She was standing cloaked in the shadows of the large Drule ship, Allura leaning against one of the ramp’s pillars. These pillars were made of collapsible metal, they would fold into each other as the ramp was raised upwards to meld seamlessly into the ship. No sign would remain of an opening, the ship proving impenetrable from the outside. Like so many things of the Drule, it was a work of wonder, like nothing the Arusians had ever made or dared dreamed of. It left her people eager to discover the Drule’s secrets, and many weren’t shy in trying to talk Lotor’s people into revealing all they knew.
But the Drules were being withdrawn, keeping what was a strong bargaining chip under closed lids. The Drules did not want to reveal too much until they knew for certain whether they would be allowed to remain, and that was currently up for discussion. Even now Lotor was meeting with King Alfor, and it was just one of many meetings they had had this past week.
Allura wasn’t sure what was taking them so long to decide, the girl having purposefully been left out of the meetings. Her father had always arranged for the meetings with Lotor to take place during her tutoring sessions, and by the time teacher Sashell finished with her, the Drule King was long since gone from the castle. It left her with no chance to see Lotor, a fact Allura found intolerable.
She could hardly believe that just over a week ago they had spent every waking moment together, and all due to their imprisonment at Merla’s hands. As unpleasant as much of that time had been, Allura had found moments she treasured, the girl constantly daydreaming about when Lotor had held her in his arms as they slept. She missed the conversations they had had, missed stealing touches off him. She couldn’t stand the fact that she was being made to go cold turkey without Lotor in her life, and so Allura had taken measures to purposefully meet with him.
Lotor didn’t know it yet, but she was waiting for him, Allura having arranged with Sashell to cut out of her studies early for once. It had come with a strict penalty, Sashell making her promise to spend twice the amount of hours on her school work for the next week and a half. Allura though felt it was worth it, if only she got a chance to see Lotor!
She wasn’t content with a brief encounter either, Allura wanting more than to just exchange hellos with the King. She hadn’t had the chance to speak to him since the night he had come swinging into her room, the dashing hero arriving not a moment too soon. It was her father who informed her of the going ons that led to that moment, Alfor revealing they had used one of the transports Merla and her people had taken to the temple.
It had been a stroke of fortune, one of Merla’s allies revealing the presence of the transports, all in hopes of earning a less severe sentence. The transports had been small ships, barely enough room for three people to fit in at a time. Alfor had put aside his misgivings to ride in one with Lotor, and it had been Commander Cossack who had driven the transport to the castle.
Once there, Lotor has used some sort of grappling line to swing down and into her room’s window, the King determined to save her. Allura tried no to think what would have happened if he had been a minute later, the girl knowing she was rapidly losing the match against Merla. Nor did she try to dwell on Merla’s final moments, even though a morbid sense of curiosity filled her at the peace that had entered Merla’s dying expression.
Allura sighed, and began playing with her hair, fingers running through the blonde curls in an attempt to fluff them up. She wanted to look her best for Lotor, she wasn’t ashamed to admit she was having a moment of vanity. She would have dressed in one of her best gowns, but Allura hadn’t had the assurance that Sashell would let her free early from her studies. It was a steep price she would have to pay, but it would be worth it to spend even five minutes alone with Lotor.
Not that she was content with the idea of so short a time, Allura determined to stall and wring out as much time as possible with the Drule King. As such she was shifting impatiently from foot to foot, hands now playing nervously with her skirt. A cool breeze ruffled her clothing and hair, the day sunny but cool, the first hint of fall carrying on the wind.
Within a few minutes she heard footsteps, their owners marching determinedly towards the ship. She straightened from her leaning, Allura smiling as she looked and met Lotor’s surprised gaze. “Greetings your highness.” She said, stepping towards him and his small entourage. He had met with her father, the two alone save for their scribes who would scribble down anything of importance that they may have said.
“Princess Allura…” She could feel his eyes on her as she did a low sweeping bow, Allura more intent on allowing him a glimpse down her bodice than showing so much respect. “What are you doing here? I mean…” Lotor seemed to have been thrown off guard by her appearance, the man stammering. “Shouldn’t you be with your tutor at this time?”
“Sashell graciously allowed me the rest of the day off.” She answered, straightening up. It was apparent by the grins of Lotor’s guards and scribe, the men had enjoyed the view she had offered with her bow. But she couldn’t tell if Lotor had even noticed, Allura trying not to frown. “I wanted to see you.” She added, and Lotor did a slow blink, trying to school his expression. “To speak with you. If you will give me but one moment…?”
“I shouldn’t…” Lotor began, and she stepped forward, Allura placing a hand on his arm. No one tried to stop her from touching the King, the guards grinning and nudging each other with their elbows.
“Oh? Why shouldn’t you?” Allura cocked her head to the side, studying him. He frowned, looking uncomfortable at her question. “Your highness please…” Her lips twitched, Allura fighting a smile. “Do not reduce me to begging.”
“I won’t.” Lotor quickly said, then address his men. He didn’t take his eyes off her though, and she wondered what he feared she’d do. “Go on ahead. This shouldn’t take long.”
“Yes, your highness.” Came the chorused back answer, the Drules moving to walk up the ramp. Lotor didn’t appear ready to move, looking as though he wanted to have the conversation with her right in the ship’s shadow. She almost frowned then, Allura knowing that would not do, and she took possessive hold of his arm.
“Walk with me.” Allura urged, and was already dragging Lotor away from the ship. It took up most of the inside courtyard, Allura leading him closer to the building. There was benches laid out at intervals, with patches of flowers winding around their legs. But she ignored the benches, and the people who stopped to stare at her and Lotor.
“What did you want to speak to me about?” Lotor asked at after they had been walking around the courtyard and ship for at least two minutes.
“Oh…this and that…” Allura said, trying to evade the question. “We haven’t gotten a chance to see each other since that night.” She put a pout into her words, Allura looking sideways at him. “I missed you, your highness.” He said nothing to that, and she sighed. “Did you not miss me? Even a little?”
“Allura!” She interrupted his warning tone, tightening her grip on his arm. “I’ve told you before. Call me Allura.”
“It’s really not proper…” Lotor began, and again she interrupted him.
“After what we’ve been through, I think formalities should be damned!” She took special pleasure in saying his name, Allura practically purring now. “Lotor…please. Indulge me in this…”
“All right…fine.” He was doing this grudgingly though, speaking her name with a sigh. “But I really think your father won’t like this, Allura.”
“It’s just names.” Allura said innocently. “And we are supposed to be fostering a friendship between our people.”
“I don’t think your father wants you getting that friendly…” muttered Lotor. “Not with me.”
“Oh? Is that why all your meetings are arranged when I am too busy to attend them?” She inquired, and Lotor just shrugged. “How are they going by the way?”
“They’re…I suppose they’re going fine.”
Allura was worried by his answer, not thinking it sounded very promising. “Is my father giving you a difficult time about staying on Arus?”
“No, not your father. Not really.”
“What do you mean?” She asked with a frown.
“It’s the other kingdoms.” Lotor sighed. “Ranseya and Altrexia. They’re, well…undecided on whether we Drules should be allowed to remain on Arus.”
“I wasn’t aware they had a say in the matter.” Grumbled Allura, and Lotor gave her an odd look.
“Its their world too…”
“But it’s OUR kingdom that wants to give you land to start on!” Allura quickly pointed out. “Why should it matter to them if you Drules live on our land.”
“They are wary of us Drules for many reasons.” Replied Lotor. “Merla has planted the seeds of doubt and fear all over Arus. They know what she tried to do, know what would have happened if the humans had fought each other. They don’t trust us now because of it.”
“They shouldn’t be blaming you for what Merla and her allies tried to do! That was only a small percentage of the Drule…” protested Allura.
“I don’t know what the Ranxeyans and Altrexians believe…” Lotor admitted. “But between the attempts at inciting war between the three kingdoms, and the incident at Pelphine temple, those people aren’t quick to welcome us into their fold.” He paused then, sighing. “I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but the Queen of Altrexia has threatened Alfor with war should he allow us Drules to move into the kingdom without her expressed permission.”
“No!” gasped Allura, horrified.
“King Lezard and Queen Lenneth are maintaining a more neutral stance. They’ve agreed to meet with King Aflor and I to discuss the terms of the Drules making a home on Arus. We’ve extended the invitation to Altrexia’s queen but…” He shrugged. “We’ve little hope she’ll actually show.”
“This is horrible!” exclaimed Allura. “How can she be so…so close minded and threatening?!”
“She’s scared Allura.” Lotor told her, and Allura shook her head.
“More likely she’s hungering for an excuse to make war with my father!”
“It’s an excuse your father is hesitant to give her…” Lotor replied, and she sighed.
“I’ll have to speak to him about that.”
“Allura.” Lotor said her name as a protest, but she shook her head, curls bouncing into disarray.
“No, Lotor. She…no one should be allowed to blackmail and threaten my father into deciding against giving your people a home!” She was fired up, furious with Altrexia’s queen. She’d even be mad at her father if he allowed himself to be bullied by the threat of war with that kingdom. “She won’t win.” Continued Allura. “Between my father’s army, and your people’s help, we’ll hold her at bay. She’ll have to concede…”
“Allura no! A war is the last thing I want to cause!”
“But…” Allura frowned. “You can’t just give up on Arus. You’ll be letting Merla win if you leave…” When he said nothing to that, she continued, almost merciless in the moment. “You know I am right…”
“I know.” He agreed at last, but with a grimace. “Merla would have liked nothing more for us to either fight, or for my people to have to leave this world. She was content to ruin everything if it meant she couldn’t rule.”
“I guess that’s why she looked so…so happy as she died.” Mused Allura, and Lotor snorted.
“I think it was because she knew she was avoiding a lifetime of imprisonment. It’s strange but some people would prefer death to spending their life in a cell some where.”
“Oh….” They walked in silence for a few seconds more, and then Allura was blurting out. “She truly was selfish, to have done the things she tried to do!”
“No doubt about that.” Agreed Lotor. “She’s made it tougher for my people…many of the citizens of Altea are fearful of the Drule now…and all because of what happened at Pelphine temple!”
That much Allura knew, the girl sighing as she thought of how tense the relations were between those who had been at Pelphine Temple the night Yurak and Mogor had taken the congregation hostage. Her father had tried to make the people of Altea understand it was just the act of a few deranged Drule, but damage had been done, the people fearful, some wanting retribution.
Altea was only one of the many cities that made up her father’s kingdom, but it was also the largest. And more often than not, the opinion of the people of Altea
affected the opinions of the other town and cities.
There was also the matter of the temple itself, it’s workers having suffered far longer at the hands of the Drules. High Priest Fordham who had once been the most vocal of supporters for the Drules, was now struggling to find acceptance over what they had done. He had had a harsh disappointment to learn the Drules were not the Gods he so loved, and worse yet to have suffered watching those former idols of his, torment and abuse the people of the temple. It was only the fact that he was a man of the temple, that he even considered forgiving the Drules, and only because part of their scriptures talked often about the importance of forgiveness.
Fordham was not yet ready though to work on preaching that forgiveness to the people of Altea, the priest retiring to his chambers often. He mainly sought to self mediate, seeking some kind of answers from his Gods. There would be little chance of help from the holy men and women of the temple, not until their high priest came to grips with all that had happened.
“Have you explained to Ranseya and Altrexia what your people can do for them?” Allura asked Lotor. “The improvements that can be made to their daily lives?”
“We have….and they are cautious about that. Altrexia’s Queen fears what these advancements will do for Alfor. She doesn’t want him to get a hold of technology that will allow his kingdom to dominate hers…Queen Lenneth and King Lezard are in agreement that any secrets and technology should be evenly distributed among the three kingdoms.”
“Well, it is only fair…” Agreed Allura with a sigh. “When is the meeting between kingdoms set to take place?”
“In five day’s time.” Lotor told her. “It’s going to be held on the borders between this kingdom and Ranseya. Altrexia has refused to consider a temporary treaty with Ranseya, they’re continuing their hostilities between each other…”
“I don’t think they’ll ever stop…” Allura muttered. “Short of one absorbing the other’s territory into their kingdom that is!”
“I’m just glad they don’t have access to the kind of weapons that devastated Doom!” Lotor sad with a shudder. “One of the things your father and I agree on, is to not develop Arus’ weaponry. If there’s to be wars, your people must fight it with your own technology. It’s…safer that way for everyone. Not everyone is in agreement about this, and I hope at the meeting to show them the devastating effects our wars had on our home world.”
“I’m sure King Lezard and Queen Lenneth will be reasonable when they see the holograms of Doom.” Allura said, trying to give him a reason to not look so sad. “I mean no one who is sane would want that to be repeated here.”
“Right you are. But sometimes greed and hate is stronger than doing the right thing, the sane thing.” Lotor grumbled with a sigh.
“Why do I get the feeling you think Altrexia is like that…” Allura muttered.
“I honestly don’t know what to think.” He said. “I have my doubts, I must admit. But I am trying to retain hope.”
“You need to come speak to me more often.” He gave her a curios look, Allura risking a smile at him. “I am confidant I have enough hope for both of us to have!”
“You just may…” Lotor agreed, the first real smile appearing on his face for today.
“So it’s agreed then?” Allura asked, still smiling. “You’ll no longer visit with my father without coming to see me afterwards…?”
“Say yes!” She commanded, bringing them to a halt as she turned to face him. “Otherwise I will be forced to take measures to guarantee I have your attention.”
His lips twitched, trying to quirk into a bigger smile. “Why do I get the feeling I won’t like what you do?”
“Keep saying no to me, and you’ll find out.” Allura threatened, still maintaining her grip on his arm.
“Allura…” He started to say, and then his communicator beeped. She was angry at the interruption, Lotor taking out the device, and speaking into it in Drule. From the relaxed state of his body, she got the feeling he was grateful for the distraction the communicator offered him. She knew enough of his body language to know Lotor faked the emergency he claimed was occurring on the ship, the King pulling out of Allura’s grip with a rushed out apology.
She was left standing in the courtyard, fuming silently to herself as Lotor rushed towards the front of his ship. Allura was tempted to rush after him, but ultimately decided to hold onto some of her dignity. At least for now, Allura plotting, and wondering just how to hold onto Lotor’s attention for longer than a few minutes!