The sun rained its wrath upon her as she wiped the blood from her face. She was surrounded by more than four dozen men and there would be no escape. They were taller, wider and stronger than she was, making it almost impossible for her to win the battle. Unwilling to give up, Kahlan lunged forward, if she was to die, she was going to take as many men with her as possible. Almost as soon as she moved, her world went dark.
Richard spent four years looking for his Confessor. Everyone around him told him to stop looking, to end the torturous journey and move on, but he couldn't. Aydindril held no leader, bringing him to take on the responsibility in honor of the woman he loved, hoping that one day he would find her and she would reclaim her place. The people of her city seemed to sympathize with him, understanding when he was gone for months in search of their Mother Confessor. He slept in her bed as often as possible, feeling it was one of the few places he felt close to her.
There were no leads, no sign as to where she had been taken or what had happened. He would march into cities and nearly tear them apart looking for her and after some time, he feared he never would. At times, he would swear he felt her, stopping suddenly with a small smile thinking that for a moment she found comfort. His friend, his trusted Mord'Sith was surprisingly helpful and every now and then, suggested a place to search. He first believed it was because she enjoyed getting answers, what little there was, from strangers, but he quickly realized that she missed her almost as much.
They had been weeks away from their wedding and Richard swore he would never be with another. Ignoring all protest from others around him, he left once again with a place in mind.
It had been spoken of twice in his presence. Once, in secret, a treasure most men would die to know and another when Cara beat the location out of a man. It made sense to the Seeker, a place where men go for the company of a woman and not just any women were kept there. It was said that only the most beautiful women existed in the city, all available to anyone with the right amount of money and despite Kahlan's magic, he felt she was there. It was nine months of travel away and it pained him to think of what he may find.
He was greeted at the gates, his plain clothes hiding his identity as he nodded to the gatekeeper. He went in alone, not wanting to draw in attention with a Mord'Sith at his side. She, according to his plan, would find another way in and meet him somewhere.
"What kind are you looking for?" An older man called up to him from the ground.
Looking down from his horse, Richard grinned. "I want to see them all," he said flatly, tossing a large bag of coins to the man.
Grinning the other man, pushed his white hair out of his eyes and motioned for him to follow. "Come this way, I'll arrange a show for you."
There were women everywhere, naked, half clothed and a few fully dressed, just waiting to be chosen. They followed the older man, leaving their current partner where they sat. Richard looked at each one of them, desperately searching for Kahlan.
Entering a large building, he was suddenly surrounded by five dozen or more women who instantly began taking off their clothes.
"You may have your pick, sir as many as you wish. They will not disappoint you."
"Is this all of them?" he asked while continuing his search.
Shaking his head, the older man shifted his pants and looked away from the women. "Not all, there are more in the back." Letting out a loud whistle, the man looked to the door at the back of the room. "We have a guest!" Fifteen women entered and suddenly the Seeker's heart stopped. "This is all of them. Do you see one who looks pleasing to you?"
"Yes," Richard said instantly, pointing to the brunette standing half naked at the back of the room. "That one there." Handing the man another bag of coins, he tore his eyes off of her. "I want her."
Nodding, the man grinned. "She is one of our best, all men are hardened by the sight of her. You are one of the few who can afford all she has to give." Richard felt sick as the man motioned toward her. "Rachel, come meet your new lover." The brunette came eagerly, her eyes moving over him until their eyes met and she came to a stop. "I told you to come here!" She jumped, but hurried closer, keeping her eyes on him. "You are to give him everything. Make sure he is more than satisfied in every way and then do it again. He's paid your true value."
Pressing her body against his, she touched her lips to his ear. "Come with me," she whispered seductively, making his knees weak.
She brought him to a cabin at the back of the city, the entire building having one room and a bed that nearly filled it. There was a chair, big enough to sit two, on the right side of the door as they entered, giving him a clear picture as to what would take place there. When she reached the edge of the bed, she stopped and turned around, instantly beginning to remove what was left of her clothing. Holding out his hand, he shook his head, not yet able to voice his own words. She stopped and lowered her arms to his aide, pleased to give him anything he desired. It was then, he allowed himself to look her over completely and the sight angered him.
She had a single piece of cloth that wrapped around her breasts, held by a thin rope that wrapped around her neck. Her neck was covered in marks he had not made, the bites made him just as upset. The sides stomach were bruised in shapes of hands, men who had pawed at her roughly while trying to please themselves. She wore a shirt that barely covered anything, he was sure, to leave all men to crave he all the more. She teased them with enough of her body to make them die in the hopes of having her and the worst part of it all, she stood before him with a smile, unknowing who he is and eager to do anything he asks of her.
"Am I not pleasing?" she suddenly asked in, what he knew to be, shame. "I can bring you someone else," she added quickly. "I know a woman who will-"
"No," he managed to say when his eyes returned to hers. "No. You are... You are more than pleasing." She smiled in relief, fear fading her eyes and he hated that she felt any at all. From the way she looked at him, he concluded that if she left this room before anything had taken place, she would be beaten or worse for failing the man who owned her. Owned, he sneered at his own thought. "I'm going to get you out of here."
Confused, the brunette tried to take another step away, but was stopped by the bed. "What do mean?"
"Don't you know who I am?"
"I-" She hesitated, leaning forward slightly. "Have you come for me before?"
"You came for me. We've been so many places-"
Shaking her head, she turned away and walked goths side of the bed. "You're mistaken. I have been here most of my life."
"Since I was a child."
Stepping forward, he fought the urge to pull her into his arms. "How much do you remember?"
She pulled back the blankets and turned back to him. "What do you want from me?"
"Kahlan," he spoke her name out loud for the first time in weeks.
"Who's that?" she asked mindlessly, crawling onto the bed.
She laughed, shaking her head. "You've had too much sun."
"No. I haven't seen it in years."
"Is this a game?" she questioned after a moment. "Do you want me to be this woman? This Kahlan?"
"It's not a game." Walking toward her, he folded his arms. "I don't understand what's happened to you. Kahlan, it's me, it's Richard." Climbing onto the bed, he grabbed her shoulders and pulled her to him, staring her in the eyes. "Look at me, Kahlan. I know you remember me, you have to. When you first saw me, you-"
"You look familiar, that's all!" she half shouted as she pushed him away from her. "I don't know who you are and I am not this woman. My name is Rachel Dane, I grew up here, was trained here and every day has been spent here. The only time I leave is when I convince one of my guests to tell me about the world. This place is all that I know."
Richard crossed his legs in front of him and watched her. "It's not and I promise you, I will help you to remember."
Removing her top, she crawled onto his lap and pushed him down onto the bed. "You must be nervous," she whispered as his eyes moved to her breasts. It had been so long since he had seen her and his body responded instantly. "Many men are their first time here. Tell me how to please you."
"Kahlan..." His words slipped into silence as her lips grazed his.
She smelt the same, taking his mind back to their last night together. Without hesitation, she slid her hand over his pants, maneuvering quickly and unlacing them. He found it difficult to think, the feel of her above him once again driving him into a passionate frenzy. It took every ounce of strength he had not to devour her like he had before. Her lips touched his cheek, gently at first, but after a long moment her teeth lightly closed over his jaw. She ran her tongue over the skin, soothing the light pain she had created.
Before he could form another thought, he turned his head and connected their lips. He welcomed her tongue with his, taking her face into his hands and pulling her closer. Rolling over her, he pushed forward, sliding his hands over her until she let out a familiar moan. He knew the woman beneath him and he used every ounce of his knowledge to please her. She was withering beneath in in minutes, his mouth touching every inch of her as she pulled at his hair and the sheets of the bed.
When she dropped over the edge, she cried out to the spirits, something she hadn't done in all of her life and when she began to return to her own body, he pulled away. Confused, she reached for him, wanting to give him the experience she had just had, but he wouldn't let her. With her heart still racing, she allowed him to pull her into his arms and almost instantly, she felt a comfort she had could never remember feeling.
"Is that how you were with her?" she asked through a whisper. "The woman you spoke of?"
"Yes," he replied almost as softly.
"She was a lucky woman."
Shaking his head, he tightened his arms around her and closed his eyes, breathing in her scent. "No, I was lucky."
"What happened to her?"
He opened his eyes and sighed. "She went out to meet her sister and never came back. I've been looking for her ever since."
"How long ago?"
"Nearly five years."
She pulled out of his arms and turned to face him, sitting with her legs crossed before her. "You've been looking for her for five years?"
"And now I've found her."
Reaching forward, he lifted her left arm and touched his fingers to the scar on on stomach. "I gave that to you a few months after we met." He saw the shocked confusion and shook his head. "I couldn't think of any other way to protect you." He spent the next hour telling her part of their story, praying that something would bring her back to him.
"If I could do those things to men, why would they keep me here? I've never hurt any of them."
"The necklace around your neck, have you ever taken it off?"
"No. They told me-"
"It's what protects other men from your magic. Haven't you ever felt like something was missing? A part of you that you couldn't quite grasp?"
"This is all I've ever known."
Touching her cheek, he smiled. "You're more than this, Kahlan."
Moving back, she frowned. "I'm sorry. I'm not your Confessor."
"You'll remember," he said quietly. "And I'll come back every day until you do."
"You can't. Michael doesn't like men choosing only one woman."
"I'll take care of him."
Taking the clothes he handed her, she sighed. "I'm not the woman you love, but I wouldn't hate to see you again."
Richard returned the next day and the next, by the sixth day, she found herself eagerly awaiting his presence. When he walked through the door, he would toss a small bag of coins to Michael and then, before the man could respond, he made his way over to her. He put on a quick show for those who watched, making sure no one suspected what really went on when they were alone. The other girls stared as they walked past, each having their minds wonder about what she did to bring him back again and again.
Leaving the others, they walked to the cabin and closed themselves away. Once they were alone, they removed most of their clothes and crawled into the bed, just in case anyone entered, which someone usually did. Laying on top of him, she folded her arms over his chest and looked down him.
"What happened after you saved the world?"
Letting out a soft chuckle, he ran his fingers over her shoulders. "There was a feast, the people and our friends thanking us. It didn't last long enough though," he said through a whisper. "We were attacked by a screeling and you- Kahlan shielded one of the children beneath the table. We found out soon afterward that I had unknowingly caused- It was my fault the Keeper was able to touch the world of the living."
"And she told you otherwise?"
He grinned widely. "Every minute she could. No one could make me feel the way she did."
"What happened next?"
"Banelings, Denna, Darken Rahl, Sisters of the Light and of the Dark." Pushing some of the hair out of her face, he sighed. "And then the Keeper himself."
Smiling, she shifted her body above him. "Tell me the end first. How did you win?"
"I had you. I was fooled by the Keeper and gave him the Stone of Tears. You were in ConDar and you released your magic into me and when it didn't work, you killed me. When I died, it brought you out of it and as Cara gave me the breath of life, you saved us all."
"You created another stone out of your own tears." She stared down at him in wonder, waiting for him to finish. "Your love for me- You saved the world after I handed it to the Keeper." Looking away, took in a breath. "I made love to you for the first time that night."
"What was it like?"
He smiled, his mind recalling the memory freshly. "Magical." Looking back to her his smile faded. "I wish you could remember that night. I had never known anything like it before."
"Is that why you won't lay with me?"
"I'm laying with you right now."
She smiled and raised her knee between his legs until it could go no further. "You're wearing your pants, locking you away from me."
"I can't be with you until you remember who I am."
Pushing against him, she ran her hands over his chest. "I'm not your Kahlan."
"How can you be so sure?"
"I asked around. You were right before, I don't remember very far back, but they all told me the same thing. Five years ago I was entertaining a new guest and things got out of hand. They said that by the time they found me, I was lucky to be alive." Sitting up, she turned slightly to show him her back. "He was still hitting me with a training stick when they walked in." When his fingers touched the scared skin, she watched his face, the sadness flying across his handsome features. "They don't hurt."
"They used to. From the way this one healed- it must have been very painful."
"I don't remember, but I survived."
"You would survive anything. Do you have any more?"
Smiling, she nodded. "I have many scars. More than most of the others. They say each one is a symbol of strength."
"Do you want to see them?"
"I think I know them all and the story behind them."
"You told me. That first few nights we were together, we spent a lot of time... Discovering each other."
Moving off of him, she sat next to him and and lifted her left leg toward him. "What about this one?"
Grinning, he nodded and lifted himself up onto his elbows. "You were shot with an arrow. I was there, pulled it out of your leg before running after the person who shot it."
"This one?" she asked as she pointed to the scar above it.
"You were cut with a sword when I left to train with the Sisters of the Light. It became infected, Cara had to burn it closed." She pointed to one at the hollow of her throat, remaining quiet as he followed her fingers. "Zedd. We were possessed by the spirits of another Confessor and Seeker. He did it to get the spirits to leave our bodies."
She frowned and lowered her eyes. "Am I really this woman?"
Looking to him, she blinked out a set of tears. "Why can't I remember anything?"
"I don't know," he replied quietly, pulling her back into his arms. "But I'm going to do everything I can to try to help you to remember." Laying back, he held her to him. "I'm not going to give up on you, I promise."
Lifting her head, she nudged her nose against his chin, his body growing rigid. "What's wrong?"
"You used to do that every morning to wake me."
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't-" She started to pull back, but he stopped her.
"No, it's alright. You don't know how much I've missed that."
She settled down beside him and sighed. "Can you tell me what it was like again? No- Can you show me?"
"Kahlan- I can't do that."
"You said that you would do everything you could to help me remember. I know that I don't have the right to ask, but if I am this woman, if I am not this woman I've been for all of these years- Please... You don't have to- Can I have a small portion of what you'd give to her."
"Kahlan, I'm not sure that I can give you anything less than everything."
Pulling him to his side, she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and brought him closer. "I'll stop you, I promise."
When her lips touched his, he kissed back with no hesitation. Her lips felt the same and though her kiss was slightly different, he felt the woman he loved in his arms. She lifted her right leg over his, bringing him closer as she pushed forward. Richard quickly found himself lost in her embrace, his body aching for hers in a way that could not be stopped. Within a matter of moments, he was nearly laying on top of her, rocking against her left leg while one of his hands slipped between her legs.
She broke their kiss with a gasp, his touch far more than pleasing as images began to flash through her mind. He kissed down her neck, needing to keep the contact between them as she bucked against his hand. When his name left her lips, he felt all control leave his body. Lifting his head, he looked to her face and watched her climb higher. It wasn't the first time he had touched her this way, but from her movements and gasps, he would swear that every man who had been with her since had given no attempt to give her anything.
Her nails dug into his neck, her hand trying to bring his mouth back to hers. When they finally collided, she took hold of his face and held him to her, using the moment to fuel her memories. After another few moments, she pushed him back and opened her eyes, reaching down to stop his hand.
"It started to rain... " Meeting her eyes, he nodded, a part of him wanted to cry in relief, the other terrified that she would never fully remember. "I didn't want you to stop."
He smiled, "No. No, you didn't, but neither did I."
Touching her hand to his face, she tried to remember something else, anything else. "Why can't I remember?"
"I don't know."
"Can I ask you something else?"
Dropping her hand, she pulled his from between her legs. "You know what I've been doing here, why would you want me?"
"Because I love you and I know that you would never-"
"You don't know what I've done."
"I don't need to."
Sitting up, she moved away from him, wrapping herself in a blanket to block the cool air that circled her. "If you're the man that I loved, you should know what I've done."
"I only need to know one thing," he told her as he moved to her side.
"If you had been given a choice, would you have done any of it?"
"No," she whispered, slightly turning her head toward him. "But I still did them."
"Then when you begin to remember, I'm going to ask you to make it up to me."
She chuckled, looking to the door before a frown overtook her. "If I don't remember, will you-" Looking back to him, she tried to look hopeful, the blanket falling to her waist. "I have only known you for a few days, but I think I've already fallen in love with you."
"That's how I felt when I first met you." Turning, he laid on his back, keeping his head beside her. "I never thought anyone could make me feel the way you did."
He smiled widely, "Happy."
"You weren't happy before?"
"Are you happy?"
"I am right now."
Nodding, he reached up and brushed some of her hair over her shoulder, revealing more of her back and seeing a new cut that he hadn't seen before. "Why did he do this?"
Moving off of the bed, she pulled the blanket back around her, hiding herself from him. "Michael was angry."
Walking to the window across from the bed, she pushed the curtains over and peeked outside. "He doesn't like me spending so much time with you."
"He wanted you to be with him, didn't he?"
"And you wouldn't do it."
"No," she answered quietly, the sound barely making it to his ears. "You kept telling me about this woman and I thought that if you were right and if I was her... I would hurt you." Turning around, she looked at him, wondering when he had moved to the edge of the bed. "We are not allowed to speak to him. He's not accustomed to being told no."
"What did you tell him?"
"I said that I would be unable to please him."
"He hit you?"
"I've never said no to him before." She watched the emotion flood over his face, bringing her an amount of pain she didn't want to admit. "It's something he's asked every woman here for. If we do not lay with him; we must bring in more money than the others."
"That's why he didn't continue the punishment."
"Because of what you've paid for me. He was afraid that if he caused more damage, you wouldn't want me anymore. Why do you do it? You could pay less than half of what you do and he would still give me to you."
"You're worth more than any amount to me. I pay him what you're worth to him. He likes you more than the others, I saw it on his face when I asked for you. He almost said no, but I dropped another bag of coins in his hands. You're one of his favorites, aren't you?"
"Before you, I was requested each day, by most men who came in for months. One morning I awoke and he was standing beside the bed, saying he had a special assignment for me. I was to be the gift he would give to one of his friends." She looked down to the floor and took in a breath, waiting for the courage to continue. "He hated me being alone with anyone and at first, he sat it that chair, watching."
"And then he couldn't only watch?"
Meeting his eyes, she nodded. "It was some kind of game to him. The things he wanted to do, the way he- He told me none of the others could do it and from that, we... Other than him and his friends, you're the only man he's allowed near me, in over a year."
"Kahlan," he whispered, coming to his feet.
"After you left the first day, I laid there waiting for him." He continued making his way to her, seeing the pain in her eyes. "Please don't-"
He had her in his arms, hugged tightly to his chest within seconds and suddenly she couldn't take it any longer. Grabbing his face, she kissed him and pushed forward, dropping her blanket to the floor as she walked them toward the bed. He wouldn't stop their kiss, she knew he wouldn't, she was counting on it. She craved his touch, his lips on every inch of her body and he would give it to her, he could do nothing less. Pushing him onto the bed, she crawled onto him and let herself go.
Within moments, she turned them to their sides and yanked him on top of her. He hesitated for a moment, but the low moan she released as she pushed her chest against his filled his mind. She bucked her hips up, fueling his desire as she moved her hands between them and unlaced his pants. He reached to stop her, but the feel of her hand wrapping around him kept him from doing anything other than returning her next kiss. She twisted her hand, drawing out a heated moan that vibrated both of their bodies.
It took him longer than most men. By now, they would be emptying themselves within her as they struggled to breathe, but Richard held strong. He was more than ready for her, throbbing against her hand as he focused on her and her alone. She abandoned his manhood, unable to keep her mind on the task as he let his hands travel over her. He had already proven that he knew her body, but from the way he touched her, she was certain that this was the first time, since he arrived, that he had allowed himself to be with her completely free.
His hands lingered in just the right places, his touch setting her on a fire so hot, she thought she would burn through the bed. She panted his name, almost the way she used to and he made sure to take notice. Lifting his head from her chest, lowered his hand until she nearly screamed. Rocking forward, he tried to remind himself she was not yet the woman he loved. Pulling back, he grabbed the necklace around her neck and pulled, trying to free her magic.
"It won't come off without a key," she said quietly, grabbing both of his hands. "I've tried."
"Who has it?"
Crawling off of her, he pushed himself back into his pants and walked to the door, opening it immediately. "Stay here, I'm going to get that key."
Rushing to him, she pushed the door closed. "It's not important."
Touching the side of her face, he gave a weak smile. "It's more important than you can imagine. I won't be gone long."
"You don't have to go anywhere. We can bring him here."
Pushing him away from the door, she opened it and pushed her head outside. "Michael!" she called out more seductively than Richard imagined she would.
"We were hoping that you would join us," she replied as he came to a stop at the door. She felt Richard's hand on hers behind the door, giving her the courage to continue. "He wishes to see how a real man works a woman."
Michael wouldn't deny the option, she knew he wouldn't. The moment he entered the room, Richard had him shoved against the wall, using his body to keep him from looking at Kahlan's naked body.
"Cover yourself," he said over his shoulder, keeping his eyes on the other man. "The key to her necklace, give it to me."
Tilting his head, the Seeker grew closer to him. "I should kill you for kidnapping the Mother Confessor. Give me the key, now."
"I give you the key, that monster will destroy everyone here."
"I'll take the risk."
"It's in my boot."
Slamming his elbow against the side of the man's face, Richard knocked him unconscious. Kneeling, he pulled off his boots, searching for what hid another part of the woman he loved. When he found the tiny piece of metal, he tossed it to her with a smile.
"What if he's right and I-"
"He's not. He doesn't know you; I do." Standing, he walked over to her and took back the key. "You have never hurt someone you didn't have to. I know you and I trust you more than anyone. Don't you feel like a piece of you is missing?"
"Will you let me help you?"
Unlocking the necklace, the Seeker held her eyes, watching the fear collect as she felt her magic within her. Her eyes darkened for a moment, the magic fully resurfacing.
"Don't be afraid," he told her calmly, smiling at the beauty of it. "You're in control."
"Beautiful," he told her as her eyes returned to their normal blue.
Without thought, she pulled him to her and connected their lips. Dropping her blanket, she pushed at the top of his pants, instantly pleased as they fell to the floor. As quickly as their kiss began, he was laying on top of her, their bodies desperate to unite. Shoving the blankets off of the bed, he settled between her legs and waited for her to give him permission to continue. Raising her hips, she rubbed against him, breaking their kiss for a moment to speak.
"Please... I want you to."
He studied her face for a moment, his mind reeling as her body beckoned him. "You're sure?"
"As sure as you are that I'm the woman you love." Stroking her fingers through his hair, she arched up against him. "Show me."
Reconnecting their lips, he pushed down against her, letting his desire take over. Raking her nails into his back, she brought him closer, her moans insisting for more until he could hold back no longer. He filled her completely, her body accepting every inch of him until they were fully connected. The sound that left her lips made it impossible for him to breathe, gasping for air, he rocked forward to hear it again. She joined his actions, quickening their pace until she felt herself losing control.
It surprised her to be close to the edge so soon, her body usually left wanting when the night was through. Squeezing her eyes shut, she tried to stop herself, feeling her magic threatening to fly free. His mouth was suddenly against her ear, whispering for her to let go, asking her to trust him and fall. There was something in his voice that comforted her fully, something that took her hand and jumped with her over the edge. A cry of pleasure circled around them as she pushed into him, softly begging him not to stop. She could barely see as her eyes fluttered open, darkness taking over until another wave crashed over her.
Gasping for air, she struggled to keep her eyes open, her body exhausted from the strength of her release. His lips found hers and caressed them briefly before dropping his head to the crook of her neck.
"Rest," he breathed out heavily, knowing that her body needed a few moments to regain its strength from releasing its magic after so long. Lifting his head he met her weary eyes and whispered, "I'll be right here."
She held onto him firmly as her eyes fell closed, feeling safe with him above her. When her eyes opened, he was still there, just as he told her he would be. His head was laying on her chest, his arms pressed snugly against her sides, keeping her warm. She wondered if he had fallen asleep, his breathing was slow and steady, a part of her was afraid to move and wake him up. Running her fingers through the hair on the back of his head, she smiled as her mind made a decision.
"Lord Rahl?" she asked in a quiet voice, hoping that if he was asleep, she wouldn't wake him.
His head few upward, his eyes racing to hers as a smile crossed his face. "Mother Confessor," he responded the way he always did when she called him that. "Our first night together-"
Grinning, Kahlan shifted beneath him. "It was raining," she interrupted quietly, her voice a soft seduction. "You thought we should find shelter, but I didn't want to let go of you. By the time it stopped raining, we could barely move and you told me that-"
"The rain would never stop me from making love to you." He licked his lips, trying to get himself to settle on a single emotion as he stared into her familiar eyes. "The next morning I asked you what you wanted us to be and you said-"
"Everything." Grabbing his face, she wiped her thumbs across his cheeks, brining him to realize that he had begun to cry. "You looked for me all this time?"
Nodding the Seeker laid his hands over hers. "I would look for you until my very last breath."
"I'm so sorry," she whispered to him, feeling the pain she saw in his eyes. "I should have found a way to you."
Kissing her briefly, he gathered his thoughts and prepared to meet her eyes again. "We always find each other. Kahlan, I was so afraid that I would never find you."
Letting lose a set of her own tears, she looked away. "I'm so sorry you found me here."
"It's not your fault, Kahlan. Look at me, please." When she brought her eyes back to his, he nudged his nose against hers. "All that matters is that we're together again."
"The things I've done... The men I let-"
"They're never going to touch you again, I promise."
"I betrayed you."
"You could never betray me, Kahlan." He smiled sincerely as he rolled off of her and pulled her to him. "The first night we were together, before it started raining, do you remember what you said to me?"
"I told you that I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to disappoint you." Her voice was soft and fragile, dripping with fear and pain.
"What I told you then, it's still true now. As long as you loved me, that was all I needed. Do you still love me?"
"Then nothing else matters."
"How can you say that, when you know what I've done?"
"I know you," he replied as though it was more than obvious. "I believe that you did what you had to in order to survive because you knew I would come for you. You may not have realized it, but I know a part of you always believed that someone would come and rescue you." Pressing his forehead against hers, he took in a breath as she released hers. "When I found you here and you brought me in here, all I could think of was making love to you. And even after those horrible men Michael gave you to, you weren't different than the Kahlan I've always known. I am not upset that you took other men to this bed, I'm upset that I made you endure it for so long."
"It's not your fault."
"Every day for the past five years I've thought about the last moments we had together. You asked me to come with you, but I said no."
"You were in the middle of a-"
"If I had gone with you, if I hadn't been so foolish to think that there were no more dangers out there, you wouldn't have gone through this."
Cuddling herself closer to him, she buried her face in the crook of his neck. Taking in a deep breath, she allowed his smell to fill her. "I don't blame you."
"And you should blame me for what I've done with those men."
"I won't blame you for something you had no control over."
Pulling back, she met his eyes. "Then you shouldn't blame yourself."
Richard grabbed her face and pulled her forward, needing to feel more of her warmth. "I lost you, Kahlan."
"Two nights before I was taken, when we were staying in the Confessor's Palace."
He smiled in spite of himself, the memory clear in his mind. "They refused to let us share a room."
Letting loose a soft chuckle, Kahlan nodded. "I couldn't stay the night away from you. When I reached your door, you were leaving and you smiled and said that I was always the one who came to you-"
"And I wanted to be the one to come to you."
Kissing him, she smiled. "You came to me."
He started to reconnect their lips, but she moved away, crawling off of the bed. Confused, the Seeker watched her, finding it difficult not to stare at her gracefulness. She dressed herself quicker than he liked, but he knew they couldn't lay there, naked, forever. When she kneeled in front of Michael, Richard sat up and hurried to her side, trying to stop her as she reached out to him.
"I have to look into his eyes before we leave."
"Because I want to see the fear in them when he learns he's lost." Her words surprised him, but the fear and pain in her own eyes told him that he had yet to know the entire story. Patting her hand against his cheek, she spoke the man's name. "Michael."
When he opened his eyes, he smiled. "You've remembered?" Words suddenly failed her as she nodded, fueling his smile. "You were tough to break. I thought it would be some time before we lost your pleasure." She slapped him, hard. His cheek quickly reddened in the shape of her hand, a sight pleasing to the couple before him. "It may not have been the life you were used to, but you didn't complain."
Raising her head, she picked her lips slowly, bringing his attention to her mouth. "Why would I complain when I knew that the moment you left, a real man, any other man, would step through my door?"
He laughed, the sound making Richard's hair stand on end. "Am I supposed to regret what I did? I haven't had a woman like you in all my years." Darting his eyes to the Seeker he waited for him to agree. "You had her, I can't imagine the pleasure it must have brought to have first. She was firm- A pleasing feeling most woman lose by the time they're this age, but the Mother Confessor... It was Christmas morning each night I-"
Richard lunged forward, slamming the man against the wall, his head banging against the wood. "Shut up!"
Grabbing his arm, Kahlan pulled him back. "Richard, don't."
"He can't talk about you that way!"
"I speak the truth!" Michael managed to cry out as he touched his fingers to the back of his head. "I gave her the chance to feel-"
Richard slammed his fist across the other man's face, unable to stop himself as he imagined him laying over her. Dropping to the floor, Kahlan moved between the two of them and took hold of the older man's throat. Her magic flooded through him and instantly, he sat up in attention.
"Command me, Mistress."
"You will release the women here, splitting all of the money you possess evenly with them."
"Then you will find honest work, protecting others from what you've made those women do."
He nodded eagerly. "Is there anything else I can do to please you?"
"Where's my dress?"
"I burned it, Mistress. Please forgive me. I was afraid that if you saw it, you would remember something from your past."
Standing, Kahlan took several steps back. "Go, free the women."
He rushed from the room, leaving the couple alone. After a moment, he turned her to face him. "Are you alright?"
"I don't know."
"Come here." Wrapping her in his arms, he hugged her to him, hoping that it made her feel better.
Pulling her head back, she met his eyes. "I don't think I thanked you."
"Thank you," she whispered with a smile. "Thank you for finding me."
Tilting her head, she stepped back and looked out the door. "Where's Cara?"
"She's waiting outside the gates. I didn't want to risk you getting hurt because they recognized a Mord'Sith."
Smiling, she looked back to him. "When do we leave?"
Walking back to the bed, he grabbed his shirt and boots, dressing quickly. "We should find you some shoes and maybe more clothes."
She raised an eyebrow, "Why Lord Rahl, are you embarrassed to be seen with me in such clothing?"
"No," he answered quietly, his eyes moving over her. "I'm afraid we won't get very far before I have to have you again."
Closing the short distance between them, she tugged at his shirt. "Maybe we should stay here for a little while."
"I don't want you to be here any longer."
"I'll forget I'm here when I close my eyes."
Letting out a soft growl, he pulled her into his arms and connected their lips for a brief moment. "We should get going."
Nodding, Kahlan took his hand and let him lead her outside. She felt like it was the first time she had ever left the cabin, the sun making her blink and shield her eyes with her free hand. Looking over his shoulder, he made sure she was alright as they traveled through the other women, who escaped the men who had been clinging to them minutes before.
"Is it true?" One of them asked quietly. "Are you the Mother Confessor?"
The blonde reached out and took hold of her hand, bringing it to rest at her own chest. "Thank you."
"What will you do now, Sarah?"
"See the world, just like I always wanted."
Hugging the other woman, Kahlan grinned. "If you ever find yourself in Aydindril, come see me."
"I'll be sure of it."
Cara walked beside her for hours, the Mord'Sith filling her in on every wrong decision the Seeker had made over the past five years. Kahlan found the stories comforting as she learned he had done his best to protect and rule of only his land and people, but hers as well. While her friend continued, she realized that the sound of Cara's familiar annoyed tone was something she had missed. She, of course, didn't tell her friend, though a part of her had the urge to pull the other woman into her arms and hug her. It would be a sight to see, she thought as her mind drifted away from the words around her. Confessors and Mord'Sith hated each other, but Kahlan had grown to think of Cara as more than a friend, she was like family.
"I don't think she's listening," the blonde said as Richard stared at them.
"Maybe she knows better than to believe I took you to my bed," he countered with a soft laugh that gained the Mother Confessor's attention.
"I told you she wasn't listening."
Looking to her friend, she smiled weakly. "I'm sorry, I was thinking."
There was something on her mind, Richard could see it pulling her in every direction, but he said nothing, hoping that when she was ready, she would talk to him about it.
"We should set up a camp here for tonight. It's going to be getting colder soon and I don't want us out in it."
"I'll find some firewood." Before the others had a chance to respond, she was gone, walking through the trees.
Looking from the blonde to the brunette, Richard grinned. "Rabbit or squirrel?"
She smiled, coming closer to him. "You catch the rabbit, I'll grab a few squirrels."
"No," he said softly, taking her hand. "I don't want us to be separated."
"I'll be fine hunting a few squirrels, Richard."
"I have no doubt, but that doesn't keep me from wanting to keep you by my side."
"Alright," she smiled.
Kahlan laid in his arms, her head resting on his shoulder as her left arm draped over his chest. She listened to the slow beat of his heart, using it to guide her through her thoughts as she tried to find a way to tell him something she knew would hurt him. She wanted to quiet her mind and enjoy the night in his arms, but she couldn't stop thinking long enough to close her eyes. A part of her feared returning to Aydindril, wanting to tell him to run away with her and allow the rest of the world to believe they had died. They would be free, she reasoned with herself, they would have each other and he would have the life he once told her he wanted.
Richard had fallen asleep quickly that night, having her in his arms making it possible for him to drift off without a worry. When she lifted herself from his body, his eyes opened instantly and searched for where she had gone. She didn't move far, she couldn't. Looking out into the threes, she sighed.
Words failed to escape his open mouth, his mind spinning as his heart pound against his chest. She didn't look at him, she couldn't as he processed the information. The child couldn't be his, a fact they both knew to be true. After a few moments, he laid his hand on her shoulder and squeezed gently.
"Do you remember what we talked about after we sealed the rifts?" She didn't reply, but she turned her head for a glimpse of him. "We talked about what our lives would be, the children we would have..."
"I've ruined our plans."
His smile surprised her. "You didn't ruin anything, Kahlan. We're still having our family. Our first daughter is growing inside of you."
"Don't say it, Kahlan. It doesn't matter, she has two parents who are going to love her and that's all she will ever need."
"How can you love someone else's child?"
"She's a part of you and blood doesn't creat a family, Kahlan. You and I both know that better than anyone."
"I don't know what to do."
"What do you mean?
Looking away, Kahlan stared out into the trees and blinked out a tear. "I don't want one of their children." Turning her head back to him, she shook her head. "What kind of mother doesn't want her own child?"
Pulling her into his arms, he hugged her. "You don't mean that."
Pushing her face into his shoulder, she nodded. "Yes, I do. Richard, I don't want their daughter."
"Listen to me," he said as he pulled back to look at her. "She's our daughter. Ours, Kahlan. None of those men are her father, I am. I dot care what happened, I am her father. We are her parents and we both love her."
Clinging to him, she moved onto his lap and kissed the side of his neck. Closing her eyes, she tried to imagine their future, but it wouldn't happen. "I don't want to go back," she whispered quietly.
"It's alright, Kahlan."
"I've been gone for five years. Everything's different."
"And you're afraid."
"I'm going to be with you, Kahlan. I'm going to help you through this, I promise."
"What happens now?"
Tightening his arms around her, he hugged her chest to his. "We go home and start our family."