Richard and Kahlan sprint back toward the Mud bro’s main square and fine Siddin, holding the pouch with the night stone in it. They run for him but of course he takes the stone out, and “shadow things” instantly appear. Richard starts hacking them up while Kahlan runs (very slowly) toward Siddin to try and get him to put the stone back in its pouch.
Let’s take a moment and remember why exactly this is happening.
Adie gave Richard the stone so he could use its light to get through the boundary. She knew full well that the thing is extremely dangerous and decided that the best course of action would be to not tell him this, reasoning that that might make him afraid to use it and he could end up dying as a result (it appears not to have occurred to her that not knowing the night stone is dangerous could just as easily get him killed). Don’t worry though, she gave him an extremely vague riddle, reasoning that he would figure out its meaning precisely as soon as taking the night stone out would be dangerous but not before.
At first glance this looks like a giant clusterfuck of contrived plot points designed to lead the story in a certain direction, but it’s actually just an extension of the I AM THE SEEKER VICTORY AT ANY COST RRAAARRRRR thing that’s been going on for a while now. Richard had to get through the pass, you see, and so it doesn’t matter whether the means by which he did that are potentially dangerous to innocent bystanders. If Siddin ends up kicking the bucket Richard and Kahlan could easily absolve themselves of all responsibility just like they did with leaving the Mud Mros to die- they have to stop Darken Rahl and absolutely anything, up to and including murdering children, is totally fine if it serves that goal. Getting an innocent person killed by accident really should be no big deal to them.
(Also all that angsting from Kahlan about killing Siddin is sure coming back to haunt her now, huh?)
During all of this the Mud Bros have been enthusiastically firing poison arrows at the shadows, almost killing Kahlan and Richard in the process since they sail right through them. Kahlan tells the Bird Man to order them to stop, which he does, but then one of the elders gets it in mind that the shadows are actually sacred spirits or something.
“Stop them! They are destroying our ancestors’ spirits! Shoot them with your arrows! Shoot theoutsiders!”
Hesitantly, looking at one another, the archers nocked arrows to their bows once again. They could not disobey one of the elders.
Okay seriously, we were told just two chapters ago that the elders are only figureheads and the Bird Man is actually the head honcho, why are they suddenly calling the shots?
The good news about all of this is that Kahlan finally gets to actually do something when the elder who was getting cranky runs at her with a knife. She hesitates before confessoring him, getting an arm wound for her trouble, which motivates her to go Full Confessor at last.
Her left hand came up and caught Toffalar by the throat. She felt her grip shut off his air for an instant. She needed only to touch him; grabbing him by the throat was a reflex of her rage, not her power.
GUYS KAHLAN IS ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING
Toffalar’s eyes went wide. The muscles of his face went slack. His mouth fell open.
“Mistress!” he called out in a reverent whisper.
So Kahlan has mind control powers. I’m not…. entirely sure why this is so shocking, surely Richard or Zedd are far more potentially destructive.
Instead of using this for anything interesting Kahlan just flings him into the shadows, opening enough of a gap to let her squeeze through and throw herself over Siddin.
Kahlan now needs to get the stone back in the bag, so naturally everything goes wrong in the most cartoonish way possible- Siddin just sits there clutching at it stiffly, apparently unable to hear her yelling at him to drop the stone (as opposed to dropping it and cowering on the ground) and then it shoots out of Kahlan’s hand in a way that’s just begging for a Yakety Sax accompaniment.
But she manages to get it back in the bag in the end, and the shadows go bye-bye.
“Kahlan, ” Siddin whimpered, “they were calling my name. “
So? If that happened to me my first reaction would be AAAAGGGGH HOLY FUCK THERE ARE EVIL GHOSTS CALLING ME NAME and not wooooooaaahhhh I’m just going to, like, stare at them for a while.
Okay, yes, he was probably being mesmerized like Richard was back at the pass, but this all feels so contrived I don’t care.
They had almost lost their lives, to save a single one.
Ayn Rand is spinning in her grave.
Kahlan admits to herself that this pretty much refutes their earlier determination to be hard-hearted objectivist badasses. In an ordinary book this would be the moment where they realize how stupid they were being, but given what I know about Terry Goodkind I’m betting it’s played up as a moment of weakness.
Kahlan lays a comforting hand on Richard’s dudely thews and he very nearly cuts her head off, supposedly because he thought she was a shadow but probably actually because he saw her confessoring. I’m surprised he wasn’t too busy swinging his sword around to notice.
She put her face against her knees and, losing control, started crying
It was the Bird Man. She bit her quivering lip, forcing herself to stop crying. She could not let these people see her showing weakness.
What about the hugfest with the Birdman earlier, that happened in public in full view of the whole village?
Anyway since what’s-his-face the elder was killed by Kahlan Savidlin gets to be an elder now, which sure would be a good thing if we weren’t directly told the elders don’t actually have any power why does the book seem to have forgotten that?
Savidlin is all “Richard and Kahlan are awesome because they protected us” and for some reason don’t think to to ask where the shadows actually came from or how Kahlan knew how to get rid of them. I have t imagine he might not feel so positive about them, considering their careless handlinf of the night stone almost got his son killed.
They could have left us to fend for ourselves when we foolishly turned our backs on them
That’s what they were in the middle of doing.
Instead, they have shown us what manner of people they be
The Bird Man says that the vote from the elders has to be unanimous (for some reason) and asks them to step forward and vote.
So then Savidlin holds the elders at arrow-point and orders them to vote in agreement with him. NO ONE PROTESTS THIS.
What the fuck.
One of the elders convinces him to lower the bow and supposedly they all whole-heartedly agree that Richard and Kahlan are way awesome and better Mud Bros than they’ll ever be. Hey kids, you know what a rigged election looks like? This.
Kahlan could see the muscle in his jaw tighten and flex. She went cold. She recognized the look in his eyes. The anger. These men had crossed a line against him. And against her. She remembered how he had slid the sword away when he had last stood with them, this very day. It had been final, and Richard meant it. He was not thinking. He was thinking of killing.
Just….. god damn.
Apparently under Mud Bro law it’s actually legal for Richard to kill them because blah blah blah I don’t give a fuck.
Even so, their law was irrelevant; the Seeker was a law unto himself, answering ultimately to no one but himself. There was no one present who could stop this.
Yeah, that’s not a bullshit power fantasy or anything.
Richard was not deciding if he should kill them, but if he dared let them live.
Could he trust these men with his chance of stopping Rahl, trust that they were sincere? Could Richardtrust them with his life? Or should he have a new council of elders, ones who might be more intent on his success?
If he couldn’t trust these men to send him in the right direction against Rahl, he would have to kill them and have ones he thought would be on his side. Stopping Rahl was all that mattered. The lives of these men must be forfeited if there was a chance they would jeopardize success. Kahlan knew that what Richard was doing was right. It was no less than she herself would do, no less than what the Seeker must do.
Well then, the Seeker is evil.
No, seriously. I get that he’s trying to save the world and shit, but the way him and Kahlan are going they’re liable to leave behind a trail of murdered and orphaned children in their wake. The absolute only way this makes any kind of sense is if we’re meant to interpret Richard as a monster achieving a Pyrrhic victory that ultimately leaves him no worse than Darken Rahl.
I seriously doubt the story is going to go in anything like that direction.
Needless to say Kahlan’s focus is all on how hard this is on poor Richard-chan and oh what a poor baby because he has to think about hacking old men apart as they kneel in the mud.
This was no game; he meant this. He was lost within himself, within the magic.
Right, Kahlan. It’s “the magic” that’s making him act like a murderous psychopath. That’s why he never questions his actions.
Richard slices open his own arm and starts talking to his sword (“Blade, be true this day”) then starts to bring the sword down on one of the Elder’s heads, but it stops inches from his face.
The sword stopped dead in the air, a scant inch from Caldus’s face, just as it had stopped the first time Richard had used it, when Zedd had him try to cut down the tree.
Oh that’s right, I forgot he can’t kill something unless he thinks it’s evil.
Or in other words he can’t kill something unless he decides he wants to kill it. Good to know there’s a safety mechanism in place.
“Richard,” she said in a low voice, “did you expect the sword to stop?”
He looked ahead as he walked, letting out a deep breath. “No.”
She had thought as much. She tried to imagine what this was doing to him. Even if he hadn’t executed the elders, he had committed to it, expected it. Though he didn’t have to live with the deed, he still had to live with the intent.
Oh the poor baby
She wondered if he had done the right thing, not killing them. She knew what she would have done in his place; she would not have allowed the option of clemency. Too much was at stake.
Keep in mind the elder’s “crime” was just to not give Richard what he wanted. Behind all the bullshit justifications this is just Richard sidling up to some people minding their own business and saying “help me or I’ll kill you.”
Richard says that Kahlan “gave him a fright” when she almost died and she’s immediately completely and utterly heartbroken and filled with shame about hesitating to confessor the elder earlier, which frankly makes it sounds like she’s got some fairly major self-esteem issues.
The Bird Man says that Richard and Kahlan have to respect the Mud Bro’s ways if they’re going to become honorary Mud bros. Since all interactions in this book that aren’t twee smiling the smile of sharing involve near-murder, Kahlan and the Bird Man stare grimly at each other and Kahlan declares that she does not eat meat.
Though you are a warrior, you are also a woman, therefore it may be excused. That much is within my power. Being a Confessor excludes you from the other.
That’s great dude. I have no idea what you’re talking about.
“Not the Seeker. He must do these things. ”
“But. . .
“You have .said you will not choose him as your mate. If he will call a gathering, it must be as one of us.”
God fucking damn, as soon as he started talking about initiations and shit I knew it was going to go this direction.
Anyway this chapter is another marathon one, so I’m going to skip the waffle.
He [Bird man] left her in the care of a stooped woman named Nissel, instructing her to care for Kahlan as if she were his daughter.
But of course. Nissel by the way calls Kahlan “child” and acts as if she’s about twelve at the most, because fantasy.
BLAH BLAH BLAH RELAXING HERBS 4 YE OLDE SURGERY BLAH BLAH GETTING STONED MIGHT MAKE KAHLAN’S POWERS GO OUT OF CONTROL BLAH BLAH CONFESSORS DON’T HAVE SEX
Shall I give him a potion, ” Nissel asked, turning to her, “to give him stamina?”
“No, ” Kahlan said bristling. “I am sure he will do just fine.”
I had a sneak peak at the next chapter and yes, it’s just as stupid as you’re probably imagining.