The Coming of the Princess
One Year Later
It was a crisp, sunny day late in the fall. The few trees in Castle Town still had some fiery leaves clinging tenaciously to their branches. More—mostly brown—littered the streets and clattered along the stone roads when the cool wind blew.
It was early in the morning, not long after sunrise; there was still a dampness in the air. In the wide, green fields outside of town, a low-level mist hovered over the ground, trying valiantly to defy the burning power of the morning sun. Dew glittered on every grass stem, and children playing outside hunted for spiderwebs in the dark nooks along the city walls, marveling at their transformation into a fine lace set with sparkling diamonds. But one touch of the finger on a study support thread and the web vibrated, shaking loose its dewdrops and fading back into obscurity.
The merchants were still unpacking their merchandise in their stalls, which lined all the major thoroughfares in Castle Town, when a shriek pierced high into the air. All eyes went up as the first firework exploded above the castle.
"The baby! The baby's been born!" everyone shouted, wanting to be the first to tell their neighbor. Speculation as to the gender of the baby ran high, and a few enterprising business men started taking bets.
People—still rubbing the sleep from their eyes, wiping breakfast from their mouths, and pulling on clothes and shoes—rushed outside to gaze up into the sky as rocket after rocket was set off in blue, green, red, and white fizzing bursts.
The pyrotechnic display continued for several minutes, then suddenly fell silent. Every breath was held in anticipation for a long moment, then…
One of the great canons along the wall of the castle exploded, discharging a golden-orange spray of burning wadding.
The next cannon in line went off a moment later.
The people in town counted under their breath.
Four. Five. Six. Seven.
Thirteen. Fourteen. Fifteen.
Everyone froze, tense—waiting to see if there would be one more boom or not. But the timing of the cannonade was off; the twenty-first should have already exploded. Maybe there was a problem with it?
Just when the anticipation felt like it was too much to bear, a lone firework whistled up into the sky and exploded in an orangey-pink burst, signaling the end of the cannon salute.
Twenty cannons. A princess!
The bells in the town peeled wildly, without any sense of rhythm. People cheered. Men threw their hats into the air. Women hugged each other, crying, then laughing because they didn't know why they were crying. Children screamed and jumped just because they could, and dogs hopped alongside them, barking because they didn't know what was going on, but they liked it. Only the cats slunk away and hid from all the ruckus.
The major of Castle Town was quick to run up to the third-floor balcony of his mansion, which overlooked the fountain in the center of the city, and he had one of his servants blow a brass trumpet to call the people to order.
Those in the fountain square paused in their revelry to listen to the mayor. In a loud voice, he shouted out to everyone who could hear him.
"Gods be praised for our new princess and heir to the throne of Hyrule. In honor of this momentous occasion, I'm declaring a three-day holiday!"
The people erupted in cheering as loud as ever. The town's volunteer band struck up the national anthem of Hyrule and men doffed their caps—those who had managed to recover theirs, that is—and everyone stood up proudly and sang with tears in their eyes.
"When the gods made the world,
They made the kingdoms three:
The north, and the east, and the land by the sea.
Hyrule, Hyrule, kingdom by the sea,
Fairest of the fair and greatest of the three!
What I wouldn't give for the keeping of thee!"
Then the women and servants hurried to snatch up the best produce and meat and fish so their families could celebrate with a holiday dinner. The merchants were so overwhelmed by the demand, they sold whole crates of food still unpacked, and bidding for the last few items reached a fever-pitch. Meanwhile, many of the men in town headed for the pubs, where it was standing-room only and it took a good ten minutes to get a drink. The bar-boys were having to run their legs off fetching kegs of ale up from the cellar; almost as soon as a keg was tapped, it was emptied.
That night, there was a full fireworks display over town, and everyone crowded into the streets and craned their necks up to see it. The fountain was dyed pink in honor of the new princess, and the mayor announced that the Royal Family had a goodwill-gift to share with the revelers.
One of the lesser palace gates was thrown open and carts, pulled by teams of draft horses, rolled down the street and into the fountain square. On each flat-bed cart was a massive barrel of ale—each wider than three men could ring. The people cheered as the palace servants tapped the giant barrels and each man could help himself, free of charge. The pubs might have resented the presence of all that free ale, except that every last one of them had run out hours before and they had all shut down and their staff joined the people in the streets.
People invited each other over for meals and it could be a delicate dance to not offend anyone by refusing an invitation, even though no one could possibly accept all of them, plus host one.
So it was quite a shock when, two days into the three-day-holiday, a canon suddenly exploded.
The noise in the street died down. Dinner guests and hosts eating their fourth meal of the day looked at each in confusion.
People went to their windows and looked out. They called down to the people below, but they didn't know anymore than the people inside.
All conversation died away as the people anxious listened to the continuing canon fire.
It continued on and on and on. Only a few people seemed to be keeping count, and after several minutes, their neighbors turned to them to check the number. Then the information was passed through the assembly like fire through a field of dead grass.
Twenty-five. Thirty. Thirty-five.
Then a great silence fell over the city. The booming of the canon had been so loud, people at first thought the ringing was just in their ears but… wait… no, it was the great bell in the clock tower ringing.
Then the bells of the sanctuary on the west side of town started somberly tolling. A moment later, the people could hear the faint chiming of the bells in the monastery which was outside the town's east wall.
The people were in shock. They had no words for what they felt. One moment they were celebrating the birth of the heir to the throne, and the next their queen was dead.
The mayor quietly announced three days of mourning. The next day, the palace gates were thrown open once again, but this time to allow the funeral cortege of the queen to pass through. People stood silently in massive crowds and hung out upper-story windows to catch a glimpse of the queen lying in state as her funeral coach slowly passed through the town and out the east gate to the monastery. There, dignitaries from all the major cities of the world—down to the mayors of the tiniest hamlets in Hyrule—and visiting royalty who had come to celebrate the presentation of the princess of Hyrule, witnessed together the funeral and burial of the Queen of Hyrule.
So great was the people's grief over the tragic loss of their queen, hardly any of them noticed the announcement—lovingly and elaborately decorated with gilded scrollwork—which was placed outside the main gate of the palace, announcing the name of the newest member of the royal family: Zelda.