Chapter 2

March 19, 485 H.E.

Palace, Rajmuat, Kypriang, Copper Isles

Dear Diary,

Today began magnificently. Ian, Lyssa, and I snuck out and explored the city. Ian was my 'guard' as I hunted through the booksellers' shops for a new book, one that we might not have in the palace library. Most of the time, Lyssa was off on her own, flirting with one lad or another. We stayed in the city until the second bell after noon rang, and I remembered that I had lessons with Lady Edunaret. Lyssa was fairly agitated that we had to cut our afternoon short, but Ian whispered something in her ear that caused the complaints to halt.

I was late to my lessons, and Lady Edunaret was not amused. As always, she was irritable and abrasive. And, as always, I was happy to see her leave. I planned on taking a short nap before dinner, but then Lyssa appeared. She told that my parents had requested to see me an hour ago. Suffice to say, I was very annoyed at her delay.

As it turns out, against our wills, Eli and I are both betrothed. You will never believe who we are betrothed to. Eli is to marry Lianokami of Conté, the Crown Princess of Tortall. In five months' time, he will leave Rajmuat for Port Caynn, from where he will ride to Corus, the Tortallan capital. I am to marry Mattuan Iliniat, the second son of the Carthaki Emperor and Empress. He is expected to arrive within a month. Mama has hopes that he and I will marry in two or three years' time.

I know that I am supposed to accept my fate. I am a princess, the Crown Princess no less, and it is my duty to marry. And with Mama being the first queen after the Raka Rebellion, new alliances must be made to ensure the country's safety. But none of that means that I must be happy about this betrothal. I have nothing rude to say about Mattuan, but that is because I have never met him! It also does not help that he is four years older than me. He is twenty next month, whereas I will not be sixteen for four months and two days.

Eli's betrothed is only two years older than he. She turns sixteen tomorrow, and he turns fourteen in two months and eleven days. According to Aunt Aly, who met Lianokami when she took Ian to Tortall two years ago, she is a very polite girl with a fine sense of humor when not in court situations. I overheard Ian tell Eli, in private, that Lianokami is very beautiful, and he will be the most envied male in the Eastern Lands.

No one that I know has ever met Mattuan, and so I know nothing of his appearance, nor of his personality or humor or temperament. How am I to marry someone that I know nothing of, and might not even get along with once I know him? I suppose that this is something that all princesses must deal with, but Mama was allowed to choose her own husband – being that she was already queen – and Mattuan's mother Kalasin was allowed to help decide who she would marry.

Lyssa tells me that it won't be as so bad as I imagine. She says that at least I will not have to experience those awkward years of courting. But I would much rather experience those years and end up marrying a man that I love, than having my fate decided for me. If I was so inclined, I could do as Mama's sister Saraiyu did many years ago; I could run away from my fate. But then there would be no one left to inherit the throne, with Eli leaving to live in Tortall. I could not do that to Mama and my people. It would not be fair.

A/N: Well, this chapter is shorter than the last one. I was hoping to add more to it, but the part I wrote isn't wanting to go together with this one, so I shall make it the start of next chapter (which will hopefully be published late May or early June). Please review, as I received none for the last chapter, and that very much crushed my spirit.