The history of the royal family of Hyrule is also the history of Calamity Ganon, a primal evil that has endured over the ages. This evil has been turned back time and time again by a warrior wielding the soul of a hero, and a princess who carries the blood of the Goddess. With the passage of time, each conflict with Ganon faded into legend. So listen closely as I tell you of this “legend” that occurred 10,000 years ago.
Hyrule was then blossoming as a highly advanced civilization. Even the most powerful monsters posed little threat to the denizens of the realm. The people thought it wise to utilize their technological prowess to ensure the safety of the land, should Calamity Ganon ever return. They constructed four mechanical wonders that came to be known as the Divine Beasts. They also built a legion of autonomous weapons called Guardians. The Divine Beasts were piloted by four individuals of exceptional skill from across the land. And thus, the plan to neutralize Ganon was forged.
Upon Ganon’s inevitable return to Hyrule, the princess and the hero fought alongside these four champions against this ancient evil. The Guardians were tasked with protecting the hero as the Divine Beasts unleashed a furious attack upon their terrible foe. And when the hero wielding the sword that seals the darkness delivered his final blow, the princess used her sacred power to seal away Calamity Ganon.
To know Calamity Ganon’s true form, once must know the story from an age long past. The demon king was born into this kingdom, but his transformation into Malice created the horror you see now. Stories of Ganon were passed from generation to generation in the form of legends and fairies tales. But there was also a prophecy. “The signs of a resurrection of Calamity Ganon are clear. And the power to oppose it lies dormant beneath the ground.”
We decided to heed the prophecy and began excavating large areas of land. It wasn’t long before we discovered several ancient relics made by the hands of our distant ancestors. These relics, the Divine Beasts, were giant machines piloted by warriors. We also found the Guardians, an army of mechanical soldiers who fought autonomously. This coincided with ancient legends, oft repeated throughout our land.
We also learned of a princess with a sacred power and her appointed knight, chosen by the sword that seals the darkness. It was they who sealed Ganon away using the power of these ancient relics. One hundred years ago, there was a princess set to inherit a sacred power and a skilled knight at her side. It was clear that we must follow our ancestors’ path.
We selected four skilled individuals from across Hyrule and tasked them with the duty of piloting the Divine Beasts. With the princess as their commander, we dubbed these pilots Champions - a name that would solidify their unique bond. The princess, her appointed knight, and the rest of the Champions were on the brink of sealing away Ganon. But nay. Ganon was cunning, and he responded with a plan beyond our imagining...
-- King Rhoam Bosphoramus Hyrule2: Chapter One - The Champions
The four chosen Champions took a knee before the king of Hyrule and his daughter. Revali, the gifted Rito archer. Daruk, the Goron. Urbosa, the Gerudo. And Mipha, the young, warrior Zora princess. Assigned with the task to man their respected Divine Beasts in the war against Ganon, as spoken in the prophecies, they stood tall, proud, and brave. Even little Mipha.
Zelda let her gaze linger on the younger Zora princess a moment longer. She couldn’t quite make sense of the emotion she felt, akin to jealousy. Perhaps she just didn’t want to admit it - couldn’t admit that a part of her wished her role was… different. Years of training with nothing to show for it. And now her father, King Rhoam, was taking action, as if their world were already in danger.
There had been no sign of Ganon’s resurrection. But, should the prophecies be true, the time to take action was now. Zelda knew this. As heir to the throne, her father made sure she knew this; that the kingdom would soon be her responsibility, and she could leave nothing up to chance. The fate of their world depended on her.
Zelda watched as the chosen Champions took their leave for the evening. She stood still at her father’s side until the doors were closed behind them, then she turned to her father, who was already walking across the the throne room to his own chambers.
“I’d like you to perform the ceremony tomorrow,” the king said to his daughter without turning to her. “It is only appropriate to keep with the traditions of our ancestors and under the blessings of the Goddess, Hylia.”
Zelda followed her father as he navigated the castle halls. She made a face of disdain, then looked up quickly. Thankfully, her father had not caught it. Despite being raised a princess, sometimes, she couldn’t help but to let her true emotions slip through. It was only human, afterall. Could anyone really blame her? But, of course, she was sure to remain a professional out in the public eye.
“Yes, father,” she replied softly. “Though, I think -”
“I know what you think,” the king interrupted. He narrowed his eyes at her over his shoulder. “You made that clear.”
“Revali seems to agree that it is… unnecessary.”
“And when you rule this land, you can make that decision,” the king said, his voice harder. “You will not disrespect my decision as king or question my choices, do you understand?”
“I… yes, father.” Zelda fell a few steps behind him, feeling ashamed. It wasn’t that she was trying to argue with her father. That was never her intent. She never meant to be disrespectful towards him, but she could read the expression on Revali’s face herself. What did the ceremony prove, anyway?
He was grooming her, of course, to take his place as ruler of Hyrule. Ceremonies of all sorts were a part of the job; there was no getting away from that. But Zelda couldn’t help feel frustrated by it all. With so much at stake, why was it okay to waste time on this?
And for him?
Zelda hesitated to voice her opinions once more on the matter. “I… must admit that I’m unsure he is fit for such a task,” she said quietly.
“Unfit?” her father repeated, almost amused. “Zelda, he’s one of the best knights we have. He’s the captain of the royal army. How could you consider him unfit for the job?”
“He’s quite young,” Zelda said. In truth, she didn’t particularly care for Link. She’d be lying if she said he wasn’t a talented swordsman. But it all felt rather on the nose to her. And really, he wouldn’t have been noticed if he weren’t born into the royal guard. He had the advantage of being trained by his father, a once great knight as well. In fact, it was all just being handed to him, really, just because of some prophecy; some sword that fell into his lap and chose him as its master. Zelda had to focus her gaze ahead in an attempt to keep herself from rolling her eyes.
“He is the chosen one, Zelda,” King Rhoam said sternly to his daughter. “Whether you like it or not. His fate has been tied to this world just as yours has, and you must accept that. The prophecies are coming true; Ganon will rise again. The sword would not have chosen otherwise. It is in his blood just as it is in yours.” He paused a moment, his expression softening. “He is a gifted swordsman,” the king continued. “And he’s your age. I would think you would appreciate that. You must give him a chance; you hardly know him.”
The princess forced herself to keep her composure, turning her nose up just slightly at her father. “So, you’re going to leave my life and the fate of our world in this boy’s hands?”
“This is not up for discussion, Zelda,” King Rhoam growled at her. “He has more than proven himself. My decision is final. All you must do now is focus on your training and awakening the power that sleeps inside of you. That is your role.”
Zelda averted her gaze, pinching her lips together slightly. Her role. She had heard those words too many times. Her fate, predetermined before she was even born. There was no escaping this life she was thrown into. She had no choice. It was her duty to help save a kingdom that wasn’t even under any threat. Not yet.
Her shoulders drooped slightly, defeated. There was no sense in arguing with her father. He was right, afterall. She had a role to play in this, whether she liked it or not. The future of their world rested on her shoulders. She could not let her kingdom - or her father - down. She had no choice but to fulfill her role and save the kingdom, from whatever may happen.
She watched her father disappear into his chambers, the door closing behind him. She turned away, keeping her composure as best as she could as she walked away and back through the castle. The day was still young and she had promised to meet Impa at Kakariko Village to research the ancient technology built by the Sheikah.
As she walked with her guards in tow, she passed the barracks. She stopped on the balcony to watch the soldiers train for a moment. Her eyes eventually found the young, blond haired boy that stood out amongst the other soldiers. His gaze drifted up to hers for a moment. Zelda forced her eyes away, ignoring him, and continued onward to prepare for her trip to the village.
After meeting with the Champions, I left to research the ancient technology, but nothing of note came of my research. The return of Ganon looms - a dark force taunting us from afar. I must learn all I can about the relics so we can stop him. If the fortune-teller’s prophecy is to be believed, there isn’t much time left. Ah, but turning over these thoughts in my head puts me ill at ease. I suppose I should turn in for the night.
P.S. Tomorrow my father is assigning HIM as my appointed knight…3: Chapter Two - The Hero of Hyrule (Subdued Ceremony)
“Hero of Hyrule, chosen by the sword that seals the darkness. You have shown unflinching bravery and skill in the face of darkness and adversity and have proven yourself worthy of the blessings of the Goddess Hylia. Whether skyward bound, adrift in time, or steeped in the glowing embers of twilight, the sacred blade is forever bound to the soul of the Hero. We pray for your protection, and we hope that - that the two of you will grow stronger together as one.”
Zelda let her arm fall and sighed softly. She let her gaze linger for a moment on Link as he knelt before her, then lifted her arm again to continue.
“Gee, this is uplifting,” Daruk said, his hand scratching behind his head. “She’s making it sound like we already lost.” His gaze softened as he watched the two young Hylians.
“Wasn’t this your idea?” Revali said, turning to the Goron, his expression skeptical. “You’re the one who wanted to designate the appointed knight with all the ceremonial pomp, grandeur, and nonsense we could muster!” He threw a wing in the air, then turned back towards the princess and her newly appointed knight as they continued the ceremony. “And if you ask me, the whole thing does seem to be overkill. I think I’m on the same page as the princess regarding… this boy .”
Urbosa turned to the Rito. “Oh, give it a rest,” she said, just barely repressing the urge to roll her eyes at him. “That boy is a living reminder of her own failures. Well, at least that’s how the princess sees him.”
Zelda averted her gaze as she finished speaking, aware of the eyes of the Champions’ on her. She pulled her arm away, then let her gaze turn back to Link. She studied him for a moment as her thoughts began to wander. How easily his role was already fulfilled. The boy chosen by the sacred Master Sword. It was so simple. And yet, she struggled with her own destiny; struggled to awaken the sealing magic inside of her that was supposed to seal away Ganon once and for all. How could their world survive any war, even with a chosen hero, if she could not fulfill her own role in this?
Zelda straightened and lifted her chin. She concluded the ceremony, then instructed Link to rise to his feet. As he did so, she turned to the other four Champions.
“The five of you have been chosen as Champions to man the Divine Beasts that will aid us in bringing down Calamity Ganon,” Zelda said. “We do not know when Ganon will strike, so I suggest you focus your efforts in learning everything you can about your respected Divine Beast and how to command them best. I will do everything in my power to gather as much research as I can to make this easier for all of you.” Zelda hesitated. “We cannot possibly do this alone, without these Divine Beasts.” She sucked in a breath quietly. “But together, I have no doubt we will be able to stop Calamity Ganon from his terror.”
“You can count on us, Princess,” Daruk said enthusiastically. “Calamity Ganon won’t stand a chance with Daruk in command of that Divine Beast.”
“Yes, well,” Revali started. “Some of us don’t need tools like Divine Beasts or” - he narrowed his eyes at Link - “swords to bring down a powerful foe.”
“Fortunately, we have these tools to our advantage,” Urbosa said, shooting a careful glare in Revali’s direction. “And it is wise of us to use every advantage we are given in this fight.”
“I will be visiting each of you to make some adjustments on your Divine Beasts,” Zelda said. “We’ll be fully prepared to defend ourselves and retaliate in no time.”
“Looks like we should get moving, then,” Daruk said, scratching behind his head. “I’ve got a long trip home.”
“Pity,” Revali said as he stretched his wings out. He shot up into the air, his wings at his side until he reached his desired altitude where he opened his wings once more. “See you on the battlefield,” he called before soaring through the air and disappearing into the clouds.
Zelda watched as the Rito disappeared, then began walking back towards the castle. “I’m going to see Impa in Kakariko Village,” she said over her shoulder. “She’ll want to see you, too.”
Link hesitated and caught Mipha’s gaze. She offered him a reassuring smile.
“Good luck,” she said softly as he walked by her.
“Thanks,” Link muttered. “I’ll need it. She hates me.”
“Give her a chance,” Mipha said. “She can’t possibly hate you.”
When Zelda sensed that Link was not following her, she turned around and waited, making sure to look visibly impatient with him without saying a word. She turned back around and Link hurried after her without another word to Mipha.
Zelda hardly spoke a word to Link as they returned to the castle. It was still early in the day and she was eager to begin the trip to Kakariko Village to continue their research. Robbie had been working tirelessly on restoring some of the Guardians they had found, and there was still much to learn about the Sheikah Slate and the Divine Beasts. Zelda didn’t know how much time they really had left, but she wasn’t about to waste a minute of it.
Fortunately, after she had changed in preparation for the long ride, Link already had the horses saddled and waiting just outside the castle. She resisted the urge to make a sarcastic comment and, without so much a thank you to Link, mounted her horse.
They rode silently away from the castle and across Hyrule field for most of their journey, each lost in their own thoughts. From time to time, Zelda dropped her reins to inspect the Sheikah Slate she kept on her hip. She turned it over and over, as if expecting to find some solution or hidden key, before sighing and returning it to her hip.
Storm repeatedly put his head down as soon as she did drop the reins and proceeded to graze on the lush, green grass. This only frustrated the princess more as she struggled to lift the horse’s head and kick him forward once more. How foolish that animal was making her look in front of Link.
Eventually, Storm trotted forward, eager to keep up with Link and Epona. With some coaxing, Zelda managed to get Storm ahead, unwilling to trail behind Link or even ride beside him. Storm tossed his head for a moment in refusal before finally giving in to her command.
“You’ll catch more bees with honey,” Link said pointedly.
“Excuse me?” Zelda practically snarled over her shoulder.
“Your horse,” Link said. “He’ll respond better…” Perhaps it was in his best interest to keep the princess from hating him more.
“He’ll respond better if what?” Zelda pressed, narrowing her eyes at him.
“If you were a little nicer,” Link said, his voice softer.
Zelda turned her nose up. “So, not only are you the Chosen One, but the Horse God, too?”
Link bit his tongue and resisted the urge to roll his eyes for fear she would see from the back of her own head. There was simply no talking to her.
They rode on in silence as the sun crested and began its descent. It was late in the afternoon when Zelda spoke.
“I was thinking,” she started, rather conversationally. “About these Guardians. How they’ve survived after thousands of years. It’s quite amazing, actually.” She was peering at the Sheikah Slate once more. “If Robbie can get them working, and if we can find more, we could have an entire army of these machines to help us bring down Ganon.” Zelda looked up thoughtfully, her eyes cast on the horizon. “It makes me wonder what could have happened that resulted in the creation of the Guardians. What could have been so terrible that Hyrule’s army wasn’t enough to defend the kingdom?”
Link said nothing, not that he had anything to say in response. The Guardians were curious machines, and in truth, they only made him anxious. They were intimidating, to say the least. Who knew what they could be capable of if Robbie was able to get them working?
Zelda grew quiet once more as they rode onward. From time to time, she would speak her thoughts out loud, but otherwise, there was no conversation between them. And when they finally arrived at Kakariko Village, it was nearing midnight, and both Zelda and Link were exhausted. Impa and Purrah, however, were still up when they made their appearance.
“I was beginning to think you’d never make it,” Impa said as she approached Zelda.
“Would have been a shame if her own appointed knight failed in simply escorting her to the village,” Purrah said with a playful grin.
“Nonsense,” Impa said, turning to Purrah. “Master Link couldn’t possibly be that incapable.” She turned back to Link and Zelda with a sympathetic smile. “You two must be exhausted,” she said.
“Has Robbie had any success with the Guardians?” Zelda asked, ignoring her own weariness. Being in Kakariko Village brought a wave of curiousness back over her and started to brew anxiously in her chest.
“We can discuss the Guardians tomorrow,” Impa said. “It’s too late for you to worry about them now.”
“I came here to check on his progress,” Zelda said, doing her best to stifle a yawn. “It would be -”
“It would be best if you both got some rest,” Impa pressed further. She put her hands on Zelda’s shoulders, turning her around and pointing her towards the stairs. “You cannot possibly think straight in this state. I can tell you are exhausted.
Zelda sighed softly as she let Impa guide her up the stairs.
Purrah put her hands on her hips and smiled at Link. “Let’s go, Sir Link,” she said playfully. “Heroes need their rest, too.”
Link made sure to keep a few steps behind Zelda as she examined the Guardian. For one, he didn’t want to overstep his bounds and aggravate her as he did the day before. But - and this preceded the first problem - he didn’t want to get too close to the Guardian as it lit to life and scurried about around them.
“Incredible,” Zelda muttered as she gazed upon the machine, her eyes aglow with curiosity and excitement.
Robbie stood proudly beside the machine with a grin. “I got the rest of them working, too,” he said. “And more are being uncovered as we speak. They’re scattered all over Hyrule; our teams are discovering more and more of them every day.”
“And we can control them?” Zelda asked, turning her eyes to Robbie. “Will they be able to help us defend Hyrule?”
“From a hundred Calamities,” Robbie confirmed with a nod.
Zelda smiled her approval. She watched the Guardian as it moved about with its long, mechanical legs, then turned to Link. “Can you imagine an entire army of these?” she said excitedly.
Link hesitated as he watched the Guardian. He nodded - he wasn’t about to admit to the princess that the machines made him uneasy.4: Chapter Three - Vah Medoh (Revali's Flap)
A few days after their return from Kakariko Village, Zelda and Link left Hyrule Castle once more, this time making the journey to Rito Village to check on the Divine Beast Vah Medoh. After traveling most of the day, they stopped at the Tabantha Bridge Stables for the night, letting the horses rest.
Link untacked the horses, allowing them to graze as they settled in for the night. He put the saddles carefully down on the ground beside the fire and dug two apples out of the saddlebags, one for Epona and one for Storm. The horses took their treats eagerly out of Link’s hands and he patted their necks before returning to the fire where Zelda continued to examine the Sheikah Slate, convinced that there was something she had overlooked.
“I wonder if this thing has any connection to those Guardians,” she said as Link sat across from her.
Link pulled out two more apples, tossing one to Zelda before taking a bite out of his own. He looked into the fire thoughtfully, considering the possibility she had suggested.
Zelda sighed and let the slate rest on the ground beside her. She stretched her legs out in front of her and bit into the apple. “Or maybe the Divine Beasts,” she continued thoughtfully. Her brows knit together. “It must. Why else would the Sheikah have created such an item? It wasn’t by accident. But nothing I do seems to work…” Her voice trailed off and she took another bite out of her apple. She finished it in silence, then tossed the core into the fire.
“Impa’s no help at all,” she muttered. “How can she know so little about it?” She looked up at Link who had finished with his own apple and was nibbling on a carrot. She met his gaze and raised a brow towards him.
“There’s an entire forest of boar and deer,” she said, narrowing her eyes at him. “Why don’t you cook one of those up while you’re at it?”
Link seemed to consider this for a moment as he finished his carrot. “I’ve never had boar before.”
Zelda scrunched her nose at him and turned her gaze to the horses. She wasn’t exactly in the mood for conversation. And if she had it her way, they would still be on the road. But Link insisted that the horses need their rest, even though Rito Village wasn’t much further away.
She stretched out next to the fire on her stomach, the Sheikah Slate in her hands once more as she turned it over. She crossed her ankles together, her feet in the air, as she occupied herself with the device. She mumbled to herself from time to time until she could only see by the light of the fire and finally put the slate down once more. She let her chin rest in her palm as she looked across the fire at Link, who was stretched out on the other side, his head against his own saddle, his face turned to the sky and his eyes closed. Beside him, the Master Sword rested on the ground.
She peered curiously at the sword, her mind drifting to the events that had taken place ten thousand years ago, and the hero that wielded it then. If the legends held true, then it made sense that Link, a descendant from that hero long ago, would come to be the Chosen One, just as she, a descendant from Hylia, would have the sealing power inside of her to stop Ganon once and for all.
But all the talk of destinies and legends made her head hurt. Years and years of training for a moment that had yet to arrive, all because legend foretold it. She sighed and closed her eyes to the warmth of the fire. Why did it have to be her?
When Zelda awoke the next morning, Link was busy saddling the horses in preparation to continue their trip to Rito Village. Zelda got to her feet and stretched her arms over her head. The morning was cool, and she knew it was just going to get colder as they neared the village. Link, of course, knew that too, and he tossed her one of the cloaks packed in the saddlebags.
Zelda tossed it over her shoulders and climbed onto Storm as Link mounted Epona. Without a word, they pushed the horses into a gallop and continued on their way to the village. They didn’t slow until the village loomed before them. By this time, it was midmorning, and Zelda couldn’t help but to feel aggravated that they had stopped for the night. But she pushed the thought aside as she caught a glimpse of the Divine Beast soaring over the village.
Link, too, had his eyes turned to the sky as they rode side by side. Even at this distance, he could tell it was a very large machine, yet it drifted so easily though the air, silently. He couldn’t blame Zelda for being so curious about them.
“Amazing, isn’t it?” Zelda said. Despite her earlier aversions to Link, Zelda was growing acclimated to his presence, at least to a point where it was more tolerable. Still, she was skeptical of him, especially since he hardly spoke a word to her. But she spoke nonetheless as they rode side by side, voicing her thoughts out loud, whether he cared to hear them or not.
Mostly, she mused about the Sheikah Slate, the Guardians, and the Divine Beasts. But as they neared Rito Village, she began to wonder about some mysterious columns that supposedly rested far beneath Hyrule Castle.
“I’ve searched every inch of the castle,” she said. “There is absolutely no sign of any column, despite what I’ve read.” She sighed lightly, looking out over the horizon. “The only conclusion I can come to is that the columns are only meant to reveal themselves as a defense against Calamity Ganon. They must be buried deep underground. But I can’t help to wonder how they got there in the first place.” Her voice trailed off in thought.
Link looked ahead of them as Rito Village grew larger as they neared. When they arrived at the foot of the village, they dismounted and followed the steps up as it circled around the tall, rock formation that made up the village. Link looked around like a wide eyed child, admiring the colorful feathers of the Rito as they went about their business. They were a tall, elegant race. Tall like the Gerudo, the Zoras, and the Gorons. Why in Hylia were Hylians so short in comparison?
He hurried after Princess Zelda, feeling like a tiny puppy, despite the powerful sword that rested on his back. They continued to ascend the village until they finally reached the elder, Kaneli, who waited at the highest point of the village. He was alone when they entered but more than happy to see their safe arrival.
“Revali has been working day after day with that Divine Beast,” Kaneli told them. “He’s there from sun up to sundown. He doesn’t rest. Truly determined to master the controls of that machine.”
“I’d like to get to the Divine Beast,” Zelda said. “To make some adjustments to and make sure Revali has it under control.”
Kaneli nodded. “Teba can take you up to Vah Medoh,” he said. “I’m quite certain Revali is already up there.”
Kaneli guided Zelda and Link to the landing platform in the village where the white Rito warrior, Teba, waited. He seemed less than thrilled to be tasked with bringing the princess up to the Divine Beast but obeyed the elder nonetheless. Link watched as Teba and Zelda soared into the sky towards Vah Medoh as the Divine Beast floated along, circling the village.
The air was much cooler at this altitude, and a cold breeze chilled Link slightly as he waited on the platform. However, he was not alone. Three curious young Ritos moved cautiously towards him, their eyes wide as they gazed upon him. Feeling their presence, he turned to them and offered a smile.
“Is that really the Master Sword?” one of them asked.
Amused by their curiosity, Link grinned and pulled the sword from its sheath. Their little beaks dropped opened as the blade glinted in the sunlight. They murmured amongst each other as Link lowered himself to his knees, allowing them to see the sword with their own eyes.
“I told you,” the older one said, shoving his friends with his little wings. “I told you it was real.”
The smallest one met Link’s gaze with worried eyes. “Does that mean Calamity Ganon is real, too?”
Link hesitated, then shrugged. “If he were, I wouldn’t be here,” he reassured them.
“Duh,” the middle one said. “He’s gonna go fight it, remember?”
“You’re gonna fight the Calamity?” the smaller one asked, looking on in awe.
Link nodded and returned the sword to its sheath.
“Revali said he’s gonna fight, too,” the older one said proudly. “And he’s pretty brave. I bet he could take out the Calamity all by himself.”
Link got to his feet. “I’m sure he could,” he said. Clearly they idolized the Rito Champion.
Their little eyes turned up to the sky, watching the Divine Beast as it drifted over head. Their eyes followed something Link could not see and they took off giggling and playing, leaving Link alone on the landing platform. Link turned his gaze to the sky, watching the Divine Beast Vah Medoh with curious eyes as it drifted overhead. The wind picked up suddenly and Link took a step back, watching as a familiar blur of indigo swirled up in the air like a twister before him. Revali’s wings spread open as he let himself down gracefully onto the edge of the platform. He crossed them over his chest with a smirk as he looked down at Link.
“Impressive, I know,” Revali said with confidence. “Very few can achieve a mastery of the sky. Yet I have made an art of creating an updraft that allows me to soar.” His wings moved in the air as he spoke, as if to show off his strength and gusto. “It’s considered to be quite the masterpiece of aerial techniques, even among the Rito. With proper utilization of my superior skills, I see no reason why we couldn’t easily dispense with Ganon.”
Revali clasped his wings together behind his back. He took a step down off the railing, speaking as he walked towards the young Hylian knight. He gazed down condescendingly. “Now then, my ability to explore the firmament is certainly of note. But let’s not - pardon me for being so blunt - let’s not forget the fact that I am the most skilled archer of all the Rito.” He paced circles around Link. “Yet despite these truths, it seems that I have been tapped to merely assist you. All because you happen to have that little darkness sealing sword on your back. I mean, it’s just… asinine.”
Revali turned away for a moment, then narrowed his eyes at Link. His beak pulled up just slightly at the corners in a grin. “Unless you think you can prove me wrong? Maybe we should just settle this one on one? But where?” He looked up into the sky as if stuck in some predicament, as if he needed to prove his worth to anyone like Link. “Oh, I know! How about up there?” He pointed a wing towards the Divine Beast as it soared high in the sky.
Revali turned back to Link with a wide, condescending grin, and laughed. “Oh, you must pardon me. I forgot you have no way of making it up to that Divine Beast on your own!” He turned his back to the knight and spread his wings, then shot up into the air. “Good luck sealing the darkness!” he shouted down to Link before flying up towards Vah Medoh and disappearing into the clouds.
Link watched as Revali disappeared and resisted the urge to roll his eyes at the arrogant Rito. It wasn’t like he volunteered for the duty as Hero of Hyrule, but of course Revali would not see it that way. He sat on the edge of the platform, turning the Master Sword over in his lap, and waited for Princess Zelda to return.5: Chapter Four - Vah Rudania (Resolve and Grief & Daruk's Mettle)
When they were finished in Rito Village, Zelda insisted against returning to the castle, determined to make the journey around Hyrule to check on the other Divine Beasts as soon as possible, but not without stopping to speak with Purah, first. It was her duty, after all, to do everything necessary to make sure the Champions were well equipped and prepared to defend Hyrule from Calamity Ganon. Not only that, she was determined to learn everything she could about the Sheikah Slate and the Guardians. There was simply to much to do, and no way to know for sure just how much time they had left.
Zelda opted to head to Kakariko Village first to speak with Purah before heading north to Goron City. Link wasn’t necessarily against her idea, but it would be a long ride south just to go north again. He didn’t bother to argue with her, though, as he wasn’t exactly looking forward to the path up to Goron City, either. Frankly, being anywhere near Death Mountain wasn’t his idea of a good time, even if Daruk said the volcano would not erupt.
The ride to the village was uneventful. Even his clearly strained relationship with the princess didn’t quite feel as tedious. Perhaps she was growing accustomed to his presence. She didn’t exactly make conversation with him, but instead continued to muse on about, well, everything. Although this time, she was more focused on the Guardians and whether or not Robbie had managed to activate more of them. Link could only pray that he would not be required to go near those things. He’d take on Calamity Ganon a thousand times with just the sword on his back as long as he didn’t have to have any part of those machines, even if they were designed to help stop Ganon.
It was early in the afternoon when they arrived in the village. They followed the path up the hill to Purah’s lab, and to Link’s relief, there were no Guardians in sight. Inside the lab, Purah and Robbie were in the midst of a heated conversation. Impa stood off to the side, her arms crossed as she watched them discuss and debate. They hardly noticed Zelda and Link as they entered.
“We have the Shrine to our advantage,” Purah said sternly. “We must do everything in our power to get it in working order.”
“We have no way to even test it out,” Robbie said. “We can’t know for sure if the stasis function will even work, or how long it will last. And what about the side effects? There’s too many unknown factors.”
“We make them known,” Purah demanded. She turned, finally acknowledging Zelda and Link as they stood in the doorway. Her eyes immediately went to the slate on Zelda’s hip. “The slate,” she continued, turning back to Robbie. “It was unable to activate it, but it may be the key to getting it running once we restore it.”
“Get what running?” Zelda repeated, narrowing her eyes at them. “What’s going on?”
“The Shrine of Resurrection,” Robbie started, “that you and Purah found. It is, indeed, a medical facility of sorts.”
“But we don’t know how to get it working,” Purah said. “We should focus our efforts on restoring it. The future of Hyrule is bleak. We shouldn’t take anything to chance.”
“A medical facility?” Zelda repeated. “I don’t understand. I thought it was built ten thousand years ago? What could make a facility like that such a necessity?”
Purah and Robbie exchanged an uneasy glance, then turned their gazes to Impa. The brief, silent interaction made Zelda uneasy. Was the war against the Calamity really so bad ten thousand years ago? What could that possibly mean for their own pending war?
“Purah is right,” Impa said. “There was a reason that facility was built. We should do everything we can to restore its power. It could prove to be very valuable to us some day.”
Link shifted uneasily on his feet as Impa’s gaze fell on him.
“Well,” Zelda said, her voice soft for a moment. “What do we need to do to get it restored?”
Robbie shook his head. “We don’t know,” he admitted. “We’re working on it. Purah and I are heading out tonight to see what we can do.”
“What can I do?” Zelda asked.
“Focus on the Divine Beasts,” Purah said. “And continue to familiarize yourself with that slate. The more we know about it, the better. Make sure the Champions are well prepared; this war could be bigger than we could ever imagine.”
Zelda did not learn anything more about the Guardians as she had hoped, but as she and Link left Kakariko Village behind, a more haunting image weighed down on them. The idea that the war against Calamity Ganon could be so dire to need a Shrine of Resurrection left them feeling ill at ease. With no idea of what they would be up against, Zelda was more determined than ever to make sure Hyrule had every advantage on their side.
Zelda walked ahead of Link - or perhaps it was Link who chose to stay a few steps behind - and examined the Sheikah Slate in her hands as her mind wandered. Regardless, Zelda preferred not to notice Link too much. He was merely there to assist her as she went about her duties, and that meant focusing her efforts on the getting to Goron City to check on the Divine Beast there. She spoke as she walked, mostly to herself as she gathered her thoughts. Link never made it a habit to respond to her musings, anyway.
“From here, we’ll make our way to Goron City,” she said. “Then, we’ll need some adjustments on that Divine Beast so Daruk can manage it as easily as possible. He’s figured out how to get it to move. However, it’s apparent that we still have much more to learn.” She held the slate out in front of her. “But to think, that Divine Beast was actually built by people. That means we should be able to understand how it works and how to use it to our advantage.”
Link watched her as she spoke, but did not interject.
“These Divine Beasts,” Zelda continued. “So much we don’t know. But if we want to turn back the Calamity Ganon, they’re our best hope.” Her pace slowed and her eyes drifted down to her feet, lost in thought once more. She could feel Link’s gaze on her and it made her uneasy.
Link waited, unsure of whether to approach her. He was well aware of her disdain towards him. In fact, she didn’t particularly do a good job of hiding it. He thought it best to hang back so as not to upset her.
“Tell me the truth,” Zelda finally spoke again. She looked at him over her shoulder. “How proficient are you right now, wielding that sword on your back? Legend says that an ancient voice resonates inside it. Can you hear it yet, hero?”
Link remained silent as Zelda continued walking. In truth, he didn’t know what to say to her. He couldn’t possibly admit to her that no, he could not hear the sword speaking to him. Not since the day he was supposedly chosen. And it only made him worry. He was assigned a task - a seemingly impossible task at that - to save Hyrule from its doomed prophecies, yet the sword that was supposed to speak to him remained silent.
He wondered if he should say something to the princess. He opened his mouth to speak, but to his relief, Zelda continued on.
“I can’t help but to wonder what happened here, ten thousand years ago,” she said softly. “Legends, prophecies, destinies; I suppose if they’re all true, then it must be in our destiny to win this war. Perhaps that Shrine of Resurrection is the key.” She didn’t really believe it, but it eased her worries to think that their destinies - Hyrule’s future - was fated to live on. If their ancestors could fight through each rise of Ganon, then surely so could they. It was a reassuring thought, at the very least.
They traveled throughout the day, stopping only to rest for the night at the base of Death Mountain. In the morning, they followed the path up towards Goron City. Despite their ascent, the air grew uncomfortably thick and warm from the volcano. To their relief, they arrived in the city by midday, though the sun seemed brighter and hotter than ever. Zelda was anxious to work on the Divine Beast quickly so they could leave as soon as possible.
Daruk eagerly took them aboard Vah Rudania. As the princess examined the beast, Daruk hung back with Link. Vah Rudania climbed it’s way across the rocky terrain of Death Mountain as they admired the views. Link looked down and across Hyrule to the distant mountains. From atop the Divine Beast, the view was spectacular, and proved just how vast the kingdom truly was. He smiled at Daruk’s excitement as he piloted the machine.
“Yeah! I think I’m finally getting the hang of controlling this Divine Beast!” Daruk said. He stretched his arms and turned to Link. “I tell you what: sure is a blast piloting a toy like this around. Let those other Champions know, they better eat their gravel if they wanna keep up with Daruk.” He turned his gaze up towards Death Mountain. “Speaking of which, can you believe this view? Just look at all those deletable rocks sprinkled on those mountains. Mighty tasty.”
Link followed his gaze and smiled. He would be lying if he said he wasn’t a glutton for a good meal, but rocks certainly weren’t on his menu.
“I may not know a whole lot about this Calamity Ganon thing,” Daruk continued, “but mark my words, I’ll protect this land of ours to the death. Right, little guy?” He let his large hand come down hard against Link in an affectionate pat on the back and laughed as Link stumbled forward under the force, forgetting his own strength.
“Hey, by the way,” he said as Link regained his footing. “Congrats on becoming the princess’s appointed knight. That’s a really big deal! Protecting the king’s daughter. No pressure!” He let his hand rest on Link’s shoulder, softer this time. “Seriously, though. The princess is a strong personality - so strong she can’t quite see the range for the peaks.” He scratched at the back of his head. “Remember that, and you’ll be fine.”
The ground began to shake suddenly and Daruk turned his gaze towards Death Mountain. “What the -?”
Above them, a large chunk of rock broke away from a towering pillar, and the boulder came crashing down, threatening to topple on top of them. But at the last minute, Daruk thrust his arms out and a magical red force field shot out from around him, protecting him and Link from the impact of the boulder. The boulder bounced off of the magical shield in shattered pieces and the rumbling quieted.
“All right, so what was I saying,” Daruk said absentmindedly. He turned back towards the mountain, mumbling to himself. “That was a little strange. As far as I know, Death Mountain has been quiet for decades. But if the mountain is shivering enough to send down a bunch of boulders that size, then…” He shook his head. “Nevermind. Forget I said anything.” But his gaze returned to the mountain, his brows knit together with worry written on his face.
Link followed the Goron’s gaze. He was not oblivious to Daruk’s uneasy reaction towards the rumbling. Perhaps it was a sign of Calamity Ganon’s awakening. The idea twisted in Link’s gut like a knife. They were far from ready to be at war.
Zelda joined them atop the Divine Beast, the Sheikah Slate in her hands once more. She seemed not to have noticed the rocks falling around them, deep inside the Divine Beast.
“It looks like you’ve got a good handle on the controls,” she said to Daruk with a smile. “With these Divine Beasts at our control, we’ll have no problem taking down Ganon.” She returned the slate to her hip, eager to leave as soon as they could. “We should head back to the castle,” she said, turning to Link. The Shrine of Resurrection still haunted her and all she wanted to do was scour her notes and continue her research of the ancient technology in hopes that something would help Purah and Robbie restore the facility.
Admittedly, Link was eager to get back to the castle as well, if only for a break from traveling across Hyrule. It had been some time since he had a decent night sleep, and a comfortable bed at that.
I set out for Goron City today to make some adjustments to Divine Beast Vah Rudania. I still recall feeling his eyes on me as I walked ahead. The feeling stayed with me so long, I grew anxious and weary. It is the same feeling I’ve felt before in his company. And still, not a word passes his lips. I never know what he’s thinking! It makes my imagination run wild, guessing at what he is thinking but will not say. What does the boy chosen by the sword that seals the darkness think of me? Will I ever truly know? Then, I suppose it’s simple. A daughter of Hyrule’s royal family yet unable to use sealing magic. He must despise me.6: Chapter Five - Researching Shrines (Zelda's Resentment)
But when she voiced her concerns to her father, he was less than enthusiastic about her wasting her time on the Sheikah artifacts, reminding her that it was her duty to awaken her sealing power and prepare herself and the Champions for Calamity Ganon’s return. What she couldn’t make her father understand was that praying didn’t seem to be working. She was convinced that there was something more to it all - something that could have been hiding in those structures that could be key to her awakening her power. It seemed she would be unable to pursue her research further with her father breathing down her neck.
Instead, Zelda left the boundaries of the castle, without a word to her father in hopes that she could continue her research on her own, uninterrupted, in the way she saw fit. She hurried to the castle’s stables where she retrieved Storm, pulling him away from his hay with a bit of coaxing with a juicy, red apple. She saddled and bridled him quickly, but she was not quick enough to escape Link’s watchful eye.
She felt his presence right away and muttered under her breath. She spun towards him as he leaned against the barn doors, arms crossed over his chest.
“I don’t know what you’re doing,” she said to him, “but I’m sure you’re not about to follow me.”
“You thought wrong, then,” Link said simply.
Zelda’s fingers curled into fists at her side. “I don’t need an escort,” she snapped at him. “I don’t care what my father says. I’m only going out to research those strange structures around Hyrule. I’ll even be back before nightfall.”
Link ignored her, walking over to retrieve his own saddle as she spoke. Zelda’s gaze followed him furiously.
“I’m sick of you and my father breathing down my neck,” she barked at him. “Can’t I do anything around here without being judged and followed everywhere I go?” She pulled Storm through the barn and outside. “Do not follow me. That is an order.” She pulled herself onto her horse’s back and kicked him into a gallop, hurrying out into Hyrule Field before Link could stop her.
Link stared after her as she galloped away. He didn’t particularly want to follow her, knowing very well that it would only anger her more, but he had a job to do, and those orders were given to him by the king, not by the princess. He knew he would feel Zelda’s wrath later, but his job was to report to the king, and surely the king would send him after her, regardless of her wishes.
Zelda rode across Central Hyrule and into Tabantha, crossing the large bridge where she remembered seeing one of the strange structures she had yet attempted to open. It sat atop a high ridge, just by the ancient columns. She pushed Storm into the direction of the structure until the columns came into sight. She dismounted quickly and made her way to the structure, pulling the Sheikah Slate out as she did so.
Zelda stood alone outside the strange structure. She looked up curiously, then around at the ancient columns in hopes that they would perhaps provide some clue. She wasn’t sure if the location of these structures were significant. She assumed they were, but she didn’t know enough about these columns to make heads or tails of it. If the locations were key, then she would need to do more research on the history of Hyrule. Perhaps Impa could have some more insight in that area.
She knelt down to examine the pedestal that sat outside the door and let her fingers run across it, hoping to find some way to open the door, but her efforts proved futile. She stood and placed the Sheikah Slate on top in hopes that it would activate some how, but that was just as useless. She pulled the slate away, her brows knit together. If the slate could not activate these structures, what could that mean for the Shrine of Resurrection?
“Nothing. Just as I thought. Hmm.” She turned her gaze up as she examined the mysterious structure. “It appears that this structure was designed to be exclusively accessed by the sword’s chosen one.” Her voice softened as she examined the pedestal once more, speaking again to herself. “But designs can always be worked around, at least I hope.” Her voice trailed off slightly and she began to mutter in frustration. “How do I get inside? I need to activate it somehow.”
Her thoughts were interrupted, however, by the sound of galloping hooves. She turned around as Link and Epona made their way towards her. Her blood boiled at the sight of him. She returned the slate to her hip and marched towards him angrily as Link dismounted.
“I thought I made it clear that I am not in need of an escort,” she said sternly to him. When he didn’t answer, she continued, her hands on her hips. “It seems I’m the only one with a mind of my own. I, the person in question, am fine, regardless of the king’s orders.” She strode past him to her horse. “Return to the castle. And tell that to my father, please.”
Link hesitated for a moment, then hurried to follow her. Despite the princess’s reluctance, his duties were to follow the king’s orders, and that was to be at her side. Besides, a princess shouldn’t have been traveling alone, anyway.
Zelda heard his footsteps and paused. She spun towards him, her hand balled into angry fists at her side. “And stop following me!”
Link stared at her, unsure why she was getting so upset with him. It wasn’t the first time he had to go chasing after her, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last time. She of all people should have known this. But still, she took her frustrations out on him. He watched as she threw herself into the saddle, clearly giving up with her attempts to get inside the structure on the ridge. Link trotted after her, climbing quickly into his own saddle as Zelda pushed Storm forward. Link kicked Epona on and they galloped quickly to catch up with Zelda and Storm.
Zelda didn’t want to return to the castle where her angry father surely awaited her return, but at least she could hide in her bed chambers away from him and Link. She allowed Storm to slow as they crossed the bridge back into Central Hyrule. Link didn’t dare ride beside her, trailing just far enough away to keep her from growing more frustrated with him. They rode to the castle in silence, and when they returned the horses to the stable, Zelda marched away without another glance in his direction.
Zelda looked at her reflection in the large mirror as Camilla tightened the strings of her dress that laced up her back. Her handmaid was going on and on about the soldiers who trained in the barracks, admitting that she would often watch them from the towers, admiring them. She laughed to herself as she adjusted the dress on Zelda’s body, carefully placing pins in the areas that needed to be taken in some.
“You need to eat more,” she said to the princess. “You’ve lost some weight out their on your adventures.”
“I wouldn’t call them adventures,” Zelda said. “It is my duty to make sure that those Divine Beasts -”
“It is a princess’s duty to eat well and be healthy enough to rule her kingdom,” Camilla said.
“I won’t have a kingdom to rule if I let it fall to some monster,” Zelda reminded her.
Camilla smiled to her reflection over Zelda’s shoulder. She stood back and admired her work for a moment. “Speaking of knights,” she said. “You’ve got the best looking one to save Hyrule with.”
“Excuse me?” Zelda turned and narrowed her eyes at her.
“You haven’t noticed?” Camilla said with a light laugh. “If I may be so bold, Your Highness, you must be blind not to see how the women blush when he walks by.”
“Too bold,” Zelda said, narrowing her gaze further. Her eyes turned to look out the window over the horizon as Camilla set about adjusting the dress further.
“Of course,” Camilla said. “I suppose your mind is on more important things.”
Zelda turned towards her curiously. “Is it true?” she asked. “Do you find him attractive?”
Camilla’s cheeks blushed bright red. She stumbled over her words as she struggled to focus on the job at hand, pricking her finger in the process. “Well, uh, of course, I mean.” She let out a breath. “All the women do, really.”
“Hm.” Zelda turned back to gaze out the window.
“Of course, we can’t all be fortunate enough to have a knight defend our honor.”
“Link is merely doing his job,” Zelda said. “As am I.”
Camilla smiled. “Is that all it is?” she asked. “A job?”
“You said so yourself, it is my duty to rule this kingdom.”
“And what of Link?”
Zelda hesitated. “What of him?”
“Is he just a job to you?”
Zelda turned to Camilla, growing frustrated with her questions. “What are you trying to imply?”
Camilla straightened and smiled at the princess. “Nothing, of course,” she said quietly. “Take off that dress so I can stitch it up.” She waited as Zelda stepped over the dress and handed it to her. She bowed her head and left Zelda alone in her room.
Zelda stared at the door as it closed behind Camilla and considered their earlier conversation. She moved to the window, her eyes moving over the darkening land. The sky was cast in golden hues as the sun began its descent. Her mind wandered to Link for a moment; she supposed Camilla was right, but she dismissed that thought quickly and moved towards her desk. She opened her journal and flipped through its pages absentmindedly for a moment. Her thoughts drifted once more to Link, feeling guilty for her outburst towards him. She flipped to a blank page and began to write.
7: Chapter Six - Vah Naboris (Urbosa's Hand)
I said something awful to him today. My research was going nowhere. I was feeling depressed, and I had told him repeatedly not to accompany me. But he did anyway, as he always does, and so I yelled at him without restraint. He seemed confused by my anger. I feel terribly guilty… and that guilt only makes me more agitated than I was before.
She pointed Storm towards Gerudo Desert where she would find Urbosa and the Divine Beast Vah Naboris. The desert was at the southernmost point of Hyrule and would prove to be the longest journey, but she was determined to make it there as quickly as possible. She couldn’t count on time to be on their side for much longer.
The cool air blew her hair around her face as Storm galloped through Hyrule. It was enough to keep her awake as they rode through the night and into the early morning when they finally arrived at the outskirts of the desert. She slowed Storm into a trot as they neared the stables and dismounted. She knew the desert would be too much for the horse to accompany her, so she would have to make the rest of the trip across and to the city on foot.
She patted Storm’s neck and offered him an apple from her bag as Link always did. The horse nickered happily and ate the treat out of her palm. She left him in the care of the stable hand and made her way into the desert as the sun’s rays crested the horizon. Fortunately, the desert was still cool enough without the full warmth of the sun, and she made it to Gerudo City before the heat became too unbearable.
She followed the Gerudo guards through the city, which was alive with female travelers, merchants, and young Gerudo vai, and up the large steps that brought them to Urbosa. The Gerudo Champion greeted Zelda kindly as she entered.
“Princess,” she said with a warm smile. Her eyes scanned the room quickly. “Where is your knight?”
“I’m alone,” Zelda said.
Urbosa’s smile disappeared. “You came all this way by yourself?”
“Is that so surprising?” Zelda asked.
Urbosa’s smile returned as she shook her head. “I don’t think it wise to be traveling alone.”
“I can take care of myself,” Zelda said.
Urbosa’s eyes softened. “How has your training been going?” she asked, changing the subject.
Zelda averted her gaze, hesitant.
Again, Urbosa changed the direction of the conversation, reading Zelda all too well. “Have you come to check on Vah Naboris?”
“Yes,” Zelda said, meeting Urbosa’s gaze once more. “I’d like to make some adjustments to it. Can you take me there?”
Urbosa nodded. “Right to work, then,” she said. “I’ll meet you outside the city with the sand seals.”
She watched as Zelda left, then turned to one of her guards. “Send a messenger to Hyrule Castle,” she instructed. “The king will be worried about his daughter. Tell him she is safe with me. I’m sure he will send Link here. I’m certain he’ll arrive before tomorrow, so keep an eye out for him, hm?”
Urbosa stayed with Zelda over the course of the day. She worked tirelessly on the Divine Beast, ensuring that it was in working order and that Urbosa had a handle on the controls. By midday, the sun was high and hot, causing the desert to rise to a blistering heat. They retreated off of Vah Naboris, but it wasn’t much cooler on the ground.
With Sheikah Slate in hand, Zelda decided to try to continue her research. It was likely there would be many more Guardians buried out there in the desert, and possibly even more mysterious structures and devices that could provide more clues about the Sheikah Slate or reveal hidden details from ten thousand years ago. She wasn’t about to waste a moment dedicated to her research.
With Urbosa at her side, she ventured through the desert. Urbosa brought her to various places that she thought might have some significance, like the seven mysterious statues to the east of Gerudo Town. They traveled to the mysterious labyrinth to the east, and even far north west to the Gerudo Ruins, but nothing came about their long day’s work, much to Zelda’s dismay.
The sun was setting when they returned to Vah Naboris, and Zelda was feeling more defeated than ever. She wanted nothing more than to prove herself - to her father, to herself, to the people of Hyrule who depended on her - but she came up empty at every turn. Not only could she not awaken the sealing power she supposedly possessed, she couldn’t even find answers to the Sheikah Slate or the mysterious structures scattered throughout Hyrule. She felt like nothing but a failure to her own destiny.
Urbosa and Zelda stood on Vah Naboris, looking out over the desert as the sun began it’s descent. Zelda had been quiet on their way back as she debated what she should do next. She still needed to make her way to Zora’s Domain. Perhaps she would find some luck there.
“It’s not over,” Urbosa said to her, reading the defeat on her face. “It’s far from over. Have faith.”
“It could be over tomorrow,” Zelda said. “The fate of Hyrule rests on my shoulders, and I can’t even find the power in me to save it.”
“Give yourself time,” Urbosa said. “It will come. It’s in your destiny.”
Zelda sighed. “I wish it were that easy,” she said softly. “It was so easy for Link. He doesn’t have to do anything. He was just chosen.”
“As were you,” Urbosa reminded her. “And he has no magic to awaken like you.”
“Easy,” Zelda repeated.
“I don’t think you give him enough credit,” she said to the princess. “It’s not so easy to be willing to put your life on the line every day like he does.”
Zelda said nothing. She supposed she hadn’t really considered that. She yawned as a wave of exhaustion hit her body, making her eyes grow heavy. Her legs felt numb, and she allowed herself to sit, dangling her legs over the edge of the Divine Beast.
“You’ve done enough for today,” Urbosa said. “Tomorrow is a new day.”
Link walked towards Urbosa. Zelda was leaning against her, presumably sleeping. Urbosa looked up as he approached with a kind smile on her face.
“Ah, well… you certainly got here fast,” she said over her shoulder, taking care not to wake the princess. “I should have expected as much, from the princess’s own appointed knight.” She turned her gaze to the girl sleeping soundly on her shoulder. “She was out on a survey all day today. Still as the sands now.” She turned her gaze back to Link. “So? Spill it, boy. Have the two of you been getting along all right?”
Link hesitated, but Urbosa continued.
“It’s okay, I know. Your silence speaks volumes.” She turned her gaze back to Zelda. “She gets frustrated every time she looks up and sees you carrying that sword on your back. It makes her feel like a failure when it comes to her own destiny.” She turned back to Link and smiled in an attempt to reassure him. “Don’t worry, it’s not like you carry blame in any of this.” Urbosa sighed lightly. “Its unfortunate. She’s put in more than enough time. Ever since she was a young girl, she’s gone through rigorous daily routines to show her dedication.” Urbosa looked out over the desert under the silver glow of the moon. “She once passed out in the freezing waters trying to access this sealing power. And she has nothing to show for it.”
Link looked down at the sleeping princess as Urbosa spoke.
“That’s the motivation driving her research. I’d be doing the same thing. She really is quite… special.” She paused and turned to Link. “You be sure to protect her with your life. It’s quite the honor.” Her eyes drifted to Zelda once more as a cool breeze came in from the night air. “The night brings a chill. It’s probably time to take her in.” She smiled a sly grin. “Or…”
She snapped her fingers and a strike of lightning split the sky and crashed down onto the desert below them, shaking the ground and causing Zelda to awaken with a startled gasp.
“Urbosa! What was that? Did you feel that?” She looked around them quickly, her eyes darting back and forth until they rested on Link behind her. “Wait, what - how did you - what are you doing here?”
Urbosa threw her head back in laughter as Zelda’s gaze moved between her and Link.
“Wh-what’s so funny?” she stammered, confused by Urbosa’s reaction. She turned her gaze back to Link. “What are you doing here?” she repeated.
“I sent for him,” Urbosa said as she got to her feet. “He should be here, with you.”
Zelda averted her gaze and attempted to focus her still groggy mind.
“Come,” Urbosa said. “It’s late. You both need your rest.”8: Chapter Seven - A Change of Heart (Blades of the Yiga)
And Zelda had been found.
She was oblivious to their presence as they stalked their prey, but couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched; followed. The desert was eerily quiet and lifeless as she made the walk towards the bazaar where she would meet up with Link. She looked around her surroundings quickly, and back over her shoulder, but there wasn’t a soul in sight. Surely if anyone were following her, they would be easy to spot.
Her pace quickened as the bazaar came into sight. She was growing uneasy and found herself suddenly wishing Link were with her. She was, after all, exposed and vulnerable without him, without so much as a knife to defend herself.
She looked over her shoulder again, but this time, a figure blurred from the desert heat approached her slowly. She squinted against the sun as the figure began to take a more recognizable shape. It strode towards her for a moment, then raised its arm. The sun glinted off the steel of a blade and the figure started running - sprinting - towards her.
Zelda stumbled over her feet as she spun around in the desert sand and started running as fast as she could towards the bazaar. She sprinted across the desert, turning to look over her shoulder quickly at the approaching member of the Yiga Clan. He was much faster than her and was closing in on her quickly. Zelda pushed herself forward, sprinting as fast as she possibly could in the suffocating heat of the desert, but as she neared the bazaar, she was struck with the sickening realization that it was empty. She pushed onward desperately, but the Yiga Clan members were quicker still as two jumped out in front of her into her path.
Zelda spun around in an attempt to run in the other direction, but the other Yiga Clan member was behind her, then, stopping her dead in her tracks. They raised their weapons and Zelda stumbled backwards, falling to the ground. Her eyes darted around as the three closed in around her, taunting her as they spun their deadly blades.
They raised their blades in the air and she threw her arm over her in an attempt to defend herself, though she knew it would be useless. She closed her eyes as feet shuffled in the sand and she heard the sound of steel against steel. She opened her eyes, watching as a body fell to the ground beside her. She turned her gaze up to see Link standing before her, blocking her from the other two members of the Yiga Clan. They stepped backwards as he raised his sword threateningly.
Zelda looked up at Link, watching him as he stood defensively, protecting her from them. The two spun around quickly, taking off into the desert, but Link was quicker to react. He pulled out his bow and shot off two precise arrows and they dropped to the ground.
Zelda shifted her gaze to the two Gerudo soldiers who rushed towards them. They pulled Zelda to her feet.
“Are you alright?”
Zelda hesitated, meeting Link’s gaze. “Yes,” she said quickly. She dusted off her pants. “Yes. I’m fine, thanks to Link.”
“Members of the Yiga Clan are scattered all over Hyrule,” one of the soldiers warned. She returned her scimitar. “I advise you to be aware of your surroundings at all times. They will stop at nothing to find you both and kill you.”
Zelda nodded. “Thank you,” she said. She turned back to Link, anxious to leave the desert. “Let’s go,” she said simply.
They made it out of the desert without further incident, retrieving their horses from the stables. They rode in silence through the canyon until they got back into Hyrule Field. By then, it was late in the afternoon.
“Thank you,” Zelda said, finally breaking the silence as they left the canyon behind them. “For saving me back there.”
Link turned to Zelda, but her gaze was focused on the road ahead. “Of course.”
“I forget how…” Zelda hesitated. “...ill-equipped I am. I’m not trained to fight, or even defend. Father never saw that appropriate for a princess.” She sighed lightly, hating how vulnerable she felt in that moment. If she had it her way, she’d be doing this all on her own, well trained and well equipped. She’d never admit, though, how grateful she was for Link’s presence.
She looked over at Link when he said nothing further. “I suppose we should make our way to Zora’s Domain,” she said with a small smile. “Our last stop.”
Link nodded. “After we stop at the castle.”
Zelda narrowed her eyes at him. “Why?”
“Because your father will kill me personally if I don’t bring you back safe.”
“He won’t do that.”
“I’m not taking any chances.”
Zelda smiled and turned her gaze to the horizon. “The Hero of Hyrule who is expected to defeat Calamity Ganon is afraid of the king.” She laughed lightly.
“Can’t save Hyrule if the king kills me first,” Link muttered, less amused than she was.
“Fine,” Zelda said, turning back to him. “I guess I don’t have a choice, do I?”
They rode across Hyrule until it grew darker, stopping for the night at the Riverside Stables. Zelda sat alone by the fire, eating her dinner, watching as Link untacked the horses. He scratched their necks and fed them apples.
Her gaze drifted to the stables, distracted by three giggling women. They stood by their own horses, but their eyes were across the way on Link. They whispered and giggled to one another. Zelda’s brows knit together at the interaction. She watched as one of the women walked over to him, a carrot in hand which she then offered to Epona.
The women spoke with Link, but Zelda could not hear what she was saying. She watched them for a moment. Link smiled at the woman and patted Epona’s neck as the horse took the carrot happily.
After a seemingly endless conversation, the woman walked away, waving her fingers at Link as she did so. Zelda followed her with her eyes as the woman returned to her two giggling friends and they resumed their whispering.
Zelda stood abruptly as Link made his way over to her. “Goodnight,” she said simply, before heading into the inn and leaving Link alone outside.
It was early in the morning when they rode out. Zelda hardly spoke a word to Link as they rode, her mind going over the interaction with the three women from the night before. She didn’t know why the women aggravated her so much - or why she felt a strange pang of jealousy when they flirted with Link.
She was grateful when they finally arrived back at the castle by midday, eager for a distraction. However, her father anxiously awaited their return, and Zelda did not find any relief when he angrily confronted her. He waited just outside the stables, nodding to Link as he brought the horses inside, but otherwise did not acknowledge him, waiting until he disappeared.
“I’m-” Zelda started.
“I don’t want to hear it, Zelda,” the king snapped at her. “That move you pulled was childish. I expected more from you.”
“You are not to leave this castle without Link,” he hissed. “Do you understand?”
Zelda averted her gaze. “Yes,” she said quietly.
Her father’s voice softened. “It is dangerous out there, Zelda. You cannot be unprotected.”
She nodded. “I know. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”
“I know you don’t like him,” he started, but Zelda shook her head quickly.
“No. He’s fine.” She met her father’s gaze. “I… misjudged him.”
The king smiled. His gaze turned to Link as he emerged from the stables. “I trust everything went well?”
“Yes,” Zelda said quickly, meeting Link’s gaze. “Without incident.”
She watched with relief as Link turned his gaze to the king and nodded.
“Good,” the king said. “Take some time to rest. When you’re ready, you should both head to Goron City. Daruk has expressed concern with Vah Rudania. It seems the Divine Beast has been acting strangely.”
Zelda nodded, feeling uneasy. “We can go now.”
Her father shook his head. “Tomorrow morning,” he said simply. He turned away and left Zelda and Link alone by the stables.
Zelda watched her father leave, then turned to Link. “Thank you.”
9: Chapter Eight - Friendship
I am unsure how to put today’s events into words. Words so often evade me lately, and now more than ever. He saved me. Without a thought for his own life, he protected me from the ruthless blades of the Yiga Clan. Though I’ve been cold to him all this time… taking my selfish and childish anger out on him at every turn… Still, he was there for me. I won’t ever forget that. Tomorrow, I shall apologize for all that has transpired between us. And then… I will try talking to him. To Link. It’s worth a shot.
They were quiet as they rode out into Hyrule Field, heading north to make their way to Goron City. The sun was just starting to warm the land from its dewy slumber and the grass sparkled under its warm light.
“I should apologize,” Zelda said softly as they rode.
Link turned to her, his expression curious. “For what?”
“For… being so cold towards you.”
Link smirked. He resisted the urge to make a sarcastic comment and turned his eyes back on the road. “Ah.”
“There was no excuse for it,” Zelda continued. “And… I’m sorry.”
Link didn’t know quite what to say to her, so he shrugged. “Apology accepted,” he said rather smugly.
Zelda straightened in the saddle and looked to the horizon where Death Mountain stood tall. “I’ll be glad to get to Zora’s Domain,” she said. “I hate being near that volcano.”
Link, too, turned his gaze to Death Mountain and nodded. He shared in her sentiments.
“You must be eager to get to Zora’s Domain, too,” Zelda said, cocking her head slightly as she met his gaze. She let a soft smile split her face.
Link stared at her dumbly, aware that she seemed to be implying something, but unsure of what those implications were.
Zelda read the confusion on his face before he could respond. “To see Mipha.”
“She likes you,” Zelda said, looking out to the horizon.
She turned back to Link. “Mipha. She likes you.”
Link’s brows knit together, puzzled. “What makes you think that?”
Zelda grinned and turned away. “Because I can tell.” She considered the women at the stables that other day. “A lot of women like you.”
This seemed to puzzle him even more.
Zelda raised a brow. “You don’t notice it?”
“The way they look at you,” she said as if it should have been obvious. Was he really that oblivious to it? “They blush and giggle.” Zelda rolled her eyes.
“Well, yeah,” she said. “They think you’re cute.”
“Oh.” Link seemed to considered this for a moment. “Do you?"
“What?” Zelda averted her gaze quickly and adjusted her reins. She scoffed. “No. I mean, I’m just saying. You’re pretty oblivious to it.”
“Hm.” Link looked ahead and said nothing further. He let a slight smile tug at the corners of his lips.
“Anyway,” Zelda said quickly. “I’m sure she’ll be happy to see you.”
They spoke casually through the rest of their ride, stopping at Foothill Stables by the early afternoon. It was their one and only stop before making the ascent up Death Mountains; a trip that they would have to make on foot. Zelda was getting hungry, and the horses did their rest, after all. Link never failed to mention that to her.
Zelda took advantage of their brief break and played with the Sheikah Slate by the fire as Link got the horses settled in to the stables. She didn’t look up until Link sat across the fire with a basket of fruit in his lap.
“Where did you get that?” Zelda asked.
Link grinned as he bit into a fresh pear. “The lady inside,” he said between bites. “She gave me the whole basket.”
Zelda raised a brow. “For free?”
Link nodded as he took another bite, then offered her some of the fruit.
Zelda took out an apple, inspecting it. “What did you say to her?”
Link shrugged and met her gaze. “I said hi.”
“You didn’t even… flirt with her?”
Link paused mid bite. “Was I supposed to?”
Zelda shook her head. She took a bite of her apple and peered at him curiously. “I don’t get it.”
“You don’t say a word to them, and women just fall over you.”
Link grinned and finished off the pear. He shrugged and fished another one out of the basket. “I’m cute,” he said after swallowing a bite. He looked up thoughtfully.
“What are you thinking?” Zelda asked curiously.
“I was wondering if she had any chicken.”
“Amazing,” Zelda muttered. “Is that all you think about?”
Link grinned at Zelda and took another bite.
“You hardly speak to me,” she said, “but when it comes to food, you don’t shut your mouth.”
Link’s chewing slowed. He studied her carefully. “Sorry?”
Zelda hesitated. “I know I haven’t been the nicest person to you… But do you really hate me that much?”
Link stopped eating, a brow raised. “What makes you think I hate you?”
“You never talk to me. About anything.”
Link made a face as he turned his gaze to his pear. “What do you want to talk about?”
“Anything. Why you hardly talk to me.” She watched as Link’s demeanor immediately changed. He stared at his pear for a moment before tossing the rest of it into the fire.
“What am I supposed to say?” he asked softly. “I’m expected to just keep quiet and do my job.”
Zelda hesitated, surprised by this comment. “What do you mean?”
Link met her gaze. “It’s not like I get to have a say in anything,” he said. “Everyone expects me to just be okay with being some hero.” He shrugged. “It’s a lot of pressure I didn’t sign up for.”
Zelda averted her gaze. She hadn’t realized the position Link had been put in - hadn’t realized how much he felt the same way she did.
“I guess I never considered that,” she said softly. “You seemed to have it all together.”
“Good,” he said. “I work hard to make it seem like that.”
Zelda smiled. “You don’t… you don’t have to pretend around me, you know.”
Link turned his gaze to the basket of fruit. He pulled out an apple and shined it on his shirt. He took a bite, then met Zelda’s gaze once more as he swallowed. “You don’t have to, either.”
10: Chapter Nine - Attack in Eldin Canyon (A Premonition)
Bit by bit, I’ve gotten Link to open up to me. It turns out he’s quite a glutton. He can’t resist a delicious meal! When I finally got around to asking why he’s so quiet all the time, I could tell it was difficult for him to say. But he did. With so much at stake, and so many eyes upon him, he feels it necessary to stay strong and to silently bear any burden. A feeling I know all too well. For him, it has caused him to stop outwardly expressing his thoughts and feelings. I always believed him to be simply a gifted person who had never faced a day of hardship. How wrong I was. Everyone has struggles that go unseen by the world. I was so absorbed with my own problems, I failed to see his. I wish to talk with him more and to see what lies beneath those calm waters, to hear him speak freely and openly. And perhaps I, too, will be able to bare my soul to him and share the demons that have plagued me all these years.
Of course, they weren’t expecting the army of monsters that had occupied the main road to the city, eager for a fight. An army of bokoblins and two large lynels stood blocking their path and closed in around them. Link quickly stepped in front of Zelda, pulling out the Master Sword as he did so.
The bokoblins didn’t waste a second to attack as soon as Link took his stance, but Link was quicker, wielding the sword with ease and taking out the monsters in sweeping waves of power. He sliced through the bokoblins with ease, sending them flying through the air and crashing down to the ground.
Zelda didn’t dare move as she watched Link set to work on the monsters. She watched in awe as he moved about their army swiftly, and before she knew it, only the two lynels remained. They stood tall and menacing as their army of bokoblins was destroyed, then drew and readied their powerful bows. They didn’t hesitate to fire off their shock arrows, which flew through the air like strikes of lightning.
Link dodged the first arrow with ease, than threw himself against Zelda, knocking her to the ground and dodging the second arrow. He met her gaze quickly, making sure she was alright, before leaping to his feet and shooting his own arrow towards them as they prepared their next attack.
“Stay down,” Link growled towards her. He took his sword once more and sprinted towards the two lynels, dodging their arrows and swinging his sword at them. He lept to the side, dodging each of their moves and falling into a rhythm of striking and dodging until he finally brought the two frightful monsters down.
Link leaned against the Master Sword for a moment as he caught his breath. It was then he felt the sharp pain in his head from an earlier blow dealt to him. He let himself sit on the ground and he rubbed his head, but there was no blood on his hand. He glanced up to see Zelda hurrying to his side. She carefully dodged and jumped over the carcasses strewn across the ground, then knelt at his side, her hand rushing to his head.
“Let me look,” she said. She inspected the cut on Link’s head carefully, letting her fingers brush away strands of his hair, then sat back on her legs. “That cut doesn’t look too bad, actually. You’re fine for now. But you know, there’s a fine line between courage and recklessness. As brave as you are, that does not make you immortal.”
She looked out over the corpses of the monster’s that they just fought through. “It seems that, not only is the frequency of these types of attacks on the rise, but the scale of beasts we are facing is intensifying as well.” She hesitated, her factual tone melting away into concern as her brows knit together. “I fear that - I fear that this is an omen which portends the return of Calamity Ganon.”
Zelda got to her feet and dusted herself off. The fear that hinted in her voice had been pushed aside. “And, if that’s the case, I’m ready to expect the worst. We’ll need to make preparations as soon as possible.”
Link got to his feet and followed her down the path. They didn’t get far before they found Daruk rolling towards them. He popped up as he neared them.
“Princess! Little Guy! Are you both all right? I couldn’t get here quick enough to stop them.”
“We’re fine,” Zelda said.
Daruk shook his head, his hand scratching behind his head. “I think that’s what Vah Rudania was all worked up about,” he said. “It was shooting these beams over in this direction. It must have sensed those monsters. I was about to head over here myself to see what was going on, but you beat me to it.”
“They were much stronger than anything we’ve encountered before,” Zelda said.
“I could have handled it,” Daruk said proudly, slapping his chest with his hand. He let his hand fall on to Link, giving him a hard pat. “But you couldn’t have been in better hands, hm?”
“Daruk,” Zelda started. “Is the city safe?”
“Completely,” Daruk said with a nod. “Vah Rudania’s got us protected, it seems. But I don’t suspect we’ll get another attack like that.”
“I hope not,” Zelda said softly. She turned her eyes to Link, who met her gaze.
“We’re fine, here,” Daruk assured her. “Vah Rudania’s back to normal, too. You should head back to the castle. It’s much too hot for you here.”
Link and Zelda made their way off Death Mountain without further incident, stopping at the stables to retrieve their horses. Zelda waited as Link brought the horses over and tacked them up. Zelda approached Storm, but Storm’s ears pinned back slightly at her. Link patted the horse’s neck reassuringly and laughed lightly.
“What’s so funny?”
“He still doesn’t like you,” Link said.
“Excuse me?” She turned to the horse. “Why wouldn’t he like me?”
“He tolerates you,” Link informed her. “You’re mean to him.”
Link hesitated. “Yeah, kinda. You can be a scary person.”
“I am not,” Zelda said firmly. She pushed by Link and took the reins. She put her foot in the stirrup to mount, but Storm trotted away before she could swing herself over, knocking Zelda to the ground.
Link smirked as he made his way to Epona, mounting gracefully as if to show off.
Zelda muttered on the ground, rolling her eyes and dusting herself off as she chased after Storm. She put her foot in the stirrup once more, this time hanging on as Storm tried to move away. She threw herself over him as he trotted off, tossing his head in the air. After a brief struggle, she regained control and Storm settled down as Link and Epona caught up to them.
“You’d catch more bees -”
“Yeah, yeah,” Zelda snapped. “I know.”
“Give him a pat,” Link instructed. “He’s settled down. Reward him.”
Zelda hesitated for a moment, her gaze on the horse, before leaning down to pat his neck. His ears twitched towards her and he sighed.
Link grinned in approval and turned his gaze to the horizon. The moon shone brightly, guiding their way across Hyrule Field. “I know you don’t want to hear this,” he started, “but I think we should return to the castle.”
Zelda straightened and nodded. She wasn’t really in a hurry to get to Zora’s Domain now, not after the attack on Death Mountain. They were both uneasy about the attack, and it was in their best interest to stay within the safety of the castle, should any more attacks come about. “I agree,” she said. “It would be best to hang back in case more attacks arise.”11: Chapter Ten - A Day Off (Silence Princess)
Link joined her one morning behind the castle in Irch Plain as she toyed with the slate, capturing different images of the wildlife around them. Link watched Zelda as she held the Sheikah Slate out in front of her, taking stilled images of the insects and flowers. She spoke excitedly as she did this, informing Link of the various plants she had captured.
“There’s one! Oh! And another!” She moved quickly on her knees with the Sheikah Slate and admired the image she captured. “The flowers we have in Hyrule aren’t just beautiful. They’re also quite useful as ingredients for a variety of things.”
She lowered the slate, catching a glimpse of a familiar pale blue and white flower. “This one here is called the silent princess. It’s a rare, endangered species.” She crawled carefully over to the delicate flower. “Despite our efforts, we can’t get them to grow domestically yet. The princess can only thrive out here in the wild.” She let her fingers run across the petals carefully in admiration. “All that we can hope is that the species will be strong enough to prosper on its own.”
Link moved forward in the grass, peering over her shoulder curiously at the little flower. He watched as she jumped forward suddenly, diving into the tall grass.
“Is that what I think it is?! Look at this! I don’t believe it, but I actually caught one!” She held something in her hands as she scooted over to Link excitedly. “This delicacy is known to have very, very potent effects under the proper circumstances.” She shoved her closed hands towards him and opened them, revealing a green frog. “Tada! Research from the castle shows ingesting one of these can actually augment certain abilities,” she said excitedly. “We wouldn’t be in a controlled environment out here, and with your level of physical fitness, you’d be a perfect candidate for the study!” She shoved the frog towards him. “Go on! Taste it!”
Link backed away in surprise, his arms raised as if to push the frog away from him. “You’re insane,” he said.
Zelda giggled and backed away, releasing the frog and watching as it hopped away, disappearing in the tall grass. She turned her attention back to the Sheikah Slate, turning it over in her hands and holding it out before her. She captured the image and turned the slate back over to check the picture. A still image of herself smiled back at her and she laughed lightly. She inspected the picture further, noticing Link in the background. His eyes were on her and he was smiling.
She turned back to him, but he was stretched out on the grass, leaning back on his hands and looking out across towards the castle. She looked him over quickly before turning back to the image on the slate, studying his expression in the image.
“What kind of abilities?”
Zelda turned her gaze back to him. “Hm?”
Link met her gaze. “The frog.”
“Oh.” Zelda hesitated and let the slate rest on the ground beside her. “Our research suggests that it has speed boosting effects. If cooked properly, the hot-footed frog could bring out this effect to whoever consumes it.”
Link turned his gaze to the clouds thoughtfully.
“Of course, we don’t know for sure until we can test it out.” She turned to him and grinned playfully.
Link met her gaze quickly and laughed lightly. “I can’t afford to be one your experiments,” he said.
“Not now,” Zelda said. She stretched out on the ground and turned her gaze to the sky. “But when this is all over.”
“That’s all I am to you.”
“Of course not.” She turned to Link, who shot her a skeptical look, and she smirked. “Only a little.”
“Hmph.” He turned back to the sky, studying the clouds as they passed overhead, casting shadows upon the land. When this is all over. He couldn’t help but to wonder what life would be like, when the Calamity was no longer a threat.
It was on Zelda’s mind as well. “What do you suppose will happen?” she said thoughtfully. Her eyes followed a small cloud as it drifted over the castle. “I suppose I will be expected to continue with my own duties to the kingdom.” She sighed lightly. “Take the throne, bare an heir.” She hesitated. “That almost sounds as tedious as this war.”
Link couldn’t help but to scoff at her statement. He felt her eyes on him, but he did not meet her gaze. “How do you figure?”
Zelda hesitated a moment, looking Link over, then turned her gaze back to the castle. “I guess I’ve never really thought of it before,” she admitted. “My life has been so focused on defeating Calamity Ganon that I haven’t been able to prepare for anything else that may be in store for me. It is my duty as princess, after all, to have children that will take the throne when I’m gone. It’s what’s expected of me, of course.” She paused for a moment and smiled. “I suppose it’s not so bad, really, as long as Father doesn’t try to set me up with some high maintenance man.” She turned her gaze back to Link. “I’m sure the title of Hero will have all the women lining up to meet you.”
“Maybe a nice ranch girl,” Link said. He caught Zelda’s gaze for a moment. “Someone kind, who’s good with horses.”
Zelda narrowed her eyes at him. “And what’s that supposed to mean?”
Link hesitated, unsure of what she was reading into it, and turned his gaze away quickly. “Nothing at all.”
“You don’t think I’m kind?” Zelda accused.
“I never said that,” Link muttered.
Zelda crossed her arms. “You implied it.” She turned her nose up at him. “You’d be lucky to be with someone like me.”
Link looked at her at the corner of his eyes. “Oh yeah?”
Zelda flipped her hair over her shoulder and turned her back to him, at least to hide the blush on her cheeks. “Yeah.”
When Link didn’t answer, she turned back around, but the knight had turned over onto his stomach, his head resting on his arms and his eyes closed.
“Sleeping on the job?” she muttered.
“Never,” Link said softly. He opened an eye. “I don’t get to sleep much when we’re out, you know.” He closed his eye. “It’s not exactly in the job description.”
Zelda studied him for a moment before turning her gaze back to the castle. What a tedious task to be assigned to him; protecting the princess, saving Hyrule.
“What am I supposed to say?” he asked softly. “I’m expected to just keep quiet and do my job.”
Zelda hesitated, surprised by this comment. “What do you mean?”
Link met her gaze. “It’s not like I get to have a say in anything,” he said. “Everyone expects me to just be okay with being some hero.” He shrugged. “It’s a lot of pressure I didn’t sign up for.”
Zelda averted her gaze. She hadn’t realized the position Link had been put in - hadn’t realized how much he felt the same way she did.
“I guess I never considered that,” she said softly. “You seemed to have it all together.”
“Good,” he said. “I work hard to make it seem like that.”
Zelda smiled. “You don’t… you don’t have to pretend around me, you know.”
Link turned his gaze to the basket of fruit. He pulled out an apple and shined it on his shirt. He took a bite, then met Zelda’s gaze once more as he swallowed. “You don’t have to, either.”
She felt ashamed to admit how little she thought about Link and his own sacrifices for her - for this job he was assigned. He did it all without a word otherwise. Surely that had to be hard for him.
Zelda turned her gaze back to Link, but he appeared to be asleep. “Then I shall try to make that job easier on you,” she said softly.
Link opened his eyes, but Zelda was looking over Hyrule once more. He watched as a breeze blew her hair around her face. Her eyes seemed to sparkle in the golden light of the setting sun. He closed his eyes and smiled.12: Chapter Eleven - To Zora's Domain (Mipha's Touch)
The clouds took their time rolling in and did not open until the afternoon, just as they arrived at the base of the river. The rain fell in a few droplets at first until the sky opened up moments later. The cold rain fell in heavy sheets, the wind whipping the droplets at their face, forcing them to stop until the storm passed.
They ran with the horses to the protection of an overhang of rocks jutting out from the high cliff. Their clothes were soaked and their hair plastered to their faces, and the approaching night brought a chill to the air. They unsaddled and worked quickly to get a fire going.
Zelda pulled off her boots and lay them beside the fire in hopes of drying them out overnight. She looked up as Link pulled his own shirt over his head, then averted her gaze quickly as his bare chest was exposed. She looked out across Hyrule, but she could barely see through the heavy rain. She pulled her hair over her shoulder, ringing it out as best as she could.
Link rung out his shirt and lay it beside the fire with a sigh. He glanced up towards Zelda, watching as she flipped her damp hair back over her shoulder. He stretched his legs out and leaned back on his hands, studying her for a moment.
When Zelda turned back to Link, he was happily biting into an apple. She let her gaze linger on him for a moment, but he was too busy enjoying his apple to notice. “Have you always been such a glutton?”
Link met her gaze, swallowed his bite, and smiled. “Let’s just say the castle cooks know me pretty well.”
Zelda let a smile pull at the corners of her lips. “That doesn’t surprise me.”
Link shrugged as he took another bite. “So I like a good cooked meal. You should be able to relate to that.”
Zelda raised a brow. “What does that mean?”
Link met her gaze with a grin. “You can’t help yourself around fruit cake.”
“What? So? I don’t - why do you think that?”
Link laughed. “Because I live in that kitchen and know all their secrets.”
Zelda crossed her arms and looked away. “There’s nothing wrong with liking a well made fruit cake.”
Link grinned and finished off his apple. He dug through their saddlebags and pulled out two more, offering one to Zelda.
“Where in the name of Hylia does all that food go?” she asked, taking the apple from him.
“I’m a bottomless pit,” Link said simply.
Zelda bit into her apple without another word and stared into the fire. After a few minutes of thoughtful eating, she watched as Link stood, stretched his arms over his head, and moved towards the horses, feeding each of them a carrot from his palm. Zelda felt her gaze linger on him longer than she intended, studying his striking features in the warm glow of the fire.
She pulled her gaze away and tossed the core of her apple into the fire. She watched it burn to ashes in the heat of the flames. A chilled breeze blew her damp hair around her face. Zelda pulled her legs to her chest, wrapping her arms around her knees. It had gotten very dark, even in the glow of the fire, and the cool night made her shiver. She couldn’t possibly get close enough to the fire to stay warm. Not in her wet clothes.
She looked up as Link tossed his shirt to her. It had dried out quite a bit since they stopped.
“Put it on,” he said. “You’ll freeze in those wet clothes.”
Zelda inspected the shirt in her hands, then turned her gaze back to Link. “Turn around.”
Link rolled his eyes and turned around as instructed. He busied himself rearranging the tack to make sure it would be dry enough by morning, then he fished through the saddlebags, pulling out their cloaks.
“Okay,” Zelda’s voice said softly, just barely audible over the sound of the pouring rain.
When Link turned around again, his shirt was on her. He tossed her one of the cloaks and she wrapped it around her shoulders, smiling her thanks. He sat back down at the fire, across from her, wrapping the other cloak around his shoulders.
Zelda let a soft yawn escape her lips. “At least we’re not far from Zora’s Domain,” she said. “If this rain breaks by morning, we should be able to get back to the castle by nightfall.” She looked up at Link and added, “Though, I suppose you’ll want to spend some time with Mipha.”
Link met her gaze. “I’m here to assist you,” he said. “We have a job to do, after all.”
Of course. A job. That’s all it was, wasn’t it?
“Right,” Zelda said, looking into the fire. “Regardless. She’ll be happy to see you.”
Link was saddling the horses when Zelda awoke. He heard her shuffling behind her and turned as she got to her feet and stretched her arms above her. His shirt lifted slightly as she did so, exposing her bare thighs, and Link turned back around quickly, his cheeks warm. He busied himself with the saddle, tightening the girth one last time, making extra sure that the saddle would not slip as they rode.
Zelda watched Link as he worked, still bare chested. She suddenly remembered that she still wore his shirt and worked quickly to take it off and put her dry clothes back on. She threw the shirt at Link as she made her way to the horses, patting Storm’s neck when she neared.
Link tossed his shirt on quickly and kicked out the remaining burning embers of their fire. Zora’s Domain was very close, and they would likely arrive by late morning, should the weather hold up. The raining had stopped overnight, but the clouds still lingered. Behind them, the sun struggled to push its rays through, and there was a glimpse of hope that the clouds would part for a moment.
They rode quietly the rest of the way to Zora’s Domain and were greeted eagerly by Prince Sidon. The Zora prince guided them enthusiastically to King Dorephan. Zelda spoke briefly with the Zora king before letting Prince Sido guide them to Vah Ruta and Mipha.
To Zelda’s surprise, Mipha had easily taken to the controls of the Divine Beast, long before Link and Zelda’s arrival, and she commanded the beast with ease. She forced herself to remain professional, however, working hard to keep any look of surprise off her face. Despite her efforts, Prince Sidon’s enthusiasm for his sister was starting to aggravate her, and she only felt more and more eager to finish her work on Vah Ruta and leave Zora’s Domain.
Prince Sidon babbled on as Zelda worked, and she hadn’t even noticed Mipha’s and Link’s disappearance until her work was finished. She walked with Prince Sidon and stood atop Vah Ruta, looking down at Link and Mipha as they sat together on the Divine Beast’s trunk. Even at the distance, Zelda could tell they were sitting close together.
“I didn’t realize they were so close,” Zelda said as Prince Sidon stood beside her.
“They’ve always been very good friends,” he confirmed with a smile.
Zelda’s lips twisted into a frown. An odd pang of jealousy sat uneasily in her chest. She didn’t know what she could possibly be jealous of. It wasn’t like she had feelings for Link.
She turned away and walked across the Divine Beast. “Well, everything seems fine, here,” she said quickly. “She’s clearly got a handle on controlling Vah Ruta.”
Prince Sidon watched Zelda curiously before trotting after her to help her off the Divine Beast.
Link watched curiously as Mipha held her hand over his arm. Her healing magic wasn’t anything new to him, but he was still intrigued by it every time.
“I was thinking,” she started softly with a smile. “This reminds me of the time we first met. You were just a reckless child, always getting yourself hurt at every turn.” She kept her gaze on Link’s wound as she spoke. “Every time I would heal you. Just as I am doing right now.” She paused for a moment. “I thought it was funny, how, being a Hylian, you looked grown up so much faster than me.”
Link turned his gaze to her as she spoke.
“I was… I was always willing to heal your wounds.” Mipha met his gaze briefly with hers, then turned back to his arm. “Even back then.” The healing process finished and the cut disappeared.
Link pulled his arm back and inspected it with an impressed smile. Good as new, just as always.
“So if this Calamity Ganon does, in fact, return,” Mipha continued, looking out over the lake, “what can we really do? We just don't seem to know much about what we’ll be up against.” She hesitated, feeling Link’s gaze on her. “But know this: no matter how difficult the battle might get... if you -” She met Link’s gaze. “- if anyone ever tries to do your harm, then I will heal you.” She turned her gaze downward. “No matter when, or how bad the wound. I hope you know… that I will always protect you.” She looked back out over the lake. “Once this whole thing is over, maybe things can go back to how they used to be when we were young. You know…” She turned back to Link with a sweet smile. “Perhaps we could spend some time together.”13: Chapter Twelve - Doubtful Destinies (Shelter from the Storm)
“It seems everyone has a good handle on their Divine Beasts,” Zelda said as they rode out into Hyrule Field. “I’m confident they will be able to do their part when Calamity Ganon makes its return.”
“What’s next?” Link inquired.
Zelda hesitated a moment. She supposed she would have to focus her efforts back on her training to awaken the sealing magic inside of her. But with the rise in monster attacks, Zelda and the king were on full alert, guessing it could only be a sign of Ganon’s close return, and there was still much that needed to be done.
“I’d like to go back to see Purah,” she said. “And make sure they are prepared for whatever may come next. The more Guardians they can activate, the better our defenses could be. With the rise in attacks, I fear it’s just a matter of time before Ganon rises.”
Link nodded. Though the Guardians made him uneasy, Zelda was right about the rise of attacks, and that was far worse than any machine. At the very least, they would be prepared to defend Hyrule with the Guardians and the Divine Beasts on their side.
They rode through the afternoon until the blue sky was lost to the grey storm clouds and thunder rumbled threateningly in the distance. They took shelter under a large tree, unsaddling the horses to allow them to rest. It wasn’t long before the sky opened up and the rain fell around them. It was lighter than the night before, but they stayed dry under the tree as they waited out the storm.
Zelda sat on the ground under the protection of the large tree, lost to her thoughts as Link busied himself with the Master Sword. She was reminded of Link and Mipha sitting side by side atop Vah Ruta and the close bond they apparently shared. She turned her gaze to Link, wondering if his mind, too, was on Mipha, but he seemed more focused on the sword in his hands. It was obvious how dedicated he was to the task assigned to him. Surely there was nothing more to it than that.
She looked up at the gray sky as rain fell from the clouds. “I doubt this will let up anytime soon.” She turned her attention back onto Link thoughtfully as he trained. He stepped and thrust his sword into the air.
“Your path seems to mirror your father’s,” Zelda observed. “You’ve dedicated yourself to becoming a knight, as well. Your commitment to the training necessary to fulfill your goal is really quiet admirable. I see now why you would be the chosen one.” She turned her gaze away and onto the ground.
Link paused and watched her from over his shoulder. He turned towards her as she spoke once more.
“What if… one day… you realized that you just weren’t meant to be a fighter.” Zelda kept her gaze focused on the ground. “Yet the only thing people ever said was that you were born into a family of the royal guard, and so no matter what you thought, you had to become a knight. If that was the only thing that you were ever told. I wonder, then, would you have chosen a different path?”
Link watched her closely as she spoke. It was clear that she was struggling with her own role forced upon her just as it was him. But no one had ever bothered to ask him how he felt about it before. It was apparent to him that they were on the same page in regards to their destinies. She was no less thrilled by it than he was.
“What path would you have chosen?”
Zelda’s gaze flew quickly to Link’s. She hadn’t expected him to ask such a question. Perhaps he could read her better than she thought.
“I don’t know,” she said slowly, saddened by the truth of her answer. Her eyes moved back to the ground. What would she possibly do - what couldshe possibly do - if her destiny was different? Despite her own internal struggles, she never really considered what else she could be doing with her life. But an even more sickening idea struck her at that moment; that her life would merely be subjected to marriage, taking over the throne, and bearing an heir. Her life as a princess was, indeed, as simple as that. Nothing more was expected of her and, even worse, anything more would have likely been frowned upon, should she busy herself with matters outside of ruling Hyrule.
“I suppose I’d live the same life as my ancestors,” she said softly. “Born only to rule Hyrule and carry on the royal line.”
“That’s not what you would choose,” Link said.
Zelda met his gaze. “As princess of Hyrule, I don’t get a choice in how I live my life.”
Link returned the sword to its sheath. “What if you weren’t the princess of Hyrule?”
“Perhaps I would be some kind of scholar,” she said, holding her gaze. She let a smile pull at her lips. “I would research all the mysteries of our world and feed frogs to innocent men to study their effects.”
Link returned her smile. “I guess that’s the thing about destiny,” he said. “Whatever’s meant to be will be.”
Zelda’s smile faded. “Are you that excepting of your own destiny?”
“No,” Link said truthfully. He held his gaze on hers. “Only a fool would be so willing to meet their end.”
“If this is the pattern we are cursed to live, then perhaps it is in our destiny to succeed in our task.”
Link broke his gaze and looked out over Hyrule. She was still optimistic, but Link couldn’t help shake the feeling that perhaps, this is where the pattern would break, and he would fail her and Hyrule.
The storm did not linger as long as Link had feared, and they were able to take advantage of the final hours of daylight to continue onward to Kakariko Village. As they rode, a stone wall towered in the distance, marking the rise of Fort Hateno. Zelda knew her father had ordered two forts to be built, specifically in hopes of protecting the Sheikah in Kakariko Village and Hateno, but this was the first time Zelda lay eyes on it, and it was far more impressive than she could have imagined. And with the construction nearly finished, it wouldn’t be long before the second fort was constructed to protect Kakariko Village.
They rode through the fort and followed the path that brought them into Hateno Village. The sun had disappeared behind the horizon, but the night was still young as they made their way through town and up the hill to Purah’s lab. Purah was alone when they entered, buried in her journal and writing frantically. She looked up briefly as they entered and offered them a welcoming smile.
“How are those Divine Beasts of ours holding up?” she asked as she turned back to her journal.
“Excellent,” Zelda said proudly. “The Champions have figured out the controls easily. They will surely be our best line of defense when Calamity Ganon awakens.”
Purah nodded. “Robbie’s gotten quite a few more of those Guardians activated,” she said. “He’s certain there are hundreds more hidden somewhere.”
“My research has suggested that they lie beneath the castle, but I have yet to find anything to prove that.”
Purah leaned back in her chair. “Well,” she started. “We have some time.”
Zelda hesitated. “I’m not so sure,” she said. “In fact, that’s why I’m here. There’s been a rise in attacks and I fear that only means war is on the horizon.”
Purah put her chin in her hand. “We’ve been working on the Shrine of Resurrection,” she said. “I think that shall take precedence over everything else from this point forward.”
Zelda nodded in agreement. “Have you made any further progress?”
“We’ve done a full restoration on it,” Purah said, getting to her feet. “It appears to be in working order. We plan to run a few tests on it to make sure the stasis function will hold. But…” Purah hesitated. “There’s no way to know for sure if it will really work until we put it to the test. Right now, there’s only so much we can do.” She turned her eyes to her journal, still open on the table amongst some scattered papers and notes. “I’m worried about the possible side effects of such a facility.”
“For starters, if it even works,” she said. “We don’t know for sure how severely wounded one must be for it to work properly. And there’s a very strong possibility that the stasis will wipe one completely of their memories.” Purah hesitated. “I’m unwilling to put anyone in that unless the consequences are so dire to need it. We just don’t know enough about it yet.”
Zelda’s brows knit together. “Hopefully it won’t come to that,” she said, her voice softer. “Do everything you can. I want it available to us should we need it.”
Zelda willingly accepted the opportunity to stay at the inn in the village, eager for a soft, warm bed and a good night’s sleep before starting their ride back to the castle in the morning. The trip would take the most of the day if they rode quickly, and she was sure her father was anxious to have her home once more. Even more so, she was anxious for something else to do to help strengthen their efforts in preparing for the rise of Calamity Ganon. Perhaps a chance to study the Sheikah Slate more closely would reveal something more to her.
She let her head rest against the wall, closed her eyes, and sighed. With so much on her mind, perhaps sleep would not come as easily as she hoped. She opened her eyes and looked over at Link. He was leaning against the door frame and looking out into the dark village. His brows were knit together, deep in thought.
“Nothing’s going to attack us here,” Zelda said to him. “You might as well get some rest while you can.”
Link turned her gaze to Zelda, relaxing at the sound of her voice. She was right, of course. It was only in his nature - in his training - to be constantly on guard. Still, it was unlikely he would find a restful sleep. All their talk of the Shrine of Resurrection only made him uneasy. Perhaps it was in his destiny to fail after all.14: Chapter Thirteen - An Uncertain Future (Father and Daughter)
They stayed the night with Impa in Kakariko Village. Link listened carefully as Zelda spoke with Impa of her unsuccessful attempt to awaken her power at the spring. Zelda was frustrated with the outcome, but her mind was clearly focused on the ancient Sheikah technology she would rather be studying, and the topic quickly changed to the slate and the Guardians.
“Princess,” Impa said gently. “I assure you, you have no reason to be worrying about researching the Guardians. Purah and Robbie work day and night to learn everything they can. They are Sheikah, after all.”
“And I need to learn everything I can as well,” Zelda said stubbornly.
“You need to focus your efforts on awakening your sealing magic,” Impa reminded her. “Without that power, Calamity Ganon will be free to take over Hyrule. Link cannot do his job completely without your power. You must aid him in this task of defeating Ganon.”
“If I am to take the throne, I need to know everything there is to know at all times.”
“That is an impossible task, Zelda. Even your father doesn’t know everything he could possibly know about our world. That is why you have people to assist you. Leave the Guardians to us and focus your efforts on your own destiny. That is what is more important right now. Without that power, Hyrule will cease to exist.”
Zelda was obviously frustrated with Impa, but she couldn’t deny the truth that Impa spoke to her. Perhaps all of her own research was clouding her mind too much and preventing her from awakening her own power.
When they returned to the castle the next day, however, Zelda was back to her journal, pressing her nose to her books eagerly. She was sure there was something she could learn about the Sheikah Slate and it’s connection to the Guardians and the Divine Beasts. Even the mysterious structures she had seen around Hyrule. She was certain she was close to some answer that she couldn’t rest until she found it. And she would spend as much time devoted to her research as she could.
Being back at the castle made both Zelda and Link feel more at ease, even if only for a time. While Link was anxious to sneak off to the kitchen for a hot meal, Zelda was eager to dive back into her studies and learn everything she could about the Sheikah Slate and the Guardians, especially now that they were so easily controlled by their own soldiers.
Link and Zelda spent more time together in the castle than they ever had before. Even as Link was happily filling his stomach, he listened eagerly as Zelda spoke breathlessly about her research and her thoughts regarding the Sheikah Slate and the Guardians. He hardly got a word in, but it didn’t matter; he had never seen Zelda so excited as he did then. In those moments, she didn’t think about their fate, their destiny, even the approach of Calamity Ganon. She seemed to truly be in her element, showing him a side of her he had really only seen once before.
Link followed Zelda throughout the castle, still excitedly discussing the Guardians. She had a bounce in her step as she lead him around to the training yard where the soldiers worked easily with one of the mysterious machines. Zelda looked out over the walkway as the soldiers interacted with the Guardian. Link, too, watched curiously over her shoulder. The Guardian walked across the ground with its long, spidery, mechanical legs. Zelda leaned back in admiration.
“Incredible. We’re at a point now where we can actually control them. At the current rate, we’ll soon know all we need to know about the Guardians and the Divine Beasts!” She turned to Link with a sense of excitement. “And should Ganon ever show itself again, we’ll be well positioned to defend ourselves.”
“What are you doing out here, Zelda?” King Rhoam’s voice spoke from behind her. She turned quickly to see her father approaching them. Link got to a knee as the king gazed sternly upon his daughter.
“I…” Zelda started, hesitant. She knew her father did not approve of her scholarly studies, as he referred to them. She made a fist at her side and spoke confidently. “I was assessing the results of the experiment with the Guardians. These pieces of ancient technology could be quite useful against the -”
“I know that,” the king interrupted. “They are essential to Hyrule’s future, and our research demands that we keep a close eye on them.” His voice grew stern. “However, as the princess, you currently have a crucial unfulfilled responsibility to your kingdom.”
Zelda looked down, defeated. She knew what he was going to say next.
“Let me ask you once more,” her father continued. “When will you stop treating this as some sort of childish game?”
“I’m doing everything I can,” Zelda pleaded with him. “I’ll have you know that I just recently returned from the Spring of Courage where I offered every ounce of my prayers to the Goddess -”
“And now you are here wasting your time. You need to be dedicating every moment you have to your training.” The king’s voice rose. “You must be single-minded in unlocking the power that will seal Calamity Ganon away.”
“I already am,” Zelda said, growing desperate. “Don’t you see - there’s nothing more I can do!” She averted her gaze, well aware that she was overstepping with her father. She knew there was no use arguing with him, but she had to make him understand. “My hope is… My hope is that you - That you’ll allow me to contribute here in whatever way I can.”
“No more excuses, Zelda!” The king said quickly, shaking his head. “Stop running away from your duty. As the king, I forbid you to have anything to do with these machines from this moment on and command you to focus on your training.” He turned away from her and looked down onto his soldiers as they continued to work with the Guardian. His voice lowered. “Do you know how the gossip mongers refer to you? They are out there at this moment whispering amongst themselves that you are the heir to a throne of nothing. Nothing but failure.”
Zelda lowered her head in shame. Her father never missed a chance to remind her of that - that she was a failure.
“It is woven into your destiny that you prove them wrong,” he continued. He turned to his daughter, his expression softer. “Do you understand?”
Zelda did not meet her father’s gaze. “Yes,” she said softly. “I understand.” She did not look up as the king turned away and left her alone with Link on the walk. She did not move until her father was out of sight. As Link got to his feet, Zelda strode passed him in frustration.
Link trotted to catch up to her, his mind searching for some way to console her, but Zelda stopped suddenly and faced him. The frustration that creased her face was gone. Her expression was stark and cold.
“Tomorrow we will go to the Spring of Power,” she said simply. Without another word, she turned away from him and made her way to the opposite end of the walk, disappearing behind the door as it slammed shut behind her.
15: Chapter Fourteen - Desperation (Slumbering Power)
Father scolded me again today. He told me I am to have nothing more to do with researching ancient technology. He insisted that I focus instead on training that will help me awaken my sealing magic. I was so frustrated and ashamed I could not even speak. I’ve been training since I was a child, and yet… Mother passed the year before my training was to begin. In losing her, I lost not just a mother, but a teacher. Mother used to smile and tell me, “Zelda, my love, all will be well in the end. You can do anything.” But she was wrong. No matter how I try or how much time passes, the sealing power that is my birthright evades me. Tomorrow I journey with Link to the Spring of Power to train. But this, too, will end in failure. Such is my curse.
She was obviously lost in her own thoughts as they rode through the morning, and Link thought it best not to intrude. He looked over his shoulder from time to time as Storm seemed to fall behind. Zelda’s gaze was low on the ground until she noticed Link watching her and she would encourage the horse to catch up to them. Her expression was of defeat as they continued to ride on in silence until Link couldn’t take it any longer.
“I think Storm’s starting to like you,” he said casually.
Zelda’s eyes moved slowly up from their gaze on the ground to meet Link’s. “He is?”
Link nodded. “He stood quietly when you saddled him this morning. He’s more responsive to you now.”
Zelda let her gaze move to the horse. She watched Storm’s ears twitch. “Oh.” She leaned down slightly and patted his neck.
“I knew I could make a rider out of you.”
A small smile tugged at the corner of her lips. “Well, I’m sure I don’t compare to your riding abilities.”
“Let’s put it to the test,” Link said. “A race to the stables in South Akkala.”
Zelda hesitated. “A race?” Sure, she was capable of galloping on horseback, but the idea of racing Link and Epona - clearly bonded duo, no less - seemed daunting. There was no way she and Storm would even come close. It would be humiliating to say the least. But before she had a chance to dismiss the idea, Link had taken her reins from her and was encouraging Epona and Storm to move faster.
Zelda let a small yelp escape as Storm’s pace quickened with Epona’s, and after a moment, Link let go of her reins and pushed Epona into a gallop. Before Zelda could make her own command, Storm bolted forward to keep up with his companion. Zelda lurched forward as he did so, but regained herself quickly, taking the reins in hand and bending low as Storm’s pace quickened.
Before she knew it, Storm had caught up to Epona, and she and Link galloped side by side for a moment. Zelda narrowed her eyes playfully at Link before bending lower towards Storm’s neck and encouraging him faster still. She and Storm pulled ahead, leading the way into the Akkala region. The sound of Storm’s hooves thundering against the ground brought a sense of excitement as they galloped across the land and she grinned and cooed to the horse.
Her moment of joy was cut short as Link and Epona galloped by them, taking the lead. Clearly he had been holding back for her, and Zelda was not about to make his win seem that easy. She kicked at Storm, encouraging him to push himself as fast as he could, and Storm willingly obeyed, eager to keep up with his friends.
Once more, Link and Zelda galloped side by side with only the sounds of thundering hooves and rushing wind in their ears. The stables in South Akkala neared quickly, but Zelda pushed onward, even with Link and Epona fell behind once more. She didn’t slow storm until they were just outside the stables. She stood high in her stirrups, thrusting a fist in the air as she pulled Storm to a stop. She turned and watched as Link and Epona trotted towards them and they let their horses catch their breaths.
“You let me win,” Zelda said, but she was grinning proudly nonetheless.
Link shook his head and patted Epona’s neck. “No way,” he said with a smile. “I’m one of the best riders around. I have a reputation to uphold.”
“So I guess I shouldn’t go around telling everyone that the princess showed you up.” Zelda winked playfully at him.
“That would be very kind of you,” Link said as he dismounted. “Save me the shame and humiliation.” He walked over to Storm and offered his hand to Zelda. “Princess.”
“How chivalrous of you,” Zelda said, but she ignored his offer and dismounted on her own. She scratched Storm’s neck for a moment, then unsaddled the horse as Link unsaddled Epona.
“We can stay here for the night,” Link said. “And get to the spring early tomorrow morning.”
“Okay,” Zelda said. She carried her saddle to Link and let it drop on his arms. “Storm and I will take it slow for your sake.” She winked at Link as she walked by him. She made her way to two young girls who stared at her with admiration.
Link watched as Zelda got to her knees to talk to the two girls. She picked two wild flowers from the ground and put them delicately behind their ears. The girls giggled, and Link smiled.
The morning was still young when Link and Zelda arrived at the Spring of Power. Zelda stood before the goddess statue in silence for a few moments in an attempt to clear her mind and focus on her prayers. She looked up at the goddess statue, her hands clasped together before her, but the longer she stood there, the more helpless she started to feel. She closed her eyes and prayed with every ounce of energy she had, but still the voices remained silent.
She looked upon the goddess statue and let out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding. She stared at the statue for a moment, her shoulders dropping.
“I come seeking help regarding this power that has been handed down over time. Prayer will awaken my power to seal Ganon away. Or so I’ve been told all my life.” She hesitated and let her hands come apart, dropping into the water beside her. Her voice softened and she cast her eyes downward. “And yet, Grandmother heard them - the voices from the spirit realm. And mother said her own power would develop within me. But I don’t hear… or feel anything!”
She turned her gaze back onto the statue, growing desperate. “Father has told me time and time again. He always says, ‘Quit wasting your time playing at being a scholar!’ Curse you!” She let her hands come down hard, punching at the water, but the water only gave way to her fists with light splashes.
“I’ve spent every day of my life dedicated to praying! I’ve pleaded to the spirits tied to the ancient gods and still the holy powers have proven deaf to my devotion.” She brought her hands up across her chest, gripping at her arms. She closed her eyes in an attempt to hold back her desperate tears. “Please just tell me. What is it? What’s wrong with me?”
Link turned around, watching Zelda’s desperation grow. He felt helpless, watching her struggle in search of her power. There was nothing he could do to help her. Nothing. He returned the sword to its sheath as she turned away from the goddess statue. She moved slowly through the water, her head hanging low in defeat. She walked out of the water and stood before Link, her tears dripping off her cheeks and onto the ground.
“What if I can’t do it?” she said softly. “How can this world depend on a failure of a princess who can’t even awaken the power needed to seal Ganon away?” She met Link’s gaze. “What… What’s wrong with me?” She let herself fall into him, burying her face into his shoulder as she sobbed.
Link hesitated for a moment, then wrapped his arms around her. He leaned his head against hers and sighed. “Nothing’s wrong with you,” he whispered to her.
“Something must be,” she said. “The war hasn’t even begun and I’m already failing.”
Link pushed her away slightly, looking down into her eyes. He hesitated for a moment, searching for something to say that might make her feel better. “I can’t hear the sword,” he finally said.
Zelda looked up and met his gaze, her brows knit together. She searched his eyes for a moment. “Is that… Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
Link pinched his lips together. “Yes?”
Zelda stepped back away from him. “So, we’re both failures,” she said, her voice getting louder. “The fate of Hyrule is in the hands of two failures. One would have been fine. At least you could use the power of the sword to defeat Ganon. But now… now we’re really doomed. We can’t do anything to stop this. We can’t do anything to save Hyrule.”
Link hesitated, regretting having said anything to her. “It’s in our destinies -”
“Ugh!” Zelda threw her arm angrily and pushed passed Link. “There’s no such thing as destiny, Link! Don’t you see? It ends here. Ten thousand years of legends and prophecies all end here, with us. We’ve failed, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Link walked slowly after her, feeling the sting of her words. She was right; he had failed her. They had failed Hyrule.
“We can’t give up yet,” Link said with determination in his voice. “There’s still time. We need to use every second that’s given to us to find that power.”
Zelda looked out over the Akkala region. The sun cast the land in a warm, golden glow. The red and yellow leaves made the trees look like wild fires along the land.
“And what if we don’t?” Zelda whispered. “What if Ganon returns and we’re not ready? What then?”
Link stood at Zelda’s side looking out over the fields of Akkala. “We fight,” he said. “To the end.”
Zelda look up at Link and saw the determination in his eyes. His presence and confidence was reassuring to her. She turned her gaze to the sky. He was right; no matter what, they would fight. Together.
I had a dream last night… In a place consumed by darkness, a lone woman gazed at me, haloed by blinding light. I sensed she was… not of this world. I don’t know if she was a fairy or a goddess, but she was beautiful. Her lips spoke urgently, but her voice did not reach me. Would I have heard her if my power was awoken? Or was my dream simply a manifestation of my fears? I am sure I will know the answer soon, whether I wish to or not…