Link started running the second his foot touched down on the Ne’ez Yohma shrine. He barreled through the shallow water and up the stairs, coming out into the bright, midday sun. The light reflected brilliantly off the scaled pathways. In front of him, half-turned to watch both the plaza and the shrine, was Prince Sidon.
The zora’s eyes lit up, spotting the champion. “Link!”
The hero beamed, and he dashed toward the prince. He leapt at Sidon, arms outstretched.
Sidon caught Link easily, swinging the hylian around before drawing him close. “You’re back! Oh, my dearest, I’ve missed you.” He sat Link on his forearm, petting at the hero’s pointed ears while he looked for any injuries. “You’re in much better shape than last time,” Sidon observed. “I take it you’ve calmed Vah Naboris?”
Link groaned. “That blight was the worst.” He rolled up the sleeve of his left arm, showing off a twisting scar that bloomed over his skin like the branches of a tree. “Lots of lightning.”
“This looks awfully painful.” Sidon ran his fingers over the scar with a grimace.
Link shrugged, pulling his sleeve back down. “Hurt when it happened. Heart container fixed me up.” He flexed the arm triumphantly, showing off how it moved without difficulty. “See?”
The prince’s lips pursed. “You’re certainly in a good mood, so I suppose you must be fine.”
“Happy to be done with Thunderblight Ganon,” Link chuckled. He leaned forward, pressing his cheek into Sidon’s. “And happy to see you.”
Sidon hummed, pleased, leaning his head against the champion’s. “I knew you could do it.”
“Figured I’d come back here to rest,” Link murmured. “I missed you.”
The prince pressed a kiss to the side of Link’s head. He ran his free hand along the champion’s back, relaxing. Enjoying holding his love again. Link was back, safe, and he’d be staying. At least, for a while. The thought brought a smile to the zora’s face. The champion volunteering to rest was rare – even more so when he was fighting fit, thanks to the magic of the heart container.
Sidon’s expression turned suspicious.
The prince looked over the champion curled up in his arms. Link was fine. The scar on the hero’s arm, while it had looked terrible, wasn’t hindering Link’s mobility. He was in a good mood. Optimistic, even. He was perfectly capable of going off to fight other things.
He didn’t need rest.
“While I’m delighted you’re here, Link,” Sidon commented, “I must admit to being a bit confused.”
Link pulled back, frowning. “Why?”
“You’re going to rest?” Sidon asked, a small smirk on his lips. “Willingly?”
The champion’s eyes darted away. “Well, I…I wanted to know how the lizalfos…I thought I could…” Floundering for an answer, Link pouted at the prince. “Can’t I just come see you?”
“Of course. In fact, I encourage it,” Sidon laughed. “It’s simply unlike you to rest without someone forcing you to.”
The champion huffed, hunching his shoulders and looking away.
Sidon’s eyes softened in sympathy. “…You’re worried,” the prince surmised.
Slowly, almost imperceptibly, Link nodded.
“About facing the Calamity?” Sidon guessed. Another nod. “My love, you can do it. You know you can.”
“I know,” Link muttered, his voice quiet, and without conviction.
Sidon nudged the other with a gentle headbutt. “Are you here because you’d like a distraction to calm your nerves?”
The champion locked eyes with the prince. “…Maybe.”
Sidon huffed a laugh, but then grew thoughtful. ‘We still haven’t gotten the Zora’s Sapphire back to Gerald…’ He eyed the hylian in his arms with a warm gaze. ‘I suppose it wouldn’t be terrible to ask, if it could help him calm down.’ The prince glanced around the area, to be certain no one was listening in. He spotted Junayd and Tottika a distance away, heading to their stations. The guards shot the prince a knowing grin when he and Link caught their eye. Sidon rolled his eyes at them, and then turned back to the champion, keeping his voice low. "I may have a task for you – At least, it will be simpler if you assist with it.”
Link perked up immediately, his face brightening. “Really?”
“Yes, but we can’t discuss it here,” the prince stated, setting Link back down on the ground. He took the hylian’s hand. “Come, I’ll show you.”
“Where are we going?” Link asked, falling into step with the zora.
Link blinked a few times in surprise. As the zora kept leading, he bit his lip, trying not to grin. “What exactly am I helping you with?”
The prince shot the other a confused frown as they walked. Then, thinking back on his words, he froze. ‘Oh. Oh, that sounds like I’m bringing him to my room to—’ Sidon’s free hand flailed, trying both to wave the matter away and hide his flustered face. “What—No, Link it’s not—! It isn’t anything like that!”
Link laughed. “Damn. You got my hopes up.”
“I got your—I…what?” Sidon spluttered. At Link’s cheeky grin, the zora breath caught. The hylian’s eyes sparkled with mischievous glee. ‘I…I suppose I could…’ He had missed the hero. It had been weeks since he’d been able to hold Link. To run his fingers through the hylian’s hair, and watch those golden locks sway in the gentle breeze. He could remove Link’s ponytail now. Hold the other man as he indulged, a little. Link was finally close enough that he could kiss the champion -- trail his lips down Link’s cheek, down Link’s neck, undoing the belts of the champion’s armor as he did so. Remove the heavy tunic covering Link’s lithe form…
The prince cleared his throat, trying to pull himself back to focusing on the task at hand.
“You alright?” Link inquired innocently, though the grin plastered on his face suggested otherwise. “You look a little flustered, darling.”
‘Oh, he is absolutely doing this on purpose,’ Sidon grumbled inwardly. “I’m fine,” Sidon managed. “The task I have for you isn’t…” He sighed, and knelt next to the champion. “The task I wish to discuss with you concerns the lizalfos.” Then, he leaned lower, murmuring into Link’s ear with a smirk. “Though, you are more than welcome to help me with more personal matters, later.” The prince pulled back, seeing the hylian go still, his eyes wide. Sidon smirked in satisfaction as he saw a red flush creep across the champion’s cheeks.
Link brought a hand to his face, looking up at the prince with wide eyes.
Sidon grinned broadly, and then gave the hylian’s hand a gentle tug. “Let’s be off, shall we?”
Link crouched by the edge of Sidon’s sleeping pool, looking around with curiosity. There was a large wooden desk and chair to his left. The desk was littered with scrolls and books, which he figured Sidon had been flipping through recently. The zora script along the spines he recognized, even if he couldn’t read it. There were older books too, with titles in a text he’d never seen in his life. ‘Is that Lizal?’ the champion wondered. ‘He must be practicing.’ He turned his head, peering into the pool.
Sidon was underwater, at the very bottom, removing one of the scale-like tiles from the floor. He grabbed something from a small, hidden hole, and then replaced the tile. That done, Sidon kicked and surged upward, resurfacing.
“What’s that?” Link asked, leaning forward as Sidon approached.
The prince’s eyes flicked down to the object in his hand, frowning. Briefly, disappointment flew over his features. Then, with a shake of his head, he held the object out to Link. “This is the Zora’s Sapphire.”
“It’s beautiful,” Link noted, eyeing the trio of sapphires appreciatively. He’d seen a lot of gems in Gerudo Town – even bought plenty of jewelry for himself. None of them compared to this, though. The blue hues were deeper. Purer. There was something inherently different about the gem. Something special. Something he couldn’t quite place.
“It’s the sacred stone of my people,” Sidon explained. “Lost to us for…Well, since it was given to the Hero of Time, I think.”
“You have it, though,” Link observed, his brow furrowing. “What’s the problem?”
Sidon let out a pained groan, sinking into the water until his lips were nearly covered. He stared at the stone glumly. “…I stole it from the lizalfos.”
Link snorted, biting back a grin. “I’m sorry – you what?”
“I stole it,” Sidon repeated with a grimace. “The king’s crown broke because I removed the sapphire.”
“You…” Link stifled a laugh. “You stole it. Off the king’s crown. You.”
“Yes, my dearest, we’ve established that,” Sidon grumbled.
“Sounds more like something I’d do,” Link snickered. He touched the frame of the gem gently, noting the similarities between it and the pin that held Sidon’s cravat. “If it’s the Zora’s Sapphire, though, why…?”
“We don’t know how the lizalfos found it, but they’d been using it as a means of proving royal lineage,” Sidon provided. “So, Gerald needs it. However, since I took it, he can’t claim the throne, let alone override the old king’s will with a peace treaty.”
“Oh.” Link’s expression turned more serious. “That’s bad.”
“Yes,” Sidon bemoaned, his shoulders drooping. “Not to mention that I can’t simply bring it back to Gerald myself – the lizalfos would know exactly who took it!”
“Then, I’ll take it to Gerald,” Link suggested, simply.
“My darling, they’ll think you stole it if you do,” Sidon protested. “But, perhaps if—”
“I’ll sneak it over,” Link shrugged, taking the Zora’s Sapphire from Sidon. “Gerald will just happen to find it next to him. They won’t know it was me.”
Sidon stared at the hylian. “That’s…Are you sure?”
“You know I don’t mind,” Link nodded, stowing the sapphire into one of his pockets. “Of course I’d want to help you.”
Sidon offered the champion a wry smirk. “Well, there’s that, and there’s the fact that you’re a bit of a meddler.” He took Link’s hand in his own, running his thumb over the hero’s knuckles. “You do jump at the chance to get involved in others’ business.”
“You told me it was helping people,” Link corrected, returning the smirk.
“Is that not what I said?” Sidon asked, feigning innocence. “You jump at the chance to help people?” The prince laughed as Link tugged gently at one of his fins, the champion’s face amused, but still annoyed. “I only tease, my dearest,” Sidon chuckled. “In all honesty, I would rather this task not fall to you.”
“This is important,” Link stressed. “I’ve done more for less.”
“I know, but…” Sidon’s face fell, glancing away from the champion. “This is…This problem was my own doing. You’ll be correcting my mistake.”
“I’ve been running around Hyrule correcting my own,” the champion stated. “Correcting yours will be a nice break.” Link pulled out his Sheikah Slate, pulling up the area around Lake Hylia. He’d want to be close, but maybe not directly in the lake itself. Nothing would tip off Isolda more than Hyrule’s Hero spontaneously appearing in the middle of the search for the sacred stone. The action screamed that something was up. No, he would have to come in on foot.
“I know I said this was meant to distract you from the weight of your duty,” Sidon laid his arms on the edge of the pool. He inched closer to the champion, and then leaned his head on his arms with a pout. “Even so it’s…This is a lot to ask of you.”
“I want a distraction,” Link countered, moving the map on his slate around to find an appropriate shrine to warp to.
“You’re too kind to me, love,” Sidon murmured.
Link looked up from his slate with a smile. “Payback.”
Sidon’s head perked up. “Pardon?”
“For all the times you’re too kind to me,” Link answered. He held the slate toward Sidon. “Are you coming, too?”
“I’d like to,” Sidon affirmed with a nod. “Hopefully I’ll be unnecessary, but you might need a translator.”
Link took hold of the zora’s hand, and then leaned forward to plant a kiss on Sidon’s crest. “Keep holding onto me, then.”
Sidon snorted, wrapping his fingers tighter around Link’s. “As though I’d ever want to let go.”
Sheikah gear, Link had called it.
Tight, form-fitting material made for the express purpose of sneaking around. In this case, it was sneaking down a steep hill at the southern edge of Lake Hylia, to hide behind a tree. Beyond that tree was a small, sandy shelf.
On that shelf, Gerald sat moping.
Sidon watched Link from high above the beach, hiding himself among the stone parapets of the Bridge of Hylia. The lizalfos were focusing their search in the water, confident that the Zora’s Sapphire was somewhere within the lake itself, so Sidon was able to keep himself relatively out of sight. The prince crouched, his heart pounding as Link tiptoed next to the tree, instead of staying behind it.
‘He looks good in that gear,’ Sidon thought, eyeing the hero’s form. The special clothing didn’t leave very much to the imagination. There was armor attached, though each piece was small, and served to almost frame Link’s chest rather than protect it. Decorative lining along the legs only served to emphasize the champion’s powerful thigh muscles. Sidon’s fingers twitched as he wondered how the clothes felt. There was space between the armor and Link’s belts where the zora could rest his hands, just above Link’s hips. Sidon hummed, not sure whether it would feel like caressing Link’s skin, running his fingers over that thin material.
There was a small ‘plop’ from the water below.
‘Goddess, what am I doing?’ Sidon thought, shaking his head. ‘Focus.’
Gerald’s head perked up, turning this way and that, before he spotted the ripples in the water. Then, with a curious trill, he swam out to the spot, dunking his head to investigate. He resurfaced with an excited yap, and then dove.
Once Gerald had dived after the stone, Link scrambled his way back up the hill. He jogged up to Sidon and pulled his mask down, revealing a triumphant grin. “Perfect throw.”
“Excellent work, Link!” Sidon cheered.
The hylian hopped up, onto the parapet, to look into the lake. “Just hope he grabs it,” Link muttered, watching for the bright lizalfos to resurface. “It’ll sink fast.”
“I’m certain he can manage it,” the prince smiled. He looked into the lake as well, watching bubbles rise from where Gerald had dived. They would have to wait a minute. Maybe two. He couldn’t be sure how fast Gerald would catch up to the sinking stone. Sidon’s eyes flicked to Link. Seeing the champion in the gear up close, it was hard to resist trailing his fingers along the back of the hylian’s shirt. Sidon reached out, brushing his fingers lightly against the material. It was soft. Almost slick.
The champion turned at the touch, raising an eyebrow at the zora.
Sidon’s fingers paused along Link’s spine. “I, ah…I wanted to see how the suit felt.”
Link’s stare turned sly. “While I was in it?”
“I—Well—” Sidon started.
“You can touch me all you want later,” Link teased. “This is important.”
Sidon scoffed, wrapping his arm around the hylian. He leaned, growling into Link’s ear. “Full of snark, today, aren’t you? Must you torment me so?”
Link pressed a long, obnoxiously drawn out kiss to the zora’s cheek in response. “Missed you.”
Sidon grumbled, though it was half-hearted, his annoyance appeased by the sudden affection. He watched the water over Link’s shoulder, humming contentedly as the champion pet along the zora’s forefin.
Below, Gerald resurfaced, the Zora’s Sapphire held high in his clawed fingers.
“Oh!” Sidon exclaimed. “He’s got it!”
“Told you my throw was perfect,” Link stated, smug.
With a series of happy chirps, the bright lizalfos swam to the largest island in the lake. The pair scrambled to the other side of the bridge to watch him. Once at the island, Gerald hopped excitedly to the top of the hill, calling down to where the lake’s shrine was hidden.
Isolda emerged, eyeing Gerald curiously before spotting the sapphire. She went still at the sight of it. Then, the general hopped up next to the lizalfos prince, and roared over the lake.
Soon the water was filled with lizalfos, all responding to Isolda’s call. Their scales shimmered, all different colors, as they swam close to the island. The masses looked up at Isolda and Gerald with expectant faces. Gurgles and growls filled the lake, as the lizalfos caught sight of the sapphire.
Then, Gerald handed the Zora’s Sapphire to Isolda.
“Oh no,” Sidon breathed. “Oh no. No, no, what is he doing?!”
As Isolda examined the stone, a small section of lizalfos, led by a blue, began to cheer. The blue hopped out of the water, lifting their hands and trying to get the rest of the onlookers to join in. The blue began to chant. Their followers chanted as well.
“What are they saying?” Link asked.
“Hail Queen Isolda,” Sidon hissed. “That she should be the one—” The zora’s jaw snapped shut at the sound of another angry roar.
Isolda stomped her feet below them, holding the sapphire aloft. With her other hand, she pointed at the blue. She growled and gurgled, rapidly, gesturing to the entire lake of lizalfos.
“She just keeps going,” Link observed.
“It’s…She’s giving a speech,” Sidon explained.
“Can you translate it all?” the hylian asked, watching as the general of the Lanaryu lizalfos continued addressing the blue.
“I…, she’s saying ‘You’re idiots,’” Sidon translated as the general growled again, hitting the ground with the blunt end of her spear. “All of you who hail me instead of the prince. Idiots that follow the Calamity to their death.” Isolda pointed the tip of the weapon at the blue. “You, Candis. You lead these bastards?”
The blue stood tall, almost defiant, and yapped with a nod.
Isolda let out a cackle. “Of course. Of course it’s you.” The general brought the Zora’s Sapphire in front of her, staring at it. “We’ve lived under bloody laws, until now. Of course you, so bent on revenge on the Hero, would want a general to rule.”
Sidon turned to Link with a frown. “You’ve fought that blue one?”
“Hell if I know,” Link responded with a frown of his own. “I’ve fought a lot of them.”
“She has a grudge, apparently,” Sidon observed, looking back at Isolda.
The blue, Candis, bowed low to the general.
Isolda contemplated the other lizalfos for a moment, and then shrugged with a growl.
“I don’t want to be Queen.”
“Thank Hylia,” Link breathed.
Next to him, Sidon continued to frown, focused on the next words that left Isolda’s maw.
“We’ve served under generals for too long. The last king, the king before that…what good has it done us? They always order us to support Ganon, and that brings war.” Isolda tapped her broken horn with a golden claw. “Following Ganon ends badly for us. It always does.” At that, the general hopped down from her perch, stalking her way toward Candis. “The Hero you hate so much? He saved our asses. Gerald said the zora and the Hero could help us, and they did. Our home is free of monsters for the first time in a century – You know the Hero can stop Ganon, too.”
“She does believe in me?” Link questioned, aghast.
“He always stops Ganon,” Sidon continued, voicing Isolda’s words with the same baffled expression as his friend. The general laughed. “He’s already recaptured the Divine Beasts! He’s unstoppable – the kings told stories of our ancestors dying in their fight against the Hero, time and time again.” At that, Isolda paused, chuckling darkly at the group behind Candis. “You know mine didn’t. My ancestor didn’t fight the Hero. He was smarter than that. He gave the Hero flippers or some shit. You know how well things turned out for him?” The black lizalfos sneered, the scar under her eye stretching. “His clan survived. The Hero left him alone. The hylians let him live.” She gestured to the ground with a sweep of her arm. “It’s why I’m even standing here. It’s why a lot of you are standing here. The rest of you are just lucky bastards.”
Candis gurgled in response, pointing angrily between Gerald and Isolda. Isolda spun on her heel, her long tail whipping Candis in the face. The blue lizalfos went down, crashing to the ground, and several of the lizalfos let out a startled yip.
Isolda stood above Candis, walking away with an annoyed grunt. She climbed back up the hill, rejoining a pensive-looking Gerald. The general turned back, addressing the group attending to Candis with a roar. “It’s lizalfos like you that hold us back! Dumbasses that can’t see that we’re stuck!” She jabbed the point of her spear into the ground. “Stuck in an idiotic war against the Hero that we’ll never win! Ganon is going to lose, and we’ll be caught in the crossfire!”
Other sections of lizalfos began to nod along. Those standing closest to the group of dissenters began to back away from them, distancing themselves.
“It’s just the damned zora right now,” Sidon rumbled as Isolda continued. “We only fight the zora, in Lanaryu. I hate them. We all do. But, they’re friends of the Hero, and they always have been – What happens when Ganon is defeated?” The onlookers looked to each other, several tilting their heads. “The other races all become friends and form treaties.” The general hissed. “We’ll have to fight all of them. Rito, Gerudo, whatever. Plus the Hero. The Hylians. All of them. We’ll die, and with no blood moon, we’ll die forever.”
Gerald yipped next to Isolda, concerned.
The general thrust the Zora’s Sapphire at Gerald. “You are our best chance, my prince. You befriended that asshole, Sidon—”
The zora stopped speaking, his face pinched in annoyance.
“Sidon, keep translating,” Link urged, pushing on the prince’s arm impatiently.
With a sigh, Sidon continued. Isolda grabbed one of Gerald’s hands, shoving the sapphire into it. “You befriended the Hero’s love. There’s a chance for survival, with you as the King. You can befriend the rest of the zora, and then the other races won’t kill us once Ganon’s dead. The Hero won’t have reason to wipe us out – the lizalfos won’t get culled again. At least, not those of us in Lanaryu.” The general turned, addressing the masses of lizalfos again. She stood tall. Prideful. “You make your choice here. Support your prince and live, or fight for the Calamity and die.” She picked up her silverscale spear, spinning it. A sickening smirk stretched across her lips, and she pounded her fist against her chestplate. “And, by the way, you’ll die fighting me.”
The group with Candis began to hiss, stomping and waving their weapons. More lizalfos backed away from them, looking nervously between the angry crowd and Isolda.
“You’re outnumbered!” Isolda pointed her spear at the rebellious group, cackling. “Outnumbered and outclassed!”
Gerald stepped forward, tapping Isolda on the shoulder.
The general stopped, looking the lizalfos prince hard in the eye.
Gerald inclined his head toward her, letting out a low trill.
Isoda blinked at him for a moment, and then responded with a somewhat surprised yip. Her stance relaxed, and her eyes darted around the lake, watching the others with a small frown. The lizalfos in the water waited. The dissenters all growled lowly, poised to fight, but unsure of what transpired. Isolda brought her fist to her mouth, and awkwardly cleared her throat. “Also, Gerald found the gem first, so…Law of the lizalfos. He’s the king.” At the confused murmurings of the crowd, the general rubbed the back of her head. “…I probably should have started with that.”
The dissenters each let out an indignant groan.
“Did she just…?” Link muttered.
“She nearly started a civil war!” Sidon laughed. “All because she forgot to tell them Gerald found the sapphire first. Goddess above, she may be clever in battle, but she’s not clever with words, is she?”
Isolda waved a hand at the unconscious form of Candis and yapped. Soon, the blue was being carried away, to be attended to with elixirs.
Gerald hopped excitedly, tapping the Zora’s Sapphire with his claws and chirping.
“We should go,” Sidon stated, backing away from the bridge, a pleased look on his face. “Gerald’s saying they should send word to Zora’s Domain.”
Link pulled out his Sheikah Slate. He brought up the map and then moved to stand next to Sidon. “Better make sure you’re there, then,” the champion chuckled.
“My prince,” Tottika bowed low, and then gestured to the entrance of Zora’s Domain. “There is an entourage of lizalfos here to see you.”
Sidon bolted to the balcony overlooking the plaza. Sure enough, several lizalfos were stopped at the main bridge, being blocked by Gaddison and Bazz. One lizalfos in particular stuck out from the rest – his cyan and orange scales gleaming. Sidon grinned.
Gerald, now wearing a long, burgundy cloak that looked suspiciously like a hylian-styled blanket, caught sight of the zora prince. An elated smiled graced his face, and he yipped, hopping up and down in excitement. A makeshift crown of bone and steel, topped with the Zora’s Sapphire, bounced atop his head.
Sidon all but ran down the steps into the plaza, coming up to the group. “Let them through!” he ordered the guards. Gaddison and Bazz glanced at each other nervously, but then stepped aside, allowing room for their prince to approach the lizalfos. Sidon beamed, growling in Lizal. “Gerald! I am happy to see you!” He looked about the lizalfos guards flanking the new king, and paused. He saw a silver, two blues carrying a large, stone chest, and a black. The black looked back at Sidon passively. Its long horn curved elegantly at the tip of its nose. No scar split its check. It wasn’t Isolda.
The general was nowhere in sight.
“Where is Isolda?” Sidon hissed, a perplexed frown on his face. His hand reached for his empty wrist, touching along the scales in anxious habit. Isolda was Gerald’s number one general. She would demand to be here, to protect their leader. His eyes searched briefly behind the group of guards, half-expecting to see the general perched somewhere else. Casing the Domain. Lying in wait.
“She will not attend today, by my will,” Gerald explained with a casual wave of his hand. “We know her presence here would be uncouth. Our purpose now is to make peace – A treaty would be compromised with she, Isolda the Defiant, by my side.” The bright lizalfos puffed out his chest with pride. “Isolda has been sent to Akkala, to conquer lizalfos who challenge us.”
The prince’s shoulders sagged in relief. “I understand!” Sidon chirped. “I appreciate this.” No Isolda today. Maybe never again. She was going to be very busy if Gerald wanted her to lead the charge against the other lizalfos factions. Sidon directed Gerald to follow him, and began walking to the throne room. As Gerald fell into step next to the prince, Sidon asked, “The Akkala lizalfos…they are strong?”
“They are, of course,” Gerald confirmed, holding his crown in place while he walked. “Led by a general. He is a lout, adorned with silver scales. His followers named Tristram ‘the Woeful,’ and woe is what Isolda shall bring him.”
Sidon eyed the crown on Gerald’s head with a fretful gaze. It looked as though the strings holding it together would fall apart at any second. ‘We finally get the stone back to him – what happens if the sapphire just falls off his head?’ the prince pondered. He grimaced at the jewel. “Your crown is—”
“Alas, my crown!” Gerald cried, laughing heartily. “Our artisans fail me, with hasty hands and no care to the form. They made their monarch a crass coronet! A new and sturdy crown they plan for me, though elegance will never describe it.”
Sturdier would be better. Prettier might be better still. Glancing down to Gerald’s wrist, the prince could see that the lizalfos still wore the bracelet the zora had given as a gift. The one the lizalfos had claimed was pretentious. Sidon smirked at it. “Our artisans make crowns. They make a crown for you.” Gerald’s eyes widened, and the zora waved to the makeshift regalia with an elegant, exaggerated flourish. “A pretentious crown, from the pretentious zora.”
Gerald stared at the prince, aghast. “Such generosity you show me, friend! You would have zora artisans make it?”
Sidon nodded, pumping his fist. “A king needs a good crown! It is a symbol of peace, from me.”
“And a grand symbol it is,” Gerald chuckled. “You are kind – I accept this most benevolent gift.” As the pair climbed the last of the stairs, the bright lizalfos regarded the zora prince with curiosity. When they reached the throne room, Gerald stopped abruptly, turning to Sidon with a trill. “I must ask you a question, my dear friend.”
Sidon stopped as well, and smiled at the other. “Yes, friend?”
“Your articulation does please me, but, my curiosity does demand truth – Why do you always speak in Lizal, now?” Gerald asked, touching his chin with an inquisitive claw. “The common language of the land, I know, though my tongue does trip and twist upon it.”
Sidon’s eyes boggled at the new king. “You…You understand Hylian,” he repeated, Lizal entirely forgotten.
“Of course, I know it,” Gerald stated. “Lizalfos all do. We reached the Domain thanks to zora guards. They communicated directions here, not knowing Lizal terms to guide our way.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Sidon questioned. “I could have – Is that why Isolda kept laughing at me?!”
The lizalfos king cackled. “You did not know we understand your words! No wonder, then, that you continued on.” Gerald brought his fingers to his mouth, covering his chuckles. “Dear Sidon, I must give apologies. I did believe it was for practicing, your attempts speaking in my mother tongue. Discouraging you is what I wish least.”
The prince groaned. All that time. All that effort. He could have spoken normally. “I’ll practice some other time, I think.” He rubbed between his eyes, closing them in embarrassment. “Goddess, I must have looked quite the fool.”
“I enjoyed all your effort, zora prince,” Gerald consoled the other, still smiling. “It gladdens me, to know you can speak it – to know the royal zora speak it still.”
“Well, I’ll have to alert my father to this,” Sidon sighed. He smirked at the bright lizalfos. “His Lizal isn’t much better than mine.”
Gerald guffawed, and followed the prince into the throne room.
Elder zora lined the far wall, watching the lizalfos approach with wary glares. The lizalfos guards behind Gerald squinted back at them. The two blues hefted the chest they carried next to their king, and dropped it heavily onto the floor. Zora guards held still, though several clutched their spears tighter, as though bracing themselves for a fight.
Link stood to the left of the throne, watching the zora and lizalfos guards square off in a staring contest. ‘They’d better not start shit,’ he thought, keeping an eye on both groups. The tension in the air between the groups was palpable. The elders were nervous. The guards were nervous – both zora, and lizalfos.
King Dorephan, on the other hand, looked quite relaxed. He leaned back in his throne, regarding Gerald with a hint of fondness in his eyes. In his hand, the zora king held one of the letters Gerald had sent.
Sidon stepped in front of the group of lizalfos, bowing to his father. “Your majesty, and esteemed members of the court, may I present King Gerald Reginald Doomsnarl…” He glanced at the other king, who glanced backward at his guards.
The silver lizalfos behind Gerald yapped. Gerald gurgled approvingly.
“The Prime,” Sidon finished. At his father’s nod, he approached the throne, moving to the zora king’s left side.
The champion shot a confident grin at the prince.
Sidon’s lips quirked up in a smile, and then he turned to address Dorephan again. “Gerald has informed me that he fully comprehends the common tongue, if you wish to speak that instead of Lizal.”
“Thank Hylia,” Dorephan huffed a laugh. “I haven’t used Lizal for anything more than ceremonies.” His gaze moved to Gerald. “I welcome you to the Domain, King Gerald. Now, you said in your letters that you are amenable to a treaty between our kingdoms?”
“Yes, that is true,” Dorephan commented, drawing a finger across his chin. “I believe I have gone over our own requirements thoroughly enough in our correspondence. Have you any disagreements?”
Gerald glanced at Sidon and Link, fidgeting with nerves. He breathed deeply, and then began a long series of growls.
Link watched as the lizalfos king proceeded to launch into a lengthy speech. Gerald gestured broadly about the room, and inclined his head to King Dorephan. All the while, his growls and gurgles filled the air, the zora and lizalfos all keeping silent as Gerald spoke. His high-pitched voice rang clear, with passion, as he indicated each of the zora in turn.
Link shifted on his feet, glancing between Gerald and Sidon, for cues. The zora royals appeared too focused, and too enthralled by what was being said to translate. On the edges of the room, several elders shifted, listening. Link frowned at them. ‘I wonder how much they understand.’
Then, Muzu glanced between the lizalfos and Dorephan, searching his king’s face just as Link had.
The hylian smirked. ‘Not much, I guess.’
After what felt an age, Gerald finished. King Dorephan regarded him in awed silence, seemingly unable to speak. Then, he cleared his throat, voice shaking slightly with emotion. “I thank you. It gladdens my heart to hear such compassionate words from the king of the lizalfos.” Dorephan smiled warmly at Gerald’s smaller form. The lizalfos smiled back, though his claws still clicked together nervously. “As for your own requirements, I do believe we can reach an accord.”
Gerald trilled happily, and then motioned to the two blues. The pair of guards lifted the stone chest from the floor, straining to bring it forward. Gerald tapped the chest, and indicated Sidon with a yip.
“What’s that?” Link asked, his voice hushed.
“A gift,” Sidon supplied, confusion on his face. “For me.” The prince walked toward the chest, kneeling down to open it. As he lifted the lid, his lips parted in surprise. He looked up at Gerald in question. “My friend, what is this?”
Gerald gave a yap, and showed his own arm to Sidon, displaying the zora bracelet. He tapped the luminous stone that decorated the jewelry, and then pointed to the stone chest with a growl.
Sidon’s eyes lit up, and he pulled another bracelet from the chest. It wasn’t the prettiest thing – more like a steel bracer than jewelry. Small chunks of topaz decorated the edges, with a larger piece in the very center. There were long, curving snake patterns scratched into the metal, in the likeness of Lanaryu. Sidon put the bracer on quickly, securing leather straps and beaming up at the lizalfos king. He reached out, clasping Gerald’s hands in his own. “Thank you, my friend! This is wonderful!”
Gerald gave a happy chirrup, shaking Sidon’s hands up and down excitedly.
“Hylia’s blessings be upon this day!” Dorephan boomed. He nodded to Muzu. “Fetch the parchment, we have a treaty to draw up.” The elders on the outer edges of the room all heaved a sigh of relief.
The lizalfos cheered, with Gerald’s voice the loudest among them.
The zora king turned in is throne, looking to Link. “Champion, you bear witness to this joyous occasion.” Dorephan’s warm smiled twitched into a smirk, briefly. “I may not approve of how it was managed, but I nevertheless thank you for your efforts in securing the result.”
Link grinned self-consciously up at the zora king. As the rest of the members of the court began to move about, going to fetch maps and other documents, the champion left his spot next to the throne. He jogged over to Sidon and Gerald.
“Link!” Sidon took the champion’s hand, drawing him closer. “Look at this!” He indicated the new bracer with a giddy grin. “It’s a gift in exchange for the one I gave to Gerald – These are meant for their fiercest warriors.”
Link ran his fingers over the topaz with a hum. “Explains why it looks like armor.”
“It grants its wearer resistance to electricity,” Sidon exclaimed. “Protection for the prince, as a sign of peace, according to Gerald.”
Gerald yapped proudly, brimming with confidence. He smiled at the pair for a moment, and then tilted his head, contemplating. The lizalfos king’s eyes flicked up to his crown, and then back to the pair. He trilled questioningly at Sidon.
The prince nodded to the lizalfos, and then turned back to Link. “He’d like a word with me, in private.”
“Dorephan wants me to witness the documents,” Link shrugged. “I’ll be here when you get back.”
Sidon brushed an affectionate thumb against the champion’s cheek. Standing, he gestured for Gerald to follow him out of the throne room.
The lizalfos king yapped at his guards. Each of them saluted response, standing in place. Gerald smiled and waved at Link, and then walked outside with Sidon.
The duo exited onto a small balcony overlooking the water. Sidon rested a hand on the railing, directing a curious gaze at Gerald. “What did you wish to speak to me about?”
“The matter is most delicate, I fear,” Gerald admitted, scratching his cheek with a claw. “I can speak of this to no lizalfos, nor zora, save, of course, for you, my friend.”
“I see,” Sidon frowned. “Is…Is there something wrong? It isn’t something to do with the treaty, is it?”
“It is nothing so dire, Sidon, no!” Gerald stressed, waving his hands in front of himself. “Your behavior confounded me, you see.” He tapped the Zora’s Sapphire on his crown, his claw clinking against the golden frame. “You did not keep the zora’s sacred stone.”
Sidon blanched, feeling his stomach twist. He and Link had been so careful. Made sure they weren’t seen at Lake Hylia, returning the stone. His thoughts whirled, a sick feeling pooling in his stomach. His voice went weak, muttering, “…You knew.”
“I spied the sapphire in your hand, back then. When I helped you from the pool, you had it,” Gerald shrugged, as though it had been obvious.
“You saw–?!” Sidon spluttered. “You didn’t say anything about it!”
“The Zora’s Sapphire, was it not so named?” Gerald asked, simply. “Its title was not changed by our past kings. I thought you meant to bring it to its home.”
“You needed the sapphire to become king!”
Gerald let out a low, thoughtful growl. “Your point is fair, though worry is misplaced. Most are in favor of my rule. All else, they follow in fear of my general.” The lizalfos king shook his head with a chuckle. “Isolda could keep them in line, although, I favor this, your bloodless method, more.” He tilted his head at Sidon. “You had need of the sapphire, did you not? Your motivations elude my grasp, still. It is not necessary for your rule. What reason bade you take the sapphire home?”
“It was…It used to be a symbol of love, from royal zoras, like our zora armor. An engagement present, of sorts,” Sidon explained, at a loss. Gerald didn’t care. Sidon had stolen the most precious artifact, the crown jewel, right out from under the lizalfos. Right out from under the lizalfos prince. By all rights, he should have started another war, and yet Gerald stood there, calm as could be, as though they were discussing the weather.
Gerald stared at the prince with a contemplative frown. “You meant for me to find the stone, correct?”
“I did,” Sidon confirmed.
Gerald shuffled on his feet, suddenly profoundly uncomfortable. “I am flattered sir, but cannot accept. We are not so close for such a gesture.”
Sidon squinted at the lizalfos, unsure whether he had misunderstood something. Then, it dawned on him.
Gerald misunderstood him.
“Oh! Oh no – No, I was going to give the sapphire to Link as a symbol of love!” Sidon clarified. He waved a panicked hand at the crown on Gerald’s head. “I gave it back to you, so you could claim the throne! It wasn’t—I didn’t mean for it to be—”
Gerald let out a long trill, nodding sagely in comprehension. “Ah, it all begins to fall into place! I hope your hero is not too upset, now that he will not receive this dear gift.”
“He doesn’t know about that, actually,” Sidon admitted, running his fingers along the topaz in his bracer. It was calming, having something on his wrist again. He hadn’t realized how strange it had felt to have that wrist be empty of jewelry.
“You did not tell him?!” Gerald yapped, affronted. “You fool, zora prince! Beloved though he is to you, your heart, your love–” The bright lizalfos gasped, clutching his chest in horror. “Did my eyes and ears deceive me? Did you not, in the lake, confess your love?” He grasped Sidon’s forearms, shaking them roughly. “You planned to give him this most sacred stone, to gift this precious prize, and he, your Link, knows nothing of your intent to woo him?!”
Sidon startled, caught off-guard. “Well, I—”
“No! Unacceptable!” Gerald screeched, stomping his foot. He jabbed a claw in the direction of the throne room. “You must go now! Tell him – I demand you do so at once!”
“Gerald, I can’t now,” Sidon protested. “We have to get the treaty settled first, and then Link will be off to go fight the Calamity!”
Gerald huffed, crossing his arms over his chest. “The treaty, yes, it does take precedence.” He pointed a claw at Sidon’s chest. “My demand still stands! After treaty talk, you will tell him, your champion, your goal. Your intent should be made known to your love! I order this, as your friend and as king!”
Link yawned. The sun was low over Zora’s Domain, painting the sky in vibrant oranges and purples. The treaty was signed. The Lanaryu lizalfos were heading home to work out the next steps for their kingdom. The hero stretched his arms above his head with a grunt, trying to work out the kinks from staying in one spot for so long. He didn’t think just being a witness would be so exhausting, but now it was over. Everything was settled, finally.
Everything except Calamity Ganon.
Link checked his packs for the hundredth time. He had his best gear. Best elixirs. Plenty of food and water for the trip. The steel lizalfos shield on his back was still sturdy, not at risk of breaking. The hero rolled his shoulders, readjusting the weapons attached to his belts.
He was ready.
Still, he paced the plaza in the Domain, back and forth. ‘I’m fine,’ Link told himself. ‘I’m fine. I can do this. I beat the other blights. I—’
“Link, there you are!”
The champion turned, spotting Sidon walking toward him with a bright grin. Link ran to him.
Sidon caught the hylian in his arms, pulling him into a tight hug. “I’ve been looking for you – I was worried you’d left already.”
“Can’t,” Link grunted, nuzzling closer. “Not without saying goodbye.”
“I should hope not,” the zora chuckled. He ran his claws gently through the short hairs on Link’s neck. “Truth be told, I’ve been ordered to speak with you before you leave.”
Link relinquished his hold on the prince with a laugh. “What?”
“Gerald,” Sidon explained with a smile. “I’m afraid there’s…I never told you why I took the sapphire. Gerald advised me to do so. Rather, uh, rather forcefully.”
Link’s eyes widened. “Gerald knows you stole—?”
“Yes, he’s aware. He’s assured me that he doesn’t harbor any ill feelings over it, especially since we returned the stone.” Sidon gave a nervous chuckle. “He also promised not to tell Isolda.”
“She’d be pissed,” Link laughed. He placed his hands on his hips, regarding the zora with an interested smirk. “So, why did you steal it?”
Sidon held the hylian’s gaze, and then breathed a long, defeated sigh. “I had meant to give it to you, eventually.”
Link stared. “Me.”
The hylian placed his hand over his chest. “You were going to give me the crown jewel of the lizalfos.”
“It was a symbol of love, for the zora, in times long ago,” Sidon explained. He drew his hand up to cup Link’s cheek. “I was going to give it to you as a sign of my affection. I’ve been meaning to get you something, to court you properly but…” He bit his lower lip pensively, eyes darting to the side. “I’m afraid I don’t have anything that’s…I have nothing appropriate. Nothing I have is special enough, not for someone as special as you.” With a sardonic laugh, he added, “In retrospect, even the Zora’s Sapphire pales in comparison.”
Link reached up, dragging his fingers along Sidon’s fins. He looked fondly over the red scales, trailing along where the red blurred into white along the prince’s face. The hero locked eyes with Sidon, then, the zora’s eyes colored like honey in the warm light of the sun. Link shook his head, biting back a grin. “You absolute dork.”
Sidon scoffed. “A dork again, am I? For wanting to court you properly?”
“You’re always a dork,” Link laughed. “All I want is you.”
Sidon blinked at the champion. Then he smiled serenely, leaning forward to press a kiss to the top of Link’s head. He brought his hands to the hero’s hips, pulling Link closer. “You already have me, my dearest.”
The lingered there, holding onto each other quietly. At length, Link reached around Sidon’s neck, squeezing the zora one last time before he left. He dropped down, an apologetic smile on his face. “I should go. I’ve got a Calamity to kill.” He pecked Sidon’s cheek.
Sidon nodded. “Of course.” He stood, and then pumped his fist, shooting the other a confident, toothy grin. “Good luck, my love – I know you’ll succeed!”
Link nodded back to him, and turned toward the bridge leading out of Zora’s Domain.
As he watched Link’s back, a thought occurred to the prince. “Wait, I’m such a fool—Link!” He called out to the champion, jogging after him.
The champion turned back to the prince, his brow furrowing with confusion.
Sidon’s eyes darted away, briefly. “I…Well,” the zora cleared his throat, looking suddenly sheepish. “I was wondering…”
Link’s head canted to the side. “What?”
“Well, it’s just—” The zora knelt before the champion, an annoyed frown on his lips. “With all that happened in the Temple, and with how exhausted we both were, I…Even after getting the Zora’s Sapphire to Gerald, I didn’t—We never…” Sidon scratched at his cheek with a claw. “I haven’t gotten a chance to kiss you properly, so—”
The hero snorted, amused. He approached the zora, coming to a stop just in front of Sidon. Link stood on the tips of his toes, beckoning for the zora to lean down more. Once the prince had done so, Link placed his hands on Sidon’s cheeks, and then pulled the zora even lower, pressing his lips to Sidon’s.
After the initial surprise wore off, Sidon felt himself melting. He pulled the champion to his chest, one hand slipping behind Link’s head and into the hylian’s hair. The other hand dragged down Link’s back, settling on the hylian’s hip. Link’s fingers left tingling trails on his scales, as they drifted to the back of his neck, brushing along the underside of his head-tail. Link drew back, to breathe, and the prince chased after him, eager to recapture the plush lips of his love – so much softer and warmer than he ever could have dreamed. Link responded in kind, a small moan escaping his throat as the zora held him in place. Sidon’s arm snaked around the hylian’s waist, lifting the smaller man off the ground. He broke away only for the briefest of moments, kissing the hero over and over, running his hand over the back of Link’s neck and reveling in the softness of the champion’s skin. He stopped only when he was certain he’d kissed Link completely breathless.
Link’s eyes fluttered when they parted, breath coming out in quiet pants. Sidon found himself entranced by the hylian’s lashes – the color like spun gold, shining in the setting sun. Link’s lips, a deeper color than they were before, quirked up in a cocky smirk. A pleasant pink tinged the champion’s cheeks.
‘Happy,’ Sidon decided. ‘That blush means he’s happy.’
“Anything else?” Link asked, chuckling, his feet dangling in the air.
“Only a reminder,” Sidon beamed at his hero. “I believe in you.”
Link mirrored his prince’s grin. “I love you, too.”