He heard the gasps of the court, the sounds starting almost before he finished his arm’s movements. The newest of his aides stood before him, the man some nameless peon Lotor hadn’t bothered to get to know. He’d never get the chance now, that man’s head falling backwards, the slice of Lotor’s sword having cleanly cleaved it from the neck. A splatter of blood followed the head’s falling, Lotor being sure to step back to avoid getting it on his clothing.
Expression disdainful, he watched as the body toppled downwards in slow motion, landing in a crumpled feet on the dais. The head was still in movement, all but bouncing down the steps of the dais, making an awful racket that Lotor would not forget anytime soon. The nobles of the court were watching but otherwise silent, their faces already being schooled into indifferent masks. It was fear of their king, and his unpredictable rages that had them hiding their true expressions, not one person of the court wanting to risk drawing his attention to them.
Lotor waited until the aide’s head had bounced to a stop, the king calmly shaking the blood of his lazon blade. But he did not sheathe his sword, keeping it out as an open threat. “Now…” His voice was calm, unaffected by what he just did, Lotor not quite smiling, grim though his expression was. “Anyone else want to raise any objections for my planned proposal?”
A murmur erupted from the crowd, people offering hasty nos, simpering about in an attempt to placate their angry King. Lotor nodded, satisfied, and gazed down the dais’ staircase to his remaining aides. There was two of them, a man and a woman, both looking absolutely terrified. They had a right to be, the man killed today was the fifth aide he had killed in so much as two months, Lotor temper flaring at the slightest of provocation.
He was apt to go into a killing frenzy for so much as a bad look, as he was disappointing news, Lotor angry and hostile under the best of times. It left his servants and the nobles of the court walking on egg shells, tip toeing around problems as they tried to keep their king from erupting. Sadly, they had much practice at this with the former king, Zarkon known for his own fits of temper when things didn’t go his way.
But Lotor almost seemed worse than his father, so angry and volatile. Lotor knew that the court was aware of the reason behind his change in behavior, the nobles able to pinpoint the exact moment, the exact day he had turned into a monster. They didn’t dare speak her name, Lotor as capable of falling into silent repose as he was vindictive anger, and all for the girl, the slave that had left him.
He knew the gossip, knew what the nobles whispered, the men and women of the Doom court clinging to the hope that Allura’s return could bring back the old Lotor. But no one dared mention such thoughts to the king, the court left to wonder at how much more they would have to endure, how much longer this nightmare would go on before Lotor deigned to retrieve the girl.
Truth be known, Lotor wondered that too, the Drule battling every day not to go to Allura. He didn’t even dare entertain fantasies of what would happen if he arrived on her doorstep, knowing that even the worst case scenario would not be enough to keep him from her side. Every day he fought not to tell the ships on stand by to fly to Quevra, to send his generals to drag the girl, kicking and screaming if need be, back to Doom.
Lotor forced himself to ignore Allura, not quite succeeding at pretending she never existed. How could he when her had two proofs of her life, her love sitting in the castle nursery. His daughters Alessandra and Adora, his lone joy in the bleakness that had become his life. Everyday they grew just a little older, the yellow of their hair becoming a more vibrant shade, and their eyes remaining blue. Little reminders of their mother, the girls sure to resemble her the older they got.
So far he had kept his daughters isolated from the court, locked away in the nursery, under watch by their nanny and a strict three man guard. His daughters were oblivious to the horrors their father inflicted, shielded from the spilt blood, and his angry shouting. They didn’t know he channeled his rage into attacking other worlds, didn’t know it was the only thing that kept Lotor from ranting and raving like a lunatic.
He became absolutely ruthless, not a drop of mercy in his blood as he set his sights on new planets and territories. Under his rigid control, the Doom Empire continued to grow, it’s wealth nearly tripled in a matter of weeks. Slaves, money, jewels, it was all added to the Empire’s treasury, fuel and goods being procured from new planets, helping Doom to recoup it’s losses from the war with Amazonia.
And still it wasn’t enough, Lotor pushing his men to work harder and faster to capture new worlds. With the lions from Arus and the beam weapon of Merla’s, Doom became a near unstoppable force without match, toppling whole civilizations in an endless quest for total domination of the Denubian Galaxy. The Doom Empire was starting to run out of planets, and the rumors persisted that Lotor would turn his attention to the Milk Way Galaxy.
Truthfully Lotor didn’t know what he would do once he held all of Denubian in his grasp. He wondered if his anger, his sense of betrayal at Allura abandoning him would ever be appeased. If he could ever stop being destructive in an effort to quell the pain in his heart. He often wondered if she was keeping a breast of his actions, knowing some news had to have trickled into Quevra, despite his best efforts to keep a blanket of silence around that world. Lotor knew Allura would be disappointed in him, but try as he might, he couldn’t stop himself!
He knew he was out of control, becoming the very thing Allura hated. Something she would despise even more than she had Lotor the rapist, Lotor on his way to becoming a monster far worse than his father. It was no wonder she wasn’t coming back of her own free will, Lotor fighting not to scowl. He couldn’t control his emotions completely, the clenching of his fists betraying the rage that was warring inside him.
Wisely no one chose to comment, the court busying themselves with conversing to one another. Instead of returning to his throne, Lotor began descending down the staircase, taking care to avoid the body. His boots tracked the gore onto the carpet, but it wouldn’t be the first time it was stained with blood. If they hurried and got a slave in to clean, they might be able to keep the stain from setting.
His two remaining aides did not approach him, not even to question where he was going. Lotor did not so much as spare a glance in their direction, walking down the row between nobles, his swagger cocky, almost daring someone to attack him. No one did, not with his sword out in the open, not with his propensity to use it without hesitation. They could only watch in helpless fascination as their blood thirsty king passed by, his guards leaving their positions by the wall to surrounded him in a protective barrier.
“We go to visit my daughters.” He announced to his guard, alerting them to the paths they must take to reach the nursery. He continued to clench his hand around his sword’s hilt, Lotor trying to calm himself before reaching the nursery. He never wanted to be angry around his daughters, thinking the twin princesses deserved a father who was in control of his emotions.
As they moved along the corridors, a shadowy figure stepped out from behind a column, falling into step with the guards closest to Lotor. He caught the flash of purple and silver robes, and held back an annoyed growl. “Haggar.” It was an acknowledging hiss from him that had the witch pushing forward, the guards reluctantly allowing her near their king. “What do you want now?”
“Was it really necessary to kill that aide?” Only the witch would dare question his motives. She was after all the only one that seemed to be safe from Lotor’s murderous rages. “He only sought to advise you to another way of doing things.”
“He tried to question my decision.” Lotor snapped. “That cannot be allowed, not by some….some peasant of the court!”
“Aye, he was foolish. But that was no reason for him to die.” Pointed out Haggar, Lotor merely snorting at that. “You do realize, if you keep up this behavior, you’ll soon run out of applicants for the positions of your aides and advisors?”
“Don’t care.” Even to himself he sounded petulant, Lotor like a pouting child. “They never give me good advice. They only get in my way, and bother me about stupid things.”
“Are you still upset over their suggestions that you marry one of the ladies of the court?” Haggar asked, Lotor glaring in response to her question. “I’ll take that as a yes. But Lotor….they were merely looking out for your best interests.”
“No, they were hoping to control me. Hoping a woman would temper my fury, make me safer to be around.” Lotor made a scoffing sound, not quite waving his sword about angrily.
“We all know it won’t work.” Replied Haggar, and this time she sounded far too weary. “There’s really only one person that can bring you back to your senses…” He was annoyed at her choice of words, even as he thought he had very much lost his grip on reality.
“And she’s never coming back.” Lotor said, his voice softer than he liked. “She’s never coming back because I fucked up all our chances…literally.” Haggar didn’t respond to that, she never did. Not since the first day after Allura had left, the witch angrily asking him if his tryst with Romelle had been worth it. It hadn’t, Lotor knowing he would forever regret that night. A million what ifs and maybes going through his mind.
He thought that if he hadn’t gone to Romelle, hadn’t raped her, there might have been a chance to make amends with Allura. That they could have tried again and again, a thousand times if need be to work the girl through her hangs up about being intimate with him. He thought if he hadn’t turned nasty, hadn’t been so vindictive in words and actions around her, both in that night and that morning in the nursery, maybe, just maybe everything would have worked out. He even thought if he had taken a different woman, a more willing slave from the harem rather than Romelle, Allura could have forgiven him.
He thought he’d forever regret his actions of that night, Lotor knowing he couldn’t do anything to make amends. Neither to Allura, nor to her cousin, Romelle a victim just as much as anyone else in the debacle that was Lotor’s love life. Haggar often asked him why he had let Romelle go, why he hadn’t kept her on as replacement for Allura, pale imitation though she was of the girl. It had taken Lotor weeks of deep thought before he stumbled on the answer, his words surprising not only himself but Haggar.
“I can’t do anything to make amends to them….” He had said. “There’s noting in this world, in this universe that can fix the things I have done. But at least…at least I could let them both go free. Let them get far away from me and a chance to heal.”
Lotor hadn’t needed to speak about what would have happened if he had kept Romelle on as a slave of his harem. Haggar knew as well as Lotor did, that the king would have lost control, seeking out Romelle for her resemblance to Allura. He’d hurt her, again and again, outdoing himself on the scales of cruelty, and all because she was not Allura. That Romelle could be nothing more than an imperfect twin of the woman he loved and desired more than anyone else in the world.
He still kept his harem intact, new slaves being added to it with every planet captured, his collection of beauties growing. But save for a select few women, he avoided most of the harem girls, choosing to have sex with those who had convinced themselves they were in love with him. Those handful of women had been thrilled at Allura’s flight from Doom, welcoming Lotor back to their bodies with open arms. They didn’t even complain that he worked them too hard, Lotor almost frantic as he worked to make up for the lost time he had gone without sex.
At the rate he was going, he’d either burn out, or the women he fucked would die of exhaustion. Lotor wondered if he could muster the energy to care, knowing sex had become this frantic, impersonal thing, a quick release for the stress he built up daily.
“I…I miss her.” Lotor said at last, a deep sigh escaping him. Haggar was quiet for a second more, and then she sighed as well.
“So do I, my king, so do I.” He appreciated that sentiment, knowing Haggar had truly cared for the girl, almost like a mother with a grown daughter. Sometimes Lotor wondered if the real reason he didn’t try to kill Haggar was because she was the only one left who shared fond memories of Allura. Such was Haggar’s care for Allura, that she never urged Lotor to go after her, never demanded he bring her back. He realized the witch wanted the girl to be happy, and understood that Allura couldn’t, wouldn’t be with him in her life.
“Do you ever think of visiting her?” Lotor asked, curious as they turned down the corridor that led to the nursery. Haggar made a sound, a half hiss of laughter.
“Heavens no! What would happen to you if I left the court, even for a week?”
“You’d probably come back and find all the nobles dead.” Lotor said, only half joking.
“Indeed.” Haggar was serious as she agreed with his statement. “Lotor? Do you ever check up on Allura?”
“No.” She always asked this of him, and he always answered the same. “You know as well as I do that….I would not be able to keep from interfering in her life. I’d not be able to stay away if I followed her life’s journey.” He sighed, a deep exhalation of air as he sheathed his sword. “It doesn’t mean I am tempted to…Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her and wonder what she is doing…”
“I could always mix you a potion…..something to help dull the pain her memory brings…” It was an offer she had made numerous times in the past, Haggar wanting to be helpful to Lotor. As always he rejected he offer, shaking his head no as he walked into the nursery. The nanny he had hired was nowhere to be found, the room seeming far too empty for his liking.
Allura’s presence seemed to haunt this room, the memory of her lingering. Lotor could recall many instances of spending time with her here, imagining her sitting on the rocking chair nursing the twins, or reading to them. Or remembering the girl standing over Adora’s crib, singing a sweet lullaby as she carried Alessandra. The twins might not remember her, but Lotor would, his eyes filling with his pain.
He heard Alessandra’s excited coo, the girl babbling happily to see her father. He blinked rapidly, trying to disguise the hurt he felt before approaching his daughters. They were now five months old, and more alert than ever. He wondered what he would tell them when they got old enough to ask about their mother, Lotor not sure he could tell them even a highly edited version of the truth.
“Hey there…” he said softly to Alessandra, reaching down to cup the side of her face with his large hand. She smiled wide at him, seeming to lean into his touch, continuing to squeal in excitement. Her sister Adora was quiet in her crib, a rare occurrence in the baby’s vocal history. For one brief instant Lotor thought she was sleeping, but as he drew closer to the crib, he saw she held onto something, her mouth chewing on one end.
Lotor frowned, looking down at the item, seeing it was a gleaming golden color that was a few shades brighter than Adora’s curls. It took a minute for Lotor to register what his daughter was holding, the princess gnawing on a large hank of human hair. Dread filled him at the sight of it, Lotor instantly knowing who it belonged to. He wanted to shout, reaching into the crib to pull the hair away from Adora. It was long, on a human female of Allura’s height, it would fall to about mid waist. Adora began to protest, even as Lotor wilted in relief, knowing his daughter could have strangled herself on the hair.
“Is that what I think it is?” Haggar asked, approaching him to touch the hair. She seemed to gasp at her finger’s contact, shuddering in revulsion. Lotor didn’t need her magic to know it had to belong to Allura, the King fighting not to growl as he stalked away from the distressed Adora. It left Haggar to comfort the fussing baby, the witch picking up the child to bounce her on her chest.
Lotor waited until he burst into the hall, spying the guards that were always stationed at the nursery’s door. “You!” He didn’t quite roar, but one of the guards jumped in fright, turning to stare wide eyed at Lotor. The King charged him, holding up the hair, practically thrusting it and his fist into the man’s face. He didn’t even pay attention to the other two guards, knowing this one’s fear would get him to reveal more as he stuttered and stammered out answers.
“Where did this come from?!” Lotor snarled his demand, shaking his hand before the guard’s face. He told himself he was trembling with rage, and not the awe inspiring parental fear that came with the thought that some enemy of his had gotten this close to his daughters. Close enough to the princesses to plant a message for Lotor, Allura’s hair a threat of some kind, the King wondering if she was safe, if she was even still alive.
“I….I….I…” The guard was practically choking on his fear, shaking his head no.
Lotor tried again, knowing that in this instant he couldn’t afford to kill this man until he had answers. “Where did this come from?! Who did you admit into the nursery today? Were there any strange people lurking around, any deliveries? Did someone pay you to personally put this in my daughter’s crib?!”
“No sire!” The man gasped out, not wanting to be blamed for this. “It was not me. I merely stood on guard.”
“The only person let into the nursery…” spoke another guard, Lotor not even glancing his way. “Was the nanny. She visited for a few moments, then quickly left.”
“How long ago was that?!” Lotor snarled out his question, even as he gestured for his men to approach. “Maybe we can still catch up with her.”
“That’s if she’s even still in the castle.” One of the purple and silver clad guardsmen said.
“You think she’s left?” Another asked, and the first nodded.
“She’s one of the only people to have free access to the princesses.”
“Detain these three.” Lotor said, pointing at the nursery guards. “I want them fully interrogated for everything they know. You two!” He pointed at two of his guards, the men stepping forward. “I want you to start a search of the castle, get all available men on it. No one leaves or enters the castle without my permission.”
“Yes, you’re highness.” One said, the other already on his communicator, radioing down to castle control. Lotor could hear the crackle of static, along with the voices, his orders being relayed.
Lotor took a step away from the nursery guards, moving closer to the open doorway. He locked eyes with Haggar, the woman having succeeded in calming down Adora. “What are you going to do?” She asked, and Lotor hesitated.
“I have to check on Allura.” He said at last, Haggar nodding. “I have to make sure she’s okay….that this is all some horrible prank….”
“And it it’s not?”
“Do you really need to ask?” Lotor questioned, allowing a malevolent light fill his eyes. Haggar seemed to shiver at that look of his, the witch turning away from him. “They’ll pay. For every hair on her head they ripped out….for every scream they tore out of her throat…..they will pay.” He tightened his fingers around the hair, the gold strands that Lotor was trying his best to deny belonged to Allura. But there was no denying the dread in his heart, the certainty his mind screamed out at him. Allura was in danger, and it was his actions, his neglect that had placed her there!