She had nearly collapsed to the floor in grief when a palace guard had arrived at the nursery, the young man’s face solemn as he told her it was time. Allura hadn’t needed to question him to know just what he meant by those words, the girl realizing the appointed hour was upon them. The man seemed almost apologetic, watching as she clung tearfully to Alessandra, the girl desperate for a few minutes more with her daughter.
In the end it had been decided that the twins would accompany Allura to the hanger, their first big outing since the ceremony in the throne room a few weeks ago. She carried both princesses in her arms, pausing often to nuzzled them lovingly, listening to them coo and babble in response. They didn’t know what was happening, weren’t even perceptive enough to pick up on their mother’s attempts to hold back her tears.
She wasn’t the only one whose heart was breaking, Allura could see the sadness on the faces of the girls from Arus. Their eyes were wet, and Dominique continually dabbed at her face with a tissue, holding back sniffles as they walked alongside Allura and her daughters. Surrounding them were palace guards, the men watchful but silent as they led the party through the castle.
People stopped to stare as Allura and her entourage passed, giving respectful bows, and whispered condolences. It was mainly servants who offered the last, people who seemed as though they would truly miss seeing Allura around the castle. Politeness dictated she acknowledge their words, but Allura could barely see through the blur of tears to react accordingly.
Instead she was guided by her friend’s touch on her arm, Allura stepping where they led her. All too soon they arrived at the hanger area, it’s large double doors already flung open. The area itself was packed with people, the many mechanics and technicians who worked on the various vehicles that docked in the hangar. But there wasn’t much work being done, the people themselves showing more interest in gathering to watch the spectacle that was Allura leaving.
Allura didn’t care, unable to keep her head held high, every step a drag of her feet as she was led closer to the ship that would take her from Doom. Her heart beat seemed to thud loudly in her ears, all other noise seeming to come from a distance. She was vaguely aware of talking all around her, the girls from Arus holding whispered conversation. If they tried to engage her in speaking, Allura did not know, the girl unresponsive save for her children’s cries.
Near the far side of the hangar, there was a ship that seemed to stand out in particular to Allura. She knew without anyone telling her, that that vehicle was the one that would take her from Doom. It’s ramp had been lowered, and packages were being driven up it, no doubt containing Allura’s belongings, the many dresses Lotor had gifted her with over the past year.
Before it, standing just a few feet short of the ramp, was a crowd of people. They seemed to be waiting for her, a man catching sight of Allura and whispering something to his companions. One by one they turned, until her entourage was the focus of the crowd’s attention. She didn’t even try to see if she recognized anyone, too distraught to care if it was friend or foe who had come to see her off.
That was before the crowd parted, and she caught the flash of silver and purple. She actually mistook the witch’s robes for that of Lotor’s personal guard, Allura not sure if she wanted to see the king one last time. But then the realization sank in, the girl recognizing Haggar striding to the front of the crowd. If she hadn’t been holding her babies, she would have flung herself into the witch’s arms, Allura ready to break down and be comforted by her.
Her escort drew closer to the ship, and now they parted at Haggar’s impatient wave. Allura stepped forward to meet the Drule female halfway, the two staring at one another for a brief instant. “So…” Haggar said, voice clipped with emotion. “You’re sure about this?”
“………No….” She admitted with a shaky breath, feeling Adora grab a handful of her hair. The child made a happy sound, tugging harshly on Allura’s hair. Allura did not so much as wince, staring sadly at the witch. “But what else can I do? Especially now….” She trailed off, silent words alluding to what Lotor had done to Romelle.
“Everything is such a mess.” Commented Haggar with a deep sigh. “Kings without queens, babies without mothers, Lotor losing his conscience…” Her words seemed to stab into Allura’s heart, the girl reeling back as though in pain.
“I can’t be what Lotor wants.” Allura at last said, blinking rapidly to keep her tears from falling. “And he won’t ever be what I need. Our daughters…our daughters are the unfortunate victims in all of this.”
“Yes.” Agreed Haggar, giving a crisp nod of her head. “They are.” A silence descended between them, Allura fidgeting in place, occupying herself with grazing her lips on the top of Alessandra’s head.
“Am…am I making the right decision?” At last she broke the silence, Allura looking to Haggar for what to do.
“Who am I to say?” Haggar asked, giving a shrug of her shoulders. “You have to do what is right for you…”
“Does it make me a terrible mother for leaving them?”
“That I can’t answer. There’s too much to consider…” Haggar said. “Is it more healthy for the you to leave them, or to stay and be unhappy…to stay and learn resentment for them?”
“I can’t love their father…not after everything he’s done.” Allura told her. “Believe me I tried…but the wounds of the past just don’t want to let me go.”
“And you think he will?” Haggar asked, and there was no need to wonder who she meant.
“I…I hope so.” Allura answered, holding back a shiver. “If he’s gone this far to arrange transportation for me…”
“There’s still time…” Haggar pointed out, lips tightly pursed together to hide her feelings on the matter. “Time for Lotor to change his mind. Time for you to have second and third doubts.”
“I’m already having them.” Allura lamented, looking down at her daughters. Alessandra gazed up at her now, blinking blue eyes slowly. In that instant she hoped her daughter would memorize what Allura looked like, Allura wishing she could somehow remain a deeply ingrained memory in her heart. “I’m doubting all my choices, even as I know there is no other way for me!”
“If that is what your heart tells you…”
“My heart is torn in pieces, with no discernible path to follow!” interrupted Allura, nearly bursting into loud tears.
“Then perhaps the distance from Doom will do you good.” Hagagr sighed. “At the very least, your heart will have a chance to heal, slow though that undertaking may be.” She was suddenly bringing her hands together, a loud clap of noise that had the crowd reacting. “I have a gift for you.”
“A gift?” Allura echoed, spying a man clad in a servant’s uniform stepping out of the crowd. He carried a medium size box in his arms, the wood a dark brown shade, and carved with etchings on the side.
Haggar nodded, a smiling cracking amidst her wrinkles. “Yes. It’s just some odds and ends, some ingredients and a few spells I’ve taken the time to write down for you.” The man paused before them, Haggar gesturing for him to lift open the lid. “I know you are leaving us, but I was hoping you would continue to practice your craft.”
The box was opened, Allura spying many bottles and vials containing various items. Alongside the bottles were bundles of dried herbs, ribbons wound around them to keep them from separating. Papers were locked inside a folder, and there was even a few stones and gems, their uses limited to enchantments and focal points.
“I wish I could be there to over see your tutorship.” Haggar continued. “You have a great power within you. One you shouldn’t squander.”
“I won’t.” Allura whispered, and she turned to hand Alessandra to Sumetra, and Adora to Andais. “Thank you…” She stepped into Haggar’s arms, giving the witch a fierce hug. “For everything. Not just the magic, but for being such a comforting figure to me in my time on Doom.”
“It’s been a pleasure to know you, Allura.” Haggar told her, returning the hug. “I’ve enjoyed your company, and seeing the effect you had on the people around you, Lotor most of all.”
“I don’t think I had that much of an effect on him…” Allura said, her tone rueful as she pulled back from Haggar. “Not where it counted.”
“Perhaps…” Haggar said cryptically. “But then….he has a way of surprising us all.” Allura took this moment to look at the crowd of people by the ship, Haggar reading the question in her eyes. “Social climbers the lot of them!” The witch sneered, seeming not to care if she was overheard. “Comes with the territory of my elevated position.”
“Hmm.” Allura didn’t know what to say to that, giving them one last look before turning to reclaim her daughters.
“Not to mention gossips.” Haggar continued to rant, annoyance dripping in her voice. “No doubt hoping for a scene, something to get their tongues wagging in excitement.”
“I doubt I will give them much.” Allura said, settling her daughters on her chest once more. “Save for a lot of spent tears as I try to behave with some modicum of restraint at parting from my children.”
“Let us pray Lotor doesn’t show up, and bungle things further with his foolish antics.” Haggar muttered, and Allura’s breathe seemed to catch in her throat at the thought. Would Lotor come to see her off? Did she even want him to? She didn’t know, though Allura was certain she wouldn’t be able to handle it if he caused another nasty scene like the one in the nursery.
To chase away her worries, she tried to focus on her daughters, whispering softly to them. “I want you to know…” Allura began, voice shaky as she spoke. “That I love you both very much. Maybe more than I can put into words. And…and it’s not your fault I am leaving. Nothing either one of you could have done would ever make me do that. It’s just…it’s your father, and our messed up relationship.” She gave a snort at that, unsure if relationship was the right word for what she had with Lotor.
Adora made a sound, the girl starting to talk over Allura’s voice. She seemed almost earnest as she babbled, leaving Allura to wonder what her daughter was trying to tell her. “I..I hope…when you are older, you’ll want to know about me. That you’ll come looking for me.” She gave a watery smile, not quite sniffling. “I’ll always welcome you with open arms.”
She descended into showering kisses on both her girls’ faces, the twins cooing and squealing in response. Allura couldn’t get enough of hugging them, the girl unsure of how she was going to let them go long enough to board the ship’s ramp. As she continued to foist attention on her daughters, she heard a sound behind her, the march of footsteps moving in tandem.
The crowd of onlookers grew excited, Allura not quite stiffening as she turned. She knew who she expected to see, Allura thinking Lotor had finally come. Purple and silver met her eyes, two of his personal guards walking towards her. But there was no Lotor to escort, Allura’s brows drawing together, a frown on her face. Especially when she saw who accompanied them, the woman walking a few feet behind, looking as bewildered as Allura felt.
“Romelle.” She softly stated, the guards coming to a stop just before Allura and Haggar. Romelle just looked at her, the girl clad in a plain blue dress, her outfit so different from that of the harem. She still wore her slave collar though, the band of silver looking clunky and obvious around her neck.
“What’s the meaning of this?” demanded Haggar, Allura aware that her friends were whispering besides them, speculating on what Romelle’s appearance meant.
“She is a gift from King Lotor.” Came the guard’s answer, the man thrusting papers in Allura’s direction. She made no move to take them, her arms full with the twins. Haggar made an impatient noise, snatching the documents from the guard’s hands.
“A gift?” Allura echoed, glancing at Romelle. Her cousin was subdued, none of the open hostility that had previously existed between them showing on the Polluxian’s face.
“Yes.” Came the confirmation from the guard, Haggar hissing at him to be quiet. She heard the rustle of the papers, Haggar going through them with an eagle’s eye.
“It’s a transference of ownership.” The witch exclaimed, leaning towards Allura to point something out to her. The writing was in Drule, unreadable to Allura, save for Lotor’s signature, and the mention of Allura’s name. “He’s given Romelle to you.”
“Romelle is mine?” Allura blinked, surprise showing on her face. “To do with as I please?”
“That’s what the papers say.” Haggar answered, placing the papers on top of her gift that the servant still held. “He’s been very generous in gifting you with five slaves from his harem, especially considering what you will do with them.” A smirk was on Haggar’s face, Allura wondering if her slowly returning magic had told the witch that Allura planned to free the slaves once she reached her new home on planet Quevra.
“Then I thank him for this.” Allura said, glancing at her cousin once more. She wasn’t sure how her cousin felt about Allura owning her, but she suspected Romelle would be eager if it meant getting away from Lotor and planet Doom. She said a word in Arusian, asking Sumetra to come take Romelle among their friends.
“Romelle..” Sumetra said, gaining the girl’s attention as she approached her. “Come with me.” Romelle gave a cautious glance at the guards, but they ignored her, giving the girl the freedom to step uncertainly towards the Arusians. The four girls of Arus had changed out of their harem slave outfits, garbed in hand me downs from Allura. They weren’t the exact same size, the dresses either too tight or too loose, but there had been no time for adjustments to be made. And Allura refused to have them paraded around like sex objects for any second longer than necessary.
“Where are we going?” She heard Romelle whisper, the words spoken in heavily accented Arusian.
“To freedom.” Came Sumetra’s answer, Romelle letting out a pleased gasp.
Allura kept quiet, thinking on Lotor’s latest gift to her. She wondered what it meant, if he had finally learn to regret his actions of the past night. It would be quite a change from this morning in the nursery, when he had been cruel, his words a vicious taunt as he spoke about enjoying Romelle. He had seemed so adamant on keeping Romelle his prisoner, on using her as replacement for Allura.
She didn’t know what had changed since then, if this was some desperate last minute ploy to sway Allura from her decision to leave. She also was aware that he had others in his harem, more seemingly willing girls who’d gladly serve him. Allura still thought of them as abused, but she breathed a sigh of relief to think he’d no longer inflict pain on her cousin.
Adora gurgled, the sound drawing Allura’s attention to her. She smiled adoringly at her daughter, listening to the sounds all around them. A radio sparked into life, a voice speaking in hurried Drule. She only caught a few words here and there, the man talking too rapidly for Allura to follow. The guards reacted to the voice, exchanging looks before one was speaking.
“It’s time.” He said, and Allura blinked, feigning misunderstanding.
“The ship is ready to leave.” The guard said, his face indifferent to her tearful state. “They cannot delay any longer.”
“Why can’t they?” Allura demanded, cringing backwards when the other guard tried to take one of her daughters from her.
“You can’t put off leaving forever.” He said, reaching for Adora.
“Let me just say my good-byes!” Allura protested, and Haggar stepped forward.
“At least give her that much.” Her stern gaze and the powerful position she held in the court cowed them into respecting her commands, Allura flashing the woman a grateful look. She rapidly began hugging the twins, taking turns to kiss each one’s cheeks.
“I don’t know how I am going to be able to leave you!” She cried, wanting nothing more than to kidnap her own daughters and take them far away from Doom. No one said anything to her loud exclamation, Allura wishing Lotor would appear and tell her it would be okay somehow. She longed to hear his voice, to hear him say something soothing, as impossible as that thought was.
She openly wept, her children picking up on her distress, Adora starting to wail in protest. Her cries only grew louder when the guard pulled her away from Allura, the child waving fists in the air. Allura hugged Alessandra, whispering to her to be good for Lotor. She made no move to hand the girl over, forcing the other guard to gently extract her from Allura’s arms.
Her arms felt so empty without the weight of the twins, Allura wanting to snatch them back into her embrace. Someone took her by the arm, gently steering her away from her babies. She walked where she was led, though Allura kept turning to look over her shoulder at her tearful children. Out the corner of her eye, she noticed the servant of Haggar’s handing the witch’s gift to Sasperella. The girl struggled with the heavy box, but somehow managed it’s weight, stepping to follow Allura.
The clank of her feet against metal snapped Allura’s attention forward, the girl realizing she had stepped onto the ramp. She seemed to move in slow motion, everything else happening too quickly. Each step higher on the ramp had Allura screaming internally, her vision darkening. She was beginning to lose her breath, close to hyperventilating as she entered the ship.
Only then did she realize that it was Andais who had helped her move, Romelle and the girls from Arus joining Allura inside the ship. Haggar looked a little misty eyed, though tears did not fall. The witch was too proud for that. Allura stared past her at the guards, desperate for one last glimpse of her daughters. She heard the hum of the ramp disengaging from the ship, the door’s starting to close.
Allura thought she would faint, taking a staggering step forward to press as close to the closing doors as she dared. Alessandra had started to realize something was wrong, the girl beginning to shriek at the top of her lungs. Only Andais grabbing Allura’s arm prevented her from throwing herself off the ship, Allura screaming out a protest. She was too distraught, thinking too many things, mourning the separation of her daughters already.
She was already falling by the time the doors melded together, Allura sagging into Andais’ arms. She was fainting, hearing her friend’s call out her name in alarm. But Allura didn’t care, making no effort to hang on as she passed out. She never even knew that Lotor had arrived, the King and his private guards standing just out of sight of the ship and it’s watching crowd.
Lotor stood staring, his hands clenched into fists as he gazed at the ship that would take Allura away. Every fiber in his being urged him to stop her, to send his men to detain the ship. To capture her, and take her back by force. But he didn’t give the commands, ignoring the voice that shouted in his head. It only increased the screaming, the voice calling him a fool, telling him he’d never be happy without Allura by his side.
It couldn’t drown out what little reason Lotor had left, the king feeling the greatest act of kindness he could do Allura was to let her leave him. Even as the voice smugly whispered he’d be sorry, that he’d come to regret this day. He scoffed at that, knowing it was true, knowing he already regretted it. Another part of him wished Allura would come back to him, that she would stop the ship.
He was almost counting on her not being able to leave her babies behind, that the girl would not be able to deny her maternal instincts. How could she, with Adora and Alessandra screaming their distress, voices raw with panic. But the doors never opened, the crowd of people moving a safe distance away from the ship. It’s engines rumbled to life, and it began to move, slowly at first, and then picking up speed as it hovered off the ground.
Even with it in flight, Lotor begged Allura to stop, his internal voice screaming at him to send ships after hers. He was in a stunned state of disbelief when the ship passed through the docking bay doors, it’s engines letting out a whine as the vehicle kicked it’s speed up a notch. It wasn’t until the ship was but a distant speck in Doom’s sky that Lotor turned away, numb inside and wanting to scream like a wounded animal.
He was vaguely aware of someone speaking to him, one of his aides having cautiously approached. Lotor just looked at him, ever so tempted to draw his sword and end this man’s life. And all for the crime of interrupting his grief, Lotor knowing his lips were forming an angry scowl. The aide was shuffling through papers, eyes darting nervously between the documents and the king.
That was a mistake, Lotor acting like the predator he was, sword drawn in an instant. The aide quickly looked up from the papers, a gasp issuing out of him, but Lotor had already stabbed forward with his hand. The sword’s hum was muffled by the aide’s body, the lazon’s glow muted by the blood on the blade. Lotor was all too calm as he jerked the sword out of the man’s body, nonchalant as he shook the blood off his blade.
“Come.” He said to his guards, spotting the open mouth stare of the remaining aide. “There is still much work to be done this day.” Without waiting for a response, Lotor was turning, marching back into the main building of the castle. The aide stared at his partner’s bleeding body for a few seconds more, and then was hurrying after the King, pausing only to retrieve the spilt paperwork.