Chapter 11: Realizations and Revelations
Allura's eyes widened as she heard a voice whisper her name. It was a voice she knew very well, but couldn't believe she was hearing it. She slowly turned around and gasped in shock. There stood Lotor, and he was very much alive.
"No. It can't be. You're dead. Coran said you were dead." She stuttered trying to repress the scream that wanted to escape her lips.
"I'm not dead. I faked my death." Lotor said as he slowly approached the frightened princess.
"Don't come near me. Don't you dare come near me." She gasped.
"I won't hurt you. I need you to listen to me. My father...he's," At that point Lotor fell to his knees with an exghausted sigh.
Allura rushed to her nightstand turning on her light. She reached into the drawer and pulled out a small stun gun. When she turned and looked at Lotor she gasped at what she saw. His upper body was covered in bruises and lacerations. His hair was disheveled and his bangs hung down over his face parting at the middle. He didn't look like the cocky, arrogant prince she was so used to. He was weary from constant abuse and fighting. He looked like a very broken man.
"Allura, please don't be frightened of me." He said wearily.
"What...happened to you?" Allura asked keeping her gun aimed on the former prince.
"My father exiled me. He handed me over to the ogre masters of planet Carnos. I was turned into a slave. He is planning a major attack upon Arus. I came to warn you. I don't know what it is he's planning to do, only that he intends to do away with Arus and Voltron once and for all."
"And you would warn me just to get back at him?"
"No. I did this because I can't bear for anything to happen to you. Allura, I love you. I will always love you. I don't care what happens to my father or myself. But if I lose you, then I lose the one light that flickers in this dark, jaded soul of mine."
"Then what you said that night was true? You...love me?"
"Yes. It's true. You are everything to me, everything. When I heard talk of an attack that would put an end to any resistance from you and your people, I had to do something. I had to get out of there. But then I ended up on Taebos and almost got killed there."
"You went through all this to warn me?"
"It doesn't undo all the pain I've caused you. Nothing I can do will ever make right all the wrong's I've done. But if in all my life I did only one thing right, it had to be saving you any way I could. You are the hope of your people. You must live. It makes no difference if my life ends."
"You are wrong young one." Said a man's voice.
"My father," Allura gasped. "His spirit is with us."
As she spoke, the etherial form of King Alfor appeared before the two. Lotor bowed his head.
"Great king, I know I have wronged your daughter. I will accept whatever vengence you see fit to bring upon me." He said in a solom tone.
"I seek no vengence against you young prince. Your life holds more importance than you know. As important as my daughter's life is, yours also holds great significance."
"I don't understand. What importance could my life possibly hold? My father said I was just a mistake. He was right."
"Zarkon is not whom you have been led to believe he is. Many truths lie hidden in the darkness, waiting for you to find them. Your lives are more intertwined than either of you know." Said King Alfor.
"Our lives? Father, I don't understand." Allura replied.
He turned to Allura. "The history between you both has been jaded and filled with chaos and heartbreak. But now Lotor has learned what it is to be on the other side of a slave master's chain. He has begun down the road to redemption, and you must help him continue that path, my daughter. Bridges that were broken must be rebuilt. You both must help each other if our world, and other worlds are to escape Zarkon's iron grip." Alfor said.
"But where do I start? And how will this protect Allura?" Lotor asked.
"What you seek lies within the dungeons of castle Doom. There your search for the answers you seek must begin. Time is short. Zarkon will not wait much longer to put his plans into motion. It is up to you, young prince to discover the truth of who you really are. Only then can you understand my words." Alfor replied. His wisdom given, the king's spirit vanished from sight.
Both Lotor and Allura were left to ponder the meaning of Alfor's words. She put down her stun gun and went to where Lotor had collasped on the floor. His expression was one of confusion. Allura knelt beside him. For the first time since they met, she showed no fear toward him. He looked up seeing her at his side.
"I don't understand. What possible importance could my life have, and what did he mean Zarkon isn't whom I think he is?"
"My father does not share his wisdom lightly. When he speaks in such a manner, his words are of great importance. Under other circumstances, it would be almost impossible to trust you. But for you to have gone through all this hardship, and for my father to appear before us both..."
"I can't believe there was no anger in his voice. So many fathers would have jumped at the chance to spit every curse they could think of at me. If they had the chance to rip my eyes out or worse they would have done it. But your father holds no ill against me."
"He was a wise and generous man in life. He never sought vengence against anyone. All he ever wanted was to protect his people and his family. Even after king Zarkon vanquished him, his spirit still appears to me. He offers advice in difficult situations. And to appear to both of us and tell us the things he has, there must be truth to it. I don't quite understand myself all that he said, but only to take it as truth. I have always had faith in my father's advice, always."
"Faith is something I've never had any use for, that is until now. I find myself needing a lot of it."
"Faith is what you must have now. My father spoke of your road to redemption, and how it began on Carnos. Listen to his words. Yes the history between us has been less than kind, but seeing all that you have endured makes me believe that you have changed."
Those were words Lotor never believed he would hear from Allura's mouth. And what she said next stunned him even more. "In time, I believe the wounds between us can heal, and there can be forgiveness between us." She said softly then added, "But the hardest part is not my forgiving you. The hardest thing will be for you to forgive yourself."
"Forgive myself." Lotor said looking down. "How can I ever forgive myself for all that I've done. All my life I was raised to be a tyrant and a ruthless conqueror. I know my father, and I never really liked each other. Though even I never imagined he would thrust me into such hell. I always thought one of us would end up killing the other, and many times one or both of us almost succeeded."
"It will take a lot of time, but it's something you must do. Otherwise you can never truly have any form of peace for yourself." Allura replied as she extended her hand. It took a moment, but the young princess helped Lotor to his feet and walked him over to her bed. He sat down rubbing his arms and shoulders.
"I had better go. If your friends were to suddenly walk in here and see me..."
"You're not going anywhere right now. You're in no condition to do anything except rest and nurse your wounds. I'll find a place for you to hide until you're well enough to leave."
"Allura, you heard what your father said. There's not much time. I don't understand what he meant about going to planet Doom to find the meaning of his words. Quite frankly planet Doom is the last place I ever want to go again."
"For now there is time. You need to recover first. I can't keep you in the castle. If Keith and the others did find you things could get very unpleasant. And if Nanny or Coran even knew I'm talking to you they'd probably lock me up in my room for a long time. There should be some type of shelter near the castle. I'll have to find a way to sneak us both out without anyone getting suspicious."
"You can use this." Lotor replied handing Allura the amulet around his neck. "Pressing the center crystal will make you invisible. That's how I got into the castle undetected. But there is something I have to tell you. I didn't come alone. On Taebos I found an ally in another drule who served Zarkon, but turned against him when he realized the cruelty of my father's ways. He was a pit fighter named Kaladan. We made a bargain with each other. I would fight him, and if I won he would help me escape Taebos. In return, I have promised to help him recover his honor. He is outside the castle."
"He's an ally?" Allura asked.
"Yes. He hates Zarkon as much as I do, and with good reason. When he was captured and branded a traitor, my father punished him in a way that was even more brutal than what he did to me. There was a young woman he fell in love with. They were together for a year before being captured. My father had her executed in the most vile fashion imaginable, and Kaladan was forced to watch. I would prefer not to tell you how she died. I can only say that he was forced to watch her scream in agony until at last death took her last breath. And then Kaladan himself was nearly tortured to death. My father had him dumped on Taebos thinking he would die. But he didn't. He managed to find a few compassionate souls on that hellhole. They nursed him back to health. Then he was approached by the pit masters who made a deal with him. If he would fight as their champion, they would let him have his revenge upon the monsters who killed the woman he loved. The finer details are best left unsaid, but he accepted. Any of my father's guards, envoys, or anyone who willingly served my father met gruesome ends." Lotor answered.
"Can you trust him?"
"Yes. He wants my father stopped as much as I do. To be able to thwart his plans is perhaps the only way he knows of to regain his lost honor, and perhaps gain a measure of justice for the woman he loved and lost."
"I know you were able to sneak into the castle unseen, but how did you manage to get past the guards?"
"Well, I'm afraid I ended up making them fight each other so they'd be so distracted they wouldn't see the door open. From what I heard they weren't trying to kill each other."
"We'd better get out there and make sure they're all right. If Nanny catches them not doing their jobs they're in big trouble. Will this make us both invisible if we both touch it?"
"Yes. I'm not sure how long the effects will last. Kaladan was also invisible when I snuck in. He may be visible now."
"Then we'd better go get him and hide the both of you."
"I...I never had the chance to say this before. I'm sorry about that night. I shouldn't have grabbed you the way I did. I never meant to hurt or frighten you. It wasn't until I was on Carnos as a slave that I truly understood how much I hurt you that night. I was so consumed by my own desires I didn't see how much pain I caused you. I hate myself for that."
"I...I need to apologize as well." Allura said looking away for a moment.
"Why? You did nothing against me that I didn't deserve. I treated you like every other woman I've known. I thought you would be impressed by power and wealth, or at the very least be easy to intimidate. I was wrong. You are perhaps the strongest young woman I have ever met. It took a spirit like yours to make me realize not all women are easily swayed by good looks and an overflowing amount of wealth The hatred you held toward me was well deserved."
"No. It wasn't really you that I hated. For the longest time I tried and tried to bury away the anger I felt at your father for killing mine. My father was everything to my mother and I. And when she died he was all I had left. Then Zarkon took him away from me. Then attacked our world capturing so many of our people. Except for Nanny and Coran, I felt alone. They became so afraid for my life that I was isolated for a long time. They would never let me go out alone, if they let me go out at all. I know they were only trying to keep me safe, but deep down I felt more like a prisoner than a princess. And I blame Zarkon for that. He took so much away from my people and I. And I couldn't take my rage out on him. When I met you and learned you were his son...deep down that was the only way for me to vent my anger. I projected all my anger and hatred for him onto you. My father and mother raised me to be a kind and compassionate ruler. But I let my spite of your father cloud my judegment. And I took it out on you."
"Allura, you have nothing to apologize for. I wanted to be just as terrible as my father. I was not just an extension of him, I wanted to be even worse than he was. I grew up knowing only cruelty and brutality. I didn't respect women. I didn't respect those whom I saw as beneathe me. I treated them worse than animals. I deserve to be hated. It was only when I met you that I began to wonder about all that my father taught me. And even then, I wanted to prove I was better than him. I was more powerful and more ruthless than he could ever hope to be. But at the same time I couldn't bear to see you hurt. And if you were killed...I couldn't deal with it. I often either drank myself into unconciousness or took every slave I had to my bed trying to convince myself I didn't love you. My feelings became so conflicted I didn't know what to do. When he exiled me into slavery, I realized where my priorities and my loyalties truly are. They're with you."
"I believe you. I know my friends would tell me not to, but I do. Stay here. I'll go find your comrade and let him know you're all right. Then we'll figure out a place you two can stay out of site until you're well enough to do what you have to do." Allura said taking the amulet in her hands. Giving one last backward glance, she quietly left her room after activiting the crystal's power.
Lotor slowly reclined back on her bed trying to give his aching body some form of relief. "Well, at the very least, there is a chance for us to be friends if nothing else." He said quietly to himself.
Allura cautiously crept through the halls so she would not wake anyone up. When she felt she was far enough away, she rushed through the rest of the castle and opened the door. "It's a good thing Coran was able to convince Nanny to disable the alarm for now. The whole planet would be awake if that thing went off." She said to herself.
She walked outside and saw the two sentries lying on the ground. She rushed over to them and felt of their necks for pulses. While they might have been out cold, they were alive. She looked around to see if anyone was there. At first she saw no one. Touching the center crystal she became visible once again. "Kaladan?" She called softly.
Hearing a rustling in the bushes she saw a figure rise up from the brush. The red haired drule turned around to see Allura looking at him. She cautiously approached. "Are you Kaladan?" She asked.
"I am. You must be princess Allura." He answered.
"Yes. Lotor warned me of some attack King Zarkon is planning. He's still in my room at the moment. He sent me to tell you he's all right. I need to find a place you both can hide." Allura replied.
"I've already found one. While waiting I wandered off and found a cave not too far from the castle. I just got back a few moments ago but hid to keep from being seen by the wrong eyes. I must apologize for the state of your guards. We meant only to divert them from our presence but they ended up getting into a fight. I was afraid the two fools would end up doing themselves great harm so I knocked them out."
"It's all right. I don't have much time. While Lotor came to talk with me, the spirit of my father appeared to us both. He told Lotor there are many things about his past he doesn't know. There are things about his own father he doesn't know, and he must learn the answers. But to do that he has to go to planet Doom. But at the moment, he's in no condition to do anything other than rest. We don't have a lot of time, but he needs to recover at least enough of his strength for the task at hand."
"I will watch over him. Evidently we both need some time to recover. Our duel on Taebos was a rough one, and fighting through the pit guards took even more out of us. The ship we arrived in is very low on fuel. If there is any way you can refuel it for us we'd both be very greatful."
"Don't worry. I'll find a way to get your ship refueled. Just try to keep Lotor and yourself out of sight until you're both ready to leave."
"We shall. If we can avoid getting caught, perhaps we can find out just what the old king has up his sleeve."
"That would be a great help to us. Why he hasn't put this plan into motion yet is beyond me. I thought he would jump at the chance to attack us since he thinks Lotor is out of the way now."
"He is as arrogant as he is evil. He probably thinks there's no rush. That, however; may change if he finds out Lotor and I are still alive. You had best go back to him, princess. I will wait here. When you bring him back out I'll take him to the cave. We'll stay there til both of us are in good enough shape to make the journey."
Zarkon sat in his throne room awaiting the surgeon's news. His long fingers drummed impatiently against the arm of his massive throne. The sharp pointed nails tapped insistently against the gold surface. The surgeon appeared and kneeled before the wicked king.
"Sire, wonderful news. The procedure has been a success. Your queen now carries the heir to your throne." He said.
"Excellent. Some good use comes of Haggar's magic after all. Make sure queen Coralle rests comfortably." The king ordered.
"As you wish sire." The surgeon said with a bow and left the throne room.
Before the king had a chance to revel in the good news, a guard entered the throne room and bowed. "Majesty, there is a man and woman from planet Taebos requesting an audiance with you."
"Planet Taebos? Who from that trashy rock would possibly want to talk to me?" Zarkon growled.
"They say their business is urgent sire. Shall I send them away?"
Zarkon thought for a moment, then looked down at the guard. "No. Send them in. Probably wanting women for their brothels. Heh, Lotor won't be needing them anymore."
"As you command majesty."
Having been granted permission, Altus and Sylvana entered Zarkon's throne room and bowed in respect. Zarkon looked down at the two wondering just what buisness they had with the old king.
"Understand I do not usually grant audiances with the likes of you. But I am in a generous mood so I will give you time to speak your piece."
"Great king, forgive us for taking up your valuable time. We've come not to speak so much with you, but to adress a grievance with your son." Altus said nervously.
Zarkon's eyes narrowed and his smile turned into a scowl. "What do you mean you have a grievance with my son?" He asked sternly.
"He has caused a bit of trouble for myself and my associate here. We were in the business of spectacle pit fighting, and he managed to steal our champion and kill quite a few of our men in the process." Altus answered becoming even more nervous.
"When exactly did this happen?" Zarkon asked becoming noticably displeased.
"A few nights ago sire. Our champion was the greatest source of income and..."
"Silence!" Zarkon barked. "My son is dead! He died quite some time ago!"
"My sincerest apologies majesty. I was not aware you were grieving the loss of your heir." Altus said trying to save face...and his neck.
"Grieving? I could care a less that the bastard is dead! And how dare you come here interupting what was a momentus occassion for my queen and myself with such lies!" Zarkon thundered.
"But sire, it is no lie. Your son, Lotor was on Taebos. He fought our champion and defeated him, then helped him escape. We've not been able to find another since Kaladan escaped..."
"KALADAN!" Zarkon roared with rage. "He was supposed to have died years ago!"
"Calm yourself sire. You'll give yourself a heart attack." Altus unwisely suggested.
"Guards!" Zarkon yelled.
"Majesty, what Altus says is true. I heard Kaladan speak Lotor's name as they escaped." Sylvana spoke.
Zarkon's raging eyes suddenly turned to the woman. "You dare speak without my permission you wench! I'll have you both ripped apart!"
Sylvana kneeled with a smirk but kept her eyes upon the raging tyrant. "Forgive my audacity great king. But what Altus speaks is the truth. A young druel with long white hair came to Taebos and fought with Kaladan. His hand to hand combat skills, as well as ability with the blade were unparalleled to any we've ever seen other than Kaladan himself."
Normally Zarkon would have come off his throne and ripped the wenches tongue out himself for such defiance. But at the mention of the druel with white hair, he focused upon her words instead of her demise.
"Woman, you had better be speaking the truth."
"I am sire. I saw it with my own eyes, and heard your son's name called with my own ears. I believe the two would have made their way to Planet Arus. Before I came to Taebos I heard stories of his obsession with the planet's princess, Allura. I have a proposition if your majesty is willing to hear it. I should also let you know sire, that Altus took many of your failed guards and unleashed Kaladan upon them. Also, many of your envoys became the pit's victims as well."
Altus couldn't believe what he'd just heard. "What are you doing? Do you have any idea what he'll do to me knowing this!"
"What happens to you is of no concern to me. You're no longer of any benefit to me."
Zarkon turned his rage from Sylvana onto Altus. "You snibbling little piece of trash! The guards I could care a less about. But my most trusted envoys were lost because of you and that red headed traitor! Guards! Take this scum and see that he is done away with!"
As Altus begged for his life, he was dragged away by the king's guards to meet whatever gruesome fate awaited him. Then Zarkon turned his attentions back to Sylvana. "Let that be an example to you of what happens to anyone who raises my ire. I will give you but a minute to speak, and then decide whether to give you to my guards or just kill you."
"I think you will find it more profitable to keep me alive, sire. I will go to Arus and find out what your son and Kaladan are up to. Then relay to you the information so you may do away with them both once and for all." Sylvana replied with a cold smile.
"And why should I trust you? You stood right by while that fat little scum ball made profit at my expense."
"I met Altus long after Kaladan was in his service."
"And you would sell him out so easily. How do I know you would not do the same to me?" Zarkon demanded.
"I would not be so foolish as to betray the likes of the great king Zarkon. It would be more to my benefit to serve such a powerful ruler. And if you wish to know that your son and Kaladan are dead once and for all, it would be to your benefit to let me lead you to them. They surely both hate you more than the devil himself. And would most likely be planning some sort of terrible revenge against you. I fear it may interfere with your plans to destroy the robot Voltron and crush planet Arus once and for all. Of that, I am sure you will agree."
"As much as I would like to make an example of you for disrupting my time with such news, I must agree. If that son of mine and Kaladan are alive and making plans against me, then they must be dealt with accordingly. I will give you this one chance to prove yourself. You will go to Arus as I am sure Lotor would have found a way to go there to make contact with princess Allura. Spy on them, learn their intentions and then return to planet Doom with what you've learned. But I warn you here and now wench. If you betray or fail me in any way, I will see to it you know suffering beyond all imagination."
"I will not fail you sire. If I may be permitted a vessle to travel to planet Arus, I will leave immediately."
"You will have all that you need. Do...not...fail me." The wicked king warned.