Okay, second chapter…I've changed from 1st person to 3rd coz I was hoping to bring Prince Easbalair's POV into the story.  If you prefer 1st person, tell me and I'll change it back.  Thanks for the reviews!  To Soronume de Laiquendi, I got the name Liadan from that Sevenwaters book coz its such a nice name!  And I agree, it's a great book, I haven't read the last one yet, is it any good? Also, sorry about not explaining the Gaelic, that's a little bit stupid, I've put a list of the words I use in this chap below…I know its annoying having to scroll up all the time but I hate putting it in the story itself coz it gets in the way.  And remember, its not actually supposed to be Gaelic, it's supposed to be Canain.  But you get the idea!

Cagaran: Darling

Ragair: Villain

Ionmhuinn: Dear

Tindioc: Healing

Doibhear: Uncivil

Euchdag: Fair maid

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Liadan was taken upstairs by a young Himlanir maid who could barely keep the insolence out of her manner.  She followed her to one of the large state bedrooms in the West Wing, where some clothes were unceremoniously dumped at her feet before the maid stalked out.  Liadan sighed.

~It would seem that being a prisoner means I cannot expect common courtesy and obedience even from commoners.  How will the Royal Court of Himlanir treat me?~

She glanced about the room.  The Royal Palace of Duthaich was a huge, sprawling estate and Liadan had only been brought back to live there two years ago, when she had finally reached her majority at eighteen years of age.  Duthaich tradition stipulated that Royal Children should be sent away at three years of age to be brought up in the mountain region of Larusa.  She had thoroughly enjoyed the freedom that had been afforded to her there, and had been fiercely against returning to the Palace and having her life dictated to her as if she were no more than a puppet on a string.  Both her brothers had been so very anxious to assert their Royal rights and she had said goodbye to Larim, and then Kalian before faithfully, albeit reluctantly, following them a year later.  Returning home had been a shock.  Instead of lessons and exciting trips, she was expected to do nothing more than look pretty and entertain guests.  She had not been very good at it.  Her dear nurses at Larusa had been well trained but had no experience with the Court to pass on to their young ward.  Liadan had found herself thrown into a world that was foreign and strange.  From the start, she had committed social gaffes at every turn, much to the dismay of her parents.  She would forget to rise when her father, the King of Duthaich, entered a room; she would refer to Lords as Counts and Counts as Lords; she would forget dance steps causing widespread confusion at State Balls; and worst of all, she would forget to act in the reserved and regal manner as befitting a Princess of the Royal House of Duthaich.  In fact, she had been passionately airing her views on the social culture of the local goat-herders when one of the Court Lords had taken offence to her 'wild and unladylike behaviour' and informed her parents.  The Queen had refused to allow her to accompany them on their state visit to the valley province of Barmar as punishment.

~Had I been allowed to go, I would not I would not have been her with Else last night.  Else would still be alive and I would not be a prisoner in my own home.~

She remembered the last conversation she had had with her beloved eldest brother, Larim.

'Liadan, cagaran, please use this time we are away to think about who you are and what you have been born into.  Rank and privilege come with a price; none of us are free to live our lives as we choose.'

'And what does one do if the price is too high, Larim?'

He had smiled at her sadly and laid his hand softly on her cheek, 'It is never too high.  Hard to pay, yes.  Not a fair arrangement, perhaps.  But never too high.'  With that, he kissed her once on the forehead and left standing by the Palace Doors, the memory of his words in her mind and the feeling of his hand on her cheek.

~Will I ever walk again in the presence of my esteemed brothers?  Will I ever see Larim's wise smile or hear Kalian's warm laughter again?~

She knew the Himlanirs had pronounced them dead but she felt now that that had been a trick to test her.  And how she had fallen for it.  They were lying, wicked ragair anyway, she would not believe anything they asserted without proof.

Deciding that, Liadan shook herself out of her daze and walked around the large room.  She had never been to the West Wing before as it was the guest's quarters.  The room had been decorated in red velvet with the Duthaich coat of arms branded in every conceivable place.  She grimaced.  As much as she esteemed and respected her father and mother, the King and Queen, they were not ones for subtlety.  The bed was a huge oak monstrosity, the four thick posters intricately carved with lace curtains tried to each side with red velvet corded rope.  On her left, overlooking the larger of the two huge bay windows, an oak writing desk and a large chair stood.  On one side of that, there were two red armchairs facing each other with a low oak table between them.  The huge stone fireplace curved up the centre of the south-facing wall, the crackling fire the only cheerful aspect of the austere, lifeless room.  A huge copper tub had been placed in front of the fire and Liadan walked over to it, testing the water's temperature.  It was perfect and made her ache to soak her tired, weary limbs so she quickly peeled off her dirty attire and lowered herself gingerly into the massive tub.  She soaked herself, trying to ease her tense muscles, before scouring her whole body until her skin was red and raw.  She got out, wiped herself down and had just wrapped a towelling sheet around herself when the door burst open and a middle-aged woman bustled in, her plump arms laden with strange looking vials and bottles.

Liadan could say nothing.  She simply stared at the woman in shock as she walked over to the huge bed and dumped her burdens on a small oak night table. 

'Come on then, ionmhuinn, I haven't got all day.'  She waved an impatient hand at Liadan.

'What do you mean by coming into my room unannounced and uninvited?'  This was all she could manage.

The woman raised her eyebrows, 'You, ionmhuinn, are a state prisoner, graciously being allowed the use of this room by his esteemed Royal Highness, Prince Easbalair.  You should shut you mouth before the good Prince hears you and puts you in the dungeons with the rest of the prisoners.  Now, come over here.'

~The grimy, putrid rottenness of the dungeons that I can feel even know  as if I am still there, shivering against the dank, filthy walls.~

She obeyed.                                         

'May I at least know who you are?'  Liadan asked, lying on the bed as instructed.

'I am Tello.  I have the gift of tindioc and I am one of the Royal Healers.  Prince Easbalair sent me here to tend to your wound.'

Liadan stared worriedly down at her leg, where Tello was already poking and prodding.

'I do not mean to cause offence, Tello, but here in Duthaich we hear stories of Himlanir.  We have been told that witchcraft and wizardry are rife in your country and that the Royal Court actively encourages such activities.'

Tello laughed, deep and warm, reminding Liadan of her brother Kalian, 'No, ionmhuinn.  That is to say, we do not practice the Arts of the Dark Magic.  We possess powers that your kind does not and those that do not understand it, spread lies and false reports in their fear.  We simply have access to a higher plane of knowledge that your people.'

~I do not believe you for a heartbeat.~

'Ionmhuinn, I can only help you if you put your faith in me.  If you do not, I will simply cause you pain.'

~That is so very reassuring.~

As if to prove her point, Tello placed her hand on the wound and a searing pain tore up Liadan's leg.  She screamed loudly. 

The door opened and Prince Easbalair stood there, frowning hard.

'I am so sorry, Tello.  I knew you would have problems with her.  Though I would not mind seeing her endure a little suffering, it would make your job longer and take you away from tending those who actually deserve your services.'  He finished with a pointed glance at Liadan.

Tello curtsied low to her Prince, 'I thank you, your Highness.  Your help here would indeed speed my work and I would greatly appreciate it.'

Liadan, already slightly hysterical, cried, 'I do not see how he is going to help me!  The pain will be there with or without his presence but I would much rather endure it without!'

'Shut your mouth, you are doibhear!  You cannot speak so to a Prince!'  Tello looked shocked, 'He has powers like those we talked of earlier and he can help to ease your pain.'

~Another one?  Oh Great Sons of Duthaich, am I to be so abandoned and at the mercy of these mad people?~

The panic was rising higher and higher until she could almost feel it like a solid lump in her throat.  The Prince quickly walked over to her and placed a hand on her forehead.  The panic disappeared at once and the tension eased out of her body.  Liadan blinked.  Bending close to her, he whispered in her ear, 'All is well, euchdag, sleep and forget your woe.'

Liadan closed her eyes as the darkness slowly began to creep over her.

~What is this magic that bends my will to its own?~

Before she could think further, she slept.

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