This story is a continuation of my series that started with The Guardian and picks up where Call of the Underworld left off.
Kahlan opened her eyes slowly, enjoying the feel of waking in Richard's embrace. Never did she feel so protected as when his strong arms were wrapped around her. The harrowing night was over for them. Richard had taken the mark of the Keeper back from Kahlan, freeing her from the beast's hold. He had still held the magic pendant in his hand when he'd been saved by Cara's breath of life, yanking him back from the grip of the Underworld before he could turn it over to the Keeper. It hung from his neck now.
So spent from their ordeal they had fallen asleep in each other's arms, Kahlan still in her Confessor's dress, Richard having at least pulled off his shirt before collapsing. Her face rested against his bare chest as they clung tightly to each other throughout the night, finding solace in each other's arms. Before drifting off, Richard had shared with her much of what he'd learned from the books of the Wizard's Keep. Kahlan was relieved to know that the pendant he now wore, the Pendant of Life, protected him from the life bleeding magic of the Keeper's mark.
Slowly rousing from sleep, she smiled now, watching him as he slept, his even breathing letting her know he was very much alive and at rest. She brought her cheek to his wanting to feel his warmth.
He didn't open his eyes, but his arms pulled her closer, letting her know he wasn't fully asleep. Still warm and soft from sleeping, she caressed his cheek with hers, leaving gentle kisses across his face. She brushed aside the hair at his temple with her lips, kissing him tenderly.
Still in the fog of sleep, Richard found her gentleness seductive. He slid his big hands down her back, pulling her close, softly rubbing his face to hers. He had yet to open his eyes; the feel of her touch heightened in his darkness, he savored the feel of her against him.
Kahlan liked the roughness of his face on hers. She twisted her fingers into his hair, her mouth seeking his. She caught his lips with hers, gently pulling him into her kiss. She had missed him so desperately when he'd gone in search of the Stone. They had barely had a chance to be together before he'd had to leave. She was eager to be one with him once more.
Kahlan rolled over him, leaning forward to kiss him, letting her hair fall against his bare chest. He loved the feel of her long hair, his heart beat faster as its silkiness played across his skin. "Did you miss me, Richard?" she whispered into his ear. He gathered fistfuls of her thick mane and gave a passionate kiss to her neck. "More than you could ever know."
Her hands smoothed over his chest, pressing him further into the soft bedding as she kissed his muscled torso. She wanted to taste every inch of him. She pressed her face to his chest and held tight, feeling his wild heartbeat against her cheek. Richard took hold of her shoulders and pulled her to him, needing her mouth on his. He slowly pulled at the laces of her dress, easily slipping it from her shoulders as they kissed.
Washing over him like the slow flowing waves of the sea, Kahlan's soft curves moved through his hands. So consumed by her as she made love to him, he could barely control his breathing. Richard focused on the feel of her lush body, her easy motion, her soft skin. His breathing soon matched her gentle rhythm. Fully intoxicated by her, he breathed her name; "Kaahlan." His labored whisper stoked the fire within her. Kahlan's heated desire longed to devour them both but she held back, fighting to keep it in check. They'd have plenty of time for frantic desire another day. This morning they would indulge in quiet passion. She leaned in, tenderly taking his lips in hers.
Kahlan quickly made her way down the large hall, her white dress billowing out behind her. She was late for her session with the Confessor's Council. She smiled to herself remembering why she was late and wondered how the council would react if she told them the truth…that she had been in the arms of the Seeker...how could she possibly tear herself away from his kiss to preside over yet another drawn out meeting? She scolded herself: She was the Mother Confessor, surely she should show some decorum.
A guard on either side of the entrance saw her approaching and pushed open the heavy oak doors. Kahlan slowed to a modest pace just as she reached them. Her face, flush from rushing held a smile. "Good morning," she offered as she passed through. At seeing her enter, all of the men at the table stood and gave a slight bow of their heads. The few women on the council simply tipped their heads in respect. Looking as cool and calm as ever Kahlan took her seat in the large ornate chair reserved for the Mother Confessor. "Good morning. Gentlemen, please be seated. I apologize for my late arrival. The Seeker of Truth required my... council this morning and I felt I should attend to his need first."
Richard waited in the palace library for Zedd. They had several more books they wanted to read through that Zedd had found in the Keep. He knew the wizard would look for him here when he didn't find him at breakfast. Richard had preferred sleeping in with Kahlan this morning to eating. He smiled to himself as he remembered the morning. He had been ready to tell her what was on his mind these past few weeks: He had always known that once the Stone was found and the Keeper was defeated, he wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of his days with her by his side. Now that they knew they could be together, in an intimate way, they could be married. Kahlan would never need to take a mate to continue the line, she could take a husband. He had nearly gotten the words out too, before Agatha had interrupted them. As they stood in her Chamber, ready to go their separate ways for the morning, he'd held her hands in his. "I want you beside me forever, Kahlan." In reply, she had smiled up at him with her beautiful blue eyes, completely disarming him. Agatha had barely knocked on the door before entering, ending the moment. Richard was glad she at least hadn't come sooner when they still lay in each other's embrace.
"There you are!" Zedd bellowed, interrupting his thoughts. "Sleeping in a bit late this morning? I guess after the night you've had you've earned it." Richard smiled a bit shyly thinking back to the real reason he was late. Cara took her place at the door, standing guard against any intrusion. Richard held up the book he'd been reading last night, the one that revealed secrets about the Pendant of Life. "Shall we get started?"
"I'm afraid the reports are accurate, Mother Confessor. Our emissaries tell us that Glenmore is in an uproar over the Seeker's presence here. They believe, as the new Lord Rahl, he has his sites set on Aydindril and, in short order, all the Midlands." Minister Dunn sat nearest to the Mother Confessor on her left. His proximity was by decree, as Minister of Peace for all the Midland's, he was a man of considerable standing. Kahlan took his council seriously.
"Where would they get such a notion? The Seeker won't even take the title of Lord Rahl."
"We have not been able to get to the bottom of that as of yet. What we thought was a small insurrection with just a handful of misguided people has grown five-fold seemingly over night." Dunn took a deep breath, "It appears that being the true heir is enough. He is of Rahl blood: People are terrified he's no different from his brother, if not worse."
Kahlan found herself growing angry. After all Richard had done to help these people, how could they possible hold him responsible for what Darken Rahl had done? Her tone showed her displeasure "He killed the previous Lord Rahl."
Dunn could barely meet her eye, "They believe he killed him to make way for himself."
Kahlan was incredulous: After all the sacrifices, all the spilled blood, all the countless times of nearly being killed... Though she fumed inside, her face held a blank expression.
The council members shifted uneasily in their seats. They knew all too well the turmoil that could lurk behind the seemingly serene face of a Confessor.
Kahlan raised her chin, meeting the eye of each council member before continuing. "I think Glenmore is in need of a visit from the Mother Confessor." She stood, causing all of the men to jump to their feet. She addressed Minister Dunn, "Pull together a small delegation of council members to join me. We leave within the hour." She would put an end to this injustice at once. No one would threaten Richard, not while there was breath in her lungs. Without waiting for a response, she turned to leave. Guards respectfully stepped back as she made her way from the council chambers.
Kahlan immediately went in search of Richard. She would need to tell him of her decision. He would not be happy that she expected him to remain in Aydindril.