Authors: Terry Goodkind
“So it might not have worked?” Cassia guessed.
“Having it not work would have been the least of it. My power doesn't work the same on everyone. Mord-Sith, for example, can capture a person's magic when the person tries to use it on them, yet when they try to capture a Confessor's power it turns deadly, as you saw with Erika.
“It is entirely possible that had I tried to use my Confessor power on Dreier, he could have turned it back on me in a similar way and used the opportunity to have us all. It could easily have been a fatal mistake for all of us. The risk was too great, and besides, I believe we got all we could from him, so there was no point. That was the calculated decision I made.”
Nicci nodded with a sigh. “I should have known you would have thought it through.”
Kahlan stared off into her thoughts. “Richard taught me to think of the solution, not the problem. That's what I was trying to do.”
“What are we going to do, now,” Commander Fister asked when Nicci and Kahlan parted and the hallway fell silent again.
Kahlan swallowed. “Richard isn't coming back. We need to face that. I was only fooling myself. The awful truth is that Richard is dead.
“We know what he had wanted done with Zedd's remains. He would want us to do the same for him. He is gone now, lost to those of us left behind in this world. We owe it to him to take care of his worldly remains. We are going to have to prepare a funeral pyre and say our good-byes.”
Tears slowly ran down the faces of all three Mord-Sith.
“Kahlan, are you sure?” Nicci asked. “What Ludwig Dreier did used occult power. We don't know if there might still be hope.”
“Hope?” Kahlan asked. She shook her head as she swallowed at the painful agony of the memory she still couldn't get out of her mind. “You didn't see what I saw. Those dark, winged demons chased him, caught him, hooked their claws into him so he couldn't get away, and then wrapped their black wings around him to smother his soul as they carried him down into oblivion.”
Everyone stared in silent horror.
“There must be some hope,” Nicci finally said in a weak voice. “Richard would want us to have hope.”
Kahlan felt empty. The world of life was dead to her.
“Hope? Hannis Arc and Emperor Sulachan are headed for the People's Palace. Sulachan wants to break the world of life. He wants to loose the world of the dead on all of us.
“The only one named in prophecy who had a chance to stop that was Richard. Prophecy has named Richard every step of the way, in everything he did, as the pebble in the pond, as the only one who had a chance to set things right.
“Prophecy says that the only hope to stop this threat from the third kingdom being set free on us all is for Richard to end prophecy. He is the only one with a chance.
“Now, he is dead. We have no hope without Richard. In a way, since there was so much prophecy involving him, since he was so tightly woven into so much of prophecy, since he was
fuer grissa ost drauka,
that means that with him dead, prophecy, too, has ended. It died with Richard. After all, what can it say about him now that he is gone? He was the one, and now he is gone.
“In a very real way, by dying Richard has ended prophecy.
“There is no one else who can stop evil from darkening the world. Time and hope has run out for life.
“To tell you the truth, I can't think of a reason to care.”
“Kahlan,” Nicci said in a comforting manner, “Richard wouldn't let that happen. The people of D'Hara need him. Richard would return from the dead to protect them. He is the Lord Rahl. He is bonded to them and they to him. He would come back from the world of the dead to protect them.”
Kahlan swallowed back the grief, trying to hold back the tears by trying to maintain a Confessor face.
“I understand the sentiment, Nicci, and the words are very nobleâthey really areâbut they are just words. It takes more than wishes and words. You know in your heart as well as I do that there is no way for him to return, that he is gone.”
Kahlan thought that maybe she should be the one unwilling to accept the reality of Richard's death, that she should be the one saying that he would return and hoping against hope for some miracle to come out of thin air.
But she was a Confessor, and as a Confessor Kahlan's entire life had been devoted to truth. She couldn't deny the truth because it was painful.
Even in this, she could not deny truth.
Cassia rolled her Agiel in her fingers. “Mother Confessor, I was without hope. I found my way back.”
Kahlan gestured to the woman's Agiel. “And does your Agiel work, now that Dreier is dead and Richard isÂ â¦ gone?”
“No,” Cassia said with a sad smile. “But is it so bad that I don't feel the pain? At least for a time?”
“I guess not,” Kahlan said as she put a consoling hand on the woman's shoulder. “But not feeling the pain means that Richard is gone, and the bond to the Lord Rahl is dissolved. I guess, though, that not feeling the pain of that link is a small consolation.”
She knew that, for her, the pain had only just begun.
“What about Lord Rahl's sword?” the commander asked. “I mean, do we leave it with him, when weÂ â¦ prepare his funeral pyre?”
Kahlan knew what she had to do. “No. With Zedd gone, and Richard gone, the sword now falls to me. Bring it to me.”
He silently tapped his fist to his heart.
Talking about it, having to face the reality, was crushing her soul. Kahlan felt faint with the grief twisting in on her. Her knees almost buckled. Nicci caught her arm and helped her over to a window where she hurriedly unlatched it and swung it open.
“I think you need a little fresh air,” the sorceress said.
The thought of Richard lying dead and all alone back in that room was making Kahlan feel hot and dizzy. She couldn't get the image out of her mind. She couldn't think of anything else. Richard seemed so alive, and yet, her mind could bring forth only the image of his worldly form lying lifeless on the bed as his severed soul was being carried down into eternal darkness. Even though part of her could think of him only as alive, he was already receding back into the realm of memories.
Kahlan wanted to scream, to cry, to turn things back to the way they had been. For some reason, she couldn't cry. She thought she might pass out instead. Her hands shook. Her whole body trembled.
“Kahlan,” Nicci said in urgent, but soft, compassion, “you need some air. Breathe. Come on, take a deep breath. It will do you good.”
Kahlan leaned on her hands on the stone sill, breathing in the cooler air. She felt a tear roll down her cheek and drip off her jaw.
How was she going to go on?
What was she going to do?
She just wanted Richard. She ached for him to be there by her. Somehow, none of it seemed real, and yet it seemed more real than anything had ever felt.
She had wanted so badly for Richard to have a life with her, a life they could share and enjoy away from conflict. A time to live for just themselves. That chance had slipped away from them. Now, they would never have a life together.
As she gazed out across the grounds and to the forest not far beyond, she spotted a creature at the edge of the woods, sitting on its haunches, watching her.
It was Hunter.
As he sat there, silently looking up at her, Kahlan thought that he almost looked like he had come to offer his condolences. More likely, Red had sent him in a gesture offering hers.
Red had known. Red had told her. Had Kahlan listened to Red's warning and done as the witch woman wanted, Kahlan would be the one who was dead, and Richard would be alive.
She looked over at the sorceress. Of course, Nicci would be dead, too.
Prophecy rarely turned out the way it seemed.
In this case, events had turned out exactly as Red had predicted, but in ways that Kahlan could never have imagined.
And yet, the prophecy had been precisely correct.
Kahlan hadn't listened.
Now, like Richard, prophecy, too, was dead.
ALSO BY TERRY GOODKIND
Wizard's First Rule
Stone of Tears
Blood of the Fold
Temple of the Winds
Soul of the Fire
Faith of the Fallen
The Pillars of Creation
Debt of Bones
The Law of Nines
The Omen Machine
The First Confessor
The Third Kingdom
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
Copyright Â© 2014 by Terry Goodkind
All rights reserved.
Cover art and design by Rob Anderson at Revel Studios
A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
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is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
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The Library of Congress has cataloged the print edition as follows:
Â Â Â Â Severed souls / Terry Goodkind.Â â 1
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â p. cm.
Â Â Â Â “A Tom Doherty Associates book.”
Â Â Â Â ISBN 978-0-7653-2774-1 (hardcover)
Â Â Â Â ISBN 978-1-4299-4844-9 (e-book)
Â I.Â Â Title.
Â Â Â Â PS3557.O5826S48 2014
Â Â Â Â 813'.54âdc23
First Edition: August 2014