((A/N: Finally, I'm getting to work on this sequel, believe it or not. Sorry it took me so long, but I've been busy with college and just general gaming… Hopefully that will change in the future, and that this second in a series of three fanfics will please you. ^^))
Chapter 1: Celebration
In that time, Hyrule Castle had been rebuilt by the combined efforts of the four races, especially the mountain-dwelling and powerful Gorons. The grand castle had been restored as best as possible, but that didn't change the fact that several priceless items had been lost thanks to the majority of the structure's destruction by Ganondorf during the Invasion of Twilight. Despite this, the interior was still magnificent to behold even if it was missing several works of art that had been passed down through generations. But that thought was at the back of everyone's minds right now. This was a time for celebration and revelry, as it marked not only the completion of the castle, but the rise of its ruler.
The Princess of Destiny was to become Queen of Hyrule.
The dining hall of the castle was filled with a dull roar. At the table of honor, sitting clad in a beautiful dark red dress, was Princess Zelda herself. To her right was the new commander of the royal knights, and secretly her younger brother by a year, Cale. He was clad in a moderate amount of highly polished silver armor that covered most of his chest, shoulders, forearms, and legs with purple cloth covering whatever bits of the chainmail beneath were visible, a vivid violet cape trimmed with gold behind him. At his side was a relatively new two-handed blade in a purple-and-gold scabbard, his silver helm set on the table for now. A handsome young man of twenty-six now, he had changed little in the past three years. It was due in part that, despite his best efforts, his messy brown hair could never really be fixed due to too much time in the helmet, as Rurik put it. He was listening with a smirk to his slightly inebriated cousin Rurik, who also wore the armor of a royal knight, but nothing near as intricate as his cousin's. The muscular man's face was slightly red, a sign that he had a bit too much to drink, and his black hair slicked back in his usual style, although now he was getting a bit of a goatee on his chin. He was bragging about his victories and skills to the rather unfortunate racial relations adviser who sit next to him, Terick.
Left of Zelda was the young Hylian Danielle, who was in fact the youngest sibling of both Cale and the princess herself, although that fact was unknown to the majority of the people. Now seventeen, she had grown considerably from the young girl who had been caught up in the Invasion of Twilight three years before. While not exactly stunningly beautiful, especially due to her tomboyish nature, she still caught the attention of those who saw her… although mostly it was due to her actually wearing a simple dress for once. Needless to say, she looked uncomfortable and none-too-pleased as she shifted slightly in her chair. Her hair, normally worn in a high ponytail, was down and tied loosely at the end. Blaine sat left of her, mostly distracted and staring out at the joyous guests who sat in the dining hall. Out of the three men who had for so long thought of themselves as brothers, he was perhaps the most handsome of all. His black hair was much shorter than what it used to be, his bangs slightly spiked up at the front. After his injuries he obtained three years ago, he was discharged from the royal knights but continued to serve his cousin, the princess, in any way he could as a tactician. Bearing a permanent limp and occasional sharp pain in his back, he had become quieter and mellower due to what happened.
On either side of the four family members were the top four advisors to the princess, men and women who had served Zelda's father and now Zelda herself, having survived the Invasion of Twilight by fleeing the castle at nearly the first sign of trouble. There were some who condemned them for their cowardice, some of the knights included, but they had cited that their lives were valuable if something were to happen to the sole heir to the throne during the invasion, that they had to escape for the good of the land. Not many bought that.
Aremas, the gruff Hylian military adviser and one of the older senior advisers, stroked his trimmed salt-and-pepper beard, pale blue eyes filled with irritation. At being pushed to the edges of the table into spots less-important than the children of his old friend Greil (he was left unaware of their true relationship to the princess) he had protested heavily but to no avail. His orange robes were trimmed with black, the small dagger he wore tucked away at his side hidden beneath the folds of it. Once the mentor of the former commander Greil, he had been asked to take an adviser position by the former king, a move that had been greatly liked by the people. Needless to say he was quite popular, mostly due to the fact he had led the campaign in the Gerudo War and was a hero.
To his left sat Dinas, treasury adviser and the only one of mixed race. With one elbow resting on the table and her chin atop her silken gloved fist, she peered sideways at Blaine and Danielle, her hazel eyes carrying a slightly bored but curious look. Her richly colored purple dress was low-cut around her chest, the shoulder portions just a bit puffy. The gloves reached up to just below her elbows, ornate gold jewelry around her neck with a gold headdress that bore a topaz in it pulling back her long, fiery red hair in a high ponytail. All who saw her could tell immediately that she was of Gerudo heritage, although she carried a decent amount of Hylian blood in her. Regardless, there had been outrage when she was appointed as an adviser, as it had been uncalled for of anyone of non-pure Hylian descent, let alone one with Gerudo blood, to obtain a position such as that. Over time though, people grew a bit more accepting of her once she had proved her worth, although still some harbored mistrust towards her.
Terick, the racial relationships adviser, was the other older senior adviser and the oddest of the four. As Dinas often put it, the elderly man had the fashion sense of a dead Bulblin. Mostly bald with wisps of white hair and spectacles, his clothing was a mix-match of contrasting colors. Over a forest green shirt he wore a black coat trimmed with gold that bore a strange green symbol on the back. His dark brown pants were old and wrinkly, teal leather shoes looking completely out of place. His emerald eyes carried a bored and irritated look as Rurik droned on, the elderly Hylian trying to tune him out. He was the earliest appointment of the former king, most of those chosen around the same time having already passed on. Strange and eccentric, he was known to study the history and culture of every race in existence, and so he knew of even the most obscure facts from the different races and was in charge of negotiations between them. Lately he had grown a bit hostile to the children of Greil since his passing three years ago, but most thought it because he was just losing his mind with old age. It was expected that he would pass away soon, although his health had never deteriorated much.
The final adviser that was seated at the head table was Famat, the agricultural adviser. He was in better spirits than the rest, chuckling deeply as he drank from his own goblet and talked across Terick to Rurik. Despite the nearly twenty-year difference in age, he got along well with the royal knight. Gruff but gentle, his dark green eyes glittered with humor. His short, shaggy brown hair was the same color as his scruffy beard, and he seemed uncomfortable in his formal wear of emerald robes. He was formerly a farmer before his appointment, aiding fellow farmers during the war when the Gerudos had targeted crops. Had it not been for his efforts, many would have starved, making him somewhat of a hero to the common folk. Everyone knew that he preferred to meet people face-to-face over dull paperwork, and more often than not he would be out and about inspecting areas as an excuse to get out of the stuffy castle.
Danielle shifted her gaze towards her sister's face as she sat there with her half-eaten meal before her, but the princess was preoccupied with examining the crowd, a distant expression on her face. Following her sister's gaze, she noticed a few familiar faces among the guests, but to Danielle the most notable of these were the members of the "resistance" and the hero Link himself, the one who had saved the land of Hyrule. Part of her yearned to be sitting over there with them and socializing with her friends, as Zelda had scarcely spoken to her the entire day. She understood that the soon-to-be-queen was busy, but to never do anything more but barely acknowledge her? It was frustrating indeed, especially when Danielle had grown so close to Zelda.
Sighing a bit, she used her fork to play around with a piece of food on her plate, eyes drifting about the throne room again. She noticed one of the members of the resistance group was looking back at her, the young Hylian now feeling the color rising slightly in her cheeks. Shad, the young man who had great interest in scholarly affairs, especially the Sky Beings, was glancing towards her with a bit of a smile on his face as he adjusted his glasses and spoke with Telma. For the past three years they had steadily become close friends, and something had grown between them. It was something more than friendship, but not quite love. It was… weird, that's the only way she could accurately describe it, because she had never felt this way before.
"You're blushing, my dear Danielle," Blaine spoke into her ear, causing Danielle to sit up rigidly.
"Blaine!" she hissed in annoyance, her gaze darting sideways to his smirking face. Apparently he had grown bored himself and chose to amuse himself with picking on his younger cousin.
Chuckling, Blaine glanced at her with an amused look. "What? It's true. I've seen you and Shad together for more than just him giving you lessons at the princess's behest. Quite an unexpected couple, not only with him being seven years older, but with you being a noble that still doesn't care to learn lessons and Shad but a humble scholar."
"Okay, for one, he volunteered to give me lessons, the princess didn't order him to. And two, I don't always avoid my lessons," she mumbled, trying to fight back the rising blush as she took up her cup and sipped the lukewarm water.
"You know, mentioning him volunteering for it really doesn't help your argument much."
Trying to think of a comeback, Danielle slowly smirked as her eyes flickered to her cousin. "And what about you and Ashei, hm?"
This did the trick, Blaine immediately growing defensive. "What's that supposed to mean, huh?"
"Come now, with how much you two bicker, you'd think you were a married couple!" Feeling victorious due to Blaine's own blush, she chuckled and set down her cup. "The tactician and the warrior, what a perfect couple."
Sighing in defeat, Blaine shook his head and sat back in his chair. "I suppose I deserve this, seeing as how I first started ribbing you about Shad…"
"Quite honestly, I believe the two of you shouldn't bother with mere peasants," Aremas's gruff voice muttered, drawing the attention of the cousins. "You are of noble blood and should look to other nobles for your spouses, not lesser… commoners."
Blaine looked back to Danielle, mock-gagging and causing the younger Hylian to nearly burst out laughing had she not been able to stifle it. "Well, Master Aremas, Ashei is the daughter of a former royal knight, and Shad is above a mere peasant."
"Bah, you know what I mean, Blaine! That girl's father was a disgraced knight, mind you." Aremas folded his arms, grunting in annoyance. "You two are noble and should take only those of higher stature."
What an old-fashioned elitist, Danielle thought, resisting the urge to roll her eyes and make a comment back while the adviser looked at her.
"Now, now, Aremas," Dinas chided in her usual smooth, calming voice, hazel eyes glittering with a bit of humor. "Let the kids have some fun. There's nothing wrong with them living how they want."
"You, too? Dinas, I'll have you know I…"
Tuning out Aremas now and nodding her thanks to Dinas, Danielle stared forward while Blaine leaned over to speak to her in a quieter voice. "So, I noticed that the princess has been ignoring you lately. What's been going on? Did you two have an argument?"
Danielle shook her head, lips contorting into a slight frown. "Not at all," she murmured. "I don't know why she's acting so strange. I don't think I've done anything wrong to upset her. Maybe she's just incredibly stressed about all of this, but that doesn't seem like her. And to not even talk to me at all?" She looked now at her sister, but Zelda appeared lost in her thoughts. Something was troubling her, but she was doing her best to hide it. On the other side of her, Cale noticed the princess staring into the distance and leaned over to talk to her.
Confused and feeling a little hurt by Zelda's treatment of her, Danielle lifted her drink to her lips and took a deep sip, wondering once more just what the cause was behind her sister's behavior.