PROLOGUE

"Another Day, Another Confession"

Deep in the forests outside Brennidon, Kahlan and Richard strolled along old cart trail, with Zedd following them from twenty paces back. Richard was discussing how he knew which way they were heading.

"You can't just trust in the sun to navigate," he explained. "Sometimes the sun hides behind clouds, so you need to know how to read the land."

Kahlan tried to listen, but when he explained these things his face lit up and he became so excited, she adored him for it. A huge goofy grin was plastered across his face as he went on about moss growing on trees or some silly old thing. He was gorgeous.

An arrow flew past them both, splitting the distance between them. From behind them Zedd shouted a warning.

A dozen D'haran soldiers boiled out of the forest, preceded by a hail of arrows. A dozen D'haran soldiers shouted, screamed and died under the midday sun. They had been patrolling the forest for Resistance. They had found the Seeker and his companions.

Kahlan spun on the ball of her foot, sweeping her leg out to keep balance, and neatly ducked under the slashing blade of a D'haran soldier. He was not so nimble and struggled to pull back on the swing, having not met the resistance he expected. Drawing her leg in Kahlan came fully about while rising fast, her blades flashing out. A bright red line appeared on the soldier's throat as he fell, drowning in his own blood.

Already another soldier had stepped up to take his place. Kahlan cast a sidelong glance about the battlefield. Richard had split off a quad of soldiers for himself, and Zedd battered aside a half-dozen more with a wave of his hand, hurtling them back into the trees. Richard was lost in his battle frenzy, and would leave no survivors. If they wanted information, Kahlan would have to act now.

As the soldier lunged at her she side-stepped his thrust and reached out for his throat. Her hand met his breast plate and slid ever so gently along his mail to come to a rest around his neck. Instantly he became soft and limp in her grip, dropping to his knees. Kahlan simply let go of herself, and the power which constantly roared through her blood and bones poured out from her, flowing effortlessly into the mind of the D'haran, consuming his small and miserable soul like a wildfire consumes dry summer grasses. Her body trembled with ecstasy, and she felt her legs become weak and rubbery beneath her. As she fell to one knee, her new worshiper caught her arm.

"Command me Confessor," he said as he lifted her to her feet, keeping her steady.

A few minutes later and she had all she needed from the soldier, what little information a common foot soldier such as he might have. Nothing of value. As they suspected, the troop was a random patrol. They'd stumbled on the trio's camp by sheer luck. Or misfortune, considering the result.

Richard asked what they should do with him now, suggesting that an extra sword might be handy. Kahlan looked at the soldier, who contemplated her with that sad and longing stare that all of the Confessed shared. She loathed that look, hated it and what it represented. She suppressed a shudder of revulsion, and for the briefest moment imagined what it would be like to see Richard stare at her with the empty eyes of one of the Confessed.

"No," she cried, more stridently than she intended. Composing herself she added "We'll send him back to his garrison, with a mission to sabotage their operations."

"You can't do that!" exclaimed Richard. "Darken Rahl has mandated the execution of any D'haran soldier who does not fight to the death. He'll be killed for sure, and we can't send him knowingly into certain death."

Kahlan was taken aback. Of course Richard was right, she hadn't even considered what would happen to the soldier, so distracting had been the image of Richard confessed. "Then we'll send him to Brennidon, to join up with the Resistance there. It's only a few day's march from here. We can give him some food from our stocks. He'll be fine."

Zedd, who had till this point been staring intently into the forests around them, agreed with Kahlan, and so it was decided. They outfitted the soldier, whose name was Damark, with provisions enough to get him to Brennidon, and set him along his path.