Chapter 31 - Kell
Kell stood at the ready as Emmalyn clung to his back in obvious fear. The sound of hooves could only mean an army was approaching, and he had no idea whose. The hell they just went through would be nothing if the thunder he heard was any indication. No matter how skilled his warriors were, they would all be slaughtered.
The ground shook with the pounding it took, and the trees swayed with the force of it. Kell looked to see Behr and Torin both wore similar looks of resignation. He nodded sharply to them and they nodded back. It was a silent message assuring him both would protect Emmalyn with their life. The rest of his warriors stood at his back, even the wounded, and swords were drawn.
The sound got louder, and Kell could feel his wee warrior trembling. All he could do was squeeze the arm wrapped tightly around his stomach in reassurance. He would not take his eyes off the trees for even a second. Then the first rider broke through, and they all breathed a collective sign of relief.
“What the hell happened here? It looks like a bloody blood bath,” his brother Thane questioned as he pulled up on his horse’s reigns and stopped abruptly in front of them.
The clearing filled with horses, as his warriors poured into it. Kell grinned at his brother as he relaxed his stance. Without thought he dragged his wee warrior from his back and pulled her into his chest.
“You’re ten minutes late,” Kell complained as he kissed her head.
Without him needing to issue a word the new warriors dropped from their horses and moved to help. He could see more moving through the trees and realized Colin had brought well more than the hundred he requested.
“It is good to see you well,” Thane grinned as he dropped from his horse and headed his way. Kell moved Emmalyn to the side so he could embrace his little brother.
“What brings you here?” Kell questioned as he gave him a hug and pounded him on the back.
“I heard you were sending for men and wanted to be among them. I don’t like sitting in the kingdom while you risk your life,” Thane grunted. “I belong by your side.”
Kell couldn’t fault him for that, so instead he grinned and turned to make the introductions. Emmalyn was watching his brother curiously, and he could see a slight bit of wariness in the way she held herself. At the same time his brother was openly watching her with interest.
“Emmalyn, I’d like you to meet my brother Thane,” Kell announced. “Thane meet the woman who has claimed my heart.”
Emmalyn smiled up at his brother and blushed, while Thane grinned in return.
“She must be a witch,” Thane declared. “For no one has been able to do that before, and many have tried. You must be damn special.”
Emmalyn finally smiled at his brother, even as she burrowed further into his side. It was clear his words made her happy, but she still seemed unnaturally shy. Kell hoped it didn’t last too long, because he wished them to become close.
“Emmalyn,” was bellowed through the swell of warriors, and then Darrow was pushing into the huddle.
His wee warrior instantly lit up at the sight of him and rushed to the warriors side. Grabbing onto Darrow’s arm, Kell could see her expression change into one of concern.
“Tell me you got to your girl in time?” Emmalyn pleaded.
“I did indeed,” Darrow assured her. “And the two men guarding her were dispatched. Abrielle was unharmed and sends you her thanks as well as her love. She knows you went against the prince to save me, and she is indebted to you.”
Emmalyn nodded and beamed up at him. “I’m just glad you were able to get to her before any harm befell her. I can’t wait to meet her. I feel we will be the best of friends.”
Darrow nodded and moved away from her. As he approached Kell, his expression turned serious. “Thank you again for allowing me to live,” Darrow stated in greeting. “I am forever in your debt. My love would not be alive today if you had not shown me mercy.”
“I am glad it turned out in your favour,” Kell acknowledged. “Our females are what hold us together. I can only imagine what it would have felt like if you had lost her. I am grateful you didn’t have to find out.”
Emmalyn moved to Kell’s side once more and wrapped her arms around him. His girl knew exactly what he needed.
“How can we help?” Thane interrupted. “It appears we missed a good fight.”
“You certainly did,” Kell agreed. “We were set upon from all sides. Once we hit the clearing they effectively surrounded us.”
“How did you win? It is clear to see you were extremely out numbered?” Thane inquired with a raised brow.
“My warriors are exceptionally skilled. It takes more than a few enemies to best a group of Kilharbour men,” Kell bragged with a smirk.
Emmalyn glanced at him sharply, but he refused to look at her. Only a few of his warriors knew of her abilities. He trusted both his brother and his men, but he still wanted it to be kept to just a few. It was something he felt he needed to do, and he always went with his gut.
“The wind warned me,” Kell continued. “And it gave us time to react.”
Thane nodded as if that made perfect sense, and Darrow didn’t say a word otherwise. It was clear both him and Colin hadn’t breathed a word of his wee warriors abilities, and he was grateful.
“Does this mean you plan to wed Emmalyn?” Thane questioned with a raised brow. “Your affection is clear for all to see.”
Kell grinned at him as he pulled the ring from his neck. This was something he couldn’t bring himself to hide, especially from his brother. He leaned forward and dropped his voice so only a few ears would hear.
“We were wed in front of Emmalyn’s parents,” Kell admitted. “She has promised to be mine for the rest of her days.”
Thane’s eyebrows shot up in shock, and then his grin returned. “I guess congratulations are in are order. I am happy for you both. May you always be by each other’s side.”
“Thank you brother,” Kell warmly replied. “And I cannot express how much I wish to keep our union secret. Darrow has already been compromised. There is always a chance another could as well.”
“I understand,” Thane nodded. “It will go no further.” Then he rubbed the back of his neck before asking what was on his mind. “So does this mean your powers have increased?”
“Not yet,” Kell easily lied. “But I’m hoping they will with time.”
They talked for a few minutes longer and eventually Emmalyn moved away to check on Beauty and Zephyr. When she did Behr, Torin and Oryn moved to join them along with Colin and the talk turned serious.
“It appears whoever is after you has stepped up their game,” Thane scowled. “Have you got a plan?”
Kell turned to Colin. “Have you brought my armour and stocked up on artillery?”
“I have,” Colin assured him. “I have two wagons at the end of the group carrying everything you should need.”
“Good.” Then Kell turned back to Thane to address his question. “I need to fight this head on, instead of whisking my bride off to safety like many would expect of me. To do that, I need to once again be the Elemental Prince everyone fears. I intend to go after anyone that has questioned me over the years, and use force if necessary to figure out who is behind this.”
Thane nodded in agreement. “But what of Emmalyn? Do you plan to send her to Knightshire with a contingency of men? We can easily spare them.”
“No,” Kell growled. “My wee warrior stays by my side. She has proven many times to both me and my warriors she is more than capable of standing with me.”
“But you put her in jeopardy by keeping her with you?” Thane objected.
“I put myself in jeopardy by sending her away,” Kell grunted, gaining a smirk from some of his men. He could see the confusion on his brother’s face, but he didn’t elaborate.
“With the wagons among us we can head out almost immediately,” Torin informed him. “The wounded will heal quickly, and they refuse to be left behind.”
Kell grinned. His men were tough. He wasn’t surprised by Torin’s words.
“Where to first?” Thane inquired, not at all hiding his enthusiasm. Thane was a man who sat behind a desk, but sometimes he itched to break fee. And now was clearly one of those times.
“I’m thinking we need to visit Kilharbour,” Kell decided. “Seraphine had an ulterior motive for showing at Fairrest, and I want to know what it is. Her declaration of love is sudden and I am curious to find out who she is involved with.”
“And if she isn’t there?” Oryn inquired.
“Then we question her parents. They have been a thorn in my side for a while now. If they are behind this, I want to know. Plus Warrick was in Emmalyn’s home on the other world, and he is one of their most trusted men. If he was there, he was sent by them.”
“They were strongly pushing a union at the meeting with the council,” Thane added. “They were extremely upset when they leaned Emmalyn was alive.”
“They were indeed,” Kell agreed. With a destination in mind he relaxed slightly. “Ready the men and distribute the additional battle wear and weapons. I want to leave within the hour. We ride as warriors of Knightshire and make our presence known. No more back roads, and no more hiding. We approach the enemy in full battle mode.”
All the men nodded and dispersed to do his bidding. Kell turned his attention once more to his bride. She was whispering to their two horses as she fed them each an apple. Kell watched her cautiously as he waited for Behr to fetch his armour. He would need to harden himself and she would see a side he had tried to hide from her. The fierce warrior everyone feared would be leading the attack, and he could only hope Emmalyn would fall in love with him as well.