My Inner Nightmare
By Queenie Z

Dedicated to Jenna, AKA Link's Queen, whose old shame has provided Zelda fans with laughter for ten years.

Chapter 1: Something Wicked This Way Comes

With early spring came early spring rains, and with early spring rains came early spring mud. Zelda crinkled her nose, lifting the skirt of her dress just enough so that it wouldn't drag across the damp, dirty grass of the castle courtyard. Her bare feet squishing into the soft earth with each step - there was no way she was going to try and traverse this path in those damned heels - she walked all the way to the castle's main gate, where a pair of guards saluted her. After flashing them a forced smile, she circled around the outer walls, leaning against them when she reached the place she had told Link to meet her.

For a moment, she wondered what she was doing, arranging a rendezvous with her friend out here like they were secret lovers or some such nonsense. But she knew that this was the only way they could have met that day; after all, Link's knight training took up nearly all of his time, save for a short afternoon recess, and to call him to the castle officially would have only wasted his time. In addition, she needed to tell him something urgent, something that couldn't wait until he was given leave by his superiors - something that shook the young princess to her core to think about.

Suddenly, Zelda caught something out of the corner of her eye. She screeched, turning to catch the apple that had been tossed at her and fumbling once it landed in her hands. Then she heard a familiar laugh and looked up.

"Nice catch," said Link with a cheeky grin and a bag filled with fresh fruit. "You can have it if you like."

Zelda sighed, smiling with a cocked eyebrow. "You shouldn't sneak up on people like that, Link."

Link shrugged. "'When strength isn't an option, use stealth'. At least, that's what my commander says."

"You really have been taking your training seriously, haven't you?"

He nodded, the boyish excitement she had come to love about him showing itself in his face. "It's really given me a sense of purpose," he said. "I have a home now - I have friends - and I get to keep doing what I'm good at."

"Using a sword?"

"Helping people." He took out a peach from the bag, sat it down, and used a small combat knife from his belt to cut the fruit in half. "And I wouldn't have been able to do it without your help, Zelda."

The princess smiled sweetly at him. "That's just like you. I'm glad you're doing so well." She looked down at her apple, her face growing serious. "...Link, I need to tell you something I dreamed about last night."

"Mmm?" Link's eyes widened in attention as he ate his snack. "You had another premonition?"

She nodded. "It's possible. And it concerns you."

"Am I going to need to save the world again?" he said half-jokingly (though Zelda knew he would have been more than willing had that been the case).

Zelda shut her eyes as she recalled her dream. "...In my dream, you were chasing after something - an evil shadow that was beckoning you. I tried to call out to you and tell you to stop, that it was dangerous, but you couldn't hear me." Her fingers tightened over the apple. "And then... then, the shadow swallowed you up."

Link looked at her, worried. "You think something evil is after me?"

"I think something evil is going to try and deceive you."

The young knight looked off to the side for a moment in thought. Then, he smiled again.

"I'm sure that whatever it is," he said, "we can defeat it."

She nodded once more. "I have the utmost confidence that you can defeat any foe you face." She took his left hand in her right. "I'll pray that your Triforce of Courage will protect you, but, still, I - "

"I'll be careful," finished Link with a confident look, "I promise."

"Thank you, Link." She looked up, blinking when she noticed storm clouds. "Oh, no, more storms... you should return to the barracks before it starts pouring again."

"Yeah." Link grabbed his bag of fruit in one arm and turned to leave. Then, he stopped and turned his head. "Oh! We're still going to the spring festival together, right, Zelda?"

She giggled. "Of course we are! I wouldn't go back on my promise to you, would I?"

"Just making sure!" he said, running off towards town with an excited little grin on his face.

With a wave, Zelda saw him off, then finally took a bite of her apple. As she ate, however, she couldn't help but wonder; storm clouds had always been a harbinger of evil in her dreams, and she couldn't shake the feeling that the ones forming above her head carried the same sort of meaning.

The spring festival began a week later, and thankfully the weather was much better by that time. Wearing a light blue gown made especially for the occasion (which Link had reacted to with a blush, a cough, and a sputtered "y-you look nice!", much to her amusement), Princess Zelda waited with the guards by the castle gate to meet and greet the friends of the royal family, who came to feast with them as per tradition. She had hoped that the greetings would come and go quickly, for Link was waiting for her in the courtyard to go into town and enjoy the festivities there.

After seeing the emissaries of King Zora off towards the inner parts of the castle, she sighed and placed a hand on her cheek. She hadn't enjoyed performing tedious royal duties such as this ever since she was young; oh, well, she thought, it was a small price to pay in exchange for the power to help her people. In any case, there should only be a few guests left, so she would be able to leave fairly soon.

That was when something odd caught her eye. A large covered wagon pulled by two dark brown horses approached the castle, with an unfamiliar woman as its driver. The guards quickly noticed that she was not a regular visitor like the others had been and stopped the wagon. Thought Zelda couldn't hear their conversation, the guards and the woman exchanged a few words - then, to her surprise, the guards simply stepped aside and allowed her to dismount her wagon.

"We'll keep your horses in the stables, ma'am," said one of the guards as he escorted her to the castle gates. "Your goods will be safe with us."

"Thank you," replied the woman. As she approached the castle, the princess became overwhelmed with a sharp headache and a ringing in her ears. That woman was clearly emitting some foul, dark magic, which triggered Zelda's pain. She'd felt this way around the now imprisoned Gerudo king, so there was no doubt that she had evil intentions.

She approached the woman and the guard, ignoring the ever-growing pain in her head. "Excuse me," she said, "this event is for friends of the royal family only. I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

The woman looked shocked - though Zelda could tell that something was phony about her surprise. Then, she tilted her head, her long, chestnut-colored hair falling against her sickeningly sweet smiling face. "Why, Zelda," she said, "I can't believe you've forgotten your old friend! Surely it hasn't been that long since my last trip to Hyrule."

Zelda frowned. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

"It's me," she replied, her brown eyes boring deep into the princess' skull, "your friend Jenna."

With a grunt, Zelda grabbed her head in pain. What kind of sorcery was this! This woman calling herself her "old friend" was trying to cast some sort of spell upon her! But it didn't seem to have any effect; the Triforce mark on her right hand glowed vividly, and her pain suddenly stopped.

The woman who called herself Jenna must have noticed her spell didn't work, for she took one look at the sacred mark and recoiled in shock. After glaring for a short moment at the princess, Jenna quickly composed herself.

"...I suppose it must have been a long time after all," she said. "Forgive me, Princess."

"Mistress Jenna was indeed invited to the feast, Your Highness," said the guard without missing a beat, "she has permission to be here."

"What!" cried Zelda, "What are you - "

"Now if you'll excuse me," interrupted Jenna as she brushed past the bewildered princess, "I'm going to take a look around. I've heard rumors that a legendary hero was also invited; I do intend to catch a glimpse of such a celebrity before I leave...!"

Zelda gasped, watching in horror as this witch so boldly wandered through the courtyard. "You - " she stormed after her, "I don't know what you are, but if you so much as look at Link I'll - "

She felt a strong hand grab her wrist and pull her swiftly away to the other side of the courtyard. Zelda struggled to break free.

"Impa!" she cried to her nursemaid, "Impa, let me go! That woman, she's - !"

"I know," said the Sheikah, her fierce red eyes narrowed. "You're lucky you haven't fallen under her spell."

"I have my Triforce to thank for that," replied the Princess, yanking herself from Impa's grip. "But she's after Link! Impa, we have to stop her!"

"Your Highness, please calm yourself," said Impa sternly. "You only know that this woman possesses powerful magic and the ability to alter a person's memories, if the guards are any indication." She frowned. "We have no idea what else she's capable of. To confront her now would be foolhardy!"

"But, Link is..."

The older woman crossed her arms. "I know Link is in danger," she said, "and that's precisely why you need to stay calm and observe the situation."

Zelda inhaled sharply, listening to what Impa had to say.

"She's posing as an old friend of the royal family's," she said, "so she won't harm him as long as doing so would blow her cover. Because you seem to be immune to her mind games, you should follow her and learn what exactly she wants from him."

The young princess nodded. "And what about you?"

"I do not possess a piece of the Triforce like you do, so I assume I would be susceptible to her magic." She headed for a door that led inside. "I'll stay hidden in the library for now, and uncover any information on this 'Jenna' and her magic that I can."

"All right," said Zelda resolutely. "I'll let you know what I find out."

"As will I." Impa opened the door. "...Be careful, Princess." She entered and shut it behind her, leaving Zelda alone in the courtyard.

With another deep breath, the princess turned and ran in the direction that this so-called Jenna went.

When Zelda heard a mixture of familiar laughter, she quickly darted behind a garden statue and listened.

"Jenna, my dear friend," rang an old, deep voice with a hearty laugh, "how have you been?"

Zelda was shocked - it was her father! He must have fallen under this wicked sorceress' spell too!

"Your Majesty, my old friend, how I have missed you!" said Jenna in a putridly chipper tone, "I have been just fine! It is really nice to see you again."

When Zelda dared to peer out from her hiding spot, she saw Jenna and the king in a heartfelt embrace. The sight made her sick to her stomach - how dare she play her father, the revered King of Hyrule, for a fool like this!

"Jenna, my sweet daughter," - his sweet daughter! - "what have you acquired through your travels this past year?"

"You must see some of the new cloth I picked up in the city of Skyile, the great city of light." Zelda gritted her teeth - no such city even existed, and yet her father was falling for every word she said!

The king smiled broadly at the woman. "Jenna my daughter, you must show me what you've acquired." The princess' heart sank each time her father called this witch his "daughter". She watched as he took Jenna's hand and began to lead her away. "Come now, we'll talk more inside."

"Oh, I'd love to," said Jenna, slipping her hand away, "but first... I had heard rumors that a mighty warrior of great strength and virtue was here at the castle today. Might you be able to tell me where he is?"

"A mighty warrior?" The king placed a fat finger to his bearded chin in thought, then began to laugh again. "You don't mean young Link, do you?"

Jenna smiled wickedly. "Oh... is that his name?"

"I wouldn't go so far as to call him a 'mighty warrior'," chuckled the king, "he is still just a child no older than my daughter, and a rookie knight to boot!" He shook his head in amusement. "He has been a wonderful friend to Zelda all these years, however, so I suppose I'll give him that."

Though Zelda wanted nothing more than to knock her father upside the head for speaking of Link in such a way, she had more important matters to attend to.

"Come to think of it," said the king, pointing to the north, "I think I saw him head that way a short while ago."

Jenna's expression grew almost gleeful. "Thank you, my friend," she said, heading towards where the king pointed. Immediately, Zelda tailed her, walking right past her father in the process.

"Oh, Zelda!" he said as he saw her walk past, "Did you ever say hello to your friend Je - "

"I'm busy, Father."

The king cocked an eyebrow. "Such a moody daughter I have," he mused to himself.

When she reached the northern end of the courtyard, the princess hung low in the shadows of the connecting corridor, hiding in a blind spot she know wouldn't be visible. Her breath stopped when she saw Link sitting in the grass, making a chain out of small flowers as he waited. But then she remembered that there were guards in the area as well; Impa had said that she wouldn't harm Link as long as her cover could be compromised, and knowing that calmed her slightly.

As Jenna approached, Zelda saw Link suddenly wince in pain in the same manner she had - that's right, he possessed the same sensitivity to evil magic that she did! His reactions honed from both his journeys and his knight's training, he jumped up, glared at the evil woman, and placed a hand on his sword's hilt.

"Who are you!" he growled, "What do you want!"

Jenna simply smiled, staring deep into Link's eyes. "Are you the 'Hero of Time' I've been told of? The one who saved Hyrule?"

Zelda was stunned; there was no way she could have known that he held that title! Link's journey in an alternate history as the Hero of Time was a secret only herself, Link, and Impa knew about! However, nothing could have prepared her for what happened next.

Link lowered his hand from his sword, took Jenna's in it, and kissed her fingers.

"Oh, Goddesses, no," Zelda whimpered. She had hoped that his Triforce would protect him from her magic like hers had; however, it seemed that the nature of the Triforce of Courage was quite different from that of her own, and he fell under her spell regardless.

He lifted his head and grinned. "Who might this beautiful young lady be?"

The princess gagged as Jenna giggled coyly. "My name is Jenna. I'm a traveling merchant from the Great Lebian Coast." Again with the names of places that didn't exist! "I have been a friend of the royal family for a long time, and I come every year for Hyrule's annual spring festival." No she hadn't, that wicked, lying demoness!

"Nice to meet you, Mistress Jenna," said Link in a highly uncharacteristically suave manner. "You are as beautiful as a winter rose." He kissed Jenna's hand again, making Jenna giggle and Zelda cringe in disgust. She couldn't believe that Link, the same Link who would turn a brilliant shade of red when a pretty girl so much as smiled at him, was kissing this woman's hand and reciting corny lines like the hero of a cheap romance novel!

"So," continued Link, still not letting go of Jenna's hand, "what are you doing tonight?"

Jenna shut her eyes and smiled, just barely containing her terrible glee. "Nothing, really; I was just going to retire to my wagon and cook supper before settling in front of a fire to read a book."

"Why don't you join me tonight for dinner, then?"

"I would love to go!"

Link finally let go of her hand and smiled goofily at her. "I'll pick you up this evening, then."

"All right." Jenna turned and left, but not before glancing back at Link one last time. She grinned, winking seductively. "See you tonight."

As soon as she knew Jenna was gone, Zelda rushed over to Link, who was still grinning stupidly like a fool in love. In a panic, she grabbed his shoulder and began to shake him.

"Link, snap out of it!" she said, "That woman's put a spell on you!"

The young knight cocked his eyebrow and yanked Zelda's hands away. "What's gotten into you all of the sudden?" he asked, "Am I not allowed to ask a pretty girl out to dinner?"

"I'm telling you, Link, she's evil!" Zelda's eyes filled with tears of frustration as she spoke. "She's tricking you! She's the shadow from my dream - she's going to kill you!"

Link simply laughed, placing a hand on her head. "Zelda, if you're jealous, you can just tell me so."

She glared tearfully at him. It was so clear to her that this sorceress was after Link's heart and, most likely, his life; yet he had been so bewitched by her that he couldn't even see that much! "...You're unbelievable," she spat out as she turned, running off to join Impa in the library.

With a sigh, Link scratched his head. "Ah, well," he muttered, "I should go get ready. I can't keep Jenna waiting, after all."