The chrono meter ticked it’s way to the midnight hour, Adaline holding back a sigh, disappointment and worry coursing through her. They were familiar feelings, old friends that had seen her through the days that had followed Lotor’s absence from her life. But it wasn’t comfort the feelings offered her, Adaline unable to sleep, barely able to eat, too consumed with fear for her son’s well being.
Three days had gone by since Zarkon had all but stolen Lotor from her. Three long, interminable days where she had been confined to her rooms, left with nothing but the waiting and the wondering. She had no way of knowing what her husband was doing to her son, Adaline fearing the worst. Her worse wouldn’t begin to cover the truth of what was happening, the woman fearing the beatings Lotor was surely suffering at Zarkon’s hands.
Of course she tried to find out what was going on, tried to obtain some sliver of information, some kernel of knowledge. She alternatively begged and harassed the guards, those men lacking the ability to understand her upset. They told her nothing, not even a half truth to frighten her, the men ignoring her or laughing at her for her worry.
Slaves and servants passed through her rooms, bringing meals, and tending to the upkeep of her chambers. She tried to get information from them, but the servants were as bad as the guards, and the slaves? The slaves were too scared to speak out of turn. Adaline was left in isolation, her only companion Allura. She wondered if it would always be like this, the only friendly face left to her that of a six year old.
Allura was her sole comfort, Adaline clung to her, desperate and terrified that Zarkon would take the child away from her too. She’d really go mad then, bereft of her children, and the knowledge of their well being. Adaline tried to put on a brave front for Allura, smiling instead of crying, but the child seemed just as upset as she. The girl knew something was wrong, knew and understood the evil Lotor’s father was capable of.
It was too much for one as young as Allura to be able to handle, the knowledge of Zarkon’s cruelty reducing the child to tears. Often their time together was spent comforting one another, Adaline rocking Allura as the girl mourned the loss of her friend.
Allura would cry and cry until she exhausted herself, the child slipping into a restless slumber. Adaline couldn’t envy her that sleep, hearing the troubled sounds Allura would make. Even now after an hour of sleep, the girl tossed and turned, muttering things under her breath. Adaline didn’t even try to make out Allura’s fitful speech, just hugging her close and rubbing her back soothingly.
The quiet of night was soon interrupted, a great, big banging sounding on the doors that led into her chambers. Adaline stifled a gasp, pushing down her hope at what that could mean, even as she struggled to untangle herself from the cuddling Allura.
“Addy….?” Allura missed her warmth, her nearness, the girl rising up from the pillows to rub her hands over her eyes. “What’s that noise?”
“Someone is at the door.” Adaline was already out of bed, snatching at her nightgown’s silk covering. It glided over her skin, cool and soft to the touch, Adaline tying it’s sash around her waist.
“‘Who?” Allura wanted to know, and now she reached about the bed sheets, looking for her beloved stuffed robeast. “The bad man?”
“No.” Adaline was sure her husband wouldn’t have bothered to knock, at least not for this long, the man more apt to burst into her rooms and take what he wanted. “But I’ll find out…”
“I’ll go too.” Decided Allura, having found her stuffed toy.
“Allura, you don’t have to…” Adaline was already hurrying towards the bedroom door, not pausing to wait for Allura to catch up with her. She flung open the doors, and the banging grew louder.
“I want to.” Allura insisted, crawling out of the bed to follow Adaline as fast her little legs would allow her. The stuffed robeast dragged across the floor, Allura almost careless in her holding of it’s arm.
Adaline reached the outer chamber’s exit, the doors seeming to shake as the banging sounded again. “I’m here!” She spoke out loud, pulling open the doors. The action came up short with a gasp, the doors only partial open before Adaline got a good look at her late night visitors.
It was her husband’s men, dressed in the uniform of the castle guards, drab gray and black colored cloth. They stood to attention at the sight of her, eyes cold and uncaring as one man ushered forward a slow moving figure. It wasn’t the guards that had Adaline drawing back in horror, but the sight of her son, Lotor tired and dirty, Aladine spying blood both fresh and old coating all over his body and his hair.
It was a struggle to keep from dropping to her knees, Adaline feeling faint at the sight of all that blood. But she knew her reactions would be reported back to Zarkon, Adaline not wanting him to gain any satisfaction from her horror.
Lotor wasn’t moving, not without the guard to guide him towards her, causing Adaline’s worry to rise. What was wrong with her son, and whose blood was that that coated every available inch of his front?
Lotor took a stumbling step forward, nearly falling if not for Adaline’s arms going around him. She cared not if she got the blood on her night gown, more concerned with her son and his well being. Allura was behind her, and she could feel the little girl’s hand gripping hold of her robe, the girl tugging urgently on it.
“Addy, Addy! What’s wrong with Lotor?!”
“Quiet Allura.” Adaline murmured, hugging Lotor against her. He did not return the hug, just stood there, arms limp by his sides. “What has he done to my son?!” She demanded to the guards, the flames of anger real and burning in her voice.
“The prince has completed the first stage of his training.” One of the guards said, but the answer didn’t tell her what she needed to know.
“Training?!” Adaline echoed sharply. “You call this training?!”
“Ours is not to question why or how.” The guard told her, his voice sounding emotionless. “We need only obey the king.”
“You’re all unfeeling monsters!” Adaline retorted, surprised when the guard smirked at her.
“And soon your son will be one as well.” A pause then, the smirk widening. “If he’s not already.” That left Adaline sputtering and gasping, the woman trying to get hold of herself to question what the guard meant. The words barely made it past her lips, the guards giving her a stiff bow that was more mocking than respectful, the group of five turning to leave.
She watched them leave, Adaline hugging her son tighter, almost smothering him in the process. He did not complain, leaving her to frown with worry, Adaline pulling back hastily. “Oh my son, my darling child….what have they done to you?” She was smoothing back his hair, noting how it was clumped together with dried blood. Blood stained his cheeks, but even more disturbing than that was his eyes.
“Oh Lotor…” Adaline whispered, staring into his unseeing eyes, seeing how hollow and empty they looked. Lotor stared forward, his eyes no longer golden, but a sickly yellow that looked at though his very soul had been shattered. She hugged him again, unmindful of the blood as she kissed a clean spot on his forehead.
“Lotor needs a bath!” announced Allura, the girl staring at the dirtied boy. Adaline nodded, and scooped him up, noting how stiff in her arms he lay. Allura hurried to follow her, Adaline walking briskly towards the bathroom. She sat Lotor down on the ivory bench, and began getting the bath ready for him.
“Lotor….” Allura was standing before him, expression serious. “Where were you? We missed you!” He said nothing to that, just continuing with that unnerving stare, leaving Allura to frown at him. “Were you with the bad man all this time?” She began waving her hands in front of his face, the gesture wild and invasive of his privacy. “Lotor! Look at me!”
Adaline grew more disturbed to see the boy wasn’t even flinching from Allura’s gestures, just sitting there withdrawn into himself. “Addy…” Just that one word, but Allura’s voice was sad, the girl on the verge of tears due to Lotor’s lack of response. “The bad man did something to Lotor!”
“It’s okay.” Adaline said quickly, walking towards the pair. “Whatever happened, we’ll help Lotor get over it.” But inwardly she had her doubts, wondering if her son would ever be the same again. “Until then we have to be patient and kind, and work to get him to react to us. Can you do that Allura?”
“Yes, yes! I can! I can help Lotor get better!” Allura excitedly boasted.
“Good.” Adaline managed a smile, turning gentle hands to Lotor. She was pleased they weren’t shaking, Adaline beginning to peal the blood crusted clothing off of her son. Flakes of blood ended up on the floor, disrupted by her movements. Allura continued to talk, trying to tell Lotor about the days she had spent separated from him.
“And I drew you lots of pictures!” She told him, clutching at her stuffed robeast. “Ones with trees in ’em, and a lake where we could go swimming!”
“Lotor doesn’t know how to swim.” Adaline said absentmindedly, carrying the boy towards the bathtub. He didn’t fight her, though Adaline had longed for that, hoping against hope that his hatred for baths would spark a reaction in him.
“Hmm..” Allura thought for a second, than brightened. “We can teach him! It’s not that hard to learn!”
“I suppose we can.” Adaline said, tone wistful. She knew Zarkon would never allow it, her husband keeping her prisoner in the castle. In all likelihood the same fate awaited Allura, the girl never getting a chance to see the lakes she drew.
“We can, we can! I know we can!” Allura insisted, practically dancing in place as she talked. Adaline held back a shrug, concentrating on cleaning off Lotor, the water turning a brownish red in the process. She checked him over as she bathed him, searching for bruises, searching for a source of the blood. Adaline didn’t know what to make of the fact that the blood seemed to have come from a different source, the woman unable to imagine just what her husband had forced their son to do.
Lotor just sat there, situated in the tub in a manner that hid his eyes from her. Adaline felt bad for the thought, but she was glad she couldn’t see his face, his dead eyes unnerving her. Again she wondered what had happened to her son, Adaline trying to imagine just what sort of horrors Zarkon had inflicted on Lotor to render him into doll like state.
Allura continued to talk as Adaline shampooed Lotor’s hair, the girl trying to coax Lotor out of his shell. It was an odd sort of role reversal, Adaline remembering the month when Allura had first walked into their lives. Back then she had been the silent one, leaving Lotor to do all the talking, the boy tireless in his efforts to keep the one sided conversation going.
“There now…” Adaline said out loud, rinsing Lotor off with the shower head. “All clean.” She picked him up, and wrapped him up in a large towel, vigorously drying him off before dressing him in one of his spare nightshirts. Allura followed them out into the bedroom, the girl gripping the bed sheets to pull herself up next to Lotor who sat on the edge of the mattress.
“Allura, can you watch Lotor for me?”
“Yes! I’m a big girl! I can watch him!” Allura told her, sounding proud.
“Thank you sweetie.” Adaline smiled at her, then hurried back into the bathroom. The door click closed behind her, Adaline leaning against it’s wooden surface. The tears were already leaking down her cheeks, Adaline not knowing how she managed to remain composed while in the presence of the children. Trembling and exhausted, Adaline hurried to pick up Lotor’s ruined clothes, carrying them over to the sink. She knew it was pointless to try and clean them, but she wanted something to distract her from her upset.
Her hands began scrubbing at the blood stains, Adaline’s tears hitting the fabric. She bit her lip to keep her sobs in, not wanting the children to know how disturbed she was over Lotor and his lack of responses.
Her distraction wasn’t working, Adaline dropping the clothing to fall to her knees before the sink. Her hand went to her mouth, Adaline attempting to stifle her weeping as she rocked unsteadily on her heels. Over and over again she repeated her son’s name, whispering for him to forgive her for not being strong enough to protect him from his father.
She cried until her eyes and face were red, Adaline’s very soul in pain. She had no idea of how much time she spent locked in the bathroom, but over her muffled distress, she could hear sounds. A racket of noise from both Allura and Lotor, Adaline feeling a strange sort of hope that something had made Lotor respond to the girl, even if it was negative.
She stood up, and washed her face, hearing Allura’s distress grow more pronounced. As composed as she could manage, Adaline hurried to open the bathroom door, stepping out into the bedroom. And stopped, earning her second shock of the night.
Both children were on the floor, her son Lotor standing menacingly over Allura. The little girl was on her bottom, distressed tears streaming down her face, the girl clutching at a now headless robeast. The torn head was in Lotor’s hands, the boy grim faced as he stared down at the child at his feet.
“Lotor!” gasped Adaline, and the boy turned. Emotion flickered in his eyes, but it wasn’t guilt she saw, the boy suddenly tossing the head down on the floor. It did a hard bounce, stuffing trickling out of it’s neck. Allura cried harder to see this, her expression one of pure misery, the girl not understanding how her friend could do such a
“Addy!” Allura wailed, and Adaline took a step forward. Lotor flashed her look that screamed of defiance, the boy suddenly moving away from Allura. Adaline continued towards the girl, keeping a wary eye on her son as he ran around to the other side of the bed. “He broke it!”
“It’s okay Allura…” Adaline soothed her, picking up the head. “I can always sew Fluffy’s head back on.” Allura seemed hardly reassured by the idea, crying even harder as she clutched at the torn toy. “What happ…” A crash cut off her words, Lotor having knocked over a lamp. Both the woman and the child jumped at the sound, Adaline straightening up to frown at Lotor.
To her astonished dismay, he ran towards an expensive urn, and began struggling to tip it over. “Lotor, what do you think you are doing?!” She winced when the urn toppled over, the porcelain shattering into a million pieces. Lotor didn’t even look at her, rushing towards another object, throwing it on the floor, then kicking at it when it didn’t break right away.
“Lotor stop!” Adaline shouted, seeing him run to the curtains that hung from the canopy over her bed. He gripped the sheets and began pulling, mighty heaves that did not accomplish what he wanted. He began growling, low gurgles of sound, the boy using his nails to claw and tear open the silk sheets. She was already rushing to him, Lotor suddenly screaming, taking a step away from her.
He ran to her bookcase, and began throwing books on the floor, the boy intent on continuing his destructive ways. Allura was still crying, though her voice had quieted down, the girl turning to watch Lotor’s antics.
Adaline reached him while he was still at the bookcase, her feet stepping over the spilt books to grab at her son. He flinched and began screaming, his voice high pitch with a combination of rage and fear. “Lotor!” Adaline shouted over his voice, giving him a shake, trying to get through to him. “It’s okay now! You’re safe here with us!”
“NO NO NO NO NO!!” Lotor wailed, and twisted in her grasp. Adaline held onto him, pressing her front into his back, her arms keeping him trapped in her embrace. He struggled, and even with him fighting her, Adaline could feel how violently he trembled.
“Yes!” Adaline insisted, bending down to kiss the top of his head. “It’s just us now. You’re father is not here. He won’t hurt you anymore tonight.”
His screams died down to a sob, Lotor seeming to sag downwards. Adaline crumpled with him, the two slumping on the floor. She continued to hold him, Lotor shivering and shaking, hiccuping on his tears.
“Oh my baby, what did he do to you?” Adaline wondered out loud. She didn’t expect an actual answer, but she got one all the same.
“The killing won’t stop!” Lotor sounded hysterical, leaning into her chest. “It won’t ever stop!”
“So many animals…..so many dead…I don’t even hear their cries anymore…but the blood…” He choked, suddenly having difficult breathing. “The blood won’t ever come off my hands!”
“You’re wrong!” Adaline exclaimed, lifting his right hand to his face to show him it was clean. “It’s gone…mommy got rid of the blood.”
“It’s still there!” Lotor insisted with a wild shriek. “I can still smell it, lingering under the soap’s smell.” Adaline didn’t know what to say to that, hugging him tighter, feeling her own tears make their silent way down her cheeks. “He’ll make me do it again. I know he will!”
“Oh Lotor…” She began, but he cut her off with an angry accusation.
“And you can’t stop him!” She was silent to that, Adaline knowing how true her son’s words were. She merely held him, burying her face against his hair, her tears wetting the strands as she held back her sobs. Lotor fell quiet once more, letting her rock him into a restless sleep.