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Title: Kings and Queens (17/?)
Author: Amanda (aka seven_3_oh)
Pairing(s): Cara/Kahlan; Berdine/Raina
Fandom: legend of the seeker
Rating: NC-17, T, M, ADULT
Word Count: 6,150
Disclaimer: "Legend of the Seeker", its characters, and the situations depicted on the show are the property of ABC Studios, Disney, et all, as well as Terry Goodkind. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
Summary: set a decade after the end of Season Two. Where in a WHOLE lotta change has befallen our merry band of heros.
A/N: after much internal debate with myself, i decided to post this 'segment' separate from the other scenes coming. because well. i like to give a moment of quiet before the storm. and, i think it will flow better. and damnit i am a sucker for making my cub happy, so fosforito4 , honey, this is - as it all is- for you. You know, just so we are clear? I love you so hard.
oh! and thank you honey for being the most patient beta reader of all time - READERS: I added to each scene since it was beta'd so all mistakes are mine. thank you. Happy Solstice!
"Have you seen Berdine, privately?" Cara asked as they walked away from Berdine’s private chamber door, through which Raina had just slipped. Having escorted her, they were, by unspoken agreement walking to the servant’s staircase, to make their way back to Kahlan’s chambers.
"Not... no. Not since you returned." Kahlan said softly.
"Let me rephrase that. Have you been with her alone, but not naked?"
Kahlan laughed. "Yes, of course. Why?"
Cara’s eyes in the half dark narrowed.
"You don’t need to be jealous…not now." Kahlan offered.
"I'm... not. Not truly. I am just concerned. She is up to something."
A loud crash echoed through the darken corridor, coming from Berdine’s chambers. Kahlan looked to Cara, seeing her smirk.
“We should perhaps inform the servants to ignore any odd noises they hear this evening.”
“Is that so?” Kahlan chuckled.
“Mmhm. Mord-Sith, when they pair off to engage in activities of a carnal nature, tend to… shock those within range of hearing.” Cara smiled fully.
“Well… suddenly I am a touch jealous.”
Kahlan purred, “That I am not Mord-Sith.”
“No need, Mother Confessor. You have… an additional set of skills as well as a very formidable passion inside of you. You can, I am sure best any and all Mord-Sith who would have the pleasure of your affections.”
She gripped her hand tightly. “That will only be you, Cara.” She watched as Cara’s eyes widened slightly, before she stood with a touch more pride in her shoulders. “Best any Mord-Sith? Even you?”
“Well that would be perhaps stretching the truth.” Cara chuckled. “Do not attempt to distract me by licking your lips, Mother Confessor.” Cara chided, and began walking along the corridor again, and with her own smirk in place, Kahlan walked with her. “There is too much clouded, and too much we do not know, for us to just assume we can trust Berdine, or Raina.”
"I think her actions speak louder than anything else Cara. Berdine had been anxious for Raina to return for some time. Now we know why, Cara. There has been this… new Mistress who has some sway over the both of them. Add into that, Berdine’s real fear for Raina being with Richard."
"Why?" Cara asked.
"He does not know she is Mord-Sith."
Cara barked a short laugh. “Of course he would not know.” She put her hand on Kahlan’s, and brought it to rest on the inside of her own arm. Kahlan smiled, and felt the faint blush rising in her cheeks. Cara had moved instinctually, taking her hand. It had been longer than Kahlan’s memory, if it had ever happened at all. “While I like to believe that I know Berdine, and I know Raina, and that they are bound more by honor than the magical bond to their Lord, or in this case, Lady Rahl. That said. There is more to it than that. It would have to be more for either of them to separate and do these things.”
“It is not more complex Cara. It could be startlingly simple.”
“Meaning?” Cara asked her.
“From what I know of those possessing the Rahl blood they understand how to manipulate people using their emotional weaknesses. The same for their Mord-Sith.” Kahlan said softly, and even in the shadows of the narrow stairwell as they walked side by side she could see Cara’s eyes wince. “Case in point; how would you, Mistress Cara, control those two?”
“Threaten them with the pain or true death of the other.”
“And motivating.” Cara sighed. “We do not know what this Mela Rahl’s objective it. They are both now close to you, and that… worries me.” Cara maintained, as they stopped walking as they came to the narrow door that led back into the corridor that would be filled with guards, and would take them to her rooms. Cara searched her face for a moment before continuing. “I... I will not order you, as it is not my right or place. But I would suggest? Be mindful."
"Will you?" Kahlan asked her eyes just as firm as Cara’s.
"Will I what?"
Cara’s eyes shot to the right side. "I..."
"Say yes." Kahlan entreated.
Cara’s eyes narrowed.
Kahlan leaned closer, putting her lips just beside Cara’s ear and whispered, “Say yes.”
Kahlan smiled, as she leaned closer and kissed Cara’s lips softly. The Mord-Sith had other ideas, and her arms seemed to be around Kahlan, pulling their bodies closer together as her lips pressed back firmly, with explicit intentions. Those same intentions Kahlan reciprocated, as their mouths moved hungrily together, and she seemed to melt into Cara as the tip of her tongue flicked at her upper lip. Before their kiss could deepen, Kahlan leaned away, her hand coming to brush lightly along Cara’s cheek bone, and in the quiet of the moment she felt complete comfort. Being this close to Cara, looking into her eyes, the turbulence of events around them lessened some. Within the comfort there was something more; a warm safety that was becoming far too reassuring for Kahlan to completely ignore. Cara’s eyes seemed to widen and glisten, or perhaps it was merely an illusion caused be the flickering flames of the torches that lined the narrow stairwell.
Kahlan released a tight sigh from her chest.
“Come.” Cara said, and opened the small door for them both.
In silence they walked down the large and brightly lit corridor. Kahlan noticed the rapid movements of servants around them, and knew that below in the heart of the Palace there was an evening feast being prepared, one that she had already decided that she was not going to preside over. The requirements of her position as Mother Confessor had taken enough of her time as of late, and she needed one night to rest. To just be Kahlan Amnell, if she could find herself again. She turned to smile at Cara, knowing that if anyone could help her find herself again, it was Cara. Knowing that this enigma of a woman would and could bring out the very best in Kahlan.
She nodded to the two guards, in their black tunics, diamonds embroidered across their chests, as they opened the large door to her chamber for them. Kahlan’s knuckled brushed against Cara’s as they walked through, and the smell of lavender and other herbs greeted her senses once inside.
Kahlan’s brow lifted in questioning as she felt Cara’s gloved fingers entwine with her own, and the Mord-Sith guided her slowly into the bed chamber.
"What’s this?" Kahlan asked, as Cara released their hands, and Kahlan walked closer to the copper tub that sat full of steaming water and oils before the high flames of the fire.
"It appears to be a bath. Drawn for you."
"I see." Kahlan said walking around the copper tub, her fingers moving over the very hot water. She looked up at Cara, her brows raised in questioning.
"We all need... pampering sometimes. You more than others."
"Just me?" Kahlan asked feeling the hints of shyness at the corner of her eyes.
"Tonight? Just you. Let me?"
"Mord-Sith are trained in various arts, and possess innumerable skills."
Half of her braid had come undone as they moved from wall to the now shattered table to the bed, and wisps of it were tickling at the back of her neck, as the frigid night wind made its way through the knocked open window. It was a grounding touch, in a way, keeping Berdine in the moment. Her mind would not let her get lost in all of the darkness that was in her mind. She was here; her hands were holding Raina’s naked hips as her tongue moved in a constant lapping motion, moving up through the brunette’s wet and swelling folds, to flick against the hardening clit. Not that her mind could have drifted too far into itself, as her mate’s voice was filling the small stone chamber around them.
"If I learned....Oh Spirits, yes, right there...if I learned,” Raina panted, her thighs on Berdine’s shoulder tightening wonderfully as her center quivered beneath the lapping of her tongue. “… anything from Richard, it is to live off the land...Berdine...oh...yes, yes... mmm,” Hungrily Berdine sucked her hard clit into her mouth, as her bottom lip continued to brush against her dripping opening. “Please...I ... oh we...we can...live. We can if you’re with....me,” the chatter from her lover meant she was nervous, and to quiet her, Berdine forced her tongue deep inside, swallowing down the sweetest liquid that filled her mouth. “Sweet Creator your tongue!"
Berdine slipped up Raina’s body, licking as she went. “Living off the land?” Berdine purred, already missing the warm wetness between Raina’s legs, as she licked her lips, relishing the flavor of her again. “This is what you think of when I am…” She engulfed the hard nipple below her lips, suckling it deeply into her mouth, her eyes still watching the deepening flush that was coloring Raina’s cheeks.
"We will be safe...I swear it to you...we can, if." Raina moaned under the firm pinch of her nipples before the pain receded and was replaced by the chilled wetness of her own essence being painted over them. Her back arched hard as Berdine’s tongue hungrily flicking against first the right then the left nipple, before lips sucked them hard and deeply. As her mouth issued moans against Raina's skin, her fingers caressed down her body, cupping her tender flesh before fingers moved gently, exploring her folds, discovering the wetness that was seemingly pouring from her. Raina whimpered her name, as she moved her mouth to her left nipple, and her fingers, circled her clit, as her thumb rubbed with increasing pressure. Raina’s hips bucked off the bed as Berdine slid her fingers back inside of her, moving them deeper before receding, and her inner walls clamped down hard around those finger as Berdine whispered, "I need you. I missed you.”
“As I missed you. I don’t….mm, harder…Spirits I missed the feeling of you inside me… I don’t want to miss you again… we could go away. You and I, Berdine.”
Berdine slipped her two fingers wet with what Raina was offering into the brunette’s mouth. She moaned as Raina suckled deeply of her fingers, and as her words and wishes were silenced. Her teeth nipped lightly along Raina's neck, as she licked Berdine's fingers in her mouth. The small chamber filled with the moans that erupted from both of their chests. She moved over her, on all fours, and as her mouth lowered itself down, to pressed open kisses against Raina's neck, the brunette’s hands grasped at her hips, holding. Either holding her close or holding on to her, as Berdine started her thrusts anew, reaching deeper inside , moving their bodies, and the bed. Raina's strong fingers held on, her hips rolling in perfect synchronicity, with the increasing thrusts.
Raina released Berdine's fingers from her mouth. "Berdine." Raina groaned as her hips thrust up to greet Berdine, pulling her deeper.
It had only been a day, if that since Raina had been laying beneath her, but as Berdine was thrusting, as she looked down into Raina’s deep brown eyes, with every breath and touch she knew this was different. That there was something more here between them, moving through one and into the other and it broke her heart. Knowing this feeling again, after convincing herself that it had been lost.
Tears dripped from her nose to land on Raina's cheek, as their movements slowed but did not still. Merely slowed and deepened. Gently she felt Raina's legs wrap around her, heels pressing into the back of her thighs, as a gentle hand brushed her cheek, as warm and deep brown eyes seemed to darken as Berdine lost herself looking into them.
"Berdine I love you."
She pressed her fingers deeper into Raina, and her mouth opened as she moaned. Berdine pressed their foreheads together as she increased the speed of her thrusting, as she lost all sense of time and of reality; truly there was only Raina, only her eyes, only her scent, only her being.
“And that will do what?” Kahlan asked, sniffing the scent coming from the small clay pot in Cara’s hand.
“Darken your hair.” Cara replied. “Relax, Mother Confessor.” She purred moving behind her.
Kahlan tried to relax. The water was almost too warm, and it reached deeply into all of her muscles. She willed her mind to stop humming with thoughts, to allow herself to be free and feel.
“Cara.” Kahlan moaned as Cara massaged the oils and herbs firmly into her hair and scalp. She could not help but lick her lips as she leaned further back into the water, breasts floating, nipples breaking the surface of the water, aching almost painfully, begging to be touched.
Cara seemed to hum behind her, as her fingers worked firmly in her hair, and along her scalp.
Kahlan groaned when the touch left, and her eye lids slowly opened, to watch as Cara moved to stand beside her, hands moving through the water, washing the concoction from her skin. The water lapped at the loose leather ties at her wrists, before Cara stood taller, her eyes seeming to caress Kahlan’s skin. As aquamarine eyes moved across her chest, Kahlan could almost feel them; could almost feel the pinch of her nipples. They tightened more in longing. Slowly her tongue moved across her bottom lip.
“Not long now.” Cara said softly. “Now, let me see about….” Her voice whispered, before she pulled back the leather on her left wrist, and bent over Kahlan. She watched her with curiosity and desperation, until realization slammed into the back of her skull, and warm smooth skin was pressed to her lips.
Kahlan’s eyes questioned Cara, who merely nodded and pressed her wrist more firmly to Kahlan’s mouth. Her tongue licked at the warm skin, tasting the earthy remnants of oils and crushed herbs, and beneath it flesh. She felt her thigh muscles tighten and toes curl as her teeth elongated, and she used them to lightly fracture Cara’s flesh. Moaning, her hands coming up from the water to hold Cara’s arm she swallowed the intoxicating sweetness of her blood. It filled her with heady bliss, as it rolled warm and powerfully down the back of her throat, as her body seemed to burn from the inside out. Just a taste and it made her desire, which was already steaming like the water she sat in completely boil. Panting Kahlan pulled her mouth away, and her eyes looked up at Cara. She wondered if they reflected the desperation she felt.
“Come here.” Kahlan said.
“In here.” Kahlan stressed. “Let me… feel your skin; wet and warm.”
“Oh it is certainly both of those already.” Cara moaned slightly, as she lifted her wrist to her own mouth, and her tongue flicked across the lightly bleeding puncture wounds.
“Spirits.” Kahlan’s hands moved to the edge of the copper tub, fingers trying to crush the metal, seeing Cara’s tongue coated in her own blood. “Are you going to make me beg?”
Cara smirked slightly. “I had considered it.”
“Please Cara…” Kahlan’s lids lowered slightly, “Please Mistress Cara.”
It seemed that both words and the tone of her voice made Cara’s knees weaken significantly. She set her hands atop Kahlan’s on the edge of the tub, her eyes looking deeply into hers. “Say it…again.”
“Mistress.” Kahlan said, watching as Cara’s eyes closed for a moment, and then frowned when Cara stood and moved behind her. Kahlan was about to protest, when she felt a hand on her head, another on her shoulders, as Cara pressed softly. Urging her down.
Not what she had in mind, still, she obeyed and slipped completely beneath the water, and held her breath as fingers moved through her hair. As Kahlan slowly emerged, and took a deep breath she felt firm hands on her shoulders, and not caring about her leathers, Cara leaned down to kiss Kahlan’s lips from behind, and her hands moved over her collar bones, down her silken chest, to caress her breast as their lips met, and Cara slipped her tongue hungrily into Kahlan’s mouth. She could taste the combined sweetness of blood in Cara’s mouth and her moan was loud enough she was convinced to be heard throughout the palace. Her hands reached behind her in desperation to feel Cara.
Pulling away reluctantly, Cara stood, her hands moving to the buckles around her neck as she stalked around the copper tub, her eyes greedily moving over Kahlan’s wet and blushed skin.
“Cara, hurry, I want to feel you … I need to make lo.” Kahlan’s eyes narrowed in anger as she heard the door to her chamber open. Cara seemed to growl as well, and stood to use her body to obscure Kahlan from the view of the maidservant who entered, her head down. The young servant walked with the stiffness of fear.
“What?!” Cara demanded.
“Mistress Cara, a letter just arrived.”
“And that gave you cause to barge in here?” Cara asked.
“The man said it was most urgent.”
“I do not care what someone else told you.”
“Cara, just see what it is.” Kahlan sighed, her skin tightening above the water in emotional overload suddenly. She watched as Cara snatched the letter, and waved dismissively at the girl. Her eyes narrowed as she read, and then her fingers crumbled the letter angrily. “You have to go.” Kahlan sighed, closing her eyes and leaning back in the tub.
“And is it from…” Kahlan asked trying to keep her voice even, to not reveal or allow her jealousy freedom.
“Captain Meiffert. Yes.” Cara nodded, her lips working and eyes clearly elsewhere. The crumpled note in her hands was tossed into the fire. Then she turned back to Kahlan, her hand moving again to the thick leather collar around her neck. She begun undoing the final buckle.
“Cara. If it is important.”
“It may be.” Her brow lifted. “But so it this. So is time with you.” The look in her eyes was conflicted, but so very naked to Kahlan. Her eyes seemed to glow with words unspoken and needs disregarded. Cara wanted to stay with her.
Kahlan stood, water running off of her body. She was certain Cara whimpered. “I’ll come with you. Then we will come back here and.”
“And?” Cara asked, her hands falling to her sides.
Kahlan stepped from the tub, and lifted the large towel that was laying on the table. “Perhaps… we could talk.”
“Or.” Cara smirked.
Kahlan smiled, “Mm. Most certainly or.” The air burst from her lips and lungs as her back connected with her bed suddenly. She had not expected Cara to move so swiftly. “Cara!” Kahlan gasped, as her thighs, still very wet from the bath were forced apart, as cold supple leather caressed the insides of them. She moaned Cara’s name a second time as a mouth, moving with desperation claimed her center.
Panting, lips moved over the mound of hair, as first lips, and then teeth pressed into the tender skin there, and Kahlan’s hips trembled under the firm touch of Cara’s fingers. “I cannot wait, Mother Confessor.”
“But.” Kahlan was on the verge of panting now as well.
“Grant me but one moment to taste you. To drink ambrosia from your nether lips.” Cara asked between kisses. Her mouth moved lower, full lips teasing against her aching clit, as Cara whispered words that Kahlan was convinced the blonde did not want her to hear. But she did. She felt each word as if they were presses of an Agiel. “I love the taste of your skin, the flavor of you.”
Kahlan pressed her hands against the back of Cara’s head; a touch was the only way she could reply for she feared her voice. Cara expertly sucked her clit aggressively, as the tip of her tongue pounded out a triple rhythm over and over again. It sent Kahlan roaring to the edge, to the point where her defenses crumbled and her heart seemed to sing.
As she slipped down the alley, her eyes narrowed, and her gloved fingers tightened on the Agiel. He turned and lowered the thick grey wool hood, exposing the rolling tumble of blonde curls, and while his grey eyes were twinkling, he was not smiling. He reached for her arm, and as his fingers gripped her and pulled her closer to him and into the shadows between a stack of crates and a barrel of wine. Cara pressed her Agiel into his side.
"Stop." He hissed in her ear hotly, and his eyes jerked back and forth to the opening of the alleyway, pleading with her to look.
Walking a few feet away on the street adjacent to the alley were a quad of Mord-Sith. But the way they moved, with stiffness and overconfidence made her eyes narrow, as did the strange color red of their belts. It was a darker red than standard. Suddenly Cara wanted to forget Benjamin and follow them.
"You would do well to unhand me, Benjamin." She said firmly, and his hand did just that. Cara slipped the Agiel back in its holster.
"Always harm now, ask questions later."
"No, keeping a promise. I told you. Touch me again without my verbal request and I hurt you."
"Keep your voice down." He whispered hotly.
"Fearing Mord-Sith? It is not what you and I are made of."
"I don't fear them." He said.
Cara stepped back into the alley, away from him, her eyes still fixated on the spot the Mord-Sith had walked passed. "What do you want?"
“You’re late.” He said flatly.
“And you are presumptive.” She said glaring at him. There were many more important things she wanted to be doing at this moment. “I will only ask once more. What do you want?”
"You need to see this." He handed her a letter.
"Under the cover of darkness you called me here? For a letter?"
"Cara, read it."
She shook her head annoyed and unfolded it. Reading it she found words that were not unexpected, and yet chilled her. Her eyes flashed up to his dark grey ones.
"Now you see?" He asked.
Cara asked. "Who else has gotten this letter?"
"Everyone that has resettled in the Midlands, as far as I know. Members of the guard came round the Inn to deliver this personally to me.”
Folding the letter, she handed it back to him. "Should I put you down now?"
"No. Cara. No. I am not that man. Not anymore."
"I do not believe you. You were a high ranking captain. It is in your blood."
"Aye, it is. But I will not do what is not right.” Undaunted and exceptionally foolish his hand took her forearm again and he pulled her closer to him, his voice lowering, and “You taught me, that I could be more than my heritage”.
"Then you failed the lesson Captain. We are what we are, no more, no less." Cara sighed and turned away. His hand was still in her arm and she looked down at his touch.
"Say that all you want, but I know what is true." He offered before slowly releasing her.
"Men say they can see the truth, but never do." She huffed back at him.
She shook her head, avoiding his eyes.
“I have two horses.”
“Well isn’t that nice, I have use of an entire stable.”
“That is true.” Kahlan said as she emerged from the shadows to Benjamin’s right, and he all but screamed as he jumped away from the two of them.
Cara grinned and Kahlan’s eyes twinkled with a sort of joy at having bested the retired Captain of the D’Haran army. Kahlan could move like a thought in the dark when she put her mind to it, and shrouded in black she had done just that. If Cara had not been attuned to her presence, had not caught the faintest scent of the herbs she used to blacken Kahlan’s hair, she too would have been startled.
“Mother Confessor.” He said and immediate dropped to his knee.
“Well, that perhaps shows something?” Kahlan asked Cara, who nodded.
“A call to arms. An order for all those born of D’Hara to declare fealty to the Lord Rahl.” Cara said succinctly to Kahlan, who looked as though she had expected as much.
“Rise, Captain Meiffert.” Kahlan said softly.
“Benjamin, Mistress, if you please.” He asked standing, and wiping the blackened snow from his knees.
“Do we think this is a true request from Darken Rahl?” Kahlan asked Cara, ignoring the tall man beside her.
“When did word begin circulating?” Cara asked him.
“Yesterday. Took them a while to get to me.” Benjamin offered.
“Then I think it is Darken Rahl.” Cara said firmly. “Though, there were just some Mord-Sith I do not recognize, walking down the street.”
“I saw them.” Kahlan confirmed, crossing her arms. “Do you think it was her?”
“Perhaps?” Cara shrugged. “We could always go and have a look?” She asked Kahlan, who gently shook her head no.
“We will leave that hunting for another day. I think there is more that Benjamin here has to say.” Kahlan offered.
Cara crossed her arms in a mock pout, which seemed to be contagious, looking at Benjamin from the corner of her eyes she saw his face was tightening with confusion as they spoke in half sentences.
“Cara. You need to come. To see something with your own eyes.”
“Oh. What more is there for me to know? I have seen the letter.”
“No. There is more. One of my… associates told me of this and I did not believe him. Not until I saw it. You must. The both of you. I insist. It is not too far. With a hard ride there and back? We could be back to walk into the courtyard of your Palace by mid day tomorrow.”
“Mid day.” Kahlan said sharply.
“That is not too far.” Benjamin began, not knowing nor would he ever if Cara had her way, that the sun before Midday was nearly deadly to Kahlan.
“Quiet.” Cara snapped, stepping closer to Kahlan and taking her arm, leading her away a few steps. “I do not have to go now. We could wait. You and I can ride out tomorrow. Once the sun sets?”
“Cara. I need you to be my eyes. If you trust him?”
“He is many things, but Spirits protect the big fool, he would never think to hurt me. Not as you think.”
She was allowing her horse to walk slowly up the mountain road, so she could for a moment enjoy the cold wind that caressed her cheeks as well as the warmth of the rising sun. The sun on her face was soothing, to the point where it warmed the ice that seemed to form from the tears that would, as if by their own design slip down her cheeks.
Berdine had woken in an odd mood that morning, feeling the warmth of a body beside her own; a sensation that seemed so foreign after a year. She had slipped from the bed, and from Raina, and dressed efficiently and quickly. As she pulled the corset tightly, and closed the buckles she realized that she was crying.
She turned away briskly, not wanting Raina to see, and marched from her bedchamber. In the hall it was dank and quiet and she leaned her back against the door. She had cried and ached for Raina for months to come back to her, to lay beside her in bed, to feel her sleeping breath on her shoulder. And now that she had it again she realized the pain she had felt in harboring that desire had not left. It had evolved, into a pain that was stronger than it had been, just as it was ever so slightly different.
She had clutched her Agiel, and called upon her anger as she left the Confessor’s Palace; because that was the only thing she knew to do. The only solace she knew to stop the anguish.
Years she had been a Mord-Sith, and in all those years and even those before she had been intelligently curious. Her father, when he had looked fondly on her, had called her his little kitten, for she was curious as a cat, and while getting into trouble, she always seemed to land on her feet. Though that was before she had to face him and murder him, as part of her trials to become a Mord-Sith. He had called her a different name for a cat then. In all the moments she had lived, and some where she had died, Berdine had learned, and craved knowledge. It fueled her more than the conquests of flesh and of pain, even more than following commands of her master or mistress. It was to live each day, to learn from that day which made everything seem interesting.
The truth of the tears was not that she was sad, but that Berdine now wished she was different. She wished that she was not so curious, and she wished she did not have the desire to know about everything. Because when Raina walked into her chamber the night before, with the dark smile on her lips Berdine knew. Destiny was set in motion. She knew how and when she was going to die, and it made her for the first time wish she was someone and something different, so that she could unlearn that truth.
“If you are here alone.” Kahlan said as she took the stairs slowly, for she was exhausted and could feel the heaviness in all of her muscles. The sun had just risen, and while she had not slept at all, nor had she fed since the slight taste from Cara, she knew that today was a different day than the others before. There was something in the air, or perhaps it was merely her own trepidation in knowing with certainty that all around her things were happening over which she had no control. That feeling had lifted her from her bed, and sent her to walking in the more shadowed corridors of the Confessor’s Palace.
Raina had been standing on the stairs, her arms crossed as she looked down at the receiving hall, watching those who came into the Palace. She had been standing alone, and dressed in her full Mord-Sith regalia. Her hair was perfectly braded and she looked exactly as she had when Kahlan had met her for the first time. It was as though her blood red leather gave her a certain power to her stature, making her petite form larger, stronger. Telling those around her that she was not to be overlooked nor underestimated.
“She went to the Keep. Or so her note said.”
“Oh. She left a note.” Kahlan winced, as Raina fell into step with her.
“Unlike her. And certainly unlike what I asked for.” Raina shrugged. “It seems I have not been forgiven.”
“What in Creation do you have to be forgiven for?” Kahlan wondered aloud, knowing very well that Raina was aware of the nature her relationship had taken with Berdine. She looked at the petite brunette beside her from the corner of her eyes, and smiled slightly noticing that Raina was glaring at her, though attempting to hide it.
“Perhaps she is… uncertain as to why you have so easily forgiven her.” Kahlan stated. “It has been a question that I have had.”
“You want to know why I left.”
“The price to stay was too high.” Raina offered. “You do not trust me, and so that we are clear? There is nothing for me to forgive. What Berdine has done? It is the duty of the Mord-Sith to please our masters and mistresses in every way.”
“Is that what I am?”
“Oh yes, Mother Confessor. To her you are.”
Kahlan looked into her eyes. “Not to you?”
“I am still undecided.” Raina said back coldly, but Kahlan was certain she saw the faintest hint of mirth in the corner of her dark brown eyes.
“Then we are equals in that regard.” Kahlan said, pausing at the closed door that would lead to the small antechamber beside the entrance to the Central Council Chamber. She nodded to her four personal guards, who took their positions beside the doorway, and she turned to face Raina. Her eyes moved over the Mord-Sith, and then her brow rose. “Your Agiel.” Kahlan said softly, noticing its absence.
Raina looked down sharply, but offered no explanation.
“A Mord-Sith, weaponless, standing beside the Mother Confessor.” Kahlan said.
“You are used to having the upper hand, are you not?” Raina snapped.
“It was something I once enjoyed yes. But those days I fear have ended.” Kahlan crossed her arms. “We are at a stalemate then. If you will not trust me to tell me why.”
“You know.” Raina offered.
“She threatened Berdine’s life.”
Kahlan waited before saying, “There is more you are not telling me.”
“Details do not matter. Not anymore. I am here because she released me from watching over Richard. I have not been given any further commands. If she does, can I say to you, in honesty, that I will inform you of them? No. If you ask if you should trust me. I will say no.” Raina said.
Kahlan meant it as she said, “Thank you.”
“It is I who should thank you.” Raina said softly, and she took a surprising step closer to Kahlan. The guards bristled behind them, and Kahlan motioned to them to stand down. “You were careful. You did not… harm her. It would have been easy to do. An accident even. I thank you, for not confessing the one person…” Raina met Kahlan’s eyes, and she saw the deep conviction in them. Looking at her was the woman, not the Mord-Sith. “Thank you, Mother Confessor. For that? I am in your debt.”
The Wizard was sitting in his rocking chair when she slipped into his room.
“Don’t bother thinking of something to say.” Berdine offered offhandedly as she moved deeper into his room, and began poking about the items on the table where he sat. “I know you will try to come up with some reason as to why Nicci is not here, and I would pretend to believe you.” She ran her finger over the small object of an odd shape, with its painted eye. “But there is no need. Nicci is in the Confessor’s Palace. You and I are here. I will escort you into the bowels of the Wizard’s Keep, where you will give me a small orb. That orb will be the only thing that will free me from the barriers within the Keep. If I drop the orb, break the orb, I will be trapped inside the Keep until I starve or kill myself. You will then make up some silly excuse for me to leave you alone, and then you will die. By way of the Wizard’s Life Fire, and your power and your essence will be burned into the foundations of the Keep itself.” Her tone was even and tired, and as she spoke she palmed the small oblong object, and turning slipped it into her leathers. “So let’s not pretend. Let’s just take a walk.”
Zedd closed the book he had been reading and let it sit on his lap. “Should it concern me that you know what is to come to pass?”
“No. Jebra told me.”
“Why on earth would she tell you?”
Berdine said off handedly. “She didn’t understand all of what she saw. I now know.”
“That does not explain.” He rose slowly. “Why she would tell you any of it.”
“Jebra thought she was helping.”
His eyes narrowed.
“I am going to be dead by this time tomorrow.”
“And she told you the events of your last day.” Zedd said softly.
“How long have you known?”
“A few months, give or take?” Berdine shrugged and then umphed when Zedd clamped his hand hard on her shoulders.
“That was most unkind of her.”
“She’s not an admirer of my previous handiwork.” Berdine shrugged. “If it is any consolation, wizard, your death, unlike mine, will be mourned.”
“Berdine.” Zedd said sadly.
She shook her head and in a moment of weakness, offered her hand to him, “Shall we?”
He took a slow breath, and took her hand, and slid his spidery fingers down to hold onto her forearm. “We shall.”
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