011 Breakfast with Royalty

Upon entering the arena, the King and Queen invited us to share breakfast with them. I ate little so I would not vomit when I reached the combat platform. I answered the Queen's questions with the shortest possible replies. Centin seated himself next to me and placed his hand around my right arm. Guilt slammed into me like the ceiling of a collapsing mine.

“Do you wish that I would take you back?”

Of course I want my lost husband back!

“Un-hand me!” I hissed.

Of course I cannot return to a murderer who forsakes me for any and every woman of the court!

His claws squeezed more tightly. I could not reach my weapon without arousing suspicion. Uncontrollable quivering seized my entire body. My flesh shriveled and rotted upon contact with Centin's fingers. His shame surged into my body like water from a burst dam. I clenched my hands on the edge of the table.

“Unhand her,” Faithful demanded as he rose from his chair.

“As you wish,” He removed his hand and immediately returned it to my arm.

Faithful leveled a pistol at Centin’s chest. Faithful and I could not be charged with any crime until after the completion of the duel. Centin released me. I clambered away from the table with a torn sleeve my shoulder-blade clearly audible.

A slave led me to the combat platform where the King proclaimed the rules of engagement to the thousands of spectators. My skin felt as if it were pricked with a million fiery needles all at once.

The food was poisoned.

Dizziness. Pounding head. Weak arm.

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