A gentle smile plastered on her face, Allura stared off into space, trying to combat the boredom that welled up within her. She had been sitting in the same position for the better part of an hour, her slightest movements met with a stern admonishment from the Drule that sat across from her, painting. Allura had been startled at first, a guilty flush coloring her cheeks at the reprimand, for she had grown unused to having anyone speak to her in that manner that wasn’t Lotor or the demon.
Most of the Drules she encountered were careful around her, almost polite to a fault, blatant attempts at getting on her good side in an attempt to curry favor with the prince. Not this Drule, he was snappish and short tempered, quick to grow agitated over the strangest things. She supposed it was part of his painter’s lifestyle, the man being a perfectionist when it came to his art.
Bright sun lamps had been brought into the room, set in position around her so that her features were illuminated. They also brought with them intense heat, Allura feeling beads of sweat drip down the back of her dress. She fought back her sigh, knowing it would set off another wave of excited reprimands from the stern faced Drule.
She wasn’t used to working with such a temperamental artist, but this wasn’t the first time Allura had posed for a portrait. She could look back with fond memories of sunlit days in the gazebo of her garden. The sun had been on her hair, making it even brighter in color, and she had been surrounded by pink and white flowers. It had been Avok’s request that she pose, the prince wanting a painting of her to grace the wall of his bedroom.
That picture had never been finished as far as she knew, the invasion of Doom arriving to cast chaos on her life. She fought now not to think about it, not wanting to stir up the pain that came with the memories of her father’s murder.
“Your smile is fading.” The artist said, eyes peering over her from the canvas of the portrait he worked on.
“I’m sorry.” Allura whispered, still lost in a fog of memories.
“Don’t be sorry, just fix it.” He was impatient, thick pencil paused in the sketching of her figure. It was a kindness on his part that he waited for her to compose herself, Allura letting out her sigh, and blinking her eyes. He nodded, gruff approval in his eyes when she reclaimed the glory of her smile, his pencil moving once more, laying down the lines in which he would later paint over.
He had done several sketches of her, fussing over details even at this early stage. Allura wondered if he’d even finish the first stage of the painting at this rate, the girl inwardly wilting at the thought of sitting still for much longer. She wondered if she could make some kind of excuse to earn a reprieve from the posing. But it wasn’t as though she had anything better to do, Haggar had gone from the castle, off on some mysterious errand.
Allura wished she had been allowed to accompany her, she found the nursemaid fascinating. It had been over a week now, since their lessons on magic had begun, Allura thrilling to the first taste of power she summoned. It was a mere tickle of her nerves, light and airy magic that made Haggar chuckle, the nursemaid amused at how excited Allura got over her success. She hadn’t mastered any spells, but she could now summon the energy at will, and let it play across her body in a pleasurable manner.
Haggar assured her that given time Allura would be able to use that power to form a protective barrier around her, a magic shield that would block most attacks so long as Allura did not let it crumble due to fear. Haggar also began teaching Allura how to mix potions and crush herbs, helping her to make mysterious concoctions that were said to fortify the baby growing inside her.
It was a busy time for Allura, so different from just a few weeks ago when her only duty had been to have sex with Lotor. Now they slept in separate rooms, Lotor behaving himself for the most part, although sometimes he forgot himself. He’d get that look in his eye, and before she’d know what was happening, Lotor’s arms would be around her, the prince kissing Allura like she was oxygen and he was desperate for it.
Except for a few urgent gropes of her body, he always stopped himself from going too far, Allura not sure how he managed to control himself. He clearly wanted her, and she’d offer him no resistance if that is what he so desired.
Allura supposed it had to do with his desire to properly court her, Lotor still wanting to win her love. She hated to dash his hopes, Allura thinking it impossible. Especially at the rate he was going! Except for sex, much remained the same between them, Lotor taking every available meal that he could with her. Sometimes they talked freely while together, conversation just flowing between them, natural and at ease. Other times it was stilted, awkward, the pair scrambling for topics.
A tension was developing between them, heavy with sex, desires unfulfilled. Allura realized she was waiting with bated breath for Lotor to snap, for the prince to lose control and just take her, wild and savagely. She wasn’t sure how she’d feel about that, knowing a part of her would be relieved. But another part would feel disappointment, wondering at what could have been if he had just shown a little more patience and restraint.
“You’re doing it again.” Murmured the artist, eyes lighting on her face. Allura colored, realizing she had started to frown, ruining the smile on her face.
“I’m sorry….I just have a lot on my mind.” She offered sheepishly, seeing the artist glare.
“When you enter my studio, you are to put all thoughts and worries aside. That is an order.” The Drule told her, then scowled. “Bah! I can’t work like this. Take a five minute break!”
Allura immediately relaxed from her pose, moving to scratch an itch on her arm. The artist stood, and walked over to talk to the guard who had stood watch over the proceedings. A precaution of Lotor’s for when she moved about the castle, a soldier always with her to protect her from potential threats. The only time she didn’t have a guard with her was when she was with Lotor or Haggar, both Drules equipped in their own special ways to protect her.
She sniffed, smelling smoke, the artist having lit a cigarette. He talked animatedly as he waved it around, ashes falling from one end with each gesture. Wrinkling her nose, Allura stood, stretching her arms up over her head. It felt good to be moving, Allura working the kinks out of her stiff muscles. As she did so, she walked, drifting over to the wall opposite the smoking artist. It was here that some of his unfinished paintings rested, Allura recognizing one of Lotor, as handsome as ever even unfinished on canvas.
But mainly the pictures here were all of Zarkon, various scenes of destruction painted behind his posing figure. She shivered to look at them, realizing they were boasts of his newest conquests, the demon celebrating his victories over other planets.
“This is some of my finest work.” The artist called out to her from across the room. She glanced at him, seeing he was waiting for acknowledgment from her.
“They’re…” She hesitated, voice flat with no emotion. “Wonderful.”
He smiled, the first real sign of pleasure crossing his face. “You will be a masterpiece as well. If and only if you learn to hold your expression for me.” Allura said nothing to this, turning back to the portraits, eyes seeking out the one of Lotor. It was odd, but seeing him side by side with his father, she really could see how little they resembled each other. Lotor’s human blood at work, softening his features, making him a pretty face to take in. Allura wondered what else Lotor had gotten from his human mother, finding his temperament wasn’t nearly as scary as that of Zarkon’s.
A few months ago she would have laughed at the suggestion that Lotor was kinder than the demon, but she knew better now. He was kind, even if that kindness tended to only manifest itself in brief spurts around Allura. She felt it was something she could nurture, and perhaps with it other favorable aspects would show itself in his personality. Allura sighed, wondering why she even wanted to go that route, it seemed a whole lot of effort if she was determined to leave him. She didn’t want to set herself up for heart ache, and yet Allura wanted to try to help Lotor to become a better person. Even if she wouldn’t be there to see it.
She had changed since first arriving on Doom. Back then she had thought all Drules were scary monsters, refusing to see the differences in the way they acted. Allura now knew not all Drules were monsters, Haggar was proof of that, the woman kind and caring. Cossack too, funny and friendly towards her, so different from many of the other soldiers in the castle.
She was sure it had to do with how they were raised, Allura wondering what kind of man Lotor would have turned out to be if his mother had lived. If she could change him, make him into a better person, than her unborn child stood a better chance at becoming the kind of person she would be proud of.
The baby and it’s raising kept her conflicted on a whole other level, Allura fretting over how it would survive without her there to guide it’s growth. She also wondered what kind of mother she would be, to be able to turn her back on her baby in order to leave Doom behind. She hated the thought of abandoning the baby, wondering if she was being selfish in wanting a chance at a life of her own.
She was still mulling this over in her mind, letting out a soft sigh when the door to the painter’s studio opened. The Drule’s conversation died down, the men looking to see who the new arrival was. Immediately they dropped to low bows, Allura standing awkwardly off to the side. She had never bowed to Lotor, and she wondered if she should start now.
If it bothered him, her lack of show of respect, he did not let it seep into his actions. Instead he smiled as he met her eyes, one lone rose in his hand, shorn of all it’s thorns. It was a custom between them, Lotor always bringing Allura flowers when he met with her. He still endeavored to fill her room with flowers, the colorful and fragrant bouquets taking up every available inch of space and then some. It was an expensive gesture, one she appreciated, watching as Lotor strode towards her.
The artist broke away from the guard to trail after Lotor, pausing a respectful foot away from him when he stopped before Allura. “How are things going?” Lotor asked her, pausing to place the rose in her hair. She was immediately aware of it’s scent, staring up at Lotor as he entwined her hair around the flower’s stem.
“They’re going fine.” Allura answered, then offered shyly. “It’s a little boring, posing for so long.”
“Don’t I know it.” Chuckled Lotor, his fingers lingering to stroke through her tresses. “I avoid this studio for as much as I can. I don’t know how my father can stand it. Nor how he finds the time to pose for as many portraits as he has.”
“He makes use of stand ins on occasion.” The artist intruded into their conversation. “At least for the body work. He still has to come in for me to get his face right.”
“Ah….doesn’t surprise me at all.” Lotor said, looking at the artist now. “Tell me, Desmonde, how far along are you in the sketching stage?”
“I can do better than tell you.” Desmonde the artist said, walking over to rustle through the canvas littering the floor. “I’ll show you.” He gestured Lotor closer, the prince bringing Allura over by the hand. She peered curiously at the sketches, this was her first chance to see Desmonde’s vision of her. There wasn’t as much to see as she expected, just the briefest of lines on the canvas, but Lotor stared critically at them.
“Do you see one you like?” Desmonde asked, tone anxious. “It is for you after all, so I want it to be perfect.” Lotor reached towards another canvas, cocking his head to the side as he studied it. The artist vibrated with nervous energy, wringing his hands together as he waited for Lotor to level praise or disgust on his work.
“Hmm…I think…” Lotor was turning his attention back and forth between two sketches in particular. “Oh yes, this one definitely.” He said, tapping a canvas with his finger. The artist hurried to look, nodding his approval with a smile on his face.
“An excellent choice your highness!” exclaimed the artist, taking the canvas from Lotor. “I’ll get to work right away on fleshing out the lines.”
“Can it wait one day?” Lotor asked, glancing at Allura. “I have scheduled a surprise for her, and we are due at the coliseum within the hour.”
“Ah of course…” Desmonde hid his displeasure behind a forced smile. “She is free to go.”
“I thank you for your patience and understanding.” Lotor said, though Allura knew it was Lotor who had done the artist a courtesy in seeming as though he was asking permission. Lotor needed none, free to take her away at any time, so long as the whim suited him.
“Thank you for today.” Allura said to the Drule, already being led out of the room by Lotor’s grip on her hand. Desmonde nodded, but he was already lost in thought, staring in consideration at the rejected sketches.
The guard followed them out into the hall, Lotor crooking his fingers over his shoulders, signaling the man to accompany them. Lotor seemed in an exceedingly good mood, practically humming as he guided her through the castle. She kept giving him side long glances, waiting for him to speak, but he merely smiled at her until she was forced to question him herself.
“It’s the large circular building that’s connected to the castle’s east wall. You may have noticed it when we traveled to and from Pollux.” She had indeed noticed such a building, thinking it was just another part of the immense castle grounds.
“And what will we see at the coliseum?” Allura asked, and Lotor shook his head no.
“That is part of the surprise. But I dare say you won’t be disappointed.” He was confidant, and pleased, looking several years younger in his excitement.
“Can’t you give me even just a little hint?” Allura asked, and again he gave that shake of his head, refusing her pleas. She couldn’t help herself, her lower lip jutted out in a pout, Allura wanting to know now what the big deal was.
“Don’t pout precious, it only makes me want to kiss you.” Lotor teased, eyes sparkling with mirth. “And if I stop to kiss you, we may never arrive at our destination.” Allura sighed, trying to control her reaction, not wanting to distract Lotor from this surprise he had planned for her. “That’s better.” Lotor nodded his approval, turning them down a corridor she did not recognize. At the farthest end, two large doors took up the length of the wall, closed for the moment as guards in red and gold armor stood to attention.
“We’re almost there.” Lotor stated, Allura quickening her steps in her haste to reach those doors. She felt without a doubt it would lead to the surprise, the girl eager to discover what all the fuss was about.
The guards bowed to Lotor, then turned to open the doors. Allura stepped forward, only to be stopped by Lotor, the prince giving her hand a squeeze. “This is where I leave you.”
“You’re leaving me?” She was alarmed, now understanding why the guard had accompanied them from the studio.
“Only for a little while. It’s part of the surprise.” Lotor told her, and bent over her hand, brushing a kiss across her knuckles. “I will see you shortly.” His fingers did a slow slide across her hand, as though he was reluctant to part from her. Allura stood there, clutching her kissed hand to her chest, watching as Lotor walked away.
“Right this way miss.” The soldier said, waiting for her to turn and pass through the doors. She did so, noting that the dim lighting illuminated another passageway, one that ended a short few feet away in a squat staircase. She could smell the wind in this corridor, it blew strong enough to ruffle her hair with it’s under currents.
Uncertain, Allura reached for the stair’s rail, her free hand gripping her skirt so that her feet wouldn’t trip over it’s floor length hem. The guard followed behind her, ready to catch her should she fall. His armored boots clanked on the stone steps, echoing loudly in the passageway. It was eerie how there was no other sound except for the wind and their footsteps, Allura shivering.
They soon reached the top, light spilling onto the topmost stair. Allura stared, seeing they were in a box like enclosure, with several velvet lined chairs situated before a glass window. A table was off to the side, a fine banquet feast prepared, the food still simmering with the heat of fresh cooked meat. Allura gravitated towards the food, reaching for one long skewer of meat that was interspersed with smoked vegetables on it’s pole.
As she chewed on the meat, she looked out the glass window, seeing the circular shape of the building. Row upon row of seats were carved into the very stone of the structure, Allura realizing it was a kind of gathering place, an immense one at that. But right now it was empty save her and the guard, no one sitting in the seats, and nothing going on in the large pit in the center of the coliseum.
“This is Lotor’s surprise?” She murmured, listening to the wind howl in the empty building. So far she wasn’t impressed by this desolate looking place, far more interested in the food and drink than the surroundings.
“This is the royal family’s private booth.” The guard told her, having taken up position by the entrance to the stairs.
“Oh?” Allura turned to look at him. “Does Lotor come here often?”
“Sometimes. Mainly it is the King who uses this booth.” He answered.
“I see. Is it always so empty?” Allura asked, gesturing at the empty seats.
The guard shook his had no. “It’s usually crowded to the point of standing room only. Lotor had the coliseum shut down for the day, so as to give a private performance for you alone.”
“He did that for me?” Allura couldn’t help but be impressed at the thought of him turning away all those people just for her.
“Yes.” The guard said, and Allura allowed a small smile to cross her face. She retrieved another skewer of meat, and made her way over to the seats, sitting down. She ate neatly, taking care not to get any crumbs on herself, or on the red and black velvet of the chair. Allura stared off into space, wondering when Lotor would appear. Minutes seemed to pass, and nothing was happening except for her belly growing full, Allura sighing in impatience.
She was about to get up for another meat skewer, when the sound of trumpets was heard. They trumpeted out a welcoming beat, heralding the arrival of someone in the pit. She peered into the darkened arena, but couldn’t make out the man who was now standing in it’s center. Not until light flooded the place, bright illumination that cast the seating area in darkness, leaving only the pit lit up.
“Lotor!” Allura gasped, seeing him standing there, his clothing changed to his battle uniform. That pointed horns helmet of his was on his head, and he held a shield with the crest of Doom on one arm. The other hand was in poised over his sheathed sword, the prince just waiting for something.
A loud rumble was heard, Lotor and Allura both turning in it’s direction. She saw a gate opening up, spiked gray bars lifting slowly, and a dark shadow pacing impatiently behind it. A roar was heard, the sound eager in it’s impatience, blood curling in it’s ferocity. It made Allura shiver, the girl wrapping her arms around her as she stared.
Finally the gate was up, and the creature was revealed, a large, grotesque monster that so clearly towered over Lotor even from the distance that separated them. The creature’s skin was all greens and purples, scales glinting in the bright light. It walked upright like a man, with wicked looking claws on it’s feet, and a long tail spread out behind it for balance. That tail had a barbed end, sharp spikes looking dangerous.
It screamed again, and began making it’s way towards the center of the ring, eyes locked on Lotor. The prince stood there, calm and confidant where Allura was not, Lotor reaching to withdraw his sword. The lazon hummed, the blade a bright neon blue color. The creature seemed to react to the presence of the blade, a challenge scream roaring out of it as it broke into a run.
Lotor moved, blade a blur as he began running towards the creature, his own war cry being issued out of him. Without being aware of it, Allura had leaped to her feet, pressing both hands against the glass, a protesting no issuing from her lips. The remains of her meat skewer were on the floor, trampled by her heels in her haste to get to the window.
She wanted to scream, but she feared what would happen if her cry diverted Lotor’s attention at a crucial moment. Allura was left helpless, only able to watch him as he engaged the monster in battle. The monster lunged the final steps towards Lotor, it’s clawed paw already swiping out in a blow meant to sever the prince’s head from his neck.
A clang was heard, Lotor having brought up his arm with the shield, the creature’s claws scraping over the metal surface. Lotor seemed to buckle under from the press of the monster’s foot, the prince’s struggling not to go down to his knees. One knee touched the ground, and then Lotor seemed to surge with strength, stabbing his sword arm forward to slash a cut into the monster’s underside.
That distracted the beast, it’s foot leaving the shield as it hopped back a step, spinning in place. It’s barbed tail was swinging, aiming at Lotor who dropped completely, rolling out of the way. Allura pounded frantically on the glass, muttering to herself. “Get up! Get up!”
Lotor rolled to a stop, and straightened, once again lunging towards the monster’s unprotected belly. It screamed, and brought down it’s arm, allowing Lotor to slice it open, a spurt of blood hitting the front of his uniform. Bits of it got on his face, Lotor not pausing to wipe it off as he circled around the beast, trying for another attack. The creature dropped to all fours, and jaw open wide to snap at Lotor’s arm, it dove forward.
The prince wasn’t fast enough this time, Allura giving voice to her scream when she saw that monstrous mouth clamp down on Lotor’s arm. It bit at the flesh between wrist and elbow, shaking Lotor about like a rag doll.
“Do something!” Allura cried to the guard, feeling frantic. “Save him!”
“He ordered us not to interfere.” The guard said, and she turned to glare at him. “There’s no way to reach the arena from this box!”
A triumphant roar from the monster, Allura turning to see Lotor flying, seconds away from slamming into the wall that surrounded the pit. He crashed into it with a sickening sound, the creature already walking towards Lotor, fangs bared, ready to finish him off. She watched in horror as it bent over Lotor, mouth open wide to take in his head, only to suddenly rear back, something stuck between it’s many rows of teeth.
It was Lotor’s shield, the prince doing a lying down jump that had his body snapping to a standing position. The monster was distracted, shaking it’s head, trying to dislodge the shield. Lotor took off running, his hair streaming out behind him, the white no longer pristine but colored with blood and the dust of the pit’s sand. A scream from the monster, the shield snapping in half from the pressure of it’s fangs. It charged after Lotor, each footstep sounding like a mini earthquake.
Boom, boom went the monster’s footsteps, stirring up sand with it’s heavy trod. It took a swing at Lotor, the prince dropping forward in a barrel roll at the last second. He rolled to where his sword lay, hand closing around the hilt just as the monster caught up with him. Not trying to stand, Lotor turned, down on his knees and thrust with all his might into the underside of the monster.
It went still, a gurgled cry escaping it’s lips. It’s head moved from left to right, a weak, jerky gesture as blood spilled onto the sand. Both Lotor and the monster panted, staring at each other. Slowly Lotor smirked, Allura seeing him jerk back his sword arm, a large arc of blood following it’s removal. It splattered everywhere, the monster clutching at the wound, Allura seeing it was about level with where she reckoned it’s heart would be.
Lotor was backing up a step, sword held at a cautious angle, the lazon dulled with the monster’s blood. Allura let out a hysterical laugh, wondering how one cleaned lazon without burning through a towel’s fabric. The monster took a step towards Lotor, tail whipping in agitation, Allura moaning out a warning. A warning she need not voice, for the creature’s eyes suddenly crossed, the monster teetering to the side, to fall down dead on the ground.
Except for the guard’s relieved sigh, there was silence in the royal booth, Allura staring down at Lotor. He didn’t look her way, instead approaching the dead monster, kicking at it with his foot. It didn’t rouse, didn’t so much as twitch one toe in response. She saw Lotor nod, and step closer to it, eying it’s exposed underside. Allura’s face twisted up in concern when she saw him raise his sword high, eyes widening when he drove the blade into the creature’s chest.
To her shock and dismay, Lotor began hacking away at the monster, carving open it’s soft flesh so that she could see the muscles and nerves beneath it. Blood oozed out of the opening, and still Lotor continued to work, unmindful of the mess he was making. The lazon blade sawed through the bones of the creature’s rib cage, until at last it’s heart was revealed.
It was a reddish pink thin, with bits of blue veins on it’s surface. Lotor eyed it for a moment, then sunk his arm into the cavity, gloved fingers reaching for the heart. He had to struggle to remove it, strands of thick muscle trying to hold it fast to the insides. But bit by bit he did so, until at last he held a heart that was twice as big as his fist. Only then did Lotor turn in her direction, his eyes seeking out her form inside the royal booth.
They locked gazes with other, Lotor deadly serious as he held up the heart for her inspection. She barely looked at it, staring at him, a mixture of emotions, both relief and disgust warring within her. Relief won out in the end, Allura bursting into distressed tears.