"Forgiveness is the ultimate sacrifice."
Flynn is a terrible traveling companion. He complains constantly, never does his share of the work, and seems far too sanguine about the various threats his companions pose to his sanity and well-being.
Kahlan's fingers itch to Confess him. But she knows she is only distracting herself from her true dilemma.
Kahlan watches Flynn catch up with Cara and make some impertinent remark. Cara responds with a glare and a hand brushed against her agiel—saying without words, Just try it.
Before Stowcroft, that little scene might even have made Kahlan smile.
Now all she sees when she looks at Cara is the Mord'Sith torturing Dennee to death, and her eyes grow hot.
But she has made her decision—has seen how sincere Cara's remorse is. Kahlan knows Cara would do anything to protect Richard, and, although that devotion stirs jealousy in her heart, she knows Richard needs Cara. And Kahlan can hardly fault Cara's taste.
So Kahlan will accept her, make camp with her, fight by her side, even protect her from harm—and someday soon maybe she won't sleep with a knife under her pillow.
Kahlan makes Cara a part of her life, and not only for Richard's sake. But Kahlan vows that, for what she did to Dennee and the little boy Richard fought so hard to save, Kahlan will never forgive her.
The sweet joy of having her sister returned to her is almost worth the pain of knowing Richard is in deadly peril—Kahlan thinks she should feel sorry for saving Cara from Dennee's wrath, but today there is no room in her heart for hatred. All she can think of is that Dennee is alive, by some miracle returned to her—
And when the magician Dennee Confessed brings Richard's soul back to his body, and Cara gives him the Breath of Life (Kahlan can't help but think that there is a useful ability), Kahlan is more grateful than she can express that there is enough dark magic elixir to bring back Richard, her beloved Richard—and not enough to oust Dennee from her own borrowed body.
Guilt assails her at the thought of the poor woman whose life Dennee has so unconsciously stolen—but then Richard wakes, and takes her in his arms, and all is well.
Someday, Kahlan thinks on the nights she can't sleep, someday maybe she will get Dennee's revenge. Maybe something will happen to reveal the depths to which all Mord'Sith have sunk to Richard, and he will no longer defend Cara.
(In her heart, Kahlan knows this will never happen; Richard sees the good in everyone, and his good opinion, once gained, is incredibly hard to lose.)
But the fantasy lacks its customary satisfaction, and Kahlan, watching Cara from her place on the hard ground, can't quite bring herself to hate her anymore. Underneath it all, she's as lost as Kahlan is—or more so.
"Why aren't you asleep?" Cara whispers from her position on watch. "Your watch isn't until just before dawn."
"Just thinking," Kahlan whispers back. Zedd snores.
"Well, think while you walk tomorrow," Cara whispers. "You need sleep or you'll be useless when we confront Denna." The Mord'Sith's eyes gleam briefly, and Kahlan knows she's thinking about some revenge of her own. Cara seems to feel little loyalty to her erstwhile Sisters; Kahlan isn't sure how she feels about that.
Kahlan smiles, not sure if Cara can see her or not. "Goodnight, Cara," she whispers.
Just before she falls asleep, she hears a faint, grudging, "Goodnight, Kahlan." In the morning, she isn't sure if she imagined it or not.
When the excruciating pain stops, Kahlan blinks, and just catches Cara's words—"I'm impressed. Even the strongest Mord'Sith would have fainted."
Kahlan smiles and nods, and, in the moment before her eyes close and she slumps over in a dead faint, she looks at Cara and thinks, I forgive you.
Even more surprising, she doesn't change her mind when she wakes up. Kahlan's thigh barely twinges as she stomps after Cara (presumably all her nerve endings are burned away), and she thinks it again, very deliberately, Cara Mason, I forgive you.
And Kahlan thinks of her vengeance, drags it to the front of her mind, and just…lets it go.