AN: Thank you for your reviews! It's been so great to receive them. I was so afraid that no one would read this anymore, especially after so long of a wait. Anyways, I'm rather excited about this chapter. I loved Shad in the game so I featured him here.
On another note, Mr. X, you really are quick. If you aren't subscribed to the story, does that mean that you are checking it every week or so for updates? Stalker! But seriously, you should review with an account, that way I could stalk you back It's only fair!
"So why are we up so early?" Moaned Colin as he buried himself into his covers. Link pulled the covers off the boy, eliciting an offended groan at the sudden loss of warmth.
"You know why," he said as he pushed Colin's shoulder impatiently. He was already dressed and ready to go. He had smoothed down his tunic (the best that he could) and was in the process of putting his gloves on.
"It's not like the festival is going to go anywhere. Can't I just have a bit more sleep?"
"No. Get up. Now."
Sitting up and running a hand through his hair, Colin mumbled angrily to himself. Link didn't care; he could already hear the footsteps of the other guests running up and down the corridor, despite dawn having only shown a few minutes ago. Roosters were trilling eagerly to the rising sun and occasionally, the sound of pots and pans being moved drifted to his ears from the kitchen. He wanted to be out on the streets early so that he could gain an understanding of how the stalls or crowds would be positioned. He knew the castle like the back of his hand but if every citizen was to congregate in one area then his knowledge became slightly disorientated.
The festival wouldn't be starting as early as he hoped. It would be mid morning when Princess Zelda would speak to the crowd and it would be her who would begin the festivities. In Ordon, they had never really celebrated the start of harvest. Their celebration had been to get the scythes ready, round up the goats or cut up the pumpkins for dinner. Even so, if he could just get her attention for a few seconds during the speech then he would know that his efforts had not been in vain.
He felt arrogant and conceited thinking about his plan but if all else failed, it would be his best option. Zelda had been right when she had spoken of the people's admiration for their hero. They knew of his weapons (though sadly, the master sword was not with him) and they knew of his expertise with them. Although his first plan had been to merely allow Zelda to notice him, if that failed, he would have to use his status to get into the palace or even to speak to the woman. It had been so much easier when he had scaled the rooftops as a wolf with a strange imp sitting on his back.
He waited until the boy had splashed water on his face and finished dressing before nervously walking down to the common room of the inn. It was already filled with brightly dressed Hylians, Zora's and Goron's. He allowed himself a small smile at the sight of Zora and Goron laughing next to each other. Walking over to the nearest free table, he sat down with Colin (who was wiping his eyes wearily) and waited for the waitress to come over. He was nervous and impatient so he only ordered a glass of milk. He blushed as the woman winked at him and bit her lip.
Beth walked down a minute later. They had opted to give her a room to herself, a decision that she had been very grateful for. She was blinking tiredly as well when she sat down and was fighting not to yawn, "Morning."
They greeted her in like. She took a drink from Link's milk, not noticing the glare he gave her at such an action. He hated sharing drinks with people. "So what are we doing today?"
Link waited until the same flirtatious waitress had taken her order before replying, "I'm going to wander the castle a bit and work out how this festival is set up. I need you both to find out what is meant to happen after the Princess Zelda appears. Her speech is the extent of my knowledge. I also need a new sword so if you could buy one from Malo's shop, I'd really appreciate that." Taking out his travelling pouch, he heard the satisfying jingle of the rupees colliding as he laid them on the table, "This should be about three hundred rupees, which should be more than enough. By the time you've bought it, I should be waiting near the fountain."
Colin's widened at the thought of so many rupees, "But I don't know anything about swords, how am I meant to pick out the right one for you?"
"They usually only sell one sword at a time so just pick that one. Whatever you choose should be better than the one I have now."
"Whatever happened to that sword you used when you were travelling?"
He hesitated, "I had to return it."
"Oh, I thought it was yours."
"In a way it was," Colin looked at him in confusion. It was hard to explain that it both was and wasn't his sword. The Master Sword was a weapon of the hero's and was passed down in time for each new generation to use. However, it could only be used when the Goddesses willed it and returned when they did not. In a way, he owned it because he was the next generation hero, but his use of the sword was confined to obeying the Goddesses will.
The boy continued, "What about all the other weapons?"
"I can keep those. Returning them would be dangerous, especially without my sword."
"Is that the same for your tunic as well?" Said Beth.
"Yes. I'm glad I didn't have to give them back, I've grown use to them," shaking his head, Link stood up, sliding his glass of milk over to Beth so that she could finish it, "I'm going to start looking around. Make sure you are back for Zelda's speech."
His two companions nodded their head and he nodded at them before heading for the door. It was difficult to weave his way through the crowds but somehow he managed to stumble through the door and into the sunlight. The air was crisp and fresh and he blinked at the sudden onslaught of morning chill. He first stepped into the main area where the fountain was and peered around curiously. Stalls were set up along the side of the castle and already, a few people were sitting patiently by the fountain for the start. He recognized three of the girls and he glared at them briefly before looking the other way. If he recalled correctly, they used to stand outside of the Star Game.
Weaving his way through the sparse crowd, he entered the corridor to the east entrance, turning right at the alleyway breaking off from it. No tent, thankfully, marred his view and a new diner had been set up in its place. It was filled with people, the smell of the breakfast foods drifted lazily to his nose. Walking past it, he moved further down the alleyway until it narrowed, a few familiar dogs stopping at his approach and looking happily up at him. He grinned at them as well, leaning down to pat one as it approached him with a bone.
Stalls were set up along the alleyway and where selling small trinkets. He passed one stall and stopped in surprise. The owner of the stall noticed him and smiled at him genuinely, the skin around his eyes wrinkling at the action.
"Can I help you, young man?"
Link blinked, "Can I have a look at your stall?"
"Well, I haven't set it up properly yet but you are welcome to have a look at our stock."
"What are you selling?"
"Oh, well, I sell all kinds of things. But between you and me, merchandising has been my forte this year. I see that you have your eyes on that jug. Just a few weeks ago, it was finished. It's quite expensive though and very rare, a modern piece by anyone's standards," he lifted up the jug to show Link, "This Hero has become quite the celebrity. That's the Goblin King there," he pointed at the small figure of a boar and a Goblin astride it, "…and that is the hero right there. I thought they did a wonderful job on the tunic, very colourful."
"It's only five hundred rupees up front, I'm afraid that we don't offer warranties here."
"It's nice but… "
"That's fine. Even if you aren't up to buying the jug, you should look at the rest of my stock."
"Thank you but I really should be going."
"Well, it was nice talking to you. If any person wishes to indulge in their hero collection, I've got all the latest goods!"
"Yes, thank you," he blushed horrendously as he moved away from the cart. It felt like his blush would never subside. He couldn't help but laugh at the mans lack of sight. To be standing right in front of a collector for Hero memorabilia and not be noticed was odd. Trying, in vain, to push down his blush and his embarrassment, Link peered at the next few stalls. They were simple: beads, necklaces, pots and the occasional baked good.
It wasn't long before he came across Agitha's Palace. He could hear strange music coming from inside and the same boy was standing beside the door jealously. The boy recognised him and glared at Link, remembering the numerous visits he had made to the girls place.
Passing around the store, he came next to the Fortune Teller. He was about to pass it when he stopped. The woman had always been strangely accurate in the past and he was sure that he would need all the prescience he could get for the coming days. Opening the door, he stepped inside, the onslaught of incense and exotic fragrances disturbing his nose.
The same woman was sitting behind a crystal ball, her form blending into the environment perfectly, "Ah, my first customer of the day. Do you wish to see your fortune?"
He nodded, sitting down in front of her. The woman narrowed her eyes, "And do you wish to know of love…. Or perhaps, of your career?"
Fishing out a few rupees from his pocket, he handed it her, noting that her long, strong nails scratched his palm as she took it. He thought for a moment before answering with a blush, "Love."
"Ah, love," she glanced at the ball, her hands splayed over it as she spoke a few words, "Yes. Yes, I see! Does this image mean anything to you?"
He gasped as the image entered his sight. It was night and the area he could see was green and beautiful. Stone benches and statues sparsely decorated the garden and a few golden bugs flew in between the leaves. It was bathed in an ethereal glow.
As the image faded, he heard the voice of the Fortune Teller, "Do you recognize the image?"
He frowned in disappointment, "No. I don't."
She cocked an eyebrow; "All will become clear to you soon."
He sighed, brushing off his pant legs. Moving to the door, he muttered a, "Thank you," before emerging into the sunlight.
Almost as soon as the rays of the light touched him, he felt a piercing head ache tear through his head. Bending over in agony, he pressed a hand to his forehead, groaning miserably. A woman who had been standing outside the Fortune Teller's place rushed over to him, "Oh dear, are you okay?"
As if by magic, the pain immediately left him and he blinked dumbly at the experience. Relieving his hand from the position on his head, he gasped at the faint image of a Triforce, which breached his glove. His strange birthmark emitted it, he was sure of that.
It subsided, just as the woman reached him, "Oh, dear. Are you alright? This is so strange; the Fortune Teller said that I would meet a great man one day, just outside her door, who was in pain. Well, silly me. I always thought she meant that I would fall in love with him. It was so strange though because I didn't ask for love, I asked for my career and she told me that answer," the woman tilted his head to meet her analysing gaze, "But no mind, I once trained as a nurse so I should be able to help you."
"It's fine. I'm fine now."
"Are you sure, you should lay down for a little while. Have you been drinking plenty of water?"
"Well, there's the reason."
"Thank you but I'm fine."
"Hm, this is very odd. Perhaps this was the sign I needed…. Maybe I should become a nurse again?" Link stood up shakily as she continued, a thoughtful expression on her face, "Perhaps this was the push I have been needing. All I ever do with my life is wait for what the Teller told me would come. Even if you are not the sign she spoke of, you are guiding me on the path I wished," She stood up suddenly, a proud expression on her face, "Yes. I will become a nurse," she looked down at Link, "Thank you, young man. You have done a great thing today!"
Leaving him suddenly, the woman passed through the alleyway and around the corner. Link gaped in the direction she had bustled. It seemed that even when he wasn't trying, he was still being a hero. He shook his head in amusement, wondering at the strange headache, which had just afflicted him. It had not been natural, he was sure of that and the only explanation he could give was that it was in connection with the Goddesses. It wearied him to know that they may not be finished with him.
Passing through the alleyway, over the lane and into the next, he heard a distant voice call him name. Looking behind him, he was stunned to see Shad run up to him. The man looked as he always did: a bright smile behind large glasses. He grinned at the sight of him; he had always liked the man.
"Link, old boy, I am so pleased to have found you," said Shad, slightly out of breath from the run as he pushed his glasses up his nose. Link noticed that he was regarding him curiously with a hint of something cautious behind the wide smile.
"I must talk with you in private, Link. I have been meaning to talk with you for a while but you are quite good at disappearing! Why, I was just about to talk to you last night when you left so suddenly. I hope nothing has upset you?" There was genuine concern in the mans eyes and that same, curious expression that made Link uneasy.
Shad pulled him to the side and into the square outside of Jovani's house. It was deserted, the cats no longer milling around and waiting for their leader's return. He found that he missed their presence; he had always been fond of cats and dogs, "I'm fine, Shad."
"Well that is rather good news," the man flickered his eyes nervously to the opening, obviously wishing to keep his conversation as private as possible, "I'm afraid that what I must speak of is rather serious and personal. Are you alright with such an invasion?"
Link frowned, "I guess."
"Jolly good then. Do you remember when we were in Kakariko, in the basement of the Shaman's house?"
"I left you alone for a moment and when I returned, the owl had moved and you were in a passageway," his eyes were searching and quizzical.
Link answered nervously, unsure of where the questions were leading, "Yes, I do remember that."
A brief smile graced Shad's face as he spoke, "It was all so exciting, old boy, and we both walked down the passageway and into that clearing. Do you remember that cannon? What a discovery that was, I am pleased to say that such a discovery was the height of my career. Indeed, it proves that my father was onto something all of his life," the man hesitated before continuing, "After I babbled a bit, you implied that I should leave and so… I took my leave."
His mouth numb, Link mumbled out a, "Yes. You left."
The man looked down at his boots in shame before glancing up at Link's face again, his eyes wide, cautious and unsure, "Except, I didn't really leave."
Link could feel his face morph from pleased and hesitant into a look of seriousness, "What are you saying?"
"I-I was so curious as to why you of all people had been able to move the owl statue. It just didn't make sense; your physical stature isn't large enough to have lifted that stone or to have even shaken it. Beside that, the stone could not be moved with strength alone, even the Gorons had tried and failed to move it. The only reasonable, although slightly extreme option, seemed to be that you had somehow acquired the Dominion Rod," the man pushed his glasses up his nose as he continued, "It seems preposterous to my mind but it was the only explanation. And when we reached the clearing, you asked me, a man who had studied my entire life to witness what we did, to leave. Well, you didn't ask but I could feel it in the very way you stood that you wanted to be alone."
Shad coughed, tugging at his shirt in a subconscious manner, "So I took my leave and waited at the stairs. I wanted to see the Dominion Rod, to see what it could do…. But I saw something quite different. Something I have not stopped thinking of since I observed it. Link… I…"
Link's eyes were wide as he realized what Shad was telling him. Had the man truly not left as he had intended? Had he seen his transformation, Midna, and the warp of the canon? His head was swimming at the thoughts running through his mind.
Shad continued, "Link…. Just what was it that I saw?"
Closing his eyes, Link paused for a moment. He had been careless and both he and Midna had been so excited and so close to the end of their journey. He remembered that Midna had exited his shadow and drifted to the top of the cannon. He had asked her to warp and she had opened the portal to Lake Hylia, pulling him and the cannon into the black, gaping void.
He spoke quietly, "What do you think you saw?"
The man bit his lip at the question, obviously not having expected it, "I saw an imp like creature emerge from your shadow. The creature flew to the top of the cannon and hovered above it, like a guardian of sorts. And then you… you morphed into a … beast…. a great beast. You had a chain around your leg and it jingled as you walked. And then, after you had morphed into the beast, the creature spoke in a voice I could not understand and created a hole in the air. You were sucked into it, just as the creature and the cannon were and after, nothing remained of your presence. The void closed and… that is all I remember."
Link sighed, "I can not tell you all that I know but I can tell you a few details. The war that was fought and won was not as it seemed. Do you remember the stories of Ganondorf?"
The man shuddered as he answered, "How could I forget."
"Ganondorf was our enemy in the war," Shad gasped, "He worked through another, Zant, and poisoned his mind. Zant wasn't part of this world; he was part of the Twilight Realm, the world that exists between Dark and Light. He intended to take over this world on behalf of Ganondorf, to become King of the Twilight. However," he laughed to himself, "The Princess of the Twilight Realm didn't quite agree with his actions. So, she came into our world and looked for the one that had been foretold to rid the world of Ganondorf's evil."
"And that was you?"
"Yes. That creature, she was the princess. She was forced into that form through the evil of Zant and Ganondorf. She was often ashamed at its appearance, which is why she emerged from my shadow. She used to hide there." As Shad was still waiting for more of an explanation, Link obliged him, "What she did to the cannon and myself was to warp. Zant used portals to transport his creatures for battles and after the creatures were destroyed, they could be used as links between each other."
Shad smiled, "I had always wondered how you came and went so quickly."
Link blushed, "They were a large help."
"And so that cannon, what did you and the princess do with it?"
"We took it to Lake Hylia, repaired it and used it to blast ourselves into the sky."
"…. You didn't happen to encounter a lost civilisation while you were up there?" The mans eyes were wider then Link's shield.
"Perhaps. How about I make a deal with you: if you keep your silence about what you saw, I will tell you of everything I observed in the sky."
"I do not think you would know of how much that would mean to me, Link. You would be enriching my entire career and blessing the very memory of my father," Shad's eyes had started to water slightly, his face a crimson blush as he explained himself.
Grabbing the mans shoulder, he squeezed it reassuringly, "I expect that you will be rather pleased with my observations."
Shad gripped onto Link's arm tightly, his face breaking into a smile. It was reassuring that after witnessing such a strange scene; the man was able to accept his words as truth. He was glad that he had talked to him about the event; it had opened up the space between them. Link had been able to talk of his experiences and Shad was gaining knowledge on his field of work. Both had benefited from the conversation.
Looking at the position of the sun, Link inhaled, "I've got to leave."
"Yes, I have to see Princess Zelda's speech."
"Ah, of course," said the man mysteriously. Link cocked one eyebrow at the expression on Shad's face, "It seems only fitting that The Hero woos The Princess."
Link blushed brightly at his words and rubbed the back of his head. He couldn't believe how quickly the man had picked up on his intentions. He looked down at the ground to avoid the dancing humour that was in Shad's eyes.
"Link, old boy, when shall we talk then?"
"Tomorrow night. I should be able to talk tomorrow night."
"Remember, you have your part of the deal to uphold."
"Yes, I remember. I'll see you tomorrow night then?"
"Goodbye, Link… and thankyou, for being honest with me." The man smiled brightly, his expression genuine and hopeful. Link wished that he knew Shad better, he was a good man and easy to talk to.
Walking out of Jovani's square, he turned east and headed towards the lane in the direction of the fountain. He groaned at the sight of people already milling around the lane, indicating that the crowd was so heavy that it had to push back. He peered over the heads of the people, biting his lip at the sight. He was quite good at weaving his way through people so he employed his skills to manoeuvre the crowd. He hoped that Colin had finished with his errands and was waiting for him at the front of the crowd.
Weaving in and out of the Hylians, Gorons and Zora's that stood patiently in the morning sun, he slowly made his way to the front. With a grin, he spotted a mop of blonde hair that he recognized and he slowly made his way over to the boy.
"Link, you finally came!" Said the boy as he gripped onto a heavy, narrow and straight parcel.
"I bumped into an old friend."
"Well, Beth and I saved you a standing place and we bought you a new sword," Colin handed it over to Link regally.
Unravelling the string and the paper, he smiled at the sleek sword that was gradually unveiled. It was of medium length with a sharp blade to each side and an ornamentally carved sheath and handle to accompany it. While it had differences to the Master Sword, it was strikingly similar in shape and design, enough to elicit a gasp out of Link.
"Colin, Beth. This is perfect," his two travelling companions glanced each other in happiness as they saw his reaction.
"You were right, Link. There was only one selling at the time and I managed to haggle it down from three hundred rupees to two hundred and fifty."
Link shook his head in amazement, "You both did a great job. Thank you."
"It's no problem," said Beth, her smile warm, "you deserve a better sword then the one you had."
He was about to reply when movement at the steps of the castle distracted him. Men were pouring out of the castle's entrance, spears and swords in their hands as they fell into position. He was nervous at the sight of the guards as he knew that Zelda would be following close behind. Already, trumpets were singing throughout the castle town, heralding her imminent arrival.
A great murmur started in the crowd as the people patiently waited. Within a few moments, a procession of finely adorned woman and men walked through the entrance in two single lines. At the head of this procession was Zelda. Link gasped at the sight of her. No cloak marred his view from her, as it had on his first meeting.
She was tall and bathed in sunlight as she walked to the head of the crowd. Gold lined every inch of her, including her hair, which surrounded the shining crown fixed to her head. Her eyes were cast to the skies as she walked towards the crowd, a sign of respect to the Goddesses, which had saved the land from destruction. She was tall, taller then the women and men who seemed shrunken and ordinary beside her form. Her posture was regal and emanated a sense of understanding, graciousness and wisdom to her people. He gripped onto his new sword tightly, as if trying to stop himself from running to her and sweeping her into a passionate and romantic kiss.
Closing his eyes for a moment, he opened them after a pause to look at the ground. He could hardly stand to look at her beauteous form. Her soft, yet powerful voice met his ears, "My people, long has it been since peace graced this land. As I stand before you, I am content in the knowledge that a great evil has been lifted. A war has been ended, a war that was prepared to consume everything that we hold dear. Peace is not a prize easily obtained and great women and men, many of whom you love, have lost their lives in the struggle," she gazed a the crowd solemnly, "But with each harvest, so ends what which we have reaped and sowed and the chance for a new beginning is granted. The Goddesses have blessed us with light to grow our grain and water to nourish. We shall stand strong in the shadow of war, harvest that which has grown bitter in our hearts and start anew once more."
A great cheer filled the air and he smiled at her words. She was right, he had been living in the past, in what could have or did happen to him. He had been so absorbed in its pull that he had neglected a woman that had loved him and a village that had always welcomed him. He sighed at his thoughts.
Having made her speech, Zelda looked down at the crowd as the various helpers from the castle walked to the crowd. Their arms were filled with baskets of bread and great barrels of wine and ale were being set up on the walls. An even greater cheer emerged from the crowd as the sound of music began.
Link gazed at her face and watched as her eyes swept over the crowd in pleasure and curiosity. A few people threw flowers at her feet and she swept them into her arms graciously, smiling at the people who had made such an effort. It was an unwritten rule that no person was to approach her and everyone continued to jostle behind the invisible barrier created by her presence.
Suddenly, her eyes passed over the crowd and met his. He felt his heart rise and his legs go numb at the sight of her crystalline eyes widening in shock. Her form was stiff at the shock, her mouth agape. He continued to gaze at her, gripping onto his sword desperately as he searched her face. He gasped at the small, sweet smile, which grew on her lips as she looked at him and he felt an identical expression line his face in turn.
Without warning, the woman turned away and walked slowly and regally up to the castle entrance. He watched her form go in disappointment and sorrow. A maid rushed up to the princess and the woman bent low to her ear, whispering something into the maid's ears.
The Princess continued to walk as the maid bustled down to the crowd and weaved her way in front of him. She was young and fresh faced, her eyes wide at the sight of him and his eyes that were glued on the princess, "Sir, are you Link?"
He snapped his eyes to her, "Yes."
"I have a message from Princess Zelda. She…" the woman paused for a minute, blushing, "Wishes to see you tonight, at the Palace Gardens."
He drew in a deep breath and smiled brilliantly, gazing at the slow moving form of the Princess that had yet to disappear into the palace. As if understanding, the Princess stopped and turned one last time. He could distantly see a smile illuminate her face, before she turned and disappeared from sight.
AN: I love this pairing. So much. And now that I've refreshed my memory of the game again, there are so many hints for this pairing. But then, there are also hints for Ilia and Link, which are a bit annoying. I like the girl but she so doesn't suit him.
Anyways, hope you enjoyed the chapter