"Story, story!" screamed the children as soon as their mother came out onto the porch. Rachel watched from her rocking chair as Jill picked up the littlest, baby Lucia, and sat down on the step.
Jill was the mother of three, and they and their friends had all gathered on her porch this afternoon—nearly all the children in the village. Rachel smiled to see their happiness. She didn't even mind the noise of their play.
But when Jill began her tale, long-buried memories stirred in Rachel's heart.
"Once upon a time," Jill said, "there was a girl named Kahlan."
"And she was the Seeker of Truth," said one of the older children, Yvena. She'd heard the story before, and even had a stick thrust through the sash of her gown as a pretend sword.
"Kahlan had a great destiny," Jill went on, bouncing Lucia in her lap. "Prophecy said that only she could defeat the tyrant, Richard Rahl."
Rachel shifted in her chair. Richard had changed a good deal since the day so many years before when he and Kahlan had found Rachel with the third Box of Orden and taken her to find Martha, her adoptive mother, and Ruben, who was really the great First Wizard Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander in disguise. But Rachel wouldn't call him a tyrant even now.
Darken Rahl, on the other hand…
"Kahlan hated Richard because he'd killed his brother, and Darken Rahl the Misunderstood Hero was her one true love," said Jill, "or so she thought." Her voice dropped with the drama of the story.
"Not the kissy stuff," complained her son Benjamin. "Bo-oring."
"And then she fell in love with Princess Cara of Thryce, and they killed Richard Rahl and lived happily ever after!" finished Yvena triumphantly.
"Well now you've ruined the ending," Jill said, softening her rebuke by patting Yvena's shoulder.
Lucia started to cry—hungry, Rachel guessed—and Jill got up to take the baby back inside.
Rachel thought about Richard and Kahlan. Strange how much their story had changed in just a century. She imagined them laughing in the Halls of Eternal Peace.
She hoped they were laughing.
The children started another game, now that Jill wasn't entertaining them. Rachel doubted Benjamin would've dared suggest this game if his mother were still outside.
"The Mord'Sith are coming!" the boy shouted. "They're gonna get you!"
He chased Todd around the yard, screaming like he was being horribly tortured.
"The Mord'Sith only took girls," protested Yvena, hands on her hips. But hers was the only voice for historical accuracy. The other children pelted through the grass chasing one another and yelling.
It had been a long time since the Mord'Sith took anyone. Like the Confessors, they were gone.
There was a still a Rahl in the People's Palace, of course. Some things never changed.
But even though it lifted Rachel's heart to watch the children playing without fear, she still wished for the world of her youth. Filled with powerful wizards and kind Confessors, terrifying Mord'Sith and evil tyrants, that world had made anything seem possible.