A/N- This is my second story, but the first one for Legend of Zelda, so don't be too hard on it, please. If you see anything wrong or have questions just PM or review me, I will answer as best I can. I will post once (or twice if I am feeling nice) a week because I have school and you know how that sucks away your time.
A/N2: My sister and I wrote a prologue to this story, we hope you like it! (Edited: March 4, 2013)
A/N3: My sister and I have edited and written an addition to the prologue. It shows more about Zelda and Link's friendship. We hope you like it! Sorry it took so long.(Edited: March 12, 2013)
Summary- Just because the warlord was defeated does not mean the adventure is over…
A new enemy has her sights set on Hyrule, and will stop at nothing until it's her own. Zelda is forced to make a horrible choice that leaves the one person who might be able to help her in no position to be saving anyone. Zelda is in danger, the kingdom is in danger, and her hero is on the run.
Disclaimer- If did own Zelda would I be writing fanfictions in my spare time? No. So I do not own Zelda (though I wish I did...).
The warlord Ganondorf had been defeated; his dreams of conquest and power were once again in shambles. He had been a powerful warrior and a mighty magic wielder, but his plan for mastery had been flawed, the Empress decided as she looked over the land known as Hyrule from her position on the high mountains.
He had not expected that anyone would step out of their fear and stand against him. He had not expected that anyone would have the skill or nerve to actually stand and fight him, let alone succeed in a battle. She would never make such mistakes; she was wiser, she decided. She looked at the army that stood behind her, awaiting her commands. Ganondorf's rise and fall from power had served to weaken the kingdom of Hyrule, which left it vulnerable. It was a weakness she was more than willing to exploit. A full on obvious attack, like the one Ganondorf had planned, had already proven to be a faulty tactic. She had other plans in mind, stealthy plans. She had conquered much over the course of her lifetime and had once been the supreme ruler of a mighty kingdom, but had been defeated by the people who opposed her. Now she was nothing more than a queen in exile, a queen without a kingdom, but not for long. Soon this land and everything in it would belong to her.
All she needed was patience. Since the time of Ganon's demise she had had many of her soldiers slowly and carefully infiltrate their way into Hyrule's towns, becoming, for all intents and purposes, part of the people. Already she had enough men in place for her to make a successful first move. All she needed now was the right moment. She knew an opening would presently present itself. Soon she would have this kingdom and her army would swell. Then she would have the power to reclaim her old kingdom, regain everything she had lost and become more powerful than ever. She called to her commander.
"Prepare the troops for battle and prepare my generals for a war conference. It is about time we prepared to make our final move."
"Yes, Empress," he replied promptly, bowing low before he left to do her bidding.
For the first time in many months, a smile speared across her face as she turned once again to the land known as the kingdom of Hyrule. Her dark eyes settled upon the soaring towers of Hyrule castle that could just barely be seen from her distance. Soon, very soon, it would be hers.
Princess Zelda ignored the hand of the guard offered to help her mount her dapple grey steed. She knew it was proper manners to accept his help, but she preferred to do things herself.
Her guard had expected as much-for she had hardly accepted his help-but out of courtesy and proper manners, he had offered just the same. He smiled at her, touching his hand to his helmet in a half salute. She, in turn, nodded her thanks, a small smile touching her own lips.
She sat side saddle as was customary and fitting to her attire. Truth be told, she did not much care for sitting that way. It was so much harder than sitting astride, but if she were to be seen sitting astride in her long royal gown, it could cause no less than scandal-not from her own men or the people of CastleTown, but by the visiting lords and ladies. The soldiers mounted their own steeds behind her and she led them towards the center of the courtyard of Hyrule Castle, where the other members of the hunting party awaited her arrival. She looked up at the clear blue sky of early morning and sighed contentedly.
She had spent the last several months, from autumn to this fine morning of early spring, trying to rebuild and re-strengthen her weakened kingdom from the warlord Ganondorf's attack of twilight last year, during the summer and through the first part of early fall. They had been months of pure nightmare and the rebuilding process after the aftermath had not been much better. She had inherited the kingdom after her parents' death, left to rule in their stead. According to Hyrule customs, she would not be able to declare herself queen until she came of age on her twentieth birthday. She had no desire to rush things though.
Deep down, she still had a small doubt that she was not yet ready, which had only been compounded when Ganon had attacked and she had been forced to surrender. She had just turned seventeen at the time and had lacked experience in areas such as defense and military command-for Hyrule had been at peace for many years. Although she had been naive, she had fought back from her position as prisoner and had tried to lead and help her people with all the wisdom of her forefathers and mothers. This day was the first time in months that she had the opportunity to take a break from all the problems of resurgences that surrounded her life completely. It was time for one of the few annual hunts that the lords and ladies of Hyrule participated in and, as ruler of the kingdom, she was duty bound to lead the party and host the feast afterwards.
When she was younger, she had found the formalities to be rather boring but, at the moment, she gladly welcomed the diversion. She loved riding horseback and she was quite adept with her bow. She had insisted her father teach her how to be a markswoman when she was a child and had never regretted her rather impulsive decision. She also, unlike most of her female counterparts, possessed some skill with a blade, also taught to her by her father, this time at his insistence. The memory of her kindly father who had been one of Hyrule's better kings tugged rather painfully at her heart and she forced her mind onto other subjects.
This, thankfully, was not as hard as it usually was because she arrived where all the nobles and few knights, who were invited, were gathered. They all were standing beside their horses. They bowed as she appeared and she nodded her acknowledgement. Then they all began to mount up. A few of her father's old friends came up to give their customary greetings, but her attention was not wholly on them but rather on a slender but strong green clad warrior who stood near a beautifully proportioned and colored horse. The handsome youth smiled at her as he gently stoked his horse's muzzle before mounting.
A memory flashed unbidden through her mind of the day seven months ago, when the three of them had fought the warlord on the darkened plains outside the castle. She had been sitting directly behind him, clutching his waist as he tried to maneuver his horse around, and defend against, Ganondorf's magical army of murderous wraith riders. She had then let go of him and clutched the horse's flanks with her knees as she notched a light arrow and brought up her bow, trying to get a sight on the warlord. She needed to slow him down, so her counterpart could make use of his sword. It was not long after that, when they had finally unhorsed the warlord, that she and the young warrior's steed had been separated from him and Ganondorf by a magic barrier. He had been left to fight the warlord in one on one combat alone, with the fate of the entire kingdom resting on his shoulders. She could do nothing but watch the fight near the smoking stones of her battle devastated castle. Her mind was brought back to the present by a slight cough from behind her.
With a start, she realized that the hunting party had been ready to move out and her wayward thoughts had made her oblivious to the fact. Not only that, she thought embarrassed, she had also been staring directly at Link, the young green clad woodsman, in a highly undignified manner.
It had been only for a few seconds, but a princess was not supposed to behave in such an unseemly manner in front of guests. The latter were probably thinking the worst about it too, judging by the looks a few of them gave her. She felt the heat of a blush burning on her features, which served only to confirm the suspicions of the ones who had seen her. When she realized this, she felt the blush deepen further. Shooting Link an apologetic glance, she began urge her horse forward to start the day's festivities. Link returned her stare with a curious expression on his face and rather quirky smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.
Feeling uncustomarily hot and uncomfortable, she gave the signal to start and the hunting party moved out. They went through the castle's inner gates, then through the town that surrounded the castle, and finally through the outer gates of the castle.
The happy atmosphere of the hunting party soon spread through everyone and Zelda's previous discomfort vanished. They were headed northeast to the to the rocky moorland planes by the limestone ravines that ran behind and to the side of the castle.
Zelda patted her steed's neck and watched as the company, now that it was out in the open, rearranged itself so that several groups of friends emerged from the previous double line. She found herself falling back until she was side by side with Link and a dark brown haired man of about thirty, with a neatly trimmed beard, called Lord Dunlin. The overdressed lord tried to catch her eye. She nodded politely at him before her attention swung past him and fell on Link.
She eyed the young rider at her side, giving the same courteous greeting but this time it had a little more warmth. They shared the understanding that came from being exposed to the same circumstance and fighting the same battle for freedom. He returned her smile with one of his own, his dark blue eyes almost alight with a merry glint. He casually tossed his dark blond hair out of his eyes as the early morning breeze played with it.
Zelda noticed that, despite his casual outward appearance and smile, he was looking uneasy. She guessed it was because he was the only one of the company who was not of noble blood to receive an invitation to the hunt. She knew he felt like he did not belong with the lords and ladies because he had been born a peasant. His social standing did not mean very much to her. She easily acknowledged the fact that, without him and his selfless acts of courage, the kingdom might still be under the rule of a tyrant.
They had met in the strain and turmoil of Ganondorf's take over and had been forced to work together to save the kingdom. Perhaps it was the circumstance or possibly there was just something about him that had made her like him at first sight. They had come to know each other informally during the kingdom's turmoil and after she was restored to her throne, she still considered him a friend. As a ruler of a kingdom, she had to be extremely careful about making friendships. However in Link's case, she had trusted him instantly and nothing had changed.
After the kingdom had been saved, he had first backed into the nervous formal relationship of a peasant to their ruler but, as soon as he saw that she was not going to change her attitude towards him just because of their very different stations, their friendship had resumed. He treated her with the courtesy of her rank but would not hesitate to open up or joke with her. He was one of the only people who cared to listen to her as a friend. She had only known him for a few months and, because her duties did not allow for much free time, but she felt pleased with their blossoming friendship. He also knew the burden she carried because he, like she, bore a piece of the triforce.
At the moment, he was probably feeling slightly awkward because aside from the soldiers, he was the odd one out. He was funny that way, she decided, he had not wanted to be publicly honored for his deeds with fame or ceremony, but he did not want to be thrust completely aside was known around the castle and known by the people he had saved directly, but since he was not attention seeking and did not crave hero worship, most of the people knew him by name only and he seemed to like it that way.
She was about to break the silence and speak when Lord Dunlin brought his mount closer and cleared his throat. A peasant was traveling slowly down the path, herding along three pigs, and heading to Castle Town's market. Dunlin brought her attention to it with a sweep of his hand.
"I had no idea that this hunt was going to take place this close to the filth of swine," he said, his face wrinkled in an expression of disgust.
Although his hand gestured towards the farmer, his eyes were riveted on Link and Zelda knew by the inflection of his tone that the comment was intended for him and not the swineherd.
She turned a worried eye on her friend to see that he had caught the insinuation. He narrowed his eyes almost imperceptibly for a fleeting moment and then a shrewd smile spread across his face. Much to her surprise, he maintained his silence.
She was relieved that it went no further than that, but judging by the look on Dunlin's face when Link did not respond, the peace was not going to last.
Dunlin was not only a lord but also a knight. During the rebuilding process, he had often come to lend a hand and had hardly ever had a decent word to say about Link, or the small Resistance group that had backed him. Zelda supposed his superior attitude, insults, and recent attempt to bait him, was because Link, being a mere youth with no formal military training, served to make him feel derisory and foolish.
He resented the fact that a farm boy had succeeded where he, a royal knight had failed. 'In a word he was jealous,' she thought and he was not the only one; there were a handful of others that felt that way. It was foolish to let arrogance get in the way of gratitude, she thought then.
"I cannot comprehend your motive for inviting a manner-less peasant along on the hunt and banquet."
Zelda glared at the arrogant lord Dunlin who had brought his horse even closer to her own. My motives are not for the sole purpose of your comprehension, she thought slightly angry. There is much more to people than their class.
Lord Dunlin had obviously not noticed her warning angry look, for he continued.
"A peasant at the royal banquet," he scoffed. "I doubt he is even capable of discerning the difference between a soup spoon and a teaspoon," he finished scathingly.
She shot lord Dunlin a disparaging glance. She was fed up with his haughty attitude, insulting comments, and gall to bad talk a person who was well within earshot.
She was deciding whether or not to tell him that in calling a guest-one that she had invited personally-a manner-less peasant, he had quite stooped to the level of manner-less himself for the slight reflected on her as well. Or perhaps she might remind him that, if it were not for Link, he would either be dead or enslaved, in which case, spoons would hardly be of any use to him.
A princess was supposed to be poised and dignified at all times but she would not just stand there and let the ungrateful lord insult her friend in front of her. She was intending to say something reprimanding but also courteous when Link, probably noting her dark expression, jumped in.
"It's alright," he said. "Lord Dunlin is right in his assumption. I probably would not be able to tell the difference between a soup spoon and a tea spoon. In fact, had I not left Ordon Province, I probably would not know what a spoon is at all." He paused for a moment his face a picture of seriousness. He was obviously aware that by now he had captured their attention completely. "You see," he continued, "in Ordon we do things differently. We don't even use silverware at all; we just eat with our faces. Why don't I sit next to you at the banquet and show you how? It would be a great cultural experience for you, sir."
Zelda tried to stifle a chuckle.
Lord Dunlin looked completely horrified for a moment then he snorted. His facial expression darkened as he dug his heels into his steed's sides and rode ahead.
"Have I said something wrong?" Link asked innocently, looking perplexed.
Zelda was taken slightly aback wondering if he had in fact been serious about Ordon's lack of silverware. The small worm of doubt only grew in her mind.
"I am sorry my comment cost you Lord Dunlin's company," He finished, a slight glimmer in his eyes.
"That's alright," she assured him. "I was starting to find his company rather irksome," she said, distracted, trying to remember if she had ever read anything about the dining customs of Ordon in her culture or commerce books. She bit her lip as curiosity and uncertainty got the better of her, then she blurted, "Were you speaking the truth? Are there really no spoons in Ordon?"
She looked directly at him. The glimmer in his eyes seemed to grow and a smirk spread across his face in answer to her question. She blushed, realizing, a bit too late, that he had indeed been teasing, as she had first thought.
I need to stop taking everything so seriously, she decided as she shook her head and chuckled. That was a major problem with her, she had always been rather serious but her position as ruler of Hyrule only served to make it worse. It was her job to take things seriously, but she had to admit she liked Link's light teasing manner.
The party had reached the designated hunting grounds and they split up into small groups since they were not large game hunting. When Lord Dunlin saw that she had no intention of leaving the barbarian peasant's side he slowed his horse's pace to fall in step with her once more. The three of them, along with two soldiers, set off on their own. Zelda led the way along a cliff-like rise of whitish-grey limestone that cut through the lightly forested moor-like lands around them.
This cliff, which branched off into many, surrounded the north side of the castle. She knew where some of the best grouse hunting spots were so she guided her steed that way with her knees whilst she readied her bow with her free hands. She was determined not to let Lord Dunlin spoil the pleasant mood of her first day off in months. Her life was almost completely comprised of duty because of her position and she did not want the small time she got to herself to be marred by someone's bad attitude and power play.
It was not long before a light flutter in the grass alerted her to prey. Bringing her horse to a halt, she signaled for the others to follow suit. Focusing on the spot in the long grass, she brought her bow into firing position. With an easy motion, she sighted along the shaft of her arrow and waited for her prey to break cover.
Dunlin, however, intending to show off his superiority and skill in front of Link, moved his horse forward and shot prematurely. His hurried shot missed the prey by inches and the terrified grouse burst from the grass it had been sheltering in to fly towards the cliff. It was easily the biggest, most finely feathered grouse she had ever seen. She had the skill to shoot targets from the air but the bird flew into a deep crack in the limestone cliffs to their left. The crack was an entrance to one of the many shallow caves of the limestone ravines and the bird flew straight inside before she had a chance to fire.
"What a gorgeous prize," Lord Dunlin whispered under his breath and started after it. "It will have cornered itself in there. We can make short work of it."
Although she was annoyed that his actions had caused her to miss the shot in the first place, she found herself slinking behind him just as eagerly towards the cave.
"Stay at the entrance in case it comes out again," she said urgently to Link.
As she spoke, she saw him fidget, looking almost like a wolf scenting for danger, eyeing the cave distrustfully. She noticed the movement but shoved it to the corner of her mind as she was too preoccupied by the excitement of the hunt. She quietly eased herself inside, knowing it was never wise to dash headlong into dark places.
The cave was dark compared to the dazzling sunlight of outside and it took her eyes a while to adjust to the gloom. The air inside was still and musty and it carried with it a faint smell, almost like that of a stable. By the faint shadow ahead of her, she noticed that Lord Dunlin had also stopped as he listened for his prey. Zelda did likewise, getting a ready grip on her bow, her arrow already notched. She focused on listening for any sound of movement. Her muscles were tensed and ready for action.
She jumped and nearly cried out as she felt a presence beside her and a gauntleted hand lightly grabbed her arm. She was about to strike out with her bow when she recognized the leather gauntlet and the figure behind it. She stared aghast at Link. She had been listening hard but had not even heard his progress over the caves sandy ground. He was very soft footed when he wanted to be, she noted. She gave him a curious smile and was about to ask what he was about when she caught sight of the urgency in his eyes. He motioned for silence then pointed towards the ground. She followed the direction of his finger and stared at the sandy patch of ground he had indicated. As her eyes adjusted fully, she focused on an odd indentation.
She recognized it immediately as a foot print, an animal foot print. It looked like that of a giant reptile with heavy claws. She placed the species instantly from her natural science studies. It belonged to the creature commonly known as a lizalfos. They were similar to giant lizards that walked on their hind legs. They possessed a slight intelligence and were in league with the dark creatures of the world. Their overlapping scales created a natural armor and they sometimes supplemented it with stolen breastplates and plate-meil. They fought with whatever weapon they could get their hands upon, usually a sword of some sort. Many of them attached either a spiked mace or an axe head to their tales to enhance their attack, giving them the ability of lashing out when their opponent least expected.
All in all, they were some nasty creatures and would not be pleasant to run into. Unfortunately for her and her companions, lizalfos where known to favor dank caves and other dark places. This was easy for them because they were not cold blooded like their smaller, less dangerous reptile relatives.
Link signaled towards her again and managed to communicate that he thought there were three of them. She nodded her understanding and was about to signal Lord Dunlin silently inform him they needed to back out of the cave quietly. Unfortunately, he had noticed Link's motion out of the corner of his eye before she had a chance warn him. Before she could stop him, he turned angrily on the young warrior.
"So," he said in a low scornful voice, low so as not to startle the grouse, "I see you are incapable of following even the simplest of orders."
Zelda winced as the sound of his lowered voice seemed to echo and reecho through the cave, and motioned for him to be silent.
His eyebrows knit together in an angry frown at her gesture. "With all due respect your majesty, you should stop shielding him," he said furiously his voice rising. "If he were a soldier under my command he would be court-martialed for disobedience. Allowing one with such a disregard for discipline under your command could be devastating in a combat situation."
Zelda and Link stood completely still, cringing as the last words of his rant bounced off the walls of the cave. She craned her ears, hoping that by some miracle his angry outburst had been missed by the creatures lurking there. She slowly started to back towards the cave entrance with Link not far behind her.
Lord Dunlin realized he had missed something and had the presence of mind to follow them, looking perplexed. Then a rustling near the back of the cave and the light clink of metal armor reached Zelda's ears. She breathed in a quiet gasp, her heart beat racing.
"No good," Link said. "They've heard us. Run!"
As if all of one mind, they tuned simultaneously and ran for the light of the entrance. She felt the hair on the back of her neck prickle as she heard the pounding footfalls behind her. When they reached open ground all three turned, bows at the ready. Zelda half noted that Dunlin had a terrified expression on his face, probably because he had no idea who they were facing.
The first of the scaly beasts dashed out of the cave towards them, murder in its eyes, weapon drawn, and mouth agape in a rasping battle cry that died instantly as the three hunters fired at its unprotected head simultaneously. It fell to the ground but its companion was close behind it, already leaping over its partner's lifeless body. It ran at them with terrifying speed. Zelda knew it would reach them before she had a chance to ready another arrow and aim. Her next arrow was only half notched. She and Lord Dunlin quickly backed away, terrified. The bow was their only weapon and they tried to put some distance between them and the monster while they desperately nocked their arrows.
Link had his sword with him, sheathed across his back in his usual manner. As they stepped back he stepped forward, drew his sword, and struck down the lizalfos in one swift movement.
The giant reptile had not been expecting this sudden attack and was caught completely off guard. It was dead before it hit the ground. A third came at the young swordsman with its rusty blade upraised. It struck forward with a massive force. Link parried the blade easily with a small circular movement, managing to deflect several others of the lizalfos's strikes in the same way.
Once Link had gauged his opponent's skill he struck forward with a swift driving motion. The creature leaped aside but could not avoid getting nicked. Furious, it charged forward and its chipped blade met Link's in a sword grind. Their swords locked hilt to hilt. The young blond warrior began to push his attacker back, even though the creature was at least a head taller. He pushed the reptile back and then unlocked their blades just as the lizard lashed out with his tale. Link leaped nimbly over the axe head and struck while he was still in midair. Once again the creature tried to dodge but he was too slow. The lizalfos staggered back.
This battle had only taken place over a few seconds and Dunlin was still having trouble getting an arrow on his bowstring. He cursed softly to himself as the arrow slipped off the waxed string again.
Zelda, for her part, had her arrow nocked and stood ready. The creature staggered back from Link's strike but somehow managed to right itself. Before it could once again go on the offensive, she spotted an opening, aimed at its head, and loosed a shaft. There was a solid 'thwack' as her arrow his home and this time the monster did not right itself. Link nodded his thanks as he thrust his sword point down into the ground and took out his own bow. He nocked drew and aimed in the span of a couple seconds. He seemed to shoot at nothing back towards the cave entrance.
Lord Dunlin finally nocked his own arrow and brought up his bow. But, as soon as he did so, his mouth fell open with surprise. For a moment he said nothing as he looked between Link, Zelda, and the fallen reptiles. He had the manners to nod reluctant thanks towards the young swordsman who had probably just saved his hide. Then, feeling his pride had taken a bit of a blow, he looked around quickly for someone who had behaved with even less valor and dignity than he. His gaze fell upon the two hapless soldiers who had not even dismounted from their steeds or moved from their first position. He walked over and began to berate them for cowardice.
"These creatures were not exactly the game I had in mind," Zelda said softly as she tried to quiet her beating heart. She took several paces forwards to retrieve her arrows.
Link grinned at her, "Not a fan of lizard stew I take it?"
Zelda made a face.
"If they taste anything like they smell, no," she said, then added, "I should probably stop Lord Dunlin's reprimanding before he rips my solders to shreds." She sighed, "Too bad we must go back empty handed. It is a pity we lost the grouse, it was a beauty."
"I don't think it's as lost as you think," he told her with a grin as he walked towards a bush by the entrance to the cave. He reached inside its foliage. When he retracted his hand, she saw he held the body of the grouse transfixed by his arrow.
She stared at him dumbfounded, remembering his apparent wild shot after the battle. She felt a foolish unladylike grin spread across her face and she shook her head at him. How he had had the presence of mind to shoot the grouse right after the last foe had fallen, she had no idea. Perhaps it was due to all the combat practice he had gone through to save the kingdom.
When they reached the horses, Lord Dunlin saw the grouse and could not help but bluster, "How in Hyrule...?" he never finished, instead he left his half formed sentence hanging.
Link handed him the grouse with a wolfish smile.
"I spent more time practicing with my sword then I did with my spoons," he said quietly.
Lord Dunlin snatched the prize angrily away from the youth and shot him a dark glare.
Zelda had to resist the urge to smile again.
Zelda watched from her tower window as the guests of the hunt and the feast left the castle. Despite Link's teasing about his apparent lack of manners, he had actually carried himself with nearly as much dignity and decorum as her other guests- which only served to peeve lord Dunlin further. As she watched Link leave the castle, she wondered what she was going to do about him. Now that the kingdom was somewhat stable, she realized that she had never done anything at all besides giving her thanks to honor him for his service. Having made up her mind, she sat down at her desk and began to compose a letter. It was late and she knew he would probably find a place to stay for the night in the city or camp on the plains. If she sent out a page boy with her letter in the morning, he would probably be able to catch him before he left the province.
Zelda stood in the top keep of one of her upper towers. It was meant to be used as the last place of defense if the castle was ever to be overrun. It was meant to be the final place of refuge. But, instead, it had served as her first place of defense and had utterly failed as a refuge. All around her was the ugly print of battle and death. She was in trouble, and there was no way she could have foreseen the situation that she found herself in- the near surprise attack that she had just faced. She stood alone now, amidst the blood and death and dared not move due to the threat of her captor and the men at her back.
Her captor was an imperious woman with eyes so black that one could not see the pupils. The black of her eyes were in stark contrast to her silver grey hair. Despite the color of her hair, she did not appear to be too much older than her late-twenties or early-thirties.
"I asked for your surrender, princess," the woman commanded for the second time. "Surrender or I will kill you," her voice rasped in Zelda's ear.
"I would rather die than surrender this kingdom to you!" Zelda cried.
"Oh, I see," the woman drew back slightly, smiling. "I made the wrong threat, surrender or I will make your kingdom suffer. I will release my army upon your civilians and unleash my power against your kingdom in a manner that will be whispered about in fear for ages to come. However, if you surrender, their lives will be spared as long as they obey me."
Zelda was hoping that the woman would not say this; she knew that these were not idle threats. At this very moment, she knew that this woman's army was hiding in the passages under the castle, and that there were others spread discreetly throughout the main towns. They were in the perfect position to launch an attack that could indeed be devastating enough to be spoken of in fear for years.
This woman and her army had been slowly and carefully infiltrating their way into all her holdings and she, her steward, a couple of her advisors, and several of her captains, had not realized the implications of it all until it was too late.
The kingdom and its army were still recovering from the Twilight invasion; her intelligence systems, watch outposts and commanders were weak and nearly ineffectual as a consequence. It had only been a matter of moments ago that she and those people had called and emergency and secret meeting to discuss what they had thought a potential threat: secret because they feared that some people in the castle were part of the infiltrating group, and potential threat because they had not realized exactly how deep and rooted the threat had already become.
They had obviously been right to fear that there were enemies on the inside, right to fear the implications of it all, but far too late for it to have done any good at all. Of the group of ten people and soldiers who had finally recognized the threat and danger, she was the only one who still remained alive.
As it was now, there was no way that she could mobilize her army in time to counter an attack. The woman herself was a powerful magic wielder, Zelda could tell this the moment that she stepped foot in her chambers. All things considered, she knew that it would be easy for the intruder to carry out her threats, she needed time and surrendering could buy her some. Protecting her people was her first priority.
Slowly she nodded, "I will surrender," she whispered, "as long as you promise not to attack my people."
"Excellent," the woman smirked, "good choice. Although I see no problem with taking over kingdoms by force, I really prefer to do it in a more subtle manner. This way gives me a much greater chance to win over a kingdom and then keep it. After civil wars, the promises of something better when the ashes clear, eventually paves the way for more stability and less rebellion later. People don't think of an invading new ruler as a tyrant if they were first viewed as a savior and a peacemaker… No one has to know that that new ruler was the one who first caused the grief they saved the people from."
"Not everyone is as much of a fool as you think!" Zelda said defiantly, "there are many powerful warriors in this land who will see though such a falsehood and will bring about your downfall."
"The warriors you are referring to are the Resistance, fighters that helped to bring about the demise of the warlord Ganondorf, aren't you? But It is not just the Resistance though," the Empress mused, correctly reading Zelda's expression. "You refer especially to Link, the boy who defeated Ganon in one to one combat. As he is, he might be a bit of a challenge." she admitted reluctantly, before continuing. "But he and your Resistance can see though lies and rise up to stop me only if they are in a position to do so. What if they were otherwise engaged?" she asked, her eyes cold. "What then, princess?"
Zelda frowned, a sinking feeling beginning to grow in the pit of her stomach as she tried to work her mind through the woman's last cryptic questions and statements. She had a guess as to what the woman meant and began to feel the confidence of her earlier words begin to wane. The Empress's next words confirmed Zelda's dark suspicions further.
"I am positive your little hero would come to save you if you asked him to now, but, what if he could be made to hate you, despise you above all else. Would he come to save you then?" She smiled wickedly.
Zelda felt rage born of fear bubbling up in her, "You will never be able to catch him."
"Don't be foolish," the Empress chided, "catching him will be the easy part. I don't even have to do anything. He will come directly to me because you already asked him to come to this very castle tomorrow."
Zelda gasped, she had not told anyone of this. She had only written it in that private letter. It was only then that she realized she had been staring straight into the icy gaze of the Empress. She was riveted to their dark stare and found she could not turn away. The Empress stared deeper and her smirk widened.
"Better yet, you are the only one who knows of this, save me now," she laughed viciously. "Just think how easy it will be to arrange it all. He will come unsuspecting so that he can help you, and you will betray him, possibly to his death."
"I would never betray him," Zelda hissed angrily.
The Empress laughed, "Don't be stupid your highness, you will do anything I tell you to do. Although," she continued, "luckily for you, I will not actually require you to actually do anything at the moment."
Zelda tore her gaze away from the Empress with a shudder; the way she talked of terrible things so lightly as if she were making a joke made Zelda want to cringe every time she spoke.
The Empress snapped her fingers and two of her soldiers came forward at her command.
"Empress," they said in unison as they bowed before her.
"Guard the princess," she commanded, "I will need her for my plans success, so guard her well and don't let her try anything. And also, I want you to create a worthy scenario to frame her precious hero for treason, this scene would be quite sufficient," she gestured to the death that surrounded them. She smiled at Zelda's horrified expression, "It will make it more believable to everyone else."
She turned her back and started chanting in an odd language. Her body started to morph and she transformed into a perfectly identical copy of Zelda. Zelda stared on in dismay and disbelief. It was as if she were looking into a mirror.
"Now you see what I can do, just imagine the chaos I can cause and this is but one of my skills... But just having your image is not enough," she said, sneering. "It takes more than that to convincingly appear to be be another," She said, her voice sounding now exactly like Zelda's except for the infections of her words. "I'm going to need for you to speak and walk around, show me how you move... and don't even think to play me false by changing your normal mannerisms, I have seen and heard enough already to pick out any such lie. And, if you try anything like that, I will just consider it a break in your agreement to surrender. My soldiers are all still in place after all."
Zelda knew she had no choice. A while later the Empress exited the tower chamber, mimicking the exact way Zelda carried herself, down to her walking gait; leaving the real Zelda alone in the room except for the Empress's guards and the problem of a magic wielding, shape-shifting mind reader who was out to conquer Hyrule.
Did you like it? Can't wait for more? Hanging in the suspense? Well too bad! *5 minutes of evil laughter* Just kidding :3
I have a question- Who are you top 3-5 favorite Link?
Mine are TP Link, SS Link, the first Link (from the Magna Hyrule Historia) then OoT Link (from the 3DS)