Richard rolled onto his back to catch his breath. "Do you suppose we ought to go out there and see what Zedd is up to?"
Kahlan playfully smacked the back of her hand against his ribs. "Why Lord Rahl, I think you really are bored with your new wife. First the chickens, then tava bread, and now your grandfather."
Richard was watching the door again. "I smell blood."
Kahlan sat up. "Probably just some game brought back by a hunting party. If there really was trouble, Richard, we would know about it. We have people guarding us. In fact, we have the whole village watching over us. No one could get past the Mud People hunters unseen. There would at least be an alarm and everyone would know about it."
She wasn't sure if he even heard her. He was stone still, his attention riveted on the door. When Kahlan's fingers glided up his arm and her hand rested lightly on his shoulder, his muscles finally slackened and he turned to her.
"You're right." His smile was apologetic. "I guess I can't seem to let myself relax. "
Nearly her whole life, Kahlan had trod the halls of power and authority. From a young age she had been disciplined in responsibility and obligation, and schooled in the threats that always shadowed her. She was well steeled to it all by the time she had been called upon to lead the alliance of the Midlands.
Richard had grown up very differently, and had gone on to fulfill his passion for his forested homeland by becoming a woods guide. Turmoil, trial, and destiny had thrust him into a new life as leader of the D'Haran Empire. Vigilance was his valuable ally and difficult to dismiss.
She saw his hand idly skim over his clothes. He was looking for his sword. He'd had to travel to the Mud People's village without it.
Countless times, she had seen him absently and without conscious thought reassure himself that it was at hand. It had been his companion for months, through a crucible of change -- both his, and the world's. It was his protector, and he, in turn, was the protector of that singular sword and the post it represented.
In a way, the Sword of Truth was but a talisman. It was the hand wielding the sword that was the power; as the Seeker of Truth, he was the true weapon. In some ways, it was only a symbol of his post, much as the distinctive white dress was a symbol of hers.
Kahlan leaned forward and kissed him. His arms returned to her. She playfully pulled him back down on top of her.
"So, how does it feel being married to the Mother Confessor herself?"
He slipped onto an elbow beside her and gazed down into her eyes. "Wonderful," he murmured. "Wonderful and inspiring. And tiring." With a gentle finger he traced the line of her jaw. "And how does it feel being married to the Lord Rahl?"
A throaty laugh burbled up. "Sticky."
Richard chuckled and stuffed a piece of tava bread in her mouth. He sat up and set the brimming wooden platter down between them. Tava bread, made from tava roots, was a staple of the Mud People. Served with nearly every meal, it was eaten by itself, wrapped around other foods, and used as a scoop for porridge and stews. Dried into biscuits, it was carried on long hunts.
Kahlan yawned as she stretched, feeling relieved that he was no longer preoccupied by what was beyond the door. She kissed his cheek at seeing him once again at ease.
Under a layer of warm tava bread he found roasted peppers, onions, mushroom caps as broad as her hand, turnips, and boiled greens. There were even several rice cakes. Richard took a bite out of a turnip before rolling some of the greens, a mushroom, and a pepper in a piece of tava bread and handing it to her.
In a reflective tone, he said, "I wish we could stay in here forever."
Kahlan pulled the blanket over her lap. She knew what he meant. Outside, the world awaited them.
From Soul of the Fire (Goodkind, Terry. Sword of Truth, Bk. 5.), by Terry Goodkind. Copyright © April 13, 1999 , Terry Goodkind used by permission.
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