I've had this idea floating around in my head for a while, and then the prompts for lots_pornbattle went up and I prompted 'Darken/Kahlan, a strong man makes a strong mate.' Well, no one took it in the first two days, and I'm impatient, so here I go. Probably has (a lot) more plot than most sexy fics, but that's just how I roll. Also incorporates the lots_pornbattle Cara/Kahlan prompt 'harsh beauty' to a certain extent. Plus Salindra. Because I like her.
The full NC-17 version of this story will be made available on my LJ. The chapters that are different will be notated at the top. The cover art for this story is available on my profile page.
Title: For All That We Have and Are
Betas: madmguillotine ; manders11685
Warnings: Explicit sexuality; lack of free will; slight non-con; prostitution; contains both femslash and het, in that order.
Summary: What if the Confessors had not had a way to cross the Boundary? What would they do to save the Midlands if the Seeker was lost to them? A strong man makes a strong mate, and who could be stronger than a king upon a bloody throne. AU. Darken/Kahlan. Cara/Kahlan/Salindra. Salindra/Kahlan.
For All That We Have and Are
No easy hopes or lies
Shall bring us to our goal,
But iron sacrifice
Of body, will, and soul.
There is but one task for all –
For each one life to give.
Who stands if freedom fall?
Who dies if England live?
-For All We Have and Are, Rudyard Kipling
"Kahlan," Dennee whispered, grasping for her older sister's hands in the dark.
"I'm here, Dennee," Kahlan reassured her, reaching across the ground they slept on.
The Forest of the Night Wisps was gone, as if it had never been there, though Kahlan and others who had a connection with the tiny Forest Fae could still hear them whisper in the back of their minds. They were not dead, but hidden. Hidden so completely, that even when standing in the center of their forest, all you saw was sky.
"What will we do now?" Dennee whispered, pulse in her throat as she struggled to remain calm. Bringing The Book of Counted Shadowsto the Seeker across the Boundary had seemed an almost unattainable mission before.
Now it was completely impossible.
"We return to the Mother Confessor," Kahlan answered, refusing to flinch, to give in to despair for even a moment. One moment of weakness, no matter how small, and she would go completely mad. "Mother Confessor Serena will have a new plan. That's why she's Mother Confessor."
"She is a hard woman," Dennee said without inflection.
"These are hard times," Kahlan returned, not so neutrally.
They slept fitfully, or pretended to sleep for each other's sake. When dawn broke, painting the horizon red, they mounted their horses and rode back the way they had come, away from the Boundary.
And the Seeker.
"My lord," Egremont bowed, journey book in hand. "Our territories are inquiring as to whether they should send representatives and gifts to celebrate D'Hara's National Festival."
Gazing out at his gardens from the window seat in his council chamber, Darken raised a hand. "Why do you pester me with such trivialities, Egremont?"
Egremont strode carefully out of his lord's reach, making it appear natural for him to do so, then answered, "Such matters are traditionally the province of the queen, my lord. But as you have neglected to take a wife…"
Darken waved the concern away, irritation in the stiffness of his hand. "I am young yet, Egremont. Let us not speak of this matter today. I trust your judgment in planning the National Festival."
"Yes, Lord Rahl," Egremont inclined his head, feeling his heart sink. He so hated planning social events.
"Now, let us move on to more important things. Tell me of the positioning of my troops."
Mother Confessor Serena frowned, turning her back on Kahlan and Dennee. Her thoughts were a jumble, her heart made of stone. If finding the Seeker had become impossible without a cadre of wizards to bring down the Boundary, then there was only one avenue left open to them.
It was the obvious plan, though dangerous. It was an unethical plan, with only one chance of succeeding. It broke one of the fundamental laws Confessors lived by.
But Serena would sooner destroy all she stood for herself, than allow bloodthirsty D'Hara to burn Aydindril to the ground.
"I was afraid it would come to this," she said softly. "Gather the rest of your sisters. We must speak of grave things."
Meeting each other's eyes, worry in their gazes, Kahlan and Dennee complied.
There were so few of them left. Once a full council of all the Confessors would have filled the room, spilled out into the hall. Now there were barely enough of them to fill the first two rows of seats in the Mother Confessor's audience chamber. Some, like Mother Confessor Serena, wore grime streaked dresses of white that had seen better days. Others were garbed in black that did not show the wear, but highlighted the paleness of their skin, the gauntness of their faces.
The loss of hope.
"Confessors," Serena began, "the mission to the Seeker has failed." She waited for the cries of dismay to pass. "But all is not lost. There is another way to save ourselves, and the Midlands. But –" she paused to survey all the faces watching her. Some were hopeful, others broken with sorrow. All were dirty and less bright than the faces of young women should be.
"But it will break one of the fundamental tenants by which we live. I will force no one to do this. Whoever accepts this mission, this task, must choose it. Know that we break one of our own laws to uphold the rest of them." Serena's gaze rested on Kahlan. She had always thought Kahlan would be Mother Confessor some day. If any of the women before her was strong enough, hard enough to do what she was about to ask…
It would be Kahlan.
"Our spies speak of plans for the D'Haran National Festival. There will be amusements and gifts to Lord Rahl. One of the traditional gifts given is the gift of concubines."
There was a gasp, and Serena nodded, "Yes. The last path open to us, my daughters, is to confess Lord Rahl himself. One of you must take him as your mate, and become queen of D'Hara."
"It is forbidden for any Confessor save the Mother Confessor to become a head of state," someone sitting behind Kahlan said in a low voice. "Lest we become as corrupted as those we fight against."
Serena nodded, "And that is why I will not command this of anyone. I am too old to pass as a concubine, but neither are any of you ready to be Mother Confessor. Yet, we must do this or face extinction."
Again, her eyes rested on Kahlan.
There was a moment of silence broken only by hushed whispers, an interminable stretch of time in which Serena could see the future of her people dwindling before her.
And then Kahlan stood. "I will go," she said with quiet conviction.
All the Confessors in the room turned to her as Dennee cried out, "No! It is too dangerous!"
Kahlan stroked Dennee's face, "Not any more dangerous than being the Seeker's Confessor."
"I will come with you," Dennee clutched at Kahlan's hands, fire in her eyes. "Darken Rahl is known to favor blondes. I have a greater chance of succeeding than you," she fingered Kahlan's smoky black hair, the velvet night to Dennee's sunny golden locks.
"Only one may go," the Mother Confessor interrupted. "And I think it should be Kahlan."
Dennee met her eyes, and in that moment knewthat the Mother Confessor knew she had taken a mate, and was even now with child. To take another mate while the first yet lived would be to break not one, but two tenants of their kind. The Mother Confessor was only willing to bend far enough to preserve their people.
Dennee bowed her head, "As you say, Mother Confessor."
Thinking of the horrors committed by and in the name of Darken Rahl, Kahlan began to tremble. She would bed the beast that consumed the land and washed the rivers in blood, and she would make him her husband.
No - husband implied love, and that was something a Confessor could never have. Darken Rahl would be less than a husband, and more.
He would be her mate.
As if sensing her thoughts, the Mother Confessor gently took Kahlan's arm, drawing her towards the door that led to Serena's private chambers. "Come. We must make you ready."
As one, the remaining Confessors stood. They watched as Kahlan Amnell turned to prepare, to take on this dangerous mission, this sacrifice, for them all. Though not one made a sound, one word rang silently among them, an echo that was felt rather than heard.