Chapter 15 Lost Truths
Lotor and Kaladan awoke to find they'd been forced to their feet. Surrounded by soldiers of the king, the two prisoners were led from the docking hanger to the throne room. Both exchanged glances knowing the wrath they were about to face. Failure was something Zarkon frowned upon. Treason was something he absolutely abhored. And as far as he was concerned, both men were traitors. And treason warranted the harshest punishment, death. With their hands bound behind them, they walked slowly with the guards occassionally shoving them in the back. If it hadn't been for the restraints, there would have been an ensuing blood bath. Sylvana led the group with the invisibility pendant in her hands. She swung the trinket from its chain nonchalantly as she walked.
While it felt like hours, the walk was only a few moments long. Soon they were in sight of the throne room. At Sylvana's command, the doors swung open and she led the prisoners and her men to the menacing presence of King Zarkon. While the sight of the king would have been more than enough to strike fear in the hearts of most prisoners, Lotor and Kaladan looked on with defiant glares. The king's expression was one of utter hatred. His eyes staring daggers into the two druel prisoners. Sylvana bowed humbly before Zarkon and began to speak.
"Great king, I have brought you the traitors as you commanded." Turning to the prisoners she commanded them to kneel before the king. Both ardently refused.
"On your knees you scum!" She shouted as two guards forced the two upon their knees.
"Excellent. You've done well Sylvana. Tell me, just how did you manage to capture them so quickly?" Zarkon asked.
"The Arusian princess unwittingly led me right to them. They bargained for her life with theirs. It was truly pathetic. It would appear princess Allura has forgiven your son for his transgressions of the past. She ran away crying like the miserable little pidgeon that she is when she realized her dear prince would soon face his death."
"You bitch!" Lotor barked.
"Silence traitor!" A guard barked as he kicked Lotor to the ground. He forced the former prince back up by his hair. The look in Lotor's eyes was nothing but firey spite. If looks could kill, the bodycount would have been staggering. He wasn't the only one with burning anger in his eyes. Kaladan was equally as defiant toward the king. The last time he'd seen Zarkon was before the woman Kaladan loved, Selena was brutally raped to death. His blood boiled with thoughts of vengence and fury. But there was little he could do. The bonds that restrained his hands were tied very tight. They were only loose enough to ensure the blood wasn't cut off from his arms to his wrists.
Zarkon sat on his throne looking down at the prisoners. Coralle sat at his side on a smaller ornate throne. Normally she would have stood beside him. But now that she carried the king's offspring, her every comfort was seen to. Upon her face was a pretty but venomous smile. She rubbed her stomach signifying her protectiveness of the spawn growing inside of her. Haggar stood on the other side of the druel king with a fiendish grin. She would soon unveil her ultimate creation to King Zarkon and his court. She rubbed her hands together in anticipation of the event. Lotor could see the old witch's excitement and knew it did not bode well for any who opposed Zarkon. For a moment, he thought of Allura. The look of fear in her eyes as she fled the cave. But this time, the fear was not of him but for him. He knew he was going to die. And at least now he could die knowing Allura had forgiven him. He could die knowing he had her respect, not her hatred. That was the only comfort he had.
Looking down at his prisoners, Zarkon stood up and walked down the long staircase that led from his throne. His steps became more stern and determined as he got closer to the court floor. He looked at Sylvana with an approving glance.
"You've done very well. Go and take your place beside my queen. You shall be responcible for her safety. Kill all who dare to threaten her." He ordered.
"As you command royal sire." Sylvana said with an evil smile as she ascended the staircase.
Zarkon looked down at Lotor. His generous nature suddenly turned vicious as he struck the young druel with the back of his hand. The blow sent Lotor reeling but somehow he managed to keep on his knees.
"I gave you power. I gave you the right to rule in my name, to conquor and dominate all life beneath you! And this is how you repay me! You betray not only me, but the entire druel empire!" He barked.
"The empire means nothing to me anymore. She is the only thing that matters in my life."
Zarkon snarled knowing that the 'she' Lotor was refering to was Allura.
"Very soon Lotor, you won't have a life. You're going to die, and this time I intend to make sure you don't make any miraculous returns from the dead. I'm going to watch you bleed out like a stuck pig." Zarkon growled.
"Really? Is that how it was when you killed my grandfather!" Lotor roared.
Zarkon stood deathly still and his eyes widened.
"How do you know of such things?"
"You killed him. You waited til his back was turned and you stabbed him through the heart!"
Zarkon grabbed Lotor's hair forcing his head back in a painful angle. "Tell me how you know that you little bastard! Tell me!"
"I saw it in a dream. I saw you run him through with your sword. I heard a man refer to you by your name." Lotor gasped barely able to breathe or swallow.
Zarkon released Lotor from his grip. He gasped and sputtered finally able to breathe again. He looked up with blood running from his mouth. "Who was he father? Who was he, and why do I look like him? And why did you look different now than when you killed him? Halfbloods don't change their form as they age. Why is this different for you?"
Zarkon looked down at Lotor and Kaladan, fury brimming within his aged body. "Stand them up, and take them to the dungeons." The king growled in a dangerous tone.
The prisoners were forced to their feet and turned away from the throne. Zarkon walked past them to be in front of his soldiers. Kaladan looked at Lotor seeing the rage in his face. It was an understandable rage. If there was a way to be found out of this situation, then heads were going to roll. Both druels would see to that.
"I'm glad this old Doom cruiser still works. How long has this thing been sitting on Namoria now?" Avian asked checking the navigational screen.
"A long time. It was the only ship abandoned after the massecre. It's our only hope of getting past planet Doom's security without being noticed. The cloaking device has been updated. Hopefully they won't be asking too many questions about our business here." Genar answered. He looked over at Kezrin. He had a look on his face that was both anticipation and old anger. Genar motioned to his younger cousin.
"Kezrin, we're only there to rescue the king. Your business with Haggar will have to wait til another day. Agreed?"
"I make no promises Genar. I make no promises." The purple haired druel answered sternly.
"Take it easy Kez. We're gonna need your power for the rescue. The old witch can wait." Avian said.
Kezrin said nothing more but gave a gruff sigh of his agreement.
"As far as any of us know, Zarkon won't be expecting a rescue. That should give us some advantage. We'll have to work quickly once we're there." Genar stated.
"Fine by me. I can't wait to put my foot up some doomite ass once we land." Avian said.
"Just so we understand each other Avian, we're doing this to rescue King Danzar. Leena has grown up into a strong, wise young woman, but she is not yet ready to assume the responcibilities of ruling an entire planet. She needs her father to guide her in the ways that we cannot. We can only be her advisors and her guardians. Namoria needs its king." Genar scolded.
"I know that. I'm not as reckless as you think I am Genar. I just like finding a little trouble every now and then." Avian replied.
"That may be, but I'm the one who usually has to come and get you out of it." Genar stated with a sigh.
"Yah, yah." Avian muttered as he looked at the navigation screen again. "We'll be there soon. We're in the outer reaches of the Denubian galaxy now. Doom's not too far off."
"Good. I suggest we all have our weapons with us when we land. Things are likely to get ugly when we set foot on Planet Doom." Genar replied.
"Just the way I like it." Avian said with a smirk.
The long walk to the dungeons was marked by screams of tortured prisoners, men dying of starvation and thirst and women weeping in fear. It was a walk Lotor knew only too well. He once came to the prisons to chose women who would be his slaves. Now he was going to be one of the prisoners. He and Kaladan both would be confined there until they were to be executed. Zarkon led them down the dark, dank corridor lit only by dim and dying torch flames. The smell of mold, rotting food, sweat and other unpleasent odors choked any air that might have passed through. At last they stopped at the cell Zarkon had recently visited. Within the cell was the druel known as Danzar. Once a king himself, he became a prisoner of Zarkon long ago. The door opened and Zarkon stood to the side of the entrance. He smiled cruely as he looked into the dimly lit cell.
"I've brought you some company to help you pass your last hours of life." He growled as Lotor and Kaladan were shoved into the cell. The guards unbound their hands and then shackled them in the front. They would be able to move a little more freely, but still unable to put up much of a struggle.
Danzar's eyes widened when he saw Lotor standing before him. Lotor in turn was equally as shocked to see the man he'd recalled in his dream. Both looked at each other for a moment before turning to Zarkon.
"Lotor, you're alive." Danzar gasped.
"How does he know my name?" Lotor asked.
"Tell him Zarkon. Tell him the truth. He deserves to know." Danzar growled.
"What truth? What's going on?" The former prince demanded.
"Say hello to your father, Lotor." Zarkon said coldly as he stood at the door.
The shock felt like ten bolts of lightening had struck him all at once. Lotor felt his knees go weak and his blood turn cold. The light blue color momentarily drained from his face leaving it a paler hue. He stumbled backwards and fell back against the wall. Kaladan rushed to Lotor's side to keep him from injuring himself as he fell back. Lotor's eyes were wide as saucers, and his mouth was tightly shut with his teeth showing. Zarkon saw the expression on Lotor's face and relished in the shock he must have felt.
"Tell him all of it brother. Tell him how you destroyed our entire family. Tell him how you killed our father for the sake of your greed!" Danzar shouted.
"I'll let you have that honor... brother. It will give the three of you a way to pass the last hours of your pathetic lives. Tomorrow, the three of you will die." The king of Doom warned before leaving the dungeons.
While the sentries stood outside to guard the prisoners, Lotor, Kaladan and Danzar were left in their cell. "He was never my father?" Lotor asked over and over still in a state of shock.
"Lotor...my son," Danzar began. "It is true. Zarkon stole you from me after you were born and raised you as his son. I know you must be very confused and have many questions. There is a great deal you were never told. There are so many things about your family you need to know. I only wish I could have saved you from him sooner. Now you have suffered because of my failure."
"Then it's true. Zarkon killed my grandfather. I saw it in my dream. I saw my grandfather. He looked, I looked almost like him." Lotor said trying to snap himself back into reality.
"You dreamed of your grandfather's death? Then the prophecy is coming true."
"What prophecy?" Lotor asked.
"To answer that you must know who your grandfather was. You must know about the family Zarkon stole you from. Even if these are to be our final hours, you should at least know the truth."
"Lotor, remember what you told me when you met with the princess. The spirit of her father came and said there were things you didn't know about your past." Kaladan interjected.
Danzar looked at the red haired druel beside Lotor. "Who are you?" He asked.
"Kaladan. I was once a high commander in Zarkon's armies. I renounced him and his empire after seeing the cruelty he perpetrated upon defeated civilizations. He killed the woman I loved and left me for dead upon planet Taebos. I became a pit fighter for several years. Not long ago I met Lotor and together we escaped planet Taebos. We fled to planet Arus to warn princess Allura of Zarkon's plans to attack her people. She would have been taken prisoner with us if we hadn't bartered for her life with ours." Kaladan answered.
Lotor shook his head trying to regain his senses. He looked at Danzar. "Who was my grandfather?" He asked.
"He was a servant of the empire. He was charged with capturing several territories to expand the power of the Druel Empire. But like Kaladan, he saw suffering amongst the people of defeated planets. At first he tried to turn a blind eye to it as he'd been taught that to be merciful was to show weakness. He was told he was serving the needs of his empire and his people. He believed at first it was all for the benifit and survival of the druel race. He tried to make himself hard to the suffering of others, while deep down he disapproved of their treatment. He saw men of all ages forced to do backbreaking labor without little food or water. Children were forced to live in squallor while women were forced to serve the soldiers in every possible way. Many young girls lost their virtue long before they were ready. The men under his command were little more than animals. Many were half breeds like him. Many were far less removed from their pure blood druel parents. He saw children violently tortured, women being raped, and men being worked to death. The more he tried to turn a blind eye, the more the memories of the horror's he'd witnessed haunted him. Until at last he could no longer ignore the suffering of those people." Danzar paused for a moment taking a breath and then continued his story.
"It was not only defeated peoples who suffered, but the druels themselves suffered as well. Many battles were violent and bloody, and many young druel soldiers died brutal deaths. Those deaths haunted your grandfather. But it didn't matter to the empire's elite. Pure bloods often did not do battle themselves, but rather let the halfbreeds fight their battles for them. They were seen as expendable and abundant. It was something your grandfather could no longer accept. He could not ignore the burden on his conciousness any longer. And he was not the only one who felt that way. There were many who felt the same way. They decided that the bloodshed had to stop. Too many lives, both druel and those of other worlds were being wasted for petty greed." He finished.
"What was his name?" Lotor asked.
"Your grandfather's name was Keltor. He turned against the tyrany of the empire and began fighting against the powers that had charged him with expanding the territories. Most saw him as a traitor to his empire, but there were also many who sided with him and his beliefs. They fought along side of him to flee the empire. One of those who shared his belief would later become his bride. A young druel noblewoman named Loeena fell in love with Keltor. He had also fallen in love with her. She was one of the few noblewomen who displayed kindness and compassion toward the defeated prisoners. But any kindness she displayed toward them was sternly frowned upon by her family and those who believed as the empire believed. Her parents forbid her to have any contact at all with Keltor, but she loved him too much to leave his side. The night he came to take her away, her sister Namora kept watch while she snuck out of her home. Her family found out what had happened and demanded to know where Loeena and Keltor had fled to. She refused to give up their location, and so her family forced her before the emperor. She was condemned as a traitor and executed by her own family." Danzar explained.
"How can a family condemn their own child to death for doing something honorable?" Kaladan asked.
"Fear of their own lives. If they helped Namora then they would themselves be rounded up and executed. So they turned over their own daughter as a traitor. She became the sacrificial lamb for her family. It was only through news spread through the empire that Keltor and Loeena learned of Namora's death. The particulars of her demise were never known, but it was known she would have died an agonizing death. There was no distinction made between men and women when it came to executions, and in some cases the women suffered more horribly than the men." Danzar said.
"What about the dream I had? Can you tell me about that? Why did Zarkon look different in the dream than he does now?" The questions were swirling in Lotor's mind quicker than he could ask them.
"You saw an image of the palace on your true home world, Namoria. Keltor and Loeena led those who chose to come with them away from the empire. They found a planet on the fringes of the Denubian galaxy. It could support life and sustain the refugees who fled from the empire. With time and effort, the planet became our home. After the royal palace was built, a shrine was placed in the garden in memory of Namora. It was through her sacrifice that those druels who chose a different way of life could have that life. Keltor named the world Namoria. He wanted to live a life free of war and conquest. And those who wished to live in peace were welcomed on Namoria. The population was primarily druel halfbreeds, but there were those of other civilizations wanting a better way of life as well. Those who wished to live in peace were welcomed on Namoria. Even a human from Earth who found himself crashlanding on our homeworld was welcomed. One of Keltor's daughters became close to him, and he married her with her father's blessing." Danzar explained.
"All of Keltor's children were raised to live in peace and exist beside those of other races without agression. Unfortunately, one of those children did not favor our father's beliefs. And that child was your uncle, my older brother Zarkon." Danzar continued.
"That's what he meant. That's what Alfor meant when he said the key to my past lies in the dungeons of castle Doom. He was talking about you. It's still hard for me to believe that you're my father, and Zarkon is my uncle. It's hard for me to believe anything you're telling me, but I know you're speaking the truth." Lotor said shaking his head.
"Yes. It's all true. And that leads me to the dream you spoke of. Zarkon heard stories from elder refugees about how powerful the druel empire was. He heard stories of domination and conquest. But when he approached his father, Keltor discouraged any talk of those days. Deep down, he had not yet reconciled with his past. Everytime Zarkon insisted upon hearing about the empire, he and Keltor got into very heated arguments about the subject. Keltor thought by repressing his past he would protect his family from it. But repression is exactly what drove Zarkon to believe as he did. He didn't want a peaceful, simple life. He wanted the power and supremecy the empire offered. And he wanted to start by making Namoria part of the empire. That was something Keltor and the others would never allow. He went so far as to tell Zarkon if he wished to be a part of the empire, he would do it alone." Danzar elaborated.
"And that led to a showdown for the crown." Lotor stated.
"Exactly. Though Keltor did everything he could to avoid it, Zarkon would not let it rest. He stated that Keltor and those who followed him tainted the empire with weakness. That halfbloods tainted the empire. He believed the only way they could ever have favor with the empire again was to serve the emporor. Keltor refused and said Namoria would never join the empire. It was then Zarkon challenged him for control of the Namorian throne. All knew that a fight between father and son would only bring unrest to the people, but it was a fight that could not be avoided. Zarkon would not rest until he had what he wanted. Keltor finally agreed to dual him. If he lost, then Zarkon would win the throne. But if Zarkon lost, then he would forever lay down his desire for power within the empire. That or he would leave Namoria and never return."
Danzar paused again to take in a deep breath before continuing his story. "Keltor and Zarkon dualed. Keltor was a master swordsman. From what I have heard you have inherited many of his skills with the blade. Zarkon was fair with the blade, but let much of his skill be wasted upon his frustration and anger. It did not take long for Keltor to defeat Zarkon and retain the crown. But Zarkon would not accept defeat. He waited until his father let his guard down and then attacked. The wound was severe and soon our father died. But before he drew his last breath, he spoke of a prophecy that struck fear into the heart of my brother. He said one of his blood would come foward to carry his spirit into battle against the empire. That was the prophecy he left with his dying breath." Danzar said.
"It was after that I challenged Zarkon for control of the throne. He had murdered our father, and by our laws he could not claim the crown. He saw my challenge as a waste of time, but simply for sport would humor me."
"Who won that dual?" Lotor asked.
"I did. While my skills were not as good as my father's, I had a better handle on my emotions despite the fact my older brother had just murdered my father. And this time I made sure Zarkon made no sneak attacks. The moment he lost his sword and went down I had palace guards restrain him. I admit I wanted to kill him. He murdered our father, Namoria's king. But more bloodshed was what my father wanted to avoid. So instead I banished Zarkon from Namoria. He spat nothing but venom and hatred toward our whole family. He swore he would have revenge. After he was taken from Namoria I had a forceshield created to keep our world safe. I knew my brother would be bitter, but I could not have imagined the depths he would stoop to in order to gain his revenge." Danzar answered.
Drawing another breath he continued. "It was several years before I would know what had happened to my older brother. For those years he did not bother us. We mourned the loss of our father and continued on with life as he would have wanted us to. For my mother however, those years were frought only with grief and despair. She never recovered from Keltor's death. Eventually she died of a broken heart and joined her husband in the spirit realm. It was a hard time for those of us who remained. But seeing as I was king, I had to carry on our father's legacy. None of us wanted nor could allow it to die. It was all we had left of him. I married a young druel woman named Amia. I had hoped that Zarkon would never bother our family again. I was wrong. I was terribly wrong." Danzar stopped. He tried to fight the tears he'd held back for so many years.
"Amia had just given birth to you my son. But you were not the only child born to me. Amia also bore a baby girl. That girl is your twin sister, Leena."
"I have a sister?"
"Yes. But because of what your uncle did you were never able to meet or grow up with her. It had not been long after your birth when Zarkon found a way to break through the force sheild's defenses. The shield was a creation of technology. And Zarkon used a servant of the black arts to find a way onto Namorian soil. She was a witch who used the darkest of magic to gain entrance into the palace. She was a beautiful woman, but her beauty was only a veil for her evil. She appeared suddenly in the nursery where you and Leena were being observed and picked you up from your crib. A nurse saw what was happening and demanded to know what the woman was doing. She laughed the most evil ever heard from a woman's lips. Then she vanished. She vanished with you in her arms. She tried to take Leena as well but the nurse caught her before she could finish the deed. Then I heard a voice over the speakers on the castle control center. A voice I knew all too well, but that voice had changed. It was much harsher than I remembered. There was a rasp to it I never remembered before. Then his face was on the view screen. There beside him stood the witch with you in her arms. The witch was adressed as Haggar. And it was Zarkon, my own brother who bid her to steal you from your crib. It was my brother, but it wasn't my brother. His appearence had drastically changed. He had the appearence of a pure blood druel. He looked less human and more like a grotesque monster. He told me I would never see you again."
At last the tears finally came, but Danzar did not sob. The tears were silen, and his expression was one of regret and saddness. Lotor watched solemly as those tears fell to the grimy stone floor. Everything Zarkon had ever taught him, ever told him was all a lie. Every bit of it was a lie. Now he understood why there was no true relationship between them as father and son. Zarkon had never been his father. His father was sitting with him in a prison cell. While there was still a glimmer of hope that reigned within Danzar, his spirit had been all but broken.
"I can't believe what he did. I never imagined it was even possible, but Zarkon had the witch Haggar perform a ritual that purged every ounce of human blood out of him. He effectively killed the human side of himself. He was no longer a half blood. He's been pure druel from that day. But more than that, it brought to light the evil that lived within him. Inside he was a monster, and now the outside matches it."
"No more...please no more. I...I don't think I can stand to hear anymore right now." Lotor pleaded. It was all too much for him to take in at once. All of it so much and so fast, he felt as if his head would explode. And he knew that there was much more to be learned. He never imagined that Alfor's words would lead him to the shocking truths he discovered. The problem was, he might not live long enough to know the many other secrets of his past.