Chapter 7

Richard slowed his horse only enough to look for signs of Kahlan or her father. The snow was falling steadily but he hoped to still be able to find traces of their trail. He pulled up on the reins and turned his horse to face his grandfather. "Zedd, you take the eastern part of the hillside, I'll head west." He turned and was off again without waiting for reply.

"Kahlan!" Richard repeatedly called her name, slowing just enough to listen for a response. Fear for her rose within him sending his heart pounding wildly. He needed to find her. Father or not, he'd run him through in an instant if he brought harm to her.

As Richard rode quickly along the path calling her name, two wolves leapt from the shadows of an outcropping of rocks partway up the hillside, putting them at just the right level. They slammed into his midsection sending him tumbling off his horse into the snow. As he rolled to a stop, he pulled free his sword, the ring of steel filling the air. He felt his own anger flood though him, dancing with the wrath of the sword. He deflected the onslaught as more wolves joined in the attack. They tried to tear at his body, his legs, but they couldn't get near him. Richard was fury unleashed as his sword flew through the air. He cut them down before they had a chance to flee.

His horse, frightened by the attack was long gone. Richard set out on foot up the hillside, using rocks and tree limbs to pull him faster along.

He reached the falls and saw Malkin lying dead on the ground with a covering of snow over him. He was relieved to think Kahlan had strength enough to kill him, but he didn't know if the wolves had gotten to her before they had come for him.

He could just make out her faint trail mostly covered by snow. He could tell she had been on hands and knees, crawling from the falls.

In an instant he was running straight for the cave hoping she may have sought shelter there. And then he heard her cry out. It was an agonizing cry of pain. "Kahlan!" He raced towards the sound of her voice, toward the cave. "Kahlan!" Hearing her cries of pain filled him with dread as he ran as fast as his legs would take him. He didn't slow when he reached the mouth of the cave, sliding to her side on his knees. "Kahlan, I'm here. It's okay, I'm here now."

She panted heavily trying to breath. She had trouble speaking through her labored breath. "Richard…Thank the spirits you're all right. It was Malkin all along…he controlled the wolves..."

Richard put a hand to her brow. "Shhh. I know. It's okay. Don't think about him right now, Kahlan." He brought his face close to hers, a warm smile on his lips. "You're about to have our baby. Just think about how much I love you. Don't think about anything else." He took off his cloak and bunched it up under her head. He took one of her hands up into both of his. "Hold on to me now." She held tight to his hand as another wave of pain coursed through her. He gave a light kiss to her belly as he made a silent plea to the good spirits to watch over them.

He would stay here at her side whispering his words of love as long as possible, ready to move the instant he needed to help his daughter enter the world.

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Kahlan awoke to a glorious feeling of warmth. A small fire was crackling near the mouth of the cave. Pine boughs were now tucked under her head and the warm cloak lay over her. She was in Richard's arms, their newborn daughter, wrapped in his shirt, lay snug between them. Kahlan's heart swelled with happiness and love.

Her fingertip lightly traced the outline of her daughter's tiny lips. "Hello you" she whispered. Richard's eyes opened at the sound of her voice, a heartfelt smile on his face.

Kahlan looked into his eyes. "She has your mouth" she said, smiling.

He touched a finger softly to his daughter's cheek. "She's beautiful Kahlan." His fingers went to his wife's face. "Just like you." They leaned over their daughter to share a soft kiss.

"Did you ever dream you could be his happy, Richard?"

His eyes looked lovingly over the features of her face. "Yes, Kahlan. I dreamed it the day I met you."

The End