Consolation Prize

It does not take Link long to realize he is playing into a trap. Longer than it should have, perhaps—the entire ship is nothing but a floating deathtrap, and he shouldn't trust anything he finds on it, not even for a moment. He cannot begrudge Linebeck for wanting to stay outside, all things considered, though Ciela certainly does—but Ciela is all but a glowing ball of courage physically manifest, and Link has already gone through the world-saving gig once before. Linebeck, while unusually greedy for treasure, is just a regular guy otherwise. So Link says nothing while he leaves Linebeck behind, and when realization arrives that he is being led further into danger with each sister he 'rescues,' he figures it's probably for the best that Linebeck is not with him.

Ciela does not notice that it is a trap. She genuinely believes the girls, fluttering happily as Link finds each sister, glad to reunite a family. Her hope that Tetra will be with the next girl they rescue continues to shine on, and Link is grateful for her obliviousness in the matter. There are certain rules to follow when playing into somebody's trap, he knows. If she knew the truth, Ciela would demand that they quit fooling around and get right to the point—and destroy what little chance Link has of success, by breaking the trap's illusion.

Even if it is a danger to them, however, Link thinks that part of her is wonderful. It's that part that won't put up with any less than she deserves, that part that sticks up for Link when he's being pushed around, that part that stands for what she knows to be right. That part of Ciela that won't beat around the bush and that says exactly what she means…

… He thinks of Tetra.

The rules to playing into a trap are, of course, the very reason that anybody would walk into a trap knowingly in the first place. Link does not care for the ghost ship's rumoured treasure. There is only one reason Link has set foot on the damned vessel, and he will not risk his chance to save her. Link wants to hold his sword to the fake prisoner's throat, wants to demand that she show her true form and give him back his princess, his captain. But he does not know where Tetra is, he does not know if there aremore than four 'girls' waiting in the deeper levels of the ship, waiting with Tetra bound and a dagger to her neck. So he grits his teeth at every "teehee!" and coaxes the girls through their façades of fear as gently as he can bring himself to, putting on a show of his own for them and for Ciela as well.

It occurs to him that Tetra could already be dead, and his efforts could be for nothing. He calms the wave of anger and panic that rises inside his chest, and when the ghosts finally drop the act, he lunges into the new game with that fear and desperation behind the swing of his sword. He plays by their rules to the end, clinging to the last bit of hope in his heart that Tetra is still alive and well.

His hope is rewarded with a trophy of cold stone, a hand that still fits into his, but which will not warmly squeeze back.

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