Marion stepped out of the chauffeured car onto the plaza in front of the great Citadel. The car immediately sped away. She turned and walked up the steps to the grand entrance. The guards in their splendid if old-fashioned scarlet and gold saluted her. This was another building where she could pass unchallenged. She crossed the cool, marble-flagged foyer and up the winding stairs to the entrance to the public gallery of the Panopticon itself. She took the perception filter medallion offered by the clerk in the outer room and stepped quietly into the gallery.

It was crowded. But a seat had been reserved for her on request. She took her place next to Kristoph’s aunt Thedera and Valena Arpexia’s mother. Lily and many of her other friends were there, too. Lady Dúccesci and Madam Artexian were on the other side of her and the president’s wife, Lady Gyes was there, too.

All of the high born ladies of Gallifrey whose husbands were highly placed in the government and law of Gallifrey were in attendance. Marion had a brief moment of uncertainty as she glanced around. They were all of them born to this life. She wasn’t.

But there was no need for her to worry. Most of these ladies were friends. Those that weren’t, like Lady Dúccesci and Madam Artexian were acquaintances. And all but a few of them accepted her as an equal.

There was still quite a bit of chatter going on in the gallery. Below them the Councillors and High Councillors were all still assembling and there was no need for silence just yet.

“Where is your daughter?” Madam Luchessa asked Lady Arpexia. “Is she not attending the Affirmation this afternoon?”

“Yes, she is,” Lady Arpexia replied. “Later.”

And that was all she said. Marion noticed Lord Arpexia taking his place below. He was one of the High Councillor who sat on a raised dais facing the ordinary Councillors and the public gallery. There was an even higher dais with gold ornament around it where the President, Chancellor and Premier Cardinal would sit when they entered the Panopticon.

And for this occasion, another dais, equally ornate, with golden symbols of Gallifreyan justice around it, had been set up. This was where the Magisters and Inquisitors of Gallifrey would sit for the Affirmation ceremony when they entered in procession. The High Inquisitor and her officers would be on the top level of the dais and the High Magisters of the two continents and the judges would sit below, and they would make their Affirmation, as they did every year, to uphold the laws of Gallifrey.

Marion was excited. She had seen the Affirmation twice now since Kristoph took up his post in the Magistry and she was proud to see him in the amazing full regalia of office, coming into the Panopticon in lordly procession.

“It’s a proud time for us all,” Thedera whispered to her. “My eldest nephew wears the robes of Office well, I think.”

“He does more than that,” Marion replied. “He conducts himself in that Office well. He is a very good judge.”

“Of course,” Thedera said. “He gets it from his ancestor, Chrístõ Diam?ndh?rt. He’s one of the most renowned judges in Gallifreyan history.”

“That was the one who was assassinated in his own court,” Marion noted with a wry note in her voice. “I hope Kristoph doesn’t emulate him too closely.”

Thedera assured her that assassination was not likely to happen in a modern Gallifreyan court. Marion knew that, of course. All kinds of security precautions were taken in the government buildings. Kristoph was safe when he sat in judgement. Even if he wasn’t, he was a brave man. He would never allow fear of reprisal stop him doing his job.

That was another reason why she was proud of him.

There was a fanfare and everyone stood; councillors, High Councillors and spectators in the gallery. Then the great doors opened to admit the President along with the Gold Usher who went before him on all great state occasions and the Chancellor and Premier Cardinal. All four men looked magnificent. Gold Usher, of course, wore a robe and gown of pure spun gold, different shades of it, from ‘white’ gold that was almost silver to a deep yellow-gold. His headdress was gold, too, and for the ceremonial occasion he wore gold eye make up and cheek highlights and lip colour. The President in gold with deep maroon, the Chancellor in blue and gold and the Premier Cardinal in scarlet and black all wore make up, too. Marion always found that a little surprising when she watched the very formal rituals of Gallifrey. Of course, the wearing of the ceremonial make up was a long, long tradition and it was considered quite acceptable for men to appear that way. But she never quite got over how strange it made these great and dignified men seem.

The assembly remained standing as the President took his place. Then the Presidential anthem was played before he took his seat and everyone else settled in preparation for the processional entry of the judges.

There was a formality about it, of course. The two great doors were closed again with a resounding crash and there was a silence over the proceedings for several minutes. Then there was a booming sound of somebody knocking on the doors with what Marion knew to be the great Mace of Justice – a huge ceremonial staff with ornamentation around the top. It had rested in the hall of Mount Lœng House overnight on a huge plinth. It fell to Kristoph, as High Magister of the Southern Continent, to wield it this year. Last year the honour fell to the High Magister of the Northern Continent.

The doors were opened ceremoniously by guards in both red and blue. The High Magister of the Southern Continent, flanked by his Northern counterpart entered first, dressed in scarlet and heliotrope respectively, marking their Chapters – Prydonian and Patrexean. Both wore great high collars and headdresses ornamented with gold and diamonds and their faces glittered with make up containing powdered diamonds.

Behind them came the High Inquisitor, whose gown was scarlet and white. She had been a Prydonian, too, but female Time Lords wore white rather than gold. Her high collar looked as if it was made of fine lace edged with silver and she didn’t wear the close fitting skull cap that the men wore, but had her hair piled high and adorned with jewels.

Behind those three most powerful judges on the planet, came the lesser judges from the northern and southern magistries. Marion recognised Lord Dvoratre in the front rank of them.

The last in the procession were the new magisters and inquisitors who were taking the Affirmation for the first time. There were four of them, all relatively young – no more than three hundred years old, anyway. Three were earnest faced young men from the Houses of Reidluum, Arunden and Goth.

The fourth, of course, was Valena D’Arpexia, who Kristoph had so carefully trained to become a junior inquisitor. She was dressed in a deep russet robe with a white cloak and headdress and Marion thought she looked absolutely beautiful and very, very proud and dignified. She glanced sideways at Lady Arpexia. She obviously thought so, too.

She risked a glance at the High Councillors. Lord Arpexia looked like he was going to explode with the effort not to interrupt the proceedings with a protest. He was angry. Very angry.

Marion hoped he didn’t find out that Kristoph had played a part in elevating Valena to her new position as an inquisitor.

The Affirmation ceremony, of course, saw the existing magisters and inquisitors taking a special vow of fealty. Kristoph stepped forward first, bringing the Mace of Justice and placing it before the great Seal of Rassilon. Then he and the Northern High Magister and the High Inquisitor stood before the assembled councillors with their right hands over their left hearts and solemnly swore the oath to Gallifrey itself and then to the laws and customs of Gallifrey, all in the name of Rassilon, of course. Then they bowed, first to the Great Seal and the Mace of Justice, then to the President, and to the High Councillors, then to the ordinary Councillors, and finally, to the members of the public in the gallery. Mostly, that meant their own wives and friends, but they nevertheless represented all the people of Gallifrey whom they served by dispensing justice where and when it was needed.

The other lesser judges came forward next and swore the same oaths and bowed to those they served.

Then the four new judges stepped into the centre of the great Seal upon the floor of the Panopticon. They all looked a little nervous, and no wonder. They were being keenly watched by everyone. Lord Arpexia stared with an expression of barely concealed anger. Her mother looked as if she was going to burst with pride. Others watched with satisfaction as she took the oath of allegiance, first to Gallifrey itself....

“I swear to protect…. the ancient law of Gallifrey… with all my might and main… and will to the end of my days… with justice and honour…tender my actions… and my thoughts.”

And then she took the particular oath of an Inquisitor of the High Court of Gallifrey. She did so proudly, with her head up high and a solemn expression on her face. When she had finished the oath, though, she allowed herself a faint smile. Marion thought that she had looked towards Kristoph when she did so, and if she had not had her fears allayed about Kristoph’s relationship to her then she might well have wondered just then.

Lord Arpexia didn’t notice who his daughter smiled at. He was still glowering at her. She didn’t notice. She didn’t look his direction once.

The Affirmations over, the entire assembly stood again and sang the Gallifreyan national anthem, all twelve verses of it and the rousing crescendo of a chorus that concluded it. Then the President stepped down from the dais, followed by the Chancellor and Premier Cardinal. He led the procession out of the Panopticon again, followed by the judges, high and low, old and new, and then by the High Council and Councillors.

Marion wanted to run down to meet them. But of coursed that wasn’t possible. She had to wait until the ushers told them they could go down to the hall where a reception was being held to celebrate the Affirmations.

She really wanted to speak to Kristoph first, of course. But he was busy talking to the High Inquisitor and the Chancellor. Instead, she found Valena, who was sipping an iced drink and proudly accepting congratulations from her friends.

“I’m so pleased for you,” Marion told her.

“Thank you,” she replied. “I do hope I can live up to everyone’s expectations, though. I won’t be sitting in judgement on my own, of course. I will be junior to the High Inquisitor in cases that require more than one judge. But I am very excited about it all.”

“You deserve it,” Marion assured her. “I’m glad for you.”

She was going to say something more, but Lord Arpexia approached them both. Valena, for all she had achieved this day, looked nervous. She expected he was going to say something cutting to her.

He didn’t. He said it to Marion instead.

“I should have known this was your doing,” he said coldly. “You and your foreign ways, giving my daughter ideas above herself.”

Marion had nothing to say in reply. Lord Arpexia got ready to say something else, but the President approached, along with the Chancellor and Premier Cardinal. All three of them formally congratulated Valena on her new position. There was nothing Lord Arpexia could say in front of them.

Valena smiled politely and thanked the most powerful men on Gallifrey for their kind words and promised to live up to the expectations of those who had supported her. By the time the conversation had finished her father had moved on. Valena sighed softly and drew Marion away from the crowds. They both stepped out of the reception hall onto the steps leading down to the foyer and stood there quietly.

“My father is right in a way,” Valena said. “It was because of you. I know about your work in the school, and I wanted to do something useful, that made a contribution to our society. And it was you… all the brave things you’ve done like fostering that little girl and so much else… that made me realise I could do this, no matter what my father thinks. So… yes, you did give me ideas above myself. But I thank you for it, Marion.”

“I’m glad,” Marion told her. “But is it going to be all right? I think your father is very angry with you.”

“Yes, he is,” she admitted. “But I don’t care. I’m doing what I want to do. He will have to come to terms with it.”

“But he won’t…” Marion was worried, still. “He won’t hurt you in any way?”

“It would be rather a foolish thing for him to do, since I AM an inquisitor now. I shall stay in our town house for a while. I need to anyway in order to work. When he does calm down, he will probably start trying to arrange marriages for me, to men who would ‘keep me in line’. But I shall resist that, too. He’ll come around eventually.”

Marion thought Valena was probably right. But she was glad she didn’t have a father like Lord Arpexia.