TITLE: Leather and Agiel
AUTHOR: Lord of Kavaka
CHARACTERS: Richard/Kahlan
RATING: M (for later chapters)
TIMELINE: Post-CONVERSION (1x15) A/U Storyline; Sequel to SILK AND SAND, Post-CURSED (1x19)
STORY TYPE: Angst/Romance/Drama/Hurt/Comfort
SPOILERS: Anything from Season 1 & 2.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own them, and I make no profit.
SUMMARY: Lost and alone, separated from Richard, Kahlan must rescue and befriend a tormented women in the clutches of a madman. Doing so may prove to be the boon that helps her find and save her Seeker.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is also a b-day present.


Leather & Agiel – Chapter 1

The water cascaded down in gentle sheets, crashing on the rocks below. The pool was shallow, bubbling with the stirring of energy. Green trees stood on the fringe, framing the small sanctuary, shielding it from the darkness of the world beyond. A beneficial magical aura encompassed the entire retreat, generating a kind of gentle glow to emanate from the water, casting blue hues all over.

She stood there, splendent in her white dress, a symbol of her power and authority… of what she was. A Confessor. But that was not all. Soft moonlight filtered through the canopy, prancing between branches and leaves, to shimmer and glisten off the silver band about her neck. The metal was cold against her skin, making her shiver imperceptibly.

But he noticed.

He would always notice.

Batting her eyelashes, she heaved in a breath as he stepped forward across the rocks. The boom of the waterfall behind them obscuring all other sound except her beating heart.

As if in slow motion, his hand came up, gently landing on the side of her face as his fingertips ghosted across her jaw. Her breath hitched up as she looked at him, her blue eyes catching his brown ones in a longing gaze. The love he had for her radiated out, gloriously so. She sighed softly and closed her eyes, living for his touch.

It was tender, so very tender. His hand slowly traced her jaw, running down the sloping column of her throat. His fingers curled slightly around the cold metal on her neck, pausing momentarily, before moving on, lightly brushing along her shoulder, against the silky fabric of her dress.

"I wish you didn't have to wear this."

Her answer was the same. Always the same. "If I don't, you'd… Please. I can't take it off. I… I couldn't bare the consequences."

He sighed, not entirely happy about her decision, but he relented just the same, as he always did. He could never refuse her. "I love you," he murmured, his voice strong and confident, with no waver or doubt.

"I love you, too," she whispered back. Her voice sounded soft and weak to her, but it was still sure in her belief. It was right, without hesitation.

His hand skidded back up to cup her face, barely touching. She closed her eyes and eased into his touch, the pad of his thumb brushing along her cheek. She gazed up at him with longing and love. He leaned forward, capturing her mouth with his. His lips were soft and insistent as he kissed her. She could not help but melt into him, savoring every last bit as she slid into his embrace. His arm effortlessly slipped around her waist, his hand spreading wide across the small of her back as he pulled her closer.

She hummed in deep satisfaction, losing herself in him.

His tongue gently prodded along the seam of her lips until she parted them for him, allowing his tongue entry. It was soft and gentle, yet eager, as his warmth invaded her. She moved her arms, wrapping them around him to pull him closer, wishing she could just blend with him and become one.

That was when the thrumming started, deep in her chest. Low and deep. Dark. Her heart beat with the same reverberation. But the drumming persisted, wanting release, terrible and awful release.

There was a sharp snapping noise and she startled back, afraid, catching the sight of the silver collar falling, falling, falling… skidding off the rocky bridge and disappearing into the pool of glowing water below. She had only a moment of confusion before he was grabbing her face, his hand sliding along her newly exposed neck, freed from the constraints of the Rada'Han, as he kissed her deeply, wiping out all other conscious thought.

And then there it was, the constant tightening in the pit of her stomach, the ache for release, the power beyond measure. She fought it, lashing out at it with all her worth, but all it took was one moment of distraction and it was free.

It seized her by surprise, as his hands coasted along her arm, his thumb caressing her affectionately. Her hand rested on his chest, with the original intent of pushing him back, to save him from the harm that had been wrought by the destruction of the collar, but she could not do it… could not do what she had to do.

The power within her roared to life, coursing through her veins with frightening speed as it snarled and snapped, taking what it would for its own… taking him.

There was thunder without sound, and a compressed concussion of air that blew out around her, a silent wind of death—the herald of doom—that she feared above all else, where he was concerned.

His hand dropped from her arm, and his body went slack and limp as he leaned against her. When his eyes opened, they were devoid of that stunning spark for life that had always been there. Instead, the once brilliant vibrant energy was replaced by a shadow, a shade of its former brightness. The dimness of utter soulless devotion was all that remained of the man she loved.

His lips parted.

And she screamed in terrible horror when he spoke.

"Command me, Confessor."

XXX

Thunder and lightning clashed across the dark sky, battling for dominance, illuminating the flimsy hovel Kahlan had taken shelter in. The crackling boom startled her, making her jump, blinking awake from the meager numb slumber she'd succumb to due to fatigue and exhaustion. She shivered as the rain plummeted down on her, soaking her to the bone. Her white dress clung to her like a second skin; her hair was stringy and matted against her head. A cruel howl came through the wind, making her push further down, waiting, listening for the beasts to pass.

The snarl was the first thing she heard, followed by a few yelps and snaps. The beasts bounded by the dilapidated structure that had become her sanctuary against the harsh weather. Her breath fluttered through her lungs as she closed her eyes, straining her ears as she waited for the all clear. Kahlan hardly drew a breath while she remained quiet. After a long period of waiting, and listening, she heard not a sound. The wolves had moved on, leaving her in peace and unmolested.

Slumping with relief, Kahlan let out a sigh and brushed the damp hair away from her face. Her eyes flicked up to the gaping hole in the sunken roof—what was left of it. Hard rain poured down through the jagged timbers, dripping down on her, continuously saturating her to the point where she was shivering to her bones. Her sanctuary was little more than a shack, loosely held up by wooden beams that looked about ready to collapse.

Cautiously, she leaned back against one of the rotting timbers, resting her head against the hard surface. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, trying not to dwell on the recent events that had led to her current predicament. With each deep gasp of air her chest expanded and contracted, oftentimes straining against the tight confines of her corset. The stinging bite of the laces against the soft flesh of her breasts was her first signal that she needed to calm down and regain control over her intake of oxygen.

Kahlan closed her eyes and tried to focus on the meditations she had been taught as a young confessor. She still remembered being struck across the knuckles for not keeping her eyes closed during the training sessions. That particular instructor at the Confessor's Palace had been rather strict. Folding her hands across her lap, Kahlan forcibly slowed her breathing down, taking long deep breaths as she freed her mind of all thought and emotion.

When she opened her eyes several minutes later, her face was expressionless, cloaked in the mask of a Confessor.

XXX

Ruffling through her pack, searching for anything that might be of use, Kahlan paused when she saw it. She blinked, startled by the sight. She pursed her lips and brushed back her matted hair from her forehead, tucking a few water thick strands behind an ear. The silver collar sat there, nestled in drenched linens. Breathing steadily through her nose, Kahlan lifted the metal band up before her disbelieving eyes.

It was whole. It had never been struck asunder.

Her shoulders relaxed and she slumped forward, sighing in relief.

It had been a dream. She had not confessed Richard.

Careful to cover the Rada'Han in the linen wrappings, Kahlan returned it to the bottom of her pack. Eyes jerking up, she scanned the surrounding forest. The trees were dense, tightly compact, leaving no view of the valley below. There was nothing there. She was alone. At least for the moment.

Kahlan could not understand why she'd had that dream. She thought she'd moved past that, of worrying about her powers. Yes, she still feared confessing Richard in the heat of the moment, so when they managed some time alone to make love, she'd always lock the damn thing around her neck. Though, recently, after the events in Caddock, she'd grown more wary of giving into her baser needs. Richard, however, was the opposite. He had grown more insistent that she need not use the collar, that his love was stronger than even she believed.

She wanted so badly for that to be true, but history told her otherwise. No man in living memory had been able to mate with a confessor without becoming confessed in the process.

Of course that didn't stop Richard from persisting in trying to win her over to his opinion. Yet, no matter how reasoned and logical his arguments were, Kahlan would not budge. She'd learned to accept the deep dark power within… her curse, just as Princess Corah had learned to accept hers. She was determined not to let the fear of the Blood Rage rule her actions. However, it was still wise to be cautious, hence her steadfastness in the use of the Rada'Han whenever they made love.

But the events in Caddock had been… What? A week ago.

Where was Richard? And Zedd, for that matter?

Kahlan rubbed her forehead, trying to recollect the missing days from her memory. Her head hurt, and she was fighting off a fearsome headache, not to mention the unrelenting of the rain. It didn't help that she couldn't rightly tell where she was. The clouds were grey, blocking out the sun, making it even more difficult to see.

Shaking her head, Kahlan focused on the task at hand. She located the cloak and pulled it out of the pack, unrolling it and draping it over her shoulders as she fought against the chill in the wind. Tugging the hood up and over, she sheltered her head from the fierce rain. After seeing to the security of all her supplies within the pack, Kahlan doubled checked the straps before hefting it up and over her shoulders.

Letting out a soft grunt as the pack hit her back, Kahlan stood there and surveyed the interior of the shack. Nothing useful. She huffed, partly in annoyance. Grumbling slightly under her breath, she made her way to the opening, and paused, placing a hand on the dilapidated wooden frame as she warily glanced around the forest outside. Seeing no danger, she bundled herself up in the cloak and marched out into the deluge.

XXX

Opening the shutters of his cabin, he groaned and stretched his tired old limbs. It was raining, again… harder than the previous day. Scratching his scruffy chin, he blinked his eyes slowly, still somewhat in the foggy clouds of slumber. After a few minutes, he turned away from the opened window and shuffled over to the rickety chair that wobbled on one leg, retrieving the dusty moth-eaten quilt. Sweeping his arms up and draping the quilt over his shoulders like a cloak, he tugged the loose ends around his shivering frame.

A chilly breeze blew through the window, and he turned back, glaring at it.

He needed light to work by, but what little light he gained from the open shutters, he lost with the dark clouds and cold wind. Letting out a disgruntled huff, he shuffled back and shut the shutters with a decisive nod.

With a wave of his hand, a jet of white hot fire shot out from his fingertips and landed with a burst of sparks in the middle of the stack of logs that remained in the hearth. A fire sprang to life immediately, both warming up and providing some light to the small cabin interior. He smiled, bemused, and spun on his heels, casting his hand out over the rest of the room. The wicks of several candles burst to life with little flames, adding to the growing orange light emanating from the hearth.

Moving about with comfortable ease that came from a trusted routine, he quickly filled the cauldron with water and added in the necessary ingredients to make himself a hearty morning stew. Retrieving the wooden ladle, he stirred the contents of the cauldron off and on while also keeping tabs on the unconscious man he'd found not far from his cabin, alone in the mountain woods, with a nasty gash and growing bump on his head.