So sad to say that this little adventure is now coming to a close. *sniff, sniff* It's been a great ride, guys! Thanks for tagging along with me! Ok, off to start another…

Linked (Chapter 12)

He sat at the edge of the lake, stirring the water with a long stick. The moon was a bright ball, glowing against the midnight blue canvas and reflecting on the water. He was absorbed in the ripples that he was creating, watching them lazily dissipate as it spread over the top of the blue liquid. He missed her thoughts caressing his mind; he missed the nearness, the closeness he had experienced when his mind was linked to his lover's.

"Care if I join you?"

Richard quickly turned his head at the sound of her captivating voice. It was like a song that communicated with his soul and kept his heart beating. No other would ever affect him the way she did.

Without a word, Richard slid over on the log, making room for his Confessor to join him. Kahlan tucked her skirt behind her knees as she settled down beside him. Her mind was a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts and yet, at the same time, she felt so small and alone on the inside. She missed the gentle touch of her lover's thoughts in her mind, the feel of him being joined to her.

Casting a sidelong glance, Kahlan watched as Richard kept his focus on the stick in his hand as he continued making ripples in the water. Silence hung in the air like a heavy cloak, threatening to suffocate them both.

Kahlan could no longer take the distance that had been created between them. Placing a tentative hand on his arm, she gave it a gentle squeeze, telling him with a single touch what her mind was no longer able to do.

Feeling her hand on his forearm, Richard froze, her touching setting his nerves on fire just like it always did…like it always would. He slowly turned his head and stared at her delicate hand as it rested lovingly on his arm. He swallowed hard against the arousing sensations that her single touch was eliciting in him. He loved her so deeply and he had come so close to losing her.

"You make me forget how to breathe at times," he whispered, slowly raising his head to look into her vibrantly blue eyes.

"Richard, I'm sorry that I ran away from you," she softly began, not know exactly where to start, her heart twisting with emotions. Love, regret, pain, loneliness. She needed her lover to understand why she had left him.

"Kahlan, you don't have to…"

"Richard, please let me finish. I need to explain to you why I left. I know that hurt you deeply by leaving, but I never meant to hurt you; I was trying to protect you," Kahlan rushed breathlessly through her words, not wanting to lose her courage to share her heart with him. "When we were attacked by those D'Harans yesterday and I saw you lying on the ground, I thought you were dead."

Reliving that moment over again in her mind, Kahlan squeezed her eyes shut against the image of Richard's lifeless body on the ground, the soldiers standing over him ready to deliver the final blow. Seeing the pain that permeated her whole being, Richard raised his hand to cup her face.

"Kahlan, it's alright," he softly soothed, noticing her eyes filled with tears when she finally opened them.

Leaning into his tender touch, Kahlan found the words to continue. "I can't bear the thought of losing you, Richard, but more than that, I couldn't live with myself if it was because of me that you died."

As tears began to trickle down her face, Richard placed his other hand on the side of her head. Holding her face, he slowly leaned in and tentatively brushed his lips against hers. Her soft lips were sweet like honey, making him want to drink her in and absorb every ounce of her.

Pulling back to gaze into her eyes, Richard saw love radiating there. Love for him. And it made his heart begin to beat wildly with excitement. No one had ever looked at him with such love as Kahlan did. Leaning in, he pressed his lips to her forehead as he whispered, "It's alright; I understand. I love you, Kahlan…but don't ever do that to me again."

His words were filled with such anguish and even a little anger that it pierced her soul. Kahlan tilted her head down, ashamed for the pain that she had caused him. She had tried so desperately to keep him from harm and in so doing had brought him more hurt than any physical pain could have caused.

"I'm so sorry I hurt you," she whispered, barely able to find her voice through her tears.

"Promise me you won't leave again. If you leave me, I won't survive. You are my world, Kahlan. Without you, I am nothing," he loving replied as he tilted her head back up to look at him.

"I love you so much, Richard. I just can't lose you," she murmured, placing her hands on either side of his face as well.

"So, I guess we're stuck with each other then," he smiled a small smile, never taking his eyes off her. She was mesmerizing to behold with the moonlight illuminating her hair and dancing in her eyes.

Smiling her smile, Kahlan released a soft sigh, relieved that he was no longer angry with her. She caressed his bronzed cheek with her thumb, taking in each curve, every fine line and contour of his rugged face. Her heart almost stilled as his hand lightly caressed its way down her face to her shoulder, his thumb stroking the crook of her neck.

Gazing into his warm brown eyes, her stomach fluttered with the hunger that she saw residing there. Hunger for her…to touch her, to kiss her, to hold her, to be inside of her. She felt her own desire ignite into flames as his other hand began stroking her hair.

She needed him so desperately as her body ached to feel his touch, to feel him inside of her again. A small moan slipped through her lips unhindered as Richard leaned in and began pressing warm wet kisses along her neck. She tilted her head, begging him to continue his journey of exploration.

Kahlan's escalating need for him only served to further arouse him, spurring him on. Instead of the frenzied, heated passion they had shared before, Richard was slow and deliberate as he took great pleasure, enjoying every second the Creator granted him with his lover. He absorbed every aspect of her – the taste of her skin, the feel of her beneath his touch, her breath warm and inviting against his ear as she pulled him tightly against her, each gasp and moan of pleasure that he brought out in her.

Running her hands down his back, Kahlan played with the top of his pants before descending to run her hands over his firm backside. Her hands squeezing him made his head spin, driving him wild with need to have her now.

Pulling back, he pulled her to her feet, leading her to the tall grasses that lined the lake. Running his hands down her neck to her exposed breasts, he began unclasping her jacket as she pulled his shirt loose from his pants. Lifting his arms, Kahlan pulled his shirt over his head, discarding it in the grass to be found later. Removing her jacket, Richard's hands roamed over her breasts, caressing the soft warm flesh before starting on the laces.

Richard could feel his lover's heart pounding beneath his fingers as he quickly loosened the laces before removing her dress. Lying her down in the tall grasses, Richard captured her lips in a heated kiss that slowly began to heal the hurt and the fears of the last few days. Giving each other all that they had, Richard and Kahlan made unhurried, intensely passionate love, linking two hearts as one once again.


Lying in the grass with her head against his chest, Richard lightly caressed her long soft tresses. Overwhelmed with amazement at the love that they had just shared, Kahlan sighed contentedly. She was relieved to once again be in the safe arms of the man she loved.

"What are you thinking about?" Richard softly asked as he heard her sigh.

"Wouldn't you like to know," she giggled as she caressed his firm abdomen, giving it a loving pat.

"My head does feel a little empty now that you're no longer occupying it," he smirked. "For the Mother Confessor, you sure do have some pretty passionate thoughts about your Seeker."

"You don't even know the half of it," she seductively murmured as she propped herself up on one elbow to look at him. "So, are you saying that you no longer think about me?"

Richard groaned at the thought of what else could be swimming around in that head of hers; he could hardly wait to find out. "Kahlan, there's not a moment that goes by that you don't consume my mind or my heart," he lovingly replied as he leaned up to capture her lips again, pulling her down on top of him. Her hair tumbling down around him, he reached up and began running his hands through it.

Pressing herself against him, Kahlan relished the feel of every inch of his flesh touching hers. Being with Richard was intoxicating, making her body swim with desire again. "Just promise me that when we get married someday you won't have our rings spelled."

"I promise," he chuckled. "Hey, did Zedd ever say what the inscription said on the paper and the rings?"

"He said it was an ancient writing the Wizards used thousands of years ago. The rings said 'Sacred love most precious and eternal' and the paper said 'That which was beloved and most precious, I tried to keep within my grasp; and by my own hand, that which was mine I now have lost and for never more shall have'. It's so sad what happened to them," she stated wistfully.

"We can learn from Simon's mistake, though, Kahlan. We just need to trust each other and our love no matter what. We're one person now – one heart, one soul, one body. Whatever happens, we handle it…together."

"Forever," she murmured before she found his lips again.


"Well, I think we'll just make sure these rings don't cause any further trouble," Zedd said as he pitched the bands into the fire.

The campfire hissed, popped, and crackled from the magic that was imbedded in the rings as they melted from the intensity of the heat Zedd had created. Sighing, Zedd watched the rings lose their shape, relieved that no one else would be harmed by Simon's devices.

"It's too bad that Simon didn't treat his love with more respect and care," Zedd mumbled to himself, deep in thought.

"Love will only lead to pain," Cara speculated aloud, also gazing into the fire as the rings dissolved.

"Love carries risks, Cara, but it is always worth the venture."

"Was it worth what Simon and Miranda endured? The pain that Lord Rahl and Kahlan have been through?" Cara asked, eyes narrowed in contemplation.

"Simon went to obsessive extremes to protect the love that he had and, in so doing, he lost it. Richard and Kahlan, on the other hand, recognize and respect the fragility of love; they value it and it is sacred to them. There will still be ups and downs in their relationship, but they will survive it. Their love is pure; it's what binds them together, making them stronger," Zedd reflectively explained to the Mord'Sith.

"So far, all I have learned from it is pain," Cara sadly replied as thoughts of Leo weighed heavily on her mind. She wondered what would have happened had Leo not been killed by the Sisters of the Dark.

"Well, if you keep your heart open, I'm sure you'll find that love isn't all pain," Zedd told her, knowing that her thoughts were consumed with Leo. "Cara, I'm sorry about Leo. I wish that…"

"I don't want to talk about him," Cara interrupted, feeling her chest constrict with the turn in the conversation towards Leo. He was something special that she wished to keep to herself, not wanting to share him with anyone.

"I'm sorry, Cara. I didn't mean to bring up painful memories," he apologized as the Mord'Sith stood to her feet and began to walk away from the campsite.

"Thank you, Zedd," she softly murmured without turning back to the look at the Wizard.

Zedd smiled at the progress that their relationship was making. He was growing quite fond of the iron-willed Mord'Sith with a heart that gradually becoming softer. He couldn't take much credit for her transformation, though. He knew if it weren't for his grandson, she probably wouldn't even be alive right now.

Zedd just hoped that Cara would find true love someday, that she would allow herself to experience it, embrace it and value it above all else…just like the Seeker and his Confessor.