Hidden Truths, Hidden Hearts

The first in the Hidden Truths trilogy.
Maria always knew she was different. From when she was a child she could do things she couldn't explain and had a power she couldn't understand. Then she meets Zac who changes her life forever. Together they embark on a journey that presents dangers, reveals long forgotten truths and brings them together in ways they could never imagine.

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18. Trial

While the charges were read out the oracle watched Maria with interest and pity. He could see the apprehension in her eyes. She was so young. She didn't deserve to be in a situation like this.

When the charges were read out Maria was called to the centre, as she stood on the carving it glowed with a golden light. She couldn't run away now.

"You used magic in front of non-magical beings." said a man in a yellow robe, "Do you deny this?"

Maria looked to the ground, "No."

"You also used to magic to harm. As a result you are charged with murder. Do you deny this?"

There was a pause before she replied, "No."

"Very serious actions indeed." said the oracle, his deep voice was warm.

"But I deny the act of murder!" Maria blurted angrily.

The whole council gasped. No one had ever interrupted the oracle before. The man stared at Maria in black fury. He was about to speak when the oracle raised a hand to silence him.

"Let her speak." he said calmly.

The man gestured for Maria to continue although he did not take his glare off her.

"I don't deny using magic to harm but it was not murder." she struggled to remain calm, "It was defense. He was going to...to..."

Her voice choked as she wiped the hot tears from her eyes. Some people watched her with sympathy whilst others tutted with annoyance.

"I couldn't stop it once it started. It was like I couldn't take control. I could feel it burning inside me but I couldn't put it out."

Murmurs fluttered around. No one took their eyes off her. The oracle studied her calmly, "Do not worry. Many of us know what his intentions were. (some council members shuddered) However, I hope you know this can not be dismissed."

Maria nodded but could no longer look at them. Her heart was throwing itself against her ribs as if trying to break out of her chest.  Some more murmurs went around before the council fell silent.
"The council has reached its verdict." declared the oracle'a assailant, "Maria Chandra you are guilty of magical exposure and harmful attacks. You are cleared of murder charges."
A small sigh of relief escaped her throat. But it wasn't over yet.
"You are forbidden to use magic and condemned to exile." said the oracle, "For company, you may keep your dragon."
Murmurs of disapproval rippled round. In normal circumstances exiles were separated from anything concerning the magical world. Allowing Maria to keep her dragon was not how things were normally done. The oracle gestured to a couple of figures in white robes and silver 
armor. Golden wings protruded from their backs.
"Take her away." he said sadly.
The figures walked forward and grasped Maria's arms. Just as she was led away from the 
center, there was a loud cry of desperation.
"No! There must be another way! You can't do this!"
Without warning, Zac burst into the courtroom. Looking wildly around he spotted Maria being dragged out. Her body limp, she had given up the fight.
"I'm sorry, Zac," the oracle'a voice was genuinely sad, "I cannot change what has been decided."
There was a sudden rushing sound as Zac ran at Maria. To the surprise of everyone, he pressed his hands against Maria's cheeks and kissed her. She didn't pull away. She didn't want to. She pushed back against him. Everything seemed to slow to a stop in that single moment.  Then the guards pulled them apart and dragged Maria away. Zac shouted something after her but she didn't hear. She just kept walking mindlessly. Completely empty inside.

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