A/N: This is the sequel for my story Secrets which is the sequel of my story Duty. Sorry if it get's confusing. If you read them in order, you'll understand lol. At least I hope you will. Enjoy!
The world around him seemed dismal and bleak; the grey weather outside didn't do much to uplift his already callous mood. The wet mud stuck to his boots and the cry of injured men in the encampment beyond greatly discouraged any hopes he had. Yet they had to win... it was in the prophecies. He'd read about it in the Keep with Zedd. With the power of two armies as one, they would defeat Jagang. They had two armies now – with Kahlan's help and with their marriage, they had the Midlands and because of who he is, they had D'Hara. With the D'Haran men being under Darken Rahl for so long, they were used to being pushed and fought with their lives, without second guessing themselves. The Midland army was less severe and obviously less experienced in terms of battle, but it would be enough...it should be enough.
They needed to defeat Jagang. After all the damage and pain that he had caused with kidnapping Kahlan, brainwashing her and raping her, he could barely think straight at times with all the rage flowing through him. He had troubles at times separating the personal reasons from the actual reason they were at war with Jagang and his men. Jagang was a tyrant, an evil bastard who seemingly did not believe in mercy. He fought with as much callousness as he taught. He was bad and he needed to be stopped. Richard sighed; it was always someone, if not Darken Rahl, than someone else.
He ran his fingers through his wet hair and began wishing he wasn't the leader of these men. They all turned to him, looked to him for orders, for advice. Richard had never led men to war before and had no idea how or what to say to these men – especially when the odds seemed so bleak. He knew that currently, with all the injured men and the endless battles that they were continuously losing, that they needed some sort of encouragement. He was thankful for Kahlan and Zedd. They were both trained in battle tactics and were more than capable of leading these men...more capable than he.
He grasped on to the hilt of his sword and prepared to make his way down to Kahlan and his tent. He needed to be away for a moment. They'd just come back from an ambush and had lost more men than they had killed...he needed some time...time to just relax and think over his battle plans.
He walked over through the light rain, his boots squishing against the mud earth below. Their tent was heavily guarded and they rarely had any privacy. The only privacy he ever got was inside the tent. He nodded to the guards and lifted the flap to his room of serenity – his small ounce of peace in the warzone they were currently in. He tied it shut behind him and took a seat by his make-shift desk. He put his head in his hands and rested his elbows on the table. He cursed under his breath when he heard the flap open...all he needed was some time alone.
He felt a big hand on his back and knew immediately who it was. "Patience, my boy. We will defeat him," Zedd tried comforting his grandson. Richard sighed and let his hands fall on his desk, amongst the papers and maps.
"Will we, Zedd?" he questioned. He turned and gave Zedd a long look, "Maybe we read the prophecies wrong. Maybe we won't defeat Jagang," he stated. Zedd stepped back slightly, allowing Richard to stand to his full height.
"No. We will defeat him....just maybe not in the way we originally thought," Zedd offered some glimmer of hope.
Richard threw his hands up in frustration, "If not in battle, than what way? I'm not trained in this stuff like you and Kahlan...I have no idea what to do, Zedd. I feel so ill-equipped... I don't know if I'm the one to be doing this," he nudged his pack which lay on the ground with his foot as he looked down, defeated.
Zedd sighed and put a hand to Richard's shoulder, "Perhaps that is the way to defeat him...Jagang knows battle tactics and will be – has been – prepared for every attack we've given...Attacks that were planned and orchestrated by Kahlan and I. Our training can sometimes be a detriment instead of a benefit," Zedd's brown eyes bore into Richards, "look inside yourself, boy. Perhaps we need a tactic that he won't expect...a tactic only someone without training can think of. Take some time, Richard. We will defeat Jagang. And you will be the one to do it." He gave Richard one last reassuring pat on the shoulder before heading out, leaving the younger man to think.
Richard never thought of it that way before. Maybe they did just need a less calculated manoeuvre. He did have ideas, but relied so heavily on Kahlan and Zedd's experience that he was always less inclined to share his opinion in fear of looking foolish. Perhaps that was his mistake all along. Maybe he needed to take a chance...Maybe his way would work. He was thankful for Zedd. He felt more renewed now with rekindled hope. Maybe the prophecies were right and they just needed the right tools. Now more than ever, he felt ready.
"Are you positive?" Kahlan asked from across the table, giving him an incredulous look, either in disbelief or in fear, Richard didn't know. He nodded towards his wife and turned back towards the generals.
"We'll have four battalions. Each will be in triangle formation. The strongest foot soldiers will be placed up front with the weakest men at the back. The triangle of men will force their way into the encampment. We'll push our way through Jagang's petty foot soldiers first and foremost. Our good men will be up front so they'll be able to push us farther into the camp. As we get closer, more and more of our men will join the battle, killing those we missed or skipped. The point of the triangle – our strongest men, will push through, past Jagang's personal guards. With Kahlan's description of the camp, we'll be able to find Jagang. Once he his dead, the majority of his men will be released from his brainwashing...well, I'm hoping anyways." Richard explained. The men around the table, each with years of experience like Kahlan and Zedd stared at him, nervousness in their eyes, either afraid to question him, or not knowing what to say to such a plan.
"And you think this tactic, this triangle of sorts as you call it, will work?" one of the generals spoke up, obviously a little less convinced with Richard's idea of an attack. Richard gave him a look, also still trying to convince himself that this would work. He barely believed in his own idea, but had to convince the others that he was confident in his plot. He needed them to believe in him. Something told him that this was the only way. He didn't know what, but he had to trust in his instincts.
"I do," he licked his lips and glanced over at his wife. She nodded in encouragement and smiled slightly at him, hoping to boost his spirits. She knew the heartache Richard had been feeling over the past few months what with the continuous lack of victory. She had spent countless nights awake with him, encouraging him, comforting him when Jagang had killed more of their men than they his. She knew how hard this was for him and felt for him. She was used to this, seeing all the death and destruction. This was all new to Richard. It must have been so difficult for him. She put a reassuring hand on his forearm and glanced out to the generals.
"Richard's idea may just work, General. We should trust in him...trust in Lord Rahl," Cara added from the other side of the room. She was standing, leaning against the far wall of the tent, arms crossed underneath her leather-clad breasts. The General huffed in response and looked down at the table, still clearly not impressed with this idea.
"All right," he spoke and turned to his generals, "prepare the men. We'll head out at once," he turned back to Richard, clapped a fist to his chest and walked out of the tent. Once the tent had cleared, Richard placed his head in his hands again, and ran his fingers through his brown hair. Zedd coughed and stood up from his comfortable chair.
"Well, better go get ready myself. It always takes me some time to prepare for battle at my age," he turned to Cara and nudged her out of the tent with him, "Come on...let's make sure the generals are retaining the information to the men correctly. Wouldn't want their own opinions interfering with the purpose. These men need to be encouraged. I fear the General's own thoughts may interefere with that." He said quietly to her. Cara nodded and followed him out the tent.
Kahlan stood behind Richard and placed her delicate fingers on his shoulders, massaging the tense muscles. "Richard, we will win this fight," she whispered, though not thoroughly convinced herself. He didn't say anything as he stared at the table in front of him. He could hear the men rustling about outside in the mud, running about, preparing the horses and weapons. He knew she was just trying to ease his own fears. He could see in her eyes her own doubt. He felt it, too. He was thankful for her continuous support, even if she wasn't always sure about it. He grabbed one of her hands and gave it a quick squeeze. She leaned down, wrapped her arms around his neck and gave his cheek a kiss. She lingered there for a time, resting her soft cheek against his. His warmth comforted him.
"We better get ready," he whispered, staring off into the darkness of the tent. Kahlan nodded and stood up, not really wanting to push away from his touch but understanding the meaning. Soon, they would be at war.
Her long raven hair dripped with rain and blood as she pushed through the throng of men, screaming out in rage, swinging their battle axes. Kahlan ducked as an arrow swiftly passed over her head. She spun around and jabbed the man's heart with her raised dagger. She panted with the effort of the battle and pushed onward with her battalion of men. She was leading one, Zedd was leading another and Richard led one as well. To the south, Cara and the General led the biggest battalion. They were gaining entry, Kahlan knew. She was impressed at how this plan of Richard's was actually working. She had been skeptical of his plan but after speaking with Zedd, she understood that maybe this was the break they needed. She could see now that Richard's instinct had been right.
She swung her leg up and caught a man in his rib cage as he rounded in on one of their men. With a grunt, he fell to the ground, giving her ample time to swing her right arm down and slit his throat open. She moved with efficiency and had little time to waste.
She hadn't yet used her power. She wanted to avoid it for now. She needed her stamina – when she reached Jagang, that's when she would use it. Her blood coiled at the thought of him. He deserved everything he was going to get and more. How he had managed to brainwash her to the point where she had been at was unbeknownst to her. All she knew was that he needed to die; if not just for what he had done to her, but for all the death and pain he caused others. He was a ruthless tyrant and needed to be stopped. They would accomplish this.
She stopped in her tracks as she realized they had taken control of the east sector of the encampment. She turned her head towards her men and held her daggers up, "Keep pushing!" she cried out amongst the sea of men behind her. She jumped over the dead bodies and was only acutely aware of the blood soaked ground as she made her way through. They were getting close...so very close. They would be at Jagang's tent first. She knew what she had to do.
With effort, she ran into the second throng of men that screamed in rage at seeing their fellow comrades dead in a river of blood. She cried out and began slicing, cutting, punching. She felt a knife slice her arm and winced as she felt it hit bone. She cut through the man's main arteries and he went down with a gurgle of blood seeping from his shocked lips. She ran quickly to a clearing and ripped off part of her shirt, wrapping it around the wound as quickly as possible. It wasn't safe to stop to do such things but she had no choice. She needed her arm.
When satisfied the make-shift bandage would hold, she turned to take off again. She raised her hands in a defensive stance as she prepared to run into the battlefield when something caught her cut arm. She cried out in pain as the hand squeezed the wound, causing blood to drip from the bandage she had just placed on it. Her blue eyes turned to face the culprit. Black eyes stared down at her. Kahlan screamed in rage and urgently sought the refuge of her powers. She hesitated and it was a mistake. Within seconds, she felt the cool steel of the Rada'Han clamp around her neck. She growled at the memory of its magic as it coursed through her veins. Jagang lifted two fingers and suddenly men were surrounding her, holding her arms back. She cried out in rage and managed to injure some, but they over-powered her before she could do anymore damage. Jagang grinned down at her and ran a hand down her soft cheek.
"Seems we have some catching up to do,"
Richard sliced his sword through the air atop the horse he was riding, leading his men into the west side of the encampment. He could hear the battle cries of his men behind him as he pushed way through. With his sword alone, he was able to slice through any man that dared to even get remotely close to him. With the rage inside him and the sword's rage, Richard was unstoppable.
The heat from the exertion as well from the fires burning beyond warmed him and no doubt the other men. The air was freezing and the rain didn't help much either so the warmth was welcoming. He drove his horse harder, pushing through the bulk of their enemy, his sword, glowing from the anger, sliced off heads, punctured hearts and cut off limbs. There was nothing he couldn't do. He felt it, allowed the anger to submerge him. He gave in to the fury, screaming in anger as men tried hurdling their way before him. He felt as though he were fighting children, they were so easy to take down.
He made his way to the centre of the encampment, where Jagang's tent was. He could see Kahlan's battalion had also made it as well as Zedd's and he could hear Cara and the General coming from the south. He couldn't believe his plan had worked. He dismounted his horse and quickly took care of the men standing nearby. There were some who were begging for mercy, but Richard wouldn't have any of it. Had these men given any of their enemies' mercy? He doubted it. He plunged his sword into another as the battle raged on behind him. He caught glimpse of Zedd and ran over to him.
"Have you seen Kahlan?" he panted, his sword covered in blood. Zedd, who was surprisingly clean considering it was a bloodbath out there, shook his head. Richard took off and ran into Jagang's tent. "Cover me," he called to his men from behind.
"My dear," Jagang put a finger under Kahlan's chin and forced her to look up at him. As soon as she did, she spat at him. Jagang growled in anger and backhanded her hard across the face, sending her to the hard floor beneath, "stupid bitch," he kicked her ribs. "You could have been my queen, Kahlan. I could have made you a very wealthy, very happy woman," he yanked her up by her hair. "You chose the wrong path. Now you will have to pay for it. It's unfortunate. I must admit you were a good lay," he looked her up and down lasciviously. His other big hand roamed down the side of her face to her breast which he squeezed until Kahlan whimpered in pain. He grinned at her torture.
"You're just scared," she said, blood dripping from her cut lip, "you know we've captured your encampment. You have nowhere to flee. Richard has beaten you and now you don't know what to do," she scowled at him, "pathetic little coward," she took note of the guards surrounding her. There were four behind her and two at Jagang's side. Six of them. Dear spirits, how was she going to get out of this?
"You think this is my only encampment?" he laughed at her, "Dear Kahlan, are you really that stupid to think I have this encampment alone? Just because you've managed to kill a few of my men, doesn't make any difference to me; I've got thousands of followers. You have no idea what sort of war you've started," he let her go and walked over to his desk. Kahlan slumped to her knees, unable to stand from the brutal beating she received just moments before. "With one thought, I'll have thousands of men here in days, fully prepared to do my bidding."
"They'll be released from your hold on their minds once we kill you. You'll have no followers," Kahlan snarled. Jagang looked up at her and smiled evily.
"Ah but you're mistaken," he walked over to her again and ordered his men to stand her up. They lifted her under her arms with ease till she was facing Jagang, "do you honestly believe Richard would kill me if he knew I had you as collateral? I hardly think he'll be able to do anything knowing his little wife," he ran a hand down her silken hair again, "is at the mercy of my hand." He gripped her throat with his hand, squeezing her windpipes closed.
As she gasped for air at his brutal grip on her throat, Kahlan felt one of the guards that was holding her up go limp and fall dead to the floor. The other went swiftly as well and she was left standing at the mercy of Jagang's hand on her neck. Jagang growled and pressed harder. Kahlan, her hands still tied behind her could see her vision burring as she was beginning to lose consciousness. She briefly looked down to see two arrowheads sticking out from both of the guards' back.
Jagang looked past Kahlan's head and smiled, "Richard...we were just talking about you," he squeezed harder, Kahlan wrenched her body, trying to free herself from his death grip. This was all happening so quickly. She focused on Jagang and her anger towards him. That was the only thing keeping her awake and alive at that moment.
"Let her go," Richard growled, his sword raised, his body crouched in a battle position. His men behind him had already killed the other four guards and Jagang was left standing alone. Jagang smiled over at him.
"Considering you've killed all my men, Kahlan seems to be my only leverage right now. I think I'll keep my hold on her. Move out of my way, or else I snap her neck," he threatened. Kahlan's feet were now dangling off the floor as he held her up by her neck in demonstration, "you want to sacrifice your wife, your love for this?" he questioned. Richard growled, the anger seeping through him like hot electricity. He felt sweat beading his brow as he tried to remain calm for Kahlan. Jagang's black eyes stared into Richard's, "that's what I thought. Now move," Jagang hissed, his anger now boiling as well. Richard couldn't think. How was he going to get her out of here? He couldn't believe this was happening. He could see Kahlan was mere moments from passing out and wasn't sure if she'd ever wake up. He needed her out of his grasp...and now. Before he could think of anything Kahlan acted; with a mighty grunt, with all the fight she had left in her, Kahlan brought her knee up to his groin. Jagang dropped her without thinking to tend to his wounded manhood. Kahlan gasped in air as she writhed on the ground, trying her best to get away from him. Richard took the opportunity he had; he bolted for the mass of a man, holding his sword in the air with all his anger, frustration and fear compiled in one. His memories of Kahlan and what Jagang had done to her seared through his mind like the rage of a flowing river. Her cries, her cuts, her bruises - Richard remembered everything Jagang had done to damage his confessor; he brought forth the anger from it. The sword burned his hands as he prepared for the blow that would end this tyrant's rule.
Jagang looked up, his black eyes widening in shock at what had just happened. Richard cried out in rage brought his sword down, slicing Jagang's head clear off his body. Blood and fragments of bone jutted forth from the corpse spraying over the room. His head rolled towards Kahlan who kicked it away in disgust.
It was over. Richard stood panting, still in the same position, his sword and he completely covered in blood. He looked down at the body lying beneath him and stood slowly to his full height. He let out a deep breath as he heard Zedd and Cara run into the room, trying to calm the anger still within him. Zedd immediately went to Kahlan to cut her arms free and take the Rada'Han from her neck. She smiled in appreciation and with his help, was able to stand. Richard sheathed his sword, pushing back the anger with it. He walked over to his wife and cupped a blood-soaked hand to her dirty face. She smiled at him. He looked down at her neck to see Jagang's hand mark there; with gentle fingers, he touched the red mark and gave her a look that said everything. She shut her eyes in relief and collapsed into his arms. Both of them, soaked in blood, held each other, not daring to let each other go. He had almost lost her. Again. He was never going to let her go – ever.
Zedd and Cara quickly gave orders to the general to gather the men. Any of Jagang's soldiers would be released from his hold now and they were to gather them and they would be questioned. The general nodded and headed out. Zedd put an arm around his grandson and granddaughter.
"Victory is ours."