Two Shadows Went, Chapter 14
Updated: Apr 12, 2019
He didn't look like a king, Lance thought as he sat close to the massive draped bed. The room was a wash of deep royal blues, and the light fixtures around were all dimmed. Lance reached for the long wrinkled hand over the bed covers.
The man before him — looked like a paper cut out. His skin was thin, speckled with the dark veins beneath. His white hair seemed thinned as well, wispy almost like the ghost Lance was so terrified he’d become.
They were letting Lance in... That fact scared him more than looking across his father’s withered figure in the bed. There was no denying at that moment — Lance knew his father's fate. And so would anyone that entered that room.
He sat next to his father, sitting close to the bed.
"Your highness," from the shadows crept a long figure.
Lance looked up with dull eyes and a numb expression.
“We're doing all we can," Honerva said in a quiet tone.
Lance gave a nod. Of course. Honerva had saved his father before, after all.
Lance’s other hand came forward, at the edge of his chair he leaned forward as he grasped his father’s hand within both of his own.
"Has my sister been informed?" Lance spoke to the servant hovering nearby.
"Yes, your highness," servant gave a fervent bow.
Lance nodded to himself. That was good. That was very good.
He wasn’t proud to admit it—but the second his father passed they needed to secure his sister for ascension.
When Lance couldn’t find his sister in her room he knew where she was. All the lights were dimmed in the Palace. Lance wasn’t sure how many knew about his father but there was no keeping the death of the Red Paladin a secret. The funeral processions were already starting to organize. He’d be laid with the other Paladins of old.
There was no longer any use for the window walled turrets that lined the long chapel, which used to serve as the Paladin’s alters . Lance stepped through to see the statue of the Lion Goddess bathed in candle light. The moon light streamed through the vast towering windows though, the luminous blue light dominating the room — as well as his sister.
Lance kept his footsteps light as he approached. Allura didn’t move from where she sat at the curved stone benches circled around the statue. In return, Lance didn’t say anything as he slid in next to her.
For the first time in a very long time, there was no exuded confidence from the woman next to him. She was dressed in a simple black gown and looked for once — less like the goddess statue before them, and more like the sister Lance once knew. Her face was still attended to by servants, Lance had no doubt, but the way — she looked so deeply hurt in that moment. Her eyes down at her clasped hands in her lap, her forehead lined with worry and mouth set in a tremble frown.
Lance opened his mouth, his mind — he’d so dearly wanted to find his sister to talk to her, but now that he was next to her, Lance couldn’t think of anything to say. What could he even say?
“Galra forces — are still on Mai.” Allura’s voice was held at a careful, even tone.
Lance nodded. “We encountered a cruiser.”
Allura’s head turned just slightly, just a bit towards Lance, though she didn’t look at him. “You were there when—?”
Lance shook his head. “No. I wasn’t.”
Allura gave a small nod, looking back down at her hands.
The moment was still as Lance reached forward. He moved his hand over Allura’s in a soft gesture, before calsping over her hands, covering her hands with his own.
She frowned deeper as she tuckered her chin in, and Lance could see her eyes watering. Whatever spell she’d woven to keep it all in was crumbling at the caress of a loved one.
He remembered — there was a moment like this, when she had clasped his own hands. He hadn’t crumbled though. At the time, Lance had felt so abandoned, sitting in the great hall, as his sister has reached across the table to him, clasped his hands tightly as she explained — there was no better match for Lance. He would marry the new Black Paladin. Lance had pulled away, feeling like he’d just been pushed adrift at sea — by the caress of a loved one.
The memory drained the kindness in Lance at that moment, but even so he kept his hands over hers. He could be bigger than that, he thought to himself.
“Have you,” For the first time, in a long time, Lance heard his sister’s voice shake. “Have you been in with father at all?”
Lance nodded. It was like all words had faded away with in him. What was he to say? ‘Our father looks like a paper cut out of the man I used to know?’ Pointing that out just seemed cruel.
“They told me,” Allura said. “I just—“ her eyes searched across the stones of the floor.
Lance looked to the floor as well. Carved across the floor surrounding the Goddess’ statue was the images of the five Paladins, each of the Paladin’s symbols carved deep into their lion’s chest as the rock around was morphed to look of their corresponding element.
And right before where Allura was sitting — was the Black Paladin. The clouds swirled directly at their feet and around the massive winged lion.
Lance’s expression morphed as he looked at the lion before angling his head to look at his sister.
A tear was finally streaking down over her face.
And Lance knew that look.
It wasn’t tears of bitter regret — it was tears of anger. No doubt, in her mind, if only the Goddess had chosen her — none of this would have happened.
There was a gusting wind then through the open windows. Lance stood, but before he could step up to close them — a gust blew across them, tousling Lance’s hair and the deep dark hood over his sister's face before… It was just the lightest breeze and the candles at the Goddess’s feet were snuffed out, leaving ghostly trails in their wake, spindling in the wind.
The room was engulfed in darkness immediately, Mai and Var over head the only light as the deep blue of night swallowed the two siblings whole.
Allura was still dressed in black hours later in the small sitting room. She stood at the open window, gazing out, several courtiers near her. In small pockets, many conversed among themselves. The room housed military leaders, as well as Council members, and even a few red-robed Acolytes. Though as Lance’s eyes scanned the room, there were none in black. Lance had yet to even remove his form-fitting flight suit as he spoke with Hunk quietly.
“The council has been summoned.” Hunk said, though his voice lit a bit in a way that Lance didn’t like. "And Shay told me the Balmara are sending in a war ship. It should be hovering over Altea with in a few days. Her brother Rax, the Regent, ordered it."
“Then why have nearly less than half our councilmen responded?” Lance asked, as his brow lowered.
“Rats,” Pidge scowled from where she leaned against the arm of a chair. She had dressed, since Lance had last seen her. Her soft leather boots and short cape of emerald green fit her quite well. “They’re running scared.”
Lance looked down at her. From where he and the other two Paladins were huddled together, they probably weren’t going to be heard. But he didn’t need Pidge’s loose sarcasm at that moment. She didn’t know how to play the game well enough, that Lance was certain.
Hunk looked down at her though, before his eyes flashed up to meet Lance’s.
They were a regime teetering on the tip of knife. And with turmoil literally at their horizon, Lance could see it too. His jaw felt tight as he looked over his friends. Yet again, he was so unsure as of what to even say.
The doors opened then, and Lance looked past Hunk as black-clad Guards opened the double doors and strode in.
Lance fleeted forward immediately, light on his feet, as he rounded the sitting arrangements to get to his sister.
Allura had turned from where she stood at the window, her face like stone as she looked to the door. She never even moved as Lance came around to her, liftin