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CHAPTER FIFTEEN: THE THIRD SHARD

 

 

 

 

 

            "You know, it's interesting," Amadeus said as he applied the bandages to his right shoulder, "You'd think that since Impa's become the Sage of Shadow, she'd find a way to keep those monsters out of everybody's graves." He finished putting the light bandage on, and moved his shoulder around a bit. The dead Hand had tore into his shoulder when he wrenched one arm free to cast that spell at it. It was probably going to bother him for the next week, at the very least.

            "The Sages tend to their own business," Miyu intoned, double-checking Amadeus' bandage job, and finding it wanting. "And who are we to argue?" She shook her head, and removed Ama's bandage in a single quick motion. He flinched slightly at the obvious pain.

            "Sorry," she said, smiling.

            Amadeus shook his head as Miyu re-applied the bandage, this time making sure that it was done correctly.

            "Where would you be without me to mother you all the time, Ama?" She commented shaking her head.

            "Probably out withering in the desert somewhere," he answered, flexing his left arm a bit, "Dying of a lethal infection caused by a poorly applied band-aid, no doubt."

            "And that's why you need me." She smiled at him again. He returned the gesture.

            Miyu glanced over at the new Heartstone shard that they had found. It was small, making up barely one-sixth of the circle that it would be when completed. The first piece, the one found in Rei's hometown, made up half of the original stone.

            "It's small," She said, stating the obvious.

            "I know," he replied. "But it's important. We got lucky with the first piece... I was kind of hoping that we'd get lucky with the second, too. Now," He began, standing up, "We just need to find a third somewhere."

            "We have," Came Miyu's voice from behind him. Amadeus blinked a few times. He blinked again.

            "We what?"

            "We've found another piece," She answered, walking up beside him. "I came to tell you that, when I found you arguing with Mendelssohn again. It was pretty obvious that it could wait until you were through."

            Amadeus shook his head, laughing softly to himself. "You crack me up sometimes," he said, faint hints of laughter in his voice. "Where is it?"

            "It's in Kasuto, of all places. Apparently, a rich man's going to try to auction it off next week, and he's hoping for antique merchants to bid on it."

            Amadeus nodded. "Isn't that your hometown?"

            "Yes, it is," she answered.

            "Well then," he said, turning around. "In light of my... er... 'debilitating' injury, don't you think it'll be wise for you to go and bid in my stead?"

            Miyu blinked, startled. "What?"

            "Tell me, Miyu," Amadeus began, "Was your family rich, or poor?"

            "Poor," she replied.

            "Were they respected?"

            "No."

            "And how were you treated?"

            "Like garbage."

            In one swift motion, Amadeus moved over to her, holding the woman in his arms. "Then wouldn't they be surprised to find you coming in wearing the Royal Insignia, and bidding exorbitant amounts for a black piece of rock?"

            It took a few seconds for the thought to sink into Miyu's brain. She started laughing. Not a harsh, cruel laugh, but a soft, sweet laugh of amusement.

            "That would be absurd!" she said, leaning her head on Ama's shoulder. "No one would believe that idea! What would they all think?"

            "They'd think that you've gained some respect," he said into her ear, "Which you have," he added in a soft voice, "My love."

            "You're too smart for your own good, Ama," she said, kissing him lightly on the cheek.

            "And to think that it's Zelda who has the Triforce of Wisdom, too," he replied, the pain in his shoulder slowly growing absent.

 

***

 

            "Are you sure you're going to be all right while I'm gone?" Miyu asked her lover from atop her horse.

            "I dunno," Ama responded, his hands behind his back. "You know how Zelda's such a wild party animal, and all."

            She shook her head and chuckled.

            "Or you just might come home to find me dead of a shoulder-infection!" he added.

            "If you die while I'm gone, I'll kill you," she replied, still laughing. "how does that sound?"

            "As generous an offer as ever, My Lady," He said, taking a deep, sweeping bow in front of her.

            "Save it for when I get back," she replied. "And don't forget to feed Galyer!'

            "How could I not?" he answered, still putting on that innocent look. "The only tame Wolfos this side of the Gerudo desert knows how to get fed when he wants."

            "Then you haven't forgotten the time that he peed on your chair."

            "Don't remind me," he muttered.

            Miyu smiled again, and gave a short laugh. "I'll be back soon!" she said as she spurred her horse, and began the trip back to her hometown.

            Amadeus laughed one more time before he turned around and headed back into his home. Galyer pounced on him immediately like the lap-dog that had outgrown its master.

            Amadeus' shoulder wasn't going to be healing anytime soon.

 

***

 

            In times past, Kasuto was a Hidden City, concealed behind a mountain pass. And then Zolf the Elder Magician accidentally blew up the mountains while trying to perfect a new recipe for chocolate cheesecake. His comments on the incident were very short, sweet, and straight to the point.

            "Oops."

            In the centuries since then, Kasuto had become a thriving center of trade, as the easternmost port town in Hyrule Kingdom. It was the main port of trade for silks, spices, and almost everything else from the fabulous eastern kingdoms. For this reason, most of the population of Kasuto was made up of merchants, and traders. Other professions were looked down on as inferior, and especially such a lowly job as city manure-shoveller most definitely was not held in high esteem. It was into this family that Miyu Brahms was born.

            The Brahms family never was rich. Dagron Brahms, a poor, humble man, married Yulia Saisei at a young age, and between the two of them they were able to eek out a living. He worked at "Cleaning the streets," while his wife worked as a small-time tailor. Together they raised a quiet girl named Miyu, trying their best to give her whatever they had in life. Their family's social standing dashed most of their attempts at succeeding to the ground, but they survived regardless. Miyu's experience growing up was not a pleasant one, and it reflected itself in her quiet, withdrawn personality. She seemed cold and distant, but it was actually just basic shyness around others. Amadeus had come in like a hero, and moved the small family over to Hyrule's Capitol, taking good care of the aging couple, as well as hiring their daughter as his personal assistant. In many ways, it was like a fairy tale. Romance at Short Notice was the Vizier's specialty.

            And now, after over ten years absence, Miyu Brahms returned to the town of her birth, the thriving city of trade known as Kasuto. She was still young, technically- only in the middle of her thirties- but still she felt somewhat old. Everyone her age was probably long since married by this time, with a gaggle of little kids to keep them company. She was still waiting for Amadeus to just give up, marry her, and throw all of the ceremonies and customs aside, and the only "little feet" in their home was a rather large wolf that liked to pee on its master's chair. In that way, Miyu's fairy-tale life hadn't yet  had its happy ending.

            But now, she was here on business.

           

            The air was refreshing, invigorating. The Zoruda sea added a certain kind of energy to the air. Merchants, travelers, tourists, and residents hurried on with their lives, busily running back and forth on this errand or that mission, hardly taking in anything around them. Miyu, on the other hand, rode her horse very slowly and deliberately through the city, taking it all in. One of the strange eastern ships was at the port right now, its masts like cardboard spider webs; the foreign sailors hurriedly unloading their precious cargo, chattering to each other in a strange tongue. A gull cried overhead.

            She breathed in, smelling the sea salt in the air- Zoruda was inland, but still salt water- and let herself relax for a bit. The first order of business was obtaining lodging for the night. The second was finding out where this auction was taking place.

            She found the answer to the second long before the first. Posters were tacked up everywhere, advertising that Hatcham Lundar, the famously rich businessman, was selling off a selection of his antiques. Each poster had a list of items written in small print on the bottom, just to entice buyers into the event.

 

The Event of a Lifetime!

Rare and Unusual Treasures Sold for the Right Price!

Never Seen Before, and Will Never be Seen Again!

 

            Miyu shook her head while looking them over.

            "Do these ads ever actually convince anybody?" she asked herself aloud.

            "They've got me interested!" came a voice from behind her. Miyu reigned her horse around. There was a man, about her age, his dark hair just beginning to grey. He had a rugged, hunter's look to him, although his clothing was very refined. The man blinked.

            "Don't I know you?" He asked, squinting a bit as if that would help anything.

            Miyu shrugged. "I used to live here about ten years ago," she said, "But you're probably thinking of someone else."

            The man scratched his chin for a second, before his face lit up in recognition. "Oh, yeah... I remember now! You're that Brahms girl, right? So, what brings you back here?"

            Miyu blinked. "Shinore Mandio?" She asked, picking a name out of thin air. She was right.

            He nodded. "I'm surprised you remembered me. How's life been treating you?"

            She shrugged again. "Can't complain. You?"

            "Farore is smiling upon me," he said, grinning. "My business has taken off like no other! I own one of the major trading companies in this port now. I actually live elsewhere, but I'm here for the auction."

            "Oh?" she asked. "Are you looking at anything in particular?"

            "Of course!" He replied, still smiling to himself. "It's that black 'Heartstone' that's in the second column, down near the bottom. I've heard it brings good luck!"

            Somewhere behind Miyu, a wheelbarrow fell over onto a crate of chickens. The ensuing chaos and disaster only slightly described her feelings about having to bid against one of the richest men in Kasuto... using Ama's money, no less.

            Finding lodging was much easier.

            "I'm sorry, ma'am," the innkeeper said through a thick, curly mustache, "But we're all booked. Unless you've got some special importance around here, I'll have to tell you to-"

            "I'm here in the name of Lord Amadeus de Castillo, Grand Vizier to Queen Zelda de Amano. I'm here on official business concerning the auction." She held out her right hand, displaying the signet ring while she spoke. The innkeeper made several sputtering sounds, and then crossed a random name off the list of reserved rooms.

            "You've got your yourself a room," he said, handing her a key. "But, may I ask, M'Lady," the innkeeper added, "Exactly what is so important in this auction that Lord Amadeus himself is sending someone?"

            "He collects antiques," She replied.

            Later that night, Miyu wondered to herself how Amadeus was doing back at the castle, and whether he had remembered to feed Galyer as per instructions.

 

***

 

            "GALYER! BAD DOG!" Amadeus shouted, chasing the animal throughout Hyrule castle. The chaos had started very shortly after Miyu had left, and so far had shown no signs of slowing down. Even Queen Zelda herself had gotten caught up in the insanity, as the Wolfos had decided to hide out on her throne for a while. Right now, Galyer was simply running amok in the palace, "accidentally" wrecking everything in sight with his large, wagging tail.

            "Bad Galyer! This is not a game!" Amadeus shouted right before he slipped on a rug, skidding into three candle stands and a wall. The Grand Vizier collapsed ina  heap of rug, tapestry, and brass. His shoulder hurt.

            "I've got him!" Zelda shouted, taking the lead now. The young queen cut Galyer off at an entranceway, hoping to stop the massive dog's progress. Moments later, she had inadvertently ended up on the animal's back as it careened through the halways like a mad ping pong ball. Servants, Attendants, and guardsmen alike were knocked down like bowling pins by the overly excited dog named Galyer. Amadeus freed himself from the rug and tapestry just in time to get beaned on the head by a flying book. he never found out how it got to be airborne, but he really didn't care all that much.

            "I'll never live to middle age," Amadeus De Castillo muttered as he got up and chased after the dog again.

            The chase was long, and for the most part futile, but it ended in a truly amusing three-way explosion inside of the magic lab that was too interesting to be written down in mere words such as these.

But nobody got seriously injured, so everything was all right.

 

***

 

            Miyu rose with the sun, and got herself ready for the auction in record time. She showered, dressed, fixed her hair, and applied a light perfume before heading out into Kasuto again. After eating a quick breakfast at the inn, courtesy of the innkeeper's rather large and sweet-natured wife, Miyu made her way to the auction itself just in time for its opening. The ran into Shinore Mandio there, as the bidding began on an "Enchanted" candelabra that supposedly would not set your house on fire. The man looked a little frazzled, as though he hadn't gotten much sleep.

            "Are you all right?" She asked him casually, settling into her seat near the front of the auction."

            "Bleh," he responded, looking over to her with bloodshot eyes. "I had a room at the local inn over there, but some bozo on 'Royal Business' took my room without even considering who the original owner was. If I ever get a hold of that guy, I'll wring his neck!" he made a few hand motions to indicate that he really didn't feel much love for the person.

            Miyu fidgeted in her seat. The room suddenly felt warmer. She choked out a quick, little response.

            "A pity," she said.

            "Well, it'll be worth it if I can get that stone," he muttered, cracking his neck. The business life hadn't changed Shinore from the over-adventurous boy of his youth.

            "What are you here for, anyway?"

            "I'm just bidding for a friend,"" she answered, giving him a friendly (Read: NERVOUS) smile.

            Shinore grinned. "A special friend?"

            Miyu's mind raced a little. If she just came out and said "Amadeus de Castillo is my boyfriend of ten years and hopeful fiance, and I'm here to buy the treasure that you're hounding after," it would likely cause a riot, considering the man's current mood.

            "No," she said, shaking her head, "Just an old acquaintance."

             Oh, gods, don't let him hit on me, She thought to herself. Shinore hit on her.

            "You're still single?" he asked. "Never would have thought that, with a face like yours. I've always said that the prettiest women come from the poorest families, after all."

            That was a sucky pickup line, Shinore silently admonished himself, and then quickly tried to think up another one. Miyu was still wearing the signet ring, which had slipped slightly so that the sign itself was not visible.

            "That's a beautiful ring you're wearing," he said, nodding his head, "Where'd it come from?"

            Miyu panicked, and with an incredibly sleight-of-hand trick the ring seemed to vanish. "What ring?" she said, lifting her hand up.

            The man blinked. "There was a ring on your finger just a short while ago. Metal. Kind of thick. Hard to miss."

            Miyu shook her head. "No... I don't see a ring here... maybe you were looking at my pen?" She said, lifting her pen up a little. The nice thing about auctions in Kasuto is that the bidding was done by holding up miniature signs, and you were allowed to talk or fidget otherwise without accidentally buying half of the kingdom. Miyu glanced back over her shoulder to the auctioneer.

            "Oh! The stone's up for sale now!"

            Resting on the table on stage was a sizeable chunk of the Heartstone, roughly one-fourth of the original.

            "The next item up for biding is one 'Heartstone," The grizzled auctioneer read off from a que card, carefully adjusting his false teeth. "It is purported to have strange mystical powers... which aren't listed here. However, it also dates back to ancient Hyrule. The bidding will start at one thousand."

            Shinore raised his sign.

            "that's good," the auctioneer grinned through his false teeth. "Do I have two?"

            Miyu raised her sign. Shinore blinked a few times, shrugged, and went on.

            "Do I have three?"

            "Ten thousand," The merchant said casually.

            The auctioneer nodded.

            "Twenty thousand!" Miyu called out.

            "What the hell are you doing, Miyu? Forty thousand!"

            "Don't ask," she replied, "Seventy-five thousand!"

            "This must be a really rich friend of yours. Two hundred thousand!"

            "Five hundred thousand!" she said without offering a further response. There was silence for a moment.

            "Well," the auctioneer said, still grinning through those teeth, "it seems that supply and demand is still in effect. Five hundred thousand is the current bid. Do I have-"

            "One million!" Shinore shouted, apparently desperate for the stone. "I bid one million rupees for the Heartstone!"

            Miyu silently tried to calculate how much money Amadeus had. His salary from the Queen was incredibly large, and he was easily worth several million... but how much would break him? A hunch told her to try for the absurd.

            "One million and one rupees!" She shouted. Someone in the audience laughed. The auctioneer re-set his teeth again, retaining that smile.

            "Well... it seems the lady drives a... hard bargain. How about our gentleman here? Do you think that you can top her... incredible... increment?"

            Shinore looked over at Miyu, sweating slightly. He glanced back to the auctioneer.

            "Damn," he said.

            The auctioneer's teeth fell out. He scooped them back up.

            "...One million and one..." He said, still annunciating correctly despite the missing teeth. "Going once... going twice... Please, somebody... anybody...? Sold! To the dark-haired lady in white sitting in front!"

            Shinore raised an eyebrow.

            "And how exactly do you think you're going to pay for all of this?" he asked.

            She put her signet ring on. "I'm here courtesy of Lord Amadeus de Castillo," she said in a moment of victory, before going up to claim her prize. "He has good credit."

            Shinore gaped.

            Fifteen minutes later, Shinore Mandio was speaking to some of his lesser-known, but muscular.

            "I want the girl removed," he said. "She embarrassed me."

            The three burly men nodded.

 

***

 

            Miyu finished packing quickly, being sure to tip the innkeeper and his wife generously out of her own pocket. She wrapped the stone up, and carefully stored it in a sealed box deep in the center of her luggage. If it meant her life, she was going to get that thing back to Amadeus in one piece. Checking that she had everything, Miyu Brahms rode out of the inn and away from her hometown. It was then that the three thugs stepped out of the shadows.

            The one in the center was a Moblin wielding a huge club. The other two were Hylians of about the same size.

            "Hold it there, pretty lady," the Moblin growled, "Ye've got somethin' we want."

            "And that would be?" Miyu asked, feigning innocence. She had already figured it out.

            "The black rock. Fork it over, and we won't beat ya too hard," came the snarling reply.

            Miyu thought back to the little bit of magic that Amadeus had taught her, and lifted one arm into the air.

            "There are plenty of rocks here," she said. "Just find one and paint it black."

            "Insolent brat!" came the response. "Bill! Mort! Get her!"

            Miyu thrust her hand toward the ground, slightly hampered by the presence of her horse. She cast the spell known as Din's Fire, creating a surging, spreading ring of flame around her and her steed. The three thugs were knocked on their backs, completely stunned if not a little injured. By the time that they had gotten back up, Miyu had already sped her horse down the path.

            Bill was angry at the loss, and Mort had started to cry. But Harry, ever the crafty Moblin, searched around the shore until he had found a smooth, black wedge of stone, and they presented it to their master.

            Shinore Mandio never knew the difference.

 

***

 

            Miyu rode up to the gate of Hyrule Castle, and then off to the side where she and Amadeus lived. She took the small bag she had carried with her, and let the servants tend to her horse. Walking around, Miyu called out for her significant other.

            "Ama! I'm home! The auction went well! We've got the stone... Ama? Hello?"

            It was at that moment that the charging Wolfos, this time with both Queen and Vizier inexplicably attached to it via three leather straps and a broom, came charging through the room, its tail wagging like a hyperactive fan blade.

            Miyu shook her head, and pointed to the ground.

            "Bad Galyer!" She said. "Sit! Stay! No treat for you!"

            Galyer obeyed. He missed his Mommy.

            Miyu laughed. Things were just fine, all right.