Blood, Tainted

By The Missing Link

Chapter 4: Harmony, Shaken

    “I've always been told that I had the gift for prophecy, and each time I have always scoffed at them for saying such. No matter how I try, no matter what I see, without fail I am unable to pull forth the meaning of these divine visions. I will never understand these dreams, so seemingly random they are in their presentation and appearance.
“This one... this past one was perhaps the strangest of them yet.
“I could see no colour in this one. I could only see the world in shades of grey, the first such vision of its kind; that's got to mean something, right? There was a figure made entirely of light, a woman; somehow, I don't know how I know, but I knew that that woman had to be me, that I was in my own dream. There was also a figure made of pure darkness; its form was so abstract, so changeable, so intangible. I couldn't understand what or who it was to represent. Then there was a figure that was entirely grey—a man, around my age; I've never seen him before. In my dream, I saw the darkness envelop him, take him into its form; whether or not the man of grey was killed or changed, I could not tell, but when that happened, the darkness began to spread. So quick was its growth that even I could not run away no matter how fast I ran. I fell; I was taken.
“I woke up in a sweat, breathing heavily, my mind not yet grasping that it had just been a dream. It was so real, as if it were already happening. I know I've been told a million times already that my dreams—visions, they call them—are only supposed to represent possibility and not things predetermined, but I can't help but be scared by this, scared of the darkness. I don't even want to face it tonight when I go to bed; I will need a lantern tonight, methinks, to overcome this fear. Yet in the back of mind, despite all of this, I have to keep wondering. If this is only possibility and the blackness spread only after the grey turned to black, what would happen if the grey turned to white instead?”


The servants had already helped her dress into one of her more complicated garments—a lavender gown adorned with gold upon her shoulders and a loop about her waist, a sash of blue hanging down from her golden belt, decorated with the various emblems of their kingdom. It was one she typically wore only upon special occasions, and so it would naturally be a curiosity as to why she had been requested to wear it today upon such short notice. The curiosity consumed her as she slowly made sure that all of her jewellery was in place, her necklaces, rings, bracelets, and earrings, all of which adorned her exquisitely; the only item that was missing from the ensemble was her tiara, which she had taken off on purpose after her attendants had left, and she held it delicately within her gloved hand. Within a few moments, she would be dressed to face whatever special occasion all of this had called for.
Despite all this, there she remained, sitting upon the balcony's railing, her hand with the tiara covering her succulent lips while she looked out upon the hill and valley extending westwards from Hyrule. There was no interest nor passion in those eyes, however, and they remained completely unfocused as she sat in thought and concentration. Ready as she was, she was not ready to face what was likely to be an important day. Her heart sat heavily within her chest, beating only with a lacklustre intensity, her eyes looking yet not really seeing. The skies were filled with advancing storm clouds, and slowly the blue skies would be consumed by the everlasting greyness of the storm. It was liable to rain that day, and though it would not be a heavy downpour, the rain would last all the way until the eve, if not well into the twilight.
Yet there were more turbulent musings flowing within the thoughts of the Princess Zelda, and those all seemed to be inexplicably related to the “vision” she had seen. Since receiving the request to pay her attendance to the ballroom in her formal garb, mere moments after she had awoken, she had remained keenly suspicious of something greater at play, something deeper and unfathomable controlling the events of her life. The juxtaposition of a sudden day of importance with an unexplainable vision, all this in conjunction with a dream about a grey man with the arrival of grey rain clouds, it couldn't be simple coincidence, could it? The goddesses had to be working some sort of magic to cause them, it seemed; the visions, after all, were said to be from them. It felt as if they trying to play some game with her, seeing if she could place all the pieces of the puzzle together in time before the final surprise was revealed. The thought was disconcerting, really, for suddenly she was a mere pawn upon a chessboard, the goddesses advancing her as a threat against some unknown rival, a rival invisible within the shadow of the night, all of which leaving her powerless to affect whatever godly war was being waged unless she was able to piece together the clues. Would the goddesses, so far and distant from the world they lived in, do this? What really is going on?
A few droplets of water began to trickle down from the heavens, interrupting her thoughts and pulling her back to reality. She quickly stepped inside from the balcony, closing the ornate wooden door behind her. She lingered by it for a few last moments, peering through the door's glass windows to drink the last view she would likely have today of the pristine landscape before finally returning to the mirror in the corner of her room. She gazed at herself as she sat upon the stool, pausing for just a moment before weaving the tiara back into the strands of her golden hair.
“Time to face Destiny, Zelda,” she said softly to herself. She rose from her seat and crossed the length of her carpeted bedroom to the tall door leading out into the stone hallway that awaited outside.
Zelda did not feel the need to be in any great hurry; if there indeed was need of such, Father would already have sent dozens of attendants to see to it that she hastened herself downstairs to the ballroom. She walked casually yet with a distinctive grace and elegance that only the seemingly countless number of years of instruction from the castle's private tutors could produce. It was a practised walk, however, much of her noble gait being a mere façade more than a result of her true character, her strict obedience being mostly a show that she put on to avoid the stern lectures from her tutors, or worse, her father; he wouldn't have her behave any other way. As he put it, “it would be nothing less than scandalous if the king's daughter were anything less than prim and proper!” She was his eldest daughter and child, and he would make sure that she was brought up properly as a young lady should. Largely, it made no difference to her how she carried and presented herself; that it was this that he had insisted upon really did not grieve her so. She just really had no passion for much of their entire way of life and would easily betray it if she thought it was necessary to do so. He ought to be glad enough that some of the teachings she had received had actually been able to stick with her. Over the years, she had become a very thoughtful woman, and most of all she was loyal to those that bothered to properly befriend her, loyal to the point of turning her back upon those that might harm those within her inner circle. It was perhaps because of this very seeming sweetness that any gossip by those who had seen the princess' rare, holy wrath was easily quelled and put to rest.
Finally, she reached the spiralling stone steps leading down from the wing where the private chambers of the Royal Family resided, steps that would bring her into the grand ballroom. She paused for a moment, wondering if she really was ready to deal with today's tedious affairs of state, before descending them slowly, still not feeling the need to hurry herself. As she approached the door to the ballroom, already opened, as she expected, the voices of her father and her younger brother began to trickle into her long ears. At first, their voices were garbled and unable to be understood, but each step granted new insight into their topic of conversation, and Zelda, now standing next to the door, simply lingered there, her arms embracing the stone wall separating the stairwell and the ballroom, and listened intently to their conversation, as of yet remaining unnoticed.
“—fool that he is, he wouldn't dare have the audacity to do that!” implored her brother.
“You can read Ariana's words the same as I can, son,” King Teagan replied coolly; “it's precisely what he's gone and done. Ariana would not lie to us.” Zelda's gaze grew distant for a moment, detaching herself from their conversation while trying to remember if she heard of this Ariana before; curse her that she was so bad with names! Despite her best efforts, she knew that the name was forgotten at best and foreign at worst, and so she shifted her attention back towards the ongoing debate.
“Aren't there laws forbidding that, though?” her brother continued. “That their laws would be that different from our own is highly unlikely!” Zelda could see the red heat coming from her brother's face as he argued his case. Her brother, dear as he was to her and close as they were, was never one known for his patience. Zelda had always had to suffer the wrath of his protests about this or that, always proclaiming foul injustices when it fact there really were none. Of course, her gentle insistence that he was wrong never served to content him.
“The obvious conclusion, therefore,” answered the king, his voice still in check, as if nothing could conquer his steady temper, “is that the laws mean nothing to him. He's doing this precisely for the reasons Ariana has described in her letter.”
“I still can't believe it; it's positively absurd! Not that I don't trust Ariana, but I could certainly make up a better excuse than that bilge!” Zelda couldn't help but wince, for she knew that the prince had just entered territory that the king would very much not like.
“Watch your tongue, boy,” answered the king, this time with a subtle hint of venom. “Ariana and I have been friends for quite some time.”
“Fine.” The prince sighed slightly, stilling himself to make sure his passion did not best him again. “Fine. But even if that's the case, that she is telling the truth, we can't possibly do as she's asking! You've told me as such yourself! Denying his request would be a foolish proposition! It would be a severe insult to Drausus, and it might just—”
“Zelda, my daughter!” the king suddenly interrupted with a slight chuckle, his voice quite loud, easily overcoming the prince's. He had just glanced over to the tower stairway to find her standing there, and he actually looked to be quite surprised by her presence, almost as if he had been counting on her to arrive much later as was normally the case with Zelda. His face grinned broadly, his features trying to mask his inner thoughts quite tightly, an action that only served to make them all the more noticeable and obvious. “I hadn't realised that you had already graced us with your presence.”
Quite quick to hide her intent to overhear them, she quickly emerged from the corridor and gave the king and the prince a slight curtsey before crossing the room to join them, giving them a polite smile as she did so. “I am sorry to have interrupted, Father; it truly was not my intent,” she said with a small hue of meekness. “I actually had tried to come down a few moments earlier, but it looked like I would have been interrupting the... ‘preparations,'” she said, her voice still sweet yet filled with a secret mockery. “I had attempted to tarry my presence for a bit longer until I knew you were ready to receive me.” Technically speaking, it wasn't a lie, she figured, even though her statement was so carefully constructed so as to purposely misconstrue the truth. Well, you cannot be saintly all the time, she figured. Looking down towards the ground again, knowing that they would easily believe that her intentions were earnest, she added, “I do apologise if—”
“Nay, all is well, my daughter,” the king heartily replied, apparently convinced by the princess' explanation. A wave of relief spread over his face, believing that Zelda had not seriously involved herself in the prince's and his discussion; to Zelda, the change in her father's face was, as it always was, easily recognisable, and a slight smile spread to her lips. Of course, deep down, the victory was much sweeter, partly because of her success in disarming yet another potential troubling situation but mostly because her brother looked far too nervous and embarrassed to react to Teagan's cover-up. Poor Valen, he never really was good at hiding things; he really was too honest for his own good.
“That is good news,” Zelda said, still donning her false innocence. She had to admit that there was a slight feeling of guilt welling within her, but the alternative of confessing the truth would be unbearably worse. “Though I have to admit that I am curious to know what special occasion we are hosting today; I was really quite surprised to be awakened with the news of a formal engagement without having known about it last when I retired for the evening.” It was just tradition, after all, just shy of being an unwritten rule; nearly everything like this was planned well in advance in accordance with chivalry and codes of honour, or something to that effect.
Just as easily as the king had come to think that there was nothing to worry about, whatever had plagued him before suddenly overtook him once again. “Oh yes, that,” the king said nervously, his face revealing the presence of his secret worries. Whatever Ariana had written to him about, somehow it was related to whomever was coming; Teagan was hardly as secretive as he thought himself to be. “I really do not expect much to come of this visit in all honesty, but within the hour, or so the reports of the guards have foretold, we shall be receiving a representative of the Kingdom of Marith , their prince, to be exact.”
Oh, so it was a visit from some foreign royal that had caused such a fiasco within the castle. It was quite surprising, though, Zelda thought; usually nobility, in their unending quest to embellish upon their own egos, sent word several days in advance of their impending arrival, hence the usual expectation of the occasion. But never in all her years had such a messenger arrived with such a message so tardy as this. “So the messenger, then, must have gotten lost on his way here?” she inquired.
Finally, the prince spoke, answering just before Teagan was able to. “Actually, no, he didn't, and that's what I can't figure out.” The prince, finally calmed sufficiently to keep his voice from rising above his norm, leaned against the long table where the noblest of their court always sat, themselves included. “By his record, the messenger rode directly here for the past two days without so much as a small stop at each of the villages between Marith and here. Our watch along the road could not refute his words either. It makes absolutely no sense to me.”
The king peered at Valen with stern eyes, almost as if begging him to drop whatever idiotic belief to which the prince had dedicated himself as well as the entire conversation that the two had discussed earlier. Zelda couldn't help but be annoyed at being excluded from this discussion, but she decided that perhaps she was better off not knowing. Teagan coughed loudly, trying to signal to Valen to leave the subject be. “Well, regardless of the purpose of their visit, I thought it would be worthwhile for us to present the best image we can of Hyrule to Marith, short notice or no. I hope that doesn't upset you, Zelda.”
If only he knew. It was this that was what practically riled her most of all about being royalty: being told precisely what to do, when to do it, and how it should be done. The most loved responsibility quickly transfigured itself into an onerous burden the moment she realised that she was asked to perform her duty simply because of some long-standing tradition to do such or, more annoying still, that it would in particular please a certain so-and-so. Playing politics with others simply ran contrary to her own personal code of moral conduct, for it was no better than flatly lying to them. As such, she had decided very early on that, no matter how much fuss anyone would make over it, she would make her most earnest effort not to become involved herself with it. Besides, her younger brother Valen was to be the ruler of Hyrule, not her; let him have to deal with such an atrocity.
Unfortunately for Zelda, the pressures of politics continued to haunt her life, regardless of her promise unto herself.
“No, curiosity was my only intent,” she said without emotion, resisting her urge to speak her mind. She turned from the two of them and moved to her usual place at the table—the throne to the right of the king's, and there she sat eloquently. She quickly closed her eyes and took a deep breath, exhaling it slowly and peacefully, hoping to stamp out all the scarlet rebelliousness from her face and poison from her unspoken words; it would do no good to start such an important day by causing a scene so soon before the arrival of the Prince of Marith.
Gradually she cracked the lids of her sapphire eyes open, hoping to catch a glimpse of what her father and brother might be doing while she had her focus elsewhere, trying to make it seem as if whatever they might have discussed earlier did not concern her in the least. Despite her effort, however, her ruse seemed to be ineffective, for the two would not continue their earlier debate concerning Ariana and Drausus, the later of which she had deduced to be Marith's king. Not only did they not continue their discussion, but they were content not to say anything at all, merely giving each other anxious gazes from time to time, as if trying to speak using some divine power that transcended mortal words. This frustrated Zelda to no end, for it was quite obvious that it was her very presence that prevented them from doing precisely what she wished for them to do, thereby creating an impasse of wills that could not be surmounted.
The inevitable conclusion was obvious; whatever it was they were discussing had to concern her. It was the only logical answer to all of this. Their conversation had been abruptly silenced the moment she waltzed into the ballroom, continuing to stay such so long as she remained; this never happened, for they knew of her distaste and lack of concern for such affairs of state, and so they would typically continue to converse accordingly as if she were not there. This was, of course, unless somehow it involved her. They knew more than they were telling her, and they were going to use her for whatever purposes they thought to be best for Hyrule; they knew precisely why the Prince of Marith was coming, and they were purposefully keeping her from that knowledge, perhaps so that her rare “unladylike” temper would not get in the way of their play for politics.
Of course, she could easily come to this conclusion from a completely different direction as well. That dream—or vision, whichever it really was—had given her that disconcerting perspective as to the nature of her destiny. She was somehow involved as party to some epic yet unknown chain of events. She was the light in the struggle against good and evil, and armed solely with the knowledge that a man of immeasurable and uncertain quality would come into her life, it would be her job to prevent him from falling into darkness. That a messenger had come revealing another piece of the puzzle, a clue that the goddesses were deliberately holding from her, did nothing more than reinforce her initial assessment of what role she was playing in this: a pawn on a chessboard, without anything more than a veiled clue of the future.
Goddesses, if you truly want me to save the man and our kingdom from the growing darkness, why oh why are you leaving me virtually defenceless?
She was called from her thoughts with the ominous roll of tabor drums and the loud blaring of trumpets coming from the opposite doors of the room. Quickly her father and brother took their places at their own thrones, standing in front of them, appearing as if this especial meeting with their previously unexpected visitor had been scripted for several days instead of having been hastily assembled just that morning. Zelda stood up from her throne, joining her father and brother, and cast her attention to where Valen and Teagan had already done so. There, standing within the entrance of the grand hall, were two men at the forefront with an entourage of a half dozen Hyrulian soldiers, obviously a part of their own guard who had provided them escort for the last several leagues of their journey to Hyrule. Of the two remaining gentlemen, the one at left, on Valen's side of the room, was their court orator, and his hands were holding open the two opposite rolls of a parchment scroll, obviously one whose text would announce the visitor at his left.
“Hear ye, hear ye!” cried the orator with a voice that echoed throughout the grand chamber. “I have the esteemed privilege of presenting to you the Heir to the Throne of the Kingdom of Marith , His Majesty, Prince Link Marith the First!” Again, the trumpets and the drums filled the room with such intensity that it seemed that the very walls quaked by their reverberations.
The eight of them then proceeded in a march down the scarlet carpet draped over the polished wooden floor from the entrance to the royal table, the metal clanking of the soldiers' suits of armour against the ground striking together in unison as they approached. The orator, familiar as he was with this tradition, could not seem to march in perfect time, his heels digging into the carpet slightly off-tempo with the natural rhythm of the soldiers. Zelda was oft amused by his inability to keep time as he marched down the central aisle. However, it was not the orator that truly caught her eye this time; it was the prince himself whom she carefully watched, for he seemed to be further out of step with the cadence than the orator. Not only he was completely out of phase with the soldiers—his right foot hitting when it should have been his left, but his walk was hardly that of a military march but rather one of a simple, casual stride, more typical of that which the country gentry, not being continually present in the life of the court, would presume. Zelda virtually had to stifle a giggle at his presentation, partly out of surprised amusement but more so by his audacity for a prince to dare flaunt the traditions of courtly behaviour!
Zelda then shifted her gaze to take a full measure of the royal man coming her way. He seemed to be a handsome gentleman at first glance, although his frame seemed to be large yet small at the same time. He was vested in a regal surcoat jacket and an under-robe tunic, both of which proudly displayed their golden colour and silver embroidery work, the likes of which sparkled at the princess from across the room. His legs were fitted with hose conforming to the shape of his thin yet slightly muscled legs, and atop his smooth flaxen hair—which did seem to have a stray tangle here and there—rested a most regal crown. Indeed, he looked every part the prince... every part, however, other than his face; his face was well-bronzed by the sun's warmth, a shock to Zelda for usually nobility shunned the sun's light whenever they were forced to make appearances outdoors, using umbrellas to block the warm rays. Most striking about his face was that, on one hand, he seemed assured of his own confidence, yet at the same time he seemed to be completely unfamiliar with these environs. It was easy to accept that he might be unfamiliar with the customs of the Kingdom of Hyrule , but his sense of disorientation seemed to be much more significant, as if he had never before been introduced to another noble in his life nor ever made a presence in front of the court. That was frankly impossible; try as she might, even she could not escape such unpleasantries, and she wasn't even the Heir to the Throne of their kingdom! His face proclaimed it so very clearly, especially within those grey eyes. Grey... grey...
The grey man. That's the grey man.
Zelda's eyes grew wide, and she gasped in shock quite audibly just as the prince and his entourage came to a stop before the royal table. For a brief moment, she became the spectacle of attention for all within the room, but she merely waved their concerns to the wayside with her hand, shaking her hand to signify that nothing was the matter. Yet, the blank stare and surprised look upon her face did not completely subside as her eyes remained focused upon Link before daring to look away in order to replay the vision within her mind. The grey man, here before her, stood between her and some unfathomable darkness, a darkness that, were it to consume him, would consume all the traces of the light she could see, herself included. She swallowed with difficulty, her fear suddenly filling her with a terrible emptiness, before finally looking to the king, virtually imploring him to intercede.
Teagan seemed to take Zelda's hint and cleared his throat. “Good morrow to you, Prince Link Marith of the Kingdom of Marith . I, of which I presume you are already aware, am King Teagan Hyrule the Third, and we all most humbly present to you a warm welcome within the Kingdom of Hyrule . I trust that your journey from Marith was a safe one?” Teagan seemed to lower his lips in a slight frown, almost as if he were expecting that the prince's reply would cause some disaster to befall them.
Link paused for a moment, struck still by the sudden interrogation, his tanned face almost paling with the ominous weight just placed upon him. The question seemed such a simple one, so Link's fearful reaction seemed to do nothing but perplex the princess. He quickly recovered, however, and he nodded in reply. “Y... yes, Your Majesty. It was a very long journey from Marith to here, but we did not have any troubles along the way, partially thanks to the soldiers of Hyrule that rode with us here.” Zelda's curiosity was piqued as he spoke, and she watched him very carefully, surprised by his remarkably colloquial tongue; certainly, it had to be just the Marithian dialect, she supposed.
Teagan attempted a smile to Link, at best only half-genuine in his warm acquiescence to allow Link within his hall. “Then I am pleased to hear of your safe arrival, Prince Link. Let me introduce you to my son and Heir to the Throne, Prince Valen the Fourth. And to my right is my daughter—”
“Princess Zelda, yes?”
Zelda felt herself go numb with the prince's interruption—and more so revelation. She had to admit, up until this point, she had been filled with a gentle bemusement with how he seemed to disarm the wits of all those present, each act of inanity building upon the next. Unlike most nobles who came before the Hyrulian court, rather than being instead disgusted with their actions, she had secretly awarded him increasing respect for flaunting the long-held traditions the kingdoms were so intent upon maintaining, a courage she only wished she herself possessed. However, once again, the wall she had built removing herself from her vision had been destroyed and shattered, and she was reminded that her own fate was irrevocably tied to the destiny of this princely stranger, a connexion that could bind the entire realm into darkness were the prince to fall into darkness. Even this man seemed to know intimately of the nature of their connexion when all she could accomplish was mere conjecture at best.
What are you here for, Link the First?
“Er... yes,” replied the king, himself thrown off-balance by Link's interruption. For a man to accomplish that with her father within a mere matter of minutes was a rare sight, indeed! Teagan became silent and concentrated for a moment, trying to find the page of his mental script that he had been on before Link had defenestrated it. “Yes. So, Prince Link, to what honour do we owe the privilege of your presence within Hyrule?” Teagan's face now seemed much more grim than it had before, confirming all the more that the only one who did not know of Link's intentions here in Hyrule was Zelda.
“I... I have that right here,” said Link, still sounding somewhat nervous. He raised up his right arm so that he could pull out from a pocket within his surcoat a parchment scroll coiled about a single roll, sealed with golden wax on its outside. “Your Majesty... King Drausus, my father, sent this to serve as the explanation of my arrival.” He handed the scroll to the orator to read—yet another surprise; most nobles chose to read such messages themselves. The orator looked tentatively to the king, not knowing precisely if he should accept the proffered scroll, to which the king silently nodded. The man took the scroll, and, breaking the wax seal, began to unroll it to reveal the words upon the parchment.
“‘To the honourable ruler of Hyrule, King Teagan Hyrule the Third,'” the orator read, still a little unsure of himself. The king motioned for him to continue.
“‘I am writing to inform you of a very dire tragedy that is about to transpire within the Kingdom of Marith . I have recently been informed of a possible attack by the Kingdom of Karian upon our peaceful nation; this would normally not be of great concern to me, for it is my true belief that Karian has not sufficient men nor weaponry to overcome our own knights and militia. However, gossip has arisen that Karian has courted a second kingdom, that together they should hope to conquer Marith and divide our land between them, and in the process they would seek to slaughter, enslave, and excommunicate the citizenry of our beloved Marith. Sadly, I know not which kingdom has pledged their allegiance to Karian, and I am at a loss to distinguish friend from foe. Truly, the times ahead seem to be filled with dark tidings.
“‘Teagan, my friend, I know not who to trust other than you. I have not forgotten the days we spent together during the Midsummer's Festival many years ago, and I trust that the camaraderie that existed between us then has not become dulled with the rust of time. Hyrule is the only kingdom that can possibly help us in this time of need.
“‘I have sent by carriage my only surviving son, Prince Link Marith the First, Heir to the Throne of the Kingdom of Marith , to forge an alliance with the Kingdom of Hyrule in order to combat the coming evil. I humbly request your consent to allow this alliance to be consecrated by the joining of two bloodlines through the union of my son Link Marith with your daughter Princess Zelda Hyrule....'”
The princess' jaw dropped suddenly in utter disbelief, and her knees, having been weakened by the sudden announcement, failed, forcing her to sit down upon her throne to prevent herself from collapsing into a heap upon the floor. She had known that this day was likely to come, but she hadn't expected it to come without any warning whatsoever. This wasn't how nobility courted one another, with sudden proposals and declarations requesting one's hand in marriage! Never mind the fact that this tradition was nonsensical as it was, she simply had never imagined that she would face this severe a perversion of the traditional prearrangement with regards to her inevitable marriage!
So this was what the goddesses were demanding from her, to give away the last scraps of control she had over her own life and give them willingly and blindly to the grey man, the grey prince who would claim her as his wife until the end of his days. Was she to be the necessary sacrifice to stay the spread of the darkness, the single person that the goddesses had chosen in some whipstitch decision?
So stunned was she by this revelation that she had not noticed that everyone was now looking to her, expecting her to give an answer to some unheard question. Embarrassment swept over her, and her cheeks began to show some of the rosy hue that had just recently fled her visage. “Hmm, sorry?” she said politely.
Apparently the king was aware of her reaction to the news, and he reached out to her, placing his hand upon her own, squeezing it gently. “Zelda, my dear, King Drausus requests for us to reply to this... proposition within a fortnight of Prince Link's departure, giving us well over half a fortnight to decide upon this. We'll discuss this at length later today and over the coming days, if that is alright with you?”
How could you possibly ask that question, Father? Do you know your own daughter so little to have to ask the question? Yet, Zelda knew that the answer to the provocative question in her mind was that the question had been asked, yet again, purely for playing politics with Link. Her life now appeared to be nothing more than a game of politics between Drausus, Teagan, Link, and the goddesses, and no one ever came out of such a game gaining all they desired.
“Yes,” Zelda begrudgingly said, this time unable to keep her emotions completely contained within her. “We shall discuss this later, Father.”
“Good. Link, if I may call you so informally, I shall personally see to it that sufficient accommodations are established for you for the course of your stay within Hyrule. If there is anything we can do for you to make you more... er... comfortable, make sure to let us know, and we will do our best to provide. Dinner tonight will take place at six of the clock this evening, and I suggest that we adjourn until sometime after we sup tonight. Is that agreeable to you?”
Link seemed to be a trifle dismayed by something, but what in particular it was, Zelda could not determine, for alas, she was too emotionally involved with her own thoughts and emotions. “I guess that will work, yes.”
“Very well,” Teagan said, still casting a false smile upon Link. “We shall meet you at dinner. Until then, I suggest you rest yourself from your long journey. Until the eventide, may the way goddesses watch over you, Link.”

To be continued...

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