Author's Note: It has been a couple months but I hope everyone has been enjoying my writing. I am not sure if I have mentioned it yet but the Sword of Truth series does not belong to me and neither do the characters. Terry Goodkind has that honor and I am so grateful that he imagined them and created such a large series of books with such interactive and interesting characters. None of the characters are perfect and they all make mistakes, sometimes drastic ones which just makes them feel more real. Anyway, let me know who your favorite minor character is and why and I will try to work them into the story. Also, I have gotten a few messages about how many children are in this next generation so I decided to do a short list of the children that have so far been mentioned. Sonja is seven and is the eldest daughter of Kahlan and Richard. She has a pair of twin sisters named Cassandra and Katherine who are three years old. Cara Mason and Benjamin Mieffert also have three children; nine year old Benji, eight year old Mason, and a six year old girl named Sophia. Berdine and Raina adopted a daughter, Artemis, and she is eight as well. As mentioned in the story, Danika Madigan is fifteen and Melinda Grace is ten years old. Reviews make the world go 'round!


Chapter Four

Danika had always been a light sleeper but the combination of the soft mattress and large meal from the night before had caused her to continue to sleep much later than she had ever had before. She had the distinct impression someone was watching her and slowly opened her eyes as she rolled onto her back and glanced around the room. Triana leaned against the door, one boot crossed over the other, and stared at her with a smirk.

"Morning, sunshine. I would have thought you were dead except for that insufferable snoring." She said, grinning wider at Danika's scowl. Danika rubbed her eyes and got out of bed.

"I don't snore, Mord-Sith." She snapped and collected her warmer clothes and boots from where she had carelessly tossed them around the room last night. Triana watched with a bored expression.

"No, you don't. You do drool though." She said, nodding to the wet spot on the pillow. Color rose to Danika's cheeks but she didn't rise to Triana's taunts.

"Are you going to leave the room so I can get dressed?" she asked. Triana smiled a particularly evil smile.

"The Mother Confessor assigned me to you and I am not allowed to leave your presence." She said smugly. Danika nodded and without another word stripped out of the tunic and pants and pulled on the warmer breeches, shirt, weapons belt, and fingerless gloves. She was pulling her custom-made, leather boots on when Triana finally spoke.

"What would possess you to do that to your body?" Danika looked up with a slight frown.

"Pardon?" Triana gestured at her now clothed body impatiently.

"The tattoos. Why did you get them?" she asked. Danika listened closely but only heard curiosity and not contempt in her voice.

"Personal reasons. They have special meaning to me…all of them." Danika said firmly. Triana locked her gaze on her charge but only nodded once. Finished with the boots, Danika led the way out of the bedroom and into the common room holding one of the packs.

"So which Mord-Sith is babysitting Melinda?" Danika asked innocently. Triana gritted her teeth at the girl's insolence but replied anyway.

"That girl was up at dawn. She already ate and last I knew she wanted to feed the horses with Princess Sonja." Danika shook her head.

"The one day she gets to sleep in and she wasted it." She muttered and began rifling through the pack. Triana watched with raised eyebrows as the teenager began pulling out numerous weapons and secured them to her body. As Danika pulled out the sixth dagger, Triana stopped her.

"What exactly are you doing? Storming the Palace?" she asked incredulously. Danika snorted.

"No. A Palace this big has to have a training ground and I intend to practice." She said smugly. Triana rolled her eyes.

"There are training grounds for the soldiers and then private grounds for the Mord-Sith. Either way, I can bet that your ass will end up in the mud, little girl." Triana mocked. Danika clapped her hands in delight.

"Perfect! I would love to join you at the Mord-Sith training grounds then." She said, a challenge in her voice. Triana stared at the girl, a twitch forming in her cheek as she bit it. Now she understood why Hally had had such a headache dealing with her all day yesterday. Turning on her heel, she strode from the room.

"Oh I can't wait for the first person to hand you your ass." She muttered as Danika followed happily behind. The pair maneuvered their way to the lower levels of the Palace before going through a garden and ending up outside. The Mord-Sith training grounds stood nearby to the Royal Stable and the smell of horse-flesh and sweaty leather mixed together with the unwelcome stares of six training Mord-Sith would be enough to cause some to turn and leave but not Danika. She stuck her hands in her pockets and boldly walked around the training area, ignoring the whispers. She continued around until she caught sight of a long wooden beam suspended five feet off the ground and barely a hand-width wide. She patiently waited her turn while a Mord-Sith grunted with the exertion of keeping her balance while trying to avoid falling from the swaying beam.

"What does she think she is doing, Triana? Why would you bring her here?" Garen called out angrily while dodging a blow from an agiel her sparring partner wielded. Triana threw up her hands.

"The Mother Confessor explicitly told me she was under my supervision. She wanted to practice here and I wanted to see her brought down a peg or five. Everyone wins." She yelled back. Danika stared at the ground so her smirk would not give her away. She decided she must have a death wish to show off in front of the Mord-Sith but it would be worth it to wipe the smirks from their faces. Clenching her fists, she casually watched the training Mord-Sith who had lost her concentration due to focusing on the conversation behind her and was slowly losing her balance to the unforgiving beam. Trying a roll, the young Mord-Sith slipped and fell into the mud below, narrowly missing splattering Danika. She held out a hand to help her out that the young Mord-Sith ignored, opting to glare at her with hate-filled eyes.

"Triana needs to be a more watchful nanny if she doesn't want her charge to end up damaged." She spat, making sure to raise her voice enough for all the Mord-Sith to hear the taunt and threat.

Triana stepped forward but before she could say a word, Danika beat her to it.

"You know, you are the first person I have met to try and drag someone else's name through the mud while covered in mud yourself. Ironic really." She drawled and sauntered over to the beam. The girl's face turned red as quite a few of the Mord-Sith grinned.

"Feisty. Your wife would have a field day with her." One of them called out and nudged a short Mord-Sith that Danika remembered from dinner was called Raina which led to outright laughter among all of the Mord-Sith.

"Just hurry up, Danika. I don't have all day to watch you trade insults with another teenager." Triana called out. Danika nodded back and hoisted herself onto the beam using the strength in her arms alone. Manipulating her body so she was sitting instead, she lazily stretched her arms out and balanced on the beam using just her arms, her legs locked straight in front of her. Twisting suddenly, she pulled her legs in and swiftly crouched on the beam before letting go of the beam with her hands and standing up. She walked the length of the beam before deciding to show off a bit and walking backwards to her starting position without glancing behind her. Pausing until she had most of the Mord-Sith's attention, she jumped, completed a somersault and landed back on her feet on the beam. Reaching the end of the beam again, she bent her back until her hands were grabbing the wood behind her. She kicked up with her legs and walked the length of the beam on her hands before pausing and completing twenty upside-down pushups, toes pointed perfectly at the sky. Picking up on the murmurs that had begun, she finished the routine with a dive-roll off of the board, avoiding the mud-pit and landing on her feet

Ignoring the now wide-spread shock among the training Mord-Sith, Danika began heading to the next obstacle which involved a complicated running course when the youngest Mord-Sith decided to speak up again.

"I heard she is from South Port. Of course the women there are known for their…flexibility." She called out with a ruthless grin on her face. A few chuckles broke out among the group. Danika stopped and whirled around. Her eyes flashed with a temper that she barely held in check but she was able to answer calmly.

"Would you like to say that again without your front teeth?" Danika asked impishly, hands on her hips.

"I would like to see you try, whore!" the Mord-Sith girl retorted. Danika clenched her fists and took a step forward only to be yanked back by a pissed off Triana. Painfully grabbing her bicep, the Mord-Sith dragged her from the training grounds and strode into the Palace.

"Stupid, stupid child." Muttered Triana still dragging her through the halls by her arm.

"Are you talking about me or about that mouthy Mord-Sith who desperately needs a lessons in manners?" Danika asked as Triana continued to mutter under her breath. Triana stopped and whirled on her, eyes wide before they narrowed in a glare.

"I have no idea who you think you are but you are playing a dangerous game to threaten a Mord-Sith even if she is a trainee. All Mord-Sith answer to Lord Rahl and to threaten us is a threat to him. You may be untouchable right now for bringing that child Confessor but you are nothing without her, remember that." She spoke through gritted teeth, fingers painfully digging into Danika's arm. The girl swallowed before answering.

"I understand. I apologize for my actions. My temper is my biggest weakness, I will control it." Danika said softly and soothingly, realizing how much danger she was in to be alone with an angry Mord-Sith. Triana stared hard into her eyes but Danika refused to look away and slowly the Mord-Sith calmed down.

"Quinn should not have taunted you knowing you cannot fight back and I am sure she will be effectively punished by her mistres for picking a fight with the Mother Confessor's guest." Triana blew out a deep breath and released Danika from her grip before resuming her walk. After a few minutes of silence, Danika dared to ask a question.

"Who is Quinn's mistress? I would like to apologize for embarrassing her as well." Triana was quiet as she pondered answering.

"Mistress Berdine. She's in the library" She said shortly before turning down a hall and heading towards the Great Library, her charge on her heels.

Entering the sprawling room that contained hundreds of thousands of books took Danika's breath away. The shelves were bursting with manuscripts, journals, scrolls, and leather-bound books all copied by hand. Even though Danika could not read it still amazed her how many people could and how many languages throughout the Midlands that all congregated inside this very room. She hesitantly reached out a hand to stroke the spines of the books she could reach, mesmerized by the random, quaint lines and letterings on each book. Triana glanced over her shoulder and realized her charge had stopped moving. Rolling her eyes, she stalked back and began lightly pushing Danika between the tall rows of shelving.

"You can read all you want later but I believe you owe some groveling to Berdine and I want to witness it." She said with a smirk. Danika colored but simply cleared her throat and allowed the Mord-Sith to push her to the back of the library where Berdine held ownership. The woman they were looking for was sprawled in an oversized-armchair with her boots resting on the edge of another chair reading a rather heavy looking tome. She only noticed their appearance when Triana pushed her feet off of the chair and sat down with a grin.

"What do you want, Triana?" Berdine asked, irritated at having been interrupted.

"I came because someone has something to tell you and wasn't sure where to find you." Triana smiled wider and Danika received the impression that Triana looked just like a shark with her dark eyes and numerous teeth gleaming. Sighing heavily, Berdine picked up quill and placed it in between the pages before setting the book to the side.

"Well?" she asked shortly. Danika licked her lips and took a step forward.

"There was an incident at the training grounds this morning. I lost my temper and may have threatened someone I now understand is under your care. So I wanted to apologize for any embarrassment I caused and assure you that it will not happen again." She said making sure to stare the Mord-Sith directly in the face who slowly began to frown. Berdine's eyes cut over to Triana who was trying and failing not to grin.

"Explain." Berdine said shortly, her blue eyes glaring daggers.

"Quinn." Triana answered. Quickly realizing that Berdine may have jumped to the conclusion that Danika was speaking of Artemis. If she was ever that stupid to threaten Artemis then she had better run fast because both Raina and Berdine would have happily killed her. Berdine nodded and took a deep breath, calming down.

"What exactly happened in the training grounds this morning?" she asked in a softer tone. Triana explained the incident with a look of relish on her face.

"So there is Quinn, covered in mud, mind you, because she still can't time that jump and she decides to taunt Danika. Danika simply shows her up by doing an impressive routine on the bar and when she finishes Quinn basically insinuates that the only reason she is so flexible is the fact she is from South Port. Danika threatens her, Quinn insults her again, and I took Danika from the training grounds before it could come to blows." Triana said with a gesture at Danika.

"Of course, I made it known to this one that threatening a trainee Mord-Sith is like threatening the Lord Rahl himself and it will not be tolerated, right Danika?" her voice had grown cold and Danika quickly nodded.

"It will not happen again, I promise." She said quickly, looking back and forth between the two Mord-Sith. Berdine scowled and looked at Triana.

"She still can't master the beam after all this time?" Triana shook her head.

"She acts like she is drunk every time she steps onto it. It is quite entertaining actually." Triana said with a chuckle. Noticing the confused look on Danika's face, Berdine decides to humor her.

"Now before I go hunt down Quinn later, how exactly did you threaten her?" Berdine asked.

"I may have threatened to knock her front teeth out for insinuating I was a whore." Danika tried to say calmly, but both Mord-Sith heard the change in her tone when she said the last word. Berdine nodded slowly.

"I will deal with Quinn. She knows better than to insult a guest however I bet if it came down to blows you might show her a thing or two. I accept your apology, Danika." Berdine stood and put her hand out for Danika to shake which she did hesitantly.

"A fight between you and Quinn? Now that is something I would love to watch." Triana interjected. Berdine rolled her eyes and stood, stretching all the kinks out of her back.

"The Lord Rahl wanted to meet with me at noon over dinner and I am sure you are anxious to be re-united with the little Confessor. I will take you to them both and give Triana a break from her nanny duties." She said with a smirk. Danika hid a grin as Triana gritted her teeth and stalked off, most likely to go break something. Berdine gathered the numerous books scattered across a nearby table and jerked her chin at the rows of shelving that continued behind her.

"You can borrow any book you like. So long as you return it in the same condition and place…or else" She warned.

"Thank you, I will keep that in mind." Danika said softly, her eyes taking in the many hundreds of books that she had no hope in understanding. Berdine raised both eyebrows but made no comment. She led them both from the large room, the stack of books under one arm as she nonchalantly walked the halls. Danika found that she remembered these passageways and that they would be taking dinner in the same room, past different guards this time, that they had first dined in the night before. Danika had barely entered the room, when a slim figure ran into her and squeezed her tightly.

"You're back, Dani." Melinda mumbled into her shirt. Danika ran her fingers through her tangles and accepted the hug for a few moments before gently prying her away.

"I didn't go anywhere besides the training grounds and library. I heard you were able to feed the horses with the Princess. Was it fun?" Danika asked softly. Melinda's eyes grew wide.

"Their horses are huge, Dani! I can almost walk under them and they love apples almost as much as I do." She said excitedly. Danika smiled and noted the audience they had. The Mother Confessor was smiling softly at the scene between the two girls while her twin daughters played with an assortment of carved toys at her feet. Sonja was being tickled by her father who managed to continue a conversation with Berdine as if it were completely ordinary. Another Mord-Sith that Danika remembered was named Cara had a pile of paperwork in front of her that she was steadily reading, oblivious to the sounds around her. The luncheon was not as extravagant as it had been the day before. An assortment of baked bread, spice soup, cooked pheasant, and a large bowl of strawberries and cream took up only half of the wooden table. Jugs of fresh spring water, cool- mint tea, and black coffee gave off a pleasant aroma to the room. Danika nodded her head in greeting and gave a short bow to the Mother Confessor as Melinda went back to her chair and began eating her single bowl of strawberries and cream with a small roll and cup of mint tea to accompany it this time.

"Thank you for entertaining Mel. I am sure she is thankful and we both appreciate it." Danika said kindly. Kahlan smiled a bit wider.

"It was no trouble at all. Melinda is an extremely well-behaved and educated child. Her mother would be proud." Melinda ducked her head in embarrassment at the attention but was soon distracted by Sonja who called her over to the windows. Danika made her way to the table and stood awkwardly, unaware if it was proper etiquette to sit down if the Mother Confessor was already doing so.

"Please sit and keep me company, Danika." It was as if Kahlan had read her mind.

"I want to hear more about how the two of you journeyed all of this way from South Port." Danika bit her lip but sat down on the seat across from her.

"It wasn't easy," she started, "The weather cooperated for most of the trip so we were only caught in the rain a handful of times. Once we were far enough away, I felt comfortable staying in small, well-kept inns and we took advantage of as many way-ward pines as we could." Richard had made his way over to the two of them and had placed a hand on his wife's shoulder. He remembered many a night of camping in a way-ward pine with Kahlan and was pleased that they were still often used.

"Why didn't you buy horses? It would have cut your travelling time down considerably." He asked. Danika glanced between the two of them.

"Melinda does not know how to ride well and I do not particularly like horses myself." She confessed. Melinda giggled from the far end of the room.

"That's because a horse threw her and broke her leg. My mama had to set it for her. She screamed and cursed so much that Mama made me play outside until she fell asleep. His name was Goblin." She interrupted. Danika blushed as the adults exchanged amused smiles.

"That horse was a goblin." Danika muttered. Richard opened his mouth and tried a different question.

"I believe they have coaches now that are rent-for-hire. Would that not have been easier with a small child?" he asked. Danika took in a deep breath and calmly released it. They were not questioning her actions but were generally curious how they had travelled so far on their own.

"A teenager and young girl travelling together with enough money to rent a coach? That would have brought too many questions and I was trying to keep us as inconspicuous as possible. Our story if someone asked was that our father worked in Bristol as a logger and had sent for us but our mother had passed away on the journey. We had had to sell most of our belongings for a proper funeral and we were on our way to meet him." Danika smirked.

"The only time we were questioned using that story was when we actually stopped in the town of Bristol and the inn-keepers wife wanted to hunt down all the loggers until we found our father." The adults all chuckled and Kahlan picked up Katherine who had begun flinging the carvings and settled her on her lap with a kiss to her forehead. Danika looked away from the tender display and realized that she had caught Mord-Sith Berdine's eye.

"Well, I am impressed." The Mord-Sith said with a shrug of her shoulders. "You managed to travel for almost two months from one edge of the country to almost the other on your own with only a pack each and your wits. You would make a good leader even if you did leave your charge in a less than desirable place once you reached Aydindril." She commented. Danika ducked her head under the unsuspecting praise from a Mord-Sith.

"Did you see any wolves?" interrupted Sonja, her eyes as wide as saucers. Melinda shook her head at her new friend.

"No, but we did hear them. Their howls raised the hair on my arms but I wasn't scared because Dani said that is how wolves talk to each-other." She said, snuggling into Dani's arm. Kahlan smiled at the obvious love the young child had for the teenager and it was equally as obvious that Danika cared and protected Melinda.

"What about pirates or bandits or even dragons?" Sonja asked, desperate for the story to have some sort of action that she could tell Mason about later. Melinda shrugged and glanced at Danika who was still staring at the floor.

"We didn't see any pirates or dragons." She answered slowly, hoping her friend would ignore the fact she hadn't answered fully but Sonja was her father's daughter and caught the half-truth easily.

"Does that mean you saw bandits then?" She asked with narrowed eyes and even Richard and Kahlan waited for an answer.

"Well…I am not sure if they were bandits or not. It was hard to tell but Dani said we weren't in danger as long as we stayed quiet and took watches." Melinda stammered as Danika sighed. Richard pierced the teenager with his steel-grey eyes.

"Who exactly were they, Danika?" he asked in a voice that brooked no argument. It was his Sword of Truth voice and it demanded a response. Danika swallowed.

"There are stories and rumors about a new group of outlaws. No one is sure who they are or where they stay. Because it is so secretive, the group has adopted the name, the Whispers. They steal into villages and towns and take what they want. Melinda and I saw them a few towns south of Bristol. We hid in the hay loft of a horse barn for the rest of the night, scared out of our wits. They wear silver masks and move silently. If the horses hadn't smelled them, I doubt I would have been able to hide us in time." She answered in a voice almost raw with fear.

"What do they take, Danika?" Kahlan asked gently. Danika glanced around at the children before giving a shuddering breath.

"I think if you want to continue this conversation it might be best for your children to leave, please. I don't want them to have the nightmares that Mel and I do." She pleaded. Kahlan raised an eyebrow at her husband and was about to speak when the sound of a chair being pushed back startled all of them. Cara stood from the chair, clutching a group of papers in her hands. She walked slowly over to a terrified Danika and handed her the first page.

"Is this what you saw?" she asked gruffly. Danika scanned the paper, wide-eyed.

"I don't know." She said with a shake of her head. Cara scowled and pushed the papers closer.

"Read it! Is this what you and the child Confessor saw before you came to Bristol." She said angrily. Danika pushed the papers away from her face.

"I said that I don't know!" she cried.

"Why don't you know, Danika?" Richard asked calmly.

"Because…because…I never. I never…" she started but was interrupted by Melinda's quiet voice.

"Because Danika does not know how to read." She said simply. Danika's cheeks flushed in embarrassment at the Lord Rahl's and Mother Confessor's surprise. Sonja's voice carried in that child-like way as she spoke in disbelief.

"You don't know how to read? Didn't you have a teacher that made you write lines over and over again and practice little words?" she asked. Danika clenched her jaw.

"No." she said shortly. Sensing Danika's fear and embarrassment, Kahlan stood, maneuvering Katherine to one hip.

"I agree with Danika. This conversation can continue without the presence of little ears. I believe we should have the Sword Brothers here for this as they have heard similar reports in the North. I had no idea it had managed to take root in the Southern Midlands as well." She said firmly.

"I will take your children, Mother Confessor. Artemis found a baby hedgehog in the gardens this morning and I know she wanted to show the girls later today." Kahlan smiled at her old friend and thanked her as she passed off Katherine to Berdine and handed her Cassandra as well before giving both of her toddlers a kiss on the cheek.

"But Mama, the story was just getting good." Complained Sonja, pouting where she stood. Richard picked up his eldest daughter and made sure to look her in the eyes.

"You heard your mother clearly, little one. Why don't you go play at Berdine's and Raina's apartment with Artemis before your afternoon lessons resume? I am sure she would love the company." He said, making sure his daughter understood. Sonja sighed heavily.

"Alright Daddy." She squirmed to be let down and skipped to the door. "Anyway, Melinda will just tell me what happened later. That is what best friends do, right?" she said grinning happily at discovering a loophole. Melinda could only beam at the fact this girl wanted to be her friend and Sonja smiled back before turning the handle and following Berdine from the room. Cara chuckled at her god-daughter's antics before clearing her throat and becoming serious again.

"I will find the Sword Brothers. Why don't you eat something before you keel over, Danika?" she said kindly as she swaggered through the open door, intent on her mission to find the absent brothers. Danika sighed and allowed Melinda to make up a plate for her that included a bowl of spice soup, fresh bread, and a glass of water but she managed only a few bites before her stomach refused anymore food.

"I am sorry but I am still quite full from the feast last night." She explained to Richard and Kahlan. Kahlan opened her mouth to protest that Melinda was eating just fine but a glance from Richard had her closing it.

"What exactly do they take from these towns and villages, Danika?" Richard asked softly, a small frown marring his face.

"They take the unwanted, the orphaned, the ones no one will miss. The ones that are mocked as Lost Boys because they have no place to call home. No one notices that they are gone and no one cares as long as their own children are safely asleep in their beds." Danika's voice was barely a whisper but they both heard it clearly.

"And what do they do with them?" Richard asked, placing a gentle hand on her clenched fist that lay on top of the table. Danika took shallow breaths and glanced at Melinda sitting next to her. Suddenly, they were back in that hay loft, hidden under the eaves and staring out a crack in the wooden slats. Melinda had covered her eyes and hid under the cloak, not daring to make a sound when Danika had whispered for her to stay as still as possible. That they would be okay as long as they stayed quiet. The cloak had helped shield the younger girl from seeing the horrors but it hadn't kept out the smell of iron or the screams that they both could still hear in their dreams.

Back in the present, Danika was able to speak the words she had kept hidden, knowing speaking to the wrong person would have had her murdered on the open road.

"They kill them one by one, and make it impossible to find the bodies." She said softly and nearly broke down as Melinda pushed her bowl of fruit away and clambered into her lap. Richard furrowed his brows and went to ask another question but Kahlan's hand covered the hand still in his lap.

"Let it go, Richard. We can ask the Sword Brothers when they arrive if their reports match but these girls need some space. They have done extremely well so far." She murmured in his ear. Richard nodded his agreement. He had been too caught up in the mystery to truly take in the frightened girls before him. What they had witnessed had scarred them and he would have to tread carefully if he wanted to find answers. Richard carefully squeezed Danika's hand.

"Thank you for telling the Mother Confessor and I. We have some more questions but those can wait. You both look tired and I am sure you are not fully recovered from your journey after just one night's sleep. Why don't you both rest in your quarters and I will have someone fetch you in a few hours." He suggested gently. Danika stood up, Melinda still clinging to her and choking back sobs on her once dry shirt.

"That sounds heavenly, Lord Rahl. We would greatly appreciate it." She said, her voice cracking as she swallowed the lump in her throat. Kahlan stood as well, tears in her own green eyes that she refused to let fall.

"Come girls. I will escort you to your rooms and bring you back in a few hours." She said, holding out her hand to Danika who hesitated for only a second before grabbing it and clinging to it tightly. The group of three left the dining area and headed up the stairs to their quarters. Kahlan's heart nearly broke on the expression on their faces. She had seen it on many of the young soldier's faces when they had fought Jagang in the war nearly ten years ago. Those eyes that had seen too much despair and death to ever be completely happy again and it made her want to hug the girls tightly until the pain in their eyes had lessened. She settled for lightly rubbing Danika's back and was pleased to see the girl did not flinch away from her touch. Kahlan suspected it had much to do with the young child she carried in her arms and that she did not fear Confessors the way most people had been raised. She led the pair inside their rooms and helped Danika put Melinda to bed. The poor girl had cried herself to sleep on the way up but even in her sleep she reached for Danika's hand. Danika rolled her eyes fondly and climbed in the bed on the other side of her. Laying on her back and staring up at a crack in the ceiling as if it was the most interesting piece of architecture in the world. As Kahlan went to leave she heard a voice call out to her.

"Mother Confessor, may I ask you something?"

"Anything, Danika?" she said with a gentle smile, staring into a pair of weary, dark blue eyes that did not belong on a teenage girl's face.

"Please, do not make me leave Melinda. She's the only family I have left. I will do anything. Become a soldier or work as city guide or even as a messenger just please do not take her away from me." The girl begged wearily as if she believed it would happen anyway but still had to ask. Kahlan's eyes shot up in surprise.

"Danika…I would never ask you to leave Melinda. I can tell she needs you as much as you need her. If you want a job then first you must go to school. I will talk it over with my husband to find the best teacher for you. But know this, Danika. I would never separate the two of you. I promise you, that." Kahlan said gravely. Danika knew enough about Confessors to know a promise was especially sacred for a Confessor to make. She smiled one of her first real smiles at Kahlan before slowly closing her eyes. As Kahlan left the room, she heard a soft thank you but simply left the bedroom door open a bit before exiting the quarters and making her way to her own rooms, heavily lost in thought.