The Rules of Succession

By Kasuto of Kataan

Chapter Three

      Ambassador Zimm had finally returned to his home. Actually, it was a safehouse in the abandoned town of Kuato, only a few miles southwest of the castle. It used to be a thriving town until about ten years ago. People had gotten the idea that evil spirits were invading the town. The townspeople just deserted the town and never came back. Everyone in Hyrule knew that Kuato was haunted, and no one dared go there.
      Now Zimm could finally return to his normal persona of  "Z" . After he had gotten far enough away from the castle, he paid his assistants and dismissed them. He had hired some lackeys that lived in his real hometown. They knew what Z did for a living, and often provided him with supplies and services. Z's request for them was unusual, but the did it without asking questions. Z paid them a lot of money for this. They all went their separate ways, happy with their money. Z and Kaore agreed to meet at the safehouse later in the day. Kaore was supposed to leave the castle an hour after Z did. Kaore should arrive any minute.
      Z sat down in a chair behind a desk. This building was very different than his actual home. The safehouse used to be a blacksmith or swordsmith's shop. It was one of the only buildings that wasn't completely dilapidated. There was an old blast furnace in one end of the shop that Z used as a fireplace. This place was sparsely furnished, a couple chairs, a table, and a bed. Various tools and other devices were strewn about the room. He poured himself a glass of brandy and waited for Kaore.
      After a few minutes, Z heard a trotting horse approach his building. The horse stopped and Kaore entered a moment later. "I have to admit, you're a good actor," said Kaore as he sat in the chair in front of Z.
      "It's one of my many talents," Z replied.
      "Well, I trust you're ready to do the job tonight. Have you planned everything?"
      "Yes, I have," replied Z. After he had seen the castle, he came up with a quick idea of what he was going to do. He didn't need any special equipment, just his usual tools. All Z had to do was fine-tune his plan. "The guards at the castle seem to be fairly incompetent, so breaking into the castle shouldn't be difficult. Just in case, I have some chloroform and a cloth. If I see any guards that might get in the way, I'll put them out. Then I'll simply kidnap the girl and bring her back here. As for killing her, is there any specific method you had in mind?"
      "I really don't care," Kaore replied. "I just want her dead, and I don't want there to be a body. I don't care what you do to her, as long as it has the same result." Z smiled sadistically. One of his pleasures was torturing people. He would enjoy seeing this girl in agony. Z could hone his torturing skills. He enjoyed his line of work. He could do what he loved and still get paid for it.
      "One more thing," Z said. "Zelda and Link were by your door this morning. What if they heard our conversation? I don't want this plan to be botched. If you want I can postpone this a while."
      "No, I want this done tonight. Just forget about this morning. I'm sure they didn't hear anything. Besides, no one would believe those children even if they knew what our plan was. But just in case, I'll take care of Link. I'll kidnap him an hour before your arrival and you just take care of the princess. The boy won't get in your way, I'll kill him myself."

      By the end of the day Link and Zelda had mostly forgotten about the look Z had given Zelda earlier in the day. They spent most of their time sitting in the field and talking. Now it was starting to get dark, and they were watching the sunset together. "Link, what are you thinking?" Zelda asked. She gazed into Link's eyes. She knew that it bugged him when she asked that question.
      "Huh? Nothing," Link replied. Then he turned to look at her with a quizzical expression. "Why do girls always ask that question? Saria always asks me that and when I say 'nothing' she gets mad. What do you want from us?" Link never could understand the why girls acted the way they did. Being close friends with Saria and Zelda gave Link a special insight into the female mind, but there were still things about them that he couldn't begin to comprehend.
      "I just want to know what goes on inside your head," said Zelda, tapping Link's head with her index finger. "Don't you wanna know what I'm thinking?"
      "Um…not really." Link didn't really care what Zelda was thinking, he didn't know why girls had such an obsession with that kind of thing. There were some things Link didn't want to know. The female mind was a scary place, and Link didn't want to know what went on there. It was something that males weren't meant to understand. "I just don't like it when people interrogate me. Especially when girls ask question with no right answer."
      "Oh, so it annoys you when girls ask you questions like that?" Zelda said tauntingly. She stood up with her back to him and waved her hips. "Does this make my butt look big?" she teased. Link tried not to blush. "Oh, how 'bout this: which dress do you like better, the blue one or the pink one? Do I look fat in this?" Link was clearly flustered. She loved annoying Link just to get a rise out of him. She sat back down and smiled at him. She didn't want to make him mad.
      "That's what I'm talking about," Link pointed out.
      "Oh well, I'll try not to ask you any more questions. Isn't that a pretty sunset?" she smiled. Link playfully pushed her and she wrapped her arm around him. They watched as the glowing orange orb of the Sun sank below the horizon. It was a beautiful sight. Now only the twilight and the full moon illuminated the sky.
      "Isn't it about time for dinner?" Link said.
      "There you go with your stomach again," said Zelda, rolling her eyes. "But you're right, it is time for dinner. And I'm hungry. I bet I can beat you there." Link stood up and prepared to run.
      "Okay, on the count of three," Link said. "One, two…" Zelda bolted for the entrance. Link saw her run and he chased after her. "That's not fair!" he yelled. "You got a head start!"
      "You snooze, you lose," she yelled back at him. Link chased Zelda across the yard and into the castle. Some of the guards tried to tell them to stop running, but to no avail. As they approached the dining room, Link caught up with Zelda. With a burst of speed he passed her and stopped at the doorway to the dining room.
      "Hah-Hah, I beat you!" he teased. "Cheater." Zelda sat down in her chair and tried to catch her breath.
      "I could've beaten you if I wanted to," she said. "I let you win," she insisted.
      "Yeah, sure," Link said sarcastically. "So, what's for dinner?" he asked, grabbing his fork expectantly.
      "I think they're making roast duck today," replied Zelda. Link's eyes opened wide.
      "Duck? As in 'quack-quack' duck?" Zelda nodded. Link had never eaten a duck before. What if it tasted strange? The royal family sure ate a lot of weird things.
      "Oh don't give me that look," said Zelda. "You'll like it. Besides, what do you care? You'll eat anything." She was right, Link was willing to try anything once. "Oh, here comes the food now," she said as the servants entered with their meals. Link looked at the plate that was placed in front of him. On the plate were mashed potatoes, the roasted duck, and some pretty-looking garnish and decorative things. The duck looked just like a roasted chicken. Zelda started eating her food while Link stared at it.
      "Go on, eat it," she urged. Link carefully cut some of the breast meat and ate a piece. It tasted really good. It wasn't as bad as he thought it would be. He really loved whatever spices the cook put on it.
      "It tastes like chicken," Link said, happily devouring his food.
      "You think everything tastes like chicken," Zelda commented.
      "Everything does." Zelda rolled her eyes. "You know, worms taste like chicken, too," said Link, trying to gross out Zelda while she was eating. Zelda just brushed off his comment. "If I had told Saria that, she would've gotten sick."
      Zelda shrugged her shoulders. "Oh well, that doesn't bother me," Zelda said. "Besides, I've eaten worms before. And they do taste like chicken." Link didn't bother trying to gross out Zelda again, that kind of thing just didn't bother her. He decided to concentrate on his food. Link systematically ate the roasted duck, piece by piece. After a few minutes he had completely stripped the bones. He looked over a Zelda who was finished, but some meat still remained on the duck. He smiled at her. "Go ahead," said Zelda, handing her plate to Link. He quickly ate Zelda's leftovers and finished his potatoes.
      "Happy now?" Zelda asked. Link nodded. "Impa was right when she said the way to a man's heart is through his stomach."
      "What's that supposed to mean?" Link asked defensively.
      "Nothing," Zelda replied innocently. "All I have to do is give you food and you're happy." Now Link rolled his eyes. He knew Zelda was right.
      "It's true, but you shouldn't take advantage of it," Link said. "You know I like you because of who you are, not because of the things you give me."
      "I know. I just like to make you happy," said Zelda. She knew that Link would like her no matter what. Zelda liked giving him things because it pleased her to see Link happy.
      "I'm kind of tired now," said Link, yawning.
      "I am too," Zelda said.
      "You're right, it's bedtime," said Impa, standing in the doorway. When did she get there? Impa seemed to appear at the most unusual moments. Link mused that it must be some kind of Sheikah thing. Link and Zelda both left the table and prepared to go to bed. Zelda kissed Link on the cheek before she closed the door to her bedroom. Link smiled to himself and went to his room.

      Kaore looked at the clock on his wall. It was one in the morning. Z would be here in about an hour. Kaore needed to take care of Link now. He quietly walked through the dark castle. It wasn't abnormal for him to be up at this hour, so his presence wouldn't arouse suspicion. Everyone else was asleep, it was the perfect time for him to do his job. He walked to the other side of the castle and to the second floor. He was in the hallway with Link and Zelda's bedrooms. Link's room was a few doors down. Kaore walked to the door and stopped. He heard an noise coming from the other side. Kaore quickly ducked behind a corner just as Link opened his door.
      Link slowly walked into the hallway. He was tired but he managed to get out of bed; he had to pee really bad. Link slowly walked down the hallway and to the bathroom. Link closed the door and went about his business. Kaore crept to the bathroom door and hid in the shadows, waiting for Link. Kaore removed a handkerchief and a small vial from his pocket. He opened the vial and poured some chemical onto the handkerchief.
      Link opened the bathroom door and continued back to his room. He felt much better now. Link thought he heard footsteps behind him, but before he could turn around, someone grabbed him. Link felt somebody put a cloth to his face. For a few futile moments, Link tried to struggle. Then he felt his limbs become heavy and everything went black as he fell unconscious. Kaore picked up Link and carried him away.

      Link woke up in a dark room. His head hurt and his vision was blurred. He tried to get up, but he couldn't move. Link realized that he was tied up. His legs were tied together and his arms were tied behind his back. To top it off, his whole body was wrapped in rope like a mummy. He tried to squirm, but couldn't even move. He looked around and tried to figure out where he was. The room he was in was very dimly lit by the full moon. He looked up and saw the moon shining through window bars near the ceiling. He was in the abandoned dungeon. The same one that he and Zelda had explored earlier. Why was he in here?
      Link saw a flickering orange light in through the cell bars in the hallway. He heard footsteps approaching. Maybe this person was responsible. The man stared at Link and opened the rusted cell door. He hung the lantern on the wall and stood in the corner. Link saw that it was the man he'd seen earlier. What did Zelda say his name was? Kaore?
      "I would've left you alone, but I feared you would get in the way," Kaore said.
      "What do you want? Why did you tie me up?" Link asked. He thought of screaming for help, but he didn't. The look he saw on that man's face told him that if he did, he would be dead. Kaore's expression reminded Link of Ganondorf, so evil and wicked.
      "Don't bother yelling for help, no one can hear you," Kaore said. "This dungeon has been abandoned for years, and a lot of people don't even know it's here. To answer your question: I took you here because you're a hindrance to my plan."
      "What plan?" Link asked. There was something ominous about the way Kaore had said that.
      "Trying to get the bad guy to reveal his evil plan, huh?" Kaore gave a sinister chuckle. "It doesn't matter if you know, you'll never be able to get help. I guess I should tell you. You might want to know why I did this before I kill you. I couldn't let you die without knowing what the reason was. It's simple, really. I need to get rid of a member of the royal family, who stands in the way of my plans. This person should be taken away any minute now."
      "Who? Who's being taken away? The king? Are you kidnapping the king? There's no point in doing that."
      "No, I'm not kidnapping the king. It's the princess, Zelda. And I hired someone to do it, I can't be the one to do it myself, that would be too suspicious."
      "You're having Zelda kidnapped? Why? You want money, don't you? You're gonna try to get a ransom."
      Kaore chuckled. "You are naïve little boy aren't you?" Link looked confused. "I've got more money than I'll ever need. And I'm not having Zelda kidnapped…I'm having her killed." Infuriated, Link struggled to get loose, but he only fell onto his side.
      "How dare you!" Link yelled. "If she gets even a scratch on her I'll kill you!"
      "It's too late, she's gone already."
      Link had to think rationally. He couldn't let his anger blind him. Zelda wasn't dead now, he could feel it. He had to try and see if he could get more information, and possibly escape. He had to be calm. "Why are you doing this?" Link asked, his fury showing on his face.
      "Because. That stupid girl is the only one in the way of my rise to power. If she's dead, I'll become king."
      "What? But the king is still alive! You won't become king if Zelda dies. Are you going to kill the king too?"
      "No I'm not going to kill the king," replied Kaore with a cackle. "Since you're too dumb to understand, I'll explain it to you. When the king dies or abdicates, Zelda will become the queen. But, if she is dead, then there will be no heir to claim the throne. That's when I become king."
      "What do you mean? The king can name any heir he wants to. Why would he name you?"
      "You have no idea how the world works. The king is not an absolute ruler, he has to follow certain laws. My future as king is secured by the Rules of Succession. In the event of a monarch's death or abdication, his oldest son will ascend to the throne. If there are no sons, then the oldest daughter will become queen. But, if he has no children, his closest living relative gets the throne. That's the good part: he has no living relatives. Zelda is the only person he has. There are special rules for this. If there are no relatives to claim the crown, the next person in the line of succession is the Minister of Foreign affairs. That's me."
      "That's the stupidest idea I've ever heard," Link said. "The king could just get remarried and have another child."
      Kaore cackled again. This boy had no grasp on reality. "You obviously don't know the king. When his wife died, he was devastated. He could never remarry because he loved his wife so much. The only thing that has kept him alive all these years is his daughter, Zelda. If Zelda died, the king would lose all will to live. I wouldn't need to kill him. He would simply die of grief. He wouldn't have any motivation to give the throne to anyone else. Zelda is the only reason he's alive.
      "And you. I have plans for you. I can tell that you too love Zelda a lot. In fact, you love Zelda so much, that when you find out she's dead, you can't go on living either. Out of grief, you commit suicide. Now do you understand?"
      Link glared at Kaore. He wouldn't let this man hurt Zelda. Link would do everything he could to save Zelda, he would die for her. "You're not going to get away with this!" Link yelled, squirming again. Kaore rolled his eyes and took a large piece of cloth from his pocket.
      "I'm sick of hearing your voice," Kaore said. He rolled up the cloth and stuffed some of it into Link's mouth. Link could do nothing to resist, he could barely move his head. Kaore stuffed the gag into Link's mouth and tied it tightly around his head. Link winced as Kaore tightened it. It really hurt. Link fidgeted and mumbled through the gag. "That's better. Unfortunately, you're going to be staying here for a while. I have some work to do right now. Mainly, making your suicide note, stuff like that. Don't worry, no one will find you here. I'll be back in a few hours so you can…commit suicide." Kaore gave a sinister smile and walked out of the cell. Link gave a muffled scream. Kaore took the lamp and locked the cell door. The lock was rusted and weak, but he didn't worry. Link would never be able to get out of the ropes.
      Link saw the lamp's light fade, and the footsteps grew quieter. Kaore was gone. Now Link was alone in this dark cell. He had to think of a way to get out of here.

      Z, dressed completely in black, sat on his horse and gazed at the exterior of the castle village walls. The drawbridge was down, but that would cause no problems. He steered his horse to a tree and dismounted. He then tied the horse to the tree, which wasn't unusual. People did it all the time, sometimes leaving their horses out overnight. Z approached the wall and tried to gauge the appropriate distance. He removed a long rope and grappling hook from his backpack and tossed it into the air. The hook flew over the wall and landed with a clang. He tugged at it to make sure it was secure. When he was satisfied, Z climbed up and over the wall to land on the roof of a building. This particular building housed the bridge's chain mechanism, and also acted as a kind of look out tower. Stairs were conveniently carved into a side of the stone building. He descended the stairs and quickly made his way through the castle market.
      Z was finally at the castle. Getting past the guards by the gate outside was a cinch, a child could break into the castle. He was in now. Z knew exactly where Zelda's bedroom was. He had gone over the plan in his head a thousand times, he knew exactly what to do.
      Z entered the castle's foyer. The place was dark and empty. The lack of internal security made Z's job a lot easier. He almost pitied the overconfidence of the people here. They apparently never thought anyone could actually break into the castle. He crept silently through the foyer and took a right into a stairwell. Z climbed the stairs and peeked into the hallway; no one was here. Zelda's room was just down the hallway and there wasn't even a guard in front of it, such idiots. He wouldn't have to worry about Link, Kaore should've taken care of him by now. He walked up to the first door and placed his ear against it; he heard nothing. He removed a small mirror attached to a thin rod and slid it under the door. He scanned the room with the tiny mirror and saw no one there. Good, he had to make sure no one would catch him. He repeated the process with each door, finding only a sleeping Impa. Excellent, he thought.
      Z walked to Zelda's door and slowly opened it. She was in her bed, sleeping peacefully. Z walked up to her bed and looked at her. This was the target. This was the girl he was being paid two million rupees to assassinate. He would also be able to torture her to death. He could definitely practice some new methods on her. Z pulled a cloth and a bottle out of his pocket. He poured the chloroform onto the cloth and covered Zelda's nose and mouth. She opened her eyes and tried to scream. She struggled and fidgeted, but to no avail. She passed out within seconds. Z picked up Zelda's unconscious body and hefted it over his shoulders. He silently exited her room and closed the door. With cat-like stealth, he walked down the stairs, through the foyer, and out of the castle.
      The single sentry at the front gate was sound asleep. Z smiled, this was too easy. He made sure that no one had seen or heard him. He quietly evaded the guards and walked to the castle's gate. He wouldn't be able to climb that hill and get out, not while carrying Zelda. He placed Zelda on the ground and approached the unsuspecting guard. He was pacing back and forth on the inside of the gate, not paying attention to anything. Z poured more chloroform onto his rag and tiptoed towards the guard, whose back was facing Z. With one fluid motion, Z wrapped his arm around the guard's neck and mashed the cloth into his face. The guard went out cold without making a sound.
      Z opened the gate, picked up Zelda, and carried her through the sleeping village. He climbed up the building that he'd originally entered over and looked over the wall. His horse was standing right where he left it. Z clipped a metal ring attached to his belt onto the rope. Holding Zelda over one shoulder and holding the rope with the other hand, he swiftly rappelled down the wall. Now he had to ride his horse back to Kuato. Carrying Zelda's limp, unconscious body was going to make riding difficult. He mounted his horse and placed Zelda in front of him on the saddle as if she were riding. He wrapped one arm around Zelda's body to hold her still, and used the other hand to control the horse's reins. Z held onto Zelda tightly as the horse galloped towards his safehouse in Kuato.
      When Zelda woke up, she was groggy. She felt someone's arms wrapped around her. She opened her eyes and realized that someone was carrying her. Z was carrying her off a horse and into some building. Zelda began to squirm around wildly, trying to get out of the man's grip. "Let go of me!" she screamed. She kicked and wriggled.
      "You are a feisty one," said Z. They were in the safehouse, and he was still holding her tight. Zelda started to scream at the top of her lungs. "Shut up!" screamed Z, as he placed his hand over her mouth. Zelda stopped screaming and bit down as hard as she could. Her teeth sunk into Z's hand and she could feel the blood. Z yelped and instinctively let go of Zelda to examine his hand. When he let go, Zelda bolted for the door so she could escape. As she fidgeted with the locks, Z ran over and grabbed the back of her nightgown. Zelda was caught again. Z spun her around.
      "You insolent bitch!" he yelled, striking her with his fist across her left cheek as hard as he could. The impact knocked Zelda onto the ground. The pain in her jaw was enormous. She tasted blood in her mouth; this time it was her own blood. She spit a mouthful of blood onto the floor. It hurt so much. She saw Z looming over her; there was nothing she could do. Z lifted his hand and chopped her on the back of the neck with the blade of his palm. She was unconscious immediately.

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