The tavern wasn’t the most reputable of places. But the drink was good, and more importantly it was cheap. That was important when one was doing as much heavy drinking as Prince Lotor currently was attempting. The tavern wenches were a constant flow to his table, bringing him more and more mugs of the house blend of ale. Lotor barely took time to savor the taste of his drinks, the prince practically downing the contents of his mug in one gulp.
It didn’t make him feel better to drink so much and so often. If anything his mood was growing worse, Lotor giving angry looks to anyone who would dare meet his eyes. Not even the tavern wenches in their skimpy outfits could earn a smile from Lotor. He seemed almost hostile as he looked them over, noting just how much of their bodies were revealed by their tight clothing.
They were nothing when compared to the beauties he had had in his harem. A harem his father had given away, Lotor losing some of his favorite bed slaves in an instant. It just didn’t seem fair. Trading over twenty women for a single queen. Especially when that Queen was Merla, the woman violent, hostile, and downright cold at times. Oh sure, the sex was good—WHEN they were having it. But they didn’t do it nearly often enough for Lotor’s liking. And almost never without a fight leading up to it.
It grated on his nerves that he couldn’t get Merla to bed him without things first turning violent. She seemed set on killing him. Lotor knew he wasn’t mistaken about that. He bore the scars of some of her attacks, his one shoulder still hurting even weeks later after Merla had embedded a lazon dagger inside it. It wasn’t the only mark on him, Lotor injured in other places. Merla was vicious at the best of times, and fought downright dirty at her worst. She never came at him half hearted, always serious, always intent on doing damage. It was a sick form of foreplay for her, and damn it if it didn’t get Lotor aroused!
This wasn’t the first time Lotor wondered if something was wrong with him. Wondered if he wasn’t some kind of pervert, to enjoy the brutality of what Merla tried to do to him. Drules enjoyed a bit of blood and violence to their sex, but Lotor didn’t think they liked it to the extremes Merla took things to. He had to be constantly on guard, always ready to deflect an attack. It should have been tiring, but at some point it had turned exciting.
Lotor wondered if he wasn’t suffering some kind of acceptance through deprivation. Merla had been the only woman he had known since they had united in marriage. The only outlet he had for his raging desires. As angry as he was to be married to her, a part of him had to have softened through the sex they had shared. Sex always made him feel close to a woman, especially when it extended to last more than one night. And Lotor had had Merla numerous times since being forced to marry her.
It made him scowl, it really did. And all because Lotor thought his father knew him better than the prince would have liked. It was Zarkon who had forced the marriage, who had taken away Lotor’s harem. All in some crazy bid to force the prince to accept Merla as his wife. He still wanted no one but Allura for his bride, but Lotor was that much closer to thinking Merla was good for at least one thing.
Or at least she used to be. Lotor did not quite sigh, scowling at his mug. The golden brown liquid shimmered, but for once he did not take a sip. He was too disgusted over Merla’s sudden lack of interest. Her refusals to allow Lotor to bed her. He could pinpoint back to when it had all started. That day on Arus, when he had made a shocking realization. Merla had feelings for him. Feelings that made her react in jealousy, made the Queen attack him with the intent to kill. He had spoken to Merla about her feelings, or tried to. That had surely been his first mistake, everything changing between them. And not for the better!
Lotor couldn’t understand. Why would Merla refuse him now that he knew about her feelings? What was the problem? She was angry, but now in a different way. In a way that he couldn’t goad her into sex. And he had certainly tried his best, picking fights repeatedly with Merla. Nothing he tried could get her to do more than snap back at him, and even then her heart wasn’t really into it. He certainly couldn’t get her anger roused enough to have them fight then fuck themselves to exhaustion. He couldn’t believe it, but Lotor was actually missing the days when Merla would actively try to kill him. And all because it had led to some of the greatest sex he had ever had.
Right now he would settle for sex of any kind, even that which was downright terrible. It had been weeks since he had last had a woman, Merla freezing him out of their bed. It led to the kind of situations that made a man desperate. Made him willing to do almost anything, sleep with anyone to relieve the needs inside him. But he wasn’t yet so far gone as to pick up some random girl in the tavern, or visit one of the local brothels. He wasn’t about to risk getting an infection from some low class whore who plied her charms for a price.
Nor could he get any of the females that made up the Drule nobility to pay him any attention. Lotor had a feeling his father and Merla had had a hand in that. Something had to have scared the ladies off, to get them to ignore their prince so completely.
Lotor didn’t like being deprived of sex. Anymore than he liked his intake of drink being cut off. When one vice was denied him, Lotor was the type to heavily indulge the other. And since he had no women to satisfy his lusts, he was doing the only other thing he could enjoy. Boozing it up in a tavern located near to the castle. He would have preferred to stay home and drink, but his father had noticed how often and how heavily Lotor had been indulging with the wine. Once again Zarkon chose to interfere, to act as if he was a father who actually cared! Zarkon had cut off Lotor’s supply of booze at the castle, as if that could stop Lotor from drinking for very long.
Lotor let out a put upon sigh, the sound exaggerated. He didn’t like having to spend his own money on beer. Not when that money could be put to better uses, such as his many plots to successfully capture then court Allura. But he wouldn’t go broke from an excess amount of drinking. At least not anytime soon! But it still annoyed Lotor that he had to BUY what was freely given to him in the castle.
Nor did he like mingling with the commoners. It was too loud in the tavern, voices practically screaming out their conversations. It hurt his ears, and the thick, choking smoke didn’t help matters. It made his eyes water, his lungs constricting in protest. But he refused to leave, not until he had totally drunk himself to an oblivious state of mind.
Unfortunately for Lotor, he wouldn’t get to fulfill his intent. He was drinking down the next bit of ale, already having lost track of how many mugs of the potent brew he had had. His tongue felt thick in his mouth, and a pleasant buzz was upon him. But he was not a happy drunk, Lotor shooting murderous looks at the crowd around him. His look would only twist even angrier when Commander Cossack appeared. The commander had had to forcibly push his way through the groups of drunken people, actively searching out Prince Lotor.
Lotor didn’t speak immediately, taking the time to swallow down more of his drink. He eyed Cossack over the rim of the mug, expression annoyed. He was a bit too drunk to notice how agitated and overly excited Cossack seemed. All Lotor registered was the interruption to his drinking and brooding.
“What are you doing here Cossack?!” Lotor demanded. He was pleased his voice didn’t slur too badly, Lotor not setting down his mug. “Has my father sent you to drag me back to the castle?! Hmph. Well, I’m not going.”
“I’m not here because of the King!” Cossack told him. “I’m here because of Merla!”
“Merla?” Lotor paused to swallow more of the ale, then frowned to see his mug was empty. A tavern wench was hurrying towards the table, intent on refilling his mug from her pitcher. “Merla…” Lotor repeated, at war with himself. Some part of him was interested, wondering what reason the Queen could habe to send Cossack to him. He might even feel hopeful, wondering if she wanted to kiss and make up. Another part was angry, thinking Merla had some nerve. To deny him so long, and then expect Lotor to come running at the snap of her fingers!
“What does she want?” Lotor finally asked, thrusting his mug in the direction of the tavern wench. “If she thinks I am going to come crawling back to her…heh….she has another thing coming.”
“I think you’ve had enough.” Cossack quickly said, jerking the tavern wench away from Lotor’s mug. She had not had time to right her pitcher, ale spilling all over the floor. The woman would begin to protest, angry over the spill. “Settle down.” Cossack snapped, throwing a gold coin her way. “And get lost. No wait, better yet, bring something that will help sober him up.”
“I don’t want to be sober.” Lotor protested with a growl.
“Do it!” Cossack snapped at the tavern wench, and struck her shapely bottom for good measure. She gave the commander another dirty look, but hurried off to do as he asked.
“What do you think you’re doing?!” demanded Lotor, glaring up at him. “I’m not finished here…”
“I think you are.” Cossack retorted. His yellow eyes were critical, looking over the prince with a frown. “You’re gonna want a clear head for this….”
“A clear head for what?” Lotor asked. “What’s Merla done now?” He didn’t have as many what ifs playing out in his mind as he could have. And all because he had dulled many of his senses with all the drinking he had done. Nor did he want to try and guess what Merla was up to, content to wait for Cossack to explain the details. Of course, the wait would be that much more pleasant if he had some drink in his hand.
“Left?” Lotor blinked several times in rapid succession. Out of everything Cossack could have said, Merla leaving was the last thing Lotor had expected to hear. “What do you mean she’s left?”
“Just what I said.”
“Well, where did she go?!” demanded Lotor.
“She never filed an official flight plan before departing from Doom….” Cossack answered slowly. The tavern wench had approached with some foul smelling liquid. Cossack would snatch it from her hands, and place it before Lotor. The prince ignored it, staring at Cossack. The commander would make a drinking motion with his hand, but Lotor refused to touch the mug.
“You must have some idea of where she went.” Lotor gave him an evil look. “You wouldn’t have come here in so urgent a manner if you didn’t have a suspicion.”
Cossack hesitated a moment. “Arus.” He finally said. “We think she’s gone to Arus.”
“WHAT?!” Lotor exclaimed, almost knocking over the mug when he pounded both hands on the table’s flat surface.
“We’ve not received one hundred percent confirmation…” Cossack continued, seeming nervous in the face of Lotor’s reaction. “But we got one of her soldiers. He’s been going through interrogations ever since the Queen was discovered gone from the castle.”
“Why wasn’t I alerted of this immediately?” growled Lotor.
“Wanted to have something concrete to tell you…” Cossack stammered. “Didn’t want to bother you if it didn’t turn out to be serious.”
“That was a mistake!” Lotor snapped. “I want details. I want to know how many ships she took with her, how many soldiers, what level grade weapons she’s using. If she took one of Haggar’s robeasts…!”
“Yeah…about that….” Another one of Cossack’s infuriating hesitations. It made Lotor growl, the prince glaring at the commander. “Haggar’s not here either….”
“You mean to tell me Merla’s run off to Arus with Haggar in tow?! Why didn’t anyone know about this before they left?!” Lotor lurched upright out of his seat, and nearly toppled over due to the wave of dizziness that came over him. Cossack hurried to help steady him, nose wrinkling as he got a good whiff of the alcohol that seemed to cling to Lotor’s very being.
“Geeze it. You really overdid it with the booze!” Cossack muttered. Lotor shrugged off his assistance, taking a stumbling step forward. The commander worriedly followed him, hands held out to catch his prince should Lotor fall. “What are you going to do?”
“What do you think I’m gonna do?” Lotor demanded. He was drunk, and not even his fears over what Merla was attempting to do, could help sober him up in an instant. “I’m going after them. And you’re coming with me!”
“Of course, of course!” Cossack agreed quick enough. “I’m sure we can have a fleet fueled and ready to depart within the hour.”
“Do it.” Lotor ordered, shoving people out of his way one minute, nearly falling over the next. “And have someone bring Merla’s goon onboard the flag ship. I want to personally see to his interrogation.”
“Are you sure you’re up to that?”
Lotor spun around so fast, he was instantly nauseous. “I can handle anything!” He glared at Cossack, even as he fought the sick feeling inside him. He resumed making his stumbling way to the tavern’s exit, pausing only long enough to throw a pouch full of gold at the tavern owner. It was probably more money than what he owed, but right now Lotor didn’t have time to figure out his tab.
“I’m sure we’re just overreacting.” Cossack continued, as they exited the tavern. “I mean, what are the chances Merla will be able to defeat Voltron, even with Haggar’s help?”
“Somehow I doubt Voltron is Merla’s target.” Lotor grumbled.
“Then…then who?” Cossack’s eyes widened. “You don’t think….she’s not going after the princess is she?”
“That’s exactly what I fear.” Lotor said, then hunched over and vomited. He heard Cossack make a sound of disgust, the commander keeping his distance. Lotor didn’t feel a whole lot better for vomiting, his head starting to pound. And to top it all off, he now had a horrible taste in his mouth. But that was nothing compared to his worry for Allura, Lotor not wanting to think about what Merla would try to do to his beloved princess of Arus.
Straightening up, Lotor used the sleeve of his shirt to wipe his mouth clean. He tried to act as if he hadn’t just been sick, walking as brisk as he could managed. “Where are you parked?” He asked Cossack.
“Over this way.” Cossack said, taking the lead. Lotor would follow him to a cruiser, the engine still running. Lotor would have to close his eyes, to keep from being sick a second time. And all because the sight of the city speeding past him was making his dizziness renewed. Cossack turned on the radio as they drove, and began rattling off commands to the voice on the other end. Lotor’s orders would be followed, Merla’s minion brought onboard while the fleet was being refueled. Soldiers were being taken off break, and hurried to their ships, all in an attempt to have the fleet ready to leave within an hour’s time.
Lotor knew he wouldn’t be able to relax until they were well on their way to Arus. Hell, even once in the air, he wouldn’t be able to calm down until he saw that Allura was safe and sound. And all because Merla was a danger to Allura, a jealous Drule female with murder on her mind. It went beyond wanting Allura’s throne, Lotor sure Merla had some kind of twisted attraction for him. It was that attraction that had driven Merla for the duration of their marriage, and it was that jealousy she harbored that would keep Merla from being merciful to Allura.
Lotor remembered the last trip to Arus. The day he had realized Merla was jealous because she was attracted to Lotor. More importantly, he remembered what had happened before that realization, Merla goading him into allowing Haggar’s robeast to make an attack on Allura’s lion. He recalled the words Merla had spoken, how she had held everyone onboard the command deck’s attention. The soldiers there might not have dared speak out loud their agreement, but he had seen it in their faces. Without Lotor there to run interference, there would be nothing to hold them back. They would all target Allura, their intent to blow her and her lion out of the sky.
Lotor nearly moaned, sick from drinking and sick with fear. Cossack was still talking to someone on the radio, but Lotor wasn’t paying attention to what was being said. It was all just background noise to his own worries, Lotor’s sense of urgency mounting with every minute. He hadn’t worked up to a full on anger, but he supposed it would come just as soon as he sobered up. He didn’t know what would happen on Arus, but one thing was clear to Lotor. If Merla so much as harmed one hair on Allura’s head, he would kill the Queen. There was no pleasure in that thought, just grim fact. Because no one, wife or otherwise, attacked Allura for any reason, and got away with it. Not so long as Prince Lotor drew breath!