Breakfast had been waiting for her when she got up, Allura stepping out into the outer chamber to find a feast laid out on the table. It was more than one person alone could eat, perhaps even two people would struggle to finish off the meal. She wasn’t left to eat alone, Lotor soon arrived, freshly showered and looking good in a silk black tunic.
Allura almost blushed looking at him, conscious she was still wearing the dress from yesterday, the gown rumpled from her sleep. Lotor didn’t comment on her less than perfect appearance, brushing a kiss against her lips before sitting down besides her. He was already reaching for a plate, selecting delicacies as he began speaking to her.
“How was your first night on Doom?”
She paused to consider her answer, knowing she had slipped into a troubled sleep. Dreams had come to her, fragments of memories she hadn’t often thought about now tormenting her with their presence. She was grateful she hadn’t woken up screaming, Allura knowing she’d be deathly embarrassed over having such a reaction to her nightmares.
“It was fine.” Allura said at last, reaching for a steaming mug of caffeine. She added milk and honey to the brown liquid, it’s color softening to a pale shade.
“Just fine?” He asked, breaking a long piece of bread into two halves. He placed one half onto her plate, Lotor smearing jellies and creams onto the one in his hand. She nodded, and saw him smirk, a teasing light coming into his eyes. “Were you lonely Allura?”
“Lonely…?” She echoed, seeing him grin wider.
“You must have missed my presence. I know, it’s such hardship to be separated from me so soon.”
Allura blinked, a bit taken aback by his display of arrogance. She wasn’t even sure how to respond to that, sitting there quietly with a jar of jam in one hand. She had in a way missed sleeping in his arms, but Allura felt she was nowhere near the point of being so dependent on him that it would disturb her sleep if he was gone from her side!
Her hesitation showed on her face, he was suddenly patting her knee, still smiling. “I’m teasing Allura. I know that four days couldn’t possibly be enough time to foster that kind of closeness. Even with the pleasures we shared.”
“Ah..” A pause, Allura setting down the jam. “I think I was lonely.”
“Oh?” Now surprise glittered in the prince’s eyes, the man looking curiously at her.
“I’ve never slept alone before…” He looked astonished at that, Allura hurrying to explain. “Back at Madame’s Elianza’s estate, I had a friend as roomate. And even in the orphanage, I wasn’t alone. There was many children there in one room. And before that….”
She shook her head, not wanting to bring up Adaline’s memory. “It’s nothing…I shouldn’t be troubling you with this. It matters not my comfort.”
“That’s a very low sense of self worth you have if you believe that.” Lotor said, and Allura blinked in surprise. “Of course it matters….at the very least it should matter to you.”
She hesitated, Allura debating what to tell him about Madame Elianza’s teachings. The client’s comfort and pleasure, their wants and needs always came first. A courtesan little more than an object to be used to attain those goals. “That’s not what I’ve been taught.” She said at last, quickly looking down to block out his shocked expression.
“Oh? What were you taught then?” Lotor asked, and she blushed.
“Courtesan secrets.” That much she could admit to, Allura not wanting to go into detail. Still the prince didn’t seem the type to drop the subject, Lotor leaning into her, his eyes intent on her. She tried not to turn redder under his fierce scrutiny, Allura busying herself with eating pieces of preserved fruit.
“Courtesan secrets?” He repeated, and she nodded. “Like what?”
“Like how to pleasure a man.” She was anything but casual as she licked up the juices of a peach, adding the following. “Or a woman if it came to it.”
“Yes.” Another nod. “Madame Elianza was very thorough. We learned how to please both genders, humans, Drules, and human hybrids. Almost nothing was left hidden to us.” It was almost true, Allura wondering just what the Madame would have taught her if she hadn’t suddenly graduated them all early.
“So you’re very knowledgeable about your trade?” Lotor asked, and she nodded again.
“I try to be my best.”
“I have no doubt you will succeed in that.” Lotor said, flashing a grin of pure satisfaction at her. He seemed determined to keep her in a perpetual state of blushing, Allura ducking her head shyly.
“It wasn’t all sex you know.” She said, still not looking at him. “Madame Elianza was sure to make us educated in other areas. There was lots of classes to attend…sometimes it seemed there wasn’t a moment of free time to ourselves.”
“It sounds like a lot of hard work.” Commented Lotor.
“Oh it was!” Allura exclaimed passionately. “But the teachers always made the learning fun. In addition to our history and math lessons, we had classes that covered everything from walking right to the art of conversation.”
“Sounds like useful things.” She couldn’t tell if he was teasing her or not, Allura unable to read this new, adult Lotor.
“It is. I’m sure you find other uses for me that extend beyond your bed.” It was perhaps a bold thing to say, but Allura wanted to prove to Lotor she was more than just a person to have sex with. She could be his friend, his confidant, his comfort from the intrigues of court.
“I wouldn’t be surprised.” Answered Lotor, with a small smile. It turned bigger in the next instant. “Though I admit my favorite by far will be exploring the many skills you have learned for pleasuring a man.”
She wasn’t sure if she read the signals right, Allura setting down her fork to reach out and caress her fingers over his arm. “Do you want me to show you the many caresses I have learned for pleasing a prince?” Lotor looked intrigued by her offer, dark heat filling his eyes.
“I would love that.” He said, then sighed. “But we have places to be….meetings we cannot delay any longer….”
“Meetings?” Allura echoed, doing one last teasing caress of her fingers. He seemed to shiver in pleasure at her touch, Lotor locking eyes with her.
“My father. He’s requested your presence at today’s fights.” Allura turned cold at the mention of the King’s interest in her, the girl letting her hand fall away from Lotor’s arm.
“He wants to see me?” She asked, voice trying not to betray her shock and anxiety at the thought.
“Yes. He’s very interested in meeting the woman I picked up on Ranxhi. Don’t worry Allura. He won’t bite.” He gave her a smile that was meant to reassure her, but Allura was anything but.
“So…I’m to attend court today?”
“Actually it’ll be a more intimate setting.” Lotor answered her. “You’ll be joining the King and his closest…acquaintances in the royal box at the arena.”
That sounded a million times worse than meeting Zarkon with every noble of the high court gathered around them, Allura trying not to whimper in fear. But she kept her expression composed, forcing a smile on her face that she did not feel. “How….how lovely.”
“I won’t be there for much of the meeting unfortunately.” Lotor continued, and Allura nearly gasped. He was going to leave her to fend for herself among Zarkon and his lackeys?! “I’ll be fighting in the arena today.”
“That’s…..that’s wonderful…I’m sure I’ll enjoy seeing you do battle.” Allura stuttered out, and Lotor gave her a strange look. “What?”
“I’m just surprised. ” He said in response to her quizzical look. “Not many humans find the arena a worthy entertainment.”
“Ah. Well, Madame Elianza often had us watch the Doom entertainments in order to prepare us should we end up with a lover who was Drule.” Allura answered. “I’ve actually seen you fight plenty of times.” She kept quiet about how she had never missed even one of his fights, not wanting to seem like an obsessed fan.
“So you think you’ll be able to handle the…excitement of the arena and it’s spectacles?” Lotor asked, and she was quick to reassure him.
“Fear not your highness. I won’t bring you embarrassment with my reactions. I know what to expect, and how to conduct myself.”
“Good.” He nodded, and reached for another piece of bread. “I think you should go get ready now.”
“I will.” Allura excused herself from the table, and hurried into the bedroom. She took a quick shower, and then began rummaging through her closest, trying to find an outfit that would be suitable both for the arena and meeting with a King. She settled on a pale gray color of stretch silk, the long sleeved dress molding itself to her body. There was purple splash on the fabric’s lower half, a good three inches of lavender patterns that added a touch of color to an otherwise drab dress.
She added some diamonds to her ears, and a lavender barrette was used to pin back her hair. Allura stared at her reflection, worrying that she still looked too plainly dressed for the day’s agenda. It was to a sigh that she turned away from the mirror, walking out of the bedroom to rejoin Lotor who still sat at the table. She found herself nervous anew at meeting with him, Allura fidgeting her hands against her skirt.
“How do I look?” She asked, trying not to blush as Lotor looked her over from head to toe.
“You look wonderful.” He said, the pleased look on his face surely meaning he wasn’t telling her an ego flattering lie.
“I wasn’t sure what to wear…” Allura told him in response, still smoothing her hands down her dress’ front.
“It’s fine.” Lotor told her, pushing away from the table to stand. “It might be a little understated for the throne room, but it’s more than appropriate for a trip to the arena.” Her face fell, Lotor frowning at her. “What?”
“I don’t have many extravagant gowns.” She admitted, worried anew that she’d bring him embarrassment with her simple dresses. “Certainly nothing like what your nobles wear when holding court.”
“Easy enough to fix.” Lotor told her. “I’ll open a line of credit in your name with the shops in the city. You’ll have free reign to choose what you think would suit you best
for your time on Doom.”
“Thank you.” She said gratefully, relieved the issue of clothing seemed to be solved. “You’re very thoughtful and generous.”
“I’m hardly either of those.” Allura got the distinct impression she had embarrassed the prince, the girl wanting to apologize but holding her tongue. “If there’s nothing else, we can leave now.”
“Yes. I’m ready.” Allura said, knowing she was as ready as she was ever going to be when it came to meeting Zarkon once more. Lotor nodded, and walked to the apartment’s door, pausing to hold it open for her. She brushed past him, hearing him let out a breathy sigh, alerting her to the fact he was sniffing at her hair. They had discovered while in his cabin aboard the war ship, that it was no perfume or shampoo that attracted him to her. It was all Allura, the girl having a pleasing scent that seemed to drive the prince wild.
“What you do to me.” He murmured softly, Allura having to strain to make out his words. She smiled once she got his meaning, Allura giving him a coy look. Lotor was struggling to keep composed, moving to walk one step ahead of her. She followed behind him, knowing that one day this part of the castle would most likely become familiar enough to her that she wouldn’t need his guidance.
They didn’t do much talking as they traveled through the castle, Lotor walking stiff legged in an attempt to keep from pouncing on her. Allura was aware with the right look and words she could force him to abandon his plans for the day, her body holding an irresistible allure for the Drule. But she didn’t resort to such tactics, knowing she couldn’t put off the meeting with Zarkon forever.
Eventually they reached the fork in the hall, Lotor leading her down the corridor that led to the arena. Even this early in the day there were Drules about, many elegantly dressed men and women who paused to turn and look at Allura and the prince. They made no show of lowering their voices, speculating wildly in Drule about Allura. She almost smiled at that, thinking they must assume she couldn’t speak their language.
Eyes were on her, studying her all over, women keeping up a running commentary on everything from her simple dress to the way she walked. The men were just as bad, perhaps even worse, speaking lustful comments about her body and what they would like to do with her. It made her want to blush furiously, Allura trying to keep her expression blank of emotion so as not to betray that she knew what was being said.
At last Lotor stopped before a pair of doors, guards hurrying to pull them open. She could see a small set of stairs leading up past the doors, artificial light illuminating the stone steps. She could also hear the sound of a great big crowd, voices roaring as they cheered and taunted several someone’s. There was no doubt in Allura’s mind that this was the arena they were entering, the girl following Lotor up the stair case.
He paused at the top of it, offering her his hand. She took it, letting him help her up the last step and into what turned out to be a large balcony. There was several Drules milling about, some pressed up at the glass that separated them from the arena. Past them, in the pit of the arena was several Drules, the men working in unison to destroy a robeast that stood over twenty feet tall.
They weren’t having an easy time of it, at least one of the men was bleeding. The robeast growled and screamed out it’s fury, tail lashing as it attacked a Drule with it’s front claws. The crowd was going wild, some of the people down right insulting in what they shouted at the men.
She looked away from the arena pit, studying the balcony once more. There was one servant present, the woman hovering over the table laid out with food. Allura was suddenly glad she had eaten before coming here, the girl not thinking she’d be able to stomach a meal while watching the sights of the arena.
“And there he is.” A new voice said, and Allura nearly jumped in fright. She hadn’t missed him upon her entrance into the balcony box, Zarkon’s tall figure imposing, even when he was seated on his throne. He looked exactly like she remembered him, dressed in black and blood red robes, with malevolent eyes and a cruel set to his lips. She tried not to tremble, Allura wishing she could cling to Lotor’s arm, or even better run from this room.
“Father.” Lotor said, and was bowing to the man. Allura felt Zarkon’s eyes on her, the girl mimicking Lotor’s move to curtsey to the King. Zarkon nodded in approval, speaking pleasant enough to his son.
“I see she has some manners after all. That’s good.” Zarkon said, smirking. “It’s one less lesson to teach her.” Lesson? She looked puzzled, trying not to frown at Zarkon’s words.
“Allura hardly needs to be taught anything more.” Lotor retorted. “Madame Elianza was very thorough in educating her in all she needs to know.”
“I certainly hope that is the case.” Zarkon gave an impatient gesture with his hand. “Well, son, aren’t you going to introduce us properly?”
“Ah yes…” Lotor gestured for Allura to step closer, the girl moving on legs that felt ready to collapse at any second. “Allura, this is my father. King Zarkon of Doom, the ruler of the Drule Empire.”
“I’m sure the honor is all yours.” Zarkon said loftily, still smirking.
“Er…yes..” She stammered out, thinking honored was the last thing she felt in the moment. She was also confused over the interaction, Allura wondering why Zarkon felt the need to be reintroduced to her.
“Come closer….let me get a good look at you.” Nervously Allura complied, every step feeling like a mile as she put herself within touching distance of the king. He studied her, and she found herself holding her breath, anxious over what he would say. “Well….she is beautiful like they said. But then, I expect no less of you son. You’ve always had a discerning eye when it came to the female gender.”
“I simply know what type of beauty pleases me.” Lotor replied, and Zarkon laughed.
“You seem to be greedy for many types of beauty. I believe this….mistress of yours is the first human you’ve taken to your bed. I hope you’re finding the experience worthwhile.” Allura’s cheeks burned at the King’s words, she couldn’t believe Zarkon was talking like this.
“Very much so.” Lotor answered, but his voice sounded dry, almost sardonic. “If you’ll excuse me now….”
“Go.” Zarkon said, waving at his son. “I know you have a fight coming up soon.”
Lotor nodded, and bowed again, Allura feeling panicked at the thought of being left behind. It must have shown in her eyes, Lotor was stepping towards her, as though he meant to reassure her. But Zarkon blocked his approach, crooking a finger at Allura. “Come, sit with me.”
“Fear not son. She will be in good company.” Zarkon was already returning to his seat, the chair besides him empty and waiting for Allura. She hesitated, giving one last look to Lotor who shrugged. To her sheer and utter disappointment, Lotor turned and left, and somehow Allura found herself seated next to Zarkon. The King grinned at her, putting a proprietary hand on her shoulder.
“How are you liking Doom so far?”
“It’s….” But he was already cutting her off, to answer his own question.
“I’m sure it’s very different from what you are used to. You grew up where, on Ranxhi?”
“Partly.” She said, feeling confused. “I spent much of my teenage years on that planet.”
“Ah so you are not a native of Ranxhi then? No matter..you’re on Doom now.”
“Um yes…” Allura murmured, confused as to why Zarkon would think she was a native to planet Ranxhi.
“I’m sure you’ll learn to adapt to your new surroundings.” Continued the King. “It’s either that or die trying.” She shivered at his words, a fact that did not go unnoticed by the King. He was studying her again, his eyes narrowed. “You’re really quite attractive. You remind me of someone….”
“Someone?” Allura echoed, unable to stop herself from asking who.
“Lotor’s mother.” She almost gasped at Zarkon’s answer, staring at him wide eyed. “You have the same coloring as her…the same bearing. It’s subtle, but you even remind me of her scent.” He chuckled then, shaking his head. “It appears my son has a bit of a mother’s complex to have chosen you.”
She didn’t know what to make of his words, sitting there shocked. “Co…could he have not chosen me for a different reason?”
“What other reason could there be?” Zarkon asked, and she shrugged. “He’s never met you before that day at the Madame’s estate. You were a stranger to him, and yet he picked you because you reek of familiarity.”
“A stranger…” Allura whispered, shocked. What did Zarkon mean? Did he not realize who she was? And if the King did not know her, then what about Lotor? She felt as though the color was draining out of her face, Allura’s world being turned upside down as she reviewed every bit of conversation she had had with the prince. It didn’t bode well, Allura noting that much of their encounters had been sexual, Lotor seeming to avoid talking about their shared past. And what little talk they did have, he seemed confused, almost ignorant to her time with him on Doom.
“What was that?” Zarkon asked, leaning in as though to hear her better.
“It’s not important.” A stunned Allura said, shaking her head no. He seemed to accept that, his attention turning back to the arena pit, watching the Drules struggle to
defeat the robeast. A few minutes passed, and then Allura was speaking, trying for an innocent tone. “Your highness….is it true your son did not know me before the day he arrived at the Madame’s estate? Could he not have….”
“Not have what?” demanded Zarkon, still watching the fighting. “Why would my son know in advance about you?”
“Did Madame Elianza not tell him anything about the girls he was choosing from?” Allura asked, already feeling positive Elianza had not.
The King snorted, amused. “What would it matter to know a whore’s back story?” She gasped at that, shocked by his words. “Does it upset you? To hear your profession spoken in such a manner? It matters not. No one here will let you ever forget your roots.”
She kept silent at that, Allura sitting next to him stiff with tension. She was upset, and for reasons Zarkon would not understand, the girl wondering how she had missed it. How she could have been so blind to Lotor’s ignorance, Allura not realizing until this very moment that to Lotor, she might as well have been a stranger. He didn’t know her, he didn’t care to remember the past. She was a fool to think otherwise, Allura sitting glumly besides the smirking King, staring with unseeing eyes into the arena pit.