Chapter 9: Emma's Love
Copyright© 2015 by Allan Kindred
Allan sweeps Emma up into his arms and carries her into the tent, where her mom and dad meet them. Allan clears his throat and smiles wryly, as he gently sets Emma on her feet. With a knowing smile, John shakes his hand heartily, and Allan thinks Emma's mom Edith hugs him harder than Emma did, if that is possible.
"Good to see you, boy."
Without preamble, Edith says, "We have the preacher ready to marry you two."
Allan looks at Emma with deep love in his eyes, "I have thought and worried about nothing else, but we must wait until my brother gets here. Stephen is but a few hours away."
"Stephen has come, then?" Rax speaks from the flap of the tent. "At least that is something positive."
Allan looks at Rax, but says nothing. He knows that sentence speaks volumes in and of itself, and he is sure none of it is good.
Allan knows the way Rax keeps looking at him expectantly, that important issues need to be discussed, but Allan waves Rax into the tent and speaks of nothing but the wedding.
"Edith, you may gather the preacher and prepare the wedding ceremony. It will proceed in just a few moments after my brother arrives." Edith leaves the tent and John goes with her.
"I was so worried about you. I was so afraid for you."
"I know, babygirl, but I told you nothing will keep me from you. Rax, I don't want to get too deep into this right now, but I assume you know the enemy is on the move."
"Yes, perhaps even more than you know. The enemy's eastern army has been on the move for quite some time, and at last report the eastern settlements and the dwarves are nearly defeated. That means they can attack us from two sides now. More and more refugees arrive every day."
"Send word to the forces there to pull back in a tactical retreat, causing as much harm as possible, but not to get themselves wiped out. Tell them to fall back to the Dwarven Mountains and defend them as long as possible. That will be the best tactics, especially since we now know they have dragons."
"They have Demon Dragons?"
"Demon Dragons?" Emma inquires.
"Yes, Stephen has killed one already. Although, Emma, they are actually Nightstalker Dragons. But because of their foul temperament everybody just calls them Demon Dragons. Stephen also sent word on the wind for our island of Scotland to gather in strength and to bring some of their ships around to the northern tip of this island, just in case we have to evacuate the island, or just to help us fight.
"For all the refugees that are coming in, at least for those that are not of fighting age and ability, have them start pulling back to the northern coastline. Just in case we have to move quickly, it'll be less chaotic."
"Right." Rax stands up and leaves the tent.
Allan takes a deep breath as he watches him go, and then he turns to Emma. She smiles sweetly and comes and sits in his lap. They stare deep into each other's eyes for an amazingly long time, and then Emma lays her head on Allan's shoulder and has tears come to her eyes, but she will not weep.
Allan pulls her upright, and then with both of his hands on each side of her head, he kisses her lips gently and then says, "I fear, my love, that there will be much to cry for very soon, but this wonderful moment is not one."
"I do not cry because I am sad or scared. I cry because I am happy, and nearly cannot believe I am in your arms again. Very soon I will be your wife, and then when the darkness comes we will fight side by side."
"I have joined the defense forces. I am a soldier now. You helped me to learn the bow remember, and the sword a little?"
"Yes, and Rax himself has been training me more. He got me a lighter sword. See it right there, leaning in the corner."
"Is that right?"
"Is there something wrong, my love?"
As Allan stares into her eyes without answering her for the longest time, a vision of splattered blood goes across her face. Allan shakes his head to clear the damn vision and then softly speaks, "No, my love. I would expect nothing less from one such as you who has heart and courage. If the need comes for you to fight, then it will be done." Allan pulls her tighter to him and hugs her hard.
"There is no way in hell she is going to ride with me. I will send her to watch over the non-combatant women and children." Of course he says that inside his head so she won't hear him ... yet.
Allan leads the most brutal bloodiest campaigns when he goes to war. "For one, I would not want her to get hurt, and for another, I would not want her to see that side of me."
When love and tenderness is about, Allan can be gentle, but when trouble comes to those who only want to live good lives in peace, or to suppress the beauty of girls, something changes in him. He embraces the horror. "I am Clan Crag. I am of the Rock Clan."
At long last Stephen, Stren and the mountain tribe soldiers come into camp. Rax has to wake Allan up as he has fallen asleep on some very comfortable rugs with Emma in his arms, in the tent Prince Reginald has given Emma and her parents.
Edith comes in and chases Allan out of the tent, "The bride must get ready. I suggest you do the same, sir knight."
Allan has nothing but the riding clothes he has on and his battle leathers that he sent with Emma when they left her village. Come to find out, however, that Prince Reginald is honoring his debt to Allan by way of spoiling Emma. A fact that Allan is eternally grateful for, and one that he will return in kind, even if it is repaid in his own blood.
It is tradition that the groom wears the colors of his clan of Scotland, but none are available, so Prince Reginald gives Allan a royal suit of armor. It is very splendid looking. It shines brilliantly, and has intricate designs of flowers and vines that swirl around dragons on the breastplate. It takes about an hour to get the infernal contraption on. Allan has never been able to understand how some warriors actually fight very effectively wearing such things. He prefers his battle leathers.
At long last Allan is standing at the altar waiting for Emma to come out of the tent and up the aisle. Allan is whispering something to Stephen when he hears the people take in a shocked breath, and then follows that by, "Oh, she is beautiful!"
And beautiful she is. Emma is wearing a royal white gown that goes down to the bottom of her feet. It is an empire waist dress, and the folds of the fabric go down in exquisite lines that are fine at the top but wave magnificently towards the bottom, and in the front of the dress, from the knees down it slightly folds up like draperies so you can just see the tips of her glittering silver shoes. Incorporated into the bodice is a beautiful white silk material that covers her bosom a little more, and creates partial sleeves by hanging there like royal draperies. The bodice is v-necked with mark wide straps. The entire bodice portion of the dress is adorned in intricate silver thread and royal designs. As if that is not enough, within the silver designs are jewels of blue, black and green. Allan is sure they are real sapphires, pearls and emeralds.
As Emma comes walking up the isle on the arm of her father, John, Allan takes a million mental pictures, for he never wants to forget that the world can create so much beauty. Even though Emma's hair is still parted several marks on the left side and gets closer to the center the further back the part goes, Emma has her hair pulled back in a soft bun or folded ponytail that leaves just enough strands hanging in front of her ears to look beyond divine, but not so many as to block her perfect ears, and the star-shaped earrings that are bejeweled with diamonds.
When Allan looks into Emma's eyes he sees those same diamonds glistening back at him. When Emma smiles at him, her face lights up beyond goddess level, and then her smile also reflects in her eyes. Allan's knees almost buckle at that point, and his eyes well up with tears, for he has never seen such beauty before in all his life. Emma glows with a brilliance that takes Allan's breath away.
Then at the last moment, Allan notices a huge ruby at the point of the v of Emma's wedding dress. Allan quickly looks over to Stephen. Stephen just smiles. The ruby is a sacred object in the secret society they belong to, and anybody possessing it automatically gets the allegiance of Allan and Stephen's true family, letting them know she is a Chosen One. Allan understands the enormity of the gift. The ruby is also believed to have magical properties. In fact the ruby is called The Sacred Ruby of Balance. It is priceless.
Allan is shaking as John comes up and hands Emma off to him. They stand there a moment just staring at each other.
Emma's beautiful brown eyes beckon to Allan's heart, and for a moment he forgets himself. "Emma, you have the most beautiful and powerful eyes I've ever seen and been mesmerized by. I cannot believe I get to look into those divine creations and upon you for the rest of my life." Emma just smiles.
"Uh hmm." The pastor says by clearing his throat.
"Oh, sorry." Then Allan shakes his head, stands up straight and smiles down at Emma again.
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join these two good people in the graces of The Way. Forever and always will they shine their light into the universe's River of Existence. Forever and always will their love and strength guide The Way. May the greatness of The Way and the world envelope them always in its loving embrace. Now the bride and groom wish to speak words of their own on this glorious occasion."
As Emma goes first, Allan looks around at the gathered folk and is happy to see that seven other warriors from the Rock Clan have already come to join the battle. To his left stands Stephen as his best man, and Rax as the guardian of love, which is a tradition amongst the Rock Clan and the secret warrior society that many who now stand around him belong to. Prince Reginald is also there, for which Allan is happy. It dawns on Allan that he probably should be listening to what Emma is saying.
" ... And I have no doubt that destiny has brought us together. Thank you." Emma looks up at Allan and says, "My beloved."
Damn, he should have been listening. "Long and hard has been the road that I come from. Never once did I allow myself to believe that it would one day lead me to a place of love, majesty and wonder. A place of time and space with so much love and understanding that..."
"Dragon!" Somebody yells.
Most of the people start to scatter, but as Allan and Stephen look up and see the dragon spiraling down closer and closer, they can tell it is Thunderheart. Emma never thinks to run, because her knight is at her side. He lands with a thud, and a cloud of dust and grass envelopes the whole wedding party. Just at the last moment, a handful of people who aren't running from the dragon jump in front of Emma so she won't get dirty.
Allan notices right off that three of the people are from the secret society, one is the prince and the other is Emma's mom. That is an important trait in the society, and one that Emma also possesses. To have the ability to be able to recognize a situation quickly and act accordingly is priceless in volatile situations.
"I'm glad you could make it to my wedding, brother."