Chapter 7

Captain Zennel sat in the courtyard in front of the Twilight Palace. His first few days were as he expected. There were some traditional passing of command ceremonies, followed by learning the protocols and procedures of the Palace Guard. It was very different from his days as a Raider. The Palace Guard primarily performed perimeter patrols, and prepared for engagements by controlling choke points in the castle. Raiders were an assault force. The operations that Zennel had previously been a part of had been offensive in nature. The Palace Guard was entirely concerned with defense though.

Zennel found the best place for him was just outside the castle. The courtyard offered fresh air and a view of the sky. There were the only things that resembled the woods were the captain grew up.

There was a mystical facet about the courtyard. A rock outcropping jutted out from the south boarder of the courtyard. There was a circular rune that glowed constantly. Zennel had taken a quick look at it, but the things that he described as 'mystical, superstitious, mumbo, jumbo' were of little concern to him. He preferred to leave that stuff to the mages and wizards that resided in the land.

Currently Zennel was sitting on a bench with a sharpening stone, maintaining his tomahawk. There were blacksmiths in Sunset City that could have easily done it, and there was an armorer in the barracks near the palace that was certainly more qualified. Zennel however was used to do this himself. Raiders didn't always have the same resources as regular infantry.

As Zennel finished sharpening his weapon a bright circle appeared in the air to the south of the courtyard. The circle shone brighter than any of the stars in the perpetual twilit sky. A walkway to emerge from the circle, and it extended toward the rune that was atop the cliff. Both the circle and the walkway were covered in the same symbols as the rune.

The whole spectacle made Zennel worry. He ran toward the scene, his tomahawk in his hand ready to fight. Thankfully the others in the courtyard were too scared to approach. Though a few of them were on their knees praying. Zennel arrived, and waited.

It came a few moments later. A hooded figure wearing armor, and armed with a saber on his back came through. He had pale skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes. He looked like an assassin, and that meant he was dangerous.

Link came through the portal and quickly looked around. Just like when he first came through, he was in front of the Palace of Twilight. Unlike last time though there were people here, removing the creepy sense of abandonment that permeated Link's first trip into the Twilight Realm. The idea that the Twili had returned to their former glory was pleasant. There was only one thing that Link didn't like, and it was the man with the tomahawk standing in front of him with a very serious look in his brown eyes.

"Drop your weapon." the man demanded clearly to Link.

"I am not here to fight. I am here to see Princess Midna." Link said calmly.

"I won't allow that. Drop your weapon!" the main said again.

Link started to advance toward the man. He was pissed off and armed, but that did not intimidate Link. "I'm not a threat to the Twili, but I will be seeing the princess."

"STOP!" he yelled "If you take one more step while armed, I will treat it as a hostile incursion into our sovereign land."

Link called this man bluff and took another step. The man was not bluffing though and with lighting quick response, swung his tomahawk at Link. Link was prepared though and unleashed a Mortal Draw to counter attack. The two weapons impacted against each other, sending vibrations up the arms of both men. Link was surprised, because the Mortal Draw was usually fast enough to defeat the attack of any given opponent, and this time it was not. Link judged that the other man was equally surprised judging by the shock look in his eyes.

Link brought his right knee up into the long haired man's gut to break the stalemate. The man backed up and gave a flashy twirl of the tomahawk. He didn't hesitate any more though and unleashed another flurry of slashes to Link abdomen. Link step back out of range and stabbed with his saber, causing the stranger to back off the rock they were standing on, and into the courtyard. Link didn't follow him into the wider area. The more open nature of the courtyard would allow the man to use his lighter armor and agility to gain the upper hand.

"What? Tired?" asked the man.

"No. Just trying to get around you." Link stated.

"No one sees the Princess without my say so."

The man ran back at Link. Link leap into a swinging jump attack. The two combatants locked their weapons against each other once more. And once again they back away.

"Who are you?" the man with the tomahawk asked.

Link pulled the hood on hid tunic down. "My name is Link. I'm from the Kingdom of Hyrule. I am here to open relations between our lands."

"And yet you can armed, ready for a fight, with no diplomat to do the talking?"

The man planted his feet to get ready for another attack. "Captain Zennel. Halt at once." A voice projected over the courtyard.

Link and everyone else turned to face the sound, and Link saw her. Midna was standing at the top of a flight of stairs with four palace guards behind her. The Princess's regal elegance seemingly stunning everyone who could see her. "The man before you is an honored hero who assisted me in slaying Zant. You should treat him with more respect."

"Midna…" Link trailed off with exasperation.

A sound came from behind Link as Rusl and Zelda materialized atop the rune.

Midna continued. "His companions that have just arrived are also to be treated with the upmost respect. The woman is a ruler as well, and killing her will invite only trouble."

The man whose name was Zennel holstered his tomahawk and bowed his head. "Yes my lady."

Midna walked down the steps, and across the courtyard. She walked past the Captain and up to the trio from Hyrule. She threw out her arms in a grandiose manner. "Welcome my friends to the Palace of Twilight, and my Kingdom."

Zelda, Link and Rusl bowed their heads respectfully. Zelda responded. "We are honored to be here Your Majesty."

Midna approached them and casually brushed her fingers against Link's hand. "I'm glad you're here." Midna said to him.

"I happy to see you again." Link said with the biggest smile on his face.

The Ballroom was packed with servants, officials, and some of the wealthier or more influential citizens of Sunset City. Link and Zennel's initial scuffle was written off as hot air and misunderstanding, and the announcement that visitor from the Light Realm had arrived was greeted with a mixture of excitement and suspicion. In response, Midna had done the most sensible thing she could do. She threw a ball. With all of the visiting councilmen still in town, and the additional guard to ensure a level of protection for both the Hyrulian's and Twili. Link suspected that a party was also good because no one turns down a free lunch.

Link stood with Rusl and Zennel. The three were the only soldiers there who were not part of the rank and file, and thus not stuck on guard duty (officially). The three watched their two respective leaders chat with various individuals about the room. They were all concerned about safety. Rusl and Link thought that any random Twili could attack over the fear of invasion. Zennel was worried any random Twili would attack Midna over her not imprisoning the visitors from Hyrule.

"The three men in orange robes over by the h'orderves table." Rusl said. "They have been eyeing us and the Princess's for a while know."

"I don't like them much as well." Link responded. "And I worry that I don't see any weapons. Poison?"

Zennel started to laugh boisterously. "That just made my night. You guys think that Onis and his brothers are a threat."

"What? You know something." Rusl asked.

"Yeah. Onis, the big guy in the middle, tried to romance Princess Midna a few weeks ago. She didn't go for it. He's staring at me specifically because Councilman Kaz and Advisor Bindur tried to create an opportunity for me to have a similar chance."

"So are you two…?" Link trailed off with a slight bit of jealousy.

"Goddesses no." Zennel stated firmly. "She's not receptive to attempts at courtship at this point in time, and I have no desire to make them. It was political maneuvering by others."

"Good." Link said under his breath.

"What did you say?" Zennel asked.

"It's good they aren't a threat." Link recovered.

Eventually Zennel left to get more fresh air, stating he trusted his guards to protect everyone. Rusl leaned forward to speak with Link when he left. "Onis isn't the only one who has been staring at Midna all night."

"What do you mean?" Link asked.

Rusl grinned. "You told me of your adventures. You told me fondly of a woman who helped you. People grow close in conflict. Judging by that smile on your face whenever you look at her, she is the woman who you talked about."


Rusl cocked his head and scratched his face, waiting for an explanation.

"Your right." Link eventually conceded, hanging his head.

Rusl put his hand on links shoulder. "Emotions are nothing to be ashamed of. Especially love."

"Whoa. I didn't say anything about love." Link said, putting a hand up.

Rusl laughed. "All right. I'm not gonna put words in your mouth. But you need to tell her something."

Link rolled his head. He knew that Rusl was right to a degree. He needed to tell Midna something. He wanted to be with Midna. Zennel had just told them that she wasn't ready to move into any sort of romantic relationship. Link couldn't blame her, she was a princess trying to get a kingdom back on its feet. That was a tall order. Link decided that he hadn't thought his emotions through as much as he had thought he had.

"I need some air as well." Link said and walked to a doorway leading out of the ball room.

Link stood on a balcony that looked north toward a lake just outside Sunset City. The setup of the town was different than that of Castle Town in Hyrule. Where Castle town was a square, with neat angles that were all based around a circular central market, Sunset City had a some main roads that went about two-thirds of the way into the town before breaking up into dozens of little streets and alleyways. It was still a magnificent sight though.

There was no one else on the balcony, and that allowed Link to fall deep into thought about where he stood with Midna. He had hoped that she would be willing to talk about them, but it appeared that her duties as princess were more important than anything else, including him. Link couldn't bring himself to blame her, he had spent the past three months trying to keep Hyrule safe instead of trying to find a way into the Twilight Realm. He wanted things to be different going forward.

Link continued to look out over the town when he heard foot steps behind him. "Hello again Link."

Link turned and saw Midna. She was dressed in another reveling black dress that was low cut and revealed her belly. A long but up the side of dress allowed her right leg to be seen as she walked. Red accented trim matched the crimson iris of her yellow eyes. A gold tiara sat in her fiery orange hair, which was tied in a ponytail over her shoulder. Once again, Link was left speechless.

Midna smiled at him. "Good to know my natural form still has that effect on you."

"I'm sorry." Link recovered. "I just thought that you would be in the party still."

"No. Most guest are more interested in talking to Zelda and opening up some level of diplomatic and trade relations in order to increase the standing of their own province. Twili politics are extremely competitive, and since you aren't invading, it's a race to get as much money as possible. So no one is really interested in me." Midna explained.

"I'm sure that's not true. Half the men were staring at you. Zennel said something about suitors attempting to woo you." Link said, trying to get her side.

"Oh goddesses. Lilyan, one of my advisors, wants to marry me off to make me a queen and establish the power of the royalty. I'm just not interested in any one who has come forward thus far. None of them have stacked up." Midna stated, as she walked to the railing next to Link and looked out.

"Good." Link said absentmindedly.

"What do you mean?"

"Um…" Link stared at her. He didn't think that comment through. "It's just, uh…"

"Go one…" Midna said leadingly, while teasing Link.

The ranger decided that it was as good a time as ever to admit what was going through his. "After we defeated Zant and Ganondorf, I wanted to talk to you."

"About what?" the princess asked.

"About us. About what we were going to do next. How I could help." Link listed. "We were close at the end, and I didn't want to lose you. I wanted to be with you more." Link admitted and averted his gaze.

"Link…" she said. Midna wanted that as well. She felt ever since she had broken the mirror that she was missing something. She had not enjoyed work as much. She hated the advances by the bachelors in the kingdom. When she was honest with herself, she could admit that she had missed link more than anyone, and missed the sense of adventure, danger, and purpose as well. Midna knew now that she needed to tell him all of these things.

She grabbed his hand. "Come with me." She demanded. "There's something I want to show you."

A/N: I know exactly how I am going to end this story. I still want to get this done by the end of the year, but I made a last minute editing decision that might push it out a few day. It is an acceptable loss though as I felt my previous plan was inferior to my new plan. hopefully it will net me some more positive reviews. Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed, and happy new year to you all.