Chapter 8: The Adventure Begins
"How are we to smuggle you from the castle, Your Highness?" Link asked, his voice confused. The two of them stood in the main courtyard, hidden behind a large foliage sculpture. Beside them, two hefty bags waited to be towed along with the pair.
The bright morning sun shone down on Zelda's golden curls, making it sparkle. Truly she looked like a Goddess, golden hair spilling down her back in curls, blue eyes sparkling with mirth and every Goddess carved feature smiling. Zelda was radiant, even though she was wearing the dress of a simple peasant, every curve accentuated. In fact, she looked even more beautiful than she did in the palace, where she would be decked out in the fanciest, most elaborate dresses, her hair put up in the latest fashions, and her face bare of the heavy makeup.
Zelda frowned at Link, sighing with disappointment. Turning her gaze upon the guard sleeping at the gate, the mischievous expression returned to her eyes. "First of all, Link, we do not want anyone to discover who I am along the road. It would cause Vandellus to react, and our travels would be much slower with a Royal retinue in our way. You are to address me as Zelda, understood?"
"Yes, High-, I mean, Zelda," Link quickly corrected himself as Zelda sent a death glare his way. It was going to be a very, very long trip…
"Now, you are going to escort me out on your arm. No one will recognize me like this, will they?" Zelda asked, motioning to herself. "After all, I am always wearing elaborate clothes, so why would I wear simple clothes such as these if I were a Princess?"
"But Zelda, what if they ask why you, a simple peasant, are with me?" Link asked, still confused.
"You will say that I am your sister," Zelda replied, linking arms with Link.
The young soldier seemed to shiver at her touch. It sent pleasant chills running through the length of his body, and caused his face to grow unbearably red.
"Your Highness… you are as old as I, and it is known that Father does not have another child," Link muttered, stating the obvious.
"Oh dear, you are quite right," Zelda murmured, placing a hand thoughtfully to her chin in thought. Her beautiful face screwed in contemplation, her foot tapping the lush grass as she sifted through her plans. It took a moment or two before Zelda finally smiled and laughed. "Alright, then while we travel, I will be your wife."
"My WHAT?" Link shouted, causing the guard to jump up in alarm and look about wildly for the source of the unearthly screech. His wife? It was worse enough that he had… feelings for her, but now she wanted to pretend to be something so, so… intimate?
"Hush, before half the ground hears you!" Zelda said, clapping a hand to Link's mouth. "Yes, I am your wife. Heavens, Link, there are some who are as old as us and they already have children! Pretending to be married will let us look a little less suspicious, will it not?"
Link's face by now had turned a beautiful tomato red. Now that he thought on it, he would much rather Zelda pretend to be his sister than his wife! But it would be a lot less suspicious, as Zelda had so kindly pointed out, for a husband and wife to journey together, than a brother and sister.
"Dear Link, your face is crimson!" Zelda laughed, staring at her friend's incredulous expression. After her laughing had given way to giggles, Zelda smiled, grabbing her bag in one hand and Link's arm with the other. "Come now, it cannot be that hard to pretend to be married, can it?"
"B-but Zelda," Link muttered, looking at her with wide eyes. The two stared at each other for a moment before Link sighed resignedly. "Oh, very well. Wait a moment, there is still a chance that the guards might recognize you so…"
Taking himself from Zelda's grasp, Link bent down and rummaged through his sack. After a few moments of pulling out crumpled tunics and various sword sharpening stones, Link brought forth his black cloak. Taking it, he draped it about Zelda's shoulders and then pulled the hood over her head.
Upon feeling the heavy fabric on her, Zelda began to feel a bit light headed. The tunic smelled of crushed pine and springwater… a pure, fresh scent that only lingered on one individual. Link, her Link… The cloak, despite its large bulkiness, made her feel safe, just as she did in Link's embrace when they were children.
"You have a touch of cold, Zelda," Link said, smiling lightly. "Your voice is so hoarse that you cannot speak, and you cannot bear to be without warmth."
As if to play along with his story, Zelda gave a light cough, her smile visible to Link's eyes, making him almost blush bright red again.
Hoisting his pack onto his shoulder, he held out his arm to Zelda, who took it willingly, and set off toward the guard.
The guard awoke once Link gave a loud clearing of his throat. The poor man's armor clashed together rustily as he once again rushed to salute his superior.
"S-Sir Link, what might I do for you today, Sir?" the guard stuttered.
"Lower the gate, I must be going," Link replied, staring daggers.
The guard once again stumbled off toward the tower, calling out to the people within to turn the turbine so that Sir Link might cross.
As the heavy wooden gate creaked down, the guard returned to his post, staring curiously at Zelda, who shook slightly on Link's arm, afraid of being caught.
"Who is this, Sir?" the guard asked, nodding his head toward Zelda.
Link, conscious of Zelda's nails digging uncomfortably into his arm, flinched as he spoke. "This is my wife, Zelda Greene."
The guard smiled, laughing merrily at the couple. "Ah! Are you named after Her Highness, Lady Greene?"
"She has a touch of the cold, so she cannot speak," Link quickly said. "But yes, she was named after Her Majesty. In my eyes, she is as beautiful, if not more so than the Princess herself."
"How long you been married, Sir Link?" the guard asked.
"Oh, I married before I returned, about a month before," Link said, "I wanted to tell Father, but I didn't know how he would react. Besides, I want my Zelda looking perfect when she meets my Father. You know how hard of a judge he is."
"Aye, that I do," the guard murmured. The drawbridge came down with a thundering crash, startling the guard from his reverie and sending him back to stiff attention. "Well Sir, I wish you and Lady Greene a fine day."
"Thank you, you as well," Link said, smiling and gently leading Zelda. Waving, the two started off across the bridge with great haste. As they rounded the corner, out of the castle's sight, Zelda tore off the hood and began to laugh.
Link stared at her, eyebrow lifted in amusement as they continued down the streets, Zelda laughing and drawing attention to them.
"I don't believe how easy that was," Zelda said, smiling. "If I had known it was that easy to sneak out of the palace, I would have had my cousin dress me up as a servant and convince the guards as you did. Although," she turned a quick glance upon him, "They seem scared of you, Link."
"Strike terror by intimidation," Link simply whispered in response. After a moment of silence Zelda spoke up.
"So what are we going to do?"
"We head to Kakariko Village. By foot, we should reach it by noon," Link responded, continuing through the busy plaza, ignoring the calls of merchants, "We stay there the night, and in the morning, we get horses and head north toward the Silver Mountains. It will take six days to reach it, provided there are no distractions on the way and we cover good ground."
"Then let us walk," Zelda said, tightening her grip on Link's arm. "After all, I do love to walk."
Link sat at the counter of a musty tavern, a dirty mug filled with brown slop before him. Beside him, Zelda sat, sipping a glass of wine.
The Tavern was a small, dimly lit place. Small tables and chairs of dark colors were cramped about the tiny space, and pipe smoke drifted through the air, giving the place a hazy appearance. The smells of alcohol, smoke, vomit, and blood mixed through the air and made Link almost want to upchuck the contents of his poor stomach. About them, men that reeked of beer sat, gambling, mumbling, and doing crazy stunts that they wouldn't remember tomorrow when they woke up with a bad headache. Truly, the place was a pigsty.
Still, Link and Zelda had managed to secure two separate rooms (much to their relief) that smelled relatively clean. The price was fair, and a good deal lower than any other place, despite the terrible appearance. Believe it or not, some places were worse.
As he sipped the muck in his glass, Link was vaguely aware that every single man in the room had their greedy little eyes upon Zelda's beautiful visage. Instead of drinking in their alcohol, they drunk in the gorgeous features of a living Goddess. The young soldier could only guess what dirty thoughts were on the mind of these hooligans.
The only person seemingly uninterested in them was a hooded person. Their face hidden from view, they held a tiny book in their bandaged hands, reading it slowly, savoring every bit. Even more interestingly, a large sword, the size of Link's whole body, lay sheathed against the wall. The black lacquered sheath glittered in the dim light, the shimmering blue jewel on the pommel twinkled in the dreary setting.
The wielder was unaware of Link's glances though, since they seemed totally engrossed in their book. Somehow though, they gave off an aura of remarkable power. Almost like a sleeping giant was waiting to be aroused from a centuries' long sleep and wreak havoc upon the world.
Link's thoughts were broken as he heard the voice of a man beside him.
"Hello there, pretty," the man murmured, leaning against the counter and staring at Zelda. He smiled, teeth missing and some blackening. His coat buttons looked as though they were about to pop, Link noted.
Zelda simply stared blankly into space, ignoring the man's advances and drinking her wine quietly. Mentally Link cheered Zelda on, much to his own surprise.
"How's about you and I go around town…?" the man asked, smiling his toothless grin. He reached out and caressed Zelda's face with a slimy hand.
"Leave me, Sir," Zelda said, slapping the man's hand off and then wiping the spot vigorously as though a germ had touched her lovely skin.
"Come 'un now, Lovely, come with me!" The man said, grabbing Zelda's wrist and jerking her around.
Link found himself suddenly standing before the man, glaring menacingly into his eyes.
"Hands off my wife," he said coldly, the tone so menacing that Link didn't even know he could sound as such.
If the poor fool wasn't intoxicated, he would've known that the glare that Link was giving him now meant that the soldier wasn't afraid to kill him. Sadly, he was intoxicated, so the man simply smiled, pushing his face in Link's, his reeking breath making Link want to cut his nose off his face.
"Make me." With those two words, the man punched Link across the face with all his strength.
With the contact, Link's head rolled violently back, blood spewing from his nose.
Zelda cried out in an anguished gasp, her eyes widening considerably as Link's blood fell across her face. In the corner, the person looked up from their book, closing it shut and placing it upon their table.
Link slowly turned his gaze back upon the man, his cold blue eyes bursting into violent flames. Anger coursed through his blood like venom, and made his arms shake violently as he fought to contain himself.
"A pompous pretty boy can't even fight to defend his honor," the man said, smirking at Link's expression. "Your wife must be ashamed to call you 'er 'usband. You're a failure, boy, a failure!"
That was it! Link's eyes seemed to go wild with rage as he threw his arm back for a punch. Putting all of his hatred into it, the punch hit the man squarely in the jaw, sending him flying backwards and crashing into a table.
Men from all around the bar saw their companion fall, and suddenly grew roudy. Blood went flying as each man began to wail on each other. Soon enough, the drunken man was up again, and he turned back on Link, his jaw hanging from its socket.
Link, still fueled by anger, continued on with his little slugfest.
The fighting carried on for quite a while, Zelda screaming at Link to gather his wits about him, but still nothing could pull them from their angers.
As the drunk was about to throw a large wallop directly to Link's nose and break it once and for all, a bandaged hand came up and grabbed it.
The hooded person stood before the man, the man's arm firmly in their grasp. Turning their head upon the crowd, Link saw fiery blue eyes, even fiercer than his.
"STOP, YOU FOOLS!" The voice, strong, angry, and chilling, carried through the tavern, and instantly each man dropped their bloody fists and stared at the person.
"Causing one man's blood to fall from them is not satisfying, " the person said, "You aught to be ashamed of yourselves! Would your wives, or the Holy Trio want you to be doing such? Falling into a drunken stupor and then waking up with no memory of the night before? You could kill each other!"
The voice boomed, and instantly, each man dropped their gaze and looked down at bloody fists, ashamed, for once, for what they had done.
Link stood, stumbling. He clasped his hand to his bloody nose in a futile attempt to stop the bleeding, but it only seemed to make it worse. His mind though, wasn't on the pain, but on the cloaked person before them. Who was it that spoke with such authority and confidence? That made total strangers be shaken with the depth of their crimes?
"And you," the person continued, turning their gaze upon the man who's arm she held in a fierce grip. "You are the worst of them all… You attempted to take another man's wife. Go to the Temple of Time and pray that you are forgiven for your offenses."
The man, still in a deep stupor, simply smiled, the same crazy smile that he gave Link after the young warrior had glared at him. "Who are you to tell me what I can and can't do?"
Just as the man was about to hit them, the person took their other hand, drew it into a fist, and hit the drunk squarely in the face.
The impact sent the man flying through the air and crashing into the far Tavern wall.
Every person, especially Link and Zelda, stared in amazement as the person, simply acting as though nothing had happened, drew back their hood and casually wiped sweat from their brow.
Shoulder length brown hair cascaded freely out, and features inhumanly beautiful came into view. It was a woman, no older than Link and Zelda that had sent a grown man reeling through the air in a display of strength not of this world.
Her blue eyes sparkled with inhuman wisdom and power, emphasizing every delicate feature of her face. Her countenance was calm and yet somehow kind, and her very aura was pleasing and friendly.
The young woman's gaze averted from the men to Link and Zelda. She smiled pleasantly as she walked closer to them, setting their fears at ease.
"It was a foolish thing for you to attack them, young warrior," the woman said, her voice melodious and silvery. Her piercing blue eyes stared into Link's and then fell to his broken nose and the cuts about his face. "I know that it is hard to resist the temptation of anger, believe me, I have felt it too often myself…"
Link, although it hurt, made a valiant effort to smile. His jaw throbbed uncomfortably, making him wince and squirm in pain.
"Hold still for a moment…" the woman said, lifting a hand to Link's face.
Her very touch was gentle, sending waves of warmth down Link's body. It was as though he himself was being protected, almost as though this stranger was his mother…
The woman closed her eyes, chanting softly in a strange, flowing language.
Almost instantly Link felt something happening. His cuts stung slightly as they knitted themselves back together, his nose hardening back into its normal shape. What was this woman doing?
A few moments later, the woman lowered her hand, opening her eyes and smiling at Link's cuts, nodding.
Placing a hand on his face, Link felt smooth, uncut, unscarred skin. His nose was no longer shattered to pieces… It was as though the brawl had never occurred.
There was only one answer to this… the woman had used magic… and power magic at that.
Zelda was the first to speak out, even though she was still in shock from the event that had occurred a few moments ago. Smiling gently, she extended a hand out to the woman.
"I'm Zelda Greene, and this is my husband, Link Greene," Zelda said, "We're passing through Kakariko."
The woman smiled, taking Zelda's hand in hers. "My name is Leto, a traveling mercenary, from Kokira."
The moment their hands met, time stopped and the world seemed to watch. It was a moment that would change both Link and Zelda's lives.
Elsewhere, someone laughed in amusement, smiling as this development took place. Beside them, a pair of lamp like eyes watched in silent waiting…
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