The delicate crown on Morath’s head and her gilded garments gave her an air of old-world aristocracy, of riches that the world almost forgot had once existed. The rustle of her long dress filled the hall as she sat on her throne and gazed upon her subjects with gentle, yet inquisitive eyes.
“Be seated, my kin,” she ordered, and her subjects complied. “Today’s gathering is long overdue. We have been suffering for far too long. Our freedom has been taken from us, and along with it, our dignity and safety.”
Vigorous nods and shouts of approval from around the room accompanied her words. “It’s time we regained our rightful place in the kingdom of Argot,” Morath declared. “It’s time for justice.” Her subjects’ voices became loud and angry, but the shouts ended as soon as Morath lifted her right hand to ask for silence. “Our kind of justice, not theirs.”
She paused and smiled at Yoran’s girls, who were sitting together to her side. Tears were streaming down Marci’s face, and Bethany, too, appeared on the verge of crying. Only Sian sat defiant, her eyes cold and unmoved.
Then Morath turned her attention to Yoran.
“Protector Sumner. Some would argue—most, in fact—that you don’t even deserve to be in this room. That your actions have already condemned you to the pits of hell, and there’s no need for us to review the past. But I believe in justice. And I believe, unlike you, that everyone should be given an opportunity to explain their actions. Including you, a man who has spent his life trying to eradicate our kind from the face of Argot.”
Yoran watched Morath with disgust. “I don’t need your filthy justice,” he shouted, followed immediately by fiery protests from the audience.
“Daddy, please,” Marci cried, her words lost in the cacophony of voices.
“Silence in the court,” Morath’s voice boomed. Her eyes remained fixated on Yoran. “Want it or not, you will receive it, Protector. And all your children will bear witness,” Morath said and turned to face an officer of the court standing to her left. “Officer, bring the child,” she ordered, once again accompanied by murmurs.