My Better Halfby Dr. Kat
Laughter penetrated the prince's bedroom as he slept. He half opened his eyes to see Hagar staring at him from the foot of his bed. "What do you want now, old witch?" he asked in a congested voice. His head was throbbing from the cold he was suffering from. All he wanted right now was some sleep.
"Sire, your father has proclaimed a feast day to celebrate your triumph over Binary One. Or have you forgotten?"
"I have. Now, go away." The door to the prince's bedchambers closed quietly. Lotor sighed, turned over, and fell back asleep...
For about twenty seconds. Then, a loud banging was heard on the door. Lotor ignored it, pretending to be too asleep to hear it. He didn't hear anymore banging for awhile and thought he was finally going to be left alone. It was then that the door opened and heavy footsteps were heard inside his room. "Prince Lotor! Why aren't you at the party?"
"GET OUT OF HERE, COSSACK!!" Lotor yelled at the stupid Drule.
"Come on, your Highness," Cossack, obviously drunk, stammered out, "There's wine and wenches and wonderful..."
"Whatever." Lotor sneezed loudly. "I'm not leaving my room. Now, GET OUT!!!!"
"Okay, okay. It's just so weird that...that you, that the guest of honor, that you Prince Lotor...you..." Lotor reached for his sword belt hanging near his bed. "Okay, okay! I'm going. I'm going!" Cossack ran out of the prince's room, fearing that Lotor would follow and gut him.
Lotor sheathed his laser sword and fell back into his pillow. "That dumb...*Achoo!* Ugghhh..." He couldn't shake this cold. He couldn't shake the past week. He couldn't forget the sight of his mother or how he had survived the cold cell by what could only be described as magic. He should have died; he knew that. Lotor pulled at his newly cut hair, slightly shorter than waist length. It seemed normal now. He could have sworn, back then it had radiated heat or something.
All the castle was a buzz about the miraculous escape of the prince. He had gained more fame in one week than he had ever since reaching Planet Doom. How could he explain what had happened? He didn't even believe it himself. Maybe Hagar would understand. He would have to confide in her. His father, on the other hand would think him crazy, that's for sure.
There was the sound of lighter footsteps in the room. "Oh, for the love of..." This time, he pulled his sword out and prepared to meet the interloper on unfriendly terms. "Where are you, young wench? Are you here to amuse me?"
His eyes scanned the room but found no one. "I'll warn you, I'm not in a playful mood. I'd sooner slice your throat!" He hoped it would scare her out of his room.
Damn that Cossack! He was trying to cheer him up with one of the pleasure slaves. How could he possibly concentrate on lust when his body was sick and his mind was confused?
"You would rather kill me? Shame on you!" Her voice sounded too mature for a slave girl.
"Who are you? You're not a whore."
"Nice of you to notice. Is that the way you always greet women?"
"Come on! Show yourself! I'm not for games!"
"Yet killing is your sport."
"Who are you, my conscience? Killing is my sport?" How dare this woman mock him! The voice sounded close to a window. The prince pulled back the curtains to find nothing. He was beginning to feel slightly uneasy.
"Why don't you listen to your better half, Lotor? Just like your mother told you to do years ago."
"My mother?" He was very confused now. "How do you know of that? Did you know her?"
"Of course I knew her," she replied. Just then, the woman appeared in front of him. She looked sort of human. She looked almost familiar, even. In her hand was a bottle which held a dark green liquid.
"Hello, Lotor. I'm your aunt." She uncorked the bottle. Light green fumes swirled around the prince's form. It smelled of plants and herbs. It was intoxicating.
"Oh great!" Lotor couldn't keep his balance. His sword dropped uselessly to the floor, followed by his body. "Not again..."
"Actually," the woman said, "I am your great-aunt."
He could swear he heard birds. He could also smell salt water traveling on a light breeze. The air was so clean, it seemed alive. The warm sunlight fell through an open window on Lotor's sleeping form. It must be a dream, he thought, relishing the sounds, the smells, the feeling of this world. It was so peaceful. He hated to wake up, but still he turned over to get out of his bed.
Or at least tried to. His hands would only move slightly, and his feet wouldn't move at all. Confused, he opened his eyes and found himself staring at the woman. "I thought you were a dream," he murmured.
"I am real, child," the woman answered. She moved to the far end of the room.
One thing was certain: this was not his room. Lotor watched her as she bustled about a small kitchen area. Her hair was long and black with a few streaks of gray. It rippled like water as she moved from a cabinet to a steaming pot and poured a liquid into a small cup. She turned her head to the side, and her hair shifted. There, Lotor saw emerge a pointed ear.
"You," Lotor started, but couldn't find the words. What was this? Another hallucination? Why was it happening again?
"I?" she asked.
Lotor tried again: "You look like a human. Yet, your ears..."
"Are pointed. I know." She returned to the side of his bed with the cup of liquid. It smelled like honey.
"Elf?" he guessed.
"That's right. I'm an elf." She took a sip of the honey-liquid.
Lotor began to laugh: "And I'm completely insane! HAGAR!!" Lotor yelled at the top of his lungs, "FATHER!! Anyone! Someone PLEASE wake me up!!!"
"Stop this foolishness, boy! You'll only wear out your voice screaming for people who are not here."
"Oh please, Lotor, call me Aunt Mari."
"Where am I? Untie me at once, woman!" His hands and feet were wrapped in vines. Lotor tugged at the living bonds, which wouldn't give to any of his efforts. He was sure he could break a measly vine. But, these would not even tear.
The woman did not answer. She just sat down on a small stool next to the prince. She took a long drink from her wooden cup and stared out the window.
"Did you not hear me, woman?" he snapped. She said nothing. Sighing, Lotor decided to humor her: "Did you not hear me...Aunt Mari?" he asked.
"Of course I heard you, Lotor. And if you didn't have such a wretched attitude, I would have answered you before." She set the cup down on the window sill and looked Lotor square in the eyes. "You are my nephew, but you are also in my home. While you are here, you will treat you dear aunt with respect. Do I make myself clear?"
"I would just like to ask..."
"DO I make myself CLEAR?"
"Yes. Yes, Aunt Mari, perfectly clear."
"Good." Satisfied for the moment, Aunt Mari sat back down. She now wished she had gotten to him earlier. She may have to go to drastic measures to teach this boy the proper way to live. Her niece, Lotor's mother didn't have time to teach him in her living years, and it didn't help that the boy was sent to that horrid training school.
"Aunt Mari?" Lotor dared to ask. She did look a little like his mother and himself. She had a similar face; it was just older and slightly wrinkled. Her hair, though black, had the same widow's peak. And, he kept on thinking he had seen her somewhere before.
"May I ask you a question?"
"Of course, Lotor."
"Why did you knock me unconscious, bring me here (wherever this is), and tie me up?"
Aunt Mari smiled at her nephew. "For your own wellbeing, Lotor," she answered.
"Well, that explains everything," Lotor grumbled under his breath.
While the boys were having the party of the century, Hagar wandered the empty corridors. She had just left Prince Lotor's room; he seemed too ill to attend that disgusting party anyway, so she didn't try to persuade him.
These feast days were actually the days she enjoyed the most. She had freedom to explore any part of the castle without running into those foolish warriors or slaves. She could install new spying crystals in the quarters of those she did not trust and were likely to cause trouble against the monarchy. Blackmail was a good friend of hers, and it helped her gain favor with Zarkon.
Something distracted her as she hid crystals in Captain Untor's rooms. Hagar knew she felt a strange presence in the castle. It seemed like a gateway was opened by some foreign magical being. She had not felt a presence like this before, at least not in a while. Perhaps she had run into a creature like this in her younger years, its magical signature did seem slightly familiar. Either way, she was intrigued by her find.
Upon reaching her laboratory, she pulled out her cursed map of the castle and surrounding buildings. She poured her magic powers into the map to activate its tracking spell. Then, she concentrated all her efforts to mimic the signal the other being was using. If the signal she provided was accurate enough, the map would hone in on the exact spot where the gateway was located. Then, she could report her findings to King Zarkon.
Her signal was complete. The tracking spell now went to work, scouring the map's surface in search of the gateway. Soon, a small light appeared on the cursed map. It moved from the dungeon, to the next level, to the next...then, it stayed on one level and moved through the corridors. The light grew brighter and began to emit a high-pitched whine as it centered in on its target. Finally, the light stopped in a room and turned bright red, indicating the source.
"Gotcha!!" Hagar declared. She checked the map. Her ancient face paled under the years of wrinkles and leathery skin.
"Prince Lotor's chambers?" she questioned in disbelief. She rushed to find the king.
Chapter ThreeAunt Mari had departed some time ago, leaving her nephew still firmly bound to the bed. After a fierce struggle with the unyielding plants, Lotor finally accepted defeat, for now, and surveyed his surroundings.
He seemed to be at one end of a small wooden house. The bed was plain, the kitchen plain, the chairs and stool plain, the door plain. The two windows on the side walls were unadorned. The windows...the prince strained his neck to look out the nearest one. All he could make out were trees and an occasional bird. He could still smell salt water. There must be a sea somewhere nearby. It all looked so primitive to the prince. There were no modern appliances, no computers, no secret holograph pictures of Allura. There wasn't even a scrap of metal to be seen. The only light in the little house came from the sun.
The sun was shining in the opposite window when Mari returned. On her shoulders was a dark green cape, on her arm a basket. She emptied the contents in the kitchen, then turned to the prisoner.
Lotor was shifting uncomfortably on the bed, as much as the bonds would allow him. He glared at her as she approached. "Do me a favor, Aunt Mari," he said in a cynical tone, "the next time you want to kidnap me, warn me ahead of time, so that I might relieve myself beforehand." She chuckled at the statement and snapped her fingers. As if on command, the vines immediately unwound and disappeared into the floor. Lotor sat up, rubbing his sore wrists and feeling even more uncomfortable with the increased pressure on his bladder.
"There is no indoor plumbing, so I'm afraid you'll have to go outside."
"I've killed people for less than this," the prince mumbled.
"I know, dear. With frozen roots, as I recall."
Lotor gave her another sinister glare, then stumbled out the door.
"Don't try to escape," she called after him, "You wouldn't last long without me."
She watched as Lotor maneuvered through the trees and underbrush to a secluded spot away from her gaze. She laughed and re-entered her home, draping the green cape on a chair. Then, she set to making the newest magical surprise for her nephew.
Lotor leaned against a tree and sighed in relief. That stupid woman! First, she ties me to a bed, then she lets me go just because I have to go to the bathroom? She must be insane. Lotor made up his mind instantly that he would not go back to his so called "aunt." He didn't care what she said.
Though, as Lotor made his way through the brush and forest, he began to wonder. What if the cities had no space technology here? What if there were NO cities? How could he get out of this nature preserve?
The soft soil of the forest gave way to a more rocky terrain. Why couldn't that woman have kidnapped him when he was fully dressed? Here he was, wandering around the middle of nowhere in nothing but his nightclothes. As Lotor fought back a sneeze, he hoped it wouldn't get chilly later on. The rocky ground cut his bare feet. He wished he had shoes. A sword would be nice, too.
The sound of waves crashing on the shore grew louder as the trees thinned. The forest opened up to a ground entirely of rock, and just beyond, a sudden sheer drop. Lotor approached and found himself staring down the edge of a steep cliff. At the bottom, the ocean smashed into the rocky shoreline, sending plumes of spray almost to the top of the cliff. Beyond the shore, the sea opened up to a crystal blue expanse of water. The sun glittered on the surface like gold.
The prince stood breathless, mesmerized by the sheer vastness and beauty of it all. "Nothing like Doom," he uttered in awe. Motion caught his eye, and Lotor came out of his trance. He thought he saw something in the water, something slithering? It was gone. Wait, now it was near the shore...
"Oh sh..." The ground shook, knocking the prince off his feet. As he watched, the water violently parted, and a monstrous serpent shot out of the sea. It easily surpassed the height of the cliff and stared at the tiny creature before it with blood-red eyes. It bared its fangs and struck at the prince, hoping for a quick meal.
Lotor quickly rolled to the side, just barely escaping the snake's gaping jaws. Fortunately, the beast was slow to recover from the mouthful of rock, and Lotor retreated back into the woods.
The serpent hissed in defeat, then returned to the sea to await the next victim.
"Back so soon? I take it you ran into the local water serpent," said Mari as she eyed her out of breath nephew. She knew he would be back. "You look as if you've been rolling in the dirt."
The look in Lotor's eyes was one of pure murder. "I nearly got KILLED by that DAMN snake, and YOU only ask why I'm so DIRTY?"
"Oh, he was only playing. He does that to newcomers."
"PLAYING?" Lotor sneezed several times in rapid succession. Being outdoors seemed to have only worsened his cold. "You call THAT playing?"
"There's no need to shout, child. And there's no reason to be angry. I did warn you, if you'll remember."
Lotor's rage was near the boiling point. He had had ENOUGH! The prince's strong form easily overpowered the old woman, and he pinned her to the floor. She let out a cry of surprise as his hands closed around her thin neck.
"Now, Aunt Mari, you tell me what's going on!" Lotor tightened his grip to make the point more clear. "Come on, TALK! Why am I here?"
"You foolish boy!" she gasped, "Didn't I tell you to treat me with respect?"
"Well, what are you going to do about it, huh?" he asked sarcastically.
"This." All she did was raise her left hand. Suddenly, Lotor's arms were thrust away from her neck.
Mari made another gesture with her arm. It was as if a solid wall slammed into him. Lotor hit the far end of the house with such force that his breath was wrenched from his body, and he blanked out.
After a few moments, groans were heard from the prince. Lotor slowly opened his eyes; his vision filled with bright flashing stars. He was pinned to the wall and could not move. He winced in pain as his aunt approached, a crystal goblet in her hands.
"You wicked creature!" she hissed, "You dare to harm your own family. I knew you were too evil, too corrupted to listen to my teachings. I suppose I have no choice now but to destroy you." She held the goblet up to his face. It was filled with a golden liquid. "I suppose you won't drink this on you own, either."
Lotor felt his mouth slacken as Mari placed the goblet to his lips. He couldn't move. She poured the liquid steadily into his mouth.
Lotor tried to turn away, to cough, to tighten his throat, anything. He just was no longer in control. He swallowed again and again, shuddering as the liquid went down. It had no taste, yet tingled in his stomach.
When the last of the potion was gone, Mari finally released her nephew. He fell to the ground, coughing and shaking from the spells and residual pain. Carefully, she crooked an arm under his shoulders and led him to a nearby chair. She sighed in relief. It was done.
"Where is my son, Hagar?"
"I don't know, sire," Hagar tried to explain, "I guess wherever the other side of the gateway is."
Lotor finally regained his senses. "Am I dead yet?" he asked. As if in response, he violently sneezed. "I guess not."
"If you were a pure elf, you would have been rid of that cold long ago." Mari watched as his cat eyes flickered open and focused on her.
"Who are you?" he pleaded, "Please, just tell me before I die."
Mari broke into hysterical laughter. "My dear boy," she managed, "what will you say next?"
Lotor was irritated by her light-heartedness. "You said you would destroy me."
"Yes, I did. But, I didn't say I would kill you."
"What's the difference?"
"The difference is: you aren't going to die."
"Can't you just give me a normal answer?" Lotor begged, "Can't you just tell me what's going on?"
"All right, Lotor," Mari stood in front of the chair. "Ask me anything. I'll try to give you the best...the most normal answer I can."
"Who are you?"
"My name is Marianna. I am your grandmother's...your mother's mother's younger sister. I am also an elf."
"And this place?"
"This is a forest sanctuary. It was created as a refuge for magical beings, such as myself."
"It has no name..."
"Sire!" Hagar exclaimed, "I may have an idea."
"Well? What is it, old witch?"
"I know the signal. Maybe I can reopen the gateway."
"Will it bring Lotor back?"
"If he's near it and can cross through the gateway."
"It's worth a shot. Do it."
Lotor finally managed enough courage to ask: "What was that stuff you poured down my throat?"
"It was a potion. One of my own homemade curses, I guess you could call it."
"And what will it do to me?"
"It will change you, rid you of your evil."
"I don't want your riddles!!" he snapped.
"Patience, Lotor. Let me think of how to say this...You know that you are a hybrid, half elf and half Drule, to be exact. Well, this curse will slowly start to pull your Drule side away from your body. Then, your elven side will replace and destroy the Drule side."
Lotor's eyes looked as if they would pop out of his head. "WHAT?!"
"It will make you an elf. Don't worry, there will be no physical pain."
"But...but...I don't want to be an elf!"
"I'm afraid you don't have a choice in this matter. What's done is done."
"Well, UNDO it!"
"I will not." Just then, a flash of light shone in the middle of the room. It grew brighter and brighter, forming a large oval.
"What is that?" Lotor jumped to his feet. "Another one of your magic tricks?"
Mari turned her head and watched the light, a bemused look on her face.
"Hmm, my portal has re-formed. It appears that someone of your world knows a great deal about magic."
"Hagar," Lotor mused. At least she was still good for something. He wondered if he could reach the portal before his aunt could stop him.
"Go on, Lotor," Mari said, as if reading his thoughts, "My work is done. You may leave."
Lotor approached the portal, then turned back. "Well," he declared, "it's been a living hell. You can bet I won't be back any time soon."
"Oh, you'll be back. Once you've changed."
"You think so? On the other side of that portal is a powerful witch. She can break your curse."
Mari smiled slyly. "We'll see." Lotor jumped into the light and disappeared. Moments later, the light faded until the house was dark. Mari sat in the chair, still smiling. "I'll see you soon," she said.
Hagar waited patiently in the prince's outer chambers. As soon as the infirmary released him, Lotor had ordered Hagar to speak with him immediately. She knew it had to be about his experiences on the other side of the gateway, which sparked her curiosity. He hadn't spoken to anyone about what happened yet. She was actually looking forward to meeting with the prince.
A few minutes passed, and Lotor entered his chambers. Hagar watched as the prince, apparently unaware of her presence, took a seat and placed his hands on the sides of his head, deep in thought. His eyes briefly caught sight of Hagar, then shut tight. "Sire?" she dared to speak.
"What is it, old witch?"
"You sent for me, sire."
"I know. Just give me a little time."
"Of course." Hagar moved to sit in a chair opposite the prince. The continuing silence made her grow steadily uneasy as well as more interested in what the prince would say.
Finally, Lotor spoke. He told her everything, from the kidnapping to the cursed drink. Then, he told her of Eko-Parm, of his mother and the strange miracle that had occurred. Hagar absorbed every word of the prince's story. She was very startled by it all; here was the ruthless prince, who had, on several occasions, considered her magic unnecessary, telling her that he had been affected by and might even possess supernatural powers himself.
"So, you are telling me that you are an...elf?" she asked. Though it was far-fetched, it did make sense to Hagar. She had encountered elves in the past. An elven signal could have been what she sensed in the castle earlier.
"Well, that's what my mother and my aunt have told me." Lotor was confused. He thought that Hagar would be cackling her head off at the suggestion, yet she was listening to him.
"Have you told your father what you told me?"
"HIM?" Lotor burst out laughing. "Are you kidding? He would call me crazy in a heartbeat." Lotor rose from his seat and walked to a side table. He poured himself a glass of wine, then returned to the chair, glass in one hand, bottle in the other. He drank the glass of wine in one gulp, then poured another.
"And I wouldn't?" she asked.
"Well, I hoped you would understand this, I mean, being a witch and all."
"It does explain what happened on Eko-Parm, though it's still quite a fantastic story."
"I know. I barely believe it myself."
"How about the doctors? Did they find anything unusual?"
"No, they didn't. But then, Aunt Mari told me it started out slowly. They might not have been able to detect it yet."
"I wouldn't be surprised. Those damn medics don't know half of the time what they're doing anyway." It's amazing that we're talking in such a civilized manner, Hagar thought.
"Why is that amazing, Hagar?" Lotor asked in an irritated tone, "Do you think that I can't talk to you in a civilized fashion?"
"No sire! It's just that we don't often see eye to eye on many..." Hagar realized what had happened.
"What's the matter, old witch?" Lotor asked, taking another sip of wine.
"Sire, I didn't say anything."
"Yes, you did. You were talking about us not seeing eye to..."
"No! No! Before that, sire. The part about talking in a civilized manner. I was thinking that. I didn't say it!"
"You did so."
"No sire! I swear it. You heard my thoughts! Look, tell me what I'm thinking right now." Hagar put her fingertips on her forehead in seemingly intense concentration.
"What?" Lotor couldn't believe what the hag was doing. He laughed at the sight of her trying to project her thoughts to him.
"I told you; you SAID it to me. You must have forgotten!"
"Just tell me what I'm thinking."
"I don't KNOW what you're thinking!" Lotor shouted back, "You're..." His face turned pale.
"What is it, sire?" Hagar asked, "Did you hear what I was thinking?"
"No..." Lotor put his hand to his stomach, "I...I don't feel so good. I feel sick!" Lotor stood up, one hand still pressed to his stomach, the other to his mouth. He tried to run towards his bed chambers, to the bathroom. He couldn't even make it out of the room. Lotor fell to his knees and vomited on the floor.
Hagar stared at the young prince, wondering what she should do. Was he just drunk?
Lotor tried to stand up, but ended up throwing up again and again.
Hagar finally decided that the prince couldn't be drunk and went to the intercom to call the medics. Then, not quite knowing how to comfort him, she took a cloth napkin from the side table and knelt beside Lotor. She carefully pulled his long hair away from his face and wiped his mouth. Sick kids! Ugghhh! His skin looked almost white, and he could only manage short shallow breaths.
"Sire," she said softly, "I've called the medics. They can try to figure out what's making you ill. However, if you think it might be related to...magic, I could take you to my laboratory and run some tests."
"I don't know," Lotor gasped, "I don't know. I'm sick of tests!"
"Well, we can see what the doctors say first, then go from there. Okay?"
"All right. Sure. Whatever. No physical pain. Yeah, right!" Lotor threw up yet again, groaning as the acid burned his throat. "Bubbles," he moaned.
Lotor swallowed: "You were thinking of bubbles."
"Yes," Hagar replied, "That's what I was thinking, all right."
"You're telling me that, all of a sudden, my son has become severely allergic to alcohol? That's the damnedest thing I've ever heard!" King Zarkon entered the infirmary just in time to find out the answer to his son's most recent problem. Needless to say, he was shocked. The kid practically lived on alcohol, and now he was allergic? Not that Zarkon was upset or anything.
"Are you sure you aren't making a mistake?"
"All our analyses point to the same conclusion, sire. There is no mistake."
"Well, that's quite...interesting. Solves the drinking problem lickety-split, doesn't it, Hagar?"
"Yes, sire," Hagar agreed. Although she kept her composure, in the back of her mind, her thoughts were racing. She had dealt with elves before, and she knew of some of their characteristics. The one that stuck out in her head was that, to elves, alcohol was extremely toxic. She had to get Lotor to her lab!
A young female slave entered Hagar's laboratory. She approached the witch and held out a small vial of blood.
"Excellent!" Hagar declared, taking the vial. She needed this older sample of the prince's blood for comparison.
She couldn't just ask the infirmary for the blood. Those idiots would waste time asking all those annoying questions, making her sign forms, and debating in their secret conference rooms. They might even inform the king about her request, something she could not afford at the moment. This particular slave, one of her errand runners, was truly a master thief.
So far, Hagar's tests on Prince Lotor were a dismal failure. Too much of her original equipment was destroyed in Princess Romelle's raid on her first laboratory. She just didn't have the resources she used to. She still blamed King Zarkon and that foolish boy Lotor for the attack on Doom, which sent so many years of hard work down the tubes.
She did put this blame to good use; often reminding the monarch of her devotion and his mistakes. Slowly, through her "guilt trips," Hagar was acquiring new and better supplies. But, even more than just blaming the monarchy, she blamed herself for not taking more care to protect her precious irreplaceable equipment. At least now she had safe boxes installed for the salvaged and new items, just in case.
She only hoped that this new idea would work. Hagar carried the blood sample into her robeast chamber. She had converted the crystals in the room to scan instead of mutate. After over two hours, they still didn't register anything wrong with the prince. Oh, how she wished she had her old equipment.
"Why don't you just get new stuff?" Lotor was shackled to the table as the crystals hummed about his body. He was very annoyed that he had gone from one set of damn bonds to another.
Hagar mumbled something about putting up a mind shield. "Because, my old equipment was rare and took years of work and energy to create. You can't just replace it." She rechecked the settings on the scanner. "At least, not without sufficient funds," she added.
"Don't ask me. I haven't gotten my allowance yet."
"Look, can't you just run the tests without these chains? I can stay still on my own."
"You'd wriggle like a daggersnake, and you know it."
"I feel like one of your monsters."
"Tough! This is delicate equipment! It's not as effective as my old..."
"If you really want more funds, I'll see what I can do. Okay?"
"Nice try," Hagar told the prince, "but I still can't unshackle you."
"I'm getting cramps," he complained.
"Now, your Highness, I'll need to take a blood sample from you."
"And why is that?"
"I'm going to test it against an earlier sample. If I can find something different in your blood, then I can use it to tune the scanners more accurately."
"Will the fun never end?"
"Do you want my help or not?" With Lotor's silent nod of assent as his answer, she produced a sample vial and a thin sharp knife.
Lotor really wished she would learn to use a needle. With a few pokes of her fingers and a quick thrust of the knife, Hagar pierced the prince's arm. Through her years of practice, she had gotten extremely accurate at hitting veins.
"Hagar! Old witch, where are you?" Zarkon stormed into the laboratory to figure out personally what the hell his witch was doing this time.
Word had reached him that she was performing magical experiments without his knowledge. He had let it slip in the past, but it was just getting too frequent nowadays.
Hagar dropped an armload of books in shock of the king's arrival. "Sire! What an unexpected surprise! Is something wrong?"
"I've told you before, witch. You must inform me of this new magical...stuff you do."
"Sire," she tried to explain while scrambling for the books, "I was just..."
"And what is my son doing in your monster chamber?"
"He...uh..." But, Zarkon was already heading for the room. Hagar left her books and raced after him, opening the door for the monarch.
"Sire, I can explain!"
"It better be good, old witch. Lotor?" Zarkon turned his attention to his son. "What are you doing in here; playing target practice?" The king's eyes rested on the large hole burned into one of the walls. Lotor just sat on the edge of the table, staring at the still smoking cavity. "Speak up, boy!"
"OUT WITH IT, YOU BRAT!!" Lotor didn't need his heightened mind senses to tell him his father was pretty mad at the moment. Slowly, he rose from the table's edge and approached Zarkon. The prince held his hands out, palms facing the king. Both of them were charred black.
"What's wrong with your hands?"
"They're burned!" Lotor answered, stating the obvious.
Zarkon rolled his eyes: "I know THAT! How did they get that way?"
"Sire? Prince Lotor? If I may?" Hagar asked, "You see, I was running some tests on your son..."
"TESTS? What tests?"
"I'll...I'll get to that part, sire. But, you see, I had Prince Lotor chained up, so that the equipment would work better..."
"You CHAINED my son up?"
"Well, only temporarily. But, that idiot Cossack stumbled in here and saw the prince shackled. Of course, I unchained him immediately, but Cossack proceeded to taunt the prince and...well..."
Lotor decided to finished the story: "I got angry with him," he said. "I don't know exactly what happened, but it felt like the rage just built and flowed from my head down my arms. The next thing I knew, this power, like a blue fire, came out of my hands." Lotor shook his head. "I don't know how else to explain it," he added.
"And that caused the umm..." Zarkon pointed at the hole.
"If that isn't the most half-baked, lame excuse..."
"It's true, sire!" Hagar insisted, "I saw it happen."
"What is this: 'Play the king for a fool' day?"
"And how did my son get this 'power,' old witch? Have you been casting magic spells over him?"
"No! It happened beyond the portal! Before he came here!"
As the king and witch argued on and on, Lotor attempted to interrupt, but was ignored by both. "FATHER!!!" he finally yelled, instantly ceasing the quarrel, "Will you please LISTEN to me?"
"Oh, so the idiot son wishes to speak!"
Lotor decided to use the direct approach: "I'm an elf!"
For the next few minutes, the room was deathly quiet.
"What?" Zarkon asked, wondering if he could have misunderstood his son's words.
"I am an elf."
Zarkon stared at the prince. "Son, you've really flipped this time."
"I told you he wouldn't believe me!" Lotor reminded Hagar as his father continued to laugh quite heavily.
They had both attempted to retell the entire history of the ordeal with Mari and the time in the cold cell, but the king was often too busy laughing to hear it.
"Okay!" Zarkon managed through his chortles, "So, the closest insane asylum is..."
"Sire! He is NOT crazy! I can confirm it with my tests; his entire body is shifting to a purely elven form!"
"Hagar," Zarkon put his arm aroung the witch's shoulder in mock kindness, "I am truly grateful for the fact that you are humoring my lunatic son."
"FATHER!!" Lotor felt his anger rising again, felt the eerie force growing.
"Oh, so your mother was an elf?" Zarkon continued, "I married an ELF? She was a human! A plain and simple HUMAN, you dimwit!"
"She was NOT!"
"What the hell is an elf, anyway? One of those pixie fairies that collects little kid's teeth and leaves them coins?"
"Sire," Hagar explained, "Elves are very strong magical creatures. They have lived alongside humans for as far back as I can remember. It is possible..."
"Old wives' tales, Hagar! Don't insult my intelligence!"
"It's the TRUTH!!" Lotor snapped, glaring at his father. He didn't notice that the monarch's feet no longer touched the ground.
"Oh, really?" Zarkon asked haughtily. Lotor was so furious, he could no longer stand to look at him. The king then ascended another several inches.
"Perhaps you..." Zarkon paused, noticing that he had seemingly increased in height during the last few seconds. Hagar noticed the oddity as well.
"Sire?" She stared wide-eyed as the king continued to rise into the air.
As the scary realization hit that his son might not be crazy after all, Zarkon did something he hadn't in a long time: he panicked. "LOTOR!!!" he screamed at the top of his lungs.
Lotor turned to face his father. "Father, you don't have to yell at...where are you?" He looked around the room.
"Uh, Prince Lotor," Hagar began. She pointed at the ceiling with her forefinger.
"I'm up here, you dolt!"
"Up where?" Lotor questioned.
"What did you do to me? How did you do this? UP HERE!!! LOOK UP, YOU FOOL!!!"
Lotor's eyes finally located his father, floating in mid air? "FATHER?"
"Lotor! Get me down!" Zarkon flailed wildly, trying to grab hold of something.
Lotor could only stare at his levitated father.
"Did I do THAT?" Lotor asked out loud.
"I...I DID THAT?" Lotor began to laugh.
"HAGAR!!! GET ME DOWN!!!!"
"Lotor," Hagar coaxed, "Put your father down...that's it, just put...SLOWLY!!! Put him down SLOWLY!!"
Zarkon hit the floor squarely on his posterior. "Argghhh! My tailbone!" he screamed.
Lotor was near a fit of hysterical chuckles. "Father, I...sorry, but you must believe me! I'm an e..."
"I BELIEVE YOU!! I believe you! Oh great! This is just..."On to Part 2