TITLE: The Winds Return

AUTHOR: Robswandering

CHARACTERS: Richard Rahl / Kahlan Rahl / George Zeddicus Rahl / Chaylan / Jarek / Liam /

RATING: R / M

WARNINGS: No Warning

TIMELINE: After Season 2, 26 years

DISCLAIMER: This is a creative license to use some of my favorite Programs from Legend of the Seeker Television show and develop a more in depth personal view of one possible future for Richard and Kahlan.

SUMMARY:
Chapter 1: Opening Sequence and introduction of new Characters, new plot line and historical references to past events that may lead to the events taking place in this story. This First chapter takes the reader through the introduction of George, a young man who finds himself in the Wizards keep with the sword of truth and a destiny that he is desperately running from finally catches up to him. It also develops new character relationships with three young swordsman as Kahlan and Cara desperately search for Richard Rahl who seems to have disappeared. Richard explores this new place he's been transported to and finds that his location is rather familiar, if not precarious.

The Male Confessor

The Papyrus and empty ink bottles jostled across the gray stone floor when the window flew open ushering in the rain and wind. The figure in the plain robes looked up from his reading glaring at the intrusion and nearly going blind at the bright flashing glares that struck the night sky while rushing to shutter and lock the windows for the second time this evening.

"Seems as though magic is afoot wizard," whispered the voice of a young lithe and lean muscled boy of twenty or so years lying against the far book shelves. The shadowed tale tell signs of a sheathed sword in its scabbard lay across his lap. Sweat beaded on his forehead and rolled down his face in rivulets drenching his already soaked tunic. Dark and sunken eyes stared out across the room in stark contrast to the pale pastiness of his skin. The earthy colors of his clothing different than one would normally see in Aydindril. Part of his chosen profession the wizard assumed going back to his work flipping through another page before rubbing some leaves together over a small bowl boiling on a burner on the stone table in the middle of the room.

The Wizard grunted noncommittally "Hmm. Almost done boy, just a few more moments." He stuck his tongue out between his teeth running his finger down the next page of a large leather tome. "I think, hmmm, perhaps that will work," He said to himself pouring the contents of a dark gray bottle into the bowl. "Ok…" He held up the bowl and shook in a circular motion, three times clockwise, then once counterclockwise. "I… I think we're, almost, ready."

The boy smiled incredulously in spite of the pain now working its way through the front of his forehead. "What wizard? Did you forget the eye of Gar? Or perhaps you forgot to draw the magical symbols in the right order?" His face looked even worse than before, his cheeks and eye lids drooped and heavy under a thin brow. His handsome chiseled features offset by a curve that softened the sharpness of those features with disheveled short brown hair and skin that looked even paler than before.

The wizard chuckled good naturedly playing off the air of danger that toyed with the circumstances. "No, no, boy, don't be fool-" The bowl hit the floor its contents spilling out across the stone as the Wizard now able to fully see the sword lying on the boys lap pointed at it with a bony finger.

"See Wizard," The boy huffed, clearly out of breathe watching the bowl roll across the room and flipping upside down.

The Wizards motionlessness was disconcerting. As If he had suddenly walked into a trap odf air that made him perfectly still. That is till he found his voice and pointed at the sword lying in the boys lap. "Where. did. you. get. that?" The good natured sing song voice had evaporated into a menacing rasp. As if by magic the air in the room got heavier, candles flickered threatening to extinguish the light from the room and every piece of wood in the room groaned with the sound of its very splinters expanding.

"What? This?" The boy patted the sword, "I was ordered to bring it here in case there was trouble."

"Trouble?" The wizard threw up his arms in exasperation. "What kind of trouble are we talking about boy?" The wizard pulled up his robes to squat in front of the boy, his nose a scant inches from the boys. He tried again, this time bringing his voice to a whisper attempting to mask it with a more civil tone. Scaring the boy wouldn't bring answers. "What kind of trouble are we talking about, boy?"

"He's gone, he's just gone..." The boy was rapidly losing consciousness. His eyes closed momentarily.

The wizards' look of impatience was barely containable. "Who's gone? Why do you have this?" The tenuous control he had kept on his voice was lost in the torrent of fear rapidly replacing it. "Where is Richard Rahl?! Where is the Seeker?!"

"Gone, he's gone wizard, so I brought the…" Darkness threatened to take him. "I brought the sword to the Keep as he instructed." The boy was barely hanging on now. There wasn't much time.

"Gone" The wizard echoed in the cavernous room. "Gone where boy?"

"I don't know, Wizard, he simply vanished, but there was this chill to the air like death itself stepped out of nothingness and just took him." The boy looked into the Wizards eyes and gulped in a breath sitting up a bit straighter against the bookshelf. "There is one more thing The Mother… asked me to tell you before she sent me."

"The Mother..?" The wizard leaned back a moment, "The Mother Confessor?"

The boy nodded, "My mother."

The Wizard backed away quicker than a deer scenting a predator. "Your mother is the Mother Confessor?!"

The boy nodded again, his eyes closed, his face if possible paler than before. The steady staccato sound of water trickling down the window sill and falling to the stone floor, the flickering and popping of the flames on the brazier warming the room, and the whistling of the wind through the natural ventilations of the keep were the only movement present. Everything else had frozen in time for but a moment.

"Bags! Nothing is ever easy." The wizard stared at the bowl and its contents strewn about the floor. "Bags, that concoction would have killed you boy! Why didn't you say you were a Confessor?" Silence filled the room. The boy lay there silently, chin resting on his chest as his breathing slowed. The wizard touched his index finger to the boys' forehead "There that ought to hold you while I prepare the right spell."

The Sunlight shown through the tall slim window high above as the sun reached its midmorning stand to glare straight into the face of the young man. He moved his scarred hand across his face to lessen the intensity of the light and opened his eyes. It was a momentary blink and then he was sitting straight up.

The room was gray, that is to say the walls were gray and made of stone, and he noted the vertical lines and angles of the mountain and deduced he was in one of the quarters off the eastern wing. The moss next to the window was growing on the ledge away from sunlight and moving up the northern wall. He stood placing his feet firmly on the carpeted stone floor half expecting to lose his balance again with the fever overtaking him as it did the previous night just as he made it into the old wizards study. He remembered laying there practically unconscious attempting to speak, perhaps a quip or two and then suddenly it felt like the whole room seemed to close in on him so fast it threatened to crush him.

He moved to the chest scenting of pine at the end of the bed and pulled on his breaches lying neatly laundered across it. The smell of soap permeated the room as the water in the washbowl on the table near the door steamed with the heat of it. "Interesting," He whispered to himself. "The wizard must've known when I would wake." He stared at his own reflection in the mirror placing both hands on the table breathing in the heat of the water as the cold frigid air of winter blew in through the window. The color had returned, but the gash along the length of his brow had been mended and bandaged. He noted the imperfect scar that bisected his left eyebrow and as a fleeting thought grimaced at the fatness of his lip. He lightly pulled it only to find his whole face recoil at the pain that seared through his teeth and jaw. "Guess some things even an old wizard can't fix." He murmured to himself.

"No, some lessons can only be taught through pain, boy." The old man's voice echoed through the cavernous room as he stood just outside the doorway, his plain brown robes swishing about his feet by some unseen force. "You are George Zeddicus Rahl, I presume."

The boy straightened at the appellation. "Ahh, so there is some intelligence in this old keep yet. How long did it take you to figure that out?"

The Old Wizard slyly smiled and flicked his hand. The boy jumped at the slight pinch on his backside, "A funny quip is one thing boy, but insolence isn't attractive by any standard."

"Good to know," George bent down and laced up his doeskin boots, "You were right though, about the name, but I don't have much use for it." He sighed. "Everyone calls me Geezer."

The old Wizard nodded imperceptibly, "There are many people in this world, it seems self-serving and a bit naive that wish to be called anything other than who they are. You sadly are not a unique curiosity in that respect"

"Sometimes, I don't want to be myself. You know? Fathers the Seeker and a War-Wizard. Mother's a confessor, The Mother Confessor." He shrugged. "Tough to live up to the reputation that's already been established for me. Especially when I'm not even sure I want it."

"Have you already confessed, boy?" The wizards question was pointed and barbed with purpose. He placed his hands in his sleeves.

"I have," The glassy look in his eyes seemed to pull him back to another time. "I was fourteen. She was a girl I liked. Her name was Aian. She…" He cleared his throat as the lump slowly rose. "She was the same age as me and beautiful, and smart, and she had these eyes that seemed to explore the world in ways I never knew existed. We were out walking in the gardens just past Kings Row, you know the place?"

The wizard nodded in affirmation, but said nothing. His silence was a clear indication he wished the boy to continue.

George sat down on the chest at the end of the bed and smiled at the memory. "Well, we were talking about the Ja la Rahl tournament and that Barian, he's the baller for the Aydindril team, well he's really good, but anyways, she dropped a pendant her mother had given her and we both reached down to pick it up and bumped heads." He laughed jovially as he remembered the look on her face holding her hand to her forehead laughing all the while. "She couldn't stop laughing." He chuckled, "Then it happened." His laughter died as suddenly as it began. "I bent down to pick it up and when I sat up she kissed me. At first I didn't know what happened, but then I sort of melted into it and we both felt this… this jolt like when every fiber of your body seems to get hit at once by lightning, but there was no sound, just this strange sensation. I didn't know where it had come from, but then she looked at me with this glazed expression on her face and said, 'Command me Master'.

"What did you do after that boy?" The Wizards tone was unquestionably clear. The next few moments would be crucial.

"Well, most boys my age back then were stepping all over themselves just to get a glimpse of a smile from Aian pointed in their direction. I, me, George Zeddicus Rahl, had this beautiful girl falling over herself just to obey my every whim. What would any other boy do?"

"I see," The disapproving grimace was enough to mark the Wizards assumption of unsavory events that possibly followed. He moved toward the boy slowly until he stood a few feet from him, the hems of his robes still swishing ominously. "Follow me,"

George Zeddicus Rahl met Wizards stare. "I'm not done yet."

"What boy?" The wizards rather terse reply.

"That's not the end of the story Wizard." He took a deep breathe. "For a while everything was great, she would do anything I asked of her. Walk with me, talk with me about anything. Do anything, but if you're thinking I did anything to soil the honor of the girl, I'll have you know I never touched her. Not once."

"But the thought crossed your mind boy." The Wizard put in with that indelible skepticism. "Didn't it?"

"No." He met the Wizards challenging glare with one of his own before continuing. "She became something else entirely. She wasn't the Aian I knew. She wasn't herself. It's like the light was on, but somehow the brightness had somehow dimmed from brilliant sunlight to that of a torch barely holding its own." The tear fell from his eye and rolled down his face before dripping from his dimpled chin and falling to the floor. "She was gone. I killed my best friend and what was left, well… It wasn't her."

The old wizard gently placed his hand on the boys shoulder and channeled warmth of the additive giving him peace as the tears rolled and finally subsided. "You are definitely your fathers' son George."

"I told my mother. I begged her to help Aian. I begged my father, but he said there was nothing that could be done to bring her back. I…" He looked up, anger momentarily flashing in his eyes as he wiped them with the sleeve of his shirt and pulled on his leather coat. "Nothing could be done Wizard! Nothing!"

"It is a difficult path that we magical creatures walk my boy, a difficult path indeed." The old Wizard handed the boy a cloth from the table with the basin.

George continued when he had calmed. "It is odd, but my mother was more furious that I'd waited to tell her than the actual doing. I thought she was going to call lightning from the sky and blister my backside right there, but my father calmed her. Back then I thought that her duties as the Mother Confessor weighed on her so much that perhaps she reacted as her post warranted. "

"That's not the case?" The Wizard asked intrusively. His sincere interest belied his purpose for being there.

George shook his head as he pulled his cotton shirt over his head and tied the ties. "No, she was afraid for me. For what would happen if certain people found out I could wield the power of a confessor." He stood up and strapped the baldric around him at last attaching the sword of truth that had been propped against the chest. "Can you Imagine Wizard? A male confessor?" He stood staring at the Wizard with an incredulous expression clearly expecting a response.

"Indeed, those dark days were many years ago George, but I tell you that those days will not return if we are careful." The Wizard lifted a bony finger in the air to accentuate his point. "If... we are careful."

"Indeed, Wizard. That is why I came." He cleared his throat, "Not only to protect the sword, but also to seek the help of the Wizards."

"What help do you wish to seek?" The Wizard watched as a Hawk alighted on the sill of the tall window and eyed them carefully.

"I wish to be free of the Confessors Curse." George replied with a tone of blatant finality. "I wish to be done with it, to be normal. I don't want to risk the lives of everyone I come into contact with by a simple touch."

The Swordsman and the Mord Sith

The Sun glistened through the trees of the lower Ven forest inundating the dust motes floating restlessly through the air with a strange, almost mysterious, tint. The trees still baring long slender leaves as the fall months had barely enough time to turn its canopy hues of red, yellow and orange. The forest floor was musky and wet with the hint of wood smoke wafting into the air somewhere in the distance to the west. The combination of dust, fog and setting sunlight cast dancing shadows of three men moving and pivoting through the motions of ancient blade exercises across the clearing surrounded by dense forest. Their blades cast reflections of light in the dying sunlight that pierced into the darkness of the trees. They moved as one dancing in and out interweaving footwork between each other blades never touching, but always a hairs width from one wrong move and instant death awaited.

Finally with sweaty brows the three came to a sudden and abrupt kneeling halt, each facing each other like corners of a triangle before a sword. The tip of the blades hung a toes width above the ground and the hilts resting firmly against their foreheads. In the sudden stillness the moments passed till the tallest of the three stood, "All right gents, I think that's enough for one day. We'll pick this up again tomorrow."

The other two men stood lightly. One was short, yet stocky, his shoulders wide and chest equally so with chiseled features and eyes like those of a prowling cat, slightly pointed at angles offsetting the flat of his nose and dark smooth olive skin. The freckles on his face belied a boyish charm that disguised a quick mind and an equally talented tongue. His disarming smile was infectious and served him well more times than he could count in getting out of a scrape or two. His name was Liam, which in Westland culture was more often associated with the feminine Lia. Not a name he would have chosen for himself. His mother named him, thinking it would grow on him, but luckily his good fortune changed since his father had caught him sleeping in the goat pen one morning after an evening of carousing he had earned the name thereafter 'Goat'. More pleasing, he had thought, than being teased for his rather feminine appellation.

"Goat!" pause "Liam! Did you hear me?" The taller man smacked Liams head with the flat of his blade. The taller man noted the refocused attentive glare. "We'll pick this up again in the morning."

Liam's face screwed up in pain as he slapped the blade away. "Ouch, alright Chay, tomorrow morning, I'll be here" Liam rubbed the back of his head massaging away the sting as he moved off through the trees.

The two men still standing in the clearing donned their shirts and cloaks and, Jarek, the shorter, but only by half a hands length leaned against the trunk of a tall tree. His face was slender like the rest of his body, he moved with the fluid grace of a predator, even standing still his presence marked almost a noble relaxed demeanor. His long legs and muscular yet lean arms revealed years of training and muscle strengthening. Each muscle group carefully sculpted to perform a task from start to finish. His long blond hair fell to his shoulders framing strong angular features and eyes that were a light shade of ice blue.

Jarek looked around checking to see if anyone was in earshot before speaking. "Chaylan, I hear Marta is leaving for Aydindril next season. Weren't you betrothed to her?"

Jareks companion grimaced visibly as if Jarek had jabbed him with the tip of his sword. Chaylans' youthful features belied the long white hair that cascaded down his back held in perfect check with a leather thong. Not a single strand or wisp of stray hair out of place. His features were long sweeping angles slightly curved at the cheekbones and jawline, but staying true to the well-proportioned symmetry of his eyes bearing the remarkable and uncanny appearance of a hawk. His warm brown eyes put many people at ease at first glance, but after moments of being around him, his demeanor unmasked the unique concerted features of the curve, shape and texture of his eyes and a personality that held even the most ostentatious mesmerized. He was a predator.

"Ahh, did I say too much my friend?" Jarek noted the lack of desire to strike up the conversation.

Chaylan flipped the oiled cloth from his bag and wiped the blade clean before replacing it in its scabbard. "Betrothed you say?"

Jarek's easygoing smile faded noting the deflection of his question. "Never mind. It's none of my business."

"Aye, a fair question, but in truth, she's leaving for Aydindril soon so we have mutually agreed to leave our claim to one another in postponement." Chaylan eyed his companion with a mischievous halfcocked smile. "I hear Cala is to be a mother and you a father next spring."

It was Jareks turn to grimace uncomfortably, but that didn't show in the slow smooth stroke as he ran the oiled cloth along the length of his blade. "You know how rumors are spread by fools with nothing to gain."

"Well if it's true, then you're the fool. You knew she was promised to Seskin." Chaylan flipped his water skin in the air with one smooth flick of his foot and caught it in his hand. "You'll have to marry the girl, you know. It won't be so bad, she's loved you since you were both old enough crawl."

"Marry Cala?" Jarek scoffed, "You become the Champion of the Fall Festival six seasons in a row and does anyone remember that? No. One night of indiscretion with a childhood friend and bahaaa, you are caged for life."

Chaylan placed a reassuring hand on Jareks shoulder, "It's important to do right by the girl, I think you know that."

Jarek picked up a stone and threw it off into the trees. "I'd just as soon marry Goat!"

Chaylan laughed, "Well at least with Liam, children would be the least of your problems."

Jarek elbowed his old friend, but when the jovial nature subsided he stared him straight in the eye. "I will see about her tonight before I go home. Perhaps I can smooth things out with her father and maybe if he permits I will consider marrying the girl."

Chaylan's intrusive expression left little to the imagination, "You won't admit it to yourself, but you've loved the girl all your life Jarek and I think there's a soft spot in you for her."

Jareks smile betrayed him, "Indeed. Let's go get a drink to celebrate my baby boy."

Chaylan chuckling laughter echoed through the forest, "A boy is it now? You are certain? Since when do you need a reason to celebrate anything?"

"Aye a boy, Jarek does not have girls, besides I've got to also work up the courage to talk to her father. He's got a mean right hook." Jarek said offhand as he picked his way through the trees.

Chaylan shook his head smiling to himself picking up the scabbard of his sword as he left the clearing. Then with just as sudden a moment, the scabbard flew out of his hand and his sword poised and ready glimmered in the dusky light. The fog covered the ground in rolling wafts of mist and he stood listening. Surveying the clearing and unable to break his line of sight through the fog on the other side. He moved swiftly back and forth along the edge of the clearing and listened at last hearing it again, only slight. It was a sound and scent enraptured together giving off a hint of danger.

The sound of cloth, no… leather. It was the sound of leather rubbing against the tree bark at the far edge of the clearing that caught his attention. The scent grew stronger as it wafted at an angle toward him. He could sense in his mind that this unknown friend or foe was moving closer along the edge of the clearing. Chaylan placed the blade against his forehead and moved fluidly out into the middle of the clearing mentally preparing for the battle.

She appeared out of the mist like a ghost in red. A long red rod brandished in her right hand attached to a chain that connected to her wrist. The leather clung to her body like a second skin. He could see the outline of her slender feminine form and the slow fluid movement of her hips as she carefully dipped and moved on the balls of her feet. There was a unique looking crescent shape that outlined the buckle of her belt and the leather accentuated her every curve leaving nothing to the imagination. Her hair was blond with a single length braid running down the middle of her back.

Chaylan stepped back lowering his weapon just a hair, "What have we here?"

"If you were asking me, I'd say we have a sheepherder about to be sent home to his mother." The leather clad female shot back with a sardonic tone.

"Not likely," Chaylans voice was hollow. He could feel the blood moving and the dance with the blade begin. He moved sidestepping left and she side stepped right. They moved like cats appraising each other in balance and skill, neither taking their eyes off one another.

"Indeed, I'm going to enjoy this." She smiled that sly cocky smile and moved forward testing his reaction. "I am Cara, and I'm looking for Lord Rahl."

"My friend and I don't know any Lord Rahl." She took the opening she was looking for. He stepped left, she lunged forward. He raised the sword up and over his head as the Agiel shot out coming in low at his midsection. The pivot of his right foot nearly allowed him to avoid the Agiel as he spun and gripped her forearm smashing the hilt of the sword down onto her face.

Blood gushed from her mouth as Cara slipped forward under his guard and kicked his legs out from under him before driving the Agiel into his rib cage as he landed flat on his back in the dirt. She smirked a little self-satisfied as she heard the familiar pop of bone.

Chaylan screamed. The pain driven into his rib cage was possibly the most excruciating torment he'd ever received in his life. He writhed as she twisted the rod against his rib cage, his voice becoming hoarse from the screaming alone. Then all at once, it stopped and he looked up into the cold crystal eyes of the woman in red leather he only knew as Cara.

"Now," she whispered with barely controlled rage, "Where is Lord Rahl?" She poised the rod only a few breaths from his bruised ribs. For a brief moment, panic threatened to overwhelm him.

"I don't know this Lord Rahl. We're Westlanders, we don't know about you midlanders." Chaylans face appeared fearful and subservient.

Cara lifted the boys face to meet hers. "I'm not a Midlander, you buffoon," She pressed the Agiel into his thigh and listened to the sweet sounds of his scream. "I'm Dharan, and you will never forget it if it's the last thing I do."

He gasped attempting to restore his breathing and rapidly came to his senses realizing her dilemma. She was desperately searching for someone. For a moment he studied her. She was a warrior, she thrived on conflict. Then it hit him, he made a show of staring at the cleavage of her red leather outfit, "Well, you know from where I'm sitting it doesn't seem like it would be a bad way to die, but unless you intend on having my children this conversation has gone on long enough, I don't know anything, so either bring it, or get off me."

"Gah! Fine then," Cara pushed the boy down and looked over her shoulder, "Its ok, it's safe, you can come out now."

Chaylan took the opportunity while she was distracted to look past her at the figure dressed in travelling clothes coming out of the forest from the same direction as this red leathered panther. This was his moment. As quick as lightning he grabbed her wrist and flipped his leg over hers gaining leverage and momentum. Cara momentarily grunted realizing the oversight and attempting to counterbalance but it was too late.

Cara lay on her back, the Agiel pinned beneath her. His nose practically touching her own as he stared into her eyes. She struggled momentarily, the anger overtaking the panic she felt at being taken off guard by a common peasant. He smiled and reflexively winced from the pain ebbing from his ribs. "Cara is it? I'm going to let you up now and we're going to have a chat. Any wrong moves-"

The words garbled in his mouth as her face blasted him across the bridge of his nose. He recoiled, but unfortunately for her it wasn't enough to dislodge him. Blood gushed all over her red leather as he cried out shaking his head. Cara could see her travelling companion leaning against a tree on the other side of the clearing. "Are you going to help me, or just stand there like one of those trees Lord Rahl loves so much?"

The newcomer smiled, "You seem to have everything under control, Cara, who am I to interfere with a Sister of the Agiel while she's working?" The smile was more of a smirk.

Cara let out a cry of frustration and smacked her head on the ground as she moved her arm to reach her Agiel. "Thank you Mother Confessor, Thank you very much."

The new comer just waved, "Anytime, Cara."

Chaylan laughed in spite of himself at the banter between the two women. "You know, you both should have your own tavern show. You could make enough money to buy Blondie here a personality."

Cara's frustration was at her breaking point. She lifted her head and grabbed his bottom lip between her teeth, and bit down. Chaylans momentary cry turned to stifled laughter as he somehow got hold of her top lip between his teeth and returned the favor. He felt a reprieve from the pain in his lip and finally, the stars in front of his eyes went away to reveal Cara lying beneath him blood running from her nose and mouth. She lay there glaring up at him with a stare that could melt iron.

Chaylan laughed. "You are a feisty one aren't you? Enough games," Chaylan stood up and proffered his hand to the young read leathered beauty. Cara ignored it and stood up on her own. It was her way of gaining back some self-respect. "Suit yourself." He said picking up the sword from where it lay in the dirt. He pulled the oiled rag out of his bag and wiped down the blade and cross guard.

Kahlan stood watching as Cara gracefully moved toward her rubbing her hand across the bloody gash in her mouth, smiling to herself, savoring the feel of the pain. Cara didn't accept the cloth that Kahlan held out to her. She instead picked up their packs from behind a large tree stump at the edge of the clearing and started to move back into the forest. Kahlan was about to turn back when the blade of a sword touched her chin.

"Don't move a muscle or I slit your throat." Whispered the panicked voice over her right shoulder. Kahlan stopped moving. His hand was on her shoulder but not touching her skin. The sword was just below the hollow of her neck, but none of his other body parts came into contact with hers.

"What do you want?" Her voice tinged with a tone of Authority. "Your blonde friend there hurt my boy. Wondering if I shouldn't do the same to you."

Chaylan finished wiping the blood from his face in time to look up and see Jarek with his sword at the neck of the woman in travelling clothes. "Jarek! Release her!"

Jarek momentarily looked passed the woman staring at the bloody face of his comrade. "But her friend, I say we repay the favor."

Chaylan stood with hands on hips, "There are some things better left alone Jarek, let her be on her way without any trouble."

Jareks eyes moved from Chaylans bloodied face to the woman he had at blade point. "Aye, as you will Chaylan, as you will."

Kaylan felt the pressure of the blade lift off her throat and she exhaled slowly. Her gaze fell to the bloodied young man who stood only two horse lengths away from her. "Thank you Chaylan, she said in her most respectful tone, yet still even that was scented with an air of authority.

Jarek screamed and crumpled to the ground body writhing and screaming as the Agiel was pressed into the palm of his hand. Chaylan raced over to find the woman in red leather kneeling over Jareks writhing body.

Cara's face was contorted in a glare that would melt steel, "Never, touch, the, Mother, Confessor, again!" She whispered menacingly accentuating each word by pressing the Agiel harder against Jareks Hand.

Chaylan sighed clearly exasperated, "Oh for the love of the Creator Blondie give it a rest will ya?" He stared down at Jareks unconscious body after Cara moved away clearly self-satisfied. "You do realize this means I'm going to have to cart him back to the house don't you?"

Cara grunted apathetically and Kahlan simply smoothed down the front of her travelling clothes clearly disinterested.

The Winds Request

"Ten times ten times ten times ten…" The words echoed off what sounded to be granite walls, but there was no light. It was dark and the air around him carried a stale air, but it had strangeness to it as if it were somehow laced with magic. He stumbled forward on the slightly raised stones and fell to his knees catching his palms on the floor. The floor seemed to writhe under his fingers like a thousand tiny pinpricks.

He lifted his head and noticed a vague shadow illuminating in the distance. He stared at the growing dimness till it revealed a brilliant light piercing the darkness drawing him to his feet. "What are you doing Richard? It seems you've grown soft." He whispered sardonically. He raised his hand palm up and channeled additive magic through his fingertips. The light flaring from the Wizards fire rapidly rolled over itself in the palm of his hand giving off a brilliant light illuminating the granite rock around him. He waited while the balls of wizards fire split into two and then divided itself again, each successive ball floating farther down the corridor as if by its own will. Richard stood in the small corridor, knees slightly bent and head bowed so as not to bump it on the low overhead. "I hate tight spaces," he mumbled to himself remembering the night he found himself stuck in the cave on the verge of panic attempting to retrieve a dragons egg from an uncooperative band of Gars.

A gruff guttural growling sound came from behind him and seemed to rush in from the darkness causing him to fall back into the granite wall in surprise. The Wizards fire almost extinguished, yet the sound grew in intensity as he stared back down the corridor into the darkness attempting to make out a shadow farther down where the Wizards fire didn't illuminate. The corridor was too small to effectively mount a defense with a weapon, but as it was, the only weapon available to him was his hunting knife. "Not very effective against a creature of magic," he muttered sheathing the weapon once again. For a brief moment he stared at the ball of Wizards fire roiling in his hand rubbing his chin with a thumb and forefinger, "Yea, that will do." The growling guttural sound of fangs and teeth moved closer and Richard could practically smell fetid breath on his neck and the interminable heat he felt might melt his skin from his bones. Perhaps now he was only making his imagination tell him something that wasn't true, but to him being here in this place. This was no illusion.

Channeling additive into the Wizards fire in his hand he shaped it, forged it like a blacksmith with his mind, the blue flame began to morph into a long slender staff. Richard gripped it like a sword and the Wizards fire flattened like that of a long blade, cross guard, and hilt taking shape. When he was satisfied he tested the feel of the makeshift blade with as much movement as he could muster in such a tight space. The light ahead was closer now as the lamps of Wizards' Fire followed him at a distance acting as a rear guard when he passed them.

The corridor became smaller with every step. He noted the oddest changes in texture and form to the walls as they became smooth and covered in plaster the closer he came to the light at the end of the corridor. He felt changes in the gift. Subtle, yet oddly familiar, like sunlight rising out of the darkness slowly illuminating everything as it rose. He moved down the brightly lit passage with purpose till all at once he felt resistance. The light at the end of the corridor stood before him, a doorway, but the air had compressed and felt as though he'd hit a solid transparent wall. Richard cleared his mind and relaxed his muscles attempting to take a step forward. He could feel the barrier laced with additive and subtractive magic and something else. Something familiar, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. The guttural animalistic cries behind him continued to grow louder and more persistent.

He turned toward the darkness and hurled the floating balls of wizards fire hovering in the air behind him back down the corridor from where he had come with blistering speed. When they reached too far for him to see, Richard cleared his mind and reached out with his gift. The balls of Wizards fire were his eyes. He could see all around them. Every detail, even the floor seemed to move with vivid colors. It was like a river of additive and subtractive magic rolling toward the light. The Wizards fire moved with speed until at last they ran into the other end of the corridor that opened into an alcove. The Shadow of a great beast moved with such swiftness, Richard recoiled at the sight and the Wizards fire extinguished. Richard stood staring into the darkness. There was no way out and panic was threatening to set in as the guttural sound of this unseen enemy came closer.

Richard was trapped, but that didn't mean his gift was necessarily trapped. "Ok Richard, think." He sat down on the stone floor feeling the ebb and flow of the additive and subtractive magic run over him. It was as if this entire corridor was a tie to the world he came from and the one he could see but not reach. He stared off into the light and could make out the dusky figures of people moving like ghosts through the room beyond. He could feel the vastness of the hall beyond the corridor, but unable to reach it.

Richard ran his fingers through his hair and mentally dug deep. Of all the things he had learned he knew that magic had two sides. Always two sides. This particular magic appeared to be a check of some kind. It allowed the additive and the subtractive through, but nothing else. "Nothing is ever easy," he mumbled to himself. He continued to stare at the figures moving to and fro through the great hall and then he saw one he recognized. No. It can't be. How did I get here? He was in the world of death, the underworld.

His breathe hitched in his throat and he cried out. "Confessor!" The misty figure paid him no attention, but there was another who noted him. A brief look of surprise crossed the figures visage and then a smile of absolute pleasure, not at seeing Richard himself, but at seeing the look of hopeless frustration upon his face. The figure moved ever closer to the boundary of resistance that didn't permit Richard to pass until they were a mere scissors width from one another.

Richard noted that in his list of unique qualities this magical barrier held. It was not as substantial in form as he had first thought. "Good to see you again Richard," The voice came through the barrier as clear as if there was nothing preventing him from moving forward. Note two, Richard thought to himself. Sound is not barred.

"I can't say the same," Richard retorted.

"Tsk tsk tsk, now why would you say something so hurtful when I'm in a perfectly good position to help you." The figure clicked his tongue to accentuate the point.

"I wouldn't know, perhaps you could enlighten me as to the trouble I'm in, Father." Richard smiled back with that warm disarming smile.

Darken Rahls face mirrored concern, or at least Richard thought, as close as he could come. The slight mocking tone in his voice betrayed him. "Come now Richard, let's not play games. You're never going to get through the veil. Not without some help."

Richard jabbed the point of his sword into the barrier. Darken Rahl reactively stepped back as the sword came through, but once the tip reached the other side of the barrier it vanished. The remnants' of the magic in the blade flowing down into the river of additive and subtractive magic that moved passed his legs.

"Richard, you'll tear the veil and then what sort of trouble will you have?" Darken Rahl smiled at him, clearly enjoying watching him struggle. "Not that I wouldn't enjoy that. What did you hope to accomplish by that little display?

"Simply testing a theory," Richard replied nonchalantly.

"Did your test reach the desired result, Richard? Or perhaps you'd like me to make it easier for you." Darken Rahls voice dipped into a sly tone. "It'll cost you though. Considering you're not here by my conditions there's really not much I could ask for."

"I'm sure you could think of something, " Richard whispered rather sarcastically, but in a moment of thought decided to play along. "What's your price?"

"Oh nothing really, just a trifle. " Darken Rahls voice echoed ominously in that small dank passage.

"Your price, father." Richard gritted his teeth attempting to hold his patience in check.

Darken Rahl stared off into Richards eyes and then ever so slowly leaned toward Richard to within just a hairs width of his face and whispered. "Cara's life."

"Over my dead body," Richard retorted noting the distance now between them.

Darken Rahl feigned surprise, "Oh come now Richard, it's perfectly reasonable, one life for your freedom. Isn't that exactly what you traded for the safety of your firstborn son?"

Richard pivoted and walked away staring off into the darkness of the passage back the way he had come. He remembered the look on Zeds face when his son ordered the girl, Aian was her name, to go with his grandfather after his son had touched her with his power. "Never have I traded one person's life for another's. The girl is safe. There is nothing that can be done for her. The Confessors power is final. I have searched myself for the answer to reversing the spell and so far have found little that will change the outcome. The answer simply isn't within my understanding. You of all people should understand that!"

Darken Rahl clicked his tongue again, "Tsk, tsk, tsk, Richard, you wound me. You think a simple trickery because I was ignorant to what I was dealing with is not valid, but this dilemma of yours, there is an answer and I have it."

"Ignorance isn't an excuse, you taught me that" Richard shot back leaning in as close as he dared to come to the barrier. "Given the circumstances, I am more willing to bargain with a Skrin than I am with you, father." Richard whispered smiling a halfcocked smile.

"You know something don't you Richard, something I do not." Darken Rahl laughed "Oh what a proud father I am. So proud. You are a thousand more times more powerful than I ever was and you accomplished everything I ever set out to acquire. For that alone I am at peace. Yet I will find a way to release the Keeper, Richard, someday." Darken Rahl stared back down the brightly lit hallway just beyond the passage at the other ghostly figure Richard had first taken notice of. The white dress and the smooth way her face resembled that of Richards beloved. "You know, there is some irony to all of this. If you do die here, at least you get to spend the rest of her miserable life with someone that resembles her."

Richards' anger abounded, but he kept it in check. He could feel the twin to his own righteous anger build with it and recognized the swords magic building within him. Then he felt something. A flash of memory of the hall and what it contained, who it contained and the deep melancholy he felt at simply being alive. Then it vanished. At last he stared off down the corridor through the barrier and clearly understood his surroundings.

The fetid breathe and the guttural growling grew and with one swift fluid motion Richard turned to see the feral looking features of the Skrin bearing down on him from out of the darkness. Richard held up his hand allowing the additive and the subtractive to flow equally through him. The Skrin stopped inches from his hand. Its teeth gnashed and long thin talons clawing at the air trying to reach him.

"Hmm, Richard, seems as though you have your hands full. I'll be seeing you Richard," Darken Rahls ominous laughter faded as he vanished back down the corridor and out of sight.

Richard stared at the beast and noted the symbols on the bracer of his right hand glowing. "I am not your enemy, let me pass," he whispered. The Skrins frantic assault silenced and the beast stilled. It regarded him as a pet might its master then as suddenly as it came; it passed through him and vanished. Richard reached out to the barrier and it was no longer there. He let out a deep breath and walked toward the end of the corridor out into the great hall. The moment he passed the threshold of the barrier, the Knowledge and power of the place flowed into him. Time was his. Life was his. Every bit of knowledge and power and more was his to command at his beckoning. All he needed was to think it and it existed.

The arched ceiling and the soaring heights were immensely familiar. Like a distant memory from a dream. He remembered thinking eagles could soar in these lofty places and never be aware they were captive inside a structure. The columns that supported the walls ascending into the remote walls stood like sentries staring out the immense windows that lined the walls of the corridor letting in diffused light. He stood staring up in awe at all of it and then turned to notice the figure in white staring back at him. Clearly a surprised look on her face

She moved through the corridor and alighted before him. "It is good to see you Richard,"

He noticed that imperceptible almost involuntary reaction that humans make when they greet someone they love that they have not seen in a long time. In this place, matter was irrelevant to a ghost. Richard smiled and with a wave of his hand her form changed. Her face no longer transparent, but solid and with substance that belied the beauty she was in life as Kahlans mother and the Mother Confessor. "A gift," he said "for a short time"

She smiled and embraced him, "It is good to see you Richard and how is my daughter?"

Richard smiled at that special smile he loved so much. "She is well, she misses you."

"I miss her too Richard, I miss her too, Why are you here?" She stared at the floor with a forlorn look upon her face. Very uncharacteristic of the Confessors face that he imagined she had worn in life.

Richard ran his fingers through his hair, "Why am I here? I was hoping you could tell me."

She looked up, her eyebrow rose in a quizzical fashion, "I do not know Richard. The Temple of the Winds is in and of itself an entity that I do not fully understand. Only that I exist here beyond the veil is known to me in this place. I was summoned here as were many others."

"The Winds brought me here as well, but one thing is for certain I did not enter through the hall of the betrayed." Richards' ominous tone echoed through the vaulted arched ceilings. He stared down the corridors as they flowed off into the distance, his mind truly at a loss for the purpose of his visit. The knowledge of it was one thing that was not revealed to him; regardless of everything he learned and knew since he had stepped passed the barrier. Magic itself was not the obstacle, but it was the intentions of the Winds to keep him ignorant of its purpose.

Kahlans mother smiled embracing Richard once more. "I must go Richard. The Winds want you to seek the purpose for bringing you here. That much I know. You must do as you have always done. Seek the truth, Richard. "

Richard smiled as she faded from physical form into mist leaving him standing alone in the Great Hall of the Temple of the Winds clearly perplexed. Then it seemed out of the mist, they came. Five figures, four clearly male and the fifth female. Richard stood resolute, hands on hips, his mind clearly identifying who they were. He let them come. There was no doubt in his mind these were the Four Winds and the Seer.