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)
"I should return to Catalia." Mara looked at Robert as he made the statement, and she gave a slow nod.
"I suppose you should," she agreed.
"I need to organise my army," he continued, Mara idly listening.
"I expect so. But remember, Hyrule is not to be struck yet. Only when she has been significantly weakened," she reminded.
"And how is that going to come about?" asked Robert. Mara smiled at him playfully.
"I can't give away my trade secrets!" she exclaimed coyly. Robert stood and leaned over closer to her, his eyes searching hers.
"If I don't know your plans, I am hardly going to be able to make my own," he said in a low voice. Mara returned his gaze, and replied in an even tone.
"And I can't have the risk of you 'accidentally' telling someone of my 'plans'," she retorted, displeased by his attitude, which until now had been relatively indifferent. Robert frowned, his eyes narrowing.
"And why would I have cause to do that?" It sounded like more of a challenge than a question. Mara let out a sigh.
"All you need to know is that my magic alone is enough to stifle Hyrule...and her allies if necessary. You will be, as they say, the proverbial icing on the cake," said Mara coolly. Robert seized her arm, gripping it tightly.
"How do you know your magic will be enough?" he asked, his green eyes glaring into her own. Mara pursed her lips for a moment, then smiled.
"Hyrule sees only what she wishes too. She only hears what she likes to hear, and she only thinks her own thoughts. Her own ignorance is my power. Have your army ready, but on no account move them. Do not let Hyrule know what is coming, let them find out when it is too late." Robert released Mara's arm, and nodded.
"How will I know when you are ready?" he asked, his attitude suddenly complacent again. Mara continued to smile. She stepped forward and took Robert's hand in her own, and kissed him.
"You will know," she whispered in his ear.
As Tiffany and Felicity entered Death Mountain via the concealed entrance that just about everyone knew about, they heard footsteps up ahead.
"Quick!" urged Felicity, flying up to the top of the passage, and sitting in a convenient niche in the wall. Tiffany quickly joined her, her feelings of ease rapidly declining by the second.
"Monsters?" asked Tiffany in a low voice. Felicity did not reply, instead intently watching the passage below her. Suddenly a man with dark hair walked beneath them, apparently oblivious to their presence. In a few seconds he was gone, obviously heading away from the mountain. Tiffany let out a sigh of relief, and turned to her friend.
"Who was that?" she asked, slightly curious of the man. Felicity shrugged.
"I couldn't say, but we don't have time to follow him. He certainly wasn't Mara, and that's who we're here for, so we'd best forget about him for now," said Felicity quietly, her voice wavering slightly. Now that they'd entered the mountain, she was feeling even worse. Her stomach was filled with agonising cramps, and her head was filled by a constant drone of chronic aching. She was feeling weak with fatigue, but something was pulling her here, something was compelling her to go further. She stood, and fluttered down back into the passage, Tiffany following.
"Flis? Are you alright?" The words were inaudible to Felicity, that buzz of pain was the only thing she could hear. Tiffany grabbed Felicity's hand when no reply came, and forced Felicity to look at her.
"Flis?" she asked, raising her voice. Tiffany looked at her friend, her usually carefree features suddenly overwritten with worry. Felicity's expression in itself was vague, and her eyes were misty, as if she wasn't focusing properly. Felicity suddenly fell forward, and Tiffany held out her arms to support her, guiding both of them to the ground. She slowly lowered Felicity into a sitting position, and placed her hand on Felicity's forehead, surprised by the warmth and perspiration that transferred to her palm. She closed her eyes and intoned a few words of a healing spell, hoping to quell Felicity's sudden fever. It didn't help. Unease crept in, and Tiffany looked around helplessly.
"Flis!" she cried, trying to break Felicity out of her stupor. Felicity suddenly gripped Tiffany's arm, and opened her mouth.
"We need to get out of here," she coughed dryly. Tiffany nodded.
"That I have no objections to!" Tiffany replied. She helped Felicity to her feet when a shadow suddenly fell over the two. Tiffany swallowed and cast her gaze upwards, to see a woman she only knew as Mara standing over them. Mara smiled down at them.
"So...which of you is the one with the power?" she asked. Tiffany stood frozen, while Felicity's pain subsided slightly, allowing her to answer the question.
"That would be me," she answered, her voice dry. Mara smiled, and slammed a cage down on the two.
Tiffany suddenly snapped into action, and tried to drag herself and Felicity away, but Mara had a considerable advantage. Mara slid the bottom of the cage shut, and held it up, peering in at the two. Tiffany glared at Mara, and tried to cast a 'fire bolt' spell. It failed.
"No magic works in that cage," Mara informed her calmly. Tiffany frowned, anger taking over from fear.
"You won't get away with this!" she began irately. Mara smiled.
"Oh no need to be so cliché! I have every intention of getting away with this, and you, and no-one else will stop me!" retorted the witch.
By the time they all arrived at Valour hold, it was late afternoon, and everyone went their separate ways to unpack and prepare for the impending welcoming meal. Link was soon done, but Zelda was still trying out every dress she had brought with her, and her mood seemed that of agitation. Deciding it'd be best to leave her on her own for a while, Link decided to take a stroll around the grounds, in a bid to relax himself for the meal.
"Well, that's me done," exclaimed Selina happily as she sat down on the bed. She had managed to unpack her things in little under an hour, which was quite an achievement, for her anyway. Nick was lain back on the bed, his eyes closed. "Nick?" asked Selina, leaning closer to him.
"Mmm?" She smiled.
"How about we go for a walk?" she suggested, her hands on his chest. Nick opened his eyes, and took one of her hands in his own.
"I must be getting old," he commented dryly, looking tired. "I'm exhausted," he added. Selina nodded her head, and gave his a small kiss.
"Are you okay?" Her husband nodded in response.
"Yes...I think. I should be alright if I have some sleep though," Nick answered. Selina sat up, looking slightly concerned. She put one hand across his forehead.
"Are you sure?" she asked, taking her hand away. He was warm, but nothing immediate struck Selina about his condition.
"You could still go for that walk. I might be out in a bit," said Nick, avoiding the question.
"I suppose," mused Selina, "but I don't want to leave you if you aren't feeling well."
"I'm fine, really. Just my side...you know how it gets," assured Nick. Selina nodded. His side. He had a nasty scar there, from fighting against those Tanolians in the Dalsonian War when he had been younger. She leaned down and kissed his forehead.
"If you're sure," she began.
"I am." Selina rose from the bed and quickly left, not quite reassured by her husband's words. He had been a little strange ever since Zelda and Link had arrived back from Catalia. She decided she was probably reading too much into it though, and left the hold, to enjoy its illustrious grounds.
The hold was not only renowned for its incredible training, and discipline, it was also known on a lesser level for its tranquil beauty. Such a setting was needed, it helped all those hopefuls focus themselves, being so isolated from everyone else apart from their fellow comrades. And the surrounding scenery of the Hold was truly beautiful at this time of year...well it was all year, or so he had heard. But the trees were leafy and green, and the sun shone enticingly through the branches, the sound of a slowly trickling spring could be heard not far off, accompanied by the cheerful song of some of the more feathered inhabitants of the island. He let out a small sigh as he walked under the canopy of the trees, a light breeze gently brushing through the leaves, the whole scene just the epitome of calm. Zelda should come here, he wryly thought, his boots treading on the slightly sandy track that wound through the trees. He took a deep breath, inhaling greedily the summer air, and the slight smile on his face widened noticeably, and he closed his eyes for a moment just savouring every moment, every step he took through this haven of peace. He opened his eyes once more, exhaling loudly, his mood already calmer than it had been just minutes before. He suddenly heard the light steps of a stranger behind him, and he quickly turned, his heart beat increasing in uneasy apprehension. He smiled when he saw who was stood before him.
"Selina!" he greeted, giving a small bow. The Queen of Dalsona. He paused, an awkward smile. "I never could get used to that title of yours," he admitted, scratching his cheek. She simply smiled back, and the sun that shone down through the trees only increased her apparent radiance.
"Just as I could never get used to yours, Prince Link," she grinned. He just grinned back at her, and turned, inviting her to walk with him.
"So, what brings you out here, alone?" he asked, surprised at the absence of Nick. When he thought about it, he could've sworn it was the first time he'd seen them apart since they'd wed. Selina just gave a small shrug, a shade of concern crossing her pretty features.
"Nick wasn't feeling so good...so he said. I think something may be worrying him, but he won't say..." started Selina, trailing off. Link just echoed her shrug.
"Zelda is being a bit testy, I think Fayette agitated her on the way over, but, you know Zel, she always was like that," said Link. Selina smiled. "Nick's probably just recovering off the last few days, I think we all are." Selina nodded to Link's added comment.
"You're probably right," she agreed. Link turned to her, an expression of mock horror on his face.
"Probably right? What?! Hey, you fine well know I am always right!" he exclaimed. Selina just laughed.
"Oh, my apologies," she grinned. Link just smirked and continued working. Selina joined him, and for a few minutes they just followed the trail, until they came to a small clearing. Selina let out a breath at the sight, and smiled at Link. "This place...it's beautiful!" she said in a whisper, as if she didn't want to disturb the sheer beauty of the place. Gentle blossom trees decorated the spot, each tree adorned with bright whites and pale pinks that shimmered in the late afternoon sunlight. A tiny stream surfaced at the edge and ran through, disappearing back into the undergrowth once more. Link smiled at her exclamation.
"Nah, there are places twice this nice in Dalsona!" he argued. Selina turned to him.
"But when you live somewhere, you tend to take things for granted," she pointed out, taking a seat on a half buried log that rested under the shade of one of the blossom trees. Link joined her.
"So tell me, oh gracious Queen of Dalsona. How fairs your blessed life?" asked Link, his voice a poor impression of a gallant knight. Selina gave him a coy smile.
"Favourably," she answered. Link took another breath, enjoying the clean sensation that soared through his lungs. "And you?" The question shouldn't have caught him off guard, but it did. He didn't even know the answer. Selina looked visibly concerned by his pause, and she slipped her hand over his own. "Link?" He turned to her, and he quickly moved to speak, but he could think of no words to say. He hadn't even thought himself of how things were for him. He swallowed, creasing his forehead and scratching the back of his neck uneasily. Selina smiled at him sympathetically, and rubbed his shoulder comfortingly. "If you need to talk, I'm always here," she said softly, and Link nodded, casting his gaze to the ground.
"I guess...I guess it wasn't a question I'd even asked myself yet," he admitted.
"Oh Link, I can't even begin to imagine what you or Zelda must be thinking right now...I mean, what went on in Catalia?" inquired Selina. Link just tried to force the uncomfortable lump that was forming in his throat, and refrained from speaking, afraid no voice would come. "Come here," implored the Queen, before pulling Link into an embrace. She ran one hand down the back of his head, and hugged him tightly. He hugged her back. Before long though, they parted, and Link stared at her with glistening eyes. Link ran one hand across his lips, and then spoke, his voice wavering as he did so.
"God, Selina, what happened over there..." he couldn't even bring himself to describe it. She ran one hand up and down his arm, shaking her head.
"It always happens to the best people," she murmured sadly. Link let out a sigh and turned his eyes to the sky.
"And Zelda, I don't know her anymore. Something went on while I was away, and she hasn't been the same since," confided Link suddenly, doubts pouring from his lips he hadn't even realised until that moment. Selina paused a moment, not knowing what to say.
"Link, Zelda loves you, she loves you more than life itself. She's bound to be different, she was so worried about you Link, she was sick with worry all the time you were gone," insisted Selina. Link shook his head.
"I never wanted her to see me like that, ever. But she did, and I'm so glad she came, because if she didn't, I might have never seen her again," said Link, his voice growing hoarse. Selina gazed at Link, and hugged him once more, wishing she could do more to comfort her friend.
"I could talk to her, if you want. She might say more to me. She must have things on her mind the same as you," offered Selina. Link looked up at her and nodded.
"If you would...I'd appreciate it. I just can't seem to say much these days," he murmured slowly. Selina nodded.
"I will, and don't worry. You just both need time, once you've had time and thought things through...you'll be right as rain," she smiled wryly as she came out with the cliché expression. Link managed a short laugh, and he managed a smile at Selina.
"Nick is one lucky man," he commented, slowly gaining hold of his emotions once more. Selina shyly averted her gaze.
"Zelda is one lucky woman," she retorted. They sat in silence for a while, just listening to the shifting leaves that were rustled by the passing breeze, and the pleasant birdsong in the trees. Finally Selina stood, noting the lengthening tree shadow. "We'd best get back," she suggested, taking his hand and helping him up.
"Yeah," he said, and followed her from the clearing, hoping Selina would be able to shift the obvious worries that were plaguing his wife's mind.
The two had been out longer than they had realised, and by the time they arrived back at the hold, dinner had already been served. The two slipped quietly into their seats, but as soon as Link had sat down, Fayette was no quicker off the mark than he had expected.
"Hmmm, what have you two been up to?" she inquired nosily, a little annoyed that Kendar had not yet arrived.
"We went for a walk in the grounds," answered Selina coldly, nodding in appreciation to the servant who served her meal.
"It's really beautiful out there," commented Link with a nod as he began to eat his meal. He didn't notice Zelda's scowl across the table.
"It always is this time of year," agreed Krin, who was seated at the head.
"Oh yes I'm sure. A very romantic walk in the woods was it?" pressed Fayette. Selina gave Fayette a look of pure distaste, but the spoilt princess just revelled in it. "Ohhh, touchy!" she exclaimed, but Selina just shook her head.
"Believe whatever you want to believe, Lady Fayette," dismissed Selina. Fayette just chuffed in return and turned back to her meal. Everyone else sat in silence, just concentrating on eating their own meals. By the time it was all over, Selina was glad to escape, but not before Fayette caught up with her.
"I've said all I want to say to you," muttered Selina, her eyes narrowing at Fayette. Fayette suddenly gave an expression of smugness, and smirked at the Queen.
"I'm surprised really. One would have thought this place would have given you of all people bad memories." The words hit Selina like a pick through ice. She stared at Fayette.
"Don't even bring that up," she warned, her voice low as she tried to control her temper. Fayette just smiled.
"I was only making a passing comment," she said innocently. Selina shook her head in disbelief.
"That is low, even for you," she murmured. Fayette was of course referring to Selina's first love, Aramis Dunston. He had died here over seven years ago, killed by a group of Darknuts. She had never been able to save him, and she regretted leaving him alone with the group of monstrous knights to this very day.
"And you and Link, how friendly you appear to be!" said Fayette, seamlessly changing the subject.
"Perhaps that's because we're friends," muttered Selina darkly, agitated by the princess' insinuations. Fayette frowned a moment.
"Now are you sure about that?" she questioned patronisingly, "Only, I know how confusing the line between friends and lovers can get for certain 'classes'." Selina glared at Fayette, quite disbelieving the woman's gall.
"Pardon?" she asked, not quite taking in what was being said.
"You heard what I said. It's only natural that you and Link would be drawn to one another, being of the same 'type' and all," said Fayette. Selina gritted her teeth, as she felt a red hot anger rising in her, resisting the temptation to do Faye some real damage.
"Don't even go there Faye. Me and Link are just friends, good friends. And I love him, I really do. But not like I love Nick." Fayette shrugged a little, a thoughtful shadow crossing her face.
"I always wondered, you know...Leigh Temple, now she was a woman for casting spells, especially over men..." Selina took a deep breath, not liking the way this conversation was going.
"A talent you'll remain eternally jealous of no doubt," said Selina sharply. Fayette met her gaze.
"I meant in the literal sense. I saw a mage's spell book once, a Sosarian one. There was a spell in called charm, I know she taught you things during the war..."
"What exactly are you implying?!" demanded Selina, she didn't wait for an answer, "No, wait, I already know. You probably find it to hard to believe that a man like Nick could ever love a woman as insignificant as me when he has someone like you so willing to take his arm. But believe it or not, he loves me as I love him, and it isn't because of my status, or my money or even my looks, it's because of me. And I love him for exactly the same reasons. Because Nick is Nick. You would never have appreciated things about him that I love so much, you only wanted him for the title." The outburst almost surprised Fayette, but not quite.
"It's Link I feel sorry for." The subject was once again changed, like a shifting direction in the breeze. Selina glared uncomprehendingly.
"Zelda was never right for him. They love each other yes, but they just aren't suited to each other, not like you and he would've been. And falling in love so young, well Zelda is regretting that now isn't she, she must, otherwise her eyes wouldn't be wandering."
"What?!" The expression on Faye's face was one of pure glee.
"Zelda's being feeling incredibly guilty recently. Why do you think she charged off to Catalia so suddenly?"
"Because she was worried about Link."
"Primarily maybe. But she had to get away from someone, someone who was making her feels things she never even felt for Link." Selina remained silent, unable to realise what Fayette was actually getting at.
"Her bodyguard." Selina shook her head.
"As if I'd believe you," she snapped. Fayette smiled.
"Believe as you will, Queen Selina," said the princess smugly. She then turned on one heel and swanned off, leaving a confused and bewildered Selina gaping. She shook her head and squeezed her eyes shut for a moment. Surely not. Zelda would never betray Link, she loved him too much. Fayette was just trying to cause troubles as usual. At least Selina hoped she was.
Kaibre was awoken by a sudden flare of flame before his eyes. He attempted to swallow with his parched throat, but it only pained him. He blinked once or twice, trying to coax his eyes into functioning, and as he opened them once more, he saw the heavily shadowed face of Mara before him.
"Glad you could make the time to visit me," he remarked dryly, lowering his eyes from the blazing torch she held in her hand. Mara merely smiled.
"It is nice to see, that even in pain, you can retain your sense of humour," she retorted. Kaibre merely grunted in response, desiring no more interaction with her. Mara placed one finger under his chin, forcing him to look her in the eye. He met her gaze fiercely, searching her eyes for any clue that could reveal a shred of decency in her soul. He found none. "You should consider yourself lucky. Robert wants you dead, but I have persuaded him that you could be useful to us," she told him, an amused smirk on her lips. Kaibre made a sound of disgust.
"You wasted your time. I'll never aid you, not for anything on this Demiari," he stated defiantly. Mara's smirk merely grew.
"What? Not even to spare the life of your pretty princess?" Kaibre glared at her.
"You do not have her life in your hands to make that statement," he declared. Mara stepped close to him, her breath hot on his face. Her voice dropped a note lower, and she spoke,
"You do not have any knowledge of what power I possess." She ripped open the collar of his shirt, and drew a dagger from her belt, pressing it to the middle of his chest. She looked at him with burning eyes, and he returned the stare, breathing raggedly as he waited for her next move. She tore her gaze from his, and looked thoughtfully at the line of rich red blood that trickled down his chest from the point where her dagger was poised. She smiled thoughtfully and purposely dragged the dagger down his chest in a line, etching into his skin, tearing the surface away, releasing a fresh stream of blood. He winced in pain, squeezing his eyes shut, screwing them tighter as she quickly cut upwards, redoubling the deepness of the wound. He let out a breath as she ceased, and warily opened his eyes once more, feeling weak. He saw her standing there before him smiling as gleeful as he had ever seen her, then he watched, powerless, as she took her finger and traced up and down the cut that led from his neck to the bottom of his ribcage. He winced again, biting his lip and closing his eyes, tensing as she dug her nail in. He felt his own blood trickle down his skin, and when she suddenly ceased her torture, he could hardly contain his relief.
"Did that hurt?" Kaibre opened his eyes once more.
"Not enough to ever make me serve you." Mara looked angered by his reply, and she took the dagger and slashed it horizontally across his chest, forming a cross. He let out a cry at the sudden sharpness of the pain, and sagged as it ceased. She eyed him once more.
"You have no choice in the matter. I would have never have trusted you to carry out my will anyway," she claimed, her voice taking a sinister turn. She withdrew some kind of powder from a belt that hung by her side, a neat pile lay in her outstretched palm, it was white in colour, and Kaibre could do nothing but watch her with wary eyes. He tried desperately to free himself from the walls that he was bound to, but he no longer had the strength. "You will soon be free Kaibre, so there is no need to fret. You will be freer than you have ever been," the witch promised him soothingly. She gave him a wicked smile, then blew the dust into his face, where it flew into his eyes, his nose, his mouth, causing him to splutter and cough as it entered his throat, and his eyes watering as the dust embedded itself. As he coughed and choked on the dust, the flame that had lit the room vanished, and he was left in the darkness, spluttering in desperation before he could no longer take in oxygen, causing him to slip back into a receding darkness from which he could not return.
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