The battle that day had been fierce and bloody. D'Haran soldiers seemingly rushed them out of nowhere, just as they had decided to stop for the day and set up camp. Kahlan and Richard volunteered to stay and set up the camp while Cara and Zedd went into the town down the hill for some food and supplies. All of them agreed that it was not safe for the Seeker and Mother Confessor to just wander into a town, especially when the Keeper's minions were constantly looking for them. No one ever brought it up, but Kahlan also knew it was because of the prophecy about her; "As long as the Mother Confessor's pure heart beats, the Keeper cannot win." She also knew that Richard wanted her with him as often and as much as possible, he worried when they were separated and felt only he could really ensure her safety.
The details of their bloody battle came flooding back in vivid flashes, double the speed at which they occurred. Richard had been building a fire, while Kahlan was setting down a nice pile of wood she had gathered, when they suddenly heard them. For some odd reason the D'Haran's always announced themselves with loud battle cries as they rushed them from the brush and forrest, she guessed it was due to arrogance and over-confidence, or simply 'vocal courage'. Kahlan and Richard, like so many times, immediately clicked into fight mode, drawing their weapons and standing back to back to protect one another. Kahlan still considered protecting the Seeker as her primary duty, even before herself, no matter what the prophecy stated, but more than that, because she loved this man more than life itself! There must have been 20 soldiers, but they were used to being outnumbered, and they had the advantage of magic on their side. Richard fought with the Sword of Truth, which held the strength and skill of all the Seeker's before him, not to mention that it was fueled by his rage, and nothing made Richard angrier than someone endangering Kahlan's life. Kahlan as the Mother Confessor, could unleash her power with a single touch, and that person was hers, her slave in mind, body, and soul, protecting her to the death. However, Kahlan knew that she had to release her power at the right time, when only a handful of the enemy were left; too soon and she would be left vulnerable in her weakened state. Even though she had more power than any Confessor in thousands of years, it still took an hour or two for her strength and power to be fully restored, so once she released her power she would be too weak to fight back if the confessed D'Haran were killed. Kahlan relied on her fighting skills, honed and instilled by her father, a great warrior who also taught her battle tactics. The Sisters of the Light that raised her after they rescued her from her father's clutches were also very adept at fighting and taught her the more subtle moves in defense. This combination, along with years of fighting, made Kahlan a skilled and lethal warrior. Richard and Kahlan fought with a grace and almost beauty, as if a dance, so they had been told by Cara and Zedd. "The dance with death" Richard had called it. "Cut. Without mercy, cut. Without thinking, cut". There were five soldiers left when she was forced to confess the massive D'Haran who had knocked her to the ground, that left only 4 for Richard and her confessed slave to finish off. Richard dispatched two with ease, while the confessed man took on the other two. The big D'Haran was killed as he drove his sword through the last man that came at Kahlan, and it was perfect timing, as she was struggling under her spent powers to get to safety. She heard Richard yell her name as both men fell right in front of her. The confessed man looked at her as his head hit the ground, he had a half smile cover his gasp of pain as blood spurted from his mouth, it was that look she had seen hundreds of times, the soul-less look of enslaved love. The smile was for his mistress, even with a sword thrust through his chest, he had saved his mistress and served her well. Kahlan wished she would never have to see that look ever again, but she knew she would, many more times, just as she had her entire life. For his sacrifice she forced a smile back at him as his eyes closed the last time.
The battle had left her bloody, her clothes were caked with it, she could still feel it dripping down her daggers and her hands. She was so tired of killing. Would it ever stop? Would she ever have a normal life? She laughed at herself, "Don't be stupid Kahlan, you'll never have a normal life" she thought. The life of a Confessor was devoted to others, to duty above self. She was raised from childhood to be that, she understood her duty and had learned to be content with it. She was used to the stares, the fear, contempt, and loathing in people's eyes, that came with her title: 'Confessor'. With the exception of her fellow Confessors, her mother and sister, and the Sister's who raised her, she had never known compassion and love and understanding from anyone, never had friends, and never from a man. Until Richard that is. Tears ran down her cheeks at the thought of Richard, the man she loved more than life itself, the man who loved her just as much, and the man she could never have that life with. Her thoughts were wiped from her mind as quickly as her tears when she felt his hand on her shoulder… and his voice. "Kahlan? Are you all right?" Richard said. She looked up at his kind face, which just made more tears flow. She looked away and squeezed her eyes as she looked down and drew her bottom lip under, trying to check her emotions, she didn't like him to see her this way. She was the "Mother Confessor", the strongest and most powerful of her kind, yet she melted in front of this man.
How long had she been sitting here on this rock by the lake. She looked down, to see she still had her daggers in both hands, caked with blood, and gripped so tightly that her knuckles were white. Richard knelt before her on one knee as he looked into her eyes and lifted her chin to meet his gaze. Then he took the daggers from her hands and set them aside, took her hands gently in his and began to wipe them clean with a damp cloth. Once clean he brought them up to meet his lips and kissed them. Another tear rolled down Kahlan's cheek, but was wiped away with a gentle stroke of the back of his thumb. Richard took a stray strand of her hair and hooked it behind her ear. The touch of his fingers on her neck made her shiver, and she opened her eyes to see a concerned smile on his face, so she forced a smile for him. Richard sat down next to her on the rock and put his arm around both of her shoulders and pulled her into his warm, protective, and enveloping embrace. He kissed her on the forehead, and she melted. She could feel a wave of emotions flowing from her. He didn't ask her anything. He knew. He, above all else, knew the depth of her pain. She just wanted him. He just wanted her. They just wanted a life together.
They sat there, holding one another for a long time, as the sun began to set above the water. It was a warm night.
Finally, Kahlan broke the silence, "I guess I missed my turn for a bath", she said. "You can share mine, I don't mind," Richard quipped back. As Kahlan looked up at him she gave him that smile, the smile she reserved only for Richard, and squeezed his middle. "That would be nice" she teased. He smiled that special smile for only her and said, "No, really, you take a bath. I'll stand watch". "Richard!" Kahlan said, trying to sound shocked. She poked him again, and he laughed as he turned her to look in his eyes. He gave her a sincere look and said, "You go ahead, I'll wash your clothes over there (he gestured around a crop of bushed on the water's edge) while you do". It was then that Kahlan finally looked down at her traveling clothes still caked with blood and dirt. The somber feeling she had earlier started to resurface, but before it could settle in again, Richard gently cupped her chin and turned her eyes up to his and said, "Kahlan, it's going to be ok. It's going to get better, I promise you. You believe me don't you?" Kahlan could see the sincere, deep love in those rapturous brown eyes of his, and in that moment she did believe him. "Yes" was all she could manage to get out. She so wanted to believe him. With that he turned her towards him and brought her legs up over his own and kissed her deeply. No one else existed in the world when he kissed her like that. As he pulled away gently he looked into her blue eyes intently and said, "We are going to find a way Kahlan, we're going to find a way to be together, really together. I promise you, I'll never give up on us." Richard's eyes watered up a bit, which caused her's too as well. Kahlan had a lump in her throat and started to say, "Rich…" but he cut her off. "I love you Kahlan, and it's a forever and only kind of love. There will never be anyone but you for me." "Nothing can come between that Love, not even magic", he said with conviction. "You have to trust me Kahlan, have faith in me. There's a way, and I will find it." He was about to go on convincing her some more when she put a finger up to his lips to silence him. "Richard, I love you too, with all my heart, and soul, and I know if anyone can find a way, you will." She removed her finger and kissed him softly on the lips. He returned the kiss and dove into her mouth and kissed her passionately. They were both losing themselves in the kiss, the heat between them was making both of their hearts race. She loved everything about him, the way he felt, the way he tasted, the way he smelled, the scruffy beard scratching at her face. Kahlan never wanted it to end. She sooo wanted this moment to continue, to go to that place they both yearned for, to let their love for one another take them...
Suddenly, but ever so gently, Richard pulled back and took a deep breath as his eyes widened, "You better get to that bath, or I'll have to jump in myself" he joked. She kissed him again as she stroked the side of his face, smiled lovingly, and swung her legs off of his and started motioning him off to the other side of the bushes, and then she started to undress. As Kahlan tossed her top garments over the bushes to him she peeked thru an opening, and saw him smile as he picked them up and pretended to try to spy on her over the top of the bush, which made her laugh. How did Richard always know exactly what to say and do to make her laugh and forget? She shook her head and smiled. She looked back to him as she tossed her under garments over, "No peeking now" she said, as she slipped into the lake. Kahlan could still see him as he picked up her clothes with a sly smile on his face, which turned into a sigh as he noticed all the blood on them. Richard took them to the water and began to gently scrub the blood away. Doing this for her, with such great care and love, made Kahlan say a little prayer, 'Dear Spirits, I don't know what I did to deserve this man, but thank you'. To have Richard in her life was more than she ever hoped for, if they could someday have a life together, as a man and women in love do, she would know the creator truly had a hand in it. She would fight for Richard, and wait for him, because he is the only man for her too. There would never be another that loved her like Richard did. He would always be her one true love.
After Kahlan had scrubbed all the blood and dirt off, she peeked at Richard, still washing, only now he was washing his own clothes. He was in the water up to his waste, but had his pants in his hand and his shirt was already drying on a bush nearby with her clothes. Seeing their clothes drying side by side brought a smile and a view into their possible future someday. But with Richard's glistening and muscular body right before her, her gaze quickly found him again. Kahlan could feel her heart start to beat faster in her chest, and she swallowed but her mouth was dry, so she licked her lips and sighed. She forced herself to shut her eyes as she stepped from the water to grab her towel. Richards keen ears heard her and said, "Kahlan, you ok?" She replied, "Yes, fine, you?" "I'm clean, but I don't have my towel, could you grab it for me?" he said. Silence. "Kahlan, you there?" he said again "Yeah, sure, I'll get it" she said a bit flustered. Kahlan finished wrapping the towel around her and then retrieved his towel from his pack and flung it over his side of the bush, not wanting to be tempted to look, or show her embarrassment. Suddenly it hit her that she only had her towel to put on, Richard had her undergarments, so she couldn't put on her confessor's dress either. She was a little nervous, especially since she knew that Richards clothes weren't dry yet either. Kahlan could feel her face turning red. "You seem to be warming up and getting some color back." Richard said as he came around the bush with his towel around his waist. Kahlan looked at him and away quickly, and turned a shade darker. Richard smiled as he walked past her to her pack and pulled out her green blanket and wrapped it around her shoulders. Kahlan was relieved when Richard then went to his pack and pulled out his blanket. But he put it on the ground in front of the fire. "When did you make a fire?" she asked. "oh, right before I got in for my bath. Here, have a seat," he said, as he patted the ground where he laid the blanket. "Kahlan nervously sat down, and didn't know what to do next. She had the blanket wrapped around her and tucked her legs up underneath. Richard sat down next to her and said, "Are you cold? The clothes will be dry before too long". "No, not cold" she said as she turned sideways to look at him, "You?" They both looked at each other and turned away together and swallowed. As they sat there, both gazing at the fire, Richard leaned back against the log behind them, as he gently reached out and pulled Kahlan next to him, "You know, I am a bit chilly" he said. She smiled, and went willingly, settling into him, snuggling up on his chest with her arm draped across his abs. She closed her eyes as he hugged her close and wrapped his other arm around her. Kahlan and Richard both sighed a little, but smiled too. Kahlan closed her eyes. To ease the sexual tension that hovered in the air Kahlan lightheartedly said, "What do you think Zedd and Cara will say when they walk into camp to find us like this?" "Zedd will say, "Bags you two, what have you done!" Richard said in his best Zedd voice. That made Kahlan laugh, and respond with, "And Cara would say, "I told you leaving them alone all the time was a bad idea!" They both laughed at that. Again, they both sighed together, as Kahlan listened to Richard's heart beat, it lulled her back to her thoughts…"I don't want this night to ever end" she said, "I love you Richard Cypher, you have all of my heart, and always will." Richard gave her a squeeze and kissed her forehead and said, "I love you too Kahlan." She smiled at that as she thought of him saying her name, Kahlan. To Richard, that's who she was, simply his Kahlan, not the Mother Confessor, not the guide to the Seeker, just Kahlan, the love of his life. With that thought to warm her heart, and Richards warm embrace she drifted off to sleep in the arms of the man she loved, to dream about their life …someday.