The Legend of Zelda: The Alternate Link

Chapter 16: The Journey Begins

Two young girls made their way through the halls of Hyrule Castle. Morning light wove its way through the fibers of the glass in the windows, a daily trip that the light had probably always took, so it didn't have any need of much thought for the maze was memorized. As for the two girls, the halls of the immense castle were also a maze, one they hadn't had time to commit to memory, and so they were being led by an escort.

Their escort was a young woman in her early twenties. She didn't talk much, in fact she seemed in a bit of a rush, as if the guests in the castle were rats that were slowly spreading a disease and the quicker she completed her task, the quicker she would be rid of the foul creatures. Tetra decided immediately that she disliked the woman. The only reason why she didn't send her away and state that they could find it themselves was the fact that she was also in a hurry. The sooner this little adventure for the light spirits was over, the sooner they would be home, or at least closer to home than they were. Now that she thought about it, their escort's promptness may have come from the fact that Tetra had requested she lead them to the boys' room instead of the throne room like she was told.

The woman stopped suddenly, and Aryll would have gone crashing into her back if Tetra hadn't grabbed the little girl by her wrist and pulled her back to a stop. Another woman stood in front of this door. She looked closer to Link's age.

"You were supposed to have them ready and out here by now. What's the hold up?" the older woman demanded, her tone clearly expressing that her patience today was next to zero.

"I-I'm sorry!" the younger girl stuttered bowing her head slightly, "They're still sleeping and I thought that it would be rude to wake them…"

Their escort looked just as annoyed as Tetra felt. Tetra certainly had no qualms about being "rude".

"Is the door open?" Tetra asked, directing her question at the more anxious of the two woman. When she was given a small nod of confirmation, she opened the door and closed it behind her, not caring when the door shut rather loudly. Makar was not in the room. She assumed that, like Medli, he had been escorted to the library earlier. In fact, Aryll was supposed to be with them, but the child had insisted she get to say goodbye to her brother.

"Oi! Get up ya lazy bums! We got a big day ahead of us and sleeping isn't on our list of things to do!" Tetra snapped, cupping her hands around her mouth so her voice would project out to every corner of the room. She watched, hands on hips, as Link and Kid both jerked awake, the latter falling ungracefully out of bed. Tetra sighed and shook her head. She supposed some things never changed. "Come on already," she insisted. She had no intention of waiting much longer. "The princess is waiting for us in the throne room and there's a servant outside to escort us. You both already slept through breakfast, so I hope you can eat while you walk because if not then you've got yourself a problem."

"Hey, Tetra did you ever try a nice, 'It's time to wake up'? It's quite effective," Link said rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

"It isn't from my experience. I'm serious. Put on your gear and let's go!" Tetra ordered, crossing her arms over her chest.

Kid got to his feet rather quickly and gathered his things while Link moved at a slower pace just to spite her, she felt. A few minutes later they all stepped out of the room. The woman that had escorted Tetra and Aryll was nowhere in sight. Only the nervous girl remained, biting her lip as if it could calm her nerves while Aryll stood waiting beside her. As soon as the little girl caught a glimpse of her brother she ran forward and wrapped her arms around him in a hug.

"Please don't leave, Big Brother!" Aryll begged, clinging to the boy as if he was a lifeline.

"Aryll, if I knew you were just going to beg, I would've let them take you take you to the library with Medli," Tetra said, stepping forward to pull the little girl away from her brother. Kid held up a hand in a silent gesture to tell her to wait.

"Aryll, I'm sorry, but I have to go. I'll come back," Kid apologized returning his sister's hug before letting go. Aryll only pulled away slightly.

"When?" she sniffed, looking up at him with a tear-stained face.

"As soon as possible," Kid answered smiling down at his sibling and wiping her tears away.

"That's what you said last time!" Aryll cried. Kid sighed, clearly sympathetic for his sister but frustrated at the same time. Tetra herself didn't see the big deal. Kid left her often, but he always came back eventually.

"Aryll, stop acting like a baby. He says he's coming back and he will. He's said the same thing every time and it never stops being true, so just say goodbye already," Tetra ordered, eager to get going and refusing to let a trivial matter such as this delay their departure.

Aryll silently mulled it over. Her tears were gone but a frown still lingered on her face. She took a deep breath to calm herself before nodding in agreement. "Okay….promise to come back though?" Aryll requested, looking straight into her brother's eyes.

"I promise, Aryll," Kid vowed.

"Ahem…not to interrupt," the servant girl interjected shyly, "but the princess is waiting. We should get going to the throne room. I can take your sister to the library after that." The boys decided not to waste time with breakfast, so the foursome followed the skittish servant to the throne room. Aryll embraced her brother one more time before she allowed herself to be led away towards the library.

Tetra examined the new room. It was the most massive room she'd seen yet. The ceilings were so high that it made her wonder if it was even possible for people to get up there to construct it in the first place. Large spiraling pillars supported the roof. They were probably the only things capable of preventing the ceiling from falling on them. The floors were made of some type of white polished stone, and a long royal blue carpet led the way up the steps to the throne which was set back against the farthest wall. Even the throne was a sight to behold. It was made of white marble and the back of the chair reached high towards the ceiling finally stopping in a circle formation. Three feminine figures were depicted surrounding the golden Triforce in the middle. The seat of the throne was padded with a red material of some kind and upon the throne sat Princess Zelda herself. Surprisingly no guards were in the room. As Tetra looked around she made mental notes to herself about things to add or remove in her not-yet-existent castle.

The princess wore a hooded black cloak that concealed whatever clothing she was wearing underneath it, as well as most of her face. Tetra guessed that she didn't want others knowing of her identity since it would draw too much attention. The trio approached the throne, their footsteps echoing in the vast room no matter how lightly they stepped. The princess was alerted by the noise and quickly stood up. She closed the gap between them in a matter of seconds.

"Is everyone ready to depart?" Princess Zelda wondered. She still held herself regally, but she seemed to be secretly containing excitement. ‘Does she really not get out that much?’ Tetra thought to herself as Link answered the princess's question for all of them. As they followed the princess out of the castle Tetra felt uneasy. She couldn't quite describe what it was. Her anxiousness didn't blossom from sudden danger though. In fact, she felt completely safe. Yet something was nagging at the back of her mind. It was something important, she was sure, but she couldn't pull it to the surface. Just as they stepped outside of town, the eastern gate she was sure to note, she realized what it was.

Princess Zelda's motivation for helping them. The princess had never made it clear. Tetra knew why Link was motivated to help them since he was a hero, but the princess had no such title to live up to, so why would she drop everything to help a group of strange kids that didn't even seem to be from her kingdom? Did she sense something, or did she know something they didn't? Tetra decided that she'd have to be more cautious around the princess, her counterpart, quite possibly her ancestor, than she was around Link.

She hurried to catch up to the others upon realizing that she was lagging behind. Across the wooden bridge that connected the eastern gate to the field two horses were grazing. One she recognized as Link's horse, Epona. The other was unfamiliar, but she assumed that it was the princess's. Both animals had saddlebags attached to them containing essentials for their quest.

"So, Zelda, where are we going first?" Link asked just as they reached the horses.

"Last night I planned out the order in which we should visit each spirit. I thought that you probably knew shortcuts I didn't, so I figured that I'd leave the route itself up to you," Princess Zelda explained, pulling out a map from the many folds of her cloak and handing it to Link. He examined it for a minute before nodding.

"Okay, I already know the shortest route there. We can probably get to the first spirit by midday. Maybe earlier if we move fast and don't run into any trouble," Link announced, handing the map back to the princess who accepted it and hid it away in her ebony cloak. The group then split apart heading towards different horses. It had been determined beforehand that the boys would ride together and the girls would do the same. Tetra followed the princess's instructions on how to mount the white horse and managed to do it without any assistance. Princess Zelda swung up onto the animal with practiced grace and Tetra held onto the saddle horn like she had been told, not particularly eager to fall off.

Link checked to make sure everyone was ready before letting Epona trot forward. Princess Zelda urged her horse to follow and they were headed towards their first destination. Since they had crossed a different section of Hyrule Field to get to the castle Tetra had had a chance to get over the initial shock of seeing so much land, but it still didn't cease to amaze her. She tried to stop her eyes from lingering too long or wandering too far so she wouldn't be questioned, but glancing ahead, she could see that Kid was in the same predicament. Tetra attempted to hide her fascination by painting a scowl on her face, but it was poorly constructed and fell apart rather quickly.

Trying to shake off the fact that this beautiful place would be flooded someday, Tetra decided to start up a conversation, "So, can these horses go any faster?"

"They can," Link replied, glancing back to look at her before returning his attention to the road ahead.

"Then make them go faster. At this rate, it'll take forever to get there," Tetra huffed.

"I'm only going slowly because you and Kid haven't rode horses before. I was going to build up to it, but if you think you can handle it now then just say so," Link said. His tone wasn't mocking in any way, but Tetra still felt angry with him. Speed wasn't going to kill them.

"We can handle it," Tetra insisted, resisting the urge to add a witty remark along with it. Link asked for Kid's confirmation before letting Epona break out into a canter. Princess Zelda's horse, Pegasus, followed suit and Tetra gripped the saddle horn tighter. She was surprised by the amount of power and speed the animal beneath her displayed, but she wasn't frightened by it like she thought she should be. In fact, it made her feel alive, more alert, and, somehow, invincible. It was a feeling she didn't get from sailing. She felt like she was almost flying. Almost. They had to go faster to feel that sensation. "Faster!" Tetra requested. At first she was unsure if Link had even heard her, but by some miracle he had, and Epona charged forward into a gallop. Pegasus gained speed soon after, and Tetra couldn't focus on anything except for the makeshift wind slapping their faces. Now it felt like they were flying. She barely registered it as they entered a pass with rocky walls rising up on either side. Her surroundings were a blend of earthy tones in her mind now, too caught up in the moment to pay attention to petty details.

All too quickly the horses slowed down again to their original trot, leaving Tetra disappointed. The speed had been a welcome distraction preventing her from getting lost in her thoughts.

"So, Tetra, how did you like it?" Link queried, shouting a little to be heard since the distance between them was greater than it was when they had started.

Tetra refused to break her stone-hearted attitude and settled for replying indifferently, "It was okay."

The conversation then dwindled down to nothing. Tetra kept herself alert for monsters but didn't catch sight of any. She had expected that they'd run into something by now. She supposed she should be happy that they hadn't come across any obstacles but instead it made her uneasy. If they weren't attacked straight off that meant that either they were being watched or that whoever was against them, if anyone, was planning something big. Which, from her experience, didn't bode well for them.

After about an hour they made it out of the pass and back into a field. A large bridge was visible in the distance. Tetra had thought that they would be going over the bridge, but instead Link turned left at a small fork in the road. A sign with what appeared to be cuccos on it, stood proudly near the beginning of the path, but Tetra couldn't make out a word, or a letter for that matter, on it.

"Where are you taking us?" Tetra asked Link, looking at the strange sign uncertainly, as if she expected it to sprout wings and fly away any second.

"Isn't it obvious? Read the sign," Link replied not bothering to turn around. Tetra stared at the sign a bit longer as they slowed down but didn't say anything. ‘”Read the sign,” he says,’ she thought to herself rolling her eyes, ‘Yeah, I would if I could. Thanks for the advice Captain Obvious.’

The horses came to a stop and the boys began dismounting. The girls did likewise and once everyone was on the ground Link gestured for them to follow him down the gently sloping path.

"Won't the horses run away if you leave them like that?" Kid wondered.

Link shook his head, "No, they'll stay there until we return." The group then followed in silence as Link led them down a series of wooden steps that curved to the right slightly. Before them was a purple building which Tetra found strange. Who painted a building purple? Link opened the door and they all filed in after him, Kid being the one to close the door since he had dropped back to walk next to Tetra. To the left a ladder led up to a second floor. Beyond that didn't seem to be anything of particular interest, aside from the five or six cuccos strutting about the room like they were important, occasionally stopping to peck at the floorboards.

"It's twenty rupees per person but-" Link began, turning around to address his companions.

Tetra wasted no time in cutting him off, "Twenty rupees for what?"

"To get down to Lake Hylia," Link replied curtly.

"Down? So…what costs twenty rupees to get down?" Tetra asked. Link just gestured to the cuccos in the room. Tetra quirked an eyebrow. They were going to glide down to a lake with cuccos? Why would that cost twenty rupees? Personally, Tetra thought that it should be free. She decided as Link led them further into the room that she wasn't going to give anyone a single rupee. There was no point. If it costs money to use a cucco then she could just jump into the lake, provided that it was directly beneath the building they were in. Surely no one would have the right to charge her for that.

As they reached the lighter portion of the room Tetra noticed for the first time the man who probably ran the cucco business. Suddenly, the purple building didn't seem as peculiar anymore. ‘Strange people they have here,’ Tetra mused silently, disregarding whatever nonsense Link was going on about now, ‘Although, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. All the people, excluding Link, in Ordon have round ears instead of pointed. The guards are a joke and now to top it off there's a clown. What else should I have really expected judging from what I've seen so far?’

Tetra shook her head slightly to clear her thoughts and grabbed the cucco nearest to her before approaching the eccentrically dressed stranger. He began to speak, but she paid no attention to his words and instead pushed past him without much effort. She supposed that he didn't get much rebellion from his "customers" and had little idea of how to deal with her actions.

"H-Hey, you have to pay for that you know…" the man sputtered, still trying to grasp the concept of what she was about to do and realizing his tragic inability to stop her.

"I'd like to see you make me," Tetra smirked. Those were her last words before she leaped off the tiny wooden platform hanging suspended over the lake. She only briefly heard shouting from behind her but didn't bother to look or listen hard enough to make out what was being said. She was too focused on figuring out where to land. Contrary to what she had said earlier, she didn't feel like getting wet. The weather was warm but still not as hot as it was at home. Her clothes would take considerably longer to dry here if she were to get them drenched in water.

Her eyes scanned the large expanse of water before her. The lake was massive but the sections of land were fairly obvious from the air. She noticed wooden bridges connected most of the pieces to each other to make travel on foot easier. Tetra spotted a large gray structure on one of the pieces of earth. She couldn't tell what it was, but if she had to guess she'd say that it was a cannon of some kind. If it was indeed a cannon, it was probably the strangest one she had ever seen for it appeared to have legs that could maneuver like a person's to some degree. She decided to land there since it was far away, and it was a big enough chunk of earth to give her time to descend to a safe distance where she could drop down.

Tetra waited until she was almost past the cannon-like structure before letting go of the cucco and dropping down to the ground. She landed expertly on her feet. As she turned around to see what had happened to her companions she was surprised to see two of the three coming towards her holding onto crazed cuccos of their own. Tetra moved out of the way so they had plenty of space to land. Once their feet touched the ground Tetra raised an eyebrow, "I didn't actually expect you to follow me that quickly."

"Never do that again," Link reprimanded, whirling around on his heel to face her.

"I don't take orders from you," Tetra replied, defiantly crossing her arms and adding, "or anyone for that matter. I fly solo. Plus, you're no better. For you to have gotten here as fast as you did, you had to have jumped after me, so you couldn't have paid either."

Link sighed, "I panicked, okay?"

"Mmhmm," Tetra hummed, not really satisfied with his explanation but deciding to let it slide, "and what's the princess's excuse?"

"Heights aren't my specialty and I preferred to get it over with," Princess Zelda explained nonchalantly.

"Where's Kid?" Tetra wondered.

Princess Zelda and Link looked around, apparently just noticing his absence.

"I thought he was right behind us…" Link muttered. They all directed their gaze to the sky. Kid was just jumping off of the platform with a cucco. When he reached them Tetra noticed the agitated expression on his face.

"What happened?" Tetra asked, holding back a laugh. She had a feeling that she knew exactly what had happened.

"You tell me! I wasn't informed that we were all jumping and being rebels!" Kid exclaimed.

"It wasn't the original plan," Link reminded him, shooting a disapproving look at Tetra.

"I had to pay eighty rupees to get down here!" Kid continued, his attention directed at Tetra who just smirked.

"Maybe that'll teach you to be faster next time," Tetra shrugged, clearly displaying her lack of sympathy.

"That's not right. Here, Kid," Link said, taking out two red rupees and four yellow from his wallet and handing it to the younger boy who accepted it hesitantly.

"It was twenty rupees per person. I was originally going to pay for all of us," Link admitted.

"Oh, thanks," Kid replied, stowing the money away in his own wallet.

"So, are we close to our destination yet?" Tetra queried, "You didn't even bother to tell us where we're going."

"We're going to Lanayru's Spring, and yes, we are close," Link answered her.

"Let's go then. Which way is it?" Tetra wanted to know, glancing around in an attempt to figure out where the spring was located on her own.

"Hold on," Princess Zelda cut in, "Shouldn't we take a break for lunch first? It is noon now."

"We can eat afterwards!" Tetra insisted, exasperated. They were so close that she couldn't even think of food at the moment even though she was a bit hungry.

"I'm not sure how long it will take. That's why I'm suggesting we eat now," Princess Zelda argued.

"I agree with her," Link commented.

"Of courseyoudo," Tetra thought silently, rolling her eyes.

"I've no problems with eating now. I didn't have breakfast," Kid remarked.

"Fine, we'll eat now, but after that we're going to the spring," Tetra surrendered. Link took out a bag of provisions that he had taken off of his horse earlier. He rummaged through it for a while before producing a loaf of bread and a jar of honey.

"I didn't pack the provisions," Princess Zelda interjected almost as if she was going to get blamed for something terrible, "The cook did and apparently he didn't know what type of food to pack."

"It's fine," Link assured her, "The bread should be good for two or three more days, and the honey will last longer than we'll need it to. Besides that, this isn't the only bag of food we have. I'm sure there's different stuff in the others." The small group then began to consume their modest lunch, some more ravenously than others.

"Hey, Link," Tetra spoke up, after she finished chewing.

"Hmm?" Link wondered, glancing up.

"What's that?" she asked, pointing to the large gray structure that towered over them.

Link swallowed before answering, "It's a sky cannon."

"Sky cannon?" Tetra repeated, a bit shocked that she had been correct, "What's it for?" As far as she could tell, it didn't seem to be aiming at anything in particular.

"It will shoot you up to the City in the Sky. That's where the Oocca race live," Link explained.

"What are…Oocca?" Tetra queried, unsure if she was pronouncing the name correctly.

"They're similar to cuccos except that they have pale human-like heads," Link replied.

"That's really weird," Tetra stated wrinkling her nose as if she smelled something foul.

"Maybe," Link shrugged, seeming to agree with her and taking another bite of his lunch.

"Have you been up there before?" Kid wondered.

Link nodded. "Yeah. I wouldn't recommend it though. Most of the city is basically in ruins. It's really dangerous up there with all the sudden gusts of wind. They nearly blew me off countless times. Besides that, the air is kind of thin and it's freezing cold. Not as cold as Snowpeak but, it's close."

"If it's so unpleasant then why were you up there?" Tetra asked.

"There was something up there that I needed. I eventually got it. After I battled a dragon, of course," Link said coolly as if fighting dragons was something everyone did on a daily basis.

‘Now he's just trying too hard to impress us,’ Tetra thought to herself. Aloud she said, "I'll believe that when I see proof."

"What kind of proof?" Link wondered, raising an eyebrow in question.

"That thing you said you needed. You claim that you got it after defeating the dragon, so show it to me and I'll believe you," Tetra declared.

"I don't have it anymore," Link admitted sheepishly, "If I did, I'd show it to you."

Tetra did believe that he had faced a dragon at some point since he was obviously a hero. However, she refused to play along with his game and remained indifferent.

"I believe you," Kid announced, smiling.

"Suck up," Tetra muttered under her breath. The banter among the group eventually died down and they finished their lunch. Link put the left overs back in the bag and stowed it away once again before motioning for them all to follow him. He led them across two wooden bridges that curved slightly and were built at an angle. The second bridge was much longer than the other, and Tetra could see the water between the minuscule cracks in the carefully-placed boards.

When her foot next touched ground she was surprised to find that it was stone. Two stone pillars rose up to the right, transforming into snakes. On the left the stone was formed into a large arch that looked like the gaping mouth of a snake ready to devour its prey whole and without mercy. A small wooden sign also stood there, but much like the sign from earlier, she couldn't make out the words etched into it. Other than that, there wasn't much to look at.

"Is this it?" Kid inquired.

"Yup," Link confirmed, with a small nod of his head.

"Stop stalling already. Let's meet this spirit," Tetra proclaimed, tapping her foot impatiently. Link complied quicker than she had expected him to, and she soon found herself walking into the gaping maw of the petrified serpent. Now all she could do was hope that the creature didn't decide to snap its jaws shut.

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