Chapter 3 Ė Testing the Waters
††††††††††† Five months had passed since the Heir had visited the
.† Five months into her preparations to become the queen she dreamed to be.† All throughout Hyrule the changes her father implemented continued at a startling pace.† Negotiations with the Gorons had been completed and already the second wave of Goron laborers was at the new castle helping speed up construction.† Their attunement to rock and stone helped them to know where weak points existed, and they took measures to strengthen parts of the existing structure.† Golden Castle
††††††††††† To the south of
, where the Gorons hail from, talks with the fish people, the Zoras, were completed.† In exchange for wrought steel they would send representatives to the villas, existing to the south of Hyrule Field, and help the locals irrigate and find better sources of water for their crops.† The King had plans for the food that was pouring out of that fertile belt of land. Death Mountain
††††††††††† To the west and north of the villas lay the entrance to the vast desert surrounded completely by high rock faces.† The place where the Gerudo made their home.† There the King went personally to talk to the King of the Gerudos.† The only male among a race of females.† One was born every hundred years to lead them, and they were completely sworn to him.† In exchange for a female contingent to fight alongside the Guard and for the King to be able to send his troops to the desert to help harden and train them; King Oberon allotted a part of Hyrule Field to be given to the Gerudos.† He also agreed to ship them food stuffs, compliments of the crown, once a week from the villas.
††††††††††† With these new agreements in action the King saw his dream beginning to once more take off.† As to the once apparent revolts?† The leaders had been punished as seen fit by the newly posted Royal Law.† Each law was written out and posted at every village, town, farmstead and so forth for all to know.† Once, every week for the past three months the laws were read aloud at each place so everyone knew by heart what was law and what the punishment was for breaking it.
††††††††††† Back at the castle the Heir's Honor Guard and expanded to include twenty young and eager guardsmen.† When the various captains complained to the King he saw fit to address his daughter about the situation.† He found her in a small cordoned off section of the courtyard.† She stood there leaning against a railing looking down upon a grassy area.† Oberon came up behind her and watched in fascination at the scene before them.† It involved twenty guardsmen all stripped to the waist.† They were arrayed in rows and he watched them move quickly and efficiently, mimicking the movements of the Heir's shadow, Link.
††††††††††† "Is this what you do in your spare time now, dumpling?† Watch half-naked men move about?"† The King spoke deeply.
††††††††††† Princess Zelda turned to him slowly.† It took much of her will power not to blush at the statement.† "No.† Itís just for one hour.† My shadow needs to keep his skills honed.† I decided he could do it here.† I also decided if my Honor Guard is to guard me then they had better be better at guarding."
††††††††††† The King nodded in understanding.† "And who else to teach them than the best swordsman we have?"
††††††††††† Princess Zelda nodded proudly.† "No one has beat him, yet."
††††††††††† The King chuckled.† "How very true.† Except he's not the best.† You only think that because he's beaten all those ambitious challengers.† He's not yet gone up against a swordmaster."
††††††††††† Zelda only smiled, then called out to her Honor Guard.† "Halt."† The men froze and came into attention facing her.† "Link.† Show my father your skills at a blade."
††††††††††† Link bowed before walking towards his gear and grabbing his sword.† "Just watch father."† The king did watch carefully as Link launched into a series of rolls, attacks, lunges, blocks, and ripostes.† It was as if he was battling an invisible opponent.† A few minutes passed and his speed picked up.† He was completely silent throughout the exercises.† When he thought he had showed off enough he stopped and bowed to the Heir and King.† He then started barking out orders once more to his men.
††††††††††† "Now you see why I think he is the best.† I've seen the swordmasters dueling in their tournaments, and none have ever gone as fast as Link.
††††††††††† King Oberon nodded slowly.† "That was impressive I have to admit.† I always forget his skills for some reason.† Even though all I have to do is think back to that day four and half years ago.† A child defeated five of my best guards.† A child!† I thought to myself, if he can defeat that many with ease then he's all you need as a guard.† I never stopped to think he would only get better with time."
††††††††††† Zelda smiled proudly.† "He makes a wonderful shadow.† It's always comforting to know that he's there to save me."
††††††††††† The king gave her a strange look.† "Do remember that he is common born."
††††††††††† Zelda whipped her head in her father's direction.† "You don't mean to think I'm going to one day marry him, do you?"† Shock evident in her voice.
††††††††††† The king smiled.† "From your reaction?† No.† But I had to make sure."
††††††††††† Zelda only nodded.† "So why come here and not summon me to your throne?"
††††††††††† The King smiled proudly at her noticing that.† "Because I have come here unofficially as both king and father."
††††††††††† "Oh really?† Would it have anything to do about some inquiring captains?"† She gave her father a secretive smile.
††††††††††† He nodded and smiled himself.† "Yes, that is one reason.† They are of course demanding their guards back.† Not out of ability but of pride.† Only a few have actually come forward.† Most realize you are the Heir and as such know your commands are law.† Others don't like to recognize that fact.† So they came to me knowing better than to confront you with Link around.† Ever since Rolan was nearly killed he's put a little fear into them."
††††††††††† "So father, what will you do?† Undercut my authority and have me disperse the only ones of the guard who are loyal to me to make your captains happy?† Or will you make them angry with me and you by allowing me to keep them?"
††††††††††† Oberon pursed his lips.† "Put that way I have a hard decision to make.† What would you have me do?"† He stared at her intently.
††††††††††† She shrugged.† "Simple.† Tell me to stop undercutting their authority with the guard and have me formally apologize.† Which means no more taking their guards.† Which, by the way, I am happy with since all I wanted were twenty.† Then, of course explain to them that I am the Heir and that I saw fit to have my own guard separate from them for sakes of security reasons, and that is something that they shouldn't question.† That way their pride is mended and they see me as more than just a gem."
††††††††††† Oberon slowly nodded.† "That's exactly what I was planning."
††††††††††† Princess Zelda smiled. "Anything else father?"
††††††††††† "Yes, in fact there was.† I would also like to tell you how proud I am of you for organizing the food drive here in town and in Kakariko.† It means a lot to folks who can't afford their own."
††††††††††† "I know.† We had all the extra food from the kitchens going to the waste, so I decided to put it to better use."
††††††††††† The King let silence reign for a few minutes as they listened to Link bark out more commands.
††††††††††† "Go ahead and say it father.† This was the part you aren't going to be a king about, right?"
††††††††††† He nodded his head slowly.† "We need to discuss your marriage arrangements."
††††††††††† Zelda went stiff, her eyes frozen on Link's moving form.† "What about them?"
††††††††††† "In two years you will be a woman and of the marrying age.† I would like to see our line secured before my death.† I would like to see you married and happy."
††††††††††† Zelda did not speak for a few moments carefully considering her next words.† She wished Link were here to sign her suggestions.† Her father was a lot more cunning than she gave him credit for.† Timing this question when Link was not around.† Be brave and be strong.† "Who do you think will make a good suitor for me then father?"
††††††††††† Oberon looked his daughter over carefully and watched as her whole form relaxed.† "There are many suitable ones.† And remember a marriage doesn't always come with love.† Sometimes it something to use to help cement relations."
††††††††††† She turned to her father.† "Who did you have in mind?"
††††††††††† "The first would be the King of the Gerudos to cement our relationship with them.† He has expressed interest in a union with you."
††††††††††† Zelda balked at the idea.† "He would sleep with dozens of women and then come to my bed and help me sire a child?† No."
††††††††††† Oberon nodded.† "I thought as much.† However, there is someone much more suitable I believe.† It would a good choice to.† He's strong of will and of mind.† Plus, with him by your side you would have the Guard cemented to you as well."
††††††††††† Once more Zelda balked.† "
!† He is too strong willed and wants too much power.† If I marry him he will try and dominate me and my rule.† A power struggle will most likely ensue and he will have the Guard at his back and I will have the livery at mine.† That would be a horrible mistake!Ē Trent
††††††††††† Oberon was the one who balked now, shock entering his eyes and red his cheeks.† "He is not that power hungry.† To keep him in line all you need is to throw him an occasional bone.† It keeps him satisfied and loyal.† He is not that hard a person to control."
††††††††††† Zelda slitted her eyes.† "I see you haven't heard then what happened?† Surprising as how bad castle gossip can get."
††††††††††† Oberon tensed and his nostrils flared.† "What happened?"† His asked his voice getting deeper.
††††††††††† It did not phase Zelda.† She went out with righteous fury.† "He tried to have his way with me is what happened!† He got some fool notion in his head I was burning with desire for him.† He walked up to me and Link and asked my shadow to see my Honor Guard fully assembled.† So assuming he would guard me in Link's stead I sent my shadow off to gather my guards.† When Link came back he found your Captain of the Guard pawing all over me.† It took me three times to order Link not to kill him.† Didn't you wonder where
got that cut across his face?" Trent
††††††††††† With every word uttered the King's face grew darker and darker.† His fist was clenched so hard droplets of blood were seeping from it.† "I'll take care of this."† The King uttered before stalking off raging for his own guards to follow him.† Zelda watched him go with a quiet smile on her face.† Her father may be more cunning than she thought, but she was better.† She turned her attention back towards Link.†
††††††††††† Fifteen minutes later he was dressed and standing in front of her after ending the training session and sending the Honor Guard off on errands.† Checking on certain things and making arrangements.† Link stood by her side waiting for her to speak first.
††††††††††† "Well, my shadow I take it you read our lips?"
††††††††††† He nodded.
††††††††††† "I'm sorry for having to keep you in the dark like that, but your rage had to be genuine or that servant who saw it may not have believed what was happening.† So tell me your thoughts."
was a problem.† You took care of him.† If not by the most honest of methods." Trent
††††††††††† "I feel bad, but I did learn a lot.† I learned just how powerful gossip and rumor among the society and the servants can be.† Do you disapprove?"
††††††††††† "No.† You did what you had to do.† The loyalty of the Guard had grown too strong in
.† He had to be removed.† Your father was blinded by an old friendship with him.† Otherwise he would have seen it, too." Trent
††††††††††† Zelda sighed.† "What of Duke Hersh and his plans for me?† Have they gotten worse?"
††††††††††† Link nodded.† "They have."
††††††††††† "And Lord Bucom?"
††††††††††† "His wishes haven't changed.† Nor has he acted upon them."
††††††††††† "And Belar has not either?"
††††††††††† Link shook his head.† "Captain Muion will now be too busy vying to become the next Captain of the Guard to worry about.† It will be months before there will be another one."
††††††††††† Zelda shook her head in annoyance.† "Must all these people include me in their plans, it gets so tedious.† Advise me."† She commanded.
††††††††††† "Use their plans against them.† Or use them and their plans.† Each person in society wishes to curry favor with you in order to get to the king.† Some wish their rivals gone.† Or discredited.† Or both.† Some just want to climb to the top of the social ladder.† But they all have schemes and dreams."
††††††††††† Zelda nodded mulling over his words carefully.† "During the next ball I want some of my Honor Guard to attend.† I want them to read the society's lips and find out what people are talking about.† I need more information.† Have you yet met with five of the secret guards?"
††††††††††† Link shook his head.† "Not as of yet.† Would you wish them in the next ball as well?"
††††††††††† Zelda nodded.† "I want them to help guard it as regular guards.† Also, I want at least thirty secret guards among the Guard.† I don't want things to happen within this castle without me knowing about it.† This includes making one of my father's own guard a secret guard.† Do you think it could be done?"
††††††††††† Link mulled the idea over in his mind.† "There are twenty-five in all.† He has at least ten with him at all times.† I think one or two may be able to switch loyalties with
††††††††††† "Good."† She nodded.† "See what you can do.† Now letís go and get some food.† I'm thinking about making another trip to the
.† Itís time I met with these GoronsÖthese giant rock people." Golden Castle
††††††††††† The two slowly walked off.
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