Title: Break Me

Authors: evilgmbethy and pristineungift

Rating: NC-17 for graphic violence

Warnings: Torture, Violence, Death

Spoilers: Whole series, especially "Eternity"

Summary: Darken re-breaks Cara. An extension/re-imagining of the scene in "Eternity." The quote in italics at the end is from King Lear. Part one of two.

Standard disclaimer applies. For specific disclaimer, see my profile page.

Bethy and I have both been nominated for the LOTSEEKERFIC AWARDS for our fanfiction. See my profile page for a link to the voting and vote for us!


Love Me

Her arms aching, Cara dangled on chains, watching as Darken Rahl circled her like a cat toying with prey.

She laughed at him, a sneer stretching cracked lips.

She had to laugh at him.

It was all she had left to offer, this sneering laughter. The agiel was beyond painful, her resistance worn down after many long hours - more than she could comprehend. She tried to keep laughing, to keep mocking him so he would kill her. And allow her to stay dead.

That was her hope now.

Darken paused in his ministrations, considering. Gently, obscenely so after the torture he'd just inflicted, he moved a strand of hair out of Cara's face.

"So proud, Cara. I have missed this."

His voice was a sword wrapped in velvet.

He stroked Cara's hair, watching her eyes as his fingers grazed her scalp. But a frown marred his brow. He had been with her for hours, and she was no closer to breaking.

Trailing the agiel along her flesh, Darken was pleased and angered both by her response, "I believe it is time to take advantage of visiting friends."

From the shadows, farther than Cara could see with her bruised, bloodied eyes, women in red robes emerged. Blurs of bright blood.

Sisters of the Dark.

Darken turned back to Cara.

"You're with them, aren't you? Skittering away inside your head," he stepped closer, rage flickering in his eyes. "You're with him."

Cara laughed. Laughter was her last weapon.

Bitter shards of glass.

"I am with him. I will always be with him. Until my dying breath, Rahl. And beyond. Richard is what a man ought to be," she spat in defiance.

She hoped her defiance would send Rahl into a rage - provoke him into ending... this.

Darken's eyes narrowed, his lips twitching as he stepped back, "I know what you're trying to do, Cara." He left her sightline, his voice taunting, "You're slipping."

Approaching the gathered Sisters of the Dark, his eyes skimming down their forms, caressing them with his voice, "Sisters, what a pleasure it is."

There was violence in his tone, and Cara felt her flesh crawl.

The things that voice had done to her.

Cara kept the defiant sneer on her face until Darken moved with the Sisters of the Dark beyond her poor range of vision, then let her head hang and tried to catch her breath.

She was Mord'Sith, and carried not one, but two agiels. Though Rahl had tortured her for hours beyond count, she would not break. She held fast, hoping for death. Even as she hid from the pain Rahl inflicted in visions of her newly found family, longing to see them again, she did not want Richard, Kahlan, or the wizard risking themselves to save her.

They had a greater mission, and a greater purpose than her.

The Stone of Tears.

She could hear Rahl speaking, his words echoing through the chamber.

"Cara has proven resistant, I'm afraid," there was a pitiful note in his voice, but Cara knew him well enough to know he was smirking as he spoke. "Perhaps you could lend your not inconsiderable talents to the cause?"

He was speaking to the Sisters of the Dark. Cara could hear them murmuring back to him.

She could see green shadows cast on the wall before her.

Putting the mysterious sounds and shadows from her mind, Cara used the lull to focus. To save what was left of herself, partitioning her mind, securing the sacred parts of her spirit away, out of reach.

So she hoped.

Darken looked back through the archway as the Sisters did their work to see Cara's head lolling to the side, her eyes closed. He turned, moving suddenly and swiftly on silent feet. Like a striking snake, he cracked Cara viciously across the face with the same hand he had stroked her hair with mere moments before.

"Pay attention, Cara!" his voice was rough, filled with things unsaid. But then he took a deep breath, exhaling from his nose in a long sigh of air. When he spoke again it was deadly quiet, "You know how upsetting it is when you become disinterested."

Cara grinned wickedly, wildly.

Mockingly.

"Is that all you got, Rahl? Don't you remember? A smack like that is like foreplay to me. But then you never could handle yourself in bed," she jeered, raising her brows and stretching her lips into a wide smirk, though her jaw ached and her lips were cracked.

There was a glaring flash of green, silhouetting Rahl in the flames of the underworld as he grasped Cara's hair in a fit of rage, strands pulled loose between his knuckles. He gripped her jaw with his other hand, nails digging into her face, her exposed neck. Blue eyes cold, he stared, aching to twist her neck and hear that fateful snap.

But the moment passed with the flare of green light signaling the means to break Cara was now within Darken's reach. He let Cara go, flinging her away so she swayed on her chains, holding a hand out to the gathered Sisters of the Dark.

An agiel, black as pitch, was placed in his open palm. Crackles of green lightning skimmed along the surface, an ugly shimmery sheen like oil floating on water.

"Impressive," Darken said, closing his fingers around the weapon, the power of it raising the hairs on the back of his neck. His composure unraveling, his mood as changing as the tide, he returned to Cara in quick, forceful strides, driving the agiel into her side, watching as the green fire of the underworld lit up her veins. He said nothing, eyes bright as he watched her.

Her pain was exquisite.

It hurt so much, Cara couldn't even scream.

Her eyes went wide and her face turned red, veins bulging in her neck. In order to scream, she'd have to draw a breath, and the agiel - if it could even be called an agiel, for it felt like an instrument so wholly monstrous that agiel no longer seemed an apt name - made her breath stop with the pain. Its agony was unlike anything else she'd experienced.

Worse than the way the agiel used to feel when she was a mere girl in her first days of Mord'Sith training.

But it was more than pain. It was terror, absolute and complete. If not the hallucination of her worse nightmares, then it is the way one would imagine the realization of such nightmares to feel. It was physical pain. Emotional pain. Pain that twisted, tore at her very soul.

Darken watched Cara's face with hungry eyes, enjoying the defeat, the breaking of her spirit.

Her return to him.

He pulled the agiel away, his anger turned to a quiet fascination, a burgeoning triumph.

"We begin to make progress at last, Cara," he ran a finger over the still raw circle of flesh where he had just placed the agiel. "Tell me, who were you with that time?"

Cara didn't answer, mostly because she was too busy desperately trying to breathe the moment the agiel was pulled away, swallowing gasps of air like a woman drowning, a woman who knows that oxygen will not be so easy to come by in mere moments. But she also did not answer because the truth was, that time she was with no one, no safe harbors to keep her mind from the pain.

Only the agony kept her company.

And Rahl. The pain, and Darken Rahl. That was all that existed when that dark agiel touched her flesh.

Darken studied Cara's face. Gently, he stroked her cheek, pushing bloody, sweat soaked hair out of her eyes. "I have been thinking Cara. Of how I miss you."

He walked to the lever that controlled the height of Cara's chains, lowering her so he could whisper in her ear, brushing a kiss on her cheek as he did, "We belong together. Cara. Return to me."

Before she could answer, he brought the agiel up to her jaw, stroking her hair as the green witchlights of the underworld's fire burned through her face.

Cara felt like her head was going to explode, like some unnatural creature was tearing her apart from the inside, a profound sense of wrong shaking her entire being. She wanted to deny Rahl's words, to push him and his evil whispers away in revulsion, but there was something about the agiel. It wouldn't let her push anything away, it twisted and mangled her greatest fears, amplifying them, exploiting every vulnerability.

The waves of pain brought with them visions of horror inflicted upon the those she loved the most, and tears leaked from her eyes against her will.

She hated this. Hated the frailty that had suddenly seized her with the touch of that wicked agiel. Hated that she could feel herself begin to crack, a long forgotten memory of childhood - the first time she was broken. She was suddenly that little girl again, lost and scared, without anyone to protect her.

At long last, the screams came, her lungs pulling in air for the express purpose of exhaling it in a wail.

Cara's screams set Darken's teeth on edge, even as they filled his heart with triumph. Seeing her weakness disgusted him, though it was a necessary step to regaining his most precious of the Sisterhood. He contrasted gentility with torture, soft words of their son, of being a family, with the hard press of the agiel. His disgust grew with his triumph until he flung her away once more, watching her sway on her chains. He paused, breathing heavily through his nose.

He refused to pant.

How long he stood, Cara's screams a fading echo, Darken was not sure. When her head began to droop forward, her bruised eyes flutter shut, Darken stepped close, pressing their cheeks together, murmuring in her ear, "Such screams, Cara, my love. How are you feeling?"

Cara snapped to consciousness with a gasp, blinking. It was difficult to focus. The gentleness of Rahl's voice made her almost want to weep. She hardly knew who he was, those sort of thoughts impossible to form. After all the pain, he was merely a person with a gentle voice. With considerable effort, she gasped out one word.

"T- tired."

Darken threaded his fingers into her hair, his cheek still against hers. His voice was soft, concerned when he replied, "Would you like to rest, Cara?"

Cara nodded faintly at his question. Rest. Yes. She would love rest. He would give her rest.

She was grateful.

Darken lowered her to her feet, tenderly catching her, steadying her against his chest. He pressed a kiss to her hair. "Soon you'll have your strength back, and all will be as it should, won't it, Cara?"

Her eyes were closed, but she smiled faintly at his words. She tried to speak, "You thin..."

She was too tired to continue.

Seeing that she was too weak to move under her own power, Darken slipped an arm beneath her knees, hefting her weight. Padding to the entry way, he whispered into Cara's hair, "Do you love me? Tell me you love me."

Cara stirred, her face pressed into his neck, "You... you know I love you, Richard."

She said it simply, truthfully - the love of a vassal for her lord.

Love given freely.

Praise froze on Darken's lips, glass in his veins.

"What," he bit out the words, danger lurking in every syllable,"did you say?"

He didn't give her the opportunity to answer, the icy shards of glass in his veins turning suddenly to an uncontrollable fire. He let Cara drop from his arms, watching as she rolled to splay against the wall, her head cracking against the stone. Not bothering with the agiel, he roughly drew the knife he always carried. In a blink in which Darken couldn't remember moving, he was kneeling on the floor, the blade pressed to Cara's cheek, just below her eye.

"Tell me you love me," there was rage in his voice, coupled with a hard edge of desperation, a shade of humanity entirely out of place in the voice of a lord making him angrier.

Sullied.

His reaction jarred Cara out of her haze, and she realized who he was.

"I don't love you," she stared at him with hard, bleary, bloodshot eyes. "I will never love you. Richard is my lord."

Her eyes watered, her focus wavering.

He wasn't Richard. Was he Richard?

Who was he? Who was she?

Cara frowned, confused, "I do love you."

His knuckles white, Darken pulled the blade away from Cara's skin. Breathing deeply through his nose, he struggled to master himself, despising anything but complete control.

"Who do you love? Say the name."

Confusedly, Cara replied, "Richard?"

With an incoherent cry of rage, Darken drove his blade down, a line of red splattering across his face. The knife moved again, of its own volition, another hot splash of blood striking him in the chest. The sensation did nothing to calm him, nothing to stop the sucking void pulling him under, the hungry gorge that was his heart. He struck again and this time it's him moving, it's a decision he makes.

How dare she.

How dare he.

How dare anyone take what was his. What he deserved, but certainly did not need.

It was an insult, a disgrace, a betrayal he would not soon forgive.

Suddenly drained of all energy, Darken stood, swaying on his feet, bloody knife still in hand. As he spit the salty copper of Cara's lifeblood from his lips, he padded from the room, one thought ringing in his mind.

My greatest enemies are my kith and kin. A king has no fathers, no brothers...

He turned back to look at Cara's lifeless body.

No sons.

He grunted at Dahlia as he passed through the door, jerking two fingers at Cara to indicate she should be revived.

He told himself blood was the only thing that wet his face.