Chapter II



I had been locked away far too long. Over the centuries, I had grown weak and have nearly faded away. It was nearly time for the prophecy to unfold. Once the girl discovered she was the prince's saviour, I would be released. My magic would be stronger than it was when I cursed that calloused, narcissistic prince. I vowed to myself that I'd end the girl and the prince once and for all. I needed to return to my warren. All my spells and hexes were there; in my books…everything was far out of reach for my use. I growled in frustration, detesting this miserable prison. I had had a life before I'd been exiled to the environs of the once great kingdom. I still remember the day when I was accepted at the court of the king and queen so many ages ago…admired even. I had been a delight to have at the King's Court. Even the Prince favoured me over many of the other ladies. Now, look at you…rotting away like a cold corpse. A voice in my thoughts mocked.

"Shut up," I hissed, glaring at the stone wall athwart from where I was sitting. "You have no right to speak to me. I have been held captive long enough. It is time I was released from this hell hole."

I stood up, my legs shaking a little and I leant up against the stone wall. I stumbled and fell on all fours. I was far too frail and drained to even stand properly. If I used magic to release me from these walls, it would kill me. I would have to wait. I sighed and closed my eyes, feeling my power drain from me once again. Perhaps resting would help.

The musicians of the great hall played energetically. There were partners dancing from the foot of the throne to the great oak doors leading into the hall. Women wore dresses made of the finest silk and richest colors, making them look like peacocks as they twirled about their partners. Tall candle sticks were aligned on the east and west walls, lighting up the great hall, and three large chandeliers were also above, shining and shimmering brightly. At the entry way beside the doors, there were large white marble statues — which the king himself had asked to be specially made as an anniversary gift for his queen. The statues stood towering above the rest, in exact likeness of the king and queen. Along the east wall of the grand hall, there was a very large hearth, with oak and birch burning in it, sending out a pleasing aroma. And, in front of the throne where the king and queen sat was a stretched table, covered with a fine gold, silk burlap and an ivory white table cloth underneath. Delicacies were across the table spread; plates of roasted duck, sausages, veal, venison, gooseberry pies, apple cinnamon tarts, and as well as a suckling pig in the center.

As the evening's celebrations proceeded, the queen sat on the right of the king and the eldest prince sat on his left. They wore golden crowns on their heads. They watched the grand hall with great appreciation. It been a marvelous year for the kingdom, and now there had been reason to celebrate in the New Year. There had been no war or famine or rebellion in years, since the king had been so well beloved…as well as his queen. The king turned to his son, the crown prince. Einarr had not been as eager for this merriment. He sat beside his father, with a haughty, scornful look across his face and groaned in frustration. Einarr would have rather been out enjoying a good hunt or a good frolic with women. But rather than doing what he liked, he had been immovable from his current position whilst hosting the year's festivities with his father and mother.

The grand hall and its occupants grew completely still as the oak doors opened. There before them was a woman far more beautiful than any other in the king's court. Einarr noticed her presence and immediately was in awe of her. The woman was fair and young with dark curls cascading down her to her mid-back. Her emerald eyes glittered in the firelight that was emitting from the hall. The emerald green dress the woman wore fell past her ankles. The sleeves flared out at her elbows and on her waist was a silver chain belt. The neckline was rounded and stitched with crystals and white pearls. On her head entwined with her hair, the woman had a white pearl coronet. She truly was a sight to behold. Einarr willingly rose from his seat beside his father to go and welcome their new guest. Faintly, he could see the woman blush and smile coyly as he walked towards her.

"What is your name, my lady?" asked the prince.

"Vivienne of Norrland, Your Highness," the woman answered, curtsying down before the prince. "Might I inquire the name of Your Highness?"

"Einarr," the prince responded. "My name is Einarr. And you, Lady Vivienne of Norrland, are most welcome to our celebrations tonight."

"Many thanks, Your Highness," Vivienne exclaimed, with a stunning smile.

The prince turned and raised his arms, introducing Vivienne to the rest of the court and his father and mother. Music resumed in the grand hall and couples returned to their dancing.

"My lady, if I may have this dance?" Einarr inquired.

"I would be delighted to, Your Highness."

Einarr thought to himself as they began dancing, the way she twirled and gracefully hopped and skipped about…it was as graceful as a swan. The way Vivienne looked up at him was almost seductive, but there was a mischievous air about her. She smiled lightly at Einarr when she caught him staring. Einarr bowed to her once the dance ended and held out his hand to lead her away from the floor.

"Come and meet my mother and father. They will find you just as delightful as I do."

"Surely, I could not."

"You must!" Einarr exclaimed.

Once at the presence of the king and queen, Einarr and Vivienne both bowed.

"It is an honor to meet Your Majesties." Vivienne recited, coolly.

"What is your name, dear?" asked the queen.

"Lady Vivienne of Norrland, Your Majesty,"

"It appears as though our son has been bewitched by you, Lady Vivienne," the king spoke, his voice a low, baritone grumble. "I trust that is not your intent coming here."

"Anvindr, mind your manners, my love. I will not have you treat our guest with such malcontent. Lady Vivienne, I apologize on behalf of my husband. You are most welcome."

"Thank you, Your Majesties," Vivienne bowed, lowering her gaze.

Einarr led Vivienne out of the grand hall and towards the beautiful gardens. As Vivienne looked up to darkened sky, smiling as she saw billions of stars. It was just as magnificent as it was at home in Norrland, she thought.

"So, Lady Vivienne, if you do not mind me asking, what brings you here to Vastergotland?"

"A change of pace," Vivienne answered, with a sigh. "My mother thought it would be good for me while my father was busying himself with finding husbands for me. What of you? You are the prince; surely Your Highness must have many admirers."

"Yes, but there is no one in my court who I have desired until now," said Einarr, flashing a grin at Vivienne.

"And who might that be, if I may ask?"

"You, Lady Vivienne of Norrland,"

A sharp gasp filled the air of the cave as my eyes fluttered open. I had been dreaming again. I had not had dreams of that accursed prince in half a century or so, I thought. Anger filled through me as I thought of my days at the king's court. This was not over. This would never be over for me. The prince's saviour would fail and the prince would die a wolf.

"High Priestess, tell me of this saviour." I hissed in the darkness of the cave.

A hooded, cloaked figure appeared before me. The figure had its hands folded in front.

"This girl will be the saviour and she will be your undoing, Vivienne. You have no chance against her," there was another voice in the cave. It sounded like a serpent when the voice reached my ears.

"The girl must not succeed."

"She will receive help from the Lady of the West."

"My sister is banished from these lands." I snarled.

"And yet the prophecy says the Lady of the West will come to aid the saviour of the prince."

"Get out of my sight."

"Guard your tongue, Vivienne. I would choose your words wisely if I were you."

With a rush of wind, the High Priestess was gone, leaving me to my solitary thoughts and captivity.