The slamming of the door into the bathroom’s wall had broken the plaster, colored dust being stirred up around her husband’s imposing frame. He didn’t so much as choke on the dust, fixing her with a furious glare, the Drule seeming to radiate anger. But he wasn’t growling, not yet, and Adaline took that as a good sign, running the brush once more over the girl’s hair.
“Lotor…fetch me one of your spare shirts.” Adaline said, and the boy nodded. He leapt to his feet, and hurried over to the bathroom’s closet, rustling among the clothing on the lower shelves. Adaline continued to fuss over the girl’s hair, pretending not to notice the anger emanating off of her husband.
Her son returned, handing her a black short sleeved shirt. It would bag on the girl like a tunic, the short sleeves coming past her elbows, and the hem reaching almost to her ankles. But it was better than the towel, or leaving the girl completely naked, Adaline quickly dressing her in the clean shirt.
“Just what do you think you are doing?” At last her husband spoke, his words holding a dangerous edge to them. She glanced out the corner of her eye at him, Zarkon still standing in the doorway, effectively trapping them in the room.
“Righting a wrong.” Adaline said at last, and Zarkon snorted at that. She had much more she wanted to say to him, but she was conscious of the girl and her son in the room, Adaline not wanting upset either one with a display of anger.
Lotor seemed oblivious to his father’s mood, the boy venturing closer to make a bright announcement. “Mommy got me a friend!”
“Did she now….” He almost hissed those words out, the boy giving an emphatic nod of his head.
“I’m to play with her, tell stories, and share secrets with! It will be fun!” Adaline stomach clenched at how excited Lotor sounded over the prospect, tensing up as she waited for her husband to explode in rage.
“Lotor, son…” Words spoken through clenched teeth, rasping on her nerves. “Take your little…friend, and go play in your room.”
Lotor hesitated, some hint of his father’s animosity getting through to him. He turned to look questioningly at his mother, and Zarkon grabbed him by the arm. “OW!” Lotor cried out in pain, his father shaking him hard. “That hurts!”
“When I give you an order, it is to be obeyed unquestionably. Is that understood?!”
“It hurts!” Lotor repeated, though thankfully his eyes had not teared up. The boy had been quick to catch on that showing tears before his father would earn him a hard cuff to the head.
“Answer your father.” Adaline quickly said, seeing Zarkon’s nostrils flare. From the tight grip he had on Lotor’s arm, she would not be surprised if her son bruised.
“I understand…” Lotor said, eyes blazing bright with hurt and anger.
“Good. Now do as I say!” Zarkon said, releasing the boy. Lotor hurried over to his mother, Adaline setting the child down on the floor. For a second she thought the girl would crumple to her knees, but she remained standing. Lotor’s fingers grasped hold of her smaller hand, and began tugging her behind him. The girl seemed to move in a daze, following after the boy, Zarkon moving out of the doorway.
He quickly returned, and this time he entered the bathroom, taking care to close and lock the door behind him. Adaline refused to show her fear, busying herself with picking up the brush and towel, and putting them in their respective places. It gave them both time to center their thoughts, Adaline trying to retain the anger and horror she had felt when learning about the imprisoned child.
“I was in the middle of holding court, enjoying a nice beheading when word came to me of your visit to the dungeons.” Zarkon began, and even though his voice sounded calmer, she knew it hid the dangerous undertone of his words. “Imagine my surprise, given your refusals in the past to set one foot in the dungeon master’s domain.”
She fussed over the clean towels, folding them again and again in an attempt to appear unconcerned. “I didn’t expect you to come running here as soon as you heard the news.”
“What did you expect?!” Zarkon sneered, his shadow falling over her as he drew near. “You pay a visit to my enemies’ child! Not only that you liberate her from her cell. I could hardly believe the reports, and had to come see for myself the depths of your foolishness.”
“It was the same for me.” It was a quiet exclamation, but no less lacking in fury than he. “What was I to think? To do? To hear that my husband had imprisoned a child, an innocent, in the dungeons. I didn’t want to believe that even you could be that much of a monster!”
“Then you sorely underestimate me!” Zarkon said coldly. “Make no mistake Adaline, I am the monster everyone says I am. I do what I want, when I want, with little care or concern to the consequences of others.”
“It’s wrong!” He laughed at that, Adaline fighting to keep her shoulders from shaking. “You know it is.”
“I rule here.” It was a reminder she didn’t need, Adaline glaring at him. “My word is absolute and I decide what is right and what is wrong. And wife? You’ll find there is little I deem as wrong.”
“Yes, I know.” She couldn’t keep the bitterness from seeping into her tone. She well knew that things like murder and rape were considered fine staples of the court, crimes that would horrify humans were being celebrated among the Drules. There was little that went punished, Zarkon taking slight only to attempts on himself, his possessions, or his throne.
“Then you also know that I have been kind in my handling of the child.”
“Kind?!” Her eyes brightened with anger, Adaline thinking back to the horrors of the dungeon. “You call that kind?!” He gave a slight incline of his head, Adaline slamming the towel down, her voice allowing anger to seep in. “She was alone, scared….covered in blood. She was left in the darkness for days, with only the sounds of the other prisoners as her sole comfort.”
“It could have been worse.” His reply turned malicious, a threat voiced out loud. “It still can be. It wouldn’t take much arranging to toss her into a cell with some of the worse scum in my dungeons.”
Adaline suppressed a shudder, forcing her mind not to go down dark paths that whispered to her what sort of things could happen to a child as pretty as that little girl. Especially if she was left unguarded among the criminals and perverts of Drule society. “Why….” She was horrified that her voice choked with emotion, Adaline unable to finish giving voice to her question.
“Why what?” Zarkon demanded, voice no less gruff in the face of her upset.
“Why do you hate her so?” She asked, staring at him. A brief flicker of surprise, so fast she would have missed it if she hadn’t been staring unblinking at him. But then his eyes returned to their usual, angry gleam, Zarkon giving her an unhappy smile.
“It has nothing to do with hating her.”
“Then her parents?” Adaline questioned, and she could have sworn Zarkon hesitated one brief second before answering.
“Alfor and his line have been a constant thorn in my side. The brat is a tool, nothing more nothing less.”
“Alfor?” Her eyes widened, Adaline gasping in shock. “You don’t mean King Alfor?!”
“Who else?” demanded Zarkon. “It wasn’t just any brat I snatched off of Arus. I needed a pawn that would guarantee the King’s compliance, although the man and his ilk are so soft hearted a lot that it wouldn’t surprise me if they surrendered the planet for just about any child in danger.”
“Then it’s true?” Adaline tried to keep the urgency out of her voice as she questioned her husband. “Arus has finally fallen to Doom rule?”
“Aye.” A shrewd look then, Zarkon studying her. “Does it upset you, dear? Does it bother you to think your former home is no longer free?”
“No, of course not.” She allowed no emotion in her voice, not wanting him to know her true feelings. He’d only take pleasure from her hurt.
“Liar.” Snorted Zarkon, calmed down enough to be amused.
“I gave up on Arus many years ago.” Adaline said, inside working to dull the pain brought up from this topic. “Once I realized there was no going back, no chance of escape, no one coming to rescue me….” Adaline knew that when she had come to that painful realization, things had become better between her and Zarkon. She still loathed her husband with every fiber of her being, but she had ceased to fight him on every little matter that came her way.
She knew Zarkon liked to think he had tamed her, broken down her spirit to the point she was manageable. Adaline thought she was savvy, doing what was needed to survive, and learning how to handle her husband. Survival was key, for his temper was notorious, and in those early years of their marriage it hadn’t been unusual for him to fly in a rage, and strike her.
But never on the face, never where the bruises could not be hidden by clothes. Such was Zarkon’s pleasure in showing off her beauty, wanting everyone to admire and envy her. She was no less than a toy to him, a beautiful possession he liked to flaunt before others. Such actions weren’t without repercussions, the ladies of the court hated her, and the lords of the court were no better, lusting after what they couldn’t have.
“Does it make you bitter, wife?” Zarkon asked, reaching to catch at her chin when she tried to turn away. “You should embrace that bitterness, store it within you and let it fester.”
“What good would that serve?” She demanded, not attempting to jerk her face out of his grip.
“It would make it easier to accept what is being done. What HAS to be done.” She thought he meant Arus, but he soon showed her how little she understood. “We’re no time for a woman’s sympathy, not towards our enemies. That child of Alfor’s will either gain us Arus or die as a lesson on what happens when one refuses Doom.”
“No!” Her turmoil escaped her, Adaline staring stunned at him. She had thought it bad enough to hold the girl hostage, but found it even more unbearable to think of that little life snuffed out because of her husband’s ambitions. “You can’t!”
“Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do!” Zarkon snapped, fingers tightening painfully on her chin. He leaned in so that his breath washed over her face, but the warmth of it didn’t chase away the chill she was experiencing. “I rule here, and no one, let alone some woman I stole to be my wife, can tell me what to do!”
He was too close, seeming to suck in her very air, suffocating her with his nearness. She struggled not to scream, frustration and the pain of his grip making her strong front start to crumble. But she didn’t, wouldn’t offer up an apology for angering him further, Adaline holding in a whimper before speaking. “You’re right…I can’t. I can only make suggestions….”
“You’re suggestions are neither needed nor warranted.”
“Nevertheless, anyone could see you bring ruin to Doom if you kill that girl.” Persisted Adaline. “Her father won’t rest until he has his revenge. He’ll bring Voltron to our doorstep…His grief at what has been done will only fuel his anger, his vendetta for revenge.”
“I doubt very much Alfor will become this unstoppable force you paint.” To her relief, Zarkon let go of her, and took a step back. “That’s man grief and guilt will be his undoing, you humans are too weak to emotions for him to be able to function once his daughter is gone.”
“You’re underestimating him, them.” She said, hearing him scoff at her words. “Alfor won’t cave in to grief for long, he didn’t when you killed his father!”
“And since when have you become Alfor’s champion?!” demanded Zarkon, with a glower on his face.
“Then drop this subject and return the brat to the dungeon!” He had raised his voice, hinting that his limited patience was nearing it’s end. He’d soon be done with this heated discussion, and if Adaline had not swayed him to see things her way, then she never would.
“What is happening on Arus right now?” He blinked, surely taken aback by her steering the conversation in a slightly different direction.
“Now?” Adaline nodded. “They are awaiting the arrival of my ships. Voltron has supposedly been deactivated. We will see just how sincere Alfor was about Arus’ surrender when my people arrive. If it’s a trap, then his daughter will pay the price.”
“And if it’s not?” Adaline asked, feeling anxious. “Then what will you do with her?”
“She can rot in the dungeons for all I care.” Came his unconcerned answer. “It matters little what happens to her, so long as she lives for me to use as a means to keep Alfor and his people alive.”
“If it matters so little….” began Adaline, seizing on a sliver of hope. “Then why can’t the girl stay with me?”
“With you?” He actually chuckled then. “Surely you don’t intend to live in the dungeons with her. Your graciousness and goodness don’t extend that far, you are far too much a creature of comforts.”
“I’d do what I have to.”
He actually sighed, a deep exhalation that hinted at his frustration with her. “This is highly irregular, even for you. Adaline, she’s just a child. Never mind she is not tied to you by flesh and blood. Why does she matter so?”
“She’s in need…” Adaline said plaintively. “That should be enough to move anyone…”
“It’s a human thing isn’t it?” Came his weary question. Zarkon often blamed the things she did that confused or troubled him on the fact that she was human, and given what she had seen among the Drules of his court, she had to believe that too. He thought of it as a weakness, compassion and kindness, the desire to do good, but Adaline felt it was inherent strengths of the human race.
“Please….” Adaline made her voice a soft entreaty, the woman stepping closer to him, a hand poised to touch his arm. “Give the child to me.”
She immediately drew back her hand as though his skin had burnt her, her eyes filling with anger at his quick refusal. “In all the years I have lived here on Doom, lived and served as your wife….I have never, ever, asked you for a gift or a favor…” She knew that displeased him, her husband often expressing he wished she was a more materialistic woman. He acted as though it would please him to grant her requests, but Adaline knew better. Knew that if he knew there was something, other than her freedom, that she wanted badly enough to beg for, he would lord it over her.
And so she had never asked, not even for one single glittering jewel or begged he remove the more troublesome ladies from his court. She had never wanted him to have something he could hold over her, never wanted to owe him anything more than her and her son’s life. But now everything had changed, and she knew if he granted her her heart’s desire, the price would be high indeed.
She braced herself both mentally and emotionally, clasping her hands together before her. “I’m asking you now. Please….let me have her. To do with as I please.”
“You play that card with me?” He almost looked stunned, staring at her earnest face. She nodded, holding her breath for his answer. “Fine then Adaline….the girl is yours.” Before she could sag in relief, he was holding up one sharp tipped claw, voice almost gloating. “But, it will not be without it’s price!”
“I understand.” Adaline said, prepared for the worst. “And I accept.”
“Don’t be so quick my dear….” He warned with a grating hiss. “You may find the price too expensive for your liking.”
“I’ll pay any price, do anything.” Her resolve did not waver, not even when he smiled at her, showing off his teeth and his sharp fangs.
“Good. Because things are going to be very different starting from today.” She waited for him to elaborate, trying not to show any worry on her face. He smiled again, and reached out to stroke his fingers down the side of her face. The gentle touch was a deception, he suddenly grabbed her by her hair, bringing her against him with a cruel jerk.
“And my first request is for you to get down on your knees.” He purred into her ears, Adaline’s eyes widening. Surely he did not mean for her to do THAT. “Adaline…” A warning in his voice, subtle tsking of his tongue. “If I have to force you, then you don’t get the girl.”
“You want my compliance…” Adaline’s tone was dull, feeling Zarkon nibble on her ear, his tone husky as he laughed. She knew she could do this, knew it was just sex. She had done it countless times before, and the man was her husband. But something about this felt different, Adaline trying not to shiver.
“I want your compliance…” He confirmed, breath tickling her ear. “In and out of bed. That means you do anything I ask, no matter how lewd, how sick, how depraved. And you’ll do it eagerly, with a smile on your face.” He suddenly pulled back, his face serious. “Now….tell me the brat is worth it.”
“Wh…what’s her name?” She had the satisfaction of seeing him confused by the sudden question, Zarkon frowning.
“Allura.” She repeated, and with a bow of her head, she was sliding down his body, her knees thumping on the cool floor. She felt his hands touch her, Zarkon forcing her to look up at him.
“No tears Adaline, though I won’t mind if you let your anger show.” He’d like that, Zarkon would feed off her hatred, get off on it just as surely as he would enjoy the act she was about to perform. She wouldn’t give it to him, she’d hide her feelings, both good and bad, lock them up tight inside her where he couldn’t reach.
His grin was feral, Zarkon reaching to undo his belt, Adaline watching impassive. She just kept telling herself this was for Allura, and that it was no big deal, hoping that a part of her would believe it.