Cara Masen was a guarded person, understandably. She rarely talked about herself - she deflected questions about her past with sarcastic comments or tiny tidbits of the truth that made people so uncomfortable they wouldn't ask again. It usually worked.

But when she had begun traveling with the Seeker, Kahlan, and Zedd, that had mostly changed. She still liked to keep to herself on the subject of her past and any kind of emotion she was feeling. The Seeker respected that, as did the old wizard.

But not Kahlan.

The Mother Confessor was a damaged woman in her own right. Maybe that was why she took such an interest in Cara's emotional well-being. It wasn't appreciated, though. It was slightly annoying, actually. Cara was a Mord-Sith. She could handle anything. She didn't need to talk about it.

And Kahlan Amnell had no idea what it meant to be damaged.

This was the general mindset of one very put-off Mord-Sith as she and her party traveled through the heart of a thick wood in the southern part of the Midlands. They were moving at a strong pace on an eastern path, towards D'Hara, bearing slightly north. The compass was leading them towards the People's Palace, of all places. Perhaps it was a coincidence, and they would reach the Stone of Tears before Cara had to go near a place she had been shunned from. The place where her sisters would be. The sisters who had betrayed her. Cara felt a nagging itch in the pit of her stomach. She was probably just jumping to conclusions.

But if she saw them again, she would have to try and kill them. And that would be just downright unpleasant for everyone involved.


Kahlan, damn her. She had noticed Cara's thoughtful expression, apparently. "Mother Confessor." Cara didn't make eye contact. She still felt uncomfortable sometimes, being in the presence of a Confessor. Someone she had been trained to hate. Someone who had spared her life and saved it on multiple occasions.

"If you're hungry, Richard should be back any minute now." Cara could practically hear her smiling. "And if he isn't, then Zedd is threatening to seek him out and drag him back by the ear."

Cara smirked at the image in her mind. "Wouldn't that be a sight. The heir to the D'Haran throne and the Seeker of Truth reduced to a pouting adolescent by his cantankerous bottomless pit of a grandfather."

"Watch who you're calling cantankerous and bottomless pit when you yourself don't speak until you've had breakfast, child." Zedd called from across the camp. "Bags and toasted toads, where in the name of the Creator has that boy gotten off to with supper...?" Zedd stood, adjusting his robes, and set off heavily into the woods, presumably to find out just where in the name of the Creator Richard had gotten off to with supper.

Kahlan was still smiling. Cara was still not making eye contact. Kahlan sat down beside her and got that expression on her face. That searching, probing, analyzing expression in those ocean-blue eyes. "How are you holding up?"

"Holding up from what." Cara said flatly, though she knew exactly what Kahlan was getting at.

"You know from what. Leo's barely been dead three weeks."

"We weren't even friends. He was impossible to deal with. We were no more than you and he were, or he and Zedd. Less, even."

"We both know that isn't true, Cara."

"I thought you couldn't read a Mord-Sith, Mother Confessor."

"Not as a Confessor, no. But as a woman, I can see that you're hurting."

Cara finally turned her head to meet Kahlan's eyes, lowering her brow into a half-glare, half-smirk. "Your womanly instincts need honing, then, because I'm not in any pain, Mother Confessor. My only issues right now are, in a nutshell, the possibility that very soon the Keeper will break out of his prison and enslave the world of the living, and when people constantly harass me about feelings I don't have. I can't do much about the first except what I'm already doing, but you can fix the second for me by keeping your opinions about my so-called pain to yourself."

Kahlan pulled back, her brows knitting together in the middle of her smooth forehead, but otherwise showing no sign that Cara had surprised or irritated her. Cara didn't really care if she had.

"That's... that's okay with me, Cara." Kahlan stood. "But if you ever need to talk-"

"I won't."

Kahlan smiled a warm, strangely amused smile. What did she find so funny? She was infuriating. "If you do, I'm always here. Just come and find me." And she turned to walk away.

Cara scowled. What she had said was true. Her dalliance with Leo had been... relaxing. The physical aspect, that is. But he awakened no deep-seated emotion inside her; her grief had been short-lived. And still she felt... off. Something was nagging at her. She supposed she was changing. But she didn't want to change - she liked who she was. Or did she?

Cara found herself admiring Kahlan's hair as the Confessor crouched beside the river they were camped beside. It was a very pretty dark-brown, black in some lights, thick and wavy. Untamed, a bit unlike the rest of the reserved Confessor. It was nice.

What, I'm admiring hair now? Cara thought with disgust. Next I'll be hoping to die in bed, old and toothless.

She was a Mord-Sith. She was happy to be a Mord-Sith. So what was wrong with her?