Arrival at Pallis
Link and Zelda hurried to collect her arrows from the bodies of the demon-bats; she had too few to waste them. Then, because they would resurrect, Zelda transformed into a horse again and she and Link galloped across the dark plain, back towards the middle.
"This seems to be the only safe place," Link said when Zelda slowed to a walk. "I suppose demons, like real animals, want a place to hide."
Or maybe they only come out at night.
"I hadn't thought about that," Link said. He mulled it over for a few minutes. "Yes, you could be right," he said at last. "Since they're from the Dark World, it's possible—even probable—that they prefer the dark. Maybe they can't even be out in the light."
Doesn't it make more sense for us to sleep during the day, when we'll be safe, and move at night? That way, at least we'll be awake if they come for us.
"I think that sounds like an excellent idea."
Zelda felt she was starting to get the hang of thinking strategically.
She walked most of the night—too tired to do more. By the time it started to grow lighter, she was practically sleep-walking and Link kept leaning to one side or the other until he startled himself awake.
"Let's stop," he said at last.
They ate their fish, then lay down together—each clutching their weapons securely—and fell into an exhausted sleep that not even the sunlight could disturb when, at last, it began to break through the clouds.
By the time they woke, the sun was setting.
"Look at that," Link said in awe.
Zelda sat up beside him and looked. The sun was a ball of orange flame sinking towards the western horizon. It cast its light on the mountains, setting the snow on fire and coloring the valleys in pink and deep shades of purple.
They sat for a long time, just watching the sky and the mountains go through the entire array of colors: blue to green and yellow, then orange and pink, followed by violet and indigo and deep midnight blue. Then the entire sky filled with shimmering silver stars.
"I don't care much for the excessive number of cloudy days," Link said, at last pushing himself to his feet, "but the sunsets on the mountains might make it worth living here."
Thus began an endless pattern of days: wake at dark and eat fish; travel all night with a brief rest and some fish around midnight; then stop, eat some more fish and sleep during the day. Sometimes they had some actual sunlight or their night was lit by the moon, but for the most part the sky remained cloudy. Thankfully they didn't encounter any more demons, but the monotony and depressing scenery created such a numbness in them that both secretly wished something interesting would happen—even if meant a demon attack.
They made good time, though, so that on the tenth day of their journey, Link broke their long silence with much-anticipated news. "Look!" he said excitedly.
Zelda lifted her head and, in the distance, she could see dots of light on the side of the mountain.
"That must be Pallis," Link said.
Suddenly they were both filled with life again and Zelda set off at a gallop. But the lights in the darkness were deceptive; the city was farther away than it appeared. Even with alternating between galloping and walking, it was morning before they came to Pallis's city walls.
The city was large—larger than Castle Town—and it rose above the plain in a series of terraces set into the mountain behind it. Nearly every house in town had an unimpeded view of the plain to the south.
Above it all, on the highest terrace, rose Erenrue Castle, tall and majestic. Everywhere banners and pennants fluttered in the cool spring air: blue with three white mountains set in the center.
Link pulled his stocking cap down over his ears, then he and Zelda entered the city through the western gate along with a small but steady stream of foot traffic and horse- and ox-carts. As they moved through the cobbled streets, people stopped to stare or exclaim to their neighbors.
"Look, he's riding that horse without a bride or saddle."
"It's so calm!"
"How is he controlling it?"
Well, Your Highness, Link said, if your family won't help us, it looks like we can make a living for ourselves as circus entertainers.
She whinnied her disapproval of that idea.
A small gaggle of boys standing on one corner watched them pass with open-mouth astonishment. One of the smaller boys was pushed forward by hands unseen.
"Ask him," someone hissed.
Link looked down at the boy.
"H-hey, mister," the boy said nervously, as he walked alongside Link and Zelda, "can I touch your horse?"
Link thought about it for a moment, then smiled. "You can if you'll help me out."
"What?" the body said eagerly.
"I'm going to the castle. Can you show me the best way to get there from here?"
"The castle?" the boy said in awe. "Sure."
Link leaned down and picked the boy up, setting him in front. The other little boys gasped in surprise and envy.
"Show me," Link said.
The boy pointed down a narrow street, flanked by tall, two- and three-story houses. "That's the shortest way," he said.
Zelda turned down the street.
"Hey, mister," the boy said, growing bolder, "how does your horse know where to go?"
"She's very smart."
"Do you always ride without a bridle or anything?"
"On this horse, always."
"But… but what if she tried to run off or something?"
"What's her name?"
"Where are you from?"
"Really?" he said, awe-struck again. "That's a long, long ways away."
"Tell me about it. We've been traveling for weeks."
They turned a corner and Zelda came to a halt; there was a set of stairs up to the next street.
"Oh, I forgot," the boy said with disappointment. "This way has stairs. You'll have to take the long way around. There's a road that goes to the castle without any stairs; it's for the delivery carts."
"Stairs aren't a problem," Link said. He wrapped his arms around the boy and grabbed and handful of Zelda's mane. "Hang on," he warned.
A moment later, Zelda scrambled up the stairs, sending pedestrians scrambling to get out of her way.
"How did you like that?" Link asked with a laugh as they topped the stairs.
With the boy's eager directions—and a couple more sets of stairs—they at last reached the massive front gate of Erenrue Castle. There were two guards standing outside watching them with the same curiosity as everyone else.
"I think I better go in alone," Link said quietly. "We don't know if it's safe for you."
"Who are you talking to, mister?" the boy asked, turning back to look at Link.
Link smiled. "The horse, of course."
"Can she understand you?"
"Everything I say. And more besides."
Link hopped off, then picked up the little boy and set him on his feet. "Would you stay here with her? Make sure no one bothers her. She's worth more than my life."
"Alright," the boy said, gaping at Link with early-onset hero-worship.
Link slowly approached the guards, who stood up a little straighter when they saw Link meant to engage them.
"Stop and state your business," one of them said.
Link did as he was commanded—standing well out of reach of their poleaxes. "I am a messenger from Hyrule. I bring the king urgent news."
The two guards exchanged looks. "I'll go," one of them said. "Wait here," he commanded Link, before stepping through a small door cut in the large gate.
Link waited for several long minutes, but the guard finally returned. "Come in," he said, gesturing to Link to follow him through the door in the gate.
Link glanced back at Zelda and the boy. "Wait here until you hear from me," he told both of them, then he ducked through the small door after the guard.