• Katrina Ashante Lenia Talane the High Queen of the Kintali people, or Kat as her friends knew well to call her, entered the meeting chamber. A thousand delegates from the various provinces of her country looked down upon her from their rows of seats stacked high above her. Her tranquil demeanor belied her racing heart. The weight of more than just her elaborately elegant gown bearing down on her, she took a deep breath.

    “I have called this meeting of the High Counsel to address some alarming matters that have come to my attention.”

    Tristan (eight middle names) Milantio, the Counsel Moderator, stood and, as is his duty, asked the obvious question.

    “What matters are these, Your Royal Highness?”

    His square jaw and chiseled features tensed at the sight of her. She wanted to smile; She was wearing all of his favorites, even the ones he couldn’t see at the moment. Kat hoped it would lessen the blow of what was to come.

    “We have a traitor in our midst. High Guard secure the doors!”

    Tristan nodded at the guards, the law required the consent of both the Queen and the Moderator to give consent for any military action, and they moved into position. Again Tristan spoke.

    “What evidence do you bring this Counsel?”

    “Evidence most high! I have a witness, a letter which all of this Counsel will agree is in the hand of the accused, and further evidence collected from the quarters of the accused just now, and finally I have reason to believe the most incriminating evidence was in this room before I was!”

    “Tell us then, what is the crime?”

    “Treason against the Crown and the murder of mine own parents!”

    Tristan’s face showed little emotion, he’d received the same training that she had in hiding emotion, but she knew him well. He was shocked and l little proud of her. She regretted hiding this from him, but it was for his own safety, and sanity, that she hadn’t shared this with him sooner. She hoped when all was said and done he’d be able to forgive her, somehow.

    “This crime has deeply affected us all. Tell us, who is it that has betrayed us all? Let this Counsel seize them, that we may hold trial!”

    “That, I cannot allow. I call upon the Old Law and therefore my right to order the execution of enemies of the Crown.”

    “That law can only be invoked if you have reason to believe this Counsel biased, Your Highness.”

    “The guilty party is one of this Counsel…”

    “That alone is not cause enough, you know this.”

    “… and the Father of the Moderator.”