Ocarina of Time - Book 1: Quest for the Spiritual Stones

Princess Zelda

The sun rose slowly over the castle, the stones of its walls glowing orange in the early morning. A light breeze, carrying the scent of grass, ruffled Link's disheveled, yellow hair as he slept on the hard flagstones. His hand rested beside his pack where Navi was sleeping. She was close to the mouth of the pack, which was open, the flap lying on the ground as though the pack too was sleeping.

Then it stirred. A lump inside moved around with little jerks as though looking for a way out. It moved first this way and then that way. Then it moved toward the opening in gradual jerks until at last it reached the mouth.

A tiny head peeped out. It cocked its head first in one direction and then the other with a curious look on its face. Its tiny beak opened and closed as though tasting the air. Then it struggled out of the pack until it bounced against the flagstones with little cheeps of surprise. When it stopped, it was none the worse for wear, fortunately, so it picked itself up and shook itself, ruffling its white feathers as it did.

Then it paused. It looked up at the sound of Link's rhythmic breathing as he slept. It cocked its head curiously then, with an excited cheep, waddled over to him and with a flap of its tiny wings hopped onto his leg, which was the lowest part of Link's body that it was able to reach. It hopped its way up his body and then treaded slowly across his cheek as it approached his ear. It drew in a deep breath, its body puffing up until its feathers stuck out in all directions. And then, it opened its beak:

"CUCKOOOOOOOOOO!"

Link yelled and scrambled on the ground until he managed to push himself into a sitting position. He looked around wildly, wondering if he was under attack. Then he spotted it, which made him start in surprise before he lowered his face toward it.

It was a tiny, white bird. It chirped at him happily. In fact, it looked rather pleased with itself.

"Was that you who nearly made me deaf?" Link asked the little bird a little crossly as he dug in his ear with his little finger.

It chirped as though in confirmation.

Link huffed. "Well the next time you do that, could you try to not blast my ears off?" He shook his head. "Where did you come from anyways?"

"It must have just hatched," Navi answered, who had been awakened by the noise. She didn't seem to be much bothered by it though. On the contrary, she had a fond smile on her face as she drifted to the little bird. She spoke to Link without taking her eyes off the chick, "Remember the egg that Malon gave you?"

Link grabbed his sack and rummaged inside. A look of surprise crossed his face when he pulled out shell bits of the egg.

"Did you have a good night's sleep?" his fairy asked him as she stroked the bird's head. It clucked contentedly.

"I was," Link grumbled, "until that little loudmouth came along and screamed in my ear."

"Yes, cuccoos can have powerful voices," his fairy said and then giggled. Link turned to her in surprise. His fairy laughed? He didn't think she knew how to laugh. Maybe it was just when he had bad luck… like when that bird-that cuccoo, Navi called it-woke him with its loud voice… then an idea hatched in his brain.

"Do you think it could wake up that guy?" He pointed to where Malon's dad was still sleeping.

The cuccoo turned to where Link had pointed. Then with an excited cluck it hopped toward the snoring man, flapping its wings along the way. It clambered onto his body and then hopped over to his ear. Link watched in fascination as the little chick puffed up its body and then bellowed into the man's ear, "CUCKOOOOOOO!"

"What in tarnation?!" the man roared, rolling suddenly onto his stomach. "How's a man supposed to sleep with all this ruckus!"

The little chick bounced away. Navi gave a cry of concern and flew to the bird to see if it was all right. Meanwhile, the man yawned, rubbed his eyes, and then sniffed. His bleary eyes swiveled to Link.

"Ah, hello," he said, and to Link's relief he sounded much friendlier. "Don't suppose it was you who woke me up then?"

Link shrugged sheepishly. "Well, it was this cuccoo actually. He just hatched and then woke me up and then… er, well…"

"Eh, no harm done. Likely as not I was due fer it anyways." He scratched the back of his head and then asked, "So what's your name?"

Link answered, "I'm Link. Are you Malon's dad?"

The man nodded and yawned again. Then he brightened and replied cheerfully, "That's right. Name's Talon, proud owner of the world-famous Lon Lon Ranch. Just brought a delivery to Hyrule Castle," he waved a thick arm at all the boxes stacked around him, "but as I was waitin' here, this spell sorta came on me and the next thing I know..." He waved a hand in the air to show how unexpected it was.

Link shook his head in amazement and muttered to himself, "Wow. Malon wasn't joking."

"What's that?"

"I said, 'Malon sent me to find you,'" Link answered. "She's been waiting for you down in town since yesterday."

Talon's easy smile vanished suddenly. "Hold your horses! She's been waiting since when? You're telling me I've been here for an entire night?"

Link nodded, wondering what was making him so nervous.

Talon clapped his hands to his head and let out a groan, "Oh no! I've gone and done it again! Left her alone to care for things while I went and burned daylight. I've gotta go and make it up to her!" And without another word, he was off as fast as his thick legs could carry him. Link's eyebrows shot up in surprise. His attention was diverted when Navi called his name from the ground. He looked down to see his fairy hovering next to the cuccoo, which was bouncing up and down, flapping its wings as if trying to get airborne. Link picked it up and it cheeped happily.

"He didn't get hurt," Navi told him with relief. "He seems quite happy to have woken up that man though."

"Talon sure can move fast!" Link exclaimed. "I wonder why he's so afraid of Malon. She doesn't seem that scary to me."

"You've only known her for a few minutes," Navi pointed out.

"Well yeah, but I still don't think she's scary. She actually seems kind of nice… you know… for a girl." He turned his attention to the cuccoo to hide the blush in his cheeks.

"I see," said Navi ponderously. She studied Link for a moment or two. Then she spoke, "In any case, we have done what Malon has asked us. Now let's see if we can find a way into the castle."

"That drain hole," Link added. "And I think I hear it somewhere around here." He very quickly discovered it after weaving around the boxes. Water trickled from a hole in the side of the castle. Link eyed it with concern when he saw how small it was. Seeing his expression, his fairy said, "You'll fit through it just fine, Link. And it's just a hole, not a tunnel."

"I still don't like small holes," he muttered. "And besides, how am I supposed to crawl in? I can't just jump across the moat and into the hole."

Navi bit her lip thoughtfully as she studied the distance across the moat. Then she turned around and spotted the boxes.

"Maybe you can use these as platforms to get across the moat and reach the hole."

Link eyed the boxes balanced precariously on each other. "They look like they're about to fall," he commented.

"Then you will have to exercise caution," his fairy replied.

Link let out a groan. He set the little cuccoo off to the side and then turned to the boxes. The cuccoo cheeped anxiously as though telling him not to leave it behind.

"Hey, I need both hands for this!" Link protested as he started to heave himself on top of the box. "I can't do this while holding…" He had just gotten his knee onto the crate and righted himself when he accidentally bumped into the box on top. It tipped off the crate, crashed to the flagstones with a loud clanging noise that sounded as though a bunch of metal cans inside the box were hitting each other, and then tipped into the moat with a splash. The water churned with large bubbles that came from the box.

Link cringed. "Oops."

Navi studied the sunken box with a bemused expression on her face. At last, she spoke, "A means to an end. Not the most refined means, but it worked."

Link cleared his throat awkwardly. He peered into the water and then glanced at the drain hole. "I think we'll need another one for me to reach that hole." He jumped down from the box, braced himself against it, and began to push. He grunted with the effort, his legs shaking as the box scraped against the stones. He paused for a moment to catch his breath and he wheezed, "That is heavy!"

"You moved it though," Navi said encouragingly. "Take it a little bit at a time and you'll have it in the water eventually."

Link groaned to himself but started pushing the crate again. After pushing it a few inches he took another break. Then he pushed again, trying to ignore the pain in his legs. When he stopped for another break, he glanced over at the cuccoo chick, which cocked its head at him and blinked curiously.

"You're lucky," he groused to the chick, "getting to watch me, just looking cute and innocent, while I'm pushing a heavy box…"

"You're almost there, Link," his fairy pointed out. "Just a little bit more."

Little by little the crate scraped against the stone. Then it slid into the water on top of the sunken box. After that, to Link's surprise, the box slid more easily to the other side until it sank into the water, large bubbles churning it as the box settled.

"You did it, Link," said Navi excitedly. "Now you should be able to reach the drain hole, which brings us one step closer to talking to the princess."

Link grumbled, "Ow, my legs." He bent over, his hands on his knees. As he waited for the ache to go away, he studied the water running over the tops of his boots, shimmering in wavy patterns.

Navi had drifted to the drain hole before she noticed her Kokiri had not followed her. She turned and called, "Coming, Link? Let's not waste any more time than we already have."

Link sighed and waded over the top of the boxes toward the drain hole. Then he heard a loud cheeping behind him that made him turn around. The cuccoo chick was hopping up and down, flapping its wings and cheeping as though to say, "Wait! Don't leave me behind!"

Link threw up his hands in defeat. "All right! If you insist!" and he waded back to retrieve the chick. It cheeped happily when he picked it up and bounced in his hand.

Link clapped his other hand on top. "Hey there, little guy! You don't want to fall, do you? Then I'd have to rescue you and then Navi would get mad at both of us."

His fairy heard the comment, and she rolled her eyes to the sky and shook her head. Link soon joined her at the drain hole. Seeing he would need to crawl through on both his hands, he glanced down at himself for a place to safely tuck the cuccoo before he decided to put it in his pack. He left the flap open to give it air. The cuccoo poked its head out and cocked it about curiously.

Satisfied that it was safe, Link followed Navi through the drain hole, pulling himself in after her and wriggling through. The water soaked through his tunic. It was cold and it raised gooseflesh as it trickled past his knees, but he ignored it. He was soon through the tunnel. He got to his feet, his boots splashing in a shallow pool. Then he looked around.

He appeared to be in a garden maze. Ahead he could see tall arches covered in vines that appeared to divide the enormous garden into sections. He also saw something ahead that made his knees weak.

"Guards!" Navi gasped. "Guards everywhere!"

Link shook his head and groaned weakly, "How are we going to sneak past them all?"

His fairy answered, "With great care. Come, Link, we can do this. We must reach the princess!" She drifted forward. Link glanced down at the chick, who looked up at him and let out a questioning peep. He put a finger to his lips and whispered, "Not one peep. We don't want to get caught by the guards." Then he followed Navi to the first arch, hiding himself behind it and carefully peering around it.

Close by was a guard who stood in the crossroads of a small maze. On the other side was another arch thick with vines. In the center of the maze was an enormous bronze statue of three triangles that formed a larger triangle and was ringed by what looked like a set of wings.

"It's the Triforce," Navi breathed.

Link's eyes widened in astonishment. "You mean that's the thing that the man in black armor is looking for? What are they doing leaving it out in the open like that?"

His fairy shook her head with a sigh. "It's not the true Triforce. Merely a representation. Doubtlessly the Royal Family of Hyrule have the true Triforce hidden safely and sealed away by the strongest magic. Quickly now, the guard's looking the other way!"

The guard had just turned left and was walking along the path. Link quickly tiptoed past him, using the low shrubs that made up the maze as cover. He soon had to make a right turn and he made his way down through the maze where he hoped would lead him to the next arch. He could have easily hopped over the shrubs to reach it more quickly, but he was afraid that would make too much noise and attract the guard's attention. Navi flew silently beside him, casting nervous glances at the guard behind them.

Link scanned the maze ahead to help him navigate through the twists, but it turned out to be more complicated than it looked. When he thought he knew all the turns, he wound up facing a dead end and he had to scan it again to see where he had gone wrong. With each second he spent trying to find the right path, he was closer and closer to being discovered by the guard, though he was on the other side of the section.

"Try jumping over this hedge," Navi whispered hoarsely. She was tense with nerves.

"But won't that attract the guard?" Link whispered back as he swung around a corner, his back curled forward so far that he might have been a turtle.

"I've discovered a path there on the other side of this hedge. If you move quickly and stay low, you shouldn't be spotted by the guard."

Link glanced over though he was low to the ground and couldn't see anything through the hedge. His heart hammered in his chest as he thought about it. If he jumped over, he'd make noise for sure-catch his foot in the leaves, hit the ground with a thud, rattle his equipment-and the guard would be sure to come running. It seemed kind of risky and Link was surprised his fairy would suggest it. But if she thought it was worth it…

"Now?" Link asked.

"Now!"

Link stood up and then dove over the hedge. As he expected, he fell partially onto the hedge, making it rustle and the equipment he wore rattled loudly on impact with the ground. To make matters worse, he had somehow landed on his stomach just under his ribcage, which knocked the breath out of him. It felt as though he had punched his lungs empty and he couldn't draw breath.

"Hey!" a harsh voice rang out. "Who's there?" Then there was the sound of clanking.

Navi gripped her face tensely. "Oh no. Get up, Link! The guard's coming!" The chick in his pack cheeped urgently as though in agreement.

Link tried to get up but he only succeeded in rolling onto his stomach. He took in a shuddering gasp and clenched his fists in pain.

"Oh no," Navi moaned into her hands. "What do we do?" She could hear the guard clanking closer. They would never avoid him in time if Link didn't get up soon. But he was paralyzed. She would have to distract the guard somehow.

Then she had an idea. She streaked down the path toward the soldier, flying close to the shrubs with her hand stretched to rip the leaves off, creating noise.

The clanking stopped and the soldier cried out, "What the?" Then he grunted, "Hmph! Must've scared off a rat. Filthy things are always sneaking into the castle." Then the clanking began again, this time in the other direction.

Navi stopped and then heaved a sigh of relief. Her heart hammered against her ribcage and she could feel her body trembling. She shook herself then flew back to Link, who was now getting back to his feet, keeping his body hidden behind the hedges. He said to her, "That was pretty smart to distract him like that."

"We did not come all this way to be thrown out by an ill-tempered meathead," Navi responded waspishly. "Glad to see you've recovered. Now follow me. We've still got a ways to go." She quickly led him to the arch. Keeping themselves hidden behind it, Link and his fairy scanned the next section.

It looked to have the same labyrinthine design as the first section except that down the center the hedges were much taller, with three evenly spaced gaps. Also, there were two guards patrolling this section of the garden instead of just one.

"This should be fun," Link muttered.

The chick chirped worriedly from his pack.

Navi bit her lip thoughtfully. "I agree that it does look a little more challenging, but we can do it. The Great Deku Tree told us that we must meet the Princess, and so we will. He wouldn't have told us to do something that he didn't think we could do."

Link sighed. "I know. I just wish it didn't have to be so hard." Then before his fairy could respond, he shook his head and adopted a determined expression. "All right, let's go."

But before they could, they had to wait for both guards to turn their backs to him. One of them was marching away on the far side of the maze, but the other was marching toward Link. He soon came to a corner and turned. The moment the guard turned to look down the path away from Link, he hurried forward at a crouch toward the hedges and began traveling around them.

"It doesn't look like he's seen us," Navi whispered to her Kokiri, peering over.

Link didn't answer. He focused instead on moving forward, keeping himself hidden by the hedges. He couldn't really see which way through the maze he was traveling, but fortunately his fairy, being smaller and less likely to attract the guard's attention and also able to fly above the maze, guided him.

"Turn right over here." She flew down the path and Link followed.

"Let's keep going this way," she said later at the next fork.

"Let's go around this corner," was her next advice as she swerved around the hedge, which seemed odd to Link since it appeared they were going back the way they came. Soon he was grumbling to himself, "Find the princess, Link, that's all you have to do is go find the princess. Oops, did I forget to mention you have to sneak through miles of mazes and avoid guards? And then what? Fight another Queen Gohma? Or maybe a ferocious dragon? No, wait, let me guess, I'll have to crawl through lots of small, dark tunnels. Yeah, 'cause that's what heroes do is crawl through lots of small, dark tunnels to save the world…"

He was startled when Navi hissed, "Quiet, Link! Do you want the guards to catch us and throw us out? If they do that, we will have to begin this all over again! If you must complain, do so silently."

Link obediently fell silent, feeling ashamed. He hadn't meant to make Navi mad, he just wished they were done with all of this.

His fairy seemed to have dismissed it though for she was back to studying the maze. She quickly decided, "Let's go up this way, but quickly, the guard is turning this way."

Link followed her up the path. She surprised him with how quickly she was traveling and he nearly fell onto his face trying to keep up. This prompted his fairy to hiss, "Hurry, Link! He's turning this way!" Fortunately, he was able to dive into the branching path just before he saw the guard's leg appear from around the corner ahead. He paused to catch his breath but Navi told him, "We can't rest yet. He'll catch us if we don't keep moving." So with an exasperated sigh, Link moved forward. But when they rounded the next corner, Navi again surprised him by saying, "We should be safe here. You may catch your breath if you wish."

Link gratefully fell to his knees and then rolled onto his back, breathing heavily. Navi, meanwhile, scanned ahead and kept her eyes on the guards in case they were coming toward her and her charge.

Link's breathing eventually slowed. Then the chick in his pack cheeped as though impatient to get moving. Link grumbled at it, "All right, fine. I'm going, I'm going" and he got back on his haunches.

"We're close," his fairy said encouragingly.

Link was surprised at how close. In fact, he nearly walked through it before he looked up to find the archway right above him when his fairy guide cried, "Wait, Link! Not too hasty!" He leaped backwards and flattened himself against the wall. Then he peered around the corner to assess this next section.

This section was quite different from the two they had crossed. Link's attention was immediately seized by the shadow that blanketed the place. Looking up, he discovered it was cast by an enormous stone bridge that arced overhead.

"I wonder how we get up there," he murmured to himself.

His fairy heard him and she answered, "I believe we would have to go through the front gates."

"Oh." Link nodded. "I see." He then turned his attention to the garden underneath the bridge and he studied it. He was troubled to notice that there were no hedges to hide behind this time. Instead, the garden rose into a small hill. A burbling stream ran down to another stream that ran along the castle wall where it would eventually drain through the drain hole that Link had crawled through. At the top of the hill was a great fountain where water cascaded over three stone women who had their hands pressed against the underside of the bridge as though holding it up. They were beautiful and there was something in their bearing that expressed great power.

Navi saw where he was looking and she said, "The three goddesses, Din, Nayru, and Farore. The Great Deku Tree mentioned them. It was they who created Hyrule and they who created the Triforce."

"Wow. Were they really that big?" Link glanced up and down the statures of the stone goddesses.

"I…" Navi frowned in puzzlement before she finally admitted, "don't actually know. There are few accounts of the goddesses appearing in Hyrule and they all vary in their description." Then she shook her head. "But we're losing our focus. We need to talk with the Princess, and I have the feeling we're nearly there."

"Just a few guards between us and her," Link muttered. He could see two guards-one pacing around the fountain and another pacing close to the castle wall.

Navi bit her lip as she studied the situation. "This will be especially tricky since there are no hedges to hide ourselves. Your best bet, it would seem, is to keep close to the stream and hope the guard up there doesn't spot you." She turned to her charge and then as though she had discovered something she looked him up and down. "Your clothes may serve as camouflage against the grass. When the guard looks your way, just keep low to the ground and hold still and he may not see you."

"If you say so," said Link, unable to keep a note of doubt out of his voice. But after waiting for the guard close to the stream passed him by-ducking behind the archway so the guard wouldn't spot him-he bravely began his venture across the garden, moving slowly and keeping his eye up by the fountain, ready to freeze in place if a guard appeared and looked his way.

It wasn't very long though when his fairy suddenly gasped and then told him fretfully, "There's a guard behind us! And he's catching up to us! We must do something quickly!"

Link's heart began to race and he quickly glanced around for ideas. He looked into the stream running beside him. The thought occurred to him that he could hide in the water and swim his way to the next archway, but the stream was too shallow; the white stones were clearly visible. Then he glanced up the hill.

Navi was also looking that way and she told her Kokiri, "Perhaps if you move uphill between the guard there and down here, you may be able to escape their line of sight."

But Link was now thinking of a different plan. It was a risky plan, probably a plan that his fairy would strike down if he told her. But he was getting tired of all this sneaking and he was feeling bold.

So he took the belt that held his sword's sheath on his back and slipped it over his head. Then he took his shield and held it to his cheek, giving his head a larger profile. Then he took his sheathed sword in his left hand and propped it over his shoulder as high as he could make it go. And then he began to march.

Navi's mouth was open in disbelief. Her voice came out faintly, "Link, what are you doing?"

"Patrolling," he answered, keeping his back stiff as he moved his legs.

"You're going to get us caught! This won't fool them! Why are you holding the shield to your head?"

Link didn't answer her but continued marching. Navi was resigned to bite her lip nervously as she glanced back and forth, waiting for the guards to see them and come running.

She grew astonished when the guards failed to catch them. Despite her ardent doubts, they were actually making good progress toward the archway. Then they spotted a guard coming toward them from the other side. Navi's breath hitched, but her charge merely increased his pace ever so slightly. He made it to the archway before the guard's features were starting to come into focus. Navi was afraid that Link would make the mistake of leaping through the opening, thus alerting the guards, but he stopped abruptly the way they had observed the guards do it and turned his head. Then he swiveled on his heels and promptly marched through the arch. They heard no protests behind them.

Link quickly dove to the side, dropping his equipment on the ground. He rolled onto his right side after accidentally landing on his left and causing the chick to cheep in protest, and he gasped for breath while he waited for his pounding heart to settle.

His fairy seemed to be short of breath herself. She shook her head and panted, "I can't believe that worked! At any moment, I expected them to stop us and throw us out!"

"Me too," Link admitted.

"Cheep!" the chick agreed.

In spite of himself, Link chuckled. Then he spoke, "After all that sneaking, I hope we get to meet…"

Navi interrupted him with a gasp of, "Guard!" and she darted behind a large topiary soldier, frantically beckoning Link to follow her. He snatched up his gear and, without waiting to refit them on his body, obediently joined her and then peered out.

Three guards patrolled this area. Two paced around the perimeter with a precision that ensured they were directly across from each other at all times while the third paced down the center. Link was amazed that he had somehow avoided getting caught.

"We can't stay here long," Navi told him. "We need to keep moving and stay out of sight."

There seemed to be plenty of places to hide, for this section of the garden was scattered with shrubs that had been shaped into various figures, most of which seemed to feature castle residents-the soldiers, a noble-looking king with a stately queen by his side, and a child-but there were other figures, strangely shaped ones which Navi did not recognize.

"Easy for you to say," Link hissed, glancing around each side of his hiding spot. The guards were coming down both sides and there was nowhere to run.

His fairy tried to calm him. "Don't panic. We'll figure out a way." She then turned to the guards and studied them. Then she studied the shaped shrub she and her Kokiri were hiding behind.

"I think I have an idea," she finally said. "This soldier on your right is pacing faster than the one on your left. Now if you crawl under this soldier's legs, you should be hidden until the guard passes. When he does, that will be your chance to run to the horse." She pointed to the topiary trimmed to resemble a horse rearing.

So Link dropped onto his hands and knees and crawled under the legs of the topiary soldier. He found it somewhat of a tight squeeze since he had put his equipment back on and the noise he was making as he wriggled himself through made him nervous. He was relieved to see when he finally had himself hidden comfortably that the guard didn't seem to have noticed. He marched right past them without a single glance.

"Now, Link."

Link twisted himself out, holding down his pack to keep the noise down. Fortunately, the clanking the soldier was making helped to mask it. He stood up carefully and then jogged as quietly as he could toward the horse. He had just managed to duck underneath its hind legs when the soldier stopped, about-faced, and then began marching back the other way.

Navi heaved a sigh of relief. "That was a close one! One second longer and he would certainly have caught us!" She shook her head and then glanced around. "Now all we must do is move from bush to bush without getting caught to reach the other side."

"No problem," Link muttered, peeping out.

They worked together through the garden. Navi scanned the garden and planned their move. When the guards weren't looking, they hurried to the next hiding spot, and then Navi would scan the garden and plan the next move. And when they weren't looking, the boy and his fairy hurried to the next spot where the fairy would again scan and plan before moving again when the guards weren't looking. In this way, they made their way up the garden, slowly but surely.

At last, the archway was in reach. Link, Navi and the chick were hidden behind the topiary of an unusually tall and thin figure with a sharp profile and what Link guessed was a headdress that reached down the length of its back. The only thing stopping them were the two guards-the one marching up the middle and the one marching along the walls on the right. Link shrank into the cleft of the figure's legs and waited impatiently for the guards to pass. It didn't help that Navi was whispering to him, "Patience, Link. We've come too far to fail now. We wait for the right moment and then we'll make our move," nor did the chick's restless stirring in his pack and indignant chirping.

The center guard walked up the path to the vine-covered archway and paused. He stared through the opening… and continued to stare. He didn't move. Link's muscles started to ache and a strange pressure built up in his chest. He was waiting for the guard to move, but he was just standing there! Link was frustrated and wanted desperately to yell but knew that if he did that, the guards would catch him, which only frustrated him more, increasing the pressure in his chest.

Then the guard from the right joined him at the arch, standing there and staring through with him. Link jammed his fist into his mouth and bit, trying his hardest not to scream to the sky.

"Something wrong, Gabe?" the soldier on the right spoke.

Gabe turned to his companion for a brief moment and then turned back to look through the archway. Then he said in a voice that was slow and thoughtful, "Just thinking about the foreigner."

Link lifted his head when he heard the first soldier say, "The man in black armor, you mean? The Gerudo King?"

"Yeah." Gabe reached up to scratch his chin. "I've got this feeling in my gut about him. Something that tells me he's nothing but bad news."

"Ah, your gut's always telling you something," the other soldier said with a laugh. "Like when lunch is served."

"No, I mean it, Peron. He's got this look in his eyes that makes you feel like he's getting ready to pounce on you… like a Wolfos. And why does he have all those monsters with him? Those Moblins? It doesn't feel right."

"But think of the advantage we'll have with those things on our side! Any enemies that come knocking at our door are going to turn and run when they see them coming!"

"But what if they're not really on our side? Can that Gerudo really be trusted? The Princess doesn't think so. Remember the dream she told the King?"

"Ah, she's always having weird dreams. The King seems to think we can trust him."

Gabe fell silent and stared through the archway. Peron spoke after a moment, "I can tell you something real interesting about the Gerudo. Did you know that the clan is all female? And some of them come to Hyrule Castle Town to look for boyfriends. Maybe one of these days we can go to town and see if we get lucky."

"But aren't they thieves?" Gabe responded. "I'm not interested in being robbed blind."

Before his companion could respond, the third guard came marching up. He barked at them, "What are you doing standing around? Get back to your posts! Or shall I tell the captain you are shirking your duty?"

"There's no need for that, Raiun," said Peron. "We're going, see?" and he hastily marched off. Gabe swiveled around and jogged down the garden. With a grunt of disgust, Raiun began his march after Peron.

"Now's our chance, Link," Navi whispered. "Let's go!"

Link crawled out from his hiding place and got to his feet. He stumbled toward the archway, his legs stiff and sore from being bunched up for so long. He caught himself on the frame but by now he had learned to scan ahead before taking a break, so that's what he did. And his mouth fell open.

He was looking into a section of the castle gardens that was smaller than the rest had been. It also had a greater amount of color, boasting an enormous assortment of flowers with the deepest hues-roses of richest red and purest white, pansies of royal purple and midnight blue, tulips of sunniest yellow and flaming orange-all arranged in a circular maze-like fashion.

Link was entranced. He was shaken from his spell when he heard his fairy breathe, "It's beautiful." That was when he remembered what he was looking for and he quickly cast his eyes around the garden for the soldiers. To his surprise, there was none to be seen. But he also noticed something else that dampened this good news: there wasn't another vine-covered archway ahead but a gray wall that encircled the garden. In other words, they had hit a dead end.

"Gah!" Link exclaimed, throwing down his cap in frustration. "We did all that sneaking for nothing!"

Navi turned to him with a bewildered expression. "What are you talking about?"

"There's nowhere else to go!" Link gestured to the garden.

His fairy huffed. "Don't be ridiculous. There are windows here to climb through."

"Most likely locked," Link muttered.

"We'll never know unless we try."

Meanwhile, the chick in Link's pack had become restless. As the fairy and her charge were arguing, it hopped out of the pack and bounced to the ground. After a quick shake, it walked forward into the maze of flowers, slipping through the clusters and then poking its head out curiously.

Link failed to notice that the little cuccoo had escaped his pack but, at Navi's suggestion, decided to check the windows to see if any of them were unlocked. He approached the nearest one on the left, stood on the tips of his toes and peered in.

Navi drifted next to him to peer through the window too. "Hmm. This appears to be the Great Hall."

"And it's full of people," Link added. "Even if this window was unlocked, I'm sure to get caught the moment I try."

"There are other windows," Navi reminded him a bit tartly.

The chick continued its adventure through the flowers, nipping the petals on a few of them and then shaking its head and moving on toward another cluster to nips the petals of those flowers…

Suddenly, it turned its head and held itself still. Then it moved forward, cocking its head. Something curious had caught its interest and it was eager to see what it was…

Link sighed and moved toward the next window at the furthest end of the garden. He maneuvered carefully around the flowers as he approached, not wanting to give Navi another reason to get mad at him.

He stopped suddenly when he heard a loud, "Oh!" He lifted his foot, wondering if he had accidentally stepped on a flower, but then his fairy spoke above him, "What was that?"

"You mean that wasn't you?" Link looked up at her in surprise. "But then…?" He cast his eyes around the garden until he spotted movement in front of him.

It was a girl, pressing herself against the wall next to the window. She wore a white dress layered with purple and a white cap on her head, which hid most of her blond hair. She didn't seem to have noticed Link or Navi since her eyes were focused on the window.

She sure is acting suspicious, Link thought. He also had a nagging feeling that she was familiar somehow. His fairy also seemed transfixed by the girl for she stared hard at her. At last, she said, "Link. Could that be the Princess of Destiny that the Great Deku Tree told us to find?"

And that's when he remembered. He had seen her in a dream! On a white horse!

"It has to be!" he exclaimed excitedly.

This startled the girl for she gasped and turned to them. There was a look of terror on her face almost identical to the one she had in his dream.

She stammered, "Who… who are you?"

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