Six Years Later
Darken was overseeing Mason's afternoon lesson when Jennsen entered his study, her adopted son, Renn, right behind her.
Darken rose to greet his sister, placing a kiss on her hand and then looking up into her one remaining eye.
Truthfully, Darken was so used to the sight of Jennsen's eye patches that he hardly noticed them anymore. When it had become apparent that her pristinely ungifted nature repelled all magical attempts to help, and common healing could not restore the eye she had lost in the Fenrisulfr attack, Darken had had many different eye patches made for her in the same fabric as her dresses. Today she wore one of lavender, the crest of their house sewn over the center of the patch in darker purple thread that matched the embroidery on her sleeves.
"Kahlan is having the baby as we speak," Jennsen informed him. "She will arrive any moment now. I was sent to fetch you, so that you can witness the naming."
Darken nodded, the corners of his lips turning up in a tiny smile. "And you, nephew?" Darken asked Renn, one brow raised.
"I, ah, didn't feel I had any business being there at that precise moment," the young man said, tapping his temple with one finger to indicate that he didn't want to overhear Kahlan's thoughts during the miracle of childbirth.
Darken couldn't blame him.
"Come, Mason," Darken told his little heir. "We go to meet your new cousin."
"Can I bring Odie?" the boy wanted to know, going to the basket where his Fenrisulfr puppy chewed on a scrap of fabric.
"Very well," Darken answered when presented with his son's hopeful face. "But he must wait in the hall."
It was a short walk to the birthing chamber guarded by Lexi and Haden.
Lexi wore the brown leathers of a Mord'Sith trainee, though she had not yet earned her braid or Agiel. Renn smiled at the young Mord'Sith as they walked by, a lovesick expression that made Darken's lips twitch with amusement.
His jovial mood died as soon as he entered the birthing chamber.
Kahlan cradled a babe in her arms, but her face was twisted with anguish, tears in her eyes. Richard looked haunted, his skin ashen. He muttered something. Darken caught only one word.
Cara looked on, her gaze flicking between Richard and Kahlan, and then back again, a line of tension creasing her forehead.
"What's happened? Is the baby stillborn?" Jennsen asked with earnest bluntness.
Richard put his arm around Kahlan's shoulders, perching on the edge of the bed and pressing kisses to her hair as she began to weep harder.
"No," Cara answered for the new parents. "He's alive."
"He?" Darken echoed.
A male Confessor.
Darken closed his eyes, letting that knowledge and everything it meant sink in.
A heavy silence fell over the room, no one willing to say what had to be said.
Mason, forgotten in the tension of the moment, crept closer to the bed to peer at his cousin's face. Reaching out, he pulled at the blanket swaddling the little boy, stroking the baby's cheek with gentle fingers.
Darken bit his tongue to keep himself from ordering Mason away from the little Confessor.
Mason looked up, his Rahl blue eyes flashing with magic. "He will be blind."
He spoke in the unnaturally deep voice that meant his gift of prophecy was at work.
The baby wriggled in Kahlan's arms, tiny fingers splayed against her breast as he tried to nurse. His hands sparked with white light.
The color returned to Kahlan's cheeks as the rigors of labor were wiped from her body.
Her heart thumped twice.
A sense of presence filled the room, weighing down on them, a braying laugh accompanied by a familiar masculine guffaw floating through the air.
Richard looked down at his son, his look of anguish of the moment before transformed into wonder.
They named the boy Zeddicus.
There comes a time when you think everything is finished.
That is the beginning.
To my readers:
I just want to take a moment to say thank you to all of my readers, both old and new, but especially my betas and those readers who've been with me since Hali first found Darken Rahl stumbling around the woods. I never thought when I wrote those first scenes that I would be embarking on a journey into this world that would last more than two years. As I penned this chapter, to me it felt like not just the ending of Darken's story, but the ending of a chapter in my own life. This story - The Blood Trilogy - has meant a great deal to me over the years. I hope it has meant something to you too. And I hope this final ending was worth the wait.
As always, this story draws heavily from Norse Mythology. Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss any of the references in detail. See the endnotes of Blood from a Stone and Son of Blood for references I have previously covered.
Jormungund is a reference to the Midgard Serpent of Norse Mythology, said to have a part in the end of the world.
Hrensaga is a reference to Hrensuge, a dragon of myth that could only be defeated by the interference of a god.
The Heart Tree is a reference to Yggdrasil, the Tree of Good and Evil in Norse Mythology.
Zedd's rebirth from the tree is a reference to Odin.
Jennsen's affinity for the wolves and the loss of her eye is a reference to Odin.
Tyrn is a reference to the god Tyr of Greek Mythology.
Frekki is a reference to the Frekki of Greek Mythology, one of the children of Fenrir.