Zelda stood quietly before her bedroom window, pensive eyes looking out at the dark storm that had rolled in. The candle on her night table filled her elaborately decorated room with soft light. Laying a warm hand against the cool glass, she watched as it slowly fogged, spreading from her hand and surrounding it. She could feel her heart, still beating quickly in her chest, and a dim feeling of cold sadness lingered, filling her. Taking her hand from the glass, she lay it against her chest. What would it be like to be dead, not have a heartbeat? She shivered, looking at the imprint of her hand on the window. The mist that wreathed it slowly began to fade, taking with it the image of her hand. Was life really so fragile a thing that it could be taken so easily? The events that had transpired the night before had proven that. Feeling chilled, she drew her lacy curtains across the window, shielding her from the deep blackness of the night.
She had heard murmured conversation sometime before, snatches of Impa's voice floating up the stairwell to greet her ears. She was able to barely discern another voice, a much quieter one that would mumble for brief moments before retreating to silence. Then the verbal intercourse died away, replaced by footsteps that she strained to hear before they too, faded and were lost. Minutes passed with agonizing slowness. Somewhere downstairs, a door swung open to face the night, then banged shut, jolting her with surprise, making her heart flutter. Who could that have been? she thought. Impa's muffled sobs were audible in the quiet that followed. Zelda sighed softly, knowing her nursemaid's self-inflicted blame remained.
Easing herself down on her bed, the princess rested her head on her pillow, her golden hair framing her face, pale and weary. Her sapphire eyes held an illumination of distant fear and angst, and her soul was deeply troubled. Her gaze wandered from the window to the candle that flamed with inconstant radience. Life was as a candle, she reflected. Although bright, it was always wavering, changing, and the slightest breath of death's intolerant breeze could extinguish it. Unlike a candle, however, life's light could not be restored.
Outside, the lightning sparked, the bright whiteness flashing before dissapearing just as suddenly as it had come. The thunder that followed in its heels rumbled among the angry clouds. The rain sang a song all its own as it drummed on the roof and on her window. The wind, too, would add its own shrieking voice to the melody every now and then before its wrath ebbed.
Closing her eyes, Zelda willed sleep to come and take her into its world of ignorant bleakness. Her nerves, wound tight, nagged her, forcing rest to remain at bay. She slowly allowed her eyelids to raise again. Sleep had been miserly the night before as well; she had lay on her bed until the weak light of dawn, smothered by the remaining clouds, had come streaking feebly into her window.
Gentle footsteps were on the stairs now, and were drawing closer. A rueful sigh and cheerless sniff indicated Impa's presence at the landing just outside her room. The door was slightly ajar, and the old woman placed a tentative hand on the knob. "Princess?" she questioned softly, peering around the door to see the young woman laying with her eyes open and bright. "Yes, Impa?" her soft voice inquired in reply. "Princess, a young man arrived here sometime before, a Sheikah. Wasn't he the one who accompanied you and Link on your last journey?"
From her position on the bed, Zelda nodded. "Istas," she affirmed. Raising her head from her pillow and turning questioning eyes to her nursemaid, she asked, "Impa, what did he want?" Impa slowly stepped into the room, gazing down at the plush carpet beneath her feet before she responded. "He wanted to see you and Link," she began quietly. Zelda's silence urged her on, and she drew a deep breath. "And I told him...about the other night." Here the woman's body heaved in a great, trembling sigh.
Zelda, too, let out a breath, feeling the ice beginning to run in her veins, threatening to make her heart skip a beat. "Did he see her?" Impa nodded slightly, her eyes moving from the carpet to the windows, to where the angry storm rumbled and lit the sky. "He did, princess, he did. So upset, he ran out in the storm..." Impa trailed off, and at those words Zelda turned her attention to the window as well. Rain lashed the panes in blankets, and the thunder that sounded shook the castle's structure. Silence, save the sounds of the wind and rain, passed between them for awhile, each lost in her own world of thoughts.
Breaking the silence, Impa said tenderly, "I thought you were trying to rest, princess." Zelda shifted on her bed, shaking her head. "Perhaps so, before, but I can't," she confessed. Impa walked over to the princess's bed, and sitting upon it, lay a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Things will be all right. Not right away, but they will," the nursemaid whispered. Yet the tears in her eyes served to contradict her, and Zelda threw her arms around Impa, holding her in a tight embrace. "Yes, they will," she murmured soothingly, "and you tried your best, Impa; none can lay blame on you for what happened." Impa drew away, smiling slightly. "I suppose so, princess," she answered, rising from the bed. Picking up the brass candlesnuffer, she lowered it over the wick. Smoke rose from underneath, curling and drifting, as the flame suddenly met its end. "Good night, Zelda," Impa said lovingly, walking to the door. She drew it shut, and after a moment, Zelda could hear her footsteps grow soft before dying out.
In the darkness, the smell of the doused candle's smoke was sharp, and the rain struck the windows with more wrath than before. She lay in bed for a moment more, then sat up. Drawing back her covers, she rose from her bed, stepping through the darkness, trying not to stumble over anything. Reaching her door, she turned the knob and opened the door, letting the weak hallway light flood into her room. Starting out with careful quietude into the hallway beyond, she peered down the hallway to see if Link's door had remained open at such a late hour. Indeed, it was ajar, but she couldn't see if light still burned in the room itself.
With gentle tread and attentive eyes, the princess continued down the hallway, her ears and eyes alert with each step. A sudden creak from one of the floorboards under the carpet made her pause, glance about warily, then continue on. She didn't wish to be caught out of bed, for she had something to do first.
Having finally reached Link's door, she saw the room beyond was black and hushed. A shaft of light stretched out into the room beyond, falling across the bed. She could see Link's form under the sheets, apparently asleep. Smiling, she slowly walked into the room and reached his bedside. He lay still, and she noticed the Book of Mudora laying at his side, its pages open. Her eyes filled with compassion . Once again, he was searching for something he couldn't find. He simply didn't realize that destiny wasn't always, couldn't be, written in a book, no matter how wise the authors who wielded the pen.
The light caught his face, and for a moment, she saw the warrior in him gone, replaced with a sort of childish innocence that sleep lent him. So peaceful was he lost in this slumber that she didn't wish to wake him now; she had simply come to tell him of Istas's visit to the castle. Yet, she was loathe to depart, and she lowered herself in a sitting position on the bed close to him. Always, he had been her protector, always at her side should she need his help. Now it was he who needed her. Was it destiny they had met, did destiny's hands keep them together in such a fashion in times of need? She didn't know.
She brought her face close to his, her warm breath making his eyelids flutter. The princess's cheeks were crimson with her own daring. Gently, she kissed his cheek, her heartbeat quickening. Pure impulse had led her to the gates of daring, and just as suddenly as it had come, it fled. Embarrassment was in the wake of its waves, and she rose quietly, her face burning. Her footsteps across his carpet to his door were hurried, and she retreated down the hallway to her own room, her heart in her throat.
Link stirred not long after her departure, opening his eyes. Had the occurrence that had just taken place been a mere, sweet dream? With tentative fingers, he reached to touch his cheek, where the invisible imprint of her lips lingered.
He was drifting in the dark coldness, lost to the world he had all but left. He had never felt such chill, never drifted in such stark blackness. Never had things been so silent, so dim. He was completely separated, gone from all he once knew. The vastness of the expanse he had drifted into was limitless. A stab of fear ran through him, a fleeting emotion that was almost at once replaced with a soothing calm. The darkness pressed him from all sides, desiring to swallow him completely. It drew closer, deepening and becoming part of him, making him drowsy. He continued to float, wanting to be lost in the ebony expanse, and yet something held him back. Memories of times and people he knew were flooding past his soaring figure with great speed, their images and sounds filling him with a sense of loss. He was made aware of his heart, scarcely beating in his chest, and a voice, wrathful but distorted, resonating as it faded.
Suddenly, a great, fiery pain stabbed him. It began to grow in intensity, and the black nothingness before him shattered like fine crystal, giving way to hazy light. Death relinquished its hold, allowing him back into life's brightness.
Groggily, he opened his eyes. Mira was above him, her face vague to his blurred vision. It was her enraged tone that he had heard, although her words were unclear. Now she spewed vulgar syllables in strings, her face dark with emotion. Her eyes danced with flame born of worry, but her mien was anything but anxious. Seeing his eyes open, she glared down at him.
"Damn you," she snarled, her inner fretting kindling her ire.
"Mira, wh-what...?" he began, at loss for words. He realized then he was bare chested, laying upon his bedding. His eyes drifted to where his bloody shirt lay, the dagger he had tried to cut the thread of his own life with laying beside it. Mira was pressing down upon his wound with the material of his turban, now dyed with his vitality.
While his thoughts churned, Mira continued to imprecate him. "You fool, idiot! You'd dare to take away all life has brought you?" she snapped. Her face was pallid, he realized, and the angst in her eyes had deepened. Her breathing was labored, and sweat ran from her forehead.
"You're fortunate I was able to save you. Thank Din all the trainees had to learn basic medicine," she growled, her anger lessening at the abrupt realization that her efforts were not in vain; indeed he had returned to the living. She removed her hands from the material wadded against his chest for a moment, retrieving a liquid in a tiny wooden bowl. Pressing it to his lips, she muttered gruffly, "Here, drink. It'll diminish the pain." The caustic liquid made him wince, and he swallowed, coughing and then groaning as pain ripped through him. Mira held a shining needle up in the torchlight, squinting as she attempted to poke a slim thread through its miniscule eye.
"I'll need to give you stitches, that wound was pretty deep," she said softly. Gingerly removing the material from his chest, she began to close the separated skin. Each stroke of the needle and pull of the thread was torture, and he bit his lip to keep from crying out. Mira leaned down close to view her task more accurately, and her long hair swung forward, touching his bare skin and making it tingle. Several minutes passed, and her face was set with concentration. With a final tug of the thread, she raised the needle and bit the thread, severing it.
Releasing a pent-up breath, she turned softer eyes on him.
"What happened?" she asked, almost gently. The fire in her eyes was replaced with slight curiosity.
Sorrow moved to mingle with his pain, and he tried to keep his voice from trembling.
"She's dead, Mira. Anna's gone..." At the mention of her name, his mind conjured the haunting, still crypt, Anna laying cold in death's slumber. His body spasmed with the memory of it.
"Dead?" Mira echoed, surprise registering in her face. "How? Why?" Her questions bubbled inside of her, and her temper was placated by her bafflement. Istas sighed, closing his eyes. "She was...sick," he answered at length, his emotion at last beginning to choke his speech.
He was breathing hard and fast, trying to quell the rising tide of feeling. Mira watched with silent sadness. She hadn't known very well the girl that her best friend loved, but her sadness was for him alone. "I'm sorry," she said somberly. She sat back on her heels, watching as his face contorted with pain and melancholic sentiment. She was now aware of what he was going through, knew what his inner turmoil was. He was mumbling incoherently through his suffering. She drew closer to hear. He was unaware he was speaking aloud, putting his thoughts to words.
"I've lost everything...My parents, Anna...I-I..." His speech was lost as he cried out with physical and interior strife, his wail like that of a lonely animal.
Mira lay her head in her hands, knowing he was beyond any comfort words could supply. She longed to touch him, but her body couldn't move, and she was at a loss. She remained speechless as his muttering continued, the words of a soul that has seen much unhappiness in a short amount of time.
"Mira, you should have let me die," he murmured softly, slowly opening his eyes, devoid of the cheer and mischief that once resided there. She could see that he truly had wanted death to take him into its land of dark peace. The hope that came with life had vanished, leaving his eyes hardened, cold. Fear, fused with returning anger, rose up inside, filling her with flame.
"No! Don't you understand? She may be gone, but you have to go on!" she raged, but the despondency in his eyes remained. She knew she was unable to reach him. "Istas, listen to me, and listen well," Mira replied, lowering her voice. "If you died...I couldn't live...just knowing.... You have a lot to live for." His eyelids shut once again at her words, his dismal mind set in prayer, entreating for any form of death to come bundle him off swiftly. From seemingly far off, Mira's reason came. "If you don't want to continue for yourself, do so for the people you care about." Her voice shook, the sensitivity of her utterance making her blush.
He was drifting away now, going to the mystical world that belonged to rest. "We have duty tonight," Mira said, her voice waning and becoming soft to him. "I'll simply tell Hagen you're sick. Even a boar-headed lout like him can't get you for that." She rose then, seeing his breathing was even, his face tranquil. Staring down at him for a lingering minute, she sighed, then turned and was gone.
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