There was a moment’s pause between them, Lotor nearly dropping the stuffed toy at Allura’s half hysterical announcement. Somehow he retained the toy, even as he was sure his lips parted, giving him a slack jawed look as he stared at the girl swaddled in blankets. She looked no better then him, flighty and on edge, eyes brimming with tears, and looking wild.
Already she was biting at her lip, as though that alone could take back the words she had said. Lotor licked his own lips, his mouth suddenly too dry, his voice croaking out like a hoarse toad’s as he tried to speak to her.
“What did you say?” A rapid blinking of Allura’s eyes, the girl seeming shocked at what she had uttered. Before she could try to deny it, he was speaking, enunciating the words carefully. “You know who really killed my mother?”
Lotor watched the decision play out on her face, Allura weighing what to tell him. Clearly her need to keep him from going to his father outweighed any need to keep silent, the girl nodding at last. “Yes.” She whispered, voice almost too soft to hear. “I do.”
He almost exploded at that point, hands gesturing, right one jabbing viciously at the air. “Are you saying someone did this other than the people my father killed for this crime, that there is someone else responsible for her death?!”
“Yes.” Meek was her voice, Allura seeming far too pale for a human’s coloring.
“Who?!” Lotor breathed out his demand, angry excitement flaring within him. For the moment he shoved aside all doubts about the girl’s identity, just thinking on his long held regret, and how he had never gotten to personally punish his mother’s killers. His father had claimed that right from him, exacting swift justice as was his right. Adaline had been avenged, or so Lotor had thought, but it was a hollow victory, his mother dead, his father stealing the kill.
“Tell me who it is so I can kill them!” Lotor added, watching as she flinched back from his words.
“I….” She seemed to be shaking before him, hesitating once again. He stepped forward, the toy dropping to the floor as he seized Allura by the arms, the blankets slipping down her body.
“Why do you hesitate?!” he demanded, digging his nails into her arms. “Tell me! Give me the name!”
“Zarkon!” Allura all but shrieked as he shook her. “You mustn’t tell the King about me.”
“Forget about him!” Lotor retorted, angry that she would deny him this now. “I want to know the person responsible. Don’t you want Adaline avenged?! Her killer brought to justice?!”
“Of course I do!” She looked shocked by his words, blue eyes bright with upset. “Never think otherwise! That man deserves to pay, deserves to be punished for all he did.”
“Man…” He repeated, seizing on that tidbit of information. “So the killer was a man?”
“Ye-es.” She allowed him that much, her expression becoming guarded.
“You saw it all, didn’t you.” Lotor allowed his voice to soften, hoping to wheedle the truth out of her in a gentler manner. He relaxed his grip on her arms, going so far as to rub his hands up and down the length of them. “That’s why you ended up in that catatonic state. Poor girl….witnessing such a sight at such a young age….” He was gathering the blankets around her, covering her nudity once more. “I always thought you’d be able to tell me about her final moments, how much she suffered…”
“She suffered greatly…” Allura admitted, a sad expression on her face. “Her killer was brutal. She tried to fight back, but was no match for his strength.”
He was at once both proud his mother had tried to fight, and angry to hear about the brutality of her killer. “Did she say anything? Did she speak about me?”
“Your highness…no…” Allura sighed sadly, bowing her head. “By the time she was dying, he had already rendered her unconscious.” Lotor seemed to deflate at that, for too long had he wondered what had been in his mother’s heart those final moments of her. “But prince? Know this….everything she did that led up to that moment had been born out of her concern for you.”
“For me?” Lotor didn’t understand.
“Yes. It was her desire to protect you, to keep you with her, that led her to fight. You were always in her thoughts…always! Never doubt that!”
“Tell me everything.” Lotor ordered, and again Allura hesitated. “Damn you, I have a right to know!” She looked startled at his growl, as though she hadn’t considered his rights in the moment. “Please!” A hint of desperation in his voice now.
“You have to promise me something…” Allura begged, and Lotor snorted.
“You’re in an odd position to be asking favors.”
“I know. I have no right. But this concerns my life.” Allura touched her hands together, then clasped them against her chest. “You have to promise me you won’t tell your father who I really am. The King cannot know that Allura survived. I’ll be in danger otherwise.”
“I still don’t understand why.” Lotor admitted, then hesitated. ‘But fine. I won’t tell him.” ~For now.~ He thought silently to himself, knowing that was the best he could promise her.
Unaware of his thoughts, she seemed to sag in relief, Allura not quite smiling. “Thank you.” Tears began to slip down her cheeks, Allura making no move to wipe them away. “Thank you!” She repeated, and he had to hold back an impatient growl.
“My mother, and her killer…” He reminded her, and she nodded.
“Of course.” She sighed, pulling the blankets tight around her. “I was playing in your mother’s bedroom that day. I was fortunate I was in the closet when they came in. They were arguing, it was a common sight in those days, your father angry, your mother terrified and screaming back at him. I hid when I heard the voices, frightened to be seen by the King. I wonder if I had appeared if it would have prevented what would happen next.”
“I’ve thought a thousand what ifs about that day.” Lotor admitted. “I wondered if I had been there instead of at my father’s harem, if I would have been able to alter her
fate somehow, to save her.”
“You wouldn’t have been able to stop her killer.” Allura quickly protested.
“My father said the same thing.” He muttered, and saw her cringe. “What?”
Instead of answering him, she continued with the tale she had started. “They were arguing about you, he had her backed into a corner, and began goading her, telling her he was going to take you away from her. The King said he would never let Adaline see you again, at least not until he had succeeded in making you a full Drule. No amount of begging and pleading could sway him from this decision. He was adamant, laughing in her face as he turned to leave.”
“Then what?” Lotor was impatient, wanting to know about his mother’s killer. He didn’t want to hear about another fight between his parents, didn’t want to know his father had upset his mother so much before her death.
Allura blinked, and her tears fell, her shoulder shaking. She brought her hands up to cover her face, muffling a sob. “It…” Her voice broke, Allura having to take several, shuddery breaths before she could compose herself to speak. “It was like nothing I had ever seen.” She admitted at last, hands back to clutching at her blankets. “Adaline…our beloved, sensible, always calm, always rational Adaline….had reached her breaking point.”
Lotor felt a shiver at her words, saw the far away look in Allura’s eyes at that. “She…she changed. Her face twisted with rage, and she screamed.” Continued Allura, seeming to rock in place. It was as though she was starting to relieve those moments, her breath coming faster and faster until she panted out the words. “She picked up a vase, and attacked your father, smashed it to pieces on his head.”
Lotor’s own eyes were wide now, the prince imagining how well such an act would go over with his father. “She actually got to hit him with her fists, clawing at his face with her nails before he struck her.” Allura shook at that, seeming unable to stop trembling violently. “The blow was enough to knock her to the floor, but the king didn’t stop there. He dropped down besides her…he…he…” Another shaky exhalation, Lotor suddenly sitting besides her, wrapping his arms around her. “He began beating her, pummeling her without mercy. Your highness….she was so small and fragile next to him, and he didn’t care. He beat her until she lost consciousness…and he didn’t stop there!”
“What did he do?” Lotor urged, managing not to growl for once. He was angry to learn his father had abused his mother one last time, Lotor wondering if Adaline would have been in any condition to call for help when the assassin arrived.
“He…” She turned her face into his chest, hiccuping on her upset. Lotor automatically touched her hair, petting her in an effort to calm her, and all the while Allura trembled.
“Allura? Tell me…please….I need to know…” Lotor pleaded, and she seemed to nod.
“He drew his sword. He said something about being sick of the fighting, sick of the tantrums and of her.” Allura was openly weeping now, the words laced with pain as she spoke. Her sobbing made it difficult to understand everything, Lotor struggling to make out her words. “He killed her, your highness. He took his sword and stabbed it deep inside your mother. Twisted it so the blood splurted out around the blade.”
He thought he was misunderstanding her, Lotor blinking rapidly. “What?”
Allura continued as though he hadn’t spoke. “He cleaned the sword on her dress, and then as calm as can be left her. He was cold, callous, and uncaring about the fact that he had just murdered a woman, a good woman. Adaline was a kind, loving person, who did not deserve such a violent, cruel death.” A great shudder shook her body, Lotor stiffening against Allura. “I wish I had been stronger…” She confided. “That I hadn’t shut down…but in a way that saved me, because if I had done anything, made a sound that betrayed my presence, I have no doubt your father would have killed me too.”
Lotor said nothing, kept right on holding Allura, though his arms had turned awkward, his body stiff with shock and tension. She didn’t seem to notice, too busy weeping for Adaline, and the horrors she had witnessed.
He wasn’t sure how long she cried, how long they sat there, Allura clinging to him, Lotor just staring over the top of her head, stunned. But at last she began to draw back from him, his unresisting arms easily allowing her to slide free of his loose embrace. “Your highness?” She peered up at him, and seemed to shiver at the look in his eyes.
He slowly blinked, masking his expression and moved to get off the bed. “Where are you going?” Allura asked, instantly alert.
“I have to go.” Lotor said, running a hand through his hair. The neatly arranged strands became unruly at his mussing, Lotor’s movements agitated. “I have to…”
“Are you going to confront your father?!” Allura asked, sounding anxious.
He wanted to say yes, but he hesitated again. “Maybe, I don’t know.”
“You can’t!” Allura squeaked out, and he jerked his head in her direction, confused anger on his face.
“Why the hell not?” he demanded gruffly, scowling at her.
“If you go to him now, asking about the night of your mother’s murder…if you bring it up, he’ll start to suspect why. He’s not stupid your highness! He’ll start to put things together, and he’ll realize who I am. And when he does…” Another shake, Allura as pale as a sheet. “He’ll kill me.”
“He’ll have no reason to.” Lotor began, but Allura was shaking her head no again and again. “You already told me what happened, there’s no need to silence you. Unless…” He eyed her again, unable to keep from allowing suspicion to show. “Unless you made it all up.” She gasped at that, sounding outraged. “If you did, the King would have the right to punish one who would bring slander against him, especially on such a crime.”
“It’s the truth!” She cried out, making fists with her hands. “I wouldn’t lie about it. It’s as real as who I am!”
“Ah yes…there’s that…” Lotor said, remembering to pick up the toy. “You’ve told me many things tonight…you make me want to believe you are her…” He stared at her face as he talked, clutching the stuffed robeast to his chest.
“Then trust in me!” Allura said, and he had to laugh at that.
“It’s not as easy at that, and you know it!” Lotor snorted. “Think of my position, and my father’s! How foolish it would be for me to just take you out your word. If I acted on how I felt in this moment, why there’s no doubt I’d kill him. And your employers would just love that, wouldn’t they?”
“There are no employers!” Allura screamed. “I thought I proved to you who I really am. And trust me when I say I couldn’t have made up the things I told you tonight. I am not that creative!”
Still he wasn’t entirely convinced, shaking his head no. She let out a frustrated cry, looking very much like she wanted to throw a pillow at him. “At least don’t tell your father…” Allura begged. “Not until you send me, far, far away!”
“I am not sending you anywhere.” Lotor retorted, Allura gasping out her displeasure. “At least not yet…”
“What do you mean?”
“I intend to get answers….for everything, every question you have roused, every doubt you have caused me. I’ll find the truth, one way or another…count on it.” Lotor told her, and she moaned.
“Your father is going to come after me!”
“My father will be the least of your concerns if you’ve lied to me.” He told her, letting a threat fill his eyes as he bent over her. She cringed and cowered back, almost shrieking when his hand reached towards her hair. The fear in her eyes satisfied him, Lotor plucking free a golden strand from her very head. “Fear not Allura..” He said, pocketing the hair. “I’ll keep quiet for now.”
She seemed to realize that was the best she could hope for, Allura nodding her head though she still seemed so frightened. He gave her one last look, and then was turning sharply, stalking from the bedroom, and out into the outer chamber. He was almost out into the hall when he heard the faint sobs of her crying, Allura letting grief take over her. Lotor had no way of knowing if it was because she had relived the night of his mother’s murder, or if it was due to fear over what might happen to her. He let his heart harden, refusing to go back in and comfort her. Not until he knew the truth.
“Come here.” He ordered to the two guards patrolling this patch of corridor. “I want you to take turns guarding this door. Let no one enter or leave without my permission. That includes the Lady Allura.”
“Is she…in trouble?” One of the guards was curious, Lotor scowling at him for the question.
“Her confinement is none of your business.” Lotor snapped, tempted to strike the guard with his fist. “Just do as I order!”
“Yes, my prince.” Murmured both guards, bowing to him.
Satisfied, he strode away from Allura’s apartment, but he did not head towards his room. Instead he began walking towards a part of the castle he did not visit nearly enough, Lotor ignoring the odd looks carrying the stuffed robeast earned him. He kept on walking right up until he reached the science and research department of the castle, the prince entering the room without knocking.
The scientists were surprised to see him, some interrupted their work to stare at him in shock. Other stayed concentrating on their experiments, Lotor paying little mind to them. Instead he walked over to the head of the department, barging into the woman’s office. She hurried in a few seconds later, looking harried and unnerved by his presence in her domain.
“Your highness.” She bowed deeply, hair falling into her eyes. “To what do I owe the honor of your visit.”
“This.” He said, dropping the stuffed robeast on her desk.
“And that is?” She blinked rapidly to hide her reaction, unsure what to make of the toy.
“I need you to do some tests on this toy. To determine how old it is, and see if you can identify the DNA of the people who have been handling it.” Lotor explained, then reached into his pocket. He carefully withdrew the hair, holding it up before the scientists’ bespectacled eyes. “And this…I need you to confirm the identify of the person who this hair belongs to.”
“We can do that. Although we’ll need DNA to compare it to.” The scientist answered.
“There should still be records of the girl in question.” Lotor said, remembering how often he and Allura had been taken to the doctors in the castle for shots and illnesses. “If I get you the medical records, will you be able to use it to tell me if there’s a match.”
“We should be able to.” Confirmed the woman, and Lotor almost smiled at that.
“Good. I’ll get to work on getting you those records as soon as possible. They’ll be on your desk no later than the morning.”
“All right.” She nodded, and he moved to brush past her.
“Oh yes…” Lotor paused besides her, taking the time to study her name plate. “Dr. Trayvern? You will tell no one about this request. That includes my father. Is that understood?”
She looked startled at that, pausing to note the way his hand rested casually on the pommel of his sword. Her eyes widened, and she seemed to breathe a little faster, giving him the answer he so desired. “Of course your highness. This will go no further than my office, and the personnel needed to complete your query.”
“Good.” Lotor purred, resisting the urge to pat her condescendingly on the head. “Get me the results as soon as feasible, but don’t let haste cause you to make errors.”
“I won’t.” She promised, but he was already stalking out of her office, and back through the research room. He waited until he was back in the hall, away from the curious eyes of the scientists to exhale, Lotor fighting the impulse to make fists. It was a lot he had to register, a lot to think over and ponder, and he didn’t know how to deal with all the feelings Allura had stirred within him with her revelations.
Ultimately he decided his only course of action was to go to the arena. If he couldn’t question his father, couldn’t demand the answers he was so desperate for, he could at least take out his anger and hurt out in a productive way. He would do a lot of killing tonight, and no one would dare stop him.