This is another reply to Cheetoy's KAEX Royal Twist Challenge, with an extra twist added.
FanFic is a multi-chapter story, completely AU, and not related to my other fanfics. Written in plotter mode, this fanfic is up to maximum ten chapters only with relatively short chapters.
I would like to thank Paulina Ann for inspiration. When she uploaded her story "Chivalry" she got me hooked reading historical romance e-books on Kindle app on my mobile phone.
Thank you Tonnie Seawolf for proofreading my chapter.
The setting is medieval Arus, long before there was a united planet of Arus, when all the kingdoms from all four corners of the planet were still divided.
Taking elements from the 80s Voltron universe, such as the core characters, the robot lions, the unexplained magic that surrounds Voltron's lions and the power crystals, I've placed them in an alternate Arus. There will be absolutely no Doom characters in this story. If you are looking for the evil and ugly baddies, this is not the fic you want to read.
Genre - Romance
Sub genre - Fantasy / Paranormal / Sci-Fi
Rating is T.
Compulsory disclaimer: World Events Productions (WEP) owns Voltron.
In her entire life, she had never run as fast as she did now.
Lady Matilda Hys ran like a princess' life depended on it.
Reaching the royal wing of Castle Alforia, she screeched to an abrupt halt. She flung the door open. "They're here," she said half-screaming and breathless.
"No," The princess said, shock and fear reflected in her eyes. She stood too quickly, knocking over her chair on the ornate parqueted floor.
"The tower watchman saw them. They'll reach us in an hour." Nanny Hys panted. She lunged towards an armoire with a ready set of clothes. "Quickly, change into these. We've rehearsed this for nearly four weeks. This is the only way we can protect you." She helped the princess, quickly unbuttoning her silk gown.
Allura, the last reigning royal princess of Alforia, shrugged off her dress and kicked off her embroidered silk slippers. She yanked all her jewellery, including her blue-stoned circlet and shoved it all in a sack cloth. She stuffed the sack beneath a panel of her large keepsake chest.
"Ready?" Nanny Hys hastily helped Allura into another set of clothes. The fabric was rough and plain, which was far different from what she had been wearing all her life.
Allura nodded, her heart pounding on her chest. She couldn't trust herself to speak.
It was exactly a month ago when her father King Alfor and brother Prince Aldus died. They were killed in the great battle against the kingdom of Altea, led by the mighty army of King Kenneth and his son, Prince Keith. When Allura learnt of their deaths and their defeat, they were given a month to mourn and bury their dead.
They were told that the Alteans would arrive at the end of the month.
Today was that day and they kept their promise.
Shuddering in fear, Allura and her nanny bolted from the royal wing and used the service stairs that led straight down to the kitchen located at the rear part of the castle.
When they reached the large kitchen, everyone stood still. Ignoring the kitchen staff, they ran towards the far end of the cooking area, near the back door.
Nanny hurriedly braided Allura's long, wavy and golden hair. "We're not done yet. Your hair's too brilliant, too-golden. They will suspect straightaway." She creased her brows. Grabbing blackened remnants of burnt firewood, Matilda smeared soot on Allura's hairline and her clean, smooth face. Satisfied at her impromptu handiwork, she tucked all of Allura's hair under a plain white mob cap. "There. That should work," she said, stepping back, letting out a long breath.
All of the castle's kitchen staff stood motionless, staring at them with teary, worried eyes. Their royal princess' transformation was now complete.
They all turned as the castle's steward stumbled breathlessly into the kitchen. "Matilda! Where is she? The invaders have been spotted and they'll be here in minutes," he said frantically.
Lady Hys confidently approached Coran. "Do you see her here?"
Coran quickly swept his eyes among the kitchen staff, from their cook, the kitchen maids and the scullery maids. There were at least twenty identically-clad women of varying ages. He let out a sigh of relief. "No, you are all dressed the same. Your Highness, if you are here, keep your golden hair hidden at all cost."
Allura stepped forward from the back of the group. "I don't like your plan. I feel like a coward hiding from the enemy, when I should be protecting my people and my kingdom."
Coran walked towards Allura. "Your Highness, please. We've already discussed this. This is the only way. They are barbarians and—"
Allura raised her hand. "Enough. I trust you and everyone in the castle." She turned and gratefully gazed at the people who surrounded her. "Thank you for risking your life to protect me."
Everyone knelt and bowed before Allura. Most of them were crying, sniffling, and wiping their eyes with their aprons.
"Your Highness, we will protect you with our lives." Matilda kissed her hand.
Once everyone stood up, Coran spoke to everyone, "To your stations. This is not a drill. This is the real deal now." Coran was about to leave when he stopped, pivoting. He pressed his palm on the side of his head. "Oh, one more thing, Your Highness. They were spotted with having two robot lions. Not just one as initially rumoured, but two."
Allura's eyes widened.
"There's more. We were told that one of them could summon the Blazing Sword."
Allura felt dread and doom had befallen her and her kingdom.
May all the heavens help us.
People stared at them with their mouths agape from pure shock and awe.
"Looks like they didn't expect to see our robot lions today," Lance snickered. He loved the effect that these mighty lion mechas have on the masses.
"Well, the lions are very large metal beasts," Keith said matter-of-factly.
"And compared to the backwater kingdom you're inheriting—"
"Lance." Keith interrupted his second-in-command in a no-nonsense tone.
"Aye, my liege. I shall begin my usual spiel momentarily." Lance chuckled as he stood up from Red Lion's cockpit. He opened the side hatch near the lion's ear and impressively jumped off, making a double somersault before landing in a crouch in front of the delegation of Castle Alforia.
"Show off." Keith rolled his eyes. He rose from his cockpit chair, took a similar exit from the side of Black Lion's head, and used the dais that steadily brought him down to the ground.
Twenty of his best knights alighted their troop carrier, filing two straight lines between the two lions.
Keith saw Lance speaking with an elderly couple. They were nodding to Lance and glancing at the parchment that Lance showed them. It was the treaty between his father, King Kenneth, and the former King Alfor and his son, Prince Aldus.
His second-in-command nodded one last time, pointed at Keith, then purposely strode towards him.
Lance reached his side and quietly spoke. "Those two are the castle's steward, Coran, and head of household, Matilda Hys. I gave them the document, briefly touching each item. They said they will peacefully abide. They barely have enough armed knights or soldiers after the battle ended."
"And the princess? Why is she not here to greet us?" Keith asked. His eyes never left Coran and Matilda.
Lance rubbed the back of his neck. His eyes darted at the elderly couple who continued to read the parchment. "I asked them about their princess. They said they wanted to speak with you directly."
"I see." Keith rubbed his chin. Gazing at the Alforians, he approached them with such commanding presence that was second nature to the prince.
Lance followed Keith and made the formal introductions to the elderly couple. "Master Coran and Lady Hys, I would like you to meet His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Keith Kogane, son of King Kenneth the Wise of the Northern Kingdom."
The two Alforians bowed and curtsied respectively. "We have been expecting you, Your Highness. We have prepared the Great Hall for your arrival. The key people from our kingdom are all here, to hear what would be your edicts for our kingdom." Coran gestured, leading the Alteans towards the great hall.
"If you would excuse me, Your Highness. I shall go ahead and prepare the royal suite." Nanny said.
Keith raised his hand. "No, Lady Hys. Just prepare twenty-two rooms from your guest wing for myself and my knights. While I am with them, I am a knight as well."
Matilda stilled for a moment, trying to understand what the prince had just said. "As you wish, milord." She bowed and went towards the guest wing.
Continuing their walk towards the hall, Keith asked the castle's steward, "Tell me, Coran. Where is your princess? Part of the agreement signed was that when we annex your kingdom, I am to claim Princess Allura as my bride, and that we are to wed within a week."
Coran stopped in his tracks. "Forgive us, milord. She is no longer in Alforia. She left after we buried her father and brother. She went to the east, to the Forest Kingdom. She wanted to become a priestess and devote her life to prayer and service."
"Surely you jest," Lance retorted, standing behind his leader.
"Lance, send scouts to verify this story." Keith quietly ordered his knight. He then turned to Coran. "Why do I sense you are keeping her from us? We assure you no harm shall come to her or any Alforians."
They continued walking in silence until they reached the archway of the Great Hall.
"If you'll excuse me, milord. I shall need to gather our people." Coran went ahead of them and spoke to a group of elderly Alforians who waited near the hearth of the great hall.
Lance grumbled quietly to Keith. "Do you believe that crap that the princess is gone? They can't send her away. We need all the lions. They did say that the keeper of the Blue—"
Keith held up his hand, cutting him off. "Wait, Lance. I sense a presence. I felt it the moment we stepped inside the castle. She's here, hiding." Keith closed his eyes, sending a telepathic wave of calm and reassurance. Then, in his mind, the flickering blue presence was gone, hidden, and out of reach. For now.
When everyone quieted down, Coran motioned everyone to be seated. Keith went up front near the hearth. A hundred pair of eyes latched on to him.
In his father's kingdom, the Alteans saw Keith as the conquering hero.
Order. Precision. Logic. Discipline.
Back home, Keith's prowess on the battlefield was legendary. He was lauded as the perfect hero, respectful of the rules of battle, respected their kingdom's rules and regulations; his reputation was that of calm, confident command.
The kingdom is yours, marry the princess, and get the Blue Lion. His father told him the moment they claimed victory over Alforia. He has had several battles with other kingdoms, but this was the first time that his father had given him a kingdom to rule, manage, and govern.
However, to the people of Alforia, Keith and the Alteans were the marauding horde, barbarians who burned and pillaged kingdoms they conquered. Apparently rumours and news flew to Alforia differently. They thought they were savages.
As the Alforians stared at him with fear and trepidation in their eyes, Keith realised he needed to start from scratch and change his strategy. He needed to win the hearts of the Alforians. Hopefully, with careful planning, he would eventually find his princess-bride.
"We come in peace." Keith paused, swept his gaze from left to right. "Contrary to what you have heard about Altea, we do not pillage and plunder. We will not take your women and children, and we will not burn your villages and houses down. Not from me, and not from my knights who are with me tonight.
"In this peaceful transition, we shall annex the kingdoms with robot lions, under the rule, jurisdiction and administration of King Kenneth the Wise of the Northern Kingdom. Our vision is to unify all the kingdoms of Arus. Our aim is to be the favoured sovereign among all the kingdoms. We shall rule and govern with justice, and maintain peace throughout all the kingdoms.
"We bear a message for Her Royal Highness, Princess Allura. Please tell her that no harm shall come to her and her people.
"We initially negotiated with your king and your crown prince, to join our kingdoms. But they had chosen to resolve our differences through battle. We had won, and I bring proof of the agreement made between the two kingdoms. I had given Coran the original parchment to verify its authenticity." Keith paused one final time, nodding to Coran who lifted the signed agreement.
"As a sign of goodwill, our medical delegation will be arriving tomorrow to cure and heal your knights injured from the great battle. Tonight, my knights and I shall join you in evening meal as brothers."
Allura heard the Crown Prince of Altea's pronouncement loud and clear. She listened, watching from afar, from the very end of the hall. She was kept hidden among similarly-clad kitchen staff. This was the prince who was supposed to claim her as his bride. He appeared tall, probably taller than her brother Aldus. His voice was deep, steady, and calm, rang aloud throughout the great hall.
Other senior castle staff standing on her left, who didn't recognise her disguise, quietly murmured about their new lord.
"He speaks so well," said one staff.
"He's so well spoken," replied the other.
Indeed, they were expecting the worst. They were their conquerors, rumoured as barbarians and savages, killing and pillaging as they annexed kingdoms to their realm.
She was surprised they have treated Coran and Nanny with diplomacy and respect.
Standing in the shadows of one of the pillars at the back of the hall, Allura whispered to Lady Matilda, who stood on her right. "Pass the message around that I have heard His Highness' message. We shall abide to their governance respectfully, provided they abide with their promise that our people shall not be harmed."
Nanny wordlessly nodded. She then discreetly inched her way towards Coran.
Once the prince finished his speech, the crowd began to disperse. Everyone started to head back to their regular stations. Those who were seated in the great hall began to eat.
Walking back to the kitchen, she caught a glimpse of the prince and his Altean knights. They had good table manners and were not pounding tables and shouting like cavemen.
As she reached the back of the kitchen, one of the kitchen maids passed on a message from Lady Hys, "M'lady, Nanny said you have to stay in the kitchen, don't join the serving maids serving food to them and don't go loitering around the hallways."
Allura nodded her assent. It was the first evening with the invaders and everyone was nervous and on edge.
Grabbing an armful of dirty pots and pans, Allura thought that now she was dressed as a scullery maid, she might as well take on the full role.
For the very first time in her entire life, the Princess of Alforia was about to scrub her first set of dirty pots and pans.
(TO BE CONTINUED)