"So this is indeed the North Temple, the recidence of the former Mord-Siths! It's unbelievable."
Cara looked fascinated, and now well relaxed, at the details of the temple when they walked in. They passed the front yard, gardens at the sides and the magnificent inner entrance.
"You can find here pretty much everything. We have kind of a well-working community and of course we visit often Ceany", Rose Red talked and explained more to Cara and Kahlan the life of the temple.
They were led inside, through the halls and inner yards and finally to the main gathering place of the temple. There were many happy and curious faces, and Cara thought these people were certainly wondering who they are. Ah yes it had been a long quest, nothing of this was really planned. The adventure started when she had asked Kahlan with her for the quest to save the Golden Branch. They did it, but so many new things had appeared on the way, Nick with his mirror, an interesting thing she would probably soon ask more about, the long walk through the night and the swim, Kahlan's capture and saving and now finally this, the most important thing, a thing which Kahlan wanted to do for her, to be her partner of life in the ritual of undoing the Mord-Sith's dark image.
"What are you thinking?" Kahlan asked smiling. "Sometimes you think a lot Cara."
"Oh nothing or actually many things but this is it. Many things have happened, I wouldn't have thought. Hah, we are like in an adventure story turned into a… into a..."
"Things are going to be fine, so fine. We will do everything step by step. Bigger, smaller. Or leaps, what you want."
They were given a chamber to rest and sleep.
Next morning Portia was with Cara, painting a special symbol in Cara's arm.
"This is the symbol? These lines?"
"Yes Cara, this is it. Two fine and different lines crossing their paths." Portia continued painting and Scottie was doing the same for Kahlan. "It will join you two together forever. The mark itself will disappear, but what it marks will stay in your hearts."
"Yes… oh, it's just…"
Kahlan came behind Cara and put an arm around her.
"You look beautiful Cara."
Kahlan had her new brown-grey dress, the one from the town's dressmaker, her hair in beautiful braids and eyes shining and warm. Cara looked at her and a deep feeling went through her body. It felt unreal, dreamlike, joining forever to Kahlan, this woman who was smiling next to her, both a familiar and an extraordinary woman. It has to be like this, she thought. And the place itself, the temple that should not even exist in this world, that maybe people don't want to exist. She felt strong here, even stronger than usually. Nobody would demand from her anything she wouldn't like. Whatever the ritual would be, she felt herself already changed by everything so far. It happened during these recent journeys together, or maybe already before, but in the end it didn't matter. It was her thing and this world was much richer than anybody seemed to understand.
The preparations continued and at noon the ritual started. Kahlan and Cara stood at the front of the main hall excited and smiling.
"Relax Cara. I know you are not a big fan of formalities."
"I am relaxed Kahlan, but yeah that's true."
"I hope they don't ask us to dance, what would you say to that?" Kahlan teased.
Their new friends and the people of the temple had gathered in the hall. Detailed texts were read and recited, wise words pronounced. In some moments Cara felt like looking at herself from the ceiling, but at the same time she was fully present, knowing that all the little details mattered. The wise words were like music, their holding each other and the way Portia and the others looked at them lovingly was too sweet, and all the melodies played at the background caressed them. Cara thought that probably later she wouldn't really be able remember too much of how this ritual went, who said what and in which order, but the important thing had happened, and it was the smiling wonderful Kahlan next to her and all things in order.
From the beginning of the ritual, when Kahlan's hand joined her hand, until their soft kiss and tender looks when the current head of the temple gave them the final words, everything was just beautiful, calm and warm, with smiles, with sweet fire under their skin.
Rose Red handed to them a chalice, which was the sign of the end of the ritual and beginning of the first year, and said it was meant that first Kahlan drank and then Cara. Cara couldn't hold her emotions, they pressed against each other and exchanged quiet words which only they would remember and which they knew they wouldn't reveal to anybody. It was a moment the audience couldn't avoid admiring. The playing got louder and the ritual was over.
The party continued late in the night, everyone was happy for the new pair, the new Deviant and the return of the Golden Branch. They slept late and in the breakfast next morning Cara remembered something.
"Kahlan, the Ruby Mirror. Should we ask about it?"
"Yeah yeah, let's ask."
They inquired Rose Red and Scottie about the mirror and were met by two astonished faces.
"You have a piece of Ruby Mirror?"
"Yes we have."
Cara explained where they got the piece and about Nick.
"Wow that is so interesting", Scottie got excited. "You know we have this special chamber, called the Ruby Chamber. I will take you there."
They descended to the basement and then followed stairs below the surface level to a darker and dustier space. Scottie opened the chamber and they entered.
"It's not much here", Cara wondered about the empty space that opened in front of her eyes.
The chamber had only one source of light, a narrow long opening at the top part of the wall, which led a thin segment of sunlight into the chamber. At the same wall there was a mechanism, a holder made of stone, which could be adjusted upwards. By looking at this strange construction closer, after Cara's eyes got used to the darker lighting, she saw that a similar piece of Ruby Mirror was attached to the holder as what she was carrying.
"Cara, we will now attach your piece to our piece. I expect they fit", Scottie started to operate the holder.
After a few moments the new piece was attached.
"I leave you now to see what comes out."
"Comes out from what? What should we be looking for?"
"Wait and you will see. Just stay in the chamber and watch. It's getting first darker. I will operate the mechanism."
Scottie adjusted the combined mirror now higher, all the way up to the ceiling, in front of the light beam. He went outside and closed the door, and apparently started to adjust the light opening smaller. Finally Cara and Kahlan saw there was only a very narror beam of light coming from outside. The light focused on the two pieces of the mirror.
"What? Some kind of special interference through the mirror's crystals?"
"I think so, Kahlan said holding her breath."
The light through the mirror projected on the back wall of the chamber. First there was nothing but then soft shapes started to form. It was like smoke, of red color, lateral and vertical shapes, water and rivers, roads and trees and buildings, then soft organic shapes and finally something that looked like people moving, unclear but getting sharper.
The screen changed now to show some kind of an interior space with people who were smiling and turning towards and away from the screen.
"Cara... it's almost... like a view to some new world or what? I don't understand. Where can this be?"
They watched more carefully. They saw the people speaking and could read a few words from their lips.
"It's another world Cara. I cannot understand where this can be, it looks partly familiar and partly strange, the clothes of these people are so different."
"Is it possible that there is still something beyond the Old and the New world?"
"Oh Cara… I cannot know, but I remember… I remember very vaguely something that was mentioned long time ago, like a secret code, hidden in the prophetic texts, like double writing where it was just speculated that there is a Beyond… a world beyond. It was long time speculation, nobody could tell if it's even possible. But some erudits believe in it strongly. Like messages passing between our world and that of beyond. According to them, that 'beyond' world affects our world, and the other way around too."
"Is is possible to get there? In this beyond world?" Cara got excited and breathed faster.
"I don't know Cara, there are things that…"
"If it exists, then there must be a way!" She turned to Kahlan. "We will find this way. Will you follow me?"
Kahlan put her arms around Cara.
"You are really bringing me far, Cara, I could never have imagined. But I love it how you want to explore. Yes I will follow you, if you just tell me what we will do."
"Well that's a familiar situation for us, isn't it? We start from the beginning, or even before that, when we don't have anything. We have to build it." Cara took Kahlan in her arms and smiled. "We are already here, we have built so much. We are way past endgame Kahlan. Thank you for believing in me. This is what we do. Start always from zero."
"Aww damn how you speak." Kahlan's eyes started to shine. "You just don't know how much I love you."
In the next day it was time for a sweet farewell, although everybody knew they would meet again. Portia, Rose Red, Scottie and Brody escorted Cara and Kahlan to the forest. Cara and Kahlan were happy to think that they would have now these friends waiting, maybe joining them for some future adventures. But now it was time for them to join again Richard and Zedd with the good news that the Golden Branch was returned back to the Deviants.
"Good bye for now."
The heroines disappeared through the narrow forest opening and headed back to the town, where they were supposed to meet again the other half of the team.
"Cara was really excited about the Ruby Mirror", Scottie talked and watched them pass. "I'm happy I gave our piece to her. The pieces are in good hands. I wonder if they try to find more of them."
"And these two are such a beautiful pair", Brody said.
"Yes they are Brody", Rose Red turned to him. "Ah I will remember to tell them that you said this next time when we meet them."
"And maybe not only beautiful", Scottie continued. "I didn't want to open this question yet, because I want to check it more… but you remember the Book of X? The one with the most enigmatic prophecies?"
"Yes… yes we do."
"I found something in it, it's about saviours and last resorts, when things are turning really bad, like what some people say are saying is now happening in our world. Despotic things, repression, black forces."
"So what did you find?"
"The tenth chapter of the Book is about saviours, it speaks about two unexpected forces that will join, unknown to each other. This would form a counter power when things seem to be lost forever and a black veil is over the world." Scottie took a deep breath. "I was just thinking that a surprisingly many things could match, for example Cara being the best and the strongest Mord-Sith. The chapter uses a lot of metaphors, especially those of an eagle and a wolf. I was just wondering, but I don't really know, if there is any way that our heroes, these two, Cara and Kahlan, have any connection with these symbols?"
"I… I don't know", Portia said. "But I do remember Cara liked birds of prey in the Mord-Sith school."
"Well we need to find out and tell them this next time. Perhaps… just perhaps, with our ritual we have helped to bring out something more important than just a new Deviant."
They went back to the temple and everybody looked forward to meeting Cara and Kahlan again.