‹ Prequel: A Hidden Kindness

Queen of the Banished

Old Friends (old enemies)

Rabia had been travelling on foot for about a week and was beginning to run low on stamina and supplies. She was too pregnant to ride her horse, which gave her the advantage that her absence wouldn’t be noticed as soon. It also meant that she wasn’t moving very fast and had to work twice as hard at covering her tracks and disguising herself. She wasn’t sure where she was going, just that she was going somewhere safe.

Finally, she had to stop and catch her breath. Rabia settled heavily onto a large rock and dug through her pack for water, taking a deep drink. She grimaced and stretched her low back, easing the ache that had started to set in. A sudden movement caught her eye but when she turned, there was nothing there. Suddenly, someone grabbed her from behind. They shoved a rough hand over her mouth before she could scream and dragged her back into the shadows.

It became very dark, and very cold. Rabia felt as if the air had been ripped from her lungs and that the dark itself was compressing her. As soon as it came, it passed, and the person let go of her as she gasped for air. She caught her breath and looked up… and up… and up. She was in an unrecognizable forest, outside an unnaturally tall tower. She couldn’t see the top; it seemed to reach into the sky.

“W-What?” she gasped.

“This is Lord Vaati’s demain,” a familiar voice from behind made her jump. There was a person, standing in the shadows. It was a young man, who looked shockingly like Link, aside from the red eyes and purple hair. He was similar to the creature of Ganondorf’s making, but somehow more… human. “He sent me to fetch you because you were ‘calling’ for him.” The man shrugged.

“I… I wasn’t calling to anyone,” Rabia frowned.

“Listen, lady, I do as he says. He said to fetch.” He eyed her mistrustfully and reached for his sword. “I don’t like strangers in my Master’s domain. Wait here. I’ll let Master know I’ve brought you.” There was a sound like tearing fabric and the man was swallowed up by the shadow he was standing in. It was suddenly silent. No bird song penetrated the forest this deep, and a heavy mist hung around the tower’s clearing, shrouding it from view. It didn’t feel foreboding, though, just secluded. A moment later, Rabia jumped when the man returned, the same tearing-fabric sound interrupting the silence.

“Lord Vaati told me to invite you in,” he said begrudgingly. He took a large skeleton key out of his pocket and stuck it into the keyhole of the huge wooden door at the tower’s base. The lock click seemed to reverberate all the way to the top of the tower. He pushed the door open and led her inside. The huge entryway consisted of a spiral staircase, winding its way up, and up, and up. Even from the inside, she couldn’t make out the top.

“He’s on the top floor,” the man said to her. “So I’ll be bringing you up.” Before she could protest, he had grabbed her arm and pulled her into the shadows, and then she was blinking at the sudden brightness and warmth of a different room.

“Rabia!” Vaati greeted her and pulled her into a hug. She started at his sudden appearance, but returned his embrace wholeheartedly. “It’s so nice to see you!” He ushered her over to a comfy looking couch. “It’s been awhile.” He took her in and frowned. “Is… is everything alright?” he asked. Rabia shook her head.

“I… I don’t know.” She twisted her hands in her lap and didn’t meet his eyes.

“You’re dismissed, Shadow,” Vaati said over Rabia’s shoulder.

“Yes, Master.” The man, Shadow, bowed and exited the room. Once he was gone, Vaati settled onto the couch beside her.

“What happened, Rabia?” he asked patiently. “What were you doing, wandering in the woods alone?” He untangled her fingers and gave her hand a comforting squeeze. Rabia took a deep breath and was about to speak when the door opened.

“Step-father, Mother is- oh.” Rabia recognized that voice. She turned to see Kabira standing in the doorway and paled, her eyes wide.

“Kabira?” she asked. “I… I didn’t realize you were here.” Rabia tucked her trembling fingers under her thighs. Her other hand stayed steady in Vaati’s grasp.

“I’m visiting with Mother this week. Does father know you’re here?” Kabira asked pointedly.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you!” Vaati said. “Malon and I recently got married!”

“Congratulations,” Rabia smiled.

“Step-father, Mother is looking for you. I’ll let her know you’re meeting with Bab’ya-latifa(1),” Rabia flinched, “and bring you back some tea,” she said with a sweet smile. There was a glint in her eyes that made Rabia uneasy.

“That would be wonderful. Thank you, Kabira,” Vaati answered. “Sweet girl…” he said as the door closed behind her. He turned back to Rabia. “So… what happened?” he asked again. Rabia chewed her lip and looked down at her lap.

“We… we’re friends, right?” Rabia asked, looking up at him.

“Of course we are,” Vaati said gently. “I’m sorry I ever made you think we weren’t. I never should have acted like I had any claim over you.”

“No, no, Vaati… I was using you, and it wasn’t right.”

“I offered to cover for you. I hoped that if I did something for you, you’d see that I was better than Ganondorf. Instead of acting like a… like an entitled fool, I should’ve been your friend. I’m sorry that I wasn’t.”

“I know you offered, Vaati. I also knew you liked me. I should’ve never even thought about accepting that offer,” Rabia said. Vaati went to interject, but she shook her head. “Let’s just… agree that we were both wrong, we’re both sorry, and that we’re still friends. Okay?” she asked. Vaati nodded.

“I’d like that,” he smiled. “Now, as your friend… what’s wrong?”

---

In the other room, Kabira smiled darkly to herself. She was humming a merry little tune as the kettle heated up. She had been waiting for an opportunity for months, and this one was perfect - if anything went wrong, Vaati would get the blame. She set a pot on the stove to boil and flipped to a page of one of Vaati’s maternity potion books. There was a warning at the bottom of the page, in small bright red text, but Kabira paid it no mind. She was well versed in potions and poisons, and none of the ingredients were particularly volatile.

After reading through the recipe once more, she picked the lock to Vaati’s potion cabinet and pulled out a few vials. Monster horn… fairy wings… sunset firefly. Kabira carefully mixed the ingredients, making certain to follow the directions exactly. The potion finished as the tea kettle began to whistle. She poured the water in the teapot to steep, and added the potion to one of the teacups.

Though she knew that males were only born every hundred years, Kabira had no intention of losing her claim to the throne in favor of Rabia’s spawn. A little extra insurance would make her feel better. She noted which teacup had the potion before filling them with tea, then reentered the living room.

“...-our friend… what’s wrong?” Vaati asked Rabia.

“I… I don’t-” Rabia cut herself off as Kabira entered. Kabira handed her the spiked tea, then offered the other cup to Vaati. She grinned to herself once Rabia took a sip, but it turned into a seemingly genuine smile when Vaati glanced at her.

“I’ll let Mother know,” she repeated as she stepped out of the room. The door clicked shut behind her and Vaati faced Rabia expectantly. Rabia sighed.

“We, um… we went to see Zelda, a while ago, to make a trade agreement. She met with us and almost immediately declined our offer. Which, whatever, but she wouldn’t even… try to compromise, you know? She said some crap about not trusting our people in Castle Town, whatever that’s supposed to mean… and she was acting really strange towards me,” Rabia scuffed her feet on the floor and took another sip of her tea.

“And after that… I don’t know that I believe she’d… she’d leave us to watch over Hyrule while she’s… on vacation.” Rabia lowered her voice to a whisper. “And then… then I saw her in the dungeon. He’s keeping her locked up and I don’t understand why. Worst of all he’s lying to me about it and how could Zelda not hate me for this? There’s also a creepy shadow-thing hanging around the castle and no one will tell me anything and I just… I had to leave.”

“Okay, okay…” he pulled her into another hug. “Calm down, Rabia. Ganondorf loves you, okay? I’m sure that he thinks lying to you is in the best interest of you and the baby.” She pulled back and looked away uneasily. He tilted her chin back up and caught her eye again. “If you’re scared, you’re welcome to stay with us for a little bit,” he offered. “But Ganondorf would never do anything to hurt you. You know that, right?” he asked. Rabia nodded.

“Yes… yes, of course I do…” she said. “But… but what am I supposed to do about Zelda? I don’t even know where to begin to help her. Link is missing, and I haven’t heard from Kaikoura or Sheik for weeks.”

“Hmm… I’ll see what I can do. I may have more luck getting in contact with people, being more removed from the situation,” Vaati said. Rabia looked at him gratefully.

“Thank you, Vaati. I… I didn’t plan on coming here, but… your servant - Shadow? He said I was… I was calling for you?”

“Yes. Well, not me specifically. I was meditating and I heard you calling for help,” he said. He took both her hands in his. “Don’t worry, you have nothing to fear from Ganondorf.”

“Yeah… yeah, you’re probably right.” She gave him a tremulous smile. “I just… I just really needed a friend.”

“Well, you’re always welcome here, Rabia,” Vaati said. “Now, we should go find Malon. I believe she was waiting for me and I’m sure she’d be happy to see you.” He gathered up their empty cups and lead Rabia from the room.
♠ ♠ ♠
Translations:
1. Dad's wife, a mild insult

There is a reason for the Vaati/Malon pairing, it's just not mentioned in this story. All you need to remember here is Kabira is Ganondorf and Malon's daughter (another tidbit for a different story)