As the reader discovered in Chainfire , the spell used to make everyone forget Kahlan, Chainfire, was initiated by the Sisters of the Dark, working for the Keeper of the Underworld. Richard reveals that not only the spell but also all magic has been corrupted due to the effects of the chimes being in the world. Due to this corruption Kahlan is not invisible to everyone and Jagang uses this fact to continue to control her. Unbeknownst to them, Tovi is dead, stabbed by Samuel and allowed to die after being questioned by Nicci. They stop at the White Horse Inn, and the Sisters are shocked when the innkeeper can see Kahlan and correctly title her.

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Huddled under the small overhang, off to the side, she hoped that no one would answer that knock. She knew, though, that she had no say in the matter. The light of a single lantern flickered weakly through the slender windows to either side of the door, reflecting a pale, shimmering glow off the wet floor of the portico. The sign overhead, hung by two iron rings, grated and squealed each time it swung back and forth in the wind-borne rain.

Kahlan was able to make out the spectral white shape of a horse painted on the dark, wet sign. By the smell of manure and wet hay, she judged that one of the dark buildings nearby had to be a stable. In the sporadic displays of distant lightning, she could just make out the hulking shoulders of dark structures standing like ghosts beyond the billowing sheets of rain. Despite the steady roar of the deluge and the rumble of thunder, it appeared that the village was sound asleep.

Kahlan could think of no better place to be on such a dark and wretched night than bundled up under bed covers, safe and warm. A horse in the nearby stable whinnied when Sister Ulicia knocked a second time, louder, more insistently, evidently intending herself to be heard over the riot of rain, yet not so loud as to sound hostile. Sister Ulicia, a woman given to reckless impulse, seemed to be taking a deliberately restrained approach.

It also might have been nothing more than the random nature of her moods. Neither of the other two Sisters was in any better mood or any less inclined toward losing their temper. Kahlan supposed that soon enough the three of them would be happy and quietly celebrating the reunion.

Lightning flashed close enough that the blinding but halting incandescence briefly revealed a whole street of buildings crowded close around the muddy, rutted road. Thunder boomed through the mountainous countryside and shook the ground beneath their feet.

Kahlan wished that there was something — like the way lightning revealed things otherwise hidden in the obscurity of night — that could help illuminate the hidden memories of her past and bring to light what was concealed by the murky mystery of who she was. She had a fierce longing to be free of the Sisters, a burning desire to live her own life — to know what her life really was.

That much she knew about herself. She knew, too, that her convictions had to be founded in experience. It was obvious to her that there had to be something there — people and events — that had helped make her the woman she was, but try as she might to recall them, they were lost to her. That terrible day she stole the boxes for the Sisters, she had promised herself that someday she would find the truth of who she was, and she would be free.

When Sister Ulicia knocked a third time, a muffled voice came from inside. His bare feet thumped down wooden stairs. A moment, please! Sister Ulicia turned a sullen look on Kahlan. To Kahlan, though, their looks were insignificant in light of their inner nature.

To Kahlan, they were vipers. The door opened a crack. The shadowed face of a man peered out at them as he worked to button up his trousers under his nightshirt.

He moved his head a little to each side so that he could take in the strangers. Judging them to be less than dangerous, he pulled open the door and with a sweeping gesture ushered them inside.

Kahlan froze in midstride. As far as she could recall, such a thing had never happened before. No one but her masters, the four Sisters — the three with her and the one they had come to meet — ever remembered seeing her.

Sister Cecilia shoved Kahlan in ahead of her, apparently not catching the significance of the remark. She tsked at the foul weather as the wind drove a rattle of rain against the windows. The woman, her hair gathered up in a loose bun, lifted her lantern a little as she peered at the late-night guests. Puzzled, she squinted as her gaze swept over the drenched visitors and then back again. Her mouth opened but then she seemed to forget what she had been about to say.

Kahlan had seen that blank look a thousand times and knew that the woman only remembered seeing three callers. No one could ever remember seeing Kahlan long enough to say so. She was as good as invisible. Kahlan noticed a single dark doorway at the back, beside the stairs.

A fireplace made of stacked, flat stones took up most of the wall to the right. The air in the dimly lit room was warm and carried the distractingly enticing aroma of a stew in the iron pot hung from a crane pushed to the side of the hearth.

Hot coals glowed out from under a thick layer of feathery ashes. You must be miserable. Her long white nightdress with ruffled cuffs had a pony stitched in coarse brown thread on the front, with a row of loose strands of dark yarn making up the mane and tail.

The girl sat on the steps to watch, tenting her nightdress over her bony knees. Her grin revealed big teeth that she had yet to grow into. Strangers arriving in the middle of the night apparently was an adventure at the White Horse Inn. Kahlan dearly hoped that that was all there would be to the adventure. Orlan, a big bear of a man, knelt at the hearth, stacking on a few sticks of wood. His thick, stubby fingers made the wedges of oak look to be little more than kindling.

She kept her tone businesslike. Her name is Tovi. She will be expecting us. My husband, Orlan, and I have run the White Horse since his parents passed away, years back. Let me get you some stew. Orlan, get some mugs and fetch these ladies some hot tea. Something was very wrong. Sisters Cecilia and Armina had frozen dead still, their wide eyes fixed on the man.

Kahlan glanced to the stairwell and saw the girl on the steps leaning toward them, gripping the rails, peering out, trying to fathom what her parents were talking about. Her brow drew down in a dark glare as she turned her attention back to the man.

She wanted to stand in the light and be seen — really seen. Such a thing had always seemed an impossible dream, but it had suddenly become a real possibility. That possibility had shaken the three Sisters. Orlan frowned at Sister Ulicia. Holding all four mugs in the grip of one meaty hand, he used his other to point out each visitor standing in his gathering room. Do you all want tea? Her heart felt as if it had come up in her throat. He saw her She leaned toward Sister Ulicia, her eyes darting about.

Never ones to be servile, the two nonetheless showed no evidence of wanting to argue with their stormy leader. In three strong strides Sister Ulicia closed the distance to Orlan.

She seized the collar of his nightshirt in her fist. With her other hand she swished her oak rod in the direction of Kahlan, standing in the shadows back near the door. Kahlan knew without doubt that using such a tone of voice with Sister Ulicia was the wrong thing to do, but the Sister, instead of exploding in a rage, seemed to be just as astonished as Kahlan. Tell me what you see. His features drew tight as he appraised the stranger only he and the Sisters saw standing in the weak light of the lanterns.

Green eyes. A very attractive woman. His slow and deliberate evaluation made Kahlan feel naked. As his gaze roamed over her, he wiped the corner of his mouth with a thumb. She could hear it rasp against his stubble. One of the sticks of wood in the hearth caught flame, brightening the room in its flickering glow, letting him see even more. His gaze wandered upward, and then caught on something. He blinked in surprise.

His eyes widened. He dropped to a knee. She squatted, putting an arm around his shoulders to steady him as he groaned and put a big hand over the bloody wound on the top of his bowed head. His sandy-colored hair turned dark and wet under his fingers. He appeared stunned senseless. Rain pattered against the window while in the distance a slow rumble of thunder rolled through the forested hills.

Kahlan could hear the sign squeaking as it swung to and fro each time the wind gusted. Inside the house it had gone dead silent. Sister Ulicia looked over at the girl, now at the bottom of the steps, where she stood gripping the simple, square, wooden newel post. Sister Ulicia fixed the girl in a glare that only a sorceress in a vile mood could marshal.


Phantom Audiobook – Sword of Truth Book 10



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