Disclaimer: Legend of the Seeker/Sword of Truth belongs to Terry Goodkind, ABC, and all their partners. The characters, settings, and events thereof, are the properties of their respective owners, no copyright infringement is intended. This work is meant to be an interpretation of the original material and was not created for any kind of profit. Any similarity to any other stories, or images is coincidence and unintentional.
This is what happens when questions like, what if Kahlan wasn't Richard's first confessor? and, what if Richard chose to take up the role of Lord Rahl after defeating Darken? and, what would Kahlan be like if she had met Richard far later in the story? come up. In other words, this is a very AU story. Yup, we took the characters and ran with 'em. *grin*
The Names May Change...
~Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God~ Kurt Vonnegut
Meeting the Confessor
“I'm not this... this, what did you call him?” Richard protested. “This Seeker. I'm not the man you're looking for.”
Moria looked to the old wizard as if to confirm Richard's pronouncement.
“Give him the book, girl,” Zedd directed Moria.
For a moment, she continued to look in askance at him, then slowly complied with his command and drew a small leather bound book free of the pouch she had set on the wizard's cluttered table. She handed it to Richard.
“This is the Book of Counted Shadows,” she explained. “And I've come a very long way to give it to the Seeker,” she added.
“Read it, boy,” Zedd ordered gently, but firmly.
“The truth of the words of the Book of Counted Shadows can only be insured by the word of a Confessor,” Richard read slowly, his voice halting. He looked up to Zedd.
“What does this mean?”
“It means my boy, that you are the True Seeker.”
Zedd gave a sadly vindicated look in the direction of the young Confessor. She nodded quietly before addressing Richard.
“You are the one I've been searching for,” she told him. “Only the True Seeker could read those words,” she explained before taking a deep breath. “Richard, you are the Seeker.”
For a moment, she looked at Richard and he felt nearly overwhelmed by her certainty and belief.
“The Seeker,” he murmured half to himself, half to her.
“Zeddicus, he must have the Sword.”
The old wizard nodded and retrieved it from its hiding place. He carried to Moria and set it carefully in her hands. Just as carefully, the Confessor presented it to Richard.
“Take the Sword, Richard, and know that from this day forth, both it and I will serve you.”
Richard gave her a questioning look, but took the Sword from her hands. Then with the hint of a smile he said, “All right... but... you still haven't told me who you are.”
Moria returned his smile with a wry hint of one of her own.
Naming the Seeker
“Then will you accept the name of the Seeker?” The old wizard asked in a solemn tone.
Richard looked past Zedd and meet the Confessor's dark eyes for a moment. Moria returned his gaze with an almost wary kind of hope.
“I will,” Richard replied to Zedd's ritual words just as solemnly.
The wizard set the Sword of Truth in the young man's hands before stepping outside of the circle he had drawn upon the ground.
“Then I, First Wizard Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander, do so name you.”
“And what is it you think you will accomplish here today, Seeker?” Darken asked, his voice a low confident rumble. “Or should I say... brother?” He sneered, drawing his own sword free with a loose and deadly grace. He took a moment, taunting Richard with an arrogant eye before adding, “Our father truly was just a misguided old man suffering under the delusion that through you, he could achieve some sort of redemption.”
Darken settled into a practiced fighting stance.
“I'm certain that by now, the Keeper has shown him how very wrong he was.”
“Perhaps...” Richard replied. “Perhaps he was seeking redemption and through me he has gained some measure of it. I'm sure you can debate that with him when you see him,” Richard replied darkly.
Darken laughed in a voice that brought to mind the unsettling image of spiders crawling over corpses, or green flames consuming everything in their path.
“Do you think the simple prophecies of a doddering old man will defeat me? Or perhaps,” he drawled with an amused sort of smile. “It is the words of a foolish girl that give you the illusion of hope?”
Richard clenched his jaw, and focused on the feeling of the Sword in his hands that seemed to burn with a life of its own.
“Consider this your last warning dear brother,” Darken drawled raising his own sword. “Only one of us shall leave here alive.”
Then suddenly he lunged forward.
“And death is already on my side,” Darken added in a low growl as his blade clashed with Richard's.
For several fierce minutes that transformed themselves into what seemed to be a lifetime of pain, the brothers struggled one against another. Darken pressed Richard hard, his sword threatening to fulfill the promise of his words, and then, in a twist of fate and perhaps prophecy, the Seeker prevailed. Darken took a single misstep, and Richard knocked him to cavern floor.
“Hope is no illusion,” Richard said, plunging the burning Sword of Truth into Darken's chest. He felt it thrum between his sweat soaked hands.
Moria looked around the weary and distrustful faces of the gathered D'Harans. Here and there, she saw faint glimmers of hope as she rallied them, but as with the many villagers she had spoken to before, the Confessor felt as if here too, it would be an uphill battle to gain their trust and support for Richard as the new Lord Rahl.
“I know you have suffered,” she continued, her dark eyes sympathetic. “And all you desire is to see your children, and your children's children into a better world...”
The were small sounds of agreement.
“You long for a D'Hara of peace and prosperity...”
Again, small noises of agreement met her words.
“Richard... The Seeker... The Lord Rahl... can help bring that into being,” the Confessor declared.
The wary people eyed Richard where he stood next to a tall pine.
“So you say,” argued one man, leaning heavily on his cane to spare his withered leg the burden of supporting too much weight. “But you tell us too that he's the heir to the throne. The son of Panis Rahl... how can you ask us to trust him... the son of a corrupt House and brother to the tyrant we've struggled a lifetime to defeat. We just removed one Rahl from the throne and now you want us to place another there?”
“I am the Lord Rahl by blood and by birth,” Richard admitted. “But I am no Darken Rahl. I did not defeat him, only to become him,” he vowed.
“How can we believe you? How do we know you're telling us the truth?” The old villager asked bitterly.
“Because I have seen the truth of his words,” Moria declared as the villagers looked at her, eying the white Confessor's dress she wore. “Because I believe him... because...”
Suddenly, a dark fletched arrow seemed to simply appear from the white folds of her gown, so quickly had it been fatally shot in her direction.
“Moria!” Richard cried, surging forward to catch her as she fell. “Moria!”
He sank with her to the damp forest floor.
“Moria...” he repeated quietly once more before calling for Zedd. All around him, the villagers scattered, some to weapons and others into the deeper cover of the trees.
“Hang on,” Richard urged her. “Zedd will help. You have to just hang on a little bit longer.”
“Richard...” she gasped. “I'm so very glad we found you... I've been so honored to serve the Seeker...”
“I only wish I could have seen you lead D'Hara out of darkness and into the light as the true Lord Rahl...”
“You will; you will... you have to hold on, Moria...”
The Confessor shook her head sadly.
“No... no Richard, I won't.”
Painfully, she took a small ring from her hand and pressed it into Richard's. He could feel the seal of the Confessors almost like a brand on his skin.
“Take this to Aydindril; present it to the Mother Confessor. She will know it for what it is. You must gain the Mother Confessor's recognition, Richard. With it, you can truly become a force for good in the Midlands with the whole of D'Hara supporting you. And they will, if Kahlan recognizes you as the legtimate Lord Rahl...”
Zedd finally made it to them both and sank down next to them. He brushed a hand quickly above the Confessor's wound.
“It's too late, Richard... I'm sorry...”
“Who was it Zedd? Who would do this?” The Seeker demanded.
Zedd studied the dark fletching and marks on the arrow.
“General Namen; he's Dragon Corps,” Zedd replied grimly. “It seems as if he doesn't want you as the new Lord Rahl. He's very powerful, and with enough men and support, he could take the throne from you, Richard. And without a Confessor...”
“Moria said that if the Mother Confessor recognized me, the people would support me as the new Lord Rahl.”
“Moria was right. It is a good idea. With Kahlan as an ally, the D'Haran people would acknowledge you as their true Lord and see that you wish to take them out of the darkness of Darken's reign of terror. You could bring the peace this land sorely needs; the peace Moria dreamed of for the people of D'Hara.”
Meeting the Mother Confessor
Kahlan studied the young man before her carefully. The stories of his victories had long ago reached her ears of course, and she had built up a picture of the Seeker in her mind. The man before her did not match it at all. She had somehow expected someone taller and certainly broader of shoulder. By every right, as the stories would have it, Richard Rahl, the Seeker and would-be Lord of D'Hara, should have been a giant of man.
The young man before her was no giant. Though, if Kahlan chose to be honest, he was far from displeasing to look upon. And before she could quite help it, she found herself wondering what his hair would feel like between her fingertips, or how the stubble of his chin might scratch if he...
Kahlan gave herself a mental shake and tilted her chin up proudly before giving the Seeker a level stare.
“What you propose...” she said slowly.
“What I propose is an alliance,” Richard said. “An alliance that could bring peace, healing, and true justice to not just D'Hara, but all the Midlands.”
“You truly believe that you can do all that?”
“Together we could,” Richard replied. “Together I suspect, there isn't much we couldn't accomplish...”
Kahlan raised a single eyebrow thoughtfully.
“Perhaps... perhaps you are correct in this... Lord Rahl...” Kahlan countered slowly, rising gracefully from her chair and walking over to Richard. She stood well within his personal space, meeting his steady eye and finding herself unexpectedly pleased that he didn't step back or avert his gaze as any other man would have done.
Keep Me in Mind
Richard stepped carefully into the room, watching the beautiful young woman behind the table closely. Kahlan did not look up.
“The Accords of Friendship have been drawn up in accordance with the Code of Aydindril,” the Mother Confessor informed him as she finished applying her seal to the parchment with a graceful hand. “You need only sign them, and you may consider us allies from this day forth.”
Finally, she brought her impossibly blue gaze up to meet his eyes.
“Of course, if you do sign the Accords, that means D'Hara will become a member of the Council of Nations, subject to the rule of law set forth in the Code.”
Richard nodded once in acknowledgment of her words.
“And of course, as Mother Confessor, I am the embodiment of that Code; its voice.”
Again Richard nodded in understanding.
“And you, my Lord Rahl,” Kahlan added slowly. “You must always be sure to keep that in mind... to keep me in mind. Do you think you can do that?”
Richard met Kahlan's calmly challenging look with a pleasant one of his own, his eyes sparking.
“What do you think, Mother Confessor?” He countered as he took the paper from her hand, signing it carefully before handing it back to her.
Becoming Lord Rahl
The dreadful music of battle pounded in Richard's ears and through his body as it echoed violently across the valley turned red with blood and death. He had never wanted it to come to this. For a moment, he looked to the Mother Confessor where she added her own graceful steps to the macabre dance.
“Never,” he thought with an anguish born of more than just the pain of the body.
“To me!” He called then above the din, ordering his combined forces to formation for a bone jarring charge at General Namen's battle mad Dragon Corps. “To me!”
They raged into the battle and Richard felt his sword like a thing alive in his hands. And even as he was knocked from his horse, he met the ground on his feet and arched the Sword of Truth like a bright flame, bringing death in its wake.
Even over the drumming noise of battle, he heard Kahlan's voice. He whirled in just a single breath's moment before one of her daggers flashed past his shoulder. With consummate skill, the Mother Confessor found her mark and the solider near the Seeker fell, his blade falling from its killing blow to land harmlessly at his feet.
Richard took just one more breathless moment to watch Kahlan use her other blade to dispatch two soldiers that were harrying her. Then suddenly, he was face to face with General Namen.
“Pretender,” Namen hissed, his eyes nearly red with battle fury and the reflection of the death and blood that surrounded them both. “Today, you die!” The General swore, lunging for Richard in a rage.
“Darken Rahl is dead and there is no room left for his shadows here in D'Hara, or anywhere in the Midlands. I am the Lord Rahl, and this will be a new age of truth and light!” The Seeker countered as he met the larger man's attack with a rage that matched the General's, though it was for a far nobler cause.
“I will never call you, Lord,” the General vowed in a sharp hiss, his sword swinging for Richard in sharp punctuation of his words.
“So be it,” Richard pronounced, letting a calm sense of purpose fill him, and through him, the Sword of Truth. It carried his blade forward and brought a dark veracity to the General's words. The stunned man fell, his eyes shadowing over with the sight of his own death.
Richard felt gripped by a sudden terrible sadness and the weight of so much violence pulled on him; threatened to overwhelm him. The Sword of Truth felt heavier than any tree or stone in his grip and it dragged his hand down with a terrible gravity until the tip of it dug into the blood-soaked earth at his feet.
“Drop your swords!” He commanded, forcing his voice to lift all the weight of his soul and carry over the battle. “This is over! By command of your Lord. By the command of the Lord Rahl of D'Hara,” he shouted, letting his words echo against the narrow walls of the valley chasm. “This ends now! Drop your swords!”
He looked for Kahlan. Saw her, disheveled by battle, but still beautiful for everything that she was, even in that moment. She bowed her head in return as she saw his glance. Those around her, enemy and ally alike took their cue from her and fell to their knees before the victorious Seeker. Others, seeing the General defeated, also dropped to their knees, accepting the defeat as their own...
As loud as the battle had been, the calm that followed it was just as silent. Captain Rouse stood stiffly before the Seeker, his wizard, and the Mother Confessor.
“My commander is dead, and his troops have lost the taste for battle,” he pronounced. “We await the doom that we have so justly earned. What is your will, Lord Rahl.”
Richard considered the man before him and felt the weight of the sword pull at his side. Behind him, he felt the silent support of both Zedd and Kahlan. He drew what comfort he could from it before taking a deep breath.
“Only this, Captain,” Richard said quietly. “Let this be a new beginning in the end.”
Rouse looked at him with some confusion.
“We have all of us, seen too much death and pain. Darken began it, now, let's end it. Together Captain, we can rebuild D'Hara. Together we can heal our people.”
“I support the Lord Rahl in this, and with me, the Council,” Kahlan added, and if Richard's actions or mercy surprised her at all, there was no trace of the emotion in her voice. There was only a calm steadiness, and the Seeker drew further strength from it.
“What say you, Captain of the People's Guard?”
Rouse drew his sword and knelt with it before Richard.
“I serve the Lord Rahl in all things, even in this, even unto death.”
“There will be no more death,” Richard corrected quietly but firmly. “Only life.”
“As you will, my Lord.”
We Make Our Own Destiny
Nicci gave a small, wordless signal to her gathered Sisters and they rushed forward like the deadly poisoned red petals of some night blooming flower blown upon the breeze. And with them came the scents of death, and pain, and despair. Like thorns, their dakras scratched and tore at fragile skin. In all things, they were a mockery of life, and with single minded purpose, they sought their enemies death, heedless of their own.
Only when each one had fallen like petals to the sand, did Nicci come forward, her body screaming defiance more loudly than any words she could have spoken. But still, as if compelled, she called out, her voice carrying across the hot desert winds, “Do you believe in prophecy, Richard?”
“I believe we make our own prophecies, our own fate,” Richard replied, pitching his voice to reach out to Death's dark Mistress. “You don't have to do this Nicci. You don't have to serve death. You could...”
“I could what, Seeker?” The sorceress interrupted. “Serve life... the Creator... you?”
“Live your own life, Nicci,” Richard countered. “Your life is your own, what you do with it is what matters. What you chose to do with your life doesn't come from any prophecy. There is no fate, but that which you make of your life.”
Richard stepped a little closer.
“Be free, Nicci. Make your own choice.”
“And if I choose this, Seeker? If I choose to be a harbinger of Death?”
“Then that is your choice, and you must live or die with it,” Richard replied simply.
“Then I chose my life and your death,” the sorceress said, holding out her hand suddenly and sending a deadly bolt of power racing toward Kahlan.
Richard stepped between death and the Mother Confessor.
He felt the power slam into his sword as he raised it in defense.
The Seeker felt Kahlan rush forward toward him.
“Stay back, Kahlan!” He called out between clenched teeth. “Cara, keep her back,” Richard commanded the Mord'Sith, knowing without a doubt that she would chose to obey and protect Kahlan even with her own life.
Nicci smiled triumphantly as her death spell pushed at Richard, trying to make its way past him and to the Mother Confessor.
“Die...” she hissed, her voice slithering through the air and over the desert sand like a snake. “Die...”
Richard strained against the spell, feeling the Sword of Truth slip in his hands as the the magic keened like all the souls of the dead howling from the depths of the Underworld itself.
“Kahlan...” Richard breathed. “Kahlan... Kahlan... Kahlan...” he chanted to himself like a prayer or a sacred mantra. “Kahlan...”
He felt the sword hum in response and suddenly it began to glow brighter than the brightest star. With a rush, Nicci's spell flew back to her and she was engulfed in flame. An agonized wail rose from her desperate throat, and then she was gone.
Richard sank to the sands and felt Kahlan's arms reach for him immediately.
“Why?” He gasped almost painfully.
Kahlan simply cradled him in response, rocking him gently in her arms.
“We choose our own fate, our own destiny,” she reminded him quietly. “She chose hers, Richard. In the end, she chose it.”
He nodded quietly.
“I know, but Kahlan... I'm so tired of death.”
“Then let's choose life, Richard... let's choose love as our own destiny...” she whispered before kissing him gently.
“With this ring, I bind my mind, body, and soul with yours...”
What's in a Name
“Richard...” Kahlan chided fondly as she opened her eyes to the soft light of morning filtering into their bedroom and transforming it into a bright cocoon of warmth. She smiled at the sight of her husband patiently waiting for her to awaken.
“Good morning, Your Highness...”
“I don't think I'll ever get used to hearing that,” Kahlan admitted with a small smile.
Richard stroked back the loose tendrils of her hair and smiled in return.
“Try Lord Rahl,” he countered.
The Mother Confessor raised a single eyebrow.
“As I recall,” she teased quietly. “The reason we first met was because you wanted to be called Lord Rahl.”
Richard laughed lightly.
“That doesn't mean I've ever gotten used to it.”
“Well then,” Kahlan drawled. “Maybe I can think of something more appropriate...” She met Richard's smiling eyes with her own as she placed a warm hand over the soft beating of his heart. “Like... Dad...”
For a moment, Richard went still then gave his wife a smile brighter than any star. He reached out to cradle her cheek in his hand, his fingertips tangling gently in her hair.
“A baby?” He asked in wonder. “A baby? Are you sure?”
Kahlan nodded happily.
“A baby...” Richard whispered. “We're having a baby... I'm going to be a father..” Richard repeated softly, his voice aching with joy and wonder. “But how?” He began to ask, stopping when he saw Kahlan arch her eyebrow.
Richard smirked “I don’t mean that kind of how. That kind of how I know.”
“Oh, really,” Kahlan teased, giving Richard a suddenly seductive smile. “Care to prove your understanding?”
Richard smiled in return and pulled his wife deeper into his embrace.
“Let me show you,” he replied suggestively.
“Kahlan, don't leave me... please... please don't leave me... You can't die... Kahlan I need you... we need you... Kahlan...”
Richard rocked his daughter in his arms, watching the way the sunlight haloed her tiny body, as if the grace of her departed mother's spirit was cradling her with love even from beyond the veil.
“She has your eyes, Kahlan,” he whispered. “And your nose,” he continued, tracing a soft finger down the small bridge. “But I think the poor girl may have got my ears.”
Sarai fussed a moment, kicking at her loose swaddling.
“Shhh... baby girl, shhh...” her father soothed, trying to awkwardly fix the problem with one hand while he held his daughter in one arm. Finally he gave up and went back to rocking the baby until she stopped kicking. She looked up at him with bright blue eyes.
“Looks like Daddy will have to work on that,” he told her with a small smile. “But we'll figure it out, don't you worry,” he promised Sarai. “I've got you...”
Sarai gurgled then yawned widely, blinking her eyes. Richard smiled at his daughter.
“Time for a bed time story, huh little one?”
Richard's daughter yawned again and rubbed a wobbly free hand against her cheek.
“Don't worry, Sarai, this one I know how to do,” he assured her in a gentle voice that couldn't help but be haunted by a shadowing of tears. Richard swallowed and took a moment to find some sense of peace with them, as much as he ever could. He took a deep breath and focused on the tiny life in his arms.
“Once upon a time,” he began softly. “There was this Seeker that needed the Mother Confessor's help, so he went to Aydindril... little did he realize that he was about to meet the love of his life and the mother of his child...”
The names may change... but story stays the same... our destiny is our own...