It was night and the moon shining down upon them as they whispered beside the fire. She had been shivering from the cold and awoke when he tried to cover her with his blanket. Their breath fogged in the air, warmth touching the cold as proof of the cool season arrival. He laid close to her, his body helping to provide an amount of warmth she could get nowhere else. The breeze was felt by him at once, bringing him to roll onto his side to keep it from hitting her fully.
Looking down at her, he brought his left hand to lay on her stomach. "What are you thinking about?"
"How long we have to wait for Zedd to stop snoring."
Chuckling lightly, the Seeker looked over to his grandfather and sighed. "I don't think he ever stops, we just become too tired to hear it."
"Maybe." Moving her hand over his arm, she turned slightly and snuggled closer. "It's not as loud down here, don't move."
He remained silent as he tightened his hold on her, knowing that if he was careful, she wouldn't suddenly pull away and realize just how close they were. When he was sure she had fallen asleep, he buried his face in her hair and whispered, "I wouldn't dare."
They were surrounded by their enemy within a matter of seconds, none given the chance to think before returning the attack. Her magic was released quickly, a first response as she was captured from behind. Richard's head jerked toward the rumble, just in time to see her stagger her steps and duck to avoid being hit by an arrow he never saw coming. She moved with a grace as she took down the large man who tried to sneak up on her left, a grace that he had come to know was hers alone.
Bringing his attention to the men circling him, the Seeker focused his attention on the battle and threw himself forward. Minutes passed before he found himself able to take a breath and look around them. Zedd was breathing heavily and looking around them frantically, while Cara kicked her boot against one of the many bodies that covered the ground.
"I don't know," the wizard replied as he continued looking into the trees. "She was there before you killed the last of them."
Running into the darkness, the Seeker called her name again and again, his eyes searching the area as though at any moment he would find her. "Kahlan!" He paused, waiting for a reply as he began to panic. Taking another step, he called out for her once more and was again greeted with silence. Rushing forward, he began scanning the ground for tracks, finding the point of struggle instantly. The tracks on the ground told a story, one he was able to view as though it was happening in the moment.
Kahlan had been fighting two men, by the size of their foot prints, they were almost twice her size, when four more came around her. They had become close, knocking her to the ground at the other men's feet and from the splash of blood in the dirt, they had kicked her in the face. One hit wouldn't have been enough to take her without a fight and whoever attacked her, knew the fact. From the look of the dirt, she had rolled over and instantly shielded her face, but it hadn't been enough. There was more blood a few feet away, but it wasn't splattered onto the ground, it had pooled.
Taking a deep breath, the Seeker pushed his fingers through his hair and walked onward, following the footprints and drag marks until he came upon the tracks of a wagon. "They took her." His hold tightened on his sword as he turned to his friends, rage filling him completely. "They took her!" Rushing back to what had been their camp, he shoved over man after man until he found one who took a slow, shallow breath. "Where is she!?" The man remained silent other than a moan of pain. "You will tell me where she is or I will bring you more pain than you could ever imagine."
The man spit a mouth full of blood at him and suddenly Richard was gone. The guards scream filled the air as Richard cut the man's finger from his hand. "She's being taken to Lord Martella's kingdom!"
Before the man could take another breath, the Seeker had the tip of his blade sliding through his throat, killing him instantly.
"We go north. Do not slow me down."
He couldn't move fast enough, no matter how quick his steps, he was always a step behind and as the days passed, his anger raged onward. He saw red at every turn, scaring at not only his friends but others who asked for his help. Nothing was more important than finding her and anyone that tried to stand in his way or postpone finding her for a single moment wouldn't be tolerated. After two weeks of traveling, it was impossible for anyone to speak to him without feeling a wave of his anger.
After another five days, they lost their enemies trail and the Seeker let go. He abandoned his friends in the middle of the night, determined to continue on without the worry that they were slowing him down. There was no need for him to sleep, he couldn't feel is own body without hers and knowing that she was injured, made it impossible for him to think of anything else. The sight of her blood on the ground was burned into his mind's eye and the image blocked most of his sight. He walked aimlessly in search of her, continuing north as the only way to move. Nine days later, he stumbled upon a small city and without thought, rushed in.
In his state, he had been no match for them and was quickly overrun. He killed more than a dozen of their men within the first few moments, but it wasn't enough. Before he could blink, the sword was knocked from his grasp and he fell to the ground. His last thoughts were of her.
He awoke with a headache, his eyes instantly searching for her as he sat forward. The room was bright, except for a small portion of the side across from him, making him wonder what it was his captors were hiding. To his surprise, he wasn't chained, but as he came to his feet, he saw there was no door. Moving carefully, he walked to the dark side of the room. After a few steps, he felt heart stop.
Kahlan laid on the floor with her hands chained to one of the walls. Rushing to her side, he reached down to touch her arm, but froze. She was naked and covered in a mix of dirt and drying blood, a Rada'Han gracing her neck. Inching around her body, he tried to find an open wound, but every cut he found had already been burned or packed shut. She was breathing shallowly, her eyes closed in a way that made him think she was in more pain than he could imagine. He wanted to wake her and wrap his arms around her, but he couldn't get past his fear. There were so many thoughts in his mind, images of what he thought they had done to her and if any of them were true, she wouldn't want him to touch her.
"Kahlan?" She didn't move at the sound of his voice, bringing him to miss the subtle turn of her head and small smile that would always pull at her lips when he talked to her while she slept. "Kahlan, you have to wake up, we have to find a way out of here." Acting instinctively, he brushed a few strands of her hair out of her face and as though he had stabbed his sword through her, she jumped with a cry and hurried away, bending her knees in front of her chest to shield herself. "I'm sorry."
He could see the white of her eyes in the darkness as she tried to hide, her body shivering from not only cold but a fear he had never seen in her eyes before. Her back was pressed against the wall, her eyes on him as though she had no idea who he was. "Kahlan, it's me, Richard." Shaking her head, she pushed harder against the cold stone behind her. "I'm not going to hurt you, I promise. Kahlan, I- What did they do to you?" Her eyes darted to the ground in rapid speed, answering his question without a word. "Spirits... Kahlan, I'm sorry."
She seemed confused by his words, but he didn't push them on her. Coming to his feet, he looked around them and began pushing his hands against the wall, trying to find a door. "I'm going to find a way out of here, I promise."
"There isn't one," she whispered quietly, capturing his full attention and bringing his movements to a stop.
"How much of this place have you searched?"
"There's no need," she said distantly cold. "There's no way out, no way in."
"There has to be a way in, we're here and whoever has hurt you..." Staring at the floor, she shook her head. "How did they get in?" Her silence made him uneasy, his mind racing on every new piece of information to keep from focusing on the way she looked at him. "How do they come in?"
"I don't know," she whispered in fear, looking around them. Her body jerked backward as he came back to her, fear filling her eyes.
"I won't hurt you, I just- I can't protect you if I'm over there."
"Who are you?"
"Kahlan- I'm- It's me, Richard." Kneeling down in front of her, he leaned forward. "You know me, you have to feel it somehow. You know who I am and you know that I would never hurt you. I've been with you for so long-"
Locking her jaw, she tensed her body. "You let them take me? You let them do this to me?!"
"No! Spirits no! Kahlan, I-" Falling back on his heels, he sighed. "I never meant for this to happen to you, but I should have- I should have made sure that you were safe, but I didn't. Kahlan I know that there is no possible way for me to make you feel better and all of the promises in the world and no matter how many times I apologize, I can't take away your pain. If I could, I would hold you in my arms, keep you safe and I know that's what you need and if this hadn't happened to you, I wouldn't hesitate, but... I don't want to bring you any more pain."
"Who are you?" she repeated her previous question, only this time, the look on her face changed. It was a small difference, one that he barely noticed, but he was sure that it meant something.
"I'm Richard Cypher," he answered quietly. "I'm the Seeker you came looking for. I'm your friend and-" He stopped himself, wondering how she would take it if he told her that he loved her. "I'm going to make sure that no one else hurts you."
Richard smiled, inspite of himself, but hoped it would ease her mind. "Your greatest friend." Watching her face, he tilted his head. "You don't remember anything other than his place, do you?" Her head shook slowly, matching his nod. "You don't remember the night of the attack?"
"Will you tell me what what it is you do remember?"
Looking down at the floor, she took in a slow breath, her mind fighting the way he seemed to pull the words to her mouth. She had no intention of reliving her memories, but she couldn't stop herself from answering his question. "Darkness," she whispered outside of herself. "Him; them... Pain..."
Her eyes came to his with a cold gaze. "Stop calling me that. Whoever you knew me as is dead. Just- Go back over there and pretend I'm some stranger because that's all you are to me."
"I can't do that."
"Because I can't let anything else happen to you."
Shaking her head, she leaned her head back against the wall, making sure to keep her eyes on him. "You have no obligation, I don't know who you are."
"I told you," he whispered tenderly. "I'm your friend."
Touching her fingers to the metal around her neck, she blinked. "Do you know what this is?"
"Yes. It's a Rada'Han. It's the reason you keep feeling like a piece of you is missing." Crossing his legs before him, he leaned forward. "You thought it was because of what they've done to you, but they've taken something more from you."
Shaking her head, Kahlan lowered her hands. "I don't have any magic."
"Yes, you do. Kahlan, you're more powerful than you realize; that's why they're making you wear that."
Her eyes widened and her jaw locked as she looked past his shoulder and from the way she tried to melt into the wall, he knew his fear was coming to life. Coming to his feet, he turned and backed himself closer to her as he counted the men before him.
One of the eight men stepped forward with a grin and waved his hand proudly, providing the power for more light. "I told you the Seeker would come for her. I'm sure you must know who I am, you found us, but allow me to introduce myself. I'm Lord Martella." He wasn't a big man, his body close to the size of Richard's. His eyes were a cold green and he stared at Kahlan, pleased with the reaction she gave. "I'm sorry she hasn't been very warming to you, Seeker. She seems to have suffered some sort of memory loss, but I would like to assure you that I have been very kind to her."
Each men held at least one weapon, preventing Richard from leaping forward in attack. "You've raped her! Beaten her!"
"It's more fun that way," the man replied with a smile. "She fights it at first, they all do, but then there comes a moment when they give in. You can see it in their eyes, their fighting spirit fades and they no longer care what's done to them."
"It hasn't happened with this one yet. She's held out longer than expected." Taking another step forward, the other man beamed. "My men have to hold her down at first, when she struggles, but once I mount her, she can't fight hard enough to stop me." Motioning to the Seeker, he sighed. "Move him away, I want him to watch what we do to her. Make sure his chains are strong, we know how difficult it will be for him to watch us take the woman he loves." Richard began to fight, but was quickly knocked to the ground by the hilt of a sword. He tried to break free of their hold, but he lost the ability to move after a few moments. "Enough!" the Lord shouted, sending the Seeker across the room with a motion of his hand. "When we are done with her-"
"You won't touch her!"
"I will do as I please!" Lord Martella shouted angrily. "This is my land and she is my prisoner. If you'd like, I'll let you have her when we're done."
"No!" Richard shouted, trying to throw himself across the room at the man who unbuckled his belt.
Laughing, Lord Martella shrugged. "I understand, she's already been taken, you wouldn't want her now."
"Why are you doing this to her?"
"I've already told you. She's my prisoner and she's by far the prettiest one we've had. Once I learned who she was, I knew that this is what I have been living for. You can't deny that the thought hasn't crossed your mind. I've heard stories of you two," Lord Martella said as he finished unlacing his pants. "That man cares about you more than he should. Your a danger to him and yet," motioning to the Seeker, he chuckled. "Here he is! He traveled for weeks, sleeping only when he had to, in order to save you. He loves you." He stared down at her, waiting for her gaze to waver, but it never did. "Don't worry, he will soon lose all interest in you. No man wants a woman who has already been taken and the things we've done to you are only the beginning. When he sees what I plan to do... I suppose it wouldn't matter. We are the only men who will ever have you."
"Let her go!"
"Silence!" Throwing his hand in the other man's direction, he beamed down at the Mother Confessor as she looked in Richard's direction just in time to see his mouth forced shut. "Don't worry, he'll still be able to watch us."
He found it impossible to watch, but the sounds coming from the other side of the room made it even worse. His eyes were closed but he could hear everything, each sound driving him mad. Lord Martella grunted forcefully, almost drowning out the soft cry of the woman beneath him. Richard wanted to open his eyes, wanted to meet hers and somehow make it all better, but he knew it would be the wrong decision. If he saw anything more of what their captor was doing to her, it would end him.
The first few moments nearly destroyed him. He had only watched for a moment, but the expression on her face burned into his mind's eye. She had been fighting him, tears in her eyes as she tried to keep the other men from holding her down. Now, by the sounds around him, he knew she had lost consciousness between the thrusts and punches. He was glad for the moment. His mind rationalizing it as she was now unable to feel the pain and torture the men had in stored for her.
The Lord finished and made his way to the Seeker, slapping his face with a laugh. "You don't know what you're missing! She's a good one. Look at her," he instructed, grabbing his chin and turning his head. "Look at her! These men have taken more women than imaginable and they've said the same thing. You still have a chance to feel her, Seeker. I will allow you to have her before she's used up."
Bringing his eyes to the other man, Richard shook his head. "No."
"You must want her. The stories I have heard and what my men witnessed- She was sleeping in your arms. Though I cannot blame you for wanting her close, I have to wonder why you would hold her if you didn't want to be within her."
"It was cold."
Lord Martella nodded and looked back to Kahlan, who was beneath two men who fought to take her first. "She'll be kept warm here."
"If you let us go right now, I promise not to kill you."
His laugh echoed around the room, bringing the men to a stop. "And if I don't?"
"I will bring you a death you can't imagine."
"Where would you go? You need my magic to escape."
"That doesn't concern me." Richard replied quickly. "As long as you and your men are dead, I would be glad to spend what is left of my life here with her."
"You're a strange man, Seeker. When my men are done and have left this place, I will release you from your chains. I suggest taking the woman before she spoils."