Title: Break Me
Authors: evilgmbethy and pristineungift
Rating: PG -13
Spoilers: Whole Series
Summary: There is no Spell of Undoing. After being re-broken by Darken Rahl and retrieving the Stone of Tears for him, Cara must break their bond herself. Part two of two. The "My kith and kin" line is again, King Lear. The "born lucky" line is a nod to Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Darken sat in the bathhouse of a Mord'Sith temple, eyes closed. The ongoing trek to the Pillars of Creation had left grit under his nails and sweat in his hair.
He detested being anything less than immaculate.
The Stone of Tears rested with his robes, within his view at all times. Resting his eyes upon it, his mind drifted to the woman that had retrieved it for him.
She had yet to return to him after they parted ways, he to make his way to the Pillars of Creation, she to slow his intrepid brother.
How deliciously she had plead to serve him, to protect him.
She loved him.
Closing his eyes once more, he concentrated on the bond, flitting through the tendrils of magic that tied all those bonded to him to his blood. Some burned brighter than others, some weaker, some were stretched then, and others sagged so that he felt that if he opened his eyes, he would see them coiled at his feet.
Finally he found it, the tiny harp string he was looking for. It was taut and thin, yet strong enough to kill a man.
Bound to a tree, Cara stared across the forest clearing at her captors, offering them a defiant smirk whenever they glanced her way. It was all she could do, magically barricaded as she was.
She felt impatient, antsy. A Mord'Sith was not meant to sit idly. Her forced idleness lent her too much time to think. Too much time to remember emotions evoked by those she gazed at now, through the trees.
Emotions that made her weak.
Cara blinked, a faint frown on her lips as the song in her blood began to stir. She stared at a fixed point of nothing, comfort, tension, and worry all swirling together around the pull of the bond.
In an instant, she could feel him. He was closer.
One bonded to a Rahl could always find him. Years of understanding that bond told Cara that Lord Rahl was close.
Home. She longed for home. The red tapestries. The sound of Dragon Corp boots tapping the marble floors in perfectly timed military steps. The walls of stone adorned with Lord Rahl's trophies of conquest. It was an imposing edifice to most, but to Cara, the People's Palace was home.
Lord Rahl was home.
Whether Richard or Darken, Lord Rahl was home. Relationships changed, but home remained the same.
Cara stood straighter against the tree she was bound to as Richard - Lord Rahl - moved closer. She didn't know if she wanted him closer or not.
Darken Rahl tugged on the bond again, and more confusion settled in.
Richard before her.
Darken in her blood.
Which was Lord Rahl?
She hated confusion. It was unbecoming of a Mord'Sith. A Mord'Sith should be certain.
Already reclined on a ledge in the bathing pool, Darken sat up, his hair sticking to his neck. He could feel a wave of warmth through the bond to Cara. It was once one of his strongest ties, and he was sure soon it would be again. He inhaled deeply, stretching luxuriously, opening himself to the connection.
Home, and longing.
His Cara wished to return.
Yes, he urged her. Return home. I am home. You belong with me.
The link trembled, a harp string thrumming along his senses. He had to be careful not to snap it. More gently, quietly, he played the harp that was their connection, strumming out a luring, soothing melody.
Cara shivered faintly. Whether it was a shiver of pleasure or distaste, she could not say for sure. Instinctively she reached for agiels that weren't there, scowling when her motion was stopped by the rope binding her.
She was caged, and weaponless.
It wasn't right.
The bond fed her disgust at her imprisonment. How dare the Seeker do this?
How dare he?
Better to kill her than to capture and cage. A Mord'Sith deserved the dignity of death. She was angry at Richard now, an anger the bond responded to.
Yes. That emotion was useful. It made you powerful. Anger crushed weakness. Anger, if wielded properly, if sharpened and focused and controlled, was very useful.
Control. That was what the connection was giving her. That luring, soothing melody, that song in her blood, it focused her anger. For a moment, she stood in silence, in motionless rapture at the harmony.
Lord Rahl. I am angry, Lord Rahl.
Darken inhaled, sliding deeper into the warm water of his bath, but he barely felt it. The bond was wide open now, a surging river. He was sliding deeper into Cara as he sunk into his bath water, her rage arousing him in more than one way.
Yes, he purred across the distance that separated them.
I am angry too, Cara. So angry.
And he was angry, an anger, a hatred he always felt, but rarely admitted, a deep fiery pit ever sucking, shredding at his soul. Cara's rage fed his lusts, his hatred, his skin heating. The water around him was warm and thick, and for a moment he imagined it was the blood of his enemies, at last all vanquished.
My greatest enemies are my kith and kin, he thought, hands reflexively curling into fists. Who are you angry at Cara? Who has caged you? Who strips you of your dignity? Who denies you my love?
Who do you hate?
Cara struggled against her bonds, eyes snapping to the worried face of the Seeker.
Richard. This was Richard's fault. He was the one who'd caged her, he was the one who made her stray from Darken Rahl in the first place. It was Richard's fault she'd angered the true Lord Rahl. It was Richard's fault she was lured away from the flock. It was Richard's fault Lord Rahl had had to recapture her, and retrain her, yes retra-
Suddenly, the anger stilled.
The retraining. The agiel.
She longed for her agiels, her normal agiels. But that agiel. Part of her recoiled, deep down inside. She gasped softly at the memory, the first move she'd made in minutes. Something twisted.
Richard. He would never do what Lord Rahl did. What Darken did.
The bond caressed her and some part of her, some instinct, pushed it away.
Darken could feel Cara drawing away, the warmth receding. He hissed, a stream of air betwixt his teeth. He was too far gone, too deep in the rage, the roaring dragon always caged in his heart soaring free to blacken his skin, burn him from the inside out. There was no caution, no control - only the rage, the blood and the fire.
How dare she draw away. How dare she slight him.
How dare she prefer another.
She was his, he made her his, she would always be his. Never Richard's.
Richard, who took Darken's rightful place in their father's heart. Richard, who was born lucky, when Darken was lucky to be born.
This was his land. This was his time. His Cara, his Stone, his world.
He cracked the bond wider still, sensation gushing through it like a broken dam. Caution gone, light touch abandoned, he bent Cara to his will, drowning her in a sea of silence that was too loud.
Cara's head jerked back, thumping against the tree trunk. She grit her teeth, she couldn't breathe.
It was rage, pure and white hot. A desire to hurt. To possess and manipulate. She flashed back to the horrors of the black agiel, spelled by those despicable Sisters of the Dark.
No. She had left Darken's service for a reason, she remembered that.
And she remembered Richard. Kahlan. Zedd.
Their words. She could almost hear their voices - Richard's voice - telling her that she was stronger than any torture or training, stronger than Darken Rahl. Stronger because she could make her own choices, because she was better than her brutal past. Richard believed in her, with such sincerity and truth that he got to her against her will.
Leave it to the Seeker of Truth to to teach her what truth was.
No, I won't succumb.
Darken Rahl could try and try, again and again, at breaking her. He could even succeed. He had succeeded. She'd been broken more than once at his hands.
But Richard had taught her that even one who was broken could heal. Darken Rahl was trying to take her soul by force, but something within her was stronger than the magic he used to boil her blood.
The most powerful magic in all the world. Somehow, love surged inside of her. The love she had for Richard, an unyielding loyalty it had taken dark magic to sunder.
But it wasn't just loyalty, Cara's to Richard or Richard's to Cara. She could get loyalty from her Sisters of the Agiel. Richard wanted to save her not just because he was loyal to his friend.
He defended her in Stowcroft, tried to reach her now because he believed in her and her strength.
Because he believed in redemption.
He'd tried to tell her that, to show her, on their travels. And in this moment, this moment when Darken Rahl was using all his powers of his blood smother her in darkness... something within her fought.
Fought back hard, so hard Cara could feel the yanking, strangling pull of the bond.
Love for Richard, love for Kahlan, love for Zedd.
Love for the son she had never held.
Love powerful enough to break the red line of compulsion connecting her to Darken Rahl. It shattered with a force that left her panting.
Darken was winning, he could feel Cara submitting, retreating from the power of the bond. She would be his, things would be right - how they were destined to be. He would rule, he would have a family, and they -
Something burned along the bond.
It raced, liquid fire, a bright shining plague, a searing seething tidal wave that burned his rage away. It was inexorable, unstoppable, ineffable. He hated it, he raged, he roared.
For one blissful moment, he felt the full force of Cara's spirit, he was Cara, inside Cara, she was with him in his skin, overwhelming, pushing him down into his bones where he was pounded against the rocks of his shattered rage. The bond was so strong, it hurt him even as he clung to it, a pure note of something he did not understand, but desperately wanted to keep.
It took several long moments for Cara to catch her breath, then she raised her head.
I'm not yours anymore, Rahl.
And then it was gone. Suddenly sheared away with a violent lurch that made Darken gasp.
It wasn't possible.
It couldn't be true.
It wasn't his truth.
With a sudden, suffocating, sucking breath, Darken jerked upwards in the bath, eyes snapping open. He had slumped forward into the water when the bond was severed.
When Cara left him alone to face the shards of his own heart, his rage swept away, scrubbed clean by the force of her final fight.
He was empty.
He coughed, the water he inhaled disgorged in a spray, his hand over his mouth.
When he took it away, he saw red.
Blood clung to the corner of his mouth.
He clenched his fist.
All he had ever sought was peace.
All he had ever desired was to be loved.
He placed his hand in the water, washing his blood away. It danced in streams from his fingers.
Like ribbons that had been cut.