The Legend of Zelda: The Warrior Prince
Epilogue: One Day, One Dream
The pine door creaks open and a Hylian attendant with a stack of white cloths and bowl of elixir steps gingerly into the room. Lying on the bed rests warrior prince Raidon, sheets drawn up to his waist. Bandages holding bloody gauze wrap around his stomach, more in a stiff wrapping hold his right shoulder still, magic burns still poking out from under some of the bandages on his arm. More bandaging wraps over his head, covering extensive magic burns on his face and holding a piece of medicated gauze over his right eye.
At the sound of the door, he turns to look at the attendant. He sighs and is about to turn away when he spots another person hobbling in on a set of crutches. "Link!"
"Raidon! I'm surprised to see you're not up and about against doctor's orders," the knight jibes.
The corner of the Dunlarian's mouth quirks up for a moment, but then returns to a thin line. "At least you're ambulatory," he gestures at Link's crutches. "Not like I'd be caught dead leaning on a pair of sticks, even if I wasn't covered in too many magic burns to try."
Link smirks good-naturedly. "Hey, I dove out of the way when Agahnim shot a dark ball of plasma at me, I wasn't the 'brave one' who stood there and took it." The smile lessens a little and the boy avoids looking at the wrappings over Raidon's head, particularly that covering his right eye. "So, how's . . . um . . ."
"Just say it, Link. My eye." The prince states flatly, clearly not in the mood to be dancing around the topic. "It might get back to looking normal some day but I'll never be able to see out of it again." The prince tries to lever himself up, but the woman trying to attend to him pushes him back down and he sighs, feeling too weary to argue again. His eyes flick back to the boy standing nearby. "How's Zelda?"
"She's . . . good. C'mon, she's the one with light magic, she took the fewest injuries of the three of us and you know it." He smiles, but worry and not mirth shines in his eyes. "She's been asking about you as much as you've been asking about her. By now I'd think that you two'd be smart enough to figure out the other one's gonna be fine."
The attendant begins unwrapping the bandages around Raidon's head, exposing magic burns that have blackened the prince's skin, right eye still swollen shut. Link grits his teeth in sympathetic pain as she starts replacing the bandaging, those closest to his skin yellowed. The two young men wait until she finishes and begins packing up to depart before they even look at each other again.
The door closes and Raidon states only slightly tersely, "What is it, Link? You had that look in your eye like something's afoot since you came in, and I know you're not stupid enough to stand there feeling pitying."
Link removes his cap and feels the folds of cloth in his fingers for a moment, giving the simple wool undue attention as he leans on his crutches. Finally, he answers. "A letter came for you from Koyu. It's . . . he wanted you to come to Dunlar City."
The knight hobbles over to a stool next to the bed and eases himself down, setting the crutches against the wall. He notes an ink bottle and recently used quill on the small table next to the bed. Raidon notes the examination and asks, "When did you first meet Zelda?"
"Actually? The day I rescued her from Agahnim on that rainy night two months ago." He cuts off and the prince levels a surprisingly piercing gaze for one eye, and the knight knows he's not asking for the date.
The knight tries to look relaxed leaning away on the stool and only manages to look awkward. "I heard her call for help from within the dungeons," he says as he taps at his temple to indicate that Zelda called out telepathically. He lowers his arm slowly and hesitantly continues. "When I found her, I was transfixed. She was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. She was just sitting there waiting for her execution – so she thought – and I could see that she'd started to lose hope, that letter she had was crumpled and worried."
"So she was calling for a savior and waiting for me, but then you showed up."
Link leans back and crosses his arms, a little awkwardly with his left arm in a cast. "Raidon, I . . . what are you saying? I'm a knight. She's some uppity princess." A heartbeat of silence passes and a sly look like a cat with its prey cornered slips into the young Hylian's expression. "Are you getting cold feet?"
The warrior prince doesn't seem to respond, his eye stares blankly at the wall. A few moments pass before he whispers, "I'm afraid."
Link bodily jerks in a double-take, but manages to catch his tongue and wait for Raidon to speak again. "Everyone who gets close to me dies. My mother died giving birth to me . . . Jenhan was butchered by the Gerudo . . . my father died and he never even approved of me . . . Dimitri died in combat against the wyvern . . ."
"Hey," Link sternly snaps. "Everything that happened . . . all of those things happened because of outside agitatants. And it all traces back to Ganon and the Triforce. We've destroyed both for good. You personally finished off Ganon, and Agahnim dragged the Golden Power into the afterlife, just like he wanted." Strange way to save the world.
Raidon opens his mouth and the Hylian interrupts, "And no more excuses. So, the doctors say a couple weeks before you've recovered enough to travel, right? I assume this means we head out to the Green City in . . . one week?" He asks with a smile. The prince draws in a long breath, then grins back.
The sparkles of a teleport fall away from the young men, the princess having stayed in Hyrule for an audience with the King. The normally cheery and bustling Green City seems deserted, with the sounds of people moving in the distance but almost nobody in the immediate area. Raidon nods at the road west, heading up to the Imperial Palace. "C'mon, let's go see what Koyu wanted."
The two rush up the progressively steeper streets towards the palace, its sharp green spires rising up from within the dark granite rock of the valley's slopes as it rises up into the Kai Mountains. Up a road north, they near a set of fortified gates separating the lower city from the royal quarter, and the thunder of crowds beyond meets their ears. Soldiers are teeming across the gate, the nearest snap to the ready as soon as they spot the two fighters approach.
Raw noise from the crowd on the other side of the fortified gate blasts through, but Raidon's focus is on the soldiers blocking their path. "What the hell is this?"
"My lord, please forgive us, but he is an outsider," the nearest soldier points at Link in his green, diamond scale-mail. "He is a knight of the Hylian—"
"Have you forgotten what he did for us in the battle of Fort Turma?!" Raidon bellows, his voice momentarily overpowering the roar of the crowd on the other side and making the nearby soldiers cower. A beat passes, and the prince spins on his heel to look at his friend. "Link," he calls simply.
The knight paces forward and stops next to his Dunlarian companion, obviously perplexed. "Um . . . yes?"
"Kneel," the warrior prince states as he draws a mithril leaf-blade with a long shink.
Confusion growing, a bead of sweat starts to collect on the knight's temple, though he obeys. "Raidon?"
"This Hylian, with nothing at stake for himself, came with us and fought alongside the legions of Dunlar." The prince's gaze turns darker and he states in a deeper tone, drawing the ear of everybody nearby, "We fought side by side in battle, and by the shedding of blood together he became my brother."
Raidon straightens and takes on an eerie calm as he stretches out his right hand, sword glistening in the sun. "And so, by my power as a prince of the imperial throne, I knight you: Sir Link the Wyvern Slayer."
There is a brief lull from the crowd on the other side of the gate, allowing mixed reactions from the Dunlarian soldiers, from gaping awe to jubilant applause. The young Dunlarian touches the flat of the tip of his blade to each shoulder on the knight, then sheathes his blade. Link rises, a smile faintly smirking on his face as he gazes back at the more obvious smirk on Raidon's. Both turn back and the small mass of soldiers shuffle, most opening the way for the two but others allowing one from the back to step forward.
The brief cheering fades as the soldiers bow to one knee to the approaching prince and newly dubbed knight, and finally the entrant who had been silently watching from the back steps forward.
Captain Koyu of the Dunlarian Royal Guard steps forward and bows to his prince. "My lord," he states, trying not to look at the deathly shade of pale of the skin burned by dark magic, not yet given time to fully regenerate. "Things have not been well since you have been away."
"Even though I have slain the dark lord and scattered his armies?" The prince is obviously in no mood to play games.
"Warrior Prince, the empire was on its last legs when we began the war against the Gerudo. The secession of the Morhadrin and Rastans would have happened even without the invasion of king Dragmi . . . Ganon's army. The Zorhadrim have cited the lack of a royal marriage to bind them and sealed off their domain. The Kai dwarves are demanding more aid than we can supply, the elf lords are beginning to order the local militias like before the unification, and even the Gorgonites are asking to be allowed to return to solitude in the desert."
Thunder rumbles from the distance, a low and ominous sound rolling over the nearer sounds of the riotous crowd on the other side of the gate. The prince looks unsteady on his feet, but the royal captain continues heedless, "We've tried deploying soldiers, but there are revolts everywhere and non-elves are disobeying orders and deserting in droves." He gestures behind him to the steel bars of the gate and the crowd beyond. "Riots have overrun the security in the market square, carrying banners that there is no emperor. I . . ."
The captain of the royal guard trails off and Raidon turns his focus to the people beyond the gate and really hears them, the angry chanting. "No king!" and "Death back to the throne!" The chanting seems to freeze the air and it feels like the world is spinning around the Dunlarian teen. He doesn't even feel it when Link subtly walks up next to him and strongly grips his arm to keep him steady.
Captain Koyu's volume drops as he whispers plaintively, "I'm sorry, sir, I just couldn't send word of this in a letter. The empire has collapsed."
Raidon opens his mouth, but can't find anything to say as lightning flashes through the sky above. He shifts his foot as if to take a step and suddenly starts to fall, caught by Link's strong grip as the crowd's chanting continues, almost cruelly hurling epithets at the prince just out of their view. The fighters stand there silently for a few minutes, then the skies rumble and all seems to quiet.
Everybody, trailed by Link and Raidon, look up into the shifting skies, and an instant later the virtual blankets of water come falling down, drowning out the dying roar of the scattering riot, many of its members so young they have never seen rain in their life. The knight looks beside him at his unflinching friend and stares for a moment, trying to decide of those trails running down his face are just the rain . . . or tears.
A sharp knock at the door wakes Raidon, and the young Dunlarian jerks awake in the late morning sun. His right eye blinks, solid white but still reflexively squinting in the sunlight that falls across his face. He reaches to the eye patch and puts it on before Link barges in.
"What happened to the early riser that I used to know? C'mon, get a move on! Get up!" Raidon lies back down and turns away, and Link throws his hands upwards in a why me? gesture. A sigh later, he decides, Fine, I'm getting straight to the message, as he walks to a dresser holding a couple tunics and draws a formal Dunlarian tunic. "No more lounging, I know you and you're plenty healed up enough to be out and about. The King wants to speak with you."
Raidon dutifully rises, and soon later follows the knight to the throne room. The yawning, gold-gilded double doors loom ahead of him and the prince swallows hard, trying to keep from sweating. He knows that King Hyrule waits beyond, but he looks like a man waiting for his execution. There is a boom through the heavy pine doors and they slowly swing open.
The young Dunlarian straightens and hopes the façade looks straight, and strides in. The Hylian king sits upon a throne not as grand as the Imperial Throne in Dunlar, but there is something more true about it's slightly more humble yet even more ancient appearance that radiates power. King Hyrule sits tall and proud in the seat, decked in damasked white and red silk trimmed with gold thread.
Raidon bows to one knee and lowers his head, apparently decorous, though those who know him might see the subtle indications that he felt out of energy. "Yes, my lord?"
"This past month has been one of great turmoil and upheaval. Twice my nation was invaded by the ancient, fallen king named Ganondorf, and he has been vanquished. We have seen the fall of the House of Agahnim, the end of the Gerudo; the simultaneous renewal of the non-aggression pact between the Hylians, Zora, Gorons. For the first time in history the Gorons and dwarves are negotiating peace. The Kokiri are even volunteering to train new numbers of our soldiers."
The king stops, and after a space for a long breath, the Dunlarian decides that he is invited to speak, yet he finds he cannot hold in a tint of bitterness in his tone. "Your nation is always in spring, but mine now sees the close of autumn. Ganon brought his full force against us, and my people are broken. For over a hundred years we starved in drought, but the rain came too late. The Zorhadrim have cast us off, the Morhadrim and Rastans betrayed us and smolder in ruin, the dwarves bleed us and the Gorgonites turn their backs on us."
Raidon chokes and stops, trying to catch his breathing and gain some control back from his spiraling anger and indignity at the card fate dealt him. "For all our mithril, the foundries are worthless now. My . . . King Hyrule, I have nothing to offer you. No empire, no throne." His shoulders now take a visible droop, and a new voice rings out.
"It's a good thing I can't be bought with those things, then, isn't it?" Zelda states with a smile as she steps out from behind the grand throne. Link leans against the throne room doors with a grin and the Dunlarian's gaze snaps up as she slowly steps towards him, her white cotton dress almost radiating in the morning light.
She tries to shake her head in mock derision, but the smile only grows and the gesture is ruined before it starts. "Raidon, we've been spending a lot of time getting to know each other. When you're not too busy trying to keep up a strong façade you're thoughtful and sweet. You're always working so hard for other people, always caring other people . . ." She trails off as she nears him and reaches out a hand. "You need someone to care for you."
She takes in a breath before she asks, "Will you let me be that person to care?" He continues to look down, leaving her outstretched hand in the air. She hesitates, now wavering.
Raidon reaches out and takes her hand in his . . .
As the royal couple share their first kiss, the hall erupts with sounds of jubilation, from relieved laughter to cheering to tears of joy. Drums burst, showering everything with bright confetti as the Royal Knights stand by the altar in all their noble glory. Sir Link, standing at the point of honor closest to the two and the altar, chuckles and smirks as prince and princess step back.
Zelda shoots a questioning look at her knight and Raidon follows, a beat later asking, "What's so funny? I've just been married, what are you going to do?"
Link looks deeply contemplative and makes a good show of not smiling for three good seconds before he cracks a grin and replies cheekily, "Ohh, I dunno. Maybe go out for an adventure." He leans closer conspiratorially, quite aware that he's only drawing attention doing so before he whispers, "I'm not the one stuck with the girl."
Zelda gasps and a beat later grabs the nearest quarterstaff before she goes tearing off after the sniggering knight, and all the while Raidon stands there trying not to double over with laughter.
This story was truly an adventure to write, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. The theme of altruism can be hard to portray without overdoing the characters, and it was an interesting challenge to myself to portray a class struggle not as the common Western view of breaking down barriers for "freedom and good", but recognition for social institutions that worked and existed in order to serve and protect the people. Oh, yeah, and the triumph of friendship and love over adversity and division. One day maybe I'll experience those things first-hand.
This novella (or would it be a full fan novel?) was in the works for a very long time and had innumerable changes. There were a lot more dungeons I was planning on visiting (such as the "Kwanis Maelstrom", which is visited briefly in chapter 23: A Deep and Ancient Evil), a few more events of Raidon "discovering" Hyrule, and quite a few more of the Hylians discovering Dunlar. The first outline also kept Raidon much more at arm's length with the other characters and ended with his death after finding out about the collapse of his homeland, which initially took place before their final confrontation with Ganon; but the characters took on a life of their own and Raidon wouldn't let me keep him down.
A great big thanks to all those of you who reviewed, you truly did keep me driving forward and this story is dedicated to you:
Rae Tarules, Ri2, Lancet Mage, FanFictionFantom, BondisBest, Avalon Estel, fluffernutter, Sir Miles, Kinda-Mayvelle, Tanimax, parading-graveyard, myeerah, Altum, DragonRaiderX9.
For more works written by me, I have original fiction posted on my account at FictionPress(dot)com. God bless and keep reading!