AUTHORS NOTE: Lengthwise, can I have some feedback? What do you reckon is better, long chapters or shorter chapters? Anyway, this has been kicking around for so long I'm stumped what to do with it. Any feedback would be appriciated, I'm not very happy with this chapter, but I can't place why.
Should mention that I'm going by the map shown on the Wii version of Twilight Princess, not sure if it's the same for Gamecube.
"I will be all right, Link. I will be waiting here with the children until you return! So...don't worry about us, OK?"
-Ilia, Twilight Princess
South of Hyrule Field lay the quiet land of Faron Woods. In the peaceful secluded village of Ordon, two humans stood by the singing stream outside their home in the warm tickling sun. There was never a day in Ordon in which the sun didn't shine, where birds didn't cherp and bees didn't buzz. (The nights didn't count.) It was a peaceful place but bursting with life. It always seemed so far away from the other lands where markets ruled and peoples lives were always just that too short to do everything.
"Now," explained Rusl, a gray mustached man with kind eyes that rebelled against the evil he'd seen, holding his sons body in place, "keep that stance, and lead with your elbow." Golden haired Colin nodded, and slowly raised his arm up and over with the crafted wooden sword. "Yes," Rusl cheered, "now, with that movement, step back with the right leg."
Colin swung the sword up as he stepped back, so quickly he almost fell over. He stumbled, swung his arms wildly and was caught in the nick of time by Rusl, who laughed and then patted his embarrassed sons shoulder.
"You'll get there."
"Colin, that was so close!" came Beth's excited voice, standing beside the bridge. Colin turned a light pink, thanking Beth quietly under his breath. Rusl only smiled.
"Go join your friends if you wish."
"No, I mean, can I try this again?" Colin asked, a little flustered. "Er, if you don't mind, Beth..."
"Not at all!" Beth gasped, "I find it fascinating!"
Since they returned home, Colin had been determined to become a stronger man. An odd sense of determination was over him, the kind that wasn't fleeting, and the kind that wasn't until the novelty ran off. Colin wanted to be a warrior, a defender of his friends and family. He also wanted to live up to his icon, Link.
"They've gotta be hidin' somewhere, waitin' for their helpless little prey to come out. Then they'll FEAST!" Barnes said viciously, but with a throat soaked in fear.
Talo pressed himself harder into the Shamans robes, who explained completely peacefully, "we are safe as long as we remain in here, child. Be at ease."
Removing his mask with a scoff, Barnes went on, "oh yeah? I wonder if the monsters out there agree with you... they sure didn't seem impressed by my bombs! How long do you think we can hold this sanctuary against beasts that strong, huh? Once they attack, it's OVER!" Clueless of the children's increased trembles, Renado's darkening looks, Barnes could no longer control his irritation. Colin couldn't bare to cover his ears, the tension and the fear making his hairs stand on end, his mind and heart pulsate ever louder, ever faster. "Remember the lady from the general store? Just one of those things attacked her and a whole gang from town went to save her! And what happened?" he asked, dramatically, as though upon snapping point, "She was already gone, and there were TWO monsters waitin'!" Beth shivered as though the fear was a freezing rain, menacingly sliding down her spine. She was terrified. "...You connectin' the dots? That means that if we get attacked by them, then we'll be..."
With an even worse unnerving snap, Renado cried, "BARNES!"
Barnes flinched, perhaps not used to this tone in the Shaman, but understanding one thing. This was serious. Everything he poured from the quaking depths of his heart was true, and Renado knew that. But, the children didn't, and Renado didn't want them too. What was worse, their inevitable futures or the naiveness of it all?
Beth exploded into heavy sobs, to afraid to cry loudly in case being heard, but too traumatized to not cry any longer. Once she started, she couldn't stop, and she prayed someone would muffle her, for heavens sake don't let the monsters hear! However, Renado only cast Barnes a disappointed look, ashamed of the tale-tale and ashamed of himself and his own inability to do anything, his inability to lie and tell the children it was going to be okay. For once, the Shaman wanted to lie. Colin watched the Shamans brows crease his forehead like the chasms in his confidence at trying to find the right words to tell the poor sobbing girl beside him that there was nothing to cry about.
Everything after was a blur of smudged images and emotions, from Barnes requesting somewhere else to hide leading a pitfall of worry into Colin's stomach; the sudden serge of hope hearing about a cellar, and then the plummeting anxiety of Luda explaining that the cellar was already purged.
"Don't cry, Beth! It'll be OK." Colin said, his voice high. He reached out to hold her shoulder, like he wished someone would do for him, but she shoved him away and bobbed her head towards Renado. He was an adult, he knew more, she had to get answers from him, no one else!
As she continued to sob, and the skeptical looks came from the two boys who never accepted him into their lives, Colin blurted out from the deep of his heart, "Link is coming to save us all!"
Beth peered up slightly, her soaked eyes full of need. The faces and heads perked up suddenly, lantern like hope illuminating the desperate faces. With all eyes dependant upon him, Colin tensed, shy, but kept talking. How did he know this? the eyes asked. "... I can feel it." he answered, avoiding the skeptical eyes because he felt like it sounded- silly. But he knew it was true, and whilst Talo could scoff all he liked, Colin felt the tingle in his bones and jumps of his nerves that wasn't cold or fear induced, but trust and faith induced.
Little less than two hours later, the sun rose behind a boy in green.
"Excellent!" Rusl grinned, as Colin blinked and realized he had just managed a vertical slice- perfectly! "Excellent!"
"That was amazing, Colin!" Beth said, clapping her hands together with a consecutive bend of the knees.
Colin smiled brightly at them both, red rising in his cheeks once more. He could not get it out his mind, how simply by saying Link's name their faith was restored. How one figure, one person, had such an effect upon others that he could introduce hope into sheer disaster. What Colin wanted, more than anything in the world, was for his name to sooth the anxiety's of his friends and family's hearts.
"Take a break, son." Rusl said, motioning towards Beth, "I need to speak to your mother for a minute."
"Alright, Dad." Colin said, stuffing the wooden sword in his belt and joining Beth by the bridge. She smiled a huge loving smile at him.
"That was really cool!" she said, "You're really skilled with a sword."
Colin scratched his head, embarrassed, "well, it was just one move..."
She shook her head, "oh no, the vertical slice was the hardest for Link-" her eyes dropped, filling with sadness, "... I... I wonder when he will come back..."
"Me and Ilia are writing a letter," Beth said, suddenly with new enthusiasm, "do you want to say anything in it?"
"A letter to Link?" Colin asked, "How are you going to post it?"
"The postman hangs out in Fado's goat barn." Beth said, as casually as one might when discussing the bizarre habits of the postman, "I'm sure he'd deliver it for us."
Grinning, Colin said, "of course I would!"
Laughing, Beth grabbed his hand and they ran up the gentle hill towards Fado's goat field. There were twenty large blue round-horned goats, nineteen grazing, one with Fabo holding onto its reins and the two boys squabbling over it. As Beth and Colin ran towards them, they could hear the conversation.
"I'm oldest, I should go first!" Talo snapped.
"I'm the established businessman, who is intending to sell this product, I should go first!" Malo replied.
Colin asked, "what's going on?"
Fabo scratched his head, "I had it in mind, that these goats are strong enough to ride, some of 'em, so I asked the boys, as this would be a children's thing, if they would test it out for me."
"A children's thing?" Beth asked, tilting her head questioningly
"Yeah, like, carnivals have horse riding circuits, and we haven't any horses, I figured we use the goats!" Fado said, brightly. "It'll bring in some more money for the village, as well as visitors. We could do tours, also-!"
"Hm..." Beth said, "I guess it would be a good idea for visitors to come here." then she smiled, "but you two," she pointed at the brothers, "you're fighting over goats?" she started laughing loudly, "that is so funny!"
"Of course we are!" Talo frowned, "Mam will kill me if he hurts himself."
"I have bodyguards." Malo muttered, avoiding the others with his eyes.
"Well they're not here, are they?" Talo hissed, hands on his hips, "if you fall off a goat, you'll hurt yourself!"
"Why..." Colin said, and then with more confident in his voice, he asked, "why doesn't Malo go in front so he can reach the horns, and Talo sit behind him to make sure he doesn't slip?"
The two brothers looked at each other, weighing up the pros and cons silently. They never agreed if they could avoid it. "I... I guess so." Talo said.
"If I must." Malo sighed.
Fado grinned, swiftly picking up the limp youngest (who emitted an unheard: "Don't touch me") and placing him on the goats thick shoulder blades, and placing Talo right behind him, giving him the reigns.
Beth gave Colins hand a shy little squeeze and hotly breathed into his ear. "You told them!"
He smiled at her, moving his head away to speak, "well... it made more sense."
They both paused long enough to catch bits of conversation as Fado lead the goat around the dirt track.
"You're sitting too close."
"I can't reach the reigns, otherwise!"
"If I don't, you'll fall off, fatty!"
Beth and Colin grinned when they heard a thud against the ground, including a small groan.
"I'm not fat."
Ilia emerged from the barn, the postman behind her, looking at the curious scene, spotting Beth and moving towards her.
"Hi Colin. He said he'll wait for us to write one," Ilia said immediately, and she sat on the ground with a piece of paper and a pencil between her fingers. Beth lay down beside her, Colin on her other side. The postman moved towards Fado, engaging in conversation as Talo planted himself beside Colin and Malo slowly trudged between him and Beth.
"Ilia, you have the neatest handwriting, you should write it." Talo said.
"I want to write it." Malo said.
"You can't write, not yet."
"I can write- and organize important business finances."
After a pause, Talo said, "Yeah, but this is a letter, stupid." and he stuck his tongue out.
"I've an idea," Ilia said, catching the circles attention, "if you wouldn't mind, I could write the body of the letter, but we could all sign our names and leave a little message each."
"That's a good idea!" Beth said loudly, and with enough force to convince the boys.
"Are we all agreed?" Ilia asked them in turn. They all nodded at her, Colin pausing long enough to see the sadness in her eyes, the paleness of her face, only noticed by him because he spent so much time with her. When the others thought it was a trick of the light, Colin knew she was worried about Link. Who could blame her? Link was her best friend, and she hadn't seen or heard from him for... weeks.
In a circle on the withering grass, the Ordon children lay in attempts to write a letter, and Fado, while in conversation with the postman, looked upon them fondly. Ordon was a place he wanted others to visit, for in Ordon was a united spirit, a comforted friendship, beautiful nature, and an example to show the world.
"What business does a human have coming here? None!"
- Dangoro, Twilight Princess
Inside the Gorons throne room, leading to the mines, torches had been lit all around the walls to let in as much light as possible. This mainly served to make the room considerably hotter and less comfortable. When Link and Zelda arrived inside, the stands were spectators usually sat to watch a sumo match were filled with elderly looking Gorons, in capes of a gentle blue. In front of the entrance to the mines, guarded by two tough looking Gorons, a long table plus chairs were laid out, Darbus in the middle with two elders either side. Opposite them on the other side of the sumo ring were two chairs, a small table and a speaking stand.
To Zelda, it looked just like a court room, not unlike the ones she herself had been judge in. To Link, it resembled more of a sumo circle, and he was certainly not keen to take part in this fight. He did not forget that he was a sworn brother of the Gorons, even if Zelda might have forgotten it. Heck, did she even know? He didn't remember telling her.
Link hesitated to sit, since really, whose side was he on? But since it appeared Zelda's side of the room had two chairs, he immediately sat in one of them, glad to be off his feet. Zelda remained standing, keeping her eyes on the Gorons at all time. Only when Darbus said: "Please take a seat." did she sit beside Link.
"Your Highness, we are willing to discuss this situation with you." Gor Coron said, "after all, the castle was built by us originally, to see it fall like so is... well... shameful to us. Yet, we know how it was constructed, we have the prints and we know that the castle did not just collapse. So, what happened?"
Talk about getting straight to it, Link thought, but then the Gorons had never been time wasters, and their idea of pride wasn't sweet talk.
When Zelda spoke, her voice was laced with an intimidating confidence, "Thank you for being so understanding. The castle was constructed by a joint effort, humans, Gorons and Zoras alike, all uniting their strengths to create a pillar of unity. To see it fall has caused sadness to everyone in our land of Hyrule. Yet, you ask what happened, and whilst I am bound to give you an answer, I cannot say more than I already have. The castle collapsed."
Darbus spoke next, "if we need to show you the prints, we shall, because the castle did not just collapse."
Zelda tried to raise her head high, but every time something heavier and harder weighed back down, and she found she could not meet Darbus's eyes. Nothing physical was holding her back, it was just looking at him that caused a horribly sick feeling churning in her stomach, so strong she could have doubled over. She wasn't afraid, surely…
"I suspect the foundation may be uneasy. Due to the sudden increase of water flowing from Zoras Domain, it may have flooded the sewers and caused the ground to weaken." Zelda suggested, forcing herself to act normal, "I have ordered an investigation into it."
"And how soon will that take?"
"A week at most, I am sure." Zelda replied.
The elders nodded at one another. Gor Amoto spoke next, "It sounds, your Highness, that you could use our help."
"Yes, I was hoping we could combine our efforts once more and repair the Castle." Zelda said with a perfectly controlled voice, betraying no urgency. She wanted out of this room, out of this discussion, out of Darbus's accusing eyes.
"So... perhaps we can discuss why you didn't come to help us in our time of need." Gor Amoto said, "after all, we were hoping to not seal our patriarch in the mines, but in the end we had no choice in the matter."
Zelda didn't falter for a minute, "I did receive your letters, eventually. Prior to that, I had sent my men to Lake Hylia on their monthly inspection to check the Spi-!"
"But now, we asked for your help," Gor Coron said, hissing the words like a foul memory.
Zelda spoke, causing several Gorons to exclaim in surprise. "I was confident my men could handle it, once they returned."
"Your Highness," Darbus said, rather coldly, "Our brother is the only one who managed to force himself past us. Not even your men would have managed against our might."
"You speak as though you had already decided you would not get help." Zelda said, causing the Gorons brows to furrow in anger. Link simply found the matter ironic, that the Gorons had not scouted for themselves, otherwise they might have seen broken bridges and monsters in the fields. Then, Zelda would have no choice but to give them the truth, and things would end up working out a lot better than how this was going.
"You try us?" Gor Amoto demanded, "you dare try to spin your tale when you ask for our help?"
"Gor Amoto!" Gor Liggs gasped, hushing his hasty friend. Even he wasn't so foolish as to strike against the Princess of Hyrule directly.
"Are you trying to say that we are at fault?" Darbus asked.
"Only as much as I am." Zelda replied.
To Link's surprise, Gor Coron chuckled. "You have your fathers wit."
But Zelda did not emulate his humor. "I can only apologize for not properly acknowledging your need. However, if I apologize and walk away, I would still have to return and request you help rebuilt the castle. I ask that we leave the past behind and move forward."
"It is not that simple. We are under no obligation to help you." Gor Amoto said.
"Seriously?" Link asked, for the first time. "The Gorons hold a grudge?"
"Brother, we are not servants to be picked up and dropped off whenever one feels like. You cannot be a friend, abandon us, and then pretend it never happened because you want a favor." Gor Coron said, sadly. "We have been betrayed. We are not to be played around with."
"The most I can do is apologize." Zelda said.
"No, your Highness, you can swear to never abandon us again." Gor Amoto said.
But she never abandoned you in the first place. Link frowned.
Zelda spoke as gently as she could, though to Link it sounded like she was a little angry. "I would never intentionally abandon any of my people."
The Gorons glanced at each other, sensing they may have struck a nerve. Gor Amoto spoke again, hotly: "Be that as it may, you did not intentionally come to our aid."
Link spoke then, "why are you still arguing this? Why can't you move on to the topic at hand, repairing the castle?"
Gor Amoto explained, "we are trying to figure out why we should. It is of no concern of ours."
With a deep breath, Zelda said, "I am sorry. I am sorry for not coming to your aid. I am sorry for not sending my men to help," even though they would have achieved nothing, both she and Link thought.
There was silence... complete silence... before Link decided he had had enough. If Zelda was not going to be honest with the Goron's, they were never going to agree to help her, and the rift between them would only grow. He could tell just by the Goron's glances at each other that they were not satisfied.
"The Princess did send help." Link said, calmly as his heavy pacing heart would let him, "she sent me. What her Highness is neglecting to tell you is that Zora's domain was frozen, and the Zora people were in grave danger. She was too preoccupied with saving their lives to assist yours directly. That is why I came."
Zelda watched him, trying desperately to keep her shock hidden. She had not predicted Link to do this! And so badly did she wish he hadn't.
"What... exactly... was wrong with Zora's Domain?" Gor Coron asked, curiously.
"It was frozen over..."
"Not exactly," Zelda sighed, "You are aware of the death of Rutela, once Queen of the Zoras?"
"Yes, we did hear about it." Darbus said, finally. "A letter delivered by a messenger only three weeks ago."
"That was due to an attack by a set of Bandits. Then the Prince, Ralis, went missing. That is why I had to put the Zora people first." Zelda explained, honestly wishing Link had not spoken. She was laying lies on an unsteady foundation now. It only took some casual questions between Zoras and Gorons to discover she and Link had tricked them, and that would certainly doom relationships between races for a long time. "I am sorry to concern you with this, I had honestly hoped that I could repair that damage also."
"I am more concerned with why we had not heard about the Domain situation. Of course, we were preoccupied with our own problems, yet..." Gor Coron said, "... and why did the young Prince not think to inform us..."
Zelda spoke quickly this time, "Ralis is only young, and I believe still mourning his mother's death. He has probably not thought of much else."
"Indeed..." Gor Coron said, "... I think... if your Highness would allow the council to discuss this amongst ourselves for a little while? Brother, you may join us if you wish."
A queezy feeling had come over Link again, oddly about the memory of chasing Rutela's ghost through the graveyard in Kakariko. "If... if I may."
"Is that what you want, Link?" Zelda asked him.
"Yes, Princess. As their brother, I should really be taking more of a role within their community." Link said, hoping that he could communicate the real message behind his eyes. I can help influence them. I can cover my mistakes.
"Well," Gor Coron said to the circle of Goron council members, "I feel a little hypocritical arguing with the Princess. With all due respect to you, Darbus, the Zora's Domain situation sounded a lot worse than we imagined. I do not feel like I can blame the Princess for prioritizing them."
"No... not if she did send our Brother to aid us. Perhaps it was the best she could do." Gor Liggs agreed, "Although why she did not think to tell us this is still a mystery to me."
Link realized his opportunity and jumped at it, "Well, she... um... she is actually quite ashamed of how little she could do to help your people." He feared he might have made a mistake when he received every confused glance back at him. "You know... she controls a very mighty army and still couldn't help you out..."
"Yes, but we have gathered why." Gor Amoto said.
"Hang on, Brother. Maybe what our Brother means is she still feels like she should have done something. Just like her father, she intends to take on a multitude of demanding tasks at once and finish them all expertly." Darbus said, "She does have a great deal to live up too... and it sounds like a lot to take on the week before her coronation."
"She is the future Queen, she should be able to handle it." Gor Amoto hissed.
"She is only human, Gor Amoto," Gor Ebizo said.
Link couldn't help but grin bitterly. He was only human. He saved the whole of Hyrule. What was that, Faron said? Chosen by gods? What did any of that mean?
"Only human and still a little girl." Darbus agreed, "A girl who had to grow up very fast. I do forget myself, sometimes..."
Glaring, Gor Amoto asked, "You're going to help her, aren't you?"
"... yes. Yes we are." When a chorus of sighs flew around, Darbus spoke loudly, "We are. Our lands are divided enough without us causing havoc. We are slowly mixing with the humans and spreading out over land, no longer confined to this mountain. I will not sacrifice our progress over this small matter, you all know we cannot survive on this mountain for long. We can negotiate with the Princess to encourage our development, not hinder it. My brothers, we have to grow."
Link hid a small smile. Things were getting better. And perhaps this bed of lies would last.
"Brother Link, we will discuss with the Princess our next move. You are welcome to stay or leave." Gor Coron said.
"Erm, what would you like me to do?"
Touched at the question, Gor Coron said, "I would like you to go down the springs and get some rest. You look like you could collapse at any minute."
"But these aren't real men, they just run around aimlessly."
-Kakariko Villager, Ocarina of Time
As night began to fall and Telma's bar began to fill for the evening business, she busied herself with wiping down cups and tallying up the costs. Whilst she did not look it, or act it, Telma has a nack for maths and as long as she kept on top of her books her business would always be alright. No missing crates of wine, no uncounted profit. Louise purred beside her, the only friend Telma had in the bar at the moment. Her four warrior friends had not returned yet.
In a way, it was good. People weren't generally aware of Telma's acquaintances, and so she kept her private life private. She didn't make it known to everyone that she was an active member of an elite group. Who would have believed it anyway?
Currently the bar was fairly empty. Soldiers and servants frequently came here after a days work to relax and socialize properly, and Telma always let them in peace. Perhaps since most men were assigned posts around the castle so wouldn't be able to have their beer tonight. Only a few people entered her bar that evening. Right in the corner, at least eight people in cloaks were talking with their faces covered as much as possible. Telma couldn't help but watch and listen with curiosity. A secret group? Gossip or plotting? Was it serious?
"Our princess' new beau is certainly no gentlemen. He looks like a common goat-herd with all the temper of a drunkard."
"Hang on, he is a guest, not her boyfriend."
The man snorted. "Guests do not sleep in the Royals corridor in the room beside hers!"
So, Telma thought, these guys must be servants of the castle.
"You mustn't say those things!" hissed another voice, "the soldiers will have your head for it! You know how fiercely loyal they are to her."
"I wonder why."
"Hold your tongue you foul man! You should be ashamed of those thoughts."
"I fear you are rushing into accusations which could cause serious harm. You can't prove anything you say, so don't go spreading it."
"Of course I won't!" he hissed, drinking his wine quietly.
After a quiet moment, one asked, "so, how do you think the Princess is doing with the Gorons? It's been all day." Telma's ears pricked at this. She always felt thankful for her better than average hearing.
"Well," another said, "how can they refuse? She is still their ruler."
"I don't know, she seemed pretty concerned about it."
"… they can't refuse her. She's the future Queen."
"They could though, seeing as the Gorons are a separate race, aren't they? They don't have to agree to rebuild the castle."
"I don't see why they should anyway, seeing as their construction hasn't lasted that long. Maybe they will just do a shoddy job again."
Telma bit her tongue. These people weren't her friends and they were just gossiping between themselves. How she longed to put them in their place, however. The Gorons were the best builders around. What humans built from wood, Gorons did with stone and twice as good.
"Gods… there Gorons living in this city, aren't there? Do you think they're responsible for the collapse?"
"Who's throwing around dangerous accusations now?"
"I'm serious! Think about it, these guys are going to get paid extremely well… and we all know the Gorons are trying to colonize, they could use the money."
"… no… no I just don't think the Gorons are like that."
"You met any?"
"Well, no, but-!"
"Those folks from Kakariko said the Gorons were horrible to them, and to think the village was overrun with monsters. They should have worked together, not send the people packing."
At that point, one man slammed his drink on the table angrily, "you're passing on gossip, and it's all rubbish. I know the Gorons are not like that, the few in town are really friendly. If you want answers, stop speculating between yourselves and go ask them directly!" he jumped up, handed Telma some money and then left slamming the door behind him.
Keeping up the act, Telma said in a surprised voice: "Oh… what happened there?" but inside she was fuming. She knew Gorons, honorable, proud maybe, but good natured. There were monsters in Kakariko, but they certainly weren't the Gorons.
Running the bar meant people told her things. The Ordon children told her things as well. About monsters on four legs, the colors of shadows, and grunting like pigs but screaming like pained dogs. She wondered whenever even the Gorons with their mighty strength would have been able to fight these bizarre creatures off, although someone undoubtedly did and the children had all screamed the answer at her. Link.
When Zelda met Link at the base of the Goron dwelling, she looked exhausted and she came alone. Night had fallen, the yellow of the sun disappearing behind the rocky cliffs. The darkness and reserved silence that surrounded them was slightly intimidating.
"How… did it go?" Link asked quietly.
"… let us go." The princess told him, and they did, walking quickly and in silence until they reached Kakariko village and then Zelda, once they were truly alone, told him in a hushed voice. "They have agreed to help me. They asked for a lot of things in return which I am happy to comply with. In actual fact, it's worried me…"
"According to them, Gorons do not have equal rights in Lanayru providence. They are not seen as equals." Catching Link's shocked face, she nodded gravely, "I was actually not aware of this. I thought my father had already granted all the lands equality and unity. This stems deeper than prejudice, of course there is prejudice, there is always prejudice where there is difference, but I am concerned as to how I am supposed to mend the laws when most of the records are buried under rubble."
"I thought the palace had been cleared."
"Yes, but the important records are hidden in cellars under ground. It was meant to symbolize that even if our homes are burnt to the ground, the law still stands." With a small smile, Zelda said, "But do not worry yourself over this. It is my concern. Are you returning to the castle with me?"
Link lowered his eyes, "actually, Princess, I was going to ride Epona for a bit." He felt like he could desperately use a stretch and work off his stress and alone in the night seemed the best time to do it.
"Alright. I'll return and spread the word that you are still my guest and all your needs must be met. Servants will obey you and guards will you let you pass restricted areas. You can meet me at the castle at any time; just ask for someone to lead you to me."
"Thank you." Link said, but he did not really think he would be returning that night. He walked a short distance away to look for some Horse Grass, and when he looked back to see the Princess he saw nothing. She had already disappeared into the air.
Epona arrived shortly after, nuzzling Link affectionately. He had held Ilias gift to him in his hands the whole time he waited. No... he wasn't going to throw something this precious away... he just couldn't bring himself to use it yet. Climbing onto his steeds saddle, Link rode her into the large western field, across the mounds and over the fences until the hammer of her hooves lulled him into absent mindedness. He never even noticed Eponas coat glisten red in the waxing moonlight.
Zelda did exactly as she promised Link. She told her staff that there would be a meeting first thing in the morning about her progress with the Gorons, letting them retire to their beds as work began in the morning. Her guest, she made clear, was to be treated like royalty, and if he asked to see her, he was brought before her immediately. Grumbling but with orders clear, her staff left her and she pretended to retire to her own room.
At some time close to midnight, Zelda changed her clothes to black leggings,a blue tunic and a dark brown cloak, and snuck out of town on a saddled brown horse. Once on the other side of the bridge, she climbed on top of her steed and rode north.
In the northern field, a short distance from the side entrance to Zoras Domain, hid a cave where a persons breath appeared in front of them as crispy white smoke and their skin trembled under every wrap imaginable. Link and Midna had stumbled across it on their travels, a cave with a chamber which opened when three puzzles had been solved. Zelda remembered it.
When she reached it, she was alone in the field. Monsters had gone, for now, and Link was no where around. She hopped off her horse but led it just inside out of sight in case Link should ride past. Taking several items from the hold on its back, including a lantern and notebook, she entered further into the cave.
When Link and Midna reunited after defeating Ganondorf, they agreed to chase away any remaining monsters from the fields. Zelda had told them that she was going to return to the castle temporarily. But she didn't.
When they were distracted, Zelda hid the body of Ganondorf inside this cave.
He was lying on his back on a stone table, eyes still open and deadly white. Unchanged. Zelda expected his decay would take longer under these conditions. Ice had a useful habit of preserving things.
She had been expected to have disposed of him. Midna even asked, and Zelda coolly replied that she had cremated the body where it fell. Midna would not have understood Zelda's reasoning, but Zelda was not done with the body yet. A strange man appeared from nowhere and took control of her kingdom, also proving to be the only man other than Link to hold a glowing symbol over the back of his hand. Zelda saw which golden triangle was glowing, Ganondorf's was the top one, hers was the left one, Link's was the right, and so surely, as there were no more triangles in the symbol, they were of significance together? Either way, it was wrong to ignore something like this.
Midna would not have cared and Link certainly wasn't concerned, but a kicking feeling in Zelda's stomach told her to investigate it. She couldn't ask Ganondorf for answers, but she had to get them somehow. Who was this man that the sages spoke of? Where was he from, and how long ago? What race was he, giant built, a man with green skin and flame like hair?
Drawing out her notebook, she began to jot down observations.
"I'm not doing anything suspicious.. Really!"
- Sakon, Majoras Mask