Six Daysby Dr. Kat
Chapter Twenty Two - Home Again
Murmurs of a chant, then a song emanated from the black-haired woman at the candle. From the smoke, a ghostly form began to take shape. Soon, there was visible the outline of a tall woman. A woman with enchantingly soft features, delicately pointed ears, and long hair, white as snow.
"I did what I promised you, Ellysia. I have found him and taught him, just as I said."
The spirit slowly nodded her head. "Thank you," her voice echoed through the plain elfin room. "Thank you so very much, dear Aunt. You have taught my son well our lessons." The figure soon wavered and dwindled away. Yet, as she faded, she spoke once more. "Think you can soon teach another?"
Mari's face lit up with delight. "I'd love too," she replied, and she blew out the candle.
It was black.
They were tumbling out of control. Tumbling through the blackness.
"OOF!!" Lotor felt the ground under his chest, then back, then chest again as he tumbled out of control. He felt Allura slip from his grasp, and he continued his journey across the rocky terrain alone. Until, he finally slowed down, then stopped.
The prince coughed unceasing. There was too much smoke in his lungs. Too much ash. Too much fire. Too many nightmares. But, there was air here. It was stale, almost lifeless, but it was air! He breathed it in greedily, urging his knees to bend and his hands to press himself up.
Lotor opened his eyes. Very close by was Allura, coughing and gasping like he was. The landscape was barren and rock laden. There was no sunlight. There were no trees in his present view. Allura now struggled to right herself as well. He was about to call to her...when something else caught the attention of his sharp ears. It sounded like running feet. It sounded like someone calling his name?
Lotor turned his head to the sound... "Oooo...fff..." And, found himself the receiver of a giant bear hug.
"Lotor!" The new voice was cracking with emotion; surely the owner was crying. "My son!"
Startled more than frightened, the prince lay back, getting over the initial shock. He heard other footfalls reach him, and other voices greeted him. He looked at the first person through the corner of his vision, then stared in disbelief. His eyes located Allura again. She, too was surrounded and embraced by others. He recognized one right off the bat by his short stature, glasses and tousled hair. The princess was also stunned, but soon realized where they were. Her eyes met his, overflowing with joy. We are home, he could hear Allura saying in her mind. We are finally home!
But... "Is this my father?" he mouthed silently, indicating with a turn of his head the figure still holding tightly to him. She nodded and then giggled at his extremely puzzled look. "Are you sure?"
"The game is finished."
The red-headed woman nodded. "They have won, according to my rule book."
The cloaked woman extended her hands, palms up, in respect to the other. "Thank you," Mari told the Dweller. "Thank you from me. Thank you from my niece."
The elf turned to leave the forest, her feet gliding effortlessly through air as she climbed higher. "Stay a moment more," the Forest Dweller urged.
"Hmm?" Mari halted her ascent and eyed the other. "What is it?"
"Just some questions." The Dweller ran a hand over her dragon's long snout, and the creature purred softly in contentment. "Why those two?"
"They are in love," Mari responded matter-of-factly.
"But, look at them! From other worlds. From other species, as well."
"I say it again. They are in love."
"And, he is a hybrid! There would certainly be no chance of offspring!"
A smile curled around the sides of Mari's lips. "Elves have roamed this universe and far beyond," she said in an impish tone. "Our kind can fuse with and enhance many races, as you are well aware." The smugness deepened, and one of her eyebrows cocked playfully. "Even our hybrids are quite...prolific."
Six weeks?! Lotor still couldn't believe what the old witch had told him. They had only been in the forest six days! How could six weeks have passed on Doom?! But, she had insisted. And, from the state of his father, the prince eventually began to accept it.
Lotor thumbed through his father's old book of legends. He had asked that it be brought to keep him company while he was in the infirmary, yet again. They had to clear his lungs, the medics had insisted. They had to keep him under observation. If I ever see another doctor, I had better be dead, he had sworn earlier to the witch. She sure had gotten a good cackle out of that.
His father... Lotor closed the book, covering the drawing of Fire Mountain. Soon after declaring his joy at seeing his son again (and finally releasing his grip)... He had fallen headfirst to the ground. He had been carried back by the Voltron force (Lotor was still confused about their presence) and had been left in the care of the Doom physicians. Too much damage. Too much strain on his brain and body. He would never get up again, Dr. Jannick had diagnosed. And, he probably would not live much longer. The strange thing was that Zarkon didn't seem to care. He actually seemed happy.
"Prince Lotor?" The scratchy voice was easily identified.
The old woman entered his room, paused, then bowed deeply in reverence. "Rather, I should say: 'my king,'" she corrected.
"Your father has agreed that you should take his place effective immediately," the witch answered. "All is legal and in order. When the next Session of Doom is held, there will be an official ceremony. You are to be crowned king. I am at your humble service, sire."
"Isn't that what you have always wanted, your Highness?" Hagar grinned devilishly at the expression of doubt in the young king's face. "No? What is it that you want, then?"
Allura had returned with the Voltron force to Arus. Not an hour had passed that he didn't think of her. "I want...I need..." Allura. Lotor tried to hide his emotions as he began again. "I must find some way to arrange a meeting with Arus for..."
"Truce negotiations?" The witch then produce her copy of the record-breaking agreement between her and the prime minister of Arus. "Will this do?"
The new king's eyes grew wider and wider as he read on. "We aren't at war anymore?" he queried.
"Not according to this," she snorted, still peeved at all the leeway she gave that conniving human.
Which meant... "I'm going to Arus!" he announced jovially.
So, it appeared there would be a wedding along with the coronation. "After you have rested," Hagar added. "Doctor Jannick's orders."
"I do not need to..."
"We will arrange a proper meeting for you on Arus. For now, rest."
"Trust me, don't argue with a doctor (especially if he has a syringe in his hand)."
A message had been sent from Doom. A diplomatic meeting was desired to discuss the peace treaty in more detail. It was considered necessary for negotiations to begin between the new king of Doom and his most recent ally, the Princess of Arus. Would Arus be willing to accept?
Lotor. Allura read the message from her bed, amidst the tears. They had been separated. And now, Lotor was following her.
"Coran?" She turned to the man sitting next to her bed.
"Send a message to Doom, offering the Castle of Lions as grounds for the diplomatic talks."
It didn't take mind-reading skills for the prime minister to know what had happened between her and Lotor. He smiled warmly. It didn't take much effort to notice the promising future which it held, either. "With pleasure, princess."
All of Doom seemed relieved at his return. They were willing to accept him as king. Father was willing to declare him king And, he could honor the treaty with Arus. Joint rulers. They could be together, just as desired!
But, as he lay back on the bed that night, that nagging feeling came back into focus. Something Allura had said. Another elf advantage...
Lotor sat up in his bed, his thoughts interrupted by the new arrival. "Visiting hours are over," he mumbled.
"Has that ever stopped me before?" the amused voice questioned. Soft footsteps were heard approaching.
"Why are you here, Aunt Mari?" he asked the elf.
Mari smiled and sat on the edge of the bed. "Because you have a question to ask me," she replied, folding her hands. "What is it?"
Probably just another elf advantage... That was what Allura had said during their encounter with the circles. When he didn't age as fast as she did. Another elf advantage. And, what had Mari said? She had seen many wars come and go... So many battles... He took a deep breath. "Aunt? How old are you?"
Mari was silent for a minute. "A little over eight thousand standard years," she told him.
Swarms of flying insects seemed to have taken up residence in his stomach. "Eight...?"
"You don't look a day over four hundred," he murmured. Another gap of silence. "And, I'll be the same way?"
"Yes," she confirmed. "According to the non-magic measure, you will live for a very long time."
He closed his eyes. "Allura..."
"Tell her, child. But, stay with her. You love each other too much." Mari patted his shoulder. "Something will work out," she assured him, her figure dissipating into a dusting of stars. "Don't you worry."
The royal flagship of Doom landed close to the Castle of Lions. A small party exited the newly renovated craft. Witch Hagar led the group, wearing a long deep red hooded robe. Flanked by the members of the Doom council, King Lotor came close behind, dressed in royal black velvet, a coronet of red gold on his brow. No guards. No weapons. No tricks.
The Voltron Force (minus Lance) stood at attention in their stately Arusian uniforms just outside the castle. Nearby stood Prime Minister Coran and Nanny, equally fine in their choice of clothing. In the middle was Princess Allura, her silver and white dress shimmering in the morning sunlight. The scene was one of pomp and pageantry.
For about thirty seconds, that is...
"Hey! Elf boy's back!!" came the annoying high-pitched squeal of the youngest member.
"Shtop zat, you ungrateful little..."
"Oww! Nanny! Lay off!"
"It's like homecoming, isn't it?" Lotor murmured in Allura's ear, as she burst out laughing. Following the princess' lead, the two young leaders soon escaped the crowd and snuck into the castle. Of course, a member from both parties noticed, but neither Hagar nor Coran felt much like breaking up the forming alliance.
Though, as Coran looked over at his newest partner in crime, the Doom advisor did still seem in low spirits. Wasn't she always? Oh well. "Someone's been waiting patiently to see you, Witch Hagar," he suddenly announced, reaching into a cage conveniently placed behind him.
"What?!" That turned the witch's head. "Kitty? KITTY?!! Oh, my baby Coba!" Well, after snatching back her precious ball of blue fluff, the witch sure lost her professional attitude. "Oh...Mommy's here! Yes, she is. My widdle precious heart... Let Mommy huggle you all over!"
"I am going to hurl," Hunk groaned, clutching his stomach at the scene. "OW!" Then his head where he was whacked.
"No more varnings!"
"Nothing ever changes here," Allura remarked, regarding the earlier events.
"Things sure have changed on Doom. Though I can't tell the total extent, since I've been stuck in bed for two weeks."
"Did they poke and prod at you during your confinement?"
"Terribly. They checked everything about me."
"I hate doctors."
"Well... they just... You know! They say 'cough' and stick all these sharp things all over you and up your..." He stopped as she couldn't go on any farther from laughing too hard. "Allura?"
Her smile was so beautiful. Everything about her was so beautiful! "King Lotor," she mused. "It has a certain charm, I think."
"I don't know."
"I do." She pulled him closer and planted a kiss on his flushed cheek. "So...?"
"Aren't you here to ask me something?" She nudged at his side.
He grinned broadly and pulled the hidden package out of his coat. "I thought I was the only one who could read thoughts." Inside the small box was a simple band of white gold, sprinkled with deep blue sapphires which accented one small but unbelievably flawless white diamond. Allura could do nothing but gape at the modest yet exquisite beauty of his token of love. "Mother always said it would go to someone special."
The ring soon found its place on Allura's hand, as her lips found their place on his. Yet, both felt that the other was... anxious over something.
"Allura?" Both asked at the same time, and soon found themselves stuttering and laughing in embarrassment.
"I have something... that I must tell you now before..."
"So do I, Lotor." Her face seemed a mixture of gleeful anticipation and apprehension.
"What is it, Allura?"
"Well... maybe you should speak first?"
"No. You go ahead." The growing feeling emanating from her was too much for Lotor to ignore, even for a few seconds.
"I... I wanted to tell you that... well..."
"What? Is something wrong?"
"No! Not at all. It's..." How was she going to tell him?
"Tell me what, Allura?"
"I..." Allura gave up trying to explain with words. She took Lotor's hands and held them between hers. Then, slowly, she moved them down until they rested on her.
Lotor gave a look of confusion. He glanced down where she had placed his hands. "Wh..." He suddenly stopped his question, his eyes going wide with surprise. He looked up. "You're...?!" She smiled and nodded her head.
"Lotor? Lotor... don't... don't pass out! Hey!"On to Epilogue