No one moves. The guards all shift around a bit, glancing at each other. The council member looks around incredulously, angry.
“What are you doing? I said arrest him!” The man exclaims angrily. A guard steps forward, no red band on his arm but a gold badge on his chest. He’s an officer.
“Begging your pardon but, even if he wasn’t the prince, the King accepted the duel and lost. Everyone here is witness. He has won the crown.” The guard explains, giving a bow. The man blusters for a moment before drawing himself up.
“None of the council was there to witness this so called duel. Therefore, I declare it null and void. Now seize him!” he shouts, pointing a fat finger at me.
No one moves and a deep sense of satisfaction washes through me and I can’t help but give the red-faced, angry council a triumphant smile.
“Take the council into custody. They are confined to their individual chambers until further notice. No communication is to pass between them. They will be guarded at all times.” I order, grinning internally at the council’s horrorstruck expressions when four guards come forward.
A guard takes hold of each council member by the arm and starts to lead them from the room. The two quiet ones go without a fuss. The brash man looks stunned but doesn’t struggle. It’s the loud woman that causes issue.
“Get your hands off me!” she exclaims furiously. “I said let go! You have no right!”
Those words throw me and the bubble of happiness I had been reveling in bursts, only to be replaced with anger.
“No right? I have every right!” I roar, advancing on the woman. She blanches at my expression and shrinks away in fear as I stalk closer. I get right up close, my face inches from hers.
“I had to leave the castle with the knowledge that my family was being slaughtered behind me and there was nothing I could do! I was but fourteen! Barely out of childhood!” I yell, spittle flying.
“I’ve spent the past eleven years with the knowledge that the man who ordered the death of my family sits on my father’s throne, wearing my father’s crown. That he got away with it! Don’t you tell me I have no right to what is mine by blood. I have every right!”
The woman stares back at me with wide, frightened eyes, chin trembling. I’m breathing hard, staring at her face, waiting for her to yield. And then she gulps and nods, taking a step back and averting her eyes.
“Please accept my apology, your highness. I beg for your forgiveness.” She murmurs in a shaking voice.
I turn away without acknowledging her apology, one of the biggest insults a nobleman can give another, and turn to face the crowd staring back at me with awe.