Chapter 16

"Excuse me, Mother Confessor, but this letter just arrived for you." Kahlan's chambermaid handed her a delicate scroll.

Secured with the seal of D'Hara, she knew it must be from Richard. "Thank you Agatha," she said waiting for the door to close before quickly breaking it open.

xxx

Night was just beginning to fall as Kahlan made her way up the long road to the Keep. She'd been spending a lot of time there since Zedd left, searching the ancient books for stories of the alabaster deer. Having seen the creature, knowing it was more than just a children's story, she felt there had to be something written about it somewhere. The Keep seemed the most likely place to begin her search.

She tingled with excitement…Richard was finally coming home. Having received a message from him just that morning, she knew he was safe and would soon be on his way home to her. His letter said to expect him by the next full moon, barely three weeks away…Her stomach fluttered with anticipation. She could scarcely contain her happiness. I look forward to our wedding, one the entire city can enjoy. I love you. Now and forever. Your beloved, Richard Rahl, Seeker of Truth and Master of D'Hara. He was letting her know all was truly well. They could at last have a public ceremony and announce their marriage to all the lands. She rested a hand low on her belly. More importantly, he would soon know of his daughter.

Once inside the Keep, Kahlan lit several torches in the main library, casting a warm glow about the room. Heavy tapestries adorned the walls and thick carpeting muted the sounds of her feet. Though she'd had a long day of council meetings, she wanted to spend at least an hour or so looking for stories about the herds of Merda. She gathered a stack of old books from the shelves and sunk into a comfortable chair.

xxx

Richard and Zedd stood alone on the vast terrace outside the main hall of the People's Palace enjoying the last of the evening's sun. Richard pulled his gaze from the horizon, "I've asked Nicci to stay here in D'Hara, along with the Sister's of Eamon. They'll be my eyes and ears in my absence, until I can set up a proper command. I have a journey book so they can keep me informed if something needs my attention."

Zedd nodded his approval.

"Right now, I'm anxious to get back to Kahlan. Can you and Cara be ready to leave tomorrow?"

Zedd assured him they would before leaving his grandson alone with his thoughts.

Richard looked back again to the setting sun. He wondered if Kahlan had received his letter yet telling her of securing the throne, letting her know he was well and would soon return. He had made no mention of his powers or that he knew of the baby. He wanted to be with her when they spoke of those things so he could hold her hands, share in her smile. He puzzled that he should suddenly think of the alabaster deer. Perhaps because he felt so much at peace…maybe there was something to the old myth after all. He'd certainly been blessed with good fortune since seeing it; He and Kahlan were married – soon they would have their official ceremony; He was now the Ruler of D'Hara and with much less bloodshed than he ever thought possible; More than anything, he was filled with joy at knowing Kahlan was safe at home in the Confessor's Palace, growing with child. He smiled at the last remnants of light as he thanked the good spirits. Perhaps Kahlan watched the evening sky just as he did now, its colors ebbing from intense reds and purples, slowly deepening to black as night blanketed the sky.

xxx

Pulling back on the reigns of his horse, he stopped for a moment to take in the view, patting the regal animal's neck. "We're finally here." It had been a long journey. Making his way through the gates of Aydindril, his eyes were immediately drawn to the faint outline of the Wizard's Keep far off in the distance, an ominous cloud hanging over it, dark and menacing, fading in with the blackness of the night sky. Light shining from one of its windows pierced the darkness. There was someone inside. Gabriel quietly urged his horse onto the long lonely road leading up to the tower, eyes transfixed by the glow burning within.

To be continued...

(sequel coming soon).