The corridor outside Haggar’s chambers was a lonely patch of space, no servants lingering, no guards to patrol it. It was empty of life, the people being wise to avoid the hall where the witch made her domain. As such Lotor didn’t feel the need to stifle his yawn, allowing the breath to escape him, signaling how tired he felt. There was good reason for it too, for there hadn’t been much time for him to sleep, Lotor working tirelessly through the night, and long into the early hours of morning.
Meetings had taken up much of his time, Lotor conversing both with battle hardened warriors and scholarly minds, covering all angles of the battle that had taken place the night before. He had visited the Generals of the fifteen fleets on standby, giving them the command that had them lifting off early this morning, eager to rejoin the remains of Doom’s armada at planet Mindigula.
With them they brought men and ships to replace those that were lost, ready to increase the numbers substantially for the siege on planet Amazonia. Doom itself would be down to an armada of twelve fleets, a number that should be more than enough to protect the planet from any outside threats. And still Lotor felt uneasy, wondering if he should call back some of the armadas from their duties, thinking that the invasions of Portupia, Veneg, and Somenia could wait.
His father wouldn’t hear of it, insisting they push forward with their conquests of new planets, refusing to let Merla cause upheaval to his carefully laid out plans for those planets. Zarkon had been one of the many people Lotor had had to meet with, the prince getting up early to debrief his father on a battle he was sure the King already knew all about.
Tacticians were called out, Lotor ready to work with those keen, analytical minds to find out what they could have done differently during the battle with Merla’s forces. Doom’s scientists were brought before him, the men and women showing much interest in Merla’s so called ultimate weapon, ready to offer up suggestions as to what it was, and how it could be combated. But until they could actually get their hands on a working model, it would be all pure speculation they offered him.
The interrogations had started, Lotor checking in with General Duceit and his men, sitting in via video transmission on one of the tortures. So far none of Merla’s soldiers were giving up their valuable secrets, tightlipped even as the tortures increased in severity. Lotor had finally shrugged off his duties, bidding Duceit a temporary good-bye as he turned to his bed.
Unfortunately for Lotor, he was up before noon, busy as ever, unable to catch up on his sleep or see Allura. The girl was currently locked in Desmonde’s studio, enduring another one of his panting sessions. It left the time ideal for him to sneak away and speak with Haggar, Lotor a combination of anger and anxiety. It translated into his movements, his fist rapping an impatient knock onto her door.
The door opened immediately, as though Haggar has been expecting him. Perhaps she had, Lotor though, noting the witch did not look at all surprised to see him. Without an exchanging of words, Lotor brushed past her into her room, nearly tripping over her cat who tried to wind itself around his legs. An attempted kick at the feline’s body had it scampering away before his foot made contact, Haggar tsking at him.
“Don’t pick on Coba. He means you no harm.”
“Just be sure he stays out of my way and we’ll get along fine.” Lotor retorted, a sour look on his face. The witch sighed, and closed the door, Lotor taking the opportunity to look around her make shift lab. That bubbling green concoction of hers was still out on the table, no doubt working non stop to keep Zarkon’s listening devices from working. A bushel of herbs lay spread out on the surface of a work desk, a crystal bowl sitting empty besides it.
“More potions witch?” Lotor questioned, gesturing at the table.
“It keeps me busy.” She replied, shuffling closer to him. “You know…” A sly look from Haggar, the witch glancing meaningfully at his arm. “I could make you a potion that would work wonders for your injury. Accelerate the healing process.”
In spite of himself, he was intrigued, Lotor hiding his curiosity with a frown. “Is that the kind of potion you were teaching Allura to make the other day?”
“Ah…” A nod from her, Haggar allowing a smile to brighten her hideous visage. “The girl has a natural talent for potion mixing. I dare say with a little practice she could become a potent healer.”
“You’re supposed to be teaching her protection spells.” Lotor snapped, coming to the heart of the reason why he was here. “Not wasting time on useless magic.”
“It’s not useless.” Haggar retorted, smile fading as her tone became stiff. “It’s valuable magic I teach her. It might help her save a life one day…maybe even yours.” She eyed him, Lotor fighting back a shiver at her words.
“What does the wind tell you witch?” He demanded. “Do you foresee another attempt on my life?”
Haggar shrugged. “It’s too soon to tell. I dare say Merla won’t quit just because you won the first of your battles with her.”
“We’ll win the war.” Lotor said confidently, annoyed when Haggar did not echo his sentiments. “Merla will have to get used to losing.”
“You may have to as well, my prince.” Haggar’s words made him frown, the witch continuing. “I don’t know the details, but I sense something big is coming. Something that will make the outcome of this war difficult to predict.”
“If you’re referring to that weapon of hers, we’ve already taken care of it.” Lotor couldn’t help but be boastful, crossing his arms over his chest as he stared at the witch. She frowned, shaking her head no, Lotor lifting a brow in question. “No? Then what?”
“I honestly don’t know…” She was sheepish as she admitted this, Lotor biting back a growl.
“Who would know then? Cortana?” That pissed her off, Haggar returning his glare to growl out a protest.
“Your father’s witch wouldn’t be able to see her way out of a paper bag! Let alone predict what is coming to Doom! Hmph. If she couldn’t see past my magic to discern the truth around Allura’s pregnancy, what makes you think she can do what I can’t?”
“I meant no offense.” Lotor said, trying to appease her.
“You meant exactly that.” Haggar retorted. “You still doubt my powers, and the greatness I am capable of. But it’s all right. You’ll learn…you all will.” She turned her back on him, walking over to a bookcase that was crammed with jars, each glass container holding all manner of things. “So is that why you came?” She asked, grazing fingers over the labels of the jars. “To ask me what I can foresee about the war?”
“That too.” Lotor said, watching her move. “Mainly I’m here out of concern for Allura.”
“Oh I’ll get around to the protection spells, of that I can assure you.” Haggar plucked a container of a shelve, the glass filled to brimming with eyeballs. “It takes time for spells to be learned, and she’s still mastering the calling of the energy needed to protect her and the baby. We can’t rush her, especially in her delicate state.”
“Till then you’ll continue to teach her your secrets?” Lotor was hardly pleased at the thought, seeing the witch nod. “Damn it Haggar, I thought we were clear on this. I do not want Allura to go down the path of the witch!”
“Magic leads down many pathways, witchcraft is just one.” Haggar opened the jar, and tossed three eyeballs into the crystal bowl. “It was concern for YOU that had the girl asking me about the healing arts.”
“Concern for me?” Lotor repeated, feeling sickened as Haggar proceeded to pound the eyeballs into paste, each one making a horrendous squishing noise. He hoped Allura hadn’t been handling such foul ingredients, lacking the nerve to ask.
“Oh yes.” Haggar continued her crushing movements, a smile on her face. “You should be glad she cares enough to worry about you. Your little stint with the robeast had her quite upset.”
“That was a mistake…” Lotor sighed, and Haggar snorted.
“That’s underestimating it.” She said. “She’s not a Drule, you can’t use the same tactics on her that you would use on a lady of your own race. Blood and brutality won’t cut it…it’ll only tear her further away from you.”
“Then what can I do?” Lotor asked, wondering if Haggar would be able to shed some light on the key to Allura’s heart.
“Listen to her for one thing.” The witch replied, reaching for the herbs. “Talk to her…”
“We do talk.” He protested, seeing her sprinkling some of the herbs in over the messy remains of the eyeballs.
“Not enough apparently.” She was snide, making another tsking sound. “You need to get to know her better. Learn her likes and dislikes. You need to put an effort into the relationship. Otherwise you might as well go back to forcing her and be done with it. The Gods know it would save us all a lot of trouble.” She muttered the last, picking up a long silver knife.
“I don’t want to force her…” Lotor admitted. “Not anymore…”
“That’s good. It means you’re thinking with something other than your libido.” The witch suddenly stabbed her finger, Lotor gaping at her as she let her blood drip into the concoction in the bowl.
“What are you doing?!” Lotor demanded, then snarled. “And you haven’t had Allura mix her blood into any of those potions you had her make?!”
“No, I haven’t. I assure you of that.” Haggar was quite calm, shaking one last drop into her bowl. “Blood magic is too dark for the likes of her. It would taint her soul. No….only pure magic is what I am teaching her.” A wry smile from the witch, Hagger looking almost wistful. “She still thinks I am nothing more than a nursemaid who knows a few handy spells for helping with a pregnant charge.”
“I don’t think she would judge you if she knew the truth…”
“Are you trying to comfort me dark prince?” Haggar cackled. “How sweet of you.”
“Sweet has nothing to do with it.” Lotor muttered, embarrassed. “I just don’t think she is the type to judge people harshly.”
“You’d be right about that.” A meaningful look from Haggar, the witch setting down the knife. “Otherwise you’d have no chance with her.”
“Yeah…” He sighed now, unable to help the pleading note that came to his voice. “Is there anything you can tell me about human courtship?”
“It’s not like I have a book about their courting rituals.” Haggar hmphed. “And I doubt Allura is the by the rule books kind of girl. But I can tell you this much. You were right about the flowers. The girl has a fondness for them, and I dare say there will be other things you can exploit if you just learn to listen to her.” Another tsking sound from her, the witch turning back to her bowl. “Those children need their mother….almost as much as you need her.”
“Children?” Lotor pounced on the word, seeing Haggar go stiff with surprise. “What do you see witch? Is there more than one child in our future?”
“Maybe.” She looked troubled, shaking her head no. “There’s so many possibilities out there…nothing is set in stone. You must realize that. She could still leave you…you mustn’t grow complacent. Lotor, you must work to earn her. To keep her.”
“I will.” He said, holding a fist over his heart. “I promise.”
“You might want to answer that.” Haggar said, an absentminded gesture at his silent communicator. “It’s important.”
He wondered if she was in the midst of a psychic vision, catching bits and pieces of the future before it happened. He glanced down at the communication device on his belt, a second before it went off, Lotor making a grab for it.
“Prince Lotor here.” He hissed into the device, hearing the echo of static crackling.
“Your highness, word from Arus has just arrived.” The voice was calm, the soldier seeming not to care one way or another about the news he was relaying to the prince.
“Arus?” Lotor gripped the device tighter, seeing Haggar smile as she turned back to her bowl. The concoction was starting to let off an unpleasant smell, Lotor moving away from the table. “Has Red Lion been found?”
“Yes sire.” Came the answer. “They just discovered it not ten minutes ago, and are working to decipher the symbols in it’s lair.”
“Excellent.” Lotor smiled as well, issuing out an order. “Have Cossack get in contact with my men on Arus. I want them to give me a full report on their findings.”
“Yes, your highness.”
Lotor clicked off the device, hooking the communicator onto his belt. Haggar hummed happily, the sound causing Lotor to look at her. “Three lions found, only two more to go. They may be found in time to play a part in this war.”
“Yes.” Lotor agreed, unable to keep from smirking. “Merla’s not the only one with an ultimate weapon of her own.”
“You’d best start training pilots to fly them now.” Haggar advised. “Just in case they are needed.”
“I’ll do that.” Lotor agreed, and gave a slight incline of his head. “Good day Haggar. Good…luck with whatever that is you’re making.”
“Don’t worry about me.” She grinned, flashing yellowed fangs at him. “I always have good luck now that I have you on my side.”
“Er right…” Lotor said, a bit unsettled by her words. He turned and headed for the door, eager to leave behind the witch and the smell. But more than that, he was eager to learn about red lion, knowing it had taken far too many weeks to locate this particular robot. He only hoped the next one could be found all the faster.