Tales of Mist and Memories
Zelda turned from her window to Impa standing in the doorway. She was alone, clad in her usual blue and silver armor and carried a platter of tea. The sun had risen to the point where it shone though the window and its glint off of her silver hair left droplets of light to pool onto the walls.
"Impa, it is only us. You needn't use formalities."
Her guard smiled, setting the platter on her vanity. "Ah, but I think the princess should only be as honored on her crowning day." It had been almost half a year since the Twilight war, and many thought it time for their princess to be crowned despite it being in the middle of autumn. It was well known that Zelda aided the Hero in ridding the land of Twilight, thus ensuring her place of popularity.
But despite it being her day, she couldn't shake off the feeling that something wasn't right.
Her uneasiness must have shown on her face, for Impa brought over her father's mug. She lost the tea cups that went with the set long ago, but she preferred the king's chipped white mug any day. It was a wedding gift to him from her mother.
Impa took one of Zelda's hands into her own calloused ones. "My sweet?" Impa was the only family Zelda had left. She didn't look a day older than thirty but she was far older, having trained the late Queen.
Zelda sighed and took a drink. It was spiced with Gerudo flower and the taste burned down her throat. "Impa, do you feel a stillness in the Heavens? As if the world were holding its breath, waiting for the worst to come?" Impa looked back at her, brow furrowed in concern. "Have you had another dream?"
Dreams of Hyrule folding in upon itself, of a glowing winged creature in the sky. They seemed the product of a child's imagination but both women knew better.
Zelda stayed quiet, worrying her lip. "If the darkness isn't over, if Ganondorf has returned..." Impa squeezed her hand and pulled her from her place by the window.
"Come and let us walk, child." They entered the hall where castle servants darted about carrying food stuffs and barrels of wine. Those who saw the princess and her escort dropped in hasty curtsies and bows.
Some offered them goat milk and cheese while a particularly exuberant man tried to hand off a whole roasted cucco. Zelda grimaced and waved him away, Impa chuckling beside her.
"They adore you," her guard smiled and Zelda only nodded back, some of their adoration wasn't necessarily wanted.
Hyrule Castle was a place of grandeur. Old paintings varying from fruit bowls to family portraits hung on every wall, golden chandeliers lighting the velvet carpet. Elegant curves swirled on the legs of end tables while tasseled pillows warmed cold alcoves and sitting crevices. Every pocket in the Castle was meant to impress.
Except the East Corridor.
It was here that Zelda and Impa walked to, the section was closed off to all other persons. Scorch marks and holes puckered the walls and the hallway was bare of tapestries and furniture.
The Eastern corridor hadn't been restored yet so every furnishing and trinket had been moved to storage. The only distinguishable feature of the wing had been the hidden balcony placed in an alcove that overlooked Castle Town. Now, part of the banister had been broken off and the carvings were faded.
Zelda stepped through the leftover rubble and drifted her hand across the walls. 'What had the Hero fought in here?' It was beginning to be a sort of game between her and Impa. Her guard liked to take it a step further, "What sort of monster would leave such a stain? You would think the Hero dipped a paintbrush and decided to redecorate..."
"Hmm?" She couldn't remember the last time she had been caught not listening. The tips of her ears burned and Impa smirked. "Is the Hero coming?"
Zelda's mood soured. She had invited him for several occasions at the Castle to try to read his character, but he always declined. This time he hadn't bothered to reply to her letter. She had never been gifted at speaking with her subjects. Ironic, since she handled nobles in court and muddled her advisors with quick words. She had a sharp tongue and a wit of steel, but informal conversations left her looking like a goose. Part of her wondered if that was why he didn't try to contact her.
"The Hero has his own business to pertain to," she sniffed and walked to the balcony. Impa gave a chuckle behind her, "So he declined your invitation?" Confound that insight of hers! "No." She was tired of being teased. "I thought the princess was to receive honor on her crowning day?" Impa appeared beside her and gripped the chipped banister.
"Ah, but I mustn't be formal when it is only us two," she winked and her gaze softened. "My sweet, I only want you to be happy. Won't you grant this old woman her wish?" Zelda smiled at this, both women knew they could look close to sisters if their separate heritages weren't so obvious. "This day is for you to enjoy, rejoice in it!" She gazed down at the cobblestone road below. "Impa, I would be in a far more celebratory mood-"
"Let me worry about your dreams. Melo!" A man stepped out from the shadows dressed in full Sheikah garb. Zelda recognized him as part of the Hidden Guard, a brigade fashioned strictly of Sheikah who patrolled the Castle halls. They were the eyes and ears of Impa.
"Chief," he bowed low, fist clenched over his heart. "How may I serve the throne?" Melo looked about her age, if not older. However if Impa were any example of the Sheikah longevity, she could be mistaken.
"I trust you have heard the worries of our Highness?" He nodded, "Search far and wide for anything that seems peculiar and report back to me." Melo rose from his bow and retreated to the shadows. Zelda tilted her gaze to Impa, "Strange, I did not sense that particular Sheikah until he revealed himself."
Impa smiled at her, red eyes glowing with pride. "Melo is one of our best at stealth, almost superior to me."
"You trained him?" It was more of a statement than a question and Impa chuckled, leaning over the banister. "I helped him hone his skill."
The people of Castle Town were awake and moved with purpose. Peddlers pitched their wares and the smell of spices and sweet cakes filled the air. The Square was already decorated for the crowning with colorful streamers tied between buildings. Lanterns and fairy bottles hung suspended with wire and at the center of the decorations was the stage. Garnished with silks and flowing tapestries, this was where she would be crowned Queen.
"All of this is for you," Impa placed her hand on Zelda's shoulder, "their Queen." Zelda kept her gaze on the people and steadily replied, "I'm not their Queen yet." One of the mutts below had grabbed a roasted cucco leg from a stall, no one had noticed it. "You should be. You deserve the title, fighting the Evil One alone..."
"I was hardly alone."
Impa smiled down at her, but her eyes were sad. "I should have been there. You've grown so much, and I've missed it." Zelda looked towards her guard then and her heart gave a lurch; Impa hardly ever looked this downtrodden. "You had an important task for your people. You're chieftain now, they look to you for guidance."
Impa gave a light laugh and looked at the princess, smiling completely. "No, my sweet. We look to you."
"...and by the Goddesses' blessing, may Her Majesty prosper this nation and its people! All hail the Queen!" With the priest's final blessing finished, the people repeated after him. "All hail the Queen!" The crowd erupted in applause and the musicians began to play the Royal Family ode.
The cold autumn air did nothing to dissuade the people. All across the square were Hylians, Zoras, and Gorons; anyone and everyone was allowed to participate in the festivities. Ambassadors and nobles sat in a place of honor to the side of the stage and Impa stood at her right hand, straight and proud. At the priest's cue Zelda was permitted to stand from her place and the dances began.
She was required by social etiquette to dance with the more renowned guests, but after an hour of being hounded ruthlessly by bachelors Impa dragged her back to the throne. Zelda was grateful for this, her ceremonial robe and crown were far heavier than her usual attire. The robe was usually worn by men in their prime, the crown fashioned for even the largest head. Zelda reckoned her forefathers had looked mighty indeed. On her, the robes looked rather silly.
Once comfortably seated Zelda searched the crowd, looking for anyone she would recognize. Sheikah were laced throughout the bustle of people and had managed to conceal their features. She spotted Melo and another Sheikah girl standing near a dart booth, a scraggly old man hunched behind the counter. The girl laughed and gave Melo a light shove which he took graciously and smiled back. He was holding some type of paper in his hand but before Zelda could get a closer look a familiar figure stepped in front of her.
"Queen Zelda," he purred. "May your reign be long and fruitful."
It was the Earl of Ninĕn, Hanta. He bowed before her and kissed the back of her hand. The Earl Hanta was a man in his late twenties, a charmer in his own right. His curly black hair was covered by a cowl and his green eyes glittered beneath the covering. He always wore the same white gloves whenever she saw him and his approach on etiquette made lesser women recoil in shock.
Nevertheless, she smiled back. "Thank you for you kind words, Earl Hanta." He straightened back, keeping his eyes pinned on hers with a smirk. "Have a pleasant day." With that, he grinned his farewell and disappeared into the crowd.
Zelda turned towards Impa who in turn was whispering to a Sheikah. "Follow him and make sure he does nothing suspicious," she ordered, and the Sheikah faded from sight. Impa caught her staring and nodded at her.
"I don't like him," was all the answer she received. Zelda smiled at her bluntness and turned her gaze towards the people. She spotted the Shaman and his daughter from Kakariko along with the Goron elders dancing with what looked like a baby. But his face! 'What a peculiar child.'
More men with their own ambitions ambled their way to the throne and she sighed. Foolish men were all too easy to deal with, but the more ambitious had to be watched. A man with enough will and desperation was a force to be reckoned with.
She was trading niceties with a shrimp of a man when she began to feel strange. Not quite unpleasant, but not exactly comfortable either. She narrowed her eyes, sending the man scrambling away at her order. Impa stepped to her side and kneeled, "Zelda?"
Her head began to feel heavy as if it were made out of solid rock.
"Impa..." It was a struggle to get the words out and her guard looked her over, brow furrowed with concern.
"Impa, I need to go inside..." Impa nodded once and helped her down the back stairway, some inebriated nobles waving and bowing her away. She stumbled several times, but Impa supported her like she weighed nothing more than a pillow.
Her guard pulled her within the castle courtyard and Zelda fumbled with the pins that held her crown in place, her fingers wouldn't work anymore. Impa roared orders to the castle guards, Sheikah appearing from the shadows to take away her ceremonial garb.
The weight gone, Zelda felt as if she could float away. Her legs apparently thought the same for they gave out and she found herself cradled in Impa's arms.
A bottle of red jelly was poured down her throat but she couched it up, staining her front with the liquid. It looked awfully close to blood and she looked away, feeling even more nauseous. Screams rained down upon her.
"What has she eaten today?!"
"Who spoke with her?!"
"What are your orders, Chief?!"
This doesn't make since, she wanted to say. Because although her mind was muddled to the point she couldn't think, she knew that she couldn't be poisoned. Impa made it a point to have her ingest poisons regularly as a child; she was immune to almost every toxic ingredient in Hyrule. Impa knew it too for she wasn't yelling like the others were. Instead, she hugged Zelda closer as she ran into the Castle walls, each step vibrating through her bones.
The light came first, a beacon of gold from her Triforce mark shining before the entourage.
Zelda recognized the warmth next, a stream of it running up her arm and filling the rest of her body. She was receiving a message from the Goddesses. Impa took her to the Royal Chambers and placed her underneath the covers. Zelda closed her eyes, the light from her Triforce piece was blinding. The sound of a door being shut reached her ears and silence replaced the chaos from outside.
Steady hands placed a wet rag onto her forehead, a water drop sliding down her temple. Her hair was swept away by the same hands- Impa's hands- and a whisper touched her ears like a feather to a pond.
"Clear mind, clear vision."
Zelda remembered she hadn't seen the Hero at her crowning.
Then the light became too much and she slipped away, into the world of spirits.
She was floating.
There was no other way to describe it; all around her was fog, cold like morning mist. Condensation began to settle on her face and she closed her eyes to its touch. Compared to the heat in Hyrule, this was a blessing in itself.
'Clear mind, clear vision', Impa's words from before fluttered across her mind and her eyes opened. She couldn't afford to be sidetracked. Who knew how long she had before she was taken back to reality?
She took a tentative step forward, hesitant of the lack of ground. She didn't fall through whatever was keeping her up though, so she took another step and began to walk.
The fog didn't clear up despite her attempts at every direction and she began to become frantic. As the bearer of Wisdom, she was expected to discern her own way in visions. She hiked up her skirt and broke into a sprint, barreling forward until she crashed into a wall that left her tumbling to the floor.
A splash of water rose up from where she hit the ground and she was drenched. She spouted a small stream of water that managed to land in her mouth and brushed away a few strands of hair; visions had a way of making the strange seem normal, and after a few episodes she became used to their oddities. Looking up, she realized she didn't run into a wall but a person.
It was him.
She couldn't fathom why the Hero's presence seemed so important to her; he was the Hero, of course his presence would be important. But for a reason she couldn't shake, this seemed personal.
'His name is Link.' The thought was less vocal and more internal and her mind greedily drank it up.
Link my friend is Link is called LinkLinkLink- What was happening to her? She pinched the bridge of her nose and took a closer look at his appearance. He seemed different from the last time they saw each other, more sure of himself.
"Link?" He stared forwards, looking as if he saw something in the distance. She waved her hand in front of his face but received no response. Just as she was about to push him over-she knew she would react if someone knocked her over-another figure appeared.
He was a few yards away, clad in red and boasted a thick mustache. He also gave no inclination towards her presence but rather stared past her. The fog slowly thinned and revealed more people, each one stranger than the last.
A tall muscular man with a gaze that analyzed everything. A fox standing by a small yellow rat, both with an intelligence behind their eyes that the average animal didn't posses. One particular being found her taking a step back. They seemed like a monster out of legend, coated in metal with a solid green eye.
All around her stood a variety of creatures linked shoulder to shoulder. Shoulder to knee in some cases; there seemed to be no pattern in their genetic makeup. She was trying to link them together to find some common ground when a tall figure emerged from the mist beside Link.
It was the Dark King, Ganondorf.
She took a step back, hand trembling over her mouth. He could not return when they were so grossly unprepared…What was she going to do? Where would her people go?
Before she could finish the thought a figure appeared on the other side of Link. She stepped closer to confirm what her eyes were telling her. It was Sheik, the alter-ego she created when she was beginning her Sheikah training.
Sheik stared back at her with her own red eyes, unlike the others she acknowledged her existence.
Sheik turned her eyes towards the other figures and she followed. They were disappearing one by one, back into the fog. Sheik pointed towards Ganondorf, and then towards the floor of water. "I don't understand," she told her. Sheik repeated the gestures, frantically now; Ganondorf was disappearing.
After he was gone the fog began to wrap around the Sheikah's body, and a calm seemed to wash over her. Sheik brought her hand up and touched her forehead, the sign for wisdom. With that, the fog ate her up and only Link was left.
Link focused his eyes onto her and she was taken aback at how feral they were. She half expected him to transform into the blue-eyed beast that he was when they first met.
Something wet touched her knees and she looked down. The water was rising slowly but steadily and she looked back to Link with concern. He outstretched his hand and without hesitation she reached out to take it. But her hand fazed through and he began to fade into the fog.
A terrible screech rang up around her; by now the water was up to her waist. She shuffled forward, frantically trying to reach Link. He opened his mouth in a scream and the terrible noise from before muted his voice.
The water was at her shoulders, and Link was almost gone. She couldn't lose him, couldn't bear the loss nonono please no, she was bordering on hysteria and didn't know where everything went wrong.
She tried one final lunge towards him, all of her strength put into this last desperate move. The water was well above her head and murky with fog, but she reached his body and held onto him.
His heartbeat was so slow.
She kicked with all of her strength, had to get to the surface hewon'tdie,shewon'tlethim. But it was no use, she was held down by his weight and tendrils of fog latched onto her ankles that pulled and bruised the skin.
She held on as long as she could, gave her last breath to him, but the pulse stopped and her tears joined with the water.
He was dead, and she was going to die with him.
There were too many noises around her, deafening compared to the silence from where she came from.
A screech rang up in the room and for a wild second Zelda thought she was back in the void. She thrashed and kicked; the sheets tangled themselves around her legs and she tumbled from her bed onto the floor. She hit her head on the stone and her teeth grated against the insides of her cheeks.
The taste of iron flooded her mouth and Zelda spat it out onto the floor, winded from her fall. The room was silent and she realized that she was the most probable source for the scream. Where in a regular situation she would have been embarrassed, the knowledge comforted her and she looked around the room.
The guard that surrounded her as she was carried down the hallway stood in the room, all directing their weapons towards any possible entryway. Impa stood over her with a wild look in her eyes, "What did you see?"
Zelda croaked an answer and one of the Sheikah passed her a bowl of water. She forced a few mouthfuls down her throat and leaned against the bed frame, relaying her vision.
When she got to Ganondorf's appearance several of the Sheikah wore faces of shock; while they weren't present in Hyrule during the war anyone could see the damage he left behind. Only Impa stood impassive, the pop of a vein in her neck her only reaction.
By the time Zelda was finished she held a steaming mug of tea in her hands and Impa was pacing the room, "Hyrule is in no way prepared for another war, much less for the Dark King."
"I don't think it was Ganondorf." It was true; something was telling her that wasn't the vision's warning. "Let us not forget the creatures I saw. I feel there is someone, perhaps something else that works in the shadows."
Impa considered her words, fingers stroking her chin. "It is true no neighboring kingdoms are inhabited by those you described… Perhaps there is a separate realm involved, similar to the Twilight?"
"Excuse me Your Majesty, but I may have something worth mentioning." It was Melo who piped up from his place by the door; he clutched the paper from the ceremony tightly in one hand, crinkling it down the middle. He walked towards her hesitantly and it was only then she realized she was still on the floor. She stood with the help of Impa and Melo placed the paper in her hands.
It was a flier that was intricately painted with swirling colors of blues and greens, outlined in a solid red that bled through the page.
Super Smash Bros.
Join the Brawl!
Sign-ups Closing Soon
Depicted underneath the lettering was the red man she saw, posed to fight. His opponent was the small yellow rat along with a small pink orb that didn't have legs. "They seemed to match your description", Melo explained. Her eyes widened as she took in the added details. Small pictures of random competitors were listed and every one of them she saw in her vision.
"It looks like our Hero has found a place in the tournament," Impa tapped the corner of the flier. Sure enough, Link was holding the Master Sword and stared them in the eye; the artist captured the moment perfectly. Zelda squeezed the flier in her hands, "Why did you grab this?"
Melo blushed slightly and scratched the back of his neck, "I've always loved the tournaments. My father used to take me to them when I was little, and I was hoping to go again this year." His eyes widened, "That is, with your permission!"
Zelda walked over to her window. It was sunset now, her people outside preparing for the evening. Fireworks in her honor were set to go off at midnight and chairs were being set out in the Square. Luckily, she didn't have to be present for this and could enjoy them wherever she pleased.
That is, if she would even watch them.
"Is this tournament open to all?" she asked without turning. Melo piped up from behind her, eager to save face. "Of course! That's why all of the competitors look so different, they're from different worlds. The tournament is what links them together."
The omens, the dreams and visions…Everything was adding up. Zelda turned to see the room looking to her for guidance. Only her guard seemed to know what her next words would be and she smiled sadly.
"Our country and its people are in great danger. If what Melo said is true, it is possible other worlds are too." She walked forwards some, preparing herself for whatever her next statement would bring.
"I need to join the tournament."
Too soon would she discover what that statement would bring.
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