TITLE: The First Gifted
AUTHOR: Lord of Kavaka
CHARACTERS: Original Characters Riccar/Caylinn, w/ hints of Richard/Kahlan
STORY TYPE: Adventure/Romance
SPOILERS: Anything from Season 1 & 2, and the books.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own them, and I make no profit.
SUMMARY: More tales of Riccar and Caylinn, and their quest for the Soul Fusion spell. Part of the CONSEQUENCES series.
AUTHOR'SNOTE: This is just for fun. I felt like exploring more of the back story I invented for SOUL FUSION involving Riccar and Caylinn.

THE FIRST GIFTED – 1 – The Night of the Festival

He stood still and silent on the edge of the promontory, his arms folded across his chest, looking down on the valley. The night air was cool and crisp, and he inhaled slowly, letting his lungs fill to the max before exhaling. The village below was only visible thanks to the cluster of flickering lights from the large outside fires. He narrowed his eyes as he stared down at them. The festival was underway. No doubt the others were already deep in their celebration of the gifts given to them by the Creator. He didn't feel like celebrating. He sighed and slumped his shoulders, feeling more defeated than jubilant.

"I thought I'd find you here, Riccar," came her voice.

He stiffened, but did not turn around, knowing precisely whom it was. Only she would come in search of him.

"I did not feel like celebrating," he answered her unspoken question.

"Why?" she asked, curious. "Is it because of my father?"

"Taygen? Ha," Riccar harrumphed. "No. Your father does not scare me. And nor do I care about his opinion of me." He held back, not wanting to inform her about the secret meeting he had had with her father a few days ago.

She came closer, placing a hand on his shoulder. Her touched instantly calmed him. Just her presence was enough to soothe him, but still, he was tense. The village council had met earlier today—an emergency meeting, as it were—to discuss his proposal. Many had been irritated with his urgent need for a decision, but they came nonetheless to hear him. However, Riccar had been shot down before he could even begin. It had been her father who had lead the opposition—no surprise there, even considering the private talk he had had with the man prior. And it did not help that he was the First, the head of the council.

"He told me to stop seeing you," she said.

He laughed mirthlessly. Now that did surprise him. He didn't think Taygen could be so petty, or make things all the more difficult. He finally had to look at her. He tilted his head to gaze upon her, basking in her beauty. Her long brunette hair tumbled down past her shoulders and her blue eyes twinkled with mischief as she smiled coyly at him.

"As you can see, I have chosen to disregard that parental order," she chuckled and stepped closer to him, allowing him to slip his arm around her waist. She leaned her head against his shoulder and let out a sigh. "How did the meeting with the council go?"

Riccar snorted. "Not well," he said. "They denied my request for funds and supplies. They said I was being young and foolish." He let out a disappointed sigh and stared back down at the bonfires of the festival celebration. "What are you doing here, Caylinn? Shouldn't you be down there, dancing with Fromir?"

Caylinn laughed, a full belly laugh. "Him! No. My father favors him. I do not. I'd rather be up here with you and your solitude of rejection."

Riccar smirked. "Is it that obvious."

"To everyone, yes," Caylinn laughed. "Even the village children noticed your morose mood."

"That's because they are usually always following me around," Riccar replied with a grin. "They like learning about the forest and the wonders that can be found there."

She chuckled softly, and sighed as she leaned further into him. "We could run away," she suggested, glancing up at him. "Just you and me, and be together."

Riccar shook his head, dismissing the idea. "We couldn't do that, Caylinn. This is our home. We are of the gifted. We should stay here. I want to marry you here… raise our children… here."

Caylinn let out a frustrated breath and ran her hand down to his, interlacing their fingers. "Then what do we do?"

"We wait," he said. "Taygen, your father, is old. Soon he will have to step down as the First. Garth is next in line. His feelings towards me are more… neutral."

"You think Garth would bless our union?" she inquired.

Riccar thought for a moment, then nodded. "Yes, I think he would," he asserted. "And then your father could object as much as he wished, yet will be unable to stop what is. The law is the law. The First's decision is final."

"I wish he did not disapprove of you so," Caylinn let out a frustrated breath.

"At least your mother likes me… she scares me more than your father," Riccar chuckled, earning a jab in the side from Caylinn, who smirked and rolled her eyes.

Sparks of blue and red lights shot up into the sky above the village. Caylinn smiled and curled up against him. Riccar tilted his head and nuzzled his nose into her hair, breathing in her scent. He closed his eyes and sighed, finding her presence more breathtaking than the firelights Garth was conjuring for the enjoyment of the young children.

Caylinn turned her head and looked up at him. In the light cast by the firelights, Riccar would have sworn she was glowing with the radiance of the love that was pouring out of her brilliant blue eyes. Her hand reached up and her fingers brushed against his lips. His breath stilled and he stared back down at her. He wondered if she knew how much power she had over him.

"Do you still plan on leaving tomorrow?" she cautiously asked.

Riccar swallowed and gave a tentative nod. "Yes," he confirmed.

"You won't be alone, will you?" Caylinn's concern was evident in her tone.

"No, Dichel is coming with me," Riccar assured her.

"Whose decision was that?"

"It was at my mother's request," he said. "I know Dichel is young, but he is my brother… and I could trust no one other than him to have my back on this journey."

"I know, but I can still worry, can't I?" Caylinn moved her hand to caress the side of his face.

He closed his eyes and sighed. "Always."

Riccar shifted his arms and pulled Caylinn closer to him. She buried her head in his strong chest and he felt her sobs. He knew she was terrified for him. No one had proposed venturing to where he was going to be heading. Those that had hiked up into those mountains had never returned. Still, the rumors of the ancient powers that could be found at Azmith were too enticing. And Riccar believed that he needed to go. If not for himself, then for Caylinn.

Even though she had assured him that she did not care what her father thought, Riccar knew that he was still going to need Taygen's permission to marry her. And the only way to do that with a man like Taygen would be to prove himself by braving the forbidden zone of Azmith. Riccar would never tell her, but it was the condition on which Taygen had placed on Riccar's request for Caylinn's hand in marriage. That was the focus of their private discussion, and Taygen had told Riccar flat out that he would not officially approve of such a match unless Riccar went to the ruins of Azmith and returned unharmed and whole. It was a challenge Riccar could not refuse.

He rubbed his hands up and down her back, soothing away her sobs. Caylinn heaved in a deep breath and leaned back, gazing up at him with longing and love. He brushed her hair away from her beautiful face and tenderly wiped the tears from her cheeks with his fingers.

"I love you, Riccar," she said, her voice thick with deep emotion.

"I love you, Caylinn," he murmured, caressing the side of her face. "Always and forever." That was his plan… and he intended to make forever a reality. There were rumors of an artifact hidden away in Azmith that could help him with that goal.

He leaned down and captured her lips, giving her a kiss to remember him by. Tomorrow he would be gone, headed for the forbidden zone. Riccar did not know if he would return.