Disclaimer: Legend of the Seeker is property of its respective owners. The only thing I can lay claim to is the insanity that is my mind.
It was one of those moments; those terrifying moments where time suddenly seems to crawl and perception grows and you know you're still powerless to stop what is about to happen in slow, agonizingly vivid detail. The Sword of Truth made an almost lyrical sound as it cut through the air toward a defenceless Richard, and through his shock the thought that something so horrible shouldn't sound so beautiful ran through Leo's mind.
He didn't know how this had happened. One minute he and Richard had just begun a new training match – still merely testing each other's defences before moving on to anything serious – when something suddenly overcame Richard and what was supposed to be a feint was swiftly and helplessly turned into a deathblow.
It was wrong. It was unthinkable. It was committed and there was nothing he could do to stop it.
Then he caught a blur of red just before the air was knocked from his lungs and he was sent bodily to the ground, the Sword of Truth freed from his slackened grip and landing tip first in the ground several feet away. As he tried to regain control over his breathing he felt a weight on top of him holding him harshly to the ground and heard the familiar sound of creaking leather. Normally he would enjoy this position, but today he was just grateful. Leo never thought he would be so happy to have a Mord-Sith glare down at him like that.
Her look was so intense that for one brief moment Leo thought she might shove her agiel into his chest and stop his heart. In that moment he wouldn't have minded so long as Richard was safe. Then her weight was gone and she was kneeling at Richard's side, her fingers pressed to his pulse.
“What happened?” Cara asked as she brought her hand away and turned to him. Leo hoped that meant his mentor still had a pulse.
For his part, Richard lay still in the Mother Confessor's arms. Leo couldn't remember hearing him hit the ground so Khalan must have caught Richard as Cara tackled him to the ground. She called Richard's name as she tenderly brushed her hand across a face covered in far more sweat than had been worked up in their match only heartbeats before.
“Leo!” Cara snapped bringing his attention back to her. Right, she had asked a question.
“I don't know what happened,” he told them. “One minute we were sparring like normal. Richard was going easy on me, like normal. Everything was normal. Then, when we were testing our defences, it was like he couldn't lift his arms anymore and was about to collapse. By then I was committed.” Leo closed his eyes as the image of the Sword of Truth slicing through Richard's body drew itself in his mind. “I couldn't stop.”
With a deep breath and Leo willed the image away and stood, moving to reclaim the sword. The moment his hand touched the blade the image of Richard's bloodied body forced itself back into his mind clearer and more vivid then before and the shock of it had Leo stumbling back from the blade. He had nearly killed Richard with this sword, was he really worthy of wielding it? Despite the stories in his family and the assurance of the wizard and confessor that he was the one they were looking for Leo had never really been sure.
But Richard had.
Richard had entrusted him with the Sword of Truth and the title Seeker when he had every right to take them back. Having Richard's blessing had made things seem more real than when he had read the Book of Counted Shadows or having a Wizard of the First Order name him.
No, now was not the time to let doubts touch him. Richard needed him to pick up that sword and see it there was anything he could do to help and that was exactly what Leo was going to do. With a determined step Leo pulled the sword free from the dirt and sheathed it at its proper place at his side and knelt next to his fallen mentor.
“How is he?” Leo asked, though one glance told him the answer couldn't be good.
He watched as Kahlan smoothed Richard's brow, her hand lingering under his bangs. “He's burning up,” she told him without looking up.
“He's nose is bleeding,” Cara said from Richard's other side and Leo shifted his gaze and saw she was right and a thin trail of blood stain his upper lip. He found a similar trail at Richard's ear. Before he could point it out Richard suddenly gasped and his body arced off the ground.
Leo's eyes widened as Richard's body shook with violent spasms and he wasn't sure what to do. Sure he had learnt how to stitch a would while fighting in the resistance, but this was something else altogether. He was only a blacksmith by trade; he didn't know what to do here. Should he restrain Richard to keep him from hurting himself? Or would it be better to simply let this ride out rather then hurt Richard more while trying to help?
Then as quickly as it began it was over and Richard was laying fitfully in Kahlan's lap. This was insane, Leo thought. How did somebody go from wiping the floor with him to burning fever, blood and seizures in moments?
“We need Zedd,” Kahlan said softly.
Leo knew that confessors were often thought to be emotionless by the people of the Midlands, but he knew better. He had seen many emotions cross the lovely features of the Mother Confessor in the time he had been travelling with her. The two that struck him most clearly was the deep longing as she regarded the Sword of Truth when they first met and Richard was still with the Sisters of the Light, and the radiant happiness when she and Richard were reunited at the Valley of Perdition.
Now it held something he never thought he would see on a confessors face. She was scared, and moreover, she wasn't even trying to hide it.
“I'll go,” passed through his lips before he even realized he was speaking, but Leo still meant every word.
He was on his horse and galloping off before anything more could be said, though he vaguely caught a soft “hurry” at the edge of earshot. The horse was moving at a speed unwise in such a dense forest but Leo didn't dare slow even as he weaved around trees, narrowly avoiding low branches and roots. Instead the moment he cleared the distance between their camp and the trail he leaned forward and urged his horse to even greater speeds.
The mare didn't hesitate as she sped. Leo had always treated his horses with great care and they never complained on the rare occasion he had to push them beyond the norm. Instead she just gave a determined snort pushed on, seeming to sense Leo's urgency.
This was something he could do. He was no healer. Back at the camp all he would have done was stand and stare and feel helpless. A confessor knew how to comfort someone. They were no healer's themselves, but at least they knew enough to offer some relief. A mord-sith knew enough about the human body to cause great pain so surely that could lend itself somewhat to the reverse. Even if it didn't, at least their breath of life could be useful. Him, there was nothing he could do.
Getting Zedd was something he could do; something productive; something useful. It was something that wouldn't make him feel useless as his friend lie sick or worse on the forest floor.
Sunlight stun his eyes for a moment as the forest canopy above the trail broke into blue sky and Leo emerged into a large open field. Once his eyes cleared he saw the village of Briar Mills not far off.
Zedd had gone there after they had set up camp to visit an old friend while they took a break from their journey for him and Richard to train. The old wizard often left his training to Richard these days. Never before had a Seeker had the opportunity to learn from their predecessor. It was a chance to learn from firsthand experience that couldn't be passed up.
Now, as he raced through the village streets ignoring the startled looks of the townspeople, Leo wished it had been Zedd training him today. At least he would have been nearby when Richard collapsed.
Then he was pulling his horse to a stop, barely pausing to secure it to a post next to what he recognized as Zedd's own before throwing open the doors to the tavern with more force than was strictly necessary in his rush. The doors hit the wall with a resounding bang and all eyes turned to Leo even as his own scanned the low lit room.
He almost sighed in relief as his gazed locked on Zedd's startled eyes. Idly he noticed a woman around Zedd's age that was probably quite fetching in her youth sitting across from the wizard, but he ignored everything but the man he had come to find.
“It's Richard,” Leo said and found he hadn't needed to say more.
It was the first time Leo had ever seen Zedd leave a meal untouched.