A Regent had ruled from the throne of Stalwart for more than five centuries, an unbroken chain of leadership and sovereignty that culminated in the cries of a newborn, the last heir to the ancestral keep in which we stood. Our path was clear: to cleanse the land of the powerful Edict of Storms, the child, last blood of the line of regents, must die.

“You will not touch my daughter,” Amelia swore, drawing a Disfavored sword from her days commanding a garrison of veteran warriors. She had the steely-eyed resolve of her father, and all in the room looked to one another, unsure of how the scenario would play out. The only certainty was that there would be blood, but whose?

She explained the hospitality she had been shown, and the care and kindness of the regent’s youngest son, having been killed earlier this year. It was his child, and with the old regent dead, her daughter was all that remained of the bloodline. She begged us not to judge her on the basis of her heritage, yet scoffed at the idea of returning with the Scarlet Chorus for the Voices of Nerat’s “protection.”

With hard eyes nevertheless rimmed with tears, she asked me to tell the truth; would her child be safe with the Chorus? She realized Graven Ashe would never take her back, or recognize his granddaughter, the next Regent of Stalwart, and also understood that her choices were exceedingly limited – chance voluntarily joining the Scarlet Chorus, or try her hand at killing us all. Her options looked poor from any angle, and she was willing to die to save her child. The room waited for my response.

I may have come from rough-and-tumble upbringings but my study of the law under Tunon was comprehensive, and taught me far more about the world than the streets ever could. I took a deep breath and offered a solution.

“Amelia, would you be willing to abdicate your child’s claim on the throne?”

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. “What would that solve?”

“Kyros’ Edict would end and the child would no longer be associated with the rebellion here. In time perhaps your father would even accept her. You would both live under the protection of Voices of Nerat.”

“Never!” screamed the Scarlet Chorus commander. “The Edict must stand! Stupid woman, the only choice for your baby to live is to join us here and now!”

I was ready to backhand the man when Amelia’s sword fell to the ground. “I yield,” she sobbed. “I would rather chance a life under Voices of Nerat than know my child died here.”

She was escorted out by the Chorus. “All in a day’s work,” the commander said to me, a jovial smile on his face. “I’ll tell the Archon that you did as commanded!”

I still wanted to backhand the man.