Uhhh feeling super self conscious about this. This is the first time I'm actually adding anything new to it since 2016 _
I really hope this doesn't suck as much as I feel like it does !
Cara effortlessly dodged the large fist heading towards her jaw and twisted in towards the man's body, grabbing his arm and using his own weight and momentum to flip him onto his back. She had only a moment before the next man charged at her but he was too slow to catch her unaware.
Yesterday Cara had been sloppy; she'd acted instinctually, enraged, like a rabid Heart Hound. She'd taken a few hits that should never have landed and she'd exposed the raw nerve of her emotions to anyone who had cared to look. Had her Sisters of the Agiel been alive and present to witness her display they would have surely taken her to be re-broken. A Mord-Sith does not allow her emotions to control her; she beats them into submission and focuses her rage. But she had lost control. Even more so following her encounter with Zedd in the garden, after which she had wandered down to the tavern. For the first time in her life Cara had become truly intoxicated, discarding all discipline and control. She'd seduced a beautiful, dark-haired woman and had led her into a room only to turn around and see Kahlan's face looking back at her. Cara had wailed, that same terrible sound that had burst from her lungs when she'd been out hunting the buck. She had lashed out, fist connecting with the wall. The woman had fled from the room and Cara had fled from the tavern. She'd run into the forest and fallen to the ground before throwing up the liquid contents of her stomach.
She hadn't been able to deny the fact that she was feeling. She wasn't immune to emotions anymore – if she was honest with herself, she hadn't been immune to them in a long time – and so she was left with a tumultuous tidal wave of mixed feelings that she couldn't name, couldn't identify, couldn't push away. She had decided that if she couldn't avoid the storm, she needed to bend it to her will; shape it into something useful. Anger.
This morning Cara felt focused, in control. Her rage simmered beneath the surface, as it always had in the past, coming out in measured streams rather than the volcanic eruption of the previous day. Her face revealed nothing, her mouth set into a hard line and her eyes sharp as she efficiently took down one man after another.
There was a knock at the door and Zedd put his bowl on the bedside table as he rose to open it. Kahlan hastily scooped some porridge out of her own bowl and into Zedd's while he wasn't looking.
"Richard, my boy".
Kahlan couldn't help but stare as Richard smiled bashfully at Zedd, looking down at the floor briefly before greeting him warmly. That particular expression on Richard's face always made an appearance when Zedd would refer to him as "son" or "my boy", or ruffle his shaggy hair. Though it had taken some time for Richard to come to terms with Zedd being his grandfather, it was clear that Zedd had begun to fill the loss Richard had felt after leaving his home and losing the man who'd raised him.
Richard was telling Zedd that he would be heading just outside of Aydindril today to help a farmer with some repairs. Zedd listened fondly as Richard explained how he'd met the farmer yesterday in the marketplace. Kahlan's heart ached with her love for her friends. Her family. She felt her eyes well with tears at the thought of not being around to see Richard and Zedd grow closer, to see Richard fall in love and start a family of his own, to see Zedd be a doting great-grandfather.
And Cara… Cara had changed and grown so much in the time that they had been travelling together. But lately it seemed that Cara was slipping more and more into her old ways, closing herself off.
Kahlan felt the tears finally spill onto her cheeks.
"Kahlan?" Richard called her name gently, filled with concern. He walked over and cautiously sat on the edge of the bed. "Are you okay?"
Kahlan smiled sadly and shook her head even as she replied, "I'm fine". She wiped at her tears and looked from Richard, to Zedd, and back again. "I love you guys."
Richard flashed that familiar boyish smile and leant in to wrap his arms around Kahlan. He closed his eyes as he held her a little tighter and his voice was sad but sincere. "We love you too, Kahlan".
Zedd's eyes met Kahlan's over Richard's shoulder and he could see the thoughts she wasn't sharing. "Richard, have you seen Cara?"
Richard pulled away from Kahlan and turned to Zedd. "I haven't seen her, but I heard that she's out there sparring with the guards again. Not like yesterday, although most of them are still terrified of her". Richard stood from the bed and looked back at Kahlan. "I'd better get going and start on those repairs. I found a new board game for us to try, I'll bring it by later".
Kahlan smiled gratefully at Richard and waved as he left. As soon as she and Zedd were alone again she felt her tears returning. "I miss her. Spirits, I never thought I'd say it but I miss watching her fight." Kahlan shook her head ruefully and Zedd laid a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Kahlan. You know how stubborn she can be, she'll only come to you when she's ready".
"It'll be too late, Zedd". Kahlan's voice was quiet, steely. "If she won't come to me, I'll have to go to her." She made to move from her bed but Zedd grasped her arm to keep her in place.
"Kahlan, you need to rest."
"Zedd, please. I've been cooped up in here for days." She tilted her head back and closed her eyes, her voice laced with exasperation. "My body may be failing me, but my mind is not."
"Kahlan," Zedd chastised.
Zedd's frown faded when Kahlan opened her eyes and looked into his own. She looked panicked, desperate. Her voice was a whisper as she begged again. "Please, Zedd. Please. I need to see her."
A moment of silence passed between them before the wizard sighed.
"Bags," Zedd mumbled under his breath. "Okay, but only for an hour. The guards can sit you in a chair and carry you there, you're not to walk."
Kahlan groaned. "Is that really necessary?"
Zedd put his hands on his hips and glared at Kahlan, looking uncannily like a stern nursemaid from Kahlan's childhood. She rolled her eyes as she slowly rose from her bed. "Fine. Leave me to dress."
The hair on Cara's neck stood on end and her skin prickled. She was being watched. Of course, most of the people in the courtyard had their eyes on her, but this felt different. She glanced up at the second-floor balcony overlooking the courtyard and she caught a glimpse of endless blue eyes before she turned her attention back to the man she'd just knocked down who was making a grab for her legs. Cara tried to lose herself in the fight but she remained keenly aware of her audience.
Kahlan couldn't help the thrill of excitement at watching the Mord-Sith in her element. Cara moved fluidly but with a practised discipline, as though performing a dance she'd been born knowing the steps to. Kahlan hadn't failed to notice the ragged gloves exposing colourful knuckles, or the purple bruise on the chin of an otherwise flawless face. She suspected they were injuries of days past as Cara currently outmanoeuvred every swing of her opponent until she could throw him to the ground without ever using her fists.
After a while Kahlan was able to forget about her illness and the distance that had grown between her and Cara. She was fixated on the sight in front of her, admiring the Mord-Sith's abilities. She felt her face flush as she imagined the ripple of muscles beneath red leather, and again later when her eyes were drawn to the sheen of sweat exposed by the low dip of Cara's neckline.
So often during their travels she'd watched Cara spar with Richard and she'd secretly admired the Mord-Sith's body. She'd always avoided examining her feelings too closely, but she'd known the truth of her feelings long before she'd been willing to admit it to herself. The way she and Cara seemed to gravitate towards one another, the flutter in her chest every time Cara protected her in battle, the heat in her stomach every time Cara sparred with her, every time she smirked at her. The way her heart ached every time Cara looked troubled. The awe in Cara's voice and eyes as she'd told Kahlan about the birth of the Night Wisps, and the way Kahlan had ached to kiss her.
Kahlan groaned quietly as a wave of anguish and grief washed over her. She bent forward in her seat and clutched at her chest, trying to assuage the sudden acute pain as her heart raced and her breathing became shallow. Her leather travelling pants and loose tunic felt entirely too tight, despite her having grown two sizes too small for them. I need her. I need to see her, I need to talk to her. I need to tell her.
Kahlan looked back up and met concerned green eyes. She tried to call out to Cara but she couldn't catch her breath. The last thing she saw was Cara turning to leave as her world faded to black.