Despite thinking it was over for the night, it was late in the morning that Ginny finally delivered Merrie to the wagon.

“Get up there, Bitch.”

Merrie smiled to herself as she crawled up. Her naked pussy was bare to everyone looking as she wagged back and forth and crawled into the darkness. Automatically, she worked her way past the legs of her fellow prisoners and crawled into the cage.

To her surprise, the cloaks and clothes had been replaced with a stained but serviceable blanket. She smiled and curled up in a ball. She rested her chin on her forearm and looked at the door as Ginny stood staring at her.

“Be good, all of you,” said the captain in her rough voice. She slapped the door shut and locked it from the outside.

Merrie glanced at the still open cage door. They hadn't locked her in place. Looking around, the other prisoners were staring at the door with amused looks on their face. She reached out and caught the door, swinging it shut until it clicked into place.

She felt someone staring at her. She looked up to see both Ston and Monte were watching her instead of the door. She didn't know what either were thinking or when they started watching her. Did either see her closing her cage door?

Worried, Merrie closed her eyes.

“You never answered my question, Bitch.” It was Ston, he was asking about the shadow land again.

“Ston, don't do this,” said Monte.

“We have a day, I'm curious. Why didn't you close it. You had the ability, right?”

Unlike with Ginny, Merrie could feel that none of them would change their opinion about her. She shook her head and sighed. “It felt right to leave it up.”

“Felt right? A hundred thousand people dying.”

“They hadn't died yet. Everyone talks about dying in the shadow lands.”

“Yeah, but the Shadowed District killed thousands!”


“Fuck off, Monte. I'm asking questions.”

In the silence, Mace cleared his throat but said nothing.

“So, why right? You must have had something? A spell that told you that you weren't violating the lives of everyone in the country? Some magical sense? A way of knowing that your decision wouldn't put everything at risk?”

Merrie's skin ran colder than normal. Ston's question felt precise, chosen. It sounded like he was trying to see if she had the Royal Geas. She didn't need the geas to know she wouldn't reveal it, but there was an off feeling from the current line of questioning.

“Come on, tell us.”

“I don't really need to know,” Monte said holding his shackled hands up.

“Of course not, guard.”

“I'm not a guard.”

“Why not? You seem to know things are going on. Didn't you tell us how to behave so Weak Bladder over here got a chance to pee.”

“Hey! I can't help it if they don't give me enough time to go!” Razor rattled his shackles.

Monte held up his hands. “Come on, let's not fight. That will make the rest of this trip misery.”

Ston slumped back. “I just want to know.”

“Not now, Ston.”

“Fine, forget I asked.”

There was a ripple of light that blossomed in the room like a thousand spiderwebs suddenly appearing. Merrie froze as she saw the swirls of energy rising over everyone's head, including Ston's and her own. It had a taste of holy to it, a divine spell.

None of the men responded to the energies in the room. The light was visible yet had no reflection against the dark walls.

It only took her a moment to realize it was a compulsion spell. As it sank into her mind, she could feel it seeping through her thoughts. With a dread, she was helplessly to stop it knowing that her alpha nature would magnify it beyond its limits. If it was designed to make her forget the last conversation, it could remove her memories for days or even years.

A whine rose from her throat as the spell coated her thoughts in webs.

Then a ripple of subtle energies ran across her mind. The compulsion spell flared and then dissolved, leaving little bits of structure behind it. Without thinking, she worked her mind around the fragments, pulling them apart to analyze how the spell work. She didn't know why it was broken, but it was important to her that she knew what it was intended to do.

The spell was a short-lived one, only about five minutes of conversation at most. It was divine, like she thought, but it wasn't clear who cast it. It didn't appear to need anything other than a powerful will and a single word to cast; she had never heard of a suggestion that powerful.

She glanced at Ston.

The accountant was sullenly sitting there, muttering to himself as he ignored everyone else in the room. He had to be the source of the spell, but why was he capable of using magic? If he was a mage, they would have sealed his powers. If he wasn't, then the courts should have detected that.

Merrie could tell if she used her magical powers. She had hours to analyze and look for magic, but that would require her to tap into her energies. She could do the same by scanning for emotions, but again, her promise to Parn stopped her.

What if the person casting spell was waiting to see if she had magic? Just like it sounded like Ston was asking about the Royal Geas. Using her powers would betray her lie and put everyone at risk.

She sighed and closed her eyes. No, she had to wait. If Ston was to betray her, it was best to just pretend she didn't remember the conversation and watch. There would be time for detecting magic, but this wasn't it.