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Tears streamed from her eyes and splashed on the cold stone floor. Jill blinked hard to focus on her father’s face. He stood mere yards away but he wouldn’t be able to stop the blade poised at her throat.
“Ulvarg, please! I’m the one you want.” Tom removed his fighting staff and slid it across the floor past his king. He removed a long dagger and small knife and slid them across the floor as well. “I’m unarmed, Ulvarg. Please, take your vengeance out on me, not her.”
“My vengeance requires more than your life, Tomas. I wanted you to suffer and know agony before your death. You do not deserve the quick end of a slit throat. I vowed if you returned, I would smash your will to live until you begged for death. And even then, I would not bring your end until I grow tired of your screams.”
“Do with me as you will, my King, but I beg you to let her go. She will never be a threat to you,” Tom said. He moved closer, his palms out in a submissive manner.
“A war is brewing at my borders because of you, Tomas. I have no time to punish you as you deserve. But before I kill you, you will know agony and a grief so powerful, it will suffice.”
Jill watched her father’s face. She saw hope withdraw from his eyes before he met her gaze. He mouthed, “I love you” as if saying his goodbyes. A weird sensation spread through her mind. A need to protect rather than be protected. Her heart no longer slammed against her chest like a base drum. A calmness stilled it and she gave him a small smile.
The blade pressed hard against her skin before she felt the King stiffen. His grip loosened on her hair and the sword fell from his hand, clanging against the floor. Jill twisted away and looked back to see a long blade protruding from the King’s chest. All semblance of sanity faded from his features. They twisted into an ugly display and finally froze as his body pitched forward. Jill scrambled away as the King fell unseeing to the ground. She stared at the body like someone had pulled a cruel prank on them until she looked back and saw Layla standing behind where the King once stood. Blood trickled from a small gash in her forehead and her hands shook slightly. She seemed shocked at her own actions.
Tom pulled Jill from the ground and held her so tight it actually hurt but she would never complain. It felt good. Guards appeared as if waiting for the stand off to end and rushed into the throne room. They filed in and stared dumbstruck at their dead King. Tom pushed Jill and Layla behind him but Layla step out and stood to meet the guards. Her face no longer registering confusion but confidence.
The closest guard pulled his sword from its sheath and Layla walked out to meet him.