Twelve years ago, a young King and Queen brought their newborn daughter to the naming ceremony, a festive occasion involving the entire kingdom. Colorful banners lit up the gray halls of the castle and the streets of the town, days in advance. Puppeteers pandered to young and old alike, and innkeepers uncorked their finest wines. The kingdom's subjects, running the full spectrum from very rich to very poor, streamed into the ceremonial arena from the far reaches of the kingdom.
The nervous young couple, dressed in fine embroidered clothes and jewels, presented their baby swaddled in silk to seven sages. The Sages brought the baby to a small, intricately carved table in the arena, where they bowed low and prayed to the Goddesses, their dancing shadows cast by fires burning in great torches surrounding them. After several moments of tense silence, the Sages lifted their heads and announced that the Goddesses had revealed to them the name of the child.
"The baby's name," they spoke as one, "shall be Zelda!"
Pandemonium broke through the arena. The Queen blanched and fainted, and had to be caught by her handmaiden, for the King had gone green and seemed ready to collapse himself.
The sages bowed their heads before the royal couple and said, "We foresee great trials ahead for this child, as the cycle of the Triforce shall turn once more in her lifetime. It is for this reason that we invoke the name of the first Wise One, so that her wisdom may be passed on to her namesake."
These words gave no solace to the royal couple. For both knew that a Queen who gave birth to a Zelda would have her life cut short, and the King would lose his wits before the child reached adulthood. The entire kingdom cried tears of despair that day, for they all knew the history of that cursed name and its bearers, which for centuries had been doomed to suffering, loneliness, and tragedy.
That is the story I was told on my twelfth birthday.
On that day, my education switched from the usual things you would expect royalty to learn – palace etiquette, the history of one's country, the languages of the outlying provinces, a tiny bit of archery for exercise – and focused almost completely on the nature, use, and history of our national treasure, the Triforce.
From the beginning, the Sages attempted to drill into me the helplessness of my situation, the curse that could not be lifted. It was my duty, they said, to be able to use my own piece in order to direct the Bearer of Courage from the sidelines, once the Bearer of Power emerged from the shadows.
My parents, they said, had attempted to fight the curse to no effect. My mother had eaten only the most nutritious foods, had quarantined herself away from anyone with so much as a cold, and refused my father in the bedroom to annul completely the threat of death in childbirth. Yet she still fell ill when I reached the age of two, and died a few days afterward.
My father passed what free time he had with strategic games, teaching me to play chess. He insisted on speaking with the provinces' delegates in their native tongues. He dabbled in architecture and trigonometry. Yet when I reached the age of eleven, I noticed that my wins at chess did not come because of my skill, but out of the slow degeneration of his mind.
The Sages told me that each Zelda before me had tried to prevent the inevitable, with always the same result. The first Wise One had managed to escape the castle when the Evil King made his move, and had roamed free for seven years, but her fate caught up with her when she revealed her true self to the Bearer of Courage. Another ancestor had sailed upon the seas in an attempt to put as much distance between her and the Bearer of Power, but she ended up stumbling upon him anyway. Yet another had stayed in the castle after the siege, when the attacker showed with a different face; she later learned that the Bearer of Power had manipulated this other man from outside.
Our kingdom had seen many tragedies, but the Triforce quandary was restricted to those with the cursed name. Each member of the Royal Family's main line bore the mark on the back of their hand, but it only awakened and shone gold upon the cursed ones. The day it first revealed itself would be the start of all my troubles.
Along with all the lessons, the Sages peppered me with questions to determine if my mark would soon awaken. They dissected every dream I had, searching for divine visions. They would not allow me to wear gloves, even in the dead of winter. They quizzed me every time I met someone new, asking if I could sense any hint of ill intent.
Finally, when I turned sixteen – my father now on par with the royal jester and my mother's grave beginning to grow mold – I felt my eye suddenly drawn to Jenner, a close friend of my father's. I neither liked nor disliked Jenner – he was not a bad man, though he and I did not have much in common. There was some talk of marriage, even though he was ten years my senior, I guess because my father knew he was losing his mind and wanted to make sure the royal line continued. I had the right to choose my own husband, but I had not expressed any preferences so far.
But when I turned sixteen, something within Jenner changed dramatically. I remembered the story of my ancestor who had dealt with the Bearer of Power acting in the guise of another person, so I watched him. I did not tell the Sages. My Triforce mark had not changed, and no one else seemed to suspect him.
I did not keep my silence because I doubted my senses. Standing by my mother's grave, I could hear the voices of the other Zeldas crying out within my soul. They begged me to break the curse, so that all of them – still living within me – could finally find peace. To do this, I had to follow my own heart and mind. How could I refuse such a request? My own heart, wrapped in the shreds of the broken souls before me, cried out for closure.
I will not surrender to the Bearer of Power. I will not deny my bon d with the Bearer of Courage. My name will not decide my fate.