February 2, 4546
It had been, Princess Zelda ruminated, a nearly perfect evening. The trade caravan from Benlucca had come through without a hitch; everyone had complimented her at dinner on her beautiful new gown; and the formal ball for the ambassador was going along just fine. The grand hall had been specially decorated for the event, and banners with the royal symbols of Benlucca and Hyrule had been draped from the ceiling, while all the chandeliers were fully lit up, bathing the hall with a light as bright as the sun. Zelda had been right at home, dancing gaily with dozens of people who had come just to see the beautiful princess of Hyrule.
Or rather, she had been dancing. Until she suddenly felt sick only twenty minutes through and had to sit down. Now she was sitting at her father's right hand in her gilded throne, still feeling somewhat queasy, while Link was still dancing away like a mad fool. She sat sulkily as hundreds of minor officials, dukes, duchesses, knights, courtiers and others came to greet the king and the Benluccan ambassador, Tolan Mynela. They would come up and drone on and on about how the king was a radiant beacon of hope for the kingdom and how the trade caravan will finally unite the world and all that mindless toadying. Zelda lazily blew a strand of hair out of her eyes.
Zelda looked up. Spryte hovered a few inches above her head with a smirk on her face and her formal attire on. Zelda sighed.
"I wish you wouldn't call me that. Everyone calls me that, now that I'm married."
"Well, I have to show the proper respect to the future queen, don't I?" Spryte floated down until she was right in front of Zelda's nose. "Why are you here instead of dancing out there?"
"I could ask you the same question."
"It's not too easy to trip the light fantastic when your partner's five feet taller than you are." She made a face. "But why are you up here? I thought you hated to be fawned over."
"I'm feeling too sick to dance. I think I've got that flu again."
Spryte looked curiously at her for a second. Then she suppressed a giggle. Zelda frowned.
"What're you so happy about?"
"Nothing." Spryte giggled again.
Zelda pursed her lips. "I think you've had too much wine."
"I haven't had any." She was visibly shaking from laughter now. "Maybe I've got the flu, too!" She went off into a fit of laughter and flew away giddily. Zelda frowned again. What was so funny?
Well, she could find out easily enough. Zelda sat back and closed her eyes, searching inside for that brilliant core of mindfire. She touched it, letting the inner magic flow through her. Her skin glowed with a faint luminescence, but no one noticed in the bright light. Slowly her pupils faded, until she was looking inside herself. Now what did Spryte find so funny-
So that's what it was, she thought.
* * *
The royal musicians slowly halted the waltz they'd been playing, and Link bowed stiffly towards his dancing partner. She curtsied, and went to find a new partner, one who didn't step on her feet so much. Link tried to twist his sore neck and found he couldn't in the starched uniform Harkinian had pressed on him. He fiddled with the collar, trying to unobtrusively loosen it.
As he did this, he suddenly saw Zelda gliding towards him, a dreamy smile on her face. Link bowed, grinning.
"May I have this next dance, milady?" Zelda curtsied, the musicians struck up again, and they went off across the floor.
"Are you feeling better now?" Link said into Zelda's ear.
"Much," she whispered back. "I'm pregnant."
Link's eyes widened and he stumbled over the next step. He regained his balance with some difficulty and coughed a little. "Come again?"
Zelda, who hadn't missed a beat of the music, smiled even more. "I said I'm pregnant."
"And I'm going to be a-a-"
"The word you're looking for is father."
Link kissed Zelda's cheek. "You know I love you."
"And we'll have to tell your father."
Zelda pulled away, still smiling. "Forget father." She shot a glance at the stairway, her thoughts obvious. "Want to celebrate now?" She ran up the stairs without waiting for an answer.
Link sighed. "I never thought I'd see the day when I had to chase my own wife." He ran up after her.
* * *
Today the caravan from Benlucca arrived. The Benluccans look so funny, with small eyes and-
"Curses!" the woman in black whispered fiercely. She slammed the book shut and shoved it back under Zelda's mattress. Her cloak swirled as she stood up. "This dratted girl has nothing on the Triforce in here!" she muttered.
This woman seemed scarred, seemed as though the world had taught her to hate. She carried the hatred that Ganon did, but none of the darker aura-none of the evil. Her eyes were a deep indigo at first sight, but if you looked at them long enough, you would see that they were more than that-a deep, endless well of a billion colors, tainted with the shadow of hatred and death. Her skin was like ivory, carved like a sculpture of a one-winged angel. Rubies seemed to stain her lips, but when on her face, it seemed instead like blood.
Her childlike fingers drummed quickly on Zelda's sidetable as she thought. Then she snapped her fingers. "The library! Of course!" She turned around and lept down the stairs feverishly.
Finally she stopped in front of the heavy oaken door with the blocky Hyrulian word Library enscribed on it. Chuckling, she pushed open the door.
Thousands of books lined hundreds of shelves beyond the door. Some irreplacable, some rare, and some merely very valuble. A person could read every minute of their life and still read no more than a quarter of the books.
But below the shelves, the last thing that the woman needed, was Impa reading a leather-bound book. Impa looked up.
If she had waited a second, she would be too late. But her reflexes were up to it, and the woman immediately shifted into the form of a maid, her face altering to create the right mix of stupidity and obediance, her cloak lengthening and shortening to look just like the palace help uniform. Impa peered intently at her, and smiled.
"Hello there. Are you here to dust? These shelves could use a good cleaning," she said in a voice like a door hinge.
The woman stared back blankly. "Oh-sorry, ma'am. I thought this was the study."
Impa smiled, her crooked teeth showing. "No, dear, that's through the next door."
The woman curtsied, gritting her teeth. "Thank you, ma'am." She walked over to the door and went into the study. As she did, she shifted back into her previous form. Cursed woman! How was she supposed to get anything on the Triforce now? Angered, she slapped her small hand on the desk. She lifted it just as quickly when she felt the familiar burning sensation from her finger.
"Blasted collar!" The ubiquitous filigree design from her golden ring was already burned into the desktop. She cursed so fiercely that her hair started to smolder. If she could only find the information she'd been searching for, then the collar could come off. But that blasted Sheikah was leafing through that information with her leprous hands right now!
No matter, though. Let it never be said that K'illa M'ohoni is not patient.
My thanks to Juliet A. Singleton for the generous loan of her characters and set-up in her stories. E-mail me at GlnnMiller@aol.com.
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