Chapter 4 – A Shadow’s Doubts
Four months had now passed. The kingdom was still seeing changes being brought across the breadth of the Hyrule. The King issued a proclamation some two months ago defining exactly where the borders of the kingdom lay. On each road leading into the kingdom a sign was posted welcoming all into the Golden Realm of Hyrule. As such, all residents were here after to pay a weekly tax to the Crown. It was said that it was a trade for safety and protection. There were many uprisings throughout the kingdom in response.
For generations people had only paid a small tax to the crown, four times a year. Now, in outrage they rebelled. For two months battles raged across the plains and in the hills. From shimmering
Lake Hyliato the foothills of . The original ringleaders by now had been taken out. But resentment was still present and through it bands of raiders roamed the plains attacking guards, merchants, and other envoys. The Guard was stretched to their limits trying to protect all that was happening in the kingdom. Death Mountain
Captain Muion had been named
's successor a month ago. His task, see to the collection of the taxes and the safety of the once peaceful kingdom. His solution was to hire and train more guardsmen, and to retrain the Guard as well. His own vision was to see that the Guard would strike fear in to all who saw them. Trent
"I was such a fool getting rid of
so soon." Princess Zelda said aloud to her shadow. She was seated on a bench within a small chamber of the castle. Beside her was Link, watching around the small chamber and occasionally glancing out the window. "If I had waited another few months those riots would have been quelled as soon as they had started. If anything besides power hungry Trent was good at keeping the peace." Link made no response, only listened. Zelda sat there stewing in her own mind, replaying the last few months in her head. She herself had made progress, but things seemed to be on the verge of falling apart. Trent
"What's happening to my kingdom, Link?" She asked with her voice sounding weary.
"Your father is pushing too hard. He wants things to move too quickly, thus he ran out of funds. The logical step was to tax the people more than just four times a year."
"He's being too ambitious?"
"Tell me what else you think the problem is. Can growth really cause this much strife?"
"It can when you push. The king does not have the support of the people. Also, he has surrounded himself with very capable people, but they are all too ambitious. An ambition he himself started."
Zelda lowered her head. "He did it all for me. So I would become queen to a mighty and powerful kingdom. Hyrule's Golden Age." She said on the verge of tears.
Link glanced her way and decided to speak freely. "He is not doing it all for you. He is doing it all for himself. He wants to shape this kingdom to fit his vision. A vision he thought of. The only thing he wants for you is to inherit and continue his vision."
Zelda wiped her eyes and looked up, nodding in understanding. "Do you think he'll succeed? Or will he break this kingdom apart trying?"
Link tilted his head in thought. "I don't know. If he pushes too hard the people will rebel if they rally behind a strong leader. There are more of them than us. He may actually subdue the people to his vision and he may succeed. No one can predict the future."
Zelda nodded solemnly trying to compose herself. "I won't let him destroy my kingdom just for some stupid dream." She spoke, anger entering her tone. "Tell me about the reports of these Sheikah. What has my father been having them do?"
"They are his scouts and ears to what is happening around the kingdom. He sent them to find the people who started the riots. He sends them to gather information about a certain topic. They keep him informed."
Zelda nodded slowly. "Why?"
Link shook his head. "I don't know. Only one ever reports to the king. He is called Quiri. You have seen him many times. He wears long purple robes and hides his face from all save for in the king's presence. He seems to be the liaison between the Sheikah and your father."
Zelda nodded, cupping her chin in concentration. “Call for five of my Honor Guard to come and guard me. I want you to seek out this Quiri and tell him I have asked for an audience. Please, tell him I would value discretion."
Link nodded his understanding. He stepped out of the room and exchanged words with the Honor Guard posted outside the room. Within ten minutes five were standing at attention. Link motioned for two to enter the small chamber and guard the Princess while the other three stood outside the door. That done he went upon his way. He walked the corridors quietly as people just passed their eyes over him. To the lower levels of the kitchen he went in search of Quiri's quarters. Before daring to knock he made sure no one was looking. He rapt on the door three times and waited for a response.
"Please, enter." Came a voice.
Link entered a small chamber sparsely furnished and lit by a single candle. Sitting on the narrow bed was Quiri, his legs crossed and his hands at his side. He was dressed oddly with loose clothing dyed a deep purple to conflict with his dull white hair and red eyes. "Ah, how ironic. The shadow of the Heir has come to visit the shadow of the King." He smiled.
"Princess Zelda requests your presence. She asks for you to use discretion."
The sheikah only chuckled. "I was wondering when she would get around to employing me into her services."
Link's only response was to stare blankly at him.
Quiri returned his gaze, studying him. "You don't speak much but you see more than most."
Link still waited patiently.
"Tell the Heir I will meet her in her chambers at dusk tonight. Tell her to leave her window unlocked for me."
Link nodded before he left.
Dusk soon came and found both Link and the Heir waiting in her chambers. Her window was thrown wide open to the chill air outside. Link's eyes never left the window. There was suddenly a cracking sound and a flash of blinding light in the window. When it passed there stood Quiri in her room and Link directly in front of the Heir with his sword drawn. He waited for Zelda to tell him to stand at ease.
Quiri only smiled mysteriously. He bowed to the Heir before speaking. "Such a loyal dog you have guarding you. Does he keep you warm at night as well?" He said in a sing-song tone.
Zelda's cheeks flared. "No he does not." She spat. "And I'd expect a little more respect from you, sheikah."
Quiri only chuckled. "Child you do not understand. I am not sworn to you. I am sworn to your father. Sworn to both protect and serve him. Not his offspring."
Link's eyes narrowed and his hands tensed. "How dare you insult me that way." Zelda shot back, becoming riled by his tone. "I am the Heir."
Quiri shook his head. "I had feared the reports weren't true, but you're as stuck up as they come."
Zelda's hands clenched at his sides and she took in a deep breath and slowly let it out. "I demand your respect. I deserve it." She stood-up and leveled her eyes at his.
Quiri began nodding his head eyeing her up and down. "Maybe there is more to you than I thought at first."
It was now Zelda's time to smile. "You think I don't know what your race of shadow people is up to? Do you think me completely without knowledge?"
Quiri's smile slowly faded. "I know you have eyes throughout the castle. I know you've been behind some rather interesting developments among the society. I know for a fact that you're much more cunning than your father will ever suspect. The only thing about you I do not know, is how? A year ago you were content in your own little world. Then suddenly you began manipulating the people around you."
Zelda's smile broadened. "Why does my father not know of all this? Certainly you've been having me watched?"
Quiri's eyes narrowed. "Clever. Very clever. Since this young lapdog of yours took over your guard it has been increasingly difficult to use our standard spying measures against you. We don't why, but be grateful you have him at your side. Now what is it that you wish of me."
Zelda shook her head. "First tell me why don't I have a sheikah guardian? Sworn to protect and serve me?"
Quiri's eye went wide. He hesitated before speaking. "How do you know of that?"
Zelda laughed. "Do you think I only get information by eavesdropping. I ask people things. I asked my father who and what the Sheikah were. He was most forthcoming in telling me many things of your race. The one I liked best is where your whole race are guardians to the Royal Family. And as such each member must have their own personal guardian. So I ask again, where is mine?"
Quiri suddenly laughed out loud. "Interesting. Very interesting. Maybe one day you will make a good queen. As to your question, because you don't need one. Up until four years ago you did have a guardian watching over and protecting you. When this boy," He spoke indicating towards Link, "stepped-up and beat your guard we could no longer watch over you without revealing ourselves to you. When we told your father he nearly had the boy killed. We convinced him otherwise. We saw something in this shadow of yours. Thus, we deigned him your guardian. We saw that as long as he was by your side he could protect as well as we could. As to your old guardian; he passed away a few years ago."
Zelda cocked her head and looked at Link, wondering what exactly it was about him that separated him from everyone else. She was beginning to suspect he was more special than he let on or even knew. She turned her attentions back towards the sheikah. "Okay. Now that we understand each other I must speak with your leaders. Also, I would like my own personal guardian."
Quiri shook his head. "But, you do not need one as long as you have your shadow."
Zelda smiled. "You function more to my father than just his guardian. I would require similar things from my own guardian."
Quiri nodded slowly. "I will arrange a meeting with the Elders. And after this night they will be very eager to meet you."
"I would hope so. And will you do me a personal favor?"
Quiri nodded. "Anything, your Grace."
"Inform your elders how you first treated me and what you said to disrespect me."
Quiri gulped. "I shall, your Grace."
Zelda nodded regally. "You are free to go."
With that Quiri bowed and was out in the window in a burst of speed.
Two weeks passed slowly for the Heir. Her patience was beginning to wear thin as to whether or not Quiri had kept his word. Her question was answered soon that night as she retired to her private chamber. She entered trailed by two of her Honor Guard. They were dressed in the standard Guard uniform, but they now had a new addition. Each wore tied around there waists a simple purple sash.
She walked into the room and breathed a deep sigh. She looked over to her two guards. "Julian. Tomorrow I want you to stand guard while Link runs through the daily drills with the others and watch the society members closely. Read their lips and take note of Lord Bucom and Duke Hersh particularly. I would wish to know who they speak with and what they speak of. Is that clear?"
, you job tomorrow is to meet with Giles of the Secret Guard and learn what he has learned of my father's next big plan. I hope to prevent any more riots from breaking out across this kingdom because of his own stupidity." Casper
nodded. Zelda made her way to her mirror stand and slowly began to undo her hair. She was waiting for Link's return so he could report on the happenings of the Casper 's construction. And whether or not it was of her father's plan to have paved roads stretching from it. If it were true her goron friends would know of it. She assumed her father would want them to begin constructing it. She hoped he had enough sense to wait for the revolts to die down. Golden Castle
She heard a rapping sound against her door. Three knocks then two, then finally three more. Link. "Come in." She called.
The door opened and Link walked into the room. And as he did he ordered the two guards off duty. They saluted him and walked out shutting the door behind them. Link himself walked forward as Zelda motioned him to. "Okay, what have you...." She was instantly cut off as Link approached. As he drew near they heard grunting echoing through the room. For seconds it sounded as if someone were in pain. Then they heard a tearing sound. Zelda and Link whipped their heads about and finally their eyes fell upon three figures slowly emerging from a shadow cast against the wall.
Link's greatsword was instantly drawn as he shoved Zelda behind him. He waited tensed as the three figures composed themselves. They stood tall and proud. Each was adorned with deep purple robes. Each of their eyes was a different shade of red and each of their hair was a different shade of white. They all still had young complexions, but signs of aging could be seen at the corners of their eyes.
"Who are you?" Demanded Princess Zelda, her tone strong and commanding.
The three figures composed themselves as best they could. The one in the center spoke first. "We are the Elders of the Sheikah you wished to speak with, Heir."
"Stand down, Link." He followed her command and sheathed his sword, but he did not relax. Zelda stepped around him and looked at each of the sheikah intently. "What were you doing a moment ago? Spying on me? Where did you come from?"
Three passed long looks at one another before the one in the center spoke. "We were observing you first. Trying to understand who you had become. We were as well waiting for your shadow's return to observe him as well. As to where we came from. We came from that shadow there." He pointed to the one behind him.
Zelda looked at him peculiarly. "You can hide in shadows?"
He nodded. "Yes we can. That is we can as long as your shadow does not get too close to us. We doubted what your original guardian had said about being in the boy's presence. I see though that all he that told us was truth." The three sheikah regarded Link with some curiosity.
"Okay. So you can hide in shadows. That's how you spy for my father."
"We can do much more than just hide in shadows."
Zelda nodded. "What else can you do?"
The center one slowly shook his head. "There will be time enough for explanation later. First, let us begin with introduction. I am Tulo. This is Maric and this is Rega. Together we three have come at your request, your grace." The three bowed in unison.
Zelda nodded, acknowledging their respect with her own, as she had been taught to do.
"Now then, Heir, why is it that you have summoned us?"
"I wish to discuss with you my father's vision." The three Elders only nodded. Zelda sighed. "What do you think of his vision?"
Tulo spoke first. "It is a grand and noble vision, one worth much sacrifice."
Zelda only nodded. "I see. Now tell me what you think of how he is accomplishing this grand and noble vision." The three elders sighed. Zelda quickly spoke. "I see then you do not wish to discuss it with me?"
Rega spoke. "It is not that we do not wish to discuss it. It is we are feeling something very odd in the air. Something bordering on betrayal. It seems to be coming from you."
Zelda's eyes went wide with shock. "What?"
Maric brought his hands together. "Child, we of the sheikah are more sensitive to certain things than are hylians. Emotions and intents and the nature's of people are among some of these things. We are feeling from you something that borders a betrayal of your father."
Zelda slowly nodded. "You are right. I am planning something close to betrayal with my father. Fear not, though. It involves nothing of taking his life or of seeing myself on the throne until it is my time."
The elders showed no reaction to her statement. Tulo spoke. "I believe it best if you would share your plans for us with us then, if it is our services you want."
Zelda nodded. "Very well. If you can sense people's moods and intents then you can already sense the kind of people my father has surrounded himself with. Am I right?" They nodded. "Good. This also means that you can sense the air of the kingdom. The discontent my people are feeling because of my father's vision. He has made numerous harsh decisions that are pushing them into revolt. I fear that him trying to achieve his dream he will tear my kingdom apart. I do not want this. What I am trying to do now is keep this kingdom together. To let survive his dream and his reign until I can ascend the throne."
The three sheikahs passed looks among themselves that spoke volumes. They nodded to each other in apparent agreement. Tulo spoke for them all. "We have had the same fears, your grace. We have seen and felt all of this and more."
"And you have done nothing to help?"
Tulo held up his hand shaking his head. "We have done what we can. Advised him where we saw. We have helped to keep the peace among the people, but we can only do so much."
"What do you mean? Are you limited in what you can do? I just saw you come from a shadow."
Tulo smiled at her exasperation. "Child, let me explain first what we the Sheikah are. We are Watchers of History. Keepers of Time. Guardians of spirits and guardians of the Royal Family. We only protect and watch things unfold. We cannot interfere directly on our own accord. It is one of our basic precepts. 'To not interfere with knowledge of what is right, when no one can know what is right.'"
"So you have the power to change things, but you don't have the right to."
Tulo nodded gravely. "Thus, we only watch and record and provide what service to the royal family we can."
Zelda cocked her head to the side. "So if my father ordered the killing of a rebel leader, you would do it?"
"I see how it works now. Would you be willing to serve me as you have served my father?"
The three looked at one another carefully and waited several minutes before answering. Finally, Rega spoke-up. "It has been done in the past where one family member has asked for certain things, but we have a feeling you would be asking much from us. You may not realize it, but you’re just as ambitious as your father."
Zelda only nodded. "I know. But there is one difference. I'm not going to make his mistakes. And you are correct. I am going to ask much of you. The first of which is to not let my father know of any help you are giving me. If he learns that I am usurping his authority things may get out of hand."
Tulo nodded. "You speak much wisdom for one so young, now tell us what you would wish done."
Zelda then looked to Link. She looked back towards the three elders. "I do not know what is happening outside this castle. In this castle I know what everyone does and what everyone says. I would like something similar out in the rest of the kingdom. A network of spies if you will. That way I can know how to act and who it will affect. Is this possible?"
The elders nodded.
"I figured my father had something like that already set up. Though, I would wish information about the other races as well. What they are capable of. Who they dislike, who they like and what they want from my father's vision. I would also like to make connections with people of each race. I assume you would be able to set up meetings and correspondences. Help me acquaint myself with them and who to acquaint with?"
The elders again nodded, waiting for her to finish.
"I would also like to use you has a messenger service. That way I know my letters and plans won't get into anyone's hands. I would also like to know what you as individuals are capable of. It seems you know magic. Would it be possible for me to learn some of these skills?"
The elders once more exchanged looks. "It would be possible."
Zelda smiled. "And of course, one last thing. I would require four guardians to be with me and serve me directly; separate from my father's will."
The elders again exchanged glances. For a few moments they looked at each other intently. Finally, Rega spoke. "All this and more can be achieved. As to the four guardians, we sense you have specifications in mind?"
Zelda nodded. "I do. One of them I want to be both a mentor and teacher to me. Something of an advisor as well, yet able to protect me from things Link cannot. They must be wise enough and worldly enough to understand what is happening in this kingdom."
The elders nodded. "And the last three?"
"I want them to be sorcerers. Able to wield magic and best many men at once. Able to say cut a path through the guards if ever the need arise. People young and full of energy.” She waited for their response.
Tulo smiled warmly at her. "I see you still have a child's imagination. Yet, you speak with the voice of a woman."
The comment irritated Princess Zelda. "I guess you don't have anyone like that?"
Rega chuckled. "In fact we have three very likely candidates in mind. All they need is focus in their lives and it appears you will give it to them."
Zelda nodded, very pleased with herself. "That should do it then."
"If there be nothing else, we shall take leave of you and make the proper arrangements, your grace." They bowed to her. And one by one made their way to the window. Unlatching it they made their way out. The Heir rushed to the window ledge to look out it, but they were already gone.
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