The Rules of Succession

By Kasuto of Kataan

Chapter Two

      A large table covered in food was set up in the banquet hall. A small ensemble of musicians played soft music in the corner. This wasn't a very large banquet, only the most important people were in attendance. The king sat at the head of the table. To his left were some of his advisors and other members of Hyrule's government. There was Duke Kaore, economic ministers, the top military leaders, and a few professors from the University. On the right side of the table were Ambassador Zimm and his delegation. He had brought eight people with him. A few were guards, and the rest were his advisors. The whole group had just gotten out of an official diplomatic meeting, and were now taking a break for dinner. They could be casual now.
      "I have to thank you for your hospitality to us, Your Majesty," said Ambassador Zimm. He was a man of relatively normal size, he was about six feet tall and was fairly thin. He had short, black hair that was slicked back. His clothes were fairly normal, but of a type that indicated that he was an important person.
      "Your very welcome," replied the king. "It's my honor to be able to open official relations with your country. If you don't mind my asking, how come you waited so long to come here?"
      "Well, there are many reasons for that," Zimm began. "Mostly because my country has not had good experiences with other countries in the past. Our history is fraught with wars and numerous invasions. The whole country is atop the largest gold mine on the continent. For centuries, it has been the basis of our economy. And, of course, many others have tried to invade us and take our wealth. So, after a while we completely closed off relations with any other country. But now, it's starting to hurt us. Our economy is in a rapid decline and we need to be able to trade with other people. The government decided to open official relations with the surrounding countries. Hyrule is the last on the list, but it looks like the most promising. You're not as hostile as some other places."
      "We've always believed in peace," said the king. "We try to solve problems with diplomacy instead of fighting."
      "If only everyone else were so sensible," said Zimm somberly. "Well, let's not get ourselves upset," he said, trying to lighten the mood. "This is a happy occasion for both our countries. You haven't told me much about yourself. Do you have a wife, or children?"
      "Actually, I do have a daughter," replied the king. "Her name is Zelda. Sadly, her mother died during childbirth and I could never bring myself to marry anyone else. So Zelda is my only child. She's out at the moment, but she'll be back in just a few…" He was interrupted by Zelda running towards him.
      "Hi, daddy!" she said as she ran to her father and hugged him. The king noticed Link standing in the doorway. "I brought Link home with me, I hope you don't mind."
      "That's fine honey," he said. The king turned to speak to the ambassador. "This is my daughter. Say hello to Ambassador Zimm from Sukinta, honey."
      "It's a pleasure to meet you," said Zelda politely as she gave a curtsy.
      "The pleasure is mine," said Zimm.
      "Link, you don't have to stand there, come in," offered the king. Link hesitantly walked into the banquet hall and scanned the room. Zelda didn't say that there would be people here. Being around strangers made Link nervous; he didn't feel hungry anymore. He put on a smile for the people. Zelda stepped next to Link and grasped his hand.
      "Daddy, do we have to stay in here?" complained Zelda. "Me and Link don't want to ruin your party so we'll just go in the regular dining room. Link doesn't want to stay here, do you Linkie-pooh?" When Link didn't respond, Zelda gently jabbed him with her elbow and he nodded.
      "That's fine dear," said the king. "You two run off, it's just grown up talk here." Zelda smiled and tried to drag Link out of the room. Zelda pulled at his arm making him stumble backwards. His gaze didn't shift from the large ham on the table.
      "What about…the food?" Link mumbled. It all looked so good.
      "Oh, I forgot that you were hungry," said Zelda. "We can just go up to the table and get some now. We can take the food with us to my dining room." Link smiled, and they walked up to the table. Link was taken aback by the wide array of food before him. There was a ham, pheasant, roast beef, and a wide selection of pastries and pies. Zelda grabbed an empty plate and began to pick out the things she wanted to eat. Link was about to take a plate for himself, when he noticed a large platter near it. The platter was empty, and was three times bigger than the dinner plate. Link took the platter and began to pile food onto it. Zelda giggled as she saw him putting a little bit of everything onto the platter.
      "Are you going to eat all that?" asked Zelda, eyeing the mound of food on Link's plate. "You must be really hungry." The only response Link gave was a nod; he was too focused on the food. When he finished selecting, he reviewed the foods on his plate. He had two pieces of pie, some small pastries, a large slice of beef, a slice of ham, some turkey breast, and some pheasant. He didn't even touch the fruits or vegetables; he had those every day.
      "Okay we can go now," said Link, satisfied with the dinner he had chosen.
      "Let's go," said Zelda. Link hefted the platter and followed Zelda to her dining room.
      "That's so cute," said Zimm after the children left. "Who's that boy? He didn't look like he lived here. Is he a friend of Zelda?"
      "Yes, that's Link," replied the king. "He's really the only friend she has. They really get along together. She's lucky to have found a friend like him. Of course, Zelda says she loves him and wants to marry him, but I'm not sure if she knows what she's talking about."
      "He seems like a nice boy," said Zimm. He reminds me of myself at that age. You know, you shouldn't blow off Zelda's comments so easily. She might very well been in love with him. She's young, but she seems to really connect with him."
      "Perhaps you're right. She couldn't have picked a better person."

      Link and Zelda were eating their dinners in the smaller dining room. This was the room that Zelda usually ate her meals in. Zelda watched Link devour his dinner, bite by bite. She had finished her food long ago, but Link was still going. His plate was half-empty and Link was still hungry. "If you eat any more, you're gonna explode," commented Zelda. Link paused his eating to glare at Zelda.
      "What? I'm hungry," Link said defensively. He finished off the last piece of turkey on his plate. Now the only food left was dessert. He started with a piece of pie. It was very sweet and made with some kind of berries. "You sure you don't want some?" said Link, offering her some of the pie.
      "No, that's okay," Zelda declined. "You go ahead. I'm having fun just watching you." Zelda giggled and Link scowled again. After a few more minutes of wolfing down desserts and pastries, Link was finally finished. Zelda was awestruck that a person could possibly eat that much food.
      "See, I told you I could do it," Link teased, sticking out his tongue at Zelda. She had bet him that he wouldn't even be able to eat half a plateful, let alone the whole thing. He proved her wrong.
      "I have to give you credit," Zelda said. "You're a bigger pig than I thought." She giggled at him. She picked up a napkin, thrust it onto Link's face, and began to wipe it briskly. "You have frosting on your face." Link would've felt humiliated if anyone else were around; luckily they were alone. Link didn't really mind if Zelda babied him like this. It was a fairly new experience for him, he was accustomed to taking care of himself. "There, all better," she said.
      "I won the bet," said Link. "Now you have to kiss me." He puckered his lips, and made kissing noises. This was one bet that Zelda didn't mind losing. She leaned over and gave Link a quick kiss.
      "Okay, I think it's time for you two to go to bed," said Impa from the doorway. Startled, Link and Zelda turned to see Impa looking at them from the doorway. How long had she been standing there? Link's face flushed and he turned away.
      "Oh, do we have to?" Zelda whined.
      "Yes, it's getting late. If you get ready for bed now, you can stay up a little while longer. Zelda, you go put your pajamas on."
      "Okay," Zelda conceded. She walked off to her room to change into her night clothes. Link still sat in his chair, unsure of what to do. He'd never been told when to go to bed before. He just went to bed when he was tired. Impa looked at this little boy that Zelda never stopped talking about. Zelda seemed to act as if Link were the center of her universe.
      "I don't have any pajamas," Link said, trying to break the awkward silence.
      "That's not a problem. You can wear one of Zelda's nightgowns," Impa joked. Link's face stiffened. Was she serious? No, she couldn't be. No one could ever make him wear one of Zelda's nightgowns, except for Zelda. Link would do anything for her.
      "Um…" was the only response Link could muster.
      "I'm just kidding," Impa finally said. Link breathed a sigh of relief. "You have to learn not to take everything so seriously." Link looked at Impa blankly. She sighed. "Come with me, I'll show you where you'll be staying." Link followed Impa out of the dining room and into the hallway. After walking past a few doors, she stopped. "This is your room," she said pointing to a door. Link opened it and walked into the room. He was taken aback by the sheer size of the bedroom. The bed alone was almost four times the size of the one he had at home. He ran over and felt the velvety sheets on the bed. Royalty sure know how to live, Link thought. Link started rolling around on the bed, trying to grasp the whole experience of living it up.
      "Are you having fun?" said Zelda, watching him from the door. Impa had gone and now Zelda was there. She was wearing a long, white nightgown with patterns of purple flowers.
      "Um…It's just a really big bed, that's all," said Link. Zelda ran over to the bed and stood on it.
      "You know what's really fun?" she asked. "Jumping on the bed!" They both started to jump on the bed. Link thought this was fun, the bed was just like a trampoline.
      "Hey, stop that!" Impa yelled. "I leave you two alone for one minute, and look what you do." Link froze, he didn't know what to do. Was Impa really mad at him? He didn't want to get on her bad side.
      "I'm sorry," Zelda apologized. "I was just showing Link how to jump on the bed," she said innocently.
      "Okay, it's bed time," Impa ordered. Zelda sulked and walked out the door. She saw the almost scared look on Link's face. "Don't be upset," Impa said in a motherly voice. "I'm not mad at you. Zelda always tries to cause mischief and I have to yell at her before she'll listen to me. My room is just down the hallway, next to Zelda's; it's the one with the Sheikah symbol on the door. If there is any problem, feel free to come to me. You try and get a good night's sleep, I'll come and get you in the morning." Impa turned off the bright oil lamp on the nightstand and closed the door. Link sat quietly for a moment, and then took off his boots and socks. He stripped down to his under shorts and tee-shirt and climbed into the bed. It was so soft and fluffy. It was like sleeping on air. Link would have no trouble sleeping in this luxurious bed. He closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.

      "That was an excellent reception," said Zimm, thanking the king for the wonderful meal and entertainment. It was late, and everyone wanted to retire for the evening. "You are such a gracious host."
      "It's my pleasure," the king responded. "I had guest quarters prepared for you and your group. The servants will show you the way…"
      "Allow me, Your Majesty," Duke Kaore interrupted. "I'll take the liberty of showing them to their rooms."
      "As you wish," said the king. Kaore led Zimm and his entourage through the castle and into the guest wing. He showed Zimm's assistants to their rooms and then he and Zimm were alone. A guard passed them in the hallway as Kaore led Zimm to his room. "Your room is this way, Your Excellency," said Kaore. They both entered into a guest bedroom and closed the door. It was safe now. "Okay, Z. We can talk now."
      "I think I've gotten enough information," said Z. "Now that I know the layout of the castle, it should be a lot easier for me to do my job. I have to admit, it was rather clever of you to tell them I was some kind of ambassador."
      "Yes, well…just remember that I'm paying you to do this job, so I expect you to do the rest of the work. Otherwise I would simply do it myself."
      "Don't tell me how to do my job," Z said in a threatening tone. "Now, do you want to know how I'm going to do this? Because some of my customers like to be in on the planning."
      "Actually, I would like to plan this with you," replied Kaore.
      "Okay. I already have a plan in my head. You can meet me in one of my safehouses after I leave here."
      "Where is this safehouse?" Kaore asked.
      "I'll tell you that before I leave," Z replied. "And I need to know one more thing: why is that boy here? Who is he?" It surprised Z when he had seen Link with Zelda. And he didn't like surprises. That boy seemed like the meddling type, and Z didn't want him getting in the way.
      "He is just Zelda's friend," replied Kaore. "He shouldn't be a problem. I wouldn't worry about him if I were you."
      "I hope you're right, because I'm not going to take care of him. Unless you pay me extra. I don't do things for free."
      "Just concentrate on your task," said Kaore. "If Link gets in the way, I'll take care of him myself."

      Impa looked at the clock in her room, it was eight already. She had to go wake up Zelda. Impa had already been up for hours, she was never able to sleep past sunrise. Now it was time for her usual morning routine of waking the princess. Actually, it was more of an ordeal. Zelda never liked to wake up in the morning, it was hell trying to get her out of bed. Impa took a deep breath and opened the door to Zelda's bedroom. The bed was empty. Where in the world had Zelda gone? She never got up on her own. If it were up to Zelda, she would never even get out of bed. Maybe she was wandering around somewhere. Zelda was probably with Link, Impa would go check in his room.
      Impa walked to the guest room where Link stayed and opened the door. She saw Zelda, still in her nightgown, sitting in a chair in front of the bed. She only sat there, staring at the still sleeping Link. "What are you doing?" Impa half-whispered, half-yelled.
      "Nothing," said Zelda, innocently. "I'm just watching him sleep. He's so cute." Why is she watching him sleep? Impa thought. Zelda is so obsessed with that boy.
      "How long have you been sitting there?" Impa asked.
      "Oh, I don't know…a little while. Right after sunrise." She must really like him to wake up that early, Impa thought. The end of the world wouldn't wake her up early, but apparently Link had the power to.
      "Zelda, that's almost three hours! You've been sitting there for three hours, just watching him?"
      "He's really interesting when he sleeps," commented Zelda. "Every now and then, he rolls all over the bed and then he lays still for a while. And he snores sometimes, too. Sometimes he mumbles things, but I'm not sure what he's saying. Oh, and watch this." Zelda leaned over and poked Link's side with her index finger. His response was an unconscious groan. Zelda giggled. "You see, he doesn't wake up if you poke him." Impa couldn't understand why Zelda found that entertaining.
      "Well, it's time for him to get up anyway," said Impa. She walked up to the bed and gave Link a hard shaking with her hand. Link's response was to roll over and groan again.
      "He'll never wake up if you do that," said Zelda. "This is how you do it." She leaned over Link's face and pinched his nose shut. A couple seconds later Link abruptly gasped and woke up.
      "What are you doing?" Link shouted, flailing his arms wildly. He was still half-asleep and didn't fully grasp what was going on. His eyes focused and he saw Zelda giggling and Impa glowering at her with her arms folded. "Oh," he mumbled, finally understanding the situation.
      "You have a very interesting way of waking him up," Impa commented.
      "It's the only way that works," Zelda said. Link still sat on the bed, feeling awkward. "Hee hee, your hair looks funny," Zelda giggled, pointing to Link's head. One disadvantage of Link's now long hair was its tendency to go completely out of order through the night. Individual strands as well as clumps of hair pointed in every direction.  Link tried to smooth it down with his hands.
      "Leave him alone for a while," Impa said. "You need to get dressed, young lady. Come on." Impa dragged Zelda out of Link's room and closed the door. Zelda pouted and walked to her room with Impa.
      "Impa," Zelda said with a pleading look. "Please don't tell Link I was watching him sleep. It's…embarrassing." She blushed slightly.
      "Don't worry, I won't tell him," Impa assured her. Zelda then changed into one of the two Kokiri dresses that Link had given her as a present a few months prior. She had already had two Kokiri dresses that she bought at the market, but now she liked the ones Link gave her. They were the only thing she ever wanted to wear. Zelda had always preferred to dress herself, even though the servants were "supposed" to do it. Impa had told Zelda that it was part of being a princess. The servants always did her laundry, until she got the dresses from Link. She insisted on washing them herself. She wouldn't let anyone else even touch the dresses, and she would have a fit if someone did. She also almost never took off the jewelry that Link had given her for her birthday so many months ago.
      When Zelda had finished dressing, she went back to Link's room to see if he was ready. She knocked on the door and entered without waiting for a response. He was sitting in his chair struggling to put his left boot on. I need bigger boots, he thought. Finally his foot squeezed into the tight leather footwear. He gazed at how worn out his Kokiri boots were. He had worn the same pair as long as he could remember; they had a sentimental value. But now he was growing, and they didn't fit well any more. "Are you done now?" asked Zelda, interrupting Link's musings.
      He looked up at her. "Yeah," he responded.
      "Okay, good. It's time for breakfast now," she said, clutching Link's hand once again and leading him to the dining room. It always seemed like Zelda was grabbing his hand and taking him somewhere. Link didn't mind, though. It gave him an excuse to hold her hand. Her hand was so soft and delicate, not calloused from hard labor like Link's. When they entered the small dining room, Link pulled out a chair for Zelda and pushed it in when she sat down. Impa had told him that it was a polite, gentlemanly thing to do, so he gave it a try. "Oh, that's so sweet," Zelda commented. Everything Link did was either "sweet" or "cute" as far as Zelda was concerned. But that didn't bother Link, he liked compliments. Link sat in the chair next to Zelda, waiting for breakfast to arrive.
      "So what are we having?" Link asked hungrily.
      "Eggs and bacon," Zelda replied.
      "That sounds good." Link couldn't wait. This would taste so much better than his usual breakfast of fruit and bread that he had in the Kokiri forest. Not that his normal diet was bad, but Link like a little change every now and then.
      "Are you hungry, Linkie-pooh?" asked Zelda. He nodded. "I would think you'd still be full after everything you ate last night." Link shook his head. "You were so funny. I've never seen anyone eat so much. Are you going stuff yourself silly today, too?"
      "I don't know…maybe," he responded. "I won't know for sure until the food gets here." Aside from the diet, having food served to him was also a new experience. He and Saria always took turns preparing meals; they did an equal amount of work. But Link enjoyed being pampered like this, it appealed to his inner lazy side. Link's face brightened and he licked his lips as a kitchen servants entered carrying a tray. She placed plates full of scrambled eggs and strips of bacon in front of Link and Zelda. The servant then gave them each a small loaf of bread.
      "Would you like some tea, sir?" asked the servant, holding a silver teapot.
      "Um, okay," Link answered, too focused on the food in front of him. She poured the tea into an elaborately decorated teacup and placed it in front of Link. The servant bowed and left the dining room. Link paused his food shoveling to examine the beverage he'd been given. He had never had tea before. "So what is this?" Link whispered to Zelda, sniffing the steamy drink.
      "It's black tea," Zelda answered. "It's real yucky and I don't like it. But you can go ahead and try it." Link sipped it and quickly put the cup back down.
      "It's hot!" He said, trying to air out his burned tongue.
      "Of course it hot, it supposed to be."
      "Oh," he responded. He started blowing on the tea, trying to cool it down. He decided to wait a few minutes and put the cup down. Then Link continued to devour his breakfast. Zelda smiled and ate her breakfast at the normal, slower pace.
      "Are you going to take any time to breathe?" Zelda giggled.
      "M fnn," he mumbled, his mouth full. Zelda shot him a confused glace and he swallowed his food. "I said, 'I'm fine.'" He finished off every last remnant of food on his plate and stared at Zelda's. She had some eggs left along with a few strips of bacon. "Are you going to eat that?" he asked sheepishly.
      "No, you can have it," she replied, pushing the plate to him. Link smiled and quickly devoured Zelda's leftovers. When he was done, he sat back in contentment. "Are you going to drink your tea? I don't like it myself, but you might."
      "Okay," he said. Picking up the cup again. He carefully sipped the tea; it had cooled down and it didn't burn him. "This isn't bad." Link quickly gulped the entire contents of the teacup. "That was good, is there more?" he asked. Zelda pointed to the silver teapot, and Link leaned over and brought it over to him. He poured himself another cup and quickly drained that one.
      "Wow! You really like that stuff," Zelda commented. She couldn't understand how Link could like that tea, she thought it was repulsive. He poured a third cup and began to drink that one. "Slow down! You shouldn't drink it that fast, you'll choke." Link tried to retort, but he ended up coughing and hacking. "See," she said smugly. After he stopped coughing, he finished his third cup. This tea was good. And Link wanted more. It was almost…addicting. He emptied the teapot into his cup which, to his dismay, filled it only halfway. Oh well, three and a half cups would do.
      "Well what do we do now?" Link said in a quick, almost nervous voice.
      "Umm…we could go outside. It looks like a nice day."
      "Oh, that sounds great!" Link said, jumping out of his chair and grabbing Zelda's arm. "Come on let's go," he said, running to the doorway. He felt so energetic now, that tea was some kind of miracle elixir. Link ran through the corridors of the castle towards the entrance, and Zelda had to jog to keep up with his pace. He ran into the field in front of the castle and sat down on the ground. Zelda came and sat next to him a moment later, huffing and out of breath.
      "What's the matter you tired?" he asked.
      "I'm okay, I just need to catch my breath," replied Zelda.
      "Oh, your fine! Come on let's do something." Link was jumping up and down like a hyperactive two-year-old. He'd never had caffeine or any other stimulant before, so he was totally wired. "You know that was really good tea and I think I'll have some more later because it's really cool and really speeds you up," Link jabbered as if the whole sentence were one word.
      "Um…are you okay?" Zelda asked, concerned about Link. He had never acted this hyper before, he was usually calm and rational.
      "Ok come on I'm fine let's go run around do you want to run around?" Link started running laps around Zelda, making her dizzy.
      "Calm down!" she yelled, grasping Link's ankle, causing him to fall to the ground. Link stared at Zelda with a fanatical smile, he was definitely over-stimulated.
      "What's wrong? I don't need to calm down I'm fine," he rambled.
      "I think you need to lie down, you had too much of that tea." Link plopped down on the ground and pouted. He folded his arms and gave Zelda a pleading look.
      "Oh, you're such a party-pooper," he moped. "I just need to do something or I'll go crazy."
      "Fine," Zelda said, rolling her eyes. She pointed to the stone wall at the other end of the yard. "Go run over there and back," she suggested. Link nodded his assent and quickly started running towards the stone wall. Maybe this would calm Link down. With almost unnatural speed, Link sprinted to the stone wall and back to Zelda.
      "Okay what next?" he asked. Zelda groaned and laid on her back. Link sat next to her and gave an innocent smile.
      "Your hands are shaking," Zelda pointed out. Link looked at his trembling hands. All of a sudden, he didn't feel very well. He keeled over and moaned.
      "I don't feel good," he complained, holding his stomach and grimacing. "I think I'm gonna be sick." His face took on a grotesquely pale color.
      "Maybe you should go back inside." Zelda helped him stand up and slowly walked him into the castle. Link felt terribly nauseous and felt like vomiting. She helped him into the bedroom and laid him on the bed.
      "Uhhh…I'm thirsty," he grumbled. Zelda quickly fetched him a glass of water which he drank in one long gulp. He groaned again. His hands still trembled, and he felt exhausted and wired at the same time. He was having a caffeine overdose from the pot of tea he drank. "I shouldn't have drunk that tea," he said, groaning again. "I'll never drink that again."
      "I'm sorry, I didn't know it would do that to you. I guess I never had enough to know that it would do that."
      "Don't apologize," Link said. "I just need to lay down for a while. I'll be fine in a little…" his face contorted and he covered his mouth. "Where's the toilet?" he asked urgently.
      "Down the hall, third door on the left," Zelda answered, pointing to the hallway. Link quickly bolted out of the room and down the hallway. Zelda heard retching noises coming from the bathroom. The feeling of Link being sick was starting to make Zelda sick. She walked down the hall to the bathroom and knocked on the door. "Are you all right?" she asked.
      Link responded with yet another groan. "I'm fine," he managed to say, followed by another bout of retching and vomiting. After another minute, Link finally stopped gagging. He came out of the bathroom and saw Zelda waiting outside. Even though he had a sickly expression on his face, he managed to force a weak smile.
      "Do you feel better?" asked Zelda, leading Link back to his bedroom.
      "Unh," he moaned. "I'll be better in a little while. I just need to take a nap." He lay down on his bed and tried to relax. His hands and arms were still shaking from the caffeine overdose. He felt like he would be awake for the rest of his life. Link was exhausted, but he was still artificially awake. This really sucked.
      "Just try to calm down and rest," Zelda said in a gentle voice.
      "I'm sorry I ruined our day," Link apologized. "After I take a nap we can do something. It's still early."
      "Don't worry, Linkie-pooh. You didn't ruin our day. I just want you to feel better. You try to sleep, I'll come back later." Zelda kissed his forehead and left Link's room. She would return later, after he had time to rest.

      Today was the day Ambassador Zimm was to leave the castle. He had arrived early yesterday morning, and now it was the mid-afternoon of the following day. Diplomatic visits usually lasted for a week or more, but this one was different. It wasn't an official visit, it was more like a prelude to an official visit. Zimm told the king that his meeting to open relations had gone well. Sukinta's head of state would come to Hyrule later in the year to officially open relations; or so the king of Hyrule thought. Ambassador Zimm now prepared to return to his home. He had to give his farewells to the king of Hyrule.
      "On behalf of my country," Zimm said with a bow, "I thank you for your hospitality and openness. Expect more delegations in the coming months. We'll be sending people to get more in depth information on your economy, culture, the standard stuff. But I'm sure our king will agree to open diplomatic relations with Hyrule. He'll want to come to Hyrule himself, to do things officially. I'll send word to you when he makes a decision."
      "I can't wait," said the king.
      "Before I leave, I need to have a talk with your foreign relations minister, to arrange some things. Is he around?" asked Zimm, pretending to be curious. Duke Kaore was the Minister of Foreign Relations, and Zimm knew exactly where he was.
      "Oh, his office is in the administrative wing of the castle. It's just down that hallway," the king answered, pointing to a hallway to his left. "It's the second door on the right, it says 'Foreign Minister' on it."
      "Thank you," said Z, heading for Kaore's office.

      Link had tried to take a nap, but to no avail. After a few hours of staring at the ceiling, Link decided to get up. He felt a lot better now; his hands weren't shaking anymore and he didn't feel sick. He felt more awake now, like he had gotten a good night's sleep. He decided to go find Zelda and see if they could do something. Zelda saw Link enter her room and her face brightened immediately. "Oh Link! Are you feeling better now?" she ran up to him.
      "Yeah, I actually feel a lot better now," he replied. "I think I just needed some time for that tea to work its way through me. What do you want to do now?"
      "Hmmm…" Zelda thought. "Maybe we could just walk around the castle. You've never seen the whole thing." She leaned over and whispered into his ear, "We could sneak around where we're not supposed to go."
      Link thought about it. Zelda always wanted to get into trouble. Link realized that he didn't need to worry about getting in trouble when he was with Zelda, she was the princess. She could do whatever she wanted. "Okay, why not?" agreed Link.
      "Oh goody!" she replied. "Follow me, I can show you parts of the castle that you're not allowed to see." Link thought this would be fun, he liked exploring. Zelda quietly took him downstairs and she walked him into the western wing of the castle. This held many of the various government offices and administrative offices. It also held the high point of Zelda's tour: the dungeon.
      "You're gonna love this," Zelda said as they reached an old door at the end of the administrative wing. She opened the door to reveal a large library. They walked into the room and Link gazed at the thousands of books on the shelves.
      "What's so interesting about this?" Link asked. "I've seen books before." He had no idea why he should be fascinated by the library. It wasn't very interesting.
      "You haven't seen the cool part yet," Zelda said. She walked over to a bookcase on the far end of the room. "I found out about this when I was exploring in here on time." She stuck her hand into a space between two bookcases and fiddled around. Link heard a click and Zelda swung the bookcase outward like a door. Behind the bookcase was a rusted steel door.
      "Oh neat!" Link exclaimed. "Is this some kind of secret passageway?"
      "Better," she commented. She opened the steel door and it opened to reveal a dark stairway.
      "What's down there?" Link asked, peering into the blackness.
      "It's the dungeon," Zelda answered. "It's really old and they must've boarded it up when they put all these books in here. Almost no one even knows it's here, it's my little secret. They don't put people in there anymore, so it's empty. We can explore it together now, I was always afraid to go down there myself. Come on, let's go." She grabbed a lantern from the wall and they both walked down the stairs. The dungeon was dank, and humid. Strings of cobwebs hung from the ceiling.
      "Wow! This place is awesome!" exclaimed Link, his voice echoing in down the row of cells. "When was the last time anyone was down here?"
      "I don't know," Zelda answered. "But I think it's been quite a while." Link walked up to one of the prisoner cells. The bars were rusted and corroded, and the door was half-open. Link walked into the cell and looked around. This was really cramped, there was no light and almost no ventilation. The cell was terribly cramped, too.
      "Ooh, what's that?" Zelda said pointing to the corner of the cell. Link walked over and peered in the corner. There was some kind of stiff, furry mass there. It was a dead rat. And by the looks of it, it had been dead for a long time. Link poked at it.
      "Yuck," he commented. Zelda picked up the rat by the tail and dangled it in front of his face.
      "You know it would be funny if we put this in Impa's bed or something," said Zelda. They both thought of the endless mischief they could cause with a dead rat.
      "No, that would be too mean. We should just leave it here," Link suggested. Zelda dropped the rat back onto the ground. "You know, any other girl would be freaked if they saw a rat. Saria goes crazy when she sees a spider, she'd probably faint if she saw a rat." Link liked how Zelda was never afraid to do things. She was so unlike some of the other prissy girls he'd known. She was like him, and he loved that.
      "I never understood why other girls are afraid of those kinds of things," said Zelda, shrugging her shoulders. "I guess they're just wimps. Well, what do you want to do now? You've seen the dungeon."
      "Um…let's go back upstairs," Link suggested. "We can go outside or something." Zelda agreed and they walked back up the stairs. Link and Zelda quickly closed the door and moved the bookshelf back into place. When they came to the door of the library, they saw two people enter the hallway. They ducked back into the library, only poking their heads out.
      "Who are they?" Link whispered. Zelda caught a glance of the two men's faces as they walked into the Foreign Minister's office and closed the door.
      "I think that's the guy that was visiting here last night," Zelda said. "Remember the foreign man my daddy was talking to when we were getting the food last night?" Link nodded, remembering him. "The other man is Duke Kaore, he's one of the government people. He's the one that yells at all those people from other countries. Come on, let's go before someone sees us." They tiptoed through the hallway, trying not to draw attention.
      Zelda and Link stopped in front of Kaore's door, and heard talking coming from within. "I wonder what they're saying?" Zelda whispered. "Let's listen," she said, putting her ear against the door.
      "Are you sure we should be doing this?" Link whispered. Eavesdropping was a lot worse than just roaming the castle. They could get in a lot of trouble if they got caught.
      "Shh! I wanna hear what they're saying." Link decided not to argue, and he put his ear to the door also. He strained to hear parts of the conversation. It was hard to make them out, but he picked up a few sentences.
      "…going to the place in Kuato," said one voice. "It'll be safe and no one…what we'll do."
      "…sure no one will find out…" said the other voice.
      "Don't worry," said the first voice. "The plan is fool-proof…discuss the rest of it later. I need to go." Link and Zelda heard footsteps approach the door and they quickly tried to get up and run away. The door opened and a stunned Duke Kaore looked down to see Link and Zelda crouched on the floor. The children gave innocent smiles.
      "Um…hello Mister Kaore," said Zelda in a surprised voice. Kaore stiffened and looked at her.
      "Good afternoon, Your Highness," Kaore said. "Are you lost?" he said sardonically.
      "Um, no," she replied. "Link was just helping me find my pet frog…that got loose. He hopped over here somewhere. Right Link?" She jabbed him with her elbow and he smiled.
      "Oh, yeah," he mumbled. "Right, we're looking for the frog." Link and Zelda tried to look like they were innocent. Zelda glanced at the "Ambassador" who was staring at her. The look in that man's eyes gave her chills. She shrugged off the feeling and continued acting guiltless.
      "Why don't you two run along?" Kaore suggested. "We've got work to do." Link and Zelda nodded and quickly ran down the hallway and towards the main entrance. They went outside and sat down in the shade of a tree. Zelda looked to make sure no one was around.
      "That was close," Link said, his heart beating like a jackhammer. "I thought we would be in big trouble."
      "I told you nothing would happen," Zelda said. She hadn't been worried that much. "Remember, I'm the princess. I can't get in trouble with anyone else but my dad…and Impa. He couldn't have done anything, they're not even allowed to yell at me."
      "You mean you can do anything you want and not get in trouble?" Link asked.
      "I can't get in trouble by everyone else. But they tell Impa and then she lectures me for about three hours. So I still get in trouble, but just by Impa or daddy."
      "Oh," Link mumbled. "Did you see how that one guy looked at you? It was kind of scary."
      Zelda remembered the look that Zimm had given her. "I know, that was kind of scary. He sort of reminded me of Ganondorf." They turned their heads to see a small group of people exit the castle. It was Zimm and his entourage. Some mounted horses, while Zimm sat inside an elaborately decorated carriage.
      "Speak of the devil," Link said. "There he is. It looks like he's leaving." The group of people and horses began to move. They went down the path and through the gates, and they were gone. Zelda felt relieved.
      "That's good, he's gone," Zelda said. "I'm sure there was nothing wrong about him. Besides, he's not coming back."

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