Chapter 8: Kindred Spirit
On the outer fringes of the Denubian galaxy existed a planet named Namoria. It was a peaceful planet inhabited by Druels who had seperated from the empire seeking a life devoid of war and despair. A young woman stood on the balcony of the palace where the royal family once lived. She, along with three men were the last of the royal family. The young woman, named Leena watched as the sun shined illumniating the landscape of green grass and violet blooms. But the view brought no joy or solace to Leena. She had grown up without her parents. She never had the chance to know her aunts and uncles. Only three cousins of the family line remained. Shortly after Leena's birth, a great massacre took place within the walls of the palace. Assasins working for King Zarkon had all the royal family slaughtered, all but four. The young boys and baby girl had been hidden safely away deep within the palace so they would not be found. The three men, Avian, Genar and Kezrin were charged with looking after Leena and keeping her safe.
Finding no comfort in the bright horizon of her world, she left the balcony and ventured to a room where portraits of the royal family hanged upon the stone walls. She looked up at one portrait of a drule male in battle armor carrying a sword and shield. Her eyes filled with tears as she gazed at the portrait.
"Grandfather Keltor, will I ever see my father? Will I ever know him?" She said as the tears fell.
"All I have of him is a picture. All I know of him is that he fought bravely against his brother Zarkon. He has never returned from planet Doom. All our family save four of us are dead. Will I never know if my father is still alive? Why, why did it have to come to this?"
Back on Taebos Lotor wandered the dirty streets trying to find somewhere to get food. It wasn't long until his stomach began to remind him of just how long it had been since he'd last eaten, and what he had last eaten wasn't all that much. He continued to look around until he heard what sounded like the screams of both men and women coming from a corner alley. They were not screams of terror, but more like those of an audiance watching a battle take place. He knew those types of screams. He'd heard them often watching robeasts battle for the chance to be the next sent to attempt the destruction of Doom's worst enemy, Voltron. But he was pretty sure robeasts were not the combatants here. He knew in his mind he shouldn't be concerned with whatever blood sport was going on, but something deep inside told him to investigate the raucus noise.
He walked down the dimly lit alley way where yet more prostitutes strolled and advertised their intimate wears to any who had the money to afford them. And again the many pairs of female eyes followed the handsome, young drule as he walked. He did his best to ignore them as he walked. He continued until he heard someone call out to him.
"Hey, you there!" A man called.
"You look like a strapping young man in need of a woman's company." The man said. "I've many lovely ladies and all of them willing to do whatever you want for the right price."
"I'm not interested in your whores. And I've nothing to pay for it with anyhow. Now leave me be. I've already killed one man tonight, and I would rather not waste my energy on a flesh peddler like you." Lotor growled.
"You threatening me?" The pimp demanded. Before he could start trouble Lotor unsheathed his two blades and turned around showing the formidable weapons.
"I told you to back off. Now if you don't want to lose your head or anything else, I suggest you take your harlots and go elsewhere."
Not wanting bloodshed, the pimp backed off. The threat again averted, Lotor continued walking until he came to a what looked to be a rundown stadium. The bottom of it was covered with mishapen pieces of metal that appeared to come from space vessles pieced together to prevent anyone from seeing within. He looked up to see a small dusty hill leading up to the top of the structure. He started up the hill following its winding path until he came to the visible part of the stadium. Upon the way he found what looked like an old and dusty cloak discarded by whoever had previously owned it. Not knowing what hostility he might walk in on, he draped it over himself pulling up the hood so his features were obscured. Seeing people coming and going as they pleased, Lotor walked toward the entrance where he saw people packed together in a wild frenzy.
"What the hell kind of place is this?" He asked himself mentally.
Not knowing if anyone would recognize him or not, he tucked his long white hair under his coat so he would not be so inconspicuous. There appeared to be beings of all origins both humanoid and otherwise so he didn't feel too threatened about his identity being discovered, but better safe than sorry. He made his way through the roaring crowds trying to get a good look at what was going on. He looked down to see two men dragging a corpse away from the small arena. As he watched a third man dressed in brown leather pants and a matching jacket stepped out holding a microphone in his hand.
"Are you animals ready for the main event!" He shouted to the crowds.
"YAH!" The crowd roared over and over.
"You want blood! You want unadulterated violence?!"
Again the crowd's responce was a thunderous yes.
"Then I give you the most violent, the most sadistic, and the deadliest fighter ever in the history of the pit of death! I give you the Blood Lord, Kaladan!" He announced with great ferver.
"The Blood Lord? Is this the same blood lord those thugs spoke of?"
At the announcing of his name, the crowd broke into a frenzy of screaming and cries of blood lust and anticipation of the grizzly spectacle yet to begin.
"HAIL KALADAN! HAIL THE BLOOD LORD!" They chanted wildly over and over.
As their cries became deafening, a man walked to the center of the pit. His face was partially covered by an ornate mask made of silver. It covered his head from the crown to the bottom of his nose. Molded to resemble a man's face, there were small holes in the eyes so he could see his opponent clearly. Even though his face was hidden, the scowl on his mouth gave a clear signal that he was not a pleasent soul. He wore tight, deep red leather pants and knee length boots of the same color but a darker hue. He wore only a device made of leather straps criss crossing each other down his chest and his back. Upon his arms he wore black leather wrist bands. Upon the circular wall were various weapons used to do one thing and one thing only... kill.
Lotor looked down to see the man named Kaladan. His skin was blue like that of a drule, but the ex prince made no assumptions. There were many races of beings who had skin color similar to druels. Under the helmet flowed long locks of firey red hair with tinges of orange. Torches surrounded the arena giving it an errie glow that made his hair seem like a river of liquid fire flowing from his head. He stood deathly still awaiting whatever victim would be thrown at him. It was impossible for any one to hear the terrified screams of the condemned soul being dragged to the pit floor. Even amidst the roars of the crowd, Lotor could make out the faint sound of fear as the unfortunate victim. He inched ever closer to the front of the crowd to get the best view of the slaughter that was to come. He got close enough who the unwilling combatant would be. His eyes widened in shock.
"That's one of my father's guards. Wait...those thugs said this guy despises drules. If what they say about this blood lord is true, I don't want any run ins with him. I have to get to Arus alive and in one piece. And a throw down against this fellow would most likely ensure I'd be neither one." He thought.
The helpless guard was dragged kicking and screaming into the pit and hurled to the ground. He looked up to see the scowling visage of his opponent as he looked down upon his victim. The ill fated encounter was about to begin. The guard scrambled to his feet and ran for the exit, but the door quickly shut leaving him sealed in like prey thrown to a hungry lion. He beat frantically upon the heavy door only to be yanked violently from the sealed exit. Kaladan threw him to the dirt covered ground.
"Get up worm!" He barked.
The guard scrambled to his feet and ran as fast as he could from his attacker. In his panic he stumbled to the ground getting dirt and dust in his face. He looked up to see an array of weapons hanging on the wall. As he began to reach for an ax he felt something violently make contact with his spine. The force was so great his face smashed against the stone wall. Blood poured from his mouth and nose as he fell to the ground. But even in his impaired condition, Kaladan showed no mercy.
"Get up! Fight me you piece of trash!" He roared.
The guard was barely able to reach upward toward the wall. Kaladan reached for the ax and flung it to the ground near the guard. The victim looked over through blood covered eyes trying to reach at the weapon.
"Take it!" Kaladan barked. "TAKE IT!" He thundered again kicking the weapon toward his victim.
The guard grabbed the ax and managed to get to his knees. He stumbled to his feet swinging wildly. But the swings were haphazard and were no where near Kaladan. He scowled at his opponent's futile attempt to mount an offense. Growing frustrated he stomped foward and grabbed a ragged edged sword from the wall. He swung his blade blocking every attempt the guard made with his ax. The fight was very much one sided much to the delight of the crowds. He made no move the kill his victim quickly, but didn't let up on the onslaught either. He continued bringing his sword down upon the guard's ax until he knocked the weapon from his unfortunate victim's hands. Now robbed of his weapon, the guard ran toward the exit once again but again found it tightly locked.
He banged and clawed at it trying in vein to get it to open. Before he could make another move he felt a strong hand yank him from the door and punched violently in the back. He fell to his knees. Kaladan circled him like a cat circling his prey. Then without warning he brutally backhanded the guard causing more blood to spill from his nose and mouth. Then he forced his victim to his feet and gave him a swift kick in the gut. The blow sent the victim reeling and down to the ground. He forced the guard to his feet once again and punched him with such force that the guard went flying several feet before hitting the ground on his back. Kaladan marched toward the fallen combantant and viciously kicked him in the side causing him to double over on his side.
Lotor watched both fascinated and shocked by the display. If there was one thing that was certain, he knew the guard was going to die. And death would not come gently either. He watched as Kaladan gave the guard another brutal kick, this time to the back. By this point the guard was no longer able to scream in pain. The pain was so great it rendered him speecheless. Also the fact that the wind was being repeatedly knocked out of him also kept him silent. He watched as Kaladan brought his heavily booted foot down on the guard's abdomen effectively causing severe internal injuries. He kicked the guard's hands away from his stomach. Once they were away from the guard's sides, he stomped them mercilessly breaking every bone he could. All the guard could do was open his mouth letting wimpers choked by his own blood escape.
Kaladan then took one of the guard's legs and lifted it in the air. And without an ounce of pity or compassion, drove it back down to the ground with such force the bone broke and poked through guard's skin and tore through his uniform. Lotor cringed watching the guard being systematically broken to pieces from the inside out. He was no stranger to violence or blood, but he'd never seen anything quite this grizzly. But as sickened as he felt, he felt compelled to see the match to it's deadly conclusion. It was like watching a wild animal, a predator playing with its prey, torturing it, giving it a small hint that it might get away, and then going in for the kill. He watched kaladan stomp the guard again, this time in the chest. Even over the roar of the crowds, Lotor could have sworn he heard the cracking of ribs. He grimmaced at the sickening sound.
The crowds of roaring people reached a fever pitch as they knew the end was coming. Kaladan picked up his sword that he'd thrown to the ground before grabbing the guard. Then he grabbed his victim by his short brown hair and forced him to his knees. Then with a sadistic smile he slashed his victim in the chest with his blade. Then he slashed the guard again. One cut after another until the guard's chest was covered in his own blood. The crowds went balistic with glee. Kaladan looked to the hordes of screaming onlookers. They saw suffering, and blood and cruelty. Now they wanted to see death. The guard barely clinging to life wobbled unsteadily on his knees. Kaladan raised his sword and with one slash beheaded the guard. Blood spurted from the now headless stump as the corpse fell and Kaladan raised the severed head for the crowds to see. They're screams of delight were deafening. Then Kaladan removed his helmet and threw it to the ground.
Lotor's eyes widened when he saw Kaladan's face. Fierce golden eyes hazed over with bloodlust burned into his. His blue skin was tinted with the blood of his victim. Fiery red locks cascaded down his shoulders and back down to his waist. His long bangs fell over the left side of his face obscuring one of his eyes from view. He thrust his fist upward still clutching his bloody trophy for all to see.
"He's a drule!" The former prince of Doom thought in shock.
"KALADAN! KALADAN!" The people screamed over and over.
"I better get the hell out of here before he sees what I am." Lotor thought.
He turned and pushed his way through the hordes of people trying to make his way out of the stadium. He kept the hood pulled over his face to make sure nobody saw him. The last thing he wanted was a confrontation with the Blood Lord after seeing what he was capable of. He pushed and pushed trying to make his way through the people while keeping his cloak from being pulled off. He continued making his way through until at last he was away from the crowds. He started down the winding dirt path that led him to the vile structure to begin with. He walked briskly down the path leading him back to the alley. He walked cautiously among the prostitues, pimps and other unsavory characters. As he approached the end of the alley a woman stopped him.
"Come from the pit have you? Has the Blood Lord claimed another trophy for his collection?" She asked cryptically.
"Yes." Lotor answered silently and started to walk away from her. Then he stopped and turned back toward her. "Who is he? Who is this Blood Lord, and why does he hate his own kind so much?" He asked.
"You have never heard of Kaladan until now?" The woman enquired.
"Yes. Through my own misfortunes I've found myself on this hellhole, and I'm looking to get off of it. There is someone very dear to me who is in great danger. I've probably told you too much already. If you don't intend to answer my question, then let me be on my way." Lotor answered sternly.
"I know him, but it is not a discussion that can take place here. I have a small tavern not far from here. I'm sure you must be very hungry. I have food, shelter and all you wish to know about Kaladan. Come. It is not safe to stay here anymore." She said.
While he didn't know if he could trust this strange woman, he doubted he was going to get a better offer from anyone else. "I don't know what this woman wants, but if I don't get something to eat soon I'm going to drop dead from hunger."
Lotor followed the woman to a small tavern several feet from the stadium. She opened the door ushering the young drule in. He looked around and saw there was no one there. "Is there anyone else here?" He asked.
"Only my bouncer, Bruno. Unless you have less than noble intentions aimed toward me you've no reason to worry about him." The woman answered.
"I only want food and to know who Kaladan is."
"Then I will get you something to eat, and then I will tell you what you want to know."
Lotor sat down at one of the simple wooden tables and waited for the woman to return. Within a few minutes she returned with a tray of meat and bread and a decanter of something he assumed to be wine. She set the food and drink in front of him and waited for him to start eating. He felt like just grabbing the meat off the plate and sink his teeth in it. But for all his hunger he still clung to his manners and slowly cut the meat up and began eating it. As he ate, the woman began to speak.
"He came to Taebos many years ago. He was found near death. He'd been beaten and flogged so severely his body was covered in his own blood. I was one of the women who tended his wounds and helped save his life. When he was able to speak, he told me his name was Kaladan, and that he'd been a high commander of King Zarkon's armies. He was charged with the task of helping to take over civilizations in the name of expanding the druel empire. At first he believed he was doing what was necessary to ensure the future of the drule race." She explained.
"He served Zarkon?" Lotor asked.
"Yes. But as he continued the campaign, he saw evidence of cruelty toward the inhabitants of defeated planets. Men and young boys were forced into slavery, while the woman and young girls were violated by drunken guards. Kaladan grew angry with the treatment of the prisoners and on many occassions sternly reprimanded his own soliders for abusing the prisoners. But his warnings were not enough to curb the lusts of his men. One night he saw four guards holding down a young woman preparing to rape her. He ordered them to get off of her, but they didn't listen. While he was the high commander, the king gave the soldiers free reign over the slaves and gave them permission to do with the women as they pleased. He became so angry that he pulled one of the guards off the young woman and ran him through with his sword. The other three guards rushed to take Kaladan down for his interference and he killed those three as well." The woman continued.
After taking a drink of wine she continued her story. "Kaladan knew he would be in grave trouble with the king for killing four of his royal guards. But his tolerance for the treatment of prisoners had grown so thin that he renounced his loyalty to Zarkon and the drule empire. Instead of conquoring planets, Kaladan turned his efforts to freeing the people he had once helped enslave. For a year he led several successful raids and freeing slaves from different planets. He had also fallen in love with the young woman he'd saved from Zarkon's guards. She in turn also loved him and stayed at his side. But Zarkon would not let his act of treason go unpunished."
The woman paused again for a drink, then continued. "One night Zarkon had a trap set for Kaladan and the people he led in rebellion against the king. One of the enslaved men had been promised freedom for himself and his family if he helped capture Kaladan and the ring leaders of the rebellion. While I cannot recall the particulars of the plan, it ended with Kaladan and the woman he loved being captured along with many of the slaves he'd helped escape. The ring leaders were promptly executed for their part in the rebellion. But Kaladan's fate was far, far worse. Zarkon intended to make an example of him so no one else under his command would ever betray him. "
"What happened?" Lotor asked.
"The worse thing that could have happened to a man in his position. Kaladan was taken back to planet Doom along with the woman he loved. Her name was Selena. After Kaladan was beaten into submission, he was bound and chained to the ground on his knees. Guards held his head still and forced his eyes to remain open. Selena was dragged kicking and screaming before him and her clothes torn away. Zarkon allowed his guards to violate her over and over...until she was dead. Every tear, every look of agony and scream of suffering...Zarkon made sure Kaladan saw and heard them." The woman said looking down at the floor.
Little by little, as he heard the story, Lotor began to understand Kaladan's hatred. What if Zarkon had decided to do that to him, his own son? What if it had been Allura in Selena's place? The feeling was sickening almost making Lotor lose his appetite.
"And after he was forced to watch the woman he loved be raped to death by Zarkon's guards, he let them loose on him. They beat him and tortured him nearly to death. But he would not be allowed to die, at least not yet. Zarkon had him taken from Doom and left here on Taebos. He didn't figure Kaladan would survive his wounds, and he almost didn't. I don't know how but he managed to stumble from the place he'd been dropped to my door here at the tavern. I took him in and nursed his wounds. Several nights were touch and go, but somehow he managed to find the will to live. As he recovered from his ordeal, the memories flooded his mind. A rage began to build within him. A rage that would never be quelled, or so he believed. He left the tavern and came upon the stadium. The pit masters took interest in him. While he had been tortured and abused, he was still quite a physical specimen, and the pit masters were looking for a new champion."
"And he accepted?"
"On one condition. Any member of Zarkon's armies who ended up on Taebos would face him in the pit. The targets he was looking for in particular were the beasts who raped Selena to death. If the pit masters had them found and brought to Taebos, he would give the crowds of blood hungry spectators a sadistic spectacle to the likes they had never seen before. And he kept his word. The promoters managed to find a way to have a small army of Zarkon's soldiers brought to Taebos. They were captured and taken to the pit. Many an onlooker could still recall the look of absolute horror on their faces when they were thrown into the pit and found themselves face to face with their former commander. Their deaths were brutal, violent and very, very bloody. He tore them to pieces with both swords and his bare hands. He would beat and torture them to the point where they could no longer defend themselves. Then, he would force them to their knees and with a ragged edged sword he would take their heads and hold them up for the crowds to see. His reputation grew so fierce and violent that he earned the nickname, The Blood Lord. "
"I...I saw that tonight. A drule guard was his victim. It was so one sided I couldn't hardly believe what I was looking at. The bastard never stood a chance."
"I know. None of them ever do. While drules are not his only opponents, they are the ones he hates most. It is said that every member of the king's army who has had the misfortune to face Kaladan has never returned alive. The pit is littered with the skulls of his victims, many of them were Zarkon's soldiers and envoys."
"Now I know why none of them ever came back."
"That is why it would be best if you kept your identity secret while you are here. You are a drule yourself. You don't look like a lowly soldier though. You must have been of a higher rank in the king's army. You have never told me your name."
"I...I do not think it wise to be telling anyone here my name. I can tell you only that I too once stood by the side of King Zarkon, and I, like Kaladan have renounced his laws and his empire. I must find a way off this planet. One whom I cherish with all my heart is in grave danger from Zarkon. She and her people are all in danger and if I don't get to her," Lotor stopped.
For a moment it appeared as if the color drained from his face when he recalled the woman's tale of how Kaladan was punished by Zarkon. The king had forced him into slavery, but what Kaladan endured was ten times worse. He was forced to watch the woman he loved die a slow, and very painful death. He could not even begin to think of that happening to Allura. And knowing what his father was capable of, he would not put it past the king to have such an unthinkable thing done to the princess. And if she did survive the impending attack against Arus, such a fate could very well be hers if he didn't find a way off Taebos.
"You weren't a guard. You held a much higher rank, perhaps even higher than that of Kaladan himself. Tell me, what is it that turned you against King Zarkon?" The woman asked.
He knew it wasn't smart to tell her everything, but if he said nothing it would only arouse more of her curiosity. He put down the glass he'd just drank from.
"I will tell you only that I too have fallen in love with a young woman seen as an enemy to the king. My love for her has grown so strong that it became an obstacle to Zarkon's plans for complete domination. He forced me into slavery on planet Carnos. It was there I learned of the king's plans to launch an attack against the home of the woman I love. She and her people are in great danger. I must not say anymore than that. I fear I have said too much already."
"Then you may find an ally in the man you saw tonight."
"Madame, I have to get off this rock alive. And trying to reason with Kaladan is just what I can't do if I am to get to my destination in one piece."
"Winning Kaladan's loyalty may be the only way you can get away from Taebos alive. You see, because the pit masters fulfilled their promise to give Kaladan revenge against the monsters who killed Selena, he in turn promised to be bound to the pit as its champion. The only way he can be free of his obligation is if someone bests him in combat."
"And if I do, I will most likely end up getting myself killed. And if I get killed, then there's no hope of warning the one I love about Zarkon's plans to attack. I cannot take the chance. I'm sorry but I've nothing to pay for this with."
"I ask for nothing from you...except your name." The woman said.
"I've already told you, I dare not tell my name to anyone. If Zarkon were to find out I'm here..."
"This woman you speak of, does she come from planet Arus?"
Lotor's eyes widened. His very reaction betrayed his veil of secrecy. And his silence did nothing to aid him either.
"Yes, she is from Arus isn't she? She is Allura, the daughter of Alfor and princes of planet Arus. And you are in love with her. I've heard stories of a drule so taken by her beauty and spirit he willingly jepardized Zarkon's plans over and over again to protect her. Yes...I know who you are."
"I am no one, woman. You did not see me nor did I say anything to you. I am leaving. Do not trouble me further." Lotor warned sternly.
"I know who you are, son of Zarkon." The woman said calmly.
Lotor stopped. How could she know who he was? "Woman, hold your tongue, or I will be forced to remove it. Now let me go." He growled.
"Lotor, you are Lotor son of Zarkon. You are the one who can defeat Kaladan."
"The son of Zarkon is dead and will remain so. I am no one."
"You are the one who loves princess Allura. You are the one who will bring about King Zarkon's ulitmate defeat. You cannot deny this. It is you who's coming was foretold to me in a dream. You are Kaladan's equal. You are like him. You are his kindred spirit."
"And you are a mad woman."
"No, you are the one. Kaladan will stand at your side in the battle against King Zarkon."
"Kaladan is a rabid animal. How well do you think I'd fair against a mad man like him?" Lotor asked.
"Perhaps we should find out." Said a deep and menancing voice.
Lotor turned suddenly and found he was face to face with the blood lord himself.