Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to anything included in this story other than my original story and dialogue.
The sky shone with the brilliant luminescence of a summer sun, and grass wriggled around the boots of Demmin Nass and his soldiers. Less than half a mile away, across a span of rolling hills, sat the seeker and his companions happily munching on pheasant and cheese. Little did they know that Nass's archers had them surrounded and their arrows set to kill. When Nass was ready he would have a flaming arrow shot into the sky to signal the archers to attack.
Nass took a deep breath, only a few seconds lay between him and a world without the seeker.
"NOW!" he shouted, prompting a gruff soldier to launch a flaming arrow above them.
Nass watched as a horde of arrows sprung towards the unsuspecting travellers. He could already imagine the arrows puncturing the flesh of the "legendary heroes". How Lord Rahl would be to hear the news. This would mean yet another triumph under Nass's belt. The arrows converged on the spot where the seeker and his friends had picnicked, but at the last moment they vanished, causing the arrows to zoom past each other before falling lazily to the ground.
Shock crossed Nass's face and he ran full speed for the spot that should have been the death of the seeker. How could they have fooled him so easily, just like so many of his less qualified colleagues? He stooped down to pick up an arrow that had missed its chance just as he had. Clouds had begun to gather as Nass looked across the field. All that was left of his assassination attempt was a pitiful little fire from the flaming arrow that had landed in a patch of dirt a few feet away from him.
Lord Rahl looked out the window of his castle and watched some children playing in a field just outside the wall to the castle. Strange, he thought, few children ever come so close to the castle walls. With a flit of his hand Rahl conjured a crow to go squawk at the children until they ran home. Rahl watched as the children ran from the oversized bird as it pecked at them and screeched in their ears. Rahl turned from the window suddenly bored with the scenery to find his right hand man, Egremont at the door.
"Lord Rahl," Egremont alerted, "Demmin Nass has returned from assignment." Nass moved around Egremont and into the room kneeling a few feet in front of Darken Rahl. Rahl already knew Nass had failed on his mission; his eyes swam with self-loathing and fear.
"Well?" Darken Rahl prompted the trembling man before him, "Did you succeed in capturing the seeker?'
Demmin Nass looked at the empty space to his left, praying that the seeker were next to him in chains.
"No, my Lord."
"Obviously." Darken Rahl criticized, "The strongest man in my military, renowned for his genius, his ferocity, and his zeal fell victim to the cheap tricks of the seeker and his surly companions." Like so many who'd been fooled before him. How could I let such a coward lead my men? In one swift motion Rahl floated in front of Nass and jammed a dagger into his side, puncturing some important organ. Nass gasped and fell forward on the dagger causing blood to gush up the hilt and onto Rahl's hand. Disgusted with Nass's weakness, Rahl shoved the withered body to the floor without flinching.
Rahl grabbed a quill from his desk in the corner and knelt next to Nass's twitching body. He wet the quill in Nass's blood and handed it to Egremont.
"Get a message to the Mord-Sith that they should get their newest trainee to join their ranks ready for her first assignment." Rahl commanded
"Yes, Lord Rahl." Egremont turned to write in the journey book.
"Egremont" Rahl called his right hand.
"Yes, Lord Rahl."
"Dispose of the General," Rahl instructed, "his services won't be needed anymore." Rahl walked out the door, leaving Nass on the floor gasping for breath and clutching his wound until he would eventually bleed out and face the underworld.
Rahl entered his empty room and headed straight for the basin to wash off his hands. The clear water turned a rosy pink as he plunged his hand into it. Funny how water could wash away the bloodiest of messes and washed away imperfections. Rahl wished earnestly that he could do that in his own life. Maybe then he wouldn't face so much antagonism against him.
Once his hands were cleaned of Nass's blood, Darken Rahl dressed for bed. He climbed into the cold bed, ignorant to the emptiness in his life, and the war it was starting inside of him.
Rahl awoke in a grassy clearing surrounded by trees with bugs zooming past his ears and the scent of lavender drifting in the wind. His fine robes were gone. Instead he was dressed in scratchy peasant garb and what smelled like leather from some recently dead animal. The sun had started to set and the hint of stars were starting to form in the sky. Rahl stood and saw there were large stones marking the edge of the clearing. He ran to the small stone table in the middle of the clearing, but before he got there he was blown back by some force and knocked to the ground. Darken Rahl stood again and turned to see a spirit of a woman dressed in silver standing behind him.
"This is a warning Darken Rahl," the woman's voice bellowed as if it carried the sound of a thousand voices, "You will be your own destroyer."
"What does that mean?" Rahl inquired, wondering how he could destroy himself if he trusted no one but himself.
"You cannot help it. Your loneliness will lead to your demise. Your greediness will tear a rift in your soul. Your riches will suffocate your authority. You need no seeker to bring you to your end. You will do it on your own."
"But how-" Before he could finish the woman had vanished and Darken Rahl had been left in the clearing on his own to wonder about the meaning of her message. Rahl walked to the center of the clearing where a stone table stood. Before much time had passed, he heard the crunching of leaves under footsteps coming from the woods. Rahl reached for where he kept his sword, but it was gone too. He ran to exit the clearing, but before he could reach the edge he came face to face with himself, dressed not in peasant clothes but his fine red robes, and wielding a sword, pointed at Rahl. Darken Rahl stepped backward in retreat until his doppelganger had him pinned on the stone table. He looked straight into his own eyes and saw the anger and mistrust, but underneath it he saw fear of the very thing the woman had warned against. Rahl heard the woman's voice one more time before his mirror-image plunged a sword into his heart.
"Your loneliness will be what ends your reign."
Darken Rahl woke covered in sweat and tangled in a mass of sheets and pillows. Rahl had never been concerned with loneliness before. He had everything he needed. For several minutes, he sat on the edge of the bed contemplating the meaning of the woman's warning.
"I have more important things to worry about." he told himself before standing, but a small part of him started to wonder if there was any truth to the woman's warning.