The sky is gray and dreary, rain clouds threatening over head. It has rained now for three days straight, today being the first day so far without getting wet. However, the clouds threatening overhead are ready to change all that in as little as a heartbeat.
Walking along the road, following the glowing compass, I make my way bringing up the back of our little group, our make-shift "family". Cara would be less than humored by the idea of our group being called a family, but that's what we are.
Each of us looks out for the other, contributing to our group with the daily mundane duties that are required in order to survive. Whether hunting for meat, collecting berries and roots, filling water skins, or gathering fire wood, none of these responsibilities is considered trivial or above our standing when it means the well-being of the other three. In battle, we each can fight to the best of our abilities without worrying about our backside, knowing that one of the others is protecting it. That's what families do.
Richard and Kahlan are walking side by side, leading the way. Richard casts frequent side-long glances at the woman beside him, a smile constantly on his lips. Even from back here I can see the twinkle in his eye, the ever-present look of love on his face.
Kahlan smiles back, the special smile that she gives only to him. They don't think that I notice these things, maybe because I'm old, maybe because they think they are keeping their feelings hidden. A blind person could tell those two are deeply and passionately in love. One can almost feel their love for one another as it rolls off of them in waves.
In all my years, I have never witnessed a love like theirs. So pure, so passionate, so full of hope even against the greatest of odds. I chuckle to myself as Kahlan pushes Richard with her elbow, causing him to lose his footing and side-step right into a huge mud puddle.
Richard looks up in surprise to find himself standing ankle deep in water and mud. He laughs, throwing a mischievous look at the Mother Confessor who pauses briefly to inspect her handy work. She begins walking very quickly, narrowly avoiding the muddy water the Seeker has just sprayed in her direction with a kick of his boot. He takes off after her, scolding her, the mischievous look still dancing on his face. All she can do is laugh at him.
The Seeker grabs her by the elbow, pausing to tickle her ribs in revenge. A giggle escapes as she tries to evade his touch only to find herself now standing in muddy water. Having achieved his revenge, Richard offers a hand which is quickly brushed aside as she makes her way out of her predicament. The Confessor scolds her Seeker for getting her wet, but no anger is seen in her face, only amusement and everlasting love. They continue leading us, now with wet boots, but still a playful spring in their step.
The Mord'Sith in front of me huffs in agitation at the pair's antics and mumbles something under her breath. I can't help but chuckle to myself again. Cara is slowly making her way to humanity but she is a work in progress; my grandson's salvation project. He has always seen the good in people, had compassion for those whose choices have been taken from or made for them, always wanting to help make things better for others. I believe he inherited those traits from his grandmother.
We're suddenly surrounded. Where they came from, I have no idea. They seem to have appeared out of thin air. They're led by a General who introduces himself as General Gaines. He has amassed a large following of loyal D'Haran soldiers who obey his every command no matter how deranged it is.
General Gaines is tall with a foreboding presence. His hair is dark and wild, like his eyes which speak of his heinous ambitions of world domination. By eliminating the Seeker, he eliminates the rightful heir to the Throne of Rahl, Ruler of D'Hara, giving him the chance to seize control for himself.
He also informs us of his schemes to eliminate the Mother Confessor, the governing body and moral compass of the Midlands. With her demise, the line of Confessors would cease to exist. The Council would crumble, allowing the General to conquer the Midlands with ease. With D'Hara and the Midlands under his domination, Westland would easily fall in line.
The General's pride will be his greatest downfall. By boasting his plans to the Seeker and his friends, his fate is now sealed. I see the glint of rage that has sparked in the Seeker's eyes as he readjusts and tightens his grip on the Sword of Truth.
Breathing heavily, he casts a glance to the Confessor standing ready at his side. When Gaines mentions her elimination, the glint of rage becomes an uncontrollable blaze in his brown eyes. He steps forward and moves to stand in front of her in an act of conscious or subconscious protection of his love. He visibly clenches and unclenches his jaw as his fury now runs rampant through his veins.
The Seeker's chest is heaving at the arrogance of the General who is threatening his life and that of the one he loves. She is his life, how dare he?
I glace at the Confessor clothed in black. Her presence is intimidating to say the least, not just because of her beauty but because of the power that flows through her veins. So powerful is she that the air fairly crackles around her. Her bright blue eyes are narrowed in rage at the threat that stands before them. Her daggers are an extension of herself as she stands ready to defend the life of her Seeker as well as her friends.
Kahlan would die without question for Richard, without a second thought if that was what was required for him to be able to live. Richard would do no less for her. So strong is their bond that I do not believe even I, Wizard of the First Order, could ever break it, not that I would ever want to.
Cara flinches ever so slightly beside me, tension lining her face. Perspiration has begun to form on her brow. So ready to take them all on in protection of her 'Lord Rahl', a title my grandson has no desire to claim, she's practically seething in anticipation for the battle I know is about to explode into existence at any moment.
I survey the soldiers surrounding us as the General continues his tirade about world domination. Some of the soldiers before me are barely young men, wearing their fear on their sleeves. They appear to be ready to pass out or run but seem indecisive as to which. A number of the older soldiers wear scars on their faces like badges of honor, sneers twisting and distorting their faces.
The General instructs us to surrender and avoid the battle that is now beyond inevitable. Foolish, foolish man. Little does he know that death is but a few heart beats away. They will not win today. Death is imminent and sure, but likely will not be swift. Some will die instantly with the slashing of the sword or dagger, but most will die long, painful deaths. Deaths at the hands of an agiel. Death evading them until the last moment as their blood slowly seeps from their body, soaking the earth beneath them.
Thunder begins to rumble overhead, slowly and subtly at first as if not to interrupt the General's ranting. The gray sky is beginning to darken with the swelling clouds above us, itching to release their contents.
Richard barks at the General that there will be no surrender today or any day, his rage building and surging as droplets begin to escape their confinement overhead. The rain begins to fall softly at first as if apologizing for the intrusion on this confrontation.
The General is quickly becoming insane with fury at the obvious defiance to his power and position. He shouts to his men to kill all of us, leaving no survivors. As the D'Harans charge towards us, the heavens, as if on cue, appear to split open as rain pounds down on everything in its path. Thunder claps and roars, as if not wanting to be outdone by the hammering rains that assault us.
The Seeker selflessly hurtles himself towards the onslaught that threatens to take the life of his Confessor and his friends. The Sword of Truth rings and clangs as steel meets steel. With each swing and thrust of his sword, the Seeker is righteous judgment unleashed on the souls that are unfortunate enough to meet him.
The Confessor is no less than her Seeker, but his equal as she dispenses the judgment that is well within her right as the Mother Confessor of the Midlands. All who do not bow to her authority are brought to trial by her daggers or by her touch. Both are equally lethal and are deserving of the highest respect.
She twists and ducks, spinning and slicing with ease of movement and grace. She is in a dance. The dance of life and death. They will die and she will live. If she does not, the line of Confessors will be no more and the life of the Seeker will be forever shattered.
The Mord'Sith eagerly enters the battle with equal amounts of grit and ability. She has been well trained to perform her duties, but now she does them with a new sense of purpose and hope. A feeling of loyalty by choice that has never before been experienced. As if newly reborn, Cara now has a life worth fighting for, a Rahl worthy of respect and her protection. She fights with skill as she wields her agiels, inflicting the pain that she too feels with each contact.
I am older, but not so old that I am unable to handle myself. I am a Wizard of the First Order. Air blasts from my finger tips at the slightest thought, cutting through the falling rains. Within a matter of a breath, soldier after soldier is thrown back, smashing against trees or rocks, their broken bodies slumping to the ground. I am far from helpless.
Fire ignites from my outstretched hands, filling the air with the smell of cinder as soldiers are rewarded for their unfortunate misplaced loyalty. Even though powerful, I can feel the strength and energy being sapped from my body with every blast of wizard's fire I release. I curse this age I am now. Were I ten years younger, I would not be so affected so quickly by the use of my powers. But I assist where I can and aid my grandson in his quest.
Exhausted and drained, I survey the fallen soldiers about me. Many lives have been lost today, much blood has been shed…and all because of the pride and greed of one man. Dizzy from the expense of magic from my old bones, I lean over placing my hands on my knees as I try to focus the world around me. The rain has finally subsided now that the battle is over. Smoke from my wizard's fire twists and drifts skyward as the flames are extinguished. The gray covered sky overhead still follows us, though not as threatening as it had just been moments ago.
I feel a hand on my shoulder and look up into the eyes of the Mord'Sith. She appears to actually be concerned for me. I think we are finally getting through her walls to the heart that lays bound up behind it. I reassure her I am fine and that I only need a minute to rest.
I look over to see that the Seeker is making his way over to check on his Confessor. She appears to be hurt, a deep cut on her thigh above her boot. There is blood running down her leg. Worry weighs heavily on my grandson's face as he tries to look at her wound. Independent and strong, she attempts to brush the wound off as minor, but I can see it is not. Her face is pale, her wet hair clinging to her shoulders.
Richard pulls her into an embrace, concern etched in his eyes. Looking over her shoulder, he gives me a small nod of assurance. I smile back, relieved myself that another clash with death as been avoided with only one injury that is not life-threatening even though my grandson would believe otherwise. Any danger or injury to Kahlan, however minor, is life-threatening to him for she is his life. Any threat to her is a threat to him.
That night after dinner, I excuse myself to rest, still exhausted from the battle only a couple of hours earlier. I wander a ways from camp but not so far that I am unable to keep an eye on things. Settling down now, the air is starting to cool a little, a breeze floating through the leaves of the trees overhead. It will be a pleasant night's sleep, the rains freeing us from the humidity that had enveloped us the last few days.
Leaning my back against the rough bark of a tree, I watch as Cara begins unpacking her bedroll for the night. I was quite uncertain of her intentions and full of misgivings when she first joined our quest, but she has proven quite trusting and valuable I must admit. I no longer sleep with one of Kahlan's daggers under my blanket and have not for some weeks now.
Looking across to the other side of the camp, I watch as Richard kneels in front of Kahlan. I smile to myself, knowing this will be one argument that he will win as he talks to her, placing a hand to the side of her face in loving reassurance. Still too drained from the fight, I am unable to heal her. Richard reassures me he will take care of her and I have not one doubt in my mind that he will. Not only tonight, but every day and night after…for all eternity.
He leans in and kisses her before turning his concerns to her wounded leg. Kahlan's face tenses in pain as he gently and tenderly begins to wash away the blood and mud; her love-filled eyes never leave his face as he works, wrapping a bandage around her leg.
It's no wonder my grandson fell hopelessly in love with her. She's such an intoxicating creature. I had tried to warn him but to no avail. It was already too late; even at that point he was already taken with her. I secretly hope for their love to prevail.
They think they can't be together, but I know they can. It saddens me to see the longing, the unfulfilled passion, the desire for each other, the pain of not being able to experience their love, but it is something they need to work through themselves. They need to discover the secret key to unlocking the magic that separates them. It is not even something a Wizard of the First Order can help them with. I have no doubt, though; they will figure it all out very soon. In fact, I believe that Richard has already discovered the key to loving Kahlan. Now it is only a matter of time…
Next up: Cara