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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"You've summoned him once before haven't you?" The question floated towards her from the darkness, but she still wasn't fully conscious. Blinking, she tried to raise a hand, flex her fingers, but even that seemed to take an enormous amount of effort. The question was repeated.
"I..." words failed her. She could not even comprehend the question, although she felt she should. There was a hiss as the room around Felicity was suddenly bathed in a sickeningly pale light. She swallowed nervously, and closed her eyes, trying to recall something...anything of her memory. She opened her eyes once more. A human loomed above her, a woman. Mara. Oh that name. Felicity felt an ill feeling creeping into the pit of her stomach, and she let out an audible sigh.
"Glad to see you have awakened at last." Felicity did not like that sentence. At last? How long had she been...asleep? She grimaced when the answer came to her. Too long.
"What do you want from me?" It took a lot of effort for her to say and she surprised herself when she spoke without a pause. Was her strength returning? Mara smiled down at her.
"It seems you are recovering nicely," commented the witch, failing to answer Felicity's question.
"Who is 'him'?" asked Felicity, recalling Mara's earlier question. Mara smiled.
"An entity formerly known as Razne." Felicity felt ill once more.
"I never summoned him. A portal was opened by mistake...he came through. I never summoned him." Mara simply smiled.
"Do you wonder what it is that has made you so weak?"
"I do. But that's isn't to say that I know what it is."
"I always did wonder why I never heard of any evil faeries. Then it struck me. There are plenty, but none have the power to be noticed. You, however, are the exception." Felicity now found she could stand and discovered a piece of nectarine on the floor of her prison.
"Is this leading somewhere?" Mara simply smiled.
"I think you know the answer to that." Felicity cast her eyes to the moist fruit that lay at her feet, contemplating it along with her thoughts.
"I would never use my magic for anything that was not good." She kept her eyes down, never even daring to lay her gaze upon the witch.
"And why is that?" The question was so simple in itself, but what it questioned was infinitely more complex. What is it in a person that pushes them to choose the right or wrong path? Are we born with it, taught it...or is there an altogether different reason. Is there any reason at all? Felicity tried to meet Mara's eyes as best she could, a steely determination setting in.
"Because I do not wish to misuse the gift that Nayru blessed me with." Mara laughed. It was a merry laugh, tinkling, like the copper bell that hangs over the shop door. It was not the laugh of evil.
"But why do you feel to use your powers for evil would be a misuse?" Hunger drew Felicity's eyes back to the fruit that lay upon the floor, but only for a second. "On the contrary, I feel for you to not use your powers for evil's gain would be a terrible, terrible waste."
"To you maybe. But I've seen evil throughout this land for a long time, and it has never been attractive to me at any time."
"So, you do not use your powers for evil purely because you lack interest?"
"Question me all you will, my answer will remain the same. I would rather have my soul damned for all eternity than use my powers to aid the dark forces of this world." That laugh again. Felicity frowned, she desperately wanted Mara to leave, so she could perhaps eat.
"Yet you would use your magic for the forces of goodness. Why?"
"Because I believe that's why I was given the power."
"Is it not because you like the adoration of the simpering good folk about you?"
"Not many adore me, nor do I mind. I like to help in what little way I can..."
"So you do it for personal gain? You do it to feel good." Felicity paused. Did she do it to feel good, or did she do it because she felt she should.
"I do not have to answer your empty questions. They mean little to me, and I can't see what they mean to you."
"Would you like to know?"
"Not particularly." Felicity felt that her newly found strength was slowly beginning to leave her. Was it that Mara had restored her strength only for these seemingly irrelevant questions?
"Do you never wonder, what it would be like, to rule the kingdom of your own dear friend, Queen Tamara?" Felicity felt startled at the mention of her friend, but quickly recollected her wits.
"But you are chief advisor, are you not?" How did she know so much?
"Because she asked me to be. I advise her when she asks me, I never instruct her."
"Doesn't it seem unfair to you that that empty headed Royal piece should wield a power you never will, despite you superiority in every field?"
"I don't believe your words at all. Queen Tamara does her job well, and I wouldn't wish it any other way."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes." Mara seemed to bore of the subject for a moment, and she too looked at the food by the faerie's feet. "Are you not hungry?"
"I can't trust that you haven't poisoned that."
"Would you rather starve?"
"Take it. There is no poison infecting its flesh. No poison that will kill you."
"Your word has little value to me. It would be like trusting a river not to wash away a grain of sand."
"Your insistence does little but provoke my suspicion. And I tire of this game, tell me what you want, and why?"
"To have immortality."
"That will never happen."
"Already tried have we?"
"No. But the Goddesses would see you burn before they let you live a thousand lives."
"Religious are we?"
"I'm a believer. You are not. I have no quarrel with that. I do have quarrel with you keeping me here. And what of Tiffany? Why do you keep her? I would wipe her memory myself if it would release her."
"I would never trust you to do it efficiently, although I have no doubts of your capabilities."
"Please, what of my friend?"
"She is well, for the moment."
"For the moment?" Felicity felt her skin grow cool, clammy. Was that a threat?
"Until I grow bored of her whining."
"Let her go. If you release her...if I know she has been released, if I know she is safe. Then I might consider what you wish of me." Mara laughed once more.
"Oh really? You might consider? You MIGHT? Now, now, Felicity, I'm afraid 'might' will not do. Not if you wish to see your friend live. The question is, my diminutive friend, can you compromise your principals for the price of one life?" Felicity closed her eyes for a moment. This was a truly impossible situation. It wasn't her principals she cared so much about, it was what Mara might ask of her that she was be afraid of.
"What would you have me do? Now, this minute, that would secure Tiffany's safety." Mara smiled, no laugh this time. It was a thoughtful smile.
"What would I have you do? An interesting proposition. And this sacrifice of principals, for just one single life?" Felicity opened her eyes. One life. Could she aid a person who might destroy many more...who would destroy many more...all to save just one life? "She's no-one important, is she?" Mara's voice punctuated Felicity's thoughts.
"Not to you." She waited a few seconds, trying to follow a myriad of thoughts that were trailing through her mind. "You aren't going to release me. I know that much. I can't escape, but...let my friend go. Please."
"But why should I?"
"If you don't...I'll kill myself. You know I can do it. If I'm dead, you can't do anything with me. While I'm alive, there are ways, but not when I'm dead." Mara smiled.
"An interesting theory...but what if I were to simply resurrect you?"
"Only a soul who is willing to return to this world can be resurrected. Do you think I would be willing to return, knowing it would be into your foul service?" Mara frowned.
"Say I release your friend. What is there to say that you wouldn't kill yourself afterwards?"
"Because I don't want to die."
"You told me you would rather expire than serve evil."
"I didn't. I said I would rather suffer eternal damnation. It's an entirely different thing." Her tone was dangerously low.
"I will release your friend then. She is far too tiresome. You on the other hand, could be useful." Useful? How?
"I want to know she's safe before I agree to anything."
"My word not good enough?" inquired Mara, sounding offended.
"Even you should know the answer to that question."
"I know more than you like to think." Felicity did not reply. She just hoped it was Mara doing the underestimating rather then herself.
Robert held the dagger up before him in the candle light, contemplating it thoughtfully. It was indeed a beautiful piece of workmanship, he had never seen a blade so fine. The hilt was pure silver, and decorated with intricacies that no human hand alone could have created. Tiny jewels were embedded within each embellishment, and they shone like a thousand fires. The blade itself was engraved with many runes, of a language like Robert had never seen before. He did not wonder what they said, but rather who had written them. It shone like silver, meaning it had probably been seldom used...either that or the owner had cared for it extremely well, which would have been no surprise considering its fine appearance. He gave a wry laugh, causing the candle before him to waver slightly, sending shadows dancing across the walls. It made sense then, Robert thought, that the dagger would belong to Hyrule's so-called hero. Or at least it had. It seemed Link had left the prize on Robert's own ship, but the heir to Catalia supposed it was a fair price for Link's safe passage back to Hyrule. A small smile remained on his lips as he examined the item, but it was not a smile of pleasure, nor of happiness. There seemed to lie something darker behind those upturned lips.
"Robert, what is this I have been hearing?" Robert froze. He had not heard anyone approach, which was unusual for him. It took him less than a second however to regain his composure, before he allowed himself to speak.
"Hearing?" he echoed, carefully placing the dagger back into his belt. He turned in his seat to look at the speaker. Seline. Queen Seline. She seemed a tad paler than normal in the dim light, her expression was not that of a happy woman.
"About this war." The chair creaked as Robert stood, and stepped towards the Queen of Catalia. He was taller than Seline. He looked down at her.
"They won't learn any other way." His voice was low, low and sincere. His mind clearly made. He leaned down to her and kissed her softly on the cheek. She looked up at him, her hands clasped almost in a prayer.
"Robert...Hyrule...this is a war you can't win. It's lunacy!" Robert's green eyes clouded over at his Queen's words.
"Lunacy?" Robert spat the word out with disdain, and bent his knees so they came eye to eye. "This is a war we will win. And we shall win it well."
"But how Robert?" Seline implored, her eyes shining with bright tears. Robert helped Seline to his seat, and then knelt on one knee by her side, his face tilted towards her.
"It will happen. And your country will finally have the respect it deserves. Your people will have the respect of the entire Demiari! Think Seline, think of the prizes this will bring our country!"
"Or may not. Robert, I do not share your confidence. I know that our army is a good one, the best...but Hyrule is a larger country, and Harkinian and his advisors are no fools." Robert got to his feet and strode past Seline, so that he was behind her. He rested his battle-worn hands gently on her small shoulders, and raised his chin, inhaling the air around him.
"I can see I will not be able to persuade you," his grip tightened on her shoulders, "but trust me Seline, I know what I am doing."
"I...I do not doubt your intentions Robert...not at all, you have saved this country more times than I would care to count. But your optimism, it seems misplaced. Is there something you are not telling me? Do you have supporters in Hyrule? Or is it something else?" Robert released his grip and took a step back, allowing Seline to stand. Her shadow leaped across the wall, more sprightly than she had been for the last few years. Seline turned, and looked at him, questioning with her gaze. Robert whipped his dagger from his belt and clutched it in his palm, drawing it across the skin, causing fresh blood to seep from his own flesh. He took away the dagger, and clutched his fist together, and held it before Seline, blood leaking from the wound and dripping to the floor between them.
"I have shed blood for this country. I have sacrificed everything but my life. And now here we are at peace! I would never waste that achievement for sheer pride, for sheer greed. Nothing like that would make me do this. But their negligence, their sheer arrogance...it is too much to forgive! I know Hyrule will lose. They will lose, and they will beg us for mercy. And they will know that they were wrong. For everything."
"Oh Robert," sighed Seline, stepping forward and taking Robert's bloodied hand. "They say that Link was the chosen hero, that he was special. But his feats are little when compared to your own." Robert looked down, slightly bashful for a moment. Seline watched him carefully as shadows fell across his down turned face. How she loved him. He may not be her son by blood ties, but he was the only man in the Demiari she would deem suitable for the throne of her country. She knew he would make a fine ruler, wise as he was and loved by all.
"Perhaps," Robert looked up again, breaking the silence. He smiled for the first time since Seline had entered his room. He grasped her hand, and raised it to his lips, kissing the ornate kingdom ring that was on her finger. "And I swear to you, while you live, you will not see me fail this land." Seline smiled at his words, but that smile soon faded as, with his free hand, Robert thrust his dagger into Seline's stomach. He dropped her hand as she let out a pained gasp, and she sank to her knees. She looked at him with confused eyes, tears streaming down her cheeks.
"Robert...why?" she managed to ask, her voice nearly failing her. Robert got to his knees and cupped her face with his hands.
"It's better this way, believe me," he murmured, slipping the kingdom ring from her finger. She tried to protest, but she was too weak, too overcome by pain to do anything. Blood flowed freely from her wound, but the dagger was still embedded in her stomach. Robert stood, leaving her, before stepping out into the passage, and taking a furtive look around.
Since wealth was not a thing Seline had ever held in any great quantities, there were few guards on duty that night, as was so every night. At the times of the Tanolian threats, Seline, instead of employing more guards, had simply employed that man Kaibre to look after her. Robert smiled as he thought of the one time body guard of his predecessor to the Catalian throne. He, for one, was certainly not here to foil his plans.
"Robert?" The Kokirian turned to see a guard looking at him questioningly.
"Sir, your tunic..." Robert looked down at himself. Seline's blood stained his clothes, but he simply held out his hand, still smarting from the wound he had placed there.
"A small accident," he smirked, before drawing his sword and swiftly cutting the man's throat. The guard slumped to the floor with a pathetic gurgle, and his blood spilled before Robert's path. The new King of Catalia peered down the corridor, and satisfied that it was now clear, returned to his room.
She was still alive when he returned, and she had begun to whimper pitifully, clearly her pain was rendering her quite incapable of calling for help now. Not that there was anyone else to hear. Robert shook his head and knelt besides her once again, looking down at her with a gaze of concern. She did not meet his eyes, her own darted about following the flickering shadows cast by the candle at his desk, it seemed as if she were even perhaps unaware of his presence.
In one swift movement, Robert scooped Seline up in his arms and carried her from his room. He strode past the dead guard, his boots trailing through the blood, and walked down the corridor, and into Seline's room, where he laid her upon her bed. Seline placed her hands on the dagger hilt, and tried to pull it out, but the pain was too great.
"Robert," she wheezed, "this isn't your dagger." Robert smiled, brushing her hands away.
"You...you planned this?" Robert did not answer her question. He instead drew a sheet over her limp body, and kissed her forehead. Then he placed the Kingdom Ring upon his own finger. He smiled at Seline, whose pale face had turned an ashen grey.
"It suits me, do you not think?" She did not reply. Robert paused, then walked slowly over to her bed, watching to see the fall and rise of her chest. It did not come. He pressed both fingers to her eyes, bringing down her eyelids, shutting them. "Good night, sweet queen..." he murmured, before he turned his back on her, and left the room.
Once outside, Robert removed his boots, and strolled back towards his room in a leisurely fashion, wisely avoiding the pool of blood that had spilt across the floor...as well as his own bloodied footprints.
"I hope this isn't going to be all for nothing," murmured Sprite darkly as she and Carrie entered the forest clearing that had become home to Navi and her followers. Carrie shot Sprite a reassuring smile.
"If it can help..." she reminded.
"Yeah...if." The two alighted on the ground, and looked around. The clearing was empty, no signs of life apparent.
"I guess we missed their mid-day enlightenment seminar," commented Sprite sarcastically.
"Hello?" called out Carrie, ignoring Sprite's last comment. Sprite joined in.
"Hello?!" they both called, walking about the glade. Only silence replied.
"Oh well, I guess no one is home...we should just come back another time," began Sprite. Carrie caught her arm.
"We're here. Wouldn't you rather get it over with?" Sprite looked at her friend, and finally relented.
"Good. Now they have to be around here somewhere..." replied Carrie, going further into the trees that surrounded the clearing. Sprite lagged reluctantly behind. "Hello?" Carrie's voice echoed through the trees once more. She turned back to Sprite. "There aren't any signs of them anywhere..."
"Maybe a moblin came along and ate all of them," said Sprite. Carrie smirked at her friend.
"That isn't funny," she scolded Sprite lightly.
"Yes, but I can always dream..."
"Tamara?" The two turned to see Navi approaching them from across the glade.
"That's princess-" began Sprite haughtily, but Carrie cut her off.
"Navi!" she exclaimed, giving Sprite a warning glance. "We were looking for you..."
"Well why else would we be here?" questioned Sprite, somewhat sulkily.
"Is there something wrong?" Navi appeared to ignore Sprite's tone.
"Yes...well we think there could be..." began Carrie. Navi looked about the glade and nodded.
"Well perhaps you would like to come to my home, where we can talk."
"What's wrong with out here?" asked Sprite, her arms folded.
"It'll be more comfortable inside," replied Navi.
"Sure, we'd love to go inside," said Carrie hastily, eyeing Sprite a warning. Navi smiled at the two.
"Excellent. Well, follow me."
"Oh yeah. This is really living with nature," muttered Sprite as they entered Navi's abode. It was not what the Princess had been expecting, in fact it was close to being the exact opposite of Sprite's expectations. Navi's home was inside the hollowed out trunk of a tree, the entrance close to the base of the tree itself, and well concealed from the untrained eye. Inside, it was huge. The floor was polished and swept of any debris, the walls were polished in the same way, numerous patterns carved into the walls themselves. A raised wooden platform lay at the back of the tree, where Navi's bed lay. The table that was in the middle of the room was part of the tree itself, a small carved bump, with carved stools surrounding it. The whole room was lit up with shining torches, but natural light still pooled into the room via carved windows that lay far up the tree.
"Please...sit," invited Navi, motioning towards the table. Both Sprite and Carrie obliged, while Navi poured them out a dark liquid into some wooden goblets. She placed the goblets before the two, and Sprite eyed it cautiously before picking it up, and sniffing it.
"What is this stuff?"
"Drink it. It's good for you," replied Navi, pouring herself some of the liquid. She sat before them, sipping the drink quietly. "Now please, do tell me what it is that you wanted me for?" Carrie took a cautious sip of the liquid, surprised at its refreshingly cool taste. Sprite said nothing. Carrie sighed, and began to speak.
"When we saw you last..." she began. Navi sighed.
"An apology really is not needed, all is forgiven." Sprite shot Carrie a tight smile.
"Erm...well yes. There was that too. But..."
"But we need your help." Carrie stared at Sprite, surprised at her words. Navi stood.
"My help? Spiritual help?" Sprite shook her head also standing.
"No...no. It's..." Sprite paused, searching for the words. Carrie decided to continue for her friend.
"It's Tiffany and Felicity. I split up from them a few days back. They went to Death Mountain to see if they could find Mara Hespara...but we haven't heard from them since."
"Yes, you mentioned that to me last time I think," interrupted Navi thoughtfully.
"We weren't too worried until now. You see, Kaibre Lainge, a man who went in search of Mara turned up at the hold and died. He said...he said Mara had done it." Navi's eyes widened.
"All this and I knew nothing of it!" exclaimed the faerie, sounding genuinely surprised at her own ignorance.
"Felicity was the most powerful faerie we knew...if she was okay we would know by now..." finished Sprite morosely. Navi nodded.
"Felicity...yes she was powerful. More powerful than any faerie even that I had known...except of course for the Great Faeries..."
"The Great Faeries?" questioned Sprite.
"Yes...but they matter not. Not now. What matters is your friends."
"I should have never sent them, neither of them..."
"Felicity said she could handle it...since when has she ever been wrong?" reminded Carrie, trying to unload the guilt that Sprite was obviously feeling.
"Yes....but still..." Carrie felt awful to see the anguish that lined her friend's face.
"Blaming yourself won't help you or your friends...this Mara...other than her kidnapping the prince, what else has she done?" Navi questioned.
"It's what she might do that worries me more," replied Sprite in a muffled tone, her chin pressed against her chest.
"Well...we aren't sure exactly. But she kidnapped Prince Ewan for a reason, and then the man sent to find her turns up dead. She's powerful though, and we saw her in Mido Graveyard, collecting Black Ivy. Felicity said that reagent is only used for the most powerful spells, and normally for the most evil." Navi paled as Carrie told her of Mara, and then she spoke in return.
"Felicity was right. Black Ivy is only used by those with dark intentions...or great power."
"Or both," finished off Sprite.
"Black Ivy is only powerful however when mixed with certain things...for example if Black Ivy is mixed with the blood of someone who is extremely powerful themselves, there are spells that can be performed which are unthinkable. The caster cannot use their own blood, for they would perish upon casting, but if the right blood could be found...I remember one of the Great Faeries once told me that long ago, before even Ganondorf was known, a great mage known K'hartuel harvested the blood of faeries. He mixed the blood with the Black Ivy, a reagent even more scarce back then, and raised a whole army of the undead from nothing more than a handful of sand. Each grain thrown in the sacred stone circle, marked out by the blood, turned into a soldier, willing to do the bidding of K'hartuel. Unfortunately K'hartuel got too ambitious, and threw in more sand than he should have done, the soldiers kept coming, but they crushed him. With their master dead, they simply vanished..."
"Faerie blood?" echoed Carrie nervously.
"Oh no..." murmured Sprite, "You don't think that...?" Her eyes turned to Navi.
"I doubt it. To create the spell, you must be able to chant the correct incantations...and they are all written in a dead language that hails back even further than Hylian. Even the Great Faeries did not know the language fluently, save for a few words, so how would this Mara know?"
"That still doesn't make me feel any better," murmured Sprite, feeling sick to the core. Navi nodded sympathetically.
"Sprite, I do not like you. You are arrogant and vain, and in my eyes not a fit person to rule the Fey. But despite that, I know that I have wronged you. So I will help you on this. I may be able to contact Felicity, maybe even find out exactly where she is. And Tiffany too, although she may be harder to locate, not being at so one with the ether..."
"You can?" asked Carrie, breaking into a hopeful smile.
"Perhaps...but to do it I will need great rest. And the help from every faerie on this island...including you two."
"Just tell us how we can help!" exclaimed Carrie.
"Find something...anything that could be linked with Felicity or Tiffany, and bring them to me at once. Then tomorrow, at noon, I will summon every faerie who is known to me, and I will attempt to find and maybe even speak with your friends..." Carrie's hand darted to her neck, and she quickly removed a stone pendant that she wore, offering it to Navi.
"Tiffany gave this to me as a gift," she explained. Navi smiled, taking the item in her hand, and closing her eyes.
"Yes...yes, this will do...but what of Felicity?" Carrie looked to Sprite.
"Well...I don't have anything that Felicity ever gave me...but she has cast spells on both of us...would that be enough?" Navi paused, her eyes now open.
"It could be, although something material would be better. We'll have to see. If you can find anything else, just bring it to me here. Otherwise, I will see you both tomorrow shortly before noon..." Carrie finished the rest of her drink, while Sprite left her own untouched.
"If you can help Navi...I can forget any quarrel we ever had," said Sprite solemnly.
"I only hope I can help...not for my own sake, but for that of Felicity, Tiffany...and perhaps even Hyrule." Both Sprite and Carrie stood.
"Thanks..." said Carrie as she walked to the entrance.
"Think nothing of it. And now I must rest," retorted Navi. Both Sprite and Carrie left, leaving Navi alone. She cleared away the goblets, before heading towards her bed. Clicking her fingers and muttering a few words she doused the flames that lit the walls, before she settled into her bed, the stone pendant given to her by Carrie remaining in her hand, even as she slept.
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