The sunshine beat warmly down upon Link, Zelda, and Anna as they left Kakariko and made their way back to the castle. The songs of the many birds that resided in the nearby Lost Woods filled the air, carried to their ears by the fair wind. The shouts of the villagers began to fade as they got farther and farther from the village that lay behind them. Anna could still feel the worry that refused to release its grip on her mind. As she walked behind Link and the princess, she heard once again the voice of the fortune teller, hardly a whisper in the back of her mind. Briefly, she thought of the glint of the teller's eyes, and how cold and smooth the crystal ball had been under her warm hands as the teller predicted her future.Yet, she could also remember Mira's words of scorn toward the teller's predictions. Her fears subsided a little, but still lay in the back of her mind, a snake coiled to strike.
The castle was not far now. Over the swell of an approaching hill, its towers were clearly visible. The sun had risen above it, bathing the impressive structure and its surroundings in golden light. "Oh, I hope Impa won't be angry. I suppose I stayed out a bit longer than I should have," Princess Zelda fretted. Link shrugged, "I was here with you, what's there to worry about?" Zelda smiled at him and replied, "Yes, I suppose you're right. Lunch will be served when we get to the castle, I'd say. Would you and Anna wish to stay?" Link smiled. "Sure."
As they reached the castle and started up the walkway, the front doors opened. Impa walked outside, worry in her eyes. The worry evaporated and was replaced by happiness and relief as she saw Link and Zelda standing together. "Oh, princess, I was beginning to worry. You'd been gone nearly an hour," Impa said. Zelda smiled to reassure her nursemaid. "Link, Anna and I were just in Kakariko for awhile. I guess we got caught up in listening to the village elder." Impa nodded. "Well, the servants just got finished setting the table for the afternoon meal, so come inside." With that, the older woman headed inside the castle's lavish interior, her skirts swishing as she made her way down the castle hallway. The princess began to walk inside as well, turning and beckoning for Link and Anna to follow her. As they walked into the castle's main hallway, its floor adorned with gold trimmed carpets, Link could smell the aroma of many foods. A servant rushed past in front of them, carrying a hot covered platter.
Zelda led Link and Anna to the dining hall. Here, everything that decorated the room was of the finest quality, right down to the tablecloth that covered the table and the napkins that were set alongside the plates. A chandelier, made of finely cut crystal, hung from the ceiling, sparkling and sending out rainbow patterns across the walls as the light hit it. There were many windows in this room as well, so tall and wide that they nearly reached the ceiling itself. The table was wide and long, enough to seat a multitude of guests. Many velvet padded chairs were lined up along either side of the table. The largest two were placed near the head of the table, the places where Princess Zelda and the King sat during formal meals. They were more ornate than the seats for the guests, the velvet of the padded seat a deep purple instead of the wine color of the others.
Various foods were already set out on the table as they made their way to their seats. Zelda settled herself into her father's chair at the head of the table, then invited Link to sit where she normally sat. Anna settled herself on the princess's other side. Impa came in, a teapot in hand. Steam curled from the spout and out from under the loosened lid. A servant came in right behind her, three teacups in hand. These were set down on little saucers before them, and Impa poured the dark, steaming tea into each cup. A sugar bowl and a pitcher of cream were set out before them by yet another servant. Zelda picked up the sugar bowl and spooned some sugar into her cup. Adding some cream, she stirred it gently, the spoon hitting the sides of the cup and making it sound like a tiny bell. The cup's dark contents quickly turned lighter. Setting the cup down on the saucer before her, she glanced at Link, who was adding some sugar to his own tea.
"It has been very peaceful these past few weeks, hasn't it?" she asked, smiling. Link looked up at her. "Yeah, but it's too boring around here." Zelda's smile renewed. Link was such a restless soul, always looking for some sort of adventure. He's the true definition of a warrior, she thought. Thinking about this only reminded her of what a sheltered princess she had always been. She was not allowed to simply walk out of the castle to do as she pleased, which irritated her on more than one occasion. If only I hadn't been born to royalty, she thought. Her happiness died down like a fire without fuel, and she sighed. Lifting the teacup to her lips, she drank of the steaming liquid inside, filling her body with warmth. She watched Link, who was drinking his tea and eating some of the food that had been put before him. He looked up to see that she hadn't eaten, and had hardly had any of her tea. "What's wrong, princess?" he asked. She looked up from her tea with a sigh.
"Maybe you're right. Things are getting a bit boring around here," she replied wistfully, taking her spoon and stirring the tea again, watching as the light liquid swirled around like a whirlpool. He nodded in understanding, raising the cup to his mouth to drink some more tea. Lowering the cup to the saucer, he replied, "It just doesn't feel right to have constant peace around here."
Anna contributed nothing to the conversation going on around her. She sat, hands folded in her lap, staring down at the now tepid tea that sat in its cup. The serpent that was her worry had struck again with cold, vengeful fangs, and she did not feel like eating or talking. She didn't understand why she was worried; after all, what the fortune teller had said was all just something to gain rupees, as both Mira and Istas had told her. Yet, something inside her told her that simply wasn't true. There had to be something....Something that made her worry. She knew there was, deep down, a reason to be disquieted. Perhaps Ganon hadn't been destroyed, after all. Maybe he was returning, full of wrath, waiting for the right opportunity to attack. She dwelled on this for a moment, then dismissed it. They had taken him out big time in their last battle; he wouldn't be showing up again in too big a hurry. Something stirred in the back of her mind, and she struggled to recall the events of the night before. The voice of the teller rang resoundingly in her mind, as it had done so many other times that day, making her feel ill. She looked down at her hands and realized that they were pale, and shaking slightly. What in the name of the goddesses is wrong with me? she thought. She ducked her head, hoping her face wasn't as pale and clammy as her palms were becoming.
Zelda noticed Anna's lack of participation on the conversation, and turned to her. She had her head down, her hair covering her face. Zelda could see through the girl's shoulder length hair that her eyes were wide, her face beaded with sweat. Something was clearly wrong. For the second time that day, Zelda knew that she was hiding something. "Anna, are you feeling all right?" Zelda asked. Anna looked up at her, her face glistening from the moisture that had formed on it. At first, she did not answer. Link looked up, concern showing plainly on his face. He could not see, however, her paleness or her wide eyes. She had lowered her head even further from view. "Are you okay?" Zelda asked for the second time. Anna shook her head. "I guess....I'm a little tired, is all. I-I'll be okay," she said, her voice wavering.
"Up too late last night, huh?" Link asked, and she nodded, relieved to have the excuse. If she told them what was really bothering her, they would simply laugh. Link had said several times before that he didn't believe in the fortunes the tellers had told him all throughout his adventure. "They'd predict the sky would turn green if you gave them enough rupees," he had once told Princess Zelda, who had laughed. They both believed it was the wise prophecy of the ancient ones who had guided them through their first adventure. Perhaps everyone is right, Anna thought. Maybe it's all something they do for rupees. It doesn't really affect the futures of other people. Relief took the edge away from her worry, but it did not get rid of it completely. Trying to force irksome thoughts out of her mind, she focused on the resumed conversation going on around her. The fortune, the cause of her worry, faded away for the time being.
About an hour passed, and the conversation switched topics many times. She added what little she could to it when the oppertunity arose, but there really was not much to say. Link and Zelda had begun to discuss their first adventure, something Anna had not been present to witness. As they rehashed over their victory, the defeat of Ganon, Anna felt herself growing increasingly weary. She hadn't recieved enough sleep that night at all, and in spite of the fact she'd fallen asleep from the moment she'd lain in bed, she still felt drained. Scraping her chair back, she rose from the table. "I'm going home, Link. I guess you were right, I didn't get enough sleep last night." Link nodded, replying, "I'll be home in awhile, Anna." As Anna left the room, Impa came up to her, showing her through the hallways and out the castle's front doors.
Anna walked into the cottage. It was illuminated with the sun's bright light. Yawning, she lowered herself into her bed, closing her eyes. The bright sun did not bother
her as she slept. Soon, images and fragments of thoughts drifted their way into her subconscious. The eerie voice of the teller, the image of her gleaming eyes. She found herself in a dark room. In the center of a table directly in front of her was a crystal ball, much like the one the teller had.
Walking up to the table was like floating. The edges of the atmosphere around her seemed to blur. The table seemed to come closer without her moving toward it. As she laid her hands on the crystal ball, an ominious voice, the voice of the young woman teller, seemed to come from the air itself. "Lay your hands upon the ball. It will tell you of the future." The voice dissolved into a cackle. Anna tried to lift her hands from the crystal sphere in front of her, but found that she could not. Mist and smoke rose from the depths of the ball. It began as a white fog, but quickly turned an angry crimson color. From inside the ball, images swam blurrily among the red smoke. They formed the images of herself, Istas, Mira, Link, and finally Princess Zelda. She gasped as the ball became searing hot under her palms. Any effort to lift them off was futile. Then, she began to scream...
Her eyes opened. She lay in her bed, thinking of the dream. Her worry had risen out of the darkest parts of her mind to form a hideous nightmare. Breathing hard, she realized that her scream had been real. It still rang in her ears. Breathing hard, she swung her legs over the side of the bed and sat, chin in hands. "Why am I so worried about this fortune?" she mumbled aloud. With sleep being the farthest thing from her mind, she sighed and stared down at the floorboards below, trying to think.
Princess Zelda had waited until Anna had long since departed with her nursemaid before she turned to Link. "Link....I think Anna....there's something not quite right about the way she's been acting lately," she started, watching as Link looked up at her. He shrugged. "She was out late last night is all. She'll be fine by the time I get home. She worries over nothing sometimes is all." He took a bite out of the meat on his plate. Zelda shook her head. "Maybe, Link. But she didn't say anything about what she was worried about. She was acting the same way over at Sashrahala's, too." Link, who had been raising the teacup to his lips, frowned and put it down in the saucer. "I'm sure it's nothing. Probably something that happened between her and Istas last night, an argument or something."
Zelda wasn't convinced. Something was wrong. She didn't know what it was, but judging by the way Anna had been looking, so pale and frightened, it had to be something horrible. "Maybe you should go back to your cottage and talk to her about it," Zelda suggested, and Link nodded. "Yeah, I'll try to find out what the problem is. I'm sure it's nothing that can't be resolved quickly." With this, he pushed his chair back and stood. "Well, I guess if we want anything to eat tonight, I should get hunting. Thanks for lunch, princess," he added, smiling at her. She smiled back. "It was nice having you, Link. We should get together again sometime soon." She watched as Link left the room. Impa came up out of the hallway to meet him and show him the door, and he began to talk with her as she led him to the doors. Princess Zelda rose from her own chair. The servants were arriving now, clearing things off the table, carrying away empty platters. As Zelda ascended the steps to her bedroom, she thought of how Anna had been behaving. Something was very wrong, of that she was certain.....
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