Chapter 16 – A Resolution
The tension was brimming throughout the kingdom. Forces were being moved and fates were being decided. The worst was the waiting. Everyone felt it. Everyone heard the rumors. Some so outlandish that few regarded those seriously. Yet, some were true in every sense. Rumors of armies massing close to
. Of raiders on horseback coming from the deep south. Of gorons rolling like boulders across the plains. Of gerudo who vanished into thin air. There was talk of a fight. Of a war that would tear the kingdom apart. On that rumor, they were false. The tension finally broke after waiting over a month. The pieces on the board had been put in place. The Heir's carefully laid plans were soon to be executed. And unbeknownst to Muion, the specter of death was looming over his head, and soon its presence would fall upon him. Hyrule City
He was currently in the throne room, surrounded by six armed guards. He had yet to hear from the Gerudo. He knew the royals were gathering in the hills outside of the border. He had pulled most of his spare companies from the forts and towns to defend the city. It was an obvious move.
Without a clear way into the castle, she was forced with a siege. He was ready for it. He had stockpiled food. He had wished to have the golden castle as his base in case of a siege, but the gorons had left a few minor, yet crucial, things uncompleted. Therefore, he was stuck here. Yet, he was being paranoid. He had the greater numbers, the better supplies and the tactical advantage. Soon, he would even have the Gerudo. He sighed, berating himself for getting worked-up again. He stood from the throne and walked towards one of the room's massive, tall windows.
It gazed upon the east side of the castle's keep. He saw a thicket of trees and beyond that the eastern gate. Four ways to defend the castle if they breached the town. They would have to surround the city. Then surround the castle. He knew there would be sheikah involved. Quiri had yet to set wards on the city walls for such a thing. He would be forced to once the siege began.
He growled, becoming irritated as his mind had wandered once more to the worst possible situation. He had made it this far. He would make farther. He wondered where Quiri was. Was he back in the dungeon torturing his fellow sheikah again? Or was he laughing outloud in the corridors. Apparently, he had been caught numerous times laughing at his own reflection. Muion shook his head. He questioned the sheikah's sanity, as did all the guards. But, he needed the man for now. What did Quiri say his prisoner's name was? Chani? Chan? Something along those lines. With his capture so close to the castle Muion had wondered if the Heir had other agents among his guard. Quiri had assured him the idea was not likely.
Still, he wondered. Would his men turn against him? Did they have faith in his abilities, or would they finally break their training and defect. The thought disturbed him. If only he had captured the young bitch early enough. If only things had gone...
Thud! Muion registered the noise instantly. An explosion and close! He glanced out the window and saw dust in the air. Fear gripped his heart instantly. Bombs. The Heir. Panic nearly swept over him. He saw where the dust was, it was situated between in the thicket of trees. He whirled around and began to shout orders.
"Bring Captain Kirken and Firlos to me. Hilfis. Regin. Go find Quiri and bring him here." He did not even check to conform that two of his men left to obey his orders. Then he heard shouts and screams, muffled by the glass panes. He glanced out the window and cursed. There were guards fighting spears that moved of their own accord. He saw bows and hands gripping them that had no attached bodies. He was speechless. Then he heard other thuds. Other muffled explosions. Then he realized the scope of the attack. There would be no siege. No war. She had found a way through the blood wards. Then he paused. Why the explosions? He was shocked when he realized that they were blowing up the ground so they could go around the wards.
He would need to act fast to contain this mess. Explosions meant Gorons. Those invisible people were her doing as well. Quiri would have to help.
He shook his head abruptly as he was forced to blink rapidly. The east wall's sheikah wards had just gone off. Muion paled as he saw tight-fitted people with white to blonde hair scaling and leaping over the wall, killing the wall guards as they moved. Their blood red eyes searching for vengeance. There were more explosions from the wall, near the entrance. Where was it? The rumble he saw with the three Gorons standing around it was the east gate. The remains of it. They were cutting off the City Guard. Then he saw the icing on the cake. Leather bound Zoras running around in pairs, throwing roped spears at his fighting men. Bringing them down and leaving them tied.
Muion chuckled a little, feeling a quiet mania seeping into his mind.
"Oh, Muion!" He heard Quiri call his name in a cheerful tone. Muion growled, feeling himself become grounded once more with his anger. The mania at watching the scene slowly faded as he turned around. It was then that it returned full force as he saw Quiri holding the bound king in place, a knife to the captive's throat. Muion gurgled with surprise. He took a step forward and Quiri's arms moved like water. There was now a fountain of red liquid, like wine, staining the king's attire. The sheikah released him and the body fell to the ground.
Muion's breath was coming in large gulps as he saw his plans and future fall to pieces. His sanity was on the verge of going with them. "Why?" He gasped.
Quiri's smile was a sickening display. His laugher was a reminded him of shattered glass being tread upon. "Because all is lost, of course. We never stood a chance against her. Just look at what she has done behind your back. You had no idea she could do all this. And it just gets better. I'm not sure if you'll live to see the majesty of it all." He giggled. "With this strike she'll regain her Guard and unite all the races under her." He giggled shrilly, putting a finger to his mouth. "Now, I don't mind all the carnage myself, but I'd rather choose my own way of passing." He brought out a small vial from his robes. It was filled with a yellow liquid. Muion was too shocked to speak. "Tata!" Cried Quiri as he downed the liquid. That manic smile lay plastered on his face for only a few moments before it melted and he collapsed next to the dead body of his once life-long companion. To escape this life and his master he had chosen death.
Muion took two steps towards the bodies laying there. His hands worked on their own, gripping and ungripping the air. He took two steps forward before he was stopped by the sound of swords unsheathing. Then he heard two groans from behind him. He turned just in time to see two of his guards fall to the floor dead. The other two had drawn their weapons, which now both gleamed with blood.
They approached him, their swords at the ready. One had drawn a small dagger. Muion let reflexes take control and he drew his own sword. The guard who had drawn the dagger threw it. Muion cried out as the dagger found its home in his sword arm. He lost control of his hand and dropped his weapon. He clutched the arm close to his chest and watched with fury as the two guards approached him. He growled at them. Then one swung his sword and Muion fell into darkness.
Time passed in darkness before a serene voice filled his mind.
"All who are fighting I demand you to stop! Every guard that is fighting for Muion lay down your arms and no harm will come to you. Further fighting is pointless as Muion is now my captive and Quiri lies dead to his own hand. I am now the sole leader of this kingdom and its, and your, Queen. If you persist on fighting, then you forfeit your lives. So says I, Queen Zelda of Hyrule!"
Consciousness was not a very good state for Muion to be in. His vision danced for a few minutes before the scene cleared in front of him. His arms were bound as were his legs. His arm was a dull pain, at least they had taken out the dagger. He was laying on his side. He raised his head slightly to better tilt the world in his favor. There were Sheikah everywhere. They were all kneeling on the floor in submission. He saw other races doing the same. He noticed several bodies in the corner close to where he lay. He recognized their faces. His loyal lieutenants.
Then he glanced at the throne and wished he had not. She sat there, her small frame on the large marble throne. Yet, somehow it was she that dwarfed the throne. Her gaze was of crystal beauty as she looked upon all that were kneeling before her. On her head, sparkling like a sunset across a lake, was the Crown of Ages.
It was a pristine view and it humbled and awed him to watch her. She spoke, but her words did not reach his ears. Instantly, who she spoke to obeyed. They rose without hesitation. Without doubt. It was then that Muion realized why she was the one who would rule and not him. He remembered visions of marrying her and subduing her. He laughed at those visions now. Realizing how absurd it was for him to subdue someone of that majesty.
He now only wished for death.
Death though, was long coming for him. The days ahead were filled with medics patching his wounds and his bound body being shown to every captain and guard he had ever trained. Soon he accompanied the Heir and her entourage to where he had ordered his own companies to make camp. There he was hoisted upon a pole and held high for all to see him. The resistance in his men fell then. He saw their determination waver. He also saw as one by one his lieutenants and captains were captured by a sheikah that had dwelt in their shadow.
One by one they were brought before him and killed with an arrow to the eye. They were buried in shallow unmarked graves. That night he heard the festivities from his tent that he was held captive in. He knew that the royals had been brought back into the kingdom with open arms. He had lost utterly. There was a small hope that maybe Lieutenant Crosp and Gregan to the far south would mount a resistance. Maybe come rescue him and help him lead a revolution again. He played this fantasy through to its end in his head where he wed the Heir and ruled as King till he died. When the fantasy ended he wept.
Another week passed as he was paraded around the kingdom. He saw Gregan and Crosp both swear allegiance to their new Queen. By then, he had given up all hope. Another week past and he was in
Hyrule Squareat . The trash from the festivities and funerals was only now being picked up. He was currently chained to a post in the middle of the square. A dozen guards stood about the square, making sure he did not escape. His throat was dry and his eyes stung from the sweat and heat sores on his face and hands. He saw one guard walk to the vegetable stand and hand a bag of money to the owner. Hyrule City
The owner then began shouting. "Come one and come all! Compliments of the crown, take one, anyone, of my wares and throw it at the traitor! C'mon kiddies don't be shy! It'll be loads of fun!"
For the next few hours children, women, and men would throw vegetables and curses at him. He even felt more than a few rocks in the bundle. The guards only stepped in when somewhat got too close. Muion spit at them when he could manage water into his mouth. The guards and people only laughed at him. It was the next day that he was hauled in front of the throne.
She was as majestic as last time. Her features perfectly carved. Her eyes twinkling in the light throne room. Yet, he could not bear to look into those precious orbs. What lay within them had him shivering with fear. She spoke coldly, saying he was going to die. Soon. She just had not decided how. She then went into gruesome detail for some time. Muion was a gibbering wreck at the end. This was repeated twice more. The last he only laughed. He wished he could laugh more often. He felt he wanted to, he swore he felt like Quiri!
Then the day came that they dragged him once more out to the square. They tied his neck to a wooden block, his face twisted to the side so he could see the man who would cut-off his head. A bucket was placed for his head to fall in. A large man wielding a thick ax stepped up. He wore dark clothing. He had a radiant smile, though. He talked idly with each of the guards for a long time. Muion by then was sweating and squirming, wishing they would just finish it. The man then waited for awhile longer until he hailed the Queen a good afternoon. Muion was rabid by then.
The crowd jeered as Muion saw the man raise the ax high. He closed his eyes and waited. And waited and waited. Thunk! Muion twitched and opened his eyes. The ax was an inch from his nose. "Well look at that! I missed!" The man laughed. The crowd laughed. Muion started screaming. He mouth frothing. Then his words reached his ears. "Please! Kill me! Kill me! Please!" From there they became incoherent gibberings. His mind no longer registered anything sane. It was at that point the ax was held high and came down in one smooth motion. Similar to the falling motion Muion's head made as it landed into the basket.
For over a month Link wandered, occasionally hunting to replenish his supplies. He stayed away from all human contact. He was not sure what he was feeling at the time. It was confusing for him. He felt hot shame when he recalled his actions with the Heir, how it had come down to the point of his sword to her throat. Then he would feel betrayed at her actions and how she had used all those around her. There were more emotions mixed in the whirl. One so complex he could not put a name to it, yet it made his chest ache and sometimes brought tears to his eyes. All the other emotions he could fight away. Practicing his swordplay brought balance to his mind, but that emotion, the one that almost seemed physical, could not ever be quelled. In those times he felt frustration and anger. Emotions that he had worked long hours at controlling.
He traveled south and east, eventually making his way on horseback to the southern-most border of the kingdom. He stayed off the main trails and tightly packed dirt roads. Keeping more to the grassy hills and wooded thickets. He knew by now that the Heir's attack would be successful and that now she was Queen. He knew that seven of her secret guard were still within the castle. He did not know what was in the letters from Chan, she had never let him read them. With that thought, the feeling of betrayal came back. He calmed his body and reined in his mind, trying to keep the ache from his chest.
He was not successful. So that day he made his camp early in a wooded thicket. He tied his horse to a branch and built himself a fire. He cooked some dried beans in a small can with water from the spring. He lay down to go to sleep, his hands clenched tight as water leaked from his shut eyes.
It was before dusk that he heard the ruckus. Loud shouts and a rumbling ground. He was instantly awake and moved about quickly. He packed his bed cloth and can, then stowed the bag of beans away. He mounted his horse and began to trot from the thicket. From the noise he heard, there were a lot of horseman coming this way.
He burst from the thicket, on the far side from where the horsemen were approaching. He went into a gallop, searching for a large hill he could hide behind and observe the people. He was curious what horsemen were doing in Hyrule, seeing as how the crown had no cavalry and the villas no organized riders. He rounded the hill and dismounted. Climbing the mound he reached its zenith. He peered over and watched from a distance as close to a hundred riders gathered around the small thicket. He heard shouts and saw them in the waning light. They seemed to be mobbing about the thicket.
Somehow in that chaos of people things were getting done. He saw several dozen pack-horses. He watched quietly as picket lines went-up for the horses that surrounded their growing campsite. Numerous tents went-up as well, small affairs that looked like they each held three people. An odder thing he noticed were there were women among the men, each with a sword at their hip and a quiver across their back.
When the sun had finally set they were gathered around their campsites, some loud guffaws were heard. Mostly there was quiet talk. Until he saw one of them roll three barrels amongst the people. The excitement exploded as the barrels were opened and everyone, women included, dipped their earthen mugs into the dark brew. They were getting drunk.
At this point Link decided he had watched enough. He stood from his vantage point and made his way down the hill towards his mount. What he did not realize was in that moment he had stood, one of the campers had spotted him. It was as he was trotting away he heard the fast beats of their horses. He tensed and heeled his horse forward. It took off quickly, its hooves thundering the ground and kicking up dirt. He had distance. He could out-pace them. At least, he thought that until he saw how quickly they were gaining on him. Their horses looked no different than his own, but they moved twice as fast.
In minutes they over took him, their yells calling for him to stop. Link did not. It looked to be that there were ten of them. He could still get away. He glanced to his right and saw a man throw a rope around his steed's neck. He glanced to the left quickly and saw two more men readying ropes that twirled in the air. He quickly guessed who the third man was going to rope. Link let go of the reins as the other two men threw their ropes. One went around his horse's neck, the other around Link.
Link then drew is massive sword and cut that rope like paper. In the same movement he also severed the strap to his saddle. There were three men on horseback behind him as he and the saddle slid from the mount. One man dodged away as he hit the ground and rolled. One leaped over him, but the third man's horse was tripped up by his saddle. Link watched as the horse and rider went down. The rider cursed, his hands in the air to embrace the ground. They rolled twice. Link heard bone crack, wondering if it was the horse's or the man's. He did not wait to see. He ran as fast as he could away from the scene.
He heard angry shouts and the whinnying of horses. From the sounds, seven were coming for him. His only chance was to unhorse one of the men and take his mount. He made a decision to not kill the men.
He spun around sheathing his greatsword and drawing and nocking an arrow. He saw the men and their angry scowls as they approached him fast. Saw their ropes being whirled above their heads. He would not be caught by those. He aimed at one of the men in the back and let the arrow fly. He drew his short sword and cut-through the ropes as they were thrown at him. He dodged to the left and rolled as the party galloped by, and then leaped forward in a single-bound, catching the horse and rider he had shot. He threw the man from the saddle and tried to get into a sitting position.
That's when he heard the twangs of bows. He threw himself off the horse and snatched two of the arrows before they struck him. He backflipped thrice to level out the momentum from the galloping horse. He snapped the arrows and drew his greatsword once more. He may have to kill them. Within seconds he was surrounded by the men ten meters away. All six of them had trained arrows on him. He wasn't worried.
"Kill'em!" Shouted one.
"Ah'right then! Sonny-bob, it’s been fun."
Link tensed, at the ready. This would be close. The men released their arrows with a resounding of twangs.
Link's form blurred to their eyes as his massive sword glinted in the light, slicing and knocking three of the arrows away. The last three he dodged. Then he moved and struck out for one of the men, his hands thrusting the sword forward. Then something struck his hand, knocking the thrust askew. He recovered quickly letting his senses dance across the field. Two men were nocking more arrows. The other four were drawing blades. Link knew there was another threat besides these men. A threat that did not want to kill him. That had been a blunted arrow that had struck his hand.
He parried the thrusts of the four men and easily blocked their slashes. He even unhorsed one, but the horse quickly trotted away before he could mount it. The two were waiting for openings to fire their arrows, Link stayed as far away as possible from them. Then he broke from the circle, a mad dash hoping to throw them off again and gain a horse. Two arrows were launched, they missed. Link twirled around to face the men coming at him, a plan in his head. That's when he felt the blunted arrow hit his temple. He saw stars and stumbled falling to the ground, his sword leaving his grip.
Then there bodies all over him, trying to wrestle him down. He thrashed and squirmed, striking out where he could. Yet, it was futile. There were too many hands on his body. Soon his legs were bound and his hands were bound. He was turned onto his stomach and his hands and feet were then tied together. A bit was forced into his mouth and a cloth over his eyes.
He was then dragged across the ground towards their campsite. Link knew he was there when he heard the laughter. His arms and legs ached at being drug across the ground. He was thrown around some more, some even poured beer over him, until he was put by a fire. He heard them pound a stake into the ground. A rope was tied around his neck and then tied to the stake. It was then he noticed his two daggers, his sword, quiver, arrows, and any other possessions he had were now gone. In the struggle they had disarmed him.
The cord tying his feet and arms together was cut, and the bit and clothe removed from his face. What greeted him was an older man, his features grizzled and tanned. He smirked and his breath reeked of beer.
"They trussed you up right good, didn't dey?" He laughed. "'Course, what you did to Donnil was not very nice, now was it? Ah well. Enjoy the sights, if'n ya can't taste'em." He hollered with laughter and walked away. Link breathed out a deep breath and waited and watched. Noting who was drinking the most. They would be the groggiest in the morn.
Some of the women came over to him, smiles and lustful stares. It was something that he was not quite used to.
"I'd truss'em up again and ride him till past!" Exclaimed one. She swayed as she talked.
Her companion just snickered. "You kiddin'! He's a real man. I'd let him use the bit on me just keep my screams down." She eyed Link with unveiled lust.
Link said nothing, only stared back stonily.
"Woman! Don't go eyein' that lil bitch. You sawed what he done to us out there! 'Sides, a man like him couldn't 'preciate ladies likening to ya'll." A stout man waddled over and put his arms clumsily around the ladies necks, a leer in his features.
Then another voice rang in. This was loud and boisterous, filled with banter. "Right Cyless. And once I talk to your wife, we'll see what she thinks of your appreciative ways."
Link heard over a dozen men gurgle their drinks and begin to laugh uproariously. Cyless scowled at first, then burst out laughing. He escorted the two ladies away from Link and over to another fire. Some hours later almost all the revelers were fast asleep. The fires having died out, including Link's own. He wasn't cold, though, nor was he going to sleep anytime soon. The only chance he would get to escape would be in the morning when they packed up and began to leave. They would be tired. He would not be.
It was in these thoughts that he noticed someone, whose face was shadowed, throw two logs into the pit where his fire had raged. He saw a long divided skirt that ended a foot above the ground. He saw boots upon their feet. It was a female. Within ten minutes of her careful ministrations the fire was going again. It was then he saw her face. She had smooth features and striking red hair, which was tied away from her face. In her deep blue eyes he saw the fire reflecting and flickering. Those eyes then regarded him.
Link waited for her to speak, but she said nothing for a long time, her eyes roving over his frame numerous times. Finally, she spoke. "If I untie your arms from behind your back, do you swear you won't try and escape?"
"Why?" He asked.
"I assumed you'd be hungry."
Link did not say a word. A battle raging in his mind. He had already broken one promise, what was another? Yet, he did not want to. He sighed. "I promise."
"Good. By the by, if you do try and escape. Make sure you knock me out."
She walked over to him drawing a small knife from her belt and swiftly cut his bonds. She then waited there a moment, speaking. "Cuz' if you don't, I'll not use blunted arrows again."
She then walked away from the fire. She returned shortly with a cut of meat. It looked cooked. She picked up a stick and stabbed the meat, holding it over the fire. Within minutes it was warmed and she handed it to Link. He grasped it with his gloved hands and began to slowly eat it.
She watched him for a while longer before speaking again. "You won't escape tomorrow morning."
He glanced at her.
"Wondering how I know? I watched you see who had drunk the most. And who had not. It was the same measuring look my papa gives people. You were weighing them like he does."
Link still did not respond.
"So, aren't you going to thank-me?" She smiled sweetly, a twinkle in her eyes.
Link looked away from that smile. It came too close to Zelda's. And with that name the ache in his chest returned. He successfully fought back the tears this time. It was some time before he again glanced her way. A blank face greeted him.
"Thank-you." He finally said.
She did not respond. She only stood-up and walked away. Link looked down at his hands that were unbound. He could leave. He was after all Oathbreaker. It would be nothing new. Though, no matter how he tried, he could not get himself to leave.
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