But it’s too late. Ayers takes advantage of that single second of distraction and he charges and thrusts. Sarsur doesn’t get his sword up in time. Ayers’ blade imbeds itself deep in Sarsur’s middle, the point emerging from his back, smeared with blood.
Sarsur gasps and Jonin screams. Sarsur’s sword drops from his fingers and he brings his hands up to grasp at the blade. Ayers is expressionless, his face a stone mask, as he twists the blade before wrenching it free.
Sarsur drops to his knees and would have fallen if not for Ayers gripping the front of the King’s tunic, holding him upright, staring intently into his face.
Jonin rushes into the empty space toward Ayers and Sarsur and I react without thinking. I turn and push Sara into the arms of the first guard I see with a red band on their arm. Startled, the guard lifts his arms and accepts Sara and, without saying anything, I turn and run out to protect Ayers.
It’s almost pitiful how easy it is to disarm Jonin. But his mind is clouded by grief, he’s not paying attention.
I manage to wrench the knife from his hand with little trouble. Holding his left arm from behind and using it as a pivot point, and using his momentum against him, I swing him around and shove him down on the floor, pinning him with a knee to the small of his back and firm hands on his shoulders.
Jonin lays passively beneath me, panting hard, his face turned to the side and staring at his dying father, tears streaming down his face. I look up and find a red banded guard in the crowd and point at him.
“You, come take him!” I command. The guard does as he’s told and comes and takes Jonin from me. He doesn’t need to do much, Jonin isn’t fighting.
“For my family,” I hear Ayers whisper. I turn just in time to see him shove Sarsur’s lifeless body away. Ayers doesn’t watch the body fall. Instead, he straightens and scans the room, eyes looking over all the guards and servants.
“My name is Ayers. I am the youngest son of King Jaimes. I’ve just won the crown in a duel with the false king. Is there any who yet doubt my claim to the throne?” His voice rings through the room, deafening in the silence.
I glance around, a small spike of panic rushing through me for just a moment. It is unfounded, however. No one steps forward. No one voices any doubts.
Ayers stands straight and proud, covered in blood and bruises, staring out at the crowd. And then, people kneel. First one person, then another, and then everyone goes down together, kneeling in respect for their King.
[End of Chapter Twelve]