The Legend of Zelda: Heroine of Time
Journey to the Dungeon
They told me I made her cry.
They told me she refused to come out of her chambers for days at a time, she was so upset.
Why didn’t I talk to her?
"What are you doing?" I asked her curiously, looking down, my arms folded on the rail. Judging by the courtyard’s absent ceiling, it was a bright, almost-cloudless summer’s day.
Me? I preferred lightning storms.
Her long brown hair showered her face, shadowing whatever it was that she was messing with.
"Nothing you’re intelligent enough to understand," she said.
She had some nerve…
I smiled, taking it in good humor, though.
"Well then, Wonder Girl, do enlighten me."
"Go away, get a life, and leave me alone," she snapped.
"Oh yes," I laughed. "Because I’m just such an imperfection on your concentration, is that it? You’re starting to sound more and more like me every day."
Why did I give her the cold shoulder, shut her out, and-or mock her, whenever she tried to talk to me?
"Listen, Sheik, I’m…I’m sorry about yesterday. What I did was…it was wrong, I know that…"
She stared at the ground, and bit her lip.
Probably to keep from laughing.
"You find it hard to forgive someone," I said, standing in my chamber doorway, "when you’ve been accused of sexual harassment. You cannot imagine the kind of speech my parents gave me after you waltzed in there, sobbing."
I stepped back, as if to invite her inside, and then slammed the door in her face.
Why did I shut my cat in with her?
I knew she was allergic.
Indeed, I did.
I was heartless, jealous, and overall a waste of oxygen.
"Fifteen archery targets today, mother," she said over dinner, grabbing a bread roll off the platter, "And thirteen high-jumps. Phillip has told me that my time is improving."She glanced at me, smirking, as she finished. "Rapidly."
I rolled my eyes, shook my head in disgust, and returned to my plate.
What a conceited little snip.
"Well, that’s great news, Destiny," my mother exclaimed. "Link and I have always expected the best from you."
"With any luck, I’ll count you as my equal by next week."
She gave a broad grin, and sat up a little straighter.
I was surprised that my fork didn’t snap in two.
I’m not entirely sure, but…I think all of this was meant to make me feel bad. Let’s check…
Do you feel bad?
Glad that’s settled.
It’s not that I didn’t like Destiny.
No, it wasn’t that at all.
In fact, although she ruined my life, brainwashed my parents into thinking I was the adopted child in this deal, practically turned my best friend and the whole kingdom against me, and struck me down whenever I was the slightest bit up, I adored the beautiful, athletic, talented little…
Okay, yeah, I wanted to rip her head off.
"Sheik? Sheik, where are you, darling? You’re going to miss the festivities!"
I was running out of time.
Racing down staircases, hugging the walls, nearly out of breath in a place that I should have felt at ease in. It did not matter that my hair was constantly falling in my eyes – the candles weren’t lit.
I was half-blind already.
"Destiny, if Zeppelin doesn’t murder you, I swear I will."
Destiny was my sister, you see. Well, not…precisely…my sister. More like she had managed to convince just about everyone but me that she actually belonged here.
Like hell she did.
You would see her strutting around the place like she owned it, head held high, knowing that if she snapped her fingers, any servants in the immediate area would roll over and beg like dogs.
Abandon all dignity, who cares?
She came from poverty; from a simple, dull life where she was the dog.
She was adopted into the most powerful family in the kingdom, and she got real arrogant, real quick.
Goddesses, I hate her.
I suppose that for you to even slightly understand what I am ranting on about, you should understand my past, am I right?
…I agree…me ever being right about anything is questionable.
And if I live to see tonight, I shall sleep on it.
But for now…
I remember the archery tournaments as if they were yesterday, because…well…back then…they were all that I had to look forward to. Training twenty-four-seven with my father and the captain of the guards, Phillip, both determined to make something out of me…
They failed, of course.
But they would never admit it.
And once a year, in the first summer month, I would be left completely alone to attend them.
And I did. Why, I’m not entirely sure.
A bunch of older, stronger men, far more athletic than I, showing off for the women in the crowd, who would never so much as willingly blink in my direction…sounds fun, no?
And one of these men wasn’t a man at all, but…to the shock and distaste of the crowd, and my amazement…a simple, fourteen-year-old peasant girl, who…by all social standards…should have been miles away, cooking, or something.
I don’t know…
Whatever it is that women normally do.
This happened to be Destiny Williams of Kakariko Village, Hyrule.
And back home, they called her disgusting.
Disgusting capital, really.
She wouldn’t wear a dress, wouldn’t go anywhere near makeup, ran around playing ball games in a tunic with the boys, wasn’t married, wasn’t even thinking about it…
‘Doesn’t she know her place?’, they would all say.
As a matter of fact, she didn’t.
But she was good.
She was better than good.
She was brilliant.
She could not be beaten.
It was a fact that everyone was forced to accept, no matter how much they didn’t want to.
And I really didn’t want to.
She assumed the expert open stance, her right side facing the target, raised the bow and drew, and then pulled the arrow back sharp against the string.
Standard moves for an archer, yes, except that Destiny had never yet missed a shot.
Kind of appealing…
Pardon me…what the hell am I saying?
On with the explanation, on with the explanation…
A sharp whistle blew, halting the event minutes after it began. Logically, everyone stopped what they were doing to look over, including Destiny, whom the whistle’s owner promptly marched up to.
"Apologies, milady; I am afraid you are not permitted to take part in the tournament."
Her facial expression, which had been pleasant before – only slightly tense from concentration – soon clouded over into one of the most brilliant pre-lightning storms I had ever witnessed.
You don’t say something like that to her.
You just don’t.
"What?" she snarled. "Are you afraid I’m going to embarrass them? What do you have to worry about from a pathetic, frail little girl?"
Then again…unless you’re me…
You don’t say something like that to nobility.
She didn’t seem worried, however.
"Now you listen to me," he said haughtily. "You were cute for a while, but I think that the rest of us respectful folk would like to get on with our lives. You may stand amongst the other commoner scum, or go home. Your husband is probably waiting for you there, anyway. Run along."
She was quick to rejoin.
"You shouldn’t be allowed to stand amongst them. Surely your fat head is blocking their view."
I whistled, impressed.
The crowd was appalled.
What kind of barbarian would raise their child like this?
"She really shouldn’t have said that," Emma Dawood said quietly beside me, cringing. She was a short, timid twelve-year-old, with black hair and brown eyes – the only friend I’d ever had.
"Why?" I whispered. "It’s more entertaining."
Destiny’s eyes were as hard as frozen winter ground, almost silently daring him to challenge her again.
Every other face amongst the tense silence was unreadable.
"Hey!" One of the competitors yelled suddenly, "I’m not going to have to stand around all day, waiting for some kid, am I?"
"Rest assured," replied the nobleman – I believe his name was Raulin. "She will not be a problem much longer."
"Guards, please remove the problem," he commanded.
But they didn’t answer to him, now did they?
The two guards present, stationed where the market ended, and where the path home began, for as long as I can remember (which is all of ten years or so…sparsely rationed…) looked to me for guidance.
And although Emma urged me to say yes so that she wouldn’t be hurt, I told them no.
"Leave her be," I said. "I’m interested."
And they stood where they were.
That was possibly the first time that Destiny realized I existed.
What in hell did I do to deserve that?
"But…your majesty…" The nobleman began, stammering slightly, "The rules state that women-"
"My rule states that you’d best shut up."
Destiny stared at me in admiration.
Because I am not only the prince of Hyrule, but also the king of idiots, I allowed the tournament to continue, with Destiny included.
And because Destiny was included, naturally, Destiny won.
The others hadn’t had a fighting chance.
Score one million and eight for her ego, zero for the rest of us.
And now here comes the part of the story that I expressly wish had been thoroughly edited out.
Sometime during the miserably long, slow years that we were locked up in this place together…not counting now…she told me what had happened next.
Not sure how she got me to listen.
She told me how she’d arrived home at sunset, eager to share this latest victory with her mother.
They could well afford dinner for the next two months.
Take that, etiquette.
Alas…and this part always makes me smile, even though I know I shouldn’t…Kakariko Village was in an uproar. The Williams’ house was on its way to the ground, the result of a stove fire.
Destiny had told her mother time and again not to put the wooden crate so close…but what else was she supposed to use as a counter?
Why must she always be right?
And why can’t I shut up?
I believe the conversation between me and my father went a little something like this…
We stood alone in the narrow hallway encircling the courtyard. Dusk had set in, and at this point, only a dim, mist-like ray of light shined through the windows. Servants wandered about the place, lighting candles and torches, dusting, and whatnot, and after doing so, they would all report downstairs to set about their various pre-dinner tasks.
"It was astounding, father," I recounted, looking at the small stream traveling the outer courtyard. "She was only slightly older than I, maybe the same age, and she out-arched eight full-grown professionals! Can you believe it?"
"You can’t be serious?"
"I can, and I am."
"Interesting," He said, smiling, and his tone showed it. "Send her an invitation to the castle. I would like to meet this friend of yours."
I despise myself.
There was a narrow archway, and four steps, leading down into the hall in which I currently stood, frozen.
She was standing in it.
All I could do was stare at her, silently, and wonder how those sharp, keen forest-green eyes missed me as they roved the shadows.
In the pitch-black darkness that stretched from the bottom of the steps to I-forget-where, I was as good as invisible.
Until she decided to brighten the place up.
Slowly, I began moving backwards, keeping my gaze fixed, and praying that there was utterly nothing in my path that I could trip over.
"Are you down there?"
Any moment – although she had absolutely no reason to believe that I was – she was going to light those candles, I was sure of it.
I had to move faster.
I broke into a run.
And you know what occurred to me then?
Four sound, simple words.
She’d been on her way past the hall, when she heard the loud, reverberating echo of my footsteps.
She paused, perhaps then wondering if she had only imagined it.But by the time she had given her hand a wide sweep, and the candles immediately lit themselves, I was through the door, having welded it shut with my own magic.
My mother’s magic.
"Sheik, Sheik, Sheik," I heard her say amusedly in front of it, "What game are we playing today, hm?"
It’s called 'How-Close-Can-Sheik-Get-To-The-Dungeons-Without-Being-Hexed?' I thought desperately, trying to figure out which way to go next before she burst in. Familiar with it?
Four doors…and the hallway split off into three different directions…
The messenger found her at the orphans’ home, sitting on the floor, next to a straw mattress.
Most of the children there were younger than she was, and she didn’t want a lot to do with them…or with anyone, really.
Neither of her older brothers would take her in.
She was stuck there.
How low have you sunk when your own family doesn’t want you…?
…Never mind that.
"Destiny?" He asked, to confirm it.
She looked up at him, barely registering his presence, "Yes. What?"
"His Highness, Prince Sheik Harkinian, has requested your presence at Hyrule Castle, tomorrow morning. Do you accept?"
At first, she said nothing, hardly daring to believe her ears.
"…Is this some kind of cruel practical joke, by any chance?"
"His Highness has told me that he is serious…"
"He was the one at the tournament, right?" she said, after a few moments of thinking, trying to remember who the hell I was. "Who let me stay in?"
But she was.
"Alright then…I’ll return the favor. Tell him I’ll be there."
The messenger handed over the invitation – Destiny and the other children had never seen a more elaborately-decorated piece of paper in their entire lives –, gave a nod, and was out the door.
Actually, he was ushered out by the matron, who took one look at the royal crest, and was afraid he’d come to arrest someone.
Either the person who designed this place had had just a little too much to drink that night, or they were just incredibly, unnaturally stupid.
Either way, I can assure you that there was no need for this many hallways…
You do get in some good exercise, though.
There’s a plus.
A gust of wind shot through the enclosed space, and suddenly, she appeared in my path.
I had been a fraction of a second away from slamming into her.
The long black gown she sported swept around her feet, dusting the floor – I narrowly avoided stepping on it – and I backed up a few paces, while she advanced. Those soft eyes of hers were so dark, they looked almost as empty and soulless as the person…they frightened me.
As well as millions of others.
Her eyebrows rose slightly, and then she smiled.
It wasn’t a smirk, or a You-Are-So-Dead sadistic grin.
It was just…a calm, pleasant smile.
Her voice reflected it, "I don’t suppose you want to tell me where you were going?"
"Where I was going?" I inquired.
There was no way she was going to stop me.
Unless, of course…torture was involved.
Then I might cave.
"Yes, Sheik, where you were going," she said. "Turn around – we should be headed for the throne room now. I know how long you’ve waited for this…so many years. Three, isn’t it?"
"Things have changed," I explained, trying to walk around her.
She blocked me at every attempt.
"Indeed, they have," She looked around, as if reconfirming that every inch of this castle now belonged to her. "But you have not."
"I…I wanted to visit one last time, before…"
I didn’t finish; she knew what I meant.
"The guards are on their way now, Sheik – it’s too late. Come."
I refused to move.
"I said come, Sheik."
Goddesses, she was intimidating.
Her eyes narrowed sharply – close to slits – when usually around me, they were wide and warm.
Don’t ask me why that thing adored me.
She just did.
"And what if I don’t care to?" I said. "What if I want to miss the festivities?"
"Oh, you heard that, as well?"
I paused for a moment, and then I nodded, "Yes."
"Then why did you not tell me then that you did?"
"Were you hiding from me?"
I shook my head, but again said nothing.
"You are a terrible liar…"
"…then again…what aren’t you terrible at?"
"I am an artist," I said. "And…I have been told that…I am a fairly talented writer."
Again, she smiled, but this one was just a prelude to a laugh, "Really?"
A single, quick nod.
She thought for a moment, looking quite hesitant as she told me, "…I suppose if you are in time for the proceedings, I can allow you five minutes with the traitor."
"Thanks," I said appreciatively.
This was genuine.
"Don’t thank me. Thank her for putting me in a good mood."
"I’ll, um…I’ll tell her that," I said awkwardly.
"I never got to thank you for backing me up out there."
We stood alone in the courtyard, glancing around, and occasionally at each other. Destiny looked absolutely astounded that any place in the kingdom could be so grand – she was too used to the village.
"I wonder why," I replied, though I knew the reason exactly.
Our lives and classes put far too much distance between us.
"Why did you, anyways? You didn’t have to."
"No, I didn’t," I acknowledged. "I don’t have to do much of anything, really. Like I told the guards, I was interested – interested in a girl so unique that she’d dress up like a man, play a man’s sport, and not care what anybody thought of her. I like that, Destiny…I really do."
I gave her a smile, and she returned it.
"You’re not too conventional yourself," she said.
Possibly as much as half an hour later, after many twists and turns, lefts and rights, traps and dead ends, I finally found myself where I wanted to be – the dungeons.
I opened the wood-and-iron door cautiously – this was completely foreign territory; although I had lived in this place all my life, I had never seen it fit to mingle with these kinds of people.
And I still didn’t.
Oh, I don’t know…
Judging by the warm, friendly, inviting looks on their unkempt faces, I’d say that the first thing they probably wanted to do to me was bind my arms and legs together with thick rope.
Then, they wanted to tie me to a wooden pole.
Then, they wanted to set that wooden pole on fire.
And desperately try and put it out with a couple of fans.
I stopped at a particularly dark, sodden, slime-ridden cell near the end of the row, and I smirked as I stared inside.
The person who stared back at me from the wall didn’t return it.
"Royal scum!" One of the nearby prisoners spat.
"Return from whence you came, knave!"
I elected to ignore them…
…Right about the time that the traitor elected to speak to me.
Her long, sleek brown hair had grown out, and was now extremely matted and filthy, not to mention discolored due to malnutrition.
Her eyes had remained the same – a dark, earth-brown.
And her complexion?
Considerably paler from the lack of sunlight.
Her wit had hardly dulled, though.
"I see the Walking Explosion has come to gloat. Eh?"
"Shut it, Destiny, or I shall."