Chapter 1 Dreams and Schemes
The stone corridors were lavishly adorned with reds, blues, and purples. Long tapestries of intricate designs and longer carpets seemed to stretch the length and breadth of the castle. Roaming each hall were a myriad of people, all there to ensure the place ran smoothly. Servants carrying out tasks of cleaning and feeding. Guards marching in file surveying the safety of the premises. Each adorned in their chosen uniform. The livery wore the yellow and purple of the crown. The guards marched in shining metal.
Existing among these lower-born were the lords and merchants. The land holders dressed ostentatiously, reflecting their individual wealth. Something that the older livery were still surprised to see among the people in the castle. Sixteen years ago none of them held the wealth they now flaunted. Then there were only the few guards, livery and the royal family. Most shook their heads at the changes occurring around them. Changes that had started many years ago, shortly after the birth of the Heir; Princess Zelda.
The princess was a regal beauty. Sharp feminine features crowned with locks of golden hair. Her eyes were the color of blue crystal. Wherever in the castle she tread everyone made way for her. Everyone stared in awe. Save for King Oberon, just ruler of the
. Orchestrator of the many changes engulfing the kingdom, from the influx of merchants to the giving of land to lords and ladies, appointing them dukes and counts. Kingdomof Hyrule
The king was a large fellow with great girth, his head adorned with graying hair and the Crown of Ages. A crown forged ten years ago, done all in gold and decorated with white diamonds and blue sapphires. A reminder to all of who he was and who he would be remembered as. At this moment he was seated upon a marble throne. The throne was massive, its back rising-up twice as high as he, with a golden sun emblazoned upon its back.
Oberon sat there with a ring of guards slowly fingering his full beard and listening intently to the fellow in front of him. A man dressed in deep purple robes, with eyes a stark red and hair a dull white. His features seemed to still hold their youth. He discussed at length the happenings of the kingdom. From the far stretching fields to the south of Hyrule Field to plains north of the castle. Then his report changed to a vital subject, the construction of the
. new castle
"It is coming along slowly. The laborers are complaining about how the guards are treating them. It has been rumored among them that a revolt is not too far off. Many say the stone blocks are too big and they're being asked to move them too quickly. I fear trouble shall come if you place anymore pressure upon them, your majesty."
Oberons' nostrils flared slowly as his breathing became deeper. "I would wish to move into my new home before my daughter would ascend the throne. The architect swore it would take ten years to build it, but now he is telling me it will take five more. And now this? Will this add yet more years? Tiryn! Belar!
! Stand forward! Trent
Three men stepped forward. One was attired in plated armor, a red cape flowing as he walked. His brown hair and brown eyes showed a quiet cunning.
. Another was dressed in flowing robes of silk, their colors touching all aspects of the rainbow. He was old and aged. Belar. A third stepped forward dressed in simple garb. He himself seemed older than rock. His face showed many crevices and his hair was wispy and sparse. Tiryn. The three stepped forward to be at the king's side. Trent
"Advisors, advise me. We four have been through this from the start. Our plans and our patience have gotten us this far. Now tell me how can we go farther. Around every corner there are delays pushing back our schedule, and frankly I've gotten close to losing what little patience I have. I need not only a solution to this problem but an answer to all our problems. I've seen it. Hylians can only go so far before they say enough is enough. They will not accept that change is upon them. They grumble in their sleep and make hidden plans to attack me. We need a solution and we need one now."
The man dressed in armor cleared his throat. "Speak
," called the king. Trent
"The Guard. Thus far, they have only been trained, never tested. Now is the appropriate time. Show our people what you can do. Stop trying to convince them with speeches and posters and statues. They don't wish to be inspired. They wish for things to go back to the way they were before. So, use the Guard and force them into submission. Ride out and quash any form of resistance. Round up the rebels holding these inflammatory meetings and show them all why you are king."
The king nodded slowly, taking it in. He then gestured towards the man dressed in simple garb. "Speak your mind Tiryn."
The aged man nodded. "Use the Guard. Round up the troublemakers and sentence them for crimes against the crown. That'll take care of any revolts. As for problems with labor, hire outside the kingdom, they'll move here for the money and a job. Then they'll become your new residents. As for our people? Send a call out to the farthest reaches of this world, a call beckoning people to come to our new kingdom with new ideas and dreams. Over time they will become our citizens and help the older residents adapt."
Again the king nodded. He then motioned for his last advisor to speak. Belar, dressed in his multi-hued robes, stepped forward and cleared his throat. "Over the years we have come to rely on our people for much. Labor. Expansion. We have brought in outsiders to help with training our guards and designing our art. Their skills have become invaluable. Yet, we cannot rely on them alone in this endeavor as time has shown. Calling in other people will be a necessity. For if this kingdom is to expand, as it has in our dreams, then we need more people. Yet, they cannot come here and be inspired by a half-built infrastructure.
His eyes wandered over to the man dressed in purple robes. "In the past we have relied upon your shadowy guardians, the Sheikah, to help sniff out problems and issues. They have done an outstanding job." The sheikah bowed to the old man. "Using this as an example why not use the other races of this land? The Gorons for their strength, the Zoras for their use of water, and the Gerudo for their fighting. Take no offense
, but they are far better fighters than your Guard will ever be." Trent
The King quirked his head to the left and gave Belar a strange look. He began mumbling to himself shaking his head. Then suddenly he spoke clearly for all present to hear. "Once more all of you have given good advice. And once more I'll use all your suggestions." A large grin spread across his features. "Tiryn, send out the messengers to the far corners of the realm exclaiming our Golden Age. Ask for one and all to come and be a part of a great kingdom.
, rally your guards and bring the troublemakers before me. Talk with Quiri here," he pointed at the sheikah, "to learn who they are. After they have been brought before me I will pass judgment. It is time the people knew what the Kings' Laws are. I will have them proclaimed throughout the land for every Hylian to know." Trent
"As for the other races, leave them to me. It will take time to bring them into this. I must first decide what they will want in order to become a part of this. Tiryn, call for the Royal Scribe. I will need him to write down my laws. Belar, I will need you...." The king went into detail, outlining to them his new plans.
This was something he had been waiting for. A revitalization of his dream. Fresh ideas and what seemed a fresh start.
She walked slowly, dressed in a stark white dress with strips of yellow and purple sewn throughout the silk. Her every step was graceful, her every move delicate. Her chin was raised high, eyes following down a petit nose wherever she glanced. Just as she had been instructed at a young age. Princess Zelda glided through the corridors, passing all as they flourished her a deep bow. She ignored them and their displays as she had been taught. She was the Heir and thus deserved the honors. If they gave any less she would show them why she commanded their respect.
Matching her every move was her shadow, a lad her age. He was dressed in loose clothing, covering the leather armor he wore. At his back he carried two swords. One a massive greatsword, the other a broadsword. His eyes were a deep blue and his hair a blonde. His gaze swept across the corridor taking in every detail and person. His gait was tensed, ever ready for combat. None spoke to him and he spoke to no one. In the shadow of the Heir he was easily dismissed.
Princess Zelda strolled through the halls, making her way to the outside courtyard. It was a flourishing garden of flowers, trimmed bushes, and marble statues. It was here that the lords socialized. Tea parties and sophisticated games were played here. She didn't want to come out here and talk with any stuffy men, but thought it best to at least make a showing. As she passed the well dressed nobility they gave her bows and acclaimed to her compliments, trying to outdo the person next to them. She ignored them all.
Finally, she stopped at a railing on the far side of the courtyard. Below was a small flat field where the Guard did their practices. Here she could find respite from the castle. She leaned against the railing, appearing bored. Her eyes searched among the many guardsmen. She turned her head and watched her shadow intently. The way he stood straight, constantly moving his head around. She smiled.
"Do you ever relax?"
He didn't even bother to look at her. His gaze went out onto the field of soldiers. "I'll not relax until my duty has been lifted."
She chuckled. He'd never relax unless either she was dead or he was. It was comforting she had to admit. He had always been a comfort. Her mind slowly wondered to when she was younger, a mere child getting into too much trouble. She had always outsmarted her guards and snuck away. Her face lit-up remembering her father's rage as he berated them. Then one day she met Lin, a boy her age who was just as much trouble. Together they were the bane of the kitchens and servants. Except, with her near they were terrified of beating him. Once again when her father found out about the both of them he exploded, screaming at Link for daring to cross his filthy hands with the Heir.
That is, until she pointed out he protected her better than any of her guard. In a flash his anger dispersed and he looked at the boy in a new light. From that day on Link's training began. Something she would find out later was how the King had charged him with her life. A charge Link took to his very heart, and he dedicated himself to it.
It was four years ago when he said he was ready to become a guard and truly protect her where her current guard could not. All the captains laughed and told him to go scrub some pots until he learned his place. She did not like that. So she went to her father and told him.
The king thought it a laugh, but he said he would humor her. So he setup a challenge for Link. If he could defeat her current guards then he could become her guard. At the end, no one was laughing as five soldiers lay unconscious with a barely winded Link standing above them.
She shook her head at the memory and smiled broadly. He had not left her side since. Suddenly, she heard footsteps to her left. Quickly coming out of her reverie she saw three young soldiers step forward, swords sheathed at their sides. Not another one. She thought to herself.
Since Link's show four years ago there was a competition among the guards. And every now and then a challenger would step forward. Her father even encouraged it. If someone could beat Link then they could take his place as her shadow. It seemed more fools had come forward to try.
The three guards all went to one knee in front of the Heir. With their heads lowered one spoke. "I offer myself to the challenge, your grace."
Princess Zelda sighed softly. "Your challenge must first be accepted. Now rise." The three guards rose in unison. "Link, do you accept their challenge?" Link turned his eyes upon her. He nodded. "Very well, you may challenge my shadow."
The lead guard bowed. "Thank-you, your grace."
The formalities done Zelda leaned back and waited for the show. It was always fascinating watching Link fight.
The lead guard pulled his sword out and pointed it. "I challenge you shadow. Let my blade not find your death yet still bathe in your blood."
Link said nothing, only waited. The guard's face went blank as he slowly circled Link. When his circle brought his blade towards the Heir Link pounced. He drew his blade, rolled forward, and slashed all in one smooth motion. The guard leaped back in shock, barely able to bring his blade to parry the slash.
"This one's better than the last." Zelda said to herself. The last one had not survived that attack.
Link once more stood still, waiting on his opponent. The guard, now wizened to Link's speed, decided to test his strength. He gripped his sword with both hands and swung a powerful attack towards Link's neck. Link met the attack with ease and threw it back. The guard took several steps backwards, bringing his blade back in line. He then grinned. "You're better than I thought, kid. Now, its time for me to get serious."
Zelda rolled her eyes.
"Come on, Rolan," shouted the other two guards, "stop fooling around."
Zelda caught herself. Rolan. She knew that name. That was the guard that the Captain of the Guard had been telling her father about. Someone whose skill had not yet been matched. She felt a butterfly of concern flutter in her stomach.
Rolan lunged forward stabbing. Link threw back the attack and countered with a low slash. Rolan sidestepped and parried the attack. He riposted with ease and stabbed again at Link. Link blocked the attack, then the next, and the next. Rolan was pressing him back towards the Heir. Link took three steps then stopped. He stood there like stone and quickly parried and blocked every attack Rolan threw at him. For minutes they two were locked, Rolan attacking and dancing from side-to-side and Link not moving an inch.
Then Link moved. He rushed forward grabbing Rolan's sword with his gloved hand. He pushed it aside as his own blade flew up and with the flat side of it struck Rolan's head. The guard staggered backwards, his hand coming up to his head where blood was welling up. Link moved again and this time he threw down his sword and grabbed Rolan by his shoulders. He pulled Rolan forward into his knee, knocking the air from the guard's lungs. He then easily lifted him off the ground. Link walked to the railing and dumped the guard over it.
Zelda stared in shock. Rolan hit the ground with a sickening crunch. She stared down at his body and then glanced up to see that every guard across the practice field was staring at them. They had watched the whole battle. Link looked down, then glanced at her, then glanced at the two remaining guards. As his eyes fell on them they hurried away to see to their wounded friend.
Princess Zelda watched silently as Link walked over and gingerly grabbed his blade. He sheathed it, walked over to her side, and took up his usual position. Minutes passed before Zelda spoke. "Did you have to throw him over the railing?"
"He was trying to get close to you."
"Maybe, he was just testing you?"
"No, I saw hunger in his eyes."
Zelda gave him a queer look. "What do you mean?"
His eyes stopped wandering and he turned his gaze to her. "He's ambitious. He's handsome. He's smart. He's been watching you for years. He wants power. He wants you."
Zelda looked at Link carefully, rethinking him in her head. She had never thought that Link would be possessive of her like this. Of course, he was devoted to her, but how strong was that devotion that it would cross over into love? The thought scared her. Did he love her? Did he want to do more than just protect her?
"Do you love me?" She said softly. Her eyes watching his. There was no change in his demeanor or his eyes when she asked him that.
"Yes." He said simply, still watching for trouble.
His answer disturbed her. It frightened her. And for once in her life she didn't want him around.
Link's eyes stopped roving and he looked back at her. He tilted his head to the side. "My answer scared you?"
She did not reply immediately. She only crossed her arms and watched the guards for a few moments ignoring him. "What if I wanted Rolan to be my shadow?"
"You wouldn't. He'd not guard you well."
She turned her head to Link and narrowed her eyes. "What if I didn't want you to be my shadow anymore and wanted someone else? Would that make you sad? Would you still love me, then?"
Link looked at her in confusion. "Do you want Rolan to be your shadow? Are you releasing me of my duty?"
Zelda shook her head. "No. Its just that you said you loved me. That changes everything!"
"It does? But I've always loved you," he said simply.
Zelda felt something stir in her heart that made her want to cry. Why did he have to love her? Why couldn't he just be the devoted shadow? The friend she always had by her side. "I don't love you."
Still frayed, Zelda tried to understand what was going through his head. Did he not understand that if you loved someone they had to love you back or it was all useless?
Link stared at her, his eyes finally meeting hers. Then he nodded as if he understood. "I love you now and will always love you. If you don't love me back, it doesn't matter. What matters is I am your shadow and your guard. My life before yours. If you want Rolan, go to him. You just don't want him as your shadow." Link waited patiently for her reaction and response.
Zelda blinked in shock for what seemed an eternity. He had never said anything so meaningful before. He had never shared such thoughts before. Moments passed before she swallowed and replied. "I think I understand. If I take a lover you will not stop me? If I take a husband you will not interfere?"
His brow furrowed in confusion. "No."
She sighed in relief. Then her thoughts wondered to watching him practice. Him stripped to his waist, sweat glistening off his body. His muscles rippling in harmony as he moved. "And if I ever need something you will be there to help me?" She asked a small smile coming to her face.
She smiled softly. "Let's go find my father. I want to make a trip to the
." With that she walked off, trailed by Link. Golden Castle
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