Chapter XI - Detection
My dreams had steadily worsened since Link's departure.
Now that he was nearly two hundred leagues away, the loneliness was inconsolable; he had never left my side since he became my guardian.
I busied myself by tending to the gardens and studying in the library, and even attending my daily lessons as such religion and etiquette that I usually missed.
I also requested that Impa teach me basic Sheikah healing skills, for they involved magic and were hardly known. Needless to say, they were very powerful techniques.
She was reluctant, but obliged me on the promise I would keep it a secret.
I had already studied some Hylian healing practices from Healer Eurick and decided to combine both studies for greater understanding.
However, there was no escaping the night.
Though I was not old enough to attend court—my eighteenth year commemoration was not for a month—I had heard that the lords and ladies were busy with gossip since the incident that occurred naught three days after the soldiers left.
After being informed of the siege of Crescent Harbor by the Gerudo, Nabooru herself traveled to the castle with a cavalry of her own and formally apologized. She informed us that she had no knowledge of their dissentious actions and claimed the rebellious Gerudo lived in a small village near the outskirts of the Gerudo lands for they refused to acknowledge Nabooru as chieftain.
Though she had not expected such a dramatic rebellion as this, she did not excuse their betrayal. I admired her determination to set things right and aid in the recapture of the harbor.
My father agreed to allow her passage and she left that same hour to Crescent Harbor.
Three more days passed and there was still no news.
On the morning of the seventh day, I awoke with an awful, gnawing feeling within me. The marking on my hand began to tingle and did not cease the entirety of the day.
I raised an eyebrow at this, but ignored it and the accompanying uneasiness.
I grew too impatient for any news of Link and I quickly dressed and hurried down to the dining hall to ask my father if a messenger had come yet.
"There is much to do, Zelda; can this not wait?" he grumbled as he stirred sugar into his tea.
I remained where I was, determined for an answer. "A simple 'yea' or 'nay' would suffice."
He sighed. "Do not speak of this to anyone until I have informed the council."
I quickly nodded my head.
"Regrettably, there was a battle… a measurable one at that. We were victorious in the end, but the casualties are still being sorted. The Gerudo are being escorted back to their lands by Nabooru herself by the coastal route. However, she has agreed to allow us to try the woman who led the siege as long as she is present at the hearing."
I took a deep breath. "…And what of Lieutenant Ordon?"
"…There was no word from him."
Disappointed, I looked to the floor.
"Do not worry yourself, Zelda. I am sure he is alright. He is a strong lad."
I nodded and turned away. "Thank you for informing me," I said quietly. My appetite escaped me in that moment and I left the dining hall. I panicked slightly from within as I shut the door.
If Link had truly been safe, then would he not have sent word? Endless possibilities surfaced in my mind, tormenting me with visions of Link's death.
I stopped in the middle of hall, still filled with the darkness of the morning, and leaned against a small window only to find fog hovering below on the grounds. I pressed my forehead against the cold panes of the glass and sighed.
Once again, I was thinking too much on the matter. Link had more important things to be concerned over than my own fears. I simply needed to have faith in him to keep his word.
"I will always come for you."
I stood against the window for some time, listening to the joyful chirping of the birds outside and my heart lightened in the slightest.
I was not being of use to anyone by drowning in my sorrows, and decided I would distract myself with my studies. I had spent many days engrossed in my findings but I had yet to find anything of significance. Perhaps this day would lead to a discovery…
Three hours passed in the library before my head began to ache. I drummed my fingers impatiently on the table as I read through the many volumes of documents.
I had searched the ancient writings sections many times and still found nothing to explain the markings upon my hand and Link's. I stood up from my chair and wandered aimlessly about, glancing at random books along the way.
Soon enough, I came upon the Hylian lore section. Most were made-up stories written for entertainment, whilst others were written for allegorical purposes.
I picked up a particularly old, tattered book with a red binding and curiously flipped through it. It was written in ancient Hylian, so I skimmed the words, hardly taking any interest. I then came upon a piece entitled "The Princess of Destiny and the Hero of Time." I turned a few pages and saw a picture of the revered Triforce; my breath stilled. On the next page, the story continued:
The Princess of Destiny and the Hero of Time, woven together by a bend time's river. In love, they came to be with one another… a deep bond that could not be broken. Objections to a union were great, as were the forces attempting to tear them. Yet… they would not yield. The Triforce at their hands was proof they were chosen. Though bestowed with courage and wisdom… by the hands of the gods themselves …'twas no such gifts that created such a bond.
Fortitude of their love, it kept them.
It took some time to translate, but as I finished, I could only stare at the characters with wide eyes.
Triforce at their hands.
I hesitantly looked at my own.
The evidence led me to believe I had found my answer, but…
It had to be impossible. The passage spoke of gifts from the Goddesses, and such blessing were only bestowed in the ancient times…
I marked the page with the sewn in ribbon and took it to the table. Setting it down, I flipped through it again to see if it revealed anything further about the mark of the Triforce.
I neared the end and grumbled inwardly about another misleading myth, but at the very end, a particularly old piece of parchment was inserted inside. The scrawl was elegant, most likely written by royalty and my interest increased ten-fold.
Slowly translating once again, it read:
1802 of the Twilight Age, 23rd of summer:
Blessed I have been, being called of a daughter of Nayru. Alas, my power can do nothing alone. I am a prisoner in my own parapets of stone.
As day and night meet, the light is blinding. My kingdom has become consumed by creatures of night.
A shadow draws near.
Time has no meaning whilst I wait for the son of Farore. The recesses of sleep reveal the threat before me: a usurper of Din will attempt to seize my gift and shall reign in wickedness.
As bearer of wisdom, patience is needed as I wait for the bearer of courage. My bond to them, stronger through the passing days it becomes for the mark I was born with remains unchanging.
Alas, my despair remains…I am lost. Will it not be revealed how wisdom shall merge with courage? The defeat of power's cruelty depends upon this, as spoken by divine tongue to me.
Only the grace of our holy makers shall reveal my destiny.
The book fell from my hands, landing on the floor with a dull thud.
I was shivering… it was as if I could feel the lamenting of this mysterious author. Her words pierced through me, and I did not know why I sympathized so deeply with her account.
Things such as fate and destiny were not to be believed, so why did these written words feel so strikingly familiar?
I was shaken… nigh frightened…
As if something terribly important was forgotten… and never should have been.
"My kingdom has become consumed by creatures of night. A shadow draws near."
I released the breath I held and picked up the book from off the floor.
Then I decided to seek out Commander Virnen; I needed to know more concerning the beast sightings.
I headed to the drawing room, hoping the commander was meeting with his advisors. I passed the many hanging tapestries and pieces of art I had so often noticed and as I rounded the corner leading to the drawing room, a particular painting of a silhouetted Hylian man and woman holding one another's hands caught my eye. I stopped and looked over the details of the depiction.
The man and woman faced away from me, both with swords in hand, facing the background determinedly. A dreary landscape lay in front of them, riddled with swirling masses of dark clouds with weak light piercing through them. Against the light and shadow there was a distorted dark figure behind the clouds. Its size was enormous and horns extended from the top of its silhouette.
I stepped closer, narrowing my eyes.
I noticed an odd shadow was cast behind the man, and at both the man and woman's hands that held their blades… a shape like the Triforce, glowed dimly.
My eyes widened.
My mind began to turn very quickly, yet through all my jumbled thoughts… I had no conclusion, only mere pieces.
The Hylians in the painting faced a shadow of evil and the depiction was nigh a manifestation of the journal entry inserted in the book. Was the woman in the painting perhaps the one who wrote it?
This eerie painting's name merely read Legend of Twilight, and by its faded colors, it was apparent that its date was old indeed.
My curiosity was almost overwhelming, and I was determined to solve this mystery.
I sighed. The matter of the marking, the beast, and my dreams may have once appeared trivial, but now my skepticism was waning.
Avoid it no longer, ignorance will not bring relief.
I wished there was someone to voice my concerns to, but I could not help but think that my instructors might think me mad. Surely there was one in the castle who was familiar with such ancient history?
I would find out the truth, if only to prove to myself that I was not going mad.
To my dismay, Commander Virnen was no where to be found.
As I made my way back to the library, I came upon Minister Shad, his arms full of rolled up maps.
"Ah, good afternoon, Your Highness! How do you fare this day?"
"Well, thank you; and yourself, minister?"
"Very well, Your Highness, very well, thank you." Minister Shad then clumsily pushed up his round glasses, dropping a few scrolls as he did so. "Blast it all…" He flipped a stray curl from his forehead and knelt down to pick them up.
I moved to help him.
"Oh please, allow me!" He declined.
"It is no trouble at all," I smiled. I handed a few scrolls back to him and his face shaded.
He then cleared his throat and righted himself.
"May I ask what you are studying?"
Minster Shad grinned. "I have been restudying the Fallon region for future expeditions. Why, not a few weeks ago, ancient carvings were found in the northwest caves!"
"How fortunate," I commented.
"Indeed! Oh that reminds me, I must remember to find that Sheikah hieroglyphics translator…"
"I could ask Lady Impa of its whereabouts if you wish," I offered.
"Oh, very kind of you, but I'm afraid I've already asked too much of Lady Impa and I don't dare provoke her further," Minister Shad mumbled.
I suppressed a smile. "A shame."
He then sighed sadly. "My deepest pardons, Your Highness, I would very much like to continue on this topic, but His Majesty called for a meeting later, and now is the only time I have to use freely…"
"Yes, of course. I did not mean to keep you."
"Not at all. Please excuse me." He then bid me a good afternoon and had only walked a few steps away before I realized… his love for studying might extended to the things I sought answers to…
"Ah, please wait one moment, minister!" I called to him.
He turned as he pushed his glasses up once again. "Yes, Your Highness…?"
"There is something I wish to ask you." I took a hesitant breath and continued. "In all your studies… have you ever come across anything that concerns… beasts?"
Minister Shad shook his head. "To answer… would be difficult."
I waited for him to continue.
"All that has been written… it passes their existence off as mere folktales."
"I have read some of the books that contain sketches and depictions…"
Minister Shad chuckled. "Our ancestors had vivid imaginations. Hyrule has endured many dark ages and much chaos. I believe that many of the beasts were made up to protect treasures and land… such things as that. But if beasts ever did truly exist, they became extinct long ago."
"Worry not, Your Highness. The claims may be mere large animals, diseased or rabid. Why would beasts suddenly appear after so long?" Minister Shad smiled half-heartedly.
"…Why so indeed…" It would seem that my father had not informed many of the counselors; why was it kept a secret? I knew what I saw; did he perhaps not believe me?
Minister Shad cleared his throat and I shook my head.
"There is one more thing," I hinted.
He nodded for me to continue.
"Are you familiar with the term foresight?"
He tilted his head to the side in thoughtfulness, staring at the ceiling. "The ability to see things before they come to pass; why do you ask?"
"Well I…" I paused. No, I could not tell him I suspected what I dreamt was real; he did not even believe that the increasing sightings of beasts were true. "What do you think of it?"
"Her Highness has been delving into deep matters indeed."
I ignored his slight quibble. "Do you think foresight possible?"
He did not answer for a few moments. "Yes… and no." He then shifted his weight and began to talk quickly. "I believe such a gift was given to sages, priests and priestesses, hundreds and hundreds of years ago."
"And you do not think one could be blessed with that gift now…?"
"Certainly not! None these days are worthy of such a gift. Besides, one must be born with it."
"Simply said, there is no need for foresight. We are at peace, why would the Goddesses give needlessly?
I furrowed my brows. I understood his words…
"…Needlessly," I repeated quietly.
…But I felt that his answer was not right. How could I know for certain?
I quickly cleared my throat. "Thank you for your insight. Forgive me for taking up some of your time. I would be delighted to hear of your findings in the future."
"It is always riveting to discuss history with Her Highness!" He bowed and then excused himself, leaving me alone in the corridor.
I sighed inwardly. Even the Minister of Religion believed such things were impossible…
The weight pressed upon me did not alleviate. If anything, I felt it more than ever and a dull ache formed within me.
The matter of my dreams was becoming tiresome, but the tug I felt compelled me to continue my search, no matter how much I desired to forget the matter entirely.
Needing respite, I headed to the ward for air.
I hummed to myself as I made my way there, trying to clear my mind. Reaching the sanctity of the ward, I sat upon the edge of the water fountain and removed my shoes. I turned to face the cascades and slowly slipped my feet into the pool of water. It was rather chilly, but that was to be expected since spring had just begun.
Letting my head rest atop my shoulder, I wondered what Link was tending to this very moment.
Did he think of me as well?
I hoped the soldiers were treating him justly. Though he did not appear anxious when he departed, I knew he held misgivings about accepting rank of lieutenant.
But mostly… the doubts were of him himself.
I sighed; the more I dwelled on him, the more uneasy I became.
Though the mind was easily distracted, there was no reprieve for the heart.
I lifted my feet from the water, the coldness becoming more irritating than refreshing and left the fountain to walk freely through the grass. I tried to ignore the dull ache from within me, listening to the singing of the wind, and the buzzing of insects, but to no avail.
Had the illness relapsed?
I lay down in a bed of moonlight flowers and watched the grey clouds slowly sweep across the sky. Grimacing, I curled into myself and the ache dulled ever so slightly. My lids grew heavy and soon I drifted to sleep.
I expected to appear upon the beach, but to my surprise…
I was in the throne room.
Hundreds of mirrors lined the chamber, and as I looked about, I was the only one to be found. I walked towards the throne, wondering why I was here.
My footsteps echoed hollowly, but I felt I was not alone.
I could see my reflection following me out f the corner of my eye…
But it did not move in accordance with my movements.
I stopped to fully face the mirrors and found myself staring back blankly.
And before my eyes, my hair slowly burned white, my clothing grew old and tattered and I seemed to shrink, my body bowing forward. My eyes became milky, my skin spotted and loose.
I put a hand to my mouth; a hag stood before me, ugly and decrepit.
I recoiled and the hag simply stared at me, accusingly.
"You have not heeded my warnings, useless child."
I couldn't speak; the hag's voice was rasped with age, yet was commanding.
"Do not tell me you are so ignorant…?"
"…Who… who are you?"
"Your attempts to listen have been half-hearted."
"Who are you?"
The hag's face twisted grotesquely, and pointed a gnarled finger at my breast.
"What you will become… if you do not accept your destiny."
"…Such things do not exist…"
"More will suffer… just as he."
"…Of what do you speak?
The hag sneered, pointing towards the throne.
I looked and saw a dark figure, sitting upon my father's chair.
"Dire consequences await you down the path of ignorance."
I couldn't take my eyes of the dark figure. A wave of fear overtook me, more powerful than the visions of death and destruction. The figure moved suddenly, its form shifting into a cloud shadow, slithering towards me.
I raised my arms to shield myself, yet still I was enveloped by the shadow.
"..Alone, forever in darkness, cursed to live with a tainted heart," the hag's voice echoed from all around. "Poor, faithless child, such weakness does not deserve the crown."
"Stop, please stop this!" I stumbled around, trying to fight my way out of the darkness.
Then… piercing, golden eyes appeared before me.
I cried out and stumbled back, shutting my eyes in repulsion. "I beg you, no more!"
The hag cackled. "There will be no redemption." Slowly, the laughter died away.
I could hear nothing, yet I dared not open my eyes. I was too frightened of those eyes… those eyes that threaten to destroy me in fear.
"Do not give in," a voice suddenly spoke.
I knew it, but could not place it.
"Let not your doubts sway you with their wicked tongue."
It was my own…
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