The planet was in a festive mood, even the poorest of towns were decorated as finely as the city capital of Doom. And all in a manner designed to show off the wealth of the empire, and their joy in the impending nuptials of their King. Lotor could barely remember to laugh at how misguided he had been when he first arrived on his home world, assuming the festivals were in honor of HIS most recent and most successful of war campaigns.
He had been sent to the far off reaches of the Denubian Galaxy, and it was there that Lotor, crown prince of Doom had laid a path of devastation to all who oppose the Drule Empire. Many planets had fallen under his attack, and he came back with riches to gift his king with. Lavish treasure wasn’t the only items he brought with him, he also delivered the severed heads of his father’s enemies, those faces frozen in horror and mounted on silver platters for the King’s trophy room.
Lotor knew his father would enjoy displaying those heads almost as much as he would enjoy the added wealth to his coffers. And yet, when he arrived in the castle, he noticed a strangeness in the air, servants and slaves running back and forth, nobles whispering furtively. He could tell something was happening, something that extended beyond a homecoming welcome to a successful prince.
He’d be on planet Doom for less than an hour, when he would first hear of Allura of Arus. Lotor would learn that name from two gossiping maids, the females not realizing their prince was looming over them until after the name had come spilling out of their mouths. They had been giggling with pleasure, but it died down on a gasp when they realized just who was standing behind them.
With hasty curtsies, and muttered out excuses, the two maids would run off, leaving Lotor confused but interested. He’d continue to skulk around the castle, trying to learn more about this Allura, and just what was the reason behind the decorations that were being displayed all over the castle’s interior.
He’d only get whispers here and there, people speaking about a bride, and about a newly conquered planet. A lot of furtive glances were sent the prince’s way, the people watching him for his reactions, but being careful not to say too much. It wasn’t any wonder that soon Lotor began thinking a horrible thought. ~My father is planning to marry me off.~
He shuddered at that realization, wondering how and if it was possible to change his father’s mind about such a thing. Lotor certainly felt he was too young to get married, being only twenty-four years of age. What’s more, he had no interest in being tied down to one woman, Lotor leaving a string of lovers spread through out the galaxy. It was simple unacceptable to him the thought of marrying any time soon, and he was preparing himself for the fight that would surely ensue with his father.
He used the remainder of the hour to prepare his arguments, waiting for the King to call him to the throne room. Already his slaves were bringing in the gathered treasure, to show it off to the King and his court before delivering it to the castle’s vault. Lotor would be the last to arrive, and with him would come the presentation of their vanquished enemy’s heads.
Lotor was understandably nervous when he entered the throne room, feeling the eyes of the nobles on him. His father’s stare weighed him down heavily, Lotor shocked to find his palms had grown slick with nervous sweat beneath his gloves. He kept his outward appearance calm though, dropping to one knee to bow before the throne. His father watched with approval in his eyes, giving Lotor permission to stand.
It was then that Lotor would present the heads, but Zarkon would only give them a cursory glance. He was more concerned with his son, and speaking on a matter that weighed heavily on his heart.
“Lotor…son…” Zarkon leaned back on his throne, staring down at the prince with a considering look. “It’s good that you came as quick as you did. There’s not much
“Time?” Lotor did not have to act confused in that moment, the prince looking blankly at his father. “Time for what?”
“There’s great change coming to the situation on Doom.” Zarkon answered, seeming evasive. “We’ll all have to make adjustments, you I suspect, most of all.” It was with a sinking dread that Lotor took in his father’s words, the prince holding back a sigh. His father WAS marrying him off after all!
“Father…” Lotor began, stressing the family tie he had to the man. “Please, don’t do this. It’s not too late to change your mind…”
“It’s far too late to change plans now.” A smile then, Zarkon revealing all his fangs. “The negotiations has been set in stone…” A laugh then, Zarkon and the court sharing in some private joke. “Although that might be too mild a word for what was discussed.”
Lotor didn’t understand the laughter, the prince fighting not to growl. “And just what was decided?” He demanded, wanting to know what the price for his freedom had been. “Just what will we get in return for this alliance? And just what concessions are we making? And to who! Demos?” The empire, named after a planet, had long been the rival of Doom, and was nearly it’s equal in size and power. Every year Demos came closer to surpassing Doom’s greatness, and Lotor knew his father worried incessantly about what would happen if Demos became the top power in the Denubian Galaxy.
Even now Doom was close to losing worlds to Demos, that foul Empire encroaching on Drule territory, stealing planets and riches away from their rightful owners. Zarkon had kept his son busy, making Lotor go around and conquer even more planets in a desperate bid to keep Doom expanding in resources and power. Lotor longed for the chance to go up against the rulers of the Demos Empire, to cut them down and take from them their glory and their lives.
“Demos?” Zarkon repeated while Lotor glowered up at his father. “Demos has nothing to do with this…” Lotor didn’t know if he should feel relief or not, trying to think who else would have enough power or riches to entice Zarkon into forcing his son to marry.
“Then if not Demos…” He began, meeting his father’s eyes. “Who? Who are you marrying me off to?” A moment’s pause, and then the entire court erupted into laughter along with their King. Lotor seethed in outrage, not liking the joke they had at his expense.
“Son…” Zarkon leaned forward on his throne, his golden scepter laid across his knees. “Is that what’s gotten into that pretty little head of yours?” His face burned in embarrassment, Lotor not liking being called pretty. “Fear not Lotor. It’s not your marriage I’ve arranged.” His eyes seemed to gleam, Zarkon puffing out his chest in a proud fashion. “It’s MINE.”
He was suitably stunned, staring at his father with his mouth hanging open. The din of laughter died down to a murmur, the eyes of the court on him. His voice did not seem to want to work, Lotor making a strange sound as he gazed at his father, waiting for this to be revealed as just another joke. But Zarkon’s look was deadly serious, even as he smiled satisfaction at the prince.
“Who…” Lotor croaked out at last, remembering the name he had heard during his spying. “Who is she?”
“Her name is Allura. Allura of Arus.” Zarkon answered, and gave a dismissive wave. “I’ve no doubt you haven’t heard of her planet. It’s pitiful small, and rather inconsequential in the scheme of things.”
“Then why?” Lotor asked, his voice no less strong this time around. “Why even marry her? If her planet is that insignificant, surely it won’t further your political agenda! Does it even have riches to offer us, does it have a strong military presence, is there any use for this alliance?!”
“I am not so desperate as to need a marriage that gives me strong support in either of those areas.” Zarkon replied. He smirked then, the look pure pleasure. “I do this for me, and me alone.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Lotor demanded, crossing his arms over his chest. He nearly gasped, a horrible thought coming to him. “You’re not in love with her, are you?!” Zarkon’s eyes seemed to gleam, the King hesitating a moment. “Father no!”
“Relax Lotor.” Zarkon chuckled. “i am no longer young enough to have my head turned so thoroughly. But I find myself lonely, and Allura is a comely enough wench to warm my bed…”
“There are several whore houses that would willingly supply you with women to do that. And at less a cost to Doom!” Lotor retorted snidely. That earned him a glare from his father, but Lotor didn’t flinch.
“What kind of King associates with whores?” Zarkon snorted. “No, Allura of Arus is as fine a woman to make my Queen as any other option. Beautiful, intelligent, and more importantly, she lacks even one ounce of ambition. That should be good news for you Lotor, for she’s agreed not to fight for the crown if our union should produce any children.”
“Children?!” Lotor felt sick at the thought, reeling back as though struck in the face by those words. He hadn’t even thought that far as to what such a union could mean to his position. What if this Allura bore Zarkon’s children, sons that she’d want to see sit on the throne as the next King of Doom? Would he be forced to constantly defend his life from assassination attempts? His face turned grim at the thought, Lotor knowing not only would he defend himself, he would see to killing off those would be heirs of Allura.
“Calm down Lotor.” Zarkon chuckled. “You look as though you have one foot already in the grave.”
“If it’s there, it’s because you put me in this position!” retorted Lotor. “I’ll ask you again, please reconsider this marriage!”
“And I’ll tell you as many times as it takes to get through that thick head of yours, no Lotor! It’s too late for that! I’ve made up my mind, and I get what I want.” A savage grin. “And what I want is Allura of Arus.”
No amount of protests from Lotor could get the King to change his mind, the prince learning much about the upcoming union in the days to follow. To his horror he learned Arus was a rather poor planet, one that could barely take care of it’s own people, let alone send support to the Doom Empire. It was little more than a farm world, good only for producing crops, and it’s technological aspects were so unadvanced as to be laughable.
Lotor could hardly believe it when he learned Arus was one of the latest planets Doom had conquered, dealing it a crushing blow within a few days of their first attack. Arus’ military was now nonexistent, destroyed by Doom’s forces. Lotor still could not understand why his father would want to marry this Allura, if he wasn’t already half in love with the girl.
There really was no reason for this marriage, Arus holding nothing that Doom had not already taken from the people. And yet Zarkon was doing this princess of theirs a great honor, marrying her, and elevating her to the status of Queen of a mighty empire. Lotor thought such power would go to her head, after all no one could remain unaffected by the strength and wealth of the Doom Empire.
And with it continued his worries of this Allura having children, Lotor fearing that Zarkon would decide to back them in a bid for the crown. He found himself snorting, but not at all amused, doubting his father’s claims that Allura was not ambitious. She was a royal, and though pitiful her planet might be, she had to have some aspirations if she had lasted as ruler of a whole planet.
Lotor did not want to see those aspirations turned towards the Doom throne, and he vowed then and there to make things as difficult as possible for Allura. He was sure he could gain the secret backing of at least some of the nobles, either through friendships and alliances, or even force if need be. In fact for some, the alliances would come easier, some of the nobles not at all thrilled at the thought of another human Queen sitting besides their king.
But that was still some time in the future, for now Lotor wanted to drink away his worries, if only for a night. At present he was inside one of the finer taverns of the city’s capital, the pub crawling with customers, and music blasting at near deafening volume. It was decorated in celebration of the impending nuptials, white and black mixed together with a splash of blood red added, Doom’s customary colors for both a funeral and a wedding.
A banner hung over the bar, the Drule symbols spelling out the words to congratulate the king on his new bride. Confetti littered the floor, an over enthusiastic bar maid had released the paper upon the prince’s arrival in the establishment. He had glared as the people around him cheered their happiness over his father’s wedding, and even his foul mood had not brought down the celebratory feel of the tavern.
Lotor had slunk over to a corner booth, making sure to keep his back to the wall. He was being particularly paranoid, not wanting his back unprotected, as though fearing Allura would have already sent assassins to dispose of him. He stared suspiciously at each mug of ale, forcing the serving wench to drink a sip of each brew before he would allow the strong tasting liquor to pass through his lips.
His friends thought he was being overly dramatic, Commander Cossack and Lord Salima drinking heartily and without fear. Lotor could only stare glumly at his mug, noticing he had paused long enough for the foam to have fizzed out. He didn’t try to force himself to drink the stale ale, rooting about in his pockets for some coin. His triumphant grin was dimmed when he noticed just whose face was on the gold, Zarkon staring up at him, a conceited smirk on his face.
The coin was newly minted, one of several million pieces done on gold, copper and silver. The coins were all the rage, newly created in celebration of the King’s impending nuptials, they would be sought after collector’s items in the months to come. Such was the King’s generosity, that he had opened the treasury, bestowing gifts of copper coins to the more well to do subjects of his kingdom. Ten copper pieces per person may not have seemed much, but when you add in the tens of thousands of citizens in the Doom capital alone, it added up to an outstanding expense.
“Barkeep!” Lotor growled, slamming the gold coin down hard on the table. “Another round for me and my friends.” It was enough gold to buy several rounds, and the bar tender nodded, sending over one of the pub’s serving wenches to deliver the fresh mugs of ale. It was the house special blend, a potent brew that could knock a man off his feet if he wasn’t careful with his drink.
Lotor craved that kind of obliviousness of his thoughts, the prince eagerly swallowing down the bitter bronze colored liquid. Cossack was besides him to the right, smacking his lips appreciatively as he eyed the serving wench’s backside. Her outfit was such that she was dangerously close to falling out the top and bottom halves, the material clinging to her curves. She walked with a wiggle to her hips, sashaying from table to table, dodging the groping hands of the drunk and horny patrons.
“That’s a nice piece of ass on that one.” Cossack said, leering in her direction.
“Certainly is.” Agreed Lord Salima. “I wonder how much coin it would take to get her to come to bed with me?”
“As if you would even be able to do anything with her in the state you’ve drunk yourself into!” Cossack retorted, making fun of Salima’s slurred speech.
Lotor almost smiled at their antics, lifting the mug to his lips to drink some more of the liquid. It got less foul tasting the more he drank, and Lotor hoped it meant he would soon be as drunk as Lord Salima was.
“Still…she is pretty…” Salima sounded almost wistful in the moment, eyes holding a far away look to them. “But not as pretty as our new Queen is supposed to be.” That brought a decided silence to the table, Lotor drinking as calmly as he could manage.
“You fool!” hissed Cossack, glaring at the lord. “Why’d you have to go and bring her up?”
“Well, it’s true isn’t it?” Salima asked. “Our future queen is supposed to be very beautiful if she caught the King’s attention so thoroughly. Although…I hear hardly anyone knows what she looks like.”
“Oh?” Lotor raised an eyebrow at that. “Are they too poor to afford holos?”
“I hear your father is keeping her under wraps until the marriage ceremony.” Offered Salima. “Wants to save the big unveiling for then.”
“Any of our soldiers who have been to Arus, have remained there to maintain peace on that world.” Cossack said. He looked around, and lowered his voice to a whisper that had Lotor straining to hear him. “I heard they’re not exactly thrilled about this marriage. That they might try to do something to prevent it.”
“What can they do?” Salima made a rude noise. “We completely ruined them. And they should be grateful their princess isn’t toiling as a slave but about to become Queen.”
“Queen to the very empire that conquered them.” Lotor pointed out, drinking down the last remnants of ale in his mug. “You don’t think they might not try to get revenge on us, do you?”
“I’d like to see them try!” An affronted Cossack said.
“What revenge can they take?” Salima wanted to know. “if they were to kill our King, their princess would suffer the same fate in return. What’s more, they would lose what little protection Doom is offering Arus.”
“They have much to lose.” Agreed Lotor, thinking of the advancements Zarkon was planning to make to Arus’ society. “But revenge makes even the smartest of people stupid.”
“We’ll just have to be on guard then.” Salima decided, and Lotor nodded.
“But you know…” Salima was thoughtful. “I heard the king wanted her from the moment he first saw her. She really must be something special to get his heart moving after all these years.”
“It wasn’t his heart that was moving.” Quipped Cossack with a nasty snicker.
Lotor groaned, not liking the thought of his father being horny, or even worse, being moved by a lust so strong he would do something that had the potential to ruin his son’s life. “It’s worse if she’s beautiful.” He said out loud. “It means she’ll be able to twist him around her fingers. Mark my words, this future queen will have the king as her lap dog, and we as her fools. She’ll bring disaster to the royal family, maybe even to the Doom Empire itself.” He lowered his voice, eyes shifting about to look from Cossack’s face, to Salima’s. “If we’re lucky, some assassin will do her in soon after the wedding.”
Salima gasped, and Cossack’s eyes went wide. “It’s treason to speak this way.” The Commander pointed out, and Lotor grew defensive.
“I’m only looking after my own hide. That, and that of the kingdom’s best interest.” He was signaling for another barmaid, wanting his drink refilled. He waited until the serving wench had walked away, before continuing. “Mark my words you two…this princess of Arus will be nothing but trouble.”