She always said she could hear the whispering of his heart, calling to hers in times of separation. Richard had never heard such a thing, and even considering the things he had been exposed to in the recent three years of his life, had taken it as only a way of her expressing her love for him. He never thought ones heart could truly carry a message to another, until now.
- - x - -
"The skies are growing dark, daylight's slowly getting shorter."
Tearing his eyes away from the blazing fire in the pit before him, Richard turned his steely gray eyes up towards General Isaac, a deeply respected man worthy of rank. He smiled, tilting his head back to gaze up at the heavens.
"Snow clouds." he said absently, bringing his head back down so that he could meet the General's gaze. "Winter is coming."
The words elicited a sigh from the General, who shook his head and scrapped at his bowl of porridge. Richard looked out over the men all around them. Most were gathered in circles just as they were, extending out over the open area as far as the eye could see. Smoke rose from fires in the distance, letting him know of even more troops.
"Between you and me, I'll be glad when all this is over. My wife had just given birth before those bastards attacked us." Isaac looked at the fire angrily as he chewed and swallowed, shaking his head. "And I'll bet you can't wait to return to the Mother Confessor."
Richard smiled at that. Just the mention of her name was enough to banish everything else from his mind. A soft breeze blew then, chilly as it whispered along his skin, bringing him the scent of Kahlan's hair. Her words echoed around him in a silent whisper, one he took comfort in, relished; it was what got him through this War. What kept him alive this long.
"That I can't." he sighed.
Several months ago, there had been an attack on the Midlands. Aydindril had been the primary target, parts of the city now lay in shambles. It was the same for Kelton, and Galea, and even provinces in D'Hara.
Richard had had no choice but to rally his forces and declare a state of War. It was all that could be done to cease the senseless fighting spreading like wild fire throughout the lands.
Leading an alliance of all the Midlands and D'Hara had to offer, Richard held supreme command, but even such authority did not give him the necessary power to save the lives of his men. The army they faced were savage in the way that they fought, unpredictable and precise. Their tactic was what extended this War, Richard was tired of fighting. He wanted to go home, he wanted to be with Kahlan.
"General, how many men would you say we began this War with?"
At the question, the General finished scooping his porridge and took the final bite, his brows drawn together in thought. "It's hard to be sure, Lord Rahl."
Richard stretched out his legs. The noise of the hundreds of thousands of men with them nearly drowned out their voices.
"In the last seven months, we have lost just under a quarter of them. That's close to three hundred thousand, general."
Isaac said nothing, his eyes down cast.
"Our enemy has lost even less." Richard continued, picking up his worn knapsack, rummaging through it. When his fingers brushed over the rough texture, he pulled it from the pack, setting the journey book in his lap.
"Are you saying this fight is futile, my Lord?"
Finding his quill and unsheathing his dagger, Richard looked up at the General who was watching him. Placing the blade in his blade, he closed his fist around it slightly, giving a rough yank. The pain didn't flinch across his face the way it did across those around him. As the blood slowly dripped down into an open bottle, the Lord Rahl's gaze rose, pressed with a dangerous determination.
"No, General, I'm saying it's time we brought the fight to them."
- - x - -
"Still no word?" Cara frowned, standing in front of the table which Kahlan sat behind. The Mother Confessor, weary from worry and patience, set down her quill and the document she had been going over, looked up at the pacing Mord'Sith. Really, Kahlan didn't understand why Cara hadn't gone with them.
But she knew Richard, and Richard wouldn't have let her remain behind without protection. When Kahlan had insisted she had Zedd, the Seeker had given her his damned roundabout explanation that only fueled his reasoning even more. A solid, valid argument that she had found no holes to poke through.
"I received word from him three days ago. He was fine then, and he's fine now."
Cara paused, shooting Kahlan a hot glare. "You're sure? How can you be sure? You're here and he's…" her eyes narrowed for a moment, and Kahlan knew she was testing the bond. "He's over seventy leagues from here!"
Inhaling a deep, deep breath, Kahlan rose from her seat. Her soft, white dress flowed around her, her hair falling down around her shoulders bounced as she stepped around to the large window. She gazed past her reflection, out over the expanse of Aydindril, the great city of the Midlands, home to the Mother Confessor, herself. Inland, near the Palace and other vicinities around Kings Row, everything was left untouched. The fortunate were the ones who had more wealth than the rest, capable of affording homes closer to the heart of the vast city.
Further out, near the walls and at the farthest reaches of the city, there used to be nothing but ruin. Now, thanks to the soldiers who remained behind and the many men and woman who had once lived there, now had structures built for their homes. Kahlan had seen to all their funding, willing to provide what they needed and more. She kept their families in the Palace, ashamed of her inability to prevent such a tragedy. Too many lives had already been lost, no more needed to be forfeit.
And while she was here, Richard was out there. Fighting for their freedom and peace, for their lives to be lived as they saw fit, not overshadowed by fear.
He was out there, risking his own life for people he didn't know. But she knew, he did it out of the kindness of his heart. He did it for life, he did it for her.
Oh, how she missed her Richard. Her Seeker.
She missed him coming by to check on her, to see if she needed any help. Kahlan always knew what it meant when he would visit her in her study. There was something about him that threw her into a passionate frenzy, she could never help the urges that surged through her when he was around.
And it just so happened that her administrative quarters were quite enclosed and very much supportive of extracurricular activities that did not involve mounds of paperwork. The thought caused her ears to burn. She could wait for him to return to her.
"I know he's alright because I can feel it. When you come to love someone as much as I love Richard, you'll understand." Smiling to the Mord'Sith in the glasses reflection, she watched the blonde toss her eyes.
"Great. We're relying on feelings again."
"You'd better be careful, yours are starting to show."
- - x - -
"Richard, listen to me, the more you move, the more blood you're going to lose. You need to stay still." The sound of Cara's voice filled his bleeding ears, soothing him with it's familiarity.
The Mord'Sith had joined up with him just as the ambush proved successful. Richard had accomplished what he'd set out to accomplish. Four hundred thousand had paid the price for his three.
The attempt to speak left him hum gurgling and choking on his own blood. He felt hands turning him over, allowing him to vomit the metallic taste from his mouth. Indescribable pain shot through him when he was turned back over, his hands instinctively moving to cover his near fatal wound.
She hushed him, smoothing back his hair as she looked up towards another in the room. Her green eyes fell down to him afterwards, his vision had begun to blur from the excruciating sensation numbing every part of his body in searing agony.
"You couldn't have seen it coming, Richard. None of us did. He was wearing a D'Haran uniform. Luckily, his blade missed your heart but it did a lot of internal damage. So you need to stay still while Nicci helps you."
Richard could do no more than be still, it hurt so much to move. He didn't even remember the attack, he just remembered returning to camp, heavy with the blood of countless soaked into his uniform.
As his eyes closed, he pictured Kahlan, and her beautiful blue eyes. Spirits, he had not seen her in eight months. Her face remained fresh in his memory, the sensual curve of her body permanently pressed to his, even as he slept. The distance between them didn't so much as matter, they were one; heart and soul. Every night, the Seeker told himself that nothing would ever tear them apart. Nothing could break the bond that was their love.
"Kahlan... My Kahlan…" he whispered to the darkness threatening to overcome him. Shadows from all around surrounded him, promising him eternal peace. Each time he felt himself being pulled into their seductive offer, something within him jerked. Why was he resisting such temptation? What kept him from accepting death's inevitable embrace?
As if speaking her name had brought her to him, Richard felt an overwhelming sense of warmth. It wasn't the sticky feel of his own blood, it was the tingling, lingering sensation whenever his Confessor was near, whenever she touched him. Richard would recognize her smell, her touch anywhere. And he felt it now. 'iRichard…/i' it was faint, her voice was so faint, but so clear in his mind. 'iRichard, my Richard… my Seeker, my love./i' He smiled through the twisting pain in his gut, tuned out from the sounds around him, from the agonizing feeling of his wound pulling itself back together, healing by command underneath the powerful Sorceresses touch.
Richard felt only Kahlan. He heard only her as their last moments together played out in his head.
'Richard Cypher, you better not die, you hear me? I will tear the veil and march into the Underworld myself, and you will regret the day you ever thought to die on me. You hear me? And don't think I won't!'
'Well, I can't have you doing that, now can I?'
She always said she could hear the whispering of his heart, calling to hers in times of separation or desperation.
Richard had never heard such a thing.
He never thought ones heart could truly carry a message to another…until now.
- - x - -
She woke with a start, brow soaked in sweat. Not even panting seemed to calm the frantic pounding of her heart. In the empty room, the sounds of her breathing echoed off the walls, returned to her without comfort. The chill in the air swept goose bumps over her skin, though she knew it wasn't the cold that unsettled her.
There was a pain.
An ache throbbing in her breast. Tears fell rapidly as she clutched his tunic to her naked chest.
Kahlan had never wept so profoundly, not since he had left. She longed for him to hold her, to wrap her securely and protectively in his arms. Richard always soothed her, chasing away her demons. As a Confessor, she had never known this type of security and love. She always thought the power was a burden, not allowing her to be close to the people she cared about the most.
But when Richard left, she understood why most Confessor's preferred a mate to a lover.
Her heart yearned for him, fueling the tears.
She knew something was wrong.
She felt it.
Her heart whispered it to her, he was hurt. Every beat was met with hardened realization.
"Richard… My Richard…" she whispered, and it was if she'd heard his voice whispering her name in return. It gave her hope, hope she clung to.
Seeking out the journey book tucked safely beneath her pillow, Kahlan reached over for the quill and crimson ink that was fresh from the last message she'd sent to him laying on her nightstand.
It had been days since she'd gotten a response from him. Whenever he found the time, he would write to her. When she wasn't busy dealing with the council or taking Confessions, or seeing to whatever else needed her undivided attention, Kahlan spent her time in their room, laying in nothing but his old woods-worn tunic. It was the only thing that kept her from falling apart, and she lived for the days when Richard would be available to reply to her.
It was those nights that neither of them got any sleep. It often left her feeling guilty, she knew he was exhausted. Eight months at War, and there seemed to be no end in sight. They had quite the formidable foe. But she missed him. She missed him more than anything, and nothing hurt so bad as being apart from him.
Kahlan did not think she could live in a world without Richard. She didn't want to, and thought that if anything were to happen to him, then her heart would give out.
They needed each other.
She needed him.
Focusing her thoughts and wiping at her tears with the backs of her hands, Kahlan set the quill to the book. Her writing came out sloppier than usual, but there was nothing to be done about the trembling in her hands.
'I need you to be safe, my Richard.'
Letting the quill lay safely in the crease of the book, Kahlan clutched the loose folds of the tunic closed as she stood. The carpet was soft against her feet, but the stone when she reached it was cold to the touch. Moving to the window, she could see small white flakes beginning to make their decent from the sky.
Winter was finally here.
"Please," she whispered, "Spirits bring him back to me."
- - x - -
Richard read her words over and over, tracing the lines with his fingers. The message was at least a month old. So much had happened since his injury which had kept him laid up for nearly two weeks.
The incident served as moral, and a sweep of the entire army was performed. It had gone swiftly in the time that he was held up in Nicci's quarters. The Sorceress herself had tended to him day and night, and she'd even dealt with the infiltrators once they'd all be caught and rallied. Richard never wanted to think about what had been done to them. Nicci was a fearsome Sorceress, she alone gave them a large boost on the advantage front. For every one man one of his men killed, Nicci killed one hundred more. He was glad she was on their side and not fighting against them, or he was sure this would be one fight they could not win.
But, the Spirits proved to be on their side. Richard sat now in front of an open fire, surrounded by his men. Unlike the time before when he'd sat in front of a fire, surrounded by his men, this time the noise enveloping him was a cheerful, jolly celebration. There was hooting and laughing and many sleeping peacefully while their brothers carried on.
Richard had told them it was their right to. After a year of fighting, they had finally conquered their enemy.
Richard couldn't have gone on, he thought he was going to die countless times. But whenever he did, he heard Kahlan call his name. It was faint, like a whisper, but it was there. She called to him in times of trouble, alerting him to threats coming from behind or above, or below.
She called to him at night, he could feel her warmth as he lay down. Closing his eyes, he could smell her scent, and hear the quiet sound of his name leave her lips.
Smiling at the thought of his wife, Richard grabbed the quill at his feet and dabbed it into an ink bottle of his blood.
'I'm safe, my Kahlan.'
- - x - -
"Richard," she whispered, clutching his hair between her fingers as she arched beneath him.
His lips refused to still themselves against the curve of her neck, his hands moving slowly beneath his blue tunic that she claimed to have worn every night for the past year. His touch ghosted away from the places she desired him the most, earning a disappointed groan.
"Richard… Please…" His head dipped then, covering the expanse of her throat in warm, wet kisses. His tongue moved along her collarbone, and further, his whiskers lightly brushing against her skin as he followed the deep V of the shirt. Due to their activities, the tunic was barely covering her breasts, and Richard seemed to enjoy the ease of access. It was much better than having to untie a corset, she was sure.
Kahlan's head fell back when his lips found her nipple. She clutched his shoulders, afraid to let go, afraid that he might not be here when she opened her eyes.
If this were a dream, spirits, she never wanted to wake again.
She did, open them, however, when the shirt began to lift from her overheating body. The warm summer breeze that blew in from the open balcony doors ignited an even hotter fire beneath her skin, sending a blazing trail of goose bumps as she stared up at the dark eyes taking her in.
"Less staring and more-" she laughed as he cut her off with his mouth, his tongue working hers fervently. She busied her hands with undoing the laces of his pants, and soon he was kicking them off, shifting his strong, muscular form above hers. Her knees opened, legs spreading widely in earnest invitation.
"iKahlan/i," he whispered, running his hand down the side of her throat, feeling the sensual curve of her breast as he passed down over her smooth stomach, disappearing between their bodies and her legs. "Kahlan." he said her name again, huskier than before.
"Richard, oh Richard, Richard… Richard…" Tiny moans quickly evolved into chants, she strained to refrain from screaming as his fingers massaged her folds and teased the aching bundle of nerves. When he said he wanted to be reacquainted with every part of her, she hadn't dreamed it would feel as good as it felt.
"I love you, my Kahlan." he whispered, remembering all the times her heart had saved him by doing the same.
"And I you, my Richard." she whispered in return, hooking her soft legs around him, wrapping him in a tight cocoon as he finally pushed up into her. She knew then, he would always come back to her.