Chapter Two: One Thousand Faces
"Good day, my Lord and Lady," Link said, bowing before King Jerold and Queen Lenaya.
King Jerold shook his head, "How have you been Link? What's with your arm?"
"Oh, that?" Link asked, looking at his bandaged arm. "Dodongos."
"Well, tell us what happened in the study," King Jerold said. Link couldn't refuse his offer and walked next to them. Link sat in his usual chair, laying the Master Sword against the arm for easy access. The King and Queen sat across from him.
"How bad is it first of all?" Queen Lenaya asked.
"Not bad," Link assured. "I've gotten it treated."
"Well, what problems did you have with this dodongo? You've handled greater dangers than that with no injuries," Jerold said, raising an eyebrow.
"Well, yes," Link agreed. "But I destroy the danger, not chase it out of its settlement."
"What do you mean?" Lenaya asked.
"The Goron's wanted me to get the dodongo out without injuring it in anyway," Link muttered. "Now that's hard. Especially when it's a full grown adult with maximum fire range."
Jerold winced, "You couldn't even knock it out?"
"No, they'd yell at me if I even reached for the Master Sword," Link said, shaking his head. "It wasn't pleasant."
"Well, next time I'll let the Goron's handle their own damn dodongo and see how they do," Jerold smirked.
Link let out a laugh, knowing his king was only joking. If he wanted a war to brew that's how it would start. Out of the corner of his eye Link saw a flash of blue in the doorway. He looked to see Princess Lera. He gave her a smile and a small wave. Link thought he heard a hello, but it sounded more like a squeak. She scampered off as soon as she had done so. Link eyed the King and Queen at this odd behavior. Queen Lenaya only laughed.
"I'm afraid you won't be seeing much of Lera," she informed. "She fancies you, Link."
He gaped at them. "What? Has she lost her mind?"
"It'll past quickly don't worry," Lenaya assured, laughing at his expression. "Every girl goes through a stage of liking every boy she meets. No matter how long she's known him."
"I hope it does," Link said. "She's the only sane girl I've got left to talk to! Not to mention she's like my… sister."
Both Lenaya and Jerold laughed at Link's face. He only shook his head and shivered. Lera would deny ever having a crush on him if he ever brought it up.
"Actually, forget that," Link said after moment. "I met a girl who… is much different than one I've met."
"Oh?" Lenaya asked with interest. "Who would this woman be?"
Link saw King Jerold roll his eyes, "See what you've done?"
Link couldn't help but laugh, "I didn't mean to."
"Really, Link," Lenaya said. "You run around so much. You should take a break from… him."
Link fell silent. He knew what she was talking about. He sighed and shook his head.
"I won't take a break until he's dead," Link answered quietly. "He's hurt all of us."
Link sat back in his chair, his hand going over the dark green velvet. He could feel the King and Queen's gaze upon him, but he didn't meet their gaze.
"Well, who is this woman?" Queen Lenaya asked gently. King Jerold rolled his eyes and Link smirked.
"She's a Gerudo," Link explained. He hesitated. "A Hylian to be exact, but raised in Gerudo Valley. And like most Gerudo, she gets irritated with me very easily. Her more so than the others."
"Take the advice from one who knows," King Jerold said, leaning closer. "All women do. There is no way to please them."
Lenaya cast an icy glare at her husband. Jerold defended himself, "What? I only speak the truth!"
"I can't say my idea on the subject," Link said. "Because either way, I'll be in trouble."
"So, found yourself a woman?" Impa asked, finding Link in the gardens. He let out a frustrated sigh.
"No," he answered. "I met her and she reluctantly helped me. That's all."
"Uh huh," the sheikah said, sitting down next to him. "Well? Who is she?"
"I don't know, I just met her," Link admitted. "She's a Hylian and was raised as a Gerudo. She lives at the fortress."
"Does she have a name?" Impa asked in an obvious tone.
"Reena," Link answered.
Impa nodded. "How'd you meet her?"
"She tried to kill me," Link answered, plucking a blade of grass from the ground.
"Well…that's one way to meet someone I guess," Impa smirked.
"Yeah, don't ever meet her," Link muttered. "She'll think your stalking her. I think she thinks I'm trying to kill her."
"Lest we forget she was raised as a Gerudo," Impa pointed out. "She hates men."
"I forgot that detail," Link muttered. "However, she did help me in the end. She seemed to warm up to me when I was leaving."
"…That doesn't say much," Impa said, lying down. "You see that tree?"
"Yeah," Link answered.
"Princess Zelda planted that," Impa said.
"You don't need to bring her up, you know," Link said quietly. "I'm reminded enough about her."
Impa sighed, looking at him, "Why do you still blame yourself?"
Link remained silent, interested in the ground. He ran his hands through the grass.
"Link, I'm not bringing it up to torment you," Impa said. "I thought you let it go by now."
"I'll let it go when I find her," Link said firmly. "Or when Ganondorf's dead. Which ever comes first."
Impa sat back up, resting a hand on her knee. She looked over at Link and saw him lost in the past. She stood and rested a hand on his shoulder. He continued to look ahead of him. Impa shook her head and walked off.
Link walked through the streets of Hyrule's market, his eyes washing over the vendors. Three months had passed since his encounter with Reena. His mind wandered to her. Where was she? Had she stolen lately? He shook his head, surprised that she came to his head. He examined a dagger a vendor was trying to press onto him, but he turned it down. If anything he'd get a new bow. It was worn and too small for him. However, it was the least of his worries.
He entered The Fairy's Fountain and sat at a table in the corner. The inn was alive with people talking and drinking. Link wondered how anyone could sleep upstairs with a bar downstairs. All around mugs clinked, laughter roared, and fires from the hearths crackled. He habitually drew his sword for any impending danger. It was known to happen here.
Link's eyes rested on a group of men engrossed over a chess game. It wasn't long before he realized the man under the cloak was going to win. He smirked as he watched the man move his gloved hand all over the board, setting up his attack. Link watched the other man grin when he thought he had the cloaked man.
"Checkmate," the cloaked man said. The other man sat there for a moment as his friends roared with laughter. The cloaked man pulled his hood down to reveal a very dark face and long black hair tied back loosely. "That's eighty rupees."
The other man just stared at the chessboard. He suddenly overturned the board and Link's hand tightened on the hilt.
"You cheated!" the man roared, pointing a threatening finger.
"In what way?" the other man demanded. "There were onlookers so it would be impossible to cheat. Or are you saying you can't pay?"
"I won't because you cheated!"
The winner stood, glaring at the man. Though the other man was twice his height, he seemed to feel he was going to get his money.
"Either you pay or meet a worse fate," the winner hissed. The larger man spat on the table and swung his fist. The smaller man was out of the way in seconds and on top of him. The bigger man's friends jumped in to help their friend. Link got to his feet, going to help the winner. It wasn't long before mass hysteria broke out. Everyone was fighting everyone for the fun of it. Link groaned. He hated dealing with drunks. He found the winner and grabbed him. He pulled him out of the bar despite the protest.
"We'll get killed in there," Link said.
"I could've handled it!" the man said angrily. "That bastard owes me money!"
Link smirked and tossed the man a money bag, "I know. There. That should be all of it and maybe a little more."
"…Aren't you Link?" the man asked.
"…Yes," he answered.
"…And you just stole?"
"I don't call that stealing," Link said with a half smile. "You won. I saw you. You didn't cheat."
"Well, credit where it's due…I guess, Link."
Link froze. The 'man' suddenly didn't sound like one anymore. A harsh laugh sounded. The…person, Link decided, cleaned their face on their cloak. Link's mouth dropped.
"Re… Reena?" Link stammered.
"Not bad," she said. Mud had been smeared all over her face and soot was in her hair.
"I…I didn't recognize you!" Link exclaimed.
"That's the point," she said, rolling her eyes. "What are you doing here?"
"Not stalking you," Link said instantly. "I happen to come here often."
"I know, I've seen you," Reena answered. She finished cleaning her face and neck off. She shook her head and soot flew everywhere. Link coughed as it flew in his face.
"Thank you," he croaked, clutching his throat.
"Then don't stand there," Reena answered.
Link, rolled his eyes. Was she ever going to say something that wasn't a snide remark? Probably not. He was regretting giving her that money. Then again, if that did any better on his standards with her, it was for the best.
"As thrilling as this is, I have places I need to go," Reena said, throwing her hair over her shoulders. "Where are you going?"
"Why would you like to know?" Link asked.
"So I can go the opposite way," Reena answered and she turned one her heal. Link shrugged and walked the other way. That was one person who would probably despise him the rest of his life.
Link dug his fingers into the column that he hid behind, holding his breath. One wrong move and the Spirit Temple would be the last thing he'd ever see. A quiet laugh came from Link at this thought if the news was spread. Hero of Time disappears in Desert! This was the last place he wanted to die. If anything, he'd want to die where someone might have the chance of finding him. He decided after a moment he'd worry about that later.
"One, two," Link breathed. "Three!"
With a back flip, Link was in safety as the Iron Knuckle destroyed the pillar. Rock rained all around and Link rolled out of the way of the deadly double axe. He swallowed hard as it landed inches from his hand. He struck the Knuckle between the armor plates, smirking as it shuddered in pain. It pulled its axe from the ground and swung at Link again. He got to his feet and twisted away from the blade.
"You know, I'm really glad that I don't have to chase you out," Link said, as he somersaulted and slashed at the Knuckles feet. "Because I wouldn't."
The Iron Knuckle let out an angry cry, falling to its knees. Link jumped to his feet, driving his sword deep into its back. He brought his shield in front of him as the axe swung behind the Knuckle. Pain ran up Link's arm as the axe shrieked against his shield. Colors flew past Link as he skidded across the stone floor. The familiar, silent prayer ran through his head, thanking the Goddesses for his shield.
"You know," Link said, getting to his feet and shaking his shield arm which was beginning to go numb, "This would be a lot more interesting if any of you things could talk. I wonder what you'd be saying."
"How about…watch your back and quit talking like an idiot?"
Link didn't have time to contemplate who was saying this. The Iron Knuckle at the moment was holding his attention. He struck at it again, sliding away from its blow. Casting his eyes over the room quickly, Link saw a woman watching him from the door. Before he could ask what in the world she was doing here, the Iron Knuckle struck again.
"You know, I would ask what you're doing," Link said, the Master Sword biting its foe. "But I think I'd rather not."
Link chanced a look behind him, but the woman was gone. He cursed as the Iron Knuckle took his small distraction and used it to his advantage. The axe sliced the air and warm blood trickled down Link's leg. Pain exploded in Link's head and he fell to one knee. The Master Sword clattered to the ground but Link had it in hand in a moments notice. He grabbed the hilt and the end of the blade, sticking it above his head. The axe slammed against it and Link felt his blade cut into his hand. Sweat began drip down his face as he pushed upwards. The sword began to come back towards him and panic began to flow through Link. Suddenly, the weight was gone. Link snapped his head up to see the woman slashing at the Iron Knuckle. In an instant, Link was on his feet and flanking her. The two danced around the walking metal, parrying in perfect union.
It wasn't long before a layer of armor fell from the Iron Knuckle. It raised its axe and ran towards them. The woman and Link quickly adjusted, moving at a faster pace. Though they didn't even know each other, they were working perfectly together. Not a word was spoken as they fought.
Soon, the white smoke engulfed the Knuckle and Link leaned against the pillar, breathing hard. The pain in his leg had elevated and he could barely stand. With a wary eye, he surveyed the women.
Her skin was tanned and she was tall. White hair was in a braid that was fashioned in a bun and blue eyes had white markings under them. Link tried to regulate his breathing. Maybe he was seeing things.
"I think you had better sit down," she said, crossing her arms. Just like Impa.
"I would," Link said, shifting more weight on his good leg. "But I think I've gone delusional because the Sheikah are nearly extinct. Any who are alive would be protecting the Royal Family right now."
The Sheikah smirked, setting her two swords down. Link groaned as recognition set it.
"You," he muttered. Reena wiped the make up under her eyes away. A thin, honey colored paste came with it, showing her pale skin. She crossed her arms again.
"What are you doing here?" she demanded.
Link gave her a painful half smile. "What does it look like? Getting rid of these things so that the Gerudo can use this place again. This is the second temple that's been infested."
"Did Nabooru call you?" Reena asked.
Link rolled his eyes. "No, I knew it was going to happen. She let me come here at my own risk because she knew it was like this. She does not want any Gerudo here. I have a feeling that includes you. Let me guess, you're irritated at me…again?"
"No, I'm shocked," Reena answered. "You fought well."
"I'm glad you think so," Link said. "Listen, I'd love to talk, but I've got to get going. I'm sure there are more of these and I'd rather like to get this temple done. There are others that I need to free."
"Tell me, are you just going to let that bleed?" Reena asked.
Link was stunned. Was that a note of worry in her voice? It couldn't be…
"No," Link answered, sliding down the pillar. He cut a strip from the bottom of his tunic off and pressed it against the wound. He closed his eyes as pain exploded again. Tying it quickly, he stood, using the help of the pillar. After testing it gingerly, Link decided his leg would be fine until further treatment. Reena looked at him as if he were committing suicide. A half smile came to Link's face.
"I've done this plenty of times. It'll hold long enough," he assured. "I suggest you get back to Gerudo Valley before Nabooru finds out you're here. You'll be killed."
"I don't take orders from you," Reena said, narrowing her eyes. "I don't listen to men first of all. Second, Nabooru won't find out I'm here unless you tell her which I'm sure you won't. Third, this is my home and I'm going to defend it. So I'm coming with you."
"What? No, you can't," Link said instantly. "This is my duty."
"Mine too," Reena said, glaring. "My home, my job. So either leave, or come with me."
Link watched her head towards the door. He didn't know whether to thank her or curse her. Reluctantly, Link followed after her. Silence passed between them as the door opened and their footsteps echoed down a corridor. Link stopped, putting a hand out to stop Reena. She looked at him, annoyed.
"What?" she demanded.
He reached for the dagger on his ankle and threw it down the corridor. Pffft! Pffft! Pffft! Bursts of air fired again and again. Metal spikes as thin as wire now stuck out of the wall.
"We're approaching the Gerudo Shrine," Link explained. "Someplace, we're, well I'm, not supposed to go. However, we have too."
Reena tried hard to hide her shock. Only centimeters away was where her life could have ended. She didn't like the surprises she had been finding in Link. He was clever. Men were stupid, biased, disgusting, and only used women. How come he wasn't like that?
"Hey, you still with me?" Link's voice interrupted. She looked at him. His hand was extended. He had a smirk. "Ladies first."
"Using me as a test subject?" Reena asked crossly.
"No, there aren't anymore," he assured, leading just to show her.
"How are you so sure," Reena demanded.
"No trip wires," Link said, motioning to the floor, "no fake floors, no silk strands strung across the way ready to set off some painful death, no trap doors in the floor or ceiling for that matter, and finally no obvious triggers on the floor that we can step on."
"You're pretty sure of yourself, aren't you?" Reena asked sharply. "How do you know that there isn't something on the floor?"
"The rat footprints give it away. They would have triggered anything on the floor," Link answered. "Trust me. I'll go first so that if I did miss anything, I'll get hit."
"I'm not scared," Reena growled.
"Did I say you were?" Link asked, eyeing her. "You're touchier than last time. Then again, I gave you money last time."
"Yeah, you forgot that bit," Reena said as they finally continued down the corridor. "What was with that? You're the Hero of Time or something like that."
Link couldn't help but smile. "I guess if you want to look at it that way. However, that's the title everyone else and the Royal Family gave me."
"Don't you feel privileged," Reena muttered. "Should I be awed?"
"I hope not," Link answered. "Don't think I wanted the title. I can't walk into a village during day time without getting mauled. I'm sure you've seen it because of your disguises.
A smile escaped from Reena no matter how hard she tried to suppress it. She had seen him have to creep into villages. Link glanced over at her and grinned.
"I knew you weren't that irritated at me, no matter how much you hate me," Link said.
"Shut up," Reena said. She was finding it disturbing that she was enjoying talking with him. At Fairy's Fountain, she just thought it was because she was in a good mood. Was she actually enjoying his company? What would Nabooru think? Nabooru already befriended him… Maybe he isn't all that bad…This is sickening!
Reena rapped on Nabooru's door before retreating to her own. The sack over her shoulder crashed on the ground as she fell onto her bed of pillows.
"Do you have to be so loud upon your arrival?" Nabooru demanded, stepping inside. "How'd everything go?"
"You're still upset, huh?" Nabooru said.
"Irritated, not upset," Reena corrected with a glare. "I could have handled the temple!"
"I don't doubt that," Nabooru said. "However, there is the chance that something would happen and then I would have lost my best officer."
"So you send him?" Reena asked, unconvinced. "Just send two of us and the jobs done!"
"Just what do you have against Link?" Nabooru asked, eyeing Reena. She read the girls expression. "Alright, yes he is a man. However, you have talked with him yourself, have you not?"
"He's conceited ," Reena said shortly. "You should have seen him in the temple. Acting like he knew everything the temple had to offer."
"He had better remember after the first time," Nabooru said. "He nearly got himself killed."
"Obviously the temple's protection isn't that great if he's still alive," Reena muttered.
"Do you… fancy him?" Nabooru asked with an evil smile. "Is that what all this is about?"
"Nabooru, just because you are my commanding officer does not mean you are allowed to say such shallow, deceptive, cruel-"
"Stop with the 'I'm going to kill you' tone," Nabooru said. "It gets tedious after the umpteenth time."
"Then don't give me the excuse to use it," Reena shot back. "No, I don't fancy him. However, I'm finding it intimidating he is!"
"You mean someone else who can call your bluffs?" Nabooru asked. She smirked as Reena rolled her eyes. Nabooru grabbed the sack of goods and turned to leave. "Give him a chance. I know, that's something hard to take coming from me."