Link stepped out of the Temple of Time and plopped down on the stairs outside. He suspected he hadn't been gone for more than a couple hours, so he took out his bundle of food, unwrapped it, and bit into one of the apples. He glanced across the yard to the gate that separated the Temple from the rest of Hyrule Castle Town, watching the townsfolk wander by.
Birds chirped in the trees and the sun shone down on the Hero, warming his face. It was a very nice day.
He just finished his apple when something out of place caught his eye. Among the colorfully dressed folk in the marketplace stood a solitary black-robed figure carrying a basket. Once again, the hood concealed her face.
Link leapt to his feet and dashed into the marketplace. Somehow, the Gerudo saw him in time and managed to vanish from his sight again.
"Crap!" Link exclaimed, glancing around the marketplace. He looked in the alleyways and in some of the shops, but couldn't find the Gerudo anywhere. He raced up the stair to the balcony on the front of one of the buildings and stared down on the market. He peeked through the nearby windows, but there was still no sign of the Gerudo woman.
A cry rose up in the marketplace as Link heard the pounding of horses' hooves from the castle.
"Princess Zelda!" the guards cried.
"Someone's taken the Princess!" a man shouted out.
"The Gerudo are taking her!" an elderly woman shrieked.
"Huh?" Link ducked down on the balcony and watched four Gerudo on horseback gallop into the marketplace. One of them brandished a massive scimitar in the air as the crowd surrounded them, the other two carried long bows which they immediately aimed at the guardsmen nearby. The fourth Gerudo rode into the center of the other three and its black war stallion reared. Once its front hooves pounded the ground, Link spotted the riders. The Gerudo, who Link guessed was Jocasta from her dark clothing and appearance similar to Ganon, sat behind Princess Zelda on the saddle, holding a crooked dagger to her throat.
"Let us through!" the guard holding the scimitar demanded of the guards at the gate.
Link tossed his backpack on the floor and reached inside for his Fairy Bow. He eased the bow out of his pack as well as the quiver of arrows he carried.
Two of the Hyrule guardsmen rushed in towards the Gerudo, and the two with bows released their arrows. Their aim was true; the guards tumbled to the ground amid the shouts and screams of the townsfolk.
"Let us through," Jocasta snarled, "or the same fate awaits your Princess." She knicked the side of Zelda's throat with the dagger. The Princess gasped and felt the trickle of blood down her neck.
Link drew back the bowstring, aiming for the Gerudo holding the Princess. He had a decent shot, if the horse didn't make any sudden moves. He closed one eye and stuck out his tongue a little as he lined up the shot.
The guards at the front gate moved aside.
"No!" Zelda cried. The cold steel of the dagger was near her windpipe now.
"Do not follow us to our land," Jocasta warned. "Only the legendary Hero of Time can save her!"
The shot was perfect. Link prepared to release the string, when suddenly someone dropped from the roof to the balcony and landed beside him. The Hero tried to look at who it was, but a sharp kick to his ribcage made him collapse on the balcony. He released the arrow, and it was sailing across the street into one of the merchant buildings.
Link tried to roll to his feet, but there was no room. He finally got a good look at his attacker; it was the Gerudo he'd been trying to follow around. She drew her scimitar and advanced on him. Link fumbled for his Biggoron's sword, but her quick spin kick to his left side toppled his balance. Grabbing only air as he fell to the cobblestones below, Link shouted as he crashed into the street on his stomach.
The head Gerudo laughed. "Here is your Hero now!"
Link's arms quivered as he pushed himself up. He knocked the wind out of himself and one of the stones jabbed him in the right shoulder when he smashed into the road, so he shakily stood up, clutching his shoulder and grimacing. His backpack crunched to the ground beside him.
"Here this, Hero of Time," Jocasta growled. "You will come to the Gerudo fortress in the valley, or you'll never see your precious Princess again!"
"Link!" Zelda gasped.
The Gerudo on the balcony leapt off, landing on her feet. She dashed to one of the Gerudo guards holding a bow and leapt onto the saddle behind her. Jocasta spurred the war stallion which bolted towards the gate, and the other Gerudo followed. "We ride!" she screamed.
The guardsmen could only watch them ride out of the castle.
Link gritted his teeth, gathered his backpack, and half-limped out of the marketplace towards Hyrule Field.
Outside, he played Epona's song. He took Epona back to Lon Lon Ranch after all of his other adventuring, but he was fairly certain the horse would still hear the song and find a way to get to him. Sure enough, just a minute or two later, his trusted steed galloped into view.
"Sorry, Epona," he said to her. "I need your help to save the world again. You understand."
The horse snorted and tossed her head.
"I'll take that as a yes."
He climbed onto her back. "Let's go."
Epona and Link headed towards Gerudo valley.
It was near sundown when they arrived. Epona galloped over the rickety bridge and up into the valley. Several of the Gerudo guards stood in the road to the fortress. Link stopped his horse.
"You walk from here," one commanded.
Link dismounted. The Gerudo who spoke to him reached for Epona's reins and led her up to the stables. The rest of the Gerudo formed a half-circle behind him, their spears aimed at his back.
"Walk," one growled beneath her veil.
Link started walking up to the fortress. He didn't see any other Gerudo guards on the field or inside the fortress either. The guards behind him told him which way to go in the complex building layout until he finally entered a room where the Gerudo who had kidnapped Zelda sat in a massive wooden chair at the end of a table.
The guards remained at the doorway.
"Ah, the Hero of Time," the Gerudo muttered. "It is good to know that the great Link is so...punctual."
"Where's Zelda?" he growled.
"She is safe," the Gerudo replied, examining her fingernails, "for now, at least. By the way, my name is Jocasta."
Link narrowed his eyes. "I want to see her."
"You will make no demands of me," Jocasta snapped. "She is my prisoner here, and now, so are you. However, you serve a much more important purpose now."
Jocasta stood up and stepped around the table. "You, Hero of Time, are going to help me unleash a creature that will consume this world."
"Don't think to fool me. Your Princess could be killed instantly with the simple snap of my fingers." She raised her right hand and rubbed her fingers together. "You wouldn't want that, would you? Then you would have the death of the Princess on your head. No decent soldier in Hyrule or elsewhere would leave you alive."
Link folded his arms.
Jocasta glared at him. "I know that you know all about me, Link. Your good friend Nabooru emerged for the first time in my knowledge from the Haunted Wasteland this afternoon where she was immediately attacked by my warriors and thrown into our prison."
"You see, now you have two lives resting on your actions, Hero of Time. They are both dear friends, are they not? It would be a pity if...something happened to them." She rubbed her fingers again. "The same threat goes to your Gerudo friend." She glanced at the guards. "Take his weapons from him."
The Gerudo surrounded him. Two of them jabbed their spears into his ribcage on either side as a third took his backpack, sword, and shield.
"Put them in the storage room."
The guard holding the weapons strolled out. The others returned to their places at the door.
"What am I supposed to do?" Link asked.
"Tomorrow," Jocasta purred, "at the stroke of midnight, I am going to stop the sands of the Haunted Wasteland. You, my dear Link, are going to create a focuspoint for the demon to attack, by using a spear made from silver and steel and placing it in the sand."
"So Nabooru was right," Link muttered. "Ganon did wake up the demon."
"Oh yes he did." Jocasta sneered at him. "On this very night he was to return to the fortress and help me free the demon. We were going to rule the world together, he and I. But you and your pathetic little friends in the dungeon decided it was better if he went to another place. I was not pleased to hear what happened to my husband-to-be."
"Once the demon's released, it's going to destroy everything anyway," Link grumbled. "What's left to rule?"
Jocasta chuckled. "I grow tired of speaking with you, Hero." She glanced at the guards. "Take him to the prison."
The Gerudo advanced on him.
"I want to see Zelda," Link demanded.
"You will see nothing but the inside of a cell," Jocasta laughed. "Take him from my sight. Until tomorrow night, Hero of Time."
A spear poked Link in the side, and he winced, since just hours ago another warrior kicked him there. The other guards surrounded him, and led him away.
The prison door slammed shut, followed by the click of a metal bolt. Inside, the cell was dark except for the indirect moonlight pouring in from the shaft in the ceiling. Link heard the rattle of keys and the footsteps headed away from his cell.
"Link? Is that you?"
Link turned around. Three walls of his cell were solid rock, while the other had a window cut into it, heavily barred, that separated two cells. He scurried to the window and squinted from the lack of light.
The next cell over was even darker than his, but he could make out a dimly lit figure slumped against the wall between their cells.
"Nabooru," Link replied, peeking through the bars. "Are you okay?"
The figure nodded, very slowly. "I'm afraid," she muttered, "that my plan to take down Jocasta alone didn't work." She groaned a little as she leaned her head against the wall. "I didn't see it coming. They all attacked me at once."
"Have you seen Zelda?"
Nabooru sighed. "Zelda? You mean she's here too? Great."
Link lowered his head against the bars.
"Look," the Gerudo said, "not all of the clan is on Jocasta's side. Most of them are down here, trapped like you and me. The rest I'm just guessing are brainwashed. We are an honorable people. We do not attack unarmed opponents in groups."
"Good point," Link agreed. "Is there any way to un-brainwash them?"
"Well, remembering what you had to do to me, that would include beating them around a bit." She chuckled. "We don't have time for that, Link."
"You're right. At least I know what's going on now. Jocasta told me that Ganon did in fact wake up the demon, and the whole ordeal with the magic spear is to create a focus point for it to attack."
"Oh, that's good news," Nabooru snapped.
Link leaned up against the wall and slid down to the floor beside the window. "I just have to figure out what I'm going to do."
"Got any weapons?"
"Working on it."
"I'll just...leave you alone then."
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