The Great Desert

By Shadsie & Sailor Lilith-chan

Chapter 5: Dungeons and Dragons, Blood and Bone



Impa Adelaide was the scariest woman in the world – after a week spent under her keeping, that is what Link decided and nothing could change his mind.  He willingly subjected himself to her training and quickly regretted it.  The warrior-woman tested his strength, his agility and his mind in ways he could not have foreseen. She started by confiscating his weapons.  Some of her methods did not quite make sense to him, frankly. 


One afternoon, she tied him to a large tractor tire and made him drag it around town.  She used a light horsewhip as “motivation.”  Another day, she had him climb and jump around the red sandstone formations on the northeast end of town.  She made him leap between the rooftops of Old Kakariko’s buildings.  He hit some weak boards and fell through the old saloon, long out of business.  As part of the training, she kept him awake for three days straight, all while assigning him various tasks requiring physical and mental exertion to test his sharpness and personal discipline.  When she found that she could not break him, she dismissed him for a day of rest. 


After that, she invited him to her home, where she gave him back his gun and sword and showed him the walls of her private study.  They were covered in weapons.  Link had never seen so many swords before – and so many different types.  There were guns, mostly of the handheld variety, though a pair of rifles hung on one wall.  There were daggers and small weapons meant to be thrown.  There were battleaxes, all of a light make.  Link pointed to a very strange looking piece with a sharply curved blade that didn’t look to him like it could be effective as anything but an ornament. 


“Kopesh,” Adelaide replied, “It’s an ancient weapon.  The Gerudo used it thousands of years ago.  You see, the end of it was used to pull down an enemy’s shield and then they’d use it to slash.” 


“Brutal,” Link replied. 


She pulled a very tiny and curious gun off the wall.  Link recognized what it was.  “Derringer,” she said, stroking it, “Single-shot.  Not very powerful, but its power is sufficient for simple self-defense and close-range.  Easy to hide, my kind of gun.  Yours is very good for what you’ll need it to do… a nice, standard revolver, good caliber, good power.  It’s the same make most of the soldiers of the Royal Guard carry and is to be used only in matters of life and death.  If you give someone a non-fatal wound with it, they could still die from blood loss, shock – it’s that powerful.  Know that and use it responsibly.  The sword you brought with you, however, is excellent.  It is quite strong, wonderfully balanced and in excellent condition.” 


“The gun was my late uncle’s.  The sword belonged to my father, who died before I could develop a memory of him.” 


“Hmm.” Adelaide mused.  “That just means it’s even more special, at least to you.  It’s a good, basic arming sword.  I prefer the jian, myself.”


 “I don’t know what the inscription on it says.”


“I had a good look at that,” Adelaide replied.  “It’s Ancient Hylian.  I know a little.  There are gaps, but I could make out ‘Wisdom to decide, courage to act, power to follow-through, grant the wielder these virtues,’ – that seems to be what it says, roughly, if that helps.”


“Thank you,” Link said with a nod.  “It helps a lot. I’ve always wondered about it.”


Impa Adelaide placed a strong hand on the young man’s left shoulder.  “Listen, kid,” she said firmly, “there is a reason I showed you this room.  I’ve found your performance very impressive.  You’ve surprised me a great deal, in fact.  I am about to train you in the proper use of your weapons.  As a reward for your hard work, I will allow you to take one additional weapon from my collection to train with and to keep as your own.”


“Huh? Really?” Link asked, “I mean… I really didn’t expect this.”


“Hey, you’ve earned it.  I am also going to give you a shield.  I want to train you in swordsmanship first and foremost and that kind of sword really does require a shield for proper fighting technique.”


“Wouldn’t training me to become an expert with the gun make a little more sense?  More people use them…including the people who will be hunting me over that stupid bounty.”


“That may be so, boy, but I am an old-fashioned sort.  I am sure you will pick up the art of aiming and a quick trigger-finger through sheer practice, but the sword is important for you to develop a relationship with.  It’s vital, in fact, since you wish to stop the growing tyranny of Cecelia and Ganondorf.  My little Zelda believes with all her heart that you are the destined Hero.  All of this kingdom’s greatest evils have been broken by a legendary blade, the Master Sword.  It is a living blade… it is said to have a spirit and that spirit will not respect someone who does not respect swords.”


“But,” Link began, “I’ve read about that sword! It’s said to change character if there is a need for it to.  Who’s to say it hasn’t become the Master Gun?”


“It wouldn’t,” Adelaide said. 


“Well, all this magic and destiny stuff is new to me.” 


“It will come back to you,” Adelaide said cryptically.  “Now, won’t you choose your additional weapon?”


Link reached up and took an item off the wall.  He fitted it onto his hand and stroked it.  “I’m drawn to this one,” he said, “whatever it does.  It has a big chain wrapped around it, so it must be some kind of chain-weapon.” 


“That is a wise choice,” Adelaide said, beaming, “though it is not a weapon proper.  That is a clawshot.  You use it to grapple onto things such as tree branches and pull yourself up.  It is useful for getting to difficult to reach places.  In a pinch, it can be used to grapple onto or stun an enemy.  It is quite versatile.  Once I show you how to use it, you should enjoy it a great deal. That one is an antique, too.  I took it from the Royal Treasury.  That very piece is said to have once belonged to the Hero of Twilight.”  



The weapons training Adelaide gave Link was just as grueling as the training that had come before.  The woman was swift and light.  She promised Link that she would not kill him, but there were moments when he did not trust that promise.  He spent time shooting at bottles and cans for targets, then at inventive mechanical moving targets that Old Kakariko’s few remaining townspeople built for him.  Most of his training time was spent, however, dodging Adelaide’s jian. 


He sat on the steps of the Temple of the Goddesses at the north end of town one afternoon as Zelda sat beside him and wrapped the wounds on his arms and legs.  He sighed deeply. 


“She says she won’t let me out of this town until I manage to best her.  How can I? The woman’s like a tornado!  And she was your nanny when you were a kid?”


“Yep,” Zelda replied brightly.  “Hold still.  She got you pretty good on your forearm here.  You can say that with her watching over me, I felt very, very safe.”


Link laughed.  “I’m wondering why she doesn’t take on Cecelia and the whole Royal Guard herself.  She probably could.  So, have you found any enlightenment praying at this old shrine?  You’re here almost every day.” 


“It gives me peace,” Zelda answered. “There’s a portion in the back that’s sealed off from the rest.  I’m sure something special rests beyond it, but I do not know the key.  There is an inscription… it’s hard to make out, some of the text has been worn away.  What I can read has to do with three elements and I can make out ‘fire.’  The Goddesses have long been associated with certain elements… the fragments of the Triforce, too.” 


“Well, I pray more to Farore than to either of the others,” Link admitted, looking out over Kakariko’s rooftops to the desert beyond from the steps of the temple on its lofty perch.  He winced as Zelda did a final tightening on his last bandage.  “She’s the one you’re supposed to go to for courage; she’s also associated with life…” 


“And forests,” Zelda said, “though I don’t think either of us have ever seen a true forest… not like the ones in the history books, at least not in this lifetime.” 


“This lifetime?” Link asked.  “People keep bringing that up to me.  You, your Impa… I’ve heard of religion revolving around reincarnation, but the way Adelaide refers to it with me, it seems like something special.” 


“Well,” Zelda sighed, “There is a legend passed down in the Royal Family that many of the bearers of the traditional name – my name – are a series of reincarnations of the same, ancient soul.  I wasn’t sure how much I believed that until recently.  I’ve been having a lot of vivid dreams, even a few waking visions, all of things that seem to come out of other lifetimes.  You’re in most of them, too, Link.  I know, Link, I just know... it all is true.  Also, in the legend passed down by the Royal Family, the Heroes that have saved the land have all been the same person, a single soul given different lifetimes.  In my dreams, Link, I have felt you – I know that it’s you, that you’re that soul.”


“I haven’t had any dreams like that,” Link said.  “If I’m really that old a soul, why don’t I remember anything?” 


“Maybe it’s a blessing,” Zelda said.  “Not all of my visions are happy ones.  You have hard and dangerous work to do in this life, so its best that you remain focused on it, I guess.” 


“I did have one strange vision,” Link confessed.  “It was when we were out in the desert, when I got attacked by the wolf.  I wound up in a misty, empty world, talking to a guy who claimed to be the Hero of Twilight – you know, from the old ‘Twilight Princess’ legend.  He did look quite a bit like me – in the face especially… his hair was cut a little different.  He taught me a few moves with the sword, claimed to be the wolf and told me to watch out for other Heroes.  I don’t what he meant or what he was – a ghost, a hallucination because I bonked my noggin when I hit the ground, or what.” 


“Maybe he was a memory of who you once were,” Zelda proposed.  Maybe the Triforce of Wisdom grants me visions outright.  Perhaps the Triforce of Courage that you carry isn’t so straightforward, but it is unlocking old memories as you need them, enabling you to remember skills you’ve forgotten.” 


“Maybe, but that all seems awfully weird.  It’s almost easier to believe I met a ghost.” 


The sun was setting.  The Hero and the princess watched it together quietly, wondering about deep things like destiny.


“Tell me about the ‘Lost One.” Link asked. “I never heard or read that legend.  Your Impa keeps telling me that she’s training me so tough because she doesn’t want me to become another Lost One.  What is that about?”


“The Lost One,” Zelda began, “That story… is not a commonly told one. People like strong heroes, ones who succeed and achieve.  The Lost One’s tale is rather ignominious, I’m afraid. He was one of the great Heroes, but…”


“What happened?”


“As I remember the story, it’s a bit grisly…”




“Well,” Zelda said sadly, “I haven’t had any visions regarding it, but I know the tale as it was told to me.  There’s also a book on it in the Royal Library, but just the one book, unlike the other legends, which all have several.  The Lost One was a Hero who came from one of the neighboring kingdoms… Calatia, I think.  The great Demon had once again arisen and had taken Hyrule’s throne.  The Lost One heard of this and came to Hyrule’s aid, either through the call of destiny or just because he feared that his own homeland would fall and he had a family to protect.  Back in his era, people married and began having children very young, so it is said that the Lost One had a wife and children already by the time he was seventeen and answered the Hero’s call.


“It is written that he traveled with a cursed Sage… a Sage that had been trapped in the form of a small black cat.  The legend is unclear on the name – ‘Kurone,’ ‘Kakari’.. ‘Kasuto’ – even that one book I found lists her as being called by all those names.  Anyway, the Lost One is so called because he failed.  He died upon the Demon’s sword.  The Demon King had his body laid out on a slab in the middle of the courtyard of the castle, with strict orders not to bury him so that everyone remaining in the area could see plainly that their Hero was dead.  He bled upon the cobblestones and the carrion birds began to feast, taking his beautiful eyes, tearing at his fatal wound, and leaving behind their black feathers. The Sage, still cursed to her feline form, enlisted the aid of a pair of brave Hylian patriots to spirit his body away in the night to a wagon headed back to his homeland, where his family gave him a proper funeral.”


“That’s pretty sad,” Link said with a nod.


“It is,” Zelda agreed.  “As the story was written, one of his sons became the ancestor to the next of the Heroes, the man that united the broken Triforce of Wisdom, rediscovered the lost Triforce of Courage and became the last Hero-King of Hyrule.”  


“If the Lost One was me at some point,” Link decided, “I’m glad that I don’t remember it.”  


“I wrote a letter to our embassy in the Twilight Realm,” Zelda said.  “The postman headed out to the Borderlands Portal with it yesterday.  I do hope he gets there alright.  Hyrule trades with the Realm, but they’ve not been heavily involved in our politics and wars for centuries.  I just asked for a little help, if they are willing to provide it.” 


“The question is: are they more loyal to you or to Cecelia?”


“Emissary Celeste of the Realm always favored my late mother whenever he came to the palace, and I could sense that he held my sister in great suspicion.”


“I hope you’re doing the right thing, princess,” Link said, “but I trust you.”


“We should get back to our rooms at the inn before it gets dark.  Is there anything you’d like to do?”


“I’d like to stop bleeding.” 




“Say mercy!”


A pair of red eyes looked up at him defiantly.  The woman panted.  The tip of Link’s sword was mere centimeters from the end of her nose.  Link was also panting, but not exhausted.  He wasn’t out of breath so much as he was excited.  He felt a strong rushing sensation and his body throbbing with the strong beating of his heart. 


“Say mercy…” he said again.  “I beat you! I beat you fair and square.  Concede defeat!”


Adelaide closed her eyes slowly.  “Defeated,” she whispered.  Her ear caught the sound of Link’s sword being embedded in the earth, shearing off a small chunk of her violet hair as the blade struck next to her head.  As she got up, she started laughing. 


“Very good, boy! Very good!” she praised.  “Absolutely magnificent!” 


Zelda, who was sitting on the front porch of the boarded up General Store, was clapping wildly. 


“You are ready now,” Adelaide said, clapping his shoulder.  “It is time for you to leave this village and seek out the three Pendants of Virtue on the path to the Master Sword.”


Link took his father’s sword out of the ground and put it away.  Zelda came to stand beside him.  Townspeople surrounded the three, but gave them a wide berth.  Link looked to where Adelaide was pointing, to the rock formations north of town, past the Temple of the Goddesses. 


“Beyond the temple,” Impa Adelaide began, “Is the source of Kakariko’s water supply, or at least, it used to be.  When I was a child, water use to flow from that hill right into that dry reservoir and would seep into the wells.  I came back here a year ago and everything was dry.  The people say that the water stopped flowing three years ago.  The wells are almost empty.  The city has died. 


“There was a person who used to be the guardian of the water source.  She was a hermit by the name of Shadow Felix. She is also the keeper of the Bone Temple, a temple up near the summit of the mountain dedicated to honoring and appeasing the spirits of the dead, in particular, beings that have died violent deaths.  It stands as a monument to all of the wars in Hyrule’s bloody history.”


“Is it the Shadow Temple, like in the old stories?” Link asked. 


“Many of us think it is,” Adelaide declared, “but there is no way to be sure, for if it was the Shadow Temple, it has changed.  I saw it once, in more peaceful times.  The façade and pillars are constructed of bones – the bones of beasts, the bones of men – all layered and arranged.  The interior is like a crypt or catacomb.  As I said before, the temple’s purpose is to put to rest the spirits of the forgotten and those whose lives were cut short.”


“Sounds like a happy place,” Link joked. 


“Well, you’re going there,” Adelaide responded.  “You see, the Bone Temple also contains a sacred treasure: one of the Pendants of Virtue.  The temple keeps the Pendant of Courage, which is only fitting for how terrifying a place it is.  You will have to walk through death.  In any case, the keeper of the keys is Shadow Felix.  She has not been seen since the water source dried up and it is feared that something terrible happened to her, and likely, to the Bone Temple.  All that have been sent up to see what might have happened have not returned.  If you are the true Hero, surely you will be able to get to the bottom of our mystery and retrieve the Pendant of Courage.” 


“And if I’m not?” Link asked.


“Well,” said Adelaide, “I imagine that you will be killed.  We assume that is what has happened to everyone else who’s gone up there. Don’t let my princess down, okay?”


Zelda grabbed his arm and shoulder.  “I’m going with him,” she announced.


Adelaide and Link let out a collective “What?”


“I’m going with him, up the hill.  We’ve gone through many dangers thus far and I don’t think he should be alone.”


“I cannot allow this, Princess,” Adelaide commanded, holding her hand out to Zelda.  “It is the holder of the Triforce of Courage who must do the dangerous tasks.  We cannot lose you.  You are still my little Zelda and I will not lose you.”


Zelda separated from Link and stared her Impa down.  “You are not under royal mandate anymore,” she said.  “I’m not going to stand by and be the caged little princess any longer, waiting to be rescued!  I’ll take a bow and a derringer – I know I can manage that!”


“I may not be under royal mandate any longer, but I still feel it my duty to protect you.  You’re staying.”


“I’m going!” 


Rishi, the stable boy who’d been taking care of Rhiannon, spoke up.  “Maybe Link should decide if she goes with him?” 


Link’s shoulders slumped and his face took on a look of defeat.  He looked back and forth between the scariest woman in the world and the beautiful, but almost as scary princess. 


“Well, if she really wants to come with me, I don’t think there’s any stopping her.  If you try, she’ll probably just sneak out after me.  I think I could use a companion.”


“Well, it’s settled then,” Zelda said.  “Impa, fetch your finest bow, now.”





Link and Zelda climbed up the slope of the mountain, over the rock formations that made up the north part of Old Kakariko. 


“You alright?” Link asked as Zelda came up behind him.


“Yeah,” the princess answered breathlessly, “It’s quite a climb.  Hmm… what is that up ahead there? It looks like the mouth of a cave.”


Link looked to where she pointed.  “Yeah, it does. And something is moving…” 


The young man brought out his gun, but it was too late.  His body impacted the ground heavily as a creature was upon him.  He caught sight of another one out of the corner of his eye.  Zelda let her arrows fly, only to have them land upon the ground. 


Link wriggled and tried to get at his sword, all the while filled with panic and confusion.  “How can this be?” he shouted, “They’re dead!  They’re skeletons! How can they be moving around?” 


“Stal-lions?” Zelda yelped. 


A large, cream-white feline skull stared down at Link with glowing cyan spheres in its otherwise empty eye sockets.  It jaw was open.  Suddenly, there was a sound like a stick being banged upon a metal pot and the skeletal lion lifted its bony paw off his chest and took off running toward the cavern.  He was joined by the other. 


Link got up and brushed himself off.  He and Zelda made sure each other were alright.  They looked off to where the skeletons were running.  They saw a woman in a black cloak banging a pot with a wooden spoon.  The bony lions swarmed around her, rubbing their spines on her as though they were overgrown cats.  She petted their bare skulls. 


She looked over at Link and Zelda and shouted, “Going away!”  Then she retreated to the interior of the cave. 


“What was that?” Link exclaimed. 


“I think we may have found Shadow Felix,” Zelda said.  She picked up what arrows off the ground she could find and put them back into her quiver.  “Impa Adelaide didn’t say anything about her having pets or guardians.” 


“What were those things?” Link asked, as Zelda seemed like she knew somehow.


“Stal-lions,” she answered, “I think. Monsters that are skeletal tend to be known by the prefix ‘stal.’ I’ve sure you’ve read of stalfos.”


“Uh huh,” Link nodded.  “And stalhounds… but I didn’t think they really existed.  I thought that was one of those exaggerations in the stories.  I’ve never heard of any stal-lions.”    


“I haven’t either,” Zelda confessed.  “It’s my best guess.”


“I’m believing more of the impossible everyday,” Link said.  “Come on.  If that woman is Shadow Felix, we definitely need to talk with her.”


Link walked right up to the mouth of the large cave, Zelda behind him.  They were greeted by the tense forms of the two stal-lions before they heard a shout.


“Lan, Ba, come inside here.”


The creatures retreated into the cave to sit beside a cloaked figure that was hunched over a writing desk.  The interior of the cavern looked like a cozy little home, furnished with a small fireplace, a few chairs, a simple bed of blankets, lanterns hanging from the stalactites, a modest table, a camp-stove and the writing desk.  Hanging upon one wall of the cave was the enormous skull that looked like it belonged to a dragon out of myth, decorated in paint and colorful feathers. 


“I thought I said to go away,” the figure groused. 


“Are…” Link began, “Are you Shadow Felix?”


“Who wants to know?” the figure said, looking up, removing the hood of her cloak from her head.  The woman was a very light blonde with a few streaks of gray in her hair. Her eyes had a haunted look, set within high cheekbones. She did not look elderly, yet she did not look young.  She looked like she was older than her years, perhaps outside of time somehow. 


“I’m L-Link.  This is Zelda.  We’ve come from Kakariko Village.  We heard that you were the keeper of the Bone Temple and the town’s water source, which has dried up.  Everyone down in town is wondering what happened to you.”


“Like they care,” the woman groused.  “Yes, I am Shadow Felix.  As long as you’re here, I might as well make you some tea.”  She fired up the propane camp stove and put on a small kettle.  She beckoned Link and Zelda to sit at her table and she served them politely, her stal-lions sitting on either side of her. 


“These are Lan and Ba,” she said, “Don’t mind them.  They’re just my guardians.  Better friends than humans, I say.  They may be frightening in appearance, but they follow my orders and are as gentle as lambs unless I command them to be otherwise.”


“Good…kitty?” Link said as he cautiously petted one of the skeletal beasts atop the skull. 


“Yes, they are magic creatures,” Shadow Felix explained, “reanimated from the dead.  I could not let my poor pet lions go, I’m afraid, so I cast a spell to keep them with me forever.”


“Why have you allowed the water source to dry up?” Zelda asked. 


Shadow Felix set her teacup down.  “The water source dried up when the temple went bad,” she said.  “The Bone Temple is a place for distressed spirits to find rest.  Something has gone wrong in the land.  Monsters have risen up, and they’ve taken over the temple, tainted it… The dead are not at rest.  A terrible beast awoke in deepest chamber of the temple three years ago.  I attempted, myself, to destroy it and I barely escaped.  I sealed up the chamber and every chamber leading to and out, and I hid the keys in dangerous places within the temple.”


“What manner of beast was it?”  Zelda inquired.


“The Shadow Gleeok,” the hermit answered, “It is a kind of dragon with many heads. It moves like a shadow without substance.  I know not whether it is flesh and blood or the manifestation of the collective hatred of many angered souls. It is very powerful.  There is only one weapon that can injure it.”


“I’ve got a gun, and my father’s sword, and Zelda’s got her arrows and… another kind of gun,” Link said brightly.


“No, no, no!” Shadow Felix said, standing up and wringing her hands. She went to the back of the cavern and brought something out from under a blanket.  Link stared at it.  The hermit held up a very long, very broad sword with two hands.  Aside from its impressive size, Link marveled at another aspect of the blade.  It was not made of steel, or iron, or any other metal.  It looked like it was polished ivory. 


“The Blade of Bone,” Shadow Felix said.  “This is a sacred treasure of the Bone Temple, entrusted to my keeping.  I was able to wound the Shadow Gleeok with it those three years ago, but I was not strong enough to destroy it.  It’s said to be made from the bones of the ancient dragon, Volvagia itself.  Only a dragon can defeat the dragon, only what is dead can quiet the dead.  You two may take this blade if you think you can restore my temple, but others have tried.  There is a teleportation spell on this treasure.  If its wielder is killed, it will appear back inside my cave.   I’ve had it reappear to me seven times already.” 


“The people left in Old Kakariko have no place left to go.  There water supply is drying up.  They need our help,” Zelda said. 


“Well, I’m supposed to go get that Pendant of Courage your Impa said was in the Bone Temple, right?  I’ll take the blade.” 


Shadow Felix carried the Blade of Bone and lead Link and Zelda outside.  She pointed to a narrow trail leading further up the dusty mountainside.  “The Bone Temple is up there,” she said.  “Its front is made from the remains of the dead.  You cannot miss it.” 


The hermit handed Link the ivory blade.  “When you do not wish to carry it in your hands,” she said, “there is something you can do with it.  Just tap it right here, where the hilt joins the blade.”  She tapped it and the sword suddenly shrank to a tiny size, the size of a small charm or pendant.  “There you go!” she said.  “You can put it in your pocket.  When you want to wield it, just bring it out, give it a little squeeze and it will pop right back to normal.” 


“Every day these days,” Link began, “I have to remind myself that I’m not in some sort of weird dream.” 


Shadow Felix patted him on the shoulder.  “Magic is largely hidden these days.  Open your eyes and you’ll see more of it.”  


After touching him, she stopped and stared at him strangely.  “I sense something from you,” she said. 


“He is this era’s Hero,” Zelda chimed in.


“Is he now….” Shadow Felix said.  Quite rudely, she grabbed Link’s left glove right off his hand.  She stared at the mark on the back of it, mesmerized. “You are,” she said, “which means that I can trust this task to you.  Take my blade.  Take it wherever you need to go.”


“Can I have my glove back?” Link asked.  She handed it back to him and looked down.  Lan and Ba, who sat by her sides, also looked down.  The trio looked very meditative. 


“Clear the temple,” Shadow Felix said slowly, “and the dead will be at peace.” 


Suddenly, the two stal-lions collapsed into two heaps of bones and Shadow Felix’s robe fell.  Link stepped cautiously toward the robe.  Staring up at him was a skull with long blond hairs clinging to the scalp.  “She was…” he began.


“She was dead,” Zelda said.  “A ghost.”


Without warning, the remains of both the woman and the lions vanished completely. 


“Link,” Zelda said, taking him by the arm, “I don’t think she escaped the Shadow Gleeok.” 


“Come on,” Link answered.  “We have a last request to fulfill.”   



End Chapter 5.


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