Chapter 3: The Vow
Dawn played upon the horizon, bathing the majestic towers of Hyrule Castle in gentle morning light. All were still asleep at this time, rolling over in their beds and groaning to the Goddesses to make the night last a bit longer. But one person was awake and active in the early morning hours.
Link, so used to awakening at the crack of dawn for training, pulled on a silvery tunic, fastening a fine brown leather belt about his waist. He had returned home from training, but still, the habit of not waking up precisely at sunrise was impossible for him to break, he had attempted to do so on his way home, but to no avail.
He looked to his sword and shield, both presented to him by Master Titas when he had completed his training. The sword's hilt was wrapped in fine leather, and the cutting edge so sharp that when Link ran a finger across its crafted edge, he wouldn't have known if he was cut until he saw the sight of blood. The shield was made of a rare metal, according to Master Titas, the hardest in the Kingdom. The front was covered with the Royal Hylian Phoenix and above its head the triforce, the area surrounding was painted Royal Blue. A knight's shield.
He slung the sword and shield onto his back, reveling in the comfort of not having a sword bang against his leg. He drew the sword from its ornate sheath of black leather and gold, testing its weight in his hand, he fondled the blade's hilt as though he held the hand of a lover.
With the authority of a king, Link brought it cleaving through the air in a skillful strike, one that used on a real foe would have split through the toughest armor and mail, leaving serious damage to the torso.
This was only one of the many swordplay techniques that Link had been taught, but there was only one thing that mattered above all the things Link had learned: Never let the foe escape.
Link, satisfied with his gift, sheathed the blade into its home. He observed his quarters and found them much more comfortable than the tiny little prison bed that he had slept on under Titas' care.
All the trainees shared one room, some getting up in the middle of the night, some getting sick, and others snoring loudly. It took a while for Link to adjust to the noisy environment, but it could be done after about a month or two of sleepless nights.
His quarters now were about the size of a tiny apartment, with stone floors and walls, and a small twin sized bed. The ceilings leaked and it was extremely cold at night, but at least it was home.
The door creaked on rusty hinges as Link exited his quarters. The halls were dimly lit with morning light, enough so that he would not have to take a candle to his destination.
Usually he would have gone to the training field, that is, if he was still in training. Today he felt like he needed peace, quiet, and a bit of reading. No matter how strange it was to be in the library at almost four in the morning, he needed something to clear his mind of its current muddle, and reading always seemed to help.
His equipment clacked against one another with every step he took down the halls. He took multiple doors through large wings, went down countless numbers of stairs, until he finally found his way to the large oaken doors of the main library.
Putting a hand to the brass knob, Link pushed gently against the doors so that they might allow his entrance. It was, however, harder than he thought, so he found himself pushing full force against them, and Link was by no means a weak man.
After about five minutes of hard effort, the doors creaked open and allowed Link to enter.
Three large windows allowed light to filter into the library, silk curtains mounted on either side so that the ancient texts would not fade in color.
Large bookcases as tall as the eye could imagine were flooded with books. Large brass ladders were piled against the large bookcases so that readers might reach books on all levels. In between each of the bookcases, large desks and chairs made of Maplewood awaited occupants. Books of all sizes, colors, and binding rested against one another, old and new knowledge mixed together.
Link stood in the middle of two bookcases, eyes scanning titles to find a particular subject. With so much knowledge at his disposal, where should he start?
His thoughts were interrupted as he heard loud shuffling from behind a bookcase.
Link's mind went into defensive, his hand going to his sword and his eyes going as cold as ice. Ever since he was thirteen, he'd been taught to attack to kill. To kill anyone that he came in contact with, and show no mercy, slaughtering and mutilating, even if someone called out for him to stop.
He edged against the bookcase, slowly drawing his blade… peering around the corner to see his enemy…
Almost immediately his cheeks went red as he thought of what he could have done.
Sitting in a chair, head slumped forward and resting on a book was Princess Zelda. Her hair cascaded prettily about her sleeping face, making her appear like an angel that had lost its wings.
Releasing his tense grip on the hilt of his blade, Link walked slowly over to the Princess, gently shaking her so that she might awaken.
The moment that Link's hand had touched her, Zelda seemed to respond, violet eyes creeping open and staring into wild blue.
"...Sir Link…" she murmured, lifting her head from the book page and rubbing sleep from her eyes. With her messed up hair and sleepy expression, Zelda almost looked like a little girl again. Looking up at Link, she smiled slightly at his concerned expression.
"What are you doing here so early in the morning, My Lady?" Link asked, crossing his arms in an expecting manner, eyebrow raised.
"I could not sleep last night, so I came downstairs to read," Zelda replied, "I find that reading helps me get drowsy when I cannot sleep."
Link smiled for the first time since his return. The same Zelda, always reading books whenever she had the opportunity.
"And what are you doing here at the crack of dawn?" Zelda asked, crossing her arms in the same fashion as Link. "Most people would be asleep as of now."
"I am used to rising early in the morning. It was required that I do so when training," Link said, sitting down in a chair beside Zelda. A mischievous glint appeared in his eyes as he read a few lines from Zelda's book. "Well, well! A romance novel, your Highness? I would not expect that of you."
Zelda quickly snapped the book into her hands, face going crimson with embarrassment. "Well I would not expect you to read at all, Sir Link. After all, all you can do is swing a sword, is that really an accomplishment?"
Link laughed aloud, a deep and booming laugh. As his laughter died into chuckles, he smiled at Zelda's confused expression. "I'm sorry, Highness. It's just that we would fight about this as children as well… It makes me think back to the times we would play together in the courtyard, or play tricks on the guards."
A smile melted its way across Zelda's features as she recalled their petty arguments. "Ah yes, I remember those years quite well… they were the finest years of my life."
Link instantly regretted bringing the times up as a melancholy expression played over Zelda's beautiful face. He couldn't bear to see her in pain, and so he decided to change the subject.
"Tomorrow you will go to the Temple of Time to ask the Goddesses for a blessing, correct?" Link asked, hiding his feelings of distain for Edward behind a mask of indifference.
He cursed himself again as Zelda's features turned from melancholy to one of pure bitterness and anger.
"Yes… yes, that is right," Zelda choked out, her voice dangerously low.
A few moments of silence passed, each of them glaring down at their laps, unable to think of anything else to say.
"I'm sorry, My Lady," Link whispered, "I didn't know that it was so uncomfortable for you to speak about. You have my most sincere apology."
"No, all is fine, Sir Link," Zelda said, shaking her head, "I've steeled myself for this day for a very long while. At this time, the only thing I can hope for is that the Goddesses reject Edward." She averted her gaze to her book again and sighed. "Once again, I'm sorry for imp-."
"No," Link interrupted, holding a hand up, "You're not imposing anything upon me, Highness. We were friends once, no? You can tell me anything you need to, anytime you wish."
Zelda smiled once again, taking Link's hand in hers and fondling it. "Thank you, Sir Link…"
Clearing his throat, Link rose from his chair and separated Zelda's grasp from his hand. "If you would excuse me, Highness, I have much to attend to. I will see you tomorrow, then." Bowing low before her, Link turned and exited the ancient library, unaware that once again Zelda's gaze followed him from the room.
The Temple of Time towered high into the sky, piercing the heavens, seemingly defying all explanation. The people of Hyrule had gathered around the white stone building, their faces bearing expressions of great anticipation and nervousness.
The Hylians had gathered together on this one day to await the approval of the Goddesses for the marriage of Prince Edward and Princess Zelda. It was custom that when a Royal couple wished to marry, the Goddesses must approve of the match so that Hyrule might continue to be blessed. If the potential suitor failed the test, then the Princess would not be allowed to marry. Defying the Goddesses and joining the two together if they were not approved of led to great famine and pestilence throughout the land.
Among the many captains of brigades, Link stood, garbed in fine silver armor, blue cape billowing weakly out behind him. They were here to protect the Royals in case the people got out of hand, which would happen quite often if not for their presence.
Being the Commander's son, Link was to escort Prince Edward and Zelda to Rauru, the Sage of the temple, and guard them. The task had fallen to him since his father was currently away with the armies, trying to topple Vandellus' forces before they reached Hyrule.
Link began to nod off, only to be shoved awake by one of his men, who pointed out Zelda, escorted on the arm of Prince Edward, awaiting his presence so that they might go into the Temple.
He spoke quickly to the man, telling him to keep the brigade under control before turning to the Royal couple and greeting them.
"Good Morning, Highness, Prince Edward," Link murmured, bowing deeply to each in turn. "My father apologizes that he could not be here to escort you himself."
"It is quite alright, Sir Link," Zelda replied, looking deeply into Link's piercing blue eyes. It seemed as though Zelda was trying to read an obscure text. Looking into her childhood friend's eyes was like trying to pound through diamond with your fists, impossible to break.
Link, not wishing to stall any longer, nodded toward the temple's opening. "Shall we go?"
Edward nodded, then smiled at Zelda before the three of them stepped into the nearly one thousand year old temple.
The heavy scent of incense met his nose the moment he set foot into the temple. The air was different from the outside… seemingly a bit more pure… light.
But what struck Link even more oddly was the fact that the Temple seemed familiar… As if he had set foot in the Temple many times before, even though he knew that he had never gone here in his life. His faith had always been practiced by praying on the road, and so he never got time to stop and find a proper place to worship.
The ceilings were extremely high, so much so that it seemed to go miles without end. A raised slab of marble, marked with a strange marking, stood within the center of the Temple. There were no pews to sit down on for worshippers, so they had to sit upon the cold stone floor and bend their heads down, pleading the Goddesses for mercy, love, victory, and numerous other things. Light flooded in through large stained glass windows, each depicting the six sages of Ancient Hyrule.
An altar, made of the same white stone the temple was composed of, stood as a monument near the edge of the spacious temple. Ancient Hylian was carved into the altar's smooth surface, and three hollow recesses seemed to be awaiting the placement of something into their depths. On either side of the altar, stairs led to the solid stone wall. Strangely enough, the wall had strange markings chiseled into it, almost as though the stonecutter was trying to tell some sort of story to the worshippers. A story that had baffled even the cleverest minds for nearly one thousand years.
Link's gaze flitted about the Temple as he searched for the Temple's guardian. Where was Rauru? As the Temple's Sage, he should have been present to care for the temple and to oversee the going-ons in the holy building.
"Master Rauru!" Link called out, his voice echoing ominously throughout the Temple. By Farore, where was he?
Again he called out to the old man, and still there was no answer. Link had only taken a few steps when he felt a warm hand fall upon his armor clad shoulder.
Wheeling around, he came face to face with the Sage of Light himself.
Rauru was clothed in a heavy brown robe. His eyes radiated a large amount of kindness, and when the sun hit them a certain way, they seemed to be filled with swirling light. The man was completely bald, except for a tiny tuft of hair on his head. A large mustache hid the sage's lower face, giving him the appearance of a walrus. But as silly as he might have appeared, Rauru had an air of pureness and wisdom hanging about him.
Rauru's eyes widened as he stared at the young captain, his mouth gaping with astonishment. "Link?" The name passed out of the Sage's mouth as though it were the holiest of prayers.
Link was a bit alarmed that a person whom he had never met before knew his name. Was there more to this old man than met the eye?
"Umm… are you Master Rauru, the Light Sage?" Link asked nervously.
Rauru's eyes cleared from their sudden alarm as he nodded understandingly, muttering a few words in a strange language before his eyes returned to their normal light. "Ah, yes, my dear boy, I am Rauru, Sage of Light and guardian of the Temple of Time. How might I be of service?"
"Her Majesty and Prince Edward have come to seek permission from the Goddesses so they might be married," Link said, gesturing toward Zelda and Edward. The two Royals were staring at Rauru with great respect, clearly awed that they were in the presence of such a wise man.
"I see, come, come! Stand before the Altar of Time!" Rauru said, ushering the slightly disoriented group forward.
Link was impressed with Rauru was not bowing or treating Zelda or Edward with a great amount of respect. He simply treated all of them equally, as though he was not speaking to Princess Zelda, the most beautiful and powerful woman in the land.
"Zelda and Edward, please stand here, Sir Link, would you kindly step away a few paces… yes, thank you," Rauru said kindly. "Zelda and Edward, please place your hands on top of the Altar."
As Zelda placed a hand gently upon the altar, she was surprised to find that it was pleasantly warm, almost as though someone was holding her hand in a gentle grip. There was magic at work somewhere…
Rauru took his time stepping up the stone steps to stand behind the altar, facing Zelda and Edward. The Light Sage lifted his hands into the air and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath before starting a strange ritual.
A strange language flowed past Rauru's lips and drifted through the air. His words were loud and clear, echoing throughout the entire temple and shaking Link down to his bone. It was almost as though a God were speaking out in a soft and gentle voice… What manner of person or creature was Rauru?
A howling wind sounded through the Temple, but still Rauru's voice prevailed over the winds. He seemed to be begging the Goddesses for something, his face contorted in determination.
Among the loud noise, Link heard the sound of a voice… it was beautiful and silky, like the voice of a tiny flute fighting over wind. Link could almost not make out the words that were being said, yet they were there.
"It has been asked of us if we, the Goddesses, approve of the union of these two souls," the voice said, dominant over the cries of wind. "We have contemplated this match, and we do not approve."
Link's eyes widened considerably as he heard this. This could not be happening! Edward was a good and righteous young boy, so why would the Goddesses disapprove of such a union?
"Goddesses of Hyrule, I, Link Greene, ask of you your reasons for denying the union of these two souls! Edward is a righteous soul, why should you disagree?" Link shouted at the top of his voice. He just had to know why, even if it meant questioning the Goddesses.
"Dear, Sweet Child whom we have blessed profusely, we shall answer thy question. Know that the Princess Zelda has already made a pledge of love unto another man."
Shock coursed through Link's body like electricity. Who had Zelda pledged unto?
"Who has Her Highness pledged her love to, Holy Trio?" Link cried out above the winds.
"Ah, I see thou dost not remember thy own promise. The pledge of love was mutual, and spoken in the language of Ancient Hylian eleven years ago. Link, you have pledged thy love unto Zelda, and Zelda unto you. So long as the vow exists, neither of you will be able to marry another."
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