattened and trees were literally knocked over. Both Behr and Torin were standing a good distance back, and both wary expressions.
“I think she made her point,” Behr huffed. “Clearly she needs to stay with you.”
All Kell could do was sigh, deciding maybe they were right.