Six Daysby Dr. Kat
Chapter Four - Silent Forest, Dark Woods
A week had passed since the prince's disappearance. Zarkon was still unreachable, barely ever conscious. Hagar had tried to delve into his mind and find him but had no success. It was as if his mind was engaged and couldn't be distracted.
That day, a little after sunrise, Hagar observed the doctor's morning visit. Doctor Jannick finished and turned to leave. As he passed the witch, he shrugged and shook his head slightly. Hagar sighed and rose to leave.
"My son..." She turned around.
"Sire?" Zarkon's head moved slightly and a moan was heard. Hagar quickly approached the bed. "Sire, can you hear me?"
"Yes, sire! It is Hagar, sire! JANNICK! Sire..."
Jannick opened his portable medical kit. "Keep him talking," he urged.
"We'll find him, sire. You know we will."
"I know...in the forest."
"Where they are. They're in the forest...the dragon said they were...in the forest. My son..."
Allura was relieved when the sun finally rose. That night seemed to last forever. She was happy just that she made it to see another day. She kicked some more dirt over the dead fire before leaving to follow the sun once more.
Ehg, Allura thought to herself, I feel all sticky. I must look a fright. Not that it matters here. Still, the princess searched for some water. She had seen a stream yesterday and stopped for a drink several times. Was it still running near her?
After a little hunting, she did indeed find the stream again. She took off her jacket and proceeded to wash herself as best as she could, always keeping an eye out for any silent creatures that might again creep up on her. Feeling a little better, she left the stream, jacket slung over one shoulder and dagger in hand.
The day was becoming very warm, just like yesterday. The water clinging to her skin and clothes soon dried. It was the second day. Six days... and how the hell was she supposed to go to get out of here?! The Dweller could have at least given a map. Was she even headed in the right direction? Allura felt her stomach growl. And was there food?
Just then, Allura saw a glint of light. "Lotor?!" she questioned in hope. The light flashed every time the sun hit the unknown object. "Lotor, is that you? Follow my voice, Lotor!" But, the object stayed in the same place. Quickly, Allura maneuvered through the forest towards the light.
There was no Lotor. But there was the object, wedged in a tree. Allura broke off some twigs and pulled it out. It was a large laser gun; it looked like a Doom soldier's weapon. But, it had been melted and bent in half. Why is there a... Allura abruptly paused in her contemplation as she stared at the tree in front of her. Oh my... She backed up, still gaping. The words the Dweller had thought came back to her: "You are very lucky. Usually, I make quick work of those who enter my realm." Allura dropped the gun and hurried away from the tree, from that face of terror frozen in its bark.
Zarkon must have sent people to investigate. And that's how they'd ended up? Allura could only imagine what kind of woman the Dweller was. How many Doom soldiers had ended up like this anyway, she wondered. And was this another one?!
Allura pushed her way through some saplings and approached another large tree. Something on the tree was black while the rest of the bark was light tan. But it wasn't a face. It looked almost like it was burned. As the princess reached the tree a smile came to her lips followed by a silent cry of joy. "Lotor!"
He awoke to darkness. It was hot, but he felt a lot better having rested. Lotor pulled off the cape and sat up. What time was it? Morning? Afternoon? He felt a pang of hunger. Oh yeah, he hadn't eaten anything.
"Lotor..." Lotor stood up abruptly at the voice. What was that? Did someone just say...
"Allura!" he yelled upon hearing his name. She was...! Then, he banged his palm on his head. "Stupid. Stupid. Stupid!" he reprimanded himself. "She can't hear you!"
"LOTOR!! WHERE ARE YOU?!" After fumbling for his walking stick, Lotor headed off in the direction of Allura's voice. Hopefully, she would see him approaching...
It was then that Lotor heard another sound. He stopped briefly to listen. It seemed like a low growl, but the sound of Allura's voice eventually persuaded him to keep heading forward. Where was she? He froze again. He had heard a snapping of twigs.
"Didn't you hear that, you idiot?!"
"Oh, not you again," Lotor groaned upon hearing that Drule part's voice. They were back. "Leave me alone!"
"Not so loud," it hissed. "Don't you hear that sound?"
"Yes, I do," the prince whispered. "But, you always have me overreacting to the slightest sound."
"That's true," commented the elf. "Good day to you, Lotor!"
"Hi, elf," he moaned.
"She's closer!" the elf said excitedly. "Keep going!"
"But that other sound," the Drule warned. It was true. Lotor again heard the growl. What was it? An animal? He turned to listen more carefully...
He nearly jumped as he felt something grab him. "Ahh! LET ME..."
"LOTOR!!" ALLURA! Her arms hugged him tight. "OH LOTOR!! You don't know how glad I am to...what's wrong?" For some reason, he looked concerned. As she removed her arms, he pointed to her, then to his eyes, and then spread his arms out. "Do I see...? See anything? No, I don't. Just trees. Why?" Lotor sighed, then smiled and took Allura up in a strong embrace. She rested her head against his chest. "I missed you, too," she told him.
Chapter Five - Change of Scenery
"You're okay about this?" the elf questioned. "You don't think we're figments anymore?"
"Well, from what I've been through in the past few weeks, I guess this isn't any stranger than usual." Lotor turned his head away from Allura to make sure she didn't see him talking to the mind creatures. The two 'real' people had decided to continue on their journey towards the rising sun and hope for the best. Heck, it led them to each other, so it couldn't be that bad of a direction. Allura told Lotor of the Drule soldier she had seen and the finding of the prince's arrows. Lotor tried his best to act out what had happened to him, leaving out the mentor factors. Now, they just walked silently, Lotor's arm on the princess' shoulder, looking and listening for any sign of this nightmare coming to an end.
"Okay, elf, on with the story, please," the Drule grumbled.
"So anyway, Allura took him back to Arus in Blue Lion. Once there..."
"Uh, guys, please," Lotor interrupted, "a little quieter? I do still have to keep in touch with the outside world."
"Well, I want to find out what went on while I was pulled away and crammed into that..."
"Oh, come on, Drule!" the elf protested. "Be a little courteous. I'll talk softer, Lotor."
"'I'll talk softer, Lotor,'" the Drule mimicked sarcastically. "Quit being a moron."
"Quit being mean."
"SHUT UP!!!" Lotor gripped his head and fell against Allura as another dizzy spell overtook him.
Allura stared in astonishment at the rather strange actions. "Lotor, are you all right?" she asked. She saw the prince pale, then flush in embarrassment. He quickly righted himself and nodded his head. "Are you sure?" Another head nod. "Okay, if you say so." But, Allura knew him better by now. She would have to watch him.
As the sun rose to the middle of the sky, Allura realized the difference in the surroundings. She stopped to be sure and felt Lotor shaking her shoulder in confusion. "This is a new place," she tried to explain. "It's not like the forest before. There are more small plants. The trees are not as full, and their branches hang over very low. There are lots of vines on the trees, too." She started to walk again and felt the squish beneath her foot. "Eww," she moaned, pulling her foot up with a sucking sound, "and the ground is becoming muddy."
Lotor bent down to feel the slimy earth. It seems that this magical forest also holds a swamp, he pondered. He stood up and tried to move, only to find his feet had sunk into the mud. "This is nice," he mumbled as he pulled. But, his feet wouldn't budge.
"Lotor. You're... You're stuck in the..." The prince felt Allura grab his arms and pull, trying to free him. "I can't... get you... loose..." It was then that Lotor felt the saturated ground fully give way. "LOTOR!!!"
His hands slipped from the princess' grasp and now clawed at the slanted wall of goo. Down he slid, along with chunks of rock and soil, until he heard a splash and felt himself sitting waist high in thick muddy water. Lotor pulled his cape from off of his head. He could only imagine how absolutely filthy he must look right now.
"LOTOR!!!" Allura searched in vain through the darkness and haze. "Lotor, where are you?! A big hole just opened up underneath you! Are you all right?!" With no sight of him, the princess wondered if she should follow him down the slick slide. As she continued to look, Allura noticed that the hole had opened near an larger chasm just beyond her. The brittle mud layer was still crumbing, enlarging the hole and bringing it closer to contact with the chasm. Finally, the hole met. Huge portions of earth fell, and the mud slide became a sheer wall.
So much for following him... "LOTOR!!!" she yelled again into the gaping void. Finally, she saw a blue light shining through the thick haze. "Lotor! You're all right!" Allura walked to the edge of the chasm. "Lotor, I can't follow you! The wall is too steep!" She looked ahead of her at the growing swampland. "Lotor! I'm going to find a way to reach you! If you can, keep walking forward! Keep walking towards my voice!" Then, Allura headed along the side of the gorge, searching for some way to reach the prince.
"You should get another walking stick. You'll need it in case you run into any more sinking mud."
Lotor felt along the walls of the chasm with his left hand while grasping his sword with his right. "Look, can't you lay off the advice giving?" he yelled. "I'm trying to find a way out!"
"Sorry, Lotor. It's our job."
"Fine." The prince waded through the muddy water while groping around him and eventually felt a gnarled tree trunk. He reached up to snap off a branch. "Satisfied?"
"Don't be so angry. We have to give you advice. It's what we do."
Lotor heard Allura's voice again and started towards it, feeling along the wall. "Like an angel and a devil perched on my shoulders," he muttered.
"Hey!" the Drule protested. "I'm not a DEVIL! I can do things..."
"No... No, I think that's a fitting description," the elf chimed in.
"Come on! I'm not always wrong!"
"Not always wrong? Excuse me?! Shall I start listing in alphabetical order all the..."
"Hey! Hey!! Stop!!" Lotor leaned on his walking stick. "You guys... Please, it makes me dizzy to hear you fighting!"
"Sorry, Lotor," the elf apologized.
"You should tell me you're sorry too, elf," grumbled the Drule.
"Drule!" Lotor warned.
"I'm not always wrong! Don't make me out to be evil incarnate!"
"Drule!" Lotor lost his balance and fell to his knees. "Stop it!"
"I can think things through, too! I can make wise..."
"I'm sorry, Drule," the elf apologized.
"You're just saying that to make me stop..."
"Well, if you want to prove to us that you can make wise decisions, you could always decide to apologize to Lotor and stop this stupid fight."
"...okay. I'm sorry. Happy?" Both voices suddenly disappeared.
"Very," Lotor breathed, his head clearing.
Chapter Six is missing, but it's the last missing chapter.
Chapter Seven - Making Sense
"Oh, how beautiful the wind sounds! Oh, I'm so happy to hear! Lotor? Lotor, thank you so much!" Allura hugged the prince tightly.
"Yeah," he mumbled.
"And since you were able to hear the cure for me, I should be able to see your cure. It must be something that catches my eyes, just like that grass caught your attention. Right?"
"Are you all right...?"
"Why do you keep asking me that?!" Lotor snapped, raising his head. "I'm FINE! I'm perfectly fine!"
"Well, you could sure fool me." She looked at him, noticing the tension between his eyes and in his lower jaw. "I'll FIND the cure, Lotor. I will."
"Well, good for you," he sighed. "Until then, I'll just be led around like a two year old child with a fucking hole in its leg!"
Allura was silent, stung by his words. "Lotor, why are you talking like this?" she asked softly.
"How would you like to not be able to see?" he snorted.
The princess sensed a twinge of anger rising in her. "Well, how would you like to not hear, huh? Don't think I haven't been through quite a bit, too!"
Lotor fingered the rocks at his legs. "Just forget it," he told her. "I barely give a shit anymore anyway." His hand slammed on the ground. "This is so STUPID! I'm so damn useless!" The hand raised to pinch the skin between his eyes. "I wish all of this had never happened."
Allura felt her heart sink. "You wish you hadn't met your aunt and remembered... you wish..."
Lotor grasped a small rock and brought it to his knee. "To the mountains of hell with her." He chucked the pebble. "To the mountains of hell with all of us."
"...you hadn't met me?" Her voice was almost a whisper as bitter tears coursed down her cheeks. Allura stood up. "It's a beautiful night," she said sniffing. "There are all these stars..."
"As if I can see them." But, Allura did not answer. Lotor did not care. He sat in silence, thinking of nothing but the old familiar quiescent fury.
"Lotor?" The voice was not Allura's. "Lotor, why are you so angry?"
"How should I know, elf," he spat.
"You hurt her feelings. You should say you're sorry."
"Why should I listen to you?! You were wrong!"
The elf was quiet. "Yes," it finally said, "I was wrong, Lotor. You're not perfect, and neither am I. And neither is the Drule."
"I thought you were the 'better half.'" Lotor touched the throbbing wound once more. "Shows how much I know."
"Sure does! Look what happens when you listen to him!" The Drule sounded proud of the events.
"I could have been killed... all that time, I thought you were the best. I was so happy there on Arus after... and I could have died at the hands of that thing in that swamp!"
"Go away!" he shouted. "Elf, just go away!"
"No! Lotor, please don't shove me aside. Not now! I may be your better half, but I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. I'm sorry, but I do."
"Some excuse," ridiculed the Drule. "See how weak he is, Lotor? I told you."
"Go away, elf."
"Lotor, listen to yourself! I'm sorry I was wrong, but LISTEN! You're breaking down everything you've worked for! You're losing your respect! You're losing Allura!"
"Allura?" the Drule questioned. "Allura's gone?"
"You would have noticed it sooner if you hadn't been so blind." commented the elf.
Allura? Lotor raised his head to listen. He couldn't hear any sign of her. "ALLURA?" No voice responded. "Where is she?"
"Who knows? We can't see, just like you."
"Well, we have to get her back!" yelled the Drule.
"I know," the elf replied.
"How?" asked Lotor.
"How do you think?" The two mentors were once again fading away in his mind. "Lotor?" the elf pleaded in a tone barely audible. "Please respect her?" There was that word again. Respect. "Please?"
Respect. Respect. I was yelling at her. And she had helped me. She was there for me, all this time. Even when I wanted back my Drule side. She's here because of me. Because she cared and... "What was I thinking? Oh... I'M AN IDIOT!!!" he yelled out. He wasn't thinking; acting just like he used to.
"ALLURA!!!" Lotor stood up and slowly walked towards the direction he had last heard Allura's voice. "Allura! Please say something! I can't see you, you know! Please tell me where you are!"
Farther off, Allura sat fighting back her tears. He hadn't changed. She shut her eyes tight against the emotion. He was just the same as he was. He didn't care for anyone. Oh, why did he have to get his Drule side back? It ruined everything they might have had.
"ALLURA!!!" He was still trying to find her. She was still not responding. If only he would be considerate! If only he would say... "I'M SORRY!!!" Allura's eyes opened. He apologized? "I'm VERY VERY SORRY!!! I wasn't THINKING!"
Lotor listened, then sat down. Think about her experience, he told himself. How would you feel if you were suddenly unable to hear. "You probably had a horrible time being deaf. You couldn't hear any danger until it crept up behind you and tapped you on the shoulder." He paused, finally understanding. "You probably didn't get any sleep, wondering if something would attack you in the night."
"You're right, I didn't," came a voice beside him.
"Allura!! Oh, thank the heavens!"
"I'm really really sorry!"
"I'm a fool, a moron, a..."
"self centered, idiotic..."
"Lotor, 'I'm sorry' is enough!"
"What is it?"
"I'm sorry to disturb you, but do you feel up to listening to a transmission?"
The king slowly raised himself to a sitting position. "Fine."
Coran's face appeared on the screen. "Why have you been avoiding my transmissions, King Zarkon?!" he shouted at the monarch.
"I've been slightly... preoccupied," he replied in an exhausted tone. Zarkon did not look well, Coran noticed. His eyes had thick dark circles surrounding them. He seemed very very tired. He did not give the appearance of a ruler. Even his voice had lost all sound of command.
Still, it did not distract Coran from his purpose. "Where is our princess?!" he demanded.
There was a pause. "With my son," the king mumbled.
"Where is Lotor?"
Zarkon shut his eyes. "In the forest."
"What forest?" No reply. "Zarkon, you bring them to the screen! Let me know at least that they're alive!"
"You don't know how much I wish I could do that," Zarkon said almost inaudibly. Before Coran could reply, the king cut the transmission and let the computer fall from his hands to the floor. Then, he sank back into sleep's clutches, only to be visited once more by the red-eyed dragon.
"Lotor?" The prince felt Allura shaking his shoulder.
"Hmm? Is it morning already?"
"No, Lotor. Sit up." With a groan, Lotor did as she said, careful to avoid moving his left leg too much.
"What is it?"
"Here." Something was popped into his mouth. It tasted sugary and smooth.
"What was...WHOA!!" Lotor clamped his hands over both of his eyes as brilliant light saturated his vision. "Damn!" After a few moments of blinking, the light dimmed.
Lotor removed his hands. Fuzzy colors were visible. SIGHT! As it came into focus, Lotor felt he was flying with joy. He could see!! All around him was a enormous level field. But, the field was glowing. As he peered closer, he could see literally thousands of beautiful blue flowers with golden speckles; all of them gleaming brightly.
And Allura was there too, smiling at him. She plucked a lustrous flower, holding it at arm's length. "To the mountains of hell with us," she declared, a puckish gleam in her eyes. "And the valleys, and the seas, and whatever else lies ahead." Lotor chuckled happily. Allura opened her hand, and the night wind carried the light spiraling up towards the stars.On to Day Three