Raising The Stakes

by Eon

Chapter Six: All's Fair in Hate and War


Link paced restlessly inside the cell, occasionally glancing out the window to the rising sun, squinting his eyes against the bright red the flooded in through the bars. Everyone was asleep, Poonta sprawled out in front of the cell door, Frat and Oliana on the benches, and Sora curled up on the pile of blankets in the corner. <I>I wish I could sleep,</I> Link thought. <I>But then, with Frat snoring so loudly I'm surprised anyone in the castle can sleep.</I> Link sighed and mentally scolded himself for being so ungrateful. His friends were only trying to help him.

Link turned to the door and grasped the bars tightly, resting his cheek against the cool wooden door. He heard stirring behind him and glanced over his shoulder. Sora was awake and climbing off the pile of blankets, her hair tousled and her bright eyes half closed. She walked over to him and rested a hand lightly on his shoulder, the other one resting on the bars beside his own.

"What are you doing up?" Link asked, keeping his voice low.

"Are you kidding? Who could sleep with Frat snoring so loud?" Sora shook her head and sighed.

Link laughed. "Has he always snored like that?"

"Not that I can remember." Sora said. "But I don't remember a whole lot yet."

"Yeah…what I want to know, though," Link went on, "Is just who does he think he is? That's my fiancé he's getting so cozy with."

"She is?" Sora looked startled. "Is this a new development."

"Actually yes." Link answered. "I arranged it just before Faylah and Kyrissam came here. I figured, well, you were dead and Oliana is the best choice. Might as well get on with it."

"Maybe you won't have to now." Sora said. "If we defeat Kyrissam and Faylah, and they're no longer a problem, then what's the rush? You should be allowed your freedom."

"You're a Princess. You know how it works." Link said. "Hey look at us. We were originally betrothed when we were five."

"True." Sora nodded. "But that was for peace. Now that's not going to happen…"

"Are you okay with that?" Link asked.

Sora frowned. "I suppose. I wish our people could be at peace, but hopefully there is another way. If not, then maybe our children…"

"You plan on having children?" Link laughed.

"Maybe…someday…when I'm older." Sora shrugged.

"I have to have an heir by the time I'm 21." Link informed her. "It's policy. And I have to be married by the time I'm 20."

"What if you're not?" Sora asked.

Link shrugged. "One of my cousins would become King, I guess."

"So why don't you just let it happen?" Sora suggested, her eyes sparkling brightly. "Then we could go on adventures with Frat and Poonta…and Oliana too, if she's not married."

"I can't do that." Link said. "My Dad would be disappointed."

"That's not true." Sora said. "Your parents would be proud of you no matter what you chose to do. That's why they're your parents."

Link smiled and ruffled her hair, quickly pulling back his hand when she tried to grab it. He laughed and turned his back to her, lifting his hand out of her reach. Sora kicked him in the back of the knee and Link lost his balance and fell, pulling Sora with him. At that moment, Frat woke up, opening his eyes slowly. He looked at them curiously for a moment, before shaking his head and closing his eyes again.

"I'm not even going to ask." Frat muttered as he fell back asleep.

Sora and Link looked at each other, both holding back laughter. Frat's mouth fell open and he began to snore again, which jogged some giggles loose from Sora's tightened throat. Link tousled her hair again and eyed her mischievously. Then they both burst out laughing.


"Aren't you going to wish me luck?" Frat asked Faylah, smiling at her charmingly.

Faylah rolled her eyes. "Please. Get away from me, little boy."

Sora glanced at Link and made a gagging noise deep in her throat. It set her friends off, and they laughed, nudging each other with their elbows and slapping each other on the back. They all felt better after a good night's sleep, although being locked up in the cell so much of the time was driving them slightly insane. Kyrissam and Faylah stood in the field holding horses and when Kyrissam finally spoke up, his voice was on the edge of madness. <I>We must be driving him crazy,</I> Sora thought, giggling.

Frat grabbed the reins of the horse they had provided him, which was a flea bitten gray color, about 15 hands high with very short legs. When Frat had settled into the saddle Sora noticed that his legs hung almost down to the horse's knees and she was appalled. <I>How can they make such a small animal do this kind of work?</I> Sora thought furiously. <I>It's torture!<I> Sora stomped over to Kyrissam and looked up into his cold blue eyes, her hands clenched into fists at her sides.

"How can you make that poor animal work?" Sora demanded. "He's old and he's too short for this!"

"Are you saying the horse is a shorty?" Kyrissam asked, smiling.

Sora stopped, a bemused expression on her face. "Well…yeah… guess."

"Hmm…I see…takes one to know one." Kyrissam said. "Isn't that how the old saying goes?"

Why you…ooo! I hate you!" Sora glared at him, her fingers curled into angry claws.

"All's fair in love and war, sweetheart." Kyrissam said, lifting her face to look into her eyes. "You're so pretty. It's too bad I'm going to have to kill you."

Sora spat in his face. "Pig!"

"Now Princess," Kyrissam said, wiping the spit off his face. "You'll have to learn not to do that. Didn't your parents teach you any manners?"

Kyrissam let her go, throwing her to the ground. Sora landed unceremoniously in a mud puddle left from the rains last night and she made a growling sound at Kyrissam's back. When he didn't turn around Sora clambered to her feet and walked over to where Frat sat upon the shot horse. She grabbed the stirrup and pulled her brother out of the saddle.

"You're not riding that!" Sora said. "Not while I'm standing here!"

"Oof!" Frat grunted as he landed on the ground. "Geez Sora. What's eating you?"

"I am so sick of them!" Sora snapped. "It's bad enough they have to treat us like dirt, but I will not tolerate them treating this poor horse badly!"

"So who is the boy supposed to ride? The wind?" Kyrissam sneered.


Sora reached under the folds of her tunic and pulled out her harp. She ran her fingers across the strings once, then began to play. There was a scream from the direction of the barn, the snapping of rope, and then the sound of pounding hooves. A black horse came flying towards them and Link recognized him as Stalker, the horse Sora had ridden when Link had first met her. He came to a dead stop in front of Sora, who put her harp back into it's hiding place.

"Stalker is one of the best horses in Hyrule." Sora told them. "He's also a good size for Frat. He'll ride this horse or no other. We know you cheated during the race, if we call it, you lose."

"Fine!" Kyrissam snapped. "Fine. The boy can ride the damned hell horse."

Frat transferred the gray horse's saddle to Stalker's back and mounted, settling into the saddle. Sora jumped up onto the gray's back and handed Frat his bow and quiver. Frat slung the quiver over his shoulder, knocked an arrow, an lined himself up with the start line. He winked at Oliana, who smiled back. Sora rolled her eyes and stopped the gray next to Link.

"Do you think he can do it?" Link asked.

"He's good." Sora said, her eyes on Frat. "Real good. If anyone can do it, he can."

Link watched as Frat kicked Stalker into a gallop. He loosed his first arrow and it hit the target square on. Quickly Frat grabbed a second arrow, knocked it, loosed and let it fly. It hit the edge of the second target and stuck deep in. He knocked another arrow, missed the third target completely, hit the fourth target near the middle, and the last one right in the center. Then Frat circled Stalker around and rode back.

"Not bad." Link murmured. "Not bad…"

The companions watched nervously as Kyrissam rode onto the course. Both he and Frat had two rounds of arrows, no more. Kyrissam hit all the targets directly in the middle except for the last one, which he missed entirely. He circled his night horse around and round back, leaning down to kiss Faylah deeply when he stopped. Frat rolled his eyes, knocked and arrow, and headed for the course once again.

"I don't understand." Link said. "How is he supposed to win now?"

"Only second round shots counts." Sora explained.

"What happens if they both get the same score?" Link asked.


Frat rode carefully, knocking arrows as fast as he could. He missed only one of the targets and rode back, head held high in triumph. Sora leaned over to hug him and tousled his hair playfully. Frat grinned and dismounted, handing the reins to Poonta. Oliana ran over to him and hugged him, and Link slapped him on the back in congratulations.

They watched in silence as Kyrissam heeled his horse forward to take the course again. Frat leaned against the gray horse where Sora sat, eyes trained on the night horse. They watched as Kyrissam hit the first three targets perfectly in the middle. He missed the next target. <I>If he gets this next one it's a tie,</I> Sora thought. They all held their breath, watching. The arrow soared to the target, striking the outside and falling to the ground. Sora and her friend broke into loud cheers as it hit the ground.

Faylah clenched her fists and screamed, throwing Kyrissam out of the saddle when he rode over. Sora laughed and hopped of the gray horse, throwing the reins to Mylintha. She and her friends walked over to where Kyrissam and Faylah stood. The couple glared at them angrily and Sora laughed again.

"Don't be sore losers." Sora taunted. "It was two out of three. We've won."

"You've won for now!" Kyrissam hissed. "But we're not letting you go that easily!"

Link frowned. "I knew it! I knew you were going to cheat!"

"Well then, don't think of it as cheating." Kyrissam said, smiling. "Think of it as war."

Mylintha grabbed Sora from behind and Yzane grabbed Link. <I>Why are they most worried about losing us?</I> Sora wondered. <I>There is something we don't know about this thing.</I> Sora glanced at Link as Mylintha pulled her hands around to her back, holding her tightly. Link nodded briefly, then faced forward, his eyes cold and slightly sad.

Mylintha and Yzane threw them back into their cell with their friends. They locked the door behind them and left, blowing out the torched on the wall, so that the only light spilling into the small cell was from the noon day sun. Sora climbed back onto her pile of blankets and sat cross legged, watching her friends settle themselves. Poonta leaned up against the door of the cell, her knees tucked almost up to her chin. Link sat down in a dark corner, and Oliana and Frat sat down together on the bench.

"We need to come up with a plan." Link said, when they were all settled.

"But what?" Sora asked. "It's not like we can escape from this cell. It's locked from the outside, remember?"

"Sora, shut up!" Link snapped. "I'm sure there is some way out of this."

All five of them looked up when they heard voices from outside. Poonta scooted over next to Sora as the door swung open. To their surprise Isannah stepped inside. She was wearing robes in vibrant colors, cinched around her waist by a thin piece of cord. Her golden hair was piled on top of her head. She smiled shyly at them and shut the door behind her, pressing a finger against her lips to signal them to be silent.

"Hi." Isannah said softly. "Oli, they said I could let you stay with me in my chambers."

"No." Oliana said firmly. "I'm staying here with my friends."

Link looked startled. "Oliana, you should go. They won't hurt you there. You'll be under Nicodemus' protection."

"No." Oliana repeated. "I'm not leaving your protection."

"Link?" Isannah asked, sitting down next to him. "You know ways out of the castle, right?"

"Yes." Link nodded. "Why?"

Isannah held up a ring of keys. "I got the spares. I'll come tonight and let you out."

"Izzy! How?" Link asked.

"That's not important." Isannah said. "Just make sure you're awake when I come back. I have to go now!"

The companions watched as Isannah scampered out of the room, shutting the door and locking it behind her. They curled up in their sleeping spots, hoping to get enough rest for the escape that night.

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