Hello! Are you ready for another exciting installment of Enter the Shadows? Of course you are! Though I must warn you, there's some slight AU going on in this chapter. It's not so much a changing of the world so much as it is my interpretation of it, so I apologize to those of you who get really anal about that sort of thing (because I know those people are out there.) That being said; please enjoy the chapter!
Legend of Zelda and anything related to it belongs to Nintendo. Praise be to their genius!
It didn't take Link long to maneuver his way through the bustling townsfolk, who gave him plenty of room as they went about their day, to the large doors of the castle's protective wall. The guards, however, weren't as easy to get past. Link thought they seemed a little jumpy and briefly wondered if their experiences with the Twilight beasts had anything to do with that. After showing them Zelda's letter, and mentally slapping himself for not thinking to do that sooner, he finally managed to get one of them to escort him to the princess. He would've been happy to do so himself, having memorized the layout after getting lost many times in the vast labyrinth of hallways on his last visit- something Midna had mercilessly chastised him for- but since the throne room had been destroyed in his battle with Ganondorf, there was no way to know where Zelda was conducting her business these days.
Just like outside, it was rather busy inside the castle; maids carrying piles of laundry and wash buckets, diplomats scurrying off to meetings, guards making their rounds and a few large, sweaty shirtless guys who Link assumed were working on repairs. Not that he was all that surprised, with everything that had happened; things were going to be pretty hectic until the kingdom managed to get back on its feet.
The guard, however, remained quiet as he led Link up the main staircase to the second floor. They made a few turns and ventured down a couple identically decorated hallways before stopping in front of an inconspicuous-looking door on their right. The guard knocked softly as he opened the door. He bowed slightly to the inside and announced Link's arrival. The hero couldn't see the princess, but her voice, clear and bright, emerged from the room, telling the guard to let her guest in. He complied and gestured for Link to enter before returning to his post.
Zelda was rearranging papers on her desk as the Ordonian walked in, placing them in neat piles to be dealt with later. He took this brief moment to take in his surroundings. The room was fairly small compared to what he'd expected. It comfortably fit the desk, two chairs and the bookshelf that furnished the room but there wasn't much space for anything else. The walls were also fairly plain. The one opposite the door was made of stone and sported a small window that looked out over the courtyard. The rest of them, however, were painted off-white with nothing in terms of decoration. He briefly wondered what this room was normally used for and how much of a change this was from the princess's normal study.
She, herself looked as beautiful as ever, her blond hair framing her flawless face and bright blue eyes that showed no sign of fatigue despite the stress she must've been under. She wore her usual white gown with the purple bodice and the royal crest that hung from her waist. Finishing with her papers, she smiled at him, a smile that lit her whole face. "It's so good to see you again, Link."
"The pleasure is all mine, Princess." He responded, bowing politely. "Although, if you're busy at the moment, I'd be happy to come back later."
"No, no, it's perfectly alright." She said, waving off his concerns. "It's nothing that can't wait until later. Also, there's no need to bow to me, you've done so much for Hyrule and you are my friend, after all."
Link just shrugged, not entirely sure he deserved such respect from the princess, or that he'd earned the prestigious title of being her "friend." Sure, he'd done miraculous things, things nobody else even dared to think about, but he'd done that simply out of the goodness of his heart. As far as he was concerned, he was just doing what needed to be done. The status of hero and the powers that came along with it hadn't changed that; he would have done those things anyway. And although Zelda may feel grateful to him for saving both her life and kingdom, they didn't exactly know each other very well. Perhaps he was just modest that way. But there was something about the way she was looking at him…
He shook off those thoughts. He wasn't exactly good at emotional situations and decided to change the subject. "So, how is the restoration of Hyrule coming along?"
He watched the princess's face switch into business mode as she thought up an answer. "Everything has been coming along quite smoothly, actually. Trade skyrocketed back up now that the fields are clear, and besides the explosion in the castle there was very little in terms of damages. Of course, there's always the mental trauma and loss of life to deal with, so it will still take a while for everything to return to normal." She paused a second to gauge Link's expression. He was nodding politely as if to say; "Oh, that's good to hear," but Zelda figured that his interest was just that, politeness. She shook her head, "but I don't need to bore you with politics." Link opened his mouth as if to protest, but she cut him off. "Please, sit down. I have something to show you."
Deciding it wasn't worth arguing; he followed the princess's orders and sat in the chair opposite hers as she walked over to the bookshelf and pulled out a stack of papers that had been wedged between two rather old looking books, one of which was labeled "The Book of Mudora." She spread the stack on the desk so Link could get a look at them. Each was written in what appeared to be another language, one Link had never seen before, nonetheless could read. "What are they?" he asked.
"They're letters to my father," she answered, "from the former king of the Twilight."
Link's eyes widened in surprise as he picked up the parchment closest to him and examined with great interest. They'd come from her world. He wondered what secrets they held, what stories they would tell if only he could read them. Yet he almost didn't believe it. From what he understood, the Twili hated the "spoiled light dwellers," so what reason would they have to try and contact them?
"They're written in ancient Hylian," Zelda explained, "The written language that would've been prevalent while the Twili were still part of this world. Now it is only known to royals and scholars for the purpose of translating old documents."
"So what do they say?" Link asked, realizing this meant Zelda could actually read this gibberish. "And why would they try to contact the light world?"
Zelda frowned slightly, as if the answer bothered her. "I'm not entirely sure. One letter said something about "the time has come" but this wasn't exactly something that was made public. My father was the only one who ever read these letters, and was the one who opened communications in the first place, supposedly because the goddesses told him to." Link was even more confused by this explanation, but didn't bother to vocalize it. Hero or not, he was not one to question the goddesses motives. After all, who knew why they did anything? There was also the possibility that the late King had been imagining things. In which case, he wouldn't say anything at the risk of insulting Zelda's father.
"As to the content of the letters," the princess continued, "well, that's another story entirely." She crossed over to the other side of her desk and resettled herself in the chair, adjusting her skirts so they wouldn't fold underneath. "These letters were dated about sixteen years ago, so it probably wasn't too much earlier when communications began. At the time, there was a young woman who worked here as a servant. Her name was Mae. I was very young at the time, but I remember her. She was always a bright and caring woman and a hard worker. However, she had no family and ached to escape her monotonous life for one of adventure and excitement. As luck would have it, she overheard my father discussing plans with one of his advisors to contact the Twilight. Their main problem was finding someone willing to travel between worlds to deliver the letters and she immediately volunteered, hoping this was her chance for excitement."
"I cannot say what, exactly, happened on those trips into the Twilight, only that she sometimes had to wait days for the Twili ruler to respond. But apparently, during that time, she began to fall in love."
Link jumped in surprise, swallowed some of his saliva wrong and began to choke on it. Zelda looked at him with concern, but he just waved her off. "With one of the Twili?" He asked when he was finally able to breath.
She nodded. "From the sound of it, the king wasn't too pleased. It only made things worse when he found out she was pregnant."
The hero's body couldn't even form a response this time. He was glad Zelda was giving him time to let this all soak in as he was pretty sure he couldn't handle any more surprises at this point. "By Ordona," he muttered. Of all the things he expected these letters to contain, a soap opera was the last thing he expected- especially because there was no such thing as a television and had no way of knowing what a soap opera even was. To top it all off, this story was going against everything he thought he knew about the Twilight. There was absolutely no possible way a Twili and a Hylian had fallen in love, not when their entire history had been one of hatred and ignorance. Besides, hadn't Midna said that light and twilight could never mix? Wasn't that why she'd destroyed the Mirror, and left him here feeling restless and-as much as he hated to admit it- alone?
There were so many questions buzzing through his head that he had trouble turning them into words. Where does one even start? "So, what happened?" He finally managed. It was a vague question, but he might as well let her finish the story before he started firing off questions.
"The letters stopped coming at that point. Mae was held under the watchful eyes of the Twili for any complications. They were afraid, I think, of what would happen her, and to the child. For years it was nothing. My father continued to send letters, hoping to get some word on how she was doing- they'd found a different messenger of course- but he never got any response. Then suddenly, that last one arrived." She pointed to the last letter on the table. The hero looked at it - a foolish act on his part because he couldn't even read it- and noticed it was surprisingly shorter than the rest. "It's dated about six years ago. The Twili King didn't even bother to write complete sentences, just messy, short phrases. It reads; 'The child, we cannot keep her. The prophecy, we'll put ourselves in danger. Deal with her as you see fit. She knows nothing.'"
"Prophesy?" Link found himself blurting.
The princess shook her head. "I have no idea. I'm just as confused as you are." She took the last letter, as if hoping to find something she'd missed before. When nothing appeared, she let out a sigh as she placed it back on the desk. "But there is someone who can help us understand." Link looked at her expectantly, his brain too jumbled to put the pieces together. "Mae's child," Zelda clarified, "the letter said they sent her here. All we have to do is find her. That's what I need you for."
Link frowned. It seemed simple enough- find the missing girl. But how does one find someone that hasn't been heard from in six years? He didn't even know what she looked like. He could always ask Zelda what Mae looked like to get some idea, but the child's appearance would be muddled by her father's Twili features. What would a half-Hylian half-Twili….
At that moment, something finally clicked in the hero's brain. Six years ago, someone else had talked about that, about 'knowing nothing.' "The girl." She'd had odd skin, a tone he swear he'd seen somewhere before but couldn't quite place and only covered half of her body. It had been dulled after all the time spent in the sun, but he felt stupid for not realizing it before.
He didn't notice he'd said anything until he saw Zelda looking at him inquisitively. "I know…" he cleared his throat and tried to clarify. "I know who it is."
A/N: Ooo, you saw that coming didn't you? I have a feeling that I'm not very subtle, as much as I try to be ^^; Oh well…
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