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Title: Inescapable (Part 4 of They Say That The Happy Is Expensive (But The Ever After's Free))
Fandom: Legend of the Seeker
Rating: Teen
Length: ~5.5K
Characters: Kahlan Amnell, Cara Mason, Richard Cypher, Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander, Jennsen Rahl, Dennee Amnell
Contents: unhappy pregnancy stuff, discussion of infanticide, open ending, timeline shenanigans, powerful magic, Rahl Bond

Summary: Richard and Kahlan are having a son. Shota wants to save the world. Zedd wants to avoid repeating his father's mistakes. Cara gets what she wants.

Kahlan disembarked from the coach, feeling the blood rush to her feet as she took slow, painful steps. Her skirts dragged heavily around her legs as she ponderously moved sore joints, feeling immeasurably fatigued by the hours she’d spent jouncing over the old roads. She had finally reached Aydindril once more. She had made it in time, kept her promise.

Her abdomen swelled hugely with Richard’s son. Her male Confessor, her Rahl child. He kicked her bladder while she tried to sleep and his small hands pressed against her from the inside, yearning for freedom in the world of the living. She was going to unleash him on Aydindril soon.

Richard caught her elbow as she staggered, a half-numbed foot coming down wrong on the stones outside the Confessors’ Tower. Its white spire stretched above her toward the Heavens. “Let’s get you to bed,” he murmured in her ear.

Leaning against him, Kahlan was weary to the point of tears. Hot water leaking from her eyes, she barely saw Richard frown at Cara as the Mord’Sith insisted on checking the Confessors’ own foyer for lurking assassins.

Cara never ranged very far ahead but she did insist on checking behind doors the entire journey from the front door to the Mother Confessor’s spacious personal quarters. She checked the bed and sniffed, muttering something about silk and scents that Kahlan only understood half of and suspected she didn’t want to understand the other half.

Halfway to lying down, Kahlan stiffened and tried to sit up. “The dust, I need to-”

“There are people here to clean that up,” Cara snapped. “Sleep now.”

It was like the lights were snuffed all at once.

***

In another timeline, Kahlan told a blacksmith’s daughter that her husband, Darken Rahl, would kill her as soon as their son was born.

In many others, a few thousand humans huddled in hiding from Banelings sweeping the cities to buy a few more hours in the sun.

In one, Denna sat beside Richard at their campfire, listening to him tell her the constellations.

In another, Darken Rahl drove his sword through the throat of a Baneling trying to kill him.

***

Cara stood outside Kahlan’s door, alert to the oncoming sound of guards headed her direction. Daveth looked apologetic over Dennee’s shoulder but that didn’t soothe Cara’s temper.

The Confessor was splendid in a gleaming Confessor dress, jewelry at her throat and ears. Her long dark hair was up for her Court appearance and there was a tired, pinched look around her eyes. “I want to see my sister.”

“She has had a difficult journey,” Cara said with great patience. “We came a long way very quickly.”

It didn’t take all of a Mord’Sith’s training to read the twist of pain and anger under Dennee’s outrage. Cara found she didn’t even disagree with Dennee’s reaction as the other woman murmured in a lower tone, “She promised she would return to have her children. She promised she would come here and be Mother Confessor. She promised.

“She has kept her promise,” Cara said neutrally. Getting information out of Dennee wasn’t her job right now and neither Richard nor Kahlan would thank her for doing anything to hurt Dennee. Even to make her let Kahlan rest. “The Mother Confessor will see you when she’s feeling better disposed.”

“Keeper take you,” Dennee hissed. “She put me in charge while she was gone. She owed me at least the courtesy of letting me welcome her home!”

“Please take a step back, Confessor,” Cara said, not sneering on the title.

Dennee’s eyes widened and she took more than one step back. “Send word when she wakes.” Her skirts snapped with the force of her exit.

Cara estimated an hour passed before Zedd and Jennsen arrived. The wizard was grim and Richard’s sister looked terrified. Her eyes kept jumping from side to side as if she expected an ambush in the middle of the bright white hallway.

“It’s good to see you, dear one,” Zedd said, pulling Cara into a hug. She didn’t quite relax into it, it was more that she stoically endured the wizard’s affection because he’d had to do without her presence for so long. She might have leaned into the hug a little.

“Hello Mistress Cara,” Jennsen more formally, taking a breath deep enough to make her shoulders jerk.

Cara nodded formally, taking in the way Jennsen’s fingers were knotted together in front of her, knuckles white. “Richard will be glad to see you both.”

Jennsen’s eyes widened hopefully as Cara stepped back from Zedd and away from the door.

“I’m sure he will, “Zedd said firmly. “It’s good to see you.”

“Are you well, wizard?” Cara said dryly. “You’re repeating yourself.”

“I want to hear about your adventures later.” Zedd said, smiling.

It wasn’t a surprise when a few more hours passed and Daveth came by. He’d removed his armor and brushed out his hair. “How long are you back this time?” he asked, brown eyes sparkling.

“A few months or more,” Cara said, redistributing her weight in a trick she’d learned to keep her feet from falling asleep while waiting on Lord Rahl’s pleasure.

“I don’t want to interrupt your guard duty. I just wanted to ask if you want to go out for drinks when you have a night free? You can tell me about your journey. Just drinks. No dancing.”

She thought long enough that she saw the sparkle in his eyes dim slightly. “There’s a place,” Cara said slowly and named her meeting place with Forsythia.

“I’ve heard of it. I wouldn’t have thought it was your kind of- It’s mostly farmers in for the market and stall keepers.” Daveth said.

Cara shrugged carelessly. “They have good ale.”

“Right,” Daveth blinked, then smiled. “I’ll have to try it then.”

“I’ll let you know when,” Cara said, allowing herself to give him a quick smile.

She wrote a quick note to Forsythia before she slept that night.

***

Kahlan woke in the grey hours of morning, still stiff and sore but no longer in a haze of weariness. The palatial suite of the Mother Confessor spread out around her. She recognized the art on the walls as Serena’s choices, the history and significance imparted to young Confessors as part of their training.

The small statue at the corner of her vision was a marble bust of Magda Searus. The tapestry on the opposite wall was of the Confessors’ victory over the male Confessor Labrus, more than two thousand years before her birth. The weavers had never seen Labrus for themselves, they worked from a popular ballad that was itself not original. The Confessors in their pure white gowns stood against the backdrop of a dark, twisted forest where if one looked closely enough, one could see that those were not trees but the tortured bodies of Labrus’s victims.

Whatever piece of Kahlan had inhabited these rooms had not made any changes to the decoration. Kahlan knew the part of her that had done that and her reasoning. Power. That table was made from a rare wood that grew only in one kingdom hundreds of leagues away. That rug had been a gift woven by the ladies of the court of Queen Tyllatha before Panis Rahl had broken her armies and sacked her city. Every piece held a history and a submission to the Confessors and what they represented. The Mother Confessor’s private rooms were a monument to and reminder of the power she wielded.

Kahlan wiped away the tears running down her face and as quietly as she could, she walked over to the tapestry. The marble flooring was cold and hard under the luxurious rug. There was a wild desire to take a knife and slice the tapestry into small pieces. To burn it and slash it.

Her son’s life burned like a flame under her breastbone.

Richard found her with her hand stretched out, not quite touching the gold thread of Mother Confessor Monnais’s hair where she stood against the evil of her nephew after her sister had either died of grief or been killed by Labrus himself. “We can take that down,” Richard said, gently taking Kahlan’s hand.

“The older Confessors said Mother Confessor Serena had it pulled out of storage,” Kahlan said hoarsely. “No one would tell us why, just that it was a warning and a reminder.”

Turning sharply back to the cloth, Richard’s jaw bunched when he noticed the fine details. “Maybe we should burn it.”

“It’s old and expensive,” Kahlan sniffled uncertainly. “We can put it back in storage.”

His hand was warm as he gripped harder. “That is not our son. It won’t be that way.”

Kahlan nodded, hope filling her heart as it always did when Richard was near. “I need to see my sister. I should get dressed.”

Richard pulled her into a quick kiss. “We’re all going to be fine.” He placed his hands gently on her belly.

***

Cara woke after a night on a low lying couch, regretting that she was the only Mord’Sith in Richard’s service.

“You could have written! You could have told me!” Dennee’s voice echoed out of another room of the suite.

Running her fingers through her hair, Cara ran quickly into the sitting area as Kahlan was murmuring, “I wanted to do it in person.”

“Then why didn’t you come ba- Get out!” Dennee snarled at Cara with a lack of emotional control that would have resulted in a brawl if they’d been in a Mord’Sith temple.

Since this was Kahlan’s beloved younger sister, Cara simply put her hand on her Agiel an glared.

“Cara, please sit,” Kahlan said, gesturing to a chair far from Dennee.

The younger Confessor resolutely ignored Cara’s as soon as she was seated. “I dreamed about my Richard last night. I was walking among the Damned looking for my baby. Someone was telling me I’d done the ritual wrong. My son burns in the green flames forever. Then it said that yours will too.”

The blood drained from Kahlan’s face, leaving it nearly as white as her dress.

“So, it’s true. You are having a son.” Dennee drew in on herself like a snake coiling to strike. “Will you be sailing off to your private island to raise him in isolation or will you drown him?”

“Shota will be coming a week after his birth to kill him. I would like your help.” Kahlan said, blue eyes dry and serious.

Dennee closed her eyes, fatigue lining her face. “I hope your Richard knows what he’s doing.” She took a deep breath before looking at Kahlan with an obvious effort of will. “You’ll never be able to leave him alone until he’s old enough to defend himself.”

“I know,” Kahlan said, cracks showing in her calm. Cara put one gloved hand near her and Kahlan grabbed her hand ferociously.

Her eyes sliding between them, Dennee frowned. “This is foolishness and I’ve been killed over it once already. But fine, yes. I will help you, Kahlan.”

“Thank you,” Kahlan said gratefully enough that Cara felt a flicker of warmth for Dennee.

“I’m taking a mate,” Dennee said bluntly. “If he kills you, we’ll need as many Confessors as possible to stop him.” She paused for that to sink in. “With your blessing, Mother Confessor.”

“Granted,” Kahlan said in the calm voice she used at formal Hearings.

“And I’m naming my first daughter Sonia.”

“Granted.” Kahlan’s face froze into a mask.

“Do you intend to formally announce the birth?”

“No.” Anger bled through Kahlan’s tone. “This is a family matter.”

“As you wish,” Dennee said coolly. “Shall I continue to sit in judgment until you are recovered?”

“Please,” Kahlan said, nodding.

“You know where I am, Kahlan,” Dennee said as she stood, skirts swirling around her. “Please keep me informed.”

“That went well,” Kahlan said, slumping in her chair as soon as the door clicked shut behind Dennee.

Cara gave her hand a quick squeeze. “Where’s Richard? He shouldn’t have left without me.”

“He’s bringing Zedd back for dinner tonight. He said to remind you even Mord’Sith need sleep.” A smile broke over Kahlan’s face in one of the abrupt shifts in mood that had characterized the late stage of her pregnancy. “Have you had a chance to talk to that guard, what was his name?”

“Daveth. Yes. We’re going out for drinks when I have a night free.” Cara said dryly.

Kahlan looked pleased so Cara considered that a success. “You should do it tomorrow night. Little George will give us at least that much warning.” At Cara’s dubious look she shrugged happily. “Confessors know. There’s bread and cheese on the table if you’re ready for lunch.”

***

Jennsen did her best not to drag the sack of papers and books on the floor but it was heavy. Her grandfather was carrying two of his own but he was much taller than she was. After spending months with him in the Wizard’s Keep she’d become used to the way he would get focused on things. Lately, he’d begun to worry her.

She held back while Zedd greeted Richard, Kahlan, Cara, and dinner with enthusiasm. Her eyes kept being drawn back to the Agiels Cara wore.

“Let’s have this excellent stew before it gets cold,” Zedd said rapidly, theatrically sniffing the steam. “Is that rabbit?”

Jennsen forced herself to smile and sit patiently even as her stomach twisted into knots. Kahlan was so very pregnant and Cara was so very much a Mord’Sith and her brother was back and her grandfather was trying to hide it but he was as tense as the strings on the magic harp they’d found last month. Richard was back and her grandfather was barely looking at her. She pushed the stew around with her spoon.

“I have something to tell you all,” Zedd said as he pushed away his empty bowl.

“I was wondering when we were going to get around to the books,” Cara said, leaning back in a way that looked relaxed but Jennsen could see that her hands were crossed near her Agiels.

“The younger generation could stand to do a little more reading. I’ll be leaving most of these here for you to go through on your own.” Zedd said. He looked at Jennsen. “I’m sorry for making you carry them over here but I don’t trust them anywhere else outside the Keep. Especially after what I’ve learned.”

“If you’re trying to make sure we appreciate the importance of what you’re saying, it’s working.” Cara said, kicking her chair onto its back legs.

“I’ve been practicing how to tell you for months and I still don’t know where to begin,” Zedd huffed.

“At the beginning?” Cara suggested and Richard gave her a quelling look.

Zedd snorted and made a wry face. “It isn’t much of a beginning but, when I was First Wizard in Panis Rahl’s court, there was a tapestry in my bedchambers. It was of Lord Valor Rahl’s Stand at the Ford. I remember because one of the court ladies explained it to me one night she was trying to recreate one of the techniques used to texture the water. She had very clever hands after all that needlework.” He cleared his throat. “She told me the story of how three hundred years ago, Lord Valor prevented an invasion from Kelton by holding that ford for four days and four nights with a small force while his main army went around the mountains. He died valiantly and was succeeded by his younger brother Diric.”

He pulled out one of the large books and opened to a bookmark roughly a third of the way in. “According to this chronology, Lord Havric Rahl had three children. Valor, his eldest, drowned in the lake by their summer home before his tenth birthday. Havric’s daughter, Portia, ruled as regent for her younger brother and married the Crown Prince of Kelton. There was no invasion. Diric peacefully ascended to the throne on his majority.”

“The Spell of Undoing,” Richard said, frowning. “It has to be.”

They were talking about her ancestors. Her grandfather had changed the lives of those who came before her with a wave of his hand. She looked anxiously up at him.

“Yes,” he said heavily. “It has to be. And do you know what troubles me most?”

“I’m pristinely ungifted,” Jennsen said, coldness settling in her bones. “Magic can’t affect me.”

“Yes,” Zedd nodded. “I never had the opportunity to memorize the entire history of the House of Rahl but-”

“Wait,” Richard interrupted. “What does she have to do with this? You didn’t cast the Spell on her.”

“No, he cast it on me,” Cara said, a coldness in her green eyes. “The House of Rahl is bound to the fate of the Mord’Sith. Jennsen is a Rahl by blood.”

Jennsen had been raised on a farm. She knew inheritance. “You altered our history without changing my bloodline.” She thought of the vast web of alliances and emotional bonds that hundreds of years would have enmeshed countless forebears. “That’s good isn’t it?”

“It’s disturbing,” Zedd hedged. He turned his attention to Cara. “Forgive me, dear one. When I was in the D’Haran court I didn’t know how your Sisterhood operated. When I found out many years later, I thought the House of Rahl kept you around for their own greed.”

Cara shook her head. “We serve the House of Rahl.”

“And through the Rahl Bond, they serve you,” Zedd said, his shoulders slumping. “Eight hundred years ago, no one knew why the Mord’Sith decided to back nine year old Lord Fredric’s claim to the Throne. His uncle was a better choice in nearly every respect. Many suspected it was a power grab by the Mord’Sith or the boy’s Midlander mother bribed them. You can tell who has the Bond, can’t you?”

“The Keeper’s interference in the world clouded the issue,” Cara said as if she were discussing the best way to treat a goat for fleas. “Or maybe the manner of the previous Lord Rahl’s death interfered. I’m no wizard but until then the Bond was different.”

“Has it returned to normal?” Zedd asked.

“Yes,” Cara said, holding his gaze clearly.

“I am not your Lord Rahl,” Richard snapped at her. “We’ve been over this. You’re free.”

“I felt Nicholas powering the Bond in the future.” She said, not looking at Kahlan. “I feel the strength of my Agiels coming from you right now, Richard Amnell.” Cara gave Zedd a sharp look. “That is what we’re discussing, isn’t it? You can’t Undo it.”

Jennsen stood and went to her grandfather as his face crumpled like his heart was breaking.

“I don’t want you to,” Cara said firmly.

Zedd let Jennsen hold on of his bony hands in both of hers as he looked at Kahlan. “When you were young, you were taught about the Royal Houses of the Midlands. What was the longest a dynasty passed either from father to son or from brother to brother without losing their throne or inheritance falling back to a cadet branch?”

Kahlan frowned in thought. “Six or seven hundred years give or take a few decades.”

“The main branch of the House of Rahl has ruled D’Hara for three thousand years.” Zedd said numbly.

“What are you saying?” Richard demanded. “That I’m destined to rule D’Hara? I don’t believe in prophecy!”

“You are the source of the Rahl Bond whether or not you rule.” Cara said casually.

“As my son will be,” Kahlan said through white lips.

Zedd nodded. “I don’t wish to cause you distress. I began looking because as you said, Dennee had a son. For you to have one as well even in a world that never happened was worth looking into.”

“Father to son, brother to brother,” Kahlan repeated.

“There have been women who ruled. I mentioned Lady Portia. Lady Edeline drugged her brother for years and ruled in his stead. Lady Vittoria ruled after her husband was kicked in the head by one of his horses. There are a few others.” Zedd shook his head. “And Shota came to visit me about your son.”

“Do you think-”

“I think she’s wrong,” Zedd said quickly. “I don’t think we’re equipped for the potential consequences of trying to kill him. She and I together might have the power but I don’t know what it might do.

“When I first cast the Spell of Undoing, we were desperate. Creator only knows how many people’s lives I altered, ended, or erased from existence with that spell.” Zedd said passionately.

“But it worked,” Richard said, leaning forward. “We got the Stone of Tears where it needed to go and the world didn’t end.”

“True but what happened was not the result I intended. We were faced with a situation where Cara had been brainwashed. That was all I was attempting to undo. Instead, I rewrote reality. I want to know why. We need to know why.” He sighed heavily, using his free hand to stroke Jennsen’s hair. “And I think I know.”

Cara looked at them impassively. It was Kahlan who spoke. “Which question aren’t we asking? In any Hearing the real trick is to ask the right question.”

“Why didn’t the Mord’Sith take Cara?” Zedd said gently.

“We know why,” Richard argued. “The spell altered reality so Mord’Sith magic had never touched her.”

“But they still took Dahlia.” Cara said, the growing horror in her eyes mirroring the dread Jennsen had seen flowering in Zedd’s. “They were there. They saw what a good candidate I was and passed me by. Then, when reality was rewritten again, they took me. Because it is more in keeping with Mord’Sith policy to take me than to leave me. What change could cause them to leave me to life as a schoolteacher but also leave the children of Panis Rahl intact? And then, wouldn’t it be a smaller change to just alter everything so that Dahlia and I were never near a Mord’Sith recruiter at the right time?”

“You’re saying the Mord’Sith are more powerful than the Spell of Undoing,” Kahlan said blankly.

“I’m saying the Rahl Bond is stronger than the Spell of Undoing and I will not repeat my father’s mistake by attempting to kill one of its heirs.” Zedd gestured for Jennsen to return to her seat. “You can check my research. I don’t know what the Rahl Bond’s intended purpose was or exactly when it was cast. All I know is that one of the Lords Rahl was a genius and an egomaniac.”

***

Cara was disgusted with herself. There were fluttery feelings in her gut. It was completely unbecoming of a Mord’Sith. Still, she smiled at Forsythia as the woman joined her in the booth. “I invited a friend for drinks,” she burst out.

Forsythia paused and stroked Cara’s cheek. “A friend or a friend?”

“A friend,” Cara said, taking Forsythia’s hand.

“I don’t do-” Forsythia stopped when Cara snorted. “If I did that my gran would have told me to go sleep in the stable with the horses since I sounded like one.”

“A friend, meeting me here for a drink and then later, you and me.” Cara said. “If you’re still interested.”

A smile warmed Forsythia’s brown eyes. “You know, you’re calmer than I remember. Do you want to tell me what happened while you were away?” she asked, sitting on Cara’s lap. One of Forsythia’s friends from the market took the spot she’d been sitting in.

Daveth found them as Cara was describing a state dinner where the ambassador from some tiny country had tried to suggest to the Mother Confessor that if he’d been in charge of the Resistance, the war would have ended years ago. The guardsman did a double take and held up his hands in surrender. “This is where you were sneaking off to?”

“Yes,” Cara said with great dignity. “What did you think I was doing?”

“Most of us had our money on bare knuckle boxing or maybe crime fighting in dark alleys.” He looked around the table. “Not swapping stories with the farmers.”

“My father was a farmer,” Cara said neutrally.

“No offense intended,” Daveth said, snagging an empty chair from a nearby table. “I’m surprised is all. Please, introduce me.”

At the end of the night, Daveth pulled Cara aside. “You should tell the Mother Confessor. She’d want to know you’re happy.” He gave her a grin. “It’s good to see you happy.”

“I’ll consider it,” Cara said stiffly.

“Thank you for the fun this evening,” Daveth said and walked away.

***

In one timeline, Kahlan’s water broke in the People’s Palace in D’Hara and a midwife employed by Darken Rahl was called from her bed.

In Aydindril, Kahlan gasped in surprise as the warm water rushed down her legs.

***

Jennsen stood back and let Dennee and Cara direct her around the birthing room. She had been present when Betty had given birth to kids but a birth by a woman who could swear at her and who looked so angry was something else.

“I don’t care how the Mord’Sith do it,” Dennee snapped at Cara. “Here in Aydindril, we lie down like civilized people instead of cattle.”

“We have hours,” Cara said in a voice that let everyone know she expected people to remember that she was holding her temper. “The point of the stool is to let the baby move with as little effort from the mother as possible.”

“You don’t know anything about Confessor births,” Dennee shot back.

“Have you ever attended a birth besides your own?” Cara asked, eyebrows raised.

“Stop it, both of you,” Kahlan growled. “Richard and Zedd will be back soon and if the two of you can’t stop arguing they’ll find your corpses.”

Dennee looked offended while Cara looked proud.

Jennsen pressed her back against the wall as Kahlan sat on the stool. Dennee glared daggers at Cara who made a show of looking completely unconcerned that the Confessor’s fingers were so close to her exposed throat. “I’m sorry,” she squeaked at Zedd as she fled the room.

***

Hours of effort and pushing and sweat and pain finally ended. Kahlan reached blindly and felt the weight of her infant son in her arms. Blearily, she looked down at the red, bruised face of her baby boy. “Hello, George,” she muttered tiredly. “Welcome to Aydindril.”

“He has your eyes,” Richard said, reaching out a finger to touch their son’s soft cheek.

George mewled and cried, his tiny arms windmilling. It would be years before Confession could flow from those fingertips, many more years before those arms had the strength to wield a sword. Kahlan tried to see the harmless infant she knew Richard saw. A small creature entirely dependent on those around him for warmth, food, and attention.

His blue eyes made her think of Darken Rahl.

She froze, the room suddenly sharp lines and jagged nerve endings.

“You need to see if you can get him to latch on,” Dennee prompted her and the world began moving again.

“Of course,” Kahlan murmured. The air was cool over her breast as she felt George’s mouth searching for suction. He was so helpless. It would be so easy to dash his brains out on the floor. She might even be able to make it look like an accident. She looked up into Richard’s fond brown eyes and forced herself to smile.

Richard ran his hand over her sweat soaked hair. “Both of you are so beautiful.”

”He needs his mother,” Darken Rahl told her in a different life.

***

Cara watched Kahlan carefully. There was a dreamy quality to her eyes that plucked at Cara’s nerves. “Are you alright?”

“Fine,” Kahlan said, staring blankly at her three day old son in his crib.

“I was thinking of going into town to meet with a friend,” Cara said into the brittle silence.

“Why don’t you have him meet you here?” Kahlan said, brightening. “We could have dinner together.”

“Her,” Cara corrected without putting any weight on the word. “She might be a little overwhelmed by-” Cara waved a hand at the expanse of white marble and fine tapestries.

A frown puckered the skin between Kahlan’s eyebrows. “Where did you meet her?” she tried for a nonchalant tone and fell so far short Cara wasn’t sure she noticed.

“In town,” Cara said, not trying to be evasive. “I decided to try the local ale. She’s-” she wanted to explain to Kahlan how the world felt a little cleaner after she’d spent the night with Forsythia. Listening to Forsythia’s friends, she found a space where no one wanted her to be anything, no one wanted to save her or use her or lean on her. There was no way to say that without making an accusation. So the words trailed away and tears filled Kahlan’s eyes. “Kahlan?” Cara asked, panic rising for reasons she couldn’t say any more than she could ask why Kahlan thought she and Dennee might be able to cooperate one day.

“I’m sorry,” Kahlan sobbed. “I’m sorry we couldn’t find your son. I know this must be so hard to see me with George and-” she choked out an ugly sound and covered her face with her hands.

Cara crossed the room swiftly and took Kahlan’s shoulders. “Listen to me, Mother Confessor. I do not resent that your son is the Rahl heir. I do not resent that you are a mother. Richard chose you and you-”

Kahlan cried harder while Cara stared at her in dismay. “I just want you to be as happy as I am,” she sniffled.

Blinking hard, Cara pulled Kahlan into a hug and said nothing.

Richard found them like that, Cara awkwardly patting Kahlan on the back and hoping the tears stopped soon. She felt Kahlan stiffen as she realized he was there. “I was the same way for three weeks after,” Cara admitted gruffly.

Relief chased the frown from his face. “There are some Mord’Sith here.”

Tears forgotten, Kahlan and Cara both grabbed their weapons.

He held up his hands. “They say they want to swear to me as their Lord Rahl.”

With a scowl of her own, Cara followed Richard down to where a half dozen young Mord’Sith were wearing restraints. “Name and temple,” she demanded.

“Mistress Mina, formerly of Kadilyn.” A tiny woman with thick dark hair and narrow brown eyes said in a surprisingly powerful voice. She was covered in road dirt and the yellow undertones of her skin stood out in the dim light. “This is my cadre. We wish to serve the Lord Rahl.”

“Why now?” Kahlan asked harshly. The same lighting casting flickering shadows in the hollows of her cheeks and throat.

“We came as soon as we had a direction.” Mina kept her head up, looking between them. “I apologize for our tardiness.”

“I am not Lord Rahl.” Richard growled. “I will not take the throne of D’Hara and I do not want the Mord’Sith to serve me.”

“She does,” Mina’s eyes bored intensely into Cara’s.

“Cara is my friend.”

“Then let us be your friends.”

“Put them under my command,” Cara said, smiling nastily. “I can keep them in line.”

Pride warred with fear in Mina’s eyes. “We only wish to serve.”

“I don’t want their service,” Richard told Cara.

“So you’ll do what with them? Turn them loose on the Midlands? Lock them up? Have Kahlan execute them?” Cara snorted. “You don’t believe they deserve to die for being Mord’Sith and you need more security.”

Stubbornness twisted his mouth for a moment before he looked at Kahlan and his eyes softened.

“Seeker, where can they go? To rule a piece of D’Hara in your name? To be prey to the Midlands?” She knew he looked down and saw six broken little girls. That wasn’t true but she could use it. “Let me give them purpose.”

His eyes haunted, Richard assented.

***

Jennsen held her week old nephew to her chest and bounced him, looking up at the rising moon. The baby fussed quietly, not sure if he disliked the cold enough to make it worth bawling about.

Shota arrived on the balcony and was greeted with seven raised Agiels. “You may fight me off tonight but sooner or later, I will save the world from that child.” Her chin was lifted and her eyes were resolute. Jennsen could see why her grandfather liked the witch.

“I want you to listen,” Zedd said, pulling out a stack of books. “I told you I left because we could move mountains together. We may have to. It has to do with the House of Rahl and the vision you told my father about forty-one years ago.”

“I’m listening,” Shota said regally.

The moon turned red as Jennsen watched, listening to her grandfather explain the kind of powerful magic that would never touch her. “Who’s a good baby?” she murmured softly.

Date: 2015-05-30 09:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hrhrionastar.livejournal.com
Okay, first I just want to say that I really miss LotS and this series brings me back into it every time you post. I think this is the best post-Tears what-happens-next-for-the-rest-of-their-lives series I've ever read. I can tell how much thought and effort you've put into getting every character right, and I think it's working :D


“Please take a step back, Confessor,” Cara said, not sneering on the title.

Dennee’s eyes widened and she took more than one step back


I love how Cara not sneering freaks Dennee out - 'Respect? From a Mord'Sith? What alternate reality is this?!?'


Kahlan wiped away the tears running down her face and as quietly as she could, she walked over to the tapestry. The marble flooring was cold and hard under the luxurious rug. There was a wild desire to take a knife and slice the tapestry into small pieces. To burn it and slash it.

Her son’s life burned like a flame under her breastbone.


The whole thing with the tapestry is great. I like the imagery of the fire inside Kahlan, both her own rage and then her son's life. And the tapestry itself is a great creation, too - not original, not accurate except maybe metaphorically, since I doubt there was really a forest of agonized victims, but an excellent job of showing the conflict of the Mother Confessor versus the evil male Confessor visually.


“I dreamed about my Richard last night. I was walking among the Damned looking for my baby. Someone was telling me I’d done the ritual wrong. My son burns in the green flames forever. Then it said that yours will too.”


Interesting. On its own it seems like it could just be a nightmare, but then Dennee figures out Kahlan's having a son - intuition, or magic somehow?

Dennee closed her eyes, fatigue lining her face. “I hope your Richard knows what he’s doing.” She took a deep breath before looking at Kahlan with an obvious effort of will. “You’ll never be able to leave him alone until he’s old enough to defend himself.”

Another interesting point. It's going to be really hard to raise this kid, because of the threats of assassination, and then once he is old enough to defend himself, is Kahlan going to leave him alone to do so (presumably by Confessing or killing whatever hostile assailants find him)? Or is he going to escape her vigilant care as a toddler, and get into trouble?


“I felt Nicholas powering the Bond in the future.” She said, not looking at Kahlan. “I feel the strength of my Agiels coming from you right now, Richard Amnell.”

This is interesting, too. I like the idea that it's one specific Rahl, but that while the Veil was torn it remained unclear. Although, of course, when Richard is briefly dead and Cara's agiels don't work, this theory still implies anyone else who could hold the Bond is dead.

What was the longest a dynasty passed either from father to son or from brother to brother without losing their throne or inheritance falling back to a cadet branch?”

Kahlan frowned in thought. “Six or seven hundred years give or take a few decades.”

“The main branch of the House of Rahl has ruled D’Hara for three thousand years.” Zedd said numbly.


That's right! Strictly through the male line for 3000 years! That's magic, definitely.

Date: 2015-05-30 09:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hrhrionastar.livejournal.com
Okay, part 2, comment too long!


“I think she’s wrong,” Zedd said quickly. “I don’t think we’re equipped for the potential consequences of trying to kill him. She and I together might have the power but I don’t know what it might do.


Wow. This is a really great explanation for why Zedd and then maybe Shota could be against killing Kahlan's son! Also, it's interesting because Zedd sounds like he's worried about what the baby might do - or else what the baby's death might do to the timeline. Or, of course, it could be like Darken Rahl - maybe killing the baby leads him to be more evil through exposure to the Keeper, maybe he's kidnapped and raised by someone else in the mayhem surrounding events...


“Stop it, both of you,” Kahlan growled. “Richard and Zedd will be back soon and if the two of you can’t stop arguing they’ll find your corpses.”


Heh. I like how this made Cara proud ;)

“Seeker, where can they go? To rule a piece of D’Hara in your name? To be prey to the Midlands?” She knew he looked down and saw six broken little girls. That wasn’t true but she could use it. “Let me give them purpose.”

Excellent manipulation, Cara! This sort of thing can't go all one way. Also, it's a good way to gradually ease Richard into his destiny of ruling D'Hara.

Great fic. Thanks for sharing :)

Date: 2015-05-31 12:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vorquellyn.livejournal.com
Wow. This is a really great explanation for why Zedd and then maybe Shota could be against killing Kahlan's son!

Thank you! I spent a lot of time on this idea. After 2x17, Zedd is trying to be more cautious about messing with the Rahl family's continuing existence. Because who knows what could go wrong next?

Excellent manipulation, Cara!

In the books this went something like:

Richard: I don't want any Mord'Sith serving me!

Mord'Sith: But we want to!

Richard: But I set you all free!

Mord'Sith: And with our freedom we choose to serve you!

Richard: You should try to find new lives for yourselves.

Mord'Sith: If you don't let us serve you then you didn't truly give us freedom!

Richard: I must agree with you or be morally inconsistent.

Which was an interesting idea to 15 year old me but it's somewhat lacking in realistic emotional responses. I'm not going to say Richard is morally justified in using Mord'Sith while also trying to show them doing this for their own reasons.

Great fic. Thanks for sharing :)

Thanks so much. I'm so happy you enjoyed it. :)

Date: 2015-05-31 12:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vorquellyn.livejournal.com
Thank you! I love this universe and I'm working on the Jennsen and George fic for your bday. I needed to get this one out first so I knew exactly why they let George live. I had a few different ideas. This one goes best with the ongoing theme of blood, sacrifice, and magic.

And the tapestry itself is a great creation, too - not original, not accurate except maybe metaphorically,

I was thinking about art history and which stories they'd consider the most important. I think there's probably some religious significance to the Mother Confessor/male Confessor conflict. I'm going with the idea that when talking about history, sometimes the Mother Confessor is used as a kind of stand-in for the Creator and the male Confessor is a stand-in for the Keeper. Or at least there was an era of history where that comparison was in fashion. And so it seemed natural Serena would surround herself with propaganda from that POV. The actual people involved in the war barely matter anymore. I think you used this idea and I liked it.

intuition, or magic somehow?

I know it's been over a year but the hallucinations Darken was having in the first one? This is how it starts.

It's going to be really hard to raise this kid

Next one in the series. :)

I like the idea that it's one specific Rahl, but that while the Veil was torn it remained unclear.

This is a piece of book'verse canon I liked. The Mord'Sith literally tracked him down using the Bond.

this theory still implies anyone else who could hold the Bond is dead.

I'm going book'verse on this too but with a twist. The holder of the Rahl Bond needs to be a wizard because the Lord Rahl is a living human sacrifice to the Bond's power. He can tap into the Bond for power under certain conditions. The power of the Bond comes from everyone who puts energy and belief into the "Master Rahl guide us" prayer. That's why Darken was so insistent on spreading it everywhere he went. The portion of the spell that funnels and channels all that energy is powered by Lord Rahl's Han. He needs to have a larger than average Han for the Bond to fall on him. Like in the books, the purpose of the spell was to make sure the Seeker was born and had the tools to do his duty. So it's drawn to Richard above all other Rahls. And once the Bond bypasses someone, it's permanent. That's why Panis didn't get it back. Once Richard had it, Darken's line couldn't get it back.

Date: 2015-06-03 04:21 pm (UTC)
meridian_rose: pen on letter background  with text  saying 'writer' (dear diary)
From: [personal profile] meridian_rose
A difficult read for me; so much emphasis on Kahlan's fetus (which I'm actually rather impressed about given your own background), Cara interfering with the sibling bond when five minutes of a reunion wouldn't kill Kahlan, Dennee rightfully annoyed if Kahlan's broken a promise, Richard's obsession that because he's the hero his precious offspring will the exception to every single other male confessor and Kahlan agreeing with him, etc.

On the other hand you always write well enough for me to keep reading, and the story unfolds well. Shota, hell to the yes. Also Jennsen came across well. Zedd's line about the lady with "clever hands" made me smile. Cara's “You don’t believe they deserve to die for being Mord’Sith and you need more security" line when Richard got on his "not lord Rahl" kick was fantastic.

Daveth understanding that Cara wants friendship from him but maybe romance with Forsythia and being supportive made me love him; I'm also glad that Cara's going with her own instincts rather than the option Kahlan thinks is best not least because at this point I don't really trust Kahlan's judgement. Especially after she started sobbing about Cara's missing son when she realised Cara was dating a woman; I don't know if it was intentional but I read it as Kahlan thinking that lesbians (eta: I didn't mean to commit bisexual erasure here and I apologise; I should have said f/f relationships; Forsythia might be a lesbian but Cara is definitely bi) are missing out and Cara won't have another child if she's with a woman and that's all that's important in life, het sex for breeding. I know Kahlan's emotional at that point, but it's another form of in vino veritas; I think her real feelings are showing here.

I'm still a little confused about the Spell of Undoing and its effect on the Rahl bloodline, though a second reading made it a bit clearer to me, I'm still not sure why killing a Rahl heir is so bad. Richard would still be alive to father more children, so the Rahl magic wouldn't be lost, and there times women ruled as well probably second sons took the throne, so why must the first male heir survive? I think I'm misunderstanding something. But it gives a reason for Zedd and Shota to work together rather than fighting over if the male Confessor lives. I'm sure things will become more obvious in the next part, and it looks like Jennsen will have an important part to play which is a good thing :)

Sorry it took me so long to get to this, I'm behind on everything for various reasons but I'm trying to catch up.
Edited Date: 2015-06-03 07:41 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-06-28 12:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vorquellyn.livejournal.com
Thank you for reading. I wouldn't have blamed you for skipping this one. On my end, I find stories about people giving in to societal pressure to have kids and it being the wrong decision cathartic. I worry that it might come across as bitterness when it's more that I want to tell the story of one of my fears.

I'm really happy you liked the way I wrote Zedd. I always feel uncertain in his voice.

That's another point I feel self-conscious about. This is the impression I get from Kahlan. I can't articulate precisely why I get this vibe but something in her reaction to Cara/Leo, Dahlia, the news about Cara's son, and Annabelle/Flynn makes me think that yeah, she thinks couples who can't/don't have kids have less desirable relationships. I think if anyone ever actually said, "You think women who don't have kids are incomplete," she'd deny it because she'd recognize it as BS. It's less conscious than that and I'm glad it came across.

Verita is the Pristinely Ungifted daughter and the next Lord Rahl is her son. Partly Zedd is feeling much more cautious about throwing magic around after sealing the Keeper away because who knows what sort of tampering would release him again. Some of that is that now they've changed the timeline 2 or 3 times, killing George now might mean interference later. Somewhat Zedd's thinking of Richard. If they kill George, will the next child also be a male Confessor baby? What would that do to Richard and Kahlan? Out of universe, killing George would mean that Richard would have no further children and so the timeline would eventually correct to one where George lived at least long enough for another child to be born. I'm toying with whether or not to have this be a corrected timeline.

I'm just happy you read it. :)

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