Pairing: Kahlan/Dahlia, minor Cara/Dahlia, OFC

Rating: R

Spoilers: Up to Eternity

Warnings: Torture, rough sex, violence, Dubcon/noncon, dom/sub, angst, character death (no not of our lovely ladies lol)... This is AU, where Tears/Unbroken did not actually happen :D

A/N: What was supposed to be a one shot has sprouted up another chapter. This is a prequel to Feeding the Emptiness.


"You are a very strong, very powerful woman Kahlan Amnell." There was begrudging respect and admiration in that tone but Kahlan acknowledged none of it. Her blazing blue eyes remained rigidly fixated on the floor from her spot dangling naked on chains that hung over an empty pit.

Dahlia was perturbed. The Mother Confessor did not speak and had not spoken for the entire duration of her training – regardless of her punishment. Certainly, under Dahlia's touch, Kahlan screamed and groaned like any bitch in heat. But she never responded to Dahlia with words. Kahlan begged with her body, unable to silence its need for respite. It left Dahlia frustrated and a little obsessed.

For an entire week, the Mother Confessor only acknowledged Dahlia's existence through pain. Otherwise, Dahlia was ignored. All of the Sisters were ignored. Even under the threat of having the skin on her back slowly peeled from muscle, the brunette didn't so much as flinch.

It took days for the smooth skin of Kahlan's back to heal, even with wizard's magic.

For the first time in her life, Dahlia became uncertain. Reaching out past the Rada'Han, she tilted Kahlan's chin up to peer at her, to get a small glimpse into her mind... and there was nothing. Blue eyes glazed over as Kahlan stared through her. There was no smile on her lips or sag in her body to indicate she had delved into pleasurable thoughts like any potential pet. Kahlan's mind had gone somewhere entirely unknown.

Dahlia had to bring her back. Pain didn't seem to be working. Whether it was physical or emotional, Kahlan just stared, dumb and blind to the world.

Sometimes, Dahlia wondered if perhaps Kahlan had already been broken before she had arrived. But the Dragon Corps had assured her that the Mother Confessor had managed to kill twelve men before she was swiftly incapacitated by a dart dipped in a toxin that caused sleep.

They had followed her orders to the letter. Kahlan was brought back alive and unharmed so Dahlia could have the honour of breaking the Mother Confessor.

Lord Rahl had wanted Cara to do it, as a show of her loyalty. But Dahlia had changed his mind. Not because she feared that Cara would fail in her task, but because Dahlia was nowhere near as forgiving as Lord Rahl.

She had done what was necessary and had retrieved Cara from the Seeker. It had greatly embarrassed her to know that what had once been one of her favourite bed mates and a highly regarded Sister had tainted the reputation of Mord-Sith by becoming aligned with the Seeker. Worse, for becoming a weakened, simpering woman who traipsed across D'Hara comforting peasants and bedding oafish farm boys in the name of some ridiculous prophecy. When Lord Rahl had informed her of Cara's pathetic exploits her horror was so powerful she had wanted to burn off every mark Cara had ever left on her skin. She had been eager to cleanse herself of the filth that was Cara's disgrace.

But Lord Rahl spoke on Cara's behalf, opening Dahlia's eyes to the trickery of the Seeker and his little band of fools; they had manipulated the once proud Mord-Sith and led her astray. Her fury and disgust lessened because her Master had asked for her mercy. She allowed old feelings of... affection to stir, at Lord Rahl's request.

While she had accepted Cara's weakness and betrayal, she was still furious with the sultry, green eyed beauty for her disgrace. Most knew of her connection to Cara and so Cara's stupidity reflected on her.

And then there was the intimate betrayal of knowing Cara had left her without so much as a word. No notice. No comment.

Had she not believed Dahlia was capable of fixing matters? That she did not have an ally in her former school mate? Her former playmate?

Mord-Sith were not supposed to form meaningful attachments. But there was an unspoken acknowledgement among the Sisters that some bonds were not broken easily.

Dahlia had believed she had such a bond with Cara. Yet within one damned turn of the sun Cara had abandoned her and joined a man she barely knew on a forsaken quest? She had left her family.

Left Dahlia.

She would not allow Cara the pleasure of breaking Kahlan Amnell. It would be taken from her like the death of the Seeker and of the Wizard. While Dahlia had neither the status or the talent to punish Cara physically... She would hand Cara a simpering, hollow shell of a woman. A woman who begged for the touch of her Mistress Dahlia.

With that final act of punishment, she would absolve Cara of her sins. After all, Cara had come back to her. She needed Dahlia.

But the problem was evident. Kahlan Amnell would not break.

At the current rate of training Dahlia worried she might end up accidentally shattering the Mother Confessor's mind or permanently sending her into the Afterlife. Though both options had their appeal, it defeated the purpose of the past week and would have left Dahlia with an irrepressible itch until the day she died – why on earth was breaking Kahlan Amnell so damned difficult?

Her lip curled in disdain and she let go of Kahlan's chin, watching her head plop down uselessly.

"Keep going. I want your Agiels to map out her entire body. Understand me?"

"Yes Mistress."

She walked out of the chamber, the sharp clacking of her heels just smothered by the sounds of Kahlan's screams as the two Mord-Sith set to work on pleasing their Mistress.

But it was all pointless. When she returned Kahlan would be limp, exhausted and as gone from the world as she had ever been.

To ease her growing frustration she sent one of the slaves off with a message, demanding Tasha's presence at the baths.

She wasn't even surprised to see that Tasha had already arrived and stood by the pool. Before they could begin, she ordered everyone else to disperse. The other Mord-Sith watched Dahlia warily as they passed by, they were clearly aware of her problem. But no one dared speak of it: Dahlia's impotent attempts to break the Confessor.

"You will undress me." Her voice was hoarse, not from anger but from exhaustion and stress. Tasha moved quickly, stripping Dahlia of her leathers until she was nude. Without instruction, she knew to begin removing her own uniform as Dahlia settled in the hot water.

Looking up at her favourite pet, she acknowledged why she had chosen that particular woman as her most frequent bed mate. In the right light, that blonde hair and bone structure created a beautiful illusion. The dark brown eyes ruined it, but for the most part she could pretend Cara was with her. Tasha took this all in stride, never faltering, even when Cara's name fell from Dahlia's lips in a moment of passion. She knew how important it was to be the Mistress' favourite and took such humiliation without question. So long as it was private.

Dahlia crossed her arms over the ledge of the pool and rested her chin on her forearms, barely aware of Tasha slipping into the waters and moving in close enough to knead at the tense muscles of her shoulders.

For a few minutes they stayed there in silence, Dahlia struggling to figure out the Mother Confessor while Tasha worked hard to get Dahlia's attention.

"Mistress... something... troubles you?" There was a faint teasing to her tone that Dahlia did not like. She made a mental note to remind Tasha of her place. Being the favourite could easily give one quite the bloated ego.

"So concerned for me Tasha. How... sweet of you." It was not a compliment.

Tasha drew back a little, aware of the threat.

"Yes... well..." her fingers hesitated before resuming their caress. "We aren't meant to break Confessors."

Dahlia rolled her eyes. "I am aware of this. We are supposed to kill them. Do not think me stupid Tasha."

The other woman flinched at the venom thrown her way.

"Forgive me Mistress." She licked her lips, a sign of nervousness. "I meant nothing of the sort... I just don't see the point of breaking a Confessor. They are useless creatures absorbed in love and the like..." she trailed off into a small rant expressing her disgust over the people they had been bred to destroy.

Dahlia's eyes lost focus, nodding absentmindedly when a thought struck her.

Love.

Confessors were creatures of love. The opposite of Mord-Sith.

Dahlia had an idea. Her Sisters would be left feeling quite confused by Dahlia's orders. But they would not dare ask questions, to risk drawing the twisted glint in Dahlia's eyes to them.

Six of them, Dahlia included, would work nonstop from day to night, switching shifts when one or another got too tired.

It would test their endurance as Mord-Sith.

The faint upturn of Dahlia's lips would have turned Tasha's blood cold.

Kahlan Amnell no longer knew rest. True sleep had become forbidden for her.

The Sisters carefully kept the power of their Agiels to a low or moderate level – to keep the Confessor awake. All training happened under the Agiels. No other toys. The pain was very specifically controlled and aimed at Kahlan's back and legs.

No one would communicate with Kahlan in any manner. They maintained the pain smoothly. Extreme hurt was gone, replaced with isolation. Food was minimal to keep Kahlan weak.

Eventually, without Kahlan's permission, she regained her coherence. There were no powerful sensations to give her the push required to reject reality. There were no taunts to remind her why she was hiding. Instead there was only deafening silence. No one would touch her with anything but an Agiel and even that touch was lacklustre.

Before, she had barely been aware of her surroundings. She had nothing to live for.

Richard... Cara... Zed...

There had been nothing. And when the torture was so intense she could scarcely breathe, she took it. It was a fitting punishment for her failure as a Confessor: to be mutilated by her natural enemy. She allowed the Seeker's death. The man she loved was gone. Her deep love for her friends had also been useless. Zed had been killed – she had heard some of Dahlia's cutting words – and Cara... Cara was lost to her, back among her Sisters.

It was right that this would happen to her. So she gave up. Alive but dead, she hung from the ceiling and took the pain, her mind swirling with old teachings. She was the Mother Confessor. In her mind she focused on disappearing from the earth. She called out to the Mord-Sith to work harder, to tear her up until nothing was left. She would be a corpse for them, a chunk of meat.

But now the pain was not enough. And every day she fought the urge to ask them what was going on. Why were they not doing what was required of them?

As she continued to wait for whatever was to befall her, she began to lose more and more of herself. She felt less and less. The Agiel was mocked her with its nips and little bites.

It was when her reddened eyes finally found purchase with another that she finally felt something since Richard's death. Dahlia had held her gaze, and to Kahlan's horror, those eyes softened for her. It made her want to heave what little was left in her stomach.

It wasn't the pity from Dahlia that had shaken her. She could have sneered at Dahlia's pity. It was the longing she felt for Dahlia's attention. She needed to have those eyes on her again.

All of a sudden she was plagued by memories. Memories of bound hands, of years where her only touch was to Confess and when everyone had feared her presence. Before Richard, before any man would have felt comfortable enough to brush up against her.

It slowly began to drive her insane. She clung to memories of kissing Richard, ignoring the sickening reality of his death. Kahlan relived the moments when Zed would pat her on the back. And she revelled in the times when she had reached out actually touched Cara through her warmed leathers, that a Mord-Sith would ever allow a Confessor to touch her without a Rada'Han.

They had loved her. They had trusted her. They were dead.

And she was alone.

The pain was barely there. For some bizarre reason they were only torturing her enough to keep her awake. It drained her of her resources and motivation to fight against the Mord-Sith.

Time became an elusive creature. The only thing that made one moment significant over another was Dahlia's glance.

Every day was otherwise the same. Never in her life would she have thought it possible that she could find pain monotonous. Her body remained in constant pain but the ache was dull, just enough to keep her constantly aggravated without actually pushing her anywhere near the edge. And the little catnaps they afforded her were never long enough to give her the kind reprieve of dreams. They were cruel because they gave her only small tastes of comfort. She was half starved, half asleep and half mad.

There was no relief, except for the tiny, almost insignificant feel of Dahlia's gaze. She refused to acknowledge it the first time, but after a while she began seeking Dahlia out. Kahlan hungrily awaited Dahlia's presence. Suddenly she found herself able to discern Dahlia from the other Mord-Sith just by the sound of her entering the room. She knew Dahlia's Agiel. It always hurt just a bit more than the others. Its sharper kiss gave her some relief.

She had felt certain that this limbo was worse than death.

She had been wrong.

On what should have been another typical day of slow agony, they came to her without warning. All six of them. The Agiels had been screaming.

Or had that been her?

The world shattered. She was left blind and deaf to all but their magic. It was like nothing she had felt before. There had been no time to prepare herself. After days under the touch of their muted weapons she had thought herself numb.

Everything spiralled and what had only lasted minutes felt like a lifetime.

And then everything went black.

When she awoke she was weightless, buoyed up by what had to be clouds. Such warm, incredibly soft clouds that covered her up to her neck and made her reluctant to open her eyes. It would have killed her to ruin the moment.

Her arctic eyes shot open and she jerked up wildly, her heart thundering with joy. For one blissful moment she thought herself dead and that she had been taken to paradise, where she would finally meet with Richard. To embrace him again in her arms and to hear Zed's rambling tales, it would have been just like before. She would have mourned Cara, hoping that perhaps the Creator would forgive her friend and allow Cara to rejoin them. Then she would truly be happy. Her family would be whole and she could finally cast aside the guilt that was her life and remove the shackles of duty from her body.

"Hush now..." Someone purred in her ear, their strong arms restraining her.

When reality struck her it was with a force of a furious gale wind. She was not dead. She was in a small room that was completely empty except for the tub she occupied.

Her eyes raked over her naked body, submerged in heated water.

"Oh... Spirits... no..." Soft, elegant fingers gently caressed her scalp as Kahlan gaped at the bloody, purple pulp that had become her body. They hadn't stopped, not even after she lost consciousness.

And she was alive. Still.

The wail that ravaged her throat and clawed through her mouth stunned her, the echo only amplifying her despair. Her mind hadn't even registered the scented oils that were being lathered into her dark locks. She sobbed until her throat became raw and her eyes glued shut from tears.

Dazed and confused, the shards of her brain became aware of hands massaging her shoulders.

"What is this... what do you wa - want from me Dahlia?" Her throat burned but it couldn't compare to her mutilated heart.

"I want to help you cleanse..." Dahlia pressed herself to the back of Kahlan's head, the hard leather sheathing soft mounds of flesh that rubbed against her skull.

The words were so kind, so warm and so affectionate, it made Kahlan dizzy. Her heart raced with relief. She had finally opened up and spoken, connected with another human being.

But no, Dahlia was Mord-Sith.

"Liar. Th – this is all some kind of test." Fresh tears welled up in her eyes but she could not blink them away. Her eyes were swollen shut.

Dahlia said nothing, moving her hands over collarbone and down to tender breasts, one of them not even fit to be called such. It stung, even with such a light touch and Kahlan had to grit her teeth, hissing at the pain.

"Cara asks for you." Dahlia sounded almost innocent, as if casually mentioning the decor of the room.

Kahlan stiffened.

"What?"

"It's not very often. But she does. Wonders if we've found you."

"Sh – she doesn't know I'm here?" She hated herself for the hopefulness that had seeped out of her words.

"Mmm. She still cares for you."

Her heart threatened to burst from her throat.

"She... she does not. She is one of you." Kahlan snarled, disgusted by the terrible weight of her expectations: her need for Dahlia to prove her suspicions wrong.

"She was always one of us Kahlan..." Dahlia was honey, warm and smooth, seeping into her ear and down to her center. She shivered weakly as Dahlia started using a cloth to carefully tend to her wounds.

"Leave me alone..." She was desperate now. The kindness was making her sick and needy. She wasn't aware of how much time had passed since she had a moment's peace and something in the water was dulling the pain that had infused itself in her bones. Even as she spoke the words she was begging Dahlia to stay.

"I can't do that..." she murmured into Kahlan's ear. "You know this..."

"Kill me."

"I can't do that either..."

"Why?" she spat, suddenly furious. "Is that the point of all this? To keep me alive like this?" Fear made her words shake. But Dahlia soothed the fears away, using the wet cloth to wipe Kahlan's brow.

"I care for Cara. And she needs you. So I care for you." Full lips pressed to Kahlan's temple, brushing against bruised skin.

"N-no... Cara... Cara is a lie. You're lying." She whimpered, trying to cling to rationality, to remember her training as a Confessor – not that it was much use against a Mord-Sith.

"No lie... I started this... hating you Kahlan Amnell. I admit to this." When Dahlia sighed into her neck, what remained of Kahlan's skin broke out into goose bumps. "But you're so strong... so very strong... the thought of breaking you began to make me feel ill... I must obey my Master... but I keep... breaking the rules for you."

Kahlan's blood rushed to her head. Dahlia's glances, the touch of her Agiel bringing her some sanity, and now bathing her? Had it been Dahla's intention to help her?

But it couldn't be true. It had to be a lie.

"I – I'm so tired..."

The hands on her body slowed.

"I already risk much for you Kahlan..."

"Dahlia..."

"No." The siren's voice took on a sternness that made Kahlan flinch. "Mistress Dahlia."

"Muh... Mistress..." The word was so bitter on her tongue.

"Hmmm..." Dahlia nuzzled the crook of Kahlan's neck, just above the Rada'Han. "I will try to keep you intact, for Cara. I am sure Lord Rahl will tire of this soon. You belong to Cara. And Cara belongs to you."

"J-just... I don't..."

"She's your Cara. Do you not wish to see her again?"

"She's not mine." Her voice turned hoarse with unshed tears.

"She asks for you... wishes to see you once more... and you will be away from Lord Rahl. Do you not miss her presence?"

Images flashed in her mind: mussed blonde hair, a mockingly raised eyebrow and swimming green eyes.

Your Cara.

Maybe it was possible. Maybe Cara could be brought back. Maybe Dahlia was telling the truth. Maybe Dahlia did care – if only because Cara cared. Dahlia had put her life on the line to take Cara back.

"I will take care of you Confessor... your body will heal. I shall return you to your Cara."

As a Confessor she had believed that there was a deep and wide chasm between truth and falsehood. With Dahlia at her ear, she neither knew nor cared to know just what kind of barrier existed between the two.

"Mistress..." she sighed into Dahlia's thigh once the chains had let her go and the other Mord-Sith left. She kneeled weakly up against her mistress.

"You are pleased to see me Kahlan?" The amusement in Dahlia's voice brought a delighted thrill out of Kahlan.

"Yes... of course."

"Very good..." Leather clad fingers played with Kahlan's hair. She knew that it was frowned upon for Mord-Sith to be so physically affectionate and it made Kahlan's heart warm all the more. Dahlia cared. She was a favourite.

"Wh – when will I see Cara?" Her fuzzy mind had only the weakest tether to that name.

Her training had intensified. But after each session Dahlia would come and mend her wounds, both physical and otherwise. It made Kahlan feel special. She began to look forward to training, just so Dahlia would touch her. To talk to her. The others continued to ignore her.

It was especially wonderful when Dahlia herself would take to training her.

She eyed the Agiel strapped to Dahlia's thigh while her mistress thought about the question. On impulse, she leaned in and pressed her lips to its tip, inhaling sharply at the crack of its electric sting. Her lips felt swollen, but Dahlia's tightened grip Kahlan's hair made it worthwhile.

"You are really... quite something... Kahlan." The lust in Dahlia's voice sparked an immediate reaction in Kahlan. "But I'm afraid I have something terrible to tell you..."

Kahlan leaned back to look at her mistress, confusion and fear evident on her face.

"I lied to you." Her eyes widened in shock and she shook her head, unable to believe Dahlia's soft words. "Yes I lied. Cara never asked for you. Not once. She has forgotten you."

"No... Cara... Cara is my friend." Dahlia nodded, her eyes averted as if in remorse.

"I'm sorry Kahlan. I'm sorry I lied to you..."

Kahlan's eyes watered in misery. Cara had forgotten her. She jumped a little when Dahlia kneeled down to meet her, hands cupping Kahlan's bruised face with compassion.

"I had to my pet... I... I love you."

"Oh..." She squeaked pitifully, her eyes tearing out of the sudden burst of joy she felt. "I love you too. Oh Mistress I love you so much."

"I know pet... I know... But before... you would not have allowed me to show you my love – "

"No, not then" she sniffled, so happy to have her mistress.

"I will take care of you. I will not fail you. Not as the Seeker did."

"He – he failed me?" She shook her head, a weak voice in the deep recesses of her mind recoiled at this.

"Yes. You knew did you not? You knew it was dangerous to allow Cara to follow you?"

"I – I knew. But – but I failed him." She frowned.

"And you told him of this. And in his naiveté and idealism..." Dahlia continued, as if Kahlan had not spoken, "he failed you. He brought her to you. Everything fell apart. Your failure was that your love was not strong enough. Your love made you weak. You could not force him to do what needed to be done. You acquiesced and it cost you everything."

Kahlan closed her eyes and bowed her head in shame, undeserving of the gentle stroke of Dahlia's fingers over her face.

"But I will not fail you pet." Kahlan looked up into steel grey eyes. "I will protect you. I will make you strong. I will never allow your failures."

Kahlan sighed softly and rested her forehead on Dahlia's shoulder, her body sagging as every responsibility and blame shifted from her body to Dahlia. Her protector.

Her Mistress.

Tasha was covered in sweat and blood.

"Well?"

"You... You were magnificent." She panted, from her position over the table, her legs spread wide and her ass up in the air. Her wrists were tied to the wall by thick metal wire that ate away at her skin and her legs were chained to the legs of the table.

"I know." Dahlia smirked, admiring Tasha's naked and vulnerable form.

"I do not know what I did to receive such a reward..." She gasped tiredly; amazed that she hadn't died after climax.

"My apologies Tasha..." She walked over to the sink and applied a wet towel to her face, dabbing away at the sweat and small flecks of Tasha's blood that had marred her otherwise flawless complexion. "I meant to do this earlier – after all, you did help me break the Confessor."

"I did?" The surprise in Tasha's voice was evident, her emotional control lax after so much exertion.

"Oh yes. You reminded me what Confessors were. Beings of... love." Dahlia smirked a little. "Did you know, the opposite of love is not hate?" She ran her bare hand over Tasha's sensitive ass, pleased that Tasha managed not to groan.

"It is... indifference?"

"Yessssss... You are such an intelligent woman." Hands trailed downward to admire the gashes in Tasha's thighs. "Confessors crave love and justice. The same way we crave hate and pain. Opposites of the same damned coin."

Tasha didn't dare ask Dahlia the stupid question: did Dahlia love the Confessor? Her behaviour around Kahlan Amnell had been disturbing and confusing to everyone.

"So... you were indifferent to her?"

"For a time." Dahlia canted her head. "And then I gave her... what she needed."

"You made her think she was loved. She is yours now."

"Very much so." She sounded content.

"And we shall deliver her to Cara?"

"Of course." The sharpness caught Tasha off guard.

She wondered if maybe the close proximity, the intimate touches and words... these things that Mord-Sith deprived themselves of frequently and sought only the minimum from their Sisters... it might have affected Dahlia. The Confessor was beautiful and completely unreserved about her need to touch and feel. With the emphasis on love and not pain, Kahlan was not behaving like an ordinary pet. But Tasha would never be foolish enough to ask.

A scraping of metal awoke Tasha from her musings.

"Mistress? Will there be more?" She felt herself grow heated with excitement.

The silence made the hairs on her body prickle.

"Mistress?"

"I'm so very glad you enjoyed yourself Tasha. You had earned your reward." Tasha stiffened when a leather gag was shoved into her mouth and wrapped around her head.

"But you did doubt my abilities. And. You should never. Doubt. Me."

Tasha learned her lesson well.