Chapter 27 – Honoring the Fallen

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The shower was helpful. It eased Link’s mind and calmed him. It couldn’t wash away the memory of everyone who had died in the last eight hours. Being alone with so much on his mind was driving him mad. How could they move forward? The kingdom was under siege and they had no monarch to govern. It was something of a testament to how strong Roslin’s resolve was; able to carry on–or even simply function–after so heavy a blow.

Carefully, the Lieutenant pushed it all away and tried to let his mind go blank. There was nothing he could do in that moment. There was no point in struggling with it while he was naked under the spray of the water. The world would continue on in one fashion or another, but not until after he finished his shower. Everything else was on hold.

When the world was clean and smelled fresh again, Link emerged from the shower, dried off, and tried on his new uniform. Were the circumstances different, he would have groused or made some comment about it being the deep forest green it was. But it didn’t feel right disrespecting it. Not now. Zelda had put her faith in him, as had so many. How could he put down the very symbol of what he was expected to be? He was supposed to be ‘the hero of men’.

The uniform fit remarkably well.

“It suits you.” Roslin said

She caught him as he returned to the locker room, now fully dressed. She wore a uniform not unlike his, though a different color. It was mostly a dark, rich grey with a deep blue stripe running up the left side. Similar stripes ran down the arms from the shoulder. The Hyrule royal crest was embroidered on the left breast of the garment. Beneath it was the callsign ‘Wingloft 1’. Apparently today wasn’t the first time she’d intended to fly.

Link looked over the clothes and nodded, “Guess it took a little convincing before I caught on. Just wish it hadn’t taken so long. Maybe I could have done more if I wasn’t so self-conscious about it all.”

“I wouldn’t worry about that right now.” Roslin said.

Link wanted to thank her for the dismissal of such self-deprecating thoughts, but there were more important issues to address, “You said we needed to talk?”

“Yes, we do, but there are a couple of people waiting for me. We’ll talk as soon as I’ve taken care of them. It’s pertinent to our discussion anyway.” Roslin answered.

She lifted a hand for him to follow. The harsh edge she often spoke with was gone. It was understandable, given what they had all just been through. It still felt odd, as if she had become another person.

Link followed obediently, paying careful attention to the path they took through the complex. They rode a lift up several levels and emerged into a stone-lined corridor, feeling very much out of place in contrast to the modern construction of the rest of the facility. A rough-hewn staircase approached and Roslin scaled it without a second thought.

What lay at the top was a grand cathedral, undoubtedly the church-like structure they had seen while flying across Skyloft. It was remarkable. The architecture was distinctive of a specific period Link had obsessed over in his studies as a boy. A wide pedestal, about waist high, sat opposite the large doors at the far end. Behind the pedestal was another corridor leading deeper into the temple. From where he stood he could see a vast open chamber with an elevated platform of stone at the center. It was bare, though if he was right, it had a design carved into it that the angle did not allow him to see.

“If you really do know your stuff, then you probably recognize this place. Like I said last time I brought you here, the goddesses weren’t exactly happy we moved it up here, but it proved a wise idea,” Roslin said, “Come with me.”

She turned and headed down the corridor towards the second large chamber. As they moved toward the other end, Link gazed down at the raised section of the floor he had spotted. As he approached, he easily made out the six symbols of the sages, just as he expected. He could see a pedestal at the center with a small replica of the Triforce carved into it. The pedestal was empty.

They walked around it rather than up the short stair to it. Three people could be seen standing off to one side next to a large stone slab with a cloth draped over it. The slab sat in the center of a walkway running through a tall arch. That arch opened into what appeared to be a mausoleum filled with numerous sarcophagi. What few Link could see appeared to be for members of the royal family.

One of the three standing nearby was Shad, the other two the Lieutenant could not identify. They appeared to be an older couple and terribly upset. The woman wept quietly as her husband tried to comfort her, no doubt fighting back his own tears. Their pain filled the entire temple and it sank in all around Link like a hundred thousand needles.

“You have my deepest condolences,” Shad said, “Ah… Miss Roslin has arrived. I will take my leave and let you converse with her directly.”

The young man bowed respectfully and backed away as Link and the Minister approached. He took his leave, quietly hurrying away to no doubt take his station again.

“Forgive me for my tardiness,” Roslin said, taking a breath as she tried to find a tactful way to explain, which honestly she couldn’t, “I was… I was a horrid mess. I didn’t wish to disrespect you coming to speak to you in that state,”

The couple nodded, making no qualms in the slightest.

“You don’t need to explain.” the older gentleman said.

Roslin nodded, grateful for their understanding, “Link, this is Mr. and Mrs. Talon. They are close personal friends of mine. Their daughter was killed in the attack. Mr. and Mrs. Talon, allow me to introduce Lieutenant Link, formerly Detective of the Faron Police Force, now a member of our elite special forces. I trust the significance of his presence is understood?”

The couple nodded, turning their attention to the young man. Mrs. Talon stepped away from her husband and moved toward Link, looking as if she could break down at any moment given the right excuse.

“I want to thank you Lieutenant, for everything you have done for the kingdom. Your courage and your strength… you do justice to your family line.” she said.

With that, she wrapped her arms around the baffled young man in a firm embrace as if she had known him all her life. It startled Link. Awkwardly, he lifted his arms to return the hug. Before he could, one of his hands was taken by Mr. Talon, being shaken heartily.

“Minister Roslin has kept us informed of your progress, your deeds. You made our little girl proud. She always spoke very highly of you after you arrived.” the older fellow said.

The woman released him and moved back to seek comfort in the arms of her husband as Roslin addressed them.

“Your daughter was a dear friend of mine, one of my absolute closest. I cannot imagine what life will be like now that she is gone. I can scarcely believe it’s happened as it is. All I can say is how truly sorry I am for what has happened. It shouldn’t have happened. I could have protected her better.” the Minister said.

Mrs. Talon shook her head roughly, moving quickly to put a stop to Roslin’s self-debasement.

“No!” she cried, “You did nothing wrong! She did what she was meant to do! You’re alive now because of her! Don’t you dare blame yourself!”

“I’m sorry, ma’am… I cannot help but think that she’s dead because of me. It was my idea.” Roslin said quietly.

The older man stepped in, speaking more gently than his wife, “Yes, and she knew the risks when she agreed. We knew the risks as well. It was for the highest cause.”

Roslin opened her mouth as if to continue to try and shift blame onto herself, but she felt it wouldn’t be appropriate. Instead, she changed the focus.

“Because of her selfless act, and because of how deeply my staff and I cared for her, we have prepared a shrine in her honor. When this is over, we will go and find her remains and bring them here to be laid to rest.”

She gripped the cloth draped over the stone slab and pulled it away. What she revealed was a single piece of white marble carved into marvelous detail of a woman in a delicate dressing gown emblazoned with the royal crest across it. A tiara sat atop her head and two triangular earrings had been carved to ‘hang’ from her ears.

The face was unmistakable. It was the face of Potentate Zelda.

The Talons began to weep all the more powerfully, embracing Roslin out of gratitude. She returned the embrace. They offered whispered thanks as they eased down off the suddenness of the moment and backed away.

“Thank you, Terentia. Thank you so very much for honoring our little girl.” the woman said.

“I could never measure up to the grace with which she honored me. If you need anything, please do not hesitate to ask. Your kingdom will forever be in your debt.” Roslin said.

They both nodded quietly and turned to look over the stone shrine that carried the name of their daughter. It didn’t read Zelda. Roslin stepped back a short distance and beckoned Link to follow. He was speechless. He felt as if some horrible trick were being played on him, but he knew that wasn’t the case. It wasn’t a trick meant to hurt him, but to protect the truth.

“So… I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now.” Roslin said quietly.

She kept her eyes on the couple who had just lost their beloved daughter, her voice low to offer the Talons their privacy.

“If I’m not mistaken…” Link said, his voice trailing off.

“I’m sure you’re rather angry with me for lying to you.” Roslin said, interrupting him.

Link frowned and paused, directing his gaze back to her before speaking again.

“That’s the second time you’ve said something like that to me. Am I going to need to expect a third?” he asked.

As soon as he said it, he winced realizing how much what he had just said might have stung. And yet Roslin carried it in stride.

“Hopefully no. Hopefully, this will all be over soon and I won’t be able to hurt another person as badly as I’ve hurt you and the Talons, or the countless lives that have been lost in this whole operation.” she replied softly.

Link nodded, amazed at the elegance she conducted herself with in spite of the rather stinging comment, “So… what is your actual name?”

The woman remained focused on the couple they had given space, “That part I didn’t lie about. It is actually Terentia Roslin. I just didn’t tell you the whole thing. Terentia is actually my middle name. As for what you think it should be, the tradition of using a regnal name is quite alive and well.”

Link nodded as she turned to him. He knelt quietly before his Potentate.

“Your grace…” he said reverently.

Her eyes began to tear up and her face hardened. She wanted to slap him across the top of his head but it would be disrespectful to the deceased and the survivors still weeping over their daughter.

“Just get up already…” she hissed quietly.

She hated being treated as royalty.

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