He was sitting in his room, huddled in one corner, Lotor hugging his knees to his chest. Tears continued to drip down his cheeks, making him feel angry and ashamed with himself. Lotor knew tears were a sign of weakness, they made him appear soft and easy to take advantage of to the other Drule. It was why his father continued to try and beat the urges to cry out of him.
But this time there was no Zarkon to lay into him, the man having vanished to seek other prey elsewhere in the castle. Lotor would have almost felt sorry for the people Zarkon was going after, if not for the fact they had KILLED his mother. A fresh surge of tears trickled down his face, Lotor pressing his mouth against his arms, trying to stifle the scream that wanted to come out.
The urge was too strong to deny, his voice giving rise to the grief he felt, an angry bellow that surely startled the guards in the hall. He hugged his arms tighter, digging his nails into his skin, letting that pain help him focus. It wasn’t enough, he still couldn’t stop thinking about her, and the moment Haggar had broken the news to him. It was the first time his father’s witch had ever approached him, and he hated her on sight.
It was misplaced blame, Lotor angry at the witch for delivering the horrific news. Even more, he had hated the way her eyes had gleamed with apparent glee, the witch barely making the attempt to school her face to be impassive. Lotor could tell Haggar was pleased by the news, the woman glad for his mother’s death. That only fueled Lotor’s hatred, and left the boy to wonder if anyone but he was mourning his mother’s passing.
The witch had offered to stay with him, no doubt to monitor his reactions to the overwhelming grief that consumed him. Lotor had refused her, refused them all, rushing to his room and locking himself inside. He expected his father to come for him, for the man to break down the door, but save for Haggar and the guards, no one came. He was left to his own devices, the witch doing an obligatory banging on his doors before leaving him to cry in peace.
That peace was a lie, Lotor restless and fearing he’d never find his soul’s comfort again. He screamed a second time, and then a third, drawing a concerned knock to his door. Voices called out to him, their concern whether fake of real going unanswered, the boy lurching to his feet. He howled like a wild animal, grasping at his sword, clumsily pulling it free of it’s scabbard.
He unleashed his fury on the room, pillows and bedding being slashed open, feathers flying all around him. It wasn’t enough, he turned the blade on his possessions, books cleaved into halves, toys stabbed through, cut into a million pieces. His actions accomplished little, save to leave Lotor panting, the boy falling to his knees, his sword clattering to his side.
“Mother.” He said plaintively, and brought his hands up to his face, his agony producing more tears. Haggar’s words whispered in his mind, the witch explaining the tragedy that had befallen Adaline.
“Your mother is dead.” She had said with no preamble, the woman not bothering to make the attempt to soften her words. Lotor had gasped, staring at her horrified, hardly aware of speaking. “This is no joke my prince, Adaline’s body was just found only minutes ago.”
“How….how?” He had gasped out, not wanting to know and yet being driven by a morbid sense of curiosity to learn all the details. Even worse Haggar had told him, speaking on the beating the woman had suffered before being run through with a sword. Lotor had nearly vomited as he learned that his mother, so renowned for her looks, was now an unrecognizable mess beneath the bruises and swelling of her face.
The news brought with it a kernel of hope, Lotor clinging to it. “If she is so unrecognizable, then how do you know it is my mother who lies dead?”
Haggar had looked at him as though he was naive, the woman grim faced as she spoke. “It is Adaline, make no doubt of that. She wears your mother’s clothing, she was found in your mother’s bedroom….”
“She couldn’t have been planted there!” His protest had caused Haggar to snap at him, voice rising in anger.
“Don’t be so needlessly foolish!” The witch had growled. “What purpose would that serve?! Why would anyone go to such lengths?!”
“Why would anyone kill my mother?!” Lotor had demanded in return. “She had no enemies!”
“Are you so sure of that prince?” He had hesitated, the witch sighing. “It matters not who liked or disliked Adaline. She was close to the King…they wanted to hurt him.”
“Then they made a terrible mistake.” Lotor had said, tone dull as he moved past the witch. “My father had no love for Adaline. She was a mere possession to him.”
“A possession he valued!” Haggar had called out after him, Lotor shaking his head no. But he knew what she meant, knew what would drive his father. The man might not take good care of his possessions, but he was loathe to lose even one. Zarkon’s wrath would be awe inspiring, his revenge swift and merciless. If Lotor had been thinking clearly, he would have insisted on joining his father in the hunt for his mother’s killers.
Instead he had tried to enter his mother’s chambers, the guards moving to stop him, one risking great penalty in reaching out to snag hold of Lotor’s arm. Lotor had growled, but the sound was more pitiable than menacing, the twelve year old on the verge of tears and trying to combat them.
“Why do you stop me?!” He had demanded with a furious glare, starring at the hand on his arm. The guard didn’t get the message, still hanging on to Lotor, his fingers tensing in preparation of pulling the boy away from the door.
“Your mother…” began the guard, and Lotor had cut him off, his voice breaking with his grief.
“Yes, I know, she’s dead.”
“She’s not a pretty sight.” The guard had answered.
“I’m well aware of my mother’s injuries.” Lotor had retorted, and the guard had shook his head no.
“Your highness listen to me! No one should see their loved one in that manner.”
“I can handle it.” Lotor had insisted, and again the guard tried to get through to him.
“You may think that, but this is your mother….Don’t let her corpse be the last memory you have of her…” It was unusual advice from a Drule, Lotor wondering why the man even cared. But he didn’t let it stop him, Lotor jerking his arm out of the man’s grip, and rushing forward into his mother’s chambers.
He didn’t make it to the bedroom, stopping to stare at the people milling about the outer chamber. They weren’t men and women he recognized, moving about the room with purpose, handling his mother’s things. He had felt annoyance to see them touching her belongings, Lotor opening his mouth to scream at them to stop. And that was when the bedroom doors had opened, Lotor spying people dressed in green carrying a gurney.
He had known without a doubt that was his mother under the sheet, Lotor’s mouth going dry as he took a step forward. His heart had began beating faster in his chest, Lotor sure everyone in the room could hear it as he stood and stared. He had wanted to ask them to lift the sheet, Lotor having an overwhelming need to see his mother’s face. But the gurney shifted, and her lifeless hand slipped out from beneath the sheet.
That had been more than he could take, Lotor staring at that pale hand that dangled without life to it. A gargle of sound escaped him, and his eyes grew hot with tears. He had fled then, running to his room before he embarrassed himself any further, Lotor slamming the door close. Locked inside his room, he had given in to his grief, his sorrow fighting his shame as he wept and howled for his mother.
He still called out for her, but his voice was weak, hoarse from crying. He still didn’t know if it was a good thing or bad that he hadn’t seen his mother one last time, Lotor wishing he had had the courage to take her hand in his. Even if the icy grip of death was what he would have found, he would have welcome one last touch, Lotor wanting to press kisses into his mother’s skin, smell her one last time as he wept out his sorry to her.
He continued to cry, Lotor wondering if he would be ill, the urge to vomit strong in him. But somehow he held down his meal, even when his sobs bordered on the hysterics, Lotor sitting amidst the devastation of his room. Eventually he stopped, Lotor picking up his sword, and sliding it into his scabbard. He had no idea how many hours had gone by, how long he had agonized over his mother’s death. But his tears had dried, Lotor too tired to muster up even a growl, the prince unlocking his door and stepping out into the hall.
The guards had been doubled out here, security stepped up to protect the prince should the killer return. Lotor hoped he did, the prince clenching his fist tight around his sword’s scabbard, thinking that today would be a fine time to start taking lives.
The guards looked at him, and Lotor gave a haughty toss of his head, walking forward as though he hadn’t just spend the last few hours screaming. He stepped towards his mother’s chambers, and this time no one tried to stop him, Lotor slipping inside. The outer chamber was much disturbed, things set out of their proper places, those men and women having been thorough in their search for clues.
It made him feel better to rearrange his mother’s belongings, feeling she could find peace if everything was in their proper place. He worked diligently at it, his fingers lingering on the items, stray memories coming to him when he found a small clay statue, some forgotten gift he had made Adaline when he was younger. She had cherished it, for all it’s clumsy resemblance to a ghoul dog, the woman never one to toss away the precious gifts Lotor and Allura had given her.
He set aside the clay statue, and moved on, nerving himself to enter the bedroom. For a murder scene it looked fairly peaceful, with hardly anything disturbed save for one corner. Lotor had to study it for a few minutes before he realized what was wrong, realizing the vase was gone from the bookcase, and the carpet was tinged a faint red color. The servants had already tried to get out the blood stain as best they could, but the stain had set to the point they could only diminish it’s color.
Lotor walked over to the stain, inhaling deeply, trying to get a scent he could track. But the chemicals they had used to clean the carpet overrode all other scents, Lotor catching the faintest whiff of the various people who had walked about this room.
Sighing heavily, Lotor walked over to his mother’s vanity, seeing her cosmetics in neat array. He began touching the various jars and powders, thinking how his mother had had no need of their enhancements. The perfumes were more difficult, Lotor picking her favorite, and spraying it into the air. He walked through the spray, letting the scent envelope him, the prince closing his eyes in memory.
He knew it wasn’t right, not exactly, the prince recalling how the last years of his mother’s life she had spent smelling like his father. As much as he hated the reminder of Zarkon, he wanted to recall his mother down to the last detail, Lotor hurrying towards her closet.
The doors were partially open, leaving him to frown, the prince wondering if the people had disturbed her clothing. For some reason he hated that thought, reaching out with a trembling hand to stroke the satins and silks that hung in the closet. He even went so far as to step inside, nuzzling his face into a blue dress, pretending he could still feel his mother’s warmth.
Eyes closed, he moved from dress to dress, until he stumbled into a body on the floor of the closet. His hand moved without thinking, going to the hilt of his sword. Was this the killer, having hid all this time right under their noses? He parted the clothes with his other hand, sword drawn to point at the person, and gasped.
She was sitting there, his mother’s dress across her lap, her fingers clutching at the pink and white material. She didn’t even seem to notice the sword whose sharp tip was just inches away from her face. Allura just sat there, eyes bloodshot and staring at something beyond Lotor. He frowned, and put away his sword, kneeling down to face her.
“Allura? Have you been here all this time?” Allura didn’t answer him, didn’t so much as acknowledge that he had spoke. Lotor’s frown deepened, the boy reaching out to touch the girl. As his hand made contact with her shoulder, he became aware of her trembles, the girl shivering as though she was cold. “Allura? Do you know what has happened?” Lotor asked, wondering if she had wandered in here to play once the people had left the room.
“My mother is dead.” He said it bluntly, trying to stir a reaction in her. He got none, Allura continuing her sightless staring. “Mother….Addy….is dead. Do you understand me?!” Still nothing, Lotor shaking her, his hands squeezing her shoulders hard enough that she should have whimpered. “Addy is dead…” He repeated, and relaxed his grip, instead moving his arms around her small body, hugging Allura to him.
With that hug came her scent of fading flowers, bringing a brief comfort to him at it’s smell. He thought he would cry again, break down into the reaction he wanted Allura to have. But she was empty, hollowed out of her emotions and reactions, Lotor being reminded of the time when Allura had first come to live with him and Adaline. A sneaking suspicion whispered in his head, Lotor turning to peer over his shoulder.
He held in his gasp, realizing that from the closet he could see a clear view of the corner where his mother had been killed. “Allura….were you here when it happened?” He demanded, Lotor fearing a yes to his question. But he also felt excitement, Lotor pulling back to shake her once more. “Did you see?! Did you see who did it?! Do you know who killed my mother?!”
He was left wondering why he even tried, the girl unable or unwilling to speak. It left him sighing, Lotor hugging her once more, petting her braided hair in an attempt to comfort her. “It’s okay…..we’ll make whoever did it pay. I PROMISE you that.”
They sat in the closet for over an hour, Lotor just hugging and talking gently to her. His grief was still strong, but now he had a purpose, the prince wanting to help his friend. But nothing he said or did could bring her out of her shell, Lotor feeling the seeds of frustration take root within him.
Eventually her stomach growled, the boy realizing the girl must be hungry. He stood, and pulled her to her feet, Allura moving willingly enough. They exited the closet, Lotor pausing to stare at the faint blood stains once more. Allura stared too, Lotor forcing her to hide her face against his chest, the boy murmuring a soft command in her ear. “Don’t look.”
It was in that awkward manner, that they walked out of the bedroom, Lotor cuddling Allura close in an effort to shield her from any sights that might prove upsetting. They didn’t get far, his father suddenly striding into the outer chamber, his eyes seeking out Lotor’s. The boy drew up short, and looked at his father, his breath catching in his throat, mangling the question he asked.
“Is it done? Did you hunt down the ones who killed my mother?”
Grim satisfaction was in Zarkon’s eyes, the man showing Lotor his blood stained sword. “Aye I did. I came straight to you, not even wiping off the curs’ blood first.”
“Then he’s dead?” Lotor asked, and felt rage flare up in him when Zarkon nodded. “It should have been my kill to take!”
“Adaline was my wife…” Zarkon began, and Lotor cut him off with a shout.
“But she was my mother, and I loved her!” To his horror he felt his eyes grow wet, Lotor fighting not to cry in front of his father. He didn’t think he could handle a beating on top of the day’s horrors, the boy certain the man would not understand his grief. “You should have waited for me.” Lotor added accusingly, trying to focus on his anger. “The kill should have been mine.”
“There will be others son.” Zarkon told him, moving to wipe the blood off his sword. “I promise you this. Adaline’s death was no isolated incident. Someone wanted to hurt us, to hurt me. They will be found and summarily executed.”
“By my hand.” Lotor insisted, and Zarkon nodded. “Good.” He actually smiled, though it lacked any real happiness to that expression.
“What’s Alfor’s brat doing in here?” Zarkon asked, and Lotor drew up to his full height.
“Alfor’s brat has a name.” He was overprotective in this moment of Allura, suddenly fearing what her fate would be without Adaline to run interference between her and Zarkon. Lotor wondered if he had enough power to stand up to his father, to keep Allura safe from whatever plans he might make.
“Fine then…” His father was less than gracious, all but hissing out the girl’s name. “What is Allura doing here?”
‘I’m not sure.” Lotor admitted, then began telling his father what he suspected. “I found her in mother’s closet…she seems to be in a catatonic state. I…I don’t know what caused her to revert to this manner, but I suspect she may have witness mother’s final moments.”
“Really now?” Zarkon’s eyes flickered with interest, the man stepping closer to Lotor and Allura. “If this is true…”
“She’d be able to tell me about my mother’s final moments.” Lotor said, and Zarkon frowned.
“You needn’t torture yourself in that manner. Her murderer has been found and disposed of, his accomplices soon to follow.”
“But I want to know…!” Lotor insisted with a shout. “I need to know! If she suffered, what she said, if she spoke of me before she died…”
“We have to help Allura!” continued Lotor. “We have to get her to break free of this trauma, get her to talk and be healthy once more.” He hugged Allura tight, staring over her head at his father’s frowning face. “It would be mother’s last wish…for Allura to have a good life.”
“Last wishes must be respected.” Agreed Zarkon, and now he stood in front of the pair. “Fear not Lotor, we will get Allura all the help she needs.” He reached out to pat the girl’s head, and at Zarkon’s touch the girl seemed to rouse herself. She screamed, and thrashed about in Lotor’s arms, hysterical and sobbing, whimpering like a wounded animal.
Zarkon looked as shocked as Lotor felt, but he composed himself in an instant. “Calm yourself child!” Allura continued with her wild behavior, Lotor dragging her a few feet from his father. He turned her to face him, Lotor cupping her cheeks with his hands, staring into her eyes.
“It’s okay Allura! It’s okay!” She blinked rapidly, his face being reflected in her blue eyes. “You’re safe now. No one is going to hurt you. No one at all.” She whimpered again, and then was falling into Lotor, her eyes rolling back in her head. The prince quickly caught her, nearly falling to the floor in the process. He settled for hugging her once more, staring up at his father, a helpless, frustrated look in his eyes.