Golden Love, Golden Sorrow
(Author's note: All characters are the property of Nintendo. This is actually the third story in the series, and references to the second are made throughout. The second story is not suitable for publication on RPGClassics.com, however, nor will I post a link to the archive on a website frequented by minors. E-mail me privately and be ready to prove your adult status if you want to read it)
"Nine ball, side pocket."
I chalked up the tip of my poolstick, as Ganon lined up his next shot. "And all through "technology,?"" he asked, as he contemplated which of two shots would be the riskier.
"Yes. The "guns," the "elevator," that goo, and whatever the "computer" was," I replied, examining the tip.
"Yet it be naught but a dream," he pointed out. "Ten ball, corner pocket." Whish. "Damn."
I studied the table, picked out my shot. "I can't help but wonder... what would such technology do to Hyrule?"
"Or for it," Ganon rejoined.
"True." I decided. "Three ball, side pocket."
"And the strangest thing is," I continued, "I can see the glimmerings of such things even now. Didn't you hear about that new invention? The "printing press?""
As Ganon narrowed his beady pig eyes at the term, I picked my next shot. "Seven ball, corner pocket." Click! "It writes entire pages of text at one time. I've started funding to support the efforts, in fact. This could mean everyone in Hyrule would have a library as large as mine."
"Everyone as rich as the king?"
"Oh, no." I grinned. "I mean to have an even bigger library. Build another palace just to hold it." I grinned. "All those books, all that knowledge, all those stories. Five ball, corner pocket." I missed, and stepped away to allow Ganon his shot.
"What about the guns?" Ganon's eyes gleamed at the concept.
I snorted disdainfully. "They didn't do the "humans" much good against my sword. And they seemed pretty tough, to me."
"Tougher than Hylians?" he sneered.
"And far tougher than Moblins or Dariyae." Ganon snorted in dismissal, missed his shot. I stepped up for my shot.
"What about those fairies, then?" he asked. "Pfil, and...?"
I missed the cue ball. "I DON'T want to talk about them."
"Good shot," murmured Zelda. Zelda XVII, in fact. She had her own bow out, a quiver slung across her back. She drew, notched, pulled and released. A hair's breadth from my own, within the bull's eye.
"And you, as well," I replied. She beamed. I drew an arrow, and sent the shaft into the space between the two, forcing them apart with it's mass. She colored, and gave me an impressed smile.
"Well done, your Majesty," Zelda II put in from behind me. She sat there, her hands busy with a bit of embroidery, as she watched us.
"Thanks." I smiled back at her.
Since my change in behavior some months past, both Princesses had seemingly agreed to cease their endless feuding. An unspoken pact had fallen between them, a sort of code of conduct, which forbade negative acts towards each other in my presence.
Positive acts in my direction were still wide open, however.
Zelda II held up her embroidery with a calculating eye, examining her handiwork. I noticed the cut-and my eyes widened. Wool. Warm, soft, comfortable wool, in a soft grey. Into this, she'd been working an intricate symbol of the Triforce, the power of Gold. I could see other embroidering on the garment, already finished. Symbols of power, ones she'd no doubt learned from Impa or Ganon. And Symbols of love.
She was learning, I realized. She'd embroidered a garment I'd actually enjoy wearing, with nary a spot of silk or lace in the whole thing.
Zelda XVII caught it as well. She betrayed no anger, fixing herself instead with a small smile, and a respectful nod to her rival. Like a swordsman in a fencing match.
Stefan squirmed a little uncomfortably, as I stared at him. My hands toyed idly with the Triforce, as I did so. Some might question my fiddling with the Power of Gold as if it were a child's toy, but, I'm the King, remember?
I think Stefan might be one of those questioners, which may be why he looked so uncomfortable. That and the fact that the Power of Gold could have leveled the palace if I'd dropped it.
I've always been a thrill seeker.
"Not against us, actually, milord," he clarified hastily. "It seems one of Ganon's creatures, a Wizzrobe named Jarna, has decided to revolt against his rule."
"Any particular reason for such insanity?" I cocked an eyebrow.
"Some believe that Ganon has become soft." He shrugged. "I suppose she believes she can defeat him, now that he's reformed."
"Huh." I pondered a moment. "I'll need some expert advice. Summon Ganon."
As Stefan left my study, trembling with trepidation at his appointed task, I held the Triforce up to my chest. With a pulse of will, the three joined pyramids of Gold sank into my chest, over my heart. Joined with me, beyond any chance of theft.
No sense taking chances.
Ganon entered a few steps behind a visibly shaking Stefan. "Lord G-Ganon, your Majesty," Stefan announced, stepping aside hastily. Ganon settled himself on a fairly large couch, easing his bulk into the soft padding and velvet.
"Why have you called me, Link?" he rumbled. I poured wine into a goblet, smiling.
"You've got troubles back home, I understand," I said, handing him the drink.
"I know." I arched an eyebrow. "It's my business to know the doings of my people."
"So what do you intend to do about it?"
"What do you mean, 'what do I intend to do about it?'" Ganon asked incredulously. "Do you really have to ask?"
Ganon drained the goblet in one swallow. Then his hand flexed over the bowl, slowly squeezing. "I'm... going... to... CRUSH...her..." All his tusks bared themselves, sharp, gleaming blades of ivory. Stefan took an involuntary step back from the horrifying visage that was Ganon's smile.
I retrieved the ruined goblet and gave it a bemused glance. Something for the metalsmiths to fix. "I take it you'll be leaving, then."
He nodded, still grinning.
"Very well. I'd offer you the army, but that might only add to your reputation problems. Besides," and I grinned in turn, "I don't think you need them."
Stefan fainted dead away, at the sound of Ganon's chuckle.
"My lord." I looked up from the confusing literature. Zelda II stood in the doorway, curtseying gracefully.
I smiled. "Come on in, take a load off your feet." She blushed demurely, and seated herself on the couch. Leaving just enough room for me to sit next to her. I smiled. "Ganon was sitting right there, earlier today, you know," I told her slyly.
She jumped, as if Ganon had some infectious disease that she might catch. Then she caught my mirthful grin. "Link!" she protested.
I just laughed. Another thing the Princesses have in common: their bafflement as to my friendship with the Dark Lord. "He's not going to eat you, you know," I pointed out. "He's staying on his best behavior."
"Uh..." Zelda blushed prettily. She did that quite often, I realized. "Why?"
"Because I'll shish kebab his heart all over again, if he tries anything." I handed her the book. "What do you think?"
She looked at the title. "I think... these are important things for a King to know."
I shook my head. "Why should I care what people think of the way my hands move at a party? Better to let people judge my actions as a whole, over the long term."
She shook her head, smiling. "You have to learn to be subtle."
"I don't do subtle."
"Link." She pouted fetchingly. "A hero and King must not rely solely on his blade."
"I know. That's why I carry a bow, too." She gave an exasperated little sigh. "And the magic. Don't forget the magic."
"Link!" She gave a plaintive cry.
"What?" I shrugged helplessly. "What are you upset about?"
"Oh..." She stood up. "You've got so much to learn." She glided out gracefully. I stared at her retreating figure, not understanding why she should be so upset.
Next to Ganon sat a Moblin. This one had been summoned by Ganon specifically for his counsel on dealing with Jarna. He'd groveled at Ganon's feet upon arrival, bent the knee to me, then happily joined us to chomp on bacon and sausage. "What forces does the witch possess?" Ganon demanded, before chasing a large chunk of flesh with a gobletful of juice.
"She has Stalfos under her command, Great One," the Moblin mumbled, then swallowed. "And the Blue Goriya clan has fallen to her sway."
"Then the Blue Goriya clan shall be no more," Ganon intoned. Zelda II turned pale and shivered; Zelda XVII simply closed her eyes and swallowed hard. The Moblin merely nodded, having already predicted his Master's response. I coped with Ganon's horrific promise of genocide by reaching for another pastry.
"The Moblin hordes stand ready for battle, Great One," Moblin promised, clutching the flesh over his heart to signify his readiness. Ganon nodded, and took another bite out of his ham hock. I countered by finishing the rest of my pastry in one bite, and reaching for some sausage.
"What... what does the King..." the Moblin stammered, glancing at me nervously.
"Ganon's free to keep the peace in his lands as he sees fit," I told him. "I'd have sent the Hylian army to aid him, but I don't think he needs it-not with so many brave Moblins flocking to his banner." The Moblin beamed with pride. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught Zelda II giving me a little smile, as her head moved a fraction of an inch, in a nod of approval.
I looked up from my work to see Zelda XVII leaning in the doorway. A smile graced her lips, and her figure was clad in those tight pants she favors when she wants to tease me. Her well developed chest fought for freedom from a similarly tight shirt, while her hair hung loose. A casually attractive look. I swallowed.
Looks like the games are back on...
"What are you doing, Link?" she asked, as she came in, closing the door behind her. I heard the door contact the frame with a dull click, and felt the old nervousness, like I hadn't felt since I'd been 15, and she the older crush, impossible to obtain yet too irresistable to ignore.
I swallowed again to regain control, then replied. "Trying to guide Hyrule's development down the primrose path, instead of into a ditch." I shook my head, put the reports aside. "What can I do for you, Princess?"
She smiled, and came across to stand in front of me, hands on hips. A challenging posture. "I was reading too."
"Oh?" I stood up slowly, unsure of where this was going.
"It was one of my romance stories. I was reading about the hero... and I felt unsatisfied. He just couldn't measure up... to..." her face seemed drift towards me, though I could sworn she never moved. "...you..."
I'd never kissed her before. For that matter, I'd never kissed the other Zelda, either. They'd guarded each other jealously. Before that, Zelda'd kept me at arms distance.
Even in my dreams, I'd never thought it would be this good!
I thought about how wonderful it was, how good she felt in my arms, wrapped around her now, the feeling of her arms draped around my neck. I thought of how long I'd waited for this. How long she'd denied me this.
Then I flung her away.
Zelda landed on my bed, giving a startled shriek as she landed. Any thoughts that I might have tossed her there as a prelude to something more mutually satisfying were erased when she saw the look on my face, twisted by rage and pain. "Link...?" she gasped.
"How DARE you!" I snarled. "After all this, you think you can just play your trump card, and I'll fall into your arms?" I pivoted on my heels, and slammed my fist into the wall. I'd taken to wearing my old garments on a regular basis, enjoying the feel of being properly armed, and so my hand was housed in the Power Glove.
I blew a large hole out of the solid stone.
"What..." Zelda faltered before my wrath, as I turned to sear her gaze with my own tortured eyes.
"Do you know how much pain you caused me?" I spat at her. "Do you have any IDEA how much I suffered over you?"
I turned my head, as the tears began. "Do you know how often I cried myself to sleep, over the way you spurned me? I was your pet savior, good enough to run your errands or save your life... but not good enough for your love..."
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Zelda II staring at us through the new indoor window I'd created, a look of horrified fascination plastered across her delicate features. I turned my rage on her. "And YOU! Always calling me "your Hero!" All you see when you look at me is an image, what you think I SHOULD be like! Never the real person..." My eyes blurred. I couldn't breath... "You don't... don't... see... me..."
"Link..." Zelda II gasped.
"Please..." Zelda XVII implored.
"JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!" I roared at them, twisting away.
I dove out the window.
I didn't want to.
I'm so tired...
"You look like shit."
I know that voice.
I didn't even look up, as Ganon strode up to me, the Moblins parting before him like the sea before a ship's prow. His tusks gleamed brightly in the afternoon light. "Why don't you get on your feet, before my Moblins start to think you're weak," he suggested. I glared up at him.
"I don't really feel like being polite-"
"So I'd heard." Ganon chuckled. "And witnessed. That's what I'm counting on. A nice, belligerant air. Good and hostile."
His bestial face bent close to mine. "I've found there's no substitute for good old fashioned violence, for handling frustrations. And I've got a bitch in a robe who thinks she can go the distance with me, and I feel like burrowing my claws into her guts."
I looked up to meet his eyes.
"Wanna come along?"
As the Moblins and Dairya fought with the Blue Goriyas, pitting their spears and axes against the boomerangs the Goriyas wielded, Ganon and I'd led a frontal assault through Jarna's lair. The lair itself was defended by undead creatures and unthinking monsters, things that Jarna could trust implicitly. My left hand gripped my magic shield, and I heard the distant sound of Like-likes, attracted by the scent of the enchanted metal. Once, I would have pulled a magical wand. Now, such a device was superfluous. The first Like-like appeared and was burned away by a searing blast from my hand.
Ganon tested the air with his snout. "This way," he gestured with his trident. "I can smell her." He charged off.
"How do you know it's her?" I asked, keeping pace beside him.
He turned his snout to leer at me. "She was a very close advisor."
I was silent for a moment, as we raced on. "I'm not sure who was slumming-you or her," I finally retorted to his ugly face. He chuckled, and we continued on to the inner chamber.
A short time later, we'd made it.
Jarna's features and form lay hidden behind the robes that had earned the Wizzrobes their name, a staff of power in her hands. "So, my dear Dark Lord," she sneered, "you can't even fight your battles anymore, without the boy who would be king."
"Oh, I'm just here to watch," I said, stepping to one side and leaning against the wall. "I wouldn't dream of coming between you two." I turned to the Moblins who'd trailed behind us. "Witness this," I commanded them.
They nodded silently, their beady eyes wide with awe.
Ganon stepped forward, holding the trident aloft. Jarna brandished her staff, and energy cascaded forth. With a flick of his wrist, Ganon deflected it. His return volley slammed into her defences and sent her reeling. She recovered with a summoning. Keeses erupted in a cloud of smoke, only to be set upon by Ganon's own winged horrors. She followed up with a stream of fire.
I winced. The chill of the grave must be seeping into her bones. She raised up her staff in limbs trembling from the cold, only to have it knocked out of her hands, as Ganon hurled forth his trident, then stalked forward, clawed hands outstretched. I forced myself not to turn away from the look in his eyes.
Jarna cowered in terror, cringing as he advanced. "Please... my lord..."
Her robes had been flung akimbo by the battle, revealing some of her still attractive flesh. Ganon glanced down at the display.
"Ah..." he sighed. "Jarna, my darling... you look good enough to eat..."
After a moment, even I had to avert my eyes.
I heard the muffled sound of the door being opened a crack, as the Princesses looked in on me. I ignored them, lost in my drunken thoughts.
But I could still feel their anguish.
And they could feel mine.
The door closed.