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.

Triad of Evil

Juliet A. Singleton (Scullys@bigfoot.com) & Kirsty Singleton (arcadionseye@btopenworld.com)



Chapter 6

     It was early morning when Hyrule's princess awoke. The sun cast a feeble glow through the dark clouds, but it was enough to announce that the night had become day once more. She sighed, shivering slightly. Although it was summer, the entire castle was cast with a deathly chill; a chill, Zelda suspected, was more to do with the state of the ether rather than the weather. Last night, she had dreamed again, but this time instead of Link, she had dreamt terrible things. That North Castle had fallen, ravaged by evil and hatred. The evil of Mara, and the hatred of Robert. The Princess knew they were not ordinary nightmares. She had suffered such images so many times, so many premonitions, her consciousness so vehemently entwined with the dealings of fate and destiny that she knew well in advance of what the Goddesses had preordained. As she lay in bed staring at the stone walls of the tower, Zelda suddenly thought of Drake and their shared conversation the previous evening.

Maybe it's too late for you and Link. But it's not too late for Hyrule... His parting words came back to her and for a moment, Zelda tried to remember life without Link. All those years ago, when Hyrule had almost fallen to Ganon, without Link, the evil sorcerer would have won. Zelda, alone, and young, had done all she could to stop him getting his hands on their last defence; the Triforce of Wisdom. Shattering it into pieces scattered throughout Hyrule, it had been Link who had retrieved those pieces and fought Ganon to save her. Their first meeting was still so vivid in her mind, she could almost transport herself back... That small dark-haired boy, dressed in green, wielding a sword that was far too big for him. His friendly smile and deep blue eyes. And she, just a silly young girl, who had thought she could take on evil and win... I was so wrong, what would I have done without Link, she thought to herself sadly. Now he wasn't here to save her this time. Again, she had got herself, and Hyrule, into deep trouble. This time, there was no hero. She only had herself.

Realisation sinking in, she suddenly got out of bed, determination unexpectedly surging through her. This is my mess, and I will get out of it, she decided. If not for herself, but for Hyrule. Link, or no Link. The thought of confronting Mara terrified her, but Zelda had one advantage over the witch; The Triforce of Wisdom. She walked over to a carved wooden wardrobe and opened it. Arrays of beautiful dresses were hung neatly on the many racks but it wasn't these the princess was interested in. Right at the back, were her old adventuring clothes. Zelda rarely wore them these days, Hyrule was so peaceful and her life at North Castle was kept busy with matters of court, Link, her children and friends. Trying not to let her resolution waver, she pulled them on then knelt down to look under the bed. There lay her trusty magic bow. The Triforce's power was strong, as was her own magical ability, but using magic was tiring, and sometimes stealth was a much better way of operating. Other magic users could sense disturbances in the ether, no doubt Mara could and Zelda wanted this to be as much as a surprise as possible. If Mara wasn't expecting Zelda, then she had the upper hand. Ganon had not expected Link all those years ago, and Mara, wherever she was, was clearly biding her time. She will wait for Robert, Zelda thought to herself. Robert's army would try to crush North Castle, and whilst they did this, Mara would unleash her evil entity to suffer the final blow to Hyrule, and together, they would take the Triforce. I will not let that happen, the Princess thought to herself. She trusted her men to fight off the Catalian invaders, but no mere human or Hylian would be able to withstand the power of whatever daemon Mara had in her control. But the Triforce can, and with the Triforce, I can too, Zelda rationalised. If she could destroy Mara before the witch carried out her plan, Hyrule would be saved. Robert would be left with nothing. Without Mara's power, Robert only had his men, and sheer force could not take the Triforce alone. It was going to the be the most difficult task she had faced, but it was about time that Zelda showed her people exactly what she was made of. For so long, Link had stood in the limelight, and rightly so. But that time was past. She would leave that morning, before her father, or Drake, or anyone else, stopped her. The time to fight back had begun.



***



Felicity stared down at her outstretched hands, before clasping them together and averting her gaze to her grim surroundings. She was imprisoned once more in the lair of Mara, deep within Death Mountain, and she was thoroughly exhausted. After she had told Zelda of the prophecy that Mara had instructed her to tell, Felicity had returned to Death Mountain by Mara's order. She was in some way bound to the witch, and she could see little way in which the bond could be broken without risking both her own life, and that of Tiffany. Mara had locked her up again, and Felicity had slept, but her sleep had been inhabited by visions of death and wicked thoughts that had caused Felicity to awaken both exhausted and afraid. She had never in her life felt so lost and confused. The faerie cursed aloud her predicament, wishing there was some conceivable way of escape. The dreams that had plagued her sleep had seemed strangely real, and Felicity was beginning to fear the worst. She knew that if she did not think of a way to escape Mara soon, then both her life and the lives of others would be spent.



***



As the morning light slowly began to touch and filter throughout the forest that surrounded Valour Hold, the faerie Navi grudgingly woke. The night prior she had found sleep a hard companion to come by, and as a result she felt tired and drained. In truth she was still worrying about the occurrences of the week before, when Spite and her friend had come to Navi asking for help. Navi had happily obliged, despite her numerous differences with the Queen of the Fey, but in the end her aid had not been needed, for Felicity, the faerie which Sprite had been worried about, had appeared, apparently unharmed and safe. But Navi had not been convinced. Although she did not claim to know this Felicity personally, she had heard about her. Aside from Navi, Felicity was reported to be the most powerful faerie in Hyrule, and that was not an inconsiderable boast. But the Felicity Navi had seen had had an odd aura about her, like it had been somehow tainted or corrupted something not uncommon to those who had come into contact with a considerable evil. Rising to her feet, Navi took a comb from her night table and ran it though her short, black hair, humming an old tune she had once heard played in the Kokiri Forest, many thousands of years before. She walked around her quarters, located in the heart of an ancient and grand tree, humming to herself in a desperate attempt to ease the worries on her mind. As she dressed, a sudden knock came at the door, and Navi turned, yawning a little.

"Come in," she invited, placing her comb back onto the night table. A faerie entered Navi's quarters and curtsied before her.

"Sorry to disturb you, my lady," began the faerie, a pretty young thing with long flowing blonde curls and a slight frame.

"You did not," assured Navi, taking a seat and gesturing for her visitor to do the same. "It's Elise isn't it?" she added. The faerie nodded and sat.

"Yes, my lady. But I will not stay for long, only I wish to tell you of something I saw last night, something that has worried me ever since," began Elise, her blue eyes filled with a kind of anguish that Navi had failed to see until now. Navi frowned, and offered Elise a wooden goblet of berry juice. Elise shook her head and continued. "I was at the edge of the forest, gathering some herbs with my sister when I saw an awful sight. We were just near the Hold, near to where that poor man died, when the air suddenly turned very cool and icy. I thought it was about to rain, or hail even, because those clouds above the Hold looked so very heavy, so I said to my sister that we should leave and collect the herbs in the morning when the weather was more agreeable. My sister disagreed and said what was a bit of rain, so I reluctantly continued and we began to look for more herbs, cherryblossom and mazygrass and the like. Anyway, we began to stray apart, I went closer to the hold, my sister deeper into the forest, and it had only been a few minutes since the change in the air when I realised I was alone. I turned to look for my sister, and I was about to call her name, when a sudden feeling gripped me, as if I was being watched. I turned back to the Hold, and saw the men all going inside, so I thought perhaps it was about to rain, and that was what I had felt. But then I turned to look out to the bridge, and I saw something...or rather, I could not see anything," Elise paused for a moment, her hands were shaking and she was taking very short breaths between words. Navi felt increasingly uneasy at the faerie's words, but encouraged her to continue, laying her own hand over the top of Elise's shaking one.

"All around the bridge, there was a...darkness. I don't mean it was getting dark, because all around there was still the fading light of day, but in this one particular spot...it was like someone had spilt some ink and everything was blotted out. I could not see through it, or beyond it...and I felt it was alive. For a moment it seemed to watch me, and I just stood, unable to move. And then it vanished. It just sort of....faded, no...evaporated. At that moment my sister called, and I found I could not bring myself to tell her about it because even now it seems so silly. But I could sleep at all last night because all I could see in my mind was that darkness. There was something wicked about it...something not right," Elise finished, her face drawn and pale. Navi stood.

"Has anyone left the forest this morn?" she inquired. Elise shook her head.

"Not that I know...do you think it was perhaps dangerous?" asked Elise, wide eyed. Navi closed her eyes for a moment.

"From what you have told me...maybe."

"So you don't think I'm being silly then?" questioned Elise, sounding relieved.

"And you were the only one to see it?" asked Navi, ignoring Elise's question.

"Yes...I think." Navi put her hand to her mouth for a moment, thinking.

"Someone should go to the Hold, and warn them. I only hope it is not too late."



***



The quickest path to Death Mountain from North Castle lay directly south through Midoro Swamp, through the Julis Woods and then across the Southern River. However Zelda didn't want to risk passing through the foul marshes, especially in the current weather. Already, the heavy black clouds were threatening to release a torrent of rain upon the Princess, she couldn't possibly chance the short cut. Besides it wouldn't be good for Moonmist's feet, and who knew what monsters could be lurking in the murky depths of swamp water? She was making good time already, it was only just past breakfast and Mido Town was already fading into the distance. She spurred Moonmist on along the coastal path, her long golden hair streaming out behind her in the wind. The east coastline of Western Hyrule was so beautiful, yet at the same time eerily desolate. Just a few miles south of Mido lay the Hyrule Cemetery. It was the biggest collection of graves in the country, and also home to all the tombs of the royal family. Tall cliffs rose up to the east, plunging down into the blue depths of the ocean, and to the west, low brown mountains stretched along the coast. The cemetery nestled along the baseline of those mountains and although much of the graveyard was hidden by leafy green trees and flowers, every now and then Zelda caught a glimpse of the haggard stone tombs through the iron railings. She gave a small shiver and urged Moonmist to gallop faster along the road.

"C'mon girl, we need to reach Death Mountain before night falls!" she spoke to her mount. Even though it was the middle of summer, it was so cold, and the road was so empty and lonely, Zelda didn't wish to linger for long. The sooner she reached Death Mountain, the better. Already her father would have noticed her to be absent from breakfast, and by lunchtime he would be worried. He would probably send out Aaron or Drake to look for her, and though she would have been grateful for company, this was something that was best done alone. The fact that Mara had already killed Kaibre worried her; a woman able to kill a fully-grown man like that. But with magic, anything was possible.



Navi walked back into her quarters and sat down, letting out a long and drawn out sigh. She felt nauseous and her blood felt cold, as if she had just been held down in an ice bath just moments short of death. She wiped her brow, and let out another shaky breath, closing her eyes. The Hold had been a nightmare. She herself had led a small number of faeries to the Hold, but the moment she stepped out of the forest she had sensed that something was amiss. The Hold had been deathly quiet, and there were no signs of life anywhere. The sun had been shining, those heavy rain clouds of the day before vanished, but over the Hold there seemed to be a lingering and malignant feeling that gripped every faerie in the party as soon as they left the trees. It only got worse as the they neared Valour Hold, and that was when Navi first caught the unmistakable and cloying stench of death. The first two lifeless bodies they encountered lay just inside the Hold doors, which had been slightly ajar. Navi had ordered that everyone return to the forest that instant, to the safety of their magically protected glade. And then she herself had gone into the Hold, intent on finding out what exactly had happened. She had hoped to find a survivor, but those hopes had proved overly optimistic. Pale and lifeless body after body she encountered, all with tainted auras and Navi realised she was not dealing with anything typical or even native to Hyrule. All signs pointed to only the darkest of magicks, and Navi swore she knew no one who was capable of such demonic practices. One thing Navi knew however, was that whatever had killed the good men of Valour Hold had come into contact with Felicity, for she and she alone had bore the same tainted aura. And Felicity was still alive. The faerie suddenly rose to her feet and walked over to the door, slamming it open. Felicity had been in search of Mara, and although the faerie had insisted she had not found the enchantress, Navi was now beginning to see through the lie.

 



***



Nick watched as Fayette and Kendar quietly conversed in the corner of the drawing room and then turned to his wife, who was quietly reading. Her face was laced with fine lines of worry, and Nick could tell she was apprehensive about something. The King had sent word to Dalsona about the impending conflict between Hyrule and Catalia, and he had given express instructions that his forces where to be ready to journey to Hyrule within the next few days. He had been in two minds as whether to go back to Dalsona himself, but he did not want to leave Selina, who he felt would be too much at risk making what could be a perilous journey back to Dalsona before their child was born. He hadn't told Selina about the events that had taken place the night before, for as soon as Kendar had left him, his sudden sickness had worn off. However, sitting in the drawing room, Nick was already beginning to feel uneasy yet his suspicions of Kendar Hartrend's true nature were yet unconfirmed. He put his hand over Selina's, and she looked to him, giving him an uneasy smile. She was worrying about Link and Zelda of course, two dear friends who she could hardly believe had parted on such bad terms. She hadn't seen or spoken to Link since they had left Valour Hold, and Zelda had spent so much time locked away in her room that Selina had barely seen her, except for at meal times.

"What do you think of him?" asked Nick quietly, nodding over at Fayette and Kendar. Selina followed Nick's gaze and frowned.

"Well, I can't at all understand what he sees in her...but he seems nice enough," replied Selina. Secretly she was glad that Kendar had shown an interest in Fayette, the princess had become a lot less attached to Nick of late, and Selina knew it was because of Kendar.

"So you don't think...there's anything unusual about him?" asked Nick, clasping Selina's hand. Selina looked down at their linked hands, noticing the Nick's palm had suddenly become rather clammy.

"Well...as I already said, I don't see why he has become so taken with Fayette...but he seems quite normal for round here," murmured Selina, cracking an almost smile. She turned to Nick. "Are you feeling okay?"

"Yeah...I'm...it's nothing," finally answered Nick, shaking his head. Selina suddenly stood, still holding Nick's hand.

"Come on, let's go somewhere where we can talk," she suggested with a small smile. Nick looked up at his wife and rose from his seat, getting the distinct feeling that the last thing Selina wanted to do right now was to talk.



As Nick closed the bedroom door behind him, he turned to come face to face with his wife. He smiled down at her, and stroked the side of her face, suddenly realising it had been too long since they had shared such a tender moment.

"What did you want to talk about?" he asked softly, feeling a little better than he had only minutes before. Selina put her hand over his and stood on her tip toes, lightly brushing her lips against his.

"With everything that has been happening recently, we haven't had much time for us, have we? This was meant to be a holiday," mused the Queen of Dalsona, resting her head against her husband's chest. Nick caressed Selina's shoulders for a moment, before leaning his chin atop her head.

"It's been anything but, recently," he admitted, holding Selina close to him.

"But with Link and Zelda...and now Mara....everything just seems to be happening at once," added Selina. She drew apart from Nick and kissed him again, linking her hands with his. "I miss you," she sighed. Nick knew that Selina was right. Over the last few weeks, he had felt himself growing more and more distant from his wife. "I know. I'm sorry," apologised Nick sincerely. Selina smiled and kissed Nick again, but this time with intention. Nick let his hands drop to Selina's waist, and she put her hands around his neck, pulling him closer to her. They moved, still in embrace, towards the bed, when Nick suddenly parted from Selina, shaking his head.

"What is it?" asked Selina, confused. Nick looked to Selina.

"It's Fayette." Selina frowned.

"Pardon?"

"I'm worried about her. Hartrend. There's something...something wrong about him." Selina stared at Nick as he spoke, her eyebrows raised.

"You're worried about Fayette?" asked Selina slowly, hardly able to believe what she was hearing.

"Look, last night after the council meeting I was coming back here when I...collapsed." Selina let out a gasp.

"What? And you didn't tell me?" she asked.

"He was there. And I swear it was him Selina, he reached out to help me up and it just made it worse. Then...then he said something strange. He said it had been too long since he had seen a King on his knees. The thing is, Selina, when he spoke I could have sworn he was someone else. Or something else. But...it's impossible," Nick shook his head, looking to the ground as he spoke, talking as much to himself as he was to his wife.

"Nick, you aren't making sense," said Selina, feeling a little impatient. Nick looked to Selina.

"He isn't who he says he is, Selina." Selina sat down on the bed and folded her arms.

"And you know this for a fact?" she asked. "I mean, you said yourself you were feeling ill maybe he was trying to make a joke. And if you weren't feeling well your hearing may well have been distorted," suggested Selina. Nick frowned.

"But don't you think it's odd? I mean, he turns up from nowhere with Ewan and now he and Fayette are engaged," protested Nick. Selina's eyes narrowed as Nick spoke, feeling annoyed by her husband's words.

"By all accounts he's a good, kind man who happened to save our godson's life. Seeing as you nearly married Fayette, perhaps it isn't so odd that he's seen something in her as well. And I don't blame her for jumping at the chance, after all, how many men would willingly marry her?"

"Look, Selina, I know she has caused us trouble in the past," began Nick.

"Trouble? She tried to split us up! And she's tried to seduce you, goodness knows how many times," reminded Selina, her voice a little raised. Nick grimaced.

"I know, but that's not the point. The point is," began Nick, trying to explain.

"The point is; you're concerned that you're going to lose your little fan now that she's got a suitor. Obviously I'm not enough for you," snapped Selina. Nick gaped at Selina and shook his head.

"What?! No...it's not like that!" insisted Nick.

"Well, if you are so concerned for Fayette then maybe you should go and see her, instead of wasting your time talking to me," said Selina irately. She stood up and opened the door. "Go on, go and tell her how concerned you are. I'm sure she'll be delighted!" Nick shook his head.

"Selina, it isn't like that," he said pleadingly.

"I don't want to hear about it. There's nothing wrong with Kendar, and I wanted to spend a little time with my husband, yet all he could do was say how worried he was about his EX-FIANCE. So forgive me if I'm feeling a little rejected," spat Selina, her teeth gritted together. She turned and picked up a stray boot and hurled it at Nick, missing him by just a few inches.

"Selina!" cried Nick, dodging the boot and stepping towards her.

"Get out and leave me alone!" she shrieked. Nick looked at Selina before swiftly walking over to the door.

"Look, maybe you need some time alone," he reasoned.

"I wanted some time with my husband but that's not going to happen is it? Because you are more concerned about your beloved Fayette!"

"Selina, it's not like that," repeated Nick desperately. Selina threw another boot. "You shouldn't get so upset, it's bad for the..." began Nick.

"Oh, so now I'm a bad mother am I?! Get out before I get really mad!" screamed Selina, her face turning a visible shade of red.

"Selina, please," implored Nick. She glared at him.

"Get out." Her voice was low as she spoke and Nick put up his hands in defeat.

"Fine, I'll come back later," he conceded. He walked past her and through the door, which was promptly slammed shut behind him.

"Don't bother!" came the muffled cry of Selina as he left. Shaking his head, the Dalsonan walked away, wondering what had got into his normally even-tempered wife.

With Nick gone, Selina flung herself on the bed and began to sob. She knew her reaction had been out of proportion, but just recently, her feelings were becoming harder and harder to control. And Nick wasn't exactly helping her. Nor were recent events. She rolled onto her back and looked at the ceiling, feeling a little calmer. She still couldn't help but feel irked however that Nick had been so distracted, especially when it was because he was concerned for the one women Selina hated most. Fayette.



***



It was early afternoon by the time Zelda reached the north bank of the Southern River, and here she decided to pause for lunch. The sun shone slightly through the heavy clouds, providing a little cheer and warmth to the grey daylight. Nearby, a little-used wooden bridge spanned across the glittering waters of the meandering river. Much farther to the west lay the River Town of Saria, but aside from this the area was highly under-populated. The small hamlet of Julis lay beyond the woods which lay to both the north and south of the road, and there were a few houses hidden amongst the trees but Zelda knew she wouldn't be spotted by anyone who knew her. Few travelled the road, except those on business to Mido. She dismounted, running up the stirrups so they wouldn't bang off Moonmist's sides whilst she grazed, and knotted the reins on the bridle.

"There you go girl, you take a break," she murmured, patting her horse on the neck. Then she turned to the saddlebag and took out some provisions which she'd taken from the castle larder earlier that day. It was only a hunk of crusty bread and a slither of ham but it tasted delicious and provided her with enough sustenance to continue her journey. Zelda filled up a small bottle with water from the river; it tasted pure and refreshing. Moonmist seemed to have had the same idea, taking her fill from the clear running water. As Zelda sat by the river, looking over at dread at Death Mountain rising tall above the rest of the range to the south she suddenly noticed a bright spark in the air coming towards her. The light was easily distinguishable; it was a faerie.





Sprite blinked twice as she noticed a familiar figure sat down on the riverbank. It couldn't possibly be... yet that long golden hair was unmistakable, as was the silver horse grazing nearby. It was Zelda. Despite feeling exhausted she zoomed down quickly to the Princess's vicinity, wondering what in Hyrule the woman was doing round here.

"Zelda!" she exclaimed, fluttering before the Princess. Zelda had stood in greeting, brushing her long hair out of her eyes.

"Sprite! What are you doing here?" she asked, looking puzzled.

"I was just about to ask you the same question!" Sprite answered.

"I thought... I thought you'd be with..." Zelda said, suddenly looking down at the ground, her eyes beginning to water as she was reminded of her husband once more.

"With Link?" Sprite asked, noticing Zelda's downcast expression. She shrugged. "I don't know where he is," she admitted.

"I don't know either, with his new lover I suppose," Zelda said, her voice turning slightly bitter. Sprite sighed.

"Look I suppose, being Link's faerie guardian and all, I SHOULD be with him. But he just took off from the castle, and I've been so busy with..." she trailed off.

"Busy with what? I thought you never left Link's side," Zelda snapped. Sprite pouted, feeling a bit annoyed.

"I can't be there twenty-four seven you know! I DO happen to have other duties within the Fey!" she exclaimed angrily. Zelda folded her arms and turned away, looking back at the river again.

"Yeah well, chances if he doesn't want to know me, he probably doesn't want to know you either," she remarked, rather meanly. Sprite rolled her eyes and fluttered round in front of the Princess.

"Look Zelda, I know you and Link have had your differences but..." she started.

"Do you KNOW what he's done?" Zelda asked shrilly. The faerie noticed tears brimming in the princess' eyes and she sighed.

"Yes... and I'm sorry. I didn't think he was that kind of guy. But in my opinion you did..."

"I don't care about your stupid opinion Sprite!" Zelda interrupted.

"Well!" Sprite huffed. "Where are you going anyway?" she questioned. Zelda turned to look at her again.

"I'm going to Death Mountain, if you must know! But no running back to my father!" she said, walking up to Moonmist and climbing back into the saddle. Sprite perched between the horse's ears.

"As if I would. Anyway, that's where I'm headed too. Maybe we can help each other," the faerie suggested.

"Maybe you just want a free ride," Zelda muttered, spurring Moonmist on towards the bridge. Sprite frowned again. Zelda really could be trying at times. But she obviously had no idea what kind of danger she was letting herself in for by seeking out Mara. Despite their differences, Sprite would never let Zelda, Hyrule's heir, walk unknowingly into danger.

"Think what you like, but from this moment on, we're partners princess," she said.

"Fair enough. Suppose I could do with the company," Zelda replied morosely.

"My pleasure," Sprite replied in a mock sarcastic tone, grabbing a tuft of Moonmist's forelock. Even with Zelda to help her, she had a foreboding feeling about the encounter ahead. If only Link were with us, she thought despondently. Looking at Zelda, she could see that the princess was thinking exactly the same thoughts. They were going to need a near miracle to face the battle ahead...



***



"Fayette, I was wondering if I might have a word with you." Fayette looked up from her tapestry and smiled when she saw it was Nick. Kendar had left her only a short while ago to make preparations for the journey they were to take the next day. They had it all planned. Early tomorrow morning, her and Kendar were to travel to Mido and be married in a small chapel there. No fuss, and no interference from the likes of Fayette's overbearing mother, Fenella. She could barely believe that they were going to go through with it, and a small part of her felt extremely nervous with excitement.

"Why of course, Nicolas. What is it?" inquired Fayette, looking back to her tapestry. It was of a woodland scene from her native Sosaria, it depicted the Great Forest of Yew and all of its wildlife. Nick seated himself next to Fayette, a little uneasily, she noticed, and turned to face the Princess.

"I just wanted to ask you a few things...about Kendar," began Nick. Fayette smiled at the mention of her suitor's name.

"He's a most wonderful man, is he not? I can scarcely believe that such a kind, brave man would even consider marrying me," said Fayette dreamily. Nick frowned.

"Faye, do you really think you should be considering marriage to this man? I mean, you can barely know a thing about him," questioned Nick. Fayette drew her attention away from her tapestry and stared at Nick, wide eyed.

"Has my mother put you up to this? I don't care what she says, he doesn't want me for my title. He loves me, and I love him," snapped Fayette, looking a little flustered.

"Your mother? No...Fayette, there's something wrong about him," replied Nick, his dark eyes full of concern.

"There's nothing wrong about him. Why would you even care? I'd have thought you'd be glad to see me married off, or is that just it? You thought I'd spend the rest of my life pining after you, and now that's not going to happen!" accused Fayette. Nick stood up, taking a sharp intake of breath.

"Faye, please just listen to me," he pleaded.

"Don't call me Faye. Me and Kendar are getting married, and no one, not even you, can stop us. As I recall you were the one who resented ME when I dared suggest that you shouldn't marry that wench you call your wife, so don't come to me saying I shouldn't marry a kind and decent man who loves me for who I am!" snapped Fayette. Nick shook his head.

"Don't talk about Selina like that," retorted Nick, a little stung by Fayette's words.

"I'll talk about HER how I damn well want. She's caused me enough misery to last a life time," said Fayette angrily.

"Any misery you've suffered, you've brought on yourself," growled Nick, standing up. Fayette glared at him.

"Oh, so I asked for someone to murder Raymundo did I? I asked to fall in love with you, did I? No, Nicolas, I think not. What exactly are you trying to achieve anyway? Coming here like this? Accusing Kendar of things you obviously don't even know of yourself. He's done nothing to you, and he makes me happier than I have been in a long time. So why don't you just leave me and him alone, and go back to your wife?" Nick stared at Fayette as she spoke, feeling increasingly confused. He was positive that he knew Kendar, but that Kendar was not who he said he was. But Fayette was right, he had no proof and even now he had doubts about his convictions.

"Look, I am sorry. But please listen to me. Kendar Hartrend is not who he says he is, Fayette, and I just ask you to consider any plans regarding yourself and him very, very carefully. I can't force you into a decision, but just think about what I've said," he finally said, his voice a little weary. Fayette looked at Nick, and her frown disappeared.

"You're right Nick," then her frown returned, "you can't force me into anything. I can't possibly think of a reason why you have come to me like this, only that you want to see me live out the rest of my life alone and in misery. Perhaps, perhaps I deserve that but if I have a chance to avoid that with a man like Kendar, then I will. So, thanks for your concern, but no thanks. Now, please leave me alone," requested the Princess. Nick frowned and turned to leave, but something made him pause. He looked back to Fayette, who was regarding him icily.

"Just consider what I have said," he asked.

"Consider what exactly?" Nick turned and saw Kendar standing in the doorway. He walked up to Kendar, a queasy, sickly feeling settling in his stomach. He leaned close to the man and spoke to him in a low voice, though it pained him to do so.

"Don't think you can fool everyone. I know what you are," he threatened. Kendar gave him an odd glance, but Nick could tell that behind the confusion in Kendar's eyes there lay something more.

"Excuse me?" asked Kendar.

"You heard me," growled Nick, before he walked past Kendar and left the room. Kendar turned to Fayette.

"What in the Demiari was wrong with him? I'd always heard good reports about King Nicolas," remarked Kendar, sitting down next to Fayette and taking her hand.

"I don't know. Jealousy perhaps. Me and him...we used to be engaged, you know," said Fayette quietly. She barely believed her own words, but she could not even begin to think what Nick had against Kendar. Kendar regarded Fayette with surprised eyes.

"Really? Then perhaps he is beginning to see the error of his ways. Any man who passed up the chance to marry you is nothing short of a fool," proclaimed Kendar, leaning forward and giving Fayette a soft kiss. She smiled at him.

"Is everything ready?" she inquired. Kendar gave her a confident nod.

"Indeed. By this time tomorrow we shall be wed, and I shall be the luckiest man in the Demiari."



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