It was the clinking of chains that put an end to Lotor’s fitful slumber. With a hoarse sounding moan issuing from his throat, Lotor opened his eyes, blinking rapidly against the sudden light that flooded into his cell. It took another moment for him to register that it was not Lapis standing next to him, but the Demosian King.
The balding King didn’t speak, too busy accessing what damage had been done. He was relieved to see it was all superficial wounds. The worst being a brown mottled bruise on Lotor’s collarbone, and a cut that had proved to be quite the bleeder.
“Have you also come to punish me for my treatment of your daughter these past few weeks?” Lotor asked, arching his eyebrow.
“No…” Anador held up a key ring, selecting the right one. “Not…” His hands paused over the manacles over Lotor’s wrists. “…that I don’t find you recent actions reprehensible. I could–SHOULD–kill you for misleading my daughter, for so cruelly playing on her feelings for you…”
“But you won’t.” Lotor guessed, quite correctly.
“No…I won’t.” confirmed Anador. “And it is not because I harbor any fondness for you, Lotor. You’re fast trampling to pieces any good feelings I–Corral, had for you son.”
“Next time I get kidnapped I’ll be sure to be on my best behavior.” Lotor said sarcastically. “I’ll take a few lessons on proper hostage etiquette.”
“Now stop that!” snapped Anador, for the first tme since Lotor had met him, showing signs of feeling real anger. “I am in no mood for any of your glib remarks! My little girl is in a lot of pain, pain YOU caused and I’ve half a mind to leave you down here to rot!!”
“I’m…sorry…” Lotor said. He really was sorry, if only because he no longer wanted to remain in this cold, damp dungeon. His shoulder muscles had gone numb from his arms being suspended over his head, his legs cramping in protest from being forced to kneel on the dirty floor for almost twenty hours.
“I almost believe you are.” Anador said, unhooking one of Lotor’s manacles. “If I didn’t know how capable you are when it comes to faking sincerity.”
The other manacle undone, Lotor let out a grateful sigh of relief, slumping down onto his bottom, long legs splayed out before him. Oh well…these pants were already ruined. “Oh…” Wincing, the prince inhaled sharply, experimentally curling and uncurling his arms, working the feeling back into them. “Your sister really did a number on me.” The cuts made by the slash of a whip were giving him a sharp stinging pain. Not that I haven’t had worse… He managed to stand, trying to ignore the charlie horse in his right leg. “Lapis is quite capable with the whip. Does she harbor a secret desire to be a domintrax?”
“Didn’t anyone ever tell you Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?” Anador asked, hands reaching out to offer support to the shaky on his feet prince.
“Yes, I’ve heard that saying.” Lotor shrugged off Anador’s hands, wanting to stand on his own. “But I am NOT the man to have hurt her. I’ve never met your sister until last night.” He made a face. “Somehow I don’t think family loyalty could explain away the anger she displayed.”
“Lapis has…issues with men.” That was all Anador would say about that.
“Issues, right.” Lotor snorted. “Just keeper her away from me.” A sneer crossed his lips. “Or even up the playing field. I do not consider whipping a man made defenseless by chains very sportsmanlike.”
“Hmph! There will be no repeat incidents of this…” He gestured at the chains hanging down from the ceiling. “OR of last night’s debacle.” Anador said. “If you make my baby cry again, there won’t be enough pieces left of you for Lapis to tear into.”
Lotor felt a shiver down his spine upon hearing those words. He tried to write it off as caused from being weak from blood loss. Or perhaps the cold from the dungeon causing that tingle. It was actually in acknowledgment to the dark promise stated in Anador’s words. The chilling in his bones, born form the fact Anador MEANT it. “So why are you giving me another chance?” He asked, trying to appear nonchalant. “I would think you’d be scouring the galaxy for a more suitable match for Corral.”
“I’m positive I could find one. A better man than you, a more loving, capable partner for Corral.” agreed Anador. “But…”
“There’s always a but.” muttered Lotor.
“I have put too much time and effort into this union. Not to mention an insane amount of money.” continued Anador. “Credits on wedding expanses, and the war effort. Money for ships, weapons, man power…You’ve cost me far too much to let you escape through my grasp.”
“And here I thought you actually cared about Corral’s feelings.” Lotor hissed. “You just care about a return on your investments!”
“That’s a lie! I do care about my daughter!” Anador shouted, hands curling into fists. “And don’t you ever say otherwise!”
“Then why…?!” Lotor cried out sharply, glaring at Anador.
“Unlike you, Corral is mindful of her duties to her people. She still wants to marry you.” Anador explained. “She is willing to go the more peaceful route. For that I am relieved. I have no desire for the war between Demos and Doom to escalate any further. Which it would most certainly do if I were to execute you for your actions!” He smirked at Lotor, teeth flashing. “Tempting as it may be.”
“I almost wish you would kill me.” Lotor said softly. “I have made it clear to everyone I wish to marry no other but Allura.”
“Would that we all could marry for love, instead of advantageous political alliances.” Anador said, sounding sad. He had hoped this man would have been both to his daughter. He sent a grateful prayer each night that he had been blessed to have taken a wife for love, and no other reasons. “Come…” He grasped Lotor by the arm. “My in-house physician can patch you up. He does amazing things with lasers. The bruises will be zapped away like that…” He snapped his fingers. “With no visible signs left to mar your complexion.”
“This is dreadful hospitality.” groused King Zarkon, a dozen guards, equally consisting of both Drule and Demosian youths, trailing a few feet behind him. He was glaring at the black clad man servant assigned to guide them through the castle. “I would think your King would have the decency to come greet me personally. Especially considering the great lengths he went through to force this situation to come to pass.”
“King Anador is currently indisposed, your most cruel heartedness.” The Demosian said, simpering and cowering before Zarkon. “If we had known you were to be arriving today, he would have made sure to be here.”
“I thought his intelligence network had ears everywhere.” harumphed Zarkon.
“You see sire? Nothing beats the far seeing eyes of a witch.” Hagger’s voice was oozing with confidence. “If he had employed a witch, she would have been able to predicate our early arrival.”
“Now now Hagger, we can’t fault Anador for his planet’s mystical disadvantages.” Zarkon said snobbishly. “Not all planets are blessed to harbor people capable of attuning to their magical energies.”
“That is true. Of course, it does take a superior intellect to master even the most basic spells.” bragged Hagger. Their guide and Demosian guard’s visibly bristled with anger, not liking the implied snubs the Drules were voicing.
“Hmph! It appears that is just one of many things I find inferior about these people.” Zarkon said in a staged whisper. “Oh, Boy!” Zarkon snapped, not bothering to have learned the guide’s name. “Where is your beautiful princess? Surely she could appear in her father’s place.”
“The princess is…otherwise engaged. A last minute bridal dress fitting.” He lied, not wanting to admit the princess had locked herself in her room because of the visiting Drule’s son.
“Hmph!” Zarkon pursed his lips. “I’m getting the distinct feeling I am being given the run around. At the very least, tell me you have my rooms prepared.”
“Of course! Nothing but the best for the mighty conqueror, King Zarkon!” The man exclaimed with feigned enthusiasm.
“I’ll hold you to that.” Zarkon said, turning to glance at Hagger. The witch had stepped closer to his right side, her body lightly pressing against his.
“There is something in the air sire…” Hagger murmured into his ear.
“Yes, I smell it too.” His nose wrinkled.
“I didn’t mean it like that!” Hagger sighed. “Can’t you feel it? The mood…there’s an aura of depression about the castle…something’s going on…”
“Then I order you to get to the bottom of it.” Zarkon said.
“I will…” Hagger’s eyes shifted away from Zarkon, taking note that Anador had just entered the room. Her eyes widened slightly as a very run down looking Lotor walked in behind the King, entering the hall via a side entrance. “Maybe I won’t have to expand my energies after all…” She murmured, before stepping away from Zarkon.
“Za…Zarkon!” Anador explained, shock almost rendering him speechless.
“Anador you old goat!” exclaimed Zarkon, barreling past the stricken man servant. “You’re as white as a sheet.” He turned his attention to Lotor. “Hello son.”
“Father…” Lotor croaked out, just as surprised as Anador was to see Zarkon. “What…what are you doing here?”
“You don’t think I’d miss my only son’s big day?” He kept on staring at Lotor, taking note of his disheveled state. “Lotor, you look…like crap. And it’s not because of pre wedding jitters. At least…” He chuckled. “Not all of it is to be blamed on the wedding. How’d you get a split lip?” His eyes narrowed. “And the torn clothes? Is that blood I see on that shirt?”
“It’s…it’s not what you think!” Anador said, his voice coming out too loud.
“I’ll TELL you what I think.” Zarkon announced. “You’ve kept him in the dungeons all this time, haven’t you? In hopes of cowing him into submission. Either it’s worked, or you’ve only letting him out now, because I was coming, and you wanted too hide what you had done.”
“NO!!” protested Anador. “Lotor has been treated as an honored guest, living in the lap of luxury.”
“It was all my fault, father.” Lotor said, surprising Anador. “I behaved boorishly to Corral, in an attempt to escape. It…it was just one of many such plans I formulated over the last few weeks.”
“HA! Prince Lotor, still being as troublesome as ever I see!” cackled Hagger.
“I don’t envy you all the headaches my boy must have caused you.” Zarkon grinned, but his eyes were cold, not full of mirth. “If it was up to me, I’d leave him in the dungeons right up to a minute before the wedding starts!”
“I felt such a fate not worthy of a man of Lotor’s high status.” Anador said stiffly, still offering words of platitude to the Drule ruler.
“That’s because you’re soft Andy. One of the many differences between us.” Zarkon replied.
“Don’t call me Andy…So Zarkon…what are you doing here so early?” Anador asked. “I did not expect you to arrive until the morning of the wedding.” If at all.
“Two words Anador.” Zarkon’s teeth flashed in a wide grin. “Bachelor party.”
Hagger let out a loud hissing sound, but other than that she managed to control her temper. Her feverently jealous disapproval of her King attending such an event would remain unvoiced. Zarkon, choosing to completely ignore her presence, smirked at Anador. “I hope you picked out a lot of beautiful women. I came here to dance!”
“HA!” snorted Lotor. “Since when do YOU care about such things?”
“Shush Lotor. Your father deserves to enjoy himself once in a while.” retorted Zarkon. “So Andy, how about it?”
“Don’t call me that!”
“Gonna be a lavish affair, yes?” continued Zarkon. “Food, wine, and naked women?”
“Oh yes.” agreed Anador, inwardly cursing. He had been considering canceling the event. He certainly didn’t mean to reward the disobedient prince with a bachelor party. Now with Zarkon expressing such an obvious interest, it would have to go on. “Ever hear of Lord Mika? He specializes in extraordinarily beautiful women.” He glanced at Hagger. “Not to mention handsome men.” The witch perked up. Perhaps she could find someone to pass the time with while Zarkon was out chasing skirts.