Forever - Part 9

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The Princess and Hero were too late. The Dark Lord had broken free of the Evil Realm through the opening in the Door of Time and continued his reign over Hyrule. The fell wind blew across the kingdom, causing anger and jealousy in all whom it licked with its evil breath, and before long, the country once again succumbed to war as the Princess and Hero lay under the mountain of rubble that was once the Temple of Time. It seemed, yes, the goddesses were angry with them, yes, they were never meant to be. How could a single kiss plunge the land into such darkness? If he had just placed the blade into its pedestal a second earlier…if he had just placed the blade immediately instead of going back for that final kiss…

The King sat upon his royal throne, his bright red robes hanging loosely over his hefty frame. He looked solemn. His long white beard hung to about his chest, and the golden crown that lye upon his head was tilted slightly forward as he looked, eyes closed, at the floor below him. The room was deserted and poorly lit, completely silent except for the sound of his breathing. His men were at war just beyond those walls, his kingdom, his people, refusing to see the light and quarreling amongst themselves as the Dark Lord freely strengthened his empire. He knew that his men were severely outnumbered, as half of his forces were searching for his daughter. She had not been seen for months, and the last to make contact with her was her old nursemaid, Impa.

She had been questioned repeatedly, though she remained adamant that she did not know anything. All she would say was ‘I knew she was up to no good, I told you so. My instincts never lie.' In fact, all he knew for sure was that he was faced with a terrible choice. Call off the search, or the Hylians would surely fall. Already far too much of his people's blood had been spilled, and if things carried on this way his race would be the first to go-- unless he got those other men on the battlefield, it was over. How could this be… The Dark Lord was sealed behind the Door of Time…This land was supposed to be safe…

“Sire!” The door burst open, making the King look up. It was a haggled soldier, clad in armor and looking excited. “We have found her!”

The King suddenly stood. “What! Where! My daughter, is she all right!?”

“We found her under the ruins of the Temple of Time! She seems to be in a comatose state, but she's breathing! Come quickly!” He ushered him out the door, both of them running frantically into the streets of Castle Town.

The town was dark and abandoned. Buildings were in ruin, and debris spilled through the streets. There was not even the slightest sign of life except for the small group of soldiers gathering around where the Temple used to be. “Zelda! Oh Zelda, my darling!” He sprinted as fast as he could with the soldier, stopping in front of the pile.

A couple of soldiers threw aside rock and cement, making themselves and the others cough under the gray sky. Thunder rumbled in the distance, and it smelled of rain. “Hurry up! You three, help them!” He yelled violently to the other three soldiers that stood beside him, watching, and they quickly obeyed. After a few moments she became visible. Her face and hair were white with crushed stone, and she was caked in blood. “Zelda!” The King yelled again, frantically, as the soldiers lifted her from the rubble.

“Oh, Zelda! Quickly, we must take her to the castle! One of you, fetch Impa! She's taken care of her since she was only a small child; she's bound to know something of medicine!” One of the guards nodded, dashing off in the opposite direction as the others carefully carried the princess toward the castle, a frantic king leading the way as fast as his legs would carry him.

Impa sat on a wooden chair in a small room, late in the day. Rain was pelting the castle walls. It had been some time since the guard had retrieved her with the news of the princess being found. She had warmed a tub of water and was preparing to bathe her, removing her bloodstained gown. “Poor little thing,” She said softly, undoing the ties that bound the unconscious girl in her dress, “what a mess you've managed to get yourself into…that father of yours really needs to listen to me, vacations for a lone princess are not a good idea.” She lifted her easily, as she was very fit for her old age, and lowered her carefully into the water. “We'll just get you cleaned up, and then I guess I'd better listen to your father and take you to the Chamber of the Sages… and be bored for the next who knows how long…I wonder if the other Sages hate that place as much as me…”

She sighed, dipping a rag in the water, squeezing it, and beginning to wipe the remainder of the dust and blood from her face. “Foolish girl, you'd think that, being raised by me, you'd have picked up some common sense…” The words were gentle, not spiteful as they usually were. Impa knew deep down that she had come to think of Zelda as her own daughter, and no matter what she said, she cared about her.

“You must have taken a pretty nasty blow from something…” She once again spoke to the unconscious princess as she cleaned a small wound on her head, “I'll have it patched up as soon as I get the rest of you clean…” It was more of a mumble this time as she lathered her hands with soap and moved to wash the powder from her hair.

She sighed as she rinsed it, the golden color returning. “All right, little thing.” She got up, stretched, and lifted her from the tub again, draping her in a towel and laying her upon a small table. The old woman then grabbed some soft pajamas and a fluffy, light blue robe, preparing to dress her once more.

She maneuvered the clothing onto her without much difficulty, but as she moved to pull a sleeve of the robe over her left arm, something caught her eye. Impa stopped in her tracks, slowly lying her back down, never taking her eyes off the girl's finger. She took her hand, stunned. There it was, a diamond ring shimmering beautifully upon one of the princess's delicate fingers.

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