Her eyes burned in the torchlight as she dodged his spear, her movements precise and catlike. Through her red hair, she regarded him coolly. Her lips formed a small, confident smile. Once again, he tried to charge her, and with the same results. She dodged out of the way of the spear's sharp point, and managed to grab it by the shaft. Before he could react, she pulled it out of his grip. Spinning it around, she held it out, its cold point touching his skin.
"Looks like I win again, Istas," she said, smirking. He smiled slightly. "All right, Mira." Mira lowered the spear as a booming voice called out, "Enough for today, trainees! What I've seen is pitiful enough. If this was a real battle, most of you would not be able to defend yourselves. When I was your age....." Hagen, the captain of the guards and instructor for the trainees, began to launch into another of his descriptions, infamous for their length. Mira rolled her eyes, taking her attention from the large figure at the front of the dirt chamber. "Here we go again. Din's sake, he keeps us here for an extra twenty minutes with one of his ridiculous fabrications." The trainees who stood within hearing distance snickered. Istas suppressed a smile as he noticed Hagen's eyes dart in their vicinity.
"Mira! Is there something you'd like to say to the rest of us and not just to Istas?" Hagen snapped, his face beginning to go red. Mira eyed him nonchalantly. "No, Hagen," she said flippantly. Her tone of voice only made his face an even darker shade of crimson. The other trainees waited expectantly. This was an everyday occurance. Istas knew what was coming just as well as Mira herself did.
"All right, young lady! You'll stay after everyone else leaves. Maybe this lecture will get through your thick skull!" Hagen hollered. Still livid, he addressed the other trainees. "Get out, all of you! Istas, you have guard duty until after sunset! Mira will join you when she's through speaking to me!" After the captain of the guards dismissed them, the trainees scattered themselves throughout the rest of the underground village. Istas hung behind them, instead choosing to wait at the entranceway for Mira. Everyday, Mira was made to stay in the training chambers to speak with Hagen about her actions. This had been going on ever since they had been old enough to be trainees, a few years ago. She never was far from trouble, especially in Hagen's training chambers. With a sardonic attitude, remarks for everything, and the courage to always speak the truth, Mira was one of the most argumentative people Istas knew. They had been friends for as long as either of them could remember. Their fathers, who had been friends themselves, had both disappeared many years ago trying to defend the village. Istas, who never had a mother he could remember, was treated like a son by Mira's mother after his father disappeared. Although small at the time, Mira was still a crass young child, a handful for her mother to raise. After all these years, she still hasn't changed, Istas thought with a chuckle. From inside the chamber, Hagen's angry voice rose and fell with threats and promises of punishment. Istas glanced around the corner to see Mira standing before a raging Hagen, her arms crossed and the fire of defiant anger burning in her eyes.
After a few more minutes of threats, Hagen allowed Mira to go. She walked out with a rebellious air about her. As she started toward her room, without saying a word to Istas, he said, "Get your armor on, Mira. We have guard duty again." Mira muttered an oath in Sheikah, then replied in Hylian, "I know. Hagen said I'm 'irresponsible'. What a moron...." Istas headed off to his own room, leaving Mira to grumble and curse as she walked back to where she and her mother lived. Reaching his room, he slipped his armor on over his clothes and took up his spear from a corner.
Coming out, he saw that Mira already had her armor on and was heading up the sloping tunnel that led to the outside world. Walking quickly, he managed to catch up to her. The sun was just beginning to set as they came out, turning the sky a multitude of purple, pink, and yellow colors. The sun itself was a large fireball of gold and orange. The first of the crickets were already singing their nightly songs, and the last of the birds flew in flocks across the bright expanse, freckling it with their blackness. It was starting to get cooler out as well.
Istas sighed with impatience. He was going to see Anna that night, and the time didn't seem to go fast enough. It would be the first time he had seen her since their adventure, just a few weeks ago. He had become well known in his village as a result of that quest. Everyone in the village seemed to know his name. As he sat down, laying the spear across his lap, Mira, who was already sitting down, glanced over at him. "What're you impatient about?" she asked, noticing his restlessness. "Nothing, just bored," he replied. Mira glanced over at him, a small smile on her face. She'd seen through his lie quickly enough. "I see. It doesn't have anything to do with that girl Anna, does it?" she quired, raising an eyebrow. "Maybe," he said, not wanting to give her a straight answer. Mira laughed lightly. "I think it does," she replied, watching with satisfaction as he turned a little red. Mira knew Istas did not like to be teased about liking Anna, but she did it anyway.
By now, the vibrant colors of sunset were giving way to the soft blue colors of early evening. The first sparks of the stars were appearing in the vast deep blueness above them. A cool wind ruffled Mira's long red hair as she lay her spear down beside her. Glancing over at Istas, she said, "When you go, I'm going to come too. The more, the merrier." Istas shrugged. "All right, fine." At that moment, two other trainees came out from the tunnel behind them. One of them said, "Hagen said you two can go do what you want now. We have to guard now." Istas rose, heading down the tunnel into the village.Going to his room, he lay his spear down in its usual corner. Quickly, he slipped the armor off and lay it down on the dirt floor.
As he walked out into the village, he could see that Mira was already waiting for him. Together, they began to walk into one of the tunnels that would lead them down Death Mountain from the inside.
Anna sat quietly outside her cottage, peering up at the night sky. The wind was very cold now, but she scarcely noticed it. Link was inside, preparing for the evening's hunt that would provide them with dinner. There had been much turmoil, all in just the past few days. The King of Hyrule had made the announcement that he was going abroad for the next few weeks to another country. Princess Zelda was to rule the kingdom in his absence. Most of the King's trusted guards and soldiers decided to come along on the boat that would take him there. Link and Anna's uncle, too, decided to accompany the King as well, leaving Link and Anna to care for the cottage in Hyrule by themselves. The King had departed on his boat just that morning, his many servants with him. Impa had made the choice to stay behind with Princess Zelda and the few remaining soldiers. There had been chaos in Kakariko Village all the rest of the day, people walking about on the cobblestone streets and talking about the King's departure. Many worried that they would be attacked without a king to rule them, and many others worried that Princess Zelda was too young to run such a large kingdom efficiently. Finally, when night had fallen, the turmoil was quelled, and Anna, who had been inside the cottage most of the day, decided to come out for some fresh air. As she sat, she closed her eyes and let the wind whisper its melody to her. The grass swayed gently in the breeze, and the leaves of the trees followed suit.
She found herself thinking of Istas. As he had left the castle with Mira, he'd promised he'd come see her again. Opening her eyes, she sighed and glanced down at her finger. There, sparkling in the stars' light like a star itself, was the diamond ring Istas had given her. Turning it on her finger, she watched as it shone with a white light. When will he be back? she thought, looking up at the stars as if the answer could be seen there. They shone down coldly, offering no solace. Her pendant, too, shone with the mysterious glow of the stars. It was still hard to believe she, Link, Zelda, and Istas had destroyed Ganon and gained such incredible power. She looked at the hand that carried the mark of the Tetraforce, the triangle of Hope. She felt as if she had changed greatly, and was yet unchanged. She wondered if Link and Zelda, who had inherited the Essences of Courage and Wisdom, felt the same way.
In the middle of her ruminating, she didn't notice the cottage door open. Link came out, armed with a quiver full of arrows and a bow. Noticing Anna sitting on the grass in front of him, he asked, "What're you doing?" At the sound of his voice, she jumped, startled. Catching her breath, she said, "Nothing, Link. I guess I should get inside and ready the fire for dinner." She got up and went inside, throwing logs onto the fireplace. Within a few minutes, the cold hearth was alive with the warmth of a fire. Taking the bellows from alongside the log pile, she pumped air onto the fire. The flames responded, raising up a bit more, burning brightly. She sat before its warmth for several minutes more.
There was a rapping at the cottage door, and Anna rose to answer it. Opening the door, she saw Istas standing before her, with Mira behind him. Anna stepped outside to greet him. His arms encircled her, drawing her close. Returning the embrace, she smiled as he let her go. "I wondered what happened to you, Istas," she said quietly, smiling at him. He grinned in return. "Just got caught up with life in the village," he answered. Mira stood apart from them, clearing her throat loudly. "I really don't wish to put a damper on the romance here, but...." she hinted.
"Let's go do something," Istas said to Anna, his eyes shining with mischief. "Like what? I have to stay here until Link returns," Anna replied. At that moment, Link returned from his short hunt, carrying that night's dinner, a rabbit. "Istas, Mira and I will be going out for awhile," Anna told her brother. Link nodded. "All right. Just be home in time for dinner." As Link headed inside and the trio started off, Anna complained, "He's starting to sound like our uncle, and he hasn't been gone long. He just went off this morning with the King." Mira broke in impatiently, "So, what do you want to do?" There was a long pause. For a time, they continued to walk, not knowing what they should do. A few ideas were brought up, but most were quickly dismissed by Mira, who wanted something more daring to undertake. Finally, Istas spoke up. "You know, I always hear stories about people who go to these fortune tellers. How they can never see anything in those crystal balls they have, and I've also heard some of the predictions are weird, too."
Mira shook her head and replied, "I heard they're a big gyp. I don't think we have enough rupees for that. Besides, how's that exciting?" Anna dug into her dress pockets and produced a few brightly colored rupees. "I have ten rupees here." Istas found a few in his own pockets, and Mira discovered she had some as well. "We have twenty five rupees total," Istas reported after counting them. "Fine, I suppose we could try it, seeing as we have nothing else to do," Mira said, sighing.
"All right. I know of a teller who won't charge much," Anna said, and they followed her to the squat cottage of a teller right outside Kakariko Village. On either side of the door were the granite figures of skulls sitting atop pillars, and from the open door drifted sweet smelling smoke. "Incense," Mira coughed as they walked in the doorway. A red carpet lead up to a rather large table. The room was dimly lit, and candles that were set on either side of the large table, situated in the front of the room, served as the only light. The tablecloth was strung with tassels. These tassels had been decorated with beads and small bells. In the center of the table sat the mysterious crystal ball itself, the flickering candlelight reflecting off its clear, smooth surface. They looked around, only to find the dim room empty. "I knew this was a waste of time," Mira growled. Suddenly, the scarlet curtains on the other side of the table spread apart, and a figure clad in a purple robe walked out. Anna got a glance of unruly black hair and the face of the young woman who was the teller. Then, a purple hood was donned, covering her hair and face. As the woman took her seat in front of the crystal ball, her eyes gleamed brightly in the firelight. "Sorry to have kept you waiting," her soft voice, edged with a mysterious undertone, said softly. Mira glared at the teller as Anna replied, "That's all right."
The teller's eyes glowed shrewdly from under the hood. "It will be five rupees for each one of you." After each person handed over the correct amount of rupees, the teller's soft voice asked, "Now, which of you will go first?" Anna glanced at Istas, who looked at Mira. Finally, Istas answered, "I'll go." The teller nodded. "Very good. Now, lay your hands on top of the crystal ball and I can read your fortune." Istas lay his hands on top of the clear orb. The fortune teller's eyes vanished into darkness as she closed them. There was a long pause. Finally, the teller's eyes shot open. "I see you will have a very bright future, and your fighting skills will grow as the years pass." Istas removed his hands from the crystal ball as the teller asked, "Who will be the next one to learn what their future holds?" Mira, smiling confidently, replied, "I'll go, why not? I want to see what false future you dream up for me." The fortune teller's eyes glinted, and her voice was harsh. "Do not doubt the power of the crystal ball. It tells much." Mira rolled her eyes and placed her hands on the crystal ball. The fortune teller once again closed her eyes. A few moments passed. Then, the teller responded, "You must learn to give people more of a chance, instead of shutting them out.Only by doing that will you make more allies." Mira stifled a chuckle as she went to stand beside the door next to Istas. "What stupidity," she whispered, giggling. Istas watched as Anna approached the teller's table. The teller's eyes shone mysteriously.
"Ah, so you are the last to go? I sense a strong aura about you. The ball will reveal your future if you place your hands atop it." Anna did as she was asked. As the teller began to concentrate, Anna peered into the clearness of the crystal, seeing only her own reflection. After a second, the teller gasped. Her voice grew ominious. "I see a rather clouded future, an uncertain one." Her eyes opened, looking into Anna's. Anna slowly removed her hands from the crystal ball. What did the teller mean by a 'clouded future'? she wondered.
"What drivel," Mira snorted as they walked into the night's dark air. Making her voice high and strange, she mimicked, " 'I am the teller of doom.' I wonder how many people she predicts are doomed each day? I'll bet it's all made up." Anna nodded and Istas laughed. Noticing Anna was pensive, Istas put a hand on her shoulder. "Too bad the teller didn't say anything about how many more times Mira's going to get yelled at by Hagen in the future, huh?" Anna smiled lightly, and he ran a hand through her hair affectionately. "Very funny," Mira grumbled from behind them.
Glancing up at the night sky, Istas realized just how late it was. "Mira and I have to get back to the village now. We'll come by again soon. Hey, don't worry about the fortune. That's just all stuff they make up to get rupees. Besides, you'll be just as beautiful in the future, don't worry," he teased. He hugged her then, and she went to kiss his cheek. At Mira's glare, however, she decided against it. Istas released her, and went to go join Mira, who was already starting to walk off quickly.
As Anna walked alone back to her cottage, thoughts of the teller's prediction filled her mind. She didn't know what to believe. Some people walked into a teller's cottage once, thought them crazy, and swore never to come again. Yet, there were other people who thought that fortune tellers were wiser even than Sasharala, the wisest man in all of Kakariko Village, sometimes called the wisest man in all of Hyrule. Finally, she came to her cottage. Walking in, she found it to be later than she expected, and Link was already asleep. The fire was dead. The bed where their uncle was to lay was empty. On the table was the cold remains of dinner. Anna hardly gave it a glance. She was too tired to eat. Getting into a nightgown, she got in bed and lay there, worry keeping her awake for a while. After a time, all thoughts left her, and the dark peace of sleep encircled her.
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