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The Legend of Zelda: The Kingdom of Mandacaru

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Link opened his eyes slowly, head throbbing. All he saw was darkness. He sat up, his eyes adjusting to the dark room. A prison cell? No, a poorly lit dungeon. Link could deal with dungeons, had done it a thousand times, with all kinds of dungeons. The question was which dungeon he was and how did he get there.

“Ya’re awake.”, came a raspy voice from behind the blond. He turned around quickly, only then noticing his missing sword and shield, “Calm down, kid. Goin’ ta break yer bones of ya turn so fast, ‘nd that ain’t no good.”, the weak light of candles illuminated his cellmate only enough for their overall appearance to be seen.

A skeleton.

A talking skeleton chained to a wall, sitting on the stone floor. Okay, Link could deal with weird talking creatures. The boy tilted his head, letting his cellmate know he was very confused.

“Ya’re in the Kingdom of Mandacaru. Well, in the dungeon right next ta the catacombs bellow the castle. Name’s Raimundo, call me Rai. Ya are?”

“…”

“Silent. ’S fine, not like my ears still work properly.”

He didn’t have ears.

Skeleton.

The hero of Hyrule sighed and got up; glad he wasn’t chained like Raimundo. Checking himself for bruises, his mind couldn’t stop asking questions. Where was the Kingdom of Mandacaru? Why didn’t he recognize that name? Why was he there? How was he there? Where were his things? What exactly happened? Everything he could remember was fighting Ganon, injuring him fatally, Ganon’s blood dripping from his sword and… Nothing. Pure nothingness.

“They found ya near the Forest of Two Soul mates. I 'ave no idea how ya’re here, hylian kid.”

“…”

“Don’t look so surprised, ’m not dumb!”

“…”

“Yah, yah, ya probably have ta go fight something 'nd follow yar Fate or something like that. Always about destiny and the Goddesses with ya hylians. Anyway…”, with a quick movement of his head, Rai encouraged the hero to look behind. Link gave the cell door behind him, separating the two prisoners from an even deeper darkness, a quick glare before turning back to Rai, “The cell door lock is very rusty, a strong blow should be enough. Can use my bones if ya want ta.”

“…”

“Oi, don’t give me that disgusted look! Ya have something like me inside all that flesh! For all ya know, we could be related!”

The Hero shuddered. Definitely not a good thought. Nothing against Raimundo, but the thought of his skeleton getting out of his body and actually being a different person made him uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable, as these kind of thoughts usually did. Skeletons aside, Link looked at the lock of the cell door, trying his best to examine it with his fingers, his eyes not very helpful in the poorly lit cell. The lock was indeed very rusty, almost turning into dust. He stared at the dark hallway, dread filling him. Link never liked darkness. Too unsettling. Searching for something to break the lock, something other than his living cellmate bones, the blond noticed some of the rocks on the floor where he was resting before were loose. Perfect.

“The noise will attract guards, fleshy boy.”

“…”, the hylian looked at the skeleton like the other had lost his mind; there were no guards around… That he could see.

But then again, whoever locked him did not seem worried about the state of the cell doors, so their guards must’ve been good at their jobs.

“Listen, the rocks are not loose for no reason.”, that said, Raimundo’s hands slipped out of the chains, a bony finger pointing to the floor, “There’s a map buried there, give me it 'nd will show ya the way.”

“…?”

“What?”

Shaking his head as if trying to erase the weird irony, the blond did as told, removing stones and dirt from the hole until he found the map. Raimundo wasted no time in stretching the long piece of paper on the floor. Nothing. Completely blank. For a moment, the boy thought it was only because of the darkness, so he grabbed a nearby candle and put it on the floor near the map. Nothing. Raimundo laughed when he saw the face of the hero. His laugh sounded like a father telling his starry-eyed son tales about the Earth and Sky after a tiring day of work. Reminded Link of the King.

“A trick so people don’t go snoopin’. Put yer finger next ta mine, boy.”, Rai said, putting his own pointer finger in the middle of the paper. Link obeyed, “Aponte o caminho.”

Suddenly ink started to appear on the paper, from under their fingers to the borders. Almost like someone was drawing the map right then and there. In a few seconds, the paper was a map with a marked spot.

“There’s another trick, boy, so ya can see it on the dark. Only last a few seconds, but it’s better than nothing. Touch the map right in the middle 'nd the ink will shine.”

Link nodded.

“The guards are attracted by loud noises 'nd light, be very careful. Ya can get out of here right away or go ta this marked place. I advise you ta go there, the world outside is new for ya 'nd in that room ya’ll find someone who can help. Ya want ta go back to Hyrule, don’t ya?”

Another nod.

“Great. Break the door 'nd hide in the darkness outside, a guard will come soon. I’ll hold them for ya; try ta walk the fastest ya can without making noise.”

A worried stare.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine, been in this place for a long time. Just go.”

The map in one hand and a rock in the other, Link gave some hesitant steps towards the door. With a last glance towards his cellmate, a glance he made sure to fill with thankfulness, the hero hit the lock with the stone hard enough to break it. Loud noise. The door broke. Not wasting time, he hid in the shadows of the hallway.

Gurgling. Something was gurgling. And was getting closer and closer.

Something came out of the dark, walking, crawling?, towards the cell. Or maybe the dark had taken shape. Hard to tell. What was easy to tell was how the thing did gurgling noises. Like someone choking. And laughing. At the same time. It had a weird shape, changing slightly constantly. Tall. Short. Large. Skinny. A white face floating in the middle of the body. Rigid as a mask. Disturbing smile carved into it from side to side. No eyes.

“Hello, darkness, old friend. Sorry, was old Rai ta loud for ya?”

The creature simply grabbed the door and put it back in place. The blonde took advantage and took a few silent steps towards the dark corridor.

“I’m gonna run if ya don’t lock it properly.”

The creature didn’t move, but it’s face was now in it’s back. It just moved. Swiftly like it was floating in a dark thick liquid. Link stopped walking and held his breath. No eyes, yet it was looking directly at him. He could feel it’s… Amused glare?

It laughed another gurgled laugh, sinking in the ground slowly.

Link did not stay to see it vanish completely.

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Link could hear them laughing. Could feel their presence. They were moving constantly in the dark. Sometimes taking shape. Sometimes blending in the shadows almost completely. Almost. The masks, the size of a Hylian Shield, didn’t let them. Like shackles. They couldn’t leave. The masks were like the chains on Raimundo’s wrists. Only worse. Scarier.

Some had big smiles carved on their masks, with pointy teeth and so large it looked like they could split open. Some had eyes, one, two, three, more than ten, more than twenty, maybe hundreds, scattered around the mask. Watching. Watching. Waiting. Some had both. They were less in number than the ones with the eyes, and definitely less in number than the ones with mouths. And for sure more terrifying than both of those combined.

Every breath Link took brought a small feeling of dread, of fear, a small arrow of terrified expectation piercing through his heart. Every time the hunger made him stubble a little, his brain screaming for him to run without looking back, but he couldn’t. What if they heard him? By the Goddesses, what if they found him? Every time he touched the middle of the map so he could see the way, his eyes nervously looked around, catching glimpses of the disturbing creatures, praying that they don’t catch a glimpse of him.

“Please… Help me…”

A shiver ran through Link’s spine as he turned around to look at the owner of the voice. The light of the ink illuminated a figure. A person. Crawling in his direction, tears rolling down their skin, black bags under their eyes, lips wet with blood. The hero couldn’t tell exactly, but they looked like a man. The person opened their bloody lips to let another whispered plea out, but the young man in green did not react. How could he?

How could he?

When one of the creatures was making its way towards them so quickly?

The person immediately noticed the pale face of the boy, and their own face paled more, so pale they could be mistaken by a dead person.

But that was an issue the masked terror had no problems resolving.

Link watched as the creature of darkness grabbed the victim with tentacles that came out of its body. They, using the bloody rest of what one day were fingers to hold onto the unforgivable stone floor, exchanged whispers for agonized cries, louder, louder, louder, loud enough for the hylian to know their throat would hurt for a very long time.

That was another issue the masked terror had no problems resolving.

The tentacles grabbed tightly their arms, legs and torso, pulling them towards the beast, hurting their already beaten up flesh even more, and dragging their skin in the cold floor. With a loud clack, its mouth opened. The hylian man then understood it wasn’t only a craft, a detail on the mask, it was a mouth. A mouth that was ready to swallow that person alive. That kicking, screaming, agonizing person.

The last thing Link saw was their hand vanishing into the dark abyss inside the monster, the mouth closing with another clack. His legs gave out and he fell on the floor, breath shaky and heart beating like crazy.

The creature’s mask moved. It started to walk, float?, in his direction. And, differently from before, it moved slowly. But the blonde could not get up. Could not breathe properly. No, his mind and body were taken by the fear of certainty. Certainly the creature would come. Certainly it would get him. Certainly he, disarmed and hungry, would not be able to fight. Certainly he would be swallowed whole, with no hope of playing with the Zora kids, or hearing Zelda read fairytales out loud, or laughing with his father, who would tell him stories about the Earth and Sky after a long day of work. Certainly that was the end of the Hero of Hyrule. Link closed his eyes, waiting for his certain destiny, feeling the creature a few centimeters away.

But nothing came.

Opening his eyes, the man didn’t feel the creature near anymore.

“I don’t recognize you, pointy ears.”, A voice was heard, sweet and soft, “But I do recognize this scenario. You are not the first one to try escaping this dungeon. But, I promise you, you’ll be the first to succeed.”

One look around and his suspicions were confirmed. The voice was in his head, meaning no one could hear it. Good. Two close encounters with these creatures were enough for him to wish to fight Ganondorf as many times necessary if that meant he didn’t need to see one of them ever again. The question was, should he trust a random girl’s voice in his head?

“It’s either me or them, pointy ears.”

One look at the monsters wondering the darkness was enough to end the hero’s internal discussion.

Voice then.

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“Left.”

Link turned left.

“Right.”

Link turned right.

“Stop!”

He stopped, trying to calm his racing heart, taking soft breaths as to not make noise. It was unnerving to walk through the dungeon without being able to see. Link had to fight time and time again the urge to grab the map and shine some light on the way, but the amount of guards lurking around had increased a lot after that dreadful episode. He couldn’t really see them, but he could feel their presence. Hear their gurgled laughter. Shivers ran down his spine when that horrible sound came from behind him. The hero did not dare turn back, fearing the creature would somehow know he was there. A few seconds of tension later, he heard the voice talk again.

“Go ahead, pointy ears. The Masked Terror is gone.”

The boy let out a relieved sigh. He was skeptical about following a sudden female voice in his head at first, but now he couldn’t be gladder. He had no idea how or why the girl was doing that, but was glad nonetheless.

“You’re welcome, pointy ears. Now stop thinking so much, is making the connection between us weak. I’ll explain everything when you’re not in the risk of being eaten.”

Link nodded slightly, taking a deep breath before venturing into the dense darkness once again. The walk, yes, he was walking even when every instinct in his body screamed for him to run, was slow. Maddeningly so. The ever so silent hero appreciated silence a lot, but that dungeon was making him hate it. The guards didn’t make other noises other than the occasional laughing, the prisoners quietly sat in their cells, there was no whispering of the wind or crackling of torches. There was only his beating heart and shaky breath. And the voice of the girl.

“Merda!”

He didn’t know what that meant, but judging by the way it was say, it wasn’t a good word.

“Okay, pointy ears, don’t panic, but you’ll have to run.”

What?

“Listen, count ten steps, turn left, then count ten more steps, you’ll find yourself in a long illuminated hallway. Problem is, the hallway is full of new Masked Terrors, they’re not completely formed, so they still can walk around freely in light. They’ll no doubt see you. The moment you step in that hallway, run the fastest you can. I’ll be waiting for you at the end of it. Close your eyes if you want to.”

Wonderful.

Closing his eyes, they weren’t being used anyways, the young man dressed in green started counting his footsteps. Ten steps forward. Turned left. His stomach protested, fear did not satisfy the hunger, doesn’t matter how much it filled his entire body. Link could see the light of the hallway behind his eyelids. Five steps. The gurgled laugh of the creatures ahead sounded more like pained groans. Like people suffering. More five steps. Refusing to open his eyes and see the nature of those nightmarish beasts, he did what the voice told him to.

Ran.

The response was immediate. The Masked Terrors started chasing him. They actually made noises while moving, noises of skin being dragged across the floor, of teeth clashing with one another, of labored breathing, of moaned pledges for death.

Link ran and ran and ran, not sure if it was his feet or his heart that was making more noise. Goddesses, why did that hallway not end? Why? Where was the end of it? How much more would he have to run? The beasts were hot in his heels, being noisy, so noisy, too noisy. Noisy enough for the hylian to almost don’t hear a door opening. But he did hear it. And the voice of the lady.

“Jump inside!”

And he did. Mustering all the stamina he had left, Link jumped as far as he could. He felt like flying for a few seconds before falling painfully on the floor. A door was closed behind him.

“Well, that was one Hell of entrance, pointy ears.”

Lifting his head and shaking it a little to make the dizziness pass, the blonde noticed he was in a well lit room. There was a small bed, a wardrobe, a dressing table with a round mirror, a desk with papers and books scattered on top and around it. He got up, turning to look at his savior.

He was met with worried but amused silver eyes.

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She was beautiful.

Her wavy hair was white and so long it almost touched the ground. Her shiny silver eyes glistening with amusement stared at him, searching for something. Probably injuries. They lingered a little on his ears before focusing on his eyes. She smiled sweetly, grabbing her left arm with her right hand, bringing his attention to the rest of her. Covered by a long dark blue dress was the body of a woman beginning to bloom, long sleeves protecting her arms from the chilling breeze the hero hadn’t noticed until that moment and the long skirt almost hiding her bare feet completely.

She was beautiful.

“Are you going to stare at me for long, pointy ears?”

Her voice was also beautiful, soft and sweet, like the caress of a summer breeze.

“Are you alright? You’re not hurt are you? Were you touched by one of the Masked Fools?”

Link blinked owlishly before giving her a look of reassurance in hopes of erasing the worried frown that took her smile’s place. He was fine, a little shook still, but overall fine. Better now in the presence of a gorgeous woman.

He wasn’t one to dwell on appearances, but he was far from blind and could recognize beauty when he saw it.

“Oh, thank Mother.”, She smiled at him again, relieved, making his heart stutter for a second “My name is Alua. Yours is Link, correct? I heard you thinking to yourself. Sorry, by the way, about, you know, entering your mind without permission.”

He smiled to her thankfully. It was alright. Her intrusion saved his life and he couldn’t be more thankful.

“You should sit down.”, Alua grabbed his hand and guided him to her bed. Her dark skin was also soft, just as the boy expected, “I’ve got a lot to tell you, but for now let’s calm down your stomach, yes?”

On cue, his stomach growled loudly, as if agreeing. Link would normally be embarrassed, but the adrenaline pumping in his blood was coming down and bringing exhaustion, hunger and thirsty. The blonde slumped into the bed with a heavy sigh. Eyes closed, he could finally concentrate on the chilly breeze coming from somewhere he didn’t know, but judging by the sounds Alua made, there was a door somewhere he didn’t saw before. The breeze brought more than shivers; it brought the amazing smell of food. The room Alua had entered must’ve been some sort of kitchen.

Still with his eyes closed, he quietly listened to the noises the girl was making. Her bare feet on the floor, the rustle of the dress with every movement of her, her putting what seemed to be soup in what probably was a bowl. The hylian tried to keep his mind from drifting off, and was almost failing by the time the lady came back.

“Link? I made soup. It’s not very good, but it’s better than nothing.”

A few deep breaths filled him with enough willpower, or maybe it was stubbornness, to open his eyes and take the bowl with warm soup from her hands. It wasn’t bad by any means but it wasn’t exactly good. A lot of room for improvement, though. It kind of reminded him of his sister when she was finally able to cook something without giving someone food poisoning. He chuckled softly at the memory. He finished his meal, handing the bowl to her awaiting hands, his eyelids getting heavier by second.

“You can take a nap in my bed if you want.”

He shook his head, no; he didn’t really want to sleep, even if his body seemed to disagree. He needed to understand. Understand what was happening. A yawn almost made him change his mind.

“Very well, to the explanations then.”, Alua sat right beside him, her shoulder brushing on his.

Almost indeed.

“You are in the Kingdom of Mandacaru, the land of Freedom and home of all humans, protected by our Mother, the Goddess of Freedom. Right now, you’re in Sampa, the heart of this Kingdom, where resides the Royal Family. It’s the biggest town of Mandacaru and the most populated…”

Link, warrior of many wars, was fighting an arduous battle against sleep, refusing to let his eyelids cover his eyes. Her sweet voice was not helping, but he didn’t want her to stop.

“I have no idea how you are here, but you were found unconscious in the Forest of Two Soulmates. You were pretty beaten up when they brought you here. Luckily, they put you in the same cell as Raimundo, meaning I was able to take care of your injuries.”

At this he looked at her with a mix of guilty and thankfulness.

“You’re welcome and don’t worry, Raimundo will be fine. He’s been there since I was in the womb, apparently. That’s how I knew it was you walking around in the dark, and how I was able to connect our minds without much trouble.”

The hero was nodding off, the war almost lost.

“Well, that and the fact you are a hylian, you know? Hylians have more affinity with magic; their bodies accept and use it with little to no problem…”

The Hero of Hyrule fell asleep hearing the stunning Alua talk and talk about hylians and humans and how magic affected each of them differently. He vaguely recalled the same happening with Zelda multiple times before losing completely to sleep.

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He looked so calm sleeping. Under the soft glow of the shining rock hanging from the ceiling, he looked peaceful, nothing like the fierce warrior she knew he was. Taking soft breaths, eyelids trembling with dreams, chest rising slowly, blonde hair scattered on the pillow.

Goddess, was he beautiful.

She was expecting someone attractive; the many tales she had read portrayed the hero as a being of beauty. But wrong the books were, for he was mesmerizing. Not only in appearance, but the way he carried himself was beautiful. Courageous and certain.

Different from her.

Alua stared at his ears. Pointy, just what you’d expect to see in a child of Fate. A pure hylian. In the land of Freedom. How he was there was a wonder. Not because there weren’t hylians in the kingdom, there were, they just never appeared out of thin air. The time it took to travel to one kingdom to the other was long, and even longer if you wished to go directly to the center of Mandacaru. Almost a year on horseback, a year on foot. There was enough time for the city who would welcome the people coming to prepare. It was tradition, after all, to welcome anyone who enters the kingdom.

“Dear hero, you are far away from your home.”, The girl whispered while touching lightly Link’s cheek with her fingers, “I will help you go back, don’t worry.”

Link smiled a little in his sleep, as if thanking her for helping.

Goddess, was he precious.

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Link never had such a good sleep before. And that’s saying something because one of the hero’s favorite activities was sleeping, a hobby he indulged every chance he got, much to his sister’s displeasure.

With a satisfied yawn, he sat up in the bed, eyes slowly adjusting to the light the shining rock hanging on the ceiling provided. How long had he slept? His eyes wandered around the room, looking at the stone walls and floor. The wooden wardrobe in the corner in front of him and the door to the kitchen right next to it. It was a small door, he would probably have to bend over if he ever needed to go through it, and its wood had been so darkened by time it was no wonder he didn’t notice it before. Right next to the door was a table, also of solid dark wood, with many papers and books scattered on top, and in a few piles around the legs of the table. On the wall perpendicular to the door was a dressing table, made of white wood and much more delicate than the table and with intricate patterns carved on the four legs and around the round mirror. The mirror reflected the silver stare of Alua, who was seated on a simple wooden chair, comb strung in the middle of a strand. She clearly had been brushing her hair for some time, considering the long hair she possessed.

“Oh… Hello…”, She greeted a little embarrassed, a soft blush glowing in her cheeks, “I was hoping I would be finished with taming this tangled mess before you woke up… I guess I have more hair than I thought.”, A small nervous giggle passed her lips; to his surprise, it wasn’t melodic, sounded a little like a mouse squeaking. Still, endearing.

Link stared at her still, unsure on how to communicate with the young lady. Usually, Zelda did all the talking for both of them, and being raised together meant she could understand him without him muttering one syllable. Therefore he never really bothered using hylian sign language that much, making his skills on it quite rusty. Talking was out of question, not only he wasn’t comfortable enough to speak with someone he just met, but his voice was so unused it would probably sound like the croaking of a frog. Now that would be embarrassing.

He didn’t need to worry about it, it seemed, for Alua smiled at him sweetly and told him he’d been asleep for almost five hours.

“Are you hungry? There is no soup anymore, but I can fetch you some fruits.”

The hero shook his head, looking at the comb still in her hand, as if willing her to finish what she started. He didn’t knew why, thought he guessed it was because of his adopted mother and the long evenings she spent combing her hair and telling him legends about the kingdom and its people, but to him a woman combing her hair was something fascinating to watch.

And Alua’s hair was so long and so pretty, glowing softly under the illuminating rock, like soft waves of clouds. The young man watched in a trance Alua comb her long white locks. He only came back to reality when said girl turned to look directly at him. Their eyes met, both staring as if hypnotized the other’s gaze.

With a shaky breath, the hylian looked away, a blush growing in his cheeks. For a few moments, some small voice in his head screamed to him to go near her, to touch her, have the beautiful creature the Goddesses named Alua in his arms and hold her strongly to his chest. Link had no idea what was the voice and why it desperately urged him to touch the girl in such intimate way. Maybe his encounter with the Masked Terrors (she had called them “Masked Fools”) had shaken him more than he thought, and he felt the need to show his gratitude for saving him in an out of character way. Link wasn’t one to touch people he wasn’t comfortable with…

Then why did he felt so at ease in her presence?

Alua cleaning her throat made Link shift his attention to her face, again. She smiled to him once more, this time a much shyer smile.

“I’ve been studying the castle maps, and I think I know where your things might be…”, His ears perked upon hearing this, “It should take some time, but if we sneak around, we’ll be able to get them and then out of the castle. Once out, we can discuss how you’re going back to Hyrule, it that okay?”

A nod.

“Great!”, The dark skinned lady got up and grabbed a bunch of maps from her desk before sitting beside him on the bed.

The voice was back.

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“This is the map of the dungeon you were, just like the one Raimundo gave you. Luckily for us, we have no need to go there.”

The relieved sigh that left Link’s mouth brought a small smile on her face. Going back would mean seeing those masked things again, and the hero would fight Demise himself with his bare hands if that meant he wouldn’t need to look at the Masked Fools again.

“Masked Fools are just horrible to be around, I know. We need to go upstairs, the level right above us is full of objects the King and his royal fools don’t want to think about, or they didn’t see as important enough to discuss. There’s a big chance your things are there.”, Alua informed, showing him another old looking map.

The hylian boy nodded, keeping his eyes on the paper not to look at the girl sitting next to him. The voice stopped screaming for him to hug her, which was good, but it started whispering about her soft hair and sweet smile, which was bad. Distracting. Really bad. He needed to pay attention to the plan, but it seemed the whispers were louder than the yells.

“To go up, we’ll need to go through the catacombs, which is easy, but bone chilling. You’re not afraid of ghosts, are you? The ones here are nice, but they do like to play tricks, specially with people who are scared.”

He shook his head. No ghost was ever able to scare him, even the more horrendous looking ones he fought in Hyrule Cemetery, at the base of Death Mountain. Startle him, maybe; then again, anyone would be startled of a hand suddenly shot up from the floor to grab their ankles. A rat squeaking took the hero out of his musings. Oh, Alua was giggling.

“Good, good. Are you sure you don’t want anything to eat? To drink? You’ve been asleep for five hours, you know? And I don’t have any potions with me, so, really, you should eat something. I’ll give you an apple, you like apples, don’t you? Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t, I won’t judge.”

She was gazing at him with so much worry he felt his heart tighten, however the smile in his face was warm as he grabbed her hand and gave a small squeeze. He was trying to reassure her. He was fine, no need to worry. Thought he would appreciate some water.

“I… I’ll bring you a glass of water.”, Alua stammered, getting up and almost running to the kitchen, blush present.

Link’s heart did not skip a beat, nor did it accelerated. No, it was beating slowly. Loudly, but slowly. Pumping warmth through his veins. The same feeling you get when someone you hold dear in your heart is endearingly trying to be helpful or do something nice for you for no other reason than they holding you dearly in their hearts. The same feeling he got when his sister stayed up two nights so she could perfect the cake recipe Impa taught her, his favorite baked treat. When the King gave him his guitar after Link stared longingly to a musician on the Hyrule Festival, going as far as hiring the musician himself to teach the boy. When his mother combed his hair that afternoon he will never forget.

“Here”, Link really needed to stop being distracted by his thoughts, he did not see or hear the young lady coming back with the glass of water, “I’ll grab some things and we’re good to go.”

He drank slowly, as if he was savoring the water. The hero watched the girl rummage through her wardrobe. She changed her dress, probably while he slept. It was still long and dark blue like the other, but there were a trail of silver stars circling around her waist, and a few other stars scattered around the end of the skirt. She was wearing shoes. Good, it would’ve been bad if she hurt her feet on the stone floor. Alua took out a money belt and a sword, putting them both on her waist. The sword was different from most of what he’d seen before.

“It’s a rapier. It’s not very common, I know, but I’ve had this since I was a child.”

Link blinked. The blush soon followed when he noticed he was caught staring. Again. He really needed to pay more attention to his surroundings.

Another giggle left her lips.

“Let’s go then, mister?”, Alua asked, opening the kitchen door, as if inviting him for a new adventure.

He got up and stretched, empty glass forgotten on the bed.

Who was he to refuse an invitation from Fate?

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The catacombs were surprisingly better illuminated than the dungeons. That didn’t mean they weren’t dark, they were, but Link could see more than a handful beyond his nose, which was a very welcomed change. Every seven meters or so there was a solitary torch, showing the way to whoever may roam on the seemingly never-ending corridors. Alive or otherwise. The walls were low and full of large rectangular niches. Some were empty, others had coffins and other had five to ten funeral urns. Catacombs were usually like labyrinths, and Link was never good with those, so he thanked the Goddesses for having Alua to guide him.

Also different from the dungeon was the atmosphere of the place. While the dungeon had the suffocating feel of disturbing anxiety, the catacombs the eerie feel of expectation. Like nothing was happening, but something couldhappen. It was like seeing someone sleeping and trying to do something without waking them up.

And the silence. Maddening. The silent hero never thought he would hate the silence, but, by Hylia, he wanted it to stop. Maddening. Suffocating. Heavy beyond understanding. He wanted it to stop. To break. Be shattered like the thinnest glass. Hell, the boy was considering doing it himself. Screaming, singing, talking with the beautiful lady that walked by his side.

“I hate silence.”

The sudden voice snapped him out of his delirium before he could snap. His head immediately turned so his eyes could stare at her face. She looked disturbed. Brows furrowed and lips tightly closed. At least the silence was gone.

“It’s not only silence in this place, I hate silence in general. My mind is too loud for me to be in silence. It drives me crazy. I hate it. Sorry if you actually like silence and I’m annoying you by rambling, but I really need some noise other than our almost silent footsteps.”

She looked at him for a moment, and somehow she was able to understand his feelings, for she smiled and continued talking.

“You slept in the middle of my explanation, you know?”, She giggled at the guilty expression in his face, “Don’t worry about it, I understand, you were tired. How about I start from the very beginning now that you’re awake? Would you like that? I can talk about other things too if you want. I pride myself on knowing at least a little about a lot of things, and I guess it’s good too because I have this silly habit of rambling and jumping between subjects while I’m at it and so people aren’t too bored by listening to me repeat the same things…”

A deep chuckle from the blonde was enough for her monologue to be cut short. A very visible blush coated her cheeks and nose and she quickly looked in front of them, as if the dusty way was more interesting than the hero besides her.

“I was rambling again, sorry…”

Link gently touched her hand with his, more like ghosted his fingers on her hand for a few short seconds, assuring the girl that not only he didn’t mind, but her cute habit was appreciated. Alua took a quick look at him with the corner of her eyes before looking at the floor and taking a deep breath.

“This kingdom is the house of humans. We’ve been living here for a very long time, trying to find the harmony between peace and war. Of course, not all humans are here, there are many of us around the world, and there are other races in here, even some you would find in Hyrule, like zoras and gorons. Right now we’re under the castle, on the catacombs where the Royal Family has been buried from the start. The castle is in the middle of Sampa, the biggest and most populated town of Mandacaru.”

The lady looked at him, asking with no words if he was still with her. He nodded.

“The Kingdom of Mandacaru is located in a land the Sun doesn’t touch, well, at least the majority of it. It takes a few weeks to go from town to town depending on where you want to end, and a few months to leave the Kingdom all together. It takes pretty much a year to go from here to Hyrule.”

Link took a sharp breath, stopping in his tracks. He was a whole year away from home. From his sister. From the King. A whole year. He couldn’t believe. What if something happened? What if he wasn’t able to stop Ganondorf? He could be wrecking havoc in Hyrule while the Hero of Hyrule, the one supposed to defend the land, was stuck traveling for a year. Link was starting to hyperventilate when he felt something soft grab his hand. His companion was suddenly in his line of vision.

“Breath, Link, it’s okay.”, Alua whispered softly taking his other hand in hers, “It’s a year if you go by foot. I’m sure there are some other ways to go, much faster than walking. I told you, didn’t I? We will find a way for you to go back home as quickly as possible.”

Her determined words and encouraging smile were enough for him to calm down. Losing his mind was not the answer, Alua was right; there must be a way to get there faster. Link smiled, grateful, and squeezed her hands a little. He stared at her eyes, losing himself on the silver immensity. Serene. Welcoming. Like moonlight. His mind was silent, even the voice from before wasn’t present, leaving in its place a satisfaction that, for some reason, he understood wasn’t only his. The hero, however, didn’t had the mind to try and understand how he got on that conclusion, Alua’s proximity erased any thoughts that weren’t about her.

“Sweet!”

“Shhhh! Be quiet!”

Suddenly the blonde’s forehead felt colder. Only then he noticed that he and Alua were touching foreheads, that they were so close he could feel her breath on his lips. And that Alua had moved away quickly, blushing. Watching from behind her were the ghosts of two men, one taller and one shorter, and a woman. They were grinning sure at them, the woman going as far as wiggling her translucent eyebrows. Blush slowly crept in his face all the way to his ears. He could feel they burn.

“Don’t let us interrupt, dear.”, The woman said, “It’s completely understandable that a healthy and handsome boy like you want to kiss our dear Alua.”

The taller man snickered while the shorter man gave him a gentle smile.

“Link… Meet my great grandparents.”

Chapter Text

“Oh, so this is the Link you’ve been talking about last week! He is as handsome one would expect a legendary hero to be!”

Alua’s great grandmother was holding his face in her ghostly hands, and while they were cold enough to make him shiver, Link was glad they were cooling down his burning cheeks. Sadly, the sly smirk on the woman’s face has frustrating any chances he had of losing his blush.

“Vó, pelo amor da Deusa!”, Alua chided, still blushing, “Você está deixando ele desconfortável!”

“Ah, mas ele parecia bem confortável alguns minutos atrás…”

He didn’t understand a word of what they said, but he could guess it was embarrassing, for the ghost holding his face wiggled her brows to her granddaughter suggestively. Great, his ears were burning more than Death’s Mountain fire.

“Vó!”

“Tá bom, tá bom!”, finally releasing the hero’s face and taking a few steps back, she smiled gently at him, “I’m Assumpta, the two men are Armelindo and Salvatore. It’s nice to meet you, Link.”

Link nodded to the two men standing next to Alua, finally taking time to look that the three ghosts. One man was short and pudgy, with big blue eyes and a big mustache that did little to his the even bigger smile. He had a golden crown with red jewels on top of a thick mop of dark hair and was dressed in a red button up shirt, with a white cravat around his neck, dark blue pants and black shoes. The other man was dressed in similar fashion, green instead of red, and his mustache seemed less bushy, more tamed. He was tall and a lot skinnier, the smile just was gentle and eyes just as blue.

Brothers, probably.

Lastly, the blonde took in the older woman appearance. She was taller than the man in red and shorter than the man in green. The crown on her head was silver with blue jewels, her short blond hair and bright green eyes made Link think about Zelda. Her dress was something his sister would never wear, very poofy, very pink and definitely very hard to run with. Luckily ghosts had no need to actually use their legs.

“It’s a pleasure, boy. I’m Salvatore.”, the man in green said softly, “That’s my brother, Armelindo, he’s not much of a talker, but he’s happy to meet you too.”, Armelindo waved a hand. Link waved back.

“Oh, Link is not much of a talker too.”, the girl in the dark blue dress assured.

“It’s always the silent ones, eh? They’re so charming!”, Assumpta gushed while hugging Amerlindo tightly. The man was probably thanking their goddess for being a ghost and not needing to breathe, “Segura esse aí, viu? He’s a real catch!”, she winked, making the young hero and lady blush once more.

“Vó Sumpta!”, the white haired girl whined.

“That’s enough, cunhada. I don’t think it’s healthy for them to blush this much.”

“You’re no fun, Salvatore.”

“Don’t let Dorcelina hear you say that.”

“Tá vendo? Você junta sua irmã com o amor da vida dela é assim que agradecem! Ameaça após ameaça! Ingratidão é fogo mesmo! Depois de tudo que eu fiz pra você, cunhado!”

“Vó, menos.”

Link felt very awkward watching the strange family reunion. Almost enough to be very close of forgetting what they were in the catacombs for. Almost. As much as he found the interactions between them amusing, and Assumpta’s dramatics, contrasting with Armelindo’s calmness, quite hilarious, he was needed in another place. His kingdom. Hyrule. Home. So he silently walked towards Alua and ghosted his fingers over her hand, just like before, hoping her weird ability to know what he was thinking would let her see his anguish and put them back on track. Apparently her “Link senses” were on point, for she immediately turned to him and smiled reassuringly.

“Let’s go, yes?”, he nodded, “Vó Sumpta, vô Melindo, vô Totó, we need to go now, Link needs to go back to Hyrule.”

“There’s a shorter way to get to the next level…”

“I know, vô Totó, but I think one encounter with the Masked Fools is enough for Link.”, the mere mention of going back to the dungeon infested with the masked monsters was enough to send shivers down said hero’s spine.

Never again.

“Very well, we’ll let you two continue your journey. Please, be safe.”

“And please kiss already, all that tension is not good for young people.”

“Vó Sumpta!”

Laughing, the three ghosts suddenly vanished, without leaving proof of ever being there. The boy in green would be lying if he said he didn’t want to do it as well. Suddenly, the idea of being grabbed by a Wall Master and thrown back at the beginning of the dungeon was very charming.

“I’m sorry about that, Link.”, he shook his head, it was alright.

Seeing a family together bantering and having fun was always heartwarming. His only question was…

“I’m not exactly a princess, thou I do have royal blood.”

Link watched her turn, giving him her back and walking deeper into the catacombs. This was clearly a subject Alua didn’t like to discuss. It was fine, Link wouldn’t pry, and he had some things he wanted to keep untouched for the rest of his life. He walked a little faster to catch up with the lady, hearing a tired sigh come out her pretty lips. She was holding her left arm with her right hand, a gesture he was starting to recognize as a symbol of nervousness.

“I am the bastard daughter of the king.”

Chapter Text

“You probably have a lot of questions… I can hear them resounding inside your mind.”, Alua avoided the curious look on Link’s face.

She had told other people about it, she wasn’t really uncomfortable about the subject. She knew what she was, she was proud of who she was and didn’t really want to know why she was. But, somehow admitting it to the hero she’d been admiring since childhood was different from telling people around the town. He was the one whose adventures accompanied her in hours of loneliness. Gave her dreams of seeing the world. Daydreams of epic battles and eternal knowledge. And, as much as she wanted to deny, even romantic fantasies, where she helped him save his beloved kingdom and he, on the spur of the moment, kissed her as if she were the only thing that existed, the victory sweet on their lips.

“The king likes to hide whatever he doesn’t like under the castle… The product of his infidelity specially.”

Link ghosted his fingers against her hand and shivers crawled up her arm. If felt familiar. It was the same sensation she’d felt in her dreams. Like a wave of warmth hitting her, but instead of washing her ashore, it enveloped her in a comforting hug. The girl smiled at him, squeezing his pinky with her hand.

He needed to be comforted too. He was a year away from home. In a weird new Kingdom that only existed because of an old, never forgotten war.

“Don’t worry about me, Link. Soon things will change and I’m willing to wait for it.”, picking up the pace, Alua made sure to pull the hero with her by his pinky, “Let’s get your things!”

There was no time to dwell on the past. She had a hero to return.