DISCLAIMER: "Legend of the Seeker", its characters, and the situations depicted are the property of ABC Studios, and Terry Goodkind. This piece of fan fiction was created for fun and not profit.
WARNING: Dark Fic - character death, non-con, Mord'Sith torture.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
PREQUEL: To Ripples of Undoing.

The Path of Things Undone
By trancer


It is a day typically found in dreams. The sun golden and blazing, the sky a continuous sea of blue, the air warm and speckled with the petals of blossoming trees carried on the light breeze. The faire has come to Aydindril and its streets are teeming with people.

Kahlan and Dennee have spent the afternoon running through the streets as children often do, marveling in wonder and squealing in delight at the jugglers and fire breathers and contortionists.

The day grows long and even little legs filled with childish enthusiasm grow tired. And Kahlan and Dennee sit with their mother and father at the top of a low, sloping hill beneath a shade tree. It overlooks the field where the Midlands best soldiers are demonstrating their skills.

Dennee sits between their mother's legs, getting her hair braided as she sings to her new doll. Kahlan sits next to their father, greedily licking her fingers clean from the sugared fruits her father secretly bought, enraptured by the soldiers sparring below.

A soldier with shield and sword deftly manuevers between two larger opponents, the crowd's roar rolls up the hill like a wave.

"That's what I want to be when I grow up," Kahlan declares. "A soldier."

"Don't be stupid," Dennee huffs with an exaggerated roll of her eyes. "Confessor's can't be soldiers."

Shocked at her sister's words, Kahlan turns her widened eyes to her father. "Is that true? I can't be a soldier?"

He turns his face to hers, lips spread in a wide smile. He nudges her with his arm. "You can be anything you want to be."

"I want to be a soldier," Kahlan nods then she puffs her chest, lifting her chin. "I want to be a General. Just like you."

"Frederick," her mother sighs. "Don't fill her head with such thoughts."

"She's a child," he smiles coyly back at her. "Let her be one for a little while longer. The world does a good enough job crushing children's dreams, let us not be a part of it."

Kahlan watches as her mother smiles at her father as she often does when he makes her happy. Then, her mother leans over, her father meeting her halfway and Kahlan scrunches her face as children often do in the presence of adult physical affection.

But, when she turns her eyes back to the field, she thinks she not only wants to be a soldier. She also wants to be like her mother - a Confessor. And she wants to be loved like her father loves her mother. So, Kahlan decides she will be both - a Confessor and a General. And she wants the rest of her days to be as happy as this one.

It will be the last day Kahlan Amnell sees her mother alive.

Cara Mason has never been so frightened in all her life. She's running wildly, frantically through the forest, in nothing more than blind panic.

She can hear the horses behind her, giant steeds with pelts as dark as midnight and eyes as red as hot pokers. But, it's the red leather of the rider's that makes Cara run. Like all the children in Stowecraft, she'd heard the stories of the women in red who stole children and turned them into monsters. And though Cara had dismissed the stories with childlike bravado, many a night such stories had kept her awake.

Now, she knows the monsters are real, the monsters are in Stowecraft.

And they're coming for Cara.

A steed cuts in front of her and Cara darts into the bushes. Only, the ground gives way under her feet and she's tumbling - down, down, down - an embankment. She lands hard on her stomach, knocks her head against a rock. There's a thought of escape but, from out of nowhere, a horse is in front of her, rearing back on its hind legs.

A hand grabs her by the front of her dress. She grabs it with both her hands around the wrist, sinks her teeth into the fleshy side of the hand, sinks her teeth until the leather splits and she tastes blood. The woman holding her doesn't flinch and, for some reason, that terrifies Cara even more.

Lifted like a wet sack of flour, she's tossed into the back of a cart with thick metal bars, filled with girls like her, crying and wailing, faces streaming with tears and snot. She sees a familiar face, brown hair and blue eyes, the name tickling the back of her mind.

"Dahlia?" she says, blinking.

It's the only face she knows, in this cart filled with strangers and surrounded by monsters. They reach instinctively towards each other, clutching each other as the cart steals them away..

To the place monsters where are made.

"Please.. I.. I can't."

Dennee's crying and she can't stop. They're with the man who used to be their father because their mother died and their father changed. He doesn't smile anymore. He doesn't touch them anymore.

"Dammit, Dennee!" he shouts, stomping towards her, his hand balling into a fist. And Kahlan steps between Dennee and the man that used to be her father, chin raised high. The difference between Kahlan and Dennee, Kahlan's not afraid of him.

"I'll do it," she says and Frederick practically skids to a stop. He eyes her suspiciously, almost disbelieving. Had Kahlan known the man Frederick used to be, she would recognize the look in his eyes as shame. But she doesn't, because she's glancing at her sister who's still crying. And Kahlan is unable to stop the thought that her sister is.. weak. This is who they are. This is what they do. Sooner or later, it was always going to come to this.

"Fine," he huffs, shrinking back from her. "Just.. hurry up and get it over with."

Kahlan doesn't know his name. All that's important is that he owes Frederick money. Money Frederick says he will use to buy Kahlan and Dennee new dresses, a hot meal, a bed for the night made with feathers instead of straw. None of that particularly matters to Kahlan. At the moment, all she cares about is power, her power, and the opportunity to use it.

She's felt it growing within her as naturally as the changes turning her from child to woman. Dennee might still be a child but Kahlan is not. As her gift slowly matures, so has Kahlan's desire to use it.

The man sits on the forest floor, his back to a tree, his arms bound around it. Nervously, heart in throat, Kahlan slowly walks towards him, her magic swelling, a tightly lidded pot placed onto the fire.

His eyes widen with fear, head shaking back and forth as his lips repeat the word 'no' over and over again. He flails his legs, trying to kick Kahlan away. And something swells within Kahlan, something she's never felt before.


Here she is, no longer a child, not quite a woman and here he is, a grown adult and terrified of her. She raises her hand, fingers curled like a claw and lunges. Her fingers wrap around his throat, her eyes go black and the power is instantaneous. A heady rush that overwhelms her, it is both pleasure and pain. Pain she's never felt before. Pleasure she didn't know her body was capable of producing. The power expands, travels down her arm, through her eyes and into the man who's throat she has firmly in her grasp.

She watches as his eyes go black then return to normal, and he's looking at her reverently. "Command me, Confessor."

Kahlan's mouth goes slack as something twitches hard deep within her belly. But, the power's too much, beyond her grasp of control. It saps every ounce of strength from her body. Steals her consciousness as everything goes black and Kahlan slumps, almost lifelessly, to the ground.

"Kahlan.." It's her father's voice that stirs her awake. Her head pounds, her body trembling from the power still thrumming through her veins as it recedes. She can hear Dennee in the background, still weeping, still weak.

Kahlan slowly rises to her feet, gazes at the man staring reverently at her. She understood her powers and how they worked. But it was always in the abstract, the intangible. Staring at the man, Kahlan finally understands. He is hers now, for Kahlan to command as she pleases. She knows to use her powers in such a manner, for personal gain, is a violation. But violation is as intangible and abstract to Kahlan as how she once thought her powers worked.

Because, violation or not, all Kahlan wants is to feel the power of her gift humming through her veins once more.

It's Cara's first kiss.

From the moment they were both stolen from Stowecraft, Cara and Dahlia have been at each other's sides. Their training finally completed, they are both the pride of their temple. Dahlia for her tactical acumen, Cara for her dominating physicality. They are still teens, with gangly limbs and unfilled curves, still filling out into the women they will become.

They are alone in the bathing chamber. Cara sits with her back to the wall. Dahlia straddles Cara's lap, her fingers thread tightly in Cara's hair, holding Cara's head still as Dahlia kisses Cara breathless.

Dahlia parts, allowing them both a moment to breathe. Cara looks up at her, dazed and astonished.

"Where'd you learn to kiss like that?" she whispers.

Dahlia blushes even harder than she already is, tilting her head down, gazing up at Cara. "Triana."

The tiniest of growls rumbles up Cara's throat as she stiffens. "She should know better by now."

"Are you going to punish her?"

Emboldened, Cara grips Dahlia by the waist, spins the two around. "Maybe I should punish you instead," she teases.

"You'd like that, wouldn't you?"

"I'd like that very much," Cara says before she brings their lips together once more. Dahlia's legs rise, the insides of her knees brushing against Cara's sides and Cara becomes aware of Dahlia 'there', the heat she feels pressing against her stomach. Cara pulls back, her look curious, a tinge of hurt that the answer to the question pressing against her lips will be one she doesn't want to hear.

"Did she," Cara swallows. "Take you?"

The blush returns to Dahlia's cheeks. She lowers her head, shaking it back and forth softly. There's a look on her face, one Cara can't quite remember the name for. A word that causes her heart to squeeze painfully though it isn't pain.

Dahlia lifts her head, meets Cara's gaze. "Triana knows I am yours."

Cara beams with pride. She presses herself against Dahlia, because she likes the feel of Dahlia's heat against her, how it makes her own insides flare with desire. She kisses Dahlia on the corner of Dahlia's lips. "After Lord Rahl comes and bestows upon us his gift, I will make you mine. Forever."

Dahlia trembles, eyes fluttering. "You wish to make me your mate?"

Pulling back, head tilting, Cara stares back at her. "There's no one else I wish to be with."

"Not even," Dahlia lowers her voice because, though the walls are thick, there are still ears that can hear. "Lord Rahl."

Cara shakes her head. "I wish to be with no one but you. I will make you my mate and," she speaks between gentle kisses on Dahlia's jaw. "I will be your first. Your last. Your forever."

Lord Rahl, Darken Rahl, is younger than Cara thought. Shorter. But, there is no doubt he is the Lord Rahl. It's in the way he carries himself, the way the power radiates off him.

There are two dozen of them, lined shoulder to shoulder in two rows opposite each other, flanking the red carpet Rahl walks upon. Cara lifts her chin, puffs her chest, filling it with pride. She's never been more proud to be a Mord'Sith, to serve Lord Rahl dutifully.

Dahlia's across from her and there's a moment where their eyes meet. And Cara knows Dahlia's filled with as much pride as Cara. The thought that, soon, the two will be mates.

Rahl walks the carpet, inspecting them with a regal disinterest. He doubles back, hands clasped behind his back, the recruits already forgotten. Then, Darken Rahl stops right before Dahlia. He says something to Dahlia, though Cara can't hear his words. She's been by Dahlia's side since the day they were stolen from Stowecraft. She can read Dahlia as easily as a book and there's a growing gnawing sensation in the pit of Cara's stomach, something she hasn't felt since before she was broken the first time - fear.

They remain at attention until Lord Rahl leaves the room. The order is given, they all break formation but before Cara can even step towards Dahlia, Dahlia is being whisked away by their commanding Sister's. Whisked away towards the quarters reserved only for the Lord Rahl.

As Dahlia walks through the large, double doors, she turns and her eyes find Cara's through the crowd.

It's the last time Cara sees Dahlia alive.

They tell her Dahlia has betrayed her Sisters for failing to serve Lord Rahl in the manner he saw fit. They call her weak, unfit to be a Mord'Sith. Cara's Mistresses, the ones who trained Cara and Dahlia, are whipped for not seeing Dahlia's weakness earlier.

Cara says nothing.

She goes to the pit where the dishonorable are disposed like refuge. Dahlia is there amongst the dead, stripped of her clothes, her decency, her honor. Her lifeless body battered, bloodied, broken for the final time.

Cara knows she should weep but weeping is a useless emotion. Instead, she grips the hilt of the Agiel at her hip, lets the pain center her. Her 'gift' from Lord Rahl. As Cara stares at Dahlia's lifeless body, she makes a promise. She will serve Lord Rahl, do his bidding in whatever manner he sees fit. She will train and learn and Cara will become the greatest Mord'Sith to have ever lived, to have ever served the Lord Rahl.

She promises to do this without thought, without pause, until the day arrives when Lord Rahl hangs by his wrists over the pit, tasting the hiss of an Agiel before Cara flays the skin from his bones.

Kahlan doesn't dare move. She doesn't dare breathe. She stands on the edge of the forest, hidden behind bushes along with her father. They'd barely made it out of the walled city before the battle had begun. Somewhere behind them, Kahlan knows Dennee is with the rest of the refugees who'd escaped. A part of her thinks she should be with her sister, helping the wounded and the crying.

Instead, she hides with her father, enraptured as the battle rages below. They surged like a red tide, the Mord'Sith and, even outnumbered three to one, they are quick, brutal, effective. And Frederick quietly whispers to an eager to listen Kahlan, explaining their every move.

"Do you see, Kahlan," his whispers barely contain his excitement. "How they move in groups of four? Their backs always covered?"

Kahlan swallows, unable to tear her eyes away. "You admire them?"

"I admire their efficiency. There isn't a general alive who wouldn't want the Mord'Sith at their command."

Kahlan merely nods. Her eyes have become glued to one Mord'Sith in particular, a streak of blonde on red. She is better than all the others and Kahlan thinks this Mord'Sith could take on the entire Guard on her own. She wonders what it would be like to be Lord Rahl, to have all this at her command, all this.. power. To have 'her' at her command, serving her every whim. And she shifts her legs from the sudden flare of heat between them, reminding the child how much a woman she's grown into.

The blonde disappears in a giant circle of smoke, Kahlan pouts in disappointment. She turns her head towards Frederick. "Do you miss it?" she asks. "Being a general?"

Frederick's brows furrow. He brings a hand to his chin, scratching his beard. "No," he finally answers. "I have more important duties to attend to."

Then, for the first time since her mother died, Frederick places his hand on her shoulder.

Cara enters the bathing chamber. It is empty except for one.

Denna sits on the other side of the pool, arms stretched across the tiles, red lips curving into a smile. "Sister Cara," she drawls. "What do I owe the pleasure?"

Cara bows her head. Lips pursed into a grim line. "I've come to ask for your.. assistance."

Blue eyes narrow as the smile on Denna's lips widens. She pulls one of her arms off the edge, painting her fingers over the surface of the water. "Continue."

Cara grips the hilt of her Agiel, the pain slicing through her nervousness. "Lord Rahl has never asked for me to.." she pauses because she can feel the flush coloring her cheeks and, above all, Cara hates anything that shows her as weak. She inhales deeply, lifts her head. "He's never asked me to pleasure him. When the time comes, I do not wish to appear.. inadequate." Her head lowers again and she has to take another large breath of courage before she lifts it again and meets Denna's eyes. "Will you teach me?"

"All Mord'Sith are taught how to pleasure Lord Rahl."

"I wasn't," and Cara pauses off Denna's audible gasp. "Mistress Nathair thought my time would be best spent learning the fighting arts."

"She would," Denna snorts. Then, her head tilts as her eyes lusciously rake down then up Cara's frame. "Are you telling me you're still pure?"

"Yes," Cara answers, and it's no longer embarrassment coloring her cheeks but shame.

Denna glides across the water, she surfaces, body revealing as she takes the steps upwards out of the pool. She steps to Cara, pressing her body close, placing her fingers under Cara's chin and lifting Cara's head so their eyes can meet. "And you would rather give yourself to me than offer Lord Rahl your chastity?"

Her reasons had been simple when she entered the bathing chamber. But now, listening to Denna's words, seeing the look in Denna's eyes, Cara's motivations change and the idea of giving herself to someone other than Rahl begins to have a certain appeal. "Yes," she answers.

"Good," Denna grins, bringing their lips together. "I will succeed where Sister Nathair failed."

There's pain but it's a mosquito bite compared to all the pain Cara has endured before. Denna takes her time. She is slow, almost gentle, and Cara reaches release several times before Denna's fingers slide into Cara and take her chastity. Even then, it doesn't really hurt, not with the way Denna holds Cara's clit between her lips, pulling and suckling until the pain doesn't really matter anymore.

An eternity later, after the shudders have subsided and the last of the stars behind Cara's eyes have burned out, she opens her eyes. Denna is next to her, body flush against Cara's, a hand propping her head as the other paints lazy patterns on Cara's stomach.

"I thought.." Cara pauses to lick her lips. "It would hurt more."

"Don't worry, my eager little one. It will," Denna smiles softly, drifting her fingers upwards to circle around Cara's nipple. "We've only just begun. First, I will teach you about pleasure. Then, I will teach you about pain. Finally," she squeezes the nipple hard between her fingers, Cara hissing and twitching beneath her. "I will teach you how to turn one into the other."

No one told Kahlan it would hurt.

She's fifteen now. It's been over a year since she's seen her father. Since the day the Confessor's came, Dennee ran into their open arms and Kahlan had to be forcibly subdued, taken back to Aydindril kicking and screaming.

Aydindril. Despite all her fond memories, Kahlan hates it here. HATES it. She hates the confining walls of her room, instead of open forests, the stars as her ceiling and the forest floor as her bed. She hates being still, how her feet aren't allowed to move no further than the city's edge. The same buildings, same people, same roads. She hates the way the Mother Confessor always looks at her, always sorrowed and guilty. She hates how Dennee is flourishing here and Kahlan is not.

She misses her father.

She misses her freedom.

It's why she steals away whenever she can. Doing the things she knows her sister, the Mother Confessor would not approve of. Things like him.

His name is Brayson. He's tall, broad shouldered, with wheat colored hair and dark eyes. Kahlan's only met him a couple times before. He says he's only a few years older than Kahlan but Kahlan suspects he may be a little older than that. Especially since he'll be joining the Guard soon. Not that it matters because Brayson is tall and handsome, and he says all the right things, at all the right times. And when they're not together, Kahlan thinks of being with him, what their children will look like.

Because, really, that's all she's been thinking about lately - IT. What's 'it' like? How does 'it' feel? Will doing 'it' change her? Make her a woman, less of a woman because it will probably be outside of marriage. Because, Kahlan decides, why should she, as a woman, only be allowed to do 'it' with one man, when men are allowed to do 'it' with as many women as they see fit.

As she steals away into the night, into the abandoned stable on the outskirts of Aydindril where Brayson told her to meet him, Kahlan knows, tonight will be the night.

The wine Brayson gives her is strong and goes straight to her head. She's dizzy drunk and his kisses make her dizzier. His touch makes her feel like she's floating, like her insides are on fire and she just might burst into flame. As they kiss, his fingers are everywhere - stealing inside her bodice and cupping her breast, drifting down her stomach, caressing and then up her skirt. Where the calloused fingertips between her legs steal her breath away. He eases her down onto the blanket covering the straw beneath them, slides his body between her legs and Kahlan can feel his hardness beneath his trousers. There's an urgency in him as he reaches between them and unfastens his belt and Kahlan thinks he may be as nervous and excited as she is, and she wonders if this is Brayson's first time as well.

Then, his hardness is against her opening and he pushes, no, shoves himself inside her. The shock of pain is so strong, Kahlan forgets to cry out. And she just needs a.. moment to adjust to this. But, Brayson won't stop, not even when she tells him to wait, when she tells him to STOP. She struggles, squirming and writhing beneath him, trying to buck him off. He grabs her hands by the wrists, presses his body against hers, continues pushing, pulling, pushing until he's convulsing, grunting like a pig as his eyes roll into the backs of his sockets and he releases his seed inside her even though she'd told him not to.

It's not until he stops, withdraws, rolling off Kahlan and rising to his knees does Kahlan notice she's crying.

"I said stop," Kahlan sniffles, drawing her knees to her chin and wrapping her arms around her legs.

"Your kind always say stop," he snorts derisively.

Her head whips towards him. "My kind?"

"Cock teases," he says. His voice is harder now. There's none of the sweetness that drew Kahlan to Brayson in the first place. "You flirt, you kiss, you eat the food I buy you, drink my wine but when it's time to pay it's always," he lifts his hands in a dainty manner, his voice taking a feminine lilt, "'No, don't, stop'. So don't pretend you didn't want it."

"You're not fit to be in the Guard!" Kahlan snaps back. She knows her slight is weak, but it's the only thing she could think of.

"Who says I'm joining the Guard," he sneers triumphantly at her. "Besides, women like you are only good for one thing. I just wanted to be first to put you on your back. Where you belong."

Kahlan knows she's been foolish. Knows the only reason Brayson brought her to the abandoned stable on the outskirts of Aydindril was so no one could hear her scream. But, it's not shame or sorrow that rises within Kahlan. Brayson has no idea who Kahlan is. Brayson has no idea WHAT Kahlan is. It's night. The stable is dark other than the slivers of moonlight spilling over the barn. He doesn't see her blue eyes turn instantly to black, or the fingers twitching with want to wrap around his throat.

And no one hears Brayson scream.

Brayson's body is found a week later, hanging from the rafters of the old stable on the outskirts of Aydindril, his own belt wrapped around his neck.

Shota stands on the edge of the Great Hall where the wizards are holding their meeting to name a new Seeker, regardless of the fact that they still don't have the Sword of Truth. Where Shota stands as a witness only and not permitted to speak. Individually, each of these wizards fear Shota down to their very bones. But, they are emboldened by their collective numbers and choose to keep her silent rather than listen to reason.

It takes everything Shota has not to sneer at their stupidity.

In the span of two years, they have lost three Seekers and twice as many Confessor's. It's time to name a new Seeker and the wizard's wish to discuss who before they name their choice at Council.

They are all wizards of the Second and Third Order, running around like chickens with their heads cut off. The only living wizard of the First Order, Zeddicus Zorander, continues to live behind the veil that separates Westland from the Midlands. Not that Zedd's guidance would be any more sound than the wizards speaking now.

Shota has seen the paths that lead to the future. Always diverging, always splitting into two - one that leads to peace, one with never ending war. She doesn't need to be a sorceress to know which path the wizards will choose. Decisions based upon a belief in faulty traditions, politics and patriarchal privilege.

She also knows time is running out. Where the familiar path taken will eventually erase the one most needed. She turns on her heel and leaves. The wizards will make their choice. Shota will make hers.

She will choose the path that is right. She will choose the path where she is needed most. Before time runs out and the doddering old wizards doom them all.

It's not the first brothel Shota has entered and, she already knows, it won't be her last. The doors open, Shota enters and the tavern immediately quiets. Some know who she is, most don't. They just know a witch when they see one, know enough not to question, merely divert their eyes and hope Shota doesn't meet their gaze.

She ignores them, heads for the stairs, knows exactly which door she should step before. The latch is locked and, with a wave of her hand, it opens. The room is lit by a solitary candle. The air stinks of sweat, sex and blood. Bodies, women and men, passed out from drink, exhausted from pleasure are strewn about the room like refuse.

Only one is awake.

Cara sits on a chair in the corner, naked, legs splayed open, slowly drinking a mug of ale. "Sorry, you missed the party," she says, wiping her lips with the back of a hand. "Then again, there's always room for one more."

Shota gazes about the room with an air of disinterest. "I am not here to sate your appetites."

"Then leave," Cara growls into her mug.

Shota doesn't. She walks deeper into the room, towards the lone candle. Fingers splayed open, she drifts them back and forth over the flame. "How long have you been a Mord'Sith?"

"What business is that of yours?"

"Would you say you are Lord Rahl's most trusted servant?"

"I am a Mord'Sith, we are all Lord Rahl's most trusted servants."

"And you have learned much from him?"

Cara slams her mug on the armrest. "Dammit, woman! Either remove your clothes and service me or leave. We Mord'Sith are many things, patient, especially with meddling questions is not one of them."

"My apologies," Shota bows her head. "I shall get to the point then. Would you say you've learned more than you've forgotten or forgotten more than you've learned?"

"I've learned what I've needed to and forgotten what was necessary."

"Forgotten what was necessary?" Shota raises an eyebrow. "Such as a promise? To the one who was supposed to be your mate?"

The mug is dropped and, in a flash, Cara's across the room. Her hand is around Shota's throat as she slams the woman against the door. "I.." Cara stammers, her face twitching in pain as the memory comes back to her, stabbing her insides with the intensity of an Agiel and Cara wonders how she could have ever forgotten.

"You are more than this, Cara Mason," Shota whispers forcefully. "More than a plaything for Darken Rahl to use as he sees fit. Drowning your sorrows with whores and ale."

"Who.." Cara stammers. "Who are you?"

"I am merely a messenger. Here to remind you of what was and portends of what could be. Your true mate still awaits you.."

Cara tightens her grip around Shota's neck, nudges with her arm. "There will never be another like Dahlia!"

"Perhaps," Shota stiffens, tired of Cara's misplaced anger. "But without.. her, your promise to Dahlia will remain just that. A promise."

"Tell me her name!" Cara growls, her grip tightening. "Tell me!"

"Release me."

Cara does. She steps back, giving the strange woman a bit of space. But, before she can blink, she feels the tingle of magic. Sees the ghostly smoke swirling around the woman.

And Shota is gone.

It's been years since Kahlan has cried. Not since those first months after her mother died. Despite the presence of her sister, of those around her who are just like her, Kahlan has never felt so alone. So.. different. She misses her father. She misses her mother, though it's getting harder and harder to remember what her mother looked like. The memories slowly fading like water held in cupped hands.

The loneliness has made Kahlan depressed, the depression has made her reckless. And Kahlan knows its only a matter of time before the Mother Confessor realizes what she's done. On more than one occasion. After Brayson, it was easier to use the ones with malicious intentions, to take what she wanted, then command them to suicide. But, there were also the innocents. The ones she didn't intend to confess only to be overwhelmed by her powers. Like the sweet farm girl currently floating facedown in the stream.

Her thoughts have brought her to leaving Aydindril, running away like her father had done. But, she doesn't know where to go, who to turn to. Her father has no friends, only enemies. There are those she and Dennee confessed but Kahlan has no idea how to find them.

So, Kahlan does the one thing she can do. She cries.

"Kahlan Amnell."

Her head snaps up to the voice calling her name, fearing the Mother Confessor has found her. But, the woman isn't the Mother Confessor, though that knowledge doesn't fill Kahlan with relief.

"Who are you?" she sniffles, rising from the rock she'd been sitting on.

"My name is Shota," she smiles. Her eyes narrow as she glances at the stream behind Kahlan and the body floating in it. "Did you do this?"

Kahlan can only nod her head, her face scrunching as the sobs wrack her chest.

Shota lifts a hand, waves it and the body bursts into flames. Kahlan steps back, quickly kneeling down to draw her daggers from her boots.

"This ends today, Kahlan," Shota warns. "You will learn self-control."

"I.." Kahlan stammers. "I don't understand. Are you.. helping me?"

Shota watches the body smolder to nothing more than cinders carried away by the stream. It's collateral damage but she admonishes herself for wasting too much time watching from the wings. Too much time letting Kahlan walk alone down a path towards ultimate darkness. "You have a destiny, Kahlan Amnell. And this is not the path to it."

Kahlan can smell it in the air. Power. Her ultimate aphrodisiac and she steps towards Shota, lowering her daggers because, in this moment, she will follow Shota anywhere if it means having a piece of what Shota can offer. "You'll teach me?"

"No," Shota chuckles, noting the sudden flush on Kahlan's cheeks, her desires blatant. So similar to another young woman. "You will return to Aydindril and finish your Confessor's training."

Kahlan's shoulders sag. "Why?" she whines.

"Because, as someone once said, 'it is a fool who prefers to speak, rather than listen'."

Kahlan freezes, her eyes widening. "You knew my mother?" she gasps.

"Yes. Now that your father's training has ended, it's time for you to begin your mother's. You will return to Aydindril. You will listen. You will learn. You will not stray from the path that leads to your destiny."

"You've said that twice now. What is my destiny?"

Shota's eyes darken, lips curling seductively. "That which you covet more than anything. Understand?"

"No. But," Kahlan says with a dawning conviction. "It's what must be done."

"Good," Shota smiles, pleased. She steps towards Kahlan. "There is one more thing. There will come a time when you will need to call upon me for assistance." She reaches into her robes, pulling out a small charm. A small rock with an iridescent blue hue, woven into threads like a bracelet. "All you need to do is hold this in the palm of your hand and think of me. But, this can only be used once, so think long and hard before you use it."

Kahlan takes the charm, already thinking of the places she could stow it. Head lifting, she squints an eye as she looks back at Shota. "Why do I have the feeling you already know when I'll call upon you?"

The chamber is empty except for Darken Rahl and Denna, who hangs over the pit, body covered in bruises.

"Lord Rahl, you summoned me?" Cara asks, strutting into the chamber.

"Sister Cara," Darken Rahl smiles. His robe is open, exposing his bare chest covered in a sheen of sweat and trousers slung seductively low, as if he were in his personal chambers about to retire to bed. He meets Cara halfway, arm slinging around her waist as he presses his lips to hers. Cara accepts the kiss, opens her mouth and Rahl slides his tongue across hers. She shivers, fighting the revulsion threatening to wrack her body, and Rahl moans thinking it's arousal. Cara tilts her head, uses the opportunity to glance at Denna. While her body responds to Lord Rahl's touch as its been trained to, the arousal doesn't reach her eyes.

"I thought," Rahl pauses, licking his lips as he steps away from Cara. "You'd like to join me. I know how much delivering pain brings you pleasure."

"What has she done?"

"Disappointed me. Again," is all Rahl offers. It's all he needs to offer. "I grow bored and thought you'd like the opportunity to entertain me with a demonstration of your skills."

"Lord Rahl flatters me," Cara bows her head. She begins circling the pit, a hand raised by her head, finger twirling a lock of hair. With the other, she reaches out, caresses the dark and purpling bruises already coloring Denna's flesh. "Do you wish for me to break her?"

"No." Darken Rahl waves a hand. He walks to the small table against the wall, fills the chalice with wine before taking a seat. "I merely wish for you to put her back in her place."

Cara traces her fingertip down Denna's spine. "As you wish, my Lord." She circles back around, steps towards Denna. Denna's eyes are defiant, angry as Cara lifts Denna's chin with two fingers then brings her lips to Denna's. "This," she says as she parts, tongue licking her lips. "Is going to hurt."

"Have you.." Denna croaks, pausing to lick her dry and cracked lips. "Come to gloat?"

It's hours later. Long after Cara worked herself to a fever pitch and Rahl did the same after taking Cara to his chambers. Denna left to hang over the pit.

Cara swaggers deeper into the room, hands clasped behind her back. She walks towards the table against the wall, setting down the small clay jar hidden in her curled fingers. "No, Denna," she says, refilling the long forgotten chalice with more wine. "I didn't come to gloat."

Denna's eyes narrow and she's glad Cara's back is turned because her look of confusion would be perceived as weakness. "Then, why have you come?"

Turning, Cara walks towards the pit, cup in hand. She places it to Denna's lips. It's wine instead of water and Denna drinks it greedily. The alcohol burns against the cuts on her lips but Denna is a Mord'Sith, she is accustomed to pain. A few hungry gulps later, Cara withdraws the cup. "I came here to repay you." Her face is blank but there's a hardness in her eyes. "For teaching me how to properly please Lord Rahl."

Denna sneers. "You are his favorite whore."

Cara snorts at the slight. She turns again, walking back to the table where she sets down the chalice, begins removing her gloves. "Darken Rahl is beginning to think you are a threat. He called you 'an opportunist in Mord'Sith clothing'."

Denna twists her head so she can see fully, not caring if her confusion is considered weakness. "Sister Cara?"

Cara doesn't answer. She walks towards the pulley on the wall, turns the metal and Denna's chains lower. Denna groans in relief as her feet touch the ground and the strain on her arms releases. And Cara is before her again, dipping two fingers into the jar of salve. "Not Sister Cara," she says, showing Denna her salve covered fingertips. "Today, my name is opportunity."

Mord'Sith are meant to endure pain, not medicate themselves against it. If found, the salve in Cara's hands would mean beatings for them both. Denna doesn't know what price Cara will ask her to pay. At the moment, she doesn't care. For a long stretch of time, there are no words as Cara slowly and thoroughly applies the salve, working upwards from Denna's bruised legs to her bleeding face, and Denna moans as if in pleasure. Then, pressing her body flush against Denna's, one hand wrapping around Denna's waist, Cara's salve-covered fingers enter Denna and it is pleasure.

"I thought.." Denna pants, ignoring the pain in her arms as she lifts both legs, draping them over Cara's hips, ankles hooking together. "You were pulling your punches."

Cara smiles. "And still, you screamed as if in ultimate agony."

Free hand fisting in Denna's hair, Cara possesses, dominates Denna's mouth, battering Denna's tongue into submission as she thrusts and pumps her fingers into Denna. The student who has surpassed the teacher.

"What.." Denna pants. "Do you want from me?"

Cara tightens her grip on Denna's hair, flicks her tongue over the opened lips. "Your allegiance."

"To Lord Rahl?"

Green eyes narrow as pink lips curl into a feral grin. "To me."

"Sister Cara," Denna husks. "I didn't think you had it in you."

"Is that a yes?"

Denna has always known who and what she was and, she thinks, Lord Rahl is right. She is an opportunist in Mord'Sith clothing. And Denna has never been one to turn her back on opportunity. "Yes."

The deal is sealed as Mord'Sith do - with pleasure and pain, and the walls of the pit echo with Denna's screams once more.

Kahlan is unimpressed with the wizard named Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander. A Wizard of the First Order. Who hides away in his cabin in the woods, pretending to be a crazy old man who talks to chickens, rather than train the Seeker for a war the old man knows, down deep in his bones, is coming.

Zedd's refusal to tell Richard his destiny, to properly train him so Richard can 'get a little dirt under his fingernails', as if he were a little boy still needing to be coddled instead of a grown man, it has cost the world dearly. It has cost Kahlan personally. For that, she will neither forget nor forgive.

She is even less impressed when Zedd names the farm boy, Richard Cypher, the one true Seeker. While kindhearted, Richard is woefully naïve. There's also something else. Something the wizard doesn't see, or refuses to see. There's a darkness in Richard. He is sweet and kind, but he is also quick tempered, eager to settle with sword before words. And his gaze, when he thinks Kahlan is not looking, he looks at her like she's nothing more than a simple farm girl ripe for conquest, and he's the conqueror.

Kahlan is unimpressed with them both, and begins to wonder why she should defer to a farm boy from Hartland rather than be the general who should lead.

"Kahlan, please.." Richard pants breathlessly into her ear.

It's only been a month and Kahlan has tired of both Zedd and Richard. She's tired of Zedd and his constant natterings, incessantly telling her of her role as Confessor, the binds that tie Confessor and Seeker together, destiny and love. As if the story has already been written. As if Kahlan doesn't have a choice in how it will end.

Richard's worse. He doesn't really buy into Zedd's words, he doesn't believe in destiny. Zedd's words are merely an excuse. And Kahlan has grown tired of his constant begging, pleading, and whining, becoming more emboldened the longer the three travel together. Because Richard, regardless of which one he's wielding, thinks only with his sword.

So Kahlan gives Richard this, just this, her hand down his trousers, wrapped around his manhood. Back to a tree, Richard's pressed against her, his lips to her ear. Because, even though she gives him 'this', it's still not enough for Richard.

"I want more than your hand around me. I want to be inside you," he breathes into her ear as he rolls his hips. "I know you want it to."

"Richard," Kahlan sighs in irritation. "You know I can't." Which is a lie. She'd learned years ago the ways to get around her powers when coupling. Kahlan just doesn't want to. She finds the idea of giving herself to him beneath her.

"It doesn't have to be the entire time," he pleads gently. "Just a little bit. I'll pull out. I promise."

It takes everything within her to stifle the laugh. She's heard words like these many times before, from sweeter tongues than Richard Cypher's. "We both know that's not true."

"It is," he insists. His fingers drift to the sides of Kahlan's thighs, curling up and down, pulling up Kahlan's skirt. "I promise. Just one second.. a minute, I mean. I won't even move."

"Richard," she growls softly, feeling the night air on her knees, Richard's hand already moving to the inside of her bared thigh. The hard pulse of his erection in her hand because he's already thinking of being inside her. "Stop."

"You know you want it," he husks lowly, fingers already pulling at the waistband of her under things. "No one has to know."

There is no misinterpreting Kahlan's low and feral growl. She squeezes Richard's manhood like she's holding a dagger and about to pierce bone, then squeezes even more and twists. Richard's too shocked to scream, already doubling over in pain. Kahlan reaches up with her other hand, grabs him by the throat, twisting the two around and slams Richard against the tree.

"Listen, farm boy!" It's not magic that consumes her, but rage. She doesn't need her gift to subdue Richard. She pushes her face close to his, her eyes cold as ice. "Do not ever think you can take what I do not freely give. You might be the Seeker but you are not that special." She shoves him as she pushes herself away. "And you can always be replaced."

Kahlan doesn't know what to do. She has completed her Confessor's training. Done everything that's been asked of her. Became the woman they wanted her to be, expected her to be. She put her faith in the Confessor's and, yet, Kahlan finds her faith wavering. Because they told her to always trust in 'him', the Seeker, only Kahlan knows..

Richard is wrong. And like a fool blinded by faith, Kahlan forced herself to believe he was right.

She sits on a large boulder, alone in the forest, staring at the charm she's kept with her for years. Kahlan doesn't know what to do and she wonders if now is the right time, knowing she really doesn't have a choice. Shota is the only one who can answer the question Kahlan desperately needs to ask.

Clenching the charm tightly in her fist, Kahlan closes her eyes and thinks one name. The air stills, the birds and leaves quiet.

"Kahlan Amnell."

Kahlan opens her eyes, almost smiling in relief as Shota stands before her. Kahlan slides off the boulder, standing on her feet. "Shota," she nods respectfully. "You see the future, right?"

"I see the many possible paths and their equal outcomes."

"And what will happen if Dennee's child reaches adulthood?"

Shota's brown eyes darken as her face turns stony. "You used your charm to ask me a question you already know the answer to?"

Shoulders sagging, Kahlan lowers her head, crestfallen. "I wanted to believe it was the right thing."

"So have many before you, to their own ruination."

"Can't something be done?"

"There is only one thing to be done. And you already know what it is."

"Dennee's child must die." Kahlan closes her eyes, inhales deeply. She has her beliefs but she knows to believe blindly is to be a fool. Kahlan resolves to not let herself be fooled again. They are at war and, sometimes, great sacrifices have to be made. Her father taught her that. As much as Kahlan loves her sister, she knows it was wrong to let Dennee's child live.

"Kahlan?" Shota asks, stirring Kahlan from her thoughts.

Kahlan opens her eyes. "I need to ask you for something." Jaw clenching, she sets her resolve. This is what leaders do, this is what generals do, make the hard decisions. That decision had been before Richard and he'd failed, dooming the world by choosing blind faith over hard fact. This time, Kahlan would not be so naïve in her beliefs. "I need you to find me a mercenary. Someone ruthless, without morals, who will not pause when it comes to the killing of a child. I would do what needs to be done but Richard's faith in me is already strained and I need to remain by his side to make sure what needs to be done in the future gets done. Can you.. do this for me?"

Shota circles, stops until she is shoulder to shoulder with Kahlan, the two facing opposite directions. "I will do this on one condition," Shota turns her face towards Kahlan's. "You must be the one to convince this mercenary to take your cause."

"I.." Kahlan stammers.

"North of Agaden Reach," Shota ignores her. A mist begins to rise from the forest floor, seemingly from nowhere. Shota begins to walk away. "On a hill overlooking the valley sits ancient ruins. Be there in a fortnight and you will have your mercenary."

For the first time in a very long time, Cara Mason sleeps alone. She has finally earned the position she's sought - Lord Rahl's favorite. The position has allotted her quarters of her own, quarters almost as immaculate as the Lord Rahl's himself, plush carpets, large and high windows overlooking the city, and, most importantly, a large, four-poster bed, often filled with recruits seeking favor, willing to do anything and everything she commands.

It is a good life for a Mord'Sith, if Cara were the type to want for such trivial things. Cara does not. She wants one and one thing only, the feel of Darken Rahl's heart in her hand as she squeezes. The thought has begun to plague her ever since that night in the brothel, when the sorceress reminded Cara of her promise.

Cara plans and waits and bides her time, time that always seems out of reach. And her desire to kill Darken Rahl has reached a boiling point, bordering on obsession.

It is early morning, and Cara has yet to rise. She turns her head, refusing to awaken to the sound of recruits, like the morning song of birds and crickets, in the training yard, working on formations, or the screams of the recruits down below being broken. She is the Lord Rahl's favorite and, today, Cara wishes to sleep in.

The creak of a floorboard, Cara's eyes snap open and she's off the bed like a streak of lightening, Agiel in hand. Blonde hair, red leathers, the face is a blur as Cara's fist connects with the Sister who dared enter Cara's room uninvited.

The woman instantly doubles over, dropping to hands and knees and Cara sneers at a Mord'Sith so weak as to fall from a single punch. Hand whipping out, Cara grabs the woman by the top of her braid, yanks the head back.. and gasps in surprise.

"Denna?" she says in disbelief, at the sudden precariousness of her position. By orders of Lord Rahl, Denna is to be killed on sight for failing Lord Rahl after she lost the Boxes of Orden. If they are caught together, Cara knows she will no longer be Lord Rahl's favorite. Growling, she tightens her grip, pulling Denna's neck back further. "What are you doing here?"

For the first time, Cara notices how dirty and disheveled Denna looks. Her braid is too loose, like she hasn't combed it in days. Her leathers are dust covered, torn in spots. There's a wild, frantic look in her eyes. Fear. It radiates off Denna.

"Denna?" Cara growls again.

"You asked for my allegiance once," Denna pants, regaining some semblance of composure. "This is me, proving myself to you."

Denna has sworn her allegiance to Cara, it doesn't mean Cara actually trusts her. Denna's tongue is forked and the moment the opportunity arises, Cara knows Denna would swear her allegiance to another if it meant her own gain. "How?" Cara asks.

"By delivering a message."

"A message from who?"

"I don't know." Denna shakes her head despite the hand tightly holding it. "I was running for my life and a sorceress appeared before me. She said I was to find you. Tell you," Denna pauses, remembering the words. "If you wish to fulfill your promise, go to the ancient ruins north of Agaden Reach. Where you will receive an offer you can't refuse."

It's been two days since Cara arrived at the ancient ruins, nothing more than toppled stones covered in moss. At first, it's a welcomed respite, a time away from the People's Palace, Lord Rahl and his obsession with finding the Boxes of Order and destroying the Seeker. It's a welcome respite from sharing his bed, something considered an honor amongst her Sister's. Cara thinks of it as another form of torture. It takes everything within her these days to keep her thoughts from reflecting in her eyes. To keep her fingers from twitching, thinking of how they'd feel wrapped around Rahl's neck.

But, time in the ancient ruins has stretched too long and Cara's beginning to feel as if she's been duped. By Denna. The sorceress. Perhaps both. It has been a welcome respite but Cara knows, to come home empty handed would be to raise Rahl's suspicions. And she's come too close to fail now.

She reenters the forest, going on another perimeter check to ease her boredom, thinking of the ways she's going to torture Denna for lying to her. How she's going to trap the sorceress and torture her. Possibly torture Denna and the sorceress together.

She stops in her tracks at the sound of hooves coming closer, squats down in the bushes, hand around the hilt of her Agiel. A flash of white and Cara's lips curl into a feral grin, knowing she hasn't been betrayed at all.

But, given a gift.

Kahlan slows her horse at the edge of the ancient ruins. She dismounts and walks around the old stones. There are signs of a camp, the ashes of a campfire, an indentation from a bedroll. Kahlan begins to wonder if she's missed this window of opportunity when every single hair on the back of her neck suddenly stands on edge, a tiny voice in the back of her brain screaming for her to duck.

She ducks down, just in time to avoid something swinging for her head. Hands yanking the daggers from her boots, Kahlan spins on her feet towards her attacker. Towards..

A Mord'Sith.

There's no time for thoughts of Shota's betrayal, or why. Kahlan is immediately on the defensive, blocking the hard swings of the Agiel hissing towards her. The look on the Mord'Sith's face is an animalistic glee. Kahlan doesn't have time to be afraid, she's too busy fighting for her life.

They dance around the ruins. There are punches and kicks, fists and elbows. The stab of an Agiel, the slice of a Confessor's dagger. Mid-morning turns to afternoon, neither advancing, neither willing to retreat because, they both know, retreating would mean their own death.

Kahlan's muscles scream, her robes are soaked with sweat, her hair sticks wetly to her scalp. And she is angry. Angry at this Mord'Sith who will not yield. Angry at Shota for leading Kahlan into a trap. Angry at herself for putting her faith in another who's betrayed her. She has no other thoughts other than to defend herself, try to find an advantage.

Then, a thought hits her. A memory of she and her father on a hill such as this one, overlooking a village as the Mord'Sith raze it to the ground. She realizes, in that moment, why she can gain no ground. She's been fighting like a Confessor. If she wants to win, she needs to do what this Mord'Sith does not expect..

Kahlan needs to fight like a Mord'Sith.

It's a move the Mord'Sith doesn't expect, a cheap shot, because Confessor's don't use cheap shots. It's to the groin, misses by a few inches and strikes the Mord'Sith on the inner thigh. But, it's effective, stuns the Mord'Sith for a fraction of a second and a fraction of a second is all Kahlan needs.

She strikes with a fist to the jaw, quickly follows with a backhand. Again and again and again. The Mord'Sith's head whips back and forth. Her eyes glaze. The Agiel falls from her hand and Kahlan kicks it away.

Kahlan strikes again. Her fingers clasp around the Mord'Sith's throat as her magic surges and she slams the woman against a tree. There's a rush, thick and heady, but it's not Kahlan's gift causing her stomach to clench and her muscles to thrum. Kahlan realizes Shota hasn't betrayed her.

She's given Kahlan a gift.

There isn't a general alive who wouldn't want the Mord'Sith at their command.

She pulls back her magic, the Mord'Sith coughing and sputtering as Kahlan's mouth goes slack at the feel, at the idea of what's beneath her fingers.


She yanks the woman towards her then slams her, once again, against the tree, then presses her body flush against the Mord'Sith's.

"Who's in charge?" she growls and when the woman doesn't answer, Kahlan tightens her grip and slams her hard against the tree again. "I said, who's in charge?"

The Mord'Sith opens her eyes, glares back at Kahlan with angry defiance. "You are," she spits.

"Yes," Kahlan taunts. "I am. And do you know why you're here? At the ancient ruins just north of Agaden Reach?"

The Mord'Sith stiffens, her eyes twitching and Kahlan lets loose a little of her magic, just to remind the Mord'Sith who's in charge. "What's your name?" she asks.


"Cara," Kahlan says the word like she's tasting it. "I'm here to ask for your assistance." She watches Cara's face twitch minutely, seeing the wheels turn in Cara's mind. "A Confessor has given birth to a male child, has refused to perform the Ritual of Water, choosing to raise the child instead. I'm sure you know what the stakes are if that child continues to live."

Head tilting, Cara stares back at Kahlan. The information she's received would bring her even more favor with Lord Rahl. "You play.. a dangerous game, Confessor."

"Those in charge typically do."

"What makes you think I'd be in league with a Confessor?"

"At the moment, you don't have a choice. Refuse my offer and I will find another Mord'Sith," Kahlan pauses, raising an eyebrow. "Like I found you."

"And if I accept?"

"I will give you the location of the Confessor's child but on one condition."

Cara's eyes narrow as she realizes the battle is not quite lost. Confessor's aren't known for duplicity and Cara finds the Confessor's domination both intriguing and intoxicating. Cara realizes the battle is not quite lost. Notes the rising flush on the Confessor's cheeks, a flush not created by the rush of battle. The dilation of blue eyes, the increasing heartbeat Cara can feel against her own chest. The Confessor may be a talented warrior but this, seduction, is the realm where Cara is the better. And Cara shifts, pressing her thigh against the apex of the Confessor's thighs. "Which is?"

Leather creaks as Cara gives a slight roll of her hips and Kahlan can't help her mouth from going slack at the sudden hard pulse between her legs. "Swear your allegiance to me."

For a moment, Cara thinks about resisting. The hand on her throat isn't as tight as it used to be. The pain in her body has receded. She calculates what she would need to do to subdue the Confessor. How her elevated station would increase by bringing the woman to Lord Rahl, along with the information she's received. But, Cara's not quite the loyal Mord'Sith she used to be. "You're," she pauses, the corners of her lips barely curving into a smile. "Kahlan Amnell."


"Then, I will accept your offer," Cara arches her neck, leaning into Kahlan's fingers. "On one condition."

"Which is?" Kahlan's eyes no longer stare at Cara's but focus on Cara's lips.

"The death of Darken Rahl.." Cara runs her tongue over her lips, already in anticipation of sealing the deal. "Shall be at my hands."

The shudder running down Kahlan's spine is achingly similar to one of release, and Kahlan can't help but groan at the sensation. All the ones before have been leading her to this, to her. The perfect soldier and, now, she's all Kahlan's.

"Agreed." Kahlan doesn't give Cara the opportunity to respond. She pounces, clamping her mouth onto Cara's. Teeth clacking, split lips against split lips, dueling tongues, the taste of spit and blood. Kahlan keeps her hand around Cara's throat, because she likes the way it feels, she likes how Cara acquiesces to her touch.

It's her other hand that makes her growl into Cara's mouth. She drifts it down and everything's leather and buckles and laces. Unfamiliar with the Mord'Sith's uniform and her fingers are nothing but clumsy fumbling. Then, her fingers find purchase, the right laces loosen and Kahlan and Cara are purring and growling into each other's mouths as Kahlan's fingers finally slip between leather and skin.

Three fingers, pushed hard, pushed deep and Cara cries out. Kahlan shudders. Their rhythm chaotic, hurried and frantic. Kahlan's fingers, Cara's thigh. Cara fights release but she knows there are some battles that can't be won. She keens, bucking and writhing before the paroxysm seizes her throat.

It's the most erotic thing Kahlan has ever seen, that she's ever felt. Because Cara's keening, bucking, clenching. There's Cara's thigh. Even with the barrier of her robes, her slacks, Cara's leathers, Kahlan can feel every twitch of Cara's muscle against her. The rush returns and Kahlan knows, this time, she won't be able to contain her magic.

"Don't move," she pants in warning, clenching her eyes already swirling with black closed. Quickly, Kahlan withdraws her hand, Cara hissing at the sudden loss. Kahlan plants both her hands on the tree, nails digging into the bark. Cara lifts her thigh just a little more. Kahlan juts her hips, harder, faster and it's almost painful because Kahlan's never quite wanted release as much as she does now.

It does happen, quick and hard like its taken Kahlan by surprise and all she can do is hold on, nails digging into the tree, as everything within her seems to explode.

Cara knows one of two things will happen, either Kahlan's magic will kill her or it won't. But, she's certain no Mord'Sith has ever been where she is - bringing a Confessor to release. If she survives, it will make her the greatest Mord'Sith in history.. if she survives.

Kahlan throws her head back as her body bucks and writhes, spasming against Cara. Cara can feel the magic, buffeting around her like the gale force winds of a storm. The sensation stings and burns but Cara's used to the pain, and it's nothing compared to the feel when Kahlan's fingers were wrapped around Cara's throat.

Spent, her magic ebbing, Kahlan crumbles. Cara catches her, lowers Kahlan to the forest floor. She pushes up Kahlan's skirt until its bunched above her thighs, gloved fingers pulling down the clothing underneath as Cara slides down onto her stomach. She is not the Mord'Sith she used to be, but she is still a woman of honor. Mostly. She gave Kahlan her word in this dangerous game of theirs. A game as dangerous as pleasuring a Confessor and bringing her to release. Which is all Cara thinks about as she lowers her lips to Kahlan's flesh. She will either meet the Keeper or return to Lord Rahl, either way, it will be with a Confessor's taste on her tongue.

For the rest of the world, it's been several weeks. For Shota, who stands inside the Palace of the Prophets, it's only been a few hours. Quietly, patiently, she's been standing inside the room where prophecies are born.

Shota sees the paths leading to the future. Long, winding roads, crossing and tangling like silk on a spider web. Some are thicker. Some are thinner. Some are meant to be. Some are only illusions of what could be. There are also the paths, Shota knows, that have to be created. For a long time, Shota has seen the paths and watched as those in power strode them, bringing the world closer and closer to ruination.

She also saw two paths, one with a Confessor, the other a Mord'Sith. And she saw what would happen if those two paths converged. If. She also saw a Wizard, a Seeker, a Lord Rahl. The ways they directly and indirectly kept those two paths from connecting. Until Shota became no longer content with just watching the paths, attempting to influence those who walked upon them, knowing they would never listen.

She started creating paths of her own.

The air thickens, the hundreds of candles within the room flicker and dance and, on the far side of the wall where the blank canvas hangs, words begin to form. A path is revealed.

Lips curling into a smile as she reads the text, Shota turns to leave the Palace of the Prophets and return to where she's needed.

It's a good day to be a Mord'Sith. It's a better day for Cara Mason. Sending 24 Mord'Sith for one Confessor and one child is, even for the Mord'Sith, overkill. But, they arrive and find more than just one Confessor but the struggling remains of the entire Confessor line. Whether Kahlan knew this when she order Cara to Valeria, Cara does not know. She just respects her new Mistress a little more by assuming Kahlan did.

It's a surprise attack, over as quickly as it begun. All are dead except for one. Cara gives chase after the Confessor who faked death then ran at the first opportunity.

This is what she was trained for. This is who she is and she grins as her body moves in perfect symphony, giving chase to her prey. She grins at the idea of the reward her new Mistress will give her for performing her duties so efficiently and perfectly.

The chase ends with the skid of Confessor boots before the edge of a high cliff. The woman spins around, battered and bleeding, her eyes still defiant though the battle has been lost.

Cara slows to a halt, brandishing her Agiel menacingly. She narrows her eyes, examining the woman because there's something 'familiar' about her, like Cara should know her somehow. The thought is lost with the insistence of duty. Familiar or not, Cara has a task and she will complete it.

"It's over Confessor," she says. "Your husband and child are dead. The only thing left is for you to reunite with them in the Underworld."

"Maybe," Dennee says, straightening her shoulders and lifting her head defiantly, a Confessor to the end. "But, it won't be by your hand."

With that, Dennee turns and flings herself over the cliff's edge.

Cara rushes towards the edge, peers down to see nothing but jagged rocks and crushing surf. Confessor's are strong but Cara's knows even a Confessor couldn't survive the fall.

Today, Kahlan knows, is a good day. They have retrieved the Book of Shadows from the librarian named Livia and a painter named James. With the book, and when the Boxes of Orden are retrieved, they will use them to finally defeat Darken Rahl. And Kahlan..

She doesn't know what she'll do.

She steals herself away from Richard and Zedd, finds a quiet spot in the woods next to a gurgling stream. She has no idea what she'll do but she's grown tired of listening to both Richard and Zedd's plans for her.

Richard has already begun thinking of the empire awaiting him as Lord Rahl, with Kahlan at his side as his wife. Zedd talks of marriage and babies as if Kahlan's duties as Confessor are inconsequential to being Richard's brooding mare. It irritates and it angers and, though Kahlan doesn't know what she'll do after Darken Rahl's defeated, she knows that this time..

She is not alone.

There is Shota, the sorceress. Kahlan wonders how to contact the woman now that she's used her charm. Though she's knows she'll see Shota again and, when she does, Kahlan will use the opportunity to discuss her destiny in a little more detail. Kahlan's seen Shota's animosity towards Zedd and she's pretty certain Shota would not have intervened if Kahlan's destiny was to end as nothing more than the Seeker's mate.

There is also the Mord'Sith to consider. Kahlan's Mord'Sith. The mere thought of Cara sends a sudden shiver down Kahlan's spine. As much as she wants to see Shota, she wants to see Cara more. It's more than the visceral thrill of having a Mord'Sith at her command. If the wizard wants to prattle on about destiny and fate, Kahlan knows hers lies more with the Mord'Sith at her command than the Seeker she's supposed to stand behind, as opposed to beside or in front.

It is a good day. The sun shines warmly, the stream by her gurgles pleasantly and Kahlan lays down, tucking a hand behind her head to enjoy the moment. She doesn't know what she'll do but, with a sorceress at her beckon call, a Mord'Sith at her command, Kahlan knows, whatever path lies before her..

The path will be of Kahlan's choosing and it will not be undone.

The End

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