AT LONG LAST Only in Hyrule has come to your screens. This is due to the fortunate fact that I finished up to 17 chapters on a total of 27, and therefore the story is more than half complete.
This story originated on my flight back from France last summer, and has been in intensive progress for the most part of the past two months. It is also going to be my longest work to date, as well as the most up-to-date in terms of spelling and grammar (which, I'd like to remind you, means I used a Canadian dictionary). The current written chapters include names of over 50 Legend of Zelda characters from games spanning the whole series (excluding Twilight Princess, for obvious reasons), and the final version will hold roughly 75 instances in which characters will at least have been referred to.
I'd like to thank Zelda Legends .Net for their Wiki encyclopedia. It unknowingly was my reference in terms of names and items.
NOTE: All characters in the following story have their basis in a Legend of Zelda game or other. This is an AU story, and though currently incomplete, it will WITHOUT any shadow of a doubt be completed (unless I die a horrible death).
Warning: None for the moment.
Only in Hyrule
"Two cappuccinos, one espresso and a bagel, for table four," Malon says to me as we brush past each other in the narrow kitchen. Fluidly, she hands me a tray of said coffees and I smile briefly, pushing the kitchen door open and walking to table four. The solely male occupants ―truckers, I presume— of the table leer at me. I know it's because of the unusually short skirt I'm wearing, which I borrowed from Ruto because the local Laundromat got vandalized and they haven't let anyone in to do their laundry for the past week.
It's like they're taking us hostage with our dirty clothes. This is no way to live. I thought Hyrule was a civilized country. This dirty clothes business is a nasty wake-up call, if anything.
Sure, Lakeside, in the south of Hyrule, near Lake Hylia, isn't exactly what you'd call an internationalized city or anything. It's really more of a cemented, commercial, gritty and greasy little town on the side of the highway where the permanent inhabitants total three hundred and forty-two people. The majority of those who sleep in Lakeside just use our overabundant motels and cheap restaurants to rest before passing the border or before driving far north to Marcastle, Hyrule's capital.
"Hey, Blondie," one of the truckers jokes, "how much for a twenty blinks tip?"
His blatant hooker joke makes his two other friends roar with laughter. I flatly stare at them.
I hate being a waitress.
"With twenty blinks, sir," I say, wondering how much twenty rupees would do for me but wanting to quip back and prove I'm not a desperate whore, "you could probably afford a presentable shirt at the local Hi-Mart." I smile thinly. "I'm sorry, but you obviously need those rupees more than I do."
"Hey, don't get so snappy," the trucker's friends warn me angrily. I feel like showing him the definition of snappy, but I figure the subtlety of it would be lost on him.
"Tough customers," Malon sighs at me when I come back into the kitchen. It's a mystery how she can know everything and still fit in her own work. "Would you like me to—?"
"I'm fine," I mumble back. "It's just this damn skirt. You'd think Ruto would buy longer skirts. She has the longest legs."
Malon looks at me sympathetically. "Well, you just missed a fancy tip there. Would you like me to flirt those rupees back?"
Her grin belies her true thoughts. She's joking, of course. Malon's the sweetest girl, really. She's one of those delicate looking redheads with big blue country eyes and white freckled skin. Under the flowery exterior though is hidden a ferocious and loyal friend with a quick mind and a caring attitude, the kind who lends you her cute Calatian shirts for special occasions because you're too broke to buy your own.
Generosity is a Ranch trait, actually. Malon's dad, Talon Ranch, the bartender and owner of the local bar where Malon and I also work on weeknights, totally gave me money to finish my high school tuition when Mom died. He didn't have to, but he fished the sum out of his own pocket without blinking and gave it to the school Malon and I attended, for me. He also helped me get hired at the café here.
I made enough money to scrape and pay for a cheap college to get a basic diploma, after which I started working to pay them back.
I don't know where I'd be without the Ranch family. Probably roaming the streets asking for clients, like those truckers suggested. Malon, Talon and even her grumpy Uncle Ingo acted kind of like a second family, since mine had either walked out long ago or passed away.
"That won't be necessary," I say, finally cracking a smile, which seems to satisfy her. "I'll just have my lawyer call them."
Malon rolls her eyes, smiling. "You mean the lawyer who's going to come sweep you off your feet one day and take you to live in his big town mansion?"
I pull a face at her. "Laugh all you want. But if I'm ever going to make Mom happy, I have to solve my financial issues. Marrying a sexy lawyer just seems like the best idea."
"Wait," Malon teases, "Where did the sexy part come in? You're being picky, aren't you?"
I shrug, but we both laugh lightly. In fact, I'm not so sure any lawyer will want to marry a waitress with a college diploma and clothes she's unable to clean. It's just one of those little wishes that Malon and I have fun inventing.
"Look," Malon says, glancing at her watch, "your shift is almost over. What do you say we meet up at the centre once I'm done and browse through the Outlet's overpriced sales? We have to see if they still have those flip-flops you like. And I saw this adorable pair of shorts the other day at Ponds." Never mind the fact that neither Malon nor I could afford anything from Ponds in this lifetime even if we put our ―admittedly unimpressive― life savings together. It's the kind of thing Ruto buys, because she's her daddy's little princess.
"Sure. But I'm heading home to change first," I say, looking down at my skirt. "I keep getting this feeling like people can see my underwear."
Malon grins teasingly. "Oh, come on, Zellie. The little beetles are cute."
I stare at her wide-eyed and try to pull my skirt's hem down. "Do they really show?"
Malon rolls her eyes and brushes her silky red hair aside. "Gimme a break. I know they're the ones you're wearing because we bought them yesterday and you haven't been able to get clean loos since the Laundromat crapped out. The skirt's short, but it looks good on you."
All things considered, I sometimes think that Malon is actively working at giving me a heart attack. But I never held a grudge against her. She's the best at worming herself out of grudges. With that innocent look and all. I wish I could do that.
"See you at four, then, Mal."
Waggling my fingers at her, I grab my purse and sign out. I don't own a car, and instead of waiting for the one bus to pick me up, I begin walking towards the mobile home park. Mom and I used to own a bungalow, but our heavy debts and her early death precipitated its sale. Since then I've been living with a girl named Anju whose gipsy parents were tired of hoarding their teen daughter along on their hippie tours and so bought her a mobile home. She and Mom had worked together in a nearby inn, until Mom died of cancer. Anju suffered a great deal from Mom's departure, so she changed jobs.
Anju's a gentle, big-hearted, air-headed girl with a pretty, simple face, short hair, and a tendency to be amazingly clumsy. Her cooking also has a founded reputation of being inedible. Still, she offered me a place to stay after Mom's death and helped to sort out my financial problems. She couldn't stand the idea of ten year-old me left out on the street to freeze to death.
Perhaps it hadn't occurred to Anju that the winters in the area were quite mild and that, in all likelihood, I wouldn't have been left homeless ―just sent to an orphanage. Since that wasn't an exciting prospect, it was just as well. In time, she helped me to get a minor's emancipation, just as she had obtained herself, then offered me to stay with her for good. I wasn't stupid enough to say no, of course.
Anju wanted someone to ensure she didn't leave the stove on or the bills unpaid. Her grandmother, an Alzheimer patient who spoke to her dead husband Tortus and who resided at Fishing Lake hospital also required some of her attention. Since the mobile home's door locks are unreliable, she likes having me there as much as possible when she isn't.
"Oh, Zelda," she greets peacefully in welcome when I step into the mobile home, shutting the door behind me. "Have a good day at work?" I shrug, offering a weak smile and a roll of the eyes. Anju looks sympathetic. "Well, tomorrow's another day."
I nod, like I always do, because that's Anju's key saying and there's nothing to add to it. Instead of complaining, I drop my bag near the door and slip out of my shoes.
Anju is working again. She works at home during the afternoons, designing new products. She runs a souvenir shop with quirky mugs and shirts promoting Hylian events. It's only once you look at what she makes that you realize Anju's funnier than she lets on.
Today, she's smiling to herself. That means her current idea satisfies her.
I look at what she's doing.
She's working on a black t-shirt design, I notice. Big, white, bold lettering says 'Only In Hyrule', and under the text, there's a picture of the National Cuckoo Gliding Competition, which was held last year in Gerudo Canyon, I believe. A sarcastic-looking cartoon cuckoo in the foreground is saying, in a speech bubble, 'Home-bred talent at its finest'.
I snicker, and Anju smiles broadly.
She says, "I wanted to poke fun at the current politics, but it's a design that may grow outdated before you know it. It's safer to laugh at the NCGC."
I approve her choice and notice the many newspaper clippings strewn about the tiny kitchen where she works. Amongst other headlines, I read, 'President Daphne Nohansen Dead In Car Crash' and 'Total Overthrow! The People Vote to Lose Democracy!' Another clip says, 'Hyrule's Royalty Party In High Rule'.
Anju notices my gaze. She says, "Only in Hyrule would people deliberately choose to return to monarchy." She sounds exasperated.
"I voted for them too," I say, smirking. "It sounded funny in the beginning. Though I'm starting to think it's all a wacko plot to take over the world."
Anju nods sagely. "Their regressive ways were expressed in a way that made people feel like a monarch would nurture them more."
"I wonder who they'll pick," I say, laughing. "Maybe Nabooru Spirit? That woman deserves to be a queen. She's the very epitome of royalty."
"It's true that where looks are concerned, Nabooru Spirit fits the part. But does she know how to rule? She is, after all, nothing more than an actress."
I shrug. "Well it's not like royalty actually works. They're just the figureheads. I'm sure they have people do all their work for them."
"Still," Anju comments, re-examining her 'Only in Hyrule' tee, "It'd be nice to have someone competent to replace Nohansen. Poor man. He died before his time."
I snort. I've never been very fond of Daphne Nohansen, somehow. There was no particular reason I didn't like him. I just didn't. Kind of like he'd personally insulted me, or something like that, in a past life, and that had left a black trace with me.
"Everyone dies before their time," I say, and head to my room to change. I know Anju looked up sadly. She knows what talk of death does to me. Well, you'd be touchy too if your Mom had died and left you only with her hopes for a better life.
Still, it's not like I cry in my bed much anymore. It hurts sometimes, though. There might be a time when I get over it, but until then, I prefer to make conversations about death as short as possible.
"I'm heading out to the centre to shop with Malon," I call to Anju as I struggle to slip out of the short skirt Ruto lent me. "Is there something you want me to bring back?"
"No," Anju says, dazedly, as is usually her fashion when she's busy thinking of something else.
I find somewhat clean jeans on my floor. Well. Mom used to say you ought to wear jeans until they stuck to the wall when they're thrown at it or when they started moving on their own accord. It was a nasty way of saying that jeans could be worn more than once. She always had those weird expressions.
I look around. My room isn't chaotic. It's just cramped, and all my dirty clothes, which I cannot wash, are piled in a heap in one of my corners. We don't have enough cupboard space to fit a laundry basket. Our mobile home is basically a singlewide. It's enough for two space-hungry women, but three would definitely be a crowd in here.
I distinctly hear someone knock at our door. The sound carries well into my room. I hear Anju shift and stand, and step towards the door. She's not a very nervous kind. She's more anxious when she messes up a chocolate cake than when someone unexpected knocks at our door.
The owner of the trailer park where we live, Mr. Gorman, keeps telling us that we ought to put in a door chain. Neither Anju nor I listen to him, because the last time someone was attacked in the park was five years ago, and he'd been pissing off the local bums. Besides, as those same bums casually told us when we had them over for tea last spring, Mr. Gorman can be really full of shit sometimes. Their words, not mine.
I hear Anju open the door, and zip up my jeans.
"Yes? How may I help you?" I hear her ask. I briefly consider that we rarely get door-to-door vendors, because we're so poor. We occasionally get some fervent religious adept trying to promote his ideals, but otherwise…
"Um… Yes, she's…" I hear Anju stammer, once the visitor finishes saying something I can't distinguish. "She's… May I ask who you are?"
There's a pause. I consider going to look, but at the same time, if it's important at all, I could just ask Anju once he's―
"Oh, uh, um… come in," I suddenly hear Anju say, and she sounds strangely uncomfortable. "Come in," I hear her softly repeat. Wow. How odd. She's nice and all, but she's never invited vendors in before.
Anju closes the door then invites whoever the visitor is to follow her. Two sets of footsteps go into the kitchen.
"Would you like, um, something to drink?" Anju asks.
When the visitor answers this time, I can hear him as well as Anju. His voice is young, smooth, soft, controlled. "No, thank you. I'm sorry for the inconvenience."
I'm annoyed and curious now.
"Is this something very serious?" I hear Anju ask, anxiously. "I can't see what―"
The visitor chuckles gently. He has a nice chuckle, actually. Still, why would Anju be so worried? "Don't worry, Miss…?"
"Miss Anju. In answer to your question, yes, this is a rather serious issue, but you shouldn't be worried." There's a pause. "I think it may be an improvement for her."
Her? Are they talking about me? Who is this guy?
I step into the kitchen. "Um… What's going on?"
Anju turns to me, looking concerned, like she expects that I've done something reprehensible, which I haven't. I think…?
I turn to look at the man she invited in, and freeze.
Holy bloody Triforce.
He's pretty young. At least, he has a full head of hair, and none of them white, instead a dark, dirty blond. They're short, rumpled, kind of messy and spiky, but otherwise totally perfect. His skin sports a light tan, like he hasn't been in the sun purposely but enough to get just a tone darker. His frame is square, but lean. He's tall, with capable hands and a confident, business-like posture. He looks like a banker who was on vacation and just came back: relaxed but focused at once.
His eyes, though, turn to me when he notices Anju looking my way. They're blue, and he has this bright, intelligent look, piercing and caressing all in one.
He gives me a careful once over, before turning to Anju and asking, "Is this she?"
Anju merely nods. I hadn't seen her so unsure before.
Satisfied, apparently, the visitor comes my way in two confident strides and offers his hand for me to shake in greeting. "Zelda," he says, shooting me an ad-worthy smile. This is so weird. I haven't seen a smile like that anywhere but on the big screen. "Link Forester. You can call me Link."
"Link," I say, a bit unsure, wondering what the hell is going on.
"As I was telling your… friend?" He indicates Anju.
"Friend, yes," I confirm, throwing Anju a curious glance. All she does is rub her forehead. Well.
"I was explaining. I'm Link Forester; I work for the government." He takes out a myriad of papers, authenticity notices, and identity cards from his suitcase, spreading them on the table, over the newspaper clippings. "These are simply to prove this is not a fraud of any kind. I majored in history of politics and worked for seven years for an independent firm taking care of the public image of our government," he says, and when he notices my blank look, he adds, "You know, those who ensure the politicians don't look too stupid."
Anju and I look at the papers. I'm not sure what he expects us to do. Comb through them? I wouldn't know a real from a fake anyway.
"Um…" I start, "What does this have to do with… well, me and Anju?"
"Oh," Link Forester smiles, and his smile really is the most attractive I've ever seen, "no offence to Miss Anju, but this has to do with you, rather exclusively."
I know it's completely innocent, but that makes me feel kind of warm. "Me?" What does a hot government publicist want with me? He wants to ensure I don't look too stupid or something?
Link's smile dies. He looks a bit unsure of how to word his next sentence. He turns to Anju. "Perhaps she should sit?"
Anju blinks then turns to me. "Is something wrong?"
"I don't know, I can't imagine whatever is going on," I reply, but sit down nonetheless. Link too sits across from me, at the table. "Did something happen?" I ask him.
"Well," Link says, indicating the newspaper clippings under his own cards and papers. "I believe you know the current political situation."
I gaze at him. "You lost your job because politicians got kicked out of parliament?"
Surprised, Link laughs. "Lost my job? No, no. No." He becomes grave again. "I trust you realize that at this point, the elected party is seeking someone to take the reigns of the country. With Daphne Nohansen dead, the country is headless, basically."
"Aren't you supposed to put up a king or queen?" I ask, still unsure of what he's getting at.
"Well, yes. But we have to find someone that the people will approve of. Obviously the elected party doesn't want to lose their ideals to a revolution. Our publicity firm has been in charge of finding good ruler suggestions, actually, ever since Nohansen's will has been opened."
I see now that he is taking out a palm pilot.
"I myself am in charge of information gathering," he explains. "I know what rumours are true, which are false, I can find anything. How to say this?" He smiles thinly, a bit darkly, "My job is to know everything."
I stare at him. I still don't see why he's talking to me.
"It was suggested that someone related to Daphne Nohansen, a man who was generally well-liked, be put up as first ruler of Hyrule."
Something is nagging at me, something like a horrible suspicion, under my skin, not really there or completely worded, just undulating inside me.
Link looks straight at me. "What is your full name?"
Um… wow. Talk about a guy who's supposed to know everything. "Zelda Harkinian."
Harkinian was my Mom's name. I never knew my father's name. Mom didn't like talking about him. He was a jerk who'd walked out on her when she was just three months pregnant. He'd freaked out, Mom told me. So, for not knowing my father's identity, I took her name.
Now, I get this really horrible feeling, like maybe that bastard had something else in store for me, even after all these years.
"Yes, so your records say," Link nods. So. Why did he ask me, if he knew already? "I'm not sure how to break this to you, Zelda, but technically, your name should be Zelda Nohansen."
I don't move. My lips are sealed together. I'm frozen to my spot.
There's a long, heavy, gut-wrenching silence. The longest I ever heard.
Link's blue eyes are piercing my own.
"I g… Ca… Wh… How… What are you talking about…?" I'm blurting, I know, but Link seems to understand my drift anyway.
He says, "Your father, Daphne Nohansen, left your mother when she was pregnant with you, and stayed put for a while. No need to ask how I know. We have enough reports, and if need be, we'll prove this with DNA. Anyway, he became a popular figure in politics around eight years ago ―which was quite a while after your mother's death,― and moved fast enough to the top. Then," Link glances at the newspaper clippings, "he died, leaving you nothing but leaving the country a huge place to fill. The Royalty Party suggested that a king or queen should do so."
I stare at him, and my voice, unusually weak, deadpans, "So you thought you'd give me the place to fill." That's basically what he's been hinting at all along.
Link smiles, and I'm beginning to think he can't possibly mean it when he smiles, being able to throw them around at such a critical time like that and everything. "There's a bit more to it, but that's a fine way to sum it up."
I stare right back. "You want me to be a princess."
Link purses his lips. "Queen is the more appropriate term."
Getting over the shock faster than me, Anju suddenly says, "Wait. That's ridiculous. You can't force her to be queen. What is she doesn't want to be?"
Link eyes don't leave mine. For a guy who doesn't know when to smile and when to frown, he really does look amazingly good. "That's absolutely correct," he confirms. "I can't force you, nor can anyone force you, to aim for the throne." He takes a breath, then says, "But Zelda, the crown practically has your name on it. The members of the Royalty Party all approved your potential as a good successor to Nohansen."
"But they don't even know me," I say, in a sort of squeaky voice. "How could they even…" I trail off. I'm seriously in shock. Too much of this is unreal.
Link seems to understand. His eyes soften. "It doesn't matter whether they know you or not. Anyone can be queen, with the proper amount of training and attention. The question isn't whether you can or can't anymore. It's about whether you want to or not. Zelda," he says again, "would you like to be the Queen of Hyrule? Do you think this is something you want?"
"I don't know what I want," I breathe, feeling tears coming up. None of this makes sense! "I don't know. I just don't know."
Try living your whole life thinking you're going to do the dishes with a dirty cloth for the rest of your days and suddenly being offered a silk scarf with a domestic to do the job in your place! That's how I felt. Like a domestic had taken my dirty cloth from me.
Link looks around. He spots a tissue box on the kitchen counter and grabs a couple, then hands them to me. I'm surprised at the gesture. He looked very bureaucratic before, but now he looks like he really understands my shock.
"If it's any consolation," he says, slowly, "We won't ask you to change your name to Nohansen. I understand that your mother never really forgave him for what he'd done, leaving the two of you to struggle. You can remain as a Harkinian, maybe start a lineage…" He grins, but then stops smiling when I don't laugh. "If you accept, of course."
"I've never been a leader," I say.
"It's never too late."
I glare at him. Of course he'd want me to become queen. It'd ensure he kept his job.
"If I said no," I begin, and he tenses, "what then?"
Link looks contemplative, and a bit like he just choked on something. "We'd have to find someone else, it'd leave the country in a lot of instability meanwhile."
Great. I'd be responsible for national instability. I'm not exactly convinced by his act, but I figure it's best not to question his word.
"And if I said yes…" I say, carefully, "What would happen to my stuff? Would I have to move?"
Link nods. "We're giving the parliament its old vocation back in Marcastle. It used to be a royal palace, and it shall be so again. A part of it would be your residence," he adds. "You could take all your belongings there."
I look over at Anju. "What about… What about Anju? And my friends?"
Link stays silent. I assume that means I would be leaving them behind. So. I get my pick of picks. Loneliness with money or friends with poverty?
I begin crying. See, that's just the thing. Mom and I struggled all our lives to make enough money that we wouldn't have to be miserable or tight-budgeted all the time. She always wished comfort for me. Always.
By staying here, I did have friends, but I would never be comfortable.
By going there, I would be rich and powerful, but I'd be away from everything else that I knew, including my friends, and that was a painful thought to bear.
Though… If I were Queen…
I could repay my debt to Talon. And buy Anju a house with actual locks.
I could help people out. I could make a difference.
And I wouldn't have to waitress anymore.
Maybe Link can see me calm down and look resigned. He's relaxing. He stands now, gathering his papers. "I'll have a taxi take you to Copse Airport in a week. I'll have a ticket for you. If you choose not to come…" He shrugs. "Well, I'll be leaving first class without you."
With a final nod to Anju, who's still looking shocked, and a thin, kind smile to me, he shows himself out.
I turn to look at Anju. I think she can see my choice on my face.
"Only in Hyrule," she philosophically says with a watery smile and a half-hearted shrug. "As for me…" She looks up to the ceiling, humorously, even though her eyes are very moist, "Well. Tomorrow's another day, so maybe I can be a duchess myself."
That's it for chapter 1. Chapter 2 should come in tomorrow or after tomorrow or something like that. :)
Leave a word or two, will you?