Six Daysby Dr. Kat
Chapter One - Red-eyed Dragon
Sharp red eyes glowed through the black. The outline of a large mouth became visible, its pointed teeth a gleaming white. A large clawed hand swooped down and picked up the struggling prince.
"No!" His son. "NO!!!" He made a grab for his son's hand and tried with all his might to pull him out of the claws. "Let him go!"
Then, the dark parted, and he saw what it was. An enormous outline traced the golden-black monster. Gold scales and claws glinted against the ebony body. Thick black wings spread across the sky. And it grinned horribly at the little man trying to fight it.
His hands slipped away, and he fell to the ground. The dragon laughed, lifting its prize and swallowing it before the father's eyes. Then, it grinned again, its teeth red with blood, its red eyes burning his melted stone heart.
The father screamed in terror and in loss. "My son! My son..."
The magic spells of the elf called Mari faded a few hours after she had left. Freed from the blue sphere, Zarkon immediately ordered for all of Doom to be scoured for the missing prince. No ships were absent, so he could not have left the planet... maybe. With supernatural powers at work, it was hard to tell. No sign of him in the castle. No sign outside. Some of the sentries even risked entering the strange forest, but again none came back out. There was just not a trace to be found.
Meanwhile the king...
Well, no one quite knew what had happened after they had left the king alone in his chambers. It was a while before anyone even dared approach Zarkon because of his earlier, rather violent temper display. Later that night, a little after the castle's power was finally restored, Hagar was informed his breakdown was quite severe, and that the king would be confined to his bed for at least two weeks.
She entered the chambers to find him tossing restlessly in his bed.
"No sire, it's Hagar. Can you hear me?"
"My son... my son," he mumbled.
"We'll get him back," Hagar assured him. "I don't know how, but we'll..."
"The dragon... devoured my son..."
"Just try to rest."
"Give him back... give..." The king fell unconscious.
Hagar approached his sleeping form and placed her clawed hand on his forehead. She looked and looked. His body seemed healthy. There was no bleeding in his brain anymore, and the tissue wasn't severely damaged. Rather, it was his mind that was ill. He had been so overwhelmed and stressed that his mind couldn't take it and crashed. She removed her hand. In this case, there was nothing she could do. Aside from the relaxants and other medications, Zarkon would just have to somehow snap out of it. Hagar left him to recover, hopefully.
She had never seen him like this. He was broken. It actually began to frighten the witch. As the closest advisor to the king, she could act in Zarkon's place for awhile, but she knew what would happen if he did not regain his sanity or died. And if there was no heir, all the stability of the empire would crumble under those power-hungry officers and governors. Mass chaos throughout the galaxy: what could possibly be worse? Hagar's eyes suddenly widened in horror.
"Kitty!" she screamed. "Oh, no! I left kitty on Arus!"
The forest about her was changing. The gray mist of Doom vanished, as did the harsh, dusty earth. The trees seemed to multiply before her eyes, as did the plants. The forest floor became thick with rich soil, flowers, and fallen leaves. Life was everywhere.
But why was it silent? She could see the trees swaying in the breeze. She could feel the wind as well, but it did not make a sound.
The red-haired woman vanished into thin air soon after attacking. Allura felt the arrow enter her arm and feared she would share Lotor's fate, yet her eyes were just fine. She saw the woman vanish, saw the forest transform. Maybe she had pulled out the arrow just in time. The princess crouched down near the blind prince. She would have to be his eyes, she thought. She would have to tell him what she saw.
"Lotor, this place is changing..."
What was happening? She could have sworn she said it. She had felt her voice box resonate with the words. Why hadn't she hear them, then? Allura put her hand to her throat and said: "Aaaaaa...." Her throat vibrated soundlessly. Beginning to severely worry, she screamed as loud as she could. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Lotor grab his ears in pain.
"Damn it! What are you screaming for?!!" he shouted. "Do you see something?!" He tried to reach for Allura, but only ended up grasping air.
He became worried. "What's going on?! Allura, WHERE ARE YOU?!!"
Allura couldn't hear Lotor's cries to her. She couldn't even hear her own scream. She couldn't hear anything. Terrified, she turned to Lotor and saw him still trying to find her. She quickly took hold of his hands. Lotor couldn't see the tears forming in her eyes, but he could hear the shaking in her voice as she uttered: "I'm deaf."
Chapter Two - Next Trial
Allura couldn't hear. He couldn't see. And there was a stranger hunting them in the forest. "Well, this is just ducky," Lotor grumbled.
"WHAT?" came shattering through his eardrums. "LOTOR, I CAN'T HEAR YOU! I'M DEAF!"
"I'll be deaf too if you keep screaming," he snapped, plugging his ears.
"WHY ARE YOU..." She made the connection. "OH! Sorry."
Allura attempted to talk more softly, to the best of her knowledge. "I can't tell how loud... I'm sorry... I... It's crazy talking but not hearing a..."
Lotor heard a few sobs. Why was she crying? At least SHE could see! But, she's upset. It suddenly registered in his mind, and for a minute, he forgot his own problem. He was able to find her arm and squeezed it gently, trying to get through that... that he was there. He was blind, but he was there. Then, he began to think: how could he communicate with her? What should they do? Well, she could see, so... He reached to his pull his laser sword out of the sheath. He turned the hilt towards what he thought was Allura. He heard her sniff. "Why are you taking out your sword?" she asked. He reached out towards her and found her arm, then tried to place the hilt in her hand.
"No... wa... wait. Lotor, I can't use a sword!" He felt her pushing the sword back to him, trying to re-sheathe it. And he pushed it back at her.
"No!" she said firmly.
He nodded his head in defiance.
"Lotor, I can't USE it! I'm no good at swords! You're the one who knows how to fight with it!"
Lotor growled in anger. "But, I CAN'T SEE!!" he snapped.
"RRrrrggg..." This was INSANITY! I can't communicate with... maybe I can. But how, dammit?! What do I... just think a minute. Signs! I can do signs... Lotor pointed at himself.
"You...?" She understood. The prince thought, then pointed at his eyes.
"Eyes? Oh! See...? Yes, I know you can't see! But, I can't take it. You're probably still a better fighter blind than I will ever be."
Lotor sighed in defeat, and re-sheathed the sword. So much for that plan. The crazy girl... No, she isn't. She's scared, and she's right. Wait... He was in royal clothes, wasn't he? That would mean... He reached into his jacket and smiled as he felt the hidden dagger. He removed it and offered this to Allura.
He didn't hear anything for a moment. Then, he felt her hand take hold of the hilt. "All right," she told him. "All right." She pulled the dagger from his hand.
Just then, Lotor's ears perked at the sound of laughter. "Now this is going to be fun!" came the same voice he had heard earlier. He pulled out the sword and stood up, trying to figure out where the sound came from.
"What is it?" Allura asked. Lotor pointed to himself, then to his ear.
"You hear something? What do you hear?" He thought for a minute, then traced something in the air with his free hand. "Don't you have any better way to put it?" she asked in a tone of disgust. He shrugged, then pointed to her, then to his eyes, then did the outline again.
"No. I do not see 'the woman,'" she replied. He smirked in spite of himself.
"Poor little children..." came the voice. The prince's face became serious. She was behind him! Lotor whipped around and pointed ahead. Allura looked where he pointed. "There's no one there," she told him.
"Are you lost?" Now the voice was to his right.
"Lotor, I don't see anyone!"
"Will you find your way out?"
"Wait!" Allura exclaimed. "Now, I see something! I see a light... Well, a glow of some sort."
"Will you even be able to find each other? I wonder..."
He had heard Allura scream, then a loud rush of air. He felt as if he were spinning in all directions, being pulled this way and that. The next thing Lotor knew, he was falling, then hitting the ground on his front. He heard himself groan in pain. He also heard a loud crunch beneath his waist as the skull shattered on impact.
He lay on the ground for a moment, catching his breath. Then, he forced himself to sit up and listen. Wind. Leaves rustling. But no sound of Allura. He started waving his arms in the air. Maybe she had landed nearby and could see him.
"I'm sorry, lad. No golden-haired girls nearby."
"You..." The woman! "You unholy BITCH!!!" he declared in anger. "I'll kill... But who are you? Why are you doing this to us?" came a suddenly calmer tone. "Ahhhh!!" Lotor grabbed his head. It had happened again! It was as if his mind had rapidly swung from one side to the other. From Drule to elf... From anger and action to reason and curiosity... It kept happening! Back and forth...
"You seem to have a problem. Your mind playing tricks on you?"
So, she knew, thought Lotor. Who cares?! But that meant she would have to have known about the curse and... So what!!! "Stop it!!" he yelled out loud. Stop shifting... But she must know your aunt! "You know my aunt?" he asked, giving in to the elven side.
Get up and fight! Be calm. Kill her! Be calm! All these thoughts...
"Where is Allura?"
"In another part of the forest."
"Bring her... you... why are..."
"Can't you even form a sentence?" He could hear her approaching him. "She told me you would be like this. Oh well, I guess I'll do the talking then: "This, Prince Lotor, is a forest. And I am its guardian. Forest Dweller, if you will. Now, I don't like people messing with my forest. So if intruders enter, I usually make quick work of them. But, in your case, I am making an exception. Call it a game: you have six days to get out. If you do, you are free. If you don't, you are stuck here with all the others."
"Allura?" Lotor questioned.
"She is also playing the game. It's a two-player game."
"My sight? Allura's hearing?"
"All part of the game. But, you know, my forest could probably cure those pretty gold eyes of yours. Unfortunately, you can't see the cure. And Princess Allura can't hear hers either." The Forest Dweller chuckled. "Well, I see it's sunrise on the first day." She kicked something towards the prince. "Keep track of time." Lotor heard a rush of wind, then only the sounds of the forest.
Great! Lotor stood up, breaking off the remnants of the skull from the buckle. A game. She wanted a game. Couldn't she just settle for cards or... Shit! His sword wasn't there. He had had it in his hand. It must have fallen out somewhere.
Then, he remember the sound of the Dweller kicking an object towards him. Maybe... He reached down with his hands and scoured the surface of the grass.
"Oww... you stupid!" He pulled back his singed fingers, shook out the burning sensation, then felt around more carefully to find the hilt. Well, at least he had his sword back.
Now, which way? He could feel the sun on his face. Hmmm, well, I guess it was towards the rising sun. But, Allura? How could he find Allura? Where was she? Come on, think, he told himself. She can see, so... give her something to see. But what? He started to pace a little, and ended up slamming into a tree. "Talk about an idea hitting you," he mumbled, rubbing his nose. "Let's hear it for stupid jokes." With that, he took out his laser sword and sliced a crude arrow into the trunk, along with an "L." He felt his handiwork with his fingers and figured it would have to do.
The red-haired woman who called herself Forest Dweller, stood in front of the princess. Allura shook off the fall, then stood up staring in surprise at the woman. She could hear her. Allura could hear the Dweller talking through her mind.
"Six days?" Allura thought.
"Six days." the Dweller replied.
And she could hear Allura, too. "Why do this?" asked the princess.
"It's a favor."
"...for the one who gave me this land."
Doom land? "Zarkon?!" the princess questioned in horror.
"Who's that now? I don't know any... Oh, enough chit-chat. It's sunrise. Good luck, Princess."
"But WHO?!" Allura insisted. A gust of wind caught up the figure of the red-haired woman and whisked her away.
"You know who," the Dweller told her as she left. "And you know why."
But, I don't know anyone who would do... besides Mari, Allura realized. But, why would she do this. She had said there was another trial? But, to what end? Why such a freakish game?
And where was Lotor? The Dweller said he was in another part of the forest. Allura looked around. The sun. This definitely wasn't Doom. The sun was bright and warm here. And the forest seemed to go on forever everywhere. It's absolutely beautiful, she thought, then shook off the awe. She had to find Lotor! But which way? Well, I guess towards the sunrise is as best a way as any, she reasoned. Just keep looking for him. She started forward. Just keep looking.
This was ludicrous! He tried to keep going forward, but, with the sun now above him, he could be going in circles for all he knew. Well, wherever he was going, the progress was slow. As soon as Lotor had first started walking, he had tripped and fallen on an exposed root. Then, on a rock; that was a bit more painful. To avoid falling off a cliff or another such catastrophe, he had fashioned a walking stick out of a tree branch and used it to try and find any obstacles in front of him. It took some time (and a few more rocks) for him to be able to use it decently, but now he was actually managing quite well.
If only he knew where he was going. If only he could SEE! His growing frustration caused that terrible mind shifting to reoccur. He found himself preparing to attack at the slightest rustle, then, a second afterwards absolutely relishing the smell of the forest and the sound of rustling leaves. And through it all, he was becoming increasingly thirsty.
The sound of water gave him hope. It was close by. After marking another tree, he strayed from his path towards the source. He heard a splash as his walking stick hit the water, and he knelt to drink. It seemed to be a stream; it wasn't too deep. He splashed his face several times, wished in vain that he had a canteen to fill, then headed back to find the tree.
"Where are you?" He walked around in a small circle. "I know there's a tree here somewhere." Damn it! Where is it?! I should have taken more care when leaving my path! Don't you remember anything you learned in the academy, he reprimanded himself. If I calm down, I'll find it, came the other side of his mind. No, you idiot, you should have stayed on the path! Oh great, now he was arguing with himself!
Plus, he was not paying attention to where he was walking "Oww!" Another fucking rock! "Arrgghh, I'll have bruises all over my legs at this rate."
He bent to rub his shin, and realized that, besides the new spot, his legs actually did not feel all that sore. I must still be able to heal fast, he reasoned. Then, he became angry again.
"I'm half elf, aren't I?!" he questioned aloud. "Shouldn't I be able to heal my eyes, too? Damn it all!"
"Well, maybe if you used the elven part of your mind properly, you could."
"What?!" Lotor raised his sword at the sound of the voice, then turned around trying to find the intruder. "Who's there? Where are you?"
"Then again, if you think about it, the Forest Dweller probably knows that you're half elf and compensated for it." The voice sounded like it was all around him!
"Where are you?!"
"In here," the voice said.
"In your mind." Lotor stopped in his search for the stranger, his eyes and mouth wide open. In my MIND??? He put his hand to his head. "That's right, in here."
"I'm cracking up!" he moaned in despair. But, he did feel dizzy in his mind. Maybe...but that was ridiculous!
"You're damn right, Lotor, it is," came another voice, which was harsher, yet not as loud as the first. "But, here we are anyway."
ANOTHER ONE??? "Um, oKAY, um..." Lotor held out the walking stick at full arm's length. It only hit air.
"I'm not out there, you moron," it insisted, "I'm in here."
"Me too," came the first voice.
He felt very dizzy now. Like something was pulling inside his brain. "Look, whoever you two are, I'm having enough trouble as it is without having to hallucinate as well, so could you..."
"Hallucinate? You think we're figments?" asked the first voice.
"...stop..." Lotor began to giggle maniacally.
"It's your fault you know," the second voice said to the first. "There I was having a grand old time, and you had to come back and cause trouble."
"Me?! You were the one who..."
"STOP TALKING!!! JUST STOP TALKING!!!" Lotor felt near to panicking.
Then, the voices stopped. Lotor stood very still, listening intently.
Nothing. They were gone. Thank the gods!
"Do you think we can talk now?" came a soft voice.
"I don't know.
Lotor, can we talk again?"
Chapter three is missing, sorry!On to Day Two