Cara woke before dawn, just as she did every day. She did her morning exercises before putting on her constraining leathers. She called for a subordinate to braid her hair.
It was a morning like any other.
When she left her suite, she found a pile of offerings by the door. Knives, a new pair of riding gloves, a jar of the ointment she rubbed into her horse's skin to keep the biting flies away.
Mord'Sith did not celebrate birthdays.
And yet on the same day every year, Cara found offerings at her door.
They never spoke of it, never acknowledged it, and yet it continued, like clockwork.
And on that same night, every year, Cara would call together her Sisters to receive their reward.
Quietly they would line the hall of the royal wing. Quietly they would be rid of the guards.
And then Cara would enter the chambers of their Lord, Darken Rahl.
"Is it that time of year already?" he would ask, a smirk on his lips.
"I think you enjoy this too much," she would reply.
He would not answer, simply standing to remove his robes.
Then she would scream, loud enough for her Sisters to hear:
"Run milord, there's no time! We suspect assassins!"
And Darken Rahl would run naked through the hall.
If Cara had received any gifts she particularly enjoyed, she would point those Sisters out to her Lord.
This year it was Bekah, Melena, Seren and the squadron they commanded that had gained Cara's favor. Lord Rahl ran toward them, touching a face here, pressing himself against leathers there. All under the guise of giving orders, and all fantastically nude.
Lord Rahl had once commented that he wished they were brave enough to spank him with their Agiels as he ran by.
Cara's reply was the same every year:
"Bend over, and I will fetch them."