Chapter 17 Homecoming
Leena stood in the control center both excited and suprised at what she'd heard. "I have a brother?" She asked in a stunned tone.
"It's a long story Leena, but it's true. You have a twin brother named Lotor. When we arrive at the castle I'll explain everything." Danzar answered.
"I'm just glad you're all right father. I'm just glad you're all safe." Leena said clutching her hand to her chest. The excitement was almost too much for the young druel princess to withstand.
Zarkon was rushed to the operating room after several guards dragged him from the skybox of the arena. His wounds were serious and the pain overwhelming. The old king howled in pain as the surgeons attempted to restrain him. They managed to cut away his royal robes and uniform. Blood flowed from the hole in his shoulder and the severe laceration across his right eye. The golden cat like orb was now bloodied and torn. The surgeons quickly injected a strong sedative into the king's arm. Within minutes the flailing and howling stopped and Zarkon was silent for the moment. Now under control, the surgeons began to examine the king's wounds. While there was hope for his shoulder, the slashed right eye was beyond repair. They looked at each other knowing what had to be done. After an i.v. was administered, the surgeons began to operate to repair the wounds of their king.
Haggar was in her private chamber looking upon her crystal ball. She gazed deep into the smokey grey orb. Chanting in a strange language, the crystal began to glow. She saw images of the events of the day unfolding. The crystal was one of the old witches creations designed to capture memories from whomever gazed into it. She saw the escape of Zarkon's prisoners and the three who helped them flee. She frowned seeing the image of Kezrin flash upon the sphererical surface.
"So, you somehow found the strength to survive. You have more power than I had imagined. Next time, that power shall be mine." She said in a low gutteral tone.
She continued to watch the images play out to their conclusion. She focused upon the voices of the three druels who rescued Danzar, Lotor and Kaladan.
"My name is Genar. I and my two cousins are descendents of your father Keltor. We've come to save you and bring you back to Namoria."
"Survivors of the massecre..." Haggar said to herself. "It makes no difference. Soon the dragon of Azrinos will be unleashed upon them all."
"There she is...home sweet home." Avian said seeing the image of planet Namoria growing bigger on the view screen.
"This, this is my home." Lotor said looking at the screen.
"Yes son, this is where you were born. While Zarkon may have ravaged it once, its outer beauty is realitively unscaved. Fortunately he saw fit not to attack our home any further after kidnapping me and having the royal family killed." Danzar said.
"We'll be landing soon." Genar said.
"How has Leena been since my absence?" Danzar asked.
"You'd be proud of her sire. She's grown into a fine young woman. Avian, Kezrin and I have watched over her in your stead. She'll be very happy to see you again. Everyone will be glad to know their king is coming home." Genar answered.
"You three have grown into strong young men since I last saw you." Danzar commented.
"Many of your subjects stepped up to help raise us. Since our parents had been killed, there was no one left in the castle to see to our upbringing." Genar replied.
"I'm sorry I wasn't there. I feel like I failed you all." Danzar said lowering his head.
"You did what you had to do majesty. None of us hold it against you." Genar said.
"I'll be glad when we get home. I can't wait to get this garbage off my face." Avian grumbled.
Lotor looked at the black haired druel with a confused glance.
"He's wearing artificial stain. If he'd gone in with his true color, he'd have stuck out like a sore thumb. Unfortunately there are those even among Namoria's inhabitants who look down on him because of his heritage. He's not a typical hybrid." Genar said.
"Avian isn't like the rest of us son." Danzar interjected. "His mother was a druel hybrid, but his father was from Earth. Unlike us, he doesn't have the characteristic blue skin. While Avian inherited the eyes and ears of his mother, he got his skin and hair color from his father."
"Mut." Avian growled.
"That's the insult that most who look down on him use. He's gotten himself into a lot of trouble because of all the flack he has to deal with." Genar replied.
"There will be no more such treatment once I return. He is a grandson of Keltor no matter what he looks like. My father would never have stood for such intolerance." Danzar said firmly. He then turned to Kaladan.
"While you are not blood related, you are welcome on Namoria, Kaladan. You helped bring my son back to me. For that I am forever greatful. You may consider Namoria your home for as long as you wish."
"Thank you. It's been a long time since I've had anywhere to call home other than a blood stained pit." Kaladan replied.
"Kezrin, you all right back there?" Avian asked.
"I'll live." Kezrin sighed.
"We'll have the rejuvination chamber ready when we land. You need a few hours to regain your strength. After that, you're to take it easy, undestood?" Genar said firmly.
"Yah." Kezrin replied with a tired breath.
"Father, what is the challenge I must face in order to claim my grandfather's spirit?" Lotor asked.
"In order to reconcile your past Lotor, you must face it. You must face yourself and all the darkness that hovers over you. Then and only then can you know the meaning of your destiny." Danzar answered.
"And if I do pass this test, what then?"
"Then we go to planet Arus. You and Allura have began healing the wounds between the two of you, and in that we may be able to heal the wounds between our families. There may yet be hope for an alliance between Arus and Namoria." Danzar replied.
"That may be easier said than done. Allura may be open to the idea of marriage now, but her friends will most certainly be against it. Not that I can blame them for feeling that way. All they ever wanted was to protect her. I always saw them as rivals." Lotor said.
"We will find a way son. Things are different now. Have faith. It is one of the most powerful allies one can have." Danzar replied.
"We're approaching the landing zone. I'll have us docked soon." Avian said preparing to land the cruiser.
The hatch to the hanger slowly began to open. Little by little the cruiser began to descend and enter the hanger. There in the distance of the docking bay stood princess Leena. She shook with excitement and anticipation as she waited for the vessle to land. She watched as the cruiser finally touched the floor and shut off. Then the hatch opened and the occupants began to emerge. First was Avian, then Genar helping steady Kezrin as he walked. Then Danzar stepped off the cruiser followed by Lotor and Kaladan. Leena, no longer to contain her emotions ran toward her father with tears streaming down her cheeks. She picked up the edges of her long, purple gown as she ran. Her ankle length silver cape flowed outward like a flag in the wind as she hurried toward Danzar. She immediately wrapped her arms around him.
"Father! Father you're home! You're finally home!" She exclaimed.
"Yes my daughter, I'm finally home." Danzar said trying to choke back his own tears. "Leena, my little girl, you've grown into a beautiful young woman. Your cousins say you've become a fine princess."
"I knew you would make it back father. I'm so glad you're all right. I've dreamed of this day for so long." Leena sobbed.
"It's all right now Leena. I'm home now." Danzar said trying to comfort his daughter. He looked behind him motioning for Lotor to come close.
"Leena, this is your twin brother Lotor." He continued.
Brother and sister gazed upon each other for the first time. They were near mirror images of each other with the exception of gender. With the exception that Leena was a woman, she resembled Lotor in every other way. Her skin was sky blue with gold catlike eyes and pointed ears. And the most notable feature was the long, flowing mane of snow white hair. It was just a bit longer than Lotor's going to her upper thighs. The two studied each other for a moment noting the similarities and the differences. She was a bit smaller and leaner than he was. He was taller and far more muscular. But no matter the differences in gender and body type, the two felt like they were looking at mirror images of themselves.
"Brother?" She asked with an almost curious tone.
"Yes. I'm your twin brother." Lotor said trying to sound reassuring.
"And this is Kaladan. He is a friend and allie. He helped reunite your brother and I." Danzar said.
Without another moment's hesitation, Leena let go of her father and embraced her brother. Lotor was a little suprised by the move, but after a second, he embraced his sister accepting her welcoming hug. Danzar, Leena, Lotor and his cousins all stood together as a family for the first time. They all looked at each other and motioned for Kaladan to stand with them. While he was not blood related, he had been warmly welcomed into the family. In the midsts of the reverly, Kezrin began to feel faint. His knees began to shake as Genar held him up.
"Come on. Let's get you into the rejuvination chamber." Genar said.
"Is Kezrin all right?" Leena asked with concern.
"He'll be fine. He had to use his powers in battle, so he's feeling a bit drained." Genar answered.
"Come on son. I'll have a room made ready for you." Danzar said ushering Lotor and the others into the castle.
They walked from the hanger into the main part of the palace. Walking down a long hall that led to castle interior, Lotor looked at the portraits of what he assumed to be the royal family. Seven portraits of the elder children hung upon the walls while smaller portraits of grandchildren were just a few inches below the elders. His eyes widened when he saw two large portraits at the end of the hall. One was of a woman with brilliant silver hair. The other was what Lotor could have sworn to be a portrait of himself later in life. Danzar noticed the expression upon his son's face.
"Grandfather." Lotor said in an astonished voice.
"Yes my son. That is Keltor. Beside him is his queen and your grandmother, Loeena." Danzar replied.
Lotor studied the portrait intensely. He saw the unmistakable resemblence between himself and his grandfather. A mane of white cascaded down his shoulders, though it stopped at the middle of his back. Lotor's went well to his waist. He looked to be in his mid fourties but looked no less handsome. He wore a deep blue brocaded jacket trimmed in brilliant silver. His long bangs parted and lifted slightly upward framing his face. The young prince wondered if this was what he would look like when he reached middle age.
"Are all these pictures of his children?" The young prince asked.
"Yes. The elder children are your aunts and uncles. Keltor had five sons and two daughters. So there were many grandchildren when they grew up." Danzar answered. His face grew sad upon the statement.
"There would have been many many grandchildren and great grandchildren had they all lived. After the massacre, all but you sister, three cousins and myself were wiped out. We are all that remains of Keltor's line."
"There were so many of them." Lotor said in a silent tone.
"It is up to us to see that their deaths were not in vain, son. But for now you should rest. Leena, take Lotor to his room so he can get settled in for the night."
"All right. Come with me brother." Leena said leading Lotor from the portrait hall.
"I think we all should get some rest now. We're going to have a lot to do in the coming days." Genar interjected as he led Kezrin to his chambers.
"I agree. We will have a great many things to do starting tomorrow." Danzar said as he led Kaladan to a room where he could get some rest.
The next morning Lotor awoke feeling as he'd slept for years. He rubbed his aching shoulders and then his face as he moved to sit up in his bed. Pushing the covers back he shifted his legs so that his feet were on the floor. He slowly stood up pushing his hair from his face. Walking over to the window he looked out upon the newly rising sun. He saw a few puffy clouds surrounding the blindingly bright sphere. The sky was an explosion of sapphire blue and purple with hints of red and orange. While it was not the first sunrise he'd ever seen, it was possibly the most spectacular. Looking down he saw a sea of green grass and towering trees bearing brilliantly colored fruit. The emerald landscape was dotted by purple, red and bright blue flowers.
Turning away from the window, Lotor walked toward the ornate wardrobe and opened its doors. He looked at the several pairs of pants and shirts hanging neatly within it. After a few minutes he got dressed and inspected himself in the mirror. He chose a pair of royal blue pants and a sleeveless deep silver tunic. After putting on a knee length pair of black boots he fixed his hair. Braiding two sections of his bangs he pulled them to either side of his head and bound them with a silver chord letting the unbraided section fall loosely to blend in with the rest of his snow white mane.
As he left his room he heard footsteps hurrying toward him. "Good morning brother!" Leena called as she rushed toward him.
"Good morning Leena." He replied softly.
"Father is waiting for us in the dining hall. Breakfast will be ready in a few minutes. You must be starving." Leena said grabbing Lotor's hand and hurrying him along side her.
"Let's eat so I can show you the castle!" She said pulling him with her as she dashed to the dining hall.
"She's lively." The young prince thought as he fought to keep up with his sister.
The two joined Danzar and the others in the dining hall as breakfast was being served. The room was filled with the smell of freshly baked breads and jams. There was also a platter full of fruit and berries. They all sat down and began to eat.
"Are you feeling any better today Kezrin?" Leena asked.
"Yah. Would have been nice if I'd actually gotten a hit in on that old witch." Kezrin grumbled.
"They'll be time for that soon enough Kezrin." Genar replied.
"Don't worry Kez. Next time you can kick her...."
"Avian." Genar growled sternly. "I don't say anything about your language in battle, but we're not in battle. We're in the presence of our king and his heirs. Watch what you say here."
"Did you sleep well son?" Danzar asked.
"Yes. Best sleep I've had in very long time. To be honest I don't think I've ever slept that well, at least not when I was sober anyway." Lotor answered.
"Genar, how is Nomey? Is she all right?" Leena inquired.
"She's sleeping. The miscarriage was hard on her, and it may take her a little while to recover emotionally." Genar answered.
"Nomey?" Lotor asked a bit confused.
"She's my wife. We've been trying to have children, and so far things haven't gone very well." Genar answered.
"Maybe it's just not time for her to have children yet. It is an uneasy time we live in right now. Just because there's been no threat to Namoria for a while doesn't mean we're safe." Leena remarked.
"I fear there may be a threat to Namoria now. Zarkon will not be happy when he recovers from the injuries he received. And now that he most likely knows heirs of my father have survived, he will seek to wipe us out entirely." Danzar said in a serious tone.
"And now he may have the means to do it." Kaladan said entering the conversation.
"What is he planning?" Leena asked.
"Haggar has unveiled her latest monstrocity, and this one may pose the most serious threat the galaxy has ever faced. She had a terrible monster brought to planet Doom from the planet of Azrinos. She called it the dragon of Azrinos." Lotor answered.
"We saw it first hand. The beast was covered in some kind of mettalic grey armor. I don't know if the armor is natural or something of Haggar's design. But I know it will be trouble for all of us, even my brother though he's too foolish to realize that." Danzar said.
"I've heard stories about this monster. The thing is wild, perhaps too wild for even Haggar to control. It's said the beast's power is so great those who first summoned it from the abyss could not control it. An entire planet was laid to waist by the thing. I've no knowledge to how the dragon was sealed. Haggar, with all her dark magic found a way to awaken it." Kaladan explained.
"She's most likely made this armor to strengthen the beast, as if it needed any help. It's going to be a formidable foe. But that's not all my uncle has in mind for the attack against Arus and Voltron. He's been moving the territories within the Druel empire to align together with him. He's going to make sure all who stand in his way are swept into oblivion." Lotor added.
"That is why we must know if you are the chosen heir. I know you've already been through so much, but we must know tonight. Do you think you're up to it son?" Danzar asked.
"I will be tonight." Lotor answered.
"Father, after we're done eating I'd like to show Lotor around the castle." Leena said.
"That would be a good idea. There will be much to be done after today, and there won't be time." Danzar replied.
As the morning went on everyone finished eating and then went about their daily activities knowing the following days would force a break in their routines. Avian left for the hanger to work on the old druel fighter. Kezrin went back to his chambers to have time to himself as he often did. Genar went to check on Nomey and then on to his daily meditations. Danzar also took Kaladan on a tour of the castle along with Leena and Lotor.
The first place the four stopped was in the palace garden. Leena waved her hand against the seemingly inpenatrable wall and stood back as it dissapeared. She led her brother, father and Kaladan into the garden. It teamed with lush plants and exotic species of flowers. The room was half the size of the dining hall, which in its own right was quite spacious. The ground was covered in deep emerald green grass and soft moss. There were small bushes in colors of red, purple and a firey golden orange. The flowers bloomed in various shades of purple, pink and blue with an occassional sprig of red and yellow. The room itself was circular with the plants growing in a way to accentuate the shape. Perfectly cut squares of marble like stone accented the walk ways into the garden. But Lotor's eyes went right to the center piece of the room. Surrounded by a crystal clear pond was a statue of a woman sitting on a bed of moss and small blue and purple blossoms. She was positioned on her side with her legs loosely bent beside her. In her hands she gently held a delicate blossom cut from fine crystal. It was in the shape of a fully bloomed Earth rose. While the material itself had no color, when the sun struck it brilliant hues of red, purple, yellow and orange seemed to surge from the object.
The body was carved out of blue stone signalling she was of druel origin. Her face was serene as she gazed upon the crystal flower. The eyes were made of amber and black colored glass. It amazed Lotor how life like they appeared. Lavender colored hair cascaded down her shoulders all the way to her waist. A beautiful sheer fabric draped her body in the form of a simple but elegant shroud like dress. While the fabric was sheer, it was layered in a way to show her feminity while covering it at the same time. At the center of the statue upon the moss covered ground was a small plaque.
"This was your great aunt Namora. It was her sacrifice that allowed Keltor and those who fled with him to settle upon this planet. He had this garden made to honor her memory and her sacrifice. I'm glad to see that it has survived all these years." Danzar said with a solom expression.
The four walked up to the small shrine and looked at the water. Exotic fish swam in the pond. They were brilliantly colored and swam calmly in their aquatic domaine. They had long fins that almost seemed to sway like hair as the fish moved. They were almost serpentine in a way looking like tiny colored dragons. Unlike the terrifying beast of Haggar, these little creatures were harmless and had a calming affect upon those who watched them.
Kaladan looked with a fascinated expression to see tiny colored stalagtites growing upward just a few inches from the water's surface. The little fish would often swim by them and take tiny nibbles from the objects.
"That's their food. It's also what gives them their vibrant color. They're only found here on Namoria. Genar found them many years ago and brought some to the palace. We placed them here in the garden. He also brought the crystals that they live off of and started growing them here in the garden. As long as nothing toxic is placed in the water, the crystals continue to replenish themselves year after year as do the fish. I often come here and watch them for hours." Leena explained.
The four continued their tour of the castle with Leena as their guide. They would enjoy what tranquility they had for the moment. The coming days would be anything but tranquil. The one who needed the distraction the most was Lotor. That night he would undertake the challenge to reconcile his past and prove he was the heir chosen to carry Keltor's spirit. And while they all enjoyed the chance to get aquainted with each other, they knew a storm would soon be brewing. Zarkon was injured, but he would not be down for long. And his wrath would be terrible and without pity.