Comfort

The slave dies with barely a murmur. Expertly, Dahlia catches the blood in the inkwell, lets the body drop to the floor, and smoothly hands over the fresh ink to Lord Rahl.

He dips a quill in the blood, seated at his desk, and then frowns and lets it dry on his quill, staring at nothing.

Dahlia, watching, senses that he feels the Seeker on his heels, every day a little closer…He won't talk about what happened in Tamarang, but she knows, as everyone does, that he went there for a Box of Orden he didn't acquire.

She is ready to serve him in whatever way he requires.

She tries to imagine what Cara would do. Say something witty, probably, or treat Lord Rahl as though he is her pet, her slave, instead of the other way around…Cara is so insolent—one day she's going to go too far, but Dahlia loves her for it.

Dahlia, though, isn't especially witty and she can't go against the habit of a lifetime and assert her own will over Lord Rahl's, even if that would distract him.

Dahlia comes to a decision, and smoothly sinks to her knees beside Lord Rahl's chair.

She rests her head on his lap, wordlessly offering her support, knowing he may be furious with her for this…he hates pity. But Dahlia believes in him, and she feels no pity—not for Lord Rahl, and not for the Seeker.

Her Lord Rahl is the center of her universe—his defeat is impossible. (She has been well trained.)

After a long moment, in which she imagines him angry, pushing her away, punishing her (Mord'Sith are not usually gentle, and Lord Rahl is the harshest of all), Lord Rahl reaches out and strokes Dahlia's hair, winding her braid around his fingers.

He's careful not to pull her hair, although a few strands separating from her scalp would hardly be enough pain to register for a Mord'Sith—and Dahlia remembers that sometimes, Lord Rahl is the gentlest of all.

Dahlia simply enjoys the sensual peace of the moment, patient and serene. After a time, Lord Rahl dips his quill in the blood again, and she hears it scratching against the parchment.

It is the only sound in the room, as the sun dips below the horizon, its last dying rays turning Dahlia's rather dull-colored hair to burnished gold, warm against her back.

In her own small way, Dahlia seeks to ease Lord Rahl's burdens. No one else would give him this gift of silent sympathy—and not everything is about Cara.

When Lord Rahl is finished writing, he pulls Dahlia up into his lap, where she curls up like a kitten. They stay that way as night falls, only their sharp predator eyes gleaming in the dark.