Chapter Eight: Princesses, Broken Jaws and Dodongos
"Reena, come on!" Link said impatiently. He grabbed her arm, pulling her away from a vendor. "No stealing in broad day light!"
"Whine, whine, whine," Reena muttered. "So what are we doing?"
"We're going to the castle," Link answered. He saw the glint in her eyes. "No stealing!"
"You can't tell me what to do," Reena said defiantly. She took his hat and continued up the path to the castle. Link murmured under his breath and hurried after her, ruffling his hair. Reena looked over her shoulder at him and gave him a sweet smile. He glowered in return.
"Give it back," he said.
"No," Reena answered. "You know that doesn't work."
"It's worth a shot," Link sighed, matching her stride. "I just need it back before we see the King and Queen."
"Why?" Reena asked.
"You sound like a four year old, you know that?" Link said, snatching the green hat from her head. "Thank you!"
Reena glared and crossed her arms. Link rolled his eyes and they continued up the path.
"So…why are we going here?" Reena asked. "We were just at Zora's Domain. What can there be now?"
"You'll be surprised," Link answered. "They didn't call me. We're visiting because I happen to be close friends with them. Yes, you'll have to suffer being there for a bit."
Reena rolled her eyes as they walked to the first set of guards. They nodded at Link and the black gate opened slowly. The two walked through the archway and towards the grand castle. Reena shivered slightly as a cold gust of wind flew past them. It was fall and her Gerudo clothing wasn't doing much for her. Link cast her sideways glance.
"I know the honor code and everything," Link said quietly. "But you'll freeze in that."
Reluctantly, Reena agreed to that statement. She would have to find new clothes to last her through the winter. They came to the castle's drawbridge and walked across it. The massive doors opened before them and the two stepped in. Reena welcomed the warmth that embraced her bare arms, but didn't let Link see it. They walked down the Grand Staircase, approaching the King and Queen of Hyrule. They smiled at the two of them, walking down from their throne.
"Link, it's been so long!" Queen Lenaya said, giving him an accusing smile. Link returned it, nodding at King Jerold. "Thank you for everything with Kakariko Village, Kokiri Forest, and Zora's Domain!"
"Quite a mouthful there," Jerold commented. "Have you ever thought of getting some help?"
"I've had some help lately," Link said, casting a glance over at Reena. However she wasn't behind him. Link looked widely around and smirked when he saw her admiring a stained glass window. He lowered his voice, knowing Reena would kill him if she heard him talking about her. "Reena's helped me with all three dwellings."
"Really?" Lenaya asked with interest, looking upon Reena. She gave Link a small smile. "You two did seem to know each other well."
"Quite well," Link agreed.
"You did well," Jerold commented, casting Reena an eye. Link rolled his eyes.
"Sir, it's not like that," Link said quickly. "Don't worry. She's under restraining orders not to take anything. She won't anyways because of the Gerudo honor."
"What honor?" Lenaya asked.
"Anyone who saves their life they are bound not to take from," Link explained as they habitually headed for the study. He looked at Reena to see her gone. He smirked, knowing she wouldn't stay in sight for long.
"Link, drop your things off, show Reena to a room, and wash up. We'll wait for you in the study," Jerold said. "I'm sure you've got plenty to tell."
"You'll have to tell me to shut up," Link said, flashing a grin at them. He turned down the corridor, finding Reena still looking at the many stained glass windows. "Come on, I'll show you to a room."
Reena nodded and followed him. They navigated through the corridors until Link finally stopped in front of one of the rooms. He opened it for her.
"You can stay here," Link told her, taking a step back. "I'm two doors down if you need anything."
"Whoa, nice," Reena commented, stepping inside. "Yes!"
"What?" Link asked, laughing as he walked away.
"There's a bathtub!" Reena exclaimed happily. Link's laughter grew louder. "No, it's not funny! It's sad! I hope your room does too!"
"Shut up," Link called from his room, taking his things off and setting them on his bed. He hung the Master Sword up on its hook in his wardrobe.
Reena, meanwhile, was examining her room. She jumped when servants entered her room, carrying basins of hot water. She got out of their way as they stepped behind an area blocked off by semi-transparent silk. They returned until the tub was filled. With a bow, the servants left and Reena peered behind the silk. The round, marble tub was steaming and Reena longed to slide into the water. She closed her door and locked it.
In a moment, her clothes were tossed aside and Reena sighed as the warm water soothed her body. The months of traveling seemed to melt away as she submerged under the water. As she surfaced, it hit her. She would be turning 19 soon. She had known Link for nearly three years. Three years! That was it! It seemed as if they had been best friends her whole life.
Eventually Reena tore herself away from water and wrapped a towel tightly around herself. She looked cautiously around and cleaned the water with the touch of her hand. She took her Gerudo clothes, washing them thoroughly. Once she was satisfied, she ran her hand over them, drying the clothing instantly. In a moment she was dressed and the familiar scabbards crisscrossed her back. She left her room, exploring the castle.
Metal echoed through one of the doors and Reena opened it curiously. She crept noiselessly inside and sat in the shadows. The room she had stumbled upon was a training arena. In the center of the circular room was a fighting pit that was worn with use. Racks held weapons of every choice and practice shields waited for action. However, Reena wasn't interested with them. She was interested with what was going on in the room.
A girl, probably fifteen and a half, was in the fighting ring. She held her sword as if it were apart of her along with the shield on her arm. Her attacker was about twenty years her senior. However, the girl was giving him the run for his money with her agility and well placed attacks. Reena couldn't help but smile. Finally, the girl was cornered and blood was drawn from her arm. The trainer backed away, and bowed. The girl bowed back, fury in her eyes.
"You fought well today, Princess Lera," he said.
"Thank you," she answered. "Is that all for today?"
"You know the routine, princess," the trainer answered. With a final bow, he put his sword on the rack and left. Lera watched him leave and as soon as he closed the door, plopped on the floor.
"I'm never going to avoid being cornered," she muttered angrily to herself.
She sighed and got to her feet, attacking an imaginary foe. She did a one handed cartwheel and swung behind her. She gasped when she hit metal. Lera twisted around, looking into the eyes of a woman. No matter. The woman was challenging her. Lera lunged at her, showing that she accepted. The woman blocked her blow and answered by swiping at her feet. Without a problem, Lera jumped back away from danger. Her face paled when the woman pulled another sword from her back. This wasn't good. However, Lera was determined not to be intimidated and used her shield as the two swords sliced at her. Metal rang and Lera thrust her sword forward at the woman's knee. The double swords were there to bock her attack. The two danced around the arena and it wasn't long before Lera realized she was cornered…again. Sweat dripped down her face and blinded her eyes as she stared at her attack. The woman backed off and Lera staggered.
"You fought well," the woman said, a smirk on her face.
"Thanks," Lera said breathlessly. She sat on the ground, putting her chin in her hands. She looked up at the woman. "You're a Gerudo."
The woman nodded, sitting down across from Lera. She put the two swords away and Lera felt her eyes pierce through her.
"You need to move around more," the woman said suddenly. "You don't move your feet enough. Only when you have too."
Lera was taken aback. The Gerudo was helping her! Lera nodded, listening intently. If she was getting lessons from a Gerudo now, she needed to listen because it would never happen again. The Gerudo smirked at her eagerness.
"My instructor said that if I moved my feet too much I would lose my footing," Lera explained. "And… I do."
"Well, that's something your going to have to work on," the Gerudo said. "Just because you can't do on the first try doesn't mean to give up. You're going to mess up. It'll be bound to happen. Now come on, again. This time, I don't want to be able to see your feet at all. I just want to see a blur."
Lera was about to protest, but stopped herself. A Gerudo was teaching her. A rare, if ever occurring, event. In a moment she was on her feet, wiping the sweat from her eyes. She raised her sword and shield, letting her mind let go of all that was around her. All that she focused on was the battle at hand. The Gerudo lunged and Lera jumped out of the way. Her sword met the double swords, and Lera felt the shock run up her arms. She shook it away and began to circle the Gerudo. In a moment Lera felt clumsy, already stammering in her stride. However she kept moving. She saw the swords come flying towards her and Lera was able to jump out of the way in a moments notice. She tried not to smile in triumph. Metal and deep breathing were all that disturbed the air. The soft pitter patter of their feet could barely be heard.
Lera's arms burned and she could barely see. She had no clue how long they had been sparing. She had lost track of all time, teaching her feet how to move. Suddenly, the double swords came down on her with such force that Lera landed hard on her back. She laid there for a moment, not remembering a time when she had last fallen. The Gerudo's face loomed over head, satisfaction in her eyes.
"I'm impressed," she said. "You learn quickly. Very quickly."
"I fell," Lera said bitterly, sitting up. "I can't remember the last time I had fallen."
The Gerudo sat across from her, a small smile on her face. "Yes, you fell. However, you fought better than before. If you noticed, you didn't get cornered."
"It's almost better to get cornered than fall," Lera muttered, wiping the sweat from her forehead.
"Not true," came a voice to their left. Lera's face lit up as Link walked towards them.
"Hey, Link," she said, giving him a wave. He returned the gesture, a smile on his face also. Lera remembered when she had a crush on him. It had come and passed quicker than she could run. And she was fast. Very fast.
"You fought well," Link commented, sitting down next to Gerudo. "I see you've met Reena."
"You're Reena?" Lera asked, stunned. "You're Reena?"
"Disappointed?" Reena asked.
"Awed," Lera answered. "You're second in command at Gerudo Fortress."
Reena eyed her, "And you know that how?"
"Him," Lera answered, nodding her head at him. "Did you see my parents? They'll kill you if you haven't yet."
"Yes," Link answered.
"Good, because I don't want to hear about it for the next three years," she muttered.
"Glad to see you too," Link said, rolling his eyes. "How have you been, Princess Lera?"
"Alright," she said, shrugging. "Had to kill a few people."
"Boys?" Link asked, eyeing her.
Lera waved her hand dismissively. "Same thing."
"I like this girl," Reena said, casting an eye at Link. "Exceptional swordswoman, hates men, and clever. Maybe Nabooru will accept you."
A grin cracked from Lera. "I can hope. Thanks…for helping me. If I ever want to be able to lead an army into battle, I've gotta get better. My instructor tells me everyday."
"I don't know what he's talking about," Link said, shaking his head. "You beat him nearly every time!"
"No, he can still corner me," Lera sighed. She cast a thankful glance at Reena. "However, I think I'll be able to overcome it."
"Just keep practicing, despite what he tells you," Reena told her. "You're quick. Very quick. I have a feeling you'll master the task soon."
Lera shrugged. "Well, I've got plenty of time on my hands. I've got three, maybe a year or more than that, before I've got to worry about ruling."
"We're doomed," Link joked. Lera cast an evil glare at him. Link laughed and ruffled her hair. She hit him on the arm and Link winced. Lera recoiled.
"…Sorry…," she said. "I forgot that you're a walking bruise."
"Be quiet, you," Link said. "You had better go clean up before your parents see you like this."
"I think I look stunning like this," Lera protested, getting to her feet. "Don't say a word, Link."
Link and Reena watched the princess leave, waving her sword and lunging at imaginary foes. She closed the door and Link looked over at Reena. A smile was on her face. Link wasn't sure what it was about.
"She's got great potential," Reena said. "She's a good fighter. A few times she nearly caught me off-guard. Nearly. If she keeps her feet moving, she'll become an honorable fighter."
"Great swordsmanship runs in their family," Link agreed. "I don't know if you know this, but the Queen and King are both legendary fighters."
"Really?" Reena asked, genuinely amazed. "Well, that makes me look at them differently."
Link let a small smile come to his face. Reena got to her feet, her swords drawn. Link eyed her, but didn't need to ask what she wanted do. He was on his feet in a moment, however, his lack of weapons was a problem.
"You had better hurry," Reena said. "Before I come and find you and we fight in the halls."
"I'll be back."
The sun beat down on Reena, warming her cold skin. The wind was trying its hardest to make her go inside, but she refused. She had been inside nearly all the other day and she had been longing to go outside. A smirk came to Reena as she examined her surroundings. The fifteen guards she had to pass in the shadows made her think that she wasn't allowed to be here.
She lay in a small courtyard that had a small moat running along the edge. Stairs led to a window that spied on the King and Queen's throne and other windows looked into different areas. She found it calming here, as if it were a secret only meant for her.
A flash disrupted her deep thinking and Reena got on her elbows. She eyed Impa and lay back down.
"How'd you get in here?" Impa asked. She seemed amused, not irritated. Reena smirked.
"It wasn't hard to get past the guards," Reena answered. "However, your little move would be a lot more effective."
Reena saw Impa smirk at her comment. She sat down next to Reena, resting an arm on a drawn up knee.
"Have you been with Link this whole time?" Impa asked.
Reena nodded. She wondered if another interrogation was coming.
"I had a feeling you weren't going to kill him," she said. Reena smirked.
"No, I haven't found the time yet," Reena answered. "He catches me every time."
Impa let a small smile come to her face. "Why did you start helping him? You're second in command at Gerudo Fortress if I've heard correctly."
Reena went to answer, but stopped. Why had she left? She hadn't left the Gerudo…had she? Reena swallowed hard. She hadn't been to the fortress in Termina ever since she left with Link. She left to fight Ganondorf. To make him pay. Hadn't she?
"Ganondorf killed my people," Reena decided to answer. "I'm going to make him pay."
"Will you go back?" Impa asked.
Again Reena tried to answer instantly. Again she found herself thinking. She narrowed her eyes.
"Why does it concern you?" Reena demanded. She was agitated to hear Impa letting out a quiet laugh.
"Don't get upset," she answered. "I was only asking."
"Alright, I don't know if I'll return, happy?" Reena asked, rolling onto her stomach. She plucked at the grass absentmindedly. The Sheikah had got her thinking. "Why do you do that? You Sheikah have a knack for getting someone to question their plans."
Reena knew she heard a laugh. Impa turned to her. "You make yourself question, not us."
"And that too," Reena said. "You never give the answer that we're looking for!"
Impa only smiled into the distance. Reena let out an agitated sigh and laid her head in the grass, closing her eyes.
"Princess Lera has become quite attached to you," Impa said. Reena smiled into the grass as the tall, blonde haired, browned eyed, fifteen year old came into her mind.
"She's clever and a quick learner," Reena answered.
"She's a lot like you," Impa summarized. Reena looked at the Sheikah and nodded.
"You know her well," Reena muttered. "And seem to think you know me. You've only seen me twice."
"True," Impa agreed with a nod. "However, Link's stories kept me informed of you."
"Just what did he all say about me?" Reena asked, intrigued now. "Because I…don't know that much about him…I realized not to long ago."
"He's a mystery," Impa said, nodding her head. "Many don't know his story. Only those he wishes to tell. And that isn't many at all. I only know bits and pieces of his past."
"You make it sound like he's got some big secret," Reena murmured. She saw Impa's expression and eyed her. "What don't I know?"
"That all depends," Impa said.
"Are you going to get al philosophical with me?" Reena demanded. "Can't you just tell me?"
"I told you, I don't know that much either," Impa answered. "You'll have to ask him yourself."
"Oh yeah, I'll walk up to him and ask, 'Link, why are you such a mystery? Tell me about the past you don't want anyone to know.' That'll work like a charm," Reena said.
"If you ask him like that, you won't get anywhere," Impa said.
"I know that," Reena said, rolling her eyes. She sighed. "I'll learn someday."
She saw Impa smirk and irritation well up in her. Sheikah. They were very confusing and frustrating. They knew things that many wanted to find out and wouldn't tell.
"So, are you Princess Lera's caretaker?" Reena asked after a moment.
Impa nodded. "I was also Zelda's caretaker."
Reena nodded, trying hard not to sigh. Enough with Zelda. She was dead! People around here acted as if she were just hiding, ready to suddenly jump out. If the princess had been hidden, they would have found her by now.
"Er…I'm not sure if I want to step into an inferno…," Reena admitted.
"Are you scared?" Link chided.
"No!" Reena said, narrowing her eyes at him. "I just don't want to be burned beyond recognition! Visions of you at our second meeting are coming to mind!
"You can wait outside," Link said, smirking and walking into Dodongo's Cavern.
Reena's mouth dropped open and she dashed after him. "You did not just say that!"
Link felt her fingers close around his neck. He tried to laugh, but a gagging noise only came from his throat. His hands flew to his neck, jerking Reena's away.
"Okay, that was not funny!" he cried.
"I'm not scared," Reena said sweetly, walking ahead of him. "Spider!"
"What?" Link demanded, taking a step back. Hysterical laughter told him the truth. Link glowered at her and caught up to her. "That was so low. So low!"
"That was so funny!" Reena answered, snickers emerging from her. She wrapped her arms around her stomach, her ribs beginning to hurt from laughing.
"Enough from you," Link said, hitting her on the head. Reena straightened and again fiddled with her new clothing. Link smirked at her difficulty to adjusting. "Too much clothing for you?"
"Oh, shut up!" Reena snapped.
"I'm quite flattered really," Link admitted. Reena glared.
"I'm not impersonating you," Reena hissed.
However, though she didn't want to admit it, she could see where he got that idea. She wore a pale blue tunic similar to Link's. The only major difference was how one side of the tunic was tied together with criss-crossing cords of leather. A long white sleeved shirt covered the skin that was exposed. Leggings ran from underneath, leading into boots on her feet. A belt went around her waist, keeping it close to her body. Men in Kakariko village had already flaunted their feelings on her attire. It made her sick.
"I'm just too beautiful," Reena said, brushing her hair over her shoulders.
"Er…no," Link said. However, his mind was thinking otherwise. "However, those in Kakariko Village would disagree with me."
"Yeah, and your girlfriends wait for the day for you to rescue them from the monsters," Reena shot back at him.
"I've heard enough from you," Link muttered. "Did you get that idea from your fairytale book? Do you dream of a Knight in Shining Armor to come and whisk you away?"
"No! Where do you come up with these ideas?" Reena demanded.
"Do you wish you were a princess and that your Knight would save you from harm?" Link continued, laughter breaking up his taunts.
"No!" Reena cried, stopping in her tracks in horror.
"I bet you dream that up every night," Link said, walking ahead of her.
"I'm going to kill you!" Reena shouted. She had barley taken a step when the ground began to shake. Small stones and dust rained down from the ceiling, trying to choke Reena and Link. They caught up to each other, looking around for what was causing the eruption.
"What's happening?" Reena demanded over the noise.
"Questions later! Run!"
Link answered, grabbing her hand and following his own advice. They raced towards the entrance that gave the only light. Darkness suddenly swallowed them. Reena felt her veins run cold as a laugh echoed through the tunnel. Metal rang and Reena looked frantically for the foe. Her swords were out instantly, but there was no sign of anything. Link walked up next to her and she realized his sword was what had sounded. He slowly backed up towards their exit and felt what blocked it. Irritation welled up inside him as he hit the boulder that glared at them.
"We're trapped," Link hissed. He leaned his head against the rock, closing his eyes. It was getting tedious. "It was Ganondorf."
"Well, there's a surprise," Reena muttered. "He is trying to kill us."
Link remained silent. There had to be a way to get out. He ran his hands over the boulder, looking for anything that would help with their escape. There was nothing. "I should have known it was a trap."
"Oh, shut up!" Reena said. "Get it through your head that you are only Hylian! You aren't a god!"
"Does the fact that we're stuck in here mean anything to you?" Link demanded.
"We'll get out!" Reena answered, throwing her arms up in the air. "It's not like we haven't been in a tight place before! Just shut up before you start blaming this on you!"
"I of all people should know that Ganondorf would try and lock us in here!" Link said, turning on her. "This is the next place he'd attack because we just came from Zora's domain, Gerudo Fortress is gone, the Kokiri have nearly been wiped out, and Kakariko Village was taken over! Failure-"
Excruciating pain erupted in Link's jaw. He crashed to the ground, hitting his head against the wall. The tunnel spun and he could barely sit up and leaned against the stone. His head cleared enough to see Reena crouching in front of him.
"Listen," she said sharply, pointing a threatening finger at him. "I can't stand it how hard you are. You're 18 and saving Hyrule. Do you even know what failure is? It's not even trying. It's giving up when you haven't come to every conclusion. I've seen it. But it's not something I've ever seen in you."
Link looked at Reena, tasting blood in his mouth. He had never found Zelda. He had given up when no more leads had been discovered.
"I know what you're thinking," Reena said. "That wasn't failure either. There was nothing you could do. There's proof! You didn't stop till a year after it was apparent there was nothing else! That is persistent my friend."
Reena stood and held her hand out. Link took it, pulling himself up. She looked at him for a moment, an understanding silence passed between them.
"Well, there's only one way to go," Link said, dabbing the corner of his bleeding mouth. "You ready?"
"I'm done hitting and lecturing you," Reena answered.
"Good because I think my jaw is broken," Link answered as they walked towards a faint red glow.
"Please," Reena said, waving her hand and dismissing his comment. "It's merrily bruised. Besides, you needed it."
"…Yeah," Link said quietly. "Thanks."
Reena put her arm around his shoulder. "That's what I'm here for. And you're too tall! There goes the sentimental value! Nice job!"
"This way," echoed Link's voice.
"Are you sure? Because that's the only way to go," Reena said, rolling her eyes.
Link glared and led them down the long corridor. Bats dripped from the ceiling, swooping down and clawing at them. At the end of the hall and iron door loomed over them.
"Like that doesn't raise suspicions," Reena muttered. Link touched the door and seared his hand. He instantly recoiled and winced at the new welts.
"Nice," Reena said, pulling a vile from a small pouch on her belt.
"For once not from your chest," Link teased. "Ow!"
Reena poured the liquid on his hand. In a moment his palm had a cloth tied around the burn.
"You are prone to burns," Reena said.
"Quiet," Link muttered. "Let's figure a way to get inside."
He looked around for something they could use to open the door when Reena suddenly pushed it open. Link stared at her in disbelief at the fact that she hadn't gotten burned.
"Another Gerudo trick?" Link asked.
"No, common sense," Reena answered, showing the fabric around her hand.
Link glowered at her and followed her through the door. Heat suffocated them the moment they stepped through the door. It slammed shut behind them and Reena eyed it. She took the cloth from her hand and tying her hair back up with it.
"Oh please, no," Link moaned.
"What …oh damn," Reena breathed.
"Yes…," Link answered.
"Okay, I'm scared now," Reena admitted.
The ground shook with ever step the monstrous dodongo took. It let out an earth shattering roar and charged.
"…I'm scared too," Link answered, looking at her.
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