The Keeper had been defeated, and Darken Rahl felt like celebrating. His Mord-Sith had all been eager to please him, but after being in the underworld for so long, Darken really wanted to leave his palace. It was starting to become confining, much like the underworld had quickly become confining. True, Darken's palace wasn't full of naked, withering people, but he still needed a serious break from all those walls. Darken remembered how much fun he had had with his brother out in the woods. Okay, so the almost dying part had not been fun, but there was a sense of freedom in the woods. Darken had never felt that sense in his palace, so he decided that he was going to go for a walk in the woods. He would, of course, go alone. After all those naked people he had seen in the underworld, he really needed some time away from other humans.

As the sun was rising, Darken climbed out his bedroom window. He could have, of course, used the front door, but he didn't want anyone to know that he was leaving because they would then insist on accompanying him. After the incident with Nicci, the Mord-Sith had especially became paranoid with protecting their Lord Rahl.

Darken wished that his bed chambers were not so high up, but there happened to be long piece of rope laying beside his bed. The Mord-Sith really could be kinky at times. Using the rope, Darken swung out his window in an almost overdramatic way (his shoulder-length dark hair swishing epically), scaled down the wall with wonderful aerial movements, and landed catlike on the ground below. Darken seriously doubted that his brother could have completed that feat with as much style. Yeah, Lord Darken Rahl, the Master of D'hara, had a lot of style, epic style to be more precise.

As Darken began walking away from his palace, he pulled up the hood of his raggedy black cloak. Yes, the great Darken Rahl himself was once again wearing rags because he knew that there was always a chance that he could come across someone during his walk in the woods. He definitely didn't want to be recognized by his clothes, and he definitely didn't want anyone who hated him trying to assassinate him. Darken took his sword with him, of course, and he knew how to use it with a whole lot more epic style than the Seeker knew how to use his sword; but Darken Rahl was not a fool. He was not willing to take any chances. He didn't want to die again. After having spent most of his life as a servant to the Keeper, Darken wanted to enjoy his freedom. He wanted to enjoy his life.

The sun had barely risen by the time that Darken made it to the woods. He could have ridden a horse, of course, but there was something appealing about walking. Besides, now that he was alive again, Darken wanted to make sure that he was in good shape. It was only a matter of time before the people of the Midlands decided that they wanted to kill him again, and he definitely would not be able to take them on if he was out of shape.

At noon Darken stopped to have some lunch, which consisted of two apples and a rabbit he had brought down with a dagger. Yes, that's right, along with his sword, Darken had also brought his trusty dagger along with him. Even though few people knew it, Darken Rahl was extremely talented at throwing a dagger.

Darken was halfway through his second apple when he suddenly heard the sound of footsteps coming from behind him. Faster than the eye could blink, Darken spun around, threw aside his half-eaten apple, and was up on his feet, sword in hand. Then, he suddenly found himself face to face with Kahlan Amnell, the Mother Confessor.

She was all alone. What? Where was the Seeker? Where was the wizard? Where was Cara? Surely Richard would never allow his beloved Kahlan to stroll about the woods all by herself. Something must have happened to her companions, but Darken was much too focused on Kahlan to spare them much thought.

Kahlan was as beautiful as ever. That purple leather dress really looked sexy on her, and her blue eyes were intoxicating, even though they were currently narrowed and almost literally blazing in anger.

Faster than the eye could blink, Kahlan had both her knives drawn and pointed at Darken. Her mouth was twisted in a snarl. By the Creator, her face had never looked more beautiful. Such passion! Such intoxicating passion!

"What are you doing here, Rahl?" Kahlan growled. By the Creator, her voice was sexy when she was angry.

"I could ask the same of you, my love," Darken smirked.

"I'm not your love," Kahlan shrieked. Kahlan definitely was the first woman that Darken had ever met that made shrieking sound so attractive and so seductive.

Kahlan attacked Darken so quickly and with so much ferocity that he barely had time to bring his sword up to block the thrushes of Kahlan's knives. Being the extremely resourceful man that he was, though, Darken was soon able to get into the motion of the battle. This was definitely Darken Rahl's fantasy come to life.

"I've had dreams about you, Kahlan, my love," Darken purred as he swung his sword toward Kahlan's throat, forcing her to pull her head down backwards in order to avoid the thrust. Now Darken was really aroused.

"I'm not your love!" Kahlan screamed as both her knives struck Darken's sword with a loud clang. Her face was really twisted in anger now, but if anything, she looked even more beautiful than before.

"Richard is not here, Kahlan," Darken smiled seductively. "You don't have to hide your feelings for me anymore."

Kahlan screamed again. By the Creator, her scream was beautiful. Then, she began to attack Darken with even more aggression than before. Darken knew that he was in the fight of his life, but he couldn't have been happier. Fighting Kahlan was so much more pleasurable than fighting Richard. Fighting Kahlan was even more pleasurable than stabbing and spinning those pesky Sisters of the Dark.

As Darken and Kahlan twirled and spun around in perfect motion with their weapons, Darken had a cheerful smile on his face, while Kahlan had a snarl on her face that could have melted ice even in the coldest of weather.

Darken didn't know how long he and Kahlan had been fighting when his sword finally knocked one of Kahlan's knives out her hand. Being the lioness that she was, though, that did not detour her for long. Kahlan threw herself at Darken with such velocity that he was barely able to prevent her from stabbing him in his heart with her remaining knife. Kahlan's momentum, though, still knocked both of them to the ground. Darken landed hard on his back, but he barely felt the pain. All that mattered to him was a certain Mother Confessor.

Kahlan's hand, her beautiful hand, had Darken's much bigger hand pinned to the ground. It was the hand that held his sword, which was now laying uselessly on the ground. Darken only dimly noticed this, though. Kahlan was right on top of him!

Kahlan's remaining knife was in her free hand. She released a beautiful scream as she brought her knife down towards Darken's throat. Darken managed to stop her knife with his free hand. After a brief but intense struggle, Darken also managed to pry the knife from Kahlan's hand. He tossed the knife away from both of them.

Kahlan screamed yet again, and then suddenly she and Darken were rolling around on the ground. Darken lost his grip on his sword, and he and Kahlan rolled away from it.

This was better than anything that Darken had ever done with any of his Mord-Sith, including that one time when he had been bound naked to his bed, with a naked Cara standing over him with her Agiel in her hand. Darken had the rope that he had used to escape from his palace looped around his belt. He hoped that he would be able to pursue Kahlan to be more cooperative. There weren't any bed posts nearby, but there were plenty of trees that were handy. Darken wondered if Richard had ever allow Kahlan to try him up naked. Darken would gladly allow Kahlan to try him up naked, just as long as she was naked as well. Things were definitely going to get fun and interesting before the day was up.

Darken and Kahlan were both panting as they continued their battle on the ground. Their limbs had become entangled. Then, Kahlan's hand somehow managed to grasp Darken's throat. Kahlan wasn't even thinking about releasing her Confessor power into Darken. His soul, after all, was immune to Confession. No, the only thought on Kahlan's mind was choking the life out of Darken Rahl. That didn't happen, however. No, something far worse happened instead.

"Mistress, command me," Darken suddenly breathed in a voice of total worship.

Kahlan was so shocked that she was momentarily struck speechless. Her legs were wrapped around Darken's legs, but she was only dimly aware of that. Somehow, the potion that Giller had made, the potion that protected anyone who drank it against Confession, had failed. She had just Confessed Darken Rahl!

Darken was looking up at Kahlan with so much worshipful adoration that it sent unpleasant chills down her spine. She had seen that expression on so many people's faces, but she had never expected to see that expression on Darken Rahl's face.

"Mistress, have I done something to anger you?" Darken cried in distress. There were actually tears running down his face.

Kahlan was still in too much shock to answer.

"If I have done something to upset you, Mistress," Darken continued, "please let me make it up to you. I want to make you happy. I want to serve you. I live only to make your life better, Mistress. Please tell me how I can make you happy. I love you so much, Mistress." Darken then took Kahlan's hand and began to kiss it with great passion.

Kahlan was still in too much shock to even yank her hand away from Darken's foul kisses.

Darken began to sob violently. He looked so pathetic that Kahlan couldn't help but feel some pity for him.

"Mistress," Darken sobbed between his passionate but desperate kisses to Kahlan's hand, "if you are so angry at me that you will never be able to forgive me, please tell me how you wish me to kill myself. What method of death would give you the most pleasure, Mistress?"

Kahlan yanked her hand away from Darken's mouth. "Stop with that crying," she snapped. Never before had she ever thought that she would ever see Darken Rahl himself crying like a big baby.

"Yes, Mistress," Darken replied in a voice that clearly said that he was desperate to do anything to please her. That was the way it was with anyone that Kahlan Confessed, but the thought of a Confessed Darken Rahl had never before crossed her mind. What was she going to do with him?

Kahlan attempted to disentangle herself from Darken. Seeing this, Darken quickly made it his quest to help her out. At a surprisingly quick rate, they were soon free of each other's limbs, both breathing heavily as they sat across from each other.

"I've made you tired, Mistress," Darken said sadly, clearly filled with great regret. "Please forgive me. Please let me make it up to you somehow. Can I get you something? Would you like some water to drink? I would offer you some of my own water. but I've already drank from it. Please forgive me. I know these woods, Mistress. I've often walked through them as a boy. There's a river nearby. I can take you there, Mistress, if you're thirsty."

Kahlan had to admit that she was parched from her battle with Darken. It had definitely been intense, probably the most intense battle she had ever been involved in. She had to admit that Darken was definitely an excellent swordsman and overall an excellent fighter. Even though Kahlan despised Darken Rahl with a burning passion, she had to admit that keeping him alive could be useful.

"Yes, I'm thirsty," Kahlan replied, "and I'm afraid that I've left my water with Richard, Zedd, and Cara. They're not that far away. I was looking for firewood to cook lunch with when I came upon you. Take me to this river, Rahl. Then, we'll go to Richard and the others."

"I'm sorry for keeping you from being able to cook lunch," Darken cried, leaping gracefully to his feet. He held out a hand for Kahlan, who was still sitting on the ground. She glared at it for a moment before finally taking it. She then allowed Darken to help her to her feet. He had a smile on his face because he had just helped her. That smile quickly fade, though, as Darken once again became desperate to please her.

"Please, Mistress, let me take you to the river. Then, please, Mistress, let me make you something to eat. I'm actually quite a good cook."

"Just take me to the river, Rahl, " Kahlan sighed. "Richard can cook lunch for me."

Darken's face fell. "I know how to cook, Mistress. I really do. Don't let Richard serve you. Please let me serve you."

"You can help Richard," Kahlan somehow managed to say patiently. After all, she was used to the way that Confessed people acted towards her. "How does that sound?"

"If that makes you happy, Mistress," Darken replied, "then it sounds wonderful to me. Please, Mistress, follow me. The river is not that far away, and the water is cool and clean. You'll see."

Darken quickly gathered his and Kahlan's weapons. He sheathed his sword, and he lovingly gave Kahlan both her knives. She quickly sheathed them. Then, Darken, still lovingly, took Kahlan's hand and, in his eagerness to please her as quickly as possible, half-dragged her as he began to run in the direction of the river.

"You don't have to go this fast," Kahlan cried. There was no way that she could keep up with Darken's pace for long, and if he didn't slow down, he would soon be completely dragging her.

Darken slowed to a quick walk as he turned his head to look at Kahlan. "Have I hurt you, Mistress?" he cried. There were tears in his eyes at the thought that he might have unintentionally harmed her in anyway.

Kahlan definitely didn't want Darken crying again. She knew that she would probably scream if she ever again saw such a pathetic sight.

" No," Kahlan said quickly, "you did not hurt me. You were just going a little too fast for me."

"Oh, Mistress, I'm sorry, please forgive me."

"It's okay," Kahlan replied without thinking. The only thought in her mind was making sure that Darken didn't collapse into tears again. "I'm thankful, Rahl, that you are so eager to please me."

"Does that make you happy, Mistress?" Darken asked desperately. "Yes, it does," Kahlan answered. His eyes twinkling, Darken smiled brightly at her, and she had to admit that he looked adorable when he was smiling in such a fashion. The sight warmed her so much that she didn't even mind that Darken was still holding her hand.

At a steady but comfortable pace, Darken led Kahlan to the river. He kneeled beside the bank. He released Kahlan's hand and preceded ran both his hands through the water, hoping to make them as clean as possible. Darken worked as quickly as possible, wanting to satisfy Kahlan as soon as possible, but he was proficient in his make-do hand washing.

After Darken was satisfied that his hands were as clean as they were going to get considering the present circumstances, he gathered water in one of is hands. He lifted up his fingers, so that the water would stay in his palm. Then, Darken lifted his hand up to Kahlan in the fashion of someone giving a worshipful offer.

Kahlan could barely believe her eyes. Darken Rahl wanted her to drink water out his hand!

Darken saw the look on her face. "What's wrong, Mistress?" he asked. "Is it me? Have I done something to displease you?"

Wanting to avoid something unpleasant happening, Kahlan kneeled beside Darken and drank the water out his hand. Darken scooped more water up into the palm of his hand for Kahlan to drink several more times until she told him that she was satisfied. Darken smiled like a little boy, clearly happy that he had pleased his mistress.

Darken lovingly took Kahlan's hand. Feeling slightly defiled from having drunk water out Darken's hand, Kahlan glared at him. Whimpering, Darken quickly pulled his hand away. His bottom lip quivered. He had displeased his mistress yet again!

Where were the good spirits when you needed them? Darken Rahl was about to cry again. He definitely was the most emotional Confessed person that Kahlan had ever seen.

Kahlan quickly grabbed Darken's hand and forced herself to smile pleasantly at him. The smile must have been convincing because Darken smiled happily at her.

"Let's go to my friends now," Kahlan said.

"I'll do anything as long as it pleases you, Mistress," Darken replied. "I'll kill for you. I'll die for you."

"I don't require you to do either at the moment," Kahlan quickly responded, fearful that Darken would suddenly draw his sword and do damage to himself.

"I'm happy to live only for as long as it makes you happy, Mistress," Darken smiled brightly. Kahlan somehow managed to keep her face free of emotion. She was starting to think that a Confessed Darken Rahl might not be such a good thing after all.

"Weren't you supposed to get some firewood, Mistress?" Darken suddenly asked.

"Yes," Kahlan answered.

"I'll get you some," Darken responded eagerly. For the second time that day, he half-dragged Kahlan. This time, though, Kahlan decided not to say anything. It wasn't worth the tears.

"Kahlan should be back by now," Richard said in a worried voice. "I shouldn't have let her gone off by herself." Several dead rabbits laid beside him, ready to be cooked as soon as Kahlan returned with the firewood.

"Don't worry, Richard," Cara replied in a slightly annoyed voice. "Kahlan's a big girl. She can take care of herself." Cara was actually glad that Kahlan had been gone for awhile. Ever since Richard and Kahlan had finally discovered that they could safely be together, they had practically been joined at the hip.

The worried look did not disappear from Richard's face.

"I'll go look for her," Cara sighed, getting to her feet. "No doubt the wizard is getting hungry." Zedd merely smiled at her.

Cara had barely taken a few steps when Kahlan suddenly emerged from between two trees. But Kahlan was not alone! Darken Rahl, who was clutching a bundle of firewood to his chest with his free arm, was with her! And Darken Rahl and Kahlan were holding hands!

Richard quickly drew his sword as he also got to his feet. He was the angriest that Cara had ever seen him. Cara figured it was the hand-holding that had really struck one of Richard's sensitive nerves.

Zedd got to his feet as well and prepared to cast Wizard's fire at Darken. Richard, meanwhile, took a step towards Darken and Kahlan. For good measure, Cara casually drew both her Agiels.

"Are they about to attack us, Mistress?" Darken asked both worryingly and angrily. It was not anger towards Kahlan, of course. It was anger towards the people that might possibly try to harm his mistress.

Darken released Kahlan's hand and gently but firmly pushed her behind him. He then drew his sword, ready to defend his mistress's life at any cost, even at the cost of his own life.

"I will not allow any of you to hurt my mistress," Darken growled dangerously, his eyes blazing with anger. "I'll kill all of you. I'll do whatever it takes to protect my mistress."

Richard, Zedd, and Cara were all in shock. Richard and Cara lowered their weapons. Zedd lowered his hand.

"Mistress?" Richard exclaimed in shock. "He's been Confessed?"

"Yes, Richard," Kahlan answered calmly.

"How?" Richard gasped.

"The potion that Giller made must not have been permanent," Kahlan replied. She then turned to Darken. "Put your sword up, Rahl. None of them mean us any harm."

Darken quickly obeyed Kahlan's command. Richard and Cara also sheathed their weapons.

Darken suddenly lunged at Richard. He almost yanked Richard's arm out his shoulder's socket. Richard cried out in pain.

"My mistress told me to allow you to help me make her lunch," Darken growled. "You better not slow me down. I will not allow you to displease my mistress by making her wait."

"Rahl, let him go," Kahlan ordered angrily. "You're hurting him."

Darken quickly released Richard. He then fell on his knees in front of Kahlan, and he began to cry. "I'm sorry, Mistress. I'm so sorry. I've made you angry. I've made you very angry. I shouldn't have done that. I shouldn't have done that. I'm so sorry, Mistress. I'm not worthy of your forgiveness. Do you wish for me to kill myself, Mistress?" Darken then took Kahlan's hand and, for the second time that day, he began to kiss it. Both his kisses and his tears fell onto Kahlan's hand.

Richard's, Zedd's, and Cara's jaws dropped down, and their eyes went wide. Darken Rahl was actually crying. Darken Rahl was actually willing to kill himself if Kahlan gave the word. Darken Rahl was kissing Kahlan's hand!

"I forgive you," Kahlan cried. "Now help Richard with lunch, but please, don't be too overeager."

Darken gave Kahlan's hand one last kiss before getting up. "Thank you, Mistress," he said. "You're much too kind to me. You're both beautiful and compassionate. I'll try my best to make it up to you, even though I know that I could never be good enough for you. You're a wonderful mistress. There's no better mistress than you. I love you. I love you so much."

Cara somehow managed to keep herself from gagging. Zedd looked horrified. Richard didn't know what to think.

Darken turned to Richard. "Let's get lunch prepared, so that my mistress can eat."

Darkness had fallen over Darken, Kahlan, Richard, Zedd, and Cara. There was a slight chill in the air.

Darken quickly got a fire started. He then saw that his mistress was shivering ever so slightly. Darken took off his black cloak and draped it around Kahlan's shoulders.

"I wish that I had a silk cloak or a velvet cloak to give you, Mistress," Darken whined. "You really deserve so much better than what I gave you."

"This cloak is just fine, Rahl," Kahlan smiled in appreciation. "Thank you. I feel much warmer now."

"I'm so happy to hear that, Mistress," Darken replied happily, almost dancing in his joy.

Kahlan gently took Darken's hand and led him down to a sitting position beside the fire as she also settled herself down. She wrapped Darken's black cloak around herself. Darken smiled at her as he bounced slightly. Kahlan somehow managed to keep herself from laughing. A Confessed Darken Rahl could definitely be cute at times.

Richard, Zedd, and Cara also sat down beside the fire. Richard strategically placed himself at Kahlan's Darken-free side. Only Darken failed to notice this. His only focus was Kahlan and being ready to do whatever she asked of him at a moment's notice.

"Would you like something to eat, Mistress?" Darken asked. "I still have some apples."

"An apple sounds nice," Kahlan replied.

Darken pulled an apple out his traveling back and handed it to Kahlan with a bright smile and with worshipful adoration and devotion in his eyes. Kahlan took several bites and swallowed. Darken watched her intently. Kahlan tried not to show how uneasy Darken's gaze made her, but he must have noticed because he looked slightly away. He still had his eyes on her, of course, but he wasn't looking at her directly anymore.

Kahlan ate about half the apple and placed the remaining half on her lap.

"Was there something wrong with the apple, Mistress?" Darken asked worryingly.

"No, Rahl," Kahlan answered reassuringly, "the apple is just fine. I've just had enough to eat for now." Darken released a sigh of relief.

"Well, I'm hungry," Richard butted in. He took the half-eaten apple from Kahlan's lap.

Faster than the eye could blink, Darken leapt to his feet and slapped Richard across his face. Hard.

"That apple is for my mistress, not you," Darken growled. "How dare you defile what belongs to my mistress. I should kill you for dishonoring her like that." Darken reached for his sword's hilt.

"Rahl, leave him alone," Kahlan snarled. "That's enough. That's more than enough."

Faster than the eye could blink, Darken turned from angry to depressed. He immediately abandoned any thought of drawing his sword and using it against Richard. "I've made you angry again, Mistress," he whimpered.

Knowing what was about to happen and now in the mood for it, Kahlan shoot to her feet. She backed away from Darken, who crawled towards her in a fashion that could only be described as both creepy and pathetic.

"I'm sorry for being bad, Mistress," Darken whined. "If you are willing to spare my life, I promise I'll try to be better from now on. I can be good. I really can be good. You'll see, Mistress."

Kahlan screamed loudly, turned around, and took off running.

Darken scrambled to his feet, ready to run after his mistress. There was no telling what dangers were waiting out there in the darkness.

Kahlan, still running, turned her head just enough to see that Darken intended to come after her.

"Leave me alone, Rahl!" Kahlan screamed. "Just leave me alone for a little while!" She quickly disappeared into the darkness.

Richard, like Darken, was concerned about Kahlan's safety, but he had the sense to realize that Kahlan desperately needed some time alone. Richard would talk to her later.

Darken collapsed to his knees and once again began to cry.

"Well, at least he keeps things entertaining around here," Cara said brightly, nodding her head at the sobbing Darken.

Richard ignored Cara. He instead turned to his grandfather. "Zedd, we desperately need to find a way to un-Confess Rahl."