The keeper was defeated and the rifts to the underworld closed. All traces of the rifts were erased when the Stone of Tears was placed in the alter. Kahlan, Richard, Zedd and Cara were all safe at the Pillars of Creation as the sun faded into the west. Unbeknownst to them, Nicci had been brought back to life and was taken by Darken Rahl. Richard no longer had the mark of the keeper upon his chest and was now free to be with the woman he loved for the rest of his life.

CH. 1:

Kahlan couldn't help but smile as she gazed into her lover's eyes. For the first time in her life, she wasn't afraid of her touch and what it could do to the people she cared for most. Richard held her in his arms and stared lovingly into her eyes.

"I still don't understand how this is possible Richard!" He chuckled, "I'll explain later." His eyes quickly looked over towards Zedd and Cara, indicating that it would be best if there were less eyes on the couple.

"Aghmmm, I think that would be my cue to leave then." Zedd walked to the couple and gave them a hug. "Don't forget that we still have much to discuss. But now I think I will take Cara with me. Somehow, I think she still doesn't get the clue." Zedd smiled as he pointed to the Mord Sith that stood firmly in place, refusing to budge from her spot.

"After everything that has happened, you really think that I would simply leave the King and Queen of Danger all alone. I learned a long time ago that these two can never stay out of trouble for more than a day." Cara finally budged from her spot and walked over to the group. "Besides, I didn't get to fight nearly enough banelings on this little quest of ours!" Cara started walking towards the Pillars, "I was expecting at least having to clean my leathers of blood after the 'epic' finale that was supposed to happen, but instead I barely broke a sweat..."

"We'll see you late Cara. And Zedd, thank you," Kahlan said as the Wizard and Mord Sith left.

************************************************************************** Zedd and Cara stood by the Pillars of Creation as Kahlan and Richard had a private talk. "We should be moving, Wizard. Staying out in the open like this after defeating the Keeper is giving me a bad vibe." The Pillars of Creation contained old and strong magic. Magic that left the Mord Sith on edge. It wasn't the first time she couldn't control magic with her training, but this place left her suspicious.

"And where do you propose we go Cara? Travel twenty miles over a grueling landscape of sharp rocks and desert back to a vacant village with little food as Banelings roam the land. I'm sure you have already thought about that option." Zedd grinned at her as he continued. "Or maybe we should travel along the cliffs of this coast in the hope of finding an old road to some old town not on any maps that you or I have seen? No, tonight we should make camp here and get some rest," Zedd stated as he watched the couple from a distance.

"So rather than leave the one place that the Keeper knows we were at, you want us to stay. Let me guess, next you will want to light a huge fire at camp and use magic to have a bright blinking light up in the sky for them to follow straight to us? C'mon Wizard, you know that the alternative is better. We should leave and get back to civilization. I have seen Richard seal the rift; he has proven to be the magic against magic. It is time he ascends the throne in D'Hara and takes the title of Lord Rahl. He is no longer a woods guide." Cara started pacing back and forth in anticipation. Of what, she could not say, but she felt something bad was coming.

"Cara, you are very perceptive. It is one of the many reasons you are a good fighter and Mord Sith. But you have failed to take into account Richard and his choices. He has to make the choice to be Lord Rahl, not you or me or Kahlan. He chose to seal the rift instead of ascending the throne. That alone shows the true character he has. I believe he would be a great Lord Rahl because he doesn't want the power. As it stands, Richard's decision as to being the Lord Rahl will wait until tomorrow. I think it is reasonable that we give the Seeker one day without sending him off onto his next quest."

Cara looked the Wizard with cynical eyes. She understood what he was saying and knew in her heart that he was right. Richard was pure, truthful and dam right stubborn when it came a decision he made. "That may be true, but that still doesn't explain why we should stay here instead of heading home."

"Then answer this for me Cara: We have just defeated the Keeper and closed off his only way back into the realm of man. He has no chance of ever leaving the Underworld and his plans have been ruined. What do you think he is going to do to the person responsible for sullying his plans?"

"Obviously kill them a thousand different ways with each death being more painful than the last until that person wishes they had never been born. I have no intention of going to the Underworld any time soon; that is for sure."

"Ah, you do realize the Keeper is angry." Zedd turned to face Cara with his "I knew you could do it" look that Cara despised. "Now tell me Cara, if the Keeper is stuck in his dominion, who or what will he send in his place?"

"I would have to assume it would be banelings." Cara scoffed and leaned on a Pillar away from Zedd, clearly annoyed with the Wizard of the First Order.

"You know what they say about assuming. It makes an as-" "Get to the point Zedd!"

Zedd continued with his most Wizardly voice, "My dear, banelings will surely be sent after us. This spot is the perfect protection from them. Isolated and more than a day away, they will not be able to reach us unless they find a way to kill a person and renew that clock the Keeper has ticking away on their lives'. And, the Keeper made a contract with them that cannot be broken, so he simply can't increase the time they are allowed in between each killing. If we stay here for a day, they will die as they rush to get here to kill us. Even if a few banelings reach us, they will be too diminished to cause us any harm. There may be a few that have the proper provisions to reach us in a day, but that would take planning and time that they don't have. The Keeper is impatient and the reward for our death is too great to ignore. The Keeper has no doubt, already made a promise to grant whoever kills us with whatever it is they want. So, let them come and fail. We are protected here and this place is strong. I feel the power emanating from the Pillars like a fire. It warms me, heals me, and it offers us the chance to rejuvenate for our return. Besides, I think Richard and Kahlan deserve a night by themselves so why not have it here, secluded by the ocean with a fire and the breeze."

"And what are we to do for food? Obviously you can't go a day without food and neither can the rest of us. You said it yourself; this place is isolated in the MIDDLE of NOWHERE!" Cara was ready to stalk off and leave. The wizard always had a romantic notion to him and no practical side, but his current proposal was deadly. Staying out in the open along with facing the elements in the cold would definitely get someone sick, hurt or dead. "I see your point that the banelings will come Zedd, but without food we are hurting ourselves. This place is far away and we need food. I am exhausted and hungry. I would rather get closer to food instead of staying here."

"Child-(Cara hated when Zedd called her a child. Especially since she could easily break him in half like a twig)-there is food all around us. You just have to know where to look. And, where I am standing there is a vast ocean. Have Richard and Kahlan set up the campsite for us while you and I go fishing. Like I said, this place is strong. I feel a little bit of magic would do wonders! And catching fish without a fishing pole has never been easier."

"Let me get this straight; You could have used magic the entire time to get food? But up until this point you decided that it was a good idea not to use magic? All the nights were we went with little to no food and it turns out you could have waved your hand and 'Abracadabra' there is some food for use to eat."

"It is not as simple as waving my hand. Trapping a living creature, whether it is a small fish or a person, takes time and a great deal of magical power. Just thinking of trying to capture a person leaves me tired. But this time I can draw my power from the Pillars and use it to get us food. I can't simply wave my hand and have a fish fly out of the water, but I can use magic to sense where some food is. It stands to reason that the people who build this place must have had a food source and fresh water. You and I will just have to find it."

Cara nodded. "I suppose that is a reasonable explanation albeit poorly timed. If I ever find out that you could have used magic to help us not starve, I will hurt you. Now, I will go tell Richard and Kahlan the plan. But, only if you take the third watch and let me have the second. Kahlan and Richard need a full nights rest and the middle watches are always the hardest. That and you have a deal Wizard" Cara extended her hand and raised her eyebrow at Zedd. If there was one thing the Wizard disliked, it was getting up at odd hours of the day. But, the offer was a fair one for his grandson. Richard needed rest and it was the one thing Zedd could give him easily.

"Deal" and with that Zedd shook Cara's hand and headed off towards the ocean. "I have no doubt you will be able to find me easily. I think I will go get a head start. It seems dinner won't catch itself!"