Chapter 9 - Kell
Kell kept his eyes locked on Emmalyn’s. He couldn’t look away, they were both fascinating and unsettling. He could see she had jumped to the wrong conclusion when he’d gasped, but he needed to take a few minutes to control himself before he set her straight. Never in his life had he met anyone else whose eyes contained the silver flecks like his. None of his bloodline had his eyes, and to his knowledge none in his world had either. They were not only rare; they were unique. He had no idea what to make of this. His choices in taking a bride were Emmalyn or Seraphine, and to find Emmalyn had his eyes was extremely hard to discount. Not wishing to continue leaving her in a state of distress, Kell placed his finger on her nose and ran it down the tip, just as he had done earlier. Instantly her breath hitched and then it caught. It was obvious she was waiting to see what he would reveal.
“My eyes are black, and most find them strange, but it’s the silver flecks that provoke a stir. I can honestly say I’ve never met, nor have I ever heard of anyone else with eyes like mine. Your eyes are blue, but the silver flecks are startling. It’s impossible not to notice them. I’m drawn to them and find them truly beautiful. Never have I met someone with eyes as remarkable,” Kell explained.
He regarded her for a minute, and when a tear fell down her cheek, he realized she must have been ridiculed in her world for them. He had an intense desire to soothe her, and he couldn’t deny his concern for her feelings.
“Anyone that has treated you with scorn is someone I wish I could meet,” Kell continued. “For I would tear them down for causing you to feel such anguish and make sure they feel the wrath of my displeasure.”
Then Kell stayed perfectly still and waited for her reaction. More tears fell as she scrutinized him. It was as if she was assuring herself that what he spoke was truthful. Then achingly slowly, she leaned forward and placed her soft lips against his. It lasted only a second before she pulled away, but it would be a memory he would hold close to his heart for eternity. He smiled at her, and she smiled tentatively back. Then he reached for her hand, withdrew the contacts, and twisted to toss them in the fire.
“Never will you ever hide your eyes again,” Kell ordered Emmalyn. Then he turned back to Beatrice as he noticed her eyes start to droop as the tea took effect. “Please do what you need to, I don’t wish to see her suffering any longer.”
Beatrice nodded, so he helped Emmalyn lay back down and then he got close. “She is a well respected healer,” he assured her. “You will sleep, and when you wake, she will be done. I will remain here the entire time, and I promise no harm will come to you while you rest.”
“Thank you,” Emmalyn replied before her eyes closed for good. He was almost saddened when they did, for now the silver flecks were hidden from him.
As promised he remained by her side as Beatrice tended her injury. She washed it, stitched it, applied a paste, then wrapped it and placed it in a sling.
“She will sleep for many hours,” Beatrice explained as she cleaned her hands. “It will pain her when she wakes, so you will need to see she drinks more tea. Only place a small portion of the herb in it, or she will sleep again. You will need to check the injury and replace the wrap each day. When it scabs over, you can summon someone to remove the stitches. If it becomes inflamed, or she develops a fever, call for a healer at once.”
“I appreciate your help. Once you finish with Mathias you will be compensated, and one of my men will escort you home,” Kell promised.
“Thank you,” Beatrice responded. Then as he watched, she gathered up her supplies and moved across the clearing. He nodded to Torin, and the man followed her.
Kell remained by Emmalyn’s side for a few more minutes, then pushed himself up and moved away. He caught Torin’s eye and saw his small nod, assuring him Emmalyn would be watched as she slept. Satisfied, he motioned to Behr and Oryn, then stepped into the trees and headed back to the creek. He was pleased to hear both his men were close behind. When he cleared the trees, and the water came into view, he swung to face them.
“We can only remain here for one night, then we need to break camp and head back,” Kell advised them.
“And where are we headed?” Behr questioned. “Do we take the princess to Fairrest to meet her parents, or are you taking her home with you?”
“She is unaware her parents live,” Kell explained. “And taking her there when her life is at risk may be unwise. Anyone who knows of her existence will expect her to return there and will lay in wait.”
“I’m sure the King and Queen will strengthen the guards and make sure their daughter is well protected,” Oryn frowned.
“I agree,” Kell nodded. “However, I know my warriors and trust them explicitly. I do not know the guards of Fairrest, and as they don’t equal mine in skill or number, I think it best to return to Knightshire.”
“So you have chosen to take the princess as your bride?” Behr smirked.
“That I haven’t decided yet,” Kell admitted. “I would rather wed her than Seraphine, however it is the council and other royals that are pressing me to do this. I had no intentions of taking a bride yet.”
“Understood,” Behr conceded. “But with the uprising in the Kingdoms, they feel a marriage would bring your powers to their fullest, and stop things from escalating.”
“It would,” Kell had to admit. “But I’ve only known Emmalyn for several hours, and even though she has many admirable qualities, that is not enough reasoning to tie myself to her for the foreseeable future.”
Both men nodded in agreement and said no more on the subject, so Kell decided it was time to discuss more crucial matters.
“Did you discover anything when you searched the surrounding area?” Kell inquired.
“I did not,” Behr reluctantly admitted. “If there was anyone on this side, they are long gone. We are no closer to discovering the royal that opened the portal, then we were when we arrived.”
“My thought is the King or Queen of Kilharbor, or their daughter Seraphine is the one that carried out that,” Oryn acknowledged. “They have the most to gain from killing the princess. If Seraphine weds you, it would put their house in a place of higher power.” He hesitated for a minute, then continued. “I would suggest the council, but only royals can open the portal.”
“True, but the council could be pressuring them to do their bidding,” Behr added with a slight sneer.
“I don’t believe the Kilharbor royals would allow the council to sway them,” Oryn replied. “However, Warrick was the warrior leading the assignation party, and he is a part of the Kilharbor guard. It leads me to suspect that their kingdom is responsible for the attempted assassination.”
“I agree,” Kell stated. “I further concur that the council could be working with Kilharbor, but never would the King and Queen allow them to dictate their movements.”
“So what do you propose?” Behr questioned.
“I need a few men patrolling the perimeter of our camp all night. I also want scouts to ride ahead as we travel and keep an eye out for trouble. I will ride with the princess and guard her myself,” Kell decided.
“And will you require a wagon?” Oryn asked. “Mathias will be unable to ride a horse on his own.”
“No,” Kell immediately refused. “A wagon will jar Emmalyn too much and cause her needless pain. Beatrice has placed her arm in a sling, so if she rides with me on Zephyr I can hold her close and keep her more contained. Mathias can be taken to the village with the healer and left until he can travel. I will leave one of my men with him, but I don’t think he is in danger. No one is aware the princess was left in his care, and his death would accomplish nothing.”
“Do you want a man sent to Fairrest with word of your intentions?” Oryn asked.
“Absolutely not, the less that know of our destination the better. We will travel the back roads and stay in some of the smaller villages, that way Emmalyn can experience some comforts every few days,” Kell decided. He didn’t want her sleeping on the ground and eating camp food the entire way, and it troubled him he cared so much about that. Kell was a hardened warrior that had been accused of having no feelings, and the wee warrior was messing with that. He grimaced and forced those thoughts aside.
“Behr, head back and organize the patrolling rotations, and Oryn, get the men to scrounge up something for dinner,” he demanded. They both eyed him a minute after his abrupt dismissal, but nodded and stepped away to do his bidding.
Once they moved out of sight, Kell crouched down and planted both his hands on the ground. Closing his eyes, he focused on the earth, and waited to see what it would reveal to him. Being an elemental gave him powers others didn’t always understand, so he found at times it was best to be alone when utilizing them. He waited a minute, and then he sensed seven riders had approached the portal. Five had stepped through and the remaining two had ridden away. It didn’t show him who the men were, but it confirmed what he suspected. A royal had opened the portal and then disappeared before someone could discover him. A guard must have ridden with him.
Standing once more, Kell lifted his hands and felt the air wisp quickly around him. He let it lift him slightly as it strengthened him. The air removed his sour mood and replaced it with a more calming feeling. He remained that way for several minutes, until he felt refreshed enough to return to camp. He had a sudden desire to return to Emmalyn, and this time he didn’t give it a second thought. He dropped his arms, turned, and strode back toward camp. Kell didn’t think it wouldn’t hurt to make sure she was resting comfortably.