Chapter 3:

Runaway

Zelda gazed on as Link methodically dropped levers into place, barely keeping up as his hands flew around the cabin.

Bottom left next?

She mentally slapped herself as the whistle echoed around the Tower of Spirits. Evidently four or five times merely watching someone operate a train wasn't enough experience to actually know what to do herself. Still, it was a fun game, and she'd be lying to say there wasn't something oddly compelling about the confidence Link had as he worked. A certain sureness in his movements that was harder to see at other times.

As the sky opened up, she allowed her attention to be pulled to the tower looming over them. Her eyes drawn to the spinning segments, dancing through the air, twirling and swaying above their heads. One, two, three. Still three layers until they could reach her body. Three more realms to travel. Three layers of being stuck in that armour.

Her thoughts shifted, pushed aside by a cap clad head bobbing beside her own.

She took a second to compose herself, drawing a narrow, subtle breath, "Is something the matter, Link?"

He took his usual second before replying. "I'm great. Well, great may be a bit strong." He paused again. If she really concentrated, Zelda was sure she could see his thoughts etched onto his face. It was…relaxing, in some ways, to talk to Link. He had an odd way of slowing conversation down, always thinking, rather than reacting. It was straight forward. Simple.

"But I was saying how we could go to Castle Town, get some supplies, before we head to the Snow Realm but you didn't hear me," he clutched his left arm, grip tightening with each passing word, "Is there – I mean I was thinking something was on your mind?"

As he looked up to her, concern danced across his face, pulling a smile onto her own.

"I'm fine, honestly," the tower ebbed in the corner of her eyes, "I was just thinking about how many times we'll have to go back into that tower." She sighed, floating down to meet his height, leaning towards him as her voice became a whisper, "I also really hate that garish Phantom armour."

Slowly, he matched her smile. Grip releasing his arm, he allowed his hand to run through his hair, as if forcing his brain to think things through. "But it's so cool, you get to be really tall and strong," he paused, glimmer in his eyes, "I could be even bigger than Alfonzo if I could use that."

She scoffed. "That's only because you've never worn it yourself," her spine tingled at the thought, "It's so stuffy and clanky inside. Plus, I could barely see out of it."

The whistle sounded as he tugged on the chain, long and echoing as it crossed the plains.

Finally, Link spoke up, "That didn't stop you seeing those mice though?"

She flinched at the thought. "No – I mean – Haven't you seen them?" she threw her arms around, trying to find the words but ending up with sputter, "They're horrible little monsters, they can get anywhere! You have to keep an eye on them!"

He simply shrugged, flipping a few more levers. She deflated. Didn't he care? This wasn't fair. What if one had climbed inside the armour, hadn't he considered that. Did he just not get it? He-

She lost her train of thought, interrupted by an oncoming snicker from her short companion. Her mind stopped bouncing, catching a glimpse of the coy smile not so subtly hidden on his face. So he was playing games too was he?

"Wow, how noble of you 'Mr Hero,' bullying an innocent Princess," She mocked crossing her arms. "Anyway, you can't say anything, I distinctly remember you running from those beetles in the Forest Temple."

"That's different!" He spun around to face her, "It's just – look it's not right for something to have that many legs."

Hah, she got him. Wafting her arms around she, in her opinion, perfectly copied his voice, "Ah get it away, get it away, it has sooooo many legs."

He burned up from the corner of her eye. "Oh? So the Princess can act can she?" he took a second, bringing his arms to his chest, before speaking in a voice best described as vaguely like her own "By the Spirits, Link help me there's a small rodent!" He threw his messy hair back, resting his hand on his forehead melodramatically. "I'm only a Princess with a sword bigger than you, I couldn't possibly fight such a small dirty animal."

She laughed, sticking her tongue at him. "Well at least you're better with a sword than at acting, it means I don't have to have to bother myself."

He stuck his tongue back at her, "I'll be sure to let you handle it yourself next time th-"

His words were split as a piercing wail slashed the air.

As it stabbed her ears, Zelda felt the air bury her. Her instincts screamed to move, but even the slightest twitch was like pushing through earth. The whistle screeched again. It sliced around her, cutting out the Train, Link, even her thoughts. All that remained was the wailing whistle. From the corner of her eyes the world was in motion, yet not including her. She was separate, merely an onlooker. Then in the far distance of the imposing hills, they appeared. Barely in focus, clearly unreal, but undoubtedly there and all too familiar. Two chairs, golden and tall, dwarfing the tower that once seemed so huge. Her heart slowed. Her arms demanded she reached for them, but she refused.

With a clatter the world shook, and the chairs vanished. The chug of the train thundered around her as the Spirit Train sprang forwards. Her head flung around until she found Link, draped over levers and gulping down air. He looked up at her, eyes trembling, face as if he was drowning in air. Then, soft and comforting, he spoke

"Sorry Zelda, I was wrong."

It was strange, that something so simple shook her so much. But as his words pierced her, before she really understood what was happening, she resolved to prove him wrong.

Dragging her body through the mud like air, she pushed her head out the cab window. Scanning the tracks behind them, she finally found the source of their torment. Behind them was a train, its face a twisted mesh of metal, gargling flame erupting from every opening. For every second they moved, it travelled two.

Her mind spun right as her head spun left, eyes jumping around the cabin. Shovel, shield, whistle, no matter where she looked her mind came up short. She risked a glance out again, and there it was. Peaking around the gleaming hills, ever so subtle but still there - a branch in the tracks. Her eyes flew to Links.

"Can you get us around that corner?" she pointed ahead, a forcefulness echoing in her voice that she hadn't heard before.

Link twitched, as if her voice woke him. Then, his mind catching up to his body, his gaze turned beyond the cabin, "Not at this speed, we're going way too fast."

"What if we slow down?" she added, flying in front of him.

Link's face shone with confusion. "Then that monster - that thing - will catch us!"

"It'll do that anyway Link!" her arm flung from her side, voice echoing around the cabin "I have to at least try something!"

He paused for a second, looking up at her. As his gaze focused on her, her nerves flared, mind rumbling. Why did she do that? She was supposed to stay calm. Hadn't she learnt anything?

"I can do it."

Link's voice stopped her spiral. As she focused on his eyes, sharp with resolve, he continued. "But I need you to-" he paused, starting over, "Can you watch it? Tell me when it's a train's length from us?"

She nodded, gathering herself and floating up to the cabin window once again. Glancing back, the erupting metal beast had halved the distance. She focused on the tracks, guessing it was still about two trains away.

It inched closer. Five slats left.

The whistle sliced the air again, cutting her nerves. Her mind clouded, the world fading again. It tugged at the corner of her eyes, trying to drag them away. But she refused, eyes glued to the slats between them and the thing.

Four.

Her eyes stung, as if pierced by tiny invisible needles. The screeching whistle demanding her attention.

Three.

Her body went stiff, pressure building on her arms and legs, their weight trying to pull her down.

Two.

She was struck with an odd feeling; one she hadn't felt for a while now. She was cold. The stinging travelling from her eyes down her arms, her legs.

One.

"Now" she yelled, and before the word finished, the Spirit Train jerked. The distance fell instantly. She could barely see any slats now, the train behind them not even a metre away. As the thing inched closer, flames tasting them, the spirit train began to lean.

Her mind barely kept up as events flashed by. A bump rattled the cabin, followed by the wail of metal on wood, cracking and splintering as the two clashed. Then it was gone. The spirit train pulled away, and the thing became a blur as it flung into the distance.

The world returned, colours fading back into existence. Zelda gulped, filling the lungs she didn't realise were empty, and gently fell to the floor. The train slowed around her, quickly coming to a stop – silence spreading around them. A few seconds later, this was accompanied by the soft slump of Link collapsing next to her.

"Zelda?"

"Hmm?"

"That was worse than any beetle."

A brief laugh broke from her, but nothing more was said. Nothing needed to be. As they sat there, enjoying the silence, they both understood. For now, at least, they were safe.


Hello Reader people.

Just wanted to apologise for the lack of updates for this. Who'd have thought a fanfic writer couldn't keep a consistent schedule. I did want to let you know that, while other things get in the way, I have no plans to stop writing this. I also wanted to thank you guys who have followed/reviewed this, always nice to get an email when that happens.

Hope everyone is holding up well (you all know why)