They had stayed on deck right up to the point the docking bay doors on the castle’s side opened, the great battle ship beginning a slow descent into the waiting hanger. Lights glowed alongside the floor, a guiding point for the ship to use as it moved to navigate inside the castle. There had been other ships inside the great hanger, all sorts from great big war ships to tiny fighter craft that were in the midst of being repaired.
Allura had stared fascinated, her memories of the first time being in this hangar foggy at best. Never had she seen the castle as busy as it was now, people hurrying to and from various ships and corners of the large room. It was almost more people than she was comfortable with, Allura having had limited opportunity to be around a crowd. And never had she been around this many Drules at once, the girl noting that there was more than a few curious looks aimed her way.
It made her want to cling to Lotor, the girl looking around for his tall figure. He hadn’t offered her his arm, not since they had vacated the ship. She wondered at that, worrying he was distancing himself already from her now that they were in his home. Surely it wouldn’t do to have him have his mistress hanging all over him, even if the touches were more for comfort than lust.
Lotor was standing some distance away, talking to the soldiers who had greeted them upon their departure from the ship. They were talking too low, she couldn’t make out what they were saying. She looked around some more, spying her bags being removed from the ship, human slaves easily carrying the small number of suitcases she had brought with her. The witch Haggar had long since left, muttering complaints about how her body wasn’t up to such long distance traveling.
Other crew men were departing the ship, men and women walking past her, in a hurry to enjoy their shore leave. She remembered Lotor telling her they would have only hours to stretch their legs, the ship going through inspection and refueling before taking off to patrol the space around planet Doom.
The soldiers were bowing, Lotor already turning away to smile at her. The soldiers were dismissed, already turning to hurry down a cluttered walkway. She wondered why they were in such a rush, Allura walking towards Lotor with a curious look in her eyes. But she didn’t ask, still trying to navigate what was right and proper of her to question him about.
“Come Allura.” Lotor gestured for her to fall into step besides him, the girl following the prince past various ships. “I want to show you your new home.”
She wanted to say she was already familiar with it, but she knew that was not true. Not completely, the girl figuring much had changed over the years, surely that included the rooms she had spent much of her young life playing in. So she followed Lotor, turning her head to the right and the left to stare around her. People stared right back, studying her, eyes critical.
She hoped she met their approval, Allura wondering how long it would take before they began whispering about how much her contract had cost. She wanted to appear to be worth the money, Allura lifting her chin to walk proudly besides Lotor. She called into effect her lessons on walking, doing a small sashay that had her hips swinging side to side.
They made their way through the traffic of land bound ships, and stepped into a darkened corridor. Here the lights were much dimmer, Allura having to squint to make out some of the decor of the hall. Leering gargoyles hung over door frames, and the occasional portrait was passed, showing some impressive looking Drules. There wasn’t time to study the paintings, Lotor walking too fast. She had too struggle to keep up with him, still turning this way and that to peer into open doorways.
They weren’t in a part of the castle she was familiar with, Allura seeing their surroundings with new eyes. It almost chased away the dim haze of memories half remembered, Allura moving as though in a fog with Lotor as her only guiding light through the darkness. They passed by people, human slaves and Drule servants, but Allura barely took notice of them, her eyes all for the rooms they passed.
So busy with looking, she almost crashed into Lotor’s back when he stopped, the girl spying over his shoulder elegantly dressed Drules approaching. They called out a greeting to the prince, giving him low bows of respect. She was ignored, but Allura sensed the Drules were brimming with curiosity over who she was. Lotor began
exchanging pleasantries, Allura drifting over to an open doorway to peer inside.
Row upon row of shelves greeted her eyes, with only a few desks spread out to break up the monotony of bookcases. Books were scattered across the table’s tops, but other than that the room was almost clinically neat, each item having a place on it’s shelf. It was in fact castle Doom’s version of a library, and Allura could remember visiting it once with Lotor and their childhood’s teacher.
She entered the room, Lotor and the Drules’ voices a distant echo in her ears. Allura was too consumed with the memory of the library, swearing she could see the ghosts of her past run past to take seats at the desk. She wandered over with them, fingers touching the tabletop, feeling it’s realness. The smoothness of the metal table let her know she was really here, that she wasn’t just remembering for once.
It almost left her staggered, Allura sucking in a great big breath as she stared down at the books that were written in Drule. They were no children’s books, but she could make out the writing, gleaning understanding from the words. The teacher she had shared with Lotor had done her job begrudgingly but well, the sharp tongued woman making sure Allura could not only speak the language, but read and write it as well.
She almost smiled with fondness, drifting away from the table to the book cases. Madame Elianza had played her part as well in Allura’s language education, the woman insisting she keep up practice with the Drule tongue. It wasn’t unheard of for Allura to spend late nights reading some fantasy translated into Drule, and often she scoured the Drules written media for news about Lotor.
She came to a stop before one section of shelving, Allura reading off the spines of the books, her voice a soft murmur. She nearly gasped when Lotor’s voice intruded into her memories.
“I’m surprised you can read those.” He said, and she turned, fingers poised over the removal of one book. “Not many humans can do more than speak my language.”
“I had a very good teacher.” She replied, spying him standing in the doorway. His pose was relaxed, casual interest shining in his eyes.
“No doubt about that.” He agreed, and strode to join her. “Was she Drule?” That left her blinking in surprise, Allura wondering why he didn’t know the race of their teacher. She allowed a small nod as answer to his question, Allura hoping she didn’t seem to confused.
“Yes, she was…”
“I’d like to meet her one day.” She almost blurted out that he already had, Allura wondering why he did not recall the days of their schooling together. “Not many Drules have the patience to teach a human more than the basics of our language.”
“Teacher Veria wasn’t known for her patience.” Allura said, studying Lotor’s face as she named the woman. She saw him blink in surprise, his brow furrowing in thought. “Is something the matter your highness?”
“No, nothing.” Lotor said, and shook his head. “Just marveling at a coincidence.”
“A coincidence?” She asked, and again he shook his head no, leaving her to puzzle over his words.
“I’m glad you can read Drule though.” Lotor smiled at her, the girl realizing he was changing the subject. “It will be good that you can make use of this library. I feared you’d be bored, or having to import books all the time.”
“I’m sure I can find ways to keep myself engaged when not in your company.” Allura assured him, returning his smile. “But I hope you won’t leave me alone too often…”
“I’ll try not to.” Lotor said, then gestured for her to follow him out of the room. She did so, and no trace of the Drules who had stopped him remained, the two men having left while she was inside the library. She was curious, but did not press him for details, Allura knowing that the role of the courtesan meant not prying into a client’s private business unasked.
They walked deeper into the castle, traversing many twisting corridors that had Allura scrambling desperate to memorize the path they were taking. They continued to pass by open doors, Allura catching brief glimpses inside rooms. No memories came with the looking, the rooms totally unfamiliar to her. At least until they came to a three way fork in the corridor, Lotor pausing to gesture down the left most path.
“This way leads to the throne room where my father holds court. I know you must be tired, so I thought we could wait until another day to introduce you to him and the men and women of the court.”
She was grateful for that, Allura allowing a relieved look to flash into her eyes. “Yes, thank you for your consideration. I am very tried this evening.” A pause, and then a teasing look was cast Lotor’s way. “Someone kept me up most of the night before, and well into the day with his amorous antics.”
“The cad!” Lotor exclaimed, taking her teasing in good stride. She smiled at him, and stepped towards the right path, Lotor pausing to watch her. “Where are you going?”
Now it was Allura’s turn to pause, the girl looking confused. “Are we not going to your room?” She was sure this was the corridor that led to the wing that had
housed Adaline and Lotor’s rooms, the girl turning even more surprised at Lotor’s head shake no.
“There’s nothing down that way.” Lotor said, and moved to go down the center path. She hurried after him, but not before casting one last glance down the other path, swearing she saw the ghosts of quiet children running down the hall.
“That wing had been abandoned.” He didn’t have to explain, but Allura was glad he was sating her curiosity. “It’s almost fallen into disrepair, there’s nothing but dust and bad memories there.”
“Bad memories….” It wasn’t a question, but Lotor reacted as though it was.
“I used to live in that wing with my mother. Obviously that was when I was still just a boy.”
“Obviously.” She agreed, and that seemed to be the end of the subject, Lotor falling silent once more. They passed by people, but as they moved through the hallways,
the numbers dwindled down until there was only a handful of guards stationed throughout the corridors.
“This is my private wing.” Stated Lotor. “None come here without permission, so there will be little chance of us being disturbed.”
“I see….” That seemed to be all she needed to say, Lotor talking for her.
“I called ahead to have an apartment prepared for you. It’s not much but…” He stopped before a particular door, pulling it open. “I hope you’ll find these rooms suitable.”
She peered past his arm into the room, seeing the dark blues and purples that made up the outer chamber’s color scheme. Silver accents broke up those dark colors, with much of the furniture painted in that light shade. The couch’s cushions were a pale shade of lavender, and there was a bedroom spied through an open doorway. Allura could see a servant or slave had brought in her luggage, leaving it piled against the wall to the left side of the huge four poster bed.
“It’s fine.” Allura answered, though in truth it was more than that. She walked inside, staring, thinking the room looked far too extravagant for one such as she. “Thank you, your highness.”
He smiled at her, nodding his welcome in response to her words. “I hope you’ll be comfortable here Allura.”
“I’m sure I will be….” She said, reaching to touch the back of a chair. She was relieved they hadn’t gone back to the wing they had shared with Adaline, the memories would have been too overwhelming for her there.
“I’ll let you get settled.”
“You’re leaving?!” Allura turned, surprised at Lotor’s attempts to dismiss himself from her side. “Don’t you want to….spend some time with me?”
“It’s late and you’re tired.” Lotor replied, and somehow managed not to smirk. “I’ve been behaving badly. With little thought to your well being in keeping you up as much as I did. Besides…” A sigh then, Lotor looking resigned to his fate. “My father is eager to speak with me.”
She knew the King’s summon was more likely the real reason why he was letting her have the time to catch up on her sleep, Allura giving a nod. “All right your highness…” She wanted to ask when she would see him again, Allura realizing something like disappointment was curling in her stomach. She tried to stamp down that feeling, knowing it was a sign of getting too attached to the prince if a brief separation could make her groan with disappointment.
“Pleasant dreams Allura.” Lotor said, and stepped towards her long enough to brush a kiss against her cheek.
“Thank you, your highness.” Allura replied, tone warmer than it should be. He smiled and nodded his good-bye, and just like that he was gone. She sighed when the door clicked close, Allura not sure what to do with herself. Tired though she was, she felt too wound up from the memories of the past. A past that was more horror than pleasant, Allura shivering to think she was once again in the home of her childhood.
She wandered about the room, hand touching the furniture absentmindedly. There was nothing here to trigger memories of the past, but just being in the castle and parted from Lotor’s side had her worried and frightened anew. The reality of her situation was setting in, Allura wondering how she would ever be able to handle meeting King Zarkon and his court.
Allura shivered as she thought of the King, Allura remembering a frightening monster of a man, with his purple colored skin and evil looking eyes. He had always looked angry when around her, and she wondered if he would retain that expression when seeing her now. Allura also wondered how SHE would react when meeting with the Drule King, the girl vaguely recalling the horrors surrounding Adaline’s death. It wasn’t something she liked to think about too closely, and as vague as her memories were about the moment when Adaline was killed, Allura knew she could not forget Zarkon’s role in the woman’s death. In her murder.
She put a hand to her mouth, wondering how she was going to handle being around the man who had killed the woman Allura had come to think of as a mother to her. She knew to the Drules that killing was no big deal, and King Zarkon was the worst of all. The man didn’t seem to hold to the fact that life was sacred, and Madame Elianza had gone into details about the horrors of the demon king’s court. Allura could expect to see a lot worse than the cold, brutal murder of the woman she had loved. But none would be as shocking to her as Adaline’s death had been.
It left her wondering how Lotor could handle being around his father without trying to kill him! It made her sad to think that in the nine years that had almost passed, Lotor might have come to an acceptance of his father’s actions. Maybe even an understanding. She knew from Lotor’s stints in the arena, as well as reading about his war battles, that the prince was an accomplished killer in his own right. She could barely believe that this man was the same little boy who used to cry all the time!
Sighing, she strode into the bedroom, intent on keeping at least her hands occupied. Allura began opening her bags, pulling out dress after dress to hang in her closets. Her shoes followed, as did jewelry and make up for the vanity situated in one corner of the bedroom. In the midst of unpacking she found it, Allura allowing a small smile to cross her face as she lifted up the ragged and worn stuffed robeast.
“Hello old friend.” She murmured as she hugged the stuffed toy to her chest. It wasn’t often she made use of the toy, but right now, in this familiar yet unfamiliar place, with it’s burden of memories that left her frightened, she needed the comfort of hugging the toy. The stuffed robeast was a sight to see, with it’s fur losing it’s once bright coloring, and it’s wings flattened against it’s back from one too many hugs.
It’s head was still stitched into place, Allura having to sew it back every few months when the threads got too loose. She never even once considered replacing the toy with a newer, knowing this one held memories, mostly good ones and brought a sense of great comfort and relief to her. The toy had made the journey with her, from Doom to Zabatos, to Ranxhi and then Doom once more.
“We’ve both come full circle.” Allrua whispered, walking over to the bed. She kicked off her heels, then climbed onto the soft mattress, finding the bed was far too big for one person alone. Not bothering to change into her nightgown, Allura snuggled underneath the covers, the stuffed robeast pressed against her bosom. She could only hope that the presence of the toy would be enough to chase away any bad dreams she might have, the girl feeling a depressed tear inch it’s way down her cheek.