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The Seeker (Chp 4)
Wrenching my sword free from the dead Sister's body, I pause for a moment, desperate to eliminate any further threat to Kahlan's life. Hearing nothing, I tentatively call her name, fear welling up inside of me, fear that she is injured…or worse.
My hands are slick with sweat and I tighten my grip on the handle of my sword as I try to calm my breathing. I listen intently for any sign of impending danger, for any more Sisters of the Dark approaching, ready to take my Kahlan's life. That is something I will never allow for she means more to me than anything this world could ever offer.
I call her name again and again I am met by silence. My heart races with panic, my fury still surging through my veins seeking release. If only I could see, I could help her. She is my sole focus now that Declan is taking the Stone of Tears to the Pillars of Creation. Soon the Keeper's presence in this world will be over and Kahlan will be safe at last.
Suddenly, I hear her speak and relief floods my heart. The beautiful sound of her voice is sweet harmony with my soul. But relief swiftly shifts to confusion as she grabs my throat. The force of her power startles me. Almost losing my balance, I stumble backwards as she angrily demands I give her the stone. I feel a sudden rush of a powerful breeze sweep through me, wrapping warmly around my heart. And then just as suddenly as the breeze appeared, it is gone. I am filled with dread because I know something is terribly wrong with Kahlan.
Confused, I ask her what she is doing and she suddenly rips the cloth that covers my injured eyes. I cringe from the pain, desperate to know what is wrong with her. She is my world and I refuse to lose her, not when we're on the verge of victory over the Keeper.
I try to calm her, reassure her by telling her that I have given the stone to a boy to take to the Pillars of Creation. I stand waiting for her to respond. Seconds tick by like hours as I wait. I silently curse the fact that I cannot see, cannot protect her like I should.
I hear her scream and I am filled with fear. Something is dreadfully wrong. Realization sweeps over me and I finally understand what has happened to her. Kahlan is under the powerful command of the ConDar. It is a magic invoked from deep within her when someone she loves is threatened. I am the only one she responds to when the blood rage possesses her, the only one she will listen to, allowing her to finally escape its grasp.
Sensing her proximity, I come to stand before her. Placing a calming hand on her arm, I attempt to reason with her, talking her through the rage. Kahlan begins screaming at me, telling me that Declan is the Keeper. I swallow hard, horror gripping my heart as she tells me that I have fulfilled the prophecy. The one thing I have fought so hard to avoid, that I have feared the most was fulfilling the prophecy.
I am terrified of somehow fulfilling the prophecy almost as much as I fear losing Kahlan. My stomach drops as the ramifications of her words seep into my soul. I find it hard to breathe. I have failed. I failed humanity, my friends…I have failed Kahlan. Now they will pay the price for that failure…she will pay the price.
I am bewildered as Kahlan cries that she has failed her Mistress. Helplessness claws at my heart. Kahlan is confessed to someone, wrapped in the tight control of the ConDar and I am powerless to do anything to help her. I have given the Stone of Tears to the one whose presence I have worked so hard to eliminate. I have just failed the woman that I love with everything that is in me. I do not deserve to carry the Sword of Truth or to hold the title of Seeker.
Before I can say another word, I suddenly feel cold steel slicing through my heart and I cry out in agony. My hand automatically wraps around hers as she clutches the dagger that is in my heart. The pain is excruciating as I drop helplessly to my knees.
I feel the blade slip out of my chest and I feel my life rapidly draining from my body. I know I am about to die. My mind races with all the things I want to say to her for she is the center of my universe. Memories flash before my mind's eye. All the moments I wanted to tell her how much I loved her, but was too awe-struck by her to tell her, all the times that I thought I could not possibly love this woman anymore than I already did and she proved me wrong, the kisses I will miss sharing with her, the future I will not be able to build with her.
Even though I am dying, I am most concerned with my beloved Kahlan. I know she will carry the guilt and burden of having killed me and I do not want her to live with that. I know that this is not my Kahlan who did this to me. She is under the control of something stronger, more powerful than the both of us.
I reassure her that I know it wasn't her who did this, death sapping my strength, taking me away from the one who holds my heart. I don't want to leave her, but if this will somehow save her in the end, then I would happily die a thousand deaths.
With what little strength I have left, I breathe my love for her, frantic for her to know and remember that above all else. I fall to the ground then, collapsing into the waiting arms of the Keeper.
I am still enveloped in a cocoon of darkness that I cannot escape, a cocoon that has kept me prisoner since losing my eyesight. I battle this inky prison that holds me hostage, desperate to find a way back to Kahlan, to set right the wrong that I have created. Struggling to stand, my vision returns and I find myself back in the familiar depths of the Underworld. The only comfort I take is that Kahlan is not here with me.
Flames of emerald lick at my flesh, acrid smelling smoke threatening to choke me; the stench of burnt flesh and death burns my nostrils and makes me want to vomit. Mournful wailing assaults my ears and I vow to do everything in my power to keep Kahlan from experiencing this wretched place. I am thankful that at least I won't have to endure Darken Rahl's mocking presence here with me.
The thought that Rahl is alive, roaming freely in the world of the living sinks into my consciousness and I am once again filled with panic and fear. Rahl is free now to do what he wishes…including getting to Kahlan. My blood begins to blaze with the thought, desperation burning in my soul. I cannot allow Rahl to get to Kahlan. I have to find a way out of this place.
As I frantically search for a way of escape from this nightmarish place, my mind begins to race. I cannot stay here knowing the horror that awaits my Confessor, knowing that Darken Rahl and the Keeper both will be fully unleashed on the world of the living. Devastation awaits my loved ones as well as the world and it is all my fault.
My chest is tight, my breathing ragged with panic. I begin to run, looking for a way out but everything suddenly goes black. I immediately feel a strange tingling sensation wash through my body, infusing me with a life-giving chance to return and repair the damage that I have done. I greedily grasp onto the life-line, frantic to follow it back to Kahlan.
I begin to gasp for air, inhaling deeply and I struggle to sit up. I feel Kahlan's hand on my arm and on my face. I am consumed with my failure, telling them how I gave the stone away. Zedd tells us that we have another stone, that there still might be time.
The world around me is dark, my eyesight still gone. The world around us sounds as if it is splitting apart from its very core. With their help, I am pulled to my feet. Kahlan presses the new stone into my hand and I grip it protectively, determined not to fail again. I feel Kahlan's hand tightly clutching mine as she leads me. I trust her implicitly and would follow her to the ends of the earth if that is where she leads me.
I feel the searing flames as we race for the Pillars of Creation, the earth's crust buckling beneath my boots. The wind whips through my hair, but does little to lessen the stifling heat and smoke. I can hear rock crashing down around me and I squeeze Kahlan's hand tighter in mine, fearful that she will be injured in the falling rock, fearful that we won't make it there in time to defeat the Keeper, fearful that I fail again.
I curse under my breath, wishing I could see what was happening, where we are going, but my love and my trust in my Kahlan is all I really need. I feel Kahlan pulling me to an abrupt stop. She takes my hand and guides me to place the precious stone in its resting place. I gently set the Stone of Tears down as Kahlan presses my arm securely against her.
I stand in breathless anticipation, uncertain of what to expect, praying that I am not too late. Warmth unexpectedly caresses my face. I feel a sudden breeze before a tingling sensation begins to spread over me, magic making the tiny hairs stand on my arms. I am filled with an overwhelming sense of relief as I feel the life-restoring magic seep into the world of the living, repairing the damage that I allowed the Keeper to cause.
I can hear Kahlan's sigh of relief, Zedd's hand squeezing my shoulder, telling me that we have done it. We have accomplished what we set out to do so many months ago. I wish more than anything that I could see Kahlan's beautiful smiling face again, but even if I never receive the gift of my sight back, just being alive and with her again is enough for me.
Zedd tells me that my sight is nothing that a Wizard of the First Order can't fix. After some mumbling phrases, I open my eyes and the world around me is blurry. Slowly my vision begins to focus and I find myself staring at the one who won my heart the first day I saw her. My soul aches at the site of the tear stains on her face, her eyes filled with so much sorrow.
A smile touches my face, though, relieved to finally be reunited with my Confessor. The site of her alone makes my pulse race. I immediately press my lips to hers, so thankful that she is safe and we are together once more. Pulling back, I wrap my arms around her and feel her relax a little into my embrace.
Stepping back, Kahlan runs her fingers over my flesh, amazed that the mark of the Keeper has vanished. Zedd informs us it is because the Keeper has been defeated. I look back at Kahlan and she begins to apologize.
The anguish that swims in her watery blue eyes is more than I can take and I tell her that there is nothing to be sorry for because there isn't. I know it wasn't Kahlan who ended my life. She presses on, though, telling me that she killed me, tried to confess me. As memories come flooding back, I suddenly realize that the intense breeze that I felt wash over me when Kahlan grabbed my throat was her powers of confession.
I happily tell her that her magic didn't work. She stares at me in disbelief, trying to grasp how that is even possible. No one has ever been able to withstand the power of confession. Zedd tells us that there is no magic in the world more powerful than the love that Kahlan and I share. I love Kahlan more than her power of confession. Her magic has nothing to take and therefore our love for one another protects me. It's that same love that brought Kahlan out of the ConDar and formed a new stone.
Her special smile saved only for me touches her lips. Guilt mingled with pain still lingers in her eyes, but there is a new brightness there now that was not there just moments ago. I press my forehead to hers, my nose brushing against hers as our lips lightly touch. The sensation sends shocks through my system and I am desperate to taste her again.
I kiss her more intensely this time, not caring that Zedd and Cara are watching us. I can finally make love to her, sharing with her everything that I feel in my heart for her. I can finally experience her love for me that she has been holding at bay for so long; the thought alone begins to make my heart thunder wildly in my chest. I had been content to spend the rest of my life just holding her, but now that I know that I can make her mine, that no longer is enough.
I readily decide that making her my wife would be the only thing that could make me any happier than I am at this very moment…