“Annie, please stand.”

Taken by surprise by their next request, Annie stood.

“This court has already taken action with regards to the two sets of Intents filed by both parties. The Dissolution of Marriage and the Negation of Heredity brought by Lordess Anitra and Lord Byric have been made absolute. The original Intent by Grand Lord Rion and Under Lord Vadon has been dismissed as no longer relevant, and is no longer a valid issue because of the dissolution. Do you understand so far, Annie?”

“I...I think so, your Lordships.”

“Good. Because of the dissolution, we are now forced to take into account your being an otherworlder-”

A sudden sound behind her made her turn around in time to see Rion slap away his guard’s restraining hand on his shoulder as he remained on his feet. Wide-eyed, she turned back to face the panel. He knew something was about to happen. Something was about to be said, and he had gotten to his feet against protocol to protest. Annie could feel small tendrils of fear start to curl inside her stomach.

“Sit down, Grand Lord Rion,” the Master Lord said quietly.

“Permission sought-” Rion began.

“Sit down, Grand Lord Rion,” the Master Lord repeated, this time with less patience.

“Please, your Lordships-”


Without warning the tip of her guard’s sword was suddenly aimed at the hollow of her throat. Annie clutched the railing in fear as the metal point remained unwavering less than an inch from the pulse beating beneath her skin.

Slowly she lifted her eyes to see sadness in her guard’s eyes. He had had no choice but to obey, and now he was silently asking for her forgiveness as his hand never moved away from the front of her face.

There was a faint sound behind her. Immediately after, the Master Lord nodded, and the guard sheathed his sword. Annie shuddered from what had just happened and resisted the urge to glance back once more.

“We were speaking of your being an otherworlder. To resume...because you are no longer the wife of one of us, we believe that there is no reason why you should or must remain on our world.  We have taken into consideration your son, Kerr. Being as he is of our blood, he may remain with us. Also, because of his age, we have consulted a physician who has assured us that he is no longer dependent upon you for his well-being.  Therefore, this panel is closing this Intent for the evening and will resume again on the morrow at twenty and fifteen before the third cycle of the first morning. At which time, we will hear further testimony on whether or not you will be allowed to remain on this world, or be returned to your world. Guards, see to your charges.”

The huge ornate staff lifted and fell twice. The panel rose as one and filed out of the hall.

Annie slowly fell back into her chair. She felt numb all over. Detached from all that had happened.

They had wiped out her marriage to Rion as if it had never happened. Kerr had been declared a bastard, and no longer Rion’s heir.

Finally, they would determine tomorrow if she would be allowed to remain on this world, or be returned to hers.

Unable to think about it any further, Annie squeezed her eyes closed and clutched a handful of her guard’s robes. Unexpectedly a warm, strong hand took hers. She glanced up to see her guard staring down at her. Concern was written across his face.

“I must take you home now,” he told her.

Annie nodded and got shakily to her feet. She wanted to watch Rion leave, but she was afraid it would be too difficult. It was nearly impossible to keep her composure as it was.

“Would you like for me to call you a trip?” the guard inquired, helping her out of her cubicle.

“Could you...I mean, would if be possible for you to just fly me there by yourself? I’m sorry, but I really, really don’t want to be alone right now.”

The guard paused to mull over her request. Annie didn’t know if what she’d asked of him was protocol or not, and right now she really didn’t give a damn if it did. She needed a hug. She needed someone’s arms around her to make her feel protected, if not worthy of a meager amount of affection.