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Hydrogen Peroxide for Blood or Wear Red Leather

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There's too many damn candles. Enough to char the whole room and maybe take a few others with it. But then again Cara supposes it's better than tripping around in the dark. Whoever tends to the chambers clearly wanted to get a head start on their evening since it's only now gone full dark outside. Cara glances around the large room. There aren't any lavish decorations but the bed is huge and looks to be covered in silk sheets. The fireplace is also lit and four large logs sit in the hearth; the stacked wood is just starting to fully ignite from the bottom to the top with faint pops and crackles as the flames spread. The room smells of cedar which is due to the chosen fuel heating the room.

The empty room is no accident or hardly even a glorious coincidence. Cara timed her entrance perfectly to make sure she would be alone with no surprises but her own entity of course. This place's high elevation caused her ears to pop a few times while her lungs are working slightly harder to get used to the thinner air. Certain things now make sense to Cara now that she's been here for two days. For instance, training at this elevation would increase anyone's lung capacity and endurance. But being born here comes with that added edge from the start. And a person needs as many advantages in life as possible from the start lest they fall behind before getting started.

Cara hears the change of guard beyond the door and the sound causes a faint smile to quirk up one side of her mouth. Slow and lazy fools, so eager to help even when they're unaware. Cara moves to one of the dark corners in the room just off from the entry door. The change of guards follows just ahead of the person who occupies this room. Cara's jaw is just sore enough now that it's barely noticeable. She knows there's some yellowing bruising that is just beginning on her face but otherwise Cara has made her appearance pristine, memorable and intimidating. There is a standard to maintain even for a former expelled and disgraced Mord'Sith.

Cara shed her neck piece and corset when she joined Richard on his quest and she wasn't about to go back to either one but at the same time Cara decided a modification on fit and function was in order. Cara also wanted a new visual she to instill in people. Years ago, when the time came for new leathers Cara chose two options and both are far easier in all ways compared to the old ones that she wore out in regards to putting them on and taking them off. Cara's new red and black leather is for when she's working especially if it's at night. But when Cara's not working she wears her other leathers that are mostly for show since getting blood off them would be a Creator-forsaken chore.

The non-red ones she's wearing now being her version of white leathers that have some red and black accents on the sides that run down the entire length of her leg. Back when Cara was a pure Mord'Sith not once had she ever wore her ceremonial white leathers but she does now in a sense. Cara can't help but smile at where she's standing and at no other time has her daytime leather felt more appropriate given the setting. Cara leans back against the wall. And while she had to sneak into this place like a thief she still will leave it with her head held high. Cara closes her eyes and listens intently to another set of footsteps drawing closer.

The large door swings open and Cara's target walks in. Cara opens her eyes and she slowly appraises Kahlan's white clad frame from her hidden vantage point. This first close glance, after so many years, Kahlan is practically unchanged by time. She is still tall, lithe, dark, beautiful and deadly which are all qualities Cara admired even when she didn't wish to. Cara has never not approved of the other woman save for the times when she was subjected to witnessing the Mother Confessor of the Midlands mooning over Richard. Even when the circumstances were dire it never truly got in the way of their barely contained raging hormone-driven but startlingly borderline chaste romance.

But then there was the time Kahlan was torn into two beings and she predictably didn't hesitate to spread her legs for the Seeker. Richard was just as bad too; all too eager to take what he felt he was desperately entitled to. But Lord Rahl and Seeker or not Cara saw nothing that was worth all the blushing, hand-holding, weeping, drawn out kissing goodbyes. The generally at every opportunity sappy display between them was enough to cause regurgitation even on an empty stomach. If Cara was in the mood to she could easily imagine that the two of them have managed to find a level beyond worse by now. Cara represses a shudder at the mere thought.

Cara silently takes a step out of the shadows but only so far that her face is the only part of her that will be visible, "You requested my presence, Confessor?"

Kahlan whirs around with her daggers in hand and for moment there is a pause. Recognition. Cara's heart beats a little harder at the thrill of Kahlan primed for attack. It never failed to be an inspiring sight for Cara; Kahlan like this, unless Richard was in the way. Kahlan smiles faintly and then makes an obvious show of slowly putting her daggers away in Cara's opinion. Cara is somewhat amused as Kahlan appears to be too but then again Kahlan's merriment has always been an easy read just like her rare anger. The other woman is all smiles unless you piss her off or Kahlan's busy being the Mother Confessor.

Kahlan reaches up and brushes some of her long dark hair off over her shoulder, "How did you get in my private chambers?"

Cara feels that Kahlan should've saw this move coming a mile away given the circumstances. But it would seem that apparently the Confessor has become blind to everything not centered around Richard and whatever brood they've created with their perfect love. Cara on the other hand calls the act fucking while less blunt types that use flowery language might refer to it as breeding. Cara isn't a breeder but it was forced upon her one time but only as a byproduct of becoming Darken's favorite Mord'Sith.

"Cleverly and quietly." Cara isn't going to elaborate that the only true patience she possesses only kicks in when she's looking for a weakness to use to her advantage. "Your Home Guard needs far more training." Cara moves further into the middle of the room, into better light and towards Kahlan. "You'd be dead already if I were an actual threat."

"And you're not?" Kahlan's eyes quickly flick over Cara's form with barely concealed interest. Perhaps some surprise too. No doubt taking in the sight of the white leathers which pleases Cara. "A threat, I mean?"

Cara has never minded when Kahlan's gaze wandered over her body as it so often did back when they were running all over the Midlands and apparently that inclination of Kahlan's hasn't changed since then. That sort of behavior isn't something Cara has a problem with whether it's the kind of looks that begs for a fight or a fuck. Though Cara enjoys it far more when it's from a person who is worthy, either way, should she decide to return their attentions. Admittedly, Cara never forgoed an opportunity to drink in the sight of Kahlan either be it in battle or not back when they were traveling together.

"Well, I don't know, Confessor. I might be." Cara's lips quirk up in a smirk as she moves to stand in front of Kahlan. "You see I was minding my own business, about five days journey from here at my speed. Perhaps seven for others. And then it was with some amusement, that I waited while three louts tried to get the jump on me at the worst inn, I didn't get to sleep in, but I did pay for."

A brief smile pulls at the sides of Kahlan's lips, "Oh, and what prompted such audacity in them that they would try to take on such a legendary Mord'Sith?"

Those types of words Cara could easily be taken as a slight where they spoken by another but this is Kahlan and she has a gleam of mischief in her bright blue eyes. Years have passed between them but nothing about this is truly uncomfortable or unfamiliar. But then things have changed at any rate, Cara is older, unfortunately, and has lived many years outside of the strictures she was freshly cast out of all those years ago. Richard kept wanting Cara to learn how to be a person again, and well, this is as good as it's ever going to get for her. And Cara's fine with that and actually doesn't really care if anyone else is.

"I said they tried." Cara grins and reaches up to lightly run a gloved finger along her bottom lip. Cara is pleased to see Kahlan's eyes follow the deliberate gesture. "And while I'll always be a Mord'Sith I'm also not one anymore. I haven't been in some time."

Kahlan's eyes dart away for a moment as she lowly clears her throat, "And that unfortunate business at the inn you mentioned automatically made you decide to come here?"

Cara grins again; she is trying to decide if she likes the game of denial Kahlan is playing rather poorly, "I would think that you should know that the three louts were going to hand me off to what was obviously two members of your Home Guard, Confessor."

Cara is impressed that Kahlan essentially sent five men to attempt to subdue her and drag her to Aydindril. But what for is the only question that matters; it was the question that brought Cara here instead of riding in the other direction. Cara hasn't decided whether the answer is important enough though since it's clearly not a matter of life and death. Kahlan has always been more than capable of taking care of herself provided Richard isn't distracting her with his needy puppy-like antics that is.

"Well then, my ruse aside I trust you didn't kill them all even if they were being a nuisance to you?"

Cara can't help the small smile that pulls at her lips at the faint but unmistakably teasing quality to Kahlan's voice, "It was tempting, but no, they are all merely maimed. Nothing fatal. Just more or less bruised black and blue. A broken nose too, come to think of it. But I'm sure it will not hurt anymore than it will help the rotund one's appearance."

Kahlan chuckles and like always she's easily amused which has been somewhat baffling to Cara in a sense. Cara rarely if ever tries to amuse anyone but herself. To her knowledge she has never actually tried to make someone laugh. That and laughing at her the completely out of the question unless the fool has a longing to feel the sting of her Agiels.

"I see." Kahlan smiles and for a moment Cara feels the urge to respond in kind but she suppresses it. "And I suppose those two members of my Home Guard fared no better than the three men that accepted the bounty?"

Cara fondly recalls the sight of all of Kahlan's accomplices that Cara easily dispatched and then the trees that she left them all bound to. Both of the Home Guard gagged as well as the three louts. Cara considered stripping them all naked for the wildlife to enjoy but in the end chose not to since she didn't care to see that much of any of them. And in a fit of charity, despite her annoyance with them, Cara tied the knots in such a way that they would loosen, in place of tightening like she normally would, the more they struggled. With enough time they all should be able to free themselves and if not someone will come along eventually. Or not.

"The two members of your Home Guard are still breathing as well." Cara places her hand on her hip. Breaking the habit of touching her Agiels to maintain clarity was a tough one to rid herself of but she succeeded. "As I said they need more training and if I haven't given them enough incentive for improvement then nothing will."

A small smile plays at the corners of Kahlan's lips again, "That's good to know. And I suppose they'll find their way back here at some point?"

Cara was in no real rush to covertly stride into Aydindril but to know that those morons are taking even longer? Cara in no way incapacitated them to a degree of sustained blood loss or amputation. The three louts would have no trouble finding their way back to whatever hole they crawled out of. But perhaps the two members of the Home Guard have deserted or found accommodations in some young woman's (or man's) bed to be nursed back to health. Then again Cara doesn't care where any of them are at the moment. Kahlan certainly doesn't seem mad about it, any of it really.

Cara steps around Kahlan and then heads for the two chairs in front of the large fireplace, "You mean they haven't returned to their duty?"

"I'm not at liberty to say, Mistress Cara."

Cara stops and slowly turns around on her heel. No one has called her that in years and definitely nowhere close to that playfully when she was addressed in that manner. For that matter Cara hasn't insisted that anyone call her by her old appellation since her time as a proper Mord'Sith. Cara narrows her eyes at Kahlan but says nothing. Kahlan is obviously enjoying something that has yet not revealed itself to Cara.

Cara moves to sit down in one the chairs, "Aren't you going to offer me something to drink, Confessor?"

Cara pivots in the chair marginally to get comfortable which is no easy feat considering her Agiels and the curved dagger she wears hidden against her back that her short leather jacket with its long tails covers in this version of her leathers. Cara rests her eyes for a moment and listens to the sounds of the crackling fire and Kahlan's steps mingling the movement of her dress swishing along with her cadence as they advance in Cara's direction.

"This isn't Ambrosio's, Cara. And I'm not a barmaid last I checked." Kahlan's voice is lower and at the same time there's that same hint of amusement in her tone. "But I can call for something though I usually don't imbibe at this time of the evening."

Cara opens her eyes and lets them rake down Kahlan's pleasantly looming visage. The white dress isn't exactly the same one that Kahlan wore all those years ago but it nonetheless accentuates Kahlan's assets in a way only her traveling leather dress did. If only Kahlan's white dress had those splits in the front; showing teasing flashes of her thighs. But that is not proper attire for the Mother Confessor in Aydindril. As far as useless dresses go Cara really didn't mind that leather dress of Kahlan's.

"It's still early and you are," Cara hesitates and then rolls her eyes. "You are far too jovial for my tastes."

Kahlan laughs while sitting down in the chair opposite to Cara, "Where you expecting me to be angry with you? Honestly, I haven't seen you in years and I'm happy to see you. Is that so hard to believe?"

Cara feels her eyebrows arch up at the notion. This sanctioned visit is proving to be rather interesting regardless of Kahlan's intentions. But it may rapidly lose its appeal when Richard makes his presence known. Cara isn't about to ask after him nor open up a conversation about him anytime soon. Cara intends to ignore the subject entirely until it is unavoidable and hopefully by then Cara will be making her tactful exit.

"Maybe." Cara leans forward in her seat and rests her elbows on her knees. "But then you're the sentimental type and it has been a stretch of time after all."

Kahlan laughs lightly, again and shakes her head. A shred of the intrigue that brought Cara here slides off. Kahlan is too pleased for Cara's liking. It's starting to feel like there's another conversation going on that Cara isn't privy to. Regardless, Cara didn't only just plan her skillful entrance but also her exit too based on the many possible outcomes that could arise. Kahlan did after all put a price on her head and for the sake of what exactly? Or did the Lord Rahl and his wife finally decide to punish Cara for insubordination? Cara leans back in her seat as Kahlan calls for a servant to bring some wine in the name of hospitality. Cara doesn't believe that Kahlan has it in her to drug or poison her that way.

 


 

Cara is voluntarily riding in the back of a shoddy wagon that is rocking back and forth while harshly bouncing and creaking over every rut in the road. The cleaner bald fat one, that has a broken nose (thanks to Cara) is at the reigns. The dirty fat one, who probably pulls himself off at every meal, has a rapidly swelling black eye and is riding in the back with Cara all tied up and gagged. The skinny one that took one of Cara's boots to the crotch; his high-pitched howl was deeply satisfying as was watching him instantly drop to the floor while holding himself, is on a horse ahead of the wagon with a torch lighting the way in the dark.

The inside of the wagon, that has seen better days and nights, is lit but only sparsely out of necessity. Both of the half gone candles that are mounted on the walls in their holders are casting just enough light so it doesn't quite feel like being in a confined but moving dungeon. Shapes dance and flicker on the walls with every movement of the wagon; the melted wax shifting in the candles try to smother out the burning wick before spilling out over the sides to run down in long white lines that every so often drip onto the floor. The waxen puddles barely spread before they quickly harden to resemble small white coins.

Cara smirks and pushes her tongue into the sore side of her cheek. The pain is sharp but not metallic in taste and nothing more than an itch. It was the bald fat one, with the freshly broken nose, that managed to get one good hit and things went blurry. But Cara easily fought back without using more lethal means. The dirty fatter one, with his gut hanging over the top of his low trousers, took the opportunity to hit her right in the kidney. The pain was immediate and fierce, just like old times, and if he'd managed another hit in the same place then Cara wouldn't have hesitated to press one of her Agiels in his crotch to render him sterile.

It's a wonder that all the jostling left, right, up and down movement of the wagon that hasn't woken up the disgusting fat one that Cara knocked unconscious. Cara brings a gloved hand up to her face to press against the side of her jaw; it will be sore enough for a day or so for her notice. Cara simply juts her jaw forward and it cracks loudly in her ears. Cara's had much worse in her lifetime but she's not hung from chains in a decade and she's reluctantly gotten older since that last time. Cara smirks again, she still owes all three of the louts something extra for all the trouble once she finds out who issued the bounty that encouraged them to try and collect her.

Cara didn't have to buy their compliance. But Cara did and without hesitation put the fear into them so they wouldn't ruin the plan she's making up as she goes. The three louts were already paid to deliver her, so Cara's making certain that they're just keeping up their contract if only with one exception. The exception being that they're more or less just giving her a ride instead of being paid to toe the line with how rough they could get with her, whilst detaining her of course, but without killing her. The three morons did confirm it was a live bounty; Cara is of course no use to anyone dead.

However, for a breath or two in that dark hallway at the inn Cara thought that the three imbeciles trying to creep up on her had chosen her for some forced fun. At one time she would've instantly arrived at the conclusion that their ire was due to what her Mord'Sith leathers symbolized long before Cara ever wore them. But that chapter of Cara's history is over. Cara stopped wearing those old red leathers some time ago. It's been nine springs, summers, autumns and nearly now winters come and gone since Cara traveled with The Seeker. It's been the same amount of time since she parted ways with his company too.

Cara knew she should've picked another inn but her coin purse was slim and that place was the best she could do. Cara has no idea what all of this is about because all the oafs knew was they were paid half to detain her and then the other half would be paid upon delivery at a meeting place that same night. The hard ride back in the wagon has made it a tedious challenge to focus on what comes next. Cara thinks that the bald fat one that's driving has enough spine left to test her ire since he seems determined to hit every hole the road has to offer. It also seems like for extra fun fat fuck is swerving off the road to get those washed-out channels from the rain too.

Cara closes her eyes and listens to the irregular rhythm of the horse's hooves striking the ground with muted thuds. The wagon bounces harshly and Cara swiftly uses both hands to brace herself on the worn and splintered flooring. Cara's gloves have never failed to prove themselves as indispensable. The wagon seems to level out and then there's one and then two loud, bawdy laughs from up front. Cara rolls her eyes behind her closed eyelids. This is but one small reason she's never had a problem with hurting certain types of people. Cara won't give those two morons a chance to welch on the deal they made with her to keep their lives.

 


 

The waxing moon is casting just enough light through the trees for Cara to smile at the carnage of her handiwork. She easily managed to get the skinny rider too and without his torch even getting extinguished. Cara contemplates her next move. The horse pulling the wagon ran off when the yoke tore but Cara's not about to run around in the woods looking for the stupid, but useful, yet dangerous on both ends beast. Cara moves away from the wagon with the torch in hand to see if the idiots are reveling yet in the comfort level they deserve. The three louts should still be blissfully silent for a few hours so Cara won't be around to hear their complaints of they're not.

The wagon is far enough off the road that no one will see it, even in full daylight, unless they go off in search of a place to more often than not to fuck or pleasure themselves when the mood hits and the itch must be scratched. Cara knows this to be a universal truth and also first-hand experience from her travels before, during and after meeting the Seeker. Now that enough time has passed Cara can safely say that the time when she hit Richard in the head with a rock was the highlight. The rest not so much. Especially not the degradation of wearing that pink dress or letting the lack of oxygen in that tomb cause her tongue to loosen.

Cara huffs out a tired sigh. The only reason she was distracted this night that allowed for even a half-assed attack was because she'd attracted the interest of a younger woman who turned out to be quite green in regards to matters of the flesh but nonetheless eager and with stamina to please. But then a thought occurs to Cara that perhaps the woman was paid to use her charms to disarm Cara enough to be taken? People can be bought for the right price of they're desperate enough. Cara resolves right then that in the future she'll stick to brothels and paying for it even though she'd rather not given what happened that one time.

Cara jumps down from the wagon and winces a little. Her knee is protesting from the little wrong twist it endured; when it happened Cara doesn't know since her blood was running too high at the time for her to notice. Cara purses her lips but before she can decide her next course of action she hears the unmistakable sound of heavy hoof beats coming from the direction the louts were taking her. Cara rolls her eyes and turns the burning end of the torch towards the ground and presses it into a large muddy clump of dirt. The flame sizzles out with a few quick turns and Cara lets it slip from her grasp.

Cara walks briskly up the embankment and then across the road, opposite from where she guided the wagon until the dumb animal tore loose and ran, and finds some cover. If Cara weren't stretched thin on energy from a full day and then an evening with a woman she'd be enjoying this more. This is nothing but a taxing annoyance at best right now but whomever is so bent on meeting her acquaintance better have a damn good reason. Even if they don't have a good reason Cara's still going to take her pound of flesh out on them on the basis of sheer stupidity and wasting her time.

A few minutes pass with Cara squatting behind a large thorny bush before the riders come into view. There are two of them and they're carrying torches. Cara grits her teeth upon recognizing the colors of their uniform among other elements of their garb. Cara would know that insignia anywhere. The Home Guard of Aydindril. So the three morons were attempting to hand her over to members of the Home Guard. As far as Cara knows there is no reward or bounty on her head; she's not a criminal. And Cara would know since she occasionally performs such work for the right reason and compensation.

Years ago, Cara had no plans for making a living once she quietly relinquished her duty to the Seeker. The life Cara settled into found her and she adapted. After Richard, Cara had nothing better to do that didn't involve excessive amounts of ale and extended stays in brothels. In fact, if Cara had stayed longer in one of the brothels she'd been frequenting, and paying drunken customer or not, the proprietor might've had just enough spine and hired muscle to insist that Cara start sucking and fucking for her supper. The women Cara wouldn't have minded so much if she were inclined to be whore which she is most definitely not.

So back then, in her recovering from a hangover but sated state Cara slipped out of that particular brothel minus acts of violence if someone so much as touched her. And as if that wasn't enough not long after Cara had to see a healer after another stay at a brothel. The sickness was not pleasant and it was nearly as distracting and inconveniencing as that time Cara was pregnant. There was no worry though about such a thing being the cause. Cara is very selective with how she behaves when she takes her pleasure with a man which has been sporadically. Men are easier than women but they cause more problems than they are worth for the two or at most ten minutes they may or may not provide.

Presently, Cara frowns at the sight of the Home Guard. She has no business with the Queen of Galea, Kelton, Aydindril and the First Chair of the Council of the Midlands. Cara hasn't set a boot in Aydindril since her early days on Richard's very loose leash but a leash nonetheless that Cara was willing to let him have, out of what she sees it as now, as a seriously fucked up sense of duty like her last stint serving a Rahl. True freedom as Cara has come to understand it is having no masters. Even guileless ones who were much better suited for swinging an axe at a tree and not a sword of legend.

Cara's not bitter though since Richard was her first stepping stone to the taste of freedom or rather the illusion of it. There is no real freedom in this life. A former Mord'Sith has to eat the same as everyone else. Everyone is in another's service to some degree. Cara grips the handle of one her Agiels; it's something she used to do to focus her thoughts but now it's a pointless gesture. Muscle memory is what it is though. The night is too still and drawing her Agiels would only give away her position. Cara has always been adept at improvising and being in the wilderness there are always a variety of options just lying around.

Cara glances down at her boots and spots an old favorite option. The one she was just reminiscing on moments ago that she used on Richard. In fact, there's cluster of four at her feet lodged in the moist dirt and grass. Cara hates getting her gloves filthy especially with mud, but she hurriedly wipes around them, looking for the edges, and then pries up three with her fingertips. Cara picks them up one by one and their weight feels just right for throwing. Cara smiles and picks one and then with her throwing hand she takes aim at one of the members of the Home Guard right on the side of his stupid exposed head.

Cara throws and the rock hits it target solidly right on his temple and he kind of sways on his horse for a few moments before falling to the ground torch still in his hand. The other man with an outrageous beard steadies his horse and then with his free hand he draws his sword and shouts: 'Come out, devil! In the name of the Mother Confessor of the Midlands!' Cara is not impressed and the one knocked out cold on the ground nearly gets stepped on by his prancing horse. Cara takes aim with another rock and lets it fly. It hits the long-bearded one in the throat which was Cara's intended target to get him to shut up.

Cara moves out from behind her cover but still uses much of the forest and night to mask her advancing on her prey. The beard on the horse yanks the reigns of his mount around in one hand while in his other hand he keeps the torch held aloft in an attempt not to let Cara get behind him. The sight of his frantic and paltry efforts amuses her. As Cara moves closer the one on the ground starts to stir and that old familiar thrill of battle wakes Cara up in a way she didn't even feel when she tangled with the three louts at the inn. Cara of course gave the innkeeper extra coin for damages but not from Cara's slim coin purse.

The bearded one on the horse coughs and then shouts again. Cara uses her last rock but this time she aims for right between the eyes. The rock hits soundly and he slumps in his saddle too before beginning to slide off the horse. The horse startles though as the torch in the bearded rider's hand gets too close to its side. The bearded idiot goes off the back of the horse instead and lands hard on the ground. His torch sputters but still keeps burning even as it hits the damp ground. Cara steps out onto the road and pulls both of her Agiels which scream-hum a slightly different tune now.

"That was almost too easy to really enjoy." Cara announces just loud enough to be heard by the first one she unhorsed that she's certain is pretending to be unconscious on the ground. Cara waits a moment longer; his left leg faintly twitches. "Are you really just going to lie there?"

There's an angry grunt and then sure enough he gets to his feet. Cara has a nose for these sorts of things. People are predictable. Especially arrogant men who aren't fond of being bested by a woman. Or having their pride thoroughly demolished by a Mord'Sith, even a former one.

"You! You hit me with a fucking rock!" He spits out while drawing the sword at this hip and then actually spits out the dirt he ate when he fell. Cara shrugs while she drags her eyes over this obviously younger member of the Home Guard and the already forming bruise at his temple. This one at least appears to be acquainted with soap and how to not have his face infested with excess hair. "You're to come with me by order of the Mother Confessor!"

Cara smirks, "So I've been told."

The man sneers and then wastes no time in charging at Cara which is a mistake. Cara simply side steps the reach of the sword and swiftly kicks this younger less hairy one in the shin and then quickly sweeps his feet out from underneath him. He hits the ground with a loud breathy grunt. Cara loves knocking the wind out of them; it's like an instant paralysis that gives her at least a minute head start on them knowing they should stay down. Cara moves closer to him and kicks his sword away. He gasps for breath with wide eyes.

Cara squats down next to the failed Home Guard but not too close, "That was stupid as well. But you probably have a concussion which does nothing for someone with already poor fighting technique. You obviously need more practice."

The man's eyes harden and Cara once more looks over his face, at his crooked nose that appears to have been broken before, the dirt that's smeared across one side of his angular face. Cara presses her Agiel into his temple, right on the forming bruise, on the same spot where she hit him with a rock. His grunting scream of pain dies out as rapid as it came. That part never gets old for Cara. Giving up her Agiels were never an option, Mord'Sith or not.

A rasping cough follows after a brief stretch of silence and then, "Bitch!"

Cara rolls her eyes, turns and then quickly rises from her crouched position as the second one with the ridiculous beard comes at her with his sword. Cara steps to the side of his clumsy attack too and then promptly drives both of her Agiels into his unprotected stomach. He drops his sword and doubles over in grand howl of pain. A pack of wolves at the very least might decide to investigate after a magnificent sound like that just when out into the night. Cara wastes no time in pressing her Agiel into his temple too. He is out faster than a snuffed candle again but this time it will be for much longer.

Cara sheathes her Agiels while quietly dreading the task of lugging the two members of the Home Guard off the road and then tying them up with the others. Cara briefly wonders if she overtaxed her knee when she was moving the fat one at the reigns off the wagon. Or any of them really. The only lighter one was the one that rode up front on the horse with the torch. Cara glances around to see that one of the torches the Home Guard had is still halfway burning on one side so she picks it up and turns it; hoping that the flame will spread back around, which it does. Cara then notices one of the Home Guard's horses is just standing by the side of road. Cara smiles, he can do the pulling this time.

With the task completed Cara mounts the large black gelding that the younger Home Guard rode in on. The horse snorts and jerks his head back as she pulls on the reigns. The horse's breath appears and quickly dissipates in the cold night air. Cara turns the horse and rides towards the burning torch she planted in the ground next to the five unconscious men tied to a large tree. Cara was intrigued from the start but knowing who is behind it all has only furthered her interest. But before anything else Cara is going to rest for a day first because if she's going to Aydindril then she'll do it on her own schedule. Kahlan sending five men after her does warrant attention.

Also if Cara's going to Aydindril then she's going to dress for the occasion. It's been a stretch of time since Cara's had a suitable reason to don her version of the old Mord'Sith white leathers. Cara's improved uniform is more off-white with blood red and black accent stripes on the sides, arms, thighs and down the front of her torso. Both versions of her newer leathers go along with her black boots that she wears now. Cara's old red boots have been since retired along with the rest of her old garb years ago. Cara chose freedom on her own terms instead of settling for someone else's idea but there's only so much about herself she could let go of. There is no going back, not if there's nothing to go back to in the first place.

 


 

The pleasantly warm and sweet-smelling fire burning in Kahlan's private chambers is proving to have the capacity to make Cara feel somewhat lethargic if she were less vigilant. Not that Cara feels the need to be on high alert. Kahlan has yet to say what her intention was with offering payment to a few brave souls willing to tangle with a former Mord'Sith. Cara knows that there is no malice in whatever those intentions might possibly be since it's Kahlan. But then again Kahlan is capable of a turning a corner the same as anyone.

"I thought you were dead for a while." Kahlan's quiet voice smoothly dispatches the stillness that Cara has been enjoying for a short span of time. "But then, I heard rumors of a woman in red and black leather...who finds the lost."

Cara rolls her eyes and takes a long drink from the goblet of wine one of Kahlan's devoted disciples brought in complete with a smile, "I have been dead, several times. It didn't take. But one of these days it will, if I'm lucky. I'm hoping for sooner rather than later."

Cara has no reason to fear death or shy away from its inevitable clutches. The Underworld holds no surprises for Cara either. She's been there and done that more than a few times. However, Cara could do without seeing some types of dead people as naked as the day they were born but the rest of it just is. Cara could also do without seeing Darken and anyone of her former sisters that have shuffled off their mortal coil by Cara's own hand or someone else's. Cara could also do without ever being forced into a pink dress again in this life, the next or the hereafter.

Kahlan frowns and the sound of her goblet smacking down on the low table between their chairs is loud against the wood to Cara's highly attuned ears, "I wish you wouldn't say things like that."

"Why? It's the truth." Cara idly looks down at her clean black gloves and then sits her goblet down on the table too. "I have no wish to linger beyond what remains of my useful years." Absently Cara begins tugging the tight-fitting leather loose, one finger at a time before pulling them off both hands. "If I were to become incapacitated I would rather be put out of my misery." Cara tucks her gloves into her belt and then picks her goblet back up and finishes off what remains of the strong, sweet wine before placing the now empty goblet back on the low table. "Why wait when it's better to just skip to the end?"

The Mord'Sith mentality is what it is. But the Mord'Sith as Cara knew them are no more. They do still live on though under the same name but now families volunteer girls for service, for a better life if they cannot provide it. There are no more breakings and the training is just that; learning weapons, tactics. There are still Agiels though, so there is pain, but not through torture. There is no getting around creating a lethal and efficient Agiel. As it turns out sparring with the weapons brings forth adequate amounts of pain. Though Cara imagines the new Mord'Sith's Agiels cannot hope to compete with Cara's in terms of meting out pain and death.

Kahlan sighs, "You might surprise yourself later on with how long you want to live."

Cara strongly doubts that. And while Cara doesn't pay much mind to her appearance beyond keeping her hair a certain length and maintaining her fitness she found a gray hair once. Which wasn't anything to fuss over since her hair is already light but the thought of excessive wrinkles and difficulty in basic movements isn't appealing in the slightest. Cara has surmised that a person would have to be insane to strive to live that long. Cara thought she would be long dead by now. She has absolutely no interest in growing old, frail and toothless. There's nothing about it that's worthy to strive for. It's a pathetic and miserable existence. Real torture.

Cara shakes her head and slouches down in her seat and glares at the fireplace, "I would suggest that you don't hold your breath waiting for me to change my mind." Cara imagines Kahlan is giving her a disapproving glare. "And to be blunt I'm nearly sick to death of talking about the subject. But I am curious as to what made you think that I was dead before the rumors set your mind at ease?"

The question is redundant. Cara has already assumed what lead Kahlan, Zedd and Richard to such a conclusion. If Kahlan confirms Cara's suspicions, then that further proves Cara was right again and this time on many levels. The most pertinent being that she was justified in the choice she made after relinquishing her duties to the Seeker, the new Lord Rahl.

"Richard tried to use his bond to call you back." Kahlan's voice is too timid in Cara's mind for such an obvious revelation. Cara has not forgotten how Richard used the bond at her farce of a trial. Cara channels a mixture of anger and satisfaction of being correct inwards. "But you didn't respond. Zedd believed it was one of two things; you either were past the boundaries or not...living. I prayed the former was so which is what eased my mind."

Cara grips the armrests of her chair tightly and the wood faintly creaks under the touch, "Praying for the wicked seems counterproductive, Confessor."

"Alright then, why did you leave us?" Kahlan sighs heavily and at the sound Cara relaxes her fierce grip on the armrests. "Richard had trouble understanding what he'd done to cause his most loyal friend to abandon him?"

Cara purses her lips and stares into the flames burning the wood black and how they are constantly wrapping themselves along the logs, like a vibrant snake trying to twist and squeeze the life out of its prey. Kahlan's question is fair but surely this can't be why she creatively summoned Cara to Aydindril after all these years? Back when Cara first met Kahlan she wouldn't have answered such a question but that was then and this is now. Cara is inclined to be accommodating considering she has a question of her own.

"I left because I could. I fulfilled my duty and it was time to move on." Cara forces herself to turn her attention to the woman sitting in the chair opposite her at the fireplace. Kahlan really has not changed at all; it's as though age has barely laid so much as a finger on her. "Richard preached endlessly about his ideas in between his own ideals about my need for freedom. To recover what was taken from me." Cara rolls her eyes. "I find it highly arrogant now upon reflection regardless of his good intentions."

Cara is not going to reveal all of her own ideas much less drone on about said idea that there comes a time when a broken soldier tires of duty, orders and the other trappings of a life of forced servitude. Cara could never give up her uniform though and only did when they wore out and something new was necessary. But long before Cara surrendered her old uniform she got rid of her bond to Richard or any Rahl ever again. In other words, Cara made sure no one could ever put a magical leash on her ever again. A leash in which a Rahl would be able remove her free will when the mood suited.

Kahlan shifts in her seat, "I can understand that. You earned your freedom, so you took it. But that doesn't explain why you left us without so much as a word?"

Cara can't keep the passing grin off her face. That is something else she will never explain. Having to explain yourself is tiring anyway. But if Cara were inclined to indulge Kahlan then she would list the basic reasons. One reason being because at a low point it became too tempting for Cara not to press one of her Agiels to her heart and end it all. The main reason though is that Cara wanted to sever herself from the Rahl bond to be free. To be her own person, her own master for once in her life. And after an emancipation like that Cara hardly knew what to do with herself for a while.

"Excuse me if I had no interest in taking part in a tearful or guilt-ridden goodbye, Confessor."

Another thing Cara will not explain to anyone is how her new Agiels are not lethal to her. They can't be since they're powered by her own blood magic. Cara hasn't been a true Mord'Sith in a long time and never will be again. The first plus Cara noted after the transfer was how much more powerful her Agiels are. How much more pain they can inflict on another since they're fueled by the pain that was engraved into her soul. Cara's ability to deflect magic changed too; so now not only can she deflect but she can harness another's power thrown at her and intensify it. Cara idly wonders how her new abilities would stand up to the power of confession.

Kahlan scoffs and then jerks up from her seat to pace in front of the fireplace. Making Kahlan angry was something Cara did for sport long ago when Kahlan was so eager to grab Cara by the throat and kill her by confession with no remorse. Cara thought she'd deserved such a sentence once but not anymore. Cara has seen even more of the world on her own now and living amongst people who are not Mord'Sith. Cara has learned that the world is an ugly place and good intentions won't change that. Cara has strived to do good though but she's not gone about in a way that Richard would approve of and that pleases her. Cara is not the kitten rescuing type.

"Confessor, there's no use in..."

"Please stop calling me 'Confessor'!" Kahlan interrupts with a huff and stops her pacing to stare down at Cara with those icy blue eyes of her's. "You can't have forgotten my name. And don't you dare roll your eyes at me."

"Fine, Kahlan." It takes Cara quite a bit of effort not to roll her eyes. The situation begs for it not to mention doing out of spite at specifically being ordered to refrain makes it more of a challenge. "Let's cut it to the bone then, why did you resort to putting a soft bounty on my head just to get me here?"

Cara observes Kahlan closely. Maybe too closely but perhaps that cannot be helped. Those blue eyes are as fierce as ever and those long waves of dark hair frame Kahlan's face and at this moment as she appears to be weighing her words carefully. Despite being lured in Cara has at least managed to make Kahlan a good deal less gleeful for the meantime. Cara knows that won't last long though.

Kahlan's lips form a tight smile, "I knew that no matter who answered or who I sent to claim you that they wouldn't succeed since it was a live bounty." Cara feels the urge to roll her eyes again since she would dare say that Kahlan sounds far too proud of her correct assumptions. "But I also knew that you simply couldn't walk away once you found out who was behind it all."

"You know me so well, Kahlan." Cara makes sure that the sarcasm practically drips from her lips. "But you've still not answered my question."

Kahlan's face goes blank for a moment under Cara's scrutiny but then softens, "I missed you."

If Cara were anyone else she could've possibly gotten away with swallowing her own tongue from shock at Kahlan's admission. But as it stands Cara isn't that type any more than she is the kitten rescuing kind. Cara also isn't the type to go equally soft and do something embarrassing as means for reciprocating such a vulnerable display. Cara decides that being blunt is the safest route since she's not in the mood to flirt with Kahlan. It's far too early in the game for that and this is by far the quietest Kahlan has ever been to Cara's knowledge aside from when she's asleep.

Cara purses her lips, "How is that even possible?"

Kahlan's eyes go wide, "What do you mean, how? I thought we were friends." Kahlan pauses and her mouth moves but her words aren't forthcoming. Finally, she shakes her head and then glares at Cara. "And don't you dare say we weren't friends at any time save for that one instance and only then because you were delirious from the lack of air!"

Cara can't keep the smirk off her face, "You have a long memory."

Kahlan scoffs and then moves back towards the chair she was sitting in before, "I've thought of you often. And as I said I thought you were dead until roughly seven years ago." Kahlan gracefully retakes her seat and Cara wonders if she still carries that same grace when fighting. Seeing the fluidity of Kahlan drawing her daggers earlier makes Cara think that the Confessor hasn't let herself go in that regard. "When I first heard the stories, which most swore were merely rumors, I knew better about that too."

Cara leans forward in her seat again and rests her elbows on her knees, the muscles in her back lose some tightness, "So that automatically lead you towards the conclusion that you should gradually work up the nerve to privately put a reward out for my capture to get my attention? Why now?" Cara turns her head to gaze at Kahlan who is predictably smiling. "Be honest, did the other Amnell Confessor put you up to it? Or was it her idea? If so then I approve of her cunning."

Kahlan gapes incredulously, "No! Dennee didn't! I did! All by myself! It seemed direct and I knew you would appreciate such an approach once you figured out what was going on. And seriously, Cara my reason is that you don't visit or write." Kahlan sighs heavily and tucks some of her hair behind her ear. "What else was I supposed to do? We both know you wouldn't have come if I'd just asked."

Cara rolls her eyes. It doesn't matter in the slightest that Kahlan is right on all accounts. Cara certainly won't verbally confirm or deny the facts. At one time Cara took comfort in the fact that Kahlan could never read her but that slowly began to change when they were traveling together without Richard and Zedd. Cara was hard pressed back then to just blithely accept that Kahlan had learned to read her. Now though Cara fears that since she's no longer a Mord'Sith linked to D'Hara by the bond that perhaps Kahlan will be able to see her plainly now as though she were common.

 


 

Roughly Seven Years Ago...

 

The straining grunts just on the other side of the door remind Cara of distinct memories from her past. She's not brainwashed by her training anymore to think of it as an honor to be chosen by that long dead bastard that she was forced to serve and then service once she reached a certain age. From a warrior to a little better than a concubine in a harem, that only wears leather, in the blink of an eye or more accurately on a whim when his member hardened and he wanted a warm body to wear it out on. Darken belongs in a realm far worse than the Underworld.

A high pitched squeal followed by several muffled 'no's' brings Cara out of her unpleasant recollection that are faded but not as forgotten as she would like. This is the part Cara can't stand. Back when she was younger she would've been more detached but not now. Younger? Cara smirks as she feels the reassuring comfort of her Agiels humming at her side; at least some thing's won't change if Cara has any say in the matter. Another low and strangled 'no' filters out of the room. Cara clenches her teeth as another more drawn out and louder 'no' followed by a 'stop' emits from the room.

It's moments like these that Cara misses just kicking the door down and pressing one of her Agiels firmly into such swine before her dismissal from the Mord'Sith. Cara would like nothing better than to thrust one or better yet both of her instruments of pain into his reason for living and hold it there until he's sterile and can no longer get hard ever again. Cara leans completely back against the wall. Her hair is longer now but not like before, but she does keep it tied back simply, while the shorter parts of her hair frame and occasionally hide her face. Cara no longer misses having her hair tightly pulled back off her face.

Cara's still trying to decide if she wants to go through with this even though it only took her less than a day to find them. Being offered money to find a young girl who was taken from her village first smacked of an accusation before the tears came from the afflicted party became an uncomfortable sight. Cara had done her fair share of participating in raids when she was a young Mord'Sith. That was another lifetime ago though that cannot be measured merely in years but in the experiences Cara has been privy to. Cara's life thus far has been a journey from one extreme to another.

Cara turns her head and glances down the short, dark hallway of the inn. Everyone else is locked up in their rooms pretending. Not much has changed since the rift was sealed in Cara's opinion. People see no evil or hear no evil when it comes down to them actually doing anything about it. This time a loud pained wail filters out into the hallway and there is no way that no one else is not hearing the things Cara is. But there is no one else. Cara pushes off from the wall and comes to stand in front of the door to the room. Cara rears back and kicks the door in with her right boot. The lock splinters and the door bangs open.

It's a loud entrance but the man on the bed or rather the lowlife on top of the young woman is too busy to notice. Cara can see his bare and hairy ass in the low candlelight. It's not a pleasant sight in the slightest. Cara clenches her jaw; she shouldn't have let it get this far. Cara stalks over to the bed and grabs the man by his oily, matted hair which thanks to her gloves she'll never have to wipe his stink off her hands and throws him off the girl and the thus the bed. The man lands on the floor with thud and a grunt and as he rolls over his bloodied and pitiful erection is visible.

Cara glances up at the young woman on the bed who is trying to force her dress down to cover herself but its skirt and top are ripped, "Go wash every place he touched you. Including between your legs no matter how much it might hurt at the moment. Do that before anything else." Cara turns her full attention back on the lower life form at her feet. He's where he belongs in his proper niche. "And when you're done getting yourself together wait for me in the stables. I was sent to bring you home but If you run then you're on your own."

Cara looks away from the wide-eyed girl's frantic nods which she can still see out of the corner of her eye. The girl then quickly scrambles off the bed, pulling at her ruined dress, and runs out of the room. Her bare feet smacking on the floors all the way down the hallway growing less pronounced with distance. The man lying on the floor hasn't dared to move and thankfully his visible excitement has deflated considerably. Cara sneers at him with all the disgust she can muster which is a good amount considering the situation coupled with the scents assaulting her sense of smell.

"And as for you." Cara takes another step closer to the man on the floor as he tucks himself back into his pants that were gathered low around his hips. "I know your kind too well for my liking. You take and take as though it's your birthright." Cara unsheathes one of her Agiels; its whine is prominent in the stillness of the moment. "So perhaps you'd like to take a taste of this which I would argue is all you really deserve."

For Cara her words are not a question but a statement of intent. It's a line she has posed to a variety of people many times in her life. Only now Cara feels the weight of what she wishes to do. There is no calculated teasing to impending actions. Cara means what she is about to do and the punishment will in fact fit the crime. The man squirms on the floor, giving his best spiteful glare, but he doesn't dare beg or even utter a word for now. It's better that way or else Cara would have to silence him. He'll be singing soon enough though and with any luck he'll be rendered sterile as a side benefit. The people at the inn have listened to worse tonight.

 


 

Cara doesn't see any merit in recounting the event which lead her towards the life she's been living. Cara is certain that Kahlan has no wish to hear about the young girls and boys who have been taken. Kahlan also wouldn't be interested in hearing about how a few months ago Cara tracked a boy of twelve who had been abducted from his village. His parents were frantic; they all are. Cara knows all too well how quickly children can be taken away by another.

Cara's quest for the young boy lasted three weeks and after all of her searching Cara found his body in a shallow grave but not the people who were responsible. The abuse Cara recognized on the young boy's body was apparent even under what was at least a week’s worth of decay. Cara brought the body back to his parents for the sake of closure. There was no fee for her failure and Cara did not stay in the village long enough for the funeral pyre either.

Cara frowns at the recollection as she stands from her seat and moves towards the fireplace, "You're right I wouldn't have come here under normal circumstances. I will also confirm that the rumors are mostly accurate. People pay me for my services. To find those who are lost or stolen."

"Like you were."

Cara purses her lips. Yes, she was abducted too when she was very young. Yes, she was tortured, then trained to become one of the finest warriors in the lands. Whereas, the young boy was used and then discarded when he died. The demands that were made on Cara's body for sexual purposes did not happen until she developed physically, so to speak.

Cara turns around to face Kahlan, "I also accept bounties on certain types. Because even though you and Richard have endeavored to make the world a better, more peaceful place doesn't mean that it is." The fireplace burning behind Cara pops loudly but Cara doesn't flinch at the sound. Neither does Kahlan. "Bad things still happen under your well-meaning noses. They are just quieter, smaller affairs. Those who do harm to others have become subtler. Why try to conquer the world when you can have fun taking it apart piece by piece?"

Kahlan frowns and narrows her eyes at Cara. A familiar thrill runs down Cara's spine at the hard look. Kahlan is even more beautiful when she's angry. Then there's addition of the blackness of Kahlan's magic that overtakes those pale blue eyes. In the past had Cara been inclined to be poetic about it she would liken the visual to that of an incensed goddess.

"I'm nowhere as naive as you think I am about the state of the Midlands and the borders beyond." Kahlan's voice is firm and steady, befitting the Queen that she is. "And Richard is, Richard has managed to hold onto his best qualities even after becoming the ruler of D'Hara."

Cara smirks and then runs her tongue along the inside of her bottom teeth, "So tell me what does Richard the benevolent have to say about your method of inviting me to Aydindril?"

Kahlan clasps her hands together on her lap, "I wouldn't know."

"You wouldn't know?" Cara frowns and crosses her arms over her chest. Cara had extensively planned on not asking about the Lord Rahl's whereabouts since that would only prompt Kahlan to discuss other things Cara would rather not hear about. "Where is Richard?"

"Richard doesn't live here. He's in D'Hara." Kahlan smiles wryly in Cara's estimation and there's perhaps some smugness too which is something Cara would approve of in her own actions. Others not so much. "You're welcome to visit him there too."

Cara is going to ignore Kahlan's amusement, "And how often does he visit you?"

Kahlan shrugs and this time she offers Cara a tight-lipped smile, "Three times a year."

"And you're content with that?"

"Yes."

Cara has already surmised that Richard was in D'Hara doing his duty. Cara is proud of him as much as she can be. But not once has Cara regretted paying a wizard, who liked his ale too much, and who was an even bigger pain in the ass than Zedd to get rid of her bond. Cara's motivations were simple; so she couldn't be controlled against her will ever again or have a duty to serve be held over her head either. A blood magic exchange of power is what the wizard called it.

Kahlan stands from her seat once again and then takes a few measured steps closer towards the fireplace, "Cara, I'm not surprised you don't know what's happened over the years; so let me just begin by saying that I didn't marry Richard. He was never my mate in any capacity."

"Why not? What did I miss?" Cara watches as Kahlan moves nearer to her. Cara is possibly shocked at this revelation. With as much feelings as Kahlan and Richard used to throw around this is hard to believe. Cara knows she's further opened a discussion she'd rather not partake in but Kahlan's the one who brought it up. "Where exactly did the Seeker go wrong with holding onto your boundless affections?"

Kahlan smiles somewhat sadly, "Richard, always said he didn't believe in prophecies which I never understood for obvious reasons. But after we got to Aydindril. The ardor cooled, for me." Kahlan stops moving closer and at this distance Cara watches the firelight play in Kahlan's blue eyes. "Richard didn't understand the concept of duty then. And certainly not the way I have since I was a young Confessor. I couldn't marry him let alone sleep with him."

Cara makes an effort not to acknowledge how close Kahlan is to her now. Cara remembers all too well how often Kahlan used to touch her. In the beginning Kahlan would grab Cara by the throat; the threat of confession imminent. That stage passed and what followed was fleeting touches Cara tolerated. Cara has made it a point to never think on the hug in that damn tomb since she thought about it enough when they were both lying on the ground near death.

Kahlan smiles in a way that's hard for Cara to categorize, "I find it almost funny in a way that my first problem with Richard was worrying about confessing him which no longer was an issue." Kahlan steps even closer to the point Cara thinks she may have to move back to maintain acceptable space between them. "I thought I was happy about that until I wasn't. But then my second problem arose with Richard; worrying if I would give birth to a male confessor. Love isn't a guarantee against that kind of danger or the consequences." Kahlan smiles again briefly. "And for being the Seeker of Truth, Richard only ever saw what he wanted to and I just couldn't indulge his whims anymore even though I loved him but I was no longer in love with him."

Cara holds her tongue even though it's rather tempting to comment about Kahlan's awakening to the fact that Richard did not in fact hang the moon and stars. Or that the sun doesn't rise and set out of his backside either. Richard is a good person though like so many but he has flaws like everyone else too.

Kahlan reaches up to tuck some of her hair behind her ear again, "Looking back, I think that the circumstances of our quest heightened emotions to a degree that bordered on irrational. Richard began to act as though I belonged to him like the Sword of Truth or the clothing on his back." Kahlan scoffs but her eyes turn steely. "And I am not property. I didn't see it until I took a moment to really look and catch my breath."

Cara approves of Kahlan's reasoning. Cara saw it all first-hand with all the giggling, blushing, hand-holding, kissing when one of them would be gone for the barest amount of time. Practically professing their love with every breath they could muster. It was the worst kind of torture Cara has ever endured really.

Cara uncrosses her arms and then places one hand on her hip, "Tell me did the old wizard get mad and start saying that you'd become possessed by powerful dark magic?"

Kahlan smiles and playfully rolls her eyes, "Hardly."

Cara shrugs up one shoulder, "Then I suppose Zedd's mouth was otherwise occupied by food to be angered by you rebuffing his grandson and one true Seeker to whom you were fated to love above all others?"

Cara could make a jest about the time Kahlan was split into two separate beings and she could barely restrain herself from lying flat on her back for Richard. Kahlan's whiny half didn’t even pretend to be chaste and Richard, obviously listening to his nether region, took full advantage of a powerless and emotionally compromised Kahlan. It all amused Cara to no end and in fact it still does when she bothers to think back on that part of the quest.

"So, I take it you found someone else to mate with instead?"

"Yes, I did. I confessed a man who volunteered. He was tested by..." Kahlan blushes suddenly and the firelight seems to enhance it. "I was assured that he would guarantee me daughters."

Cara smirks, "And how did that work out?"

Kahlan reaches up and brushes a hand through her hair, "I have two healthy daughters; my oldest is six, nearly seven in three month’s time while my youngest just turned four. I fulfilled my duty."

"Just two?" One of Cara's eyebrows quirk up. "The old heir and a spare?"

Kahlan huffs out a small laugh, "Yes, Cara. I'm not a broodmare. Two is more than sufficient and certainly all I'm interested in having."

Cara nods. She can commiserate. Letting yourself become weighted down by pregnancy is foolish not to mention truly uncomfortable. Sleeping with men often can cause that effect if you're not extremely careful which is one of the many reasons why Cara prefers women. But all the bleeding, pushing and mess for a squalling useless and helpless tiny person is an odd venture to willingly endure unless you have a legacy bloodline to uphold like Kahlan. Not that Cara has ever cared about such things.

Though it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for the Rahl bloodline to wither and die out. But Cara is willing to bet that Richard has been busy too. He's a man after all. Cara has found it hard to care about much of anything in her life since being expelled from the Mord'Sith. Life was not better back then but it was simpler in the numbness, the routine of duty. Cara feels more than she would like at times and no amount of years passed is going to change that fact about her.

Cara lets the hand on her hip slowly drift over to one of the handles of her Agiels, "Why did you hire those morons to fetch me, Kahlan?"

The Confessor seems at a loss for a heartbeat, "I already told you. I missed you. And I heard about you. What you've been doing. You were not easy to find and it took some time. I requested information first and then I only issued the reward to those three from the village you were passing through." Kahlan takes another step and to Cara it seems like she can feel Kahlan's warmth more than the fire snapping and crackling behind them. "You look great by the way. You're very striking in those white leathers. I mean they're not all white, clearly. The red and black panels on the sides and... other places really make them bold. They suit you."

Cara flashes Kahlan a very smug smirk, "You should see my red ones."

"LIke I said, I've heard stories about those." Kahlan smiles and Cara watches those blue eyes dip down well past her face for a moment. Just like old times. "And I see that you don't, that is your new leathers aren't revealing like your old ones when you took your neckpiece off."

Cara's new leathers are essentially two pieces with no laces anywhere. Cara does not miss all those tedious laces just to don her uniform. The top has hidden buttons on the sides and the neckline Kahlan was commenting on stops at her throat but the top has no sleeves though. The short jacket Cara wears over the top blends and provides the sleeves when Cara needs less ventilation. The pants button as well which makes things so much easier on a highly personal level when relieving yourself or other activities. Cara only brought back her old neckline for protection and since it's a part of the top it's not as restrictive as it appears.

"I wear red while I'm working." Cara bites down on her bottom lip to see what kind of reaction it incites. Kahlan's eyes follow the action as if trained. "It was only proper since at one time in my old life wearing red more or less meant combat or an act that you would no doubt disapprove of."

Kahlan tilts her head to the side and gives Cara the old disapproving frown, "You mean torture or as you called it training?"

"Red leather is already stained red. Blood can't taint it." Cara grips the handle of her Agiel and is greeted by only a faint tremor which is normal for her to feel. "When I was a young Mord'Sith we wore brown leathers around the palace. Darken did away with that color though and I can't say that I minded the loss. I wasn't fond of the brown leathers."

Kahlan smiles, "Red is your color. I can't help but think of you when I see it." Speaking of that particular color Kahlan blushes again but then she quickly ducks her head down and all is hidden by her long dark wavy locks of hair. "As I said you look very striking in the white too. Though it may take some time getting used to seeing you in white."

Cara sees no reason to keep the surprise off her face since Kahlan is looking at anything but her at the moment. Why would Kahlan need to get used to seeing Cara's version of her white leathers? Cara has no plans for staying in Aydindril any length of time on her own free will that is. Kahlan has proven to be rather devious with manipulating Cara to come here and all in the name of missing Cara's company? Cara isn't buying that heap of Shadrin dung though. There's something else going on here. There has to be. Cara will indulge this a while longer since it's not like she has anything better to do at the moment.

Cara glances away from Kahlan to stare at the fire consuming the logs in the hearth, "I had never had an occasion to wear my white leathers when I was still a Mord'Sith. They were more ceremonial than anything else in my mind since they were extremely binding unlike our combat leathers. The neckpiece that went with the white leathers felt like a slow purposeful choke when I tried mine on."

"Ceremonial?" Kahlan turns her eyes back towards Cara. "What were they meant to symbolize?"

Out of the corner of her eye Cara notes that Kahlan has gotten her blush under control, "They were to be worn when a Mord'Sith selects a mate." Cara moves her gaze away from the flames and back on Kahlan. "For when another was devoted to you without any further training. It reminds me of what happens once a person has been confessed."

Kahlan visibly swallows, "And you never...did? Select a mate?"

It's almost an odd and yet shyly phrased question. All Cara knows for sure is that Dahlia was a tempting option for a time but Cara fought against it for many reasons. Later on, Dahlia proved all on her own what a poor choice she would've been for Cara. True loyalty is hard come to by even when it's being beaten into you. But then Cara reasoned that some people are perhaps loyal to a fault while others become adept at pretending until they grow tired of pretending.

"No."

Cara watches closely as Kahlan blue eyes seem to become shinier in the firelight, "And you wear your own version of white leathers now because you've chosen...a mate?"

Cara is thoroughly intrigued now at what she's reading in Kahlan. But this is not a sound idea since Kahlan's good sense has apparently vanished due to probable loneliness. Cara doesn't see how though given that Kahlan has her kingdom, duties and family. And perhaps there is some unknown lover when Kahlan's feeling amorous; a lover that cannot leave her with child since the Confessor just stated that she'd had enough of being pregnant.

"The answer is still no." Cara smirks at the sight of Kahlan's blue eyes brightening. "This is just ceremony for me. My version of the old brown leathers, that I hated, which we were required to wear at one time when there were no pressing demands to answer to."

Kahlan's eyes seem to study Cara too closely but Cara's not about to cede ground to Kahlan in their intimate standoff. Kahlan is still beating around the bush as it were and Cara has officially grown tired of waiting to find out what is Kahlan's endgame.

"Speaking of demands why don't you just tell me what it is that you want, Kahlan. Am I to be your next or first bad decision?" Cara loosens her grip on her Agiel's handle. Nothing about this reads to Cara as some secret threat lying in wait. Though the hidden threat of some kind of unasked task has yet to be revealed. "It's always something with you. But so you know I'm not up for saving the world again. It's too much of a burden to shoulder; the stakes shouldn't be so high all the damn time. It's not natural."

Kahlan grins and shakes her head, "You're right. Only this isn't about the fate of the Midlands or any other part of the lands I rule."

Cara takes a deep breath and then lets it out slowly, "You want something from me, so just say it already, Kahlan."

"I would like for you stay here. With me." Kahlan blushes again but doesn't attempt to hide it. "Or at least visit often."

Cara purses her lips, "Why exactly would I consider such an offer?"

Kahlan blushes more, "Because I wish for you to be my companion."

"So, this is all about serving the Mother Confessor? Now was that so difficult to admit?"

Cara is teasing but she has no intention of serving anyone ever again. Cara's done her time and duty to a ruler; even forced to let him use her body as he saw fit. Back then Cara thought it an honor, but not now, not in many years and certainly not ever again. It doesn't matter that it's Kahlan asking for something different to a degree.

Kahlan frowns until her lips are nothing but a thin line, "No, you're twisting my words. This isn't about just, I'm not like that and you know it." Kahlan sighs and then runs a hand along her forehead. "Spirits, I'd nearly forgotten just how irritatingly obtuse you can be when motivated."

Cara narrows her eyes at Kahlan, "You should know that I've sworn off excessive amounts of sex with random strangers." Cara is lying through her perfect teeth which she suspects Kahlan is aware of. Cara doesn't care though. "There are things going around and a healer can only do so much. It was so much easier when I was just indulging in my fellow Mord'Sith since we were all healthy, willing and eager. Even the ones I disliked and downright loathed. They all were a good fuck except for that bitch Triana."

The words are nothing less than the truth and the most words Cara's ever spoken at one time about her past and present. It's meant to crudely shock Kahlan into admitting the real reason Cara was summoned to her. Kahlan is capable of finding a more suitable mate or companion or however Kahlan wants to dress up the title even if Cara were up for the job. Cara has never seen herself as a kept woman. For starters it's a sad sight that involves dresses, cooking and obligatory breeding sex with the same person over and over again. Nevermind that Kahlan is already another kind of mother too now besides her title.

Kahlan laughs of all things and smiles warmly at Cara, "You are still a terrible liar. And I never thought I'd say this to you of all people since you used to be the brooding silent type, but shut up."

Cara's mouth falls open slightly, "Liar? Brooding?"

Kahlan smiles and its entirely too bright and for the first time this evening Cara actually feels like pulling out one of her Agiels and smacking Kahlan with it. And telling Cara to shut up when all Kahlan used to want Cara to do is waste air discussing frivolous matters of the heart and whatnot would be offensive if Cara were that sensitive. Cara has decided as of now that she can never win in a verbal battle, or perhaps to be more accurate, find a middle ground with suiting Kahlan Amnell.

"Don't be mad, Cara. But I watched your routine of indifferent stoicism coupled with biting sarcasm for a year while we were traveling together. It became entertaining after I moved past our issues. We are not so different."

Cara is having trouble trying to decide how offended she should be at Kahlan's shortened account of their journey to the Stone of Tears. And if Cara was intending to entertain anyone it was only meant to be herself as a means to stave off the boredom or aggravation when Richard ran off to save baby ducks, kittens, butterflies and other assorted wastes of time.

"If I'm to believe your admission about your intentions in getting me here then I bet Dennee is thrilled." Cara takes immediate satisfaction in Kahlan's brief frown. Kahlan's smiles are becoming disarming the longer Cara is in her presence. Cara had forgotten about their effectiveness on her. "Particularly the detail about you wanting a former Mord'Sith as a companion, especially since it's me."

Cara apologized to the other Amnell Confessor but it seemed paltry given the fact that Cara killed her. Cara hasn't thought of Dennee and what happened that day in Valeria in years. Cara has found that forgetting is far easier when you take a large step away and stay there.

"It's in the past, Cara." Kahlan fidgets with her hands and then smiles again. "Dennee has two daughters of her own now. Richard has three sons with his wife Anna. They were married a little over seven years ago now. I was at the wedding. But you weren't and you should've been."

Cara laughs lightly, "Three sons. That poor woman. But I'm not surprised that Richard has thoroughly insured the Rahl bloodline will survive and then some."

Kahlan frowns and then in a rapid fit of motion she grabs Cara's hands in hers. Cara startles at the sensation and immediately wishes she hadn't taken her gloves off earlier. It's been a long time since Cara felt the blood quicken in her veins at the Confessor's touch even when it wasn't about threats on her life. The old death by Confession was a heady rush back then for Cara.

"Don't you feel anything yet?" Kahlan's grip on Cara's hands tighten. Cara feels the combination of trembling, heat and the lingering callouses on Kahlan's hands. "After all these years, Cara? Have I been a fool or just foolish again?"

Cara glances down at their joined hands and then moves to slip them out of Kahlan's firm grip but the Confessor doesn't let go, "What are you talking about?"

Cara isn't being obtuse. There are more than a few elements about everything Cara is genuinely having a difficult time trying to understand. It would've been easier had Kahlan tasked Cara with some quest. Or just asked her outright for sex on demand even though the answer would still be 'no' on that front. Cara will not go back to being a concubine no matter how polite the request. Had Kahlan asked this of Cara years ago the answer would have been vastly different.

Kahlan's blue eyes start to fill with moisture again, "Is so wrong to want my friend back?" Kahlan sniffles and it hits Cara right in the chest. Hard. "To think that possibly after we get to know one another again." Another sniffle and then a tear leaks out of both of those now shining blue eyes. "That maybe we could be more?"

Keeper's ass. Cara can't handle crying women. Kahlan crying is even worse. And that's saying something since Cara has spent the last several years being subjected to crying women of various levels. Sometimes the men cry too and in all honesty witnessing them trying to hold it in is somewhat worse than all the bawling. Though Cara could to without any waterworks. Comforting has never been a part of Cara's life, not during her duty to the throne of D'Hara, or even over the last years with her job description. Cara's first instinct is still to recoil and tell them to dry that shit up. But this is Kahlan and perhaps some humoring won't be unpleasant.

Cara looks away from Kahlan's teary eyed expression and down at their joined hands. Cara squeezes Kahlan's hands in her her's, "I'll think about it."

Kahlan sniffles again, "W-what?"

"I said, I will think about your offer." Cara is nothing if not bold. She's always gained satisfaction from throwing people off both literally and figuratively. "But even if I were to accept I won't be tied down to this place."

Kahlan nods her head and briefly smiles, "I would never even ask that of you much less expect or demand it."

Cara has felt at one time or another that declarations such as those are nothing more than pretty lies. But again this is Kahlan. The Mother Confessor, an honorable warrior that is driven, skillful and merciless when called for which are qualities that Cara admires. Still, Kahlan has played a good game in luring Cara here and therefore Cara is of the mind that one good turn deserves another.

Cara gazes into Kahlan's glossy blue eyes and grins, "Tell me, will I be allowed to lie with others if it's decided that something more physical between us is not something that you want of me?"

Kahlan's eyes harden as she bites down on her bottom lip, "If I didn't want you? Spirits, Cara. I've wanted to kiss you for years. And every single time I think of you with another." Kahlan faintly blushes and frowns but then she draws her chin up. "I would prefer that you didn't lie with anyone else for the time you choose to remain in Aydindril. Whether you accept my offer or not."

Cara can't keep from smirking. The Confessor is just like any other woman after all. This will take some getting used to. Cara remembers well enough how she governed her own thoughts about Kahlan for Richard's sake. But Richard's not an issue anymore and Cara hasn't spent any real length of time thinking on the past since Cara has been living an out of sight and out of mind existence; again this will take some conditioning. Kahlan's offer isn't wholly unappealing and with that thought in mind Cara gently slips her hands out of Kahlan's grasp and then turns and heads towards the entry door of Kahlan's chambers.

"Wait, where are you going?"

Cara stops and turns just enough to face Kahlan, "To find somewhere to sleep for what remains of the night and possibly for a while in this place."

"Really?" Kahlan wipes under her eyes and smiles brightly. "You could stay here."

The earnest tone of Kahlan's voice is enough to make Cara want to tease her relentlessly, "Why Kahlan Amnell, people will talk."

Kahlan blushes again and the sight is becoming very pleasing for Cara to induce, "I meant in the palace. Not here in my private chambers. There are several empty rooms."

Cara smiles even though she isn't all the way committed to considering Kahlan's offer. Cara doesn't see herself interacting well with Kahlan's two children for starters. Cara knows that she would have to at some point for the sake of basic decency. Cara has never at any point envisioned herself with children or being responsible for someone else's. That kind of responsibility is quite a burden and a commitment all at once. And as far as lodging goes Cara has extra coin now thanks to the generous donation from the three louts. Cara feels its rightfully her money any way.

"Your invitation is noted and...appreciated. But I think it's best if I find a room at an inn."

Kahlan takes a few steps away from the fireplace and moves closer towards Cara once more, "You're not just saying that are you? Will you at least promise me that you're not going to just leave again?"

Cara tilts her head to the side and purses her lips, "Can't you read me yet?"

Kahlan laughs lightly, "I used to be able to in my own way that had nothing to do with my powers."

Cara nods, she suspected as much back then. Another thing she was right about. So far the only thing Cara was less than accurate about was Kahlan and Richard being even more disgustingly in love now than they were during the quest. And that Kahlan's true intentions was that she wanted to ask something awful of Cara in which case perhaps the verdict is yet to be decided on that. For a moment Cara considers leaning forward and pressing her lips to Kahlan's just to see how she would react. But as swiftly as the thought enters Cara's mind she discards it since the game is becoming more interesting.

"Fine, I promise that I will not slip away without saying something." Cara smirks and turns away from Kahlan's entirely too pleased smile and knowing gaze. "But for now all I will say is... goodnight, Kahlan."

Chapter Text


 

Cara steps out of Kahlan's chambers and the two guards stationed at the doors barely even acknowledge her. The smirk falls off Cara's face as she strides past them; she was ready to knock them on their asses. Cara perceives this as yet another tell on Kahlan. But then again the Confessor has admitted that she counted on Cara coming to Aydindril on her own after being motivated. Cara grits her teeth while walking far enough out of the guards sight before taking a turn down the corridor that she used beforehand which leads towards the kitchen. It's the servants passageway and the most direct route to the most important person in the palace, Kahlan.

Cara learned all about the easiest way to the Confessor's chambers thanks to a young lady that works in the kitchen. Cara had a pretty good idea prior to meeting the kitchen worker on how best to slip in undetected since the People's Palace has no shortage of servants that catered to Darken's whims albeit in another fashion than Cara did. Put simply, there is always a series of passageways for the help to take. There is always a more efficient way to hurry up so the help can quickly attend to thy master. But once again Cara questions her spot of good fortune on meeting the young woman at Ambrosio's two nights ago. Kahlan might've arranged that too.

Cara has not bedded the attractive kitchen worker but she has kissed her as thoroughly as possible. The other woman really seemed to enjoy that and it was her who came onto Cara that night. Cara has held back on her baser impulses easily enough since the entanglement with the woman at the village that might have been paid to distract Cara with her mouth, hands and breasts. Cara swiftly descends down the narrow stonewalled stairwell and passes through the kitchen and the only person that's there is currently sound asleep, mouth hanging open, and drooling on one of the large cutting tables. It would be obscenely easy to take them out. Cara rolls her eyes.

There's two ways Kahlan apparently expects Cara to behave. To either stay or go especially now that Kahlan's made her ridiculous offer. Kahlan has to be lying. People do not go out of their way to bring people who have served their purpose back into their lives. Cara did lie to Kahlan though, plain but not simple. But according to Kahlan, Cara is a terrible liar but that's just not true. The first of Cara's lies being that it did not take Cara five days to journey to Aydindril; it was three days total, the extra two days Cara hinted at was more or less spent looking for a covert way inside that may or may not have been necessary. The pretty kitchen worker with effective lips and an easy smile may be in on this charade.

Cara frowns as she pushes open the heavy door that leads outside towards the palace gardens. Cara can't has never considered herself to be what others would call paranoid. Cara is simply alert and she has never failed to question people's motives; even Darken's right to his stupid face near the end before Cara was cast out. Cara now sees her dismissal as, what more simple prophecy-fearing types would call it, a blessing in disguise. The moon is still casting just enough light that Cara can find her way even in the near-dark without missteps. Cara is just retracing her steps as it were. This was how she entered but this is just one of her planned exits should things have turned ugly.

Cara takes the straight dirt path that is framed by two vegetable gardens. Cara is grateful that there are no awful blooming flowers in sight. Both vegetable gardens are closed and surrounded by a low wooden fences to discourage pests of the rabbit variety. Cara strides down the pathway with a destination in mind. There will be no need to look for a place to stay since Cara has already acquired such a thing. Another lie. But right now Cara is nowhere near tired enough to seek out her bed. So instead Cara intends on visiting the very drinking establishment that Kahlan mentioned she was certainly not employed at. Ambrosio's. Which also has lodging but Cara chose a more low-key place to stay while in Aydindril.

Cara may very well be blunt in most all areas but in matters of staying two steps ahead Cara prefers to be far from obvious. That may be over though since it appears that she's become predictable to Kahlan Amnell of all people. Cara frowns with each step away from the palace and that much closer to the depressingly quiet nighttime streets of Aydindril. Cara stops near the end of the pathway and moves behind some of the shaped hedges that frame this section of the Confessor's palace. There's two guards stationed at the natural arched entryway to the gardens. Cara squints her eyes and more or less wills her night vision to sharpen.

Cara frowns again because the two men, the two members of the Home Guard, are very familiar. Cara grits her teeth and silently curses Kahlan. The two useless morons Cara took out in fact made it here likely at the same time as she did and it suddenly feels to Cara that Kahlan has staged all this on purpose. The Confessor clearly needs a hobby to expend her attentions on when she's not occupied by matters of state. Cara rolls her eyes. Any other time she would walk right past them and if they stopped her she would give them another taste of her Agiels. Instead, Cara silently moves under the cover of night to the far end of the gardens where the hedges have been purposefully and newly damaged but not overtly so.

 


 

Ambrosio's is as lively as it has been every night since Cara has been here in the city of Confessor's. The people here give her a wide yet disgustingly polite berth. There are no sneers aimed at Cara like she would've received if she were dressed as a proper Mord'Sith many years ago. Bar fights where Cara is the cause is a rarity. The bar is loud though with laughter and conversation. Cara can also hear the occasional burp over the din and unfortunately three tables over from Cara they're having a farting contest. The rules of the contest as Cara is overhearing them is that whoever’s fart is the most pathetic, as in not loud enough or whatever, is the person who will be buying the next round.

Cara rolls her eyes and decides that her tankard of ale is dangerously low and in the interest of saving her ears and nose Cara stands from her seat and moves towards the bar. Cara hears a high-pitched squealing fart followed by even louder laughter as she passes by a barmaid with her tray balanced and filled with mugs of ale likely bound for the gasbag table. The barmaid smiles at Cara which prompts a grin from Cara in return. It has been a while since that woman from the village and Cara isn't dead yet and she hasn't made any real promises to anyone that she intends on keeping. Particularly since Kahlan has engineered this all because of some notion of clinging to the past as it were in Cara's opinion.

Cara saunters up to the bar and places her empty mug down on the top. A part of Cara is beginning to scream at her for coming here and lingering. Not to the bar but being in Aydindril. Nothing good is going to come of this. But at first glance Kahlan has become an even more impressive woman since Cara saw her last. But then the recent memories or rather reflections of this evening's events start replaying over again. And the more Cara thinks about it all; the candles, the smiles, the tears. The gushing blurt over wanting to kiss Cara for years; all that was missing from that gem was a giggle. Cara growls lowly in her throat, gripping her nearly empty mug tightly in hand and then bangs it on the bar's top.

The man behind the bar jumps at the sound as do the two people at a nearby table who thankfully are not seeing if their flatulence can get them out of paying the bill. Cara wrinkles her nose slightly and turns her full attention to the bartender coming towards her. There is usually some middle-aged brusk man behind most of the bar's Cara has frequented or in the case of the brothels it's a temping woman. But this is a first for Cara and she doesn't bother with trying to restrain a brief appraising glance over the fit and smiling younger man. The short towel thrown over his shoulder that he was wiping mugs with seems to be a part of the charm he's working on presenting.

"Can I get you another?"

Cara purses her lips, "What do you think?"

The bartender nods and reaches for Cara's mug and then moves to fill it at the tap behind the bar, "So, I've seen you here the last few nights." The bartender smiles at Cara while he holds her mug just out of her line of sight. "I've never seen a woman as beautiful as you are in here before." He's really on the young side. Clean-shaven though. Pretty even, with short light brown hair and hazel eyes as far as Cara can tell in this light. He clears his throat, smiles wider and replaces Cara's now filled mug back on the bar's top. "Would you like some company later?"

Cara toys with the handle on her mug of ale, "Not interested."

The bartender is just young enough to pout and frown a little instead of getting angry which would in turn only deeply piss Cara off. It's not Cara's problem that his flaccid manhood stirred and then started to harden at the sight of her. Cara is over men and their ideas of what they're entitled to. But honestly if Cara were in the mood to take a man for her pleasure she has long since passed wanting what one like this has to offer.

"Why not?"

Cara rolls her eyes at the whiney tone in his voice. There's no question in Cara's mind that there would be fumbling which would lead to frustration on her part. And he most certainly wouldn't have the discipline to control himself long enough to pull out. Cara hasn't let any man finish inside her since Darken and she had no choice in that instance but now she does and it will stay that way. In lieu of answering Cara picks up her mug of ale and takes a long drink. This will be her last one for the night since being hungover tomorrow is not what she desires.

The young bartender is the persistent kind though too. Cara swallows the stout tasting alcohol and then sets her mug back down on the bar top, "You're lacking a nice pair of breasts for starters." The bartender's eyes go wide but then he frowns harder. "Is there anything else I can do to let you down gently?"

The bartender gapes for a moment and then he reaches up for the towel on his shoulder, beginning to twist it in his large hands, "You prefer a woman to a man?"

Cara quirks up an eyebrow. This one is nosey and has no clue who she is or was. He would probably like a three-way when he's older if his curiosity holds. All the same Cara doesn't owe him any answers. Because having to explain yourself to people seems stupid to Cara in general and she's not about to waste her time on this stranger. Cara reaches for her mug and takes another long drink. Cara lowers the mug but doesn't place it back on the bar; there are a few more sips left which Cara intends to enjoy.

"I'm not going to answer that." Cara grins at the bartender before turning her attention to the barmaid that's setting her empty tray on the bar's top down at the other end. "But I do have some advice if you're that...lonely." Cara takes another sip of ale but as she lowers her mug she feels a small trickle of ale escaping out of the corner of her mouth. Cara wipes it away with a swipe of her bare thumb. "If I don't take the lovely barmaid back to my room then why don't you try your luck with her? Just remember to ask what she wants, then give her exactly what she wants. Don't just yank up the skirt of her dress in the keg room and then try to fuck her."

The bartender's face reddens and the towel slips from his hands. Cara suppresses a grin, "Tried that already? That's too bad." He swiftly bends down to pick the towel up off the floor behind the bar. As his head pops up back into view Cara smirks over the rim of her nearly empty mug of ale. "You'd better stick to paying for it then."

Cara finishes her ale and throws a few coins on the top of the bar without sparing a glance at the fool behind the bar. There's no tip added in. Perhaps if he'd kept his mouth shut Cara might've left something extra just to look at him minus the mouthy pouring service. Cara turns away from the bartender and pulls her gloves out of her belt and then puts them on. Cara glances down at the other end of the bar to see that the barmaid is still there only now she's rather blatantly staring at Cara.

The barmaid is highly tempting with her fiery red curls that cascades down to draw attention to a tempting and ample bosom. The barmaid winks at Cara and Cara offers up her best sultry smirk. And to think Cara's not even said two words to her to gain all this interest. Cara considers for a moment what could be for what remains of the night. But in the end Cara merely winks at the barmaid again and then leaves. Tomorrow is another day and Cara prefers to be somewhat rested for what lies ahead.

 


 

Thick and stifling smoke rolls in like a fog and blots out the natural light like a heavy dark curtain. Cara doesn't cough though. Her eyes sting but otherwise she's fine. Better than fine actually. Cara feels strong; her senses keen and alert. Cara turns around and tries to get some bearing on which direction the fire that has to be causing all the smoke and is clearly laying waste to the landscape. And that's when Cara notices the landscape. She's back in The Peoples Palace. It's certainly been a while but at the same time not nearly long enough. Cara doesn't miss the place that's for sure.

On reflex Cara looks down at her body to see that she's wearing her white leathers. Her old Mord'Sith leather's only they feel and fit like her combat leathers. Cara reaches up to find her hair not tightly pulled back in a braid. In the place of a proper braid Cara finds that her hair is long and flowing down to what feels like the middle of her back. This is all wrong. And while Cara knows her way around the palace but with all the smoke she can barely see the walls much less find any indication of where she is in the palace. Cara frowns and then moves her hand to rest on one of the handles of her Agiels.

As soon as Cara's gloved hand makes contact there's pain and it races up her arm until it hits her square in the chest. Cara gasps at the sensation but then smiles. It's been too long since she felt anything like that. Cara lets go of the handle to test out the other Agiel only to find out that she has no second. Cara doesn't dwell on her missing weapon though because the smoke is beginning to thin out enough so that Cara sees a familiar hallway ahead. If memory serves correct the hallway leads to the area in the palace where devotions are held. Cara walks down the hallway until it opens up into the indoor courtyard.

It occurs to Cara that her surroundings are too quiet. The only sound available is her breathing which is as calm as a placid lake. There are no ripples. But then sounds start filtering in. At first it's the annoying chirp of one of those night bugs, then it's cracking and rustling like someone is running through a forest and making a point to step on every twig they can spot. It all goes quiet in an instance and then there's a dragging noise that grows louder and closer. Cara wouldn't normally just stand there and wait for an attack even though she's never been afraid to charge right in. Though a warrior will not stand for long being so rash.

Cara is not sure what to make of this ordeal for a moment. Nothing about this feels real but it does echo parts of her life; just all scrambled together and then put in front of her in the wrong order. The dragging noise stops and then there's nothing but silence again. Cara closes her eyes to focus on listening. There's not much too see anyway unless you enjoy the sight of fog, sand and an alter or two. Cara remembers kneeling onto the sand and spouting the pledge mixed with an oath to Master Rahl. Cara will never be able to forget those words for what remains of her life. It's an imprinted chorus that is not only her voice but others too.

Cara feels a sudden flash of oncoming movement on her right. Cara opens her eyes to see a figure distorted and cloaked by the billowing smoke. Then another figure materializes and another until Cara knows that she surrounded on all sides. Cara's not cowed in the slightest. She's a honed weapon. And she's killed an assortment of beings and more during the height of the quest for that damned stone alone. But that was a long time ago. The dragging noises filter back in though the figures remain hidden in the veil of smoke as it were. It reeks of an unimaginative taunt. Cara is not amused though.

Cara is ready for whatever poorly concocted and executed magical trickery this is. Cara senses movement coming from the left just behind her shoulder this time. Cara smirks and draws her Agiel while she sways out of the range of the cowardly attack. The wind off the figure's action faintly blows back Cara's free-flowing hair as she turns to face her attacker. The white leather wrapped Agiel's humming scream is the only sound now. Cara rises it higher and waits. If she could see more than just the passing dark-lined forms she would already be hard at work making them sorry for wasting her time.

Cara is tired of this mockery so she raises her other hand to use her magic to push at what she feels is nothing but magic conjured smoke. The smoke pushes back but Cara continues to push, but harder, until finally the smoke gives and slowly starts to clear. The dim shadows surrounding Cara begin to take on more shape. Banelings. Or rather dead...Confessors. But their rotting and revenant affliction aside that hasn't stopped them from welding daggers and snarling. Cara can do this. She'll take them all on and send them back to the Keeper with one Agiel.

Cara raises the white leather wrapped Agiel again; it's silver chain swings and lightly hits against her wrist. Cara would dare say that the Agiel muted screams sound hungry for a real battle. Cara smirks at the sight of the tattered Confessor's, some light and some dark, but they're all wearing black dresses. This will be a challenge but hardly enough to even warm Cara's blood. A Mord'Sith never needs to defend after all; only use the useless maneuvers of the opponent, her enemy, to keep the upper hand. Then punish said enemy to the death and beyond if need be.

But then there's a great shaking from all sides and Cara loses her footing as though someone swept her legs out from under her. The Confessor's smile widely as Cara's breath leaves her roughly. Then the dead Confessor's evaporate into small burst of wispy black clouds that then turn into ravens. Cara watches from her frozen spot on the stone floor as they fly away and as a large crack tears up the wall and splinters out as it grows and spreads. Cara wills her breath to come back faster but it's useless. She can't feel any of her limbs and her lungs feels as though they become scorched with fire. Cara feels like she's burning up from the inside.

The walls continue to crumble. Large pieces break off and fall all around. Closer and closer. Cara feels each strike vibrate in her chest as they grow closer. Then the pieces start hitting her; weighing her down, burying her. Cara blinks and the rocks are piling in faster now. The pressure on her chest is increasing. It's getting hard to breathe. Cara doesn't cry out though. It's too late for that. Cara wakes with a start and then she frowns. Mord'Sith don't dream but Cara can't use that old crutch anymore. Cara has had many dreams over the years. Clearly, this new dream was fueled by seeing Kahlan.

As Cara wipes the sleep from her eyes she thinks it would be a good deal better that if she's going to keep dreaming here and there then some of her better and most pleasurable sexual conquests should be the preferred subject matter. Cara scowls and tosses the very warm bedcovers off of her body. The room is cold and without any kind of night clothes on Cara shivers. Not that Cara normally sleeps in anything other than her own bare flesh. Cara moves her neck from side to side listening to the faint pops and cracks. Cara rises from the bed and moves towards the wash basin.

She smells like sex and sweat. It's not a bad mixture in the heat of the moment and for a time afterwards but spending the rest of the day reeking of such odors is out of the question. Cara reaches for the half-full water pitcher and then pours some clean water from it into the basin. Cara splashes some water on her face first and then grabs the clean cloth lying beside the basin to rinse off the rest of her body. The barmaid makes a small noise and Cara turns to watch the other woman roll over in the bed, taking the bedcovers with her. The woman doesn't snore so stealing the covers is hardly an offense since Cara's not in the bed.

Cara smirks at the sight of the barmaid's long red curls splayed all over the pillow. It's not Cara's fault that the barmaid followed her to the small inn Cara's staying at. Cara of course knew she was being followed along the street and she was ever amused when she saw who it was. Cara perversely hopes that Kahlan finds out. The barmaid had stamina to spare and was all too willing to show Cara that she wasn't ignorant on how to please a woman. The barmaid was also vocal in her pleasure but not in the fabricated way. Cara hates those types of noises women make in an effort to let a man think he's far better than he actually is.

Which is why for her part Cara can honestly say that she enjoyed making the barmaid scream in ecstasy almost as much as she enjoyed the barmaid's talented tongue nestled between her thighs lapping away until Cara told her that was enough of that. The woman took instruction well and then took everything Cara had to offer. It was an evening well spent and the pleasant reminders Cara notes in her body should last til midday. Cara walks across the room and grabs her white leathers that the barmaid removed from her body with great relish. The other woman was mindful enough to place Cara's leathers on the sole chair in the room instead of throwing them on the floor.

 


 

Cara has spent the morning riding around the outskirts of Aydindril. Taking in the peace and quiet and scaring the wildlife so as to make it more of a challenge for hunters. By Cara's estimation based on the how high the sun is in the sky it's nearing midday. Cara pulls on the reins of her mount and he promptly stops. Cara is still using the animal she liberated from one of the Home Guard since there was no point in the horse being wasted on such a poor warrior. Cara moves to dismount; taking the reins in one hand with her as she throws her leg back over the horse and then places one foot on the ground. Cara made it a point to ride far enough away that she could no longer see the gleaming white tower of the Confessor's palace.

Being out in this sprawling field that's bare of tall grasses is more pleasing to Cara. The hay was probably cut and harvested for wintering cattle, Cara recalls vistas not dissimilar from her past and obviously present. Cara remembers, during the endless quest littered with tedious distractions, hunting for food and putting a boot to the wizard when his snores tested her limited patience for such a needless habit. The days are warmer than Cara expected for this time of year in Aydindril though it's not like Cara will be shedding her short leather jacket. Winter is not that far off. The sun still shines brightly this day but it will soon weaken in strength.

Cara has no intention of spending the winter here. A cool breeze blows Cara's hair off her face. Cara hasn't thought about her dream any more than she's taken a spare moment to actually consider Kahlan's ridiculous offer. The fine black gelding Cara's rode in on could still in the stables she left the beast in. Or instead of going for a ride, far away from the palace, Cara gave serious thought while she was saddling the horse of merely riding out of Aydindril once and for all. But Cara did promise and she's not in the habit of going back against her word for better or worse. Cara has yet to discern how much of a weakness her brand of tempered loyalty is for her now that she has free will.

Cara rolls her eyes. This place is damaging her in the worst way already. It's as though she can feel herself becoming soft and that will never be a desirable result. The only time when Cara let herself slide was when she was drinking more than what was wise. But that was also years ago in another time and when her body had less years on it though as of late and on further reflection Cara thinks she may start drinking like she used to again in the near future. Cara was deathly serious about not lingering in this life past her useful years. Who is to say though that she'll see tomorrow with or without the drink?

In the here and now though and in more recent years Cara drinks in moderation; no more than she would have were she still a high ranking Mord'Sith. The practice of austerity, no matter how lax you become, does have its uses when the time calls for it. Cara smirks as she leads her horse up to a small grove of trees and then ties his reins around one with a narrow trunk so he doesn't get any ideas of making her walk. The beast immediately lowers his head and starts stuffing his mouth with the long blades of grass growing at the base of the tree. Cara reaches out and pats the animal on his long mane twice before walking away.

Cara has never been the type for the inward kind of introspection. She still isn't. The closest Cara's ever come to that type of thinking is wondering what her life would've been like if she hadn't been made a Mord'Sith. The conclusion Cara arrived at after such useless pondering is her life would've been small, contained and weighted down by as many children as her body was capable of producing. The passing thought causes Cara to sneer. And this is why Cara sees no point in dwelling in the past in any way which brings Cara to addressing her present situation. How Kahlan wants them to be friends, again but with the possibility of more.

Cara scoffs and rolls her eyes. She didn't go for a ride to stew over Kahlan's motive behind her scheming ruse. There's no point in going over it all given the fact that Cara currently isn't in the mood to give herself what will no doubt result in a headache over it all. If anything all Cara really wants to do is find out how many conspirators Kahlan has at her beck and call and how to get out of all this. Seeing as escape is the only thing that has been a worthwhile impulse for Cara to uphold for many years now. Cara glances over the rolling hills and the mountains in the distance; at the grey-black blanket of clouds that's likely pouring down cold rain on those mountains.

The wind blows Cara's hair back again and sure enough she smells and tastes the moisture on the air. Cara closes her eyes and as much as she has been taught to only focus on her present Cara occasionally lets herself consider what she might want for her future. The first time Cara made such a decision was when she decided she'd fulfilled her duty to Richard Cypher-Rahl. The last time years ago when she took up her current profession which hasn't been as active and not because there hasn't been a need. Cara is guilty of staying away from more densely populated areas and not collecting on any bounties that she deems unworthy of her skills and time.

After so many years of dedicated service Cara opted for a break though she is poorer for it in terms of coin. Cara opens her eyes and the dark clouds that were blanketing the mountains have moved, and if their intended directions doesn't waver then back the way she came from will receive a soaking this evening. Cara's horse snorts loudly and Cara looks over her shoulder at the animal that's still tied to his tree. The beast probably inhaled some dirt to go along with his grass. Cara shakes her head and turns her sights back to the view which does nothing for her in terms of appreciating nature's beauty. That is if Cara were the sort of person to notice.

Cara hears a faint rumbling and then there are noticeable flashes of lightning in the clouds over the distant mountains. The very contradiction that the sun can be shining on one part of the landscape and Cara versus a cleansing and fierce drenching on another is but one of life's many enigmas. Cara hears another rumble of distant thunder but once that passes Cara hears another distinct sound. The sound of rapidly approaching hoof beats. Just one rider to be more specific. And Cara just knows who it is and she is suddenly surprised to find that she is equals parts hoping to be right and wrong. Being in Aydindril has thus far brought mostly confusion to Cara's life.

Cara turns away from the stormy vista to see a white horse complete with a certain Confessor astride it cresting over the hill. Cara shakes her head and starts walking towards the cluster of still green trees where she left her horse tied. Kahlan has obviously come to collect her but the question remains who squealed on Cara. What pair of eyes? The boy in the stables is the easy suspect but Cara doubts it. If Cara where not who she is it would be a safe bet to say that the horse has some kind of magical tracker on it. The animal doesn't to Cara's knowledge but just to be sure this will be their last ride together.

Cara stops at the cluster of tree and then ends up leaning against the trunk of a tree just shy of the one her horse is tied to. The animal is still eating; trying his best to get every blade of grass within his reach. Cara crosses her arms over her chest as Kahlan pulls on the reins of her horse and brings it to a halt. The tall white horse tosses its head to the side sending its long white mane off to the other side of its proud head. The horse is a magnificent animal and Kahlan dismounts it gracefully in her flowing white dress easily. Cara fleetingly thinks that she should've changed into her red leathers just to contrast with Kahlan instead of matching.

Unhelpfully, Cara's mind wanders over one of the comments she made last night about what the old Mord'Sith white leathers stood for and essentially what Kahlan's offer suggests. If Cara were to accept Kahlan's proposal, then the white leathers she's currently wearing would be more than just what Cara intended for them to signify. Cara's going to ignore all that noise cluttering up her thoughts for now though because Kahlan's frown is drawing closer along with the rest of her complete with the white horse trailing behind her. Cara really must find these squealers and put some fear into them or perhaps simply leaving Aydindril at the earliest convenience would be the wisest plan.

"I didn't peg you as the type to take in the views Aydindril has to offer this time of year." Kahlan announces with a smile while transferring the gathered reins to her horse's bridle from one hand to another. "Or were you just thinking about making your great escape?"

Cara huffs out an annoyed puff of air, "Surely, you didn't have to drag yourself away from your duties just to track me down, Kahlan?" Cara makes sure to draw out the Confessor's name since Kahlan had a small fit about being addressed by her title last night. "Don't you have an army of loyal minions for that?"

Kahlan smiles and then simply shrugs before leading her horse to another tree and then tying the reigns around the trunk similar to how Cara restrained her mount. The all black horse is still eating every scrap of green food in sight in a manner that would put Zedd's appetite to shame. Cara reasons that at least the horse has an excuse to put it away like that. Years ago every time Cara spared a glance at the old wizard whilst he was filling his maw she felt equals parts disgust and curiosity at where exactly he put all of his eats. Seeing as Zedd never went plump and always resembled a walking stick with long hair wearing an ugly dress.

"You still think this is some kind of game, don't you?"

Cara quirks an eyebrow up at Kahlan, "Either that or some sort of a test you've devised in apparent boredom."

Kahlan lightly laughs and once more Cara is struck by how amused Kahlan seems. Cara is merely stating her mind, nothing more. Cara drags her gaze over Kahlan's form and a thought strikes Cara. If Kahlan has plotted this all out, then she was armed last night on purpose and Cara can't help but wonder if the Confessor is armed now. Cara can't tell from this distance since Kahlan has never not concealed her daggers in some clever way that was still an easy draw for her.

"If you say so, Cara." Kahlan smiles and runs her hands along her horse's saddle. A small brown pack is tied to the saddle. Kahlan unties the satchel and then reaches inside and then pulls out a bright red apple. "Would you like one?"

"Are we having a picnic?" Cara smirks and uncrosses her arms over her chest. "Or are you trying to woo me with luscious fruits followed by more confessions of long held desires of shared passionate kisses from a time long since passed?"

Kahlan glares and then takes an angry bite out of her apple. But Cara is not about to apologize for going out of her way to antagonize Kahlan again. After all Cara was just out minding her own business when along came a Confessor. As Kahlan chews the morsel of her apple she turns her back to Cara and then offers the rest of the apple to her horse. The animal wraps it's flexible lips around the fruit and takes it out of Kahlan's open palm.

Kahlan smiles and runs her hand down her horse's forehead, "I shouldn't have waited so long to find you. I should've just came after you myself." Kahlan trails her fingers through the section of the long white mane that hangs down between the horse's ears. "Years ago."

Cara purses her lips and tilts her head to the side, "What for?"

"But I'm not a tracker though." Kahlan continues on despite Cara's harsh rebuttal. Cara suspects that Kahlan is going to ignore as many of Cara's biting remarks today as possible. "And the majority of people in the territories and the borderlands aren't either. Also, in my opinion they seem to enjoy feigning ignorance when it comes to your whereabouts." Kahlan brushes her fingers through her horse's mane, twisting the course hair slightly. Kahlan drops her hand from her horse and turns to face Cara once more. "Your actions, though while vastly different from how I would accomplish tasks, have inspired loyalty in them. I've barely been able to track you just within the last year alone. The last month was so quiet. It was as though you'd disappeared again."

The urge to march up to Kahlan and laugh in her face is nearly hard to suppress. Cara isn't inclined to dwell on her failure in regards to the young boy any more than she already does. That same failure is why Cara chose to take some time away from offering her services to others. But all the same Cara thinks that at last there is something the Confessor has no sway over nor is she privy to the why of it all. Cara's not inclined to share her thoughts on the matter either but Kahlan is free to keep guessing to her heart's content.

"Worrying about my well-being will only give you wrinkles, Kahlan." Cara purses her lips together. Kahlan still runs on pure emotion which is not a shock. "So perhaps you should consider hurrying along back to the palace and not lingering about the countryside?"

Kahlan scoffs and dips her chin before turning her icy-blue gaze directly on Cara, "You broke your word to me."

"Did it actually appear to you that I was attempting to leave and you caught me just in time?" Cara goes for being convincing as possible. Since thinking something is hardly the same as doing; truly acting on your every thought. "Obviously, I would never go about escaping on foot and just leave a perfectly good horse behind."

Kahlan smiles faintly and the breeze blows hard enough to send some of her dark curls across her face before she tucks them back behind one ear, "Not about that."

Cara fights to keep her face impassive. There's only one stipulation when Kahlan was laying down the law that Cara reneged on. Cara feels like teasing Kahlan on this. Especially since Cara is still trying to decide what in the actual fuck she's accomplishing by indulging the Confessor. Cara is of the mind to blame the tears Kahlan shamelessly shed in front of her. As a Mord'Sith Cara was trained to recognize that certain emotions make you weak and as Cara has learned over the years not a greater truth was spoken.

Cara refrains from rolling her eyes but only just, "You were serious about the whole not sleeping with anyone while I'm here?" Kahlan blushes but her gaze hardens. Both reactions please Cara greatly. "Mother Confessor, how many eyes do you have in the city to report on my every action?"

Kahlan straightens her posture and clasps her hands together in front, "I know I have no right to demand it but I don't understand how you can bed just any one that shows interest."

Cara shrugs, she doesn't have to explain her actions but if this is what it will take for Kahlan to consider retracting her offer then so be it. It goes without saying that bedding the barmaid last night had nothing to with offending Kahlan's delicate sensibilities. As long as Cara is alive, and has full control of her free will, she isn't going to deny herself in terms of her needs.

"I don't just bed anyone if you must know." Cara is mildly offended which is a first. "The barmaid came onto me. And if you want more details, so did the arrogant little shit of a bartender. But I wouldn't lie with him even if I could borrow another's body for the deed." The wind blows again and Cara pushes some of her shorter hair off her forehead. "The red-headed barmaid was another matter though. It was a cold night and we warmed the bed together." Cara smiles at the sight of Kahlan's deepening blush. "I'm not sorry."

Kahlan nods and then shrugs, "It's fine. I can see I was being foolish now." Kahlan relaxes her posture and turns away from Cara and starts walking towards her horse. "You haven't changed and you never will. You only care about yourself and that's fine for you."

Cara feels like she's been slapped across the face instead of the verbal assault of Kahlan's bitter sounding words, "If I don't then who will? If I've learned anything in this wretched life is that the only thing reliable about people is that they're unreliable!" Cara feels like a hypocrite which to be honest just further proves her point. "Which is why I only rely on myself!"

Cara despises having to shout but having to shout at Kahlan's back is enough to rankle her disposition more. It must be the fresh wave of anger but Cara has moment of clarity where she recalls how frustration and Kahlan Amnell go hand in hand. Cara could shout at Kahlan some more or let things stand as they are. Count making Kahlan angry enough to leave as a victory. But all of the sudden none of those thoughts sit well with Cara. So as Cara watches Kahlan fumble to undo the reins to her horse from around the tree it's with a growl that Cara quickly reaches up underneath her short jacket and frees her dagger from its hidden sheath that's built into the back of her leathers. Cara deftly aims and then throws the weapon.

The blade lands solidly in the tree where Kahlan's horse is still tied to. To the animal's credit he doesn't startle but Kahlan does, "What in the Creator's name is that!"

Cara grins at the sight of her spiraling dagger embedded a touch above where Kahlan tied the reins of her horse. The dagger's blade is darker, so as not to be seen at night or glint off the sun in daylight. Details make all the difference. The bladesmith told Cara that he utilized a stone blasting method that would hide scratches but the blade would be more prone to corrosion if it's not tended to properly. The custom designed blade has three sharpened edges in place of two since another piece of metal was twisted around the other while the blade was being forged. The blade is perfectly balanced even with its unusual turns.

"Surely you of all people know a dagger when you see one?" Cara notes Kahlan's hard glare with satisfaction. "And obviously it's my back up." Cara strides up to where Kahlan is to retrieve her knife. Cara pauses for a moment to glance over Kahlan, who appears to be insanely angry, but is still blushing. "I thought it best to have something different but that's as lethal as my Agiels in an equally valuable way."

Cara's not about to explain why she started carrying a dagger seven years ago either since she never gave it too much thought then beyond possibly being useful were she parted form her Agiels. But then again perhaps it wasn't one thing; getting used to being free of duty and the Rahl bond took an effort to adjust. More than likely it was an unconscious motive to replace not having a second; to not having any one to fight alongside of after spending so much of her life functioning that way.

Cara meets Kahlan's steely gaze, "And for someone who went to a fair amount of creative effort in tracking me down and getting my attention you suddenly don't have a very high opinion of me." Cara reaches up to grasp the black leather wrapped handle of the dagger and then pulls it free from the tree trunk. She'll have to sharpen it but at least she's made a valid and sharp point. "It feels familiar; just like old times, when you thought all I was worthy of was death by confession." Cara quickly slides the dagger up into the hidden sheath at the middle part of her back. "Next time you should be more careful with what you wish for, Kahlan. You just might get it."

Cara can tell that Kahlan is dying to spew more words than a sick Gar that ate someone that didn't agree with it. Cara isn't an expert in emotions in the same way she is with human stupidity and how it's predictable at every corner. But even Cara can see how Kahlan is holding back an apology. Cara needs no apology though; she's very far from fragile, emotionally and physically. That and Cara is of the mind that a woman who is a Queen like Kahlan doesn't apologize for her actions not if she wishes to remain Queen.

Kahlan bites down on her bottom lip for a moment, "Come to dinner this evening at the palace."

"Is that an order, Kahlan?"

"It's whatever you need it to be you hard-headed mule of a woman." Kahlan utters lowly, almost threatening. But then the furrows Cara notices on Kahlan's brow evens out and then Kahlan sighs. "Come to dinner or go already. No one will lift a finger to stop you."

Kahlan finishes untying the reins to her horse from around the tree, her movements somewhat jerky, Cara surmises that it's due to holding in on having a snit. Cara then notices a nick in the leather straps no doubt from her dagger. It's kind of funny how Kahlan has barely reacted outwardly to having a knife thrown at her. Kahlan moves past Cara and then elegantly mounts her large white horse. Kahlan quietly gazes at Cara and then turns her horse and rides away at a slow gallop before finally picking up speed. Kahlan's long dark hair a sharp contrast of the pure white of her dress and horse.

Cara more or less feels like she missed something again and that bothers her. But not enough that she's going to expend any real mental effort ruminating on it. In point of fact it's just another thing to add to the accumulating pile. The cool wind blows again and then there's another rumble of thunder and by the sound of it the storm isn't going to pass by this area. Cara scoffs and turns away from Kahlan's diminishing vision in white form before she disappears over the crest of the hill. Dinner should be interesting but perhaps it would be better if they both quit while they're ahead.

Chapter Text


 

Imprecisely Nine Years Ago...

 

The temperature has dropped rapidly which is a sharp contrast. The desert has ways of perpetuating a unique brand of uncomfortable misery. During the daylight hours it feels that if you don't go blind by the sun then surely you will be cooked alive by it but at night it's frigid. The moon is absent but a long string of stars, with a purple-blue glow framing the crooked lines have turned the sky into an abstract celestial tapestry. To add to the strangeness there is no sound aside from the faint ambient wind blowing across the sand which causes Cara to repress the urge to shiver even though no one is around to witness her moment of weakness.

Today has been a day of extremes in every way. Cara had never sweated in her leathers before like she did on this day. Cara's quite relieved that it's all over now or at least some things. Cara's hearing picks up on a scurrying hustle nearby which is more than likely a small lizard. If Cara has to listen to Zedd complain about lack of enough food, then she'll offer up one those lizards since there seems to be plenty of them around. For now, Zedd is mostly quiet and curled up on his bedroll. The old wizard's snoring that can wake the dead hasn't started yet but in a few more minutes that will change. Things could be worse though.

For instance, having to be in the vicinity of Kahlan and Richard basking in the glow of victory and their love that cannot be touched by confession is quickly crossing the threshold into excruciating. Cara foolishly thought they were a pitiful sight beforehand but now Cara realizes it will only get unbearable from here on out for her. Cara removes the stick she's using to stir the fire and holds it out straight over the crackling flames. The end is burning blue from the fire but it's also littered with scant embers flickering off, on then off. The end is horribly burned but there's jagged lines of fire still trying to burn itself into the wood.

Cara hears giggling in the distance which Zedd's deepening slumber is probably blocking out that sound for him. Maybe when he starts snoring it'll shield Cara's ears too. Perhaps Zedd's nighttime breathing pattern will prove to be useful beyond having the ability to keep a person on guard duty from succumbing to sleep. Cara knows what's about to happen between Kahlan and Richard and she suddenly wishes the two twittering lovebirds had gone further away. Or maybe Cara should be the one to fix the situation by being the one to move far out of hearing range. Cara grimaces and then jams her make-shift fire poker into the sand and decides to do just that.

Cara's boots sink and slip with each step she takes in the sand. Hopefully, her leathers are laced tight enough to have kept the sand out. Leaving this barren and ruined place can't arrive soon enough since Cara has no interest in spending her first night back in civilization cleaning sand out of all of her places. Cara moves up the half buried and broken set of stairs until she arrives at the cluster of equally fractured pillars of Creation. Cara wonders if the metaphor is too obvious for less blunt types whereas Cara appreciates the directness that creation will essentially always be broken. Kahlan and Richard are the types that believe a utopia will emerge. Cara is a realist.

Cara takes a deep breath and continues on past the many columns. With each step Cara almost feels winded but she is most certainly not. Maybe it's just her imagination or the wind but Cara can still hear them. Not whatever degree of blushing fumbling and hand jobs they've progressed to but all that she's endured being around them over the course of the quest. The last time Cara found any amusement in the circumstances was when Kahlan was torn into two people; Kahlan was eager to shed her chastity faster than she could tear off her leather dress. Cara shakes her head at the images her active mind conjures and how they're probably happening for real this time with Kahlan being of sound mind and body.

Richard will be unbearable now. Early on Cara had to develop the stomach to tolerate how stupid Richard acts around Kahlan in light of her obvious attractiveness. And serving a Lord Rahl who is in love isn't something Cara was trained for. Cara doesn't foresee Richard having mistresses, taking random lovers or even indulging in his Mord'Sith. Not that Cara has ever truly wanted to service Richard; such a notion has rarely ever entered her thoughts. She certainly doesn't crave his touch or other intimate forms of his attentions. Cara has done her duty to the best of her ability. But things won't be the same anymore, in better ways and not so much ways as well.

Cara stops walking and reaches for the handle of one of her Agiels. At the barest touch a pain lances up her arm and it's so familiar that Cara grips the handle as if her life depends upon it and in some perverse way it does. The old ways are over; Cara has known that for some time now. But even if things hadn't changed already Richard is too soft to allow new Mord'Sith to be trained in the original methods that is if he even allows the order to survive. Cara finds herself hoping Richard won't be that stupid. The Dragon Corps serve their purpose as do the Mord'Sith but the latter cannot be expected to fill such a void that her order fulfills.

Cara lets go of her Agiel and glances across the dark horizon. The skyline has this pink rim at the edge of the world but tomorrow morning is still many hours away. Cara is of the mind that all the magic that was expelled earlier altered things like a healed wound leaving a scar behind to go along with the memory. Cara has accumulated even more memories, both good and bad, since she joined the Seeker. It began not quite a year ago though when Denna had Richard wrapped around her finger. Cara smirks at remembering the sight of Richard under Denna and then moves to sit down on a short stump that was once a tall pillar. The cold stone is barely a better seat than the sand-covered ground.

Denna, the Mord'Sith who disgraced herself just in a different manner than perhaps Cara did. In a way Richard taunting her by saying she was afraid of eating a grub worm was the beginning of Cara's downfall. Cara of course grabbed a handful of those worms to show Richard who he was dealing with. The recollection of Richard's shock and disgust at watching Cara devour the worms and dirt without flinching or spitting them out causes Cara to roll her eyes. Cara firmly stands by her deduction that Richard is too soft. He is only somewhat formidable with the Sword of Truth in his hand and fueling a truly useful emotion like anger. But Richard is just one problem Cara inherited.

The other more troubling element to Cara than anything at present is the Mother Confessor, Kahlan. Or rather the sentiments Cara has developed completely against her will. Cara flexes her right hand while she remembers exactly how she couldn't bring herself to loose her arrow at Kahlan even though she had the mad, and spelled by that witch-bitch Nicci, Mother Confessor in down the line of her arrow. Cara can't decide whether she failed or succeeded even though for all intents they won and sealed the veil. Cara's failure begins and ends with Richard and Kahlan now. And Cara failed to protect them both from outside influence and themselves.

Cara glances up at the night sky as a rogue dying star swiftly streaks across the sky; going out in a blaze, Cara realizes she has failed to protect herself too. Staying with the Seeker is out of question. And the only question that means anything at this confusing time is should Cara quietly slip away now or wait until they're on the road to Aydindril before making her exit? For a few shallow breaths Cara feels like she's betraying Richard for thinking such thoughts but that feeling ebbs away with another deep breath. In the past and at any other time Cara would regard her thoughts of desertion as blasphemous but that was before Richard and everything else he brought with him.

 


 

No sooner than Cara closes the door of her room behind her that she notices the bed has been made and all evidence of Cara's and the barmaid's tryst is no longer there. Cara abruptly realizes that she doesn't remember the barmaid's name; asking for it or the other woman specifically giving it. Cara shrugs since it hardly matters unless the red-head decides to come back. Cara doubts that even if she were to go to Ambrosio's barely more than a look of acknowledgement would pass between them. But Cara already has other plans for this evening and they weren't her idea or even her suggestion. Dinner with Kahlan should be something to behold.

Cara hadn't actually decided to indulge this newest request from Kahlan until she arrived back at the stables barely a half an hour ago. Cara informed the stable boy that the fine black horse was one she found in the woods and wouldn't be needing the animal any longer. The stable boy then suggested that he could point her in the direction of someone who will sell Cara another animal. Cara feigned disinterest in the offer for now. If Cara sees that escape is her only option out of Aydindril then she's not about to make it easy for a person take her bought horse away. It'll be harder to do that when she has no horse that they know of anyway.

Cara strides to the only chair in the room that faces a pitifully small window that overlooks a small stream behind the inn and then sits down. Cara stretches out her legs in front of her and then crosses them at the ankles. Aydindril hasn't proven to be anything but mostly common thus far. Cara truly never had the slightest inclination to ever be in this place again. Of course Cara also thought that Kahlan was happily tied to Richard and popping out babies as fast as they could make them all while smiling. Cara could nearly admit that she is happy to be wrong. Cara frowns though and then starts roughly pulling off her gloves one by one before forcefully tossing them to the floor.

Cara's going to dress for this dinner in the same manner that she would if she were marching off into combat. Nothing less than her red leathers will do for tonight. Cara needs her strongest armor for reasons she's not even half-way ready to concede to. Cara thinks back on Kahlan's accusations about being self-centered. That's only true to the point of self-preservation and that only goes so far. Kahlan appears to have forgotten that about Cara. Perhaps at some time in the passing years Kahlan has saw fit to romanticize the past. Their past. Even though they scarcely have one. And silly game or not Cara's come to the conclusion that this will be her last night in Aydindril for the sake of what dignity she possesses.

 


 

Loosely Seven Years Ago...

 

The bathwater is cooling off too quickly. Cara frowns and sits up straighter in the bathtub; draping her arms along the sides of the tub. Thus far Cara can say the large heated baths from any one of the Mord'Sith temples is the only thing she will truly miss. Cara hasn't lost track of time soaking away her sweat in luxury though. As loathe as she would be to ever admit it aloud Cara is sore from where she came off her horse when the stupid beast threw a shoe earlier in the day. The bathwater has helped immensely with the forming bruises and other souvenirs though it is making Cara's fingertips wrinkled and vastly softer.

Cara glances across the room to where she left her new leathers lying on the bed. It's been three months give or take a week since Cara donned her new leathers and she's still becoming acquainted with the feel of them. They of course fit properly and better if Cara's being brutally honest since they're nowhere near as restrictive as her old red Mord'Sith combat leathers. The freedom of movement of the new leathers has made Cara faster than ever. Cara's even decided that she's going to have a white set made in time but for now her new red and black leathers are ideal. People have begun to look at her differently when they dare to gape at her at all.

But Cara's starting to miss the fear she used to inspire on sight to a point. Now she supposes the only trepidation she'll ever garner is when she takes her time considering whether or not to turn down the person asking for her aide. Then again there's always the option of putting fear into the individual that's about to know the sting of her Agiels. Cara briefly smirks and then reaches for the wrung washcloth she spread out on the rim of the tub. Cara dips the cloth in the fragrant-smelling water and then wrings some of the water out again. Cara places the washcloth on her face and then leans back in the tub until her back is resting comfortably against the curve.

"Unhh! Unhh! Unhh!"

The high-pitched moaning is muffled just enough for Cara to be amused for a moment. This is a brothel after all so it being quiet enough to listen to the night insects as you fall into sex-induced nap isn't likely to happen. In a brothel the sounds of sex are what you'll fall asleep to if you're worn out enough.

"Unhh! Unhh! Unhh! Unhh!"

Cara shifts in the tub and smiles as the sounds of her neighbors through the thin walls grow louder. Cara laughs a little under her breath. All the racket will stop being funny in time. After all the woman is being paid to put on this kind of a show by and for a man so the whole thing should be over in a few minutes. Most men have no real stamina any more than they possess self-control.

"Unhh! Unhh! Oh! Yeah! Unhh! Harder! Harder!"

There's banging and thumping sounds now to go along with the woman's moaning. Probably the headboard of the bed banging against the wall or perhaps the ordeal is being done standing up against the wall? Cara's had experience with all indulging in all manners of the flesh in various settings and positions. But somewhere in all of that experience Cara prefers using a bed to any other surface particularly if a bed is readily available.

"Oh! Harder! Don't Stop! There! Unhh! Unhh! Yes! Aah! Ohh! Aah! Ohh! Aaahh! Aah! Aah! Aah!"

Cara frowns and for an instance she considers sliding down in the tub and submerging her head under the water to drown out the noises that's becoming as obnoxious as a very loud snore. These are exactly the kinds of faking it noises women feel compelled to make that Cara despises. But it's assured that the sounds have the grunting man's ego bursting along with his ready to spurt manhood. The woman is being paid to fake it though. Cara rolls her eyes under the washcloth as the performance continues at a disturbingly growing volume.

"Yeah! More! Give it to me! Aaahh! Aaahh!" The woman shouts out. Then there's a low distinctly male groan now that's as elevated as the woman's airy-squealing moans and then the man echoes out his own chant. "Ohh! Ohh! Ohh!" There's a difficult to miss thud and then the woman starts all over again and even louder. "Yes! Ohh! Aaahh! Again! Ohhh! Unhh! Unhh! Unhh!"

Cara shakes her head and clenches the sides of the bathtub tight with both hands. If the lovely and voluptuous dark-haired and dark-eyed woman Cara bought this evening were here Cara would drown out the dimwits next door with a real performance. But Cara's lover for the night has yet to arrive. Cara requested a bath first and that her paid for lover come directly to the room in an hour.

"Ohh! Ohh! Aaahh! Aaahh! Aah! Aah! Aah! Aah!"

On the topic of coming it sounds like the follow-up isn't too far off and Cara's thankful. The man has certainly gotten his money's worth in Cara's estimation and she's not even in the same room. Though Cara may as well be since the only sound she's being deprived of is those wet smacking noises of flesh meeting mixed in with the clicking sound of bodily fluids reacting to the friction.

"Ohh! Ohh! Ohh! Fuck!"

Cara huffs out an aggravated sigh at the man's horrendously audible climax but as she reaches up to remove the drying washcloth from her face Cara feels a cool and distinctly sharp blade on her throat. Unfortunately, Cara's Agiels are on the bed with the rest of her new uniform.

"So this is what you do with your coin?" The voice is gruff and Cara surmises that it must belong to that of an older man's not some blushing boy. "I'm not judging you." The blade presses against Cara's throat a touch more but not enough to break the skin yet. Cara lowers her hand to grip the side of the bathtub again. "But I am disappointed to learn that this is the best a former Mord'Sith can do."

Cara's fingers twitch on the cool sides of the metal tub, "Who are you?"

"Nobody."

Cara swallows down her growing irritation. She isn't about to congratulate him but taunting isn't out of the question. Cara isn't feeling vulnerable in slightest about being caught naked in the bath. Cara fondly recalls putting Triana in her place in a similar setting. No, Cara's annoyance is the fact that this man has the upper hand. For now. Because while Cara might not have her main weapons she is hardly defenseless. The fool will learn that fact in due time.

"Is this the best idea you could come up with?"

The man laughs and Cara feels his hot breath brush by her shoulder, "It worked didn't it? I just had to wait until you were drunk enough and asked for a bath."

Cara's eyebrow rises on her forehead. This one is observant and has planned well. But his success is squarely on Cara's shoulders not his whether he knows it or not. Cara has been living rather carelessly though, drinking too much and staying brothels more often than inns. In short Cara knows that she has become predictable to anyone who desires to learn her routine. But Cara is beginning to take steps to rid herself of this brand of weakness she's invited in. Cara's new job and leathers are just a start down a different path.

Cara sighs lowly, "And what of the woman who is expected to the room soon?" The question is meant to make the fool comfortable in a sense. Cara isn't giving away anything pertinent. For this man to have gotten this far he must already know. Never mind that Cara doesn't need another person in this room that will just be in the way. "Have you taken that into account as well?"

The man laughs again, "Hmm, I fucked her real good for you downstairs. It was money well spent." Cara feels the blade break the skin; making a swallow cut. "It's been a long time since I got my dick wet. So thanks for that, Mason."

Cara grips the sides of the tub harder. Cara is not about to sit in this cold bathwater let alone die in it. But if this man is the first of more like him that's going to be coming her way in the future then Cara's going to get as much easy information as she can. The man thinks he's won after all. He's wrong of course but that's just another thing he doesn't know about yet.

"You know who I am?"

The man scoffs, "I wouldn't be here if I didn't."

Cara's mind filters through all the usual motives for someone to exact revenge on her. The trouble with it all though is her true Mord'Sith days have been done with for two years now. Then there's the time she spent with the Seeker on his quest to save this miserable world. Cara was and still is fuzzy about whether or not she earned redemption but in the end she decided that it didn't matter. All that matters now for better or worse is that Cara's life is her own for once in her life. She answers to no one but herself. There are no more orders or notions of duty above all else.

Cara purses her lips and the rough fabric of the washcloth brushes against them, "And what exactly are you here for?"

"Your blood." The man growls out. Cara imagines he's sporting a very smug grin about not. The fool truly thinks he's taken the victory and is taking the time to gloat. "The rest of you might be just as satisfying too before I'm done."

The washcloth over Cara's eyes is not quite like a blindfold since it's letting in some of the candlelight in the room. Cara paid for the room as well as the company, that this moron may or may not have taken, thanks to Cara's coin purse. Any other time and in better circumstances Cara makes use of every candle provided in rooms. Not to mention when Cara secures such a visually stirring lover she likes to have the lights on when taking her pleasure.

"So that's what kind of man you are?" Cara's not looking for a confirmation or a gush of pride from this imbecile who has successfully gotten on her last nerve. "If you were serious about your intentions about wanting my blood then you should've slit my throat already." Cara smirks as she imagines doing that very thing if their roles were reversed. "I wouldn't have hesitated if I were in your position. Conversation is overrated at the best of times much less times like we're in now. But you're proud of yourself. I get it."

Cara feels the knife dig in and for a slow breath she's certain that he's going to take her advice. Creator knows he's wasted enough time likely taking in eyefuls of Cara's nakedness on display. Cara hopes that he's enjoyed the view since it will be the last naked woman he lays eyes on in this life. The pressure of the blade on Cara's throat lessens just enough then and Cara takes it as an invitation to make a move. Cara deftly slides down in the cold bathwater; the move causes the knife to graze up her throat as she tilts her head back. But she's never been one to notice little scratches that amount to nothing. Death is the notable exception.

The bathwater sloshes over the side and Cara reaches up and quickly snatches the washcloth off her face and tosses it. Focusing on her target Cara sees that the man looks a little rough around the edges in regards to his clothes and he has a full but well kempt beard but more importantly he's no one that Cara recognizes. He stumbles forward on the wet floor to try to close the scant space Cara has managed to put between them. He has a sizeable knife, at least as long as Cara's arm, and there's some blood on the blade. Cara doesn't bother with reaching up to feel her neck. She already knows that it'll amount to nothing but she'll still check on it later after the situation is properly dealt with.

The man lunges for her and Cara simply and swiftly hits his wrist and his knife drops into the bathwater with a big splash. Cara really is giving him a show now but that won't matter in a few more seconds. Cara twists and then bends his wrist and he lets out a howl of pain. The man's knees buckle under the pressure Cara applies. His arm now belongs to her and she could snap it out of its socket if she wanted. And with another twist Cara could snap every small bone in his wrist but this is about taking back control that he tried to steal. For the moment though Cara really needs to get out of the bathtub before she loses her footing or worse.

Cara gives the man's wrist and sharp bend upwards and then punches him hard right in the nose. Cara feels and hears the bone in his nose snap. Cara smirks and then shoves him backwards and he goes sprawling on his back to the floor. Cara steps out of the tub while the fool on the floor whines and clutches his hands over his broken and no doubt gushing blood nose. Cara knows that this could get messy. She may have to order another bath. This is why her leathers will always be red since no amount of blood can change or alter the color. Cara stops for a moment and then reaches into the bathwater and pulls out the moron's knife that he used on her.

The water drips off the large blade which looks old but it's still sharp. The weight of the knife in Cara's hand feels odd. The knife may not be balanced; it's more than likely spent more time skinning and carving up more deer and other game than people. Cara smirks as the man groans and rolls over on his stomach while he tries to get to his feet. Cara is not the type to stab someone in the back, she never was, she's always believed in honorable deaths when deserved. Cara's not certain what kind of death this man has earned though. He's currently spitting out blood on the floor and cursing Cara's name under his breath.

Cara holds the handle of the knife firmly in her hand and then throws it down towards the floor but out of his reach. The knife's point embeds itself in the flooring; the handle wobbles from the momentum faintly before settling. Cara swiftly grabs the man by his shoulders and then wraps one arm around his neck while bracing her other arm behind his head. This move will cut off the blood supply to his stupid head and if Cara holds on long enough it will kill him. The man predictably struggles but he's still dazed from the expertly delivered punch to the face and blood loss. Cara's hand will be sore later but it will be worth it.

Cara puts more of her weight against his back and squeezes harder. A harsh gasp rushes from him and he falls to the floor with Cara on top of him. She could stop and go get one of her Agiels but this feels better. An Agiel would be cleaner though and she wouldn't have touch him at all. The man reaches up and tries to claw at Cara's arm that's crushing his neck. But his fingers lose purchase though in the small space, Cara's damp skin, and also because of the slick yet drying blood on his hands. Cara grits her teeth as another strained puff of air rushes out of the man and he goes limp. Cara debates on whether or not to keep holding on since he's not dead yet.

Cara still has the Breath of Life at her disposal. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to give this man a taste of death and then revive him? Some people can't be taught after all but they can be trained. Cara sighs heavily and then releases her hold on the fool's neck. Cara pushes up off his body and then sits back on her heels. There's blood smeared on her right arm in three long jagged streaks. Cara sneers at the sight and gets to her feet and pads over to the bathtub with the large ring of water around it that sloshed out over the edges. Cara dips her hands into the water and washes the blood off. The soapy water tints slightly until the blood is absorbed by the volume of water.

Cara turns away from the tub and with wet hands she moves towards the bed where her red leathers are laid out. Cara has yet to decide what she will do with her uninvited guest but one things for sure she won't be enjoying the touch of a beautiful woman tonight. Cara wipes her wet hands off on the bedcovers before reaching for her leathers. Cara laid them out before bathing with the intention of folding and placing them on the one chair in the room later before her company arrived. Cara sits down on the bed and stares at the man laid out on the floor. It's been a stretch of time since someone tried to kill her. Cara idly wonders if it's worth the bother of learning why.

Regardless of what follows though Cara will not be so careless again. Sleeping or bathing with an Agiel is out of the question so perhaps another weapon is in order. A dagger might be useful under the pillow and other such occasions. They worked well enough for a certain Confessor. Cara remembers how intensely and effortlessly her and Kahlan fought side by side together. How Cara instinctively knew when to duck when Kahlan would throw her daggers with deadly accuracy. One time in particular stands out in Cara's memory; during a battle with the Sister's of the Dark both Kahlan's daggers flew by Cara's head taking out two of those stupid witches at the same time.

 


 

With one glance around the room before sitting down at the far from grand in scale table Cara thinks there's too many candles again. Kahlan believing in high romance is not new information. Neither is whatever Kahlan's got planned for this evening beyond sharing a meal, a few heated glances and likely an exchange of forceful words. The last part is just an educated guess on Cara's part since she's not about to accept Kahlan's offer under any circumstances. Kahlan will not be happy but Cara has no wish to be responsible for the Confessor's happiness or any other duties that are more akin to providing a service.

Cara is still of the mind that if Kahlan had made an offer after the quest instead of fawning all over the Seeker there would've been no resistance back then on Cara's part. Cara would've become Kahlan's companion without hesitation. It wouldn't even have bothered Cara when Kahlan took a male lover to provide Aydindril with heirs. It might've been fun to watch unless there were feelings involved and then there might've been pain. Cara sighs under her breath and pulls out the chair; letting it scrape loudly against the floor, at the opposite end of the table and then sits down.

Reflecting on a past that doesn't exist is fruitless. As for now this is all news to Cara; learning of the affection Kahlan has carried for her through the years. Cara reluctantly spent the portions of afternoon and the time she was dressing for dinner thinking on their interactions since she was lured to Aydindril. Cara supposes getting to throw a dagger at Kahlan Amnell and to still be standing after is all the free payback Cara will ever get for Kahlan's many stunts. Cara feels her lips curling up into a smile at the thought of the impressive Mother Confessor. Cara quickly forces the smile off her face. Kahlan will not win at whatever game she's trying to get Cara to play.

A servant escorted to Cara to this obviously informal dining area while Kahlan has yet to grace Cara with her presence. Cara reaches for the goblet sitting by her empty plate only to find it dry of any beverage. Kahlan's going to keep her waiting. Cara rolls her eyes; she should've made an effort to be late if this is the way Kahlan's going to play tonight. Cara feels like she should've seen this coming, like she should've known there would be some petty punishments for her indiscretion with the barmaid. By breaking her word by having an enjoyable evening with a lovely red-head. Cara doesn't go for red-heads all that much since the dark beauties are the most alluring of them all.

Of course Cara is fully aware that Kahlan falls very firmly in the dark beauty category but that's neither here nor there. Cara glances around the room but she's not really seeing anything just imagining what's beyond the walls. The Confessor's Palace is more understated yet every bit as elegant as the People's Palace. This place is meant to be a beacon in white nestled up in the mountains and taking the high ground was intelligent planning on behalf of the builders. No angle of attack would be favorable unless you had the element of surprise and even then that would work only for one wave so it would have to be a barrage assault.

"Should I be alarmed that you felt the need to wear red leather to dinner?" Kahlan's voice pulls Cara out of her musings. Cara pushes back her chair and stands out of respect for her host, a Queen, instead of behaving like an ass. "I was just getting used to seeing you in white."

Cara chooses not to comment and simply sits back down in her seat. The small dining hall is oppressively quiet. And Cara watches as Kahlan bypasses the other chair at the opposite end of the short table and moves closer towards her. This feels like a setup to Cara. The notion of having dinner is apparently not what this arrangement is about. Cara grits her teeth and forces herself to remain unaffected and detached on the surface.

"When did you start carrying a dagger?" Kahlan's smile grows as she approaches. Cara tries to focus on the sound of the fabric of Kahlan's dressing brushing along the floor to drown out the effect of seeing Kahlan's bright smile. "Where did you even get a dagger like that?"

Cara fights against the urge to rise as Kahlan stops just shy of being far too close, "Obviously, I acquired the dagger from a bladesmith." Cara looks up and directly into Kahlan's eyes and the playful glint in them. "And I started carrying it after someone tried to kill me in the bath of all places."

Kahlan takes another step closer and then sits down on the side of the table. The action is certainly not lady-like; not that Cara cares about such things. But then an invited thought creeps into Cara's thoughts and it's something along the lines of: If only Kahlan were wearing her leather traveling dress with those two front slits then there would be a considerable amount of thigh within reach. Cara frowns as she realizes that her eyes, seemingly having a mind of their own, have drifted down to Kahlan's covered thighs.

"When did that happen?"

Cara glances off to the side before meeting Kahlan's gaze once more, "At least seven years ago now." Cara barely recalls what the fool looked like. But she does remember how she discouraged him from trying to take up arms against her again. "It was during one of my stays in a brothel I'd begun to frequent." Cara notes a pleasing blush starting to rise on Kahlan's cheeks at the admission. "I was reckless and let my guard down to a shameful degree. I indulged in too much ale back then which is the only reason he had the upper hand for as long as he did."

Kahlan lowly clears her throat, "Did you kill him?"

Cara remembers breaking his nose with one punch along with two teeth. Cara didn't know about the teeth until the man awoke after she choked him out and spat them at her along with a mouthful of blood. Cara was already annoyed to no end and it was a struggle not to find a set of chains and show that man true pain. Cara resisted though since she had no wish to spend even more of her time in his presence. Cara did however let him get closely acquainted with the touch of her Agiels before advising him to go back to where he came from. The man almost swallowed his own tongue before relenting. Cara thinks that not only did he forget her name but possibly his own for a while.

"No, I didn't kill him. But I wanted to since he was going to demand nothing less from me." Cara refrains from reaching up to her neck where there is a thin scar. The man's knife did just enough damage to leave behind a faint reminder that didn't require a stitch but left a mark nonetheless. "Now how about you tell me something like are we having dinner sometime this evening? Or do you wish to skip right to dessert, Kahlan?”

Kahlan's brow furrows, "Dessert?"

"Don't play coy, Confessor." Cara rolls her eyes and she puts extra emphasis in the action so as to make sure Kahlan doesn't miss it. "Let's not forget why you want me here in Aydindril."

Cara is playing one of her favorite roles and that is all-knowing with smug indifference. Cara doesn't have a good reason so far as to why she's still in Aydindril. It's all a blurry mystery to her but Kahlan doesn't need to know that. Cara will find some form of clarity tonight before washing her hands of this place.

"I see." Kahlan frowns but then a little crooked smile graces her lips and she quickly moves off the table and then pushes Cara's chair back with force. Before Cara can truly react Kahlan promptly sits down in Cara's lap. Cara is shaken by the speed and at Kahlan's brazenness. "You mean something that starts like this?"

Cara's heart is pounding in her chest. If Kahlan had straddled her then Cara would've lost this game for sure in an instant. How this situation escalated or deteriorated depending on your point of view Cara isn't certain. This is the closest Cara's been to Kahlan since the tomb ordeal that Cara can't seem to free her mind from among other things regarding the Confessor. Obviously, Kahlan's bold move was fueled by anger or at the very least irritation since Cara was unsubtlety goading her.

Cara keeps her hands firmly on the handrests of the chair, "Get off me."

"Why?" Kahlan seems to taunt as she leans in closer; if such a thing is even possible. The Confessor feels rather solid in Cara's lap. Kahlan weight more than her lithe appearance alludes to. Kahlan is absurdly tall though for a woman. "Is this not how you see my offer? Is this not what you want?"

Cara concedes in her mind that's a fair assessment. It would seem that the both of them are making snap judgements about one another. Kahlan smiles and then she timidly places her hands on both of Cara's cheeks. This is it. This is the moment where Kahlan leans in to decimate Cara's resolve. But quick like a lightning strike Cara lets go of one of the chair's armrests and then deftly unsheathes one of her Agiels. Cara briefly presses it to Kahlan's bare forearm where the sleeve of her dress has slid up.

"Spirits, Cara!" Kahlan shouts but still her tender grip on Cara's face doesn't waver. Cara's hand trembles even though she's gripping her Agiel as though her life depends on it and perhaps it does. And that's not the first time Cara has thought such a thing. "Put that thing away! Please?"

This doesn't feel like a fight that can be won or lost but Cara does feel the bitter stirrings of submission and that is something she cannot abide by. Cara grips her Agiel tighter; the faint vibration travels no further than the palm of her hand instead of an intense pain shooting up her arm the way her original Agiels did when she held them. Cara is not dropping her weapon though so she simply places back into its holder on her hip.

Cara glares up at Kahlan's blue eyes defiantly, "What are you waiting for?"

Kahlan sighs and then with the lightest of touches she brushes her thumbs along Cara's cheeks, "You actually think that I would take you by force? Do you think that little of me?"

Cara knows that Kahlan would not. But Cara's not going to be vulnerable tonight or any other night so instead she smirks and hollow as it might be she tries her best not to fold under the weight of Kahlan's touch. Or at the sensation of the other woman's body leaning in that much more.

Cara bites down on her bottom lip for a moment, "You would not be the first."

Kahlan sighs and then her eyelids flutter closed, "I wish that I could undo all the unnecessary awful things that has happened to you." Kahlan opens her eyes and those icy-blue orbs are shining now. Cara feels like throwing Kahlan off her lap at the sight of them. Consequences be damned for resorting to that if this goes on for much longer. "That also includes all the events since we parted too many years ago that have made you more distrustful."

Cara thinks that possibly hanging in chains, naked and bloody, might be preferable to this. Cara can't decide if Kahlan feels pity for her or Kahlan's simply taking a page out of Richard's book of conduct on how to be magnanimous without a hint of condescension. Kahlan's gentle caresses on Cara's face haven't relented and Cara's still battling internally with trying to appear annoyed and unaffected.

Cara takes a shallow breath through her mouth since the last thing she needs is to accidentally breathe in Kahlan's scents, "What is it that you really want from me? And don't start in with that wanting a companion drivel again."

Kahlan frowns and then thankfully the distracting touches of her fingers grazing Cara's face finally ceases, "It's not drivel." Cara lets go of the chair's armrests with the intention of forcibly removing Kahlan's hands but then the Confessor leans in close enough that Cara feels her breath against her lips. Cara freezes. "Spirits, you're still the most exquisitely beautiful woman I've ever laid eyes upon." Kahlan sounds breathless to Cara's ears and if Cara were inclined to speak she'd probably be suffering from the same indignity. "And just like every time I even think of the color red the color green has the same effect. I've never forgotten your beguiling green eyes."

Cara doesn't know what to do with such praise and apparent devotion being directed at her so freely and all without the aid of training. These are not pretty lies. And this is nothing like listening to Darken loving to hear himself talk while he decided on how best to use Cara's attractive body. But Cara doesn't submit to anyone's will but her own.

Cara grips the chair's armrests again since that seems to be a safer place for Cara to hold onto her sanity a while longer, "You're an infuriating woman, Confessor."

Kahlan grins and then shifts her weight on Cara's lap, "So are you. But I still think that you're also wonderful in your own way."

Cara knows that she is at a crossroads. Kahlan feels good against her body. Cara's lap is getting very warm and Cara's not certain it's just from the shared body heat. Cara is not shocked to notice that she is becoming very aroused. How could she not with a beautiful woman perched on her lap? Cara rolls her eyes because this would be so much simpler if it wasn't Kahlan. The way Kahlan is silently gazing at her is leaving Cara feeling like her heart is going to give out from the stress and tension. Kahlan's hands slowly move from Cara's cheeks to rest just along her jawline.

Cara licks her lips, "No one can put me under a spell. Not even you. That much has not changed about me, nor will it." Kahlan tilts her head to the side and smiles. "I can still repel magic. Only better now than any of the average Mord'Sith born of these times."

Kahlan smiles wider as her thumb grazes along the skin just below Cara's lower lip. Cara exhales sharply at the caress. Cara wonders when Kahlan become such a subtle seductress? But no sooner than Cara readies a verbal barb to insinuate when such an occurrence was honed Kahlan leans in the rest of the distance to rest her forehead against Cara's leather-clad chest. Kahlan's hair tickles the small space just above Cara's collar; the sensitive skin along her jawline. Cara closes her eyes. There will be no leaving Aydindril tonight that's for sure.

"I really have missed you." Kahlan's voice is low; she sounds like she's on the verge of tears. Cara really hopes the Confessor doesn't start up that crying nonsense again. "I've thought about you every day since we've been apart."

Cara bites down on her lower lip again. She doesn't cuddle. Ever. But dammit here she is sitting in a chair in a private dining hall doing something alarmingly close. It's entirely Kahlan's fault though obviously. If the chair's armrests were someone’s neck they would be past being strangled to death by Cara's hands. In fact, Cara's hands are beginning to tremble from holding on so tightly. Cara dreads letting go.

"Kahlan, you don't owe me anything and I don't owe you anything." Cara breathes in a shallow breath and loosens her deathgrip on the chair's armrests, letting them fall into the small space on the sides between her body and the chair. "There's no need to mince words in order to address the amount of time that has passed."

Kahlan's head springs up off Cara's chest; her blue eyes darting over Cara's face, "But we could've..."

Kahlan's voice fails and she blushes. Cara is of the opinion that this is the moment where one of them needs to come to an understanding on who is going to kiss who. A kiss is just a kiss to Cara; it ensures nothing. But Cara is aware that a kiss will mean a great deal more to Kahlan if it makes her feel something. It's always about feelings with Kahlan which is how Cara got into the mess in the first place. Cara's not strictly thinking of this current mess but all of it. The past included.

Cara raises an eyebrow at the lingering silence, "Could've what, Kahlan?"

Cara knows what the Confessor is hinting at but that was years ago and Kahlan gave no indication that her interests in Cara ran so hot in the past. Back then it was Richard, Richard, Richard. Sure, Kahlan told Cara just the other evening that the love she felt for the Seeker withered on the vine in the harsh light of day but who's to say this is going to be any different. Cara will not allow herself to be used like that.

Kahlan sighs heavily, "You're really still going to be that stubborn?"

Cara smirks, "I've been conditioned to please in my own way."

Kahlan frowns and then slaps her hand lightly against Cara's chest, "Stop that." Cara is on the verge of rolling her eyes when Kahlan smiles nervously and then glances off to the side as though there is suddenly something of profound interest crawling on the floor. Kahlan exhales deeply and then turns those blue eyes back on Cara. "Tell me, when did you have your bond removed?"

Cara's fingers twitch against the armrests. She truly has an almost insane urge to throw Kahlan off her lap with impunity. There is no room for secrets in this Creator-forsaken place apparently. Cara's not sure if Kahlan's reading her or not. Perhaps Kahlan doesn't have all-seeing eyes watching Cara's every move; maybe Kahlan's just reading it all directly from the source or rather sources.

"How do you know that's even possible?"

Kahlan visibly swallows, "There's something about you that's different. It's a subtle change. That and Zedd told me that was another reason why you didn't respond to any of the times Richard tried to use the Bond at my behest."

Cara purses her lips together. The Seeker, the Lord Rahl knows of Kahlan's fixation or at least that's what Cara's going to call it from here on out, "Fine then. It's true." Cara bites out. Kahlan shifts back a little; giving Cara some easier breathing room for the first time since Kahlan took a seat in Cara's lap. "I paid a drunken wizard to get rid of it several years ago." Cara flashes Kahlan her most smug smirk. "And what resulted is me keeping what belongs to me; meaning my magic is truly my own now."

Kahlan stares at Cara as though she's looking at a stranger. Cara is waiting for a reprimand for her actions but then a servant bustles into the room and Cara feels a highly conflicting wash of relief and annoyance at the interruption. Surprisingly, Kahlan doesn't really get in much of hurry to remove herself from Cara's lap. And as Kahlan moves away to address the servant and to Cara's chagrin she instantly finds herself missing the weight and the heat. Cara grimaces and quickly rises from her seat. Cara feels too warm in her leathers and her heart is beating harder than it should be.

Kahlan and the servant are speaking in low voices. And according to what Cara is overhearing Kahlan's youngest daughter had a nightmare and is asking for her mother. Cara had momentarily forgotten that detail; Kahlan having spawn that she didn't make with Richard. Which brings Cara to a question that she hasn't decided if it's worth the asking. The question being what became of Kahlan's confessed lover? Ultimately, Kahlan made a choice like most other Confessor's did. Kahlan's father was a criminal so Cara wonders if Kahlan went the same route or did she find someone good and true?

"Cara?"

Richard would've been the ideal choice in that area but Kahlan obviously had no interest in bedding him or breeding with him. If Kahlan had simply chosen to breed with the Seeker, it would have been impossible to get rid of him after the task was complete. Richard would be the proud father type.

"Cara?"

Or perhaps during Kahlan's sampling of Richard in celebration of defeating the Keeper and all that other nonsense Zedd spouted about True Love when it was over and the sweat had dried maybe Kahlan didn't care for all that Richard had to offer intimately?

"Cara!"

"What!" Cara turns to glare at Kahlan who is directing own her fair share of flustered hard looks in return. Cara notes that the servant is already gone as quickly as she arrived. Cara smirks and cocks her hips to the side. "I suppose we'll just have to have that...dinner another time."

Kahlan blushes even as her eyes narrow, "We're not done here. Not by a long shot."

Cara smirks and raises an eyebrow at the challenge apparent in Kahlan's voice, "Oh, but I think we are, Confessor."

Chapter Text


 

Cara lies alone in bed this night whereas last night she was sharing warmth and a great many other pleasures with the barmaid. Cara is still in Aydindril despite her internal reprimands that since she didn't make her getaway tonight then she should damn well at least be on an available horse by first light and several leagues away. Cara doesn't think she'll be able to follow that bit of advice either. Once more Kahlan is on her mind as the Confessor has been since the three louts tried to abduct her for a price. Cara has been stretching the coin she took from the disgusting trio as far as it will go. Cara hasn't decided what will have to happen when the last coin she has to her name is spent.

A vital ingrained element of Cara that was trained into her a lifetime ago has begun to recognize that a small part of her was rebroken recently. That same trained part of Cara is also disappointed that there has been no strength gained from the act like it was in Cara's other life. Cara only reflects her keen insight inwards when absolutely necessary and that time may very well be fast approaching. As if Cara doesn't have enough on her plate all without Kahlan barging back into Cara's life with gusto. Cara shivers and then rolls her eyes in disgust before yanking the bedcovers up to her neck in an effort to block out the cold air that has snuck into the small room and under the covers with her.

Cara huffs out an angry sigh and roughly turns over to lie on her back. Cara stares up at the ceiling; the room is pitch black and mostly quiet. Unlike brothels Cara can only hear the occasional call of an owl out in the night. Hunting for its preferred scurrying rodent prey. Cara was every bit a fierce predator once upon a time but that part of her has worn over the years. Cara has only a few things that she secretly fears in this life and it's losing her edge and becoming weak. Cara is also slowly warming up to the idea that Kahlan still has the upper hand. Cara frowns and then closes her eyes. But instead of the oblivion of sleep Cara thinks back on what happened earlier while not having dinner with Kahlan at the palace.

 


 

The tension in the air is palpable. Cara is of the mind that it would be outright wrong not to relish it to an extent. Kahlan has that look about her that she always wore when it was time to fight. Back during the never-ending quest of distractions the sheer look of determination was usually directed at D'Haran soldiers, Banelings and other assorted thorns that prickles deeply in the ass. Cara was on the receiving end a few times herself in the beginning too. And now once again it appears that Kahlan's discomfiture has everything to do with Cara walking out of her own free will. Cara feels like she's overstayed at any rate. There is no sense in staying here any longer. The past is over.

Kahlan knows too much about Cara now which is funny since Cara only confirmed what Kahlan already knew. Cara can't even say that she's amused with the game they're playing anymore. But what Cara can soundly say is that she wants no interaction with the little Confessor's that Kahlan has ushered into the the world. Kahlan's nostrils flare slightly and then she swiftly reaches into the folds of her dress and produces a dagger which she flips and then throws with a decisive flick of her wrist. Cara's eyes widen as she instinctually leans to the side as Kahlan's dagger slices through the air right by her head. A potent thrill races up Cara's spine before dispersing through the rest of her body.

"It's your move now, Cara." Kahlan's voice wavers and there's no mistaking the hint of impending tears. Kahlan puts up a united front though while she clears her throat lowly. "I'm done. Well and truly."

Cara frowns because since when does Kahlan give up so easily? Cara is rightfully allowed to not entertain this silliness due to it being not her idea. Kahlan tilts her chin up and turns away, striding down the hall with her bright white dress cutting quite the regal visual. Kahlan's long, dark waves of hair cascades further down her back than Cara remembers. It's not the first time Cara has found herself thinking that Kahlan would've made a most impressive Mord'Sith. At the same time though Cara's mind helpfully conjures up how a particular sort of weakness started to take true deep roots back in the desert all those years ago.

Cara rolls her eyes at the situation as much as where her thoughts have curved towards. Cara prefers not to spend one breath recalling the aftermath of defeating the Keeper or the events that led up to the victory. Still, Cara remembers all too well how those kinds of feelings ferociously eats away at you from the inside like a parasite. Not to mention their cost and finally the carnage that those kinds of emotions leave behind in the end. And all things end. There isn't a single thing in this life that is permanent. Life by definition is temporary and lingering is just pathetic. But Cara will not run after Kahlan though.

Instead, Cara turns around to see where Kahlan's dagger landed. Cara smirks at the sight of the long blade embedded in back of the chair Cara was sitting in. Cara grips the leather wrapped handle and pulls it free from the chair with a protesting squeak from the wood. Cara turns the dagger over in her hand; it's not the same one that Kahlan carried years ago on their quest. Cara is strangely disappointed that Kahlan's original blades have been cast aside. Perhaps they too wore out like Cara's Mord'Sith leathers? Because even the finest blades crafted in sweat and heat dulls with time and use.

Cara glances around the room and she takes a real moment to reflect on what her next course of action should be. Cara has been mostly reacting since she the three louts tried to get the jump on her in that village. It's barely been a week and yet it feels as though it happened months ago. Cara sighs and slips Kahlan's dagger into her belt and then moves towards the open doorway that Kahlan stormed out through. Cara pauses at the threshold and then makes the decision that she might come to regret. Cara chooses, on the spot, to wait in Kahlan's bedchambers while the Mother Confessor is tending to her brood.

The spur of the moment planning is as sound as it was when Cara opted to announce her presence to Kahlan two nights ago. Also, will also give Kahlan time to cool off. Cara might regret her current impending actions later on but regardless of what happens Cara doesn't want to leave Kahlan with more hard feelings and Cara did promise to not leave without saying a word this time. If Cara were to go back on her word, then the Mother Confessor may very well put a real price on her head later. After all, Hell hath no fury than a scorned woman and all that. Cara is under no illusion that just because she happens to be female too that she is immune to such wrath.

 


 

Cara grimaces and turns over on her left side on the lumpy bed. The pillow isn't much better. There is a rather sharp goose feather dying to puncture the pillowcase and then Cara's cheek or the back of her head. Cara leans up on one elbow and punches the pillow once into submission. Cara lays back down into the crumpled concave that is the goosedown pillow. Cara hates the stupid-looking hissing creatures that try to bite you while honking and flapping their wings at you. They are hardly threatening on any given day and even less so before they lay their egg seeing as their feathered ass drags on the ground until they drop the large hard shell package.

Cara closes her eyes and tries to will her body to sleep. But as the time passes Cara's active mind only seems to want to meander back to the Confessor yet again. Cara growls under her breath and tries to force the fresh and encroaching memories of this evening aside. It's during frustrating instances like these in the past Cara resorted to touching herself but in the last few years the pleasurable act hasn't tired her so that falling sleep was easier instead it only served to invigorate her. Cara idly thinks that if the barmaid were here they both would already be asleep. Cara dreamt of baneling Confessors though last night. And there are those new thoughts made this night again after only a brief reprieve.

 


 

Cara considered lurking in the dark in Kahlan's private chambers again. It would be easier this time since there are far fewer candles. This time though Cara simply sat down in the chair in front of the fireplace after throwing another log on the hearth. There were no guards posted in front of Kahlan's door though Cara thinks there should be. But Kahlan's guards travel with her unless she specifically orders them not to for privacy Cara imagines. Cara quietly sits in the chair and stares into the fireplace; watching the flames devour their meal. In the stillness Cara listens intently to the sounds of the palace that not even stone walls can fully silence.

Cara sits in front of the fireplace long enough to question herself but not long enough to change her mind about this last encounter with Kahlan. The Confessor has had the upper hand all this time and Cara seriously doubts that Kahlan will have anticipated this maneuver. Also the longer Cara has sat in silence the more she has realized that she's ready to hear the answers to the few remaining questions she wasn't sure she wanted to inquire about. Kahlan willingly gave answers to flippant questions in regards to Richard the other night but Cara knows that there's more. Never in a million years did Cara expect to see the day come when Kahlan would quit the Seeker.

Technically, Cara didn't see the day but going by what Kahlan said she clearly dodged a trap by not breeding with Richard since he provided his wife with no less than three sons. The world doesn't need a male Confessor which is what Kahlan and Richard would've provided over and over again. Cara doesn't see Richard having the spine to do away with such a dangerous child. That's what made Dennee so easy to destroy. She failed to do away with her son like other Confessors have done when they had a male child. Cara purses her lips and shakes her head at the recollection of killing Dennee after the Confessor finally killed her son to keep him out of Darken's grasp.

Cara's sighs while her keen hearing picks out three sets of footsteps drawing closer. Cara makes the choice to remain seated. But she does place her hand on the handle of Kahlan's dagger that's still tucked into her belt. Kahlan may put her other knife in her but honestly Cara is willing to risk it. In a corner of Cara's mind, she remembers that back when they first met as a disgraced Mord'Sith and Mother Confessor that dying by Kahlan's hand wouldn't be the worst way to go as reparations for Cara's sins. Now though Cara knows that Kahlan's touch can't kill her; possibly enslave, but Cara doubts that too. Cara is still loyal to a fault to those who are worthy and Kahlan was and still is worthy.

Cara hears the heavy chamber door swing open on oiled hinges and then thud closed. There are more footsteps and then a faint gasp. Cara has been spotted by those piercing icy-blue eyes. Cara's heart beats a little faster. A smirk pulls at the corners of Cara's lips as she stands from her seat. Cara turns to find Kahlan staring; the look is part awe and confusion. Cara is on alert for anger since Kahlan is clearly armed just like old times and the Confessor's aim with her deadly instruments have not decreased with time. Cara moves towards a very still Confessor. It's amusing to Cara that Kahlan is on alert as well. Cara thinks that they are even now in terms of throwing blades at one another.

Kahlan blinks and then shakes her head, "Why are you here? I thought you were done too?"

Cara shrugs and then pulls Kahlan's dagger out of her belt, "I was until you threw this in my general direction."

Kahlan delicately snorts, "You came here just to return my dagger?"

"Not really." Cara smirks and runs a gloved finger along the blade's beveled edge. Cara stops short of grabbing distance from Kahlan. "Though if you're going to use me for target practice then you're going to end up ruining all of your furnishings long before you manage to strike me down with your blade."

Kahlan chuckles and holds her hand out for the dagger, "Does that mean you've changed your mind again about staying a while?"

Cara flips the blade and places the handle of the dagger in Kahlan's open palm, "I have questions and depending on how you answer then we'll see."

Kahlan grips the dagger and then deftly moves the skirt of her dress to the side just enough to slip the dagger back into its holder, "You've made it clear that you don't like my answers."

Cara crosses her arms over her chest, "If you say so."

"I do." Kahlan's eyes dart over Cara's impassive face. "This hasn't been the reunion I'd hoped for."

A single eyebrow raises on Cara's forehead slightly, "Did you throw your dagger at me because throwing yourself at me hasn't worked out according to plan?"

Cara pulls no punches in any capacity. There's no point in telling people what they want to hear. It's a disservice to all parties. And though it hasn't stated plainly Cara isn't sure if Kahlan just wants Cara to make her cum harder than when she goes into the ConDar or if it's something much worse like Kahlan keeps hinting at. Maybe it hasn't been hints though?

Kahlan smiles sourly and clenches her hands into fists at her side, "Alright, you want the ugly truth then here it is. My biggest regret isn't choosing you sooner. It's the fact that for the longest time I walked around blind to everyone who wasn't Richard."

Cara tightens her arms over her chest to tamp down on the surge of surprise that is just suddenly there thrilling every inch of her body. Cara struggles to keep her expression passive but then she notices Kahlan's hands relax from their fists. Kahlan's gaze lingers on Cara's face for a moment but then the Confessor turns and starts loosening the laces on her dress. For a hot minute Cara thinks that she might've spoke too soon in regards to Kahlan's endurance for making passes at Cara.

Kahlan lets out a loud exhale of relief, "I became accustomed to other people's fear of me while despising that fact among the many others that I had no choice but to live with. Sound familiar?" Kahlan pivots to face Cara; smiling knowingly. "But then I bet you liked the inspiring fear part." Cara smirks because it’s so very true. "Most people are afraid of how I can snatch away their free will at any given moment if I lose control." Kahlan's smile turns somber. "Richard was the first person to not look at me like that. And in my youth and inexperience I made promises that in the end I couldn't keep." Kahlan wipes a hand across her forehead. "I just couldn't stay with him because it was expected. I found that I had no use for a fabled perfect love. It was anything but. Never mind that I learned perfect is boring to be honest."

Cara's eyes quickly flick down to inspect the more open front of Kahlan's regal white dress. The Confessor still has very nice breasts at a glance considering they now have no doubt nursed two children. Cara finds herself wondering if Kahlan's daughters favor the Confessor, her former mate or are they a mixture of them both?

"I was so very blind when I met you. Possibly even a tad arrogant." Kahlan's voice sounds far away but it's strength nonetheless draws Cara out of her useless musings. "But to be fair we both were. And we were a product of our training."

Cara silently agrees. Kahlan is finally being less cryptic which Cara surmises is due to being surprised, mildly antagonized and challenged. And yet again the thought that Cara may live to regret this flits through her mind.

Kahlan reaches up and unpins the section of her hair in front that she was wearing up, "I feel now that I was worse though in certain ways. I only saw black and white where you reside more in the grey if I could even call it that." Kahlan runs her hands through her dark waves and Cara is loath to watch anything but the way Kahlan's long curls frame her cleavage now. "I find it funny now that when we first met and sometime after when I was sleeping with my daggers in hand to taunt me you would purposefully move your bedroll closer to mine just to annoy me and further put me on edge."

Cara smirks and why not since that's undeniable as well. Cara had to find a way to amuse herself when she first joined the Seeker's quest. Kahlan was deliciously easy to provoke as she was to look at. Cara isn't surprised to find that hasn't change after all these years either.

Kahlan frowns slightly and then puts her hands on her hips, "So earlier when you callously mentioned our beginnings I felt shame as I always do when I think about how eager I was to end your life back then." Kahlan's frown shifts into a bashful smile. Cara can also see the beginnings of a blush forming on Kahlan's cheeks too. "You were or rather are nothing like what I expected. You're unlike anyone I've ever met. There's something about you that gets to me."

Kahlan drops her hands from her hips and moves closer. Cara stands her ground even though her heart picks up the pace yet again, "I've never felt this way about anyone. Not even Richard and I know that I never will." Kahlan stills and then clasps her hands together in front of her. "Is it really so awful that I would like another chance at friendship or more with you if I were so blessed?"

Kahlan's doing it again but Cara is prepared this time. Kahlan's been at it for days now. Doing her best at courting is what Cara has heard most people call it. Cara's never been courted before so who's to say if Kahlan's any good at it. Though Cara can say that Kahlan's persistent which is not a new development. What is new though is apparently the Confessor was hiding what is no question 'confusing feelings' towards Cara all those years ago.

Cara glances up at Kahlan's hopeful and now somewhat watery blue eyes and then smirks, "So, I take it you finally indulged in having a few lovers? Not just the man you took as a mate? Whatever happened to him anyway?"

Kahlan's shoulders visibly slump, "I would hardly call it indulging but he's dead. It's been nearly four years now." Kahlan inhales deeply and squares her shoulders. "What does he have to do with us?"

"Us?" Cara uncrosses her arms and reaches out touch one of Kahlan's curls. Cara still has her gloves on so she can't feel the texture but that doesn't stop her from winding the curling around her finger before letting it go. "You know I haven't quite decided what to think about this more forward version of yourself. Tell me, have you encountered that bastard amulet again?"

Kahlan chuckles and offers Cara a small smile, "No. I'm very much the person I've always been. Just older and wiser now."

Cara nods as her hand drops back to her side, "How did your mate die?"

Kahlan rubs a hand over her forehead, "He wasn't my mate. Not really. At least I didn't consider him as that." Kahlan shakes her and then glances off to the side for a moment. "It goes without saying that he didn't die by my hand. Not directly. He was a ranking officer in my army. He died in battle." Cara watches color rise on Kahlan's cheeks. "I only laid with him a few times and for one reason alone. And there has only been one other person since him and that was just for a few times as well." Kahlan blushes more as she bites down on her lower lip. "It's been years since I've had a lover."

Cara has a profane urge to tease Kahlan about willfully reverting back to her old chaste and sexually frustrated ways. Perhaps that was the motivator for Kahlan to seek Cara out? Though that seems far-fetched. If Kahlan has that bad of an itch, then like the Confessor herself said not but a few minutes ago there are many people in this world.

Cara purses her lips and tilts her head ot the side, "You didn't confess him did you?"

Kahlan gapes for a moment and the sight of accurately reading Kahlan proves to be highly satisfying, "No, I wore one of those infernal collars. He did volunteer though." Kahlan blushes more and reaches up to tuck some of her hair behind one ear. "He was unmarried and wanted to remain that way. He also wanted a life with no obligations beyond his service to Aydindril. So he was in no way involved in my children's life." Kahlan smiles sadly as a short laugh slips past her lips. "He reminded me of you which is why I accepted his offer. But it was my choice to not confess him."

One of Cara's eyebrows rises slightly, "Was your only other lover a woman then?"

"What lead you to that assumption?"

Cara purposefully looks away from Kahlan's face to let her eyes slowly and deliberately drop to take in all of Kahlan's tempting assets, "You said that you had no interest in becoming pregnant again." Cara slowly draws her gaze back up over Kahlan's now noticeably heaving chest to finally take in Kahlan's rosy cheeks. "Men are risky in that department when taking your pleasure with them."

Kahlan blushes more and smiles, "I'm aware of that fact in regards to men."

Cara grins and for an instance she wonders how Kahlan would react if Cara hooked a finger into the opening of her dress and pulled her in? It would be in response to Kahlan planting herself in Cara's lap and then resorting to sweet talk and touching. Cara's still quietly processing how she feels about Kahlan cradling her face like she's something precious.

"Is that why you want me now?" Cara is genuinely curious. Everyone has a motive, even Kahlan. "To end your dry spell without leaving you with an unwanted child?"

The slap is rapid, unexpected and loud. Cara's head moves from the force of it and her cheek is already stinging. Cara tongues the inside of her cheek and tastes blood. Cara smirks at Kahlan's horrified expression all while assuming that she has finally uncovered the ugly truth as Kahlan called it while dancing around it.

Kahlan's eyes fill with tears, "I'm sorry but you're wrong." Kahlan covers her mouth with her hand and inhales sharply through her nose before uncovering her mouth. "I've told you what would make me happy. I don't know how to say it any plainer."

"Oh, I assure you I get."

"No, you don't!" Kahlan shouts while her eyes flood with more tears and then spill over to leave shining tracks as they run down her face. "When I think back on how young I was, how naive." Kahlan smiles bitterly as a tear clings to her chin before falling. "You are an ideal match for me. But it seems that no matter how many times I say it what you hear is that I have some hidden agenda!"

Cara feels her face contort to something other than indifference. Cara feels useless just standing there watching Kahlan cry her eyes out harder than the other night. At the same time Cara also finds herself feeling that all her suspicions are apparently misplaced. A good slap was all it took which is another thing Cara will be figuring out what the proper repayment will be for her.

Kahlan sniffles and then looks away for a moment, "I didn't realize what you'd come to mean to me until you were just gone and that you weren't coming back. I cried at Richard's wedding because it hit me hardest then that you should've been there with me." Kahlan wipes under her eyes roughly with a sniffle. "I know that I'm not projecting. And I know that back then you would've done everything within your considerable willpower to squash any feelings you may have developed for me." Once again Kahlan has gleaned the truth but that doesn't mean Cara has to like it. Or own up to it. "So, please just tell me that you feel something? Please tell me that the way you've been acting is how you've survived all these years?"

 


 

Cara growls and then roughly tosses the covers off her body. The cold room awakens her even more. There will be no sleeping happening anytime soon tonight. There also will be no leaving Aydindril in the morning either. Cara wouldn't say that she has run from her problems, more like slipped away or stormed off, but she certainly hasn't faced them the way a Mord'Sith would. Head up and fearlessly charge in laying waste to all that stood in her way. Instead, Cara has quietly refused to fight what she thought was an unwinnable battle. Cara had no answer for Kahlan on her behavior. Cara left the crying Confessor in her chambers once more. There is only so much of that Cara can be expected to stomach.

Cara's had possibly two hours or so after having a small dinner here at the inn before tossing and turning alone in her bed. Cara picks up her folded red and black leathers and starts to dress again. The leather is always soft and supple like a second skin but it's taken on the temperature of room; its coolness further chilling Cara's flesh. Cara pulls her leather pants up over her hips and then buttons them. They start to warm up; already beginning to hold in Cara's escaping body heat. Cara slips into the top and buttons it as well. Cara swore that she wouldn't run after Kahlan and she hasn't. Cara sits back down on the bed and reaches for her boots and then tugs them on one by one.

Cara grabs the short jacket that completes her uniform that covers her arms. This leather keeps her warm in the colder months and in the warmer months all Cara has to do is shed her jacket of she gets too hot. But Cara has worn it anyway for protection since that's its primary purpose. Lastly, Cara grabs her belt and buckles it around her trim waist. Both of her Agiels resting as they should be at her beck and call. Cara glances around the room and the sole candle in the holder on the table beside the wash bowl she left burning that's more than half gone now. The candle flickers every so often and the flame grows and expands before shrinking again.

Cara walks over to the candle and pinches it out with her thumb and forefinger. There is no pain but Cara knows there will be a black sooty streak on both fingers. She could care less. Standing in the dark Cara gives herself enough space to think if what she's about to do is the wisest move. It in fact reeks of desperation but this is what it has come to. Cara takes a deep breath and glances over at the chair by the window. Cara's gloves are still lying on the chair where she placed her leathers earlier. There is even a spare pair in her pack, along with her dagger, that she hid between the narrow space between the headboard of the bed and the wall.

Cara turns and walks towards the door, the knob is cold in her bare hand, and unlocks it and then steps out into the dimly lit hallway of the inn. There are a few errant sounds but not many. Cara's walks down the short hallway making sure to avoid the creaking floorboards that she has learned during her stay here. Obviously, Cara made come and go as she pleases since she's a paying customer but Cara's not trying to draw any attention to herself at this hour. Most people have retired for the night at this hour but Cara imagines there are few stragglers trying to get some food before the kitchen stops serving. Cara was one of those people.

 


 

It was no difficult task to enter Kahlan's private chambers than it was the first or second time Cara managed it. Granted, this time of night Kahlan is in a portion of the room Cara hasn't felt the need to explore. The partially sectioned off bedroom. Cara imagined the divider was put there so as to give the Mother Confessor privacy with her mate while the help bustles in to stoke the fires in the morning or to tend to other manners whilst not disturbing the occupant too much. It's just a guess of course on Cara's part given what she knows of Confessor's from her training long ago.

But perhaps Kahlan is the one who insisted on it? This is the first private chambers Cara has been in where everything wasn't open for all to see as soon as they were allowed to enter. Of course the only other bedchambers fit for a ruler Cara has ever laid eyes on was Darken's. Cara sneers at the thought of her old Lord Rahl; may he forever rot in a place in the Underworld or beyond, where Cara won't have to look at him when she shuffles off the mortal coil too. Over the years Cara hasn't given much thought on when her death will arrive. Life is different when you're no longer a proud Mord'Sith.

Cara glances around the room in the very low light which is supplied by two rather large candles that don't flicker. Kahlan's chambers are a good deal warmer though than Cara's room back at the inn. Cara has no plan beyond seeing if Kahlan is alright and at the moment Cara is choosing not to beat herself up over caving in again. Cara takes another step towards the ornately designed partition that's carved out of what is probably the finest woods. So far as Cara can tell everything in the Confessor's palace adheres to a sort of modest but refined opulence. This place was built to withstand the rigors of time.

"I see that I'm not the only one who can't sleep." Kahlan's voice is groggy and a touch raspy and Cara doesn't visibly start at the sound of it. Cara knows Kahlan only gets like that after a bought of crying not from lack of sleep. "Also, I think it's safe to say that you've made it abundantly clear that my guards are woefully incompetent when they aren't expecting you."

Cara briefly smirks as she turns around to see a dark Kahlan-shaped form sitting on a chaste lounge in one of the dark corners of the room. Cara of course somewhat heard Kahlan's calm and even breathing when she entered the room and since it was coming from the direction of the bed Cara deduced that Kahlan was sleeping. Cara is once again reminded that Kahlan is quite capable of taking care of herself.

"I did tell you that they needed more training."

There's movement in the dark but otherwise Kahlan doesn't say anything. Cara frowns, Kahlan wasn't supposed to be awake too. Cara didn't come here for another go-round and even on a rare day Cara has very little to say. To be honest since Cara's been in Aydindril or rather around Kahlan this is the most Cara has spoken at length to another person in some time. Cara couldn't sleep because her mind wouldn't shut off but that doesn't mean that Cara's about to tell Kahlan that her face still stings from the slap or that Kahlan's remark about Cara's behavior is just an act or worse.

"It's late, Cara." Kahlan's words are laced with a muffled sniffle which is then followed by a slight creaking noise form the lounge. Cara listens intently for the sound of shuffling feet on the floor. "And I'm too tired in body and spirit to fight with you right now."

As Kahlan moves into the low light Cara sees that she is wearing a long shift that's nowhere near as white as her Confessor's dress. It's appropriately chaste though which is how Cara has always seen Kahlan. The leather traveling dress was the exception though.

Kahlan stops to stand in front of Cara. Kahlan moves to reach out but she hesitates, "I'm sorry that I slapped you."

Cara shrugs, "I provoked you, even grazed you with my Agiel. And it was a good slap."

Kahlan briefly grins, "And then I provoked you in return." Kahlan sighs and then pushes a hand through her hair. "But you weren't supposed to walk out on me."

Looking at Kahlan now Cara knows that she did not come here to hear more words. Resolute, Cara steps forward and then grabs a handful of Kahlan's shift and forcefully pulls Kahlan the scant remaining distance to her. Kahlan gasps and Cara takes that as all the permission she needs. As if she needed more going purely on Kahlan's recent actions and behavior. Cara tilts her head slightly to the side and then presses her lips against Kahlan's parted ones. This already feels vastly different to Cara and it's barely a kiss. Cara takes Kahlan's lower lip between her's and Kahlan makes this little pleased noise and then kisses back. Kahlan is not obviously not inexperienced but she far better than the years long dry spell she has endured.

Cara grips the fabric of Kahlan's nightshift tighter in her hand while her other hand comes to rest low on Kahlan's hip. Kahlan makes another little delicious sound that Cara eagerly swallows. This is far too good for a first kiss but Cara will take it. Cara answers Kahlan for every press of their kiss and for moment Cara considers taking it a step further but then she registers Kahlan's hands on her face. The touch is tender; just like earlier. No one has ever touched Cara the way Kahlan has. Cara has this sensation of churning but at the same time a quiet peace settles inside Cara's chest. That is until Cara feels a firm hand pushing on her chest. Kahlan breaks the kiss and tries to take a small step back but Cara's grip doesn't allow for that.

Cara is about as aroused as she is confused so she lets go of Kahlan, "I thought you wanted me?"

Kahlan licks her lips and brushes her hands down the front of her wrinkled shift, "I do. And I've not exactly been subtle now have I?" Kahlan blushes but then levels her cool gaze on Cara. "But are you just doing this to pacify me?"

Not for the first time Cara is of the mind that Kahlan's feelings rule over her with an iron fist, "No, I'm doing this for myself. I couldn't sleep for thinking of you and all the ways you've had the upper hand on me lately. I don't like it."

"You don't like that I...?" Kahlan's words cease with this incredulous look that crosses her face. But then Kahlan shakes her head and laughs. Cara sees no humor in her words though. "Forgive me, but are you finally admitting that I was on your mind because you have feelings for me?"

Cara rolls her eyes; she should've stayed in bed. If she stayed put then she wouldn't be here getting suckered into talking about feelings, "If you'd expressed your interest in me back when we were being lead around by that stupid compass then I would've responded right away." Cara smirks wryly at Kahlan; she will not let this admission slide into some disgraceful tear-filled coupling. "I saw you as an impressive warrior and a very beautiful woman who I would've gladly pleasured until you told me to stop. Risk of confession be damned." Kahlan blushes more and Cara has to fight not to smile that rare smile Kahlan was gushing over. "But that was then and while I'm still as broken as ever at least I have my freedom now. Such as it is."

Cara didn't mean to share that last bit of information but it is out there now. Or rather Kahlan knows and that might be alright. Though if Cara's being honest with herself it would appear that Kahlan knows a great deal. Cara is willing to acknowledge that the Confessor has thoroughly studied her prey.

Kahlan frowns, "I told you that I wouldn't even so much as think of taking anything from you. That has been done to you far too much." Kahlan inhales deeply and closes the scant distance she put between them minutes ago. Cara wonders if Kahlan's lips are still tingling too from that kiss. Cara will never admit aloud that her's are. "I just want to spend time with you and if that leads to more that's wonderful. And if it doesn't that's fine too."

Cara's left eye twitches, "But you have children."

Kahlan tilts her head to the side and grins, "I do."

Cara closes her eyes for a moment to stop the one from twitching, "And I don't belong in that...arrangement."

Kahlan's lips turn down into a frown again, "You don't know that."

Cara purses her lips, "Don't I?"

Kahlan bites down on her bottom lip, "I've told my daughters about you." Kahlan smiles then and it's bright. "They know all about the Mord'Sith who saved my life several times. They're young but they know how fond I am of you. And of all the stories I tell them they enjoy the stories about you best. They are endlessly fascinated to know that it was you who saved the NightWisps from extinction."

Cara gapes for a second, "You told them about me and those chirpy glowing bugs?"

Kahlan chuckles and then reaches out to place her warm hand on Cara's cheek again, "I did. Though I didn't tell them one of my favorite parts of the story." Kahlan's thumb grazes along Cara's cheekbone and it's as distractingly tender as before. "You have the sweetest smile. I remember it vividly. It turned out to be a very bad day. But you smiled when you thought it was snow, not ashes, falling from the sky." Kahlan sighs and then smiles that bright smile again. "Cara, I'm offering you a home."

On reflex Cara places a hand on the handle of her Agiel; the leather is cool against her bare hand and as usual a faint buzzing energy is all that greets her, "Why?"

Kahlan's smile dims and her eyes turn all watery again, "It breaks my heart that you even have to ask." Kahlan brushes another gentle touch along Cara's cheekbone. "I see it more plainly than ever now that I waited too long to find you."

Cara moves her hand off the handle of her Agiel and reaches up to subtly move Kahlan's hand off her face, "I'll pay you every coin I have not to cry."

Kahlan chuckles lowly and then laces her fingers through Cara's. There is too much bare contact and Cara's entire thought process stutters at the innocent touch, "Come to bed?"

The words are said without a hint of seduction or promise thereof but it's just the right incentive for Cara to tease, "You said you didn't want that, Kahlan." Cara smirks at the still teary-eyed but beautifully blushing Confessor. "But still, while the offer is tempting I think that you really do need to make up your mind."

Kahlan rolls her eyes, "It's late and my bed is large enough for two people." Kahlan steps around Cara and with a tug from their joined hands she leads Cara further into the room. Towards the ornately carved wooden divider. "You don't need to walk across the city back to that little inn you've been hiding in to get some sleep tonight."

Cara's eyes widen and she stops, "Hiding!"

Kahlan sighs and tightens her grip on Cara's hand, "Yes, hiding." Kahlan tugs again on their joined hands. "Look, I'm tired and I need some sleep tonight if I'm going to be of any use tomorrow."

Cara narrows her eyes at Kahlan and refuses to budge at another pull, "I don't cuddle."

Kahlan snorts indelicately, "I'm not asking you to. But the fact that it crossed your mind tells me something to the contrary."

Cara can easily recall the few nights here and there while on the quest where they shared a bed at an inn. It was nothing special and Kahlan always managed to keep to her side back then. But still the way Kahlan carried on with Richard to the point of inspiring indigestion Cara knows how Kahlan feels about touching and being held. Case in point how Kahlan has been touching Cara at every opportunity like now with the hand-holding business that Cara is allowing not submitting to.

Cara scoffs, "That's complete horseshit." Cara waves her free hand at Kahlan. "We both know that you're the type that likes that sort of thing. Not me."

Kahlan smiles fondly, "I didn't deny it. But we're talking about you." Kahlan's eyes dip down over Cara's frame and Cara doesn't mind that Kahlan isn't even attempting to mask her appreciation. "I didn't get a chance to mention it earlier but I like your new red and black leathers too." Kahlan meets Cara's gaze once more and turns away while tugging on their joined hands and this time Cara relents. "But they're going to have to come off if you're to sleep in my bed."

Cara smirks at the back of Kahlan's head before letting her own gaze lower to Kahlan's backside that while covered is still inticing, "There's no need to keep trying to seduce me, Kahlan."

Kahlan stops abruptly and lets go of Cara's hand, "This has never been about...seducing you!" Kahlan hisses out as she turns around to glare at Cara. "I told myself that I would have to be really direct with you. Cross a few lines even until you understood. Even now I'm not certain you understand. There's more to life than just...sex, Cara. I know that's not nearly enough for me to be happy."

"I understand some things perfectly fine, Kahlan." Cara purses her lips and returns Kahlan's glare until the Confessor's expression softens. "And it may not be my place but clearly both of your lover's weren't very skilled if that's how you feel."

Kahlan blushes and clears her throat, "Yes well, that topic is not up for discussion. So instead why don't you quickly tell me which parts do you understand about my offer and why I made it?" Kahlan raises her hand and points a single finger at Cara. "And don't roll your eyes at me again."

Despite the mild scolding once again this all feels like a test to Cara. Particularly if she's going to be continually forbidden from quietly expressing her exasperation, "I understand that somewhere in our past you developed...feelings...for me." Cara is somewhat uncomfortable but that's only because this all seems like something out of a fever dream. Not real life. "While you were hip-deep in making eyes at the Seeker but you denied them because I was a Mord'Sith?"

"That's a fair start but hardly accurate." Kahlan grumbles out to which Cara simply shrugs up a single shoulder. "It's...I was. I realized too late that I…that you. You know what, I'm not discussing this tonight."

Cara raises a single eyebrow at Kahlan who then huffs out an angry sigh and then turns and disappears around the divider. Cara stands there for a few seconds contemplating whether she should keep standing her ground.

"Get in here, Cara!" Kahlan's voice is muffled but there's no mistaking the authoritative tone. "Don't make me come back out there!"

Cara walks around the partition to see that Kahlan has a very large bed indeed. There is a single candle burning on the table beside where Kahlan is huddled under the covers. The bed is comprised of four tall posts complete with a canopy and gathered curtains at each post for holding in warmth and further privacy. Cara stalls at the foot of the bed; she certainly couldn't have predicted this outcome when she got out of bed to come back here. Cara rolls her eyes and begins to undress for bed.

"There's an extra shift lying at the foot of the bed." Kahlan turns over and then sits up in the bed. "Put it on?"

Cara grins and raises an eyebrow at Kahlan again, "I see you haven't forgotten about my preference to sleep naked."

Kahlan smiles briefly and then pushes a hand through her tussled hair, "How could I?"

There's something about the shy admission that peaks Cara's interest just enough to tease, "Kahlan Amnell, have you been having illicit fantasies about my nakedness?"

Kahlan makes a face, "Oh, please!"

Cara grins while removing her short jacket that looks like anything but since it's meant to blend with the rest of her uniform. Kahlan's chambers are warmer than Cara's room at the inn but Cara notices the draft that removing her jacket has caused. Cara doubles it together and turns around to place it on a dressing table near the foot of Kahlan's bed. Cara turns around to witness Kahlan watching her rather intently. Cara's arms are bare and they seem to be drawing all of Kahlan's attention. Cara smirks, it would appear that Kahlan wasn't exaggerating when she said, twice no less, that she liked Cara's new leathers. Cara unbuckles her belt and places it, along with her Agiels, on the table with her jacket.

"Do you need any help?"

Cara turns and slowly sits down on the foot of her bed to remove her boots. Cara smiles to herself as she sets her boots to the side and then unbuttons her pants, "My leathers are three pieces now with no laces. I require no help."

"Oh?" Kahlan shifts on the bed and the movement jostles Cara at the foot. "Alright."

Cara can't keep from smiling further since there's no chance that Kahlan will see it. Cara stands up slightly to push her pants off over hips and then sits back down on the bed. Cara hears a gasp which says that Kahlan enjoyed that little glimpse of Cara's undergarment. The top of Cara's uniform has support sewn into it for her breasts. Cara hasn't worn a corset since she forgoed the one that was a part of her old Mord'Sith uniform. Cara folds her pants together and then places them on the bed before going to work on the side buttons that open her top. Cara purposefully takes her time since she feels Kahlan's eyes on her at every move.

Finally, with her top and pants in hand Cara stands up from her seat on the foot of the bed. There's an audible intake of breath that stirs Cara. Kahlan is apparently very easy to arouse. Cara grins and steps forward and then places her pants and top with her jacket on the dressing table. Cara thinks it's a shame that there's no mirror otherwise she would give Kahlan a reverse glimpse. There's no doubt in Cara's mind that Kahlan will advert her eyes when Cara turns around but then again Kahlan has made no effort to look away thus far so who knows. Cara turns around and steps back towards the bed to reach for the shift Kahlan decreed that Cara wear on the foot of the bed.

Cara notices that Kahlan is still watching so she smirks at Kahlan, "Do you still want me to cover up?"

Cara glances away at the bed to see that she was sitting on the damned shift while she was getting undressed. Cara snatches it up but doesn't make any move to cover herself with it. Kahlan is silent for a change.

"Kahlan?"

"Yes?"

"Is it still mandatory that I wear this to bed?" Cara holds out the shift but Kahlan's gaze hasn't wavered to the garment. "Or do you prefer I remain like this?"

The satisfaction Cara is relishing cannot be measured. Kahlan's gaze is hungry but not lecherous. Cara notes every move of Kahlan's eyes as they trail up until Cara is looking directly into darkening blue eyes. It could be the low light but Cara doubts it. Kahlan may be a Queen and a Confessor but she is still a woman. A passionate one at that. Cara has an inkling that if she stays and becomes Kahlan's companion then there's no telling how much passion in Kahlan that is waiting to be unlocked.

Kahlan shakes her head and pulls the bedcovers up to her chest from where they had fallen to her lap, "You clearly have vastly different methods of seduction than I've ever attempted."

Cara smirks and gathers up the shift and slips it over her head and then pulls it down her body, "I was merely dressing for bed as requested."

Kahlan scoffs and then pats the empty side of the bed, "Right, well if you're done exacting your revenge I'd like to get some sleep now."

Cara has so many quips on the tip of her tongue but she chooses not to voice them. There will be time for that. If she makes it that far. Cara hasn't even had a moment to consider Kahlan's hidden offer of a home. Cara hasn't had one of those since she was small girl before the Mord'Sith took her. Cara faintly shakes her head in an effort to dislodge her thoughts from such a dark path but then Cara has many dark paths. Cara picks up the covers on the other side of the bed and gets in. Cara lays down, pulling the covers up to her chest as she looks up at Kahlan who smiling in what Cara would classify as warmth personified. There's some pride there too since the Confessor has gotten her way.

Cara closes her eyes to block out the sight and then turns onto her side, "Goodnight, Confessor. And fair warning if you steal all of the covers I cannot be held accountable for my actions."

Cara will not admit it anytime soon but she's already getting comfortably warm and Kahlan's bed is very passable. Cara listens intently for Kahlan's movements and within a few heartbeats Cara hears a faint giggle and then she feels more warmth and an unmistakably soft, curvy body pressing against her back. The Confessor is rather incorrigible. Cara rolls her eyes under her closed eyelids at Kahlan's antics. Cara's eyes spring open though when she feels Kahlan's breasts rubbing her shoulder blades and then Kahlan's arm winding around her waist. The Confessor likes taking liberties too. Kahlan is the very definition of the cuddling type.

Cara licks her lips and then smiles, "There's no shame in admitting you're horny, Kahlan. Creator knows I would be if it'd been years for me like it's been for you."

Cara waits for a proper rejoinder or perhaps Kahlan will toy with Cara by kissing along her neck. But instead of Kahlan's lips exploring Cara's neck the Confessor pulls away and then an overstuffed pillow hits Cara's head with force. Cara rolls over and indignantly swats the pillow away as Kahlan aims to strike her again with the ridiculous make-shift weapon. Cara glares at Kahlan incredulously and what's worse Cara suddenly feels a laugh bubbling up from within. Cara grits her teeth to keeping from laughing as she pushes Kahlan down on the bed. Kahlan laughs as she bounces on the bed. The sound is joyous and light. Cara smiles at the sound.

Cara gazes down at Kahlan; how her dark, long and wavy hair is spread out along the sheets. Kahlan is also an impossibly beautiful woman seeing that is how Kahlan saw fit to describe Cara at their not dinner. Cara smirks and then leans down closer towards Kahlan. For her part Kahlan lets out a gasp and then licks her lips. Cara grins as she presses her lips to Kahlan's for the second time tonight. Kahlan makes that same little pleased noise as her hands instantly bury themselves in Cara's golden hair. Cara turns her head and then sucks on Kahlan's lower lip. Another noise slips from Kahlan's lips; the woman is already panting beneath Cara.

Cara grins into the kiss before taking Kahlan's lower lip once more before pulling away, "I think that's enough for now." Cara scoots away and then lays down on her back. The sheets are cool but they quickly begin to warm to Cara's climbing body heat. Cara is a tad wet between her legs but it's not as though she lacks the discipline to ignore it. "I'll still be here in the morning if you'd like another sample."

Kahlan laughs and no sooner than Cara closes her eyes and wills her rapidly beating heart to calm down she feels Kahlan against her side. Then Cara feels Kahlan lightly press a kiss on the corner of her mouth. Cara smiles in spite of herself for enjoying every bit of this silliness. Kahlan wiggles against Cara's side some more before throwing her arm over Cara's stomach and then settling her head on Cara's chest. Cara thinks that if Kahlan were laying on the other side then she would be able to listen to Cara's heartbeat and then Kahlan would truly know. Cara's not ready for that though and honestly she's just indulging Kahlan's cuddling for the warmth. Nothing more.

Chapter Text


 

Vaguely Four Years Ago...

 

Cara grits her teeth nearly as tight as the stranglehold she has on the reins gripped in her gloved hands. The dry, humid air feels cooler for the time being since Cara's riding through it on her horse at a full gallop. It hasn't rained in over three months in this forgotten armpit on the ass end of the Midlands. The grass is a burnt dirt-brown everywhere Cara has gone and it crunches under foot when you walk over it. Cara's horse won't eat anything off the scorched earth save for the grasses in the forest that have been shaded from the unforgiving sun. Cara is of the opinion that her horse knows it's far too early in the year to be eating the worst hay ever.

Autumn is here, has been for a while, but yet it still feels like the height of summer save for every cool night which is the only wetness the ground sees from the heavy dew falling. Then there's the misty fog in the early morning hours that slowly burns off with the heat of sun climbing higher in the sky. Now though, it's nearing evening which is the hottest part of the day. Cara has to squint in the bright sunshine which prevents the continuous trickling of the sweat, borne of the endless stagnant hot air, continuously forming on her brow from running into her eyes.

But even with the sun in her eyes Cara would have to be blind to miss the fact that her target is just ahead and losing his head start on her. The idiot who is fool enough to run from Cara is barely five horse lengths and Cara is closing that gap fast. The man forcing his horse to stick to the path cut through the living dead forest that's been stripped of its green and has turned red and brown. The man is not so stupid but predictable because he's obviously too afraid of riding in the thick of the woods which are dangerous given that you could run into a low hanging branch at any time or worse.

Cara urges her mount on with a light slap of the reins from left to right. The light slap is no more than a love tap on the horse's sweating hide. The animal responds to her request with a surge of speed. Cara feels like smiling. For as much of a pain it is to chase someone down there is a thrill in the hunt. Cara's horse is taking deep snorting breaths as its powerful stride covers the ground at a rapidly increasing pace. Cara's horse has stamina and is a powerful animal. He's red but not that brownish-red color. Not that Cara cares but he is pleasing to look at and aside from his picky eating habits he has proven to be a very useful and dependable beast.

Cara's horses company when traveling isn't awful either. Her mount doesn't snore or feel the need to aide every peasant with a grievance and at least he has a real excuse for the way he eats. Cara grits her teeth harder at where her thoughts have wandered uninvited. Cara forces her harshly clenching jaw to relax before she starts grinding her teeth. Cara's ears lightly pop at the release in tension. Cara acutely hears the sound of her mounts hooves hitting the ground which reminds Cara of a distant rumbling thunder rolling underneath her.

The mangy-looking grey horse ahead that the moron's riding passably well, off and on, clearly isn't ready to be put down judging by the way the beast runs and not how it appears at first glance. It could be magic though since Cara's target is a two-bit sorry excuse for a charlatan who dabbles in magic to suit his needs and wants. The man isn't powerful enough to be an actual wizard to Cara's knowledge but she supposes it's all in the effort and intent. But he was stupid enough to try to use magic on her which failed spectacularly.

Cara has never tired of being able to turn magic back on the user at will. To be resistant to magic is a weapon in itself. The only magic Cara has never been tested by is Confessor magic. Before this chase through the woods began Cara sent the magical moron sailing back on his ass several lengths when he tried to use some kind of a mumbling spell on her. Unfortunately, that worked to his advantage somewhat seeing as he got up and stumbled further into the stable Cara sent him flying in and then stole the horse he's currently riding.

Cara swore that she saw a cloud of dust blowing off the horse as the moron tried to ride her down with the old overgrown beast that appeared to be better suited pulling a plow back in its prime. Cara owes the magical moron a nice lingering touch from her Agiels for that stunt. There's so many uses for her weapons. They can easily kill but they can also prolong a rough touch more consuming than that of a skilled lover. At a glance an Agiel might not seem like not much more than a leather-covered rod to the uninitiated and perhaps it’s better that way. Cara has known how an Agiel feels since she was nine and she trained to have a healthy respect for them.

The incredible fool on the mangy-gray horse, less than two lengths ahead of Cara now, wobbles in the saddle as his horse tries to clear its large body over what Cara quickly spots as a fallen tree. Cara grins and leans forward in her saddle, putting all of her weight on the stirrups in preparation for the jump. Cara's horse barely breaks its lengthy stride before effortlessly jumping over the large fallen tree trunk. There's a moment where Cara feels weightless in a sense but then her horse lands and it jars Cara firmly back into the chase. Cara transfers some of her weight off the stirrups and reaffirms her tight grip on the reins.

The fake wizard on the horse ahead is tilted slightly too much to the side in his saddle. He obviously has never jumped a horse and is barely keeping his ass in the saddle as a result. Cara's horse finds a second wind and starts to run faster without being urged on. Cara smiles; her horse is enjoying this chase too, his deep snorting breaths are clear and in time with his thunderous stride. The horse's groomed red mane is blowing wildly in the wind while his ears are pointed straight ahead as if they are an arrow zeroed onto its target. Once more Cara thinks that perhaps this is a rather fine animal ideally suited for her.

Cara's horse takes the opportunity to close the remaining distance to the idiot on his mangy-grey mount. It's not difficult to miss the fact that the middle-aged magical nubile flesh peddler is too busy trying to hold onto the horn of the saddle and reins to notice Cara. He rights himself enough though at last and it's then that he finally sees Cara right alongside him on her horse. His eyes widen. Cara smirks and reaches out and then puts some of her strength into the motion and thus pushes the gaping moron easily off his horse with one hand. The moron's yell doesn't last long enough but the sheer volume makes up for that shortcoming.

Cara verbally urges her horse to slow down and as she takes a quick glance over her shoulder the magical filth appears to have landed roughly and in a tangle of arms and flailing legs. Cara smiles again and strongly pulls back on the reins of her horse to slow it down more while the mangy-grey horse keeps on running. Cara turns her horse around and then urges it to a fast trot back to where the moron is laid out on the ground groaning. Cara pulls on the reins again to stop her horse and smirks again at the sight of her targets pain. It's never quite as satisfying as breaking someone with chains and an Agiel but it's plenty good enough when they annoy her.

Cara leans forward and rests her elbows on the saddle horn, "Rough landing?"

"B-it." The man starts but then lets out a hacking cough; wincing as he takes short wheezing gulps of air. Cara guesses that he might have a broken rib or two after Cara helped him with dismounting his horse. "F-fucking...b-bitch!"

Cara rolls her eyes and then pats her horse on the side of his neck before moving to dismount her horse, "Hmm, how original. But while I've had that term slung at me before, and used it myself in regards to a select few, just know that's the only one you will get." Cara saunters over to her target laying prone on the ground. Cara draws one of her Agiels and its whining song adds another layer of sound in the forest air. "So if you foolishly call me that again then I'll stuff my weapon in your mouth, hold it there, so that when I finally feel like removing it from then on all you'll be speaking is the language of drooling dogs. If you're lucky."

The man on the ground glares at her in anger but the fear in his eyes is as abundant as sunshine. Cara smirks at the sight of it, "Better yet, if I shove it down your throat perhaps you'll be reduced to communication solely with other lower life forms. Come to think of it that might be your true niche though?"

Cara is simply calling it as it truly is. This vile excuse of a middle-age man was using magic to enslave girls as young as eight seasons old. Cara's disgust was instantaneous when she was approached by the magistrate of the town she was briefly staying in. It was the kind of bounty that she accepts gleefully. Now though from where she stands looking down at her target the disgust rises in her anew. This man not only lures in these young girls and holds them with magic but then he trains them to perform sex acts on him along with other men for money. In short, he tries them out, breaks them in for himself first before offering them to another for profit.

Cara's keen eyes trail over his unassuming clothes. They are simple but the quality of the material is the giveaway. There are no patches or mends on his clothes either. When Cara first spotted the man she wasn't shocked to see that he could be considered handsome with the light gray hair at the temples of his wavy hair or the few streaks in his short groomed beard. Cara found him scouting out a village he'd already taken a few girls from not so many months ago. In his greed he came back for more far too soon. The village's ire was running high. But no one had been able to catch him and he'd slipped by for some time until he stole girls from the village that finally put a price on his head.

Cara turns her Agiel over in her hand letting the hot sun illuminate the leather rod, "I know all about what it's like to have your free will stripped from you at another's whims simply because they can." Cara squats down on her hunches, her leather silently bends with the motion, she's close enough to ram her Agiel in the moron's neck if need be. But far enough to not be within easy reach should he get any bright ideas. "So they can use you how and when they see fit. Though you are the first I've heard to do such things not only for your pleasure but for coin. It's very clever to present yourself as penniless. No better place to hide than in plain sight after all."

The man licks his cracked lips and grins, "Well, look at you.” A sliver of red-tinged spit escapes out of the side of his mouth. "You look the part; in all that red and black leather. But that leather rod you're holding is no more than a hollow threat unless you know how to use it." The man's grin morphs into a smug smirk and Cara suddenly wants to shove her Agiel into it to burn it from his stupid face. "But you're that former Mord'Sith aren't you? The one that traveled with the Seeker years ago? That's why my spell didn't work like it should've isn't it?"

Cara imagines that the way this man is looking at her he might've been trying to enslave her too. Though Cara is much older than his tastes normally run. Still it's in his eyes; dark and twinkling even and how they're taking in her form. Cara is approaching thirty years in age but she's still more than attractive enough to turn heads. Her target is obviously thinking those kinds of thoughts even in his current predicament. Cara can read this one like an open book. It's bad enough that others so much younger and impressionable fell so easily for his cheap charm before he slipped his mind-controlling hooks into them.

Cara smirks and then in a quick move she has her Agiel aimed right under his chin. One breath or move and then he'll get his first taste of all that Cara has to offer him, "Oh, I'm something much worse than a Mord'Sith."

The man's sickening smirk fades and Cara thinks that by the time she's taken her pound of flesh, frustration and comeuppance for his victims over the years out on this one he'll look rougher than if he'd spent the last three days in the nearest Mord'Sith temple. He's earned no less though it will have to be in moderation. Cara won't be sorry about her actions should she step over the line a touch. And she certainly won't be staying to see his judgement upon delivery. There's only one of the two living Confessors who'll be present for that and no matter which one it will still be a Confessor Amnell that Cara's acquainted with in one fashion or another. Cara prefers to skip that part.

 


 

Cara had no intention of telling Kahlan a story about one of her bounties, minus certain thoughts, but it was a strange morning. Cara tactfully exited Kahlan's hold and bed, dressed and then exited her private chambers this morning before the sun broke the horizon to avoid any awkwardness. But in the spirit of keeping her promise Cara never wandered any further than the kitchen in the palace for a while. The servants and cooks where already awake and toiling away at their daily routine when Cara entered. The young woman that Cara gained favor with was sitting at the long table breaking some eggs and when she looked up from her work she blushed. Cara grinned at her in return.

"I'd heard about his capture from Dennee since she was the one who sat at his judgment." Kahlan's pleasing voice shifts in tone to somber which is enough to override Cara's recollections. "But she never mentioned it was you that brought him to justice at the time. But deep down I knew it had to be you. No one else had succeeded. And it's not as though his paying customers were ever going to put a stop to it."

Kahlan stops at one stall in the large stable and an equally large white horse Cara recognizes as Kahlan's mount sticks his head out over the short door, "Dennee told me that when she read him that he had absolutely no empathy for his victims. No remorse for his deeds. He was only sorry that he was captured." Kahlan runs her hand from the top of the horse's forehead down to the top of his nose. "I remember that year being so hot too, going without cleansing rains, and the drought it caused. That was nearly four years ago." Kahlan's hand stills on the horse's forehead. "It was also the summer Maeve was born."

Cara's eyebrows twitch at the mention of what has to be Kahlan's youngest heir. Cara has refrained from inquiring about them in the slightest beyond her questions that first night in Kahlan's private chambers. Not even so much as the little Confessors names. It was Kahlan's idea to go for a walk after breakfast before she started her duties for the day. Ending up in the stables was also Kahlan's doing. Cara hasn't pretended to be subtle in avoiding being around the little Confessors and Kahlan is obviously being very accommodating on her end. Kahlan's probably decided that such a thing would scare Cara off and the Confessor isn't completely wrong.

Cara shrugs and then leans her shoulder against the wall next to the stall, "You would know. I only count the passage of time with the beginning and ending of the seasons." Cara watches Kahlan as she resumes petting the only formidable in size animal. "But that man was but one of the many examples of the kinds of people I've dealt with that populate this world."

Kahlan nods and then runs her hand through the horse's long white hair hanging down in his eyes, "You didn't kill him either?"

Cara wrinkles her nose at the accusation as well as the setting. Horses don't smell but their shit does like any other kind of excrement, "No, I didn't waste the Breath of Life even once on the likes of him. But I may or may not have given him an excessive taste of my Agiel in a particular area of his body."

Cara maimed the man in a manner that no one would object to save for the guilty party himself. The people of the village said nothing about the black eye, a few broken ribs or the noticeable limp that may or may not have occurred when Cara pushed him off the horse. Cara only used her Agiel on his crotch when he tried to get away from her as Cara was unbinding his hands so that he could relieve himself behind the nearest tree. Cara had no intention of pulling the man's trousers down and then handling his reason for living while said vile man pissed.

Kahlan turns to look at Cara while she fluffs the horse's hair and the animal wickers to her, "So you haven't killed anyone essentially since the quest?"

"Not that I can recall." Cara crosses her arms over her chest. "But I've wanted to. And I'm of course speaking about those types that no one in their right mind would shed a tear over."

Kahlan shoots Cara a disapproving glare for a few moments but then she smiles, "It sounds like you've lived quite an adventure over the years."

Cara arches an eyebrow at Kahlan. Cara wouldn't classify her life as an adventure; not even back during the quest which was led by a boy and his compass. To this day Cara thinks it's funny that it was unsaid that the reason Richard started growing a beard was not because of the lack of grooming options but rather to look older, tougher. The visage Richard finally achieved Cara would call furry and unwashed at best. It wasn't Cara's place back then to tell Richard how ridiculous he looked. Richard was to be coddled and indulged. Cara even contributed out of duty as much as she could stand. Richard's not a bad person though. Not by a long shot.

Cara purses her lips and shrugs up one shoulder, "Calling it an adventure is pushing it. But it was hardly ever boring or even approaching dull."

Kahlan smiles again and scratches between the horse's ears before moving away from her beastly pet, "And that's what you couldn't abide by either...being bored?"

"What's so wrong with that?"

Kahlan shrugs and then stops just in front of Cara, "Nothing." Cara meets Kahlan's icy blue gaze which seems to be both tinged with hurt and desire. "But is that part of the reason why you left?"

Cara knows this is not a question Kahlan's ever going to let go of without an answer that will satisfy her curiosity. Cara has already told Kahlan one of the main reasons she left; that being she felt her duty was complete, and while it's the truth that didn't seem to have mollified Kahlan. Cara didn't expect it to but then again Cara hadn't intended on staying in Aydindril long enough for Kahlan to badger her for more answers to uncomfortable questions. Cara doesn't even have just one answer to the question and perhaps that's what Kahlan has figured out.

Kahlan inhales a shaky breath, "Or is it because you thought your feelings for me where shameful to you? That they made you weak? Disloyal to Richard?" Cara bites the inside of her cheek to keep from flinching at all of Kahlan's direct hits. "Or was it Richard? Did you think you had no chance with me because of him? Did you leave out of fear of rejection?"

Cara glances away from Kahlan's intense gaze that has nothing to do with her confessor magic. Cara isn't going to own any of those accusations no matter how close to the truth they might prove to be. Cara has no wish to feel as though she's suddenly made of glass. All see through and easily broken.

Cara uncrosses her arms from over her chest and forces herself to look at Kahlan, "Fear?" Cara scoffs at having to even acknowledge the word which has no meaning for her. "You should know better." The notion of fear itself hasn't been relevant to Cara since she endured rats trying to gnaw on her as a part of her training. "But do you honestly think we are destined for each other?"

Kahlan gapes for a moment but then those bright blue eyes turn steely. Cara would recognize that look of determination anywhere, "I've told you in so many words and actions how I feel about you. Are you really trying to push me away again so quickly after last night?"

Cara's heart crawls up in her throat at another solid read, "No, but when did these...feelings for me happen? You speak as if you've been nursing them for ages."

On days when Cara is inclined to be more honest with herself she remembers not only hers and Kahlan's less than pleasant beginnings she also recalls all the glances and suffering through Kahlan's innocent touches when it was uninvited. Back then Cara had likened her appreciation to no more than basic lust for someone who was untouchable on many levels while finding an equal in an unlikely place.

Kahlan reaches up and brushes her hand along her forehead, "I've been aware that I was becoming attracted to you since it was just you and I during the quest." Kahlan's cheeks color slightly, her gaze and eyes softens and then she smiles. "I reasoned to myself back then that it was a wonderful surprise to see what kind of a person you'd turned out to be. That you were so much more than your training. More than what I was conditioned to expect."

Cara ducks her head down to glare at the dry dirt of the stable floor. Cara's hair falls around her face as a strong breeze blows down the hallway of the stable; kicking up some of the dry dirt which lightly settles on the toes of Cara's boots. Cara frowns at the sight of her recently shined leather being dulled. But at least they haven't been sullied by something truly profane like horseshit.

The long bright white end of Kahlan's dress begins to cover Cara's now less than pristine boots, "Then you were just gone and Richard kept looking at me like I was the answer to everything." Cara briefly closes her eyes at the sensation of Kahlan's hands cradling her face and then gently urging Cara to raise her eyes. "That I was in his eyes supposedly fated to answer and then satisfy all of his desires all while blindly hoping that his aligned with mine perfectly. So that neither one of us would have to settle for less than our heart's desires."

Kahlan's smile saddens as she grazes the sides of her thumbs along Cara's cheeks, "I played the part until I wasn't able to bear it. I couldn't be the one to do all the compromising to keep him happy." Kahlan's eyes flutter closed for a moment but once they open again Cara is drawn back into the icy blue depths. "He did not take it well when I told him that I didn't want to be with him any longer."

Cara can picture Richard being angry but mostly she pictures him pleading with Kahlan. Then when Kahlan continued to refuse his advances he would have no trouble in resorting to trying to guilt her when finally begging did not yield any favorable results. But in no world does Cara imagine any violence was involved. If Richard had been stupid enough to raise a hand to Kahlan the Confessor would've knocked him on his ass without hesitation.

Kahlan's eyes begin to take on that watery hue and the sight of it pains Cara in her chest, "I could've stayed with him to spare his feelings but where would that have left me? I found that I could not sacrifice more when I had so little left once I embraced my other responsibilities and my duty." Cara can relate. But where Kahlan had a choice Cara did not until she left and had her bond removed. "Richard eventually decided to honor his own duties and moved on to his first love." Kahlan's hands are a comforting warmth on Cara's face. "Anna is better suited to him and what he wants out of life. I could've married him as political move but I have no stomach for such arrangements and the stipulations that go hand and hand with them."

Cara's arms hang listlessly at her sides but they long to move, "And where do I factor in?"

"As I said I'm offering you a home here with me." Kahlan smiles again but this time it's far from sad. "I couldn't stop thinking about you. And I thought if I told myself enough times it was due to me missing a friend who couldn't bring herself to say goodbye then all those feelings would pass. But they didn't." Kahlan faintly shakes her head and sniffles. "Then Richard married and after certain offers, which I passed on, I ended up accepting the offer of a man in my army because he more or less reminded me of you."

Cara feels her eyes start to burn the way they did at her trial. She has never been anything more than a tool people used for most of her life up until nine years ago. This is a strange sort of interlude that Cara has been surrounded by here in Aydindril. It could almost be a dream within a dream if Cara believed in such a thing. Kahlan seems to want everything and yet nothing that isn't given freely and willingly. Cara knows the three words; she remembers them from her childhood, but she's never heard them as an adult. Cara wills the burning in her eyes to stop before they start leaking.

Cara hesitates for a breath or two before finally putting her hands on Kahlan's waist, "Are you saying that you...that you are...in l-lo with me?" Cara rolls her eyes at not quite being able to say the words which oddly seems to amuse Kahlan greatly. "Are you certain you've not been in contact with that insane amulet again? Be honest. I can take it."

Kahlan just smiles and then leans in and quickly places a short and insanely chaste kiss upon Cara's lips, "How can I not be in love with you?"

Cara's face scrunches up in confusion. Cara could make a list of how Kahlan should not be in love with her if she were in the mood to take up pen and parchment. Cara is well aware that her physical appearance is what makes securing willing bed partners for the night far from a difficult task. The rest of her is debatable to most. But Cara has never gone out of her way to get people to like her. It's a waste of energy. Kahlan for one seems to find her more than physically pleasing since there has been no intimacies exchanged between them.

For now, Cara decides not to overthink it and instead closes the scant distance between herself and Kahlan to show the Confessor what a real kiss is like before Kahlan leaves to start her daily duties. Kahlan swiftly responds in kind with a hint of tongue that Cara capitalizes on. Kahlan makes the most delectable noise in her throat and Cara smiles into the kiss before daring to deepen it a touch more and for a little longer. Kahlan's hands grip and gently hold onto Cara's face as though she's afraid of letting go. There's a warmth that Cara feels is consuming her whole.

 


 

After Kahlan left Cara in the stables Cara stood there eyeing the big white horse who was equally eyeing her back. In the end the white horse was not cowed by Cara's best stern glare. So Cara chose to inspect the other horses in the stable. Cara came across an impressive true black horse that reminded her of the ones the Mord'Sith kept. The animal's mane was long, flowing and upon a closer glance the animal had the feathering on its legs and feet. Cara gave serious thought on taking the animal out to see how it rode which she did since the beast seemed to warm to her. So Cara saddled him herself and rode out.

Cara spent the afternoon riding hard and fast but she turned around before she got too far away that she couldn't cover the distance back to Aydindril before darkness fell. The swift and powerful animal seemed to enjoy himself as much as Cara did. He was still bursting with energy when she brought him back to the stables. The stable boy said nothing when she handed the reins over to him. Cara walked out of the stable and then headed back to her room at the inn to clean up and change her leathers. Cara deemed that there wasn't a need to wear her red leathers until it's called for. Cara's white leathers are better suited for this for now.

After bathing and changing back into her white leathers Cara debated on whether she should go to the Confessor's Palace or not this evening. While Cara was deciding what to do she went down to have dinner that the inn offers. The inn's food is rather good and better yet it's quiet and without farting drunkards. As Cara dunks her next to last morsel of bread into the stew broth and then brings it up to her mouth a woman wearing white too sits down at Cara's small table in the corner. Cara looks up to see Kahlan smiling at her rather mischievously. Cara arches an eyebrow and continues chewing her food before swallowing it down.

Kahlan lightly laughs, "Did you think I wouldn't feed you if you'd came to dinner tonight at the palace?"

Cara faintly grins and reaches for the small cloth beside her bowl and wipes her mouth, "Possibly, since dinner last night involved no food. But some sharp Confessor cutlery was used as I recall."

Kahlan smiles brightly and then laughs again. Cara finds that she rather likes the sound of Kahlan's laughter. It's then that the owner of the inn bustles over to the table to greet the Mother Confessor. Cara chooses to ignore the display in favor of enjoying the remains of her dinner and looking at Kahlan while she's distracted. Kahlan orders a bowl of stew which is no surprise. Cara slides he empty bowl away and then leans back from the table and reaches for her mug of ale. The innkeeper hurries away to fetch supper for the Mother Confessor that has graced her humble establishment.

Cara eyes Kahlan over the rim of her mug before taking a drink, "Haven't you eaten already?"

Kahlan smiles warmly, "I had a small dinner with my children."

Cara takes a small drink of ale and then places her mug back down on the table, "Then shouldn't you be tucking them in; scolding them to go to sleep right about now?"

Kahlan smiles wider while leaning forward to rest her hands on the table, "I've already done that too. Minus the scolding."

Cara smirks while taking a moment to gauge her words carefully. Kahlan's children is a subject they've only touched on sparingly. Once again Cara thinks that Kahlan is easing her into the idea of them. As Cara starts to speak she catches motion out of the corner of her eye but it's only the innkeeper bringing the bowl of promised stew and some bread to the Mother Confessor free of charge no doubt. Kahlan thanks the gushing woman and then proceeds to dig into her stew. It was very good so Cara doesn't blame Kahlan for not fooling around long enough for it to get cold. Cara reaches for her mug of ale and drinks it quietly while Kahlan eats.

Cara is still reconciling the many facts that Kahlan has thrown into her lap (including herself) all afternoon. Kahlan isn't playing the kind of game Cara thought she was that is unless you count Kahlan's overt flirting and modest seduction methods and their lack of effectiveness for the most part. Cara will not be admitting anytime soon that Kahlan might not be clueless in that area for a Confessor. Mostly what has gotten to Cara as she's mulled it over was Kahlan's proven and rather harmless not quite lies. Cara didn't think the Confessor had it in her to skirt the line that closely. Cara empties her mug of ale and sets it to the side of her equally empty bowl.

"My oldest daughter is Sloane." Kahlan's voice breaks the comfortable silence they were sharing. Cara was content with listening to the crackling fireplace in the dining room filling the silence. Kahlan places her spoon down in the empty bowl and then reaches across the table to grab the small cloth that Cara wiped her mouth on to do the same with it. "Then there's Maeve."

Cara tilts her head to the side as her eyes roam over Kahlan's smiling face, "Those are...good names."

"I thought so." Kahlan places the cloth on the table and then pushes the empty bowel away and off to the side with Cara's. "Maeve reminds me of you, physically. Her hair is a slightly darker blonde than yours though. She has blue-green eyes; they're not exactly like yours either. They can't be."

Kahlan's smile falters a degree at the admission but then she recovers it, "Sloane looks like me. Dennee says that they're the younger versions of the Confessors we used to be when we were children." Kahlan leans back in her seat and despite the setting Cara thinks she looks just as regal as if she were sitting in the First Chair at the palace. "Both of Dennee's daughters have dark hair and blue eyes. Dennee still isn't fond of the face that looks back at her in the mirror. She says it's still like looking at a stranger but nonetheless a good deal better than being dead." Kahlan laughs lightly in a way that sounds forced to Cara. "I tease her that we match even more now. But it's harder to make her laugh."

Cara glances away from Kahlan. Over the years Cara has come to the conclusion that she hates the fact that she killed Dennee. Granted, it was done in Darken's name and at his behest. There was no refusing him since he could've exerted his will by using the Bond to force Cara's hand if she'd declined. But back then Cara denied nothing and did anything to please her Lord Rahl. It goes without saying that Cara finds her blind devotion to Darken disgusting now. She has thought that for more than a few years and that includes before she had her bond dissolved but not her magic.

Kahlan sighs heavily, "I didn't want to be the one to say it, certainly not tonight, but since I'm the only person here at the moment who knows the truth I want you to know that Dennee harbors no ill will towards you any longer."

Cara's head turns a little too fast towards Kahlan, "How can you know that?" Cara is almost convinced that Kahlan can actually read her now. "Dennee is within her rights to despise the ground I walk on and the dirt I will rot in too."

The words are more defensive and there was certainly too much emotion that leaked out for Cara's liking. Kahlan appears to be stunned but it's too late to take the whole thing back now. Cara decides that whatever happens next is Kahlan's fault since she's the one who brought up the damned subject.

Kahlan sighs again and leans over the table with her palms pressing against the wood surface, "She's my only sister. And we've talked many times at length about you." Cara wants to roll her eyes because she just bets they have; to be a fly on the wall during such discussions would be something alright. "I told her how in the beginning it was extremely difficult to tolerate traveling with the woman who killed my sister." Cara bites the inside of her cheek again and crosses her arms over her chest. "Then we discussed Stowecroft. The quest. And everything else in between after I'd learned that she was resurrected in another body since our magic is anchored to the soul and not to our bodies."

Kahlan smiles a bright smile as the color in her cheeks rise, "Then I told her how much you'd come to mean to me." The smile all too quickly loses some of its shine. "And how badly it hurt me when you vanished from my life."

Cara can't help but look at Kahlan as though she's lost the last shred of common sense she may or may not have been born with. This dinner has run amuck with emotions the same as last night but with a good deal less touching. Cara frowns at the notion that she might be bothered by those observations but for different reasons now that they've acknowledged having feelings. Those things have been the instruments of Cara's downfall over the course of her life.

Cara takes in a deep breath through her nose, "I was of the opinion back then that it would be far easier for all parties if I went away." Cara has to glance away from Kahlan piercing eyes. "I was tired of my duty. But I saw it through as far as I could carry it." Cara runs her index finger over the leather covering her left bicep. "I didn't see how it would matter a great deal that I left?"

Kahlan's scoffs and the sound forces Cara's attention back on Kahlan, "Well, it mattered a great deal to Richard, Zedd and least of all me. "

Cara feels what she imagines is shame in this moment. No one has really cared enough about Cara for her to disappoint them. Her very rare failures in Darken's eyes as a Mord'Sith do not count. Cara thought this business in Aydindril would end in blood which Cara is always prepared for. This though the truth is that was has happened is something Cara could never have been thoroughly equipped for. There is no training for this sort of thing other than to divorce yourself from such taxing pulls.

Cara takes a shallow breath this time and uncrosses her arms, "I'm sorry."

The words are pushed out but nonetheless Cara has never said those words in the capacity that she currently means them. The rooms feels small and Cara finds herself wishing the owner would come back to collect the dishes as a distraction. Cara feels every inch of Kahlan's gaze all the while wondering if Kahlan is trying to read her again and making no absolutely effort to be subtle about it.

Kahlan nods and then the beginnings of a small smile pulls up the corners of her mouth, "I see you've switched back to your white leathers." Kahlan lightly drums her fingers on the table top as her smile widens. "I've never had a reason to mention this, though maybe I should've after the pink dress ordeal, but before we met I wore red Mord'Sith leathers once."

Cara frowns at the insinuation of her pink degradation thanks to Kahlan's ability to get captured but then her eyes widen at the abrupt change of subject that and the fact that Kahlan is letting their original topic drop for now. That and since Kahlan has brought it up Cara can picture it with no effort whatsoever. Kahlan made that much taller in Mord'Sith boots. Her trim form bound in red leather that leaves no room for imperfections of conditioning. Those long dark locks of hair tightly pulled back to show off Kahlan's beautiful face. The Mord'Sith uniform can best be described as a deadly glamour and Kahlan would've worn such armor as though she were born to.

"Really?" Cara lets her eyes drag over Kahlan's body, even the parts that are hidden behind not only her dress but the small table that separates them. "I do believe I would've liked to have seen that."

"Oh, I bet you would." Kahlan laughs and pushes some of her hair behind her ear. "You know when I first put the leathers on I wanted to yank them off because they felt like they were constricting around me like a snake." Kahlan absently runs a hand down over her other arm where the sleeve of her dress has ridden up. "After a few minutes though they started to feel like a second skin that felt more revealing than my dress and yet I was covered from neck to toes. Zedd used magic to get my hair up into the required braid. He said that I looked fierce."

Cara smirks and leans forward to rest her elbows on the table, "And how is it you managed to safely parade around like that? Or better yet to what gain?"

"I'll have you know that I was quite convincing." Kahlan's smile wavers and then fades quickly again. Cara watches the glow dim in Kahlan and then turn dark. "And I did it to rescue Dennee when I found out that she was alive. I shackled Richard with a collar and fashioned a chain for a leash." Kahlan picks at a splinter on the table's top but then stops. "I lead him behind me with one hand while with the other I held the Sword of Truth and marched right up to where they were holding my sister. Only one guard questioned me and I backhanded him as hard as I could."

Cara wants to smile at not only the story but how none of what Kahlan has described about her ruse is at all surprising to Cara. But smiling in pride isn't a proper response given what Kahlan is sharing about Dennee again. The other Amnell Confessor is the topic that's apparently going to be discussed this night no matter what and Dennee is a difficult subject. Cara killed her and then the Mord'Sith brought Dennee back to life in another body so she could kill Cara. Kahlan might've opened the conversation playfully but there was obviously more on her mind. Perhaps this is something Kahlan felt needed to be settled between them before moving on to whatever lies ahead?

"What I found after I confessed a jailer was that my sister was destroyed." Kahlan's voice is hard. For all her smiles Cara knows that Kahlan is made of the hardest tempered steel when she needs to be. "The brutes had cut off all of her hair. It was even shorter than Richard's. They'd used her too. Badly." Kahlan's visibly jaw clenches and those blue eyes turn dark for a moment. "She was pregnant as a result and very far along. She gave birth to the boy Darken sent you after. When I saw the child was a boy I knew that no matter how innocent he was at the time what had to be done for the greater good. But I couldn't even bring myself to suggest it though after all she'd endured. How changed she was by it. Then Valeria happened."

Cara nods her head in understanding. Dennee Amnell has experienced as much pain and humiliation that no one should ever have to and then be expected to live with it. Even Mord'Sith are not degraded in such a manner to get them to break. Cara now more firmly stands behind her opinion that Dennee is entitled to hold as many grudges as she sees fit.

A tear escapes from Kahlan's eye and runs down her face leaving a wet line before slipping off the edge of her chin, "I think the last piece of the person I remembered from our childhood shattered in her that day before she died. When Dennee had to kill her own child." Another heavy tear leaves another trail down Kahlan's other cheek. "That normally is the duty of others. It's too much to ask that of...Spirits, I couldn't do what my sister did."

Cara pushes back her chair and stands. Cara can't say that she doesn't have some kind of wild urge to run in this moment. One could even say that she's been running for years now and the only times she's ever slowed was where Kahlan was involved. But even that logic is complicated and impossibly conflicted.

Kahlan's chair barely makes a noise on the floor as she pushes her seat back and stands too, "I'm sorry." Kahlan sniffles and the sound makes Cara cringe on the inside. "I didn't mean to say all that."

Cara purses her lips together, "It's fine. It needed to be said. And I don't mind. Except for the whole crying part."

Kahlan snorts and then gently nudges Cara's shoulder with her hand. Cara's reflexes are automatic and she catches Kahlan's hand before she can retract it. Kahlan gasps at the touch, at Cara's bare hand holding hers, and Cara contemplates if this is an ideal moment to kiss Kahlan. If Cara goes through with this staying business, then there will be much to get used to. But one thing Cara has come to realize that will take no getting used to is that she's always had a difficult time saying no to Kahlan. Upon reflection it seems that trait settled in and took hold years ago during the quest.

Kahlan sniffles again but it's the feeling of her fingers lacing with Cara's that is distracting, "Do my tears really offend you?" Kahlan's mouth curves up to one side in a lop-sided watery smile. "Because the last time I cried in your presence you offered me coin if I would stop."

If Cara were the blushing type, this would be the time where Kahlan would no doubt find it charming but Cara's not the blushing type. Cara narrows her eyes instead, "I don't like seeing you cry. It makes my chest hurt as though I've taken an arrow to it."

Cara's words are blurted out but she sagely leaves out the part that she's not equipped to offer comfort. Kahlan would argue against it and she may well have a point in her favor considering Cara is once again holding Kahlan's hand. But Cara doesn't get a chance to say anything further. Kahlan leans forward and gently places her lips to Cara's. Another too sweet lingering kiss and Cara is beyond compromised to lodge any protests that she actually means. A throat clearing causes Kahlan's lips to depart and Cara has to bite down on her annoyance that flares up. Of course now is the perfect time for the innkeeper to see if the Mother Confessor enjoyed her meal.

Without Kahlan's lips interrupting Cara's train of thought now though perhaps this is hidden perfect timing after all. Kahlan predictably blushes and then gushes over the stew and offers to pay. Kahlan's coin of course has no value in this place to cover services. Cara sighs under her breath and reaches into her secret coin purse in her belt and takes out a few coins and then drops them on the table. The innkeeper collects the coin, dishes and Cara's mug in one go. Cara tilts her head to the side and watches the shorter woman leave them. Did the innkeeper not offer Kahlan ale because the sainted Mother Confessor doesn't imbibe that way?

At any rate the innkeeper will have a story to tell anyone with working ears. Witnessing the Mother Confessor kissing some strange blonde woman in white leather will surely be juicy gossip. Kahlan doesn't seem to care though about any tarnishing of her name. Kahlan is still looking at Cara with that same soft look and the smile to match that not even their little interruption could diminish. Cara forces herself not to give Kahlan anything to read if she in fact can. Who is to say if Kahlan can't read her? Kahlan would never give Cara a straight answer just for the sport of it. Kahlan does have that mischievous side, along with her iron will, that is balanced out by her smiles and endless compassion.

Kahlan steps closer and then reaches up and runs her hand through Cara's hair with a smile, "As odd as what I'm about to say may seem to you but I often wondered if you'd grown your hair out? I'm glad to see that you didn't."

Cara makes it a point to gaze into those knowing eyes that are as clear as the bright blue sky on a clear sunny day, "Keeping my hair short is my choice. That and I had no need to grow my hair out to suit a Mord'Sith braid ever again."

Kahlan nods and then her tongue darts out to wet her bottom lip, "Stay with me again tonight?"

Cara feels it in her bones that this is a pivotal moment. Like in battle when you have one chance for a kill shot; where everything lines up and all you have to do is follow through. Kahlan is treading the border of not quite asking but not demanding either. So Cara simply nods and then moves past Kahlan towards the door to leave the inn. Cara thinks that if she keeps going to Kahlan's then there is no point in having a room at the inn that she pays for only for it to go unused. What a waste of coin that would be and Cara isn't in a habit of wasting things. It goes against every fiber of her being.

Cara opens the door and stands there; holding it for Kahlan, who smiles at her as she passes by and steps out into the night air. Cara smirks and rolls her eyes. Aydindril appeared to be a trap when taking into account how the invitation was extended and if that was not the case then it couldn't possibly pan out to be more than an exercise in boredom. Cara could say that she is happy to be wrong this time and maybe she is. Stranger things have been known to happen. And from where Cara's currently standing there's no greater proof required if you're still in need of convincing.

Chapter Text


 

Eight Magically Obscure Years Ago (Again)...

 

One good thing about this situation so far is that this wizard doesn't spout the words 'powerful magic' nearly as much as Zedd was known to do. Cara's ears are thankful for that fact. Otherwise, it's taken a year to find someone capable and then for Cara to earn enough money to buy her freedom. Before finding a means to shed her link to the Rahl bond Cara had to stick to the territories beyond its reach to render it useless in its calling to her. All the Rahl bond is good for in Cara's mind now is to remove her freewill from her. Mind you, Cara didn't come to this decision lightly. Walking away from Richard Cypher, the true Lord Rahl, wasn't easy but it became less cumbersome the further Cara's desire to escape took her.

Cara glances around the nicely appointed room she now stands in and she’s growing more impatient with each moment thanks to a waffling long-winded man, "Explain it to me again, wizard."

This wizard Cara found still has color in his hair and it's nowhere near as long or as white as Zedd's. But where Zedd was clean-shaven this wizard, of the Second Order no less, has a beard that rivals the length of Zedd's long wispy mane of hair. This wizard has short rusty brown hair while his beard is long and red. It's quite a clashing contradiction to look at. He is also a good deal younger than Zedd by several decades or possibly ages. Cara could care less though. The only thing she has a care for is getting her coin's worth so that the permanent removal of her bond will be dealt with for the last time. No D'Haran is without the Rahl bond so Cara will be the first. That is unless of course this wizard is trying to distract Cara from the fact that he's wasting her time and coin.

The wizard huffs out an aggravated sigh, "My name is Uilleam for what feels like the thousandth time not 'wizard'." The man grumbles as he brushes past Cara towards a shelf to begin picking through a few glass vials and bottles on the shelf. "But if that's too much for you then Liam is adequate. Though that nickname is usually only reserved for close friends."

Cara arches an eyebrow and crosses her arms over her chest, "I'm closer to you than a friend in my opinion since I'm paying you, Liam."

The wizard's shoulders move up in slight shrug, "Yes, right. That you are." Liam then moves a few bottles to the side; the glass bottles faintly clink against one another as he selects and then upon inspection of the yellowing labels he discards another from his search. "But for no easy feat may I remind you."

Cara's aware of that truth. Cara full well knows that she isn't asking for something that one just dusts off and hands over like an old book. Cara was born with this affliction as it were and then she was singled out to have it honed so she could be exploited. A tool to be used by her betters. Cara wants this invisible yoke off her soul all the same so that she may go anywhere she pleases. Cara has been contemplating going to visit Grace and at this moment that's not possible. Not if Cara wishes to remain unseen to Richard and most certainly Zedd. Cara tries to not think about a certain Mother Confessor any more than she can prevent it. Sometimes though Cara concedes to herself that may be futile.

Cara purses her lips together, "Be that as it may I would like to know what my coin has bought before you go chanting and waving your hands around." Cara eyes the wizard closely; at his blue robes that are clean and without a sign of a single frayed edge. "Cutting the head off a sheep or whatever it is that you've decided on that will correct my problem?"

Liam huffs out a short laugh, "You're rather sarcastic for a Mord'Sith. It's unexpected." Liam selects three bottles and one slender vital from his ingredients shelf. "But yes, after some lengthy research I found that there was no way to safely destroy your bond that would leave you with your magic let alone stay alive." Liam smiles and turns around to face Cara. "So it was back to the drawing board."

Cara feels a growl wanting to crawl up and then out of her throat, "You mean to tell me that I've come all the way here for nothing?" Cara uncrosses her arms to rest a hand on the handle of one her Agiels. Its pain promptly races up and then sizzles along the length of her arm. "I didn't pay for some piss poor attempt at humor, wizard. So wipe that smile off your face."

Liam's smile fades while he narrows his grey eyes at Cara, "As I was saying, it was back to the drawing board." Cara suppresses a grin; this wizard is as mouthy as Zedd and he has a spine too. "And thanks to some clever thinking, deligence and all around ability I found that the best I can offer you is a transfer of sorts." Liam smiles again and then waves his hand in Cara's direction. "If you will. Or at least that's the short version."

Cara moves her hand off the handle of her Agiel, "Then I suggest that you continue. Only hurry up and get to the damn point and stop singing your own praises."

Liam rolls his eyes as he clutches his little bottles and vial to his chest, "So impatient and rude too. But you're Mord'Sith so I'll make allowances and ignore it." Liam moves past Cara and heads into what looks like a room that he cooks and spells in. Cara follows after him; glaring at the back of his dark blue swishing robe. "And the point is that a member of the Rahl bloodline holds the bond so I'm suggesting a transfer to you; like when you were granted the magic against the magic." Liam carefully places the bottles one by one on the long table and then the vial. "You alone will be in control of your bond. No one else. It's also worth mentioning that I anticipate the magical transfer will change your magic of course but you will still have it. Who knows, you may even acquire a gain magic-wise but I guarantee that you will not lose any of what you currently possess."

Cara has already considered the possibility that she might lose her magic and ultimately decided it was a risk she is willing to take. If the Lord Rahl were to die without an heir, then she would lose her magic and her Agiels would be useless. At least this way it would be her own doing and it's not as though Cara is useless without her Agiels.

"Fine." Cara smirks and places a hand on her hip. "Work your magic, Liam."

The wizard uncorks one bottle and sniffs its contents, "Oh, it's 'Liam' now is it?"

Cara rolls her eyes, "I'm paying you to use your magic not to listen to use your mouth excessively."

Liam snorts and recorks the bottle in his hand before placing it back on the table, "There's that sass again." Liam picks up another bottle, uncorks it, and then sniffs it too. "I think I could grow to like it just so you know."

Cara arches an eyebrow at the man in front of her. Liam grins and places the cork back in that small bottle too before turning and then pulling out a small spelling pot from under the table. Liam is not unattractive for a wizard of indeterminate age. Liam has a darker complexion than Cara's own but not out of place for this area of the Midlands so close Galea and yet not far from the border to Tamarang. Liam snaps his fingers and his beard is instantly done up in a tight intricate braid that will most certainly keep the hair out of whatever concoction he is gearing up to fix.

Liam clears his throat, "Before we begin do you mind telling me why is it that you want your bond removed?"

Cara leans forward and places both gloved hands on the edge of the table, "I do mind. And it's none of your business."

Liam sighs and uncorks all of the bottles one at a time before proceeding to dabble small amounts from each of the four bottles into the small spelling pot, "I'm only asking since I need to know your intentions for the magic to work."

Cara purses her lips. Intentions amount to quite a lot even when you think that they don't. Cara would normally say nothing but that won't get the spell or whatever done. Cara knows what the wizard is not saying with words; that her bond is inactive now since she's not in D'Hara so what more must this castoff Mord'Sith want?

Cara splays her gloved hands out on the table and looks up into the wizard's grey eyes, "It's not important to anyone to but me." Cara's fingers twitch inside the leather of her gloves. "But if you must know this is about my freedom. Nothing more."

Liam stares at Cara for a moment and then nods his head, "Good enough then." Liam offers Cara a small smile and then waves his hand over the small pot. Cara feels magic in the air and then steam starts rising from the pot though there is no fire beneath it. "First, we begin by purifying you. The spell has no chance of working without this step."

Cara chuckles. How can she not at the insinuation? Zedd once commented on it himself but that was back during the disaster where Cara had to wear a dress and behave as though she had diminished thought capacity. Near the end of the contest though Cara had gotten bored of pretending to be so inferior. Thus she took her frustration out on a Shadrin and then eating its liver since it was the only amusement Cara could draw out of the ruse. Not to mention Cara hated fighting in that stupid dress.

Liam shakes his head, "I'm not speaking about your virtue."

Cara rolls her eyes, "Then what are you saying?"

Liam reaches under the table again and produces a small cup without a handle. Liam picks up the small pot and then pours the liquid into the cup, "This is a cleansing potion." Liam sets the pot down and off to the side and then pushes the small cup across the table towards Cara. "Drink it."

Cara hesitates. It could be poison but she doesn't have anything left to lose but her life at this point. Though Cara hasn't decided how valuable it is in her current state. Cara straightens up and reaches for the small cup. Cara brings it up to her mouth; it smells minty. Cara glares at Liam over the rim of the cup before she presses the cup to her lips and drains the liquid in one go. The minty taste fills Cara's mouth and after a moment she forces herself to swallow it down. It's not a horrible taste but it's certainly not wine or even the most watered-down tavern ale.

Cara slams the small cup back down on the table and grins, "Now what?"

Liam scoffs, "Now I need a drop of your blood upon some parchment to activate the spell I've written out on it."

Cara smirks and crosses her arms over her chest, "A contract inked in blood? I must say wizard I'd be disappointed if there wasn't a need for blood to be shed." Cara watches Liam shake his head as he puts the small spelling pot away and the cup. "As a Mord'Sith that's one of the reasons we wear red; so people won't be able to see us bleed."

Liam reaches under the table again but this time he emerges with a rolled up parchment in his hand, “But you aren't a Mord'Sith anymore though you still wear your leathers? And after the spell runs its course you definitely won't be a Mord'Sith regardless of your uniform and training."

Cara bites down on her lower lip and nods, "That's the idea. A Mord'Sith is bound to the Lord Rahl and that's a duty I don't want anymore."

Liam moves around the end of the table and pauses beside Cara, "I understand. I know how a Mord'Sith is made. What is required of you come Underworld and beyond for as long as you draw breath."

Cara uncrosses her arms and turns to face Liam who is standing rather close to her. This wizard has no fear. Cara can admire that. She does in fact. Cara looks up into his grey eyes and for a minute she wonders if she could read this man like Kahlan what would she see? Would Cara even want to see as a Confessor does? Cara shakes her head and frowns for a moment at where her thoughts have led her to.

"Let's get this over with, wizard." Cara smirks confidently up at Liam. "Time is a wasting and we're both not getting any younger."

Liam chuckles lowly, "There's that sass again."

Cara purses her lips together, "How exactly am I to bleed on your parchment?"

Liam holds up a finger and then with a twist of his wrist a small curved knife appears in his hand, "With this. But before we get started I would like to go over the wording of the spell with you first." Liam offers the small knife to Cara which she takes. Liam then unrolls the parchment and holds it to where Cara can see the words. Liam's writing is quite legible for a wizard. "The spell is worded simply as you can see. I thought it best so that the magic would respond more strongly. I find being wishy-washy will only lead to disaster like using a sheep for a blood sacrifice?"

Cara grins as her eyes skim over the words and true to Liam's suggestion there is nothing about the spell that is not clear and concise. It's too bad Zedd didn't practice magic the way Liam appears to. But Cara has long since come to the opinion that Zedd relished in being eccentric. Playing up to his title of First Order and his name. Zedd wanted to create his own legend and the persona to go along with it. Cara can't fault the old wizard though. Still, it would've been more helpful during the quest if Zedd's magic didn't act like it was broken half of the time. Or that he didn't eat enough to sustain four people every time they happened upon food. A person could lose their appetite with one glance at Zedd while he was shoving food into his maw.

"Then I'm ready when you are, Liam."

The wizard nods his head and then gestures with his hand. The small room they were standing in expands and fills with the light of several candles. Cara does her best to not be impressed with the display of magic. There's an alter that appears in the center of the room complete with a large red unlit candle sitting on top of the small pedestal.

Liam walks into the new space and then stops at the altar, "I'll need to form a circle before you draw blood. But first I'm going to invoke the magic and then recite the spell."

Cara nods and glances around the room again as Liam starts chanting and the push of magic wafts around her. Cara squeezes the small knife in her grip. Cara did not stumble upon Uilleam by accident. No, he was recommended by a woman who had asked Cara for help in finding her younger sister some months back. The woman had limited coin and in the spirit of bargaining Cara asked in her own direct way if there were any useful magic-welders in the vicinity. The woman was reluctant and her compliance was only swayed to Cara's favor after Cara assured her that no harm was intended. That Cara simply needed some assistance in something magic-related. So after Cara returned with the woman's younger sister the woman gave Cara directions to find Uilleam.

But Cara had to wait another month after finding and striking a deal with Uilleam before he finally sent word to her in a nearby village that she should come at once. That the spell was ready if she was. So here Cara is and thus far Uilleam has kept his word to the letter. He's still chanting because all wizard's do that. Cara grips the handle of her Agiel with her other hand at another strong buffet of magic tingling along her skin. The Agiel's magical pain counters the push and helps clear Cara's focus. All Cara would have to do to stop to this is simply raise her hand and push it away. But then everything goes still again and Uilleam goes quiet. He turns away from the alter and Cara finds herself face to face with him once more. Cara lets her hand slip off the handle of her Agiel.

"The rest is up to you, Cara." Liam steps away from the alter and then beckons Cara forward. "I don't know if there will be any pain when the magic works. But I suspect if there is you won't so much as flinch?"

Cara grins as she steps up to the alter, "You'd be correct."

Liam hands Cara the parchment which she takes, "Now I'm going to draw a circle around you to contain the spell and the magic." Liam raises both of his arms and traces a large circle in the air. Cara feels the magic surrounding her. Liam drops his arms and offers Cara a small smile. "Now just prick your finger with the knife and allow only one drop of blood upon the parchment. The candle on the alter in the circle with you will light when the magic is binding to you." Liam reaches up and then tugs on his braided beard. "And to finally to seal the spell just burn the parchment in the flame of the candle. The circle will break on its own when the spell is complete."

Cara nods her head and looks over the parchment again. Hesitation is not in her blood so Cara squats down and lays the parchment on the floor. Cara places the small curved knife down on the floor as well. Cara flexes her hands in her gloves and then starts pulling the glove off her right hand one finger at a time until the whole glove slips off. Cara picks up the small knife and makes a deep cut in her index finger. The blood wells to the surface and Cara quickly holds her hand and bleeding finger over the parchment. A single drop flows down her finger and drops off the end in a heavy teardrop. The red splatters on the parchment right in the middle. Cara wipes her bloody finger off on the thigh of her leathers. Cara feels tingle of magic and she watches as the wound on her fingertip heals over. The candle on the pedestal lights.

Cara glances up at Liam briefly and smirks. Cara then picks up the parchment in her bare hand and rises to her full height. Cara turns towards the large red candle and its tall searing flame. The heat coming off of it is hotter than a regular candle which is what Cara assumes is how it's supposed to be. Cara's blood is already dry on the parchment; it's a large red blob, a proper obscenity where it upon some sacred writ and perhaps it is. Cara holds the parchment over the flame of the candle just out of reach of the steady flame. Cara grins and dips a corner of the parchment into the flame. The parchment is quickly consumed but as Cara moves to let go of the parchment she finds that she can't. Cara takes a deep breath as the flame starts to burn red as it crawls closer to where Cara's fingertips are being forced to hold on to the parchment.

Cara closes her eyes as the flame reaches her fingertips. She forces her iron will to channel any pain of the flame now covering her hand. The burn feels deep but Cara knows it’s not to the bone. This is close to the pain that her Agiels feel like when she holds them in her hands. The niggling pain moves further up her arm and then spurs deep within her chest. Again it feels like an Agiel. Cara huffs out a rough breath and opens her eyes. Cara's first instinct is to take in the damaged of her charred bare hand but it's untouched by the flame and the paper is long gone. A sharp pain pierces Cara right where her heart lies within her chest but she does not make a sound. Instead, Cara closes her eyes and channels the pain inwards, to own it, to master it like she was taught. Then the pain stops as abruptly as it began. As Cara glances towards the red candle its flame snuffs out and the magical circle Liam set breaks.

Liam claps his hands together and laughs, "I knew that would work! Now all that's left is to bury the candle."

Cara turns towards Liam and smirks, "I take it there's a certain place for that?"

Liam smiles and shakes his head, "You'd be correct."

Cara bends down and picks up her glove and starts working it back onto her hand, "Do I have to do it or is this something you can accomplish?"

Liam crosses his arms over his chest and strokes his hand down over his braided beard again, "It would be better if you did it."

Cara nods her head and then reaches down again to pick up the small curved knife off the floor as well, "Where do I need to do this?" Cara has an inkling as to what Liam's going to suggest so all Cara can do is prefer that she's wrong about the location that just popped up in her thoughts. Cara turns the knife over in her hands before offering it handle first to Liam. "I'm not going to like it, am I?"

Liam takes the small knife and with another twist of his wrist it vanishes into thin air, "You need to bury the candle deep in the ground from where you were born."

Cara chuckles under her breath, "That's what I thought." Cara reaches for her Agiel and as her hand grazes the handle she doesn't feel any pain. Cara frowns and grips the handle harder. "Wizard, my Agiels aren't working."

Liam rolls his eyes, "As I said the bond has been transferred so everything will be different now in regards to your magic. I assure you they're still extremely painful when used on others." Liam snaps his fingers and then his beard's braid gracefully undoes itself. "But if it makes you feel better you can try them out on someone on your way to bury the candle."

Cara is suddenly giving serious thought to trying them out on Liam but then she thinks better of it. Cara releases her grip on her Agiel's handle and then grabs the red candle off the pedestal. Cara then reaches into the hidden compartment inside her belt and pulls out a pouch of coins. Cara is no fool. The deal she struck with Uilleam was half upfront and the other half after the spell was done. Cara tosses the coin pouch at Uilleam who catches it. The coin pouch jingles in his hands as he slips it inside of his robes.

Cara tucks the candle under her arm as she pushes past Liam, "See you around, wizard."

Liam turns and takes a step after Cara, "You could stay for dinner and then the night if you like?"

Cara pivots to the side and smirks at Liam, "I've got somewhere I need to be." Cara places her hand on the door latch and it unfastens with a click. "Besides, I don't think you could handle me. That and I don't care for facial hair even if you do magically braid it."

Liam laughs and Cara opens the door and steps outside into the late afternoon sunshine. It would appear that Cara's going to visit Grace sooner rather than later. But this time if Grace's stupid husband tries to have Cara arrested then Cara's going to go after him with her Agiels and not hold back until there's blood and there will be blood if things turn less than civil. Cara of course will scout out Stowecroft before she sets foot in it again. Cara assumes that tossing the candle in the dirt anywhere in the village will suffice but if the opportunity presents itself Cara plans to bury it within the grounds around her childhood home. The thought of what will happen to the magic next when Cara performs the last gesture of the spell springs to mind.

Cara removes the candle out from under her arm as she walks up to her horse. The animal stops picking through the grass next to the tree Cara tied the reins to and raises its head. The horse clears his nose and continues chewing the mouthful of grass that's half-hanging out of the sides of his mouth. Cara grins and steps up to the beast and then opens the saddlebag and slips the red candle inside. Cara has a long journey ahead of her but the wizard didn't say anything about a time limit. Cara not about to rush to Stowecroft when there's other places that are far more welcoming on the way. Like a brothel; where there is slim to none in the way of facial hair to irritate and scratch Cara's face.

 


 

Cara is slowly coming around to the fact that it's been two weeks now since she has mostly succumbed to the temptation of Kahlan's offer in remain in Aydindril. Cara has spent a few nights in Kahlan's bed, where nothing has progressed beyond heated kisses, and indulging Kahlan's need for closeness. Oddly, Cara has been fine with this development for three reasons. One, Cara only just finished tolerating her monthly. Two, perhaps Kahlan was having her monthlies as well? And three, there is the greater issue of Kahlan's magic. Cara is ready to brave it again like she used to back during the quest but the allure this time is vastly different for a few very good reasons too.

Back then for Cara the allure of confronting Kahlan's magic may or may not have been tied to the deadly thrill of experiencing more pain than any Mord'Sith could ever survive. Cara witnessed first-hand how Kahlan's powers took Mistress Nathair and then Dahlia took the full force of it and did not live to speak about it. Yet another reason for Cara was after the confrontation at the pillars Cara was envious that Richard could withstand Kahlan's magic and not only live to begin with but it turned out that he could keep his free will to boot. It was all a trite fable of unfairness really. But now Cara wonders if since she's far removed from being a Mord'Sith what would happen if she took the brunt of Kahlan's magic with only her own magic to buffet it?

Cara supposes though that when or if Kahlan's ready for intimacies that the old metal magic-suppressing collar will be presented as the only option. It's either that or Cara has more or less agreed to be Kahlan's platonic companion to which Cara would be fine with where she not restricted from bedding others. Kahlan's already mentioned Cara's little dalliance with the barmaid more than once now. Upon reflection Kahlan makes it sound as though Cara failed a test and there's no denying that she did at this point. Another thing that Cara has begun to consider during her chaste nights with Kahlan and her cuddling tendencies is that perhaps it's Kahlan's idea of punishment. And if so Kahlan is subtle and highly skilled at torture.

Cara shakes her head to clear her array of thoughts and glances towards the horizon. The partly overcast afternoon skies are not so gloomy that they're masking the faraway mountains that are snow-capped. Cara thinks it's only a matter of time before all that cold bluster makes its way to these only slightly less elevated mountains. The gardens around the palace is Cara's currently spot for respite at the moment from Kahlan who should be taking break from her daily duties about now to remain objective as she calls it. Kahlan still talks alot not that Cara expected that to change with time. More worrisome to Cara than Kahlan's chattiness though is that Cara fears that word has gotten around Aydindril about who exactly she is to Kahlan, their sainted Mother Confessor?

Cara rolls her eyes and takes a moment to debate whether or not going for a ride now will chase away all the clutter in her head. A stout breeze whips through the gardens and blows Cara's hair across her face. Cara frowns and runs a hand through her hair to move it when a high-pitched squeal carries across the garden. On reflex Cara reaches for her Agiels and starts walking briskly in the direction it came from. If the Home Guard keeps lying down on its already subpar job of guarding the Mother Confessor then perhaps Cara should remain to do the job since they're hopeless. Cara moves with purpose but still with stealth as she comes up to a large wall of green. The Confessor Gardens are big on natural fences.

Cara uses her Agiel to push aside some green growth in the hedge to peer through the deliberate monstrosity. The green sizzles, burns and then browns as it gives way to Cara's inspection as she withdraws her Agiel. Cara's grateful that there no flowers blooming in the gardens since all of those troublesome weeds are on their deathbed this time of year. Cara sees nothing at first and there are no more screams but then a loud laugh breaks the silence. Cara relaxes but still doesn't put away her Agiel. There are three laughs then; two high-pitched, children's laughter followed by Kahlan's laugh. Cara frowns and then slips her Agiel back into its sheath.

And finally there are the two best reasons that Cara has no business staying here in a city built for Confessor's. There are two small girls; one dark and one light playing in the grass without a care in the world. Kahlan can't seem to see that though or maybe she just doesn't want to. Kahlan is still being held captive by her feelings; they rule over in ways that make the ferocious and endless demands of a black-hearted tyrant seem quaint by comparison. Cara takes a deep breath and looks away from the two girls who are chasing each other around in a circle. Another light breeze chills the air in the gardens as Cara hears light footsteps moving slowly behind her and to her right.

Cara smirks before turning to greet her stalker, "You still can't sneak up on me, Kahlan."

"I wasn't trying to." Kahlan smiles and clasps her hands together in front. "Not really."

Cara nods her head and glances off to the side; towards the horizon again where angry-looking dark grey clouds are gathered around the distant mountains like gothic halo. If Cara remains here winter will be hard. Cara hates winter now since the novelty of snow wore off. Cara has moved around the Midlands over the years but once her bond was gone she has always spent the winter months in D'Hara where that white season of death can't reach.

Kahlan lowly clears her throat and steps closer to Cara, "Are my children the reason that you're still hesitant to commit to staying here with me?"

Cara's eyes widen. This is too much. But at the same time Cara's not surprised. Kahlan has said those three words many days ago and Cara has a troubling pain in her chest as of late. Cara knows that she's not far off from reciprocating such words. Cara's been having trouble lying to herself about that lately but that is nothing new. However, it is something she hasn't done since the quest, since the night at the pillars when she made up her mind to leave once everyone was asleep.

Kahlan sighs, unclasps her hands and closes the remaining distance while she reaches for Cara's gloved hands, "You know that I had to produce heirs. I had no choice in the matter." Kahlan's lower lip wobbles and Cara feels her eyes burn at the sight. "Neither did Dennee. The burdens of us once being the last of our kind." Kahlan's icy blue eyes are glossy with tears. "A part of me secretly feels sorry for my daughters already and Dennee's too since they will suffer the same fate." Cara feels Kahlan's touch keenly even through her gloves. "If I hadn't, if we hadn't, then the Confessor line would've died with us." Kahlan bites down on her lower lip as tears escape her eyes to leave two wet trails down both of her cheeks. "Perhaps Dennee and I should've refrained? Simply walked hand and hand into extinction to spare the four of them what they will grow up to become? What will be expected of them their whole life?"

A fresh dose of that sensation in Cara's chest makes itself known again. Cara can only liken it to what it feels like to take a few arrows in that very spot for the first time. There has been only one place that Cara belonged even though it was against her will and she was eventually cast out. Cara even tried going home all those years ago, before joining the Seeker and the Lord Rahl all wrapped into one, only to find there was no place for her there anymore once the quest was over. But Cara still visits Grace even though Cara doesn't trust Grace's husband any further than she could throw him particularly after he ratted her out. But the way Cara understands family relations now though is that it's normal to despise your brother-in-law.

Another example of a happy child's laughter pierces the brisk mountain air and Kahlan lets go of one of Cara's hands and wipes at her tears. She smiles then though it's watery at best, "I love them dearly though. Like you." Another set of tears slides down Kahlan's face and she absently wipes them away. "And I can't fathom the thought of a life without them anymore than I can without you any longer."

Cara inhales sharply and then squeezes Kahlan's hand in hers, "Why were you so...why did you want?" Cara frowns slightly at her inability to express herself as keenly as she does on other matters. Especially this matter that has figured heavily in Cara's thoughts since Kahlan freely admitted it. "Why is it important to you that your youngest resembles me?"

Kahlan's barely drying icy blue eyes quickly turn glossy again, "Because I wanted that with you." Cara wants to glance away again at being confronted with more of Kahlan's endless supply of tears. Or maybe just flash a wry smirk and tell Kahlan that such a thing would never have been possible no matter how hard they tried. Cara chooses to hold her tongue instead. At some point she's going to have figure out a way to prevent Kahlan from crying so much. "And I understand this is a lot. That you're not certain of your place here. But I just don't want to waste any more time. I've waited too long as it is."

Cara has never been fond of wasting time herself which is way she's never had a care for explaining herself not when actions have never failed to serve her better. So Cara pulls Kahlan in close and presses her lips to Kahlan's and the Confessor responds with a pleased little squeak. Cara smiles into the kiss that she doesn't hesitate to deepen it. The speed at which Cara has gotten used to kissing Kahlan would be troubling if it didn't feel so right and as easy and natural as drawing breath. Cara feels Kahlan's hands wandering up her torso with purpose; grazing over her breasts, then her neck to finally settle on cradling her face. Cara sighs and moves her hands around Kahlan's waist and pulls her in tighter.

A low moan slips past Kahlan's lips. Cara smiles into the kiss again as she takes Kahlan's lower lip between hers. One of Cara's hands dip lower on Kahlan's waist which unfortunately causes Kahlan to break the kiss. Cara opens her eyes to a bright smile and only lightly reddened around the edges pale blue eyes. Kahlan immediately blushes and Cara thinks that such a response only enhances Kahlan's considerable beauty. The Mother Confessor could have anyone she wished regardless if she used to her powers to obtain it or not. Once more Cara thinks that if Kahlan had showed this much interest all those years ago where would they be now even though such thoughts are useless.

Kahlan's smiles fades a little but her touch on Cara's face doesn't waver in the slightest, "I really would've preferred it if you'd refrained from sleeping with that barmaid." Kahlan's smile brightens once more. "But I forgive you. Just please don't do something like that again? I can't bear it."

Cara dips her head until her hair hides her face. Cara isn't ashamed of her actions; predictable as they were to Kahlan, since what is done is done, "I didn't understand...what you wanted of me. I thought it was all nothing more than a game." Cara frowns at the sudden realization of how rough she's apparently lived over the years. How that way of existing changed her view on Kahlan Amnell of all people? "I will not shame you in such a way now that I better understand what you feel for me." Cara feels those gentle brushes of Kahlan's thumbs along her cheekbones; urging her gaze upwards. Kahlan smiles and Cara marvels at those shining blue eyes gazing back at her. "Though it may take a lifetime to comprehend why?"

Kahlan smiles wider and Cara automatically mirrors the action. Kahlan strokes her thumbs along Cara's cheeks again as a blush rises in Kahlan's cheeks once more, "Spirits, I love your smile."

Cara goes to speak but then she catches movement behind Kahlan but Cara quickly sees it's no threat to Kahlan. Cara reaches up and gently moves Kahlan's hands off her face. Kahlan looks confused for a moment so Cara mouths 'behind you' and Kahlan turns to greet her two daughters who've obviously come looking for their mother. The taller one with dark brown hair is holding the smaller blonde one’s hand. They both close the small space and run towards Kahlan. Cara feels the urge to run in the opposite direction. The two small girls hold onto a side each of the long white skirt of Kahlan's dress. It's too quiet and they're both staring at Cara with matching expressions of confusion and awe. For a moment Cara wishes she were wearing her red and black combat leathers instead of her informal whites with their touches of red and black too.

Kahlan clears her throat and smiles, "Girls, this is my friend Cara that I've told you stories about."

The instance Cara has been wary of is here at last. But even though things feel too quiet to Cara's immediate surprise she now has three Confessors smiling at her if you count the two little ones. Cara has no idea what to say and her past experiences with children are not good. Kahlan's oldest, Sloane, looks to be just two years shy of the age where she would be taken for training if she were selected by the Mord'Sith. Cara knows that can never happen though but technically it's already happening just differently since she's a Confessor. There is no doubt in Cara's mind that Kahlan will pass on her weapons training to her daughters. All of that notwithstanding Cara is still not ready for this confrontation no matter how friendly it seems.

The little blonde Confessor to be smiles up at Cara and notes that the small girl is missing two of her front teeth, "Cara?" Kahlan's voice has that amused tone to it that causes Cara to frown. Cara glares at Kahlan on sheer principal which unfortunately doesn't seem to phase the woman. "Would you like to join us for lunch?"

Cara's right eye twitches, "Must I?"

Kahlan smirks and the two girls half-hiding in Kahlan's white skirts just smile more if that were possible, "Yes."

Cara rolls her eyes, "Then what are we waiting for?" And not interested in standing in the line of fire of the Confessor smiling squad; Cara saunters past Kahlan and her children who are wearing those silly smiles like it's their favorite thing to do. "That is unless the three of you would just like to stand there and keep staring at me?"

The last word is important but then Cara hears three separate muffled giggles behind her back. She sees no humor in this since it's at her expense. But it could be worse though Cara rationalizes as she turns her head to see Kahlan strides up beside her; holding the little blonde one, Maeve, on her hip. The little girl grins and then waves. Cara purses her lips together. Cara can only imagine what kind of nonsense Kahlan has filled her daughter's heads with about her. Kahlan's probably not only blabbed about the blue bugs but that damned pink dress and the tiara too. To this day Cara feels the punishment of wearing that getup is worse than anything the Keeper himself could fathom on a day of absolute clarity.

Cara glances at two elite members of the Home Guard who are standing at the private entrance to the palace. It's not the two morons that were tasked with annoying Cara into coming to Aydindril since they're far from reaching the status of elite. All the same though Cara watches the two men smile at the little dark-haired Confessor, Sloane, who is walking ahead of them all. Cara glares at the two men as she passes by them. Cara hears a faint slip of laughter from Kahlan again. Cara rolls her eyes. This lunch is probably going to be as bad as that first dinner where Kahlan ended up throwing one of her daggers right by Cara's head which is not necessarily a bad thing. The one bad thing now though is there will be an audience for what will surely be a spectacle considering how things have been going between them lately.

 


 

The algae-tinged water in the river is mostly still; barely a few ripples breaks the glass-like surface save for the reflection of the tree line casting against it. Cara is still too. She could even hear the steady beat of her heart if she were to listen closely enough. Cara's ears are occupied though while her thoughts are clear and focused on her mission. There is another flank of Mord'Sith waiting on the other embankment of the lake. The ambush couldn't be more ideal than if Cara had planned it herself. This time it was Mistress Kahlan's keen mind that arranged this strategic attack. Cara wasn't trained with Kahlan; instead she was sent to Cara's temple only a month ago from another temple closer to the border of the Midlands. But time or not Cara has swiftly concluded that Mistress Kahlan is eager to prove herself.

There is movement on the water and further down the shoreline. A part of Cara takes great satisfaction in how predictable people are and the ones that devote their time to planning rebellions are no different. Cara smirks and rests a hand on the handle of her Agiel. She's waited all through the night for this battle and sleeping on the cold, hard ground doesn't endear Cara's mood towards pleasant. Not that anyone would call Cara jovial to her face unless they wanted to eat her Agiel with their morning gruel. There is a small craft moving slowly on the water; there can be no more than four persons on board. But then again the craft is clearly designed for carrying mostly goods not people except for the ones needed to row and steer. Cara squeezes the handle of her Agiel as seven riders on horseback follow the progress of the boat along the shoreline.

Cara smiles as the boat turns and heads towards the shore towards the riders that are dismounting their horses. Cara is merely waiting for the signal to begin the attack. Cara breathes shallowly through her nose as the boat makes land and the man on the boat throws a length of rope to the men on the shore. Cara could've been on the other group of her sisters with the bows but it was decided that Cara was to be used as an advantage in brute force. Cara's grip on her Agiel tightens; the moment is close, the craft is docked and three people are stepping off it. The odds are evenly matched if you were to go strictly by the numbers. But considering there are six of Cara's sisters out there too the men are severely outnumbered and have no chance. Cara thinks that this is as good a day to die as any.

An arrow lands square in the chest of one of the riders and Cara smirks and draws her Agiel while breaking her cover. Mistress Kahlan appears beside her quickly as they reach the shoreline. The riders draw their swords while the three men go for the tree where the length of rope holding the craft is tied to. Another Mord'Sith arrow takes out the man before he can reach the rope. The two other men stall before yelling at each other; they can't decide how or where to run. Cara feels like telling them any direction they choose will only end one way. One of the riders steps up to Cara and moves to slash at her with his sword. Cara sways out of his reach and ducks down to drive her Agiel in his stomach. He goes down on his knees with a howl of pain. Cara smiles and smashes her Agiel against the side of his head.

Cara glances to her right to see Mistress Kahlan being flanked by two of the riders. One is carrying an axe instead of a sword and as he goes to swing Kahlan spins out of the reach of the weapon and drives her Agiel into the side of his neck. The man barely makes a sound before dropping to the ground. Cara feels a rush of air by her side which as she sidesteps she sees another rider who had just missed his target with his sword. Cara smirks and dodges another swing but as she right herself she brings her Agiel up to block his next move. The weapons clash but the sound is not that of steel on steel. Cara's Agiel whines as she uses her strength to push the man away. He stumbles back and Cara sees that he has an arrow sticking out of the back of his shoulder. The arrow would've struck his heart had it not hit the bones there. He'll bleed out though just the same.

Cara gaze is once more drawn to Mistress Kahlan who is similarly watching Cara. Who knows how long the tall dark woman has been watching her? Cara smirks at Kahlan but then there's a loud cry and the two remaining riders charge them. Kahlan simply smiles and dodges the riders clumsy swing. Cara meanwhile sidesteps the idiot coming at her and since his movement has left his side exposed to attack it takes no great effort on Cara's part to sending him screaming to knees by ramming her Agiel into his side, right under his heart. Cara then squats down and uses her Agiel to knock him out with a harsh blow to the face. Cara hears his nose break and then there's a gush of blood but he's not awake to feel it. Not yet anyway. Cara stands to see Kahlan holding a man by the throat as she slowly presses her Agiel under his chin. Cara smiles at the other Mord'Sith.

Cara opens her eyes. Her room at the inn is quiet and still mostly dark but she can tell that the dawn isn't too far away. Another dream that Kahlan not only inspired but was the centerpiece of this time. Cara smiles that hasn't happened in years but it was the first instance that Cara dreamed her as a Mord'Sith fighting alongside her. Kahlan effortlessly showing how superior she was to everyone of Cara's other sisters. Such a thing never was of course but it was quite a sight. Cara's not mad that her mind supplied that vision but at the same time Cara's not about to pick apart what it could mean. If anything perhaps it was a reminder of the past long gone and left behind but not forgotten. Cara will never be free of that unless she were to have her memory destroyed.

Cara sighs and throws the covers off her body and lays there letting the cold air in the room wake her further. This will be the last time Cara will sleep in this place. Cara only came back last night to get her backpack, saddle bags and to get her final coins worth out of the room she paid for. The nights Cara has spent with Kahlan have been mostly chaste and Cara's body was protesting that so Cara used the privacy her room at the inn provided to take care of her needs. Kahlan was a more than a suitable fantasy to aide Cara in reaching her release, twice no less. Cara also took the opportunity to sleep naked since that's not something Kahlan is allowing at the moment. Cara suspects that the coming winter will either prove to be cold and miserable or preferably not thanks to Kahlan.

Chapter Text


 

It's been nearly one month total now since Cara decided to remain in Aydindril and to add to that it's also been two weeks that Cara's spent living in the Confessor's palace. In that time Cara has swiftly learned that winter here is a kind of cold that she thought couldn't possibly exist. Not that Cara for one instance thought it would be pleasant with a chance of light snow here and there. The fact is that the frigid mountain air seems to want to crawl into your bones as though it's not content with merely freezing the very air you breathe. Cara doesn't get comfortably warm until she dons her leathers for the day.

The beds in the Confessor's palace are warm though, which is one benefit from the oppressively raw frozen landscape. It goes without saying that some mornings it's difficult to find the will to get out of bed to face another day of it. Like today. Despite caving in faster than an avalanche, Cara was serious about not becoming a kept woman. But those mornings where she wakes in her own personal chambers makes her rethink her position on not spending every night in Kahlan's private chambers. Things still haven't progressed beyond some enduring kisses and frustrating touches before Kahlan is shoving Cara away.

Regardless, Cara sees it as Kahlan staying true to her word about them getting to know one another all over again. Then there's the two little Confessors in waiting. Cara throws an arm over her eyes and huffs out a low sigh. Kahlan's spawn are too easily fascinated with Cara, which seems to please Kahlan to no end. Cara's keen hearing is already attuned itself to any signs of an unfortunate event that has started in the last week or so and more specifically every time Cara sleeps in her own room. This occurrence has already happened twice this week alone. Cara is lying in bed where it's warm, just waiting, since the first time she was caught somewhat unawares which is not acceptable no matter how harmless.

Cara hears the latch on her door opening slowly and then the door being gently pushed open. Cara's expected intruder always tries for stealth and that's to be commended. Just not aloud, since it will not doubt encourage them and that's the last thing Cara wants. Cara listens to the light calculated steps moving further into her room. Cara smirks behind her arm as the footsteps stop just a few paces shy of her bed. It's been the same thing every time and not for the first time Cara briefly misses the privacy of her room at the inn a tiny bit. Cara can always go back there.

The shifting of the intruder's weight from one foot to the other is always the same. That and they never speak first. It's really a game Cara has unwillingly been roped into playing. And as competitive as Cara is she still sees no way that winning this will ever be satisfying. But then again perhaps that's something only losers tell themselves as a pithy comfort. Cara is most certainly not a loser but a person cannot realistically be victorious all of the time. Cara has learned that hard lesson many times over throughout her life as Mord'Sith and after she was cast out and became something else. Whatever that is. Then the intruder quietly sneezes.

Cara frowns and blinks her eyes; her eyelashes brush against the skin of her forearm, "I'm beginning to think that you have me confused with some statue that's made just for the looking." Cara's voice is tired but firm. Still it doesn't inspire the intruder to speak only giggle. Cara moves her forearm off her face and turns her head towards her intruder. "Aren't you cold standing there, just staring at me?"

Sloane just smiles and then nods towards the faintly crackling fireplace in Cara's room, "Why would I be cold?"

Cara doesn't have to glance at the small fireplace to know it's true. There will always be a small fire still burning there once it's started. As it turns out all of the fireplaces in the Confessor's Palace are enchanted with magic to burn through the night without having to be replenished with firewood. Given the size of the palace it was a smart move magically since there's not enough trees or woodsmen even to chop them in order to keep a large enough wood supply to keep the palace a tolerable temperature for so many months out of an entire year.

Cara rolls her eyes, "I suppose you're probably just used to not being able to feel your hands and feet by now."

Sloane giggles and then takes another step closer to Cara's bed, "You're silly."

Cara's eyebrows go up on her forehead slightly while she glares more strongly at the miniature Confessor, "What did you just call me?"

Sloane shrugs her shoulders and smiles again. But her smile is not an exact replica of Kahlan's though it's not hard to figure out who her mother is based on her looks, "My mom told me you were born in D'Hara is that why you don't like winter?"

Cara has an epiphany that perhaps it's still not too late to saddle up that fine black horse in the stable and ride out of Aydindril. Fuck the large snowdrifts that she would encounter at some point and the infernal cold too. Unknown to Kahlan though Cara had both sets of her leathers spelled three years ago to keep her warm (Aydindril climate is a different beast though) and cool depending on the weather.

Cara makes a low growl in her throat as she turns over on her side in the bed. The bed covers slip down to her shoulders but anticipating her intruder Cara wore a shift to bed last night, "Did Kahlan put you up to this?"

Sloane giggles yet again while playing with some of her curly dark brown hair, "You better get dressed or you'll be late."

Cara rolls her eyes and flops back down on the bed, "Late for what besides breakfast?" Cara turns her head to glare at Sloane once more. "If I'm lucky."

Sloane just laughs and smiles more before turning on her heel and leaving the room; bouncing dark curls and all. Cara has already acknowledged that Sloane does strongly resemble Kahlan but there are subtle differences. Cara suspects though that as the young girl gets older that will change. Sloane's blue-green eyes are nowhere close the same shade as Kahlan's icy blue ones though and they never will be. Cara rubs both of her hands over her face and then throws the bed covers off her body. The room is actually fairly warm but it's hardly the nest of radiant heat that is her bed. Though Kahlan's bed is even warmer for obvious reasons.

 


 

Breakfast is more subdued than Cara was expecting. Kahlan's youngest is still prone to just staring. Cara won't hold it against the child though. It simply means Cara isn't subjected to inane questions or other childish forms of degradation that adults endure with a pained smile or an impatient scowl. The servant, who came to collect Kahlan during their first dinner, in this same hall, comes into the dining area and collects the two small Confessors. Cara supposes the other woman is the children's minder and whatnot. Cara barely watches Kahlan's spawns go while she generously smears some kind of thick sweet-tasting red spread on her crisp slice of bread.

"So have you been enjoying your early morning visitor?" Kahlan's voice has that amused tone that makes Cara want to roll her eyes. Cara refrains though and instead focuses her full attention on putting another dollop of the spread on her bread. "I'm assuming that you're at least tolerating them considering it's Sloane who has been checking in on you." Kahlan smiles then while her cheeks take on a healthy pink coloring. "Or are you just saving all of your complaints for me, for later?"

Cara sets her knife aside and arches an eyebrow at Kahlan before taking a bite out of her obscenely sweetened slice of bread. The pleasant sweetness is overwhelming in the best way and Cara takes her time to savor it. Kahlan shakes her head and laughs at what Cara assumes will later be labeled as Cara's obstinacy. Cara isn't trying to be funny but she was trying to express her contempt with Kahlan's teasing. And yet again it's been confirmed that Kahlan is in fact the mastermind behind her oldest daughter's antics. Cara reaches for her cup of tea, which isn't awful either, and takes a drink to wash down the sticky sweetness of her jam encrusted bread.

Cara places the now empty cup down on the table and meets Kahlan's rather playful gaze, "I've never seen fit to complain. What purpose does it serve?" Cara shrugs and then leans back in her seat. "Except to annoy someone?" Cara smirks at a now grinning Kahlan. "Am I to understand that your daughter's visits is something that I'm to get used to even if I'm to sleep in your bed?" Kahlan proceeds to blush more at the statement and yet her bright grin doesn't waver. "For now though it would appear that I simply need to make sure my door is properly locked from here on out."

Kahlan laughs lightly while she reaches up to tuck some of her hair behind one ear, "And why is it that you've failed to lock the door to your room in the first place?"

Cara's smirk turns very smug. She has already formed ideas about what Kahlan more or less has planned in terms of romance and all of those sorts of things that are essentially useless in Cara's mind. Put simply Cara is of the opinion that either your chosen mate likes you or they're secretly plotting your death. What else is there really? But Kahlan is not that kind of person; she believes in the nonexistent middle-ground as it were. Cara has no experience in that make-believe area but it takes no rare thinker to figure out was is expected.

Cara doesn't bother to restrain her most suggestive smile, "Perhaps the thought crossed my mind that you would," Cara deliberately pauses to give Kahlan a very thorough sultry glance. "Change your mind about maintaining your second wind at chastity and slip into my room for assistance?"

Kahlan ducks her head and blushes a touch redder. Cara's smile morphs into one of pure satisfaction. The one thing Cara is unclear about is all this waiting around Kahlan seems intent on. Out of one side of her mouth, Kahlan said that she was tired of waiting and yet that's all Cara feels like she's doing. They're both doing instead of one another. The idleness of life in the Confessor's palace is starting to get to Cara too since it in no way could ever resemble her old life at the Peoples Palace. Cara has decided that when winter's harsh grip loosens on Aydindril then she's going back out in the world whether Kahlan likes it or not. Cara feels she's taken enough of a rest.

Cara intently watches Kahlan as she silently reaches for her cup of tea and takes a long sip. Cara is once again amused because for some reason she thought that after Kahlan popping out two children and taking at least two lovers that Kahlan would be less shy. But it would appear that is a permanent trait in Kahlan except when she's not a whole person. Kahlan sets her cup of tea down and sadly the blush has faded somewhat. Kahlan opens her mouth to speak but then it appears that she changes her mind. Cara has also entertained another thought that has nothing to do with courting, wooing or whatever all that mush is called and now is just as good a time as any to probe for an answer.

Cara purses her lips and leans forward to rest her elbows on the table, "Is this another test?"

Kahlan's brow furrows slightly as she frowns, "What do you mean?" Cara stares at Kahlan who eventually sighs and rises from her seat and then moves towards where Cara is sitting. Cara once again decides to hold her ground only this time if Kahlan plops down in her lap then Cara will do something other than lightly touch Kahlan with her Agiel. "I thought we were finally getting past all this...mistrust?" Kahlan pushes some of her long dark curls, which are looking particularly tempting today, off her shoulder. "Or rather misunderstandings if you prefer?"

Cara's right eye twitches and once again, it feels as though Kahlan needs it all spelled out. Cara pushes her chair back and rises from her seat too, "When I was a Mord'Sith it never once fell to me to train the young girls that were selected." Kahlan minutely flinches but Cara will gladly take it as to eliminate any confusion on Kahlan's part. "That duty was usually given to the older Mord'Sith. The more experienced."

Cara pulls her gloves out that she previously tucked into her belt and holds them in her hands, "That being said as a young Mord'Sith I was taken on raiding parties to villages for girls that would become new Mord'Sith." Cara looks away from Kahlan for a moment. This could be viewed as a mistake to bring up such a topic though it’s necessary. The truth can be very ugly. "As time went on it was deemed that my talents where useful elsewhere. Though I did retrain some of my sisters when they stepped out of line and a few pets too as ordered."

As the words escape Cara's mouth, she has a memory for every instance where she was called upon to do such things. In Darken's name, at his pleasure and will but Cara did revel in it all shamelessly for some time. Now though all Cara truly thinks about is how you can't put a price on real freedom because if you were born in D'Hara then there was no such illusion thanks to the Rahl bloodline whether you were Mord'Sith or not. Cara has yet to regret taking her bond out of Rahl-controlled hands and she never will.

Kahlan smiles and then steps closer and Cara can tell that Kahlan wants to reach out and touch her but she doesn't, "Why are you telling me this? Not that I don't appreciate you willingly sharing such things with me. But I already know that you pose no threat to my children."

"That could be debatable if I remain here." Cara purses her lips while preparing to put on her gloves. "Your youngest just stares at me with a dopey grin on her face while your oldest seems to think that I need supervision to get out bed in the morning." Cara rolls her eyes and then Kahlan swiftly reaches out and yanks Cara's gloves out of her hands. "I presumed that you were testing me to see if I was trustworthy around your daughters." Cara watches Kahlan as she turns the white gloves over in her grasp; no doubt noticing that the palm of the white gloves are lined in black leather complete with fine red stitching. "Since regardless of what I've done in the years passed that has in no way erased what I did during my time as a Mord'Sith."

Cara's past isn't worth living in but it does have to be acknowledged not swept aside because that is the easier option. Nothing in Cara's life has ever been easy and Cara has learned that a smart person is prepared; armed and ready for potential ulterior motives when dealing with another person.

Kahlan dips her head in acceptance, "That's fair. And speaking of your time as a Mord'Sith, I couldn't keep from noticing that your Agiel felt different when you grazed me with during our first dinner than it did back during our days on the quest." Kahlan moves that much closer and Cara's heart picks up its pace on reflex. Though their time spent together has been mostly platonic Cara isn't about to complain when she feels as alive as this by Kahlan's mere presence. "And don't you dare say that my tolerance has waned." Kahlan grins and then absently places Cara's gloves on the dining table beside them. "I certainly encountered your Agiels more than a few times back then. And let's not forget the time that I did withstand your Agiel burning out the infection in that gash on my leg."

Cara purses her lips, "You passed out."

Kahlan huffs out a sigh and rolls her eyes. Cara thinks it's unfair that Kahlan is permitted do so but Cara has been scolded on several occasions now about such an action, "As I was getting around to saying; you've done more than simply divorce yourself from the Rahl bond." Kahlan reaches out and pushes some of Cara's hair behind her ear. Cara fails to repress the shiver that the gentle touch brings out of her. "Tell me, please? You know that you can trust me."

Cara does trust Kahlan. Despite how Cara was lured back into Kahlan's life here. Cara is no worse for wear unless you count sexual frustration but it's not like that is the end of the world. Though it has been more than a month now since the night Cara spent with the redheaded barmaid. But that's neither here nor there in this moment.

Cara glances off to the side but then Kahlan's hand lightly brings Cara's gaze firmly back on the woman in front of her, "I do trust you. But it's not just my Agiels that changed but my magic as well." Kahlan's hand lingers for a moment before Kahlan lets it drop to run down the length of Cara's arm instead. "It took a year to earn enough coin but I found a wizard who welcomed the challenge of trying to remove my bond."

Kahlan tilts her head to the side and offers Cara a small encouraging smile, "And did he, remove it?"

Cara runs the tip of her tongue along the inside of her bottom lip, "No, I was told that wasn't possible." Cara feels Kahlan's insistent touch on her arm through her leather as it were. "Instead, the wizard with the most ridiculous facial hair I've encountered devised a spell to transfer the power of my bond to me." Kahlan smiles briefly at what Cara surmises as the statement of fact that she made about the grand wizard of the Second Order, Uilleam's facial hair. "I have complete control. I will never be a Rahl puppet again for what remains of my life or after my death should I be resurrected."

Kahlan's breath catches but in the same breath she also squeezes Cara's arm. Kahlan's touch is as distracting as ever but Cara will get through this. Kahlan asked after all and like always Cara has found it's nye impossible to deny Kahlan anything. It's borderline disgraceful; look at where Cara is standing after telling herself over and over again that she should get out while the getting was good. Or so she thought.

Cara doesn't shy away from Kahlan's open gaze, "I'd always healed fast as a Mord'Sith. But once the spell began, and when I cut myself as a part of the spell I purposely made a deep cut on my finger even though the spell only called for one drop of blood."

Kahlan's brow furrows slightly, "What kind of spell was this?"

Cara rolls her eyes, "An effective one. Seeing as the cut healed as soon as I allowed a single drop of my blood upon the parchment." Kahlan gives Cara her disapproving frown for a moment. But in spite of that Cara recalls the pain of the magic working through her fondly once she set fire to the parchment. "At first I thought it was the knife that the wizard provided for the spell but I found out later that it wasn't."

Cara has come to an understanding in the years since the day Uilleam transferred her bond by magic that she's even harder to kill now than she ever was before. It was something that slowly but surely made sense to Cara seeing as she holds the power to her bond. Yet Cara hasn't fully tested the limits of her abilities. But she does know that her Breath of Life still cannot bring back those who have long since grown ice cold and stiff in death. Cara found that one out not so long ago when she tried to revive someone she was too late in finding.

Kahlan takes another small step closer and reaffirms her grip on Cara's arm, "I won't ask if the spell was worth it but what brought on this need to sever your bond besides the reasons you've told me?"

Cara immediately thinks that the answer should be quite plain to Kahlan. Talk about stating the obvious. And any other time Cara would have a cutting reply to squash the conversation so she can get on with her day but that feels like a dishonorable thing to do now. If Cara gives Kahlan the brutal truth perhaps this will be the end of all the things left unsaid between them. That is until Kahlan starts passively guilting Cara into saying those three little words that seem to weaken everyone stupid enough to fall victim to such platitudes.

Cara huffs out a tired sigh, "As I told you before I felt that I'd done all Richard had any right to ask of me. It was time to seek redemption, if there is such a thing, on my own terms." Cara moves her arm out of Kahlan grasp and then places her bare hand on the handle of one of her Agiels. The faint buzz is all the comfort that greets her. "But it didn't occur to me that I could no longer perform my duty towards Richard until I failed to loose my arrow on you while you were in the throes of that witch-bitch's spell." Cara's lips curl up into a snarl at the thought of Nicci. "I simply stood dumbly by and let you ride off, to kill Richard, and yet I did nothing but watch you down the line of an arrow I could not let go of."

For Cara remembering that point in her life is effortless since no matter how many years have come and gone it's one of those times that do not fade. Cara can imagine that Kahlan is back there all over again with her dark eyes and hair wildly whipping around; the threat of her magic vibrating the very air around them. Then seeing Kahlan get on that horse and ride off to her desired target, Richard. Cara had all the opportunity required to put an arrow in Kahlan to stop her but the risk was too high and it was the first time such a thought had ever entered Cara's mind.

Cara takes a shallow breath, "Then that at night in the dessert, at the pillars, when you were with Richard I realized how compromised I'd become. I thought myself something much worse than pathetic, useless." Cara grips her Agiel tightly but then forces herself to let go of its handle once more realizing that it's an old crutch she's never been able to fully wean herself from resorting to occasionally. "A true Mord'Sith lives and dies for the Lord Rahl; it's a truth beaten into us. So I came to the conclusion that my loyalty had shifted to you all without magic or training." Cara dares herself to meet Kahlan's entrancing blue eyes directly. "You broke me in a way I'd never experienced. And you've done it again."

Cara's life is nothing but long string of brokenness and it will be that way until the very end of her. Kahlan may not like her referring to what has happened as such but it's the way Cara has come to understand what has occurred all over again to her. Cara's slowly making peace with it too since she's actively choosing to remain here of her own free will.

Kahlan makes this little noise that's not quite a laugh or a sigh and then her hands are cradling Cara's face in that disarmingly gentle way she has, "I will let it slide this one time that you are calling this thing between us as me breaking you." Cara watches Kahlan's icy blue eyes darken but not with her magic. "However, at the same time do I need to ask if you really see it as a bad thing?"

Cara's heart the beating faster than it would in a battle where she's bloody, tired and winning, "I never once saw myself here." Cara smirks and firmly places her hands on Kahlan's waist. "With you, like this."

Cara has yet to challenge or rather push Kahlan for anything but her motives at the start of their reunion as it were. Things are different now though. Cara sees it plainly; she will have to be the one to take the next step between them. Cara would be lying if she said she wasn't eager. But when Cara has thought about any of it while pleasuring herself the only turn-offs in being with Kahlan are either having to touch Kahlan carefully before shrinking away in caution or worse Kahlan wearing an infernal magic-suppressing collar which would render Kahlan only capable of scratching the surface of a real release.

Neither of those options is appealing to Cara though in the slightest if it has in fact been years for Kahlan. Cara suspects otherwise. There are too many options in the palace alone and that's not counting the ladies that help Kahlan in her private chambers. The Mother Confessor technically has no ladies in waiting but Kahlan is a Queen nonetheless and Cara seen a few rather attractive female faces that are only allowed to see Kahlan privately. Cara has no sure evidence though since she does not reside solely in Kahlan's private chambers on any sort of regular basis. Cara wonders if or when it'll come to that. Cara will not liken Kahlan to Darken though that is her only comparable.

Cara is Kahlan's companion that is sometimes kissed, touched and once in a while warms the Mother Confessor's bed thus far. Cara doesn't really know what is expected of someone who enters into a relationship. The only example Cara can think of is what she was involuntarily subjected to during the quest with Kahlan and Richard at the peak of their young love. Cara would rather put an Agiel in both eyes than behave like that. So if that is what Kahlan is secretly craving then she is only going to be disappointed in the end. Kahlan was deeply in love and had eyes only for Richard after all until she didn't. Cara wasn't around to see that development though.

Cara suddenly thinks that perhaps Kahlan is one of those people that when she finally gets what she wants that she doesn't want it anymore. But no, that feels wrong. Cara is out of her depth in the complex web that is love and matters of the heart. Cara's actual heart quickens in pace once more at the thought of being cast aside again instead of its cadence increasing due to arousal. This is why a part of Cara misses the clarity of being a Mord'Sith sometimes while not missing the required mindless devotion to a ruler who could just take as he saw fit and as many times as he liked. Cara frowns because there it is again; thoughts of the long dead tyrant that she gleefully served and serviced long ago.

"Cara, what's wrong?"

A flush of anger rises in Cara at her obvious failure to reign in her tells that Kahlan is as adept as ever at reading, "Nothing."

Kahlan frowns, "Don't lie to me."

Cara wants to roll her eyes badly, "Fine." Cara's fingers twitch at Kahlan's waist. "The though just occurred to me that you are within your rights to change your mind about me." Cara withdraws her hands from Kahlan's hips. The material of Kahlan's white dress is soft to the touch and Cara's fingertips are tingling at the sensation. "It's my understanding that the heart is a fickle thing."

A myriad of emotions contorts Kahlan's expressions to such a degree Cara hardly has time to catalog them before Kahlan is forcefully pressing her lips to Cara's. There is so much desperation in Kahlan's kiss that Cara can hardly breathe but she doesn't hesitate to respond with as much fervor. But just as quickly as it began Kahlan stops and with flushed cheeks and panting breaths she abruptly grabs one of Cara's hands and places it on her chest where her dress's neckline starts. Cara's breath comes out in short gasp at the sensation of Kahlan's warm skin and the thunderously beating heart beneath it under the palm of her hand.

"My heart is not a fickle thing." Kahlan's voice is soft, considering their closeness, but it's still sharp enough to cut through muscle all the way to the bone. "As I told you, when you just left us I was confused and sad. But then it turned to anger for a short period of time." Kahlan seems to press Cara's hand more tightly to her chest. "When I realized what the anger was stemming from I told myself I would not pine for you." Kahlan blushes and Cara idly wonders how much of that vow Kahlan upheld in the name of her pride. "So I focused on my duties and then when that couldn't fill the void that I realized was your absence in my life I started to look for you. Obviously, I resorted to a more creative method in my efforts to succeed."

A light laugh slips past Cara's lips. Kahlan is absurd. The two mini-Confessors aren't that much better either. Cara leans forward and places her own hungry kiss against Kahlan's pliant lips. Cara even dares to reach up and bury her hands in Kahlan's thick hair; today it's half up and pulled away from Kahlan's face with small braids. Cara has the urge to thoroughly dishevel it but she refrains out of respect for Kahlan. The Mother Confessor doesn't need to meet with her council looking as though she just left the nearest brothel without a bath but still basking in a sated bliss while reeking of it too.

Cara takes Kahlan's lower lip between her own with a playful nibble before pulling away, "I've dreamt of you lately."

Kahlan's color rises her cheeks more. Cara thinks it's a highly tempting look on her, "Good dreams?"

Once more Cara has an urge to tease Kahlan. Cara wonders what Kahlan would say if Cara alluded to how she's been pleasuring herself in lieu of a suitable alternative. Cara opts to have her fun but without embarrassing Kahlan this time. There's plenty of time to do that in a variety of ways.

Cara smirks and winds one of Kahlan's curls around her fingers, "That depends on if you like the thought of yourself as a Baneling?" Kahlan makes a face at the suggestion, which pulls a small smile from Cara. "But the last time you invaded my sleep it was as a Mord'Sith." Kahlan grins in a manner Cara would call completely smug. "And as far as I can tell all of the blame falls at your feet for putting that image in my head, Confessor."

Kahlan smiles brightly and laughs. That is also a very good look on her. Cara smiles in return and tugs on Kahlan's curls wrapped around her finger before letting them go. Cara reaches behind Kahlan and grabs her gloves from off the table. A thought enters Cara's mind and that is how Kahlan would've reacted if Cara had backed her up against the table and then took things from there. Not that Cara would ever deign to suggest taking Kahlan on the dining room table where anyone could walk in on them. Cara purses her lips together while pulling her gloves on; right first and then the left.

Kahlan fiddles with her hair even though Cara's attentions hardly made that much of a mark on it, "What are you going to do today?"

Cara shrugs while tugging on her gloves again to make sure her fingers are snug inside, "I'm going for a ride."

Kahlan nods and smoothes her hands down the front of her dress, "Won't you get too cold?" Kahlan moves in close again and then runs her hands along Cara's shoulders. "That is unless you take a cloak that I'd be more than happy to give you."

Cara grins slightly instead of taking offense like she normally would. Cara isn't so dense that she can't figure out that Kahlan is concerned about her well-being, "No, to the cloak for now. You see my leathers are not only expertly crafted but they are also spelled to adjust to the weather."

Kahlan huffs out a short laugh and smiles brightly, "You've thought of everything, haven't you?"

"I do my best."

Kahlan leans forward and places a lingering kiss on the corner of Cara's mouth. Kahlan pulls back and offers Cara another blinding smile, "That you do."

Cara is aware that she's smiling like an idiot but right now she can't find it in herself to care enough to possibly berate herself later. Kahlan blushes more and then places yet another kiss on Cara's lips that she enhances with a slip of her tongue along Cara's parted lips. Cara thinks that perhaps Kahlan might want to make the first move after all. Clearly, the Mother Confessor is feeling amorous today or there was something extra in her tea and eggs at breakfast. In fact it takes the servants coming in to clear the table of the dishes and cups to truly end Kahlan's relentless one more kiss for the road technique. Cara's beginning to see the appeal since she's on the receiving end of it now.

 


 

The large black horse Cara favors is already saddled and waiting in its stall but the stable boy is nowhere in sight. The mountain air has turned much colder since Cara first stepped foot in Aydindril and the breezes continuously blows flurries around all day but it has yet to snow heavily. Cara reckons that the retched sight of snowdrifts up to your eyeballs isn't far off though. The nights are miserably cold so Cara isn't looking forward to finding out how much worse things can get in that area. Cara is pleased to note that her body has adjusted to the altitude though; breathing is easier and her ears have ceased popping so frequently.

Cara steps inside the horse's stall. The horse moves closer to her. Cara grins and runs her hand along the horse's neck; through his long and expertly groomed mane of hair. The animal stills under her touch. Cara's senses are highly attuned so it doesn't take long for her to notice that the stables are too quiet and that something feels off. Cara has lived too long and has been trained far too well to not pay close attention to her instincts. A cold breeze disturbs Cara's hair and she just knows that someone is lingering close by. Cara stands there and listens to the sound of careful but deliberate footsteps approaching the stall.

"Hey there, blonde bitch." The voice is male and gruff. Cara decides right then that she's going to enjoy whatever happens regardless of the consequences. "My how you've gotten comfortable here, in Aydindril." The voice draws closer and Cara turns away from the horse to face what will surely be her mentally challenged attacker. Cara's surprised to see that it's the younger member of the Home Guard that was tasked with collecting her from the three louts. "I woke up today thinking we need a rematch since it wasn't fair you made me look incompetent with just a rock upside my head." The man rubs the side of his head, on the temple, with two dirty fingers. "I get shit about daily. Especially since you've been welcomed into the palace."

The man is blocking the way out of the horse's stall. He's tall and fit but with thinning brown hair; his beard is trimmed but still long and Cara is left wondering if the beard is to distract from the fact that he's going to have very little hair left on his head in a few years. Cara rests a hand on one of her Agiels. She can and will take out this buffoon with just one if it comes to that since hitting him with both Agiels would be overkill twice over.

Cara grasps the handle of her Agiel firmly, "My comfort is none of your business and it's not my problem that your fellow guard members are giving you shit." Cara smirks and subtly adjusts her stance. "Did it ever cross your tiny mind that you deserve it?"

The man smirks and places his hand on the handle of the sword at his hip, "You've got a mouth on you. And I bet I'm not the first person to say that."

Cara wonders if Kahlan knows this is the kind of people that she has in her ranks? But Cara's not about to report it though. The Dragon Crops had some like him. Besides, this man's kind usually is adept at stepping in it all on his own in time. Though none of that will stop Cara from giving him a proper attitude adjustment if he draws his weapon or does anything that generally offends Cara in the next few minutes.

Cara slowly moves out from beside the horse so that she can face her enemy head on, "Let me guess, you'd like to put my mouth to work for something other than talking?"

The member of the Home Guard grins, "Only if you didn't use your teeth."

Cara grits her teeth. This man no doubt has expended all of his mental capacity imagining the kinds of scenarios that the Mord'Sith were required to perform for their sacred Lord Rahl. He's most likely also thought up a few of his own too.

"Typical." Cara rolls her eyes and the fool in front of her frowns. "But why don't you humor me and tell me how exactly did you imagine this would go? That way I can disappoint you in a way that will bring a smile to my face when I think back on it."

The man scoffs and shifts his weight from one side to the other, "I know who you are now. See, I thought you were some kind of criminal that'd slipped the Mother Confessor's judgement. But you're worse than that." The man grins and despite the fact that he's younger doesn't change the fact that he's missing some teeth. "You're that former Mord'Sith that traveled with the Mother Confessor and the Seeker years ago." Cara grits her teeth; again, because she's right about what has fueled this beyond her showcasing his uselessness. "But here's where it's interesting for me; I don't give a shit about that except for the part where you were a Mord'Sith. I should've known by your leathers and those magic sticks you carry but I just didn't put it together then. You didn't give me time to."

Cara's currently debating on whether she should give him time to draw his weapon before smacking the bitch out of him with her Agiel. So far, Kahlan hasn't gotten too bent about Cara making fools of her Home Guard. Though Cara has yet to see what the elite regimen of the Home Guard is made of. Kahlan would be none too pleased if Cara showed that they too were mostly unskilled.

The man takes another step and widens his stance, "The white leathers you're wearing now aren't right either." By the snarl on the man's hairy upper lip Cara suspects that he thinks that her leathers are an affront to the white of the Mother Confessor's dress but he couldn't be more wrong. "I guess that's the way it goes when you're thrown out on your ass, right?" Cara squeezes the handle of her Agiel and glares at the fool. He tries to glare back but he also seems to shrink back in the same instance. "The night we met you told me that I needed more practice and then tied me to a tree and left me there. And once I got back here and found out you had too, well, I thought I'd wait until the right moment to do some...sparring with you."

Cara doesn't need Confessor powers to read this imbecile. It's all in his beady brown eyes; how he'd like nothing better than to have Cara on her knees in front of him and roughly use her mouth like he uses his hand on lonely nights. He's prime example of why Cara likes to use her Agiels on a certain type of man's sensitive parts.

"Sparring? What an offer." Cara arches an eyebrow at the disgusting moron in a uniform he has no business wearing. "But just so you know this won't be a fair fight, for you."

The man chuckles darkly, "Is that so? Well, in that case it's a good thing that I brought a friend who has been eager to meet you for a while now too."

Cara rolls her eyes. She's going to have to deal with the both of them all over again. Looking back, maybe Cara should've stripped them naked before tying them to that tree for the animals after all. This is what happens when you cut corners to save your eyes from awful sights that you can't unsee. The black horse behind Cara fidgets and then wickers loudly. Cara's not keen on the idea of getting slammed into the side of the stall by the horse but she is more than fine with the animal rearing up and trampling someone other than her. The horse is a smart beast and Cara has certainly never spurred it during their rides together to earn its wrath.

The member of the Home Guard looks far too pleased with himself but that's nothing new. Cara's seen it too many times; the hubris of men. But then the other man shows himself as the man from the Home Guard steps back some and then claps the other much larger man on the back. It's not the older member of the Home Guard that was there that night. This man is clearly a blacksmith judging by his clothes and Cara is confused for a moment on what this hulking tool has anything to do with helping a member of the Home Guard in carrying a grudge against Cara. The Agiel's handle is really buzzing up the length of Cara's arm now considering how long she's been holding it.

The man from the Home Guard winks at Cara before backing out of the horse stall, "I'll keep watch until it's my turn."

Cara's lips curl up in disgust. The member of the Home Guard laughs and Cara watches him disappear around the corner. Cara glares at the blacksmith, "Who the fuck are you?"

The blacksmith just stares through Cara. And as first impressions go Cara thinks that the blacksmith is an overgrown human tower decorated with frizzy dirty blonde hair and an equally unkempt beard. Cara has yet to discern why in creation over the years men have decided to grow bushes on their face. Never mind the one located on their crotch too, seeing as the hair has exactly the same coarseness.

The blacksmith's beard moves as he opens his mouth, "You slept with my wife."

Cara's eyes widen, "I doubt that."

"I don't." The blacksmith growls out. Cara is of the mind that he's one step from drooling in his scruffy beard. "She works at Ambrosio's as a barmaid. The pretty red-head?"

Cara smirks smugly because this is truly a first on many levels, "How did you get a woman like that to marry you?"

"The years have been kinder to her than me?" The humor in the man's voice in a surprise. As Cara looks him over it's then that she notices the hammer in his left hand. "I used to be easier on the eyes too I guess?"

Cara scoffs. The man in front of her is one loaf of bread shy from being called fat. Cara supposes that the man prefers husky since he's on the very tall side but Cara bets he can't even see his manhood for all of him that's in the way. He looks like his chest and stomach are one. He's an odd shape to say the least. Cara would hate to be stuck in his body about as much as she'd hate to be under him or even on top of him for that matter.

Cara tilts her head to the side, "If you say so."

The man clenches his meaty right hand into a fist, "She married me out of propriety not yet a year ago! She only likes women but her family doesn't condone that sort of thing." The man's hands relax and then he glances towards the straw covered floor or a moment. "They were going to disown her. We were kids together back in the same village. So I offered to help her. I brought us here since Aydindril is a far better place than where we grew up."

This is a curious situation. Cara thought that the blacksmith would be trying to grab her by the hair so he could throw her against the nearest wall while he tried to slip it in by now. Not that Cara would ever let that happen not even over her dead body. In the past Cara's taken three arrows to the chest and kept going before death claimed her for a while. And that was while she was just a Mord'Sith.

"Let me guess you've developed special feelings for her? That I've sullied her honor?" Cara grins at the blacksmith while her eyes rake over the fire-scarred black leather apron that's protecting his front. "But you want her to lie with you now. You want her to suck and fuck you when you get hard. Then pop out a few of your spawns to keep up appearances?"

The blacksmith's already ruddy face reddens more, "We had an agreement but not one like that! I would bed who I liked and she would do the same!" The man makes a move towards Cara and she responds by swiftly drawing one of her Agiels. The familiar and differently pitched whine fills the brisk air and Cara smiles at the sight of the obviously cowed man who's not as dumb as he looks. "I mean, I'd never heard about any of her lovers before. That suited me just fine too but then the bartender at Ambrosio's got to telling me about you."

Cara purses her lips; she just bets that the bartender had so many helpful things to say while leaving out the part where he had tried to fuck the redheaded barmaid in the keg room. Cara wonders how long this reprisal has been in the making. It feels a bit much considering it was only one night. But then again Cara and the barmaid (that Cara never thought to ask her name) went at it for quite some time and then again, that morning before Cara got dressed for the day. Cara even had to wash up again after the sweat they worked up together that morning but that's nothing Cara has an issue with.

Cara quirks an eyebrow up at the blacksmith, "So what's the problem? Is the gossip getting to you?"

The blacksmith jiggles the hammer clenched in his left hand, "Everyone in the city is talking about you and the Mother Confessor. And what I'm wondering is if it's true then why bed my friend so publicly?"

"I'm confused." Cara lowers her Agiel and then simply shoves it back in it's sheath. If the man where going to attack he'd done it by now. "Are you here to defend your friend's honor or the Mother Confessor's? Or are you here to try and teach me a lesson because you felt like it?"

The blacksmith makes a face and tucks his hammer into a hoop built into the side of his leather apron, "I'm here because Benjamin has been going around bragging to a few other guards about what he was going to do to you. No one else was interested in helping him or watching." The blacksmith runs a hand through his hair, which doesn't tame the frizziness of it in the slightest. "When I told Darynda about it she told me about how she knows you. Too many damn details actually. She begged me to help you out. She said Benjamin would be too stupid to question it if I shared my grievance with him."

Cara's eyes widen, "So you're here to defend my non-existent honor? What's wrong with you?"

The blacksmith smiles or least that what it sort of looks like. Honestly, it's difficult for Cara to tell due to the runaway bush growing on the man's upper lip, cheeks and chin, "The Mother Confessor wants you here so that must mean you belong. And it's none of my business about your arrangement with the Mother Confessor but Darynda really likes you if you'd like to see her again."

Cara closes her eyes and shakes her head. This isn't happening. It's crazy. It's about as crazy as Kahlan paying three thugs to haul her in like she ran off and left Kahlan at the alter barefoot and pregnant. Cara opens her eyes while turning away from the blacksmith to grab the reins on the black horse. The horse snorts and bobs his head. Cara quickly pats him on his forehead before moving to mount the animal. Cara slips her boot in the stirrup and puts all her weight on it and then with a short hop she pulls up and throws her leg over the saddle.

Cara settles in the saddle while she gathers the reins in her hands, "What's your name blacksmith?"

The man chuckles, "Oscar."

Cara might grow to like this one with enough time. Worser things have happened to her. And a part of him reminds her of Richard in a way. Maybe it's the kindness or the fact that the man wanted to help her of all people to no personal gain. Cara takes a moment to think on how to respond to his statement about his wife, the barmaid, who's name is Darynda?

"What the fuck is going on in here?" Benjamin's voice is grating and just loud enough to get on Cara's last nerve. The shittest member of the Home Guard moves further into the horse stall and closer to the horse. Cara discerns that he probably thinks he can yank her off the animal. "This is...why is the bitch sitting pretty on that horse and not face down in the stall!"

Cara leans an elbow on the short horn of the saddle and smirks down at Aydindril's version of the village idiot, "Oscar and I have come to an accord that didn't involve me beating him within an inch of his life if he'd tried to force himself on me." Cara's smirk turns into a hard glare. "Like you want to."

Benjamin places his hand on the handle of his sword, "You and he, say what now?"

Cara smirks and yes her next move will be nothing less than satisfying for her anyway, "But not to worry I have something for you to prove there's still hard feelings."

"Huh?"

Cara smiles and quickly slips her boot out of the stirrup and kicks the sorriest excuse for a member of the Home Guard soundly in the face. Cara smiles at the gratifying sound of the crunch of his nose breaking before he falls to the ground, completely out cold. Cara has a passing thought of dragging him into a nearby manure pile from where they muck out the stalls. Cara knows this won't be the end of it but at least she's aware of this moron's grudge which she's no doubt fueled further but if he has any common sense he'll expend his energies elsewhere. Cara gently urges the horse forward out of the stall. The animal seems to like Oscar since it welcomes his touch in passing.

Cara stops the horse in the hallway with a light tug on the reigns and then turns around in her saddle to see Oscar sliding the door closed on the horse's stall, "Do me a favor and put my dear friend Benjamin someplace where he can sleep it off and where no one will find him for a while."

Oscar nods while he seems to grin, "I'm open to suggestions?"

Cara shrugs, "A pigsty or really any place close by where he might catch a mouthful of shit?"

Oscar laughs loudly, "He'll be cursing your name to the Keeper and back when he wakes up." Oscar moves closer to the moron sprawled out on the ground and nudges him in the side with his boot. "I don't like him much though so why not, right?"

Cara couldn't agree more. Cara turns in the saddle and urges the horse forward. Before reaching the exit to the stables, the horse startles at the sight of the stable boy stumbling out of the corner. Cara gets the horse under control easily. The stable boy looks a little roughed up but he'll live to tell like everyone else present. Cara's not telling Kahlan about this but Cara has a feeling it will get back to her all the same. Kahlan has her people's loyalty won ten times over if Oscar the blacksmith is anything to go by. Cara smiles as the open air carries flurries along with its breezes. If Kahlan brings up the barmaid again at least from this point on Cara has a name now to tease Kahlan with.

Chapter Text


 

"I'm so hungry I could eat the ass out of a low flying duck!"

Cara rolls her eyes at the two scruffy-looking men as they laugh and slap each other on the back while passing by her table. Of all the exclamations, Cara's heard in the name of hunger that one has far exceeded any of Zedd's complaints and there were many all those years ago. The quest might have been for a stone in the end to close a rift but Zedd more or less ate his way around the Midlands and everywhere in between. Cara wonders if she could live such a life where having a full stomach all hours of the day would be enough for her. Cara's glad she doesn't have such appetites to satisfy. There are many types though and some people have more than one vice.

Cara reaches for her goblet of wine and the crude pair lets out another loud laugh from behind her. At least this isn't Ambrosio's with their passing gas contests to settle the tab. The name of this watering hole is 'The Sitting Duck'. Cara is aware that there's more than one joke to be made in the tavern's name and clearly those who visit this place are here for the novelty along with the food. They serve duck. No surprise there. A real ruse would be if they didn't. Cara hasn't been back to Ambrosio's otherwise she'd just be freely subjecting herself to the considerable charms of Oscar's wife Darynda all over again. And as tempting as that might be Cara has not misplaced the promise she made not to dishonor Kahlan in that manner again.

Cara grins briefly because as it turns out Oscar was more or less right about her and Kahlan sharing an arrangement of sorts. Kahlan's sneaky that way. Though to soften the blow, Cara did rebel long before she willingly submitted. Cara frowns at the minor acknowledgement, which she is still making peace with, and takes a sip from her goblet of wine. This place also serves a very decent wine to go with the mandatory duck. The wine honestly isn't awful for not being made in D'Hara. Cara's homeland is a drier, warmer climate and thus the wine produced there reflects that. Aydindril's wine is darker, richer or maybe Cara's just grown tired of the ale. Cara has never lived her days fuzzy with alcohol though some years ago she did spend her nights in a blurry fashion.

Cara spent most of the day out riding in the open wilderness as she dared since it grows dark so quickly this time of year in the Midlands. Cara didn't spend the day holding onto some anger over the repugnant Home Guard fool; kicking him in the face and thus breaking his nose capped off the moment for Cara. But on the way back into the city Cara spotted this small tavern that appeared different by Aydindril standards so naturally why wouldn't she want to see what was lurking behind its doors? Now some time later Cara can say the food is good, the wine too, and to add to the experience there's a very attractive dark-haired barmaid clad in a dress with a scandalously low neck-line that accentuates her already impressive breasts.

Cara's not going to scold herself for simply admiring yet another attractive barmaid. Though it has also not gone unnoticed that the barmaid is being quite free with her smiles in Cara's direction. Like now as she deliberately passes by Cara again only this time she's doing the chore of going to take the order of the two loud would be duck ass eaters. Instead of encouraging the barmaid with a sly smirk or a wink Cara glances around the tavern again that is well-lit with candles. There are nowhere near as many candles as Cara saw in Kahlan's private chambers that first night in Aydindril but then again who would ever have a need to have that many? But after everything that's happened Cara now believes that was Kahlan's idea of subtle romance.

And on the subject of excessive candles; Cara thinks that the candle-makers in Aydindril probably work in shifts while taking satisfaction in making a killing raking in the coin keeping the lights on in the city of Confessors. Cara smirks and takes another generous sip of the wine; letting its stout flavoring linger on her tongue before swallowing. The wine went well with the plump and juicy duck breast and crispy potatoes. Once again, Zedd crosses her mind or rather more specifically how he could put in the effort to eat out the whole damn kitchen in this place. In all these years Cara has never encountered another person who can eat like Zedd did and given the limits the world at large can offer in food supplies that can only be a good thing.

Cara sets her wine goblet back down on the table, then reaches for the last remaining crust of bread on the side of her plate, and uses it to soak up some of the gravy on the plate leftover from the potatoes. The bread tastes an unusual kind of buttery but no less pleasant from the not quite gravy. Cara then reaches for the cloth by her plate and wipes her mouth and the residue off her fingers instead of doing something as heathen as licking the glistening remains off her fingers. A wicked thought springs forth and it's that if Kahlan were here Cara might've done the finger-licking to show the Mother Confessor a thing about seduction. Cara grins and then reaches for the goblet of wine to pair with the taste in her mouth.

Cara wasn't expecting much coming here but at the same time it's not like she was anticipating that she would be tasting something along the lines of food cooked in or near a hog wallow. Cara sets the nearly empty goblet down again and leans back in her seat. The barmaid passes by Cara's table again. The woman is a few inches shorter than Cara but she has magnificent curves to make up for lack of height. It also hasn't escaped Cara's attention that the barmaid has amber-brown eyes that are framed by long thick black hair. Cara might have to scold herself after all so Cara then imagines the sound of the tavern door opening and Kahlan walking through it. The tavern would go quiet but Cara would grin as Kahlan made her way towards the table.

Cara wouldn't disguise her appreciation on how Kahlan moves in her pure white Confessor's dress. There is no question that Cara would be momentarily transfixed by the sway of the Confessor's hips as she drew nearer. Though Cara will secretly continue to miss seeing Kahlan in that dark leather dress. Cara wonders if the real Kahlan would wear a set of appropriate leathers if Cara presented her with a worthy set? Kahlan's uniform is effective though to her station but completely opposite to Cara's. Kahlan does her duties in white while Cara does her best work in her red and black leathers. Cara's old red Mord'Sith leathers served their purpose until it was time to turn over a new leaf as the saying goes. That is if Cara put any stock in sayings.

Cara imagines that Kahlan's smile would be automatic as she pulls out the other chair at the small table and then sits down, "Are you trying to hide from me again?"

"Hardly." Cara rolls her eyes and lifts her wine goblet to mouth to mask her action before emptying the remaining contents. Cara sits the empty goblet back down on the table. "I was having a drink with dinner. The duck was actually good. You should try it."

Kahlan offers up what Cara would call the Confessor's best patient smile, "Why can't you eat all of your meals at the palace not just breakfast?"

Cara's brow wrinkles up slightly, "Is it not a good idea to seek services from establishments like this?"

Kahlan's patient smile doesn't waver as she leans forward to rest her arms on the top of the table, "You don't have to pay for your meals in the palace like you do here."

Cara frowns at the undertone of Kahlan's statement. Cara is nowhere near as comfortably coined as she was even a year ago but she is not a poor pauper yet, "What is that supposed to mean?" Cara hasn't been frivolous with the coin she had before the coin she acquired from the three louts who tried for the bounty on her. "And don't you sit there and preface your next words by telling me that Confessor's don't lie."

Kahlan frowns and opens her mouth to speak but then the darkly tempting barmaid chooses that moment to saunter up to Cara's table. The barmaid moves to pour more wine into Cara's goblet and she knowingly leans down with far enough that Cara could easily see down the neckline of her dress if she wanted to. Cara resists even though Kahlan's not actually there.

The barmaid smiles at Cara, "Would you like some more wine?"

Cara coolly looks over the barmaid; she's very attractive and she has a low raspy voice that's quite pleasing to Cara's ears. Cara wonders that if Kahlan were here what would be the Confessor's reaction. Would the barmaid be this bold if the Mother Confessor herself were sitting in the other chair at the table?

Cara slowly pushes her goblet towards the barmaid, "Yes, and feel free to be generous with it."

The barmaid complies with a smile on her face that has nothing to do with pleasing customers unless you're trying to bed them after they settle their bill. Any other time Cara would be amused with the effort this woman is putting forth in her seduction but that time has come and gone for Cara. That in itself is a startling realization. Cara reaches for the filled goblet and then takes a sip. The barmaid is still lingering at the table but then the two loud duck ass eaters shout out for a refill. Cara does not watch the barmaid's retreat though it would be a gratifying view.

Kahlan's cheeks flush with a blush or anger Cara imagines, "Cara, that woman was flirting with you!"

Cara smirks smugly, "Women have been known to do that."

Kahlan outright frowns which doesn't lessen how well she wears her as yet unfaded blush, "And do you normally encourage that from perfect strangers?"

There are so many barbs lining up on the end of Cara's sharp tongue such as: 'that is how one secures a willing bed partner for the evening or longer'. But Cara refrains even though Kahlan isn't really sitting at the table being scandalized and perhaps jealous. Cara imagines that Kahlan's accusation isn't real judgment. Instead, it feels like if this were real Kahlan would likely be wondering how solid Cara's loyalty runs in terms of what they've been doing. How they've been dancing around each other and dwelling in the past just enough to remember the good and the bad. Cara perhaps remembers too much of the bad since she's not one for reminiscing about the past unless it's absolutely necessary.

Cara takes a long drink of her wine before setting it back on the table, "I will not be bedding anymore barmaids or other interested parties as per our agreement."

Kahlan's lips change shape to form a thin line, "Is that your only reason?"

Cara doesn't answer. Why should she? This is all in her head. Cara has always preferred her own company for this reason. If people knew what thoughts circulated in her mind then were would be the fun in that? Watching how people react to what Cara does say is enough for them and plenty more where that came from for Cara. Cara knows it stems from one event and that is a long time ago Cara had to find a way to survive while she was being made into a Mord'Sith. Cara's thoughts were only safe if they went no further than that. But later on when such voices refused to be silenced, when Cara's actions far exceeded what was expected or rather tolerated she was cast out of the Mord'Sith.

Since that moment when Cara woke up from being beaten and her braid destroyed, she started thinking further forward and out loud. Cara was always calculating but from then on it evolved into more. Cara acknowledges that it began on the notion of vengeance against her betrayers but once that thirst was quenched Cara had to move on from it. Cara had to take so many changes on in one year that it all finally hit her while she was sitting in that dessert reflecting on what was going to happen next. It turned out to be the last nail in coffin on her duty as a Mord'Sith. Cara hasn't stopped moving on since then. Until now.

Kahlan huffs out a heavy sigh, "Fine then, I think I will have the duck. Is it a stew?"

Cara smiles for a moment at the imaginary Kahlan across the table from her, "No, it's a nice piece of meat cooked well but still juicy. Potatoes come with it." Kahlan smiles then; Cara's favorite smile. To be honest though all of Kahlan's smiles are becoming Cara's favorite. While the crying part is another matter. Cara really hopes Kahlan isn't the kind of woman that cries after sex or during. "And they're cooked in duck fat which is something I'm assuming this place takes pride in given what I've heard since I've been here."

Another small smile pulls at Cara's lips because those are the exact words she would say to Kahlan were they truly sharing dinner here at 'The Sitting Duck' this evening. Such a notion isn't unusual because Cara has noticed that this is what people in relationships do when they're not working their fingers to the bone or off fighting battles or busy trying to fuck each other senseless. Cara could be wrong though. But being shut up and hidden away in the Confessor's Palace sounds like merely existing in an elaborate prison to Cara. But then again Cara's not the Mother Confessor and she's certainly not the Queen of the Midlands either like Kahlan is on both accounts.

A young pair comes into the tavern then and once they're in better lighting Cara instantly thinks that the man reminds her of Richard. The woman doesn't resemble Kahlan in the slightest though with her golden brown hair and much shorter frame. They're smiling, holding hands of course and Cara is of the opinion that it would be quite funny if they tripped over a chair or each other. To the couple their surroundings seem secondary since they're hyper-focused on one another. The packaging of the two of them are comparable to Richard and Kahlan and their heart eyes all those years ago. The young couple chooses a small table to Cara's left. The man pulls the chair out for the woman and she sits down with a smile.

Cara purses her lips together and makes no real effort to disguise the fact that she's watching the young man and the woman. The happy pair of lovebirds are staring at each other to the point where it feels creepy than any voyeurism Cara may be guilty of at the moment. Cara bets the young man is the type to watch his would-be mate sleep which is beyond creepy too. Cara's thinks there has to be boundaries somewhere since at some point it all seems like it's on the cusp of becoming too damn much. That and it's foolish to actually believe every single day will be nothing short of bliss to live in. Such a shared utopia with another person is only possible if one person has no spine to stand up for themselves when the situation arises.

Even in her moderately distracted state Cara notices that the barmaid is moving towards her table again only this time she places the wine jug down on the table and then pulls out the empty chair and sits down. The barmaid's amber-brown eyes flick over Cara's form, "Are they friends of yours?"

Cara represses the urge to smile. She likes this woman's boldness, "Why would you assume that?"

The barmaid shrugs, "The way you're looking at them." The barmaid smiles then and it's a good smile. Wry even and a touch sultry. "That or one of them is a former lover?"

Cara rolls her eyes and scoffs, "You're wrong three times over now."

The barmaid smirks, "Then what is it? Or do you just like to people watch when you're tipsy?"

Cara frowns at the insinuation that she's tipsy or otherwise past her limit of imbibing and losing clarity. And though she will not be saying otherwise to the barmaid but the closest Cara has been to 'people watching' is when she's shadowed a target so she could take them down quickly and with impunity. That assessment also includes her time as a Mord'Sith. Cara spares a quick glance at the lovebirds again all but hugged up together at their table.

"All I will say is that seeing the two of them is painful to watch." Cara makes a face at the offending sight of the man stroking the backs of his fingers down the woman's cheek and then neck. So much of Cara wants to look away. But like true carnage sometimes you can't help succumbing to being drawn in at least once. "It's like being forced to supervise two virgins in public who can't find the damn hole."

By Cara's estimation though the two lovebirds haven't gotten that far yet. Cara supposes that the man might be one of those rare types who asks for permission before putting it in. The woman reads as the ideal blushing virgin type and they both can't be more than twenty if that.

The barmaid laughs loudly which draws Cara's attention, "Well, I knew you were sexy to look at but I didn't think you had a sense of humor too?" The barmaid bites down on her lower lip while leaning forward. Cara would have to be blind not to notice that the action pushes the barmaid's breasts that much closer together and up. "You're a double threat and then some. Aren't you?"

It would be so easy to fall into the old habit which in turn would allow Cara to tumble into a bed with this beautiful woman. Cara feels annoyed that this could be another test and at the same time it's one she has no intention of failing whether it be a real one or not. The question is though how to let this woman down gently since she's obviously not afraid to go after what she wants. Cara is shortly taken aback at the notion that it seems to be a character trait the women of Aydindril share. Kahlan, Darynda and whatever this new woman's name is. Cara isn't going to ask for a name though because Cara has Kahlan now to keep her honest even if Cara wasn't already equipped with a will-power that rivals stone.

Cara likes that quality in a woman though, going after what you want, since she too goes after what she wants even before being thrown out by Darken and well before severing her Bond. Though back then Cara only tried for what she could realistically attain within the constraints of being a bound woman. That and certain things where untouchable as the stars in the sky. Back then no good came of wanting what you weren't meant to have if only for a short while. Cara doesn't mind making the barmaid wait while she chooses her words carefully. Cara's not trying to lead anybody on and she doesn't need another person in Aydindril with wounded pride holding grudges against her like her good friend in the Home Guard, Benjamin. May he rest in shit.

Cara stands up from her seat and smirks at the barmaid, "How much coin do I owe you for the wine and dinner?"

 


 

Cara shuts the door to her room behind her and then locks it. Cara was serious about barring young Confessors from disturbing her sleep any further in morning. Cara feels like she's indulged the whole thing long enough that and she's in no mood to sleep in any form of clothing this night purely for modesty's sake once the sun rises. And if that offends Kahlan then she'd do well to instruct her daughter's not to barge into an occupied room they get the urge to enter on a whim. Cara goes to tug off her gloves but then pauses because something is off. Cara's instincts are never faulty in this regard; especially not after all of the times she has been caught unawares, beginning with being chosen and then dismissed from the Mord'Sith.

Cara glances around the bedroom that is only lit by the fire still crackling in the fireplace, "You're fooling no one least of all me." Cara drawls out as she pulls one of her Agiels out of its place by her side; it's oddly-pitched whine clashes against the faint pops of the wood magically burning in the fireplace. "I suggest you show yourself." Cara smirks and takes a few steps closer to the large tapestry that adorns one wall of her room. "I might even consider hurting you less if you don't make me wait."

The tapestry moves and to be honest Cara isn't certain who she's anticipating after this morning's events in the stable. However, a small thrill runs the length of Cara's spine when it's Kahlan who emerges from behind the tapestry. Kahlan's smile is mischievous and smug; like she expected to get caught. Wanted to really. Cara's starting to accept that Kahlan in one way or another is going to get Cara right where she wants her eventually. Cara's not too upset over it all now that she's had some time to get used to it. Though it could be said that Kahlan could've timed her little playful seduction on a night that didn't fall in the same day with Cara being confronted by an asshole who wanted to assault her.

Kahlan smiles more and runs her hand down the heavy tapestry that was poorly shielding her from Cara's immediate view, "I thought it was time that I give you a taste of your own treatment."

Cara smiles somewhat and replaces her Agiel back into its sheath. Apparently this morning at breakfast Kahlan was doing more than teasing Cara. It would appear that the Confessor truly had a mind for something else later and such advances will be welcomed by Cara now.

"Is that so?" Cara grins and then slowly bends down to loosen the strap around her thigh before rising back to her full height to unbuckle her belt from around her waist. Cara gathers the belt that holds her weapons tightly in her hands as she moves towards Kahlan. Cara pauses to lay her belt and weapons on the foot of the bed for now. "Then am I to understand that the reason you've crept into my room is that you're accepting my invitation that I extended at breakfast then?"

Kahlan's blush is noticeable even in the low firelight, "I thought of you frequently today and little else."

Cara is amused at how clumsily Kahlan has dodged the provocative question with a statement meant to disarm. Cara feels that Kahlan has no need to be shy about admitting such desires when they're perfectly normal even if you are the Mother Confessor. Cara also thought of Kahlan today obviously.

Cara hums out a low chuckle, "I'm honored." Cara approaches Kahlan and stops just shy of a hands-width of space between their bodies. "Though I bet it wasn't in the capacity that I've thought of you lately."

Kahlan's blush deepens while she presses a hand to her cheek as if she's checking herself for a fever, "I know you say such things to make me blush." Kahlan sighs and moves her hand off her cheek to run it through her hair, which is completely free of its small braids from this morning. "To throw me off guard long enough for you to change the subject but this time I won't be swayed from speaking what is on my mind."

Cara sagely chooses to remain silent to wait out whatever is suddenly eating at Kahlan. Cara smirks at the innuendo that just sprung up in her thoughts in terms of suggesting that something eating Kahlan, which Cara wouldn't hesitate to do if she were invited. Regardless of Cara's healthy desires, she would never force Kahlan, or any woman for that matter, to do anything they were uncomfortable with.

"I've been thinking back on the time we spent together during the quest more now than I ever have. Now that you're here." Kahlan smiles and then reaches for Cara's still gloved hands. "I was thinking on your trial in Stowecroft today during a break in judgments." Cara frowns which makes Kahlan smile a touch more as she begins to remove Cara's gloves thus distracting Cara from the painful revelation that day brought. "And also the time we were trapped in that tomb and you wanted to use one of my daggers to end your life to buy me more time." Kahlan turns away for a moment to place Cara's gloves on the small table near the bed. "We fought if you recall over that incident until we were nearly without breath while at Death's door."

Kahlan gathers Cara's now bare hands in hers and the warmth of Kahlan's touch seems to travel over Cara's entire body, "You haven't changed much now that I've had time to know you again. That you've given me time to see that you are less abrasive and perhaps less grouchier than I remember." Cara is about to rebuke the 'grouchy' comment but then Kahlan quickly slips one hand out of Cara's to place a finger against Cara's lips. "And I know you won't like it much either when I say that I find you to be even more beautiful than when we were younger."

Cara is fully aware that she is still attractive to anyone with two good eyes and even some with only one. But to have Kahlan point it out feels vastly different. It's a different slant on desire that Cara doesn't have too much experience with if any really that could possibly count.

Kahlan brushes her finger along Cara's lips and then she presses the palm of her hand against Cara's cheek. The caress is so gentle; it's as though Cara is something precious to touch, "I believed that Richard was to be my one and only love. It was a childish notion to begin with even without Shota's grim predictions of what our union would bring forth."

Cara knows that every Confessor dreads the prospect of giving birth to a male child. Cara's thoughts briefly circle towards Dennee and what transpired in Valeria. And how Dennee managed to get the drop on Cara that one time. Cara has a great respect for the other Amnell Confessor too especially since she had the gall to call Cara a 'monster' to her face. It was not untrue at the time considering how Cara introduced herself to Dennee Amnell.

Kahlan's other hand slips from Cara's loose grasp to also cradle the other side of Cara's face, "But then you came into my life and just as quickly left it before I could truly see what you came to mean to me." Cara's eyes are starting to sting and it's definitely Kahlan's fault. "There was no world in which I ever saw myself developing feelings for a Mord'Sith that went beyond a tenuous trust that was built through actions and very few words. But you saved my life so many times, beginning at Stowecroft, and not simply because Richard asked you to."

It's all true. Cara won't deny it now though back then she did vehemently to herself more than if anyone were fool enough to ask. All those years ago when Cara's confusing and deeply buried feelings strained their leash in regards to the Mother Confessor, Cara would reflect on that moment in front of her childhood home when Kahlan said that she would never forgive Cara for what she did to Dennee. That was so long ago now and look where they are. Kahlan's thumbs make a gentle pass over Cara's cheeks and in response Cara places her hands on Kahlan's waist to steady herself somewhat. Feeling this much should rightfully scare anyone with at least half a brain.

Cara's barely holding back the leak that seems to want to spill out of her eyes, "Say it already, Confessor."

Kahlan inhales sharply and then leans forward until her forehead is resting against Cara's, "I've wanted you for so long."

Cara closes her eyes tightly for a moment at the sensation of Kahlan's breath passing over her lips with each shaky exhale. Cara licks her lips, "Then what is it that you're waiting for?"

Kahlan sighs heavily, "I feel like I'm waiting to see if you're going to leave me again?"

It's not so much the words that strike Cara but the sound of Kahlan's voice; slightly roughened with the onset of tears. Cara absolutely cannot take Kahlan crying nor will she waste a breath to offer any useless words of assurance. Cara simply closes the scant distance and presses her lips against Kahlan's. The touch is thrilling, familiar. Cara winds her arms around Kahlan's waist, pulling her closer to Cara's body, while Kahlan reaffirms her tender hold on Cara's face. Cara knows this won't last and by that she means that Kahlan will be the one to pull back but until then Cara means to give it her all.

But differently than how she's kissed others. With Kahlan Cara can hardly be quite as calculated since Cara's heart is hammering away in her chest and ears. It's driven by pure emotion instead of lust which is far easier for Cara to channel. Kahlan's little noises and muffled moans are more of an aphrodisiac to Cara than a Shadrin's liver. Cara tilts her head to the side to deepen the kiss. Cara's careful not to force her tongue inside since she hates that herself; how unskilled lovers who've deluded themselves into believing that you want to choke on their thrusting tongue. Kahlan smiles into the kiss and then predictably breaks it.

Kahlan pulls back and smiles while she tucks some of Cara's hair behind an ear, "Are you going to do that every time I'm on the verge of tears?"

Cara tilts her head to the side and grins, "I tried bribery with coin." Kahlan frowns slightly but then she smiles again. "But are you actually going to stand there and try to say that you don't like my method of offering comfort?"

Kahlan laughs lightly and blushes, "No, not at all. But your so called 'method' isn't exactly what I'd call soothing."

Cara feels a smile pulling at the corners of her lips and she's loathe to stop it because Kahlan makes it far too easy at times, "Oh really? Well then, enlighten me on what my method does accomplish?"

Kahlan turns her head to the side no doubt to hide another rush of blood that's deepening the coloring on her cheeks, "You're teasing me again. And you know the answer. I don't need to say it, do I?"

Cara reaches up for the hidden buttons at her tall neckline and starts to undo them, "If you say so."

Honestly, despite all of Kahlan's blushing Cara would be insulted at this point if Kahlan were to let Cara touch her between her legs and Cara wasn't greeted by something very warm and wet. They haven't spoken of such things and that's one reason why Cara is beginning to believe that Kahlan doesn't truly want intimacies from her.

Kahlan glances back at Cara and lifts her chin, "I do."

Cara nods and continues working down the hidden buttons on her side. Kahlan's eyes are following her actions and Cara wonders if she were to give the Confessor a show would that entice Kahlan to show Cara what she wants. Cara decides to nurture the impulse; in the end she's not making Kahlan watch, she's just taking off her uniform if Kahlan objects. Cara turns around as she slips her leather top off and then lays it on the foot of the bed as well.

Cara grins for a moment before turning around to give Kahlan two eyefuls of just some of her best assets, "So you still can't read me?"

Kahlan's eyes dip down to Cara's bare chest for a moment but then she just grins warmly, "Your eyes have always told me everything I needed to know. I learned that back in Stowecroft; it's why I couldn't pass the sentence of Confession on you." Kahlan's icy blue eyes suddenly turns far too dangerously glossy for Cara's liking. "I shudder to think on how different my world would be had I confessed you." Kahlan sniffles lightly but then she smiles again. "As for everything else, I just have to say or occasionally ask the right things of you."

Cara arches an eyebrow at Kahlan, "Then you should just ask for what you want to happen tonight."

Kahlan gapes for a second but then she steps back and crosses her arms over her chest, "I don't think so." Cara smirks at the predictable reaction and lets her eyes drop to Kahlan's cleavage. The pleasing display is thanks in no small part to the simple white shift Kahlan's wearing that has a more daring neckline than her usual fare and is considerably shorter in the length department as well. "You're entirely too smug for my tastes right now."

Cara drags her eyes up to meet Kahlan's gaze and shrugs before she moves to sit down on the bed so she can remove her boots and pants. Kahlan had her motives sorted out tonight but be that as it may Cara doesn't want Kahlan to beg or anything of the sort this isn't about that. Cara is just enjoying teasing Kahlan. The Confessor was right about that. However, Cara wouldn't object to hearing Kahlan outright ask for Cara to pleasure her tonight. Cara tugs her boots off one by one and then sets them off to the side of the bed. Cara unbuttons her pants and then stands up to work them along her small undershorts down off over her hips and thighs.

"Oh, for Spirit's sake!" Kahlan huffs out and Cara lowers her head to hide her smirk while she sits back down on the bed, pulling her pants and undershorts the rest of the way off her legs. "You're impossible!"

Cara laughs under her breath, but then just as quickly she catches a flash of movement, and she looks up in time to see Kahlan coming at her. Cara knew her actions would lead to one of two possible outcomes; either Kahlan would stay or go. Kahlan has that determined look on her face and Cara doesn't mind a little wrestling for position in bed so long as it ends with her being on top the majority of the time. Cara is expecting a tackle but instead Kahlan places her hands on Cara's shoulder before she brazenly straddles on Cara's lap. Cara thinks this is an excellent step and a magnificent view that will only improve when Kahlan sheds her shift.

For now Cara looks up directly at Kahlan's wide eyes; she's flushed and her lips are somewhat swollen from their kiss. Cara thinks that Kahlan has managed to surprise herself with this impulsive move. Still, Cara's not going to let this advantage slide so Cara deftly moves her hands to rest upon Kahlan's bare thighs where her shorter shift has ridden up. Kahlan's skin is smooth, soft and warm. Cara smirks as she moves her hands a little higher. Kahlan's panting breaths increase and Cara's just waiting for Kahlan to put a stop to it but she doesn't. Cara wonders if Kahlan's sexual frustration has reached its limits? She is human after all.

Kahlan does move one of her distracting hands off Cara's shoulders only to trail it along with her searching fingers down the space between Cara's breasts. Kahlan's eyes drop to follow the path of her fingers, "You were never afraid of my touch, were you?"

If Cara's blood could catch on fire there would be nothing left of her except for her lower parts considering they are wetter than they have ever been in recent memory. But Cara still has control of herself enough to think that if this conversation happens then the progress that's been made will likely be brought to a close. Cara is tempted to ignore the question but that will most certainly lead to Kahlan leaving. Cara sighs because there is no alternate move that will ensure the outcome that Cara desires not only for herself but for Kahlan too. If it has been years since she was last intimate with another.

Cara rolls her eyes at her capitulation, "No, I never was weary of your touch in regards to your Confessor powers." Cara licks her lips and is pleased to notice Kahlan's eyes following the movement. "You spoke of Stowecroft earlier and I had accepted my fate on that day; that your touch would bring about swift justice." Kahlan dips her head to rest on Cara's collarbone. "Back then as a Mord'Sith pain is an old friend who visits often so the prospect of experiencing the ultimate pain was not something that I feared."

Kahlan makes a small noise that Cara fears is another signal of the onset of tears so Cara slides her hands away from Kahlan's inner thighs, "Then you changed your mind because I indulged myself to be weak in the end." Cara's voice cracks on the last word; the truth costs and at the sound Kahlan lifts her head to meet Cara's gaze. Kahlan's eyes are glossy yet again. Cara purses her lips. "When I could not find in it in me to fight against it." Cara's eyes start to sting all over again and it's still Kahlan's fault. "When I learned the truth about what happened with my father."

Cara frowns and wills away her own impending tears. This is not at all the kind of giving or taking she does while stark naked. Cara doesn't want to talk about such things with her leathers on any more than she wants to revisit the past on reflection in general. The past is over and Cara does not intend to repeat any of it. The present is far more interesting and worthwhile. In a deft move, Cara turns and Kahlan makes a rather amusing squeal as she lands on her back in Cara's bed. Cara bunches up Kahlan's shift to her waist and then presses her thigh up and in between Kahlan's legs. Cara moans upon discovering that Kahlan's not wearing any underclothes.

Another noteworthy observations is the wetness that glides and warms skin of Cara's thigh is abundant and an immediate source of pride that chases away the annoying stinging in her eyes or hopefully Kahlan resorting to bawling like an infant. Kahlan gasps out a short moan and the sound makes Cara smile as she lowers her head and then starts leaving kisses along Kahlan's neck and jawline. Kahlan sighs and buries her hands in Cara's hair that Cara takes as anything but an objection to what she's doing. They've gone nearly this far before but with shifts on and this is certainly the first time Cara has felt the arousal between Kahlan's thighs.

Cara pushes her thigh harder against Kahlan who lets loose a breathy moan and arches up into her touch. Cara grins and presses another kiss below Kahlan's ear, "If you wish to go no further." Cara takes the edge of Kahlan's earlobe into her mouth for a moment. "Now is the time to say so."

Cara is of the mind that if Kahlan wishes to stop then that will be that. Cara saw enough pouting, pining and whining from Richard to last a lifetime clear through to the next when he wasn't able to safely take his pleasure with Kahlan. Cara doesn't wish to think about the The Seeker now of all times but it seems unavoidable since he was the first to touch Kahlan in this way. Cara sincerely hopes that he was at least competent enough to satisfy Kahlan that he did not just ram his hard prick inside of her a few times until he reached his climax and then smiled dumbly before rolling over to fall asleep. Cara's had very few male lovers that were above average in terms of stamina and skill.

Cara is so distracted by her thoughts about one of the Confessor's former lovers that in a quick move Kahlan skillfully reverses their positions resulting in a small unchecked and undignified groan slipping past Cara's lips. Kahlan's smile is smug and then she slides herself back and forth against Cara's thigh before moving to straddle Cara's hips once more. Kahlan then promptly reaches for the hem of her short shift and pulls it up and off over her head. Cara's far from mad about any of Kahlan's underhanded tactics though given the sight she's being granted of the woman on top of her. Cara is not submissive but she might just let Kahlan be on top every so often simply for the view and options it affords Cara.

Kahlan bites down on her lower lip while she grasps Cara's hands only to move them slowly along her trembling sides and stomach until they're covering the Confessor's breasts, "Does this prove what I want?"

Cara's not going to waste a breath on clever words. So since she now has Kahlan's breasts in her hands Cara drags her thumbs over Kahlan's already stiffening nipples which prompts Kahlan to make a little noise as she rocks her hips again. Cara smirks and sits up to put her mouth on a rather inviting pattern of freckles just above Kahlan's left breast that was screaming for her attention. Kahlan's grip loosens from her hold on Cara's hands on her chest and moves to grasp the back of Cara's head. Kahlan's grips hints that it's as if Kahlan's afraid Cara's going to stop when that's the furtherest thought on Cara's mind.

Cara's hands linger on Kahlan's breasts; caressing them in a manner that Cara herself likes. Kahlan voices her approval with breathy hums and faint pleased moans. Kahlan's hips have a mind of their own that the Confessor seems to have no control over which is enough to put a smile on Cara's face. The torture of it all though is those brushes of what lies between Kahlan's thighs. The wetness that leaves marks every so often on some part of Cara's skin. Be it on her lower stomach or upper thigh. It's maddening. Cara moves her mouth across Kahlan's chest to give her other breast the focus it deserves. And at the same time Cara's right hand begins its descent from Kahlan's breast.

As the tips of Cara's fingers makes brief contact between Kahlan's legs the Confessor pulls on Cara's hair; forcing her mouth away from its ample target. Cara looks up into Kahlan's very dark blue eyes, at the beginnings of the magic swirling there. Kahlan leans down and kisses Cara with near desperation along with a passion one could drown in. Cara approves and returns the kiss in equal amounts to the point that Kahlan's grinding hips takes on a more forceful quality. Cara knows just how to reward that. Cara dips her fingers lower and Kahlan's arousal instantly coats them. Cara licks into Kahlan's mouth as she eases two fingers inside Kahlan.

The Confessor moans into the kiss which makes Cara smile again. Kahlan's hips continue to move and Cara matches the pace. The perfect give and take that's only making Cara that much more aware of her own need between her thighs. Cara will wait though. Kahlan's so wet and warm around her fingers that Cara can easily imagine that Kahlan is already inside her too. Cara's hips move at the thought and Cara spreads her legs further apart and draws her legs up to support Kahlan's incredible undulating weight in her lap. Cara crooks her fingers inside Kahlan a little more and Kahlan breaks the kiss with a loud moan as her head falls to rest on Cara's shoulder.

Cara feels Kahlan's hand grip her back as their rhythm increases. Kahlan shaky panting breaths are fuel for Cara at this point, "I learned to control my powers...in times...like this." Kahlan's voice breaks and a breathy moan stirs along the sensitive skin below Cara's ear. "But I don't, Spirits! I don't think I can...with you."

Cara feels that pride is the only valid emotion worth noting in that statement, "I warned you earlier about how stopping would've been more...ideal." Cara's always thrived on danger and that has not changed though a good deal about her has. But the sounds Kahlan is making and the constant wet clicking sound that Cara loves is just too much combined. "I don't believe I'm capable of stopping now. You feel far too good."

Kahlan breathing stutters as she starts to tighten around Cara's fingers and in that moment Cara grazes her thumb over Kahlan's no doubt highly sensitive area. Kahlan arches into Cara and dips her head down to kiss along Kahlan's chest.

"Cara!"

Kahlan's shout is laced with pleasure and warning. But fear is something Cara hasn't felt in a long time and this instance with Kahlan is no different. Kahlan said it herself before all the tension between them lead to this moment that and Cara's failure at any form of modesty. Cara has never feared Kahlan's touch or rather her magic. Kahlan hips take on a frantic pace that Cara meets and more than matches. Cara takes one of Kahlan's nipples between her teeth. Kahlan's hips jerk and Cara takes more of Kahlan's breast into her mouth.

"Spirits!"

Kahlan's body clamps down on Cara's slick fingers while Kahlan's grip tightens on Cara's back. Cara knows there will be brusies for a short while from Kahlan's touch which doesn't bother Cara in the slightest. Kahlan moans and Cara moves her mouth off Kahlan's breast and looks up in time to see Kahlan's eyes turn black with her magic before her eyes slam shut with her cry of release. Cara holds on and keeps working her fingers inside Kahlan even as the Confessor magic buffets off Cara and then goes back into the magnificent woman straddling her lap. The sound of Kahlan's ragged cry is surprisingly enough to push Cara over the edge with her.

 


 

Cara wakes at the disturbance of the heavy lock on her bedroom door being tried. The latch is jiggling again but it still has not yet turned over for them to gain entry or in this case leave. Without even opening her eyes Cara knows it has to be Kahlan slipping out before the sun rises too high in the sky. Cara will not hold this against Kahlan though. Cara's not the sentimental type. Cara held Kahlan plenty after they wore themselves out. Cara's skills remain unmatched in her sheer ability to thoroughly pleasure a woman. Kahlan being the most desirable one of them all. Cara feels her lips wanting to curve up into a smile at the taste of Kahlan still lingering in her mouth.

The lock on Cara's jiggles again and Cara turns over in the bed and hits a warm body she wasn't expecting. Cara opens her eyes fully to see that Kahlan is still fast asleep in bed with her. To be fair Cara did try her damnedest to accomplish three important tasks once Kahlan saw that her Confessor powers were no threat to their coupling. Cara wasn't certain of how that would work but Kahlan was worth the risk. And now seeing Kahlan sated and exhausted makes Cara reach out to tuck some of Kahlan's hair behind her ear that was sticking to her cheek. Kahlan stirs then and reaches up to run a hand over her forehead. Kahlan smiles and rolls over her to lay on her back where she stretches her arms up over her head.

Kahlan's eyelids flutter open and Cara smirks at the sight of those icy blues in the low light. Kahlan was quite skillful herself which in no way surprised Cara. Back during their travels while on the quest for that stupid stone Cara saw all the ways Kahlan was passionate that had nothing to do with sex. Back then, Cara thought the Confessor talked, smiled and gushed over the Seeker too much but at no time did Cara not respect her. Kahlan turns her head to meet Cara's gaze and smiles. Cara looks away at the sound of the door lock denying entry to what has to be Sloane. Cara had intended to tease Kahlan about not being able to escape the morning after properly but this situation is even better.

Cara turns back to look at Kahlan who finally seems to register the sounds coming from the door, "Aren't you glad that you've failed to discourage your eldest daughter from checking in on me every morning?"

Kahlan's smile fades as she tries to muster her disapproving glare but it fails miserably, "Right now I'm just glad for the fact that you locked the door."

Cara smirks, "I recall telling you just yesterday morning that I was going to start doing that."

Kahlan huffs out a short laugh and then Cara finds herself being hit with a pillow. This is the second time Cara has been struck with something so absurd. Cara snatches the pillow away from Kahlan and flings it off the end of the bed. Kahlan grins and then in a quick move she pins Cara to the bed. Cara merely looks up at the woman on top of her and once again, barely anything about this position is less than ideal. Kahlan's breasts rubbing against hers is pleasing as is the feeling the evidence of Kahlan's growing arousal wetting the skin along her thigh. Cara's of the opinion that Kahlan is the most responsive woman she has ever lain with and their shared emotions, feelings, whatever may be the root of the cause.

Realistically, Cara knows they cannot repeat a fraction of last night with Kahlan's daughter on the other side of the door but that doesn't stop Cara from pulling Kahlan down to her lips. Kahlan responds eagerly but she pulls away and then runs a hand along Cara's cheek. Kahlan smiles and gives Cara another mostly quick kiss before throwing the bed covers back and then getting out of the warm bed. Cara cannot refrain from watching Kahlan's every move. It's an impressive view to say the least. Cara explored every dip, scar and even the faint stretch marks on Kahlan's midsection with her mouth and hands last night and still she finds herself wanting even now, though her body bares all the signs of being sated.

Cara watches as Kahlan pulls on the short shift she was wearing last night and the grabs what appears to be a robe off the floor too. Cara sits up in the bed and moves until her back against the headboard. The sheets fall to her waist as Kahlan pulls her hair out from under the collar of her pale blue robe that covers the Confessor down to her ankles. Kahlan runs her hands through her hair and then turns around to only to stare at Cara in what can be best described as a hungry expression. Cara smiles because there is no world in which teasing Kahlan will not be a fruitful activity to indulge in. Kahlan makes it so easy that it would be a sin not to. Especially not after the night they spent together; Cara withstanding Kahlan's impressive magic repeatedly.

Kahlan licks her lips and honestly tries to frown, "Spirits Cara, please cover yourself?"

Cara grins and reaches for the covers and then throws them off the lower half of her body, "Why would I want to do that? It's just the two of us?" Cara opens her legs just enough for Kahlan to see something worthwhile. "Or are you far too distracted by the view?"

Kahlan whimpers but then she closes her eyes and abruptly turns away, "Sloane is on the other side of your door for one." Kahlan shakes her head and Cara grins at the notion that it sounds as if Kahlan is trying to convince herself than chastise Cara right now. "And I need to get to my private chambers and prepare for the day."

Cara quickly but silently slips out of the bed and moves towards Kahlan. The fireplace in the room is of course still burning strong making the room nearly comfortably warm for someone without a stitch of clothes on. Cara is pleased to note that Sloane has stopped fighting a losing battle with the lock. Cara frowns when she also notices that her uniform is not where she left it on the foot of the bed last night.

Kahlan sighs heavily drawing Cara's attention away from where her uniform was relocated to, "And while last night was...amazing. I...I mean, we can't. Again. Now." Kahlan sighs again and even from behind Cara sees her push a hand through her hair. Cara smirks and then winds her arms around Kahlan's waist. Kahlan makes a little yelp but she immediately laughs and then relaxes in Cara's arms. Cara's not as reluctant as she once was about touching especially now considering that it's Kahlan in her arms. "You're not making this easy for me. But I can't find it in my heart to be mad at you about it."

Cara smiles and lets herself enjoy this moment which can only be considered a happy one. Cara knows that Kahlan will want to talk about things. The part where Cara is immune to Confession will be the chief topic at some point. Cara will not shy away from any truths she might reveal that will probably displease Kahlan. Though it does please Cara to no end that she didn't need undying love, literally, to withstand the force of Kahlan's magic. But then Cara suddenly frowns that still might be a part of the reason for her immunity. Cara remembers the magic bouncing off her like other forms of magic do though. Kahlan lets out a pleased hum and runs her hands along Cara's hands at her waist but then she steps out of their embrace to face Cara.

A blush begins to stain Kahlan's cheeks which wipes the frown off Cara's face, "Put some clothes on and don't be late for breakfast?"

Cara arches an eyebrow at Kahlan who is clearly struggling not to stare at Cara's breasts. Cara waits a beat and when Kahlan's iron-forged willpower shows no signs of buckling under the temptation Cara shrugs and then turns back towards the bed and flops down on it face first and then blindly reaches for the covers and jerks them over her head. Cara hears Kahlan laugh and the sound makes her smile again. Cara lays there hidden under the covers and listens for movement when she feels something soft but firm hit her. Cara ignores what has to be the discarded pillow being flung at her yet again. Kahlan laughs lightly and then Cara hears the door being unlocked.

"I was serious about you not being late, Cara."

Cara rolls her eyes but makes no effort to reveal herself to Kahlan anymore, "You and your mini-Confessors can rest assured that I can manage to haul myself out of bed with or without motivation."

Cara hears Kahlan chuckle lowly, "You're really cute, Cara Mason."

Cara fights against the overwhelming urge to fling the covers off and proceed to berate Kahlan for calling her cute. It's what Kahlan wants though, expects it even probably, but Cara won't rise to even nibble at that bait. So Cara lies there in bed and continues to listen and after a few still moments she picks out footsteps drawing closer to the bed and then the mattress dips right beside her. Cara holds her breath, waiting. Sloane clearly moved on and most likely to Kahlan's chambers and won't the Mother Confessor have some explaining to do when Sloane finds her mother absent. Cara grins as the covers are snatched off her head and there is Kahlan smiling that bright smile as the room lightens more from the sun breaking over the horizon.

Kahlan reaches out and gently moves some of Cara's hair off her forehead, "You're also the sexiest woman I've ever seen." Cara will silently bask in the compliment and ego boost she doesn't require but will take nonetheless. "Not many women have been able to turn my head like you do." A short muted laugh spills out of Kahlan's smiling mouth. "Or make me blush which you obviously enjoy doing often."

Cara smirks and how can she not feel pride at being told such things, "That's better. But just barely."

Kahlan smiles again and then she slowly leans down and Cara meets her halfway for the kiss that they both want. This one is slow and just a meeting of lips; gentle caresses with intent but nothing to enflame them to the point of immolation. Cara has never been kissed like this. Kahlan is showing herself to be not only an exception but a unique soul in the world of hurt that Cara was made from.

Cara breaks the kiss this time and a wry grin changes the shape of her mouth, "You want me to dress but I regret to inform you that my uniform is on the floor where you likely kicked it off the foot of the bed last night."

"No, it's not." Kahlan laughs lightly. "Well, not anymore."

Cara makes a face and it's then that she notices that Kahlan didn't throw the pillow at her again. Kahlan apparently picked Cara's uniform up off the floor and then threw all but her belt, boots and Agiels at her at few minutes ago.

Cara rolls her eyes, "That's not funny, Confessor."

Kahlan smiles and then reaches out to tweak Cara's nose, "Yes, it is."

Cara swats Kahlan's hand away which seems to amuse Kahlan greatly, "I thought you were in a rush to leave?"

Kahlan chuckles and rises from her seat on the side of the bed. Cara's reluctant to say anything too abrupt at Kahlan since Cara's not in the habit of sabotaging herself anymore. No more than she did when she arrived in Aydindril anyway. Kahlan moves towards the half open door and pauses to turn around to smile again. Cara finds herself smiling back on reflex as it were. There's nothing bad about feeling like this and if there is Cara certainly can't see it any merit in acknowledging it. Denying this. Kahlan closes the door behind her and Cara lies there looking up at the ceiling with a very stupid smile etched on her face. It may very well still be there when she makes her way down to breakfast.

Chapter Text


 

The day started off excellent. Waking up in bed with a blushing Kahlan made for quite the beginning and breakfast was satisfying too in the sense that Kahlan kept smiling at Cara which is not out of character for the Mother Confessor. However, a person would have to be blind to miss the glow Kahlan was wearing so well. The sight was a source of pride for Cara. But sometime during breakfast it hit Cara more than once how idle she has essentially been since she allowed herself to be ensnared in Kahlan's trap. Then it just struck Cara as odd, as she was spreading more of that red jam on her slice of bread, how much time has passed and that the only violence she has partaken in happened yesterday morning in the stables.

Now that Cara has taken the time to reflect on the events of yesterday morning a swift boot to the face might not be nearly enough for Benjamin. Perhaps Cara should aim lower and with an Agiel to drive the fiery point home that she's not to be fucked with? Beating the three louts over a month ago now and of course the two faulty Home Guard members on the same night barely warmed her blood. Unfortunately, the only person Cara has used an Agiel on recently is Kahlan during their first dinner which involved no food but did include Kahlan sitting on her lap and then getting mad and throwing one of her daggers very close to Cara. And it was a thrilling moment like it was all those years ago when they fought side by side.

In the same instance though it was also confusing for Cara seeing as any other time baiting Kahlan in the past was nowhere near as plentiful in inciting a reaction. But that dinner was a month ago now and they're mostly past that now. Or rather Kahlan is. Cara knows that she still has a way to go and it's going to be a different kind of battle for her. Cara has always been unwillingly bombarded by strong emotions where Kahlan was concerned and the only thing that has changed is that now Cara is essentially free in all the ways she wasn't when they first encountered one another. But then to develop and then harbor deep feelings for another person though is the struggle for Cara. All of it grates against the training that made her.

In the month Cara has lived in the Confessor's palace she has explored it and learned the quickest routes to various places but at the same time Cara has avoided the training area for the Home Guard. That is until today. Now, standing on one of the many balconies that overlooks the enclosed and magically shielded training yard Cara watches with a discerning eye. Cara felt the magic hitting her the closer she came but now that she's adjusted to the force of it there's simply nothing to it. There are no women to speak of in the Home Guard and Cara thinks that's a waste but then given her experience with Benjamin any woman who opted to fight would likely be regarded a certain way. The men in the Dragon Corps or other D'Haran soldiers had the common sense to never try shit with the Mord'Sith though.

Cara crosses her arms over her chest and shifts her weight from one foot to the another. Loud shouts mingle and carry around the training yard along with the sound of steel blades clashing against one another. There is a single reason as to why Cara is looking on and it's the same reason that she went back to her quarters after breakfast and changed into her red and black leathers. Once Kahlan left Cara's quarters earlier and took some of the ardor with her Cara thought about donning her combat leathers instead of her usual white, red and black leathers but she hadn't yet made up her mind. That and perhaps Cara had no desire to outright invite a barrage of inquiry from Kahlan had she showed up for breakfast dressed for battle in red and black leather.

In the here and now Cara uncrosses her arms and turns her full attention away from the sights and sounds of sword-play that's accompanied by masculine cries of exhilaration, pain and strained effort from the angry weaklings. Cara has always thought that men make the same sounds during sex as they do while fighting. So it's no wonder that when they return from battle they're hard and ready to fuck unless they're lying on said battlefield dead. But then, even amid the sounds of feigned battle waged on each other and stuffed training dummies Cara's keen hearing picks up on short shuffling footsteps timidly coming up behind her. It's not an assassins' tread or even Kahlan's and it's certainly no lumbering fool trying to take a foolish swing at her.

Cara places a hand on one of her Agiels all the same and turns around. There's no one behind her but then Cara's eyes drop to take in the sight of the very small person who unsuccessfully tried to sneak up on her. It's Kahlan's other mini-Confessor, Maeve. Who is staring up at Cara with that same shy dopey grin she had on during breakfast and to be accurate for the last month as well. And on the subject of smiles, Cara reigned in her smile of satisfaction upon entering the dining room but then Kahlan started smiling and combined with that sated glow she was wearing Cara's smile marched back on her face with a vengeance. Maeve and Sloane no doubt noticed but they're children and therefore had no idea why Cara's face was displaying such a rare sight.

Cara slips her gloved hand off the handle of her Agiel, "Is there a problem?"

The little blonde girl just smiles more and then reaches her arms out to Cara. This is an experience Cara isn't all at prepared for. All Cara can do is to stare down at the small person that's apparently begging for her attention. Cara lets the sight and the silence carry on until it begins to feel uncomfortable. Cara rolls her eyes and then kneels down to be as close to eye level as she can get with Maeve. The child steps forward and then places her tiny hands on Cara's leather-covered arms for a spell before looking back up to meet Cara's gaze. Cara has no reason to fear this child's touch any more than Kahlan's. It also doesn't hurt that the child is too young to have come into her powers.

Maeve smiles and gradually retracts her small hands and then pulls them behind her back, "Y-you got r-red on y-you."

Cara's lips quirk up into an unpreventable small grin, "Is that bad?"

The little girl shakes her head 'no' and then smiles an endearingly bright but gap-toothed smile. This one resembles Kahlan strongly too save for the blonde hair and the pale green-blue coloring of her eyes. Cara is at a loss for a moment wondering what this young girl is doing running around the palace without supervision. Cara frowns but then she hears a light laugh and that slight dragging sound of fabric upon the stone floor approaching. Cara glances away from Maeve to see that it's Kahlan and she is sporting one of her winning smiles. Cara quickly rises to her full height and then takes a step back from the child.

Kahlan laughs again which in Cara's opinion warrants a glare, "She doesn't bite and she's not a big talker for the most part." Kahlan stops behind Maeve and then kneels down to hug the child to her while placing a light kiss on her daughter's cheek. Cara hears Kahlan lowly chastising the child about running off even if it is to Cara. But then Kahlan looks up at Cara and grins. "Like someone else I know."

Cara narrows her eyes at Kahlan and even that coupled with her most ferocious glare isn't getting the desired effect save for clearly amusing the Mother Confessor. Cara has never wanted to roll her eyes so badly before but she has a feeling that would only prompt laughter from Kahlan and probably the mini-Confessor too. Maeve still has that dopey grin on her face at any rate.

A light sigh slips past Kahlan's lips, "She has a slight difficulty with forming her words sometimes." Kahlan gently tucks some of Maeve's wavy blonde hair behind her ear. "I believe she became so frustrated that she decided to give up speaking for a while." Kahlan smiles brightly as her eyes purposefully track over Cara's body. Cara relents with her hard looks since she can't help but smirk at the brazen appraisal. "And she's just stubborn enough to ignore anyone who tries to get her to talk these days. Even me."

Kahlan's smile swiftly fades though while her eyes rapidly travel all over Cara's form again, but not in appreciation this time, as she rises to her full height, "Why have you changed out of your white leathers? Are you leaving? Has something happened?"

Cara straightens her posture further and lifts her chin, "I do not think the explanation you require is fit for a child's ears."

Kahlan narrows her eyes at Cara before turning away to call for the small entourage that wasn't too far away of them. Cara sees the same two members of the Elites from the Home Guard and the same servant that usually minds the children. The young woman rushes forward and reaches her hand out to Maeve who takes it. Maeve looks back at Cara, still smiling, and kind of shyly waves goodbye. Cara feels her mouth want to quirk up in a smile but she manages to stifle it. Though with one glance at Kahlan it would seem that Cara wasn't wholly successful in suppressing the building fondness she's starting to fall victim to in regards to the two small Confessors. And Cara just knows what Kahlan's phrasing is going to be as soon as the child is out of earshot.

Kahlan places her hands on her hips, "Start talking."

Cara refrains from rolling her eyes once again and then grudgingly recounts the entire tale of yesterday after she returned to the stables from her ride. Cara watches closely as Kahlan's eyes shift to a deeper blue and then Cara feels some of Kahlan's magic leaking out for a few moments but then the Mother Confessor reigns it in as she speaks. Kahlan states firmly that the two Home Guard members volunteered for the task and that they were informed that Cara was no criminal. Also, that Cara wasn't to be harmed even if she resisted though Benjamin and the older man Ryan where permitted to fight back if Cara were to get overly rough with them. Cara briefly smirks at that admission but then Kahlan goes so quiet so quickly that the sudden silence is unsettling.

Kahlan frowns which makes the small scar on her lip more pronounced, "Why didn't you tell me about this man's comportment sooner?"

Cara is about to quip that there wasn't any time since Kahlan had decided that last evening was the night to try playfully skirting and then skipping the line in seducing Cara. It goes without saying that Cara had to provoke Kahlan to get the reaction they both wanted. Cara has no regrets from last night and honestly she hopes that they can partake in such pleasurable activities again this evening or at least fairly soon. Unless of course last night is all that Kahlan required from her.

Kahlan runs a hand along her forehead and then steps closer to Cara, "This happened just yesterday? Before we...and you didn't think to mention it?"

Cara purses her lips and shrugs, "Why does what occurred with that shit-heel have any bearing in regards to last night?" Cara is at a loss here. Kahlan sighs heavily then and gets this strange expression on her face which confuses Cara that much more. "I was very willing if you recall. In fact, I think that if I had not started removing my leathers you would've talked yourself out of it and left regardless of if I'd told you how my day went."

Kahlan gingerly places her hands on Cara's arms, "But he intended to...violate you."

Cara knows that Kahlan has no frame of comparison with being violated in that particular way and Cara is glad for it. Nor is Kahlan knowledgeable with being magically tied to a tyrant, a man, who could and did use Cara's body how he saw fit and that certainly includes whenever he felt he had an itch to scratch regardless of Cara's mood. In Cara's early years as a Mord'Sith she was conditioned to believe that being chosen by Darken Rahl for such pleasures was an honor. Cara let that warped logic guide her until it was the proverbial shit that simply wouldn't stick any more than actual shit would wash clean. Kahlan has no knowledge of such things that many other kinds of women endure; some silently, while an even more unfortunate lot die that way. Only knowing that kind of miserable existence.

Cara cants her hip to the side and shrugs off Kahlan's grip, "Did you miss the part of my story were I told you how I put my boot to Benjamin's face?" Kahlan frowns again but this time it's another version of that damned disapproving one. Cara crosses her arms over her chest. "Benjamin has issues with being bested by a woman. He's the type of male that hates women." Cara has interacted with plenty of men from the same stock. They're overly aggressive in seeking out means to take their pleasure from the willing and unwilling alike and that's not counting those that kick their ass. "I would wager that the only times Benjamin finds women to his liking is when said woman is underneath him where he feels that she belongs."

Kahlan's blue eyes harden and her lips press into a thin line, "What exactly are you going to do given how you're now dressed?"

Cara smirks, uncrosses her arms and then reaches down to pat her thigh holster where both of her Agiels are always at the ready, "I believe it's called sparring?"

Kahlan rolls her eyes, "Fine then, take your pound of flesh and teach him an overdue lesson." Kahlan's hands drop from her hips. "Just don't kill anyone."

Cara steps forward and places a gloved hand on Kahlan's cheek. Kahlan leans into the touch and Cara takes another step closer until there is barely a hairsbreadth between them, "You're going to dismiss him from service to Aydindril after I'm done, aren't you?"

"Yes." Kahlan's voice is soft but it belies a sternness that there will be no changing her mind if that's what anyone dared to ask of her. Cara briefly ponders on the notion of Kahlan secretly deciding on confessing Benjamin to see what other despicable actions he's guilty of while being a member of the Home Guard. "And please come find me after judgements are over for the day before dinner. There's another matter we need to discuss privately."

Kahlan leans in and kisses Cara quickly with purpose but it's maddeningly short. Kahlan is definitely annoyed and Cara wonders at what exactly. Cara watches after Kahlan until she disappears around the corridor and it's then that another thought hits Cara and that is if Kahlan is also the type of woman to withhold sex when she's upset. Cara is not that type of woman herself. In fact, the only times Cara withholds sex is when her monthlies are doing their worst, when there's no one desirable and willing available to take her pleasure with or there are willing partners but they're ones that Cara has no interest in letting them touch her let alone seeing them naked. Cara is fully aware of her shortcomings in terms of healthy human relationships but despite Kahlan's unflinching honesty Cara feels that there is something still being left unsaid.

 


 

Cara smirks as she walks out onto the training yard. After a few steps it's apparent to Cara that the training area is magically heated beyond just what the torches and the elevated fire pits offer against the frigid mountain air. It's apparently the source of the magic Cara was feeling hitting her earlier when she was casually surveying the comings and goings for that one familiar face she's developed the urge to bash in, again. There are plenty of men crowding the area still; working out their aggression under the guise of keeping their skillset fresh for any battle that lies in wait on the horizon. The men's practiced battle cries blend together and are louder as is the clashing sounds of their swords hitting on shields and wooden dummies made for hacking or rather dulling the edges of their blades.

With each step Cara's spine straightens while her blood quickens in her veins that much more. There are no words to describe to another person who has never known battle the rush that accompanies a god fight. Nothing about being here feels unfamiliar or anything that Cara doesn't have experience with being a former Mord'Sith and beyond that just being subjected to dealing with the Dragon Corps from time to time. All D'Haran soldiers lowered their eyes in the presence of the Mord'Sith though. Cara is not a Mord'Sith anymore and there are very few things she misses about belonging to that order aside from the respect her lessers gave willingly. Cara no longer automatically sees other people as her lessers though unless they've thoroughly earned her ire and others.

D'Haran soldiers were also not nearly as stupid as others Cara has encountered that idiotically reduced the Mord'Sith to no more than women in red leather only playing at the art of war when they weren't on their backs or knees servicing Darken Rahl. Thankfully, now all of the new Mord'Sith will not have that ridicule held over their heads thanks to Richard and his moral ways which Cara doesn't fault him for the most part. Cara only questioned Richard's moral code when it made the quest that much more difficult and annoying at times. Cara wanted to blame that infernal compass most days but the truth is Richard had his own built in ethical compass not just the one he held in his hand that pointed to the Stone of Tears like a weathervane in shifting breezes.

Cara rolls her eyes and then stops at the fringes of a large training ring where two men circle and then lunge at one another. Cara rests a gloved hand on the wooden railing as she watches the mock fight in the ring. At a glance the fighting men of Aydindril look as rough-shod as any other Cara has seen in terms of grooming. Long beards to hide their homely faces behind and a smug smile that showcases teeth knocked out here and there along with grime under their fingernails that would take days to clean out. Their uniforms are in decent form though; nothing ragged or too worn, even for mere sparring. Cara imagines that their full battle attire consists of heavy armor which might protect you but it wastes vast amounts of energy just wearing the polished can in Cara's opinion.

The Mord'Sith armor Cara wore proudly for a long time was light and the magic against the magic once granted was more than enough to repel truly creative lethal attacks. Then factor in the Agiels, marksmanship with a bow and arrow, how to torture not just for training but for information you'd be hard-pressed to find a better class of warrior. Cara supposes the only pity is how she and the other Mord'Sith were made before Richard Cypher-Rahl assumed the throne and introduced his brand of carefree change to D'Hara and its ancient traditions. A larger part of Cara is relieved that the order of the Mord'Sith is not dead but evolving while the smallest portion wonders how effective the new breed can ever hope to be. Cara takes a moment to wonder how Kahlan sees that bit of information about Richard and the Mord'Sith.

"Well, well, well." The voice loudly drawls out and Cara smirks because why not. She's here for one reason alone and that reason has marched right to her. Half the job is done for her already. Cara drops her hand from the railing and slowly turns around to face Benjamin the loathsome. "If it isn't my favorite...old...Mord'Sith." Benjamin grins and then glances around at the other men in the training yard. "I mean she used to be one."

Cara hears the fighting slow in the ring behind while her equally keen eyes witness the multitude of Aydindril's warriors in the vicinity stop what they're doing. A low mumbling goes through the crowd of men then but Cara only stands that much straighter. The Mord'Sith might've been despised but they were the finest warriors in all of the lands which perhaps may be one of the top reasons for the distain and fear her former order incited in people.

Benjamin smirks and moves towards Cara with one hand resting on the handle of the sword attached to his hip, "I didn't think I'd be seeing you so soon." Benjamin stops roughly three strides from Cara and honestly tries to loom over her. "But I'll take this all the same; you coming to me this time."

Cara feels the urge to laugh in this oppressively masculine environment but more importantly in Benjamin's stupid face. Not for the first time Cara wonders why is it there are no women trained for battle aside from the Confessor's. Is Aydindril backwards in that regard in the belief that if you were born with nothing dangling between your legs or Confessor magic that you're unfit to defend yourself and the city against enemies? D'Hara was at least progressive in that one regard so it seems.

Cara smiles not at Benjamin but at the damage her boot did to his face. He has two black eyes along with an even more less than straight nose that is quite swollen and to think had she stayed away longer then she would've missed such a showing, "You strongly resemble a small insignificant furry creature I've seen that scurries around in the woods." Benjamin's sleazy smirk falters before its quickly overtaken by an expression of growing anger. Cara is going to relish this. "I've heard it mostly survives on food scraps or anything that it can scavenge that will hold still long enough for it to nibble on."

A few laughs filter through the assembled soldiers which will hopefully fuel Benjamin's mood to Cara's advantage. Mad idiots fight poorly and lose badly. Cara did promise not to kill anyone though and the Mother Confessor has plans of her own for this shabby excuse of a man who more than likely weaseled his way into the Home Guard.

Benjamin grips the handle of his sword tighter, "You got the drop on me twice by not fighting fair." He takes another step forward and then grins again to were Cara can see his yellowing teeth. "Bitch."

Cara knows that whatever whining or boasting this moron has done within an earshot to the other soldiers he probably left out the part where his deepest wish was to force himself on her. Cara bets that the so called revenge for his wounded pride wasn't even the sole motivation that he needed to plot such a deplorable act against. Even worse there might be a few men in the crowd that wouldn't object to doing that to a fellow warrior, especially a Mord'Sith and a woman.

Cara's right eye twitches, "I already warned you about addressing me with that word so I suggest you tread very carefully." Cara rests a hand on the handle of her first Agiel. The one that delivers the most pain in Cara's opinion. "But I am suddenly curious as to know what you would call a fair fight?"

Benjamin smiles an oily grin; his lips are cracked from the cold and from Cara's boot too. Maybe even the shit he woke up in that Cara told Oscar to deposit him in to sleep his knockout off, "I'd call fair you losing those magic sticks and fighting me with a proper weapon."

Cara smirks and moves her hand off her Agiel and then reaches behind her back and slightly under her leathers; into the hidden sheath where her twisted dagger rests along her spine. Cara grasps the handle of the blade and then swiftly draws it. Her backup weapon is not an Agiel so it has no sound but the sight of it never fails to impress those who lay eyes upon it. Benjamin flinches and the sight makes Cara smile brightly on the inside.

Cara turns the blade over in her hand enough to let the light catch it, "Would this satisfy you?"

Benjamin chuckles while taking a small measured step backwards, "In the ring then, Blondie. Let's do this."

Cara is anticipating a move against her since her back is to Benjamin but with this much of audience she imagines that some clever taunting would be required to get such a reaction. But then again perhaps because Cara's holding a very twisted weapon where just the blade itself is a foot long in her very capable hands that's also a possible deterrent. Cara takes a step into the ring and immediately notices that the ground is a more forgiving texture under her boots which is not surprising. This ring was constructed to soften landings while causing fighters to exert more effort in their movements to build strength. Cara knows this because the Mord'Sith had their own type of proving grounds too that had nothing to do with chains and breakings.

Cara stops and then turns around to watch Benjamin enter the ring while drawing his sword too. Cara watches as a circle of bodies forms around the wooden fighting ring. Cara counted on this happening since she has a good grasp on what kind of person Benjamin is. Cara didn't learn how to survive in the ranks of the Mord'Sith without knowing who's good for what and who not to fuck with. Cara made herself the person others learned not to fuck with hence why they all had to gang up on her to win. Cara is going forward with this in the mindset that Benjamin has poisoned with well within about her and what she's doing here in Aydindril. This cannot be just about pride, not when according to Kahlan, that Benjamin and the other man knew she was no criminal.

Benjamin assumes a battle stance in a high guard position, "When you lose I'm gonna take that fancy dagger as a trophy."

Furthermore, Cara imagines that no man in the area of the fighting ring would tolerate what she and Kahlan did last night together unless they'd been invited to watch or better yet to participate. It wouldn't matter to them that what the Mother Confessor does privately is no business of theirs and if it was they wouldn't hesitate to see Cara as corruption in the flesh.

Cara smirks and gets into a fighting position that allows her to either defend or strike with ease, "I think you should know that it's better to keep your mouth shut and give the impression that you're stupid than to open it and remove all doubt."

Cara intends for her words to put him in his place and be a catalyst. It works too. Benjamin lunges for her and Cara responds by blocking his sword strike with her dagger; effectively trapping it just long enough for her to punch him soundly in his rather soggy-feeling gut. The following whoosh of air he emits makes Cara smile. Cara steps back and waits for Benjamin to invite her next move. The shouts and jeers starts then and Cara wants to draw this out until she's ready to end it. Benjamin doesn't know that while this fight is essentially on his territory the pacing is firmly under Cara's control. She could easily take him out for good with one good touch of her Agiel or the blade clutched in her hand.

But then poor Benjamin has only tasted a well thrown rock and her boot after all so Cara might as well make this good for the both of them. Benjamin swiftly rights himself enough to try and strike at Cara's legs with his sword but Cara effortlessly evades his move and in response she thunks him on the top of his head with the least sharp part of her blade. Benjamin emits a loud grunt and falls to one knee; driving the tip of his sword down into the soft, loose dirt in the ring. Benjamin growls and using his sword as a cane for a moment he wobbles back to his feet while reaching up with one hand to check for blood on the top of his head. Cara grins because she hasn't done anything to draw blood just yet.

The gathered crowd of Aydindril's Home Guard cheers loudly but Cara isn't going to assume it's for her or Benjamin for that matter. The fight is perhaps an entertaining enough sight; watching a woman best an unkempt fool with a slovenly fighting style. Benjamin spits at her feet and then takes up the long tail guard fighting position as though he expects Cara to rush him so he can disarm her and win or perhaps try for a kill shot. He could always say that his hand slipped or point out that there were no rules firmly established before the fight began. But then this is hardly a duel to the death that and Kahlan ordered Cara not to kill anyone. Cara changes her grip the dagger and takes a deep breath in through her nose.

Benjamin readjusts his grip on his sword, "What are you waiting for! Come at me!" His voice is strained, ragged but it draws another round of jeers from the crowd of men surrounding the ring. "Or are you afraid of getting too close to me, huh?"

Cara smirks because she has the stamina to outlast Benjamin and his marginally calculated but wild swings and his sloppy footwork even if she were inclined to waste her breath. One good look at Benjamin reveals to Cara that there isn't much fight left in him after only a couple of moves. His mouth is hanging open; the moron doesn't even know how to breathe properly when fighting, which is strictly through your nose unless the damn thing is broken. Cara decides then to wait him out a bit longer until he's so winded that he can barely stay on his feet. Cara has many advantages over him before she even stepped into the ring. For starters, she has the more efficient armor between them as well as the lightest and deadliest of weapons.

Cara decides that since he asked her so nicely to come closer, and she's kept him waiting to her satisfaction, that she'll give him what he wants. Cara doesn't charge him though, instead she faints an attack with her dagger which he tries to deflect but he just opens himself up enough for Cara to trap his sword with her dagger as she grabs him by the shoulder with her other hand while she steps in close enough to push on his shoulder as she sweeps her leg behind his ankle while pushing him backwards. Benjamin falls down hard but since the ground is meant to give this won't mean that Cara has effectively knocked the wind out of his lungs. Benjamin's sword slides out of his hand though and Cara quickly moves to kick it out of Benjamin's reach.

Cara tightens her grip around the dagger clasped in her left hand. Cara fights equally well with either hand but when using her dagger, she prefers a left hand grip to keep her right free at all times. Cara watches Benjamin closely as he rolls over on his side and then grabs a handful of dirt. Cara smirks, the fucker actually thinks he's going to get a chance to throw it in her face. Cara glances up at the men surrounding the ring and then loosens her grip on her dagger enough to throw it. The blade flies swift and true and embeds itself in a section of the top railing around the ring. Two men jump and then laugh where it soundly lands. Cara grins and then promptly brings her boot down on Benjamin's wrist that's attached to the grubby hand holding the handful of dirt.

Cara knows it's not wise to get this close to an irrational opponent that will never concede defeat but it's apparent to Cara that this one doesn't know when he's beat. Cara can respect that tenacity in Benjamin at least. Benjamin groans and his fingers shake before they unclench and the dirt slips out of his grasp. The only way Cara would ever bare-knuckle fight this dickwad is if there was coin involved. Cara is of the mind that fighting for free is stupid and there certainly is no honor in it unless it's a fight over something worthy. Cara is certain that this was barely worth her time. Cara moves her boot off Benjamin's wrist and takes a step back while drawing both of her Agiels; their oddly-pitched whine colors the air with their song.

Cara gives Benjamin her best smug smirk. The sight of it causes him to scramble to his feet and then he moves to retrieve his sword from where Cara kicked it across the ring. Benjamin wastes no time in rushing towards Cara as fast as his taxed body and brain will allow him. Cara is ready though and she matches him blow for blow with both of her Agiels deflecting every swing of his sword. Benjamin's swings still have some power because with each hit that Cara takes she can feel them jarring her arms. Benjamin missteps though on his next swing which Cara artfully dodges and with Benjamin open to attack she hits him squarely across the face with an Agiel. The piercing sound that comes out of Benjamin's mouth drowns out the cheering crowd of soldiers for a moment.

Cara then hits Benjamin on his sword hand with an Agiel which causes him to drop his blade with another shriek of pain. Cara sheaths both of her Agiels and then moves in to firmly grab Benjamin's arm which she then twists until he drops to one knee. Cara leans down to look into his red-streaked eyes, "Have you had enough yet?"

Benjamin grins and with his other hand he takes a feeble swing at her. Cara growls under her breath and then leans back and gives his wrist another twist before shoving him backwards while releasing her grip. Benjamin lands in a sprawl and Cara walks over to him and pulls him up by his tunic and then punches him as hard as she can in his nose. Cara feels a spray of hot blood land on her cheek and undoubtedly some landed on her leathers but then that's precisely why they're red. Benjamin's head lolls back, he's out cold, so Cara lets go of his tunic and his body falls back against the ground with a muted thud. Cara turns around and notices that everyone present is silent. Cara rolls her eyes and stalks over to where her dagger is embedded in the railing and forcefully yanks it out of the weathered wood.

 


 

Cara barely gave a passing thought to changing out of her red and black combat leathers and back into her white ones. Cara's already changed enough for one day. Cara did however make an effort to wipe Benjamin's blood off her face and leathers. Though her leathers are mostly red with some black panels and are still more than capable of hiding the blood of her enemies as well as her own. But Cara isn't that type of warrior for the most part; the type to wear her enemies blood but she has never been the type not to wipe herself of some fool's mess. That's all Benjamin is to her, a fool, though now perhaps one that is sorted out and dealt with. Though if real blood must be shed to quell it between them in the future then so be it. Cara is always ready; if not by birth then by her own free will.

Cara knows that there will be even more hurt feelings if Kahlan expels Benjamin from the Home Guard which is likely assured. Cara didn't think about what happened with Kahlan afterwards and certainly not while she was besting Benjamin but now that Cara has taken a minute to breathe she knows that not only is Kahlan irritated but she was also disturbed, upset even, after Cara disclosed the incident that happened in the stables. Cara is already past it all and eager to forget especially since she won. Benjamin is hardly worth the energy using precious brain cells and wasting time off her life on the mere insinuation of his loathsome self. What is valuable enough at the moment is imagining how Benjamin will look now that Cara's broken his nose twice within just a few days.

Cara smirks at what a raccoon face Benjamin will be sporting once he wakes up. Cara hopes that Kahlan enjoys the sight too if she addresses Benjamin to dismiss him personally and Cara knows that's how it will be. As Cara walks down the long hallway towards the council chambers where Kahlan holds judgements; her boots making enough sound to announce her cadence, Cara realizes that she will also have to seriously think on is how the other members of the Home Guard looked at her as she left the sparring ring. Cara is hesitant to call it respect but it wasn't hatred either. This is why Cara has stayed on her own for so long and if there is one lesson Cara can never unlearn is how far respect got her in the Mord'Sith and to grow eyes in the back of your head.

Cara passes a few people in the hallway that certainly don't live in the palace but Cara pays them no mind. Kahlan asked her to come here but Cara will not give the impression that she's following a request to the letter even if it did come from Kahlan. Cara pauses in front of the chamber doors and then pushes them both open and then struts inside. Glancing around Cara quickly discerns that the large council chamber and its large arches and polished marble floors, where Kahlan's petitioners line up to complain to her, hasn't changed since the last time Cara was here. The other time being when there were two Kahlan's running around causing all sorts of mayhem while inspiring lust in certain Seeker of Truth who capitalized on the one Kahlan not having any powers.

Cara frowns at where her thoughts have meandered to. But as Cara walks between the rows of pews towards the sacred First Chair Cara can't help but smile. In regards to that particular part of the past where Kahlan wasn't herself; Cara fondly recalls how Kahlan told that whatever his name was Prince to get his ass out of her chair. The best part for Cara was when the Prince and his arrogant ass was stupidly trying to patronize Kahlan when she just grabbed him by the throat and showed him how powerful of a Confessor she is. Cara crosses her arms over her chest and contemplates what Kahlan's reaction would be if Cara decided to test out Kahlan's ancient Confessor throne. Cara's never had such aspirations beyond what she achieved on her own and that is answering to no one but herself.

Cara smirks at the sound of Kahlan's footsteps quietly moving up behind her, "That old chair can't be comfortable." Cara pivots around to face Kahlan and then smirks. "Ever think about adding a cushion? Or is discomfort a Confessor thing?"

Kahlan grins and clasps her hands together in front, "I could ask you the same thing at one time." Cara quirks up an eyebrow which prompts Kahlan to laugh lightly. "I told you that I wore full Mord'Sith leathers once, before we met, but what I didn't say was that I found them to be...very uncomfortable." Kahlan moves her shoulders back as if the ghost of the memory of wearing such a uniform has not left her. "Until my body adapted to how it felt to be encased in them."

Cara nods in agreement while thinking that she would still very much like to see Kahlan dressed appropriately in leathers even ones that Cara has long since retired simply for the experience. But at the same time Kahlan isn't wrong about traditional Mord'Sith leathers. The design is all about fit and restriction. It takes time to adjust to the feel of them and after Cara cast off her neckpiece and corset she couldn't bear to wear them again since her body had adjusted and Cara could certainly breathe better without them but the tradeoff was obviously less protection. Hence why Cara's new leathers has a higher neckline but this time it's looser and highly functional. Never mind corsets even the Mord'Sith armored ones since all corsets are a torture device. Breasts aren't that difficult to hold up if the garment is actually useful.

Cara uncrosses her arms and moves past Kahlan, "You really must stop teasing me with the idea of you wearing Mord'Sith leathers." Cara steps into the area of the chamber where the petitioner's wait and then sits down on the first pew. "That is unless you have a set hidden away?"

Kahlan laughs again and then turns around to face Cara who is in the process of putting her boots up on the railing that separates the petitioner's rows from the main area where the Mother Confessor sits upon her humble throne. Kahlan huffs out an amused sigh and then steps forward and pushes Cara's boots off the railing before moving to sit down beside Cara on the pew. Cara feels like she should glare at Kahlan a little on principal but ultimately decides that it's not worth it when it will only likely amuse the Confessor. It hasn't escaped Cara's attention that she's quite proficient in making Kahlan laugh. The smiling part is easy since Kahlan does that a good amount on her own but then she also has many smiles that Cara seems to draw out of her too.

Cara shifts to the side in her seat and drapes an arm along the back of the pew, "Why do I amuse you so?"

Kahlan also turns slightly in her seat, "You're just very funny even though you don't try to be." Kahlan's cheeks color faintly with a blush as she reaches out to place a hand on Cara's knee. "And I surely I've made it clear how much I care about you?"

Cara tilts her head to the side, "How am I funny?"

Kahlan smiles brightly, "You're very clever and hopelessly sarcastic." Cara looks into Kahlan's icy blue eyes and grins. Kahlan's not wrong about Cara's personality. "Back during the quest I caught myself smiling or holding back a laugh many times when you would bicker with Zedd." A short laugh slips past Kahlan's lips. "Or without fail not hesitate to tell Richard when a plan was short-sided."

Cara rolls her eyes and smirks, "Some blunted truth wasn't going to physically kill Richard. And besides his do-gooder ego was swelling up to match Darken's more nefarious maniacal one." Kahlan's hand slips off Cara's knee but before Cara can miss the touch Kahlan swats her on the arm. "Confessor, it's taken a long time for me to reconcile my nature. So I'm not about to pretend to be someone I'm not. For anyone. Not even Darken or the fabled Seeker of Truth."

Cara has made peace with the fact that her ambitions and scorn for authority is what likely facilitated her expulsion from the Mord'Sith. But looking back Cara knows it was for the best. Cara couldn't have spent all of her best years mindlessly serving Darken and his selfish whims for his sole greater good. Cara frowns for a moment; this is why she has no desire to speak about the past, it encourages her mind to wander towards events that cannot be undone. Cara glances around the council chamber and she notes the sunlight streaming in through the small portals in the wall; how they angle and highlight Kahlan's throne. Such a clever design.

Kahlan lowly clears her throat, "I was told about your sparring match. How your victory was fair, impressive and effortless.” Cara swiftly discerns that she would have to be stone deaf to miss the moderate disapproval laced in Kahlan's voice. "But Benjamin will be brought before me the day after tomorrow to answer for how he has been conducting himself under my service."

Cara shrugs, she has nothing to say about that matter. Instead, Cara moves in her seat again but the sturdy old pew doesn't make a sound under her shifting weight, "Why are there no women in your ranks?"

Kahlan's eyebrows arch up on her forehead, "I doubt many would volunteer. And any other methods for recruiting are not an option."

Cara purses her lips, "It's my understanding in the last few years less well off families in D'Hara now volunteer their daughter's to be tested and those selected are trained as Mord'Sith." Cara might not have darkened Richard's doorstep recently, not that she ever plans to, but she has heard enough during her stays in Stowecroft visiting Grace and being subjected to her idiot of a husband. "Not the way I was trained but still new Mord'Sith are being made and under Richard's benevolent rule. Is that not an example you would follow to increase your ranks with talent?"

Kahlan nods and then dips her chin down for a moment, "The first squad of new Mord'Sith come of fighting age in the new year. Selection is very limited and only happens every two years if deemed necessary." Kahlan lifts her head and smiles but it's a smile Cara hasn't been privy to before. "Richard wanted you there to train the new order of Mord'Sith. All that was left of your order were Berdine and Raina. They are the senior high-ranking Mord'Sith now overseeing the new style of training."

Cara chuckles briefly under her breath at the idea of those two particular Mord'Sith, "I know breakings are not done. But Creator help the Lord Rahl with Berdine and Raina."

Kahlan laughs again, "I've met them a few times. They are..." Kahlan nibbles on her bottom lip and then blushes. "I can't read them with my powers but they are..."

Cara rolls her eyes, "Those two have been lovers for as long as my memory and a good amount of it I could afford to forget where they're featured." Cara has no real ill-will against them but Berdine is a true know-it-all pain in the ass and Cara knows that will never change either. "The only thing that will ever seperate those two is death and I doubt even that will do it."

Kahlan smiles and her remaining blush makes her that much more alluring in Cara's eyes, "Darken, allowed that?"

Cara shrugs and then runs a gloved hand along the edge of the back of the pew, "It was overlooked so long as they both submitted themselves to him when he desired their combined company."

Kahlan's smile instantly disappears and Cara watches a swirl of blackness appear in Kahlan's blue eyes before disappearing. Cara understands. Kahlan will never be confused as a supporter of D'Hara's last tyrant of the royal Rahl line. Cara isn't either if she ever really was. It's hard to say how much of Cara's devotion stemmed from her training or from Darken using the Bond to sway her to his will. Cara can honestly say that the moment her Bond belonged to her she'd never felt lighter in her life or even that such a thing was possible for someone like her.

Kahlan visibly swallows and then reaches for Cara's hand that's resting between them, "I asked you here because I wanted to discuss what happened last night." Kahlan predictably begins to tug on Cara's glove. Cara sighs and then moves her other hand off the back of the pew while gently pulling her other hand out of Kahlan's grasp. Kahlan grins as Cara removes both of her gloves and then tucks them into her belt. Kahlan smiles and takes both of Cara's now bare hands in hers. "I trust you which is why I didn't...want us to stop." Cara smirks as another blush begins to highlight Kahlan's cheeks again. "It felt too incredible and yet dangerous. I don't regret it. But I must know if you knew that you could deflect my magic beforehand?"

Cara has an urge to lie since she knows exactly how Kahlan will react to the truth. But at the same time Cara knows that Kahlan will be able to tell if she's lying. It's a losing game either way. Cara looks down at their joined hands and as always she's mystified in a way at how much she's capable of feeling with a simple touch from Kahlan. And that's not counting how it felt last night with Kahlan's hands and mouth on her body.

Cara raises her head and looks into those pale blue eyes that are not unlike the skies of a clear spring day, "No, I...wasn't aware beforehand that I could deflect your magic. And I won't lie and say that collaring you or any other creative means I thought of years ago held any appeal to me. It was all or nothing."

Kahlan's jaw works for a moment while her expression hardens, "That's reckless! I could've, because I couldn't...control! Spirits, Cara!" Kahlan's words abruptly stops and she squeezes Cara's hands in hers tightly which is a good deal better than a slap across the face. But then Kahlan's face contorts from mild anger to a sort of confusion. "What did you mean by 'being creative'? Wait, you thought about me like that back then, during the quest?"

Cara purses her lips, "Of course you would latch onto that last part, but yes, I entertained many useful scenarios around your magic while we were getting lost all over the Midlands." Kahlan laughs and smiles a disgustingly pleased bright as the sun smile and Cara wants to roll her eyes. "And last I checked you were a woman the same as any other with needs and as I told you before I would've accepted any advances without any guilt or declarations of love, loyalty and sappy tearful goodbyes afterwards." Kahlan chuckles and quickly lets go of one of Cara's hands to smack Cara on the thigh this time. "As for being creative, I should think that a woman of your experience now can figure that one out."

Kahlan predictably blushes once more and Cara has another urge to tease Kahlan about mutual pleasuring and other activities that most men have no patience for. Men in general are in far too big of a hurry to stick it in and come while rutting into you like a dog in heat. Cara looks down again but this time at Kahlan's hand resting on her thigh where she playfully struck Cara. Those hands went to many places on Cara's body last evening, both skillfully and somewhat fumbling, but the end result was the same. Cara enjoyed every moment of it more so than any other time with another person that she can recall in the last nine years or rather soon to be ten years in a few months.

Cara stares down at Kahlan's hand that's still holding onto hers, "I omitted one detail last night."

Kahlan moves her hand off Cara's thigh and gently places it under Cara's chin to silently urge her to lift her eyes. Cara complies and she's met with another one of Kahlan's smiles, "What was it?"

Cara wants to glance away from Kahlan's all-seeing eyes as if to hide herself since Kahlan admitted that was how she's able to read her, "I was weary of your touch once but not for myself. Do you remember the night when you found out that I was the one who killed Dennee. When you went into the Con Dar."

Kahlan nods and her lips press into a thin line as she reluctantly moves her hand off Cara's chin. This is the very good reason why Cara thinks Kahlan has taken leave of her senses in wanting more of whatever they've been doing since pleasuring one another is new and may be a one-time thing.

Cara's fingers in Kahlan's loose grasp twitch, "I wanted to take one of my Agiels and press it to my heart for running and not just standing my ground against your rightful anger." Kahlan's eyes turn glossy and in this moment Cara would use an Agiel on herself if it could actually do anything to her in the pain department. "I blame Richard though. He didn't have the stomach for watching you confess me. I ran for his sake not my own."

Kahlan lightly sniffles, "I don't think I've met anyone as selfless as you are without knowing that's what you are doing." Kahlan smiles and lets go of Cara's hand but then she reaches out with both of her now free hands to cradle Cara's face in her warm palms. "As I told you before it scares me now to think how close I came to...destroying." Cara witnesses a pair of tears spill out of Kahlan's eyes only to get caught in her eyelashes but yet she still smiles. "This is not where I saw our conversation going but." Kahlan's thumbs graze along the skin of Cara's cheeks and Cara leans into the caress. "I love that you're choosing to be this honest with me."

Cara takes a shaky breath, "Honestly, it appears that I'm becoming rather adept at making you cry at every turn despite how funny you say that I am." Cara reaches up with one hand and pushes some of Kahlan's hair behind an ear. "And I've not made it a secret about my opinion on the matter of you trying to drown us in tears."

Kahlan grins and then leans in to press her lips against Cara's. A good fight has always made Cara feel alive, like ingesting an aphrodisiac, but it's starting to pale in comparison to being kissed by Kahlan. It definitely doesn't bode well for Cara being able to leave Aydindril as she pleases without difficulty. But for now Cara's going to put that thought aside; she has better things to do presently. Cara can't very well pounce on Kahlan here in the Council Chambers since it's certainly not an ideal setting that and Kahlan would likely slap Cara for impertinence. Cara wouldn't blame her either; there's a time and place for everything, and once a person reaches a certain age they should've learned to pick their spots by then.

Overall though, as Kahlan's tongue subtlety grazes Cara's a distant thought occurs to Cara and that's this is another encounter with Kahlan that Cara is content with being very wrong about. Kahlan may or may not be angry with her later or at one point in the future but right now Kahlan's not. In an effort to take control of the kiss Cara tilts her head and then takes Kahlan's lower lip between hers which causes Kahlan to make a small noise. It's a sound Cara's growing increasingly fond of hearing and tasting for that matter. Cara smiles into the kiss and buries her hands in Kahlan's hair and if she messes up some of those small braids then so be it. Kahlan probably won't mind or notice if Cara makes her kisses count.

Cara's hands start to wander lower though and before they can reach their target Kahlan slowly breaks the kiss and pulls back, "You're having dinner with us this evening."

Kahlan's touch lingers on Cara's face before she removes her hands and then starts straightening her hair and dress. Meanwhile, Cara is distracted by Kahlan's many charms just enough that it takes a few moments for her to realize that Kahlan made a statement and not posed a question. Cara thought sharing one meal a day with the trio of Confessors was enough but it would appear that her little daydream scenario last night over dinner is bearing fruit in real life as it were.

Cara smirks and pulls her gloves out from where she tucked them into her belt, "I can manage that provided you don't expect me to change for dinner."

Kahlan faintly scoffs, "I've already told you that I like both sets of your leathers." Kahlan grins then and there's a glint of mischief in her eyes. "Though if you want to wear a dress I won't object to seeing that either."

Cara narrows her eyes at Kahlan, "That's not funny. And there will be no dresses on my body ever again so long as I'm alive to protest. Pink or otherwise." Kahlan chuckles and picks at the skirt of her dress. Cara rolls her eyes because it honestly seems that Cara has nothing left in her arsenal of unspoken threats that is at all effective on the Confessor. "Even your littlest Confessor had no objections with my uniform."

Kahlan's blue eyes rapidly widen almost as wide as the majority of her smiles, "Maeve spoke to you earlier?"

Cara can practically feel the joy radiating off Kahlan, "Yes, she seemed to approve of the color of my leathers." Cara puts her gloves back on by one. She doesn't get what the fuss is over. Cara remembers what Kahlan said about Maeve being the quiet type which is refreshing in Cara's opinion given that most children she has seen in villages were trying their damnedest to be loud and obnoxious. "Not that I was seeking approval mind you."

Kahlan smiles more if that's even possible and that's when Cara sees the big picture enough that it makes her want to run, not walk, to the stables and saddle that fine black horse and get the hell out of Aydindril. Winter be damned. The big picture is that Kahlan's wants more than just a mate or a lover to pleasure her on occasion. And Cara's more than certain that she's not built for that but at the same it may be too late to escape this, whatever it's on the verge of becoming. Cara's next thought that catches her offguard is that she might be happier here since she hasn't thought about her recent past as much as she used to. Lately, Cara spends more time thinking about Kahlan like she used to all those years ago.

Chapter Text


 

The evening air is a shade well past what Cara would call merely cold since with every breath she exhales it appears as though she's breathing out smoke. Though regardless of the frigid conditions her spelled leathers are keeping the chill from seeping into her bones all while keeping the rest of her at an ideal level of comfort. The ground is already freezing over and with each step Cara hears the crunching of the grass under her boots as she leaves the palace grounds and heads towards the main walking route into the city. The one good thing about the ground freezing solid is that all the mud where the once green grasses have been worn down is now dried out to a light brown hard-packed covering that doesn't cling to your shoes.

Cara subtly glances around every so often to take note of the few people still milling around outdoors braving the cold is the tactful way to put it but the best way to phrase it is stupidly being outside when you should have the good sense to be inside. That applies to other people not Cara since she is outside this night due to a few considerable factors. The first being that dinner with the three Amnell Confessors was precisely what Cara had expected but without the benefit of secretly giving Kahlan sultry glances to prompt a blush. In place of that teasing little game Cara had initially wanted to play she found herself staring down at her plate; pushing the food upon it around instead of eating it. Cara completely blames herself though for the mood that has settled on her and has yet to abate.

To be fair as far as revelations are concerned the idea of Kahlan wanting something more from Cara than merely carnal pursuits, which Cara was reluctant to accept at first, Cara still wouldn't compare the idea to stepping off a very high cliff but it was enough to leave her with even less to say than usual. Cara smirks briefly at the visual her mind conjures of likening love and all its trappings to that of plummeting from a great height to your eventual death. As far as metaphors go it's going to be accurate in due time since every living thing dies at some point. But the fact of the matter is that while difficult to wrap her head around, now that it is out in the open, it's still not an invitation that Cara ever saw being offered to her.

Sure, Kahlan sweetly spoke of providing Cara with a home not so long ago but thinking back on how it all began again with her and Kahlan over a month ago now it's suddenly hard to digest since it keeps coming back up. So many years have passed between her and Kahlan and while Cara has only changed in small ways and one major way the one thing that has definitely not changed about her is that she is not meant for Kahlan in the way the Mother Confessor will require during her rule. Cara grits her teeth as she stalks further down the nearly empty streets. Cara has never walked purely for clearing her mind and she's not going to count this as such. A destination other then inner turmoil is bound to happen once her mind becomes less cluttered.

But after dinner was over, and the two mini-confessors were carted off by their young minder, Kahlan made no advances or even insinuated in a coy fashion that she wanted Cara in her bed this night. Cara's not especially disappointed with that development since she expected it given the events of the day and knowing how Kahlan is about such basic human needs. The rejection could never truly sting Cara in the sense that Kahlan has always had a way of softening her blows that have nothing to do with blades or her fist. Kahlan is good with words because she has to be. They are Kahlan's first and foremost go-to weapon while Cara is more of a hit first and ask questions later type.

Cara had misplaced that truth about the Mother Confessor for a moment or two even though Cara saw many times how Kahlan used to handle Richard when she wasn't locking lips with him or mooning over his sword when he skipped off the quest to be a wizard. Cara rolls her eyes and to think the day started off so promising. Cara has no specific destination in mind on were her legs are taking her. Ambrosio's would be a good place to revisit and not just for the strong ale but the lovely red-headed barmaid that Cara could most certainly look at but not touch again. Cara can't remember her name at the moment but she does recall the name of the barmaid's husband; a blacksmith of Aydindril, and apparently a decent man. One of the few.

During dinner Kahlan appeared to have been unaffected by Cara's silence though since Cara has only ever spoken when it was a worthwhile use of breath and the person she was addressing was in dire need of some course correction. In summary, Cara is angry with herself over letting the whole truth finally affect her the way it is and will likely keep doing so long as she remains in Aydindril. Cara knew that actually listening to Kahlan spout nonsense about deep-seeded feelings would only lead to consequences. Cara thought it was just talk but she should've known better considering who was doing the talking. Kahlan does enough talking for everyone. And Cara has refused to process Kahlan's reveal that Richard wanted Cara to be the one to train the new Mord'Sith.

Cara stops for a moment and lets out a long breath that fogs the air and lingers before disappearing. If nothing Cara's current funk proves that the notion that Cara has no feelings is groundless and as stupid as the weather in Aydindril. When the truth is that Cara just prefers to not let some of her more useless emotions rule over her the way other people seem to let themselves fall victim to. If anything Cara thinks that she feels too much and that if she were to not keep a tight rein on the less useful emotions, like she was trained to and has continued to practice though not as strictly, then she'd likely become something far worse than pathetic and useless. She'd most certainly be dead by now in a most dishonorable way.

Cara scuffs the toe of her boot against a frozen muddy ridge left behind by a passing wagon wheel on the ground which doesn't so much as lose its shape in the slightest. Cara has never been in utter denial about exactly what fueled her decision to leave Richard to his victory and in turn to her gaining true freedom that no one could ever grant her. It's a fact that if you want something done right then you must do it yourself. Cara had to find a flirty wizard with a funny name to do some of the work but in the end it was her own hand and blood that set her free. Cara shakes her head and rests a gloved hand on the handle of one of her Agiels. Frustration is easily worked off provided there is an outlet.

If only Kahlan had given the faintest indication Cara would turn around right now and march back into the palace and make this evening just as memorable and pleasurable as the one they shared last night. But no, that's just not in the cards for Cara tonight and seeking another would be a poor decision and a replacement for the person Cara would prefer. And there it is again; loyalty and duty of another sort. Cara's eyes widen slightly though at what could be inspiring such devotion in her that previously only a magical bond could incite to this degree even against her free will when called forth. Cara allows herself to wonder for a moment if deep feeling is nothing more than pretty words a person is conditioned to respond to.

Regardless of whether that's the truth or not it stands that Cara is compromised once more by the Confessor but this time Cara's not looking down the length of an arrow to narrow her vision enough to see it all so plainly. Cara huffs out another loud breath that fogs the air before vanishing. Cara glances around again at the few people either passing by or hanging about just outside of the doors to their homes or the businesses that are feeding those with coin who'd rather someone else provide and cook their meals for them. How other people are content to live like this, boring and domestic, is something Cara isn't sure she ever wants to understand. All things considered though a person could do worse.

Cara straightens her posture even more until she can feel the tip of the leather sheath, built into her jacket that houses her dagger, poking her in between her shoulder blades. After the paltry match with Benjamin when Cara retrieved her dagger from where she threw into the wooden railing during the scuffle with Benjamin she noticed that the tip was slightly blunted and there were also a few rolls one section of the twisted blade from where it successfully deflected but absorbed some of the blows from Benjamin's sword. The blade of Cara's dagger looks like a braid and it's the only braid Cara will ever wear again in her lifetime; all tactfully hidden along her spine until needed. The metaphor isn't lost on Cara since it was a completely deliberate construction.

Cara purses her lips and faintly shakes her head at the fact that taking a walk has done nothing but encourage her mind to run amok. Cara shifts her weight from one foot to the other and then starts walking down the street again. Cara had no destination in mind before leaving the palace but she does now. And it's not that late of an hour so perhaps Oscar wouldn't mind sorting out Cara's blade so that it will be ready for the next time since there is always a next time in Cara's experience. It takes no amount of guesswork whatsoever to locate any blacksmith; if anything you can simply follow the sounds and if not that, just the initial type of dwelling such a trade requires. There are some traveling blacksmiths and even their wagons are obvious.

Blacksmiths work with an open flame which tends to inspire wide spaces so that the walls won't catch on fire. But Cara is nothing if not practical so she stops a woman passing by in the street who appears to be close to the same age as Cara is. The woman visibly startles and clings to the heavy cloak wrapped around her for a moment but then she smiles and damn it's a good smile. Cara is almost compelled to frown to keep from responding to it but she ends up smirking in the end. Cara asks the woman where Oscar the blacksmiths shop is located before she can get herself into trouble. The woman complies with another smile while tucking some of her dark brown hair behind an ear; it's too dark out to discern her eye color, but yet again Cara thinks that here is another example of how attractive the women of Aydindril are.

The other woman points Cara in the direction with a coy little smirk for added measure. Cara chooses not to linger though and as it turns out Oscar's shop isn't far from the tavern Cara recently visited, meaning 'The Sitting Duck' tavern. Cara knows her way there and she may have to go there again for the endless duck on the menu and wine if nothing else. As Cara approaches Oscar's place of business which in her opinion resembles a small barn, complete with two larger than average doors that can be thrown open at any time, but at this time of evening only one door is open. Cara walks right in and glances around for the burly and bearded proprietor. Cara grins because while the women of Aydindril are impressive the men for the part need a wash and a shave.

All is quiet in the building and the actual forge is still glowing; hot coals that are yellow-orange in color quietly smoldering away. Oscar cannot be far since if he were gone the forge would be extinguished. Cara passes by the hearth and notes a long wooden footboard underneath the forge which is a foot-operated bellow to stoke the coals when needed. Cara knows this because she spent quite some time around the blacksmith who made her dagger years ago; watching it being forged, and then after such sweaty work Cara worked up another kind of sweat with the rare woman. Cara had never seen a female blacksmith before, let alone one with such a ready smile that was as good as Kahlan's. The blacksmith resembled Kahlan too in the sense that she was tall and dark like the Mother Confessor. Cara could admit that truth back then but only on the odd day.

As Cara walks past the simmering forge she also notes the large anvil, tongs and a wide variety of hammers and tools that form a brutish line in a wooden rack just over her head. Oscar clearly has been a busy boy making his own tools and on another wall are an arrangement of dangerously curved hooks in all different sizes and hanging along with them are more than a few long chains that reminds Cara of her time dangling in them. Then there are four new scythes all in a row; two large ones and two smaller ones. The scythes look like they could cut down something more substantial than just tall grasses. Cara grins and runs a gloved finger down the smooth wooden handle of one of the larger scythes before moving on. On another section of the wall are several horseshoes all in one size which Cara knows can be easily reshaped to fit any beast with enough heat.

Cara can see some of appeal of the trade. Heating metal until it bends to your will with some good hits in all the right places. It's apparent to Cara that Oscar does more work in regards to farm implements and some farrier work; shoeing horses and the like, possibly even iron utensils to eat with than weapons. But it stands to reason that Oscar probably at least knows how to sharpen and repair a dagger, perhaps a sword even since the palace blacksmith could become back-logged trying to furnish and maintain all of the weapons and armor that the Home Guard uses on a daily basis. Cara knows that no single blacksmith can do it all especially if a major battle should arise and that's not taking into account the day to day upkeep and long term jobs to paying clients.

Cara frowns in the near silence but she not about to go searching for the wayward blacksmith any more than she's going to verbally announce her presence in an effort to lure him out from wherever he might be. Cara glances around the space again and as she turns to leave she hears a distinct sound and then another, a series of muffled low grunts, coming from further back in the shop where most blacksmiths keep their scrap bits to use since they make it a point to use all the materials they have available to them. Cara grins, either Oscar is doing some heavy lifting in the back or he's working up a sweat with someone back there. Cara chuckles under her breath and turns to leave because even catching a glimpse of whatever is happening isn't something she wants to have imprinted on her brain. But then as Cara passes back by the glowing forge another sounds carries loud enough for her ears to catch.

And it's not a sound that one hears when someone is taking their pleasure with another. It's the sound of pure pain. Cara knows that sound very well. Cara was under the impression that Oscar was a rare sort of fellow but if he's lured some woman here only to force himself on her then Cara's in the right place at the right time. Cara swiftly pivots back around and silently stalks towards the back where there is little in the way of light which is an advantage to Cara in this moment. Cara is tempted to draw her Agiels but their low whine will give her away and she's not about to give up the game when it's just getting started. Another pained grunt resounds in Cara's ears as she draws closer; side-stepping by a large cut in half oak barrel that's over-flowing with various lengths of steel jutting out of it like pikes mounted in the ground but without any severed heads attached.

It's noticeably colder in the back, away from the heat and light of the forge, Cara can see her breath fog out again in the low light provided by a few large candles placed in tall iron holders mounted to the walls. Cara moves around a large stacked pile of wood as two large figures quickly rush past her in a jumble of movement. It's patently clear now that this is no rough sex tryst. It's two men fighting but more to the point Oscar and Benjamin are having it out or trying to. It's a sad sight really in Cara's opinion and Cara has seen far too much of one of them today for her liking. Neither man has noticed her yet and that's all the better. Cara smirks and draws one of her Agiels and to think she was beginning to feel disappointed that she hadn't gotten to use her Agiels on anyone in quite a stretch of time.

Benjamin is smaller than Oscar in more than height and girth but he's quicker and he's trying his damnedest to stab the blacksmith with a small knife he has at his throat. But Oscar is using all of his considerable upper body strength to hold Benjamin off and Cara knows for a fact that you have to be stout to mold and shape with nothing more than a hammer and brute force. Benjamin grunts as he shoves Oscar up against a wall and the candle holder mounted on the wall falls down with a loud clatter and more of the space goes dark. Cara moves closer towards the two men while staying in the growing shadows. Cara pays no mind to the threats Benjamin is lowly spitting in Oscar's face over Creator knows what. But if Cara had to guess what the root of it is then Benjamin is probably taking his revenge out on Oscar for how poorly the stable incident panned out the other day.

Cara thinks Benjamin needs to give up on the concept of revenge since it's never going to work out for him if she has any say in the matter and she does. Cara manages to circle the two men and from this new angle she sees that there is a long line of blood staining one side of Oscar's leather apron just underneath his arm. Cara takes a deep breath and moves out of the shadows and quietly steps up behind Benjamin. She has an incredible urge to just drive her Agiel into his lower back, near his kidneys, but that's not the kind of 'Hello, did you miss me?' that Cara feels this event calls for. Instead, Cara raises her Agiel and jabs it firmly into the base of Benjamin's skull before withdrawing it. The man howls for short moment and staggers on his feet before losing his footing. Cara steps back just enough to roughly kick Benjamin in his side which forces him to roll over on his back.

Cara could've held her Agiel there at the back of the moron's skull a few seconds until he passed out but where's the fun in that? Cara glances over at Oscar and watches him jerk the knife out of his forearm with a pained grunt. Oscar nods his thanks to Cara before tossing the bloody knife down on the ground. For a second Cara thinks that perhaps Oscar would like to finish Benjamin off but the other man just stumbles past her and given his blood loss and wound perhaps that's the smart move. Oscar is just a blacksmith not a trained warrior. So Cara focuses her attention on the lower life form lying on the ground where he belongs. The sight of Benjamin's swollen face is a thing of profound beauty; the destruction Cara has wrought and is going to add to it before this evening is through. Perhaps it has been a good day after all.

Cara grips her Agiel tightly and squats down, "You just don't know when to quit, do you?" Benjamin grins and then spits some blood gathered in his mouth at her but it only lands at the toe of her boots. Cara purses her lips because in another time if the blood had gotten on her boot she would've made the offender lick it off. "I would admire that quality in another person, not you though."

Benjamin tries to laugh but he just kind of gurgles. This is why Cara chose that specific spot to graze him with her Agiel. Cara could burn his tongue right out of his head if she wanted to but that's permanent damage whereas this is a temporary state for him. Not being able to speak. And at any rate at least Cara won't have to listen to his mouth without things getting messy.

Cara waves her Agiel right in Benjamin's face which he tries to recoil from its threatening whine now that he's sampled its favor, "I'm going to tie you up and leave you here tonight, just for old times sake."

Benjamin grunts again and wiggles on the ground. Then without further hesitation Cara touches her Agiel to his temple and he submits completely with a howl that dissolves into a sad whimper. Cara stands up and then slips her Agiel back into its place at her side; she'll wipe it off later since she doesn't want the tiniest whiff of Benjamin's stink on her weapon. Cara looks around for a length of rope or something useful. It's then Cara remembers the array of heavy chains hanging on the wall back in the other room near the forge. Cara is not suddenly feeling nostalgia for the past though; when she had her own version of supplicants to be bent to her will, instead it's purely for amusement while being practical. Benjamin will be much easier to find come tomorrow when he has to face Kahlan.

Cara frowns for a moment, Kahlan was off her mind for a spell but now she's back to claim her spot. Cara frowns and then turns and heads back out into the other room. The darkness is effortless to navigate and as Cara walks into more light her eyes adjust. But Cara stops at the sight of Oscar sitting down on a large bench wrapping a torn white cloth around his bleeding arm. The blacksmith looks up from his poor attempt at dressing his wound and seems to grin at Cara. Once more Cara can't tell what facial expression the man is trying to convey towards her due to his overwhelming beard. The subpar bandage job starts to slip off Oscar's large arm and the man tries to grab and then wrangle it back in place without aggravating his wound.

Cara rolls her eyes, "I'm going to need to use some of your chains."

Oscar winces as he tries to tighten the bandage on his hairy forearm arm with one hand, "On him, help yourself."

Cara grins and shakes her head while she brushes past Oscar towards the section of the wall were the chains that he crafted are lying in wait. Cara knows chains to a degree that would frighten most people and it wouldn't fail to scare the rest to know why she possess such knowledge about the best ways to use them. Cara selects a good length of a common short link chain. It feels durable in her grasp, weighty, familiar. But Oscar's sharp intake of breath draws Cara's full attention away from the chain in her hand. Cara could offer to help but she is no way secretly angling to offer to be his nursemaid. She already saved him from the murderous raccoon-face idiot so how much more does she really need to do?

Cara gathers up some of the length of chain in one hand while pulling the rest of it off its hook on the wall with the other hand, "That strip of cloth on your wound isn't going to be doing you any favors shortly. You need to be stitched up." Cara hears the wooden bench creak as Oscar abruptly jerks around on the bench. Cara turns around to face him and the chain clinks in her grasp. "Are you bleeding from underneath your arm as well?"

Oscar makes a face that seems to Cara that she has just inquired about something truly offensive to him, "No, I'm not bleeding there and I know I need a needle and thread. I'm not as stupid as I look." Cara smirks at the quip. "He just cut me pretty good on the arm and the blood must've rubbed off when I was taking a few good swings at him." Oscar gently rubs his hand over his now reasonably dressed wound. "He's one ugly and surprisingly tough bastard."

Cara smirks more since she agrees with the bastard and ugly part of the assessment, "What was all that about? It seemed a bit much for a dispute over a bill." Cara twists the chain in her grip a touch more. "Did you go cheap on the labor and he ended up breaking it too fast?"

Oscar snorts out a little laugh and then runs a hand down his beard, "No, he just got the jump on me. Son of a bitch snuck up on me while I was hammering out some nails made from some scrap." Oscar laughs again but it's rapidly broken up by a dry strained cough. Cara surmises that Benjamin has likely put enough pressure on Oscar's throat at some point during their tiff. "But then he had to brag before he really stuck me. And I thought he had me, then you showed up. Thanks for that."

Cara simply nods and then gathers up the chain more in her grasp. Cara is going back and forth in her mind on whether she wants to string Benjamin up by his hands, heels or just bind him up, with just enough room to breathe, and simply leave him lying on the ground. It will be some time before he regains consciousness without the aid of a strong scent shoved under his crooked nose that might bring him around sooner.

Oscar clears his throat roughly, "I heard about your fight with him earlier today from another guard who came in to get his horse shod." Cara raises an eyebrow in Oscar's direction. The blacksmith coughs again and this time he moves his hand under his beard to rub at his throat. "I think because Benjamin couldn't get one over on you he thought he'd take it out on me. He said I deserved it for siding with you." Oscar shakes his head and then lets his hand drop from underneath his beard. "The Mord'Sith trash is what he called you. Is that true?"

Cara can't keep the grin off her face because it's been a stretch of time since she was referred to as Mord'Sith trash or whatever variation people came up with to describe her kind, or what used to be her kind, behind her back seeing as a limited number was ever dumb enough to say it to her face. There would be blood for that kind of brazen stupidity. Cara thinks the new Mord'Sith have their work cut out for them in terms of carving out a new reputation in the lands. The old order of the Mord'Sith will just be legends from here on out and then eventually myth once Cara and whatever remains of her former sisters die out.

Cara grips the length of chain in one hand while twisting the other end of it in her other hand around her fist and then wrist, "I was the highest ranking Mord'Sith in all of D'Hara once. But that was over a decade ago. I was cast out by Darken Rahl and my sisters."

Oscar nods his head while his sweaty brow furrows some before smoothing out as a look of surprise changes his features, "Hey, I know who you are now. I mean I know your name already because of the bounty." Oscar seems to grin and once again Cara can't tell due to the excessive facial hair. "But you're the Mord'Sith that fought with the Seeker and the Mother Confessor that defeated the Keeper, aren't you?"

It's a redundant question really but in light of it what Cara recalls most about that journey is not her old identity but how much change it wrung out of her. What it costed in the end. And how aggravating it was to walk towards the fucking Stone of Tears one minute only for some peasant to scream for help in the opposite direction. Richard would of course go running away from the ultimate goal that would save everyone just to help a few. Kahlan was no better in that regard either while Zedd was fixated droning on and on about his powerful magic, eating, sleeping and snoring loud enough to give away their position every damn night.

Cara rolls her eyes, "Yes, I'm that Mord'Sith from whatever ridiculous stories or songs you've been subjected to."

Oscar's beard does this funny spreading sideways thing which Cara takes to mean that he's smiling, "That's why the Mother Confessor favors you, isn't it? Because you two have history. She knows first-hand of your dedication and bravery."

Cara swallows roughly. She barely knows this man and she scarcely talks to anyone or has had anyone to confide in had she ever wanted to. Still, the words build inside her chest but Cara swallows them down. Cara can almost hear herself telling this man that Kahlan said that she loves me. But in the same breath Cara would be quick to gloss over it with something like: 'But I think the amount of time that has passed since we parted company has warped her mind.' Instead of saying anything though Cara merely shrugs. Oscar blinks slowly but then he laughs loudly only to end up coughing again and there might've been a smile too there. Cara thinks that if he would trim some of that unruly bush from around his face and mouth who knows what kinds of expressions he'd be capable of projecting for other people to see.

"The Mother Confessor is a special woman." Oscar coughs once more as he leans forward to rest his elbows on his knees. "You're very blessed even if you don't want to admit it." Oscar sighs heavily and absently rubs the bandage covering his wound. "I'll have to break the news to Darynda. She's convinced that you're just sowing your oats before finally coming back to her."

Cara chuckles under her breath at the notion of a barmaid carrying a torch for her of all people, "You'd better be making a poor joke in regards to telling your pretend wife about Kahlan. I don't think the Mother Confessor needs that type of gossip spread about the Midlands."

Oscar hums out a short laugh, "It's too late for that. Everyone in Aydindril already knows that the Mother Confessor sought out her ideal mate in an unconventional way. She'd provided heirs already which was her duty but she was still without a proper partner."

Cara's eyes widen without her permission and it would be such a degrading sight if Oscar were the type of person to notice what is hopefully a momentary twitch in Cara's normally stoic expression. Or rather Cara tries to be stoic; her success at being immovable came under direct fire when she first encountered Kahlan, and then how the walls came crashing down. Kahlan is very skilled in the art of dismantling and she hasn't lost her touch even when she is not present apparently.

Oscar winces slightly and then runs a hand over his bandaged wound again, "I can't believe I hadn't figured out that you were the same Mord'Sith that traveled with the Mother Confessor years ago. You see when it was known that the Cara Mason had been found all of us in the city were happy for our Queen." Oscar looks directly at Cara and the warmth in his gaze is unexpected. "The Home Guard, Benjamin and that other older chap, I think his name is Ryan, were given the honor to escort you home. But they came back empty-handed save for the bruises." Oscar chuckles and it incites another cough. "I guess the Mother Confessor caught you unawares, eh? You were the only one not in on the joke so to speak."

Cara is at a loss for an instance. Just standing there holding the damned chains. It's not like she has to be concerned about Benjamin waking up anytime soon but by the Keeper's ass she should be doing something other than just standing there like a fucking statue listening to a blacksmith extol Kahlan's virtuous, mischievous and sneaky ways.

Oscar gruffly clears his throat again, "So I guess we're even now?"

Cara arches an eyebrow at Oscar. The audacity of the implication is astounding really, "Are you actually implying that you...saved me from Benjamin the other day?"
Oscar suddenly sits up straight and shakes his head, "No, forget I said it that way. I know I would've been laid out on the ground like him too if my intentions matched with his." Cara just narrows her eyes and projects her best stern glare. Oscar's eyes widen but then he slaps his hands on his knees and then seems to grin. "Say, what were you doing here in my shop anyway? Not that I'm ungrateful for Fate bringing you here at a damn good time. Cause, I may be big but I'm not much of a fighter."

Cara's urge to glare wanes and she ends up smirking again. She likes this man. He's easy to speak with and has a sense of humor and self-preservation. Cara shrugs, "My dagger is dulled and needs some work after my sparring session with shit for brains back there." Oscar shakes his head again but this time in obvious amusement. "And I thought you might be skilled enough for the task of fixing my blade."

Oscar snorts and rises off the bench; Cara hears his knees pop from his weight, "I'm skilled enough or at least other people seem to think so since they don't mind paying me." Cara purses her lips to keep from grinning at the quip. "Let me see what I'm going to have to work with?"

Cara promptly lets the length of chain that she's been toying with in her hands drop down on the ground. The jumble of twisted metal resembles a rough silvery black snake coiled to strike at her boots. Cara then reaches behind her back, up under her jacket, wraps her gloved hand around the handle of her dagger and then smoothly draws it out from its hiding place.

Oscar's eyes widen again, "Shit! The smithy who made that thing was skilled in many ways." He runs a hand down over his beard again; kind of pulling it at the end before letting go. "I don't think I'd have the patience to constantly twist the metal while it was cooling, reheat it again and again, and then repeat another twist over and over. And sharpening it took some patience."

Cara grins wryly, he has no idea how skilled the other blacksmith was. It was a tempting time for Cara and not just for the weaponry. That same blacksmith tried to get Cara to stay or at least come back some time and Cara did go back to visit a few times but that other blacksmith got attached to Cara and she wanted things that Cara deemed herself incapable of back then. Or maybe Cara just passed on the offer because the blacksmith wasn't Kahlan? Cara frowns and this is another reason why she prefers not to dwell on the past. Cara flips the dagger around in her grasp and then hands it to Oscar, handle first.

The blacksmith takes it and looks the weapon over with more obvious appreciation, "The balance feels impeccable." Oscar then gingerly runs his fingertips along the blades many edges. "The damage isn't too bad. It's a very well-crafted weapon to not pick up anymore rolls and nicks than it has." Oscar twists the blade around in his grip and holds it up in the light. "I can have it like new and razor sharp by tomorrow afternoon at the latest. I can even take it home with me instead of leaving it here in the shop if that's alright?"

Cara nods her ascent and then bends down to pick up the chain resting at her feet, "I have my Agiels which never need sharpening and they're twice as deadly."

Oscar chuckles lowly and tucks Cara's dagger into the front pocket of his fire-scarred black leather apron, "I saw how quickly you dropped Benjamin just grazing him with one of those." Oscar makes a face and then reaches behind his head to rub at the back of his neck. A potential nervous tick. "You know I need to get going. Get this stitched up so I'll leave you to it. Just blow out the candles in back and close the front door when you're done. There's a padlock hanging just outside the door too, I made it, and...I'd be grateful if you used it." Cara arches an eyebrow at Oscar. He can't actually be suggesting that she close up for him as though she were the hired help. Oscar glances around and then claps his hands together. "Well, have a goodnight. Try not to, I mean he's an asshole, but I bet the." Cara knows what name or rather title that is about to fall out of his mouth so she flat out glares at Oscar again. "Right then, none of my business...so I'll see you tomorrow afternoon?"

Cara promptly rolls her eyes and gathers up the length of chain more securely in her grasp. Cara will address Oscar's rambling presumptions tomorrow and that goes double if he fucks up her weapon. Right now though Cara has to make sure Benjamin is made as uncomfortable as possible. Cara smirks as she saunters towards the back room where Benjamin is still sprawled out on the dirt floor. Cara tilts her head to the side; debating on how much effort she wants to put into this since she's beyond tired of seeing his face. Cara is incapable of feeling pity for what awaits this buffoon. Cara knows Kahlan well enough that Benjamin won't know what's coming until he's standing and then possibly kneeling before the Mother Confessor. The least Cara can do is to make sure he doesn't slither away like his kind is wont to do.

 


 

After the chaining up a half-wit affair was thoroughly done, including locking up for Oscar, it's worth noting that Cara managed not to succumb to the near blinding urge to string Benjamin up by his heels thus letting all of his blood run to his actual brain to give the little head that resides in his crotch a rest from doing all the 'thinking'. Cara would've chalked it up to a service to all females but one female had to take precedence over the majority. In other words it's Kahlan's fault. It's a shame really looking back on how best to preserve Benjamin; several options were viable when Cara noticed a nearby pulley that Oscar likely uses for unloading heavy objects and Benjamin is about two hundred pounds of worthless shitbag that with the help of the pulley Cara lifted effortlessly.

Cara is after all more than familiar with how to hoist up a body given her unique past. But in all honesty it should be no secret to anyone that bothers to use their head for something other than growing hair that Darken Rahl never did any heavy lifting and neither did any of Cara's former Mord'Sith sisters when they were training someone. So in an effort not to further annoy Kahlan, the ruler of the whole damned Midlands, Cara left Benjamin hanging by his hands with support around his waist. But for good fun Cara accidentally on purpose grazed Benjamin with her Agiel again in the same spot as she touched him earlier. He awoke but Cara put him right back under with a smug smirk that was impossible to hold back.

With nowhere else interesting to go Cara decided to return to the palace. At least Cara is somewhat less frustrated at the moment than when she left. Cara decides to take her chances with Kahlan since it's still not that late in the evening. At the very least perhaps Cara will be granted a few kisses which have become satisfying in their own right. Cara is not going to call it running after Kahlan and certainly not groveling since Cara doesn't chase after people unless they have a price on their head. And despite some of Cara's frustration being quelled the fact of the matter is that Oscar's observations have opened the door to even more things between her and Kahlan to consider.

Cara smoothly turns a corner and then strides down the hallway towards the Mother Confessor's private chambers. The hallway is intermittently lined with small torches on both sides that burn when the space darkens to a point and then extinguishes when the sun rises. Cara has slowly had to adjust to the amount of magic that is employed at the Confessor's Palace. Such luxuries were not even entertained at the Peoples Palace; everything was more manual and that was due to the fact that Darken was the only person who was allowed to weld magic and he certainly wouldn't deign to waste his magic when he had perfectly good servants and slaves to attend to him. Cara rolls her eyes, if only there was a way to truly erase that man from her memories.

Cara huffs out an aggravated sigh in the silent hallway as arrives in front of the door to Kahlan's quarters. The two members of the elite Home Guard barely blinks before moving aside so Cara can enter. Cara forcefully knocks once before trying the latch on the doors to see if it's locked, which they aren't, so Cara pushes the doors open and then steps inside the pleasantly warmed-over space of Kahlan's room. Cara quietly turns to close the doors and then locks them. Cara thinks that to the two guards standing just outside the sound of the lock turning over might seem presumptuous and perhaps it is. But in truth Cara has no expectations beyond a kiss and she's not even going to try to seduce Kahlan.

"Where have you been? I went to your room and you weren't there so I thought you might have been in my chambers but you weren't." Kahlan sounds a touch frantic and too motherly but nonetheless Cara turns around to face Kahlan with a wry smirk in place. Kahlan pushes a hand through her long, dark hair. "Spirits, I've been waiting patiently for you all night! I was just about to give up and go to sleep."

Cara shrugs and goes to remove the glove off her left hand first, "Well here I am, even though I was under the impression that you did not want company tonight."
At no point has Cara ever envisioned Kahlan uttering the words 'let's fuck' for making her intentions transparent or in any other crude fashion but still Cara is no mind reader. However, body language is a second language that Cara needs no help in deciphering and again nothing about Kahlan hinted that Cara was invited to her quarters this night. Cara finishes pulling off her left and then right glove before tucking them both into her belt for the time being.

Kahlan sighs and then moves closer towards Cara, "I see that I'm going to have to continue being very blunt with you."

Cara raises an eyebrow because this could be an intriguing development if Kahlan follows through on that promise or threat depending on how you want to evaluate it, "That would be a wise move. It eliminates the potential for misunderstandings."

Kahlan huffs out another sigh and places her hands on her hips, "I just don't want you to get it stuck in your head somewhere that I only want you here for my...gratification."

Cara smirks while Kahlan's cheeks color slightly at the padded statement. It's charming really and Kahlan so loves to dance in her own distinct way. Whether it be in battle since that's how the Confessor fought in Cara's eyes back then; gracefully slashing her way through her enemies, while rarely ever relinquishing the upper hand to her opponent. Then there's the dance Kahlan performs with words and the Confessor has never been short on those. That much hasn't changed in her while so much more has in the years they spent apart. All that notwithstanding Cara would never allow herself to become a concubine again if that's all Kahlan actually wanted.

Cara glances around the room again before her eyes settle on the two chairs in front of the large fireplace. It seems strange to think back on that first night when she confronted Kahlan, where they both sat in front of the fire, opening this thing between them all over again. Cara makes a move to step around Kahlan but the Confessor catches her by the elbow. Cara stalls and then looks directly into those beguiling icy blue eyes that Kahlan possesses. Cara takes in a sharp breath, not at what she sees but there is plenty even with Kahlan wearing a longer shift this night, but at what she suddenly feels. Cara's heart is beating just as fast as any other time Kahlan has touched her recently and in their shared past. It's a sobering realization.

"I've meant every word that I've spoken to you." Kahlan's grip on her elbow isn't demanding, far from it. If anything the only thing that could be considered demanding is her voice which is ardently requesting Cara's full attention and Kahlan certainly has that. "Even the ones I've yet to say aloud and I'm only withholding in fear that they'll drive you away from me. Again. Which is the last thing I want."

Cara averts her eyes, she has already figured out more than likely what Kahlan is afraid of saying and she is right to. But as much as Cara has tried not to think about it all or she has been too busy to dwell on it this night it seems like the worst kind of cowardice to not face it. And Cara has not come as far as she has as a person to fall short in any capacity and that's the truth even without Oscar filling in the rest of the blanks in the story tonight without any coaxing. It's almost funny to Cara now that all of the Midlands essentially know while Cara was the last. It's no wonder everyone in Aydindril has been eager to keep Kahlan well informed. Cara wants to roll her eyes now that she thinks back on her earlier assumptions that Kahlan's all-seeing eyes were either magic related or just paid for.

Cara takes a deep breath in through her nose and turns her gaze back on Kahlan, "No one, could so much as drag me away from you." A little gasp slips from Kahlan's lips while her eyes go distinctly shiny. Cara quickly supposes that she may as well start getting acclimated to the tears. At least Kahlan has never dissolved into a blubbering mess since Cara never wants to see that which would surely be a ghastly sight. "Though I managed to, once." It was in the name of self-preservation which was the only thing that made it tolerable. Cara blinks away an irritating stinging that's beginning to affect her eyes. "I will not try to lie to you and say that this isn't..." Cara won't admit out loud that all this is too much for a soul as broken as hers. But then Kahlan probably knows that or she should by now. "That this isn't...what I." Cara grits her teeth for a moment and forces her gaze not to wavier from Kahlan's increasingly watery one. "You deserve more than I can offer."

Kahlan makes this little noise; like that if a stifled cry from being hurt and then suddenly Cara finds herself being kissed, rather sweetly but with a certain intent. Kahlan's hands tenderly frame Cara's face and Cara just gives herself over to the kiss while her arms wind around Kahlan's waist to pull the Confessor in as close as possible. Cara's heart is beating fast but as arousing as being this close to Kahlan is there is also a kind of peace that mingles with it. Cara tilts her head to take charge of the kiss and with one nibble on Kahlan's lower lip, which causes a delightful subdued moan Kahlan breaks the kiss and then rests her forehead against Cara's. Cara licks her tingling lips while she leans back and opens her eyes.

Kahlan smiles and with the high coloring on her cheeks and elevated breaths it's not difficult to read that she's similarly affected, "You're too selfless. But it's my choice to make not just yours and it's not as though I made it overnight." Kahlan grazes her thumbs along Cara's cheeks and Cara has to fight to keep her eyes from fluttering or worse at the delicate caress. "You did give me pause though for the first time in a long while just after you first arrived. But I was so happy to see you." Kahlan smiles an endearingly bright smile and then bites down on her lower lip for a moment. "But when I realized that you thought I had darker motives." Cara feels chided, scolded and reprimanded. "And then you slept with that barmaid. I can't lie, I felt like a fool." Cara goes to open her mouth to express her regret but Kahlan's long finger that presses on her lips prevent it. "That will be the last time I bring up your indiscretion. I've forgiven you for it on the account of how I convinced you to come to Aydindril."

Cara smirks as she contemplates for a moment just sucking Kahlan's finger that's resting against her lips into her mouth to see how that would go over. But while gazing into Kahlan's blue eyes Cara sees something there and it leads her to the conclusion such an action would not be all that well received now. After all, Kahlan wants more than physical pleasure then Cara will have to show that she is capable of more than that too.

Kahlan smiles and removes her finger from Cara's lips and then steps back at arm’s length and lets her gaze slowly wander over Cara's body, "I've always thought you looked so dashing in your red leathers. The old ones too." Kahlan smiles shyly and Cara grins in return. "The first time that thought occurred to me was just before you retired the neckpiece and corset of your Mord'Sith uniform."

Cara's eyebrows arch up because Kahlan is referring back to the time frame just after that pitiful trial where Kahlan spared her life when Cara's slow painful death was the only outcome that would suit everyone else present. Cara has not and will not forget how strong Kahlan wore her anger that day. It's not been so many hours ago just today, in the Council Chambers, that they were discussing that part of their past.

Kahlan sighs and tilts her head to the side, "I know what you're thinking and it was a fleeting thought that I didn't circle back to until my anger towards you waned." Kahlan leans back in and places a hand on Cara's cheek again. "And that began sooner than I expected upon reflection. I believe that it's fair to say that it started when you saved my life at the trial." Kahlan sniffles lightly and Cara's a few breaths away from going in for a kiss to spare the both of them silly tears and the leaking nose deal that eventually comes with it. "When that man with a crossbow aimed at me was angry enough to end my life since I would not end yours."

Cara has to fight to keep from crying. Damn Kahlan and her compassion and all the other ways that she is goodness personified and so much more. Cara swallows down what feels like her fiercely beating heart in her throat, "Are you certain that I'm what you want?"

Kahlan smiles thoughtfully while her other hand moves from Cara's face to tuck some of her golden hair behind her ear, "It's as I told you before the idea of perfect is actually boring in real life. And with you I've been anything but bored and that includes since you've been here in Aydindril." Kahlan smiles more and then leans in to place a quick kiss on the corner of Cara's mouth. Kahlan is such a tease but at least it's a proper is distraction that's drying out both of their eyes. "Also, I know that being with me is scary to you since my children come with the deal which I understand."

And there it is, just like that, everything truly is out in the open and Cara has nothing to say for herself but then it sounded like Kahlan's not expecting an answer right away. Cara came to Kahlan's chambers with the intention of a short visit and possibly to inform Kahlan about Benjamin if the conversation lulled enough but now all of that seems like a waste of time. Cara closes her eyes and listens to the sounds of the room; the crackling of the perpetually burning fireplace and Kahlan's heavy breathing so near. Cara opens her eyes and places her hand on Kahlan's neck and then pulls the Confessor in for a kiss. Kahlan makes a small noise at the contact but she quickly rises to match the not quite desperation while Cara places her other hand on Kahlan's waist.

Cara remembers vividly how it felt to touch Kahlan last night. The taste of the skin along Kahlan's soft inner thigh, the way the muscles trembled there, until Cara reached the place where Kahlan was so very wet, eager and wonderfully vocal for Cara's talents. Cara recalls how Kahlan was on the verge of begging before Cara buried her tongue and then fingers inside. Cara groans into the kiss and then tilts her head to the side to deepen it as she pushes her thigh between Kahlan's legs. Cara isn't imagining the heat she feels through her leathers and Kahlan seems to swoon in her arms which only stokes the red-hot blood in Cara's veins. Cara drags her other hand up from Kahlan's waist to a breast that more than fills her hand.

Kahlan moans into the kiss but then abruptly pulls away, “Spirits! You're incredibly good at that." Kahlan pants out as she slips off Cara's thigh. Kahlan's voice is the right kind of breathless and that's the only thing that keeps Cara from frowning while her hands slide off their targets too. "It's not that I don't want to again but for tonight can we just." Kahlan's voice falters then while she blushes and for moment Cara wishes that she didn't find it so charming this time around instead of seeing it as a cue to goad Kahlan into turning redder. "I mean we could. Or if you really want to we could." Kahlan pushes a hand through her hair and rolls her eyes. "How do you do this to me? A woman pushing thirty-four years effortlessly reduced to a blushing maiden?"

Cara arches an eyebrow at this endearing woman who is currently having as much trouble speaking as Cara does at times, "It's a skill." Cara finds it noteworthy that they seem to bring that out in each other in entirely different ways but Cara's is much more fun. "And were you about to propose that we cuddle for warmth?"

Kahlan smiles and it's that playful one, "What's so bad about it exactly?"

Nothing. But Cara's not going to own up to that anytime tonight, tomorrow or the next time Kahlan suggests such a mildly chaste activity. Cara had no intention of seducing Kahlan when she stepped through the doors to the Confessor's chambers tonight but plans change and a skilled warrior adjusts accordingly or rather picks her battles. Cara will share Kahlan's bed this night and who is to say what will happen once they are under the covers and then there is still the morning. Cara has known plenty of women and all men are literally up for taking their pleasure in the mornings before the sun rises and long before it's time to sit down for breakfast. So Cara says nothing, only smirks and then simply heads towards the divider that shields Kahlan's large bed from prying eyes.

Cara smiles as she begins to loosen her belt from around her waist. Kahlan might change her mind once Cara starts removing her leathers. Kahlan just stated that she had quite an affinity for Cara's red uniform. Cara removes her gloves out from her belt, before unbuckling her belt completely and then places them both on the same table in Kahlan's bedroom that she's used beforehand. Cara then moves to unbutton her short jacket, slowly though since she knows Kahlan has just moved up close behind her. Cara holds her breath and then lets it go at the feeling of Kahlan's hands sliding over her shoulders with purpose. Cara's eyes shut for a moment under the weight of the sensation. Kahlan's hands pull Cara's jacket off her shoulders and with barely a pause the Confessor's hands deftly begin working on the small buttons around the high neck of Cara's leather top.

Cara shivers at the feeling of Kahlan's fingers grazing along her now bared neck. Cara takes a shallow breath and waits for Kahlan's next intention and Cara doesn't have to wait long because Kahlan presses her body fully against Cara's back. A short groan slips past Cara's lips and with Kahlan barefoot and Cara still in her boots they are the same height. Cara grins at the obvious desire in Kahlan's touch but then Kahlan reverently moves Cara's hair off her neck and begins placing a series of maddeningly light open-mouth kisses along Cara's urgently increasing pulse. Cara tilts her head to the side to give Kahlan more access. Kahlan makes one of her small pleased noises that practically vibrates along the skin of Cara's neck that Kahlan is giving so much attention to.

Cara is at the end of a delicious rope right now and Kahlan is everything Cara imagined her to be, that part isn't surprising but the Confessor's sneaky and lustful side is. Cara reaches back with one hand and buries it in Kahlan's hair, "So much for cuddling, isn't that right?"

Cara feels Kahlan smile against her neck, "I'm allowed to change my mind." Kahlan presses another lingering kiss right below Cara's ear. "And if it will make you feel better we will do the cuddling part after."

Cara laughs in such a way that Kahlan ends up doing it as well. Kahlan leans in and kisses Cara playfully on the cheek and that's just the kind of thing Kahlan would do so Cara slides her hand out of Kahlan's hair and then turns around to face Kahlan. The Confessor doesn't appear to be the least bit apologetic for a bit of fibbing or going from wonderfully seductive to chaste. Cara smirks because in the low light of the one candle burning on the table by the bed combined with the glow cast by the large fireplace in the other room Kahlan is the most welcome kind of darkness to Cara. Kahlan bites down on her lower lip and Cara swiftly reaches out for her and pulls Kahlan back to her lips.

Tonight it's going to be Kahlan's job to rid Cara of her leathers and in return Cara will indulge Kahlan in whatever way that she's capable of. But then in the haze of the best kind of delirium it occurs to Cara that the events of this evening are nearly a mirror of what happened the last time her and Kahlan were together. Cara withheld the events of the day from Kahlan and turned out alright for the most part but who is to say it will pass that way a second time and so soon after the first blunder. Cara quickly takes Kahlan's more hesitant tongue inside her mouth and sucks on it, which prompts a deep moan from Kahlan, for a moment before breaking the kiss which causes Kahlan to make a noise of disappointment.

Kahlan frowns, "What's wrong?"

"I fought with Benjamin again this evening."

Kahlan shakes her head and places her hands on Cara's waist, "And why was that necessary?"

Cara sniffs, "He was attacking the blacksmith I mentioned who was present during the stable incident."

Kahlan grins while she moves her hands up higher on Cara's waist, "So you went to see a blacksmith instead of coming to see me after dinner. Why?" Cara opens her mouth to protest her reason again that Kahlan was not forthcoming about wanting Cara's affections. But Kahlan stops her with a simple smile coupled with a wandering touch of her hands just under Cara's breasts. "Not that it apparently wasn't a good thing and fortuitous for the blacksmith. Oscar is his name, right?"

Cara can scarcely bring herself to nod thanks to Kahlan's distracting touches but she does, "My dagger was somewhat damaged in my fight with Benjamin." Kahlan's clever hands slide up to cover Cara's still leather covered breasts which causes Cara to gasp in a way that clearly pleases Kahlan if her sly smile is anything to go by. Cara narrows her eyes at Kahlan. "I thought I would go have it tended to."

Kahlan leans forward and presses a kiss along Cara's neck again as she gently squeezes Cara's breasts, "Is that all?"

That's not all of course but Cara is going to leave out the part where she actually took a walk to work through her feelings. Kahlan doesn't need to know that and besides Cara is having trouble focusing on anything other than Kahlan's touch and the outright riot it's causing in Cara's body, "I didn't kill raccoon face but I did incapacitate him with my Agiel and then I chained him up for you."

Kahlan slowly starts kissing and now nibbling along Cara's neck, "Thank you for telling me this time."

Cara is officially tired of words unless it's to hear or issue words of encouragement or direction in regards to what's presently happening, "Finish unbuttoning my leathers before we die of old age."

Kahlan laughs lowly against the over-heating skin of Cara's neck, "What’s the hurry?"

Cara rolls her eyes because Kahlan is clearly quite proud of herself which would only become more smug if she took a moment to appreciate the evidence of the physical state that she has worked Cara into. Cara knows her face is flushed as well as other parts of her that Kahlan has yet to physically touch. Kahlan is proving to be devious, not that Cara minds, taking into account of what Kahlan's idea of a reprisal is thus far for the near constant blushing Cara enjoys bringing out in the Confessor. For once Cara finds herself not only looking forward to whatever this night brings but for the next day too. It's yet another unsuspecting change in the course of Cara's life as of recently.