Author: Vorquellyn PM
Kahlan Amnell is Darken Rahl's guest. AU post 1x21Rated: Fiction T - English - Kahlan A. & Darken R. - Chapters: 11 - Words: 48,413 - Reviews: 116 - Favs: 48 - Follows: 24 - Updated: 08-01-09 - Published: 05-21-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5076552
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I do not own anything or anyone associated with Legend of the Seeker or the Sword of Truth series.
Note: Spoilers through 1x21 Fever. I am going with the idea that anything Darken told Jennsen that hasn't been directly contradicted onscreen is possibly true.
She was beautiful, lying there in her cell. His men had managed to subdue her at last. She and The Seeker and That Wizard had parted ways while in one of the towns. Not an argument so much as a search. It had taken eight of his men to bind her and put her in the wagon. Now she was his in body. He would have her mind and spirit too.
Darken Rahl had heard many stories about the Seeker's Confessor's beauty but they paled in comparison to the travel worn figure lying in his cell. Her pale skin so perfectly complemented by her rich dark hair and her vivid blue eyes. Eyes that were currently narrowed to slits of hatred. But that would change, he could change that. He could prove himself worthy. Worthy of something more than being hunted down by a bastard who ought never to have been born.
"You will be provided with soap and water. If you wish to clean your dress you will be provided with the materials to do so." He told her quietly. She was not a Mord Sith. Beatings and rats would not transform her into what he wanted. Unbidden the memory or her glare while she told him he was unlovable sprang into his mind. "Food will be brought down in an hour. Do you prefer lamb or beef?"
"May the Keeper take you." She hissed at him.
Darken Rahl decided that two days with no company was long enough. The Mother Confessor had been provided with clean clothing, food and on occasion reading material. Books of fairy tales not texts on anything important of course. But his was the only face she was allowed to see and then only to ask her what type of food she wanted.
Today marked the first step in the next phase. She was neither as stupid nor naive as dear, sweet little Jennsen. She would be much harder to win over but he was certain that once he had she would be his. Not like pathetic little Jennsen. Darken Rahl deliberately unclenched his fists and motioned for his guards to open the door.
"Today is a lovely day. Would you care to walk in the garden?" He asked mildly.
The Mother Confessor looked at the quad darkly and leaped from her bed, confessing the nearest guard. Darken Rahl stepped out motioned another quad forward, between himself and the Confessor.
Her strength drained, she dropped to the bed. Darken Rahl motioned for the door to be shut with the Confessed guard inside. "All you had to do was say no." Darken Rahl maintained his mild tone. One man Confessed, two men dead and another injured was not a very high price to pay for this round. "I'll leave your pet in there with you."
The desire to see her again, to speak with her burned in Darken Rahl's mind. But he was patient. He would not have been able to capture so much of Westland and the Midlands if he had not been capable of waiting and watching. He knew men's weaknesses. That was what made him different, better than his father.
So for four days Darken Rahl forced himself to work despite the distraction waiting in his dungeons. The distraction in the white dress with the impractically long sleeves and low neckline that flashed a tantalizing glimpse of soft breasts that could bring a man joy if they weren't attached to a Confessor.
It was much harder than he would have thought, ignoring her pet. He knew there was no way a puppet could compare to what he had to offer but there was still the way she cared for the man. Today he deemed it time.
"That man has a wife and three year old son." Darken Rahl said conversationally after taking the Mother Confessor's dinner request. The woman's glare was strangely gratifying. "You Confessors go on and on about how I'm a tyrant, I'm the cruel man depriving people of their freedom. But I have never done to a man what you have done to how many of my men over these last few months? No matter. It's not as if you'd listen to reason."
"I have nothing to say to you." The Confessor snapped.
Progress. "No? I suppose you wouldn't. You think my attempts to defend myself are cruelty. Do you know what it's like to live under a prophecy of your own death? Look at me Confessor. I speak truly. Do you know why I keep you here, safe from torture, safe from my Mord Sith, safe from my Dragon Corps? Because you are like me. I could have cut down that Confessed man. I could have touched you while you lay weakened. Perhaps I will come to regret staying my hand. But like me you know how to do monstrous things to stay alive. You Confessors do it all the time. I know why there are no boy children of Confessors who live to adulthood. How is that any different from I did at Brennidon? You say I am a tyrant and you sit there with the most loyal subject a monarch could ever ask for. But I believe you are more than the indoctrination fed to you through your childhood. I believe you can overcome your training and see the truth of the world."
He could tell from the subtle twitching of her shoulders that she was either struggling not to give him the satisfaction of seeing her cry or from knowing he had gotten to her enough to make her scream at him.
He was only able to contain himself for three days the next time. The guards reported that she had taken to having her slave sing to her to break the monotony. That meant it was time to step things up.
"Today is another lovely day. I once again offer you the hospitality of my garden." This time when she attacked he killed all of the Confessed men. After the door was barred he sighed loudly. "I'm sorry you made this necessary. At least now this poor man's family can have a funeral."
Without the thought of K- the Mother Confessor having company Darken Rahl was surprised at how much easier it was to stay away. Next time he would not let it go on so long. It was a mistake to push his patience so close to the snapping point. The point was to push her, not to be pulled by her.
She had been in his dungeon for two weeks the next time he struck up a conversation with her. It was still far too early in the game to expect her to strike up a conversation with him. "The hypocrisy of your order is astounding." He didn't miss the way her eyes grew hungry for a moment before her control reasserted itself and she looked resolutely away. "For example, you cannot bed a man without making him your slave. And you need to have more daughters in order to continue across generations. Killing the sons I suppose could be deemed acceptable since they are a threat to everything you strive for but how do you explain the fathers? Confessors do not ask for volunteers. They take the best men and turn them into puppets." The turn of the pronoun was not accidental. "How do you explain that?"
"It is necessary." The Mother Confessor said hotly.
"How are you defining necessary?" He colored his words with curiosity.
"I'm not discussing this with you?"
"Why? What are you afraid of?" He smiled at her. "Your mother effectively killed your father. What for? There are so many alternatives."
"Stop." The Mother Confessor ordered.
"She could have gone to a city, rounded up criminals and spent her power there before allowing your father to lie with her." He saw a glimpse of something before she turned away. "Or perhaps not your father. Perhaps some other man who could then stand honorably at her side and assist in the raising of her children."
"May you rot forever in the Underworld." Ka- The Mother Confessor hissed.
Darken Rahl made his next conversation attempt two days later. She had made several statements to him last time and so she should not need to sit alone so long this time. Patience. This time he would see how much more coaxing she would need before she would believe a display of vulnerability. When he had taken her request for breakfast she had nearly bit her tongue trying not to say something. He was right. She was much smarter than poor, dim Jennsen. She knew he was manipulating her. She expected nothing less.
Darken Rahl smiled at her. "I'm sorry. I've been so rude. Let's see if I can find a more neutral topic instead of all this picking and jabbing."
Cautious green eyes watched him warily.
"So, what can we talk about that's neutral. Not the war. Certainly not magic. Definitely not The Seeker." He allowed his anger to show. She wouldn't believe him if he hid it. No, this was to remind her that he was the enemy. And still she wanted to talk to him. But she wanted The Seeker more. He buried the hurt and smiled. "I know. When you were a child was there ever anything you wanted to be other than a Confessor?" Suspicion hardened her eyes. "At one point I wanted to be a horse," he pretended not to notice.
She snorted in surprise.
"Oh yes. I wanted to be a big, black charger." He smiled, feeling pity for the child he had once been. And hatred. That stupid, helpless child.
"Richard is going to kill you."
"Yes." Lord Rahl said testily. "But not in the next five minutes. Probably not in the next five hours. Maybe not in the next five months or five years." He spoke with a growing confidence he didn't truly feel. "It's possible it might not even be in the next five decades."
"Then why are you so afraid?" She asked, sounding so smug.
He couldn't lie to her. She was a Confessor, sworn to help the Seeker get to the truth. But the best deceptions were always rooted in truth. "If you behave yourself I might tell you." The haunted look from sleepless nights spent obsessing over what to do about his- The Seeker was disturbingly easy to put on.
She recoiled away from him, burying her nose in the book.
He asked nothing more than what food she required for the rest of the week. On the morning of her twenty third day she finally spoke to him.
"If Confessors are so evil then why did you try to become one?" The Mother Confessor stood haughtily but he had learned to read the loneliness in her eyes.
"To perfect them." Lord Rahl hid his triumph. "If we can make more then we do not need to rely on women to enslave men in order to bring about more women. And to protect myself from them."
"You mean us."
Lord Rahl made a noncommittal noise.
"I am a Confessor and Richard will kill you." She sounded very certain.
Darken Rahl looked away until he had remastered his expression. "That is why there is a heavy door between us. I heard that sometimes you throw the chamber pot and sometimes you keep the food trays."
"Why aren't you torturing me? You've already had the opportunity." The Mother Confessor sounded angry.
"What worse could I do to you than to have you sitting here, thinking of The Seeker and unable to help him?" Lord Rahl smiled, in control of the conversation once more. "Maybe even thinking about who they replaced you with. You know the other Confessors, do you not? Who would they send to guide Richard next?"
"You're a sad, pathetic man." Kahlan hissed.
"And what does that make you? You pay lip service to freedom while sowing strife. If you and The Seeker would just let me run my Empire everyone's lives would be improved. Look at me. Use your abilities. Without the resistance I wouldn't need to spread plagues or magical weapons that can kill entire villages. If everyone would just stop fighting I wouldn't need to fight back."
The Mother Confessor slowly drew back.
"The resistance speaks as if it has the interests of everyone at heart. It says that I am oppressive. But what of what they do? When they kill my troops am I supposed to simply stand by?" Ordering people to their deaths was one thing. Allowing others to take away what belonged to him was something else. "And do you actually think I could hold all of this territory if there weren't men on my side? Why are they worth less than the rebels who spread anarchy?"
"Because they're betraying their people." The Mother Confessor said firmly. "And not all of those who stand aside are on your side. Many of them are too afraid to stand up to you."
"The rebels make it necessary for me to tighten my grip on their homes. Does that not make them traitors? Dissidents make trouble for their neighbors and I allow peace to return." Darken Rahl felt control slipping away again.
"You torture, you murder, your men nearly killed my sister. You held her and tried to steal her child." The Mother Confessor's voice rose in volume and conviction. "Everywhere your men go they leave a path of fear and pain."
Darken Rahl heard his pulse drumming in his ears and red edged into the corners of his vision. "People don't understand anything less. People only really understand pain and fear. They can talk themselves out of anything else, even sadness and sickness. But pain is immediate and fear is lasting. You learn more from pain than you do from lessons or reading. Fear is what keeps people from doing dumb things, bad things. Fear and pain are the only forces you can ever really be sure of. Make a man give an oath and he'll talk himself out of it. Take his sister hostage and he'll obey you. Scold a child and he learns nothing. Beat him and he remembers it." Darken stopped, realizing he was breathing heavily. He swiftly turned and walked away.
Kahlan sat alone in her cell and stared at the wall. Lord Rahl had not denied her sunlight. A small rectangle of it slowly traveled from left to right at the top of her room. The bed was comfortable and free of lice. She could bathe herself and did not have to live with the smell of her own waste. It was far better living than being on the trail.
She slowly lay down on the bed and hid her face in her pillow to muffle the noise as she cried. Richard was on the trail, had been on the trail without her for weeks. Lord Rahl was right. He had most likely been assigned another Confessor by now if one could have been found. Did Lord Rahl know that?
Chiding herself for self pity Kahlan dried her eyes. Next time she would ask to walk in the garden. Next time she would get a guard near enough to Confess him. She would steal whatever weapons she could and fight her way out of the People's Palace and back to Richard.
Taking a deep breath she used the skills she had learned as a Confessor to think back over the exchange she had had with Lord Rahl. The man was desperately afraid. Surely she could use that to her advantage somehow. She needed to push him somehow, make him see her on his level.
Or should she pretend to submit? Not all at once but gradually pretend to be his... dog. Something harmless and fawning until he let his guard down. She would coax him out and then strike.
So Kahlan sat back and waited for time to pass. She picked up the book and flipped through it absently before dropping it on the bed. She was tired of the fairy tales with their gruesome endings for girls who misbehaved and boys who took too much interest in girls. She was tired of women waiting in towers for brave, handsome princes and woodcutters.
A thought poked its ugly head through her mind like a bubble of swamp gas moving through mud. What if she asked Lord Rahl for something different? A cookbook perhaps. Or a book on Old D'Haran etiquette.
Her mind sprang into action as she planned out what kind of book, how she would ask, and when would be the best time. Not too soon because he'd be likely to dismiss her request after her what she'd said to him this morning.
Kahlan's train of thought was interrupted by a bowl of porridge in the slot. It was a generous portion but plain. He apparently wasn't going to starve her for her behavior but he was giving her servant's fare. She tried to convince herself she felt no reaction other than outrage as she quietly ate her breakfast.
Kahlan watched the dawn sun leave a streak on her wall. This was the twenty-sixth day she had spent in this room. The twenty-sixth day of her captivity to the most evil man she had ever met. The third day since she had seen him last. Three days of nothing but an old book, her exercises and her thoughts.
The roo- cell was just barely big enough to let her practice the fighting moves that had kept her alive so far. She couldn't help but think that it was deliberate. It was a reminder of the fact that he could take away her freedom to do even that much on a whim just like everything else he gave her. Which of course led to wondering why he allowed her the amount of freedom that he did. True she couldn't roam the halls and talk to people but she wasn't starving, being beaten and forced to live in her own filth either.
The first conclusion she had come to was that he was afraid of the Con Dar. This felt true but no longer felt like the whole truth. She had tried over and over to call on the Con Dar but it had been nearly a month and the closest she had come was to give herself a massive tension headache.
Kahlan had come to accept that the only way she would be able to call on it was if she felt Richard was in immediate danger of at least dying if not worse. So she had tried to convince herself that without her he would be as good as dead. She tried to picture him lost and vulnerable without her at his side but that image didn't ring true. Then she had taken to picturing him running all over the countryside and blundering into traps looking for her. That felt true but she wasn't able to picture a trap Richard couldn't either fight his way out of or talk the locals into helping him get through.
Kahlan placed her hands against the wall and tried to calm the whirl of her thoughts. The truth was that Richard could complete his quest without her. He had to.
"I would like a new book, please." Kahlan kept her eyes downcast. Being so subservient brought the taste of bile to her mouth.
"Is there anything in particular you would like?" Darken Rahl asked in that gentle voice he had only broken from once during her captivity.
"Whatever my lord wishes to give me will be good enough." The words were servile but the tone was not.
Darken Rahl's lips twitched. "I believe I can come up with something. Is there anything else?"
"You drank the potion. Why don't you touch me?" Kahlan demanded. Admitting that she nee- wanted something from him was all the circumspection she could manage.
"I have several flaws. All of which I am aware of. Failing to learn from past mistakes is not one of them." He deliberately raised his hand to touch the skin Richard's sword had sliced. "As my contact with the pristinely ungifted has taught me; my magics are not as reliable as I thought they were."
Kahlan snorted incredulously. "You've given up the search for the power of Orden?"
"Of course not." Darken Rahl smiled. "But I feel no need to be foolish about it. As you should recall. You were behind that espionage attempt in Tamarang, were you not?"
"Paranoia is not the same thing as cleverness."
"No but I am both and therefore still alive." His voice had an edge. "Tell me, Confessor, is a man who kills another man always wrong?"
Kahlan grit her teeth and held her temper. "No. If another man tries to kill him then he may kill that man first. But you tried to kill Richard first. There is no comparison."
"There was a prophecy that The Seeker would be born in Brennidon. I asked the town of Brennidon to give him to me. They refused. Does that not count as attempting to harm me?"
"No. They were trying to protect a baby who had done nothing wrong." Kahlan met his gaze steadily.
"Like the male children born to Confessors?" Darken Rahl's voice was as smooth and soft as silk.
Kahlan's face twisted with rage as she remembered Dennee's face when she realized the baby was a boy.
"You let one live." Darken Rahl was on the edge of wonder. "A Confessor allowed a male child to live. Tell me, what did it feel like to turn your back on your Order?"
Kahlan swore the vilest oaths she knew at him.
In the late afternoon of her thirty-fourth day a book clunked into the slot used to pass her food. "A History of Horse Breeding?" Kahlan blinked. "How... unexpected."
"Would you care to go for a walk in the garden with me?" Darken Rahl was the image of graciousness.
Kahlan paused and nodded. Maybe if she could just see some other people. Then the pair of quads came in. Anger at her situation flooded through Kahlan and she grabbed the nearest man and confessed him as she took his dagger.
The fight was brief in such confined quarters. The man behind the Confessed knocked him silly before he could complete his request for a command. The dagger was plucked from her grasp and the Confessed disarmed with such routine that she knew they had to have been practicing.
The dawn of Kahlan's thirty-sixth day marked the first time Kahlan became weary of her new guest. The Confessed always tried so hard to please that it was taxing all on its own. Her current command was to have him read aloud from a genealogy of D'Haran horses. It was soothing but monotonous. Dull.
He was a handsome man; blond haired and blue eyed like most D'Harans but a little taller than average. She had spent the previous morning trying not to think about that. Now all she could see when she looked at him was Finn. It wasn't that he looked particularly like Finn. He was just another Confessed D'Haran.
Kahlan winced. Just another. She couldn't allow herself to think that way. That was the way towards abusing her powers and turning into a monster. She shivered as she remembered Darken Rahl's voice saying almost the same thing.
On the fortieth day while Kahlan was eating lunch with Tremmon and having him desribe to her the farm where he had grown up when she heard a noise that she had not heard in well over a month. She turned to look at the door and saw through the window in the top that Darken Rahl stood there, holding a child of about four years old.
"Papa!" The little girl shrieked and Tremmon turned around with a smile on his face.
"Yara." Tremmon said happily.
"Yara, meet the Mother Confessor." Darken Rahl told the child who mumbled something shyly.
"Pleased to meet you, Yara." Kahlan said with all the dignity she could muster. A part of her mind began to scream. Not this. Anything but this. She could fight anything else.
"When you come home?" Yara asked Tremmon.
Before Tremmon or Kahlan could say anything Darken Rahl stepped in smoothly. "Papa lives here now because he loves the Mother Confessor more than you or your mama."
As Yara began to sniffle Kahlan stood. "Your papa loves you very much. He told me so."
"Tremmon. You could go home to your wife and children but you would never see the Mother Confessor again." Darken Rahl said without a hint of anger.
Tremmon shook his head. "I must stay with my mistress. She tells me what to do."
"I could order you to go home and be happy." Kahlan said, knowing she wouldn't. He wasn't Yara's father anymore.
"This is part of what I'm fighting against." Darken Rahl told the blond child who looked so much like Dennee. "I don't want other children to wake up one morning and find their papas love a monster like her more than their children."
Kahlan thought over the replies she could make to that. If she tried to explain that Yara's father planned to hurt her then Darken Rahl would be telling the truth when he said that he had ordered his troops to make her comfortable and all he wanted was a walk in the garden with her. If she tried to tell the child that Lord Rahl was the monster the child was already looking at the man who used to be her father. If Kahlan tried to explain, argue or reason with the child it would all come back to one thing. Kahlan had stolen Yara's papa.
There was no mistaking the triumph in Darken Rahl's eyes when he took the child back to her mother.
The forty-seventh day in Lord Rahl's keep was an overcast one. Kahlan sighed heavily. The boredom was getting to her in ways that torture never could. She knew it and felt helpless to stop it. The only changes from day to day were all directly Lord Rahl's doing. She had to rely on him for any entertainment more complex than children's games with Tremmon.
Kahlan won another round of Xs and Os and suppressed the need to scream. Anything to shatter the silence, the mind numbing stillness. She looked into Tremmon's devoted blue eyes and in that moment she hated him more than she had ever hated anyone. Darken Rahl included.
Alana. She was certain that by now Alana would have come forward to guide The Seeker.