Another village, much like the previous four villages they'd stopped at. Another place that wanted to show their joy and reverence at their presence. The Seeker and Mother Confessor and First Wizard were heroes. Even Cara was greeted with respect and gratitude. Quite rightly, Cara thought. They'd saved the world, after all.
Still it could wear on a person. There were speeches and then feasting and dancing, not always in that order, and usually the festivities went on for most of the day and night. At this rate they'd never get back to the People's Palace.
What was different in this village was that Zedd had separated from the group and was conversing earnestly with a young woman. Cara, watching the dancing couples with her usual disdain, watched Zedd out of the corner of her eye. When Zedd and the woman disappeared into one of the cottages, Zedd glancing around to make sure they weren't being followed, Cara shifted uneasily. Of course the wizard could take of himself, but nothing was going to happen to Richard's grandfather on her watch.
Cara stealthily made her way to the cottage. No sounds of a struggle. No sounds of anything more intimate either. Maybe the woman needed some advice or a potion from Zedd. That wasn't uncommon, although there was usually less secrecy involved.
A few moments later Zedd came out of the cottage, a small cloth bundle in his hands. He started when he saw Cara.
"Spirits, Cara, what are you doing lurking there?"
"Making sure you're not getting into mischief." She gave him a small smile and then let her eyes fall on the bundle.
Zedd looked at her, at the bundle, and back again. He met her gaze for a long moment. "It's nothing," he said. "Just a book."
He folded back the cloth enough for her to see the battered brown cover with its black flowery border and a single daisy like flower boldly seeming to grow out of the border and over the otherwise plain leather.
Did he think she'd be so easily appeased because it was a book, rather than a weapon? There was clearly more to this.
"It looks old," Cara said dismissively, hoping her bored tone would make him explain further.
"It is." Zedd stared at the cover for a while, his thoughts clearly elsewhere. Then he shook himself, physically and mentally, and wrapped the book up. "Let me put this away and we'll go and see if there's any of those wonderful pies left."
Cara told herself she was worried about the book and the dangers it might present, but she knew it was mostly curiosity. And curiosity could kill a Mord'Sith. If Darken Rahl had wanted her to know something he'd told her, and if he hadn't, then Cara made no effort to find it out. To do otherwise would be to question the wishes of Lord Rahl.
But the Seeker's eagerness to bring things into the open, the Confessor's ability to read people, and the First Wizard's habit of, well, gossiping…it was rubbing off on her. Each night, when he thought everyone was sleeping or engrossed in guard duty, Zedd would surreptitiously rifle through the pages of the damn book. It was starting to irritate Cara.
Thankfully, a few days later, while Richard was stirring the pot of stew and Kahlan was sharpening her daggers, Zedd took out the book.
"What's that?" Richard asked brightly, proving once again that privacy was a foreign concept to the Seeker.
"A book. A journal."
Cara added one more piece of wood to the fire and then gave Zedd her full attention.
"It recently came back into my possession." Zedd's fingers traced the dark border. "I purchased it for Taralynn's mother, Erilyn."
Now everyone was staring at him.
"I've been reading it," he said. "It's…enlightening. But difficult to read."
"Is the ink faded?" Cara asked.
Zedd shook his head and gave her a sad smile. "It is the content and not the penmanship or ink that is giving me difficulties. I have not always been a good man – a good husband, a good father."
Richard made to protest but Zedd held up one hand for silence. "In my dotage I have tried to be a better man, a grandfather and a friend. This journal shows me my past, however, and one I cannot ignore. I left Erilyn alone to raise our daughter, and I abandoned that child, Tarralyn, because she was a girl without magical gifts. If I could do it all over, I hope I would retain the wisdom I've gained, and would do things differently."
They all knew how deadly it was to tamper with the past. Better to acknowledge it, learn from it, and move on.
"She forgave me in the end," Zedd said at last. "Tarralyn gave her so much joy. Later, when Tarralyn had left home, Erilyn married a widower who already had a son. It's his daughter who gave me this journal. They'd kept it safe, hoping to return it to a member of her bloodline. There are some things in here…personal things. In time, Richard, it will pass to you or to Jennsen. Keep it safe, or destroy it completely."
Richard nodded. "Of course."
Cara understood that books could provide important records, but also that accounts could be biased. This journal was giving Zedd a link back to his past, and he had things to learn from it, but it was a source of both joy and pain.
On balance, she decided never to keep a journal herself.