Posted on June 01 2018 by Jarrod Raine
Chapter Eight: Blind Wisdom
Zelda set down her utensils with a loud clink! Were she not so famished, her apetite might have been ruined, but her stomach protested her negligence loudly as she stared across the table, wide-eyed, holding her tongue from saying exactly what she thought of her father’s repeated question.
“I have already explained myself and my proposed solutions to you.” She sat back in her chair, blinking into his wrinkled face and identical green eyes. “Twice.”
“Then do it again, Zelda, because I am trying very hard to understand.”
Are you, though? She sighed heavily. Fine. If he was going to play ignorant, she could play, too. And, ultimately, she did not need his approval. She knew this game of royals. Seventeen years had not left her bereft of strategies of her own.
“We cannot house them here forever. Some of the people in town have offered sanctuary. The Temple in the Great Plateau has offered sanctuary. For the sake of the Goddesses, we are eating in your study because they are sleeping in our dining hall! This isn’t a way to live. Sanctuary is wonderful. They need permanence.”
“And you did not think of this before bringing them here?”
She laughed incredulously, her shoulders bristling beneath the fabric of her dress. “Would you have left them there?!”
“It is not on us to give them permanence. It is the responsibility of Lord Grotto to aid them in building it themselves.”
“Lord Grotto,” she spat, shovelling a rather large piece of meat into her mouth. She took a moment to chew and consider just how stupid her father’s insinuation came off. “We might as well condemn them all.”
“Lord Grotto became aware of the attacks -”
“And did nothing.” Another bite, another stupid statement. Her father was in the pockets of the court, and she fought against the grain. “If he has had a change of heart and now wants so badly to do something, then he can lend personal financing for a new village. Elsewhere.”
He shook his head. “Where should he get this money now that you have taken his citizens?”
“Oh, right, you’re absolutely correct. He’s wanting right now. It will be so hard for him.”
“Maybe his worthless trophy wife could get a job!”
“I hear there’s a need for seamstresses.”
“Enough!” It was the king’s turn to slam down his utensils. She piled a few more bites in with a snarl, like an angry wild animal, staring at the wall near the door and contemplating cutting short this pointless conversation by walking out. “What has gotten into you?”
She barked a loud Hah! “All of you, all of you sit upon your wealth and pretend there is nothing you can do. Yes, a village is expensive. Yes, housing the refugees will take resources, and it will be taxing on the crown, but you know what else is taxing on the crown? Unhappy people.” She returned her fixed stare to her father and sat back once more, arms crossed. “An entire village is burned to the ground, and the nobles, the lords and ladies who are meant to protect them, the crown, all sit back and say, ‘Wish we could help.’ Tell me, Your Majesty, what kind of message does that send?”
“Fine, then where do you expect us to get the labor to build this village? We are having enough trouble feeding everyone, providing security, and balancing the demands of those lords and ladies you hate so much. Explain that.” The king’s level tone hardly served to calm her.
“Labor: I hear there is an entire village worth of survivors needing something to do. Maybe one or two of them are qualified. Food,” she picked up her fork and pointed a large chunk of baked pumpkin in her father’s face, “it isn’t like we lost much on that front. Reallocate what would have gone to Ordon. And stop with the five-course meals around here.” Her stomach grumbled at this. Silently, she told it to hush. She was on a roll. “And if the lords and ladies throw such a fit, use some of the money they personally provide to send more security to protect their restless, fearful people. And improve infrastructure. And keep the people happy. When the people are happy, they are docile. That is a point the court might find favorable.” She hated phrasing it so harshly, and, if she were honest with herself, she momentarily regretted it, but he was getting her point no other way. She had tried kind. She had tried dignity. Now she was just angry. “When the people are docile, their rulers keep their heads. Even you should understand that.”
“I do understand that, but you do not understand how all of this works, Zelda. Has Impa taught you nothing?”
And, there it was. The last of her nerves breaking. The culmination of her frustration with herself and her thick-headed father finally snapped like a fragile thread in her mind, and she stood from the desk.
“She has taught me more than you ever have,” she seethed, teeth clenched. The flood of sorrow, hate, and regret beat against her chest.
“Zelda, sit down.”
“No. You may have time to eat, but I have a village to build. Under my name, to save you the embarrassment and retaliation of your court. But, mark my words,” she thrust her finger against the desk in a pointed manner, “when that crown becomes mine, at least my people will know me to be decisive.” And before he could say anything else stupid or heartless, she stormed out the door and into the library, just as the tears began once more.
Yoro could not help but stew in his own failure. Not anyone else’s. His own. There had been much that he had not expected, and that was on his head, no matter how many times he considered it elsewhere. The strength of the initial Royal Guard escorts, especially the princess’s “advisor,” had been completely unexpected. Had he have known the advisor to be a Sheikah warrior, the original scouting party might have been made sufficient. Or perhaps more stealthy.
Then, there was that boy with the wooden shield, who had stopped him from killing Zelda when it should have been so easy. Some sort of lackluster guard who tired quickly and fought with a blind eye. And apparently held a piece of the Triforce. How was the kid special? Yoro himself had broken the shield, and he was fairly certain he had shattered the arm beneath like a toy, a doll. Yet, according to Yoro’s voice-within-the-walls, the boy now followed that worthless princess around like an equally worthless dog, perfectly healed, perfectly obedient. What part of that made someone worthy of something so coveted?
Two children, two pieces of the Triforce. The goddesses are an absolute joke.
And then came the exploding arrows… Yoro growled, torn between admiration and frustration.
They had burned him, blinded him momentarily, causing struggle as he cast around for his foe’s death or his own escape. Such wonderful, beautiful technology, he had to admit. Who had come up with them? It didn’t matter. He would find them. Or find a way to recreate them. They were extremely useful, and that man who wielded them had driven Yoro back like he was nothing.
And with that thought, he was right back where he started. He stopped pacing for a minute to consider his next steps as he listened to the voices of his defeated camp. None of his troops were happy about the retreat, but none of them lost any faith in him, either. At least he had that going for him. They would need to be more careful next time, especially since Zelda had returned to the castle. He’d need to find a way to get in and kill both her and her father, which would take a great deal of –
“And once you kill the princess, then what?” A voice he did not recognize caught him completely off guard. Yoro spun around to its source and drew his blade. Its polished silver and onyx glimmered in the light of nearby campfires, a menacing greeting to this unwelcome intruder.
The man was an elderly Hylian, to be sure, with gray eyes and a grizzled face like leather. And he wore a beat-up set of plate armor from the Hyrulean Royal Army; it had clearly seen better days. But he had the build and carry of a soldier – large, muscular, formidable and confident. A presence to rival Yoro’s own. A Colonel. Maybe even a General. The broadsword at his back shifted as he adjusted his perch on a large rock just outside Yoro’s tent.
“Who are you?” Yoro demanded, blade unwavering at neck-level. The man barely even seemed to notice the weapon; his eyes were fixed up into Yoro’s face.
“Do you often answer questions with questions?” General. The man absolutely possessed the attitude. His smirk also gave it away.
“Why should I answer you?”
The man rolled his eyes and stood. “Because unlike you, I have a plan on exactly how this should end.”
“And what end might that be?”
The man shook his head. He pressed his palm flat against Yoro’s claymore and pushed it down. For a moment, Yoro hesitated, then lowered the weapon. He wouldn’t sheath it, though. There was no telling who this guy was or what his intentions were.
“The death and downfall of the royal family, of course. I have spent years in service to the crown, fighting wars in the name of the king’s ego. My men and I were sent to die in his stead for far too long. I left on my own accord, not his. Now, I feel I am owed a debt and I wish to collect it.
“Not to mention, his lone heir is a selfish, ignorant child who cowers quickly and hardly deserves the praise and loyalty she is given. She’s completely unprepared, and that servant of hers will fail to teach her what she needs to know to actually be useful. So…” The man glared directly at Yoro now. “Your turn. You also wish to see the royal family gone from the throne, do you not?”
Who are you…? “Have you been following me?”
“You truly are incapable of giving a straight answer, aren’t you?”
Yoro glared back. “Yes, I wish to dethrone the royal family.”
“So we are back to my initial question.” The man sauntered past Yoro, stupidly exposing his back. Yoro considered running him through, yet something about him kept the claymore down and unbloodied.
One of his underlings thought otherwise. The man stopped in his paces as the sound of clanking metal began. The man glanced down at his hand, then whirled around and thrust it forward. Like from thin air, a dagger soared just past Yoro’s face. Yoro watched it in slow motion as it flew and impaled into the neck of one of his Lieutenants, who had begun to draw out his weapon. The dagger slipped between two pieces of armor: the helmet and the chestplate. The Lieutenant froze, gurgling, his hand slipping from his partially drawn weapon, and sank to the ground, dead. Yoro heard the man whisper something about, You’ll find I’m better trained than the average soldier these days. He stared, mouth open in shock, as the man casually examined his nails before chewing one off, like nothing had transpired.
“What will you do once the princess is dead?”
He didn’t have an answer. He really didn’t have words at the moment. For the first time in his life, Yoro realized he had been cornered. This awol Hyrulean General, whoever he was, had snuck into his existence, and would now completely take over, hitting him like the broad side of a battle ax. And Yoro had never seen it coming.
“That’s what I thought,” the man continued. “You don’t know. I, however, do. To overthrow the crown without a plan for the aftermath will only lead to chaos and ruin. But years in service have taught me a great many things. I know the way this land works. I understand the flow of trade, food supply – the heartbeat of the very people resounds within this old chest. I know what makes this country tick and what strings to pull to keep it going. And with me on the throne, we need not worry about that brat and coward of a princess driving Hyrule into the ground.”
Yoro growled, but he found himself finally returning the claymore to his back. “Fine. Let’s talk, then. So let me ask you again: Who are you?”
The man bowed. “My name is Morris.”
“And how are you going to go about this? What allows you to do this in the first place?”
Still bowing, Morris gave a sickening grin. “Let’s just say I have friends in very high places.”
Featured Image by MaskedGolem