A/N So I'll start how I usually do…sorry this took so long to get this chapter out. I almost waited for Christmas to post this, but I knew the second I finished it, I should post it and not wait a minute longer. Now for some fun facts: I started this story back in highschool, I graduated college two weeks ago…I feel very old. Fact number two: this is my first story to ever reach 500 reviews, that's just crazy. The first chapter of this story got 4 reviews originally, and I remember thinking that hopefully I'll break 100 reviews by the end of the story. Never did I imagine 500 reviews. You guys are all awesome, seriously, I don't think I would keep up with this story if it weren't for your guys. And I always say this, if you want updates on chapter progress, just send me a PM. Be polite though, sending me something saying, "Update already" is not going to get a response. Also, don't get your hopes up, I can't tell you how many times people ask me my progress only for me to respond, "Oh yeah…haven't started it yet." I always respond, although many of you know, it might take me a while to actually get to that response.
So about this chapter, it's more stuff in the village, I know it's getting boring at this point, I know I've done it too much about relationships and whatnot. I know everyone is dying for this war to come, so just bear with me for one last chapter, the war begins the next one, and I really mean that. It won't be people sitting around talking about the war, it will actually be fighting, a whole lot of fighting.
Ganondorf's son Dareios, and his mistress Aara, stood behind the Desert Lord on the balcony overlooking the stadium the tournament took place in. It was the second time he was going to address the public, and people were fighting for seats. According to politicians, he was slowly gaining popularity among the people. Punishing a few Gerudo soldiers who had claims raised against them by citizens was well worth restoring peace.
All the Gerudo traders entering the city brought a new culture on the people, and trade was booming in the city—raising the economy more than it had been in a long time. Ganondorf also lowered taxes on goods, spent some of the late King's treasury on rebuilding the city, and reconstruction was carried out swiftly and efficiently. The faster the people got back to their old lives, the faster they wouldn't care about how Ganondorf rose to power. Why would a baker care about who the king was when he had three kids to care for? He wouldn't, it's that simple. Kings used to rise and fall all the time, and people only care briefly when it remains relevant. Once it stopped affecting their life, they didn't care anymore. That's why Ganondorf made sure to fix the city as fast as possible, and made sure the people weren't put out in the process. Anyone that needed food was given it for free, and they all had places to live. The homes that were rebuilt were done so in a more modern process to make the homes more livable. Some buildings were centuries old, and were falling apart. Being rebuilt was a good thing to many people.
Sure, they were still angry and upset, but that's because they felt like they were supposed to be. That was the talk of the town. Partly because, people simply spoke, and they always would. Partly because, the morality they learned as children was to remain loyal. Ganondorf was anything but dumb, and he knew good deeds spread good rumors, and good rumors turned into accepted truths. Treat a hundred people well, and those hundred people tell two hundred people how they were treated. It's a simple premise that has worked endlessly throughout history. It was why he spent all these weeks on building his popularity and reputation. Paying for people to write about him in good ways, make speeches about what he has done for the city, and best of all, the foolish people who simply didn't care at all. Now that he had gained favor, and there was at the very least a debate about Ganondorf's good intentions or not, he could drive the final nail home.
It was all too easy, and it was all going exactly to plan.
He raised his hands and waited for the crowd to quiet down. "My good people!" He started and there was a series of loud cheers mixed with some boo's—it used to be mostly booing.
"My good people!" He said again before really starting. "I know you live busy lives and I am not here to take much of your time. I simply want you to hear what is going to happen from my mouth personally. As you have seen, many Gerudo have entered this city. To some…that scares you. I told you the truth that they were here to help rebuild the city and then leave. Well, the city has made great strides in rebuilding, and although it isn't completed, it is no longer necessary to keep so many Gerudo soldiers here. So, I bring you good news. This week, all these soldiers that have made you so worried…are leaving!"
There was a unanimous cheer that resounded throughout the entire stadium. Ganondorf waited for it to calm down before he spoke again.
"I know that relieves you, but let me add to this good news." He paused for a moment to let the people become more anxious to what he was going to say. "The Gerudo soldiers leave for a purpose, one that I have been concerned with for a great while now. I wanted to make sure the people of Hyrule were taken care of first, because I know that's what she would want over her own safety."
The people were quiet as they started to realize where Ganondorf was going with his speech. But they didn't say anything, in fear they were wrong, in fear that all their hopes would be mislead. So they stayed quiet and waited for Ganondorf to continue.
"Gerudo soldiers leave for one purpose…to save Zelda!" Ganondorf roared. An enormous cheer erupted that was so loud, it felt like lighting cracked right in the stadium itself releasing the earsplitting thunder. "Save her from the savage barbarians! From that monster, Link, who stole her from her chamber and carried her over his shoulder out of the castle. Like a wild monster looking for his prey, Link is a savage that must be stopped!"
Ganondorf paused to allow some of the cheers to subside. "I am sorry it has taken this long to march on Ordon, but preparation breeds success. Now, we are ready, and I will personally lead this war against Ordon!" Even more cheers erupted hearing him make his statement. "I will make sure that Ordon pays for what they have done. I may have wronged you, but it is for a greater cause, one that I hope you see happening as each day goes by. I swear to you, people of Hyrule, you are in my best interest. I want to make your life better, I want to make everyone's life better! But Ordon…they steal her away, why? To save her? I would never harm such an innocent lady Zelda."
Ganondorf paused and hung his head sadly—a great performance that any actor would be envy of. "It keeps me up at night what those barbarians may be doing to her. But I know she's alive, I have confirmation, and if she's alive, she can be rescued. And by the grace of the Din. We. Shall. Rescue. Her!" Ganondorf threw his fist into the air which was followed by even more cheers. "I urge any knights to join my cause, I will not force anyone to fight. Gerudo caused this and Gerudo will fix this. I will fight this entire war with my own army if I need to, but I hope there are people in this city that will join my glorious cause to rescue the fair lady Zelda. There are many skilled Knights in Castle Town, join me! Join me, for glory, for honor, and for the Zelda!"
Everyone was too excited in the news to notice that Ganondorf never once said 'Princess Zelda'. She was no longer a Princess now that he sat on the throne, and he wouldn't give her the gratitude to add the title to her name. It meant he was not the proper one for the throne, and he needed to stop out that line of thought before it even began. But no one cared about that, they were all too excited to know that their darling Princess – the girl they've never met, only seen from afar, but raised to love her, and instructed to care for her – was being rescued.
Ganondorf stood there and accepted all the cheers and applause for a moment. Then he turned and disappeared back inside with his son and lover following after him. The Desert Lord's face once again became stoic, showing no pleasure in just having succeeded in the final act necessary preceding the war. He was gaining popularity with all the people and he just sealed it even further. Anyone else would be giddy, but Ganondorf expected this all, and therefore was not surprised in the least how things were playing out. So why would he show happiness? It was expected to go this way. The seeds Ganondorf laid years ago have come to fruition. Now, only to pull those Ordon weeds and then he would control the fruitful garden of Hyrule.
The large Goron clenched his fists as he glared at the four elders soaking in their bath. They looked completely relaxed as Gerudo poured more steaming water into the shallow pool. The desert men had an assembly line formed from the carts that held the large jugs of fresh water.
"This is madness!" Dangoro shouted at the Elders.
"Calm down my son," One of the Elders replied with a deep sigh.
"You have let dozens of Gerudo into the mountain!" Dangoro exclaimed.
"They simply offer us gifts and understand that no decision has been made."
"These are bribes!"
The main Gerudo Emissary was standing by ready to jump in when he needed to. "King Ganondorf understands how this may appear, but I assure you, these are simply gifts to show what our trade can bring to you. The desert oases have some of the freshest water in the Kingdom and we can easily transport it to you."
"How do you keep it so warm?" An Elder asked.
The Emissary pointed at the cart, "The cart is made of iron and it has a second level where we can put wood and set a fire underneath to keep the water warm the entire travel. It's safe, I assure you, and only of the simple mechanisms we will be happy to show you."
"I beg you Elders," Dangoro didn't stop trying, "See through his blissful lies. They offer us many good things but to join Ganondorf so easily isn't right. He murdered our last ally and we have no rebuttal? We simply join the new King without question?"
"Would you prefer we join Ordon?" An Elder inquired. "They have the world against them now and it will be turned on us if we join. Is it not wise to join Ganondorf?"
"I know how-"
"Pardon me, General," The Gerudo Emissary cut off Dangoro, something very dangerous indeed. "You do not need to make any decision hasty, but Hyrule will go to war with Ordon. If you wish to remain neutral, King Ganondorf understands and no there will be no ill-will against you. Of course, if you do join our glorious cause to unite the nation, you will gain extra favor among the King."
"That sounds like you really aren't giving us much choice," Dangoro growled.
"Dangoro, the Zoras are already considering favoring Ganondorf," An Elder said before letting out a deep sigh when a Gerudo soldier poured fresh water over his back. "The alliance between the three kindred of Zora, Hyrule, and Goron has not changed in centuries. If those Zoras are respecting this, then maybe we should as well."
"I beg you Elders, you need to strongly consider what is happening. How many Gerudo are now on our mountain?"
"They are fixing the roads, implanting new irrigation systems for fresh water, and giving your wise-man detailed rock findings to benefit all Goron diet. We are simply helping." The Emissary explained.
Dangoro snorted and stormed away frustrated. This was no new tactic of war, it was very common. The Gerudo offer everything they could ever want. They give the Gorons what they need and help better their society. To do this, the Gerudo need to bring in more men to keep up with the work, men with certain specialties to help further research, and of course, soldiers to guard all the Gerudo on their long journey. This was not help…this was occupation. They were taking over, and Dangoro knew he couldn't be the only one upset. He simply had to find the others who were.
Queen Rutela, her son Ralis, and their ever faithful – if not a little trying – protector Pisces were in the Queen's study. The two adults were telling old stories and Ralis was having the time of his life listening to them.
"My mother did not steal a gecko!" Ralis cried out referring to the amphibious animals Zoras ride instead of a horse.
"On my honor," Pisces laughed holding up his hand flat. "She didn't want to sit for a portrait so she stole geckos and rode away. It took me hours to catch up and drag her back."
"Mother!" Ralis exclaimed. "How could you."
"Technically, I owe all the geckos so it was mine to begin with." The Queen retorted.
"She refused to smile for the portrait and the artist was told to paint it exactly as he saw her, so the portrait has her with this huge frown. You have to see it," Pisces informed the Prince rising from his chair. "It's in reading room next door."
"Yes!" He cheered excitedly and dashed through the door into a side reading-room.
"I hate you," The Queen narrowed her eyes at Pisces who bowed elegantly in return before entering the room that Ralis went into shutting the door behind him.
The Queen sat behind her desk laughing quietly to herself at the conversation that just transpired. She heard a knock on the door, but before she acknowledged the person, the door swung open. Albsta – the untrustworthy councilor – strolled in with the Gerudo Emissary quickly after. They shut the door behind them.
"My Queen-" Albsta started but was immediately cut off.
"I did not say you could enter!" The Queen shouted as she jumped to her feet.
"Formalities my dear, we wish to-"
"Pisces!" The Queen screamed with fear in her voice. Someone walking into her study unannounced like this was not a good sign. She did not trust Albsta even a little bit and certainly not the Gerudo Emissary.
The Reading Room door flung open as Pisces flew into the Study. He instantly faced the Zora and Gerudo with his knees bent and his right hand gripping the handle of his rapier that was still in its scabbard. There were a couple yards between Pisces and the two intruders.
"That was unnecessary," Albsta held out his hands, "My Paranoid Queen, we are simply here to discuss matters."
"I promise no harm," The Gerudo stepped forward.
"Do not take another step," Pisces warned.
"Do as he says," Albsta warned the Gerudo, "That old warrior has a lunge that can reach over twenty feet. We're in his range, he could kill us before we even see him move."
"Frightful." The Gerudo swallowed, noticing what he thought was the large distance between them.
"Mother?" Ralis called out from the other room.
"Stay there!" Rutela shouted. It was clear to everyone she was still afraid.
"We just wanted to talk," Albsta assured them.
"Then talk from there," Pisces ordered.
"You do not have the authority to command me," Albsta huffed.
"This sword says otherwise, and if that isn't enough, the Queen of the Domain is standing behind me not you."
"It is okay," Gerudo bowed, "I have not taken offense. I was rude to enter upon you in such a way. Let me say my piece and then I will leave you to your day."
His statement had false politeness as all emissaries seem to have. "Go on then," The Queen commanded.
"Albsta has informed me of the sickness that is spreading through the Domain," The Gerudo started. "I am aware it seems to grow worse as time grows. I have inscribed the symptoms in a letter back to the desert. Our scholars have done research and apparently this sickness is nothing new. It appeared long ago in an epidemic, which is frightening in its ability to sweep through an area so quickly. Luckily, we have recorded the antidote in our history books. I have asked our scholars to ready the supplies, and we can have it here within a week. We can immediately cure anyone who is ill from this sickness, and prevent it from spreading further."
"This is joyous news Queen Rutela!" Albsta exclaimed.
"It's strange how this sickness was very rare until your arrival," The Queen directed at the Emissary.
"My Paranoid Queen-" Albsta started.
"Do not call me that!" Rutela yelled.
"My suspicious Queen," Albsta corrected with a sly smile, "You accuse our guest of something that is unfair. This sickness has been around for some time, with no end in sight. He is offering us an end to it."
Rutela scoffed "Yes, the Gerudo will provide their own medicine men to oversee the process, assuring it goes smoothly. They will need to cart the supplies here, that requires riders, stable-boys, carpenters incase the carts break down, and let us not forget the soldiers as well."
"For protection on the dangerous road," The Emissary defended.
"But of course," The Queen nodded her head.
"I cannot believe you are this hesitant on the matter," Albsta accused. "We have a cure!"
"It comes with the beginning of occupation!" Rutela shouted back.
"That is absurd!" Albsta yelled, throwing an arm. "How dare you accuse our honored guest after they bring us a solution.
"I will think about it, now get out," The Queen strongly demanded.
Albsta bit his words and bowed leaving. The Gerudo did the same, with a smile of course, as always.
Pisces relaxed and turned to face the Queen. "You should've stayed in control."
"I couldn't help it," The Queen admitted.
"They would not be so brass to attack you like that. You did not need to lose your cool."
"I know," The Queen deflated into her chair.
"Mother?" Ralis stepped into the room, "Are you really going to refuse that offer."
"It's complicated," The Queen sighed. "The sickness is spreading, but we had it under control until that Gerudo got here. It can be no coincidence. Our own medicine men have determined the origin of the disease comes from a fish in Lake Hylia that comes in contact with birds from the Desert. It is not the first we have seen it in our history as well. Ganondorf is as tactful as ever, finding the one disease that they will undoubtedly have the cure for to infect our population. Even better, the disease already affected us so they can make the claim that it simply worsened without having anything to do with them."
"You think that can actually happen?" Ralis seemed doubtful.
It did not go unmissed by the Queen, "I know it seems I am paranoid, I know. But…in times of war, every possible option must be contemplated. Now, could you two please leave me to consider this matter alone for a moment?"
"Certainly, Your Highness." Pisces bowed.
The two left the room so the Queen could think over her tough decision.
"I know the rumors, Pisces," Ralis looked up at his mentor. "I know they call her the Paranoid Queen. Only Albsta calls it to her face though."
Pisces crossed his arms, "All Royalty is paranoid."
"Relax," Pisces smiled gently at the young Zora. "She is not crazy. Everything she said makes sense back there and I am glad she is wise enough to understand what that Gerudo was attempting to do. She may be slightly paranoid, but it comes with a reason. There have been three coup attempts against her, it is obvious there is a party of Zora that do not like her, Albsta is blatant in his lust for the throne, and the oncoming war makes everyone paranoid. I do not blame her for how her mind thinks."
"Okay," Ralis nodded, "I just-"
"I understand," Pisces put his hand on the boys shoulder. "You do not need to worry, I can assure you. Your mother is perfectly healthy."
"Thank, Pisces," Ralis smiled.
"Anytime," Pisces returned the smile, "But I do want you to be more careful. I don't want you walking around alone. Always have some guard you trust, okay?"
"Is that necessary?"
"Hopefully not." Pisces glanced behind him out of habit. "But you can never be too sure."
"What a dick." Blaine commented.
"Seriously, complete asshole," Troy agreed.
"I know, he's dreamy isn't he?" Malon cooed.
"Mhm perfection," Ilia swooned with her.
The two boys looked over at the girls to see their soft eyes staring at who they were talking about.
"No, he's horrible, just look at him," Troy pointed.
Zelda walked up to the ground, "What are we talking about?"
"The worst person in the entire world." Blaine answered.
"And who is that?" Zelda inquired.
"Gentilesse." Troy snorted.
Zelda turned to see the Knight currently surrounded by a plethora of little girls. They all giggled as he spoke with them, and it was clear they all had a crush on him already. One small girl held up a little flower she picked.
"By the Goddesses," Sir Gentilesse exclaimed holding a hand over his heart. "My beautiful lady, to offer me such an extravagant gift from someone so majestic—oh words cannot describe the happiness in my heart I feel. I must be the luckiest man on this fine world, to see such wonderful eyes shining at me. Oh like the stars themselves, they sparkles with refined truth, and shine with exquisiteness to truly resemble the loveliness of my fair lady. Please, tell me your name, I must know. To go another day in this world without knowing my fair lady's name is a day I would rather suffer the deepest fires of hell. Not knowing your name for one minute more would be like taking an arrow to the heart. Please, my lady, grace me with your name."
"Rebecca," The girl answered shyly.
"By the moon—no—the sun—no all the stars! This is the greatest gift I have ever received from someone so beautiful. I pray to the Goddesses to make me worthy of such a wonderful lady to offer me a flower of such beauty it is only rivaled by the presenter itself. May the stars shine down on such a pretty lady vow, with my sword, my shield, my heart! That I will always protect the righteous—the beautiful. That is my vow! That is my honor! That is my duty at a knight! I will make sure that Rebecca, my beauty, I shall fight for you. I swear this oath on your beauty and for all to witness."
"Such a dick."
"Seriously, complete asshole."
Zelda laughed quietly to herself. It was expected for them to think that way, and she wasn't surprised to see how Sir Gentilesse was acting either. It was pretty typical of him to act in such a cliché. Knights were nothing like all the stories that one would read as a child. Zelda use to swoon over Knights herself as a kid, and she was even happier knowing they were serving her. So many little girls wanted to be a princess where a knight would fight for her. She was lucky enough to be able to actually have that. As she grew up, she learned they weren't nearly as chivalrous as they are written about. Not that a knight was ever rude to her, but she heard stories. She knew how her father complained about some misbehaved Knights, or Hyrulians made formal complaints against them as well. It took her a while, but she understood they were Hyrulians just like everyone else. They may have an oath, but it didn't necessarily mean everyone followed it. It is partially why she liked Sir Gentilesse. He always went out of his way to play the role of the honorable Knight. She knew it was a complete façade, and it was extremely misleading to his ability to kill anyone who opposed him. But for this moment, for those little girls, it reminded her of why it was good he acted the way he did. It made Knights appear as they would in a story, and it gave the Hyrulian Knights an honorable name.
That being said, she knew in the adult and real world, he was not nearly as well liked. Especially around here.
All things considered, it wasn't going nearly as bad as she thought it would. There were definitely some tensions, and fights broke out almost daily. But no serious injuries occurred between the two parties…not yet at least. Some Knights did move into the vacant cabins that belonged to deceased Ordonians. Some did camp out outside the village, but they always made sure to stay in the plains. The defense of Ordon was constantly being worked on. The gate was reinforced even more and a fence around the gate was constructed of large tree trunks dug into the ground. Any craftsmen with the Knights offered their services to help, and the biggest help of all was the blacksmiths. A lot of armor needed to be mended, and new weapons needed to be made. Spears and arrows especially—those would often only get a one-time use out of them. There was always something to do and Zelda couldn't help but notice the village was becoming more and more crowded as time went on.
Even nearby farmers or hunters that didn't live inside Ordon, but near it, came flocking in packs. They knew the war was coming, it was in the air, and they didn't want to be stuck outside when it started. Zelda knew it was common for farmers, hunters, or everyday people to come and fight for a village like Ordon. It happened elsewhere in the land as well, but it was slightly different when it came to Ordon. She was shocked by how skilled a 'farmer' was in combat and she had to remind herself that anyone associated with Ordon generally meant they had their fair share of combat expertise as well.
It was good though—all things considered. Bitter enemies working together—she was expecting far worse things to occur. She was even happy to see some friendships sprouting up among the villagers and Knights. It always started with liked interests, same type of weapon, favorite food, trading some armor or clothes…and alcohol. That always helped. Sometimes it made it worse, but the one thing Zelda could never comprehend was how two guys could get drunk, fight, then become friends afterwards. She gave up on trying to understand how the male mind works in that department, and was just thankful that they came out as friends. Giant feasts were held outside to feed everyone and it became almost a party every night. It kept spirits high, and bonded everyone more closely together. To say everyone was completely close to one another now was a false pretense, but it was getting closer to that point. But what mattered is how everyone would act once the war arrived, that no one could predict.
"Hey." The grouped turned around to see Link stroll up. The iron sword and Master Sword were still on his back.
"Nice greave," Troy commented at Link's shin guards.
Link glanced down at the ugly, brown, thick guards. "Yeah, weight training," He held up his arms to show he had matching arm guards. "What you looking at?"
"Gentilesse," Swooned Malon.
"Oh pretty boy?" Link remarked.
"You're one to talk," Ilia shot back.
Link ran a hand through his hair, "Whatever do you mean."
"Aren't you training with Rusl?" Blaine asked.
"He had to oversee some of the training tactics. Apparently melding with the Knights isn't going as smoothly as people were hoping." Link pointed to Rusl who was currently conversing with Bo, and Sir Gentilesse was heading over in that direction as well—now that the little girls left him alone.
"Are they trying to do strategies together?" Malon asked.
"Would be for the best," Zelda answered.
"Theoretically," Link agreed, "but takes a lot of work. Rusl and I were talking about it and we both agree that most likely soldiers just need to follow orders. The people who really have to get together are the people in charge. Let's say Rusl tells all the Ordonians to back up the Knights, and Gentilesse tells the Knights to charge, all the soldiers will do just that. The Ordonians won't charge over the Knights and the Knights would try to make the Ordonians go first. See what I mean? That's why Rusl is came back, he wants to strategize will all the primary players."
"So shouldn't you still be training?" Troy asked.
"I want to get the shield I'll be using," Link replied, "I have been using different ones to practice with, but it would be best for me to get prepare with the actual shield I'll be using. And Kess told me the other day that he had been working on one for me, and it should be ready today."
Suddenly, a Knight came running from the messenger bird house. Ordonians kept hawks there, but the Knights had their own pigeons to use. When the Knights came, they left some scouts all over to keep their ears to the ground, and watch the world. Information was often the key to all wars and especially the antebellum period. The Knight ran up to the ground where Sir Gentilesse, Sir Natorux, Rusl, and Bo were standing.
Link gave the group a look and it was clear something important was happening. The six teens headed over.
"What is it?" Link asked.
"Gerudo army is moving." Rusl replied.
There were some looks given, but no one reacted loudly. They didn't want to attract any more attention than the group was already getting, and they couldn't be too surprised either. They all expected it eventually.
"What else?" Link pressed.
"Our scouts report that the Gerudo army is moving through Lake Hylia and is heading east."
"They could be moving to reinforce Hyrule?" Sir Natorux advised his commander.
"No, Sir," The messenger spoke, "Our other scouts report that a massive body of troops has left from Castle Town. A mixture of Gerudo and Knights, the message said."
"This is it." Sir Gentilesse turned to Bo, "This is the start."
"How long?" Zelda asked.
"An army that size? Hmm." Sir Gentilesse thought, "Travel, camp at night, unpack in morning, only making a few miles a day. Then when they get here, they will have to set up their own defenses, so couple weeks at least until actual battle."
"About that, aye," Bo concurred.
"Then, we still have some time," Zelda breathed easier.
Bo turned to the Knight,"I'm glad you had your scouts still deployed. Call them home now, it is too dangerous to stay out in the plains. If they get captured, they will be tortured until death."
"No I'll keep them there," Sir Gentilesse replied evenly and didn't miss the look Bo gave him. "You know all those rich merchants that want their sons to become knights so they buy their son into the program? Well, I sure as hell don't want those mediocre knights in my battle lines. They'll probably get their allies killed, so I make them scouts. That way if they're captured, instead of being killed, the enemy will ransom them back to their rich families. And they don't know anything really anyways, they just report."
"I see," Bo replied stoic because he was actually shocked by how incredible of a strategy of that was. Sir Gentilesse was never one to underestimate, in battle or in strategy, and he was just reminded of that.
"I suggest we have a battle meeting." Sir Gentilesse said.
Bo nodded, "Get your commanders and come to my house immediately."
"Oh wonderful," Sir Gentilesse cheered, "I love your tea, I do hope you'll make some."
If Bo was taken off guard by the Knight's cheeriness, he hid it well. "Sure. Now get your commanders."
That seemed to settle the crowd a little bit, it was really just the initial shock that took them by surprise.
"Link? Are you coming to the meeting" Zelda asked the boy.
"No," He said strongly, "If the war is coming, I need to train a lot more. I'm not ready yet."
"Okay…if you're sure." Zelda eyed him suspiciously.
"You'll inform me of everything, right?" Link asked the Princess.
"Of course," She replied.
"Don't let them push you around," Link winked at her.
"Never do," She smiled back.
Link turned around and headed back to the forest, "Blaine, come with me."
"Uh sure," He jogged after Link. "Thought you had to train with only Rusl?"
"I have an idea," Link looked at his friend, "And it's perfect for you."
"Sounds interesting," Blaine grinned.
The two boys didn't speak the whole way to the training grounds with Achilles at their heels. The sun was starting to set and the final streaks of sunlight where cutting through the thick forest. It caused some denser spots in the forest to fall into complete darkness, but for two Ordonians with golden eyes, it wasn't a problem. Once they reached the training grounds, Link turned to face Blaine.
"So what we doing?" Blaine asked.
"Rusl has had me running through the forest once it gets dark out," Link pointed to one area that had numerous thistles and branches jutting all over. "See that spot right there? There's a path, can you see it?"
Blaine stared at it for a couple seconds and let his eyes scan the area, "Yeah…yeah I think I can."
"Run through it, without letting anything touch you." Link ordered as he walked over to sit down on a rock.
"Simple." Blaine smirked. He bent his knees and without hesitation darted in the direction. Once he got to the spot he could see that it wasn't a wall of bushes and branches, but they overlapped. He stepped to the left and immediately cut back to the right, then ducked low under a branch, and had to step further to the right, because swiftly darting back to the left…where his face collided with a branch and he fell to the ground.
"Again!" Link shouted. "Do it until nothing touches you."
"Alright." Blaine didn't give any sarcastic answers—he understood the importance in this. He jogged back over to the open center. "How long did it take you?"
"First try," Link answered.
"Not surprised," Blaine snorted, "Damn chosen child blessed by the Goddesses, I swear." Okay…there was some sarcasm still. But Blaine was taking it seriously and darted at the 'path' once more. He got farther, but hit another branch. He tried it again and again and again. It was the eighth time he got all the way through without anything hitting him.
"Good," Link picked up two shields off the ground, "Follow me."
They walked further into the woods, which were getting even darker now. Link stopped walking and pointed out another path.
"This one is moving," Blaine noted.
"Yes, it's the wind." Link answered.
The two boys stared at the makeshift path that normally no one else would consider a path. Add in the setting sun and growing darkness, it was impossible to see any sort of path. But these two could see it.
"I have never gotten through it without being touched," Link admitted to Blaine, "I don't think it's possible. I know that sounds like I quit, but I'm pretty sure it's an impossible task Rusl set me on. But you don't know it's impossible until you get far enough in it, which is hard enough on its own. But I have an idea, and we're going to run this together until we get through it without being touched."
"Sounds good to me."
"We do this right, and we'll crush any enemies in out path."
"Let's start then."
The two friends trained long into the night, both filled with powerful determination for the oncoming war. After each grew too tired to continue on, and their attempts were growing sloppy, they decided it was time to call it quits.
"So…pub?" Blaine asked with a cheery smile.
"How else does one celebrate the start of a war," Link smirked and wrapped a brotherly arm around his best friend's neck.
They walked through the forest, with the wolf following at their heels, going slightly slower with their body covered in aches and pains. They bantered like usual as if it was any other day, and war wasn't officially coming do their doorstep. Once they exited the forest, they both went their separate ways to clean up. Link stopped at the blacksmith to pick up his shield, which he forgot about earlier.
The blacksmith's lights were still on and outside there were more fire pits and weapons being made. Since the fire outside couldn't grow hot enough, it was for fastening the wooden spear handles to metal spear points. There were over a dozen people working, and making all types of different spears. It was an inspiring display, as they workers never stopped to make hundreds of these in preparation for the war. Even when the war began, they would continue working to make more and more spears.
Achilles waited outside while Link stepped inside to see a lot of people running about the forging area as well. They were mass producing swords, short and thick, long and skinny. They weren't pretty looking, but they would get the job done. Then there was Kess, the master blacksmith, bent over a blade and going over the final details. His were special order, and everyone knew to let him go about his business. To make him produce every day weapons would be a waste of his potential. He had already made Sir Gentilesse a new saber, as a welcoming gift. Sir Gentilesse, whether he really liked it or not, kept it on his person at all times. Kess was now making a sword for another Knight Commander, but stopped when he noticed Link.
"Ah come for the shield have you boy?"
"Yes, don't mean to bother you."
"It's right here," Kess lifted the shield from beside him. "It's exactly like you wanted. Can go lefty-righty, hidden sheath, strong and sturdy, but not heavy. And let's not forget the symbol. Try it out."
Link took the shield in his hand and admired it. The shape was the same as most of his shields he preferred to use. It was primarily a triangle with slight rounded edges, and three points on the top, with two dips in-between, resembling a crown. It wasn't big, nor was it small. Standing straight up, it would cover from his hips to his chin. The most impressive part of it was the design. There were two Ordon goat horns starting at the top and coming down the sides. Inside the horns was a wolf sitting, and howling up in the air.
Link looked at Kess with a smile, "How much do I owe ya?"
"Like I'm gonna let you pay me," Kess laughed, "Save Ordon, that's my payment."
Link gave one more thankful nod then headed out. He went home and placed his weapons on the table. He washed himself with a cloth and put some soap on it to scrub away the dirt. He put on clean clothes then headed out. He glanced over to see Achilles lying next to Epona. Those two had become good friends, but there was still some petty competition among them. Link swore he saw them racing before, and they often played in front of Link's house.
Link reached the pub and saw the usual table of his friends. He was happy to see Zelda sitting among them. When he saw she wasn't home, he figured she was out, but he was afraid she would be sitting with the Knights or other important people. He was happy to see her sitting among his friends, like old times before they knew she was a Princess.
"Hey," He greeted and sat down.
Troy pushed a beer in front of him, "Training go well?"
"I don't know," Link turned to Blaine, "What do you think?"
"Training and fighting are too different things. We'll have to see." Blaine answered before asking his own question, "You get your shield?"
Link nodded, "It's perfect. And the place was beyond busy."
"They've been making all kinds of spears for days," Ilia commented.
"I never knew the difference between them," Zelda admitted, "I know some you throw, and some you fight with, but I'm always shocked by how many there are." Zelda may be wise in many political ways, and even some war strategies, but the finer intricacies she still was at a loss a majority of the time.
"Well it depends who you fight for and what spear you favor," Link answered. "The Javelin, which as you know is made for throwing. They are skinny and long, and would break easy if used in close-combat. Every culture uses the Javelin as missiles, just like archers. But there different factions prefer different types of spears. For example: Knights tend to prefer Verutums or Hastas. They are primarily fighting weapons that you keep in your hand. Knights stay in a tight formation, and keep spears in hand when they get into a skirmish. Unlike Ordonians, who prefer Dories or Pila. Dories are strong study spears that can be fought up-close, but have a butt-point that can also be used as a weapon. The Pila is an ingenious spear that only Ordon has ever successfully created, and mastered throwing, because they are tricky to handle. They are heavy spears that – after impact – bend."
"Oh I know those," Zelda grew excited. "In all my studies Ordon spears have always been complained about, and I remember reading how Hyrule inventors tried to recreate them and failed."
Link nodded, "They impale shields and render them useless. You can try to pull them out, but it's not that easy, and you can't take those precious moments on the battlefield to try. You can't fight with your shield, because the spear sticking out of it makes it lopsided and hard to balance. So you need to cast it aside, which leaves you defenseless."
"It's so weird thinking how many different types of spears there are," Malon shipped her drink.
"There's countless types of swords, why not spears," Blaine countered.
"I guess that's true," Malon gave up her argument pretty quickly—not really caring for it anyways.
"Giving battle lessons are you, Link?"
Link only had to look at the scowl on Troy's face to know who was standing behind him. He turned around and tried to remain as polite as possible, even though this very same Knight skinned his mother alive, "Gentilesse, enjoying your drink?"
"It's wonderful," The Knight took a sip, "Always enjoy Ordon's great beer. I couldn't help hear your battle talk. You are indeed right, and I have to say, I really look forward to fighting on the side of Ordon this time."
"May I ask why?" Zelda tried to keep it civil, and she could sense Sir Gentilesse was about to give a compliment. She'd rather him give it and try to play the peace keeper.
"You do not know what it's like to see the Ordon army charge you," Sir Gentilesse took another sip of his beer, "Everyone else walks in formation, and makes sure not to break it. Then a volley of arrows and javelins are shot back and forth. The last second the pace is picked up on both sides, but it's never anything more than a fast walk."
"What does Ordon do?" Zelda asked.
"They sprint—full speed. They are still in formation, I really don't know how they manage it, but they always do. They rarely let you get the first attack in. Not only do they sprint, but they still manage to get a volley of javelins – excuse me – pilas at the enemy. It takes out the first line, then they smash it with full speed. It's almost impossible to stop it from happening."
"If everyone knows the tactic, why can't someone stop it?" Zelda inquired.
"How would you stop it?" Link pressed her.
Zelda thought for a moment, "…I can't think of anything right away."
"You can't," Sir Gentilesse chuckled, "You just take it and hope the damage isn't too horrible and pray to the strongest Goddess for protection." The Knight bowed, "I'll leave you to your night."
"I can't get that guy."
"I want to lick him."
Everyone stared at Malon, who sipped her beer and shrugged, "He's hot."
"You're a traitor," Troy grumbled.
"What's wrong, Zelda?" Link asked the Princess
"The strongest Goddess?" Zelda played with the hair, "That was an interesting question, don't you think?"
"Oh man…are we about to get philosophical?" Blaine whined and slouched onto the table.
"I think it's interesting," Ilia backed Zelda up. She was trying to treat her better and bridge the gap she put between them.
"So Ilia, who do you think is strongest?"
"Din." she answered without hesitation. "Goddess of power, the ability to crush anything that has ever existed. She has the power to beat the other Goddesses in a fight, even if she never would, but she clearly has the most power."
"I think it's Nayru," Zelda said proudly, "Strength isn't everything. If a small mouse can outwit a lion, then he can still win the fight. The same goes for people. I don't know that much about battling, but I know brute force and numbers doesn't win wars. It's tactics and strategies, so I say it's wisdom that holds the true power."
"Din," Blaine remarked half-heartedly, "Brains are great, unless you are trapped in a room against a giant. Be as smart as you want, it won't do anything then. For example: I bet we can all outsmart Gorons, but do we really want to fight one on a one-on-one. We would easily lose."
"Ahem." Link coughed.
"You know…except golden boy over there who beat one," Blaine rolled his eyes.
"General," Link corrected hubristically, "He was a General of all the Goron."
"You used his own weapon, if he just came at you with his hands you would've lost." Blaine accused.
"You mean…I used my brain against a brute and won," Link has a sly smile on his face.
"I quit," Blaine took his beer and chugged it, "I'll grab more." He stood up from the table and headed off.
"I say Nayru," Troy added, "A well placed arrow can penetrate the toughest armor, and the most skilled fighter still has the same skin as everyone else. Brains will always trump brawn."
"I'm with Nayru too," Malon agreed, "I think a really smart person can always win against anyone else. Having information is the most important part of battle, and that holds true for everything else as well. Think of any invention ever made to make life easier, like a watermill, or windmill. That's using your head, not your muscle."
"So Link, you're last." Zelda looked at him with a curious smile. "Din or Nayru?"
Link laughed quietly, "You're forgetting one."
"Farore?" Troy snorted, "What's courage going to do?"
"Courage is the most important trait anyone could ever have," Link told them seriously. "You guys are thinking too short term. Winning one fight, or trying to survive, then yes, wisdom or power is the way to go. But what about others? What about a village, or a town, or a country? What about being too afraid to fight, or do what must be done. What if you are the strongest fighter in the world, but you are so afraid of dying, so you never fight? What if you may have the best strategies in the world, but you are too afraid of friends dying that you never want to have anyone trust in you. That one mouse that can outsmart that lion? Don't you think he's a brave little mouse for trying? And there is nothing more powerful than one person doing something that they know they will not live from, but it must be done anyway. Maybe for someone they love, maybe for their town, or maybe to save the world. It's the courage a person has that makes them powerful. You cannot have any success with wisdom or power, without courage to back you."
"I swore I thought you were going to say power," Ilia said.
"Me too," Troy and Malon agreed in unison.
"Seriously," Link laughed, "All of you?"
"I didn't." Zelda spoke calmly and seriously with a genuine smile on her face. "You always find a way to surprise me."
Blaine sat back down with six new beers, "We over that conversation yet?"
"Yeah," Link laughed.
"Great," Blaine laughed, "So, let's play a drinking game."
"First one to finish their beer wins, go!" Blaine shouted and started chugging. Link and Troy quickly grabbed their new ones and started downing them. The girls just said there rolling their eyes at the boys.
"Done!" Blaine slammed the glass upside down.
"Done!" Troy slammed his down.
"Dammit!" Link finished last.
"Oh, did the poor boy have another philosophical rant brewing in his head." Blaine teased.
"I think he was too busy reliving fighting a Goron one time." Troy started talking like an old man, "When I was your age, I fought in a tournament, and I was a hero back in my day."
Blaine laughed loudly, "The Hero of Time, where he lives in the past."
"Here, here," Troy laughed along.
"I hate everyone," Link stood up, "I'll go get more."
He walked away from the laughing table and gazed over the room. There were a lot of Knights mingling with villagers, which was good. Currently, Vex was in a drinking competition against Sir Cruxus. Two big men in a friendly competition that involves drinking and betting. It was the perfect thing to bring everyone together.
As soon as Link reached the bar he felt a hand on his lower back. He turned around to see Zelda looking at him with a sad expression in her eye.
Zelda looked away for a second then back at Link, "Can we…um I don't know…never mind."
"Let's take a walk," Link smiled gently.
Zelda nodded, happy that he understood.
They walked out the pub without another word to anyone, Link someone sensed this wasn't a time she wanted people to know where she was. They walked silently side-by-side. Link gave a nod when they passed by someone, but the hour was late so the village was quieting down. There were still people preparing for the war, and those people were too busy to pay attention to Link and Zelda walking.
"Would you like to head home?" Link asked quietly.
Zelda shook her head.
"I think I know a place." Link gave her a kind smile.
They walked without words for a long time, with the only sound being their footsteps on the ground. They entered into the forest, but only a little. There was still an obvious path from people walking this way for years. The trees bent back slightly and all the brush was clear. Zelda recognized where they were heading and smiled.
Link felt Zelda's arms snake around his, and she leaned her head against his arm as well. Link didn't say anything, too afraid she would remove her arm. So he stayed quiet, and Zelda's arms stayed around his.
After a few more minutes of peaceful walking, they reached their location. It was the pool of water they swam in the day the Gerudo Emissaries arrived, revealing Zelda's true identity to Ordon. It glistened from the ray of light that shined from the heavenly moon. The only sound was the small waterfall cascading from the upper pool to the lower one.
Zelda released her grasp on Link and stepped into the water. She didn't stop, and continued moving further and further in. The water came up to her thighs, soaking her dress. She turned slightly to face Link and gave a mysterious smile. With the moon shining down and the water's mystifying reflection—Zelda looked as if she came straight out of a fairytale.
"I've seen countless paintings of women standing in water like this, how do I look?"
"Like a Goddess."
Zelda smiled as she ran her fingers across the top of the water. "Join me."
Link didn't hesitate to step in the water fully clothed. "Shall we go back up top?"
They made their way to the rocks and climbed up to the upper pool. Where they shared their first kiss and revealed some of their real feelings.
Zelda stood with her back to Link and facing the forest. Her dress was completely soaked now, and clung to her body as a second skin. Her shaped physique was always alluring to Link's eyes, but the way the water droplets rained from her hair, and how her hips rounded…she was beautiful to Link. But when she twisted her body to look at Link with her majestic eyes and gave him a pure smile; the true beauty shown that had taken Link completely.
Link stepped up to her and wrapped his arms around her. They lowered into the water. The cool air was becoming too much for them.
"I'm afraid," Zelda admitted.
"You mustn't say that."
"Curse the Goddesses," Zelda condemned shockingly.
"What's gotten into you?" Link inquired sincerely.
Zelda let out a small sigh, "This war is finally here. Every day it grows closer, but I guess I was hoping it would never come."
"That's a little too hopeful," Link gave her a comforting smile, "how else would you get your throne back?"
"Do I even want it?" Zelda's eyes were looking down the entire time she spoke, too afraid to look Link in the face.
"Why wouldn't you?"
"I don't know…the crown is so heavy, Link." Zelda tipped her head forward until it rested on Link's shoulder. "I don't even have the crown, but I already feel its weight. Is this the rest of my life? Dealing with stressful situation after situation, fighting wars, dealing with people I don't care for, putting others to war for my stead…Link, how am I supposed to live a life like this?"
Zelda chuckled morbidly, "That's not funny."
Link stroked Zelda's hair, "I know, I know. I'm sorry. You are going to make a great queen someday. You're just a little nervous right now, that's understandable."
"Link, it's not just that…"
"What is it, then?"
Zelda took a moment to respond, not entirely sure how. "If I get the crown…do I have to say good-bye to you?"
Link hugged Zelda tighter, "I don't know, Zelda. Maybe."
It caught Link off guard but he heard Zelda crying softly, "I don't…I don't know what I'm doing. I act strong, I act tough, I make speeches, but I'm not prepared for this. For war that's coming, for all the people who are going to die. And for what comes after."
Link couldn't help but question what Rusl has been implanting in his brain recently. That Zelda was using him, that she was trying to get him under her spell. Was that what this was? Was Zelda so good, that she was trying to hook Link more into her cause? It just didn't sit with Link, that Zelda could really be doing this all as some ruse to get Link under her spell.
"First off," Link started with some humor in his voice to try and cheer her up, "There's no point in worrying about what comes after the war, we have to win it first, and if we don't win it, then you really don't have to worry anyways because you'll be dead." He earned a small laugh which made him feel somewhat better, then he continued. "Secondly, not only does everyone think you're strong, I know you are. You have survived some terrible ordeals and have rebounded spectacularly."
"I'm not strong Link, I'm so weak."
"How can you say that? You are such a great example for everyone."
"Yes Link, I'm a great example for everyone, I'm this model that people look up to, but they don't really know me. Not like you, and you see the real me, and this is it!" Zelda looked at him with tears in her eyes and her throat closing upon itself. "What is so glorious about me? Why is a war being fought for me? Why am I so special? Is it my title? Is that the only reason?"
"Hope and a reason to live." Link answered calmly. "You give people hope Zelda. Ordon lost their hope when they lost the last war. We were a beaten people, a people that everyone looked down on, and you have given us another chance to show Hyrule why we are so proud to be from this little village in the woods. You have given us hope in a time when everyone was simply walking through the same old footsteps day after day. You are making new alliances, and crafting an olive branch to reach further than ever before. These Knights are not here just because of your title. I know, morally, many of them feel they are on the right side. The world isn't that wonderful of a place Zelda, but you have given people a reason to be alive, and want to be alive. They want glory and honor to tell their kids when they're old, that they fought with the Princess against all odds and won. Many Knights who never had a reason to actually be alive, who may have taken their position as a Knight as simply a job, now have a true purpose."
"I bet those fighting for Ganondorf are saying the same thing," Zelda huffed.
"True," Link rubbed her back gently, "There is no good and bad side in war. Only two different opinions. The Desert is probably more alive than it ever has been. They just became the power in Hyrule, and who wouldn't be proud of their race after that. I can't even consider Ganondorf an evil man. It isn't too hard to imagine me in his place."
Zelda pushed away from Link a little and looked at him with a hard stare.
"Hear me out," Link stroked some wet hair off her cheek, "I hated Hyrule for what they did to Ordon, and knowing what little history of Gerudo as I do, I know they were subjugated many years ago. They have been stuck in the Desert for their entire existence, and people have always thought of them as rats. The three kindred, Hyrule, Goron, and Zora have always bullied the Sand People and us Forest Dwellers. Can't you see Ganondorf standing up for his people, trying to make the world better for them? Wouldn't I do the very same thing to try and help better Ordon? There really isn't any other choice that won't take centuries. I came to Castle Town to cause trouble, and Ganondorf was going to recruit me to fight for him. That's how alike we are, that we thought I saw along the same line as him."
"Yet, you saved me," Zelda's eyes were curiously narrow.
Link gave a shrug, "Something in my gut told me not to go with the Gerudo. Maybe it was that amazing smile you have."
"Shut up," Zelda smiled despite herself and pressed her head back into his chest. "But he killed my parents."
"Sir Gentilesse scalped my mother alive," Link responded hotly, "Do I think Sir Gentilesse is an evil man…I wish I could think that way, but even if I hate him, I know he isn't evil. I killed an innocent Knight at the tournament, am I an evil man? How come I can get away with evil while still being considered a Hero in Ordon? Why can I kill endlessly and not be blamed for it, but when Ganondorf does it, he is called an Evil usurper?"
"He stole my throne."
"You know what I mean, Zelda, and I know you understand everything I'm saying."
Zelda nodded her head against Link's chest, "I do. That's why this world is so confusing, that's why I am so confused. I have to ask myself: am I even on the right side?"
"I don't think you have to worry about that." Link told her confidently.
"If I died when Ganondorf attacked, there would be no war coming. There would be no other options besides him. The Zoras and Gorons would've easily allied with him, and most likely, if he gave Ordon peace terms, you guys would have been more than happy to accept them. He would've united the nations in a way that my father desperately wished but never accomplished."
"Brute strength and power will never be strong enough to hold everyone together, especially when people only join a cause because their back is against a wall and they have no other option," Link answered wisely, "There still would've been boiling blood, and Ordon would still not like to submit to a King, something we both know Ganondorf demands. I can understand that Ganondorf may be trying to unite the nations, but I don't think he's so selfless. If he is uniting everyone, he is doing it so he may control everyone as well. You know better than I do, and you've told me and other's countless times. Ganondorf craves power, and that's his drive."
"He's always had some addiction to the essence of power." Zelda admitted, "Every time I've ever spoken with the man, he was bored and uncaring, unless someone or something's strength was brought into question. It's all he's ever cared about, and it's all he's ever recognized as important. He took place in Gerudo customs of competing day after day to be the best. That's all he's ever known, and it's understandable why he only acknowledges power."
"Unlike you, who has had to use her brain throughout her entire life," Link complimented her smiling.
"Or you, with your bravery—or rather stubbornness."
"Ouch." Link joked and felt Zelda hug him tighter.
There was a moment of silence as the two sat still in the water. There was no wind to brush through the leaves and there was no cracking of branches.
Zelda broke the silence after a while. "I'm really not that smart."
"Why do you say that?"
"Because I like you far too much," Zelda whispered so quietly, in a small hope Link wouldn't hear them.
Link pushed her back slightly and lifted her chin so her eyes would meet his. "Is that the truth?"
Zelda felt her heart pounding and her blood rushing, but at the same time it was hard to move. She knew all logic told her to say no, that she was confused, that everything was overwhelming her and she was finding peace in Link, but it didn't mean anything. She knew that's what she should've said, but even when her brain was telling her lips to form those words, they would not listen. She understood all the problems with what she said, and she knew there was no happy ending for the two teens. There was no possible outcome where they would be happy together, and the world would never understand. There was no way that this wouldn't end in heartbreak and every logical thought was swarming in her head to prevent it from going any further.
But she could only nod her head to confirm the disastrous truth: that she cared greatly for Link.
Link placed his lips onto Zelda's slowly and sensuously. She deepened the kiss herself, her lips matching his in slow movements, not stopping for air. This kiss felt different from the others. It wasn't filled with lustful heat and passion. The kiss was serenity itself, and at the same time, melancholic. Zelda found she began crying in the middle of it, and when Link stopped kissing her to brush the tears away, she only cried more. She found herself losing it inside, and starting weeping more.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she quietly repeated over and over.
"It's okay," Link spoke gently with calmly hands brushing her face. "Tell me your fears."
"I just…I…how can this end happily? I see no future where this will end well." Zelda was trying to control herself, but all her emotions were pouring out at once. "Even if everything goes perfect, we win the war, you come back with me to Hyrule, it will still be impossible for people to understand. But…but what if you die in this war?"
Link laughed loudly, "Wow, some faith you have in me."
"I'm just saying!" Zelda exclaimed, "People die, and you are a main character in this play."
"I'm not going to die, I promise you that." Link hugged her tighter.
"And what if I die?"
"If you die?" Link chuckled, "That means we have failed the war and I'm dead anyways, so really—no worries at that point."
"But what may be the most painful is if we win this war, I know you won't come back with me," Zelda gazed at his eyes and saw them soften with an indirect admittance. "See," She laughed bitterly, "You love Ordon too much, you love the people, and you belong here. Who am I do pull you away from that, and what kind of wench would I be to force you to live between stone? That can't happen, and so…so…there is no way for this to end well. And that's why we should never start it."
Link pressed his forehead against her's, "It's already started and there is no way to end it. I don't care if it's the dumbest and stupidest thing that two people have ever done. The way I see it, we have no idea what the future holds, and maybe in a month, we could be dead. So why sulk now about something we don't know. There is only one thing that matters right now."
"What?" Zelda looked up at his eyes.
"I like you more than I've liked anyone else, and you like me. That's what matters," Link cupped her cheeks in his hand and placed another sweet kiss on her lips.
Zelda pulled back from the kiss, "How can you not see how this will end?"
Link shrugged, "I don't really think that far ahead if you haven't realized that about me by now. Let's go to a tournament, ops revealed all my techniques, hey stuck in a dungeons, oh I'm free, now let's save the princess, well that didn't work out, might as well start a war." Link paused after that thinking, "You know…I really don't think I make any wise decisions. So hey, this can just be another dumb one."
Zelda slowly shook her head, "You're such an idiot."
"Sexy idiot," Link corrected.
"I just don't want you to die," Zelda wished sincerely, "After just losing my parents, you're the reason I have been able to stay this strong."
"I won't die," Link told her strongly.
"Okay," Zelda didn't sound sure. "I just…I'd be really sad Link. I don't care if I only have known you for a short time, it feels like forever, and I can't-"
"I'm not going to die," Link said it almost with an annoyed tone in his voice. "After how not broken up about your own parents, I thought you accepted death."
"That's different," Zelda countered "Yes, of course I'm sad, but I had almost no mourning period, and I still don't think it has completely settled. Once I get back to the castle, then I bet it sinks in, since I have no memories of this place with my parents, it feels fresh anyways. And when my parents died, I had to worry about survival, I couldn't focus on them, I had to push forward."
Zelda paused for a moment considering if she really wanted to ask what she was about to. "I was wondering...how you did you deal with your parents loss? I have this war to focus on, when you lost your parents, you lost the war as well. Ordon must've been a depressing place, and on top of it, you have to deal with your parents loss."
"Rusl." Link paused for a moment, "I owe it all to Rusl. I can never repay him for how well he's taken care of me. I was young, but I was old enough to understand what losing my parents meant. He came and told me. He handed me my father's sword and shield, and my mother's daggers. He told me they died in the war, and that he would take care of me from then on. He told me to come with him to his house."
"Mm." Zelda made an inaudible noise just to show she was listening.
"I was angry," Link confessed. "I was so bitter and mad. There were all these Knights walking around Ordon—occupying it while the terms of our surrender were finalized. I hated all of them. Rusl wanted me to go with him to his home, but I refused to move. I put down my mother's daggers, put on my father's shield, drew his sword – which I could barely lift – and begged Rusl to train me. Before that, I had some training with my father, but nothing major. I was just beginning to know my way around a sword. I knew right then, I wanted to be stronger, to stop people from dying, to prevent other people from feeling this pain, and Rusl was the one who would help me do it."
Link stopped talking and pushed Zelda back to look at her, "I know you don't get along with Rusl, and you think he's being stubborn. But you see, I know he wants only what's best for me. Because when I begged him to teach me to fight—he didn't say he'd do it tomorrow, he didn't say later. He drew his sword and told me to get into a stance. Do you understand that Zelda? He lost two of his best friends that very night, he experienced it first hand, he had to watch as hundreds of Knights bored into his home and stand guard. He had to deal with all that, and he had a wife who also just lost her friends, and newborn baby at home to care for as well. After such a horrible ordeal he just endured, he didn't go home to be with his family. He stayed up with me, well into the night, and trained me. I can't even fathom that, if Troy and Blaine died, how could I do anything else but moan? But Rusl stayed with me, correcting my stances, working on my footing, telling me how to grip my sword—all of it because he knew I needed to be occupied. He trained until I was too exhausted to move and then he carried me on his shoulders back to his home where I fell asleep. Then every day after, we trained, and did little else. Rusl was happy to be doing what my father would of done, and I was happy training."
"The Knights let you train right after the war?" Zelda questioned seriously.
"I remember they were scared to see Rusl training someone, he was one of the most fearsome warriors the Knights had to face, and now he was training someone. They weren't sure whether to stop it or not, and I didn't care if we were causing trouble. But I remember distinctly what one Knight said. He said, 'you want to stop them? Are you going to be the one who does it?' There was honest fear in those Knights looking at Rusl, and I wanted to be someone like that. I wanted to be strong enough that people didn't have to die, that just one look at me, and I could prevent a fight. That's what Rusl could do, that's what my father could do, and it's what I will be able to do after this war."
"I already hear some Knights call you the Wolf of Ordon."
Link smirked, "Could be worse names."
"Making a wolf fight alongside you will only make your name stand more."
"Making?" Link laughed, "You think I have to make Achilles fight? It's in his blood."
"Not all wolves are fighters," Zelda argued.
"True, but Achilles is actually a fighting wolf."
Zelda eyed him questioningly, "You say it as if it's his job."
Link shrugged, "I think it is." Zelda really looked doubtful so Link elaborated. "I learned about all this stuff as a kid, so forgive me if it's a little vague trying to recall it all. Everyone knows wolves live in packs. Well, in Ordon, there are many packs or wolves, more like clans. But, they all answer to one wolf—this part is mixed with legend so it is hard to say for sure. But as you saw when the Knights arrived, all those wolves howling and watching from the forest's edge, were from multiple clans. They come together in certain times, usually when the forest is in trouble. All wolves aren't the same. There are tracking wolves with really strong noses. There are runners, which are small but extremely quick. They run between the clans and deliver messages."
Zelda looked even more doubtful.
"I know, I know," Link admitted, "It sounds too civilized, but I'm telling you, in our history books, there have been people who documented their lives. One person was crazy enough to live with them for years, and he learned everything he could from them. They really are this intelligent. There also are hunting wolves that are the best at catching food for the pack. There are Alpha wolves of course—they lead the clans. There are scouts that have the best eye-sight, but they are small, and Troy admitted to seeing one. And of course, there are fighters."
"What's the difference between hunters and fighters?"
"Hunters are more like stalkers, they are quiet, they know how to sneak, they know how the forest works to their advantage. They aren't as big or as strong, and once they lose surprise, they aren't that powerful. Fighters…fight. They are the biggest of all the wolves, they know how to stalk and hunt, but they really are the best wolves when it comes to an actual fight. I think that's Achilles. No other wolf would fight a boar, and he's a pretty big wolf too. He knows how to fight people, not just attacking vital spots, but knows how people move. I've seen him, and he understands how other creatures fight or run. He really is a killer, and that means he's perfect for a war."
"But he's so cute."
Link shook his head, chuckling, "Don't ruin his furiousness."
Zelda rolled her eyes and then pressed her head back against his chest. "Just promise me you won't die in the war."
"I won't." Link answered confidently, the worry was honestly far from his mind.
Ilia was already in bed, but she wasn't asleep yet. After Zelda and Link disappeared at the bar, her friends only stayed for a little bit before dispersing. She left soon after and went home. She stripped her clothes and climbed into bed. She lay there waiting for the nightly ritual to occur. It was something she hated as she grew older, but she understood that there was no point in stopping it. It happened every night and she use to argue against it. She tried to fight it, but she realized how important it was to him.
She heard her father's heavy footsteps nearing her door, so she quickly shut her eyes and evened her breathing. The door opened and Bo stepped as quietly as he could to her bedside. He leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead.
"Good night," He whispered and exited the room.
He kissed his daughter good night every night ever since she was born. In fact, Bo wasn't able to sleep until he kissed his daughter good night. Even when Ilia would sleep over at Malon's when they were children, he would still kiss her good night before she left, even if it was in the middle of the day. It was something he always did and would continue to always do. If anyone knew the cost of losing someone close—it was Bo. He loved his wife more than anything in the world, and when she passed, it was Ilia that helped him keep his sanity. Now, it was his daughter that he cared about more than anything. Every kiss good night meant she was still here with him, he knew that wouldn't be forever, so he cherished every day that she was.
After he left her room, he poured himself some tea and sat at his table. He rested his elbows on it and folded his hands against his chin. He looked at his little teacup on the table and thought about how many times he was made fun of for drinking from such dainty cups. All the people who told him how soft it made him look, but he liked that he grew soft. He would never admit it to anyone, but being able to worry about simple things like goat's not producing milk, or a wild animal here or there was a blessing. He remembered the last mayor that had to deal with the war, and he remembered the stress and angst it put him through. Every casualty in the war, the old mayor blamed unfairly upon himself. Bo understood it all too well, and he knew that when people started dying, people would turn to him and the decisions he made.
Bo took a sip of his tea and placed the cup back on the table. He needed to become tough once more, and harden himself for the oncoming war. For if he didn't, there would be no way he could survive.
I want to thank all you amazing reviewers again, you guys truly are something special. Sorry this chapter was boring, it was actually really different on the first draft. There were lots of fights and arguments, and people were even severely injured, but I realized I was trying to force action and it didn't fit. I still think this chapter doesn't flow well, you can see obvious breaks when conversations just take sudden tangents. After reading the whole thing, I almost wanted to rework the entire thing, but I decided not to. I want to get this chapter out there – for better or worse – it's done and I can move onto the more important chapter. Te start of the war, and I promise, the next chapter will have a major battle. Also, is Zelda really strong or is it all a front and she's slowly crumbling on the inside? You guys think Link's first real battle will be successful and he kicks ass, or is he in for a rude awakening? I wanna know, so leave a review, they're greatly appreciated.