Title: The Beginning of the End, part 1 of 2
Characters/Pairing: Richard/Kahlan, Darken/Kahlan, Dennee, Denna, Cara, Rachel, Nicholas Rahl, Jennsen
Rating: R - for violence
Warnings: character death, infanticide, dub-con, Orden
Spoilers: particularly for Puppeteer, Sacrifice, and Home
Summary: Written for a peoplespalace discussion: What if Darken killed Zedd at the end of Puppeteer? Richard and Kahlan are on their own, but it's not over yet. Or is it?
(Note: brontefanatic wrote an spine-chillingly excellent fic, Reversal of Fortune, for this prompt which I recommend :D)
The Beginning of the End
Rachel regarded her doll, Sarah, solemnly.
Sarah remained silent.
“Ruben didn’t get out,” she announced, sure she was right. Tears filled her eyes, because Ruben had told her Darken Rahl was even meaner than Princess Violet, and he was still trapped in the Palace of Tamarang—with both of them.
“We can’t be sure of that,” said Richard. He was tall and handsome, just like a hero ought to be. Rachel liked his eyes best, though—they were warm and kind.
“Richard—“ said Kahlan, but then she bit her lip. “We’ll wait a bit longer.” Kahlan was also tall, and she had long dark hair and wore a white dress. She looked the way a real queen ought to look, not an awful one like Queen Milena.
Rachel knew it was pointless to wait for Ruben, but she didn’t say any more. She and Kahlan waited with Richard until they had to leave because the soldiers were coming.
They waited further away this time. Until Kahlan looked up from the book she’d been flipping through and exclaimed, “There’s a message! From Rahl!”
Richard hurried to her, and they bent over the book together. There was a silence.
“No!” Richard’s cry was searing; Rachel didn’t have to ask if it was bad news.
“’I will find you,’” Kahlan read. She pinched the bridge of her nose, and shut her eyes. “What are we going to do?”
Richard shook his head helplessly.
“Is it Ruben?” Rachel asked.
Reminded of her presence, Kahlan shut the book with a snap and Richard sank to his knees in front of her. “Yes,” he said simply.
Rachel gulped, clutching Sarah closer. But if she’d learned anything from Ruben, it was that you couldn’t give up. No matter what.
“Stay strong,” Rachel told Richard seriously. Ruben had believed in him—so did she.
“How—now what?” Richard asked.
Rachel could tell he wasn’t really talking to her, but she answered anyway. “You go on. You just go on.”
Richard sighed, burying his head in his hands.
But Kahlan looked up, eyes narrowed thoughtfully.
Rachel hoped they would be all right.
After they left Rachel with Martha, Richard and Kahlan no longer had any distraction from their grief.
“He got Rachel and Martha out,” Kahlan said. “He got us the third Box of Orden.”
The Box was in Richard’s pack. He had no idea what they were going to do with it.
The words kept repeating in his head, outlined in blood…The Wizard is dead. Richard didn’t bother to wonder why Rahl had given them this information, instead of letting them remain in agonizing ignorance.
“Kahlan,” he said, almost choking on the scream he’d been holding back since they’d read the terrible news in the journeybook. “Zedd is dead!”
Kahlan met his eyes, the sorrow in her face matching his. Richard hugged her, burying his face in her shoulder and inhaling the clean, sweet scent of her hair.
Zedd was gone. Without Kahlan, Richard would be wholly alone.
Richard cried for his friend. He couldn’t think about the Box of Orden; even his desire for revenge was secondary to his sorrow.
Kahlan stroked his hair, and murmured, “It’s going to be all right, it’s going to be all right,” over and over.
Richard wished he believed her.
They still had the Box of Orden when they ran into Mother Confessor Serena and the last of Kahlan’s sister-Confessors.
Kahlan could hardly believe they were just giving up—running to hide in Valeria instead of defending the Midlands.
But every other concern fled her mind when she found out Dennee was alive—“We have to rescue her!”
How were they going to get into the D’Haran garrison where Dennee was being held?
And what about the Box of Orden? Kahlan remembered the last four words of Rahl’s message—it was as though they were burned across her mind’s eye. I will find you. Every time she thought of them, a little shiver of horror went up her spine. He had beautiful handwriting, which only made it worse.
He had killed Zedd! Not that Kahlan had needed further proof of Darken Rahl’s perfidy. But now they were in desperate straits. Without a First Wizard—
But the quest came first.
Rahl could not be allowed to get his hands on the third Box of Orden.
Who knew what a monster like him would do with such awesome power?
Richard and Kahlan came up with a plan—the prospect of rescuing someone, anyone, the first thing that had made Richard smile since they heard the news about Zedd—but it relied on Kahlan’s thespian skills and a set of chains they borrowed from Alana, one of Kahlan’s fellow Confessors.
Alana looked a little embarrassed when she handed them over, and Kahlan remembered she’d taken a mate, back when they hadn’t all been on the run from the D’Harans…
“Never tell me,” Kahlan said firmly, and set about finding a way to chain the Seeker so it only looked like he was restrained.
If times had been happier, Richard might have teased Kahlan about the chains—not that he minded being her prisoner—but he could barely summon enough energy to care.
Kahlan had borrowed a dusty dress and shawl from a few of her sister-Confessors, and made sure to tug her bodice down so as to give the D’Haran soldiers an eyeful.
Richard knew if he were in their position, he would forget about wondering how ‘Rachel’ had captured the Seeker. This had worked for Lily, the girl who’d wanted her brother’s freedom instead of the bounty Richard was sure was still on his head…at least, up to a point.
It worked for Richard and Kahlan, too—up to a point.
“I’ll take the prisoner from here,” the leader of the guards around the garrison said.
“I need to see the Commander,” Kahlan insisted. “I deserve my reward, for capturing the Seeker!”
“Oh,” one man leered, apparently unable to tear his gaze from Kahlan’s chest. “We’ll reward you, all right.”
Richard had to fight to stay in character. The Seeker of Truth would hardly leap to the defense of the woman who’d taken him hostage…or rather, he would, but the D’Harans wouldn’t expect him to.
“Don’t worry, you’ll get your bounty,” the leader said shortly, casting the leering man a quelling frown. “I’ll take you both to the Commander.”
Kahlan yanked on Richard’s chains, and he followed. Unfortunately, they weren’t alone—several more D’Haran soldiers were behind them, and when they reached the Commander, the men didn’t leave.
Out of the depths of his personal despair, Richard began to feel uneasy.
How could Kahlan Confess the Commander in front of all these people? They were never going to get away with this.
Kahlan seemed to be having the same thought. She stepped closer, pulling Richard after her, so that the soldiers’ view of their Commander was at least partially obscured.
She leaned closer, smiling, trailing one finger up the line of the Commander’s collar to his neck. He watched, clearly and rightly fascinated.
And then—thunder without sound. Kahlan let go of Richard just in time; he could feel the nimbus of her power, almost scorching him.
The Commander’s eyes flashed black. “Command me, Confessor,” he started to say, but Kahlan put a warning finger to her lips.
“What was—Confessor!” one guard cried in horror, and Richard swung around, using his chains as a weapon—
Kahlan had his Sword, luckily—he could hear it whistle through the air behind him as she fought, too—
Of course, in the original plan they hadn’t meant to fight the entire garrison; at least they’d left the third Box of Orden with the Mother Confessor.
Richard lost track of everything but the battle, and Kahlan at his back, until they were forced to their knees in the cramped confines of the Commander’s quarters, the Sword of Truth still clutched in Kahlan’s hands.
The Commander, Richard saw with dismay, had a sword protruding from his chest. The man behind him proved to be his second in command.
About the only good thing about the situation was that, after the remaining soldiers had shackled Richard and Kahlan, it proved they had no Rada’Han. So if Kahlan could get free, there was still hope. The D’Harans were almost exaggeratedly wary of her, making her go first down the long corridors to the place where prisoners were kept.
Kahlan was still shaky from Confessing the Commander, but with every step she gained more strength. Yet she didn’t try to escape; the D’Harans didn’t know it, but they were taking her just where she wanted to go.
Her last hope was proved to be well founded when she and Richard were thrust unceremoniously into the cell, and she saw Dennee—dear, sweet Dennee, alive after all.
“Dear sister, thank the Creator you’re safe!” Kahlan exclaimed, rushing forward to embrace Dennee.
Dennee frowned at her. “Safe? I’m in a D’Haran prison. Kahlan, I’m so glad to see you, but—“
By this point, Kahlan had realized her sister was heavily pregnant. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked, thinking of their mission to find the Seeker. Fast internal arithmetic told her Dennee must have already known then. It hadn’t been safe for her to come with Kahlan on their mission—
“Darken Rahl wants my baby,” Dennee explained. “A Confessor, trained from birth to obey him—“
Kahlan gasped, a hand over her mouth. “We can’t let that happen! We have to get out of here!”
“How?” Richard asked, with only faint interest.
Kahlan saw he was lying back on the floor (which was not very clean), and looking…defeated. She couldn’t let him give up—they had lost Zedd, yes, but she had lost Dennee and kept going, hadn’t she?
Or thought she’d lost Dennee—Kahlan couldn’t help the thrill of joy she felt that her sister was alive.
Still—the Seeker of Truth was not a prisoner the D’Harans would let contemplate his fate in a cell for very long. The longer they stayed here, the more danger they were in.
Kahlan bit her lip, refusing to think what would happen if they couldn't escape. If Darken Rahl found them. It didn’t bear imagining.
Darken sent Denna to collect the Seeker and Confessor from Arashmyn, in response to her desperate pleas to prove herself. She had been on her mettle ever since she failed to train the Seeker.
On the whole, it didn’t surprise Darken that they had been caught so easily, and so soon after the Wizard’s death. The Seeker was surely an amateur, only his powerful allies keeping him one step ahead of Darken’s Mord’Sith.
He’d debated letting them remain ignorant of the Wizard’s death, possibly even luring them into a trap if they tried to rescue him, but this way they would suffer all the agony of knowing they had been unable to save him.
Darken had been conferring with Giller, at Edron, over the possibilities of the Spell of the Lying Moon—the stars were not often in proper alignment, and it would be a pity to waste them.
He would not count himself secure until all three Boxes of Orden were in his grasp.
“Aaaah!” Dennee screamed. Kahlan, frantic, offered her a makeshift twist of cloth to bite on.
It was madness, Richard thought, to try to conceal the fact that Dennee was in labor from their captors—but both Confessors had been adamant that the less the D’Harans knew about the baby, the better.
Dennee was afraid they’d take her child away from her as soon as the birth was completed, and Richard knew better than to argue with a woman in her condition.
“The baby’s coming, Dennee, you’re doing great,” Richard said, trying to calm her down. “Just keep pushing—“
At last, the baby was born. There was something powerful about the process of helping Dennee give birth, Richard found; it restored some of his faith in the Creator—badly shaken by Zedd’s death.
He cleaned off the blood as best he could, and Kahlan, after some awkward rummaging, unearthed a tiny dagger no bigger than a spoon from her boot, with which Richard cut the protective cord.
He knotted it, and handed the child, now crying feebly, to Dennee. He smiled in equal parts exhaustion and triumph. “It’s a boy.”
“Wh-what?” Dennee gasped, receiving her son but sharing with Kahlan a look of horror.
“What’s the matter?” Richard asked, ignoring the supreme ridiculousness of the question. They were in a D’Haran prison—obviously, something was the matter. But Kahlan and Dennee looked like they had more on their minds than that.
“Male Confessors…are evil, Richard,” Kahlan explained. “Always. That’s why—they’re killed at birth.”
“How can I do the Ritual of the Waters here?” Dennee asked. She was crying now. “Finn isn’t here, and there’s not even any water!”
The baby was still crying, too, and Richard couldn’t blame him. He was stunned.
“You can’t be serious,” he protested. “He’s just a baby—he’s not going to hurt anyone!”
“Not yet,” Kahlan said grimly, and Dennee, despite looking like her heart was breaking, nodded.
Richard couldn’t believe it. He thought he knew Kahlan, and now this—! This was murder. How could she ever go along with it?
The three of them argued over the fate of Dennee’s son until they were hoarse, but Richard refused to accept the truth. Kahlan secretly thought he made some telling points—her nephew was so beautiful, and surely harmless—but she refused to let herself be swayed by such emotional appeals. Without the support of either the Mother Confessor or her mate, Dennee was depending on Richard and Kahlan. They had to help her with this—they didn’t have any choice.
Just as Kahlan was starting, in spite of everything, to fall asleep, they heard the clatter of boots in the hallway.
“Quick! You’ll have to hide in the corner or something, with the baby—“ Richard whispered, trying to shield Dennee from the door.
Kahlan sat up, wondering if this were interrogation or food. Or—Creator forbid it!—was Darken Rahl here already?
Dennee drew in a ragged breath. “No,” she said quietly. “I can’t. I can’t let Darken Rahl near my son.”
And she drew Kahlan’s tiny dagger, the one she’d found buried in her boot from what must have been months ago, quickly and deliberately across the baby’s neck.
Kahlan shut her eyes, too late. She wondered if she would have the resolution to do what Dennee had, and hoped she never had to.
Richard cried, “NO!” and then the door opened.
“Well, well,” drawled a sickly sweet voice. “If it isn’t my dear Richard.”
“Denna,” Richard hissed, in acknowledgement.
It was too bad about the baby Confessor—Denna could tell at a glance that the Breath of Life wasn’t going to work, but she gave it a try anyway. Lord Rahl would be displeased, but not when she brought the Seeker and his Confessor in chains before him.
Denna got into an argument with Lieutenant Commander Torvin about the Confessors. She was only supposed to bring the Seeker’s Confessor, and she thought it made sense to take the Rada’Han off the other one, who looked hardly in any condition to be much of a threat, and confine the Seeker’s Confessor with it.
Lieutenant Commander Torvin protested that he’d been forced to kill his own commanding officer that morning because of a Confessor, and he wasn’t having one, even chained and imprisoned, where she could get a hand on any of his men.
In the end, Denna, watching the Seeker’s Confessor, capitulated. She could have insisted, of course, but there was something about those hard blue eyes that made her Mord’Sith hackles rise. She wanted to make the Confessor beg.
She had not been able to break Richard—a source of never-ending shame—but she knew she could do a better job with the Confessor. Besides, it was more…interesting, this way.
Maybe Lord Rahl would let her keep the Seeker and Confessor as pets, after he obtained the power of Orden.
But probably not. Unfortunately.
“You don’t have to do this, you know,” Richard told Denna quietly. He was still shaken by what Dennee had done, but he knew he could get through to Denna, given time. He understood her. He hated her, but he understood her.
Just like him, she wanted to be free of destiny.
“Of course I do,” Denna told him, rolling her eyes.
Richard was bound tightly and expertly, tied to his horse. Denna held his reins, the Sword of Truth at her hip. They were close enough to speak, if not comfortably, at least without too much difficulty.
“Besides, I’m having fun,” Denna went on. “I’m going to bring you and the Confessor to Lord Rahl, and you’re going to tell him where the third Box of Orden is, and I’m going to get my job as First Mistress back from Cara, that thieving, opportunistic, freakishly short whore.”
Richard raised his eyebrows.
“Don’t you think you’re aiming a little low? Just First Mistress? Why not Mistress of Orden?”
This was a terrible idea. Kahlan would be appalled. But why not spread a little dissention among Darken Rahl’s most loyal followers?
It was Denna’s turn to look thoughtful, but before she could speak, there were sudden shouts from the trees around them, and their D’Haran captors were surrounded by Confessors!
Richard worked desperately at his bonds as Denna tried to ride down Finn, Dennee’s mate (Richard, seeing him, was reminded of the terrible fate of his son), and then one of the Confessors sent a dagger spinning through the air and Richard caught it, awkwardly in his bound hands.
He cut himself free of his bonds, wrenching his reins from Denna, who tumbled to the ground.
The other Confessors were doing a reasonable job of dispatching the D’Haran soldiers, but Richard had eyes only for Kahlan.
She had already freed herself, had obtained a sword from a soldier slumped to the ground, and was wielding it with her customary flair.
Richard fought to make his way toward her. He knew if he could just reach Kahlan, everything would be all right.
Kahlan missed her daggers, but they were back at Arashmyn, taken by the D’Harans when they searched her. The only thing they hadn’t found was the tiny dagger in her boot, and now she didn’t have that, either. She hoped Dennee could use it to escape, somehow.
Still, she fought her way to where Richard and Denna were standing back to back—something about that wasn’t right, but at least Richard had managed to wrest the Sword of Truth back from the Mord’Sith—
Kahlan got between Denna and Alana, hooked her leg behind Denna’s and pulled them down in a tangle of limbs and agiels, grimly ignoring the pain.
At last, at long last, she got a hand around Denna’s throat.
“You don’t have the guts,” Denna snarled, but Kahlan was already letting go of her power.
There was the same sense of bliss that always accompanied relaxing her control, and this time, Kahlan reveled in it.
“Command me, Confessor,” had never sounded sweeter.
“Kahlan!” Richard cried, not as though he were overjoyed that they had both miraculously escaped unharmed from the D’Harans. He sounded critical, and Kahlan got to her feet, frowning.
She saw that her sister-Confessors had vanquished the foe. There were a few Confessed D’Harans standing around patiently waiting for orders, but that was all.
The victory was soured by Kahlan’s knowledge that they couldn’t possibly go back for Dennee. Not now. Not after how close they’d come to losing everything.
“Mother Confessor,” she said, knowing she had to make her report. “Dennee is alive, but…”
She explained what had happened during their captivity. She was fully conscious of Richard glowering behind her, but she didn’t have time to coddle him right now. Didn’t he know their duty came first?
They parted from the other Confessors, who were still determined to seek refuge in Valeria, after retrieving the third Box of Orden from Kahlan’s friend, Alana.
Richard wanted to go back for Dennee, but Kahlan refused, shortly and finally.
“We can’t just leave her there!” he protested.
“Richard. She’s my sister. This is really hard for me. But we have to hide the Box of Orden so Rahl won’t find it. That has to come first, so just…drop it, okay?” Kahlan said tiredly.
Richard was silent for awhile, as they trudged uphill, looking for a good hiding spot. It had to be somewhere they could find again, in case they needed to retrieve the Box in a hurry.
“Kahlan,” he asked after several silent minutes, “why did you let Dennee do that? Kill your nephew? You can’t possibly know he was going to grow up to be evil.”
Richard was also upset that Kahlan had Confessed Denna, but knew better than to bring it up. Kahlan had never shared his conviction that Denna was redeemable.
“Yes, I can, and it was Dennee’s decision,” Kahlan said. “Even if you’re right, Richard, the D’Harans were going to take him away from Dennee. If Darken Rahl could train a male Confessor from childhood to love and obey him, he could conquer all three territories easily. Dennee chose to save her son from being a slave to a tyrant.”
“By murdering him,” Richard pointed out. “We could have gone back for him—for both of them.”
At this, Kahlan turned to him, the white dress she’d reclaimed from her sister-Confessors sweeping the grass elegantly as she stopped in her tracks. “How?” she demanded. “We’re barely keeping one step ahead of Rahl as it is. It’s a miracle we escaped at all. Try not to be such a child, Richard.”
Richard, chastened, didn’t say anything for a moment. “This would never have happened if Zedd were still here,” he muttered at last. “I miss him.”
Kahlan sighed. “I know. Me, too.”
They hid the Box of Orden, and kept going. Richard wasn’t even sure where they were headed, anymore. Kahlan seemed more focused than ever, but he was having a hard time retaining the urgency and confidence that had previously kept him eager to fulfill his destiny.
Sometimes, he just wished he were back home in Hartland.
How could Denna have been so stupid? Darken never should have sent her to bring him the Seeker and Confessor. She had failed before, after all.
He was furious, but forced himself to focus on the task at hand: using the Spell of the Lying Moon to compel the Seeker to reveal the location of the third Box of Orden. Ultimate power was within his grasp, if only he did this right.
He approached the Seeker—Richard—through a variety of old friends and family, before he found the perfect person. An old flame, the girl he might have married if he hadn’t met the Confessor; Darken could feel Richard’s love for Kahlan, pervading his thoughts.
Understandable—his scrying had told him she was extraordinarily beautiful, and she’d killed Denna, which made her formidable—but futile, and dangerously foolish. Didn’t the boy know she was a Confessor?
But Anna flitted easily through the Seeker’s defenses. Darken obtained the information he sought sooner than he would have believed possible. The third Box of Orden was hidden under an Algar tree, near Trollsbridge. Algars were rare; Trollsbridge was, if not too near Edron, not too far, either.
Darken debated leaving the Seeker to sink further and further into a sleep from which he would never wake, under the Spell of the Lying Moon…but he wanted the brother sent to kill him to kneel before him, once he obtained Orden.
He let Richard drift slowly back toward consciousness, already making plans for victory.
“Richard! Richard, you have to wake up! I need you!” Kahlan begged. But Richard just kept staring at the sky, saying their most precious secret aloud.
Kahlan didn’t know why this was happening. What was she doing wrong, that she couldn’t wake Richard from his trance? Was the Creator conspiring against her, or was she that paranoid?
“Richard!” she screamed. “Please!” She threw herself across his unresponsive body, weeping tears of rage and grief.
She was doing everything wrong.
“Kahlan?” Richard said groggily.
“Richard! Thank the Creator! Come on!” Kahlan got up, dragging Richard to his feet with her. “You’re all right! Are you all right?”
“What…I saw…Zedd was alive. I was in Hartland. Everything was the way it should be.”
Kahlan put her hands on her hips, aware that they didn’t have time to quarrel about this but unable to help herself. “Everything was the way it should be?” she demanded. “In a world where I didn’t exist?”
Or at least, she admitted, a world where she had never crossed the Boundary, never begged for the Seeker’s help…should she have tried to defeat Rahl without recourse to the prophecy? Was that even possible?
Richard shook his head, evidently confused. “Of course not,” he said. “I want you to exist, Kahlan. I more than want that. I—I love you.”
Kahlan looked at him. She was in little doubt of her own feelings—she’d been in love with him for so long she’d already learned to repress the emotion—but nothing would be served, she judged, in admitting this.
So she grabbed his arm and started to run, pulling him with her. “We have to get to Trollsbridge,” she explained as they ran. “You told Rahl where the Box of Orden is!”
And how were they possibly going to get there in time? If Rahl got the Box, they were lost. Even the Seeker could not defeat a tyrant armed with Orden.
Kahlan was terrified. But she wasn’t going to give up without a fight.
Darken arrived in the clearing mere minutes before the Seeker and Confessor. But Cara had dug the Box of Orden out of the dirt with her own hands before they arrived, panting.
The Seeker, Darken saw, was still a little muddled around the eyes. The Confessor was nearly hyperventilating, eyes huge in her pale face.
“Wait!” the Seeker cried desperately. “I challenge you to single combat!” And he drew the Sword of Truth.
Darken actually rolled his eyes at the theatrical language, but—why not? He had the Boxes of Orden. In mere minutes, he would put them together.
Richard wouldn’t be interested in single combat then.
The risk of bringing the other two Boxes with him had been outweighed by the chance to get it all over with, tonight. The last thing Darken needed was to send soldiers for the Box, only to have the Seeker and Confessor manage to ambush them and steal it back.
The Confessor was moving now, a blur of white and the silver gleam of her sword, her hair streaming out around her.
The Seeker was before him—Darken bit back a curse, knowing he shouldn’t have paused to roll his eyes at his enemies, and raised his sword—
But he needn’t have worried. The Seeker was no match for him. Darken pushed him back and back, until Richard was pressed to the very Algar tree under which he’d buried the Box of Orden, Sword twisted out of his grip to land on the dark grass.
There was a pause, as Cara and the Confessor and the other Mord’Sith and soldiers stopped fighting, their eyes drawn to Darken and the Seeker.
“Yield,” Darken ordered. “You are at my mercy.”
The Seeker set his jaw. “Never! I’d rather die.”
Darken shrugged, a golden opportunity to test one of his theories about Orden occurring to him. “Your choice.”
And he ran Richard through, careful not to kill him quite outright.
The Seeker slumped slowly toward the ground. The Confessor screamed.
And Darken strode over to the pack containing the Boxes of Orden, and set them on the ground. One, two, three.
As easy as that. Or it should have been.
The scream tore from Kahlan’s throat as she saw Richard, bleeding and dying—
This couldn’t be happening—
She broke away from the Mord’Sith, running for the man she loved, heedless of anything else—
But then she saw Darken Rahl putting together the Boxes of Orden, and changed her trajectory. She couldn’t let this happen. She just couldn’t!
Kahlan refused to be a slave.
She skidded to a halt in front of him just as his eyes began to light with inner power, fell to her knees, and put her hand around his throat.
It was completely unlike when Kahlan usually let loose with her power—usually, it was like a waterfall, pouring out of her and overwhelming her victim, but this—
It was as though Orden were pulling the power out of her, taking her to new heights to match all that dizzying, warm, perfect stream of possibility—
Kahlan gasped, unable to comprehend what was happening—
She could feel Rahl, his mind dark and twisty and now laced with a warm reddish orange glow that represented Orden—
Kahlan thought she ought to have been horrified, but the whole experience was much too fascinating to condemn. She saw Rahl, with something entirely other than sight.
But Kahlan wasn’t truly afraid until it occurred to her to wonder if Rahl saw her and her power equally clearly.
She shrank away, and then it was over.
She had Confessed Darken Rahl. While he put together the Boxes of Orden.
When the stars faded from her vision—belatedly, Kahlan realized they were real, hovering glints of magic encircling them—she stared at him.
Darken Rahl stared back.
And in that moment, there was no hiding. No lies, no evasions, no judgments. No future, no past.
Kahlan could still feel her Confession of him—but she felt as though it had been mutual. As though he had taken her soul in return for his.
She’d never felt so naked.
And she realized she had no idea what was going to happen now.