I awoke to see the sorcerer's face just inches from mine. His red eyes gleamed darkly, his pale face half hidden by his amethyst-colored hair. I screamed and my hands came up instinctively, pushing him away. I would have kicked him, except that my legs were pinned down. The weight on my legs was suddenly lifted, and they came up in a delayed reaction. I realized that Vaati had been sitting on my feet.
"I thought I told you to be careful," came his voice from above me. I didn't move my head to see him, even though he was out of my sight range. "She would have died if she'd been in there a few minutes longer."
The wagon. I remembered what had happened. I must have passed out from lack of air. As much as I hated to admit it, Vaati had saved my life.
"Your monsters," I said, sitting up and looking hard at Vaati, "nearly suffocated both Link and myself. You ought to take better care. It would seem to me that those wagons ought to have air in them...as you are a wind sorcerer."
"Yes," said Vaati coldly, "and it took a considerable amount of my power to revive you. I would think that you might be a bit more grateful, Princess."
Unreasonable rage flooded me, making my face flush. That was Impa's nickname for me! How dare this sorcerer use it? But a hand on my arm made me turn, and I saw Link shake his head slightly. Shaking with fury, I closed my eyes until I had calmed down. Then I opened them again and looked at Vaati.
"Don't," I said, my voice calm and level like Impa's had been, "call me Princess."
Vaati looked surprised. "Why not?"
"Because that's Masi's nickname. Because you don't deserve to call me that."
Now the wicked sorcerer looked amused. "I see," he said quietly, a smirk twisting his face.
I wanted to kill him. I wanted to take his sword and run it through his black heart for looking at me like that. Like he was better than I was. As though he knew more than me. The look he was giving me was an "Oh, Zelda, you're so stupid that it makes me laugh" look, and it made me want to kill him. And then he spoke, without moving his mouth somehow. "What a stupid girl. Surely she won't even try to escape! This will be very easy."
"Stop it!" Link shouted, jumping up ad grabbing my arms. I struggled, desperate to destroy Vaati. Link didn't let go. Suddenly, the rage just went out of me, and with it the surge of energy. I slumped back, weary from the traveling, the raging, everything that had happened these past two nights. Link dropped my hands, and I fell back against the ground.
Slowly I became aware of my surroundings again. "...No, that will be fine," Vaati was saying. "Take Pri—ah, Zelda, and Link there, up to the castle. Mind that you're careful with them. And tell Master Agahnim that I'll be there in a moment."
The face of a young Hylian boy appeared over me, perhaps a year older than I was. He was pale for a Hylian, but my mind somehow couldn't think that he really was pale. Not after having seen the complete colorlessness of Vaati's face. The boy looked worried.
"D'you think you can walk, then?" he asked me. I nodded and he helped me up. I stumbled, and Link caught me on my other side. I was ashamed that I had to be supported to walk, but it really was necessary. I knew that it wasn't really important whether or not I liked it.
The young Hylian boy led us to the steps of the castle. I looked at it, looming above Castle Town, dark and dismal, and found it hard to believe that Impa had once worked there, or that I had ever been there. The boy tried the door. It thumped repeatedly against the frame, but would not open. "Gahh!" said the boy, hitting the door with his fist. "Looks like we'll have to wait for Master Vaati to come unlock it."
I leaned against the door, and the boy looked at me cooly. "Is she really the one?" he asked without moving his mouth. "He'd never admit it, but Master Vaati's been wrong lots of times. I wonder what happened to those poor other Zeldas..."
"How are you doing that?" I demanded.
"Doing what?" he asked, alarmed. "Is she insane? I wasn't doing anything extraordinary."
"Talking without saying anything!"
Link looked at me oddly and edged away slightly. The boy stepped back. "Talking without saying anything? What do you mean?" "Sweet heart of Nayru, she is insane."
"I'm not!" I shouted. "Don't you dare say that! I'm not!"
He looked downright terrified. "Not what?" "How is she doing that?"
"Insane! And what do you mean? I'm not doing anything!"
Just then the door opened. Another boy, fully armored, save for his hawkish face, stood there. "I'm to show you to your chambers, Princess, Link." He said the last three words with a slight sneer. "Chambers? I've got better 'chambers!' And I doubt she's really the one—if she hasn't been found yet, she must be dead."
"Prison cells," I said, ignoring his use of my nickname, ignoring the rest of his ventriloquism. "You're showing us to cells."
He stepped back. "Yes..."
"I'll be going now," said the first boy, and ran off.
The other boy looked away. The he looked back at me. "A simple village girl..." He stopped silent-speaking as he looked towards Link. "...combination," he said as he looked back at me. Then he said, "Follow me."
He turned and walked quickly down the corridor. He was older than us, and taller than me by nearly a foot, and I nearly had to run to keep up with his long strides. Link reached down towards the boy's heavily decorated cape.
"Don't," said the boy without turning around, "touch my cape." Then he did turn around, his eyes flashing. "You two are now officially prisoners of my great master, Lord Aghanim, and you will treat all of his followers with the proper respect." His eyes settled on me. "She looks like a good, obedient girl, but the boy's a troublemaker. Hopefully, she won't cause any trouble. I suppose I'll have to keep a close eye on the boy. I'm always the prisoners' keeper. Curse Aghanim and all his sorceries!"
"Aghanim's a sorcerer?" I asked in surprise.
"How do you figure that?" asked Link.
The boy stepped back, his eyes fixed on me. "How did she know that?"
"You said it!"
"How is she doing that?" he said. "No, I didn't."
"You're the second person who's asked me how I'm doing that! I'm not doing anything!" I raised my hands and pushed him back, barely noticing the symbol glowing softly on the back of my right hand.
"Kerru kain," said the boy in awe, "you are the one."
"What does care-oo cane mean?" I asked, uncertain of the unfamiliar words.
"Sand queen, desert queen," he said. "Din save me, Vaati got it right at last." He reached out to touch me, and I stepped away, but he ceased before reaching me. "Kerrutake," he said, amazed, "where's that come from?"
He held his hands out, palms down. On the back of his left hand, there was the same symbol that had appeared on my right.
Link spoke up. "I've got it, too, only it never showed 'til I came to the village." He held out his hands as well, and I mine.
"Curious," I murmured. "I've never seen anything like it. It's a bit like three triangles, stacked up..."
"I've seen it," said the boy. "In this castle. There was some things, lokced up in a storeroom. That symbol was one one of them. Several, actually."
I looked at him, searching his face for more information. He wouldn't look right at me, and I didn't know why. Then he whirled and marched down the corridor. Link and I had no choice but to follow.
The room didn't seem too bad, so I went in, cautiously. Yet as the door slammed, the illusion faded away to reveal a tiny, damp, dark cell. There was a clunk as the door locked behind me. The look on the older boy's face was one of pity, but he put away the key, leaving Link and me alone in the darkness.
Link slapped the flat of his hand against the wall, making a sound like a cat's growl in the back of his throat. I sat down on the cold stone floor and rested my head between my hands. "How are we to get out of this fix?"
"I haven't a clue," snapped Link, "but let's do it fast."
We searched the cell, but there was nothing that offered us hope of escape. After a while, I was forced to concede defeat. I didn't know how we were going to escape, nor what we might do when—if--we did. Only one thing was clear: we were trapped.