"Look at me Cara."

Dahlia approached Cara at the Mord-Sith temple, one of the training centers outside People's Palace.

"Sister Dahlia."

"Have you been again reading the Book of Secrets Cara? Haven't you been told you to not touch it before your training period is over?"

"Oh...maybe I had a quick look at the Book but...", Cara answered to Dahlia, "but it's quite interesting what it says about Confessors, magic and …"

"Look at me Cara", Dahlia's voice was stronger.

"I'm sorry Mistress Dahlia."

Cara had difficulties to keep this attitude that was now required from her. They had been close friends for a long time, endured together the hardest parts of the Mord-Sith initiation. But recently they had been separated and this had forced Dahlia to distance herself from Cara. It was strange for Cara to learn that her friend was in a position above her.

Dahlia put a finger under Cara's chin and lifted her head to see directly into her eyes. A hint of red rose on Cara's cheeks. Things were really different than before, but Cara knew that soon she wouldn't accept it any more.

"Please Cara, try to learn these things."

"Sorry I should be going to..."

Dahlia stopped her.

"Going to where? To that ceremony? Did you forget you had to meet me?"

"Oh, that is true…I forgot."

"Cara. I know we were friends. But you must obey me during this training phase and do as I say. What has been before is another story, don't think about it now…"

Yes, what had happened to her, to them, things swirled in Cara's mind. The pain of being taken from her home, pure pain both for her and for Dahlia. The Mord-Sith had broken her so many times and making her kill her father was the worst thing. This made her orphan, poor child thrown in the cold world. The only way to stand it was to grow numb and submit to the despotic order. She was harmed to an almost unbearable extent, but still something inside her had not completely died. She had embraced the power of the mind, that strange power stronger than any physical one.

Then over the years a twisted recovery, so much as it was possible in these circumstances, had started to take place after despair and scepticism. The long time spent with the fellow Mord-Sith trainees had had a positive effect on her. She had started to change, made friends and Dahlia was one of them.

Cara thought about her more recent past. It's true, with or even without friends there were certain little sparks of hope in her mind. She was first ashamed of them. They were not hopes of reverting the past, revenging what had happened. No, that was too painful a memory and impossible, for many reasons but the main one was that Mord-Sith's were now her family. Her wishes related to becoming a true Mord-Sith, if that would be her fate, and it was now close. This wish she had concealed inside. She knew that by completing her training, in the end she would be free in a strange way. She would be free although completely bound to serving her master, lord Rahl. But there would be changes, she was sure, and sometimes she still felt that all of this was a weird theater whose plays extended over the years. She was forced to play these plays, did what was asked and did it well.

Dahlia's words emerged again and made Cara to stop thinking.

"...learning the skills of resisting psychologically strong people, when they are trying to influence you with more ordinary means, without explicit power."

"Ordinary means?"

"Games in which you play with the other's emotions, with their feelings. You have to know the connection between the body and the mind. Let me remind you Cara that both of these instances are weak and you need to learn to use them to your advantage. And most importantly, you must not be weak yourself, neither in your mind nor in your body."

Cara started to be more and more familiar with this Mord-Sith philosophy, she started to know, learn and apply it. Dahlia came closer, lifted her arm and caressed softly Cara's hair.

"Yes, Cara, bodies are weak. You can do everything if you know to control yourself. You will have a power which is much stronger than any physical threat. She looked into Cara's eyes. Am I correct?"

"But Dahlia", Cara murmured, "why are you like this, have you forgotten our friendship? We were close friends and liked each other. You are not like this."

There was a short break before Dahlia answered. Cara's words were already an offense and Dahlia could have slapped her.

"What was then doesn't make a big difference now. We need to follow the training rules. So Cara, you have no other choice than obey."

It was difficult to think clearly. Cara felt at the same time amused and conflicted. She saw the same spark in Dahlia's eyes as always, but for too long time now Cara had felt it mission impossible to connect with Dahlia again.

"I see in your eyes that you are not afraid of me Cara. That's good. But you have to kill those other feelings that you are now experiencing." Dahlia went straight to the point.

"I don't think..."

"If you can't resist those feelings, at least learn to channel them out from yourself. I know we were close friends, of course we were. And I also know you like me. Maybe I also still like you. But I'm using this information what I know now against you." Dahlia's fingers didn't stop and she simply played out in practice what she had just theorized to Cara.

"But what can I do…", Cara felt confused.

"What you can do is walk away. I give you permission. The door is not locked and I don't threaten you in any way. Go to that ceremony which you wanted to participate in."

Dahlia was too good in this. If Cara moved, Dahlia would win. Nothing concrete prevented Cara from leaving, except her pride. She couldn't submit to her former friend, and especially when she saw it was not really yet fully in Dahlia's essence to behave like this. But it seemed to be coming.

"I believe you want to ask what happened to our friendship? Yes, we were good friends. Maybe we will be in the future. But not now. What happened to me was the best thing that can happen. I realized what I wanted. Lord Rahl can offer me that."

It really was how the others had told Cara. The physical pain part of the training to become Mord-Sith was one thing, but the psychological part of the training was equally hard, if not harder.

"So you are not going? Good. I knew it." Her smile was confident and a little arrogant. For a short moment she had Cara under her control, Cara who had impressed her so much and who had been so close friend with her. "Okay, now it's your turn Cara. Go ahead."

With slightly hesitating fingers Cara touched Dahlia's hair, then ran them softly over her ear. She felt the softness of Dahlia's skin. She knew her too well, she knew her dragon. Her fingers touched shortly Dahlia's lips, which gave a slight shiver to the latter. But Cara definetely couldn't accept Dahlia's attitude. The face of Dahlia looked to Cara beautiful and gentle as always. Dahlia's eyes were half closed and she seemed to enjoy Cara's touch.

"How does it feel Cara? Do you feel you would like to press yourself against me? Hold me? Then I could be again your best friend here with the Mord-Siths?"

"I...I don't know, it feels good. And yes I would like to be again your best friend, Dahlia. I'm sorry, I'm really confused, you were my best friend."

"I know how you feel Cara, I was like you too. It's confusing. But it's not possible as long as we respect the rules. I'm sorry to say, but this is the Mord-Sith way. You will thank me later."

Dahlia's eyes turned cold and she didn't watch Cara any more.

"Now get out. You can still catch your ceremony."

After Cara left, Dahlia stood a long time at the window and felt irreal. It was still question of her former friend. Dahlia felt her own behavior was still too much like a mask. Warm memories came to her mind, she enjoyed them smiling, she and Cara, the swords, the valleys, the dragon and the knight. If everything else would go away, this wouldn't. It was an irremovable part of her. Then the sweet landscape of the memories became blurred due to voices, fragments of the most horrible parts of their common history, when they had held hands, she heard their voices again in her head, a thing she would never forget.

Dahlia, you are like a sister to me, please help me... Cara, don't show them you suffer. Don't look at the agiels... But it's horrible… I'm sorry Cara... It's horrible... I'm sorry Cara, I have been through this, we must endure, we will get through... But I can't... I'm sorry, I feel the same... No... I'm sorry...Hold my hand, hold it tightly…

The stream of the horrible fragments stopped in Dahlia's mind and slowly faded out like so many times before. She had cried many times but she didn't any more. Crying was conjured out of her, it was conjured out of all Mord-Siths. She went to bed but didn't get sleep.