Author's note: Hello everyone! I've been away for a long time again. Sorry about the wait but this chapter took me a little while with all of my finals and things to worry about. Now that it's summer, chapters should be out a little more regularly. I won't promise anything but I'll give it my best shot with the time that I do have. I've got a couple of other fanfic projects in the works as well as a full fledged novel, so my brain power has been split among all of those things. I'm going to do my best to bring quality work to you all and hope that you continue to read my stories.

Well I guess, without anymore further interruptions, it is time for chapter 25!

Chapter 25

The moon was sluggishly moving its way across the darkened landscape of Hyrule. Garith lay in the grass next to Link and Zelda, watching its celestial crawl. Quietly, he got up and walked over to a small hill that overlooked Lake Hylia. The light of the moon reflected off of the surface of the water and illuminated all of the area that surrounded it.

"The moon always could bring you out into the night…"

Garith did not move an inch. "Ralboru…why am I not surprised to be receiving another visit from you? I'm sure I know why you're here but, just to be clear, why don't you state your business?"

Ralboru, dressed in her black cloak, stood behind Garith. "He's getting tired of waiting for you, Nadrin. You need to finish this little mission of yours or we'll all be dead. I hope you haven't forgotten what he did to our people? The kind of power he possesses?"

"No…I know very well the price that we have paid for our ignorance and impudence. I will do as I have been instructed. Return to him now and tell him I will have his bounty within the next day. He can count on it."

"I hope you're right Nadrin. He is becoming increasingly impatient with your lack of progress. He is starting to believe that you are thinking of betraying him…"

"I have my orders…I will complete them…nothing more, nothing less. He may sleep in the assurance that his demands will be met."

"I can only take your word for it. For the sake of our people, I hope you are right…"

"For the sake of our people…I will do what needs to be go!"

Clouds began to cover the moon as Ralboru escaped back into the darkness. Garith was left alone again upon the grassy hill. Cool air started to blow from the lake, moving the clouds that were obstructing the light of the moon. The breeze flowed past Garith and he basked in it.

"Ah…a cool wind. If only for an instant…I can know its gentle caress…"

Zelda stood at the foot of her father's throne. It was made of pure gold and beautifully crafted with the utmost care. The seat was plush and stuffed with cucco down. It was one of the most beautiful things in the entirety of the throne room. Her father sat, rather elegantly, in the large, golden chair.

"You mustn't get so upset over these things, Zelda. Mistakes are things that you can make but never undo. You, however, did not make the first mistake in dealing with the skull people. If they wish to accuse us of something, then let them throw their accusations. I never ordered an attack on their people and neither did any of our subordinates. Their anger against us is most likely the result of blazing emotions after having suffered such an immense loss. We sent you in an attempt to reason with them and that is all that we can do. It is now up to them. However, if they attempt to attack us, we shall quickly put an end to them."

"But…but father, you can't mean that you'll kill them all. That's not what you're trying to say, is it?"

"If it is necessary, I shall do what needs to be done. This is the weight upon my shoulders; this is the curse of the monarch. Someday, you too will have to carry this weight. Only then will you truly know what it is like. Idealism is wonderful in concept but…our world just does not operate on those sorts of principles…"

Zelda dropped her head and looked at her knees. "I…I can't accept that, father. As the leader of this land, it is your job to protect those that live within its borders. If the skull tribe was to attack, our people would be in danger. That is why it is necessary to stop them before they attack by trying to soothe their pain, not increase it. Attacking them would only cause more sorrow and anger and the circle of bloodshed between both would only continue and…"

"And the only thing that can stop that from happening is peace…is that what you were going to say, little princess?"

"Ah, Garudus," said Zelda's father in a polite tone. "I'm glad you were able to join us. I had been told that you were busy with something and wouldn't be able to make it."

"Ah, yes…I took care of everything before I came here. Do not trouble yourself with it, Your Majesty."

Zelda turned to see a rather large and imposing figure standing behind her. He was dark skinned, amazingly tall, thin but powerfully built. His hands were rough and caloused. He wore black armor; a chest/back plate with thigh coverings and greives, and had blood red hair. That, however, was not the strangest part about the man. His eyes were a brilliant shade of blue. He looked at her and his eyes seemed to reflect her gaze back at her as if he had two mirrors mounted into the recess of his skull. Who was this man?

"Ah, yes, I don't believe that you have had the pleasure to meet my daughter, Zelda. She's just returned from a bit of a failed negotiation…"

"Father!" Zelda said in agitation.

"They say that failure leads to future success. You would do well to remember that in the future, princess."

Zelda, now annoyed with the condescending air that the man in the black armor had brought with him, stood and shot him a glare.

"And who are you to address me in such a manner? Why not introduce yourself before talking of successes or failures. How dare you address someone of royal lineage in such a way."

"And" the man said with a smile. "How dare you address someone of royal lineage in such a manner without introducing yourself."

Zelda glanced slightly sideways at the man. " you mean…"

"This man…" the king said with a sigh. "is the leader of the Gerudo people, King Garudus. He is here to discuss a peace agreement with our kingdom. There has always been uneasiness between our two peoples and we both wish to remedy this. Isn't that right, Garudus?"

"That is correct. Your wish for peace seems to have no bounds, your Majesty. You said you were attempting negotiations with someone else as well?"

"Yes…" said the king. "We were hoping to cool the tempers of the skull tribe after they suffered that terrible attack but…they just didn't want to listen…"

"Are you going to continue your negotiations?"

"I will." Zelda said. "I don't care what you think, father. I will find a way to soothe the anger of the skull tribe…somehow…"

With that, she turned her back on the two men and walked out of the palace.

Zelda awoke staring at the moon overhead. She sat upright in her small patch of grass and held her head in her hands.

"Ah…it was a dream. I had forgotten about that." She looked up at the moon with a blank expression. " I hope if my father is alright…I wonder if he's worried about me?"

Zelda stood and admired the moon above her. It seemed brighter out in the open expanse of the field than it ever did from the castle. The lack of light around her multiplied the brilliance of the glow that emanated from it. It was a true celestial beauty.

She looked in the small patch of grass around her and noticed that, while Garith was there, Link was not. Her curiosity got the better of her and she decided to go and look for him. He couldn't have gone that far away, could he? He didn't try to go to the Gerudo Desert without them, did he?

Now Zelda became worried. He was still in no condition to move that much, let alone fight. He needed more rest before he was fully healed. She frantically scanned the darkened plains around her, trying to find Link's silhouette in the dark. Just when she was about to give up, she saw a small black figure on a distant hill. She ran out into the field, hoping that the shadow in the distance was Link.

You have to get to the Temple of Time, Link! It's safe there! The sages can protect you! I'll be alright! Just GO!

Link shook his head, trying to rid himself of that awful dream. Was it really a dream though? How could it not have been? Nothing like that had ever happened since he returned to the past but…something wasn't right about it. It seemed far too real to be just a simple dream and what about that false Rauru? Was that just some kind of survival instinct born of hallucination from his loss of blood? None of it made any sense.

Link stood on one of the dark hills that overlooked Lake Hylia. He turned and could clearly see Hyrule Castle. In his dream, it had been burning. The whole of the castle town had been set ablaze. Everything was covered in fire or smoke and…that laugh…

"Ugh…my head hurts just thinking about it. What does it all mean?"

"Link? Are you ok? What are you doing out here, it's the middle of the night and you need to be resting."

Zelda had appeared at the bottom of the hill in front of him. Link was rather surprised that she had come to find him.

Link frowned and said "What are you doing here? You should be getting some sleep. You can't be ready for the battles to come if you don't get enough sleep."

"I could say the same thing to you. You're still injured, you know. You shouldn't be walking around like this. It's not good for you."

"I know I should be sleeping but…I just had to think some things through. That's all."

Zelda frowned. "Even so, you shouldn't be pushing yourself like this. You need to be at your best if you're going to be fighting. You know, I never even knew you could use a sword the way you did. Where did you learn?"

Link felt a bit slighted by what Zelda had said but, it did make sense. All of his sword wielding had been done during his past adventures. The only thing Zelda had ever seen Link do was deliver letters. Not even his exploits in Termina had any bearing on his life in Hyrule. She must have found his display against Breadon rather surprising.

What should I say? It's not like she would believe me if I told her about all of the things that have happened, everything I've done. Would she believe me if I told her I learned on my own? Well, I guess I did anyway but it's not like she would believe that I've actually used a sword in so many battles before…

"Well, I taught myself. I used to be a ranch hand over at Lon Lon Ranch before I moved to the castle town and started working for your family. I learned so that I could defend the ranch from bandits like the ones that attacked us today."

"So that's where you learned it from. You fought that bandit quite well, so I was curious. You know, with skills like that, you could have easily become a Hyrulian Knight instead of a mail runner."

"Hm, that's true but…then we wouldn't be on this fun little adventure, would we?"

Zelda walked up the hill and stood next to Link, watching the moon crawl by.

"It's so beautiful out tonight. I wish that this land could remain as peaceful as this all of the time. However, I can feel the evil…its chilling caress poisoning everything that it touches. I'm afraid of the future because I believe that it may be painted with the blood of many innocents."

"Well, that's what we're going to try to prevent. I know my main objective is to get Malon back safely but…I can't just let that man Palick do whatever he wants. I've met the Gerudo before. They may be thought of as thieves bu the outside world but they have a strong sense of honor within their clan. I don't know what they did to deserve being overtaken but…I've got to help them. I owe someone that…"

Link stared into the dark sky above him and let his mind wander back into the past, back to when his journey to save Hyrule was so daunting. It was in the Gerudo Desert that he had met Nabooru. He had helped her before and she had helped him. There was a mutual bond of trust between the two of them and, while he had no specific debt to pay, he couldn't deny his kinship with her and her clan. They were allies and they needed his help.

"Well, I'm going back." Link said with a yawn. "I need some more sleep before tomorrow. You should rest too but, I'm not going to tell you what to do. You can decide for yourself. Goodnight, Princess."

Link set off back into the dark field leaving Zelda alone on the hill by the lake. Neither knew it, but they were both thinking the same thing:

Will I be strong enough tomorrow?