K'ger: Ok I rewrote this and the next two chapters. After that, the quality kinda gets worse until about Chapter 28 'a hero is the main course'. Please bear with me.
A hero doesn't take baths
A fire crackled with heat in one of the many fireplaces of Hyrule Castle. Rain poured down outside the castle, hitting the windowpanes and dripping down the glass, creating swirling patterns in the dark night. In a tall chair before the fire sat a young woman, her golden hair falling over her shoulders and glimmering in the firelight. In her hands she held a delicate glass cup of steaming tea, and she took a small sip before glancing over her shoulder, annoyed.
Behind her, a man was pacing. He was tall, with a chiseled jaw and harsh black eyes that occasionally caught the firelight and almost seemed to glint with malice. His mud-caked riding boots clicked on the smooth marble floor.
"Calm yourself, Byrne, you're going to get mud all over." She said to him, glaring at the muddy footprints all over the floor as he continued back and forth.
"I can't calm down, Zelda! We're on the brink of war, and there's nothing I can do!" Byrne said, quickening his pace.
"Technically speaking, there is something you could do." She suggested, returning her attention the fireplace. He stopped, and looked toward her with an exasperated sigh.
"But I'm too important to go!" He insisted, his voice raising in pitch.
Zelda looked at him tiredly, thick eyelashes framing her crystal-blue eyes as she watched him.
"Then what do you want?"
"I need a man who isn't afraid to die..."
In Hyrule Field the next morning, a carriage clattered down the road. Two horses, one brown and one gray, pulled it along the path, wheels squeaking as the cart was pulled through the mud that the last night's rain had produced. A dirty man with tattered clothing and filthy yellow teeth drove the pair. However, despite the driver's vagabond appearance and the cart's desperate state of disrepair, the cargo of the wagon was quite precious: Twenty thousand rupees' worth of gems freshly mined from the southern hills.
As they passed a thicket of blackberries, the horses began to get nervous, tossing their massive heads and nickering to one another. The driver looked around, bloodshot eyes scanning the massive expanse of grass all around them. In the distance, he could see a large plateau, on which a small compound had been built. He knew that place as Lon Lon Ranch, where he had purchased the horses that were now pulling his cart.
The horses whinnied when the something rocked the cart. The driver pulled them to a stop and turned in his seat, staring at the back of his wagon. There was nothing there but the crates that held the gems. He turned back to his horses and flicked the reins, clicking his tongue to urge them on.
Several minutes passed uneventfully as they horses continued down the path, occasionally flicking their ears back toward the cart as if they heard something that their driver could not. The tall white walls of Castle Town could be seen as they crested a large slope, the drawbridge wide open and the thrum of market-day activity could already be heard.
"Stop the cart." The driver stiffened as a cold voice whispered in his ear. He quickly pulled the horses up again, and glancing down, he could see a dagger was resting against his throat, the cold steel glinting evilly in the early morning light.
"What do you want?" the driver asked, look straight ahead of him and gulping when the knife touched his skin with a firmer pressure.
"Where do you keep the food?" The voice asked, his breath was hot against the driver's neck.
"The…Food?" He asked, not comprehending why the thief was interested in such a menial item when there were gems worth thousands right beside him.
"Where is the food?" The thief asked again, pressing the knife even harder against the driver's throat.
"In the second crate down and to the left."
In a flash he could hear a crate being ripped open, and he took a deep breath as the knife left his skin. He glanced over his shoulder, and for the first time his eyes darted to the thief. He was tall and thin, with a dirty blonde hair and fierce sapphire eyes. A small, single, blue hoop earring hung from the lobe of one of his delicately pointed ears. In a flash, the thief grabbed an armful of food, stuffed it into a satchel and then leapt easily from the cart.
The last the driver saw of the thief was a streak of ratty green tunic running away. He sighed and flicked the reins again, driving the horses over the drawbridge that led to Castle Town…
The thief bolted down the muddy road, heading for the nearby village of Kakariko. He dodged around a tall oak tree and broke into a sprint as a long set of concrete stairs carved into the mountainside came into view. He was about to cross the small stone bridge that led to the stairs when a sickening sound caused him to skid around to look at the path he had just taken.
Two Hyrulean Soldiers were riding toward him. He paled and looked frantically around the field for a place to hide. The oak tree? Nope, I'm not that thin. He thought, heart and mind racing as he tried to find a place to hide. Then his eyes found the bridge, the shallow water flowed underneath, and there was a small inlet he could probably fit into if he tried.
It'll have to do. He jumped into the shallow water and sloshed underneath, plastering himself to the back wall as the soldiers steered their horses onto the bridge, hooves clattering above him. He could hear the soldiers talking to one another as they rode.
"Did you hear about the new visitor at the castle?" One of the soldiers said.
"No, I've been on patrol duty for the last week. Who is he?" The other asked, the thief could hear the hooves stop clattering on the stone. The soldiers had stopped to chat.
Oh come on! The thief thought. Move on! I can't hold this much longer!
"They say he's prince of the desert, crazy name too, Ganondorf, I think."
They went silent for a few moments, and the thief held his breath, hoping that it was the end of the conversation and that they would move on.
"Why is he visiting? Don't tell me he's a suitor for the princess! She'd never take him!" They had started up again.
"No, I think he's here to sign a peace treaty, although I wouldn't be surprised if he did try to make some moves on the princess, boy would I like to see that dinner conversation!"
"So why're we going to Kakariko?" The other asked, changing the subject and forcing another stifled groan from the thief.
"You know that shipment of Rupees that just got in?"
"Well apparently, some good for nothing scoundrel robbed it at knife point. Stole two thousand rupees' worth of gems."
"I DID NOT!" The thief yelled, then clapped both hands firmly over his mouth. He shouldn't have said that!
"Did you hear that?" One soldier asked loudly.
"Yeah." The other answered, the thief could hear the clank of metal clad boots hitting the stones, and pressed himself harder against the wall as the soldier approached the low rail that acted as a guard.
After a few silent moments, the thief could hear the soldier remount his horse and listened as the horses began to trot, leaving him to finally take in a deep, loud breath. He pulled away from the wall and sloshed out of the river, making his way for the stairs…
Kakariko village was bustling today, jugglers practiced near the front gates to the village and carpenters were rushing frantically around, carrying beams on their shoulders or pushing wheelbarrows to-and-fro. The thief glanced around, making sure that there were no guards around, and strode through the town, ducking under one of the beams the carpenters were carrying and jogging up a little-used path at the far end of the village.
He walked under a moss-covered archway and entered the graveyard. Most villagers avoided the place, heeding the rumors that it was haunted. He slunk around the massive stone placard near the entrance and plopped down onto the ground to enjoy his spoils. Sure, it wasn't exactly a great ambiance, what with the impending sense of death and the smell of rotting vegetables, but no one liked coming here, so it was safe for a thief like him.
He was about to bite ferociously into a small loaf of bread when an angered voice came from behind him.
"LINK! Did you steal again?" An old, hunchbacked man said, hobbling past the placard and glaring at the thief. He sighed when he realized it was Dampe, the gravedigger.
Dampe had worked as a gravedigger since before anyone could remember, people often avoided him because his looks, but to Link at least, he was very nice. He always carried a shovel slung over one shoulder, and often used it as a crutch when he stood still for long periods of time.
"Uh…No? I…uh…barrowed it." He answered, raising the loaf of bread to his mouth and taking a bite. The old man shook his head tiredly.
"Link, if you keep stealing, eventually, you're going to get caught, and you know what they do to serial thieves, don't you." The old man made a slicing gesture across his neck, and Link rolled his eyes.
"Oh, come on, that 'getting caught' stuff is for amateurs."
"If you're so desperate for food, you could always go and live with your family." Dampe suggested, Link dropped his loaf of bread and stared up at him, an indignant look crossing his face.
"You know I don't get on with them." He said, picking up his bread again and biting into it with a growl.
"They have a saying about that, you know."
"About what?" He asked, his mouth full.
"Pride goes before a fall."
Link silenced the old gravedigger with a dismissive flick of his wrist.
"Oh, relax, I'm not gonna fall!"
A long, uncomfortable silence stretched between them, as Dampe watched his younger friend eat his bread on the ground, for some reason possessing now fear of death. A strange sound caught Dampe's attention, and looking up, he went pale.
"Link! Get out of here, NOW!" Dampe said, suddenly breaking the silence and looking back toward the entrance to the graveyard. Link looked up too, and immediately went pale. Three soldiers were riding up the path toward them, their armor clinking with the swaying motion of their horses' strides.
"Ack! Why're they coming here? I thought no one came up here!" Link gasped, gathering up his satchel of stolen food and glancing around franticly like a caged animal. Dampe grabbed him by the shoulder and pointed toward one of the graves.
"Push that one out of the way and jump inside, it's a secret passageway, I'll delay the soldiers. Be careful, there're monsters down there."
Link nodded and dodged over to the grave his friend had indicated while Dampe hobbled toward the soldiers, plastering a fake grin.
"Can I help you?" He asked, putting the nose of his shovel on the ground and leaning on the handle. A woman rode out from behind the two soldiers.
Her hair was stark white and pulled into a tight, perfectly kept ponytail. Gleaming silver plates of armor rested on her shoulders and a short sword was strapped to her belt.
"Yes, I believe you can…"
Link jumped into the dark beneath the grave, it smelled like a mixture of death and wetness. He reached out and used the wall for guidance as he made progress. He jolted and leapt away as his fingers touched something different in texture, something cold and hard. Taking a breath, he reached out and touched it again. It was a sword.
He pulled the sword out of it's bracket on the wall and continued down the dank corridor. Up ahead of him, he could hear a faint scratching sound, like cracked fingernails grabbing at stone floors. What was that sound? he asked himself.
As he traveled, an eerie green light illuminated a wide section ahead of him. Something large, with a hunched back and long legs, was silhouetted against the light. His foot hit a rock and sent it tumbling down the hall. It made a loud THUMP as it hit something soft and squishy. Link stopped short, the rock had hit the "something" up ahead of him.
The "something" growled horribly and turned its gruesome head toward Link, he paled, realizing what it was.
It was a ReDead.
A ReDead was one of the most fearsome monsters known to man, with terrible, deformed faces, ugly, rotting gray skin and hunched shoulders. A mere wailing screech from one of these monsters was enough to paralyze any human, no matter how brave he or she may be.
The ReDead hissed at Link and took a couple of shuddering steps toward him, the monster swiped at him with one of its gross hands, Link dodged under and ran into the wide section. There were four paths to choose from in the wide section, two going to the left, two going to the right, Link swallowed hard and dove into the first left path. As he ran, he suddenly smacked into something squishy, he looked up, a ReDead was growling down at him.
"Ok! Wrong path!" Link yelled, running away from the second ReDead and heading down the second right path. Luckily, there were no ReDeads down this path, dirty water dripped down the walls as Link sprinted down the corridor. The water quickly began to grow deeper, and soon Link was wading through knee-deep brown muck.
"Yuck!" Link moaned, sloshing onward.
He sighed in relief as the water got lower until it was but a shallow floor covering. Link looked around nervously, there was only one path to go down this time. It smelled of clean air, a welcome change.
This path went on for about fifty meters, a golden light shining at the end of the tunnel, there was a strange, rhythmic whirring sound filled Link's ears as he walked into the light. He was standing on a ledge inside the Windmill in Kakariko Village, a strange little man was sitting on a stool below Link, playing a strange instrument, he jolted as Link leapt down next to him with a thud.
"Whoa! Watch it there, buddy! You'll give a person a heart attack!" he strange little man griped. "Who are you, anyway?"
"Uh, no time, gotta go!" Link said hurriedly, running toward the door, flinging it open and rushing into the sunlit plaza of the village.
"Where do you think you're going?" A grizzly voice said, Link was grabbed by the back of his tunic. Squirming around, he saw that one of the soldiers from before was holding onto him.
"Hey! Let go!" Link yelled, thrusting his right foot into the soldier's stomach and breaking free. But just as he sprinted toward the village gates, someone else clobbered him in the chest. Link fell back, gasping as he hit the ground. A woman with stark white hair was standing beside him, staring down at with harsh black eyes. She tweaked his nose with the tip of her short sword.
"I've found you." She said, leaning down to examine him.
"Found me?" Link groaned, looking angrily up at her.
"I've been looking for you for days! Apparently no one in this village has the same story about where the notorious thief Link resides." She growled, smiling a toothy grin.
"What? Have you come to arrest me? You don't scare me, I'm not afraid too die."
The woman leaned in so close, her nose nearly touched his. He growled when she smirked at his face.
"That's not why I'm here."
"Then why are you here? Bothering me?"
The woman grabbed Link by the collar, lifted him with ease and carried him over to a pond near the entrance to the village,
"Hey! What're you doing?" Link protested, squirming in her grip.
"Against my advice, Her Royal Highness, Princess Zelda, has selected you. You'll have an audience with her tomorrow, meanwhile, you need a bath." And with that, the woman tossed Link into the pond.
"I don't take baths!" Link yelled, surfacing with a lily pad on top of his head.
"Now you do." And in one swift movement, the woman leapt aboard an enormous white horse that had been grazing nearby and galloped out of the village with the two soldiers following closely behind.
I hate baths! Link thought, he stared at the murky water as it started to bubble, a bar of yellowish soap surfaced and floated next to him. He begrudgingly swept the bar out of the water and began to scrub behind his ears…