Rules 14

King Anador was already seated when Lotor arrived for the evening’s meal. The bearded man was ignoring his entree, focused on the paperwork spread out before him. “Don’t tell me all that is stuff to do with the wedding!” Lotor exclaimed. “If Corral makes this wedding any more lavish, she’s going to bankrupt you.”

“Money won’t be a problem.” replied Anador. “Still got plenty of gold in the treasury. Besides…” He grinned. “I’ve sent out raiding parties to collect long over due tithes from my slave planets. They will bear the brunt of the wedding costs, not us. So don’t worry Lotor…” He finally looked up from his files. “Corral and I will not be your poor relations. Now sit! Sit!” He waved away the three men who were Lotor’s armed escorts. They went to stand against the wall, rigid as statues, though at the slightest signal from Anador, or a sign of Lotor making trouble, they would leap into action. “I keep telling you, my boy, when it’s just us family, you don’t have to wait to be granted leave to sit.”

“And yet I still must wait for your permission just to leave my room…” Lotor slumped down into a chair. “Or to go home.”

“I’m not going to get into that argument with you again, Lotor. Especially when you know it’s a dead end debate.”

Lotor sighed. “The whole idea of Corral and I having a future, happy or otherwise, IS also another dead end idea. Sir, I don’t love your daughter. Why can’t you see that?”

“Why can’t you see past this love issue, and see that this union would benefit so many?” Anador sighed. “Just drop it Lotor. You’re marrying my daughter, and that is final. Now eat…” He grimaced. “Cook prepared a rare Drule delicacy…Doom blood slugs…” He lifted the cover off the dish, and Lotor saw the writhing worms moving about. “Extra rare.”

“No thank you.” Lotor looked ill. “The only person on Doom who actually eats that crap is my father, and people who are trying to curry favor with him. I am not one of them.”
“…I guess then, we should toss this into the trash.” Anador looked relieved that no one was going to eat them. “I doubt Corral will want a taste.”

“Anymore treats I should know about?” asked Lotor.

“Just trying to give you a little slice of home…and no…no more Drule treats on the menu for tonight…or for the wedding…” He shuffled through the papers till he found the latest draft of the wedding banquet’s menu. “Someone get rid of that dish before Corral arrives.” He quickly slashed off the blood worms from his list.
“And where exactly is your lovely daughter?” asked Lotor.

“Why Lotor, you managed to say that without the slightest hint of sarcasm…” Anador made a note to have a small dish of blood worms prepared in case Zarkon desired them. “And you came to dinner tonight, without your usual gloomy look of a man condemned to death…careful there Lotor. One might start to think you were beginning to accept your fate.”

“Hardly!” scoffed Lotor. “So that’s really all paper work to do with the wedding?”

“Mostly.” Anador nodded. “Plus some forms to sign allotting more ships and men to the Arus siege. Even some day to day kingdom concerns. Nothing you need to worry about.”

“Actually, I disagree.” interjected Lotor. “If I’m to marry Corral, all this…” He gestured at the paperwork. “Will be mine. I’ll need to know how the Demos Empire runs, and how to maintain it’s prosperity.”

“It’s probably not that different from the Drule Empire.” replied Anador. “And it’s not as though you will have to worry about either one of them for a long time yet.”

“I won’t?” frowned Lotor.

“I plan to be involved with the running of things long into my old age. Which means you and Corral won’t have any responsibilities to worry about.” He winked. “You two can enjoy being young and married. Why…it’ll be like a never ending honeymoon!!”

“Great.” Lotor said dryly. Inwardly he was fuming. Here he was, being forced to marry Corral, and now he wasn’t even going to reap any of the benefits! He had been consoling himself with thoughts that if he actually had to go through with this wedding farce, at least then he’d get to take control of the Demos Empire. But now it seemed he’d have to wait for Anador to kick the bucket, just like he’s been forced to wait for Zarkon to die, before he ever got his hands on any real power. Lotor had the sudden terrifying image of being a decrepit old man before he ever got onto the throne.

Anador smiled, thinking Lotor excited over thoughts of being young, and carefree…how many young lovers got to live life free from worries and job stress? It was an enviable position…no wonder Lotor was excited! He could almost see Lotor’s resolve softening, soon enough his son in law would be saying, “Allura who?”

“All rise for her Serene Royal Highness, the Princess Corral!” announced the butler.

“So much for foregoing formality.” muttered Lotor, as Anador rose to his feet.

“Lotor, in order to achieve perfect harmony in your life, it’s important to indulge women in all their eccentricities and cave in to their desires. Especially…” He smacked his hand against Lotor’s head. “Towards your future bride. Now stand up!”

Muttering curses under his breath, Lotor stood. “And be polite!” hissed Anador, as the guards pulled open the doors. Corral entered, a sky blue dress of silk, it’s skirts flowing out behind her. Her veil was removed, for Anador was family, and Lotor as her future husband had earned the right to gaze upon her face. The guards and servants were also exempt, the help being not worthy for consideration as people that mattered. Although they were never to look directly at her when she went without her veil, having to content themselves with sidelong glances of her breath taking beauty. It was a special pleasure many peasants, and most nobles did not get to see. A highborn Demosian female’s face unclothed. And Corral’s was extraordinary in it’s loveliness…pale, smooth skin, flawless except for one tiny beauty mark near her mouth, her lips colored a pale red by their own natural pigmentation.
“Father…” She curtsied, one hand demurely over her breast, as she pressed down the top’s low cut décolletage, to keep anything from spilling out. Anador bowed his head in acknowledgment, and Corral turned towards her future husband. “Lotor.” she ignored his moody grunt, rising on tip toe to brush her lips against his cheek. Lotor had to force himself rigid, to keep from bolting from her touch. She smiled at him, waiting…he sighed, pulling out her chair. She nodded her thanks, and sat, adjusting her skirts.

———————————————————————————————————-

Dinner was the same as all the others he had spent on Demos. Boring, and seemingly near endless. Talk had mainly been between Corral and her father, Lotor refusing to be drawn into the conversation. After desert had been served, talk had predictably turned to the wedding. Lotor had to stifle a bored yawn, and fight to keep from falling asleep head first in his mocha ‘del sola!
“Hmm…what was that?” Lotor blinked. He thought he head Corral say something interesting.

“I was just telling daddy I changed the wedding’s color scheme again.” She explained.

“Oh.” He had been wrong.

“Well daughter dear, you’ll have to make a final decision soon.” Anador said, with a lenient smile. “The wedding is this weekend.”

Lotor choked, coughing up his drink. “Wh…what?!” He managed to gasp out. “So…so soon?”

“Not soon enough for me beloved.” Corral smiled at him.

“I…I hadn’t realized a date had been set.” Lotor frowned.

“Oh, we didn’t want to worry you about that.” Anador explained. “I thought you might be able to focus on things…” He nodded pointedly at his daughter. “Without feeling a need to rush. There’s a certain freedom when the constraints of a time limit are abolished…love doesn’t like to be hurried along…” He sighed. Maybe in this case, love should have been forced to get things moving between Lotor and his daughter.

“How kind of you.” Lotor said frostily. “Delay it. I still need more time.”

“Oh, we can’t possibly do that. Most of the guests have already arrived.” explained Anador. “All the best hotels are booked because of the big event! Everyone is looking forward to this week’s festivities.”

“OOOH yes! Time for the wedding traditions!” squealed Corral. “Isn’t it exciting Lotor? By week’s end we shall be joined as one!”
“Yeah…exciting. Just the word I would use to describe it.” Lotor said sarcastically.

“Cheer up Lotor…” Anador leaned towards him, lowering his voice to a whisper. “At least you have the bachelor’s party to look forward to.” Grinning over that, the King gathered up his papers. “Good night dear.” He kissed his daughter on the cheek. “Night Lotor.” And left the engaged pair to be alone with each other…under, of course, the watchful eyes of the guards.

“Well…”

“Well…” Corral glanced down at her plate.

“So…” Lotor absentmindedly swirled his fingers in his wineglass.

“So…” Corral sighed, realizing this was going to be another long night of drawn out silences. Her father had told her it was just Lotor’s nerves that left him so tongue tied. He claimed it was perfectly natural, that all grooms got so nervous and quiet before the wedding. But they soon got over their shyness in time for the honey moon! Hopefully then the flood gates of communication would open…Corral certainly hoped so…right now, Lotor barely said ten words to her when they weren’t practicing Basic. He must be really bad at expressing himself…why, he didn’t even have a talent for meaningless small talk. She didn’t even know what his favorite food was, things he enjoyed doing, or what he liked, except for that blonde princess…”I think I’m going to go to bed early tonight…” Corral sighed again, standing up. “Good night Lotor.”

“Corral wait!” Quite unexpectedly, he reached out, catching her by the wrist.

“Ye..yes?” She blinked, surprised.

“Do you have to go?”

“Um…no…not if you want me to stay…” Corral said. “Do you?”

“Yes Corral, I do…want you…” He got out of his chair. “To stay I mean.” She blushed, knowing full well he meant the want her part by the way he had stressed those words before finishing his sentence. He reached her side. “In fact…” And took hold of both her hands. “I’d like to get to know YOU better.”


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