New Fan Works
Old Fan Works
“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, Part 1
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
The snow billowed all around the old cottage as the night grew darker. This would be a storm to remember; for days the snow had piled up around the small houses of the village with no end in sight.
Light from inside the small dwelling shone upon the drifts out of tiny windows. Inside the home, a fire crackled noisily in the fireplace and soup bubbled in a pot above the fire. Young ones gathered around the fire trying to get warm. This cottage, being the town meeting hall, was crowded with five families who had sought shelter from the storm and were all now living cosily, if cramped, sheltered from the elements.
“Tell us another!” came a childish cry. A chorus of echoes begged the same of an old man sitting amid the dozen children.
“But, children,” the old man said, “It is almost bedtime and if I start another story, you shall be late to bed.”
“We don’t care, tell another story!”
The old man looked over to his aging wife and she nodded wearily, smiling.
“All right, then,” he said, settling himself for another tale. The children squealed with delight. Smiling, the storyteller took out his pipe and lit it. “Now children, have I told you of the story about Foghan and the dragon?”
Amid the chorus of ‘no’s, a little boy shouted, “We don’t wanna hear about some old dragon!”
Shaking his head at the boy’s disrespectful behaviour, the old man asked, “Then what do you wish to hear, young man?”
“We wanna hear about Link!” shouted the boy. The children loudly agreed with him.
The old man thought for a minute. “How about the tale of the Silver Rose?”
Heads shook. “We’ve heard that one!” someone shouted.
“What about the tale of the evil faerie king, Vaun?”
The old man smiled slyly as another story sprang to his mind. “Have I told you the tale of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice?”
The room fell silent but for the sound of the village women preparing supper.
“Ah! I thought not!”
The man settled into his chair and drew a deep breath of smoke from his pipe before starting.
“Now little ones, this story happened many
years ago, after the faerie king had attempted to conquer Hyrule.
The hero, Link, had killed the faerie, but some questions still remained.
For instance: How had the Shades been found? How did they know Rothe?
How did Vaun survive the destruction of the Forest Temple? No one
knew it, but Vaun was merely a puppet, a distraction while darker things
roamed the surrounding Shadows. One such shadow was Ashir, the apprentice
of the wizard, Agahnim!”
The air was putrid. Deep in the bowels of the great Hyrule Castle, a dungeon dwelt. This dungeon was kept only for the vilest of criminals. Few guards passed through these halls. The only light to these rooms was a single dim lantern that illuminated the main chamber. Around this main chamber were a dozen cells, each locked. These prisoners were here to die.
The air was musty and thick and the smell of rotting flesh and rancid meat hung heavy in the rooms. Inside one of these rooms lay a small man. He spent his days looking up at the ceiling and watching the air move. Sometimes he thought he could see shapes in the air, moving and bending and shifting; calling out to him, begging him to join them in their dark dance.
This man had led a full life and was now awaiting the executioner’s block, although he half fancied that he was now forgotten, since he had spent almost two years in this filthy cell with no hint of release. This man was Ashir, the pupil of the great Agahnim!
He used his magic for fun now, for his cell was guarded against magical attacks and could not be opened with spells. Life was slow. That was about to change. The sound of running feet reached his ears first. Many feet; at least a dozen. Voices he heard second; hushed voices. The sound of the cell lock turning was heard last.
The door to Ashir’s cell creaked open and his room was flooded with a blinding light. One man ran to the magician and roughly picked him up, carrying him out the door. The others waited out in the main hall, men in dark clothes with concealing cloaks and masks upon their shoulders.
Quickly, they ran up the stairs to the main
dungeon and then up again to the castle itself. They moved very stealthily
out into the castle grounds and then out of the city; the bright midnight
light burning Ashir’s eyes. His mind was cloudy in the sudden rush of events
but one thought kept piercing his mental fog: He was free!
The Adventure Begins...
Hyrule. Called by some the Jewel of the Seven Kingdoms. Hyrule was a land of majestic mountains, emerald rivers, and cavernous ravines. Mostly, though, Hyrule was a land of magic. Of course, all of the Seven Kingdoms had the power of magic, but for some reason, Hyrule had more. Its people, the Hylians, were all naturally gifted with magic; it came easy to them.
In the surrounding lands, populated mainly with the humans, magic was not so plentiful. Generations of breeding had diluted the magical blood, so humans had trouble performing even the easiest of spells.
Hyrule has for centuries been ruled over by the monarchies; the King and Queen, chosen by the gods themselves legends say. Inside their beautiful castle in the centre of Hyrule both were pillars of sanity as the rest of the castle fell into chaos; Ashir had escaped.
Link, the protector of Hyrule, the Hero of Destiny, the guardian of the Triforce, was striding through the halls of the castle towards the throne room. Though only sixteen, those who do know him never place him below twenty; the pressures of leadership and destiny have pulled on him long. Passing a troop of guards, Link entered the giant throne room. No one ever entered the Hyrule throne room without stopping in awe. The walls were adorned with rich velvet curtains and tapestries made of the most brilliant colours; the floor was laid with ivory and gold; the ceiling plaited in silver and gems; the entire room centering on the thrones.
Both towering above the room mounted on a raised dais, they shone with the light of the morning sun. Made entirely of ruby quartz, these thrones glittered red and reflected the sun's rays throughout the room. Upon these chairs of royalty sat the king and queen of Hyrule.
King Torvus of East Hyrule sat in the right-hand throne, his golden sceptre shining in his hands, his red cape blending with the chair, his blue robes piercing the red room like a sword through bread. Queen Mira of West Hyrule sat upon the left chair, her flowing golden gown seemed to surround the seat, her silver crown resting gently on her brow.
Both monarchs demanded honour from those around them.
Link approached the dais and knelt quickly. "Your highnesses."
"Rise Link," Mira said, "You know that it is we who should be bowing before you for the services you have given this country."
Rising, Link said, "You summoned me?"
"Yes," Torvus announced. "One of the prisoners has escaped, killing two guards on his way. We wish that you should track him down immediately."
"Torvus!" Mira whispered scoldingly.
Torvus seemed to relax a bit in his throne. "Sorry, Link. I am not yet used to being so informal with my subjects."
"No problem, sir," Link said knowingly. Torvus had ascended to the throne when his wife, Princess Mira, was proclaimed Queen of Hyrule following the death of her father, King Gerrik. Link winced as he remembered the day Gerrik had died. Asleep in his room, an illness striking him, Gerrik had been murdered by the evil faerie, Vaun.
"I'll do as you ask."
"Thank you, Link," Mira said, smiling.
Link turned around and marched out of the
room to prepare for his mission.
Link returned to his room in the guest wing of the castle. What would he need? This was a tracking mission, so heavy armour was out of the question. Light mail should do. He bent down to pick up the shirt of chain links and his necklace fell out from beneath his tunic. The necklace. It was a small plain ring fastened onto a chain. Idly, Link fingered the item and fondly remembered his time with Malon. The farm girl had given it to him with the promise to return it. He still had that to do.
At that moment, the door flew open and in flowed a young girl not much older than he. She was dressed in knee high riding boots, dark green breeches, and a loose tunic of blue belted with a silver belt. Atop her head was a silver circlet.
Although she did not look it, she was a princess. But not just any princess–she was Princess Zelda, jewel of all the Seven Lands and youngest sister of Mira.
Link stood straight and turned to his guest, putting on the mail.
"What's up, Zelda?" he asked casually.
"Link!" she said excitedly, "I just got a letter from Julia! She hasn't said anything in over two years! This is great!" Saying that, the young princess jumped onto the bed and began reading:
"Hello Zelda, dear. I hope I find
you in good health. I am so sorry that I have not stayed in touch
but out here in Delabor, communication is very rare over long distances.
How is our dear older sister, Mira? I hear that she has become Queen
of Hyrule! She shall make a wonderful queen. Is Torvus still
as boring as ever? I do not doubt that he is! He will never
Zelda finished the letter and looked up at Link. "Julia's coming here! That's terrific, Link!"
During Zelda’s recital of the letter, Link had been busy preparing for his mission but now he stopped. "Who was Julia again?"
Zelda tossed a pillow at the boy, laughing. "You remember, don’t you? Julia is my older sister; she's the middle child with Mira being the oldest. About eighteen years ago, she and a noble wed and she gave birth to a boy, Trine. That was two years before I was born. Then ten years ago, her husband–I can't remember his name, now–ascended to the Delaborian throne and she left Hyrule to join him. That was the last time I saw her before she visited once, seven years ago. And she's coming home again!"
"Good," Link said, busying himself once more with preparations, "Why don't you go tell Mira and Torvus the good news."
Zelda jumped up. "That's right! I've got to tell them!" She rushed to the door but stopped short. "Link?" she said turning to face him, "Where are you going?"
Link put his sword, the Evil's Bane, the Master Sword, into its scabbard and left the room. "A prisoner escaped last night and Torvus told me to track him down."
"Oh," Zelda said as she followed Link out into the hall and towards the main gates. "Well, if you'll wait a bit, I'll go tell Mira the news and then join you! Ok?"
Link smiled at her and agreed. "Ok, I'll meet you by the front gate in ten minutes."
With that, the two parted company, Link headed
for the gates and Zelda headed for the throne room.
Twenty minutes later, Link, Zelda, four guards, and a friend of Link's, Auldric, departed from the Royal Palace all mounted on the finest steeds. The going was slow, though, for Link had to constantly stop and look for the tracks of Ashir.
The day was beautiful, Zelda thought; the warm air clinging to the countryside, the cool wind lightly whisking her golden hair; birds chirping happily in the trees. Even her mount, a sandy brown mare called Sufaina, after the beach clinging coral, seemed to help the serenity of the land with her hooves thudding lightly on the grass.
Link had led the group in a southerly direction and at this rate, Zelda thought, they would reach the Calatian border in three days. She worried about those people, the Calatians. They were pleasant enough, in their own fashion, but to her they always seemed distrustful and guarded against new things. Really, she couldn't blame them, after all that country had been through.
According to the legends and lore of Calatia, the land was once nearly as beautiful as Hyrule, but a fierce magical war had turned much of the territory into either deserted plains, baked by the sun; or strangling forests, were the sun never reached. After this war, the people had just began to recover when a powerful, evil wizard appeared. This wizard was said to be the vile warlock, Agahnim. The same Agahnim who had nearly delivered Hyrule into the hands of Ganon several years ago. Many scholars agree that, though Agahnim lived many centuries ago, it was the same one who Link killed in his pursuit of Ganon–revived by the vile one for his own evil purposes.
This ancient Agahnim had ravished the land and killed many Calatians before he was stopped in a great battle with the ancient Calatian hero, Garin. The wizard supposedly died in that battle, but the tales are unclear as to the fate of him. A sudden thought struck the young princess. What would the Calatians do if they discover that Hyrule has been harbouring Agahnim's apprentice? They wouldn't be happy at all, that is for sure.
Idly, Zelda twisted her ring as she thought of the possible outcomes: The Calatians could be so furious as to try and imprison or even execute Link and herself! Their hatred for the wizard runs deeper than anything else in their lives. It runs so deep, in fact, that their society scorns any that use magic frequently; including Hylians, like she and Link, who use magic constantly. Very few Calatians have any knowledge at all about magic.
The princess snapped out of her thoughts to see Link riding beside her. "What is it , Link?" she asked.
"I said that the tracks we're following have been joined by more."
"What do you mean?"
Link stopped his horse, Silvermane, and dismounted. Kneeling, he pointed to the ground by his feet. "These tracks are those of Ashir and his friends," he pointed his hand west and swept it to join those tracks. "These, though, are from another group who joined our friend the wizard from the west. I'd say about six who joined the original party of twelve."
"What were they doing in the west, I wonder?" Zelda said thoughtfully. "There's not much over there except Northern Calatia. Link, get the map out and check it please."
Link opened a pouch on the side of Silvermane's saddle, took out a map, and looked at it for a minute. "Well, there's not much west except for Calatia and Turka. Why would these people come all the way from Turka just to meet with two-bit wizard? That's a lot of ground to cover."
Putting the map away, he mounted his horse again and turned to Auldric, who had been silent for the trip so far. "Auldric, why don't you take two men and follow the new tracks and see were they start?"
Auldric saluted mockingly. "Yes, sir! We'll meet back at the castle, OK?"
Link saluted back and smiled, "Sure thing, Auldric. Good luck."
With that, Auldric and two guards turned and
That night, Link, Zelda, and the two remaining guards posted camp near the Ghanrian River. The river was hardly a river any more, for it had dried up ages ago and reduced to nothing more than a stream. With the crickets chirping all around them, the four made ready to sleep. Link took the first watch, for there were many creatures that roamed the land at night. The surrounding blackness was kept only at bay by the dwindling fire.
Zelda was surprised when she awoke to find that the fire had almost died and Link was still on guard. She got up and walked over to were the boy sat.
“You should be asleep. You’re watch ended hours ago,” she said, sitting next to him.
Link looked at her in the gloom. “I know,” he said, “but, I just can’t think of any reason for Turkans to kidnap Ashir and take him to Calatia. If anyone saw him, he would be killed on sight.”
“I know,” Zelda said. They fell into silence for some moments, the only sound the crackling of the fire. Suddenly she spoke up, “Link, when we find these kidnappers, what are we going to do? You said they have about eighteen men. We only have four.”
Link looked at the ground for some time before answering, “I don’t know. We’ll just have to hope that we sneak up on them. Don’t worry, everything will be fine.”
Zelda wasn’t too sure.
The next morning, the four travellers set out, once again on the trail of the wizard. As they rode, Zelda noticed that the Eridani Mountains could be seen easily; these mountains were the boundary between Hyrule and Calatia and the closer the mountains come, the greater chance that the wizard will not be caught this side of the boundary line.
As the day wore on, Link noticed that Zelda seemed very preoccupied. She wasn’t speaking much and looked to be thinking a lot. This worried the boy, for Zelda was usually a happy, outgoing person. Something was wrong.
Keeping his eyes on the trail, Link found himself remembering the first time he had met the princess. Although it was only two years ago, it seemed to him to be ages. Fighting his way down into the depths of Hyrule Castle and finding at the end, the most beautiful girl he had ever laid eyes on. She was his age but held a certain charm that made her seem much older. Her shoulder length golden hair and astonishing features were captivating. Of course, Link had said nothing of his attraction to her, but she had sometimes hinted that she knew how he felt and shared the feeling.
After freeing Zelda from the dungeon, Link had helped her escape to the Sanctuary were she could be safe. Since that day, he and she had been the best of friends, always by each other’s side. They had been on many adventures, and through these adventures Link had gained more popularity than he had ever dreamed of; everyone in Hyrule knew him. His talents had greatly increased and he was considered by many to be the best swordsman in all the Seven Lands, yet still he longed for more. Staying as honoured guest at Hyrule Castle and the constant duty of commanding the Praetorian Guard was wearing on him; he wanted more. As his uncle would have said, “The soul is getting restless.”
Link had bested everything that rose against him. Creatures were so afraid of him now that most would run at the sight of him. This thought jarred Link out of his thoughts and back into reality: Where were the creatures? This part of Hyrule was usually crawling with nasty things, now there were none to be seen or even heard.
“Zelda?” he asked.
“Have you noticed that these lands are empty? There are no monsters.”
Zelda looked quickly around her at the rolling hills and saw nothing. “That’s odd,” she said. “There should be at least some.”
They rode in silence, all of them looking around to find a trace of an enemy, but could find none. Suddenly Link caught a little detail. “Birds.”
The others looked at him. “Birds, sir?” one of the guards asked.
“I hear birds. I don’t think I’ve ever heard birds this far south.”
The others agreed. This was indeed strange.
Where were the creatures?
The rest of the day was passed in near silence, as the companions rode on through the strangely safe lands.
That night, they camped under the boughs of a large oak tree. After they had eaten their small supper, Zelda lay near Link on her back looking at the night sky.
Link looked down at her. “What are you thinking about?”
Zelda did not shift her gaze from the heavens. “I was thinking about my family.”
“Yes. I hardly know them, Link. My mother died when I was very little; I never knew her. My father died almost six months ago; Mira and Torvus became the leaders of Hyrule and now spend all of their time ruling the land; Julia and Trine live on the other side of the world, ruling Delabor. I don’t really have anyone to talk to; to confide in, you know? The closest thing I have is probably you, Link.”
Link chuckled softly. “Am I not good enough for you?”
Zelda smiled slightly. “You’re the best I could ask for. You’ve been my friend for over two years now and we’ve been through a lot together but it won’t last forever. You know that. One day, we’ll have to stop running around on adventures and leave that to younger people who have all the time and none of the responsibilities.”
Link laid back onto the grassy ground. “And when do you think that will be, princess?”
“Most likely the day I marry.”
It was a few moments before any other word was said between them. Link murmured softly an agreement. “Yeah, when you get married...”
Zelda pushed herself up onto one elbow and looked Link in the eyes. “Link, I know how you feel about me,” she could see the astonishment in his eyes, “and the Gods willing I may feel the same about you, too, but I don’t think anything could happen between us. I’m of royal blood and it’s expected of me to marry a nobleman.”
She reclined again and resumed her stare at
the stars waiting for a response. It never came.
The next morning, it was a blood red sun that crested the mountains surrounding Hyrule. The morning light fell upon Link, Zelda, and the two guards already riding towards the Calatian border. By midday, the mountains loomed over them and Zelda called for a halt.
The party stood in a deep ravine that cut through the mountains; in the middle of ravine was a small path–the road to Calatia.
“Link, this could be trouble,” she said.
“Ashir has already crossed the border. I suppose we’ll have to tell the Calatian king.”
Neither one of them enjoyed the task. They both knew that King Eridanus would be furious at the news. An evil sorcerer loose in the land was bad enough, but he was also Agahnim’s apprentice; not good news at all.
Wordlessly, the decision was made. Zelda turned to one of the guards, “Go back and inform Queen Mira and King Torvus that Link and I are following Ashir into Calatia. Go now!” With a salute, the man turned his mount around and headed back to the castle.
The remaining three kicked their own mounts
forward into the realm of Calatia.
Auldric and his two companions were having difficulty. The land to the west was very rocky, so a clear trail could never be seen. Once or twice they had come to a dead end and had to retrace their tracks to pick up the trail again. By the end of the first day they had made small progress, coming only five miles from the trail of the wizard.
The night passed uneventfully and the new day dawned. That day proved to be better for the trackers for the path was clearer. While Auldric did not posses the same hunting skills as Link, he was above the average.
The trio followed the trail as it turned from west to a northerly direction. Noting this, he could be reasonably sure that the trail would lead him to the freezing forests of Turka. Looking at his map, Auldric noticed that the path seemed to be headed towards a small town called North Ridge, which sat along the Western Mountains that divided Hyrule from Turka. They would have to get provisions for a long, cold trip there if the trail did not end at the town.
The day passed and night fell.
Settling down in the soft dirt surrounding the fire, blankets around them, the three men began to talk.
“So,” one asked Auldric, “how did you meet Link? You two seem to be pretty good friends.”
“Well,” Auldric said, “about two years ago, I was fishing in the Jarul River when one of those pesky Zoras jumped out at me. I guess I screamed, because before I knew it, there was Link, sword in hand, fighting this Zora before my eyes. I moved away from the fight, not wanting to get in Link’s way, when I slipped on a rock and fell headfirst into the river!” The guards laughed at this. “The next thing I know, I’m all wet laying on the riverbank with Link kneeling next to me. He was all wet too, so I guess he jumped in and saved me from drowning. After that, Link and I have been pretty good friends.”
“You were lucky that Link was there, huh?”
Auldric laughed, “Yeah, I guess I was. But since then, I have helped Link out now and then. I saved his life once, you know.”
The other two laughed, not believing him.
“No, really! I saved Link! There he was, surrounded by a group of tektites, with only his sword for a weapon. The tektites didn’t see me, so I snuck up on them and cast a fire spell that burned almost half of them! They never knew what hit them! I was coming in, sword slashing, from behind, and Link was still fighting his way through them on the other side. Needless to say, we slew them all.”
“Get off! You are saying that you saved the Hero of Hyrule?! No way!”
“True, true. It’s all true.”
Laughing, the men all drifted off to sleep.
The next day, the three broke camp and continued on their way, following the tracks northwards. The going went peaceably and swiftly and before nightfall, the town of North Ridge was within sight. Cresting a small hill, the men could easily view all of the small town. Before them, they saw many golden lights glowing in the fading sunlight, the mountains beyond shedding long shadows by the red dusk.
Riding into town, Auldric quickly found an
inn at the edge of the settlement where they spent the night.
North Ridge was the sort of town where everyone knew each other and strangers were easily recognized. It was a typical border town in that the houses were every close to each other; a tightly built town. Also like border towns, North Ridge had very few places of recreation; there was only one small pub that doubled as an inn and the town hall, there was one town fountain in the centre of town, and one small store.
When Auldric and his companions had awakened, they had breakfasted and immediately began to search for someone who knew of the six mysterious kidnappers. They met nothing but walls. No one in town was willing to speak with them about the strange men.
After several hours, Auldric just gave up; he was going to get nothing from these people.
They had just sat down in the pub when a tall man walked up to them.
“Sirs,” he said, “You are looking for the strange men who passed through town several nights ago?”
Auldric eyed the man carefully before replying. “Yes, we are. Do you know of any useful information about these men?”
The man looked quickly around him, “Yes.
I do. If you would follow, I can show you all the information you
need.” Saying that, he turned around and left the pub.
“I don’t trust him either, but he’s the first person to even offer us information in this town. Let’s check it out,” Auldric said, rising from the table.
The three men left the pub and followed the strange man down the main street and out of the town into the surrounding grasslands. When they had reached a small shack, the man stopped and faced his followers. “In here are all of the answers you seek. If you would follow me...” He opened the door and entered the hut.
Auldric and the two guards followed and were immediately surrounded by blackness. Behind them, they heard the door slam shut making the darkness complete.
A faint snickering rose around them and suddenly the house was filled with light. The man had lit a lamp and was smiling evilly. Around him and three travellers were half a dozen battle-hardened bandits, each with a curved blade in his hand pointed at Auldric.
The strange man walked up to the trio and took their weapons saying, “All the answers you will ever need.”
Something hit the back of Auldric’s head and
he fell into blackness, hearing no more.
Mira was worried about her sister. When Zelda had come to Torvus and she, they had granted the girl permission to travel with Link, but they both had concerns. It was not fitting for a princess to be riding around the land on adventures.
It should be expected, though. After she and Julia had been married off to distant realms, only Zelda remained, and their father had spoiled her rotten after the Queen passed away. The young princess had done whatever she wanted for much of her life, and Gerrik hadn’t the heart to stop her.
Currently, Mira had other concerns now than to worry abut Zelda; she could look after herself and Link would protect her no matter what. With the sudden announcement that Julia was returning to Hyrule after so long, the court was busy making preparations. Banners had to be made, dinners to be thought out, rooms to be prepared, and so on.
As well as arrangements, the monarchs also had to quench rumours. With the announcement, the people had begun to talk: Are Hyrule and Delabor uniting? Are they at war? Against who? Each other? Is Trine looking for a bride? Is Zelda marrying Trine? Such things have to be dealt with before they get out of hand.
Mira was sitting in the throne room of Hyrule Castle beside Torvus, chin in hand, listening to boring reports of various occurrences in the land. Presently, a small, beetle-like fellow was telling her of the new improvements made to the castle to protect it from siege.
“Is that not a brilliant idea, m’lady?” he asked.
Suddenly aware that the man was speaking to her, Mira snapped out of her thoughts. “I’m sorry?”
The man frowned in displeasure. “I said, m’lady, that the castle walls have been modified so that any invading army must pass under several rings of archers and multiple traps. They would be slaughtered! Is that not a good idea majesties?”
Mira looked to her husband and caught his eye; he too was bored. “It is indeed a grand idea, sir. But is it necessary? No one will attack this castle.” Torvus said.
The beetle man seemed shocked. “Necessary! Necessary? It is indeed, good king, it is. Why at this very moment a host of demons could be marching here! These walls will stop them, sire, I guarantee.”
Amused, Mira said, “Will these walls indeed halt the advances of a demon hoard? With their magic and ethereal bodies? That would be a great feat.”
The man fumed, “M’lady! Please do not mock technology! This–”
“What if the enemy attacks the gates?” Torvus asked.
The man went stone still, his mouth opening and closing silently; his eyes narrowed and his face flushed in anger.
Torvus laughed. “This news of the walls is indeed good! We thank you for informing us, sir. Perhaps when you have time, you could find a way to improve the gatehouse that protects us as well as the walls. Again, thanks and good bye, sir! Never let it be said that we have no need for brilliant men! Go now!”
The man turned in a huff and left the room that still echoed with the laugher of the king. Mira watched him leave and then turned to Torvus. “Who was that man, dear?”
Torvus only laughed harder. “My dear queen! That was your Captain of Defense for this marvelous castle! Sir Gain Rampt is his name.”
Wiping his teary eyes, Torvus beckoned a page. “Tell those who are left to spend the night in the castle and make rooms for them; the queen and I shall be in the Tower. Do not disturb us unless important. Go!”
The page left and the monarchs rose and headed for their rooms in the castle tower. Arm in arm, the king and queen walked along the concourse that led to the tower. The walkway was built with a wall to one side and open on the other looking out to a small garden.
Torvus looked hard at his wife. “You look worried.”
Mira shook her head. “No, I’m not. I’m fine, really.”
“Don’t bother lying, I know you too well. What’s wrong?”
Sighing, Mira answered, “It’s Zelda. I can’t seem to stop thinking about her. I don’t like her running all over the land chasing evil with Link. It’s not good for a young girl or a princess.”
Torvus smiled slightly. “She will be fine. I have never known a girl with more skill at staying alive than she. Besides she’s with Link, he’ll protect her. Don’t worry.”
Not convinced, Mira said, “I just can’t shake this feeling of dread and foreboding, like I’ll never see her again. It scares me, Torvus.”
They stopped walking and Torvus hugged his wife. “You should not be worrying about such things, dear. You are the queen of Hyrule. Push such evil thoughts out of your mind and leave them until they are proven a reality. Then they may be addressed. Until then, enjoy yourself! We have the whole afternoon to ourselves. What shall we do?”
Smiling as an idea came to mind, Mira said, “Let’s have a treasure hunt!”
Torvus looked dismayed. “Mira, I hate treasure hunts! I never find anything.”
Laughing as she took him by the hand she said,
“Oh, come on! We haven’t had one in ages! It’ll be fun!” With
that, she led him through the castle halls to begin the hunt.
Sir Gain was not happy. He glowered at all of the royal courtiers as he passed them on his way to his quarters in the east wing of the castle.
The stupid queen had no idea how lucky she was that she had such a man as he under her rule. Gain had not lied when he had said that the new walls were impenetrable, he just had not expanded on that fact. The king would be surprised to discover that he had pinpointed the exact flaw in the design. Stones from the gatehouse had been scavenged to build parts of the walls. A well-placed bomb could destroy a good portion of the gate. Within minutes the castle could be taken over.
His foul mood disappeared and he chuckled as he thought of the monarchs shivering in a cold shack in the Northern Countries. The warlord had said that Mira and Torvus would be exiled shortly after the coup. For this, Gain was grateful. Even though he was a traitor to the crown, he would not be responsible for their deaths. When he had made the deal with the warlord, he had ensured that the royal family would live out their lives in exile, far from Hyrule, while their ‘faithful’ captain of defense would be relaxing in the luxury of personal advisor to the warlord.
He entered his chambers and smiled as he thought of how the princess would react to the news that she was no longer a princess but a mere commoner. He chuckled again as he thought of her face contorted in rage as she was barred from returning to the castle; or Hyrule for that matter. Gain was sure that the frivolous activities of that girl would stop when her crown was taken.
But Link. That boy could be a problem. While he would try to retake the crown, he would also let nothing harm the royal family, so he might stay with them in their exile. Early on, he was ruled out as a supporter of the coup; he was too loyal to the monarchy.
If he disrupted the plans somehow, he might have to be killed. Gain did not like that possibility at all. As with the royal family, he did not like murder. Killing on the battlefield was one thing, but killing for politics was quite another.
His thoughts concentrated on the present as he walked to a mirror in the back of his room. He had to give the warlord an update. The gate was finished and the plan was drawing together. The kidnapping of the wizard was the signal that soon all would be ready to depose the queen.
He muttered the magic spell to bring the mirror
to life and a shadowy figure replaced the reflected image in the mirror.
Smiling grimly, Gain prepared to give his report. Soon all would be complete.
Calatia. The Land of Plenty. A land rivaled in beauty only by its northern neighbour, Hyrule. Inhabited by the descendants of the fair Hylia of Hyrule; Humans. These people are of the simple type, who live close to the land and distrust anything new and foreign.
It was into this country that the small party of the Princess Zelda rode in search of the wizard’s apprentice, Ashir. Unfortunately, politics interfered with the search; the riders were headed toward the capital of Calatia, Calasta, in hope of finding King Eridanus in a good mood. They rode with fearful hearts for Eridanus will surely blame them for Ashir’s escape.
Currently they were a two-day journey from the gem of all cities, Calasta. Renowned throughout the Seven Kingdoms for it’s high towers, wide pools, beautiful gardens, and magnificent architecture, Calasta held the throne of the most powerful land in the world, with an army hundreds of thousands at its command. A force to fear.
The princess Zelda was riding beside Link upon Sufaina and admiring the countryside when Link took hold of her arm suddenly, halting them both.
“What is it, Link?” she asked, surprised.
Link was silent for some time before answering; he was staring at some point of in the distance. “On the horizon,” he said. “A group of people is coming this way.”
Zelda relaxed a bit. “Oh! Is that all? I thought that we would be in trouble. If it’s only people, then we should go meet them!”
Link held her arm firm. “No. We don’t know how they’ll react to Hylians in their land. They could get violent.”
“Then what should we do?”
“We wait for them to get closer and see if they’re armed. If they are, we run away as fast as we can.”
Zelda was confused. “Link? Running away from a small band of raggedy travelers? Why not just stand and fight?”
Link stared at her in shock. “Zelda! Are you supposed to be a princess?! How would you react if you discovered that several Calatians had crossed into Hyrule and killed some farmers? Attacking these people could be disastrous!”
Zelda blushed in embarrassment. “Sorry. I forgot that we had left Hyrule.”
With that, the travelers hid behind a small thicket of bushes and waited for the Calatians to draw nearer.
Soon, though, their fear left them and they left the thicket cover for they had sighted the green and gold flag of Calatian nobility. These were knights wandering home after some unknown battle.
Presently, the two companies met.
A knight rode forward upon a steed of brilliant silver; the breed of horse given only to the four leaders of the realm. Among them the king himself and his three governors.
The knight, clad in armour shimmering in the noonday sun, raised the visor of his helm revealing a tanned, scarred face with a bushy mustache beneath his sharp nose. He spoke in a strong, commanding voice.
“Who so greets a Lord of the Realm of Calatia? Riding boldly as if to give greetings?”
Before Link could stop her, Zelda had ridden forward and addressed the knight. “Sir, I greet you so boldly; for I am also of royal blood.”
The knight looked surprised. “And whose blood is it that you claim is royal, miss?”
Pulling herself up tall as she spoke, Zelda said, “The blood of Hyrule, sir. For I come of the house of the late King Gerrik and the current Queen Mira. I am Princess Zelda.”
The knight was silent for some time before speaking again as he slowly looked the girl over noting the stature, fairness, and dress of her.
Then he dismounted and walked up to Sufaina and bowed low, kissing the princess’s hand. “Lady, forgive me. I did not know of your arrival into our land.”
Zelda smiled as her authority was recognized. “Sir, all is forgiven. What is your name and business today, sir knight?”
“I am Lord Gildebrandt of Darantol, your highness. I have just come from a tournament in Calasta and am riding home with my courtiers.”
“Well, I am on my way to meet with your king, whom I suppose you have just departed from?”
“Indeed I have, m’lady. Does his highness know of your visit?”
Mounting again, Gildebrandt said, “Then I shall send a man ahead of us to tell the king of your visit.”
“Us?” Zelda asked.
“Yes, m’lady. I shall accompany you and your party to Calasta. The plain lands have become dangerous of late and someone of your stature must be protected.”
Zelda smiled. “Of course you shall come with us, sir. But I am afraid we may not need your help,” She gestured to Link. “for I have with me the Legendary Hero of Hyrule, Link.”
The Lord looked shocked. “The Link who defeated the evil Wizard?”
“The same,” Link said, bowing in his saddle.
Turning to Zelda again, Gildebrandt said, “Then, Princess, you have nothing to fear with such men guarding you.”
With that, Gildebrandt sent one man ahead
of them to Calasta and the others of his party onwards to Darantol and
he himself rode alongside Zelda. Then Link, Zelda, Gildebrandt, and
the two guards set out for the Calatian capital.
The rest of the day was spent riding at a light pace for the sky was clear, the sun was warm and the entire company enjoyed the relaxation. While most of them were quiet to enjoy the day, Gildebrandt would be constantly talking; about himself, about Calatia, about Hyrule, and such.
By nightfall, Zelda and Link were so worn
out by the Lord’s never-ending voice that they almost immediately fell
asleep after setting up camp.
Zelda had a dream. The princess saw herself standing in a high vaulted room before a large throne. Although someone was sitting upon the throne, she could not see who it was; shadow covered his face.
She heard herself talk. “Who are you? Where am I?” There was no answer.
She asked again and again, each time receiving only silence. She found that she could not move closer to the throne; she was stuck were she stood.
Suddenly noises from outside reached her ears. Zelda strained to hear what the noises were when she noticed a small balcony several feet from where she stood. The noises were coming from there.
The man raised his dark hand and Zelda found herself moving to the balcony. She reached the edge and peered out at a frightening sight. Below her marched thousands of soldiers, row after row, all in perfect step. Some were human, some were creatures she had never seen before. On and on they marched; from blackness into blackness at the edges of Zelda’s vision.
She was turned around to face the throne once again. Before her startled and fearful eyes, a figure emerged from the deep shadows surrounding the chair; one almost as black as the shadows themselves.
This being silently and slowly walked forward
until he was almost face to face with the girl. He raised his hand
in which he held a long sinister blade and swiftly let it fall upon the
princess. The vision went dark and Zelda awoke.
Link was kneeling above her when she opened her eyes.
“Zelda!” he whispered, “Wake up! We’re under attack!”
Zelda looked quickly around. The sun was just beginning to redden the morning sky and the sounds of battle could be heard.
Link helped her up as she said, “What’s going on?”
Drawing his blade, the Master Sword, Link replied, “Moblins. Lot’s of them. Come on!”
Zelda unsheathed her dagger and followed as Link led her into some thick bushes.
“Stay here and be quiet,” he said.
“What? No! I’m going to help you, not hide!” she said angrily, starting to rise.
“No! There are too many. Stay here in safety.” Saying that, Link ran off to join the fight.
Zelda watched as more than a dozen moblins attacked Link and Gildebrandt and the two guards. Encircling the four, the moblins moved quickly around them. Link swung at a moblin that had strayed too far in and slew the beast, but the others were just out of reach of the swords. Poking the defenders with their pikes, the moblins never broke the circle of attacked for several minutes.
Thoughts were running through Zelda’s mind. “What can I do?” she thought to herself. “If I attack them, I might be able to distract a few, but they would kill me after killing Link. If I run away, Link will die!”
Even as she thought this, one moblin walked too close and was slain by Gildebrandt’s sword. The princess made up her mind. Holding her dagger tightly, Zelda ran out of the bushes yelling as she charged the circle. Before any of the fighters could react, she had slashed two moblins deeply and they fell to the ground in pain. This was all that was needed for Link and the others; they attacked the moblins that were momentarily distracted by Zelda’s charge and quickly killed six of them. Unfortunately, in their charge, they did not cover their rear, and the remaining three assaulted the two guards whose backs were turned. They died in cries of anguish, but Link and Gildebrandt faced the three and speedily killed them.
Link slumped down on the ground breathing heavily and Gildebrandt bent over, his hands on his knees, catching his breath. Zelda just stood watching the bloody remains of the dead.
“Lord Gildebrandt?” she asked after some time.
“Yes?” he said.
“Do packs of moblins usually attack travelers in the day?”
“No, m’lady. Very rarely do they take up arms and attack their masters.”
“Masters?” Link asked from the ground.
Standing tall, the lord poked one of the moblins with his sword. “Yes. Masters. Did you not know that moblins are kept as slaves in Calatia?”
“Slaves! Moblins?” Zelda asked, shocked.
“Yes,” Gildebrandt said. “They are excellent servants. If a bit crude.”
“Why do you keep them as slaves?” Zelda asked.
“We have much work that we would rather not do ourselves, so we keep moblins to do that work. The arrangement works out fine; the moblins do the work and the masters collect the fruits of that labor. All parties are happy.”
“You mean the masters are happy,” Link said quietly.
Gildebrandt stared hard at Link but did not
reply. Instead he said, “If we wish to reach Calasta tomorrow, we
should leave now.” The others agreed, and after they had buried the dead
guards, the trio mounted their horses and rode off.
The companions traveled through the quiet Calatian countryside the next day and by the time the sun was setting, the towers of Calasta were within sight.
Zelda had never seen the capital of Calatia. King Gerrik had never liked the Calatians and had rarely visited them. He believed that they hated all magic and that included all who used magic. Zelda could have been attacked by mad Calatians and Gerrik would not take that chance.
With Link to her right and Gildebrandt on her left, Zelda approached the doors of the great city. Soundlessly they opened and the two Hylians could not have imagined what lay before them.
Under the fading light, the city was illuminated by thousands of torches and mirrors. The torches cast light into the mirrors and then reflecting the bright light throughout the city. The light fell upon the red brick buildings of the city. Everything from the smallest house to the tallest tower was red. Tales told of the city that always burned, and indeed at night the red light gave the impression of fire in the city. What surprised Link and Zelda more than the towering buildings and bright, yet hellish, light was the multitude of people.
Lining the main street were thousands upon thousands of Calatians chanting and cheering. Zelda had never seen so many people gathered in one place in her life. She was overwhelmed.
Gildebrandt took the lead and guided Link and the princess through the great city and throngs of people to the steps of the Grand Palace. Standing atop these large stairs was a small delegation. One of them stepped forward to greet the travellers from Hyrule. He was a tall man of great strength and had the look of a knight. His grey beard fell to his knees and his shoulders were covered with a fine green cloak that reached to the ground. Atop his head sat a grand golden crown covered in jewels.
This was King Eridanus; ruler of all Calatia. He stopped before Link and Zelda as they dismounted and said in a voice loud enough to be heard over the cheers of the crowds, “Welcome Princess Zelda of Hyrule! Welcome Captain Link of Hyrule! You honour Calatia with your presence!” he stopped shouting and bent close so the two could hear him, “Please, come inside. This occasion deserves a feast, and lucky for you there is one ready! Come!”
With that, Eridanus turned grandly, and with a sweep of his cloak, started back up the steps to the palace with Zelda and Link in tow.
The Hylians entered and immediately were in awe. The palace was the most ornate and tasteful building they had ever laid eyes on. Gold covered most of the ceilings and silver lined the walls (in between the grand tapestries); the floor was tiled in the most expensive blue marble.
Through a series of twisting corridors they were led until the sounds of feasting reached their ears. Zelda close to Link. “This is my world, Link. Let me do the talking.”
Link just nodded.
The small group entered a large dining hall. In the centre of the hall was a grand black and gold table. Lining the table stood dozens of chairs, many of which were already occupied. Above the table hung huge chandeliers all ablaze with gigantic candles. The scene was very jovial and festive.
Those sitting around the table were nobles. Even Link could tell they were nobles; they had fine clothes and talked big. In his experience with nobles, they all seemed to talk about either extremely stupid matters or extremely fake matters.
“Friends!” roared Eridanus. A hush fell over the room. “I have with me the Princess Zelda of Hyrule and Captain Link of Hyrule! They shall sit by my side this evening! Make room!”
Some people cheered and shouted greetings as everyone shifted down the table one seat.
The guests all stood as the king stood at the head of the table. As he sat, the others sat as well. Link was seated at the king’s left hand and Zelda, directly across from him, sat at the right hand. Eridanus clapped his hands loudly. Moblins came in and set food on the table. “Eat and enjoy!” shouted the king.
“So, my dear princess,” Eridanus said happily as they began their meal, “what brings you into my beautiful country? No royalty of Hyrule has set foot in this land for many years. The last to do so was your late father, Gerrik, when he was younger. That must be now more than twenty years!” he seemed to sombre up. “I’m sorry about Gerrik. I knew him well and I was saddened to hear of his death.”
Zelda stopped eating and looked down at her lap before speaking. “Thank you for your concern, majesty. My father was a great man and shall be missed by all.”
All heads within hearing of the princess nodded gravely as she continued. “Link and I did not enter your land to admire its beauty, I’m afraid. We came following a.... dangerous prisoner who has escaped from the king and queen. He crossed into Calatia several days ago. We thought it wise to come to you first before walking through your land without authority.”
Eridanus looked hard at her for a few moments and then laughed heartily. “My dear girl, any family member of Gerrik will always be welcome in Calatia!” He took a drink of wine before adding, “As long as their intentions are noble! Otherwise I would have to take their head off!” Again he laughed and was joined by the other dinner guests. Only Link and Zelda paled in fear.
“Th- Thank you, majesty.” Zelda stuttered out.
Laughing again, the monarch said, “No, no! Gerrik was like a brother to me and his family were like my own family! Call me what your sister called me when she and I went riding together; Greybeard she called me. That name was good enough for your sister then and it’s good enough for you now!” The table broke out into more laughter.
Link was chuckling along with the others and spoke up, “But if you call Zelda anything other than ‘princess’, you’ll have a furious girl on your hands!”
Eridanus found this extremely funny and collapsed in his chair, red faced and fighting for breath. “Good, lad!” he gasped. When he had gained his composure again, the king turned his full attention to Link.
“Now then, Link. What have you been up to since defeating the evil wizard?”
“Wizard? Oh, do you mean Agahnim?”
The table fell to silence. Everyone was looking at the king.
Eridanus looked the boy straight in the eyes and said levelly, “That name is never to be said in my land. The wizard took much from my ancestors when he was alive. I do not know about Hyrule, but in this land that wizard is still considered a demon. Do not name him again.”
“Sorry, majesty,” Link muttered.
The king relaxed a bit and took a long drink of his wine and uttered a curse under his breath. “Carry on, Link,” he said softly.
“Well, after killing... the wizard,” Link took comfort at the king’s approving nod, “I eventually came against his master, Ganon, who–”
“Tell us of the Dark Lord!” shouted a voice from the other end of the table.
“All right,” Link said and went into great detail of his experiences with Ganon but after a while he realized that his audience was paying him only polite attention and was not interested in what he was saying.
When he had finished his account of the Thief King, a man near Zelda said, “And good on ye, lad! Nothing good ever comes from magic-users, that’s what I always say!”
The diners all laughed and agreed loudly. Once again, only Link and Zelda did not join in the laughter.
Greybeard pointed to the man who had said this and laughed, “Too true, good man! Too true! Ah! Zelda, dear, allow me to introduce Evander, prince of Turka by day and scoundrel by night!”
Zelda followed the old man’s finger to a tall, black haired man with bright blue eyes and sharp features. He was dressed in the traditional garb of Turka: A white tunic with grey breeches and fur-lined boots. Around his neck he wore an ornamental arrow with a star around it; the symbol of Turka.
Evander stood and bowed low, a grin on his face. “Princess. I honour you with my presence! May this ‘scoundrel’ get to know you better in days to come!”
The other diners gasped at this rude comment but Eridanus, Link, and Zelda laughed at the prince’s disregard of etiquette. “May you consider yourself lucky, prince, that you know me this well!” the princess laughed. Evander beamed with humour and took his seat.
The dinner continued for many more hours, and through it all Zelda caught the Turkan prince watching her often. Sometimes when he caught her eye, he would raise his cup in toast, always smiling at some unsaid joke. As the night wore on, Zelda could feel her eyes droop lower and lower and was about to drift off to sleep when she felt Link’s hand on her shoulder. Looking up to him, she asked, “What is it, Link?”
He was standing next to her, holding a goblet in his other hand. Looking around, Zelda noticed that several of the dining chairs were now empty. “You fell asleep. I think you had better go off to bed.”
Zelda, fully awake now, started to argue but her friend held up a hand to stop her. “You were almost falling into your meal. Not a polite thing to do,” he added with a wry smile. “Besides, you’ve had a long day. Get some sleep.”
“Yes, my dear.” Zelda looked over at Eridanus who was still eating and drinking merrily. “Go off to bed. Your friend is right, you are excused. I shall send soldiers tonight to find this prisoner of yours, and within a week, you shall have this man. Come to me tomorrow morning and we will talk more then.” The king clapped his hands and a small moblin appeared at his side. “Guide the princess to her room.”
The creature bowed and stood next to Zelda as she slowly stood up.
“Highness, I think that I should escort Zelda to her room and, if I may, retire myself for the night,” Link said, taking hold of Zelda’s elbow.
“Of course, of course. Good night to you both.” Several diners also bid their farewells to the two.
With that, the moblin lead Link and Zelda out of the dining hall.
When the noise of the dinner had faded to a murmur behind the thick castle walls, Zelda shrugged off Link’s helping hand. “I can walk fine by myself, thank you.” Link just smiled as the princess stumbled several times; her weariness getting the better of her. Just when he was certain she would trip and fall, Link took hold of her arm again and this time she did not stop him, she just leaned heavily against him.
The moblin eventually guided the Hylians into a short terrace with doors on one side and a railing on the other looking out into a small courtyard. At the other end of the terrace, Link could see stairs that lead down to the tiny garden.
The slave stopped in front of a door in the terrace and opened it. Link lead Zelda into the room, which was a fair size, and set Zelda down on the bed. As he did so, the girl mumbled something about not being tired, but Link ignored it. He pulled the covers over her and walked out of the room, closing the door quietly.
Following the moblin to his room, Link also felt the pulling of sleep reach his eyes. Link’s room was not far from his princess’s, but it was too far for his liking. Turning to his guide, Link said, “Could you have someone keep watch at Zelda’s door?”
This obviously surprised the small dog-thing. “Ksah?” it said.
“Could you get someone to watch over the princess’ room?” Link repeated. “A bodyguard?”
Comprehension lit up the moblin’s eyes. “Ah,” it said, “a bo’ieguard? Yea, ksah. Yea.” Then it left the room, rambling about ‘bo’ieguards’.
Link shook his head slowly as the door closed behind the servant. Being waited on by moblins would take some getting used to.
Looking around his spacious quarters, Link idly fingered his necklace. Nothing good can come of this visit to Calatia, he thought. Nothing good at all. If only Link knew how right he was.