Darken Rahl had Nicci brought back to Jondralyn. He was so looking forward to their time together.

He left her in a cell for days, allowing her to wonder, to grow complacent.

To begin to starve.

He stood in the bathing chamber when he called for her.

His faithful Mord'Sith brought her to him, naked save for her chains and the Rada Han encircling her slender throat. At his nod they escorted her to the bath.

The Mord'Sith forced her down the steps leading into the water.

Nicci did not resist, recognizing the steel fist beneath the velvet glove.

They were gentle only because he wanted them to be, because he enjoyed the contrast.

The brute.

Her hair wafted through the water, diaphanous seaweed.

Rahl approached.

Nicci held her ground.

She was not that young acolyte anymore. Memories of that hard, sweaty, slash of red, tearing pain, confusion shame… the man who raped her. Twice.

Never again.

"Come here," Darken Rahl held out a gentle hand, palm up, kneeling at the edge of the pool. His sleeve trailed in the water, a serpent of blood.


He tilted his head, those expressive lightning eyes conveying more meaning than his words, "I am not so crass as to do what you dread."

She refused to look down.

She could not ignore the weight of the Rada Han.

The weight of her fear.

The weight of her powerlessness.

Rahl's expression soured, and he stood, turning away from her.

A tiny unwise bubble of relief floated up from the soles of her feet.

It reached her heart at the same time as the dacra Lord Rahl turned to throw, the train of his robe swirling dramatically around him.

He stalked back toward her, hand outstretched, a barely controlled storm of energy.

He inhaled and green energy flowed from Nicci to him.

She screamed.

"I am far worse," lightning crackling between his fingertips to match the lightning in his eyes, Darken Rahl electrified the water, a poetic justice.

"Wonderfully useful, dacra, aren't they?" he said to the smoldering corpse.

A/N: Shout out to my special artist friend who did such good work on "Measure of Affection" : Your email address didn't come through on the message. You need to turn your private messaging back on so I can communicate with you.