Chapter 22 Explanations
Allura was faced with the sea of shocked expressions in front of her. She couldn't believe what she'd just blurted out. It had not been her intention to just yell it out to her friends. She'd wanted to tell them in a calm and collective manner. But with her outburst, that had just gone out the window. For several moments there was nothing but stunned silence. No one could quite believe what Allura had just said.
"Princess, surely I did not hear what I thought I heard." Coran said trying to keep his wits about him.
Allura was scrambling for an explaination. Her friends were still looking wide eyed and shocked with their mouths hanging open. "Why did I blurt it out like that?" She admonished herself mentally.
"Allura, was I hearing things or did you just say it was Lotor who rescued you?" Keith asked in a stunned tone.
Allura looked down for a moment. As Lance would have put it, the cat was out of the bag now. "Yes. You heard correctly." She answered.
"Princess, that's impossible. Lotor's dead." Pidge stated.
"No, he isn't. He's alive." Allura replied nervously wringing her sweaty hands.
"But the news arrived from Doom. Zarkon himself proclaimed Lotor was dead. He even saw his body as proof." Coran said.
"He faked his death. Please, please you all have to listen to me before you jump to any conclusions. There are a great many things that have happened since the last time Lotor and I confronted each other." Allura began.
"Oh you mean when he terrorized you and tried to kidnap you. You told us he almost crushed your wrists with his bare hands." Lance interjected.
"You don't understand. He didn't mean to hurt me. He never meant to hurt me. Yes the things he did were wrong, but he...he's changed." Allura explained.
"What do you mean he's changed? A monster like him isn't capable of changing." Keith retorted.
"Yes, he is. I know because...because he came and visited me in my room. He was a very different man from the one I'd previously known."
"IN YOUR ROOM!" Nanny exclaimed.
"Nanny, calm down!" Coran shouted.
"Please, please stop shouting! Let me explain everything!" Allura protested.
"Young lady, you have certainly got a lot of explaining to do. How in the world did Lotor get into your room and why did we not detect his presense?" Coran asked sternly.
"Because after his escape he had an amulet that allowed him to become invisible. Please, everyone calm down and I'll tell you everything." Allura said trying to keep her own composure even as everyone else felt like losing theirs.
"All right, let's hear it princess." Keith said with a skeptical tone.
"It all started not long after you told me Lotor was dead. I admit I'd been agonizing over his death when I thought that he had died. I know I shouldn't have mourned over him when he caused me so much grief. You see, the night he confronted me before his supposed death he told me that... he loved me."
"That's a laugh. Lotor wouldn't know what love was if it smacked him in the face." Lance replied with a sarcastic tone.
"You didn't seriously believe him did you?" Keith asked.
"At first, no I didn't. But I've found myself questioning that doubt. He had so many chances to kill me, so many chances to claim victory for his father at the cost of my life. However; he could never bring himself to do it. He couldn't bare to see me harmed. Not because I was a conquest to him. Yes, that's how it started. But as time went on he became as enamored with my spirit as much as my beauty. And the night when he secretly visited me, I learned of the events that brought him to see me again." Allura answered.
"I cannot hear this! I will not hear of this nonsense!" Nanny yelled.
"Nanny! Hold your tongue!" Coran snapped with authority.
She was taken aback in a way she'd never felt before. Coran had never bothered to raise his voice to her in such a manner before. Normally she would have voiced her offense at such a tone coming from him. But she found she could do nothing but stand in stunned silence. She could only scowl and look away.
"Go on." Coran said in a calmer voice.
"You see, Zarkon had Lotor exiled to the slave planet Carnos. That's why the king took a new bride. He thought that Lotor would never survive being a slave. And he almost didn't. He learned what it was to have everything he valued in his life taken away from him. He was forced to wear a slave's clothes, eat a slave's food, and work beyond reasonable limits. He was beaten and tortured." Allura began.
"More than the bastard deserves." Keith growled.
"Look, I'll not have any of you berate him when he's not here to defend himself! Is that understood?" Allura snapped.
"How can you defend him? After everything he did to you Allura! He hurt you! He threatened your people! He used your feelings for us against you! He forced himself upon your own cousin!" Sven barked.
"Because he's changed! Seeing how the other half lived made Lotor really take a good long look at himself. He realized the life he was living was wrong. No, he can't make up for all the terrible things he's done. But he's grown up. He learned a lot about sacrifice and looking to the needs of others as opposed to only caring about his own desires. He told me about his experiences on Carnos and how they changed his perspective on life. Even when he came to visit me his primary objective was to warn me about Zarkon's plans to attack us. At first I didn't believe his intentions were noble. But when I saw him...how battered, bruised and utterly broken he was,"
Allura paused for a moment trying to hold back her frustrated tears. She had known to expect the skepticism from her friends, but it still hurt none the less. "He faked his death to escape Carnos but ended up on a planet called Taebos." She said.
"Taebos? That's the worse planet a man can end up on. It's a den of perversion and corruption." Coran replied.
"Sounds like he'd be right at home then." Lance scoffed.
"It was there he met another druel named Kaladan. He used to be a pit fighter entertaining the masses with blood sport. They fought each other and then escaped Taebos together."
"You mean Lotor and one of his kin were both on Arus? And you never thought to tell us any of this?" Coran asked.
"Would you have believed me?" Allura questioned back.
Again there was silence and Allura continued her story. "Kaladan is also a druel who has turned his back upon Zarkon. Yes, his reasons are rooted in revenge, but he is a noble and honorable man. The woman he loved was captured by Zarkon and murdered. Much of his victims in the pit were druels themselves. A woman named Alma told Lotor that he was the one who could defeat Kaladan and free him from the pit. After they fought Lotor did just that. But the people were screaming for blood. They wanted to see death. Lotor refused to kill Kaladan. If Lotor hadn't changed, he'd have killed Kaladan without a second thought. Afterwards they both escaped Taebos they came here to Arus. They'd been staying for several days until a woman named Sylvana was sent by Zarkon. I...I went to see them several times. That's why I would break away from Keith and the others. That's why I went riding by myself the day I was almost kidnapped. I was going to see Lotor and Kaladan."
Everyone thought for sure Allura had lost her mind. None could believe a word of what they were hearing. "Allura, have you gone completely insane?" Coran demanded.
"No, I haven't. There's something else I haven't told you. The night Lotor visited me after his escape, my father's spirit came to us both." Allura said.
"Your father's spirit? Why in the world,"
"Because he told us things we needed to know. He holds no ill will against Lotor. He has forgiven him for the past, and so have I." Allura interrupted.
"Your father would be rolling in his grave to hear of your behavior. You are in a great deal of trouble young lady." Nanny scowled.
"My father said that my life and that of Lotor are intertwined. He told Lotor that there were many things about his past that he didn't know. He went so far as to say that Zarkon wasn't who Lotor was led to believe he was." Allura said.
"Why in the world would King Alfor say such things? How can you be sure that this isn't some kind of trick of witch Haggar?" Coran asked.
"It's no trick. Coran, I know my father's spirit. I know it was he who came to Lotor and I." Allura answered confidently.
"You've been tricked before princess. Remember when Haggar put a spell on you making you believe your father had come back to you in the form of a white lion?" Keith remarked.
"That was a spell. She made me have bad dreams and yes under her influence I believed my father had returned to me in the form of a white lion. But this time was different. There was no enchantment over me because I was awake and aware of myself. And what he said was true. Lotor and Kaladan were hiding in a cave not far from the castle. I'd gone to visit with them to speak with Lotor. Sylvana trapped the three of us in the cave. She had intended to capture all of us. But Lotor and Kaladan bargained for my life with their own. Sylvana was ordered to bring back Lotor and Kaladan. I was just to be an extra added bonus. But since they were her intended prey they knew Zarkon would not be happy if she failed him. So to save her own skin she let me go. I know you all must think I'm crazy, but it's the truth." Allura said.
"Allura, how can you be so blantantly reckless. To meet with our worst enemy and one of his cohorts like this? Do you realize how much danger you put yourself in?" Coran chided.
"Yes, I did. I know you all want to keep me safe. I know just how important my life is to you and all my people, but you have got to trust me on this. I know what I'm talking about. Even now, Lotor and I are growing closer together. He spoke to me through a telepathic link and he's shared vital information with me about Zarkon's plans." Allura said.
"Oh, and what might those plans be?" Nanny interjected sternly.
"Haggar has some kind of monster at her control. He called it the Dragon of Azrinos." Allura answered.
"The Dragon of Azrinos?" Coran asked suddenly becoming nervous.
"You've heard of it?" Allura asked.
"That beast...it's said to have been only a myth. How could Haggar have such a beast at her disposal?"
"Because Lotor saw it with his own eyes as a prisoner on Doom. He and Kaladan were about to be executed for treason. And that's not the worst of it. Zarkon is moving powers within the empire to allign against us. Coran, Nanny, everyone please you must believe me. Zarkon means to wipe us out for good. If Lotor didn't care about me would he have gone to the lengths he's gone to to warn me?"
"I can't believe this. And did you just say you were actually growing... close to Lotor?" Keith asked.
"Yes, I did."
"I just lost my appetite." Hunk said rubbing his stomach.
"That goes double for me." Lance added.
"It's true. I've seen a different side of him that I never thought existed. He told me things through our telepathic link. What my father said to him was true. Zarkon isn't whom Lotor's been led to believe. And he's learned many truths about his past that Zarkon. Lotor...he told me to mention a name that would hopefully convince you that what I'm saying is true. He said there was a chance you would remember a Druel named Danzar, king of a planet called Namoria." Allura explained.
At that moment, Coran's eyes widened. "Danzar...is alive?" He asked in a shaky voice.
"Yes. He's Lotor's real father." Allura answered.
"Say that again!" The entire Voltron force blurted out in unison.
Lotor was resting in the cabin where Genar had taken him. The link with Allura while giving him a chance to speak with her again, also left him feeling drained. Several hours had passed since communicating with her. He felt a sense of relief in the knowledge that she knew he was alive and that Kaladan was alive as well. It also gave him hope knowing that she missed having him at her side. He never would have imagined she would ever miss him at all. He slowly opened his eyes letting them adjust to the semi bright light that now brought a glow to his room. Genar was sitting across from him in a chair.
"Are you all right, Lotor?" He asked.
"Yes. I still feel a little weak." Lotor answered rubbing his head.
"It's to be expected. Telepathy from a short distance can be draining. Attaining contact from a galaxy away is even more taxing upon the mind and the body. A normal human being would most likely have been bedridden for days. The fact that you have this link with Allura through Redeemer probably gave you protection from the strain of the distance between Allura and yourself. You should't try to rush yourself into recovery. It's best if you rest for a while longer so that your body can be at its full strength when we arrive on Arus. Were you able to tell Allura about us?" Genar asked.
"Yes. She is going to speak with her friends to inform her about our arrival. I only hope the prime minister remembers my father. That may be our only hope of entering Arusian air space without being blown out of the sky." Lotor said.
"I'm sure all will go well." Genar replied.
"I...I need to ask you something. It might sound strange but I need to ask. When you and Nomey got married, what was it like being with her the first time?"
"Needless to say it felt awkward for the both of us. Both of us were virgins and it was hard for us to express what we felt for each other at first. Both of us knew what happened between a man and a woman, but it was never beyond the usual explanation and stories told to us by our elders. Nomey was taught that it was a woman's duty to service her husband. And unfortunately most of the time the word used most was submit. I never liked that kind of explanation. Wives are partners, and companions. They care for their husbands and carry their children. But they also deserve to be respected by their husbands and cared for by them as well. I never liked the husband being described and the dominate partner either. I married Nomey because I loved her, not because I wanted to rule over her." Genar explained.
"Many men my age didn't wait for marriage for their first time with a woman. They took whomever they wanted to their bed. Women were more like sexual pacifiers than actual lovers. There was no meaning, no bond, no connection between them. I never agreed with that, never. Nomey is precious to me. To do anything to hurt her would be like inflicting pain upon myself. Granted, I was never raised to abuse women. But elders whom I'd talk to were refugees from the empire. They spoke of only what they were taught. And women were seen as second class at best, if that. I didn't want it to be like that between Nomey and myself. She is my soul mate."
"Soul mate?" Lotor asked.
"It is a person to whom you are meant to be with. Some people find their soul mate in a lover or a spouse. Others are more platonic and are meant to be very close friends, almost like siblings. Some are similar in personality which makes the relationship more cohesive. For others, it's like finding the other half of yourself. It's like darkness needing light and light needing darkness. In the end, soul mates balance each other out. One never overtakes the other. The two halves coexist together as one. Even though there are ups and downs in any relationship, there is a contentment and peace between the two that is beyond description." Genar answered.
"Do you think Allura is my soul mate?"
"Only you will know that for certain. And if she is, she will also know that you are the one meant for her." Genar said.
"I... I admit that my interaction with women has been limited to mostly physical exploits. I've had the occassional romp with noblewomen, but most of the time I bedded the slaves of my harem. My uncle, when I thought he was my father taught me that women were just objects to be used. He made sure I understood they lived only to service my desires whenever the mood struck me. I... I've never really embraced a woman with any sort of real emotion. I was always selfish. My needs were the only things that counted. I never really cared about the needs of those I bedded. I don't want it to be like that with Allura. She's everything to me. I want her to be happy. I want to fulfil her every need and desire." Lotor replied.
"Our honeymoon was an awkward one for both of us at first. Nomey had never seen a man unclothed, and she'd never let a man see her naked. And as I said before, our knowledge of intimacy was limited only to what we'd been told by our elders. Nomey was visibly nervous. The first time can be painful for a woman, especially if her first lover is a druel male. We spent the first half the night just talking. A lot of was me encouraging Nomey to be brave. She knew in her heart I would never do anything to hurt her, but in her mind she feared the discomfort of our first union." Genar said.
"How did she overcome it?"
"Patience. The greatest thing I could do for Nomey that first night was to be patient with her. We took things very slow. For over an hour we just laid next to each other, examining each other's bodies, learning how to touch and where to touch. It took her a little while, but she learned to overcome her shyness and her anxiety. The first coupling was the hardest. No matter how much time you take to prepare a woman, there is going to be some discomfort. That just comes with being a druel male. I was afraid she wouldn't make it through our first union. I had to talk her through the pain, but soon aftewards it got easier for her. But it's not just the physical act that brought us closer. It's the emotional bond we share that strengthens our time together. I honestly don't think I could ever or would ever be with anyone else if something were to happen to Nomey."
Zarkon sat in the control center watching the replay of the decimation of Corribus. The carnage left in the dragon's wake was absolute and devastating. Ruins were left where once great structures had stood. Bodies could not even be found because they'd been reduced to ashes. Earlier the king had witnessed the executions of any survivors of the destruction. But the devastation of the planet, the carnage, even the sight of blood spurting and heads rolling did not improve the king's mood. Everytime he looked in the mirror and saw the patch now covering his left eye and the wound on his shoulder that kept getting infected it only served to anger him further. And the image of Lotor's face looking back on him in anger and disdain enraged him even further. With a growl Zarkon left the control room and returned to his private chambers.
The guards bowed as he marched by them. They kept their heads low until he was gone. The old king had a lot on his mind and much of dealt with making sure the mistakes of the past would not be repeated. When he entered his private chambers he sat down at his study. "I should have killed them both the moment they touched Doom's soil." He growled to himself.
"I should have known Lotor was a liability the moment I stole him. Not only is he weakened by human blood, but the blood of my wretched father as well. I should have made sure every last one of his line was dead. I thought I'd erradicated them all. Now I learn that heirs survived the massecre. Well, this time I will make sure not one of my father's line is left. And when my proginy is born, a new line shall begin. I will bring fourth into the empire a line of flawless rulers. My heir will not be corrupted by weakness. He shall be raised to be dominant. He will not have pity or remorse of any kind. And he will not be tainted by feelings of love as that worthless nephew of mine was."
His chain of thought was interrupted by a guard's voice buzzing over the intercom. "Majesty, witch Haggar asks to speak with you immediately."
"Tell that old witch I'm busy. I'll speak with her later." Zarkon growled.
"She says its urgent sire. There have been some issues with the dragon she needs to discuss with you as soon as possible."
"If it's not one thing it's another around here! Tell that blasted old crone to appear in my throne room this minute. And she had better have a good explanation for intruding upon my private time." Zarkon barked angrily.
"Ye...yes sire." The guard replied with a nervous swallow.
Zarkon got up sternly pushing the chair aside so hard he almost flung it to the ground. Stomping out of his private study he made his way to the throne room growling and cursing along the way. "This had better be good you dried up raisin of a witch."