It was the sound of a child’s chatter, his son’s incessant babble, that gave him pause in the door. Zarkon frowned to hear it, annoyed to think his son could chatter on for so long, and about something so inconsequential as his favorite toy. Why Adaline allowed it, he’d never know, the child’s voice a grating sound just short of high pitched shrieking as far as Zarkon was concerned.
The king was a strict believer in the old adage that children should be seen and not heard, their words unimportant, their needs and voiced desires meant to only bother others. His son had always been a noisy child, and in the beginning he had allowed it, not realizing that for a Drule infant, Lotor wailed an awful lot. He had gladly consigned Lotor to the care of his mother, Adaline ever patient and ready with a quick smile for the baby. Zarkon sometimes wondered if that had been a mistake, Lotor surely learning from his mother the rewards for his noise.
He wasn’t aware of making a sound, Zarkon careful not to betray his presence as he bore silent witness to the scene in Lotor’s bedroom. But Adaline sensed him anyhow, the woman turning to look in his direction. That was all the opening he needed, Zarkon keeping a pleasant lilt to his voice, even as the question he asked was anything but.
“How long are you going to let that brat continue to do as he pleases?” Lotor immediately fell silent, the boy could be so stupid at times, but when it came to his father’s short temper, he showed amazing perception. The boy didn’t even play, just sitting there with the toys in his lap, as though he hoped if he tried hard enough he’d be invisible to his father’s detection.
“He’s only being playful.” Adaline answered, voice switching to Drule. She and his son had been speaking Arusian, no doubt for the benefit of that brat of Alfor’s. He allowed the transgression, reasoning it useful for Lotor to be learning other languages. Such skill would serve him well in the future, when it came to ruling over the galaxy. Zarkon himself spoke over a dozen different languages, though fourteen seemed to be his limit. He couldn’t retain anymore than that, not without the cost of losing another hard learned language.
Still, if Allura was to remain on Doom, she’d have to start learning Drule, lest she be treated like a half wit burden. Zarkon expected her to cater to him and not the other way around, the King refusing to speak to the girl’s understanding. Not that it mattered, he had learned the girl would not speak, leaving her a quiet, shy child. Lotor could learn a thing or two from her in controlling his talkative impulses, though Zarkon could do without the shyness.
“Hmph.” His tone was dismissive, Zarkon hardly seeing the point in allowing Lotor to be playful. He stepped into the room, and something squeaked under foot, some kind of toy made of plastic, Zarkon kicking out from beneath him. “You spoil him Adaline.” He raked an eye over the floor, noting all the toys spilled about, the children unable to stick with just one. “He’s got to learn to be content with what he has.”
“Oh?” A lift of Adaline’s brow, her voice more tart than he liked. “Just like you are content with the riches and planets you already have?” She actually dared to fix him with a pointed glare, Zarkon frowning harder to see it. “How is Arus doing?”
“A point for you, dear wife.” Anger was in his tone, Zarkon giving her an unpleasant smile. “Arus is fine, more than it. There was minimal resistance from the people once abandoned by their king. We only had to destroy three towns before the others fell into submission.” They wouldn’t be rebuilding those towns, content to let the humans live in caves or overcrowd the remaining cities with their presence. It didn’t matter, the humans were slaves now, and soon they would start dying off, overworked and underfed, left to rot from sickness and infections.
“You weren’t at court today.” Continued Zarkon, waiting to hear what excuses Adaline would offer up to him.
“I wasn’t feeling well…” She looked fine to him, bright eyed with a healthy glow to her pale skin. But he let her have that excuse, Zarkon knowing he could always repeat the day’s excitement at the next available opportunity. Or perhaps he’d offer her a private show, he’d like that, and Adaline would hate it. Almost as much as she would hate what would follow.
“We missed you.” He continued, then stressed the next word. “I missed you.” She didn’t offer up apologies, but then he didn’t expect her to. “Don’t let it happen again.”
“I won’t.” He’d hold her to that promise, Zarkon not content to allow anything short of her collapse to keep her from his side.
“Still it is strange…” Zarkon mused, waiting for worry to fill Adaline’s eyes. The blue remained clear, his wife holding her emotions in check. That left him annoyed anew, Zarkon all but hissing. “Too sick to come to your husband’s side, yet I find you here among the children….”
“I made a quick recovery.” She said in reply.
“That you did.” He nodded. “Then you won’t be against spending time with me now?” Was it a trick of the light, or did she pale further, Adaline hardly looking thrilled at the prospect.
“You?” He mocked as she faltered.
“I’m sorry, but I feel light headed.” She lifted a hand to her head, fingers massaging at her temples. “I really wouldn’t be good company for you.”
“I’ll be the judge of that.” He said harshly, knowing that if she was ill, it would only be another way to wrench amusement from his wife. “Let’s go.”
“Zarkon no….” An outright refusal, Zarkon’s face twisting, letting her see how enraged those words made him.
“You don’t tell me no!” He was already stalking to her, his voice raising in anger. “You’ve no right to refuse me! I am your King, and I am your husband! My word, my desires is law here!”
Perhaps he was overreacting, but Zarkon understood that to allow a woman, a subject, even one as pretty as his wife, a second of rebellion would foster weakness. Adaline couldn’t be allowed to get her way in this, it would set a precedence, one that would have her putting him off with more excuses. He had already been sloppy this morning, allowing her absence from the court when he should have sent his soldiers to drag her screaming, protesting body to him.
“Zarkon!” Again her voice held a protesting quality to it, Adaline changing tactics mid way. “Please my king!” She was pleading now, even as he snatched at her arm, digging his claws into her skin. If he wasn’t careful he’d bleed her, such was his anger in the moment.
“Get up.” He told her, and gave a cruel jerk on her arm, not caring of the child that remain seated on Adaline’s lap. “We’re leaving.” He hauled Adaline to her feet, the little girl tumbling awkwardly onto the floor. Adaline gave a gasp, actually daring an attempt at pulling away from him, her concern for the girl causing Zarkon to narrow his eyes at the child. “Leave her alone Adaline!”
Adaline opened her mouth, her eyes flashing and he just knew, KNEW that she was about to say something foolish. Some angry retort that would cause him to strike her, Zarkon’s fist already clenching in preparation for the blow. Nothing happened, nothing for the girl was crying, Allura letting out a heart felt wail that hurt his delicate hearing.
“Be quiet!” He growled, forgetting to switch to Arusian. “Shut up or so help me….!” His threat went unfinished, Zarkon shaking his head. He would not allow this child to make him lose control completely, Zarkon muttering angrily as he began dragging Adaline towards the door. Allura’s sobbing continued, Zarkon eager to leave the room and get away from this source of new displeasure.
Let Lotor and the guards deal with the bawling brat, Zarkon had better things to do! He couldn’t quite smile at the thought, still retaining his grim expression. This whole encounter had left him on edge, his nerves tightly wound with angry tension. His wife would suffer for his mood, her torment calming him down, bringing peace to his soul once more.
“Addy!” His wife jerked to a stop at the sound, the little girl sounding like a hoarse toad as she tried to speak through her tears. “Don’t go….”
“Allura! You’re talking!” Adaline gasped out her name, trying to take a step towards the child. Zarkon kept right on holding onto her, Adaline tethered in place by his hold on her arm. When she realized he wasn’t going to let go of her, she turned, eyes pleading. “Please….let me go to her…”
“The child can wait, I cannot.” He told her coldly. watching Adaline continue to struggle to free herself.
“You don’t understand…” She began, Allura having reverted back to her wordless crying. “This is a momentous occasion! It’s the first time she’s talked in over three weeks time!”
What a time for the child to break her silence, the timing unfortunate to say the least. He was not impressed, and he told his wife as much, Zarkon snorting out an angry retort. “If she’s waited this long to speak, she can wait a few more hours yet.”
Adaline frowned at him, seeming desperate to make him understand. “If I don’t tend to her now, she might never choose to speak again! It is an essential time for her, she needs positive reinforcement to reward her for her speech. I simply cannot leave her now.”
“You can and you will!” Zarkon decided, and resumed dragging Adaline out of the room. He ignored her furious squawks, the woman alternating between protests and damning him. From behind them came another one of the girl’s shrieks, the sound loud and full of fear.
Adaline again tried to stop, and whatever patience Zarkon had managed to retain was lost, the King picking her up and slinging her over his shoulder. His wife dangled, shocked for an instant, and then she began beating her fists against Zarkon’s back. He merely grunted in reply, hardly bothered by her ineffectual thumps. He could still hear Allura, the girl screeching like one of Earth’s banshees.
He began to walk faster, eager to put the room and the children behind them, Adaline continue to hit him. “Calm down my little wild cat.” Zarkon grumbled, and slapped a hard hand on her bottom. The thumping of her fists died down with a gasp, and he was almost disappointed, thinking Adaline’s impotent rage a fine aphrodisiac to what was to occur.
Adaline had fallen quiet, but inside she continued to fume, anger at what her husband had done overriding any fear for herself. Adaline knew she shouldn’t be surprised that he didn’t care about Allura, the man immune to the accomplishment that had been reached when the girl chose to break her silence. She could only wish that it had been something other than sheer terror that moved the girl to speak, Allura sounding as frightened today as she had been the day Adaline had discovered her in the dungeons.
She could only hope that her abrupt leaving wouldn’t force Allura back into silence, Adaline knowing that at this very moment she should be with the girl and her son. Together, she and Lotor would have worked to encourage Allura to continue her speech, giving her hugs and loving that would reinforce how positive a thing talking could be. Now she didn’t know what kind of chaos could be occurring around the children, would they be abandoned completely, the guards and servants ignoring them? Or would
someone come to investigate Allura’s cries, treating her to threats and mean looks?
She just didn’t know, and that worried her anew, Adaline fearing that either one would result in Allura’s resumed silence. “Please!” She tried again to reach through to her husband, hoping to somehow uncover a small shred of compassion in that twisted muscle he called a heart. “Just for a few minutes, let me go back to them. Allura needs me, our son needs me. You’ve left him all alone with a hysterical child!”
“The brat will tire herself out.” Zarkon said confidently. “She’ll eventually cry herself into submission, and that will be the end of it for now.”
“And Lotor?” Adaline demanded, and Zarkon laughed.
“It will do him a world of good not to see your overbearing coddling of him and that girl. Really Adaline, how will he ever learn that tears accomplish nothing, if you keep rushing to them at the first sign of upset?” He had reached his chambers, Zarkon giving a vicious kick to the door. It took every ounce of will power not to flinch at the sound of it banging into the wall, Adaline being carried into the room.
“I know…” He continued, giving the same care to his bedroom door that he had shown the previous one. “You’ve been letting them sleep with you.” He actually made a tsking sound, chiding her for her actions.
“Allura suffers from bad dreams.” Adaline replied. “Dreams no doubt caused by the atrocities she witnessed your men performing!”
“The child needs to get over that, it been weeks since the massacre.” Zarkon grumbled, and shifted her off his shoulder. She started to retort, but then the breath was stolen from her, Zarkon tossing her onto his bed. For one brief instant she lay there stunned, almost not registering that he was removing his clothes.
“It doesn’t work that way.” She told him at last, pushing up on her elbows to eye him warily. “The mind cannot always get over what its seen, and even if it can, it takes time….and understanding!”
“Drule children younger than her have seen far worse things inside my arena!” Zarkon pointed out, getting a knee on the bed. “None of them come away as damaged as that spoiled brat of Alfor’s!”
“Is that why you’ve kept Lotor away from the arena?!” It was a pointed jab, Adaline well aware that her husband feared what Lotor’s reaction would be to the gore ridden displays that passed for entertainment on Doom. Their son, ever so ready to act with hysterics, was more apt to burst into tears than cheer and applaud the killers that reigned supreme inside the arena.
Zarkon glowered at her statement, surely not liking the reminder of one of the weaknesses he perceived Lotor to have. “When our son is able to show a modicum of control, then and only then will I bring him to the arena.”
Adaline bit back an angry retort, hoping Lotor never met Zarkon’s criteria for attending the arena. She couldn’t bear the thought of her son’s horror at the sights, any more than she could handle the idea of her son finding enjoyment in those vicious shows and cruel displays.
“The thought bothers you, doesn’t it?” A sharp eyed Zarkon asked, his hands pushing her to lie flat on the bed. She stared up at him, fighting to remain in control of her expressions. refusing to betray any more of her thoughts to him. “Our son enjoying the arena.” He hovered his body over hers, blocking the light and any chance of escape. He smiled down at her, flashing his fangs in a menacing manner. “You don’t want to think you gave birth to one of the monsters, that your son would be capable of such cruelty.”
“Ah but Adaline?” He lowered himself to her, his weight pinning her firmly to the mattress. “You did.” His breath ghosted along her face, his tone turning gloating as she let out a protesting no. “It may take some time, but eventually his true nature will come out. His inner Drule. And you will be helpless to stop it.”
“You’re wrong!” Adaline cried out, even as she knew she shouldn’t react to his words. It was clear that this was today’s amusement, Zarkon intending to feed off her upset as he taunted her with the future he saw for her son. “Lotor will never be like that. He is a kind little boy, caring and compassionate…”
“But a boy all the same.” He interrupted her, and now he skirted his claws along the sides of her body. ‘And all boys must eventually become men.” She knew that, just as she knew Lotor had a chance, small as it was, to become something other than a cold hearted Drule. Adaline clung to the hope that with her assistance, and her blood flowing through Lotor’s veins, his human side would win out.
“Someday…” Zarkon continued confidently. “Sooner than you’d like, I will start instructing him on the way of the sword.”
“He needs to learn.” Zarkon said, his hands rubbing over the front of her chest.
“To defend himself…” agreed Adaline, thinking it a good idea that Lotor be able to fight his own battles. Especially against his father, the man the most capable of hurting the boy.
“That…and to learn to kill.” He suddenly wrenched open the bodice of her dress, not caring that he ruined a fabric that had cost a thousand pounds of silver to sew. Adaline gasped, more for his words than the damage he did to her dress. “I’m sure once he gets his first taste of killing, he will abandon his human side completely…”
“You make it sound like it’s an easy thing to do…” Adaline returned, just laying there as he continued to play with her body. She’d never take the initiative, never offer him one single ounce of affection without him commanding her for it. “But it’s not! It’s never easy to cast aside a part of yourself, human is what he is!”
“He is Drule!” Zarkon roared, shoving at her skirts. “Never forget that, even for an instant!” His touches became more heated, more insistent, Zarkon working to ready her for the task of receiving him inside her. Adaline tried to tune him out, but it was difficult with his body covering hers, his hands touching key spots that had reluctant desire begin to tingle through her.
Hated though her husband was, he knew enough on how to force her body’s response, having had years of practice. And though he didn’t often bother to employ those techniques, Zarkon usually not caring if she enjoyed herself or not, he used them now, making Adaline despise him even more.
“I think….” Zarkon settled within her with a blissful sigh. “One day, he will be an arena star.”
Her eyes widened, she nearly choked on her horror. “NO!”
“Yes.” Hissed Zarkon, beginning to move his hips. “It will be glorious, a field of dead laying at his feet.” She closed her eyes, just in time to hear him laugh, the reverberations of his amusement shaking through her own body. Zarkon continued to speak, giving life to the images of death and desolation he foresaw for their son. It excited him, caused him to move faster, pounding into her body so hard it hurt.
Zarkon was confidant that with every kill, a piece of Lotor’s soul would be lost, until there was nothing left but a ruthless, ambitious Drule. He couldn’t wait for that moment, knowing it would make up for seven years of disappointments that surrounded the boy. Only then would he be worthy of the throne, only then would Zarkon allow him to take his rightful place at the court.
Maybe then he’d be able to relax, Zarkon knowing he couldn’t protect his son from the lord and ladies of the high court forever. In a short few years he’d be old enough to be challenged to duels, and if Lotor didn’t have a reputation that inspired fear in the other Drules, he’d face an endless line of contestants. He needed to be strong, needed to be able to kill without remorse, and most of all he needed to stop crying!
“It’s for his own good.” Zarkon finished, and covered Adaline’s mouth with his own, stifling her screams.