Darken Rahl didn't know why this particular woman caught his eye, and he really didn't care. She was carrying a basket of red flowers, and red symbolized the House of Rahl; but Darken Rahl was not the type to go after a woman just because she was carrying red flowers. There was nothing remarkable or special about this woman. Oh, she was pretty enough, but she was far from being extremely beautiful. And there had been no remarkable or special emotions in this woman's eyes as she had walked past him. She was not dressed in a way that was sexually suggestive. She wasn't a woman looking for a moment of pleasure. She had not even met his eyes. As far as she was concerned, he was nothing more than just another ordinary man in the market. How wrong she was. It really was amazing how the clothes you wore affected the way that people regarded you. This woman, unlike him, was nothing more than someone going about their daily business. She had no great goals in life. She had no extraordinary ambition or motivations. She was nothing more than just your typical, simple woman. Yet Darken Rahl still wanted her.

Darken Rahl finished eating his apple, a red apple of course, as he watched the woman walking away from him. After months in the underworld, an apple tasted real good. No, it tasted beyond good. Maybe that was why he was so into this woman. After months in the underworld, he had lowered his standards. He just wanted to experience the simple pleasures of life, the simple pleasures of life that he had been denied since he had given his soul to the Keeper as a young boy.

Oh, he had always enjoyed apples. He had always preferred simple food over the food that nobles were accustomed to. As a boy, he had often secretly wished that he was not the son of a noble. He had often secretly wished that he was anyone but Darken Rahl, son of Panis Rahl. Perhaps he would have been happier if he had been the son of a common man. But that didn't make sense. Darken Rahl admired himself for being different from everyone else, for not being common. Perhaps he would have been happier if he had merely been the son of any noble but Panis Rahl.

Women were definitely different from food. Darken Rahl liked simple food, but he didn't like simple women. He himself was a man of many complexities, so he wanted a complex woman. Kahlan Amnell, the Mother Confessor, definitely fitted that requirement. Only a few Confessors had the ability to go under the Con Dar because only a few Confessors were capable of expressing both love and hate at the same extreme levels at the same exact moment. In fact, Kahlan was the only person that Darken Rahl had ever met in both life and death that was that way.

It didn't matter at all why he wanted the woman whose back he was keeping a close eye on. All that mattered was that he was going to have her. In the end, Darken Rahl always got what he wanted. It was one of his few consolations in both life and death. And one day he would have what he truly wanted.

Darken Rahl began to walk after the woman, the pathetically simple woman. It did not take long before he was walking at the woman's side. She had not been walking quickly. She had not been in any hurry. But Darken Rahl was in a hurry. He had work to do. He really shouldn't be wasting his time with this woman, but after months in the underworld, he needed a quick moment of pleasure.

Darken Rahl was not expecting to be left satisfied by this woman. Sex was meaningless as far as he was concerned. Whenever he had been in the mood, he had indulged in the pleasures of the flesh. It felt good while it was happening, but he had always felt empty and unsatisfied afterwards. Sex was nothing more than just temporary pleasure, but it was still enjoyable while it lasted.

The woman noticed that she had company. She glanced at him. From underneath the hood of his raggedy black cloak, Darken Rahl smiled seductively at her. She smiled nervously at him in return. He noticed that she was staring intently at his blue eyes. Women seemed to like his blue eyes. He could understand that. There was life in his eyes. Most people's eyes held no life because most people were meaningless. Most people existed just to live normal, simple lives. Most people were not destined to serve a great purpose in life. It was tragic really. It made fighting to preserve life seem so meaningless.

Darken Rahl didn't practically care about life, but the Keeper had betrayed him. For that, Rahl was not going to allow the Keeper to win. Even though life was nothing special, Darken Rahl was going to make sure that it continued. He would do it just to spite the Keeper. Besides, it was nice to be alive again. It was especially nice to live as not a baneling. Serving the Keeper had a tendency to quickly become tiresome.

Life really wasn't a bad thing. The problem was that there were too many simple people that existed in the world of the living.

The woman was watching his every move. It was time to really gain her attention. Darken Rahl placed his back against the wall of the closest building. He spread his arms out in an eagle-like style. He took a deep breath and exerted his body until he had drawn special attention to his crotch. He smiled again at the woman. The smile that she gave him was extremely less nervous than her first smile had been.

Darken Rahl had never practically considered himself a creature of seduction, but he had always seemed to have no problem with drawing women to him. He had always thought it was because of the power and the status that he held. Women were drawn to power. His Mord-Sith found it an honor whenever he invited them to his bed. Power was a strong motivation for people.

But this woman had no idea who he was. His clothes suggested everything but power and status. This woman couldn't even fully see his face. He definitely was not foolish enough to pull down his hood when there were so many people around. His face was way too recognizable for its own good. And he had definitely had not gone to all this trouble to become alive again just to be killed by a mob of people that lived their lives the same way each and every day.

Maybe it was his eyes. Or maybe he was just very good at displaying his crotch in a sexually suggestive manner. Whatever the reason, he had this woman in the palm of his hands. She was his now.

Darken Rahl, still smiling, motioned for the woman to approach him. She obeyed immediately, also wearing a smile on her face.

"Do you have someplace where we can spend some time alone?" Darken Rahl asked the woman in his most seductive voice.

"Yes, my house is nearby," the woman replied. Like her physical appearance, there was nothing remarkable or special about her voice. But she would do. It was only a temporary moment of pleasure anyway.

"My brother lives with me," the woman continued, "but he won't be back until tonight."

"Are you sure?" Darken Rahl pressed. He definitely didn't want some overprotective brother getting in the way.

Rahl did not necessarily take any pleasure in killing, but he had no problem with taking a life. The bloodshed of an overprotective brother would not bother his conscience in any way. The same applied to the bloodshed of this woman. Oh, Darken Rahl had no intention of killing her or her brother; but if the circumstances were to suddenly deem it necessary, Rahl would not hesitate. The two siblings would be dead before they could blink. Darken Rahl was not stupid. He had a dagger hidden in his boot, and he knew how to use a dagger both quickly and effectively.

"I'm sure," the woman responded. "He went out of town to do some trading. We're been low on money since our parents died in the war."

"I'm sorry," Darken Rahl said automatically in a sincere-sounding voice. He really could care less about this woman's parents. He had, after all, killed his own father. But Darken Rahl knew how to fake emotions, and he didn't want this woman to suddenly decide that she didn't want to take him to her house just because he wasn't sympathetic enough for her.

To add to the deception, Darken Rahl placed a hand gently on the woman's shoulder. He also allowed his eyes to soften just enough to be convincing but not so much that it was overdramatic. His eyes reflected the proper emotion for an ordinary man who had just been told by a stranger that her parents had died.

And this woman would remain a stranger. If she decided to give her name, so be it. If she decided not to give her name, Darken Rahl could care less. This woman was meaningless to him. And if this woman asked for his name, he would tell her that it was "Richard."

The woman had tears in her eyes. No doubt she was thinking about her dead parents. The smile that she gave him, though, was not sad.

"Do you still want to do this?" Darken Rahl asked in a gentle, concerned, considerate voice. "I will understand if you don't want to."

"It's all right," the woman smiled reassuringly, even though there were still tears in her eyes. "I want to do this."

"You want a little break from reality," Darken Rahl stated matter-of-factly in a voice that said that he wouldn't be hurt or insulted if she said "yes." And he wouldn't be hurt or insulted if she only wanted to have sex with him for that reason. He really could care less. The sex wasn't going to mean anything to him anyway. It was just going to give him a little break from reality. It was just going to be a temporary moment of pleasure.

"It's not just that," the woman insisted. "You seem nice, and there are not enough nice men in the world these days."

Darken Rahl laughed in the inside, but his face did not betray this. He gave the woman a look that said that he was flattered by her compliment.

The woman took Darken Rahl's hand with her basket-free hand. Rahl held out his free hand, offering to hold the basket for her. He might as well continue with this "nice man" act for as long as possible. It would make things easier.

The woman smiled at him warmly as she handed the basket to him. Darken Rahl then allowed the woman to lead him through the market. There were quite a bit of people on the streets but not enough to make them overly crowded or hard to pass through. It did not take long for Rahl and the woman to reach her house.

The woman led Darken Rahl to her bedroom. "My bed is kind of small," the woman said in an apologetic voice.

"That's fine," Rahl quickly responded. "I've been in worse conditions than a small bed."

The woman nodded her head. Then, she began to undress. There was nothing remarkable or special about the way that she took her clothes off. She was not a creature of seduction, but she would do. Besides, the world of the living was overpopulated already as it was. If everyone was a creature of seduction, things would only get worse.

Darken Rahl knew what the woman's reaction would be even before he pulled down his hood. She gasped in both shock and fear.

"It's all right," Rahl spoke in a reassuring voice. "I know that I look like Darken Rahl, but I'm not him. Actually, my name is Richard."

"That's the Seeker's name," the woman said in a weak voice, clearly not knowing if she should believe him or not.

"Ironic, isn't it?" Rahl smiled. "I look like Darken Rahl, but I bear the name of his baby brother. You can decide if you want me to be Darken Rahl or Richard Rahl. I really could care less, even though you probably would like nothing less than to sleep with the Seeker. He is a great hero, after all." Rahl's voice was indifferent; it betrayed no bitterness or anger.

The woman, in a halfway undressed state, looked at Rahl with a great deal of uncertainty.

Emotionless, Darken Rahl removed his cloak and tossed it down onto the floor. He then removed his boots, being careful to keep his dagger concealed inside.

"Have you changed your mind about going through with this?" Rahl asked in a toneless voice.

Darken Rahl could have went for the dagger in his boot, but this woman wasn't worth the effort. If she didn't want to have sex with him, so be it. He had wasted enough time as it was.

The woman was trembling slightly, but Rahl made sure that he didn't appear threatening in any way. He didn't necessarily want to kill her; but if she was going to go out on the streets and scream to everyone that Darken Rahl was in her bedroom, he would dispose of her without any thought.

Darken Rahl had known that he was taking a risk when he had decided to seduce this woman, but the risk wasn't that great to be of any concern to him. Rahl could tell from the way that a woman walked and the way that a woman held herself if she was a fighter, and this woman was definitely not a fighter in the slightest. This woman was not a Mord-Sith. This woman was not a Confessor.

The woman didn't make any movement for several seconds. Then, she continued to undress. There was no fear in her movements. She probably figured that if this man really was Darken Rahl, he would have been holding a dagger at her throat by now and undressing her himself.

Darken Rahl also continued to undress. Neither he nor the woman was hurried in their movements, but it was not long before they were both naked. Then, they were on the woman's bed.

It was nothing electrifying for Darken Rahl, but the woman's eyes reflected that she was enjoying herself. She probably didn't think that he was Darken Rahl, but he looked like him. He may not be Darken Rahl in her eyes, but he still looked like a man of great power and status.

It was all about power when it came to sacrificing the flesh. The desire for power was simply a part of human nature.

There had been many women who had wanted to share a bed with Darken Rahl. They had not wanted the man himself, but they had wanted his power. None of the women ever saw the man. All they saw was being the one who produced his heir. All they saw was being greatly honored for producing his heir.

It was simply a part of human nature to do whatever was necessary to get ahead in life. You didn't have to love someone to have sex with them. No, sex rarely had anything to do with love. You had sex with someone to get yourself somewhere in life, to get yourself in a better position than you were in beforehand. It was simply a part of human nature.

Darken Rahl knew all about sacrificing his flesh in order to gain power, in order to get himself ahead in life. Prophecy had said that the Seeker would one day rise up and kill him. Power was a form of security, a form of protection. Darken Rahl's natural powers had been pathetic. He had turned to the Keeper. He had willingly become a baneling in order to gain the power and the safety that he had desired.

Banelings were creatures of the flesh. Darken Rahl had given not just his soul to the Keeper. He had also given his flesh to the Keeper. Rahl had not taken any pleasure from being a baneling, but he had killed for the Keeper because it had been necessary to protect himself against the Seeker. Too bad it had all been for nothing.

Sacrificing your flesh was never enjoyable, but it was always worse when it served no purpose. But that was the way that life often was. None of the women who had went to bed with Darken Rahl had ever gotten what they wanted. None of them had produced him his heir. None of them had been honored. They had all sacrificed their flesh for nothing. Just like Darken Rahl had done.

Rahl abruptly pulled himself off the woman. It would serve no purpose to him to continue. He was slowly starting to get tired of engaging in such meaningless acts. Oh, he probably would still do it occasionally whenever he was in the mood or whenever he was suffering from a moment of boredom, but it would always remain meaningless in the end.

Darken Rahl began to redress. The woman, not at all concerned about her naked state, smiled at him. She didn't seem to care that the union of their bodies had ended so suddenly. She had clearly enjoyed it while it had lasted. It was always that overwhelming desire for power. Too bad it never worked out.

"Thank you, Richard," the woman said. "I really enjoyed that."

Darken Rahl was not angry. This woman was not worth getting angry over. And neither was Richard. Darken Rahl had allowed Richard to run and to control his life for long enough. Darken Rahl had sacrificed his flesh because of Richard. Darken Rahl had ruined his life because of Richard, because of the prophecy surrounding Richard.

Darken Rahl swung the black cloak over his shoulders. He smiled brightly at the woman. His eyes gleamed with twisted delight.

"I lied," Darken Rahl said. "My name is not Richard. I am Darken Rahl."

The woman quickly covered her naked body with her blanket as she gasped in shock and shook with fright.

Darken Rahl laughed cheerfully at her reaction. He then pulled his hood up and casually strolled out her bedroom, not bothering to turn around even once to give the woman another glance.

He wouldn't have to kill the woman to ensure her silence. She now knew that what they had shared ever so briefly had been meaningless to him. He smiled wickedly. She definitely wasn't going to brag about having sex with Darken Rahl.