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Appropriate enough that I sat in the clerk’s office alone, considering that it was how I’d spent most of the last fifteen months. Just as well. I’ve learned a lot about myself in this time… and one of the things I’ve learned is that while I am not weak, he does hold the key to one very specific weakness, and he is not afraid to turn it. It’s not that he could actually stop me from doing what needed to be done… but he would move me to stop myself.

And that, that needs to stop.

The tired old man before me wrinkled his nose as he peered over the paperwork. “Everything seems to be in order. It’s a generous arrangement….”

“I must ensure my daughter’s future,” I said evenly.

He quirked one white eyebrow at me. “You’ve done that, and more. Are you certain you want to do this?”

I nodded.

“You’re strangely calm about this,” he remarked.

Of course I was calm. Decisions like this are not made lightly — and once made, there is a feeling of peace that comes with them. I had worked through all of the heartwrenching feelings once already — and I knew they would return and be dealt with again later. But that was none of his damned business. I simply nodded again.

He shrugged, and pushed the last piece of paper towards me. “Sign here,” he sighed.

The pen felt oddly heavy in my hands. I hadn’t done this part in a long time — much longer than fifteen months, in fact; nearly ten years — and I wanted to do it right. No smudges, no mistakes. I took a deep breath and let my hand flow across the paper.

Astoreth Duskflame