Renn trembled in fear as the guard took his arm and led him to the throne in the People's Palace. A man clad in blood red robes sat arrogantly and coldly on the throne. Renn gulped as cold blue eyes stared directly into his own eyes. Darken Rahl's eyes were so intense that Renn felt as if they were piercing his very soul. Renn couldn't help but think that even if Darken Rahl was not a Listener, he still somehow knew how to get into people's minds.

"Welcome, Listener," Darken Rahl spoke in a voice just as cold as his eyes. Renn gulped again. He had served several cold masters during his short life, but it appeared as if Darken Rahl was going to be the coldest of them all.

"Your name is Renn, I believe," Darken Rahl continued, his voice still lacking warmth.

"Yes, Lord Rahl," Renn answered as respectfully as possible, which was hard considering his obvious fear of the Midland's greatest enemy.

The smile that Darken Rahl gave Renn was as cold as his eyes and his voice. Renn gulped again and looked down at the floor.

"Look into my eyes, Renn," Darken Rahl's voice commanded in a voice of clear authority, in a voice that expected to be obeyed immediately.

Despite his fear, Renn immediately obeyed his new master's command. He once again looked into the cold blue eyes of Darken Rahl.

"You have looked into my eyes twice now," Darken Rahl said. "What do you see? What am I thinking?"

Renn concentrated on Darken Rahl's eyes like he had concentrated on many people's eyes during his short life. Darken Rahl, however, wasn't like anyone else that Renn had ever before come upon. As a Listener, Renn could read everyone, but he couldn't read Darken Rahl.

Renn did not read any thoughts, like he usually did whenever he was reading someone. Instead, he read a whirlwind of emotions. Anger. Mostly anger. But Renn could not read why Darken Rahl was so angry. Darken Rahl was thinking many thoughts at the same time, too many thoughts for Renn to make sense out of any of them. There were many reasons for Darken Rahl's anger, but there were too many reasons for Renn to read even one of them.

There were many emotions in Darken Rahl beside anger, but there were too many emotions for Renn to understand why the Master of D'hara was feeling any of them. There were too many emotions in Darken Rahl for Renn to pinpoint what any of them were. The emotions were there, but what exactly they were and the reasons behind them were lost in a fog, were lost in a thick cloud that no one could ever hope to see through.

Renn swayed on his feet. He felt dizzy and faint. He had always thought that his gift as a Listener was more of a curse than a blessing, but he had also always taken his gift for granted. Before this moment, Renn would have never thought that anyone could be unreadable to a Listener, but Darken Rahl was truly unreadable.

Darken Rahl smiled a cold, calculating smile as Renn collapsed to the floor.

"Tell me, Renn, did you really think that I was going to allow you to read me," Darken Rahl asked in a harsh, threatening voice. "Oh, no, no, Renn, you're here to read everyone except for me. I am your master, and servants aren't permitted to know their master's thoughts. You will never try to use your gift against me. Are we clear on that?"

This time, Renn couldn't meet Darken Rahl's eyes. "Yes, Lord Rahl," Renn gasped, "everything is clear. I understand. I will never try to read you. I promise."

"You should be careful about what you promise, Renn," Darken Rahl replied in a sharp, deadly voice. "I don't like people who break their promises. Just this once, Renn, I will allow you to read my mind. Look into my eyes. Now."

Even though he didn't want to, Renn did not dare disobey his new master. Once again he looked into Darken Rahl's cold blue eyes.

Once again Renn read emotions rather than thoughts, but the emotions were frightful. The emotions that Darken Rahl were feeling was that of one who knew how to give pain and of one who enjoyed delivering that pain. Darken Rahl's message was clear. If Renn ever disobeyed his new master, he would be tortured. Darken Rahl's promise was clear. If Renn ever betrayed his new master, unimaginable pain would be inflicted upon him. And even though Renn couldn't read Darken Rahl, his new master was allowing him to read him just enough to make sure that Renn knew and fully understood that Darken Rahl always kept his promises.