Silent Courage

Chapter 23: Looming Shadows

Chapter 23: Looming Shadows

I wake up feeling warm and, quite frankly, well rested. I can't even remember the last time I fell asleep and didn't wake up to a nightmare or being poisoned. It's a nice change of things. But why am I so warm? Why do I feel at peace? I hear soft breathing and open my eyes, finding arms wrapped around me protectively. I turn my head and blush deeply when I see Sheik's face close to mine.

The memory of last night rushes back with full-force and I smile. Oh yeah, we confessed to each other. So now we're officially lovers. I giggle with giddiness, snuggling into him further. The butterflies swarm my stomach and my head feels light with glee. None of this is bad, though. I'm so happy. Now more than ever do I wish I could talk, I would sing!

“Heh, good morning, Shorty,” I smile and move into him more as he wakes up.

'Morning, Jerk,' I yawn.

“Have a good sleep?”

'First time in a while,' I smile and Sheik sits up, bringing me with him. He leans on the tree we're under and sits me in his lap, but I don't mind at all. Honestly I like it. 'It's felt like years since I last slept so peacefully.'

“Understandable. So, are you happy that your quest is complete?”

'Oh yeah. All we have to do is get back to the Castle and tell Zelda that everything's done. I hope we don't end up in a war.'

Sheik sighs, putting his head on my shoulder. “You know there's a very little chance there won't be.”

'I know, I just don't want it to happen.'

“No war is good. Both sides loose lives and so many people get hurt. Promise me you won't do anything reckless,” he turns me and lifts up my head, looking me in the eye.

'I'll try, but I can't promise that. If something happens so quickly and I'm not reckless, we might loose someone important.'

“We might loose you. Don't do anything recklessly unless it's needed. Okay?”

'Okay. If you don't do anything reckless either.'

He smirks. “Deal,” he kisses my forehead. “Let's go get ready. We'll probably leave soon.”

-Later-

Gale stands in front of us, smiling. “I can't thank you guys enough. Now that we know the giant never really existed, we can start preparing.”

“For what?” Adam asks.

“For helping you. We might not be very experienced with fighting, but we'll train up the people who can fight well to help you guys. Be careful going back to New Hyrule, you may have found all the Sages, but that doesn't mean everything's peaceful. There might be an ambush or something waiting for you.”

“We'll be on the lookout,” Nura says and we head off when Gale stops me.

“I'm sorry for what happened to you guys. And I'm sorry I lied. I thought I could leave this place earlier if I helped you. Some good that did,” he mutters. I smile, accepting his apology, and wave before running after the others.

I glance at Vaati as we walk through the swamp. He's only been away from Hyrule Castle a few days and already he's a lot calmer and almost back to his old self. I hope the hawk got to Zelda, that way she can start preparing to look for whoever's sapping magic. Hopefully she isn't getting affected, she might not be a Mage, but she certainly has strong magic.

For some reason, I have a sudden sense of foreboding. I look around, but nothing seems out of ordinary, I don't even have the feeling of being watched. How weird.

We come to Lake Hylia around midday, just in time for the sun to break through the mist we found ourselves in for the last hour. We swim across the lake and I swear I spot a shadow run behind the ruined building, but when we walk passed it, I don't see or hear anything. Could just be a Poe or something, I guess.

By the time we make it to the dead field, the clouds are gone and dusk slowly starts to fall. But somehow, this once beautiful land is still dead and lifeless even in the waking of night.

Trying to ignore the sadness, I'm walking up a hill, a little ahead of the others, when I get to the top and freeze, my eyes widening at what I see. “What's wrong Lin-” Sheik cuts himself off when he sees what I do. Hundreds upon hundreds of demons camp out, fires burning near tents and catapults not far from the camp. All of them have armour and weapons, and I spot a few Mythical Monsters among them, like Harpies, Orcs and Gryphons. A shiver goes down my spine, this isn't good.

“Oh no,” Adam voices our thoughts when he and the others catch up. “That's a big army.”

“Much bigger than what we have,” Alex says as he hide behind a bolder. I peek around the bolder to get a better look at the army and spot a certain Demon Lord sitting on top of a grey horse, looking over his army. He looks to the east and I follow his gaze to see he's looking at the entrance to the Lost Woods. I gulp. I'm not worried for the Kokiri, they can easily hide in the forest, but what about Ordon? Will they attack it? It's not far from the Lost Woods, and it will only take a few Gryphons to hurt everyone. I need to sneak passed the army and get to Ordon before them, I'm not loosing the people I consider family.

“How are we going to deal with this?” Adam asks.

“We can't fight them, that would be suicide,” Vaati says. “We'll have to get by them somehow or wait until they leave.”

“But they're going to our Hyrule, and we might not make it to Hyrule Castle in time. We need to get by them,” Nura says.

Looking back at the army, I see that the way to the Forest is being blocked by two Orcs. As much as I want to, we can't go until the morning. But I will. When everyone's asleep, I'll sneak off and warn Ordon. There's no way I'll let them get hurt.

“We'll go back a bit and set up a camp, without a fire. We don't want their attention,” Vaati says and we go to the old ranch. As we set up a place to rest, I walk around the ranch, humming to myself and trying to think of a plan. Would they mistake me as a Wolfos? No, of course not. I'm way to small to be mistaken for that and Ghirahim knows what I look like. I don't want to risk shrinking, that's for sure. Hmm, maybe I can call for Rocky? No, he's so big that he would give us away. What to do, what to do.

“You're planning something stupid, aren't you?” Midna asks, making me jump. I forgot she was here for a moment. She comes out of my shadow and puts a hand on her hip, giving me a 'you're an idiot' look.

'Yep, but I need to get to Ordon before they do. The village doesn't stand a chance,' I think, not denying it.

“You'll need help.”

'You will?'

“Of course, moron. Somebody has to stay with you to save your hide,” she rolls her eyes.

'Thanks. I didn't want to go alone,' I look at the entrance of the ranch, seeing the smoke from the army rising above the walls.

“Alas, you want help. Took long enough,” Midna says.

'I prefer to do things on my own, but I know I can't get by them without help.'

“Mature. For once. Alright, I'm ready when you are,” she jumps back into my shadow and I head back to the farm building, finding Vaati and Shadow arguing.

“I can sneak by those guys easily! Or did you forget about my namesake?” Shadow asks.

“Don't be stupid, do you think the Demons won't notice a moving shadow? They're not idiots like you. They can enter the Dark World just as easily as you can,” Vaati says calmly, arms crossed.

“You're no fun.”

“There's no fun in war.”

So Shadow wants to go ahead too. But why? What's he got to gain from it? Ugh, I won't even bother.

I sit down on some hay, thinking about how I can get out without anyone noticing. They'll all try to stop me, so I'll need to be careful when they're asleep. No doubt one of them will almost wake and catch me. I'll transform into a wolf to leave, since I'm quieter that way, then Midna can help me turn back. We can sneak to the bolder we were behind earlier and try and find the best route around the army. That's when things get tricky. Those Orcs probably won't rest all night, so there's a slight chance they will be slow to response and not realize anything. I don't want to risk the alternative, so I might have to disguise myself as something to get through. But what? I can't hide as a Harpy, I don't have wings at all, no way can I be an Orc or Troll. Maybe I could hide as a Demon? But how would be the question. I don't have anything that can help me look like a Demon. Oni's Mask is close, but I don't think he'd like getting called just so I can sneak by the army.

Could I hide in one of their waggons? No, definitely not. I don't want to be found. Hiding as something might be my best bet. I just need to figure out what I'll be.

I jump suddenly when someone pokes my side and I look up, smiling at Sheik as he sits beside me. “What are you planning?” he deadpans.

'I'm not planning anything,' I think, but he rolls his eyes.

“You are a horrible liar, remember?” he looks at the others before speaking through telepathy. 'You're planning to sneak passed the army to get to Ordon, aren't you?'

'Is it that obvious?' I ask nervously, looking at my friends as, one-by-one, they fall asleep.

'Maybe. But rest a bit now, you'll need as much sleep as you can get,' he tells me, putting an arm around my shoulders and kissing my cheek. I feel my face turn a warm and snuggle into him, letting out a sigh as his arms wrap around me. I want to save Ordon so badly, but I know Sheik won't let me go.

It feels like I only close my eyes for a moment when I feel a hand shake me slightly. I open my eyes and yawn, looking around to see Sheik crouching, a smirk in his eyes. 'Ready?'

'Fo' 'at?' I mind-mumble, blinking. He chuckles and runs a hand through my hair.

'You didn't think I would let you go without me, did you? I don't want you to get hurt, so I'll come with you and Midna to help,' I grin as he helps me up. I give him a hug and we sneak around the others, careful not to wake them.

We hide behind the bolder and look around it, looking over the camp and seeing many Demons and Mythical Monsters roaming around on patrol. Like I thought, the Orcs are still awake. How do we get by?

'Any ideas?' Sheik asks.

'Well, I thought about a disguise of some sort,' I think. 'A Demon would be best, but how we'll pull it off is the question.'

“Besides, I'm sure they'd see right through it,” Midna says.

'Could you warp us?' I ask.

“No, not with Sheik.”

“Sorry to be a bother,” he jokes, looking over the camp more. “Wait, I just remembered, I know a spell that can turn us invisible.”

'Really?' my ears perk up.

“Yes, but it's tricky. I haven't even perfected it yet, I can only be invisible for fifteen minutes and it's been about five months since I last turned invisible. I actually forgot about until now.”

'Perfect! We can just sneak passed them!' I grin.

“Hmm, it will be hard with three of us,” he says thoughtfully. “It's hard enough on my own. I don't even think I can manage it...”

“I'll warp ahead and wait in Faron Woods,” Midna says, coming out and crouching behind the bolder. “That way you'll only have to worry about yourself and Link.”

“Sounds good. We'll see you there,” Sheik nods and Midna vanishes into Twilight Particles.

'Can you really make us invisible?' I ask. He nods and holds out his hand. I take it and he closes his eyes.

“Don't forget, we're still solid, so be careful,” he warns and I close my eyes when I feel my skin itch. The itch starts at my fingertips and goes up my arm, into my shoulder, to my other shoulder, over my head and to my feet. I try not to run off, knowing Sheik won't hurt me, but I don't like this at all. The itch stops suddenly, but I can feel goosebumps on my arms and shiver violently. I open my eyes and gasp, not seeing Sheik or myself. 'It's okay, I'm right here,' I'm still holding his hand and he tugs, starting to walk. I trot after him and look down, it's so weird not seeing my body. 'Don't let go of my hand, or the spell will wear off on you and you'll be spotted,' Sheik thinks and I tighten my hold on his hand. My heart's pounding as we come to the edge of the camp.

As cautiously as we can, we go around the army, sneaking by a group of Harpies. Can they see us? I bump into Sheik when he stops suddenly and I feel his arms wrap around me, pulling me back. 'I think they might smell us,' he thinks and backs up when one of the hybrids looks our way. She walks over like a Keese and I grip Sheik's arms as we get stopped by a tree. The Harpy comes closer and I lean my head back into Sheik's chest, closing my eyes as the Harpy sniffs us. What if she tries to pull us apart? Our cover will be blown.

I smell the Harpy's breath and can picture her mouth opening, when I'm suddenly lifted off my feet. I suppress a scream when I open my eyes, it looks like I'm floating, but I feel my arms around Sheik's shoulders. 'You couldn't warn me?' I ask, flicking the back of his head.

'Wasn't time,' I hear the chuckle in his head, which makes me glare at him. What little help that does. He runs around the camp, much faster than before, and I look back to see the Harpy looking around, confused. Ha.

I look forward and see we're coming close to the Orcs when Sheik stops and, holding my tunic by my shoulder, puts me down and we sneak to the Orcs. This is where we spot a problem. There's no space to get by the Orcs without us touching them. 'You've gotta be kidding, we're so close!' I mind-groan.

'It'll be fine. I can teleport us behind them. We'll have to, the spell will wear off soon,' he tells me and we move forward. I imagine Sheik closing his eyes and a green vortex surrounds us, lifting us off our feet and making us vanish. We land on the other side of the Orcs and I fall over, running my hands down my face. That was horrible. 'Oh no, Link, you're visible!' I look down and find that I had let Sheik go when I fell, and I'm visible once again. Crap. I look behind me and see the Orcs sniffing the air, they haven't caught our sent, have they?

I scramble to my feet and walk backwards, keeping an eye on the Orcs as Sheik grabs my hand and helps me move. He's still invisible, but I can see an outline of him. The spell's wearing off. The Orcs suddenly turn and Sheik and I freeze, hoping that they won't notice us if we're not moving. One of the Orcs, which is smaller, stands straighter and lifts its club up, roaring at us.

“Not good, run!” Sheik hisses and we sprint to the forest, hearing the roaring grow louder and shouts following shortly after. So much for us sneaking by. I don't dare look back as we run across the bridge and to the Lower Lost Woods, where we'll be safe to hide, hopefully. We just make it into the forest when Sheik's spell wears off and we run faster as howls and war cries follow us. We come to a small clearing but find we're at a dead end. We turn to find four Wolfos, five Harpies and two Demons standing there, cornering us.

“You humans are so foolish,” one of the Demons says as an Orc steps out from the trees, grunting. “Thinking you can sneak by us. We live in the night, there's no way you can fight us. Now, hand over the Hylian,” Sheik moves in front of me, much to my annoyance. “Don't be difficult. Our Lord wants it.”

'I'm not an it!' I mind-yell, looking around Sheik glaring at them.

'Link, I'm going to fight them. When I tell you to run, run,' Sheik tells me, taking out his throwing knives.

'I'm not leaving you,' I think, going for my sword and shield.

'You need to get to Ordon, I'll catch up when I can. Just make sure you get out. Turn into a wolf if you have to, just run,' he readies himself as an Orc steps out from behind the trees.

'Sheik-'

'Now!' he yells and throws the knives at the Harpies, sending two to the ground. I pause for a moment before sprinting into the trees. I run until I get far enough to not see them when I stop, hating myself. Why did I run?! I need to help Sheik! I turn to run back, when I see the Orc and three of the Wolfos running at me. With no choice, I run further into the forest, mentally punching myself.

When I see a ten-meter wide hole, I get an idea. A crazy idea, but an idea nonetheless. I run as fast as I can at the hole when I hit the back of my neck, turning into a wolf and leaping over the hole. I land on the other side clumsily and look back at my pursuers, seeing two of the Wolfos fall into the hole. The last one jumps over it, causing me to run again, and the Orc jumps it easily. At least I narrowed down the numbers.

“Get back here, runt!” the Wolfos barks, making me run faster. Then, the Wolfos falls silent. I skid to a stop and turn, finding that the Wolfos is gone. What in Din's Hell? I hear a bark and jump out of the way when the Wolfos jumps at me, trying to pin me. We growl, circling each other, and the Wolfos makes the first move. It snaps forward, but I move back before retaliating and biting its paw. It bites my muzzle, making me let go, and slashes at me, catching the side of my face. I ignore the cut and jump at it, knocking it over. I bite its neck, making it howl in pain, and it rolls over, pinning me instead. In snaps and bites my neck as I scratch its stomach and chest. It tears a bit of my ear off and I clamp my teeth around its paw, tasting blood. I try to ignore the taste and bite down harder, when the Orc comes along and smacks the Wolfos away with its club, killing it instantly. It swings its club down at me, but I roll away and run between its legs, pivoting and biting its ankle.

It kicks back, hitting me back, and turns, slamming its club down. Luckily I move out of the way before it crushes my head. I know I can't take this on, so I run back the way I came, heading to the hole. I don't have the strength to jump it on my own, but I spot a vine hanging over it and smirk. I leap for it and grab it with my teeth, swinging myself over to the other side and landing harshly on my rear. I shake my head and look back, seeing the Orc coming. It charges forward and I get ready, but it forgets about the hole and falls down, causing the ground to shake when it hits the bottom. Panting, I let out a sigh when I hear a shout of pain. Sheik!

Wasting no time, I run through the trees, following the cries and shouts back to the clearing. I jump out of the bushes and see Sheik managed to take down the Demons and all but two of the Harpies, which are giving him trouble. One of the Harpies hits him down with fire and raises its claws to finish him off, but I run at it and jump, grabbing its wing and forcing it away from him. I leap onto the Harpy before it can get up and I snap at its neck as it burns me, but I finally get a good grip on its neck and turn my head sharply, snapping its neck quickly. I jump off of it and see the last Harpy slash Sheik's side as he tries to get up.

Growling, I grab the Harpy's leg and pull it back, making it screech in surprise. With all my strength, I toss it through the air into a tree. It picks itself up and flies at me as I run at it. It flies up, thinking out of my reach, and I jump up after it, snapping at its foot, but it pulls away just in time. I land on my paws as it flies higher up and I crouch low before jumping as high as I can and grabbing the same leg as before. It screeches in surprise, pain and rage and flails, trying to get me off as it flies higher. I try not to think of what will happen if I let go and bite down harder, causing it to screech louder.

Then it turns out to be smart by jabbing me in the eye and I let go. I fall and feel my heart pound as water rushes at me. This is gunna hurt. I smack into the water and gasp as I surface, shaking my head as my fur goes into my eyes. I swim to shore and gasp, looking up to see the Harpy flying back to the camp. We'll need to go soon, unless we want a whole horde after us. I go back to Sheik and push my head into his back. 'Sheik, come on, get up,' I let out a whine when he doesn't respond. 'They'll be back soon, we need to go,' I push him again, but he's out cold.

I go over to a low branch and hit the back of my neck on it, turning back to human. I run over to Sheik and shake him, but he's still out. I look around, there isn't much time, but what can I do? I weigh my options, biting my lip. There's only one thing I can do.

With a lot of struggle, I pick Sheik up and get him on my back, stumbling a bit when I fully get to my feet. Already panting, and covered in injuries, I walk back, retracing our steps to try and find a way to the Upper Lost Woods. I find where we went wrong after what seems like hours. Every now and then I try to rouse Sheik, but nothing happens. As clouds move in and hide the little bit of moonlight, I grow more grateful for my Twilight Sight and keep walking, never stopping in fear that we'll be found or I won't be able to go on.

Eventually, I find the large clearing where the overgrown trees and vines create the floor for the Upper Lost Woods. Now to get up. I walk under the hole and, somehow, I find myself out of the Lower Lost Woods, standing in front of the hole with Sheik still on my back. Weird.

Deciding not to think about it, I turn and head to the exit of the forest, feeling my legs starting to get weak and shaky. I stop walking when I almost fall over, and I lean on a tree to try and stay on my feet, panting loudly. I can't go on for much longer, not when I'm this weak. I don't even know how I got this far.

I look around, it's still dark and I don't want to stay still too long, in case we get found. I'll have to keep going, just until I get to Ordon, then I can collapse. Sucking up my breath, I push off the tree to stand and continue walking, thinking of nothing as I walk.

Hours pass, and the only time I realize where I am is when I see the purple mist still covering Faron Woods. I can't get my lantern out, so I do the only thing I can. I hold my breath and march through the mist, doing my best not the inhale the toxic air. Near the end, I take a small breath and feel the effects right away. I cough and gasp, knowing I need water, but I keep going. Ordon needs to know...

My mind slowly becomes sluggish, and my vision blurs. My legs wobble uncontrollably and I stumble all over, hitting the sides of the tunnel to Faron's Spring and getting more injuries. I know I should stop, I know I should get water and a potion to stop the problem, but I can't. It will be day in a few hours, and the army will leave early. I know they will. I reach Faron's Spring when I find Midna, but I only see the shadow of her. “What happened?”

I buck up and shake my head, acting as if it's just wiriness. I blink and straighten. 'We had a bit of trouble on our way out, Sheik fell unconscious and I carried him. We'll get to Ordon soon, so I'll be fine,' I tell her, starting to walk up th hill. She rolls her eyes, from what I can see through my blurry vision, and goes into my shadow, knowing I won't let her help.

It doesn't take long to get to Ordon and I let out a sigh as my legs buckle, and everything fades.

-Later, Sheik's POV-

I wake and let my mind process what happened before I sit up quickly, ignoring my pounding head. I look around to find I'm in a small, wooden house and spot Link sleeping in a bed and I'm on a couch. “Good, you're awake,” I look at who spoke and see a girl with hair shorter than Link's and green eyes. “It came as a huge surprise when I found you and Link collapsed just outside Ordon. But at least you're both safe. I had to give her a lot of potions to heal.”

“Where am I?” I ask, rubbing my forehead.

“You're in Link's house. Well, her old house anyway. She lived here before going to the Castle. I'm Ilia, we're basically sisters.”

“Link mentioned you before, she said the same thing,” I say.

“You can hear her too? Good, she needs more people to talk to. There's only so much I can get through charades,” Ilia smiles. “I hope she'll be okay, she tends to push herself when it comes to the people she cares about.”

“I know. How did we get here?”

“Link carried you,” Midna says from the corner, making me jump. “She was half-awake on her feet too. How she managed it I have no idea. I blame her stubbornness.”

I look outside, finding that it's still dark outside. “What time is it?”

“It will be dark for about an hour or so still,” Ilia says. “Why? You sound panicked.”

“There is a reason we're here,” Midna says. “There's an army on its way to Hyrule. We got stuck on the wrong side of them while coming back and Link wanted to come and warn Ordon in case they came here, so you could get help. Now that I think about it, it was probably smart we did. I can go to the Castle and warn Zelda about the army. Tell Link to rest as much as she can, war's coming,” she vanishes and I let out a sigh.

“So the rumours are true, Hyrule is going to war,” Ilia sighs sadly, looking at Link. “I hope she'll be okay. She might be older, but she doesn't always act like it.”

“She's innocent, which is hard to be for someone her age,” I sit up straighter.

“I know. She always has been like that. Despite her trials. It's because of that that I don't want to see her in war, she might not like seeing all the death.”

“She won't. She hates killing.”

“...She always goes out of her way to save others, she even does things she hates if it means to save a life. She's been so close to death so many times, the closest she got was when the famine went through a few years ago.”

“I remember that, the City really suffered,” I grimace. Those three years were horrible.

“Link was thirteen and I was twelve when the famine hit. Ordon was hit hard, too, our crops failed and so many of our goats died of illnesses. We could barely scrape by with the little people who live here. Most of the food went to the young kids, then Link and I would get food, then the adults. No one knew this during the time, but Link would sneak her portions to the kids when they weren't looking, so they could eat more. We didn't notice anything wrong about her at first, she had always been small and skinny after all, and we were all suffering because of it. I first noticed something wrong when she would slow down and pant whenever we ran around a bit, she would double over and gasp for air. Whenever I asked her if anything was wrong, she'd shake her head and smile, passing it off and would continue running, only to have trouble breathing again a few minutes later. One day, she just collapsed. She was getting water for the last few surviving goats, when she fainted. We didn't realize where she was until it got dark. Rusl and I went out to find her, and I saw her laying there, motionless. I panicked and rushed over to her, picking her up, and was surprised about how light she was. I took her to Rusl's and Uli and I were changing her when we saw what she looked like. She was a walking skeleton. She was eating just enough to get her by for almost an entire year, but she was starving herself to feed the kids. She got so sick after fainting, her fever was high and she was so pale. I sat with her the entire time, feeling guilty. Why hadn't I noticed earlier? Why didn't I give some of my portions to the kids? The guilt hurt more every day as Link lay in bed, slowly getting worse and worse. We fed her as much as we could, but it didn't do much. We didn't want to risk giving her potion, it never works on an empty stomach. One day, when I was sitting by her and watching her, she opened her eyes. It was a week after she collapsed and her eyes were so dull, so lifeless. It was hard seeing her like that. She saw me and smiled, her usual, casual smile that told me everything would be alright. I didn't know if I should believe it. I couldn't look her in the eye, I was still guilty. She held my hand, making me look up at her. She just smiled, and I smiled back. Her eyes had a shine to them, like usual. Somehow, I knew she'd be alright, even though she was so close to dieing. Two weeks later, she was walking again and was slowly recovering. I made sure she ate her share, and stopped her from giving it to the kids.”

I shake my head, looking at Link. “She's so reckless. When will she learn that others care about her?”

“She knows, she just doesn't want anyone to get hurt. I understand what you mean, and I wish she would let others help her,” Ilia looks down at her hands. “Sheik, don't tell this to Link at all, but I'm going to the Castle. I'm going to hide as a guard and help take care of her. She's helped me so much, I need to repay her. I'll come with you to the Castle, saying I'm just visiting Rusl, he's been there a lot lately with the threat of war, and I'll go talk to Zelda. We might not be close, but I need to tell her my plan.”

“It will be hard, and dangerous. You won't be able to talk to Link, or guess what she's saying. She'll know it's you,” I tell her.

“Link's entire life is dangerous, and I can live with that. I need to keep an eye on her, my sister needs me now more than ever,” she says. I can tell that she has the same Ordonian stubbornness as Link, and nothing I say will make her change her mind.

“Be careful. She'll hate herself if anything happens to you,” I warn.

“I'm aware and ready for whatever's to come. The only reason I haven't helped Link so far with this is because...” she pauses, faltering for a moment. She looks torn between telling me and keeping whatever it is secret. “You can't tell anyone what I'm about to say. Understand? I'm not even supposed to tell you.”

“You have my word.”

“...Colin's sick. He's been sick for a while, and he hasn't gotten any better. Potions aren't helping at all. We don't know how he got sick, but we assume he got an infection of some sort. I went to Hyrule to tell this to Link, but then I found out she was going on another adventure. I couldn't have told her, she would have come here without a second thought.”

I look down, Link told me about Colin the night she was getting over being sick from magic. He's like a little brother to Link.

Wait a second, I still have Rosyn Berries! I pull out the jar they're in, smiling slightly. “Here,” I get up and put the jar on the table. “These are Rosyn Berries, they'll cure anything. Give them to Colin and I'm positive they'll help.”

Ilia tentatively takes the jar. “Are you sure this will cure him?”

“Yes. They can cure anything. They only grow in the desert, so you wouldn't find them here. I'll look after Link,” I assure her and she smiles.

“Thanks Sheik!” she runs out of the house and I shake my head. I walk over to Link's bed and sit beside her, running my hand over her head. She shifts a bit before opening her eyes slowly, her gaze is hazy.

“Hey, are you okay? You did a lot yesterday.”

'I'm fine. Just a little tired. Are you alright?'

“Thanks to you. Carrying me all this way was probably really hard.”

'Yeah, you're kinda heavy.'

“Not to mention you're kind of small.”

'That too,' she looks around as she sits up. I help her and she smiles gratefully. 'Thanks. It's strange being back home. But it's nice. Was Ilia here?'

“Yes, she's gone to tell Rusl about the army.”

And cure Colin, I think to myself.

She lets out a sigh of relief. 'Good. I hope the others won't be too mad,' she looks out the window, biting her lip.

“I'm sure they understand. I just hope that they haven't been found by the army.” Her eyes widen, guess she hadn't thought of that.

'Oh no, what if they try to look for us but they are found by the army? It'll be my fault!' she thinks.

“Don't go doing anything stupid,” I say, taking her hand. “And it's not your fault, okay? I left a note for them before we left, they know where we are.”

She lets out a breath. 'We'll need to get to the Castle soon, we don't want to be caught behind the army.'

“Yeah, we'll go when the sun comes up,” I tell her when Ilia comes back.

“You're awake,” she smiles. “Good, I was starting to get worried. So you'll leave soon?”

“Yes, it would be best if we got to the Castle quickly.”

“Okay, can I come with you? I want to visit Rusl and tell him something,” Ilia says.

Link blinks curiously, making Ilia smile. “One of the horses had a stomach problem or infection, but they're healed up now.” I'm guessing she means Colin.

Link nods 'okay' and lies back down to rest a bit. “Sheik, can you go and get some water?”

I shrug. “Sure.”

-Link's POV-

When Sheik leaves, Ilia looks at me, a knowing look in her eyes. “Have you told each other yet?” I nod, laughing. “Took long enough. It's obvious that you like each other.” I know, I know, I was an idiot. “Don't think of yourself as stupid. It was the first time you felt that type of love. I'm happy for you though, you deserve it after all you've done.” I flush, I don't really. “Will you be okay during the war?” she asks, hesitant.

I shrug. I really have no idea. The army was scary, but I think I have yet to see the worst. All I can hope is that we win. If we don't, Hyrule will fall, and become just like the Old Hyrule, barren and lifeless. That can't happen. I won't let it happen. That land had been beautiful before it was taken over, it can't happen again.

“I wish you the best of luck.” I smile and sit up again, only to get hugged by my 'sister'. “Don't do anything you'll regret.”

I nod and we part the hug. Sheik comes back with a water bucket and puts it on the table. “Here's the water you wanted,” he says.

“Thanks,” Ilia takes it and dumps it over my head, making me cough and sputter. “That's for pushing yourself. I'll see you later.” She leaves, looking satisfied at soaking me.

'I was wondering why she wanted water,' I think, taking my hat off and wringing it out.

Sheik smirks. “I would have done that too. You can't always be helping others. You could have stopped and waited for me to wake up.”

'But then we would have been caught, and it would have been pointless to get here. Besides, I wasn't sure how much time I had, I just assumed that time was running out. I'd have hate it if we waited and came here to find Ordon ruined.'

“I admit that your idea was reckless, but it's for the best. Plus the news will be passed to Zelda before the army shows up. When do you want to leave for the Castle?”

'We should go an hour or so after the sun comes up. Ilia will have a fit if she sees I'm walking so soon despite having little rest.'

“That I can understand. Alright, get some rest, I'm going to look out for any signs of the army,” he says and kisses my cheek, making me blush a bit. “Rest tight.”

'Yeah...' I shake my head out of the daze. 'Be safe.' He nods and leaves again. With nothing else to distract me, I lie down for some rest.

I half expect to wake up to screaming, but when I wake next, I only hear birds chirping, which I'm happy about. Sunlight shines through my window and I yawn as I sit up, stretching and scratching my head. I look around my house to find neither Sheik or Ilia are back, but shrug it off and stand, wanting to move around a bit. I walk over to my clothes chest and shake my head to myself when I see my old clothes. The Ordonian outfit didn't feel right to wear after the Twilight, but maybe I should try them on again, just to see if anything has changed.

I look at myself through the mirror, hardly recognizing myself. I don't feel as out-of-place as I had several months ago, but I still don't feel the same I once did. These clothes made me feel so happy, like I was a real part of the village even with my differences. But now, it's an even clearer reminder of how much my life has changed in only a year.

“Hey, Link, you awake...Link?” I see Sheik's reflection through the mirror and give him a small smile.

'It took a few seconds to figure out it was me, didn't it?' I ask. I watch him walk over and he wraps his arms around me, putting his head on mine. My face heats up a little, I'm not yet used to this, but I like it.

“No, but I was surprised, that's for sure,” he smirks. “I think a tunic suits you more.”

'A year ago I thought tunics were stupid, then I was forced to wear one. I didn't like it until I got to Hyrule Castle Town, since I was used to it at that point. I almost forgot how I looked in my Ordonian clothes. Now I can only remember when I have them on.'

“A year ago you were still a goat herder,” he points out with a chuckle. I roll my eyes.

'And a year ago you didn't know I was alive.'

“Touché.”

'Do you think we can win this war?' I ask suddenly.

“I know we can. We can't afford any doubt, Link. Doubt will ruin Hyrule.”

'Not if those Demons ruin it first. Sheik, what if Ghirahim does something to make it so I join them?'

“Like what?”

'I dunno, like force me to hurt a friend or something.'

“I'm sure you'll know what to do. You're a quick thinker, you do well under pressure.”

'Most of the time. Sometimes I get too nervous.'

“Everyone does. Come on, we should get going. Do you want to see anyone from the village?”

'I would like to, but...'

“But?”

'But what if we stay too long? The kids will want me to stay the night, and we need to get to the Castle. Do you have any idea how hard it is to say 'no' to them? They don't listen.'

“I guess you're right. Okay then, get ready. I'll tell Ilia that we're going, they deserve to know you at least came.”

'Okay,' I nod and he lets go. It doesn't take long to get ready, so I go out and call for Epona, rubbing her nose when she gallops up to me. I don't see Sheik yet, so I tack up her saddle. I may need the extra grip if I fight on her. I hope I don't have to, fighting King Bulbin and Ganny on her back was hard, and she got a few injuries too. Not that I let Ilia find out, she'd have my head.

“'Ello, Hero,” I jump at the voice and look up, seeing Majora sitting on one of the branches of a tree. “Been a while. Put that sword away,” she says, but I don't sheath the Master Sword. “I'm only here to deliver a message,” she throws a dead bird at me and I realize it's the hawk I had sent to Zelda days ago. The note it has is the one I tried to send. “Too bad your Princess doesn't know about the one sapping magic, because the culprit is sapping hers,” I snap my head up and glare at Majora, but the Demigoddess only laughs shrilly. “She'll be weak as a baby soon enough, and with that traitor Twili there, her magic will be sapped too. Isn't life just grand?”

I growl at her, wanting nothing more than to slice her head off. She just laughs again, standing. “Well, my current job is done. Sweet travels. Not like you'll make it to the Castle before the army, they're already passed this village.” My eyes widen in surprise. “Oh, honestly, you didn't think Ghirahim would leave out any chances, did you? He knew perfectly well that you were sneaking by the camp to get to here, which is why he bypassed the village completely. Not like there's anything here, so you didn't have to worry about this pathetic place at all. Hope you feel proud of yourself,” she vanishes before I can pull out my bow.

I curse loudly in my head, as if wanting her to hear how I feel about her. I lay the hawk down behind the tree, teeth gritted. How could I have been so stupid? I should have realized it would be obvious that I came here. And why would Ghirahim have anything to do with this place? I clench my fists before running into my house. I grab my weapons and tunic, toss my hat on my head, write a note to Sheik telling him where I'm going, and leave, jumping onto Epona's back. She takes off at once, sensing something wrong.

We get to Hyrule Field when I pull Epona to a stop. I guide her behind a willow and dismount, looking around the trunk. Good thing we stopped, the army is ahead of us. They're slowly moving along, pushing and pulling tall towers on wheels. What could they be for? Ghirahim is at the front, sitting high on his horse. He's looking around, probably to find anyone who could be a problem. How will I get passed them? They're taking the shortest route to the Castle, I'll have to go through Kakariko and over Eldin's Bridge. I mount Epona and we take off again, faster than before.

It's midday by the time we get to Kakariko, and I fear that I'm too late. The village is still abandoned from when Rocky was spotted above Death Mountain and it reminds me of a ghost town. I push the thoughts aside and slow Epona by the Spring so she can get a drink. I dismount and sit on a rock, my leg bounces as I look at the other end of Kakariko. Please don't let me be late, please let the army be held back by something.

Epona nudges my back suddenly, pushing me off the rock before she grabs the back of my shirt in her teeth and pulls me back behind the dome building. I rub my butt as I look up at Epona, confused. She paws the ground nervously, tossing her head as she fights the instinct to run. From what, I'm not sure. I crawl to the edge of the dome and look around, pulling back so only half my face is showing. Three Moblins and a large stone creature enter the village, the Moblins with spears and shields and the stone thing without a weapon. Not like it needs them, it has clubs for hands.

I crab-crawl away from the edge and look at Epona, who's looking at the other end of the village nervously. I'm not sure if we can, or should, make a break for it. I chance looking around the dome again and find one of the Moblins sniffing the air and turn its beady eyes in our direction. I pull back and stand, pulling out my bow as I wave for Epona to run to the Graveyard. But she stays and tosses her head. I smile and peek a look. The Moblins are coming while the stone creature stays back.

I don't know if I can take them. I'm not even sure how strong that stone creature is or what it is for that matter. But I can't think about this now, I can't take these guys on, it will slow me down. I'll have to run out with Epona. I mount her and she doesn't even let me settle myself properly before running off, with me half-way on the saddle. I grab her saddle tightly and turn my head to see the Moblins chasing us, the stone creature is staying back. I try to pull myself into the saddle, but I can't manage it. Shoot.

One of the Moblins roars and I gulp, looking over in time to see it throw its spear at us. I let out a short scream and Epona rears up, neighing loudly as the spear stabs several feet into the ground where she just was. I lose my grip on the saddle and start falling, getting stopped short when my foot gets tangled in the straps. Hanging upside-down, I'm suddenly jerked forward as Epona runs for the only way out, being steered by her instinct alone. I frantically try to reach for the saddle, but dust, dirt and rocks fly into my face and eyes, forcing me to close them in a feeble attempt to not get blinded.

I hear a snap and I gasp as I fall, hitting the ground hard and getting the wind knocked out of me. I take in a shaky breath and roll over to my side, wrapping my arms around my middle and opening my eyes to see Epona skid to a stop. She turns and I see three shadows appear in front of me. I gulp, the Moblins are right behind me. Will they get me if I play dead? I'm sure it won't be easy. I look at Epona, wishing for her to run as I hold my breath, she needs to get out of here.

The ground rumbles slightly under the Moblins' footsteps. Bits of rock and dirt fly on me as the trio of pig-like beasts stop. The air is filled with a tense silence as I close my eyes, waiting for them to do something. I hope they leave. I'm running out of time.

I feel a large, fleshy finger poke my back, pushing me over to my stomach and making my arm get stuck under me. “Is it alive?” one asks as the finger continues to poke me.

“Move over, let me see,” the poking stops, but fingers wrap around my middle and I'm lifted. My head falls forward as I'm lifted and the Moblin holding me sniffs me gently. I risk taking in small breathes of air, I can't let them suspect anything. “I can't tell. If it is, then too bad, if it isn't, it's a good tricker,” the Moblin holding me says. I'm shifted around a bit and peek my eye open to see it pull out a potato sack. You've got to be kidding me. It throws me in and I land in an awkward position on my back, one arm under me, the other stuck between my body and the sack, and my legs sticking up above me with my head being pushed towards my stomach. The smell of mold and musky straw greets me as the top of the sack is closed and I resist gagging, trying my best to breath through my mouth. Ew, I think I can taste it.

“What will we do with it?”

“Isn't it obvious? We take it to that weird human being and see what he'll do with it. He'll know if its alive or not.” Please tell me they're not talking abou Ghirahim or Zant.

I hear a sudden sound of metal ripping through flesh and the Moblin holding the sack drops me. I land on the ground harshly, I think I landed on a rock, but remain still, listening to what's going on outside. Rushing footsteps run over the dirt, followed by grunts and thuds. The sides of the sack are seized and I'm lifted up again before the bag opens and I land on my tailbone, cringing and gritting my teeth. 'The Goddesses love laughing at me,' I think dully, shaking my head.

“Of course, it's amusing,” I look up to see Midna. She smirks. “You didn't think playing dead would fool me, did you?” she asks, picking me up by my arm and getting me to my feet. I look around to see that the Moblins are running and the rock creature is coming towards us, creating a barrel-sized crater with each step. Midna turns and magic cloaks her hands. “This shouldn't be too hard. Stay back, we don't need you broken,” she tells me and teleports behind the rock creature, hitting it with a magically summoned spear. It turns slowly, showing me a dent in its shoulder where the spear hit, and stomps towards Midna, swinging its club down to intimidate her. She's unfazed and sends another magic spear at the creature, knocking its arm off.

I grin, thinking it will be easier now, but the creature lifts the little stub of its arm and rocks fly to it, making the arm bigger than it was before. It continues to bring more boulders towards it and soon it's bigger than the dome and covered in a thick armour of stone. Crap, shit and everything in between.

“Oh, Twili Lord!” Midna swears, teleporting out of the way of its foot. “Why are things never easy?”

'Because life loves screwing with us?' I suggest as I run from a boulder being thrown at me.

The stone creature suddenly grabs Midna and tries to crush her, but I bring out a bomb arrow and shoot, hitting the creature in the eye. It grunts and Midna teleports out of its hand, only to land on me. It's my turn to grunt as I fall forward and I cough when dust flies up into my face. “Thanks for cushioning my fall, Link,” Midna says cheekily as she smiles at me. I scowl and push her off, well, try to anyway.

'Never again. And get off me!' She gets off and grabs the back of my shirt, lifting me up to my feet. 'I think we can only kill it with bombs.'

“What gave you that idea?” Midna asks sarcastically.

'Never thought I would ask this, but can you magic me up there?' I ask. She blinks, smirking.

“Finally over it?” a Twilight-like mist covers me as I'm lifted a few inches off the ground.

'Nope,' she teleports me onto the stone creature's head before she can register what I said. I land clumsily on my feet and grab a small crack in the creature's head so I don't fall off. I pull out my bomb bag, but I find I have none left. Oh, come on! Taking a deep breath, I take out the Megaton Hammer. This might not go well. A spear of magic stabs the stone creature in the shoulder and I stumble a bit, looking down. Midna's once again shooting the creature, making it swing at her.

Taking advantage of its distraction, I lift the hammer up and bring it down, causing a large indent to form on the creature's head. It grunts and stops, bringing its club-hand up. I can see where this is going. With a yelp, I jump off its head and land on its shoulder as it brings the club down. It hits itself and gives a long, low grunt of pain as its head caves in. I gasp when a part of the head falls on its shoulder, almost crushing me, and I back up into its head, since it has no neck at all. Big mistake, it finds me and shakes, making me drop the Megaton Hammer to hold onto the broken head. How is it still alive?

One of Midna's spears hits the center of the stone creature's chest, making it fall to one knee, and I notice a small glow in its chest and get an idea of how to kill it. 'Midna, keep hitting its chest!' I mind-yell, leaning forward as if that will make my thoughts louder.

She summons six spears and I pull back when she sends them. They hit the center of the chest, making the hole bigger and the glow shine brighter out of the chest. When she sends her last spear, I slide down the shoulder towards the chest, grabbing a shard on the outside ring of the hole. I take out the staff Zelda gave me and concentrate on my emotions. I feel confident and sure this will work. What will that do?

My question is answered when a gust of icy wind shoots out of the orb on top and enters the glowing hole. The stone creature grunts and brings its club up to hit me, but I let go and it hits its chest. The creature falls apart, sounding like an avalanche. Midna stops my decent by surrounding me with magic and she teleports to the top of the cliffs around Kakariko. She drops me beside her and I sit up, watching the stone creature fall in on itself. I lift my arm to shield my eyes and when the shaking and rumbling stops, I lower my arm, finding the creature gone. Whew.

“That took way too much time. The good news is the army got held back by one of the Harpies going crazy and attacking Ghirahim,” Midna says, teleporting us back to the Spring.

'I hope he got an infection,' I mind-mutter as I go to call Epona.

“Come on, we'll Warp,” Midna grabs my sleeve and warps us in front of Castle Town. Everything seems...darker about the city. “Zelda is already preparing everything. It's crazy how fast she comes up with plans. You're in charge of making sure she doesn't overload herself,” she goes into my shadow as I enter the gates to see a few citizens rushing around. I run to the Castle, not wanting to waste anymore time than I already have, and make it to the Throne Room. I open the door, but Zelda's not here. Maybe she's in her study. I run there, but when I come close, I hear voices coming from inside. I slow down and put my ear to the door to listen.

“-k you, Princess. I look forward to dining with you this evening.” That sounds like Pretty Boy, what's he doing back so soon? What about his caravan? The doorknob turns and I hide behind a suit of armour. I have no idea why. I wait until after his footsteps fade before opening the door. Zelda's sitting at her desk, sorting papers and scrolls.

'Hi, Zelly,' I greet. She smiles without looking up.

“Good to see you back. I was worried you got stuck behind the army.”

'Almost was. But that doesn't matter. Zelda, a few days ago I sent a hawk to you with some pretty big information. Did you ever get it?'

“No.”

'Crap, didn't think so. Apparently, someone has been sapping Vaati's magic since he first arrived here. He was really on edge and was short-tempered when we were going to the Wind Tribe, and Shadow explained that they tried to tell one of us, but something happened or they just couldn't. Then when I was at Ordon, Majora showed up. She killed the hawk and told me that since Vaati's gone at the moment, your magic is going to be sapped, along with Midna's.'

Her quill creates a messy squiggle as she looks up, alarmed. “What?” she asks. All her politeness flies out the window when she swears at my nod. “No wonder I've felt tired the last few days.”

Midna comes out, crossing her arms. “So I'm going to be targeted too?”

'That's what Majora said,' I nod. 'I'm not sure who the person is. Shadow thinks its someone inside the Castle.'

“So we've had a traitor here?” Zelda asks.

'Well,' I rub the back of my neck, 'I was thinking it was someone who was never really an ally. Someone who wasn't trusted from the start.'

“You mean Edward,” Zelda says bluntly. “Link, I know you don't like him, but you need proof about this.”

“And how do you know Shadow wasn't lying?” Midna asks, raising an eyebrow.

'He seemed pretty serious about the whole thing. And I have a gut feeling he was telling the truth.”

“We'll think about it later. Right now we need to get ready for the siege,” Zelda sits back down, pulling over a new paper. “I'll keep it in mind, just don't jump to conclusions.”

'Alright.'

“Where's Sheik?”

'I'm not sure. I left him a note at Ordon telling him where I was going. I was worried you're magic was being sapped already, and didn't want to waste time,' I think, starting to feel a little guilty for not telling him face-to-face. I don't want him to worry too badly.

“I'm just going to go and see if I can spot the others coming back,” Midna turns to the door, but pauses. “Oh, and Link has a boyfriend,” she teleports before I can hit her.

'I could have told her that myself!' I mind-yell at the place where she had been.

Zelda laughs and I turn, only to get a hug from my friend. “I knew it. I had a feeling you wouldn't remain clueless forever,” she steps back.

'Yeeeah, I was really oblivious,' I shrug. 'But what can I say? Er, think. I had other stuff on my mind.'

“We all did.”

'So, what where you talking about with Pretty Boy?' I think, changing the subject. 'I heard him say something about dining?'

“Nosy eavesdropper,” I grin sheepishly. “He couldn't find his caravan, so he came back and asked if he could talk to me over dinner.”

'I don't trust it.'

“I know you don't, I don't either, but this is good. We can find out more about him this way.”

'You don't expect him to just spill out all his secrets, do you?'

“Of course not. All we know about him is that he is the last of his hometown and that he's a knight. We have nothing else on him.”

'How do you suppose we'll find anything good? And how?'

“Well, I was thinking you could spy on him.”

I laugh. 'Me? A spy? I don't think so. He'd find me in no time.'

“Not if you're bug-sized,” she grins.

'No. I've had enough fun being the size of a Minish, thanks,' I put my hands in front of me, taking a step back.

“Link, I don't trust Edward any more than you do. You can easily keep an eye on him,” I see a knowing spark in her eye. “And this way, you can find out if he is the one sapping magic.”

Jeez, use my words against me, why don't ya? 'Fine,' I cross my arms in defeat. 'But I won't like it.'

“You'll be fine. In fact, there's someone here who can help you get around faster,” Zelda smiles behind me as the door opens and I turn to see a boy my age standing there, grinning. He has grey hair and brown eyes, and it's hard to miss the whiskery moustache he has.

“There you are! I panicked after I lost you in Hylia Village. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get around as a rat?” he says.

I look at Zelda. 'Is this Rouge?' I was wondering where he went. He just disappeared.

“He did mention you called him that. Link, you make strange friends with Demigods.”

'...What?' I jump when Rouge pokes my back.

“Lune told me you needed help back at the Sheikah Palace. Since he's so busy all the time, he thought I should keep an eye on you. To make sure you stayed alive,” Rouge shrugs. I rub my forehead. This is too much. “Oh! And Nettle, the Demigoddess of Life, says you're welcome for making that vine-bridge.”

'Zelly, my head hurts,' I mind-whine.

“Rouge, stop telling her about Demigods and Goddesses who are helping us/her.”

“Okay, I'll stop. So, ready to spy a little?” he grins at me and turns into a rat. “I can't wait forever.”

Wait, how can he talk while he's a rat? Then why didn't he talk before? I look at Zelda, but she's gone back to her work. “Tell me if you find out anything important. I'll be having dinner with Edward just before sunset, so get back here by then.”

'I'll try,' I think, biting my lip as I grab the stone. Then I remember. 'Hey, where's Navi?'

“I sent her to watch the army. Now go,” Zelda says and Rouge wraps his tail around me to put me on his back.

“So, know where this Edward guy lives?” he asks, looking at me through the corner of his eye.

I shake my head. Though, something in the back of my memory is stirring. Something about some papers. Why is this coming up so suddenly? When did I ever live in this memory? I remember being an all fours. So I was a wolf at the time. Was it when I was a pup, maybe?

With a jolt, I sit up. I can't remember what those papers said, but I know where we need to go. I tug Rouge's ears to get him to turn and he runs, letting me guide him to the room we need to get to. We come to a stop at the door, I hope it's right, it's hard to tell while I'm this size, and I get off Rouge. “Are you sure this is the room?” I shrug. “Worth a shot, I guess. I think I hear someone inside. Be careful not to get stepped on. You haven't come this far to get killed.”

Thanks for the vote of confidence. I crawl under the door and smile. I got the right room after all. Pretty Boy's standing by the window, looking deep in thought. I run and hide behind a plant pot, keeping an eye out. Nothing happens, and I start to get bored, when the doors open and a person comes in. They're covered in a cloak, so I can make out any details other then the fact that they're about Twili tall.

“So, has she accepted your invite?” the voice is hushed, low and raspy, but I can make out that it's a woman.

“Yes. Quiet foolishly, might I add. This Princess claims to have the Triforce of Wisdom? She's far too gullible, yet far too observant for me to do anything big.” I don't like the sounds of this.

“Whoever said she was wise? I never did. And she doesn't suspect you at all?”

“She suspects me, a little too much for my liking. And that Knight of her's didn't trust me from the start. That was smart, but I fear that the Hero of Hyrule may have caught wind of our plans.”

“Which is why you've been coming and going so often so as to stay away from 'im, blah blah blah. But do you honestly think he'll be stupid enough to try and approach you about it?”

“As surprising as it is, the Hero isn't an idiot. Childish, yes, oblivious, perhaps, a moron, completely, but he knows what's going on around him and knows how to deal with it.”

Geez, I don't know whether to take that as a complement or an insult.

“Could it be he knows who's been sapping the magic out of that Wind Mage?”

“I wouldn't doubt that that clone of his told him. They are, after all, like brothers,” Pretty Boy turns from the window to face the cloaked woman. “Are they ready?”

“Yepparoonie. They await your orders, Sir Edwaard,” the woman laughs and my eyes widen. That sounds like Majora's laugh.

“It's Edward,” Pretty Boy says irritably.

“Whatever, Edwort. So, what am I gunna do until you have your dinner date with the Princess?”

“You're to go to the caravan and await further orders. And don't do anything stupid.”

Caravan? Does he mean the army? Is he part of it? Oh crap. If that's true, then he's been able to map the inside of the Castle, probably looking for weaknesses and secret passages. He's had all the time in the world, and he knows exactly what's going on. If he's a spy for the army, then he's been able to give them critical information about the Castle and the people in it. Well, it's a good thing Zelda convinced me to spy on him.

The woman turns and I hide further behind the pot, seeing her shadow on the wall before the door opens and closes. I risk taking a peek at Pretty Boy to see he's sitting at his desk, writing hastily on a piece of paper. What could that say? I hear a squeak and look up to see Rouge on the wardrobe. He points to Pretty Boy with his tail before pointing to himself then the door. What does he think? That Pretty Boy's just going to follow a rat?

He smirks and jumps from the wardrobe, turning into his human form and coughing into his hand to gain Pretty Boy's attention. “Oh, it's you,” Pretty Boy scowls. “What do you want? Aren't you busy with your little rats?”

“I have other business to attend to.”

“I gave you orders to follow that Hero, did you?”

“Nope. He found out about my plans somehow and almost cut me in half. I don't dare go close to him again.”

“You are a Demigod, correct? Can't you just keep him still?”

“When I'm a rat, I am as mortal as a human. I'll get killed and sent back to the Goddesses Realm, where I'll have to wait a year to return. Do you really think you can do this without my help?”

“I don't need help from someone who's close to Hylia,” Pretty Boy says bitterly.

“Oh, don't get touchy. It's not her fault she wasn't to be reborn this generation, is it? It would have caused more mayhem for you anyway. She would have known who you were from the start. She would have recognized you the moment she saw you and your plans would have been ruined. I'm sure you wouldn't want that.”

“What are you here for, Rat God?” he snaps. “If you haven't noticed, I have only a short time before my plans fall into action.”

“Yes well, I wouldn't hope for that. I saw someone outside this door, spying on you and your company. Don't know who they were, but I assure you they'll inform the Princess when they see her,” Pretty Boy stands so fast the chair falls back.

“I will look for them at once. Excuse me,” he rushes out of the room, nudging the pot a little and making me move with it to keep in hiding. The door slams shut and Rouge laughs, crouching down and looking around the pot.

“Such a gullible fool. He'll do anything if it means keeping his plan alive. Now, you might want to see this letter,” he picks me up and takes me to the table, putting me beside the paper. “He was about to send a letter to a particularly named being. You may want to read it.”

I look down at the letter and read as well as I can, the rushed words are scribbles and ink blots cover the page. My eyes widen as I read down the page. I knew it. He's sneaking information to Majora and Ghirahim! The door creaks and Rouge snatches me off the table, hiding me behind his back as he stands in the middle of the room, in the spot he was in before.

“Whoever was spying is long gone, they didn't even go to the Princess. They probably ran out of fear. The fool,” Pretty Boy says as he walks around. Rouge turns as he does, keeping his back to the door. “So,” I hear the chair being moved, “what other news do you have for me?”

“Not much. All I know is that the Hero is back at the Castle, and I believe the Princess mentioned he'll be serving you tonight.”

Aww man, I don't wanna do that.

“Is he? Well, that will make for an interesting dinner. I've heard he's rather clumsy.”

“To a fault.” Shut up, Rouge.

“You are dismissed, I'll wait for you return,” Pretty Boy says when the door creaks open. Uh-oh, the person will see me! I look up to see Rouge looking over his shoulder. The door opens and I only catch a glimpse of someone before Rouge cups his hands around me.

“Sir Edward, your dinner with the Princess will be soon. She sent me to tell you,” it's a maid. Thank goodness.

“I see, thank you,” the door closes. “Well, Rat God, I must get ready. You are free to leave now,” the chair moves and I peek through Rouge's fingers to see Pretty Boy's hand on his back, guiding him to the door. Luckily Pretty Boy opens the door for Rouge and he walks out, turning his back just before the door closes.

“Hahaha,” Rouge laughs as he slips into a small room and puts me down. “He really was a fool. Turn back to normal already, before something happens.”

He turns into a rat as I grow and I let him crawl up my arm and onto my shoulder. Then he goes into my hair. I exit the room and walk along. If I run, I'll alert Pretty Boy and he'll think I've been spying. Which I have.

I go back to Zelda's study and see a maid tying Zelda's hair into a braid. “Good, you're here. This may be short notice, but could you serve Sir Edward and me tonight?”

'I heard you said that, and sure. Not like I have much of a choice, anyway,' I think, nodding.

“Thank you,” Zelda says to the maid, who bows and leaves the room. “Well?”

I explain what I heard and Zelda's pacing by the time I'm finished. “I see, so he is giving information to Ghirahim and Majora. Did you ever see what the woman looked like?”

'No, she kept her hood up and her voice was low and raspy, it was hard to understand at some points.'

“Thank you, Link. Well, we'd better get you into some better clothes,” I look down at my tunic. I don't see anything wrong. “We don't want you to look sloppy.”

She hands me a royal blue tunic and grey breeches. “Put these on quickly, we'll be meeting him soon.”

Once I'm in the fancier clothes and Rouge runs of to who-knows-where, I follow Zelda to the Mess Hall. No one's around today, they might be preparing for the siege. “Now Link, I know I've never treated you like you were below me, so don't get angry at whatever Edward says. He may treat you like dirt and won't take kindly if you do something rude. Like flip him off,” I nod, though I smirk at the thought. “Just keep your temper in check.”

'I'll try.'

“That's all I ask,” Zelda sits down at the table and I stand behind her, hands behind my back. Pretty Boy enters and bows, sitting down beside Zelda.

The servants come in, set the food and leave, and all the while I notice Pretty Boy shoot me spiteful looks. I just keep my face blank. As I serve the two, I feel my heart start to beat faster for some reason. I feel something warm on my hand and look down, finding my Triforce is glowing. I grab a cloth and wrap it around my hand, tightening it with my teeth, and continue to serve, trying to ignore the growing warmth and my beating heart.

“So, is it alright if I ask why one so young is on the throne?” Pretty Boy asks.

“It's common knowledge. My mother died when I was young and my father died a few years ago. I was the only successor, so I was givin the throne,” I see Zelda's knuckles turn white while holding a knife and fork. I try not to glare at Pretty Boy, he doesn't even seem too concerned. Couldn't he tell it wasn't an easy topic to talk about for Zelda?

“I'm sorry for you loss. Who raised you then?”

“The servants raised me until I was fourteen, then I started gaining responsibility and had to act like a ruler.”

“You were so young. Did you not have a childhood?”

“I did, just not a long one. I knew since I was little that I wouldn't have a normal childhood, but I do not mind. I love helping my subjects and giving them hope.”

“Hope. Can you really provide it forever?”

“I know I can't, but while it's there, I'll make sure my people know.”

“Pour me more wine,” Pretty Boy says to me.

I do as he says and pour the wine. He notices my Triforce glowing and grabs my wrist, making me almost spill the wine all over his robes. “Ah, I forgot that you carry the Triforce of Courage. Tell me, Princess, does this boy really have the courage that this relic gives?”

“He has more than you would imagine. The Triforce is not what makes us who we are, it contributes to our skills, yes, but not us as a whole. Link is not always brave, nor is he always keen on things.” That's putting it lightly. “But he is brave when it counts.”

“When does it count?”

“I'm sure you can figure that out,” Zelda smiles. I tug my wrist away from Pretty Boy and put down the bottle before I spill it everywhere.

“I heard from the town that you're father was the King's personal knight.” I nod, Zelda told me the exact same when she chose me to be her knight. “It seems it runs in the family. I also heard you look like your father, except your hair is blonde like your mothers. Was her's as messy?” I shake my head. “Do you have any photos of them?” I put my hand in my Never-Ending Bag. I stored the photo I got from Charlie in there. “May I see it?”

I look at his outstretched hand suspiciously. The photo doesn't have anything that will reveal me as a girl, but I don't know if I want to give the one picture of me and my family to a man I distrust. He lowers his hand awkwardly when I shake my head. “I see, personal attachment. You know, it's never good for thoughts to linger on the dead. It won't bring them back.”

'I know, but that doesn't mean you have to forget about them,' I think to myself.

“Sir Edward, I would advise not to go any further. Family is a touchy subject for either of us,” Zelda cuts in.

“Yes, I understand, yes. But I have one last thing to ask,” Pretty Boy looks me right in the eye and my Triforce burns for some reason. “How did you're parents know they gave birth to a Hero? Surely naming you Link was no coincidence.” I shrug. I really don't know. Charlie hasn't told me yet why my parents gave me a boy's name. “Does the Triforce appear when you are born?”

“Sometimes, yes, the Triforce appears the day we're born. But sometimes, it shows up later, when we are older or sometimes even just before we find out who we truly are,” Zelda explains. “I didn't have mine until I was fourteen.”

“The same age you become the ruler of Hyrule I see.”

“Yes.”

“So, were you born with it?”

I shrug again. I've had it as long as I can remember, so maybe. I can't be positive though.

“Do you know how the Triforce was brought to Hyrule?” we both shake our heads. “I do. Well, somewhat. There was an old tomb back in Termina that told me about it. It's said that the first Hero,” I notice his eyes flash with intense loathing for a second, “got it. When he completed three trials, he gained the it. The Triforce Power, Wisdom and Courage were his. After he died, it's believed it was sealed inside an ancient Temple, which turned into the Temple of Time later on. When the Gerudo King at the time got it, that is when it split. Interesting, isn't it?”

So, Sky had the Triforce? The entire relic? I wonder how he dealt with that kind of power.

“Yes. Thank you for telling us,” Zelda smiles.

Nothing interesting happens for the rest of the dinner. Pretty Boy drops the subject and he and Zelda just speak about their homelands. I do less and less as time goes on and I start to get board, wishing I can just go and find Sheik if he's here.

“Princess, I can't help but wonder if you made a mistake with that boy,” my ears twitch at Pretty Boy's words and I come out of my thoughts. “He's a mute, with no real talent at all and he's unable to communicate. Why did you want him to be your personal knight? Just because he defeated Ganondorf?”

“No. We are both incarnations, Sir Edward, and we both have met many times in our past lives. We aren't strangers to each other, from the start we knew we were friends, but it wasn't until after Ganondorf that we really became friends in this lifetime.”

“Some friendship. Tell me, were you and him perhaps lovers at one point?” I try not to gag. I suspect all my incarnations before me to have the hots for the Zeldas, but no. Not this lifetime.

“No, we're just friends in this lifetime. We haven't known each other long, anyway.”

“I see. Sir Link,” I look at him. “I wish to have a privet word with our Princess here. Mind stepping outside?” I tense, looking at Zelda. She nods and I walk out, closing the doors behind me, but I press my ear to the door, not intending to leave Zelda alone with him more that she already has. Sadly, I can't hear a thing through the doors, so I have to leave. I walk away with my eyes glued on the floor, thinking. Why was he asking about our families? And why does he want to speak to Zelda alone? I hope he doesn't do anything to her.

I bump into somebody and look up, smiling when I see it's Sheik. 'You made it!' I see his face and my smile gets wiped off of mine. 'I'm in trouble, aren't I?'

“What do you think?” he asks, crossing his arms. “That was a stupid stunt, Link. What if you had gotten hurt? And that letter wasn't helpful. Did you really think writing 'I'm going to the Castle. Don't worry about me,' would work? Of course I was worried! You were injured!”

'There wasn't time to explain, though! I sent a letter to Zelda telling her that someone was sapping magic, but she never got it because Majora intercepted the letter and the army was passing Ordon. I only gave them an easier time to get here. That's why I left, to warn Zelda.'

“And you couldn't have waited for me to get back, could you?”

'Nope, my mind doesn't always think things through, Sheik. Besides, it's a good thing I came back. I found out that Pretty Boy is working with Majora and Ghirahim.'

Sheik shakes his head. “I should have figured. But give me a better letter if this happens again. Okay?”

'Okay,' I nod.

“Where's Zelda know?”

I roll my eyes. 'She had to go have dinner with Pretty Boy, he told me to leave and Zelda just nodded, thinking I should. I don't know what's going on, and I'm a little worried.'

“I'm sure she'll be fine. She can take care of herself,” Sheik puts an arm around my shoulders and we go for a walk. I look back the way I came, hoping it was a good thing that I listened to Zelda.


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