Roald sits straight, his eyes staring ahead of him at something no one else can see, his lips moving to some silent refrain. He raises his hand to the lace at his throat, blinking slightly like a mole suddenly caught outdoors. Slowly, he stands, placing his wineglass on the edge of the table. It slips and shatters.
The conversation at the table continues, unconcerned, most unaware of the drama being acted out before them.
He raises an arm to point at some spectre, invisible to all but him, and the table hushes to gaze in the direction of his pointing finger. He utters something uninteligable.
Suddenly, his chest heaves, and he buckles, falling sideways in his chair.
Owain and Aaron, on either side of the king, leap up, but there is nothing they can do.
Someone cries out. She doesn’t see who.
The table is silent now, and all can hear as Roald begins violently to cough. His whole body spasms, his head jerking, his arms at strange angles.
Owain shouts for help, but he is powerless, and can do nothing but watch as his father’s face turns bright red, his lips laced with spit.
He begins coughing up blood now – his suit is spotted with red. Someone tries to help him to sit up, but Roald’s body isn’t responding: he jerks and buckles, one side of his body seemingly paralysed.
His face is purple – he can barely breathe. Servants pour into the room, a doctor is called. Everyone knows he will come too late.
Someone suggests unblocking his windpipe, but it is lost in the general din of horror. Ladies turn their faces away, men hold them, their faces set in grim lines.
They do nothing. They can do nothing.
Some miracle should happen!
Something to save such a good a righteous king...
So beloved by all...
The king’s fate is sealed now, as his spasms become more violent, and his breath more ragged and inconsistent. His face has shadows of grey.
His beard is full of blood, his face has aged fifty years. He seems frail as his coughs rack his body. Owain desperately heaves at his father’s body in an attempt to discover some way of helping him, even if it is simply to ease his last few moments.
But who... ?
The breaths are more uneven now, weaker. His head lolls, and he looks at people without any recognition in his eyes.
Owain staggers away, disgust and horror in every line of his face.
His own father...
There is nothing anyone can do for him now. He is lost.
His face is blue. He is suffocating within his own body, as surely as if he were being strangled.
Murder, most horrible!
Who could do such a thing? Such a terrible thing?
It is all over. The King is dead.