The guard outside her cell gave her food. It was just bread and water, but to Maarei, it tasted like triumph. It would be easy to escape now, she knew. Ganondorf was leaving for Ayl soon, and with him away, the castle guard would be more lenient. Maarei slept well that night.
In the morning when she awoke, she could hear voices down the hall. She recognized Ganondorf's voice, and there was someone else's, someone she did not know. At first she thought they were speaking in his secret language, but as they moved closer she could hear they were speaking in common tongue.
"Are you absolutely sure of this information?" Maarei heard Ganondorf say.
"Yes, Your Grace. I'm positive. There is nothing in Ayl. It is just a wasteland. Some of your spies checked it out already."
"There could be something my spies don't know about," said Ganondorf. "There could be a secret passage somewhere. You checked everywhere?"
"Yes, my lord. I mean Your Grace. There couldn't have been any tunnels. We combed the whole desert. There was nothing but sand. Nothing by that tree either. We dug up everything around the tree for fifty yards."
"Damn! I can't believe I trusted her! She was such a good liar!" Ganondorf paused. "Almost as good as me."
"Now what?" the person said.
"Well....Maarei won't tell us anything. She's of no use. We'll kill her."
"How about on the morrow, Your Grace? We could do it in front of the castle, where everyone can see. That'll really get things stirred up."
"You may not be as stupid as I thought. I'll do just that."
"Um...thank you, Your Grace."
"Now get back to work!" Ganondorf barked. "We'll never get anywhere at this rate. We don't even know how to get from here to Hyrule without the sea!"
I should have known his spies would have went before him, Maarei thought. I have to get the temple fast! Something hanging on the wall caught her eye. It was an outfit, vaguely familiar....suddenly she remembered who it belonged to. The stableboy. As she looked at the walls, she noticed several other outfits too. All from servants. They were killed in the siege, she thought.
They must have put the clothes in here temporarily. Well, if I'm going to escape, I might as well change clothes, so the dogs can't track me. The stableboy's clothes fit her almost perfectly. How convenient.
When she tied her hair back, she looked almost like a boy. Maarei walked up to the guard.
"I wish to go to the temple," she said.
"That's against orders, stupid girl. Go back to sleep," the guard said back.
Maarei sniffled like she was about to cry.
"Shut up," the guard said meanly, and raised his hand at her, but Maarei saw it coming and danced away before he could strike her. Evidently cry-babying wasn't going to work with this one.
She suddenly had an idea, and she knew it would work.
"If you let me pray, I'll reward you handsomely," Maarei said.
The guard was interested. Greedy fool, she thought.
"And how could you do that, girl? You have no power here anymore."
"I still have this," Maarei said, reaching into her pocket, and taking out a gold necklace with a huge ruby in it.
"Give me that!" he ordered, but she pulled it out of reach before he could get it.
"Only if you let me into the temple," she said.
The guard scowled at her.
"Oh....all right. What harm could it do? You'll be dead on the morrow anyway," the guard said.
What a stupid man, Maarei thought. He unlocked the gate and lead her through endless corridors. She was worried that someone would see her, but no one did. Her sword was sheathed at her side, and the guard couldn't see it in the dimly lit halls.
When they reached the temple, Maarei did exactly as she planned. Her heart was pounding and her hands shook as she went up to the altar and bowed down. Her fingers went under the loose tile of the Triforce, but did not lift it up. She glanced behind her, the guard was at the door, watching her carefully.
"Din, Farore, Nayru," Maarei prayed. "Forgive for leaving my country. I will return."
"Hurry up with that necklace, girl!" the guard shouted at her. "I haven't got all day!"
"Take it," Maarei said, and threw the necklace over his head and down the hall.
He grumbled something and walked over to it, his back to her. Maarei knelt in front of the altar, lifted up the tile, and lifted up the tile. Quick as a cat, she jumped into the tunnel. From underneath it, she neatly laid the tile back in place. Then she ran. Only ten more miles to Hyrule Castle, Maarei thought grimly.
* * * *
Her walk was dark. Most of the torches had went out, since the messenger from Melanthos hadn't been sent. Who would send it? Maarei had to feel her way along the walls, because the builders of the tunnel had put several twists and turns in it, to make it confusing to those not familiar with it. Maarei knew it by heart.
Link, the Hero of Time, lived in Hyrule somewhere. He was the one who was supposed to have killed Ganondorf, but it seemed as though he hadn't. She had heard the tale many times. A boy of ten years, caught in the flow of time, came back seven years later to save his country from Ganondorf, when he was Ganon. It had just happened this May! Could it be that the tale was false? Zelda, who was Maarei's good friend, swore it was true, because she knew Link.
If Ganondorf returns to Hyrule, Link and Zelda will certainly be killed! I'm the only one who knows! I have to warn them! she walked quicker. Ganondorf will be looking for me now too. I know things about him that no one else would. If he kills me, he'll be safe. But now, I'm the only weapon against him.
After hours and hours of walking, she finally saw a light. It was the tile in Hyrule's Castle temple! Maarei sighed with relief and pushed up on it. As the tile lifted, she got a breath of fresh air. As she started to climb out, she heard a voice behind her.
"Boy, what are you doing? You know only messengers and royalty allowed through that passage!"
Maarei looked around to see what the guard was talking about. Then it hit her. I'm the boy, she thought. She knew after being in a cell for so long, she defiantly did not look like royalty, and she was not wearing the crest of the messenger.
"Where are you from, boy?" the guard asked.
"Here!" she said immediately, thinking that if she said Melanthos, they'd send her back. They have no idea what's going on, she realized. They don't even know that Ganondorf's alive.
"What kind of a prank is this? Get out of here! You know security's tight!"
"You heard me boy! Go before I throw you out!"
"I have business here!" Maarei said, exasperated.
"What would a farm boy have to do with business? Your just some kid! I'm not going to waste my time arguing with a teenage prankster like you!"
Before Maarei knew what was happening, she was thrown out of the castle with a clatter.
"Now go home! I'll be watching you!" the guard said , and went back inside.
Maarei stood up. She couldn't go back inside. She didn't have any proof that she was of the royal family of Melanthos. She looked raggedy and smelled like horses. They'd just tell her to go home.
That's what I'm trying to do! Maarei thought angrily. Father's soul will never rest easy until Ganondorf is dead, and I rule as....queen! She hadn't given it much thought. Father had no sons, so I should be ruling Melanthos right now, sixteen or not!
But now what to do? She had to eat, find a place to sleep, and find some way to warn Zelda. Eating came first, she was starving, and she couldn't think well on an empty stomach. That night, she found sleep and board at a kind woman's house in Kakariko Village.
Maarei decided it was safer to be a boy while in Hyrule. She already had the clothes and she could easily disguise her voice, but her face still looked distinctly feminine. The easiest way to hide it was to make a mask. She did just that. It was made out of cheep black cloth she found lying on the ground, and it covered most of her face, with holes for the eyes. Maarei decided to never take it off. When people asked her to, she'd just say she had too many scars or something.
Maarei now needed to find Link, or someone in connection with Link or Zelda. She also needed to find some way to get money. She was awful at cooking and sewing, and all the things she was taught how to do. Besides, she was a boy now, and what business would a boy have doing that? There weren't many other jobs open, and being an apprentice would be a full time job. Maarei wouldn't have any way to get to Link or Zelda from that job. The only thing Maarei was an expert at was...fencing.
Maarei was officially a sellsword.
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