Before the War

by Ted Anderson


Chapter 1 - The Beginning



The brown-cloaked man walked slowly up to the edge of the village, his boots squelching slightly on the muddy ground. He stepped into the close rows of houses and shops being spattered with rain, his hooded head moving around at the unfamiliar sights. Finally he stopped a man in a woolen tunic, walking quickly to get out of the rain.

      "Pardon me, goodman," he said in a deep voice. "I am a stranger in this land, and I seek information. Can you direct me somewhere which may help?"

      "Certainly, stranger. What sort of information do you seek?"

      "I seek information on the legend of this land, the Triforce."

      The man laughed. "There's many a story about the Triforce. Who knows which are true and which are false? But if you seek information on it, then try the Leaky Barrel, at the end of the street. Tales flow there like beer, which flows plentifully enough there."

      "Thank you, goodman." The cloaked man turned to leave.

      "Wait, stranger." The cloaked man stopped, and turned. "You never told me your name."

      The man paused, seeming to collect his thoughts. He lifted his head, the rain dripping off it in rivulets.

      "My name is Ganondorf Dragmire."

* * *

      The tankards were all filled, old Gredu was rambling on about nothing, and there'd only been two fights so far. All in all, Plern the barkeep reflected, it had been a good night. A customer called for more ale, and tossed the empty mug towards Plern. He caught it, filled it, and gave it to his serving wench, who passed it on to the man.

      Suddenly, the door flew open. A man swathed in an old cloak stepped in out of the rain and slammed the door, the hinges rattling.

      A silence unaccustomed to the Leaky Barrel fell. Those sober enough to look up did, and quickly looked back down. Two men arm-wrestling stopped in their game to watch this stranger. The serving wench appraised him quickly, then stepped back into the ale room. Even old Gredu stopped mumbling about his nonexistent adventures in surprise.

      Plern found his voice. "Welcome, stranger."

      The man looked up as if noticing the barkeep for the first time. He strode over to an empty stool right in from of Plern, his cloak dripping. The stool creaked as he sat down-must be a big fellow, Plern thought.

      The man pulled back his hood, and Plern found himself shrinking back involuntarily. The stranger's yellow pupils burned into his face. His pale green skin sharply outlined his flaming orange hair, curving along his eyebrows, arching over his ears and leaving the top of his head bald. His nose and chin seemed to point like spikes from his face.

      "Greetings, barkeep," he said in a voice so low it sounded like growling. He dropped three rupees on the counter. "I'll take a tankard of your finest ale."

      Plern filled it almost mechanically, not seeming to know what he was doing. He gave it to the man, who took a long draught. The foam ran down his chin as his throat bobbed up and down.

      Finally he set the mug, empty, on the bar. He leaned forward almost conspiratorially towards Plern.

      "I am seeking information on the Triforce. Do you know anything of it?"

      The question seemed to wake him from his dazed stupor. "Do I know anything? Friend, I've heard every drunkard's tale of it a thousand times over! Everyone in the country's searching like mad for the thing, all because of four lines o' poetry!" He laughed despite himself. "Hey friends, this man's searching for the Triforce! Anyone heard anything?" he called out.

      The bar suddenly came alive with men shouting.

      "My cousin met a man who'd seen the thing-"

      "I seen the thing myself, glimmerin' in the woods out o' town-"

      "A brother o' mine had the thing in his hands, until Thoron here grabbed it from 'im-"

      "I didn't! He never even had the thing, you lyin' bastard-"

      "They say you can see it only by the light o' the moon, out on the lake-"

      The barkeep laughed again. "Everyone here's got a tale or two. They tell 'em to anyone who'll listen, hopin' that they'll have better luck, and remember their pal in the tavern who told them. It's near impossible to find the thing, I hear." He winked. "If you're searching for it, I say you give up now."

      The man stood up abruptly, pushing back his stool. "I will never give up." He pulled his cloak back on, then walked back into the storm outside. The serving wench came to the counter. She took one of the rupees and bit it; it was genuine. "Strange fellow," she said. "Think he'll find it?"

      Plern shrugged. "Probably not. I doubt the bauble even exists. He'll search awhile, tryin' to find it, and then come back here to sink himself in ale." He shook his head slightly. "But I don't knowÉif anyone were to find the thing, I'd bet it'd be him. He's got a funny sort of presenceÉsomething I can't put me finger onÉ"

Years Pass...

      Ganondorf Dragmire sat in his golden throne, pondering the legends.

      Here, surrounded by the ruins of an ancient temple in the desert, he could easily think. Time was abundant, and so were the legends. As the man in the village had told him, who knew which were true and which were false?

      Who, indeed. Ganondorf had studied the scrolls a thousand times over, and he found plenty-but not enough to open the doorway. Things detailing the realm of the Godesses, things telling him of the golden Triforce, things which were said to open the door in. But nothing solid. Not one of these scrolls gave him enough information to find the door.

      Knossous, Ganon's thin, short second-hand man, stepped through the doorway. "Mandrag Ganon," he said respectfully, "we may have information about the door to the Triforce for you."

      Ganon sat up straight. "Give it to me."

      "One of our scouts met a man in a tavern who said he knew where the door was." Ganon sat still for a moment, then laughed. "And so he's never opened it? He must be tricking you. No man can resist the pull of the Triforce."

      "Yes, Mandrag Ganon. But this man-his name was Ahrto-said that he knows it only from a passage in The Book of Mudora."

      "The Book of Mudora?" Ganon said thoughtfully. "It may be true, then. What did this Ahrto say about the door?"

      "He wouldn't tell the scout. All he said is that it's somewhere in Hyrule."

      "That isn't very helpful," Ganon mused. He stood up. "I shall go meet this mysterious man myself. Where is he?"

      "In a tavern called Faroe's Folly, in the village due south of here."

      Ganon grabbed his cloak and threw it over himself. "You are in command while I am away." He left, his boots booming on the stone floor of the temple ruins. Knossous walked up the stairs to the throne, and sat.

* * *

      Ganondorf walked through the open door of the tavern. Drunkards trying to seep their sorrows in spirits looked up from their stupors long enough to see the man who had stomped in. A man in the back spilled his ale over the table in surprise. A group of men talking to his left stopped whispering.

      It was, Ganondorf recalled, a nearly exact recreation of what had happened in the Leaky Barrel so many years ago.

      He stepped over to the bartender, who was unconcernedly polishing glasses behind the bar. "I'm looking for a man."

      "Are you, now," the bartender said amiably, not even looking at Ganon.

      "Yes. Can you point him out?"


      "Depends on what?"

      "Depends on if you're a payin' customer or not. If you are, then buy somethin'. If not, then leave. I ain't got room for freeloaders."

      Ganondorf sighed mightily, then dropped a handful of rupees on the bartop. "A tankard of ale."

      The bartender filled a tankard and handed it to Ganondorf. "Now who're you looking for?"

      Ganon leaned over the bar. "A man named Ahrto."

      The bartender, not intimidated at all by Ganon, jerked his thumb at a man in a green tunic in the back. "Try not to scare him-he's a shy fellow."

      Ganon walked over to Ahrto, who looked at him over the beer he was sipping nervously. Ganon sat down and set his tankard on the table. He looked at the small, nervous man across from him, almost studying him.

      "You are Ahrto." It was not a question.

      "Y-yes, I am."

      Ganon sipped his beer. "I have heard that you know of the door to the Golden Land."

      Ahrto's mouth dropped open. He quickly shut it, and shook his head. "Who told you this?" he said with forced humor. "I-If I knew that, why would I be sitting in a second-rate tavern, drinking cheap ale?"

      "A friend of mine was in here a day ago. You told him that you knew of the door."

      Ahrto shook his head again. "So you're the man he spoke of. I think you're mistaken-I don't know where the entrance is."

      At this, Ganon's eyes blazed. "So you lied to him-and me?" he said in a dangerously quiet tone.

      "N-no sir. I don't know where the entrance is, but I can find out."


      "Through the b-book of Mudora."

      Ganon sat back in his chair, smiling. "So you do own the book."

      Ahrto looked around nervously. "Y-yes-but you're the only man here who knows it."

      "How did you obtain a copy? I have heard that they are quite rare."

      "My father was a priest in Hyrule. He was shamed, and fled the order before he could be punished. H-he took the book with him."

      At this Ganon leaned forward and impaled Ahrto with a stare. "I want the book."

      Ahrto shrank back into his chair. "B-beggin' your pardon, sir-but I can't just give it to you. I've got me wife and kids to think of. If you couldÉperhapsÉpay me?"

      Ganon's eyes shrank to slivers. "Two hundred rupees."

      Ahrto quivered. "I really couldn't give it to you for less than four hundred, sir-my wife's with child, and my youngest's taken sick-"

      "Two hundred," said Ganon in a tone of steel.

      Ahrto's gaze flitted around the room nervously. "Three hundred-but I'm robbin' myself."

      "Two h