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Six hours later, precisely three days after ordered by Duke Natis, Merrie reformed in the shadows just outside of the court house. It had been years since she had come through the door for Rakin’s trial, but the massive stone building had not changed since. Marble columns rose up to form narrow passages to the glass-fronted buildings that hummed with dispelling and disrupting magic. There were thousands upon thousands of spells layered on from centuries of wards. They prevented telepathy, truth-detection, and eavesdropping. She could sense the cold press of divination magic, the court was one of the few places where the truth had to be told, not forced. Illusions and shape-changing would also be stripped away by passing the columns.

She knew she could used her shadow powers to enter the court but the overwhelming urge to present herself wouldn’t allow anything other than her crawling up to the front door. She had to present herself, to turn herself in.

It was late evening. Normally, the court was quiet with only a few dozen judges, advocates, and defendants going in and out the doors. There was always a court open to handle emergencies, bail that couldn’t wait until morning or marriages that had to be done before the stroke of midnight.

However, seeing a thick press of people stopped her. There were far more than she expected, hundreds of people were milling outside of the building. She spotted high and low society, journalists and judges. They were waiting for something.

She suspect she knew exactly who they were waiting for: her. She wrapped her black cloak around her body and then brought a shade spell to direct eyes away from her. Slowly, she crawled out into the press of the crowd and let surface thoughts seep into her own mind.

Treason.

The bastard who killed my brother is finally coming to justice.

Death to the shadows!

Fear and hatred of the Shadowed District and wild fantasies ranging from a noble’s son to a poor man’s daughter. Not everyone knew who was showing up, only that a traitor to the country would be forced to walk through the doors.

As she got into a better position, she looked at her destination. For all the crowds, there was a large empty space in front of the door. Everyone wanted to see her come in. It would be hard to miss, there were dozens of lampposts shining brilliantly with magical light. The bright, white light was painful to her eyes and her skin crawled with the fear it was too brilliant for her shadowy form.

Standing between each gap was a guard in left-green uniform. She could tell the center two were Loyals, powerful warrior mages that had sworn lifelong fealty to crown and country. They wore armor permanently bonded to their bodies and a brutal array of combat spells. The other four were Resolutes wearing more cumbersome armor with less magic, but they were still powerful.

Merrie shivered. Claston’s personal guard, Loyal Alestri, was Merrie’s equal in combat. Two of them would easily best her, not that she was planning on attacking.

One of the center doors opened and the crowd grew hushed. Merrie could barely see past the brilliant light but it looked like a dour old woman wearing a heavy black robe. She had a matching staff except for a large emerald leaf on the top. She strode past one of the Loyals and a few steps into the cleared out courtyard.

“I am the Voice of Justice.” Her voice easily carried across the silent crowd. “I am invoking the summons for Merrie Golddother for the crimes of treason against Franome and the Royal Family. Present yourself within fifteen minutes or the Loyals of Justice shall hunt you down.”

Merrie’s blood ran cold with ice.

Around her, a ripple of surprise ran through the crowd but it died and the courtyard was plunged into complete silence. Not even insects made a noise as everyone looked around, waiting for Merrie to present herself.

Duke Natis’ suggestion spell rose up to choke her thoughts, driving her to step out into the empty space that formed in front of the courthouse. It was overpowering and dominating.

She lifted one wrist up and started forward. She couldn’t stop herself as she crawled into the brightly light courtyard. The magical light instantly blackened her skin, peeling back the thin layer and revealing the boiling shadows inside.

Agony broke the suggestion’s spell grip on her mind. It was only a brief respite, but she yanked back from the light with a yelp and dove back into the shadows of the legs in the crowd.

The suggestion spell grabbed her thoughts, driving her to present herself despite the brilliant light.

She fought it, struggling with the spell. She projected to the woman in black, (Please help, I can’t survive bright light.)

It was like projecting into rock. Merrie had never experienced such a perfect mental shield. There was no shifting of subconscious thoughts, no weakness created by errant desires, and not even a crack that every living creature possessed. She spent a few seconds exploring the woman’s defenses but even she couldn’t penetrate it.

The spell gripped her tightly and she was forced to take another step into the light. Her skin blackened and agony raced up her leg. She let out a whimper and tried to pull back but the spell had gripped her movements and forced her further out into the light.

The searing agony caught her scalp and back. The flesh blackened and tore, revealing more of the shadows inside her. Her heart beat rapidly, slamming through her body with a drum of agony. She cried out, tears splashing down.

She felt people looking at her, drawn by her cries and the burning flesh. Their surprise and hatred focused on her, driving into her shields and battering her emotions as she struggled to keep from crawling out into the killing field of light.

“Look, the Voice had to force her to appear.”

“What happened to her feet?”

“Why is she smoking?”

“What is wrong with her?”

“Fucking bitch!”

The Voice scanned back and forth before she focused on Merrie. Her eyes turned an intense black as her look sharpened. The look was not unlike Dith’s, one that seemed to strip away everything including her mental shields. She felt naked underneath the black-eyed look, stripped bare of everything but a vulnerable bitch.

A surge of lust rose up inside her.

The suggestion spell drove her closer to the courtyard. She stepped completely into the light despite the agony. Her entire body smoked violently as she felt the light digging into the boiling darkness. The brightness blinded her vision, she couldn’t see anything but white-hot agony. Only the spell drove her forward, forcing her closer to the main entrance with irresistible force.

Curious and angry voices rose up around her.

She whimpered, staggering forward.

The light continued to peeled back her skin before burning away the black cloud of her being. She could feel the light against her raw, crystalline nerves. New agonies ripped through her body as she slumped forward. Her body slammed against the cobblestones as the smell of burning flesh and sake filled the air.

There was an uncomfortable silence as Merrie crawled across the ground, whining and crying as she had to force herself across the cobblestones. Her helplessness ignited her power, it rose up in a wave of black orgasm but the power wasn’t enough to keep her body from dissolving under the light.

She dug into herself, trying to find some way of breaking the suggestion’s hold on her. Sobbing from the agony, she took a deep breath and tried to gather the darkness into her. The light burned it away as fast as she could create it.

Merrie’s right arm collapsed in a burst of darkness. She fell forward, smashing her face into the cobblestones. Light burst across her vision as she screamed out in agony.

She couldn’t stop moving. The spell forced her.

Dragging her face and chest against the ground, she dug the ends of her ankles into the stones and shoved forward. She managed to move another few centimeters before the rest of her body collapsed. Tears melted off her face, swirling away in clouds of black mist.

“Loyal Alestri says stop!” An overwhelming blast of Presence slammed into her, blowing away the duke’s suggestion spell. She let out a cry as she was forced to freeze, a surge of incredible lust ripped through her body. Alestri’s Presence was a compulsion that she had experienced before, one that flooded her body and mind with raw, overwhelming pleasure.

There was a gasp from the crowd. Merrie saw movement but her blurred vision couldn’t focus on where the Loyal stood.

“Loyal Alestri says freeze!” Another compulsion battered Merrie.

Merrie’s eyes snapped open as her entire world exploded into a raging orgasm. Pleasure seared along her senses, ripping out of her mind. The wave of pleasure exploded from her mind and radiated out from her mind.

Around her, the people watching suddenly dropped to their knees as they experienced one of the strongest orgasms of their lives. Their pleasures exploded from their own minds, radiating back to slam into Merrie and setting off another set of orgasms.

“What is going on, Loyal?” asked the Voice in an annoyed voice. She was clearly affected by the rippling pleasures that radiated from Merrie.

“Bright light is fatal to the defendant. You have seconds before she is killed by the light. Loyal Alestri must service justice immediately.”

“Do it,” ordered the Voice.

There was a crack of air and then suddenly something heavy was draped over Merrie. The explosion from Alestri’s teleportation slammed Merrie into the side, rolling her over and wrapping whatever was draped over her around her body.

The searing agony faded into a painful relief. Whatever Alestri had dropped on her blocked the light almost completely.

Merrie panted with relief, her body shuddering with the afterglow of her orgasm and the waves of agony slowly subsiding. She curled up and let the tears flow.

Footsteps stopped next to her. “Alestri, explain yourself,” said the Voice in a low voice.

Alestri grunted. “Loyal Alestri is unable to explain.”

“Why?” The Voice sounded unhappy.

“Loyal Alestri is unable to explain.”

“I am the Voice. You must obey.”

Merrie cringed. Her body was still on fire and she couldn’t do anything to respond, both Alestri and the Voice wouldn’t respond to her mental projection.

“Loyal Alestri is unable to explain.” The Loyal seemed unperturbed by the command by one of the highest ranking members in the entire country.

“We shall discuss this further,” said the Voice. Her voice rose, taking on the clear quality that easily cut across “By law, we must protect all defendants from injury or death. How we ensure her safety for the trial?”

“Keep all light away from her. A locked room with no windows or light sources.”

There was a ripple of surprise through the crowds.

“Does she have powers that would allow her to escape?”

The Loyal didn’t immediately respond and Merrie could almost imagine her tensing. “Multiple. She is capable of dimensional travel, shape-shifting, transformation into shadows. She is difficult to capture for extended period of items.”

“How are you aware of this?”

“Loyal Alestri is unable to explain.”

The Voice grunted. “We must also ensure she will not escape. That is also required by law.”

“She is a True Submissive. Any form of strongly phrase order, suggestion, or compulsion will keep her save.”

“Suggestions and compulsions are illegal in all matters of justice.”

“Loyal Alestri suggests you give her a strongly-worded order.”

“Are you serious, Loyal? Just telling her to stay would be sufficient?” The Voice’s demeanor cracked with her surprise.

“Loyal Alestri swears on her oath.”

There was an uncomfortable silence.

“Very well.” The Voice spoke up. “Loyals, take the defendant into custody. Follow Loyal Alestri’s suggestions for care. And… give her an order to remain every…”

“Loyal Alestri recommends every thirty minutes. Spoke with great force of will.”

“Post a guard in her room to give her an order to stay.”

Pinned underneath her cover, Merrie’s lust rose up with anticipation. It burned with the fear of her trial and the lust of being commanded repeatedly.