Her wrist hurt, sharp pain that lanced up her arm, forcing Allura to bite her lip to keep from crying out. Her sounds annoyed her captor, the red cloaked woman showing her agitation any time Allura so much as whimpered. She didn’t seem to realize she was hurting Allura, digging her sharp tipped claws into the girl’s wrist. They bloodied Allura, deep trickles of blood dripping off her wrist, to plop against the floor. Allura told herself it was good that she bled, if it meant leaving a trail for someone, anyone to follow.
Not that there appeared to be anyone around to notice her predicament, the corridors empty, not even guards patrolling this part of the castle. She could remember Cossack’s words, the commander telling her that many of the guards had been sent to shore up the barricades of all known entrances of the castle. They would be the last stand, the final defense against Merla’s army, trying to stop their entrance into the castle.
Cossack had spoken with a depressed air, as though even he did not believe they would succeed. She had gotten the feeling it was more one last act of defiance than any hope to win against the army. She held back her sighs, Allura still in a state of shock that Doom was losing. She could remember the pained shout she had let out when Cossack had arrived, the man apologetic as he explained it was time for them to leave.
She had been numb as he gently led her by the arm out of the apartment, her friends following in his wake, their moods somber and nervous. She had been trying to reconcile herself to the fact that she’d never see Lotor again, her lips still feeling warm from the kiss he had given her. She didn’t want things to end this way, didn’t want that proud, hard man living on only in her memories.
Allura had been just about ready to demand Cossack take her to Lotor, the girl ready to insist that Lotor leave with them when the red cloaked woman had appeared. It had happened so fast, the woman speaking in a soft hiss, Drule words that had Cossack reacting in horror. He had shoved Allura behind him, his body taking a defensive stance, hand reaching for the pistol on his belt.
Allura had the feeling that even if he had moved at twice the speed, the cloaked woman would have won, green energy that Allura recognized as tainted magic erupting from her fingertips. The magic energy had slammed into Cossack, zapping him from head to toe, the commander writhing in place as he screamed. His hand had grown limp, pistol falling free as he stumbled forward a step before collapsing on the floor.
The red cloaked woman practically purred in satisfaction, Allura having eyed the pistol laying at her feet. The woman followed Allura’s gaze, and spoke a sharp word in Drule, telling her not to even try. The green energy had crackled around her hands, giving Allura pause in her decision to pick up the pistol. She started to call on her own magic, the inner strength Haggar said was within her, to erect a weak barrier around her. She had no way of knowing if it would be strong enough, Allura lunging for the pistol when the woman reached out towards one of the twins.
Allura ended up on her knees, staring up in shock as the woman let the energy float around Sumetra, dangerous magic that crackled around the girl, floating half an inch above her skin. The red cloaked woman laughed as she spoke, explaining to Allura that all it would take was a snap of her fingers, and the magic would touch Sumetra, injuring the girl as greatly as she had hurt the commander.
The choice was simple, when faced with her friend’s well being, Allura had shoved the pistol towards the red cloaked woman, and with it, her hopes of fighting back scattered, her magic shield fading. The woman had pocketed the gun, letting her magic disperse as she approached Allura. A green tinted hand reached for her, sharp yellow claws grasping hold of her arm, dragging Allura to her feet.
The last Allura had seen of her friends, the women had been crying, watching fearfully as Allura was forcibly dragged away from them. It seemed like hours had passed by since then, though in truth it had only been a matter of minutes, Allura trying to delay things even further by walking slower. She had no idea who this woman was, but she feared she worked for Merla.
And yet if she was in the Queen’s employ, why had she not outright killed Allura? Why take her prisoner? Allura had little answer, hearing the occasional rumble of something hitting the side of the castle. Doom still sounded as though it was losing, leaving Allura to rule out the possibility of being used as a hostage for this woman to escape the castle.
She didn’t want to consider the alternatives, didn’t want to think about how the Queen might be hungering to personally kill Allura. The idea of dying frightened her, even more so the thought of how Merla might torture her before snuffing out her life. Just the thought of what the Queen could do had Allura trembling, the girl trying to draw up short in an act of defiance.
“Quit dawdling!” Her captor snapped, giving a hard jerk on Allura’s wrist. It made her stumble, nearly falling to the floor, the red cloaked woman not pausing for Allura to right herself. She seemed ready to drag Allura on her knees, so intent on reaching her destination was she.
Allura scrambled up right, forcing herself to move faster to keep up with the brisk pace the woman set. The halls around them continued to look unfamiliar, Allura having no idea what part of the castle they were in. But the woman moved with a purpose, surely knowing where she was taking Allura.
Indeed they soon reached a door, it’s stone surface carved with symbols that were unreadable to Allura. Even in the dim light that permeated the castle, the symbols glowed with the soft light of magic. She shivered, an ominous feeling stirring at the sight of those glowing symbols. The woman stopped before the door, raising her hand to wave it over the symbols.
Their glow intensified, and then the sound of a lock undoing was heard, the door creaking up with a heavy groan. The red cloaked woman nodded to herself, cowl covered head bobbing and jerked Allura into the room. Allura got an eyeful of vast quarters, appearing as though walls had been knocked down to make one huge room out of several. The room reminded her of Haggar’s, only several times larger, and clutter free.
Bookcases were everywhere, against the walls and standing on their own, holding not only books but jars of various ingredients. Allura recognized some of those items from her lessons with Haggar, noting the completed potions that lay on another book case’s shelves. Near the rear was a heavy slab table, the stone stained with the marks of spilled potions and what Allura feared was blood.
A large crystal sat floating above a stone pit, it’s light faintly glowing though for the moment it showed nothing inside it’s center. Allura knew she was looking at a scrying glass, and she knew from her lessons that the bigger the crystal, the more powerful it was, able to cover more distance in it’s owner’s desire to spy on others.
There was heads mounted on the wall, creatures whose eyes had been removed, adding an eerie quality to their frozen expressions. They watched over the proceedings of this room with their missing eyes, silent witnesses to the dark deeds that were surely performed here. A chill went through Allura, for she realized just what sort of room this was. A witch’s den, and one who practiced dark magic.
Her captor, the witch was closing the door behind them, hand passing over the symbols to leave them trapped inside the room. She was scared, wondering what the witch intended to do with her, now that she had her in her lair.
The witch finally released Allura’s wrist, the girl pulling it against her chest, looking down to examine the damage done to it. It still bled from the holes the tips of the claws had dug into her flesh, Allura wanting to wrap something around it to stop the bleeding. Movement from the witch had Allura looking away from her wrist, the woman content to ignore Allura for the moment now that the door was locked with her magic.
She strode towards the crystal, and with a wave of her hand, green energy dripped off her fingertips, activating the center. Allura could hear the sounds of battle, as loud as though the fighting was occurring in this room. The witch studied the battle, her hooded head bobbing up and down as she nodded to herself. “It’s good…the lions have arrived.”
“The lions?!” Allura was unable to keep her shocked exclamation to herself, taking a step towards the witch and her crystal. “They’re here?!”
“Yes, and not a moment too soon for Doom.” The witch looked towards Allura, golden eyes gleaming amidst the shadows the hood cast over her face. “Though it remains to be seen whether we can win this without them forming Voltron.”
“Voltron…” Allura repeated softly, seeing the witch nod. She couldn’t see the woman’s expression, but Allura had a feeling she was smirking at her. “But the secret to forming Voltron hasn’t been discovered yet!”
“Your lie is almost convincing child.” The witch said, eyes fixed on Allura who tried not to sputter as she spoke.
“I’m not lying!”
“Don’t bother. You color quite cutely when you speak falsely. It’s as though your whole body rejects the idea of the lies you try to speak.” Allura just stared at her, wondering if what she said was true. “Child I know.” The witch leaned in close to Allura, her gleaming eyes seeming to mesmerize her to the spot.
“Know?” Allura asked, licking lips that were too dry.
“Yes.” A purr then, Allura could practically hear the smile in her voice. “You’re the key. You and your blood.” Allura went still at that, dread building in the pit of her stomach at the witch’s words. “Not going to deny it? Oh well…it’d make no difference in the end.” She turned away, looking at the battle playing out in the crystal. “Such a pity.”
“Pity?” She faintly repeated, feeling her horror grow by the minute.
“Lotor went through so much trouble to save you. He put this war into motion, never dreaming that to end it, you’d have to die.” The lions continued to fight inside the crystal, but Allura barely paid them any mind.
“I don’t have too. The lions may win this war on their own.”
“But why take that chance.” The witch demanded, gazing at Allura once more. “No..Doom will win this war, and we will attain the secret of Voltron….even if I have to bathe the lions with you and your unborn child’s blood.”
Allura made a sound, a shocked gasp as she backed up a step from the crystal. Her uninjured hand landed on her belly, feeling for the life within her. “Monster!”
“I do what is necessary for my King.” The witch replied, then gestured towards the slab. “Now be a good girl and lie down for me.” She continued to point at the slab, but her attention was for the crystal. Allura decided it was now or never to act, and calling up her energy as best she could, she lunged towards the witch, intending to brain her with a glowing fist.
The witch sensed her movement out the corner of her eye, turning at the last second. Allura’s punch landed squarely on the side of her face, fingers snagging the hood in the process. She almost didn’t remember to release the magic, sending a flash of light directly into the witch’s face. The woman screamed, her hood falling back, but Allura was already turning, running past bookcases and towards the door.
It was locked, the runes glowing as Allura frantically waved her hands over the door. Nothing happened, not even when her hands glowed, and she let out a frustrated cry, pushing away from the door. She began running up and down the aisles, looking for a weapon and spotted a curved dagger. It was filthy, rust covered and stained with black grime, but she took hold of it anyway.
The witch was cursing, still not recovered from the light Allura had blinded her with. Desperate, Allura peered around the corner at her, seeing her back unprotected. The witch was screaming, promising all amounts of pain to Allura, speaking on the inventive ways she would torture her before ending her life. Allura shivered, knowing she couldn’t allow the witch to make good on her threats. Steeling herself to be strong, she crept towards the witch, sweaty hand gripping the dagger’s handle as she lifted it up. It would take just a dropping of her hand to plunge it into the witch’s back, and Allura prayed she wouldn’t lose her nerve at the last second.
As her hand started to come down, the witch turned, Allura catching sight of her face. She gasped, seeing one half was perfect in it’s beauty, dark green skin smooth and young. The other side was scarred, skin burnt like in some terrible accident, a horrible contrast to the perfection of the right side of her face. Allura was distracted, but her hand continued it’s downward slash, slamming the dagger into the witch’s shoulder.
“Bitch!” screamed the witch, and with a scarred hand, back handed Allura across the face. There was magic to that strike, the energy propelling Allura back into a book case. The wood creaked and shook in warning, Allura stunned and fearing it would collapse on top of her. The witch was glaring at her, eyes narrowed as she reached for the handle of the dagger. Allura had managed to get it in halfway to the hilt, the witch grimacing as she yanked it out.
The book case started to fall, books falling all around Allura. She shrieked, and covered herself as best she could with her arms, fearing the worst. But except for the books and jars of vile ingredients, nothing else fell, Allura risking a look upwards. The witch was standing with her hand extended towards Allura and the book case, her magic being used to steady the furniture. Allura felt no sense of relief, especially when the witch looked at her with cold fury in her eyes.
Muttering an incantation in foreign tongue, she gestured at Allura. The girl felt her body being lifted up off the floor, Allura ending up on her feet. She found herself taking a step forward against her will, then another and another until her body marched her over to the slab. There she climbed on top of it, and laid down, docile for the moment though inwardly Allura screamed.
The witch took her time walking towards the slab, the still bloody dagger clutched in her hand. “It’s unfortunate we don’t have more time together.” She said, as Allura began calling on her reserves of strength, trying to break free of the spell that kept her submissive to the witch’s whims. She could feel the magic gathering within her, though she didn’t know what to do with it, or if she had the strength to aim a blast at the witch.
“I would have enjoyed studying you more.” Continued the witch, touching Allura’s belly. Allura’s skin crawled at the witch’s touch, feeling her use her claws to tear cuts into the dress she wore. “There’s surely a reason why the blood of an Arusian royal is special….something perhaps in your genetic code….something I might be able to reproduce if given enough time…”
“D..don’t…” Allura managed to get out, wanting to shake off the witch’s touch. The witch cocked an eyebrow at her, Allura finishing her demand. “Don’t touch me!”
“I intend to do more than just touch you!” The witch exclaimed, lifting the knife. “It’s really a shame we couldn’t wait until the child was born. Then we’d have it’s blood to study while we sacrificed you!”
The dagger began coming down, Allura screaming in fear as she hastily erected a barrier around her body. She seemed to glow, a faint pink color that made the dagger’s blade shine, even with all the filth on it. She heard the witch curse, the knife unable to penetrate the barrier, the witch trying again and again. It left her glaring, the witch muttering obscene things as she set down the knife.
“I’ll break down your defenses, one by one!” She hissed, waving her hands over the length of Allura’s body. She began chanting, her yellow eyes losing their black slits as power glowed in them. Allura despaired, knowing she had no chance to maintain her barrier against an experience practitioner of magic. She felt the magic being stripped from her, the pink glow dimming in strength. The witch curled her fingers over Allura’s chest, looking as though she was grasping hold of the glow. She pulled and Allura screamed, pain racking her body as the witch tried to yank the magic straight from Allura’s body.
Another yank, a painful wrenching through Allura’s body, her nerves feeling as though they were on fire. Everything in her body protested this treatment, her brain whispering traitorous things about how easy it would be to drop the shield and end this pain. But Allura knew even worse torture would be done to her, once her only defense was stolen from her, so she bravely held on to her magic, even when she felt dizzy and close to fainting.
“You’re stronger than I thought!” The witch exclaimed, though she hardly looked winded. “Perhaps with the proper training, you’d have given me trouble!” A wicked laugh then, the woman twisting her hand, gearing up for the final pull when Allura’s pink glow changed to a healthy, blazing red color. Allura didn’t understand what was going on, but her strength felt refortified, the magic stronger than anything she had ever tasted before.
The witch made a futile pull at the glowing aura of Allura, before hissing in angry surprise. “No…this is not your magic….whose is it? Who would dare…?!” Allura had no idea what the witch was talking about, she just knew the red cloaked woman’s agitation was growing. The witch let out a scream, and began pounding the dagger over Allura’s chest, trying to jam it’s sharpened tip into her heart barrier be damned.
The action left the witch panting, tired beyond belief from that act of exerting herself. “You…” She started to say, and then was turning, her attention elsewhere. There was a moment of silence, and then one by one, the locks of the rune guarded door began opening, faint clicks that made Allura feel a small tinge of hope.
Gripping the knife firmly in hand, the witch strode through the aisles, heading towards the door. It was swinging open, a gust of wind making the stone move faster than was natural. The witch crouched in a defensive stance, her free hand glowing with her magic when who should storm into the room, but Prince Lotor himself! Even the witch was taken aback to see the prince, stuttering out an accusation.
“You couldn’t have had the power to break open my locks!”
“No.” Another voice said, Allura wilting in relief to hear Haggar’s familiar tones. “But I do.”
The witch barely had time to process what had been said, Lotor was lunging towards her, sword drawn from it’s sheathe. The lazon hummed in the air, Lotor preparing a decapitating swing when the witch released the magic she held, the green energy barreling into Lotor’s chest. He went flying backwards, slamming into the wall, Allura screaming in horror.
She expected him to be downed like Cossack was, but Lotor surprisingly shrugged it off, slowly rising to stand. The witch looked shocked, hissing out a one word question. “How?!”
“I’m fighting magic with magic.” Gloated Lotor, gesturing to the necklace around his neck. The witch’s eyes narrowed even further, studying the tiny bag that was attached to the center of the chain.
“A protection charm?” The witch cast a glance at the calm Haggar, who smiled broadly at the witch. “It only delays your defeat.”
“Maybe, maybe not.” Lotor retorted, carefully making his way towards the witch, sword held at the ready. “But you can’t hope to take on both of us at once!”
“Ha…..Haggar is out of her league.” Scoffed the witch. “She’s never been my equal, even when she hasn’t been worked to exhaustion maintaining the shields of this castle!”
“That’s the problem with you, Cortana…” Allura’s eyes widened, recognizing the name. “You always think you’re better than everyone else!” With that statement, Haggar shot a burst of red colored magic at the witch, Cortana holding up her hand to erect a barrier around her. The magic slammed into her green colored barrier, dispersing into a shower of red sparkles.
Cortana smirked at Haggar, but Lotor was already moving in for the kill, rushing forward to slash his sword across her chest. She turned and blocked the blade with the dagger, a sight that should have proved comically. Lotor swore, and kicked out with his leg, trying to sweep the witch off her feet. Haggar fired off another blast of magic, but she was distracted, hurrying towards Allura.
“Come child…..give me your hand…” Haggar advised, putting an end to the magic field that held Allura trapped to the table.
“Quickly, there’s no time!” Haggar hissed urgently, snagging hold of Allura’s uninjured hand. She laced fingers with her, squeezing her hand tight and Allura felt power surging off of Haggar, touching the magic in Allura and making it stronger.
“What are you doing?!” Allura gasped, feeling drunk on all the magic that was coursing through her.
“Cortana is right…I’m not strong enough to defeat her in my current exhausted state.” Haggar’s tone was regretful, the witch deadly serious as she spoke. “But together, if you and I share power….we’ll be able to kill her.”
“Kill her?!” exclaimed Allura, wide eyed. “Is it really possible?”
“Yes, but you have to trust me! Open yourself to me, let me taste the power inside you.” Haggar urged, pulling Allura into a sitting up position.
Allura nodded, letting down her barriers as she whispered an answer. “I will. I’ll do my best.” Immediately she felt Haggar drawing on the energy inside her, a pleasant pull that left her tingling as power centered in their joined hands. Haggar began whispering, foreign words that Allura repeated, voice a soft hiss that would not draw Cortana’s attention.
Cortana continued to do battle with Lotor, the prince far from her now, dashing behind bookcases at the witch shrieked and shot energy balls at him. The jars of the shelves exploded, their ingredients reduced to powder. The loss seemed to enrage Cortana even more, her face twisted into hatred as she increased the strength of her spells.
“You may be the crown prince, but you’re still replaceable!” screamed Cortana, and with a gesture of two fingers, all the sharp objects in the room levitated off their holding spots. “It’s unfortunate, but King Zarkon will simply have to make a new heir.”
“NO!” Allura screamed, an instant before Haggar released the energy they had built up together. The red and pink beam went barreling across the room, blasting holes into anything that got in it’s way, including the shocked Cortana, who turned just in time to see the magic hit her chest first. She opened her mouth to speak, and thick pools of blood fell from her lips, the witch lifting her hand towards the gaping hole in the center of her chest.
“This….this cannot be…” Cortana protested, and then was falling, landing face down on the stone floor. She made one last sound, her death rattle, and then was no more, blood soaking all around her on the floor.
“It’s…it’s over…” Allura panted in relief, knowing rivulets of sweat dripped down the side of her face from the exertion of using such a powerful blast of magic. “Haggar, we did it!” She turned to the nursemaid, and felt the grip on her hand slackened, the woman’s eyes rolling back in her head. Allura shotued her name, Haggar slumping to the floor, unable to respond, not even to the prince’s concerned voice.