Darken Rahl stood on the balcony overlooking the garden in the People's Palace. He watched as his wife, Kahlan, chased their toddler son, Nicholas, around the garden. Both were laughing joyfully. It felt good to hear the sound of their happy laughter. It especially felt good to hear the sound of Kahlan laughing with such delight because Rahl had never seen her happy in his presence. Kahlan was only happy around Alice and, of course, Nicholas. She was always angry, defiant, or indifferent around Rahl.

Kahlan was so beautiful and such a wonderful mother. She was also so attentive and so loving towards Nicholas, even though he was a male Confessor, even though she had been taught that male Confessors were evil. Kahlan was also a wonderful wife. Yes, she openly despised Rahl, but she was still a wonderful wife. She had given Rahl a son, a heir. And she was so strong, so spirited, so passionate. Darken Rahl couldn't help but love her.

"And what would you know of love, except that you will never feel it, from anyone?"

Darken Rahl could never forget those cutting words that Kahlan had spoken to him. Richard had been chained up, Kahlan had been strapped to a board, and Giller had been preparing to take Kahlan's Confessor powers away from her. Darken Rahl had been in control of the situation. Or so he had thought. Then, Kahlan had spoken those spiteful words. Those words had wounded Rahl when they shouldn't have. Love was such a weak thing. Why would Darken Rahl ever want to be loved? Yet those words had burned Rahl in a place he had not even known existed. Kahlan's words had made Rahl realize that he was missing something important in his life. For his whole life, Darken Rahl had always felt empty. Now he knew why. He needed love to fill complete.

Kahlan had made Darken Rahl feel like he had never felt before, and that was why he loved her so much.

And Darken Rahl could never forget the Con Dar, the Blood Rage. Such love. Such hate. Rahl hated that Kahlan loved Richard, the baby brother who had ruined his life, but Rahl also couldn't help but respect Kahlan. Darken Rahl had always thought that hate was a powerful force, but its power was nothing compared to the power of love and hate combined. Such powerful love. Such powerful hate. Together as one. Surely an impossible combination. But Kahlan had proved that love and hate could exist together at equal levels. Kahlan was truly a special woman. She was truly a special person.

Kahlan had made Darken Rahl feel like he had never felt before, and that was why he loved her so much.

Darken Rahl was no stranger to fear. He was a servant of the Keeper. He had grown up with a father who had hated him. Rahl had grown up knowing about the prophecy saying that the Seeker would one day rise up and kill him. Darken Rahl was no stranger to fear, but Kahlan had still managed to make him afraid with her Con Dar, very afraid. Darken Rahl had not felt that vulnerable in a long time. He had not felt that vulnerable since he had been a small boy communing with the Keeper himself in the underworld itself.

Kahlan had made Darken Rahl feel like he had never felt before, and that was why he loved her so much.

Kahlan had made Darken Rahl want to be human. Human. Never before had Darken Rahl wanted to be human. But Kahlan had changed everything. Only Kahlan could have changed everything so drastically.

The fact that Darken Rahl was now living in peace only made things better. The Seeker was no more. Rahl had given his soul to the Keeper in order to protect himself against the Seeker, but evidently Rahl no longer needed the Keeper. The Seeker was no more. The Keeper had served his purpose, and he was no longer needed. And the long war between D'hara and the Midlands was finally over. Rahl's and Kahlan's marriage had created peace between the two lands. Darken Rahl had no more worries in life. He no longer had to be so cold and so brutal. He could finally have a wife, a child. He could finally have a family. He could finally be human.

To be human was a wonderful feeling.

Darken Rahl remembered his baby sister, Jennsen. She, like Kahlan, had made him want to be human. Jennsen had been the only person who had known where the Boxes of Orden were hidden. Rahl had needed to get that information out of her. Unfortunately Jennsen had lost her memories. But then it had turned into something good. Rahl had treated Jennsen with kindness, and she had treated him with kindness in return. She had kissed him on the cheek with genuine affection, something that he was not used to. She had touched him in a tender manner, also something that he was not used to. Darken Rahl was human around Jennsen, and she had loved him for that. Rahl had even indirectly told her that all he wanted was to be loved. True, he had used Richard's name of his, but he had been referring to himself.

To be human was a wonderful feeling.

Then Jennsen had betrayed Darken Rahl. She had betrayed him for Richard. Just like Darken Rahl's father had betrayed him for Richard.

To be human was not such a wonderful feeling after all.

But none of that mattered now. The Seeker was no more. He was no longer a threat to Darken Rahl, which meant that Rahl no longer had to be monster in order to survive. Rahl could be human now. He could be human with the woman who had first made him realize that what he truly wanted in life was to be loved: Kahlan. Rahl would not have treated Jennsen the way that he had if not for his feelings for Kahlan, if not for what Kahlan had sparked inside him.

To be human was a wonderful feeling.

For his whole life, Darken Rahl had thought that ultimate power over the world would make him happy. But the boxes of Orden had disappeared along with the Seeker, and Rahl had not cared about that. The Seeker was no more, and that was all that had mattered to Rahl. Besides, Rahl had all the power that he needed now that he was married to Kahlan. He was at peace with the Midlands, and that was all that mattered to him. There was no more need for fighting. Rahl was in control, in peaceful control, and that was all that had mattered to him. And Rahl had a wife that was worthy of him, a wife that was his equal. Darken Rahl could be human with Kahlan. He could be human with Nicholas. Darken Rahl could be human with his family. His family.

To be human was a wonderful feeling.

Darken Rahl continued to watch his wife chasing their toddler son. Rahl suddenly felt the urge to join them in the garden. Rahl suddenly felt the urge to start chasing Nicholas along with Kahlan. Why was he having this urge all of a sudden? Darken Rahl had never before wanted to do something so playful, so childish. Oh, he could be sarcastic and witty at times, but Darken Rahl was generally a serious person. So, why did he all of a sudden want to playfully chase Nicholas?

Darken Rahl wanted to be human, and acting like an idiot around your spouse and your child was a part of being human. Darken Rahl wanted to be human, and having some carefree, light-hearted fun was a part of being human. Darken Rahl knew this from all the time that he had spent observing other humans. Darken Rahl knew this from all the time that he had watched Kahlan playing with Nicholas. There had been a time when Darken Rahl had been disgusted by such nonsense behavior. But Kahlan had changed everything. Now Darken Rahl wanted to engage in nonsense behavior. What? Darken Rahl was not the type of man who did anything that was nonsense. But Kahlan had changed everything. Kahlan had made Darken Rahl realize that being human was much more fulfilling than being a monster.

To be human was a wonderful feeling.

Darken Rahl began to descend the steps that lead from the balcony to the garden below. Rahl was smiling. He wasn't smirking mockingly; he was genuinely smiling happily.

Then Kahlan suddenly noticed that Rahl was descending the stairs, and she immediately stopped her pursuit of Nicholas. Rahl, still smiling and not thinking, started to raise his hand in greeting. But both his smile and his hand were quickly stopped in their tracks when he saw the look on Kahlan's face.

Kahlan was looking angrily at Darken Rahl. Her face and her eyes were as cold as ice and as hard as steel. It was clear that she didn't want anything to do with Rahl. She never wanted anything to do with Rahl. She hated being in his presence. She always hated being in his presence.

The smile faded from Rahl's face, and his hand dropped back down to his side. He then turned and began to go back up the stairs. He didn't, not even once, give in to the temptation to turn his head to look at his wife or his son.

Darken Rahl was no stranger to pain. He knew the pain of an Agiel. He knew the pain of dark magic from his lifetime of servitude to the Keeper. He knew the pain of having a father who hated you. He knew the pain of having a baby brother whose destiny was to murder you.

Despite all this, though, Darken Rahl still managed to come to an agonizing conclusion: the greatest pain of all was to be human.