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 8

     Drake let out a discontented growl as he surveyed over the steadily darkening plains that surrounded North Castle.

"Whoever thought of building North Castle in the middle of this damn field must have been bloody ignorant," he grumbled atop his great black steed. Aaron shortly joined him and shook his head.

"Not exactly in an easy place to defend," agreed the Vice Captain of the guard.

"That's putting it lightly," snapped the knight, drawing his sword and contemplating it in the slowly fading sun.

"Well, we know that they can only be coming from one direction...and our forces surround castle on all sides, and Nick's forces should be coming soon from the North. We've held out before, and we can do it again," said Aaron slowly. Drake frowned.

"That may be so, but with our forces spread so thin it's going to be hard, especially if reports about Robert's army turn out to be true," said the knight sombrely "Have we heard anything from the scouts?" he added, looking at Aaron pointedly. Aaron shook his head.

"Not yet, sir," he replied, looking back over the divisions. Drake was right of course, they were spread thin. But it would have to do. Forces were already stationed in the key towns along the west coast, which was where Robert's forces were most likely to land, and that had reduced North Castle's defence drastically.

"When are the forces from Valour Hold arriving?" asked Drake.

"Soon. Should be any time soon," assured Aaron, although he could not help but feel uneasy. He knew Krin had sent a messenger to the hold, but no message had ever come back.

"Let's hope it's before Robert and his cronies arrive," growled Drake, sheathing his sword.

"It will be..." said Aaron softly, sincerely hoping his words would prove to be true.



***



Sprite was hopelessly lost. The little faerie had absolutely no idea where she was going, or where to find either Felicity or Zelda. Her desperation was growing by the minute and she was terrified in case she bumped into either Mara or Enzar.

"Zelda! Flis! Tiff!" she called into the murky darkness, but to no avail. Neither answered the faerie's frantic calls. She flew down a narrow passage searching for signs of recent habitation. How dumb am I, Mara could have hidden anywhere in this place, Sprite thought to herself. The faerie flew under a stone arch, crying out once more. "Anyone? Anyone here?" Suddenly she heard a faint call from within the dark gloom of a cavern she had entered.

"Sprite... Sprite... is that you?" came the weak cry of Felicity. Sprite paused, hovering in mid-air, trying to pin-point the location of her dear friend. Relief filled her face as her eyes focused on a gilded cage in the far corner of the room. She quickly flew down to it, alighting on the table.

"Felicity! Am I glad to have found you!" she exclaimed in relief. Felicity stood on the other side of the bars, her tiny figure extremely frail-looking. She looked exhausted, Sprite thought.

"Sprite.... Mara, she..." Felicity began.

"I know, I know all about Enzar and everything," Sprite interrupted. She examined the door to the cage. It was locked. Not a problem, Sprite thought looking at it. Breaking magical locks was one of her spell specialities after all. "You can tell me later Flis, but first I gotta get you out of here," she added. Closing her eyes she pointed a finger at the lock, shooting off a blast of magic at it. The lock gave a small fizzle but remained in place. "Fine," Sprite said, attempting a second time. There was a small explosion, and when the smoke cleared, the metal door swung open easily.

"Sprite, you're the best," Felicity said weakly, looking impressed. Sprite shrugged.

"I might not be any good with potions and charms but no-one can beat me when it comes to lock breaking," she grinned. She leaned into the cage, helping Felicity clamber out. "Here, have these," she said, reaching into the small bag across her shoulder. There was a few berries inside, which Felicity accepted greedily.

"Thanks Sprite," she said, hugging her friend. Sprite hugged her back.

"I'm just glad you're okay. We've been so worried about you," she said. Felicity stepped back.

"Sprite, we need to get out of here before Mara returns," she said seriously. "And Tiff... we need to save Tiff. Mara released her outside but she took away her power of flight and entrapped her within a magic orb." Sprite gasped.

"Oh no! Will she be okay do you think?" she questioned.

"I don't know... I hope so... I can still feel a psychic connection to her, so she's definitely alive. We have to find her!" Felicity said.

"I agree, but... but Zelda is here. She's come to fight Mara and I'm worried about her. We have to make sure she's okay too!" Sprite explained.

"Oh... oh, why that explains why Mara was in here earlier with the Triforce!" Felicity said, realisation dawning on her face.

"What?!" Sprite exclaimed in horror.

"I... I thought I was imagining it, but only a few minutes before you arrived, Mara came into this chamber holding the Triforce of Wisdom. She took a few reagents in a bag then she just disappeared," Felicity said. The two faeries looked at each other.

"If Mara has the Triforce..." Sprite began.

"Then Zelda is in trouble!" they both finished.



It didn't take the faeries long to discover the Princess. She was lying only a few feet away from the main chamber, along a side passage. Her blood-soaked body was huddled on the ground, obviously unconscious.

"Oh no! We're too late!" Sprite exclaimed, glancing at Felicity in panic. "I should never have let her go in there alone, Link will never forgive me for this!" she wailed. Felicity remained silent, instead fluttering down to Zelda's side. She touched the Princess's wrist, detecting a weak pulse there.

"She's still alive," she said.

"Oh, thank goodness!" Sprite said, flying down to where Felicity was.

"But she needs urgent medical attention. I think... I think I have enough manna left to revive her for a short while, but she needs the power of a healer if she's to be okay," Felicity explained. The faerie flew up to Zelda's forehead, laying her hands upon it. Then she murmured in ancient hylian. Zelda was immediately bathed in a soft blue light and her eyes flickered open. She coughed a little, then managed to sit up.

"What... where...." she stuttered, evidently confused.

"Zelda, you're in Death Mountain, and Mara has escaped with the Triforce! She's probably going to North Castle and we have to stop her!" Sprite exclaimed.

"No... no.... she can't be...." Zelda said, the memories coming flooding back.

"She is, and she's got a head start. Come on, get up, you'll die here if you don't," Sprite said. She turned to Felicity. "Sal's down in the main chamber. Enzar was fighting with her, I just hope he didn't kill her. If she's alright, she's the best chance of getting Zelda to North Castle quickly," she said.

"Enzar wouldn't bother himself with something so trivial as a dragon. Chances are, he's gone with Mara. She can summon him at will, I think," Felicity replied.



The three made their way back down to the Underworld Throne Room. Luckily, Sal was still there. She was sitting licking her wounds and looking most insulted.

"Oh, there you are," she said grouchily, as the three entered the chamber.

"Sal, are you alright?" Sprite asked, fluttering in front of the dragon.

"Am I alright, the little pipsqueak asks? What do you think?" Sal said rudely, spitting sparks in the faerie's general direction. Sprite dodged them, looking annoyed.

"How many times do I have to tell you not to do that?" she said, pouting. Sal snaked her head over to Sprite, grinning.

"If you weren't so small, pipsqueak, I'd eat you up in a trice. I'm starved," she remarked. Zelda walked down across to the dragon.

"Sal, I need to get to North Castle, and quick. It'll take me all day to ride there, but I know you'll take only a matter of hours. Please, will you fly me home?" she asked, as politely as she could manage.

"Oh, I don't know about that, little Princess," Sal leered.

"Look Sal, no time for games. This is Hyrule's future at stake!" Zelda exclaimed impatiently, stamping her foot. Sal raised an eyebrow.

"Listen up Your Royal Highness. I have just spent the past couple of hours recovering from a nasty incident involving Enzar. Luckily for me, he took pity on me and didn't finish me off. I risked my life for you and that annoying little faerie over there, so I really don't appreciate you ordering me about like a prima donna when you quite clearly have no right to do so," she remarked coolly. Zelda frowned.

"Sal, please! Do you want Hyrule to end up in ruins?" she asked.

"Not particularly, but you need to learn how to show some gratitude, Princess," Sal replied.

"I promise, as many cows as you like, and er, maybe a few prisoners, how about that?" Zelda bargained.

"Prisoners?" Sal asked hopefully.

"Yes, Catalian war prisoners! Hyrule is about to go to war," Zelda said.

"Okay, fine. Come on, let's get moving," Sal said. Sprite turned to Zelda.

"You head back to the castle, we'll follow but we need to help Tiffany first," she said.

"Okay," Zelda agreed. "Thanks Sprite, Felicity," she added.

"Anytime," Sprite shrugged. They turned and followed Sal who was already lumbering off down the dark passageway.



***



"Link. Link!" The Hyrulian hero stirred in his sleep as he heard his name being called, then suddenly bolted upright from his bunk, realising where he was. He was aboard the ship of Orion Beyblade, and he was on his way back to Hyrule. Tired from his previous journey to Opela, Orion had insisted that Link get some sleep, and sheer fatigue had ensured that Link could not argue, despite the myriad of thoughts that were racing through the hero's mind. Link looked around his bleak surroundings, then saw the massive form of Orion, standing close by.

"Are we there?"

"Just about to land. You sleep okay?" Link nodded a little wearily, then quickly climbed from his bunk. He put out his hand to Orion, and the sea captain took Link's slender hand in his bear like paw and shook it firmly.

"Whatever debt you think you owe my father has been repaid many times over, Orion. You don't have to add your men to Hyrule's cause, you've done more than enough already," said Link humbly. Orion let out a deep laugh that came from his belly, and shook his head.

"We came this far Link. We aren't going to just stop now. Seline would never have allowed such a war...but she chose the wrong heir." Link's eyes widened as he heard Orion speak. He had always figured that the Aidnarykian had had contacts, but not to this extent.

"You knew Seline?"

"Oh yes. I knew her. A great woman worn down by many years of conflict and disappointment. She was proud, too proud and she never knew when to ask for help. At one time I was captain of the guard at Opela palace, Link...so yes, I knew Queen Seline." Link frowned as Orion spoke.

"What do you mean, she chose the wrong heir? Was there any other choice?" Orion let out a great sigh and turned away from Link, beginning to climb up to the deck above. Link followed him, still waiting for an answer. Once they were on deck, the night wind whipping about their faces, Orion turned to Link and spoke.

"There were three men who Seline trusted more than any. I was one of them, and so was Robert."

"You think she should have made you heir?" guessed Link. Orion looked at Link and smiled.

"No, lad. Not at all. I am not a man who would make any kind of king, let alone a good one. There was a third, who Seline trusted with her life." Link frowned and recalled something Drake had told him.

"Do you mean Kaibre Lainge?" he asked. The sellsword had worked in the Catalian court for a while, Link knew, and he had protected Seline from harm. Until a disagreement between the two.

"Yes, Link. How did you know that?" asked Orion in surprise.

"He worked for us a while...he looked after Zelda whilst I was in Catalia a few weeks back." Link felt sickened as he spoke, still aware of how well Kaibre Lainge had looked after his wife while he had been away.

"Then surely you must know what I am talking about when I say Seline chose the wrong heir. She chose Robert, a man who openly longed for nothing more but war, instead of Kaibre, who wanted to end all of that. Not because he was a coward, Link, as I'm sure you will know, but because he knew what war did."

"I never really got to know him. He died before I could," admitted Link suddenly. The hero thought he saw a great sadness settle in Orion's green eyes, and then the captain turned away.

"Maybe he found peace at last then. You know about his family being murdered while he protected Seline, no doubt?" Link shook his head slowly.

"No. No, I didn't."

"He was a fine man, no doubt about it, Seline made a great mistake in dismissing him."

"She dismissed him? Why?"

"A disagreement between he and Robert, as far as I could gather. I left Seline's service shortly before...wanted to get back on the sea again I suppose, so I never got any real details 'cept rumours and gossip. The most plausible theory I ever heard was that Kaibre accused Robert of being a war monger with an unreasonable hatred for Hyrule Seline of course never believed it, and it was Kaibre who ended up looking bad." There was a sudden thud as the ship drew to a halt, anchor dropped, and Link had trouble keeping himself steady. Orion smiled at Link. "A landlubber if I ever saws one," he commented, grabbing Link's hand firmly in a handshake. "Now get you gone to that castle of yours. You should arrive before Robert at any rate...and we'll be shortly behind, just in case," assured the sea captain. Link fixed his eyes on Orion and smiled back grimly.

"Thank you," he said solemnly.

"Good luck boy. We're both going to have to survive this, 'cos I want to hear all about what's gone on in the last 15 years or so. And I certainly want to meet that beautiful wife and gorgeous children of yours," said Orion seriously.

"It's a deal," promised Link. He then drew back from Orion, and gave him a salute, before running down the gang plank that had already been set up. As soon as his feet touched the pier, he saw another old friend, Bagu, the Bridge Master of Saria.



"Link? Is it really you?" inquired the Bridge Master. Link gave a nod.

"It is, Bagu, and I need the fastest steed this town has to offer," began Link. Bagu nodded.

"Of course, but sir, what are you doing this far away from the castle at such a time?" inquired Bagu. Link shrugged.

"I wish I had the time to tell you," he admitted. Bagu nodded again, before calling to young boy who was stood near by.

"Ayrun, go and fetch my steed from the stables. Do it quickly and I won't tan your hide," ordered the bridge master. He turned back to Link.

"Is it true that the Catalians are coming?" Link nodded gravely.

"Yes. Saria should be safe...they're coming through the desert," answered Link.

"Tantari Desert?" Bagu looked surprised at Link's revelation. Link nodded.

"Then surely we don't need forces here, or even Ruto!" exclaimed Bagu. Suddenly Ayrun arrived, holding a grey horse by the reins.

"Sir, your steed," gasped the young apprentice. Link looked from Ayrun to Bagu and sighed.

"I'd prefer that the forces you have remained here, just in case. But the men on this ship they are going to North Castle. I want you to provide them with whatever they need." As Link finished speaking, he mounted Bagu's steed and saluted to the Bridge Master.

"I'll do that, sir!" assured the Bridge Master. Link nodded and turned, spurring his steed on. "God speed, Master Link!" called Ayrun, watching as Hyrule's legendary hero sped off, in awe.



An arid wind whipped across the dark Tantari desert, and it was the first thing to greet Robert of Catalia as he left his ship. Catalian ships lined the desert coast, and from each filed out Catalian soldiers ready for war. Robert turned to his nearest advisor and nodded.

"We march tonight. The sooner we reach North Castle, the better," he ordered. His advisor watched nervously as he spoke, then cautioned Robert.

"Would it not be advisable to allow the men to rest, they have had a long voyage, your majesty, and..." Robert turned to his advisor, his green eyes glittering, and delivered such a withering stare that his advisor shrank back, almost in fear.

"We march tonight. I have also been on a long voyage, and I see no reason to rest. In fact, I think it would be most unwise to try to march through the desert in the heat of day...do you not think the same?" inquired Robert, one eyebrow slightly raised.

"Well, yes, there is that of course sir. A night time march it is. I shall spread the message immediately."

"You see that you do," purred Robert, in a tone that had an underlying threat beneath it. The advisor bowed low then shrank away, though never turning his back on Robert as he went. Robert turned his eyes to the star studded sky and muttered under his breath.

"Give me a sign." As soon as the King had spoken the words, he felt a sudden shift in the air beside him. He turned, and almost gasped as he saw his lover suddenly materialise before him. "Mara," he whispered. The healer turned to Robert, and smiled at him, running her hand down his arm.

"You asked for a sign," she murmured in a low voice. Robert looked around him and saw men milling about everywhere. It appeared as if no one had even noticed Mara's somewhat unusual entrance. He turned back to Mara, and reached out to touch her face with his hand, she reached up and stopped him. "Not now, my love. There is still much to be done. I have in my possession one third of the Triforce, but nothing can be accomplished until the whole Triforce is reunited. But to do that, you must attack North Castle and breach its cursed walls, then we shall join it, together, and we shall be granted our inner most desires," promised the witch. Robert nodded, but he still looked a little wary.

"Shall we be able to defeat Hyrule's forces?" he asked, "The prowess of their fighters, especially from Valour Hold, is renowned throughout the Demiari. I even trained there myself, once, and saw that they are no small threat." Mara smiled as Robert voiced his worries and merely shook her head.

"The men of Valour Hold shall represent no threat to you, your Highness. Indeed, I have yet lacked the opportunity to congratulate on the acquisition of your new title." As she spoke, Mara reached up and kissed Robert softly on the lips. As their lips touched, a rumble of thunder sounded from the dark sky above. They parted and Robert looked up the sky, then back down to Mara. He leaned forward, meaning to kiss her once more, but she stopped him for a second time. "There will be time for that, later, my love. Now I regret that we must part company once more, but do not fear, for we shall be together very soon." And with that, Mara simply vanished. Robert stood for a moment, still a little dazed by Mara's sudden appearance. He turned and watched his men marching forth, then quickly mounted his steed that had just been fetched for him. He rode to the forefront of the marching men and drew his sword, holding it aloft.

"To North Castle!" he commanded, before setting off to the south, and to his destiny.



The cold night wind whipped about Link's face as he sped on to Ruto from Saria. He figured he could make it to North Castle before the first rays of dawn, so long as he pressed on. Bagu's steed was indeed a fine horse, and it showed no signs of letting up, but Link knew it would be cruel to push the animal at the same rate all the way to North Castle. He had to change once he reached Ruto. As he entered the rocky pass that led to the mountain town of Ruto, Link suddenly realised that the guard was alive with activity.

"Who goes there?" called a loud voice, not far in front of Link. The hero smiled. Of course, the pass would be defended. He had never even thought.

"I am Link," called out Link, riding forward. He heard the ring of metal as a sword was drawn, and he was approached by a grizzled looking soldier, also on horseback, who eyed him suspiciously. As he looked upon Link's face, a glimmer of recognition appeared in the man's eyes and he nodded.

"So it is, sir. I am sorry for doubting you, but in such times I am sure you appreciate that certain precautions must be made, here follow me and I shall lead you through," offered the captain.

"Thank you sir. However, might I ask a favour? I need to reach North Castle as soon as possible, and I need a fresh horse," began Link as they walked through the pass. As soon as the reached the end the captain immediately dismounted.

"It would be an honour, sir, if you would take my steed. She will get you to North Castle as fast as any horse could," promised the captain. Link quickly jumped from the horse Bagu had generously given to him, and mounted the captain's.

"That horse belongs to Bagu, the Bridge Master of Saria, see that he gets it back," instructed Link.

"Of course sir. Are the Catalians coming?"

"Not through this pass. They're attacking North Castle through the desert. Is the east pass defended?"

"No sir, we assumed they would come through Saria."

"Move your men to the east pass. If the west coast needs defending, then you shall be the ones to do it," advised Link. The captain saluted to him, and Link echoed the sentiment.

"There will be some mercenaries coming through here at some point, led by Orion Beyblade, a good friend of mine. See you let them through without delay," added the hero.

"Of course sir. Good luck and God speed." Link nodded to the captain and turned, before pausing a moment.

"Might I have your name? So I know who to return this fine steed to?"

"Erik Du Luka, sir," replied the captain, looking immensely proud that Link would know his name.

"Thank you, Erik Du Luka," said Link with a nod, before setting off at a gallop, his sole intention to reach North Castle before his kinsmen, Robert of the Kokiri, did.



"A rider from the west!" called out a scout, causing Drake to turn on his steed. A lone rider was racing over the plane, hunched over their steed and making an obvious beeline for the castle. Drake looked to the archers who were taking aim.

"Just hold your fire, alright? Could be a messenger from them...or even one of ours," barked Drake. The archers all immediately lowered their weapons, although Drake noticed that some were clearly itching to let loose some arrows. "I'm going to ride out to meet them," suddenly announced the Head Knight, before spurring his horse into a brisk trot. He personally couldn't blame the archers for being so restless, they, among with the rest of the army, had been stationed outside North Castle for close to a day now and with no outcome. Robert had not appeared, nor had any messengers arrived detailing his imminent arrival. What weighed heavier on Drake's mind, however, was the fate of the Valour Hold regiment. They should have arrived hours ago, and yet there was no message, nor any sign of them. As Drake approached the rider, he noticed that they slowed considerably, and he drew his sword, holding it aloft. He pulled the reins on his horse, calling it to a halt, then stood, waiting.

"Drake!" Drake frowned as his name was called, and squinted at the rider through the darkness.

"Link, is that you?" asked the knight, recognising the voice. Link came into his sight, atop a bay mare, his hair damp with perspiration and his horse covered in a sheen of sweat.

"Yes. Look, Robert is going to attack from the North through Tantari desert," began Link hurriedly, drawing up to Drake. Drake sheathed his sword and glared at Link.

"From the desert? You've got to be joking! Is he insane?"

"Well he's just saved himself days of fighting through Saria and Ruto pass, so maybe not. I'll bet he's marching through the desert right now, while it's cool...you know Drake, it isn't that bad a plan," reasoned Link.

"So, you're telling me, after a twenty hour voyage he's going to march his men to a battle bigger than they've ever fought in their short lives?!" demanded Drake, gruffly. Link nodded.

"Something tells me, Robert's been planning this for a long time. He's not about to let a twenty hour voyage slow him down," confirmed the hero. Drake closed his eyes for a moment drawing in a deep breath.

"Okay, so we need to defend the north side of the castle. I'll thin out the troops from the south and send them round to the north. I'm still waiting for that damn Valour Hold regiment...I've never known them to be so late. Considering they're meant to be the cream of the crop an' all..." growled the knight.

"Valour Hold hasn't sent out its forces?" asked Link worriedly. He knew that the Valour Hold regiment was the best in all Hyrule, they were Hyrule's full time army in fact, and their presence would be sorely missed if they did not arrive in time for the conflict between North Castle and Robert's forces. "What of Nick's army?" added the hero, scanning his eyes over the shadowed soldiers that surrounded North Castle.

"No. They won't arrive for another few hours we reckon. They're landing at Mido, so they'll be coming from the east," replied Drake. Link nodded.

"When Robert comes, we can confront him on the northern front then send the east and the west around in a pincer movement. There's a lot of them Drake, dozens of ships left Catalia harbour..." began the hero.

"So you got to Catalia then?" interrupted Drake.

"Yes. I went to Robert and he said I was an impostor...he wants this war, Drake. No matter what." Drake frowned.

"Right. Well I'll get on to sending out those orders. But don't think I'm finished with you Link..." said Drake coldly, before turning away from the hero.

"Wait, what should I do now? I assume my regiment has a new commander," questioned Link.

"Yes, it does. You no longer have any rank in the army Link, on orders of the King." Link frowned.

"What? No rank! Are you serious?" cried Link incredulously.

"As serious as I come," answered Drake in a low voice.

"So, all those years I dedicated my life to saving this damn country and suddenly I'm nothing? Nice to know I'm appreciated," snapped Link angrily.

"You betrayed the King's only daughter, this kingdom's one heir...what did you expect? A welcome committee?"

"And you, you agree with this?" asked Link sharply. Drake sighed.

"Look Link, I serve the Royal Family, no one else," said the knight reluctantly.

"And what about friends Drake, what about them?" demanded Link.

"Look, boy, this is not the time nor the place. If you have a problem, go see the King and talk to him about it. I have duties to perform," barked Drake, beginning to walk away.

"Boy? I'm no boy, Drake, and you know it. Don't turn your back on me like I don't exist. I've just spent two days in the stinking hull of a ship just to warn you of what Robert is doing, and this is the thanks I get?" yelled Link. Drake bit his lip.

"Link, when you betrayed Zelda, you betrayed all of us."

"Oh, so I'm the villain am I? Years of her accusing me of doing things I never did...years of her flying off the handle and then it turns out she's the hypocrite!" cried Link, his voice hoarse.

"What are you talking about?" demanded Drake a little impatiently.

"Kaibre Lainge, that's who. While I was away, it looks like Zelda was the one who forgot about her marriage vows...not me!" continued Link, furious as it all poured out.

"Kaibre? No...no Link, you've got it wrong," insisted Drake, his brow heavily furrowed.

"Well maybe it wasn't the only thing I'm wrong about Drake. I thought I had friends, I thought Hyrule was my home. But now I realise that it's all wrong."

"You still have friends Link, but I am loyal to the King. I'm sorry," said Drake quietly.

"I may have no rank Drake, but I will still fight him, rank or not. So you'll either have to waste time trying to stop me or let me fight," challenged Link fiercely. He and Drake stared at one another.

"I won't stop you Link. If you want to fight you can. And I...I will be by your side," pledged Drake suddenly. Link looked at Drake hard for a long time.

"Good. Now you best give out those orders. We must be ready for him Drake, or pay the consequences."



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