Three times Cara saved Richard Rahl

Without Cara's loyal service, Richard Rahl would be dead, many times over.

Cara was proud to serve the Lord Rahl, and right now the holder of that title was Richard. Richard who had trusted her from day one, who was as protective of her as she was of him, who perceived parts of her soul she thought she'd lost.

It was because Richard trusted her that Kahlan and Zedd had begun to too. It had taken time, of course, but they were now a family of sorts, each with their strengths and their weaknesses. More importantly, each member of the group was someone the others could rely on to protect and defend them. The loss of Sisterhood – she was still a Mord'Sith but was no longer part of the dreadful yet beloved Sisterhood - had initially pained Cara more than she'd ever admit, but her friendship with these people soothed the ache enough that she no longer paid it any mind.

Still, sometimes she felt a pang for the old days, when she had been surrounded by her loyal fellow Mord'Sith, unwavering in her service to Darken Rahl. He lacked Richard's compassion, true enough, but in other respects he was to be admired. Darken Rahl, for example, had never, ever, done something so stupid as to risk his life trying to rescue a sheep, let alone get caught in a cave-in as a consequence.

The terrified sheep had run out of the cave as soon as Richard had freed it from the gap in the rocks it had gotten itself stuck in. The cave had then chosen that moment to tumble in on itself, leaving Kahlan and Cara to desperately dig Richard out with their bare hands. Zedd, when they could have used his powerful magic, was off scouting ahead – typical of the wizard, Cara thought uncharitably.

When they had finally dragged Richard from the rubble, he'd run out of air, and it was only Cara's breath of life that pulled him back to the land of living. He'd died over a sheep, Cara pointed out, but no-one paid her any attention because Kahlan was by this point glued to Richard, covering him in kisses despite the dust all over his face and bloodied cheek. The only blessing was that they didn't see the eye-roll she gave at the entire affair.

And then just last week Richard had taken an arrow meant for Kahlan. This had sent Kahlan into the rage that was Con Dar and Zedd had barely managed to snatch Cara away before they could be caught up in the magic that was the shadow side of a Confessor's powers. Cara had tried to point out that she was immune to magic, but she knew that in resisting it, she'd have risked turning the rage back against Kahlan and who knew what damage that might have caused.

Zedd had transported them just a short distance away and they made their way back on foot, Cara tripping twice on branches and rocks that marred the path. If Zedd had noticed he didn't comment, too worried about Kahlan and Richard. She was concerned too, or she wouldn't have been stumbling at all. Mord'Sith were many things but clumsy was not one of them. It was the damn feelings Richard and the others kept encouraging her to embrace that let her be worried and distracted and therefore not pay better attention to where she was treading.

When they returned, they'd found Kahlan on her knees, cradling Richard's limp form, his head in her lap. Dead bodies surrounded her, the aftermath of the Con Dar, but Richard's corpse was the only one Cara cared about. She didn't need Kahlan's tearful exclamation of her name to spur her forward. Once again she gave her Lord Rahl the breath of life and once again he was revived.

This time Kahlan at least managed a smile and a "thank you" and Zedd had clapped Cara on the shoulder in recognition. Then Kahlan berated Richard for putting his life in danger and Cara was again pushed to the sidelines as the argument went on for several minutes, ending in declarations of love and the inevitable kissing. Cara rolled her eyes. Zedd noticed but he merely smiled indulgently at her.

Today, Cara was having none of this letting Lord Rahl be killed nonsense. It was a disgraceful thing to have ever allowed him to die; each time it happened Cara felt it like a physical blow, a punishment she deserved for this shortcoming. So when the dacra headed straight for him, she was proud to get there in plenty of time and deflect the weapon. Then she returned to combat, taking a vicious pleasure in killing one of the Sisters of the Dark with her agiel.

At last the battle was over. The four companions were the only ones left standing. They paused, catching their breath.

"What would I do without you, Cara?" Richard asked with a smile, nodding to the dacra which had fallen harmlessly to the ground nearby.

"Get yourself killed and stay dead," Cara replied, trying for monotone but feeling it sounded a little sulky – possibly even a little smug. Richard laughed and then actually dared to put his arm around her, squeezing her shoulder. She froze for a moment, then forced herself to relax. He wasn't about to punish her, nor force her to submit to him. He was a very different Lord Rahl, and one she was proud to save – even when it was from his own foolish actions.

"And then who would find the Stone of Tears?" he asked. "I'm glad you're with us, Cara."

"As you should be." Cara hid a smile as she pulled away and headed off in the direction they'd been going in before the ambush. She wouldn't say it, of course, but she was glad to be with them too. Creator knew, they needed her – and she them.