Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

Let the birds be my clock of morning

Sunlight streamed through the windows, but that didn't rouse Zelda in the early hours as much as the high twittering of birds as they started going about their daily business of gathering bugs and twigs, and scolding one another for whatever the reason. In the days of the glory of the castle, her bedroom tower was high enough that the birds rarely disturbed her. And even now, she felt she could roll over and pull the blanket over her head and ignore the twittering and go back to sleep.

But they had too much to do that day.

She stretched, cocked her head, listened. The only noises she could hear existed outside the house. The house itself was silent. Unless Link was being supremely stealthy, he was still sound asleep. She carefully pushed back her blankets and tip-toed her way out of bed to lean over the railing and look down below. No sign of him, so he was either awake and outside somewhere, or still tucked away behind the makeshift curtain nailed up over the space under the stairs where the small bed he slept on was located. Either way, there was no sound of anyone else in the house awake and moving.

Just in case he was still asleep and be it far from her to wake him before he was ready to move; Zelda made a point of being as quiet as possible as she backed away from Link's possible view to get into the trunk where she'd folded her dress she wore home last night. She could change for Zora's Domain later, but she needed something that wasn't her nightdress for greeting a strange man. She grinned broadly as she opened a small box she'd chosen for her jewelry, looking at the assortment of pretties that Link had graced her with.

Definitely the circlet. And one of the sapphire necklaces. Yes, that would do. Her mother's signet ring. If she had to use any sort of authority this morning, she wanted to have the appearance to back up her words.

A cough and a sneeze from somewhere downstairs broke the silence peace, making her jump. Quiet footsteps that wouldn't have woken her but were audible to her now padded off to the washroom.

So Link was awake now. She doubted he heard her, or that she did anything to disturb him. She was being fairly quiet, and they both knew they had to get up early. She went to the stairs while he was in the washroom after slipping her boots on, and still in the habit of silence, tip-toed her way down the case, trying to minimize the old wood's squeaks and groans as she went to the kitchen table to sit.

Maybe she did need an omelet with an endura carrot, she thought, as a face-splitting yawn suddenly made her eyes water.
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Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Day 1 of Back In The World: Complete

After a very long day of running errands, Link was ready to go home. If Ganon was still around, he wouldn't even be thinking of resting yet, would probably not be doing anything in the way of rest except stopping to eat something with endura shrooms or carrots, or maybe downing an enduring elixir, if he didn't have time or place to cook and eat. With Ganon hanging over his head, he'd simply been unable and unwilling to rest until he had no choice. Too much to do, too many people to help, too many monsters to keep a wary eye out for.

And a princess in the castle who needed him to help her break Ganon's power and seal him before her own power ran out.

Now, however, Ganon was gone, and while the monsters were still there, and while their numbers would never fully reach the coveted extinct status, and while there were still a lot of people to help, the kingdom's need for him to keep going at a breakneck pace was gone. And he was trying to resist it, but his mind and body were aware of that, and starting to feel the effects of it. He was tiring out easier, and starting to crave the quiet privacy of his house to hide in and get the rest he so desperately needed.

He wasn't very happy about it, either. Rest meant that the monsters he couldn't fight with a sword had a chance to catch up with him and start screaming the silence at him. And now he shared his living space with someone, a someone that he desperately didn't want to see those monsters or hear their silence. A someone who was snarled up in that mess in his head, and a someone who was counting on him to transition to an entirely new sort of job that was dire enough that he couldn't put it off, but not anything that could be approached with the sort of full-blown sprinting he'd approached the last one with. Which meant the monsters could catch up, he wouldn't be able to shake them, but he couldn't take the time to try to weather their storm until the clouds finally broke enough for him to walk around without getting rain dumped on him.

Given a choice, part of him would be very tempted to tell Zelda she was welcome for his help, good luck on rebuilding the kingdom, big job and all that, and walk away and simply go on with how he had been, a vagabond with a fancy sword, clearing out monster infestations and making a living off of selling services and/or elixirs, and otherwise retire from being a Destined One. He was tired of it, it'd gotten him killed once already, and it seemed to want to try to dictate every detail of his life. Including one detail that he really resented it trying to take a hand in.

Considering that detail made being home alone around Zelda uncomfortable sometimes, he felt entitled to that resentment. Dealing with that loaded cannon wouldn't be as maddening if the fuse wasn't already lit on it, no matter how long that fuse was taking to reach the powder. It was lit, and it'd go off, and something would end up destroyed by it. It was just a question of what, and how bad the damage would be.

Objectively, the best thing for it to destroy would be the door he kept closed against the outside world, a door he'd closed before he even was a teenager, because even he knew that having that door shut so tightly, complete with several locks, wasn't the healthiest approach to take to the world. And his reason for closing that door would take a stick to his head several times for it. She wouldn't be the only one, either, there were a lot of people who would. At least now, the number of them who would even see that the door was actually there and be hurt by its presence was small enough to be counted on one hand with a couple fingers to spare, unlike back then.

Too bad one of those people was the one who'd lit the fuse on that cannon. And lived with him.

Was it really asking too much to at least not to have been put in front of it by anything but his own damn choice? Did destiny really have to try to control even that part of his life? He would've ended up in front of it anyway, a fact he wasn't able or willing to admit to himself yet, but having the choice would've been nice.

Going back to the house suddenly seemed like the thing he didn't want to do the most. For the moment, anyway.

Fortunately, scrubbing that makeup off had made his eyes red from irritation, which gave him an excuse to put off going back to the house. Nobody could ask why his eyes looked like he'd been crying if they didn't. He'd find something else to do until the redness went away. And hopefully took his souring mood with it. Going home in a bad mood was only going to end in everyone's feelings getting hurt, and the cannon complicated things to the point of causing hurt feelings enough as it was. If he could do something to at least minimize how much she was hurt, he'd do it, without hesitation.

Even without the cannon making such a mess of things, he still loved her, for fuck's sake. (Which was enough on its own to make him want to run, the cannon just made it that much more terrifying.) She was the last one he had left. (Which honestly was one of the biggest reasons he wasn't running.) He'd die for her, did once, would again, without hesitation. Destiny may have been the one that put him in the place to do it, but that much, at least, had been by his own choice.

It'd sure as hell be nice if he could get his two sets of his own memories to sync up so part of him didn't feel like she was a stranger, so he could figure out what to do about that cannon, though.

He sighed, wringing out the washcloth that was part of any good traveler's pack he'd used to clean his face. "My head's going to make me go grey before my time," he grumbled under his breath.

Time stopped for a second, something about his words giving him a now-familiar sense of deja vu, and he held still, shooting a mental hand out to try to grab that whisper of a memory that ran past him before it was out of reach.

"This war has made you old, and it hasn't even happened yet."
That earned him a self-deprecating smile. "That's my hair you're seeing."

Like a lot of his older memories, days that pre-dated Zelda and the Champions, he couldn't call to mind the face that went with that voice, not a name, not any real idea who that person had been to him. His statement to whomever that was made him think she was a fellow knight, probably someone he knew before the Sword claimed him. But he'd known a lot of people in the knighthood, so that only narrowed it down to about a hundred.

Next to him, the Sword sat silently, the first thing retrieved from the Slate after he'd reached the Dah Kaso Shrine, followed immediately by his proper clothes and that rag. He studied it silently, wondering if it would be worth the effort of asking her what she knew about that person. He knew she had to know, she had his full memories stored in her own, everything up until that exact moment, and on up until they finally parted ways, just as she had with her previous masters.

But she was so overtaxed when it came to dealing with his brain's rewritten memory recall functions that it probably wouldn't do him any good.

The Sword itself felt like it was tangled up with whatever that memory was- the blade, not the spirit inside it -and that confused him. The metal of the ring that hooked his sleeve to his finger clinked quietly against the hilt of the Sword as he laid his hand on it lightly, trying desperately to pull whatever it was that was stuck in his craw up to where he could look at it and see what it was before it drove him crazy.

When just the contact wasn't enough, he picked it up entirely, holding it by the sheath in his right hand, his left hand wrapping around the hilt and drawing the Sword, just a bit, just until the Triforce mark etched in its surface was visible. Holding the hilt in his left hand should've felt unnatural, especially when he was certain this was one of his own memories and not one of the Hero of Time's he was remembering, but at that exact moment, it didn't, and there was a rising sense of muted panic bubbling up at the back of his mind, more a ghost of the sensation, than the real thing. Whatever exact moment in time he was remembering, he'd been deeply afraid of something, something to do with the Sword, and something to do with the knight whose name he couldn't recall.

"The way I see it, you've two choices."
"Which one of them includes waking up to find out this was a strange dream?"
"I'm afraid neither of them. You can keep quiet, this goes no further than this room, and you take the chance that destiny will be kind and let you stand in a place on the battlefield where that Sword will do anyone any good."
"The other?"
"Or, we could find my superiors, and theirs, and on up until the king knows that the Sword has chosen this generation's knight."
"That'd take me away from the unit."
"It would. And put you where the princess will need you the most. Our fellows, or the princess. And I think you know whose side it is you belong at."

It was only the near-holy respect for the Sword that kept him from tossing it to the ground and recoiling like it was the memory that had just attacked him, and not simply a blade that was an innocent bystander. Slowly, he set it down on the ground in front of him, staring at it like it might bite, or more accurately, that it was telling him a story he didn't want to hear.

Seconds passed as he studied the Sword, unwillingly listening for more to that story, but his memory didn't give him anything more, so he finally surrendered and set the Sword back out of the way so he could change. The chill of being under the shade of a bridge, down next to the water, was starting to bother him and make him want a real shirt and pants.

The memory had chased away his bad mood at least, leaving the strange and increasingly familiar cold lump in his stomach that a lot of his memories left him with when they trickled back. Some of that feeling was just a general discomfort with getting glimpses into his past and not being able to see the rest of the context of whatever he remembered to understand what was going on at the time. Most of those glimpses only left that general discomfort, but some, like that one, felt like there was something important that he wasn't able to remember, compounding the problem. If it was a random and rather mundane memory, nothing that had a huge impact on his life and the turns it took, it'd still drive him nuts, not knowing the rest of it. But when it was something important, it added another level of urgency to remember the rest of it, frustration when he couldn't, and a quiet nagging worry that if he didn't remember it soon, something bad could happen.

He wasn't sure this one was a 'something bad could happen if you don't remember it' memory, but it'd been important to explaining how his life ended up where it was. Knowing those explanations would make some of his quirks that hadn't fully gone away make sense to him, and possibly give him a way to explain them to Zelda if she almost inevitably asked. She was rarely satisfied with a shrug and an "I dunno" in response to questions. On any subject, really. She was a researcher at heart, and disliked mysteries that she couldn't figure out.

Given that her knight and only real remaining friend had been given a complete memory wipe that had changed his behavior enough to probably confuse her sometimes, she was probably frustrated enough by him without having to deal with his idiosyncrasies that couldn't be explained by the amnesia. They would be behavior that she would've already seen, and hadn't been given an explanation for before the answer was dropped down a bottomless pit, possibly never to be seen again. It'd probably be appreciated if at least those questions could be answered with more than that shrug.

But, nothing was forthcoming, not on this issue, so once he was dressed, the Gerudo outfit back in the Slate's inventory, he pulled up his map and stared at it, trying to decide what to do until his eyes stopped looking like he'd spent about an hour crying. If he were smart, he'd head over to the Dueling Peaks Stable via the Ha Dahamar Shrine's travel gate, and clear out the path between there and Hateno while he was killing time. Zumi and Yammo would be going through there tomorrow morning, and Bolson and Karson were possibly already there, and while Bolson and Karson could handle themselves well enough to have gotten up to Tarrey Town in one piece in the first place, Zumi was not only pregnant, but in her first trimester. Link knew very little about everything involved in reproduction after his part would be done, but he knew that most miscarriages were in the first trimester. Which made making sure she wasn't going to be in danger for that last long walk more important than for the construction men.

That meant going through the swamp and plain between the stable and Fort Hateno though, and his brain was already lost in trying to piece together the past, tromping right over his grave wasn't going to be a great idea.

After another sigh, he glanced over his shoulder at the Sword, back in its proper place on his back. "I know I'm probably asking a lot of you right now, but if you could use those filters you had on me yesterday morning, just until I'm past the fort, I'd be grateful."

I will do my best, the Sword said. I cannot promise 100% success this time.

She didn't say her reasons, but Link could pick up on them from her just fine. It wasn't just her in his head, after all. "Yeah, I know, my damn memory's focused there," he said, shaking his head and staring off over the water. It wasn't like yesterday, when it was just noise caused by present going-ons, it was attached to a memory, and whatever it was the Shrine did to his head, it almost out-powered the Sword.

Reluctantly, he decided to chance it. "I have to go through there at some point, though. May as well do it when I have to kill time anyway. Less time I have to be away from home."

I concur that this would be the most efficient use of time. I calculate an 78% chance of success, with that number decreasing the longer you are there.

In other words, don't dawdle.

"Trust me, I don't intend on spending more than about fifteen minutes at most. There's not more than a couple small camps. I've never seen anything stronger there than regular bokoblin." He glanced at the Sword again. "Unless you've seen something I haven't."

I have not observed any monsters more threatening than that, she confirmed.

Well, that more or less committed him. If there'd been more threatening anywhere in there, he'd just go through that night and take care of them then, when he was in a slightly better head space, but with only about a dozen and a half regular bokoblin to contend with, it wasn't going to require an intense level of concentration, nor would it take very long.

He looked back down at the map. The Ha Dahamar Shrine was in the middle of what amounted to a giant puddle, which meant if he went there, he'd either slosh through the water and hope his pants and boots were dried by the time he got to Hateno to not look like a complete mess when he got home, or he'd have to use Revali's Gale to fly up over it.

The other closest option that wouldn't require backtracking was the Ree Dahee Shrine, along the side of the northern peak of Dueling Peaks, a bit back from the Big Twin Bridge.

Option one required either wading through water or using a spell that, while not particularly taxing, seemed like using a sword to do something a knife could do just fine. Option two gave his feet more time to try to grow roots to avoid having to go through the field of dead Guardians.


Spell it was.

Select Ha Dahamar Shrine, hit travel.

Once he'd been reassembled at the shrine and his awareness settled back in, he hooked the Slate back on his hip, took note of who was outside at the stable- he saw Yammo and Zumi both inside, and good that they were in there, he didn't really feel like getting stopped and caught up in any sort of conversation -then popped the paraglider, summoned the updraft, and lifted up into the air, leaning to the left to drop him down on the road just north of the stable.

He gave the Sword a second to start putting those filters he asked for in place, then walked up the path, veering off just before the Kakariko Bridge to follow the road east.

The road had just barely gotten on a straight line, and Link could already tell that the Sword's 78% success rate estimate was pretty on the nose; she had his thoughts redirected from traveling through the memories of the field, but wasn't able to keep his thoughts from looking that way.

He decided to skip fighting the old fashioned way, not willing to chance having his focus too distracted to be safe taking the time to do so, and go straight for chucking bombs at the camps.

When in doubt, blow it up.

Using bombs meant that his 'fifteen minutes' time limit was longer than he actually needed, and he wondered why he hadn't just done that the first time he went through, when he was still working under the weakness caused by the Shrine's total reset on him. Hindsight was perfect, he guessed.

He almost got trapped into a potential conversation when he got to the fort walls, catching sight of Bolson and Karson stopped for either a late lunch or an early dinner at the fire just outside of Doctor Calip's cottage before he'd passed through the gate. He took a sharp right turn to put the fort wall between them and him.

Damnit, he really didn't want to get caught in any sort of conversation. His head just wasn't in the right place to be much use in one.

Back to the map.

There was the Kam Urog Shrine in that little valley just on the other side of the cottage. It opened up easily to the road, and he was certain there weren't any monsters between there and where he currently was.

This was a cheap cheat, he thought, but it was a cheat he was going to abuse, hopping over to the shrine's travel gate.

There. He shouldn't get caught up anywhere after that.

If he'd wanted to be extra cautious, he'd clear out all parts of the road between there and Hateno, including where it looped around pointlessly between the Fir River and Camphor Pond. It'd give more time for his eyes to stop being irritated and red, and eliminate the chances that the people incoming would get hurt if they took the wrong path.

Both reasons were sound enough that he really should follow that loop around. (Why was that even there?)

He desperately wanted to be home, though. His feet were starting to want to grow roots in protest if he kept forcing them to move. And the Sword had already dropped the filters she had been trying to maintain, now that he was away from the swampy field between the stable and the fort walls. That wasn't helping.

Stare at the map a bit more, maybe it'd make his decision for him, or at least convince his feet to be willing to go along with the decision he had already made.

Well, it wasn't that big of a detour, and it wasn't littered with monsters, nothing worse than a few moblins and a small handful of bokoblins, and again, he'd never seen anything tougher than the average varieties of both through there. They wouldn't take long.

It was a little more than the two hours the Sword had given to Zelda as an estimate of when they'd be back when he got to the crossroads that divided the Midla and Ginner Woods. That estimate was given with an 80% chance of being accurate though, so he wasn't so far from that mark that she should be worrying yet.

He ducked into the northern-sitting Ginner Woods to lean back against a tree, enough to catch his mental breath and check that he wasn't going to have to be trying to explain red eyes too much. After staring at his mirror a moment, he decided that the little bit of red at the corners was light enough to be easily passed off as having been just rubbing his eyes, maybe from getting something blown into his face.

Eh, good enough.

In the name of minimizing how many people he potentially had to make that excuse to, he decided to be a cheap cheater again and hopped straight up to the Myahm Agana Shrine. He wasn't sure exactly who was working on the bridge, so he didn't know if Thadd would be at his sometimes manned post of town guard, and he assumed that Seldon would be out front, doing his normal idling about. Best to not chance getting stopped. He never had been before, but that was. Well. Before.

The bridge was blessedly done, and whoever had been working on it had cleared out, which meant that he didn't have to go past anyone to get home. A peek down the hill revealed no signs of Seldon, so Link took a guess that he must've been minding the store for once, if Zelda was over there with Sophie.

She certainly wasn't at the house, he discovered, which suited him fine. It gave him a chance to work on unwinding the spring his head was twisted into before he had to go find out the total for whatever shopping she did that day so he could pay Pruce back for it. And maybe ask him for advice on how to handle the whole money thing in the first place. Just giving Zelda a wallet of her own and throwing rupees into it whenever he needed to go out on his own would probably work most of the time, but that still ran the risk that something would come up that she'd need more than she had. He doubted that it'd happen if he left enough for her, but the townsfolk could only make so much change if all she had were higher value rupees to maximize how much she could carry. And it'd probably take Purah a little while to make a replica Slate for Zelda that had a functioning inventory rune to get around that.

He seemed to recall she had something for this back when they were traveling, but he couldn't remember exactly what it was. Some sort of voucher system, he'd assume. That might work.

Talk to Pruce first. He knew this shit better than Link did.

But before that, get his head reattached to the present, at least enough to function without raising any concerns until he could get home again.

He considered dropping some of his equipment under the stairs, since he wasn't going to be leaving town again, but there was always the chance he'd have to, and if he was that tired of wearing it, that's what the Slate's inventory rune was for.

Speaking of his inventory, while most of what he'd gotten that day was for Zelda, he was going to just go ahead and hide those journals in that little curtained off alcove he was calling a bedroom for another night. He doubted she'd need reason to mess with the Slate's inventory before he could otherwise get them out of there, but he'd put those in the same shopping bag her stuff was in, which meant that he couldn't just toss the bag at her, and she'd find it weird if he drew any attention to trying to remove something from the bag before he gave it to her.

He didn't bother with hiding that makeup he was given for himself, there wasn't really anything but exasperation attached to that. But maybe it was just because his mind was still traveling around the past somewhere, he worried that if she knew he'd bought something to write that history she wanted down in for her, she might get eager for him to get to work on that, and he really didn't want to do that at any pace but his own. She was less likely to be disappointed that he wasn't throwing himself into it as much as she would, if she were in what she perceived was his position. He didn't have the heart to see that sort of disappointment on her face.

Because thinking about that did so much to help his current mood.

Well, may as well just go out and get it over with. If Zelda came back to the house with him when he was done, he could always just bullshit out that he didn't sleep well last night and wanted a nap to get away with hiding under the stairs. It was the closest he had to privacy at the moment, it'd have to do.

Journals hidden, boots changed- he'd managed to find some mud somehow to walk through at some point -and a bit of agitated pacing done, he headed back out, down to Pruce's shop. If Zelda wasn't there, he could settle whatever debts she'd racked up for him, then go across the road to get those clothes to her, since she would be in the company of the person who'd be doing any alterations they needed.

Ivee wasn't at her usual post when he got down to the store, which made him think she must've been one of Zelda's 'ladies,' another likely being Sophie. He had a feeling it was probably just those two right now; chances of Prima leaving the inn for more than an emergency were low, and there were no other women in town that were in Zelda's age range that she'd be already considering friends.

Pruce was in the store, looking bored when Link stepped in. "So how much did she raid your wallet?" he asked in lieu of a normal person's greeting.
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Thursday, March 29th, 2018

The First Official Day As Queen

It was the sunlight streaming through the windows that woke her, along with the sound of birds chittering away on the roof. Normal sounds. Proof of life sounds. Sounds she still marveled at after a hundred years of missing them. Without any sounds of activity coming from downstairs, Zelda was content to remain in bed, eyes closed against the red warmth of the sunbeams on her lids, listening to the birds.

She wasn't going to stay there all day, but just a few more minutes of enjoying the peace. Not quiet, but peace.

After a little bit longer, Zelda reluctantly pushed back the blankets and stood, stretching as she yawned. She looked over the railing down into the common room, and immediately saw what looked to be a note.

Written on napery. Oops. They'd need to get more paper soon.

"Link?" she called out, listening for him. With no response, she made her way downstairs and read the scribbling. "Hmm. All right." She frowned a bit at the part about paying Pruce back. They'd need to figure out how to put rupees in her own pocket if she were to do things like this on a semi-regular basis. Or maybe just make and use royal vouchers as they did in the old days, and Link would go around settling the accounts when the day was over.

She looked out the window toward the bridge, and there was no sign of anyone, not yet. The men must still be tending to their own business, which was fine by her. She needed time to get dressed anyway.

Zelda went back up the stairs and opened the trunk, looking at the meager choices she had. All pants and blouses, mostly identical save for color variations. She put on dark blue pants and a white and blue blouse to go with her new circlet, then sat on the bed to brush out her hair, pulling strands from the front toward the back into a ponytail and braiding it down her back, leaving most of her hair free. Once done, she donned the circlet, then her boots.

Not knowing what time people would show up to work on the bridge, and being hungry at that moment, Zelda tucked the napery note in her pocket then left the house, carefully stepping over the loose planks, and made her way to Pruce's shop.

"Good morning," she said as she entered. "Link's apparently left me to my own devices today, and left me this." She pulled the napery out of her pocket and handed it to Pruce, smiling. "So what's on the menu?"
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