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Chapter 21: The Zora King
Chapter 21: The Zora King
"All right, boys, let's go," Zelda said.
Horace gave the nod to his men, five of them in all, that confirmed Zelda's order. They were expecting a fight that might get ugly. After Agahnim's insidious plot to overturn the kingdom of Hyrule they were taking no chances. Traitors to the kingdom met with the harshest punishment. Horace unfastened his sword from his belt.
"Excellent work, your highness."
"Good you think so," she smirked. "I was afraid that it wouldn't be enough to get your attention." The contempt was clearly evident in her tone. Apparently, Horace chose to ignore it.
"An eyewitness account of treason is enough to lead to an arrest. After that, we'll be able to search his belongings, his documents, and take personal accounts."
"Good. I want to do everything possible to ensure his proper capture and arrest. He may lead us to an even higher authority trying to usurp the throne." She snickered. "And you said I couldn't do it."
"I'm sorry?" Horace asked innocently.
"You said I shouldn't be out there doing my own investigation. You said I should just stick to being a princess in my little castle."
"I never said that. I said that maybe it wasn't a good idea. Investigative work takes a lot of time and patience and you didn't demonstrate either of those during this. Going down into his secret meeting was a spectacular risk. You could have easily been captured, assaulted. I don't know anything about this man in black, but he sounds powerful, possibly supernaturally."
"He doesn't matter. Noktwor will lead us to him and the plot will be unraveled. And I will be the one who brought him down. You should all stop treating me like I'm incapable after this."
They reached the entrance to the basement door and stopped. Horace turned to his men. "All right, we expect resistance so work quick and efficiently. You two move to the right, you two to the left. Keep them surrounded."
"Noktwor is quite devious so be on guard. He may try to pull some magic defense like invisibility, but I'll be ready for that." Zelda had been preparing her magic defenses, in preparation for a sneak attack. "Let's go!" She pulled open the door and the soldiers began filing down the stairs. Horace sighed angrily, looking at Zelda. His expression said what he was thinking, that he was none-too-happy with her trying to usurp his leadership, bark his orders for him. Nonetheless he followed suit down the stairs, getting his sword ready for conflict. Zelda hurried down after him, her heart beating from the thrill of excitement. She was so focused on anticipating what might happen she took no notice that her teeth were clenched together, sweat beginning to form on her brow. She turned the corner of the stairwell wall and found the guards had already distributed around the...
...fallen Noktwor and two thieves.
"What... what..." Zelda stammered.
The table and chairs in the room had disappeared, leaving only the stores behind the fences. Horace bent down to Noktwor's body. He was face down, sprawled out on the floor like he had been squashed with one arm up and one down. His eyes retained the classic dead man's gaze. He flipped him over. There were no stab wounds or discoloration on the throat.
"Not sure of the MO. Probably magic death. Poison, fire, something dark."
Zelda had her hands up to her face, eyes brimming with tears. She had gone from determined woman to scared little girl in an incident. "The man in black. It had to be him."
"Could be," Horace said.
"The same with these two, sir," said one of the guards who was inspecting the other corpses.
"I didn't want him dead," Zelda whispered. "Oh, no, what if he heard me? He heard me and got scared and..."
It came to her in a flash. She was impatient and overbearing. She was so dead-set on solving this mystery by herself she forgot the consequences of her actions.
"You see what I told you?" Horace said. "This is why I thought you should stay back from the investigation. Now we have no leads or clues. This man in black has disappeared and we may never see him again."
"Oh, gods, it is my fault."
"You wanted to prove to everyone you were capable, but no one ever thought you were incapable. It just wasn't the role you were designed to play. I'm sure with training you could, but you can't just jump into something and expect to excel at it."
Her eyes watering, she shook her head. She thought she wanted to be treated as an equal, that other people were trying to keep her down, but she really wanted to be treated as better than them, just like a princess would.
"Not to mention," he continued, "Your own life is now in jeopardy. If the man in black knows it was you spying on him he'll likely be after you. If he isn't already. If he did this to his own men, he has no qualms against killing."
"What am I gonna do? What have I done? I'm so sorry."
"There's nothing to do. We'll inspect the corpses, see if we can find anything on them. But I doubt we will. This guy is thorough."
Zelda put down her hands. "We need Link. His life is danger too. If he wants the kingdom, or the Triforce, he wants Link too."
"Link could be anywhere. Are you gonna go out looking for him?"
Link and Mega Man waved goodbye as the ship began moving down the river again.
"Thanks for the ride," Mega Man exclaimed.
"I hope you find what you're looking for!" Link said.
"Aye, take care of yourselves! All right, men shove off!"
The ship sailed smoothly down the river as the sky began to lighten. The galleon began to fade from the light penetrating the ghostly hull. Soon it had disappeared from whence it came, back into the land of legends and rumors.
"I've never seen ghosts before," Mega Man said. "Were they really there? Or was it an illusion?"
"You talked to them. You tell me," he said as he turned to the swampy landscape.
"Have you ever seen ghosts before?"
"Yes, but those were evil spirits," he said, remembering some of the vapors that emerged from the turned up gravestones. This was neither the time nor place for that discussion though. They had a king to see.
As they started through the swamp, Mega Man said, "I read about the Zoras in one of the Seer's encyclopedias. They were once a peaceful people, no?"
"No one told them that," he said, unbuckling his shield. He trudged through the mushy land, sloshing through ankle-deep water, knowing what path to take. The Zoras were unusually quiet along this part. He had taken a route with as few encounters as possible, but this was a little unusual.
"Zoras are monsters," Link said, running through the land. "Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. They've chucked enough fireballs at me to roast the village. They pop in and out of the water too fast to hit so you just gotta avoid them."
"The book didn't mention a Zora King though."
"Well, he didn't attack me. Here."
They stood in front of a large waterfall. Ahead of them was a grassy patch to stand in front of to summon the Zora King. Link jumped into the water and began swimming up to the island. With a grunt he pulled himself up and looked back at Mega Man.
"What are you waiting for? It's all right, there's no current," he said as he shook himself off.
Mega Man shrugged his shoulders and jumped high in the air, raising his arms. He plummeted into the water and sank like a rock. Link watched him go down into the swampy water, concern rising within him. Small collections of bubbles broke the surface.
Suddenly, he could see him rising back up out of the water, bursting forth from it and landing perfectly beside him.
"No problem," he said.
Link cocked his head and the two turned to the waterfall.
"How does this work?" the blue robot asked.
Several little pools of water began swirling in front of them. Small little tridents poked up out of the water, along with green scaly heads. They were Zoras, emerging out of the water through the whirlpools, pounding their spears up and down. The description in the bestiary volume was true. They had wrinkled green scaly skin and membrane-like fins jutting out. Their mouths drooped downwards like groupers, framed with thick orange lips and two small fangs poking out. Their yellow eyes were slit like a demonic cat and they burbled over and over as they rose up, like a chant.
"What's going on?" Mega Man asked.
"I don't know. I've never seen this before. Be ready for anything."
A large group of Zoras now stood in front of them chanting "Ug-a-wah, ug-a-wah, ug-a-wah, ug-a-wah."
A deep blue shadow began fading in behind the waterfall, getting closer until it burst through the curtain. A gigantic Zora slowly waded out from behind the falls, swaying back and forth as his gigantic berth pushed the water aside.
"ERRAROUGH..." he moaned. Link got a whiff of his fishy breath that was none too pleasant. "Who disturbs my slumber. Some puny humans? I should dip you in butter and snack on you for breakfast."
Mega Man armed his plasma cannon, hoping this guy didn't classify as human either.
"We just want to know something," Link piped up. He had to shout above the roar of the falls just to reach the giant's ears.
"You want my Zora flippers, do you? They don't come cheap. 500 rupees for one set they are."
"No, you already sold me a pair. Remember?"
The Zora King squinted down at Link, his slit pupils peering down into Link's face. "Oh, now I remember. The little guy. Fine then. What do you want?"
"We heard that you hear a lot of things through the waterways. I was-"
"We hear everything in the waterways. We're very knowledgeable about the lands of Hyrule."
"Right, and I was wondering if you'd heard anything about a fourth piece of the Triforce? We want to know if it exists."
"I have heard of such a thing," he nodded.
"You have?" Link said, astonished that someone believed him.
"Indeed, I have been much intrigued by the possibilities of its existence. The stories have been heard by few, but they reach deep in the underground. They began just as the moblins appeared, in fact."
"The moblins?" Link gasped.
"Are you serious?" said Mega Man.
"Do you mean they're connected?" Link asked.
"I heard they may, in fact, already be in possession of it," the king said slyly.
Link shook his head. "No, that's not possible."
"From what I hear, it is."
"It's a piece of the Triforce, the golden power. It's supposed to be the element of unity. They would have used it by now. It wouldn't just be sitting there. Surely it can't be inert."
"I'm just telling you what I heard," he said as he turned his nose away snootily.
"How are they connected? How did the moblins get the Triforce piece? What are they planning to do with it?"
"One question at a time, puny human. I know they are the minions of Ganondorf, a part of his army during the imprisoning war and lethal as any Hylian soldier. But Ganondorf was defeated, correct?"
"Of course," Link said.
"Then something is most strange here. But like any other army, they need a base to operate from. It seems that it would be close to where you would see the largest grouping of them."
"The lost woods!" Link exclaimed.
The Zora King nodded slightly in acknowledgement.
"But that's all the way across the kingdom!"
The fishy emperor sighed. "I suppose you can use this waterway, if you really need to get there right away."
A whirlpool spontaneously formed in front of the Zora King, in between the two rows of smaller guard Zoras.
"Thank you," Link said. He gestured to Mega Man to follow him.
"Is this safe?" he asked.
"Safe enough," he said as he dived in.
Mega Man sighed, "When in Rome... or Hyrule."
Next Chapter: Separation Anxiety