"Breathe, Kenn." Seth said, tucking a stray strand of hair behind Kenna's ear. "You'll be fine and you look amazing." Seth watched Kenna for a moment, observing her features as the flames from the torches cast shadows across them. She kept biting her lip as she always did when nerves were getting the better of her.
"I feel sick." She said quietly, her eyes staring off in to the distance.
"It'll all be over in a few minutes." Seth said, pulling her close and kissing her lips. He wrapped his hands around her waist and stroked the soft material of her dress. "And if you get really nervous look at me, focus only on me." Kenna smiled and nodded. "I'd better get inside, your mother said you'll be escorted by the Captain of the Guard so he should be here soon." Another nod and bite of the lip. "See you soon." Seth whispered before leaving to enter through the side door.
Kenna stood and wringed her hands waiting for the Captain of the Guard to arrive, she hadn't met him yet. Anxiety built to unbearable levels and Kenna released a sigh, beginning to form small fireballs in each of her palms – something she had not done for a long time.
"Kenna I presume." Said a soft voice, Kenna turned around and was met by a stocky man clad in armour.
"Hello." She replied, hearing her voice crackle as her throat was dry. "Are you the Captain of the Guard?"
"Yes." The man bowed to her and when he stood up tall again he looked directly at her, his eyes a piercing grey. She repressed a shudder as Garion flashed across her mind. Kenna smiled politely and looked at him again. The Captain's eyes were a soft grey with flecks of blue, kind and inviting. He was nothing like Garion. "I'm Christian Vallox, it's a pleasure to meet you Kenna."
"It's a pleasure to meet you too-" She paused for a moment, wondering how to address him. "Captain." She finished. The man laughed. His eyes creased when he smiled, dimples formed in his cheeks and his thin lips became even thinner.
"Please, call me Christian, I do not like being called by my title." Kenna smiled slightly. "Now, are you ready?" He asked, seeming to be genuinely concerned. He took Kenna's arm in his and turned to face the closed oak door, readying himself. From this angle she could see his nose was not straight in comparison to his face, as though it had been broken before.
"Actually, I'm a little nervous." For some reason Kenna couldn't help but tell Christian the truth. "Well, more than a little nervous. I'm terrified." She studied the man's features. He seemed to be in his mid-thirties, stocky and of average height. His soft grey eyes were contrasted by ash gold hair, slightly long but brushed to the side.
"Nerves are perfectly normal, Kenna." He said in a very knowledgeable voice. He turned to face her and gripped her arm supportively. "But the trick is not to show it, hold your head high and let your personality shine through. Smile and the people will love you." He laughed a little. "They already love you." Kenna nodded and turned away from him to face the door herself.
"How do we know when to go?" She asked whilst raising her head and feeling the fire in her stomach subside a little.
"The soldiers will open the door when it's time, so for now, we stand ready." Kenna nodded. She could feel the hilt of Christian's sword digging in to her hip but didn't dare move in case the doors were opened. He was wearing perfectly polished armour; he wore heavy boots and Christian's shins were protected with metal greaves worn over his dark blue trousers. His body was protected by a leather chest and back plate underneath which was chainmail, on his shoulders were heavily etched spaulders, covering from the top of his shoulder to mid bicep, he then wore metal vambraces on his forearms. Each one had the symbol of Earth etched on to it.
"Is your element Earth?" She asked out of curiosity, but before Christian could answer the doors were pulled open and Kenna was met by thousands of cheering people.
"Yes." Christian whispered before beginning to walk through the hall, taking her with him.
The amount of people was unbelievable! It seemed as though everyone from the Palace had crowded in the hall to meet her and the majority of the city too! Everyone was dressed in their finest clothes and Kenna could see soldiers dotted around keeping the crowd under control.
Feeling overwhelmed by the people surrounding her, Kenna directed her gaze forward and focused only on what was in front of her.
She held her head up high as Christian has instructed. Up ahead were the four thrones with each of the Elders standing in front. At the front on her right Kenna could see Seth, smiling encouragingly and she and Christian made their way to the front.
"You're doing great." Christian said to her in a low voice that only she could hear. The pair kept walking and the cheering still ensued; Christian gripped her arm tighter as they made their way up the steps to the Elders.
Kenna could see clearly now the four elders; Nabi stood on the far left, he was wearing green loose fitting trousers with a matching loose fitting robe over the top – it just reached his knees and was finished with a leather belt holding a dagger to his hip. She had seen the style of clothes before but did not know from where they originated. His feet were bare. Evelyn stood next to Nabi and wore a white square necked dress with no sleeves, a deep blue cloak was fastened round her neck with a large brooch and around her head was a braided headband flattening her curls.
Evelyn smiled as she and Kenna's gaze met.
Parus stood to the right of Evelyn. He wore armour unlike Christians and more akin to pictures Kenna had seen of ancient Greek soldiers. Reasonable considering they were his origins.
His round blue shield bore a golden trident as its symbol, Kenna supressed a smirk as she reasoned it was due to Parus's element. His face looked like stone, it bore no emotion and sent a shiver down Kenna's back.
The final Elder was Adriana. Her dress was blood red and just brushed the floor, her pale skin was a stark contrast to the red. Her hair was naturally curled and tumbled over her shoulders but the most striking feature of Kenna's mother was her eyes. That deep blue highlighted this evening by her smoky blue make up. She smiled as she met Kenna's gaze.
Christian walked Kenna until she stood opposite Adriana. He then bowed to Adriana and released Kenna's arm. "Your daughter, my Elder of Fire." He said slowly and carefully.
"Thank you, Captain." Adriana replied in her stoic tone. Christian bowed again and walked to the Elder's right; he turned around and stopped facing the crowd. He slowly drew his arms behind his back and clasped them tightly, keeping his head up and expression passive.
Kenna looked desperately at her mother for instruction on what to do, how to act but Adriana was now her professional self – she was the Elder of Fire. Butterflies swarmed in Kenna's stomach and she was beginning to feel dizzy, she didn't want to face the crowd behind her.
Adriana took Kenna's hand and pulled her until they stood parallel. Now Kenna could see every single face filling the hall, nearly a thousand people all watching her, judging her. Banner's filled the room, as well as tables and other decorations. Everything was beautifully colourful.
Adriana squeezed Kenna's hand in reassurance before raising it above their heads. "Citizens of Estelle!" She said, her voice filling the vast space – Kenna glanced at Nabi, he had a slight smile on his lips. "I introduce to you my child, Lady Kenna McAdams. I wish you to welcome her to our world."
The crowd erupted in to cheers and Kenna felt her face begin to blush. She began to panic and searched for Seth in the crowd, she needed his stability. She couldn't find him amongst the faces and felt her knees become weak as Adriana continued speaking. "And as part of the welcome there shall be a great feast in her honour." Adriana brought Kenna's arm back down but did not let go.
Behind her mother, Kenna could see Christian smiling at her. Subtly, he raised a hand to his chin and tipped his head up slightly.
Kenna did as he instructed and turned back to the crowd, holding her head up high and flashing a genuine smile. The crowd erupted again and Kenna could now distinguish smiling faces, they really were glad to have her here.
Adriana turned to Kenna and gripped her shoulders. "Welcome my daughter." She said at her normal volume so only a few people around her could hear. "My baby, welcome home." Adrianna embraced Kenna and buried her head in to her daughter's neck. "I have missed you so much." Kenna could hear the Elder say in a muffled voice.
"I have wanted to meet you too desperately." Kenna whispered. She pulled away from her mother and angled her body slightly as though to address the crowd.
"Elder…" She said in a clear voice that filled the hall, thankful that Nabi had picked up that she wanted to speak. "I accept your welcome from the very depths of my heart, and in return I wish to give something back to you." Kenna wasn't sounding as eloquent as she wished but carried on.
Kenna reached up to her neck and undid the clasp holding her necklace together. She pulled it away from her body and slid off the ring. "I'm afraid it is not a gift anew, but one returned to its rightful owner, the ring that symbolises your bond to my father. The ring that lead me back to you." Kenna held out her shaking hand and placed it in to Adriana's palm. Adriana's face was beginning to lose its mask, emotions were creeping through and Kenna could see the beginnings of tears.
"Thank you Kenna." She whispered in a shaky voice, putting the wedding band back on to her ring finger. The pair embraced again and did not let go for a long time. Evelyn took it as a cue for her to speak.
"Let the festivities begin!" She said happily throwing her arms to the air and stepping down from the Elder's podium. Parus and Nabi followed weaving their way amongst friends and servants.
Adriana finally let go. "I never thought I'd see this again." She whispered, admiring the ring on her finger and then her daughter. "I never thought I'd see you again." Adriana wiped a tear away and suddenly regained her composure, "turn around and let me help you put your necklace back on." Kenna complied and felt warm as they shared a private moment amid the madness of celebration. Adriana straightened, "Now go and find the young man of yours." She commanded. "He didn't take his eyes off of you throughout the whole ceremony." Kenna laughed and hugged Adriana again before leaving her emotion filled mother.