She turned slowly and faced the would-be hero just as he reached the door that would take him topside. She gave him an almost mothering look yet a kind wave, quite abnormal all things considered. "Link, be careful," the princess said softly to him, her voice cracking, all too soft under the strain of mixed emotions.
In truth, to say she had "mixed emotions" was quite the overstatement. The moment Link disappeared from sight, the moment the statue returned to its proper location, the moment the basement was sealed tight, her shock wore off.
No more was there Zelda anymore, just Tetra.
And the rage that filled her in that moment was incalculable.
Rage over being left behind, trapped within the basement of some long-dead castle that time had long forgotten. Never mind that Ganondorf wanted her in his clutches. Never mind how badly such a situation would forebode. It had been her crew and her ship The Golden Spirit that had successfully competed with, outmaneuvered, and ultimately all but destroyed Ganondorf's fleet during the years of her captaincy, thank you very much. She was the one with the years of experience on how to send him and his ilk down to Vaati Jones' Locker; she was the one who knew his strategies and machinations. Link was barely a swabbie, and no thanks to Daphnes, who hadn't fared much better in his efforts to off the man.
Rage against Daphnes for having manipulated Link and her into this goddess-forsaken mess, for being forced into an epic battle over an abandoned world that she didn't give two shits for save that there was probably some amount of treasure down here worth hauling off. Were it not for that small, minute detail, Hyrule could have stayed buried and forgotten until the end of time. And were it not that the Black Pirate Ganondorf was cocky as all hell and wanted to butt his way in and control her own future and her Sea, she had decided that she'd have simply walked the moment Daphnes had put that dress on her.
And yes, rage against wearing a damn dress. Maybe she had the blood of a princess; maybe all of that nonsense was true. It didn't matter; she wasn't just some skirt, some helpless wench who needed to be locked in a tower for her own good or protection. Princess or not, she certainly didn't feel the part, nor was she take kindly to the prospect of continuing Fate's ridiculous farce. No self-respecting pirate would ever take her seriously if they found out about this. Hell, if she hadn't figured the dress to actually be worth something, she'd have ripped it to shreds then and there.
She slammed her fist into the wall, remembering only too late that it was made of marble instead of the wood of her trusty ship. A sharp pain jolted through her, adding yet another item to her list of frustrations. Without any of her own crewmates or hapless landlubbers at hand to receive the brunt of her growing and nagging irritation, she screamed once, twice, and three times, filling the hall with anger. She cursed and swore, telling off everyone and no one as she vented her bottled fury.
And then silence. With the deed done, she peered around once more, finding only emptiness.
None of it gave her comfort. None of it lessened the madness. All that was left was to make due with what little she had and to test her patience until Link returned.
Testing her patience... This, much to her chagrin, was not her strong suit.
She rolled her eyes. Let the fun begin.
Finally at liberty to explore on her own accord, the pirate began to take in the majesty of the castle—or at least its secret basement—room by room. The suits of armor and the stained glass windows were masterful works by blacksmiths and artisans alike; even as tomboyish as Tetra was, Tetra still was girlish enough to fantasize just a bit, appreciating such splendor and artistic beauty and leaving herself to idly dream of the glamour and prestige of being a princess enshrined with such gold, jewels, and finery as was here. Of course, it wasn't a life she truly desired; she was too rough-skinned to feel at peace trapped in such a gilded cage, but the thought of servants, riches, and luxury still nevertheless had some appeal.
Hours passed, and Tetra's search expanded outward into the mazelike corridors of the basement. Signs of former life could be found throughout the window-lit rooms. Bedrooms of various qualities were sprinkled here and there. A jail cell further in held skeleton remains of people long since deceased and gone. A vault—to which Zelda could not find a key to open, yet another annoyance to the girl—safeguarded stacks of multicolored rupees, jewels, shiny weaponry, and other glittering spectacles. She even found a minimalist kitchen, which contained a scant few scraps of food—mainly cured jerky and nuts—that still seemed edible. At least it would be enough to meagerly tide her as she fulfilled the full sentence of her imprisonment.
Such luck served to make a hellish experience otherwise to be merely irritating. Daphnes was still going to be paid hell for locking her away here without having the courtesy to at least first see if she could survive down here. No "oh by the way, there's an entire stockade of fresh fruits and vegetables I've been saving away" and no "I've prepared a room especially for you." Simply, "good luck" and "you're on your own" and "hope to see you still alive by the time we're back."
Curse him to the Dark World. Twice.
She certainly considered robbing the castle blind the moment she had the opportunity to escape with her plunder.
Time passed, though it was impossible to say how much. Night seemed to never come, as though the land was still frozen in time by the goddesses' seal over the accursed land. Tetra attempted to reckon the passage of time with tallies upon the wall but shortly gave up in apathy after realizing the task to be utterly impossible. And even the pirate captain could only muster so much enthusiasm for exploration before utter boredom—and then mild insanity—started to overtake her.
And then, finally, one morning, the statue that guarded and made her existence secret began to move. Slowly at first... and then—after what had apparently proven to be too slowly by its beckoner—with explosive speed.
Tetra had been sleeping then upon a canopy bed that she had unceremoniously dragged into the sanctuary from a room several hallways away. Her eyes flew open at the sound and the sudden light flooding the room from above.
"Link?" she called out. In but a moment, she recognized how foolishly it had been to do so, her good sense being clouded by a haze of grogginess.
There wasn't a chance. But... who?
"Not... quite... Princess..."
To Tetra's surprise, the voice managed to send chills down her spine. Days ago, when she had finally heard Ganondorf's voice for the first time, it had done nothing but incite her fury and summon her adrenaline. But somehow, everything was different. Now... he was here, deep beneath the waves where he should not be. Come for her.
And yet Tetra quickly identified that train of thought and slew it before it could paralyze her. Fear wasn't a part of her mantra. If anything, it was fear that drove her to will to live.
"Well, if it isn't Old, Smelly, and Ugly," she retorted as Ganondorf descended down the stairs into the inner sanctum.
The man chuckled with a sinister grin. "Tut tut, Princess. Such rudeness isn't becoming of royalty."
"Oh is that so? Then forgive me; I'm a little out of practice."
The wicked smile on Ganondorf's lips only seemed to widen as he approached. Tetra slowly backed further into the room, scanning for any possible plan for escape. Seeing no immediate solution, she decided to stall for time instead.
"I don't recall inviting you into my castle," she spat.
"Tough words for a trapped sea rat."
"Perhaps you've forgotten just how tough I am? Maybe remembering how The Golden Spirit outwitted your entire fleet will ring a bell?"
He chuckled. "You still think you have the upper hand, do you?" he replied casually, unaffected by Tetra's taunt.
"That's because I always have had it against you."
"HA!" Ganondorf bellowed as he approached the dais where the Master Sword had slept for so many years. "This is different, girl. I am no mere pirate; I am no mere mortal! You have never faced me. Your crew has never faced me."
And that's when Tetra saw her opportunity. A chance to turn of the tides just waiting to happen.
"Oh right. Because you've done so well before, right? The great invincible Ganondorf. Far too powerful to ever be beaten by a boy and a girl. Certainly no match for any small child to ever defeat."
The smirk on Ganondorf's face was gone. In its place was an insulted grimace. Tetra suddenly realized that she had just inadvertently rubbed salt in an old wound. Just what she had hoped for.
"Well c'mon then, let's have a go at it. You against me. For old time's sake. See if you're as tough and bad as you claim to be."
"You impudent little..."
"C'mon, Ganny. What are you, Cucco?"
Whatever it was, Ganondorf snapped. He ascended the stairs... quickly...
But not quick enough to avoid Tetra's trap.
In that moment, Tetra heaved and pushed over one of the tall statues of knights that surrounded the pedestal. In falling, it clanged into the next in line, tipping it over into the next one... and then into the next, falling just as dominoes carefully aligned in a circle.
Tetra leapt down into the shallow water on the back side of the dais as the sharp blades above loudly collapsed atop of Ganondorf.
"Rotten girl!" he cried out in pain as a blade deeply sliced into his arm, ripping his cloak and tearing his flesh. The statues continued to fall around him, the swords falling out of their hands and dropping onto Ganondorf's figure.
Tetra ran. With nary a moment to spare, she knew that this was her only chance to take the advantage. She quickly sloshed through the small pool towards the front of the dais, her steps muted beneath the clanging and crashing of statue against statue against floor and Ganondorf. She flew towards the far end of the room to where her freedom resided... her freedom resting deep within her castle, deep within her maze, where she would—
She grimaced at the thought. Where she would hide.
At least until she found a proper killing weapon that wasn't within Ganondorf's easy reach. Then there would be no more time for hiding. There would only be fighting.
In but a moment she had crossed the length of the sanctuary and had reached the doorway leading into the lost corridors.
When a bolt of crackling energy blasted a rather large crater from the marble.
Tetra looked back to the pile of statues to see Ganondorf wriggling himself free from the pile.
"The next one goes through your head, Princess!" he bellowed.
"Provided you get a next chance!"
She saw an orb of energy gathering at his fingertips. She decided she had tarried for far too long and needed to flee... and fast. Picking up the hem of her pink dress, she ran; the second blast of energy licked at her heels as it smoldered upon the cold, stone flooring.
She turned a corner and continued her flight as briskly as she could in her current condition. She felt her goddess-forsaken dress was doing nothing but slowing her down, and it would no doubt hamper her swordsmanship once she could find a blade. Why she hadn't made obtaining a proper blade a higher priority than scavenging for food was now baffling her entirely, and she had half a mind to pin the blame squarely on her succumbing to the notion of being some helpless maiden of a princess.
Three corners later and the rustling of armor back in the main hall had ceased to reach her, though whether it was because she was far enough for the sound to not reach or that Ganondorf had begun his pursuit, she could not tell. Nor did she wish to chance my luck. Picking the closest door, she quickly opened it and peeked inside: a bedchamber belonging to someone of rather moderate worth. It would certainly do for a very temporary hiding place. She slipped in, carefully shut the door, plunged into darkness, and tiptoed across the room to the bed before sliding beneath it.
Minutes later, a pair of running boots clomped their way past the door. And then they faded away.
But they had come from the opposite direction...
Leading back toward the main hall.
It was not the best sign, she decided. There was no easy way to know where exactly Ganondorf would be off to next.
Tetra waited. And then she contemplated her next move.
It was possible that Ganondorf would not be content to just leave her lie and would scour the castle for her, checking room after room until he finally found her. And if the resonance of their Triforce pieces—or whatever bullshit he had spewed before—could signal to him whenever she was close, it wouldn't take long before those ends came to pass. And then it'd all be over.
It was also possible that Ganondorf would merely be waiting for her back in the main hall, just waiting patiently for her to emerge from hiding so that she could stare him down. Waiting for her so that he could finally challenge her face-to-face in a duel. For the Triforce, for Hyrule, and maybe her life, too.
It wasn't a hard choice.
"Fine, have it your way, Ganny."
If Tetra was going to die, she would go down fighting tooth and nail, sword or no.
Tetra pulled herself out from under the bed and carefully crossed the room to the door and pulled it open, closing it carefully. Just in case. And then she simply proceeded down the corridor.
Her gait was slow and majestic. Her shoulders were square and firm. Her head was high and proud. Her face was blank and committed. A dead woman walking with nothing else to lose, steadfast and unwavering, ready to face Fate, and to screw over Fate if she could. Vengeful, wrathful, strong, dangerous. Like a proper pirate.
Her path to the proverbial noose was devoid of all obstacles. She passed suits of full armor along her way, still standing their silent guard duty as they had been since her arrival. She derided Ganondorf for his stupidity; he could have easily thwarted a clean escape had he but thought to knock them down to slow her pace, to force her into making some amount of noise as she clambered over them. Of course, that was provided he wasn't waiting for her just beyond the last hallway.
The last hallway that was just ahead.
It didn't take long for Tetra to steel herself for the worst. She had already known that she might face Ganondorf and do everything in her power to best him. Yet still, she allowed herself the guilty pleasure of stealing just a quick peek to know for sure before exposing herself plainly before her enemy.
Two eyes gazed into the hallway.
Ganondorf was not waiting.
Tetra's breath caught itself in her throat.
Could Ganondorf REALLY be that idiotic!?
She peeked again.
Then she ventured out daringly into the sanctuary.
He wasn't there.
HE WASN'T THERE!
The realization hadn't possibly occurred to her that he would have been stupid enough to search the castle for her. A devious smirk overtook her face, and she rubbed her hands together mischievously. Now it was her turn to pull the wool over his eyes.
She was going to commandeer his very own vessel, his sole transport out from this hellhole.
To escape on his own ship. Such delicious irony.
If he wanted Hyrule so much, maybe she would condemn him to being trapped in it for the rest of his pathetic existence.
Boldly she ascended the stairs—two at a time!—into the Great Hall. She took one last look at her own castle, her inheritance. She placed her hand to her lips, kissed it, and waved her hand to it with a dramatic gesture. "Good riddance, Hyrule. Have a great life. Don't let the door kick you on my way out."
She pushed open the heavy oaken doors that led to the courtyard, that flooded courtyard where, just days prior, she had awoken.
She entered the sunlight for the first time in days, almost blinding herself by its brilliance. Raising a hand to shield herself from the light, she looked out to the water-field courtyard.
Why wasn't there a boat here?
Her escape should be here.
Where was it?
"Oh Princess, did you think I would be so bold as to come in from the front door?"
She wheeled around.
Before she made it all the way, something hit her head. Hard.
She fell to the ground.
With blurred vision, she glanced up ever-so-slightly at her adversary.
He laughed. "This land obeys only my rule; the goddesses obey my every whim," he said darkly.
She grunted as if to protest. She tried to push herself up.
"Now... and forever."
Another heavy blow hit her in the head.
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