Actions

Work Header

The Role of a Knight

Chapter Text

Link had only been in God’s Crown for two days.

Two days.

How on earth had he managed to screw things up this quickly? He thought everything was going fine. Well, even. His captain seemed to like him well enough. Heck, he was even planning on going out to a bar with his fellow knights that evening to celebrate his first official day of training. Link wasn’t too keen on the idea at first, but the others in his squad told him he deserved it.

Apparently, though, they were dead wrong.

He had gotten the message just as his squad was about to leave. The captain walked into the barracks, nodded politely at the other knights gathering themselves up to head out, and honed in on Link, causing the poor boy to bolt upright to position and neary knock his head on a shelf.

“Link,” the captain said, his emotions unreadable in the dimly lit room, “the Commander wishes to see you.”

Link paled at that. Why did he want to see him, of all people? Link had only seen the commander with his own eyes once before, on his first day at the castle, and even then that was just the back of the man’s head. There was no way he should’ve caught the commander’s attention this early on. Not unless he had done something terrible.

As Link followed his captain to the Commander’s headquarters, he racked his brain to try and come up with what that terrible thing might’ve been. Was it because he had woken up too early that morning, causing him to throw off everyone’s schedule? He just wasn’t used to the new surroundings yet. Was it because his hair was too long and unkempt? He knew he should’ve cut it before arriving. Was it because he threw away his vegetables from last night’s dinner instead of eating them, wasting precious resources? Yeah, that was it; it must’ve been that one. He was such a fool. It wasn’t that he hated vegetables or anything, he was just full!

Were they really going to strip him of his knighthood for something like that?

The captain left him at the door to the commander’s office with a salute. Link saluted him back. He could feel his hand shaking. Taking a deep breath, he opened the door, and was greeted with the same back-of-the-head that he had seen on his first day.

Link saluted, standing upright at attention. The commander didn’t notice. He cleared his throat. The commander stayed still. Finally, Link opened his mouth, “Sir,” he said, holding back a wince as he heard his own timid voice ring out in the silent room.

“Hm? My apologies, I was lost in thought,” The commander finally turned around, allowing Link to see his face for the first time.

He looked young. Far too young to be commanding a royal army, at least. Not at all the sort of stern, battle-hardened general Link had always imagined would be leading the Hyrulian forces. He had high, defined cheekbones, bright blue eyes, and a perfectly symmetrical face, free from blemishes of any kind. His sun-bleached blonde hair paired nicely with the blue scarf that was draped over his shoulders. If Link hadn’t felt so nervous, he might’ve been endeared by the superior ranking officer’s beauty.

At the moment, however, it was far more intimidating than anything else.

“You must be Link. I’ve heard a lot about you, you know,” The commander said. There was a glimmer in his eyes and a smirk on his face. Link tried to decipher what that meant.

“You have, sir?” Link responded.

The commander nodded, “It seems you were quite the hero to your little village.”

Link winced, Oh. That. Realizing his mistake, Link regained his composure. Unfortunately, however, his reaction hadn’t gone unnoticed.

“You disagree?” The commander frowned inquizically.

Link floundered with his words, “Well, sir, it’s not...it’s just, you see-”

“Calm down, son. You look like a deer with an arrow pointed at its chest. Just tell it to me plainly.”

Link took a deep breath, “I just don’t feel I deserve the title of hero, sir.”

The commander raised an eyebrow, “Really? And why’s that? The lord you saved sounded quite enraptured by you when I spoke to him.”

“You spoke to him?” Link exclaimed, before attempting to dial it back down a bit, “Oh...well, that’s just it, sir. I didn’t even know he was nobility in the first place.”

“You...didn’t know? Interesting,” he tapped his chin, “And tell me, young knight, what does that have to do with whether or not you are worthy of the honor of being called a hero?”

Link paused.

“Be straight with me, boy. I don’t appreciate it when people hesitate. That is the quickest way to get yourself killed on the battlefield, and the quickest way to lose all credibility anywhere else.”

“Right. Yes, sir,” Link stood a little taller, “It’s just that, well, I think the whole thing was a fluke. I was in no way in proper form at the time. I just happened to stumble upon the situation, and I acted without thinking. Those are not the traits of a hero, sir. And yet, because of the high status of the one I saved, I was suddenly given all this credit, a knighthood, and an invitation to serve at God’s Crown...honesty it doesn’t seem fair, sir. There are so many better men in Hateno more deserving of the honor than me. I was simply lucky.”

Link was surprised at himself and the words that had spilled out of his mouth. There was absolutely no reason he should have said all of that to his commanding officer, let alone the Commander of the Hyrulian army. Yet, something had compelled him to do so. Perhaps it was the way the commander looked at Link, like his eyes were boring into his soul, reading him like an open book. Or maybe it was simply his good looks and charm. Even so, it was probably not the best idea for Link to have sold himself so short to his superior.

The commander turned around, his back facing Link once more. It frustrated Link. He wanted to leap out of position and look at the commander face-to-face, eager to know immediately how he would react to Link’s insufferable monologuing. Instead, however, Link stood still, the few seconds of waiting in silence feeling like hours.

“I see,” the commander finally said, “How old are you?”

Link blinked, “20, sir.”

“Mm. Tell me, young man, do you think a person who risks his life to save someone he doesn’t know, in a situation he wasn’t prepared for, is less of a hero than a man who saves a person because of that person’s status, in a situation he was well adapted for and thus in no true danger at all?”

Link was taken aback, “Well, I-”

“You are an interesting person, Link. I may have a special task for you,” he turned back to Link, a grin on his face, “One more thing. The lord I spoke to, he called you a wildling. A lunatic with a courageous heart. Why do you think that is?”

Link resisted the urge to tug at his hair, “That...may have been because of my methods, sir.”

“Your methods?”

“Yes, well, you see...they were rather unconventional.”

“Unconventional, how?”

If Link was feeling uncomfortable before, it was nothing compared to how he felt now. “...I used a spoon.”

The commander folded his arms, “You killed a moblin...with a spoon?”

Rushing to defend himself, Link blurted out, “Well, I set the spoon on fire, too.” Not helping, Link.

The commander raised his eyebrows, and for a moment, a deathly silence hung in the office. Then, suddenly, the commander belted out a hearty laughter, “Yes, I think you’ll be perfect.”

Link narrowed his eyes in puzzlement, “Perfect for what, sir?”

The commander put his hands on his chest, his voice still laced with amusement, “For the Royal Guard, of course. I want you to be the prince’s personal knight.”

Link’s composure, which had been wavering all night, finally collapsed. “Wh-what?!”

“You heard me,” The commander looked absolutely delighted, “I think you’ll make for a great addition to the Royal Court. I’ll let the advisor know immediately.”

“Wait!” Link flailed his arms in objection, “I can’t possibly be fit for such a position, I mean I’ve only been a full knight for a few weeks now, and this is only my second day in God’s Crown-”

“Just call it Castle Town, Link. No need to be so formal.”

“Right, Castle Town. See sir? Exactly my point! I don’t know the local lingo! I haven’t even been inside the castle, let alone much of the town itself-”

“Good, then the prince can give you a tour. Perfect bonding time.”

“But sir! I don’t think I’m even old enough to accept such an honor!”

“Age is just a number. It is a person’s spirit that defines who they are. And you, my boy, have exactly the sort of spirit I am looking for.”

Link crumpled, defeated, “Regardless, sir, I must decline your generous offer.”

The commander frowned, “May I ask why?”

Link straightened his back once more, “Sir, with all due respect, I would rather earn my way to that sort of position than be handed it on a silver platter. I haven’t done anything to deserve such a role.”

The commander pursed his lips. A look of disappointment hung on his face, “I understand. I know exactly how you feel. But, young knight, I urge you to reconsider. You have already proven your worth. Not because you saved some lord from a moblin, but because of the character you have demonstrated tonight while speaking with me. That’s what an interview is for, after all.”

Link stopped, “Interview, sir?”

“Is that not what you would call this? It is customary for all potential Royal Guard members to be interviewed by the commanding officer before they can even be considered for evaluation of the Royal Advisor.” Evaluation? “Then of course after that comes the trial period,” Trial period? “And finally the initiation ceremony,” Initiation? “Not so much a position that can be handed on a ‘silver platter,’ if you ask me,” the commander winked, “But I understand if you want to wait. We’ll find someone else who is up for the challenge.”

“Wait,” Link bit his lip, “Could I...have some time to think it over?” Despite his previous misgivings, he had to admit he wanted to say yes. To be a part of the Royal Guard...to serve directly under the prince and king themselves...that would be a dream come true. And it sounded like even with the commander’s recommendation, he would still be given the opportunity to prove himself worthy of that position. That he would truly have earned his way there. But, at the same time, was that too easy? Would he be betraying his morals by accepting the opportunity?

“Of course,” the commander clapped his hands, satisfied, “Come see me first thing in the morning with your answer. Until then, you are free to go.”

“Thank you, sir,” With one final salute, Link left the building, the cool night air hitting his hot face. Was he...had he been sweating? Link put a hand to his forehead, a headache forming from the swarm of emotions he had just gone through. Walking back to the barracks, his mind was fuzzy. He had no idea what he was going to do.

Chapter Text

Link walked down the dirt path in the early morning light, the sound of cuccos crowing in the distance. He still had no idea what he was going to tell the commander. He had gone through the pros and cons in his head a thousand times, listing them out and comparing them obsessively, but no matter how much time he spent thinking it through, he could never get past the thinking part and get to the deciding part. He wanted the position badly, yet despite his desires, he worried that he wouldn’t be able to live up to the commander’s great expectations. Did he really deserve so much credit?

When the rest of his squad came back from the bar the previous night, Link had asked them for advice. They all enthusiastically told him to go for it, but Link wasn’t sure he could trust their opinion. They were rather drunk. He had no idea how they could possibly get through morning training. Did they really celebrate like that all the time?

Although, Link wasn't in any better state. He had barely gotten a wink of sleep last night.

As these and other thoughts crossed through Link’s mind, time seemed to speed up and before he realized it he was already at the commander’s office doorstep. Still, with no answer. He paused, his fist raised to knock on the door. He remembered what the commander had told him last night, about hesitation. Taking a deep breath, he made to knock the door.

However, before he could it opened with a bang. A kid came barreling forward, practically tackling Link on his way out.

“Sorry!” the kid shouted over his shoulder, running out of sight. Link contemplated going after him. The kid certainly looked like he was up to no good, seeing as this random child had just made a mad dash out of the Commander of the Royal Army’s office. Before he could make a move, however, a familiar voice called out to him from inside the quarters.

“It’s alright Link, that’s just my brother, Wind. Don’t worry about him.”

Strange name, was the only thought that managed to cross Link’s mind at the moment.

“Come in. Oh! Uh,” the commander started, “You may want to check your wallet, just in case.”

Link let out a nervous laugh, unsure if the commander was joking or not. The commander didn’t return it. Link checked his wallet, but it was still there...Did the commander think his brother would pickpocket him?

“He’s up pretty early for a kid his age,” Link said.

The commander shrugged and rubbed his temples before leaning back in his chair, “More like up extremely late. A couple guards found him trying to sneak into the Armory at 3 am this morning. I swear, I’m going to end up killing that kid. He thinks that just because his big brother is the Commander of the Royal Army he can get away with whatever he wants!”

That got a laugh out of Link, reminding him of his own family life, “I have a sister. Back at Hateno,” he said, glancing at the doorway wistfully.

“Oh, do you?” The commander sat up and smiled, “How old?”

“She’s turning nine, next month.”

“Wow,” the commander had a starry look in his eyes, “I have a sister around that age as well,” he paused. Link wondered what sort of thoughts were crossing his mind. “Your sister, is she interested in becoming a knight like yourself?”

Link laughed, “Oh, goddesses, I hope not,” Suddenly he realized who he was speaking to, “Not that being a knight is bad or anything. I just, you know, want her to stay safe.”

The commander nodded and grinned, “Of course! That’s perfectly reasonable. Besides, she’s far too young to be thinking of that sort of thing anyway...Meanwhile, Wind has no desire to join the army at all. He thinks it’s too boring,” he put that last word in air quotes, “Then again, anything that boy finds fun is either illegal, dangerous, or a combination of the two,” the commander sighed, “I’m trying to get him into engineering. The royal train engineer, Alfonzo, is taking apprentices. It’s no knighthood, but it’s a respectable field, and I think Wind would really enjoy it if he gave it a try,” he groaned, “Listen to me. I sound like my father. Let’s change the subject.”

Darn it, Link thought.

“Have you made your decision?’

“Y-yes,” Link lied.

There was a brief silence. The commander raised an eyebrow, “...And?”

Link thought about his family for a moment, about his sister and his parents back home. He remembered when he first told them that he was planning on joining the army and becoming a soldier, like his father once had been. At the time, he hadn’t really desired to go anywhere beyond that point, but he remembered his father telling him that if was going to do something, then he should put everything into it. Link took that to heart. He worked hard with the intention of making his family proud.

But lately, luck had been his driving force. It was what got him his knighthood. It was what sent him to God’s Crown - Castle Town - in the first place. If not for luck, he wouldn’t be standing there at that moment. It didn’t sit well with Link. He didn’t want to go through life coasting. He wanted to take charge and drive his own path in the dirt.

So, with that all in mind, Link was sure he was about to say no to the commander. But then, a different thought occurred to him.

This was his choice, his opportunity to do something greater than anything he had done before, and he was about to blow it. If he said anything but yes, if he didn’t at least try, he would be doing exactly what he said he didn’t want to do: taking the easy way out. In that case, there was really only ever going to be one answer he gave the commander.

“Sir, I would be honored to accept your proposition.”

The commander smirked, “So cheesy. You’re beginning to sound like me,” he jumped out of his seat and clapped, startling Link, “Regardless, you have no idea how happy I am to hear that. Finally, some good news! I can’t wait to tell Time!”

Link tugged at his hair, “Uh, it’s like...6-am, ish?”

“What?” The commander looked at Link, “Oh! No. That’s just the royal advisor’s name. You’ll meet him soon enough.”

“Oh. Okay,” Link shrugged. Another strange name.

“Speaking of which,” the commander said, “there’s something I should explain to you before we go any further,” he folded his arms, “You see-”

Suddenly the door burst open and someone wearing the royal guard’s uniform ran in, “Commander Warrior!” They saluted, and the commander saluted back, “It’s...it’s your brother again.”

The commander put his face in his hands, “Hylia damn it, Wind!” He looked at Link, “...Forgive my language. I’m...needed elsewhere. Meet me at the castle entrance after this morning’s training. Time should be out of the early meetings by then. We can get started on your evaluation,” the commander walked out of the room briskly, leaving Link alone with the royal guard.

The evaluation already? Link thought, nervousness creeping back into his stomach. Suddenly another thought overtook his mind, “The commander’s name is Warrior?” He thought aloud.

“Uh, yeah,” the royal guard replied, “You didn’t know that?”

Link shrugged, “I’ve just been referring to him as 'the commander' in my head this entire time.” Does everyone in God's Cro- Castle Town have such strange names?

-~-~-~-~-

Training that morning was lengthy and grueling. The adrenaline Link had been running on since he had started the day a nervous wreck had all but been extinguished at that point. Turns out attempting to swing a sword while running on three hours of sleep was not a good idea. Who knew? Throw on top of that the lecture he had been given by his Captain about showing up late, despite Link’s attempts to explain that he had been speaking to Commander Warrior, and the 15 extra laps assigned to him as punishment. All things considered, Link was about ready to collapse on the dirt right then and there.

What was the point of this, anyway? Wouldn’t he just be reassigned once he was admitted to the royal guard? That would be getting ahead of myself, Link thought. He wasn’t guaranteed the spot yet. He still had to make it through evaluation.

Evaluation, Link pondered, walking towards where he thought was the castle entrance, attempting to shake off his aches and pains. It was taking him longer than he thought it would to find said entrance. The castle was huge, with many twists and turns, and going from the training grounds Link had no idea which way he was supposed to go. He probably should have asked for directions, but how hard should it have been find the front door of the most important place in the whole kingdom of Hyrule? Too hard, apparently.

As he continued walking through what seemed to be a garden of some sorts, his ears perked to the sound of strings being plucked on a harp. An alluring melody filled the air. Link stopped for a moment and closed his eyes, allowing the lovely tune to consume his entire being. Maybe whoever is playing can point the way to the entrance, Link thought, tuning to where the sound was coming from and marching in that direction.

Nearing the source of the music, Link came upon a gigantic tree, in full bloom with spring blossoms. Looking up through the tree’s branches he made out the form of a man lying lazily amongst the flowery blossoms, strumming and plucking at an elaborate gold-colored lyre. He wore a simple tunic and a long, silky red scarf that could give the commander’s a run for its money. He had fluffy, dirty-blonde hair tied in a short, loose pony-tail. Also, from what Link could tell, he had an uncharacteristically robust build for such a seemingly indolent character.

“Excuse me!” Link reluctantly called. He was disappointed he had to interrupt the man’s elegant playing but he was determined not to miss his meeting with the advisor and the commander.

The man in the tree slowly stopped his strumming and stared down at Link, a tired and indifferent look in his eyes, “Yes, hello there. Can I help you with something?” he said, his voice breezy and dream-like.

“Uh,” Link began. Something about this guy seemed eerily familiar to him, like he’d seen him somewhere before, but he couldn’t quite place his finger on it. It made him uncomfortable, like he was speaking to some nature spirit that had been following him his entire life but was only now revealing himself to him. He shook off the feeling, “I’m looking for the castle entrance, can you help me?”

The mysterious tree-man sat up gracefully and placed his lyre in a bag fastened over his shoulder, “You’re a soldier, yes? You don’t know where the entrance is?”

Link crossed his arms, “Well, this is only my third day.”

The man rested his head in his hands, “Interesting. May I ask what business you have at the castle entrance?”

“I’m meeting with Commander Warrior,” Link said curtly. He didn’t know how much he could tell this strange man, and frankly, he didn’t have the time to give his life story at the moment. He was already extremely late.

“Ah, I see,” the man’s eyes sparkled, “So the commander has chosen another knight for the prince to play with? How lovely. What’s your name, Ser Knight?”

Okay, just going to move past all of that. “Link,” he said.

“Really? How funny,” the man’s voice drifted off, a twitch of amusement following it.

“What’s so funny about my name?” Link questioned defensively.

The man blinked slowly, “If you don’t know, then I won’t tell you. Wouldn’t want to spoil anything,” he gave a small smile.

That baffled Link. “What’s your name then?”

The harp-player took out from his pack what looked like a large white cloth with blue thread intricately etched throughout it. He spread it out and jumped from his perch in the tree, using it like a parachute to glide safely to the ground and meet Link where he stood, “They call me Sky, the bard,” he said, “Though I’m not sure how well that name suits me.”

Oh, it suits you, Link thought, You’ve certainly got your head up in the clouds.

“I can take you to the castle entrance,” Sky said as he began his trek, packing away the cloth, “It’s not far from here. Though I’m not sure how you managed to get here from the training grounds without passing it. You must’ve walked all over the castle grounds.”

Link inwardly groaned. Why didn’t he just ask for directions in the first place? For all he knew he had already failed the evaluation. “Thank you, Sky,” he said, following the bard.

“You’re very welcome, Link,” he had an amused tone in his voice as he said that, and once again Link couldn’t help but wonder why his name was so funny to the strange man. Honestly it felt a bit rude. It wasn’t as though Link was a very uncommon name.

The golden lyre in the man’s bag glimmered in the sun, which was now high in the sky. Link glanced at the harp, admiring the complex detail of its bird-like edges, “You play beautifully,” Link said.

“Thank you,” Sky replied. Link noted as the man looked down at his harp that there was a somewhat distant twinge in his eyes.

“This might seem like a strange question,” Link dared to venture, “but have we met before? You seem rather familiar.”

Sky looked at Link. His eyes gave nothing away, “I think not,” he started, “I do get that a lot though. Perhaps you came across me on my travels?” He didn’t seem to have much interest either way.

“Have you ever been to Hateno Town?” Link suggested.

The bard simply shrugged, “I might have.”

“Near Mount Lanayru?” Link questioned.

“Possibly,” the bard replied.

“...In the Hateno region?” Link attempted.

“Maybe,” The bard said breezily.

Well, this is going nowhere, Link thought, deciding to keep quiet rather than push the already dwindling and one-sided conversation. Instead, Link took in the sights around him as they walked through the serene garden. The tranquil sounds of nature filled up Link’s spirit and reinvigorated him. It reminded him of the woods back home - no people to distract him, no sounds of swords clanging together or captains yelling at him for being late.

“Link! You’re late!”

Spoke too soon.

Link looked over to see the commander charging after him through the trees, a look of distress plastered on his face. Sky didn’t seem to react at all, choosing instead to watch the scene with contented amusement.

When the commander finally caught up with Link, he put his hands on his shoulders, looking him over, “Did something happen? Training should have ended an hour ago!” he exclaimed.

Link pulled at a strand of his hair, “Yeah, I, uh...kind of got held up.”

The commander’s eyes widened, “Link, you look terrible!”

Link looked down at his uniform. It was covered in a thick layer of dirt, supplemented by patches of dry sweat, torn fabric, and grass stains. His hair was no better; the bun that had once been holding it in place had long since been reduced to a knotted mess lying lop-sided on Link’s head. Taking a good look, Link was surprised Sky hadn’t taken off in fear the moment Link had approached his tree. Then again, the bard didn’t seem to be fazed by much of anything.

Link laughed half-heartedly.

“Oh, I see,” the commander rubbed the back of his neck, “They must’ve worked you harder for showing up late, eh? I suppose I should’ve given you a note or something.”

No kidding, Link thought.

“Oh well! A little exercise never hurt anybody,” Commander Warrior declared. Link frowned. The commander looked over to Sky, “Ah! I see you two have met. So Sky, what do you think? Did I make the right choice?” The commander threw an arm around Link, displaying him like a trophy to be examined.

The bard took out his harp and strummed absentmindedly, “You’re trying something different with this one, aren’t you?” He said. The commander nodded. Sky continued to strum, “He is interesting, I’ll give you that. And he already has so much in common with the prince. Although, I’m not sure how you expect the young knight to be able to keep tabs on his Highness when he can’t even keep tabs on himself,” the bard chuckled.

Link mouth opened. Wow. Rude.

The commander noticed Link’s reaction, “He means no offense, I assure you,” he looked at Sky, “You give the knight too little credit, my friend. I have a good feeling about him.”

Sky shrugged, “If you say so. I’m curious to see how it turns out, at least. Let me know how the king reacts.”

The commander grinned, “Definitely.”

“Good luck, Ser Link,” the bard bowed and turned around, strolling lazily back into the depths of the gardens.

The commander turned to Link, “You’re lucky you ran into Sky and not anyone else. Really, you look awful! How do you expect to leave a good impression with Time when you give off the air of a redead?”

Link stared at the other, “Seriously?” he said flatly.

“Yes, seriously. This evaluation is very important, and you’re already blowing it! Do you want to make me look bad?”

Link noticed how jittery the commander suddenly seemed now that the crazy tree-man was out of the picture. His hair was ruffled, his eyes were darting up and down as he examined Link, and he kept clenching and unclenching his fists.

“Why are you nervous?” Link asked. I’m the one who should be nervous around here!

“What? Me? Nervous? Never. What gave you that impression? I’m perfectly calm,” the commander’s words did nothing to convince Link. He continued, “Now, come on, the entrance is just over this hill.”

Chapter Text

As soon as they came into view of the entrance, all thoughts of the Commander’s strange behavior left Link’s mind. The entrance was just as grand as he had imagined. A long, wide, stone staircase led up to a large doorway surrounded by guards.The doors themselves were carved with intricate designs. They detailed ornate symbols and shapes, most of which Link did not recognize. At the center of the doors, the symbol of the Royal Family - the Triforce - was predominantly displayed and lined with gold. The whole scene was more magnificent than anything Link had ever seen in his entire life.

Until, of course, the doors were opened.

Link’s jaw dropped at the beauty of the castle’s interior. Everything seemed to sparkle. Stain-glass windows filled the hall with color, depicting myths and legends of heroes and rulers lost to the ages. Even the ceilings were decorated with flowery murals. Link whirled around, taking in every detail.

The Commander noticed and smirked, “Don’t worry, the rest of the castle isn’t nearly this pompous,” he chuckled, but the same nervousness that Link had heard before laced his voice. As though attempting to keep the topic off the subject at hand, he added, “This is just to please the nobles and dignitaries. You’ll get used to it in time.”

The Commander walked on, Link following suit. He noticed some people in elaborate outfits - presumably the nobles to which the Commander was referring. They stared at him as he walked by, causing Link to suddenly be incredibly aware of how under dressed he was in comparison with his stained uniform and raggedy hair. Looking back, he noticed he was trailing mud into the castle. The pristine floors were stained with smudged foot prints.

Whoops. The Advisor’s not gonna like that, Link thought. He shook away his concerns.

As they continued, turning corners along the winding pathway, the lavishness did indeed seem to lessen. Instead of the ostentatious lighting and design of the earlier hall, everything appeared much simpler in comparison. The walls and windows alike appeared older and less cared for, as though they had walked into a more ancient part of the castle. Doors lined the inner wall, and Link wondered what mysteries were being held inside.

Perhaps the prince would show him. If he passed the examination and lasted long enough to meet him, that is. It was too soon to get one’s hopes up like that. Especially when Link knew absolutely nothing about him. Or the advisor, for that matter. How was he supposed to leave a good impression if he had absolutely no idea what he was getting into? Link could sense an oncoming disaster.

Link’s thoughts were interrupted by the Commander pausing mid-step. He turned to Link, his eyes betraying the stoic facade he presented. The man surveyed Link’s appearance once more. Then he bit his lip in thought.

“May I?” He asked, gesturing to Link’s hair, or rather the tangled mess jutting out of the young knight’s head.

“Uh, sure,” Link shrugged and turned around, allowing the Commander to begin plucking out the leaves and twigs that had managed to wrap themselves in Link’s hair.

“Time’s a difficult man to please,” Commander Warrior started, “Especially right now. As long as you remain focused, however, you’ll do fine, I’m sure,” The shakiness in his voice did nothing to restore any confidence in Link, “He’s going to ask you a number of questions that, in the long run, won’t matter one bit. Questions about your family, your lifestyle, your values… That sort of thing. All in all, if we’re lucky, the evaluation could take as little time as a few hours.”

That’s little?

The Commander continued, “Just remember to stay calm and answer honestly. He can tell if you’re lying,” The Commander paused. He began braiding Link’s hair, “To tell the truth, you don’t have much to be worried about. It’s more me he’ll be evaluating anyway.”

Link’s eyes widened at that. As the Commander finished up, Link turned to face him, “What do you mean?” he asked.

The Commander tapped his chin, “You weren’t my first choice as Prince Guard, you know.”

Link felt a pang in his chest. Sure, in his head it would have been obvious that he was not the first choice, but the pang was still there.

Commander Warrior’s lips tightened, “Actually, you’re my seventh.”

“Seventh?” Link repeated.

The Commander nodded, “It seems the prince goes through guards faster than the kingdom goes through rulers,” he let out a light laugh.

Link didn’t have time to acknowledge all of that, so he stuck with, “The prince relieved them?”

“Quite the opposite. They quit,” Commander Warrior shook his head, “Imagine: six trained knights, each more decorated and experienced than the last, and none of those so-called men and women of valor could handle a simple kid plucked off the streets of the Drains.”

The Commander scowled as he looked at Link, “So you see, this is my last shot. I have already failed six times to find the prince a suitable guard. If I fail again, I won’t get another chance. I’ll have permanently lost the trust of both the King and his advisor, if I haven’t lost it already. My reputation is at stake here.”

Link couldn’t believe his ears. He stared at the Commander, “Then why in the world did you pick me?” The words flew out of his mouth before he could stop them, “Er, not that I’m ungrateful, or anything, I-”

“No, it’s alright,” The Commander stroked his chin, “I understand your reaction. In fact, that’s exactly the sort of question I’m expecting from Time,” he gestured to Link, “You don’t exactly look the part of a Royal Guard,” he closed his eyes and smirked, proclaiming, “However, that is, in a certain sense, precisely the point.”

Link furrowed his eyebrows.

“I am hoping,” the Commander explained, “That someone as young, inexperienced, chaotic, and totally eager-to-please as yourself will be able to keep up with the prince's antics. At least enough that you won’t feel… disrespected by his behavior, perhaps,” The Commander turned around, his back facing Link, “I am also hoping, although this could be a bit too optimistic on my part, that the two of you might become friends. Goddess knows the prince needs some of those. Besides-” he shuddered, “-the king, I mean.”

He paused, “Basically, after six failed attempts going the logical route, I was forced to look at things from a not-so-logical perspective.”

The Commander then whipped around and pointed at Link, “And you, young knight, are exactly the sort of not-so-logical I was looking for. You’re lucky number seven. My all-in gamble. My wild card,” He let the point settle.

“I don’t expect Time to understand the reasoning behind my choice,” He concluded, “So you’ll have to work hard to prove yourself worthy of the position,” he let out a short chuckle, “Exactly the sort of challenge you were looking for, eh?”

Link didn’t know what to say. The immense weight of the situation was like a pile of bricks being dumped on his head. Was this really what he was asking for? It seemed the goddesses had cursed him for his hubris. A part of him wanted to give up right then and there, turn back and return to his comfort zone. Maybe leave God’s Crown or Castle Town or whatever it was called altogether. Go back home to Hateno and work on the family farm for the rest of his miserable life. However, another part of him felt a rush of excitement at the challenge. If he truly wanted to do this, to prove to the Commander and to himself that he was capable of doing this, now was his chance.

So, like the semi-trained knight he was, he steeled himself for whatever was coming next.

Commander Warrior curtly nodded and turned around, walking a short distance and stopping in front of one of the doors. He turned his head to face Link one more time, “By any chance, do you know any jokes? Time loves jokes.”

Link thought for a moment before answering, “What do you call a fake noodle?”

The Commander blinked.

“An im-pasta,” Link finger-gunned for emphasis, muffling his laughter at his own witticism.

The Commander took a moment to process Link’s words. Then, he suddenly let out a hearty laugh, “That’s perfect!” he exclaimed.

Link grinned as he felt pride well up in his chest.

“Just the right amount of terrible. Time’ll love it,” Commander Warrior finished.

And Link’s pride was immediately dashed. I thought it was pretty funny, he thought.

The Commander didn’t seem to notice the defeated look on Link’s face. He gave the door a few solid raps before taking hold of the handle and promptly opening it, not bothering to wait for a response. He stepped inside. Link followed closely behind.

A loud CRASH could be heard from inside the room as large stacks of paper fell off a desk to the ground and a person quickly stood from his chair, looking almost as worse-for-wear as Link appeared himself. The Commander withheld a chuckle as the man glared at him and began picking the papers up off the floor. Commander Warrior knelt down to help.

“Were you taking a nap, Advisor?” he asked casually, but his voice was laced with that ever-growing nervousness from before.

“Absolutely not. You just took me by surprise, is all. How did you find me?” The advisor stood up, papers in hand.

The action emphasised the man’s height, appearing tall and broad-shouldered in comparison to Link, who was much shorter in stature. He dusted off his slightly wrinkled, fancy-looking uniform and adjusted the gold chain that hung around his neck. His hair was parted at the center and slightly ruffled, although Link could see he had attempted to fix it some time before the two of them interrupted the man’s work. Despite him looking to be in his mid-thirties, a few gray hairs visibly stood out amidst the golden-blonde.

A single scar marred the right side of his face, leaving him with only one piercing-blue eye to shoot daggers at the Commander. And in the poor lighting, Link thought he spotted some strange markings decorating his skin.

The Commander stood up, placed down the papers, and folded his arms, “You always come into this side office to work in peace after a stressful meeting,” he grinned apologetically, “Which is basically every meeting. You spend more time here than in your actual office.”

From the looks of the place, that statement was true. Link shifted his weight awkwardly. He didn’t know where to stand in such a small space. Papers and parchments littered the floor, leaving little room to move around. The only light source seemed to be a single small window filtering in the sun from behind the advisor’s chair. His desk sat in front of that. It was covered in so many folders, books, parchments, letters, and quills that it’s hard wood surface was completely hidden. The clutter only served to make Link more antsy.

The Advisor sighed, defeated, and collapsed in his chair. The Commander’s tone grew more concerned, his nervousness dissipating, “Perhaps you should take a nap, Time. Or, better yet, a vacation. How long has it been since you last went home to see your wife?”

“Too long,” Advisor Time answered, rubbing his temples as his tone became more casual to match the Commander’s, “But I can’t leave now. Not when the court is in such a state. Not until the kingdom’s affairs have settled down and some sense of normalcy has returned.”

“That should be your catchphrase, you say it so much,” The Commander’s lips twitched, “Since when has this place ever had a sense of normalcy?”

Time shook his head.

The Commander then cracked a smile, “What did the rat do this time?”

Time shot the Commander a look, but kept his tone light, “The usual. Yelled at the dignitaries, spewed numerous profanities in the presence of the foreign royals, enacted several changes to the traditional systems of which I was appointed to oversee the paperwork for, and attempted to make pants illegal.”

Commander Warrior stifled a laugh. Link looked at the two of them, wondering if perhaps he should speak up and get their attention, or stay quiet while they continue to speak about whoever this rat person was. The only person Link could think of that seemed to fit their descriptions was the King, but… The Commander of the Royal Army, of all people, wouldn’t refer to His Royal Majesty as a rat, would he?

Time folded his arms, “I’m sorry, was there a reason you interrupted my work? Or would you rather stand there mocking me as I continue to regret my life choices?” Despite his words, his expression became more stern, his tone more serious.

The Commander straightened his back in response, “We had a meeting scheduled,” he responded quickly, “About the Prince Guard.”

Link stood at attention, attempting to make himself look as Royal-Guard-y as possible. So, the opposite of how he usually appeared.

To his surprise, the Advisor simply groaned, causing Link to falter from his stance. Advisor Time put his head in his hands, rubbing his eyes with his palms, “Deku nuts. I completely forgot about that,” he muttered, “Whose bright idea was it to schedule a meeting like this without even a day to prepare?”

Commander Warrior, usually so charismatic and confident with his words, fumbled, “Er, you, Time. You told me to come to you the moment I had someone. The protection of the prince takes top priority, and all that. Your words, not mine.”

“Why would I say that?” The Advisor groaned a second time, “You’re right, though. Or, I suppose I’m right. Fine. We’ll make it quick. Where is the knight you’ve chosen?”

The Commander and Link slowly turned to look at each other. They looked back at Time. After a brief moment of silence, the Commander motioned Link forward and put one hand on his shoulder. Link stood tall, “That would be me, sir,” Link said, lowering his voice a bit.

The Advisor raised an eyebrow, crossed his arms, and looked at the Commander, “This is him?”

“That’s right,” The Commander grinned. Even at Link’s awkward angle he could see how forced it looked.

Link thought he heard Time grumble, “I thought he was your squire or something…” But Time seemed to shake off the comment. Then, for a terribly, horribly long moment, all was silent. One might’ve thought time - the construct - had completely frozen if not for Time - the person - narrowing his eye and slowly examining Link’s persona.

After what felt like hours, yet somehow also only feeling like a split-second, the frozen silence was broken by the Advisor shrugging his shoulders, taking a deep breath, and declaring clearly, “He looks fine to me.”

The reaction was immediate. The Commander looked like he was going to pass out, taking his hand off of Link’s shoulder and holding his arms up in utter confusion and shock. Link himself had a very similar reaction, falling out of his stance completely and using the cluttered table to steady himself. His eyes widened and his nose flared as he sputtered nonsense. The only coherent sound that came out of his mouth was, “Impasta...?”

The Advisor stared at him.

Commander Warrior, thankfully, managed to take the attention off of the poor knight, “What do you mean, ‘He looks fine to me’? He most certainly does not look fine! He’s completely disheveled, and unprofessional, and inexperienced, and young-”

“Well, if you don’t think he’s the right fit-” Time started.

“No! No! He’s the perfect fit! But you weren’t supposed to think that!” The Commander exclaimed.

The Advisor merely shook his head, “I’m confused. Do you or do you not think this young man is capable of protecting the prince?”

Link looked at Commander Warrior, eyes wide.

The Commander steadied his breathing. He took a moment, attempting to process all the events that were unfolding around him, “He is. I’m sure of it.”

Time folded his hands, “Then there’s nothing more to be said about it.”

“It’s that simple?” Commander Warrior asked, “You really trust me that much?”

“Of course I trust you, Warrior. More than anyone in this Hylia-forsaken court. I’m sure you’ve got a reason for picking the man you did.”

“I do,” the Commander said.

“Well then,” The Advisor gave a tight smile and stood up, ushering the two of them to the door, “I think we’re done here. Good to meet you, Ser…”

“Uh, Link,” the young man found his voice.

“Link?” The Advisor’s expression was unreadable, “Really?” The question was more directed at the Commander than at Link himself.

“Purely coincidence, I assure you,” The Commander responded. Link might’ve wondered what that meant if his brain wasn’t so fuzzy he could barely hear the words the two were saying, much less comprehend them.

“Right. I’ll let you tell the king, then,” The Advisor shook his head and pushed the two of them out the small office, closing the door hard behind them.

That left Link to process what it was that just happened.

Commander Warrior let out a huge sigh of relief, “Well, that went a lot better than I expected! Congratulations, Link! You passed!” He belted out a laugh, stretching his back and arms. All of his trademark confidence seemed to return to him the moment that door was slammed shut.

The same could not be said for Link, who simply stared at the Commander, his lips twitching slightly downward.

“Oh, cheer up, Link. Think of it this way: You don’t have to go through all that long, boring interview nonsense, and I don’t have to sit through Time questioning my judgement for hours. It’s a win-win!” The Commander clapped Link on the back. He barely registered it.

“Uh huh,” Link said weakly.

The Commander frowned, thinking for a moment, “But I suppose that wasn’t totally the challenge you were hoping for, was it? We do have a few hours to spare…”

Link blinked. His mind felt numb.

Commander Warrior snapped, “How about this? I can conduct my own sort of evaluation. The same way I pick out new recruits.”

Link didn’t respond.

“Yes, it’ll be great! We can really put your training to the test,” The Commander whooped, “I am so relieved. Like the world has just been lifted from my shoulders. I feel like I could take on a hundred bokoblins right now!” He smirked, “But one Hylian knight will have to do.”

Suddenly Link’s mind cleared, and it became very evident what the Commander was going on about, “Wait, hold on-”

“Yes. You’ve convinced me. Meet me at the training grounds in an hour, Link. Choose your finest weapon! I’d love to see what you can do with that flaming spoon of yours,” He laughed, “A good old fashioned sparring match! I can’t wait!” Before Link could say anything, the Commander walked off, feet light and breezy. He certainly looked like he could take on the whole world at that moment.

Yes, surely the goddesses have cursed Link for his hubris.

Chapter Text

The next hour came and went far too quickly for Link's liking. His head was still swimming from the evaluation, if one could even call that five-minute chat an "evaluation" in the first place, and that was disregarding the looming sparring match hanging over his head like a guillotine.

Things were moving so fast. Why was it that every time he started to feel like he was in control of his life something happened to pull the reins right out from under him once again? Just that morning he was sparring with other rookies in his platoon, and now he was heading to the same training grounds to spar with the most powerful man in the Hyrulian forces. He might as well have gone from squire to knight in less than a day.

Oh, wait. He pretty much did that, too. How it was that doing one heroic deed for some fat nobleman could earn you the same honor as a man that had been training for it for years, Link would never know.

He really had been riding on luck this entire time, hadn't he?

But however many spoons he set on fire, however many food puns was able to muster up, however many advisors he was able to win over simply because they were too tired to think properly, none of that was going to change the fact that Link was most definitely going to get pummeled to death, his body tossed all the way back to his hometown of Hateno, by the man so mighty they felt the need to call him Commander Warrior. Perhaps a more apt comparison would be a stablehand who had only ever handled ponies being thrust in front of a lynel.

He couldn't rely on luck to get him through this. He needed a plan.

And he had about five minutes to come up with one before he would make it to the training grounds. Drawing near to the place of his death, Link could hear the sounds of weapons clanging against each other and soldiers shouting battle cries as they sparred. It sounded exactly like the training grounds back home, before he became a knight and his entire life was completely and utterly changed into something unrecognizable. At least some things always stayed the same. The noise, as loud and ear-piercing as it was, somehow managed to calm Link's nerves a bit.

Perhaps he was overreacting. The Commander may have been one of the strongest people in the army, but Link was a soldier, too. He knew how to fight, and he was pretty good at it. Relatively speaking. It came a whole lot more naturally to him than impressing aristocrats, for one thing. He was among his fellow soldiers, in a place he felt at home in. Confidence began to surge through Link. He may have been stumbling along during the interview in the Commander's office, or while getting lost in the gardens and meeting a tree-man, or making a fool of himself in front of castle nobility, but in the training grounds, he was in his element. Walking into that arena-type setting, it felt comforting to know that he wouldn't stand out so much there like he had in the castle.

Which is why, of course, his amazing luck seemed to cause the entire battlefield to freeze the moment he stepped into the wide open space, all eyes pointed directly on him.

Maybe he was just unlucky.

Link tried to ignore the stares as he moved further into the training grounds, and thankfully the majority of the gawkers seemed to lose interest rather quickly. He wasn't quite positive why everyone was so intent on giving him their full attention, but he had a feeling that it had something to do with his evaluation. That only happened an hour ago though, how had news spread so quickly?

Fortunately, or rather unfortunately, he didn't have to wonder long. A small group of soldiers rounded on him as Link continued to make his way through the field in search of the commander. He immediately recognized them as his squad, and before he could say any sort of greeting they bombarded him with questions.

"Link, how much of the castle did you get to see?" One, a petite woman with white-colored hair named Mina, said, "Did you see the treasury? I heard they keep live animals there-"

"Link! I have to know, what is the advisor like?" Another, taller woman named Aliza added, "He's a hero, you know, I heard he used to be a part of the royal guard but quit because of a heartbreaking tragedy-"

"Link, did you meet any fancy nobles? Maybe a dignitary? A foreign dignitary? Like a prince-" A third one, a man with his head completely covered by a helmet named Savelle, asked.

Honestly most of what they said sounded like nonsensical gossip. Link attempted to address some of their questions, but never got more than a grunt or a sound of acknowledgement out of his mouth before a new question overtook his senses. Until one person's voice sounded over the others.

"We heard about the evaluation. Please, you have to tell us how you managed to do it," Link zeroed in on the speaker. Nazbi, a tan man with purple-colored hair and a curious smile on his face, had his arms folded innocently.

Link opened his mouth, "What do you mean?"

He balked at Link's response, and the rest of the group quieted down, "You know, fail it in record time and piss off the Commander," he said it so matter-of-factly he could've convinced even Link of the statement's validity if he had not been the subject of that sentence in the first place. He felt a pang run through him.

"What are you talking about?" he asked.

The knight spluttered, "Well, I- we, well we just assumed-" Nazbi paused, "That is why you are sparring with the Commander, is it not? Everyone's talking about it."

Link furrowed his eyebrows. No wonder so many rumors flew through the army, if people took simple information like that and spun their own tales around it, "First off, that is not why at all. I actually passed, believe it or not," it was one thing for Link to self-deprecating, it was another thing entirely for others to do it.

"Oh. Well, congrats, Link!" The group cheered as though nothing had happened.

Link quieted them down. There was still one question he had to ask, "How did you guys find out about the match, anyway? The Commander decided that on a whim an hour ago! No one was there!"

Just then, as though arriving right on queue, the sound of strings strumming on a harp reached the groups ears. Link's jaw dropped at the sound, "Wait a minute..."

Whipping around, Link was greeted to none other than the tree-man himself, Sky, strolling over with a rather pleased look on his face as he absent-mindedly played his harp. Somehow the beautiful tune managed to make the man seem even more smug despite him carrying the same lazily indifferent look in his eyes that never seemed to leave him.

"Hello, Ser Knight!" Sky called, making his way closer to Link, "How was the evaluation?" he didn't wait for Link to answer, "It went well, I take it. I'll be glad to see you in court," he didn't laugh, but his breathy voice gave an air of amusement, "A little bird told me that you and the Commander would be putting on a show in celebration, so naturally I invited an audience."

Link stared at him, not sure whether to feel insulted or annoyed or baffled, or all three. He settled for baffled, “How?"

Sky only winked. That is not an answer, Sky.

Before he could say that, though, Mina grabbed his shoulder, "This is so exciting," she said, "I've never seen the Commander spar before."

Link looked at her, surprised, "Really? Never?"

"Well, I haven't been here much longer than you," she continued, "But from what I've heard he doesn't do it so often anymore. Says it got boring."

"Boring?" Link repeated.

Savelle chimed in, "Yeah, he won so many battles non-stop he didn't see the benefit in doing it anymore."

"What?" Link's heart skipped a beat.

"He's amazing," Aliza cooed, "He's the youngest to ever hold his position, you know. They say he can take down hundreds of enemies in seconds."

Link paled.

Mina nodded, "I heard that, too. I also heard someone say that he is responsible for the majority of the victories our army has seen in battle in the past fifteen years, simply talking about the ones he took part in before becoming the Commander."

"Yeah, but that's nothing to say about his strategic skills," Nazbi nearly swooned, "What I would give to be in a war meeting led by him-"

"Okay, guys," Link interrupted, his voice three pitches higher, "I get it. Thank you. That is very helpful. I am so much more confident now than I was before. You guys are the best."

"No problem, Link!" Savelle clearly couldn't understand sarcasm.

The others fared better, "Don't worry, Link," Aliza waved her hand dismissively, "Quantity doesn't equate to quality, after all. Just because he has far more experience than you, and has beaten more enemies than you could ever hope to dream of, and has amazing hair, doesn't mean he's the better swordsman. I'm sure you'll do fine!"

"Yeah! I'm sure you won't die!" His teammates clapped him on the back, smiles on their faces.

Their conversation ended at that as they noticed two figures walking towards them. One, the Commander himself, flourishing a sword in his right hand. He gave it a spin for emphasis and cracked his neck, his sharp eyes boring into Link's soul and thirsting for blood. Link's face tightened as he internally screamed.

The other was a woman Link didn't recognize. She was young, with golden-blonde hair and sharp blue eyes. She wore a loose-fitting green-colored outfit with two crossbows strapped to her sides. A wide mischievous smile was plastered on her face. She walked by the Commander's side, occasionally speaking quietly in his direction.

The playing of the harp stopped for a brief moment. Sky walked up to Link and grabbed his shoulder, "Good luck, Ser Knight. I have complete faith in you," he took a step back, "Remember, some people take better to performance than others," he laughed breezily and held up his instrument, resuming his tune.

The Commander caught up to the group, and they spread out to give him room, "I've been looking for you, Link. Are you ready for our battle?" Somehow the Commander's grin was an exact replica of the woman's, and that did not bode well for Link. Sky's nonstop playing of suspenseful music on his harp in the background did not help either.

Despite that, Link still gave him an answer, attempting to muster up the confidence he had once held before, "Yes, sir."

Immediately Link noticed the woman standing behind the Commander cover her mouth with her hands in a poor attempt to hide her giggling.

The Commander rolled his eyes, "Ignore her, Link."

The woman began laughing harder as Link nodded. Unable to help himself, he stared at her, a short frown on his face and his eyes narrowed in confusion. He did not need this right now.
The Commander turned towards her, "Would you stop that?" he asked on Link's behalf.

Still laughing, the woman attempted to form a coherent sentence, "Sorry, sorry... it's just... I thought you were kidding! His name is actually Link?"

What.

Link folded his arms. It wasn't enough that he had already had the most stressful day in his entire life, they had to make fun of his name, too? First the bard, then the advisor, and now this random woman? What in the world was so hilarious about being named Link? He glared at the woman, "Who are you supposed to be, then?" He was prepared to laugh at whatever name she gave him with as much passive-aggressive energy as a cat staring at their owner while slowly pushing a glass off a shelf.

She didn't seem to notice his tone, but her laughter dissipated a bit as she caught her breath, "My apologies, Link," The emphasis she put on his name was not amusing in the slightest, "My name is Linkle. Pleasure to meet you!" She rested an elbow on the Commander's shoulder and leaned on him, which looked quite awkward considering her shorter stature. She poked him with her free hand, "I'm here to make sure Mr. Show-off here doesn't kill you," her grin returned full-force.

The Commander shook his head good-naturedly, "Please, Linkle, I'm not going to kill him."

"Of course not. I won't let you."

Link wasn't listening. He stopped the moment that woman shared her name, "Oh gods. Oh hylia," he mouthed.

"Link," The Commander waved a hand in front of Link's face, "You alright?"

Suddenly Link was broken out of his stupor, and he almost threw out his back at the immense laughter and feeling of intense relief that was released from his body, "It all makes sense now!" He shouted to no one in particular.

The Commander didn't get it, "What makes sense?" He looked at Linkle. She shrugged her shoulders.

Link sighed, a smile settling on his face, "Nothing. I'm satisfied. We can proceed," he felt reinvigorated.

So he shared a name with this woman. Big deal. In a certain context, sure, it was a little funny. Not as funny as a food pun, maybe, but he could see why some people as eccentric as the bard might find it amusing.

Glad that mystery's over, Link thought. He pulled out his sword with his left hand, his new energy erasing all the fears he had felt walking into the arena, "Are you ready for this, sir?" he asked with a ferocity.

The Commander's confused frown morphed into satisfaction, eyebrows furrowing in intensity, "So eager," He spoke, "I love it. Very well," he lifted his own blade in response, and the group around them stepped back once more, Linkle included. She looked at Link one last time and gave him a wink.

It seemed Link's squad members weren't the only ones interested in seeing the Commander's fighting prowess. Even more people in the field stopped what they were doing to come watch the oncoming battle, presumably hoping to catch it before it inevitably ended within a minute of starting, Link on the ground and dead.

Sky stepped forward and cleared his throat. The crowd quieted down for him. He gracefully lifted up his delicate instrument, a glint in his eyes as he glanced at Link, then began his song.

"There once was a knight of young age,
Whose skills with a spoon could amaze.
But when the Commander competed,
the poor knight was defeated,
And his blood they were cleaning for days."

Link stared at the bard, his mouth open. Full faith, indeed.

"Tis only a jest, my friend," Sky smiled fondly and returned to his position, continuing to strum his instrument and stare at the scene with casual interest.

The group was watching the two fighters intently, and Link realized they were waiting on them to start the match. Sky's playing quickened, adding to the intense mood. Link glanced at the Commander, who was standing casually with his hand spinning his blade lightly, returning Link's look with a smirk. Link’s sword hand twitched, energy coursing through his body with the need to get moving. He took a breath and narrowed his eyes.

No turning back now.

Link launched himself at the Commander.