Disclaimer: I dont want to get in whatever trouble people can get into when using other peoples characters so - The Legend of Zelda, Link, Zelda, Ganon, Hyrule and other related characters and settings belong to to that wonderous console company, Nintendo. No infringement intended.
Paths of Deception
Juliet A. Singleton (Scullys@bigfoot.com) & Kirsty Singleton (email@example.com)
"Now you can see that your friend is free," stated Mara as Felicity watched the magical orb before her in frustration.
"Free? She can't even fly!"
"She is free though. And she is still protected, by me nonetheless." Mara's words were true. Although Tiffany could not see it, Felicity saw the magical orb that surrounded her friend. Nothing could harm her while that magical orb remained, but it would only remain for as long as Mara saw fit. Felicity turned to Mara.
"How long will you keep her safe?"
"For as long as you satisfy my wishes." Felicity's heart sank. "And let me also remind you, that as long as your friend remains in that orb, I can kill her at any moment. You do know that, don't you?" Felicity nodded slowly. Not everyone was capable of such a magical feat, but Felicity knew she couldn't afford to disregard Mara.
"What exactly are your wishes?" Felicity didn't even want to contemplate the answer to the question, let alone hear it. But it seemed she had little other choice in the situation. Mara smiled.
"I already told you one of them."
"Immortality?" Mara nodded, the magical orb beginning to fade. "Well, there isn't much I can do for you there," sighed Felicity, pacing about her cage.
"Well, I didn't expect you to help with that. Rather, something else."
"I hear that you are held in quite high regard by the members of the royal court."
"What would you know?"
"I did work at North Castle for a while you know...Your friend, Queen Tamara is the guardian of Link, and you happen to be her best friend, so it's quite obvious that they should all trust you." Felicity stopped her pacing, and looked to Mara.
"What of it?"
"How much is your friend's, Tiffany, life worth to you?" Felicity paused. If posed the question in less pressing circumstances, she would have answered immediately. She would have replied that she would do anything to preserve the life of any of her friends, including Tiffany.
"More than you would ever know," finally replied the faerie, every word true. Mara smiled.
"Such a touching sentiment...but one I shall never understand. Your words truly are admirable, but to me they are nothing but a considerable advantage."
"You won't get away with any of this...any of what you are planning!" murmured Felicity darkly. Mara simply smirked.
"I'm already half way there..." Felicity took a breath, suddenly feeling a little shaky.
"Half way there?" Suddenly she recalled their earlier conversation...about Enzar. The black ivy, the blood of power, of Ewan. Had Mara resurrected Enzar? Realisation slowly filtered through her veins like ice cold water, and she turned her eyes on Mara, who watched in amusement. "Enzar?" Mara smiled. It made sense, the evil influence Felicity had sensed before she and Tiffany had entered Death Mountain, that must have been Enzar. "Is he here?" Mara continued smile.
"That's no answer," muttered Felicity, her voice tinged with animosity. Mara smiled. It was a wicked smile, and Felicity could see the witch was taking immense pleasure from her torment.
"It's the only answer you shall be getting, little one."
"Enzar is more powerful than you'll ever know, witch. And if you think that by resurrecting him, he's under your power, you're sorely wrong. He'll betray you given the opportunity and set out on his own goals. You're nothing to him but another mortal." Mara's eyes narrowed at Felicity's words, and she spat out her own reply.
"You know little of what you speak of. Enzar is indebted to me, and he shall do my will as I wish it to be done. After I have shed my mortality, I shall claim this pathetic land as my own, and there will be nought your friends can do to stop me." Her green eyes were tainted with fury, and it seemed to Felicity that she had struck a nerve. She remained silent, however, contemplating Mara's words. If what the sorceress had said was true, and that Enzar did indeed walk the Demiari again, then Mara must be a powerful woman. She herself did not think the resurrection of Enzar was possible by just anyone, least of all a human.
"He may obey you now, but as his strength grows he will no longer need to serve you. You can destroy him now, and he probably knows it - but soon you will not have that power." Mara glared at Felicity, but the grimace soon changed into a lazy smile.
"Those are your thoughts, faerie, but it matters not what you think. I shall make you suffer for the sake of your pitiful friend, and you shall regret not taking my side whilst you had the chance. I will release you now, and send you to the hold. There you shall tell your friends that Tiffany is safe at home in the Fey, and that you wish to be alone for a while. You shall also have words with Zelda...or perhaps Link. "
"Words?" Mara smiled again.
"Yes. It seems there was a prophecy about their son. One part of the prophecy I know is true - he does have the power of three. But that is not the interesting part of the prophecy. Their son shall inflict a great evil upon the world, possibly greater than any I myself am capable of doing. Tell them their son has the power of three. Tell them about the prophecy."
"How do you know he has it?" Mara slowed for a moment.
"I would have been quite unable to resurrect Enzar without it." Felicity felt a cold hand crawling up into her heart, and she waited for Mara to continue, she was at a loss for words.
"It seems that Link and Zelda's union is frowned upon greatly by the Fates."
"I am not lying at all. You tell them that, and then you shall return here. If you do anything, and I do mean anything, that is not my will - then your friend Tiffany will perish in as painful a fashion as I can imagine. You will be under my power also, and I will ensure that you will continue the trend in your family of dying far too young."
"Why do you want them to know about the prophecy?" asked Felicity weakly. Her mind was desperately searching for a way to outwit Mara, but she could not find it. She had been stung by Mara's last comment, not because it had reminded her of her mother's premature death - but because Mara had somehow known about it.
"Because it will destroy them. You had best make it believable - if you are anything other than convincing then you shall live to regret it, whereas your friend will not."
Harkinian stared down at the missive for a third time, shaking his head in disbelief. Then his eyes turned slowly to the dagger that lay on his desk, amid a swathe of material. He looked to Impa, who seemed as shocked as he himself did. The dagger was still stained red with the blood of the dead Queen Seline, it was the dagger that had killed her. Harkinian closed his eyes for a moment, taking a moment to think.
"I shall send word to the hold immediately," said Impa finally, when she could no longer bare the silence. Harkinian merely nodded, without a word. As he heard his greatest advisor leave, he let out a sigh, opening his eyes. He held the letter before him, and forced himself to read it aloud, he felt it was the only way he would be able to actually believe the words that lay within.
"It is with deepest regret that I must inform you of the death of our great queen, Seline of Catalia." Harkinian's voice wavered at this moment, before he licked his dry lips, and continued to read. "Seline was found murdered, by the knife that I believe once belonged to the husband of your daughter, Zelda. This is not the first incident in which Hyrule has been involved in misdeeds against my country, nor is it the first time that the Prince of Hyrule has been connected with such injustices. Catalia demands justice for these crimes. I, Robert, King of Catalia, demand action. There is but one way to resolve this unfortunate sequence of events, and that is to pay blood with blood." Harkinian stopped reading, and let the scroll fall from his hands. Blood with blood. And this man Robert, this King...a man who had been treated to the finest hospitality during his stay at this castle, was making these demands. He shook his head. He would never turn Link over to Catalia, despite their wild claims. His eyes were drawn back to the dagger, a blade that Harkinian had seen many times hung at the side of his son-in-law. He dared another look at the ink-written words on the scroll...but it still seemed so unreal. With another sigh, he swept the letter aside, and pulled an unmarked roll of parchment from his desk, before preparing his quill pen before beginning to write.
Zelda swallowed nervously, as she glanced around at the row of expectant faces before her. Link was to her left, but he looked lost off in a world of his own. She still couldn't forget his words from two nights previous; that he said he would never forgive her for keeping secrets from him. Last night, he hadn't even come to bed. Or if he had, it must have been extremely late, whilst she had lain asleep. And he must have risen before she had awoke. How in Hyrule would he react, if he found out about her misplaced feelings for Kaibre? Maybe he already knows... she thought to herself, bitterly. Biting her lip she stood up on the dias at the back of the council room. Even after all these years of practise, she still didn't enjoy holding council. And today, with her marriage problems at the foremost of her mind, it seemed even more difficult that usual.
"My most loyal subjects, allies and friends... it is with most grave sorrow and anguish that I hold this council at this early hour. Tragedy has befallen my fair country and I need your help," she began. A gasp came throughout the room.
"Your Highness..." Drake started, rising up from his seat. Zelda ignored him.
"I have made a terrible, terrible error, it is through my misjudgement that this has come about," she continued, the colour of guilt rising in her cheeks as she spoke.
"What in Hyrule is going on?" spoke up Aaron, and several others murmured in agreement. Many of them had been surprised to be summoned at such an early hour, as apart from Kaibre Lainge's mysterious death, they had not known that there was trouble brewing in Hyrule. Zelda paused, looking over to Link for some kind of support, but he remained oblivious to her silent plea. He probably wasn't even listening to her speech. She put a hand to her head, brushing back her fringe.
"I have misjudged the power of one person... I did not think her ambition possible! I speak of that villain, Mara Hespera, the kidnapper of my son! Ewan may be returned safe, but Mara has already used him for her own wicked devices!" she exclaimed, her voice shaking with emotion. Drake immediately stood again, and made a step towards the dias.
"Princess, I will seek out that witch! I will go now!" he vowed. Zelda shook her head.
"No Drake, please. She is too powerful... she has already killed the one man I sent to seek her out."
"Kaibre," Drake said, realising. Zelda winced as he spoke the name.
"Yes, Kaibre," she agreed, her eyes on the ground in shame. Taking a deep breath, she finally dared to look up again, the faces in the room only expectant, and anxious. "Mara took my son's blood, and in an ancient ritual, has managed to resurrect an entity from the void... a daemon we fear. I can feel its presence, and so can Link... maybe some of you here in this room also feel uneasy but don't know why. That is why. This being... it has yet to manifest itself, but when it does, we are all in danger," she explained. There was another gasp and murmur from the group.
"Well Your Highness, what is to be done?" spoke up one of the many soldiers in the room.
"Mara Hespera must be found and brought to justice! But maybe she is the least of our worries... Link and I will obviously have to tackle the entity ourselves.. when or if it chooses to manifest," Zelda replied, folding her arms and looking over at Link again.
"Well I don't know what you expect me to do about it!" he said, rather coldly. Zelda stared at him, while the rest of the room went quiet in surprise at the hero's words.
"Link!" she exclaimed.
"Well you already didn't feel you could tell me about it until it was too late, why do you suddenly want my help now?" he replied. Zelda narrowed her eyes angrily, her expression furious.
"You have a duty to this country, Link, how dare you act this way!" she cried. Link got up from his seat and joined her on the dias. His face also furious, he grabbed his wife roughly by the wrist, pulling her forward.
"You also have a duty to this country Zelda, and you failed!" he said angrily.
"Let go of me!" Zelda retorted, trying to pull out of his grip. "Don't you dare treat me this way!" she added, as he released her, the force sending her stumbling to one side. The room remained in silence, shocked at the scene unfolding before them. A small majority knew that the pair argued and fought from time to time, but nothing like this. And not in public. Nor had they ever seen Link lose his temper so openly. As if sensing the room's shock, he turned back to the group, whilst Zelda let out an anguished sob.
"See your beloved Princess there, she has known about this since before we left to travel here! But instead of making preparation to deal with it, she pretended it was not happening!" he exclaimed.
"Link, I'm sure the Princess didn't..." Drake began, looking extremely worried by this sequence of events.
"Is that any way to deal with such a serious matter?" Link continued. Zelda, now also looking furious, walked right up to Link, and pushed him aside.
"This is my council, not yours!" she hissed.
At that moment, the double oak doors were flung aside, and in rushed a flushed, excited-looking Fayette.
"Oh Zelda, I just couldn't wait to tell you my good news!" she cried. Everyone turned to look over at Zelda's step-sister, who seemed beside herself in extreme joy. It was a stark contrast to the expression on Zelda's face. Fayette, however, did not appear to notice.
"Faye! Can't you see, I'm in the middle of holding an important council!" Zelda exclaimed, looking angry at the intrusion.
"But it's about me and Sir Kendar! I have the most wonderful news to share with you!" Fayette persisted.
"How many times do I have to say it, Faye? Of course though, how could I forget? You're so stupid, it just doesn't register in that silly head of yours!" Zelda snapped. Fayette opened her mouth in surprise then shut it again, a frown spreading over her pretty face.
"You just have to go and spoil my moment, don't you?" she simpered.
"What? Spoil what moment?? I'm trying to hold a meeting Faye, can you just leave?!" Zelda demanded irately.
"Just because your own marriage is in tatters, it doesn't mean you have the right to rain on my parade!" Fayette continued, her voice wavering. "Kendar makes me so happy and I'm going to marry him! And nothing you can say or do is going to spoil that for me, Zelda!" Zelda stared at Fayette in surprise, angry and shocked at her step-sister's words at the same time.
"My marriage is fine," she finally stated coolly.
"Not from where I'm standing!" Link remarked in a cold voice.
"Why don't you just both admit it to yourselves, you made a mistake! No wonder the pair of you are both playing away!" Fayette said nastily.
"Excuse me?!" Zelda cried incredulously. "You take that back right now, Faye! How dare you imply such a thing, especially in front of my subjects?!" Fayette looked down at the floor, blushing slightly.
"I'm sorry Zelda. But you know it's true. Now if you don't mind..." she said, quickly turning and heading towards the door. The whole room remained silent. Zelda looked over at Link, and he at her.
"What in Hyrule did she mean?!" Zelda finally exploded.
"Maybe I could ask you the same, Zelda!" Link retorted, in that same detached, unfeeling tone.
"Er I think it's best if we call an end to this council..." Drake volunteered nervously. But neither hero or princess was listening, they were too intent on each other, hatred and suspicion written all over their faces. Aaron looked over at Drake, and the knight shrugged. "Best to leave them to it," he whispered as he walked over to the doors, motioning for the group to leave. They filed silently out, leaving only Link and Zelda there, up on the dias. Zelda was shaking, from both anger, and emotion. She stared at her husband, but it was like a stranger looking back. His normally deep blue eyes showed nothing but anger and distrust.
"Tell me it's not true, tell me that Faye is a liar! Look me in the eyes and swear to me!" she wept.
"I have nothing to say about it, Zelda," Link replied, using her full name for the second time in as many sentences. He rarely ever did. She stepped forward, taking his hand, her eyes full of tears.
"Just tell me!" she cried desperately.
"Maybe you should tell me first EXACTLY what went on between you and this Kaibre Lainge! And tell me the truth!" he replied, pushing her hand away.
"Nothing!! I liked him, but not in a romantic way! I could never love anyone else but you Link, you know that!" she insisted.
"Your reaction to his death seems misplaced," Link commented, his voice remaining cool.
"He was a friend! You would grieve the same for a friend!" Zelda replied.
"Yes, like I grieved for Leigh! Only you wouldn't let me!" Link accused.
"Link, please!" Zelda cried, her voice wavering as the tears threatened to fall.
"Forget it, Zelda! Maybe Fayette was right. Maybe we DID make a mistake. I did nothing but love you, but you've never loved me back. The only person you love, is yourself. If Kaibre were here, I would let him have you. Our marriage is as good as finished!" Link exclaimed angrily. Zelda found herself for once speechless, and could do nothing but stare at Link in horror and shock.
"No... no... don't say that..." she murmured, as if she didn't believe him. Link pulled off the gold band he wore on his left finger, and the kingdom ring from his right.
"I'm sorry that I ever met you, I'm sorry that I ever came to Hyrule. I'm sorry that any of this happened," he said.
"Link, don't be stupid! We love each other, how can you give up on us?" Zelda wept. "What about Ewan? And Brianna?"
"I don't regret my children," Link finally replied. "But right now, this isn't working. It's best if we don't sleep together, or in fact, be together. It's best if we separate."
"You love me!" Zelda insisted. She stepped up close, throwing her arms around his neck. "Tell me you don't, and maybe I'll agree to this," she added, gazing into his eyes. Then she kissed him. The kiss felt so different from Fayzie's. Zelda knew exactly what she was doing. She knew him too well. He melted into her embrace, pulling her slender figure close to his own, one hand resting on her waist, the other entangled in her soft golden hair. When they stopped to catch their breath, Zelda leaned back and spoke. "Tell me you don't love me," she said. He couldn't. She knew that he couldn't. But if he didn't walk away now, it would end up the way it always did. He ran one hand down her cheek, neck, down over her side to her waist.
"Don't do this to me," he murmured, feeling almost drunk. Confused on his own feelings.
"You love me, and I love you," Zelda replied. He leaned forward to kiss her. Just like the saying. Love is like oxygen. He couldn't live without it. But he was still doubting her. And he couldn't stop thinking about Fayzie.
"It isn't enough, Zel. This isn't enough. No number of kisses can prove it to me," he finally said. Zelda stared at him, her face pale, and she stepped away.
"If that is how you wish it to be!" she snapped. They she turned, and rushed down off the dias, and out of the doors. He watched her retreating figure sadly, only then realising that he too, was crying.
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