Legend Of Zelda Fan Fiction ❯ The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13 ❯ Comes to Light Pt. 06: Exposed ( Chapter 51 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]

Chapter Fifty-one
“You heard him—that thing wasn't him,” Saria repeated for the second time, head resting comfortably on Junior's thigh, as she'd cried herself to sleep only to be awakened by her boyfriend, as the Bigs referred to him. That was hours ago, however, and they'd been discussing one major point of contention ever since: his father.
Junior looked at her with skepticism. “You didn't feel it, Saria.” Even though his eyes were focused solely on her, he was obviously looking at his memories of the five hours that had just passed. “He opened his eyes and saw my face and I felt it…”
The boy, pawn in a systematic game to garner control for his father's body, had his change awakened prematurely. Everything that he'd been through with his dad in that place, according to that Charon guy, was a plot by “him” to play to Link's weakness. Whoever this “him” guy was, he'd used his powers in combination with Junior's to ensnare Link while he was in the boy's mind. With Link's soul taking a beating inside of his son's manifested illusion, his hold over his own body would lessen, as evident by the real blood that had pooled around him in reality, to the point it could be possessed by a god or even a sorcerer with the right knowledge.
All of this was according to Charon, a god, obviously, but one none of them knew, but were deftly aware of.
The kicker, however, was that the unnamed “him” had help, too. Charon was to take Link's soul—and he did take it right out of Junior's head—and leave Link's body in the possession of whomever had it. The hitch, Junior recalled, was that Charon dropped his father's soul back into his body. That's when he'd crowded over his dad to see him pop back into the land of living and stop bleeding all over the place. That's when his dad was supposed to say something like, “See? That was easy enough.” Never in a hundred million years did he expect to happen what happened.
Link's eyes popped open, saw his son's face, and manifested a weapon as he attempted to grab his throat. The sword was of little concern, though. It was the power that Junior recalled most vividly. To see one's father hold a planet was nothing. To feel what he was made of, have all of that power aimed directly at him and no one else but him … the Gerudo prince shook. Junior breathed raggedly, heart racing as he pondered what would've happened had his mother not been there to push him out of the way.
Saria heard him whisper, “The same thing.”
Link had grabbed up Sepaaru next, hopping to his feet carrying his son's mother by the throat with a sword pressed to her temple. The Gerudo, who'd all since returned to the prince once Saria was asleep, watched their king hold one of their own captive, a look of shock and disbelief on their faces. Link dropped the sword eventually, and his voice was one of the only things that reassured Junior that it wasn't his father:
“Excellent, Charon. Excellent. This is perfect,” the voice said, slow, childish giggles blended overtop his father's usually deep voice.
“Where's my husband?” Nabooru demanded of the creature.
It was weird, Junior thought at the time, how she was the only person that even thought it wasn't Link—and he knew this because he was strangely very aware of everyone's thoughts. Weirder still, she was the only person not thinking about (nor fearing) the nine-foot-tall guy in the black robes with a hood over his face, too. That was the second reason the kid didn't believe that was his father holding his mother hostage: Nabooru's belief that it wasn't, coupled with both her desire to kill whatever it was, was far too strong for it to be Link. And if fifteen years of life had taught Junior anything it was that Nabooru's feelings—love, concern, fear and even hatred—toward his father went way beyond anything normal … and he'd been able to sense that far longer than anyone would've believed. So, if Nabooru said this wasn't him, Junior's mind would clutch onto her belief and try to cope.
At the time, however, the thing in his father got a surprise. Sepaaru, feeding off Nabooru's doubt, threw him off and across the room at the expense of her leg, which immediately burst with blood for some reason, Junior thought, figuring it probably to be from the exertion. The valiant effort was wasted, though. Link landed on the wall feet first, before standing upright like the wall was the floor and looking out at Sepaaru with a smirk. Without a word, the thing inside Link jumped off the wall and seemed to soar in slow motion towards Sepaaru, who kept all of her weight on her good leg, but was obviously at a loss with how to handle the situation.
All she saw was her son's father, despite the training, knowing full well he could kill her, but all she did was stand frozen.
Nabooru, on the other hand, saw her husband's body being toyed with, and she had issues with that. All in the space of the two seconds it took for the creature to jump off the wall and soar over the crowd toward Sepaaru, Nabooru launched off her left leg, the good leg, and planted her right foot squarely under the “bastard's” chin. Her fractured right leg broke like a dried branch, cracking in multiple areas with a series of sounds so loud that they almost echoed. The impact, while seemingly futile, threw Link's body face first into the ceiling and, mixed with his forward momentum, drug it along until he stopped moving forward and merely collapsed … bleeding from the mouth.
Immediately, the entity knew something was wrong and turned on Charon.
“You! What did you do?” he screamed, the child's voice now completely overwhelming the man's.
“I put him back,” the taller god said, seeming so bored with the situation that it was nearly insulting.
“You — Get out,” Link's voice suddenly said over the child's, eyes flashing solid white for a moment. “It's — Mine, now get out.” Again, Junior heard his father's voice, which also sounded strangely expectant. “No, this is — Your hand being shown. Charon — Nothing changes — Get out!” His father's eyes flashed red somewhere between those words, as an entirely different voice came into the fold of the argument, before his dad fell down.
There were three voices … all coming out of the same mouth … at the same time—one was a kid, one was Link, and the other sounded subdued, almost sleepy and annoyed with the argument going on around it. Junior had been on the floor the entire time, huddled beside his bed in an absolute panic. Even as his father stood, the boy couldn't move. Even as the red blood that covered part of his bed and a good percent of the floor around it began to glow and float back unto his father like spare pieces of clay onto a clay ball, Junior could not … move.
Link approached him and … Junior recoiled. His father did similar, although it was more from the jolt of pain that went through him from having scared his son that much. Junior recalled his father's hand on his head feeling somehow lighter than it ever did, but he couldn't speak … couldn't ask a question … all he could do was breathe.
“Too many years living with that over my head,” Link sighed, apologized, and stood. “Green's a good color on you, though.”
“Hero, what happened?” Nabooru asked as he approached her.
The sadness was unmistakable now, but Link merely shook his head to her question and her leg was healed. Sepaaru attempted similar questions, but, again, all Link could offer was healing and silence. Charon told them what he could, as he put it, but the bulk of that went over everyone's head. The out of place thing—the one thing that stood above all else—was that he admitted that he was there to take Link's soul and Link didn't react. No rage, no sadness, no anything—Junior got more thought activity from a rock. Literally. At least some of the rocks told time or stories about sages past; his father was an absolute void. A blue gash opened in the middle of the room, energy waving and crackling around its borders, and Link took a moment to look at everyone.
“I'm sorry,” he said. “Let's go, Charon.”
They stepped into the portal and it vanished, leaving behind a son who'd been turned into an eight-foot-tall, bright green mass of a man. Alas, that was the part no one could seem to understand: he was not a man. He was a fifteen-year-old boy who, despite this new physical growth, had been exploited because of an affiliation with his own father. Through it all, though, Saria was there. As small as she was, she seemed to be as strong as any woman walking around that fortress. For some reason, Saria gave him hope. It was probably because they were both oddities in a way. A Kokiri girl that grew up instead of faded away and a Gerudo demigod who, for lack of a better term, kept changing. And the first thing she said when she saw that he was a giant green mountain of muscle?
He smiled about that memory, even though it was only a few hours old, which caught the attention of Saria.
“You okay?” the former sage asked, smiling as Junior continued to smile at her and nodded. “Good—now you can give me a tour of this place.”
He laughed, but agreed. Saria sat up and Junior swung his legs over her head, and stood. The world looks so different from up here, he thought, surveying the guest room Queen Zelda usually occupied. The room was a modest twenty-five by thirty feet, but from his perspective, it seemed infinitely smaller.
“Hey!” Junior shouted, as Saria jumped on his back. She shimmied her way up until she could wrap her arms around his neck and he held her legs behind the knees to further aid in the support of her weight. Her shoulder-length green hair almost matched his skin perfectly, he noticed, taking some comfort in that. “You good?”
“Yep,” Saria announced, completely fine now that her best friend wasn't going to leave her. Although, she did wonder how he'd fit in any of the houses in Kokiri now; he was four feet across at the shoulders and his muscles were bigger than Link's. In effect, he was like those walking trees … except he didn't eat animals that wondered into his path. As they collectively stooped to go through the door, Saria did have one concern: “You're sure you're all right? I mean, I just know Link wouldn't have done something like that unless something bad happened and he couldn't help it.”
He turned his head toward her, white hair hanging completely loose and free of even the tense forelocks that his father and sister possessed, and smirked in a manner she hadn't seen since Link, the father, was a little kid and told her that he would be fine. “I'll adjust,” he said calmly. For a second, Saria thought he was his father.
At the castle, a different conversation was underway.
“So … what do you want to see first?”
“You said be here at midnight, so I thought that meant you'd decide.” Zelda the younger stood in Queen Zelda's dining area, beneath a large mural of her father and the queen when she was a princess, both holding hands and grinning. “What's Arthur think of all these paintings of Dad?”
The queen turned her back to the young woman and unfastened her dress at the back, an impressive show of flexibility, which did nothing to answer the question. The dress pooled at her feet, revealing a purple one-piece body suit, with white chest piece and rolled up sleeves. Sliding her sleeves down to her wrist, the queen proceeded to dress as if the question had never been asked, while simultaneously casting a very long shadow on everything pertaining to the subject with her subtle aversion of it. Queen Zelda leaned down and slid the taut material over her boots, pulling a small roll of fabric out of the cuff, before turning around to face her friend's daughter and sliding the hood and face cover up and over her face and head respectively. One tuft of blonde hair protruded from the things covering her head, swinging precariously over her left eye.
“He doesn't like it, but I assume he understands it,” she said, voice a bit muffled due to the fabric. “Anyway, we're going to be gone for a day at most. I'll show you a few of the small townships and camps that don't belong to any kingdom and how they survive.”
“I can imagine that—”
“But you can't see the faces,” the queen interjected, wrapping her hands in the bandage until not a shred of her hands could be seen. “If you're ready, we can leave.”
The younger of the two didn't object to anything but the purple suit and pink boots, but that was unimportant. And, with that, they set off toward the kitchen. Behind a large stove, the two Zeldas went through a hidden door and down a tunnel without a word and emerged some odd minutes later into the nighttime air. The area was foreign, but the princess followed closely behind the queen, traversing a path down a hillside at a brisk run. According to the stars, they were heading northward and, as the moon emerged from behind the clouds, Zelda looked back and saw Hyrule Castle in the distance. After an hour of nonstop running, the Hylian queen stopped in the middle of a gulch and walked as the clouds hovered into place over the moon.
“Tired?” Zelda asked the queen, not even winded from the arduous running.
Queen Zelda replied, “No, I just don't want to disturb anything.”
“What's to dis—” the Gerudo's voice paused abruptly. The moon's fullness illuminated the ground in front of her and the tons of swords sticking up from the dirt hills. To her left was a ridge and about 300 yards to her right was another one, which somehow made this place seem familiar. The grass was greener than she remembered, though, and there weren't so many hills, either, but still … it was familiar. “What is this place?”
“A battlefield,” the Hylian queen replied, walking around each mound and the rusted sword that protruded from it.
Zelda stood frozen, though, as a memory of her dreams began to play out.
“There was a cannon up there,” she muttered looking up at the ridge to her left. “And there was another one over there. They ambushed them from up there.” She ran further into the makeshift graveyard, finding a steep slope on the same ridge to her left and running up it. The Queen of Hyrule watched the girl with a perplexed sense of wonder, watching as she leapt over the edge, a drop that was some fifty or more feet, to the giant boulder directly beneath it without so much as a bend in the knees upon landing. “And here—this is where he was hiding until his brother got killed! This is where—” her excitement curbed and her sense of disgust took hold— “I … Dad … killed them.”
From atop the seven-foot-tall rock, the Gerudo princess surveyed the expanse of graves. Almost every person out there had been killed by … her father. In some respect, the nightmares didn't do the scene numerical justice. Row after row after row was full of unmarked graves, and the only signs of that these men had ever had lives were the very instruments they used to take them, stabbed into the earth that would hold their rotting flesh forever. It was weird in a sense, for a man that seemed so numb towards taking a life to be this courteous to the dead.
“Come on, it's up ahead.” Queen Zelda had made it to the other side of the graves that Link had dug so many years ago.
The Gerudo princess took a final look at the scene, wondering where her father's duality ended, before running after the queen. Neither spoke as they raced across the countryside, each admiring the other's physical prowess with newfound respect. A few hours later, the women had come to another stop. This time, they were standing at the crest of a hill that overlooked an almost barren plain. A large caravan occupied the plain, however, and they appeared to be bunkered down for the night. When asked who they were, Queen Zelda had no idea. Of course, her comrades did.
“We're here, as you requested, Lady Zelda,” a Sheikah male said, kneeling at the head of a perfect row that was comprised of ten others, having dropped silently from the treetop canopies. “Over the last few hours, our observations have the encampment's population total between 200 and 250 people. However, given the size of their tents, wagons, and food stuffs, there could easily be more that have yet to be seen. They're led by a former warrior named Ragnus.”
Zelda the younger faced the row of Sheikah, but turned to the tree at her right, actively trying to sense presences since these had snuck up on her. As she stepped from behind the large trunk, Zelda already knew it was that weird Impa lady. But still, why were she and her murderers here? She asked that question to the queen.
“Why are they here?”
“Insurance,” Queen Zelda replied.
“Insurance for …” she trailed as a distant rumbling began to echo across the plain. Zelda walked back to the top of the hill and focused on the encampment. To the north of them, she saw a group of horses galloping towards the sleeping caravan. “Twenty,” the Gerudo princess muttered, eyes seeing farther than those around her.
“The bandits,” Impa said to her eldest child. “What recourse should we take against them? They're making it further and further into Hylian territory most nights, I notice.”
The Queen of Hyrule said quite simply, “None for now.”
The Sheikah did not object. Of course, the younger of the two Zeldas was not a member of the Sheikah.
“Come on, they're a ways off. At full sprint, we could make it there and maybe work this out,” the youngster said in opposition to sitting there. By her logic, even if the encampment was as large as a small town and had the men on horseback outnumbered, everyone there wasn't a warrior. Plus, Zelda thought, there are probably children there.
The queen said in turn, her muffled voice seeming colder and more unfeeling, almost like Nabooru's, “We could do that, but then you wouldn't see how they'd have to deal with it without people like your father—and that's what I'm here to show you.”
The young Gerudo then turned back to the camp of innocent people, and watched. Her heart was racing, but, she kept reminding herself, these supposed bandits could be members of that group. After all, the Impa woman couldn't see that far and, from what Zelda could see, they didn't look all that violent. Sure, they were dirty. But being dirty didn't necessarily make you a violent person. Arduous seconds clicked by as the horses raced toward the unwitting group of sleepy travelers, and still there were no signs of violence. The princess smiled as the horses stopped a good deal away from the camp, but her smile didn't last. The horn sounded at the lips of the largest man of the twenty, and that's when the horrors began: men on horseback in clusters of twenty appeared from nearly every direction on the compass and raced down on the camp. 160 confirmed bandit warriors to a possible 250 nomads with one confirmed former warrior—the odds were not good.
Zelda turned back to the Queen of Hyrule and shouted, “Come on! They'll be destroyed!”
“We're observers here, Zelda,” the queen responded, folding her arms across her chest and standing unfazed as the flaming arrows began to rain down on the tents and covered wagons, setting them ablaze and sending innocent people running blindly into the night. “This is the world that our two kingdoms were carved from,” she added, coming to stand beside her friend's child. “It's senseless, isn't it?”
Zelda nodded her head, watching the crowds running and screaming for their lives, people falling to arrows and swords, dying for merely existing. She watched with a growing anger as the horsemen ran them this way and that way, toying with the panicked survivors like a child chasing chickens with a stick. And, like the Sheikah guy had said, there was one warrior, but he was just that in his efforts to fight the hordes: one man. “This isn't fair,” she whispered, unable to shut her eyes to an old man being run down by a horse in front of a screaming little girl. Their faces were now even easier to see thanks to the fires, and like those fires, Zelda's mind was burning with the images transpiring before her.
“It never is, Zelda, but that was Hyrule once. It could be Hyrule again without people like your father,” the Hylian queen replied, the flames in the distance sparkling in her eye like golden stars. “He knows people like those bandits will always exist in this world, no matter how peaceful it may seem, and that those that are truly peaceful—like those nomads—will always be their prey, even if he never says it. That's why he stays the way he is despite all the peace we've achieved. That's why he's the `evil monster,' because everyone is afraid to mess with the `monster's' domain, even other monsters.”
Obviously, Link wasn't the monster here. It was them, Zelda thought spitefully, eyes tearing up as she listened to the faint screams. It was people like these coward-hearted pieces of trash that made her dad do what he did. But it was also those people … their screams and torment, how could anyone listen to that with even an inkling of ability to stop it and not do so?
Suddenly, everything became very clear to her. Imagining her fellow Gerudo—her mom, her brother, and even her father—in that situation made her dreams and her father's actions against the knight and the old mage all very easy to cope with. Her dad wasn't killing people that tried to talk it out. No, she thought with continued clarity, he was killing these that wouldn't—and they're different. Why should he care about these worthless little shits? Those bandits—those things—didn't deserve to exist. Not them. Not even the people who were responsible for their births. They all deserved to die or, at the very least, didn't deserve pity if they did die. While her parents never schooled her in the ways of the sword, Zelda, as Link put it, didn't need such training.
Link's baby girl was, for better or worse, a vehicle of destruction in waiting. All that his daughter needed was something to put her in motion, and that'd be the end of whatever she was set against. Still, Zelda was wrought with guilt and apologetic sorrow towards her father now, as the scene continued to play out before her. And, for the first time, she truly understood what her uncle had told them so long ago: “Now, imagine with everything I've told you about him, Link still felt he had to portray someone who was invincible to his wife, his kids, and anyone else who happened to know his name.” It was unbearable to see this and have these people not know her. Imagining her father's position once more, the princess understood that there was no way that she'd be able to ignore the innocent if they cried for her help. Even if her personal life was in shambles or she had to deal with a bratty daughter or wife, she'd still have to go out there and try. The screams wouldn't let her or him do anything else but that.
“In order for peace to remain,” she muttered, “the weak need Daddy to be their invincible pillar of strength, because what he represents those cowards can never destroy.”
Queen Zelda looked at the young woman to her left and heard her neck crack.
“This is enough, you two go and retrieve guards from the outpost,” the queen ordered of two Sheikah, who nodded before deftly leaping from their kneeled position into the treetops. At that moment, the screaming nomad girl was struck silent and speared on the edge of a sword, staking her tiny body to the ground. Unfortunately, for anyone who so happened to be a bandit, the vehicle was no longer in waiting. “Let's—” she paused, as the Gerudo princess took off down the hill toward the ruckus. The ease in which she ran alongside the queen wasn't an exaggerated show of conditioning, Queen Zelda realized, as the force at which her friend's child moved nearly pulled the Sheikah down the hill behind her.
“Your Highness!” the male Sheikah shouted, standing to go after the Gerudo. His queen merely raised her hand to silence him, and he obeyed.
“Put in your lenses,” she instructed of her squad, who all complied. The queen fished her lone lens out from under the chest part of her outfit, night turning to day in her exposed eye no sooner as she'd placed it in. For those of Sheikah blood, the lenses let them see not only through illusion, but across great space and through shadows.
On the ground, Zelda moved through the darkness at a rate of speed that was unattainable for a normal mortal body. Of course, the Gerudo weren't normal people. And this Gerudo was half god, which lent her a seat in the upper echelon of what people construed as abnormal. She stopped just on the outskirts of the ruckus, long before the Sheikah got their lenses in, and stalked towards the five horsemen running the largest gaggle of people in circles. Link had only suppressed her urges to kill … his urges and his father's, really. However, with him in another realm, and his daughter's sense of common decency and justice being pushed so far, the outcome was inevitable.
“What the f—” the bandit attempted to say as a young woman appeared out of nowhere and stood on the head of his horse.
The toe of her boot landed at the point of connection between his lower and upper jaw, snapping it completely off and breaking his neck in the process. He flipped off the horse to his right, going end over end for some 300 yards, bones breaking and snapping all the while. All the Queen of Hyrule could think was maybe, just maybe, Zelda had been holding back when she hit her at the fortress. As for the poor bastard on the horse, he was dead before he left the saddle. And after her first kill, how did Zelda react? Nothing. In Zelda's mind, she didn't feel guilt or remorse or even shock—she only saw more strategies for the total annihilation of these insignificant little things. Naturally, she'd been spotted by the other riders, all of whom promptly drew lines of sight on her with their crossbows.
The Sheikah on top of the hill again voiced his concern as he saw this.
“She can handle this,” his queen replied, naively unaware that the first guy had been killed, figuring the girl would keep things less than lethal.
The frightened travelers collapsed in a pool of exhausted bodies, adults on top of sobbing kids to protect them, all watching this young woman and wondering what she'd do against four bandits at once. The men shot their arrows without warning, but Zelda might as well have been miles away for all the good the arrows did to stop her. She appeared in front of the largest man and kicked him beneath the chin, her leg moving so fast that his comrades barely even registered how she got from one spot to the other, let alone jumped high enough to kick one of their own. The man's body made a popping sound as his neck stretched beyond the critical point and popped his spine. His head fell back on a rubberized neck, and he never moved again—and the woman simply hovered, fists now glowing with white flames it seemed.
“Swords!” the smallest one shouted to the others, his brown teeth and disgustingly bad breath nearly warranting his death in the enraged princess's eyes.
He swung it for her torso, but she'd already factored in every possible way that he could swing the thing thanks to her grandfather's ancient knowledge. Zelda's body went translucent and the sword passed through her ribcage. At the height of his momentum, she punched a point on his wrist and his hand flew open in reaction, causing the stumpy coward to release the sword. It flew so fast that it decapitated the bandit to his immediate right and pierced the other's head next to that man. The little man's eyes grew wide with fear as she looked at him. No longer did Zelda's pupils merely radiate with mystic energy, but now, so, too, did the entire surface of her eyes now. He was at a loss as her left hand sped toward him. His head exploded from the impact of the punch.
None of his brain matter or blood stuck to her, though.
The Queen of Hyrule stood in shock. This was not how it was supposed to happen! She wasn't supposed to kill them, the queen kept thinking. She gave the order as soon as the man's head exploded, and the Sheikah raced down the hill to pull the Gerudo princess off the bandits. As fast and as well trained as the Sheikah were, though, this Gerudo demigoddess was a lot faster. Warping from spot to spot, bandits dropped and screamed and bled as she put every spare ounce of battle knowledge she'd been born with to use. By the time Queen Zelda and her people arrived, they had to duck for cover, because, as the remaining twenty-one bandits attempted to rush the princess, she screamed and let off an explosive energy wave that raced across the plain.
Every bandit in musty leather and rags was destroyed, leaving not even a body or a sword to identify them. Zelda was also completely unaware of the role she'd just played in breaking a sizeable chunk of the mortal realm's fractured shell and unbalancing the game revolving around it. All that remained of those bandits were horses and the travelers whose lives they'd impacted or taken. At the epicenter of those survivors, stood a triumphant woman with a flowing red ponytail and two white forelocks, with an illuminated set of blue eyes that subtly settled down to their mortal hues. The Sheikah stood in complete shock a few hundred feet away. She'd destroyed every last one of them, but there was no collateral damage at all. They watched the apprehensive survivors make their way into the receding moonlight, as the dawn of a new day drew closer, to get a glimpse of their savior.
“Is everyone all right?” Zelda asked, turning in a circle to survey the faces of those who cried and whispered things. A few of the men brought a larger, more muscular individual to meet her; he was obviously their wounded leader.
“W-who are you, stranger?” the man asked, his carriers sitting him down without delay. He stood under his own strength, though, bleeding profusely from a gash just below his armpit. “Can you not speak?” he asked genuinely.
It wasn't that Zelda couldn't speak. It was more that he was an eight-foot-tall … dog. His brown and black fur, his pointed ears and elongated face made him seem like royalty of a sort, but he was a new breed for a girl who'd never gone further than Zora's Place before this day.
“I'm Zelda,” she answered after a time, smiling because the screams and sobs had ended.
He nodded and replied, “I'm Ragnus, Ragnus the Fourth. I must say thank you on behalf of my people.”
“I could heal that, if you'd like,” she offered, taking a step toward him before he answered. Surveying the concerned faces, Ragnus trusted his instincts and held up his arm, sucking in a deep breath as the wound closed and the internal damage disappeared beneath her glowing palm.
“A-amazing! Thank you!” he said quite enthusiastically, rotating his massive arm to test it.
“No problem,” Zelda replied. She made a habitual attempt to tuck a forelock behind her ear, but it didn't hold. “Where are you all headed?”
Ragnus turned to the survivors, a look of sadness and regret on his face as he approached the tiny little girl pinned to the ground by a sword. “Ironically, I was looking for a place where we could exist without worrying about things like this,” Ragnus told her. “Unfortunately, it seems my father was right, though. Peace is just an illusion without swords.” He stroked the girl's hair and she moaned. “Sila?” he whispered, as the little girl moaned again. The sword probably cut her nerves or something, he figured, but there was hope with this healer woman! Ragnus looked up to ask for yet more favors from this stranger, but Zelda was already there, kneeled down to the little girl who was coming to despite being impaled.
“Sssh,” Zelda whispered, rubbing the child's dusty hair as she wrapped her right hand around the sword's hilt. As her mother had always said to her as a child, “Better to do something painful quick, rather than go slow and be tortured.” The Gerudo snatched the sword in one fluid motion, placing her healing hand to the child's wound before pain fully registered. The little girl, dressed in what would best be described as a granary sack, coughed before pushing herself up onto her knees. Zelda sighed, smiling at the dirty little girl and the calm her being all right brought her. “You all right?” she asked, to which the child nodded, before hopping to her feet and running behind the leg of her group's leader. It reminded her of Talon as a kid, always clutching onto Malon's leg whenever he met someone new for the first time.
Meanwhile, the nomadic group all watched and murmured at the witchery before them, not yet trusting this woman, but not so willing to call her an enemy, either.
“She's a shy one,” Ragnus said on the child's behalf, patting her on the head in that fatherly manner.
Zelda stood, but accepted that reasoning. “It's all right,” she told him. “Hey, I know it's sudden, but since you're looking for a place to live in peace, why don't you come back to my father's kingdom?” It was a bold offer—a very, very bold offer. Still, if her father could see the people she'd helped to save, maybe then he would see that she did understand him now. Besides, they had more land than they knew what to do with.
“Oh, no, we can't intrude like that,” Ragnus replied after a time, though, not looking fully committed to the decision. “You've done more than enough for us here and—”
“I could've done more,” the Gerudo princess responded, looking around at the dead, and shaking her head slowly. “At least …” her voice trailed off into a frown. If Nabooru could've seen her, she would've noted the uncanny resemblance between her daughter and her father. As it were, though, this first taste of battle had tapped into more than the otherworldly knowledge of battle housed in Zelda's head, but also a little something extra. There were spirits in that place, all around her, and strong. “The ones my father killed?” the people heard her whisper, a slight bit concerned with what that meant. “No,” Zelda said more definite, eyes darting from side to side as she backed away from the group even more.
Ragnus's face twisted in confusion as the young woman began to back away from him and his people, looking nervously from side to side. Obviously, she was a very powerful sorceress and fighter to repair such a wound with so little effort, but her behavior concerned him. “What's the matter?”
Zelda backed up and froze; her body went as stiff as stone, color draining from her face as she looked frightened beyond all reason. While she couldn't see whatever she'd backed into, Zelda felt it—all of it. The texture was like polished glass, but the density … the solidity felt like the earth itself. There was absolutely no give, like whatever it was was more part earth than it was being. Of course, that was the problem: this thing was a being. She could feel its eyes roaming all over her … she could feel its rage … its power. But what the fuck was it? And, for that matter, why did this invisible thing scare her? Something about this phantom lent her a feeling of smallness, kind of like her father, but in a bad way, as if it wasn't there to be her shield, but her destroyer.
“We need to leave,” she said sternly, moving back to Ragnus trying to be inauspiciously calm. The thing knew that she knew it was there, but it wasn't chasing her. It must've wanted her to find it, Zelda realized, staring up at Ragnus.
“We will, but we must first bury—”
“Forget them!” Zelda shouted, a bit of her petulance showing through. Her nerves were growing frazzled as she felt the creature's essence move forward. In the ground behind her, an indentation was made: it was a large, two and a half foot circle, about eight inches deep, and at the bottom of that imprint was a footprint … a large, three-toed footprint. If she'd visited the temple of the Sand Goddess prior to leaving, she would've recognized it as the exact same print. Alas, she didn't. All Zelda saw was the earth, soil and grass both, die around the imprint with a hollow sizzling sound. Ragnus didn't get a chance to reply, as Zelda, his people, and the observing Sheikah all disappeared.
It would be the longest warp of the demigoddess's life. In the instant that a warp normally took, Zelda felt it chasing her through this warp, nipping at her heels the whole while radiating a rage unlike anything she'd ever felt before. As the blurred world raced by without racing by, the Gerudo wondered was this her fault? Did she bring this creature about from using her powers so recklessly? No, she told herself. These people would've died without me!
The group of Impa, Queen Zelda, eight Sheikah, Ragnus, and 221 survivors, with what little belongings they had left, all touched down in the front of Gerudo Fortress, still too shocked to be frightened just yet. Inside the fortress, Zelda was sprinting up the same stairs that she always did as a child, looking for her father to make something better. The monsters were no longer in her head, but outside! Still, to daddy's “Baby Girl,” he could make even these go away. Zelda burst through the door, knocking it off its hinges, and stood panting … before her mother, fear more than exertion winding her.
“Mom! Where's Dad?” she demanded of her mother, whom sat straight up from the sudden sound.
“Calm down, what's wrong?” Nabooru asked, voice in its typical monotone register.
Zelda took three deep breaths, all far too quick to be that deep, and spoke in one blurted line: “I went with Zelda to see how people without Daddy live and saved them from these bandit guys, but after I saved them and helped the little girl, this monster thing showed up. Well, he didn't show up “show up,” but I could feel him! I warped everyone here, but I think he might have followed us and that's why I need to know where Daddy is!”
“He isn't here; Link left earlier with some god named Charon,” Nabooru replied, still calm in voice, though, internally concerned. She got out of the bed and went to her dresser, changing in front of her child as she asked, “Did you try to fight this thing?”
“No!” Zelda shouted, as the feeling suddenly returned with a sudden push. It was massive and multiplied this time, though, like there was a whole army of them. Still, the feeling, as big as it was, had no face or form. For all she knew, this thing could be toying with her mind and making her think it was more. “Can we get in touch with him at least?”
“Not that I know of,” Nabooru replied, fastening the golden circlet around her neck to hold her top in place. She ran the chain link belt around her waist and locked it, picked up her weapon, and twirled it some before placing it on her hip. If this weapon could hurt Link, whatever this was that had her daughter in a tizzy would probably bite it from a glancing blow, let alone a fatal hit. “If there's a way to reach him on the other side, I would imagine that you and your brother have the best chance of doing so.”
That was all the incentive the young woman needed, as she turned on her heel and took off to her brother's room, far too emotional and afraid to warp anywhere at the moment. Nabooru walked back to the bed, though, and laced up her boots. The stirring in her soul had felt that there was something wrong ever since Link and Charon left. This only confirmed it. For now, the Gerudo queen had been docile enough to last her. Nabooru had her husband back now, and, to be quite honest, she was sick of the fucking interruptions. If whatever these things were slipped up just once, she'd kill every last one of them.
“Then again, I'm sure you already know that,” she said to the space in front of her.
As the Sage of Spirit, she was already aware of the creatures on some levels. However, from the minute Zelda came through the door, three silhouettes appeared, one on either side of the bed, each one in equal size to the other. They were some thirteen or fourteen feet tall, possibly eight full feet across at the shoulder, and all that was visible of their faces were the eyes—two beady, little red eyes. Nabooru remained calm in the face of their appearances for only two reasons: the first being to protect her child and the second being that she didn't want to give away her awareness of them, even though something about them gave her the feeling that they already knew she knew. The one who stood just left of the door exiting the room held his hand out to the Gerudo queen, fingers splayed as sand dribbled between them, only to disappear long before it hit the floor.
“We are strong,” it said, voice a harsh and twisted bass, as it spoke directly into her mind. “You are weak.”
Nabooru drew her weapon, switching it immediately to kill form, and approached the one pouring the ethereal sand. She spit at its feet. “If you're strong, pick that up.”
The creature made no motion to show disgust or concern, even as she swung the lance up at his head with a speed that would've decapitated most people three or four times over. The creature and its brethren all disappeared at the moment contact would've occurred. Nabooru's blade went through the wall like a knife through a chicken's neck, and returned to neutral form in the same motion. The feeling of unease passed. They were gone, but for how long? She did not know.
Downstairs, Zelda encountered a different type of beast. Her brother wasn't in his room, so she opted to check the next logical place: the kitchen. She'd run in and found a green, eight-foot-tall behemoth standing motionless with a sandwich about as big as her body. It wasn't her brother's grandfather, though. And it definitely wasn't her grandmother. Saria was sitting at the table, as well as a sleeping little boy covered in cake crumbs.
“Hello,” he said, his new voice surprising her almost as much as the body.
It was definitely her brother, but … “What the fuck happened to you?”
“Zelda! Please!” Saria chimed in, sighing as the big people and their naughty words wouldn't stay separated for more than three seconds.
“Sorry,” the princess added, walking into the kitchen and over to her “little” brother. She stood there looking up at him in disbelief for a long, long time.
“Pretty cool, isn't it?” he said, flexing some as he bit into the gigantic sandwich, ego having been thoroughly inflated by the kid he found napping out in the barn. Rampart had said, in so many words, “You're, like, the biggest person … EVER!” And when he moved those four wheat barrels stacked one on top of the other, the kid had proclaimed him to be the strongest guy in the whole world. Saria had just giggled as he showed off, but it went a long way in not letting the trauma of what had happened sink in.
Zelda punched him in the arm—an arm that was probably as big around as her waist, which was small for waist standards, but fucking huge for an arm—and it was solid, almost as solid as their father's, though there was a bendable, warm quality to Junior's flesh that made it, well, flesh. Still, the more pressing issue hit her. “Where's Daddy? We need to find him now!” she shouted, as the more severe situation hit her once more.
“Oh,” her brother replied, “he left—”
“I know, but we need to find him!” she shouted, before quieting down for the sake of the kid. “There's something bad out there, and we need him,” Zelda said to clarify her ravings.
Her brother kept eating, though. “Mmm, how do we … how do we do that?” Junior asked, failing to get the urgency and his senses never once picking up the intruders. As it were, his powers became more tamable and even greater with this forced change, but his perception, like his sister's, was limited to what was in his immediate area.
“Want to find him!” Zelda shouted once again.
“Okay, jeez,” Junior replied, sitting his sandwich on the island and dusting his hands free of crumbs. “So, how are we going to do this?”
“Give me your hands and then concentrate on nothing but finding him,” she said, calming a little as the feeling subsided from her nerves.
“We could probably take whatever it is,” Junior said offhandedly, taking his sister's hands.
Zelda didn't respond with an outburst or spoiled ravings. She looked up into her little brother's eyes and said quite simply, “No, we can't.”