Princess Alter Ego Visions Sitely Main

Grace DoubleNegative

Chapter 1: A Dress of Soft Blue

"Another fire broke out this morning."


"Who was it this time?"

"The Bombchu Shop."

"That's the third business in two months…"

"It's a bit suspicious if you ask me. What are the guards doing to stop this?"

"Humph! Castle guards nothin'! Sounds like the Devils' work to me!"

"Nonsense. It's the middle of summer--we have reports of fire every year."

"Say what ye will! There be black magic afoot!"

"Quiet, fool! You're scaring the children!"

"Devils, I tell you! Devils!"

Link listened as a group of villagers passed, their faces flushed with panic. The Market had fallen victim to a series of disastrous fires, all targeted towards the town''s major businesses. There were no reports of injuries, and buildings could always be replaced, but the townspeople questioned their safety, and the guards did little to calm their fears.

With three fires in less than three months, the Market was entering a dangerous trend. And while Link knew little of politics, he knew the consequences of bankruptcy, prolonged financial loss, and extensive property damage.

Someone was attacking Hyrule's economy.

Forsaking his stack of wooden crates, Link hopped to the ground and resumed his stroll, leaving the villagers to worry amongst themselves. Link surveyed these "huddles" as a means of keeping informed, relaying his findings to Princess Zelda, who insisted she know the "in and outs" of the kingdom''s everyday rustic. It was an easy task, considering no one, least of all the castle guards, suspected the casual consort--and undercover spy--of Princess Zelda to be an absent-minded tavern boy. It was an edge Zelda used to her advantage--exploiting the dimwittedness of her colleagues and alleged "superiors" to structure the palace as she saw fit. Nor was she above undermining every rule, etiquette, and/or procedure ever written to get whatever, whenever, and however, be it in the best interest of her kingdom.

She was ruthless, really.

But with wisdom came an unfathomable isolation, a knowledge that few could be trusted and even fewer relied upon, and that the essence of hope lied within the loyal eyes and arms of a boy no older--and not much bigger--than herself. And while she loved her father, he often lacked the "better judgment,"" so aptly named, when protecting the people against unseen forces.

It may have been why, in the past, Zelda had snuck Link to her bedchambers, begging he keep her company through the night, her tiny frame huddled against his own in the darkness of the twilight hours. She would sleep against his chest, calm and comfortable and without concern. Though a strange request, Link knew no better, and would stay with her till morning, despite the dangers of being discovered and sent straight to the dungeons, torture chamber, and lastly, the guillotine.

Months had passed since they last shared her bedding, as both were approaching an age when even Link, the oblivious of all oblivious, knew of the "activities"" young--not to mention unsupervised--couples engaged in when left to their own devices. He assumed she would never ask again, though part of him couldn't help but wonder, or perhaps hope, if the thought, ludicrous as it was, ever crossed her mind.

If she asked, he would undoubtedly comply, not because of a lack of control, but because it went against his very nature to deny her. He wondered if it weren't the will of the Triforce of Courage.

…Link was fairly certain he would meet his end at the executioner's block.

His reconnaissance complete, Link tapped his boot against the ground, absently brushing the sleeve of his shirt and thigh. His morning chores were complete, and the Boniface would have no work for him till later in the evening when customers arrived.

On an ordinary day, Link would wander outside the town, visiting the graves at Kakariko Village, or paying his respects at the Temple of Time. They were morbid habits, which the Boniface discouraged, but Link had never been the cheeriest of children, if not for a lack of happy thoughts, then a flaw in the temperament which fabricated his design. He'd made attempts to try other things--visiting the Gorons, besting the Gerudos, swimming in Lake Hylia…

But his thoughts were inexplicably drawn to the Temple's song, his past a despicable scar of vengeance, retribution, and loss. His triumphs, forgotten by all save the Princess and himself, had dissipated with the passing of the sages, who guarded their respective temples against the tainted hands of the foul. And while peace was worth any forgotten good deed, Link felt shunned by time, as though his existence in either era--be it past or future--was altogether irrelevant with his duties complete and Hyrule restored.

His only comfort was Princess Zelda, her bewitching image an echo in his mind, driving him to the point of insanity. His body moved involuntarily at her command, and he noted, with an unnamed emotion, that if and when she sent him to hell, he would go, as ordered, with nothing less than an iron will to complete his task.

Avoiding children, the occasional cucco, and head pats from the elderly, Link reached the Market gates, stopping only to admire the palace in the distance. Guards stood at either side, both of which Link ignored, continuing on to the dirt path used by ranchers and traders for transporting goods, and other items of importance, to castle storage.

It was no surprise how intruders--both harmless and intuitive--could breach security as they neared the castle. Hyrule's guards were lazy and undisciplined due to inadequate training and a prolonged period of peace. It was a foolish direction for leadership, with a kingdom of bountiful resources, to neglect its line of defense. Link imagined that, once Zelda "held the reigns," both offensive and defensive inequities would be rectified.

…He hoped so--for her sake, if no one else's.

Making his way past the eastern wall and through the outer gate, Link passed, with a tinge of arrogance, the surrounding guards, his feet light as fireflies against the earth. As he rounded the corner, Link half expected Talon to appear, snoozing against a crate of Lon Lon Milk. To his relief, Talon was no where in sight, nor was his tenacious daughter, or anyone of the like. Link was alone to carry out his mischief, and he did so, most discreetly, until reaching the courtyard.

No one, save Princess Zelda, was allowed entry to the courtyard. It was her sanctuary, so to speak, a place used to sort her thoughts and spy on noblemen through hushed eyes and half spoken whispers. If Zelda was summoned, a guard was to stand at the courtyard's edge, begging her highness' forgiveness, and requesting her presence--usually at the behest of her father--in the Great Hall.

But there was no such summon today. Only Link awaited her command, flexing his fingers against the burning sensation in his left hand. The Triforce of Courage resonated--albeit briefly--with the Triforce of Wisdom, its power imprinted into his very skin. To conceal its mark, Link gloved his left hand and wrist, conscious of its blemish and fearful of its effect on the common man. Attention, Zelda had taught, was not always a good thing.

Quietly, he approached her, his eyes fixated on the tresses brushing against her back. She leaned, lazily so, against the ground, her hands at either side, and her feet bare and pale against the crisp viridian of the grass. Her fingers twitched lightly, pained by a stinging sensation in her right hand.

She felt it too.

"You see that man there, with my father?" Instinctively, Zelda began her inquiry, her back facing him as she surveyed the windows. "A diplomat, from a neighboring kingdom--one with exceptional planting fields. Hyrule has an abundant supply of fuel--oils and the like--and this man, hoping to profit from our bounty, is offering my father an X number of plots for our nation's finest coal."

She paused, tracing a finger against her chin. Zelda had become all but obsessed with informing Link of her father's diplomatic conquests. He assumed it part of his training, though he admitted, to no one but himself, that he lacked any sort of response to her scenario.

Being a commoner was wonderful at times.

"Did you bring your ocarina?" Zelda turned to face him, her commanding demeanor replaced with one of friendliness and comradeship.

Link nodded, pulling the instrument from behind his back. Music was his only real talent, and knowing this, Zelda gave him the Ocarina of Time--her family's treasured heirloom. In return, he amused Zelda with soothing lullabies and melodic tunes, some the creation of his own mind, others he'd committed to memory. He could play most anything, but the ocarina held sentiment for him, and for Zelda too.

The trim of Zelda's dress hung loosely at the water's edge--shallow pools lining either side of the courtyard. Link sat beside her, ocarina in hand, his feet several inches from the water's surface. Zelda noted, with amusement, Link's serious expression, as he racked his brain for the appropriate song. Some were stories, others meaningless hums… Yet most were secrets locked in the ethereal fantasy of their past, images of fog, mist, and other shapeless figures of the unseen. And yet, if one peered closely enough, all secrets were revealed, a decade's worth of tears and triumphs merged into the slender fingertips of a thirteen-year-old boy.

He played as she thought--a lonely tune of ancient ruins and hidden passages, vine-encrusted walls with golden keys, bizarre patterns etched in stone, a thousand mysteries bouncing in the darkness.

Was the music so intoxicating? Or was Link's undeniable emergence into manhood the source of her intrigue? Were his charms so difficult to evade?

She leaned forward as he continued, unaware of their close proximity. She laughed at his immersion, his complete detachment from the physical world as his fingers brushed the keyholes. More importantly, she laughed at her contentment, knowing that he played only for her.

Sensing her warmth, Link opened his eyes to find the Princess staring intently, much the same as the last time he'd visited, and the time before. He'd once thought her gaze intimidating, as if inspecting the very innards of his soul. …Though lately, he found it calming, subconsciously pleased that she stared at him and not "some other boy." He'd never considered himself "possessive," though as he grew, he resigned himself to an irrefutable fact:

Zelda was, in its smallest measurement, his and his alone.

Finished with his song, Link paused to begin another, but stopped at the touch of Zelda''s hand.

"Are the rumors true?"

Her eyes, once intense with passion, was replaced with urgency and desperation. She seemed disappointed, even a little sad, at interrupting his performance. There were moments--as brief as the wind--when she wanted the melodies to continue, the sounds to press forward into the night, burying her responsibilities in the soils of her rose garden. Though come morning, reality always bloomed, unveiling the harsh truths of her esteemed position in life, and the demands of her station.

Link nodded, unsure of his own voice.

"Then Hyrule is, once again, the victim of fate's misfortune."

She sighed, revealing a moment of aggravation--known only to Link, of course--before mustering the energy to stand. Immediately, Link sprung to his feet, lending her his arm as she balanced her weight against his shoulder. He held her steady as she smoothed her dress, thin as it was, straightening her hair and regaining her composure. She placed a hand against his chest before continuing.

"I suspect foul play, though I have no proof." Her voice was low, tempting. "The guards are brainless at best, and I cannot approach my father without something… tangible. If I am to prove these fires of unnatural birth, than I must find unnatural evidence to match its cause!"

Link recognized the concentration in her voice, and the determined arch of her brow, and he knew, without warning, she had a plan.

A plan in which he was sure to be implemented.

She clutched his arm, as if too weak to stand.


There it was.

"Have you ever been to the soldiers' barracks?"