Chapter 2 – Lessons in Loyalties
The days passed, one into another, as the caravan wound its way south to the massive structure stabbing the sky. Three massive towers the color of gold reached high from the enormous base. Even two days of travel still to come they could see the
. It rested atop the only hill that existed in the flat space that was Hyrule Field. The new castle was to be the first thing people saw when they came to the new kingdom. Its structure more grand than anything seen to date. The color was not painted on; the stones themselves were the color of the setting sun. Golden Castle
The caravan was made of three covered wagons, storing the Heir’s belongings. Things she wanted to take on this trip. Surrounding the wagons were scores of riders. Half were servants there to wait on Princess Zelda. The others were her armed escort. She herself was the only one riding a pure white stallion decked in silks and colorful leather. She called her horse Dearheart. And as always riding behind her was Link atop his roan steed. He did not bother naming it.
He slowly trotted up to her side whispering something into her ear. She nodded. Captain Craigen!" She called.
A man leading the caravan glanced back and nodded. He was middle-aged with black stumble across his face. He turned his horse around and rode back to her. "Yes, your grace?"
"What is behind that rise over there? I thought this was supposed to be a flattened landscape."
The captain looked to where she indicated. "It is mostly flat, your grace. But there are some areas which rise up higher. It is only natural."
"That is understandable then. Now, tell me what is behind it?" She asked him smiling.
He gave her an odd look. "I'm not sure, your grace. I assume only more grass."
She quirked her head. "You see, I think that's the problem. You do not know. Why do not you know? What if a band of bandits were lying behind it, waiting to attack us? Or what if some evil wizard were behind there? What if there were disheartened farmers camping behind there who decided to vent their anger and attack the Heir?"
The captain looked at her in silence, getting the hint. "I'll go have it checked out, your grace." He bowed his head.
Before he could trot off Princess Zelda spoke once more. "Make sure you think ahead next time, captain. If anything would befall me this kingdom would be doomed."
The captain took a deep breath and bowed once more before trotting towards two guards.
Princess Zelda laughed out loud. "That was fun. The best part is where he wanted to tell me off but had to swallow his pride." Princess Zelda exhaled happily. She then looked to Link. "You think I will make a good queen? Or do you think I should appoint a king to rule for me?"
"You have still much to learn. And no."
She lost her smile. "What do you mean, ‘no’?"
He looked at her. "This is your kingdom. Your birthright. It’s your duty to care for it not someone else's."
She nodded. She appreciated his honesty, though irksome it was at times. "What do I still have to learn to become queen? I know how to act. I know how to make decisions. What else is there to it?"
Link shrugged. "How to think ahead. How to weigh decisions and not just make them. Understanding your people. Knowing when to press and when to stand down."
"And how would you know all of this?" She asked raising her chin.
"I've watched your father."
Zelda'a eyes widened. She'd watched her father, too, but she'd never noticed any of that. That's when she came to a realization. Link watched not just for danger but potential danger. He watched everybody. How they acted towards others and her. He listened where others could not hear. He understood much because of it. Then an idea came to her. She smiled slyly and looked to him once more. "Link. When I become queen you will no longer be just my shadow. You will also be my first advisor."
Then Zelda thought more. If he watched people then he knew much already. "On second thought, you will be my advisor starting right now."
Link turned to her and nodded. "What will my new duties include then?"
Zelda stooped her head in thought. Moments later she spoke. "I know. Your new duties are not to replace your old ones. Is that clear?"
"Good. Whenever I ask your opinion on someone or something you are to tell me everything you have noticed and or heard about this person. Hold nothing back, including what you think of them and what you think their motives may be. Second, if I ask for advice on something I want you to tell me everything you can think on the subject, even how you feel about it. Also, if you think I am about to make a mistake I want you to interrupt me politely and tell me why you think so. Do you understand?"
Link looked at her and nodded.
She smiled. "Now, swear to me you will fulfill these new duties to the best of your abilities."
"I swear I will advise you in the fashion you set forth to the best of my abilities." Link bowed.
"Good. From now on I want you to pay closer attention to what is going on around me. Not just at danger, but of the undertones of conversations and what people may be hiding. Basically, do what you have been doing just concentrate not only on danger. Do you understand what I am trying to say?"
"Excellent. Now then advisor, advise me."
Link quirked his head this time. "On what?"
Zelda pursed her lips. "I know. Who wants me as their wife?"
"It would take hours to name them all."
Zeldas eyes widened. She hadn't thought there would be so many, but it is understandable. She is beautiful and the Heir. "Okay....then only the ones that matter in your opinion."
Link was silent for a moment before speaking. "There are five."
"Okay, go on."
"Captain of the Guard
. Belar. Lord Bucom of Rollinway. Duke Hersh of Trent . Captain Muion." He fell silent. Kakariko Village
Zelda waited for more. She then exhaled in exasperation. "Tell me why they matter."
Link nodded. "Captain of the Guard Trent wishes to wed you to further his own ambitions and help forge the kingdom with warfare after your father passes on. Belar because he wishes to tame you and make you his doting wife while he leads the kingdom in your name. Lord Bucom wishes to claim you as he has so many other young women. Duke Hersh to further his name and take you as a lover. Muion because he sees you as his rightful reward in life."
Zelda's face showed utter disgust. Is that all people see her as? A tool to be used for their own selfish ends? "Wait a minute." Zelda sighed. "They matter because they are threats to me, right?"
"Yes. The five biggest ones. They each have ways of endangering you the most."
"I see. Now advise me as to people who would just wish to be my husband and love me and let me rule."
"Oryn because he has an old man's foolish heart. Sabe the stable boy because he has a pure heart. Lord Roxington because he is young and is entranced by your beauty. Duke Harris of Timberlan because he is as well would just wish to please you."
Zelda blinked. "That's it? No one else in the palace would love me and let me rule?"
Link shook his head.
Zelda's cheeks flared red and she let out a long breath. "Then tell me now, advisor. Who should I marry? And tell me your whole opinion."
"Don't marry. If you marry a noble-born they will influence you to hurt their rivals causing tension in the society. Marry a captain and the Guard will be loyal to them and not you. Marry a common born and everyone will see you as less."
Zelda's mouth was gaping wide open. "Wait. The Guard are loyal to my father."
Link shook his head. "They follow his orders because he is King, but they are loyal to
and in some part Tiryn. If Trent revolted most of the Guard would be on his side. However, Trent is Captain of the Guard because he was chosen by your father. Trent Trentwants power and is now loyal to your father because the king granted that." Trent
Zelda still shook her head in shock. "Why are they loyal to Trent and not my father?"
"Your father barks commands only. He doesn't show them he cares.
goes out of his way to be helpful. To show them he respects them.” Trent
"Does my father now this?"
Zelda let the conversation die there. She had much to think on. She was beginning to realize what Link meant that she needed to learn more before she was ready to become queen. A few more hours passed and the sun was halfway across the sky. "Okay, Link. Earlier I asked what you would do. You said not to marry. How will I then pass on the line?"
Link turned to her. “To satisfy your need to love someone take them as a concubine. Love them and cherish them in your heart, but be the dominant one. To be a queen, you must be in control, no one in control of you. The best thing to do would be not to love at all. Or find someone who wouldn't try and control you. As to a child. Find someone in the nobility who is both a kind person and strong person. Someone who would help to produce a strong offspring. Father a child with them. Thus, the line is carried on and you remain queen."
Zelda licked her lips nervously and looked away from Link. "Do you think I...What do you think my problem is?" She stopped what she was going to ask him and asked something else instead.
He looked at her. "You're too self-centered. You concentrate too much on yourself and are blinded by what is going on around you."
"You think I'm self-centered?" She said shouting at him while her nostrils flared.
Her tone caught the attention of the guards around them. The captain noticed as well and made his over to them.
"Is something wrong, your grace?" He asked eyeing Link up and down.
"Yes. My shadow has seen fit to insult me."
Link did not respond.
"Shall I take him away to be punished, your grace. As seen fit by the law?"
Zelda looked over at Link, her eyes narrowing. "Yes."
The captain smiled broadly. He steered his horse around the Heir towards Link. Link reached out and gently took the Heir's hand. "Excuse me, your Grace. But you are making a mistake."
"You told me how to advise you. I did not waver from what you told me to do. If you send me away now because your pride was injured you will regret it later as you see the whip marks on my back. As well, by sending me away you will be left vulnerable. My ability to guard you will be lessened by pain from the whip."
Zelda stared deep into his eyes, remembering the things he had said, and the things she had said to him. Though, she was angry, he did say what she told him to.
Captain Craigen reached for the reigns of Link's horse when Zelda spoke. "Stop, Captain. I was mistaken. He did not insult me. He only spoke the truth as I had asked him to."
The captain looked from Zelda to Link and back again. He released Links’ reigns and turned to ride back to the front of the caravan. As he did he bowed and spoke. "As you wish, your grace."
"Okay, Link. You've told me I am blinded and don't know how to be queen. In your opinion, is this true?"
Zelda breathed deeply through her nose. "Okay. What do you think I should do then?"
Link said nothing for a few minutes before finally speaking. "Prepare yourself. Think ahead. Think of how you want to rule and make it so. Think of how you want others to see you as more than just a gem. Think of what you want from the people. Think of how you want people to respect you and follow your commands. Think of what you want for the kingdom. Then think of ways to do it."
Zelda stared at him quietly. Her eyes searching his features as her mind began to think on what he said. "I want people to respect me. I want the men of the Guard to be loyal to me. I want my people to be happy and for them to see me as their gracious queen. I want to rule with kindness and fairness but be harsh when needed. I want people to stop looking at me as something to use. I want my kingdom to prosper and grow like my father is doing for it. I want to start the Golden Age." Her head was held high when she finished her statement, her voice filled with righteous conviction.
Link only nodded and continued to scan the area for possible trouble. He took note of who each of the guards were talking to. He saw the different servants and took note of faces and clothing and who associated with who.
"Okay, Link. I know what I want and you're going to help me get it."
"First, the Guard. How do they view you?"
"Some see me with envy and jealously. Most fear me. Others just look right through me. Some look at me with awe."
"Good, that's a start. Who here sees you with awe. They must be young like us."
"There are three. Julian,
, and Gertu." Casper
"How do they view me?"
"With awe as well. They see you as some unreachable goal."
Zelda smiled. "Good. Go gather them up, Link. Do it in a commanding way."
Link looked at her and nodded. He trotted off quickly. She watched him go to each of the guards and point in her direction. Soon Link was back followed by the three guards. Upon reaching her they all bowed as best they could in their saddles.
"Your, Grace." They all said in unison.
"Hello, gentlemen. I have called you all to me for just one reason and one reason only. I'm expanding my Honor Guard."
The three of them looked at her in confusion. She sighed. "I have picked you three to become a part of my new Honor Guard. Is that clear?"
The three guards all looked on her in disbelief. They all nodded stammering their appreciation.
She held-up her hand to silence them. "Link will be the captain of my honor guard and you three shall report and be directly under him. Is that clear?"
They all nodded, shock still showing in their faces.
"Good. Now, here is how this will work. You will only listen to my and Link's commands. You are hereby no longer part of the Royal Guard. The only one who can counter my orders is my father. Clear?" They swallowed, but nodded. They were beginning to see the ramifications of this. "Excellent. Right now you have been trained by lesser people. Therefore, if you are to be part of my Honor Guard you must become better swordsmen. Starting tonight Link will personally put you through a series of drills. Until that time you are still to take orders from Captain Craigen. When Link comes for you is when you will officially become part of my Honor Guard. Clear?"
"Yes, your grace." The three said again in unison.
"Good. Now return to your posts." They once more bowed to her and trotted off. "Link, was that a good decision? How did they take it?"
"They are still in shock at being chosen and being in your presence. It was a wise idea to get their loyalty, but they are just three among hundreds."
"One guard at a time?"
"Oh no. This is just one way of getting their loyalties. Having some among them who would defend my honor. Now, tell me whom here has been having troubles as of late that I can help them with?"
Link looked around and slowly went into detail of things he had noticed and overheard. The rest of the day passed and soon night had come and the caravan staked out camp. The guards took up their posts around the large central tent where Princess Zelda lay down to sleep for the evening. In the coming months she had much to do.
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