"So, Talien, I assume that you're going to take Zelda up on her offer?" Amadeus asked as they were leaving the throne room.


            "The offer for you three to stay the night if you want," He answered. "It's your choice."

            Talien thought for a second, and then answered. "Possibly... I'd rather we get this over with as soon as possible."

            "However, it is getting late, after all." Amadeus added, "And it's not that short a ride from here to Death Mountain."

            Talien considered for a moment before turning to Damodred and Rei. "Your opinions?"

            Damodred shrugged. "Whatever," she said, "I don't care."

            "And you, Rei?" Talien asked him.

            "Well... I think he's right- it is getting late. And it's how many hours from here to the mountain?"

            Talien nodded. "Too many. It'd be the middle of the night by the time that we got there." Turning to Amadeus, he added, "I think we'll take you up on that offer."

            Amadeus nodded, and shot him a smile. "I don't think you'll be disappointed with our accommodations," he commented. "And besides," he added, "People always fight better when they're fully rested."

            "Good point," Talien replied, "Good point."




            Surprisingly, Damodred was the first to turn in- she was barely shown her room by the time that she was out. Talien took his leave of Rei very early, and went off to discuss things with Amadeus for a while. This left Rei completely alone. Having nothing to do and nobody to talk to (And to add to that, he was afraid of breaking something and getting himself in deep doo-doo, so to speak), so he went to his room with the initial intention of going to bed.

            As with all of the great plans of Mice and Men, Rei's attempt at getting a full night's rest failed miserably. For the first hour or so, he was genuinely trying to sleep, but after a while it became apparent that it was a failed endeavour. He felt tired- more than tired, he felt like a zombie- but somehow he just couldn't doze off. Even though it was too dark to see what time the clock said on the wall, Rei had a perfect idea of what time it was. Such knowledge comes only when experiencing severe insomnia. Rei knew when midnight turned to one o'clock, and when that became two, instead. For a little while he was sure that it had to do with the upcoming job- fighting off the self-proclaimed King of the Wind- but it didn't take long for that thought to be permanently banished. The fact was, he couldn't sleep. There were no ifs, ands, ors, or buts about it. However, Rei was not about to give up.

            The first thing that he tried was blankly staring at the ceiling. It failed. His next idea involved shifting around on the bed until he was lying perpendicular to it. That one was even worse. On his third attempt to sleep, Rei Elanis took the pillow and crammed it on his head, hoping that the lack of oxygen would make him pass out. Although he succeeded in seeing blue elephants and realizing that the one true meaning of life was the number 42, Rei was still perfectly wide awake. Finally, seeing no other recourse left to him, Rei decided to get up and walk around the halls of the palace for a little while in the hopes that he'd eventually be ready to go to bed for real.

            And so, Rei got up. Realizing that it was probably at about three in the morning, he made a silent, careful vow to remain completely silent as he went around. He also made another vow not to wander off anywhere and cause anything that he couldn't easily fix.

            The problem with large wooden doors is that in the later hours of the night, they gain a life of their own. When opened slowly, wooden doors moan like the living dead, and when opened quickly they shriek like wild banshees. There is absolutely no way to win when trying to move from room to room at three in the morning.

            With this knowledge in hand, Rei carefully gripped the doorknob and turned it. So far, so good. He began carefully edging the door open at an impossibly slow rate, hoping and praying that it would keep silent and not betray his presence.

            It went about two inches before it started creaking. Loudly.

            "Dang!' Rei whispered as softly as he could before he stopped moving the door, and waited a few seconds, breathless, before trying to open it again. The loud creaking resumed. Rei Immediately stopped dead in his tracks. He thought for a second. To keep opening this door slowly was to keep testing the waters of fate. To simply hurl it open with wild abandon was to jump headlong into the water and bash your head on a log. It seemed that he had no options left. But then...was the doorway open enough for him to slide through it, without having to open it any further? It was worth a shot...

            Inching onto the tips of his toes and drawing in all of his breath, Rei attempted to slip through the narrow opening in the doorway. He made it about halfway before his stomach caught the doorknob, his feet hit the doorjamb, and Rei went tumbling down in a loud, crashing mess, with the door swinging and shrieking as loudly as ten wild banshees behind him.

            Surprisingly, it didn't wake anybody up. Rei slowly and quietly picked himself up from the floor, and then carefully closed the door again. This time, it didn't make a single sound.

            "There. I win," he whispered to himself in a surprisingly Damodred-esque manner. Rei turned around, glanced back and forth at the darkened hallways, and started walking aimlessly.

            During the daytime, the extra-wide halls of Hyrule's royal palace were bustling with activity, whether from residents, servants, or visitors. During the middle of the night, not a single sound could be heard. All was silent, all was dark. All was calm, all was peaceful. Passing by some of the rooms, Rei could hear either a faint breathing or a snoring sound from inside.

            Guests of the Royal Palace, he thought to himself, Ambassadors, politicians, soldiers... all sleeping peacefully.

            It occurred to him that in sleep all men were equal, regardless of stage or rank. Rei stopped moving and blinked. That realization was roughly three and a half levels deeper than his usual train of thought. He wondered about it for a moment, and then went on. Still, he was awed by where he was at the moment. Even though the original Hyrule Palace had been destroyed by Ganon some years earlier, he was standing and walking around in a piece of history. This stone building was where the royal family lived, and where they also made the most important decisions in the entire kingdom. It was in these halls that matters of life and death; prosperity and poverty; war and peace; happiness and misery; decisions of all importance were made. However, at the same time, the most insignificant things happened here. His visit, along with that of his comrades, merely served only as a kindness done to temporarily hired help. His passing through the palace meant nothing in the long run- and that was how Rei preferred it.

            And so, he walked back and forth throughout the most immediate hallways, making sure that he didn't disturb anything or get lost. The only problem about it was that he still wasn't feeling any more tired than before. It was at about his third walk up the hallways that a semi-familiar voice spoke to him from behind.

            "I see that I'm not the only one having trouble sleeping tonight."

            Rei started and turned around quickly, his heart in his throat. He blinked a couple of times, totally confused. Of all the people to run into at three in the morning...

            "My Queen," Rei said, kneeling quickly, "I salute you."

            "There's no need for that," She said, waving a dismissive hand, "It's too late at night for formalities right now."

            Rei carefully drew himself back up. "I couldn't sleep, My Queen, so I decided to walk around for a little bit to see if that would help at all." he said nervously.

            "That's funny," Zelda replied, "The same thing happened to me. My old nurse-maid, Impa, always told me that little gnomes are what kept people from sleeping most nights," she said in a reflective voice, "I guess they're out in full force tonight."

            Rei suddenly realized that the Queen was being completely casual around him, and he wondered about it for a second.

            "You don't have to be so nervous," She commented, "I'm not going to chop off your head, or anything."

            Rei visibly relaxed, and although he still felt somewhat nervous at talking face-to-face with the queen of Hyrule, he decided that if she told him to relax, it was in his best interests.

            "Yeah, I guess the gnomes are, aren't they?"

            She smiled at him and shook her head. "Come on, I'll make you some herbal tea. It'll help you sleep better, and it'll be refreshing to have someone to talk to for once." She gestured to him, and started to walk down the hallway a bit. Rei shrugged and followed her. They walked silently through the halls and passageways of the palace, and it was about halfway through when Rei realized the impact of his current situation. Here he was, the same old Rei Elanis, now about to hold full conversations with the Queen of Hyrule. He felt awed.

            Finally, they reached one of the smaller dining alcoves, and Zelda set down the candelabra that she had been using to light her way.

            "Just wait here," She said, "I will be back shortly." Rei nodded and took a seat, and thought about things some more. He already felt completely relaxed by the time that Zelda returned, bearing two cups full of tea.

            "I was already on my way here to make some," She commented, setting one of the cups beside him, "This tea soothes the mind and allows sleep to come much more quickly." Sitting down across from him, the Queen smiled slightly.

            "So, Amadeus said that he'd met you before, only not as a member of the Sheikah?" She asked him.

            Rei nodded. "Yeah- he visited my hometown about a week before I joined."

            "And why did you join them?" She asked, sounding genuinely interested. Rei went on talking.

            "A group of Stalfos attacked my village, and I was lost in the chaos. Talien and Damodred- the two Sheikah who came in with me- found me, and offered to let me join."

            "Then you're from Napouro?"

            Rei nodded. "Yeah, Napouro. Do you know if it's been rebuilt yet?"

            Zelda shrugged- she even shrugged gracefully. "I'm honestly not sure. I can check, though, if you want."

            Rei shook his head. "No, don't worry about it. It would be too much trouble."

            "As you wish," She said, and sipped her tea. "Tell me- Rei, is it? Tell me, Rei, do you miss your home and family at all?"

            Rei blinked. The question caught him somewhat off guard. "Well..." he started, as he began to formulate his next sentence, "Sometimes I do miss Napouro, but I never really had any family."

            "I envy you," She said quietly. Rei was now taken completely off guard.

            "What?" he asked.

            "For most of your life, you have had the privilege of living a quiet, normal life. You have no idea what a treasure that is, Rei."

            "It is?"

            She nodded. "More than you'd think. My life here has its good points, but... there's a complete lack of... of humanity, if you know what I'm saying."

            Rei nodded. She went on.

            "I have no real privacy, I never have. Everything that I say or do carries with it the burden of an entire kingdom's fate. I never really knew my father, or my mother. Impa was really the only family that I ever had, and Link was my only true friend. Now... I'm simply a figurehead. I simply exist to represent the kingdom. Amadeus is good company most of the time, but he's very business-minded, and I can't exactly talk to him much of the time." She smiled at him. "That is why I envy you, Rei. You're free."


            Rei smiled at her. "I'm not as free as you think. Nobody is. When you're just a simple commoner, you feel powerless. Completely powerless. It's like nothing that you do ever matters."

            "You're a member of the Sheikah," Zelda corrected him, "Everything that you do matters."

            "But still... it's that feeling of abject helplessness... that there's nothing that we can do to change the future."

            "That's where you're wrong," she intoned softly, "It's the people who change things; who make history. Monarchs like me come and go; but the people remain. If I didn't have the general population behind me, nothing that I ever said or did would matter. Instead, I have their approval, and because of that I have a larger influence."

            Rei nodded, taking everything in. "You make good tea," he commented, taking another sip from his cup. She smiled at him.

            "Thank you," Zelda said. He smiled back at her, and a thought suddenly occurred to him. Queen Zelda was a normal person, just a Hylian who was two years older than him at the most. She was a vision of grace and beauty, but she was still just as fallible as everyone else. Regardless of her office, she was just as human as he. For once, Rei felt significant. They talked like old friends for nearly half an hour, before they both felt tired and adjourned to their individual rooms. This time, Rei slept soundly.




            Rei woke up to the sound of someone knocking on the door to his room. He groaned and shoved the pillow over his head, having temporarily forgotten where he was and why he was there. He did not want to think at all. After the second knock, Rei realized that he was in Hyrule castle on a mission, and that getting up just might be the best thing to do under the current circumstances.

            "Come in!" he thought he shouted (mumbled just loudly enough to be heard outside), and the door slowly opened. Miyu, of all people, walked in. She started speaking in an uninterested, professional manner before Rei could say anything.

            "Good morning, Rei. Your two companions are already up and eating breakfast, and one of them asked me to check and see if you were up yet. You might want to hurry if you plan on eating anything this morning. The shower is in room on the left, and there should be towels around here for you. After you are done, talk to me. I will be outside waiting."

            She then left the room. Rei blinked a few times, trying to absorb at least a third of what she said. All that he got out of it was: "Morning… Breakfast... Shower... Waiting outside."

            And so, Rei began his day by trying to figure out how the plumbing in the castle worked. He had only just gotten used to showers as opposed to baths recently, and he was still having trouble with the dials. However, he was starting to get the hang of it, and it only took him five minutes this time to stop the water from burning his skin off.

            After showering and getting dressed, Rei left his room and realized that he had forgotten entirely that Miyu was planning to meet him there. She, on the other hand, had remembered, and was patiently standing in the hallway. Now that he was in his full mental capacity, Rei once again felt intimidated by her beauty and regal bearing.

            "There you are," She said, giving him a warm, friendly grin. Rei tried to return it, but feared that he simply looked like a nervous idiot.

            "Since you're obviously the last of your friends to get up," she said, starting to walk down the hallway and motioning for him to follow, "I have been instructed to make sure that you're completely cared for, and properly equipped."

            "Huh?" he asked.

            "I need to make sure that you have everything you need before you rejoin the others," she explained. "Firstly... do you have a weapon?"

            "Yeah," Rei said, patting the sword girded at his hip.

            "Oh?" Miyu asked, before she reached down and took his sword out of the scabbard, inspecting it.

            "I see," she commented, looking it over, "A basket-hilted rapier. Very nice make... it resembles the one that your older friend has, and it's actually a little similar to Ama's sword. Quite good." She put it back in its sheath, leaving Rei completely startled. "And do you need any armour?"

            Rei shook his head. "I haven't been trained in wearing it yet," he said, "It would just get in my way. And... Who's Ama?"

            She nodded. "I see. Ama... That would be Amadeus. I usually shorten his name when I talk to or about him."

            Rei nodded. "You work for him, right?"

            "I'm his personal assistant," She said as they walked on. "I do basically everything that he doesn't have time for himself."

            "Ah, I see."

            "You're going to like working with Talien," She commented as they walked on, "We've dealt with him before."

            Rei nodded again. "And Damodred?"

            Miyu smirked. "Let's just say that you'll never have an excuse to be bored again."

            Rei shrugged. "That's just about what Talien told me," He said. Miyu laughed softly. Rei once again felt intimidated in her presence. She held herself like a queen, regardless of her actual place in the kingdom. And, even though she obviously wasn't getting any younger, Miyu's natural beauty alone was enough to make Rei feel rather nervous around her. She was definitely more personable than she looked, but Rei still felt intimidated by her presence. Maybe part of it had to do with the fact that she was about six inches taller than he was.



            The thing that amazed Rei beyond all means was that he made it to breakfast before either Talien or Damodred were finished with theirs. He sat down next to Damodred and across from Talien.

            "Good morning," Talien greeted him.

            "Morning," Damodred added.

            Rei nodded and greeted them both in the same way. "Hey- you'll never believe what happened to me last night," he started.

            "We heard already," Damodred commented, and kept on eating her breakfast. Talien grinned at Rei and shook his head.

            "Rei, Rei," He said, chuckling, "Whatever are we going to do with you? Rubbing shoulders with queens... Giving the Royal vizier a tour of your hometown... The next thing we know, you'll be playing a good game of cards with Farore!"

            The three of them shared a good laugh before finishing breakfast and heading on their way toward Death Mountain.




            "So, Talien... why is it called Death Mountain, if everything's peaceful around it?" Rei asked while on the way there.

            "It used to be an active volcano before the Gorons moved in," Talien explained, "The crater still has lava in it, and during Ganon's reign it still erupted from time to time- it also caused a few landslides shortly before he came into power, as well. The mountain used to be completely unsafe to travel around, which is how it got its name."

            "I see... any reason why it's still called that?"

            He shrugged. "I have no idea whatsoever."

            "Morons draw all the maps," was Damodred's comment on the situation.

            "Just be glad that the Gorons don't have the option of renaming it," Talien commented, "They'd probably call it "Boom plant mountain" because of the bomb flowers that grow there."

            "No, that's too obvious," Damodred commented, "Big Hug' Mountain is more like them."

            "Big Hug' mountain?" Rei asked. Both of them looked over at him.

            "Goron issues," they stated in unison. Rei decided not to pursue the matter any further.

            There was silence for a few minutes.

            Traveling through Kakariko village was quite refreshing. The town had been completely rebuilt and cleansed in the five years since Ganonondorf let a horde of demons loose from its well, and the Skulltula family had been freed from their curse, as well. Currently, the town was a bustling hubbub of activity. And at the north end of that town was the start of the Death mountain trail. In front of the trail was a gate with a customs officer standing guard.

            "Wait here for a sec," Damodred told both of them, "I'll get the customs guy to clear us." She rode over to the gate and began talking to the officer.

            Talien looked over at Rei and asked, "May I inquire what the name was of the demon who possessed you and made you ask Damodred to train you?"

            "Phunbaba the Wretched," Rei answered, not skipping a beat. "Actually..." he answered seriously, "I really don't know why I did it."

            Talien shook his head. "Well, your skill will improve at an incredible rate. But still..."

            "I don't know," Rei interrupted, "Something about it just seemed right at the time, as though it was choosing her or choosing nobody. I just don't know!" he snapped.

            "Rei... calm down. Don't worry about it. You can stop training with her at any time if you want."

            "I don't think that I will," was Rei's response.

            Talien nodded. "You can train with me as well," he offered, "Split it up- Damodred gets the weapon training, but I'm a better teacher at everything else. How does that sound?"

            Rei smiled at him. "I think it sounds good. Just like the last two weeks, eh?"

            "Just like the last two weeks," Talien commented as he noticed the guard waving them on. They spurred their horses and caught up with Damodred part of the way down the trail.




            The king of the Gorons was named Link. =He was named after the Hero of the Gorons, who had slain the mighty Dodongo King seven years before he vanquished Volvagia the dragon and freed Hyrule from Ganondorf's grasp. Darunia, the Goron king at the time, had decided that Link was a good name for his son. Link was born and named several years before Ganon actually took over, and Darunia had become a sage after Ganondorf was defeated. And so, the Gorons had a twelve-year-old king. One thing that must be noted about Gorons, however, is that they grow up fast. They remain children for roughly eight years, and then they undergo a growth spurt that finished the maturing process in six months. After that, they just grow slowly through the years, until they reach their maximum height.

            And so, at age twelve, Link was a very good king, for a Goron. He tried to be just and fair, and there were plenty of rocks and Goron-Hugs for everybody. Things were good. That is, things were good until that mean, bad Wind-person took over King Link's throne room and kept his people from enjoying their nice yummy crunchy rocks! Hylians will help! Hylians are nice people, very nice. Hero Link was a Hylian. Maybe the Queen will find a way to help the Gorons get back their throne room and their nice yummy crunchy rocks!

            And such was the basic train of thought for Link, King of the Gorons.




            Talien, Damodred, and Rei stood on the floor in the lower level of Goron City. In front of them was an extremely large stone door- the doorway to the throne room.

            "Well, this is it," Rei asked, "Does one of us go in first, or do we all just sort of rush in there with our weapons drawn?"

            "Neither," Talien answered.


            Talien nodded. "Neither."

            "Then... what do we do?"

            Talien pointed at Rei. "I know a lot about the 'King of the Wind.' He's weak enough that I think he'd be a perfect first test for you."

            "What?" Rei shouted, astonished.

            "I completely agree," Damodred commented, sending Rei a sly grin. "Rei, I think that you can win this fight with absolutely no trouble at all."

            "But... but... guys...?" Rei stammered, his heart somewhere near the top of his throat. Damodred sighed and put a hand on each of his shoulders. She looked him in the eyes.

            "It's very simple, really." she said in a clear, calm voice. "All of life is divided into three parts; a virtual trinity, if you will. It consists of Good, Neutral, and Evil. Light, Shade, and Dark. Black, Grey, and White. Or, better yet, Good, Bad, and Ugly. If you go in there, it might be a little bad, but it will probably be good. If you stay out here, it will be very Bad, because I will suddenly become very ugly." She grinned at him again. "Got it?"

            Rei nodded.

            "Good," Damodred said, and took her hands off his shoulders. "Now it's time for you to go in there and kick the Wind King's ass."

            Rei nodded again. He drew his sword, and walked up to the huge stone doorway. After he pressed the switch that Link had told him to hit, the door began to slowly open. Rei entered into the Throne Room, and into his first real test.

            For the first time in his training, life and death were at stake. Rei prayed to the three goddesses that he'd make it out alive.