CHAPTER SEVEN: ROYAL; NOBLE
It was well into the afternoon when Zelda, the Queen of Hyrule, finally sat down to lunch. For her, the last five years had been more difficult than the previous seven. Although Ganon had long ago been sealed away, and all related violence had been quelled, it had fallen upon this one woman's shoulders to rebuild her entire kingdom. The fact that she had been barely seventeen when she began her rule, and now was only in her early twenties only made the job more difficult. For seven years she had been forced to hide out, awaiting the return of the Hero of Time, and now that he had finally come and done his job it was Zelda's turn to do hers. In seven years, Ganondorf had managed to completely destroy the castle and town square, nearly eradicate the Gorons, turn the Zora kingdom into a frozen wasteland, and make basically everywhere else in Hyrule haunted with the ghosts of his victims. On top of this, Zelda had come into her kingdom during a major famine brought on mainly by the destruction, an economic depression, and extremely low morale among her citizens. In short, five years ago was not a good time to reign.
However, certain situations- the kingdom of the Zoras, for instance- managed to clear themselves up in time with little or no help from the throne of Hyrule. The biggest problem was obviously the famine, but it appeared that without Ganon and his army to destroy things, the earth managed to heal itself. Zelda silently wondered to herself exactly how much of a role the sages had played in that part of the reconstruction. As it turned out, the economic troubles were not as harsh as they had seemed- nearly all of it was centralized in Hyrule's main government. So, throughout it all, Queen Zelda had somehow managed to resurrect the dying embers of her kingdom; and in recent times Hyrule had actually flourished. Truthfully, though, she owed a lot of the credit to those who worked for her- in particular, her political advisors. Her father, the king, had under his command a retinue of thirty-five political advisors, but seeing as how nearly everybody in the palace had been killed by Ganon, Zelda had only three. Among them, only one was a veteran of her father, and at the time he was the youngest and least experienced. Although he was only in his mid thirties, Amadeus de Castillo was invaluable. His entire life- his entire being was noble, honourable; completely dedicated to restoring the world after Ganon's reign. Amadeus had always been considered a prodigy, and in truth, he was advanced far beyond his years in most every subject. In short, he was Queen Zelda's right arm.
The queen spent her lunch in relative silence, eating alone. Of all of the memories associated with Ganon and that stretch of seven years, the most painful, the closest to her heart was when she sent Link back to his home time, seven years before any of this took place. In doing that, Zelda had literally erased the boy's existence from her world, although she created a new timeline where Ganon had never existed... But Link was gone.
Somehow, eating alone did not seem so strange. All royalty must eventually marry, or at least find some suitable heir to the throne, and the gods knew that Zelda had her pick of suitors. But, however... none of them could replace Link, the Hero of Time. Zelda's guess was that she would have to eventually appoint someone as heir instead of actually producing one.
"So, my Queen, would you mind if I sat with you today?"
Zelda started, and looked up. It was Amadeus.
"No.. No, I don't mind at all, Amadeus."
He nodded, and sat down across from her. The two of them ate in silence for a few minutes.
"Still pining, Zelda?" He asked, the first to actually speak.
She looked up at him, and nodded lightly. "You are very lucky to have Miyu," the queen finally said.
Amadeus nodded back to her. "Yes, thank you... Link was an incredible man, wasn't he?"
"He was still a boy."
"But he could also handle the Triforce of Courage."
Zelda sighed, and looked at the Triforce of Wisdom in the back of her hand. Its three-triangle symbol remained there as a testimony to the part of the sacred triangle that she possessed.
"I suppose. As I said, you are truly lucky to have Miyu."
Amadeus nodded again. "She is a remarkable woman."
"Yes, she is. Tell me... How is she doing?"
"Fine, as far as I know."
"As far as you know?" Zelda asked, curious.
"Well," Amadeus began, "It's not exactly easy for us to hide anything from each other... but still, to the best of my knowledge, she is perfectly fine."
"You two have been together for a long time now," Zelda said.
"Since before Ganon," Amadeus replied.
"Appearances have kept you from marrying, since she works for you," Zelda commented, "Is that not right?"
Amadeus nodded. "Yes, my Queen."
"How things appear is entirely in the eye of the beholder," Zelda replied, finishing her meal. She stood up. "I would appreciate your help on some rather pressing matters concerning reconstruction," she said. "Join me in the throne room when you are done."
Amadeus spent some time in thought while he finished his meal. The queen had been acting a little... differently lately. She talked about Miyu a lot, and kept alluding to a marriage between Amadeus and his assistant. Marriage was something that he thought about a lot. Frankly, he would have married the girl a long while ago, but several people would have some problems with him if he did. Amadeus decided that he could interpret the queen's words in one of two ways:
"I'm falling for you, Amadeus. Ditch the other girl."
"Marry her, you twit."
Amadeus hoped it was the latter- The though of another woman falling for him wasn’t exactly the best thing in the world. The gods knew that he was getting offers from everywhere already. Apparently, there's something wrong with the female psyche that prohibits them from recognizing when you are already taken.
He shook his head. Zelda wasn't likely to be attracted to anybody, anyway. And even if she were, she pines so much for Link that she'd just stifle it in a torrent of Zelda-logic.
"Why does life have to be so complicated?" He asked himself as he kept eating.
Of course, considering how complicated Amadeus' life really was, he had every excuse to make statements like that periodically.
"You called, My Queen?" Amadeus bowed low, putting his right hand over his heart.
Zelda nodded and brought out a small notebook. "Yes... the first order of business today is concerning the Gorons. It seems that they are having trouble with the "King of Wind," whoever that may be. Apparently he is keeping their king from actually entering his throne room and performing any of the royal functions, while this "Wind King" is eating all of their rocks. What do you suggest we do about it?"
Amadeus folded his arms. "Well, first off, the Goron kingdom is really out of our jurisdiction, but since they asked for help, that's a totally different matter. You could send a detachment of our royal army- but that would seem to much like hostile action against our rock-eating neighbours."
The queen nodded. Amadeus went on.
"However, we could also send some Sheikah over there to handle it. From what I've seen and heard- and no doubt what you've seen, My Lady- they handle things like this on a regular basis. Am I right?"
The queen nodded again. "You are missing one point, Amadeus," She replied. "I cannot order the Sheikah around. I can only suggest missions or quests for them."
"Right. Exactly the point that I was going to bring up," Amadeus stated. "if they decline- which would be a complete surprise- then we would be perfectly within our right to send some soldiers over, or even hire one of those adventurer heroes that we're always hearing about. Either way, we extinguish the threat with minimal casualties, and we strengthen our relationship with the Gorons. How does that sound?"
The queen smiled. "That sounds more than reasonable. I will send someone to contact the sheikah later this evening. Now," she said, turning a page in the book, "As for some of the other matters, the reconstruction of the former castle grounds has come to a complete stop. Apparently the workers can't figure out what to do with that lava pit that Ganon made."
Amadeus thought for a moment. "How deep is the lava pit?" he asked.
"We can't exactly send someone in to check."
Amadeus nodded. "But you do know the limits of Ganon's destructive magic. About how deep would you estimate it is?"
Zelda thought for a moment. "Knowing Ganon, it wouldn't be too deep. I would estimate about forty feet or so before hit cools down."
Amadeus nodded. "If it's that shallow, then it can be cooled down. About how thawed is the Zora Kingdom, My Lady?"
"About two-thirds of the way."
"And is the Ice Cave still there?"
Zelda blinked. "What? You're suggesting that we ship ice down? Amadeus, if we could even transport the ice before it melted, it wouldn't be enough to cool down the lava."
"That's not what I'm suggesting," He said. "The Ice Cave has blue fire in it- cold fire. My suggestion is that we transport as much blue fire as we possibly can, and use it as a coolant on the lava. After the fire has done all that it can, then we should start trying to fill in the hole with rubble from the area and from several of our quarries. It's not that difficult."
Zelda blinked. "That's a perfect idea."
"No, it isn't. There are probably better ideas out there- you just probably don't have the time to find them. That was your father's most common excuse for accepting our advice in the past."
Zelda smiled. "My father was like that."
"Yes, he was. He tried his best to make everyone else look like a bunch of fools, all the while complimenting them to death. It did wonders for one's self image."
They both laughed for a little while. The rest of the day's business went smoothly. It was nothing out of the ordinary.
It was late in the evening when Amadeus finally got back home. his back ached. he didn't know why it did, but backs were tricky things. You could spend all day getting hit in the back with a giant slab of wood, and your back would be just fine the next day, however if your job consisted of telling the queen how to run her job then your back would be singing you love songs all evening. It made no sense at all.
"Good evening, Miyu," he groaned, settling down into his chair. "How was your day?"
"No different than yesterday," she replied, gliding up behind him. "I filed several forms in the morning, fed Galyer, and then spent a while in absolute boredom. You're home late. How was your day?"
"I spent the morning going through red tape, had an odd conversation with the queen during lunch, and spent the rest of the day telling her how to run the kingdom. She kept me late because her other advisors were all on vacation."
"So... any new and exciting breakthroughs about the kingdom?"
"Blue ice and Sheikah warriors are the wave of the future."
Miyu laughed softly. "Are you sure about that?"
"Why not?" he asked. "According to the queen, I know everything."
She leaned over his shoulder. "And according to me, you can do everything."
"I don't have the Triforce yet," He answered. "And please, please spare the compliments, Miyu. I've been force-fed them all day long."
"You want me to criticize you?" she replied back.
"Not quite. I just have the general feeling of ‘ugh’ today."
"You too?" She asked him. "My back's been acting up today. Why, I don't know."
Amadeus chuckled to himself. "You too? It must be sympathy pains, then. I feel like I've been folded in half a few times."
"Want a massage?" She asked him.
"Wouldn't you need it more than I would?"
"I don't think it matters one way or the other," she replied.
Rei's back felt like crap. His day had begun quite simply- Damodred had allowed him to choose the sword that he was going to train with. He had picked a sword similar to Talien's- it looked easy to use, and he liked that style. The rest of the day was spent in actual training, not just a one-way pummeling. Rei still got trashed, though. On the upside, he had learned more about the nature of the blade than he could possibly remember. His learning included more than a small amount that was about Damodred's twin katanas, and how difficult it was to control them at once but also how effective they could be, but he did learn enough about his own weapon that he was beginning to believe that he could hold his own in a fight. Actually, Rei still believed that he'd lose miserably. However, his thoughts were that he'd lose miserably AFTER performing one or two techniques that he actually knew. And hey- that was a good start. One thing that he was glad about, though, was that the next day would be spent with Talien, learning non-sword-related skills. That should be a lot easier.
Talien glanced over to Damodred. "Do you think he's asleep by now?" he asked.
"Probably," She replied. "It is three in the morning, after all. The perfect time of day to be standing outside, conversing. Isn't it?"
Talien shrugged. "It's good enough. I like the stars, anyway."
"I don't care one way or the other."
"So... Damodred," Talien began. "What do you think of Rei so far? You've spent a lot more time around him lately than I have."
She turned her head and looked at him. "He's an insufferable twit," She said. "Why the hell did you ask him to join, Talien? He has potential, I'll admit it. But he'll never show any of it, the poor fool."
"Don't you think that might be a little too harsh?" he asked.
"Don't you think that you're a little too nice?" she asked back.
Neither one spoke for a few seconds.
"Give him time, Damodred. You'll see what I mean."
"He handles the sword like a three-year-old."
"He's probably never used one before in his entire life."
"That's no excuse- he doesn't even have the pretense of grace that most beginners have. He's worthless so far. However," she added, raising a finger, "Beating him up is a good stress reliever at times."
"Then I guess this means that you're not just being the perennial 'hard Taskmaster,' eh?"
"Did anyone ever tell you that your laugh could stop a man's heart with fear?"
"Of course. I'm thinking about telling a really funny joke around Rei tomorrow. Do you want to be there for it?"
Now it was Talien's turn to laugh. "You're too much, Damodred."
"By whose standard?" she replied back.
Talien yawned. "Go play with your knives or something," he said, "I'm going to bed. It's late."
"Good night, Talien. Get some sleep. The boy's going to wear you out tomorrow."
"Stop calling him that," Talien replied, starting to walk away. "He became an adult before he came here."
"Then he should act like one," She said as her former teacher left.