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.
Shadows of the Past
Juliet A. Singleton (Scullys@bigfoot.com) & Kirsty Singleton (Indigo_Spacen@mail.com)
Mara walked along the main gallery, pausing to admire herself in the mirror. She'd just spent a short session talking to Ewan earlier, while Impa had been in her quarters, making the children some supper. Now, Mara had changed into something a little more appealing. Rather than her plain healer garb that she wore everyday, she now wore a crimson coloured gown. Simple and unadorned it may be, nothing compared to the finery of most of the women in the castle, Mara still looked good in it. She'd also left her curly strawberry blonde hair loose, rather than in a braid. Smirking, she pushed the doors open, and walked out onto the battlements. Drake had to be around somewhere, and tonight she was going to spend some time getting to know the man. If she could charm him well enough, he could prove very useful to her. He could be her key to obtaining the Triforce. Her ruby red lips curved into a cruel smile, and her blue eyes glittered. She quickly approached the nearest guard, and tapped him on the shoulder.
"Excuse me good sir, pray tell me where Sir Drake is on duty tonight," she murmured, her smile changing to a sweet, innocent one. The guard didn't recognise her as the castle healer.
"Excuse me ma'am, but why do you be seeking Sir Drake?" he questioned warily.
"Why, the fair Lady, Selina of Dalsona wishes to speak to him," Mara lied.
"Oh, I see. He's up in the west guard tower presently," the guard informed.
"Oh, I hope not alone! I hate going up those spooky towers by myself," Mara said.
"Yeah, he's by himself. I'll escort you there, if you wish, or I could save you the journey entirely and just go myself and pass the message on," the guard offered. Mara laughed.
"Oh no, it's quite okay. I'll go," she said.
"As you please, ma'am," the guard said.
"Thank you," Mara smiled, curtseying politely. Then, smirking to herself at her good fortune, she headed toward the west watch tower...
Fuming, Zelda stumbled into the small, dark room, and quickly turned to face her attacker. He was still holding the knife. There seemed to be no other way of escape, except by the door that they'd come through.
"What do you know about Link?" she questioned. The man let out a short laugh.
"The traitor?" he questioned.
"Traitor indeed! How dare you call him that?!" Zelda cried angrily.
"Because he is," the man replied simply.
"You're a fool, Kokiri!" Zelda snapped, knowing at once that he was one of Link's kindred.
"No, you are the fool, Princess!" the man replied. He then advanced towards Zelda, and before she could dart out of the way, he grabbed hold of both her wrists, and held them tightly. "I should kill you now," he stated darkly.
"Kill me, and you not only betray Hyrule, you also betray your own country and Queen!" Zelda said in a low tone. Angry, the man suddenly let go of her, flinging her back towards the wall. She managed not to fall, and quickly brushed herself down.
"Don't you think I know that?!" he said loudly.
"Tell me where Link is! I command you!" Zelda said.
"You're not our leader. I won't take orders from the likes of you, Hyrulian filth!" the man retorted.
"Your tribe originally came from Hyrule, did it not? That makes Hyrule your actual home country," Zelda remarked. She had edged into the corner, wondering if she could make a run for the door once his back was turned. The stranger didn't reply. Finally, he walked over to a table, and lit a small candle there. Then he held it up in Zelda's direction, studying her. Zelda noticed that the man had bright red hair, and shuddered slightly. It reminded her of Ganondorf a little. He was tall and well-built, strong, he had the same sort of build as Drake. In a struggle, Zelda knew fine well that he could very easily over-power her. It surprised her, for after seeing Link, Hayden and Kylara, she'd assumed that they'd all look very similar, especially after Link had told her that it was tradition for them all to intermarry. Suddenly he smiled.
"Well, I can see how you managed to tempt him away from Kylara," he said. Zelda scowled.
"I did nothing of the sort!" she retorted.
"So pretty!" the man continued, sneering.
"Don't mock me!" Zelda said, looking down at the floor. Where was Aaron, she wondered. She was beginning to wonder if she'd ever escape. The man just laughed again.
"Well, you'll pay for what you did. You'll be sorry you ever interfered," he continued. He picked up some rope, and grabbing hold of the helpless princess, roughly bound up her wrists. She attempted to struggle, but it did no good. He was simply too strong. Zelda tried to focus upon the Triforce of Wisdom to help her, but it was simply too far away. A small blue flame spluttered upon her hands, and then died. The man noticed, and quickly let her go.
"So the Princess is not only a shameless seductress, she is also a witch!" he said. Zelda looked offended by his words.
"I am neither!" she argued.
"Yet you made fire that glowed blue! If that wasn't witchcraft, then what was it?" the man questioned. He looked a little frightened.
"Magic. Doesn't your town healer use magic? I am sure you wouldn't call her a witch," Zelda said.
"The healers magic does not look like yours," the man said.
"My magic is theurgy. A healer's magic is much different! She uses herbs and chants, and I... I use my Triforce to make magic!" Zelda replied quickly. Suddenly, the red-haired man stepped forward again, and grabbed her.
"Enough of your talk! Come on, we must go," he said.
"Go where?" Zelda questioned.
"You'll see," the man muttered.
Mara pushed open the door into the watch tower. Drake turned, surprised. "Who goes there?" he called, not recognising her in the dim light.
"It is only I, Mara," Mara called out. Drake walked forward, sheathing his sword.
"Is something wrong?" he questioned, puzzled as to why the healer had come up to the tower.
"Oh, I thought the dedicated watchman might be feeling a little bit lonely, all up in this cold, dark tower by himself," Mara murmured sweetly, smiling.
"Well, he is, but..." Drake began.
"But nothing, good Sir. I absolutely insist on keeping you company," Mara smiled. She quickly pulled the door shut behind her.
"And no need to worry, for this is my night off," she added, slipping up to the knight on quiet feet. He smiled.
"Oh, well in that case..." he started, his smile turning into a grin. Mara grinned back.
"For a while now, I've been thinking that you are surely the most handsome man in the whole court," she said flirtaciously. Drake laughed.
"Oh, really? Dear girl, you flatter me," he said, still grinning.
"It's true," Mara insisted.
"Ah, maybe I am, but there's all the young 'uns, like Link, too," Drake said.
"Link may be handsome, as is Aaron too, but they are both married. You, on the other hand I hear, are unattached," Mara replied, fluttering her eyelashes.
"Oh, so that's what people say about me, is it?" Drake questioned, still laughing.
"Well, I've heard this and that," Mara admitted, moving a little closer to him.
"When I first saw you, I thought you were a shy little thing, but that's obviously just an act, right?" Drake joked. Mara jumped a little, shocked at what he said.
"Oh... I'm shy with strangers, but you Drake, you make me feel right at home," she said quickly, putting one hand on his shoulder. Drake smiled.
"That's me. Sir Drake Benowyc, the benevolent," he said.
"Not to mention also Sir Drake the charmer," Mara added.
"Ah, so generous! The golden voiced bard is also blessed with a pleasing wit!" Drake praised.
"Why thank you," Mara said, running a hand through her loose hair. Drake seemed to notice it for the first time.
"I didn't realise just how much of that you had," he chuckled.
"Well, a healer should always dress practical you know," Mara stated primly.
"Not so practical tonight though, are we," Drake remarked, smiling again.
"Well, a girl likes to look pretty every now and again," Mara reasoned.
"And I must admit, that you look simply ravishing tonight, my dear," the knight complimented.
"Oh Drake," Mara sighed happily, before leaning close and kissing him.
Although Zelda struggled to flee, it did no good. She was taken into another house, not far away, and led into the kitchen. She fancied that she saw a dark-haired woman watching fearfully in the shadows, but before she could look further, the man opened a trapdoor in the floor, and flung her down the stairs to the bottom. As she hit the ground head-on, she let out a small cry of pain. The next minute, she was being pulled up again.
"Shut up and be quiet, feeble girl!" the man said. He fumbled on his belt and got out a long silver key. If Zelda's hands handn't been tied up so tightly, she would have attempted to wrench it away from him. Unfortunately, she couldn't. The next minute, he was pushing her into a tiny cupboard, then closing the door, and locking it. A little light came from a torch lit outside, through the bars in the door. A few minutes later, Zelda heard the man tramping up the stairs. Sighing, she sank down onto the floor, feeling utterly defeated. She then realised that there was a warm mound curled up in the corner next to her, covered in a tattered blanket. Although it was dark, she knew almost at once that it was Link. As she touched him, a sense of relief washed over her. He was still alive!
"Link! Link, wake up! It's me!" she said, shaking him a little, although it was hard, with her hands bound. He groaned, and thrashed a little, still asleep. "Link, please!" Zelda continued. Slowly, he opened his eyes, blinking in the near darkness. "Link, don't worry, I'm here," Zelda said quietly. He sat up, and gazed at her.
"Zel? Don't tell me I'm dreaming..." he began.
"Oh, how could they do this?" Zelda whispered, tears beginning to brim in her eyes. Link's hand found his way to hers, then he realised that they were tied up.
"What? They got you too?" he asked, barely daring to breathe. Zelda nodded sadly. "We'll get out of here, I promise," Link said, his vigour suddenly renewed at the sight of Zelda. He remembered the knife that Fayzie had slipped to him a few nights back. "Here, let me get rid of that," he said, fraying the rope away with the knife. He pulled at it a little, and it came away. Then he drew her into a hug. Zelda wept openly over his shoulder.
"Where is Sprite?" she asked.
"I don't know. Aden and Derin attacked us as we headed back to the port, and she was in a cage, but last time I was awake, she was gone. She's either escaped, or Derin sold her at the market like he promised," Link said sadly.
"I knew you were in trouble! If only you had not come alone!" she said.
"Why did you come alone?" Link questioned. "But I didn't! Aaron accompanied me!" Zelda said, her face brightening a bit.
"Where is he now?" Link asked urgently.
"I don't know... we... two men attacked us in the streets, while one kept Aaron busy, the other brought me here. Maybe Aaron will escape, and go to the Elder!" Zelda said hopefully. Link's hopes soared.
"Thank the goddesses!" he said. Zelda nodded. She leaned forward to kiss him, but he stopped her.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"Don't kiss me while I'm like this," he said, sounding ashamed.
"It makes no difference to me how you look," Zelda replied softly. She placed a hand upon his cheek, another round his shoulder and then kissed him gently. After a few moments, she drew away. "I would have killed myself if they'd killed you," she whispered. Link said nothing, but buried his face in her soft golden hair over her shoulder, and began to cry himself, he was so happy to see her again.
Aaron looked around wildly, desperately searching for a sign of Zelda's captor. He'd managed to force the other guy into a retreat, but not after a long, energy draining fight. He felt sick with fatigue. The elder, that's where he'd have to go, after all, that was the only guy who Aaron knew of, and it would be a start of anyway. He quickly walked over to the house Zelda had pointed out before as being the home of the village elder, and he gingerly knocked on the door. He glanced behind him, just to check there was no-one sneaking up behind him through the ashen shadows of dusk. The door opened a small way, an old man peering out uncertainly. He obviously didn't recognise Aaron, just as Aaron failed to recognise him.
"Are you the elder?" asked Aaron, his breathing beginning to return back to normal. The elder nodded.
"Who are you, may I ask?" said the elder, his voice cracked and hostile.
"Aaron Westley, of Hyrule, but it doesn't matter who I am..." began Aaron. The elder glared at Aaron, his hostility evidently growing.
"Oh of Hyrule!" he sneered with obvious dislike. "I suppose you've come looking for that troublesome friend of yours, he who claims to be of this tribe," hissed the elder. Aaron forced open the door with some force, surprising the weak old man. The elder stepped back, regaurding Aaron carefully.
"Do you know where he is?" demanded Aaron angrily. The elder shrugged.
"I haven't seen him since he arrived in this village a week or so ago, maybe longer. I would've thought he'd returned straight to Hyrule after the reception he received from this village," said the Elder.
"Have you heard of him any time after?" questioned Aaron, leaning forward. The elder shook his head.
"No. Nor do I wish to. He has already caused this community much heartache, some things can never be forgiven," said the Elder, sounding wistful for a moment.
"Was Link attacked?" asked Aaron.
"Yes. I had to break it up, after that, I believe he continued to the graveside of his family, to pay his so called respects."
"Who attacked him?" asked Aaron.
"The question should have been, who did not attack him. Link is not seen in a very good light, here in Gardarika," said the Elder.
"Well, you may not care much for Link, nor his wife, but you have to remember the alliance your own country shares with Hyrule. I accompanied Princess Zelda, yet when I arrived in the town, we were attacked, by two men. One took Zelda. I have good reason to believe they may be the same who have taken Link," said Aaron, folding his arms. The Elder swallowed nervously.
"The Princess?" he asked, worried, but his voice was still tainted by his disdain.
"Yes. The men, one was heavily built with red hair, he was the one who took Zelda, and the other was fair haired, he attacked me while the other dragged Zelda away. The Elder paused and shook his head. He knew who had done this, Aden and Derin, they were the only two. But then he could not risk revealing them to this Hyrulian, who would surely inform his own King, who would inform Catalia's queen. Such an offence could mean death. He would have to meet with the two, talk to them. This was a very serious situation.
"There are many people in this village, you can't expect me to know everyone," said the Elder, scowling at Aaron.
"You must know!" protested Aaron, sensing that the Elder was keeping something from him.
"Good night," said the Elder, firmly closing the door in Aaron's face, before the young warrior could even protest.
Aaron exhaled angrily and turned around, rubbing his temples. This village wasn't that big, it looked like he'd have to find those two alone. He mounted his horse and grabbed Zelda's horse by the reins. He trotted down the street, looking for a clue, any kind of clue that may reveal what had happened to Zelda. Suddenly, out of the darkness he saw a strange light come hurtling towards him. He pulled up and stared, when he suddenly realised it was a faerie, Sprite!
"Oh thank the goddesses! Is that you Aaron!" gasped Sprite as she approached. Aaron nodded.
"Yeah, where'd'you come from?" he asked.
"Those stupid Kokiri sold me at the market. Do you know how much for? The equivalent of 20 rupees! Are they crazy?! I'm worth far more than that! But it doesn't matter, I escaped my cage, and came back here. It's lucky you came, because I won't be able to save Link alone!" said Sprite.
"I didn't come alone, I came with Zelda," said Aaron, nodding to Zelda's horse by his side. Sprite noticed it for the first time.
"Where is she?" asked Sprite.
"We got attacked by two guys, one managed to get Zelda," admitted Aaron, slightly ashamed.
"I bet it was those jerks, Derin and Aden. Well, they won't get away with this," said Sprite angrily. Suddenly a flash of lightening tore through the sky, illuminating the gray streets. The soft patter of rain soon followed. Sprite looked up in dismay. "Oh great," she moaned.
"Come on, the quicker we find those two, the quicker we can leave. Hopefully this storm won't get worse," said Aaron. Sprite nodded.
"I know where they're keeping Link, and probably Zelda too!" ushered Sprite, flying off to the left down a side street. Aaron quickly followed behind her, praying that no harm had come to either of his friends.
"So, Sir, have I made your night watch much more interesting?" Mara questioned smiling, an hour or so later.
"Maybe so," Drake laughed. He was stood looking out of the window. Mara was sat on top of a crate, watching him. He'd been a lot easier to charm than she'd first reckoned, but he still hadn't told her anything that she wanted to know. He'd been more of a... distraction. She smiled slightly, then remembered the task at hand. Standing up, she walked up behind the knight, and then wrapped her arms around his shoulders. "D'you ever give up?" Drake said, turning and smiling. Mara smiled back.
"Not until I truly get what I want," she spoke truthfully, her words a double meaning. Of course, Drake didn't realise that. He pulled her close for a long, lingering kiss.
"Tomorrow night is my night off, you know," he said, his eyes twinkling.
"Oh, I don't think that I could possibly wait until then," Mara replied. Time was running out, after all. Drake chuckled.
"I know I'm the hottest guy around here, but I think you might just be able to contain yourself," he replied, grinning. He turned his attention back to the window. Mara giggled.
"I sure hope so! Where shall we go?" she questioned.
"I'll take ya to the best tavern in Mido," Drake promised.
"Why not a romantic walk under the stars, and a moonlit picnic?" Mara asked, looking hopeful.
"Ah... well... er..." Drake began, looking a little embarrassed.
"What? You won't do that?" Mara said, in surprise.
"Well... umm... I never took a lady for moonlit walks. Well... except when we came back from the tavern," he said.
"Oh... you like to be inside, rather than out?" Mara said.
"Something like that," Drake replied.
"Actually, that could be quite... enjoyable," Mara said, smiling.
"Yes, with a tankard of ale, and a charming woman like yourself, I'm quite happy," Drake said.
"Forget the ale, how about just you and me, alone, in your room?" Mara suggested.
"Well, I, er..." Drake began. Mara laughed.
"Really! I'm not as bad as that, you know!" she stated, her eyes dancing mischieviously.
"I should hope not!" Drake grinned. He leaned forward to kiss her again. "Although, the idea does sound rather tempting..." he remarked. Mara just smiled, and then hugged him.
"I knew as soon as I set eyes on this castle, all my dreams would begin to come true," she murmured, kissing him back.
"And you, are the best thing to arrive at this place in months," Drake replied, although Mara sensed he was somehow lying. She leaned back.
"Oh, really?" she asked, smiling falsely. Drake didn't notice.
"Yes really," he replied.
"I'm glad," Mara said. beginning to feel slightly frustrated. She'd wanted to get the Triforce tonight, but she didn't want the knight getting too suspicious. She needed his help. She looked out of the window, over his shoulder. To the west, high mountains rose. Past there, lay Catalia. She only hoped it would take the Princess and the Hero a little longer to return. One more night, and she would finally have what she wanted...
Fayzie swallowed uneasily, listening behind the kitchen door. In there, was Aden and Derin. Derin was talking about how he'd managed to evade the Princess' companion, but Aden was angry.
"What if the fool goes to the Elder and tells how the Princess is missing?!" he demanded.
"He was... he was too fast,too strong for me, but I gave him a beating. Even if he does tell, it could have been anyone kidnapping that bitch!" Derin replied, still breathing fast.
"True, but we can't risk being found out! We'll be cast out of the town, otherwise!" Aden argued. Derin sighed.
"They deserve this. Maybe we should kill them now, and then hide their bodies in one of the caves around here," he suggested.
"You shouldn't have sold that damn faerie! What if it talks?" Aden said.
"Then we have to move fast," Derin replied.
"Alright. We'll kill Link," Aden decided. "But what about the Princess?" Derin questioned.
"I don't know... I don't know!" he shouted. He was clearly becoming frustrated.
"We'll have to kill her, it's the only way. Else we'll be caught," Derin said.
"Listen. No-one knows of that cellar. All that we need to do, is cover it over, seal it up. We'll just leave them down there to rot," Aden said. Derin nodded.
"Yes, no-one will ever know," he said.
"But we have to get started now," Aden stated.
"I've got the right tools in my shed, and we can soon mix up some cement," Derin said. Aden opened a cupboard, and got a large sack out.
"I'll head to the beach and collect some sand and stones, you go and get the tools, and make a start at sealing it," he ordered.
"Alright," Derin said, heading towards the door. Fayzie stepped aside, and rushed down the darkend passage towards her room, her heart beating fast. She had to do something, and quick! Moments later, the kitchen door slammed open, and the two men hurried out.
Fayzie waited for ten minutes, and then went into the kitchen. She peeled back the hearth rug, revealing the trapdoor sunk into the stone floor. With trembling hands, she pulled the heavy wooden door back, and grabbed a lantern. Then she made her way down into the cellar. Inside the small cell, Link and the Princess appeared to be huddled asleep. To Fayzie's dismay, the huge padlock was still on the door, and without the key, she couldn't possibly open the door. She needed something to break it. I'm not strong enough! she thought in dismay, glancing wildly about the room for something heavy. She was thin, and most of her day consisted of looking after the house, baking and cleaning. She wasn't very strong. She remembered what Derin had said about Zelda's companion. That he had been male, and strong. Fayzie wondered if she had the time to find him. If he was wandering around the town, she could find him, and bring him back to the cellar, and make him smash the padlock off the door. It all depended on how long Derin took. His house was not far away. She had maybe ten minutes, perhaps less. She swallowed, a tear falling from her eye. If she was caught, Aden would beat her, maybe to death. His previous beatings had already caused her to lose the child that had been inside her. However, somewhere, there was a tiny spark of courage in Fayzie's battered body. She hated Aden now, for the twisted and bitter actions he had done. She hated Derin too. She had to stop them both. She had to save Link, and the Princess. An idea was beginning to form in her head. If she could find this man before Derin returned, they could lie in wait for him, and the man could strike him down, out cold. Then, she could get him to break the padlock, and she, him, Zelda and Link could escape together, perhaps before Aden returned and discovered what had happened. It would take Aden a good half an hour to reach the beach, maybe longer, on foot. Quickly, she headed up the stairs, but a surprise was waiting for her when she reached the top.
A dark-haired man was walking into the kitchen, and for a moment, she thought Derin had returned. A scream left her lips, and she stumbled backwards. The man leaned forward and caught her by the arm.
"Are you Fayzie?" he asked. She nodded dumbly. "I'm Aaron of Hyrule. I believe my Princess, and my friend, Link, are being held here," he stated, in a calm voice. Fayzie nodded again.
"She's on our side, don't worry!" Sprite said.
"I know, you told me. I just saw those two... excuse my language, scumbags leave. Where are they going?" he questioned. Fayzie managed to regain her composure.
"We must be quick, Derin will be back any minute! Aden has gone to the beach to get sand... they want to seal up the trapdoor, with Link and the Princess still inside," Fayzie said, the words pouring out in a rush. Sprite gasped, and even Aaron looked shocked. "I... I couldn't open the door, there's a padlock on, and Aden has the key... I was hoping you'd be able to break it. And Link... I'm afraid he may be sick, and he's certainly injured. We don't have long to escape..." she added. Aaron nodded, understanding. They walked out to the darkened passage, hiding behind the door. "May I..." Fayzie began. Aaron turned to look at her, and held her hand comfortingly. Sprite had told him what had happened to Fayzie when she had been kind to Link, helping him. "When you go, may I, and my young son, come with you?" she asked. Aaron nodded, and pulled her close into a hug.
"Of course you can," he whispered, listening intently for the sound of footsteps.
"Could I perhaps pack a few things?" she asked.
"Quick, go!" Aaron said. Fayzie darted into a side room, and closed the door behind her. Meanwhile, Aaron lay grimly in wait, Sprite close at hand.
Aaron held his breath as he heard footsteps approaching. He shot Sprite a questioning glance.
"I think it's one of them," she confirmed. Aaron nodded, laying his hand on the hilt of his sword. The door was suddenly pushed open, and Aaron sprang out, surprising who was behind the door. It was Derin. He was carrying a bag over his shoulder, from which poked an array of tools, including a chisel and two shovels. Aaron jabbed Derin in the stomach, hard. Derin, who was completely off-guard, dropped the bag and keeled down to his knees. Aaron proceeded to lift his knee, catching Derin on the jaw. Derin fell backwards, cracking his skull on the hard, stone floor. He grunted for the first time, revealing some sort of sufferance. Aaron bent his knees, leaned down and hoisted Derin up by his collar, pulling him to full height and pushing him against the wall. Derin's breathing was ragged and rapid, still trying to recover from when Aaron had knocked the wind out of him. For a moment, he held Aaron's stare with a glassy-eyed return, then attempted to headbutt Aaron. Aaron was too accustomed to such retalitation tactics, having fought against the Tanolian race already, and his hand shot up, pushing back on Derin's forhead.
"How did you get in?" asked Derin, his head hanging.
"The front door," replied Aaron. He turned to Sprite for a brief second.
"Sprite, see if you can find some rope in my backpack, there should be some," he instructed. Sprite obliged fluttering over to Aaron's back, and lifting open the flap to his pack. "You'll regret messing with Hyrule," Aaron warned Derin as they waited.
"Hah," snorted Derin, although weakly. His first struggle with Aaron that night had worn him out, he had no strength left to fight.
"What do you have against Link anyway? He's one of your own tribesmen, and you treat him and his wife like this? He has two kids you know, did you ever give a thought to that?" continued Aaron. Derin lifted his head.
"So, that bugger has already spread his seed has he?" he asked, distastefully.
"His children are a thousand times more noble than you could ever dream of, even at their young age," defended Aaron.
"A nobleman yourself, huh?" sneered Derin.
"No. I meant in the sense of the word, noble as in good," replied Aaron. Sprite managed to throw the rope from Aaron's pack onto his shoulder. He quickly snatched it and bonded Derin's wrists quickly and deftly. He dropped the rest of the rope to the ground, and stared at Derin. "You could face death for this, and that's from your own queen," he threatened. Derin laughed again. "You really don't have much to laugh at," snarled Aaron.
"Don't I? Why, what about your misguided views for a start?" began Derin.
"You'll regret ever hurting Link, you big bully!" squeaked Sprite angrily. Derin glanced across at her, apparently noticing her for the first time.
"So you escaped did you? Damn faerie," snarled Derin. Aaron pushed Derin to the floor. He kneeled down beside him, beginning to tie Derin's feet together with the piece of spare rope that hung from Derin's wrists. He cut the remaining rope with a knife in his belt, slipping the spare length through his belt. He checked over the bonds, until he was satisified then again met a glance with Derin.
"Aden will be back soon, he has more strength saved than I, don't expect such an easy fight," said Derin fiercely.
"Thanks for the advice," said Aaron, getting up. "Sprite, go watch for Aden when he returns, I'm going to go and help out Link and the Princess," said Aaron. Sprite readily agreed, fleeing from the room. Aaron opened the exposed trapdoor to the cellar, then grabbing a lantern, standing on a nearby unit, he began to descend.
"Link! Princess!" called Aaron as he fiddled with the lock on the cell door. Neither of them stirred. He hoped they were okay. He angrily pounded the lock against the cell door, willing it to snap open. Although it was obviously very old, it was stubbornly strong. Aaron grabbed his knife from his belt and began to pry inside the lock with it. After a few patient minutes of work, the lock snapped, and fell from the door. Aaron yanked open the cell door and rushed in, kneeling to shake the two awake. Zelda woke first, and when she saw Aaron, she smiled with joy. He hugged her, and pulled her to her feet. She began to help him awaken Link, who soon came, around, bleary eyed, and shocked. He soon recovered though, giving Aaron enough time to fill the two in on the situation. After he had finished, he turned seriously to the two. "Look, it may be best if you both stick around here for a while, at least until we get that other guy out of the way," advised Aaron.
"I hate to agree, but I'd probably be less help up there and more of a hindrance," admitted Link, feeling useless.
"Well I'm staying with Link," said Zelda resolutely. Aaron slipped off his pack, dumping it on the rickety table that was planted in the middle of the cellar.
"There's some food and stuff in there, so eat up, get back your strength. We might have to make a run back to the ship," said Aaron. Link nodded.
"If you're in trouble, yell," said Link, sitting at the table. He was exhausted, and his body filled with agonising cramps. Aaron nodded.
"I'll see you in a bit," he said. He left the lantern down there, then quickly returned to the kitchen. Derin was sitting smugly in the corner. He apparently hadn't moved. Aaron didn't like it. He moved across the room, examining the bonds again, and satisfied that they were tight, he quickly patted Derin's pockets. In one, he found a small, sharp pen knife. Aaron took it. Derin's face fell when he saw Aaron's discovery.
"Bastard," he muttered under his breath bitterly. Aaron chose to ignore the comment. He called for Sprite, who quickly appeared.
"Is he coming?" asked Aaron.
"Not seen him, but we'd best be careful," the faerie replied. Aaron drew his sword, heeding Derin's words seriously. He wasn't sure on Aden's strength, but there was no way he was taking any risks, especially not when two of the most important people in Hyrule's lives were on the line, not to mention his own.
Zelda handed Link a bread roll and a thin sliver of meat.
"Come on, eat up," she urged, glancing nervously up at the stairs. Link took it, and bit into it gratefully. It was simple, but tasted simply delicious, after the food he'd been given by Aden. Zelda noticed a pack in the corner, and picked it up. "This looks like yours, seems intact," she murmured.
"My sword..." Link began, suddenly remembering.
"Don't worry about that," Zelda said, handing over the pack. Link shoved it on his back.
"But..." he began.
"You can get another," Zelda said sensibly. Link frowned.
"No way! I've had that sword since I was fourteen," he said, beginning to hunt around the room frantically.
"Maybe it will be upstairs," Zelda replied, folding her arms. Link finished off the rest of the bread, then started rooting in his pack. He pulled out a fresh shirt, trousers and tunic.
"There's no time to change!" Zelda said, still looking at the stairs.
"But Zel, I feel awful," Link complained.
"Later! We have to go!" Zelda replied firmly, taking him by the arm, and shoving the items into the pack. Leaning forward, she quickly kissed him on the lips. "We're going to escape this place, don't worry. And when we get home..." she murmured, kissing him again, this time more fully. She stepped back, her hands on his shoulders. "I took one of my father's ships to get here, it should still be there waiting at the port. Once we get away from here, we'll take the horses and ride to the coast," she said. Link nodded, and stepped forward, almost collapsing into her arms.
"Thank the goddesses that you came, Zel," he said softly, his voice low with emotion.
"There's time for more of that later," Zelda smiled. "D'you think you can manage the stairs?" she added. Link nodded.
"I hope so," he said, looking towards them.
"If only Selina were here... I'm no healer," Zelda sighed.
"I'll be fine, don't worry. I've been fine so far, haven't I?" Link said, grinning at her. The princess was not reassured. She could tell that the hero was very obviously in great pain. She took the pack from him, and slung it over her shoulder.
"Come on, we'd best get going," she stated, wishing they were already out of the hell hole.
"Why are we leaving, mother?" Fayzie's young son moaned, as she frantically packed as many of their belongings as possible.
"We're... we're just going away for a while, we'll come back," Fayzie lied.
"But what about father?" young Aden questioned. Fayzie pulled the straps tight on her backpack.
"He... he needs some time alone," Fayzie said. She couldn't really explain the situation any better, and time was running out. She dragged him out of the room, and into the hallway.
"All ready?" asked Aaron, looking nervous. Fayzie nodded. Aaron walked into the kitchen, seeing Link and Zelda slowly coming up the cellar steps. "Come on, we've no time to waste!" he said, reaching down with his hand to help.
"We know, we know," Zelda muttered, giving Link one final push. He reached the top, and collapsed onto the floor. Aaron eyed him worriedly, then glanced over at Zelda. The princess returned his worried expression with one of her own, then she spotted a sword lying in one corner of the room. "Here's your sword," she said, picking it up. Aaron helped Link to stand.
"Sprite found our horses, don't know where Carefree is, though," he said.
"I guess he ran off when I was attacked down at the port," Link replied, looking thoughtful.
"He can't have got too far," Zelda said. Link shook his head.
"He'll be waiting for me," he remarked confidently.
"Don't count on it," Derin smirked. Link's expression turned to a grimace when he heard Derin speak.
"Don't worry, he's all tied up," Aaron said quietly.
"Aden'll get you," Derin said confidently. Zelda spun round to face him, holding Link's sword in front of her in a threatening gesture.
"You'll shut up, if you know what's good for you," she stated imperiously. Derin just laughed.
"Spoken like a true Princess!" he exclaimed in mock admiration.
"I mean it!" she said angrily, the tip of the sword only inches from the man's throat.
"Go on, do it. Kill me," Derin leered. Zelda narrowed her eyes, her lips in an offended pout.
"You deserve it!" she muttered darkly.
"Well go ahead," Derin dared. Zelda felt a hand on her arm, and it gently took the sword away from her.
"Ignore him," Aaron said, steering her away. Zelda wrenched Aaron's hand away.
"Get off me!" she said angrily, whirling back to face Derin once more.
"Zel..." Link began. The princess pointedly ignore him.
"Seline shall hear of your treachery!" she stated coldly, still glaring icily at Derin. He suddenly stopped grinning.
"I'll be long gone by then," he finally said.
"Well, I'll damn well make sure she has every possible resource out looking for you!" Zelda shot back. Aaron suddenly pulled her back, rather harshly.
"Control yourself!" he hissed. Zelda glared at him, but did as she was told. "Let's go," Aaron finally said quietly, leading both the Princess and the hero out of the house.
Aaron jumped up onto Jet, Fayzie and Aden junior behind him. Link got onto Moonmist behind Zelda, and they rode out of the town as quickly as they could. The night sky was dark, the stars hardly peeping through the heavy clouds.
"Looks like rain," Zelda murmured, unable to believe their continuing bad luck. If it became a storm, they'd never be able to navigate the ship safely back to the shores of Hyrule. The wind was beginning to pick up speed, too.
"Let's hope we don't run into Aden, either," Link muttered in reply, holding onto her tightly, as they rode quickly down the hill. Moonmist and Jet were galloping at a terrific pace.
"No. I should surely want to kill him," Zelda said. Link remained silent. He'd never heard Zelda talk in that manner, not even about Ganondorf, or some of their other oppressors from the past. As she slowed the horse down a little, he gently caressed her shoulder.
"Don't talk like that," he said, hoping to calm her down.
"What's the matter?" Zelda questioned.
"We don't want revenge, not like that," he replied.
"They were going to kill us!" Zelda protested angrily.
"That doesn't mean we kill them in return!" Link answered, horrified at Zelda's current insinuations.
"Everyone has a dark side Link, even me," Zelda replied, her tone almost flippant.
"I know..." Link said quietly, his voice muffled slightly by the wind.
"I'll not let them get away with this, that's for sure!" Zelda said loudly, her voice raised passionately.
"Let Seline deal out the punishment, don't do something you'll live to regret. Royalty or no royalty, you can't kill in cold blood," Link argued.
"You have!" Zelda replied. Link swallowed.
"Only when it was really necessary," he said.
"You murdered Trenon," Zelda stated.
"He killed my brother, and he tried to kill you," Link reasoned.
"And Aden was going to kill you," Zelda said promptly.
"It's different! Trenon was evil, and you know it. Aden and Derin are just bitter. And... and they're my kin. Zel, if we see Aden, you'll stay away from him. Promise me," Link begged.
"I'm so angry right now, I don't know what I'd do," Zelda answered.
"He's much stronger than you, he'll hurt you more than you'll hurt him. I won't let you go near him, Zelda," Link retorted, beginning to grow angry.
"Fine," Zelda relented. "But, I don't care if you even are related in any way, I'll be ensuring that they get the punishment that they deserve!"
"Fine," Link agreed.
"And if Seline isn't harsh enough, I'll make sure my father is!" Zelda added.
"Slow down!" Aaron called, pulling Jet to a halt. The low cliffs of the Catalian shore were finally in sight.
The group dismounted from their horses. "I'll go on ahead, make sure Aden's not hanging about," Aaron said.
"I'm going with you," Zelda immediately stated.
"No you're not," Link retorted promptly.
"Nice try Link, but not even you can stop me from doing what I want," Zelda replied, stepping forward.
"That's true," he sighed. "But it's not what I want you to do."
"Me either," Aaron added.
"You can't..." Zelda began.
"Fine, Zelda! Well come on, we'd better get on going," Aaron interrupted, giving the Princess an angry glare. She simply glared back, and proceeded to stalk off into the darkness. Aaron turned over to look at Link, who simply shrugged.
"She's upset," he said.
"And in no state of mind to look after herself or think straight," Aaron answered sensibly.
"Well, she won't listen to me, so what am I supposed to do?" Link argued.
"Wait here. I'll go after Zelda, and keep her close to me. We'll head for the boat," Aaron said.
"And we just have to stay here, until you get back?" Fayzie asked shyly. Aaron glanced around.
"Wait by those trees," he finally decided, pointing to a small copse a few yards away. "We'll be back soon," he added, before disappearing after Zelda down the hill. Link swallowed uneasily, and then led Moonmist under the trees.
"She's very..." Fayzie began.
"I know," Link replied, before Fayzie could finish.
"But brave, too," Fayzie added, her tone turning admiring.
"Sometimes too brave," Link remarked. He sighed again, then turned back to his friend. "We'll get you safely away from this place, I promise," he said. Fayzie looked down at the ground.
"He'll probably come looking eventually," she replied quietly.
"Is this really what you want?" Link questioned. The young woman nodded, her dark hair falling across her face.
"I've always known that Aden had a bad temper, but ever since you arrived, he really showed me his true colours. He...." she trailed off there, her lower lip trembling, and tears brimming in her eyes. Link pulled her close into a hug.
"I'm sorry," he said. Fayzie pushed him away.
"I'm fine," she said. She walked over to where her young son was sitting, and sat down next to him. Link walked out from under the shelter of the trees. A sudden crack of thunder sounded.
"Oh great," he muttered, running a hand through his matted hair. Putting his fingers to his lips, he made a high pitched whistling sound, calling his horse, Carefree. More thunder rumbled in the distance, yet not a drop of rain had begun to fall yet. Link listened intently beyond the onimous thunder for the sound of galloping hooves. "Come on boy," he said to himself, still listening. Carefree had been his loyal mount for many years, and if Link lost him here, it would be an added blow. He whistled again, then headed back to the trees, feeling even more morose.
Zelda screamed as she felt someone grab her by the shoulder. "It's only me," Aaron hissed, pulling her next to him.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?!" Zelda questioned angrily, her eyes narrowed.
"I'm sorry, but I couldn't let you go out here alone," Aaron said.
"You're way out of line, Aaron Westley!" Zelda cried.
"And you're acting way stupid!" Aaron retorted. Zelda folded her arms, and pouted.
"I'm only trying to help," she finally said. Aaron placed a hand on her shoulder.
"I know. Now, why don't you calm down, try not to be so jumpy, and let's check this place out together, huh?" he suggested. Zelda nodded.
"Okay," she said quietly. She glanced around warily, still on edge.
"Zelda?" Aaron asked.
"What?" Zelda questioned.
"Are you okay?" he said, looking concerned. The princess looked down at the ground, and kicked the dirt there.
"I'm fine," she replied, thinking about what had happened back in Hyrule. She'd thought that by coming to Catalia, she'd escape the nightmare that had been happening, but since they'd arrived in here, things had gotten progressively worse.
"Are you sure?" Aaron pressed.
"I'm sure," Zelda said stoically.
"Alright. Well, let's keep close," Aaron said, taking hold of her arm. "I don't want you to get hurt, and neither does Link," he added.
"I know," Zelda replied, her voice barely above a whisper. The pair walked down the rocky path carefully, and five minutes later they found themselves upon soft sand.
"Let's be careful, Aden might still be around," Aaron said quietly. They looked down the beach, but saw no-one. Suddenly, a great flash of forked lightening lit up the entire sky. Instinctively, Aaron dove down into the sand, pulling Zelda with him. He didn't want Aden to see them, exposed like that, if he was indeed, still down at the beach. Zelda made muffled offended noises, but he ignored her. "Stay low," he muttered. Aaron was a good soldier. The Great War a few months back had sharpened his reflexes even moreso. Warily, he scanned the area, but it looked like it was deserted. It was almost a clean sweep along the stretch of sand, with hardly any large rocks or boulders that might possibly conceal someone. It was very different to most of the Hyrulian beaches, that were extremely rocky, or pebbly, at best. Aaron had purposely taken a skirting route, that would allow them to find Aden, if he was still about. He had also been afraid to head straight to the port, in case Aden was waiting there. Aaron couldn't imagine why he would be, but it was still a possibility, however remote. Slowly, he rose, helping Zelda up.
"You made me get covered in sand!" Zelda moaned.
"I'd say that's the least of your worries right now, Princess," Aaron replied. Zelda simply pouted, and proceeded to wipe down her clothes. Aaron placed a hand on the hilt of his sword, and walked down the beach, heading in the direction of the port, which if he remembered rightly, was behind an outstretch of cliff which lay ahead of them.
Ten minutes later, they made their way around the outstretched cliff, wading through the waist deep turbulent waves, then back onto the sand on the other side. The wooden jetty jutted out at the lowest end of the cliff, the waves crashing viciously around the base. Although it was dark, Aaron's blood had run cold. Their boat was not there. Zelda too, stood frozen.
"No..." she whispered.
"Maybe... maybe we moored it further up," Aaron said, although he knew they'd moored it right on this very pier. There was another loud crack of thunder, and finally, large droplets of rain began to fall, soaking the two through to the skin.
"Aden must've untied it," Zelda said.
"We don't know that," Aaron said, rushing forward. Zelda followed him quickly. She was beginning to shiver, and it wasn't just because of the rain. Running up the roughly hewn steps, she found Aaron stood at the top, head in his hands. "It's gone," he said mournfully. "Gone..." Zelda gazed around, and saw broken pieces of wood everywhere. Walking to the side of the jetty, she saw the small boat that they'd sailed in, the property of her father, partially submerged in the violent waves below. There was certainly no hope of salvaging it. "The storm did not do that," Aaron said, suddenly looking angry.
"Aden," they said together.
"That means..." Zelda began.
"He must have thought there was a chance we might escape," Aaron interrupted.
"Yes. He thought perhaps you'd try to come back here," Zelda said.
"Damn it! Damn that rotten, Catalian bastard!" Aaron said angrily, his eyes flashing. Zelda stepped back, her hair whipping out behind her in the wind.
"He'll pay!" she stated vehemently, her words almost muffled by the strong winds that blew about the pier.
"Too right he will!" Aaron added. Zelda turned back to gaze down at the ruined boat.
"We have to get out of here, now!" she said seriously.
"But where can we go? That jerk will surely come looking for us, we'll not be safe anywhere," Aaron replied.
"Opela," Zelda said.
"Where?" Aaron questioned.
"Opela. The capital city of Catalia," Zelda explained.
"And what makes you think we'll be safe there?" Aaron asked.
"Queen Seline will give us the safety we need," Zelda replied confidently. She leaned closer to Aaron. "She had rather a fancy for my father in their younger days, I'll wager."
"And that makes you think she'll protect us?" Aaron asked, looking incredulous.
"That, and the fact that Catalia is our sister country!" Zelda replied.
"And just how far is Opela from here?" Aaron questioned.
"Uhh.... I don't know. Maybe twenty or thirty miles, perhaps forty. It's been a while since we last visited," Zelda replied.
"That's a good few days walk, we'd never make it," Aaron said.
"We'll have to," Zelda said darkly. Aaron looked down at the ground, and then back at the smashed remains of the boat.
"We'll have to..." he repeated quietly...
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