Reflections

Darken Rahl stepped through the drafty halls of the People's Palace, making his way to the lush vibrant garden that was kept for his enjoyment in the very center of the palace. Long ago, when his ancestors had built it, they had formed the entire palace into a giant spell that magnified the powers of any Rahl. And the Garden of Life was at the center of that spell.

His most loyal commander, Demmin Nass, was awaiting him at the entrance to the garden. Rahl gave a small smirk as the general stepped aside and gestured into the lush green paradise that hid amongst the dark tan pillars of the palace. Rahl narrowed his dark eyes as he peeked inside the Garden of Life.

He thought it amusing that his ancestors had named the palace the Garden of Life. It hardly saw much life nowadays. Though Rahl had ensured that the plants were tended to, not really for the aesthetics of the place, but out of respect for his ancestors. They had put such hard work into the place. It seemed a shame to let it fall into ruin.

Sitting in the center of the garden with a bowed head, looking very timid and afraid, was a little boy. Rahl's lips curled into a cruel smile and he ran his fingers slowly across his lips, resisting the temptation to wet them and smooth out his eyebrows, a nervous habit he had tried to suppress since he had murdered of his father.

His father. He gave a harrumph in disgust. Panis Rahl. Now there was a fool.

As a child Darken Rahl had been loved, after a fashion. He was the young prince, the future Lord Rahl of D'Hara and was doted on by his mother and father. His every whim was granted. While he stared at the child, he wondered if this boy's parents had doted on him. Rahl had, after all, requested an only child. It worked better when the child had no siblings.

He turned to Nass. "The boy is untouched?"

"As you commanded, my lord," Nass bowed his head, grinning wickedly. "I checked myself."

Rahl raised an eyebrow and a cruel grin drifted across his lips. "I'm sure you did," he said. "However, if he should prove to be spoiled, I shall have your head."

Nass appeared to pale for a second, but he remained calm. "I did not touch him, my lord. There are others awaiting me elsewhere."

Rahl narrowed his eyes. He found it disgusting what Nass did with those little boys. It was Nass' only weakness, and Rahl felt that one day it would come back to haunt the general. However, for the moment, Rahl did not care what Nass did on his own time, so long as the general served him loyally and faithfully, he could do whatever he wanted. General Egremont disapproved, but he was a stuffy old prude.

Rahl dismissed the general with a wave of his hand and proceeded into the Garden of Life, thinking of his own childhood.

Discovering his powers had been exhilarating. His father had wanted Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander to instruct him on how to use those powers, but the wizard had become withdrawn and secretive, sticking to his chambers in the Wizard's Keep in Aydindril. Later Rahl had learned that it had been the death of the Zeddicus' own father that had resulted in the First Wizard's change of behavior towards his father.

Since the First Wizard would not teach him, Panis Rahl had hired other, lesser wizards to instruct him in the magical arts. Rahl loved learning of the things he could do with a simply wave of his hand and the muttering of a few words. He would experiment with Wizard's Fire on stray cats and birds. When he grew bored of that, he'd find some servant boy to test it on.

His father would punish him for that, but it was worth it just to hear the screams his magic caused on the servants and to smell the burnt scent of human flesh. He rolled his eyes back into his head and licked his lips, remembering how sweet it was when he had nearly killed a servant. But, always, afterwards, his father would apologize for the beatings, telling him that he only did so to teach him a lesson.

Then, sometime before his tenth birthday, his mother died. His father became withdrawn and hardly spoke to him. So Rahl sought attention elsewhere… with women.

It was not until he fully entered puberty, that his tastes turned more sexual. He'd feel them and explore their bodies, learning all he could about how they worked and which ways best to derived every ounce of pleasure from them. And his father's Mord'Sith were very accommodating in this regard. They would do whatever he wanted in wherever he wanted. When his taste turned even darker, he'd have the Mord'Sith bring him some virgin whom he could deflower then cut apart with his knives and explore her insides.

Then, his father learned of the prophecy of the Son of Brennidon. How Rahl hated that day. His father would leave the palace for days at a time never to be heard of. Then one day, he came back and started boasting that he had gotten some woman in Brennidon heavy with child and that she was due to give birth any day now.

Rahl was furious. When his father was away he had brought in his servants and rung the full prophecy out of them. Now he knew what the prophecy was, and that his father was siring a son that would one day kill him. How could his father do that to him? Him! Darken Rahl, his legitimate son and the heir to the throne of D'Hara!

When his father returned, Rahl confronted him, only to have his father proclaim that Rahl would never be the Master of D'Hara. In a fit of rage, he slew his own father and took command of the Dragon Corp. He told Commander General Trimack of the First File to dispose of his father's remains, then elevated his friend Demmin Nass to general and commander of the Dragon Corp, ordering him to kill all the first born sons of Brennidon.

That had been the start of his reign. After inspecting the handiwork of his soldiers, pleased with the result, Rahl returned to the People's Palace confident he had averted the prophecy.

He quickly began to spread out his armies to conquer the Midlands, and bring everyone under his control. The world was such a chaotic place, cruel and twisted. Someone needed to bring order and peace to it. And that person was to be him. The Confessors of Aydindril had resisted, so Rahl sent quads after them. Quads could always kill a confessor.

Four was just the right number. You might risk one or two getting confessed, depending on the powers of the confessor, and the third may be killed, but there was always one left to kill the exhausted confessor, who was too weak after expelling her powers to fight back.

The wizards, who had defended the confessors for ages, were easily intimidated. Some were even bought with gold. Like Giller. Giller had been the wizard assigned to protect the beautiful young confessor Kahlan Amnell, who had recently evaded capture, much to Darken Rahl's displeasure. Now, however, Giller served Rahl. And it had been Giller who had told him of an ancient rite used by the dark wizards of old to gain even more power.

Now, seeking that power, Rahl slowly walked through the lush trees and flowers of the Garden of Life towards the little boy. It was time to give the Keeper another soul in exchange for the powers of the Underworld. The Keeper had granted him immortality and the ability to wield subtractive magic. All he had to do was sacrifice a untainted soul each day. Soon, Rahl would be unstoppable.

A thin cruel smile spread across his lips, as Rahl slowly removed a dagger from his belt and approached the child from behind.