"We have to do something, Zedd," Richard said in a desperate voice. "We have to get Kahlan to Aydindril, and we can't be taking Darken Rahl with us."
"I'm trying to think of something, Richard," Zedd sighed.
"I've just finished with cooking breakfast, Mistress," Darken's voice suddenly said happily. He was almost singing as he spoke.
Richard turned around and watched as Darken approached, carrying a steaming plate full of eggs and ham.
"Is that supposed to feed all of us?" Zedd grumbled.
"I'm only responsible for looking after the needs of my mistress," Darken frowned. "You're definitely not her."
"Why must you always think with your stomach anyways, Wizard?" Cara asked in an annoyed voice.
"I'm going to need a full stomach if I'm ever going to be able to think of a solution to our little problem," Zedd replied humorlessly.
"I would say it's more than just a little problem," Richard mumbled under his breath.
Darken, meanwhile, bent down beside a fallen log that Kahlan was sitting on. He offered her the plate of eggs and ham, looking at her, as always, with a look of worshipful devotion.
"Thank you, Rahl," Kahlan smiled in appreciation, taking the plate from him. "It smells wonderful."
"Everything he cooks smells wonderful," Richard grumbled.
"You have to admit, Richard," Kahlan sighed, "that he knows how to cook."
"Oh, yes, he's Mr. Wonderful," Richard responded sarcastically.
"Are you jealous, Richard?" Kahlan smiled slyly.
"Of him?" Richard replied with contempt in his voice, nodding his head at Darken, who had a frown on his face that looked even more deadly than the frown on Richard's face.
"Are you trying to make my mistress angry?" Darken snarled, reaching for his sword hilt.
Enough was enough. They had been traveling with the Confessed Darken Rahl for almost a week now, and Richard couldn't stand it anymore. He was tired of competing for Kahlan's affections. Richard drew his sword. Quick as a flash, Darken had his sword drawn as well.
"Please, Richard, no," Kahlan pleaded.
Darken looked at his mistress in concern, having heard in her voice how upset she was. He then directed his attention back to Richard. Anger burned on Darken's face. How dare anyone upsets his mistress.
Darken's and Richard's swords clanged together, thus beginning what could have been an epic fight. This didn't happen, however. The two Rahl brothers, both of them now romantic rivals, had only clashed their swords together a few times when Darken ended the fight abruptly and rather unpleasantly by kicking Richard in what was a rather painful place for a man to be kicked at. Richard crumbled to the ground, crying in pain.
"Richard," Kahlan cried, rushing to his side.
"I'm sorry, Mistress," Darken whined. "He was making you upset, so I had to stop him."
Kahlan ignored Darken, her focus on Richard. Thinking that Kahlan was upset with him, Darken began to cry.
"This has to end," Richard gasped. "Now. I've almost had my shoulder yanked out it socket by him. I've been slapped by him. And now -"
"And now you've just had your balls kicked by him," Cara finished with a bright smile on her face.
"Thank you, Cara," Richard replied sarcastically. Cara's smile merely grew wider, clearly amused.
Darken was still crying, and his sobs were slowly but surely growing louder in volume. Kahlan turned to comfort him. She patted him on his shoulders, and she told him in a calming, soothing voice that all was forgiven and that she wasn't angry at him.
Darken smiled at Kahlan through his tears. "You're too kind to me, Mistress," he said. "How could I ever repay you?"
"There's nothing for you to repay," Kahlan replied.
Darken's smile grew wide. Then, he suddenly hugged Kahlan as a child would hug his mother. Kahlan was in momentary shock; but she quickly recovered, and she was suddenly hugging Darken back.
"We have to do something," Richard repeated from earlier, turning his back to the hugging Darken and Kahlan. "Now." He turned to Zedd. "Can't you do that spell of undoing on him, like you told us you did with both Cara and Dahlia?"
Zedd shook his head. "Don't you also remember me telling you what happened after I did the spell of undoing on Cara? Rahl had the power of Orden. Besides, that spell is way too unpredictable. I could accidentally undo Rahl, and that you would also mean undoing you, Richard. There's no telling what could be the results of such an action."
"You're right, Zedd," Richard sighed, clearly depressed.
"Don't worry, my boy," Zedd said in a reassuring voice. "I'll think of something. I'm bound to find something that I can use to un-Confess Rahl at the Wizard's Keep."
"But the Wizard's Keep is in Aydindril, Zedd," Richard replied. "We can't take Rahl there. Think of the consequences of such an action."
"It would be a disaster," Cara butted in.
"The Wizard's Keep is our only hope," Zedd responded. "We'll just tell Kahlan to tell Rahl to keep his hood up."
Richard turned his head. Darken and Kahlan were still hugging each other. Richard sighed. Going to the Wizard's Keep could prove to be disastrous, but what other choice did they have? There was no way in the world that Darken Rahl could be allowed to remain Confessed, and Richard knew that Kahlan would never allow him to kill Rahl. Much to Richard's displeasure, she had grown quite attached to the former tyrant. Perhaps that was just the way Kahlan was with all the Confessed people that traveled with her.
Richard turned back to Zedd. "The Wizard's Keep it is then."
Kahlan loved meadows. They really were beautiful, especially with all their flowers. Darken watched her, not too intently as he knew by now that made her uncomfortable, as she ate the dinner that he had cooked for her and as she looked at all the flowers lovingly.
Kahlan, Richard, Zedd, and Cara were all so intent on their dinner that they paid Darken no mind as he stood up and walked towards a patch of exceptionally beautiful flowers. They were of every color.
Darken grinned like a child as he yanked the flowers out the ground. He then walked back towards Kahlan and began to sing:
"Mistress, you're beautiful.
Mistress, these flowers
Pale in comparison to your beauty,
But please still accept
My humble gift to you,
My mistress and my love."
It could have been worse, Kahlan supposed. At least Darken Rahl could carry a tune, and Kahlan had to admit that his voice was that of seduction.
With a bright smile on his face, Darken held out the flowers towards Kahlan. She took them with a shy smile. Richard, Zedd, and Cara, meanwhile, were in such shock that they could only look on in horror. Yes, even Cara, the toughest of all the Mord-Sith, looked horrified.
Darken continued to sing:
"Mistress, I'll give you the world.
Mistress, I'll please you
Like you've never been pleased before.
Mistress, I love you
More than you could ever imagine.
Mistress, please give me a chance
To prove my love to you."
Kahlan could feel that her face was red. This was definitely the first time that a Confessed person had ever sang to her. True, a Confessed Darken Rahl could be cute at times, but Richard was right - Darken Rahl needed to be un-Confessed, as quickly as possible.
"Thank you for the song, Rahl," Kahlan managed to smile, "but perhaps you should rest your voice, in case I want you to sing to me later."
"Yes, Mistress, as you wish," Darken replied, bowing his head politely at Kahlan.
They couldn't get to Aydindril soon enough.
After weeks, too many weeks for everyone except Darken Rahl who was happy as long as Kahlan was near, they finally reached Aydindril. Zedd insisted on going to the Confessor's Palace to grab a bite to eat before going to the Wizard's Keep.
"Must you always think with your stomach, Wizard?" Cara grumbled. Like everyone else, she was on her last nerves when it came to the Confessed Darken Rahl. Obsessive love was beyond annoying.
"Now, Cara," Zedd growled, "I won't be able to concentrate on my research if my stomach is always grumbling. Besides, there's no telling how long it will take to find something useful."
Cara rolled her eyes.
"If we find anything useful," Richard mumbled.
"Don't worry, my boy," Zedd said reassuringly. "We'll find a way to un-Confess Rahl."
Richard didn't look convinced, but he nodded his head anyways.
"Well, then, let's go to the Confessor's Palace, so that we can all get something to eat," Kahlan spoke. "Then, you can all go to the Wizard's Keep, while I stay at the palace to take care of my state of affairs."
"What about me, Mistress?" Darken asked from beneath his hood, his blue eyes piercing into Kahlan's. "Where do you want me to go after we eat?"
"I don't want you around me anymore than necessary," Richard answered for Kahlan, "but I don't want you near Kahlan either. I guess we'll take you to the Wizard's Keep with us."
"Please, Mistress, don't force me to leave your side," Darken pleaded. "I'll be good. I promise. I won't give you any trouble. I'll do whatever you say. Just please, Mistress, don't force me to part from you."
It was clear to everyone that Darken Rahl was about to cry yet again.
"People are eventually going to ask questions if there's a hooded man following me everywhere," Kahlan replied patiently.
"But the Wizard's Keep is so far away from you, Mistress," Darken cried. A tear rolled down his face.
"You can stay in my bedchambers," Kahlan responded.
"What?" Richard bellowed, clearly shocked and outraged.
"I'm not going to take Rahl as my mate, Richard," Kahlan sighed. "You're the man that I love. You're the only man that I love. I just need to keep Rahl somewhere safe, and people will respect my wishes to stay out my bedchamber."
Richard didn't look happy, but he nodded his head anyways. Kahlan gently laid a hand on his shoulder. Darken's lip quivered, but he didn't cry or say anything.
"Let's get moving already," Cara butted in impatiently. "The sooner we get Rahl un-Confessed, the better."
It was nighttime, and Kahlan was exhausted. No, exhausted was not enough to describe how tired she was. There were no words that could ever describe how tired she was. And there was still so much work that needed to be done.
Kahlan closed and locked her bedchamber doors behind her after she entered the room. She immediately saw that Darken had been busy, very busy. Kahlan's bed was made to perfection. Everything in the room was perfect. Who would have ever thought that Darken Rahl could be such a wonderful housekeeper?
Darken watched Kahlan as she tried to untie the strings on her white Mother Confessor's dress. Unfortunately, Kahlan was so weary that her vision was blurred, and her fingers just wouldn't work.
"Please, Mistress, let me help you with your dress," Darken spoke, walking over to Kahlan.
Before Kahlan could say anything in protest, Darken was already working on untying her dress's strings. It was not long before Kahlan was only wearing her black corset. She somehow managed to keep her face from going red.
"Your bath is ready for you, Mistress," Darken said. "It should still be nice and warm."
"Thank you, Rahl," Kahlan replied. "Stay here."
"Yes, Mistress," Darken responded, bowing his head politely at her.
Kahlan walked into the next room and found a tub full of water and bubbles waiting for her. A bar of soap and a washcloth was also waiting for her. Kahlan slipped out her corset and stepped into the water. It was nice and warm. Kahlan settled down in the tub. This was exactly what she needed after a long day of attending to her duties as the Mother Confessor of the Midlands.
Kahlan reached for the bar of soap but dropped it into the water. She fumbled for the soap, but she was just too tired to find it. A string of rather unpleasant cuss words spilled out of Kahlan's mouth.
The door opened, and Darken came rushing in. "I'm here, Mistress," he cried. "What's wrong? What can I do to help?"
Kahlan quickly lowered herself, so that only her head and her neck were above water. She could feel her face beginning to turn red.
"I dropped my soap in the water, and I'm just too tired to find it," Kahlan somehow managed to say in a steady voice.
"I'll find your soap for you, Mistress," Darken responded. He walked over to the tub and began to fumble in the water for the elusive bar of soap.
Kahlan felt Darken's hand, so different from Richard's, brushing against her bare flesh several times during his search. Fortunately, his hand didn't touch anything private. Kahlan dimly wondered how red her face was. She prayed to the good spirits that Richard would not return anytime soon. How could she ever hope to explain this to him?
"I found it, Mistress," Darken suddenly cried in a triumphant voice, holding up that cursed bar of soap. Water dripped from his hand.
Kahlan held out her hand. Darken gently placed the bar of soap into her open palm.
"Thank you, Rahl," Kahlan said. "You may leave me now."
"I'll be nearby in case you need me anymore, Mistress," Darken replied, bowing deeply to her before leaving the room and closing the door behind him.
Kahlan released a sigh of relief. She was definitely thankful that Richard was still away. She was also thankful that there wasn't a single mirror in sight. There was no way that her face couldn't be a deep shade of red.
Kahlan, wearing a white nightdress that she wished wasn't made out of such thin material, stepped into her bedroom. Darken was standing beside her bed. This was a problem. The bed, even though it was big, was still only one bed. But Kahlan knew that she couldn't risk placing Darken in another room in the palace. He might be discovered.
Darken must have saw Kahlan's face going red when she looked at her bed because he said, "I can sleep on the floor, Mistress, if that will make you comfortable."
"Oh, no, no, Rahl, I won't make you sleep on the floor," Kahlan replied. "You can sleep beside me, in the bed." She couldn't believe that she had just said that. She had meant to share that bed with Richard. Kahlan quickly reminded herself, though, that she and Darken Rahl weren't doing anything bad. They wouldn't actually be sleeping with each other. They would just be sleeping beside each other. There was a big difference between the two.
Darken removed his shirt. Kahlan was about ready to hyperventilate, but she was too tired to tell Darken to put his shirt back on. As long as his pants remained on, everything would be just fine.
Darken and Kahlan laid side by side on the bed. Kahlan prayed to the good spirits that Richard wouldn't come busting into the bedchamber during the night. Kahlan quickly reminded herself that the doors were locked. She prayed to the good spirits that Richard wouldn't try to get Zedd to magically unlock the doors.
There were no disturbances during the night. There was no sight or sound of Richard. The good sprits were actually good for something every now and then.
The next morning Kahlan, wearing her white Mother Confessor's dress, walked into the Council Chamber. She sat down in her chair. Her sister, in her new body and wearing a black Confessor's dress, smiled at her. Kahlan weakly returned Dennee's smile.
They had not gotten far when the doors to the Council Chamber suddenly opened. Darken Rahl, wearing his blood red royal robes instead of the rags that Kahlan had become used to, casually strolled into the room.
Kahlan's eyes widened in confusion. She had commanded Darken to remain in her bedchamber, and she had definitely not commanded him to change clothes. She had not even known that he had brought his red robes with him.
Everyone else leapt to their feet in shock and in anger. The glare that Dennee gave Darken should have been more than enough to stop him in his tracks, but he merely smiled at her.
Darken held up a hand. A blue lightening bolt shot out his palm and struck the part of the table right in front of Kahlan. A rose beautifully blended of both white and red appeared where the bolt had struck.
Kahlan looked at the rose. Then, she looked at Darken. She didn't know what to say. She was confused. Darken's response was to smile seductively at her.
"Don't you like my rose, Kahlan?" Darken asked. "I made it just for you, my love."
"You're not Confessed anymore," Kahlan somehow managed to say, not knowing how that was possible. If Zedd had found a solution to un-Confessing Darken Rahl, he would have surely told her first.
"I have a confession to make," Darken smiled. "Isn't that funny? I have a confession to make. I was never Confessed, Kahlan."
"What?" Kahlan gasped.
"And as you can see from the lightening bolt and the rose that I just made," Darken continued, "I have magic again. Nicci's not looking too pretty at the moment, but she had no objections to me taking my dear brother's Han from her. I could have easily taken you down, Kahlan, when we bumped into each other in the woods near the People's Palace; but I have been fantasizing about your knives banging against my sword for some time now."
"Why?" Kahlan asked. "Why did you pretend to be Confessed? What do you want?"
"I want peace, of course, Kahlan," Darken answered. Kahlan looked at him with wide-eyes, speechless.
"I knew that the only way that I could ever enter the Confessor's Palace without any bloodshed was to pretend to be Confessed," Darken continued. "Don't you want the bloodshed to end, Kahlan? Don't you want peace and love?"
"You want peace and love?" Kahlan echoed with clear doubt in her voice.
"Of course I do, Kahlan," Darken laughed. "Shall we draw up a peace treaty, or would you like to fight again? I actually wouldn't object to the fighting option. I would love to roll around with you again."
Kahlan was once again speechless. Darken laughed again. "I have another confession to make, my dear Kahlan," he said with a smile on his face. "I actually enjoyed acting like I was Confessed. I had some good times. I got to almost yank my baby brother's shoulder out its socket. I got to slap him. Then, I got to kick him in his balls. I especially had good times with you, Kahlan, my love. You drinking water out my hand. You wrapping the cloak that I gave you around your body. You hugging me. You smiling at me all those times. And let's not forget the tub incident last light. And let's definitely not forget us sleeping side by side last night."
The smirk on Darken's face was more than enough to push Kahlan's last nerve. She walked towards him and prepared to slap that smirk right off his handsome face. Darken, however, was expecting exactly that; and he caught her hand before it could reach his face.
Kahlan attempted to slap Darken with her other hand, but he caught that hand as well. Darken and Kahlan began to struggle with each other, and they soon found themselves rolling around on the floor. Their limbs became entangled, and the train of Darken's robe also rolled itself around Kahlan's legs. Dennee and all the Council members just stood there, speechless and too shocked to say or do anything.
After some time of rolling around on the floor, Darken somehow managed to pull both himself and Kahlan to their feet. Darken also managed to untangle both his legs and his robe from Kahlan's legs.
Darken held Kahlan's back close to his chest with one hand. He stroked Kahlan's hair with his other hand. Kahlan struggled to pull away from Darken, but he was too strong. She growled in anger. Darken laughed. Kahlan Amnell was definitely a lioness.
"So, Kahlan," Darken said, "do you want peace or not?"
"What else do you want?" Kahlan snarled. "What's the catch?"
"There's no catch," Darken replied. "I won't even ask for your hand in marriage, at least not today. See, I can be a nice guy at times."
"Let me go," Kahlan ordered.
"Of course, my love." Darken released her. Quick as a flash, Kahlan spun around and slapped Darken on his face. Hard. Harder than any of his Mord-Sith could have ever slapped.
"Now I'm ready to talk peace," Kahlan smiled.
Darken rubbed his face where Kahlan had slapped him. He wasn't angry. He was proud. It wasn't often that people caught him by surprise, but then again, Kahlan Amnell wasn't just anyone. She was the Mother Confessor. She was a warrior, a fierce warrior. She was Darken Rahl's equal in more ways than one.
"I love you, Kahlan," Darken said with a bright smile on his face. Kahlan just stared at him, unable to say or do anything.
In less than ten minutes, Darken and Kahlan had agreed on peach terms. The head of the Council quickly wrote the terms out. Kahlan signed the document. Darken bent down to sign the document as well. Then, the doors to the Council Chambers suddenly opened again. Richard, Zedd, and Cara walked in, oblivious to what was going on in the room.
"I think I found a solution to our little problem, Kahlan," Zedd said brightly. "We need to get a magical artifact, but we need to go through an extremely dangerous swamp to reach that artifact."
"Never mind that, Zedd," Kahlan replied. "There was never any problem. Rahl was never Confessed. It was all an act."
Richard, Zedd, and Cara stared at Darken with disbelieving wide-eyes. Darken Rahl had truly fooled them all, but then again, Darken Rahl was the master at manipulation.
Darken signed the treaty. "We're at peace now," he smiled. "There will be no more war between D'hara and the Midlands. Kahlan and I have come to an agreement that we can both be satisfied with."
Richard, Zedd, and Cara were still speechless. Yes, even Cara, the Queen of Sarcasm, had nothing to say.
Darken suddenly kissed Kahlan on her lips. Kahlan attempted to pull away from him, but he pulled her closer to him. It was not a long kiss, but it was definitely a passionate one from Darken's point of view. And even Kahlan had to admit, not out loud of course, that the kiss had not been too bad. It had actually been pretty good.
After the kiss, Darken backed away from Kahlan's slap range. He smiled at her.
"Admit it, Kahlan," Darken breathed in a sexy voice, "I'm a better kisser than Richard."
Kahlan could only stare at him in silence, along with everyone else in the Council Chamber, including an extremely jealous Richard who truly believed that a part of Kahlan had actually enjoyed Darken Rahl's kiss.
Darken Rahl's childlike, joyous laughter filled the room.
Darken Rahl had played the part of a Confessed person with style. Darken Rahl had won peace for his people with style. But then again, Darken Rahl did everything with style, epic style to be more precise.