The shadows that crawled over the small clearing were slowly getting longer, a light breeze blew through the leaves with cold hands and Cara felt her shoulders tightening, full of expectation. The tautness around her was almost palpable, the air seemed to thicken and its weight getting hard on her skin. She was waiting. Lurking. She could sense the presence of her sisters even more then seeing them, hidden in the shadows of the trees. Lurking as she did. She knew, they wouldn´t have to wait much longer, their prey was on the way.
Lord Rahl, their TRUE Lord Rahl, had been very clear in announcing their quest. And she better fulfilled his wishes in every way, because if not, she knew that all the very welcome little pleasures, she enjoyed with Dahlia, and not only these, would soon be past. And this even would be her smallest headache then. In his words had been no space for doubts about that.
"If you have the heart, Cara, to betray me, or to return without your prey, I will find a way to show you the consequences of such a behavior in an absolute unforgettable way. And be sure, Cara, the training you´ve be gone through this time, will appear as a tenderly embrace, compared to the pain I will give to you. Well, I´m not even sure, if you will ever be able to share any pleasure with Dahlia after that again." His breath had been a hot breeze, whispering the threat into her ears.
And Cara knew very well that he was serious. She had a clear picture in her mind of her punishment in case of her failure, and she set no great store by the experience. Not that she had ever doubted his words - she wasn´t entitled to. It was his privilege to punish her if she would fail, and she would appreciate it, because she would deserve it. No, failing was just no option! Not for her, who was only a few days back to her true family, and Lord Rahl had given her the honor to return into his personal circle, notwithstanding her betrayal of all she had been trained for.
Some of her sisters weren´t convinced yet. She knew what they thought about her, she could feel it whenever they shared the room with her. Her raised hackles told about it, when she felt their eyes upon her: she had let herself go! For so many months she had grown weak, had started to ignore her true nature, listened to those fools, who told her a Mord Sith could be more than just a weapon; a Mord Sith could be something like a normal person, worth to be cared about and perhaps even able to share such silly emotions like…love…Cara felt a bitter taste on her tongue, caused by the mere thought of it.
Not the first time since her retraining she brooded over how she had come to this point. How did it ever get so far? She was a Mord Sith; and she was more then proud of it. Her only purpose was to serve Lord Rahl, she was his living weapon, prepared to die for him if that would be his will, and for sure, to be for his pleasure if he desires so. And to feel honored to be ordered into his bed.
Her hands reached for her agiels, embracing the sudden pain flooding her mind in such a familiar way. This was, what she really was, what she needed, what gave her power! Nothing else she wanted to be!
Honor, pride, loyalty - those were the feelings that made her powerful.
In the corner of her eyes she could barely recognize Dahlia, who sneaked feline between the trees in her direction. The pure sight of her boosted Cara´s arousal in an instant. It was Dahlias way to move, her strong muscles under her leather, and now the excitement, this pure lust in her eyes, when her gaze locked with Cara´s. A barely hidden promise, forcing Cara´s stomach to flutter, while she leered at her. Everything around her seemed to tremble in expectation of the hunt.
And the Mord Sith were on the hunt! And this time, it was no small, innocent rabbit, to be hunted in the last daylight. This time, they were a pack of wolves, on the trace of a dangerous beast, hunting to overthrow it in a massive final attack, merciless and irrevocable. And she, Cara, as the leader of the pack, would have the honor, to run their prey to earth, and this would finally complete the rebuilding of her Mord Sith reputation.
´Cause their prey was no one less then the seeker and his confessor!
They waited patiently for hours in the shades of the trees around the clearing, where the ways crossed, as Cara had ordered them to. Their prey would come along here, she was sure.
Cara knew they would come. She knew the scouts, sent to observe their steps, had been needless. She knew it, because she knew them, better as anyone else did. She knew exactly how they acted, what their next steps would be. They could not help but step into their trap. They simply became the victims of their endless naivety, their illogical mind and their silly, arrogant emotions, which led them to believe they were the only ones, who could possibly rescue Cara - and, even worse, that Cara wanted to be rescued by them!
They were fools! They didn´t know the first thing about her! They had no idea, what a Mord Sith really wanted and expected from living.
The corner of her mouth curled into a scoffing grin while she imagined the Seeker, in an enthusiastic hurry to approach , to rescue "his" Mord Sith, willing to fight an unwinnable fight against Darken Rahl without even thinking of the consequences.
Lord Rahl had not been right, when he tried to rub salt into her wounds with his words "you´re not as important, that the seeker would come for you". He didn´t know it better, because he didn´t know them as Cara did. She had been sure that the Seeker wouldn´t hesitate to come to her aid. He would never let "his" Mord Sith be captured by Darken Rahl, though it was only for his own well-being. That he didn´t really care for her she had recognized when Lord Rahl had convinced her in her retraining, that the Seeker abused her as a pet that he proudly presented to the world -"look at this former monster, I´ve tamed it"
There was a hot sting in her chest, when she imagined Richard; with a resolute glint in his eyes on his way to Darken Rahl, electrified by the rage of the sword and confident to be the one who had to save the world. Cara could see him as clearly, as if he stood in front of her, and something inside her made it suddenly hard to breath.
Cara´s eyes went hard, she clenched her jaw and anger forked through her body. She focused her mind on her single purpose: revenge! Revenge for the dishonor the Seeker gave her, when he absorbed her into his group; when he ripped her out of her true life; when he tried to convince her, she was one of them.
The Seeker and his old grandfather, the great wizard Zorander... Cara frowned. This sad figure of a silly old man, who wouldn´t be a big aid for his grandson in this fight, knowing that the Mord Sith merely waited for his wizard´s fire to use it against himself!
With a hard smirk Cara figured the old mans face, his gaze, desperate, helpless and heart-broken, and she could feel her stomach tighten. - Must be the anticipation of their triumph.
And last not least: the Mother Confessor!
Cara could feel her hackles rising. Needless to say that she would wear her white confessor dress, just to bring out her own importance without any doubt.
Cara tightened her grip on her agiels and again she focused on the familiar pain that distracted her from this queer sense that caught her breath in a sudden burst.
She frowned with the thoughts of the Confessor. Something was wrong with it. The picture of her didn´t get clear, she saw her face only in bruised shadows. What did that mean? The faces of the Seeker and the wizard had appeared quite clearly, but the Confessors?
Cara remembered every detail, her long brown curls, swinging like dark flames around her head while fighting, her eyes so very blue, inviting to loose yourself in, those lips, velvety, the little scar… - every detail was in her mind, but the whole picture kept blurred.
With a single blow Cara recognized, that she had really lost the image of the Mother Confessor. The sudden realization hit her completely unprepared. She cringed as hard, as if the powerful agiel that was used for her retraining had hit her again. And in the same moment she registered, soberly, that she had lost the picture exactly in that moment, when she fainted while her retraining for the first time. Her gaze, witch she barely remembered how touchingly it could be - her smile, able to light up a rainy day. Lost! Not even her voice she was able to recall, though she thought to remember, that it could let her heart swing…-So what, Cara shrugged, it had made her weak! She reminded somehow with a sour taste on her tongue that she had clung to her picture, until Lord Rahl decided to boost his training with the help of the sisters of the dark, that she locked it up somewhere deep inside her mind to protect it.
- To protect herself -
It was not until she felt the grasp on her shoulder, firm and grim, that Cara noticed Dahlia, who kneed beside her and gave her a concerned look. "What is it?" She asked, her eyes staring at her alerted. She hadn´t missed the slight moan, which had escaped from Cara´s lips without her knowing.
Cara glared at her from the corner of her eyes and managed a grin. "Just can´t wait! Let´s get it over with this, I don´t want to wait any longer for the pleasantness that waits for me in your chamber." Her eyes seemed full of blatant desire.
Dahlia leered at her. "You´ve heard Lord Rahl! He wants to give you the honor to invite you into his chambers for a while as a sign of his admission. But don´t worry, I´ll be there in a few days, and I´ll be waiting impatiently!"
Cara furrowed her brows, but before she could snap an answer there was a flow behind the trees. All of a sudden her nerves were on the edge. She could sense the wave of arousal going through all Mord Sith in the shadows. Their prey appeared.
They matched exactly the picture she had painted: the seeker went straight ahead, forcefully he hurried on his way to find Darken Rahl. His Confessor was just a step behind, Cara couldn´t see her face, half covered from the dark curtain of her hair, and the wizard, a bit breathless but not less purposeful, stumped afterwards. Cara could hardly stifle a twisted grin when she detected the half bitten apple in his hand.
They fell blindly in their trap. Cara gave a short wink and it snapped.
A dozen Mord Siths appeared from the shadows into the clear. Cara stood for a moment and observed them, feeling the incipient prickle of arousal on her skin. And then the storm broke out.
The first who fell was the wizard. He had not a single chance, his wizard fire would have destroyed him, resent by the Mord Sith, so he fought with a short sword – the spirits only knew where it came from – and when he lost it with his first attack, he went down under the angry blows of the agiels, without the smallest resistance. Nearby was his apple in the grass, the unbitten side shining with the last glow of the evening sunlight.
Cara ignored the scene. She had ordered her sisters to keep them all alive, if possible, according to Lord Rahl´s expectations, who wished to bring them to death himself in a certainly slow and painful way. She was sure, her sisters would hold back, though the air over the clearing had become heavy of murderous frenzy.
The Seeker had unsheathed his sword in one pliant motion and started to fight in a split second. His strokes were hard and deadly, and his motions elegant and limber. With an enraged roar he sent three of her sisters down to the grass. His art of fight Cara had ever adored; his efficiency to strike without any hesitation or disbelief, to admit the dance with the death. Even now she allowed herself an instant to watch the scene with an almost content smile, while four Mord Sith pestered him with their agiels. This time he wouldn´t escape, which was sure! When he became aware of her he cried out loud:
"Cara! Stop that! You are not yourself! Wake up Cara! You can fight it! – CARA!" but she didn´t even turn her head towards him, he wasn´t her aim. She moved on, barely noticing from the corners of her eyes like an agiel stroke fiercely into his unguarded flank, while two others put upon the moment of surprise and shuddering pain to blow into his chest…
Cara focused completely on the scene in front of her now. Four Mord Sith had encircled the mother Confessor, who whirled in wild and dangerous moves, her daggers in her hands, striking forcefully against her attackers. It was an image of ferocious beauty, as she attacked one sister in a quick lunge, to flash into a turn and stab a second into her side, at the same time smoothly drawing aside some agiels who snapped at her like rabid dogs. Whenever an agiel reached her body Cara could hear a harsh wheeze, but no scream came over her lips, though her arms and her neck were already painted with dark marks, but the Mord Sith were bleeding as well. Obviously the Mother Confessor was not in the mood to give an easy prey. Cara could barely break away from the deadly elegance of her moves, the fascination of her wild waving hair which rounded her head like a collar of dark fire. She had just lost one dagger, fought grimly with only one resting weapon for her life. Cara clenched her jaw. This would be her revenge, finally!
Dahlia gave her a smirk, when she approached. In her eyes she could see the flush of triumph and passion. She bled from a heavy gash over her cheek but didn´t seem to notice it. Willingly she stepped aside to let Cara pass. The confessor had just managed to strike the last Mord Sith down with an exceeding blow of her dagger. The dead body of her enemy fell without a noise.
Resolutely Cara stood at her side. She recalled all those things she blamed this woman for: her dishonor, her weakness – this woman had let her betray her true family, she had made her weak and soft; she was the one who had nearly convinced her of those foolish emotions, that no Mord Sith should ever appreciate. She had pretended to care about her; but in truth she had made her a stupid pet! Cara didn´t notice that her eyes widened and swell. She didn´t record that her heart pounded hard in her chest. With an immense blow she snatched the dagger out of the Confessors hand.
Hissing in rage Kahlan turned around to face her new attacker – and froze immediately. Like a campfire would be snuffed out by water, her entire energy seemed vanish in a split of a second; her shoulders dropped down; her arms hang limply at her side. Her face mirrored nothing but unbelieving, naked horror. Kahlan stared into Cara´s eyes and recognized with a sudden burst that this was the end!
In those steely eyes was no trace left over of Cara, of the woman, which Kahlan had believed in with all her heart, for whose soul she would have fought until the end, for whom she even would have given her life!
She had lost the fight. - She had lost Cara!
Where a few seconds ago she had felt rage and power and passion, there was nothing but a huge emptiness, hopelessness, and a sense of deep sorrow, covering every living emotion inside her. Kahlan barely noticed her eyes swelling with tears. Her knees buckled, her stomach tightened and a pain, as if her heart was ripped out of her chest, caught her breath and she slowly crashed on her knees.
Turning slightly in slow motion she regarded the scene behind her. She saw Zedd, lying in the clammy grass at the end of the clearing. She couldn´t tell if he was dead or only unconscious, but which difference would it make?
A few steps behind her she saw Richard, bleeding and now bound and breathing heavily, surrounded by six dead bodies who bore testimony to his fight. She sighed desperately, sending a wordless apology for her failure with her eyes towards him. The sound of his shout was a dull whisper in her ears:
"Kahlan! Don´t do that! Don´t give up! You can confess her, it is the only chance! Kahlan! – KAHLAN! Listen to me! Confess her!" a hard blow of the agiel and he fainted.
Kahlan turned her face slowly towards Cara, who looked at her, sneering, and struggled hard to stand up again. Tears poured her cheeks in an endless stream but she didn´t care. Kahlan locked her eyes with Cara´s while she tried to get her arm to move into Cara´s direction. The Mord Sith stood straight, her agiel held ready for the final blow if Kahlan was really going to dare touching her.
Cara stretched her chin and watched Kahlan, who was obviously lost in despair, but tried hard to struggle against it. She looked at her face and somehow she seemed to remember a picture. There was a tiny spark of doubt deep inside her; she couldn´t classify, so she tried to ignore. But then their eyes locked, and for a heartbeat, that became a moment of eternity for the both of them, the world stood still. Cara dunked into Kahlan´s eyes, into their brilliant blue behind the tears, puzzled by the confused emotion of needing it. What she recognized inside her felt strange: the struggle, the pain and the deep sorrow, that surrounded every corner of her mind. Cara didn´t want it but she wasn´t prepared for this connection. So she wasn´t armed against the power of emotion waiting for her to fell her like an old tree. She was stunned by the love that flowed through Kahlan even now, an unquestioning love for that Mord Sith who had killed her sister and whom she thought to be worth of her love anyway.
Cara felt a strange pain growing inside her. There was a small crack, like a glass getting a flaw, and then bursting with such an impact that the ground beneath her feet seemed to tremble. A chain flying in pieces, and the almost painful sense of a heart restarting to beat after a while.
Kahlan´s hand still moved slowly towards Cara´s neck. Her fingers trembled, Dahlia hissed something like a warning but neither Kahlan nor Cara seemed to notice.
Merely a few millimeters before Kahlan reached Cara´s throat she ceased. Her gaze was bursting, she nearly collapsed and with a desperate hiss she turned half towards Richard: "I´m sorry, Richard! ... I can´t do it!" and when her arm moved higher her voice was only a murmur: "I can´t kill her…" her fingertips touched Cara´s cheek slightly, whispering with broken breath: "She´s my life!"
Kahlan couldn´t fight no longer. She gave up, her body dropped slowly to the ground.
Cara stared at her, her eyes hard, and yet, while Kahlan was falling, Cara´s hand grasped her agiel and stroked out for the final blow. In a turning to the left she poked the agiel directly onto Dahlias chest, whose eyes widened and broke. Cara whispered cheerless but decided" I´m sorry, Dahlia. It´s over."
She grabbed the dagger from the grass and threw it towards the last Mord Sith. She was dead before she knew it.
Breathing heavily Cara stood on the clearing. Her gaze went over to Zedd, who gave a low moan and to Richard, who was still unconscious and bleeding, but save. At least her gaze caught Kahlan´s, their deep blue eyes were wide in disbelief and Cara sank slowly to her side, buried her face on her shoulder and was grateful for her strong arms to pull her closer and hold her tight.