Raising The Stakes

by Eon

Chapter One: Shattering The Dream


Link relived the horror over and over again in his dreams, every night while he slept, or tried to. Strangely, it wasn't the horror of Faylore revealing her true self, but of Sora and Frat getting stuck in the building as it came crashing down. Each night he saw the building fall again and again, toppling into a cloud of dust and a pile of stone. Now, a month after it had happened he lay staring at the wall of his bedroom in Hyrule Castle, forcing himself to stay awake. He couldn't bear to watch it even once more.

The mixed wave of emotions he had felt when the building fell still nagged at him from a dark corner of his mind. He had felt immense grief, because, he had told himself then, they were his friends. But now, looking back, he realized it was not because they were his friends. As a matter of fact, none of the grief he had felt had even been for Frat. Oddly enough, it had all been for Sora. He told himself over and over again that it was because she had saved his life. But he could not bring himself to believe it.

With a frustrated sigh Link got out of bed and pulled on yesterday's shirt, rumpled but still clean. He didn't bother with his boots, just walked barefoot into the dark, silent hall. Poonta Kaytog was leaning against the wall, asleep on her feet. Link rested a hand on her shoulder and she jumped, instantly awake.

"Link!" Poonta exclaimed. "Your Majesty, I'm sorry for my lack of alertness. I did not mean to fall asleep."

Link smiled. "It's okay, Poonta. You're not used to night watches yet. But I feel safer having you by my door than anyone else."

"Thank you, Your Majesty." Poonta lowered her head. "I am at your service."

"Where is Lady Oliana?" Link asked.

"I believe she is in her bed. No one had reported her absence." Poonta replied.

"Very well. Carry on." Link nodded. "And try to stay awake this time."

Poonta grinned and slapped Link on the back. Link walked down the hall, paying no mind to the snoring guards of the supposed night watch. He was not surprised to find Oliana's room empty when he got there, since it was often empty at night. He knew exactly where she'd be, hiding away in her little wall niche watching the late night meeting of the council, led by his advisor Nicodemus. Link trusted Nicodemus, even though Oliana did not, but he let her continue her pointless mission anyway. He was too overwhelmed by his duties as King to bother as it was.

Instead Link walked outside to the barn, where Goldmoon was dozing on her feet as usual. He was sad to see Stalker in the stall next to her, looking lost and alone like an orphaned foal. The horse was a reminder of Sora, and how brave she had been. Link turned away and walked down the aisle to the last stall, which remained empty for as long as Link could remember. He knew no horse had been allowed in that stall since the death of his grandfather's great war horse, Epona. When he reached the stall Oliana was climbing out of a trap door in the floor. She started when she saw him, but remained frozen in place.

"L-link." Oliana stammered. "What are you doing awake?"

Link smiled wryly. "I could ask you the same question."

"Well I was, just um," Oliana paused, looking ashamed.

"It does not matter." Link sighed. "Nothing I do matters any more."

"It is Nicodemus!" Oliana exclaimed, grabbing Link's arm. "Link, you must believe me! He is no good! I believe he wishes to overthrow you!"

"You think too much." Link muttered bitterly.

Oliana's frustration with him grew. "Nothing you do matters anymore because you do not listen to the needs of your people! They need you to be a strong ruler, and yet you do not try! Where is that fighting spirit you had?"

"It died a month ago, when that building collapsed!" Link snapped. "I lost two of my best friends! The two people in this whole messed up world who could help me face the challenge that I know will come."

"I know what this is." Oliana said. "This is all about Faylore, isn't it? Link, it's time to get over that! Your people need you!"

"Why do you care?" Link demanded. "The only person you care about is yourself!"

Oliana looked at the ground. "Maybe that was true, once." Oliana said softly. "My father so greatly wished that I be wed to you, so we would be able to restore the Keep to the greatness it once knew. But I didn't want to. I did every thing I could to drive you off. And then papa died."

Oliana choked back a sob. She covered her face with her hands and started to cry silently. Immediately Link felt guilty for what he had said to her. He put his arms around her and held her until she quieted. Oliana looked up at him, her face tear streaked, and tried to smile.

"Now that Papa's gone, we had to sell the Keep." Oliana finished.

"I'm sorry, Oli." Link said. "I didn't mean to snap at you. There is just too much going on at the moment."

"I understand." Oliana said. "Try to get some sleep, Link. I fear that this challenge you speak of will indeed come soon."

"Whether it does or not, I've arrange for us to be married by my 16th birthday." Link announced.

Oliana stared at him. "What?"

"You heard me." Link said. "You're right, Oliana. I need to be a strong leader for my people. But I will need support, and I cannot think of a better person to give me support than you."

Link said nothing more, but turned and walked out of the barn. Oliana stared after him for a long time, before heading up to bed herself. She didn't understand why Link had changed his mind about their marrying, but she hoped it was for the good of the people of Hyrule. Otherwise she would have to find some way to refuse him.


Link was inside that old room, looking at Saba as she leaned over the cauldron, muttering worriedly. Link spied Endoch in a chair in the corner, complaining loudly about something or other. Link walked over to Saba and she looked up at him accusingly.

"Stupid boy!" Saba yelled. "You've made the wrong choice! Marrying Lady Oliana! Pah! Stupid, stupid boy!"

"What was I supposed to do?" Link demanded. "Oliana is the best choice! Faylore didn't work out, obviously, and Sora's dead." Link paused. "Not that I'd marry her anyway."

"She's not dead!" Saba snapped. "And I'm not saying you should marry her! That would be even stupider than marrying Oliana."

"She is too dead!" Link argued. "I saw the building collapse with my very own eyes! And she was in it at the time!"

"She was not!" Saba said, glaring. "She was not! Stupid boy! You know nothing!"

"Leave the boy alone, Saba." Endoch interrupted. "He's only a kid."

Saba turned on Endoch. "That may be so, but he is the King!"

"Shut up!" Link yelled. "It's not your business, what I decided to do with my future!"

"It is too our business!" Saba shouted. "We must make sure you do not choose the wrong path, or Hyrule is doomed!"

"Doomed by what?" Link demanded.

"You know very well what! Or should I say who?"

"Kyrissam is no threat." Link hissed.

"Not him." Saba said.

"Don't tell me you agree with Oliana." Link sighed. "That's pathetic. Nicodemus has been my father's trusted advisor for a long time. I'd trust him with my life."

"I wouldn't." Endoch muttered.

"SHUT UP!" Link screamed.

Suddenly he couldn't breathe. It was as if someone or something was choking him. Link stumbled backwards and suddenly he was awake, surrounded by terrible darkness. He heard a hissing sound and felt claws digging into his neck. Link fought feebly; he was pinned down so that he could barely move his arms or legs.

"Faylah, enough!" A familiar voice commanded. Abruptly the choking stopped.

"But Sammi!" Faylah whined. "I wanna kill him. The boy doesn't deserve to live."

"And he won't, for long." Kyrissam said.

"Get away from me." Link dug his fingers into the mattress beneath him.

"Sorry, my dear boy, but we need your blood to bring back Ganondorf." Kyrissam laughed.

"Yeah, so I've heard." Link muttered.

Faylah pulled Link out of bed and threw him into the wall. Kyrissam stood in the doorway, holding Poonta by the throat. The Gerudo girl looked at Link pleadingly. But Link could move, because Faylah grabbed him and tied his hands behind him. She smiled.

"My but you're a strong boy." Faylah purred. "Sammi, can't I play with him a bit before we kill him?"

Kyrissam glared at Link. "No you may not! Now let's go."

"Oh phoo!"

Faylah pouted but dragged Link to his feet and pushed out the door behind Kyrissam. Many of the night guard lay on the floor slain, blood staining the floor. Mylintha and Yzane, two Gerudos who were loyal to Kyrissam walked up to them. Yzane had Oliana thrown over his shoulder and Mylintha carried a succession of scrolls that Link knew were important to their mission. The dragged them through the bloody halls full of dead guards and out into the blackest night Link had seen in his whole entire life.

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