The Papal Audience.
Vladik and his partner dragged Anyia into the smaller reception room where the Priestess, Grand Prophet # 4, and several other Clergy members were waiting. The Prime Minister and his wife followed. They immediately approached Grand Prophet # 4 and knelt, touching their heads to the floor. It was strange to see a man in a business suit and a woman in a formal dress kneeling before a member of the Clergy, because normally anyone not performing Penance would be wearing a prayer robe. However, under the circumstances at the moment prayer robes were the least of anyone's concerns. The Grand Prophet blessed the First Couple and told them to rise and take a seat.
Vladik and his partner forced Anyia to kneel. The Clergy members immediately noted the same change in Anyia that the cops and staff in the main reception hall had noticed, that the Grand Duchess's spirit had broken. She no longer was the cruel imperious mistress of the Royal Household, but instead a miserable and frightened young woman who was just beginning to understand the awful consequences of everything she had done over the past three years.
The Priestess rose, carrying a folder full of confession statements from the Royal Servants, as well as statements from several members of the salaried staff who also had requested interviews with the Clergy. She picked out five of the statements, the ones that she considered the worst examples of abuse that Anyia had inflicted on those tasked to serve her.
What followed was a formal hearing that would strip Anyia of her Royal Immunity. For the next two hours, the Priestess read the five statements in their entirety. She only interrupted when she came to a particularly grievous action or order the Grand Duchess had given, asking her if indeed the statement was true. Anyia, who knelt quietly with tears still streaming down her cheeks, repeatedly answered: "Yes, Priestess, that statement is true."
Anyia's parents and brother listened in appalled silence to the steady stream of protocol violations and bizarre behavior that had constituted Anyia's daily routine since she assumed the crown. Listening was especially painful to her parents. They had known for several weeks what was going on in the Royal Residence, but to hear the details made them physically sick.
After two hours, the Priestess concluded by asking:
"Anyia Dukov, do you feel that your servants did anything to deserve the way you treated them?"
"No, Priestess, they didn't. They didn't deserve it."
"Then...why? Why did you constantly beat and defile people whose only wish was to serve your desires and needs? Why were you so desperate to treat your servants as sexual toys and strip away their honor? How can you justify what you did to them?"
"I can't justify what I did them, Priestess. I just did it because it was what I enjoyed doing. That's the only answer I can give you."
The Priestess looked hard at the Grand Duchess. Anyia's simple response, along with her subdued behavior, indicated that the young woman's transformation already had begun. The shock of her detention, being punished by her parents, seeing her co-conspirators lying dead, and finally hearing her own actions read to her by a member of the Danubian Clergy, had broken the imperious view of herself that she had developed over the past decade. There was no need to break her any further.
The Priestess read a series of passages from the Texts of the Ancients concerning the plight of evil rulers. According to the Texts, it was clear that Anyia had violated the trust the Creator had placed in her. The violation of that trust superseded the Royal Protocol that had protected her up to that moment. Therefore Anyia's Royal Immunity would be canceled. She would return to being an ordinary citizen, and thus be subject to trial.
"There are two separate sets of violations that you have committed.