The stranger knocks back his beaker of mead before standing at the center of the dais, directly in front of King Edwin. “Your Majesty,” he says and bows deeply. He begins to rise. Suddenly he leaps forward holding a two-edged dagger. Firelight glints off the metal.
Lilla, the thane seated closest to the king, sees Eumer’s intent and leaps across the space to protect my uncle. Eumer, unable to stop his own momentum, collides with both men. His dagger plunges through Lilla before finding its mark and wounding my uncle.
Blood pulses over the dais and drips onto the floor. Thanes growl and roar as they converge on the enemy. Eumer grabs a sword, swinging it against the thanes who surround him. He kills Forthere and wounds several other men, before the thanes tear him apart.
While the battle rages, Coifi and the other priests pull Lilla off the king. Coifi raises his staff. “The king lives!” he shouts. As word spreads, a mighty shout goes up through the hall. The warriors leave Eumer’s body and rush forward to view King Edwin. Coifi selects a few thanes to carry the king to his chamber and sends the others away.
I watch the scene unfold, shaking with terror. My knees give way, and I slip down the wall, pulling a tapestry with me. With horror, I realize I’m sitting in blood.
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