Chapter 1 - Camp
How long had he known, truly known, that it was possible? If he was forced to say, it was probably sometime between his time spent in the Valley of Perdition and their night in that cave just before they found the Stone of Tears with the First Ones. He had known then, but she had been reluctant. And talk of children had not helped. Though, he knew it was possible. He just wished that she'd believe him.
Richard had not needed Kahlan to be in the Con Dar to try and confess him to know that he was immune. His love for her was already all consuming.
If it was true, what Zedd and Kahlan had told him, about how a confessor's magic worked, then he knew that it would have no effect on him. How could he love her anymore than he already did? And it was not just lust… sure he loved the way her hips swayed as she walked, and how her breast pushed together when she wore her corset. But it was more than his physical attraction to her.
Every time he looked into her eyes, Richard felt a longing and love for her. Not just for her body, but for her spirit and soul. And it was the little things, like how her brow furrowed when she worried, or how her lips curled when she smiled. Or the way she'd look at him when she thought he wasn't paying attention.
When he looked into her eyes, Richard saw the same depth of love and longing he felt within himself reflecting back. But always, mixed in, was fear. Fear that she would harm him. When they had thought they were trapped in the valley of the First Ones, and were told that their children would become the next race of humans, Richard had thought that then Kahlan would give in, and accept that her powers would not harm him. "Even the Creator believes we should be together," he had pleaded with her. Yet she still held on to that fear.
Now, everything was different. In the midst of the Con Dar, spurred on by having been confessed by Nicci—something he still did not fully understand—the truth and full depth of his love for her had been tested. And it had passed. With flying colors… well, blood, but that was beside the point.
It warmed his heart so much to know that when he had called her name and professed his love for her with his dying breaths her soul had stirred back from the brink and returned, bringing her back to herself, away from the all consuming rage of the Con Dar… the blood rage. It brought him even further joy to learn that her love for him, though filled with grief over what she had done, had caused her tears to form a new Stone of Tears.
It was their love that had saved the world. Their love. Nothing else. If that was not enough to sway anyone that they were destined to be together, Richard did not know what would.
As he mused over these things and more, Richard watched as Kahlan hunched over the campfire, attempting to cook supper while Zedd kept pestering her for a taste. Her sparkling blue eyes occasionally looked up at him and her special smile, the one she gave only to him, would spread across her lips.
Cara, the ever-faithful Mord'Sith, was patrolling their camp's perimeter, always on the look out for any danger that might harm her Lord Rahl.
"No! No! No! Kahlan, my dear," Zedd's voice carried over the crackling of the fire. "You're putting in way too many spices."
Richard looked up and smiled, chuckling softly at how distraught his grandfather looked over a potentially ruined supper. The man loved food so much that Richard was amazed the wizard was so thin. If Richard ate half as much as his grandfather did, he'd have a tough time trying to pull on his trousers.
Kahlan only shook her head at Zedd and tutted. "Stay away, Zedd," she said, slapping his long fingers as the wizard reached for the stirring spoon.
"My dear, I am a Wizard of the First Order, and I can tell you, with the full weight of that authority and experience," Zedd pontificated. "That you are putting too much spice in that soup of yours."
"Zedd," Richard called out, saving Kahlan. "Just let her cook."
Zedd looked down at Richard and raised his bushy eyebrows. "So now the Seeker thinks he knows a thing or two about how to make the perfect spice soup?"
Richard raised his own eyebrow and gave his grandfather a good glare. "Just wait, Zedd, you'll see. It's great!" he declared flashing a smile and winking at his Confessor.
Kahlan gave him a smile of thanks, and then went back to stirring the soup. She had insisted that she make him her special spice soup. It had been the first thing she had ever made for him.
He knew why she wanted to do it. Partly out of guilt. She still held some guilt over having killed him. Richard would always brush that aside, as if it was nothing, declaring that the knowledge that her love for him was so profound it created the one object that only the Creator herself had created before.
She'd pout and play with the flaps of his shirt, before he'd reassure her of his feelings by pulling her towards him and capturing her lips in a warm embrace. Since then, they've stolen as much kisses as possible, and were more open about their feelings for one another. Their kisses had turned more passionate, longer, and much warmer.
Zedd huffed in feigned indignation and plopped down, grabbing an apple from his pack and took a big bite, the snapping noise resounding with clarity throughout the small clearing. "At least we found that grove of apple trees… I'm starving!"
Cara, who had quietly made her way back to camp, rolled her eyes. "You're always starving, Wizard!" she huffed and sat down next to him, her red leathering creaking.
It had been three days since that fateful day. They had made excellent time crossing the desert in their return from the Pillars of Creation. As far as Richard was concerned, they couldn't get to Aydindril fast enough. After discovering her power could not harm him, Kahlan had promised Richard a night to remember in her big bed back at the Confessor's Palace. Since that wonderful kiss they had shared at the Pillars, they'd had precious little time to be alone. So Richard was eagerly awaiting their return to Aydindril. Passionate kisses stolen while the others were not watching was only going to hold him for so long.
"Are you sure we shouldn't be going to the People's Palace?" Cara inquired, looking at him, pulling him away form his pleasant reverie.
Richard cocked his head. The Mord'Sith had been on him since they had completed their quest to go back to D'Hara and claim the throne. He wanted nothing of it. Darken Rahl had to be dwelt with, to be sure, but first they had to get Kahlan back to Aydindril… and her big bed. A lazy smile spread across his lips.
"Richard!" Cara snapped, throwing a small stone at him. "You need to stop thinking of bedding the Mother Confessor long enough to think straight!"
Zedd chuckled and munched on his apple, his old eyes gleaming with amusement. Richard raised an eyebrow and smiled to himself, remembering that it was his idea to help Cara reassert her humanity. Though, he had to admit, they needed to work on her a bit more. She was far to blunt. He noticed that Kahlan was blushing by the campfire, her cheeks turning pink.
"Cara," he turned his attention to the her. "I have no intention on claiming the throne of D'Hara, and you know that."
"But you are the true Lord Rahl!" the Mord'Sith objected, throwing her hands up in frustration.
Richard looked to Zedd for help. The old wizard gave a shrug and obliged. "Cara, my dear, that scoundrel Darken Rahl is alive and the Mord'Sith are with him," he stated, bowing his head.
Cara narrowed her eyes at the wizard, before turning back to Richard.
"Rahl may be alive again, but he is not the true Lord Rahl," she contended, punctuating her remark with a flick of her head. "The wizard may be wise and all, but he's no D'Haran." She glanced at Zedd. "No offense."
"None taken," Zedd laughed.
"Richard," Cara leaned forward, becoming deadly serious. "You have to understand, it is not just your parentage that matters, but your blood."
"My blood?" Richard furrowed his brow, confused. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Kahlan look up from the soup, worry creasing her own brow at the mention of Richard's blood.
Cara withdrew one of her agiels in a flash and smirked as it hummed. "The bond between the Lord Rahl and the D'Haran people is strong."
"Bond?" Richard queried, becoming nervous.
"The Rahls have special blood," Cara declared. "And now that Darken Rahl's mind is in that imposter's body, he does not have that blood. My former Sisters of the Agiel are fools to follow him. He does not have the bond."
"And I do?" Richard asked, looking dubious.
"You have the Rahl blood, you have the bond," Cara said, rotating her agiel around in her fingers. "One day, you'll see that. One day, all of D'Hara will see that."
Richard narrowed his eyes. "Does this have something to do with how you always seem to know where I am?"
Before Cara could answer, there was a sudden commotion from the bushes off to their side. Richard sprang up—the ringing of steel filling the air as he pulled the Sword of Truth from its scabbard—ready to cut down any threat that came at them; anything that threatened Kahlan!
Cara was by his side in the blink of an eye, her agiels held at the ready.
"Stand behind me, Lord Rahl," she ordered.
Richard gave her a tight grin. "We're a team, Cara, remember?"
"Maybe, but the Mother Confessor would be beside herself in grief if anything were to happen to you," Cara responded. "And believe me, I do not want to deal with a weeping confessor." And then added, half to herself, "Again."
Before Richard could say anything else, two men stumbled out of the brush. They were big with strong shoulders and chiseled jaws. Short-cropped straw colored hair covered their heads and blue eyes gleamed in the light cast by the fire.
The two men scanned the clearing before stepping up to Richard. Instinctively Cara stepped in front of him, ready to defend her charge. But as she did, Richard noticed a change come over his friend. It was almost as if she knew these two. Immediately, before anyone could react, the two men dropped to their knees before Richard and they spoke in unison.
"Master Rahl guide us. Master Rahl teach us. Master Rahl protect us. In your light we thrive. In your mercy we are sheltered. In your wisdom we are humbled. We live only to serve. Our lives are yours."