It had taken him a while to come to Allura’s door, not all of the delay having to do with Lotor’s uncertainty on how to break the news about her birth parents. The group of petitioners had been especially persistent, waiting tirelessly outside his office door. They had shouted to him every time the office door was open, it was all the two guards had been able to do to keep them at bay.
Such behavior could not be allowed to continue, Lotor radioing down to demand more guards come to his aide. He had had them round up the aides, dragging their protesting forms off for an overnight stay in the castle dungeon. Maybe after they experienced the dungeon master’s hospitality, they would be less pushy towards their king.
Once that problem was cleared up, there had really been no reason to delay, Lotor picking up the stuffed robeast and leaving his office. He had been accompanied by a pair of guards, the men ready to die for their king should anyone make the attempt on Lotor’s life. Not that the King could not protect himself, although in this instant his thoughts were very much distracted, distancing himself from noticing his surroundings.
It wasn’t a relief when he entered the wing where his and Allura’s apartments lay, Lotor’s step slowing even further. He was still fumbling in his mind, wondering how exactly to break the news to her, muttering things softly under his breath. His fingers tightened on the stuffed robeast’s furry hide, Lotor not surprised to feel his hands grow damp with nervous sweat.
He was preparing for the worst possible reaction from Allura, worrying she would hate him for what his father had done to her and her family. He needn’t have worried, not about Allura hating him for that. She was too kind a soul, too understanding a person to blame him for something his father did when he was just a child.
He glanced at the guards, and gestured for them to fall back. They were reluctant, but did as he bade, giving Lotor a sense of privacy as he stepped closer to Allura’s door. He shifted the robeast in his arms, and knocked on the door. For once he didn’t mind if she took her sweet time answering, Lotor all but fidgeting in place as he waited for Allura to open the door.
She did so, and smiled at him, Lotor mustering up a weak grin in response to her. She barely had time to curtsey, already her eyes had spied the stuffed toy in his arms, Allura’s eyes lighting up with delight.
“You found it!”
“Well, not I personally.” Lotor told her, handing the toy to her, then stepping past her to enter the room. “But I made sure to hound the people responsible for losing it, until they had no choice but to locate it.”
He heard the door close when Allura stepped away from it, the girl following him across the room. Lotor immediately sat down in a chair, folding his hands in his lap. Within seconds he decided against that pose, fidgeting about in his seat as he attempted to get comfortable.
Allura surely noticed, but she was without comment as she took a seat next to him, the stuffed robeast resting on her lap. She kept one hand on it, as though trying to reassure herself of it’s presence, her fingers rubbing across it’s fur.
The silence stretched on between them, and then Lotor was clearing his throat, mouth suddenly feeling too dry for his liking. But he didn’t ask her for a drink, not wanting to be a bother after she had made herself comfortable next to him. Instead he forced himself to relax as best he could, leaning into the chair’s cushioned back as he glanced at Allura.
She was still smiling, though it had dimmed some, her hand’s movement distracted as she studied him. Allura surely suspected something was up, and her eyes brimmed with curiosity, the girl somehow managing to contain herself from asking him invasive questions. Lotor let out the breath he was holding, and realized he couldn’t even think beyond the revelations Haggar had given him. Certainly not to attempt at making small talk before easing into the more serious matter!
Allura did it for him, smile still there as she let concern fill her eyes. “You had court today.” He nodded, but did not say anything, Allura sighing. “That must have been rough…”
“No more than usual.” Lotor said, thinking of the disgruntled nobles, their thirst for vicious displays, and their incessant whining for his attention.
“Do you…ever think of allowing things to remain the way they were?” Allura asked, and he glanced surprised at her. “At least long enough to cement your popularity with the nobles?”
“If I waited for the nobles to get used to the idea of doing things different from Zarkon’s rule, they’d never be ready.” Lotor told her. “There’s no sense in delaying, it’s time for change.” She nodded at that, but couldn’t keep the worry off her face. “Don’t worry Allura…” Lotor said, reaching out to touch her hand on top of the stuffed robeast. “I won’t fail. Neither will I back down, or fall prey to plots by disgruntled Drules.”
She didn’t look like she entirely believed him, merely nodding her head in reply. It left Lotor reaching for a conversation topic, and realizing so long as the reveal of her parents remained hidden from her, he’d be unable to think of anything else. “I saw Haggar today….”
“What did the witch want?” Allura asked, well knowing how much he despised the woman.
“Ah, for once it wasn’t her idea to come to me.” Lotor forced a smile. “It was I who commanded her presence.”
“Oh?” The worry was replaced with interest, Allura looking intrigued at what he had said. “Whatever for?”
“There were things only she could tell me. Answers I trusted she would give me.” Lotor forced out a chuckle, amused at the thought. “How strange to think I could trust her for anything, let alone this.”
“What was it?” Allura asked. “What did she tell you?”
He pulled back his hand, not wanting her to feel the sudden clamminess of his palm. “I asked her something about what my father said in his final moments.” Lotor wanted to look away, and yet at the same time he HAD to see Allura’s reaction to his words. “I asked her about….Alfor.”
“Alfor?!” Allura gasped out the name, eyes growing wide. “You mean…the same Alfor that that monster said was my father?”
“The very one.” Confirmed Lotor with a nod of his head. Allura licked her lips slowly, looking both nervous and desperately curious.
“Wh….what did she have to say?” She stammered out her question, stumbling over words.
“Quite frankly, I am at a loss at how to prepare you for the news.” Lotor admitted. “I fear what I tell you will come as quite a shock to your system.”
“Just tell me.” Allura urged, and touched his arm. “Please….I can handle it. I will. I promise you that.” He still hesitated, earning a frustrated look from Allura. “Is he alive? Is he a slave? Is he…dead?”
So many questions, most of which he did not have any definitive answers for! But he held back his sighs, looking at Allura seriously. “I suppose I should start with what I know….”
“What you know?” She cocked her head to the side, confusion in her blue eyes. “Then….you don’t know the answers to my questions?”
He didn’t reply to that one, instead starting to spin the tale that Haggar had told him. “Alfor is from the planet Arus.”
“Arus…” Allura breathed out an interruption, seeming to savor the word.
“Arus is one of the planets that make up the Drule Empire.” Continued Lotor. He could see she didn’t know how to react to that tidbit, Allura surely wondering if it was a planet of conquered slaves, or one like Ranxhi where the people had earned a bit of freedom by welcoming Doom into their world. “I don’t know if you remember much about the lessons we had as children….but Arus was a planet that was quite troublesome for the Drule, my father in particular. They spent years making war, Arus refusing to surrender. They seemed as stubborn as Doom, neither side wanting to give up.”
She was listening quietly, not betraying if this was making her impatient for news about her father. “By all rights, Arus should have been easy to crush, it wasn’t a particularly big planet. Though it was rich in assets which made my father want it all the more. However…” Lotor paused, noting how still Allura had become, her fingers no long stroking the toy’s fur. “Arus had an ace up their sleeve. Where their military might would have made little difference against Doom’s armadas, they had Voltron.”
“Yes.” He nodded at her. “Are you familiar with the name?”
“Not really…” Allura admitted. “It feels as though I should know it though…”
“It’s all right. It’s been years since Voltron has been active.” Lotor told her. “My father spent nearly a decade trying to crack it’s secrets….heh…he died before he could ever make use of the weapon.”
“Just what is Voltron?” Allura asked.
“Voltron? It is a robot, a large mecha consisting of five smaller robots that connect together to form a fearsome power. It seems near unstoppable…certainly Doom was never able to defeat it, no matter what they threw at it.”
“Then how did it come to be in your father’s possession?” Allura showed how much she didn’t understand with the look on her face, brow furrowed in worry.
“Ah…that…” Once again he shifted, body betraying how uncomfortable he felt. “Well, Allura….that’s where you come in.”
“Me?!” A rapid blinking of her eyes, the girl showing her surprise.
“Yes.” Lotor couldn’t’ smile at what he had to say. “You were just a child when you were brought to Doom. Captured by my father’s soldiers, you were made into a valuable bargaining chip against the King and Queen of planet Arus. You see Allura…” A sigh then, Lotor brushing his hair aside in an agitated manner. “My father gave them very simple terms…surrender everything to Doom, or you would die.”
“I was a hostage…” Allura said slowly, than frantically shook her head no. “But why should I matter to the royals of Arus?! Surely the life of one child would not balanced out enslaving the whole planet!”
“Ah but you did matter!” He caught her hands, and gave them a light squeeze, Lotor trying to draw strength from Allura. “You do matter…never forget it…”
She frowned at him, and shook her head again. “I don’t understand….”
But she would in a second, Lotor breathing out a response slowly. “You see….the King and Queen of planet Arus? They were…are your parents…”
A stunned silence followed those words, Allura just staring at him, seeming to forget to even breathe. Her hands had gone limp in his, her eyes wide with shock. And then she did the most surprising thing of all, she laughed.
“Lotor, don’t tease me…”
He frowned at her, slowly letting go of her hands. “I am not. King Alfor and Queen Diana are your birth parents. The former rulers of planet Arus. They loved you Allura. Loved you enough to sacrifice everything! Nothing else mattered but your well being, even if it was foolish of them to do this thing, they wanted you to live!”
Allura touched the toy in her lap, and then was hugging it against her chest. Lotor feared she’d start to cry, the King not knowing what else to say. “Never forget, no matter what you may think of them for what they agreed to do, they loved you. That love is what kept you alive, and not just theirs! My mother? Adaline’s love also helped protect you, as did mine.”
“Love…” Allura whispered, than buried her face against the robeast’s fur. Her words came out muffled, but she wasn’t crying, Lotor marveling at how brave and composed she was being. “Do Alfor and Diana still live? Can I see them? Are there pictures of them? Are there pictures of them with me?”
“I..I don’t know.” Lotor admitted. “Haggar claims we lost track of them on Arus. They weren’t killed, but made slaves.” He kept quiet about the fact that the people they had betrayed might have killed them in a fit of anger, or for revenge, figuring Allura had enough unpleasantness to deal with.
“Then they could still be alive!” Allura exclaimed, lifting up her head. Her eyes were wild with excitement, she seemed barely able to contain herself. “Oh Lotor! We have to find out what happened to them! I have to find out!” She was suddenly standing, Lotor hurrying to get up as well. The robeast was still in her arms, Allura hugging it excitedly. “I have to leave at once!
“Leave?!” He was alarmed and confused, not understanding.
“Yes!” Allura said, moving to pace about the room. She seemed unsure of what to do first, taking a step towards the bedroom, then changing her mind. “There’s so many arrangements to be made. I’ll have to pack and hire a shuttle, and get the proper papers to travel. You’ll help me there, won’t you?!”
He felt like he was several steps behind her in this conversation, Lotor standing there staring at her. “Just where do you think you are going?”
“To Arus of course!” Allura exclaimed, and he shouted back in surprise.
“Arus?! What!? Why!?”
“To find my parents of course!” Allura replied, then glanced downwards. “Or at least….to find out what happened to them.”
“You don’t need to go to Arus to do that!” Lotor protested.
“But it’s my only lead…Besides….I would like to see the world that is my birth place….” Allura told him. “I want…I need to do this….”
“Why not?” Allura asked, frowning at him.
“There’s nothing there for you on Arus! My father has seen to that!” Lotor saw how hurt his words made her, Allura seeming to flinch when he said there was nothing for her there.
“It’s my home world….” Allura whispered. “That is more than enough for me.”
“It’s too dangerous.” Lotor began, and her frown deepened.
“Why? Why is it too dangerous?”
“You don’t know what the people are like…the resentments they might harbor…if they find out the former princess, the very one that was the planet’s downfall…” Lotor trailed off, holding back a shudder.
“You think they would try to hurt me….?” Allura asked, crestfallen.
“I don’t know!” Lotor admitted. “But I don’t want to take that chance….”
“It’s my chance to take!” She pointed out. “I must go….and face my past if I’m ever to have any of the answers I need.”
“I’ve given you more than enough answers!” Lotor snapped. “I found out where you came from, who your parents are, how you arrived on Doom! What more do you need?!”
“I…well for one thing, I need to know more about my parents. What kind of people were they….I believe them must have been good people, kind hearted people. You are right, they had to have loved me a great deal to make a bargain with the devil. But still…it’s not enough…I want to know everything I can about them! And of course, I am hoping to find out whether they lived or died…”
“All of that I can find out for you…” Lotor began, and Allura cut him off, shaking her head no.
“I doubt the people of Arus will open up to you.” She looked sad then. “Not after all the Drule have done. You can order them around, but there are things, small things they will never open up about.”
“And you think they will do it for you?” An incredulous Lotor asked. He snorted then, wishing he had never told her the truth about her origins. “What do you think, you’re going to go around announcing who you are? In the hopes that some kindly old woman can tell you everything you long for about your parents?!” He saw the defensive look come in her eyes, Lotor glaring back at her. “You cannot be that foolish!”
“NO!” Lotor roared over her, drowning out her words. “Absolutely not Allura! I forbid it!”
“You forbid it?!” Allura glared back at him, her mouth dropping open in shock.
“I am still your King! And in case you have forgotten, my word is absolute. You are NOT going to Arus, you are to remain here, and let me delve into the past, let me discover what information there is to be found about Aflor and Diana!”
“That’s not fair…” She muttered, eyes flashing sharply with defiant anger.
“It’s more than fair!” He tried to soften his voice and expression, walking towards her. “Allura, it is out of concern for you and your well being that I act like this. I only seek to protect you…”
She tried to avoid him when he reached out to hug her, Allura’s words cutting like daggers into him. “I survived just fine all these years without your protection!”
He stiffened immediately, hurt and angry. “Oh yes, and you did wonderfully yourself. Becoming a career woman who had to rely on a former whore for protection!” She gasped at that, but he didn’t let her go, not even when she began struggling. “Face it Allura, you’ve always had to have someone protect you. Whether it was me, my mother, or Madame Elianza! And I will keep on protecting you…even from yourself if need be.”
“You’re not being fair..” She said, and he hugged her tighter. “Damn it Lotor, I need to do this!” When that didn’t move him, she tried a different tactic, reeling back enough to glare into his eyes. “I’ll hate you if you stop me!”
It was his turn to flinch, Lotor voice gruff as he answered. “So be it then.” With that he was letting go of her, stalking towards the room’s exit. She didn’t say anything to him, but she followed him right up to the door. Lotor paused, an arm barring her from stepping out into the hall, the King realizing he was about to do something that would earn even more of Allura’s animosity.
“You there.” Lotor growled to one of the guards patrolling the corridor. “I want you to take up position here. See that the Lady Allura does not leave her apartment for any reason.”
“Your highness!” Allura gasped, sounding outraged. He didn’t apologize to her, nor did he explain the fear he had that she would try to leave Doom without his permission. He couldn’t allow that, and even if it made her want to hate him for his behavior, he’d let her. Anything to keep her on Doom!
“Yes, sire.” The guard said, glancing between his king and the courtesan.
“Don”t do this your highness!” He ignored Allura’s protests, not so much as sparing her a backward glance as he strode away.