Link had never been much of a fan of crowds.
Despite living in Castle Town for a good seven years now, he couldn't shake the uneasy weight in his chest or the way his sword hand's fingers would twitch whenever someone brushed against him or came too close. He'd never outright assaulted someone before, but the fear that a sudden movement would set him off never dimmed.
The market place was usually full of chatter and people; today, however, was different. It amazed him that even with the impending threat of war so many had shown up for the festival. Link had secretly been hoping that everyone would just stay home and not bother with it at all, but, much to his chagrin, the turnout was probably greater than it had been in years. It seemed like everyone would rather forget than prepare themselves for the inevitable.
Link didn't fault them for it, though. As nerve-wracking as the sheer number of people was to him, he could understand their desire to just have fun for what could be the last time in a while.
He glanced down in irritation at the dark red stain on his shirt from where a drunk man had fallen over and spilled his wine. Just because he understood, didn't mean he had to like it.
His job wasn't currently easing his spirits any either.
Link stood up on his toes, wondering (not for the first time) why the goddesses had made him so short as he futilely tried to peer over the bustling crowds. It was no use, though, and, muttering profanities under his breath, Link had to shove his way through a couple of middle-aged women with backsides large enough to crush a Goron. Looking around frantically, there was still no sign of his charge.
"I'm going to be beheaded for sure." He sighed helplessly, running a hand through his hair.
From the booths on either side of the street, peddlers called out holding up (likely fake) rarities from all across Hyrule for the hungry onlookers, and Link looked from face to face, wondering if any of it had caught the impossible girl's eye. She was nowhere to be found, of course, and horribly anxiety inducing situation seemed to only get worse and worse. Link wondered briefly how long it would take before he snapped and fired off the the gun at his side into the air just to make it quiet enough for him to think.
That would probably get him put in a cell for the rest of his days, but as the minutes ticked by still without a sign of her, Link was starting to care less and less about the consequences of any of his actions.
He reached the center of the city, finally breaking free of the crowds only to be nearly run over by a stage coach.
"Watch it now! Damn bloke, thought they told you drunks to stay in the bars!" the coachman shouted, trying to regain control of the rearing horse.
"Sorry!" Link shouted, raising up his hands as he narrowly avoiding another run in with oncoming traffic.
After a couple more near-death experiences in cobblestone street, Link managed to make it to the fountain in the center of the round about. There were a couple more stands set up around it, and a small group of transient Gerudo women were performing on strange looking instrustruments. The tune was lively, a there were plenty of men (snockered, if their moves were anything to go by), women, and children dancing along with the foreigners. It was a welcomed sight, considering how apprehensive people had been toward non-natives as of late.
In the center of the bunch was, of course, the elusive crown princess, Zelda. In true Zelda fashion, her bonnet, fan, gloves, and shoes had gone mysteriously missing, and her golden hair was loose, flying about as she moved with the two children about half her height, their hands in hers.
If anyone from the court could see her, jumping about barefoot with grubby Gerudo children, they'd have probably dropped dead from shock. Honestly, Link would've been disappointed if he'd found her doing anything remotely dignified or befitting a royal.
Her bright blue eyes met his, the bright grin on her face widening even more, and, suddenly, the hour spent tracking her down through hordes of people and noise didn't matter. The sheer amount of joy the young woman emanated was infectious.
"What have you done with your clothes?" he yelled, barely avoiding getting knocked down by a stumbling man.
"You mean my bonnet and gloves?" Zelda asked, spinning one of the girls hanging on her arms around.
"We're watching them sir!" One of the red-headed children giggled, holding up her hands to show him the white, lacy, grossly over-sized gloves on her fingers. The other one was wearing Zelda's blue and silver silk bonnet with white flowers under the brim, the accessory looking equally as out of place on her.
"See, not an issue!" Zelda laughed, the pale blues of her large skirt waving about as she turned with the little girls once again.
"And what of your shoes and fan, then?" he asked, crossing his arms and raising an eyebrow at her.
He smirked as she paused, frowning slightly. "I'm not entirely sure, actually. Perhaps they were stolen." this sombering moment was infinitesimally short, however, as she smiled again, shrugging her shoulders. "Oh well, it's not the end of the world."
"But the ceremony is in ten minutes!" Link urged, doing his best to keep up with the trio as they continued along.
Link didn't have even a moment more to protest, as a large, loud woman linked arms with him, dragging the much smaller boy off, and Zelda was traded off with another man.
He couldn't barely get a word in, the lady laughed so much, and she was surprisingly strong. She practically swung him around; Link's feet barely touched the ground at all.
He noticed then, out of the corner of his eye, the missing pair of high heeled slippers on the feet of another young Gerudo. Luckily, the lady finally released him long enough for Link to slip away.
"Hey!" he called out, trying to keep his voice steady and failing miserably. "I need those shoes!"
The Gerudo girl slowly pointed at herself, a bewildered look on her face.
"Yes!" He nodded, gasping for breath as he stumbled toward her. "You! I'm really in a hurry, if you don't mind-"
"One thing then, mister!" she interrupted, a smile on her face. She had the upper hand in this situation and clearly knew it. "You can't get something for nothing, you know."
"Alright!" he sighed in exasperation. "What is it then?"
"A kiss!" the child exclaimed, laughing at the defeated expression on his face.
He wondered, briefly, how someone so young could be such a pervert, but didn't dwell on it. "Fine then, ya little monster, but nothing else, got it?"
"Clear as crystal sir!" she laughed.
Quickly, he pecked her on the forehead, causing the child to pout ridiculously. "That was rubbish!"
"We had a deal." He reminded her, looking down at the child crossly.
"Fine then. Be glad I'm feeling generous today!" she huffed, slipping off the shoes and handing them over to him.
He sighed in relief, turning around only to be immediately grabbed by the arm again. Already on edge, Link jumped slightly, causing his new dance partner to laugh at him. Thankfully, it was a voice he recognized.
"You certainly are a mess today! To think, my valiant protector frightened by me, of all people." Zelda teased.
Link locked hands with her, playing along for the moment as they moved with the crowd of people. "It is a bit difficult to guard you when you run off the instant we step outside!"
"I have to keep you on your toes! A knight needs his exercise, don't you think?" Zelda countered, glancing at the slippers dangling from the forefinger and thumb of his left hand. "You found them! Always the hero; I expected nothing less!"
"'Hero'? Errand boy is more like it!" he replied, spinning her around with his free arm.
"You say potato... " she murmured mischievously, a cunning smile donning her features.
"We really do need to get going, your Highness." Link reminded her.
"Yes Nanny!" Zelda leered, rolling her eyes in a very un-princess-like manner. "Just a moment then!"
Zelda whirled around again, calling out to the girls from before. Link had to grab her by the elbow to keep her from running after them when they laughed and dodged her attempts to reclaim her bonnet and gloves, wordlessly volunteering to retrieve them for her. Bonnet, gloves, and slippers in hand, he returned to his lady's side, feeling like he was about to collapse from exhaustion.
"We're never going to get our hands on that fan again, are we?" Zelda tutted, her hands on her hips. "It's a pity really. I was rather fond of it."
"You might've considered that earlier, my lady." Link grumbled, helping her back into her shoes.
"What can I say? The music called me, and I was helpless to resist its pull." Zelda sighed dramatically, clutching her gloves to her breast. "Besides, it's not often I have a chance to really dance. I swear, the music they play at the palace always has the tempo of a funeral march. Why is it that class has to be so droll?"
"That's not really my area of expertise, ma'am." Link laughed, shaking his head.
"The moment I am coronated," Zelda declared, pinning up her hair back again and fastening her bonnet with a practiced ease Link could never dream of being able to replicate. "The court composer is to be exiled."
"Isn't that a bit extreme?" he asked, taking her arm as they (slowly, this time, minding the traffic) crossed the street.
"Well," Zelda said with a light shrug. "Someone has to set a principle for future generations. It's far less brutal than having him strung up outside the castle walls."
Link chuckled. He had no more shock left after years of handling Zelda's eccentric and slightly morbid attitude. "People have been executed for less, I suppose."
Zelda scowled as her feet wobbled on the uneven stones of the street. "I wish these shoes had been stolen! Atrocious things, really!"
"Why did you buy them, then?"
"Because Lady Eanora told me to! Said it was the height of fashion, that dim wit. Next time, I'll tell her wearing a bass as a headdress is the 'height of fashion'!" Zelda grumbled.
"I'm sure she would, if you said it." Link agreed, pausing to let a pair of Goron merchants pass by.
"I'm next in line for the throne," Zelda said haughtily. "I'll have the entire court wearing bass by the next ball, if I want to."
"Great use of power, Highness." Link snorted.
Zelda laughed, shaking her head. "I can't believe it sometimes. Am I really that old?"
"Twenty is hardly old, ma'am." Link chided, turning the corner with her.
"For a man it's not. I may as well be a spinster!" Zelda sighed. "I swear, every day now I'm having more suitors shoved in my face. Makes me wonder sometimes if Elena would rather be queen."
"She's barely fifteen!" Link scoffed. "Besides, no matter which of those uptight haliwr's they tie you down to, I'm sure there's no one more suited to the job."
"Watch your language," Zelda leered, bypassing another peddler. "It's a shame, really. This may be the last time I'm able to just go out and have fun. It's hard enough getting away from the palace as it is; I can't imagine what it'll be like once I'm queen."
"Don't lose your head over it ma'am," Link said sternly. "You know I'll still be there, whatever it is you need of me."
"Oh, I know that much." Zelda laughed. "Makes me wonder what it would take to ever be rid of you."
Link smiled, but it did not reach his eyes. Hard times were coming, that much was certain. He could only pray that the King's health, which had been poor of late, would hold him through the war, should it spread to Hyrule. A power shift would be devastating in such dire times.
Just then, a loud commotion broke out a few feet away from them.
"Theif!" a large man shouted, grasping a small figure in a dark cloak by the arm.
"What's going on here?" Zelda demanded, marching toward the shop stand. All emotion left her face, the guise of command taking hold.
"This Twili bitch was trying to magic me wares away! Saw it with me own two eyes, I did!" he insisted, his grip on the girl's pale wrist tightening.
"Let me go, you idiot!" the twili girl snapped in a thick accent, twisting in his grip. "I wasn't trying to take anything!"
"What's missing?" Zelda asked, her tone even, though her eyes twitched slightly with impatience.
"Well," he said sheepishly. "She didna take nothin', but I saw her casting a spell, treacherous snake! Those Twili could magic away the clothes on a man's back if he weren't careful, I've heard."
The Twili girl scoffed. "Blyad! I hope your damn shop gets struck by lightening!"
"She's laying a curse on me now!" he gasped in fright, nearly letting her go in his terror.
"If you don't let me go," she snapped. "I'll put a curse on you and all of your heirs to come, suka, blyad!"
The shopkeeper yelped in fear, releasing the twili's hand as if it were burning, and in an instant she ran off.
Link moved to follow her, but Zelda laid a hand on his arm, causing him to still. "Don't bother. I doubt she's any real threat."
Zelda turned to the man, her expression stern. "And you there, learn not to overreact so! It's a new century, get with the times!"
"Who are you to tell me what to think?"
"Your princess, if you'd like to know." Zelda snapped, somehow towering over him despite the fact that she was a good few inches smaller than he. "I'd suggest you put it to memory."
She joined arms with Link again, relaxing as they walked away, rolling her eyes. "You'd think this was the dark ages, the way people act."
Link shrugged. "The Twili are about as different from Hylians as they come. It's only natural that there be some apprehension toward them."
"Apprehension, yes, but treating them like a race of witches? With the advancements in magic, as well, people should be more accustomed to it in general. Most of the items they use every day were made using some kind of spell, even that man's clothes! It's ridiculous, really." Zelda growled.
"And you wouldn't call yourself a bit biased, being a magical prodigy and all?" Link chuckled.
"Perhaps a little." she admitted ruefully. "I'm still surprised that Father has barely addressed the Twili at all. It's been six years now."
Thousands of Twili had fled into the Light Realm after the coup in their world years ago, all of them supporters of the now fallen regime. If Hyrule had not taken the refugees in, they would've been slaughtered, in all likelihood, but since then little to no legislation regarding them had passed. Particularly now, as their kingdom stood at risk of going to war with the Twilight Realm, the refugees were less than welcome, and often they were targeted by angry Hylians tired of the over-crowding and the now highly saturated job market. Add in an extra layer of superstition and racism, and the future for these refugees looked bleak indeed.
"There'll be no avoiding it for much longer." Link said, his eyes narrowing. "I get the feeling that everything will be coming to a head very soon, ma'am."
"That's what I'm afraid of." Zelda muttered.
They arrived at the front courtyard of the castle at last, the crowds of people pushing them along like a stream. They were very late of course, and in a moment a tall, middle aged man in a dark green dress uniform that matched Link's had the boy by the arm and was dragging both of them off.
Zelda left the pair to stand beside her father and sisters at the base of the palace's front steps, while Link and the other man stood off to the side with the royal guard.
"You shaved." Link commented under his breath.
"You didn't." Rusl growled in exasperation. "And what did I say about that earring?"
"Oh," Link said, hastily pulling the blue hoop out of his ear and placing it in the front pocket of his coat. "I forgot."
"Of course you did." Rusl chuckled, shaking his head as he straightened his spine. "You do have your sword, at least, right?"
"Of course." Link mimicked.
"I wouldn't be surprised if you forgot the princess, the way you are." Rusl sighed, closing his eyes. "And don't think I didn't notice the wine stain on your shirt. Your mother is going to kill you."
"This whole festival's cach." Link whispered as the crowd was silenced.
"Don't let 'you know who' hear you say that." Rusl replied as the very man in question cleared his throat to speak.
Chancellor Cole was a balding man, shorter even than Link, and he had a very shrill, irritating voice. He had been one of the most insistent that the festival had to be put on in order to 'remind the citizens that all is under control'. All the military advisors had strongly spoke against it, trying to keep the focus on making Hyrule as ready for this war as it could be, but, surprisingly, the king had adamantly agreed with the Chancellor.
"People of our proud nation of Hyrule, I thank you all on behalf of your king, the illustrious Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule, for attending our annual Midsummer Festival! This, truly, demonstrates the undying patriotism of our noble people, even in times of hardship!"
'Kill me', Link silently mouthed to Rusl. The older man glared at him, but Link could see the smile in his eyes.
"Now, it is my honor to present to you, your king, Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule!"
The king, dressed in his bright red robes, opened his mouth to speak, but what came out made very little sense at all. At first, he seemed to on track, thanking everyone for coming as the Chancellor had, but he paused mid sentence, as if having forgotten what he was going to say.
When he started again the king began to go on about trade with the Zora, of all things. It sounded almost like it was a part of a different speech entirely, and he'd gotten confused on which one he was currently giving.
Zelda looked at him, her eyebrows furrowed in concern. She moved to touch his arm, but the king suddenly stopped speaking altogether.
He grasped at his throat, his wispy breath coming out in short, choked bursts, saliva beginning to drip from his gaping mouth. In an instant, he had fallen to his knees, his frantic daughters kneeling beside him, and Zelda was shaking his shoulder in desperation.
Everyone began to move at once, thousands surged forward to see what had happened to the king, held back only by the confused castle guards. If the crowds from before had set him off, this chaos instantly drove Link into a silent frenzy.
As he was pushed and shoved aside, he could feel the energy racing just under his skin, his bones beginning to shift and move ever so slightly.
A hand came down firmly on his shoulder, and Link jumped, looking wildly up at Rusl. The look on the man's face was stern, but understanding. Link's heart rate began to slow, and he felt his body fit itself back into place again.
They needed to stay calm, no matter what happened. This was no time to panic.
The king was rushed to the castle's private infirmary, but by the time he arrived the man was already gone. At 7:30 PM, Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule was declared dead from cardiac arrest. The cause: cyanide poisoning.
A/N: Okay then, new story! I know however few of you that have read my other story, Diprosopus, are probably pissed that I'm not updating it, but I'm sorry to say that one may be left sitting for a while. I have some major retooling to do on it still, and I feel like I need to get away from it. It's super depressing and after like, six-seven months straight of working on it, it's really stagnated for me. I want to come back to it with a fresh mind, if you will.
On this, I'm surprised that I haven't seen anyone else do a Zelda story in the Victorian Era yet. Yeah, I've seen many AU's in modern day, but never the turn of the century, which really is a waist when you think about it. I only hope that I'll be able to properly display the time period (though there are going to be some twists on it, of course, this being Zelda-verse).
For future reference, I want to establish that since this is basically Victorian England (but Hyrule), people have (gasp) accents and dialects. I'm not going to write in accent, mostly, because I know that can be really irritating to have to read (Wut do ya men? Ya' hafta type in all tha' oddly pronounced words, s'only right!) . Here's your general rule of thumb for that.
Hylians- English, varies of course based on level of education.
Ordana Province- Welsh
Link- He's a weirdo. I'm not going to explain it entirely right this second, but he's not native to Hyrule, and he also lived in Ordana with Rusl for some time. His dialect is mostly Welsh, though it is toned down from living among Hylians (he cusses in Welsh all the time though, namely because no one understands what he's saying, safe for Zelda, who's known him long enough to pick up on most of it). He has a smidgen of Eastern European in there as well, though it's very faint and hard to detect.
Please, Welsh/Russian speaking people out there, forgive me if I screw up, I'm just a Latin nerd. Feel free to correct me on anything. I'm not pretending I know the first thing about either one of these languages, so any help would be great!
Not sure what to do for the Zora, Kokiri, or Gorons. Could have the Kokiri speak actual Old English (no, not Shakespeare), but that would really be a pain to figure out (though it would kinda make sense, with them being immortal and old and everything). Any suggestions would be much appreciated!
Haliwr- wanker, one who wanks (masturbates)
Blyad- F*ck!, when you just say it after accidentally breaking a plate or something like that, or when you're saying it at someone, whore.
Suka- B*tch, though it refers usually to a female in English, it's a unisex term.
Suka, Blyad- (as far as I can tell) mother f*cker.
This is going to be an educational story, if nothing else.
And now we know why Link never gets to talk in the games!
Disclaimer: I don't own the Zelda franchise. I mean, if I did, then why not just make a video game set in the Victorian Era? Sense, do you speak it, suka blyad?!