The breeze passed through Ana's hair, bringing with it the fetid stench of the swamp. She stood upon the wooden platform which the soldiers had hurriedly set up for the occasion. The justicar, a member of the Academy, read aloud from a scroll detailing the crime she'd been convicted of -- practicing magic arts without the knowledge or approval of the Academy heirarchy. Any unsanctioned practice was deemed dangerously subversive and treasonous. Only Academy students could learn and practice the magical arts, and they apparently used it to watch over everyone else. The king might rule the land, but the mages at the Academy, with their burgundy robes and shiny black boots, ruled the king. The man standing a short distance away was someone Ana barely knew, just the man who'd let her ride with him to the port city. By doing so he'd condemned himself as well, to the fate reserved exclusively for traitors -- being fitted with a weighted ankle cuff and prodded into the bottomless quicksands of the great swamp.