Happy Place

"You were always my favorite son," Panis Rahl smiles, and (wonder of wonders!) he's talking to Darken.

And then the Mother Confessor is there, climbing nimbly into Darken's lap, curled up like the faithless kitten who wasn't even to keep Jennsen by his side…"I said you would never know love," Kahlan whispers, "but play your cards right…and you will know mine." Her breath is hot on his ear.

There's a great crash as someone storms through his throne-room door (already it has seen better days), and Darken watches as Cara throws his baby brother, the Seeker, at his feet.

From between cracked lips, the Seeker begs: "Please, my Lord. I will do anything you ask. Just don't hurt Kahlan."

Wait—why would he hurt the Mother Confessor? How could he possibly hurt her more than the Seeker's misguided quests have already?

"My Lord," Cara grins, and he catches her looking at the Mother Confessor. Who wouldn't? Darken grins, as new images fill his mind.

"And the Boxes of Orden?" he asks.

"My Lord, they are unnecessary," says the Wizard. The one who, by rights, should have been Darken's teacher. Instead, he serves the Seeker—or did, until now. "You have already subjugated the Midlands—everywhere, there is peace. Your peace."

As Darken smiles, Jennsen says, from where she sits at his feet, playing with a new kitten, "Grandfather is right. All is well. We can be a happy family again."

Again? When—but it doesn't matter. Surrounded by those he loves, Darken simply basks.

Until Kahlan's whispers and Cara's eyebrows become too much for any man to resist…

"Should we wake him?" The boy is young, a stripling to be trained for the Dragon Corps. Egremont looks him over critically.

"What is it to you?" he demands.

"Mistress Cara said to tell him they're ready," the boy explains nervously.

Egremont glances at the sleeping form of his master. He looks so peaceful this way.

"Let him rest," he decides. "He's in his happy place."

"Okay," mutters the boy, "but Mistress Cara's just going to yank off the covers and tell him the Seeker's nothing to keeping a Mord'Sith waiting, like last week…"

Egremont privately thinks Lord Rahl will enjoy Mistress Cara's wake-up call far more than the boy's, and there is no reason for journeybook ink this close to the inevitable battle with the Seeker.

He closes the door behind him, watching the boy until he is out of sight. Then he sighs. "Sweet dreams, my Lord," he says, mind uncomfortably dwelling on all the years he has served the House of Rahl. "Sweet dreams."