Tetra sat on the throne of the audience chamber of her castle.
Admittedly, “throne” might be a bit of an exaggeration, and “castle” even more so. Her seat of power wasn’t much to look at, not yet, but she had plans.
A former deckhand whom she had appointed as a royal guard led in a gaunt man wearing a tattered and threadbare coat. He was tall but stooped, with small eyes sunken into a sallow face.
“Presenting the noble and distinguished Captain Linebeck,” the guard announced, which was hardly necessary. Still, one did have to keep up appearances.
Linebeck approached with a swagger and almost tripped on the fringe of the carpet laid out over the stone floor.
Tetra suppressed a smirk. The fool hadn’t gotten his land legs yet. He’d probably just washed up onshore at the tail end up of yet another unsuccessful venture. Smuggling, most likely.
“Linebeck, what a surprise to see you again. And what a pleasure, I should say.”
“It’s a pleasure to see you as well, lass. It seems the climate agrees with you. You’re looking less… chalky.”
“Indeed.” Tetra leaned back, resting her elbow on the dragon-claw armrest of her throne. She had forgotten how vile this rat-faced little man was, but he seemed keen on reminding her. “Tell me, is your ship still named after yourself?”
“Is that not a reasonable thing to name a ship?”
“Fair enough. So what brings you here, Captain?”
“I hear you’ve been having some trouble with monsters in these parts.”
“You could say that,” Tetra replied, careful not to let her face betray her annoyance. The Lokomo had welcomed her and her crew to this land, and the least she could do to repay their hospitality was to join their battle against a so-called ‘demon king’ named Malladus. It was nothing she hadn’t dealt with before, but the conflict was no trifling matter.
“I could protect you,” Linebeck offered, ever the gallant. “All I’d be asking for in return is an estate in your fair kingdom. A small plot of land, perhaps a minor title. Nothing more.”
So that was his game, was it? How had Link put up with this cad?
Tetra cleared her throat. “Link has told me of your exploits in service of the Ocean King, and I’m sure he informed you of the many trials we faced together on the Great Sea.” She rather doubted he had, actually, as Link tended to clam up like a shellfish when even she herself mentioned what they had seen under the waves of that cursed stretch of ocean. It amused her to watch as Linebeck scrambled to come up with a suitable response.
“Ah, well, um, yes. Certainly. A great many trials, and whatnot. But the challenge ahead must surely be even more dire.”
“Of course. That’s why it’s important to be prepared. Link is a formidable warrior, and his skill with a sword is unmatched. I’m honored that he’s agreed to contribute his blade, but this kingdom has no dearth of weapons at its disposal to provide backup, should he need it.”
Tetra reached for the cup of tea on the table beside her throne, discreetly adjusting the saucer to reveal a large pistol.
“You’ll find that my ship is equipped with the latest in canonological equipment,” Linebeck said, puffing up his chest despite the sheen of sweat that had appeared on his forehead. Tetra was almost impressed by his bravado. Almost.
“Let me assure you that we have no shortage of firepower,” Tetra replied, taking a sip of tea and replacing her cup in its saucer. She allowed the tips of her fingers to linger on the barrel of her gun. “The Lokomo have been most generous. We have no fewer than half a dozen fully operational steam engines riding the rails across New Hyrule, all armed to the teeth.” She grinned and leaned forward. “And every single engineer is prepared to fire on my command.”
Linebeck’s face went pale. His obsequious smile faltered.
“Well, it… sounds like you’ve got your protection in order, then.”
“I can assure you we do, but I’m grateful for your concern.”
This was Linebeck’s cue to leave, but still he stood in front of her, rooted in place like a barnacle. “It’s just that I’m starting a family,” he stammered, “and this, ah, strikes me as a good place to settle down.”
Tetra sighed. Had Jolene finally caught him, then? It was impossible to know for sure, and it was none of her business. Regardless, the pathetic coward in front of her was Link’s friend, and she did technically owe him a debt.
“That’s fantastic news. In that case, I think I may just have the perfect ‘estate’ for you. The talents of a brave man of the sea such as yourself would be wasted on dry land. There’s a small settlement out on the Papuchia shoreline that could use a trader and ferry service.”
Linebeck’s face fell. “A… ferry service, Your Highness?”
Tetra nodded. “It’s not a position I can give to just anyone. Those waters are infested with sharks and octoroks and Nayru only knows what else. The territory in the vicinity of the southeastern train depot is vital. Keeping it safe is a solemn responsibility. I’m relieved you volunteered your service, Captain.”
She picked up her teacup again, crossing her legs so that the hem of her skirt rose to reveal her second pistol, which was strapped to her calf. Linebeck’s eyes darted from her face to her leg and then around the room, checking for other hidden surprises. Tetra did in fact have a third gun on her person, but there was no reason for Linebeck to ever know about it if he could manage to behave himself.
“I’m honored by your largesse, Your Highness, but, you see,” Linebeck sputtered. He hadn’t gotten what he wanted – he’d gotten something better, but he didn’t want to admit it.
Tetra flashed her teeth in a wry grin. “Come now, Captain. There’s no need to be modest. There’s a big, beautiful tract of coastal land out there just waiting for you. It’s got your name on it, and all you have to do is claim it. I’ll have my staff draw up a contract right away. You don’t need to do anything but show up and sign your name. There’s nothing to lose. What do you say?”
Linebeck muttered something unintelligible and bowed before exiting her audience chamber.
She had won, and they both knew it. It must have been embarrassing for someone with such an inflated opinion of himself to be bested by a teenage girl, but he had no one but himself to blame. Tetra shrugged and finished her tea. He wouldn’t be the first, and he might as well get used to it.