Kahlan was as interested in the strange man who was kneeling at the creek side filling his water skin as the two men who were with her were. The man had merely glanced up when they stopped on the small rise across from him before returning to the job he was doing.
She had seen in this quick glance that he saw the shackles that bound her wrists to the chain around her waist, keeping her from raising her hands up. She also knew he had recognized the uniforms of her companions as those of the D’Haran Dragon Core.
It was a strange turn that had led to her being here in the wilderness of D’Hara in the grasp of a D’Haran Quad. Less them a month ago, they had returned to Aydindril from the Pillars of Creation and the sealing of the torn veil. It had been one of the greatest days of her life when they had discovered that Richard couldn’t be harmed by Kahlan’s magic. She had killed him in the process, but it had all turned out ok in the end.
Then less than two weeks ago she had married Richard in Aydindril with a ceremony celebrated by it seemed everyone in existence. People had ventured from far and wide to attend the celebration that marked the start of their lives together. Kahlan had been moved in a way she didn’t know she could be with the generosity of the people.
That had been the happiest moment of their lives, the completion of what was started those couple short years earlier with him saving her from a quad in Westland. There were no real words to describe the intense passion of the nights that followed. The feel of his powerful body as it moved with her in their love making. The electricity of his touch that charged the intense emotions that she was sure a confessor had never felt before. Just the thought of his lips and where they had been made her blood boil and her knees go weak.
Cara would look at her and just shake her head when she would see Kahlan’s face grow red at just the sight of Richard across the room. The Mord’sith had offered to “teach” Kahlan a few things about being with a man. Kahlan had politely refused on the premise that she wanted to find these things out for herself. It was like rediscovering Richard each time they were alone. Kahlan felt like a love sick teenager. And nothing in all the world could make her trade what she had found in Richard. She had found love so intense that nothing, not even the power residing in her, could match it when it burned through her.
They had a fairytale love, and they hoped soon a child to go with the rest of their dreams come true.
But they had forgotten that Darken Rahl once again walked the lands, free of the Underworld and the grip of the Keeper. The closing of the rifts by his brother Richard had signaled his return to the land of the living. Apparently he hadn’t forgotten it was Richard that had sent him to the Underworld in the first place.
So while she had been traveling in the company of a small detachment of soldiers, returning to Aydindril from a small village a confessor had been needed at, she had been attacked and taken by the quad. She had no illusions about who ordered her capture.
Now the first person she had seen in the past week, other than the four members of the quad, acted like he wanted nothing to do with the situation…not that she blamed him.
His skin finished filling the man stood from where he knelt and took a quick survey of the area. Kahlan took some time to look him over closer.
The man was only slightly taller than Richard but still shorter than Zedd. Long dark hair pulled back in a ponytail covered his head and a neatly trimmed goatee framed the emotionless line his mouth sat in. From this distance she couldn’t tell what color his eyes were, only that they were dark in color.
He reached over to a tree beside him and grabbed a head high staff from where it was leaning along with a bow he had set aside. He strapped the bow to the pack on his back beside a full quiver of arrows. Kahlan could see the muscle ripple in his arms and see the flex of his powerful shoulders that were much wider then Richard’s could ever hope to be. A barrel of a chest moved slightly under the brown vest he wore as his breath moved his ribcage in an even rhythmic motion. Massively muscled legs housed in a pair of dark brown pants propelled him effortlessly across the slippery rocks of the crossing where he had gathered his water. She didn’t hear his steps that were muffled by the knee high brown leather moccasins he wore. He reached up with his left hand and adjusted the strap of the pack that dangled from one shoulder while he used his right hand to hold the walking staff. His whole body was the color of the brown tones of the forest. She knew that he was home here in the wilderness. Much like Richard was in Westland.
He moved up the trail toward them seemingly without concern with them being there. He had already dismissed them as not his business and was just a traveler moving on his way through the wilderness.
As he approached, one of the quad members reached out to take her arm in a vise like grip and pull her to the side of the trail, his other hand rested casually on the hilt of a long dagger at his belt. The other member of the quad moved aside slightly to let the man pass them, his hand resting on the sword at his hip and his face hard as he intently watched the man pass. The man nodded once as he passed, his eyes only glancing at Kahlan. Her hopes fell that she would be helped from him.
They were moving forward again when they heard the man take in a deep breath behind them. The two members of the quad turned to look behind them and Kahlan turned her head the best she could when the sound of his pack hitting the ground reached them. The man had stopped just before passing back into the covering of the forest. His pack, bow, and quiver sat in a pile at his feet. Without turning the man spoke in the silence of the forest, the only sound the gurgle of the small creek behind them.
“I can understand bringing a woman out to these parts for a bit of fun.” Slowly the man turned around and looked back at them. His eyes locking on Kahlan’s as he spoke. “The chances of anyone coming across you, or her body when you were done would be very slim. But I’m curious about why two strapping lads like your selves feel the need to shackle a woman in this manner? Are you not men enough to handle her on your own?”
One of the quad members stepped forward with his hand held threateningly on his sword. “Mister, this is none of your concern. You had best walk away and forget you saw us.” He hissed as he took a couple steps forward toward the man. The man looked down and shrugged.
“Perhaps your right. But then again I do have a problem with this…” His face lifted again as he smiled at the guard.
With a whistle the staff whirled in the man’s hands from where it had been grounded at his side and smashed across the quad members face with the sickening sound of crunching bone. Without pausing, the staff whirled around his head as he stepped forward quickly, and then down to shatter the wrist of the other quad member who stepped forward drawing his sword. Before the man could yell about his shattered wrist the man took a quick step forward and lifted the end of the staff to drive it up under his chin, his head snapping back with a resounding crack as his neck broke.
The man looked down on the two fallen men with a sneer on his face as he finished his statement.
“…I hate D’Harans.”
The man quickly surveyed the forest around him, looking for any others in the area. From his statements Kahlan gathered he knew about D’Harans and the quads. Once he was sure they were alone for the moment and bent down and quickly went through the dead men’s pockets. There was nothing there.
He looked down at the two men lying dead on the trail and took a deep breath.
“Leave it up to a D’Haran to bleed into a perfectly good creek and ruin it.” He reached down and grabbed the ankle of one of the dead men and dragged him up into the forest and away from the creek. He returned quickly and grabbed the other man and did the same to him. He then returned and spread some dirt over the blood where it had pooled on the ground.
With a nod he stood up and motioned for Kahlan to head down the trail the direction he was going. She looked at him as his eyes kept surveying the forest around them. Kahlan knew that at any moment the other two members of the quad would come looking for them. She didn’t say anything and headed off into the forest with the strange man pacing her from behind.
They walked for about an hour before she ventured to talk to him.
“Thank you for the help back there.” All she received from the man was a grunt in reply.
“Best be sure I’m not worse than them before you thank me.” His gruff reply came while his eyes still swiveled through the forest around them.
With a solid but yet somehow gentle grip he steered her off the main trail and into the deep forest. At an overhang of rock that was shielded by a row of trees he stopped her and glanced around the area. It was barely big enough for two people to stretch out to sleep, but it was hidden, and there was room under the overhang of the rock to keep at least one of them dry if it chose to rain. It was one of those places that unless you knew it was here, or you were actually looking for someone, you would never see or find.
“This will work for the night.” He helped Kahlan sit down with her back to the rock wall, pulled out a flint, and began to make a fire with a deftness that left no doubt in Kahlan’s mind he was used to living like this. Once it was going he took out a package of dried meat from his pack and shaved off a generous portion into a bowl of hot water. He crumbled up some dried leaves he had with him and sat back watching the flames and sitting in silence. Soon the smell of the cooking meat had Kahlan’s stomach rumbling. Kahlan looked up at him and watched him for a few moments before finally chancing conversation with him again.
“It will be hard to eat with my shackles on. Can I get them off?” She asked him. He looked up at her and blankly answered her.
Kahlan blinked and started to get angry. Her voice was soft and cold.
“Why not?” He locked his eyes on hers.
“Because neither of the D’Harans had the key on them.” His voice was soft and mellow, and yet somehow firm and unyielding. Kahlan knew that he wasn’t keeping her locked up because he could; it was because he didn’t have a way to get her free yet. She still held out hope that he was on her side somehow.
“Where did they take you from?” He asked as he stirred the meaty broth on the fire with a wooden spoon he had pulled from his supplies.
“Aydindril.” He looked up at her with a face she found hard to read for some reason. It was unnerving for a confessor to have someone be so blank to them.
“A long way from here.” He said. Kahlan nodded. He looked back down to the stirring he was doing. “A long way out of the way for me. But seeing as I can’t leave you out here alone, and I am needing some new supplies, I suppose I can get you back at least that far.”
Kahlan could tell that the meat broth was almost done, so she found it strange when the man stood suddenly and took up his staff. He saw the look in her eyes and smiled at her, it wasn’t a pleasant smile.
“The key for your manacles has arrived.” He motioned for her to be quiet as he ghosted away into the falling gloom of the early evening. She had immediately grasped what he was saying. Somehow he knew that the other two members of the quad were out there somewhere.
There is nothing more intense than waiting in an area half the size of a horse stall where you can’t see, knowing that there are men out there hunting you. Her breath pounded in her ears and she could feel her pulse where the manacles rubbed against her wrists. It couldn’t have been much more than a couple moments, although it seemed like a long time to her, she heard what sounded like a step just outside the thin screen of trees blocking her view.
Her pulse raced. One of the D’Harans could reach in and stab her with a sword before she knew what happened, the space she was in was that small. In the silence of the forest she could hear the man on the other side of the trees take a deep breath. He could smell the broth and smoke from the fire she realized.
A dark maroon gauntleted hand pushed aside one of the small trees and opened the way for the commander of the quad to poke his head into the small area. His smile wasn’t friendly as he took in the things around her. She knew that he knew she wasn’t alone.
With a cautious glance back over his shoulder into the surrounding forest he took a step into the area next to her.
“I’m not sure how you got away from my other men. But Master Rahl said to bring you in…dead or alive.” With a grin he pulled out one of his long daggers and bent down to grab Kahlan’s hair. With a yank he pulled her to her feet and pulled the dagger back to drive into her. He never got the chance.
With a distinct thud a white ash shafted arrow buried itself in his fore head. As the man fell backward to crash into one of the small trees that screened this area Kahlan turned and looked behind her and saw the outline of the strange man through the trees, an awfully long way away for a shot like he just took.
He lowered his bow, took up his staff again, and made his way toward the rock overhang. Kahlan watched him move around the outside of the screening trees, grab the dead D’Haran Captain and drag him off into the forest without a comment. Kahlan was still standing there when the man returned. He smiled at her and held up the keys to the manacles.
It was fully dark now and the last of the meat broth had been devoured hungrily by Kahlan. She finally leaned back and stretched out, her body free of the manacles for the first time in several days. She leaned forward and met the eyes of the strange and unknown man across the fire from her.
“Thank you for helping me.” He smiled at her comment.
“I would be no better than those D’Haran butchers if I hadn’t.” His eyes locked on hers, they were a dark green in color she had finally noticed.
“Anyone that they would force march through this wilderness shackled like that I’m thinking serves the people better by being free.” He looked down into the fire as he lay stretched across the small opening caused by the falling D’Haran earlier.
“Why don’t you like them?” She asked, trying to engage the strange man in conversation.
He smiled. “I have my reasons…as I suppose we all do in one form or another.” She thought he wasn’t going to talk about it anymore. He rolled onto his back and looked up at the stars overhead as he crossed his arms behind his head. His voice was sad as he continued.
“I do suppose I owe you some form of introduction and explanation.” He paused for a deep breath before continuing. “My name is Dante Macabre. Two years ago I returned from a trip to find my small village wiped out almost to a person. A detachment of Dragon Core and Mord’sith had visited. An old woman was spared so that she could tell others what had happened. They had executed all the males, no matter the age. The females too old to be made Mord’sith had been rounded up and marched off as slaves.” Even without looking over Kahlan could see the pain in his eyes as the firelight glinted off them.
“They killed all three of my sons, my brother and his two boys without hesitation. My wife, Spirits bless her, fought them and was killed, as was my brother’s wife. My daughter was taken by the Mord’sith.” He looked over at her and his eyes had turned hard.
“I’ve hunted the Mord’sith ever since, hoping to find my daughter or word of her. The other D’Harans…I kill as many as I can find.” He turned back to look up at the stars as Kahlan absorbed his words.
It was a story familiar to her. It had echoed all over the Midlands ever since Darken Rahl had brought down the boundary and invaded. The brutality of his reign had known no bounds. Before Kahlan could reply he kept talking.
“Eventually the rumor found its way to me that Darken Rahl had been killed by the Seeker. I had hope then that I might find my daughter. Then I started hearing the stories from D’Hara of groups of young girls being executed by the Mord’sith.” His voice trailed off.
“I still haven’t found her.”
Kahlan reached across the short distance between them and sat a soft hand on his arm. He didn’t flinch away but did turn to meet her eyes.
“Words cannot express the sadness I feel for your losses.” He smiled at her and simply nodded. Kahlan leaned back to where she had been sitting and watched the man.
If he took her as far as Aydindril, which she was pretty sure they would meet those looking for her long before then, he would come face to face with Cara. With the pain and anger this man felt toward the Mord’sith it might become a confrontation that would go bad. The last thing she wanted was the man who had saved her dead or confessed in a fight against someone who was not his enemy.
“There is someone I know…a close friend of mine…that may be able to help you find your daughter.” She chose her words carefully and could see that his interest was piqued at her words. She wanted to know his intent toward Cara long before they ever met.
“You’re the first person that hasn’t told me to give up on her…that it was too late.” He replied. Kahlan braced herself to react to defend herself.
“Dante…she is Mord’sith.”
The man was on his feet in front of her almost before her eyes could adjust to the change. His face was an emotionless mask of stone as he looked down on her. His nostrils flared as he took in a deep breath. He very much reminded Kahlan of an animal about to attack at that moment. Kahlan knew that she could easily defend herself against him with her power, but she didn’t want to confess the man who saved her. For a few long seconds they stared at each other. After he had thought about it he spoke.
“Mord’sith don’t have friends. But there are stories of one that travels with the Seeker I have heard about from the resistance fighters I’ve encountered. One that rumor says has forsaken the Sisterhood and their brutal ways. One that they say helped the Seeker kill Darken Rahl.” His voice was cold, even colder then when he spoke to the D’Harans. Kahlan could only nod at his words. She wasn’t sure if this was a good development or not.
With a fluid motion he scissored his legs under him and sat back down cross legged. For a moment he didn’t say anything.
“You are Kahlan Amnell aren’t you? The Mother Confessor?” He asked softly. Kahlan nodded to him but couldn’t understand the sudden terrible sadness that crossed his face.
She stared at him as he lowered his eyes and looked down into the fire, sudden tears welling up in them. In a voice almost too low for her to hear he spoke again.
“I have always wondered what I would say to you if I got the chance to meet you face to face. You see I was the member of the quad sent back to report when the others followed you through the boundary into Westland.” His teary eyes came up and met hers.
“I was the one that found your sister alive and took her back.”
Kahlan could only stare as he took his eyes off hers and stared back into the fire before continuing.
“It was so mindless, the hunting of the Confessors. My commander knew I didn’t agree with the orders, not in the way it was being done. But I was a soldier…I was sent with Commander Fane to stop you and your sister with the other men.” He slowly shook his head.
“She was almost gone when I arrived back where she fell. I did all I could to keep her alive as I took her back to the garrison. I left her at the garrison after I gave my report and left with new orders back to the Peoples Palace.” He looked up again with tear filled eyes.
It was so strange seeing the tears from a man who used to be a feared Dragon Core quad member. Kahlan’s eyes teared up as she tried to smile in encouragement…it was a feeble attempt.
“I did all I could to save her. I am sorry.”
Kahlan leaned forward. “Dante…she survived.” Kahlan went on to tell the story of her rescue but refrained from telling more of the story past that point.
“I never knew she survived. I wish I had been there to help her again.” Kahlan looked up at the genuine sadness in the man’s voice, but his eyes were on the fire again.
“Please get some rest Mother Confessor.” His eyes looked up to hers. “I will not let anything happen to you.” Kahlan didn’t doubt him.
Three days later, just before dark, they entered back into the Midlands and made camp not far off of a main trail. After a meal of rabbit that Dante had taken down with his bow they were getting settled in when a voice hailed them from the darkness.
“Hello the camp.” Kahlan lunged to her feet at the sound of the voice.
“Richard!” She yelled back into the darkness toward where the voice came from. A form stepped from the shadows into the soft firelight and Kahlan rushed forward to embrace it. Dante watched the Mother Confessor embrace who he assumed was the Seeker and her husband.
He tucked himself into the shadows a bit more as the two locked their lips together in reunion. From what Kahlan had told him during their travels he wouldn’t be alone out here. Dante had already picked up a couple more forms in the darkness beyond the two. One of them stepped forward into the light and Dante’s breath caught.
Cara’s eyes turned toward the man who stepped from the shadows across the fire from them and her hand blurred toward her agiels. The sound of swords being drawn soon followed as three Aydindril guards stepped up to flank the Mord’sith as she faced the new arrival. Richard realized what was happening and stepped back, his hand going for the Sword of Truth…Kahlan stopped him with her hand on his.
“No! He is with me Cara.” The Mord’sith didn’t relax any.
“He is Dragon Core…one of the elite hunters of the Dragon Core in fact.” Cara didn’t move. Kahlan went to step around them to get between them.
“Please stay where you are Mother Confessor.” Dante said softly. “Mistress Cara doesn’t trust me and I’d hate to give her a reason to try to use her agiels on me.”
Kahlan stopped still behind Cara and the guards. “I hadn’t ever mentioned her name to you. How do you know her?”
Dante looked at her and chuckled. “Mistress Cara and I go way back. You see Mother Confessor, because I did not cut your sister’s throat when I found her still alive I was turned over to the Mord’sith for some “reeducation”. Mistress Cara was my trainer.”
“You were punished for saving my sisters life?” Kahlan asked as she stepped to the side of Cara and looked at Dante as he leaned against his staff.
“He was ordered to kill you. Not bring you back alive.” Cara said in her usual cheery Mord’sith voice. “He failed, was punished, and sent back to duty.”
Dante’s voice grew cold. “And less than a week later you and your sisters eliminated my village and took my daughter.” He glanced at Kahlan before looking back to Cara. “Had I known it was you that the Mother Confessor spoke of…?” He paused and looked down at the fire at his feet. “…I might not have been so willing to agree not to kill you.” His eyes rose to meet hers again.
“I hate the Mord’sith.” He looked over at Kahlan, sadness and defeat in his eyes. “I’m not sure I can ask her to help me…not after what she did.” He turned away and took a few steps to look out into the darkness, his back to the group.
“Cara I’m not sure what is going on. But I think it would be best if you waited back at the horses.” Richard commanded. Cara looked back over her shoulder and scowled without moving from her position.
“Richard. He is Dragon Core. One of them sent to kill you and Kahlan. I’m not going to give him that chance.” She went to take a step forward and Kahlan grabbed her arm in an almost painful grip.
“Cara, please do as Richard asked. He saved my life. For that alone he has earned the right to live.” For a long moment Cara stared into Kahlan’s eyes. Had it not been for the trust that had developed between the two women she wouldn’t have been stopped. With a nod she sheathed her agiels.
“Harm them and face me.” She warned dangerously to the man standing at the edge of the firelight facing away from her. He didn’t seem to hear her. She hesitantly moved back to where the horses and other guards waited along the main trail of the area.
Once she had gone Kahlan moved to stand beside Dante. She found him looking down at his open hands before him. Her eyes followed his and she could see the straight jagged scars across his palms from a blade slicing them.
“I made a blood promise to my dead family that I would find her and kill her with my bare hands.” Tears soaked his cheeks as he looked over at Kahlan. The pain, torment, and indecision were evident to her even without using her Confessor magic.
“I will honor my promise to you not kill her. But I cannot ask her for help.” His hands dropped to his sides as he looked away into the darkness.
“You have found your safety Mother Confessor. I will go on my own way and leave you to it.” He turned to face her. “I have been honored by your presence Mother Confessor. May you continue to serve the people of these lands to the best of your abilities.” He glanced up where Richard stood close by in case he was needed.
“Protect her well Seeker.” Without another word he grabbed his pack and things from where they lay next to the fire and turned to walk into the darkness opposite the forest trail. Kahlan stopped him.
“Dante.” She took a deep breath. “Cara isn’t the same Mord’sith as she was before. There is something I haven’t told you about my sister Dennee. We sent her and Flynn to Valaria with their child to join others in seclusion from Darken Rahl. He found them. Everyone was killed, including Dennee. Cara was the one that killed her.”
Dante stopped and looked out of the corner of his eye at her over his shoulder as she continued. “Cara was the one that told me she killed Dennee. I, like you, wanted to kill her, and I had the opportunity given to me. I have never regretted the decision not to.”
“Mord’sith do not change.” He stated firmly.
“Neither do Dragon Core.” Richard reminded him softly from where he stood watching. Kahlan picked up on the idea Richard presented.
“If you can change Dante, then why can’t Cara?” She said with a smile as she stepped up beside him and met his eyes.
“She is our friend Dante. You are my friend. Please if nothing else trust me.” Kahlan pled with him as he looked back into the darkness. Kahlan decided his path as she asked one last question of him.
“Who better to help you find your daughter then the one that took her?”
For a long time no one said anything or moved from where they stood. Dante’s face was a mask of stone as he looked into the darkness.
“Will you ask her Kahlan? I’m not sure I can.” Dante requested softly, his lips barely moving. Kahlan squeezed his arm lightly as she nodded. She walked over to Richard and spoke softly in his ear before giving him a soft kiss and a hug. As she vanished into the shadows toward the road where Cara waited Richard bent to build up the fire. Dante didn’t move and no words were shared between the two men as they waited.
Cara was waiting with her arms crossed in front of her as Kahlan walked up.
“So what lie did he tell you?” Cara growled. Kahlan stopped and looked at the other woman with the patient face of the Mother Confessor.
“He isn’t lying Cara.” Kahlan didn’t take her eyes off the red clad Mord’sith as she rolled her eyes. “You know he can’t lie to me.” Kahlan didn’t mention how hard it was for her to read him.
Cara took a deep breath. “Kahlan. There were members of the Dragon Core that were trained as we were to be unreadable. They were special hunters trained expressly for hunting the Confessors.” Her eyes looked over through the screen of trees toward where Richard and Dante waited.
“He was trained to lie, cheat, steal, kill his way as close to a confessor as he could. Then kill them and vanish. Dante Macabre was trained as the deadliest of assassins for Darken Rahl. One that never stopped.” Kahlan turned to look where Cara was looking. Neither of the men had moved.
“He was part of the quad sent after me and Dennee?” Kahlan asked softly.
“From what I know…yes.” Cara replied.
“You trained him because he didn’t kill Dennee?” She asked again. Cara only nodded.
“What of his story of the village?”
“A few days after he was released from the Temple we struck at a village that was rumored to be a supply area for the resistance in D’Hara.” Cara looked at Kahlan. “If it was his village or not I don’t know.”
Kahlan nodded. “Let me tell you what he told me and see if it matches.” Cara nodded and went back to watching the men.
“He said that all the men of every age were executed.” Cara nodded.
“He said that the able women were taken as slaves and the young girls for the Mord’sith.” Cara nodded and replied.
“But that was standard for any village thought to house resistance fighters.”
Kahlan nodded. “He also said that his wife resisted and was killed, as was his brother’s wife.”
Cara was silent for a moment. “There were two women that resisted and were killed.”
“Cara I have seen nothing to indicate he is lying to me. Please come talk to him, help me sort out what is the truth.” Kahlan wasn’t so sure about her savior anymore.
Cara nodded and absently checked her agiels before following Kahlan back to the fire where Richard and Dante waited.
It was time for questions to be answered.
Dante turned slowly and met Cara’s hard eyes as she entered the small clearing with Kahlan. His burning eyes never softened as he watched her. She met his gaze without flinching. A Mord’sith was never the first to blink.
“Dante. Cara has brought up some things that I think we need to talk about.” Kahlan said as she stepped up beside Richard with Cara at her side.
Dante met her eyes. “All I want is to know about my daughter and be on my way, nothing more.” Kahlan nodded.
“I know that Dante. But we can’t let someone who served Darken Rahl like you did just walk free.” She said in reply.
“Darken Rahl is dead.” He said in defense.
“For your information, your Master lives again assassin.” Cara interjected coldly. Dante stared at her.
“What?” He hissed through clenched teeth. Richard finally added to the conversation.
“I’m still not totally sure of what is going on here. But Cara is right. Darken Rahl lives again.” Dante stared at the Seeker. Richard could only shrug at him. “In order to close the tear in the veil certain circumstances dictated his return to the land of the living.”
“You brought him back?” Dante said softly. Richard and Kahlan both nodded.
“You don’t seem happy that your Master is back. Now you can go back to killing confessors.” Cara taunted. Dante looked at her and scowled. “Tell them how many confessors you killed as an assassin for Darken Rahl. Tell us the truth!” Cara stepped forward threateningly, her hands gripping her agiels.
“You were trained to kill confessors?” Richard said as his hand strayed to the Sword of Truth. Dante nodded.
With a sigh Dante sat down where he was and hung his head. Eventually he looked back up and me their eyes. “Yes, I was trained to assassinate confessors. But I swear on the lives of my sons and wife that I have never killed a confessor. I was assigned to infiltrate the resistance and eliminate the leadership. The first confessor I was sent after was you Kahlan.”
“You’re a liar.” Cara hissed as she lunged forward at him. Richard caught her arm and held her back. Her withering stare never leaving the sitting man before her.
“If you never killed a confessor, then who in the resistance did you assassinate?” Kahlan probed.
“Six members of the resistance in Brennidon. The leader Joshua of the southern resistance in D’Hara. The two leaders of the resistance in Greystone. And I directly ordered the execution of the leader in East Morrowinn.” Dante looked at Kahlan and then to Richard.
“You two managed to turn that into a disaster.” He didn’t smile as he pointed that out.
“That was your doing?” Richard asked. Dante shrugged.
“In a way. Decklin was trained by us, but he wasn’t one of us.” Dante looked down. “That orb of his made all the difference.”
“If you had been there it would have been different wouldn’t it?” Richard asked. Dante nodded without looking up at them.
“I would have killed you.” He replied softly. Cara stepped forward again.
“See, he is supposed to kill you. Why are we even talking about this?” She scowled as Richard reached out to make sure she wouldn’t lunge forward again.
“Cara, you tried to kill us too so please just calm down.” Richard reminded her. The Mord’sith scowled even more.
“That was different.” She said as she moved back behind Richard again.
Dante shook his head. “Look…yes I was trained to kill confessors…yes I killed many members of the resistance in service to Darken Rahl…yes I would have killed either of you given the chance back then. But please…all I want is to know about my daughter and go on my way…that is all.”
For a long time no one said anything. The only sound was the shifting of the Aydindril guards standing in the shadows back toward the main trail. Eventually Kahlan turned to Cara.
“Where would the women of his village been taken.” She asked softly.
“There were Mord’sith holding cells at the local garrison.” Cara said.
“They were empty when I got there, the Mord’sith were gone.” Dante said from where he sat. His voice was soft, almost resigned and defeated.
“I left the day after we returned to the garrison bound for the People’s Palace so I don’t know what their orders were beyond that.” Cara looked at Dante. “How old was your daughter?”
Dante meet her eyes. “She was twelve when she was taken.”
Cara nodded. “Girls her age would be sent to one of two places if they proved worthy of training. The Temple, or the Palace.”
“And if they didn’t prove worthy?” Dante asked. It was obvious in the tone of his voice that he feared the answer.
“They were made slaves, or killed.” Cara answered without hesitation.
Kahlan watched as Dante’s face melded into the emotionless face of someone who was running out of choices. Only his teary eyes gave away the emotion he was feeling under his stony face. His voice was cold.
“Thank you for the information.” Without another word he stood, took up his things, and vanished into the darkness of the forest. They all watched him go without stopping him.
“Thank you Cara.” Kahlan said softly. Cara scowled at her.
“I didn’t tell him anything he didn’t already know. I still say we should have killed him and not let him go.” She turned and walked back toward the horses leaving Richard and Kahlan alone.