They arrived at Romelle’s room almost at the exact instant the night watchmen did, the guards already holding out their blasters, eyes looking wild as they skidded to a halt at the sight of their princess with Lotor. Allura immediately began stammering out some feeble excuse, claiming they had both heard the screams at the same time, but Lotor was sure the men did not believe it. Not with the prince’s room on another floor, and nearly on another side of the castle. More than one guard was eyeing him suspiciously, and Lotor wasn’t sure if it helped or hindered his cause that he was still dressed.
But there was no time for questions, Romelle’s voice sounding no less panicked this time as she screamed and shouted for help. Another voice could be heard, softer in volume, talking urgently in an attempt to calm her down. It wasn’t working, if anything she became more shrill, the male voice sounding desperate to calm her down. In between attempts at reassuring her, Lotor could hear the voice switching to Drule, muttering curses and voicing how confused he was by Romelle’s reactions to him.
It was that voice speaking Drule that had Lotor hiding a smile, the prince realizing Sabbath had at last arrived. He was surprised it had taken the Drule this long to make his presence known in the castle, even as Lotor worried what would happen to him now that Romelle’s screams had attracted nearly a dozen guards.
“Princess Romelle!” One of the guards was trying to open the door, it’s knob rattling but staying locked. “Are you all right?!”
“No! Stay back…” Romelle said, seeming to ignore the guard’s question to shout at the man inside her room. “Don’t come near me!” She shrieked louder, Sabbath’s voice nearly muffled in comparison to her screams.
“Cousin!” Allura cried out alarmed.
“Whose in there with you?” The guard at the door was trying to force it open, but the humans lacked the strength.
“Don’t harm the princess!” Another shouted, adding his shoulder to the door in an attempt to knock it down.
Lotor listened to the shouts, chaos seeming to reign on both sides of the door, and knew that someone was bound to get hurt if the incident wasn’t played out very carefully. He wanted to call out to Sabbath, to order him to open the door, but wasn’t sure the Drule would obey him in this moment. Not with him sounding so distraught and agitated. What’s more, Lotor had a feeling the humans would shoot the Drule on sight, before the prince could get a chance to explain why he was in the room with Romelle.
“Allura…a moment…” He took her by the arm, and dragged her a few feet away from the distracted guards.
“What is it Lotor?” She looked frightened, eyes wide, and her hands fidgeting with the front of her nightgown. She barely seemed to look at him, so distracted with her cousin’s plight.
“I know what’s going on, and I can help put a stop to it….but I need your help.” Lotor explained, noticing that had gotten her attention focused on him.
“Of course, I’ll do anything. Just please…” Another scream sounded, Allura pale and flinching at the sound of it. “Help Romelle!”
“First you have to send away your guards.” Lotor told her, and that earned him a frown.
“It’s for their protection.” Her eyes grew even wider at that, Lotor hastening to explain. “Please, I don’t want anyone getting hurt, and that is exactly what will happen if they charge in, blasters a blazing.”
“They’ll be careful…” She started to say, but Allura looked unsure.
“Do you really want to take that risk?” Lotor asked, and she sighed out a no. “Then do as I say. Send them away.”
“Fine…but what do you intend to do after?” Allura asked, watching as the guards continued to try and force the door open with brute strength.
“Damage control.” Lotor answered. “There’s a Drule inside your cousin’s room.” That earned him a shocked gasp, Lotor grim faced. “He won’t understand what’s going
on, just that your guards are trying to keep him away from Romelle. But there’s a chance he’ll listen to me….”
“Why should he care about being kept away from Romelle?” Allura went pale faced at the realization. “Unless…are you implying he thinks she’s his mate? Oh no…” She breathed out that protest, and her hand grabbed at his arm, Allura needing the support. He wondered what she was thinking to make her so unsteady on her feet, Allura shaking her head no.
“He won’t mean to do any harm to your cousin.” Lotor tried to sound reassuring to her. “But he’ll be confused and upset, not understanding why she’s rejecting him. We don’t need the guards making the situation any worse, someone’s liable to end up dead that way.” He kept quiet that it would probably be her guards the were killed, Lotor knowing first hand how fiercesome and furious a Drule’s rage could be when someone tried to separate one from his mate.
“Yes…of course…” Allura let go of him, and took a shaky step forward, Lotor’s hands ready to catch her should she stumble. “Sergeant Dupree..” She called out to a brown haired female. “Please…Prince Lotor has an idea to get this problem under control. If you would just leave it all in his hands…”
Dupree looked doubting, eyeing Lotor with the suspicion most of the humans in the castle continued to give him. “What is it he thinks he can do?”
“I don’t think, I know I can control the situation.” Lotor answered, no smugness in his tone. He was simply stating fact. “That man inside is not a danger to your princess. But you don’t want to back him into a corner. Someone will end up dead that way.”
“It’s a risk we’re willing to take.” Dupree answered, showing strong signs of stubbornness. Lotor glanced at Allura, and she squared her shoulders, holding her head up high.
“I’m inclined to agree with the prince about wanting to avoid any deaths.” Allura told her. “It is why I am issuing a royal order…I want you to pull your men back.”
“Princess!” Several of the listening guards gasped out protests, Allura seeming to ignore them.
“You are to withdraw from this floor.” She continued. “And keep all others from the staircase.”
“Princess Allura…I could insist that you are distraught and not thinking clearly to give orders we should follow.” Dupree said.
“I could hold you in contempt for refusing to follow a royal order.” Allura retorted. “Do you really want to lose your jobs for failing to obey me?” Another scream from Romelle, Allura barely flinching now.
Dupree gave her a long look, searching for something in Allura’s eyes. “Do you really trust this Drule to be able to save your cousin?”
“I do.” Allura said, no sign of hesitation or doubt on her face or in her words. “I trust him not only with my life but with my cousin’s as well.”
Sergeant Dupree seemed to sigh, giving her a grim nod. “Very well your highness. We’ll pull back for now. But you have ten minutes to calm the situation down. If in that time the princess Romelle is still screaming, we will be back, and I will take any punishment you deem fit, if it means saving your cousin.”
“Understood.” Allura said, and Lotor practically bristled with impatience as he waited for the Sergeant to gather up her men and leave. He wondered if they would wait to count down the minutes until they were in position on another floor, or if the time was already ticking away for him. Either way, he forced himself to wait until the last guard was disappearing down the staircase, and then Lotor moved into action.
“Stand back.” Lotor ordered Allura. “I’m breaking the door down.”
“Can you do that?” Allura exclaimed, and he almost grinned.
“Drules have a lot more strength then humans. Even half breeds such as myself.” Lotor charged the door, shoulder first to slam into it, and heard it rattle on it’s hinges. A great cracking sound was heard, the door seeming to groan in protest. Satisfied it would take just one more hit, Lotor backed up, then charged again. He nearly fell into the room when the door busted free of it’s frame, hearing Sabbath let out a fierce growl at his arrival.
Stumbling slightly, Lotor quickly righted himself to a standing position, eyes taking quick assessment of the situation in Romelle’s room. It was dimly lit, and the window was forced open, no doubt Sabbath’s point of entry. The Drule himself was standing very near to Romelle’s bed, mere inches away from climbing on board it. His hands were held out in a pleading gesture, and Romelle sat in the middle of the bed, her blankets drawn up to her chin. She clutched at the fabric, and alternated between sobbing in fear, and screaming her head off. Lotor wondered if she even took the time to register the things Sabbath was saying, so panicked was she.
Sabbath didn’t take his eyes off of Romelle, but by his agitated movements, Lotor knew the Drule was aware that he was in the room. “Sabbath…” Lotor began, trying to draw the Drule’s attention to him.
“I only wanted to talk to her!” Sabbath cried out in Drule, sounding agonized in the moment. He really didn’t understand what was going on, or why Romelle was reacting in such a bad manner to his presence.
“I know. I believe you.” Lotor answered back in Drule, knowing now was not the time to try and force Sabbath to speak in Basic. He heard footsteps behind him, and cursed, Allura peering into the room.
“Romelle!” She called out to her cousin, and though Romelle didn’t dare take her eyes off Sabbath, she seemed to wilt in relief.
“Allura, thank the gods! Help me!”
“I will. I am!” Allura assured her. “Lotor’s got everything under control.” He appreciated the amount of fate his mate had in him, Lotor moving in such a way as to block Allura from stepping any further into the room.
“Sabbath…I know you must be confused…” Lotor said, and the Drule snorted, hardly amused. “And upset…”
“Upset doesn’t begin to cover it!” retorted Sabbath. “My mate is rejecting me? Why?” An anguished moan from the Drule, Sabbath inching closer to the terrified Romelle. “All I want to do is love her….why won’t she let me?”
His words had Lotor wondering just what Sabbath had tried to do with Romelle, the prince squinting in the darkness to try and see if there was any scratches on the Drule’s arms. Lotor had no doubt that Romelle would act the hellion to defend herself, even though right now she sat perfectly still save for the trembling of her body. “You’re scaring her.” Lotor pointed out, and Sabbath reacted, eyes flashing with anger.
“Don’t you think I know that?! But why? Why…” he extended his arm towards Romelle, fingers falling short of touching her. She reacted all the same, lashing out with her one arm, slapping his hand away. That only upset the Drule further, he moaned as though in pain. At least Romelle didn’t scream in response, returning her hand to clutch at her blanket.
“She’s not like us.” Lotor explained. “She’s human. They don’t believe in the same things we Drule believe in. They have no concept of love at first sight.” Sabbath muttered some curses under his breath at that, but was otherwise silent. “She’s scared, and won’t understand why you are coming near to her…”
“Then make her understand!” Sabbath snapped back, his voice a gruff growl.
“It will take time.” Lotor pointed out. “You need to be patient with her…”
“Patient?” He repeated the word like it was a foreign concept, and Lotor knew how difficult it was to wait for one’s mate to come around to the Drule’s way of thinking. Especially in those early days of courtship, when one’s mate was refusing everything about the bond. Lotor knew he hadn’t have reacted any better than Sabbath, had nearly gone out of his head with grief when Allura was constantly rejecting him.
“Yes, patience. You have to take it slowly, and be kind and understanding with her. Or else you’ll lose her forever.” Lotor said, and Sabbath let out an anguished scream.
“I’ll die without her!”
“Yes, I know you will.” Lotor told him, and felt Allura tugging on his shirt.
“Oh Gods, what are they saying?” Romelle wanted to know. “They’re plotting to kill us all, aren’t they?”
“No Romelle, no!” Allura protested. “Lotor is trying to calm Sabbath down…aren’t you Lotor?
“Yes.” Lotor confirmed, and inched forward into the room. He kept an arm reached back so that he kept a hand on Allura, not wanting her to rush into potential danger. “No one is planning to kill anyone. He’s just confused.”
“Confused about what?” Came Romelles’ shrill cry, and Lotor hesitated, trying to debate whether it was worth telling her what was going on.
“About your reaction to him.” Lotor said at last, fearing what Romelle would do if she was told she was Sabbath’s mate.
“What did he expect, breaking into my room, accosting me in my bed!” Lotor winced at that, wondering just what Sabbath had done.
“I didn’t accost her!” Sabbath quickly said in Drule. “I just…”
“Just what?” Lotor prodded him, and Sabbath let out a mighty sigh.
“Just wanted….needed to see her.” He sounded mournful then. “I only pulled back the bed sheets to look at her. She’s so beautiful…my mate is pretty like a doll….”
“You just looked at her? You didn’t touch her or anything?” Lotor asked.
“I wish I had…” Sabbath answered. “I remember how she felt in my arms. So small and fragile, skin so soft and smelling so sweet…why does she deny me a simple touch?” He stared with all his yearning focused on Romelle, the look surely unnerving the princess.
“Humans are complicated.” Lotor said. “Especially the women. You can’t just walk up to them and announce they belong to you. You can’t just touch them any time you please. You have to earn the right…”
“Earn?” Sabbath sounded amazed.
“Yes. I speak from experience.” Added Lotor. “I don’t know how much you know about the situation between my mate and I, but those first days with Allura were torture. She was so scared, and I didn’t help matters. I tried forcing acceptance in her, and she cried often, both at my actions and my words. And all because she was human and didn’t understand a Drule’s need.” He sighed then, glancing at the treasure that was his mate. “I nearly lost her, all due to my own impatience…I may not have her completely, but I am hopeful that given enough time, my mate will come to accept me fully. And then we can be together as all mates should.”
“I want my mate to accept me…” Sabbath said. “How can I do that?”
“You have to step away from the bed first of all.” Lotor told him. “You have to be prepared to deal with constant rejection. Especially from a woman who is not fond of our people. I don’t envy you the task you have in front of you. It will be difficult, and will cause you grief, but if you are patience and prepared to see it out through ti’s end, you may just be rewarded with her love.”
“I want her love…” Lotor knew Sabbath was struggling with the concept of a mate’s love having to be earned, rather than given immediately.
“Right now all you have is her fear.” Lotor pointed out. “Please…step away from her, and allow my mate to comfort her cousin. She will do her best to calm her down, and explain the situation to her.”
“She’ll make my mate accept me?” Sabbath asked, and Lotor shrugged.
“Allura can only explain what is going on. It will be up to Romelle to decide what she feels about you. But don’t build your hopes up for instant approval. Not tonight, not after the scare you gave her.”
“Fine..” Sabbath sighed, and was backing away from the bed. Romelle stayed still, watching him, even as Lotor stepped aside to let Allura rush to her cousin’s side. Allura climbed onto the bed, and touched Romelle’s shoulder. That had the princess dropping the blanket, Romelle erupting into tears and turning to face Allura. At Romelle’s tears, Sabbath moaned, grief showing on his face as he took a step forward.
“Sabbath!” A warning from Lotor, the Drule prince rushing over to the man.
“It’ll be okay Romelle.” Allura was saying, hugging an arm around her cousin, the other hand busy stroking her hair. “Nothing bad will happen to you now.”
“Oh Allura, it was horrible!” Romelle sniffled, clinging to her cousin for support. “I woke up, and that…that monster was towering above me, with this LOOK in his eyes.” She shook, voice caught on a sob. “I thought he was going to hurt me!”
“I would never hurt you!” Sabbath protested in basic, but Romelle ignored him.
“I didn’t know what was going on, but I wasn’t going to make it easy fro him!” She continued. “I screamed and I screamed, and thank the gods someone heard me!” Lotor privately thought it would have been impossible not to hear her shrill screaming, the Drule prince drawing Sabbath over to the window.
“Will your absence from the warship be noticed?” Lotor asked, voice soft.
“It doesn’t matter.” Sababth answered morosely. “I’m not going back. Not without her…” He wasn’t looking at Lotor, but staring at the bed where Romelle and Allura sat embracing. “I wish that was me holding her…”
“Yes, I know.” Lotor sighed. “I don’t envy the road ahead of you. Romelle is a difficult woman…”
Lotor kept his own thoughts about that to himself, just speaking as though Sabbath hadn’t interupeted. “And she harbors much animosity towards the Drule. She was one of the women imprisoned onboard the warship….I protected them from being tortured, but she still hasn’t forgiven me for taking her prisoner in the first place.”
“Thank you for keeping her safe.” Sabbath said, tone earnest. “If she was hurt, it would kill something inside me.”
“I know.” Lotor said seriously.
“What else can you tell me about my mate?” Sabbath wanted to know. “What’s she like?”
“Romelle…?” Lotor hesitated, not sure how to tell Sabbath he thought his mate was a shrew of a woman. “Ah…she is….fiesty.” He decided to leave it at that, and let Sabbath learn first hand the type of personality Romelle had.
In fact, he was getting a taste of it right now, Romelle having recovered enough to angrily shout, “Why hasn’t that filthy savage been arrested yet? Why haven’t they both?! It’s clear they’re conspiring against us!”
“Romelle no.” Allura protested. “And no one is going to be arrested. Lotor came to help you, and that other man….well…”
“That other man what?” Romelle demanded, shooting a glare towards Lotor and Sabbath.
“He uh…” Allura was hesitating, looking almost sheepish. “it’s complicated why he did what he did.”
“He’s a pervert, plain and simple!” Romelle snapped back.
“Oh no, not that!” Allura protested. “It’s…well…remember when Lotor said he loves me? That he said I am his mate?”
“What about it?” Romelle asked, still glaring at Sabbath.
“Well….to a Drule, love is at time simpler and yet more complicated than what we humans know. They only have one love…and they know that love from the first sight….from the first smell…” Romelle had finally turned to look at Allura, eyes narrowed in suspicion.
“What are you trying to tell me?”
“Well…” Allura seemed to be bracing herself for her cousin’s reaction. “It’s…that Drule…is…in love with you.” Romelle did a slow blinking of her eyes, seeming stunned. “He says you’re his mate…”
Romelle turned her head back and forth, glancing from Allura to Sabbath. Silence reigned supreme for a few seconds, Sabbath turning hopeful. Lotor wasn’t sure what Sabbath expected, but he was surely not prepared for the mean snicker of laughter Romelle let out.
“Romelle!” Allura cried aghast.
“Me? A Drule’s mate? Oh that’s rich!” Romelle snorted in amusement. “What will these savages come up with next to land a woman in their bed?!”
“It’s not a line we use to trick women into our beds!” Lotor said angrily. “It’s the truth. Like it or not, Sabbath is in love with you, and Gods know he couldn’t have gotten a worse match for his mate!”
Romelle gasped at that, and Sabbath let out a low growl. “Don’t speak like that to her!”
It was Lotor’s turn to blink slowly, the prince trying to mask his expression. “I meant no offense to you.” It was a half lie, Lotor meaning it all to Romelle. “But she needs to understand it’s not a trick, and that it’s a real love you feel. It will solve a lot of heart ache in the long run for you both.”
“I will help her to understand.” Announced Sabbath, and it was Romelle who answered, voice snide.
“You will do no such thign!” She snapped. “I am NOT your mate, and I will not be doing anything with you! I want you out of my room! Out of my sight. Now!”
“Romelle….be reasonable…” Allura said, and Romelle turned on her.
“I am being reasonable. It’s distasteful to me to even think of the idea of that creature thinking he can be in love with me! I don’t understand how you can tolerate that prince of theirs, but I certainly will not be doing anything to entertain these foolish notions! Not even to save the planet!” Romelle’s voice was getting louder with each word, the girl practically screaming now. Sabbath reacted to her agitation and animosity, the Drule stepping towards the bed. “Stay back!”
Lotor sighed, and grabbed Sabbath’s arm, drawing him back towards him. “I think for now, we should leave.” He said. “She won’t be calming down any time soon. Maybe after some rest, things will look better in the morning.”
“I won’t change my mind if that’s what you’re thinking!” Romelle snapped. “I’m not as easy to sway as my cousin is.”
“Watch your tone human!” Lotor snarled, and Sabbath growled. “I will not have anyone, even your mate insulting mine!” He glared at Sabbath, his eyes daring the Drule to protest. Sabbath stared back a moment, before looking away, suitably cowed.
“You’ll feel better after a night’s rest…” Allura said, but Romelle was shaking her head no.
“I won’t feel better until all the Drules are gone from our planet!”
“We’re working to do just that.” Lotor muttered, and then they heard a loud voice out in the hall.
“Don’t try to stop me!” It was Nanny’s heavy accent they heard, and from the sound of the hurried footsteps, she was fast approaching Romelle’s room. “I don’t care what’s going on, I won’t stand around here and leave matters in the Drule’s hands. You should all be ashamed of yourselves, leaving princess Romelle alone like that!”
“Nanny!” Romelle cried out, voice taking on a tearful edge to it. It was clear to Lotor she was preparing to play up the traumatized victim aspect of her encounter with Sabbath.
Nanny burst into the room, and took quick stock of the situation. Her face hardened at the sight of the two Drules, even as she hurried over to the bed. Romelle was already crawling past Allura, to fling herself into Nanny’s waiting arms. “Oh Nanny, I was so afraid!”
“There, there. Nanny is here. Nanny won’t let anyone harm you, let alone these nasty Drules!” Another vicious glare at Lotor and Sabbath, Nanny practically growling. “Just what is going on in here?! Who is that Drule?! What are you plotting?!”
“It’s no plot Nanny.” Allura said, but Nanny would have none of it.
“It’s true Madame.” Lotor interjected. “Sabbath meant no harm to Princess Romelle. He merely wanted…”
“Merely wanted to what?” Nanny demanded, hugging Romelle protectively.
“He merely wanted to admire her.” Lotor finished up, knowing how lame that sounded.
“He thinks he’s in love with me!” squeaked out Romelle, and Nanny gasped. “He’s as bad as Lotor, trying to claim a princess for his own lusts!”
“Romelle!” Allura snapped. “Lotor is genuine when he says he loves me, and I have no doubts that this Sabbath is any less.”
“How can you say that?” Romelle demanded. “You don’t really believe in this mating nonsense, do you?!”
“I believe more than you do, that’s for certain.” Allura insisted.
“If be broke into the princess’ room, he should be arrested!” Nanny added. “I will not have the Drule thinking they can come and go as they please in the castle.”
“This castle is first and foremost my home.” Allura retorted. “I decide who will and will not end up in the dungeons. Sabbath is merely confused and he meant no harm to my cousin. He shouldn’t be punished for a mistake…”
“He has no business breaking into a lady’s room!” sniffed a haughty Nanny. Romelle was nodding in agreement. “If he wants to admire a woman’s beauty, he should do it from afar.” Added Nanny.
“I’m sure Sabbath will take that into consideration for the future….” Allura said, and Lotor nearly laughed out loud at the thought of Sabbath being able to keep his distance from Romelle for any amount of time.
“There will be no future between him and I!” Romelle snapped, and Sabbath made a protesting sound. “There will not!” She added for effect, glaring at the Drule.
“I think we’ve all had enough excitement for one night…” Allura said loudly. “I think it best if we all return to our rooms.”
“Yes…” Lotor agreed. “I’ll just take Sabbath into my custody, and explain how things are done here on Arus.”
“He should be arrested!” insisted Nanny. “And so should you!”
“Me?” Lotor was confused.
“Yes, you! You probably had him come here to kidnap Romelle. You’ve been working all this time with the Drule, we’re fools to think you’d do otherwise!” Nanny exclaimed.
“Nanny no!” Allura protested. “I trust Lotor. I know he wouldn’t act against my best interests. That you can’t see that…” She shrugged, frustrated. Nanny seemed to echo Allura’s frustration, the woman barely restraining the anger in her voice.
“It pains me that you are so trusting of him. That you won’t dare consider he might be planning to betray us!”
“He’ll never do enough to earn your trust, will he?” Allura demanded with a sigh. “I can only hope the rest of my people aren’t as close minded as you are, Nanny!” The woman gasped at that, seeming shocked at what the princess had said. “I’m tired.” Allura finished up as she moved off of Romelle’s bed. “I’m returning to my room. And I don’t want to hear about any Drule, be they Lotor or Sabbath being thrown in the dungeons.”
“Fine.” Nanny has pursed her lips together, looking as though she had tasted something sour. “Good night Princess Allura.”
“Good night.” Allura took the time to look each person in the eye, saving her last look for Lotor. Her expression softened as she looked at him, she offered a sad smile before walking out of the room. Lotor waited just a few seconds, and began dragging Sabbath towards the door. Romelle gasped when they drew near, and Nanny turned in such a way that she put the frightened princess behind her, glaring all the while at the two Drules.
“Romelle…” Sabbath had opened his mouth, tone beseeching as he gazed at his mate. Lotor continued to pull on his arm, shaking his head no.
“Leave it alone for now.” He advised, and managed to pull Sabbath out of the room. Sabbath seemed to sag in place once outside, and Lotor patted him awkwardly on his back. “Come.” He said, fingers still tight on the Drule’s arm. He didn’t trust Sabbath not to run back into Romelles’ room in an attempt to reason with her. “Things will look better in the morning…” He held back a sigh, Lotor hoping he was right about that.