The planet was as inhospitable as ever, the wind howling as it blew across the terrain, stirring up dirt clouds and whipping against the sides of buildings. It left all who felt it’s embrace, chilled to the bone, Lotor fighting back shivers as he tightened his cloak around his body. The girl to the right of him had no protection from the elements, Romelle badly trembling as she stood next to him in the bikini like garments of a harem slave.
He didn’t offer his cloak to her, caring little for her comfort, all but ignoring her as the former princess of Pollux shuffled closer to him in an attempt to steal some body heat. She was bold in her touches, seeming oblivious of the foul mood that surrounded Lotor as she placed her hand on his arm. Lotor stepped forward, shrugging off her hand, a blatant refusal in his eyes. Romelle looked at him, and she couldn’t hide the hurt in her face, Lotor snorting and turning away from her. It was time she learned she wasn’t special, wasn’t any different from any of the other women in his harem.
He marched down the ramp, soldiers to the front and to the back of him, Romelle taking quick steps to keep up with his fast pace. Somewhere in the back of his ship was Allura, the girl hidden among the other harem slaves. He hadn’t seen her since she boarded the ship, Lotor doing his damnedest to keep away from her. It was proving a difficult challenge, many of his thoughts being devoted to her and her alone.
He wondered how she was doing, if she was glad for the separation he had forced between them. She probably was, Lotor biting back a sigh as he thought of how hard she struggled to keep out of his arms and out of his bed. Thinking how she must be rejoicing at his apparent disinterest made Lotor angry, his eyes narrowing as his face betrayed the black mood he was in.
Wisely, soldiers hurried out of his way, Lotor stepping off the ramp and onto Doom soil. It had been almost a month since he had last set foot on Doom, and he found his homecoming lacked it’s usual flair of excitement. He was deaf to the cheering of the people, their voices hailing him as worthy conqueror, ecstatic that he had captured yet another planet to add to their ever expanding empire.
Instead he found his heart longing to return to Pollux, to the simpler times where he had spent weeks cavorting with Allura. The bedroom they had shared on Pollux had been like their own private slice of paradise, Allura always close at hand. She may not have liked him being so near, but she certainly couldn’t deny that her body reacted to his, enjoyed his attentions.
He knew things could have remained the same, those final days on Pollux, if he had simply swallowed his pride and returned to her side. No one need ever know of the incident between them, they could have carried on as before. Except…Lotor didn’t want to pretend, didn’t want to act as though he had never experienced her soft touches, had never experienced what it was like to have a willing Allura even if he had had her only for a brief instant.
He didn’t want to go back to forcing her, not when he could have a glimmer of devotion from her. It wasn’t love, he had no illusions about that, the wounds he had inflicted on Allura, with both his actions and his murder of her fiancee were still too deep, too raw. They had much pain to work through, Lotor holding out hope that he could foster a kind of reluctant like in Allura.
But he wasn’t even trying to do that, instead spending his time with this new slave of his. She was a shallow, pale imitation of Allura, the blood ties thin between them. In a certain dim cast light, if he squinted he could almost pretend Romelle looked like Allura. It was no surprise that he spent much of his time in darkened rooms with the girl, content to pretend it was Allura he held, that it was Allura who kissed and touched him.
Romelle was almost too eager, especially for a slave so newly acquired. She had shown no reluctance on her part, going eagerly into his bed. In fact the only tears she had shed was when he claimed her maiden head, the girl weeping with the pain of an untried virgin. Except for that one instant, she did everything with a smile on her face, a vapid expression that couldn’t quite hide the calculating look in her eyes. Romelle was plotting something, what he did not know, Lotor wondering why she was trying so hard to get in his good graces.
She’d be crushed to know he was only keeping her near him due to her closeness to Allura, Lotor trying to use her to forget the princess of Arus. Not that it was working, no matter how compliant the slave was. Or spoiled for that matter, Lotor feeling Romelle try to touch his arm once more.
“Don’t be so forward.” He growled at her, the slave snatching her hand back at the anger in his voice. The girl had no way of knowing what he said, reacting only to the tone of his voice. Romelle had little if any knowledge of the Drule language, a skill she would have to learn if she hoped to survive for long on Doom.
Lotor continued forward, the soldiers keeping the excited crowd off to the sides of the tarmac. Some people pressed against the soldiers, arms reaching out in supplication to the prince, hoping for some acknowledgment from Lotor, or a gift of some of the spoils brought back from Pollux. They received none, Lotor reaching the grand staircase that led upwards, it’s stone steps ancient and cracked in places.
It covered a good two flights worth of stairs, leading to doors that were immense in size. The doors were open, the archway of the castle dark and foreboding, the inky blackness hiding what lay beyond those doors. A strip of marble made up the landing before the doors, several square feet of available room, cloaked nobles huddled together as they waited for Lotor and his procession of servants to make it up the stairs.
They bowed to the prince when his foot stepped on the landing, their voices coming out excited as they welcomed him home. Lotor nodded, and swept past them, in no mood for their praises as he hurried into the castle. Surprised sounds from behind him, the nobles hurrying to follow him.
Memories worked their way into his mind as he traveled through the castle corridors, Lotor reminded of what had happened the last time he had returned home. Of the drinking, and the feasting, his success on the battlefields moving Zarkon to declare the day a national holiday. But more than the celebrations, he remembered what, or rather who had been waiting for him in his bedroom.
Allura. At the time, he had had no idea of the treasure his father had gifted him with, Lotor’s memory of their first joining together accompanied by fond feelings. He doubted his father would surprise him in that way again, not when he had word of how attached Lotor had become to the little slave. Lotor doubted anyone could distract him from Allura, he was too thoroughly enmeshed in wanting her.
A sound from Romelle had him glancing at her, the princess staring with wide eyes as they moved through the castle halls. She was gawking at the sights and surroundings, not quite able to keep the apprehension out of her eyes as she got her first sight of her new home.
They turned a corner, and were soon upon the throne room of the castle. Guards hurried to pull open the bronze doors, Lotor barely sparing a glance at the intricate carvings that decorate the metal. Instead he removed his helmet, shaking his hair out to settle around his shoulders. He tucked the helmet under his right arm, and taking a deep breath, stepped into the throne room.
Cheers were heard, his name being chanted as Lotor walked confidently down the blood red carpet. Romelle made a squawk of protest, a guard holding her back, keeping her from following the prince. Lotor kept his attention focused straight ahead, seeing the gold tinted dais upon which his father’s throne sat. Zarkon was seated, his chin resting on the palm of his hand, eyes lazy as he watched his son approach.
When his toes touched the first step of the dais, that is when Lotor bowed, going down on bent knee before his father. He kept his eyes lowered, waiting for acknowledgment from the king, hearing the cheers slowly decrease in volume.
“Welcome back son.” Zarkon’s voice carried throughout the room, a loud echo that everyone could hear. Lotor lifted his head, and saw Zarkon’s eyes were on the servants who were entering the room, carrying open chests of treasure. Gold and jewels spilled out of the crates, an extravagant waste littering the floor. A few carts of refined lazon was brought into the room, the metal earning pleased murmurs from the watching nobles.
“Father….I bring you many gifts…..the least of which is this…” Lotor stood up, and gestured for a pair of servants to step forward, two brothers who were near identical in looks, their muscles straining as they carried a small chest between them. At a signal from Lotor, they dropped the chest at the foot of the dais, it’s lid popping open to spill out hundreds of gold coins, each bearing the likeness of King Zarkon on their surface.
“I thought you’d like your investment returned to you.” Continued Lotor, a humorless smile on his face. “It’ll help you to buy better help for future dealings.”
“It took you long enough to find and dispatch of the informant.” Zarkon was unperturbed, barely looking at the money. “That was sloppy, even for you.”
“I had other concerns to deal with.” Lotor returned, not raising to the bait Zarkon dangled before him.
“Hmm yes.” A nod of the King’s head, Zarkon smirking. “Too busy with a certain slave to take time out to deal with more pressing matters?”
“Hardly.” Lotor’s fangs flashed, a toothy smile as he turned, offering a wide gesture at the wealth presented before the throne. “I had the affairs of Pollux to set right. The lazon doesn’t refine itself you know.”
Zarkon’s eyes gleamed, his attention on the lazon now. “Just so long as you get results.” He waved at a servant, the man hurrying to grasp a bar of lazon. All eyes were on the servant, watching as he all but ran up the steps of the dais. Zarkon snatched the lazon out of the man’s hand, running a clawed finger down the center of it. “Grade A lazon, isn’t it?
“Nothing but the best from OUR new mines.” Lotor said, watching Zarkon continued to fondle the bar of lazon.
“Good, good…I expect no less.” Zarkon leaned back in his throne, his eyes scouting beyond Lotor and the treasure. Lotor did not turn to see where his attention lay, waiting in silence for Zarkon to speak. He was less than thrilled at Zarkon’s next words, the man almost mocking as he spoke.
“So you’ve exchanged one blonde princess for another?” He was looking at Romelle, studying her with some interest.
“Just breaking in a new slave.” Lotor said lightly, glad Allura wasn’t in the throne room. He realizes someone had to have shown Zarkon Allura’s picture, the king’s keen eyes picking up the differences in appearance between the two cousins. “She means nothing to me. None of them do.”
“That’s the way it should be.” Zarkon said approvingly. “Women are tiresome creatures, especially human females. They are good for only two things. Sex and making babies. And if it’s a child you want, you know better than to make one with a slave.”
“Children are the furthest thing from my mind.” Lotor retorted. “I’ve no desire to make you a grandfather anytime soon.” That got Zarkon to laugh, an uproarious burst of laughter issuing from his throat.
“Yes, you wouldn’t want to sire a replacement before you get your hands on my throne.” Zarkon smirked. “I’ve still got plenty of fight in me Lotor. It’ll be some time if ever that I step down from my crown.”
“Believe me father, I am in no hurry to take your crown from you.” His lies were smooth and without feeling, Lotor’s expression emotionless in response to Zarkon’s mirth and insinuations.
“Ha ha, I’d be a fool to trust you about that Lotor!” Zarkon grinned, and tossed the bar of lazon down the steps. It bounced several times before coming to a stop at Lotor’s feet. “Come! No need for such serious expressions. It’s a time for celebration. You have returned to us victorious.” A clap of his hands had the palace minstrels breaking out into song, the nobles speaking once more.
They crowded around Lotor, all wanting to extend private congratulations. A wine glass was thrust into his hand, Lotor drinking steadily as he listened to the conversation around him. He found he needed the drink to get through the proceedings, having little tolerance for small talk, even for the discussions that praised him. He held back his sighs, and cast his attention about the room, eyes landing on a lost looking Romelle.
She looked up at the precise moment his attention fell on her, the girl cheering up immensely to see Lotor looking at her. She offered a nervous smile to him, Lotor suffering an instant reaction. Romelle’s face turned shocked as Lotor glared at her, the prince then jerking to turn his back on her, finding the slave was proving more and more tiresome with every passing moment.