Disclaimer: Legend of the Seeker is the property of ABC, SOT is the property of Terry Goodkind, World of Darkness does not belong to me, quote is from Interstate 60 which also does not belong to me.
Notes: I love AU stories. The what might have beens and whys are the most interesting questions. The big bang project that and I worked on might still be created someday so I'm leaving out the plot but I want to write some of the world we intended to use. So credit to booknerdguru. For inspiration; Star Trek The Next Generation had an episode where Worf bounced through the multiverse, "Cascade Point" by Timothy Zahn helped me visualize a structure for the multiverse, and the Amber series by Roger Zelazny helped give me narrative ideas. samvimes_ftw proofread this section. This particular plot bunny bit after reading one of meridian_rose's AU stories. Ideas I got during conversations with 16beckyb, pristineungift, dorothydeath, hrhrionastar, and meridian_rose are present.
Richard set foot in the village of Cowholt, currently under D'Haran occupation. No one would look him in the eye and one old woman moved back inside her cottage when she saw him coming. Zedd walked in to the inn first and Richard noted the way the two men by the hearth spat and muttered. "What's going on?" Richard murmured to Zedd.
"I don't know," Zedd muttered back, bushy brows drawn together. He turned to look at Kahlan. "Do you have an explanation?"
Darken had finally relaxed with the news that the Seeker had been killed. He allowed himself a day of revelry before setting his mind to what his enemies would do next. The Seeker might be the one prophesied to defeat him but if the prophecy could be averted by him, then his enemies could avert the prophecy in their own way. He needed to buy time.
The first step was to muddy the waters. Darken seeded false prophecies. Some were vague references to mythology so old only the very wealthy could afford the books they were recorded in. Some were contradictory nonsense based around real prophecies.
Getting them into circulation was laughably easy. All he had to do was act like he was hunting down their origins and terrified they might be true.
Darken kept his amusement to himself.
Kahlan cleared her throat softly. "They think he's an agent of Rahl."
"But he has the Sword of Truth," Zedd whispered vehemently.
The Confessor's lips thinned. "I'll tell you when we've eaten."
Darken came to an answer as he practiced his swordplay. If he were the Confessors and their pet wizards, he wouldn't give up on a weapon as potent as the Seeker. The Sword of Truth was still out there and there were still wizards to Name a Seeker. The death of a prophesied infant wasn't something he'd allow to halt any of his own plans.
It was only a matter of time before they decided that now that his baby brother was dead, it was time for someone else to take up the mantle of Seeker. They'd be recruiting from the upper classes. Learning to use a sword was time consuming and expensive. The Midlands had too many ambitious nobles to choose from. Who would turn down the opportunity to be adored by thousands?
There was no way for Darken to suborn them all or even guess which ones would be most likely to be conscripted. What he had to do was discredit the title.
"Everyone knows what the Sword of Truth looks like," Kahlan said softly over a bowl of stew. "There are many stories. There's an unfortunate truth to them. We Confessors have been fighting it but people-"
"People will believe things because they want them to be true or they fear they are true," Zedd finished.
"Yes," Kahlan looked intently at the wood grain of the table.
"What does that have to do with the Sword?" Richard asked.
There were descriptions of the Sword of Truth in several histories. Darken recruited several blacksmiths to create replicas. The first of these replicas went into play just after Darken's nineteenth birthday.
At first, they were just swords. Lifeless pieces of metal that physically resembled the Sword of Truth. It wasn't enough to fool a wizard, sorcerer, or Confessor.
Then again, few people had magic enough to know the difference.
"Brian the Bloody," Kahlan said in a low voice, "was from a small village in the mountains near D'Hara. When we sent Silas out to meet him when we found out his sword was a forgery. He didn't believe Silas and declared the Confessors to be corrupt."
"When was this?" Zedd said between bites.
"About twenty years ago." Kahlan said. "He was killed at the Battle of Two Sheep."
Darken continued to learn new spells. He had limited strength but finesse could be just as good in some circumstances. He began practicing on the Sword forgeries. He started off with relatively simple but useful spells. Blades that wouldn't rust. Blades that wouldn't break.
"Keillor the Kind's sword was magical," Kahlan continued. "But it wasn't the Sword of Truth. He made a heroic last stand at the Well of Hope about fourteen years ago."
Richard shook his head from side to side. "But they needed a wizard to Name them."
"Not everyone believed that," Kahlan said. "They accused the wizards of being jealous among other things. Our ally, Giller, defected shortly after that."
With Giller's help, Darken began trying flashier spells. A Sword that glowed when the wielder's hands reached a certain temperature. A Sword that caught sunlight and discharged it when it was drawn from its scabbard.
Then he began learning how to layer spells and it became a hobby all on its own. He was developing an artistic appreciation for the Sword. Without seeing it, he couldn't know what had gone into its creation but it had to be incredibly complex.
"Sel's sword glowed just like in the legends. Anferoth couldn't convince him that that wasn't proof that he was divinely chosen to be the seeker. About twelve years ago, Sel negotiated a cease fire between the Resistance and Lord Rahl." Kahlan said sourly. "Two weeks later, when word got back to Aydindril, Mother Confessor Serena declared it illegitimate. Sel was hanged as a traitor. Less than a month later, Morgan emerged wielding another Sword and the Resistance divided against itself. Cowholt was one of the villages that withdrew."
"But that was more than ten years ago," Richard said in disbelief.
"It got worse," Kahlan said.
Being able to layer spells led to exciting new possibilities. In cooperation with his sorcerers, Darken added traps to the decorative and utilitarian spells. He had three favorites.
There were many options for potentially nasty spells and they all took a lot of power. Fortunately, swords were in the unique position of being able to capture and harness power. Blood would always be an important component in sorcery. It was life and birth and death. The Sword could capture that power and use it to fuel the more difficult spells. For pure power and artistry, Darken's favorite was the Sword that captured the souls of those the wielder killed and paraded them before him whenever he drew it.
For deviousness, Darken liked the Sword that released a pulse of pleasure whenever the wielder used it to kill someone. He and his sorcerers had worked that one out after an extended study of how and why Agiels worked. Even better, they added in a hook to make the wielder crave that pleasure more with each death.
Darken's third favorite Sword was one of the more subtle ones. The more the wielder used it, the more he lost control over his emotional reactions. Anger, sadness, happiness, fear, all were eventually overwhelming and given time, would lead to the would-be Seeker being a bundle of raw nerves.
"We tried to gather all the forgeries we could find but we couldn't catch them all," Kahlan said in a low whisper. "And not everyone cooperates. Sometimes they even steal them back when we try to move them."
"You didn't think this was worth mentioning before?" Zedd asked in a voice of distant thunder.
"Would it have changed anything? Would you have believed me?" Kahlan demanded.
Zedd paused and sighed heavily. "We knew it wouldn't be easy but I thought Richard would have the people behind him."
"You had to see for yourself. We should leave soon before they gather the courage to attack us." Kahlan said.
"We'll have to change our route. We should avoid people when possible," Zedd sighed as he stood.
Richard glanced around the inn again and met the sullen, angry stares of the people he'd come to help.