“You stand before a court of your peers,” said Magus Matthaeus. “A jury of your fellow Magicians, Mages, Wizards and Warlocks. Academics of the Winds of Change.”

The accused knelt chained to the hall floor. Arms clasped with silver manacles and circled in a ring of salt. She looked up, her black-blue hair hung stringy around her face, her eyes red and puffy.

Along the walls on benches were hundreds of wizards and other magic users of the 16th District. The center of Institutional Magic practice in the West. In their starry gowns, academy robes, and other splendid uniforms; they looked in horror at the trail of a young and promising magician.

“You stand accused,” said the Magus. “Of a most evil murder and the use of black magic.”

The accused shrieked. “I’m innocent! I have done nothing!” she looked at her peers. “Those books were for academic purposes!”

“The pentagram? The cyanide?!” accused one of the judges. “The blood?!”

Murmurs flooded across the hall.

“An experiment!”

“We have evidence of you infiltrating a 20th District hospital…” said the Magus. “The maternity ward.”

The accused hissed, “I haven’t left the District in six months!”

The Magus waved his hand. A projector whirled and cast a camera feed on the wall behind the council. A hooded figure with a bundle in her arms ran towards a black Mercedes. The feed froze when her face was revealed under the cowl.

The Magus stood, his voice boomed through the immense chamber. “History is filled with false trials and witch hunts. For too long magic users have been destroyed by the ignorant and superstitious! Only by policing our own can we hope to protect ourselves from the world’s flocks and mobs. We alone can protect ourselves!”

Murmurs echoed through the chamber before a single shuttering giggle sent the chamber into terrifying silence.

The accused looked up, laughing, her eyes as black as night as mists of black magic gathered around her, “I’m never alone…”


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