Last Disclaimer: Nothing of LotS belongs to me (such a pity!) - no business, just fan-fun
Warning: I can only repeat what I said last time :
You know me, but I need to remind you: I love my angsty angst! ... Oh, and - character´s death...

AN: YAY! DONE! J

This is the third and last part of the finale. I finally wrapped things up, - and just hope, the ending isn´t too lame after all... ;)
I´ll put my many thank yous to the end, in order to not restrain you now from reading...
So, fasten seat belt and be prepared...

Welcome to "The Long Broken Chains Weekend!

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Finally, after what had felt like hours, and quite a bit worn out, Zedd and Verna sneaked into the room that held the upper part of the main tower. Their way had gained them a few new scars as they had passed barriers, some of them meant as warnings, others to be deadly traps for anyone who dared pushing forward into the Keep. Most of them were old friends to the wizard, who had put them in place himself, but others were new and even more powerful; harshly defending the Keep´s heart.

Connor had done a damned good job; his barriers had been unforeseeable and malicious. Twice they had ripped Verna from his side seemingly setting her aflame; only Zedd´s quick reaction had saved her and it was sheer luck and the aid of his strong grip that she hadn´t stumbled into her death when a false barrier had opened through the wall of the tower, leading her straightly to fall into the dark depth. She bled from a deep gash in her thigh, drops of blood trailing her steps.

Zedd wasn´t much better off. Though his wizard´s magic had allowed him to finally lead them up to this chamber. Instinctively he had known where Connor was to be found...

The spell he had put out to prevent their ears from the beast´s roaring voice had been of great support. But it did little to prevent their eyes now from the horrifying picture that welcomed them in the tower´s heights:

Two layers of a green and turquoise shimmering barrier erupted in the middle of the empty room; their edges didn´t touch the room´s walls nor its floor or ceiling. They hovered weightlessly, small streaks of lightning weaving a constantly moving web on their surface, not unlikely of what Zedd remembered from the boundary he once had raised to separate Westland from the magic and the danger that was Darken Rahl. Horrid dark shadows wafted inside the light; they could see skulls looking at them from empty eyeholes under black, smoky hoods, edges of their black gowns made of fume trying to sneak through the green and reach for them.

But the most horrifying detail in this picture was Wizard Connor.

The wizard from the old world had disrobed from his disguise. No longer did they see a young apprentice with handsome features and a strong body.

The creature that hang freely between the layers of the barrier was a little, scrawny man. Tuckered skin hang from his limps, his chest vaulted inward, long thin strands of yellow-white hair loosely covered his skull; arms and legs stretched to near tearing him apart, hands and feet barely protruding through both parts of the boundaries walls; his mouth was torn open, his horrified stare came from eyeballs that threatened to quill out of their holes. He squirmed as if hanging in chains and suffering unspeakable torment.

Though the worst of all were the streaks of thin green fog, emanating from his every orifice, mingled with deep red blood that leaked to the ground in thin rivulets while the fog crawled to their side of the glowing green walls, slowly swirling up into a cloud that permeated through the walls and windows of the room, through the roof and up to build that eerie creature that was sending more and more frazzles from its cloudy shape, like a swarm of nightmares, rolling and storming and flying down the hill, while their shrieks never seemed to cease.

Verna gasped at the sight. Zedd felt her trembling as her hand settled on his arm. He looked appalled as his eyes met hers.

"Are you sure his death ends it?"

"It will. The beast is still imprisoned in the Deep Nothing. It would take many more hours to let its whole power come through this small channel. The moment the channel is closed, the part that´s already here will lose contact to the magic and cease.

The question is how will we close the channel? My Han can´t get through...

Zedd, can you send some sort of a killing spell through the barrier?"

"I´m afraid not; these walls are made of ancient magic. There´s no spell known that would be able to get through and still unroll its power..."

"Destroy it?"

"Within this short time? Far beyond our abilities."

"Then how could we..."

"I… will have to make contact..."

"No, Zedd! As soon as you try to get near his body, the beast will turn against you and tear you apart. It smells you. You are a wizard of the first order, one of the kind that banned it. You are it´s enemy! I can already sense how it´s searching for the source of this..."

"But we have to get through to him to kill him."

Stubbornly Zedd made some bold steps forward, until a sudden wall of green fog swept against him, streaks lashing out to claw at his figure as if with razor-sharp blades; he could feel how flesh was ripped from his shoulder, screamed as searing white pain shot through his chest. He barely escaped as Verna got a grip of his cloak and tugged him back to the doors; watching anxiously as the fog halted, as if considering consciously to follow them, and then retreated and welled up to the roof.

Cautiously she dragged his bony figure through the door and slammed it shut.

The old wizard was panting heavily; sweat covered his face. Verna looked his wound over, than met his eyes in concern.

"Will you listen to me next time?"

"Good girl! What am I supposed to do? Sit down and twirl my thumbs while this beast destroys all we were fighting for?"

He coughed.

Verna stepped to the near balcony and looked out, sighing in frustration as she watched more and more of these unearthly dragon-birds heading for Aydindril. Their shrieks becoming a constant braying whistle...Shivers ran down her spine as she imagined the tortures the beast would cause about the city walls, merely hoping it would hit Rahl´s troop first.

"We´re doomed Zedd. There is no chance we can stop it." She whispered under her breath. Resignation and sorrow already wrapping their arms around her. Guilt. For having failed. Its bitter taste burning in the back of her throat.

"There MUST be a way!" Zedd had clumsily approached;

Verna smiled at him sadly.

"You´re not one to give up too easily, are you?" He flashed a crooked grin and she couldn´t help but snort and nod resigned.

"Well then, if there is a way to stop this, you better come up with it soon. Because it´s growing stronger and stronger with each of this damned fool´s heartbeats."

Zedd stared at the fog welling up from the roofs like thick smoke from a fireplace. His thin lips pursed as his mind tried to get a grip on the fluttering thought that danced through a corner of his brain. Finally he blinked twice and he looked at Verna with a mischievous glint in his pale eyes.

"I think I have an idea…"

"That is."

"Fire!"

"…Fire."

"Yes. Fire! I do not know for sure if it works; but it´s the only thing I can imagine it might work.

See, we are not able to destroy the barrier, nor get through it. But maybe we can just…conflate them."

"And?"

"And thus Connor will no longer hang in the in between, but his body will either fall into the Deep Nothing or get out on our side. If we get a grip on him here, we may destroy him. If he will fall out of the barrier on the other side. He may well rot in the Deep Nothing… And the beast with him."

Verna had lifted a suspicious brow.

"That sounds a very foolish idea, wizard."

"Have a better ass in your sleeve, nun?" He snapped.

Her eyes narrowed in slight annoyance.

"I´m not a nun. I am a Sister of the Light. And you are lucky so, because without my Han your wizard fire would be hopelessly wasted on this old magic…"

He grinned at her chastising glare.

"So be it than. I need to gather some supplies in my chambers. Try to secure this room as best as you can. The beast must not escape through a hole in the walls or a crevice in the floor… But do not come too close. I do not want to lose you!"

Verna nodded, touching his forearm with her gentle hand, searching his eyes.

"Be careful, Zedd. And please,… hurry!"

And hurry he did. He couldn´t recall a time when his legs had carried him as fast as they did now, seemingly light and strong as he jumped down the stairs, passing magical barriers on his way with almost ignorance, feeling a mixture of knowledge and boldness securing him.

Soon he opened the unobtrusive door to a small room and stepped into the faintly lit chamber filled with shelves, containing the oddest materials in boxes and mugs and baskets. Both, their amount and their weight causing some of the rags to bend under their load.

Zedd´s eyes travelled hastily along their lines, searching, while his mind tried to focus on that little box made of yellow bone he had come for.

He stood frozen, his chin lifted and his eyes shut as if trying to prove the winds, focusing on the one thought; and finally a small smile tickled at the corner of his lips as he suddenly blinked and made a few steps between two racks, reaching out and grabbing the small box from where it had lain hidden beneath a few books. He opened it carefully and picked out the small egg-like stone which shone an almost black sparkling green.

Stroking it tenderly he threw the box away and, clenching his fist tightly around the item, he hurried back.

He found Verna standing in the room, leaning tensely against the wall, while the prickling of magic told him that she had done as he had told her. He could sense the dense cell of tightened air that encircled the room, brimming with the magic of her Han, leaving enough space to not gather attraction by the fog which was still welling from Connor´s tortured body.

It would certainly not stand long enough to hinder the massive cloud of the beast if it decided to attack with its full force. But as long as there were only small streaks of fog that brushed against it, he was quite sure it would do.

Verna looked at him expectantly. He grinned, lifting his fist and showing her his little trophy.

"This is a boundary stone. It is a leftover from ancient times; the last one if I am right. All boundaries and barriers have been put up with their aid. It serves as a multiplier of the forces the wizards used to build them. That´s why it is nearly impossible to destroy them, because the power that created them had been far beyond every magic the world has ever known. I used one to separate the Westlands…

I thought, if it creates them maybe it´s able to change them, too…"

"So, we do not know how it will change it…"

Zedd shrugged.

"Well, we will know soon…

We just need to bring it exactly under the gap between the layers and concentrate our magic on it."

He looked at her, laying his hand on her shoulder and squeezing gently.

"Whatever may come out of this. It´s been a pleasure to have you at my side, Sister Verna."

Her eyes flickered a grey blue as she touched his hand reassuringly; then he turned and bent down, carefully taking aim and then he threw the stone and held his breath as it slithered easily close to the barrier, almost stopping a few inches too shortly, but a small push from Verna´s Han placed it exactly to the spot.

Inhaling deeply he straightened, shooting Verna a fierce glance and then they both lifted their hands…

The air seemed to tremble as they gathered their powers to let them explode into a heated ball that shot towards the green shimmering wall. Verna saw the wide eyes of Connor widen even more as the ball burst on the barrier. First it seemed as if the green constricted, as if the fire that erupted from the ball was deflected and burnt into the air against the walls. The eerie smoke came to a sudden halt in its flow as if confused for a moment, before it gathered on their side, building up into a cloud that started to whirl, sending a low humming that increased.

Verna felt its force washing against their combined energy, her hands already cramped as she tried to withstand the beast.

"You must not concede Verna! Hold on! Try to aim for the stone!"

Zedd´s voice roared against the growing humming noise as his hands started shaking.
"More!"

As they shifted their shaking hands and the magic hit the small stone with all its force, a sudden glistening light erupted from under the barrier, blinding them both. A scream, filled with horror, reverberated from the spot they knew the wizard hang between the slayers, and suddenly the entire tower seemed to moan as sparks threw out of the walls.

"More, Verna!" Zedd shout out; the heat grew into a murderous fire that burnt dangerously close to them; the stone glowed a deep red and angry sparks bit into their hands and faces, burning their flesh.

"Zedd…"

"I can´t control it!"

"We must get out of here!"

He held one more heartbeat, then yelled: "Now!"

And they both ran.

Out of the door and to the balcony, looking up and seeing the beast whirling and spinning while it roared in rage. Behind them, through the open door, flames shot out; as did from the roofs.

Zedd grabbed Verna´s sleeve and pointed down the walls.

She shook her head; frightened as she saw water glistening in what seemed like a league beneath them. Her arm tried to rip from Zedd´s fingers, but the old wizard held her in vice-like grip.

Pushing her forward and once again looking deep into her eyes.

"Trust me."

And then they jumped. In the very moment when the tower exploded and left nothing but fire and heat and Connor´s black burning limps…

::::::::::::::::::::

Cara threw a brief glance to the fight where home guards met D´Harans in fierce swordplays, the sounds of steel to steel, screams of rage and pain and frustration mingling with the high pitched whining of agiels. She saw Benjamin wielding his weapon against two brawny soldiers, his normally calm brown eyes brimming with the heat of fierce rage she had never expected to find there. She knew the reasons for it; knew them nagging at his mind, urging him to go on. She knew, that his disgust for Dennee´s furtiveness, the wrath he felt for her betrayal that had let to so much suffering and eventually this fighting, as much as his deep felt troth to the Mother Confessor and his concern for her safety would spurn him on. She could trust him. Clearly he and his men were heading towards the woman in white Rahl held in his fierce grip.

Cara felt her heart racing, knowing she couldn´t fly to her side herself. Dennee was too near. The Confessor wouldn´t hesitate to go for her own sister if only she could hurt Cara by doing so. Thus Cara would have to stay and fight her, in order to hold her back from Kahlan. Berdine and Raina were at her side, swinging their agiels against any red leathered figure that dared come close enough from behind; Rahl´s Mord Sith who had turned towards them attacked in a cruel, decided wave, but Berdine and Raina didn´t wither; striking and dealing blows forcefully, they kept standing their place; deadly warriors on their field of honor, where mercy had no place. Though, instead of fighting their way towards Kahlan, as she had instructed them before, they stayed close to Cara, as if intending to defend her.

Her brows furrowed the blonde growled annoyed and hissed between two strikes.

"Go! Now! Protect Kahlan!"

Berdine hit a Mord Sith and let her agiel dance violently across her temple.

"Benjamin and his men will. We stay!"

"That´s an order!"

"Forget it!"

"Disobeying is not acceptable, Berdine!" Her growl grew threatening, while her agiel bit murderously into a muscled chest of an invasive soldier. Her friend kept unimpressed, snapping defiantly, while she pressed the tip of her weapon onto her opponent's chest.

"You may punish us afterwards. For now, just deal with it."

All while Dennee approached, slowly, but inevitably. The men encircling her gave their all to prevent her from any harm, swords pierced chests of friends and foes; confessed as they were, they didn´t discern between D´Harans, Mord Sith and Midlanders. Their only aim was to protect Dennee as she strode straightly towards the blonde Mord Sith, casually lifting her hand to confess a man in red armor who had managed to break through her shield of abulic protectors.

The long stretched moment of weakness that followed inevitably was thoroughly compensated by the men around her. It did only little to slow her down, now, that her prize, her revenge was so close…

Cara felt close to exasperation, the kind she had never felt before, in an intensity that made her chest constrict; unable to reach the Mother Confessor, unsure of how Kahlan´s situation was, she stroke against another Mord Sith, her frustration leading to double hard blows. Her opponent dodged the strike and landed a swift hit to her shoulder, pressing her weapon hard against her. The blonde gritted her teeth, her blood boiled in rage; the triumphant grin on the woman´s face ceased quickly as Cara jerked her leg upward and grabbed around her neck to push her face fiercely against her knee. Hearing her jaw break compelled a cruel grin on the blonde´s face.

With even more energy Cara went on, dealt blow after blow, kicked and dodged, whirled and blocked. The red of her leather eagerly swallowed blood, while her deadly dance never lessened. Corpses gathered around her and her sisters.

Until finally she felt trapped between Rahl´s Mord Sith and Dennee´s body guards. Suddenly she was glad to have her sisters at her side, backing her as she turned to face the confessor´s attack.

She found herself confronted with five attackers at once. Two of the men had given their lives on the way, but the bearish force of a confessed D´Haran filled the gap easily. His strike came with brutal force, no longer ruled by reasons or tactics, but blindly heading for her.

Cara saw the blow coming and tensed. Her agiels crossed, she jerked her hands upwards to block it. But what she didn´t expect was the fact that the soldier had no intention to kill her. Instead he turned the blade in the last moment and wiped forcefully with its flat side. The impact, as he dashed her wrists hard, flung her around, both her agiels ripped out of her grip. She gasped and, jumping forward, her outstretched hand tried to catch at least one of her weapons, and clenching it tightly she rolled up and came to her feet in one swift, pliant move.

Jade green eyes shot fire as she spun around to bring the man down… - and stopped in her motion as a strong hand wrapped around her throat.

The Confessor had stepped into her move and used Cara´s drive in her favor. The blonde literally swung into her grip, Dennee just had to clench her fingers and elongate the drive to force her to the ground, two of her body guards jumping immediately to drag her arms back and step on her calves to hold her down. Her eyes, which had just spoken murder, widened in shock, but suddenly calmed as they fixed on the Confessor hovering over her.

Dennee stared her down. She relished in the moment, enjoyed the sight of Cara´s heated face. Almost curiously she watched as a pearl of sweat made its way down the blonde´s forehead, drawing a line along her temple and down her cheek, finally dropping to her chest. A faint smile settled on her lips. She felt no haste.

Time was hers.

The blonde was hers.

This was the moment she had dreamed of for so long. Thrilled shivers ran down her spine as she felt Cara´s pulse hammering against her palm, felt how the Mord Sith squirmed slightly under her touch, a brief attempt to escape her grip, to deny her fate. Though there was no chance to do so. And Dennee knew that Cara felt it, that the blonde knew…

Dennee relished in all of that. She took it in and savored it as her eyes searched the jade green orbs in her victim´s face; waiting for the panic to rise in her gaze, waiting for her final revenge.

The world around them had ceased. In this heartbeat, time didn´t matter. Nothing mattered any more. They were one in the times being. Dennee´s visions reduced to this face, to these eyes…Dark green sparks flashed through her grey gaze as a tender smile settled on her lips.

And Cara stared back. Though there was no fear, no panic.

There was simply accepting.

In this split of a second the Mistress Cara, the Mord Sith, retreated willingly; she stepped back into a corner in her mind and allowed the woman, Cara Mason, the one who had been deprived all of her life, to finally rule her last second.

Feelings washing through her in an overwhelming wave, flooding her mind with bright, forceful calmness, easing her like nothing had eased her ever before, and weighing her down all the same. Some of them like gentle, warm breezes; stroking her heart; some like heated fire; burning her soul.

Feelings of sorrow; that she had failed; that she would not be able to safe the one she had learned to love, the one who owned her heart, her soul; that all of it would be destroyed and she would never be able to tell her how deep her feelings truly were..

Feelings of regret; for she had wasted so much time; for she had listened to the wrong voices, had allowed them to lead her; for she had followed the wrong paths for too long, ignoring the shyly shimmering bliss that had lain on the wayside; had waited for her while she had walked in arrogant boots of pride and honor on her silly path; if she had only been strong enough to pick it up and claim it her own when time had been hers to do so…

She even felt a pang of almost relieved exhaustion. No longer able to bear all the fighting, the struggles…

But above all, like a soft, comforting blanket, there was a feeling of warmth in her heart and never before known gratefulness, lifting the shadows around her and wrapping her into its .

For the time she had been granted, if ever so short;

For been allowed the experience, the preciousness of love and being loved;

For the memories of shared moments that now flooded her mind; that somehow seemed to be able to stretch this very heartbeat into a tender lifetime…

An almost peaceful smile settled on her lips as she shut her eyes close.

- Thank you, Kahlan…For allowing me to love you… for the love you gave me…

And then she stopped feeling at all as the power of confession slammed into her…

….

Kahlan had fought her way blindly. She didn´t care on which side the people stood, that the Sword of Truth fell. No one would hold her up. No one! All she had in mind was to get through the fighting, to not lose time to get to Cara.

A D´Haran stepped in her way, his sword pointing straightly to her chest as he suddenly blocked her path. She faintly heard someone yelling: "Nooo!" - but didn´t acknowledge her own voice. The sword already lifted, screaming in rage, she whirled into a spin and beheaded him; the power of the sword cutting through his neck as if cutting through thin air; blood sprayed onto her, smearing her face and her dress; she didn´t even notice. Much less did she notice the tears quilling from her dark blue eyes, until they took her sight. Sobbing in despair she wiped them away, only briefly faltering to search for the spot where she had gathered a glimpse of the blonde Mord Sith just a second ago.

What she saw made her blood freeze in the same moment, taking her every breath:

Berdine and Raina were fighting side by side against the last standing Mord Sith. Raina bled from a heavy gash in her shoulder, but she seemed to own an inhuman strength as she just saved Berdine from a sword-blow, lashing from behind. The sword owner was killed with decided heat.

Next to the two there were three home guards standing, weapons to the ready, but not joining the battle. They just stood like a living wall, vigilantly shielding their mistress behind them.

Kahlan saw Dennee´s white dress shimmering. And she saw a flash of blond hair. Her Mord Sith, kneeling in front of her sister.

The instant her mind realized with bare brutality that her sister´s hand had wrapped around Cara´s throat, that there was no chance she would reach her in time, ... that she came too late…

Somewhere deep inside her, something cracked. It constricted. And then it shattered into pieces…

And a power, so strong that it burst through her veins in a rush that made her body sway like leave-covered treetops in a storm, roared to life. Her body shook in heavy convulsions, her eyes blinked once, twice; and a bloodcurdling scream erupted from deep inside her chest.

The fighting around her came to a halt. Heads turned around, eyes filled with shock and terror as they watched the Mother Confessor straightening, her eyes opened into dark black pools, edged by blood-red shadows; her face a blood-smeared mask; her stare washing briefly against them all.

Before her power could sweep against them, Raina threw herself onto Berdine, they both crashing to the floor and quickly rolling aside. Benjamin and his men jumped out of her way, immediately acknowledging the deadly wrath of the Con Dar they had been told of in old-wives´ tales in their youth; their eyes were wide and filled with fear as they ducked; most of them were just blown aside as if by an icy wind; they rolled to the far end of the hall as if they didn´t have any weight at all.

The last D´Haran soldiers, who hadn´t yet noticed that their master had gone, were too frightened to react. Their feet felt like they were nailed to the ground, their eyes glued to that eerie ghost of destruction that came rushing their way. Staring wide eyed and mesmerized, they had no chance to avoid their fate, their eyes went black and they crumbled to the ground, squirming and begging for her orders.

"Die!" she hissed coldly, her voice a growling thunder; not waiting to see them obey, running through their line, knowing only one aim.

Dennee had released her power in the blink of a second, staring into the black emptiness of Cara´s eyes, feeling her power washing though her enemy, appreciating the mighty sensation of her triumph, which seemed to fill her entire body with pure energy…

When suddenly a cruel grip around her own throat violently dragged her away from her victim; she turned with a howl; enraged to be disturbed in her revenge, her hand jerked up to wrap around the intruder´s throat; she barely recognized her own sister clenching her fingers tightly, pressing as if wanting to choke her. She was slammed into the nearest pillar, her sister´s eyes, eerie black diamonds in a mask of vengeance, pierced her own, which were flashing dark green sparks.

Each held the other´s throat in a fierce grip; both their eyes were black as their powers were released into the other.

The air around them crackled and rolling thunders rippled the floor in endless waves, though no sound was heard except for their heavy panting. Where just a moment ago there had been heated fighting, the hall had fallen into a frozen silence. Everyone held their breath, watching appalled how the two Confessors collided.

Their spirits blazed down on each other in a place far beyond the real world, where time and space didn´t exist. Kahlan´s wrath seemed to glow in a fierce light, wrapping around the dark clouded hate that was her little sister. Dark green layers of burning aggression surging from Dennee´s power. Caught and choked by the Mother Confessor´s remorseless determination. Their fight was murderous, the impact tremendous. Neither of them willing to forgive, they surged against each other in violent heat, struggled to the end of their strength;

Dennee was the weaker one, had always been; though while her body soon trembled and was close to collapse, something held her upright, something so strong that it seemed to come from an unknown might, a destroying force of odium that was not her own.

Its magnitude burnt through Kahlan´s veins, setting her soul aflame.

Helplessly her allies watched as Kahlan writhed and squirmed, howling in pain and rage; her eyes widened, their black depths, edged in heated crimson, seemed to almost swallow the light as she repelled. Panting and growling she seemed close to lose the fight, but she didn´t wither; until she finally seemed to retreat, gathering the lasting streaks of her power for one more blow, then slammed it with her full force into the cloud of green wavering power. Pushing grimly, her spirit watched as the fog started whirling, then reared against her merciless grip and then finally ceased…

And Kahlan broke down.

Slowly her eyes cleared. Gasping for breath, trembling, with her hand still clenched around her sister´s throat, she followed the unconscious body to the ground. There was a cold hand twisting her heart as she could feel her sister shaking; saw her bleeding from the corner of her eyes and from her ears. Instantly she knew the damages were too serious to ever be healed.

Kahlan panted heavily, tears were streaming down her pale cheeks in steady dolorous rivulets as she held her sister´s body, cradling her, weeping and sobbing…

"Nooo…Dennee… no! …What have I done?… little sister… forgive me…what have I done…" Her voice cracked as Dennee´s eyes fluttered open, cleared into their familiar grey, for once devoid of any madness; but filled with pain and torture that contorted her face and made her body cramp heavily; and Kahlan felt her own love choking her as a faint smile tried to settle on her sister´s exhausted features.

"Kahlan…"

"Hush, sweetie, hush… you need to rest, little sister." She tried to smile back at her, but her lips didn´t want to obey as usual. Her gaze shifted to the Mord Sith who lay a few steps aside, her slender body writhing in pain, convulsions ripping through her limbs.

It tore Kahlan apart. "Cara…" her sobbing almost swallowed the name. Dennee opened her eyes, panting and coughing a little, as she tried to turn her head. Her hand clenched around Kahlan´s wrist.

"I´m sorry Kahlan… I´m sorry…" she coughed blood, drawing a thin line from the corner of her lips.

"Shh…it wasn´t you, Dennee. I know that…"

"Rahl… the Keeper… they… planted the seed… I… too weak…"

"Sshh…" Despair in her eyes, Kahlan looked around, searching for a helping hand, for some strength, anything that would be able to turn back time. Raina stood with her shoulders sagged; Benjamin watched from a little distance, not daring to come closer, Berdine had rushed to Cara. All their faces held the stunned expression of helpless despair…

Kahlan cried. Her gaze met Nicci´s, who just limped near, blue eyes pleading frantically.

"Please… I need help!" The sorceress held her gaze, her lips a thin line as she regretfully shook her head.

"Mistress?"

Kahlan felt the tiny, tortured voice cutting deep into her heart. Cara had managed to push herself up, her hand stretched to reach for her mistress.

"No, Cara… no…" she whispered under her breath. Her blood run cold, her insides twisted. Every fiber of her being wanted to reach out, to hold her love, and soothe her. Yet, she couldn´t let go of her sister neither… Both were dying.

Alone her heart had long decided to fly out to the Mord Sith, while her body still cradled Dennee.

She stiffened as suddenly she felt a cold blade brushing softly against her arm. Kahlan struggled to lose her gaze from the blonde, confusion furrowing her brows as she saw the dagger in her sister´s hand.

"…her only… chance, Kahlan. You can… save her."

Kahlan stared at her, not believing the meanings of the word. She shook her head vehemently. "No!... Dennee…I can´t."

"You can. For her… I´m dying… rather by your loving hand…I… only little time resting! ... she… no time at all."

Tears blocked her sight as Kahlan´s hand wrapped around the dagger as if on its own decision. Her eyes were drawn to Cara; her mind heard the faint sound of words a white dragon had told her in a moment of deepest despair…

"Do what must be done… Do not hesitate. Dead souls do not belong to the world of the living…"

"Mistress…please…?" That was all that was needed to break the Mother Confessor.

Kahlan shut her eyes close and swallowed hard, gritting her teeth. A strange but forceful calmness raised in her mind as she opened her eyes, looking at Dennee with the brightest brilliance of blue, love flowing freely from the depth of her heart and her sister smiled in appreciation.

"Thank you. For everything."

Kahlan put the tip of the blade to the spot over Dennee´s heart and bent down, kissing her forehead tenderly, then whispering into her ear: "I love you, little sister"

She felt her smiling against her cheek as Dennee´s hand wrapped around her own in surprisingly strength, urging her hand forward. She barely felt the pressure as the blade cut into her sister´s heart, but she caught her last breath, whispering softly "I love you too…"

Her weeping almost choked her as she gently kissed Dennee one last time, then lowered her head to the floor, her gaze instantly searching for Cara, crawling as fast as she could to the side of the woman and, pushing Berdine aside, she put her palms to the blonde´s cheeks, stroking tenderly, allowing a faint smile to tuck shyly at the corner of her lips.

"Cara?... Look at me! Cara?" The empty gaze that only briefly touched her eyes, before trying to sweep to Dennee, the pain that was still written on her features, the shiver that ran through her body as her eyes closed and her muscles went limp; it was all too much.

Kahlan collapsed against Cara; she buried her face in the blonde mane and wept heartrendingly, barely able to breath.

"No, Cara, please! … Stay with me!... Cara! …Please…. Do not leave me!"

Stunned and appalled Mord Sith and home guards watched as the Mother Confessor covered the Mord Sith´ face with kisses and tears, over and over again, shaking her, then cradling her; whispering, then yelling… and as no reaction came, she finally straightened, drowned in tears, though her eyes already started to whirl with black fire.

"You!" she bored her stare into Berdine. "Give her the Breath of Life!"

The tall brunette lifted her eyes, not ashamed of the tears spilling freely and slowly shook her head.

"I´m sorry, Mother Confessor… The Breath of Life will not work. The damage confession causes to a Mord Sith is… not reparable…" Her whisper was a sad breeze from afar.

Kahlan stared from eerie empty eyes, refusing the finality the words held. For the Mother Confessor it seemed as if the world retreated, leaving her in a deep grey emptiness where her vision spun and…

"No!"

From behind them a rustling was heard as Nicci resolutely shove the Mord Sith aside, stepping closer and kneeling behind the lifeless body. Her face was determined and hard as she scowled and slapped Kahlan´s hand away. Pressing her palm to Cara´s heart she closed her eyes, focusing on her Han as she searched for a hint of life in Cara´s body. When just a second later her eyes lifted, they bored with a fierce glance into Kahlan´s.

"She is not yet gone. Her spirit is still there, Kahlan!"

And she placed her palms to each side of Cara´s head, mumbling voiceless words, while a faint blue glowing emerged from her hands, slightly crackling as it vibrated against the Mord Sith´ temples.

Kahlan looked at her. Not knowing that her eyes whirled with black. All she knew was that this woman was her reason to live. She wouldn´t survive if the spark of hope Nicci just planted into her heart wouldn´t improve.

Ignoring the power of Nicci´s Han tickling her skin, she bent down, her hands desperately cradling the blonde´s cheeks, stroking tenderly; she buried her face in her hair and whispered passionately into Cara´s ear.

"I´m here, Cara! …I´m right here. Waiting for you… Please…I love you Cara!… You don´t want to leave me. I know you do not….Please!... you can´t leave me!... I… I do not want to live in this world without you… You are my life, Cara! My love! … Please! ...Remember our cave? Remember your doubts? You didn´t want to believe because you were afraid...But now...You know I love you! I´ve always loved you …Come back to me, Cara! … I need you…" Sobs choked her whispers but she went on, swearing her love to the blonde, brushing her lips softly against Cara´s… Kissing her lids, her cheeks, while her tears, mingled with the blood on her face moistened the blonde´s tanned skin.

Only faintly she heard people gasping as Cara´s hand suddenly twitched once, and then once more.

Shifting her face, it caught her breath, the back of her throat suddenly constricted, as jade green eyes fluttered open, confusion beaming at her from the dizzy and exhausted but still most beautiful gaze she could imagine.

Nicci jolted back with a shriek as her Han was faintly reflected. Her palms glowing a deep red as she blew a breath against them and rubbed them together to ease the tension, scowling at the blonde. Though, her scowl quickly gave way to a sheepish smile, as Jona stepped to her side and stroke her back in a soothing motion, looking down at her so proudly that the sorceress felt her cheeks flushing a little.

Kahlan had no eyes for them, not for anything; her gaze was glued to the blonde, stroking her beautiful face with tender eyes, hungrily soaking up her features, as Cara tried hard to come around; not getting enough from the clouded shimmer in her eyes, the embarrassed red on her cheeks that blossomed quickly as she looked around, finding a dozen pair of curious eyes beaming at her with clear relief; the frown that grew on her face as she met Kahlan´s eyes and the way she bit her lip as she slowly checked her from head to toes. Worry creeping into green eyes under lids that felt almost too heavy to be kept open. It was obvious that she had to struggle to get her arm lifted, to wipe the brunette´s tears away.

"You´re alright, Kahlan?" Cara´s voice was a weak and scraggy breath, but the sound of it seemed to brighten Kahlan´s face. She pulled her close, ignoring the pain that shot through her side, where blood was still tripling from the wound Richard´s blow had caused.

"I am. Now I am."

She brushed her lips softly against Cara´s, her heart skipped a beat as she met their softness, tasting the salt of tears and sweat, almost hesitatingly she allowed the tip of her tongue to stroke these lips tenderly before she retreated, losing her gaze in the dazed green, despair and passion melting into relieve, that made her chest widen and her heart cheer.

Kahlan couldn´t speak, she just held her close and looked at her, a brilliant smile playing on her lips whenever Cara´s still confused gaze met hers.

"You´re bleeding…" the Mord Sith finally whispered;

"It´s nothing. It´s okay, honey... We will heal. Everything will be fine…" Kahlan smiled as she felt the blonde went limp in her arms. Consciousness giving way to weakness and so urgently needed resting;

The brunette still held her tight as her own body gave in to the sweet emptiness of fainting…

::::::::::::::::::::

Raina and Berdine stepped aside as the Mother Confessor passed them with a tight smile on her lips; she still looked pale and exhausted, deep shadows edging her eyes which had lost their brightness as she now looked at them questioningly.

They shook their heads and she sighed; shortly hesitating before she opened the door and entered her sleeping chambers. Her gaze went instantly to the bed where she saw her lying, as she had lain for five days now.

Kahlan felt her heart constricting, as it did every time when she came in, hoping to find her awake and feeling crestfallen every time anew.

Nicci had said she needed time; her body as well as her soul needed time to recover from the damages. That no one could say how long she needed, or if she would wake up at all. No one had ever heard of a Mord Sith surviving confession.

Kahlan vehemently refused to accept the possibility that she wouldn´t wake up. But there were moments when her heart seemed to fall, when despair threatened to bring her down, as it did now.

She had been unconscious herself for nearly two days. Berdine and Raina had watched over their sleep, not allowing anyone to get in, except the sorceress and Jona, whom they treated with respect and prudence. Richard, who had been revived by Raina after Jona had stopped him, and who had strolled sheepishly around the Mother Confessor´s chambers like an abandoned dog; he had asked a few times to see them but had been resolutely rejected. Mistress Sanderholt, who had insisted that she had to care for them and had brought fresh meals and mugs of water, had been allowed to enter once a day; her deep sighing when she found the food untouched had already become a habit.

When Kahlan´s eyes had finally fluttered open she had found herself in her bed, her arms wrapped around the blonde they had lain down beside her. They had been cleaned up and someone had tended to their wounds, and Kahlan assumed it had been Berdine or Raina, because they weren´t wrapped into the long, prim nightshifts Mistress Sanderholt would have used, but into short, fresh-smelling and comfortable chemises.

Kahlan had spent hours stroking the blonde´s face and arms, tracing her features tenderly, whispering into her ear, telling her all the silly little things love let come to her mind. She had been sure that Cara would open her eyes at any moment and had smiled in anticipation until the corner of her lips had started aching.

As did her side. Nicci had tended to her wound, doing her best to close it without traces, but she wasn´t a healer; and Zedd was missing.

So, when it became obvious that Cara wouldn´t just wake up, she had finally left their warm and safe nest and had dressed to take care of her duties.

Aydindril had survived. Kahlan stood on the walls, Captain Meiffert at her side, and looked at the piles of corpses that were prepared for the funeral just outside the walls. The beast had mainly ravaged about Rahl´s troops, but also a many brave people from the resistance and soldiers from her own troop had lost their lives. Though, thankfully Zedd and Verna had found a way to stop it apparently, to end its existence. She clenched her jaw, looking to the Keep that loomed in a distance, the tower nothing but a frayed ruin, still smoldering slightly into the clear blue of the skies, and she felt the dampness on her cheeks as tears had quilled. Tears of grieve for all their losses, and tears of anxiety, for they didn´t know yet if eventually finding Zedd and Verna were among the dead…

When they finally found them on the river banks close to the Keep, she ran towards him. Weeping like a child she clung to him, letting all her emotions quill until there had been no more tears to shed.

Zedd and Verna had jumped into the water just in time before the Keep´s tower exploded, destroying the magic boundary and Connor. Their hands were burned seriously, but Nicci had helped them, if a little clumsily, though the wizard had grumbled he rather lived with stumps than regaining his hands by the Han of a Sister of the Dark.

Walking among her people during the following days Kahlan saw many eyes filled with sorrow and grief, their tears matching her own, but all the same she felt their pride, the strong feelings of confidence and relief. She smiled at them and thanked them for their strength, for their bravery. Hands reached out to touch her, which felt odd, but comforting all the same. They shout out "Hail to the Mother Confessor" and she barely suppressed her own grief as she smiled and waved her hand.

And she felt her heart swelling with pride and love, when people asked how Cara was, when she saw sincere concern in their eyes. Concern for her Mord Sith´ well being.

Benjamin, who followed her every step, watching carefully that the Mother Confessor wouldn´t overexert, did not try to hide the shimmer of deep affection in his eyes when he told her of Cara´s time in the Palace; when he described with some pride and awe how Cara had managed to convince them all and had led them...He showed her to the secret chambers were their conspiracy had been raised. She watched him almost swooning over Cara with beaming eyes, and raised her brow, slightly amused; until she lifted her hand to calm him.

"Captain Meiffert."

"Mother Confessor?"

"Benjamin, - I may call you Benjamin?" Taken by surprise, he nodded, slightly confused.

"The last weeks have been a tight and awkward time for all of us. And I am glad to say you have proved your loyalty in the most honorable way; I want to thank you. You´ve become a close friend to me and... my mate. And, knowing I can trust you with my life, I hereby name you Major General of my troops, which includes the home guards, Aydindril´s troop and all troops of the Midlands."

"Mother Confessor! I´m... I´m honored..."

"I assume that, as the second leader of the troops, you will ask for a vacation in order to arrange your personal affairs. I have heard some rumors about a very pretty girl in town, who likes to ogle you... Which I think is absolutely comprehensible. You are a handsome man, Benjamin. And I´ve been told that you have wedding plans...

So, if you consider to take a break, and maybe, make that girl a very happy Mrs Meiffert, I suggest you take this break now... before you might get lost in an impossible fantasy..." While she smiled, her brow climbed up expectantly.

He looked confused, but when he got her words, his cheeks became a deep crimson.

"Mother Confessor! ...I... I swear... I would never... be assured I..." He stumbled over his words.

Kahlan smiled brightly.

"I didn´t expect it otherwise. Though, thank you Benjamin!

Cara, as soon as she has recovered, will of course be your general. Her orders will be your laws;"

She smiled leniently. "And believe me, she´s not an easy chief..." And she saw the mischievous spark of a knowing grin washing over his features as he nodded.

The Mother Confessor felt content that they had found a dear friend in her new Major. They continued their walk in harmonious silence.

Though, after seeing to it that life in Aydindril found back to some sort of normality, every afternoon she returned to her chambers in hopeful anticipation; only to find Cara still lying as motionless, as she had left her.

Kahlan sighed. Today had been the obsequies for her sister. Her grief had weighed her down, but there had been that strange peace settling in her mind as she had set flames to the funeral pile. Images of Dennee had danced through her mind, putting a faint smile on her lips; her little sister, her smiles, her laughter. Zedd had lain his arm around her but she had brushed it away, stepping close and taking her cold stiff hand in her own; knowing that it had been Dennee herself who had decided to go, that her death meant her freedom;

That she had gone in peace and had found her place now somewhere in the light, where no harm would come to her…

"Good bye little sister... I love you."

And she had watched as the flames had claimed her body, wrapping her sister in their warm glow, lifting her spirit on their heated wings, breathing it into the light winds, setting her free…

Now she felt empty and abandoned. She didn´t bother to strip from her white dress, longing for the warmth of Cara´s body, for the solace she would find in her scent. She crawled to the blonde´s side, studying her face again with gentle intensity. Soft, blue shining eyes didn´t miss a single spot as they traced her features tenderly; Kahlan tried to get through to her by her will only. Her lips brushed short, featherlike kisses to the tanned skin that felt warm and soft, and yet so very distant. The tips of her fingers draw sweet and tender lines on her cheeks. She let her thumb wipe carefully over brows she so loved to see rising mockingly. If only Cara would roll her eyes once more...

Finally she pressed her lips onto Cara´s, lingering there for a few heartbeats, still hoping for a reaction, and then bedded her head on the blonde´s chest, listening to the low steady beating of her heart, tracing the delicate line of her collarbone.

"Can you please wake up, Cara? "

Not expecting an answer she shut her eyes close, smiling sadly as she dreamed of the ghost of Cara´s hand, nuzzling faintly through her hair, softly caressing her scalp as she had always loved to do.

"I so miss you, love."

It felt as if a sigh rolled through her chest.

"Why…I am here." A raw whisper, stroking her ears with a faint breath that made her feel dizzy for just a heartbeat; before, her eyes wide with disbelief, she lifted her head and found Cara´s gaze had settled on her.

Kahlan stared, not sure if she was dreaming or if the blonde had really opened her eyes and looked at her, fully awake and beaming; the jade green of her gaze sparkling with appreciation, her lips twitching until a bright smile broke out and Cara laughed lowly, almost shyly.

"I´m here, … I´m right here..."

It were the first words she spoke, and for a long time it were the last. Because Kahlan claimed her lips, her mouth, her every breath; stunned to feel her heart beating vividly and strong; overwhelmed with joy and so very relieved.

Tears streamed the brunette´s face; she had no words as she was sobbing like a child, cradling Cara´s cheeks, breathing kisses to her eyes, her nose, her cheeks, laughing and whispering her love between her sobs, and, finally, finding her own mouth claimed by Cara´s tongue, which was strong and demanding and didn´t seem to get enough from the sweet taste of passion...

:::::::

Some candle marks later, when Nicci and Jona knocked at the door for her daily visit, the sorceress found them deep asleep, wrapped into the arms of the other, tender smiles lying on their lips, hands unconsciously stroking the other´s back;

As if Cara sensed the Sorceress standing beside her, her eyes snapped open. Her glare met Nicci´s amused glance in a short challenge, before it shifted to the girl at Nicci´s side and her lips twitched slightly.

The Mord Sith looked back at the sorceress, frowning threateningly, and narrowed her eyes.

"She´s a good girl. If you´ll ever hurt her. I´ll come for you!"

Nicci raised her brow, shifting her gaze to Kahlan, and then back to Cara, smirking.

"Funny. I just wanted to say the same to you..."

And, still smirking, she bowed shortly and turned to leave. Jona blinked at Cara, and then rushed to follow.

The blonde Mord Sith barely suppressed a grin as she leaned back, pulling Kahlan closer, and started nuzzling her hair in tender little motions.

Half asleep Kahlan cuddled up to her and moaned...

"Mhh, ... this... Cara. I ... so good."

Cara smirked. And then choked her breath as Kahlan´s eyes snapped open and bright blue diamonds took her own glance hostage...

"Cara?"

"Mhh?"

"... Marry me!"

...

The End

:::::::::::::::

...

Well, that´s it. I really can´t believe I finished this story. I´ve lived with it for over a year, I went to sleep with our ladies and they hunted my dreams, I loved and laughed and wept and fought with them.
I will miss them!
But, I am really proud, that it´s done. And it wouldn´t have been, if not for all of you! Your supports and motivation. Thank you! All of you! For joining the journey!
And, of course, many many many thanks to all of you, who gave me so very kind words on the way; All I can say is, that your comments made my days after posting! I would have lost confidence, if there hadn´t been so very awesome reviews! Thank you!
AND! All my love to you, Jo!
jolo_65 , you´re not only the world´s most famous beta, you supported me from the very beginning! Thank you! So much! For all your patience and the enourmous amount of encouragement you´ve sent! *winks*

Well, and, last not least, thank you, seven_3_oh! Because your writing is always an inspiration; I think, everything I´ve learned about writing on the way, about taking time to build up, about feeding your plot bunnies, about many a things..., I´ve learned from reading your awesome works. Thank you! I mean it! *bows*