Nicholas Rahl studied the stone figure of his mother, an effigy on a slab for all time.

Inside the pretty box, her body rotted. Did she still bleed?

His lips twitched.

It had never occurred to him that his parents might hurt him. They taught and nurtured. They helped him gain the things he wanted.

But when he had opened his eyes to see Mother standing over him with a knife, the world had changed.

She wanted to kill him. Was capable of killing him.

Was immune to his touch.

Father had been so angry. So magnificent as he slit Nurse's throat.

Nurse's blood had been so red. So compelling.

Nicholas had liked her.

As much as he liked her death.

Father had allowed Nicholas to take his revenge on Mother, to mimic Father's actions.

To use the same knife.

Nicholas watched her eyes as she died, felt a rush of warmth that he usually associated with confession.

He wondered if this was love.

A warm hand gripped his shoulder, bringing Nicholas back to the present.

Father's voice was grim, his face equally so.

"It's just you and me now, Nicholas."

Was Father sad?

Nicholas placed his small hand over his father's large one, letting go of the instinctive grip he had over his powers.

He waited.

Father did not kneel. Father did not ask for his Confessor's command.

Somehow, Father was unaffected by confession.

And too dangerous to be allowed to live.

Nicholas signaled Egremont, whom he had confessed for protection.

Father gasped and fell, writhing on the ground. He did not scream like Mother.

Nicholas watched, waiting for the red.

"Have I pleased you, master?" Egremont asked.

Nicholas studied the pool of liquid rubies forming around Father, watched as the lightning faded from his eyes.

When all the world was confessed, then Nicholas would be truly safe.

"You have pleased me very much," he told Egremont, eyes still on the man who had taught him everything.

Nicholas loved Darken Rahl.

And found his blood compelling.