Chapter 45 - Emmalyn
Emmalyn was exhausted by the time they neared the cabin. The ride had been a tense one. Everyone was terrified of discovery and had remained silent. They hadn’t even stopped to eat, and they were all starving. Kell had done well during the first half of the journey, but as the hours rolled on, his weight against her increased. Now she was barely holding on herself. Almost his full weight was against her, and she was worried she would topple backwards. Emmalyn sighed as she realized she needed help. She motioned to Oryn to gain his attention. He immediately saw her predicament and frowned.
“How are you faring Kell?” Oryn questioned loudly. Kell jerked upright and grabbed the reins, startled by the question.
“I’m good. Why do you ask?” Kell grunted in irritation, acting as if he had been completely aware the entire time. Oryn snorted, drawing a frown from Kell.
“Because you were leaning so far back your poor bride was almost pushed backwards off the horse. It was clear she was struggling,” Oryn announced.
“You’re an ass,” Emmalyn huffed. “I asked for your help in hopes you would do it so Kell wouldn’t know.”
Oryn shrugged. “I decided honestly was the best policy.”
Emmalyn glared at him, then squealed as Kell grabbed her around the waist and twisted so she ended up on his lap.
“No,” she protested. “You’ll hurt yourself. You were barely holding on only a moment ago.”
“We are close,” Kell informed her. “I have enough strength left to take your burdens as my own, if only for a short while.”
Emmalyn could do nothing else, so she sighed and rested against him. She made sure her head was positioned against his heart. She had a need to hear its steady beat and had a feeling she would for the foreseeable future.
Zephyr kept a steady pace, and the horse was careful not to jostle them too much. It was clear to Emmalyn that her powers were increasing. The wolf had come to her aid without her asking, and she called the horses to her from a great distance. Not only that, but Zephyr acted as if he was completely aware of Kell’s injuries. It was hard for her to make sense of it all.
Not too long after, they approached the cabin. All the horses stopped as the warriors pulled on their reins. Emmalyn looked up to see why they had done so, and the sight before her brought tears to her eyes. She could scarcely believe what she was seeing.
The area around the cabin was alive with activity. Emmalyn guessed hundreds of men were present. Small fires were set here and there with delicious smelling roasting meat. Emmalyn was starving and her mouth watered from the scent. Makeshift shelters were also littered throughout the trees. They were the kind you made in survival class. Limbs were cut and propped up between two trees. Then full branches covered one side to provide a hideaway.
When their group was noticed, all the men stopped what they were doing and grinned. Emmalyn could feel Kell relax, and she knew he was relieved. Then Behr came barreling out of the trees, and he headed straight for them. The same look of relief was on his face. He stopped at Zephyr and looked up at Kell as the rest of their group dismounted.
“Loch was at the castle and managed to get away,” Behr informed him. “But he was there long enough to hear the King bragging about your death. It is good to see it was untrue.”
Oryn approached and was shaking his head in the negative. He answered before she or Kell had a chance to.
“He did kill Kell. Threw him off a cliff,” Oryn growled.
Behr looked at Kell, then back at Oryn as more men approached. Quite a large group was gathering around them.
“Kell looks good to me,” Behr replied as he studied her husband. “A little tired.” Then his eyes narrowed. “A little bloody too. And his colour is a bit off.” Then he glared at Oryn. “But he looks alive and well to me.”
“That’s because Emmalyn was able to bring him back,” Torin explained as he joined them. “His heart had stopped. Kell had serious internal injuries, broken limbs, and a head wound.”
“How is that possible?” Behr questioned. Disbelief written clearly on his face.
“I’m assuming it is one of her powers we did not know about. It could have been my elemental powers helping her too,” Kell shrugged. “We do not know.”
Then Kell placed his large hands on her waist and lowered her. Darrow was there instantly and assisted Kell in helping her to the ground. As soon as she was steady, she turned back to look at Torin.
“Help him down,” Emmalyn requested.
Kell seemed annoyed, or frustrated, she wasn’t sure which. But he accepted Torin’s assistance and then leaned heavily on him once he was safely beside her.
“We need to get him inside and off his feet,” Emmalyn told the group in general. “You can certainly follow and continue this conversation there.”
The men thankfully listened, and Kell was helped inside the cabin. It looked like a small two-story cabin from the outside, reminding her of a pioneer log home. It was nestled among the large pine trees and was hidden completely from view. The inside, however, was large and open. It had a massive fireplace on the side wall. The opposite wall had a kitchen with a small island. The front held the living room, with large windows that looked out to the forest. And right inside the door was a rather steep looking staircase that led to a loft. She assumed that was where the bed was, and most likely the bathroom. The furniture looked handmade and comfortable, and the whole place was cosy. What looked like animal furs covered most of the wooden floors.
“This is fantastic,” Emmalyn announced after she’d taken everything in.
“Kell built the cabin himself, along with all the furniture,” Behr explained as he helped Kell make his way to the couch.
Once Kell was sitting comfortable Behr ordered a couple of men to go get plates of food for the group. A few others left as well to see to the horses. It meant Emmalyn had at least a few minutes to relax. She did that by climbing on the couch beside Kell and curling up to him.
“Are you okay?” Emmalyn questioned as she tilted her head and looked up at him.
“I’m fine, sweetheart,” he assured her. “Although once I get some food into me I’m taking a long nap.”
Emmalyn grinned at him. That sounded perfect to her. She nodded, and once more placed her head against his beating heart. Then she listened as Kell again explained everything that had happened, and all he’d learned about Connor and Kelton.
Emmalyn must have dozed some, because when she woke hot plates of food were being passed around. She took one from Loch gratefully and thanked him. Then she looked around. Every chair available was filled, along with the floor and stairs. It appeared as many men as possible were crowded inside, listening to Kell’s story. Once he was done, he turned to Behr.
“Tell me all that you have learned?” Kell requested as he dug into his own food.
“I was putting out fires in one of the outlying villages, when me and the rest of warriors with me were set upon. The men were all in black and heavily armed. Some were skilled, some were not. We lost one in the attack and two more were captured. The rest of us got away. We picked up more groups of warriors along our travels and headed here. It was the warriors we picked up that informed us of your death. The King is boasting about it and word is spreading fast. In no time at all the other Kingdom’s will hear, and there will be panic,” Behr finished on a grunt.
“It seems Connor has been gathering troops for a while,” Kell huffed. “He has a sizeable army.”
“He does, but there should still be men left in the Kingdom’s that have remained faithful to you. I have already dispersed troops to each Kingdom to gather what men we can. Even thinking you were dead, plans have been set in motion. We intended to mount an attack in a weeks time,” Behr grinned.
“What about weapons?” Oryn inquired. “Do we have enough to take on Connor and his men?”
“Each man still carries his sword,” Loch piped up. “And a small group of us managed a raid on the artillery shed. We have enough bows and arrows to supply hundreds of men. They are stashed in a covered wagon around back.”
Kell grinned, obviously pleased with all that had been accomplished already. “You have done well,” Kell announced to the men in general. “I am thankful you all remained loyal and have made plans to stop Connor. It warms me to know you all have my back.”
“You have earned our loyalty by being a good and worthy man,” Torin replied. “We need no thanks. We are happy to claim our allegiance to you.”
Kell nodded, and they said no more. All the men dug into their food and quiet conversation drifted among the room. They were at peace, and no one wanted to interrupt that. All were aware that would soon change.
“No one has heard from either Seraphine or the councilman,” Behr told him, keeping his voice low.
Kell frowned in frustration, obviously thinking of all that needed to be done. “So we need to rally more warriors to fight on our side. We need to devise a plan to storm the castle and take it back. We need to locate those two idiots and find out what they are up to. And we need to ensure both Thane and my mother are safe.”
“That about covers it,” Oryn nodded. “But first we need to get you back to one hundred percent. We need you by our side and fighting with us.”
“There is nowhere else I want to be,” Kell grunted. Then a yawn caught Emmalyn’s attention, and she knew Kell was done for the night.
“Everyone out,” Emmalyn declared, effectively ending the conversation. She jumped to her feet and clapped her hands to hurry the warriors up. “That is enough talk for tonight. I need to get Kell to bed.”
Several of the warriors snickered on their way out, and Emmalyn caught more than one teasing jest. Kell grinned and looked towards her, as she felt a blush stain her cheeks.
“You heard the Princess,” Kell bellowed as he slowly pushed to his feet and ushered the last of the men out. “She wants to get me to bed. So move your goddammed asses. I’ve got to prove to her I’m in top shape, and that may take a while.”
Kell’s warriors laughed as the door shut behind them. He turned her way and she glared at him. But when she noticed the lust filled look in his eyes, her anger disappeared, and a softness spread across her face. Kell was back from the dead, and he was ready to spend some much needed time with her. Tomorrow he could go back to making a battle plan and warring. Tonight was for them.