Porcelain 64

He was surrounded by aides, the various men and women carrying ledgers, reading off their contents to him in a hurried pitch. It was difficult to pick out any one voice, the Drules practically shouting over each other, trying to drown out the pleas with their own demands. Lotor just smiled and nodded, pretending to listen, though really he didn’t give a damn about what they had to say.

He was tired, and looking to escape, the King making slow progress out of the throne room, and down the corridor that led to a side chamber. The group kept moving with him, it was either that or be shoved aside by their King, Lotor in no mood to stop and stand around.

It was typical concerns with them, the aides talking about money and slaves, about new planets that held the raw potential to be fortuitous conquests for the Drule Empire. It wasn’t all greed and material things that moved them to speak, some were trying to garner his interest in potential brides, the aides listing off candidates attributes, their numerous assets and political ties in an attempt to entice Lotor to make a decision.

He refused to make one, neither ready to be cajoled or bullied into taking a bride. He knew everyone was anxious over the lack of an heir to the throne, and rumors were being spawned that the time would come where the nobles would force him into marriage. Lotor had snorted when he heard that tidbit, the Drule almost wishing they would make the attempt. He’d quickly put them in their place, Lotor refusing to be dictated to by anyone now that he sat upon the Doom throne.

There was even a rumor about his mistress, the whispers theorizing that he was trying to get her with child. Such a thought was looked down on, but the people were growing so desperate for an heir, that even a bastard seemed almost acceptable. Truth be known Lotor and Allura were attempting no such thing, even if they had been having sex, both were taking numerous precautions.

Lotor held back a sigh, as he thought of Allura. An image was conjured to him of her sweet smile. It didn’t always reach her eyes, she often looked haunted when around him. Lotor wondered if he was at fault, but more than that, he wondered if things could ever go back to normal between them. The problem was he didn’t know what normal was, Lotor torn with longing for his childhood friend, and the woman Allura had become.

As such he had yet to have sex with her since discovering just who she really was. That wasn’t to say an attraction did not exist between them, it was quite the opposite, a palpable thing that colored the air with tension. Neither he nor Allura seemed willing to make the first step towards deciding just what sort of relationship they were to have.

It left him in a foul mood, Lotor horny and unable to take relief in his mistress or seek out a one night stand. Not that he could be content with some random woman now! His father, the devil take his soul, had seen to ruining his penchant for picking up stray women, Lotor remembering with horror the outcome of his loose ways.

He also didn’t know if it was right to have sex with Allura, did one sleep with a friend and not have any expectations placed upon them? He didn’t want to misguide her, and frankly he didn’t know just what he wanted from her in a more permanent relationship. Lotor certainly wasn’t content to keep buying her affections, the King wanting to tear up her contract and set her free of her profession. But he feared she’d leave Doom if he did that, and Lotor knew he did not want to be abandoned by her a second time.

He held back the depressed sigh that wanted to come out, Lotor spying the door to the ante chamber. It was an off shoot of the throne room, and was in the midst of being converted into his own private office. Incomplete though it was, Lotor took it as a safe haven, stepping quicker in it’s direction. Just a few steps more and he would be free of the talkative aides, Lotor already reaching for the door amidst protests from the men and women.

“I will give all of your proposals the proper time and attention.” Lotor said, raising his voice to be the loudest in this corridor. “Please submit the proper documentation to my secretary, and he’ll see that it ends up on my desk.”

A flurry of chatter erupted at that, the ledgers being waved at him, but Lotor was already stepping inside his office. They tried to follow him, but his guards came to his aide, forcing them back away from the door. Lotor let it close, and then leaned back against it, weary and sighing. Being King left him with a hectic schedule, and it left Lotor wondering if this was the true reason Zarkon had held his entertainments so often at court. It might have been the only time his father got to truly relax, left alone from his subject’s sometimes useless petitions.

Lotor had his own outlets for escape, though right now he was only making use of one. He still went to fight in the arena, holding private battles against robeasts and other warriors. He’d rather be having sex, but right now that seemed a closed avenue to him. And he didn’t enjoy the same kind of entertainments that his father had so favored. In fact most of the spectacles of the high court left him shaken and disturbed, Lotor hardly pleased to watch innocents, be they human or Drule, tortured and killed in gruesome fashion.

Since being crowned King, he had started to work small changes into the way he did things. For one, Lotor did not hold court as often as Zarkon had. Another thing was the entertainments, Lotor refusing to allow too much blood shed to continue. At the very least those who were deemed innocent of all but being born human and made a slave were spared of the inventive tortures of the dungeon masters.

It left the nobles disgruntled, many missing the bloody spectacles his father had specialized in. It was leaving Lotor unpopular, the nobles wondering why their King suddenly had such a weak stomach as to be unable to stand the entertainments. Lotor refused to explain himself to them, though privately he knew he had never enjoyed the sights of the court.

With a shake of his head, he stepped deeper into the room, spying the piles of paperwork stacked up on his desk. The paperwork always seemed endless to him, and most of what crossed his desk was supposedly only the most important of documents. His secretary dealt with the rest, reading and filtering out the nuisance complaints and insignificant matters that were not fit for the King’s eyes.

It still left him with quite an amount of busy work, the affairs of not only the Doom kingdom, but all the planets in the Drule Empire. Grimacing, Lotor stalked over to his desk, tempted to push over one of the stacks. He resisted such childish impulses, knowing it would solve nothing, and leave him to sort through the mess. Beyond the papers, he spied something else, a small smile coming to his face.

It was Allura’s stuffed robeast, the toy at last being found. After the tests run on it, the scientists had neglected to keep track of just what they did with the toy. He knew Allura had been upset by it’s loss, Lotor having them scour the science and research department of the castle in search of the toy. It seemed it had finally been found, and Lotor looked forward to returning the toy to Allura’s care.

He touched the toy, a fond look in his eye. It was odd to be grateful to an inanimate object, but this toy had been the catalyst that had brought the truth to his life. Lotor shuddered to think what would have happened if Allura hadn’t had this toy with her, or if he hadn’t damaged it in such a way that it would prove recognizable to him years later.

He’d probably be torturing the Princess Corral right now if not for the toy, and Allura would have been sent away from Doom. Or worse yet, she’d be in his father’s care, Lotor remembering how ill it had made him when Allura revealed the depth of Zarkon’s lust for her. He didn’t want to think of the kind of abuse Allura would have suffered as Zarkon’s mistress, Lotor doubly glad to have killed the fiendish Drule.

One last caress of the robeast’s fur, and then he was stepping around the desk, Lotor pulled out his chair, leather creaking as he lowered himself into it. It still hurt his waist if he made sudden movements, the stitches not yet dissolved. The new skin that was growing over his wound was thin and very sensitive, in addition to forming an ugly scarred pattern. Lotor frowned every time he saw it, hating the reminder of his father.

He just had to comfort himself with the fact that the Drule was dead, killed by Lotor’s own hands. Whatever he had done, Lotor had paid him back, though the Drule wished he could have drawn out Zarkon’s suffering more. “I hope you burn in the underworld…” Lotor muttered to himself, staring sightlessly at his desk. He almost jumped, startled when a knock sounded on his door a few moments later.

“Enter!” Lotor called out, cautious and easing a hand over his sword’s hilt. He didn’t relax completely when he saw it was the witch letting herself into his office, Lotor holding back a displeased growl. “Haggar…”

“Your highness.” She gave a stiff bow, her wrinkled face smiling at him. It was more like a grimace, Lotor narrowing his eyes at her. “You wanted to see me?”

“Yes, I did.” Lotor knew it must come as a surprise to her. It wasn’t often he requested her presence. It didn’t mean Haggar kept her distance from him, the witch was often appearing by his side, giving him unwanted advice and trying to steer him down a path that would please the nobles. Too often had Lotor had heated arguments with the witch, the King threatening to cut off her head if she pushed him too far.

Unfortunately Haggar never took his threats seriously, the witch laughing and shrugging them off, continuing to pester him. It left Lotor in even more a foul mood every time he saw her, the King knowing the woman would badger him about matters he didn’t want to face. Such as the peace negotiations with Demos, of which Haggar and the court was adamantly against.

Against the popular opinion, Lotor was barreling on ahead, pushing the idea of a treaty with the Drule Empire’s biggest threat. Many of the nobles felt Lotor should destroy the Demos Empire, though a few felt he should attain peace through marriage to Corral. It was an idea Demos shared, the King of that Empire pushing Lotor to take his daughter’s hand in marriage.

So far Lotor had managed to put him off the idea, buying time for himself and the two Empires. Both sides were currently disengaged in all battles, awaiting word on a treaty, good or bad. Unfortunately for Lotor, Demos seemed adamant about marrying him off to the princess, the King turning down proposed truce after truce, no matter
how lucrative a deal Lotor made him.

It was beginning to annoy Lotor, and he tried not to let his temper get the best of him. Otherwise he might do something foolish, such as order one of his armadas to bomb one of the planets that made up the Demos Empire. At least if he did that, the nobles would approve of his ruthless tactics, even as it plunged the two Empires back into war.

He really did not want to be backed into a corner, neither to marry Corral, or to continue the war. Sometimes Lotor daydreamed that the only solution was to conquer the heart of Demos’ empire, take the planet and conquer it’s king, and only then could he force peace on the kingdoms.

“Sire?” He blinked at the witch, realizing he had left her standing there for several long minutes, Lotor lost to his own thoughts. “Is everything all right?”

“It’s fine.” He said, knowing she did not want peace anymore than she wanted him to marry the princess Corral. But that was neither here or now, Lotor not wanting another session of harassment from the witch. Instead he leaned forward, clasping his hands before him on the desk. “I called you here for a specific reason.”

“You have but to ask, and it shall be my pleasure to serve.” Haggar said, and Lotor nodded. He knew she was hungry for work, wanting him to make use of her in much
the same manner his father had. He was leery of employing her for many jobs, but in this one instant he felt she was his best bet in giving him what he wanted.

“Glad to hear it.” Lotor said out loud, smiling a smile that did not reach his eyes. If such a look disturbed her, she did not show it, Haggar coming closer to his desk. He did not offer her a seat, content to make her as uncomfortable as possible. “It’s been a few weeks, and you’ve yet to answer my question about one very important thing.”

“Sire…” A frown flashed across her lips, Haggar surely guessing what was on his mind.

“Just who is Alfor?” Lotor talked over her, knowing how she had managed to wiggle out of telling him about the man time and time again. Usually distracting him with some crisis of the kingdom, or aggravating him with her so called helpful suggestions. But today he refused to be put off, wanting answers, and wanting them now.

She said nothing at first, Lotor staring at her with a narrowed gaze. He let his impatience show, tapping his booted toes on the floor, the noise seeming to annoy the witch. “Is it really the time for such talk?”

“Yes. It is.” Lotor confirmed, then lifted an eyebrow at her. “I want to know, and you are going to tell me. Everything, leave no detail out.” She made an unhappy frown, showing her displeasure. He wondered why it upset her this much to talk about the man who was Allura’s father, what the reason could be behind her reluctance.

“I’m not sure where to begin…” Haggar hedged, and he frowned at her.

“Why don’t you start with who he was.” Suggested Lotor. “Come now witch, you mentioned in my hospital room that he was one of Doom’s most troublesome enemies.
You don’t drop a bomb like that then expect me to be satisfied at guessing what you meant.”

Haggar placed her hands on the back of the chair, bony fingers tightening on the steel rim. “He was an impertinent man. He fought your father time and time again, brought their battles to a stand still with his cunning and his weapon.”

“Weapon?” Lotor had noted the lack of plural for the word.

“Yes…” One last hesitation from Haggar, and then she was blurting out an important tidbit of info. “Voltron.”

“Voltron!?” Lotor exclaimed, thinking of the weapon that had taken years for his father’s scientists to crack the mystery of. “Are you telling me he was the inventor of Voltron?”

“No. Not exactly.” Haggar sighed. “We never did find out Voltron’s origins. But Alfor made good use of the robot, fighting off our attacks, and protecting his planet.”

“His planet? You mean Arus….?”

“Ah, you remember your lessons well.” Haggar almost sounded approving in the moment.

“Well, Voltron was an important acquisition for us. I thought it common knowledge the planet it was taken from.” Lotor answered, and she nodded.

“Arus gave us the most trouble out of all the planets in the galaxy. Even Demos with it’s far greater size and assets can’t compare to the amount of losses the Drule Empire suffered at it’s robot’s hands.”

“My father hated Arus for that, almost as much as he adored their technology.” He smirked at the memory, knowing that for all his love of Arusian technology, the secrets of Voltron had left his father endlessly frustrated. “Ah but witch? If Alfor wasn’t the inventor of Voltron, what was he? A pilot? Some kind of battle hardened warlord?”

Haggar sighed, closing her eyes, and Lotor felt she was going to put him off again. “He….” She snapped open her eyes, fixing her gaze on him. “He was the ruler of planet Arus.”

“Ruler?!” Lotor could not help gasping, staring shocked at Haggar.

“Yes.” A grim faced expression on her face, she nodded. “He was king of Arus….”

Lotor leaned back in his seat, sure his flabbergasted expression amused her. “King….! That means Allura is…”

“Arusian royalty.” Haggar finished for him. He opened and closed his mouth several times, Lotor just making shocked sounds. “Are you satisfied my King?”

“Satisfied?!” He exclaimed with a shake of his head no. “Hardly! You cant tell me such a thing, and not give me more details! How did a princess of Arus come to live on Doom? Why did her parents never come for her? Why did they not use Voltron to mount a rescue?”

“You should already know the answers to that.” Grumbled Haggar, disapproval in her eyes. “I know you are not stupid, your highness. So think for once!”

His face burned with embarrassment, Lotor glad his coloring kept him from showing a blush. As much as he hated to admit it, the witch was right, he did know the answers. His father had done this sort of thing often enough, though never had one of his political hostages ended up as part of the Doom royal family. “She was captured wasn’t she? Brought forcibly to Doom. No doubt my father made threats against her well being and life to get Alfor to surrender the planet and Voltron to him.”

“Aye.” Haggar’s head bobbed a yes. “Alfor was a fool. He didn’t deserve to be king if he and Diana were willing to sacrifice their kingdom to save one brat’s life.”

“That brat is my friend, and I will not have you speak ill of her!” Snapped Lotor, pounding a fist on his desk. The paper stacks trembled, one coming precariously close to toppling over.

“Forgive me sire…” Haggar said in a tone that implied she was not sorry.

He refused to acknowledge forgiveness to her, Lotor glaring at her. “So Alfor and his wife, this Diana, surrendered everything to my father. What happened to them? Did he kill them?”

“Oh no. He thought it too quick, too merciful to end their lives. He much rather watch them suffer as slaves, hated by the people they had betrayed.”

“Does that mean they are still alive?” Lotor asked, and she shrugged her shoulders.

“Who can say. It’s been many years, and the conditions on Arus haven’t been kind to the human natives. They may be alive, or they may be dead…they may be wishing for death right now…” She actually dared to laugh, an irritating cackle escaping her lips.

“Stop that infernal racket!” Lotor hissed, and Haggar made wide eyes at him. “Is there a way to track them down?”

“It’s nearly impossible.” Haggar said. “It’s been so long, and we didn’t exactly keep detailed records of worker slaves. If Alfor and Diana live, they are lost to us.”

“I see…” Lotor frowned. He wondered how Allura would handle the news, that she had parents that may or may not be alive. That they had loved her enough to sacrifice so much for her. That his father had been depraved enough to threaten a small child, an innocent little girl. It would be just one more reason for her to hate Zarkon, he had ruined her whole life by taking her prisoner. Lotor could not begin to make amends for what was done to her.

“Allura used to have nightmares…..horrible ones. The kind she woke up screaming and hysterical from.” Lotor remembered out loud. “What was done to her before my mother rescued her from the dungeons?”

Haggar stared at him solemnly. “Do you really want to know, sire?”

In a way he did not, but he also had a morbid need to know, Lotor nodding. “Yes I do.”

Haggar gave him a look, as though she thought he’d regret his decision. He almost did when she revealed the details, Lotor feeling sick to his stomach to hear the carnage that had surrounded Allura when she was taken prisoner. He realized it was for the best that Allura did not remember her kidnapping clearly, some things were better left forgotten, even the mind worked to protect one from certain horrors.

“Is that all your highness?” Haggar asked, and he nodded at her.

“Yes….you can go now.” Lotor said, already dismissing her from his sight. But she hesitated, still standing behind the chair, long enough that Lotor sighed and looked at her. “Yes?”

“You should use Voltron against Demos. I’ve no doubt the robot would easily lay waste to the obstacles that bar you from killing that empire’s royals.”

“Thank you for your advice Haggar.” Lotor said snidely. “I will not be using it.”

“Your father never got a chance to utilize Voltron. You shouldn’t waste this opportunity it presents us! Don’t make peace, the Drules won’t understand it. Only dealing crushing blows to our enemies can you gain the respect of the people!” Haggar was argumentative, and Lotor was in no mood for this familiar speech.

“Be gone from my sight witch! Lest I do more digging into the past, and find the excuse I need to rid myself of you once and for all!” She pursed her lips together, giving her a sour expression. But she bowed all the same, and turned swiftly from the desk, walking out into the hall. He spied the aides, those petitioners still waiting outside to gain his attention.

He held back his curse, and reached for the stuffed robeast, staring down at it’s furry head. He wished the toy could tell him what to say exactly to Allura, Lotor realizing he finally had the answers she needed, and not sure he wanted to give them to her. But give them he must, Lotor sighing as he stood up. Maybe by the time he reached her apartment, he’d know for sure what to say to her.

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