Fandom: Legend of the Seeker/Sword of Truth series
Chapter Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: I do not own Legend of the Seeker or the Sword of Truth series in any way, shape, or form. They belong to ABC Disney and Terry Goodkind. This is strickly for creative purposes and not for profit.
Warnings: Cara/Kahlan sexytimes, and cute times and all around fluff and some extra stuff for taste
Summary: Zedd performs the spell of undoing on Dahlia and finds himself in a situation very different than he expected.
Spoilers: Uhhhmm, nope, can't think of any
A/N: Sorry it took such a long time but here it is, chapter 2 of Unbroken. I also want to point out that if you haven't read the prequel aka Torn or the prologue yet, you definately, DEFINATELY should. Happy reading, ^_^
A/N2: I keep forgetting to do this but I want to thank my best friends Cab and Julia for their help and betaing this. I also want to thank all of you for sticking with me and reviewing, it's really encouraging to get such positive feedback and I'll really try to make more timely updates. Off you go now, enjoy the fic, :)
Even though Zedd had planned to meet with Richard the next day, he wasn't able to see his grandson again until two days later. During that time, Zedd kept a low profile, spending all his time in the Wizard's Keep and away from anyone who could figure out that something was different about him. He'd managed to find information on the spell of undoing but nothing that could help the predicament he found himself in.
Now he stood before Kahlan, having been specifically summoned for an important announcement. Nicci was also there, standing beside him, and so was Richard who stood by Kahlan's side where she sat in the First chair. They spoke briefly about the events in Nicobarese and about keeping an eye on them for further outbreaks of the Fold. All of which Zedd listened to but kept quiet about, his eyes averted from Kahlan. When Kahlan glanced at him, he dropped his gaze to the polished floor before her feet.
"Lastly," she began. "Cara and I have decided to celebrate the solstice."
"Mistress, that's great news." Richard said happily, a note of surprise in his voice.
"I agree mistress, that's wonderful to hear." Nicci replied, her joy sounding more subdued.
"Thank you both. I do apologized for such short notice. Cara and I were just so busy lately that we didn't have a chance to talk about it until recently."
"There's nothing to apologize for mistress, Zedd and I shall begin the preparations at once." Nicci said calmly.
"And Declan and I will make arrangements to leave for D'Hara as soon as possible." Richard responded confidently, eager to please his mistress.
"No." Kahlan said easily. "We're going to have the solstice here in Aydindril and when the time comes, we will have a gift to present to D'Hara."
Zedd's mind was reeling. Something important was going on that he was a major part of yet he had no idea what it could be. He would be expected to perform some kind of act he knew nothing about. Something he'd obviously done before and he would be expected to do it soon if the current conversation was any indication. There was no way he could keep up his charade any longer. As if sensing his thoughts, he heard Kahlan address him.
"Zedd? You've barely spoken a word. Are you not pleased?" She asked.
Zedd's eyes widened in alarm. He dared not disagree with any decision Kahlan made. Instead, he followed Richard and Nicci's example.
"Of course not Mistress. I'm overjoyed by this latest development. I was simply making a mental checklist of all the things that need to be done." He responded, risking a glance to see if she believed him. Hoping that she did.
He almost sighed with relief when he saw that Kahlan's attention wasn't on him but focused intently on something behind him. Her eyes flicked to him briefly.
"Very well, I'll leave you to your duties." She said, her attention returning to whatever was behind them. Nicci bowed and Zedd followed her example before they turned to leave. It was then that Zedd saw what or who had Kahlan's full attention.
Cara was standing at the back of the room. She was wearing a fitted blood red tunic, not unlike her leathers, tight dark trousers and leather boots. Her gaze was focused solely on Kahlan. Zedd noticed that she was holding something in her arms as she started towards them. When she got closer, Zedd realized she was holding Kahlan's maroon traveling clothes.
"Richard, would you please pick up Dahlia and Kari from their lessons today." She said, her eyes never wavering from Kahlan's.
"Yes Lord Rahl." Richard said with a slight smile before joining Zedd and Nicci as they left the room. Just before the door closed, Zedd heard Cara ask,
"Want to go for a ride?"
Outside the council chambers, Richard turned in a different direction than Nicci, and Zedd followed him.
"Hey Zedd, how's your memory?" Richard asked as he walked up beside him.
"Nearly all there I think." Zedd responded with a reassuring smile but Richard only frowned. He wasn't sure if Zedd getting his memories back so slowly was a good or bad thing. Zedd noticed the frown and tried changing tactics. He hadn't missed the searing gazes passing between Cara and Kahlan or the husk in Cara's voice when she spoke. It made him curious.
"Does that happen often?" He asked.
"Does what happen often?" Richard asked, still distracted by his thoughts.
"Mistress and Cara…" He said, leaving the end open for Richard to latch onto.
"Oh, that." Richard said with a chuckle. "Yeah, it happens often. Sometimes they don't leave the palace. There have even been a few instances when I accidentally caught them together." He finished, a blush creeping into his face.
"So does that mean Cara is no longer a mord'sith? She couldn't be since being with Kahlan that way would mean death for her, right?"
Richard's brow furrowed as he thought about it.
"I'm not sure." He said. "After Cara became the Lord Rahl, she stopped wearing her mord'sith leathers but she can still use her agiels. Then again, so can I. And she's never had reason to use her other mord'sith powers. But she's been with Mistress for ten years. They've had two daughters and plan to have another so I guess she isn't a mord'sith any longer." Richard concluded, but Zedd's attention was grabbed by something else he had said.
"How do you know they plan to have another child?" He asked.
Richard gave him an unsure smile, not certain if Zedd was joking or not. When Zedd continued to stare at him intently, he said carefully,
"I know because Mistress just told us so."
Zedd's eyes slowly widened as he considered what Richard had just told him.
"The solstice? The solstice is some way to get Cara and Ka-Mistress to conceive?" He asked in shock, just barely managing to catch his slip.
"Yeah." Richard replied, slightly amused and a little confused at Zedd's response. "What did you think it was?"
Zedd didn't know what to say. Just as he thought he couldn't be in any more trouble, he finds out that he's expected to perform a miracle. This reality obviously wasn't going to make it easy for him to get home.
Cara stood stock still, taking in her surroundings, her senses heightened. She could smell the fresh pine needles, newly fallen in perpetrating for the coming autumn. She could hear the small waterfall cascading into the lake just far away enough to be heard but not seen. And she could see the multiple tracks her prey made in an half-hearted attempt to confuse her. Her prey was becoming more and more unfocused and soon Cara would have her.
After Kahlan had changed her clothes, Cara unabashedly watching every second of it, and Kahlan in turn keeping her eyes on Cara, they'd taken their mounts and rode out of Aydindril, their destination anywhere and nowhere at all. They'd been riding along peacefully for about an hour when Kahlan had suddenly started her all white gelding into a fast gallop. Cara had only hesitated a moment before following at high speed.
Kahlan had led them through a meadow and along the forest line before abruptly turning onto a game trail leading through the dense trees. Cara had lost sight of her once they'd entered the forest and had slowed her pace until she spotted Kahlan's horse just off the path. Kahlan was nowhere to be found.
Cara had dismounted then, leaving the horses to find water on their own and started tracking Kahlan through the forest. Once she'd found her, Kahlan had congratulated her and kissed her cheek by way of reward before running off again. Cara had smiled and the game had begun.
What had started out as innocent had quickly evolved into something more carnal. Every time Cara caught Kahlan, their kisses got a little deeper, their touches a little bolder. Their embraces a little tighter. It wasn't long before Cara started removing Kahlan's clothing along the way. She'd already taken off Kahlan's elaborate belt and jacket with the lacing along the arms and the last time she'd caught her, she'd pushed her to the ground, covering her body with her own. Their mouths had met hotly as Cara had reached beneath her skirt and taken off Kahlan's undergarment, her fingers slipping and sliding through Kahlan's copious wetness. Kahlan had gasped sharply, biting Cara's bottom lip hard enough to make her growl before pushing her away and running off again. Cara had stayed where she was for a moment longer than usual then, just breathing through her exquisitely, all consuming arousal as she licked her fingers clean.
Now she stood trying to decipher Kahlan's muddled tracks, her brain saturated with the confessor. She smelt her scent every time she breathed in, Kahlan's heady taste heavy on her tongue. She was no longer sure who was the cat and who was the mouse in their little game. All she was certain of was that the next time she caught Kahlan would be the last.
Once she was certain of which way to go, she slowly tracked her quarry through the woods. It had barely been five minutes when she heard a twig snap. She turned in time to catch a blur of movement through the trees. A flash of leg, a glimpse of long flowing hair and Cara was moving swiftly in the same direction. She ran easily, her long legs slowly eating up the distance between her and Kahlan. She kept to the edge of the confessor's peripheral, making sure that she knew that Cara was closing in on her.
Kahlan bobbed and weaved as she ran and Cara stayed with her, their movements almost synchronized. Cara was almost upon her when a large pine tree came into view. With no time to avoid it, Kahlan ran to it, pressing gently against the bark. A split second later, Cara was pressed against her back, her arms on either side of her, closing her in. Keeping her.
Kahlan turned around, their lips colliding before her back was fully pressed to the tree. Kahlan tried to gain control, her hands moving quickly down Cara's back to tightly grip her rear but Cara kept her at bay, pressing their bodies tightly together as her tongue plundered her mouth. She took her hands and moved them until they were pinned high above their heads, drawing Kahlan even tighter against her. Kahlan slid her leg up along Cara's and onto her hip, making herself more open to her. Cara accepted the invitation eagerly, moving one of her hands between Kahlan's legs and sliding her fingers through the arousal that now coated her thighs.
Kahlan groaned, her sensitive body shuddering at the light touch. She pulled out of the kiss but kept their lips together.
"I'm so close, please touch me. Make me come." She panted into Cara's mouth.
Cara cupped between her legs tightly before pulling her hand away to drag her nails along the inside of her thigh. Kahlan moaned helplessly, her head falling back against the tree as her hips bucked involuntarily.
"Cara, don't tease me." Kahlan almost whimpered.
"You've played your game and now I'll play mine." She breathed as she moved her mouth over Kahlan's cheek, her teeth nipping at her jaw. The hand holding her wrists to the tree tightened as Kahlan began to struggle. Her nips moved along Kahlan's jaw and down her neck while her other hand stroked down her thigh to grip her knee. Cara shifted until her thigh was between Kahlan's legs and began to pull Kahlan to her, her thigh slowly stroking as more and more pressure was applied to Kahlan's center.
Kahlan's body writhed in sweet agony as Cara slowly drove her insane. Every time her hips tried to find a rhythm against her thigh, Cara would ease the pressure or take it away completely. Kahlan was so frustrated at being denied her release, she was unsure whether she was angry or upset. With a lucky twist of her wrist, her right hand was free and she immediately wrapped it around Cara's throat. Cara pulled back to meet her eyes.
"Don't tease me." She ordered but she wasn't able to completely conceal the pleading in her voice. Her eyes were dark, belying just how close she was to her orgasm. Cara released the hand above their heads to grasp the one at her throat.
"If you're gong to confess me, " She said casually, moving Kahlan's hand from her throat and placing it on her breast, directly over her heart. "Do it here, where it will do the most damage." She finished in a whisper. She leaned in to kiss Kahlan as she moved the hand holding her leg, back to where her mate needed her most. Kahlan buried her free hand in Cara's hair, crushing their mouths together while Cara's hand slipped under her skirt. They kissed fiercely, Cara's hand gripping the one pressed over her heart while her fingers slid home within Kahlan.
Kahlan's gasp came out a moan as she pushed her tongue into Cara's mouth. Cara took her in hungrily, her fingers finding a quick steady rhythm. Her thumb found Kahlan's throbbing clit, rubbing it in small tight circles that caused Kahlan to mewl. Cara had never learned how to control herself once she began touching the confessor. Holding her, tasting and hearing her, being inside her for the first time as she became frantic for release. All those things only served to drive Cara wild, urging her to take Kahlan hard and fast. To make her world crumble and shake apart so that Cara could put her back together with lingering kisses and gentle caresses.
She added another finger on her next thrust and Kahlan's hand in her hair tightened painfully, signaling to Cara that she was right on the edge. A few more thrusts and Kahlan would erupt in a cascade of ecstasy, right into Cara's hands. Kahlan's inner walls convulsed rapidly and Cara pulled out of the kiss just in time to catch Kahlan's eyes as they swirled black and then there was thunder without sound.
Cara instantly felt the moment Kahlan released her magic. She didn't know how it felt for others Kahlan used her powers on but for her, it was euphoria. It was as if Cara's body was breathing in Kahlan's essence. Breathing her power, her glory, her love, precisely as her body breathed it out.
One breath, one life.
Kahlan flowed into her at all points of contact between them but Cara solely focused on where Kahlan's hand rested above her heart. It swirled swiftly, filling her heart, then her chest, then her whole torso. It connected at her arms and neck before pushing into her legs and head, filling her completely. And for one brief absolute moment, Kahlan was inside her, reaching into every inch of her. Every crevice, every dark place, and lit them aflame with her love.
Cara had never felt anything like it, as if her body was cleansed by Kahlan's in a whorl of fire and light. On occasion it had even been powerful enough to make Cara climax without Kahlan ever touching her. It was intoxicating and she had to be very careful not to become addicted to the sensation. Between that and her natural passion for Kahlan, they would never leave their bed chambers.
Kahlan made a keening sound low in her throat and Cara kissed it softly, pulling her close. And as quickly as Kahlan's magic had entered Cara, it left, flowing out of her very pores as she released the breath she had been holding. The one she always held in those brief blissful moments.
Kahlan sighed, her body shuddering pleasantly as Cara's lips slowly caressed her throat and the sensitive spot behind her jaw. She loved how affectionate Cara got after their love making and often wondered if Cara was even aware of it. She moaned softly as Cara's teeth gently bit into her earlobe, her hands moving up Kahlan's back to begin untying the laces of her corset. Once it was gone, leaving her in only her skirt and boots, she reached for Cara's tunic, pulling it from her trousers. But before she could take it off, Cara stilled her hands.
Kahlan frowned at this and Cara kissed her softly. When she pulled back, Kahlan's frown had gentled but hadn't completely disappeared.
"Not yet." Cara whispered, slowly kissing her way down Kahlan's body. She graced each of her nipples with a butterfly kiss. "I want to make you come again, this time much slower." She said, her tone a low rumble that made Kahlan's entire body clench in anticipation. Her lidded eyes glazed with renewed desire and her frown melted away, turning into a faint smile as Cara pressed a lingering kiss to the lower portion of her abdomen, where their next child would soon live and grow. She slid her hand deep into her blonde locks and Cara leaned into the caress as she moved to her knees, Kahlan's leg slipping onto her shoulder.
"Once we've finished here, we'll go down to the water and you can have me any way you want." Cara finished, her green eyes, darkened by lust, boring into Kahlan's. That look stoked the low fire in Kahlan's stomach into an inferno and her hand reflexively tightened in Cara's hair as she pulled her closer.
"Well, let's not waste time then." She said, her voice thick with desire.
"Yes mistress." Cara breathed.
"How is any of this possible?" Zedd asked after he finally got over his shock.
"What do you mean?" Richard asked, confused by Zedd's vague question.
"I've seen the way Mistress looks at Cara. It's the same way she used to look at you. She truly loves her." Zedd said, almost awed by the thought.
"Yes, she does." Richard responded, his lips twisting into a confused smile, not sure where Zedd was going with his statement.
"But how? Mistress shouldn't be able to love anyone after she was separated from her emotions. Nor should she be able to conceive. How is it possible that she can do both?"
"Oh." Richard said, finally understanding what Zedd was talking about. "Most of that was possible because of the other Kahlan." His tone was soft. Even though he loved his mistress completely, the thought of the other Kahlan's death still caused a pang of sorrow in his chest. He wasn't sure if it was simply because she was a part of his mistress that she had to lose or if it was because he might have some residual feelings for the Kahlan he loved before she was split in two.
"What happened Richard?" Zedd coaxed gently, noticing the play of emotions that crossed his grandson's face.
Richard blinked, coming out of his somber thoughts at the sound of Zedd's voice. He gave a small smile. He was happy to tell the story despite some of the sadder parts.
"Well, not long after Cara became the Lord Rahl, she fell in love with Mistress." He began.
"How do you know that? Lord Rahl or not, I find it hard to believe that Cara would pick flowers to present to Mistress or outwardly confess her love. Not in front of others anyway." Zedd said.
"No, she didn't do any of those things. Actually it was Mistress who told me. She said that Cara was beginning to show signs of having deep feelings for her and that she wasn't sure what to do about it. She said that those things weren't important to her any longer but that Cara was her mate and that she wanted to give her some measure of joy even though she knew Cara would never say anything about it.
"At that time, Mistress was also having trouble conceiving even though she had been trying with prince Fyren ever since we sealed the rift. I could tell that both situations were beginning to displease her and suggested that perhaps she could express her concerns to you and Nicci since all was well in D'Hara and the Midlands. Mistress agreed and the next morning Mistress, Cara, the other Kahlan, you, Nicci, and myself met in the council chambers.
"When Mistress asked, you explained that she and the other Kahlan were just magical fragments and that neither could conceive as they were. When Mistress asked if there was any way for her to continue the confessor line without rejoining with her other self, it was Kahlan who surprised everyone by answering.
"Is there a way for Mistress to get the fragments she needs from me without fully combining us?" Kahlan asked eagerly, surprising everyone and bringing five pairs of eyes to focus on her. She seemed to be on the verge of tears which wasn't surprising given the disappointing news her mistress had just received.
Zedd glanced at their mistress, who was watching her other self intently, before turning to address Kahlan's question.
"Well yes, in theory it could work. Think of yourself and Mistress as towers of children's building blocks that are just barely stable." His eyes flicked to the more powerful of the two before continuing. "If I were to take 'blocks' from one tower to give to the other, while one would become more sturdy, the other would be less able to support itself…and would eventually crumble." He finished, his final words hanging in the air for all present to absorb. Again it was Kahlan who was the first to speak.
"Could you do it Zedd, take what Mistress needs from me and give it to her?" Her voice was hopeful, her eyes pleading. Zedd hesitated for a moment before answering.
"Yes, with Nicci's help the magic should be easy enough to perform. But…there is a great chance that you won't survive." He explained softly, wanting Kahlan to understand what she was asking.
"I know. I don't mind dying as long as it's for Mistress."
The Mother Confessor tensed at this. She'd been sure to stay quiet during the conversation, not wanting to influence her more emotional half, for or against the idea of sacrificing herself. But now that Kahlan had said it out loud, the confessor was conflicted about what to do. Wasn't she the one who had told Richard that he didn't have the right to murder an individual just to get the one he wanted? But wasn't it a different matter if it was part of herself who wanted to do it?
With what her other half was proposing, she would be able to continue the confessor line and still be able to rule the way she wanted to. She would even be able to give Cara what she knew her mate would crave if she wasn't already, despite her denials.
Did she not have the right to take the parts that were being offered so willingly? Her parts? Especially if it meant that she could continue to serve the Midlands and now D'Hara to the fullest by providing future confessors as well as heirs to the D'Haran throne. Wasn't it her duty? Wasn't it for the best? She didn't know what she should do and she didn't like the feeling.
Out of the corner of her eye, Cara noticed the tightening of Kahlan's jaw and the rigid tension of her body. She'd stayed quiet during the entire meeting, highly offended by the confessor's accusation that she was developing feelings for her. But now, seeing that the current topic was upsetting her mate, it caused something inside of Cara to bristle. She moved from her place at Kahlan's right side to put herself between the confessor and all that would threaten her.
"Don't listen to her. She's confessed, she'll say anything she thinks her mistress wants to hear." Cara said calmly.
"No!" The other Kahlan said firmly, turning to meet Cara's steady gaze head on. Cara arched an eyebrow and Kahlan flushed as she averted her gaze. She clenched her hands briefly before speaking.
"I mean yes, I am confessed and would do anything for Mistress, but that isn't the only reason I want to do this." She rushed to say, meeting Cara's eyes with less of a challenge but full of determination. "Ever since I was a child, long before I was split in two, I dreamed of being able to have love and children, a real family to cherish instead of one born out of necessity and enslavement. And I was always told that I could never have those things, that what I had was a duty to the world.
"But now, I have a chance to have all of the things I've ever wanted and still fulfill my duties. If sacrificing myself means that I could truly be happy in some way, then I would gladly pay the price." She said confidently and for a brief moment Cara could see a bit of the old Kahlan spark in her eyes.
Cara looked over her shoulder to meet Kahlan's eyes. Ultimately it was her decision to make and they would all abide by it. Kahlan's eyes moved from Cara's to meet a gaze so identical to hers, yet so different.
"Let me do this for you, for us. Please." Her other half implored, brilliant blue boring into brilliant blue. It wasn't lost on either Kahlan that one didn't call the other 'mistress'. They were simply equals in this decision.
The Mother Confessor nodded in acquiesce.
"Ok, we'll give it a try. Zedd, how soon can we begin?" She said, returning to herself.
"As soon as I get a few thing from the Keep, Mistress." He said, coming to attention at her question.
"Very well, collect what you need and bring them to my personal chambers. We'll begin when you return."
"Yes mistress." He said before leaving quickly, passing a captain of the Home Guard on his way out. The captain walked briskly through the room to bow before his lieges.
"Mother Confessor, Lord Rahl, please forgive my intrusion but the Seeker is needed." He said, his tone urgent.
"Can't it wait?" Richard asked more forcefully than he'd intended. It was just that the timing couldn't have been worse.
"No Seeker," the captain said, looking at him in surprise. "It cannot."
Richard's jaw clenched.
"It's alright Richard, go tend to what is needed." His mistress commanded gently.
Richard hesitated a moment longer, reluctant to leave, before turning to the waiting soldier.
"Lead the way." He said, gesturing towards the door. Just before he left, he looked back to see Kahlan smile at him before tuning a brighter smile onto their mistress.
"By the time I got back, everyone was leaving the council chambers. Cara was carrying Mistress in her arms. She was unconscious, her arm around Cara's neck and her face nuzzled against her throat.
"When I asked, you explained that everything was fine and that Mistress just needed some rest. You said that she would be able to conceive but that the other Kahlan hadn't survived. I asked if you knew why and you said that her body had already been dangerously unstable with so many emotions bombarding it constantly and that while the process eased some of the emotional strain, there wasn't enough of 'Kahlan' left to sustain herself and that she just disintegrated."
Zedd was speechless. He couldn't believe that he would ever suggest killing Kahlan, much less be ok with his part in it. Yet that was exactly what had happened. The longer he stayed in this world, the more he regretted erasing Dahlia from Cara's past and the sooner he wanted to correct the wrong. Richard didn't seem to notice Zedd's lack of words however and continued with his tale.
"And after Mistress got accustomed to her new emotions, she decided that she didn't want to have her children with prince Fyren but with Cara. She asked you and Nicci to see if there was any possible way for that to happen and here we are, nine years and two young confessors later." Richard finished with a happy smile.
Zedd forced a smile of his own, not knowing what else to do.
"Yes, here we are."
Kahlan sighed contently at the feeling of warm sunshine on her face and the cool sensation of the lake that enveloped the rest of her body. True to her word, once Cara had slowly brought her to a shuddering quivering mass of keening moans, they'd gone down to the shore of the lake where Kahlan had repaid her lover in full. Afterwards, they'd simply lain together for a while, reveling in the touch of each other's skin. Then Cara had pulled her to her feet and led her to the lake where they swam and played and just enjoyed the afternoon.
Now Kahlan was floating in the water while she waited for Cara to return from her dive. When she heard her resurface, she opened her eyes to see Cara standing in waist deep water slicking her hair back, causing her breasts to stand out and the muscles of her abdomen to tighten. The sight was enough to make Kahlan's entire body throb and she didn't think twice about swimming over and standing before her, her fingers grazing over Cara's torso. The blonde smiled at the touch before opening her eyes to meet Kahlan's shining ones. She wrapped her arms around the confessor and pulled her close before remembering that there was a question she wanted to ask her.
"Today, during your meeting with Zedd and Nicci," she began, wanting to gain Kahlan's attention.
"Yes?" Kahlan answered to indicate that she was listening as she wrapped her arms around Cara's shoulders.
"You spoke of a gift to present to D'Hara?" She said, leaning her head down to nip at Kahlan's shoulder. "What were you talking about?"
Kahlan smiled as she slid one of her hands along the back of Cara's neck and into her hair. Obviously she hadn't heard the first part of that conversation when she snuck into the chambers earlier that day.
"Well, you know how we have the solstice in D'Hara so that after winter has passed, we can return to Aydindril so that the people of the Midlands can be can be the first to meet the newest confessor?"
"Mhm." Cara responded, now kissing the spot she'd bitten.
"This time, I wanted to have the solstice here and then, when the time is right, D'Hara can be the first to not only meet another confessor but also to meet the newest heir to the throne." She finished in a soft voice. She felt Cara tense in her arms and wondered if she'd made the wrong decision.
"Does this make you happy?" She asked hesitantly, her voice quiet.
Cara pulled back and Kahlan's heart skipped a beat at what she saw. Cara's eyes were shining with tears and they were the brightest green Kahlan had ever seen. They bore into her, reaching in to brush her soul with the lightest of touches. Cara's expression seemed to be willing her, pleading her to understand just what she was feeling, as if she couldn't find the right words to describe it.
"Do you know how happy you make me?" Cara asked as she cupped Kahlan's face with both of her hands. She was at a loss to describe just how happy being with Kahlan made her. She swallowed, keeping their eyes locked, hoping that Kahlan would understand what she was going to say.
"I would endure being broken a thousand times if it meant that I got to be here like this. With you, just like this."
Kahlan couldn't stop the gasp that escaped her lips before Cara had even finished her words. Her body flooded with so many emotions, she was having a hard time identifying them all and an even harder time containing them as tears began to leak from her eyes, Cara's thumbs reaching to catch them.
Saying 'I Love You' was a rare thing for them, not because it wasn't something they needed to say. They just knew how they felt about one another and vice versa so it was unnecessary. But in that moment, Kahlan wanted to say 'I Love You' so much that it seemed to radiate from her body, coating Cara's with it's warmth. Knowing just what Kahlan was feeling, Cara kissed her with all she was worth and suddenly, words weren't so important.
Zedd stood quietly as he watched Richard talk to Declan later that afternoon. He'd spent most of the day with Richard as he fulfilled his daily duties and now it was time to pick up the princesses from their lessons. They'd come across Declan on their way and Richard decided to ask him to pick up Dahlia. That was yet another thing in this world that perplexed Zedd so he waited patiently for Declan to leave before he asked his question.
"Richard, do you know how princess Dalia go her name?" He asked.
When he performed the spell of undoing on Dahlia, he had ensured that she'd never become a Mord'Sith. Therefore, any interaction she had with Cara should have been minimal at best and only limited to their childhood. Yet Cara's first born child was named after the very woman who should have had little to no connection to her. It was a very curious development.
"Of course I do, don't you remember?" Richard asked, looking at him hopefully. When he just smiled apologetically, he sighed, accepting that Zedd's memory would come back in it's own time.
"Do you remember how I said we found Declan after defeating the Keeper and sealing the rift?" He asked, Zedd nodded that he did.
"Well not long after that Cara got sick, really sick. So sick that she could've died but she never said anything. We didn't even realize that something was wrong until we woke up one morning and Cara wasn't moving. When we checked on her, her breathing was rapid and shallow and she was so hot that we could barely stand to touch her. You said you couldn't tell exactly what was wrong with her and that you needed a more proper place to examine her than the middle of the woods. Luckily Stowcroft was a half day's ride away.
"It took us the whole day and well into the night to rig a litter and get her there but when we did, no one wanted to open their door to a Mord'Sith, even if she had been pardoned by the Mother Confessor. Our only other hope was Cara's sister who lived on the farthest edge of the village but before we could start that way, a young blonde woman beckoned us to follow her quickly to the cottage.
"When we got there, she instructed us to put Cara on the bed and then for me, you, and Declan to leave the room for a moment. We started to refuse until the woman asked for Kahlan's help and began to undress Cara and then we left. Later, while you examined Cara, the woman explained that she knew Cara as a child. That they had been friends and that she helped because she didn't blame Cara for being the victim of something she had no control over. Her name was-"
"Dahlia." Zedd supplied, putting the pieces together.
"Yes, Dahlia." Richard continued. "As you continued to examine Cara, Dahlia said that Cara had red puncture marks high on her left thigh, near her hip. When you moved the blanket that was covering her, the area Dahlia pointed out was angry red, puffy, and swollen and in the center were the two puncture marks oozing yellow pus. There was some shiny residue around the entire area and you explained that Cara had been struck by snake vine and that the residue was from Cara's attempt to heal it.
"You explained that while whatever herb Cara used helped, it was only a temporary fix. That without removing the thorns, her life was still in danger. You said that Cara must've thought she could get back to the Confessor's Palace before the poison could overtake her body and that it must have moved faster than she anticipated.
"It took you a full week to find all the ingredients you needed, purge the thorns from Cara's body, and help her recover from the poison. That entire time we all did what we could to help, including Declan, who never left Cara's side, and Dahlia who stayed home most of the time to watch Cara when we all needed rest, even though she was a teacher at the school. Even Cara's sister visited a few times.
"When Cara finally awoke, she refused to stay in bed one second longer than it took for her to walk on her own. You suggested that she take a few more days to recover but she glared and said that Mistress was waiting for us. So we thanked Dahlia, well Cara just nodded to her, and we left.
"Cara refused to fully rest until we returned to Aydindril and when we finally did, she collapsed. When Mistress asked, we explained what had happened and she immediately summoned Dahlia and offered her a reward but Dahlia refused. She said it was reward enough that she was able to help save Cara's life and to be personally thanked by the Mother Confessor for it. Mistress agreed to respect her wishes but when their first daughter was born, Mistress and Cara both agreed to name their first born for the woman who helped save Cara's life when no one else would." Richard concluded.
Zedd stayed quiet to ponder the uncanniness of Dahlia finding her way into Cara's life once again despite his efforts. At least this time was in a more positive way. He nodded absently to Richard when Richard told him to wait for a moment. When he returned he was leading the young princess Kari out of her classroom. He studied her briefly while she talked with Richard as they walked around the building to the grassy fields that lay behind it. He could already tell from her height that she would be tall like her mothers and that thought startled him.
This child, with his help, was made of Cara and Kahlan and only them. He could clearly see traits from both women in her. Kahlan's long wavy hair, that she left down and her bright blue eyes but she had Cara's lips and high cheek bones. But it was more than that. The girl's own mannerisms mirrored those of the women who sired her. Like the way her smile brightened her entire face like Cara or the way she walked with a gentle grace like Kahlan. And she carried herself with a subtle but unmistakable air of regality. One afforded her from being a Confessor and a Rahl. She was the most perfect being he had ever seen magic help create and her sister was no different.
"Zedd? Is everything alright?" Richard asked when he noticed that Zedd had stopped walking with them and was just staring at Kari.
"Hm? Oh yes, everything is just fine." He said, breaking out of his trance to address Richard. He cleared his throat and was about to officially greet the princess but completely froze when his eyes met hers. Her eyes peered deeply into his, keeping him locked in place and focused on her until all he could see was bright blue. He knew he should look away but no matter how hard he tried to move, no matter how loud his mind screamed for him to turn away now, his entire body was frozen. His heart was pounding loudly in his ears and only got louder as Kari began to frown in confusion. The pounding was so loud that he thought he might go deaf from it.
Richard called her name but it sounded far away even though he was standing right next to them. It distracted her long enough to flick her eyes to him but before Zedd even had a chance to even breathe, her eyes were pinning him again. This time her brows began to furrow, as if she were working out a complicated puzzle, quickly. Zedd was certain the child was on the verge of figuring him out when she looked away completely. He almost stumbled with how sudden he was released and wondered frantically what made her look away.
But before he could decide whether he could disappear faster than she could confess him, Kari was running across the field. That's when he noticed Declan and Dahlia a few yards away. Dahlia was waving excitedly. Zedd couldn't help the sigh of relief that escaped him as he realized that her sister's call must've been what completely grabbed Kari's attention.
Richard began waving back and as he did, he asked,
"What was that all about?"
Zedd's chuckle was unsteady as he wiped the sweat from his brow.
"That child has the Gift." He said after a moment to regain his composure. "And it's very powerful."
"Who? Kari?" Richard asked, looking from Zedd to the child in question. Zedd only nodded. Richard laughed lightly. "No, she's just very perceptive. She probably just noticed that you were acting a little different than usual." He said with a confident smile.
Zedd wasn't so sure though. There was something more to what just happened than simply noticing something different. It was as if she were drawing all his truths from him without ever even having to touch him. As a matter of fact, Zedd was certain that's what she had been doing. Zedd studied the girl more closely as she ran into her sister's arms.
If she did have the Gift and it was nurtured properly, the child could become a very powerful sorceress. Maybe even more powerful than Shota. With the Gift, the powers of a Confessor, and the blood of the House of Rahl running through her veins, she would most certainly be the most powerful being in all the world. And the most dangerous. But she was still just a child now and she hadn't discovered Zedd's secret. He still had time to fix things.
Zedd blinked as he noticed the two girls' clothing. Dahlia wore a black confessor's dress, like all confessors that weren't the Mother Confessor wore. But her sister wore a dark red dress, not as elaborate as the one she wore for devotions, but like that dress, this one split into fourths at her waist to reveal black trousers.
"Why are they dressed differently? I thought all confessors wore the traditional black confessor dress." He asked. He could understand the difference a few days ago for the princess's first devotions but not on what seemed like an average day.
"Yes, but princess Kari isn't a confessor." Richard answered, serving only to confuse Zedd even more. At Zedd's expression, Richard quickly amended his statement with an apologetic smile. "I mean she is a confessor but that's not her chosen path." When Zedd's confused expression barely changed, he elaborated.
"When princess Dahlia was born, no one was certain what that meant. She was the first confessor to be born since Darken Rahl's rein that nearly caused the extinction of the confessor race. But on the other hand, she was also the first legitimate heir of the new Rahl bloodline. Even though she was always told that she was a confessor first as she grew older, she was still free to choose what she wanted to do.
"Then princess Kari was born and the pressure for Dahlia to make a choice lessened and she was free to take her time and figure out what would make her happy. When Kari turned two, Dahlia announced that she wanted to be a confessor. She loved taking care of her sister and making her happy. She said that she wanted to do the same for the Midlands. Then by the time Kari turned three, she was inseparable from Cara and asked to start dressing the same as her, making her own decision rather obvious." Richard finished.
Zedd nodded in understanding but before he could utter a single word, he caught swift movement out of the corner of his right eye. He turned just in time to see a large creature with yellow fur, stealthily running through the grass towards him and Richard. One glimpse of it's ears and he knew what it was.
"A Heart Hound!" He gasped, even though he'd never seen one that color before. Richard looked up at Zedd's gasp and just as Zedd was raising his arms to conjure wizard's fire, Richard grabbed his arm.
"Zedd no!" He shouted before the heart hound was upon them. It pounced, it's large front paws landing solidly on Richard's chest, throwing him to the ground and effectively knocking the wind out of him with the power of the impact combined with it's shear size. Richard grunted as the beast landed on top of him, but instead of tearing into his chest and ripping out his heart like Zedd expected as he watched in horror, the creature simply licked the side of Richard's face in one long stroke.
Richard laughed despite the trouble he was having breathing, and Zedd's brows furrowed in confusion.
"All right, you win, you win." He wheezed, trying to dislodge the big animal from standing on top of his chest. "Kara, get off."
"Kara?" Zedd said to himself, even more confused as to what was happening. The heart hound's ear twitched in his direction at hearing him say it's name and eased off of Richard to sit obediently before them, it's bright green eyes moving from Richard to Zedd in a bored manner. It was very reminiscent of someone he knew but he was in too much shock to figure out who. He moved to crouch in front of the seemingly tame creature.
It sat tall and proud, watching with weary disinterest as Zedd hesitantly reached out to touch it. He marveled as his hand sifted through soft fur, his fingers snagging on a heavy chain hanging around it's neck. He followed the links until he was lifting a pendant out of the fur. It was the same special pendant he, Richard, and the few others that protected the Rahl family wore.
"Bags." He whispered in awe.
"Sorry about that Zedd, I didn't realize that you'd even forgotten about Kara." Richard said with a light chuckle as he sat up.
"Richard, this creature has been touched by some very Powerful Magic." Zedd said matter-of-factly as he continued to study said creature.
Kara rolled her eyes in an annoyed manner, as if she'd heard that very statement a hundred times. Richard laughed and Zedd blinked in surprise as he instantly realized just who the hound reminded him of. Before he could comment on how very alike 'Kara' and her namesake were, Declan and the princesses walked up beside them, smiles on their faces.
"That's the second time she's gotten you this week." Declan said as he offered his hand to Richard. "You're loosing your edge old man." He teased, causing Dahlia to giggle.
"I'll show you an 'old man'" Richard countered as he tried to get Declan into a headlock but Kari's soft voice stopped their little tussle.
"He tried to attack Kara." She said, looking at Zedd.
Zedd's own smile at their antics faltered as all eyes turned to him. Declan's smile became uncertain.
"Yeah, he did." He said. "What was that all about?"
Before Richard could speak, Zedd said, "She just took me by surprise is all." His smile was firmly back in place as he made sure not to look at either girl. He gave Richard a meaningful glance, willing him to play along. The other Zedd may have helped raise this boy but he had no illusions as to where his loyalties lie. One false step around him and Zedd was as good as confessed.
Declan's smile faded at Zedd's explanation and the look he gave Richard.
"I see. Well it's time for Dahlia and Kari's weapon's lessons so we should go." He said, looking at Richard.
"Uhh, why don't you go on ahead and I'll catch up." Richard said after noticing Zedd's expression.
"Sure." Declan said and when Kari tugged on his hand twice, he automatically dropped to one knee. She climbed onto his back and he made sure she was comfortable before rising again. They turned to leave and Dahlia said,
"Come on Kara."
Once the hound was walking peacefully at her side, Declan said, "Alright, it's time for the question of the day."
Both girls smiled.
"Is there any way for a person to be released from confession without taking the life of the confessor responsible?" He asked.
"Yes." Dahlia said.
"And no." Kari supplied.
"Oh?" Declan asked, intrigued by their duel answers. "Explain."
"It's a trick question." Dahlia said. "With the aide of a quillion, one could extract all of a confessor's powers which would release all those confessed by her. But once you've taken away her powers, she will no longer be a confessor, so in a way, you would have killed the confessor." She finished and Kari nodded in agreement.
Declan smiled and nodded once, accepting their answer.
"That one was too easy, give us a real question." Dahlia said and Kari giggled.
"Alright alright, next question…" He said before his voice faded in the distance.
"So why didn't you want to tell Declan about your memory loss?" Richard asked after a moment.
Zedd turned to him.
"Since I've more or less gotten my memories back, I didn't think it was necessary to needlessly worry them." He said. He absolutely hated lying to Richard, but with him being confessed, Zedd had no choice.
Richard nodded that he understood before he began speaking again.
"Well I should get going. I'll see you little later on, ok" He said as he began walking in the direction the others had disappeared in.
"Richard?" Zedd called before he got too far.
"How does the solstice work?"
"I'll give you one guess." He said and Zedd shared his smile before they said together,
"Yep. You said it had something to do with the full moon."
"The full moon? There's a full moon every month, what makes this one so special?"
"This one's different, bigger."
"Bigger?" Zedd muttered to himself in confusion.
"Listen Zedd, I have to go but I'll see you later. Bye." Richard said, jogging away before Zedd could respond. When he finally caught up with the others, they were almost to the training yard.
"Sorry about that." He said by way of greeting as he fell into step on Declan's left.
"What took you?" The younger of the two asked, Kari still riding comfortably on his back.
"I needed to talk to Zedd about a few things." Richard answered easily.
"That's not uncle Zedd." Kari replied softly, resting her chin on Declan's right shoulder. Everyone looked at her, Declan doing the best he could with her leaning against him.
"Of course it is Kari, he's just not feeling well, that's all." Richard responded, giving her a gentle reassuring smile but Kari just stayed quiet, causing Declan to frown while Dahlia continued to stare at her silent sister.
Zedd made his way to the stables and quickly saddled a horse. He couldn't stay in Aydindril any longer and risk being found out. He knew now what he had to do. He had to find Dahlia and reverse what he'd done. He only hoped that when he got back to the reality before this one, he would have the chance to perform the spell again, on Cara instead of Dahlia, like he'd originally planned.
Or perhaps he would get back in time to prevent the sisters of the dark from getting the Boxes of Orden and maybe even Jennsen. That way, all would be well and everyone could have the lives they deserved to have. Richard and Kahlan could truly be together and Cara would never have been broken and could even find love with Leo again. Either way, he couldn't stay in this world.
Just as he was about to climb into his saddle, someone stepped out of the shadows near the stable doors. Her eyes glowed white briefly with the power of her Han before Nicci asked,
"Where are you going?" Her gaze was level and her tone calm. Zedd couldn't detect any suspicion or threat from her, just genuine curiosity.
"I had a nightmare about my brother last night and thought that it was as good a sign as any to go see him." He said easily.
Nicci arched an elegant eyebrow, studying him for a moment before stating simply,
"No?" Zedd asked, shocked by her casual yet firm response.
"There's no time. Send your brother a letter to make sure all is well but other than that, you'll have to wait until after the solstice to go and visit." She said, turning to leave.
"I wouldn't be gone long, perhaps a day or two. Surely you could start without me?" He asked. She stopped and turned her head to glance at him over her shoulder.
"The solstice is in two weeks. If we do not begin preparing immediately, we may miss our chance." She stated calmly.
Zedd noticed that she was studying him intently and alarm bells started going off in his mind. She was testing him, telling him things he should already know. He bristled. Whether in this world or his own, he was certain the other Zedd didn't like his intelligence insulted any more than he did.
"I am highly aware of that Nicci, I was simply inquiring if you could handle things on you own for a couple of days. We've done this twice before already and I'd thought perhaps you might be able to manage a few things by yourself but obviously I was mistaken." He said smoothly, looking down his nose at her. One thing he didn't have to fake was his distaste for her.
Nicci's jaw clenched briefly and her eyes narrowed but she was no longer studying him to see what he might say or do.
"There are things you know that I do not. It's best if you're here until after the solstice has passed."
"Well then, there's no time to waste." He said, handing the reins of his horse to the stable boy. He walked to the doors and held out his arm, inviting her to precede him.
"Let's begin, shall we?"
Cara breathed deeply, taking in the fresh air around her before releasing it slowly. The sun would be setting soon so they were getting ready to leave the lake when she paused in getting dressed, simply to admire the beauty around her. The area reminded her a lot of the Grottos of the Northern Foothills, the only place where the night wisps were born. Unbidden, a smile came to her face as her memories of the phenomenon surfaced.
The previous year, she and Kahlan had taken Dahlia and Kari to the grottos to see the night wisps being born. A new generation of confessors to meet a new generation of wisps. It had been the most magical and the most beautiful experience of her life. She would never forget the looks on her family's faces as the night sky filled with hundreds of tiny blue lights, the very air alive with life.
And she would never forget how ecstatic they had been when they realized that she could understand the tiny creatures. The girls couldn't contain their squeals of joy and Kahlan had given her this kiss that literally took her breath away before giving her a bright loving smile. Cara closed her eyes as she remembered that smile. It had held nothing back and melted Cara's heart right where she stood. She would do anything for that smile.
As if Cara's thoughts had summoned her, Kahlan's arms wrapped around her waist and she pressed herself tightly against Cara's back.
"What are you smiling about?" She asked with a soft smile. She pressed a light kiss to Cara's ear.
"I was just remembering when we took Dahlia and Kari to see the birth of the night wisps." Cara replied, still smiling with her eyes closed.
Kahlan's hands paused from their task of tucking Cara's tunic into her trousers and she pulled Cara into a tight hug.
"That was one of the best memories of my life." She whispered, leaning her head against Cara's.
"Mine too." Cara said, her voice barely a whisper. "And I think it's the same for the girls. I want to take her, our next daughter, to see it. I…I want to take all of our daughters to see it. The ones we have now, and the ones we will have."
Kahlan pressed another kiss to her temple and Cara leaned into the touch.
"We will." She whispered. "I promise."
Zedd dragged himself into his bed in the Keep, having finally escaped Nicci late that night. He didn't know how but he'd managed to stumble through the night without Nicci catching on to the fact that he had no idea what he was doing. Most of that had to do with the detailed tomes they kept on the solstice but since he only got glimpses of it, whenever he did trip up, he blamed it on being distracted with worry for his brother's health. He knew that excuse wouldn't last much longer since Nicci expected him to send a letter inquiring about his brother the next day. His only chance of getting through this was to get his hands on those tomes and study every single detail they had to offer without Nicci getting suspicious.
That, he was certain he could accomplish since Nicci didn't live in the Keep but there was an even bigger problem he now found himself in. He'd managed to glean from Nicci that once the solstice had passed, he wouldn't be able to leave immediately as he'd first thought. He would still have to stay in Aydindril at least another week to make sure that Kahlan had properly conceived and that she and the baby were healthy and doing fine. That meant a whole week of being up close and personal with Kahlan, at least. He'd gotten lucky that day with Cara distracting Kahlan. He knew he would not get so lucky again. He wouldn't last a day.
That meant there was only one thing he could do. He had no idea how it would affect the universe but he had no choice. He would have to perform the spell of undoing on Cara again and pray to the Creator that it didn't rip the fabric of time and space apart.
Cara was already out of their bed and halfway across the room before Kahlan realized that what had woken her out of her sleep was the sound of their daughters screaming. By the time she ran out of their room and down the hall to their daughters' room, Cara was shoving one of the guards against the wall. Kahlan hadn't even noticed Cara had grabbed one of her agiels until it was mere inches from the man's face. By then the screaming had stopped and been replaced by crying.
"What happened?" Cara growled dangerously, her jaw tight.
"We- we d..don't know Lord Rahl. They just started screaming all of a sudden." The man stammered in a frightened voice. Cara's eyes narrowed to slits before she barely grazed her agiel across his neck. The blood vessels in his neck instantly bulged and strained before bursting just under his skin and he released a high pitched pained squeal, trying his hardest not to scream. His mouth filled with blood as he bit through his own tongue.
"So my children start screaming 'all of a sudden', and you're out here why?" She asked calmly, preparing to use her agiel again when the man she was holding didn't answer, his eyes instead rolling into the back of his head as his body began to convulse, blood frothing in his mouth.
"The hound my lord." The other guard spoke up, not wanting to watch his comrade's torture any longer. He wasn't sure he'd made the right decision when Cara's deadly gaze swiftly turned on him. He dropped his eyes to the floor before speaking again. "The hound wouldn't let us past, Lord Rahl."
Before Cara could begin to make both guards regret ever choosing to face her instead of the heart hound inside of the room, Kahlan put her hand on Cara's shoulder, reminding her that they had more important things to tend to. Cara let the first guard drop to the floor and entered the room without a second glance backwards. Before Kahlan followed her, she turned to the man left standing, her eyes cold as ice.
"Do not be here when we return. Either of you." She said, her tone leaving no doubt as to what would happen to both men if either one disobeyed. She walked through the door and into the dark sitting room, quickly making her way to the bedroom on the other side. She pushed into the room, leaving both Caras on the steps. She made it to the center of the room before both girls were running into her arms, crying and sobbing loudly.
Cara stood rigid at the top of the stairs, anger and most of all fear, preventing her from going any further into the room. Her entire body was tight with tension, the arm holding her agiel trembling slightly. Kara stood beside her, her muscles coiled so tightly they were hard as rock, her fur flaring up in every direction, making her look twice as big as she was. Her teeth were bared and a low constant menacing growl was emitting from deep within her throat.
Kahlan soothed their daughters, rubbing their backs and whispering that everything was alright until they started to calm down, causing Kara to growl louder.
"Kara!" Cara snapped and the heart hound's resulting whimper melted into a soft whine. Kahlan looked over her shoulder at her family's two bravest and fiercest protectors. She knew that Cara didn't mean to snap any more that the hound was hurt by it. They were both just worried about Dahlia and Kari and didn't know what to do about it. She turned back to the girls, coaxing them to look at her.
"What's happened?" She asked softly, caressing both girls' cheeks. Dahlia was the first to speak.
"We had a bad dream." She whispered, sniffling as she did.
"Both of you? The same one?" Kahlan asked curiously.
"Uh huh." Kari hiccupped, rubbing her eyes with her tiny fists.
"What was it, can you remember?" Kahlan asked gently, her hands moving to smooth their hair.
"A scary man was hurting Papa and he wouldn't stop." Kari said, her voice quivering dangerously, threatening to dissolve her into more tears. Dahlia whimpered and then Cara was instantly kneeling beside them, wrapping her arms around all three confessors.
"Shh, it's ok, I'm right here, there's nothing to worry about." She whispered urgently, squeezing her eyes tight against her own fears. When Dahlia and Kari had settled down again, she pulled back to look at them. "See? Everything's fine."
"But the scary man." Kari whimpered, her eyes still watery with fresh tears just waiting to spill over.
"Look at me, both of you." Cara said gently but firmly, waiting for both girls to meet her eyes. "As long as all of you are safe," She started, quickly flicking her eyes to Kahlan so that she knew Cara was talking about her as well. "As long as all of you are safe, nothing could ever hurt me. Okay?"
Both girls just sniffled for a moment before Kari asked, "Even Kara?"
Cara could help her soft laugh of relief or the sting of her own tears just behind her eyes. The heart hound crawled to them on her stomach and crowded in on Cara's right. She reached her hand down to ruffle blonde fur and nodded.
"Yes, even Kara. As long as I have all of you safe and sound, everything will be fine."
"Papa?" Dahlia called softly and Cara blinked at her in surprise. Ever since Dahlia had announced that she wanted to follow in the footsteps of the confessors before her, she'd stopped calling Kahlan and Cara 'Mama and Papa' in exchange for 'Mother and Father'. And while Cara was proud of and respected her daughter's decision, she still missed when Dahlia was just her little girl instead of the next confessor of the Midlands.
"Yes Dahlia?" She answered.
"Can Kari and I sleep with you and Mama tonight?" She asked hesitantly.
Cara moved swiftly to press a loving kiss to Dahlia's forehead.
"Of course you can." She whispered. "Always."
She let them go briefly to pick up her agiel that she'd put safely to the side. She held the chain before Kara and the heart hound took the chain tenderly between it's large, sharp teeth. Then she wordlessly lifted Kari her arms and offered her free hand to Dahlia. Dahlia stood and quickly took her hand while Kari wrapped her arms around her papa's neck and buried her face in her neck. Kahlan also rose to her feet, her and Cara's eyes meeting briefly before they all left the room.
In the hallway, there were two new guards flanking the door. They silently thumped their right fists to their hearts in salute to their Lord Rahl but Cara only ignored them as she led her family to her and Kahlan's own rooms. When they were at the foot of the bed, Cara let go of Dahlia's hand so that she could go with Kahlan to climb in on one side while she carried Kari to the opposite side. Kara placed the agiel on one of the overstuffed chairs in the room before climbing back up the stairs and lying down to the right of the closed bedroom door, just like she did in the girls' room.
Once everyone was comfortable, it didn't take long for Kari and Dahlia to drift off to sleep, holding each other's hand as their parent's curled around them protectively. Cara's eyes met Kahlan's worried ones and she smiled reassuringly. She waited for Kahlan to drift off as well before letting her smile fade away. She hadn't told Kahlan why she was already awake when Dahlia and Kari started screaming. She hadn't told her that she'd also had a nightmare. She hadn't told her that it was almost the same one their daughters had had.
At first it had started that way, a hooded man torturing her. But Cara was Mord'Sith, down to her very core and there was no one, dead or alive, who could truly hurt her. But then the man had found her weakness. He had found her only fear and exploited it. He'd taken her family away from her.
And then, and only then did Cara break.