Silk and Sand – Epilogue

A Week Later…

"Kahlan, it's so good to see you again," Sister Leya beamed, stepping aside to let them pass through the opening in the cliff face.

Kahlan grinned and gripped Richard's hand, walking in front of him. "It's good to see you, too, Sister Leya," Kahlan returned the smile and introduced Richard. "This is the Seeker, Richard Cypher."

Sister Leya's eyes appraised Richard like an overly protective mother, her gaze not missing how the Mother Confessor tightly gripped his hand. She let it slide without comment, and beckoned for them to follow. "Well, come inside," she said, waving her hand. Kahlan tugged at his hand, and Richard looked over his shoulder to watch as the gateway closed behind them.

"Sister Leya," Kahlan spoke up in a tentative voice. "I was wondering if you still had a collection of my mother's dresses?"

"Of course," Sister Leya inclined her head. "We've kept good care of them. They are still in your old room. It is as it was when you left us." She stopped and narrowed her eyes, noting that Kahlan's white dress was not a traditional white confessor's dress. She raised her eye critically, looking like a disapproving parent at how the dress Kahlan wore hugged and showed every curve of her supple womanly form, not to mention the generous amount of cleavage it displayed. "Don't tell me you've misplaced your white dress?"

Kahlan knitted her eyebrows together and swallowed. Richard could tell she was hesitant about revealing the truth about what had happened. So, being a good husband—though a secret husband, because no one was supposed to know—he relieved her of that burden. "We were caught in a mudslide after the rain, and dragged along for a couple of miles till we were able to get ourselves out of the flow. Her dress was ruined, beyond repair. So we just left it behind, hoping that if any D'Harans should happen to stumble upon it, they'd assume she had been killed or captured already."

Leya nodded, seemingly buying his hastily concocted story. As the old woman turned around to continue, Kahlan glanced up at him and mouthed a silent thank you and gave him a long look that promised to reward him later. They ate supper with the Sisters and their wards, and were reunited with Renn. The Listener was thrilled to see them, and gave them both fierce hugs. He then backed up and looked at them with that funny glint in his eye, the same he got when he was poking around in their minds, reading their thoughts.

"You've told each other, right?" he asked, quietly, sensing that they wanted things to be quiet, and knowing he did not need to say anymore than that for them to know what he was talking about.

"Yes, Renn," Kahlan inclined her head with a shy smile, blushing slightly as she reached over to interlace her fingers with Richard's. "We've told each other."

Renn smiled, and declared himself to be the best matchmaker in the entire Midlands, which earned a laugh from both Richard and Kahlan. After dinner, Sister Leya showed Kahlan to her old room, which was like she had said, exactly has it had been when Kahlan had left all those years ago. The Sister of the Light turned to take Richard to another room, when Kahlan stopped her, and, very uncharacteristically brazen, declared that it was not necessary, that the Seeker would be staying with her. Richard noticed her blush the moment she spoke, realizing that hidden implications about what she intended to do with the Seeker.

Sister Leya caught on, having already seen them holding hands. She gave Richard a cool glare. "You better treat her right, young man," the old woman said with a smirk.

Richard flushed, more with embarrassment than annoyance at being accused of doing anything less than he already did for the woman he loved more than life itself. Kahlan was his whole world and he would never do anything to hurt her, because to hurt Kahlan would mean harming his better half.

"Ah! Look!" Kahlan grinned, after they door was closed, pulling a green blanket up off the bed. She spun back at him smiling like a little girl as she hugged the blanket to her chest. When she noticed his questioning look, she smiled at him. "This was my favorite blanket when I was a child here. I would take it with me when I went on hikes in the woods. You know, in case it got too cold." Kahlan nuzzled her nose into the fabric and she practically glowed.

"We should take it with us, then," Richard offered with a smile, setting down their pack.

Kahlan looked up at him with bright eyes. "Yes, we should," she winked. "It would give us something to snuggle under after we've made love."

Richard let out a breath, caught off guard by the hunger in her eyes. "We… we should get ready for bed," he said, silently wanting to get her into bed as quickly as possible.

She nodded absently, returning to the peaceful memories of her time in Thandore as she hugged the blanket tighter to her chest. As Richard went about turning down the bed, Kahlan looked through the wardrobe and found one of her mother's spare white confessor gowns. It looked exactly liked the one that had been lost when they had been taken captive by those marauders. Richard made a crack about confessor gowns growing on trees, which justifiably earned him a playful smack on his chest. But the glint in her eyes caught his breath with the hidden message they held, reminding him of the reward she had promised him for helping with Sister Leya when they had arrived earlier that evening. Richard turned back and bolted the latch on the door, so they would not be disturbed. Kahlan rifled through her new pack and whipped out the Rada'Han, raising her eyebrows and grinning mischievously.

"Ready to make love to your Confessor, Seeker?" she asked, her voice low and husky as she stood.

"No," Richard replied, taking the collar from her hands as she raised her hair up in her hands. "But I'm ready to make love to my wife, even if no one else but me knows she's my wife." He placed the collar around her slender neck, hating that this was the only way she would let him be with her. However, that was not going to prevent him from making love to her. If this was what she wanted, then he would do it, until he could convince her the silver collar was not required.

"Well then? What are you waiting for?" Kahlan grinned as she begun to undo the folds of her dress. Richard let out a heavy breath and leaned forward, kissing her lips as he clasped the Rada'Han shut.

XXX

The following morning, still looking somewhat disheveled from their fierce and passionate love making, Richard and Kahlan left the protective walls of Thandore to continue their journey, hoping to catch up with Zedd. It had been nearly half a month since they had seen the old wizard, and to tell the truth, they were both a little worried about him. They held hands for the better part of the morning as they hiked through the hills and dales. At the edge of a forest, they stopped for lunch. Richard gazed longingly at his confessor, his secret wife, and basked in how beautiful she looked in her confessor's gown. She looked up at him and smiled coyly.

"I'll go scout up ahead," she beamed and went running out before he could say anything.

Richard stood and shook his head, wondering what he had gotten himself into. Though, he had to admit, he did like the new dynamic that had developed between them since their private union. After taking care of the fire and cleaning up their camp to hide their presence, Richard set out after his confessor… his wife. Though as he walked through the woods, he was completely unaware that a deadly predator was stalking him. He was prey and he did not know it. He ducked his head under a tree branch and stopped, narrowing his eyes, listening for any sounds that might guide him to Kahlan. It was deathly silent, except for the normal chirping of birds and buzz of insects.

Sighing, he continued on, oblivious to the fact that he was being watched from above. Suddenly it came down on him. Something hit his back and caused him to collapse to the forest floor. He rolled and swirled around, reaching for the hilt of the Sword of Truth. Using his momentum, he jumped up on his feet, freeing the sword from its scabbard ready to do battle with whatever foe had dared to attack the Seeker. When he looked up and saw a goddess dress in white, crouching in an attacking posture, his eyes softened and a smile began to form on his lips.

"What are you doing?" Richard asked, smirking, seeing the mischievous glint in her brilliant blue eyes.

Kahlan raised one dagger and twirled the other around in her hand. "Oh," she laughed slightly. "I thought you wanted me to keep you sharp!" Her tongue ran seductively over her top lip that Richard could not help but groan, remembering the magic she had worked with that tongue the previous night. She laughed and came at him.

Richard grinned and raised his sword to meet her attack. The distinctive ring of steel filled the air as his attacker laughed maniacally and launched into her attack. Steel flashed against steel as he fought off her daggers. Kahlan spun around gracefully, in fluid movements that were captivating. Her white dress flowed around her, cut up in the movement of the air, adding to her already transcended beauty, which was only heightened by her sprightly laugh and girlish grin.

He halfhearted lunged at her with his sword, not really trying to hit her. Kahlan grin grew wide, and she brought her daggers up to deflect his blow causing his sword to rise above his head. She crossed her daggers, locking the blade in place, as she raised her hands up above her head, preventing him from bringing the sword back down.

"I didn't say kill me," Richard chuckled. "And when I said that last night, I was talking about something else."

Kahlan moved her daggers to cut his back and he moved the sword with her, blocking her strike, protecting his back. "Well, if I got that close to killing you, apparently, you need practice," she gave him an amazing grin that caused his entire face to light up with joy. He moved a hand and put it on her breast, causing her a moment of distraction. He used it and pushed her back, spinning her around and bringing his sword around her. Kahlan raised her daggers and held off his blow. Her back to him, Richard found himself enthralled by the scent of her hair.

She kicked his shin. He let out a stunned grunt, and jumped back, watching as she spun around laughing, swinging her daggers at him. He dodged them, chuckling, finding this very enjoyable. He rarely got to see this playfully side of his Kahlan, and he found that he liked it.

Kahlan stopped before him, flipped a dagger in her hand and jabbed at him, all the while grinning wildly. He caught her wrist in his strong hand and held her arm back. As he raised the sword and swung it towards her, Kahlan leaned back, and Richard could not help but stare at her breasts as she arched her back to avoid the strike. Spirits, her dress hugged her curves so perfectly.

Kahlan used his moment of distraction to come at him again, but he was more than prepared this time. He caught her daggers with the Sword of Truth and captured her from behind, holding her back to him. This dance of sword and daggers was almost sexual. Richard could feel the flush of arousal coursing through his body, and judging from the look in Kahlan's eyes, as she turned her neck to look back at him, he thought she was feeling the same thing.

She spun out of his hold and then they were face to face with each holding their respective weapon poised for a lethal blow. They're breathing was heavy and both had flushed cheeks.

"I got you," he managed through panting breaths.

"No, I got you!" Kahlan smirked, pushing her dagger closer to his throat.

Richard let out a light chuckle and gazed at her heaving chest. "Kahlan…?" he said in a heavy voice. Her eyes softened, knowing what he was going to ask before he spoke it.

Kahlan lowered her eyebrows and chewed on her lower lip. "Richard… we… we've already discussed this," she said. "Until we find a way past my powers, we use the Rada'Han when… when we're intimate." She blushed.

He sighed and gave a nod of his head, conceding, at least for the time being. Richard suddenly thought of something and frowned. "Do we tell Zedd?"

Kahlan shook her head, almost going pale. "No… better not. Let… let's keep it our little secret," she suggested. Seeing his dejected look, she gave him a soft smile. "If you ever doubt my conviction, just remember the vows I spoke to you that night."

Richard gave a nod, releasing some of the tension in his arm so that he would not accidentally cut the woman he loved, though would never completely give herself to him without that collar around her neck. "Just the same," he said, looking down for a moment. "I wish you didn't have to wear that collar."

Kahlan smiled sadly. "So do I, Richard," she murmured.

With the sweat on her face, and the sunlight drifting through the trees, she looked like an angelic spirit. Richard took a deep breath and held back his yearning to kiss her. Kahlan was right. They had to keep this a secret. If the information they had gathered from the village was correct, Zedd should be around here somewhere and they would continue their quest to rid the Midlands of Darken Rahl, and everything that happened in the Angrass Valley, including their marriage, had to be kept a secret. Though, he silently wished that one day their secret marriage could be made public. Perhaps when they defeated Rahl and had freed the Midlands from his tyranny, Kahlan would consent to that. He wondered what they would do if Zedd started to push her to take a mate, would they tell him then?

Richard opened his mouth, to ask her, when he was suddenly interrupted by a familiar loud chortle. They both spun their heads around and Kahlan visibly blushed bright pink.

"I leave for a fortnight and you two are at each other's throats," the old wizard laughed, noticing their weapons poised in lethal positions.

"Zedd!" Richard was overcome with happiness to see the old man. Kahlan laughed with him, both trying to hide their embarrassment, having been lost in a conversation about things meant to be kept secret, at least for now. Kahlan lowered her daggers and moved past Richard to give the wizard a hug.

"One more day and we were going to come looking for you," Kahlan quickly breathed out, trying to hide her pink cheeks as she buried her head in the wizard's shoulder. Zedd smiled and returned her hug, looking over at Richard with his keen eyes, as if he sensed something.

"So," Zedd said, after Kahlan backed up to stand by Richard's side. "Anything interesting happened while I was gone?"

Richard and Kahlan exchanged a quick look between each other and both desperately tried not to blush. Tucked away in Kahlan's pack, hidden beneath her favorite childhood blanket, was a shiny silver collar, and they were both worried that the wizard might find it one day, when he rummaged through her pack looking for food. Zedd narrowed his eyes, seeming to sense something was up. He folded his arms across his chest and gave them both a hard glare.

"All right you two, no games," Zedd growled. "What's happened?"