Disclaimer: I don’t want to get in whatever trouble people can get into when using other people’s 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 (arcadionseye@btopenworld.com)

Chapter 8


As dusk fell, Zelda headed out deep into the grounds of the hold, as far away from civilisation as possible. She knew that when Link discovered her missing from their room, he would certainly come and hunt her out, and wherever she went, he would no doubt find her. He could always sense exactly where she was, and so it didn't give her much time. Coming upon a small clearing that contained what she needed, a small, clear pool, she stopped and gazed down into it. The night stars were reflected in its almost mirror-like surface, twinkling brightly. Not even a ripple disturbed its perfection. The princess glanced around again, making sure that she was truly alone. She didn't even want the fey seeing what she was about to do, it might get back to Sprite, who would surely tell Link. And she didn't want him to know. Didn't want him to worry. Finally sure, she took a deep breath, and knelt down before the tiny pond, gazing right into it. Then, closing her eyes and concentrating as hard as possible, she drew from the power of her Triforce, letting the ether flow from her mind, and into the pool.

"Show me North Castle..." she murmured to herself, opening her eyes and watching the pool intently. The waters glowed slightly, seeming to shift into a magical picture. When it finally cleared, Zelda could see a top down view of her home, starting from inside the Triforce Tower. There, she could see her magical artefact, and not a thing seemed or felt, out of place. Using the spell, she could navigate around any part of the castle, check anything, and everything. But it all seemed to be in order. Neither her castle, nor her family, appeared to be in any immediate danger. There was Brianna, sleeping peacefully in her crib, the night guards all alert, patrolling the battlements. No presence of evil lingered there at all. The princess blinked, and bit her lip, confused. Maybe she was imagining it. Nothing seemed wrong at all. But she still couldn't shake it off... that... feeling. As the glow on the water faded, taking the picture with it, another thought began to permeate the princess' mind. Kaibre. Kaibre, who was on a one-man quest to find the wicked Mara Hespera. The evil healer, who was planning... something. Maybe that was what her feelings were picking up on. Mara's supposed plan to carry out divine resurrection, which Sprite's faerie friends had suspected. Zelda's blood was slowly turning to ice. Resurrection of an evil entity... Zelda had seen the cut in Ewan's wrist, but she had said not a word to anyone. In fact, she'd begun to block the whole incident out of her mind. But her son's blood had been taken, Mara's plan was already underway. The chill of realisation spread through her even further. The entity had already risen, and Zelda could feel it. It was close, whatever it was. It wasn't at North Castle, it was here, on this very island...

This confused Zelda slightly. If Mara was indeed, controlling such an entity, why had she sent it here? Surely the Triforce was what the healer wanted. It was what everyone wanted... wasn't it? Or was the resurrection for a far more sinister purpose? Mara had tried to scare Zelda, was it possible that the healer wanted her dead? Or Link? Or both of them? But of course. With her dead, the spell of the Triforce Tower would be broken... Shaking her head to herself, she concentrated on the pool again.

"Show me Kaibre Lainge..." she said softly, watching the waters begin to magically change. An image of Kaibre, lying on the grass, flashed in the pool. Zelda let out a small gasp, all the colour draining from her face. He did not look like he was sleeping. A copse of trees grew nearby, but otherwise, he was out in the open. Zelda scanned the area, but no landmarks could help her discern the sell-sword's location... Suddenly, the sound of footsteps sounded nearby, a twig snapping underfoot. She jumped up, away from the pool, as if she'd been burnt, coming face to face with her husband, who gazed at her questioning. The waters had settled back to normal, revealing nothing other than the stars.

"Zel?" Link asked, stepping forward again. Zelda swallowed. "What are you doing out here? I thought you were sick..." he started.

"I... I just wanted some fresh air," Zelda hurriedly lied. Link didn't look convinced. She changed tactics. "Okay, okay, actually, I came out here for another reason," she said, trying to smile at him. He raised his eyebrows slightly. She stepped forward, still smiling. "Remember how you said we should... well..."

"Zel, if you're sick, you really shouldn't be..." Link started.

"I feel MUCH better now. I knew you'd come looking for me, I wanted you to. I've been waiting here for you... isn't it so romantic here?" she murmured, stepping even closer.

"I guess," Link agreed, still looking a bit confused. She took hold of his hand, holding it tightly.

"Look at the sky, can't you see the stars? It's a perfect night," she whispered. Link followed her gaze upwards, looking towards the heavens. The stars twinkled brightly, pulsating with silver fire.

"Yes, you're right..." he murmured, still gazing upwards.

"Remember when we used to do this, just look at the stars? Aren't they beautiful?" Zelda questioned, only inches away from him now. Link scratched his chin a little, finally turning to gaze at his wife. All he could see was the beautiful woman stood before him, her deep green eyes shining with a light of their own, the moonlight dancing off her hair, making it almost shimmer. Her strange behaviour from earlier in the day was forgotten, all he saw was his wife, the way he'd always loved her. Beautiful, and solely his. And they were alone here, their worries gone.

"I can remember something else we used to do then too," he said, unable to refrain from kissing her any longer. Zelda gladly met his warm embrace, and tried to forget exactly what she had just witnessed there in the pool. But it tugged at her heart, and the feeling of evil was growing stronger. She couldn't hide that from Link. He moved away from her almost as soon as he sensed her heart was not in the kiss as his was. A frown crossed his usually amicable face, as his blue eyes gazed into hers questioningly. "What is it Zel, what can you feel?" he asked. Zelda let the act drop. It was too late, he knew. She couldn't keep it from him any longer.

"A presence of evil. And it's here, near," she whispered.

"I feel it too, but it feels far away," Link replied, his face now etched with worry.

"Mara... she needed Ewan... she needed his blood," Zelda said, her voice almost cracking.

"What?! How long have you known this?!" Link questioned.

"A few days. Sprite's friends told me they suspected Mara of divine resurrection... the awakening of a daemon," Zelda replied, her face turning pale once more. Link's face was paling too. He shook his head.

"No... no, surely not," he whispered, his tone becoming anguished.

"I tried to push it out of my mind, I tried to pretend it wasn't going to happen. I didn't think she was powerful enough..." Zelda wept. She heard Link cursing under his breath angrily. Another minute passed, and then he was unsheathing his sword, his face the very epitome of anger.

"And she used my son for this? She used our son, to raise evil?! I'll kill her, she cannot be allowed to live! No-one touches Ewan like that, and gets way with it!" he cried angrily. Zelda caught hold of his arm, worried. She had rarely seen Link lose his temper, and she hated it when he did.

"Link, please! Calm down," she pleaded.

"I only thought she had kidnapped Ewan, perhaps for bargaining for the Triforce. And you knew all along why, you didn't tell me! This isn't the first time you've done it, either! Why the lies, why Zelda?" he accused.

"I wanted to protect you," Zelda whimpered. "Catalia..."

"To hell with Catalia! Some witch is raising daemons for goodness knows what purpose, and you don't say anything? You pack us all off here, and pretend it isn't happening?! What the hell is going on with you, Zelda?" Link shouted. Zelda flinched, and stepped away.

"I told you! I didn't think she was powerful enough to do it!" she cried in defence.

"Well, she obviously is! You can feel it, and so can I! Why the hell didn't you have her hunted out and arrested, before she caused such damage?!" Link demanded, his eyes burning angrily.

"I... I sent Kaibre Lainge to find her! I didn't know how dangerous she was Link, I swear! I didn't think it would come to this! I didn't think anyone in this world would be able to perform such a spell, I thought we were safe!" Zelda replied truthfully.

"Oh yes, send Kaibre! He did such a good job of protecting Ewan, after all, didn't he?" Link said sarcastically.

"That wasn't his fault!" Zelda automatically snapped. Link glared at her.

"Maybe Robert was correct! Maybe Kaibre and Mara were in on this together! We would have heard news by now, if Mara had been caught!" he exclaimed.

"No! Kaibre and Mara were not in league!" Zelda argued.

"How can you be so sure? You barely knew either of them," Link said.

"Because Kaibre is dead!" Zelda cried.

"What? How do you know?!" Link asked, his eyes narrowing.

"I saw him... in a vision," Zelda said, her voice barely audible. Link shook his head, still looking furious.

"I don't know what has come over you recently, but I can't believe you'd keep something so important from me!" he said.

"I didn't want you to worry!" Zelda replied.

"Well, it's too late now!!" Link retorted.

"We can't do anything until this being manifests itself," Zelda rationalised. Link finally sheathed his sword, and nodded.

"You're right. All we can do is wait. But I can't believe the way you've acted, I won't forgive you for this, ever," he said bitterly. Then he walked away, leaving Zelda stood alone in the clearing, shaking, just not from the sudden cold wind, but from anger and from grief, that clawed away at her anguished heart.

Kaibre awoke with a start, as if startled from a dream. He blinked once, twice, his fingers twitching as he tried to realise where he was. His hands felt damp, and he realised he was resting, face down, in some long grass. He shivered, the sky above him was dark, a cascade of stars punctuated the gloom, but he saw no moon. He let out a cough, and to his disgust, a copper tasting fluid passed between his lips and dribbled down his chin. He raised a hand to wipe it away, the bristles of his unkept beard made it no easy task though. He held his fingers aloft in the dim light cast by the stars. Blood. He tried to move his body, but every bone seemed to protest, unyielding to his commands. He let out a breath and squeezed shut his eyes, trying to block out the throbbing pain that had begun to thrum inside his skull. His hands were cold, freezing in fact, but the rest of his body seemed colder. He tried to massage some warmth back into his stiffening fingers and wiped his face, which had suddenly become damp with beads of perspiration. He opened his mouth to call out, but his throat was dry as sand, and nothing but a raspy whisper left his lips. He raised his unwilling eyes once more, and saw a copse of trees nearby, swaying gently in the midnight breeze. He raised one hand before him feebly and rubbed one agitated eye, letting out a small sigh. He was worn with fatigue, and so cold...so cold that he barely moved, as if frozen in time. He didn't know where he was, and as his senses gradually returned he suddenly remember the words of Robert. He wanted war with Hyrule. And Mara wanted Zelda's life. He looked down at his hands, the skin on his wrists was torn and bleeding, caused no doubt by those chains that had held him. He had to find someone. Anyone, so that he could warn Hyrule of Robert's plans. And Mara's. He pushed his hands against the ground, and despite every muscle in his body screaming for him to stop, he levered himself off the ground and to his knees. He paused, wiping away the sweat that now stained his face, and shakily got to his feet. He took a step or two forward, and almost fell, but he threw out his arms in a bid for balance...and won. He took a deep breath, trying to discover where he was, when he noticed a stone building not far from him...it was a huge structure peeping from behind the trees. It wasn't North Castle, but it would do. He began to walk as fast as he possibly could towards the building, one leg dragging behind him slightly, his back suddenly soaking with a sudden outbreak of sweat. His pulse quickened and his breaths quickly became rapid, but not laboured. There was still some life in him yet, no matter how little.

As Link and Zelda left the cover of the woods that shrouded the hold, they heard the laboured footfalls of some stranger, entering the clearing which homed the hold. Link paused, taking Zelda's wrist and pushing her aside, drawing his sword. A pitiful figure was heading their way, a man, lean in build, but obviously injured in someway, or lame, his walk was nearer a hobble. Link drew his sword and called out, his voice loud and clear in the night sky.

"Who goes there?" The figure stopped, his features still masked by the poor light, then began to head their way, quicker this time, their arms stretched forward, as if imploring.

"Link," began Zelda, but he had already left her to approach the man, whose ragged breaths could be heard clearly now in the stillness.

"Answer me now, who are you?" demanded Link. 50 yards from where they stood, the figure suddenly toppled forward, falling to their knees, and Zelda winced as she heard the stranger hacking painfully, as if all breath had left them.

"Link go and help them, they are hardly a threat," suggested Zelda, pushing her husband. Link looked to Zelda.

"Well, you can't be too sure what's real and what isn't these days. Especially with some daemon stalking about." Zelda cringed at Link's words, he was still angry, they had not spoken a word in their walk back. Link went forward anyway, but he didn't put away his sword. Zelda followed her husband, although not too closely, and she squeezed shut her eyes as she heard the stranger vomiting as they drew near.

"Please, help me..." Zelda's eyes shot open as she heard those words, saw that hand reaching out. Kaibre! She pushed past Link, and ran towards Kaibre, half stricken, half elated by his appearance. When she saw his torn wrists, his mud smeared face, and the ugly gash on his chest, half hidden by his shirt, she called out to Link.

"Link! Please, go and get Selina. Tell her it is urgent!" Link did not hesitate, and he quickly left, although he was in two minds about leaving his wife alone in the open.

Zelda took Kaibre's hand, and crouched down beside him, staring down at his bowed head.

"Kaibre, where have you been? What happened?!" her voice was a touch on the shrill side, but she did not care. There were more things to worry about right now. Kaibre raised his head, slowly, and Zelda saw him grimace in pain as he did so. He clutched her hand in his own, his eyes meeting her with a level of intensity she had never seen in any mans eyes before.

"Mara and Robert..." she watched him swallow, grimacing once more. She put a hand to his chest,

"Wait." She dropped his hand, and closed her eyes, cursing herself for using the majority of her powers earlier on for that other spell. She did a quick pattern in the air above Kaibre's head, and prayed that she had enough power to heal his smaller wounds. A soothing blue light suddenly shone between her outstretched palms, and it fell towards Kaibre, enveloping him in a shimmering veil. It lasted all but a few seconds then simply evaporated, but it had worked. She heard Kaibre sigh with relief. He looked up to Zelda. "What is it about Robert and Mara?" asked Zelda as softly as she could. Was it they that had done this to Kaibre? A man who had never done anything to deserve such pain. Like Link...Her thoughts were broken by the sudden tightness she felt around her hand, Kaibre was staring at her, his eyes wide. "Kaibre?" He let out a sudden gasp and dropped Zelda's hand, clutching at his heart. She watched his forehead crease in pain, and his eyes squeezed shut, screwing tighter and tighter, tiny lines breaking out everywhere on his face.

"Zelda," he managed to half gasp.

"Oh no, Kaibre what is it?" Where were Selina and Link? They should surely be here now.

"R-Robert wants...revenge," spluttered Kaibre, descending into another coughing fit. Zelda could do nothing but watch, he must have some internal injury that was affecting him, something her powers were beyond healing.

"Revenge? Kaibre? What for? In what way?" asked Zelda desperately, finding his hand once more, drawing it close to her heart. He look up at her, his brow creased with plain agony.

"Zelda, I'm dying..." Zelda stared at Kaibre, the words not quite registering at first, hitting her like an arrow through her flesh.

"No...Selina's coming, she'll help!" Kaibre shook his head.

"Robert and Mara," he was once again cut off by a fit of coughing, Zelda winced as she saw him spit blood and saliva from his mouth. "They're planning something and I..." Zelda watched as he gripped his heart once more, his eyes once more screwed shut. She placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Can you walk?" He did not reply, she wasn't sure if he had heard or not. She suddenly heard footsteps behind her, and her heart leapt when she saw Link and Selina. Before she could call out to them though, she realised Kaibre's grip on her hand had suddenly loosened. "Kaibre?" she whispered. The sellsword suddenly slumped forward, and Zelda only moved aside just in time as he fell to the floor. Selina and Link reached Zelda's side just as he fell, and Selina fell to her knees, taking Kaibre's wrist, feeling for a pulse admist the bloodied skin. "Is he okay?" asked Zelda tearfully. Link looked to her, frowning.

"What happened to him?" he asked. Zelda looked up at Link, gulping.

"Mara and Robert I think." Her lips turned down at the edges in a grimace, and tears streaked her cheeks. Link looked to Selina, who gave him a concerned gaze.

"Zelda...he's dead." Zelda let out an anguished sob of denial, and rose unsteadily to her feet.

"No! He can't be!" Link stepped towards her, but she stepped away from him. Selina turned Kaibre over, examining him closely.

"Judging by his wounds, he was lucky to last this long," commented Selina, flinching at the ugly wound that sported his chest. She undid his shirt further, and realised it was in the shape of a cross. Was it of some significance perhaps?

"Lucky? You call that lucky? If that is the case, I would dread to see what you consider as misfortune!" snapped Zelda angrily, turning on Selina.

"Hey Zel, there's no need to..." began Link, trying to calm down his wife. Zelda ignored him, her tone softening.

"And there's nothing you can do for him?" Selina looked up at Zelda, and the princess realised she already knew the answer. Zelda turned to Link.

"Go and get Krin. Kaibre has already lost his life, but it doesn't mean he must lose his dignity as well. I won't have him left out here to rot." Link could do nothing but nod, and quickly slipped away, leaving Zelda and Selina alone. Once he had gone, Zelda kneeled down beside Kaibre, stroking his hair back from his forehead. Selina could only watch, a lump forming in her own throat. As she looked at the dark trees around her, she couldn't help but think of Aramis. He had died here too. "Mara did this to him." Selina stared at her friend, the words were so vacantly spoken, and Selina could think of nothing to say in reply.

That next morning, the entire hold was shrouded in silence. The events of the previous night had quickly spread, including the unfortunate rumour that someone, something, more than a mere vagabond had committed the crimes involving the dead man that now lay in the hold's chapel. But while some could pass it off as mere rumour, there was those that could not.

"I sent Tiffany and Felicity looking for that witch! And look what happened to the man that found her...what if...what if..." Sprite could not bring herself to finish the rest of the sentence. Carrie looked across to the slouched figure of her friend, wishing there was just a word she could say to convince her otherwise. She could not though, for she also shared the fears of her friend. Tiffany and Felicity should have sent some word by now, and they hadn't. The possibilities of what was keeping them was endless, but Carrie could only think of the most terrible of reasons. Sprite looked up at her friend, looking clearly upset, and her voice cracked as she spoke.

"If anything has happened to either of them...I'll never forgive myself." Carrie remained silent, running her tongue across her dry lips nervously. "Never." Sprite shook her head, casting her gaze back to the ground.

"I expect that Zelda might send some men to search Death Mountain. I mean...that's where Kaibre thought she was, wasn't it?"

"Yes, but he didn't tell Zelda where she was yesterday! He didn't tell her where he had been. And Selina said that his injuries would have killed him long before he reached the Hold if he had been journeying from Death Mountain," sobbed Sprite, wringing her hands. Carrie paused a moment, before she spoke once more.

"Where else would she hide though?" Sprite glanced up at her red-haired friend, her eyes shimmering with tears.

"There is plenty of places. It wouldn't surprise me if she were here at the hold!"

"Oh Sprite, don't say things like that!"

"I can't help it. Kaibre must have been close by to get those wounds..."

"What if...what if someone used magic to transport him?"

"Like who? It wouldn't make sense for Mara to do it, because he has alerted everyone about her now...so who?" Carrie paused, slightly stumped. Sprite had made a point. She dare not suggest a possible solution.

"What if it was Felicity?" Sprite looked up once more.

"She could have, but if she had the power to do that, surely she would have healed him first. And sending Kaibre still doesn't make sense. Zelda is the only one who seems to have trusted him, so surely Felicity would have been better off sending Tiffany..." Carrie nodded. It had been too much to hope.

"What about...Navi?" Carrie regretted the question as soon as it left her lips, but it was a question that had to be asked.

"What about her?" asked Sprite, disdain creeping into her voice.

"Well, she might be able to help Sprite. I mean she probably knows things even Felicity doesn't. If she could help, Sprite, then this whole argument should be put aside. For now at least." Sprite looked over Carrie for a minute, biting her lip.

"I don't see how she could help," she finally decided.

"Well if we don't ask, we won't know." Sprite thought it over for a little longer. She knew Carrie was right. This was no time to be pre-occupied with silly arguments. Even if Navi had tried to get her exiled. Sprite let out a sigh.

"You're right. And no time is like the present." She rose to her feet from the exposed tree root she had been perched upon. Carrie managed a small smile.

"If it helps, it'll be worth it," she reminded her friend in a small voice. Sprite didn't want to think about if it didn't help.

Footsteps echoed loudly as Zelda stepped into the chapel of the hold. Her expression was downcast, and she walked slowly to the altar, kneeling before it and making the sign of the Goddesses. She had not been able to sleep, and already shadows had taken place under her normally bright green eyes. Now her eyes were dull and listless, her skin seemed pale and though her golden hair still shone in the light of the sun that flooded through the windows, it seemed as lifeless as the rest of her. The keeper of the chapel, an elderly Hylian man with flowing white hair, saw Zelda and approached her, kneeling beside her, and placed his hand on her shoulder.

"Your highness," he acknowledged.

"I sent that man to his death."

"You were not the cause of his death." The Keeper stood, and lit a tall white candle that sat on the altar. Zelda stood with him.

"If it hadn't been for me, he would still be alive now," whispered Zelda, tears running freely down her face. The Keeper turned to Zelda and hugged her.

"The Fates cannot be changed, my dear. Everyone has their time, however unfair it may seem. Nothing you could have done would have prevented this tragedy." Zelda looked at the Keeper, his grey eyes as wise as his words.

"Why must a good man die when there are so many evil men in the world?" The Keeper bowed his head.

"There is a reason for everything, you highness. It may take years at the least to ever know why a good man must die, or it may never surface as to why one thing or the other must happen. The man died in Hyrule, and you say he has no family. Would you like an honourable man to have an honourable grave here at the hold?"

"His wife and child were murdered. I would have him buried with them, but I know not where they lie," Zelda said sadly.

"Then with your consent he shall be laid to rest in this noble place," the Keeper replied. Zelda let out a small sob, her head in her hands.

"He didn't deserve it..." And with that, she turned and ran from the chapel.



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