The fog swirled in and around everything that lay within its reach. A shadowy form cut through the night and the mist with an urgent, purposeful step. A vision had disturbed her sleep. She had to know what it had meant, what it meant for not only her future, but the future of the Midlands as well.
Her hand swiftly swept over the pool of magical water standing ready before her. Images swirled in and out of focus as she tried to put the pieces together like a puzzle. Prophecies could take on any number of meanings and explanations, could fork in any number of ways. However this prophecy was meant to play out, she would bend that path to whatever way she had to for her benefit and the benefit of the Midlands. Whatever it took, no matter what the cost or to whom…not even what it could cost the Seeker or the Mother Confessor.
The last five days had been mildly arduous but not as grueling as the 48 hours leading up to it. Kahlan had slept the night that Richard and Zedd had found her and well into the next day. Zedd had been able to heal her physical wounds after destroying the spell that Darken Rahl had cast on her. The emotional wounds, on the other hand, would take time to heal. Zedd had braced Richard for that fact, not knowing for certain if there would be any lingering effects of the spell besides the internal wounds that not even a Wizard of the First Order could heal. Zedd reminded Richard that of all the power in the world, none was stronger than love; love heals all wounds.
Richard had tenderly taken care of her the last few days, staying by her side while she slept, holding her when she awoke crying from a lingering nightmare that still imposed itself into her dreams, sitting quietly by the lake, holding her hand while they took long walks through the forest. She hadn't talked very much since waking, but when she did it was never about what had happened. He never forced her to talk about all that Darken Rahl had done to her. If truth be told, Richard wasn't sure he wanted to know. The little bit he did know that Kahlan had told him about before was enough to incite rage and permeate his heart with sorrow. He had felt so helpless watching his soul-mate suffer like that. Now, he felt like he was doing something by taking care of her and just being there for her, protecting her from further harm.
Just his presence alone had been a great comfort to Kahlan. Richard was her rock and made her feel safe and secure. Even though the nightmares still came, they weren't as often nor as strong or vivid as they had been while she had been under Rahl's spell. They still rattled her to the core, but Richard was always by her side, ready to hold her, stroke her back and hair, reassuring her that she was safe. In fact, he never really let her out of his sight and when she was, it wasn't for long. She had tried to reassure him that she was alright now and that he didn't have to stay so close to her all the time, but he had insisted that he was going nowhere without her by his side.
Zedd, for his part, had left the morning of the third day, deciding to spend a few days with his brother Thaddicus while Kahlan healed. Kahlan was out of danger from the spell now and was just in need of time and rest. He and Richard had decided that in a couple more days, if Kahlan was up to traveling, they would meet up with Zedd at Thaddicus's house. They could spend a few more days there before heading on to the next town faithful to the resistance and hopefully discover some new information they could use in the fight against Rahl.
Zedd had also wanted to give Richard and Kahlan some time alone. Over the last three days, he had noticed a stronger, more intimate bond between the two, a passion in their eyes that was different than the sidelong glances and forbidden love that had been there before. He had asked Richard one night while Kahlan was sleeping if he had been with Kahlan while he had been away.
Richard was on cloud nine as he told Zedd that they had been able to be together without him being confessed. Zedd had just grinned at him and told him he was relieved that they had finally figured it out. Richard had been stunned and a little angry by this revelation until Zedd explained that he couldn't have told them about it as it was something they had to discover for themselves.
If Richard had known about it and there had been even the slightest bit of doubt that his love was completely and totally Kahlan's, he would have been confessed. In hindsight, Richard was actually glad that he hadn't known that part. He had followed what was in his heart and what he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt and his love had proved to be complete, bonding them forever as one.
Zedd had made his way to his brother's house in good time and arrived there just in time for supper, much to his delight. Thaddicus was surprised by Zedd's arrival, but quickly set out another plate of stew before the men caught up on recent events. Zedd good-naturedly scolded his brother for rearranging the house since he had last been there, adding to the difficulty in the search for his books. Thaddicus for his part hadn't even noticed Zedd had been there. Zedd apologized for the abrupt intrusion and relayed the events that had led up to that unexpectedly quick visit and to his visit now.
"Richard and Kahlan should be here in a couple of days as long as Kahlan is up to travelling" Zedd informed his brother.
"It will be nice to have some company for a change. It gets lonely here at times by myself. You will all need to be on guard, though" Thaddicus warned him. "D'Haran troops have recently moved into this area and have taken up a new post in an old abandoned castle not far from here. There's something strange going on up there. They're definitely up to something."
"I thought this area had always been faithful to the resistance. What happened to change that?"
"Darken Rahl's troops moved in and set up new government. The resistance in this area quickly fell apart under the harsh rule of D'Hara. Some still faithful to the resistance have fled to join up with underground resistance cells in other towns, many were killed in the fighting that broke out, and some were simply executed."
"How have you managed to stay unnoticed?"
"As an old farmer they must feel that I don't pose much of a threat" Thaddicus supposed. "Besides, they seem to keep mostly to the towns and stay out of the countryside where the farmers are."
"Well, I hope that Richard and Kahlan don't run into too much trouble on their way here. Although, those two tend to get themselves into more predicaments than any two people I know. I'm not certain, thought, how ready Kahlan is to take-on D'Haran quads patrolling the area. Of course, after what Richard has been through watching Kahlan tormented, I fear he's more than ready to wipe out the entire D'Haran army on his own.
"Well, you're all welcome to stay here as long as you need to" Thaddicus offered.
"With D'Harans lurking about and possibly showing up in unexpected places, I'm sure we won't be here long" Zedd said with renewed worry for his friends. Dear Spirits, he thought, please keep them safe.