Spoilers: Up to Eternity
Warnings: Torture, violence, Angst, rough sex, BDSM, Dubcon/Noncon, implied threesomes, implied gangbang, strap on usage, character death (no not of our lovely ladies lol)... This is AU: Tears/Unbroken did not actually happen.
Summary: Dahlia pays the price for her insolence. Kahlan faces her reality. Cara remains an enigma.
A/N: I would like to thank phandomsock and neutralhealer for being my betas for this final chapter of my trilogy. Thank you so much guys for helping me out, I hope I put your suggestions to good use! This is the final part of my lil trilogy, the sequel to: "Feeding the Emptiness"
Mistress was a complete stranger to her. She knew absolutely nothing about her and wished to keep it that way.
An unspoken and unacknowledged agreement existed between them: they did not know each other. The past was nonexistent.
Tentative smiles, careful touches, and an awkward burgeoning friendship dissolved from the woven fabrics of time.
Kahlan wanted to forget.
Forget the scars they shared from battles won. Forget a time when they had both been willing and determined to keep each other alive.
A time when the soft whispers of a broken young girl were embraced within the walls of a nameless, hollow tomb; a covenant of friendship exchanged. She had offered her life to protect the woman she had once taken everything from. But no, they had decided to die together, hands clasped tight as leather and skin drew strength from one another.
These were moments best not remembered. An era when hope had been strong and the possibilities had been endless
So the past was wiped clean. All that remained was a sterile, blank slate upon which to paint harsher colours; to bathe it in blood, grime and sweat.
To Kahlan, Mistress's silence was a relief. She could pretend she did not know the woman who tore her flesh into mangled ribbons. Cara was dead. The woman before her was an imposter, a cruel and sadistic creature that existed only to torment her.
Mistress only. Cara did not exist.
The distinction was vital. Without it, Kahlan would have lost her sanity days ago, at Mistress's first exploratory touch.
But it had become a constant struggle to maintain the illusion of who it was that touched her. She used all her willpower to fixate on her true Mistress: Dahlia. Her mind drowned in memories of Dahlia's touch, her voice. She clung to Dahlia with an almost desperate fanaticism.
Dahlia. Always Dahlia.
In this, she kept her mind completely preoccupied, able to blur the lines between reality and fantasy. Every touch on her was Dahlia's. It had to be. Her Mistress had loved her, had given her everything. She had been so kind to her. Dahlia would not have left her. Certainly not to the malicious spectre that so painfully resembled a woman of her past – a dead woman.
It had been almost too easy, with the identical uniforms and mannerisms of torture, to superimpose her Dahlia on anyone who entered the room.
So as her body jerked in agony, her mind danced with ecstasy. Everything had been stripped away. She had placed herself in a small pocket outside of the real world and lived in it. In this world there had never been a Seeker, a Confessor. No wizards or prophecies.
Dahlia was her entire world. The pain that wracked her battered form, all it did was cement her delusions. She dreamed awake so that she could always be with her Dahlia.
Though as time went on, it became more difficult to delve deep into her mind. Within the first day, Mistress had seemed to realise just how intimately Kahlan knew the Agiel. After that, no one used the weapon on her. The torture lacked a cohesive pattern, the way she had grown accustomed to with Dahlia. The torture was always unique and less predictable. Fear was more palpable.
She screamed for her Dahlia. But there were never any tears, because as far as she was concerned, Dahlia was ever present. Dahlia protected her from everything, a powerful cocoon to the terrors of her life. Someone still cared for her.
Soft, sensual and laced with poison, the voice struck her so deeply she visibly flinched and took a choking gasp for air. She hadn't even noticed the punishment had ceased; her body numb from the beating.
But that voice jarred her senses and caused a wave of nausea so intense she felt her vision darken.
"No..." She whimpered, blinking as she tried to force herself back into her fantasies. A place where she was not chained up against the wall, her stomach rubbing up against the stones and her ass split open from the cane Mistress had used on her.
"Kahlan..." She shuddered as the tone changed to a sickeningly familiar tone of exasperation and amusement.
Mistress had not spoken a word to her during the entire time of training. Other Mord-Sith taunted and teased, but Mistress had remained silent.
She hadn't spoken a word since Dahlia left.
Kahlan squeezed her eyes shut at the memory and pressed her forehead painfully to the stone, grating the skin against its rough texture. She didn't want to hear Mistress speak. It confused her. It made her sick.
"You keep calling her name." The Mord-Sith paused, as if confused. A flash of memory made Kahlan cringe:
Cara canted her head and regarded her with a frown, looking at her as if she'd spoken in another tongue. She fought the urge to smile, fully aware that doing so would only result in massive pouting and huffing in annoyance. But those keen green eyes watched her closely, reading the hidden smile behind her composed expression. They both knew she was trying not to laugh.
Cara pouted – huffed – and walked off muttering to herself about the queerness of Confessors.
Kahlan had laughed.
She was suffocating, as if Mistress had wrapped her fingers around Kahlan's throat and was slowly squeezing the life out of her.
"You appear to think..." Kahlan stiffened as leather encased fingers trailed along the sensitive, fresh scars across her back and hovered over the new wounds just at the top of her ass, "that Dahlia will come back to you."
She pressed herself tightly to the wall when Mistress leaned her body firmly to Kahlan's own, lips just centimetres away from her face. Squeezing her eyes tightly, she tried to keep track of her breathing. Make it steady, control it, and that would make everything better. She could ignore the fingers in her hair, the breath at her neck...
She had stiffened when someone suddenly pressed themselves up against her from behind without warning.
"Are you insane?" She half snarled at the blonde who peered over her shoulder, examining the lay of the land from their position on top of the ravine. The foliage and trees were so thick they barely had room to stand together. "I could have confessed you!" She muttered weakly, the irritated surprise still obvious in her voice even as her body relaxed the instant she realised it was only her stubborn friend.
"Unlikely." Cara brushed Kahlan's hair aside to stare out at the expanse of forest, her warm breath along the nape of Kahlan's neck.
And she left it at that - because they trusted each other entirely. They did not doubt their skills. There would never be an accident. Neither would let the other come to harm.
Mord-Sith and Confessor.
"Why are you here anyway? I said I would be look out."
"My eyes are sharper than yours."
Kahlan had sighed, fighting the urge to give Cara a sharp smack upside the head.
She would not cry. She refused to. But she could not stop Mistress from speaking and she could not stop herself from listening.
"Dahlia... Dahlia..." Kahlan shivered as Mistress shifted, the leather belt brushed up against her gored ass.
"She truly has spoiled you... But then you've always been spoiled, haven't you, Kahlan?" She grit her teeth, wishing she could tell Mistress to stop calling her that. Mistress should only call her Confessor. Dahlia called her Kahlan. Every time Mistress said that damned name, her head throbbed with memories, swollen and threatening to overflow. She was already on the verge of begging, just to keep the past at bay.
"I understand... Confessor. It's a title with such heavy meaning. So much... power." She swallowed a pained groan as Mistress's fingers dug into her hips and she ground her crotch into Kahlan's bloodied backside.
"People bow before you... they shrink in fear..." those hands slowly moved to Kahlan's front, just over her pubic bone. In her shame, she realised she was responding. She was going to embarrass herself. Embarrass Dahlia.
But Mistress was sex personified. Every touch sparked need within her. Normally she had ignored it. But then, Mistress had never spoken to her before. Somehow, that voice... it grounded her. Painfully. Yet at the same time, it threw her out of balance, forcing her to delve into the past.
"What are you doing?"
She watched Cara wearily. When they had found the hot springs, she had been eager for a private bath. As much as she loved Richard - and loved Cara and Zedd - she couldn't help but miss her privacy. It had been a long journey and she had needed to relax some of the tension and stress.
"You're not particularly observant today, are you?" Cara raised an elegant eyebrow as her fingers worked to methodically and swiftly untie her leather. The movements were sharp and precise, yet graceful. It made Kahlan feel flushed.
"I rather wanted some time to myself, thank you. Aren't you supposed to be protecting Richard?" She shifted backward in the water, to put some space between them. It was instinctive. Once stripped, Cara moved like a predator where most would feel vulnerable nude.
"Lord Rahl is with Zedd." She slipped into the water smoothly, gliding as if she were water itself; she ignored Kahlan's comment about solitude. When her body submerged into the heat, her voice took on a husky groan of pleasure as she spoke.
"Don't worry yourself so much. Even naked, we are a force to be reckoned with." The smirk on Cara's face made her skin break out into gooseflesh.
It was nothing but blood lust and sin.
She bathed in silence, maintaining plenty of space between them. Somehow, the bath would end with her feel even more tightly wound than before.
Mistress breathed deeply, as if trying to inhale Kahlan's essence.
"Confessor... the title brings you respect. Brings you entitlement."
Without thinking, she made a noise of protest. Confessor was not a rank that any sane person would ask for. People feared her touch. She could not make love without destroying the one with her. It was a life of loneliness.
"Oh, but it's true. You've lived a charmed life, Kahlan. After all, everyone has their burden to bear... every living thing feels pain. But for your suffering... you are treated better than royalty. So independent and confident. You've always been special... And somehow, even Dahlia has made you feel special. As a slave."
No. Dahlia would never call her a slave. She was not a slave. Dahlia loved her. So long as Dahlia loved her Kahlan could pretend.
Everything was fine.
"I am at the top of the hierarchy, Kahlan. Your word means nothing anymore. And Dahlia's word has never meant much in the first place. I think it's time you became better acquainted with your new status in life." Mistress chuckled, the dark intent making Kahlan's skin crawl. Strong fingers dug painfully into her skin and Mistress bucked hard into her tender flesh. Kahlan couldn't suppress a shriek.
"You are mine now, Kahlan. If you eat it is only because I feed you. You sleep because I allow it. You can be worth less than a piss stain or you can finally grasp a moment's reprieve from your suffering – all at my command. You will break for me, Kahlan. At my pace. I am a far more patient person than you would believe."
Her body shook with helpless frustration and agony. She wanted to spit in Mistress's face. She wanted Dahlia back. Dahlia would come back and stop this. Save her.
The only audible sound in the stark room was Kahlan's ragged breathing when Cara stopped shifting against her back. She felt her neck prickle in apprehension at the silence. When Mistress's tantalizing whisper finally broke the quiet Kahlan jumped a little.
"You know what they did to him Kahlan?" She went rigid, breaking out into a cold sweat as she fought to deny the sound of Mistress's words. "You know what they did to Richard?"
She sobbed weakly, furious that Mistress manipulated her into speaking. Kahlan had promised herself she would never speak to the beast that bound her.
Mistress pulled away enough to create space between them. Old habits made Kahlan's heart leap to her throat, yearning for that familiar body to come close again. She wished she could turn around and look at Mistress's expression, though at the same time she recoiled at the thought of actually seeing that face. She couldn't acknowledge the truth.
"He had the best do their work. The body is so... alive. You'd think..."
"Oh Spirits... no, please... please..."
"You don't get to beg me now Kahlan. You've spent far too much time calling Dahlia's name."
"I'm sorry..." and it was true, in that moment she wished she had only ever called out for Mistress. But even then she knew she could not have done so even if she had wanted to. She could never say Mistress's name aloud.
"I know you are. Don't interrupt or I'll lock your jaw shut." Mistress paused for a moment, her words wooden and empty, "He's just outside the People's Palace. A monument to Lord Rahl. Spells are in place to make sure no one can touch him. He's on his knees. The sword shoved down his throat... Perhaps one day, I will take you to it. A little bit of sight-seeing, to see the glory of D'hara."
Kahlan didn't move or make a sound. Her eyes stared unseeingly through the wall before her. She could feel Mistress smirk coldly at her, the fury of those forest eyes whipping her back more effectively than any instrument could.
"There is nothing for you outside these walls. I am your life."
She sagged against her bonds.
"I need you to do something for me, Dahlia..."
She stood stoically, her eyes pointedly avoided looking at Cara directly. The golden haired succubus stood nude before a full length mirror, fiddling with her braid with an unreadable expression. An exhausted Mord-Sith lay curled up on the floor by Cara's bed, just as naked but her skin was mottled with welts. The look on the woman's face was one of serenity and pleasure.
"Oh?" Her tone was bored, but underneath it was an anger so tightly coiled she was choking on it.
Six months had passed since she had given Cara the Confessor. While she had expected some sort of punishment for breaking the Confessor before Cara got the chance to, she had not anticipated that Cara would dismiss her back to her temple the day after she arrived with Kahlan Amnell.
And then half a year went by without any communication from Cara. It was torture in and of itself, to be denied Cara's presence. While Mord-Sith rarely ever allowed themselves to have any hopes and dreams, she had at least been expecting more time with Cara.
So she invited herself to Cara's temple. When she had arrived nothing seemed terribly out of place. The Mord-Sith in the temple maintained a respectful distance from her and were obedient to her needs and wants. Everyone except for Cara.
Cara was always busy, unavailable or away. Dahlia wasn't even allowed to see the Confessor she had so generously brought to the temple, though the other Sisters always grinned broadly whenever she asked. She had no idea what was going on and her frustration reached its peak when she was finally called to Cara's bedchamber that evening, only to walk in on Cara sitting on the edge of the bed with her back arched as a nameless Sister buried her face between Cara's legs, feasting as if her life depended on it – as it probably did.
Dahlia had not joined in and was not asked to. She stood there, seething as Cara climaxed.
Not since she had found Cara with the Seeker had she felt such a powerful urge to tear the blonde apart with her bare hands.
"Pick up the blade."
Dahlia blinked, so lost in her thoughts she had forgotten where she was. Glancing around the room she spotted a large plain hunting knife on a small table by the bed. Stiffly, she walked past Cara and her latest bed mate in order to pick it up. It was lighter than it looked. She glanced at Cara, trying to keep the fury and confusion off her face.
Dahlia grit her teeth, reminding herself that Cara was the better fighter and Lord Rahl's favourite. It would do her no good to challenge her, least of all in her temple.
She stood behind Cara, the two of them looking at one another in the mirror. The Mord-Sith on the floor stretched herself out, sighing contently.
A sudden, unbidden compulsion made the hand that wielded the blade twitch. Dahlia watched Cara's eyes harden in challenge. Vicious and cold, that beautiful face and taut body made Dahlia turn her gaze away.
"I need you to cut off my braid."
Dahlia's stomach lurched violently.
The plain way she spoke, without title or even the slightest indication of emotion, made it clear just how shocked she was. In the background, the other Mord-Sith went rigid.
"Cut it. Just above my shoulders." She spoke softly, her entire disposition neutral, but her voice commanded – pulling submission out of Dahlia before she had even realised she'd moved.
In one hand she gripped Cara's braid tightly, her fingers locked painfully. The blade hovered just above the smooth, elegant weaves. Her breathing turned shallow and rapid as her stomach knotted in fear. To cut off the braid of a Mord-Sith was sacrilege, an act reserved only for those who had their honour revoked. It was the greatest insult.
Now Cara wanted Dahlia to inflict this on her. She commanded it.
Dahlia desperately wanted to stop, to ask why, but one did not question a superior's command and to Dahlia, the blonde was still her Mistress.
She swallowed the bile that had risen in her throat and swiftly moved the knife. Numbly, she dropped her hands to her sides, the braid still clutched in her first. The third Sister, the voyeur, gasped aloud as Cara's hair fell in a clump at the base of her neck, the meticulous braid slowly coming undone.
Dahlia took a ragged breath, blinking away the burning behind her eyes as rapidly as she could, fighting to keep her composure.
Cara stood before her, a repulsive figure with her hair mutilated. Dahlia choked on the memory of Cara's weakness. The Seeker's bitch.
"Very good, Dahlia." She mocked lightly, stepping closer to Dahlia. She held out a hand for the blade and when Dahlia returned it, the door opened allowing three Mord-Sith into the room.
Dahlia frowned at them as they moved in to surround her, one behind her and one on each side.
"Mistress?" She stared at Cara, who was playing with the blade, watching it in fascination as she teased the tip over the palm of her hand as if preparing to cut herself with it.
"Dahlia... beautiful Dahlia. Such a clever woman, so many sweet words... little lies... my manipulative little bitch..." She arched an eyebrow, eyes still admiring the knife.
Without warning, an Agiel pressed to Dahlia's tailbone, making her cry out sharply and fall to her knees. A hand went to the nape of her neck and pushed her forward; her arms were gripped and pulled back behind her. Her position was reminiscent of someone about to be beheaded.
"Cara!" The lack of title earned her an Agiel across her jaw. The smell of burnt flesh made Cara's lip curl.
"You know, I offered you a reprieve." She used the blunt end of the blade to tilt Dahlia's head upwards, to force the pinned woman to look at her face. Dahlia watched, almost in awe, at the deadly rage on Cara's face, haloed by the living flame of her hair.
"I did not ask you to my temple. I offered you a way out... After all, it was the least I could do; offer you a chance to avoid the consequences... You brought me home." The tip of the metal traced up her chin lightly, never leaving a mark as it moved to Dahlia's lips. "But you came here, Dahlia. You came to me. You asked for punishment."
"I don't understand..." Panic flared within her and she spoke, the blade nicking her lips as they moved, drawing blood. It was almost as if Cara had figured out her intent with the Confessor. But that was impossible. "Mistress... what is going on?"
The smile on Cara's face made her stomach drop sickeningly.
"When I am finished with you, Dahlia..." she removed the knife, watching thin trails of red move down Dahlia's chin and neck. With a gesture, the Mord-Sith stood up, bringing Dahlia to her feet.
"I will make you cut out that tongue... Then I will watch you eat it."
Kahlan's left eye had swollen shut and she had been drifting in and out of consciousness for almost the entire day. There were two large windows to the left of her so she actually had a tentative grasp on time.
But that didn't matter. Nothing mattered. She was nothing.
They had told her that Mistress would be arriving for her so she had to wait. Waiting could have been a simple enough affair... except they brought her to a bed.
It was massive, a four poster bed whose frame was one of reinforced steel. There were hooks and loops all around the bed. Instead of blankets, a tarp covered its large mattress. Kahlan shook at the sight of it.
Before arriving, she had been cleaned by two of her keepers. The Mord-Sith scrubbed her raw but she had actually enjoyed it, not that the wash could ever truly cleanse her of the filth that had become imbedded in her skin. In her soul.
Disgusting, filthy slave girl. Ugly and useless, not fit to lick the toilets clean.
They made her kneel on the bed facing the headboard. She was pliant, she knew these Mord-Sith well. They chained her wrists behind her back and then chained her hands to her feet. But it didn't end there. They then affixed a chain to her Rada'Han and attached that to the metal loop on the footboard, her back arched awkwardly and within a matter of minutes started killing her. She really wanted to lie down on her side but knew it was not an option. If they left her in that position then it would only hurt her further if they found she had moved.
After a few hours, she could no longer feel her body.
A worthless body, a body to be used and tossed aside...
While she had little concept of time, she knew at least two seasons had passed before Mistress had called her to that bed.
Two seasons of merciless hell.
She had been put to the bottom of the hierarchy and the torture had been endless. Mord-Sith of every rank abused and violated her daily, revelling in the knowledge that she was a Confessor and entirely defenceless against them.
Per Mistress's orders, they did not use the Agiel on her. Instead they used all kinds of malicious, disgusting instruments on her body. They tortured her and they fucked her, all at once or one at a time.
Dahlia would have been appalled, sickened at the sight of her. She was nothing... but she hoped, hoped for her Dahlia's forgiveness. Forgive her for allowing such hideous debasement, for such dishonour.
She was forced to work for them. She cleaned the lavatories, the training rooms, bedrooms, their leather, and she cooked. Her days became a blur of shame and agony. Her status was so low that even the pets were allowed to have her.
All the while, she hardly ever saw Mistress. Whenever they crossed paths Kahlan would hold her breath, dreading the possibility of Mistress turning around and speaking to her.
Because even in her shame and horror she clung to Dahlia: her lifeline, her only hope.
Dahlia would still see her beautiful. Dahlia would still love her.
After her mother died her entire world had shattered. The safety of her family, of her home, had quickly revealed itself to be an illusion. Her father began using her as a tool. She learned that everyone viewed her as a dangerous weapon. That she was, in fact, created to be such a weapon. Her touch became poison to every person around her except her sister.
And then when her sister became lost she had lost her only tether to humanity. The Confessors had been wiped out and she couldn't be with the man she loved.
It had been a hard life and she had believed it couldn't get worse. But she couldn't have been more mistaken.
At the very root of her existence, she was a Confessor. With that came power. The fear and awe in people's eyes had left her feeling alone and hurt but it had been protective. People revered her. All doors opened for her, people acquiesced to her demands and she felt strong. She felt confident, beautiful, and knew self respect.
Everything hurt, from her body to her heart. No one cared for her; she yearned for Dahlia's presence like a starved wolf salivated over fresh meat.
Richard had made her feel more. He made her feel genuinely loved. Her weaknesses and fears disappeared at his smile and warmth. In spite of the restrictions placed on them, he loved her no less. It brought back the safety of family. Of home.
Richard... No thoughts about Richard. No more thoughts about anything at all. Just focus on Dahlia. Think of Dahlia, hold her close, and never let her go. It will be as if she had never left.
Dahlia had given her some of that back. Even as the seasons passed, she kept Dahlia close to her. As her mind and body were raped and used, she took joy in Dahlia's love. No one could convince her otherwise, even as they sneered and taunted.
She always called for Dahlia. Awake, she dreamed that she was with her Dahlia. Whenever she was forced to do some repulsive task or made to open her legs for the wandering touch of her abusers, she placed herself elsewhere. Somewhere she could spend time with the only woman on the planet who cared for her.
As she stayed there, kneeling on the tarp, her mind wandered back into the beauty that was Dahlia's touch. The caress of her Agiel as it purged her of all her mistakes... and then those hands that possessed and claimed her. Marking her.
She belonged to Dahlia.
She would not, could not, think of Mistress.
The door creaked loudly but Kahlan was in too much of a daze to respond visibly. Inwardly she flinched.
Her mind barely registered the sensation of someone standing behind her. She hadn't even heard movement, which was ridiculous because the heels of Mord-Sith boots always snapped at the floors, as if punishing the cement for not breaking under their touch.
She let out a strangled whimper when someone pressed their fingers between her shoulders, nudging her forward. Unable to restrain the protests of pain, she shut her eyes tightly as they lengthened the chain, giving her room to kneel forward.
"Ohh..." she gurgled as nerve endings came to life in her spine. The grunts and groans that left her throat were animalistic, blood rushed through her torso at finally moving. She leaned heavily into the Rada'Han for a moment, choking herself as her gaze finally levelled off and she could stare at the tarp instead of the corner of the ceiling.
When it became unbearable, she finally shifted back to breathe, her eyes firmly on the tarp.
Someone moved, kneeling on the tarp before her...
She stared at the knees, spread out almost obscenely before her. Her gut twisted in recognition.
Kahlan swallowed hard, fearing the worst. Mistress grabbed her jaw and forced her to look up.
There was no leather corset. There was no neck brace.
Cara smiled at her, the tips of her blonde tresses smoothly rested past her shoulders, glinting orange as the sun set. She looked softer, almost playful.
They'd saved a village. In thanks, the townspeople had offered them free food. And so it was that she sat at a table, close to Richard but watching Cara. Off on her own, sitting in a darkened corner where the candlelight made her glow amber. She looked alone. It made Kahlan want to reach out, drag her back to the table. But it would be pointless; Cara did not do chit chat.
The weight of her gaze must have made its presence known. Cara turned to her, expression closed and disapproving. With recognition came the smallest of smiles, a quirk of one corner of her lip, slightly playful and mostly questioning.
It was a beautiful smile.
Her face was wet. She had promised herself she would not cry.
"Oh Kahlan... Surely you would appreciate this lie?"
She shut her eyes, her left not particularly useful in the first place.
"Leave me alone." She hadn't meant to speak, but the raw pain at seeing... Mistress. Like that. It tested the limits of her sanity. Her raspy voice sounded so pathetic, swallowed up easily by the dense stone walls of the temple.
"Alone?" She felt the mattress shift and listened to the creak of leather. Mistress's warm breath on her face made her sick. As if each draw took pieces of her soul with it and breathed back death. "You would not like to see your Mistress? Dahlia would be most hurt..."
"Dahlia?" Her eyes shot open, her left stinging as she forced its swollen lids wide. The pitchy squeak would have embarrassed her and she would have admonished herself for believing anything Mistress told her... but she missed Dahlia. And Mistress was before her – looking like that.
She needed a moment, just a moment with the one person who had loved her.
"Yes, Dahlia..." the smile widened, green eyes dancing. It echoed old promises. "Would you like to see her?"
"Yes." She couldn't even bring herself to hesitate, to pretend to think about it. To pretend she was not eager to the point of senility.
"Very well..." Mistress cocked her head, leaning back as her fingers played with Kahlan's hair. "But you must do one thing for me."
"What?" She asked sharply, her heart racing in her throat.
"Tell me. What is my name?"
Kahlan stared at her blankly, a small part of her brain screaming in abject terror.
"Mistress." She whispered, her blue eyes, broken and fearful, begged.
"No." Mistress leaned forward again, her fingers gripping Kahlan's head back by the hair. Cheek to cheek, one empty jade orb burned through Kahlan's only good eye. Her words were careful, powerful and dangerous.
"Think carefully, Kahlan. I will ask again. If you fail to answer me correctly... I will bring Dahlia here. And here on this bed, with you, I will kill her." The sound of Kahlan's soft crying and even softer pleading only spurred Mistress further. "I will kill her. I will kill her slowly. Do you understand?"
"Creator... please... yes, I understand..." She snorted, hyperventilating as her mind imagined this happening.
"I will take off my gloves... and with my bare hands – I will use my fingers to tear open her throat..."
"Oh Spirits... please no... no please..."
"There will be no Breath of Life. Nothing will bring her back. And so help me – Kahlan – I will leave her corpse in your room. To rot. With you. You will bed with her."
At that point Kahlan had no words, only mumbled apologies and gasps.
Mistress leaned back again, allowing Kahlan to slump forward as she cried.
"Kahlan. What is my name?"
For a split second – for only a tiny moment – Kahlan Amnell rose up. Her heart and her mind recoiled at what was happening. She was Mother Confessor. She protected those she loved. She killed for them. She did not bend to another's will. And she would die fighting to protect her land, her people, and her family.
It was only for a moment.
Because her family was dead. And she, alone, did not have the power to save the world. No prophecy rested on her shoulders. They had rested entirely on one man. A dead man made into a monument for a decadent, hedonistic lunatic with much power and no limitation.
And she was no longer Mother Confessor. She was a pet. Dahlia's pet.
So she died a little more that day and braced herself for the horror of her life.
"Cara." The name left her lips like a prayer. No prayer that would reach the Creator, only one that teased the Keeper's ears.
It was true. Mistress was Cara. The tears fell harder and the world became uglier.
Cara got up silently, her weight shifting the bed. Kahlan felt as if her whole body turned to lead and she couldn't bring herself to look up when the door opened. She had forgotten the whole point of Cara's visit and it wasn't until both women were standing by the bed that she realised she was supposed to look at them.
"Dahlia! You - " The ecstasy in her voice died quickly.
Dahlia stood there naked, eyes glassy and staring out the window blankly. Her lips were parted slightly, a string of drool slowly making its way down her jaw.
"Mistress?" Kahlan gawked in shock.
Dahlia's body appeared unmarked, thin to the point where Kahlan could count every bone, but otherwise unmarked. Something was wrong. Terribly wrong.
"Dahlia, say hello to your pet." The words were barely a command, almost a suggestion, but Dahlia reacted instantly.
She turned to Kahlan, staring through her, her body rigid. Dahlia made a grunting noise.
"What... what did you do to her?" Her skin broke out in goosebumps. Dahlia looked like a perfect corpse.
With a light touch, Cara made Dahlia fall across the bed in front of Kahlan. The shattered woman lay limp at Kahlan's knees with no indication of being aware of her environment.
Cara grinned eerily at Kahlan before she climbed onto the bed, straddling Dahlia's bony waist. Dahlia turned to face the ceiling, to face Cara.
"What did you do?" Kahlan hissed, as angry as her energy allowed her to be. Not for the first time, she wished the Rada'Han were not around her neck. She would have loved to use the Con Dar.
"What did I do?" Cara looked at her, her hands playing with Dahlia's braid. She looked at Dahlia before turning back to Kahlan and replying. "I did whatever I wanted to."
"Damn you!" She wailed, unable to believe that Cara could be so cruel.
The slap was so hard it stunned her stupid. It had struck her wounded eye which only amplified the pain. But that was not what surprised her.
Dahlia hadn't even turned to her, but her hand had moved so rapidly Kahlan hadn't even seen it coming.
"Dahlia disapproves..." Cara mused, removing her gloves to stroke Dahlia's cheek.
"Dahlia... Dahlia... please, Dahlia... look at me..." Kahlan felt her world crumble, built on a weak foundation with the softest of plaster, everything was slowly coming undone.
Dahlia didn't react, still relaxed under Cara's touch.
"She won't look at you." That recognizable, matter-of-fact voice tugged at Kahlan's memories. "She's mine. Much like you were hers. You're going to be mine, too."
Kahlan stared, watching as Cara moved her hands to Dahlia's breasts, caressing them sensually before raking her nails over tender flesh. Dahlia moaned pleasurably.
"Dahlia... I'm yours... I'll always be yours..." she desperately tried to make herself heard, to break through whatever Cara had done.
Dahlia arched her back as Cara moved to place herself between sickly thighs.
"I made her cut off her tongue."
Kahlan stopped breathing.
"She did it herself. At my order." Cara ground her hips into Dahlia's sex, making the other woman moan as Cara's Agiel pressed into her leg.
"No..." She choked, watching in revulsion at Dahlia bucking against Cara, feeling pleasure from a monster's touch.
"Yes." The word was blunt and dead. Cara reached down, stroking Dahlia's sex, making her mewl appreciatively. Calm green eyes locked onto disbelieving blue while Dahlia panted and moaned.
"And if it would please me, she would do it again. Isn't that so, Dahlia?" Kahlan tasted bile in her throat as Dahlia bucked, whimpering in acceptance.
"This is your life now, Kahlan." She stopped her ministrations, making Dahlia whimper for lack of release. Cara wiped her coated fingers across Kahlan's face, making her flinch in disgust.
"Kahlan." She gripped the Confessor's face with the hand covered in Dahlia's scent. Kahlan flinched but forced herself to make eye contact.
"This is your life." She brushed her thumb over Kahlan's lip. "And this is my life."
Kahlan stiffened, staring at Cara intently, as if seeing her for the first time her life.
"This has always been my life. This is how your life will be from now on. You need to accept it."
"Nooooo..." The protest turned into a pained whine and she forced her eyes shut.
"Dahlia lied to you. You are not loved here. You will never be loved. Not by any of us." The words were almost melodic, so soothing and apologetic.
She felt the bed shift as both Mord-Sith got up and moved behind her. Kahlan refused to open her eyes. The image of Dahlia's emaciated body was burned into her mind. Another person she had loved... destroyed. And Cara kept talking, through the sound of leather shifting. Kahlan felt her skin go clammy. Her friend was stripping. If not having Dahlia strip her.
"Dahlia is a liar. As Lord Rahl's favourite, we talk frequently. She had personally requested that you be brought to her. Instead of me. Isn't that right, Dahlia?"
Kahlan's face went slack, unable to hear Dahlia's pathetic whimper.
"I'm surprised you didn't see this coming, Kahlan... Richard's death seems to have robbed you of your ability to think."
It couldn't be true; Kahlan didn't want to believe it. In her hour of desperation, she had opened up to Dahlia – her mistress. She had been so weakened, so tired and broken and she had given up. Dahlia had healed her, given her something to hope for: Dahlia's presence. Everything of value was Dahlia. All she had left.
Rahl had ordered the cruelty, Dahlia had been helpless against his orders.
That had been her truth.
"You're lying." It sounded hollow, even to her ears. In her heart, she had always suspected. She had always known.
Her bindings shifted and she suddenly found herself flat on her back across the bed, staring up at the ceiling again.
She had thought it made of smooth stone, but on closer inspection she realised it was splintered, tiny hairline cracks along the stone slabs.
Her arms were lifted above her head, the chains now strapped to the bed frame. Kahlan didn't flinch, numbly acknowledging the feel of Dahlia's fingertips as she secured Kahlan's wrists down tightly.
The ceiling became her fixation. It was such a stupid thing to focus her attention on. But without Dahlia she was lost again and she really didn't know what she was supposed to do. Her identity had crumbled again.
"Oh Kahlan... don't tell me you're going off into your own little world again?"
She ignored the soft laugh, fixated on the cracks on the ceiling. They were intricate and complex and, for some reason, started to remind her of branches. Thin intertwined braches with lush green leaves covering the sky.
She was surrounded by thick tightly packed trees so tall she couldn't see the end of them. The sun was barely visible through the branches. It felt sacred and claustrophobic at the same time. There was no way out. Plants crawled up the length of the bark of every tree, fighting to reach the top to feed off a little sunlight.
And Kahlan lay there, almost hypnotised by the tangled limbs up above.
She started when Cara suddenly hovered over her. It was then she realised Cara was naked. That toned, tan body comfortably placed between her legs. Cara rested a hand on either side of Kahlan's head and peered at her.
There was something strange about her face, almost violent. The oddity disappeared as quickly as it came and Kahlan relaxed as Cara smirked at her. She smiled back, amazed at the warm flush the smile had on her.
"Hmmm yes. Cara." She raised an eyebrow. "Where are you, Kahlan?"
"Where?" The question made her smile drop, a flicker of fear in her eyes immediately made Cara give her a weak little smack on the jaw.
"Don't be so emotional." She soothed. "Everything is fine."
Cara ran a hand down Kahlan's arm toward her breast. Kahlan gasped, shocked.
"Cara! What are you doing?" She sounded scandalized, but for some reason she couldn't move her hands down from above her head.
"I'm... serving the Mother Confessor." Her sly voice made Kahlan blush.
There was a reason they never had touched each other like this. Even though she had always been curious there had always been something that held her back. A commitment that was there in the back of Kahlan's mind, but something warned her not to reach for the information.
"We – we can't..."
"Oh? And why not?" There was something malevolent in Cara's voice. A bitterness and anger she did not understand.
"It's... it's just – Oh!" She hissed in surprise with something large and strange started pushing into her sex. "Ah! Cara that hurts! What is that?"
Cara was squeezing her eyes shut tight, biting on her lip, flushing slightly. The image of it momentarily distracted Kahlan from the pain of herself stretching.
"Cara – stop. Damn, it hurts." She groaned, but for some reason she did not fight. She couldn't move her arms.
"It's some very good magic." Cara chuckled throatily, one of her hands reaching down to shift the harness. "A phallus, attached to me by a harness. I can feel everything." She groaned softly, pushing the shaft up Kahlan slowly before pulling back slightly. It hurt like hell.
"Cara..." Kahlan started struggling but her arms would not move. She wanted to buck Cara off but what little twitching her hips did only pushed it in further, filling her up and burning.
"It's a bit big for you..." Cara gasped before gripping onto Kahlan's shoulders with her hands, bracing herself before she slammed their hips together in one smooth move. Kahlan screamed in shock, writhing under the blonde in an attempt to put distance between them.
"Calm yourself, Kahlan." Cara shifted her hands to pin Kahlan's hips down. "Keep this up and I won't last very long at all." Her hair fell over her face, a shimmering curtain that glinted in what little sun escaped through the curtain of leaves.
"Why... why are you doing this..." tears fell down Kahlan's cheeks and down to her ears. She turned her head when she felt Cara start moving inside her.
"Because I can." She thrust slowly, her body strained as she fought off a quick climax. "Because you're mine. Because Richard is dead. Because I'm all you have so you're going to take it."
Without meaning to, Cara's hips sped up, the sensation of Kahlan's moist, hot, and very tight core, wrapped around the phallus that had become an extension of her own, was too much.
"You're mine. I used to be yours. You failed me!" She thrust harder, angry at Kahlan for daring to cry like a little bitch. And each word tore at Kahlan's heart, forcing the past to the surface.
The cries of pain spurred Cara forward too fast and she found herself jerking erratically above Kahlan within minutes. Kahlan went slack at the same time Cara did, grateful for the reprieve though Cara's weight on top of her made it difficult to breathe. Her sex throbbed painfully and she started crying in earnest.
"Oh, Spirits..." Cara gasped. "It's no wonder men can hardly last at all."
The comment threw Kahlan off, sounding exactly like the Cara she knew.
"Cara... please... please stop. It hurts. Please... this isn't you... please..."
Cara shifted, making Kahlan wince since she hadn't pulled out. With her lips to Kahlan's ear she moved one hand down between them, placing her fingers to Kahlan's raw sex. She moved her hands lightly over tender skin.
"Where are we, Kahlan?" Cara whispered, those soft lips brushing against her earlobe. "Tell me where we are."
"We... Cara, please... don't do this..." She didn't want to talk about where they were.
"This is a foolish game you play, Kahlan. Wherever we are isn't real. We are in a Mord-Sith temple –"
"No..." she groaned in agony and pleasure mixed. Cara's voice was sex. But the words were torture.
"You are tied to a bed... Dahlia's standing by your head, staring at the wall. She's not allowed to watch. Part of her punishment..."
"Cara..." Her breath hitched, surprised to feel a flutter of pleasure in her lower abdomen as Cara's touch grew remarkably gentle.
"I told you not to trust her, but you never listen to me, Mother Confessor..." teeth grazed Kahlan's ear, making her shiver. "Richard was an idiot, always off saving his fellow idiots, so I was not surprised when he sent me on a suicide mission to save my long dead son..."
She remembered brushing her hand down the length of Cara's arm, feeling the tense muscles there, watching Cara's face school into one of disinterest.
"You wanted to go..." she tried to argue, unaware that she was unwittingly acknowledging the past in an effort to defend herself against Cara's verbal assault. "You pretended –"
"Yes, I wanted to go... but I would have dropped Dahlia for you. You know this." She sucked on Kahlan's ear briefly, making her eyes roll into the back of her head. Cara was tense above her, voice rasping as she obviously struggled not to respond to the wetness that was accumulating at Kahlan's sex as the teasing intensified.
"I – I'm sorry." Tears poured down her face anew.
"I know you are. Your apology is meaningless... Changes nothing." Cara moved down to her neck as her hand started rubbing slowly, turning Kahlan's pain into a delicious ache. Kahlan started shifting her hips, her arousal growing at Cara's shallow breathing.
"What... what can I do?"
"Where are we, Kahlan?"
A guttural sound left her throat as Cara started to move in time with her own pelvis.
"Tell... me..." Cara hissed, moving more firmly against Kahlan's body.
"We... we're at a Mord-Sith temple..." She panted, the slick sound of Cara's phallus passing in and out of her, coupled with the smack of their hips, echoed loudly within the stone room. The metal bed creaked and groaned while the tarp crackled.
They both grunted and gasped as their pace started moving faster. Kahlan whined Cara's name over and over, incapable of thinking of anything else.
Kahlan was dying for release, her whole body was tense, but whenever she got close Cara would stop abruptly and force her hips immobile until Kahlan's begging grew calmer. Then Cara would start up again to bring her even closer.
All the while, Cara would make her talk; make her say things that broke her heart.
"I'm yours... all yours... it's my fault... Richard's dead. I failed... You... please... Creator, please..."
They were covered in sweat, skin bruised and scratched as they moved needily against each other.
It was an exquisite torture and part of Kahlan wondered how Cara could bear to touch her body after the entire temple had taken turns with it first.
For what felt like the hundredth time, Cara brought her close to her peak before she stopped. Kahlan grew incoherent, trying to fight the stronger woman, to demand completion. But before she could do anything, she heard a curious snap of metal.
Cara leaned away from her, shakily bracing herself on the bed with one arm, the other hand dangling the Rada'Han.
Kahlan's face went white, all pleasure forgotten.
"You have a choice now, Kahlan." Cara's hair was matted, her face reddened from exertion, and it reminded Kahlan of every time they'd fought D'Haran soldiers, making her feel breathless. "You can kill me now. Kill us both."
Kahlan blinked, suddenly aware of Dahlia standing above her ramrod straight.
"And then leave. There's a tree right outside that window. Climb down it. And leave." She whispered tersely, as if goading Kahlan.
Panic flooded Kahlan's senses. With her heart in her throat, she suddenly realized the world was impossibly large and without Cara she had no one. Richard was long gone. So was Zedd. There was no hope and she would be alone in the world. The last Confessor. There was no point.
She would be directionless, lonely and broken. And the idea of Cara... dead... it made her sick. And it had been all her fault. What would be the point of her life?
Cara's expression closed when Kahlan frantically grabbed the Rada'Han and attached it back around her neck. She thought she caught sight of disappointment in Cara's features.
And then Cara moved her hips, with the same methodical and precise motions Kahlan had always known her to be capable of. And in a matter of seconds Kahlan was keening and bucking as Cara grunted her own release.
They twitched and shuddered for a good few minutes before they went limp.
And Cara did not stop; as soon as her energy came back she was back to fucking Kahlan senseless, over and over, while Dahlia stood on shaky and weak legs, staring at the wall.
The Agiel came into play and Kahlan's screams would shift between pain and pleasure. In the end Kahlan was on her stomach, completely boneless as she came weakly for what she hoped was the last time. Her body was covered in Cara's marks, bloodied and bruised; the tarp had been put to good use. Her body couldn't take any more sensation. She no longer even had the energy to beg Cara to stop or slow down.
"You are to call me Mistress Cara." Kahlan groggily made a noise of acquiescence, unable to open her eyes. "You made your choice. You are mine. Don't be stupid and start daydreaming. If you displease me I will toss you back to the bottom where you'll be everyone's bitch."
"Yes, Mistress Cara..." she mumbled tiredly. Her body was a complete wreck.
A heavy silence followed, as if Cara had more to say. But all Kahlan heard was the sound of the two Mord-Sith leaving as two others entered to drag her barely conscious form to the baths to be rinsed off.
She longed for Mistress Cara already.
"And that is how you break a pet." She spoke almost wistfully.
Dahlia didn't move, standing stiffly by Cara's bed while the now cleaned blonde stretched her body out.
"You don't feed their... futile hopes. You take it away. You make them know your reality." Cara trailed off, talking more to herself than to the mute woman by the bed. Cara turned to Dahlia, as if remembering her presence.
Dahlia stayed there stoically, aware that she was not to move unless Cara told her otherwise.
"Hmm... I bet you want some sleep don't you, Dahlia?" She smiled a little, mocking. "Would you like to sleep here? By me?" The tear that fell from Dahlia's cheek only made her smile wider. "If you want to, all you have to do is ask..."
There was no response.
"My, I guess you'd rather not prefer the comfort of my bed. But I shall forgive your poor temper... after all; you're probably not feeling well. I think... if you work hard enough... I will allow a wizard in to see you. See if he can fix your problem."
The soft whimper of gratitude disgusted her.
"Go, lie on the floor at the foot of my bed." She half snapped as she leaned over and snuffed the candle out with her fingertips.
She listened to Dahlia shuffle on the floor for a few minutes. When everything went quiet, her mind drifted away, dreaming of onyx eyes and a metal collar in her fist.