He had been sitting behind his desk, ink quill in hand as he considered the latest kingdom legislation before him. There was places on the document where Alfor had scratched out writing, rejecting some of which was on the paper. In red ink, he wrote his own proposals, the documents would then be handed over to the proper officials for their perusal, the men and women deciding if they could abide with the decisions Alfor had made.
He had almost finished with the document, ink quill poised to sign his name at the bottom of the page, when the door to his private office opened. Such was the force of it’s movement, that it slammed into the wall, rattling on it’s hinges. Alfor was startled, but he hid it well, jerking his quill away from the paper, and leaving only the slight ink blotch where his name should have went.
He was standing, turning to the door, even as he dropped quill for his sword. That weapon had been more for decoration than purpose, but Alfor knew how to use it with deadly intent. He relaxed his arm’s movements, when he saw that it was his daughter that had burst into the room, Allura’s eyes looking almost wild as she stared at him.
“Daughter?” Alfor spoke with a frown, not understanding the reason behind Allura’s violent entrance. Behind her, he could see Coran, the man bowing and offering numerous apologies. And past the advisor was several guards, the men looking sheepish to have allowed their princess to intrude on their King. “What is it? What is the meaning behind this sudden visit?”
“We need to talk.” Allura said, and promptly slammed shut the door to his office. Coran’s apologies were cut off mid sentence, Allura lifting a hand to smooth back her hair. He was too far away from her to be certain, but it looked as though her hand was shaking.
“Talk about what?” Alfor asked, not yet retaking his seat. “What has got you so worked up?”
Allura took in a deep breath, then exhaled, a question immediately following that action. “Just when were you going to tell me?!”
He did a slow blinking of his eyes, not needing to feign his confusion. “Tell you what, Allura?”
She seemed exasperated then, and moved to approach his desk. “About the meeting with King Lotor and the Ranseyans!”
“I haven’t had the time…” Alfor began, and she shook her head no. “I’ve been busy Allure. There’s a lot of work going into this arrangement between our kingdoms and the Drules.”
“You should have made the time!” Allura exclaimed, and he frowned at her.
“You don’t dictate to me.” Her hands slammed onto the top of his desk, paper stacks rattling. “Allura!” A sharp warning from Alfor, the man reaching out to steady a stack of documents. “Control yourself.”
She seemed to think better of whatever she had been about to say, Allura nodding slowly. “You’re right, I’m sorry. But father? You have no right to keep this from me!” He didn’t try to pretend, Alfor having a sinking feeling he knew what she was on about. “I know.” Continued Allura, eyes locking with his. “I know all about King Lezard’s proposal to bind the Drules to the humans through marriage.”
“Is that all you can say?!” Allura demanded plaintively. “Father, how could you not ask me how I feel about this?!”
“It’s not going to happen, so I felt you didn’t need to know.” He gave her a shrewd look, one she fidgeted under. “Just who told you about this marriage proposal?”
“What does it matter?” asked an evasive Allura.
“There’s only a few people who even know about this. I don’t know about Lezard’s people, or Lotor’s but I trust my own to keep silent.” Alfor stated. “They wouldn’t have spoken out of turn, not about this. So someone else must have told you…” His daughter continued to fidget, and Alfor sighed. “It was King Lotor, wasn’t it?”
“Yes.” She finally admitted. “I saw him earlier this day…while you were visiting the high priest in Altea.”
“He shouldn’t have told you.” Alfor grumbled, and Allura frowned.
“He’s dragging you into a mess that should not involve you.” Alfor retorted, then stared aghast at Allura’s reply.
“But I want to be involved!” She didn’t even look abashed at her exclamation, Allura staring almost defiantly at him. “Father…why will you not consider this alliance with the Drules?”
“We didn’t need to tie you to them in marriage to form an alliance.” Alfor snapped.
“But it can only strengthen relations between our people.” His daughter pointed out.
“We’ll find another way.” He insisted, earning another one of his daughter’s frowns.
“And what if…what if I had no problem pledging myself in marriage to Lotor?” Allura demanded, and Alfor let out a shocked sound.
“You can’t be serious!”
“Why wouldn’t I be?!” She asked, with her head cocked to the side. “Father…I have feelings for him.” Alfor began to shake his head, as if that could stave off her words. Allura simply raised her voice, sounding determined and impassioned. “I love him…I truly believe that I do!”
“You don’t even know him!” pointed out Alfor, and she laughed.
“Yes, I do, but since when has that ever mattered in a match between royals?” Her expression softened, Allura sincere. “I’ve gotten to know Lotor….not just in the days I spent as Merla’s captive, but those stolen moments leading up to the time on the ravager.”
“You have a crush on him…”
“It’s not a crush!” She insisted heatedly. “It’s genuine and real, and my heart hurts to think I would have to spend my life without him. Father…Lotor is a good man, kind and caring, determined and sincere. He knows about duty, in fact he spends too much of his life devoted to it. He’d never willingly pursue me if it meant displeasing you, upsetting the home he is making for his people…”
“And yet somehow he’s done enough for you to have feelings for him?” questioned Alfor, and she nodded.
“Yes! Oh he tried to stave it off, to keep me from losing my heart to him. But he could no more stop the ocean’s tide, than this love I feel for him. Father, I’ve been the aggressor, doing foolish things at times, to get him to notice me. And always, always he’s been the complete gentleman, trying to let me down, gently even.”
“Would that not mean he doesn’t have an interest in you?” It was a harsh question, one that hurt his daughter, and made her blink and turn red.
“He has an interest!” She insisted. “He would not be against this marriage. Did he not push for a chance to marry me at the meeting with the Ranseyans?!”
Alfor hesitated, remembering the many arguments he had had with Lezard, Lotor and Lenneth quietly enduring them. Lotor had been silent for many save one, and that had been the final argument they had had on the marriage. The Drule King had voiced his interest in Allura, wording it in such a way as to not be offensive. Alfor had quickly dismissed such a notion, not wanting Allura to be tied to the Drules and all the unpleasantness associated with them.
“They’ve done some horrible things.” Aflor said at last, instead of answering Allura’s question. “Not just to our people, but to you as well.”
“Father, time heals all wounds.” Allura’s voice was soft, the girl smoothing back her hair as though trying to show that her face had healed of all the injuries it had born.
“The physical scars may be gone, but what about the emotional and mental?!” Alfor demanded. “You never even told me all of what went down on that ship, on how you got those bruises and cuts in the first place.”
“It doesn’t matter. It was only a temporary pain that did no lasting damage. And my tormentors are dead.” She added, grim faced. “If I can forgive them for what happened to me, shouldn’t you do the same?!”
“And what of our people?” Alfor asked “High Priest Fordham and his congregation? Their were many of his flock tortured, and several women were mercilessly raped. Many of them do not want the Drules among us, do not want that reminder. Do you think they want to see their princess tied to the ruler of their tormentors?!”
“It might help the healing process.” Allura replied. “For both our peoples. The Drules may not have been beaten and raped, but some of them know about being tormented…”
“That was their King’s fault for keeping them aboard the ships.” Alfor retorted.
“But father, some of our people are not exactly being friendly to the Drule…” Allura pointed out. “The lizard like ones don’t even dare go into the capital, for fear of inciting some kind of riot with their presence. We need to make a gesture, one to both our peoples. Tying our houses together through marriage to show we do not fear any of the Drule.”
“It doesn’t work out that easily, and you have to realize that!” snapped Alfor, earning a frustrated look from his daughter. It softened his tone, Alfor moving around the desk to touch Allura’s shoudler. “Allura…”
“I think you’re being as prejudiced as any the others in Altea!” She jerked away from his hand, glaring at him with wet eyes. “This wouldn’t even be an issue if Lotor was human!”
Alfor paused, wondering if there was some truth to her words. “I don’t like to think his differences is what is making me hesitate over a marriage between you two.” He began slowly. “But…the fact is…you are of two different races. We don’t even know if you are compatible enough to have children!”
“There’s only one way to find out.”
“Allura!” Alfor gasp, scandalized.
“And it shouldn’t matter whether we can or cannot conceive a child.” Allura continued, ignoring the look he was giving her. “Father, I have enough love in my heart that I would be willing to adopt an orphan as my heir.”
“That’s practically unheard of for the royal line!” Alfor protested.
“But it’s been done in the past.” Allura retorted. “Not all the successors to the throne were born of the King and Queen, the people found a way to accept those children, and they’ll accept whoever becomes my heir as well.”
“You think you’ve figured it all out, have you?” demanded Alfor, and she nodded. “Allura…”
“Father please….” Her tone was pleading now, the girl turning to clasp her hands with his. “Please reconsider your stance. Please give me a chance to be happy, to be loved.”
“You really think he can do that for you?” Alfor asked, and again she nodded. “Has he ever once told you he loves you?”
“No but…” She worried at her lip, Allura clearly thinking carefully on his words. “He fought so hard to keep me at bay. To keep my heart and his from getting damaged.
If it’s not yet love for him, I know I can cultivate it to become that! He’s a gracious, and honorable man, and I could do no better than to end up with him as my husband.”
“He doesn’t even know our ways…” Aflor said, making a half hearted attempt to sway her mind.
“I’ll teach him! Just as I will learn about the Drules, and help to educate our people about them!”
“I would be more comfortable with you marrying Kesington or someone like him.” Alfor grumbled, and saw the distressed face she made. “Oh alll right. I will…consider this marriage. I’ll even speak personally to his highness, and extend my apologies for my dismissive attitude towards your union. If he impresses upon me the right attitude towards you, then…perhaps…”
“Oh say yes!” Allura picked up when he trailed off. “No ifs, ands, or maybes! It’s either yes or no, and I want very badly for you to give us your blessings!”
“You always have my blessings daughter. Even when I think you are being foolish.” Alfor managed a slight chuckle at that. “Now, go tell Coran to send a message to the Drules. I would meet with King Lotor at his convenience.”
She practically squealed, throwing her arms around him for a hug. Allura squeezed Alfor almost too tight, practically dancing in place as she pulled back. He tried to warn her against getting too excited, but she was already making a dash for the door. Coran and the guards were still loitering in the hallway, snapping to attention at the sight of their rulers. Alfor could only shake his head in a rueful manner, listening as Allura instructed Coran to get their fastest carrier pigeon.