A mercenary on an impossible quest...a sage sent to stop him...a beautiful spy... and a King who will stop at nothing to gain the ultimate weapon...


Nayru, Farore and Din - the three Goddesses of Hyrule. Legends tell of how with their power, wisdom and courage they created the world itself and left in their wake the Triforce, hidden deep in the sacred realm. But behind this Legend lies another, deeper secret...the secret of the Chameleon Stone. Forgotten for centuaries, the Legend is about to be uncovered and the course of history changed forever...


I don't own any Zelda characters. I do own this story!


Chapter One

"My name is Link. I am a warrior. I can help you. Perhaps! I am the only one alive with the courage to face what you fear. And the only one stupid enough to do so."

There! Finished! Quill to parchment! Ink to wood! Done and, with a touch of sand on it, dusted. Now to send it post-haste.

Link sat back and grinned at his handiwork as he thought of rupees. Lots of rupees. Not that he was particularly greedy. Link sought a life where worn out clothes could be replaced, broken swords mended and a home where it was more than a tired little shack. Maybe he could be a farmer. With his rupees he could afford land on the West Hylian coast. Arable, fertile, pleasant land. Maybe he would marry.

Link's dreams had never been grand. He had never known a grand or even an easy life. To him, life was an existence laboured out in the fiery desert sands and freezing desert nights. A pittance could be eked out guiding the odd and rare travellers who went between Hyrule and Termina through the colossal Gerudo Desert.

Not much could be earned in such a land; some of the nomads that lived their operated trading routes between the two estranged countries but for the most part the inhabitants were thieves.

Link had leant his skills from the people. The desert was filled with hungry, desperate animals who were more than willing to take the life of any man, woman, child or beast caught off their guard. The people that called it home were too wild and violent like their animal contemporaries. Fighting to the death was a common occurrence between them. Link himself preferred fighting to the point of proving his point (therefore humiliating his opponent rather than murdering him) and then walked away.

The nomads and vagabonds that inhabited the desert distrusted one another. Link especially. He did not fit in with their squabbling, yet strangely private lifestyles. He had not been born a nomad, nor had he been outcast from either Hyrule or Termina. He knew no family, or friends nor his purpose in life although he was sure that there was more to his life; more to the pointless existence he suffered. That is why he had answered the strange advertisement. He had been convinced it was an omen.

"WANTED!" it had said. Link had picked it up from the dry ground where it had been happily fluttering. Being a resident in a country where most of its populace were or were related to criminals it had caught his attention. He was eager to find out which inhabitant they were after this time.

He was disappointed. The flyer was not for anybody in particular sighed Link regretfully. His eyes quickly scanned the page. He looked first surprised and then amused. The flyer was after all for one inhabitant of the Northern desert. Link.

WANTED

One brave and trustworthy warrior is required for the personal service of Impa, Rauru and Kru, Judges of Hyrule (under the guidance of our venerable high chief leader Judge Daphnes De Hyrule) Must be willing to face what could ultimately be his/her death. Rupees, and lots of them, are offered as a reward for your endeavours. Be certain to apply to Impa before the full moon sets.

Link's ready humour was touched by the strange advert. Being a peculiarly reckless young man, and being thoroughly bored of his existence, he had instantly decided to apply to this "Judge Impa" whoever he was. Link glanced again at his note. He couldn't help but wonder what reaction his application would receive. He hoped it would be favourable. He had already planned out the various daring and courageous deeds he would perform whilst in the service of the Judges. Maybe he would even rescue a couple of damsels in distress along the way. All he needed now was a bird. Link sighed and stepped through his door into the world outside. For Link, getting a bird in a desert full of traders was a simple matter.

(Link's version of simple was maybe a touch biased for he had been living in amongst the desert people for a long time, in reality there were few people living that thought trading a pair of gauntlets for a cloak. Trading that cloak for some odd sized boots. Trading the boots for a bow - The bow for a shield - The shield for a sword - The sword for two daggers - Trading one dagger for a bird (he kept the other dagger for later use, he wanted his gauntlets back – after all he did live with thieves) was anything but their idea of simple. Link was not like many other people. In fact, he was rather unique.)

He watched the bird fly away with satisfied smile on his face. Now all he needed to do was await his reply. And get his gauntlets back. He had found his gauntlets most useful in his trades with the nomads. They were somewhat of a rare item in the desert and therefore (apparently) gauntlets were second only to rupees to the nomads and they could be traded for almost anything.

Link liked his gauntlets. He retrieved them quickly, with the aid of the dagger from the idiot he had sold them to. He pulled them over his hands and flexed his fists. His gauntlets could knock out a man with a single blow (when accompanied by Link's fist). His fist and his gauntlets had enjoyed many outings together in amongst the thieves. The nomads and thieves did not like Link much. He was too noisy, knew their sly, sneaky ways too well and could and would fight back at every opportunity. He always ended up with at least one extra item by the end of his trades and rarely lost a fight. Link could be just as sneaky as the best thief amongst them all.

And boy could he talk. He had the gift of a silver tongue. Even the most distrusting, sceptical man alive could be conned into believing anything Link said. He largely kept his gift-of-the-gab to his trades. Link's trades were legendary. His most famous exchange was when he managed to sell the most worthless piece of junk (no-one knew what it was then, it remains a mystery today) to a notoriously tight-fisted Hylian for a ridiculously high price. It was a feat recounted by the Nomads for many years after.

Link was a living legend - An unpopular, living legend.


Impa read Link's application and sighed. She was worried about the whole idea but to pull the entire task off, they needed someone who knew little about Hyrule and would not question them. And out of all the outcast criminals, Link's application had posed the least threat to them.

Impa couldn't help the regretful sigh escape her as she carefully penned her invitation to Link. She read it through and sealed it. The bird once again flew off in the direction of home. Impa watched it go, a furrow in her brow. She couldn't help wondering just what kind of man Link would prove to be. Her eyes once again read the note he had received. Impa would have to get Kru to examine the handwriting. Kru was an expert in his field and would read more from the message than mere words. He called for his counterpart.

Kru's aged eyes studied the words carefully. The words he used suggested an open and friendly persona. It also bespoke that this 'Link' had read more into the situation than they had intended to give away.

Impa watched Kru's hands as they carefully lifted the parchment up to the light (a chandelier made of six large candles). Kru muttered to himself; little mental observations about the paper and quill used. Finally he studied the letters themselves. Kru frowned slightly, as if confused not vexed.

Impa frowned also, Kru was an expert, his observations and predictions were uncannily accurate but he was so slow. Impa felt like tapping her fingers or making some kind of fidgety move but experience had taught her long ago about the foolishness of such action. It only distracted Kru, who would then have to restart his examination at an even slower pace.

Finally the examination was over. The page lay to rest on the old oaken table and Kru looked up.

"Well…?" Impa tried not to let her impatience show in her voice. Kru was very temperamental.

"I am all a quandary." Began Kru, his voice sounding grandiose and ancient and slightly pompous. "A very unusual matter is this. It puzzles my person somewhat."

Impa politely waited for the anticipated and forthcoming explanation to this mystery.

"You, Rauru and I quite clearly stated whence we decided and departed on this course of action that the man (or woman) to suit our purposes should, nay, must be a villain of some sort did we not? Why, we only notified villains and outlaws of our plans. We posted our notice, not to all eyes, but only to the eyes that saw in the Desert. You and I both know the many just and worthy reasons for our choice. Only a criminal or vagabond could do what we need him to do. This reply, and may I state this is not the only reply we have had for the lure of riches to any man especially those desert dwellers, is not from a criminal. Why do you think he is worthy of taking up our esteemed time?"

Impa had not really been listening to Kru, who had a tendency to waffle on about any chosen subject, was thrown by this query. Quickly gathering her wits together, she improvised a suitable response. Something along the lines of this man appearing to pose less of a threat to them than any of the other applicants so far.

Kru had superior knowledge. He crowed over Impa's inferiority. "Hah!" He snorted. He picked up the parchment and near pinned it to Impa's face with a bony finger. As the creamy blur swayed before her eyes, Kru sneered:

"This told me more than it could ever tell you. This man is more of a threat to us than any other man alive. Even a mass murderer with our names upon his death list poses less of a threat than this man does. Can you not see what is plain to me? This man will destroy us. It is as clear to me as if he had written it in words even you could read."

Impa removed the parchment and bony finger from her near vicinity and adopted a humble pose. Now she would finally hear the verdict on Link's promising letter.

"Kru, you would be doing my person the greatest honour if you would please inform me of your most excellent verdict on this man. I appreciate you have superior powers to my own. Your judgements, always incomparable is my law, my ears eagerly await them."

Kru's bony chest swelled in satisfaction. Impa ground her teeth. She hated sweet-talking the ancient idiot but she had to. Rauru said it must be so.

"The power I was granted by the stars as an infant has never yet failed me. Alas, my body may have dimmed from its former glory with the ceaseless passing of time, but my power grows only stronger…"

Impa had to listen to this little gloat every time Kru interpreted handwriting. As always, her ears switched off to the little self-appreciating praise. Impa referred to it as the "I'm so wonderful speech" and could almost recite it word for word.

Kru's overly shaken hand reached for the parchment. Impa checked the eyes. Yes water had drained from their dim blue depths, leaking all over his cheeks as he pondered the marvel that was Himself. Being such a great, wonderful, infallible person was too much for Kru. Reflecting on his own glory was always an emotional occasion for him. 'Finally the reading' thought Impa as she smiled in a convincingly over-awed way at her colleague. Her patience had worn thin. Much more of Kru's self-worship would have made her loose control. Already she itched to hit him!

"The lines read as such…A-hem. I am Link, I am a warrior, etceteras…etceteras, ah…here we are "stupid enough". That told me the writer is open and honest about himself. He is hardly a thief. To me it sounds as if he is insane! I should not wonder if this at least is true. Living in that desert is enough to affect any mans mind.

The parchment is old and of poor quality. The man lives in poverty. It has been wiped clean before being used. This suggests that he is at least a cleanly person.

The letters finally are neat and well written. Clearly the man has at one point been educated, although it seems to me that he has largely educated himself. The writing style is unlike any other I have seen. It does not follow the guidelines of any of the masters.

His name - "Link" -It is for a certainty a Hylian name. He was likely born of one of the Eastern, forest tribes. Why he is in the desert now, I cannot say, but I certainly do not recall hearing the name before in any of my courts. I remember all names. It is my role to condemn men to a life in the desert wastes. Whether he is a criminal in the eyes of the Gerudo, I do not know, nor do I care. The Gerudo desert is full of criminals anyway.

I perceive this man is intelligent, tidy, orderly and organised. He is hiding his true nature from us. I also see he is bored and desperate for release from his dull existence. He is no outlaw, vagabond or nomad. He is a threat because I believe we will not be able to trust him. We will never know truly where we stand with him, nor what his intentions are. The man is a mystery. That is all I can discern from this parchment."

"All?" Asked Impa, taken aback somewhat. She felt as if she already knew Link. Kru may have been a boring old fool but his work and skills were amazing. Half-laughing, Impa said, "You couldn't tell me what his appearance is like also could you?"

Kru allowed a brief smile to pass his lips. "My skill delves into personalities, appearances do not matter in life nor in science. It is the person you are that counts, not the person you appear to be. Looks may fade, but the heart of a man remains forever."

"You almost sounded as though you had personal experience of good looks then Kru. I take it that is not quite the case."

Kru glared at the underhand insult. It was true he had never been a pretty sight. "There are many legends of beautiful but doomed people but not many of the smart but less attractive ones." He muttered darkly, "As I say, looks have no import in life."

"But still it is pleasant to have an attractive face, not that you'd know about that of course, it gives one a feeling of great confidence in oneself." Impa smiled benignly at Kru, she was a relatively old woman now but in her heyday, she had been exceedingly attractive. Some of her cold arrogance, born from being admired from an early age, still shone in her red eyes. "You can give some lovely unpleasant looks though Kru."

Kru was about to retort an equally cleverly veiled insult to his antagonist when Rauru entered.

Both judges bowed their heads and acknowledged their leader, second only to Daphnes, Hyrule's chief judge. Out of the three judges he was the most stately and noble looking. He was leader because he was the most forthright of the judges and because he said so.

Rauru was rather on the plump side and, like his two counterparts, was well past the bloom of youth or even middle age. His skin was satin smooth and completely free from the signs of ageing, only his ring of silver hair and demeanor gave his age away. His mouth had a firm set to it and he had the mannerisms of one who would brook no opposition. Rauru however had a merry twinkle in his eyes and, despite his rather austere appearance, was the most approachable of all the Hylian Judges.

"Well, have we obtained a potential warrior yet?" He asked sternly.

Both Kru and Impa nodded emphatically. Kru did not mention the fact that he had voiced serious doubts over the warrior and Impa failed to mention that she had looked at only five of the possible hundred applications.

Rauru took a nearby seat and wondered what his companions were hiding from him this time. He smiled at each of them and continued in his rich, lazy voice "And did you not dispute over this warrior's worthiness?"

Kru and Impa shook their heads in unison.

"You did not? How odd." Drawled Rauru, the trademark twinkle appearing in the depths of his dark eyes. Kru and Impa failed to hear the irony in his tone. He yawned and asked the bickering judges to tell him all about their new champion.

Kru and Impa exchanged glances before they each began extolling the virtues of a man they only knew from reading a minimum of scrawled words on an old bit of parchment.

Rauru listened and pondered his friend's reasons for hiding so much from him. There was evidently much more Kru and Impa had realised about the man than they were willing to tell their leader. "So when do we meet this Link?" He questioned after he had allowed his friends to talk for far too long.

"We are expecting a reply soon, Rauru. We have only just responded ourselves. I should imagine that his bird will be back in the morrow." Answered Impa. Kru nodded in agreement.

"Very well, we shall reconvene in the morning." Stated Rauru. "May I peruse his application letter?"

Impa faltered for a moment before hurriedly searching on her desk, which was littered with quills and parchment. "Oh dear." She exclaimed. "I cannot locate it. I am very sorry. Kru, do you…?"

Kru caught the glance she gave him and smiled sadly. "I thought I returned it to you, I do apologise, I must have misplaced it…"

Both Judges appeared to be busy in searching for the application. Rauru watched them for a moment before standing and dismissed them with the words, "Come, our illustrious King requires our presence. I am certain that the message will be here in the morning along with the bird with his reply."


The next morning saw the Judges reconvened in the small room, Impa had tidied her desk and had skilfully lost Link's letter in the fire as she did. Kru had distracted Rauru by waffling about Link's many virtues, yet to be discovered. He just hoped that Impa got to the reply from Link before Rauru did. Just as he was thinking this, almost as if on cue, a scruffy looking bird appeared at the window. Impa recognised it and cursed as Rauru stood. He looked rather surprised by the bird's appearance. Clearly the man they were thinking of employing had very little or no money to his name. Rauru knew this was only to be expected for they had invited only thieves into their service, but now he realised the mans motives for service would be purely for greed. Hardly the most trustworthy or noble reason for doing what they had in mind. Rauru thought ruefully that what they had in mind was not really the most noble or trustworthy thing to be doing, but it was for a good cause.

Rauru opened the window and the bird hopped in, glad of a rest. Rauru untied the string that bound the response from Link to the bird's leg and took the parchment. Kru and Impa watched the enigmatic judge's face as he read the reply. They noticed Rauru's eyes were laughing with more vivacity than usual. After what seemed to be forever for the two Judges, Rauru looked up. "Very interesting." He said dryly. Knowing Impa and Kru were most impatient to read Link's response Rauru, who was generally a benevolent man, cut short their suspense and handed them the bit of parchment. It read:

One slightly dubious warrior at your command.

Unfortunately having no food, money nor parchment left, I hasten to notify you that I shall await your arrival here. I shall meet you at the outskirts of the desert at a time and date decided by your superior selves. Do not fear for your safety in the desert, dress like me and you'll not even be noticed.

Ever Yours (perhaps)

Link - Man of the Desert with no crimes to my name (that I am aware of).

Kru and Impa read, and reread the note many times then exchanged puzzled glances.

"If you are wondering what he means by saying dress like him, it is that little self portrait on the other side of the parchment." Advised Rauru, chuckling slightly.

Kru turned the page and frowned at the artwork. The self-portrait was a rather humorous sketch. Link had dressed himself in the long flowing robes of a desert trader and had veiled most of his face with a Sheikah Like turban, so that only his eyes were showing. And he was pulling a face.

"Why did he send you such an, er, interesting reply?" Asked Rauru as he lazily eyed his fellows. "What did you say to him?" Impa and Kru shuffled their feet respectfully and looked at anything but Rauru. "Well…?"

The bird at that moment chose to squawk, signalling its readiness for departure. Rauru looked at the cheeky mammal and pondered over the likeness between it and Impa. "Oh, what is this?" He muttered as his sharp eyes noticed another piece of parchment attached to the bird's other leg. Rauru detached it and after one glance recognised Impa's fair handwriting (Elaborate, spidery and hardly legible). As ever, Impa had gone far in trying to impress Link's unworthiness on to one piece of parchment.

"As neither of you two want to recall what you spoke in letters to the man, I shall rekindle the flame of memory in you. A-hem." Rauru read the note in out a subtly insulting imitation of Impa's rather whining tones.

"To the one who calls himself Link.

We are the Judges of Hyrule. Upon careful perusal and analysis of your recent application, we have agreed that we should make your acquaintance. Naturally, being Judges, therefore important in the eyes of our fellow Hylians, we would not wish to travel abroad in the wasteland you deem to be your home. As Judges, we are quite aware of whom the inhabitants of that land are (having sent the majority of you there ourselves). We have agreed that you should come to meet us in Hyrule. We appreciate the hazards of travelling by day for convicted men so we are quite agreeable for you to meet us at night. We will of course bring our own guards, in case any of your "friends" deem it necessary to accompany you.

You will be told of what we require of you when we meet, although, please do remember where the advertisement was posted. By that we mean - do not expect to receive a pardon in recompense for what you are to do.

As we clearly stated, the reward for your endeavours will be Rupees. I am sure that the amount offered will be sufficient for you to rule the roost, so to speak, in amongst your associates at your abode. Rupees are powerful things

We await a reply from you and remember please, you are dealing with three powerful Hylian Judges, Show a little respect for our station and authority if you please.

Until Then,

Impa, Kru and Rauru – High Judges by appointment of High Chief Judge Daphnes De Hyrule."

Rauru took a breath and finished with the words, "Dear me, no wonder the boy is so cheeky in his reply. And how dare you add my name to this dreadful piece of work. Rauru gave Kru and Impa a reproving look. "What made you so sure you could be so rude to a man you do not know? You judge too easily. I will reply to this message. A quill and parchment at once if you please." Kru handed a sheet of parchment wordlessly to his leader whilst in a similar manner; Impa handed over her own quill.

Rauru glared at the two Judges and slowly, and with Much thought began to write.

"To Link,

Greetings, I am Rauru leader of Hyrule's secondary Judges. I sincerely apologise for my Associates previous letter. I am afraid that they view such impoliteness as an asset. However, let us please forgive and forget this foolish behaviour, which I disapprove of by the way.

I write in response to your letter. I think you are quite correct to ask us to meet you, however may I suggest a more neutral meeting place than the venue you suggested. I believe the Old Tavern, North of Lake Hylia will be quite acceptable.

I have enclosed a parchment for your response, which I most eagerly await, especially so if it is as amusing as the last reply.

I hope our paths cross very soon as I am looking forward to meeting you. I think you are exactly the person we are seeking.

Sincerely Yours

Rauru."

The letter was read aloud before the unfortunate bird was sent out once again. Rauru wondered what their mysterious warrior would make of his note. It was early evening when the response arrived. Rauru perused it eagerly.

"Rauru." It read.

"Greeting returned! I must say – nice parchment, very rich! Your apology for your friends is accepted although personally I would not feel it necessary to apologise for such foolish oafs with nothing better to do than insult men who they do not know but believe to be inferior because they do not have rupees.

I am quite willing to meet at the Old Tavern. Judging by the amount of time it takes my unfortunate bird to return to me, I would say you are quite a distance away from here. A good day's travel at least. I therefore suggest we meet four moons from now at the said Tavern. Please return my bird and any message you feel like sending as soon as you are able.

Talking about the bird, I must go. One of my criminal neighbours it saying I stole, rather than loaned the beast and is demanding its immediate return. Alright, I must finish here. She does not seem to believe my tale that the bird escaped. My door will alas be broken if this barrage continues so I must end my note here. Don't worry about my safety; I can look after myself perfectly.

Criminally minded? Not at all.

Link.

Please note: the bird is borrowed, not stolen. Bear this in mind! And please would you give it some food and water?"

Rauru was convinced he was going to like Link when they met. Kru and Impa after examining this example of the young man's state of mind were convinced they were going to meet a madman. Rauru quickly dispatched another reply.

"Link,

The poor bird – how could you treat it so? You must think we judges are very lazy to need four days to travel to Lake Hylia but I shall disregard the insult. If four days is convenient to you, then we shall meet in four days. I sincerely look forward to it.

Rauru."

Kru and Impa disapproved but it was an unspoken rule between them that they would never disobey their leader. They contented themselves by looking mutinous and grumbling to each other. Rauru, who was preparing for their journey, ignored them.

They arrived at the Old Tavern the following night, ready to wait for Link. They were accompanied by their highly trained guards, who were both deaf and dumb and were also amazingly skilled. Such precautions were necessary for the three powerful judges. They did not know or trust Link yet but what they had to tell him – their plans and his commission – were for his ears only.


Okay, so chapter one is done. Let me know what you think. This is based on an original fiction I am working on, however, I thought the story might work in a Zelda setting. If you check my bio. you'll see I'm currently working on another story called 'Anything but ordinary' so updates may be a little slow on the Chameleon Stone. I just wanted to get feelers out and see what you guys make of this!

Also I wanted to give poor Link a character that wasn't all quiet and subservient for a change. Let me know if it's too OOC. If I get enough reviews, I will continue! (is that a promise or a threat - you tell me!)