Chapter 13 – Revealing Reunions
The bird had flown straight to her. A small and tiny message tied to its leg. The parcel had said nothing. It was blank. It was the feeling of someone washing over her that was the message. She knew in an instant who had sent the bird. Their presence has been magically imprinted upon the paper. It was the presence of a student. Her student. Her ward. The princess whom she had failed. Yet, it was confusing. The Heir should not have known this kind of spell. She had only just begun her tutelage. That knowledge bothered her. Yet, it did not stop her from following the bird. It had taken a few minutes to realize what the animal had wanted of her. It flying to the window and staring off south. Then flying back to her and doing the same. It did this several times before she realized that she was being summoned.
After the failed fight with Quiri, which had left her a scar across her face, she had fled. Quiri had of course pursued her through the corridors. At times reengaging her in attack. So she had run, seeking to draw Quiri from the castle. Hoping that maybe with his absence it could aid the Heir in escaping. It had or so she told herself.
Rumor had it the King was dead. Which meant she had failed to get him out of the castle, as was the original plan. Instead, she had gone to
and ran through the many alleys, her attacker still pursuing her. Using magics she had never seen before. Something had turned him, something horrible. He laughed and yelled what he would do to her corpse. What heinous fun he would have with it. Only when she had leaped over the town’s protective wall did he finally leave her be. By then it was nightfall and she had seen the remnants of the royal guards fleeing, Tiryn and Shawn at the lead. They had lost. Hyrule City
She had returned to her people then, telling them of what had transpired. A plan of action had been devised to go in and rescue the Heir. When they realized the hidden passages were now impossibly blocked they had dared a frontal assault. By then a type of mania had seized her people. All the warnings of old coming forward and fueling their fears. The only reason they existed, or would continue to exist, is if the royal line did not die out.
The assault was a disaster, Quiri raising the alarm early. Many had died. And for nothing. A few days after the attack it became public knowledge that he had not acquired the Heir. And then the search was on. Every sheikah was sent to every village and corner of the realm seeking her. Yet, to no avail. It seemed she did not want to be found. Maybe she feared more than one sheikah had turned. It was a fear many were sharing right now.
That was when the messaged bird had come to her, while she had been among the villas seeking. She thought Zelda would have sought refuge there. So she packed her things and followed the bird on horseback, letting her features shift to that of a hylian woman. It was in this guise that she now looked upon the dominant features of the Lost Woods. The bird was close to the trees. It stared at her then stared into the forest. It did this a few more times before taking flight and vanishing among the shadows.
Sable exhaled slowly. This was a trap. One set-up by Quiri obviously. A trap using the Heir's scent to trick her into going into the woods. All knew whoever ventured in would not leave. She sighed. Hope can easily blind a person. She began to wheel her horse about when suddenly the bird came back into sight, circling around her. It called a few times before she watched it disappear back into the forest. Why not? She turned her horse towards the forest and began to approach it.
That was when she saw two blurred motions coming from the ground. She had no time to react as she soon found two spear points directed at her throat. She gazed upon the shifting clothes and features of her attackers. They wore robes of a dancing color that were only now settling upon a mixture of brown hues and green. They were cowled and dark skinned hands gripped the spears. It had been a trap. They had lain in wait, their robes somehow blending them in perfectly with the landscape.
They would not take her so easily. She concentrated and then phased away from them. One moment she was atop her horse, the next she was off it, her hands already drawing a shortsword and dagger from their sheathes. She didn't wait for the assailants to realize what happened. She struck out at the one to the left of her mount. She parried the spear with her shortsword and stabbed with the dagger. The attacker was caught off guard and the weapon pierced them in the side. Sable then kicked out with her leg, connecting with the person's head, rendering them unconscious.
The second attacker was bearing around her horse, the spear stabbing forward. Sable parried it with ease. She phased again, this time forward. The assailant reacted quickly, using the butt of their spear to block her dagger, and leaping backward to bring the spear around once more, using it to occupy Sable's shortsword. Sable danced with the tip of the spear for a few moments before throwing her dagger at the attacker. The attacker dodged it with grace, but the moment of distraction is what Sable needed to charge her shortsword with magic, sharpening its edge.
With her free hand she gripped the spear and swung with her sword. The sword easily sliced through the wood. Sable acted again and phased forward, her free hand now gripping the cut-off tip of the spear. She stabbed her opponent with it, just below ribcage and into her guts. It was a nasty blow, but they had not exactly played fair. Her attacker shrieked in pain and dropped her weapon. Both hands going to clutch the now freely bleeding wound. Sable now wanted some answers. She took a step forward and the figure whistled sharply.
Sable heard the rustling of clothe and turned to look around her. It seemed over two dozen figures had risen from the ground, their robes now shimmering into hues of brown and green. All were cowled as her two assailants were, but these had arrows pointed at her. She could see the spears they possessed strapped to their backs.
The nearest one spoke first. "Drop your weapons." It was a woman's voice. Thickly accented. "Now." Her recurved bow tightened. Sable sighed and dropped her weapons.
The leader began to call out orders, saying various woman's names. She recognized the origin of the names. Gerudo.
Within a few moments five surrounded her, every point of their blades aimed at her throat. Two more walked beside with arrows nocked and at the ready. Her arms had been bound behind her, at the wrist and elbow, forcing her to puff her chest out. She was blindfolded as well. In darkness she walked with the points of the spears directing her by poking her neck in a certain direction. Soon she knew they were in the forest, for most of the light was shaded. She heard various voices around her and the rustling of cloth. She was in some encampment. She recognized both hylian and gerudo accents. She was utterly confused.
How were hylians and gerudo working together in a forest that swallowed all occupants? Soon she realized she would find out. A voice she recognized called out. It seemed she was finding something amusing. Probably her.
"Was she that dangerous Rahiri?" The voice asked.
"Yes, she has injured two of our number with ease."
The voice tsked. "A misunderstanding I assure you. This woman is not what she appears. Sable." The tone of voice shifted. One of regal command. "Show them your true features."
Sable had to obey. She shifted blind-folded and bound.
There was a collective gasp. The points of the spears did not lower. "This makes her even more dangerous. Allow us to cast her into the forest."
Weren't they in the forest?
"No, she is one whom I trust. Unbind her and release her eyes. I need her counsel desperately. As to those she injured, I am sure she will aid in their recovery once I have explained events to her."
The gerudo women obeyed instantly; her bonds were untied and her eyes allowed to see again. She found herself in a large tent. There were rugs covering the grassy ground. A table with large pieces of paper adorned it. There were two cots in the room and a bright lantern hanging from one of the posts holding the tent up. Zelda stood before her, looking rather less than regal. Link was behind her. Stoic as ever.
Sable smiled warmly and stepped forward to embrace her young charge. Zelda returned the affection with a smile. With the warm welcome over Sable went to one knee and begged for forgiveness, blathering on about her failure to save the king. Zelda silenced her with a motion of her hand.
"I'll not hear any of this. We all miscalculated. Myself included. None of us truly realized the scope of what was happening.”
These words gave Sable pause. They implied that maybe there was something larger going on than just Muion and Quiri. Her tongue ached to ask questions. Yet, she stayed it knowing full well the Heir would tell her everything.
And so she did. From the stranger named Bleys and his unlocking the Triforce of Wisdom, to her present conditions. She explained her new abilities, and she could control the enchantments of the forest. She as well told how these gerudo came to her. She had heard rumors of rebel gerudo who had traded for goods instead of stealing. They were being lead by Sahoori and were searching for the Heir. Zelda had sent Link out to get them and they had been here now for close to a week and a half.
With fresh supplies from the villas they had set-up a campsite amongst the ruins. She told of the Great Deku Tree's protection and how he allowed them access to this part of his realm. Then she laughed, saying she knew the questions that were burning in Sable's mind.
"I know you're dying to know. Ask." She grinned.
"How did you send the bird? You should not know how to make wards, yet."
"Did you not pay attention to my story, Sable. I could part the fog and control the forest. As to the wards, it was simple. These entire ruins are littered with the residual magic of wards and the like. I spent a few days studying them until I began to make them myself. As you can see, we are well protected by a few of my wards. Not a single image came be seen from behind the trees. No sound either."
"Then you're the reason for the gerudo's odd attire?"
Zelda beamed at the question. "Oh yes. Something I was inspired by when examining the forest's enchantments. See, the fog confuses the mind by shifting the images of the forest around them. I replicated this into a cloth. Except, it’s inverted. Instead of images being put on the person they are put out from the person. Which allows the wearer to blend in."
"And you made all of them?" Shock was in her voice.
Zelda nodded. "We bought the robes from various villa tailors. We're still trying to get most of them to fit right, they tend to be too loose. But, they work. And it allows the gerudo to keep track of the various companies of cronies. It’s thanks to their quick work that we now have a strategic map of where most of the royal and crony guards are at." She gestured towards the parcels on the table.
Sable followed her and Link over. She now saw a detailed map of the kingdom, complete with borders and markings with names. Some of the names she recognized belonging to captains she knew to be loyal to the Heir. Others she saw were loyal to Muion, most of their names were stationed in the various forts. While the royal guards were all outside the borders of the kingdom.
"What does all of this help to do? War?" She asked. She then noted many names within the villas. She saw Dashiva's. Those marks must represent the militiamen.
"Oh no. When I take the throne the only battle fought will be within the castle. If the crony guard and royal guard clash it will forever divide them."
"You plan on letting the cronies become guard again?" She was incredulous.
"Of course, they only followed orders. As the Captains and lieutenants. They had a choice. And they chose poorly."
"If there is not to be a battle, why know their locales?"
Zelda smiled. "The first feint, of course. And it seems we have only a month and a half before Shawn has them all organized to strike. That's taking into account Dashiva's stalling him."
Sable now smiled. She should have known the Heir had been planning and not just hiding. "You know, it would have been easier if you had contacted us. We could have gathered this information for you much easier."
Zelda shook her head. "Before the triforce was awoken I did not know if any other sheikah had been turned. Now I realize that to turn a sheikah would require much. And for Quiri to defeat you meant he had learned more than just how to betray. The wards around the castle have to be blood wards. It’s the only way to keep people physically out. Which will work to our advantage."
"So you do not believe that any more sheikah have been turned?"
Zelda shook her head. "No, I believe Quiri is the only one. He's the only one to have spent a significant amount of time with the Arcadians."
"Arcadians? What have they to do with this?"
Zelda looked at her, a very piercing stare. She was quiet for a moment. "Everything. It begins with them. They are the ones behind Muion and Quiri. Someone among the arcadians broke Quiri and sent him to my father. Quiri is the main orchestrator of all this. Yet, he is not the mastermind. Nor, do I believe that their emperor is either. Though, he is undoubtedly supporting Muion, or offering him something." Zelda paused, her eyes focusing on nothing.
"Does that mean, that even with Quiri and Muion gone there will still be more problems?"
Zelda gave herself a shake. "None of know, do you?" There was an odd tone to her voice.
"Know what, your Highness?"
"I told you the triforce of wisdom has been awakened in me and you have not figured out what it means. Which means you don't know. None of you have been told, yet the elders must have seen the signs."
"Told of what?" Sable's voice was calm, though she dreaded what Zelda would tell her.
"The cycle has started again."
Sable waited for more, but none came. Then she laughed, heartily and loudly. "Zelda, just because the triforce has awaken in you doesn't mean the cycle has begun again. The Triforce of Wisdom has dwelt in your line for centuries. Sometimes it arises, sometimes it does not. Always, though, it appears active in the female side. Though, at times we have speculated it active in few males."
Zelda's eyes bore daggers into Sable. The sheikah guardian looked away. "I am no longer the ignorant child I was, sheikah." Sable winced as the princess spoke. "My mind has been invaded with what the triforce knew. It has been pillaged with knowledge. I know things. I know the cycle has begun again. I know the hero will rise and the six demons of Hyrule he must battle. One, the first, resides in
, and has been pulling strings for nearly a decade. I'm even sure I know which it is. Ahganim." She spoke the word as if it were a curse. Arcadia
Sable flinched at the name, her self-control now falling apart as the Heir's words sank into her mind. The six demons of Hyrule. , Majora, Ganon, Tilkate, Bjorn, Oni, and Ahganim. Each cycle they arise and must do battle with the Hero. Each time they invade a land and bring it to the brink of destruction. Leaving many dead in their wake. Yet, thankfully each time the Hero fights them and imprisons them again. Till their powers grow strong enough and they rise again. Sable shuddered. "Where is the Hero?" Was all she managed.
Zelda did not answer her. She only looked away.
Sable took the hint. Instead she asked, "What is it you wish of me, your majesty."
Zelda nodded, finally able to make Sable see the importance of what they faced and show her that she was no longer the student. "We can do nothing about Ahganim now. The first is to take back Hyrule and unite the races under a single banner. To do this Muion and Quiri must die. That is the first part. The pieces have already been set into motion. The first feint as I told you is already being rallied by Shawn. Dashiva will be his counter-point giving us the time to move forward with the main entrance into the castle. Which is where the Gorons come in. Already I have sent word to Gaurun to meet with me. As well, I have sent word to the Zoras for an audience with the one called Rytala. I believe he will and his fellow men will be sympathetic to our cause. The Zoras will be the second feint. The Gorons and Gerudo the third. And the Sheikah will be the fourth. Each feint attacking the castle. The true aim will only to be to eliminate Muion and Quiri. That is where my strike force comes in."
"You're personally going in?" Sable stared at her in shock.
"Yes." The word was a challenge for Sable to question her. Zelda waited only a moment and saw no objections. "Myself and Link and several others will make our way into the castle through all the chaos. We will find Muion and Quiri and kill them. With me in place I will command the guards to accept me as Queen or die."
Sable was quiet a moment. Thinking through the many parts of the plan. Wondering if maybe it was overly complicated. She said as much.
Zelda shook her head. "No, all the races must have a say in it. Those involved must all see me command the guards to cease. They must all see me in my power. They will then bring what they saw back to their own people. Rumor and whisper will spread, blowing me out of proportion. Then, when I step forward to confront the monarchs they will be wary of me. Giving me the advantage."
Sable could not hold the surprise from her eyes. This was her ward? This was the girl who had tried to hold the castle together and the kingdom without her father knowing. Whatever had happened in that span of the triforce awakening had changed her. Sable was almost frightened at how the Heir's mind now worked. Then she knew why she had been summoned. Not for her counsel, but for another reason. "I'm your connection within the sheikah. It will be me who will get them to storm the castle walls. Am I right?"
Zelda nodded. "Under the pretense that I have been captured."
Sable felt cold. "Is that all I am to you? A pawn on your game-board?"
Zelda's face melted instantly, a warmth glowing into her features. "No. You are still friend and companion, one who holds my trust. Things are awkward between us now because I am no longer the student and you no longer the mentor. I am now your Heir and leader. I am sorry if I was harsh in showing this lesson to you."
Sable's fear withered away. This young lady was not a changed person. One whom she had feared had grown cold and distant. The only change was her mind was much sharper. Keener. And she was right. It would take time to adjust to take commands unquestioningly. The Heir now had a much stronger grasp on things than she ever would.
They faced each other and hugged again like old companions. Zelda's excitement at learning new magics once more took control of her. She told Sable to attend to the ones she had injured and then return to her. Once back a few hours later Zelda practically begged Sable to show everything she could. They stayed till dawn in the tent, with flashes of light and shadow playing inside it. And all through the night Link watched silent and alert. A statue who was beginning to question his own role in things. Who saw past the Zelda’s warm front to the callousness brewing beneath.
Another week had gone by. Another meeting of minds between Shawn, Tiryn, and Dashiva. Together they had talked of tactics. Discussing the best approach to the castle. Unbeknownst to Shawn and Tiryn, Dashiva had received more orders. The orders had been simple. Allow the royal guards to amass outside the borders. A force to slowly build-up in the next few weeks. They must be gathered in a way where as to draw some of the companies away from the city surrounding the castle. Thus, for hours Dashiva worked with Tiryn and Shawn finally convincing them to gather the royal guards to the south and west of the castle. A direct threat.
There had been more in the orders than just that. Instead of his militiamen gathering and attacking the castle as Tiryn and Shawn thought, they were to attack the Gerudo instead. It was their mission to drive the Gerudo back into the desert. When Zelda took the throne she did not wish to see any of the desert-dwellers on her plains.
So Dashiva sat in silence in his study in the darkness of night. A small affair with small lights. Littered around the crapped room were maps and sketches. Small notes littered his desk, scrawls about the various weaknesses of strengths of companies and men under him. He rubbed his eyes to ward-off sleep yet again.
His head ached as his eyes focused again on the map he had been studying the most. It outlined the lands and terrain east of Gerudo Canyon. The entrance to their desert. Getting the Gerudo from the villas was the easy part. A few surprise attacks in the night. Some fires in their own camps and the Gerudo would be routed from the villas. And in full retreat until they got to a certain area just outside Gerudo Canyon.
It was there that he could find no solution on defeating the Gerudo. On the open plains the Gerudo had their strengths, and his men would buckle in full combat with them. Every angle he looked at it, no matter which companies were where, none were prepared for a fight like this. Fighting guard was one thing. His men could do that, but the Gerudo were the best fighters in the land. They had more stamina, speed, and strength than any guard would ever have. And their tactics had yet to be matched. Arrows in close-quarters. Spears for group fighting. And for individual combat, a scimitar. No, none of his men were ready for them!
Yet, he had his orders. Drive the Gerudo from the plains. His men could maybe do it if they held their wits. They outnumbered the Gerudo easily by five to one odds. Which in body count meant for every one they lost he would lose three. Something else he wished to avoid, losing half his numbers in a suicide run.
No matter the angle. He needed help. He wished for maybe a company of Shawn's men, but knew he would then have to tell Shawn that all he was doing was only a feint. That the woman he was doing this for was already free. He did not understand why she did not want him to know of her plan. Yet, somehow her plan was going forward. She was anticipating Shawn's moves perfectly. She was as well doing the same for him. He was no one's fool. He knew she wasn't guiding people, only nudging them.
He stopped, his train of thought now gone. She was expecting Shawn to ready an assault. She had expected himself to stall Shawn's tactics. That means she had to know that his men would need help. Yet, there was no force around that could render him any aid. The small force of her Gerudos would aid in storming the castle. He could expect no help from the Sheikah. That left no one.
However, he was now certain there was someone he was supposed to ask. Someone around here that made him a good candidate to ask for help. Someone with trained men. There were none in the kingdom. Once again his thoughts paused. None in the kingdom. But, there was a force outside the kingdom. Miles to the south of here there lay the frontier. Beyond the proclaimed borders of the kingdom. There were town and farmers that way, but as well bandits and robbers. Every farmstead had a sword, bow, and horse. The farther south you go the less civilized it becomes, where the line between farmer and bandit blurs.
There is one faction that loosely unites them. Lon Lon Ranch. A massive ranch filled with thousands of horses and run by hundreds of people. The proprietor's of the ranch were known throughout the realm for their mounts. None had ever matched one of their horses or come close. With a shocking certainty Dashiva knew who the Heir wanted him to ask. He even got the sense that maybe the Heir had set her sights on them becoming part of her kingdom. He would have snorted at the idea, having dealt with them plenty of times, but he was not always sure when it came to the Heir.
He was fairly certain the Lon Lon Riders would help him. Bearing that in mind his eyes went back to the map. Back to the tactics. This time he would have cavalry. Something this kingdom sorely lacked. A grin split his face. The Gerudo were not used to fighting men on horseback. Would they be surprised? What if the Riders struck while the Gerudo were still being routed from the villas. Horsemen would be quick enough to catch them before they regrouped. And they would have the stamina to drive the women back to the desert. His smile got even wider. He did not know what was more awe-inspiring. The fact that he could drive the Gerudo out with barely any loss of life, or that the Heir had somehow organized this. He shook his head. Slowly, beginning to realize why he was doing it for her.
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