Sir Rothwin opened the door to the cottage and let the king walk in first. Again, all in the room kneeled toward the king. I nodded my head once more as I did before. However, this time, the king was not amused with me.
“You dare to refuse to kneel to me your king.”
“Your Majesty, I am not accustomed to kneeling or bowing to anyone.”
“Do you not realize I could have you dragged out of this cottage and killed for such insolence?”
Cid and the rest were standing up now, and Cid said, “Please, sire.”
However, the king raised his hand to Cid, and Cid became quiet.
“Young man, I hold your life in my hand, and I can do with it what I will.”
“Your Majesty, are you trying to hold death over my head to gain my respect?”
“Do you not fear death, young man?”
“My condition at home is of the nature that I have death as my constant companion all day and my bed partner at night. I face death at every turn of my life. There are hundreds of ways that death could take me that I do not even bother to count them. If you are trying to threaten me with death, you are gravely mistaken, and your threat is hollow, Your Majesty.”
“How dare you to speak to me this way?”
“I am not accustomed to being talked to in this way myself, Your Majesty.”
“Are you going to back down from me, young man?”
“No I am not, Your Majesty.”
“You leave me no other choice, young man—guard.”
“You would kill me for being who I am, or for being who you think I should be, Your Majesty?”
That cold stare of the king was like Sir Rothwin’s sword pointed at my heart. The King’s eyes held me to the spot where I stood as if I was chained to the floor. The guard he summoned approached and grabbed my arm just above the wrist. I quickly pulled my arm free, and the guard drew his sword and pointed it at me. Cid moved towards me but Sir Rothwin raised his hand and stopped him.
“Please do not harm him your Majesty,” came the quivering voice of Cid.
“Silence,” roared the king with such force that all took a step backward except the guard and myself.
There was a burning feeling in the pit of my stomach that slowly rose into my chest. My new-found muscles began to tense, and I realized that this was not the play ground at school, and these were not the Bartley brothers. This was life and death, and I suddenly became very calm and fully aware of what was happening. I stood there returning the stare of the king.
“No one, I say, no one defies the king of Archomai and lives. Not even you Jeremiah,” said the king so furious that he shook when he spoke.
I took a step closer to the king, and it brought the sword of the guard tight against my chest. I looked deeply into the eyes of the old king and said with a strong, clear, and calm voice, “I will not yield, nor will I ever yield to you or anyone who threatens me!”
“Then you will die,” replied the king.
“So be it, your Majesty,” I said with a calm voice.
The king stood there, staring at me with those kingly eyes of his.