Prologue: Chapter One
HYRULE'S dawn was a veil of golden fire across the deep soft lavender of the sky. The sun swelled above the rolling hills and struck out with spears of light to drive back the receding darkness. From the deep south to the high and arctic north, the green and golden land turned ever towards the light.
Yet every three hundred years the light failed and left the land in a deep night of despair. Creatures of shadow arose from cemetery and catacomb to defile and destroy the sacred places of the land. And then the Hero came with cold steel to drive back the creeping dark. The cycle was a thing of legend which would continue ceaselessly until the end of time, or until the children of the Golden Three no longer walked the land of their birth.
These were the things the young man considered as he rode across the swelling breast of the hills. He was thin and small, his patched cloak dusty from the long road he had traveled. Yet there was a knowing in his green eyes that spoke of harder roads traveled, and the slender sword that bounced on his hip was scarred from long use. His red-brown hair was tied back and braided in the Calatian manner, gathered into a loose plait at the nape of his neck, with braids swinging free in front of his pointed ears. He was a foreigner in this land.
The hills came to an end, and cantering down a long and gentle slope, the young man saw at the bottom the white walls of a city. His horse's hooves tore sods of grass and rich black earth from the fertile meadow. With a light touch on the reins he slowed the horse and arrived at the gates at a trot. Two soldiers in white and silver armor stepped out and crossed their polearms before him.
"State thy business here."
The young man reached into his tunic and withdrew a rolled parchment tied with a white ribbon. Leaning forward, he handed this to the soldier. He already knew the contents by heart, for he had read the note again and again on his long journey.
To the Hero,
Her Majesty Zelda Harkinian, Princess Royal of Hyrule, thanks you for your valiant service to the Crown in recent years, and desires that you present yourself at Hyrule Castle as soon as you may.
The only signature was an imprint of the Royal Seal, a spread-winged phoenix clutching a triple triangle in its talons. The wax was white, symbolising purity; the letter had come from the Princess herself.
The soldier read the message right through and handed the paper back with a respectful bow. "Proceed." The polearms moved back, clearing the way. The young man smiled and nodded his thanks, then loosened the reins and rode into the town.
Hyrule City was the greatest city in the Westlands. Almost two and a half thousand years ago, a warrior chieftain had built a stone wall around a squalid little hill fort, and subsequent chiefs and princes had added to it as the vigorous young kingdom's strength increased. Now the capital of the Hyrulian Empire, the White City was a place of great stone plazas and towering minarets, its marble face dominated by the magnificent spires of the Castle. Open courtyards led into a thousand tiny winding streets where the sky was hidden by overhanging tenements, but around every corner was a thing of unexpected beauty: a statue, a fountain, a church.
Passing through the town's famous marketplace and the wide avenue of the King's Street, the traveler came at last to the tall white gates of Hyrule Castle. Once again he presented his letter and was allowed passage. He dismounted and led his horse, casting a wary glance at the gateway. And well he might be wary, for across the top of the archway lay a dragon, wrought in cunning silver of such purity that it was almost white. The skill of the craftsman was so fine that each iridescent scale could be seen. Its coils looped along the top of the gates, and at the very center its spear shaped head rose high into the air, silver mouth open in an eternal silver-toothed snarl.
It was a legend within the city that, should evil pass within, the dragon would awaken.
The traveler passed beneath the gate, and the dragon remained silent as silver. Firmly now and gaining in confidence, he turned his back upon White Dragon Gate. Leading his horse he passed slowly up a wide tree-lined avenue, carpeted with white sand. Green lawns rolled out on either side of him, but he did not look left or right. His attention was drawn to the building rising up in front of him. Leaving his horse with the liveried soldiers who stood beside the entrance, he walked lightly up the steps to the great doors of the castle, which stood always open for whatever noble guest came this far.
A servant hurried away as the young man entered. The castle's hall was carpeted in brilliant red and hung about with tapestries. The young man paid no attention to the beautiful furnishings, but waited in the center of the hall, his expression showing polite anticipation.
He did not have long to wait. Before he had drawn ten breaths in the stillness of the hall, a young woman appeared at the top of the red-carpeted stairs. He knew her at once, for her beauty was a thing of fable even in his faraway homeland. Her sun-gold hair, reaching almost to her waist, was braided with chains of thread-fine gold, and she wore a plain white silk dress with spatters of opals like stardust. A golden brooch in the shape of a triple triangle lay upon her breast. Nobody who beheld this woman, barely past childhood but filled with a sense of wisdom and power, could mistake her for anything but what she was--Zelda, Princess Royal of the House Harkinian and heir to the throne of Hyrule.
"Link," she said warmly, her voice warm and rich. "I am glad that you have come."
The young man knelt reverently on one knee, but did not bend his head. His eyes were firm on hers as he replied, "Your letter gave me cause to hurry, Princess. Might I ask why you summoned me?" His voice was soft, coloured with the lilting accent of the lake country.
"You may," Zelda answered, "but in private. Come with me to the library. We shall not be disturbed there."
The library of the House Harkinian was a thing of wonder. Scholars journeyed there from all parts of the realm to exchange knowledge and to gain it. There was not a book in Hyrule that was not represented within the royal collection, and the collection itself was by no means completely documented. The library covered almost a third of the castle's ground floor and its shelves were stacked high with dusty parchment in a hundred different tongues. It was to this place that the princess, Zelda, led her visitor.
"You have done much for us, Link," she said as she walked through the towering corridors of books, her visitor following behind. "We are, as a nation, in your debt. Your sword has saved Hyrule for another generation."
"A mere generation?" Link said, his tone betraying anger. "I assure you, Princess, I smote a telling blow. Your people need fear the Evil King no longer."
Zelda shook her head sadly. "I do not mean to belittle your achievement. But the truth is, whatever you do will not be enough. Many times Ganon has been defeated, and many times he has returned. His periods of banishment in the Dark World merely make him stronger. Even death has not kept him from us forever."
"There will always be madmen who seek to resurrect him," Link allowed. "If what you say is true he will never have the power to rise again in our lifetime. Our part in this is over, your Highness; we've done all we can."
Zelda smiled. "I wish to make sure that he will never rise again."
Link's brow rose. "And how do you propose to do that, Princess, when he is shut away in the Dark World where we cannot go?"
"I understand your doubts, my friend. And I know that our ancestors have tried many times to vanquish the spirit of the Evil King, without success. But I believe I have discovered something that may prove fatal to Ganon." They had reached an open space in the labyrinth of paper, a quiet reading place where those who desired could sit with a book and absorb their learning in comfort. Zelda sat at the table and laid her hand upon an open book which had been placed there. "It was in here that I found it," she said. "This volume is called the Book of Mudora. Legends say that it was written in the dawn of history, and bound in this very book by the sage Rauru. It contains both history and prophecy, the prophecy becoming history with the passage of time." She paused, lifting her head to gaze at the young man who stood opposite. "In this book I have found reference to a way to regain the Triforce."
"Is this true?" Link said in wonder. "It is possible to reclaim the Triforce, even though the Dark World is barred to us?"
Zelda's fingers stroked the ancient book as she spoke. "Sit down, Link" she said. "It is a long story to tell.
"The last time we had any trouble from Ganon was just over three hundred years ago. The seals in the Sacred Realm had weakened over time, and Ganon was able to break free and return to Hyrule with the Triforce of Power. He took up residence in the Underworld and sent out his dark armies in search of the then Princess, Zelda Fourth, the guardian of the Triforce of Wisdom. Your grandfather destroyed Ganon's hopes by facing him in combat. He recovered all sixteen shards of the Triforce of Wisdom and joined it with his own Courage to face the Evil King. Though he could not destroy Ganon, he was able to banish him once again to the Dark World. We do not know what happened to the Triforce, save that it faded from our sight.
"Then, only a year ago, Ganon reappeared, and his monsters with him. He began at once to seek for the missing two parts of the Triforce, hoping that with its combined power he could become as he had once been: Ganondorf Dragmire, the Gerudo King. Though trapped in a body that was not his own, his wizardly powers were still greatly to be feared. We could not stand against him." She paused. "And that is where you come in."
"I defeated him in single combat and sent his ghost back to the Dark World," Link answered. "He is a bodiless spirit now, powerless to hurt us, and the Triforce is lost to him forever. He has nothing. That chapter in our history is over, Princess. It is doubtful whether Ganon will ever find the strength to waken again."
"No, it is not," Zelda said. "He will always find the power. And in the Dark World he may be closer to the Triforce than we are. Already his monsters are beginning to reappear in Hyrule. The struggle will begin all over again."
Link nodded reluctantly. "I see. But you have an idea, Princess?"
"The battle against evil will never end, Link. But I want to create a force to oppose evil even when there is no Hero, a force dedicated to serving the Light, which will prevent Ganon troubling our world ever again. Such a force existed once, many years ago." She smiled slowly, her eyes alight with wonder. "Are you aware of the myth of the Legendary Knights?"
"The noble warrior reined in his charger, leaning into the storm to face the driving wind and rain. A golden amulet set with a shining emerald shone upon his breast. The clouds seethed and bubbled as lightning struck the heath all around, but the heir to the Triforce was unharmed. He turned his head and shouted a world of command into the blackness, a word calling upon others for aid.
"And now the others appeared through the storm's fury. Each one bore a jewel of a different hue. One by one they raised the amulets and -"
"How come they were different colors, grandfather?"
"Do you want to hear the story or not, boy? ...Finished? Good. As I was about to say, the amulets represented the different elements and the spirits of the six ancient sages. Now, one by one they raised the amulets and called upon their powers. To dispel the magical storm would take great power, but together they were almost undefeatable. The light of five different -"
"Will you stop interrupting?"
"But Grandfather -"
"I won't tell you another."
"But Grandfather! What happened to the sixth one?"
"The sixth what?"
"There were six Knights before. But you said there were only five stones. What happened to the last one?"
"You ask too many questions, boy."
"My grandfather told me stories of the Knights when I was a child," Link said. "I always thought they were like the Old Man who comes at Yuletide and leaves candies for the children." He could not keep the scepticism out of his voice.
"The Legendary Knights were as real as we, long ago," Zelda told him. "I have been studying the Book of Mudora. It contains much wisdom on the subject of the Hero's Knighthood, more than is to be found anywhere else in Hyrule." She laid the leather-bound tome upon the table and opened it at a page marked with a slip of folded paper. Despite its great age, the pages of the book were white as new-fallen snow and its graceful script still legible in deep black ink. The pages were decorated with fantastic designs of birds, trees and animals, with colors as fresh as a summer sky. Zelda read from the book, translating the ancient language as she did so.
"The powers of the Legendary Knights spring from six Medallions created by the Sages of old and infused with their strength. They bridge the void between worlds. Each Amulet is a thing of power, but when held by those with the courage, the wisdom and the power, the six together may open the door to the Sacred Realm.
"Lore tells us that the powers are such: the power of the Forest, the power of Fire, the power of Water, the power of the Shadow, the power of the Spirit, and the power of Light.
"These six Amulets we have hidden well with noble guardians, for fear that they should once again be used to open the way. It is not possible for the old world to be restored, as it once was, as we have found to our great cost. May Nayru rest his soul."
Zelda closed the book. "That is all... at least, that is all that I will read for now. They go on to write of the Knighthood becoming somehow broken, and that is why the Amulets are lost to us. The wise men of old took the Amulets and hid them in places known only to a trusted few, but for what reason I do not know."
"What was that last part, Princess?" Link asked. "Did somebody die while using the Amulets?"
The Princess shook her head. "I do not know. That is all there is. I can only guess that one or more of the Knights fell victim to the desire for power, and the sages concealed the Amulets for fear that it would happen again. We know that one who seeks the Triforce must have a soul balanced in the three virtues, and we know of Ganon's corruption and fall."
Link nodded slowly, thoughtful. "If we could recover all the Amulets... we would have a path to the Triforce?"
"If six people balanced in heart and soul come together with the Amulets, they could open up the pathways between the worlds and bring the Triforce back to Hyrule," Zelda elaborated. "The Dark World is the road to the Sacred Realm. To recover the Triforce, the Knights would have to defeat Ganon within his own dark kingdom. With the Amulets, this could be done. We need to find six heroes with the purity and strength of will to use the Amulets."
"As well as the Amulets themselves," Link muttered. "Do you know where they might be?"
Zelda spread her hands in a gesture of defeat. "The Ancients hid them well. There is nothing in the Book of Mudora, but my guess would be that they were placed in the ancient pagan temples to the elemental spirits. The locations of these temples are lost nowadays." The Princess sighed.
There was a long silence. "It would be a long and difficult quest to find the Amulets and suitable Knights of this generation," Link said finally. "Are you sure it's even possible? It would be a great thing to have the Triforce and the possibility of destroying Ganon once and for all, but..."
Princess Zelda placed her hand on the scarred cover of the Book of Mudora. Allowing her fingers to rest there lightly as she regarded Link, she paused a moment to marshal her thoughts before speaking. "It must be possible, Link. The sages were afraid to use the Amulets, but at the same time they feared to lose them. Somewhere out there are those who know the locations of the artifacts, the descendants of those who kept the secret. Perhaps if we were to journey to the western desert... somewhere out there, the legends say, is the Spirit Temple..."
"Wait a minute!" broke in Link, leaning over the table and the book. "You said we. Am I to take it that you want to come with me on this quest?"
The princess smiled. "Of course. Now, regarding equipment -"
"Just wait a moment! It will be dangerous in the desert--assuming that we even get there. You are the heir to the kingdom. The King is not going to let you leave with me--and what if harm came to you?"
Zelda reached out and took Link's hand. "Listen. I have thought long about what to do, and it seems clear to me. You agree that somehow the circle must be broken?"
"Yes," Link began suspiciously.
"Well, we must do what our forebears have not done. We cannot sit here waiting for the darkness to fall upon us. Each time Ganon has risen, the first move he has made has been against the Princess Royal, who has never fought for herself." Zelda smiled confidently. "This Princess Royal will turn the tables. Think not that I am incapable of fighting, Link. I am as good a shot with a bow as you are, and I can beat most of the guards at fencing."
Link slammed his fist onto the table. "Princess, I can beat your palace guards at fencing! If we have to fight, it will not be safe, padded fighting like the sport you are used to. Have you ever been injured in battle? Have you ever felt pain? Have you ever looked into the eyes of one who desires to kill you, and known that you must kill him in order to live? You can have no idea what it is like until you have experienced it for yourself!" He sighed, lowering his gaze to the book which lay on the table, squat and mute with the weight of a thousand years. "I cannot expose you to such danger, Princess. And the King will never let you go."
"Don't say any more," Zelda commanded. "I know that my father will not agree to the quest. That is why I am going to leave secretly, with your help. I won't be dissuaded on this."
Link raised his hands in despair. "So I will be an accomplice as well," he moaned. "This is utter madness, Princess."
"So you agree," Zelda stated with a triumphant smile. Her eyes were bright. "I thought you would. There are horses and equipment prepared for us in the stables. You have your sword; I have my bow. I will meet you at dusk in the Silver Square." She rose, taking up the Book of Mudora. "We may need this," she explained. "It contains useful clues as to the whereabouts of the Temples. Follow me now, quickly. And you may call me Zelda from now on, not 'Princess'."
"As you wish... Zelda." Link frowned at her back as she descended the stairs to the King's stables. He did not believe that going questing with the Princess was a good idea. At no time in recorded history had a princess of the blood taken up arms to defend Hyrule; it had always before been left to the Hero. Yet perhaps it was right that the Princess Royal should have a part in the ancient battle. Certainly it was nothing that Ganon would expect.
Link fingered the hilt of his sword as he went over his options. He was a foreigner to Hyrule and knew little of its people. He had no powerful family to defend him against the King's anger, should something happen to Zelda. But, if there was a chance--even a small chance--to defeat Ganon once and for all, he owed it to his ancestors to try. He hoped that helping Zelda to sneak out of the castle without her father's permission would not goad the King into ordering his arrest, for the quest sounded difficult enough without the added complication of Hyrulian soldiers hunting them.
Zelda hurried through the archway into the castle courtyard and disappeared into the stables with some haste. Link followed more reluctantly, anxious that he were not seen in her company. Inside the long wooden building, shining with floating hay-dust and gleaming shafts of sunlight, the Princess led him to two stalls. A white mare and a dark red gelding awaited them, fully saddled, groomed and equipped. Link opened one of the saddlebags and approved the neatly packed dry rations. "You have been prepared for this for quite some time, it seems," he remarked.
"Ever since I wrote the letter," she told him. "Take the horses out of the side gate. The guards there are used to comings and goings and will not question you. I know another way out of the castle, but I must leave at a time when I will not be missed."
"You would have gone alone if I had not agreed to this."
"Yes," she said simply. "But I was sure that you would understand the need."
Link swung the stable door back and led the red horse out. He was no great judge, but even he could tell that the animal was far superior to his own borrowed beast. An animal like this must be worth a great deal; he just hoped that nobody on the road would think that they had stolen it. Zelda handed him the reins to the white mare. Looping both sets over his arm, he led the horses out into the courtyard.
"Tonight, Hero," Zelda said softly, and left in a flurry of skirts. He was left to shake his head wryly as he led the horses towards the gate she had pointed out.
So that is the Princess Royal. Her father has his hands full with that one, I'll wager.
Despite being the heir of the Hero of Time, Link was Calatian by birth; he had grown up in a fishing village in the far south of the Hyrulian Empire. Girls in Calatia did as they were told. These Hylians were different, all fire and passion and wanting their own way. He wondered what else was different about this green country which, although he had spent the last two years fighting for, he barely knew.
The great square was deserted at twilight, as Zelda had obviously known it would be. Link let the horses drink from the fountain as he waited. He felt both excited and strangely nervous about the journey to come; he had done and seen much in his life, but nothing like this, creeping away in secret with the Princess at his side.
The Princess had said dusk, but it was nearly dark, and the silver moon shone fitfully from a sky masked by cloud, by the time a cloaked woman entered the plaza. She drew back her hood as she approached, and her golden hair gleamed beneath the sickle moon. "I could not get away sooner," she explained as she mounted. "I did not want to rouse my father's suspicion."
He had had time to reconsider now. "Princess, I beg you, go back. Let me do this alone. I can ride into the west if you tell me where I must go."
"No, Link, don't ask me." Her eyes were huge and pale in the moonlight. "I must come."
"Then, if you won't go back, promise me you will do as I say. If and when we are attacked, we will have to work together to keep out of danger."
"You need have no fear of that," she whispered. "Now, let us go - quickly!" Her cloak blew aside as she turned the horse, and Link saw that she was wearing a pair of loose leather trousers and a white chemise, with soft knee-boots of chamois. He was relieved; they were traveling clothes, proving that the Princess was of a practical mind. One thing he had greatly feared was that he would be forced to nursemaid a spoilt and flighty palace girl, but Zelda seemed to be of a different school entirely.
They were not challenged at the Merchant's Gate. Zelda urged her horse into a gallop the moment they left the town behind and did not slow until a low rise hid them from sight of the castle. She reined in her mare and let Link ride up. The horses lowered their heads to the grass.
"Head west along the Parapa road," Zelda ordered. "The desert is through a rocky pass. If we ride hard we should reach it by midnight."
"If we do not meet something along the way," Link said.
Despite the best efforts of the horses, the first streaks of pale dawn were visible in the east by the time the two reached the rocky gorge. Zelda rode to the brink of a steep bank and looked down into the cleft. The irregular rocky sides were spattered with bushes and small plants, and a little stream leapt from beneath an overhang just below them. Although deep, the cleft was not sheer and a path down was clearly visible a little way along. Link rode with Zelda along the bank to examine the descent, and she outlined her idea to him. Zelda might be the princess, but in the wilds Link was the expert and must by rights lead.
"It is a good plan," he said approvingly. "If we must pass through the gorge to reach the desert, then I do not think we shall find another descent as good as this."
"Should we dismount?" Zelda asked. "I don't like the idea of riding the horses through the old stream bed. It would be too easy to damage their feet on loose stones."
Link smiled. "That is just what I was about to say!" He leaped from the saddle and took hold of his horse's bridle as he stepped down over the edge of the gorge. The horses went willingly and though the ground was, as Zelda had foreseen, unstable under their feet, the way was easier than they had imagined. Walking in the stream, which came up to their ankles but no further, they quickly reached the flat bottom of the gorge where the water runneled off into rivulets among the dusty rocks of an ancient riverbed. "There was a river here once," Zelda said, "but it dried up a long time ago. The story is in the Book of Mudora, Link; you should study it someday."
"I never seem to find the time," Link said wryly. "When our quest is done, Princess, then I will be able to rest and do all the things I have never done. But for now, we have a more important task."
Zelda paused in her stride. "What things do you regret not doing?"
"Many things," Link answered with a heavy sigh. "I have left so much undone back home." He did not add, because of this land, but it was there nonetheless.
"Will you go back to Calatia?" Zelda asked quietly.
"Maybe," he responded. "In truth, I have little idea what I want to do with my life. I have never had choices before."
"It is our fault," Zelda said softly. "You have always fought for Hyrule - for us - but Hyrule is not even your country."
"It was the country of my ancestors." He patted the red horse's neck. "If I had stayed in Calatia I would never have met any of you," he went on, "you, Zelda, or the King. I'd still be a country boy from the back of beyond. I'd have married some village lass and become a fisherman."
Zelda laughed. "You? A fisherman?"
"Strange, isn't it?" Link answered, and there was a faraway look in his eyes. "I wonder if I could ever have been truly happy in Calatia. They always teased and scolded me because my head was full of noble dreams - of knights and swords and dragons and princesses, and deeds of glory. But I never dreamed that it could truly happen to me, that I would become a hero."
Zelda dipped her head so that he could not see her eyes. "Let's ride on," she said.
They mounted and made their way along the floor of the ravine, accompanied by the rushing of the little stream which was now many little streams, steaming along the dusty ground. It had carved itself a network of paths along the dirt. The rock they walked on was rippled like sand beneath rushing water. It had been carved into this shape by the action of a powerful river many hundreds of years ago, and now the river's legacy was left in the rock, the shape of its course in a thousand years of stone.
"These marks on the ground," Link began, and then stopped, his brow furrowed.
"Amazing, isn't it?" Zelda said quietly. "They're still here, even though the river dried up so long ago."
"Perhaps they are like us," Link said, looking at the rippled ground.
"How do you mean?"
"A thousand years ago and more, Ganondorf came out of the West. He is gone, but he has left marks in Hyrule's history like these marks left by the river. Our path is still guided by the ripples he created, and we can't escape it."
Zelda started and looked sharply at Link. He was looking at the ground and there was a closed expression on his face. She could not deny that it was an apt metaphor, but it seemed odd that a Hero should speak so.
"We could not wipe these ripples away, Zelda," Link went on. "Only time can do that - that and the wind and sand."
"I know," Zelda replied. She understood now what was troubling her companion, and she reined in her horse. "But we are going to raise a storm of sand to sweep the stone clean."
"It can do no harm to try."
The gorge turned a corner, and smaller cracks and clefts opened up in the stone around them. Several times there were rifts in the ground itself, some so wide that the horses had to be urged to leap over them. Link paused and looked into one of these rifts, but he could not see the bottom - only the sheer sides dropping away into a blackness of rock and empty night. He dropped a pebble in and listened for a sound which did not come.
"Take care," Zelda warned.
"I will not fall." But he stayed back from the edge. The sides of the ravine grew higher and higher as they followed the stream onwards, and soon they were enclosed by great walls of dust colored stone, with only a sliver of stars to light their way. They halted beside a ridge where the stream tumbled over a protruding lip of stone into a small deep pool. The thirsty horses drank deep of the clear cold water and soon the companions followed their beasts' example. The water was bitter but refreshing.
Link unpacked some of the provisions and found two blankets plus some dry biscuit and a cheese. He used his short sword to divide the food as the Princess Royal looked on. "I packed no plates," she said, almost apologetic for the lack. "Well... in truth, I was afraid that they'd get broken in the saddlebags."
He grinned as he handed her her share of the rations. "Eat with your fingers, Princess. This is the real thing - camping out under the stars. An adventure!"
Zelda took the food and nibbled, uncomfortable with having to eat like a barbarian. But she was hungry, and one glance at Link convinced her that etiquette had no place here. The princess sat cross-legged on the rocky ground and bit off a piece of the biscuit. The food tasted good, better than she remembered in Hyrule Castle, and she realised how hungry she was.
"How do you like it so far?" Link asked.
Zelda looked over to him. "This is nice," she said, "but I know that it will not be this easy all the time!"
"I'm glad we got out of the city so easily," he said. "I feared that your father might send troops after us."
"Really?" Zelda asked. She had not thought of that possibility and now she shuddered to imagine being taken back by the palace guards when they had only just begun their quest. It would have stopped their whole plan short. "Can they find us?"
Link shrugged. "It depends on how good their trackers are. It would be easy to follow us across the meadows, harder to track us down here, where the ground is hard and we leave no footprints. The sooner we get to the desert's edge, the better. We should rest now, but we ought to move on at daybreak."
"Very well," Zelda agreed. "I will take first watch." She smiled at his look of surprise.
Soon Link was asleep on the hard ground, wrapped in one of the woollen blankets. Zelda sat with her back to the cliff and withdrew the carefully wrapped Book of Mudora from within her shirt. She settled the heavy tome upon her knees and flipped quickly through the pages. Within the book was a woodcut which she knew Link had never seen. It depicted the first Link, the Hero of Time, battling a great dark beast with cloven hooves and a long sharp toothed snout - Ganon, the Evil King. The hair might be different, but the face of Link First was almost identical to the face of the Link who lay sleeping innocently by her side. Zelda was as sure as she could be that Link was a direct descendant of the Hero of Time, whose line was said to have descended unbroken for over a thousand years. And the Hero of Time had been the first Legendary Knight.
There were things that Link did not know about the mysterious Knighthood. Only a very few were party to the whole of the ancient lore. The Legendary Knights - or the Knights of Hyrule, as they had also been known - were agents of neutrality. They strove to keep the balance between good and evil. Zelda believed that Hyrule's cycle of destruction and rebirth was due in part to the disappearance of the Knights.
Even better, she believed she had clues as to the identity of the Knights themselves. Forest was easy - that had been Link First's own Amulet. It was written that the Knight of Water was of the House Royal, and that the Knight of Fire was not of Hyrule. The Knight of Shadow was rarely mentioned at all. It seemed that the Shadow was somehow unlucky or a bad omen. Zelda did not understand this entirely, for it was elsewhere stated that all six Knights were needed - so why should there be warnings against using all six Amulets?
She closed the book, little wiser as to the nature of their quest. The moon was beginning its descent into morning. It was time to wake Link... and to get some sleep herself, for Zelda had an intuition that the quest had not even begun.
Although the sun would not be visible in the valley until it was almost overhead, Link saw the pink blush of dawn spread across the glimmering sky, gently fading the last stubborn stars into morning. The white ship of the moon sank down into whatever harbour there was beyond the world as it followed the last tardy clouds of night. A faint mist hung about over the stream. The horses nosed quietly among the meager shrubs and grasses in the gorge; occasionally a quiet snort or the jingle of a harness broke the stillness.
The Princess was asleep on the ground beside him. Zelda's blonde hair spread out around her face and shoulders, and her blue eyes were closed. There was a slight smile on her face as she dreamed whatever dreams she had to dream.
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