**All Standard Disclaimers Apply**
Book Two in the Doppelganger Trilogy
by The Wolfess
Chapter Twenty Eight: Zora's Domain
A cold sun rose over Snowpeak the next morning. It was a sun straining to make its light seep through the clouds covering Hyrule in a thin, white veil to shed what light it could over the winter-locked land. The thin light gave the morning a hazy look as Link and his KRP soldiers awoke late the next morning to a new day.
They were all very tired. Men struggled to keep their eyes open as they worked at the ice with pickaxes and hammers, but Link said that it was best if they did the work in the morning as quickly as they could and try to make it back down the mountain before the sun goes down. Trying to cart all of this stuff down the snowy mountain in the dark while fighting off White Wolfos was a fool's errand, and likely to get someone killed. Grudgingly, they took their four measly hours of sleep and woke bright and early to the smell of some unidentifiable meat roasting in the kitchen with a host of eggs and some stale toast. They weren't the freshest ingredients—indeed, where the Yetis got the grain and eggs at all was a mystery—but it tastes good nonetheless and the soldiers had been grateful for the warmth and nourishment.
Link ran a tight ship. There was no time to dally around. They helped Yeta clean up breakfast and then they marched their way through the icy halls of Yeto's home. In order to get to the room where Link had first seen the weapons and armor, they had to go through the empty room behind the kitchen, out into the icy center courtyard, and through a west door. Yeto took them through a few additional doors and passageways, finally coming to a small room lined with wooden cabinets full of swords, spears, battle axes, bows, and arrows. There were even some shields hanging from the walls. Everything was covered over by a thick wall of ice, however. It was obvious that these cabinets had not been touched for ages.
The soldiers had gotten right to work, which is where they were now. Men were down on their hands and knees with their pickaxes chipping away at sheets of ice that seemed as thick as steel. Link stood off to the side with Yeto and a large cloth map wrapped in leather. Link held it up and pointed to various rooms, and Yeto grunted simple agreements or gave brief feedback. Neither of them were fond of talking overmuch, so to hear them trying to have a conversation was comical. Link would point to a room and say 'armor here?' and Yeto would grunt or say 'no, here?' 'behind the bars?' Link would then say, and Yeto would grunt an agreeing 'uh huh'. Most of their sentences stayed between one and three words or some grunting.
Volc would have gotten more of a chuckle out of it if the ice breaking was going faster. Despite the fact that they had been at it for a good half hour, it was as if no progress were being made. The men were beginning to get discouraged, and Volc himself was feeling anxious. Quietly, Volc wandered away from where he had been monitoring the work. He crossed to Link.
"Link, Sir," Volc said, concern lining his features. "Forgive the intrusion, but at this pace it will take us days to get this stuff free. And we don't have days."
Link walked over to watch the men work. After a moment, he nodded and scratched his head. Before he could speak, however, Yeto pushed past him.
"Bah!" he exclaimed as he approached a section of the cabinets that no one was working on. "This no problem for Yetis! You watch, you see." No sooner had he spoken then he balled his hand into a giant fist, pulled it back, and swung it full force at the ice.
It splintered and cracked beautifully, all the way through. Link waved a couple soldiers over and they used their pickaxes to pry the shards away. It took a little work still, but they got the ice cleared. They pulled out a few of the swords underneath and held them out for Link's inspection. The hero took one in his sword hand and held it up before his face. The blade was old, that was for sure, and not as finely tempered as some. The ancient people's techniques for folding metal did not seem as refined as those that Rusl has taught Link in their small forge at home, and the blade seemed rough and without elegance. However, the ice preserved the blades as if they had been suspended in time. They were free of rust and tarnish, and the blade was still snug and firm in the hilt. He stepped back and did a few sword drills with it. It was a little heavy, and the weight was more centered in the hilt rather than balanced throughout the sword, but it would serve their purpose nicely.
"Very good," he said, handing it back to the soldier. "Yeto, can you do that to the other structures in here? Then my men can do the rest."
"Yeto is glad to help!" roared the jolly giant, and he went about the room cracking the rest of the ice as necessary. Once the Hylians were back at work with their pickaxes, much more effectively this time, Link, Yeto, and Auru went on to the next room Link and Yeto had identified on the map. This one was full of suits of armor, shields, and artillery. Yeto helped them crack the ice on this room as well, and Auru went back to the previous room to show Volc and the KRP soldiers how to get there when they were done.
In this fashion, they made their way around the mansion cracking out all the weaponry, armor, and artillery they could find. Periodically Yeta came and brought the soldiers snacks or food, but for the most part they all worked on getting the stuff out and transporting it into the main hall just inside the front doors of the mansion. Link and Auru worked on organizing and categorizing what they had, what condition each piece was in, and what they could carry. Volc and Yeto helped the soldiers break out and collect all of the weaponry, armor, and artillery. Yeta just went around and served everyone, making sure they all had soup to keep them warm when they needed it.
When Yeto brought down the last of the canons, the KRP soldiers carrying one cannonball each, Link knew they were done. "This is all of it?" he asked Captain Volc.
Volc nodded, his ginger hair plastered to his forehead with sweat. "Yessir," he said. He had picked up a pickax and started hacking at the ice himself, and he felt as sore as the rest of the men. "Every sword, ax, bow, shield, helmet, and cannonball in the place. If only we could carry it all."
Link looked up at the towering stacks of armor and artillery and sighed. "I wish we could as well. Unfortunately, we can't transport it all ourselves. If you all head over to that stack over there," he motioned toward select items set nearest to the door, "that should be all we can take. If you have more room when all of that is packed up and think you can carry it all the way back to New Kakariko, then let Auru or myself know and we'll load you up with some extra stuff."
"Yessir," Volc said, flashing a salute at Link. Link nodded, and the marquis turned and started shouting orders to the soldiers. They all hustled about filling their packs with as much as they could carry. They also filled a wagon-sized box sleigh that Yeta had found for them to transport the items for the wagon. Yeto carried it down himself, and he would help them carry it down the mountain too.
"Yeto," Link said as the last items were being loaded into the sleigh. "I can't thank you enough. We owe you our lives, believe it or not."
The giant, hairy creature laughed and slapped his belly. "Tiny human owes Yeto nothing! Consider this payback for what Link did for Yeta. Yeto and Link equal now."
Link smiled and nodded. "Equal," he agreed. Volc and Auru were lining up the soldiers at the door and making sure everyone was ready to make the trek down the mountain. Link gave one last mournful look at all the armor they were leaving behind. "Sorry to leave your hall so messy, Yeta," he said as the shorter, female yeti waddled up behind them. "I wish we could take it all with us. We need it all…especially the cannons." They had packed one cannon with a few cannonballs, but that was the most they could carry. It was highly debated between Link and Auru in the first place. For all the space it took up, they could have carried more swords, bows, and helmets. In the end, Auru convinced Link that the cannon's long range and power could be useful against any artillery or siege equipment that Dark Link may bring from Hyrule Castle's armory. They would have none, and being able to smash Dark Link's artillery before he could use them would be to their advantage. They were able to carry so few cannonballs, however that the cannon would have to be carefully used.
"Do not worry," Yeta said as she starting passing out bottles of warm soup. "Yeta and Yeto will clean, uhn. Maybe Link will come take in future, uh?" The soldiers thanked her for their soup, slipping it in easy-to-access pockets in the sides of their packs.
Yeto moved in front of the sleigh in the back and picked up the large wooden handles. Link walked to the front of the small company, standing with Volc on his right and Auru on his left. "It'll be faster going down the mountain than it was going up," Link said to them all. "Getting down the mountain with our load will be the easy part of this trip home." He was silent for a moment, letting that sink in before he continued. "When we exit into Zora's Fountain, we must sneak all of this stuff back up those cliffs we came down, load it into the wagon, and then sneak our way back to New Kakariko unseen by Dark Link. I have no doubt that if word of our passing through hasn't made it to the Zora throne room already, they will certainly hear us trying to pass all of this gear up the mountain. I don't know if they will attack us or let us pass. If they do attack us, do not fight them. The Zora's are a fierce and protective race, but they are not our enemies. If we play this right, they may even help us. They like to stay neutral in conflicts, aloof and separate up here in these rivers, but in times when the realm is in dire need they have been known to help. This is indeed a time of dire need for Hyrule. Perhaps we may get lucky." Link turned to Volc. "Move them out, Captain," he said in a quieter voice. Volc nodded and starting shouting commands as Link and Auru pushed the heavy oaked doors open. They held them wide, letting the falling snow blow into the hall, as the small Kakariko Revolution Party band moved out, a giant Yeti with a sleigh full weaponry right at their heels.
Shortly after they began the trek, it started to snow. The snow came faster and bigger, and winds started picking up. A true snowstorm had kicked up on the mountain's upper regions and it blew in their faces, slowing every step they took. The drifts of powdered snow were up to their knees and every step seemed to make their weapon-laden loads heavier to bear. Even Yeto seemed to be struggling. Although his large feet acted like snowshoes, giving him a boost on the powder, the old box sleigh was so laden down by the cannon and other items that its runners sunk deep into the drifts. The giant Yeti strained and pulled, dragging it though the snow with his might alone, but even he soon started to look tired.
The world in front of their eyes was a swirl of white. They could barely see the person in front of them, let alone the way they were supposed to go. Link hadn't planned on transforming for fear of alarming Yeto, but with the snow as thick as it was he had no choice. Auru went back and warned Yeto not to be afraid while Link donned the wolf mask, but when Link's body twisted and transformed into a large gray-green werewolf, the giant jumped anyway. In his werewolf form, the hero was almost as tall at the Yeti. He ran to the front and sniffed out their trail, picking up the faint strains of reek fish that would guide their way down. Satisfied that he found it and it was strong enough to follow, Link lined everyone up in twos and had them follow him closely behind. Link's body blocked some of the snow pelting their faces, so tall and furry was he, and the soldiers found themselves grateful for his monstrous form.
As the hours went on, man and Yeti alike grew tired and sleepy. The snow had dampened their clothing and the cold had sunk into their bones. Even the White Wolfos didn't come near, so fierce was the storm on Snowpeak. The soldiers began to beg to rest for just a moment, just a brief moment huddled in the snow around a small fire to wait out the storm, but Link would have none of it. He growled in response, not bothering to take off his mask to respond in Hyrulian words, and pushed onward.
Finally the snowstorm started to ease. The flakes shrunk to mere specks of snow drifting through the air. When the sun peaked its head through the distant clouds, the snow specks sparkled like diamond dust around them. They had finally come to the edge of the frozen lake. Link paused long enough to sake the snow out of his fur like a giant dog. The whole front of his body had been caked with it. He led them across the lake of ice, testing it with his own weight before letting his men and the Yeti with his heavy load cross. Once they reached the other side, it was just a matter of scaling the small cliff to get to the exit. They trudged their way with leaden legs up the snaking, snow-covered trail to the exit to Zora's Fountain. Link himself went to the back and pushed from behind the sleigh while Yeto pulled to get it to the top.
Once they were all there, Link took off his mask. His body shrunk back to normal size as he walked back to the front of the line. They were so relieved to have made it alive and unscathed with all of their load that they chattered with one another and smiled, resting their bags on the ground. Auru quieted them, however, and shot Link a look. The hero nodded. They had to be as quiet as possible, lest some unwanted ears hear them outside the small tunnel between Snowpeak and Zora's Fountain. However, with their clothes soaking wet and their boots standing in snow they couldn't wait any longer either. Man and Yeti alike looked ready to fall over at any moment.
Link pushed on ahead, walking at the front with Volc, Auru, and his soldiers close behind, and Yeto took up the rear. They stepped out into the bright sun and flowing water of Zora's Fountain—and met with a wall of coral spears.
This was the first time that Link found himself in manacles since he woke up as a wolf in the dungeons of Hyrule Castle. He was bound hand a feet with a special coral as strong as iron, as were all of his men, and Yeto as well. How they had found manacles big enough to fit him was a mystery to Link. What was even more of a mystery was how six Zora could carry one giant Yeti up the waterfall, but there he was. A couple large stone slate had been pulled over the circular pool in the center of the throne room, balancing on the stone steps on either side. The slates were about a meter and a half wide, and it took two of them to fit all of the prisoners on. Link stood at the front with Auru and Volc. They situated Yeto just behind them, and the soldiers crowded around Yeti on all sides of their own accord. No one would lay a finger on the Yeti without going through the KRP first. Link would have smiled to see them showing such fond protectiveness over a "beast", but his attention was focused on the spears pointed at them. Not that he was really worried about the Zora trying to cut them up when he thought about it. With the deep pool of water beneath them no one would have to raise a spear to kill them. The captives were bound so that they could not swim, and the stone slabs could be flipped with minimal effort from below. It would be execution by drowning, should it come to that. Link was determined that it wouldn't.
Standing on the stone step and behind the decorative coral walls in a circle all around them was a host of Zora soldiers. Each wore a fish helmet that showed no indication of feeling or life, and each had a coral spear in hand. Some of the fish helmets were different from others, some of the spears were different colors or had different decorations, but in the end they were the same—they were a small army gathered together to watch the Zora King's judgment.
One of the Zora soldiers standing beside the throne stepped forward. The ornaments on his helmet indicated that he was a captain of some sort, perhaps even the head of the guard. "All Hail King Ralis, boy King of the Zora people."
"HAIL KING RALIS!" The hall shook with the collective shout. Yeto cringed. He was wet, miserable-looking, and not accustomed to such loud noises. Link was grinding his teeth.
The man went on, heedless of the captives' discomfort. "We are gathered here to judge the crimes of Dark Link of Hyrule, sorcerer, madman, and self-proclaimed King of the Shadow Kingdom." Link's eyes widened. They thought he was Dark Link—and judging by the fact that Dark Link masqueraded successfully has him for so long, it made sense. But how could he convince them of his true identity? "The Shadow King has numerous crimes levied against him, as witnessed by our Zora spies and scouts from the waterways of Hyrule. Among these are the use of dark magic, creating the plague of Obsidian that now afflicts Hyrule's citizens, impersonating the true monarch of Hyrule, murder, theft, high treason, and a multitude of other crimes. The recommendation of the Chief Justice of the Zora, Rutond, and the General of the Zora Army, Xiauh, is death by drowning." He stepped back to his assigned spot. All eyes turned to the King.
The Zora King was dwarfed by this own throne. He was a mere boy, and sat in the too-large seat with his legs crossed and his hands resting elegantly on his knees. Gracefully built, like all of the Zora, and richly adorned, Ralis was taller now than he had been. The months passing since the hero had last seen him—on the day of Link's knighthood ceremony—had given him a few more inches. The hero remembered him as a somber youth struggling with the destiny given to him by the goddesses and recovering from the great sickness that almost claimed his life. Today, Link hoped that the boy king was as fair-minded has he had seemed during the war.
Ralis was quiet for a while. Finally, he spoke up. "Your guilt is assumed," he said in a soft, watery voice. "The recommended sentence is death. And yet, I am troubled. You are known as a master of illusions, but it had been reported that your hair was always white and your eyes were always red. It was these physical discrepancies that first tipped us off to your lies, long before your announcement. By what new power have you been able to make your appearance so flawlessly identical to my old friend? And why, if you have all the might of Hyrule and the monsters you have gathered about you, have you come to the snowy mountain of the beast? You exit carrying armor and weapons. Hyrule Castle needs none of these. So tell me, 'Shadow King'…who are you really and why are you here?"
Link cleared his throat. "I'm Link, your Grace. From Ordona Province. I have returned with the Princess Zelda freed from a magical imprisonment placed upon us by Dark Link. We have joined with the Kakariko Revolution Party in New Kakariko to oppose Dark Link and take back Zelda's throne."
A gasp when up from the Zoras. The hall was loud with murmurs and whispers. "Silence," Ralis said, speaking a little louder than normal but not raising his voice. The soldiers quieted down. Ralis stood and walked to the edge of the pool, peering closely at Link's face. "I cannot tell the truth of what you say by looking at you," he finally said, "and I cannot trust that you are telling me the truth. Dark Link can make himself and other people look like anyone, and he is a good enough actor to fool everyone within Castle Town and within Link's own army."
Ralis began to pace a little. He tapped the water canteen on his hip absently. Suddenly he stopped and turned to face Link again. "I have it! I question that only Link could know. When I was finally healed under Renado's diligent care, I went somewhere to mourn and be alone. I was troubled. Yet the hero, Link, found me and spoke with me. No one but he and I know of this moment. Not even Dark Link could possibly know what transpired that night. Where did I go, what was I troubled by, and what conversation did Link and I have?"
Link smiled. He remembered this night. Ralis had been so troubled and full of grief. It was all Link could do to try to encourage him. The eyes of the KRP soldiers looked at Link anxiously. Beside him, both Auru and Volc wore the best encouraging expressions they could, but they were anxious as well.
"You went to the graveyard," Link began. "At the back there is a small tunnel, through which the hidden final resting place of your father, the previous King Zora. You were troubled by a dream. You shared it with me. Your mother came to you in your dreams and showed you my image. She said that you should be courageous, like me, because you were king now. But you said that you had so little confidence…you thought you failed at the one thing your mother asked you to do. You thought you were very unlike your mother, and you thought you were unfit to rule. You asked me to tell you if there was anything you could do to help, anything at all."
Ralis smiled. "Remove their chains," he commanded. "My dear friend, Link, has returned from the dead! Collect their horses, wagon, and gear from outside. Get them dry clothing and warm places to stay. See that they are comfortable. They are our guests tonight!"
The soldiers nearest to them helped them off of the slates one by one and released them from their chains. Link made sure that everyone was taken care of before he let them unlock his own manacles. "Where are they taking my men?" he asked the guard, rubbing his wrists where the chains had made his skin raw. As the guard was about the answer, Ralis stepped up beside him with a big smile and spoke instead.
"Behind the throne there is a secret passage to Zora Hall," said the boy king. "It is kept secret in case Zora's Domain is ever infiltrated, to keep our young, old, and non-soldiers safe. Come, would you like to see?"
Link bowed as he answered, which seemed to please the guard standing nearby. Link remembered enough of life in Zelda's court to know that much about courtly graces. "It would be my honor, your Grace."
"Please Link," Ralis said, his voice pained but amused. "Do not bow to me, and do not call me 'your Grace'. I have asked you this before. Just call me Ralis."
Link followed the Zora to the throne. "I had forgotten," he said as they walked. "It was so long ago. I hadn't even accepted Zelda's offer yet." Behind the throne, the wall had opened to a large entrance. The cavern looked moist, but it was lit by a light source he couldn't see. There were a few torches here and there, but the light that filled the cavern was different somehow. When they stepped inside, Link found that the rock had the same blueish hue as the rocks in the Lakebed Temple. Shimmering over the surface of the rock were shifting, glittery shapes like the reflection of light on the surface of a lake.
"How is it lit?" Link asked, looking at the walls in wonder.
Ralis motioned forward. "If you pass through there, you will see," he said. Link continued ahead. The ground in the tunnel sloped downward a little, and then came around to the left. They emerged on the top of a stairway in a huge cave. The cave was round, and the wide stairway they stood on wound around the south side of the cave and slopped downward to a large lake at the bottom. Long stalactites hung from the ceiling on the far northeast side of the cave, some reaching all the way to the floor. On the far northwest side, the walls and the ground were covered with ivy and vines. These plants received their nourishment from a smallish hole in the ceiling through which daylight streamed forth like a natural chandelier. The light hit the water just right, setting it alight with blues and turquoises so rich they almost hurt Link's eyes. The light seemed to bounce back somehow, sending reflections of lightwater all over the cavern.
"How…how is it so…so blue and…" Link struggled with words.
Ralis smiled and started down the stairway. Link followed him as he listened. "Minerals in the water give it its color." Ralis started. "They also cause the light to refract, as you see. My people have our homes under the water, for this lake goes over one hundred meters deep. It is a great city—and invisible, should invaders ever manage to get inside the cavern. There is a series of underwater tunnels that lead out from and into this lake. They are waterways that connect us with other caverns within the heart of the mountain, and even with some of the rivers of Hyrule eventually. One of them leads directly to Lake Hylia, where our people go to pray in the Lakebed Temple. Another one connects to our second home, an ancient place over in the mountains by Old Kakariko that our people can travel to underwater if necessary. With the Zora's Armor given to you by my mother, I could show you these things someday if you would like.
"However, our underwater cities are useless to land-dwellers, and useless to us right now. We have guest quarters underneath the Tentillum of the Windfish—or 'stalactites' as your Hyrulian scholars call them. Each guest suite was built in a chamber with access to the underground hot springs. They smell of sulfur, but they are wonderful for the skin. Your men and the Yeti are being escorted to their chambers and provided with whatever provisions their hearts desire. You, however, must come with me to the meeting hall. We have grave matters to discuss." They had reached the bottom of the stair, and Ralis led them around the rock at the edge of the cerulean water. The color reminded Link of Zelda's eyes a bit, and that made him sore for home. But he shook it off and paid attention to what Ralis was saying.
The guest rooms were not the only things above water. There was a store called the Fisherman's Hut that sold general dry goods unable to be sold by its sister store below water, the Old Wayfarer's Ship. There was also a restaurant called the Rusty Neptoona, and a bar called Manbo's Mambo that had a great stage often visited by a famous Zora Band, the Indigo-Gos. "They travel from cavern to cavern giving performances and raising spirits," Ralis said. "I will invite you to come see them play when the war is over. I am sure that you will quite enjoy them! Manbo himself, who the establishment was named after, was the son of the legendary Sun Fish. That is quite an interesting legend, actually, if you are interested?"
Link nodded his head, so Ralis continued. "Within Zora theology we have four deities: the Sun Fish and his lady, the Moon Fish, to watch over the happenings of the Sky Waters, and the Wind Fish and his lady, the Earth Fish, to watch over the happenings of the Earth Waters. The Sun Fish is the brother of the Wind Fish. As I said, Manbo is the son of the Sun Fish in the same way as Jabun is the son of the Wind Fish. Now, it is said that Manbo loved music, but his father did not. He couldn't think when Manbo was making racket, but Manbo didn't care. He would play from sun up to sun down, and the whole universe was thrown into chaos because the Sun Fish couldn't think to monitor it. The stars came up during the day and the sun came out at the same time as the moon. Finally, one day the Sun Fish kicked Manbo out of the Sky Waters and made him live in the Earth Waters so that the Sky Waters would always be silent enough for him to think. The universe returned to its regular order, but Manbo was sad. He missed his father and his home. He wrote his famous mambo in order to transport him back to the sky, but when he got there his father threw him out again. Struck with grief, Manbo wrote a ballad so sad and so pure it reached the ears of the Wind Fish. The great Wind Fish flew over to Manbo and asked him to play the ballad again. It became known as the Ballad of the Windfish…but that's a legend for another day. It is from Manbo that all song comes, or so the legend says. Some say that Manbo still swims somewhere in the Great Waters of the Sea."
They had come to stop before a large, ornate pair of doors. Ralis threw them open, and they walked into what was obviously a large meeting hall of sorts. "This is the last above water room in this cavern, and it is called Jabun's Audience Chamber. See the waterway in the back? It slopes down into the largest of the underwater tunnels, and that is where our Great Fish God, Jabun, once held audience. He is the son of the Wind Fish, and our patron God. However he has long vanished, to my regret. They filled most of the chamber with sand and put in this meeting table here ages ago, and now it is where our royalty hold audiences and meetings with land dwellers."
They sat down at the table and platters of food were brought over from the Rusty Neptoona. Link had roasted salmon with barbeque sauce with a side of potatoes and seaweed. Ralis had a platter of shrimp with a butter-based dipping sauce. Ralis munched on his shrimp and allowed Link to eat for a while in peace. When Link had finished eating, Ralis began to speak again. "My friend," he said, "I have bittersweet news for you. The sweet part is that a girl of your village, Beth, is here with us."
Link blinked. Suddenly, a light blinked on in his head. The last time he was in Ordon, before the Mountain Campaign, Ilia had angrily alluded to the fact that Beth had gone somewhere. Indeed, he hadn't seen her since he returned. "How is she here?" he asked, his eyebrows raised.
Ralis sighed. "That is the bad news. I sent my best spies to Castle Town to see the usurper's announcement. They saw her from the waterways wandering the streets. We mounted a rescue mission and brought her here for treatment. She has eaten a lot of that poison food, Obsidian, while living on the streets and has only been with us a short while. Obsidian does not reach well with children, although Beth is almost a woman grown. Still, I would not recommend you see her."
Link bowed his head. He had seen the Obsidian Children in New Kakariko trying to undergo the purge. It wasn't easy on them. "Thank you for rescuing her," he said, his voice thick with emotion. "I don't know how to repay you…we, the town of Ordon, owe you."
Ralis lowered his head a little and blushed, if ever a fish could blush. "My reasons are somewhat selfish, I must admit. She and I grew very close during our time together in New Kakariko. It is out of…great fondness that I care for her as she cared for me."
Link smiled. "I see," he said, leaning back in his chair a little. "Well, it's good to know that she's safe here."
"Yes, now. Tell me of your tale, Link. Where have you been and what is happening now? Most importantly, how can I be of help?"
And so Link launched into his tale again, from Zelda's summons, to the Mountain Campaign, to Dark Link's betrayal, and everything that has happened with the wolves since then. Finally, he explained what he knew of the formation of the KRP and what their plan is now. "Basically," Link said, "it's only a matter of time before Dark Link knows that we're back. And once he knows, he might attack any day. The people that have gathered at New Kakariko are all brave—Hylians from all over, Gorons from Death Mountain, and still more coming every day—but already the Bulblins have attacked us from the south once. Rusl, Fado, and Bo helped me and the pack beat them back, but not without wounds. The KRP has no armor, few weapons, no artillery…and yet Dark Link will bring his whole force down on us. We're trying to bring back whatever we can hold. We need all of it, truth be told, but we can't smuggle that much all the way through the mountain passes and east Hyrule Field without being detected." Link sighed and ran his fingers through his blond bangs. "Truth be told, Ralis, we need whatever help you can give us."
The smile that spread on Ralis's face confused Link. What was there in that story to smile about? "Remember that day at my father's grave," Ralis started, "when I said asked you to tell me whatever you needed, any way that I can help you? Well, giving you an earring was nothing. You saved my people from the ice and the shadow beasts—and you saved my life, and you put my mother's soul to rest peacefully. An earring does not cover that debt. Not when I can do so much better than that."
Link furrowed his brow. "How?" he asked, his voice blunt but curious.
Ralis leaned forward. "For one, I pledge my entire army to your cause. Our allegiance is to the true Queen of Hyrule, the royal blood of Hylia, not this usurper on the throne. We will fight beside you, and we will die beside you, as brothers."
"Ralis, I—" Link began.
"I am not finished," Ralis interrupted. "Second, we will transport everything you left behind in Snowpeak through the waterways. We have ways of moving such things through the water over long distances—how else do you think the Lakebed Temple was built?"
Link shook his head in shock. "Ralis, thank you. This is too much."
Ralis laughed. "There is still one more thing I will do for you," he said. "You must not travel back the way you came. It is too dangerous. I have a way to transport you through the water using the waterways. We will go from here to Lake Hylia using the waterways, and then from Lake Hylia to the graveyard where by father was buried. Within that pool—"
"—is a large waterway that connects the two locations! I have used it!" Link finished for him. He started to beam in excitement, but suddenly he stopped and his brow furrowed again. "But Ralis, I may have the Zora Armor in Epona's pack, but my people can't breathe underwater."
Ralis stood and called for the nearest guard. "Leave that to me," he said to Link before he turned to the guard. "Gilly, please escort Sir Link to his chambers and confer my leaders here at once. We have urgent matters to discuss. I will also need to see the shop owners of the Fisherman's Hut and the Old Wayfarer's Ship. Both of them."
The guard saluted and walked to stand by the door. Ralis, however, stopped Link before the wolf man could leave with the guard. The Zora King stepped around the table and embraced Link. When Ralis released him, he smiled and clapped the wolf man on the shoulder. Link realized that Ralis wasn't just a couple of inches taller. The young king must have hit his first growth spurt, because he was almost the same height as Link. Very soon, Ralis would no longer be boy. Perhaps he was already a man grown and it had just taken Link this long to see it. War made boys grow faster than peace. "Link, brother, please rest tonight. Bathe yourself in the hot spring, enjoy some food at the Rusty Neptoona, and enjoy the music at Manbo's Mambo. Tonight you are my guests of honor. Tomorrow you will travel back to New Kakariko in the complete secrecy of water, under the protection of King Zora Ralis De Bon XIX."
Hello everyone! This is going to be a long author's note, but bear with me and read. You'll be glad you did, I promise.
First off, I would like to thank James Evans of the Zelda Informer staff who featured the Doppelganger Trilogy on their Fanfiction Friday feature. The explosion of new readers since the article came out has been amazing! I highly recommend you make Zelda Informer one of your daily stops for Zelda news if you don't already stop there. They may have an interesting sense of humor sometimes, but they are one of the few Zelda websites out there that still post something interesting every day, have an active staff, and really do focus on all aspects of the fan community as well as news.
Now back to your regularly scheduled comment section. This chapter is riddled with little hidden eastereggs for all you diehard Zelda Fans like me out there. How many of them can you catch? To the first person who manages to catch them all, I'll send one edited new paragraph from the Hero of Wolves revisions.
Speaking of the revisions, I am officially over three fourths of the way done. I have been focusing a little more on actually writing the trilogy, though, which means I am working on the LAST CHAPTER of Shadow Kingdom and the FIRST CHAPTER of the next book.
Here's the big deal: I am going to announce the real title of the final book today on the Doppelganger Trilogy facebook page. Along with the title, I am going to release a teaser image for the final book.
Next month, expect to see the final chapter of Shadow Kingdom and the first chapter of the new book posted simultaneously, just as it was with the end of Hero of Wolves. I will also release the full official book cover for the new book on the Doppelganger Trilogy facebook page.
Gosh, all this exciting stuff coming your way! Be sure to hope over to the facebook page to see the title of the final book and the teaser image. It's public, so you don't have to have a facebook account to see it.
Thank you for reading and sticking with me all this time, and please review! Reviews are really what excites me about releasing a new chapter, and the longer the better I say. :)
Don't forget to "like" the Doppelganger Trilogy on Facebook to get special progress updates in between chapters and other goodies.