Chapter 8

In the depths of Hyrule Castle's dungeons, Link paced in his cell, muttering angrily about Sale and his tricks. Suddenly, there was a stir of noise further down the corridor; footsteps could be heard. Link could faintly hear the voices of distant guards; they sounded odd, excited. A few torches hanging on either wall dimly illuminated the corridor. A moment later, another light joined their glow. Link peered out through the bars of his cell and down the hall. Within a minute or two, the princess stood before his cell door.

"Zel!" Link shouted. "What are you doing down here?"

The princess smiled. "My father sent me here to release you," she said. She pulled out a big ring of keys and jingled them. As she unlocked the door, Link wondered where all the guards had gone. But that didn't matter at the moment. He stepped out and hugged her.

Zelda smiled for a brief moment, and then became serious again. "There's bad news too," she said in a hushed voice.

"What?"

"My father and his advisors are holding a council, to find out what really happened."

"Why's that bad? So long as the king will hear me out now, I can explain everything."

Zelda shook her head. "It won't be that simple. Impa thinks that Sale can get inside people's minds, to manipulate them and make them think whatever he wants them to believe. My father and Impa are highly suspicious of this now, but it won't be easy to prevent it. And besides, it's a case of one person's word against another's. As far as I know, there were no witnesses to what actually occurred."

Link let out a sigh. "Sounds like the odds aren't too much in my favor."

The princess shook her head. "Don't worry Link. We'll figure this out."

The pair turned to leave the dungeons. They passed a group of guards a ways down the hall. 'So she managed to leave them behind,' Link thought. 'For now, that's a good thing. Who knows how many people Sale has turned against me.'

Link and Zelda had soon returned to the throne room. The king and his advisors sat around a table set up in the room's center, talking quietly. Sale stood nearby.

Zelda sighed, "I'm not sure. Maybe there was a witness. We don't know yet. Just go tell the truth. Right now that's all we can do. That, and hope."

The king cleared his throat and silence fell; the doors to the throne room were shut with a groan.

"You all know why we have gathered here," said the king. "It seems as if a battle of sorts took place today, in the very courtyard of this castle. Now, this battle, if battle it was, concerned a quarrel between two men here at the castle. As you all know, such matters, should they come to such extremes as battle, are to brought before the king. Sale, Link, please step forward."

Sale came forward. He wore a new tunic, not torn but still black and traced with gold along the edges and borders of the fabric. Link stepped up as well.

"Sale states that this incident was not a battle, but that when he and Link fell into a disagreement, Link drew his sword and attacked him. However, I feel my previous sentence to Link was unjust and rash. Therefore, I have gathered you all here to decide between these two after we have heard each of their stories. Link, we shall hear your side of the story first."

Link bowed. "Your Highness," he said, "since no guards were present at the time of the disagreement between Sale and I, I have no absolute proof to my words, but, for lack of a better way to put things, Sale has been lying. It is true that, in a moment's anger, I reached for my sword, but I never once drew it. At the same time, I know I have no proof to my claims. All I can tell the council is what I saw. Sale drew his sword and used it on himself. Then, as there were no witnesses aside from myself to say otherwise, he blamed me."

The king nodded and Link stepped back to Zelda's side. "Now, we will hear Sale's side of the story."

Sale stepped up, giving Link an arrogant and overly confident smirk.

"Your Highness," he said with a bow, "You know the story I set before you this afternoon. My plea remains the same. Link and I stood in the courtyard talking and, when I happened to mention my possible engagement to the princess, he became angry. From there, things escalated, Link drew his sword, and cut me before I could get inside."

From her place beside Link, Zelda watched her father and the councilmen closely as Sale finished his story. The king's eyes and those of all his councilmen became glazed and empty for a moment. The king shook his head; the glaze weakened but remained and seemed to work to grow stronger. Zelda stepped up.

"All of you here," she said, "you mustn't believe this claim. Can't you all see? Sale is lying, using magic to make you believe him and manipulating you to fall for his claim. I can see it; some of you may feel it, a confusion of sorts. Most all of you here have known Link for months now. Has he ever once harmed anything other than that which threatened the safety of others?"

The king smiled sadly at his daughter and answered, "My dear, though your statements may be true, you know as well as I, we cannot stand upon here say as evidence."

Zelda opened her mouth to protest, but her father continued.

"I realize that this is what I did by placing Link in the dungeons today. But I see this for the mistake it was and deeply regret it. Nevertheless, the council must have stronger evidence to decide by. And so, this leads me to my next question. Are there any witnesses to the event these two have spoken of?"

Silence fell upon the room. Everyone waited for a short span of time. A throat cleared very quietly and a young maid stepped forward. She curtsied low to the council and her voice was hardly a whisper when she said, "Your Highness, I must admit, I heard about this dispute earlier today; but I was somewhat afraid to come forward. I know I shouldn't be silent though. You see, I went out on a balcony to clean a few carpets today after supper and, as I was working, I happened to notice these men talking in the courtyard below. This man drew a blade," she said pointing to Sale, "and I feared there would be a fight, but he turned his blade upon himself and went back into the castle shortly after."

A murmur spread rapidly over the room. The group turned and looked to Sale for some answer. However, one of the castle guards stepped forward and the attention soon turned to him.

"Your Highness," he said, "I believe I also saw these men in the courtyard this evening. I was not very close to them and so could not see everything. I can only say that, as far as I could see, Link never drew his sword."

The murmur resumed until the king began to speak.

"Well," said the king, "we have heard these two speak; can anyone add anything further?"

This time, the silence went unbroken. Even Sale had no protests to make.

After this, the case was soon decided. Link was free and Sale was forbidden to enter Hyrule ever again. He returned home shortly after. And so, life went on quietly again for a while; but Zelda's eighteenth birthday drew ever nearer and Link continued silent as ever on this subject. Until, one day, he went out into Hyrule Field with Sheik and, some hours later, the princess arrived.

"Well there you two are," she said. "I've been looking for both of you. Sheik, the captain of the guard wants to speak to you for some reason or other that he refuses to tell me."

Sheik got up, threw a meaningful glance at Link, and was quickly gone.

Link, of course, knew his friend's meaning. The subject of the princess and her approaching birthday had come up multiple times that day. Link's resolve was building, slowly but surely. Every day, he saw suitors coming to the castle. And every day, the sight angered him; angered him and scared him. It made him think, what if he lost her, what then?

The princess sat down beside him and, after a moment, he decided; it was now or never.

"Zel?" he said quietly.

"Hmm?" the princess glanced over at him.

"I-I need to ask you something."

Zelda turned to look at him, her full attention now on him. "What?"

"Well, we were talking a few days ago about how…you have to marry soon. To tell the truth, I should have said something then, but I didn't, so, I've got to now. Zel, I'm not rich. I'm not a prince or anything. I don't even have a ring right now. But, the truth is,…I love you and…and I want to ask you…to marry me."

There was a moment's silence and in that moment Link's bravery hit the ground. Zelda's green eyes grew wide and she stared at him for a moment in complete amazement. Then, the next thing he knew, she leaned over and kissed him. But, the kiss was short, as she soon pulled away and exclaimed, full of excitement, "Yes!"

A bright smile grew on the princess' face and the hero couldn't help smiling with her.

Link jumped to his feet and pulled Zelda with him. He picked her up and spun her around, laughing while she squealed in sheer joy. When he set her on her feet again, he expressed his joy in a longer lasting, deeper kiss, before finally sitting down again with a wide grin on his face. When he and Zelda went back to the castle, hand in hand, the words "I told you so," were sure to repeatedly come out of Sheik's mouth. But it was also sure, Link's smile would hardly even lessen, during that day or the days that followed thereafter.

XxX

Epilogue

Zelda's birthday was a crazy, exciting, beautiful, and exhausting day. In the morning, the princess and her hero were finally married. At noon, the king and his family went out to Hyrule Field for a picnic, a grand private celebration of the two joyous occasions that took place that day. And in the evening, the public celebration took place in the form of a ball. The ball lasted a long while and was a large celebration. It was a day that would be remembered for many years to come; and a day Link and Zelda would remember all their lives.