Legend Of Zelda: Blood Of The Holders by coasty30
Summary: A corrupt Hylian Lord seeks the power of the dark center of the Triforce, the Trivoid.
Categories: Fan Fiction Characters: Zelda, Link (OoT & MM), Impa
Genres: None
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 13 Completed: No Word count: 28550 Read: 71762 Published: Dec 31, 2004 Updated: Aug 24, 2005

1. Prolouge by coasty30

2. Chapter 1: Hyrule City by coasty30

3. Chapter 2: Hyrule Field by coasty30

4. Chapter 3: Turnpike Inn by coasty30

5. Chapter 4: Hyrule Palace by coasty30

6. Chapter 5 The Road To Hyrule CIty by coasty30

7. Chapter 6 The Royal Archives by coasty30

8. Chapter 8 Lon Lon Ranch by coasty30

9. Chapter 8 Hyrule Palace Grounds by coasty30

10. Chapter 9 Guest Appartments by coasty30

11. Chapter 10 Reunions by coasty30

12. Chapter 11: The Third Person by coasty30

13. Chapter 12 The Broken Man's Battered Shell by coasty30

Prolouge by coasty30
Legend of Zelda:
Blood of the Holders

Prologue

The heavy rain signaled the end of winter in the port city of Nautalin on the Hyrulian coast. The streets lining docks were mostly empty with the regular people in their homes or at Inns seeking shelter from the rain. It was several hours after sunset and the rain made the night all the darker and lighting would flash illuminating the masts of ships moored at the docks. The cloaked horseman galloped down the wet cobblestone streets leading to the waterfront, spurring the horse through the driving rain. The rider held the reigns tight while trying to hold his cloak closed, spurring his horse to go faster. After several minutes the rider approached the waterfront and reined the horse to a stop, and after spying the waterfront buildings. The hooded head of the rider looked over the whole of the dock before spurring his horse into a slow trot towards a small shack attached to a dock. Another cloaked figure could be seen and as the rider approached he dismounted quickly and threw the reigns to the other cloaked man, almost effortlessly, and walked to the door of the shack without saying a word.

The sound of the door bursting open didn’t startle the bent old man in the dusty brown cloak who stood in front of the fireplace.
“Always prompt, you honor me m’lord.” He said not turning to look from the fire. The dark rider lowered the hood of his cloak, revealing the face of a strong and handsome man aged but still youthful looking with shoulder length white hair. His face would have been perfectly flawless except for the scar on the right side of his face; from his ear to his chin was a poorly healed battle scar.
“What do you want Halinic?” The man asked with a sense of annoyance. The old man named Halanic, turned from the fire holding a teapot, seemingly unaffected by the cloaked man’s mood.
“Patience, m’lord, patience.” Halanic said and then lifted the pot. “To warm you, there is still a chill in the air.” A cold look from the cloaked man was the only answer that he got, but Halanic started to pour tea into the cups regardless. “Sit m’lord.” Halanic said gesturing to the chair, at the table. He didn’t move showing a dark stair to the old man as his anger started to grow, but again Halanic was not frightened.
“Surly the great Lord Halon Alromon, vanquisher of the Gerudo raiders, has time for tea, with an old man.” He said, and with this the cloaked Lord Alromon sat at the table.
“I pay you well, Halanic for the information you give me, be worth the expense. Why am I here.” He asked bringing the teacup to his lips.

Halanic staggered over to the fire and putting the teapot back as he made his way back to the table sitting down across from Lord Alromon.
“It is spring, the Princess will be eighteen before the next full moon.” Halanic said settling into his chair. Lord Alromon was now very annoyed.
“The whole of Hyrule knows this, you wrinkled fool.” He uttered slamming his fist table, but Halanic continued calmly.
“For her birthday, her father the King will bestow upon her a gift, and I do not mean a betrothal.” Lord Alromon’s eyes widened briefly showing his surprise. “He will give her a seat on the Council Of Lords.” He finished seeing the surprise on his guest’s face. “That is something the whole of Hyrule has yet to find out.” Halanic added.
“Indeed” Lord Alromon said, knowing that only a few council Lords including him had been entrusted with the knowledge of the Princess’s appointment. “Alright Halanic, I am listening, what is so important that I come alone?”
For the first time since the meeting started Halanic showed discomfort.
“I told you to come alone, because I didn’t want that demon of a guardian who follows you coming.” Halanic said spitting on the floor of the shack indicating his distaste. Lord Alromon laughed.
“Fear is the true motivator Halanic.” After taking a large pull from his teacup he continued. “What is your price, old man?” The fear Halanic had felt now turned to anticipation.
“How much is in your purse m’lord?” The statement angered Lord Alromon, as veins stood out on his head and neck.
“You’re fortunate I didn’t bring my demon as you describe him, if I had your head would be rolling on the floor!” He yelled, but Halanic had returned to his unshaken state.
“The information I have is worth the price m’lord, I assure you.” But Lord Alromon’s anger still flared.
“What I carry in my purse could feed you well for the remainder of your impoverished existence. What information could you have that is worth that much?” Lord Alromon stood spilling his half empty teacup, and as turned to leave Halanic raised his teacup to his lips to cover the devious smile.
“The Triforce.” He said pleasantly before taking a sip of his tea. Lord Alromon stopped and turned to look back at Halanic again.
“There are many rumors, about where it is, how could you know?” He said clenching his fists, but Halanic looked offended.
“Have I not provided you with accurate information, those Gerudo, you vanquished how did you know where the encampment was.” He said in a playful tone, Lord Alromon brought his hand up to his face, it was a Gerudo blade that gave him the scar on his face, but he had been hailed a hero by the King, and used his prestige since then to rise to his seat on the Council.
“Alright you’ve proven your point. What do you know, of the Triforce?” He uttered still feeling his scar. Halanic smiled.
“My price?” He inquired, and his answer was the sound of the Lord’s heavy purse hitting the table.
“Tell me old man.” He said, as if in a trance. Halanic fidgeted in his seat as if telling a story to his grandkids.
“The Princess’s celebration in less than three weeks, the invitations have already gone out, by royal courier.” He said still in his playful tone, but Lord Alromon’s anger only grew.
“I’ve got mine. Your point old man!” Halanic continued.
“One courier was sent weeks before the others, carrying an invitation drafted by the Princess herself.” This again made Lord Alromon look at the old man with surprise. “They’re looking for him.” He finished.
“I shouldn’t be surprised, those two were all but inseparable, until…” He started but did not finish more thinking aloud than speaking, and then turned toward Halanic. “What does he have to do with the Triforce?” He asked, and Halanic was ready with the answer.
“Him and the Princess, hold the key, so my source says. m’lord.” He finished taking the purse from the table, as Lord Alromon processed the information he had received. “Was that not worth the rupees m’lord?” Halanic asked, but Lord Alromon waved him off and left the shack raising his hood. “Anytime you need information m’lord.” Halanic said as Lord Alromon left.

The cloaked man who had taken Lord Alromon’s horse quickly brought the animal back. He took the reigns and walked slowly to end of the cobblestone street along the dock. He pulled his cloak around him to fight off the chill in the air, as stood he next to a dark alley.
“Need I ask if you’re there?” Lord Alromon asked, as he stood next to the alley and a dark shadow stepped forward. “You were listening?” Lord Alronom asked not looking up.
“I was my lord.” The answer was a vaporous hiss. “Was it worth that many rupees?” The voice asked, and Lord Alronom nodded.
“It was?” Then he mounted his horse. “As little as it was I now know much more than I did.” He said steadying himself in his saddle. “With that many rupees the old fool can retire.” He said, setting his feet in the stirrups.
“Indeed.” The Shadow replied.
“Retire, him.” Lord Alromon said spurning his horse.
“As you wish, my lord.” The shadow lunged across the street through the window of Halanic’s shack, looking more like the dark alleyway had spit some of the darkness out of it. The old man did manage a brief shriek, but the rain made it unheard, even to the cloaked man outside.
Chapter 1: Hyrule City by coasty30
Hyrule City

The songs of the birds greeted the morning sun as it rose in the east over the hills that surrounded Hyrule Castle and separated it from the sprawling buildings of the city. She was awake before sunrise, standing on the balcony that overlooked the vast gardens. For Princess Zelda, this was almost a daily ritual, morning was really the only time of day when she was alone. She stood in her nightgown that was much lighter and more comfortable than the royal garments she would be adorned with. Zelda took a few more moments to breathe and enjoy the new morning, because any minute now when her lady-in-waiting would come, and begin the daily ritual. Almost on cue, her lady-in-waiting Malinia announced her arrival with a gentle knock on the large double doors; her privacy for the day had now ended.
“Come in, Malinia.” Zelda said, grabbing a robe next to her canopy bed. The doors opened and a cheery looking woman with a bright white bonnet covering her the top of her head. She was a few years older than Zelda and walked in, carrying fresh linens.
“Highness, I bid you good morning.” Malinia said, bowing. Zelda nodded her head in acknowledgment.
“Good morning, Malinia.” The two shared a quick embrace.
“It is a rather beautiful morning, Highness, the spring has come early.” Malinia replied, quickly going about her chores. The morning was warm with a gentle breeze and had been that way for the last several days.
“Yes, it has.” Zelda agreed, looking at herself in the mirror, she wore no make-up and her near waist-length blond hair was messy from the night’s slumber. “Any word from our couriers?” She asked, the hint of anticipation in her voice.
“I’ve not heard your highness, but Her Majesty would like you to join her for breakfast in the garden.” The latter statement surprised Zelda, as she sat in the chair so Malinia could fix her hair and apply her makeup.
“Mother wishes to see me this early? That is strange.” She said shrugging. “She is normally asleep till near midday.” She added as Malinia started at her hair. “I wonder what she wishes to see me about?” Zelda thought aloud.
“I can’t say, Highness.” Malinia said, hands now skillfully working Zelda’s hair. “I’m as surprised as you are.” Zelda nodded in agreement.
“It proves to be an interesting day, and the sun has barely broken the horizon.”

After she had finished being dressed and ready, Zelda wished Malinia good day, and made her way though the many spacious polished corridors of Hyrule Castle to the east gardens. Her mother was seated in a large stone gazebo near a small stream that ran through the palace gardens surrounded by servants. Zelda’s mother, Queen Rimeena stood and the servants bowed and curtsied as her daughter entered the gazebo. “Good morning, mother.” Zelda said pleasantly as approaching the queen, and her mother smiled, seeing her. She had never seen much resemblance between her mother and herself, the king had always told her that she had the beauty and strength of her grandmother.
“Good morning, Zelda.” The queen returned, and the two kissed each other on the cheek, before sitting down at the large intricately caved wooden table.

After Zelda and her mother were seated, the queen clapped her hands and the servants immediately went to work placing silver trays of fruit and fresh bread on the table. There was silence between Zelda and her mother for some minutes as the servants worked, and after one servant placed a small plate with thee hard-boiled eggs in front of Zelda, she choose to break the now awkward silence.
“You wanted to see me, mother?” She asked, and the Queen stirred in her chair a moment before speaking.
“Yes, my daughter. Pardon me it’s very early.” She answered with a yawn. This gave the princess an awkward feeling, especially around the servants; it was a daily ritual for Zelda to be up before sunrise but the servants had been up hours before sunrise, preparing the meal that was before them and would be up some hours after it set with cleaning up and doing their normal chores. “Zelda…” Her mother started breaking her trance.
“Yes, mother?” She asked. The queen put on a weak smile.
“Zelda, about the Council of Lords, you’ll be eighteen soon. You’re not old enough to sit on the council. And….” The queen paused.
“And what mother?” Zelda asked.
“You’re a princess, Zelda, it’s not your place.” She finished, and then began eating some grapes.
“But I’m old enough for you to be looking for my future husband.” Zelda said starting on her eggs as well.
“The future king, Zelda.” Rimeena corrected, a hardened tone in her voice. “I don’t know how you convinced your father to give you that seat on the council. You know how I feel about it.”
The statement angered Zelda. “I didn’t convince Father, he understands the necessity behind my appointment, and I won’t be the first woman on the council. Lady Nianel was on the council seventy years ago.” She was trying not to argue with her mother, but the queen was not to be denied her say.
“Your father may understand, Zelda, but I don’t. You are wise beyond your years, child. I will admit that, but how will you stand with the lords?” Her voice broke as she wiped a tear away. Zelda knew that her mother was sadder about her leaving to live in the city of Nautalin than being appointed to the Council.
“I’ll manage, Mother. Please don’t worry.” Zelda now felt sorry for her mother.
“You are your grandmother so much, child.” Rimeena added, and the guilt Zelda felt mounted on her heart increased. If the queen continued, she would bring Zelda to tears as well. Thinking fast, she decided to bring up something that would lifther mother’s spirits.
“So, how are the celebration plans going, Mother? I trust we’ve heard some replies.” The assumption had been correct, and Rimeena brightened up, the depressing mood dissipated along with the morning mist. “Oh yes, several couriers returned just the other day with hundreds of RSVP’s.” The queen smiled, continuing to eat. Zelda wasn’t surprised by the numbers because being invited to a royal banquet especially one celebrating the birthday of a royal family member was not an event an ambitious noble would miss. There was only one RSVP she worried about and Zelda couldn’t help but feel anticipation despite the cool morning breeze. She started to sweat in her hands, and even felt it down in her feet.
“Mother, did…?” She started to ask, but her mother already knew the question.
“No, Zelda. Impa hasn’t returned yet.” Embarrassment surged through Zelda and the even her make-up couldn’t hide her blushing; the queen knew her better then she let on. “Though I don’t see why you concern yourself.”
“It’s been years, Mother. I miss him.” She uttered, shrugging her shoulders, and pushing the half-eaten eggs away, her appetite gone.
“Do you think he’ll even come, Zelda dear?” Rimeena asked before sipping her tea.
“I hope.” Zelda answered in a hushed tone; she’d worked some hours writing the invitation herself even by candlelight after the sun went down.
“He left so suddenly, Zelda, with hardly a word to anyone. All he left was an unmade bed and undone chores.” The queen had crossed a line and Zelda let her know it with the dark look she shot at her mother. The princess knew why Link had left.
“I gave him leave to go, Mother. You know this. Besides, he was not a servant. Can we speak alone?” She asked with a subtle gesture to the servants.
“Leave us.” Rimeena said nonchalantly, and the gathered maids curtsied and left quickly. Watching as the maids filed out of the gazebo she traded a smile with a few that she knew well and waited a moment until they had all left, and only when they had returned inside the palace did Zelda continue.
“He’s done more than you can possibly imagine, suffered hardships you’d die before enduring, and he lived through it. He left to find the friend that shared those hardships with him.” The princess said, the sternness in her conveying the frustration she felt towards her mother. “I owe him more than I could possibly repay.” She had finished her speech, slouching in the chair.
“Zelda!? I really don’t understand this.” Her mother exclaimed, showing her own frustration.
“I know, Mother.” Zelda said, standing up. “It no longer matters if you do.”
A look of total surprise came across Queen Rimeena’s face. “Zelda!” She uttered in shock.
“I bid you good day, Mother.” Zelda said with a bow before walking away, knowing she had upset her mother and she would probably hear more from the queen later that day, and this upset the princess. She wanted to be on better terms with her mother, but as Zelda matured into a young woman, her interest turned away from the tea parties and gossip that ruled her mother’s life. Her tendency to speak her mind had driven a wedge between them that often left Zelda with a heavy heart, and near to tears; she loved her mother dearly, but she had to move on, even if it meant leaving her mother behind.
Chapter 2: Hyrule Field by coasty30
Hyrule Field

Creeping up as silently as he could, feeling the erratic heartbeats of the bush quails in the foliage by the river, Link tried to suppress his anticipation. His supply of dried beef had run out a week before and he’d eaten nothing but fish since, giving him the great desire for something else. He moved slowly, holding his bow with an arrow notched towards the foliage, pulling the string back until the fletching kissed his cheek. In a moment, he would kick a stone into the foliage, causing the birds to scatter. The near hysterical heartbeats of the birds filled his inner thoughts; his need to hunt over the years had taken its effect on him and made him a skilled hunter, but had also developed the ability to feel heartbeats of all creatures near him. The amount of beats he could feel told Link that there had to be at least twenty bush quail hiding in the foliage. The beats remained steady as he prepared to kick the stone.
Boom! Link halted, he could feel a much larger heartbeat, and now it was him that was being hunted. Boom! It was behind him, sneaking up on him just as he was sneaking up on the bush quail. Boom! It was close, it was big, and any second it would strike at Link. Boom! Breathing deep, Link pulled the bowstring tighter, and slowly took a few steps forward, not allowing the creature to realize that Link had discovered it. Boom! He turned quick on his heel and loosed the arrow, impacting and stopping the large heart. The creature was a huge Octorok that had risen out of the river and the shriek it uttered as Link’s arrow pierced its heart made the bush quails he’d been hunting fly away. Link felt his heart sink as his prey escaped, fleeing deeper into the woods.

“Fish again.” Link mumbled in frustration, and turned to watch as the Octorok’s body dissipate into black smoke. He walked up to retrieve the arrow and anything else that magical creature may have left. Nothing but his broken arrow remained; though he was disappointed, this was a good thing. Rupees, the currency of Hyrule, didn’t digest in an Octorok’s stomach; the creature not having any Rupees inside it meant that it hadn’t eaten any travelers. Pulling the head off the broken arrow shaft, Link sighed, “Fish again.” He uttered again out loud; the Octorok, possibly having rupees in it, was his last chance for a decent meal. The hunting had not been plentiful and his rupees were even less. Link took a deep breath and whistled a short tune, and within seconds the pounding of hooves could be heard approaching. A minute later, a slender young brown and white mare trotted up to Link and affectionately nudged him with her nose, and Link returned it with a pat on her head. “Hello, Epona. Looks like we’re having fish again tonight.” He said with mock enthusiasm. The mare shook her head as if feeling the same lack of enthusiasm that Link did. “I agree, girl.” He muttered again, removing a small net from the saddlebag.

It was just after sundown, and Link sat on a cloth propped against a rock around a roaring fire. Three fish were skewered on sticks roasting over the fire, and the bones of two more were discarded nearby. Link watched as the flames started turning the wood to embers, and seeing the three fish Link sighed; he was tired of fish and these three would most likely go to waste. He could hear Epona behind him, he never tied her down; she was well trained and never went far away, and she always responded to the tune that her trainer, Malon, had taught him. Link sat trying to sleep, his Kokiri sword close at hand. A few moments later, he felt a familiar nudge on the back of his head. “I’m tired, Epona. Not tonight.” He said to the horse, but another nudge told him that it would not be that easy. “What?” He yelled, turning to face the animal and for a few moments, Link was in a standoff with the mare. “I guess it’s the only way I’m going to get any peace tonight.” Link said, relenting and rummaged through the saddlebag that was now on the ground next to his bedroll, and removed a beautifully carved blue ocarina with the symbol of the Triforce on the mouthpiece.
The instrument was one of Link’s most prized possessions. His life for the last four years forbade him to have many possessions, and he had only a few reminders of what he held most dear. After years of traveling, Link had met several minstrels and musicians who had taught him some songs, and with all that, he’d learned he would have trouble deciding which song to play. After some minutes, there was another nudge from Epona. “Do you want me to play or not?” He said, looking her in the eye again, “I know you want me to play, just relax.” Link then sat on his bedroll and slowly raised the mouthpiece to his lips.
There was a quick stray note, but then a simple melody had formed, a melody he knew well. The melody had held great power and helped him in the past, but it was a simple lullaby. It was a song he’d tried to forget on many occasions, but found himself playing it over and over again, and that’s when the memories and faces would start, her face and the memory of how she’d listen as he played the lullaby, how he would climb vines that grew up the side of the tower to her room at night at her request to play the song she loved, and especially the kiss on the cheek he would get in gratitude as he left. He and her shared a bond that was beyond friendship and the memories that flooded his mind were now of separation and how the vines he would climb at night were cut down and she was put into private study, and he was sent to the stables. Link had decided to search for Navi, his guardian fairy who’d been with him through a great quest. She had given him the ocarina when he left to remember her by.

The last few notes that he played were broken as the pain came back, and Link dropped the ocarina at his side. A tear worked its way passed his tightly closed eyes, and he sat for a moment trying hard regain his composure. The appearance of a heartbeat in his awareness broke the spell and his right hand immediately went to the small sword at his side. The beat was human sized, and it approached him and in a few seconds it would be in the light of the fire.
“Peace, good sir! I saw the fire while I was strolling, then I heard that beautiful tune. I had come and see who was playing it. You’re talented, my boy.” He heard and a moment later a well-dressed elderly man came into the light of the fire.
“And to you as well.” Link answered, quickly wiping his face. The man came closer as Link relaxed the grip on his small dagger-like sword. “Thank you, sir. It’s one of the first I learned.” He added, sitting up.
“I give great praise to your teacher. I played a lute in my younger years, but age has stiffened my hands.” He said, as he walked closer to Link. “I’m Paldnor Gorely.” He said, extending his hand. The two clasped wrists, a friendly gesture.
“My name is Link.” Feeling the sudden need to talk to someone, Link gestured to a large rock. “Please sit, my fire is open to all.”
“Thank you. My late wife and I enjoyed nighttime walks in the spring; it wasn’t long ago when walking at night meant certain death. But times are getting better, and that is good.”
Link nodded in agreement, despite his duel with the Octorok earlier, his run-ins with magical monsters were less every year. “I remember.” He said, memories of his first night outside of the Kokiri Forest flooding his mind.
“That is quite a catch, my young friend.” Paldnor said, pointing to the roasting fish.
“Help yourself.” Link said, “I’ve lost my taste for them, since I’ve been eating them for about a week now. Hunting is bad around here.”
“Thank you.” Paldnor said leaning down and taking one of the skewered fish, taking a bite from it. As he feasted, Epona walked up to greet the new guest. “Quite a mare you have.” Paldnor stated, looking at her with widened eyes. “You should hitch her to a tree though. Some brigand might steal her.”
That statement made Link laugh. “It’s been tried before, and I’d be more worried for the poor fool who tried to steal Epona; she’s well trained.” He replied, his mood brighter. “She had a great trainer, and that horse and I have been through much together.”
Paldnor listened and nodded as he feasted on the roasted fish. “So where is your destination?” He asked after finishing with a bite.
“I haven’t decided on that.” Link answered. “It’s been a while since I called anywhere home”.
“That is a terrible shame, but if it wasn’t for my late wife, I myself would’ve been quite the drifter.” The statement had taken Link aback; he’d never thought of himself as a drifter, but as he remembered the years traveling and moving around he could now see that’s exactly what he was. “What trade keeps you moving so much, you’re quite young to be a traveling craftsman, or carpenter?” Paldnor asked as he feasted.
Link thought for a moment. “At first, I was looking for someone. I found them some months ago.” He answered, remembering the adventures he had while searching for Navi. “I found her, and my quest was finished. I was glad to see her, but by then she had found where she needed to be. So I went on my way to find where I need to be.” Talking to Paldnor helped settle Link’s wounded heart. He’d thought of returning to the palace many times, but the thought of returning to the stables or being sent to the kitchens, and catching only the occasional glimpse of Zelda before she was quickly ushered away, kept Link away from Hyrule City and most of the large towns.
“A sad story, Link, truly. Was she a special lady close to your heart?” He asked inquisitively.
Link smiled. “A friend I shared a great adventure with. I left the one close to my heart to find her.” He answered, sitting up to stir the coals in the fire. He feared Paldnor would inquire further but to his surprise and relief, the old man changed the topic.
“You must stay in town. We’re planning a grand celebration for next week, and the feasting will bested only by the tapped ale casks.” Paldnor replied with a giddy smile.
The offer had compelled Link, for after a week of eating fish made him yearn for the wide variety of a feast. “I shall consider it, but what celebration warrants such a grand feast?” He asked.
“Detached you are, young sir.” Paldnor answered, finishing the fish before continuing. “Princess Zelda is turning eighteen, and will be granted a great honor. I wish I could see the festivities at Hyrule City; they will make ours look like a gathering at the corner market.” Paldnor continued to speak of previous celebrations from his past, and as he droned on the images flew through his head. “You really should join us.” Paldnor added, breaking the spell.
The memories in Link’s mind made the thought of celebration impossible. “I doubt I have the rupees to attend, sir.” Link shook his head, but Paldnor was not satisfied.
“All men are lords at such celebrations, and if it’s rupees you need then arrangements can be made, there is never a shortage of tasks that need doing.”
Link had worked for meals before, and would spend winter months in towns and farms helping out. He’d never stayed in any town for longer than a winter, though, and usually left as the snow melted, but Link was determined to avoid the town’s celebration.
“A very generous offer, sir, but I plan on making my way further east, the planting will start in mere few days and I could make a good deal of rupees if I’m there to start the plowing.” Link lied, thinking quickly, and apparently Paldnor had believed him.
“Truly, they need all the help they can get for bountiful harvest to be sure.”
Link felt guilty about lying to the old man, but he doubted Paldnor would have relented without such a reason, and Link wasn’t totally sure that Paldnor wasn’t looking for a stable hand or laborer. A few moments of silence passed before Paldnor spoke again. “Have you met many people in your journeys?”
The sudden change of subject relived Link once more. “Very many.” He answered.
“Do you remember any of them?”
Link nodded. “I do.” He answered which was very much an understatement. The power that gave Link the ability to feel heartbeats also seemed to give him the ability to recall a face that he’d seen. “I have quite a memory when it comes to faces.” He finished with a smile.
A grin slipped passed Paldnor’s face as well. “Then a trip to town might be quite profitable for you.” Paldnor apparently had not given up.
“Oh?” He said inquisitively.
“At the inn, there is a woman. She’s a royal courier, and she’s looking for someone, and offering a rather heavy bag of rupees for the person who can point her in the right direction.” He finished and looked to Link waiting for an answer like it was the climax of an exciting story.
“I do not think I could be of any help.” He answered, but Paldnor quickly came back.
“You won’t know until you try, my boy, but she leaves in the morning.” Paldnor was now very convincing.
Link started to ask another question, but was cut off. “If you can help her you’ll have enough rupees for a night at the inn, and if not, then be a guest in my home, as payment for the finely roasted fish.”
After this, Link realized that Paldnor would not be denied, and finally Link relented. “If you insist sir.” He answered, standing up.
“Excellent! But we must hurry I hope it is not too late.” Paldnor beamed, getting to his feet.

The two walked at a quickened pace to the town of Porsail, with Link holding Epona’s reins as Paldnor filled the air with his stories from the past. Link noticed that as he told his story, his voice had a hint of extra confidence, as if he had achieved a great feat in convincing Link to accompany him back to the town, and now Link felt that somehow the old man would find a way to keep him in town for the celebration. Link had purposely kept his past years living at the palace a secret, because as kindly as Paldnor was, he was certain his story would be all over the town, whether or not Paldnor believed him.
“This courier is a woman?” Link asked as the lights of the town appeared in the night.
“Aye, and a rather brawny looking one at that; she’s bigger than most men in the village.” Paldnor answered, using his hands to show how tall she was.
Memories sparked. “What was her name?” He’d met many of the royal couriers in his years and none of them had been women, but he did know a rather tall woman from the palace.
“I never got it, there were so many gathered around her telling her they knew who she was looking for. I never got the chance to talk to her; she had a large bag of rupees for the one who pointed her in the right direction, said she’d know if they were lying.”
Magic was the first word that entered Links mind; the ability to discern truth from lie was a difficult spell. The courier was well trained and very focused. “She reminds me of a young maiden from my youth.” Paldnor continued, starting another story. “She was a vision, a spring flower.” The old man seemed to be made of stories, and Link wondered how many more stories Paldnor would tell before he met the courier, and the many more he would hear while as a guest in his house.
“You have many stories Paldnor, I’m sure you’re a welcome guest at the local tavern.” Link answered, speaking up as Paldnor finished.
“If I could learn all the stories in history, it would be a dream realized.” He replied with a smile.
“Is that what you do? Collect stories?” Link asked, to pass the time, and Paldnor obliged him with a lengthy answer. “I learned to be a leather craftsman from my father-in-law, but in my youth, my main activity was trouble.”
“Trouble?! You?!”
“Unlike you, by your age, I had the entire town of Porsail wanting to flog the hide off my back.” He replied, making whipping motions with his hand. “If it wasn’t for the man who would become my father-in-law, and his stubborn young maiden of a daughter, I shudder to think where I would have ended up.” Paldnor added.
“You’re a leather craftsman?” Link asked, feeling the worn spots through the soles his boots. Perhaps the old man could help him patch them or show him some of his trade, he’d managed to buy a new belt some time ago but his scabbard and boots would wear out soon.
“I was never the master that my father-in-law was, but I provided for myself and my late wife, goddesses give her rest.” Paldnor started in his lengthy way. “I took on an apprentice several years ago, it was not long before he was better than I, but he was a loyal friend, so I handled the business end.” He continued, as they walked and Link could see the large building with several horses and carriages outside, and what appeared to be quite a bit of commotion, but Paldnor continued his story. “After my wife passed on, my heart was not in the work anymore, not that it was much to begin with; I did it for her and for my mentor. I gave the business to my talented protégé after my hands began to stiffen with age.”
After the story was told, Paldnor looked to the large building now before the two men. “Here we are.” He said, not hiding vigor he felt. Outside the inn was a large gathering of people conversing in angered tones, the tallest of the group seemed enraged, as Link could tell; his heart beating fast and hard, and from what Link could hear the royal courier had apparently called him a liar.
“That one seems mad.” Link whispered as the large man watched him and Paldnor approached the inn. Paldnor refused to return the look and quickened his pace. “Solormin, a hunter. The strongest man in town.” He said in a hushed and hurried tone.
“I see.” Link said, as he made eye contact with the tall Solormin.
“What do you bring into town, old man?” Solormin called to them as they passed. Several others gathered around Solormin had now taken notice to Link and Paldnor.
“Play along, Link.” Plandor said quickly to his companion, then turned to face the hunter. “Solormin, this is Link.” Paldnor continued as if introducing him to his best friend, apparently Paldnor was a good actor as well. “Link, this is Solormin, one of the best hunters in the village.”
Following what Paldnor said, Link extended his hand. “A pleasure, sir” He answered with a fake smile, but Solormin’s attention was on Paldnor. “I’m the best hunter, old man.” He shot back, not hiding the anger, and Link could feel his heart beat increase with anger.
Paldnor answered with an inclination of his head. “My apologies, Solormin” Link felt the large man’s heart ease; Paldnor’s false praise had appeased the large man. “Link is an old friend of my family, and I invited him to come for the festival.” Paldnor lied. Link felt more than one set of eyes gazing at him, and it was then that he realized that the years of living and surviving on his own had taken its toll. Link had instinctively brought his hand to the hilt of his Kokiri sword, which was now more of a large dagger than a sword. The heartbeats of the gathered men quickened, like thunder to Link’s ears, and he now tried to block them out. Solormin watched Link’s hand move to hilt of the small sword and a sarcastic grin came to his face.
“Do you plan on using that here, boy?” He said, and Link felt Solormin’s heart beat quicken yet again. The tall man came up to his full height, and tightened his large biceps. Glancing quickly to both sides, Link spied two of Solormin’s friends to his left, one on his right next to Paldnor, and his senses told him there were two more behind him. Doubting that the old man would be much help in a fight, Link slowly lowered his hand, letting it fall once more to his side.
“No, sir” Link said sounding apologetic. “I’m sorry, I’ve been out in the wild for a while, haven’t had a real roof over my head in some time.” He added, embellishing his situation, and hoping he didn’t sound too pathetic. Solormin’s eyes gave Link a quick once over and although the hard look on his face did not change his heart beat eased.
“You look like it!” Solormin replied, with a quick surge forward but Link held his ground, and Solormin’s attention returned to the old man. “You think that this scruffy boy may be the one that the courier is looking for?” He asked backing away, with his group falling in behind him. “She’s too proper, and reeks of royalty. He merely reeks.” The group burst in to laughter as they gathered to talk.

Paldnor wasted no time and led Link towards the inn.
“I’m sorry, Link. Do not feel bad; he’s like that to nearly everyone, except those in his social circle.” Paldnor stated, shooting a quick glance over his shoulder. “You were right not to provoke him. Not totally smart, but he’s strong as a Goron.” Link was no longer listening to Paldnor the smell of roasting cuckoo was coming from the open window of the inn, and several days of nothing but roasted fish had taken its toll on Link. The aroma of the roasting meat tempted his pallet, as well as his stomach as it gave a growl, and Link wondered how much of the roasted bird his few rupees would get him.

The two men stepped through the doorway into the inn. The main room of the inn was full; there was not an empty table to be seen and all the people had the impending festival on their lips.
“Now where is this courier? The sooner we see her, the sooner we can feast my young friend.” Paldnor’s words caught Link’s attention, and he looked at the old man. “I smell it too, my boy; the chef is particularly good.” He finished with a smile. Paldnor looked around the room for several seconds. “Pa’cal...Pa’cal!” He called while waving his arm. Soon, a short apron-wearing man with long gray hair came towards Paldnor.
“I had a feeling I would be seeing you Paldnor.” Pa’cal said in a high shaky voice, and he shook hands with Paldnor. “The moment Monal lit the fire under those birds, I knew I’d see you.” The two laughed, before Pa’cal noticed Link. “Who’s your friend?” The two attentions turned to Link.
“This is Link.” Paldnor introduced him, and Pa’cal wiped his hand on his apron and extended it to Link.
“Welcome to the Turnpike Inn, Link.” Pa’cal offered enthusiastically. Link shook hands with the short innkeeper.
“Thank you.” Was all Link had managed to say, before Pa’cal cut in.
“I always make room, Paldnor at the bar.” Pa’cal said patting old man on the shoulder. “I’m sure we can find some more for your young friend.” The two men smiled and Link immediately became worried.
“Sir, I don’t have many rupees.” Link started, but was again cut off this time by Paldnor.
“We’ll need two plates of Monal’s wonderful birds, two flagons of ale, and every bit of news you have for my young friend here.” Paldnor requested handing Pa’cal a red rupee. “But first we need to meet with that courier. Where is she? The sooner we see her, the sooner we can eat and talk.” Pa’cal’s smile disappeared at the mention of the courier.
“She’s in the back room. Most of whom you see here would be very happy to see her leave, no matter how many rupees she has.” He passed to them in hushed tone.
“What has she done?” Paldnor asked in the same hushed tone, and Pa’cal shrugged.
“Nothing at all besides turn away everyone who came looking for that bounty. She even turned away Solormin, twice I hear.” Pa’cal’s answer caused Paldnor to nod in agreement. “He was quite angry outside.” He added gesturing to the door, and the smile returned.
“Would have been good to see old Solormin try to take his anger out on her, she’d break him in two.” Pa’cal finished with a chuckle, but Link was suddenly interested.
“What’s her name?” He asked Pa’cal.
“I don’t remember exact, something short. That surprised me.” Pa’cal’s answer had now peaked Paldnor’s interest, but Link’s mind automatically brought the memory of one person in particular. “She’s proper and clean, just like any royals I’ve ever met. Not that I ever meet a lot, but she got no title, no nothing; doesn’t even want me to call her M’lady.” Paldnor was surprised by Pa’cal’s description.
“She’s in the back room?” The old man asked again, pointing to the back of the crowded room.
“Aye she is.” Pa’cal answered. “Best go and be done with it. I’ll have your food and ale waiting for you.” Paldnor started to lead Link through the large crowd.
“Thank you, sir.” Link said to Pa’cal. The innkeeper only nodded in reply.

It took several minutes to get to the back room; every table they passed someone seemed to recognize Paldnor and attempt to strike up a conversation or to join them for a flagon of ale. Slowly though, the two made there way to the door, and for the longest stretch of time, Paldnor was silent. The door was open only a few inches, and the flickering of a fire could be seen in the inner wall.
“It will be warm in there.” The old man said as they walked up to the door. “We walk in say hello, and then we eat, drink, and converse.” Paldnor added, patting Link on the shoulder. Link felt a tad overwhelmed by the old man’s generosity.
“Paldnor, you don’t have to do all this for me. I can do some work for you or something.” But Paldnor shook his head.
“I owe you a meal for the fish and fire you offered me, my boy. Besides, I long for company and conversation. You, my friend, have provided me with both. The rupees I drop on the table tonight are well spent, and I will hear no more of it.” The sense of finality in Paldnor’s voice told Link that talking about it further would offend the old man. Link relented and silently vowed to repay his new friend however he could. “Now let us go inside, Link; Monal’s cooking calls to me.” And with that, Paldnor opened the door.

They entered to see a tall, bulky, white-haired woman sitting at a table with a roaring fire in the hearth. She didn’t seem to notice them enter, and although he hadn’t seen her face yet, Link recognized Princess Zelda’s nursemaid and mentor, Impa. Link felt the steady heartbeat of someone lost in thought.
“Excuse me madam…” Paldnor started, and Impa looked up at the two men in the doorway. “My apologies for disturbing you…” Link felt the heartbeat quicken at this, while the woman shot up out of her chair quickly, startling Paldnor. “My goodness!” He exclaimed, as Impa walked over to them, a large smile now on her face as she stood right in front of Link.
“Link!” She exclaimed.
“Hello, Impa.” He replied, returning her smile.
“You look well.” Link didn’t have the chance to reply; she had gathered Link in a big bear hug. “I’ve been looking for you for some time now. I was about ready to move to the next town.” The big woman said, releasing Link from her vice-like hold. “Who is this man, Link?” Impa asked, gesturing to Paldnor. Link watched the surprised look on the old man’s face and felt the quickened heartbeat of the clearly confused man, and realized a way to repay Paldnor.
“This is the one who brought me here. If it were not for him, I’d be asleep in the fields right now.” Impa turned to Paldnor, and tossed him a large purse from her belt. The bag hit the old man in the chest and made him lose his balance and almost fall to the floor.
“Live well for the rest of your days, good sir, with the gratitude of the royal family.” She said to Paldnor, who was still confused as he regained his balance with the large purse of rupees cradled in his arms, a surprised look on his face.
“By the Goddesses... What’s going on here, Link?”
Chapter 3: Turnpike Inn by coasty30
The Turnpike Inn

Several minutes would pass before the look of total confusion on Paldnor’s face passed, and he joined Link at the table, Impa remained standing.
“You’ve grown, Link.” She said, putting her muscular hands on her hips.
“Five years, that happens, Impa.” Link answered.
“Never a truer statement.” She had returned, and then pulled a rope hanging next to the fireplace. “Enjoy youth, Link; my muscles ache and my joints grow stiff.” Link answered with a smile and within a few moments, Pa’cal, the short innkeeper entered the room.
“Yes, Ma’am?” He said, standing straight in his shaky voice. Impa reached into a purse at her side.
“For you, master innkeeper.” She boomed throwing two red rupees to Pa’cal. “Bring food and ale. We will dine here.” Pa’cal was now wearing look of confusion similar to Paldnor’s. The two men’s eyes met, and Paldnor shrugged.
“I’ll be dining here.” He said, echoing Impa.
“Very well, I shall return shortly.” Pa’cal answered with a small bow and left the room.

Through Link’s smile, he also shared some of Paldnor’s confusion. Why had Impa been sent to find him? And why offer such a large reward for finding him? The upcoming celebration entered mind, but before he could think about it anymore Paldnor spoke to him.
“It sounds as if now you have quite the story to tell, young friend.” His statement made Link shrug.
“Why were you looking for me, Impa?” He asked, finally deciding cut through the confusion. Impa smiled wide and walked to a saddlebag hanging on the back wall. She walked back to the table with a folded letter sealed in gold wax.
“To give you this.” She said handing him the letter. “And to return you to the palace.”
“The palace!?” Paldnor blurted out.
“Why?” Link asked, no longer smiling.
“Read.” Was all Impa would say, and Link turned the letter over to see his name written in a familiar handwriting. He looked at the seal pressed into the wax, the three triangles of the Triforce. He took one final deep breath, and then broke the seal on the letter and began to read.

To my old and dear friend,
I hope you are well and that the years have been good to you. Too much time has passed since I have had the pleasure of your company, Time has been difficult and the days have been lonely. A celebration is being planned for my birthday and I would be honored if you would be in attendance. I look forward to seeing you, Link; we have much to discuss and I have a favor to ask of you, because I trust no one more than you.
Zelda

Link looked up at Impa, dropping the note on the table. He must have been reading the letter for a few minutes because his food and ale had been brought and he’d failed to notice or hear Pa’cal come in with their ale, and then leave.
“What does this mean? This is more than an invitation, Impa?” He asked. Impa returned her hands to her hips.
“That is for her to tell you.” Impa answered, “I am merely the messenger.”
“For who to tell you, Link?” Paldnor asked, breaking a short silence.
“Zelda.” He answered.
“The PRINCESS!?” Paldnor said loudly.
“Lower your voice, Master Paldnor.” Impa said, bringing her hand to her lips.
“My apologies, m’lady.” He answered, blushing in embarrassment. Impa rolled her eyes and took a long pull from her ale flagon. Link’s face was stern but on the inside his anxiety rose; seeing Zelda made his heart race and that she had a favor to ask made him want to ride as hard and fast as Epona would take him to the palace.
“You know what she wishes to ask me, Impa.” Link stated. Impa sighed loudly.
“I do Link, but….”
“But what?” He pressed on, putting more emphasis into his voice.
“It is not my place to ask you.” She answered with the same sternness.
“So I have no choice then.” Link relented. “When do we leave?”
“With the morning sun.” Impa’s answer was immediate. Link finally picked up his flagon.
“The palace… It’s been so long, and…” Link started taking a drink, but Paldnor quickly inquired.
“And what, Link?” He asked.
“Nothing, Paldnor.” Link answered, looking at the old man still hugging the bag to his chest.
“I guess it’s better that way. I’m not sure I can take anymore surprises this night.” Paldnor stated, shaking his head. There was a soft knock at the door.
“Come!” Impa called out, and a tall man with short brown hair and grease-covered apron entered the room with three steaming plates and a bread loaf. “Thank you.” Impa answered and handed the man a blue rupee.
“M’lady.” He said with a bow of his head.
“Thank you, Monal.” Paldnor added as he left.
“Master Paldnor.” Monal answered, closing the door. The smell of the roasted fowl filled the room quickly, and Link wasted no time as he proceeded to devour one of the roasted birds.
“What will you do with all those rupees, Paldnor?” Link asked with his mouth half full. The only sound in the room was the commotion from the main room and of Link’s ravenous eating.
“I don’t know, Link. I just don’t.” Paldnor answered and finally loosened his grip on the bag, and raised the flagon to his lips.
“Do you still wish to see the palace?” Link asked.
“Of course.” He answered before taking a drink. Link glanced over to Impa, who was now cutting the warm bread loaf into slices.
“Then come with us.” Link told him. Paldnor answered by spitting ale across the table. Paldnor coughed several times before he could answer.
“Me!?” He uttered, bringing his hands to his chest.
“Link?” Impa asked with a suspicious tone. “What is it you have in mind?” Link looked to Impa and licked his fingers.
“I’m merely expressing my gratitude.” Link answered, and took a long swig from his flagon before continuing. “Master Paldnor expressed a desire to see the inside of the palace.” Both Paldnor and Impa were showing blank stares. “He’s done so much and offered me his roof and hospitality, I cannot in good conscience go back to the palace without affording him this small token of gratitude.” Impa continued to stare at Link while Paldnor was struggling for words.
“Link… I… I…Just….” He uttered.
“Would you not agree, Impa?” Link said matching her stare.
“Stop pretending as if I had a choice, Link.” She said, looking away towards Paldnor. “We welcome your company, Master Paldnor, but it will be a long and hard ride.” Impa’s last statement carried a hint in it that Link hoped the old man’s need for stories of adventure would ignore, and the old man did not disappoint. In the fraction of a heartbeat, Link felt the pace of Paldnor’s heart quicken and the confusion on his face turn to a devious smile, the look in his eye was that of a man about to embark on a grand quest.
“What say you, friend?” Link asked knowing the answer.
“I may not be young, Lady Impa, but I am far from dead.” Paldnor answered and then patted the large purse of rupees. “There is not much in this village that I could do with this, and I hate expensive funerals.” Link grinned wide and raised his flagon in salute. “When do we leave?” The old man asked not hiding his eagerness. Impa gestured to small window on the far wall.
“With the morning light, if not sooner.” She said, and then drained her flagon. “Rain or shine.” Impa added, possibly as a final attempt to let old man bow out.
“Then I should come prepared.” Paldnor said and stood with renewed vigor. “We should go to my house, we can rest and I to prepare for the journey.” Impa let out a small sigh of frustration. “Worry not, good lady Impa. I shall be ready to leave with morning light.” Impa’s look held some remorse for her lack of manners to the old man but she still seemed unconvinced. “Rain or shine.” He added. Impa nodded and allowed a brief smile.
“Then let us go.” Link said standing. “I believe I can eat no more.”

It was several minutes more before they had made their way out of the inn, for as quickly as they wanted to move again, Paldnor was stopped at every table this time by those wishing him well on his journey. Impa stood transfixed; how did these people know of the journey? She’d suspected from the beginning that someone watched her the whole time but how did everyone know so quickly?
“How did…?” She managed to utter in her confused state that mirrored Paldnor’s confused stare of a short time ago.
“Tavern gossip, Impa.” Link said, trying to move through the crowd. “Travels faster than snowmelt in spring.” The explanation did not help Impa to figure out how the tavern patrons knew so much; if given the opportunity to think she would have said it was magic. Outside of the Turnpike Inn, there was another gathering and though it was dark, Link recognized some of the men in the group as those who were gathered around Solormin when he and Paldnor entered the inn. A few seconds later, Link felt the distinctive and fast-paced heartbeat of the big hunter at the center of the group.
“Let’s not wait around; I don’t think that group is very pleased with the news.” Link said quietly to his companions.
“I agree.” Paldnor answered. “This way.” He gestured to the grouping of houses in the distance, and they made their way but were stopped before they made it a few feet.
“Old man!” The familiar voice rang in the humid night air, and as the three turned to look, the large group walked over to them.
“What can I do for you, Master Solormin?” Paldnor said with his hands behind his back in a first and last ditch effort to hide the purse or rupees.
“You…you, who do nothing but tell cow pie tales in alehouses, find who this woman is looking for.” Solormin said, gesturing to Impa. “And why would a royal courier want a filthy drifter like this.” He added, turning his attention towards Link. “How do you know the old man isn’t conning you? He’s good at stories.” He said, trying to look Impa in the eye, but the strong smell of ale was in the air and Link noticed Solormin swaying. Impa’s face was hard as if it was cut from stone, and Link saw her hands come to her hips.
“I know who am I looking for, sir.” Impa said, and Solormin continued, still swaying.
“I want some, old man.” Solormin uttered with a bit of a slur, which angered Link. Paldnor’s new wealth was a result of his kindness and generosity, and Link would not see the old man forced to paying the angry brute.
“You get nothing.” Link said, and watched as the large hunter’s drunken gaze came to him.
“Who are you to say, Boy?!” Solormin shouted back, drawing his dagger with his last word. The sounds of daggers being drawn followed along grunts and jests.
“Wrong move, boy.” One spoke up, jeering at the Hylian boy.
“Get him, Sol!” Shouted another, moving closer to the edge of the mob, eager to see this fight.
Link answered by bringing his hand to the hilt of his Kokiri sword. Paldnor tried to step in between.
“I’m sure we can come to some arrangement, Solormin, I’ll never need it all.” He pleaded, but the big man seemed not to notice him several seconds past, before any words were said. “Lady Impa!” Paldnor called to her, but the big woman simply raised one hand to calm the man.
“I suggest you get out of the way, Master Paldnor.” Impa said. The storyteller tried to speak again, but did not get the opportunity. In the blink of an eye, Solormin shoved Paldnor to the ground and slashed at Link with his dagger, but in the same instant, Link had drawn his small sword and blocked Solormin’s blow.
“Goddess!” Paldnor uttered as he watched from the ground, and turned to see Link and Solormin were locked in a deadly test of strength, with Solormin’s group now egging them on. Link focused on Solormin, the big man was defiantly strong but it was clear to Link that he had never been a in a real fight with the dagger. Quickly shifting his weight, Link moved and the drunken Solormin stumbled to the ground. It took two of Solormin’s friends to help him to his feet, and he attacked Link again with wide slashes that he quickly dodged, and an attempt at a stab had brought the back of Link’s fist hard across his face. Blood now trickled from Solormin’s mouth, and he stumbled over to his group who started to gather around him.
“You’ve had it boy, you could have just walked away.” He said, wiping the blood away. Impa helped Paldnor to his feet.
“Lady Impa, you need to help him.” Paldnor pleaded.
“Worry not, Master Paldnor.” She answered. “For I know Link well.”
Link seemed to be in a staring contest with Solormin’s group, and there were several silent moments in which people from the inn came out to see what was going on.
“Is this man worth your life, boy?” The big hunter asked.
“Are the rupees worth yours?” Link answered, returning his sword to its battered scabbard. Solormin said something to the group that Link couldn’t hear that caused the group to roar with laughter. This time, the whole group moved towards Link; most had daggers, a few had sticks, but all wanted to fight. Though most of the group was clearly drunk, Link knew he wouldn’t be able to take on all of them, not with just his small sword.
“I don’t want to hurt anyone.” Link said, but his plea only encouraged the enraged group.
“Worry about yourself, boy.” Solormin said, his blade at the ready. Link knew what he had to do and he risked a brief glance over to where Impa and Paldnor were. The old man’s face was grave but Impa’s was the same stone face expression he’d always remembered, she nodded indicating she knew what had to be done.
“You had your chance to leave!” Link heard not sure who had said it, but the group was almost within striking distance.
“So did you.” Link muttered, not caring if anyone heard. His motion was quick and fluid, the bright flash of light made those who’d gathered jump back in horror. Solormin’s group had been forcefully scattered and thrown back several feet.
“By the goddesses!” Paldnor uttered. “That was…?”
“Magic.” Impa answered, before his question was even finished.
Solormin landed with two other members of his group and appeared to be unconscious, but the thunderous fluttering heartbeats from all those gathered filled Link’s senses and prevented him from knowing for sure. Fearing their reactions Link whistled for Epona who came quickly as if sensing Link’s need for haste.
“Your house Pladnor?” Link called to him.
“Of course.” He said showing only a moment’s hesitation. Link was not eager to see what would happen when Solormin’s group recovered.
Chapter 4: Hyrule Palace by coasty30
Hyrule Palace

Preparations for the princess’s celebration, which was now only a few days away, was the main priority for the palace servants. Everywhere Zelda looked, she saw them slaving over important details, getting everything set to perfection. The corridors of the palace were teaming with servants preparing for the noble families, some of whom had already arrived. There was still no word from Impa, and with only a few days until the celebration, Zelda would have to name her guardian at that time. The princess still had hope that Link would receive her message, but would he come? Zelda cleared her mind; she was on her way to her personal study to meet an old friend and receive and item that she had been anticipating for several weeks. The Triforce of Wisdom had greatly increased Zelda’s already vast thirst for knowledge, and she would often meet with royal scholars sometimes well into the night. Unlike the doors to the royal apartments or the throne room the door to the study was no different from that of any other, Zelda had found the empty room two years ago and asked her father for the use of it. With her king’s blessing she had immediately started filling the room with shelves for books and a desk and it wasn’t long before she was studying history and practicing alchemy with several royal scholars. Zelda also used the study as a sitting room on the rare occasion when she would receive guests, and this was one of those times.

Zelda reached the door of her study and took a minute to straighten her gown, and she opened the door to see a friendly smiling face of a good friend. Renell Cormenal, was the tall dark-haired son of the royal blacksmith, and his family had a small apartment within the palace walls. Renell and Zelda had known each other for most of their lives and were good friends; he’d even developed a friendship with Link shortly after the Kokiri boy had come to live in the palace. Zelda smiled wide as she walked into the room, and embraced the young man.
“It’s good to see you, Renell.” She said before giving him a quick kiss on his left cheek.
“It’s good to see you too, Your Highness.” He replied, returning the affection.
“Stop that Renell, unless you wish me to call you apprentice smithy.” She said sarcastically.
“It would be a great honor, as long as you included to Master Sword Maker Biggoron.” Renell answered. “And I have you to thank for that.” He added, and Zelda put her hand on his shoulder.
“Do not thank me, Renell. Your talent speaks for you.” Though she still smiled, her voice was serious. “In time, with his instruction, your skill will make you a legend.” Renell looked at her and for a moment Zelda thought he would thank her again but no word could express the gratitude she saw in his eyes. “Have you seen your parents yet?” She asked.
“Not yet. I came directly here, with this.” He answered, tapping the leather case.
“You did not have to do that, Renell; it’s been months since you seen them they miss you.” She told him, her tone sympathetic.
“And I them, but Master Biggoron requested I take this directly to you before I do anything else.” The young smithy replied. Zelda nodded and after another moment of silence, the apprentice moved on.
“Has Link arrived?” He asked with enthusiasm, and Zelda’s smile faded slightly.
“No, not yet. I’m very hopeful though.” She answered.
“He’ll come. I know it.” He said, trying to ease Zelda’s concerns. The princess’s smile returned for her friend’s sake.
“Thank you.” She uttered with gratitude.
Renell‘s voice betrayed his homesickness as he spoke again. “It is an honor to be an apprentice to Master Biggoron, and I thank you for arranging it, but there are no trees in the mountains and it’s either very hot when we’re at the forge or very cold when I’m outside the cave.” He breathed deep before finishing. “I have learned much from Master Biggoron and I want to learn more from him, but I will enjoy this trip home.”
“As you should.” Zelda said, putting her hand on his shoulder. The two conversed for a few minutes more before Renell finally removed a long leather traveling case that he had placed beside the table in the study.
“This is it?” Zelda asked, her voice filled with anticipation.
“As you requested.” He answered and placed the case on the table.
“I hadn’t heard anything in several weeks, I was wondering if it would be ready.” She replied. Renell immediately brought his hands up in defense at the Hylian princess’s comment.
“Master Biggoron would never allow that to happen, especially with this.” He said, tapping the case.
“Oh? Why is that?” She asked. Renell shrugged.
“Your note said you wished this to be kept quiet.”
Zelda nodded. “Master Biggoron is not good at keeping secrets, especially about the blades he makes and this one… He’s out done himself. May I see it?” She asked, not hiding any excitement.
“Before you see it, I must tell you this is unlike any blade I’ve seen before. Master Biggoron told Darunia of the Gorons of what you ordered. Within days, a Goron courier arrives with raw iron ore from the deepest pits within the mountains.” Renell watched Zelda’s surprised expression. “Master Biggoron insisted using the fires from the volcano within the mountain; it was so hot I couldn’t see what he did.” Renell started to undo the leather ties at the end of the case. “That is not all. A few days later, another courier arrives with a skin of water.”
“Water?” Zelda uttered in a confused tone.
“To cool the metal, it was sent by the Zoras from Princess Ruto herself. Her note said it was from a sacred spring and was of the purest anywhere.”
“Goron steel, Zoran water, fires of the Death Mountain...” She stated repeating Renell. “I’m not sure of the significance.” Zelda added.
“That is not the end of it, Highness.” Zelda gave him a harsh look for his formality. “My apologies. While Master Biggoron was forging the blade, a fairy…”
“A fairy?!” Zelda interrupted in the same confused tone.
“She flew in and went right to the forge. I didn’t see what happened, but Master Biggoron said she shed a tear it to the molten metal.” Renell sighed.
“Do you know what the fairy’s name was?” Zelda’s question surprised Renell.
“Her name? She flew in and then flew out; I never got the chance.”
“May I see it now?” Zelda tried not to sound inpatient, but her enthusiasm bled through.
“Yes, of course.” Renell said and pulled out an odd-shaped object wrapped in a cloth. He slowly pulled the cloth away uncovering a sword in a scabbard. The hilt was big enough for a two hands and a golden Triforce was partially covered by the scabbard.
“Princess Zelda, I present to you the sword Aria.” Renell announced, holding the scabbard and offering the hilt to Zelda.
“Aria...” The name of the blade was tested on her tongue before the princess grabbed hold of the hilt and slowly removing the sword from the scabbard. The blade had a melodious ring as she removed it; Zelda’s eyes were fixed on the blade. “Goddesses, it’s magnificent!” The blade was the shape of an elongated leaf and reflected almost as good as a mirror.
“Master Biggoron named it Aria, he didn’t say why.” Renell added as Zelda admired the blade.
“It’s an old tradition, naming a weapon gave it power; a soul almost.” Zelda answered, as she inspected the blade further. “It’s inscribed.” She said running her slender fingers along the inscription inside the bleeder. “Ancient Hylian.”
“I don’t know what it says.” Renell admitted, and Zelda immediately translated.
“All of Hyrule came forth to make me, Aria is my name and only Link shall take me.” She said, never taking her eyes from the sword and finally she ran her fingers over the golden Triforce symbol before returning the sword to its scabbard. “You must be tired from your journey.” Zelda said placing the sword on the study table. “And you should visit with you parents; your mother will never forgive me if you do not.” She added, putting her hand on his shoulder.
“If you insist, Princess.” Renell said with a playful bow, which earned him a soft jab in the side.
“I also insist you be on time to the celebration.” Zelda said now her tone soft, and Renell became hesitant. “What is it, Renell?” Zelda asked concerned.
“Will Miss Malon be there?” He asked making Zelda grin wide.
“Of course, Renell. She’ll be there.” Zelda answered. “I will see you later.” She said as he picked up his things minus the sword Aria. Zelda hugged him and kissed his cheek. “Give my best to your parents.” She added as he left.
“I will. Good day, Zelda.” He added as he closed the door, leaving Zelda alone in her study. Her attention was immediately drawn to Aria in its scabbard on the table, and she slowly removed the long, finely made blade. She was surprised by how light the weapon was, the hilt was big enough for two hands but it could be easily used with one. Zelda’s nursemaid Impa was of the Sheikah tribe and had shown Zelda how to use a blade, and she proceeded to go through some of the old lessons that her old nursemaid had taught her. Sheikah blades were normally short light and one sided, but Zelda found Aria very easy to wield, and after a moment, the blade felt like it was an extension of her arm. The motions she made were slow and fluid, merely exercises; Sheikah techniques were more defensive than attack, and as the blade cut the air there was a sight melodious whistle that followed making the movements seem more like an intricate dance than an actual fighting style.
She began to move faster, exercising her skill more and it seemed that Aria whistled louder and there was a slight vibration to the blade as she moved. The sound and motion of the blade continued as she moved, and now Zelda moved from the lessons her mentor taught her to the moves she learned from watching Link. Slashes and parries followed and now Zelda was wielding Aria as if the blade was made for her, and as she brought the blade to a stop and concentrated. The princess cleared her mind and focused her thoughts to the tip of the blade. She felt her awareness go into the blade and the melodious whistling filled her ears as she closed her eyes. The world outside was now alien to her; it was just the Hylian heir and the blade. Zelda could no longer distinguish where her hand ended and Aria began. She slashed quickly and broke her concentration; a bright flash and small sparks flew by. She had to grab hold of the table to steady herself as her mind cleared and the room fell silent. Zelda had to stop herself from dropping Aria on the stone floor. She returned the sword to the scabbard and placed it gently to the table. Zelda allowed herself a few quick breaths before turning to leave the study, and as she reached for the door handle Zelda was surprised to see the large slash across the door and door frame and upon closer inspection into the stone wall.
“Bravo, Master Biggoron.” She uttered, as she left.

Zelda again navigated the corridors of the palace; the closer she came to the throne room, the more guards she would see and they would snap to attention and salute as she passed. It was midday and she hoped to see her father before his daily duties would keep him occupied. The throne room dated back nearly a millennium and was the grandest room in the whole of the palace, with a high ceiling brandished with the banners of the noble houses signifying all had a voice in this room. The room was made almost entirely of polished marble and had huge columns on both sides of the center isle. Zelda saw her father talking with Sir Corumon, the captain of the palace guard. King Davos VII was revered as a highly intelligent man and a benevolent king; he was also a mountain of a man. Despite being in his late forties, he still stood tall in his armor and fine robes, and the sight of his daughter never failed to bring a grin to his bearded face.
“Zelda. It’s good to see you, daughter.” He said as she walked up.
“Father.” She replied, wrapping her arms around him. Sir Corumon took this moment to excuse him self from the throne room.
“I’ll return to my duties, Your Majesty.” The captain spoke. “Princess.” He added bowing, and left through a rear door. The king took a step back to regard her for a moment.
“What happened?” He asked, pointing to her waist, and she looked down at her dress. The fine fabric that her dress was made from was slashed at the waist and exposed part of her underskirts.
“Nothing!” She said quickly gathering the loose fabric and holding it closed with her left hand.
The king gave an annoyed grin. “Just don’t let your mother see that nothing. She’s still rather steamed about the council.”
“How steamed?” Zelda asked.
“She’s still not talking to me much.” He answered, sighing sadly. Zelda’s heart sank. She knew this was an old argument between her parents, and the queen wished different things for her daughter. Despite Zelda’s upcoming appointment, her mother still looked for suitors for the princess. “I thought telling her everything would change her mind.” He added, shrugging.
“She would have, if she believed the story.” Zelda said in an annoyed tone; she couldn’t help but be annoyed at her mother for her ignorance.
“Rimeena loves you and she had plans for you. I let you choose your path despite those plans.” Davos looked at his daughter. “Do not worry; you will be receiving letters from her within a week of your arrival at Nautalin, and they won’t stop until you come to visit.” Zelda looked at her father. “Count on it.” The king was usually right about her mother, and Zelda smiled. “She’s very predictable.” She agreed, chuckling a little. The two laughed but for a moment; blaring trumpets brought them both back from their fit.
“Who’s arriving now?” Zelda asked.
“There are so many announcements these days, I haven’t a clue.” The king answered.
The doors to the throne room opened, and the head steward took his position but before he called out any names, Zelda recognized the scarred face that her mother stood next to.
“Lord Halon Alromon, Hero of the Gerudo Campaigns, Lord of the Port City of Nautalin.” The steward called, and the queen escorted the lord across the throne room, and several armored men filed in behind them, but one individual caught Zelda’s eye. Among the soldiers was one slightly shorter man dressed in robes of bright red silk and had a yellow scarf wrapped around his neck and head and as he approached with the group. The princess also saw the hilts of two curved swords at his back and a small curved dagger at his waist. Zelda was unable to make eye contact with the strange man that had entered with Lord Alromon. The group had approached them and Queen Rimeena had assumed the role of grand hostess of introductions. Zelda found this an annoying aspect of her mother since the king knew Lord Alromon well.
“Lord Alromon, His Majesty King Davos VII.” She said. Lord Alromon answered with a bow.
“Always an honor, Your Majesty.” Alromon replied as Davos clasped wrists with him.
“And it’s always good to see you, Halon.” He answered back. “You’ve met the Princess before.” The king asked, gesturing to Zelda.
“Of course, we met some time ago.” Lord Alromon answered, looking to Zelda who gave her best fake smile.
“Only once before, and ever so briefly.” The princess said, mimicking some of her mother’s giddiness. Memories of her previous meeting with the Lord Alromon came back to her, she was fourteen and he was being honored for defeating Gerudo raiders. The scar on his face was still fresh looking.
“I look forward to being on the council with you, Princess.” Lord Alromon said, taking her left hand and pressing his lips to it.
“I look forward to sitting on the council, Lord Alromon.” She answered retracting her hand as quickly as courtesy would allow.
“Have you chosen who will be your guardian yet, my princess?” Lord Alromon asked her. The tone of his voice was soft and flattering, causing Zelda to tighten her right hand holding the slash in her dress closed.
“I have. He is an old and dear friend of mine.” She answered, trying hard to hide the longing in her voice.
“I would like to meet him.”
Zelda felt now uneasy and slightly foolish; the one who would be protecting her had yet to arrive, and she wasn’t even certain if Link knew she wanted him to be her guardian.
“He hasn’t arrived yet.” The princess answered, feeling slightly embarrassed. “But I expect him any day now.” She added trying to sound as convincing as she could. Lord Alromon nodded at her statement.
“He should be someone you trust dearly, for in his hands will be your life.” He said and with a wave of fingers, the red clad man stepped forward. “Allow me to introduce my guardian.” The guardian bowed as he was introduced. “This is Siam, master practitioner of the serpent arts.”
“Your Majesty, Princess.” Siam said to the king and Zelda. “It is a great honor.”
“I bid you welcome, Sir Siam.” Davos said. “And I thank you for you service to this land.”
“It is my honor, Your Majesty.” Siam answered.
“I have brought the Nautalin Elite Cavalry to escort the princess’s caravan to city.” Lord Alromon said as Saim stepped back. Zelda was surprised at this; she had already made arrangements to travel light and arrive in Nautalin sooner to be present when the council convened on the eve of summer solstice.
“Lord Alromon, I thank you, but arrangements have already been made.” Zelda said, keeping her voice soft and melodious.
“Zelda, what are you talking about? I have heard nothing of this.” Queen Rimeena stated with a hint of anger.
“I had arranged to travel light, my guardian and I would ride to Nautalin.” Zelda explained.
“What of your servants?” Lord Alromon asked.
“Lord Harransol has graciously offered the services of his servants. I wish to be in Nautalin to sit with the council as it reconvenes.” The queen gave her daughter a blank and confused stare. “If I travel light I can be in Nautalin within a week with fair weather, in a caravan the trip shall be every bit of three weeks.” The princess continued, mostly to her mother. “With a caravan, I would barely make it in time and only if the weather remained fair; if the rains come the road will be mud.”
The queen shook her head the whole time the princess talked. “Nonsense!” Rimeena finally answered. “You are the princess; you will travel like one.” The queen’s tone signified she was ready for an argument.
“Mother, I’ve made arrangements, and my guardian...”
“…Is not here yet.” The queen cut in. “The good Lord Alromon has brought his most elite to ensure your safety…” She gestured to the soldiers behind Alromon and Siam. “To not accept would be a terrible insult.” Zelda’s anger grew and her face reddened; her mother was a better negotiator then Zelda gave her credit for. “Surely you do not wish to do that?”
Zelda nodded. “No, I don’t.” She relented. “Plans go astray.” Zelda added through clenched teeth.
“Then let us speak no more of it.” The finality in the queen’s tone signified the end of the argument, but it was at time like this that Zelda found her mother very hard to love. “Now that we’ve settled the matter, Lord Alromon has a question to ask of the King.” Davon’s attention turned to Lord Alromon.
“Halon?” Davos asked him.
“Yes, Your Majesty. I request to have access to royal archives, I’ve been doing research on Hylian history, but the Nautalin Library is…limited.”
The king nodded. “Of course, feel free to research what you need. The scholars also make copies of anything you need for the library of Nautalin.” Davos added extending his hand to Lord Alromon, who eagerly accepted it.
“My gratitude, Your Majesty.” Lord Alromon said with a bow, and Queen Rimeena stepped in between them.
“The honorable lord is probably exhausted from his journey.” Rimeena said, meeting eyes with the king and reveling in her minor victory over her daughter.
“My men will require lodging.” Lord Alromon added and the queen was quick to answer.
“They shall find the barracks quite comfortable, and the stables more than adequate.” She replied, her pride shining through. “May I show you the way to the guest quarters?” Rimeena asked and took hold of Lord Alromon’s arm and began to lead him towards a pair of door on the western side of the throne room with the mysterious guardian Siam and the whole of the elite troop of soldiers following behind. Within minutes, all had bowed to the king and filed through the doors leaving the king and Zelda alone again. The princess relaxed her arm and the slashed portion of her dress fell to her side fully exposing part of her undergarment.
“I could have used your help, Father.” Zelda said staring at the now closed double doors.
“If you are to sit on the Council of Lords then you must speak with your own voice, and demand it be heard.” Davos’s statement had made Zelda feel embarrassed; she’d relented to her mother’s will with hardly an argument.
“She backed me into a corner; I couldn’t deny Lord Alromon’s offer, not in front of his soldiers. Not without insulting them.” Her fists were clenched as she talked and the slash in her dress hung low.
“And you compromised?” The question was more of a statement.
“No, I relented. Mother has that effect.” Zelda answered, allowing her anger to drain, but her regret lingered.
The king put his hand on his daughter’s shoulder. “The vast wisdom of the Triforce, and you are speechless when speaking to your mother.”
“How do you deal with her?” She asked, causing her father to laugh.
“I learned early not to get in between you two.” This time, both father and daughter laughed, and Zelda hugged him. “But your mother was right on one point.” Zelda looked at her father. “Link is not here, and we do not know if he’s even coming.” These words caused a cold shiver to go up her back.
“I have hope, Father; there are still some days left. He may yet show.”
Chapter 5 The Road To Hyrule CIty by coasty30
The Road To Hyrule City

Two days on the road were now taking toll on Link and his companions. He was saddle sore, soaked, and tired, and he was certain Impa and Paldnor felt no better. The three had left Porsail before sunrise, and to Link’s relief, no one had come to take vengeance for what had happened to Solormin’s group. Paldnor had been true to his word; he prepared for the journey with a speed that betrayed his years and Link envied his eagerness. The first day, the three companions concentrated on putting distance between them and the town of Porsail, but the second day brought a heavy rain that slowed their pace to a crawl. To Link’s surprise, Paldnor was silent and when he did speak, it was mostly to Impa. Link scratched Epona on the side of her neck and the young mare shook her head; he could see that she was having as rough of a time as he was.
“Just another day girl, just one more.” Link whispered to the mare. The rain had started to subside the smell of spring filled the air. “We need to stop.” He called out.
“What’s wrong, Link?” Impa answered, reigning in her white stallion.
“I’m sore. I need to stretch, and I’m sure the horses could use the break.” Link answered as he dismounted from Epona.
“There is still a days travel ahead of us, Link. We don’t have long.” She replied, following Link’s lead and dismounting.
Paldnor rode up on his brown gelding and also dismounted. “We have long enough to stop and rest, maybe even sleep a little.” He said and they walked their horses to a grouping of trees near the road. Link removed Epona’s saddle and the young mare nuzzled Link, who patted her on the side. Link smiled as his horse leisurely trotted on the grass before she started to graze. He then helped Paldnor take the reins from his horse; he could see that the weather had not lowered the old man’s spirits.
“It’s a shame we don’t have more time.” Paldnor commented, heaving the saddle from the gelding’s back. “A night at an inn would be good for my old bones.” After the saddle had been removed from the gelding, Paldnor removed a small sack from the saddlebag and took out some dried beef. “I shall follow the horses’ lead.” He added before biting into the jerky, and then offered some to Link and Impa. Both declined and Paldnor stood under a tree while he feasted on the jerky. Link and Paldnor had hardly spoken since leaving Porsail, and Link was sure the old man had many questions.
“I owe you an explanation, Paldnor.” Link said, leaning against a tree and Paldnor, still chewing on his jerky, looked up at him. “About what happened in town.” Paldnor swallowed quickly before speaking.
“Quite a display, I was worried that Solormin’s group was about to gut you, and then FLASH! Everyone of them except you is on the ground.” Paldnor’s normally calm face had a troubled look. “Magic, Miss Impa said. I should have know I’d seen it before.”
“You have?” Link asked curiously.
“Yes, a traveling healer helped my wife once when she’d fallen ill. It took him all day and he was exhausted afterwards. You, Link, wielded it so effortlessly.” The old man’s fear leaked through in his voice. “And you lived at palace, knew the princess well enough to be invited to her celebration.” Paldnor’s voice now held anticipation. “How that happened I’m sure is quite a story.” It took quite a bit of effort for Link to laugh hard but a small chuckle escaped his lips.
“Quite a story indeed.” He said quietly and looked passed Paldnor to see Impa’s stern face, and the look she gave him said more than any words could. Many times she’d told both him and Zelda to watch what they said, the secret of the Triforce must be kept. Paldnor looked at Link and he knew that the old man wanted to hear the story.
“You should have said something earlier; a good story would have made the road a tad easier on my old bones.” Paldnor said, chewing on the jerky. Link thought quickly before speaking; he didn’t want to tell a lie to his friend but he couldn’t tell Paldnor the whole truth.
“I was a ward of the Royal Family.” Link started telling Paldnor, who sat and listened intently as he ate his jerky. “I’m an orphan and I wandered into Hyrule city. I was living on the streets when Impa found me and took me to the palace.” The old man wore a confused look.
“Why did she take you to the palace?” He asked and Link opened his hand.
“Because...” Link saw amazement in Paldnor’s eyes as a small globe of bright light formed a few inches above Link’s hand. “My ability to use magic is natural, and that absolutely fascinated the royal scholars.” He said, closing his hand and extinguishing the light. “I also snuck past the guards and into the royal gardens.” Paldnor’s face showed surprise. “The Princess Zelda has the same natural talent, so I studied magic with the princess.” Link took some comfort in the half-truth that he had told Paldnor, and too Link’s relief it looked as if the old man was satisfied with the story. “Why did you leave?” Paldnor asked and Link thought quickly; telling the whole truth was not possible.
“I studied magic for three years with royal scholars. After I turned thirteen I was sent to the stables to clean stalls.” Link answered with a shrug. “I did not want to live in the stables.” There was much more to the story; Link had left out his nighttime meetings with the Princess, and the Queen’s hatred for him
“Did you enjoy the time you had in the palace?” Paldnor asked him, and Link nodded.
“I did, very much.” He answered, with memories filling his mind. “I met many friends.”
“A shame. Good times never last forever even when they last a long time... It’s never long enough.” Link felt Paldnor’s heart beat change and for moment there was silence and the old man’s heart beat returned to normal. “Of course we can always cherish them.” Paldnor sat on a spot under the tree that had managed to stay dry despite the rain. “Is there time for an old man take a quick nap?” He asked trying to get comfortable.
“There is some, I’ll wake you when we’re ready to leave.” Link answered and Paldnor yawned a thank you. Link walked away to give Paldnor some peace and took a moment to clear his mind: what did Zelda have to ask of him? The thought made his head ache.
“You trust him far too much.” Impa said suddenly appearing behind him, startling him.
“Why is it you taught that Sheikah trick to Zelda and not to me?” He asked agitated.
Impa showed an annoyed look that Link was quite familiar with. “It is not a trick Link. It is a skill that is handed down from mother to daughter because only Sheikah females posses the grace necessary to be invisible to the senses.” Link nodded his annoyance leaking through.
“Impa, I’m not certain I should be going with you.” He said, crossing his arms.
“Why do you think so, Link? Zelda asked you, do you not want to go?” Impa asked.
“It’s not my world Impa... I stomached it as long as I could.” Link confessed with his back to Impa.
“From what I remember you were quite happy. It was that world that couldn’t stomach you.” Impa’s voice had lost some of its cold monotone.
“An unforgivable sin in the eyes of royalty.” He thought back to his memories of the palace. “I’ve been all throughout Hyrule. I found Navi, but no peace.”
“You didn’t have to leave, Link.” She said, with her normal hard tone.
“Zelda and I were kept apart... and they were... making arrangements for me.” Link said the last part with distaste.
“Someone you know would be rather displeased to hear you say that.” Impa replied, which caused Link’s anger to flare up.
“I don’t care Impa, I wanted to make my own decisions. So did Zelda.”
Impa nodded at Link’s statement. “And you left.” She said, looking Link in the eyes. “Do you know the pain you put her through?”
“It wasn’t easy for me either.” Link uttered, kicking the dirt.
“You will have face this eventually Link. You and Zelda both.” Link nodded. “Until then, this trip is not over, and I suggest you follow your friend.” She said, pointing to the unconscious Paldnor.
Chapter 6 The Royal Archives by coasty30
The Royal Archives

Lord Alromon sipped from his goblet as he read from the sea of scrolls in front of him. He’d been in the reviewing hall of the archives since early that morning and by late afternoon his frustration was starting to show. The royal archivist had been bringing more and more scrolls every hour and as Lord Alromon read through them he was still no closer to any answers. The dimming light in the hall’s window was a reminder to the young lord that his time was quickly running out, in a few days he and his regiment of riders would have to leave to escort the princess’s caravan to Nautalin. The door to the hall opened and Halon looked up to see a nervous looking boy wearing apprentice’s robes come through, holding a candle and an oil lamp.
“By your leave m’lord.” He said bowing.
“For what?” Lord Alromon asked wearily, and the boy pointed to the unlit candles on the table. He nodded his reply and the boy quickly and quietly went about his duties. The door opened again; this time the royal archivist returned with more scrolls, many of which looked ancient.
“I have found more histories for you, my lord.” He said enthusiastically as he wheeled a cartful of scrolls into the viewing hall.
“Are these real histories or just old stories?” Halon asked, showing his annoyance.
“I’m sorry, my lord.” He said bowing low. “It’s the subject; the Triforce is so ancient that stories are all that we truly have.” The scholar’s answer made Halon’s anger flare.
“You are no help!” He uttered before draining his goblet.
“Please my lord, if I knew exactly what about the Triforce you wished to know I could be of more help.” The archivist pleaded with him, and Lord Alromon thought. The old man in Nautalin was a peasant and a scoundrel and would not be missed, but the sudden murder of the royal archivist would not go unpunished. The lack of time made him decide to take the risk.
“Very well.” He said and the master archivist beamed.
“Wonderful!”
“What do you know of the Trivoid?” Lord Alromon asked.
“I’ve heard of it, not much unfortunately it is a rather obscure tale, but…” He rubbed his bearded chin as he though.
“What?” Halon asked impatiently.
“One moment.” He answered, and dashed out of the door. Rustling could be heard through the door and within a few minutes the achivist returned with a scroll.
“I do believe I have what you seek.” He said waking to the table and moving several scrolls out of the way.
“Why didn’t you bring this earlier, with all of these?” Halon asked, gestuing at the pile of scrolls.
“Apologies my lord, but you asked for histories.” He said bowing again.
“And…?” Halon asked harshly.
“This scroll is made of children’s stories and riddles.” The scholar answered, laying out the scroll.
“Very well. Continue.” Halon said not wanting to waste anymore time.
“I remember this because the princess came here some time ago asking for everything we had on the Triforce as well; this story stood out to me because I thought I’d heard all the Triforce legends.” He explained, and Halon felt for the first time since stepping into the archive that morning that he was close to his goal.
“Boy!” Halon called.
“M’lord?” The apprentice answered. Lord Alromon gestured to the door and his command was immediately followed. “Yes m’lord.” The young boy said nervously, spilling candle wax as he left closing the door behind him.
"Tell me of the Trivoid." The archivist obliged, pressing his finger on the scroll.
"Right here, my lord." Lord Alromon's anger grew.
"I cannot read ancient Hylian, you fool." He uttered coldly.
"Yes, I'm sorry, my lord." The man apologized quickly, then started to read from the ancient piece of paper. "It's a tale of the goddesses Farore, Din, and Nayru. After creating the world, they rested for a long time, so long that the ancient Hylians built a temple to protect them, and to worship them." The archivist explained.
"Continue."
"Yes, my lord. For several centuries, while the goddesses rested, the land flourished, until one of the caretakers of the goddesses' temple committed sacrilege by stealing strands of hair from each of the three deities. The power from these mere hairs corrupted him even more; he became a conduit for them and his power destroyed the temple waking the sleeping goddesses. It took the three of them to defeat him, but instead of risking the same incident while they rested, they became the Triforce."
"And what of the Trivoid?" Lord Alromon asked, trying to stave off his impatience.
"This is what it says: Darkness lies in the blood of the holder." The archivist answered, looking up from the scroll.
"The blood of the holder?" Lord Alromon echoed in confusion.
"Another riddle perhaps." The archivist answered. "Or an ingredient." He added, glancing back at the ancient papers before him. Halon gave him a blank stare.
"Ingredient? How so?"
"I may be wrong, my lord, but blood was mentioned." The archivist answered.
"And?" Halon pressed, his nostrils flaring causing the archivist to flinch.
"Well, there are several incantations, and potions that involve blood."
He uttered in fear. "The sacrilegious cleric did use hairs from the goddesses; for someone who is mortal but possesses the sacred power of the Triforce, blood would probably be needed." He finished, still breathing heavy.

Halon walked quickly towards the window, lost in thought. "Blood of the holder...." He muttered thinking aloud, and as he looked out over the horizon he saw the tops of the building in Hyrule city."What could it mean?"
A few more seconds would pass in silence before he turned away from the window and walked back to the table startling the archivist.
"Speak to no one of this." He said in a hushed tone, and in a quick motion Lord Alromon slipped a large red rupee into the startled archivist's hand.
"Of...of course. Thank you, my lord." The man stammered out as Halon left the reviewing hall.

The main hall of the royal archive was vast and filled with shelves of books and scrolls as well as several small desks each with a burning candle. Halon quickly navigated the maze of desks out of the archives, and into the main courtyard of the palace grounds. The courtyard was mostly empty except for a few servants lighting lanterns throughout the grounds and smell of fresh bread and roasting meat was coming from the kitchens. Dinner would be served in the main hall tonight, as with all the visiting nobles they would sit at the king’s table droning on about nothing and drinking until they couldn’t see strait. Halon felt his stomach growl at the thought of the feast to be served and resigned to dine with nobles and listen to the pointless gossip that he despised. The dimming light of sunset cast long shadows over the grounds as the Halon walked towards the archway that led to the main corridor and after looking over his shoulder and behind him to make sure none of the servants were in earshot. Stopping near the shadow of a columned archway he looked in the darkness.
“Siam.” He whispered.
“My lord.” Siam’s hiss answered from the shadows.
“Has the boy arrived?” Halon asked, while slowly looking away.
“Not yet, the princess grows restless.” Halon nodded.
“What else?” He added quietly.
“The queen speaks highly of you, and she was searching for you, my lord.” Saim’s answer him wince.
“She’s a witless old keese who cares for little except gossip, how much longer must I endure this?” Halon uttered. “I have no more need of you tonight.”
“Lord Alromon!” A female voice called him.
“Wait, Siam.” He added quietly and turned toward the sound.

Queen Rimeena walked toward him her arms folded behind the back of her long gown.
“My queen.” He said with a bow. “I was just on my way to dinner.” He added with with a fake smile, hoping that the queen accepted it as genuine.
“Good, I was hoping I find you.” Rimeena answered and as she came closer her tone became softer. “There is a matter I wish to discuss with you.”
“Of course, my queen.” Halon answered and Rimeena looped her arm though his as they started on their way. “What is it you wish to speak of, Your Highness?” He asked.
“It is of my daughter and her appointment on the Council of Lords that I wish to speak of.” She uttered with distaste, then sighed.
“You do not approve of it?” Halon asked as he walked with the queen.
“I do not.” The answer was stern. “The king’s will it may be, but nonetheless she is the princess. And that position has obligations, none of which are on the Council of Lords.” Rimeena explained, her tone becoming soft again. “By her age, I was married and pregnant.”
“Thus is tradition.” Halon added. and the queen’s grip on his arm tightened.
“Exactly!” She exclaimed. “And her choice of guardian is this peasant boy who is no older that she is if not younger, no one is sure.”
“No one?” Halon asked.
“He’s a foundling.” She answered. “How is he to protect her, I know the position is mostly ceremonial, but…”
“My queen.” Halon cut in, causing Rimeena to fall silent, and meet his eyes. “You have seen my guardian, have you not?”
She nodded her answer.
“Does he look as if I keep him for ceremonial reasons?”
“No.” She answered quietly.
“He serves a purpose, my queen. And he serves it well.” Halon said, meeting her eyes.
“I believe you.” She answered, her fear seeping through, and Halon decided to inquire futher.
“How did this boy, what is his name?” He asked.
“Link.” Rimeena answered.
“That is it?”
She nodded her answer.
“How did Link…come to live in the palace?” Halon asked with fake confusion, and Rimeena sighed again and then stopped walking to face him.
“The king told me not to speak of it, but you are a sitting lord on the Council and you have proven your loyalty.” She said, bringing her hand up and caressing his scar. A brief silence followed before they started walking again. “Please understand that what I tell you is not to be heard by anyone else’s ears.”
“Of course, my queen. You have my word.” Halon answered, giving a gentle reassuring squeeze to the queen’s hand.
“My daughter is convinced, and she has also convinced her father that she and Link are keepers of the Triforce of Wisdom and Courage.” The queen explained.
“My queen?” Halon almost laughed out loud, causing a sideways glance from Rimeena. “How did this come to be?” He added, more seriously.
“A long story, as Zelda tells it. To explain it more briefly, Zelda possesses the Triforce of Wisdom, the boy Link, that of Courage.”
“What of the Triforce of Power?” Halon asked, no longer faking his curiosity.
“That, my daughter says is possessed by the Gerudo King, a dreadful beast of a man named Ganondorf.” She spat.
“The Gerudo King?” Halon echoed surprised.
“He was here eight years ago to speak of peace; he disappeared shortly after and hasn’t been seen since.” Rimeena continued to explain. “Zelda says that he is trapped in a timeless realm, sealed there by the Master Sword.”
“Such a blade exists?” Halon asked, surprised.
The queen nodded. “In the Temple of Time, in an antechamber behind the altar. I myself have seen it. It is the only piece of evidence this whole load of dribble has.”
“Extraordinary.” Halon said as they neared the dining hall.
Rimeena’s tone became even quieter. “What I have to ask of you is for you to personally watch over my daughter, and keep Link a fair distance away from her.”
Halon was confused for a moment. “As you wish, Your Highness.” He answered as they entered the crowded dining hall. The king stood and walked over to greet them.
“You are finally here. We weren’t going to wait much longer.” King Davos said jokingly, as he took Rimeena’s hand from Halon.
“Your Majesty.” Halon said, releasing Rimeena’s arm.
“Join us, Halon.” The King said gestuing to an empty seat at the large table. As Halon stood in front of his seat Queen Rimeena and King Davos walked hand in hand to the head of the table, where Zelda was already waiting.
“Zelda.” Rimeena said as she approached.
“Mother.” She answered, as the king and queen stood behind the two large seats. Davos picked up his wine goblet and everyone else followed suit, and followed him as he raised it.
“To the health and vitality of the land and its people!” His voice boomed through the hall.
“Here, here!” The gathered nobles called.
“With the blessings of the goddesses Farore, Din, and Nayru, we feast!”
“We feast!” They all echoed and drained their goblets in unison
Chapter 8 Lon Lon Ranch by coasty30
Lon Lon Ranch

The landscape was now quite familiar to Link: the land, the trees, even the air held the scent of familiarity, and the gates of a familiar place loomed on the horizon. The sight of the Lon Lon Ranch brought a smile to Link’s face as the flood of memories filled his mind. The sight had also affected Epona, who started galloping towards the gates, leaving Impa and Paldnor behind.
“Easy, girl!” He called to Epona. “We’ll get there.” But the young mare happily galloped through the gates on her own will, passed the buildings towards the horse corral. Link reigned Epona to a stop in the ranch’s horse corral, and several new building caught his eye. There were two new stables and the corral was much larger than he remembered. Epona impatiently shook her head, and pounded her front hooves.
“Alright, I’m getting off.” Link said, removing his foot from the stirrup. As he dismounted, a sweet and very familiar melody filled the air causing Epona to neigh with excitement…but Link still had one foot in the other stirrup. “Epona, wait!” But the mare galloped the short distance towards the girl singing the melody, dragging Link several feet through the dirt.

Link coughed as he gathered his thoughts, the lack of terrible pain told him that he had no broken bones but he ached nonetheless from the dragging. While he lay on ground, his vision was filled by a slender booted feet.
“You deserved that.” A soft voice said.
“I did?” He asked, still coughing.
“Five years, you never visited me. No letters or nothing.” Link looked up to see a face that he hadn’t seen in years. Malon’s red locks hung down and the smile on her face betrayed her mood; the facade of anger at Link had instantly been swept away as she offered him a hand. Taking her small hand, Link was helped to his feet rather easily by Malon, who pulled him into a tight embrace. “Welcome back.” She whispered lovingly. Link hugged her back, but still felt the sting of his lonely years on Hyrule field.
“I’m sorry I didn’t write.” Link managed to say, feeling the guilt. They held each other for several seconds, and Malon kissed him on his cheek before they separated.
“Epona seems quite healthy and happy.” She said, stroking the horse’s head. Link could feel her heart still fluttering. “I guess I can forgive you.” She added with a smile.
“I’m relieved.” He answered with a bit of sarcasm.

A moment later, Paldnor and Impa galloped into the corral, the old man having some trouble controlling his animal.
“Whoa, boy!” He called as the gelding stopped. Impa dismounted and removed her saddlebag then handed the reins to a young stable boy, who immediately led the stallion to one of the stables.
“Always a pleasure to see you, Lady Impa.” Malon called out, still holding Link’s hand.
“And you, Miss Malon. You may house all three in the royal stable.” Impa said in her stern monotone voice as she helped Paldnor dismount.
“Of course.” Malon answered.
“Thank you, Lady Impa.” Paldnor said as he put both feet on the ground and stretched. “How much further?” He asked
Impa pointed north. “A short walk over the hill and through the city.” She answered, and Paldnor nodded and looked to Link and Malon.
“Link, who would this pretty young lady?” He asked, walking toward them.
“Paldnor, this is the maiden of Lon Lon Ranch, Malon.” Malon curtsied as Link introduced her.
“An honor.” Paldnor said, bowing. “Paldnor Gorely.” He added, taking Malon’s free hand and raising it to his lips.
“A pleasure, Master Paldnor.” Malon answered.
“Malon is the girl who raised and trained Epona, and her father owns this ranch.” Link explained, but Malon cut in.
“Father retired, I own it now.” She said, not hiding her pride. “Talon lives near Lake Hylia now.” Link’s surprised stare caused a slight giggle to escape her lips. “See what happens when you disappear for five years. When you come back, you make yourself look like an idiot.”
Link’s face reddened. “You own it now?” He asked.
“I do. I hope you noticed the improvements I’ve made around here.” She added pointing to the new buildings. “We have new stables, a new barn. I’m even planning on building a new residence during the summer months.” She said, her enthusiasm showing through her small round face.
“It is quite a place you have here, Miss Malon, and you’re quite talented; Epona is fine mare.” Paldnor added as he looked around.
“Thank you, Master Paldnor. Ranch work is hard.” Malon replied and then glanced in Link’s direction. “And not for everyone.” She added softly.
“Oh yes. A relative of mine tried raising horses, but had not the heart for it.” Paldnor said, sounding as though he would start another story one of countless that he told while traveling.
“Where are you coming from?” Malon asked.
“The town of Porsail.” Link answered.
“How long have you been traveling?” This time Paldnor spoke up.
“Three days ago; two of those days were rather unpleasant, but today the sun shined and warmed our cold and wet bones.” His words made Malon turn and look at Link; for the first time she noticed how damp his clothes were.
“Please, come inside and dry off, and have some tea.” She said, pulling Link’s hand. Impa raised her hand.
“I’m sorry, Malon, but we are expected at the palace.” Impa said, her tone softer than normal.
Malon nodded slightly. “Of course, but I do ask for one moment.” She said and let go of Link’s hand, and ran into a barn several feet away and while they waited Paldnor came beside Link.
“I believe I envy your childhood, my boy.” He said quietly to Link. “I may be wrong, but I do believe she has an eye for you.” Paldnor added, and Link sighed.
“I know.” Link replied, and at the moment, Malon emerged cradling three bottles.
“Please take these.” She said, handing them each a bottle. “My family has been bottling this for generations. It’s very nourishing.”
“It’s been a while since I’ve had Lon Lon milk.” Link said, taking the bottle.
“Thank you, Miss Malon.” Paldnor said, accepting his bottle.
“Thank you.” Impa said, taking her bottle. “You are in for a treat, Master Paldnor; Lon Lon milk is the best to be sure.” She added. “Now we must be going; we will see you at the celebration, Malon?” Impa asked.
“I will not miss it, Lady Impa.” Malon answered. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Master Paldnor.” She said with a smile.
“I shall see you soon, Miss Malon. Thank you again.” Palnor said with a bow and Malon return a curtsy. Link waited a moment for Paldnor and Impa to be out of earshot, and took both of Malon’s hands before speaking.
“I wish I could stay longer, Malon. But...” He started, but Malon cut in.
“Go.” She said smiling. “Someone in the palace misses you, too.” Her words made Link speechless, and he thought quickly for something to say. “Go.” She said, again softly.
“Give your father my best. I’ll see you again soon.” Link managed to say, Malon nodded. Before Link could let go of her hands, Malon quickly brought her lips to his. She let the kiss linger for only a few seconds before they separated. Malon lightly pulled her hand out of Link’s grip and smile at him as she walked away. Link stood still for a moment, his heart hurt for all the years that he missed after leaving. He watched as Malon sang Epona’s Song and the young mare ran to her; she hugged the horse around the neck and stroked her mane. Hoisting his saddle bag over his shoulder, Link pulled the cork stopper from the milk bottle with his teeth and took a long drink of the from the bottle. The warm liquid immediately lifted Link’s spirits, and he felt a rush of warmth in his body. Link smiled despite his mood, and he turned and walked to catch up to Impa and paldnor.

Link finally caught up with his companions as they were walking out of the gates to the Lon Lon Ranch. Taking a moment to drain his bottle of Lon Lon milk before falling in next to them, Link noticed another new sight while he tucked the empty bottle in the saddlebag on his shoulder. Coming from the hill that hid the gates to the city and running past the ranch was a wide cobblestone road.
“A road?” Link said aloud.
“A road.” Impa echoed. “There are hardly any monsters at night anymore. Since workers are no longer in danger work crews go further from the city and the gats do not have to be closed up at night.” She explained as they walked the road towards the city gates. Looking back over his shoulder as Lon Lon Ranch shrank in the distance Link felt uneasy, he would have like to have stayed and reminisced with Malon some, but he also felt the desire to see Zelda, a desire that pulled on his very soul. The three walked in silence for several minutes before the huge gates of Hyrule City loomed ahead of them.
“Magnificent!” Paldnor said in amazement. Looking at the large stone archway with the drawbridge lowered, Link remembered his first time seeing the huge structure and the amazement the he felt in seeing it.
“Yes it is.” Link added, patting Paldnor on the back.
“If I die now, my life would be fulfilled.” He uttered, still amazed.
“Don’t die yet, my friend. There is still much more to see.” Link said as the three continued through the enormous gate. Guards on duty immediately recognized Impa and straitened up to salute her, and she returned their salutes as they proceeded over the drawbridge and through the gates.

Upon entering, Link saw that not much here had changed; the streets of Hyrule City were alive with the activity of everyday life. Venders were scattered all throughout the boulevard selling their wares, and children played around the trees that added greenery to the stone buildings. The vast Hyrule Castle rose above the tops of the buildings, taking up the whole of the horizon, again Paldnor stood transfixed.
“It is quite a sight, Link.” He observed, before finishing his bottle of milk. “Miss Malon was right; this was good.” He said, stowing the empty bottle in his bag, then looked depressed.
“What is wrong, Paldnor?” Link asked him.
The old man’s face looked worried. “I just realized that I will be celebrating with royalty, and I have hardly anything of finery to wear.” Paldnor said, looking into his bag. “I brought the best that I have, but I fear I will look like a beggar among them.” His mood began to lift when he spotted several kiosks in the main boulevard that sold fine robes and garments. “Do you think I have a few minutes to…?” Paldnor pointed to the vendors and shook his full purse of rupees, but Impa shook her head.
“I’m sorry, Master Paldnor. We must get to the palace; I will see that you are taken care of and given the chance to visit the market. I will also have the royal tailor see you as well.” She replied, her voice stern once more.
The surprised look returned to the old man’s face upon hearing Impa’s offer. “Link, my boy, I am young again!” He said, falling in behind Impa. The old man’s good mood was contagious and Link couldn’t help but smile and as he himself stared at the palace; he could almost feel Zelda near him.
Chapter 8 Hyrule Palace Grounds by coasty30
Hyrule Palace Grounds

The trio moved from the city pass the Temple of Time to the path that would lead them to the palace gates. Paldnor’s anticipation of seeing the inside of the palace had kept him quiet and Link looked around the walls of the small ravine they walked through. The vines still grew high and around the gates out of view of the guards on duty. Clearing his mind, Link sensed the heartbeats of Paldnor and Impa next to him and then the three guards at the gate, and then he sensed more guards by the moat. Concentrating harder, several heartbeats filled his senses; the sound in his head was near unbearable and he was about to break his concentration when one beat stood out, a heartbeat he’d know long before he developed his power to feel heartbeats, a heart he knew well. Blocking out all the other heartbeats Link concentrated on that signal one.
“Impa?” Link called to her.
“Yes, Link?” She returned, not stopping as she approached the gates
“Did the guards ever figure out how I got in all those years ago?” He asked, looking at the vines that he climbed as a child.
“I’m not sure, I know you wouldn’t tell them.” Impa answered and she turned to look at Link with her hands on her hips. “What are you planning?” She asked, her tone dead serious.
“I’m thinking of getting into the palace my way.” A small grin formed across his lips as he still stared at the vines.
“Link?” Paldnor asked, staring at him, but Impa was now agitated.
“This is not a game, Link. The guards will not throw you out this time; they will put an arrow though your chest!” Her statement made Link return her stern look.
“It wasn’t a game all those years ago, Impa!” Link protested, meeting her gaze.
Impa backed down. “Do as you will.” She uttered as she proceeded towards the gate. Paldnor stood next to Link.
“What are you planning on doing?” Paldnor echoed Impa’s previous question.
Link grabbed one of the vines and hoisted himself up. “Getting in my way. I know where I’m going, my friend. Follow Impa; she will get you inside.” He answered, proceeding up the side of the small ravine.
“Just be careful; we came to celebrate a birthday, not a funeral.” Paldnor added as he went to follow Impa.

The vines were barely strong enough to hold Link, but as he reached the top of the small shallow ravine, he looked down on the gate and saw Impa and Paldnor waiting to be let in. Running across a small ledge that overlooked the path to the palace drawbridge, Link concentrated on the guards; there were three of them out here and their steady heartbeats told Link that they were well on their guard. Slowing his pace as the ledge lowered to the path, Link stopped and hid behind some trees; he would only have a few seconds to dash for the moat before the guard would turn around and see him. Remembering Impa’s warning, Link didn’t doubt for a moment that the guards wouldn’t hesitate to kill him, thinking he was a thief or an assassin. The two heartbeats of Paldnor and Impa entered his senses walking up the path from the gate. Link waited for the guards to snap a salute to Impa before making his move for the moat, running with all his might. He reached the moat, relived that he hadn’t been seen. Taking a moment to calm himself, he sensed the guards’ heartbeats were unchanged they hadn’t seen him. The water in the moat was cold, but Link slowly made his way to the palace’s east side outer wall where there would be no guards. Link swam the moat up to where he remembered crawling through a hole in the wall, though the hole was still there it was much too small for him and after thinking for a moment, Link swam to where the moat passed through the wall into the palace gardens. Bars blocked his way, but after a quick inspection of them he could see they were almost totally rusted through, and with a hard push, Link broke one of the bars free from its base and slipped through to the other side of the wall.

Emerging from the wall, Link was now in a shallow pond in the royal gardens and as before, guards patrolled the grounds. Quietly making his way out of the pond, he hid near a stone gazebo to gather his thoughts. He concentrated hard, sensing seven guards between him and the entrance to the main corridor, but now Link felt the familiar heartbeat; she was close in the gardens. Glancing around the side of the gazebo, Link got his bearings, he couldn’t get caught, not this close to her. He would have to time his moves perfectly to keep out of the sight of the guards.
“This was so much easier when they wouldn’t kill me.” He whispered to himself, and slowly moved, holding himself low behind a groomed hedge. Link tried to calm himself or his heavy breathing would alert the guard on the other side of the hedge, and Link walked slowly in the opposite direction as the guard turned the corner Link slipped passed on the other side and used the large fountain with a statue of Farore in it to sneak pass two other guards. The deeper that Link went into the gardens, the easier he found was to hide and elude the guards and when he felt safe, he concentrated again. Heartbeats filled his senses there were two guards between him and the main corridor, and the familiar heartbeat…she was very close, so close he could feel more than her heartbeat; he could feel her very presence. Link wondered if she felt him as well. Taking a minute to catch his breath and get his bearings again, he realized that he was being drawn to the central courtyard, that’s where she was. Link fought to suppress his urge to run to her, he had to be patient and wait until it was safe, and his senses told him the last two guards between him and the central courtyard were turning a corner and he would be able to run for the courtyard with several seconds before anyone noticed him. Taking a quick breath Link left the coverage of the garden’s foliage and ran to the central courtyard through an arched tunnel.

The central courtyard was a large enclosed garden area open to the sunlight and surrounded by large windows that provided light to the throne room. Several beds of spring flowers were already starting to bloom and the air was fragrant. She stood with her back to him, in front of the center window looking into the throne room; Link remembered the first time he saw her there many years ago she had to stand on the tips of the toes to look into the window and a white veil covered her golden hair. She’d grown quite a bit into the woman that he remembered from another memory of a time that existed only to a few. Her dress was white and her golden hair shined like the sun, she still had her back to him and Link felt a terrible longing to be near her. Her heartbeat was strong and steady and Link slowly walked closer it was then that he saw his own reflection in one of the windows. His clothes were tattered and soaked from the moat; Link now wished he’d taken at least a moment to clean up his dirt-smeared face. It was the feeling of her quickened heartbeat that turned his attention back to the girl at the window. She was staring at him now and in moment their eye locked, she was radiant and the look on her face was that of disbelief.
“Zelda.” Link said, and she answered by slowly moving closer to him.
“Link?” She said unable to make the words. “How…how did…?” She stuttered.
“I came in my way.” He answered. Zelda brought her hand up to his face and Link felt her soft palm on his dirty cheek.
“You came.” She said. “You’re really here.” She smiled wide and a joyful tear escaped out of the corner of her eye.
“How could I not come?” Link said, and Zelda put her arms around him and held him tight.
“It’s been too long.” She whispered.
“Too long.” Link agreed, his heart aching from the loneliness he’d felt. When they separated, Link could see that his wet clothes stained her dress, but Zelda paid it no mind as they stood there. A minute passed before Zelda kissed him on his cheek, and made an effort to wipe the tears from her eyes.
“Welcome home.” She said, almost laughing.
Chapter 9 Guest Appartments by coasty30
Guest Apartments

Pacing about the main room in his guest apartments, Lord Alromon thought of his next course of action while his guardian Siam stood by the large window. Queen Rimeena’s revelation to him had put the information he obtained in the Royal Archives in to a totally different perspective.
“She told me everything I need.” Halon said as he paced. “The archivist said that darkness lies in the blood of the holder.” He stopped pacing and looked at his guardian. “But there are three.”
Siam moved closer to Halon. “I see what the riddle may be.” He said in his vaporous monotone.
“Oh?” Halon asked crossing his arms.
“If there was only one holder, my lord, they would already possess the Trivoid.” He answered.
“Of course, Siam. It does make sense, even the great goddesses themselves, which where the Triforce comes from, were separate deities, never one. Hence, the void never existed.” Halon picked up a wine bottle from the table and poured some into a silver goblet. “The cleric using the hairs was the first time the power of all three goddesses was used as one.” He said before drinking from his goblet. “Now we need the blood.”
“The princess should be easy enough.” Siam hissed.
“Indeed, we’d need only to wait for the right time of month.” Halon said with a laugh. “I will take it from her veins; I will take no chances, nor will I pursue moon blood from her sheets.” He finished and then emptied his goblet.
“Very well.” Siam said with a bow. “The boy’s blood may prove difficult to get, if he does not come.” He added, crossing his arms across his dark red tunic.
Lord Alromon smiled at this statement. “He’ll come. You heard the queen, and the princess is far too worried about him. He may be late, but he will come.” Halon refilled his goblet, then spoke again. “This Ganondorf, however, his blood will be much more difficult to obtain.”
“There are ways.” Siam cut in as Halon drank.
“He’s in a timeless realm.” Halon said and locked eyes with his guardian’s venomous gaze. “Your people can do this?” He asked.
“We can.” The answer came.
“How?” Halon asked.
“The queen said Ganondorf was sealed by the Master Sword; it no doubt inflicted a wound. That is all I need.” Siam answered, and Halon stood in silence for a moment.
“Get the blood, I don’t care how you do it.” Halon said.
Siam again bowed obediently. “As you wish.”

A knock on the big wooden doors to the chamber broke the brief silence.
“Enter!” Halon called, and the door opened a young officer of his personal guard entered.
“M’lord.” He said bowing. “Sir Siam.” He added and Siam answered with a slight bow.
“Yes, Lieutenant? What is it?” Halon asked.
“M’lord, the boy Link just arrived. Snuck into the palace past the guards.” The young lieutenant answered almost spitting with distaste. Halon grabbed the wine bottle from the table.
“This is good news!” He boomed, filling his goblet once more, and quickly drained it. He then handed the half-empty bottle to the young officer. “For you Lieutenant, the finest royal vintage. See that several casks are brought to the men in the barracks. It is time they celebrated.” Halon said, as the surprised young officer took the bottle.
“With pleasure, M’lord.” He answered with a bow and was off down the corridor at a run. A moment after the lieutenant was out of sight, Halon again turned to Siam.
“Snuck past the palace guards.” He said, looking to his guardian. “He is skilled.” Halon added.
“Do wish to have the blood tonight?” Siam asked.
“Patience, Siam. We have time, but I do want you to follow him and find out more about this boy.” Halon replied, looking out the window. “This Link is very interesting indeed.”
“As you wish.” Siam answered once again with a bow, and in the blink of an eye was gone into the shadows.
Chapter 10 Reunions by coasty30
Reunions

After their meeting in the gardens, Zelda led Link passed the guards into the palace. Many of the older guards remembered him and greeted him, but younger guards had to be pacified by Zelda upon the sight of the intruder. Leading him by the hand into the palace, they moved quickly through the corridors. All around him, Link would see the familiar sights that greeted him, everyday memories of the happier times.
“We have so much to talk about.” Zelda said as she led the way through the corridors.
“Much has happened.” Link answered, keeping up with the princess and trying not to be dragged by her. It was a few minutes before Zelda stopped before a door and turned to face Link.
“I turned this empty room into my study.” She said with pride as she opened the door, and they both stepped inside.
“Princess!” The call came from a palace steward.
“Yes, Malnorin.” She answered as he bowed.
“The Lady Impa has returned.” He said, straightening.
“Good, bring her here, Malnorin.”
The steward bowed again before speaking. “Of course, Your Highness, but she is not alone.” He said and Zelda looked confused, she glanced back at Link before speaking.
“Who’s with her?” She asked.
“An old man, Your Highness.” He answered.
Link stepped out of the study doorway. “He’s a friend of mine who I asked to come.”
Zelda looked at him with a mixture of surprise and interest. “A friend?” She said the look in her eyes asked all the questions and Link was ready with an answer.
“I owe him a favor.” He answered with a wink of his eye. The simple gesture reassured Zelda and she looked to Malnorin.
“Show them both here, and have Aleeia bring tea to the study.” She said and Malnorin bowed.
“With pleasure, Your Highness.” He answered, bowing again before he made his way down the corridor. Link stepped into the study and Zelda followed, shutting the door. A moment passed as they both stood in silence, and Zelda slowly embraced Link again, resting her head on his chest. Link felt her heart ease and he returned the embrace.
“I’ve missed you.” She uttered, and her words sent waves of guilt through him. “Four years.” Zelda added, tightening her grip on him.
“I’m sorry.” He said, wishing he could say more and slowly pulled away.
“Don’t be, it’s me who should be sorry.”
Link shook his head. “No…” He said, but Zelda raised her hand.
“The past, Link… And an argument for a different time.” She replied, immediately lightening the mood in the study. “You…” She said as she gestured to a chair at the table. “…need to tell me everything, Link.”
“Everything, Zelda?” He asked settling in the chair.
“Did you find Navi?” She asked with enthusiasm showing on her face.
“I did.” Link answered nodding. “She’s well, tending the Deku sprout.”
“Excellent.” She said, the hint of satisfaction in her voice on hearing the news.
“She’s grown a little.” Link added.
“Grown?” Zelda said, confused. “She’s a fairy?”
“Aye she is, but she grew a little.” A knock on the door interrupted Link.
“Come in.” Zelda called and stood up to greet the guests. The door opened and Malnorin stepped in.
“The Lady Impa.” Malnorin said as the tall woman entered the study, and walked right to the Princess and the two hugged each other.
“It’s good to see you, Impa.” Zelda said to her nursemaid and Impa’s hardened face became softer, showing affection.
“It’s good to see you, child.” She said before the two separated. “As you asked, Zelda.” Impa said, gesturing to Link. “He did not make it easy of course.” She uttered in her hard voice.
“I forgive him.” Zelda said, looping her arm around Link’s. “And who is this?” She asked, seeing the old man for the first time.
Link decided to do introductions. “Zelda, this is my friend, Paldnor Gorely of the village of Porsail.” He spoke. The old man slowly struggled to get down on one knee, but the princess was quick to stop him.
“Oh no, please!” She said quickly, bending down to help the old man. “There is no need; I’m not a goddess.” She added with a warm smile.
“I am honored, Your Highness.” Paldnor managed near out of breath. Zelda brought her hand to Paldnor’s face.
“I hear it is because of you that Impa was able to find Link, Master Paldnor.” She looked into the old man’s eyes. “I am Zelda Alieena Marison Davos the XXXVIIth, and it is I, sir, who am honored.” She finished and softly kissed Paldnor’s cheek.
“Oh my.” Paldnor uttered, amazed.
“Your full name!” Link shot at Zelda, his arms crossed. “I thought you hated your full name.”
“Link, please.” She said, still smiling. “That will be all, Malnorin.” The steward bowed as he left.
“You should feel honored, Paldnor.” Link stated.
“Oh, I am quite honored.” He gleefully replied, but Link continued as if he did not hear him.
“The last time I used her full name, she hit me, and it was no mere love tap.” Link said, his eyes locked with Zelda’s.
“I didn’t hit you that hard.” She countered in a mocking tone.
“My nose bled for half an hour, and then she didn’t speak to me for a week.” Link couldn’t help but laugh as he explained, and Paldnor looked to the princess, amazed.
“Really?” He said.
“I was most proud of her that day.” Impa said from behind Paldnor, and great bursts of laughter escaped their mouths, and Link felt a tremendous release of familiarity something that he’d felt only once since leaving the palace.
“This day has been far too much for an old man.” Paldnor said, yawning.
“There is an extra bed in Link’s room, Master Paldnor.” Zelda said, taking his hand. “I am sorry; that is all that I can offer as of now.” She continued, but Paldnor regained from his amazed state and stopped her.
“My princess, it is fine. Better than fine.” He said, as Zelda slowly escorted him to the door of the study. “I lived in a barn for two years, but that is a story for a later time.”
“Indeed.” Zelda said as Impa opened the door.
“I will see Master Paldnor to his room.” Impa said and Paldnor bowed.
“Thank you.” He answered.
“See that he is provided for, Impa.” She said.
“I will.” Impa answered, nodding.
“I bid you a peaceful rest, Master Paldnor. Thank you again.” Zelda said as Paldnor stepped through the door.
“And to you, Princess. Goddesses praise you.” He said and raised Zelda’s gloved hand to his lips. “I will see you later, Link.”
“Rest well, my friend.” Link said as Paldnor and Impa shut the door to the study.

Silence followed as Zelda stood in front of the door with her hand on the doorknob and Link could feel her heartbeat quicken, as if she was angry or scared.
“Zelda?” He called, and silence followed again and he watched her hand slowly release the doorknob and come to her side.
“If I remember correctly…” She said breaking the silence, and she turned around and faced Link, then crossed her arms over her breast. “It was you who didn’t speak to me for a week.” Zelda commented, the smile on her face betraying her mood.
“Ah, well, as I remember you actually broke my nose.” Link added walking to her.
“And I remember all the tears I shed pleading for your forgiveness.” Zelda replied, walking in Link’s direction.
“And how we both agreed how stupid we were.” Link said, standing in front of her.
“And to never speak of it again.” Zelda said, letting her arms fall to her side. “I see that failed.” They both laughed and she hugged Link again. He wrapped his arms around Zelda, but she pulled away before he could fully embrace her. “I just noticed you’re soaked.”
Link looked down at his clothes, a small puddle had formed where he was standing. “From the moat.” He answered, blushing.
“You must be freezing.” She said, and walked to a cabinet next to a full bookshelf, and retrieved a thick blanket and wrapped it around Link. “I tend to fall asleep here sometimes the maids started leaving it.” She said.
“I’m fine, Zelda. You don’t need to do this.” Link pleaded, but Zelda didn’t listen and gestured to the fireplace where fresh logs had been set.
“I’ll have a fire started.” Zelda started, but Link waved his hand and in an instant flames erupted from the logs in the fireplace.
“No need.” Link said, and watched the startled look on Zelda’s face.
“You’ve been practicing.” She said, gesturing to a padded chair and they both sat. “You have a lot to tell me.” Zelda stated as she reached down and removed the shoes from her small feet. “And I want to hear it all.” She added.
“ All of it?” Link asked, removing his cap and boots.
“Four years, I’m sure something interesting happened.” Zelda pressed.
Link breathed deep.
“Interesting is just the beginning.” Link said, feeling the warmth fill the room.

The sun was setting and light from the fireplace filled the room with low light. Several hours had passed and Link was still telling of his adventures and Zelda sat and listened with the enthusiasm of child listening to an exciting tale.
“The Moon!” Zelda said in amazement and Link nodded.
“I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.” He answered, nodding his head. Servants had brought trays of food and pitchers wine for them while Zelda insisted on hearing her old friend’s story.
“I’m glad you were able to get Epona back.” Zelda said, filling her empty goblet.
“As am I.” Link answered as she filled his goblet. “You don’t have to do that.” He said, moving to stop her.
“I want to, Link. I am not incapable and you are more than deserving; it is not beneath me.” She said, putting the pitcher down. Link looked her in the eye and as she sat down again.
“Your invitation, you had something to ask of me?” He inquired, picking up his goblet.
“I did.” Zelda answered with a nod. “I would ask this of no one else.” She answered, settling into the high backed chair, and put her hands in her lap. Link’s eyes were fixed her and Zelda found herself unable to speak. For months, she had wondered and practiced how she would ask him to be her guardian, and for all her practice, the Princess was unable to form the words. Zelda looked at her hands folded in her lap but still felt Link’s eyes on her. “It was so different all those years ago… After you left, life was never the same here.” Zelda was surprised at herself; she could normally keep her composure, but in Link’s presence she found her strength faltering.
“Zelda?” Link asked, feeling her already tense heartbeat quicken. Zelda quickly took a drink from her goblet and took a deep breath.
“I’m fine. I know now how the lead actress at the amphitheater feels.” She answered with a smile. “If she were naked on stage.” The two laughed for several minutes and Zelda felt some her tension ease. Link was her friend and near constant companion for some time and they’d shared several of their deepest secrets. “I need you, Link.” Zelda said, not meeting his eyes.
“Of course, I’m here for you.” Link started, but Zelda raised her hand to stop him.
“Do not accept until you hear the whole of it.” She said and then took a deep breath. “I am being granted a seat on the Council of Lords, I will need a guardian.”
“You want me.” Link finished and Zelda nodded.
“I do.” She added. Link sat motionless for a moment lost in his thoughts. “I would trust this to no one else Link.” Zelda said, taking his hand. “Link I…” This time Link raised his hand, stopping her.
“I accept, Zelda.” He said bringing a smile to the princess’s face. “You knew I would.” He added. She leaned in and kissed him on the cheek.
“I knew, but I had to give you the opportunity to say no.” She said sitting back and refilling her wine goblet. “We be leaving for Nautalin within the week.” She said before taking a drink. “In caravan.” She added with distaste.
“I look forward to spring rains and roads of mud.” Link said as he crossed his legs.
“Indeed.” Zelda added and drained her goblet.
Chapter 11: The Third Person by coasty30
The Third Person


Several hours passed as Link and Zelda talked and reminisced of old memories. Periodically, servants would bring food and more wine and some time after midnight, the two dear friends were feeling the full effects of the royal vintage. The low burning candles produced a shadowy gloom around Zelda’s study, and it was in these shadows that a third person lingered and listened. The Serpent’s art was the way of the assassin, or of the spy; quiet and unseen shadow was his armor, silence his language, stealth was his life. Siam entered behind the maid who had come to bring them food some time before and the shadows in the room from the large bookshelves provided him with perfect cover. A lifetime of being unseen and listening had given Siam an ear for what was said the ability to decipher what was vital to what was playful banter among friends was more than a talent it had become his purpose, his patience was endless.
“You still have it with you.” He heard the Princess say; the giddiness in her voice told him that the wine was taking its full effect. Nonetheless, Siam’s attention was now fully on the conversation previous experience had told him that the playful had ended. Slowly moving along the shadows Siam moved closer to the pair timing his movements exactly letting the conversation the two shared hide what little sound he may have made. He watched as the Princess’s companion, whom he had heard was named Link, rummaged through his battered saddlebag and brought out a small object wrapped in cloth. Siam watched as Link unraveled the cloth and revealed the instrument to Zelda: an ocarina. This was the first time the two were silent since the wine had started to flow and Siam stood silent and motionless in the shadows. “It helped you, I trust.” She said, taking the small flute from him and Link nodded in acknowledgment.
“I don’t remember how many times it helped me.” He answered, causing a burst a of drunken laughter from them.
“Mother was so furious when she found out I gave it to you.” She uttered, her golden blond hair now hanging down broken loose from the tight bounds it was kept.
“She noticed?” Link asked playfully.
“Two years later!” Again they laughed hysterically, and Siam watched and listened to the two. The rest of what was said was more playful banter, and to Siam’s seasoned ears, useless for his master’s needs, but he did have a name that had so far neither he nor his master had heard before: “Navi”. The two stood to leave and he decided to follow; he had gathered information as his master had ordered, but Siam wanted more than secrets spoken over goblets of wine. These two could very well be his enemies and knowing them would be key to defeating them, a law of the Serpentine arts that the youngest student was schooled in. Creeping slowly behind them Siam was able to see the whole of his prey. The Princess had no weapons he could see and he was uncertain how schooled she was in magical arts, Link carried a battered dagger at his belt and the saddlebag he hefted over his shoulder surely carried a surprise or two. The corridors were filled with shadows from the oil lanterns lining the walls providing ample cover while he followed Link and the Princess he would also have to hide from guards who stood in the corridor and saluted Zelda as the two passed. The talking continued as Siam followed them down towards the royal apartments, arm in arm, and they were still only reminiscing playful banter and after a few minutes, two maids came to meet Zelda at the entrance to her chambers. The Princess regained some of her regal debonair as she greeted her maids who smiled and curtsied at Link, Siam saw Zelda whisper to one of her maids he was too far to hear what was said but immediately after the two embraced and wished each other good night. One of the maids was leading Link after Zelda disappeared behind the door and Siam concluded that Zelda had whispered instructions to the maid who eagerly followed them. Following a desire to learn more of this would be defender Siam continued to linger in the shadows of the dimly lit corridor as the maid led Link to his chambers. Siam expertly used the few seconds after the maid and Link had passed through the door to slip in the room and still remain hidden. Moonlight from the window and light from the open door offered only enough illumination to see the two beds in the room the one in the darker corner was occupied. The maid busing herself turning the sheets on the bed and Link dropped the saddlebag near the open window. The maid curtsied to Link before leaving and she closed the door leaving only the moonlight. It several minutes before Link made any movements and Siam risked getting closer. Link started removing his boots and Siam slowly began to move towards the window to tell his master of what he’d heard. The sound of the worn leather boot hitting the stone floor broke the silence; the second sound Siam heard was the ring of the dagger being slowly drawn from its scabbard. Siam only had seconds to react before Link made a quick thrust with his dagger in his direction, forcing Siam back against the wall. The strike had knocked Link off balance and Siam managed to maintain his cover in the shadows, but Link still staggered in his direction.
“Show yourself!” Link slurred, walking closer. A breeze from the open window diverted Link’s attention and Siam decided to use it for his escape, grasping the stone wall. He pushed off it and flew quickly passed Link, still wearing his shadowy veil. Outside the window, Siam clung to the wall using small hooks he kept in his tunic; it took a great deal of effort to remain motionless and maintain his shadowy camouflage, and he was now restless. Link had seen through and if he’s not been drunk Siam would not have been able to escape. He waited for Link to look out the window, but after several minutes nothing happened and Siam risked a glance through the window. His eyes scanned the room and in a moment he had located Link lying in the bed, the dagger still in hand and his one booted foot still on the floor and aside from the rising and falling of his chest he was motionless. Siam watched for a few more moments, the sound of the of the man’s low snores convinced him that Link had succumbed to the effects of the wine. Siam moved slowly around the outside of the castle, his shadow veil hiding him from the eyes of the night guards. He had much to tell his master and he had preparations to make for his next task would be difficult and exhausting.
Chapter 12 The Broken Man's Battered Shell by coasty30
The Broken Man’s Battered Shell

Malinia knew her Princess well, and on that particular morning, Zelda was more than thankful to her handmaiden for foregoing her normal routine. It was far from often that Zelda was not awake to greet Malinia, but on this morning her maid awaked her quietly with the shades kept shut. Wakening up this morning was difficult for Zelda; her head was pounding and every sound made her suffer more.
“Good morning, highness.” Malinia whispered to Zelda.
“How late is it?” She asked in a ragged voice and the maid gave her affectionate smile.
“Still morning.” She answered, busying herself as she normally did.
“I think I’ll stay here today.” Zelda muttered as her maid busied herself with her chores.
“Anili left me a note telling me she had trouble getting you ready for bed.” Malinia said in her pleasant tone. “She didn’t… finish.”
“What are you talking about? I don’t remember even getting into bed.” Zelda stated, sitting up in her large bed. She immediately regretted it; the throbbing in her head intensified and she leaned back against the headboard rubbing her temples. When she managed to look at Malinia standing at the foot of her bed, she was gesturing to the covers that covered Zelda. It took a moment for Zelda to summon the will to look under the sheets; it was as if moving in a thick liquid. Despite the fact that she’d seen the sight on countless occasions it took a moment for her hazy thoughts to realize what she was seeing and how out of place it was for her. “Oh.” She uttered, blushing and setting the sheets back against her.
“I’ll get you a robe, highness.” The maid said, walking to the large wall wardrobe and removing a thick colorful wrap from it. “I’ve prepared a bath for you as well. I think it rather undignified for a Princess to smell of royal vintage, no matter how fine it is.” Zelda’s bare feet touched the stone floor and Malinia quickly wrapped the large robe around her and after it she tied and bound the robe around her she stepped away giving the Hylian princess a moment to settle on her feet. Zelda stood there, letting the robe ease the brief chill she had caught while the fabric was being wrapped around her, but the cold stone floor on her bare feet kept her from feeling totally warm. She was starting to teeter a little and she felt herself become nauseous, and she brought her hand to her mouth. “I think I better help you.” Malinia said coming to her side and leading her to the washroom off to the side of the bedroom.

It was near midday when Zelda finally felt well enough to venture beyond the darkened and comfortable solitude of her room. The outside world was torturous to her; the light hurt her eyes, and the polished stone surfaces reflected the sunlight that shined through the stained glass windows that lined the corridor giving her no place to hide her eyes for the light. A shaded stairwell that led to the main hall offered her a brief respite form the torturing light, she rarely indulged in the royal vintage and it was even rarer that she would over indulge, but being with Link last night was unlike any other; despite her suffering, she didn’t regret it. She was unsurprised to hear that Link had yet to wake though his traveling companion, Master Paldnor, had awoken much earlier. She had a plan of waking Link herself but thought better of it. Instead, Zelda left word with the maid and steward to make sure that he had been taken care of before she set herself to the chore of preparing for the move to Nautalin, which today had proved to be quite arduous. The smells from the kitchens had taken their toll on Zelda’s weakened condition and she had decided she needed a cup of some strong tea. She had also planned to revisit her room to change because she was starting to sweat profusely into her underskirts. Passing through the main hall would insure that she would not encounter her mother, who was undoubtedly surrounded by the wives and highborn daughters of the lords, who had come for the celebration, and the Queen would be an intolerable gossip. If it were not for all that she needed to do for the celebration and the subsequent trip to Nautalin, Zelda would have stayed in her room with the shades tightly closed. She descended the stairs slowly to give her eyes the extra time away from the sun, before the large windows of the main hall would again assault her eyes. To Zelda’s relief, the main hall was mostly empty, except for a few servants and the guards who saluted Zelda. She answered with a nod.
“Princess!” An unfamiliar voice called, and Zelda felt her heart drop she had been hoping to slip into the kitchens quietly and have her tea and be gone just as quickly, but now her duty as princess would take precedence. She looked in the direction that the call came from, and she could see two figures in the hall walking her way; the bright sun blurred her vision. Putting on a smile and straightening her skirts, she tried to remember where she’d heard the voice before and as the two got closer, the faces became clearer. The face of her father filled her with relief and she relaxed; the king would keep her from seeking relief. It was a moment before she recognized the old man with her father as Link’s friend, Paldnor; he was dressed in fine blue robes.
“Good morning to you, Princess.” He said in a pleasant tone. “I never though I would break fast with the King.” Paldnor added quietly as he came close.
“Good morning Zelda.” King Davos said, stepping toward Zelda. He looked smaller than normal because he was not wearing his regal armor; instead he was dressed in ornate robes similar to Paldnor’s.
“Hello, Father.” Zelda answered, embracing him and kissing his cheek.
“I was relived to hear that Link had arrived last night, and that he had arrived with Master Paldnor here, who had provided me with quite a conversation this morning.” The King said gesturing to the old man.
“You managed to find time get yourself some fine clothes, Master Paldnor.” Zelda said to him.
“Thank the Lady Impa; she had this ready for me when I woke.” The excited old man said. “I hope Farore’s winds do not call me soon.”
“As do I.” She added, putting her hand on Paldnor’s shoulder.
“I trust you are well, my daughter?” The king asked.
Zelda avoided his gaze. “I have been better, Father. Link and I enjoyed the fine vintage last night.” She said, her head throbbed again as a constant reminder.
“I assumed Link had had quite a night; when I awoke, he had only one of his boots removed and his dagger drawn,” Paldnor added in a confused tone.
“I was on my way to the kitchen for some rather strong tea.” Her statement caused Paldnor to get a little more excited and eager to speak.
“I believe I have a better solution, Princess.” He said with a large grin on his face.
“Oh?” Zelda said, still rubbing her temples.
“Coffee!” The old man said, his excitement showing. “You’ve heard of it?” He asked.
“Yes. The maids drink it, fowl smelling stuff.” She answered. “How can that help?” Zelda added.
“Much stronger, Highness.” Paldnor answered.
King Davos nodded in agreement. “He’s right, Zelda. I drink it when I travel.” He said and Paldnor nodded quickly.
Zelda was eager to feel normal. “If you think it will help, I will try anything.” She relented and gestured to the far end of the hall. “I’m sure the bakers in the kitchens will have some.” Zelda looped her arm through Paldnor’s.
“I shall see you two shortly.” The King said, but before he could finish the hall guard announced another arrival. Several loud knocks against the stone floor preceded the announcement.
“Now arriving, Honored Knight of the realm, and High Steward of the village of Rutone, Sir Barodon Dalenon!” The announcement finished, and the king had a surprised look on his face.
“I don’t know of him, Father.” Zelda whispered, squinting to see across the hall.
“You wouldn’t, Zelda. He hasn’t come here in many years.” Davos answered in the same whisper as his daughter.
“Who?” Paladnor asked in a whisper as well. Zelda’s vision had cleared some and she could see the figure of an old man in a traveling cloak and riding boots walking with a polished wooden cane. Even from a distance at one end of the hall, she could see the man’s face was ragged and tired with a gray mustache and beard.
“Rather wizened looking.” Zelda uttered in her hushed whisper.
“Yes.” Paldnor whispered in agreement.
“He’s my age, perhaps younger.” The king’s statement surprised Zelda and Paldnor. “The years have not been kind to him.”
“Indeed, Your Majesty.” Paldnor agreed, and several seconds of silence passed as the ragged knight came closer.
“Greetings, Your Majesty.” The knight said, bowing slowly.
“Greetings to you, old friend. Forgive me, I wasn’t expecting you.” Davos answered, clasping wrists with him.
“How could I miss such a celebration for our fair princess.” Sir Dalenon said with a nod to Zelda.
“It’s a pleasure to have you, honored knight.” She said, returning his bow. “This is Master Paldnor of the town of Porsail.” She added, gesturing to the old man whose arm she was still holding on to.
“Sir Honored Knight.” Paldnor answered before bowing to him.
“Master Paldnor.” The Honored Knight inclined his head returning the gesture, and then turned his attention to Davos. “I do beg your forgiveness, Majesty. I should have sent word beforehand, but the decision to attend was made rather hastily.” Zelda was still astonished by the sight of this man; she couldn’t believe he was near the same age as her father. The king was near fifty, but was still quite strong and vibrant in his age as were many of the knights of the same age, but the Honored Knight before her looked more than grandfatherly in years.
“Think nothing of it, my friend. You’re always welcome here.” The king said spreading his arms and gesturing around the hall.
“Thank you, Majesty. It’s been quite some time since I’ve been to the city. It’s… It’s changed much greener than last time, more trees.” Sir Dalenon said in a deep voice. Zelda met the man’s eyes for a moment, and sadness that she could not describe filled her. There was a pit in her stomach that groaned, and it was not because of the wine. Her left hand began to tingle and burn; it was a rare feeling but one she knew well. It was the Triforce of Wisdom and it mourned, mourned for the Honored Knight before her. She fought the near overwhelming feelings of sadness and rage that were filling her thoughts, these thoughts were coming from the Triforce, an echo of what he felt, but with all of this there was also a sense of purpose that she couldn’t explain.
“It will be wonderful to have you here, Honored Knight. And I am honored that you will be attending the celebration.” Zelda said before her father could speak, and put a slender hand on top one of his hands that held the polished cane.
“I thank you, my princess.” He said, looking back at her and with his sad eyes. “It was a rather long and hasty journey.” Sir Dalenon said with an exhausted sigh. “With your leave, your majesty?” He asked the king.
“Of course… Steward!” Davos called and a young steward who was cleaning wall lanterns quickly came to his side.
“Yes, Sire?” The steward answered, bowing.
“See to it that Sir Dalenon is given quarters in the palace.” He ordered, his voice was stern but not threatening.
“As you wish, Sire.” The steward answered bowing again.
“Very good.” Davos answered back and then returned his attention to the Honored Knight. “I shall see you later Barodon, we shall talk.”
“I look forward to that your majesty.” Sir Dalenon said nodding in agreement. “Princess.” He said and Zelda curtsied in acknowledgment. “Master Paldnor.” And Paldnor nodded as well.
“Honored Knight.” He answered back, bowing.
“Until then my friend, rest well.” Davos stated and Sir Dalenon started behind the steward.
“Good day, your majesty. Good day.” His cane made a soft clapping sound each time it struck the stone floor. The three watched the ragged man walk behind the steward and disappeared up the staircase at the end of the hall. Zelda could not stop a tear from escaping form her eye but managed to wipe it away before her father or Paldnor could notice.
“What happened to that man?” She asked as the three stood in the hall after a brief silence. “How could he be your age father and look that old, and worn?” She suddenly remembered the throbbing in her head and once again messaged her temples but the large pit in her stomach was the Triforce of Wisdom still mourning. “Something terrible happened.” She found herself uttering aloud.
“Terrible indeed.” Davos said crossing his arms behind his back. “That man Zelda, was the High Knight of Parthasol Keep.”
“Goddesses!” Paldnor stated in surprise. “He survived that nightmare?!” He added in his shocked monotone.
“He probably wishes he didn’t.” The king said, looking at Paldnor. “His wife was among the dead, and she was with child.”
Zelda gasped loudly. “Goddesses give them rest.” She whispered.
“Moblins.” Paldnor spat.
“Yes, a hoard of them attacked the Keep while the knights were away. I fear you have not the stomach to hear more.”
Zelda looked to her father. “I never heard of this.” She stated in confusion.
“Not something people wish remember, and the period of mourning was broken by a very joyous event.” Davos said, looking to Zelda.
“What event?” She asked confused.
“Your birth.” He answered, and Zelda turned a bright red.
“Now I remember, people did stop talking about it after that day.” Paldnor stated blindly. Zelda started to feel sick and her throbbing head didn’t help her. “Are you alright, Princess?” Paldnor asked.
“Zelda?” Davos asked, his concern showing.
“I think I shall try the coffee now.” Zelda said, not meeting their eyes.
This story archived at http://www.kasuto.net/efiction/viewstory.php?sid=1047