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.
Triad of Evil
Juliet A. Singleton (Scullys@bigfoot.com) & Kirsty Singleton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Link took in a deep breath of air as his feet touched the reassuringly solid surface of the Opela port. It had not been long since his last visit, but Link sincerely hoped he was not going to make a habit of visiting the beautiful city of Opela with such a heavy heart, for it did not suit such feelings. Activity was all around the hero, who suddenly felt very unsure of himself. Here in Opela, Link knew he was a stranger. Even though Opela was the capital of his home country, Link knew he was out of place. Zelda had been right, of course. Catalia was no longer Link's country, even though it was where he had been born. Nonetheless, Link still felt he owed something to the land of his birth, and that something was to prevent Robert from leading Catalia into disaster. It was clear to Link that the activity that swarmed around him had something to do with Robert's war, for there were many war ships lined up along the port, all surrounded by men and women who were all loading wooden crates onto the ships. Putting down his head, Link left the bustling port and set foot on the stony streets of Opela. The sun was just setting, and as the last rays of the day hit off the polished streets of the city, Link could have sworn that the streets of Opela were laid not in stone, but precious jewels.
He pushed his way through the thronging streets, everyone once in a while turning his gaze to the Palace of Opela, his destination. It looked radiant in the setting sun, and Link considered that it equally matched the grandeur of North Castle. Link knew that each step he took was taking him closer to the Palace and, equally, to Robert. Even now, the hero could barely believe that the young, sweet boy he had once known had turned into the single minded and ruthless ruler of Catalia. As Link continued to press through the unusually busy streets of Catalia's capital, every so often he heard snatches of conversation that caught his attention. Everyone, it seemed, was talking of the coming war – from the women on their way to the market to the street children who were boldly acting out what was to come with wooden sticks and shards of slate. As Link passed one such gathering of street children, he heard one child, who looked no more than Ewan's age, loudly proclaim that he was 'Robert, hero of Catalia,' and that he would ensure that the 'vagabond from Hyrule' met a 'just end.' It sickened Link just to hear the words, never mind from a child who looked neither old or wise enough to realise exactly what he was saying. Another overheard conversation struck a chord in Link however, for he overheard two women talking of 'Fayzie of the Kokiri' who had been 'snatched to serve in the vagabond's harem'. Shaking his head, Link stumbled on, the unseasonably warm weather and the massive crowds causing him to feel agitated and uncomfortable. He finally came upon the main boulevard that led up to the Palace, more by chance than anything. He had long ago been pushed into the darker and cooler side streets which wound all around Opela and, for a time, had feared himself to be lost. But as soon as Link set foot on the Palace Boulevard, he knew that his goal was near.
Trying to reach the Palace from the Boulevard proved to be harder work than Link had originally anticipated. Like seemingly every other street in Opela, it was packed full of Catalians, all milling about and talking in hushed tones. Link had to push his way to the palace gate, and once there, he was confronted by two heavily armoured guards, who crossed their halberds as he approached.
"Who approaches the Palace of Opela?" questioned one of the guards loudly. Link stepped closer to the guard and stared him in the eye.
"I believe that I am wanted by your King," replied Link. The two guards looked at one another. "My name, if he asks, is Link." The eyes of both guards visibly widened, and immediately they turned their weapons on Link.
"If you are who you say you are, then why do you come alone and unescorted?" demanded one guard.
"I need no escort to face my kin," Link replied in a growl. The guards looked at one another again before simultaneously nodded.
"Then come with us," spoke one guard, whilst the other opened the gate. Link walked in ahead of them both, but they soon caught up, grasping him by the arms.
"You may think you need no escort to face Robert, but you are wrong, vagabond," warned one of the guards. Link said nothing, and willingly walked with the guards into Opela Palace.
As Link entered the famed Palace of Opela, he noted that there was a flurry of activity in the main hall. Men were walking back and forth, filling wooden crates with weapons and supplies. But at the centre of it all, stood Robert, his face a picture of severity, surveying over all. As soon as Link set foot upon the marble floor of the Palace, all activity seemed to slow, and all set their eyes upon the hero of Hyrule. When Robert saw Link, the scowl on his face visibly deepened, and his glittering green eyes sparkled with malice. Everyone stopped what they were doing, and Robert swiftly approached Link, his face aflame with fury.
"Sir, this man claims to be..." began one of the guards.
"You." The guard ceased to speak as his Lord spoke, and Robert walked up to Link, jabbing him in the chest.
"You dare to come to this place and insult me like this?" demanded Robert. He drew his sword, and held the tip of the blade under Link's chin. "I should slay you now and be done with you," he hissed.
"Then this is him?" asked one of the guards quietly. Robert turned his back on Link and opened his arms in a sweeping gesture.
"Yes. This is indeed him. The villain who killed our Queen and our own people...yes, this is him." Silence met Robert's words, and the King turned back to Link.
"You know that's a lie," retorted Link, who was still held at both sides by Robert's men. The two glared into one another's eyes for a moment, and it was eventually Robert who had to turn away. The ruler of Catalia closed his eyes with his back turned to Link, and then sheathed his weapon. He turned back to Link.
"Why are you here?" he demanded in a hushed voice.
"It was either me, or war. Why do you think I am here?" snarled Link. Murmurs were beginning to sound through the hall, and as Link finished, Robert lunged forward and struck Link with his hand on the side of his face. Link turned from the blow, and then cast his gaze back upon Robert.
"With me here, you have no reason for war. None at all," said the hero, his voice low.
"Sir, does this mean we shall not attack Hyrule?" ventured one man. Robert gazed at Link a second longer and then began to laugh. It was a guttural sound, laced with hatred, and not at all reminiscent of laughter of joy or happiness. "Silence fools!" Robert suddenly snapped, turning his back on Link, once more.
"This is some trickery. Some foul sorcery conjured by that witch of an heir, Zelda. This is not the man I seek. He is some cunning illusion at best," proclaimed Robert, his voice verging on the hysterical. He turned back to Link. "Do not think your actions have saved Hyrule. Far from it. Robert looked at the two guards holding Link and nodded. "Take him to the prison, and show him the type of hospitality with give to those who seek to deceive us. Cut out his lying tongue, so that not another lie may fall from his hateful mouth." Robert turned back to his men. "Get back to work. We must not allow this to slow our departure." Robert then turned to the entrance, and walked past Link with a sneer. As he began to leave, Link began to struggle against those who held him.
"Robert! Don't think this is over!" cried the hero. Robert turned to Link, his hands clasped behind his back.
"For you, it is." Link continued to struggle against his guards, but they held him fast, and Link suddenly heard the ring of metal as a sword was drawn. A blade was laid across his throat, and Link knew he had little to do but comply, for the time being at least.
There was an almighty crash as Link was thrown to the floor of a dingy jail cell, stripped of his weapons and all hope. He still got to his feet, however, and rushed to the door, only for it to be slammed, mockingly, in his face. The guard smiled at him and shook his head.
"Otho will be along shortly, so just sit tight until then, eh?" Link grabbed the bars on the door and shook them furiously, but to little effect. He turned away and then launched his fist at the door in anger, and he cursed aloud when his fist met with the cold, metal bars that held him in. The guard just chuckled and Link's efforts, and strolled away, the keys from his belt jangling loudly. Link watched as he left, then turned to survey his new surroundings. A wooden bunk and a rickety wooden chair were the only features of the room, which had cold stone walls covered in lichen and moss. Link walked over to the bunk, and looked down at it, frowning. He yanked off the thin mattress and looked down at the boards that lay over the frame, before crouching down and looking closer. The boards were nailed down, and Link could already see that one of the rusty heads was protruding from one of the boards. He furtively glanced back to the door, then seized the nail between thumb and forefinger, wrenching it with all his might. Link knew for a fact that Seline had been a fair and mostly tolerant Queen, and for all its troubles, Catalia had never been a country plagued by crime from within. As a result, the prisons had rarely been used, and as a result, they had fallen into such disrepair. The nail finally came free, and Link looked at it for a second, examining its small form. Rusty and barely sharp enough to scratch his finger, Link knew that the nail served little purpose as a weapon but he figured it might serve as a suitable lock pick. He walked over to the door and shrank back as he saw a burly man approaching his cell from along the passage. Turning away, Link silently cursed, realising he had little time. He slid off his boot and placed the nail into the toe end, pushing it through the worn leather. He slipped his foot back in, and looked down, noticing the end of the nail just peeking through at the big toe. He suddenly heard the door open behind him, and the man he had seen just moments before entered the cell, slamming the door behind him.
Covered in scars, and not a hair on his head, Link guessed that this stranger was Otho. He was clad in black, and in his hand he carried a horrible looking device at which Link could only guess its purpose.
"Sit down and don't struggle, else this is going to hurt a heck of a lot more," rumbled Otho, holding up the device. It resembled a pair on tongs, only at the end of each tong was a vicious looking clamp with a serrated and rust red edge. Link remembered Robert's words, and suddenly realised that Otho was here to deliver some Catalian hospitality. Grimacing, the hero sat back on the chair, using his big toe to push the nail a little further out of the tip of his boot. Otho leaned over Link and smiled, revealing a mouth full of broken and rotted teeth.
"Do I have to call in some friends to hold you down, or are you going to take this like a man?" questioned Otho. Link knew he could not take out a man the size of Otho without taking him by surprise, so he simply shrugged at Otho.
"Do what you have to," he said as boldly as he could. Otho smiled again, and strapped Link's hands down to the arms of the chair. He then grabbed Link by the chin, prising open the hero's mouth with his fingers.
"Open wide," he encouraged, and Link obliged, feeling slightly sick as the great brute seized his tongue and pulled it a little with his fingers. Then he reached in with the tongs, opening them and pushing either tong on one side of Link's tongue. Perspiration trickled down Link's forehead as he waited for the right moment, and just as the tongs began to close down on Link's tongue, Link lifted his foot and drove it as hard as he could into Otho's shin. He felt the nail drive into the bone, and Otho let out a pained cry, dropping the torture device and falling to the ground, holding his impaled leg. Link broke free of the bonds that held him and stood, seizing a thin dagger from Otho's belt, before holding it against the moaning man's throat.
"Don't consider this anything personal," hissed Link, before running the blade across Otho's throat and opening his jugular vein. Otho let out a gasp, before toppling forward, a stream of bright red arterial blood pooling onto the stone floor. The hero grimaced a little, before walking over to his cell door and pushing it gingerly open. It was unlocked, much to his relief, and there was no one in sight. He stole down the passage, before coming to a T junction. One branch led back to the Palace, the other to the guards station. Through an ajar door, Link saw a guard dozing and shook his head. The last thing he had expected was for Robert to underestimate him, but that was clearly what he had done. He turned back to the route that took him back into the Palace, and began to follow it at a brisk and purposeful pace.
As Link left the dark prison corridor he emerged into the grand hall of the castle. There was some movement near to the doors, a few remaining men were still preparing to take their leave of their home country in order to risk their lives for Robert's war. As Link's footsteps echoed off the cold stone tiles beneath his feet, all movement came to a halt, and a small mass of men turned towards Link.
"How?" began one soldier, drawing his sword and stepping forward, a look of confusion dashed across his ruddy features. Link glanced down at the bloodied knife in his hand, then back to the small army that now faced him. Six men stood before Link, all ready to leave for war and consequently armed to the teeth with weapons. Link let his eyes wander from man to man, and each drew their weapons respectively, all taking a step towards him.
"Didn't Robert say he wanted him alive?" queried one man slowly.
"Robert won't know. Not until this is all over. He's already on his way to Hyrule. We can say he died in prison," replied another soldier, his voice low and dangerous.
"You killed our Queen," spoke a different man, his words directed at Link.
"I did not kill Seline," replied the hero defiantly, slipping the knife into his belt.
"That isn't what Robert told us," ventured someone else. Link frowned.
"Robert lied. Don't you see? This was all just an excuse for him to go to war. He has sworn allegiance. With a witch."
"Robert said he would."
"I say we kill him now. Kill him and then go on to Hyrule, and kill his wife and children." Link felt his heart grow cold at the words of the men now before him.
"You won't lay a finger on my wife. Nor my children. Not while there is still a breath in my body," he swore. He stepped forward, and raised his chin, as if beckoning the guards to come at him.
"That won't be for long," promised one Catalian, who looked older than all of the rest.
"If I must kill in order to live, then I shall do it, do not doubt that," threatened Link, his blood racing through his veins. Silence confronted Link, and he looked around at those who faced him, an immense feeling of calm suddenly settling over him. If his time had come to die, then he was ready.
With little warning, one man suddenly plunged forward, racing towards Link, his sword raised, his expression one of hate and fury. Link watched him approach, almost serenely, watching the glint of steel as it arced through the air and then threw up his hands catching the blade between the flats of his palms. His eyes met with those of his attacker's, both gazes full of surprise and disbelief and then Link wrenched the sword from his attacker's hand and brought it down before thrusting it back at the man, catching him in the gut with the sword's hilt. His attacker let out a surprised gasp, and he faltered, but did not fall. Link smiled, again it was a calm and peaceful gesture not suited to the current situation, and swung the sword upwards, cracking its owner on the chin with the blade. A burst of blood shot from the man's nose upon impact, and he fell backwards, impacting on the stone floor with a sickening thud. Link watched him fall, then span the blade round, grasping it by the hilt. He looked at those who surrounded him, then pulled the knife from his belt and ran it up the blade of his sword, which emitted a sharp and ear splitting screech. He bent his knees, held his weapons before him, and looked again at those who sought to end his life.
"One down, five to go," he muttered. With a furious roar, every man remaining ran towards Link, their weapons raised and their eyes full of hatred. Link ducked the first man, then swiftly turned and swept his sword across the man's back and spine. As his second victim fell, Link heard the swish of metal through air approaching his left ear and he hit the ground, kicking out his legs in a scissor kick, tripping another attacker. As he lay on the floor momentarily, a blade came crashing down just an inch away from his nose, and he rolled to the side and leapt back up, sticking out his sword and skewering a fourth. His breathing ragged, Link looked from side to side at the last two assailants. They both looked ill at ease, almost unsure of what was confronting them. They approached him from both sides, and Link looked down at his weapons before making a split second decision. He turned to his left and launched his dagger at the skull of the fifth man, before neatly side stepping the attack of the last man standing and sweeping his sword through the air. It followed a circular arc and it soon met with the neck of his last attacker, cutting through sinew and skin. An eruption of blood sprayed his cheek, and Link flinched, before watching the last man fall, his head cleanly severed from his neck. Taking a deep breath Link looked at the scene of destruction around him, six men dead, all surrounded by pools of dark, fresh blood. His grip on the sword in his hand suddenly loosened, and it crashed against the floor, letting out a hollow ring. Link raised one eyebrow and then ran one hand through his hair.
He let out a long breath, and shook his head, perhaps in amazement. He wiped his face with his hand then quickly jogged over to the great oaken doors, pushing them open, sincerely hoping he wouldn't have to face another such confrontation any time soon.
"Your Highness..." Zelda turned to see Drake stood behind her, as she stood surveying the setting sun through the mullioned bay windows of the Great Hall. "Forgive me, I just wanted to speak to you alone, Princess," he added hastily. Zelda glanced down at the floor, her complexion flushing a little.
"Drake... don't you think I've done enough talking already?" she asked, reluctantly raising her green eyes to meet his blue ones. The knight put a comforting hand on her shoulder and they walked off out into the courtyard together.
"I'll talk, you can listen," he bargained, giving her a hopeful smile.
"Are you about to give me some advice or something?" Zelda questioned, managing a small smile back.
"Take it as you please, Princess, but it isn't a lecture. It's just me pledging my support... and not just towards the impending war," Drake replied, his tone serious. "I meant what I said back there in the council room... I will protect you with my life." They paused in the middle of the courtyard. Zelda's eyes began to fill with tears.
"Oh Drake... I just don't know what to do anymore!" the princess exclaimed. Drake wasn't sure what to say, so he just pulled Zelda into a warm hug.
"Don't worry Your Highness. Hyrule will never fall to anyone, be it Catalia, or be it that evil witch Mara. Not while you and your father reign," he reassured her. They stepped back and he regarded the beautiful princess stood before him worriedly. Drake felt his words were true, but only if Zelda regained her fighting spirit. Before him stood someone he felt he barely knew; what had happened to the feisty, courageous maiden that used to have her father in dire straits over her adventurous behaviour? This Zelda was not the Zelda Drake was used to seeing. The princess shook her head.
"I made a terrible mistake! Now I don't even know where to begin to right it!" she cried.
"You aren't alone, that's what I'm trying to say! You have the whole of Hyrule behind you... and others too. Nick, for example. And no-one, not even Mara, can match you in magic. Please Your Highness, don't just give up!" Drake replied zealously.
"Mara has unleashed something terrible upon The Demiari. Not even I have the power to raise an evil entity Drake! And I don't know if I can fight it... alone," Zelda exclaimed, trailing off and looking down at the ground again.
"If I get my hands on that boy, I'd give him a good hiding!" Drake said gruffly, referring to Link.
"It's not his fault! It's mine!" Zelda leapt to her husband's defence.
"And you think him shacking up with that Kokiri wench acceptable? That that's not HIS fault?" Drake demanded. Zelda bit her lip, her eyes filling with tears. Drake quickly grabbed her hand, rubbing it gently. "Sorry Your Highness, I didn't mean..." he began. Zelda just averted her gaze from him, gazing across the rapidly darkening royal gardens.
"When I lost Link, I felt like I'd lost everything," she murmured softly. She gently pulled her hand away and walked off into the darkness.
Drake followed her as she made her way towards the small lake that was in the south-east part of the castle grounds. She eventually paused at the waterline, her gaze locked on the gentle ripples the periodically broke across the lake's surface.
"For so long I always dreamed of being with Link forever. I never thought it could come to this. That he'd ever love anyone but me…" she said, speaking to herself more than Drake.
"You two have been through so much together. You've had your ups and downs but no matter what, you always loved each other. Link has told me often enough how much he adores you. I just can't understand this," Drake muttered, sticking his hands in his pockets.
"I can. Look Drake, I've never deserved Link. I've treated him so horribly…" Zelda murmured, still looking at the water. The full moon was shining brightly now and the stars were out, twinkling prettily in the indigo sky. Every time she looked up at those stars, Zelda was reminded of her mother. When she and Link had been younger, they'd picked out the brightest stars in the sky in memory of their lost families. Her eyes watered at the recollection, of the good times she and her husband had once shared. Now that was all gone…
"That's not true, Your Highness. Please don't do this to yourself," Drake interrupted. She turned, suddenly remembering the knight.
"Drake, I've always known you to be an honest man. Please don't make me out to be something I'm not," she said, tears rolling down her cheeks.
"I swear by the goddesses, Princess, that I do not think badly of you in any way. You are beautiful, intelligent, brave, passionate… the finest Princess Hyrule has ever know. And yes, you have your faults, as do we all. But Link had no right to do what he's done. No right at all," Drake said, putting an arm around her shoulders. Zelda leaned into his embrace, letting her tears fall freely now.
"It's too late," she whispered.
"Maybe it's too late for you and Link. But it's not too late for Hyrule," Drake replied. Zelda only wished she could believe him.
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