It is said that one cannot fathom the deep bond created between mother and child at the moment when the newborn babe, so fragile, is placed in the waiting mother’s arms.
However, one needn’t be a mother to understand the pride that swells when you recognise that the person you blindly love is an extraordinary individual in their own right. Perhaps they are kind or clever. Maybe they are strong or talented.
You have always known that you love them. Now you like them as well. You would want them in your life even if you didn’t share this deep bond.
This is how Kahlan’s mother felt as she watched her eldest daughter coach and calm her younger sister with never-ending patience. She knew in that moment that her daughter was gifted and would do great things to help the Midlands.
What else did she know in that moment? Did she know the path that was laid out for Kahlan at this time? Could she have predicted the destiny that was fated for her daughter?
Almost definitely, she would have done something had she known, for if mothers have one weakness, it is their urge to blindly protect their children.
While their mother was alive, the two sisters that looked so different in appearance yet held such similar views and they were ruthlessly spoiled.
Every wish was indulged and when Dennee wanted to spend less time in the classroom and more time riding her new horse, she never heard a complaint. At night, they would return to one another to sleep in the same bed, their heads under the covers like conspirators. Their giggles lasted into the night.
Dennee’s passion was horses. She loved them fiercely in a way she could never commit to her Confessor duties. All she wanted out of life was to ride away on her chestnut mare's strong back, until her legs could no longer support her. She wanted to ride with her head thrown back and the wind whipping her hair around her face and neck.
She had lived that life for three years with her assassin-turned-mate and their beloved horses on the outskirts of a small village when Kahlan arrived with news of their mission.
Her heart dropped at the words, but she knew immediately that she had to give up her current life. She felt obligated to follow after ignoring her responsibilities. She made no remark though, made no comment that could be construed as anything less than enthusiasm-related anxiety.
They were to find the Seeker. Free the Midlands. No Confessor in their right mind would rather stay home and play with their horses.
(Have you ever had a sister? You cannot deny them this smallest of favours, this simplest of tasks. You do not know it will lead to death and pain. You respect her too much, you love her too hard. You walk out the door.
You never get to go back.)
The act of Confession is one of pure connection. Two hearts, two minds and two souls connect until the weaker wields to the stronger. She can feel the moment of submission, has become used to it as a part of her life.
Richard has never submitted to her before.
She does not understand the mechanics of their love. It lasts, which is all she cares about. She has never been able to control his mind after he’s made a decision and she knows that she never wants to.
She is grateful that he exists and that she can experience love with a willing soul, even if she doesn’t comprehend it. She is so used to the tug and pull of the connection that his easy devotion to her is unsettling. For years she doubted him, unaware of the depth of his loyalty. She had never witnessed a magic that rivalled the commitment of Confession until Richard vowed to love her forever.
She doesn’t doubt him anymore.
He spent twenty years of waiting and watching. Twenty years spent fervently hoping that he’d never have to do more.
She burst into his life filled with holy judgement and righteous fury. She’d been the first person to challenge him in decades and he found himself woefully unprepared after carving out a living going unnoticed.
She reminds him of the magic that he had to force out of his veins and it burns when he calls it back. She is stubborn, defiant and always finds a way to throw his past teachings back in his face at the most inopportune time.
So of course, he can’t help but love her energy and the hope that she has come to represent.
(This war will be his last and seeing her fight beside him assures him that the next generation is more than capable of carrying on the wisdom he can pass down.)
She could never love him back, but that had never stopped men from loving her before.
Her soul lies protected within the citadel of her mind, her body is the only thing that crumbles to his attacks. He can batter against the doors of her soul for months with no change to the serene expression on her face. The feeling that her strength elicits within him is foreign and tastes foul in his mouth. He has never respected anyone other than himself before and the fact that she had brought this begrudging emotion from him needles his skin.
She looks like a goddess from the temples of old and he finds himself staring at her back whenever she faces away from him. She enjoys staring out the windows, like a protective idol that keeps watch over her domain.
He is a destroyer of homes, defeater of armies, and annihilator of families. He has never created anything – until Kahlan came into his life.
He can feel the rhythmic thump thump of their child beneath her skin and the sudden swell of emotion catches him off guard.
He has always watched how she moved, finding her every shift and shuffle graceful but now she’s taken on a new elegance that stems from the growing life within her. He can’t help but be fascinated.
He has never felt as betrayed as when she tried to end the one thing he’s ever created. He wants to destroy something special to her and smiles when he slits a young girl’s throat.
His own blood joins the floor soon after and he will never admit that he was relieved; he was not prepared to live in a world without Kahlan.
He watches her in the Underworld as she waits, always so patiently and wishes that he had been able to get into her mind, to touch her soul.
And One Who Worshipped Her
They are all the same. They are all remarkably unique.
Please don’t think that she can’t tell them apart in her mind – they exist in startling and horrifying clarity. However, they all share one trait that allows them to blend together in the pages of history. They are the Confessed Man.
She always tries to learn their names – their faces haunt her afterward if she doesn’t.
Also, please don’t assume that just because they have died that both parties are released. While one may sleep peacefully, the other must toss and turn with guilt-coloured nightmares that taste of blood. It’s a miracle each morning she wakes to find her hands clean.
So much depends on physical contact. Her world is made up of punches and kicks and the feel of another’s pulse beneath her fingers. She controls two hearts in that moment and could command one to stop if she wished. It is the cruelest irony that her own heart never obeys her.
An exchange takes place every time she unleashes the magic contained within her. When the free will leaves one human vessel, she gains another weight to place around her shoulders. She hitches up her pack, adjusting it to make room for the newest burden she must bear.
When the nights are cold, she lists the names to herself and practices justifying her reasons for when she meets them in the Underworld. As a Confessor, she is capable of soothing a crowd with just her presence yet her voice trembles as she imagines talking to the Confessed Man again.
Please don’t suppose that she is afraid of them. They are not the bogeymen that hide in shadows and under beds. She is concerned for them, ashamed of them and pities them. She is not afraid of much.
When she was young, she could count them on her fingers. When she was older, she began to only count those who still lived. She tried to imagine their lives now, hoped she had left them off better than before. She can never be sure.
They are all the same. They are all remarkably unique.