Faith of the Fallen by Terry Goodkind
The author and publisher have provided this e-book to you without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied so that you can enjoy reading it on your personal devices. This e-book is for your personal use only. You may not print or post this e-book, or make this e-book publicly available in any way. You may not copy, reproduce or upload this e-book, other than to read it on one of your personal devices.
Copyright infringement is against the law. If you believe the copy of this e-book you are reading infringes on the author’s copyright, please notify the publisher at: us.macmillanusa.com/piracy.
To Russell Galen,
my first true fan,
for his steadfast faith in me
About the Author
Tor books by Terry Goodkind
She didn’t remember dying.
With an obscure sense of apprehension, she wondered if the distant angry voices drifting in to her meant she was again about to experience that transcendent ending: death.
There was absolutely nothing she could do about it if she was.
While she didn’t remember dying, she dimly recalled, at some later point, solemn whispers saying that she had, saying that death had taken her, but that he had pressed his mouth over hers and filled her stilled lungs with his breath, his life, and in so doing had rekindled hers. She had had no idea who it was that spoke of such an inconceivable feat, or who “he” was.
That first night, when she had perceived the distant, disembodied voices as little more than a vague notion, she had grasped that there were people around her who didn’t believe, even though she was again living, that she would remain alive through the rest of the night. But now she knew she had; she had remained alive many more nights, perhaps in answer to desperate prayers and earnest oaths whispered over her that first night.
But if she didn’t remember the dying, she remembered the pain before passing into that great oblivion. The pain, she never forgot. She remembered fighting alone and savagely against all those men, men baring their teeth like a pack of wild hounds with a hare. She remembered the rain of brutal blows driving her to the ground, heavy boots slamming into her once she was there, and the sharp snap of bones. She remembered the blood, so much blood, on their fists, on their boots. She remembered the searing terror of having no breath to gasp at the agony, no breath to cry out against the crushing weight of hurt.
Sometime after—whether hours or days, she didn’t know—when she was lying under clean sheets in an unfamiliar bed and had looked up into his gray eyes, she knew that, for some, the world reserved pain worse than she had suffered.
She didn’t know his name. The profound anguish so apparent in his eyes told her beyond doubt that she should have. More than her own name, more than life itself, she knew she should have known his name, but she didn’t. Nothing had ever shamed her more.
Thereafter, whenever her own eyes were closed, she saw his, saw not only the helpless suffering in them but also the light of such fierce hope as could only be kindled by righteous love. Somewhere, even in the worst of the darkness blanketing her mind, she refused to let the light in his eyes be extinguished by her failure to will herself to live.
At some point, she remembered his name. Most of the time, she remembered it. Sometimes, she didn’t. Sometimes, when pain smothered her, she forgot even her own name.
Now, as Kahlan heard men growling his name, she knew it, she knew him. With tenacious resolution she clung to that name—Richard—and to her memory of him, of who he was, of everything he meant to her.
Even later, when people had feared she would yet die, she knew she would live. She had to, for Richard, her husband. For the child she carried in her womb. His child. Their child.
The sounds of angry men calling Richard by name at last tugged Kahlan’s eyes open. She squinted against the agony that had been tempered, if not banished, while in the cocoon of sleep. She was greeted by a blush of amber light filling the small room around her. Since the light wasn’t bright, she reasoned that there must be a covering over a window muting the sunlight, or maybe it was dusk. Whenever she woke, as now, she not only had no sense of time, but no sense of how long she had been asleep.
She worked her tongue against the pasty dryness in her mouth. Her body felt leaden with the thick, lingering slumber. She was as nauseated as the time when she was little and had eaten three candy green apples before a boat journey on a hot, windy day. It was hot like that now: summer hot. She struggled to rouse herself fully, but her awaking awareness seemed adrift, bobbing in a vast shadowy sea. Her stomach roiled. She suddenly had to put all her mental effort into not throwing up. She knew all too well that in her present condition, few things hurt more than vomiting. Her eyelids sagged closed again, and she foundered to a place darker yet.
She caught herself, forced her thoughts to the surface, and willed her eyes open again. She remembered: they gave her herbs to dull the pain and to help her sleep. Richard knew a good deal about herbs. At least the herbs helped her drift into stuporous sleep. The pain, if not as sharp, still found her there.
Slowly, carefully, so as not to twist what felt like double-edged daggers skewered here and there between her ribs, she drew a deeper breath. The fragrance of balsam and pine filled her lungs, helping to settle her stomach. It was not the aroma of trees among other smells in the forest, among damp dirt and toadstools and cinnamon ferns, but the redolence of trees freshly felled and limbed. She concentrated on focusing her sight and saw beyond the foot of the bed a wall of pale, newly peeled timber, here and there oozing sap from fresh axe cuts. The wood looked to have been split and hewn in haste, yet its tight fit betrayed a precision only knowledge and experience could bestow.
The room was tiny; in the Confessors’ Palace, where she had grown up, a room this small would not have qualified as a closet for
Beyond the foot of the bed, she spotted a carving of a bird in flight. It had been sculpted with a few sure strokes of a knife into a log of the wall on a flat spot only a little bigger than her hand. Richard had given her something to look at. On occasion, sitting around a campfire, she had watched him casually carve a face or an animal from a scrap of wood. The bird, soaring on wings spread wide as it watched over her, conveyed a sense of freedom.
Turning her eyes to the right, she saw a brown wool blanket hanging over the doorway. From beyond the doorway came fragments of angry, threatening voices.
“It’s not by our choice, Richard…. We have our own families to think about…wives and children…”
Wanting to know what was going on, Kahlan tried to push herself up onto her left elbow. Somehow, her arm didn’t work the way she had expected it to. Like a bolt of lightning, pain blasted up the marrow of her bone and exploded through her shoulder.
Gasping against the racking agony of attempted movement, she dropped back before she had managed to lift her shoulder an inch off the bed. Her panting twisted the daggers piercing her sides. She had to will herself to slow her breathing in order to get the stabbing pain under control. As the worst of the torment in her arm and the stitches in her ribs eased, she finally let out a soft moan.
With calculated calm, she gazed down the length of her left arm. The arm was splinted. As soon as she saw it, she remembered that of course it was. She reproached herself for not thinking of it before she had tried to put weight on it. The herbs, she knew, were making her thinking fuzzy. Fearing to make another careless movement, and since she couldn’t sit up, she focused her effort on forcing clarity into her mind.
She cautiously reached up with her right hand and wiped her fingers across the bloom of sweat on her brow, sweat sown by the flash of pain. Her right shoulder socket hurt, but it worked well enough. She was pleased by that triumph, at least. She touched her puffy eyes, understanding then why it had hurt to look toward the door. Gingerly, her fingers explored a foreign landscape of swollen flesh. Her imagination colored it a ghastly black-and-blue. When her fingers brushed cuts on her cheek, hot embers seemed to sear raw, exposed nerves.
She needed no mirror to know she was a terrible sight. She knew, too, how bad it was whenever she looked up into Richard’s eyes. She wished she could look good for him if for no other reason than to lift the suffering from his eyes. Reading her thoughts, he would say, “I’m fine. Stop worrying about me and put your mind to getting better.”
With a bittersweet longing, Kahlan recalled lying with Richard, their limbs tangled in delicious exhaustion, his skin hot against hers, his big hand resting on her belly as they caught their breath. It was agony wanting to hold him in her arms again and being unable to do so. She reminded herself that it was only a matter of some time and some healing. They were together and that was what mattered. His mere presence was a restorative.
She heard Richard, beyond the blanket over the door, speaking in a tightly controlled voice, stressing his words as if each had cost him a fortune. “We just need some time…”
The men’s voices were heated and insistent as they all began talking at once. “It’s not because we want to—you should know that, Richard, you know us…. What if it brings trouble here?… We’ve heard about the fighting. You said yourself she’s from the Midlands. We can’t allow…we won’t…”
Kahlan listened, expecting the sound of his sword being drawn. Richard had nearly infinite patience, but little tolerance. Cara, his bodyguard, their friend, was no doubt out there, too; Cara had neither patience nor tolerance.
Instead of drawing his sword, Richard said, “I’m not asking anyone to give me anything. I want only to be left alone in a peaceful place where I can care for her. I wanted to be close to Hartland in case she needed something.” He paused. “Please…just until she has a chance to get better.”
Kahlan wanted to scream at him: No! Don’t you dare beg them, Richard! They have no right to make you beg. They’ve no right! They could never understand the sacrifices you’ve made.
But she could do little more than whisper his name in sorrow.
“Don’t test us…. We’ll burn you out if we have to! You can’t fight us all—we have right on our side.”
The men ranted and swore dark oaths. She expected, now, at last, to hear the sound of his sword being drawn. Instead, in a calm voice, Richard answered the men in words Kahlan couldn’t quite make out. A dreadful quiet settled in.
“It’s not because we like doing this, Richard,” someone finally said in a sheepish voice. “We’ve no choice. We’ve got to consider our own families and everyone else.”
Another man spoke out with righteous indignation. “Besides, you seem to have gotten all high-and-mighty of a sudden, with your fancy clothes and sword, not like you used to be, back when you were a woods guide.”
“That’s right,” said another. “Just because you went off and saw some of the world, that don’t mean you can come back here thinking you’re better than us.”
“I’ve overstepped what you have all decided is my proper place,” Richard said. “Is this what you mean to say?”
“You turned your back on your community, on your roots, as I see it; you think our women aren’t good enough for the great Richard Cypher. No, he had to marry some woman from away. Then you come back here and think to flaunt yourselves over us.”
“How? By doing what? Marrying the woman I love? This, you see as vain? This nullifies my right to live in peace? And takes away her right to heal, to get well and live?”
These men knew him as Richard Cypher, a simple woods guide, not as the person he had discovered he was in truth, and who he had become. He was the same man as before, but in so many ways, they had never known him.
“You ought to be on your knees praying for the Creator to heal your wife,” another man put in. “All of mankind is a wretched and undeserving lot. You ought to pray and ask the Creator’s forgiveness for your evil deeds and sinfulness—that’s what brought your troubles on you and your woman. Instead, you want to bring your troubles among honest working folks. You’ve no right to try to force your sinful troubles on us. That’s not what the Creator wants. You should be thinking of us. The Creator wants you to be humble and to help others—that’s why He struck her down: to teach you both a lesson.”
“Did he tell you this, Albert?” Richard asked. “Does this Creator of yours come to talk with you about his intentions and confide in you his wishes?”
“He talks to anyone who has the proper modest attitude to listen to Him,” Albert fumed.
“Besides,” another man spoke up, “this Imperial Order you warn about has some good things to be said for it. If you weren’t so bullheaded, Richard, you’d see that. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to see everyone treated decent. It’s only being fair minded. It’s only right. Those are the Creator’s wishes, you’ve got to admit, and that’s what the Imperial Order teaches, too. If you can’t see that much good in the Order—well then, you’d best be gone, and soon.”
Kahlan held her breath.
In an ominous tone of voice, Richard said, “So be it.”
These were men Richard knew; he had addressed them by name and reminded them of years and deeds shared. He had been patient with them. Patience finally exhausted, he had reached intolerance.
Horses snorted and stomped, their leather tack creaking, as the men mounted up. “In the morning we’ll be back to burn this place down. We’d better not catch you or yours anywhere near here, or you’ll burn with it.” After a few last curses, the men raced away. The sound of departing hooves hammering the ground rumbled through Kahlan’s back. Even that hurt.
She smiled a small smile for Richard, e
Light splashed across the wall as the blanket over the doorway was thrown back. By the direction and quality of the light, Kahlan guessed it had to be somewhere in the middle of a thinly overcast day. Richard appeared beside her, his tall form towering over her, throwing a slash of shadow across her middle.
He wore a black, sleeveless undershirt, without his shirt or magnificent gold and black tunic, leaving his muscular arms bare. At his left hip, the side toward her, a flash of light glinted off the pommel of his singular sword. His broad shoulders made the room seem even smaller than it had been only a moment before. His cleanshaven face, his strong jaw, and the crisp line of his mouth perfectly complemented his powerful form. His hair, a color somewhere between blond and brown, brushed the nape of his neck. But it was the intelligence so clearly evident in those penetrating gray eyes of his that from the first had riveted her attention.
“Richard,” Kahlan whispered, “I won’t have you begging on my account.”