When Zelda is six, her mother is assassinated by the Yiga Clan.
Father tells her the news that night, tears rolling down his face and landing on his beard. His voice breaks as he says, “Your mother has passed away.”
There are no tears pooling in her eyes, no uncontrollable sob crawling up her throat, no urge to scream and curse the heavens.
There are no tears pooling in her eyes, no uncontrollable sob crawling up her throat, no urge to scream and curse the heavens.
Her body prickles, a feeling that starts strong only to fade until she feels nothing. The world around her loses its color, high-pitched ringing in her ears blocking every noise. Her eyes unfocus, gazing down at her lap without really seeing.
She’s so tiny, all of a sudden. Tiny and vulnerable and numb.
She doesn’t get out of bed for three days after that.
The first time she gets out of bed, she almost collapses upon touching the floor.
She’s weak, having not eaten or drunk anything. Father cries upon seeing her up and gives her the fiercest hug she’s ever received. She hugs him back, gripping his robes with the little strength she has left.
She showers, she eats, she walks. She does everything one is supposed to do and feels nothing. During the funeral, she holds her head high, like a member of the royal family is meant to do. Neither she or her father shed a tear while multitudes of their people weep for their queen.
They have been told it was due to illness. It must never be known a Yiga clan member has infiltrated, lest panic spread, and the kingdom is thrown into chaos. The person responsible has escaped, running off into the night and back to their clan. There’s an ongoing investigation on all castle staff, the Sheikah and the king rattled to find a traitor within their midst. Zelda knows none of this aside from the reason given to the public.
The world feels detached, merely a mirage, her brain absent as her body goes on autopilot.
Looking at the weeping people from the balcony, she wonders if it would be better to break down and cry than feel this awful emptiness.
Urbosa comes to visit one day.
She takes one look at Zelda’s empty eyes and gathers her into her arms. She doesn’t know if it’s because Urbosa and Mother were friends, or maybe because she’s missed Urbosa on top of her grief, but as soon as she’s bundled in her arms, Zelda breaks.
Her tiny hands cling to Urbosa for dear life, her whole body shaking as painful sobs escape her throat. She screams until her throat is raw, cries until there are no more tears left. She’s left feeling tired and drained and exhausted.
It’s better than feeling nothing.
A hand is brushing through her hair.
The slow, soothing motions almost lull her back to sleep before she remembers what happened.
Her bedroom is dark, night falling sometime during her nap. They’re on her bed, Zelda’s head nestled on Urbosa’s outstretched legs.
Carefully lifting her head up, Zelda looks at Urbosa, who smiles gently and opens her arms in invitation.
Hesitating only for a second, she clambers onto her lap and curls in on herself. Strong arms wrap around her, one hand continuing the comforting motions on her hair.
“How are you feeling, my little bird?” Urbosa’s voice is gentle, barely louder than a whisper.
How is she feeling? Angry, sad, overwhelmed. She settles for “Tired.”
Urbosa hums. “Then sleep, I will stay here for as long as you need me to,” Zelda nods and lets sleep take her once more.
On her seventh birthday, Father says she needs to begin her training. He says the Calamity will soon appear, just like Mother predicted, and they need to be ready.
And so she does. She prays and prays and prays. Statue after statue, from morning till dawn, standing in freezing water until her small body strains from her efforts.
It’s all useless.
She feels nothing from the goddess. There’s no divine light shining upon her, no otherworldly voice speaking to her.
Mother was supposed to teach her. She was supposed to be her guide, her teacher, her support. But Mother is dead and Father has a kingdom to run, so Zelda has to flounder on her own.
What’s the point? Mother is gone, leaving behind only vague memories and even vaguer instructions. She’s tried everything, from the books in the library written by past royal women to the carvings in the temples crafted by the ancients, and still nothing. Is she doing something wrong? Is she missing some crucial piece of information lost in the pages?
As her search turns up nothing, it becomes clear the issue is not lost information. Is there just something wrong with her?
Is she broken?
It’s the only explanation. All these women speak of the power as if it is a blessing, something that comes easy to them. Something warm and familiar and comforting.
For Zelda, it is nothing but a curse.
Instead of finding warmth, she freezes in springs. Instead of familiarity, she fumbles with the unknown. Instead of comfort, she’s tormented by doubts and what-ifs.
The books say the power is all-encompassing and everything they could want and hope for.
Zelda just wants her mom back.
The boy arrives in the castle a week after her 12th birthday.
The day is a warm one, the sun shining down and painting the throne room in its golden rays. Birds can be heard singing, and the sweet smell of the flower arrangement decorations around them hangs in the air. It’s almost as if the day is rejoicing.
He enters the throne room accompanied by the Captain of the Royal Guard. The boy is tiny, shorter than Zelda, but they seem to be around the same age. There’s a sword in his hands, almost as tall as he is. His hands gripping the hilt are white with strain.
The captain takes a step forward, towards Father and says “Your Majesty, I come bearing news.” He bows.
Father stands from the throne, gaze fixed on the sword carried by the child, eyes wide and mouth set. Zelda stands as well from her mother's throne, where she had been sharing her weekly prayer report, and clasps her hands together. “Would I be right in assuming that is the legendary sword?” Father’s voice is soft, but the echo in the room makes it sound loud.
The captain nods, getting on one knee and bowing his head, the boy hastily following, “Yes, Your Majesty. The Master Sword has been found. It was drawn from its pedestal three nights ago by,” a pause, the briefest hesitation that makes Zelda’s curiosity spike, before continuing “by my son, Link.”
Zelda knows all the legends, has heard them all throughout her life. Really, it would have been harder to not know them. The Sword of Evil’s Bane, crafted by the goddess Hylia herself and strengthened by the first hero, said to have a voice that resonates from within. Seeing it in front of her, just within arm’s reach, Zelda itches to get her hands on it, to study it.
Father grunts, drawing her eyes back to him. He doesn’t look surprised, a look of grim satisfaction present in his face. “I see.” He steps down the stairs, to her surprise. Royals are never meant to go down to the people’s positions. The people are supposed to come closer, not the other way.
He stops a few feet away from the boy-Link, she recalls- and says “Stand, child, and look into my eyes.” her hands tighten their hold. Eye contact is considered rude, what is Father doing?
Link does as commanded, slowly, as if worried his actions are somehow wrong. He raises his head and looks at Father, revealing blue eyes that remind her of the soft glow of Sheikah technology. There’s uncertainty in them, but admirably, there is no fear.
“From now on,” Father begins, “you will be recognized as the hero of Legend. The Master Sword has chosen you, deeming your soul worthy, and further proving the looming threat of the Calamity.” From her spot, Zelda can’t see Father’s expression, she can only hear the determination in his voice hiding the tremor of fear.
To anyone else, it’s unnoticeable, but she’s lived with him all her life. That tremor of fear was present when he told her of Mother’s death.
Father places his hand on Link’s shoulder “You are destined to defeat the Calamity alongside Zelda. Just as she has been preparing with prayer, you shall prepare with knight training. Captain, stand!” The captain does so in one graceful move “From this moment on, young Link is to move to the castle and begin knight training under your command.”
The captain’s eyes widen, and he stammers “But sir, he is just a child! Surely it can wait until he turns 15 at-” Father raises his hand and the captain shuts his mouth, realizing just who he’s speaking to.
“War waits for no one, captain. You should know this better than anyone. Will the Calamity wait until they are ready? Will it hesitate during its rampage at seeing a mother and her child? Will it hesitate upon seeing that the destined heroes are mere fledglings whose childhood was ripped from their hands?” Father’s voice has not risen, and yet, the harsh tone makes Zelda feel every question like a slap to the face.
The captain’s hands clench into fists, gaze dropping respectfully, “No, sire.”
Father sighs, “I understand your pain, Captain. My own daughter is fated to fight an abomination, and I can do nothing to help. If I could, I would take on the Calamity with my bare hands before it touched a single strand on her head.” She can feel tears pooling in her eyes at the protective tone, and bites the inside of her cheek to distract herself.
“But,” he continues, “The goddesses have given us a plan. They have given us the tools to protect our kingdom from ruin. It comes with a cost, yes, but to save the lives of millions of people? The choice is easy, in the end.”
Silence follows his words.
Zelda’s hands ache from her tight hold on her dress, but she can’t let go. The threat of the Calamity is always hanging over her, but never before has she truly grasped the stakes of the situation. Hearing Father put it so bluntly makes the shame over her failed prayers almost drown her. She’s responsible for her people’s safety, but instead of watching over them from her throne making political decisions, she’s meant to stand in the thick of it and face a monster with nothing but a power she can’t unlock.
She looks at Link below her. A boy who’s the same age as her, who stands shorter than her with common clothes, who has no royal blood and no goddess-given powers, who has nothing but the soul of the hero and courage in his eyes.
Who is holding the Master Sword in his hands.
Link has fulfilled his destiny. His weapon has been found, and now all he has to do is train and forge his skills, under a talented teacher who knows the way. A teacher who is also his parent.
In contrast, Zelda stands in her ancestral home, dressed in the finest silk and jewelry in the land, carrying the blood of the goddess within her veins, and with nothing to show for herself.
She has lost her teacher, her mother. She has been praying in the cold waters of the springs for years, voice reaching no one, tears of shame and desperation and frustration burning her face as she implores the heavens to please just tell me what I’m doing wrong, please tell me what's wrong with me, just give me a sign, anything I’m begging you.
And still. She has nothing to show for it.
The shame threatening to drown her turns to anger, filling her veins with fire, burning her body and she wants to scream.
It’s not fair, she thinks, over and over again. It’s not fair, it’s not fair, it’s not fair. She has spent years devoting herself to prayer, spent years hating herself, spent years straining her body, only for this boy to be chosen by his sword the instant he touches it? She’s heard what happens to those unworthy of the sword when they grasp it, how they’re drained of energy until they either let go or die. Yet, he stands in front of her, sword held victoriously in his hands, looking perfectly healthy.
Zelda looks at him, looks at his perfect features, his proud stance, his courageous eyes, and hates him.
She almost gasps, the feeling so strong it knocks the wind out of her. She hates him, she hates him, she hates him, she hates him.
What must he think of her, she wonders. It is no news that she lacks her power. Everyone knows. They’ve heard stories of her years of devoutness, of the nothing they’ve produced. He must think her pathetic, find her lacking in a million different ways compared to him. In the blink of an eye, he’s achieved what she has been chasing for years.
She truly must be broken. The proof stands before her. The princess and the champions are meant to be a team, the princess leading the hero and their companions into battle.
What does it say about her, that she can’t manifest her powers despite her constant piety? She’s unfit to be a ruler, unfit to lead a group when she can’t even lead herself.
The brightness of the day, so sweet and enjoyable before, now only seems to mock her.
She’s missed the rest of the conversation by the time she comes out of her thoughts, but it seems the captain has agreed to follow Father’s orders.
Father is talking to Link again, saying something about making the kingdom proud with his diligence. She bites her tongue.
Father has never praised her devotion. Always saying she can do more and should just try harder.
“You are Hyrule’s last hope Link, the Master Sword has chosen you for a reason. Do not fail.” Link looks at Father with determined eyes, nodding once and holding his head high.
Caught up with her thoughts, Zelda fails to notice the way his legs seem to shake as he walks out with the captain, or the way his nails dig angry red crescents into his skin.
She meets Purah and Robbie when she’s 14.
Having constantly heard about ancient technology throughout her life, she was bound to be curious. From servant gossip to snippets of royal meetings slipping through closed doors, she’s tried to absorb as much as she can. The more she learns, the more her curiosity grows and grows.
She’s always been obsessed with discovering how the world works. From flowers to animals to the heavens. She wants to take it all apart, see all the inner mechanisms that make each unique, and then put it back together to marvel at them. Her diaries are filled with multitudes of observations she’s made through the years, accompanied by sketches of Hylian Retrievers and Silent Princesses.
The discovery of the Divine Beasts and other ancient tech lights a fire unlike anything she’s felt before. They’re massive, created thousands of years ago yet far more advanced than anything she’s ever seen. One is even predicted to have the ability of flight! She wants to spend the rest of her life studying these machines until there’s nothing left to discover, and then she wants to make her own.
It’s not long before she can’t take it anymore. Her training is going nowhere, as always, and she’s become even more distracted with every new discovery. She can’t take the daily monotony and frustrations anymore.
In a bold move, she decides to talk to Impa.
Impa is the royal advisor, the youngest in Hyrulian history at only 18. Despite her young age and short time in office, her wisdom is unparalleled, leading the kingdom into further prosperity. Her sister, Purah, leads the Sheikah research alongside Robbie.
Impa and Zelda are not particularly close, but in their few interactions, Impa has always seemed like a person she’d like to get to know.
She finds Impa walking along the corridors one day, hands shaking behind her back, and practically begs, with her voice breaking as it has taken to doing these days, to at least be allowed to sit in during experiments.
Impa smiles, not seeming surprised in the least, and broadens Zelda’s world.
It doesn’t take long before she becomes obsessed with ancient technology.
Research is safe. Research is reliable. There’s no need for prayers that go unheard, no spiritual devotion needed of her. Only hard, physical, evidence. There are a million different things to do with the tech, a million different experiments she can carry out. Purah and Robbie are there to help her, to guide her.
Working with them is the most fun she’s had in years. They tell her she has a knack for research, they appreciate her input and actually listen to her despite being younger than them. They say her creativity has led to breakthroughs.
For the first time in so long, Zelda feels useful.
Maybe she can’t unlock her divine powers, but this way? This way she can contribute to the cause, she can help to figure out these strange and amazing machines and give her kingdom a fighting chance.
No longer is she dragging down progress, now she’s at the forefront and leading it.
She throws herself into research with abandon.
Whenever her time allows, she can be found chatting with the Sheikah in the labs, observing and occasionally allowed to do small projects of her own alongside Purah and Robbie. Sitting through her prayer duties has never been so stifling.
But it’s okay, she thinks. She would sit through weeks of non-stop praying if only to continue her research.
It wouldn’t be the first time.
Zelda has just turned 16.
Finding the Sheikah Slate and restoring some of its functions has improved her mood a lot.
Impa says she smiles more often these days. Zelda hadn’t noticed, but as she makes her way to the observatory, a small smile on her lips, she realizes it's true.
“Princess Zelda, your father has requested your presence in the sanctum.”
Zelda’s good mood vanishes instantly. She nods and thanks the maid, following her to the sanctum even though she could arrive there with her eyes closed.
The sanctum is as grand as ever, yet looking gloomier than usual thanks to the overcast day. Father is at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the throne, deep in conversation with Impa.
Father takes notice of her first, nodding at Impa, who looks back to meet her eyes and nods as well. Zelda’s curiosity sparks. A tendril of fear wraps around her spine.
“Zelda,” Father says, “it’s time to recruit the champions.”
The world broadens and narrows all at once.
Zelda breathes in. Breathes out. Tries to cling to her multitudes of etiquette lessons. Tries to, effectively, not lose her shit.
Father has assigned him to be her royal knight. She doesn’t need a royal knight, and especially not him. She has enough people judging her all day with silent stares. There’s no need for a personalized one that follows her every move.
At least there’s a silver lining to all of this, as she gets to recruit all the champions on her own, aside from her normal escorts of course. Better than having him around. But the point is, she’ll get to travel on her own and explore the regions by herself. She’ll get a chance to experience her land just like her people have.
Even if recruiting the last champion means obtaining him as a knight. She’ll take her freedom as it comes.
Urbosa is the first champion to be recruited.
Zelda is glad, as Urbosa has remained her mother figure for a long time, fulfilling all the roles Mother can’t as often as she could.
The Gerudo desert is hot, almost unbearably so, but she ignores it. It doesn’t take long to reach the town, where precious water exists and she won’t be sweating so much. Hopefully.
The formal ceremony goes well, Zelda’s still shocked at how serious Urbosa can be, only having experienced her motherly and playful side. Up on her throne, head decorated with the Gerudo chief circlet, Urbosa looks powerful beyond belief, a true leader who would do anything for her people.
Afterwards, during their talk in the desert and subsequent Yiga encounter, Zelda finds a new appreciation for Urbosa’s nicknames. Hearing about mother makes Zelda unbelievably happy, and she knows Urbosa loves talking about her. She’s learned more about who Mother used to be from Urbosa than from Father. Sometimes, Zelda wonders if he just wants to forget her altogether. To erase the painful memories.
Today, on her last day in Gerudo Town, Urbosa proposes they race on sand seals. Zelda is apprehensive at first. She'd rather not spend a day out in the scorching sand trying to control such large animals. Until, Urbosa mentions this being Mother’s favorite activity in the Gerudo desert. Her resolve crumbles and Zelda gives in, already used to the fact that she will most likely spend days getting sand out of everything.
New clothes are leant to her, as well as goggles to protect her eyes. They seem to be a mix of the classic Gerudo style and her own. Zelda can tell it was made just for her, and the knowledge makes her heart warm.
“Ready to get knocked down, little bird?” Urbosa says, sidling up next to her at the start of the course. Zelda scoffs, her competitive nature rising to the challenge.
Urbosa’s sand seal, Felicia, is a beautiful creature, coarse black fur shining under the intense light of the sun. Zelda hopes the poor thing isn’t overheating.
Her own sand seal is a cute pale purple, and much smaller as well. The sand seal trainer said its name is Markus. She wonders if the color of their fur has any effect on their speed. Zelda feels the urge to study rise in her. Later, she amends.
Urbosa is stretching languidly beside her, looking as relaxed as ever. The dry air around them and the intense sun seems to have no effect on her. Zelda’s already soaked with sweat. She feels a surge of irritation rise in her. She won’t make this easy on Urbosa.
They take their positions. A drop of sweat runs down her neck. “GO!” the announcer shouts, and Zelda flies.
Urbosa wins the race.
Zelda isn’t surprised, but the stab of disappointment doesn’t leave her stomach.
“It’s not that funny, Urbosa.” Zelda pouts. Urbosa snorts in response, causing giggles to spill out of Zelda’s own mouth. She tries to stifle them behind her hands, but eventually, it’s too much. The full sound of her laughter spills, and she doesn’t even care that her clothes are most likely filling with sand.
“It’s not that funny, Urbosa.” Zelda pouts. Urbosa snorts in response, causing giggles to spill out of Zelda’s own mouth. She tries to stifle them behind her hands, but eventually it’s too much. The full sound of her laughter spills, and she doesn’t even care that her clothes are most likely filling with sand.
They laugh for a while, eventually falling into each other and feeling safe and warm and content. Zelda needed this. Her time with Urbosa is always filled with joyous moments. With her, Zelda never has to worry about being the Princess of Hyrule first, and a teenager second.
It feels like regaining some of her childhood, even if just a little.
Revali is the second champion to be recruited.
He’s prickly, arrogant, and a downright ass.
It’s obvious he believes he’s earned a spot in their group, and indeed his archery skills are amazing. He’s worked hard to get where he is. Seeing him fail at his signature gale is proof of the dedication he has.
Revali is also honest in his observations of others. It’s clear he knows of Zelda’s power dilemma and that he finds her lacking for it. Yet, there’s also the idea that he doesn’t mean to insult by it. It’s a fact for him, a fact that she’s tried her whole life and has nothing to show, and she’s not less of a person for that in his eyes. It’s almost liberating, to be seen as a failure yet not be judged for it.
It’s almost surprising how quickly the two get along. She spends a few days in Rito Village after the day Revali agrees to be a champion, and Zelda has never had so much fun with a person her age.
Most of their time is spent in the Flight Range, with Revali showing off as she marvels at his skill, wonders how nice it must be to fly. There’s almost a homesickness to that feeling, but she pays it no mind.
Once you get past his defensive layer of indifference, Revali is actually quite fun to be around. His jokes are hilarious, even if she’ll roll her eyes at them lest his ego become any bigger. They swap stories of their childhoods, with Revali making fun of the insane amount of etiquette classes she had ---and still has to-- endure, while Zelda makes fun of the way Revali got into fights almost every day as a hatchling. They tease and prod, knowing they can be relentless and know the other doesn’t mean any ill harm from it. It’s nice, she thinks. She’s never had a friend around her age that she could be this snarky with, this un-princess like. She almost wishes she didn't have to leave.
On her last day in Rito Village, Revali teaches her archery.
The wind is cold against her red cheeks, and the wind howling behind her back makes her ears twitch every now and then. Revali hands her a swallow bow and adjusts her posture.
Revali’s teachings are harsh, critiquing every mistake she makes with no mercy, but Zelda doesn’t mind. She thrives under it, actually. Having someone to tell her exactly what she does wrong and how she can fix it is freeing. There are people in her life who try to advise, but they know far less than she does. “Do this” or “Say that” or even “You’re just not trying hard enough” and more that betray their ignorance. She distrusts those who give such advice, as they have never proved useful to her.
Revali’s teachings are harsh, critiquing every mistake she makes with no mercy, but Zelda doesn’t mind. She thrives under it, actually. Having someone to tell her exactly what she does wrong and how she can fix it is freeing.There are people in her life who try to advise, but they know far less than she does. “Do this” or “Say that” or even “You’re just not trying hard enough” and more that betray their ignorance. She distrusts those who give such advice, as they have never proved useful to her.
But Revali, an archery master who has made this his life, most surely has her trust. There’s no unknown territory in here, just corrections and half hidden compliments that make Zelda grin in a way Father would disapprove of.
“Not bad, Princess,” Revali hums as she hits her third bullseye, “I guess even Hylians can be half decent at archery with Rito teaching.” she scoffs, playfully punching him in the shoulder.
“That was good and you know it. No one’s here to judge you for being soft Rev.” she giggles, using the nickname that had popped up among them sometime during their talks. Revali raises an eyebrow, clearly knowing that Zelda would make fun of him the moment he says one nice word. She blinks her eyes innocently and turns to place the swallow bow down gently, ready for a break. A flash of blue catches her eye.
Revali’s Great Eagle Bow rests on the small table in the hut. It looks as grand and beautiful as ever, a well loved instrument fit for Revali.
An idea pops into her mind. Digging her hand into her coat pocket, she brings out a small piece of blue cloth. It’s a small piece, meant to be a sample to see if she wanted to use this fabric for the champion accessories she’ll eventually make, but now a different purpose arises. Looking back at Revali, she finds him staring at the bottom of the Flight Range with a vacant expression. Good.
Creeping forward she works fast, tying the blue cloth into a pretty bow on the lower limb. Satisfied with the cuteness, she picks it up gently. “Look Revali! I put a bow on your bow!” Revali turns, eyes wide before settling down on her handiwork. His face goes blank.
For the most terrifying moment, Zelda’s afraid she’s messed up horribly. Revali’s bow is precious to him. Just because they have been friendly doesn’t mean she should go around touching his possessions!
Just as she’s about to fervently apologize, Revali’s face clears and he snorts. “That was a terrible joke, Princess.” walking forward, he carefully takes the bow from her hands and looks at the cloth bow more closely. She pouts, panic subsiding. It’s not like his jokes are any better.
Feathers tug at the bow, undoing the first knot, and she’s about to complain about his lack of manners when he chimes up with, “There, now it’s presentable.”
He looks at her, green eyes filled with soft affection.
She wonders if this is the first gift from a friend he’s received.
“Thank you, Zelda.”
Daruk is the third champion to be recruited.
He’s big and warm and loud. He reminds her of Father, but in a warmer, softer light. More like how Father used to be, before Mother’s death.
Goron City is far too hot for her, so Daruk takes to visiting her in the nearby stable while she stays. They talk about several topics, most revolving around their different cultures’ foods. Well, Zelda thinks there are different types of Goron foods. They all are...rocks after all. Daruk brings her a rock roast one day, and it takes all her strength to limit her disgust to a minimum.
Daruk, she comes to realize, loves to make rock puns almost as much as he loves making weird analogies that make little sense yet also somehow work. Zelda finds herself laughing a lot with him too. Her relationship with Daruk is different from what it is with Revali. It’s almost….paternal in nature. She knows she could go to Daruk with any worry and find herself with a motivational speech to lift her spirits and a (terrible) rock roast to fill her stomach. It’s...really really nice. She hadn’t realized how much she missed this feeling.
There is one thing, however that they disagree on.
And, of course, it has to be about him.
Hylia’s chosen hero. He seems to have earned Daruk’s respect, and even the title of honorary brother. Sometimes, Daruk will even call him “Son.”
Zelda bites down on her bitter words when the topic comes up. She likes Daruk. Badmouthing his friend is not the way to go. Daruk seems to understand however, as he brings up the topic less and less each day, choosing to focus on more uplifting subjects, like food and his son.
(Zelda is so, so curious, so she asks. An hour and a half later, she has never regretted her curiosity more. Gorons sure are….interesting people.)
On the last day of her stay, Zelda and Daruk meet on the edge of Death Mountain. The dog he’d saved on the first day has taken residence in the stable, so Daruk refuses to go near it. Zelda doesn’t really mind. She tries to keep her amusement under wraps, but she thinks he catches it a few times. A sheepish grin only forms on his face before steering the topic away.
Right now they’re near the Great Hyrule Forest, a cooler area away from the Mountain. Zelda has just spotted a small budding Silent Princess and is elated. Crouching down next to it she looks back at Daruk with a big smile, “Look! It’s a Silent Princess, isn't it beautiful? Did you know they only grow in the wild? Oh and-” She doesn't notice until she’s thirty minutes in, but she’s gone on another of her long tangents unprompted. Father always looked so disappointed when she did this. Flushing, she stands up from her crouched spot. “I apologize, I didn’t mean to go on for so lo-”
Daruk laughs, startling her and stopping her sentence. “It’s okay princess. There’s no need to stop!” he ruffles his hair, “it’s mighty interesting to learn about more than just the rock roasts around the mountains. Besides, it’s fun seeing how passionate you are, passion is a mighty Goron trait! Fill this old noggin with some knowledge!” Zelda feels close to tears. She bites down on her lower lip to compose herself as she settles down fully next to the tiny plant. Daruk settles down as well, his full attention on her. His eyes are patient and even excited. He really is looking forward to her rambling. Zelda smiles.
“Okay!” She says and she teaches him all that she knows. Daruk never once tells her to stop.
Mipha is the last champion to be recruited
Zelda has seen Mipha before, though only on rare occasions and oftentimes they never got to speak for long. Never shared anything aside from pleasantries. Still, she has always noted that Mipha is quite beautiful, and that beneath her quiet nature lies a strong and fierce warrior. Zelda hopes to see her in action one day. She has always been curious.
Arriving at Zora's Domain is always a treat. It’s such an elegant region, especially at night where everything glows and gives the area a lovely dreamlike feel.
Right now however, it is daytime and Mipha has just spoken some truly heartbreaking words to her brother. Zelda knows the calamity might take lives, could destroy families, but seeing how badly it could splinter one such as Mipha’s and Sidon’s tears at her heart.
Still, Zelda tries to not focus on such sad thoughts. Instead, she begins to ask Mipha about what it feels like to swim up waterfalls. It seems like an impossibility, yet a very exciting and breathtaking one. Mipha in particular seemed to shine ethereally as she exited the water. The urge to take a picture with the Sheikah slate had risen unbidden. Zelda ignored the feeling.
Mipha doesn’t complain about her questions, just listens and answers as clearly as she can. She takes time to process Zelda’s words, thinking hard on the answers before speaking them out loud. Zelda appreciates this.
She sighs contentedly, “It must be fun, to be able to defy gravity in such a way.” Mipha giggles. Zelda can’t help but admit she’s a little jealous of this ability. Going against gravity must feel like an ultimate triumph.
Staring down at the waterfall, she misses the way Mipha’s gaze has become calculating, until-
“What if I showed you?”
Zelda looks back, startled. “What?” is all she can say. Mipha looks nervous for a second, before seeming to come to a resolution.
“What if I showed you?” she repeats, “Tonight, after curfew. I’ll carry you on my back just like with Sidon. It shall be fun!” her hands clasp together, and Zelda can see a slight tremor in them. Mipha is nervous.
Zelda hesitates. Mipha deflates, just a little, but it’s enough to make Zelda blurt out “Won’t I be heavy?” as if that were her only worry.
Mipha perks up “Do not worry, I may look frail but I assure you your weight will be easy for me.” Zelda suddenly feels a bit lightheaded. Mipha sounds very confident and excited, and well. Zelda does want to feel what it’s like to defy gravity….
“Okay!” She grins, bubbles of excitement rising in her stomach at the prospect of tonight.
The walk back to the domain is filled with light chatter and undercutting tension she refuses to acknowledge.
Zelda doesn’t have any swimwear, unfortunately, so her least formal undergarments will have to do. Putting on the white short sleeved shirt and thin white pants, Zelda covers them with her usual exploring gear.
30 minutes after curfew, Mipha arrives excusing her from the guards following Zelda. “She will be safe with me.” Mipha says, and Zelda wholeheartedly believes her.
Once at the waterfall, Zelda begins disrobing. A startled noise stops her, and she looks back to see Mipha. Zelda lets out a startled laugh. Mipha’s fins have all come to cover her face, even her longest head tail. “Princess! You startled me.” her voice is barely above a whisper, and it’s much faster than usual.
Once at the waterfall, Zelda begins disrobing. A startled noise stops her, and she looks back to see Mipha. Zelda lets out a startled laugh. Mipha’s fins have all come to cover her face, even her longest head tail. “Princess! You startled me.” her vice is barely above a whisper, and it’s much faster than usual.
Zelda feels her own cheeks warm, “Oh I uh sorry! I just. Have to change from these clothes, as it would be bad if they got wet…” The atmosphere is awkward, but Mipha nods and turns around. Zelda finishes disrobing, feeling quite vulnerable without her usual clothes. She folds them and places them on a nearby dry rock, hoping they’ll remain so.
The water is cold, she notes with a shiver. Mipha must not the expression on her face as she chuckles. “It’s okay. It’ll get warmer, just submerge yourself, princess.” Zelda gives her a doubtful look, but takes a deep breath and follows the instructions.
Submerging herself doesn’t help. In fact, it's so much worse. Zelda lets out a yelp at the cold biting her skin and almost swallows a mouthful of water.
Submerging herself doesn’t help. In fact it's so much worse. Zelda lets out a yelp at the cold biting her skin and almost swallows a mouthful of water.
“Mipha h-ho-how do you st-tand this!,” her teeth chatter, and she hugs herself for warmth. Then, hands are on her shoulders, rubbing down the length of her arm and then back up. Zelda’s breath stops.
Mipha’s hands are rough, the scales digging into Zelda’s skin at times, but not unpleasantly so. The chill in her body leaves little by little, until the shivering stops. “Better?” Mipha asks quietly. Zelda remembers to breathe. Nods.
The soft smile on Mipha’s face completes the warmth in her body, “I’m glad! Please, wrap your arms around my neck. Keep your legs closed and slightly lifted. Whatever you do, don't let go of me.” her smile turns into a grin, “Feel free to squeeze as much as you need. I’m not as delicate as I look.”
Zelda gulps, but does as told. Her chest presses against Mipha’s back, and she can feel the strong muscles working under her scales. Her cheeks warm even further. How did she find the water so cold before?
“Ready!” Zelda says, and hangs on for dear life.
Mipha moves, quick as lightning, her powerful muscles pushing forward. Zelda gasps and clings tighter. The waterfall in front of them becomes bigger and looks impossibly tall. For a split second, she feels the urge to let go, to be safe, to not take risks. Then Mipha is swimming up and all her doubts disappear.
For Zelda, defying gravity feels like this; warm and scaly and fast. There are butterflies in her stomach, some from the abrupt change in force, some from the proximity to Mipha. It’s overwhelming and frightening and amazing.
Her eyes are closed, the only sound around her the thundering echoes of the waterfall and of water breaking as Mipha swims. Her back is cold, the thin clothes she wears cling to her desperately as the water falls on her. Her arms tremble from the force of holding on, but it’s okay. She’s not letting go any time soon.
Mipha’s head fin lightly smacks against her back every now and then, and she feels the urge to laugh rise within her each time. Defying gravity is amazing, and terrifying, and bewildering, but all Zelda can focus on is the point where her body and Mipha’s meet.
At last, Mipha makes one last move, breaking out from the waterfall in a jump that makes Zelda’s stomach flip. Mipha brings up her arms, and in a complicated maneuver, twists Zelda’s body so she's now being held in a princess style.
Mipha lands, but it seems Zelda’s weight has finally taken a toll as she slips back and falls. Zelda grunts, disentangling her hands from Mipha’s neck and shooting them out to avoid crushing Mipha. She groans, but it trails off into a laugh that Zelda can’t help but join.
“How was it, Princess?” Mipha asks between bouts of laughter, and Zelda laughs harder.
“It was…” a breath, she calms down, just enough that only occasional giggles spill out “marvelous.” she manages, voice full of wonder and adrenaline.
Mipha sits up, and it’s only then that Zelda realizes she’s sitting on Mipha’s lap, Mipha’s arms still securely around her waist. Mipha seems to notice as well, as she hurriedly drops her hold. Zelda buries her disappointment and moves away, settling down on the grass next to Mipha.
They’re both silent for a moment, recovering from their bouts of laughter and the adrenaline pumping in their veins.
The night air is cold on Zelda, making her shiver, but it’s okay. She’s impossibly warm inside, the events that just happened running on repeat in her mind.
With courage that’s often missing, Zelda looks at Mipha and says “Thank you, Mipha. That was an experience I will never forget.”
The blinding grin (filled with sharp pointy teeth that has her heart skipping a beat) Mipha offers in return is more than enough reward in her eyes.
Taking her hands in her own, Mipha says “It is my pleasure.” and squeezes her hand.
Tomorrow is the official ceremony for the champions. The official ceremony that will mark the beginning of the end. Zelda is terrified, but excited.
She’s in her room in the castle. The fire in her hearth and the moon’s beams spilling from the windows the only light around her. There are five garments laid on her bed in front of her. Garments created by her own hand to give to the champions. Looking at them now, she feels proud of herself, this project having taken her a few months. The garments are of the highest quality, the same shade of blue as the bow she had tied on Revali’s bow, what feels like so long ago.
A new skirt with Van Naboris’ emblem for Urbosa.
A long scarf with Vah Medoh’s emblem for Revali.
A thick wrap with Vah Rudania’s emblem for Daruk.
An elegant sash with Vah Ruta’s emblem for Mipha.
And…. the tunic made for Hylia’s chosen hero.
Giving them one last critical once over, Zelda sighs and goes to put them on her desk, folded neatly.
Tomorrow, the ceremony that will mark the start of the journey begins. Tomorrow, all four champions will meet for the first time. Tomorrow, the pressure on her back will become astronomical.
After this, in a few months, Zelda and the knight will go on a journey with the other champions. A journey orchestrated by her father so they can bond and become unstoppable as a team. Zelda thinks it’s just another of his ploys to seem competent to the people, to seem like he can do something against a war he has no idea when it will come and that has to be fought by children. She understands the pressure he faces as king, but she wishes he would at least talk to her instead of making all these plans on his own.
Sighing deeply, Zelda gets ready for bed. Tossing these thoughts in her head only makes her even more exhausted.
Tomorrow, a new chapter of her life will begin. Zelda hopes its end is a good one, for the sake of Hyrule.
Slipping into the arms of sleep, Zelda dreams of harsh pink flashes and the outline of a woman haloed by cold golden light.