Except what isn't lost is Kahlan Amnell. Following an inner prompting beyond all reason, the last Confessor will wager everything on a final desperate gambit, and in so doing, she will change the world forever.
Terry Goodkind's Warheart is the direct sequel to, and the conclusion of, the story begun in The Omen Machine, The Third Kingdom, and Severed Souls.
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About the Author
Goodkind was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, where he also attended art school. Alongside a career in wildlife art, he was also a cabinetmaker and a violin maker, and did restoration work on rare and exotic artifacts from around the world. In the 1990s he relocated to Nevada, where, when not writing novels, he was a racing-car enthusiast.
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By Terry Goodkind
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2015 Terry Goodkind
All rights reserved.
Feeling hot and light-headed, Kahlan stiffened her back as she stood at the head of the funeral pyre, staring down at Richard's body laid out before her. The light mist and fitful drizzle felt cold on her face, like ice against the grief burning inside her. Wet cobblestones glistened in the late-day light. Irregular pools of standing water reflected parts of the citadel rising up beyond and the stone guard tower nearby, with the occasional tears of rain distorting those reflections.
Although the mist and bouts of rain had soaked the neatly stacked wood of the pyre, she knew that it would burn. Thick layers of pitch had been slathered over the lower planks so that once the torches were tossed in, the entire stack would ignite and burn hot, even in the drizzle, and Richard's worldly remains would be consumed in the flames.
Kahlan's hopes and dreams would be consumed in them as well.
Everyone's hopes and dreams would be turned to ashes.
The dozen men ringing the funeral pyre had but to toss their torches into the wood and it would be over.
Everything would be over–for her, and for everyone.
The dozen grim soldiers gripping the torches all stood at attention, but their gazes were on her. None of these men of the First File, the Lord Rahl's personal guard, would be the one to decide to toss his torch and ignite the funeral pyre. It was up to her alone, the Mother Confessor–Richard's wife–to give the order.
The morning was dead silent but for the low hiss of those torches. Their flames spit and popped as they wavered gently in the damp breath of a breeze, as if waiting impatiently for her to give the word so they could be freed to get on with their grisly work.
Beyond the soldiers holding the torches, no one in the gathered crowd made a sound. Most shed tears silently.
Kahlan, standing at Richard's head, stared down at the handsome face of the man she loved. She hated seeing him still in death. She had feared for his life any number of times, but she had never once imagined one day standing over him laid out on a funeral pyre.
They had dressed him in a black shirt and over that a black, open-sided tunic bordered with a gold band decorated with symbols. The wide, multilayered leather belt that cinched the magnificent tunic at his waist bore the same sort of symbols, many in what she now knew to be the language of Creation. At each wrist crossed over his stilled heart he wore wide, leather-padded silver bands engraved with yet more of the ancient symbols. A cape hooked to his broad shoulders, appearing to be nothing so much as spun gold, lay spread under him so that it looked as if he were an offering being presented to the good spirits.
Where had those good spirits been when she needed them most?
Even as she asked the question, though, she knew that the concerns of the world of life were not the concerns of the spirits. The concerns of the living were those of the living alone.
A glimmer of light reflected off the bloodred stone in the center of the ancient amulet Richard wore on a chain around his neck. Intricate lines of silver surrounding the stone represented the dance with death. The amulet had been made by Baraccus, the war wizard at the time Emperor Sulachan had started the great war. The amulet, like the dance with death itself, had meaning to a war wizard. Richard, likely fated to be the last war wizard, was now laid out in the same, traditional outfit of that calling.
The only thing missing was the tooled-leather baldric with the magnificent gold-and-silver-wrought scabbard that held the Sword of Truth. But that weapon was not really a traditional part of a war wizard's outfit. That ancient weapon had now fallen to Kahlan's care.
She remembered the day Zedd had given Richard the sword and named him the Seeker of Truth. She remembered Zedd pledging his life in defense of the Seeker. It was an oath he had kept.
Kahlan remembered falling to her knees in front of Richard that day as well, head bowed, hands held behind her back as she, too, had pledged her life in defense of the Seeker.
A brief smile ghosted across her face when she remembered Richard's astonished expression as he had asked Zedd what a Seeker was.
That was so long ago, and Richard had come to learn and discover so much. He was the first since the ancient weapon's creation to fully comprehend what a Seeker was and the true meaning of the weapon entrusted to him. He was, in fact, the Seeker in every way.
There could never be another.
Kahlan had wielded the weapon in anger enough times to have an understanding of its power, but she was not its master. Richard was the sword's master. He was bonded to the blade.
Nicci, the sorceress who had stopped Richard's heart to end his life so he could go beyond the veil of life and bring Kahlan back from death itself, stood behind her to her left, the cowl of her cloak pulled up over her head to protect her from the drizzle. Even so, droplets of water formed at the sodden tips of her long blond hair. Tears dripped from her jaw. The woman bore the agony of knowing that Richard, a man she loved but could never have, had died by her hand, even if it was by his command.
Three Mord-Sith–Cassia, Laurin, and Vale–stood behind Kahlan to her right. Richard had only just freed them from bondage. Once free, they had chosen to serve and protect him. It had been the first choice they had made of their own free will since they had been girls. They had made the choice out of love and respect for a man they had only just come to know, and who was now gone.
None of the people gathered in the square spoke as they waited for the imminent conflagration that would consume Richard's worldly form. This was the Lord Rahl, the Seeker, and Kahlan's husband. This was her order to give and none wanted to rush that order.
Everyone seemed to be holding their breath in disbelief at the finality of their beloved leader's death.
Because his body had been preserved with occult magic, Richard looked as if he was merely asleep and might at any moment wake and sit up. But even though his body had been preserved as it had been in life, the life was gone from him. This was an empty shell. His spirit was now beyond the veil in the underworld, being dragged down into eternal night by the demons of the dark.
Kahlan allowed herself to fantasize for just a moment that it wasn't so, that he would wake, smile, and say her name.
But it was a fleeting, empty wish that only made her misery all the more cutting.
As she stood, trembling slightly, she watched the mist on Richard's face gather into droplets that from time to time ran across his brow or down his cheek. It almost looked like he, too, was shedding a tear.
Kahlan reached out and ran her fingers lovingly through his wet hair.
How could she say good-bye to him?
How could she give the order to ignite the pyre?
Everyone was waiting.
She knew that dark, worldly forces would be coming to try to steal his body. Sulachan would want it for his own unholy use.
How could she not release the man she loved more than life itself into the flames that would protect him?CHAPTER 2
The soldiers waited for Kahlan's order, not wanting her to give that order, yet knowing that she must.
She felt panic swelling in her at the thought of being the one to do so, of never being able to forget the moment of giving such a terrible command.
But she knew that it was what Richard would have wanted. He had done the same for Zedd. Richard had told her at the time that he couldn't stand the thought of animals digging up his grandfather's corpse.
Now there were animals in human form loose in the world.
It was up to the living, to those he'd left behind, to those who loved him, to care for his worldly remains. His ancestors, almost every Lord Rahl before Richard, had been entombed in ornate vaults in the lower reaches of the People's Palace, their ancestral home.
But with Emperor Sulachan and his armies of half people and reanimated dead rampaging across the land, Kahlan didn't want there to be any chance for the enemy to capture the palace and exhume Richard's body as a trophy, or worse. Hannis Arc had used Richard's blood to reanimate the corpse of Emperor Sulachan. Kahlan didn't want to think of what they might do with Richard's body if they could get their hands on it.
Kahlan couldn't allow any chance of that happening to her husband's remains. It was up to her to see to it that nothing remained of him in this world.
There was only one way to make sure she had done the most loving thing she could do, now, and that was to let the flames consume him. She had but to give the word and it would be done.
So then why couldn't she?
Kahlan's mind raced in a thousand different directions, trying to find a way out of doing her duty, trying to think of a reason not to give that order to toss the torches on the pyre.
She could think of none.
In hopeless despair, she went to her knees, pushed the hood of her cloak back, placed her hands on Richard's shoulders, and bowed her head.
"Master Rahl guide us," she whispered as everyone silently watched her give the ancient devotion to the Lord Rahl. "Master Rahl protect us. In your light we thrive. In your mercy we are sheltered. In your wisdom we are humbled. We live only to serve. Our lives are yours."
Her words echoed back to her as she knelt there in the wet square, her trembling hands on Richard's shoulders.
No one joined her in the devotion. They knew that, this time, it was hers alone to give. It was her good-bye.
Tears ran down her cheeks, through the cold specks of mist and dots of rain, to drip off her face. Sucking back a sob before it could escape her restraint, she finally rose to her feet and took on a Confessor's face that revealed nothing of her inner torment.
When Kahlan looked up, she saw through a gap between the soldiers gathered in the square the distant figure of Hunter sitting quietly on his haunches at the edge of the dark woods. Even at that distance, she could see that Hunter's green eyes were fixed on her.
The catlike creature didn't look the least bit bothered by the drizzle. It ran off his thick fur like water off a duck.
Kahlan looked down again at the only man she had ever loved. Still wearing her Confessor face, she cupped a hand to Richard's cold cheek. Even though his flesh was cold, the magic kept it as soft as it had been in life.
In a way, her own face was like his: still, calm, and showing no emotion.
Richard's soul was now on the eternal journey. She had seen it descending into the darkness, weighed down by the demons of the underworld, their wings wrapped tightly around him. At the time she had been dead as well, or at least on the journey into death. The demons of the dark had been dragging her down into eternal night, away from the lines of the Grace, but Richard passed through the veil to the underworld and drew them away. Once he had pulled them away from her, Kahlan's soul, that mysterious element within the Grace, had been able to return to her body in the world of life.
Though a knife had been plunged through Kahlan's heart, Nicci had been able to heal the damage, and Kahlan's soul had returned in time. Returned because Richard had sacrificed his own life to come after her and save her in time.
Kahlan frowned at the thought ... in time.
There was no such thing as time in the eternity of the underworld. Time only mattered in the world of life.
Was it possible that Richard still carried with him the spark of life, as she had–the balance to the deadly poison that had touched them both? Was it possible that after all this time he still carried that connection to the world of life, even as he journeyed ever farther into the eternal, timeless world of the dead?
How long could that spark, that connection, exist in such a place? Especially if his worldly form was still preserved by occult magic so that it remained as it had been at the moment of his death? The decomposition of his body had been prevented by magic involving the timeless element of the underworld. In that way, it was in a sense still connected to his soul.
Richard had removed the poisonous taint of death from her, drawn away the demons, and used her spark of life to send her along the lines of the Grace back from the underworld to the world of the living. They hadn't used occult magic to preserve her, but they hadn't needed to because she had only just died. It had seemed an eternity in the underworld, but in the world of life it had been only a brief time.
Richard had been dead for a considerable time, but that had meaning only in the world of life. Time had been suspended for his worldly form by elements of the underworld, where his soul had gone, and in the underworld time did not exist as such.
What if there was a way?
Kahlan glanced up at Hunter watching her from the distance.
She had thought that Red, the witch woman, had sent Hunter as a gesture of condolence.
What if Kahlan was wrong, and that had not been the reason Red had sent Hunter?
Somehow, it was all beginning to make a crazy kind of sense. A Richard kind of sense. His ideas often seemed crazy at first, only to turn out to be true. What if what she was thinking was one of those impossible, crazy kinds of ideas that were actually true?
She was Richard's only hope, now. He had no one but her to find a way. No one but her to fight for him.
Kahlan knew that if there really was a chance, any chance at all to bring him back, no matter how crazy it might seem, she was the one who had to find it.
"I have to go," she whispered.
She turned suddenly to Nicci and said aloud, "I have to go."
Nicci, her brow bunched, looked up from her silent weeping. "What? Go where?"
"I have to go see the witch woman."
Nicci's frown deepened at the urgency in Kahlan's voice.
Kahlan looked at Hunter, then looked back and met the sorceress's gaze. "One of love's desperate acts."CHAPTER 3
Kahlan ran to the closest of the soldiers holding a torch. She put her hands over his big fists around the torch and pushed him back.
"No. We can't do this. Extinguish the torches." She looked around at the others, her voice rising. "All of you! Put them out!"
Everyone looked confused, but the dozen men with the torches looked more relieved than anything. They carried the hissing, crackling torches, flames flapping, back away from the pyre lest they accidentally ignite it, then doused them in buckets of water. The flames fizzed and popped and sputtered in protest, but finally went out.
Only then did Kahlan sigh with relief.
Nicci put a hand on Kahlan's shoulder, turning her back. "What desperate act are you talking about?"
Kahlan ignored the sorceress and pointed in command up at the citadel for all the soldiers watching her to see.
"Carry Richard back up to the bedroom where he was. Place him back on the bed. Be careful with him."
Without questioning the strange request, the big men of the First File all clapped fists to hearts.
Kahlan turned her attention to Commander Fister when he rushed up in front of his men. "Mother Confessor, what–"
"Have the room guarded. No one but the First File goes in, not even staff. Have the citadel guarded until I can get back."
He gave her a nod. "It will be done, Mother Confessor."
"Kahlan, what's going on?" Nicci asked under her breath.
Kahlan glanced off at Hunter, sitting at the edge of the dark wood. She looked off above the trees to the distant mountains that looked like gray phantoms floating in the hazy light. Somewhere back there in those mountains was a pass where the witch woman lived.
"I have to go find Red, the witch woman," Kahlan told her again.
Nicci glanced toward the mountains. "Why would you want to find a witch woman? Why now, of all times?"
Kahlan's gaze met Nicci's blue eyes. "Witch women can see things in the flow of time. They can see events."
"They can certainly make it seem that way at times," Nicci agreed, "but so can a fortune-teller. They will tell you most anything you want to hear for a silver coin. Exactly what you want to hear and make it sound convincing if the coin is gold."
"Witch women don't ask for silver or gold."
Nicci looked sympathetic. "That doesn't mean the things they see really turn out to be true."
Excerpted from Warheart by Terry Goodkind. Copyright © 2015 Terry Goodkind. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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