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.
Juliet A. Singleton (Scullys@bigfoot.com) & Kirsty Singleton (Indigo_Spacen@mail.com)
The next morning, when Zelda awoke, maids were already in the room, opening the curtains and dusting the furniture. A little surprised at the early morning invasion, Zelda stood and politely asked them to leave while she dressed. She pulled Link up, kissing him gently, trying to rouse him.
"Link," she murmured, pulling on her travelling clothes. They were a far throw from the clothes she had been accustomed to, but they held with them the familiarity of Zelda's younger days when all she had been concerned with was adventure and to evade Link's affections. Link let out a loud yawn and rolled back over, but Zelda persisted in awakening him. "Come on lazy," she said, a little louder.
"Zel..." murmured Link in a childish whine. Zelda smiled, whipping the covers from around her husband, making him hug himself to try and keep warm. He opened one eye and glanced over at his wife. "This early?" he questioned.
"The quicker we leave this place..." began Zelda. Link nodded and yawned again, sitting up. Zelda sat down next to him. He observed her, a lazy grin forming.
"Ooh, you look all sexy in your adventure gear," he teased, kissing her.
"Link!" protested Zelda with a giggle.
"You know, I fell in love with you in those clothes," reminisced Link. He kissed her again, taking her into his arms and pulling her back onto the bed.
"These clothes? They're a mess!" laughed Zelda.
"Just how I like you," grinned Link, running his hands through Zelda's hair.
"You don't like me all neat and tidy?" she questioned.
"That too, but I like you in a mess as well," replied Link after some consideration. He leaned in to kiss her again, but Zelda pushed him away,
"You have to get dressed, we need to go as soon as possible," reminded Zelda getting up. She took a comb from the fireplace mantle and began to brush her hair straight. Link pulled off his night clothes, and grabbed his shirt, when Zelda turned and saw him. When she saw the dark bruises that were scattered across his chest and back, her happy mood crashed down, and she walked over to him. Link noticed her expression, and quickly hid the marks under his shirt.
"Zel, don't worry about it," he consoled. She sat next to him.
"Link what did they do to you?" she asked, tears shimmering in her eyes.
"Nothing, nothing I haven't endured before," assured Link. Zelda didn't believe him. They had beaten him black and blue, he had been unable to defend himself, or perhaps he hadn't even tried. She kissed him on the forehead.
"Link, get a few more minutes sleep maybe. I have something to do," whispered Zelda. Link was tempted to make a joke of the situation, but reminded of what he had just been through, he didn't feel he had it in him. He smiled, and kissed her back.
"Okay," he murmured, before lying on his side and grabbing the covers, draping them around himself. Zelda stood and walked out of the room, found the nearest guard, and commanded they take her to Seline at once.
"I didn't think I'd be seeing you again," murmured Seline, taking a sip of tea. She was seated before Zelda, already dressed as if she had been up for hours. The dress she wore was beautiful, a cream colour, with intricate white lined patterns covering the bodice and sides of the skirt. It also looked very uncomfortable and impractical, but then Zelda had already held that opinion for most dresses.
"I loved you like a mother once Seline, why are you being so cold? I heard about your heir, he's Kokiri isn't he?" questioned Zelda. Seline looked at the liquid in her cup, her blue eyes turning back to Zelda.
"What if Robert is a Kokiri? I believe your husband is," said Seline.
"My husband has been beaten within an inch of his life by those who call themselves a Kokiri! I want to know what you're going to do about it! I want them punished!" said Zelda, a little angered by Seline's casual attitude.
"And they will be, accordingly. But it wasn't the whole tribe, and Robert has informed me that both men have wives and one has a child to support too," said Seline coolly.
"Not anymore! Fayzie is one of those men's wife. The child is hers and his," said Zelda.
"Well no matter, I'm sure the situation will be dealt with," commented Seline.
"A situation like this could break the sister ship of these countries!" exclaimed Zelda angrily. "Once my father finds out what has gone on, he will be most displeased."
"Hyrule is no sister country of Catalia. There is only ever one country which has ever bothered to come to our aid and that was Dalsona, ruled by a man who has more wealth invested in his palace alone than this whole country has invested in the coffers and purses of every man, woman and child in Catalia," said Seline, sounding bitter.
"Don't you dare question Nick's intentions, or my fathers for that matter. Hyrule, in case you didn't notice has just been involved in a war, we have no spare resources to send to Catalia," retorted Zelda. Seline sniffed slightly.
"There is a boat ready in Opela port, Robert will escort you there, and across the waters," said Seline.
"Don't change the subject Seline. I'm grateful, I really am, but your treatment has been less than favourable," said Zelda, standing.
"You always had the selfishness of your father in you. And the stubbornness of your mother," remarked Seline.
"Don't you dare insult my parents like that, or myself. And by the way, if you question Nick's generosity, perhaps you for one should start cutting the cost of your own clothing," muttered Zelda angrily before stalking from the room, furious by the Queen's non- complacent attitude.
Kaibre awoke, feeling light headed and achy. He tried to sit up, but he heard someone hushing, and placing a hand on his forehead, easing him back down.
"Oh God," he muttered as he flinced in pain.
"Take it easy," murmured a soft voice. He swallowed, an uneasy task in itself, and his eyes turned to his bedside aide. He didn't recognise her at first, but slowly his vision cleared, and he coughed in surprise. "Do you need a drink?" asked Selina, filling a glass with water from a jug beside the bed. Kaibre waved away the offer, and tried to sit up again. "Come on now, you've been badly wounded, and poisoned, you can't wear yourself out so quickly," reprimanded Selina, yet in a gentle and tactful tone. Kaibre let out a defeated sigh and nodded.
"How long...?" he began, his voice hoarse.
"You aren't as bad as we thought you might be, the poison your veins were infected with could have been, and perhaps should have been, lethal," explained Selina. It still wasn't an hour. He looked at her imploringly. "A little over 36 hours, perhaps more," answered Selina finally. Kaibre shook his head. He could remember something happening, but what it was, he couldn't muster.
"I can't...remember anything," admitted Kaibre, touching his temples with his hand.
"You can't? I suppose it's to be expected," said Selina, mopping his face with a damp cloth.
"What did...?" began Kaibre, coughing.
"Someone attacked you," began Selina. Kaibre sat bolt right up. He turned to Selina, shaking his head.
"Ewan," he said sharply. He shook his head again, covering his face with his hands.
"You were already poisoned, it's amazing you lasted so long with that vial liquid in you," said Selina. Kaibre looked at Selina again, a look of determination across his features.
"Mara, that witch," he spat, tossing the blankets aside.
"Kaibre, you need to rest, you are still weak!" exclaimed Selina, as he rose from the bed.
"I would rather be weak and doing something, rather than being weak and doing nothing," he told Selina, taking his shirt and pulling it on, his tunic over the top.
"I can see there will be no arguing with you, but we already suspected Mara of being hand in hand with the disappearance of Ewan. Every knight in the kingdom is out looking for him...and her," Selina told him. He turned to her.
"I can't believe this happened," he murmured, shaking his head.
"You can't blame yourself," assured Selina.
"I can, you don't know how much," muttered Kaibre. He had failed to protect Ewan, like he had failed to protect his own family. "I've never felt so useless, not since..." he continued, but his voice trailed of there. Selina looked at him with concern. "I never wanted to feel this useless again," he added, running one hand through his hair.
"You weren't useless, no one could have stopped her or known," comforted to Selina.
"She thought she would kill me, she knew things...not that it matters. Where would she take the boy?" mused Kaibre desperately.
"The whole of Hyrule is being scoured," promised Selina, standing. Kaibre turned to Selina.
"I forgot to thank you," he said politely, bowing.
"There's no need," assured the Queen.
"You saved my life, there's every need," retorted Kaibre.
"Maybe now that you know Ewan is being searched for, I can convince you to get some more rest," suggested Selina hopefully. Kaibre shook his head.
"I'm afraid not. Only when I know that he is safe, will I be able to rest easy again," said Kaibre softly, before turning on his heel and leaving the room.
"Kaibre!" called Selina, a little surprised at his exit. Despite her being the Queen of the richest, most powerful country in the world, he ignored her, and she didn't blame him.
Kaibre walked out of the room, only to meet Drake, who had actually been coming to check up on his friend.
"Kaibre, you're up and about!" exclaimed Drake, looking relieved.
"Yes, indeed. I see you already found out who did it," said Kaibre.
"Mara?" asked Drake. He didn't want to believe it himself, not after how close he had been to liking the girl. He had always considered himself to be a good judge of character, but he supposed that thought was nothing but a myth now.
"Yes, she took Ewan didn't she? Only God knows what she plans for the boy. She's more than a healer Drake, a witch perhaps. She wants that boy for something else other than ransom money," swore Kaibre.
"You think?" asked Drake curiously.
"What are you doing here though? I would've thought you'd be out searching," questioned Kaibre.
"Yes, I was, but I needed sleep you know," began Drake.
"What can I do to help?" asked Kaibre.
"You..? Well I'm not sure, are you fit yet?" asked Drake unsurely.
"Ewan is missing due to a stupid carelessness that I am responisble for, I have to do everything in my power to make up for that mistake," said Kaibre.
"Not if you aren't fit you won't. Go back to bed Kaibre, get some rest man, she nearly killed you!" exclaimed Drake.
"Drake, let me help! I won't rest even if I am in bed because I'll be going over in my head what I should have done to stop this," said Kaibre.
"You can't do that man! You'll go insane!" said Drake sternly.
"If I can't do something..." began Kaibre.
"What can you do? You aren't fit to go out there, you'd be a hindrance more than a help and you know it," retored Drake. He wasn't going to budge.
"If the situation was reversed, you'd be exactly the same!" accused Kaibre.
"Yeah, maybe I would, but I would expect you to make the right decision, and one that wouldn't get me killed at that," replied Drake. Kaibre sighed.
"Fine," he muttered.
"You'll know I was right in the end," said Drake. He patted his friend on the back. "But I guess you'll still hate me for it," he laughed, before walking off down the corridor. Kaibre shrugged and walked back into the healers, but not to rest. He needed to find out exactly what Mara was going to do with Ewan, and where she was going to be.
Seline wasn't present for breakfast, but instead Robert was there, seated at the head of the table.
"We will head to the port immediately after breakfast," said Robert, breaking the silence.
"Good, I don't want to stay in this damned country for another minute," said Zelda darkly. Robert looked insulted at the remark, but held his tongue.
"Zel," murmured Link. She shrugged.
"What?" she asked abruptly. Robert watched the two with interest. These were the two so much in love they had defied fate to marry one another? He wasn't sure if he had the right people. Aaron, Fayzie and Aden all remained silent, just eating their breakfast of fruit and pastries with minimum fuss. Link shook his head, and continued to eat.
"I want them both punished you understand," said Zelda pointedly, turning to Robert.
"I assume you're talking about Aden and Derin," guessed Robert.
"Yes. Make sure Seline knows that, Aden and Derin of Gardarika town. If I had my way, I'd have them both put to death at once!" said Zelda. Link caught hold of his wife's hand.
"Zelda," he said, looking slightly troubled. Zelda realised that the small boy, Aden Junior, was staring at her.
"Mother? What has father done?" asked Aden, looking to Fayzie.
"Unforgivable things," murmured Fayzie, turning to look at Robert. Robert averted his eyes, not meeting her stare.
"I...I don't understand, do you mean when he..." began Aden, realising they were not alone. He fell silent again.
"Robert, her highness is right. Derin and...they tortured Link. They wanted him dead, they wanted his wife dead, they even talked of killing his children. It's not right, it's evil," said Fayzie quietly. Robert let out a sigh.
"I am sure that the Queen will deal with them as she sees fit," said Robert, sounding rather aloof. Zelda finished her meal.
"Oh I'm sure you will," she remarked a little snidely. He turned to Zelda.
"I don't really think that you are in the position to question your host's intentions. Some may even call your attitude in such a situation unwise," he said coolly, deliberately.
"Is that a threat?" demanded Zelda.
"No. Think of it as a piece of advice," said Robert, his eyes piercing Zelda's own like steel through skin. The rest of them finished their meal in silence, before Robert stood, and led them from the room.
Opela was a busy place, and it was apparent Robert's importance was known. However, Link, Zelda and the rest went relatively unknown, and he led them through the white streets to the port, which housed many a fine merchant ship, along with many not so fine crafts. Theirs was a craft of such quality of the latter, it looked old, and almost unseaworthy. Zelda was reluctant to board, but Link eventually convinced her, reminding her it was their only way home for now. She finally agreed, and Robert took them on board, leading them down to the place that would be their home for the next day and night. Zela wasn't ahppy about the accomadation, it consisted of a crew's quarters and a captain's cabin that Robert assured was his. She sat sulkily on one of the bottom bunks, whilst both Link and Aaron remained on deck, along with Aden and Robert. Fayzie was the princess' only company, and neither of them felt entirely sociable.
"I'm sorry about what I said at breakfast," apologised Zelda, looking down at the bare, wooden floor.
"I don't blame you for saying it, it's just I don't think Aden needed to hear about his father," said Fayzie. She, too, was lying on a bottom bunk, situated across the room from Zelda.
"You're right. I'm truly sorry," said Zelda, also lying down.
"It's okay. He already knows what kind of a man his father is," said Fayzie. Zelda glanced across to the pretty Kokiri, tracing a sound of upset in her voice.
"You'll be okay in Hyrule. Both me and Link will make sure of that," promised Zelda, trying to comfort the woman in some way.
"Thank you, your kindness means a lot to me," said Fayzie, somewhat shyly.
"As did your kindness to Link," replied Zelda. A soft smile went across Fayzie's face.
"I had to help him, how could I not?" she said. "Link had always been my friend when was younger, I'd still like to think that now...even after all this time," murmured Fayzie.
"And he is, how could he not?" said Zelda. Fayzie turned to face Zelda.
"I never really believed all those things Kylara said about Link and her," confided the Kokiri.
"But Kylara apparently did," said Zelda dryly.
"We were all left emotionally scarred by that attack, all of us lost someone we loved, a family member, a friend. It was horrible, some of us never learned to forget, and Kylara, well she tried to forget in her own little way... becoming obsessed with marrying Link was her way I suppose, although how she knew that Link was still alive was beyond me, and the rest of us. When she heard of the hero in Hyrule, whose name was Link, she was convinced it was him, our Link. She began to tell us of all these things, like what hers and Link's child would do for our tribe, country... some of us took her more seriously than others I suppose. When she killed herself, Aden become intolerable, always talking of revenge. He always did have a soft spot for Kylara I suppose, as did the rest of the men in the tribe. Except, of course, Link, who was the one man she wanted to marry," explained Fayzie.
"It must have been terrible, to live through something like that. Link never talks about it, but I don't blame him," acknowledged Zelda sympathetically.
"I'm just glad that I'm alive, it was a miracle how any of us survived. So many of us lost our parents in the raid, it was lucky that the people of Gadarika were so accommodating," said Fayzie.
"Did your parents...?" began Zelda, stopping short of the word.
"They both did. I was only twelve, but I thought I was so independent for my age. I wasn't, it took me years to finally realise they were gone. I get so envious of those who complain about how over bearing their parents are, or how annoying... if only they knew what it was like to be without them. My parents were forever scolding me for leaving the village and exploring the woods that surrounded it, they cared, but I never realised at the time. I still miss them now, even though they've been gone for fifteen years," said Fayzie sadly.
"It never goes away, when you lose someone like that," said Zelda, her tone morose. Fayzie glanced over to Zelda.
"You lost someone too?" she asked.
"My mother, I was only six at the time so I never really got to know her. But I still had my father at least," replied Zelda.
"I suppose I at least got to know my parents. I never want my own child to go through what I went through...losing his parents, but I suppose I've already started the process. If anything were to happen to me, Aden would have no-one," said Fayzie.
"Fayzie, you had to do what you did. You know that. And nothing is going to happen to you either, you'll both be safe at North Castle," assured Zelda.
"I hope so," murmured Fayzie.
Link watched as the ship sailed away from the coast of Catalia, but he felt not one ounce of remorse at leaving it behind him. He never again wanted to set foot on his birth country's soil ever again. He was leaning on the rail of the ship, and he heard the creak of wood as someone came to join him. He turned to see Robert, whose dark hair was ruffled slightly by the sea breeze, his eye's as green as ever. Robert leaned on the rail also, looking back as his homeland. Link shifted slightly, uncomfortable at his presence.
"I never really knew much about you Link, save for what Kylara told me. I admire you for what you have done for Hyrule, but did it never cross your mind that perhaps Catalia needed a hero as much?" questioned Robert. Link turned to the man, frowning.
"Perhaps I thought it could manage just fine on its own," said Link. He brushed his hair from his eyes and turned, looking at the ship structure instead.
"Barely," murmured Robert, still maintaining his position of staring out to sea.
"I'm not that kind of hero anyway. I'm Hyrule's destined hero, the only one who can kill the country's primary nemesis," said Link.
"I see you still haven't succeeded," said Robert, his tone somewhat smug.
"No, not yet, but he's captured, and I doubt he'll ever escape," retorted Link. Robert let out a short sigh.
"This is stupid," he declared. Link glanced at him warily.
"What is?" he asked.
"Us, arguing," answered the young heir.
"You started it," replied Link. Robert turned to him.
"Then I apologise," said Robert. Link let out a sigh. Robert offered his hand. Link took it, and shook it.
"Fine," he said shortly.
"I still believe that what you did was wrong, but perhaps things won't be as bad as Kylara foresaw," said Robert. He gave Link a quick smile, and Link shrugged.
"I love Zelda, I loved her then, I love her now. Nothing will ever change that," said Link solemnly.
"I can appreciate that, but, well, let's not get into this now," said Robert. Link shrugged.
"Have you ever been in love?" he asked. Robert glanced to the deck.
"No...no I can't say that I have," he finally replied. There had been a long pause.
"Pity, 'cos then maybe you'd understand why I chose Zelda over Kylara," said Link. He was feeling a little better now that he was away from Catalia, and Aden and Derin and the rest of those people who seemed to hate him.
"Perhaps," agreed Robert.
Zelda awoke with a start, not realising that she had dozed off. She ran one hand through her hair and propped herself up on her elbows, wiping her bleary eyes. She glanced across the room to the bunk where Fayzie was, the Kokiri woman was apparently awake, reading an old, leather bound book.
"I didn't realise I'd gone to sleep," admitted Zelda. Fayzie turned to her with a smile.
"You must be tired, what with your journey from Hyrule right through to Opela. I'm not surprised you fell asleep," said Fayzie with a laugh.
"But surely you must be tired too, we all are," said Zelda.
"Maybe I am tired, but I can't seem to get to sleep. I've never been on a boat before, I guess I'm not used to the motion of it," said Fayzie.
"Well, at least you don't feel sick. I remember the first time I went on a boat, I was about five I think, I'd never felt so ill in my entire life!" exclaimed Zelda, laughing also.
"You poor thing, that must have been terrible for you," said Fayzie with a smile.
"I got over it eventually," replied Zelda lightly. She got up off her bed and stretched with a yawn. "I'm going to explore this ship a bit more, do you want to come?" asked Zelda. Fayzie shook her head.
"I don't know what I'll be like on my feet. I'm best off staying here and trying to get some sleep," declined Fayzie. Zelda shrugged and nodded.
"Okay then, I'll see you in a bit," she said. She quickly left the cabin and climbed up the grimy ladder that served as the only way up to the deck. Feeling a lot better after her sleep, she noticed Link standing by the side of the ship, talking with Robert. She walked over.
"Hi," she said, smiling at the two of them.
"Greetings," said Robert politely, bowing slightly, Link instead took her hand and kissed it.
"Where's Fayzie?" he asked.
"She wanted to try and get some sleep...she isn't really used to the motion of it, she said," replied Zelda, giving Link a peck on the cheek.
"Robert was just telling me of his exploits in Catalia. Apparently I'm not the only hero to originate from the Kokiri tribe," said Link. Zelda smiled. So these two were getting on, it made a change, one that Zelda was thankful for.
"Hang on," she realised, and smiled at Robert.
"Robert, of course! My father has mentioned you, you're Catalia's finest general aren't you?" she recalled. At the time it hadn't registered, but now Zelda knew she must be right. That was why he was to be Catalia's next ruler. It was the same with Drake, if Zelda had not been around, the good knight would have surely been appointed heir.
"Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say finest, but I am one of the appointed generals," admitted Robert.
"I see you're as modest as Link," observed Zelda.
"Me modest? Wherever did you get that idea from?!" exclaimed Link in surprise, kissing the top of his wife's head. Robert watched them thoughtfully, smiling a little. He was seeing a very different couple to this morning, but he supposed their love hadn't truly conquered all. Kylara was still dead, and their love was the cause of it. He idly remembered when he had heard of her death, he'd been devastated. He had lied to Link when he said that he had never known love, for he had, he had held such a feeling for Kylara, and he had freely admitted it to her at the tender age of fifteen. Robert rarely lied, but on this occassion he simply could not bring himself to admit the truth. If Link knew, he would probably be very sympathetic, and Robert could never tolerate sympathy in any form, least of all from the man who had as good as taken Kylara from him. Of course, she had told him that he couldn't love her, because she was meant to be loved by another. Link. That hadn't stopped him still loving her, but he had left Gadarika the very day after, heading to Opela to make his fortune. He had won a post as palace guard, and within the space of nine years, he had made his way from palace guard to Catalian general. He was responsible for every man in military service, the entire army of Catalia. He was only twenty five years of age, but he had the tactical thinking and experience of a man perhaps twice his age. The Tanolian threat was still rife, they never seemed to stop coming, but since Robert had taken charge of the army, the Tanolian attacks had become less and less effective. Link may have been known as Hyrule's hero, saviour even, but in Catalia, Robert held the exact same title with his own people. Robert glanced at Link and Zelda as they leaned hand in hand of the rail of the ship, talking happily. He had wanted to kill Link when he had heard of Kylara's demise, but now, with the man stood before him, he knew it was something that he could not do, or that Kylara would want. Sighing, he decided to leave them to it, and go and check on the course of the ship. They would reach Hyrule by early morning.
Fayzie shifted uneasily in her bed, looking at the bunk above her. No matter what she did, she couldn't get to sleep. She hadn't sleep easy since they had left Gadarika in that relentless rain, and then she could see a reason why she hadn't slept. For fear of Aden and Derin creeping up on them as they slept and doing unspeakable things. She turned again. But she should be able to rest easy now, Catalia was behind them now, as was Derin and Aden. She should be able to sleep. Letting out a sigh, she suddenly paused as she heard an unusual creak. The ship creaked anyway as it sailed through the water, but this was something different. She sat up, looking around cautiously, before standing nervously and reaching for the door. As she did so a cold hand clasped around her mouth, pulling her back.
"You aren't going anywhere!" hissed a voice. Fayzie's heart plummeted in shock and despair. She knew that voice. Aden.
She tried to struggle from his grasp, trying to protest, but he held on fast.
"What's wrong?" he muttered, dragging her before him, glaring at her. Fayzie had no idea how he'd got on board, but she had a nasty feeling he wasn't alone.
"Aden, please!" she managed before he slapped her across the face. She almost fell back from the recoil, but managed to stay on her feet.
"How dare you take my son from me! You ungrateful witch! I married you when no one else would, I gave you a home, you wanted for nothing!" growled Aden furiously.
"Except maybe a little care and love," spat back Fayzie, equally irate. Aden moved to hit her again, but she ducked away. Derin stepped out from the shadows.
"Aden just leave her, she isn't worth it. Let's tie her up and get on with it," advised Derin.
"Get on with what?!" demanded Fayzie, trying to struggle from Aden's grasp. Derin began to wind a piece of rope around her, binding her wrists and feet together.
"Do you remember the Princess' ship, and what happened to it? Something pretty similar is going to happen to this ship, except this time, you'll be on it when it happens," said Aden, smiling evilly.
"So will you," reminded Fayzie, still horrified at the thought. "And your son."
"There's a life boat, enough for six people. But only three will be using it, me, Derin and my son," retorted Aden. He gagged her then pushed her under the bunk, much to her protest. Derin began to tie the loose ends of the rope that bound her to the bed. She could only reply with muffled cries as she watched them leave the room and close the door behind them.
Aaron carefully climbed below deck, before patiently waiting for Aden to join him. The young boy had complained of being a little tired, so Aaron had offered to take him below deck to join his mother. Aaron suddenly heard a creaking behind him, and he turned, just in time to see the sharp end of a sword come flying towards him. Used to the underhand tactics of the Tanolians and the Gerudo during the recent war, Aaron's reactions had become sharper than they ever had been, and he had snatched his own weapon from his belt in no time, or rather just in time to block what could have been a deadly blow. Puzzled as to his attacker could be, Aaron's confusion was soon answered when a familiar face stepped out of the shadows.
"Aden, stay up there...go and get Link, or Robert!" called Aaron hastily, swiftly blocking another blow.
"Aden!" suddenly called his father, and the boy paused above deck. Aaron glared at Aden senior, and then stepped forward to attack. The thud of the running boy could be heard above deck, and Aden senior grimaced in discontent. "Little bastard. He always was like his mother," he muttered, surprisingly skillful in his defensive manouveres against Aaron.
"Luckily for him," commented Aaron, trying to again penetrate the man's defence. Aden again blocked, and delivered his own attack, which even Aaron found trouble in stopping. He was grazed across the chest, and he staggered backwards in surprise.
"There's still two more men on this ship, even if you deal with me, you'll still be outnumbered," threatened Aaron. He felt a prick in the neck, and his heart sank as he realised Aden had not been alone in his attack.
"I don't think so, Hyrule boy. I' say you were the one who was out numbered," murmured Derin from behind him. Aaron looked to Aden, who wore a laughing gleam in his eye.
"Link could take on the both of you alone, and I do believe Robert is a man of quite accomplished skill," said Aaron, his fear not apparent despite the situation.
"Oh, I'm not so sure...Link didn't manage so well last time, and well, Robert learnt everything he knows from us," said Aden, stepping forward and disarming Aaron. Aaron felt the uncomfortable presence of a blade drop from his back, and he could hardly resist to retaliate, with Aden so close and obviously off guard. He caught the man with his foot, sending him sprawling to the ground, before he turned and grabbed hold of one side of the metal ladder, using it to swing across and kick Derin in the stomach. Before either could recover, Aaron quickly climbed the ladder, and stood on deck, just in time to meet a worried looking foursome.
"They're down there, Aden and Derin," said Aaron, breathless. Link nodded and took out his sword, descending the ladder using one hand for support.
"Careful Link!" called Zelda after him. Robert sighed and followed, Zelda turned to Aaron.
"How did they know?" she demanded. Aaron shook his head.
"Beyond me," he murmured. A sudden look of terror passed across Zelda's face.
"What if Robert is in league with them?" she suddenly whispered. Aaron's eyes widened. Although he had never considered it, it was an entirely plausible explaination.
Link looked into the gloom, swinging his sword from side to side. He looked up to Robert, who wasn't far behind him. The Catalian general jumped past the last few rungs of the lader an landed beside Link.
"Looks like our uninvited guests have decided to disappear," mused Robert. Aaron joined them. He glanced at Robert warily, then to Link.
"They recovered fast," he commented dryly. Robert exhaled, scratching his chin.
"This ship is relatively small, we'll find them sooner or later," he summarised.
"I'm going to check to see if Fayzie's okay," said Link, quickly walking to the crew quarters.
"Okay then, I'll check down this way, to the kitchen and my cabin, Aaron...take this," said Robert, handing Aaron a small knife. Aaron thanked him with a nod. Robert motioned to the ladder that led to the hull.
"You check down there," he motioned. Aaron nodded again, and began to climb down the ladder, when he paused and waited for a few minutes. Positive that Robert must be far from sight by now, he quickly and quietly followed, wondering if he would catch out the Catalian general consorting with the enemy.
Zelda paced anxiously on deck, wondering why they were taking so long. She looked down at little Aden, who looked equally worried. It had just began to rain, lightly at first, but now it was getting a little heavier. She began to wonder if her and the small boy she find shelter, but she was too nervous to leave the ladder hatch in case they might call for her help, or to warn her.
"Link?" she called out, leaning over the hatch from which the ladder protruded. She couldn't see anything in the murky darkness, nor could she hear anything. When there was no reply, her stomach added an extra knot to the already mounding pile. "Where are you?" she whispered to herself. Suddenly, she saw the ladder shaking slightly, and sighed in relief as she realised it must be Link and the rest. But when she realised it was anyone but, she took a step back in horror.
"Hello princess," greeted Aden Senior with a smile. Zelda felt the man's son squeeze her hand slightly, he also had stepped back. Aden Senior looked to his son. "Hello son." Aden Junior looked up at him, evidently wary. Aden stepped forward, brandishing his sword, waving it menacingly at Zelda.
"Don't you point that thing at me," she warned. Aden grinned at her.
"Oh of course not your Highness," he apologised mockingly. Derin appeared from behind him.
"Come on Aden, stop wasting time," he said coldly. Aden glanced at his son.
"I would've taken you with us son, but you're nothing but a little turncoat. I don't like turncoats," he sneered.
"He's your son! How can you even talk to him like that?" demanded Zelda hotly.
"I'm his father," retorted Aden simply. He turned and began to follow Derin to the side of the ship.
"Stay here," instructed Zelda to the young boy by her side, before leaving him and following the two.
Link turned from his current task of freeing Fayzie when he heard a scream. A scream he knew only to well to be that of Zelda's. He looked at Fayzie, whose eyes held a certain fear of what she couldn't even begin to think her husband was capable of. Link untied the last bond then stood.
"You'll be okay?" he asked. Fayzie nodded. Link looked above him, at the creaking ceiling, hearing thumps above deck. "If they are up there, they must have gotten past Aaron, or Robert," he concluded.
"Is my son up there?" asked Fayzie suddenly. Link slowly turned to her, nodding slowly.
"I thought they'd be safe," he replied before turning and running from the room.
"Wait Link!" cried Fayzie after him, but he had already left the room. Fayzie nervously began to leave the room also, wondering what Aden and Derin had done exactly to the ship they were all on. She hadn't seen the ruins of Zelda's ship, but she had been told by Aaron that it had been sinking when they got there, half submerged in water an pieces of it drifting all about. They must've damaged the hull somehow to make it sink, put a small hole in it perhaps. Fayzie wasn't learned on the tactics of sabotage, but that was about the only was she could think of, unless of course there was gunpowder about the ship. Neither Aden or Derin were cowards, but they weren't entirely stupid. Gunpowder would finish a ship off a lot more quickly, they couldn't have the guarantee of the time they would surely need to escape the ship. Fayzie shook her head and decided that as no-one else was about, she was going to have to check out the hull part of the ship herself.
As Fayzie left the cabin, she saw Aaron running towards her.
"Was that you who just screamed?" he asked, panting slightly. Fayzie shook her head.
"No, it was..." she began. Robert appeared just behind Aaron.
"What's going on?" he demanded, cutting off whatever Fayzie was about to say.
"Zelda's in trouble," retorted Aaron, glad that Robert hadn't realised he was being followed.
"Up there?" asked Robert, pointing with his sword.
"Link has gone up already," said Fayzie. Robert pushed past Aaron and began to climb up. Aaron looked at Fayzie for a moment, then grabbed the ladder.
"Wait," called Fayzie, and Aaron paused, looking down at her.
"I think," she started. Her sentence was cut off once more, this time by another scream, and Aaron looked up.
"I better go and help, you just stay here," said Aaron, climbing upwards once more. Fayzie watched hopelessly as she was left alone once more. She looked down into the darkness below the ladder, and carefully grabbed hold of it, slowly climbing down into the grimy, dim interior of the hull.
As soon as Link reached the top of the ladder, he spotted Zelda being edged to the rail of the ship by Aden Senior. Rain was falling quite heavily now, but it surprised Link. He had never noticed any dark clouds looming when he had been previously on deck, but now the sky was littered with the heavily darkened clouds. Aden Junior was nearby, pulling on his father's tunic, but he seemed to be having little effect. Sword already drawn, Link ran across, ready to make the man pay for everything he had put him, Zelda, Fayzie and anyone else through. Aden Senior turned to bat his son away, sending the small boy flying across the deck. Instead of turning back to Zelda though, Aden spotted Link and a grim smile passed across his face.
"Well, look who it is," he sneered. Link looked across to little Aden, who seemed to be recovering from his fall. He turned and saw Zelda who was watching him with frantic eyes.
"Link, watch out!" she cried, and Link turned just in time to see Derin advancing upon him, sword held in both hands ready to deliver what would have certainly been a fatal blow to the skull. Link side stepped the attack just in time and grabbed one of the man's arms, twisting it and throwing Derin over his shoulder and onto the deck. He let out a groan of pain and Link prised the sword from his hands and threw it far out of reach. Zelda screamed again as Aden Senior grabbed her roughly by the arm, and pushed her roughly towards the rail of the ship. Link turned, looking from his wife to Derin, and he placed his sword at the man's throat.
"Let her go free, and I'll spare your friend's life," began Link. Aden Senior just laughed through the rain, his clothes soaked.
"Do you really think I care about that pitiful man's life? Take it if you want, it makes not a blind difference to me, I'll kill this witch anyway," he told Link. Link exhaled and looked down to Derin, who looked not like a man who was fearing for his life, but a man who seemed entirely content. Suddenly Robert appeared on deck, and he surveyed the scene, trying to weigh up the situation.
"Look Aden, you don't want her, you want me," began Link, ignoring Derin and stepping forward, his feet slipping a little on the wet deck.
"Drop your sword," spat Aden. Link obeyed, his sword falling from his hand and across the deck as the ship let out a groan and tilted on the waves. Aden smiled, grinning at Robert. Link turned to see Derin getting up and retrieving his sword, without Robert doing a thing to stop him. His heart sank. Was it true that Robert was as bitter as the other two men who faced him now, and had they done away with Aaron? His long time friend had not appeared yet, and he was beginning to wonder if he would at all. "It's good to see you again Bobby!" called Aden. Robert seemed to flinch at the use of the name. Only Kylara had called him that. But the man returned an easy smile and a nod.
"Time to make the traitor pay," agreed the general. Aden nodded. He gripped Zelda a little tighter, pushing her right up against the rail. She attempted to kick him in the shins, but failed with little effect. Aden sneered and forced her neck so that she was staring directly into the hungry waves that crashed against the ship.
"Fancy a swim?" he sneered. Zelda struggled to leave his grip, but he was far stronger than she could ever have hoped to be.
"Let me go!" she demanded through gritted teeth. Aden laughed again.
"Don't think so," he muttered. Link was almost upon them now.
"Do as she says. You can have the pleasure of killing me instead," said Link boldly. Aden relaxed his grip on Zelda and turned back to look at the hero.
"After you're dead, I'm going to have to kill her anyway," said Aden, mockingly apologetic in his tone. Link looked at Zelda. He stepped closer to Aden.
"She hasn't done anything," said Link softly.
"Yeah, it's all your fault she's going to have to die," said Aden cruelly, before pushing Zelda over the rail before Link could even react. Link watched in horror as his wife went flailing over the rail, hearing her scream split open his heart.
"Why you...!" began Link in fury, diving at the armed man and pushing him hard against the rail. He peered over Aden's shoulder and into the foaming waves, but he could see nothing. "If she dies..." continued Link, wincing as Aden stabbed him cruelly in the side.
Robert and Derin watched as the two fought, and Derin stepped forward to assist his companion. Robert reached out and arm and stopped him.
"I'll help finish him off," said Robert, drawing his sword and pacing forward across the rain soaked wooden planks of the ship. He watched as Link slid down against the rail, blood swiftly pouring from the wound Aden had inflicted. He closed in on them, Derin following. Aden looked at Link and laughed.
"Not much of a hero are you?" he demanded. He reached into his pocket and dangled something before Link's eyes.
"Look, I even caught your faerie!" he sneered, Link's eyes widening as he saw Sprite desperately trying to escape from the small bottle she had been trapped in. Aden grinned then casually dropped the bottle over the side of the ship. Robert was now next to the two.
"No!" cried Link as he watched Sprite disappear over the side of the ship. He tried to get up, but Aden placed a boot at his neck.
"I could kill you right now, but I think I'd enjoy it more to watch you die slowly, don't you agree Bobby?" asked Aden. He turned to Robert with a grin, but the Kokirish general didn't return the smile. Robert grabbed Aden by the scruff of the neck and held him up high, almost choking him. He threw him into an astonished Derin, and they both fell into a crumpled heap. Robert quickly kneeled down besides Link, examining the wound in his side. He murmured a few words that Link didn't quite understand and Link gasped in astonishment as he felt the wound heal.
"Zelda," he gasped, standing and looking over the side. He suddenly saw a flash of blonde amongst the waves and he dived over board, leaving Robert to deal with a very furious Aden and Derin.
Link gasped in surprise as he hit the cool water, his body turning to ice. He swam upwards and resurfaced, gasping for air. Suddenly, a bright light appeared near him, and Link sighed in relief as he realised it was Sprite.
"How did you...?" he asked, too cold to finish the sentence.
"That bottle smashed on the side of the ship as it fell and I escaped. I thought I was a goner though! My whole life flashed before my eyes! There's so many things I haven't done!" exclaimed Sprite.
"Have you seen Zel?" asked Link frantically. Sprite nodded.
"She's okay I think, she's just drifted out a bit," said Sprite, pointing out to sea. Link managed to spot his wife an he began to swim for her, Sprite following.
When he reached her, Zelda grabbed his hand when she saw him, and Link quickly gave her a kiss, pulling her towards him in the rough water.
"Forgive me," he begged.
"Link, I..." began Zelda, coughing a little.
"Come on you two, save it for when you're safely back on board, get nearer to the ship, I'll go and tell someone to throw a rope down," said Sprite, beginning to fly away.
"But what's the point, they'll kill us when we're on board," said Zelda, leaning into Link.
"No, Robert, he's on our side," said Link quickly, swimming nearer to the ship, holding onto Zelda
"He is?" asked Zelda wearily. Link kissed her again.
Aaron by this time had reached the deck in the latter stages of Robert healing Link, and he had watched in mild confusion as he had seen Link dive from the ship. He saw both Aden and Derin advancing on Robert and ran across, prodding Derin in the back. Derin wheeled around, and Aaron clashed swords with him, leaving Robert with only Aden to deal with.
"You took your time!" commented Robert.
"Where's Zelda?" demanded Aaron. He had only been in the open for a few minutes and he was already drenched by the heavily increasing rain.
"Link's dealing with her," replied Robert, parrying furiously with Aden.
"Traitor!" spat Aden angrily at Robert.
"Call me what you want, it will never equal to the scum that you are!" cried Robert, neatly disarming Aden, flipping the sword over his head. At the same time, Aaron managed to disarm the heavily winded Derin, and the man fell on his back. Aden turned, realising he was stuck. He still sneered.
"You're all going to die anyway," he laughed.
"Everyone does. We're just going to live a lot longer than you," said Aaron.
"Not as long as you think," grinned Aden. Sick of his taunting, Robert stepped forward and stuck his blade through Aden's stomach.
"I would've aimed for the heart, but it seems you don't have one," he whispered in his ear, before letting him slide from his sword.
"What about Derin?" asked Aaron.
"I'll deal with him. Throw a rope over the side for Link, Zelda," instructed Robert. Aaron nodded and quickly grabbed a spare length of rope from the deck before running to where he had seen Link dive from, and he threw the rope over, tying it to the rail.
"Link!" he called, looking into the waves. He could see nothing except water and foam. He watched and called again at the top of his voice. Robert emerged beside him, looking into the waves. Suddenly, they both caught a glimpse of green, and Link surfaced, grabbing the rope. Zelda was beside him, a flicker of light also appeared, it must've been Sprite. Zelda began to climb the rope, and Aaron took her hand, helping her onboard. She collapsed by the rail, breathing deeply, while Robert checked her over. Link climbed up just behind, and he crouched by Zelda with Robert, looking a little surprised. He saw the bodies of Aden and Derin and glanced to Aaron, who just nodded reassuringly.
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