She sat perched on the edge of her bed, a brush in her hand which Allura ran over her hair. It passed through with ease, finding no tangles for it’s bristles to get stuck on. Still she continued to brush out her mane, silently counting out one hundred strokes in all. The number of strokes was important, the key to her hair’s soft, luxurious feel. She always took time out to brush her hair, Allura setting up little regimens to help her cope with what was going on around her.
She knew she couldn’t affect many things, but at the very least she could exert some control over her own personal surroundings and the care she took with her appearance. It helped give her control in a reality where she lacked just that, giving Allura a much needed comfort she might have otherwise lacked.
Her days were dictated by royalty, Lotor commanding much of her time. He set up daily visits for her, Allura required to tend to him whenever the mood struck him. More often than not she was summoned to his rooms, but there was times when the urge took him when there wasn’t a room readily available to them. Such situations seemed to alternately excite and amuse the prince, Lotor dragging her into side rooms, or in one case an abandoned patch of hall.
She almost blushed just recalling now she had felt when they had at each other out in the open like that, Allura fearing that at any moment they would be caught. Lotor had laughed at her worry, explaining that such fear only added to the excitement of the situation. She could admit he was right, her heart beating more soundly at the thought of a stray guard coming across them.
When she wasn’t having sex with Lotor, she was busy attending court, all on an invitation from the King that could not be denied. She felt nervous and afraid around Zarkon, Allura always on edge. She must have hid it well though, the King seemed oblivious to her discomfort, allowing her to sit next to him during the court’s entertainments.
She was hardly pleased by the honor he was doing her, Allura growing increasingly uncomfortable by Zarkon’s blatant interest in her. He actually talked to her, snippets of conversation she could barely recall, Allura more aware of the jealous and disbeliveing looks she was receiving from the nobles of the court. It sent tongues wagging, the people speaking in hushed tones about the courtesan who had captivated not only the prince, but his father as well.
She hoped they were mistaken in their assumptions, Allura certainly not seeking to enchant King Zarkon. Allura thought she was quiet around him at best, stumbling
over her words and wondering how anything she said could gather Zarkon’s interest. It left her wondering if he was as bad as his son, only seeing her beauty and nothing beyond it.
Many of the Drules were like that, the men taken with her golden, blue eye looks. The women would reluctantly admit that there was something appealing about Allura, their eyes holding a grudging admiration that did not keep them from making catty remarks to her. Allura was left with little true company among the Drules, Lotor and Zarkon her only real outlets for conversation.
Of course the Lords of the court were most eager to talk with her, but Lotor had expressly forbidden Allura from engaging them in conversation. At least not without the prince there to supervise! The ladies of the court hardly made Allura feel welcome, petty and snide were their weapons of choice when Allura approached them.
She sighed, counting out the last three strokes of her hair. She was getting ready to attend a party with Lotor, some Baronesses’ soiree which allowed for a mixing of nobles and their associates. Lotor assured Allura that there would be other courtesans there, and she looked forward to the chance to talk with them. She even hoped to find a friend, someone she could visit when the pressures of the court got too much to her.
She had barely begun to navigate the treacherous waters of court life, staying out of much of the intrigue. But watching what passed for fun in the high court of Doom was enough to turn her stomach, Allura feeling stressed by the sights she witnessed daily. She kept from cringing in the presence of others, but at night, during the times when Lotor let her return to her apartment, she wept.
She cried and grieved for both the people who were tortured to death, and for her own innocence, Allura sure she was losing pieces of herself in watching the madness around her. What did it cost her soul to watch and not protest? She did not know, she feared the answer, and there was no priests on Doom for her to seek counsel with. Doom cared not about other world’s religion, maintaining their Dark Gods who were just as lustful and violent as the Drules.
Allura had never been an overly religious person, but watching the people killed, each mode of death new and inventive, left her wanting to believe in something. She didn’t know what though, Allura fearing for a universe whose God could allow such needless cruelty to continue.
Frowning, she stood up, brush still in hand. She was mentally trying to prepare herself for the upcoming party, Allura hoping nothing too horrible would happen during it. She stalked over to the vanity, the furniture new, it’s wood a dark cherry. The other vanity had had to be replaced, the wood ruined by all that spilt perfume. She set down her brush, and reached for a bottle, intending to spray the fragrance in her hair.
Allura had taken to practically bathing in perfume, trying to disguise her scent in an effort to control Lotor’s unnatural lust for her. Sometimes he complained about her hiding her natural scent, but most times he seemed glad she had gone to the effort. They never outright talked about the day he had gone on a rampage through her bedroom, the pair skirting around the issues of his thinking she was bewitching him somehow.
In fact they didn’t talk much about anything, Lotor seeing her as an outlet for his pleasure and nothing more. It would have hurt to be used like this, but Madame Elianza had prepared Allura for the eventuality of such a fate. It still bothered her, Allura trying not to remember the boy Lotor had been, the girl knowing they could never regain the easy friendship they had had as children.
She knew he’d never see her as anything more than a mistress. Not so long as he didn’t know the truth about her identity, and even then who was to say how he would react to her. Allura kept telling herself it was only three years, she could endure the pain of being so close to a dear friend who did not know her. She just had to be careful to keep herself distant from him, and not forget herself in the moment.
Easier said then done, Allura thought with a groan, walking over to her closet. Sex was a heady experience, the pleasure she found in Lotor’s arms overwhelming her senses. If she wasn’t careful, she’d confuse their sexual relationship with a loving one, and all because of the intimate acts they performed together!
She jerked open her closest doors, eyes sweeping over the gowns hanging in place before her. Her wardrobe had expanded, Allura taking Lotor up on his offer to clothe her in garments suitable for being a prince’s plaything. Now she almost had too much of a choice, colors and fabrics going from one end of the spectrum to the other. She reached out with a hand, rifling through the dresses and that was when she heard a knock on the hallway door of her apartment.
She reacted in surprise, Allura glancing at the chrono meter that sat situated on her vanity table. It was still early, almost thirty minutes before the time she was to leave with Lotor. She didn’t know who else would be visiting her, and she wondered if the prince had gotten horny again. She sighed and shrugged her shoulders, Allura tying the sash of her silk robe tight around her waist.
“I’m coming.” She called out, and walked at a hurried pace into the outer chamber. If it was Lotor, she knew he would chafe at waiting, even a minute more than necessary. The knock sounded again, but it wasn’t the confidant rap of Lotor’s, Allura becoming even more confused when she pulled open the door and saw two maids standing there.
“Yes?” Allura asked, looking them over curiously. They were holding some kind of garment bag, the skirts wide and numerous enough that it took two ladies to hold it up.
“Your dress for the party.” Explained one, and Allura blinked. Had Lotor decided to buy her another dress? She held back a shrug, stepping aside to allow the women to enter the room with their burden. They didn’t stop once inside, heading towards the bedroom where they laid the garment bag down on her mattress.
Allura walked in behind them, one of the maids easing down a zipper to reveal a dark blue dress that would set her eyes off blazing like sapphires. It looked very expensive, with black lace curled over the satin, forming pretty patterns, and coloring at least one of the crinoline underskirts beneath the dress’ satin. It was exquisite looking, and Allura marveled at the prince’s good taste, even as she wondered just how much this dress had cost.
“Another new dress?” She murmured out loud, the maids nodding. She almost felt bad, thinking she had spent enough of Lotor’s money on clothing herself. “His highness is certainly generous.”
“Yes, King Zarkon is.” One of the maids answered, and for one brief instant Allura thought she heard her wrong.
“The King?” She echoed, blinking rapidly in an attempt to keep her eyes from showing her shock.
“Yes. King Zarkon hopes you will be pleased by his offering to you.” The maid said, and Allura licked her lips nervously. “He very much looking forward to seeing you at tonight’s party.”
“I…I wasn’t aware his highness was attending…” Allura answered, and the maids’ both bobbed their heads up and down.
“Ours is not to question why.” Said one, the other stepping towards Allura. She could only stand there as the woman undid the sash of her robe, the silk being slid of her shoulders. She wore nothing save for panties underneath her robe, but Allura couldn’t even muster up a shy blush, just watching as the two women began dressing her. There was no asking her permission, it didn’t even enter into their thoughts that Allura might refuse a gift from their king.
The worst part was, she knew she could not, it would be a grave insult, one that would risk Zarkons’ displeasure. She was trapped into it, almost as tightly bound as the corset that the maid was currently lacing up her back. The other maid was fluffing out Allura’s skirts, Allura catching sight of herself in her vanity’s mirror. She looked beautiful, the dress only succeeding in enhancing her loveliness.
The maid behind her started fussing with Allura’s hair, piling it on top of her head so that only a few fat curls escaped the twist. It left her feeling far too exposed, her neck and shoulders bare without her hair there to drape around them. Allura started a feeble protest, not liking that they took the choice of how to wear her hair away from her.
“Um…” Both maids looked at her, Allura feeling small and unsure, her fingers fidgeting before her. “Prince Lotor likes my hair down.”
“Ah, but the King requested you wear it up.” Those words were spoken with a finality, as if daring Allura to object.
“I see.” Was all she said, hiding a frown.
A selection of jewels was brought forth, Allura being given a silver chain that held sapphires along the front. Diamond studs were place in her ear, along with a ring that was mainly a large sapphire rimmed with tiny diamonds. It was more jewelry than she had ever worn before, Allura wondering what was Zarkon’s game. Why was he paying so much attention to her?
She felt ill at the thought of his true motives, Allura hoping he wasn’t serious in trying to court her attentions. She knew she’d have to remind the king that she belong to his son, Allura hoping that would be enough to dissuade him. Heaven help her if it didn’t work, Allura unable to repress a shudder at the possible what ifs that could follow.
The chorno meter chimed the hour, Allura realizing it was well past the time she was supposed to leave with Lotor. She hurried slipped into heels that were black with blue accents on the toes. She could hear a knocking sounding on her door, surely that was Lotor, Allura gathering up her skirts in one hand as she walked out of the bedroom.
The door to the hall was already opening, an impatient Lotor letting himself inside. He looked at her, and his eyes lit up with approval, the prince sauntering forward to circle around her. “You look absolutely lovely.” He proclaimed, and this time she did blush, pleased by his praise. “That dress suits you.” That almost dampened her smile, Allura wondering if she should tell him it was a gift from his father.
She decided against it, instead letting her eyes sweep over Lotor’s form from head to tie. His own hair was tied back with a black ribbon, leaving it to trail down his back. He wore a black jacket, with complex gold piping that trailed over the lines of hid body, with red rubies sewn beneath the pockets. A bright splash of red was seen where his jacket open, a blood colored shirt that was buttoned up to his throat. His pants were far more plain, merely being inky black with not even one hint of color to break up all the darkness.
He wore knee high boots, Allura guessing the soft leather had been dyed to meld seamlessly in color with his pants. “You look quite handsome yourself.” She told him, letting it show in her eyes how attractive she found him in the moment.
“‘But then don’t I always?” He asked with his usual confidence, and Allura fought back a giggle.
“Yes, you do. Even when covered in blood from the arena.” She fed his ego with her words, Lotor practically preening before her.
“Shall we go then?” Lotor asked, already extending his arm to her. She nodded, placing her hand just above his elbow, the prince guiding her out of the room.
“Is it…far from the castle, the Baroness’ home?” Allura asked, trying to make conversation as they headed towards the castle’s docking area.
“Not too far.” Lotor answered, guiding her through the many corridors. “Luckily she lives on the outskirts of the city capital. It’ll be a short journey to reach her property.”
“I see.” Allura nervously smoothed her free hand down her dress’ skirts, hearing the crinoline crinkle in protest. “And how many people will be there?”
“Just a hundred or so of the Baroness’ closest friends.” Allura nearly reeled backwards at his casual mention of such a large number of people. Her nervousness must have shown on her face, for he chuckled and patted her hand on his arm. “Fear not Allura. It really will be a quiet affair. After a time, you won’t even notice how many people are there.”
“I hope so.” She murmured, having looked forward to the chance of a small party. From the sounds of it, the Baroness’ affair would rival the crowds at Zarkon’s court, and Allura hoped Lotor wouldn’t leave her to fend for herself at the party. “The Baroness must be popular, to have so many friends.”
“Yes, I suppose she is.” Lotor agreed.
“I’m almost jealous.” Allura admitted, drawing a curious look from the prince. “To have so many friends must be wonderful.”
“I don’t know about that. How can you form close attachments to so many? It’s better to have a few, but meaningful relationships.” Lotor answered.
“I suppose you’re right.” Allura agreed, thinking of the friends she had made when living with Madame Elianza.
“Of course I am.” laughed Lotor, a twinkle in his eye. They were nearly the corridor that led to the castle’s dock, Allura could hear the clamor of people talking, and ships being fired off.
“It sounds busy tonight.” Allura said, and Lotor nodded.
“Many of the nobles did not leave court until late. No doubt they are heading straight to the party from here.”
“I see…” She murmured, then risked asking him a question. “Is your father planning to attend as well?”
“Yes. He says he wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Lotor rolled his eyes. “I don’t know why he’s in such a celebratory mood. It’s not as if we’ve made any headway in the war with Demos. We even lost a planet recently to them.”
“How….how terrible.” Allura answered, not sure who would be the better master for a conquered world. Both Doom and Demos had horrific reputations, treating the enslaved people of their conquest in inhumane ways.
“I wish he would make use of me in some way.” Lotor muttered, pausing outside the dock’s doors. She glanced at him, a bit confused to the meaning of his words. “This war…I could be a great help. I could win it for us, I know I could.”
“Surely you don’t mean to do battle..” Allura said, a bit alarmed at the thought. He looked at her strangely, Lotor continuing.
“Why not? You’ve seen me in the arena this past week. I was born to fight…to kill.”
She held back her comment that that wasn’t true, Allura remembering the innocent boy Lotor had been. Back then he wasn’t capable of harming even an insect, not until Zarkon got his hands on him and twisted his very nature around.
“It’s different fighting a war than doing battle in the arena.” Allura said at last. “I mean…the main fighting is done on ships…”
“I know all about ship battles.” Lotor informed her, a tad coldly. “My father saw to my education in every area possible. I am a tactical genius that has not been granted a war to plan, a war to win for us.”
“I..I didn’t realize…” Allura stammered, then bowed her head. “Forgive me. I meant no disrespect your highness.”
“None taken.” Lotor said, and guided her through the doorway.
“But…in a way, I think I understand your father.” Allura added, tone thoughtful.
“Yes.” She nodded. “You’re the sole heir to the empire. It would be too dangerous to risk you. What if something happened to you? Then Doom would be without it’s successor to the throne.”
He looked pouty and frustrated, Lotor sighing. “I know that. Doesn’t make it any easier to sit back and watch…”
“Perhaps…someday when you marry, and have children of your own…” She began and trailed off, seeing real pain flash in his eyes. “Your highness? Is everything all right?”
“It’s nothing, I’m fine.” Lotor said, tone gruff as he led her over to a cruiser. She was surprised to see at least half a dozen guards clad in the King’s colors beside it.
“Ah, there they are.” Zarkon’s voice boomed out, the man sounding satisfied. “I was beginning to wonder what the delay was.”
“Forgive me father.” Lotor said, but did not offer up an excuse. He drew Allura forward, presenting her to the King. Zarkons’ eyes seemed to smolder, the King looking over her slowly. “Doesn’t Allura look beautiful?”
“More than beautiful.” Zarkon purred, reaching for Allura’s free hand. She was surprised when he lifted it to his mouth, lips brushing a kiss across her knuckles. “Your mistress is a vision, a real sight for these tired eyes of mine.”
It took every ounce of will power not to snatch back her hand, Allura tittering nervously. “You really do flatter me…”
“Is it flattery when I speak nothing but the truth?” He held her hand a moment longer, locking eyes with her. Lotor seemed oblivious to his father’s heated stare, Allura fighting not to shiver in response. “The dress suits you. As I knew it would.”
“Father?” Now Lotor sounded puzzled, glancing between Allura and Zarkon. “What do you mean?”
“OH? Didn’t she tell you?” Zarkon gave an airy, unconcerned laugh. “That dress is a gift from me to her.”
“Thank you for that.” Allura said, almost sagging with relief when Zarkon let go of her hand.
“It is not trouble. No trouble at all.” Zarkon assured her. “Well, shall we go? We don’t want to be too late for the Baroness’ party.”
Lotor was frowning, but he nodded. “Yes, let’s be on our way.”
At a gesture from Zarkon, a soldier opened the cruiser’s side door, Allura peering into the inside. She brought her hands forward to grip the sides, and was surprised when both Lotor AND Zarkon placed their hands on her back. She glanced back just in time to see Lotor glaring at his father, the King looking amused. But he lifted his hand off of her, allowing Lotor to help Allura into the cruiser.
Lotor slid in behind her, and Zarkon chose to sit ooposite them, a wine glass in hand. He kept blatantly staring at her, Allura pretending not to notice, and feeling as though Zarkon was undressing her with his eyes. The cruiser door was slammed shut, Allura nearly jumping in fright. Lotor placed a possessive hand on her knee, whispering a reassurance to her.
She nodded, and turned her attention to outside the window, seeing the dock hands clearing a path for the cruiser to take flight. She could only hope that Lotor was right about the Baroness’ home not being far from the castle. Otherwise this was going to be an exceedingly long and awkward ride, even without the two royals speaking!