TWo Shadows Went, Chapter 27
His guard had two options: Scatter or be trampled alive. It was not surprising then, within seconds of the great lion charging forward, Lance was the only one left standing on the white stone platform.
Still in shock, Lance could see the bright luminescence from the corner of his eyes and he looked down. Every mark on his hand was lit up, his hands were like beacons and he could only guess his face was the same. He pulled back his sleeve to see the glow ran through every marking he had.
The crowd had all shrank back from Lance on all sides and a collective gasp had been heard. He must have looked like a neon ghost standing alone there, a massive lion with eyes shining the very same teal color.
The guards at the ready to execute the last ot the Altean Royal court all turned, and very quickly were retracting to form up ranks around their Kon.
But as Shiro looked out over the chaos, his eyes connected straight with Lance’s.
His glowing hands still up, Lance wasn’t sure what to do as Shiro’s wide eyes locked with his own. For possibly the first time every, Lance could see sincere shock in Shiro’s expression. And there was something more dangerous there as well, fear crossed his face for just a split second.
The Kon’s guards were almost immediately intent on pulling Shiro away as ice spewed from Blue’s mouth. She stalked closer, clearing the courtyard with no prompting from Lance.
“Lance!” Shiro's voice could be heard even over the crowd as he tried to lunge forward though his guard, intent on pursuing.
It startled Lance into action though and setting his feet, Lance launched forward. Blue cleared the way for him as he ran below her, confident she wouldn't deal him harm as he let her lumbering charging form take him to the Palace steps.
Through the parting crowd, Lance could see as Allura stood, having thrown off their guard, at her feet two of the council men had not succeeded themselves. Her eyes were wide as well and her mouth fell open. The small amount left with her all stood as well, huddling close as they all pulled themselves together. Coran grabbed at his Queen and seemed to have retrieved a weapon in the commotion.
Shiro fought off his guard for a moment, though every member of his war council and guard were reacting faster. Keith stole out before his kind, facing the massive roaring Lion as every man that could pulled their Champion from the steps.
In one step, Blue set a paw down over the platform of the Palace steps and Lance took them two by two as he scaled up them as well, running out before his Lion to meet his sister.
WIth a stark cry in Galran, a wall of shields erected before Lance’s eyes and the moving fortress quickly had their Kon pulled back as the massive lion approached. Lance couldn’t make out his lover in the mix any longer as they retreated, making it clear, the first Kon in an age, was not worth one battle.
That fared well for Lance as he shot forward, Blue stayed over him as Lance started to run towards the platform. Her massive feet slammed over the steps of the palace as Allura took several steps towards her brother.
With a swat over the stairs, Blue had any remaining guards cleared, and Keith was skittering back. The fortress of guards, holding Shiro as one, pulled back into the palace.
Lance ran up the steps, the way clear for him as the crowd broke into their own panicked cries.
Allura’s eyes were wide as she watched Lance approach.
It was Coran that spoke though. “Lance--”
“You need to leave.” Lance said. His voice was solid as steady feet took him closer.
“We have to take back the Palace--” Allura stepped forward.
Lance was already shaking his head. “More than fifty families have already sworn to Shiro. If you want to live, you need to leave.”
Blue stood proud over Lance as she looked down to the Queen and her manservant.
Lance felt it then, his grip reached out--and the blue bayard flashed out in his hand. It felt like a--song, like the answering rush of melodic ocean waves. For the first time in ages, Lance felt the cool and calming embrace of his Lion. She was there for him. She would get him through this.
“Blue will get you to the Castle of Lions.” Lance nodded, assured. He held the blue bayard at his side, his grip on it tight. He could still feel her connection. It roared through him like flood gates finally opening. Lance for the first time in months felt like he’d surfaced from a raging ocean and taken in a breath at the surface of calm seas.
Allura looked aghast. “You want to run? Just like before you want to run?”
Lance shook his head. “I can’t promise you anything if you stay.” He felt the rush of what he’d just done filter through him. “I’ve done everything I can. Shiro won’t spare you. I’ve tried everything, I’ve banked everything on saving you. And he won’t budge on this. If you stay, you will die.”
“We can fight--”
“We have lost.” Lance cut her off. “No part of this palace is the same, “ He gestured. “It’s gone, Allura.”
She stared at him with wide eyes.
“I am Queen.” She murmured low.
Lance held himself steady. “You will die a prisoner, if you stay.”
“And you are the Second Prince of Alt--”
“No.” Lance was harsh as he cut her off. “I’m the mate of a Kon. If I survive this, maybe I’ll be proclaimed Kon Karnate one day--and maybe I’ll spend the rest of my life in a birdcage.”
Allura paused. “I am your Queen.” She stood a bit straighter.
It was a second, a beat, before Lance knew the right answer for her. “...no.” His face broke into a sad smile as he spoke. “You’re just my sister.”
Allura stopped breathing for a second, Lance could see it in the way her face froze.
“Shiro,” Lance continued. “Is my Kon.”
“You’re abandoning all of this,” Allura’s face seemed to break.
“Abandoning?” Lance nearly sneered. “I’m doing the last thing I can for you!”
“This is our legacy!” Allura was frantic as she pointed to the Palace doors.
“You’re my legacy!” Lance shouted in return. “And you’ll die! He will slit your throat himself if he has to!” Lance held his hand to the Palace. “All of this is nothing!”
“We will have nothing if we run!” Allura protested still.
“I’ll have you,” Lance pleaded as he staggered a step forward. “I’ll know you’re alive! I’ll know I did everything I could to keep my sister alive!”
Allura paused. Her mouth open, she faltered to speak for a moment.
Allura stood there for a long second--until her hand reached for Lance. “You’ll come with us?”
Lance’s own expression softened, before he shook his head. “No.” He said soft. “If I go with you, he’ll never stop looking for me. I’m tethered to him, and he will always be following.”
“He’ll never stop as it is.” Allura protested as she strode to her brother.
The crowds around had cleared, but soldiers were now creeping in. Lance didn’t have very long.
“The Galra are intent on ruling the entire universe!” Allura hissed. “With you or not, he will never stop!”
Lance just shook his head again. “He’s already told me--this man will destroy the universe if I leave. He doesn’t give me platitudes, he gives me promises. He’ll come for me--and he’ll break through worlds to do it. Leaving him is the worst thing I could do.”
Besides--Lance wasn’t sure he could do it. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to leave Shiro alone. It wasn’t--in a world that horrible, a court that stained in blood, the thought of having no one at his side was too much. Lance couldn’t imagine a worse version of his Kon.
Allura looked--like Lance's sister then. For once. She looked younger and scared.
“What will happen to you?” She asked.
Lance shook his head. “I don’t know.”
He really didn’t. For all of Shiro’s assurances, this may be the worst thing he could do to his Kon. Lance may die for this. At the very least, Lance knew he’d never be trusted again.
“What will I do without you?” Allura questioned further.
Lance laughed. “Go be a Queen or something,” He held his hands up in a giving up sign.
He’d earned a small smile from his sister.
“I don’t think I can leave you here.” His sister shook her head.
It was too late for that, Lance’s mind was made up. “I have to stay. If I don’t, it will simply be a repeat of the last time--and we lost last time.”
“You said we’ve already lost.” Allura pointed out.
“The war, yes,” Lance nodded. “But if I can get you off this planet. I’ll have won. One win over Shiro’s head is more than enough to last a lifetime.”
Lance’s hand struck out as he pressed his bloody palm back to Blue’s leg.
The lion immediately obeyed his unspoken command and bowed, opening her mouth for Allura to step in.
“Go.” Lance said. “I need to stay.”
Allura frowned. “They won’t let you get away with this.”
Lance managed a wry smile. “Then I better succeed.” He tried not to break into tears. “If you’re gone, there's nothing left to hold over my head anymore. No matter how many cages he builds now, Shiro’s little bird is free.”
Allura still watched him.
“He could kill you,” Coran said as he took a step closer.
He could. It had more than once crossed Lance’s mind, this may be too far, this may be the thing to push Shiro over the limit, the thing to finally earn Lance a guillotine.
“I don’t think he will,” Lance spoke soft. “But I’m not expecting to have a lot of privileges after this.”
Shiro hated the Altean royalty above all else--if Lance survived that, he was sure he could survive Shiro’s wrath--even if it lasted the next hundred years. And Lance counted on that anger but he knew just as well--every time Shiro looked at Lance he’d be reminded of the one battle that truly mattered, the one Lance had managed to win.
“You don’t know,” Allura stepped to her brother.
Lance looked away. He didn’t.
“I’m going to make sure he can’t come after you.” Lance said instead. His brow lowered as he promised himself. “I’m going to make sure none of this can ever happen again.”
Allura took another charging step forward, and this time she swooped into Lance’s arms.
Accepting the hug, Lance flung his arms around his sister.
“I feel like I may never see you again.” Allura’s wavering voice could be heard in the muffle of Lance’s cloak.
If Lance succeeded--no, she wouldn’t.
“I love you so much.” Lance just said in return. “I have always loved my family--so very much.”
“Then just come with us.” Allura pulled back her hands grasping at Lance’s arms. “All of us could make it.”
Lance lifted his hands to his sisters face as he tried to make her understand. “He’s my other half.” His words were laced with sorrow, Lance could feel it, even as it thrummed through him. Somewhere--Shiro was--hurting. He felt betrayed--and it was searing through him like he’d swallowed a hot coal. “He’s my family. And I’ve always promised I wouldn't abandon him.”
Allura’s face took on a look Lance recognized.
There was no way he could please them all. There was no way he could save them all. Even as his sisters face changed, as she tried to hide the anger at Lance's decision, Lance knew there was no stopping it. By the end of it all, he would quite possibly have enemies from every side--but just maybe, he’d take away their means to destroying each other.
“I never meant for any of this to happen,” Lance murmured.
“I should--” Her voice was low--quiet. “If I had known, I would have never--”
“I love him.” Lance cut her off before the words could ever get out. “I’ll spend the rest of my life at his side, and I’ll do it willingly.”
“I didn’t know him,” Allura breathed out.
“I know,” Lance nodded. “But I do. And he’d be just as much mine as I am his.” Lance looked around him. “If it all goes to plan, he’ll never cross paths with you again.”
Allura looked at Lance.
“We’re losing our window,” Lance drew attention to the garuds filing in through the courtyard. “I have to leave.” He went on.
“We must go,” Coran bid his Queen, his hand on her shoulder.
Alluras hands fisted in Lance’s sleeves even as her eyes turned to Lance.
“Go,” Lance urged, gesturing to the lion.
Allura gave one final nod before she turned away.
Blue leapt into the air, left the courtyard rumbling and Lance turned to the emptied stone courtyard. Soldiers crept in low, but slowly, wary of Lance.
Without anything else to stop him, Lance looked to his escaping lion before he spun back and ran to the Palace doors.