Chapter 38 - Kell
Kell led a group of his warriors to one of the villages that lay on the outskirts of his Kingdom. It was a smaller village, and he was worried that it was vulnerable because of its size and location. He pushed Zephyr hard in order to get there quickly and was happy to see the villagers unharmed when he arrived. They were noticeably frightened, but his presence immediately seemed to calm them.
Kell ordered his warriors to help pack up the essentials and prepare his people for travel. Darrow was with him, so he put him in charge. The young warrior was proving himself more and more and took control easily. He was a natural leader. With nothing else to do, Kell moved into the woods and dropped from Zephyr’s back. He needed to know what was happening with the attackers, and he needed his powers to do so.
Dropping to his knees, Kell leaned forward and placed his palms in the soft grass. He took several deep cleansing breaths then closed his eyes to centre himself.
“Keepers of the earth,” he whispered. “I am in need of your help. My enemies are threatening my people, and also my beautiful new bride. I beseech you, show me where they are at this moment and give me a glimpse of what they are doing. I need to know which village will be attacked next. I need to stop them,” he pleaded.
Kell knew he couldn’t ask the elements to show him who exactly was behind the attack, but he understood they would help with any immediate threats. He was extremely careful not to ask for too much. He had no desire to abuse his gift.
Visions began to swirl in his head. Scenes blurred into each other at a dizzying speed, too fast for Kell to make any sense of them, before they slowed and became clearer. It took only a minute before he was able to make out a group of warriors dressed completely in black. Masks hid their identities, as they pushed through the forest on horses trained to run at speeds that rivalled his own. The men carried lit torches as they headed for a village not far from where he was. Kell was familiar with every ridge, every lake, and every tree in his Kingdom. He knew exactly where they were.
After thanking the elements for their guidance and vision, he climbed on Zephyr and headed back towards the village. Seeking out Darrow, he found him helping an elderly couple into the bed of a wagon.
“Darrow,” he called, gaining the warriors attention. “I need you to take five warriors and get these people back to the safety of the castle.” Darrow nodded as he got the couple settled then moved to stand at Zephyr’s side.
“I take it you will not be traveling with us?” Darrow questioned.
“I have seen which village will be hit next. I’ll take the rest of the warriors with me and try to stop them,” Kell growled. “I won’t let another village burn.”
“May the souls of fallen warriors protect you and give you strength,” Darrow called as Kell urged Zephyr into a gallop. He shouted the same in return as he pointed to five warriors.
“Go with Darrow. Get the people to the castle,” Kell shouted. Then he turned to address the rest of the warriors who were watching him intently as he flew past them. “Follow me,” he ordered. “I know where the attackers are headed.”
Without a word the warriors mounted their own horses and gave chase. It was only a minute before they had caught up to him and were riding at his back. All were bent low over their horses, allowing them to move much faster. They tore up the earth as their horses hooves dug into the ground. Kell could feel the anticipation of every warrior with him. Just like him, they were ready for battle and hoping to sink their swords into the flesh of the enemy.
Kell crested the last hill and the village came into sight. Disappointment hit hard when he saw several of the houses already on fire, but he wasn’t too late, the men were still there. Shouting and screams of terror cut into the afternoon calm as villagers ran through the streets with no destination in mind. Chaos ensued as the attackers gave chase. It appeared they were intent on leaving no one alive this time.
“Kill them all,” Kell shouted furiously as he drew his sword and rode hard for a man intent on running down a young boy.
Kell caught the man just in time and ran his sword straight through his back. Then he shoved a boot into the man’s prone body as he yanked his sword out, swung around, and headed for another. Jumping from Zephyr, he stopped another man by slicing deeply into his side as he reached for the boy. With both men down, the boy seemed to realize he was safe and ran straight for Kell. Kell caught him easily and hoisted him up on to Zephyr’s back.
As Kell turned and surveyed the surrounding action he realized even with the small amount of men he had with him, their numbers greatly outnumbered the attackers. Their broken and bleeding bodies were falling in every direction, and they weren’t getting up. Kell’s men were cutting them down so quickly they barely had a chance to defend themselves.
As the last man fell, Kell raised his arms and looked to the lake situated on the far side of the village. He concentrated on it as he cleared his mind of everything around him.
“I call upon the water element,” Kell quietly requested so no one around him would hear. “I need your assistance in putting out the fires. Please help me save what is left of the village.”
Then he dropped his arms, so they pointed at the lake and flicked his wrist. As he did so a huge spray of water lifted from the lake and headed for three houses situated close together that were engulfed in flames. The water instantly doused the houses and put out the fire. Kell did this again, aiming his arms at the lake and flicking his wrist so more water headed for another group of houses. He did this over and over until all the houses were finally out.
“Thank you for your help,” Kell whispered sincerely as he let his arms fall and dropped his head. He took a minute to stare at the muddy ground and the rivers of water that ran in a zig zag pattern over it.
“Find the injured and load them up. I want the surrounding woods searched to make sure all the men responsible have been eliminated. This needs to be done quickly,” he ordered once he had calmed. “I want the entire village ready to move.”
“You think there are more men out there?”
Kell turned to see one of his warriors eyeing him with a raised brow.
“There were only a few attackers in this village. It leaves me to believe there are other parties similar to this one out there. They are most likely splitting up and covering more ground now that they know I am here,” Kell declared. He knew in his gut he was right. It made the most sense.
The warrior nodded in agreement. “It is a sound plan. Divide and conquer.” Then he moved to the boy Kell had placed on Zephyr. “Come on, lad. Let’s find your family.”
The boy didn’t have to be asked twice. He jumped from Zephyr’s back straight into the warriors arms. Kell watched them go for only a minute before he helped organize the villagers. His warriors had already split up to do his bidding. Some helped the villagers and others headed for the trees. The odd shout could be heard in the distance, and then a welcoming cry of pain.
Kell knew things were under control, so he himself moved back into the woods. He needed to use his powers once more. He knew there were more threats out there, and he needed to find them. The fastest way was to ask the Elements for help again.
Kell didn’t go far. He wanted to be close in case he was needed, but far enough away that he wouldn’t be seen. His warriors had seen him use his powers on occasion, but the villagers hadn’t, and many had seemed surprised when he’d use it to put out the fires.
Once more Kell centred himself before kneeling and placing his hands in the grass. He looked up at the sky and was ready to begin when he heard footsteps behind him. Standing, he drew his sword and prepared to defend himself if necessary. When the warrior from before stepped out of the trees Kell breathed a sigh of relief.
“Sorry,” the warrior immediately apologized. “I heard something and headed this way. The boy has been reunited with his mother.”
Kell nodded. “And the rest of the villagers?”
“Will be ready to go in the next ten minutes,” the warrior responded. “I will give you your privacy.”
“Appreciated,” Kell acknowledged, as he turned his back on the warrior to signal the end of the conversation. The warrior took his move for what was intended and disappeared back in the direction of the village.
Kell waited another minute before resuming his pose. When all was quiet he knelt and took several deep breaths. As he raised his hands footsteps sounded behind him once more. Dropping his head in frustration, he sighed.
“What is it now?” Kell questioned impatiently as he pushed off the ground and stood. “I thought you were going to give me a minute to myself?”
As he turned to face who he assumed was the warrior, a whisper soft breeze blew across his face. It was the only warning he had, but it was one that came a fraction too late. He caught a glimpse of the man standing behind him, holding a large club, before it swung and caught him in the side of the head. Kell’s shock registered for only a second, before his entire world went black.