Six Daysby Dr. Kat
Chapter Eight - Devil or Angel
"Well, it's the third day now. I wonder how much more will happen."
"From what I've been through, I'll be surprised if my hair doesn't turn white." He heard Allura chuckle. At least there was one benefit to being from a barbaric culture. The Drule clothes were used to seeing hard wear, blood, and other filth. Thus, even his dress clothes had come relatively clean in the flowing water. Lotor put his jacket over the torn undershirt, then felt his leg.
"How's the gash?"
Lotor carefully unwrapped the dark blue bandages to expose the skin. Small trickles of blood seeped through the dried wound. It didn't seem as serious as he had thought it would be. It did not hurt as much either.
"Wow." Allura pushed her wet hair from her face as she inspected Lotor's leg. "It looks a lot better. A whole lot better. It's not nearly as deep."
Lotor wiped the new blood away with his hand. "An elf advantage," he told her. "I heal fast."
Allura nodded her head. "I'm glad. I've been worried that it was too severe." She watched Lotor tear the stained bits of cloth from the bandage and rewrap his wound. Then, he bent to wash the soiled fabric in the stream. At least the injury wouldn't bother him much. Now, Allura only had to worry about the other problem.
Red rivers bled from the wadded cloth in his hand. Lotor could now remember being led up a bank, hearing Allura's troubled cries to him, the pain as she cleaned the mud from his leg. As he continued to bleed, he had tried to tell her with shaking hands what to do. She had understood for he soon felt his flesh burning under the press of the laser sword as Allura seared the wound. He must have lost consciousness after that. Those memories came back to him in the red water.
"Top of the morning to you!" came a cheerful voice, somewhere deep in his consciousness. Lotor heard himself groan. The memories weren't the only things to return.
The sky was again blue, the sun hot. The silky thin grasses of the plain became tough and sparser. The soil became grainy and finally turned to sand, which the travelers noticed with dismay. They were soon forced to stop and empty their boots.
The brackish breeze made a clump of Allura's hair stick to her forehead. A quick brush of her hand dislodged it, only to have the locks cling even more vehemently to her cheek and chin. "Phheeuu!! Ehhuuuck..." She again battled with the salty strands that had entered her mouth. Close by, Lotor suppressed a smile while holding his own battle of the tresses.
"There has to be a sea or ocean of some sort nearby," he commented.
"There certainly are quite a few terrains. Do think it's a miniature world?" the princess questioned. "This...place? This forest place?" Allura turned her head to better hear the distant waves.
"It does seem to have everything."
Allura raised herself, a little urgently, from her rocky perch. "Everything except for a decent toilet. Excuse me... quit laughing!"
The Castle of Arus was so quiet; like the day after Doom almost destroyed the world. A young boy with glasses sat in the library, book in hand. But, he wasn't reading. He couldn't clear his thoughts enough to understand the words. A woman went through the halls, almost mechanically completing the daily chores. A small handkerchief, crudely sewn by a child's hands was always nearby her now.
Outside, a small mouse rubbed its hands together, then brushed through the soft fur on its head. Its whiskers twitched, and it sniffed the ground, eager for the scent of food...
It was too late when the rodent finally smelled the danger. A clawed blue paw lashed out, then firmly embedded the morsel, snapping its neck. The hungry cat purred in content and settled into its meal.
"This time, I'll have to stop." Lotor was noticeably limping. The fact that the gash was not life-threatening didn't stop it from still bothering him like hell.
Allura gratefully plopped down on the beach. "Whew, it's hot! I wish this water wasn't salty." She still was able to splash the cool ocean water on her face, giving some relief to the heat.
"Oh damn," Lotor breathed, "it's bleeding again.". He unwrapped his leg and sponged off the moist wound.
"I'd swear it's healed even more," Allura commented over his shoulder. She then walked to face him. "So, what do you think? Keep following the shoreline?"
"It's in the direction we've always been going. Why not?"
"Actually," Allura evaluated, "if we're following the morning sun, we should head inland and up that cliff over there." She pointed out the area in which the beach ended and rock shot up.
"Where did that come from?" Lotor asked. "I never saw any cliff until now."
"Come to think of it, I haven't either," the princess affirmed. "Hey?!! What is this?!" Allura whipped around as a rumble filled the air. She completed her circle of the area, finding the cliff to be not only in front, but all around them. Only the small patch of rock-infested beach immediately surrounding them was left.
"So, the game begins again." Lotor stiffly rose to his feet. "It seems that we have been dealt two choices: either climb..." He raised his head to study the heights. "Or," he added as he thumbed over his shoulder, "take a swim." He turned on one foot to face the vast expanse of water at the sole opening in the horseshoe-shaped precipice. "From the look of it, it would be a very long swim, too," he murmured.
Allura looked up; a faltering expression on her face. "Well... I do know how to swim..."
"You want to spend the three remaining days swimming?"
"There has to be some land..."
"Which could easily turn into this type of cliff face when we reach it."
"Lotor, I can't..."
"You can't climb?"
"I can, too! Well...that is, with a rope...all right! I've never climbed a cliff," she admitted. "Not like this. It's so high up..."
"It's not that bad. I've had to scale worse in training. I'll help you up."
"It's too high," she insisted. "And it looks dangerous."
"There's a sturdy ledge just a little ways up. We can make it; come on..."
Slowly, Lotor guided the two toward the easiest path. He pointed out to the princess the best hand and foot holds, along with any troubling sections to avoid. "Use your legs to lift you up...not your knees, though. You'll end up with some nasty scrapes. Here." He placed a hand over Allura's. "That rock...good. Now push up with your legs."
Steadily, the two were making progress. They reached the third ledge, about halfway up the cliff and paused for a rest. Lotor looked down on the shore below. At the bottom, the ocean smashed into the rocky shoreline, sending plumes of spray upward. Something....a bizarre coincidence, maybe, gnawed at his brain.
"Something troubling you?" Allura followed his gaze around the rocks sticking out of the ocean.
At least, this time, he saw nothing serpentine slithering in the water. "No, just thought this seemed a little familiar, that's all."
Again they climbed; a little faster and more sure-footed, despite the increasing elevation. The summit would soon be reached, with a little luck.
"Lotor? Guess who?"
"No..." It wasn't Allura. Unlike before, those two had actually been behaving reasonably; until now, that is. Lotor pleaded internally for the voice to be silent.
"I will not be silent. Not this time. Lotor, listen, I've been thinking... All morning, all day long, I've been thinking..." The Drule voice sounded resolute and almost diabolic. "You remember, don't you?" it continued. "You remember pushing that creature away before. Burying it..." The voice grew in hunger. "Suffocating it."
Lotor attempted to ignore the voice and focus on the cliff. But, the Drule wouldn't let him turn him aside so easily.
The elf became aware of the rising threat. "Drule...we're both here to stay. Why can't you just try to get along?"
"I was almost destroyed!" the Drule snapped. "This is a fight for survival between us, elf!"
"But, why now? Why in this situation? Don't you see this is dangerous?!"
"It would not be so if you weren't here! Lotor would never be in such peril; such as with that beast... You and your weakness!" The Drule switched his attention. "I'm sure you can purge yourself of it, Lotor. You've done it before. You can do it again. I'm sure of it! Just push him away..."
"No! What are you talking about?!" the elf protested.
"You don't need this...this freeloader! He is of absolutely no use to you."
"He needs me," the elf proclaimed in a steady tone. "Stop acting crazy!"
"You think he could teach you to scale a cliff, Lotor? Or fight? Or survive?"
"This is NOT a contest!"
"Oh...but it is!" the Drule insisted. "A battle to the death! And only one half will survive."
"Drule, this isn't the time!" Lotor finally protested.
Out loud, that is. "Time for what, Lotor?" Allura asked him. "Lotor?"
"If you continue this, neither of us will survive!" the elf shrieked.
"Lotor!!!" came a voice outside of the prince's mind. A hand frantically tried to force Lotor's body back toward the rocky cliff.
"You'll KILL us!" the elf screamed out. "Stop it!!"
"Not until you're out of the way!" The Drule then returned its attention to the prince. "Do it, Lotor," the voice urged. "Get rid of the elf. You've only needed me in the past. You only need me now."
"STOP!!" Lotor felt as if he were dunked in an inky pool of blackness. Spinning round and round; being pulled this way and that. Feeling fire, then ice. Then nothing.
Until he heard a sound. It was soft at first, then grew into a voice of panic.
"LOTOR!!" Slowly....very slowly, he regained himself. He felt someone shaking his shoulders. He felt his legs, bent at the knees, dangling over cliff side. And, he could feel an absolutely horrid pain shrieking through his brain.
"I'm fine," he tried to say to Allura. He didn't even know if the words came out or not.
"What is happening?!!" the princess pleaded. "Tell me what's wrong. You've been acting so strange. I've heard you talking to no one. And you get into these conditions... You almost fell off that CLIFF, you know!"
"I'm fffine..." he tried to say again.
But, she wouldn't hear of it. "SHUT UP!!!" He felt a sting across his face. "You are NOT fine!! Something is wrong! Something is happening! And you will tell me what it is, and you will tell me NOW!"
As Lotor opened his eyes, his entire vision was coated red. Bright flashes of light exploded in the bloody view. "I..." How could he tell her? It was insanity. "It's not..."
Lotor turned his eyes upward. Such a lovely face; too beautiful to be stained with blood. Too pure to be stained with tears. He sighed, then looked back at the ground. "You're never going to believe me."
Chapter Nine: Endless Night
Lotor tossed side to side, his eyes moving under the lids as if in a dream. He had barely had enough time to relay his tale to Allura before the voices dragged him under once again.
"Lotor..." He could still hear her voice. Oh why couldn't he reach her? If only he could reach the surface and be held in her arms, then he would be well. "Wake up..." But, he couldn't.
"I HATE YOU!!!" screamed the Drule. Lotor felt himself out of control of his body, mind and reason. He could only watch the blackness, permeated by two circling white sparks. "I was rid of you! I was in charge! YOU..."
"I am not your enemy!" insisted the elf. The sparks brightened and took the shape of two figures; one was striking while the other avoided the attacks. They were the voices, Lotor realized. They had taken form!
"I'LL KILL YOU!!" the Drule shrieked. He lunged at the elf, but the other moved too quickly causing the Drule to tumble through the blackness. But then, the elf moved towards him, grabbing him and ceasing his fall.
"Stop this," the elf said.
"I hate you!" The Drule struggled slightly, trying to get out of the elf's grip.
"I hate...hhhate...." The Drule stopped fighting and lay still. "Why can't you go away?" he whispered.
"We're both here to stay," the elf told him.
"NO!" the Drule shook of the other's arms. "It's either one or the other. It's always been that way. If I'm in charge, you're gone. If you're in charge..." The Drule seemed to choke on his words. "Then, I'm gone."
"Neither of us is going anywhere."
"Bah!! He'll listen to you! Lotor will listen to you, and I'll....I'll be gone." The Drule hugged his knees to his chest. "I'll be gone."
The elf knelt down by the Drule. "You're afraid," he said.
"I am NOT afraid!" the Drule asserted. "I just...I...don't want to go." The Drule turned to the side, revealing for the first time a deep hole in his left side, extending from his chest to his leg. "Look at me: I still haven't healed yet."
"From the curse?"
"And what else would it be?!" the Drule snapped. "I was torn away from my rightful place. Then...then I was slowly eaten alive!!" The Drule was quiet, unable to gather enough control for speech.
The elf rested his hand on the other's shoulder. "I'm sorry."
"I just...don't want...to go..."
"Fighting between ourselves is not the answer, though. You've seen that all it does is cause Lotor pain. Nothing more. We're together, and neither of us is going anywhere. Let's just do our jobs and try to make the best of it. Okay?"
The Drule gave a short laugh. "Oh sure, Mr. Let's all Try and Get Along."
The elf chuckled. "Well, it wouldn't hurt. And, it might even help. Hmm?"
The Drule sighed, then slowly nodded. "We'll see. But, I still hate you."
The figures dissolved into the two stars, which eventually faded from the prince's view. Bright red light poured into his eyes as he clawed his way back to consciousness.
He could feel the drops of water being poured into his mouth from the Allura's palm. As his eyes flickered open, he could feel her lips pressed against his.
"You're back," came the princess' voice.
"They stopped," he whispered. "Agreed and...they went away."
"The voices?" she asked softy.
"Mmm hmm... They were fighting. I could see them fighting. But, when they agree, they go away. It happened before when..."
"Shh." Allura gently put her fingers over his lips. "It's over, and you don't need to talk right now. Just rest."
Before long, Lotor was sleeping soundly by her side. Allura still didn't know whether she should believe his bizarre story. Two voices, one Drule and the other elf, were battling for control of his morality? It sounded more like the Prince of Doom was finally cracking under the recent pressure. But, he wouldn't lie, not to her. And, from all she knew about him, Lotor was a strong person. Would he give in to insanity now? Allura couldn't believe it. So, maybe...maybe it was true.
She turned to look at Lotor. Rest was definitely best for him right now, Allura thought. He seemed so innocent in his sleep; his eyes softly covered by lids and fine white lashes, his silky hair slightly obscuring one side of his face, his mouth barely open to reveal a shimmer of teeth. His face was beyond beautiful; more like an angel than the monster he was known by reputation to be.
The princess rose and again headed toward the stream she had discovered nearby. It resembled the shallow one running through the woods those first two days. This one, too carried fresh water; a relief after the hot day along the beach.
As she followed the stream's current, it ended up diving underground just before it reached the cliff's edge. Allura gazed down the rock face to try and find the outlet. Maybe the stream came out under the ocean surface. In any case, it was too dark to tell with the sun going down. The sunset was quite dazzling, its rich colors pervading the deep blue waves.
She did feel tired. From the climbing. From the walking. From the confrontation and worry. The crude fire she had constructed was still bright. There seemed to be no sign of animals, nor any other danger. Allura considered that she may regret it later as she lay down next to the sleeping prince. Hopefully one of them would wake in time, if worse came to worse.
Red Lion's engines were at minimum capacity as it entered Doom's orbit. Lance finally cut power entirely to avoid the planet sensors and prepared his angle of descent. Fuck diplomacy! His hands tightened in anger over the controls. If no one else was going to save the princess...if no one else was going to make that pointy-eared traitor pay, then he was more than willing to do some dirty work.
Lance's mind turned back to that earlier conversation:
"We have no idea if King Zarkon even has Princess Allura in his possession," Coran had told the group.
"But, he told you the princess was with Lotor!" Hunk had protested.
"But, 'in the forest?' He did not make any sense; almost as if he was senile."
"So, let's pay them a visit!"
"NO!! We could easily cause more harm than good. How do we know where she is, if she's being held hostage, or if they would harm her under provocation. I know it's tough, but we must stay here until we know for sure."
No more! "I'm sick of waiting!" Lance proclaimed angrily to himself in the cockpit. "I know where Allura is; Lotor has taken her hostage, as usual." That Drule's phony amnesia didn't fool him for a second! This time...THIS TIME, there would be no sock in the jaw. No insults. Just a laser blast straight through that bastard's filthy black heart.
He was getting closer to the castle. Just a few more miles and he would land, Lance figured. It was then that he saw a very strange thing: Trees?! What were trees doing on Doom??? "In the forest" was what King Zarkon had told Coran. Worth a look.
Lance changed his flight trajectory so that he would fly directly over the seemingly mislaid forest. The top canopy came into view. He wondered if Red Lion's scanners would be picked up by the castle at this distance if he switched them on.
Wisps of green smoke emanating from nearby branches and coiling around the lion went unnoticed, at first... But, Lance did feel the jolt as those tendrils solidified into vine-like ropes, stretched taut, and pulled him down. No alarms went off, since power was cut. It didn't matter, as nothing the pilot did could bring the lion out of its plunge into the savage woodland below.
"Allura..." The princess felt her shoulder being shaken yet again.
"What is it? Is it morning, or can you still not sleep?" Allura opened her eyes. "It's still dark."
"I know," Lotor said. "I'm just not tired anymore. It's like I've been dozing forever."
Allura turned to go back to sleep, but her eyes also stayed wide open. "I know what you mean. I feel the same way. You must have given whatever hit you to me." She sat up. "Unless you think we skipped a day."
Lotor brushed his hair from his face with a hand and shook his head. "Now, I know we both wouldn't sleep through a whole day. Not in the open like this." He stood up and surveyed the sky. The moon in this land was full and bright. Stars were still visible; none in any familiar constellations, though. "That foolish moon hasn't moved any since I last saw it," Lotor remarked.
"Maybe time has stopped," Allura declared with a laugh.
"Well if it has, and your as awake as I am, then maybe we should make the best of it."
"What about the voices?"
Lotor paused, appearing deep in thought. "I cannot hear or feel them. It takes them awhile to resurface." He shrugged.
"And, you'll let me know when they do decide to come back. Right?"
"You sure you don't want to just call me cuckoo?"
Allura smiled wryly. "I think I'll put up with you for a little longer," she chided. "Now you'll TELL..."
"I'll tell you."
The princess stood up and took the prince's hand in hers. "Fine. Let's go."
Chapter Ten - Desert Sands
After only a brief time walking, the pair were both noticeably flushed and sweating. "I never realized it was so hot here!" Allura complained as she took off her jacket and tied it around her waist. "It's a regular oven! Just imagine what it would be like if the sun was up!"
"Where's that water you saw around here?" Lotor questioned, finally giving in to his thirst. "Damn!"
Allura turned left, Lotor close behind. A little ways ahead, the trickling source of the stream was emerging from under a meager rock shelter. "Looks like that's it for awhile," she commented, and both cupped their hands to gather precious draughts. Then, turning from their only source of water, they pressed on through the increasingly arid land.
Ahead, the remaining dried-out trees and parched grass stumps gave way to lifeless rolling sands. "It had to be a desert," Lotor groaned. "Why not? Why the hell not?! There was a swamp, an ocean..."
"Okay, Lotor. Getting irate won't solve anything." Allura pulled a few pins from their places in her hair and shifted her locks farther up on her head.
"Why can't there be a polar ice cap or something cooler...hey!!"
"Hold still," Allura insisted as she grabbed handfuls of the prince's long white hair, performed a simple plait, and coiled the mane securely on his head with the decorative clip and her two remaining pins.
"Does it look maaarvelous, daaarling?" Lotor twittered.
"Oh, absolutely fabulous," she cooed in return, then burst out laughing.
"I feel ridiculous."
"Don't worry. No one's here to see you, my prince."
The desert sands seemed endless from her viewpoint. It looked endless from whichever direction the princess observed, even behind her where there used to be parched trees. Now, it was empty, as if a hand had just wiped them away.
A dry wind stirred up a row of short-lived wind devils. "Are we still going the right way?" Allura wondered.
"Who cares? It all looks the same." A stern glance from Allura shook him from his funk. Lotor huffed and looked up. "Okay...string of stars to the right, crazy moon that won't move on the left. Yep, we're fine."
Lotor displayed a devilish grin. "I bet you're just saying that, because it's true." And promptly, he received a shoulder punch in return.
The two walked on, only to find a large sand dune pop up conspicuously in front of them. "At least it's not another cliff," Allura remarked.
"Do we climb?"
"Well, it's still high and..." She kicked up a spray of sand. "All right. We climb. I'm too hot to argue."
The two staggered and slipped up the brittle shifting surface. The dune kept rising. Though the end looked only a few steps away, they kept climbing. Allura wondered if it could be an optical illusion. She could swear they should have reached the top by now. Magic? She looked behind her. Level ground was only a few steps away. And ahead of her, the dune rose higher than ever. But HOW?!
Allura turned around at the sound of Lotor's voice. "What is it?" she asked in a winded tone. She most certainly did not want to stop, not unless it was extremely important. They might end up standing at the bottom of the dune if they did.
Lotor was staring at the angled sand just ahead of her. He appeared, to the princess, to be puzzled over something. "In front of you," he told her, pointing to the area. "Do you see anything odd about that spot?"
Allura looked where he indicated. "It looks like the same old ground...on the same old dune that keeps going on and on..." With that, she trudged forward, fighting the downward slide of the sand. "Why?"
Lotor shook his head. "For a second, I saw something there. WAIT!"
Allura groaned, then halted again. "If we keep stopping like this, I going to collapse!" She tugged rapidly on the front of her tank top, trying to get some relief. The heat was definitely getting to her; to the point that she wished only to keep moving and get out of this hell. "What do you see?"
Lotor wiped his forehead with his hand. "It was like the sand suddenly disappeared in that spot."
Allura stared at the ground, looking for any sign of what the prince apparently saw. "It looks solid to me." She began to move cautiously forward, then walked to the right, the left, and forward once more.
"And, in the hole was a creature."
"What did it look like?" As soon as she finished her question and took one more step forward, Allura had her answer.
"ALLURA!" As the princess' boot touched the sand, the ground beneath her foot vanished. A vast crater had instantly appeared. And at the bottom of the crater came a sinister sound.
She could not keep her balance. "LOTOR!" Allura screamed frantically as she fell. A large mouth opened up under her, and tentacles swarmed up the sides of the crater to reach her.
"HANG ON!" Then, her fall stopped, and she felt a pull at her wrist.
"HANG ON!" The monster's tentacles wrapped around her left leg. Allura could see the thing in its entirety now. It swam like a demonic sea creature through the swirling sands at the bottom of the crater. One gigantic black eye fixed on her. Jagged saw-like teeth gnashed in anticipation of a meal.
Lotor's grip was firm on her wrist. Allura reached up with her other hand to grasp his outreached arm. But, the prince still couldn't pull her free, due to the suckers firmly attached to her left ankle. So, out came the laser sword...
The creature screamed as its tentacle was severed. With one strong tug, Lotor finally got her out of the death-trap. Panting heavily, Allura scampered away from the hole in the sand. Or, rather what used to be the hole; for just as it had suddenly appeared on contact, it vanished that very instant. She could feel her heart thumping in her throat, and her entire frame shook from the experience. And, that bloody arm still clung to her leg.
Allura saw Lotor rapidly approaching her. "Allura?" He knelt by the still gasping princess and held her in his arms, which she readily accepted in her terrified state. "Allura?"
It took her a few swallows to be able to speak again. "What was THAT?!"
Those stupid fools, Hagar cursed in her mind. Couldn't they see what the future would hold if they dared opposed the invalid king? "I control the most land," one warlord had declared. "I have a formidable army," claimed a general. If these challenges went unanswered for much longer, Doom would surely fall.
Then what? Hagar returned to the main throne room, sitting not in her old place but on the skull throne itself. What could she do? Her hand itched quietly for her long lost pet. Her magic was strong, her position one of respect. Yet, how long before she made a mistake? How long before she could fend them off no longer?
She cursed herself, then the king. How could that wart-ridden toad just lie there ill for weeks while his empire crumbled around him? The witch began to wish Zarkon still despised his son. Maybe then, he would snap out of it. Damn him!
Her thoughts caused Hagar to start as a group of soldiers entered the chamber. She was actually frightened for a second, wondering if this was the dreaded moment. But, the men did not draw their weapons. Instead they remained a respectful distance from Hagar and knelt to her in reverence.
She straightened herself in the chair and motioned for their leader to come forward. The Drule walked with a confident gait, his face expressing pride. "Witch Hagar," he started, again bowing to her. "We found someone that might be of interest to you." At that time, the large doors to the throne room opened once more, and two guards dragged a resisting figure inside.
Hagar looked at this person and smiled. "Indeed," she said.
"You saw that thing, even though it was under what looked to me like perfectly normal sand." Allura's sweaty fingers slipped as she tried to pull the severed tentacle off her leg. A loud slurping sound was heard as one of the suckers came loose.
"It was as if the sand were there, and then it wasn't."
"Think it was magic?" she asked.
"Oh, it was magic all right." Lotor straightened his back in surprise of the returning voice. The elf.
"They're back," he grumbled.
"The voices?" questioned Allura.
"I felt the power surge in your mind, Lotor," the elf explained. "You were definitely using your magical abilities to see that creature. Though why...I don't know. Maybe that creature is supernatural, and you can thus see it."
"The elf says it is magic," Lotor told Allura.
"Uh..." came the second mentor. "Time to stop your thinking, fellas."
Lotor cringed inwardly, wondering if the Drule would raise another fuss.
"What is it?" he asked the other.
"I hear something," the Drule said uneasily. "And, the screeching sounds familiar."
Lotor looked up. The hole still flashed in and out of his sight. And now, it was moving. "SHIT!" He jumped to his feet, pulling Allura up with him.
"What's wrong?" she asked frantically.
"That thing's coming after us! Go! GO!!"
The two dashed across the sand. At least the dune decided to level out by now. It kept the two from slowing down. But, it also seemed to aid the creature pursuing them. The violence with which it tore through the ground filled the night air with plumes of sand.
"You can't outrun it," came the Drule voice. "Stand and fight!"
"But, how can you fight a magical creature?" questioned the elf.
"YOU HAVE ANY OTHER IDEAS?!"
The elf was silent for a moment, as Lotor turned around and planted his feet in preparation for battle. "I don't know much about fighting like this," the mentor confessed.
"But I have used magic in fighting before," Lotor reminded the voice.
"LOTOR! Your feet!" Allura pulled out the dagger in her belt and stabbed repeatedly at the tentacle. The monster shot arm after arm out at the two. Every time one was cut off by laser sword or repeated attacks by the dagger, it grew back anew.
"I can't feel enough mental control," cried the elf. "You have the capacity, yet you just can't do physical magic in the state you're in."
"You need to attack the head!" advised the Drule.
Lotor swung fast and hard with his sword. "I can't get there!" he yelled out. He was having enough trouble fighting off the throng of tentacles.
Allura was in even worse shape. With a dagger as her only weapon, she was soon grabbed around the waist and neck by the creature. As Lotor struggled desperately to free her, he too was caught and lifted above the crater.
"Strike! NOW!!" Lotor drove the laser sword down as he passed over the body of the beast, but it would not penetrate the creature's thick shell.
"It's protected," deduced the elf.
"Well, get that damn magic back; it's your department! Teach him!"
"But, his mind... accessing magic should be more like an instinct, not learned. How can I possibly describe an instinct?"
"ELF! Do it or we're dead!"
"I... I don't know how!" the elf shrieked.
"Yes, you DO!" the Drule coerced. "Go through it in steps, like a guide book. It works for fighting, and you can definitely relearn magic that way too! Now DO IT!!"
"...all right, Lotor. Concentrate. Focus."
"HOW?!!" the prince yelled back.
"Get that energy... that anger, fear, fight and concentrate it. Give it form. Remember the first time?"
"The anger flowed from my head to my hand," Lotor affirmed. The creature's mouth opened wide beneath him.
"Make a fiery beam with your mind. Make it hit the monster! Focus! Hurry!"
How?! He must! Lotor could easily feel the rush of emotion in his mind. Would it work? He saw Allura struggling nearby, then the mouth getting ever closer. He must try!
Focus. Focus. Focus. He thought of the energy pouring from his mind down his frame and out his free hand. Nothing. Why couldn't he do this?! It was so easy before, Lotor thought. He did not even realize what he could do before. He had become angry, thrust out his hands, and burned a hole clear through Hagar's magically enforced walls.
The dodges Lotor made with various contortions of his body to keep him from the monster's teeth would not work for long. He MUST get it right!! So FRUSTRATING!!
Then, the strange tingling sensation was felt in his head. That was it!
"FOCUS!" yelled the elf.
"And attack!" enforced the Drule.
The liquid fire poured from his hand, hitting the monster square in the mouth. A tremendous crack was heard, and the beast began to crumble before the prince's eyes. The giant black eye grew pale and milky, then crumbled to dust, along with the body and arms.
"Oof!" Allura hit the level sand just after he did. The crater was gone! In fact, there was no sight of the monster ever having been there. A bleak silence fell over the land as the two stared at the ground, then at each other in disbelief.
Lotor looked at Allura, then the charred remnants on his left hand. "Well, that's it for this glove," he mumbled.
Allura was still in shock of what had occurred. "Lotor... you?"
"You did it!" the elf happily declared.
"Of course he did, elf," twittered the Drule. "You just need a little more confidence."
Chapter Eleven - Enchanted Night
"Sss!" Lotor shook his hand, feeling the result of the elfin fire. "This is the part I don't like." The burnt pieces of glove came off easily at the brush of his fingers. Underneath, a blackened palm was visible.
Allura began to cough next to him. "My throat," she gasped. "I can't swallow. It's so dry."
"Yeah." After that bit of monster drill, he too was parched.
"I feel sick."
"Can you stand?" The princess rose slowly on wobbly legs. Lotor didn't feel any better. The rekindled magic spent his energy.
"Which way are we supposed to go again," Allura asked. She seemed in a daze.
Lotor looked around, then sighed in absolute joy. "That way!"
Allura followed the prince's gaze. "Ohhh! Water!"
The land must have changed (once again) soon after the monster dissolved. Before them now lay the end of the sand and beginning of a most welcome sight. Fresh green grass sprung up from now fertile soil. There were trees; slender yet healthy and tall. A myriad of flowers sprung up from the earth among the blades of grass. And just ahead, shimmering with the reflection of the full moon, was a lake.
Allura took off running, with Lotor not far behind. Water! He could easily name this find as the most treasured moment of his entire life. The jacket and cape were deposited on the edge of the lake. He knelt and cupped his hands to drink from the lake. Then, he dunked his head in, reaching back to pour the water over his neck. It felt so good to be cooled off. Lotor peeled his hair to the side, and proceeded to wash his face in the fresh water.
The sticky gritty film from the desert soon came clean. So did the black coating on his left hand. Now, his palm had a reddish tinge and was slightly swollen. Nothing a few hours of healing wouldn't cure, Lotor thought to himself.
He paused for a minute to locate Allura. She was farther out, in the center of the moon's giant reflection on the lake. She dipped her whole body in the water. As she surfaced, she let out a huge cry of relief. "Whoo! I needed that!" she declared. He chuckled softly and took another drink.
He was thinking about going back to the shore to get his jacket, so that he could wash it. But, he promptly forgot the thought as he watched Allura stand up in the water. The lake came to her waist, lapping gently against her. Her sleeveless undershirt clung to her body, revealing to Lotor all her delicate curves. The water also clinging to her caused her whole body to shimmer. Gods, she was beautiful, he thought. A gleaming goddess...
"Oh shit!" he groaned as he felt what was happening. "No. No. No, not right now." He splashed water on his flushed face. "Think about something else," he told himself. But, he couldn't. Nor could he keep his eyes off of her.
"Take her," the Drule voice urged him quietly.
"What?!" he yelled to the Drule.
"Go on. You know you want to."
"She'll love it, trust me."
"Don't you dare!" warned the elf as it surfaced, "You know what would happen."
"She would despise me more than she ever did before," he responded.
"Exactly. Do you really want that, Drule?"
"I'm not going to 'take her'," Lotor sternly decided. "I care too much to hurt her."
"That's the spirit," cheered the elf.
"Blah, blah, blah..." muttered the disappointed Drule.
Lotor drank some more of the water and set to analyzing the three days in the forest. Three days left. And no way to know where the exit was. Only Allura. Beautiful sweet Allura. Oh, Gods! Stop it! Why would I want her so much now, he asked himself. We're both hot and tired from the desert. We don't look or smell the best right now. He took another drink. Allura. Why was it getting worse?! No!
The elf resurfaced. "I hate to say it yet again, but something is very wrong here."
"You mean besides the fact that I am now a certified schizophrenic?" he asked the elf irritably.
"Oh, come on, elf," the Drule protested. "It's natural. You're the one who likes Nature. What's wrong with him having a rush of hormones?"
"Drule, think about it: this fast? THIS strong, even though he is trying his best to keep control? Shouldn't you be registering a little danger in your military mind by now?"
The Drule was quiet for a minute, then whispered, "You're right." And both voices instantly vanished.
"Wrong?" Lotor looked at the water in his hands. It shone with the moonlight. "Wait a minute..." He was bent over his hands. Shouldn't that block out the moon? He cupped his hands closer to his eyes. The light didn't even slightly dim. "It's the water!" he realized. He backed away from the lit portion of the lake.
"What about the water?" Allura asked from a distance.
Lotor shook the water from his hands. Bright droplets clung to his fingertips. He was too busy staring at the glowing liquid on his hands to see her approach. "The water is making me..." A hand touched his shoulder. He moaned, the blood again pounding through his veins.
"What is it?"
No. No. No... come on... control... what about the water. Think about the water. "The... the... water... another spell..." The hand on his shoulder was moving down his arm, slowly over his bare skin. Shit! "Don't!" he gasped, moving away from her. "Allura, you don't understand... a spell..." Gods! Just her name was enough to fuel his growing desire a thousandfold.
He could feel her eyes studying him. "Lotor, what's wrong?" It sounded like music in his ears. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Allura again place her hand on him. He bit his lower lip until it bled, trying to keep control...
"No! Get back! Back!" He threw his hand out in an effort to keep her away from his dangerous lust. She recoiled just long enough for him to scurry from the water's edge to the nearby trees. Oh, it hurt to have her so far away. He wanted her near. He wanted her, period! No! Don't hurt her! Lotor forced deep breaths into his lungs. Don't hurt her! Don't hurt her!
Oh, he was strong! And handsome! His skin had been so smooth under her fingers. Allura watched his figure from the water. The water? She shook her head to clear her mind and looked down. It was glowing! Lotor was right! It was another magical... Oh, but what was she feeling? Lotor! Her heart pounded inside her. The questions fell from her mind. This feeling, it wouldn't go away. Instead, it grew.
Her eyes returned to the prince. So very handsome! She longed to touch him again, to run her hands down his powerful chest and up his muscular legs. As if drawn by an invisible string, she left the water and approached the source of her need.
"Don't come near me, please," Lotor warned from his crouched position. He turned away from the princess, not even daring to look at her, now. "I can't control myself for much longer." His eyes forcefully closed in an effort to think rationally. Her scent and her presence were only getting stronger in his mind. "I'll go... I'll go into the forest," he rasped. "I'll wait till it passes. Just stay here away from me." He got up to leave. Then, he realized why he could sense her so strongly. While he wasn't looking, she had again moved to his side. As he stood up, her arms pulled him deliberately towards her lips. As his mouth parted, the last fragments of resistance were finally swept away.
The Doom prison reeked of death and decay. A short scream permeated the stone walls. It was very dark. And, the cell had rats. It seemed to be a staple in the galaxy; anywhere he went that was nasty had rats.
He winced at the pains in his arms, back, and heart. Red Lion was gone. Lance bit his thumb to keep from crying. Abandoning the lion was the hardest thing he had ever done. His ship. His companion, gone.
Then, being captured by these goons! How stupid could he be?! He had lost Red Lion! He would probably lose his life.
And for what? "They don't even have Allura," he wailed out loud. He was confused at first by the sight of Hagar on the Throne of Doom. Then, all made sense. Zarkon wasn't just playing Arus for a fool. The ravings during the last moments of the newest political prisoners confirmed the deplorable state of the empire.
"Stupid." He listened to the scratching of the rats in the corners. He heard another terrified scream. "You fool!" Now what?
It was a fire. Liquid fire, white-hot and strong.
Her body tensed in fear, wondering: what was this feeling? Nothing had ever filled it before. Her body burned. Was it too much? It burned so hot.
A spark of pain rose through the flames, then was consumed.
Then, his touch; his body against hers, inside hers. Such a strange feeling. His soothing touch. Fear no longer haunted her.
Desire was replacing it.
Her mouth opened hungrily, eagerly accepting the luscious taste of his lips, as they moved on like waves in the water.
And the fire burned everywhere inside her, spread by rushing blood, fueled by each quickening breath. Enveloped by passion, it no longer felt foreign. It was accepted. Cherished. Encouraged. Belonged.
Her hands clung tightly to his shoulders. Her legs gripped at his thighs; wanting him closer, needing his touch, his warmth, his love. Everywhere, he kissed, everywhere he touched burned with that love.
Stronger passion. It continued to grow.
And the waves crashed on the shore. And the enchanted night lasted... a little bit longer.On to Day Four