A woman danced before her. It was midday and the desert heat was exhausting, covering the sandy yellow land with rippling heat waves, yet she danced. Her skin shone like tarnished bronze, but not with sweat. Long, blood-red hair whipped about her as she moved. She wore simple white cloth, which contrasted against her cinnamon skin. Each movement seemed to just accent even more her womanly figure. Beautiful. She had never seen such a beautiful sight. But was beautiful the right word for her?
But what music was she dancing too?
The moment she thought it, she heard it: thrumming drums, a keening horn, and rattling zils.
What is your wish?
The woman twirled around and paused to place her eyes upon Zelda. They were the most exotic color and shape that she had ever seen: large, deep amber, and almond shaped. Beautiful.
You know you heard me. I asked you a question. What is your wish? What do you desire most?
She found herself answering and she could feel her own lips moving. This surprised her. She had been unaware of her own physical body, having been so caught up in the dancing of the woman.
The blazing beauty snorted and danced on, flinging her arms into the air as though to caress it. Her full, pink-purple lips smirked up at the tired blue sky and behind it Zelda could see the laughter the woman was holding back.
A common man? Out of all the wonderful things of life you wish for a man? Sweetheart, there’s millions of men in the world. Do you really wish so dearly for something so common place?
“He isn’t common place!” she protested. “He’s special.”
That’s what they all say. But is he really?
And at this she curved her body, carving shapes into the air with her bronze and naked limbs. The sun was terribly bright. What kind of being could dance in this surreal heat without a drop of sweat? It was as though she were a part of the desert herself. Some inner passion seemed to leak out from her and Zelda knew it was this fiery passion that made it so the sun could not reach her. Why not freedom? Why not dance? Why not the ability to find beauty in simply being alive? Why not the endless eternity of the sky? Although this time she seemed to speak this through her dancing, not through the strange voice that echoed all around her and through her head.
Are you really content to sink so low?
There came a loud boom and she awoke with a yelp. Rain pattered on the windows behind the wispy, pale curtains. They matched the coloration for the rest of the room: yellows and pale off whites, with accents of red here and there, such as the couch. Tired, grey light seeped lit the room. It took her a moment to remember what she was doing there in that big four poster bed. When she did she groaned and covered her face with a pillow.
“No, I can’t be awake right now. I don’t want to be awake.”
Had she really gotten married yesterday? Or had that all been some dream? Oh, if only, she thought blithely, feeling the fine gold chain around her neck. The marriage pendent. Married couples exchanged necklaces to signify their union to the other and that necklace was to be taken off only in extreme circumstances. But what she wouldn’t give just to take it off anyways and be done with all of it; be done with Link.
Speaking of Link, she peered over at the couch, but all she could see was its back. She heard no breathing underneath the storm, however, and couldn’t find his boots, so she supposed he was out and fell back into her brooding. She listened idly to the storm and thought it fitting to her mood. Lightning flashed and a boom of thunder rattled the manor. The window panes shuddered beneath the howling wind. Wow, what a storm. It had been so calm last night. Where did it come from?
“…and watched as her corpse floated gently down, oh the dreadful wind and rain! She floated till she came to the miller’s pond, oh the wind and rain. Floated on the water like a golden swan, oh the dreadful wind and rain!”
Link burst through the door, singing happily with his arms full with two trays. He wore a light shirt and pants with, to her chagrin, his ridiculous long green hat. At seeing her peering at him from beneath her pillow he beamed.
“Ah, Princess! You’re awake!”
“What was that dreadful song you were singing?” suddenly realizing how rude she sounded, she caught up with herself by saying, “I mean, it sounds pretty, but what I heard of the lyrics sounded gruesome.”
“There’s a story behind it, actually. It’s called The Song of Storms, or the Wind and Rain, as I like to think of it. I learned it from a, uh, rather disgruntled miller. Appropriate for the weather, don’t you think?” He lifted the trays to her, looking very pleased with himself. “Breakfast? The cook your father sent with us is amazing!”
“Thanks, but…I’m not really hungry.”
“Did you just wake up? That’s probably why. I never feel too hungry after just waking up either.”
No, that wasn’t the reason. The dancing woman still demeaned her in her mind for her wish for Jeremy, and somehow that made the ache in her chest all the more terrible. An appetite seemed like a ridiculous thing at the moment.
“Just come sit over here with me until you feel up to eating.” said Link. “It’s cozy by the fire. We can listen to the storm.”
“I’ll tell you the story of the song if you do. Don’t you want to know?”
“I’m not sure if I do with that one gruesome line. Her corpse?”
“Oh, it’s not all bad.”
“That’s what you said about the last one.” Zelda said, but she pulled off her pillow and sat up to stretch.
“And was it that bad?”
Link bobbed his head and smirked happily. After putting the trays down on the coffee table he ushered her out of bed. Had it been last night she would’ve slapped him for his attempts. But being even partially rejuvenated from sleep her curiosity could still get the better of her. In the end, she allowed him to lead her to the sofa. Once she sat down she was once again thrown off guard when he grabbed a blanket from off the floor and tucked it about her.
“It is a bit chilly. Muffin?”
She shook her head. A piece of her questioned him. What could he be thinking? This was not what she expected of a warrior who had defeated the desert. The memory of the harsh sun came to her mind and she questioned more. She pressed him for the story as he slathered jam over a muffin.
“It’s a rather short one, really.” he said, taking a bite from the muffin and swallowing, leaving a speck of jam on his cheek. “There were two sisters who fell in love with a miller’s son. One was fair while the other was dark—you know, one blond and one with black hair. When it came to light that the miller’s son had chosen the fair one to love, the dark sister grew mad with jealousy and pushed her sister into the river to drown. When her fair sister’s body floated down the river into the miller’s pond, a fiddler came by and was enchanted by her beautiful corpse and used her bones to make a fiddle, and her hair to make a bow. From then on, however, the fiddle would only ever play for him one tune: the Song of Storms.”
“That’s terrible! What kind of story is that?”
He stopped mid-chew to give her another one of his peculiar looks—as though he didn’t know where she had gotten that from.
“I thought a romantical expert like you would understand that love doesn’t always work out.” he said through a mouthful of muffin. Outside another roll of thunder boomed, but it sounded as though it could be farther away.
“That’s not a romance! That’s a tragedy. And what does that have to do with storms anyways?”
He blinked at her as though it should be obvious over his second muffin.
“Well, tell me, what happens when wind meets rainclouds?” he asked.
Zelda couldn’t bring herself to answer, because once more she felt like she was being made a fool of. Instead she tugged on her blanket and frowned. Link waited, but soon sighed and gave in.
“Wind blows the rainclouds away. Figuratively speaking, the wind kills the rain.” he said.
“Just like the two sisters!” she filled in. “But, then…what about the miller’s son?”
Link smiled through a mouthful and pointed up. “The sun. Just like the two sisters, wind and rain both crowd out the sun and this is the beginning of the storm. But when the sun shines upon the rain rather than the wind, the wind grows jealous and blows away the clouds, bringing an end to the storm. That is why it is called The Song of Storms.”
Zelda allowed it to make sense and looked over her shoulder at the windows, where a flash of lightening had occurred. The fire hissed and sizzled as raindrops snuck down the chimney. Wondering idly where the servants were, she reached down and grabbed a muffin. She had already taken three bites when she realized what exactly she was doing and felt disgusted with herself. How could she eat at a time like this? She moved to put the muffin back where it came from and then noticed Link’s face. He wasn’t looking at her, but that wasn’t what attracted her attention. That wild, yet alien spirit she had seen the night before was there again. Whatever he was seeing off in the fireplace, it wasn’t flames. It was a while before Link felt her gaze and glanced back at her. She swiftly looked away, blushing.
“Why do you call me that? Sometimes you call me Zelda, sometimes Princess, make up your mind.”
“It’s because I’m not sure what you want me to call you. Even though I’m your husband now, I still don’t…feel like I’m up to your level. Habit, you know. I’m only use to being a peasant.”
“Peasant?” Something akin to alarm spiked within her at this. “Are you saying you’re a peasant? You’re not even a knight?”
The man threw up his hands towards her, eyes wide. “No! I wasn’t a peasant, I was-was-I was an adventurer! That’s where I’ve gotten these stories from. You can trust me.”
“But where were you born? What were you born as?” She didn’t understand this horror welling within her. So what if he was born a peasant? But that meant he had lied—how could a peasant become a war hero? That was impossible! And how could he speak to her with such nobility and kindness if he were a peasant? Peasants were rough people who lived out their lives in the dirt, farming and working their skin into a crust. Could her father really have married her to a peasant? Someone not even of the same royal blood?
Link’s eyes were shivering as he sat searching for words. From within the V-neck of his shirt she could see his own crystal marriage pendent. Its white silver contrasted with the off-white of his shirt and the sun-kissed gold of his skin. She noticed his fingers clench his knees.
“Princess, I…does it really matter to you so much?”
Before she could think she said, “Yes.” The brief look of pain on his face only gave her satisfaction. Why should she feel guilt for this man who had taken her from Jeremy? And yet a small voice inside her quailed at her coldness.
He bowed his head, hiding his face beneath his hair. It had never occurred to her just how long his hair was. Did he have no sense of style?
“I was born in the forest on a small farm. I…I dreamt of raising an apple orchard, actually.” He chuckled lightly, though it sounded empty and only exemplified his anxiety. “I was raised by my grandparents. My father was killed in battle in the squirmish that started the Desert War. My mother died giving birth to me. As for my station, what I was born as, I can say that my father and grandfather were Hyrulian Knights, and honorable ones at that.” Even though, his head seemed too sink lower. “I’m sorry if you were wanting a nobleman or…or something.”
So this was her husband now: a man little more than a peasant. Though she didn’t know why that bothered her so much. Jeremy himself had been born of a knight as well, but his mother had been a noblewoman at least. Still, this man before her had made something of himself rather than stay where he had been born. Yet why did she feel almost…betrayed?
Zelda stood, folding the blanket over the side of the couch before moving to her trunk for a dress. She had to move. She couldn’t stay still in the midst of this confusion, so might as well get ready for the day. From behind her she heard Link stutter to stop her.
“Please, Princess, I…I’m sorry, I’ve…” he paused. The next time he spoke his voice was low and quiet. “I’ve really screwed up your life, haven’t I?”
Yes budded to the tip of her tongue, but the small piece of her that was ashamed of her actions and hate stepped into the way. She was hardly aware of the dress she pulled out.
“Princess, may I…may I tell you another story?”
“Yes, I find that stories always help me feel better. I want to help you. And to be honest right now I…I don’t know what else to do or say. Hear one more story?”
Even if she wanted to say no, she couldn’t in the face of such a pitiful voice. It was wrong for such a strong, grown man to sound so. Though at the moment she didn’t mind. She too wanted to escape into a story away from her sensation of being cheated and not knowing why exactly she felt that way.
“Yes.” And just to shut up the guilty part of her she added, “I like your stories. They’re nice, even if that last one was a bit gruesome. Just turn around before you start, I want to get dressed.”
Outside the thunder finally came from a flash that had happened long before. The storm was leaving and even the rain seemed to be pattering more lightly. Yet the wind still moaned and hammered at the windowpanes. Its mournful howls reminded her of the dark and jealous girl who had killed her sister. Zelda slipped off her nightgown, feeling every weave of the fine cotton as though her mind had slowed down. Why did she feel so awful? Wronged?
“There was once a young maiden, a servant girl, who was traveling with her mistress along with a large company of soldiers and other servants. At one point the mistress grew tired of travel and ordered the carriage to stop for the night. Camp was set up and the servant girl quickly fell asleep, having walked the whole way. She slept fitfully through the night, hearing noises in the darkness and feeling cold beneath her blankets. When she woke, however, she found to her fright that the whole group had left without her. She was now very much alone, and no matter how much she called she could not find them. After a while, she could not find the path either.
“As the day began to grow old she broke down at the base of a great oak tree and began to cry. Not only was she hungry now, but her poor little feet ached. She felt awfully alone and terrified. How would she ever get home now? She knew that if no one found her, the beasts of the forest would surely devour her.
“Through her sobs she thought she heard someone. She quickly quieted to hear and lifted up her head to see that the voice had come from a white dove that stood between her feet. Between them glimmered a tiny gold key on the ground. ‘There’s a door in this tree that has all you need,’ said the little bird, ‘this is the key to it. I’ve been watching you and I’m so very sorry that you’ve been abandoned. Don’t fear. You’ll be safe inside the tree.’ Before the girl could give her fervent thanks the dove flew off into the darkening forest. At first she couldn’t find any keyhole in the fading daylight. But right as she thought the little birds gift would go to waste she found the key hole and opened a door to a small, cozy room inside the tree. Inside she found a soft bed, a warm fire, a basin to wash up in, and food to eat. She thought she had stepped into a dream. Surely, it had to be a dream. But when she woke up the next morning she discovered all that she had been given the night before was still there. After making herself a breakfast in disbelief, she stepped outside the tree to find the little white dove again. It waited for her in a tree branch with tiny gold keys dangling from its fingers.
“The bird once again spoke to her, greeting her and inquiring how she had slept. At first she was quite alarmed that the bird had not been a dream either. The bird spoke on. ‘These are the keys to some other trees around this one. You’ll find all you could wish in them.’ The young girl’s heart once again filled with gratitude. After the dove dropped the keys in her hands, however, it fluttered away and she was unable to give her thanks.
“This time the trees held clothing—beautiful gowns, in fact. To the girls eyes she had never seen anything so beautiful, only ever having rags to wear her entire life. In another tree she found more food, and in the final and last tree she found treasure: gold, silver, and priceless jewels. She bathed herself and dressed into the simplest gown she could fine, still unused to such finery. Just as she was beginning what to do next with herself the dove reappeared. ‘Is there anything else you are in want of?’ asked the bird. ‘No!’ cried the girl, ‘you’ve given me more than I could ever want! Please, how can I thank you? You have flown away each time before I could appropriately give you my thanks.’
“The bird fluttered down to her knee. ‘There is no need to thank me. You were alone and crying. I wanted to help. But if you do want to thank me, there is something you can do.’ The girl was delighted at this. ‘What is it? Please, I will do anything for you little bird.’
“‘I will point you in a direction and you must travel straight through the forest. After a bit you will fall upon a small cabin. Inside this cabin you will meet an old lady and she will ask why you’ve come, but you must not say a word to her. You must not even acknowledge her, for she is a witch and will cast her spell the moment you do. Go to the back of the cabin to a closet and in this closet you will find an old jewelry chest. Out of this there will be many fine rings, but you must pull out the plain iron ring and bring it back to me. Through all this you must be swift and remember to speak not a word to the witch. Are you sure you wish to do this? It is dangerous.’ But the girl would not be moved. So the dove, pointing her in the direction, bade her thanks and good luck before fluttering off in the same directions. Taking no time to hesitate she took off into the afternoon light.”
Zelda itched to exclaim that the stupid little servant girl had just agreed to rob a poor old lady, but decided to say nothing about it for the moment. Link still held that forlorn expression as he spoke. She sat next to him on the couch and asked him softly to tie her dress, which he did while continuing the story.
“Evening had begun to come and she arrived at the little cabin just as the dove had foretold. So, following the dove’s instructions, she opened the door and entered the cabin. Inside sat a tired looking old hag rocking next to an empty fireplace. As the bird had foretold, the little old lady looked up and greeted her, asking what she needed. The young servant girl did her best to ignore her, going straight to the back to the box of rings. The old woman followed, beseeching after her why she had come. When the girl continued to ignore her the old woman seized her by the gown and cried, ‘This is my house! No one can enter if I choose not to allow it!’ But the girl was still silent and got away from the witch, running to the closet.
She couldn’t hold it in anymore. “Link, what kind of story is this? It’s turning out just as weird as the last one.”
“Shh,” he said, quite softly and kindly as though to a small child. “Let me finish first.”
“But the old woman is being robbed by a stupid little girl, can’t you see that?”
He gave her a pointed look and she sighed. “Fine. Continue.”
“In the closet she found the small box and which was filled with beautiful rings that gleamed and glittered before her eyes. She turned them over and looked for the plain one but somehow could not find it. As she looked she noticed out of the corner of her eyes the old woman stealing away out the door rather than stopping her from searching the rings, taking with her a bird-cage which she had in her hand. Suspicious, she quickly went after her and took the cage from her to find inside a bird holding a plain ring in its bill. As the woman screeched and scratched at her she took the ring and ran joyously back to the trees with it; the angry screams of the witch fading away into the growing darkness. When she reached the trees she stood there, determined to wait for the dove so she could give the ring as a true sign of her thankfulness. Growing tired with the night she leant against one. Suddenly the branches twined around her and were two warm arms. When she looked around, instead of seeing a tree, she saw a handsome man, who embraced and kissed her heartily. ‘You have delivered me from the power of the old woman, who is a wicked witch.’ He said to her, his voice warm with gratitude. ‘She had changed me into a tree, and every day for two hours I was a white dove. So long as she possessed the ring I could not regain my human form.’ Then all at once in a flash his servants and horses, who had likewise been changed into trees, burst back into their original forms as well and stood beside him, for he was in fact a powerful prince. At this he led them forth to his kingdom and married the servant girl and they lived happily ever after.”
However, Zelda was not satisfied.
“Forgive me,” she said, “but again, what kind of story is that? Is that one of those peasant fairytales I hear about? About servants marrying princes and princesses and all that?”
“And why do you suppose it’s a peasant’s story?”
Zelda fiddled with her hair self-consciously, though also annoyed. “Isn’t it obvious? The peasant is showered with gifts and jumps straight into the royal seat without having to do anything. Pure luck. From pauper to prince in a night. Isn’t that the dream of all peasants?”
Link smiled dryly. Their breakfast sat between them nearly forgotten. Feeling fidgety she grabbed a small plate of sausages that had already grown cold and nibbled on them.
“Actually, it is a nobility’s fairytale.”
She choked on a sausage. “What?”
“Isn’t it obvious.” He mimicked quietly. “The servant girl was so easily swayed by earthly comforts and fine things. Once the prince gave them to her she was all his and didn’t even hesitate to break into a old woman’s house, let alone risk her life since the prince had been telling the truth about the witch. Then, once she did what he required, he rewarded her by easily dazzling her away into his castle away from her family without a single complaint from her, all because of a little gold, a soft bed, and a full stomach.” He leaned towards her, eyes shivering once more, yet somehow cooler than the warm, kind gaze he had before. “Isn’t that how most of the nobility see lower class citizens and their own wealth?”
She threw down her plate, suddenly enraged. “How dare you! My father and I are nothing like that! And I know many more that aren’t as well!”
“I said most, Princess.” he said, turning back to the food and keeping his face away from her view. “I meant no offense.”
“Then what did you mean?” she asked, her voice shaking.
“May I ask a question first? Was this man you loved so much noble born?”
“Is that what this story was for then? To try and teach me a lesson? To make me feel guilty? To make me feel awful for being so upset that you, my new husband of all things, were born of lowly peasants?”
She had said it. She had admitted that it had bothered her, and in truth, that she didn’t accept him for it. The words condemned her of being the kind noblemen he had accused her of. She caught her breath and brought her hands to her mouth, rage leaking away to be replaced by fear. But the damage had been done. Link stood.
“Princess, it isn’t just Gerudo you are blinded to by your prejudice.”
Without another word or a glance in her direction he walked out. The snap of the door closing sounded out like a harsh clack. Outside the winds moaning whistled through the cracks in the windows. Somehow, it reminded her of her dream with the beautiful dancing desert woman. Could she have been a Gerudo? She had meant to ask, but now wouldn’t have the chance. She couldn’t face him now. Link really had done nothing wrong to her. For the sake of her lost love and her lost chances she hated him. Hate seemed to be all she could feel in the midst of the awful, aching hole in her chest. No, it wasn’t hate. It was resentment. It was sorrow. It was disappointment. For how could she ever have the happiness and love she desired so badly now that she was married to a man she hardly knew and did not love?
The words of the dancing woman lingered in her mind as Jeremy wandered in with his charming smile, summoned by her throbbing want. She remembered how the dark girl’s amber eyes had flashed with a hidden mockery of her.
Are you really content to sink so low?