Title: Destiny Does Not Send Us Heralds

Pairing: Cara Mason/Kahlan Amnell

Rating: M

Summary: In an adventure gone awry, Cara and Kahlan are forced to examine their lives and priorities more closely.

Disclaimer: This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead is coincidental and not intended by the author.

A/N: Chapters 1-22 are unbeta'ed (does anybody want to take them on?). Chapter 23 and those beyond it are beta'ed by the gorgeous Sionainn69. Any and all inconsistencies are mine. Feel free to point them out. I have never seen the TV show but I've read the books ages ago (I can barely remember the story). I hope you enjoy reading this as I'm having a ball of a time writing it.

Everything began at a Mord'Sith temple.

The air around them cackled with the after effects of magic as Cara paused mid-stride when the Mother Confessor froze beside her, disbelief painted across her expression.

The unconscious figure of Jeric, an errant practitioner recruited by Darken Rahl to help with Cara and the Mother Confessor's capture, lay motionless on the floor but what concerned both of them was a small child of six or seven who appeared in the wake of his spell.

She regarded them both, her eyes an echoing sea of blue that looked both familiar and strange. The artefact from whence she came shimmered behind her, its surface water-like as though hit by a noon-day sun.

Cara could hear the shouts for reinforcement resonate along the corridors. Soon, the room would flood with Jeric's cohorts, Mord'Sith assigned to his task. Their chances of escape were quickly waning.

"Child," Cara demanded of the aberration, knowing that Kahlan was at a loss for words. "Who are you?"

"I'm," the little one started to reply. She rubbed her eyes and squinted, fighting her disorientation. "I…" the child sobbed. She began to realise who it was before her and relief flooded her features.

To Cara's abject horror, she ran towards them on tiny legs. Instinctively, Cara stepped in front of the Mother Confessor with her Agiels drawn. In all her years travelling the world, Cara knew that if magic had a hand in it, then even a child could be a threat.

"Mother!" the girl cried.

From seemingly nowhere, leather-clad arms scooped the girl up from her path.

It became one, confusing blur from then on.

They were bewildered to distraction, their attention halved between fighting and the child, who was carried from the fray while Cara and Kahlan wrestled through a seemingly endless wall of Mord'Sith leather.

They left a slew of dead bodies in their wake but more seemed to stream from the corridors, mobs of Mord'Sith bent on killing them.

It was by pure luck that they found an exit and the harsh, dark interiors of the temple opened into a clearing bathed in light. Sparing no time adjusting to her surroundings, Cara kept running, glancing backwards to see if Kahlan was still behind her.

With what strength she had left, Cara pulled her to the tree-line, shouting for her to take cover but it took only a few more minutes to realise that they weren't being chased.

Cara stopped, gathering her wits. It was telling that the Mord'Sith did not follow but the immediate questions in Cara's mind were far more distracting.

Who was the child? Where had she come from? Why had she called Kahlan 'Mother'?

Cara collapsed beside the river, suddenly burdened with everything that had transpired. Her companion sank beside her, black hair in disarray as she stared blankly ahead in a rare display of confusion and shock.

Kahlan the Mother Confessor descended into a pensive mood. One could feel the ebb and flow of disbelief emanating from her like a tide. Cara herself struggled to keep above the figurative surge, her breathing shallow as she fought to control the rush of blood from the fight and the emotions it inflicted.

Where had they plucked the child? It was an assiduous question, full of repercussions that Cara did not want to contemplate.

Cara watched her companion as she recovered from the shock. "We have to go back," Kahlan told her quietly, rubbing her face as one would after waking.

"It'll be a trap. They're expecting us to come after her. For all we know, that child is dead."

"'That child'?" Kahlan laughed indignantly. "That spell was no ordinary spell, Cara. And that child is no ordinary child."

Cara scoffed. "I won't allow you to go back there, for an illusion or worse!"

"The Gates of Meleth do not lie," Kahlan whispered. "She could be a relative of yours, or a daughter."

"What do you mean mine? I was thinking she was yours!"

"I had the impression she was calling for you, not me."

The thought began to sink in. Cara shifted uncomfortably and refused to meet the Mother Confessor's gaze.

"Are you saying…?"

"She's yours, Cara. I could see it. The blonde hair, that chin."

Cara laughed. The sound rang hollow by the banks of the river and it chilled them both.

She told Kahlan in her most expressionless voice, "I had a son, and he died a long time ago. I should know if I bore a daughter, Mother Confessor." Kahlan's title was laced with poison but the other woman seemed only slightly cowed by her words.

They studied each other solemnly. "I don't see Richard in any of her features," Kahlan began, resignation and amusement in her voice. Kahlan shrugged. "I suppose she's a relative of ours, then."

"In what future or past?" Cara ground out, careful to keep her calm.

The anger was new, as though Kahlan's hypothesis was dangerous, as though it implied impossible things and threatened something much deeper than just Cara's loyalties.

"I'm sure only the wizard knows." As though giving herself time to think, Kahlan stooped over the river to rinse herself. "We have to tell Richard and Zedd."

"No!" Cara said with such force that Kahlan blinked. "No," she repeated, softer this time. She breathed hard, broadcasting her uncertainty by grasping her Agiels. The ancient agony centred her, but only a fraction. "There's no need to involve Richard in this. It'll only delay us more."

"I suppose we now know why your sisters expect us to walk back into the jaws of the lion willingly," Kahlan ventured. "The Gates of Meleth do not lie. They were created for the sole purpose of summoning beings from a past or a present, in one world or another. I don't know why it allowed itself to be used; it hasn't been known to follow the whims of just anyone. Jeric made sure he produced something that we would come back for. This time, they'll be laying a more effective trap." Kahlan reached for her friend. "I don't know why the Gates chose that particular creature to conjure."

Cara pulled away from her touch, almost too quickly. "Kahlan…" There were undertones of fear and a thin, almost indistinguishable layer of guilt that should not have been there in the first place.

A long silence hovered between them. Cara closed her eyes. When she finally opened them, she found the Mother Confessor staring deep into her own reflection at the river, unmoving and expressionless.

Cara dared not speak again; doubt had become her shadow underneath the scathing noon-time sun.