Prologue

Novellee smiled up at her husband Burdock as the maid took her baby from the room. The second child had been born a girl, a beautiful baby girl with her father's face and green eyes. Burdock leaned down and kissed her sweaty forehead and she sighed, relaxing back into her pillows.

It had been a hard labor, and according to the doctor, her last. But she was glad that she had two children she could lavish her love on. And Ciem would bond wonderfully with his new sister. Maybe they could even have what she had with her brother. Wouldn't that be wonderful? she thought as she drifted into sleep.

Burdock watched his wife as she slept, sighing peacefully. He had never thought he would be the father of two children, royal ones at that. But his heart had known, and loved them both dearly. He didn't know what he would do without either of them. They were his world, as was his wife. And seeing the little girl that was a mirror to him had nearly drowned him in emotion.

He smiled as he smoothed a hand over his wife's brow, thinking of the little girl. He loved his son, would enjoy teaching him how to be a knight, how to fight, and to be a gentlemen. But there would always be a special bond between him and his daughter. As would be with her mother.

When the door opened with a squeak, he raised his eyes to the maid. And his heart stopped.

"What is it?" he demanded, coming nervously to his feet. Novellee stirred but did not wake.

"The baby," the nurse sobbed out, putting a fist to her mouth to quiet herself. "The babies been kidnapped, your majesty."

"No," Burdock whispered, as he fell back in his chair, clutching his heart. "No."

The newborn baby stirred in the blanket wrapped tightly around it, keeping her warm. She raised her fists as she wailed, wanting to be comforted. The nurse that held her stuffed a pacifier in her mouth and continued hurriedly down the street to where the man had told her to meet him.

Her breath was hitching as she repeatedly looked behind her, searching the crowd for people following her. She was sure that the palace guards were behind her, chasing her, wanting to capture her so that they could kill her.

The child in her arms was proof of her loss of innocence.

"Wench, over here!" a gruff voice called from an alley. She ducked down it, the child close to her chest.

"Do you have it?" she asked in a breathy voice. The man nodded and gave her the ring, which she slipped onto a chain and around the child's neck.

"May the Gods watch over you," she whispered as she handed the child to the man. He nodded, and moved out into the crowd, and onto the waiting boat that would take them to Tortall.

She sighed as the child was taken out of her sight. She couldn't say that she was glad that she had been of help to the man. No one liked being wrapped in a prophecy that they didn't even know the contents of.

All she could say was that she hoped the move to Tortall was good for the child. She found it hard to believe that the prophecy was even really real. She had worked for the palace for many years, and she knew that the royal family was a good kind people.

But the rules held for servant that she must obey any nobles command. Even if it was against her country. It was a stupid rule, and she knew that the majesty's were working on changing it. But the rule was still in action. So, if she was caught, she was dead.

She shivered darkly at the thought and turned back to the castle. No one would ever know that it had been her. She certainly wasn't telling, and the noble was on his way to Tortall, so she was safe.

But would she be able to live with herself, for what she had done? For the hardships the royal family would suffer now that their baby girl was gone from them?