I gave her a dangerous smile of my own. "Do not," I warned, "try to threaten, bribe, or blackmail me. Ever. You won't like the consequences."

That might have been going too far. People in the audience exchanged startled looks. Some of their expressions were disgusted, as though they could expect nothing better of me. I recognized a few of those Moroi. They were ones I'd overheard talking about my relationship with Adrian and how the queen hated it. I also suspected a number of royals from last night's ceremony were here too. They'd seen Tatiana lead me out and no doubt thought my outburst and disrespect today were a type of revenge.

The Moroi weren't the only ones who reacted. Regardless of whether they shared my opinions, a few guardians stepped forward. I made sure to stay exactly where I was, and that, along with Tatiana's lack of fear, kept them in place.

"We're getting weary of this conversation," Tatiana said, switching to the royal we. "You can speak more--and do so in the proper manner--when we have our next meeting and open the floor to comments. For now, whether you like it or not, this resolution has been passed. It's law."

She's letting you off! Lissa's voice was back in my head. Back away from this before you do something that'll get you in real trouble. Argue later.

It was ironic because I'd been on the verge of exploding and letting my full rage out. Lissa's words stopped me--but not because of their content. It was Lissa herself. When Adrian and I had discussed the results earlier, I'd noted one piece of faulty logic.

"It wasn't a fair vote," I declared. "It wasn't legal."

"Are you a lawyer now, Miss Hathaway?" The queen was amused, and her dropping of my guardian title now was a blatant lack of respect. "If you're referring to the monarch's vote carrying more weight than others on the Council, then we can assure you that that has been Moroi law for centuries in such situations." She glanced at her fellow Council members, none of whom raised a protest. Even those who'd voted against her couldn't find fault with her point.

"Yeah, but the entire Council didn't vote," I said. "You've had an empty spot in the Council for the last few years--but not anymore." I turned and pointed at where my friends were sitting. "Vasilisa Dragomir is eighteen now and can fill her family's spot." In all of this chaos, her birthday had been overlooked, even by me.

The eyes in the room turned on Lissa--something she did not like. However, Lissa was used to being in the public eye. She knew what was expected of a royal, how to look and carry herself. So, rather than cringing, she sat up straight and stared ahead with a cool, regal look that said she could walk up to that table right now and demand her birthright. Whether it was that magnificent attitude alone or maybe a little spirit charisma, she was almost impossible to look away from. Her beauty had its usual luminous quality, and around the room, a lot of the faces held the same awe for her that I'd observed around Court. Dimitri's transformation was still an enigma, but those who believed in it were indeed regarding her as some kind of saint. She was becoming larger than life in so many people's eyes, both with her family name and mysterious powers--and now the alleged ability to restore Strigoi.

Smug, I looked back at Tatiana. "Isn't eighteen the legal voting age?" Checkmate, bitch.

"Yes," she said cheerfully. "If the Dragomirs had a quorum."

I wouldn't say my stunning victory exactly shattered at that point, but it certainly lost a little of its luster. "A what?"

"A quorum. By law, for a Moroi family to have a Council vote, they must have a family. She does not. She's the only one."

I stared in disbelief. "What, you're saying she needs to go have a kid to get a vote?"

Tatiana grimaced. "Not now, of course. Someday, I'm sure. For a family to have a vote, they must have at least two members, one of whom must be over eighteen. It's Moroi law--again, a law that's been in the books for centuries."

A few people were exchanging confused and surprised looks. This was clearly not a law many were familiar with. Of course, this situation--a royal line reduced to one person--wasn't one that had occurred in recent history, if it had ever occurred at all.

"It's true," said Ariana Szelsky reluctantly. "I've read it."

Okay, that was when my stunning victory shattered. The Szelsky family was one I trusted, and Ariana was the older sister of the guy my mom protected. Ariana was a pretty bookish kind of person, and seeing as she'd voted against the guardian age change, it seemed unlikely she'd offer this piece of evidence if it weren't true.

With no more ammunition, I resorted to old standbys.

"That," I told Tatiana, "is the most f**ked-up law I have ever heard."

That did it. The audience broke into shocked chatter, and Tatiana gave up on whatever pretense of friendliness she'd been clinging to. She beat the herald to any orders he might have given.

"Remove her!" shouted Tatiana. Even with the rapidly growing noise, her voice rang clearly through the room. "We will not tolerate this sort of vulgar behavior!"

I had guardians on me in a flash. Honestly, with how often I'd been dragged away from places lately, there was almost something comfortably familiar about it. I didn't fight the guardians as they led me to the door, but I also didn't let them take me without a few parting words.

"You could change the quorum law if you wanted, you sanctimonious bitch!" I yelled back. "You're twisting the law because you're selfish and afraid! You're making the worst mistake of your life. You'll regret it! Wait and see--you'll wish you'd never done it!"

I don't know if anyone heard my tirade because by then, the hall was back to the chaos it had been in when I entered. The guardians--three of them--didn't let go of me until we were outside. Once they released me, we all stood around awkwardly for a moment.

"What now?" I asked. I tried to keep the anger out of my voice. I was still furious and worked up, but it wasn't these guys' fault. "Are you going to lock me up?" Seeing as it would bring me back to Dimitri, it would almost be a reward.

"They only said to remove you," one of the guardians pointed out. "No one said what to do with you after that."

Another guardian, old and grizzled but still fierce looking, gave me a wry look. "I'd take off while you can, before they really have a chance to punish you."

"Not that they won't find you if they really want to," added the first guardian.

With that, the three of them headed back inside, leaving me confused and upset. My body was still revved for a fight, and I was filled with the frustration I always experienced whenever I was faced with a situation I felt powerless in. All that yelling for nothing. I'd accomplished nothing.

Tags: Richelle Mead Vampire Academy Fantasy
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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