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I'm writing the following sentence, and I'd like an idiomatic equivalent for "feel the heat" (to encounter an uncomfortable situation.) that would be acceptable for formal written English:

Warily eyeing the enemy army's advance, the old king began _______

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    It depends on exactly what you're trying to say. For example, was the king actually scared, or was he feeling energised and confident as the tension rose in those around him? – FumbleFingers Jun 25 '17 at 12:06
  • I would say he was getting scared. I imagine beads of sweat forming on his forehead... – Ilanysong Jun 25 '17 at 12:18
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    '...the old king really began to feel the pressure.' Strange how a slightly different metaphor can alter the register. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 25 '17 at 12:30
  • I'd probably ditch continuous in favour of an infinitive form - began to feel nervous, or more metaphorically, perhaps, began to sweat. But it's just writing advice. – FumbleFingers Jun 25 '17 at 13:19
  • Could you use your own "the old king started to feel beads of sweat forming on his forehead"? Then you would not need 'Warily' at all. – Yosef Baskin Jun 25 '17 at 13:59
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Warily eyeing the enemy army's advance, the old king became apprehensive (of any undesirable outcome).

apprehensive

adjective:

  1. anxious or fearful that something bad or unpleasant will happen.

"The king was apprehensive that the enemy will capture the city and dethrone him"

-3

"It was squeaky bum time for the king"

From Wiktionary

(noun, uncountable) (informal, chiefly Britain)
An exciting part of a sporting event, particularly the final moments of a close game or season.

Attributed to Sir Alex Ferguson, famed Scottish association football manager and former player referencing the sound made by moving around in a plastic seat while squirming under pressure.

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