There are a lot of common misconceptions people have about Hyrule and her inhabitants. I’d like to clear a few of those up. The first is that we only worship three goddesses. While it’s true that Din, Nayru, and Farore are our primary deities and the basic foundation of our religion, there are dozens of other, minor gods and goddesses. I should know. My mother is one.
The second thing I’d like to clear up is the notion that there are only two kinds of creatures in Hyrule; Hylians and assorted demonoids. That’s just not true. Aside from the five categories of native Hylians, and assorted monsters, scores of other creatures frequent Hyrule, from the warrior race of Risans, to the peaceful Human poets.
Related to that is the third misconception, one that is very close to my heart. Many people believe that all demons are evil. Nothing could be further from the truth. You’ll understand that later.
Finally, I’d like to address the gross falsehoods regarding the Hylian obsession with Time. Yes, it’s true, we have our Hero of Time, our Ocarina of Time, our
, but that doesn’t mean we can just manipulate Time on a whim. No, such an act requires the most dire of situations. And that’s exactly what this was… Templeof Time
The Lost Testimony of
In its day, the Dancing Knight had been more than a tavern. Indeed, it had been the place to be. Night after night, it would fill to capacity with various citizens of Hyrule, travelers, and entertainers. It was opened by four Hylian girls, each of them beautiful and charismatic. Together, they had gained fame and worldwide recognition for their little watering hole and eventually, all but one met their future husbands within the walls of the bar.
That had been centuries ago. In the passage of time, the Dancing Knight had changed somewhat. After the death of the original four owners, it had been converted into a bed and breakfast. That endeavor proved a dismal failure and the building was put up to auction. It passed through various hands, all the while the foundation becoming weaker and the floors growing dustier. Eventually, the final owner walked out, never looking back.
For nearly fifty years now, the Dancing Knight stood vacant, a lonely pile of wood standing as testimony to the once brilliant and lively place. Stories arose that it was haunted in fact, that the ghosts of the owners and their patrons still remained in the great cantina, bemoaning the fate that had befallen their social home of so many years. No one dared to enter. Not until tonight.
From the skylight, broken and beyond repair from years of neglect, a single figure dropped down into the lonely tavern. She landed on the floor, crouching with her arms out for balance. A swirl of dust arose around her, dancing in the pale moonlight which flooded in from the large hole in the ceiling. For a moment, she was motionless before silently turning her head from side to side to watch the ethereal dance with her calm, gray eyes. With great care, she rose to her feet and began to walk the expanse of the room.
Ariadne was one of the few beings in all of creation who dared to peek into the shadows. She walked along the periphery of the room, her chin raised at a slightly higher angle than normal, peering into every corner of the room. Glancing up, she beheld the large, awkward rafters stretching across the ceiling. One of the rafters had half fallen off, an end of it firmly planted on the ground. Looking down, she noted the glossy footprints her steps left behind in the dust, so thick that it cushioned her tread, making her virtually silent.
She strained her ears, listening for a sound, any sound that might suggest the presence of another in the room. The silence bore into her, leaving her chest an empty, hollow pit. Loneliness played on her skin, giving her a creeping sensation that was anything but pleasant. As she turned in circles, she finally allowed herself to exhale, feeling certain that the room was empty.
Secure in this knowledge, she allowed herself, for the briefest of moments, to admire the room itself. There was nothing soft about the tavern. Everything fabric seemed to have melted away in the years of neglect. What remained were the hard surfaces; a long mahogany bar with glass over the top stretched against the back wall, just in front of rotted, door-less entryway which led into a small supply closet, several low rectangular tables meant to be kneeled at, a few high round tables, and dozens upon dozens of wooden sitting stools.
The supply closet seemed promising. Ariadne crossed the room silently, gracefully leaping up on top of the counter. Crouching on the glass surface, she leaned forward on her palms, looking into the dark alcove. Inside, she saw rows and rows of glass bottles, most of them empty. The few that still contained traces of liquid were sealed with wax around the corks. Beneath the shelves hosting the bottles were several piles of books and a few misshapen packing crates.
Effortlessly, Ariadne leapt off the counter and gilded into the dark room. She stood over the crates and at random chose on to try and pry open. The rotten wood gave way easily and Ariadne looked inside. She was greeted by the image of a gray-eyed girl with a long brown braid falling over her shoulder, her own reflection. The crate contained several misshapen lumps, wrapped in reflective paper. Carefully, she selected one and began to unwrap it. Underneath the shiny silver paper was an exquisite gold comb with a coral lily on top. Interwoven with the teeth of the comb were several delicate green hairs.
Quickly, she replaced the comb in the paper and put the package away. Immediately, she turned around and took a running start, leaping clean over the counter and landing in a squat on the other side, another tornado of dust flying up all around her. She rose gracefully, facing the door and whispered softly, “Clear.” At once, the door was kicked in.
Three figures charged full throttle into the room, shadowed almost entirely in the dust that flew up from the impact of the door. They stopped immediately, falling into a fit of coughing. “Was that really necessary, Tranns?” the first figure asked, a large burly man with blood red hair.
“Sorry,” the second replied, an Amazonian woman. Tranns clutched a pair of silver daggers in her fists, turning in a slow circle in a fruitless attempt to see through the dust into the room.
The third figure resigned herself to waving away the dust. She pulled the soft pink folds of her hood close around her face and mumbled a few inaudible words. At once, the cloud settled, allowing the moonlight to hit the three of them. “This is the place?” the man muttered, examining the scene with calculating blue eyes.
“Exactly as Zelda said it would be,” the cloaked girl responded.
“Well, she’s no liar,” Tranns retorted.
“It’s a fixer upper, but it’ll work,” the other girl replied.
Tranns looked at the man. “Shall we call the others in, Phil?”
He nodded slowly. Tranns scampered back out of the door and Philip turned to his other companion. “Mia,” he said gruffly, “I want you and Adriana to establish some sort of magical barrier once everyone is inside.”
“All right,” Mia submitted.
Philip glanced over his shoulder at Ariadne. “Good work.” Ariadne nodded and silently leapt up, jumping to the level of the rafters. She grabbed one of them with her fingernails and swung her body on top of it. Once she regained her balance, she sprawled comfortably across it, letting one arm dangle down.
“What dump!” came an exclamation from the door. Tranns led in three more individuals, the first of which, a slender red headed girl, had spoken.
“Don’t be shy, Ana,” Tranns chided her, turning around to walk backward. “Tell us how you really feel about it.”
“It’s filthy!” Adriana declared with a snort of disgust.
“It’s a hideout,” Philip said, turning on her with a long suffering sigh. “It’s not supposed to be a luxury hotel.”
“We’ll see about that,” she declared. With a casual gesture, five yellow sparks of ether shot out from her fingertips, flying in different directions around the room. The dust vanished, leaving behind a beautifully polished wood floor.
“Ana’s got her priorities,” Tranns laughed, sitting down on one of the bar stools and propping her elbow on the counter.
“This establishment must have been a handsome place in its time,” the boy who entered behind Adriana muttered. Ariadne smirked. This was vintage
. He was a clean cut, but somewhat handsome young man with a commanding presence, although not exceptionally tall, a tow head. As he strolled into the room, authority in each of his steps, he turned from side to side to admire the locale. His eyes matched those of Tranns, electric emerald green. The two of them shared a father, although everything else about them couldn’t have been more distinct. Aden
, another boy entered, silently bending over to prop up the door that Tranns had kicked in. Mia looked over at him. “Where’s Sito?” she asked. The last boy finished leaning the door against the frame, then turned to her with an exaggerated shrug, holding his hands out to either side. Aden
“He wandered off,”
Philip turned to them in a flash. “Again?” he exclaimed incredulously.
Mia sighed, shaking her head. “You know Sito.”
“He’s a great solution if you don’t make him your problem,” Tranns scoffed.
Mia clasped her hands in front of her chest, turning to Philip. “Please don’t be upset with him.”
The boy by the door fished a pad of paper out of his pocket. He removed a pencil that had been propped over his ear, hidden under a mass of chocolate brown hair, and scribbled something on the pad. After he was finished, he walked over to the nearest person, Ana, and tugged on the sleeve of her elaborate pink toga. “What is it, Jesse?” she asked, turning to face him. He handed her the pad.
“What is it, Ana?” Philip mumbled.
“Jesse says, ‘He’ll come back, he always does.’”
Mia lowered her hood, exposing her head to the rest of the assembly. “I’m sure he’s just gone off looking for supplies.”
“I ordered him to stay put, with the rest of you,” Philip said irritably.
“You know Sito,” Mia shrugged.
“Unfortunately, we all do,” Ana retorted.
Philip shook his head. “Fan out, search for any provisions,” he barked to the group. Immediately, Tranns,
, Mia, and Jesse scattered in various directions. Ana stubbornly remained where she was. She had discovered a mirror hanging on the wall. It was cracked and much of the silver had been worn away, but enough of it remained for her to busy herself with the folds of her dress. Ignoring her, Philip turned up to look at Ariadne in the rafters. “Airy? When would you say was the last time that someone came in here?” Aden
“No less than forty eight years ago,” she replied.
“Good odds.” By that point, Jesse had returned to the middle of the room, empty handed. “Nothing?” Philip asked. Jesse shook his head.
called from a corner of the room. Aden
“There’s a whole box of silverware here.”
“Wonderful,” Ana deadpanned. “If we get attacked by we can serve them lunch. ‘Tea and crumpets, you fiend?’”
Philip shook his head. “Knives, Ana. Knives.”
Mia flounced back into the room from the small closet she had disappeared to, hidden underneath the stairs. She wore a very satisfied smirk and carried in her arms a bucket of soaps and shampoos and perfumes. From the other side of the room, Ana saw this in the mirror and let out a loud shriek, dashing across the floor to Mia and grabbing the bucket out of her hands. “Shampoo!” she cried in ecstasy. “I can stop smelling like a Moblin, finally!”
“I don’t know, Ana,” Tranns said, coming out from the supply room behind the bar, “you’ve always smelled a bit like a Goron to me.”
Adriana shifted the bucket so that it was in between her elbows. Squeezing them together, she held her hands out into two fists which she soundly banged together with a glare at Tranns before promptly turning around and walking back to the mirror.
Tranns rolled her eyes. “Bad news, Phil,” she said.
“What is it?” he turned to address her.
From behind her back, Tranns produced the comb in one hand and a lock of bright lavender hair in the other hand. “Andorian Demons have been staying here,” she said evenly. There’s a whole box and there are bits of pastel hair everywhere.”
“Is there a lot of hair?” Mia asked.
“Not enough to be worth anything,” Tranns replied.
“Personally, I think the black-market Andorian Demon hair sellers are disgusting,” Ana said firmly. “Really? Who’d want to buy an ugly old demon’s hair? They can’t possibly make decent wigs. Who’d want to walk around with pastel hair?”
“The hair isn’t for wearing, Ana,” Mia corrected her. “Andorian Demons derive their magic from their hair. It’s quite powerful and very useful for spells and the like.”
“Do you think they’ll be back?” Philip wondered.
“No,” Ariadne called from above. “Andorians don’t return to old nesting grounds.”
“One less thing to worry about,” Mia said with relief.
Philip was looking around at the group. “Has anyone found any food?” he asked finally. They all exchanged blank looks with one another. “One more thing to worry about,” he sighed.
“As if the list isn’t long enough,” Tranns groaned. She began ticking off on her fingers, “Sito’s field trips, Moblins, Gerudo raids, and now starvation.”
“The Gerudos shouldn’t be much of a problem,” Ana sang. “One look at Phil and they’ll all go scampering.”
“Adriana…” Philip let out a low grumble.
“What?” she shot back. “You think they wouldn’t recognize one of their own, Dragmire?”
“Don’t call me that!” Philip roared.
“Ah, the love of a brother and sister,” Tranns said casually, diffusing the situation before it could get out of hand as it so often did.
“Half brother and half sister,” Ana mumbled.
“Something of which we have entirely too many,”
mused. “Tranns and I are half siblings, you and Philip are half siblings, Mia, Jesse, and Sito are all half siblings. We are certainly the incestuous group.” Aden
Ana stared at him. “That’s disgusting,
“I didn’t mean it literally.”
“All right, all right, enough of this,” Philip declared. “Remember Zelda’s instructions? She told us when we arrived we were supposed to barricade ourselves inside and use the crystal. Mia, Ana, put up a force field.”
“But what about Sito?” Mia asked.
“He decided to wander off.” He gave them a no nonsense nod which meant they ought to obey. Sadly, Mia walked over to Adriana and the two of them began a chant that would establish a barrier. Philip turned and caught Jesse’s eyes. Jesse looked forlorn, although he stood stoic as ever. “When he arrives, we’ll let him in,” Philip assured his companion. Jesse nodded.
“The barrier’s up,” Ana said needlessly, as an eerie green light was now seeping in through the dilapidated windows.
Holding Philip’s navy cloak to his shoulders was an elaborate silver pin with eight tiny blue gems circling halfway around an enormous blue stone. Philip gripped the largest jewel with two fingers and carefully twisted it. With a click, it came free of the silver setting. “Gather around children,”
beckoned. “It’s story time.” With that, he walked over to the bar and leaned against it, resting one arm on the counter behind Tranns. Adriana and Mia joined Jesse across from the counter. In the middle of the group, Philip placed the crystal on the floor and stood back a step. Aden
There was a moment of breathless silence as the seven youngsters stared at the stone. Finally, after a nano-eternity, a light began to glow from the depths of the crystal. It grew in intensity until a column of light could clearly be seen, shooting its way up. The beacon began to shift, taking on the form of a woman in regal garb. “Auntie,” Tranns whispered, brushing some stray orange fringe out of her eyes. Behind her,
put a hand on her shoulder. Aden
“She looks so different,” Mia muttered. “Zelda must have recorded this before the invasion began.”
“Shhh!” Ana hissed at her.
At this point, the holographic image of Zelda had begun speaking. “Guardians,” she said with a firm voice, “if you are watching this, then you must have arrived in the past. If our magic was accurate, you’re now twenty years before the present time.”
“The year Sito was born,” Mia thought aloud.
“A year before Ariadne was born,”
added, jerking his head up in Ariadne’s direction. Aden
The image continued to speak. “I know what this means. This means that the rebellion is standing on its last legs. The Red Dragon has completely conquered the realm and if you are listening to this message, he has conquered Hyrule too.”
“You can say that again,” Mia sighed sadly.
“You are the last hope for our rebellion,” Zelda went on. “The only way to save Hyrule now is to stop the Red Dragon from rising to power in the first place. To do that, you need to find the Red Dragon before he became the Red Dragon.”
“How are we supposed to do that?” Tranns blurted out loudly. Everyone turned on her, chorusing angry hisses to be quiet.
“Of course, if you succeed, our timeline will cease to exist and you’ll be unable to return home. But I know your hearts and that you’ll think first of the greater good. I wish you luck Guardians, as we’ll never see each other again, know that I love each and every one of you as my own child and I pray you’ll find the way. May the Triforce protect you.”
The image faded away, retreating back into the blue crystal on the floor. “Sweet Nayru,” Mia whispered.
Philip crossed to the gem and picked it up, replacing it in the setting of his pin. “We have our orders,” he said gruffly.
There was a painful cracking noise as Link’s head went through the wall. For a moment his vision went fuzzy and the only sense that seemed to be operating was his auditory sense. He could very clearly hear the chortling and cheering of the crowd in the room behind him. That was only temporary and rather quickly another sense began to establish itself. Pain.
This was not how Link had intended to end his day, a day that had started out so well. For a treat, he left the Kokiri forest bright and early that morning. After passing by
for a brisk swim, he had paid a call on Zelda. The two of them spent an entire morning together before she had to leave on official business. From there, Link had taken a trip down to Lake Hylia for a relaxing, meditative boat ride around the peninsula. Zora Harbor
The afternoon was devoted to fun and games. He met up with
, a friend of his, a Human studying at one of the local conservatories, and together the two of them had gone down to the marketplace to watch a local band of players perform a comedy in three acts. The sun was down by the time the farce had ended, so Link and Tulsa stepped into the nearest establishment, the Boar’s Head, for a quick bite to eat. Tulsa
Somehow, their quick bite hadn’t gone quite according to plan. Link pulled his head out of the wall, blinking away the clouds from his eyes. He turned around quickly, stumbling with dizziness. By some blessing of Nayru, Link managed to regain his footing just in time to duck a fierce, albeit sloppy, left hook. The bully who had been aiming at him missed by a mile, soundly landing his fist into the wall which cracked, being made of little more than whitewash and plywood.
Across the room, another one of the thugs lunged at
. Deftly, he avoided the blow, causing the fool to land face first on the floor. “This is ridiculous!” Tulsa shouted, “Just because I disagree with you, doesn’t make me an anarch!” Tulsa
He backed up a step and crashed right into the leader of the pack, a local ruffian known as Grisha. The hulking mass of muscle wrapped his arms around
’s slender shoulders, squeezing him so hard that a vein seemed to pop out of the brute’s forehead. “No,” he growled, “But you being a bleeding heart punk makes you an anarch.” Tulsa
Link pulled a plank away from the wall. He charged at Grisha, whacking him in the forehead and effectively released
. “Actually,” he teased his companion who staggered forward, gasping for breath, “I got to agree with him on that one.” Tulsa
rolled his eyes, “Incoming behind you, Hero.” Tulsa
Quickly, Link dropped down to the floor and his opponent from the wall went soaring over him, hitting a table and sending three glasses of colorful liquids up into the crowd on the periphery of the fray. “This is all your fault,” Link said pointedly, pulling
to one side as Grisha made a dive for him. Tulsa
“It’s not my fault,”
replied firmly. “Almost all aggression can be cured with education.” Tulsa
“Yeah?” Link muttered. The two of them came back to back, Link throwing an uppercut to one bully while
kicked another in the shins. “Then how come some of the best educated people in the kingdom serve as knights?” Tulsa
“Knights don’t start bar brawls. Don’t you see?”
responded as the two of them switched places by grasping each other’s forearms and swinging around in a wide arc. “Doesn’t that prove exactly what I’ve been saying for years?” Tulsa
“Couldn’t tell you,” Link rammed his elbow into Grisha’s ample belly. “I do my best not to listen.”
One of the brutes grabbed Link’s head in his meaty hand and started trying to push him down into the floor. Link gritted his teeth. “Don’t…touch…the hat!” he threw his fist up, catching the thug in the jaw. The man stumbled backward, crashing into Grisha who was doubled over behind him. Both of them tumbled to the ground.
, meanwhile, soundly boxed the third bully’s ears and he too collapsed. Grabbing him under the armpits, Tulsa dragged him across the floor, roughly tossing him onto the pile. “There now,” he said, wiping his hands against each other. “If you had just been polite and agreed to disagree, you wouldn’t be writhing on the floor, grasping yourselves in pain.” Tulsa
Link latched his arm out, locking
into a firm headlock. “And if you had just learned to keep your big mouth shut, we wouldn’t be standing on the floor, in equal amounts of pain.” Tulsa
“You know I can’t keep my mouth shut,”
said, wriggling his way free. His long titian blond locks, in complete disarray, flopped over his eyes. Tulsa
“Well,” Link drawled. “I’ll forgive you, this time.”
smoothed back his hair and then clapped Link on the back, directing him over to the bar. Hermes, the barkeep, eyed him wearily. “A freckled lemonade for me and a frog juice for my friend, my good man.” Tulsa
Hermes nodded and busied himself with mixing up the drinks. Link turned to
. “What’s a frog juice?” Tulsa
perched himself on a barstool. “You’ll see.” Tulsa
“If there are real frogs in it, I’ll kill you.”
offered him a good natured chuckle. “Wouldn’t that be something? A drink that actually has its own ingredients in the name. Bizarre.” Tulsa
“Bizarre, like…orange juice?”
grinned. “Link, my friend, you are far too literal.” Tulsa
Hermes set down the two drinks in front of the boys and gruffly muttered, “Ten Rupees.”
“I assume I’m paying for this?”
“You started the fight.”
“I will deny that,”
replied, even as he reached into the pocket of his over-sized gray coat and removed a sum of money. “Here you are, my good man,” he said cheerfully to Hermes, “please keep the change.” Hermes stalked away, muttering something under his breath about the need to repair the hole in the wall made by Link’s head. Tulsa chuckled again then raised his glass. “To anarchy,” he joked. Tulsa
Link laughed softly, lifting his own glass. “To Zelda.”
“Ah, now there’s a fair thing to drink to,”
responded. He clicked their glasses together and then both of the boys threw their heads back to drink. Tulsa finally set his beverage down and turned to Link expectantly. “Well?” Tulsa
Link looked considerate for a moment, smacking his lips together loudly. “It’s good,” he finally proclaimed. “What’s in it?”
“Kiwi juice, apple pulp, and seltzer water.”
“I’ve always liked apples.”
“See? Will I ever steer you wrong?”
“I won’t answer that.”
“It’s probably best that you don’t,”
laughed, hitching his foot up on one of the rungs of the stool he was sitting on. “So how is our fair princess?” Tulsa
Link smiled bashfully. “She’s fine.”
“Very. I must say though, for a person such as yourself, in a position such as the one you inhabit, you tend to attract the attention of many young ladies besides.”
Groaning, Link pulled his cap down, over his eyes. “I don’t want to get into this conversation again.”
chirped, sipping his drink. Tulsa
“How’s Coset?” Link asked, pulling his hat back and propping himself up on his elbows, against the counter.
replaced his drink and dramatically slapped an open palm to his chest. “She is light!” Tulsa
“Yes light. She is light and I am…”
“Flame! I am flame. And where ever she is, I am rekindled.”
“Still haven’t spoken to her?”
“Not a word.”
Link nodded. “Yup, I’ve confirmed it. You’re insane.”
“True enough, true enough,”
grinned. Slowly, his grin faded. “Still, my parents would never approve. She’s a gypsy and they’re…” Tulsa
glanced at him. “Educated,” he corrected Link. Tulsa
“Well I’m not educated and they love me.”
“That’s different. You are a prestigious individual.”
“Is there a vaccine I can take for that?” Link teased.
rambled on, “she has no prestige whatsoever. Perhaps that’s why I like her. That and the fact that she’s…” Tulsa
“Well, you’re lucky she didn’t see that show back there with Grisha.”
“And why’s that?”
“Girls are never impressed by the pacifist stand.”
lofted an eyebrow. “I’m not a pacifist, I just think that violence is best left to the most dire of situations. And I’m not anarch because I think that soldiers are unnecessary.” Tulsa
“What are you?”
“The best scientific minds of Calatia have yet to determine that.”
“I don’t understand this science business,” Link mumbled. “What’s the point of it all?”
answered, “Is that those of us born of a species unskilled with magic require science to evolve and mature and create a better form of life.” Tulsa
“I don’t know,” Link muttered. “The way you Humans complain about your elec…ele…”
“Electricity, it sounds like it’s more trouble than it’s worth.”
There was a loud crash from behind them, followed by a ringing noise.
and Link turned around sharply. To their surprise, Grisha was on the floor, out cold. Standing over him was a young boy in a black leather jacket, holding a ringing tin pint and looking down at Grisha with a satisfied smirk. “What the…” Link started. Tulsa
“Grisha was going to take you gentlemen from behind,” Hermes grumbled from his place at the bar.
touched his forehead and bowed from the waist. “Stranger, we owe you thanks.” Tulsa
“Don’t mention it,” the boy said.
“Hermes, a drink for my friend…”
“A drink for Sito.”
“What’ll you have?” Hermes asked.
“Sun tapas,” Sito replied without hesitation.
“One sun tapas for my new friend Sito,”
chorused merrily. Hermes nodded and went to work. Tulsa , meanwhile, gestured to a barstool. “Join us,” he invited Sito with a warm smile. Tulsa
“Don’t mind if I do,” Sito said, stepping over Grisha to sit beside Link.
“We were just talking about pretty women. Perhaps you have a song to sing? Any pretty girl in your life?” Sito laughed. “Ah ha!”
exclaimed. “He laughs. That means there’s truth in what he speaks!” Tulsa
Sito rubbed the back of his neck, smiling. “Well, there is this one girl…”
Somewhere in the distance, a bell tower mournfully rang out the hour. One chime, two chimes, three, four…four in the morning. The moonlight had more or less vanished from the skylight above the cantina of the Dancing Knight, forcing Philip to move about with the aid of a candle.
Everyone else had retired to the precarious bedrooms above, but Philip walked down the stairs, robbed of sleep. He held the candle close to his eyes, the hot wax dripping down into an old, rusty copper plate. Carefully, he made his way over to the bar, setting the dish on top of the glass. As he leaned forward, he could see his reflection in the countertop; a young, handsome Hylian man with dark red hair hanging in long strands before his pale blue eyes. Earlier that night, he had abandoned the cumbersome navy cape, but he kept the elaborate silver pin attached to the shoulder of his black leather armor.
Something moved in the reflection. “Who’s there?” Philip asked harshly, turning around as if he expected an attack from behind.
“Me,” a voice from above replied.
Philip looked up. Sitting on her knees in the rafters was Ariadne. She had unbound her hair from the perpetual braid and it hung loosely, streaming down her shoulders all the way to her waist and beyond. “Airy,” he said, easing up. “What are you doing down here?”
“Mia was talking in her sleep,” she answered, swinging her legs to hang down from the rafters.
“Again? She must be worried about Sito.”
“What are you doing down here?” Ariadne countered.
“Just getting a drink.”
Ariadne jumped, landing on the ground in a squat. She rose swiftly and walked across the room until she came to Philip’s side. “I thought gods didn’t get thirsty.”
“They don’t,” Philip responded. “But I’m only semi-divine.”
“That’s right, you’re only half god.”
“Ana’s mother and my mother was Kallista, the goddess of beauty.”
“So demi-gods get thirsty?”
Philip struggled against smiling. “Yeah,” he shrugged.
Ariadne sat up on the counter. She had perfect balance. Philip found himself examining her posture, the arc of her back and the way she placed her hands near the base of her spine. She was dressed in a red tunic with gray leggings. Both articles seemed to be made out of a fabric that caught the firelight, shimmering. “What?” she asked, noticing his gaze.
“You’re preoccupied,” Ariadne told him.
“I’m always preoccupied.”
“Tonight more than ever. Are you thinking about our mission?”
“Yeah,” Philip admitted, sitting down on a barstool.
“No one knows how we’re going to accomplish what Zelda has asked of us.”
“That’s putting it lightly.”
“We’ll find a way.”
“We don’t have much of a choice,” Philip muttered dryly. “It’s a horrible reversal though. Before we only had to worry about the Red Dragon killing us. Now we don’t have to worry about the Red Dragon, but we have to worry about everything else under the sun. Everything on Tranns’ list and more. It’s sort of absurd when you think about it. We were safer back home, and yet we weren’t.”
“What Ana said today really upset you,” Ariadne commented.
Philip blinked, glancing up at her. “What?”
“She called you Dragmire after Tranns started the list.”
“Yeah. She did.”
“What did that mean?”
He sighed, leaning back against the counter. “Before the Red Dragon rose to power, there was another bad guy in the realm. He was sort of exclusive to Hyrule, I guess.”
“And his name was Dragmire.”
Philip nodded. “Ganondorf Dragmire. King of the Gerudos. He led a reign of terror for several years before being neutralized. I think, if the Red Dragon hadn’t taken over the realm, Ganondorf might have risen again, that’s how powerful he was.”
“And he was –”
“He was my father,” Philip finished for her. “Not something I’m particularly proud of, mind you. Ana never lets me forget it.”
“Who was her father?”
“A mortal. Our mother had several relationships. She had a reputation for being a bit irresistible. Unfortunately, she happened to catch Ganondorf’s eye.”
“Unfortunate for her perhaps, but fortunate for us. After all, if that hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t have a leader.”
Philip offered her a peculiar glance. “You have a funny way of looking at things, Airy.”
“I can relate. My parents weren’t exactly considered to be the noblest of people.”
“Who were your parents?”
“You wouldn’t know them.”
“What were your parents?”
“Don’t you know?”
He shook his head. “When Zelda added you to our team, she never told me a thing about you; just that you were a loyalist and that you would serve as the best lookout I could ask for. I’ve never asked questions before, but as this might be our last mission, I’m beginning to wonder for the first time.”
Ariadne nodded. Suddenly, her face contorted into a frown. “Your pin.”
She pointed a delicate finger at his shoulder. “It’s glowing.”
Philip looked over at the silver pin on his shoulder. One of the eight small jewels, flanking the large stone was emitting a soft, iridescent light. “It does that. This pin was a gift to me from Zelda, the day she formed the Guardians of Tomorrow. See, there are eight stones, each one representing one of the people I command. They light up to show how close or far away from them I am.”
“So that stone –”
“Is you, yes.” Philip touched the glowing jewel. “This one is lighting up the most because you’re closest to me right now.” He paused for a moment, a frown marring his handsome features. “You still haven’t answered my question.”
“What are you, Ariadne? Human? Risan? Perhaps a Beigoran of some kind? I know you’re not Hylian. What are you?”
Ariadne smiled. “See if you can guess.”
He shook his head, setting a hand on the counter. “You’re a complete mystery to me, Airy.”
“Do you trust me?” she asked.
“Of course I do.”
“Isn’t that all that matters? I’ve been loyal to the team and will continue to be for a long while.”
“I’m not questioning your loyalty to the team,” Philip amended quickly. “I’m just curious.” He felt something brush against his hand. Looking down, he realized that his hand had drifted closer to hers, making a brief moment of contact with her pinky. He saw her look down too and then quickly, he removed his hand from the bar.
A heavy silence pervaded the air for a moment before Ariadne spoke again. “I’m unique,” she whispered.
“There is absolutely no question about that,” Philip replied.
“If you want the answer to your question,” she said slowly, “you have only to look into my eyes.” Philip stood up. With heavy footsteps, he walked around his stool and came to face Ariadne. Her soft gray eyes regarded him and he attempted to discern her features. “What do you see?” she asked.
He caught her eyes. “Ariadne.” She leaned over, across the counter, and picked up the comb, which Tranns had tossed there haphazardly, many hours ago. “I think I understand,” Philip said after awhile, still unable to break eye contact with her.
“How it must bother you when people pry about you.”
“You’re not people,” she replied. “You’re Philip.”
He gave her one of his all-too-rare smiles. “Call me Phil,” he joked.
“Well, Phil, it’s going to be sunrise soon, so I suggest you get some sleep. We’re going to need our leader tomorrow.”
“You’re right, as always.” Clouds slowly started to darken Philip’s eyes and his smile began to fade, although a measure of it seemed to linger on his lips as he faced Ariadne. “Everyone’s going to expect me to have the answers to how we can stop the Red Dragon from rising.”
“There will be an answer,” Ariadne assured him.
“The question is whether or not I can find it.”
“Well,” she supplied thoughtfully, “maybe it’ll find you.”
She leaned forward a little bit. “Goodnight, Phil.”
Philip watched her, the final traces of his smile remaining a moment more. Tenderly, he reached forward with two fingers and brushed a stray lock of hair out of her eyes. “Goodnight, Airy.” With that, he picked up his candle and began to ascend up the stairs again. At the top step, he turned around, looking down into the darkened room. Looking back up at him were Ariadne’s glowing eyes. Somehow, they seemed to soothe him in a way he could not yet understand.
The time portal collapsed in on itself, creating an obnoxious sucking noise that filled the field, shattering the morning silence. War glanced over his shoulder at the empty space, which only a few seconds earlier had been the site of the mouth of a swirling vortex. Amorette was standing there now, silhouetted against the golden light of the sunrise.
“Is this the place, Master?” she asked, looking up at him from under her auburn bangs.
War removed the cumbersome helmet from his head and tucked it under his arm, stroking his chin thoughtfully. “Yes Amorette, this is the place. But is it the time? That’s the real question.” Without another word, he began to move up a small hill in front of them. War never walked when he could levitate, so he crept up the landscape with his feet hanging eerily an inch or so off the ground.
Amorette trotted after him, the sword in her belt slapping against her thigh. “How will we know?” she called after him.
“I’ll know,” War explained, “when I see.”
He reached the top of the hill now and found himself looking down on a village. “We’re in the proper time,” he said slowly, his voice gravelly and blunt.
Amorette came to rest by his side. She looked down into the valley. There, below, was a quiet little town, somewhat quaint actually. The truth was that she had never seen the likes of it before. There were dozens upon dozens of little thatched rooftops, most of them brown or yellow or red. The cozy houses were all made of a white stucco material and each had several rectangular shaped windows with bright and colorful silk drapes. In the middle of the town was a beautiful marble fountain, a statue of the goddess Kallista holding a rose. Water spurted out from the frozen, marble petals, dripping down into the ornate pool below, filled with blue and green Rupees.
Behind the fountain was a large wooden building with enormous double doors, currently closed, although there was a long woven cord hanging right outside, attached to a bronze bell. The largest central spire of the structure shot up into the sky, tipped off with a shining gold replica of the Triforce. An enormous rose window, constructed of red, blue, and green glass pieces faced out, the first rays of the sun glinting off of the gold tracery in between the shards. Beyond the temple was an open field, emerald green and dotted with little yellow dandelions.
“There,” War said, pointing to the shimmering window.
Amorette followed his gaze. “What?”
“The temple with the stained glass window, over there.”
“I see it.”
“That window was called the Essence of the Virtues. Over three hundred years old. They say it was constructed under the commission of the very first queen of Hyrule.”
“Queen Dasha Harkin,” Amorette chirped without missing a beat.
War smiled, nodding his head. “Very good, Amorette. Before the Red Dragon left Hyrule to conquer the realm, he smashed that window to smithereens and it was never repaired.”
“So then we’ve come back to the right time?”
Amorette squinted, trying to make out the shapes in the Essence of the Virtues window. After a few moments of staring, she saw an image appear out of the light. The window displayed yet another icon of the goddess Kallista, surrounded by the familiars of Din, Nayru, and Farore. “That’s a
?” templeof Kallista
“Yes,” War grunted. “It burned down a few years after you were born, Amorette. You shouldn’t remember it.”
He glanced at her. “What do you remember of Hyrule?”
She shook her head. “Nothing.”
War nodded, folding his arms across his chest. “Well, you’ll learn quickly. For now, we must put our attention to other matters.”
“Yes, the Guardians. Zelda made a rather horrible error, using the ocarina to send them here. Our pretty little princess didn’t count on the Red Dragon’s powers: Didn’t think he’d be able to send us after her pets.”
“Why has she sent the Guardians to this time?”
“No doubt out of desperation,” War muttered. He glanced at Amorette for a moment before looking down at the town again. “She knows Hyrule is doomed. Her last attempt to halt the Red Dragon is to stop his initial rise to power.” He lowered an iron clad hand down on top of Amorette’s head, his fingers spread out. With surprising gentleness, he stroked her hair. “We’ll throw a wrench in her plans.”
“Of course, Master,” Amorette replied.
War removed his hand from her head. “As soon as the sun rises, you’ll go down into the village and start asking the locals if they’ve seen a group matching the description of our little Guardians. I’m going to head south.”
“There’s an abandoned warehouse down there. That will be our homestead. After I’ve finished setting up, I’ll come to town and find you.”
Amorette nodded. “Yes, Master.”
“You’re hesitant, Amor.”
“You are. I can hear it in your tone.” He glanced at her. “Do not fall under the gross misconception that you can fool me, girl.”
She frowned slightly. “It just seems to me that we’re horribly out numbered. How will we find them all?”
“We don’t need to find them all, Amorette. Just one.”
“As you say, Master.”
War let out a small chuckle. Caressing the back of her shoulders with his glove, he turned, floating away, back down the hill. Amorette remained where she was, her eyes drinking in the beautiful town. Everything about it seemed so peaceful, so quiet and calm and unlike anything within the expansive empire of the Red Dragon, her master’s master.
Doing some quick calculations, she figured that they were now in a time when she was two months old. Two months old. Her mother was still around and probably still watching after her. She wondered if this was her home town. At this point, she couldn’t remember the name.
From the scabbard at her side, she drew the silver long sword that had once belonged to her mother. She adjusted the red bandanna around her neck, pulling it up around her mouth and nose so that it shaded half of her face. With a determined breath, she began to run down the dark side of the hill, heading in the direction of the village. She had Guardians to find.
How quickly the night had melted into day. Link and
stayed up until nearly an hour before dawn, carousing with Sito. The three of them strolled through the village streets and all the way out into the prairie, regaling each other with stories of pretty women and previous tavern scrapes like the one with Grisha and his crew. At the fourth strike of the bell, Sito had finally departed, leaving Link and Tulsa to wonder at where they would go. Too exhausted to return to either the forest or Tulsa ’s academy dormitory, they had settled for a patch of yellow grass underneath a weeping willow just outside of the town. Tulsa
Early in the morning they were awakened by the gibbering of a bright blue pixie that flew around Link’s head, squawking incessantly. “To the palace,” she repeated over and over again. Link swatted at her drowsily, but she persisted until he was finally awake.
“All right, already,” Link mumbled, rubbing his eyes, “I’m going I’m going.” He leaned over to slap
’s shoulder. Tulsa
awoke with a start. “What is it?” Tulsa
“I have to go to the palace.”
“To the palace!” the pixie echoed. Link took off his hat. With practiced ease, he swung the brim out, catching the pixie and squeezing the cap shut so she couldn’t escape or even be heard.
yawned loudly, his enormous mouth opening wide. “Why?” Tulsa
“I’ve been sent for. Are you coming?”
, the insufferable tagalong, of course, agreed to come. Sleepily, the two boys dragged their bodies up off the ground and began to troop back to the town. The early morning activity of the villagers seemed to revive both of them, though they were going on no more than two and a half hours of sleep each. They passed through the hustle and bustle of the marketplace, coming to the square. Tulsa
In the square was a large wooden wagon with a thatched roof, painted neon orange. One side of the wagon was opened up and lying horizontal on a stand, exposing the innards of the vehicle. Vibrant yellow, pink, and orange silks were hung from the ceiling, billowing in the breeze while on the prone wall, several beautiful women danced with scarves and tambourines. A man in a brilliant pink leotard sat on the edge of this makeshift stage, plucking away at a mandolin and singing in a deep, mournful baritone.
grabbed Link’s arm, pulling him back as he was about to pass the crowd assembled around the performance. “There she is!” he hissed, pointing excitedly to one of the girls on stage. She was strikingly beautiful, with sharp eyes that danced in front of her. Her hair was cut in a very attractive pageboy, although long strands from her temples whipped around her face as she twirled. Tulsa
“That’s Coset?” Link asked.
replied fondly. He clutched at his chest. “Be still my noble heart!” Tulsa
“Noble? You’re not noble, you’re a pacifist.”
He threw Link a deadly glare. “I shall never win her heart by beating her senseless, Hero.”
“And you’ll never win her heart by hiding from her.”
“Come on, we have to get going.”
“Lead the way, my friend.”
They departed from the spectacle,
throwing several more longing looks over his shoulder at the lovely Coset. The palace loomed in view up ahead. The drawbridge was down today as marketers crossed back and forth over the moat. Two burly guards stood on either side of the bridge, waving people through. They nodded to acknowledge Link, admitting him at once. Tulsa , they only allowed to pass after Link assured them for the twentieth time that he was perfectly harmless and a friend of Zelda’s as well. Tulsa
“It’s my ears,”
lamented as they got across the bridge and onto the palace grounds. “They never trust us Humans.” Tulsa
“I think it’s your mouth,” Link teased. “Or maybe your stance on organized militaries.”
“You know me better than that,”
replied. “I don’t preach my views to the condemned soldiers.” Tulsa
“No, just to me.”
chuckled good-naturedly. “Well, as we established long ago, you’re very different.” Tulsa
Two knights held the doors open for the boys and they walked into the great hall of the castle. It was crowded today, packed with courtiers in their finest, mingling with the train of a visiting monarch, the young Prince Amonasro of the island
, currently on unstable grounds with the Hylian government. It was easy to tell the Risans from the Hylians. The Risans seemed half dressed. All the men went about without shirts, in animal hide slacks or wraps while the women wore skimpy halter tops along with the hide pants. Setting them apart in addition was the fact that all the adults had, branded on their foreheads, celestial Risan symbols, famed for being the source of the Risan power with regards to the life force. The children, meanwhile, could have easily passed for regular Humans. kingdomof Risa
“Busy day,” Link muttered, looking around for a familiar face. He only knew a handful of courtiers. Most of his palace associations were the administrators and officials themselves.
“Any idea who sent for you?”
“Let’s find out.” Link cleared his throat loudly. “Excuse me?” he called over the murmur of casual conversation. “Who does this belong to?” He held up his hat and released the brim. Immediately, a very disgruntled pixie shot out into the air, chittering loudly to make known her displeasure.
“Link,” a husky female voice replied sharply from one of the side doorways. The boys turned to see a statuesque Sheikahn woman appear, as always sporting the slate armor of a warrior. She gave Link a harsh, cold glare from her red eyes then turned around abruptly, signaling for him to follow her out of the room.
“That Impa is one frightening woman,”
muttered as they two of them followed her into a side chamber. Tulsa
“You get used to her,” Link replied with a shrug.
The side chamber was startlingly quiet in comparison to the grand hall. The walls and ceiling were constructed of the same stone that made up the outside of the castle. Three of the walls of the hexagon, the ones opposite the door, had large stain glass windows, each one depicting a different image of Din, Nayru, or Farore. There was a marble bench underneath each window, supporting a plush, red velvet cushion. Impa stood in front of the middle window, displaying the fire of Din. “Really, Link,” she said angrily, “you need to learn to be a bit more discrete.”
playfully nudged Link in the ribs. “I’ve been telling him that for years,” he sang out. Tulsa
Impa turned to glance at him for a moment before turning back to Link. “Why did you bring him?”
Link shrugged. “Seemed like a good idea at the time.”
“Time.” Impa sighed.
“Bad choice of words, mate,”
clapped Link on the back. Tulsa
“Not another word out of you,” Impa barked.
opened his mouth to reply, but Link quickly stepped forward, defusing the situation. “Why did you summon me, Impa?” he asked. Tulsa
She seemed to immediately forget her hatred toward
. “There’s a problem Link, and it’s not a small one.” Tulsa
“Just show me where to point a sword,” he said.
“It’s not that simple.” She stepped back then gestured to the floor. Link looked down. Etched in the stone was a scale map of Hyrule. “This chamber is used for locator spells,” she explained.
scoffed. “What, pray tell, is a locator spell?” Tulsa
Impa was about to reply, but Link beat her to it. “A locator spell is a special Sheikahn trick to find monsters and demons hidden across Hyrule. They take a magical sand, sprinkle it over the map, and say a few magic words. The map then spells out the demons.”
“That’s not quite accurate,” Impa corrected him. “The spell is meant to locate bad blood. Not your average, run of the mill demons.”
“I got the main idea,” Link replied defensively.
“So what’s the problem?”
“Do not speak unless spoken to, Human.” Impa addressed Link again. “I performed the spell this morning. It’s something I do every day.”
Link scowled. “Something turned up?”
“You could say that,” she answered. She reached across her hip and into a small sack that was sewn into the side of her britches. From it, she withdrew the grainy, Sheikahn sand. “Upsy masee, tri tefee, oma tok depe gu,” she whispered, tossing the sand out over the map.
It seemed to fall in slow motion, raining down on the map in sparkles, caught from the sunlight filtering through the fiery window. As it alighted to the ground, each grain could be heard dropping with a ping. The sand scraped across the stone, swirling in a spiral as it gathered in several different small sections. A large amount of it began to cluster by the space on the map representing an uninhabited prairie that lay along the road to the castle and surrounding village. Link watched as the sand gathered, forming shimmering, yellow letters into a single word: Dragmire.
“No,” he whispered, exhaling sharply.
“Yes, I’m afraid,” Impa replied.
“It’s not possible.”
“The spell has never failed me,” she told him sternly.
“No! I refuse to believe…it’s not possible.”
drawled, reading the map. “Isn’t that the big bad from several years back?” Tulsa
“He’s gone,” Link said. “He can’t be back.”
“We always knew he would return one day,” Impa muttered.
“Not this soon!” Link exploded.
“Link, contain yourself.”
“It’s not fair,” he whined.
“Life is hardly fair, mate,”
said wisely. Tulsa
!” both Link and Impa shouted at the same time. Tulsa
He held up his hands defensively. “All right, all right.”
“You have to go investigate, Link,” Impa sighed.
Link nodded, licking his lips. “I’ll go,” he agreed. “It’s my duty after all.”
“Another thing,” she added, holding up a finger. “Nobody knows about this, you mustn’t tell anyone.” She glanced at
. “That goes double for you.” Tulsa
dragged his finger across his heart. “You won’t hear a peep from me,” he swore. Tulsa
“That would be a first.”
“The last thing we want is panic in the
,” Link muttered. “What about Zelda?” Kakariko Village
Impa shook her head. “I haven’t even told her yet. I want to be certain first.”
“I thought you said this spell had never failed you,”
“It hasn’t,” she replied testily. “Maybe I’m just hoping that this will be the first time.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Mia scoffed, folding her arms across her chest. “The Great Hylian Earthquake couldn’t possibly have caused the Red Dragon to go evil.”
“How do you know?” Ana challenged her, leaning forward, her palms on the table. “Maybe something fell on his head during the earthquake. That could be what caused him to go insane.”
“You’re insane,” Mia shot back, brushing her long brown bangs away from her face.
interjected from his place to the side of the stand off. “This is an academic argument. The Great Hylian Earthquake didn’t take place until after the Red Dragon began his campaign against Risa.” Aden
Ariadne sat on top of the bar counter, watching the argument taking place in the far corner of the cantina. A wry smile spread across her face. The three of them had been going at it all morning, attempting to determine the cause of the Red Dragon’s sudden lust for power. So far, they had eliminated the disastrous Catalan envoy, the Great Hylian Earthquake, and even the birth of Sito, but had come no closer to finding a reasonable solution.
said, pointing to an open book on the table, in between Mia and Ana, “according to this, the event must have taken place between yesterday and the end of the month.” Aden
“How do we know he isn’t evil already?” Ana asked.
“Your mother’s rose window is still intact,” Mia replied. “At least, that’s what we saw yesterday before arriving here.”
Ariadne lifted her chin, her attention suddenly drawn to the front door. “Someone’s approaching,” she said. Despite the fact that Airy was soft spoken, everyone immediately heard her.
jumped to his feet, drawing the sword by his side. Mia and Ana rose after him, moving to flank the door, pressing their backs to the wall. For her own part, Ariadne leapt up into the rafters again. Aden
There was a knock, but before a second could follow it, the door fell off its weak hinges and crashed inward, hitting the ground with a loud smash. Sito stood on the other side, his fist poised to strike again. He looked down at the door. “Let me guess,” he muttered dryly, “Tranns opened the door?”
sighed, returning his sword to the sheath. Aden
Sito stepped in, walking over the door. “Nice to see you all too.”
“Where have you been?” Mia exploded, following behind him.
“I went out for awhile,” he replied, waving his hand casually.
stooped down to prop up the door again. “Philip’s going to have a word or two for you.” Aden
“Which will be the most he’s spoken all day,” Ana muttered dryly.
Ariadne jumped down from the rafters onto the counter. Immediately, Sito turned his gaze toward her. “Hello, Airy,” he said with a smile.
“Hello, Sito,” she answered back.
He shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his black leather jacket. “How are you?”
“I’m fine,” she responded, looking a little bit confused.
A series of loud thuds turned everyone’s attention to the stairs. Philip came tromping down. He stopped on the bottom step, seeing Sito for the first time. “Sito,” he grumbled.
“Look who decided to grace us with his ever-so-charming presence,” Ana chirped.
Philip ignored his sister. Instead, he stepped down to the floor and crossed the room in three strides, coming to rest directly in front of Sito. While Sito was far from scrawny, Philip dwarfed him by far, with his looming stature paired with his demeanor. “Where were you?” he growled.
“I went for a little patrol around the town,” Sito said, putting on a brave face to look back up at Philip.
“Who ordered you to do that?”
“Strike one!” Ana cried triumphantly. “Only Philip commands us. You do not disobey our fearless leader.”
“You should have stayed with the group,” Philip pressed on, trying his best to block out Ana.
“I just thought I’d have a look around,” Sito muttered.
“Your little look around has set us back.”
“Strike two!” Ana sounded. “You don’t waste Philip Summer’s time.”
“Adriana Jasmine Summer,” Philip rounded on her.
Sighing heavily, Philip turned to Sito again. “I sent Tranns and Jesse out looking for you. You’re wasting their time too.”
Sito sighed. “Look, I’m sorry, okay? It won’t happen again.”
“It better not.” With that, Philip walked over to the bar. Ariadne looked down and gave him a small smile. His back to the others, Philip secretly smiled back for a second.
“So where did you go, anyway?” Mia asked her little brother.
“Down to the village,” he said with a shrug.
“See anything interesting?”
“Well,” Sito drawled slowly. “There was this tavern called the Boar’s Head.”
“I remember hearing mother talk about that place,” Ana murmured, absently twirling a lock of red hair.
“It was fantastic!” Sito declared passionately. “A real tavern filled with real people.”
“As opposed to those pesky taverns with fake people,”
“I spent the night with two great guys: Link and
Silence filled the room. Philip turned around to join the others in staring, slack jawed at Sito. As always, Ana was the first to speak. “You idiot!” she cried, shoving Sito’s shoulders.
Sito maintained his balance. “What? What?”
“You spent the night drinking with the Red Dragon,”
said softly. Aden
“Correction,” Sito replied, holding up a finger, “I spent the night drinking with the man who will eventually become the Red Dragon.”
“What were you thinking?” Mia asked.
“He wasn’t,” Ana deadpanned.
Sito gave her an appropriate glare. “I just wanted to see what he was like before he lost his marbles. And I’ve got to say, those were two incredibly nice guys.”
folded his arms across his chest. “You know…that other name sounds vaguely familiar.” Aden
“It ought to,” Mia reasoned. “Whoever that other guy was, he was apparently once a friend of the Red Dragon.”
“Look it up,” Philip said softly. All eyes turned on him. “Mia,
, Ana, continue your research on the history. Look for that other boy’s name.” Aden
nodded, moving across the room, back to the corner table, piled high with books. Aden
“I’m going to go find Tranns and Jesse,” Philip continued. “You’re coming with me, Sito.”
“Is this my punishment?” Sito asked dryly.
“Let me come too,” Ariadne piped up.
Philip turned to look at her. “No.”
“Oh come on,” Sito pleaded, “let her come.”
“You know I can find them faster than your pin can,” Ariadne said evenly.
Philip sighed. “All right,” he conceded. As Ariadne jumped off the counter, Sito gave a wide, open grin.
Amorette passed by a fruit stand, inhaling deeply the rich aromas of citrus and berries. The marketplace, to her, was like an alien landscape, completely foreign in every sense of the word. And yet it was her home land. This was where her mother had been born. Where her parents had met. Where Amorette had been nursed. How different it seemed to her, so many years in the past.
As she scanned the bustling center of activity, she tried to conjure up the image of what it looked like in her time, in the reign of the great Red Dragon. There were no waving banners of pastel silk, she was certain of that, nor were there dancers performing in the square with jingling tambourines and lively stringed instruments. Things weren’t so pretty in her time.
She came upon the glorious statue of Kallista, just outside of the temple with the Essence of the Virtues. The craftsmanship was superb. As she examined the grand figure, she felt as if any second, the goddess would step off the pedestal and walk out into the crowd. The exquisite marble folds of fabric and the lifelike way in which her eyes were carved seemed more realistic than any statue of the Red Dragon.
Reaching into her pocket, she withdrew a red Rupee. As she tossed it into the basin of the fountain, she tried to think of something to wish for. Amorette drew a blank. A small scowl crept over her face as she whispered, “I wish…” and nothing else.
“Let’s try down the road, near the taverns,” a voice said from somewhere in the crowd. Amorette whirled around quickly. She knew that voice. “Sito was always a little too fond of the seedy areas,” the speaker continued.
Quickly, Amorette dove into the crowd of people pouring out of the temple after the morning libations. From the safety of the throng, she turned her head, sweeping her eyes out along the road, looking for the source. She found it quickly enough. Walking past the temple were Tranns and Jesse. An amused expression lingered on her lips. Tranns was wearing a bright purple scarf around her head, doubtlessly to cover up her ears which gave away her mixed Hylian and Risan heritage.
Careful to remain concealed from them, Amorette fell into step a few paces behind. She suddenly heard her master’s voice in her head. *So you’ve spotted Tranns and the Mute,* he chuckled.
*Aye, master,* she responded telepathically. At once and without waiting for instructions, Amorette surged forward, pushing people out of her way until she came upon Tranns and Jesse. She let out a war cry and jumped in the air, kicking Tranns into Jesse. The two of them toppled over just as a bright red blast of energy shot out of the air, flying over their heads.
Screams arose from the bystanders as War came charging through the market, his left hand poised to fire off another blast of red energy while his right hand held a beautiful battle staff. He was certainly a menacing figure, with his purple armor and a gold helmet that completely covered his face. As the people scattered, Tranns and Jesse got up to their feet. “Amorette?” Tranns cried in shock. Jesse grabbed her arm, pointing in the direction of the master. “War!” she screamed. With that, she pulled her silver daggers from the sheaths in her boots and turned to face him.
War came to a stop in front of them, a low chuckle echoing in the helmet which hid his face. “Hello Tranns,” he sneered.
“You followed us back…” she realized with dismay.
“I have a message for you,” War growled, “from the Red Dragon.”
“I have a message for him too. Tell him he can kiss my a-”
“The Red Dragon would like you to know that Zelda was left defenseless while you Guardians trotted off on this fruitless endeavor. She’s dead now.”
Tranns narrowed her eyes at him and charged forward, slashing her daggers to either side. War caught her on the right side with a long, majestic staff, throwing her across the road and into the field by the side. Meanwhile, Jesse drew his sword, swirling around to engage Amorette, also drawn. The two of them contended fiercely, matching blow for blow as if in a spar.
Deftly, Tranns rolled up, landing on the ground with one knee raised, her daggers at the ready. “Zelda will live,” she declared.
“What makes you so sure of that?” War asked merrily.
“The Guardians will see to it that the Red Dragon never rises,” she declared.
“Not if I kill you all first.”
In a flash, Tranns sprang to her feet, running at War. She threw her left dagger forward, lodging it firmly into the lower torso of his armor. This didn’t seem to have any effect though. Roughly she pulled the dagger out, taking a step back. War reached out and grabbed Tranns around the waist, pushing her down into the ground. He planted a foot on her back and began to twist his heel against her spine.
“Are you,” Tranns wheezed, grimacing in pain, “always…this…melodramatic?” She threw her arm back, trying to drive her dagger into the greaves on his leg, just below the knee. Tranns missed her mark and War grabbed her hand and began to squeeze it in his tight grip. With a grunt, Tranns lifted her other hand, driving the dagger into War’s foot.
War howled, releasing Tranns’ hand as he stepped back on his good foot, taking it off her back. Tranns rolled over onto her back and sprang to her feet, grabbing War around his thick waist and hurling him down to the ground. She turned to look at Jesse. “Need any help, Jess?”
Jesse, who was engaged in a deadlock with Amorette, both of them clutching each other’s wrists, swung his forehead forward, head butting her. Amorette stumbled back, releasing Jesse’s wrist. He glanced at Tranns and shook his head. Then, with alarm filling his blue eyes, he raised a hand to point behind her.
Tranns turned around just in time to receive a fierce kick to the face from War. She flew backward across the field, nearly toppling some bystanders who had gathered, fascinated by the fray. “Tranns!” someone cried from the crowd. Tranns looked up to see the heads of Philip, Airy, and Sito bobbing up and down as they raced through the throng to the scene.
War had his foot looming over Tranns, poised to smash it down on her head. As he came down, Tranns caught his boot, pushing back just long enough for Philip to fling himself forward, catching War with his shoulder and throwing him off balance. Tranns rolled out of the way and climbed to her feet. “Your timing is improbable.” She glanced at Sito. “Nice of you to join us.”
“You know me,” Sito muttered, racing forward to Jesse’s side. “Never one to miss a good fight.”
“By the gods,” Ariadne whispered as she looked from Amorette to War. “They followed us.”
War chortled, clambering to his feet with the loud ringing of armor. “Philip, Sito, Ariadne, so good of you to join us.”
“Come to stop us, old man?” Philip asked, throwing his cape over the five glowing gemstones of the pin.
War didn’t reply. Instead, he held his arm up, a swirling display of red energy forming over it. He grabbed the energy like a ball and pulled his arm back, ready to throw it at Philip. From behind, Ariadne leaned over and picked up a rock, loading it into her sling. She lengthened the string, swinging the device over her head before launching it at War. The stone hit him in the back of the helmet and his throw was put off target, sending the blast harmlessly into the grass.
He turned around. “Ariadne,” he cooed, “that hurt.” At once, he swung his polished staff at her. Ariadne turned and tried to run, but War managed to clip her in the back. She fell to the round, writhing in a disproportionate amount of pain.
“Airy!” Philip cried.
“Ariadne!” Sito yelled at exactly the same time.
War leaned over and scooped her up, tightly holding her throat in his iron clad hand. He pulled her close to his chest, chuckling as she tried to wriggle free. “You children will never learn. There’s no stopping the Red Dragon.”
“Airy,” Philip muttered, making direct eye contact with her. “Are you going to let him treat you like that?”
Ariadne pulled her hand behind her back, pressing it against War’s breastplate. Suddenly, there was a loud ripping noise that filled the field with a metallic echo. War shouted in surprise, dropping Ariadne who began to run back to the other Guardians. “Stop her, Amorette!” War barked. At once, Amorette stepped forward, catching Ariadne by the shoulders. War looked down at his breastplate. In the purple iron, there were five fairly large gashes that had not been there before.
“Let her go, Amorette,” Philip snarled.
“I think not,” War said icily. He walked over to Amorette and Ariadne, grabbing Ariadne fiercely by the wrist and yanking her closer. It seemed as though he were inspecting her like a museum curiosity.
“Let her go!” Sito hollered
“We have some things to discuss, you and I,” War said to Ariadne. He extended his staff out to Amorette. With a glance back at the Guardians, she took hold of the weapon. War whispered something under his breath and the bright green haze, signaling Farore’s Wind, appeared, enveloping the three of them.
“Ariadne!” Philip yelled. But it was too late. The three of them had disappeared in the mists.
“No…” Sito whispered, dropping down to his knees. Jesse silently put a hand on his brother’s shoulder, trying to comfort him.
“Oh Din…” Tranns muttered, shaking her head in horror. “What’s he going to do to her?”
Philip stood in silence.
, Mia, and Ana sat in relative silence, each of them flipping through some of the dusty books they had transported with them on their journey from the future. Mia listlessly glanced up at Aden from time to time. A frown would form on her otherwise attractive face and she would turn her attention back to the book. This process was repeated several times before, in irritation, Aden shut his book and looked up at her. “What?” Aden
Mia scowled, looking up. “Doesn’t it bother you?” she asked.
“What about it?”
“The fact that it’s a suicide mission.”
“How do you figure?”
“What’s going to happen to us if we succeed? Zelda said our timeline will cease to exist and we’ll be unable to return home. What does that mean? Will we cease to be as well?”
shrugged. “Maybe.” Aden
“Maybe?” she exclaimed. “How can you say that so casually?”
“He’s a Risan,” Ana said dryly, flipping the page of her book. “They take everything stoically.”
“Now that’s no true,”
corrected her. “Risans are very passionate people; they just emphasize inner passion and outer calm.” Aden
Mia glanced over at Ana. “Do you ever think about it?”
“It’s not worth stressing out over,” she sighed, closing her book. “If we fail, we’ll die. If we succeed, I imagine we’ll be swallowed up by a time bubble.”
“A time bubble: A rip in the time/space continuum which swallows up alternate futures which cease to be based on the actions of the present.” Both
and Mia stared at her. “What? I can’t have layers? I can be smart.” Aden
After a few moments, Mia blinked rapidly once or twice. “What’s it like inside of a bubble like that?”
Ana shrugged. “I don’t know.”
was looking over Ana’s shoulder at the window. “Ladies,” he said softly, “we have a problem and it’s not a small one.” Aden
Both Mia and Ana turned to look out the dusty, fogged up window. Down the road, about fifty pace away, they saw two young boys walking in the direction of the Dancing Knight. The first was a slender Hylian boy with blond hair, wearing a green felt tunic with a large sword strapped to his back. The second was a strapping Human with titian blond hair in an oversized gray coat partly covering brown slacks and a cream colored poet’s shirt.
“The Red Dragon,” Mia whispered, her voice going an octave higher than normal in panic.
“In his pre-Red Dragon phase,” Ana replied.
“They’re heading this way.” Mia turned to each of the others. “What are we going to do?”
The boys were so close now that the Guardians could hear them talking. “You shouldn’t be tagging along,” the Hylian said, “if there’s trouble it’ll be no place for a pacifist.”
“I wouldn’t miss this for the world, Hero,” the Human replied. “Besides, despite my stance regarding organized militaries, I can put up plenty a good fight in self defense, as you saw last night.”
“Who are you kidding,
? I saved your miserable butt.” Tulsa
“Link, Link, Link,”
chuckled. “Save your breath, nothing you say or do will make me turn back now. Not even if you told me that the Risan ambassador’s female train was prepared to wait on me hand and foot.” Tulsa
“There’s a Risan envoy?”
muttered curiously. Aden
Mia slapped his arm. “Stay focused on the crisis.”
“Wait a second…” Ana looked up at
. “You’re a Risan!” Aden
“I don’t see how that’s particularly relevant right now,”
answered back. Ana reached forward, grabbing the blue bandana Aden wore around his forehead. Viciously, she yanked it off, exposing the small sun-shaped brand on his forehead. “Hey!” Aden shouted in protest. Aden
“Shhh!” Mia pressed a finger to her lips.
“All right,” Ana said. “Take off your shirt.”
Outside, Link and
approached the door. “So what’s the plan of action, Hero?” Tulsa asked. “Do you knock?” Tulsa
Link frowned. “I’m not entirely sure,” he answered truthfully. He held up his hands, running his palms along the expanse of the door, careful not to touch it.
folded his arms across his chest. “Certainly doesn’t present an ominous façade,” he commented. Tulsa
“The fact of the matter is it looks like a run down building.”
“So knock. Oh I forgot, you don’t like passive activity. Kick the door down then, my friend.”
Link rolled his eyes and knocked on the door. There was a soft cracking sound and the door fell inward, smashing to the ground. Looking inside, Link saw a slender Risan boy with blond hair and green eyes, standing over a pile of books. The boy looked over at Link and
with surprise. “Oh…” Tulsa
said jovially. Tulsa
The Risan walked to the door. He had no shirt, but wore a neat pair of black slacks with shiny leather books going up to just below the knees. “Funga, ala feya,” he said.
and Link exchanged a glance. “I’m sorry to trouble you, my good man,” Tulsa began, “but we’re looking for a Gerudo. Have you seen any?” Link rammed his elbow into Tulsa ’s ribs. Tulsa
The Risan put a hand to his chest. “Ani
,” he told them proudly, lifting his chin to make sure they could see the symbol on his forehead. Aden
Raising his voice,
once again said, “We’re looking for a Gerudo. Have you seen any?” Tulsa
“Tera sura noah, na ja a na,” the Risan replied.
“Gerudo,” Link repeated.
“Chay co fe say?”
“I don’t believe he understands a word we’re saying,”
told Link. Tulsa
“Do you speak any Common?” Link asked the Risan with a pleading tone of voice.
“Common?” he echoed.
clapped his hands together. “Now we’re making progress. Do you speak Common?” Tulsa
A blank stare came from the green eyes. “Common?”
“He doesn’t speak Common,” Link muttered.
“We’re so terribly sorry to have disturbed you,”
shouted. “Have a nice day.” He leaned over and grabbed the iron handle of the door, hefting it off the floor and putting it back in its proper place in the doorframe. “Well that was different,” he hissed to Link. Tulsa
“You can say that again.” Link glanced at the door. “Something isn’t right.”
“Hylians…when they sense evil...they get cold and shiver.”
“And I’m not cold at all,” Link sighed.
“Perhaps Impa truly was mistaken,”
“As happy as I know that would make you,” Link murmured, “I don’t think so.”
“So you think there is evil afoot?”
“Perhaps not evil, but certainly something.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Did you see what the Risan was doing right as I knocked the door down? And don’t make any comments about violence versus passivism right now.”
frowned thoughtfully. “He was standing over a pile of books.” Tulsa
stroked his chin. “And Risans have an oral tradition. They don’t have any written language.” Tulsa
“You’re smart for a student,” Link joked.
“So what’s the plan of action?”
“We go back to the castle,” Link said. “We’ll have a little talk with the Risan prince; see if he’s missing any of his courtiers.”
“Check up on this guy, clever.”
“And we’ll speak with Impa. If there was a Dragmire in this building, he’s not here now.”
Together, the two of them began to trudge back down the road to the castle. The sun was setting now, casting an eerie orange glow on the both of them. From the dingy window of the Dancing Knight, Mia, Ana, and
(grateful to have his shirt back on), watched them go. “I can’t believe he becomes the Red Dragon,” Mia whispered. “He seems so innocent and noble now.” Aden
“Something traumatic triggers it,”
“What did you say to him,
?” Ana asked. Aden
shrugged. “At first I was just making idle chat, telling him who I was and welcoming him. But when I realized that neither of them spoke a word of Risan, I just started reciting some old traditional chants.” With that, he left his place by the window and walked over to the door to begin fixing the hinges, again. Aden
“Do you think they’ll come back?” Mia wondered.
Somewhere in the distance, water dripping noisily against the cement could be heard. The warehouse was so dark that the leak couldn’t really be seen. Large wooden packing crates lined the walls, piled hastily on top of each other. The wood had rotted away from some of them, causing the ancient contents, decayed fruit, to spill out across the floor. A sickening odor lingered in the air for it.
There was one high window in the building, casting a silvery white beam of light directly into the middle of the room where a single chair was placed. It was built like a throne, although the material was hard and the design wasn’t ornate. This was the one foreign object in the room, glowing neon with the green swirl of Farore’s Wind that transported three visitors.
War roughly pushed Ariadne into the chair, holding her down by pressing his palm against her forehead. “Did you see how that simple slash to the back hurt her so much?” he asked Amorette who had stalked over to a shadowy corner, her sword still drawn.
“Yes,” she replied, glancing at Ariadne.
“She’s the youngest of them all,” he murmured. “Can’t be over twenty.”
Amorette looked down at her sword. She was squeezing the hilt so hard that her knuckles had turned white, gleaming ghostly in the darkness. “Yes…”
“Amorette, go to the potion shop and purchase a vile of red potion, the healing sort.”
“Aye, Master,” she said, bowing her head. Without further ceremony, she sheathed her sword and started to walk to the door.
Ariadne looked up at War, attempting defiance on her face. “So what is this? You heal me before the torture?” Amorette turned around to look at him.
War chuckled. “I've never liked my prisoners in bad conditions,” he replied. He waved a hand over Ariadne and suddenly the material of the throne grew warm, melting into her clothing until they melded together. Ariadne stifled a gasp. War, meanwhile, sat back on the air, as if an invisible chair were beneath him. He removed his helmet. His face showed faint traces of past handsomeness, although most of it was hidden beneath vicious red scars. All his hair had been shaved off, leaving his head smooth and making his sharp Hylian ears stand out. A bit of stubble masked his cheek though, giving him a somewhat dashing look for all his wounds.
“We’re just going to keep her in that chair?” Amorette asked.
He set his helmet levitating in the air. It flew over to a crate on the side of the room. “For now, Amor. This prisoner is a special case.” Amorette nodded. “Regain your energies. You fought very well today. I am proud of you. Now off to the potion shop.”
“Thank you, Master.” Amorette at once disappeared out the door. It closed, the bang echoing back and forth on the walls.
Ariadne began struggling, trying to pull herself free of the chair’s hold. “Don't make me secure you even further; your skin glued magically to the chair would result in nasty hurts later on,” he chuckled. Gradually, Ariadne stopped struggling, more for exhaustion than from his warning. War smiled wickedly. “That’s better.”
“What do you want?”
“Too many things to count.” He laughed softly, the sound coming from deep within his throat. Casually, he folded his arms across his chest, leaning back on his invisible seat. “But what I want doesn't matter. What do you want, Ariadne?”
“To go now,” she replied defiantly.
“Oh really?” His smile only grew wider. “That won't happen anytime soon. You might as well forget about it.” He propped his knuckles underneath his chin. “How’s your back?”
“Nice answer; how's your temper?”
Ariadne closed her gray eyes, leaning her head back as far as the chair would permit. “You may torture me, if you like,” she whispered softly, “but please, do not insult me.”
“How are your parents doing?” War questioned her with an evil gleam in his eyes.
She bit her lips together for a drawn out moment before slowly answering, “Six feet under.”
“Both of them?”
“Yes!” she screamed at him fiercely, baring her teeth. Her cry echoed across the room with deafening intensity.
“Did they die when you were young?” War persisted, undaunted by her outburst.
“Yes,” she said softly, opening her eyes again. “What's with the questions?
“Questions are my thing. What were their names?” Ariadne turned her face away from him. His smile loosening somewhat, War leaned forward again on his airy throne. “Doesn't really matter, they're dead anyways, right?” He folded his arms.
“Sure,” Ariadne said listlessly.
“You know full well what you are, don't you?”
She turned to face him again, her eyes blazing with fury. “Name: Ariadne. Age: Nineteen years old. Marital Status: Single. Rank: Lieutenant. Number: 24601.” She rattled the facts off quickly.
“Ah yes, Zelda's fun little army. The Guardians of Tomorrow. A bit of a tacky name, don’t you think?”
“Anything else you'd like? My shoe size?”
“How about you show me your hands?”
“I'd love to, but they seem to be stuck to this chair.”
War waved his hand across Ariadne’s body. Instantly, the chair seemed to loosen its grip on her left arm. He held his hand, palm up, toward her. Ariadne curled her fingers into a fist and swung out at him. War responded by ducking his head down and forward, allowing her fist to collide with the top of his skull, the hardest bone in his body. As she grimaced, her hand throbbing in pain, he swiftly shot out his own hand, grabbing her wrist. Squinting, he looked down at it. “What is your species, girl?”
“What do I look like?” she challenged.
“Looks don't always reveal the truth,” he replied. “What do I look like?”
“A fat pig,” she shot without missing a beat. War laughed, seeming to genuinely enjoy the jest at his expense. Ariadne yanked at her arm, trying to pull it free. War responded by holding it tighter, pressing his thumb into the middle of her hand so that the iron of his glove dug into her flesh. She groaned in pain and so he balled up her fingers, enclosing her entire fist in his grip.
“You are not Human,” he mumbled, “that’s for sure. You are part of a very admirable race which I'm sure is already falling down the abyss of extinction.”
“What do you know?” she asked with great difficulty, her teeth gritted in extreme discomfort.
Almost tenderly, he placed her arm back on the chair which didn’t absorb her sleeve again. “You are Andorian,” he whispered fondly.
Ariadne let out a loud laugh. “You’re funny.”
War smirked. “I’m no liar. You’re Andorian.”
“Prove it,” she hissed.
“I can, but do you want me to?”
“You’re trying to throw me.”
“Now why would I do that?” War rose from his invisible seat and walked across the warehouse to a small chest hidden among the crates. He kicked it open and removed a small object, a miniature trident about the length of an arm. With this, he returned to her, sitting down once more on the thin air.
Latching out, he grabbed her free hand. Though she struggled valiantly against him, he maintained his grip. Slowly, he pulled her arm up so that her hand was at eye level. At once, he thrust the trident into her arm, almost at a parallel angle. Squeezing the handle, he sent a blue current racing through the metal. Ariadne screamed as five long black talons shot out from her fingers, extending six inches each. These were visible for only a moment before Ariadne regained control and retracted them into her hand.
Satisfied, War plucked the trident from her arm. Ariadne pulled her fist in against her chest, panting in pain while War looked at her evenly, un-intimidated by the glares she threw in his direction. “Well, wasn't that a rush?”
“Shocking,” she gasped.
“I suppose you haven't had much electricity course through your veins many times in your life? Humans are so clever with this precious little invention of theirs, you know.”
“I hope you enjoyed that little display,” she said icily.
“I did,” War replied dusting off his hands as the trident floated back to the chest. From his metal boot, he withdrew a dagger. With menacing stride, he approached her, slipping the blade underneath her long brown braid. Ariadne watched him, panic slowly filling her eyes. “Zelda did me a favor, making you a part of the team.” He yanked his arm forward, slicing the braid off. The instant the bottom half was severed, the color changed, going from chocolate brown to a pale blue, so light it was almost white. “Now, for your sleeping arrangements,” he drawled, sending the lock of hair floating to the chest.
“I’m not tired,” she whispered, trying to keep up a brave façade as the strength slowly seeped out of her limbs.
“Do you want a blanket?” War asked. Ariadne replied with a dirty look. “Suit yourself,” he sighed. War waved his hand and the throne sprang to life, the back sliding backward until it was nearly flat. Heavy metal clamps sprang out of the sides of the seat, fastening themselves around Ariadne’s neck and waist. Once they had locked, the hold on her clothing loosened. War moved over to her, pulling something out of one of the greaves on his leg. It was a silver hairclip that he pinned to her sleeve.
The door opened. In walked Amorette, holding a fairly large bottle of red potion. “Master?” she questioned, looking at the scene.
“Amorette,” War turned to address her. “Tend to her wounds.” Without another word, he floated to the crate where his helmet was resting and put it on, brushing past her and out the door.
As it slammed shut, Amorette turned to look at Ariadne. “How are you doing?” she asked slowly.
“Your master has unusual ideas about torture,” Ariadne replied.
“He’s the best in the trade.”
“No wonder he’s the Red Dragon’s second in command.”
Amorette glanced back at the door. “The sun’s almost down. It’ll be dark soon.” She walked over to the throne. “He won’t see you.” With that, she grabbed one of the metal clamps and pried it open. “When you get back to, Phil,” she grunted, pulling the second one open, “tell him I have a message.”
Ariadne sat up weakly. Her hair, once going down past her waist, hung only to her chin now. “What is it?” she asked, moving unsteadily to dangle her feet over the floor.
“Tell him to get rid of that pin, it nearly gave me away.”
“I saw the five stones lighting up.” Ariadne shakily got to her feet, keeping her palms on the throne for a moment.
“Do you know what War would do to me if he found out that I was working with you guys?”
“I can imagine,” she said dryly. “Did you get the information?”
Amorette nodded. “I think so. The day the Red Dragon underwent his ‘glorious’ transformation…” She paused to roll her eyes. “Was the same day that his best friend was murdered.”
“You’re saying that the Red Dragon went insane because his best friend was killed?”
“I believe so. Tell that to Phil as well.”
“You’d better go now,” Amorette urged her. “There’s no telling when War will return.”
Ariadne nodded weakly. The two of them clasped each other’s wrists for a moment then Ariadne began to slowly stumble to the door. She couldn’t describe the sensation she was feeling. It was as if every fiber of her being was exhausted. Gently, she touched the tattered remains of her hair. Had this been an ordinary escape, then she would have unfolded the beautiful black wings hidden underneath the skin of her back, but War had cut that option off.
Seven Guardians sat around the main room of the Dancing Knight, each of them glancing at one another with identical forlorn looks. Philip was sitting in a far corner, his face half bathed in shadows. A few paces from him was Tranns, straddling a wooden chair with her arms over the back. Ana sat next to Tranns on the windowsill, leaning back on her elbows. Mia, in between her two brothers, sat on a wooden bench, her hands folded neatly in her lap. Finally,
stood to complete the circle, his hands clasped behind his back. Aden
“War is here,” Mia said softly.
“And he has Ariadne,” Sito whispered.
“We’re in an awful lot of trouble,” Tranns said, resting her elbows on the back of the chair.
“Zelda’s in an awful lot of trouble,”
“What do you mean?” Ana asked him.
“What makes you think War came back in time to find us? Sure, maybe he did, but…what if he didn’t come for us.”
“You think he came here for Princess Zelda?” Jesse had scribbled on his notepad by this point. He held it up, pointing with wild gestures for everyone to see.
“Think about it,”
told them simply. “Come back in time and kill Princess Zelda before the Red Dragon rises. Cut off the source of the resistance before it even has time to grow.” Aden
“Brilliant in its simplicity,” Tranns chimed. “Kill a thousand people by just killing one.”
“Have I mentioned that I really hate this guy?” Sito groaned.
“You know what we have to do,” Ana said to Philip, completely ignoring Sito’s comment.
Philip looked up at her darkly, his eyes blazing in the shadows. Without answering, he folded his arms, scowling. Tranns raised an eyebrow. “You got a real addiction to the brooding part of life; did anyone ever tell you that?”
“He has Ariadne,” he grumbled.
“And she’ll be fine,” Ana assured him. “I mean, last time I checked Amorette was on our side, right?”
“Think about all the awful things that monster could to do her!” Sito shouted passionately.
“I think the two of you have lost sight of the fact that Airy is Airy,” Ana said. “She’s a big girl; she can take care of herself. The one we need to be worrying about, the one who can’t take care of herself is Princess Zelda.” She glanced pointedly at Philip. “And what’s more, you know what we have to do.”
“Kidnap Zelda before War can get to her,”
answered for all of them. Aden
“Oh the irony of it all,” Ana droned.
Philip finally turned to her. “Thank you, Adriana. My lifelong search for irony is now complete.” In light of the ferocity of his tone, everyone was struck dumb with the notion that they would soon be following in the footsteps of Philip’s estranged father in kidnapping the Princess of Destiny.
“Don’t worry, Phil,” Tranns chimed in after a moment. “Jess and I will take care of everything. I know the castle better than anyone else. I can slip in and out without anyone knowing that we were even there.” For emphasis, she removed the leather glove that she wore on her left hand, showing them a gleaming gold tattoo on the heel of her palm in the shape of the Triforce.
“Do you think you can do it without weapons?”
asked. “We don’t want Zelda to think that we’re terrorists.” Aden
“Shouldn’t be a problem,” Tranns replied. Jesse nodded enthusiastically in agreement with her.
“Of course, this all depends on your decision, Philip,”
added rather quickly. “You are, after all, in command.” Aden
“We’ll do what we have to do. Our duty is to Zelda,” he said, the scowl never departing from his face.
“What about Ariadne?” Sito insisted.
Philip slammed his fist against the wall. There was such force in his gesture that his entire hand went clean through the decaying wood. Everyone was struck dumb, staring at him. Slowly, he seemed to become aware of their looks. With great care he removed his hand from the wall, shaking the dust free from his fingers. “I have every faith in Amorette,” he said softly, in an entirely unconvincing tone of voice. “Right now, we need to focus on getting Zelda someplace safe and on the fact that the Red Dragon and his companion were here today.”
“We found his companion in the books,” Mia said carefully.
Tranns cleared her throat delicately. “Anything interesting about him that we need to know?”
“A regular of Zelda’s court. Had a couple of prestigious titles. Approximately seventeen or eighteen in this time period. Died before the Red Dragon rose.”
“How did he die?” Ana wondered.
“We’ll worry about this later,” Philip said bluntly. “Tranns, Jesse, get yourselves in and out of the castle as fast as you can.”
“Where should we bring Zelda?” Tranns asked.
“Bring her back here.”
frowned. “Are you sure that’s wise?” Aden
“He’s right,” Mia chirped. “After all, the Red Dragon w –”
“The Red Dragon is not our concern,” Philip said loudly. “As far as we’re concerned, he doesn’t exist in this time. Our problem is War.”
“As you say, Philip,”
“Phil,” Ana said suddenly. “Phil there’s something off about your pin.”
“Leave it to Ana to pay more attention to a person’s accessories than the crisis at hand,” Sito deadpanned.
“No really.” Ana pointed to Philip’s pin. Six of the small gems were lit brightly, glowing from the shadows that hid half of his face. A seventh stone was flickering weakly, growing steadily stronger and stronger.
Philip looked down at his pin. When he looked up again, his eyes were wide and the scowl had disappeared, replaced by a slightly open mouth. “Ariadne,” he whispered, jumping to his feet.
“What?” Ana spat incredulously.
Paying her no heed, Philip bounded across the room. He came to the door and pulled it open so roughly that the hinges came undone once more and the door clattered to the ground. “There another hour of my life goes to waste,”
“What is he doing?” Ana sighed in annoyance.
“Ariadne!” Philip shouted. He suddenly began running out of the building. Sito sprang up from the bench behind him and followed as the other Guardians slowly gathered around the door. Lying in the middle of the road was Ariadne, her hair chopped off. Philip knelt down beside her, gently gathering her up in his arms while Sito fell to the other side, clutching her limp hand.
They would have made it back to the village before sunset. In fact, they would have made it all the way back through the gates of the castle before sunset. But the fact of the matter was that they didn’t make it. Link and
encountered trouble after trouble on the way home. First, they had seen a rather large Moblin gorging itself on the harvest of a local farmer. Link, the insufferable do-gooder, had insisted on chasing it back up into the northern foothills. After that, they came upon a pack of Andorian Demons raiding a broken down wagon by the side of the road. Link had scattered them as well. Tulsa
By the time the boys reached the city limits, the sun had sunken down beneath the horizon and the village gates had been sealed for the night. Reluctantly, they located a patch of soft dirt on a hill overlooking the town and collapsed there, too exhausted to look for one of the quaint inns just outside of the walls.
Link awoke while it was still dark out. For a long while, he lay on the ground, waiting for the clock to strike the hour. At long last, he began to hear it ring. He counted the gongs. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven. Twelve. Thirteen? That wasn’t right.
He sat up stiffly. The bells were still sounding. Added to the toll was a new sound, the sharp bellowing of a horn from a tower of the castle. “
,” Link hissed, slapping his friend with the back of his hand. “ Tulsa get up.” Tulsa
moaned groggily. He opened his eyes and glanced up. “One of these days I’m going to wake up and you won’t be hitting me.” Tulsa
seemed to gradually become aware of the cacophony coming from the village. As he sat up, he saw dozens of lights flaring up in the windows of the little houses with their thatched roofs. “What’s happening?” Tulsa
“Whatever it is, it can’t be good.”
“That goes without saying. What shall we do?”
“We need to get into the city,” Link decided, standing up.
rose beside him. “Right behind you.” Tulsa
They sprinted down the hill, heading straight for the village wall. The gates were always locked in an emergency so using the tip of his sword Link bore several holes into the wall. Using the holes for toe-holds, he climbed up and over, falling down on the other side of the barrier.
was right behind him, scrambling up with an athleticism not apparent from his outward appearance. Tulsa
Together, they started running through the outskirts of the town, heading to the marketplace. All around them, confused and sleepy citizens poked their heads out of windows or walked down their lawns, all dressed in night clothing. They chattered and babbled with each other, trying to determine the cause of the alarm, but no one seemed to finger any one feasible explanation.
Arriving in the market, the boys were greeted by increased confusion. No one seemed to have the faintest notion of what was going on. “Link!” a voice shouted from the throng. Link’s old friend Malon came running up to the boys, wearing a white chemise with her hair back in plaits. “Link what’s happening?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” Link replied, raking a hand through his hair as he looked from side to side at the scene.
“We were hoping someone would tell us,”
shouted over the roar of the crowd. Tulsa
“Everyone’s gathering here to see if there’s a proclamation from the castle, explaining all of this,” Malon told them.
“We can’t wait around for an emissary to tell us what’s going on,” Link muttered. He turned to
. “Come on, let’s go to the castle.” Tulsa
Both of them waving goodbye to Malon, they took flight again, running to the castle in great haste. When they arrived, the drawbridge was up. “Hello?” Link yelled, cupping his hands around his mouth, “Hello out there?”
“Lower the drawbridge!”
cried. A moment later, Tulsa turned to Link with a wry smile. “They’re obviously a little too preoccupied to hear us.” Tulsa
“Fine. We’ll do this the hard way.” Link grabbed
’s shoulder and opened the channels of his mind. Instantly, the green mists of Farore’s Wind surrounded the two of them. There was a cold, tickling sort of sensation that rushed up and down Link’s skin. His vision was obscured for a second before it cleared again and the mist disappeared. They were on the other side of the moat. Tulsa
All too quickly, they heard the scraping of metal on metal and found three burly knights drawn, pointing their weapons at the two of them. “We come in peace,”
yelped, holding his hands up. Link silently thanked the goddesses his friend hadn’t added a clever little epitaph like ‘you stupid knights.’ Tulsa
“Link? Is that you?” The knights quickly lowered their swords as Impa appeared from the darkness of one of the castle entrances. “Return to your stations,” Impa barked to them. Obediently, they walked away.
Link stepped forward. “Impa, boy am I glad to see you. What’s going on?”
“Come inside,” she said crisply. She turned on heel and stalked back into the castle, the boys following behind her.
Inside the grand hall, there seemed to be a great deal of confusion. Knights swarmed all over the place like ants, one pacing in front of each window and each door. Several confused Risan ambassadors shouted rapidly at the Hylian translators who appeared to be dressed in their bedclothes. Prince Amonasro stood out from all the others, stumbling over broken Common in his deep baritone while his oldest son, Terry, clung to the animal skin hanging on his back as a cape.
“What’s going on?” Link asked again.
“Not here,” she said sharply. She led them through a narrow, winding passageway where the echoes of the grand hall chaos could be heard bouncing off the stones. Eventually, she turned into a larger hall, a richly decorated wooden corridor boasting portraits of the ancient royal family all the way back to Daphne.
“Impa!” Link nagged.
“That’s the way to do it, mate,”
jested. “Whine the answers out of her.” Tulsa
“In here,” Impa ordered them, pulling open a door.
Link blinked in surprise. “But that’s Zelda’s be –” Before he had a chance to finish the sentence, Impa roughly pushed Tulsa who in turn bumped into Link, sending them both toppling down over the threshold in the room. Impa stepped in after, closing the door behind her.
Zelda’s bedchamber was fairly modest by royal standards. Against the right hand wall was a large queen sized bed with a sheer white canopy and curtains. On the left wall was a squishy white couch, resting underneath an enormous portrait of the entire extended royal family. Opposite of the door was a pair of glass doors leading out to a balcony. These doors were currently open, swinging with a loud creak in the wind which blew the gossamer curtains.
asked innocently enough. Tulsa
“Gone,” Impa replied.
“Gone?” Link repeated. “What do you mean, gone?”
“I mean, someone slipped in here undetected and kidnapped her while my back was turned.”
“How do you know she was kidnapped?”
questioned her carefully. “How do you know she didn’t just decide to go for a late night stroll with one of those dashing Risan gentlemen?” Tulsa
“Zelda wouldn’t do that!” Link snapped defensively.
“He’s quite correct,” Impa sighed. “Zelda wouldn’t leave the castle grounds without telling me first. What’s more, I found this.” Impa walked over to the large bed. The sheets were disarrayed, falling over the floor. She lifted one corner of a sheet. On the floor, there was a large, tangled pile of red hair.
“Gerudos,” Link grumbled.
“That’s what I believe,” Impa answered, nodding gravely.
“Excuse me for being a layman,”
persisted, “but how could a pack of Gerudos get in here without being detected?” Tulsa
“Well that’s the troubling part now, isn’t it?” Impa sneered at him, as if condemning him.
“What I mean,”
replied, showing no signs of intimidation, “is if what Link told me is correct, that you Hylians shiver when they’re evil around, how come no one thought to look in up here?” Tulsa
“He has a point there, Impa,” Link said.
“There was no shivering,” she responded. “No sign of them whatsoever. They snuck in here like they didn’t exist and vanished before we knew what was happening.”
“How can anyone block a Hylian’s natural awareness of evil?” Link wondered aloud.
“The better question, my friend,”
said breezily, “is who can block a Hylian’s natural awareness of evil?” Tulsa
“Ganondorf,” Link told him without hesitation. “If anyone can do it, Ganondorf Dragmire can.”
“Did you encounter him outside of the village?” Impa inquired urgently.
“No, not a trace of him.”
“This is beginning to make less and less sense,”
“It all makes perfect sense!” Impa barked back at him. “Ganondorf Dragmire has returned to kidnap Zelda and reign supreme over Hyrule.”
“You have no evidence of that other than a name on a piece of rock.”
“And the red hair.”
“Anyone can have red hair!”
“Quiet!” Link bellowed, silencing the two of them. “I need to think,” he whispered, cradling his head in his hands. In truth, Link wasn’t sure which side to take in his friends’ argument. Both of them were convincing.
Ariadne’s eyes slowly opened. At first all she was able to see was a big white blur. Slowly, the haze began to dissolve into colors, pale at first, but quickly becoming brighter. She blinked, trying to clear her vision. Her body ached somewhat, but she felt a soft fleece beneath her. Carefully, she turned her head to the side. There was a figure pacing back and forth across her field of vision. Blinking rapidly, she made out the shape of a Hylian body with arms clasped behind the back, slowly marching across the far side of the room.
“Phil?” she whispered softly, sitting up on her elbows.
Immediately, Philip stopped pacing and turned to look at her. His face was gaunt but the second he saw her, it transformed. A look of relief washed over his blue eyes. Quickly, he walked over to her, kneeling down by the side of the windowsill that she had been stretched out on. “You gave us a scare,” he said.
“I was exhausted,” she muttered. Carefully, she rose to sit up. Philip stood, putting a hand on her back for support. As she righted herself, she ran a hand through her hair. It was hanging around her shoulders now.
“Your hair grows fast,” Philip told her.
“Like a weed when I’m injured.” She frowned, looking up at him with her soft eyes. “War figured out what I was.”
“I figured as much,” he replied, sitting down on the sill next to her.
“They just think you were brutally tortured.”
She lifted her chin, inhaling deeply. “There’s someone new in the house,” she said after a moment. “Zelda?”
“It’s a long story.”
“Make it short.”
“We figured that if War was following us, he might try to take advantage of the situation and kill Zelda while she was defenseless.”
“So you kidnapped her?”
“Something like that.”
Ariadne smiled weakly. “I can imagine she isn’t taking kindly to it.”
Philip shrugged. “What can I say? I’m living up to my father’s legacy after all.”
“But in a good way,” she corrected him. “How long have you been pacing over there?”
“I don’t know. A couple of…hours.”
“You were that worried about me?”
Ariadne lowered her arms to her sides, pressing her palms against the fleece on top of the windowsill. “Amorette turned me loose.”
“I knew she would.” He frowned slightly. “At least, I wouldn’t allow myself to believe otherwise.”
She felt his little finger brush against the side of her hand. “Are we any closer to finding a solution?” she asked.
“No. If anything, we’re only even more enmeshed in a web of lies and confusions.”
“Nothing like looking on the bright side,” she deadpanned.
“Pessimism is a survival trait.”
“No it’s not,” she replied firmly.
He looked at her. “It is.”
Defiantly, she looked right back at him. “You can have joy and happiness and still survive. You can have hope. Pessimism isn’t the only way.”
“You always have to hope for the best but expect the worst.”
“There are other ways, Phil.”
“Prove it.” Ariadne shifted, turned to face Philip dead on. She reached out her hands across him and lifted his wrists into the air. “What are you doing?” he asked her in confusion.
“Proving it.” She turned both his hands palm up then lifted her hands to hover an inch or so above his, her palms facing down. A soft humming sound emitted from Ariadne. After a moment, a soft white light began to form in between their hands. Philip watched in fascination, his eyes widening in surprise.
The ball of light grew brighter. Philip could feel heat emitting from it, warming his hands. From that heat, a new sensation started to creep through his veins. He felt an alarming sense of stillness, a calm that he had never known in twenty two years of life. This soothing sensation soon gave way to something else. A pleasant tingle, starting at his fingertips emerged, wrapping around his body like a warm blanket. He felt weightless, as if floating an inch above his own form, suspended by a warm, thick air current. The muscles of his face, generally tightly clenched in a scowl relaxed, though his eyes remained fixed on the energy. Meanwhile the soft humming he had heard just before the experience began had turned into a strange and wonderful kind of music, so alien to him that he didn’t dare to name it.
All this was in little more than five seconds. Abruptly, the light faded and the music vanished from the nothingness it had originated from. “I feel…” he whispered breathlessly.
“What?” she asked.
“Happy.” Suddenly, Philip became acutely aware of the fact that he was actually grinning.
“And yet you’re continuing to survive,” Ariadne chided Philip with a gentle smile.
“What was that?”
“Oomox,” she said.
“It’s my people’s sincerest display of affection,” she told him, withdrawing her hands.
He glanced at her, slowly raising a hand to her face. He brushed his palm against her cheek, sweeping it back behind her head with surprising gentleness. “This is my people’s sincerest display of affection,” he said. Tenderly, he leaned forward, pressing his lips against hers. After a prolonged moment, he pulled back looking at her shining eyes.
“Thank you,” she said softly.
“For treating me like one of your kind. For not treating me like a freak. Like someone who’s so different.”
“You aren’t a freak.”
“I’m not like you.”
“Yes you are.”
“You don’t know.” Ariadne glanced nervously at the door to the tiny room. When she saw that it was shut, she turned back to him. “I have to make you understand.” Instantly, without any warning or herald, Ariadne changed before Philip’s eyes.
The messy hair falling around her shoulders turned light blue, almost white, with two long cyan streaks running down either side of her head. Her skin became pale, lime green except for her lips which instead turned lavender. Long black talons grew out from her fingers and her posture changed, forcing her to hunch over a little bit. Everything about her was completely transformed except for her eyes which remained steely gray, still glazed slightly in the moonlight.
Philip stared at her, completely transfixed. After a moment of working his jaw, he slowly said, “You’re beautiful.”
“I’m Andorian,” she replied mournfully.
“So what?” Philip leaned forward, cupping a hand to her face. “Do you think that matters?”
“It doesn’t. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
As quickly as she changed the first time, Ariadne resumed her humanoid appearance. “You can’t tell the others.”
“I won’t,” he swore.
“You should probably go. They need their leader.”
“And you need to rest,” he told her firmly.
Ariadne nodded, slowly leaning down on her elbow. She rested her head on the soft blanket beneath her. Philip swiftly rose, crossing the room to a stack of blankets he had collected. He picked up the top sheet, a soft green throw and gently laid it over her. That accomplished, he turned and started heading to the door. He was about to cross over the threshold, but suddenly he turned around, looking over at her again. “Hey Airy?” he called.
She looked up at him. “Yes?”
“I love you.” He frowned a little bit. “I think I’ve always loved you.”
“I love you too,” she said with a gentle smile.
“It’s beyond hope,” Ana pronounced with a dramatic sigh. With that, she removed her hands from Tranns’ hair, literally and metaphorically wiping her hands of the matter. While Tranns had never been overly concerned with her physical appearance, she felt rather naked with the large chunk of hair missing from the left side of her head. It wasn’t a bald spot so much as an inconsistency.
“It’s the effort that counts,” Mia said with a comforting smile.
“You’re just a lost cause,” Ana sighed, looking at Tranns who had straightened herself out.
“That’s what they’ve been saying about me my entire life,” Tranns laughed good-naturedly, pulling her hair back into a ponytail.
“Well now your hair is consistent with the rest of you.”
The three girls attempted to laugh. Somehow, none of them showed any signs of genuine mirth. Sitting across the room from them was Zelda. She was tied to a chair by the arms and legs, dressed in nothing more than a silk nightdress. With fiercely condemning eyes, she glared at the three of them.
It was so strange. Somehow, none of them could adjust to seeing Zelda a good twenty years younger than the version they were familiar with, the version that - if War was telling the truth - had died trying to save Hyrule. She stared at them now without recognition.
Kidnapping her had been more than an ordeal. Jesse and Tranns had had an easy enough time stealing into the castle. Tranns knew a secret passage that led from the rose garden directly into a panel behind Zelda’s vanity. With Farore’s Wind, they had crossed the moat and taken the hidden route, coming upon the sleeping princess. Unfortunately for Tranns, Zelda had woken right as they were about to lay hands on her. Jesse managed to get a hand over her mouth before she could scream, but Zelda still put up a fight, taking out a good amount of Tranns’ hair in the process. They had managed to subdue her long enough to crawl back through the passageway, but getting her into the chair had been another matter.
The village’s alarm could be heard all the way on the second floor of the Dancing Knight. Tensely, the Guardians sat around, nervously anticipating a possible rescue attempt that might land a group of Hylian knights, or worse, the Red Dragon and his friend at their doorstep.
“Where’s Phil?” Ana asked loudly, planting her hands on her hips.
“He said he wanted to check on Airy,” Mia replied.
“She passed out on the front lawn,” Tranns muttered with a shrug. “War must have done some serious damage before Amorette was able to turn her loose.”
“He wouldn’t be worrying so much if it had been me,” Ana whined.
“That’s because you’re immortal, stupid,” Tranns shot back.
Ana briefly stuck her tongue out at Tranns, banging her two fists together in front of her. “Jerk.”
“Enough you two!” Mia hissed.
“The Hylian government won’t give you any ransom.” Everyone turned around to see Zelda sitting up as straight as possible, trying to maintain a semblance of dignity in an otherwise undignified position.
“We don’t want a ransom,” Tranns said carefully.
“Then you have a political agenda. My father won’t listen to your demands, whatever they might be.”
“We don’t have demands,” Mia told her.
“Then what do you want with me?” Zelda asked crisply.
“We told you,” Tranns moaned. “We’re just trying to protect you.”
“I have guards to protect me.”
Ana leaned against the wall, smoothing down her yellow sundress. “Believe me, Princess, you wouldn’t understand.”
“No, I don’t understand. I demand that you release me.”
“We can’t do that,” Tranns answered automatically.
“I hate this,” Mia muttered, turning her face away so Zelda couldn’t hear. “This wasn’t part of the plan.”
“Neither was War following us,” Ana hissed back. “Plans change.”
“I don’t understand why she hasn’t unleashed her mental powers yet,” Tranns murmured softly. “Zelda could fry us in an instant in our time.”
“I don’t think her powers have developed enough yet,” Mia supposed.
“Thank Farore for small favors,” Tranns deadpanned.
“Hello? Are you listening to me?” Zelda was eyeing them with a look of annoyance.
“Loud and clear, Princess,” Ana called.
“Answer my questions.”
“We can’t do that,” Tranns said again.
“You have got to be, without a question, the worst kidnappers in the history of Hyrule.”
“I imagine there will be worse in the times to come,” Mia sighed.
“Will you at least tell me who you are?”
Mia opened her mouth and started to step forward, but Tranns shot her arm out, gently clothes-lining her. Mia shut her mouth. “We can’t tell you that,” Tranns replied. “But maybe this will prove to you that we have good intentions.” Tranns withdrew her hand from Mia’s torso and gently pried off her leather glove, displaying her Triforce tattoo for Zelda.
“How is that tattoo supposed to prove anything to me?” Zelda asked them incredulously.
“Nice try, genius,” Ana hissed to Tranns. “The League of the Triforce doesn’t exist in this time.”
Tranns flushed slightly. “My mistake.”
The door opened. In stalked Philip, his cape swept over his shoulder, making him look dashing. He crossed the floor, walking directly in front of Zelda who gasped audibly at the sight of him, with his blood red hair. “How’s Airy?” Mia questioned, looking up at him.
“She’ll be fine,” he said. He threw a glance over his shoulder at Zelda before glancing at Tranns. *How’s our prisoner?*
*Disgruntled,* Tranns responded telepathically.
*No surprise there.* Philip cleared his throat, turning around to face Zelda. “Is there anything you require, Princess?” he asked her, bowing his head with extreme respect.
Zelda stared at him in morbid fascination. “Who are you?”
“A friend, I assure you.”
“You’re a Gerudo.”
“No,” he spat quickly. Behind him, he could feel the condemning, gleeful gaze of Ana. “Half Gerudo,” he amended quickly. Carefully, he took a few steps in Zelda’s direction. She tensed, withdrawing back in her seat so Philip stopped, holding up his hands defensively. “I assure you, Princess, I mean no ill against you. My friends and I have noble intentions.”
“Why am I not comforted?”
“Ouch,” Ana whispered, nudging Mia gently.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Philip told her.
“I highly doubt that.”
Philip withdrew with a wounded expression. “You’ll be released very soon.” With that, he walked out of the room.
“That hurt him,” Mia whispered.
“Phil will never get used to the way people look at him,” Ana muttered. “The fact of the matter is that he has the word Dragmire printed on his forehead.”
“Please, Ana, speak up a little bit louder,” Tranns growled. Across the room, Zelda’s eyes were filled with horror.
“This is getting all blown out of proportion,” Mia lamented.
Ana scoffed. “This got blown out of proportion a long time ago. We’re just experiencing the aftershock.”
“The Hylian government is going to think that we’re agents of Ganondorf and we’re holding the Princess for some twisted purpose.”
“Better that they think that than suspecting the truth.”
“But they’ll think we’re the bad guys, but we’re not.”
“Oh right, Mia. What would you tell the knights? ‘We’re not agents of the Gerudo, we’re time warriors come from an apocalyptic future to save Hyrule and the realm from the hands of a tyrant that doesn’t exist yet.’”
“But that’s the truth!” Mia exclaimed softly.
“They’d never believe it. They’d think you were daft and then they’d lock you away in a padded dungeon cell.”
“Shut up, both of you,” Tranns barked. “We have enough to worry about right now as it is.”
Mia took a deep breath, nodding firmly. “You’re right.”
“The sooner we figure out what causes the Red Dragon to rise, the sooner this will all be over with and Zelda can be returned to her family.”
“Yeah,” Mia mumbled. “But then what happens to us?”
Stillness had finally settled upon the castle. The Risan visitors had been heralded back to their guest quarters. All around was complete silence. Even the tolling of the great bell had ceased. No one could sleep. Everyone would lie awake in bed for the rest of the night, staring up at the ceiling and wondering about what had come to pass. Still, at least they were in bed.
Two young boys remained awake and active. They sat in the small side chamber with the enormous stone map of Hyrule. Moonlight drifted lazily through the three glorious windows, illuminating the figures of Din, Nayru, and Farore. In this eerie glow, the trio seemed alive and vibrant. Their red, blue, and green eyes, respectively, lit up, possessed by the spirits of the night. Together, these silent figures watched the mortals in their discourse.
Link sat on the bench beneath Din’s window. He had rolled up one of his gauntlets enough to expose his arm. Many years ago, Impa had fashioned him a spring loaded mechanism which was to be loaded with an arrow. At the flick of a wrist, Link could fire an arrow straight from this device, hidden under his glove, directly at an opponent. Now he sat there tying the straps around his arm, tightly so the aim wouldn’t slip.
“I’m begging you,”
said, pacing back and forth in front of him, “don’t do this.” Tulsa
Fiercely, Link threw his wrist back to test the tool. There was a loud scraping noise and the spring sprang, thrusting forward the empty trigger reserved for the arrow. Certain that it was in working order, Link pushed the device back into position and loaded an arrow into it, rolling his gauntlet back into place. “There is a time to be passive and a time to fight. Now we fight.”
“Link, use your head!”
exploded, throwing his arms up. “You absolutely cannot do this.” Tulsa
Loosening the strings of his boots, Link slipped a dagger into each. As he tied them again, he pulled at the laces fiercely, grunting a bit with the effort. “What would you have me do?” he asked angrily.
“Wait a little while,”
implored him. Tulsa
“Zelda may not have a little while.”
“At least wait until you have some help. Some…what do you warrior types call it? Some back up.”
There was a loud click as Link clamped his longshot into the clip for it on his belt. “No time,” he said.
“There’s always time, you yourself should know that.” Link busily attempted to shove his boomerang into the gauntlet without the arrow device. Rolling his eyes,
walked over to him and snatched the boomerang out of his hand. Tulsa
“Give…that…back…” Link said in a very low, deadly voice.
handed it over. At once, Link pushed it down into his gauntlet then drew the Master Sword from the sheath on his back, sharpening it with a small, flat stone from his pocket. “You’re angry,” Tulsa muttered as he watched him work. Tulsa
“You think so?” Link growled back.
“In all our discussions of battles and strategies, Link, you always told me that the most important thing to remember is that you don’t charge into a fight when you’re angry.”
“Well, what did I know?” Link spat bitterly.
glanced up at the stain glass window, the one in the middle with the fire of Din blazing in frozen red shards. “You look like her,” he commented, gesturing vaguely to the image. Tulsa
“She’s my patron,” Link replied.
“No, your patron has always been Farore.” He paused, frowning slightly. “It certain hasn’t been Nayru,” he added with a wry smirk.
Link didn’t seem amused. “Are you done talking?”
“Never. You know that my mouth will always run away with me, if given half a chance.” Putting the stone away, Link sheathed the Master Sword. He picked up a poacher’s saw and swung it experimentally, grunting in satisfaction at the noise it made as the blade slashed through the air. “Link!”
shouted, stepping forward. Carefully, he put his hand on Link’s shoulder. “Don’t you think you already have enough in the way of weapons?” Tulsa
Link looked up at
. The rage in his eyes melted. “It’s Zelda,” he whispered softly. As quickly as it had vanished, the fire returned and he roughly shrugged away from Tulsa . “You’d do the same if it were Coset or your parents or someone you cared about.” Tulsa
stared at him as if struck. “I care about Zelda,” he said firmly, seething anger threatening to bubble to the placid exterior he almost always conveyed. Tulsa
“Yeah,” Link mumbled, stepping into the iron soles which immediately bonded to the bottoms of his boots. “Sure you do.”
With surprising force,
grabbed Link’s forearm, holding him very tightly. “She’s my friend too,” he declared angrily. “If you think you’re the only one that’s upset by this situation, then I think you are officially the most selfish individual in all of Hyrule and the rest of the realm.” Tulsa
Link stared at him in surprise. Finally, after a painful, drawn out pause, he exhaled. “I know,” he said quietly. “Of course you’re upset.” He gently put the poacher’s saw down. “I know you’re upset.”
“You have to calm down, Link.”
“I can’t do that,” Link replied.
“Then nothing I can say will convince you to wait until you have help for retrieving her?”
“All right then.”
took a deep breath, drawing his hand away from Link’s arm. “In that case, I’m coming with you.” Tulsa
“You can’t do that.”
“Are you going to try and stop me?”
“If I have to.”
“Link, Link, Link,”
laughed gently. “I know you’re stubborn and you know you’re stubborn but we both know that I’m ten times worse than you are.” Tulsa
“You’ll only get hurt or slow me down.”
“Do you think I’m so passive that I don’t know about fights? I’ve listened to you for years, Link.”
“This isn’t some bar brawl or Moblin skirmish,” Link insisted. “This is real battle, good versus evil.”
“I long to destroy the forces of evil just the same as you,”
told him passionately. “We may have different ways of going about it, but our goals are exactly the same.” Tulsa
“This is one fight that can’t be won with brave talk about philosophy.”
“I know that.”
“So you know why you can’t come.”
frowned. “In the academy we have a saying. ‘Never study alone.’ Do you know why that is? Because in exploring ancient philosophies, people used to believe that students would see the meaning of life and go mad from the experience, unless they had someone with them to serve as an anchor.” Tulsa
“What does that have to do with this?”
“Part of the meaning of life is the face of evil,”
explained. “If you’re about to face evil, you shouldn’t do it alone.” Tulsa
Link sighed, his resolve weakening. “You could be killed,” he muttered desperately.
“I’m prepared to deal with that. What is death if not an adventure?”
chuckled. “Why should you be the only one to have all the fun?” Tulsa
After a pause, a small smile appeared on Link’s face. “I should know better than to argue with you.”
proclaimed proudly. “It’s a completely futile endeavor, you know.” Tulsa
Link laughed. “Yeah, I should know that by now.”
gently nudged Link in the ribs. “It’s time our roles were reversed, my friend.” Tulsa
“What do you mean?”
“Before tonight, I was the one showing you the universal truths of my world. Tonight our roles are reversed. You’ll show me your world.”
“It’s a lot quieter.”
“Really? I would think that with all the battles and weapons clashing it would be a great deal louder.”
“Well, it’s true there are weapons and battles and other loud noises, but at least in my world there isn’t so much talking.”
The both of them laughed good naturedly at
’s expense. Shaking his head, Link started to walk to the door. “Link!” Tulsa called after him. Tulsa
He stopped and turned to look at
. “What?” Tulsa
crossed the room, walking to the wall underneath Farore’s image. Link’s brazen shield, etched with the Hylian symbol, a great red bird flanking the golden Triforce, was leaning against the wall. The red metal of the bird was illuminated in the silvery light, haunting the darkness. Tulsa picked up the shield. With great care and ceremony, he walked over to Link, proudly handing it to him. “Don’t forget this,” he said. Tulsa
Link took the shield, slipping his left arm through the leather straps affixed to the back. “Thanks.”
Clapping Link on the back,
started to walk to the door. Link scurried after him, catching up at once. Together, the two of them disappeared in to the darkness of the portal leading into the chamber, black like an open, yawning mouth. All around, there was complete stillness once more. The figures of Din, Nayru, and Farore continued to glow. They looked down onto the map of their beloved land, the mountaintops somewhat worn away by centuries of traffic back and forth. Still, the map was impressive. Glowing in the yellow sand, directly over the abandoned Dancing Knight however, the word Dragmire remained. Tulsa
There was a soft rapping on the door. Ariadne sat up, pulling the blanket around her shoulders. Outside, the moon was beginning to descend to the horizon. It shone at just such an angle that a pale beam of moonlight fell into the room, lighting it up as in daytime. Ariadne had been lying directly in the pool where the moonlight fell
The knock came again. “Come in,” she called.
With a loud creak, the door opened. Sito’s round face appeared in the small gap between the door and the wall. “Hi, Airy,” he said.
“Do you mind if I come in for a second?”
“Not at all.”
Sito sauntered in, closing the door behind him. “I just came to check up on you,” he told her.
“That’s very considerate, Sito. But I’m fine, honestly.”
He shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his leather jacket, uneasily shifting his weight. “I know,” he said. “I was just worried, that’s all.”
Ariadne smiled a little bit. “Thank you.”
“I can’t believe you stood up to War,” Sito muttered, walking over to a dilapidated stool in the middle of the room. He sat down carefully, holding out his arms for balance.
“I didn’t really stand up to him,” she replied.
“I remember my dad telling me stories about what War was like before he became the Red Dragon’s second in command.”
“Your father knew War?”
Sito nodded. “Dad used to tell stories about him. He was a courtier of the Hylian royal family.”
“Your father was a knight?”
“Yeah, he was until he was blinded by this maniac. War used to visit him…before he turned evil. War that is, not my father. My father never turned evil. He was just a drunk.”
“So what was War like before he turned evil?” Ariadne asked.
He leaned back a bit, the stool groaning in protest. “From what dad says, he was a pretty nice guy: Soft spoken, loved to ask people questions.”
Ariadne scowled. “He did say that questions were his thing.”
“Oh. Well, anyway, dad said War was real smart too.”
“That’s what makes him such a dangerous enemy,” Ariadne supposed. “It’s easier to fight someone whose method is slash and burn than someone capable of plotting and planning and using tactics.”
“Well, War was certainly no slobbering Andorian Demon,” Sito chuckled. Ariadne looked at him darkly but said nothing. Oblivious, Sito shrugged. “It doesn’t matter though. We just have to beat him before he can beat us in beating the Red Dragon.”
“Before any more of us take a sound beating,” Ariadne quipped.
Sito laughed slightly. “Yeah, that would be nice. Then we can march happily off to oblivion.”
“Or whatever lies beyond it.”
keep debating about it,” Sito muttered. “About what it’s going to be like to enter a time bubble or whatever Ana calls it.” Aden
“What is there to debate?”
“What it’ll be like I guess.” Sito shrugged. “Will it be like going to sleep and dying or will it be like entering a new world?”
“There’s only one way to find out.”
“Yeah. Yeah. I hope we’re aware…wherever we are. I don’t want to walk into a bubble having any regrets.”
“What kind of regrets could you possibly have?” Ariadne asked.
He looked up at her, examining her face with his exquisite Hylian blue eyes. “Things left unsaid,” he told her softly.
Ariadne coughed. “What do you mean?”
“Listen…Airy…there’s something that I’ve wanted to tell you.”
She continued coughing, bringing a fist to her lower lip. “What?” she wheezed in between coughs.
“I wanted to tell you that…” Ariadne’s fit was growing louder. “Are you all right? No, you’re not. Do you want me to get you some water?” Ariadne nodded weakly. “All right. I’ll be right back, okay? Don’t go anywhere.” Sito stood up carefully, the stool moaning with relief. He turned around and sauntered back to the door. As he opened it, he threw a quick glance back at her before going out, leaving the door open behind him.
Stumbling to her feet, Ariadne crossed the room, clutching the blanket around her throat. Against the far wall was an old vanity, complete with a dingy, fogged up mirror. She leaned over the counter, her head down as she violently coughed her last cough. Finally, at long last, her nerves seemed to settle down. She took several deep breaths before straightening herself out again.
Immediately, she came face to face with her own reflection in the dull mirror. Somehow, in the middle of her fit, she had reverted back to her demon form. She breathed a silent, grateful sigh of relief that Sito hadn’t stayed to see. Ariadne regarded her reflection. In truth, she had spent precious little time in her natural state since Zelda had adopted her when she was ten years old. Zelda alone knew the truth, how her home village had been destroyed by the Red Dragon and how Ariadne had wandered alone for months, crying out the names of her brothers and sisters. She had been discovered in a clover field, huddling in the dark. While any other right minded Hylian would have slaughtered a solitary Andorian right then and there, Zelda had taken pity on the child and brought her up as her own, teaching her how to conceal her form from others. Andorians could change everything about themselves, if they learned properly, everything except for their gray eyes.
Ariadne spent so much time hiding in a Human body that she sometimes forgot what her true form was. Now, as she gazed upon her own reflection, she noticed a change. Philip had called her beautiful. Never, not in her wildest dreams, had she ever considered herself to be anything other than ugly, a hideous monster. She wasn’t a monster though, no Andorian Demon, but rather Andorian.
Regaining her focus, she transformed, becoming her humanoid self again. As she looked in the mirror, she noticed a shadow by the door. “Hello,” she said, looking at the reflection of the figure.
“Hello,” Philip replied, taking a step in her direction.
“How long have you been standing there?”
He shrugged his broad shoulders. “A moment.”
Ariadne turned around. She placed her hands behind her back, leaning against the vanity. “You don’t have to hide in shadows.”
“Neither do you.”
“How are you doing?”
She lifted one shoulder slightly. “I’m regaining my strength, I think.”
Philip walked over to her. “You look better. A little less –”
“Green?” she challenged him.
Smirking, Philip leaned forward, planting his hands on the vanity on either side of her. “I was going to say weak.”
“I know, I was just teasing.”
“It’s dangerous to tease a Gerudo.”
Ariadne glanced down for a moment. “I was wondering, about what you said before.” She looked up at him. “Did you really mean it?”
“Yeah. Did you?”
“Yeah.” She smiled sadly. “What remarkable timing we have. Just as we’re about to enter into oblivion, we make this discovery.”
“Timing is everything.”
“But you’re looking forward to it, aren’t you?”
“Disappearing. It’ll make all the shame and anger of being Ganondorf Dragmire’s son go away.”
“The thought had occurred to me.” Ariadne lowered her gaze. Philip quickly caught her chin in his fingers, lifting her head up so that she looked him in the eyes. “Don’t fall under the misconception that my hatred for who I am outweighs the things I feel about you, Airy.”
“I never said a word.”
“Your eyes gave you away.”
“They always do.”
Slowly, Philip turned his head to the side, leaning forward. His lips brushed gently against Ariadne’s for a moment then he pulled back. “Mine too,” he whispered. Again, he leaned forward, this time engaging her in a passionate kiss. Ariadne kissed him back, resting one of her hands on top of one of his, while she brushed the side of his face with the other.
There was the sound of glass shattering. Philip quickly pulled back, turning his head in the direction of the door. Standing over the threshold was Sito, a broken glass of water at his feet. He stared at the two of them in horror, his eyes wide, his lips quivering wildly. Numbly, he took one step backward, then another. Rapidly, he turned around, running down the hallway, his footsteps echoing through the room.
Philip looked at Ariadne. “What was that?”
“I know it was Sito. What just happened?”
“I don’t know. We were talking then he went to get me a glass of water and then you came.”
“And he shattered a glass. Why do I have a bad feeling about this?”
Behind the Dancing Knight was a sizeable property. In the glory days, the four maidens of the cantina would host elaborate celebrations on the festivals of the goddesses there, under the glowing orange light of tiki torches and paper lamps. As the tavern passed from owner to owner, the backyard had become increasingly neglected. Wild flowers and weeds sprang up from in between the planks of the patio until finally the wood had rotted away, letting a great garden emerge.
One of the previous owners had decided to use the back lot as storage, keeping packing crates and rolled up carpets there. As the ownership changed, the yard became a trash heap, gathering up old junk, broken bits and pieces of this and that. Flies swarmed around the garbage, intermingled with wild plants. Finally, one owner decided to build a shack around the mess as the neighbors complained of the smells. This shack as shoddy and most of it deteriorated until all that remained was a lopsided roof supported by four pillars, over a pile of waste.
Sito stalked out of the back door of the Dancing Knight and marched to this disgusting display, not entirely conscious that it was there. Angrily, he paced back and forth in the spot where once the eastern wall had been. A few frustrated tears dropped from the corners of his eyes. Violently, he wiped them away with the back of his hand, sniffling loudly as he did so. “Idiot!” he shouted to himself, kicking one of the pillars. He stubbed his toe and hopped up and down, clutching his foot. Meanwhile, a light shower of dust rained down from the dilapidated roof, lightly covering the trash, Sito, and another figure.
“Hello, Sito,” a deep voice said from the darkness.
Sito turned around in a flash, a startled look on his face as a chill ran down his spine. Narrowing his eyes, he took a step closer to the shack, trying to make out who was calling his name. There was a snap that broke the silence. A lit match traveled up from a pair of gauntleted hands, illuminating a golden helmet. Sito stumbled back, his hands reaching instinctively into his pocket as he pulled out an old switchblade. “Wh-what do you want?” he asked, puffing out his chest.
War floated forward, holding his hands up. “I don't care to fight, if that's what you’re asking.” The match was dropped to the ground and War snuffed it out with the heel of his boot. “I’m just here to talk.”
“Go away!” Sito shouted at him, swinging his blade sloppily, unable to concentrate for the tempest of emotions that were beating upon him.
War easily dodged the blows. “Calm down, boy.”
“Don’t call me boy!” Sito barked.
“None of your business.”
“Were you just crying now?”
“No!” Sito snarled fiercely.
“It’s okay to admit to weaknesses, boy.” War took another few weightless steps in Sito’s direction, his hands still out in the open.
Sito backed away, holding the blade up and pointed at War. “Not to you,” he insisted.
“Fine,” War replied with a shrug. “Keep quiet.” He reached his hands up to the sides of his helmet and slowly removed it. Sito’s eyebrows involuntarily jumped a bit. He had never seen War’s face before. In many ways, the bald man seemed like a perfectly normal Hylian. True, he had many scars crisscrossing his skin, but other than that, he had the same laugh lines as Sito’s own mother. “You have been wronged by others, have you not?”
“It’s none of your business…” Sito whispered.
“You have great potential, Sito.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment. Now go away.” Sito jabbed the blade forward for emphasis.
“Does your little team take your importance into account?”
“Just think about it, Sito. You would be of much use on the right side. On the side of power. On the side of understanding.”
“Why aren’t you back with your friends?” War asked suddenly, shifting his tactics.
“Would you stop asking me questions!?”
“Questions are my thing.”
Sito turned around and started to walk to the open road. Floating above the ground, War followed after him, quickly gaining ground and catching up. Abruptly, he grabbed Sito by the collar of his jacket, jerking him back roughly. “Hey!” Sito shouted, wriggling. “Let go!”
“Do not try and run,” War scolded him. “I have an offer for you.”
“You can’t make me stay.”
“Yes I can, Sito.” Sito maneuvered himself out of the jacket and took off for the road. War followed after him a few paces, holding the jacket before calling out “It’s not fair is it? Ariadne picking Philip over you.”
Sito stopped dead in his tracks. Slowly, he turned over his shoulder, looking at War. “How…”
“How did I know about that?” War chuckled. “Sito, there’s nothing about your little group that I don’t know.”
Sito curled his fingers, slowly clenching his hands into tight fists. “I hate him!” he roared, punching an imaginary image of Philip in front of him. “She should have chosen me!”
War smiled. “Your bitterness will be what turns you...yes…” He clasped his hands behind his back. “Don’t worry, you can trust me, Sito. I won’t tell.”
“Why should I trust you?”
“I knew your father, Sito.”
“Isn’t that proof enough? I would never do a thing to hurt one of my companion’s sons.”
Sito scowled. “My father…” he whispered again.
“How are you feeling?”
“Like someone ran over me with a horse.”
“Well, realization can do that sometimes.”
“You’ve only now just realized the truth.”
“That you don’t belong with Zelda’s pathetic Guardians. What have they ever done for you? Only berated and held you back. And now your old friend Philip has stolen the woman you were supposed to have.”
“Some realization,” Sito grumbled.
“But don’t you see? Now is the opportune moment.”
“What do you mean?”
“Now is your chance.”
“My chance for what?”
“Revenge,” War declared with a grin. “Glorious revenge. Take her back, Sito. It’s within your power to do so.”
“Yes…” Sito replied slowly, drinking in the words of his foe.
“You are so much better than they are. You’re sly and crafty, you scout out things they would never even notice. It should be a snap to ease your way through, like a knife.”
“I have so much rage,” Sito hissed, squeezing the fists at his side.
“Which is why you hide it. With this.” War made an elaborate gesture with his hand. Resting on the flat of his palm, a mask appeared. It was old and made of tree bark. There was nothing ornate to it, only two holes for eyes and one for a mouth. In the setting moonlight, it took on a spooky aura.
War extended his arm in Sito’s direction. After a brief moment of hesitation, Sito walked forward in War’s direction, snatching the mask out of his hand. He put it on, hiding his face. “How do I look?” he asked darkly.
“Good enough. Now, tell me what we’re going to do.”
“You’re the one in charge,” Sito said grimly.
“I like to be open to ideas,” War breezed. “You know your past team much better than I do, after all.”
Sito scoffed. “So you want info, huh?”
“I want intelligence, boy!” War snapped. “There’s a difference between info and intelligence. I demand the latter. How can we hurt the Guardians?”
Rage clouded Sito’s eyes. “Phil's really strong and powerful, so be careful around him.”
“I can avoid his attacks. I want to get to their minds…”
“I know Phil gets really touchy when something's going on with Airy. He proved that very well when he kissed her.”
A wicked grin curled War’s lips as he twisted what appeared to be a small, silver hairpin in his fingers. “What happened?” he asked.
“Well, she got hurt; Phil and I were trying to cheer her up. Apparently, Phil caught on to the fact that I lo -- like! That I like Airy, so he kissed her.”
“I see…” War chuckled. “All against you, wasn’t he? Not very nice of him, was it?”
“No, not at all.”
“Did Airy suspect anything? Your feelings? His treachery?”
“No, she can’t know what he’s really like.”
“Wouldn't you want beautiful little Airy for yourself?”
“Yes,” he snarled angrily.
Mia paced back and forth across the dusty room, pulling her cloak tightly around her shoulders. Firmly, she rubbed her upper arms. Glancing across the room, she saw Jesse huddling in a corner behind Zelda (still tied to a chair), a tattered blanket over his shoulders. Ana sat beside him in a stunning mink she had conjured for herself. The two of them stared straight ahead, watching the poor princess with keen interest.
, meanwhile, sat by the window, looking out as the moon began to disappear. He alone seemed unaffected by the chilly gusts that swept through the room. Aden
“It’s freezing!” Ana pronounced loudly for what must have been the tenth time in the last five minutes.
“It’s always coldest right before the sunrise,”
told her wisely. Aden
“You should talk,” Ana scoffed. “You’re from a tropical island. You should be colder than the rest of us.” Jesse laughed silently beside her.
merely shrugged his slender shoulders, glancing out the window again. “Maybe,” he muttered. Aden
Mia sighed, plopping herself down on another crate. “I wish the sun would rise,” she intoned evenly.
“It always does,”
remarked. “Eventually.” He looked over at Mia, shivering on her packing crate. Gallantly, he removed the light blue cape from around his neck and walked up behind her, resting it on her shoulders. Aden
She turned to him with a small smile. “Thanks.”
The door opened and Tranns walked into the room, holding a leather pouch in one fist. “Found something,” she said through chattering teeth.
Ana leaned over and picked up a rather large dust bunny. “Look, I found something too!” she smirked in triumph.
Tranns knocked her fists together then opened the sack. “Some Ember Seeds,” she said.
Immediately, Ana shot up out of her seat. “Give me!” she cried lunging for the bag.
Quickly, Tranns held it up over her head, just out of Ana’s reach. “Now I’m popular,” she sneered. With a small laugh, she reached into the bag and removed two seeds, handing them to Ana. Adriana took them, placing one in each hand and squeezed her fists tightly, groaning with satisfaction as the warmth spread through her body.
“How much longer until sunrise?” Mia asked, accepting a pair of seeds herself, which she happily squeezed.
“It shouldn’t be long,” Tranns supposed.
In his corner, Jesse scribbled out, “About half an hour,” on his ever-constant pad of paper. He stood up, waving the pad in the air until everyone turned and acknowledged it.
Tranns finished doling out the seeds to all the Guardians except for
who politely declined. She turned to Zelda. “Are you cold, Princess?” Zelda defiantly turned her to one side, refusing to even look at Tranns. Still, it was obvious to everyone that she was indeed shivering. Gently, Tranns walked over to Zelda and pried open her hand, placing an Ember Seed in her palm and then closing her fingers over it. Aden
“Let it be known,” Ana pronounced sarcastically, “that we are humane kidnappers of princesses.” Everyone in the room glared at her for a moment, banging their fists together. “Just seeking some levity,” she shrugged.
“That’s a big word for you, Ana,” Tranns quipped.
“I know some bigger ones.”
diffused the situation. “The last thing we need right now is to fight amongst ourselves.” Aden
“We’re not doing anything,” Tranns muttered. “That’s the problem.”
“I have to agree,” Mia added. “We should be doing more research or something. We’re losing time.”
sighed poetically. Aden
,” Tranns moaned, “no sonnets today.” Aden
“The thought never crossed my mind.”
Ana was looking down at her fists. “I think these things are defective,” she said loudly.
looked over at her. “What do you mean?” Aden
“I’m still freezing.”
Mia scowled. “Me too.” Jesse nodded from across the room.
Tranns stared at the sack of Ember Seeds. Finally, after sighting heavily, she nodded, “Yeah…me too.”
Although she said nothing, it became obvious that Zelda was the one suffering most of all. Everyone turned to glance at her. She was shivering violently in her chair, causing the legs to rattle against the floor noisily. There wasn’t a single part of her anatomy that didn’t quiver. Her teeth even chattered, though they could see she was putting a great deal of effort into silencing them.
“Something isn’t right,” Mia whispered.
A bright flash of green light filled the room, emanating from the corner opposite of Jesse. The Guardians shielded their eyes, though
and Jesse both drew their swords while Tranns reached for her daggers. The light faded, green mists drifting up through the ceiling and into oblivion. In the corner was a Hylian girl, holding her palms out slightly. Aden
“Amorette!” Mia cried in shock.
Ana bounded across the room, throwing her arms around Amorette’s neck in a great, big hug. “I thought we’d never see you again!”
Amorette stiffened, gently pulling back from Ana. It quickly became obvious that she too was suffering from the terrible cold in the room. She glanced from Ana to the other Guardians to Zelda, tied to her chair. “It’s a long story,”
told her, following her gaze. Aden
“We kidnapped the Princess,” Tranns said.
“It’s a short story,”
“Where’s Phil?” Amorette asked, stepping out of the corner, her sword hitting against her thigh.
“He’s seeing to Airy right now,” Mia told her. “We can’t thank you enough for saving her life.”
“You shouldn’t be here,”
said to her. “What will happen if War notices you’re absent? He’ll try to find you.” Aden
“That’s why I came,” Amorette explained. “War’s gone out to look for you guys.”
“And?” Ana prompted her.
“He planted a tracking device on Ariadne.”
“Oh no…” Mia whispered.
“A tracking device?” Tranns repeated incredulously. “What do you mean a tracking device?”
“A magical apparatus that allows him to see and hear everything Ariadne sees or hears.”
“That’s bad,” Ana said. “That’s very bad.”
“He’s going to find us no matter what,” Mia lamented.
“Do you have any idea what this device looks like?”
addressed Amorette seriously. Aden
“No,” she replied, shaking her head. “I only knew it existed when War told me he was going out to look for you and that I was to remain in the warehouse and prepare for more possible hostages.”
“We’ve got to tell Phil,” Tranns said, heading for the door.
“Why is it freezing in here?” Amorette asked.
“That should be obvious.” Tranns stopped, turning around. Everyone else looked at Zelda who had finally spoken.
frowned. “What do you mean, Princess?” Aden
“The cold is being caused by your Gerudo friend.”
Ana’s eyebrows shot up. “Phil? How can Phil be causing the cold? Better yet, why would he be causing the cold?”
“He’s not causing it by magic; he’s simply causing it by being.”
Amorette stared at her blankly. “What?”
Zelda shrugged to the best of her ability. “Hylians always shiver when there’s evil present.”
“Well…” Mia scowled, “That would explain why
isn’t feeling cold.” Aden
“Yeah,” Ana said hotly, “but Phil isn’t evil.”
“He most certainly is not!” Tranns agreed.
Amorette’s eyes went wide. “What is it, Amorette?” Mia asked, noticing her sudden panic.
“He’s here,” Amorette whispered. “War is here.”
“We have to tell Phil,” Tranns said, turning back to the door. She grabbed the doorknob and turned it fiercely, but nothing happened. Frowning, she tried again. She jiggled the knob back and forth, but the door wouldn’t open. “We’re locked in!” she cried.
“That’s not the only problem,”
said, staring out the window. Aden
Ariadne had descended the stairs into the main cantina of the Dancing Knight, insisting that she ‘smelled something.’ Philip followed after her, trying his best to ignore the biting cold creeping into his muscles. “I wish you would elaborate,” he told her, looking around in the darkness.
“I can’t,” she replied.
“Is that how you’ve always been able to detect intruders?” Philip asked. “You can smell them?”
“Andorians have heightened senses,” she explained, peering into the alcove behind the bar.
Philip opened the door to the closet under the stairs, poking his head in before withdrawing again. “Nothing.” He closed the door and walked away from the stairs, over to Ariadne.
She was standing in the middle of the room, looking around with a confused expression on her face. “I don’t understand,” she muttered.
Gently, Philip put his hands on her shoulders. “You’re probably still just in shock from what War did to you.”
“Don’t you dare dismiss my feelings like that, Philip,” she warned him. “Have you ever known me to be wrong?”
He frowned. “No.”
The sound of hollow footsteps interrupted them. Ariadne and Philip looked up to the sound, staring straight up the staircase. At the top of the steps was a dark silhouette which slowly descended, taking each step with a powerful, authoritative air. Finally, the weak, last glimmers of moonlight fell upon a face. Well, it wasn’t a face. It was a mask. Cold, blue eyes glared out of the bark, falling directly on Philip in a hateful, disgruntled way.
“Who are you?” Philip demanded.
The man in the mask chuckled softly. “Wouldn’t you like to know?” he asked sardonically.
Ariadne blinked. “Sito?” She leaned forward, examining the figure. To be certain, he sounded like Sito. He even smelled like Sito, but the way he walked, and the way he demeanor had changed, suggested a different person entirely.
“The name’s Strife,” he replied coolly.
“Strife,” Philip repeated slowly.
“What’s going on here?” Ariadne asked.
Strife laughed, coming to rest on the bottom step. “I was given orders by War to get rid of one of the Guardians, and who better than my rival Phil?”
“War?” Ariadne said evenly. “The man who tried to dissect me.”
“I’m not your rival,” Philip said.
“You are,” Strife replied. “After all, who other than my rival would steal from me that which is most precious?”
“What are you talking about?”
“You stole Ariadne!” Strife bellowed. “You took her from me and for that I’ll have to make you suffer.”
Ariadne’s eyebrow shot up. “Stole me? When was I yours to steal?”
“War is manipulating him,” Philip decided.
“War, has done nothing. Nothing except open my eyes. You knew that I loved Ariadne, Philly. But you wouldn’t let me have anything better than what you had. So you took her.”
“Sito!” Ariadne exclaimed.
“It’s Strife!” he shouted.
She squared her shoulders to face him. “You can't change who you are. The gods know I wish you could, but you can't. We are who we are.”
“But I have changed, Airy,” Strife whispered. “I’m no longer the vulnerable little runt, Sito.”
Philip stepped forward, holding his arms at his sides. “You can change your name, but you're the same stuck up, self involved, spoiled brat you've always been.”
“Shut up!” Strife roared, lunging forward.
Ariadne placed herself in between the two men. “Stop it!”
Strife stopped himself short, before he could punch Ariadne. Philip’s eyebrows shot up. “What is your childhood trauma?” he asked.
Suddenly, Strife roughly seized hold of Ariadne’s shoulders. He threw her off to one side. In a flash, his switchblade was out, pointed at Philip’s throat. “Any last words, Fearless Leader?”
“Just one,” Philip said calmly. He shot his hand forward, grabbing the knife by the blade and pushing it back up. “Immortal.” Strife took a step back, still clutching the handle. Philip stepped forward, twisting the blade slightly. “You, however, are not. Trying to kill me isn't the courageous thing to do, Sito. That's the cowardly thing. The courageous thing to do would have been to come talk to me.”
“I have my orders,” he grimaced, still trying to maintain a good grip on his switchblade.
“So you’re working for the people that killed your father. Nice.”
The front door flew open. Philip thrust the blade back with such force that it sent Strife flying across the room. Meanwhile, he turned around just in time to see two boys charge into the Dancing Knight, the future Red Dragon and his friend.
“Where is she?” Link demanded, sweeping the point of his sword across the room. His eyes fell on Philip and so too did the aim of his blade.
“I don’t have time for this,” Philip sighed, looking back at Link.
“Don’t mouth off to me, Gerudo,” he snarled.
Ariadne was on her feet now. “This is not a Gerudo encampment,” she said diplomatically. “There’s been some sort of mistake.”
“No mistake,” Link replied. “We know you’re holding Princess Zelda against her will and we know that Ganondorf is here.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Philip muttered.
Strife laughed, clambering back to his feet. “Well this makes things interesting, doesn’t it?”
, who was standing against the wall, out of the way, frowned, eyeing him. “Your voice sounds familiar,” he said. Tulsa
Ignoring him, Strife continued. “Looks like Link is mistaking you for dear old dad, Philly.”
“Shut up,” Philip barked.
“Listen, Ganondorf…Philly…Dragmire…whoever you are!” Link shouted. “Tell me where Zelda is!”
asked carefully, squinting to look at Strife. “Is that you?” Tulsa
“The name is Strife!” he roared. “I have something I’ve wanted to give you for a long time, pacifist!” With that, he began to race in
’s direction. Tulsa
It was difficult to see what happened next. Only Ariadne, with her enhanced senses, clearly made out the situation. As Strife charged forward at
, his fist pulled back to strike, Philip turned to watch. Link took advantage of Phil letting his guard down to advance, aiming the sword for Philip’s back. Ariadne called out Phil’s name and he quickly turned around, swinging a powerful arm forward to catch Link in the middle. Link stumbled back, both his arms flailing. His left wrist snapped back and there was a mechanical twang. The loaded arrow, hidden under his gauntlet fired, flying over Philip’s shoulder and across the room. Aiming directly at Tulsa , it would have embedded itself between his eyes, had not Strife, at that very instant, landed his punch. The arrow instead impaled Strife through the fist. Tulsa
A low rumble sounded in the distance. Everyone seemed to freeze, listening to the call of a sound that was not quite thunder, yet similar at the same time. With a cry of pain, Strife dropped to his knees, holding his injured hand out in front of him. Blood dripped down to the floor from the place where the arrow was still firmly lodged in his skin.
stepped forward, grabbing the mask on Stife’s face. He ripped it off, revealing Sito, who’s eyes were squeezed shut, his mouth contorted with pain. “It is you!” Tulsa exclaimed. “What the bloody hell is going on here?” Tulsa
Philip walked forward, kneeling down at eye level with Sito. Ashamed, the smaller boy looked up to return a gaze. “I’m not going to touch you,” Philip said softly. “I'm above that. But I'm warning you, if you do anything that could even hurt anyone in the slightest, I'll kick your ass from here to Calatia.” He gave Sito a condescending pat on the head and stood up again.
A loud crash echoed from above. Everyone turned to look up at the staircase as a loud rumbling of footsteps came from the upstairs hall. A stream of people came flooding down the stairs: Ana was first, followed closely behind by Jesse, then Mia and
. “Phil!” Mia shouted, “Someone broke into the room upstairs. He’s fighting Tranns for the Princess!” Aden
supplied. Indeed, as everyone looked around they realized that Link was absent from the scene. Tulsa
“Go,” Ariadne called to Philip. He nodded and raced up the stairs.
“What happened down here?” Ana asked, looking at Sito on the floor, clutching his hand. Mia saw her brother in pain and raced over to him, kneeling on the floor. Gently, she took his hand and cracked the arrow, pulling both halves out of his skin.
“A bloody fight is what happened down here,”
said. “Link nearly killed me.” Tulsa
“You call that a fight?” Everyone looked at the front door. Leaning against the doorframe was War, his helmet back on his head.
“You again, War?” Ana sighed.
War ignored her, turning to Ariadne. “Hello again, pretty Airy.”
“Leave her alone!” Sito suddenly roared, jumping to his feet.
With a bored air, War glanced over at Sito. “Changed sides again?”
Sito walked over to Jesse, yanking his brother’s sword from his hands. “Jesse, get them out of here. I've got a score to settle with him.” He turned around, pointing the sword at War. “Two words buddy. Shut. Up.”
Mia returned to the others. “Should we get out of here?” she asked softly.
“I’m not abandoning my teammates here,” Ariadne said firmly.
“Me neither,” Ana chirped. Jesse nodded in agreement.
War had turned his attention to Sito. “You were much more agreeable when you were running away.”
“I’m not running anymore.”
“That's good. You can't deny in part it's thanks to me.”
“No thanks to you! You made me hurt my friends!”
War laughed a little bit. “I did,” he said proudly. “But now you aren't sniffling and complaining.”
Sito swung Jesse’s sword forward, hitting War’s armor over his left rib with a loud clang. “That’s for Airy!”
Floating forward, War shoved Sito roughly, pushing him back several paces. The other Guardians braced themselves to charge, but then War pulled back. “How much do you know about your little friend Ariadne?”
Sito glared at him. “As much as she wants to tell me.”
“Any idea why she was put on your little team?”
Ariadne clenched her fists as Sito responded, “No, but I'd rather have her tell me than you!”
“I'd rather you all died, but I'm not going to get that, am I?”
Grunting, Sito swung the sword sloppily at War. The ogre of a man backed up, his armor clanking. “Now who’s on the run?” Sito asked with a cocky grin.
“You know,” War drawled, “I'm sure she feels attached to this place somewhat.”
“You have no idea what you’re saying,” Ariadne said quietly.
War turned to her. “I don’t?” Sito slashed at him again. War side stepped the blow, still focused on Ariadne. “Perhaps I don't, but if you're not going to tell them an important fact about yourself, I will!”
As Ariadne’s eyes widened, Sito shouted, “I thought I told you to shut up!”
Ignoring him, War addressed the other Guardians. “Surely it’s obvious to all of you that Ariadne is a little more than secretive.”
“Stop it…” Ariadne pleaded helplessly. The others, for their own part, couldn’t find an argument.
“Shut up!” Sito screamed, thrusting the blade at War.
Easily parrying with his wrist guard, War chuckled. “Oh, the heroic Sito. Seems he really wants to clear his name.”
War reached out, clamping his right hand around Sito’s throat. He hefted him clean off the ground, causing him to drop the sword in his hand. “Go to sleep, brat,” he said, firmly planting his other hand over Sito’s mouth and nose.
“Sito!” Mia screamed.
Ariadne ran across the room, grabbing the sword. Grunting, she took a swing at the back of War’s knees, where the armor seemed thinnest. Jesse’s sword sliced through the metal, cutting into War’s skin. He dropped Sito, falling down to the ground. Swiftly, Ariadne placed the tip of the sword on the back of War’s neck. Jesse rushed over to Sito’s side and the other Guardians gathered around. “How does it feel when the positions are reversed?” Ariadne asked coldly.
“When you're on the ouch end of a pointy object!” Ana shouted.
“Sito…wake up…” Mia muttered, joining Jesse on the floor.
War shook his head. “It feels the same to me, girl...Well, Ariadne, are you going to tell them?”
“Shut up,” she said icily, driving the tip of the sword a little bit deeper into War’s neck.
Ana looked at Mia. “Mia, you're the highest ranking person here. What do we do with this?” She jerked her head in War’s direction.
“Tie him up,” Mia supposed. “See if we can get information out of him regarding the Red Dragon’s rise. Or anything else useful.”
“I'm not sure we'll want the information he has to give,” Ariadne whispered quietly.
“We have an additional problem,” Ana commented, looking up at
The confused boy held his hands up. “Don’t look at me,” he said hastily. “I just came here with the Hero. I don’t know what’s going on.”
“Who are you?” Mia asked.
“His name is
,” Sito supplied weakly, coughing a bit. “He’s a pacifist, he won’t hurt us.” Tulsa
“I’m not a pacifist!”
War slowly straightened himself out, his neck still pushing against the blade. “Ariadne…” he said slowly, “is a demon.”
Ariadne dropped the sword. Her eyes going wide as saucers, she stumbled backwards. “No…” she muttered to herself, shaking her head from side to side. “No, no, no…”
“She's not human at all.”
“You’re the only demon here, War,”
said icily. Aden
looked at Tulsa , looked away then did a double take. “Hey! You do speak Common!” Aden
War started laughing. He fell over onto his back, chortling loudly, the laughter echoing in his iron helmet. “You’re mad,” Sito whispered, staring at War.
“Perhaps,” War chuckled.
Mia looked over at Ariadne. “What’s he talking about?”
“An...Andorian...Demon...still around...” War struggled to get words out from in between his laughs.
“I’ll never be an aunt now!” Ana lamented, throwing her arms up.
“Ana, now is not the time to complain about the physiology of your brother’s girlfriend while there’s a mad man in our midst,”
War sat up, all laughter stopping at once. “I’m also mad as in angry. Perhaps I’ll kill you to calm my nerves.” He tried to stand up, but weakened by the loss of blood, along with the pain in the back of his knees from Ariadne’s blow, he fell back onto his hands.
“Serves you right,” Sito coughed, getting to his feet with the help of his brother and sister.
Slowly, War started to crawl toward Ariadne, moving with a trancelike quality. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” At the top of the stairs was Philip. He stood with Link in front of him, one of Tranns’ daggers tightly held in his hand, now pressed against Link’s throat.
War stopped crawling, turning to watch. Philip carefully made his way down the stairs, pulling Link along with him. “That’s what I thought,” he said coolly, “you won’t go so far as to risk the life of your future master.”
Suddenly, Sito let out a war cry. He had picked up the fallen sword and now held it in both hands, over his head. With savage rage, he slammed the weapon down, driving it in between War’s shoulders, straight through the armor. There were no last words, no glorious final threats. War dropped dead on impact.
Philip finished dragging Link down the stairs. The Hylian Hero had a thoroughly confused expression on his face. “What are you talking about?” he asked, still struggling against Philip’s firm hold.
“We’re not evil,” Philip said. “We’re from another time and another place and we’ve come here to stop something bad from happening. That man you see on the floor, he was going to kill your Princess. That’s why we kidnapped her, to protect her.” He released Link then turned to the stairs. “Amorette! Tranns!” he called.
Amorette immediately appeared at the top of the steps. She gasped, running down as fast as she could. “That’s him!” she said, pointing excitedly at
“What about him?” Ana questioned.
“He’s the one, the trigger that gives rise to the Red Dragon.”
“The pacifist?” Sito inquired.
“The day the Red Dragon rose was the same day that he murdered his best friend.”
“Who’s the Red Dragon?” Link demanded in frustration.
“You!” all of the Guardians shouted at the same time.
“Me?” Link stared at them in surprise. “I would never murder
“Wait a second,” Philip held up his hand. “I’m not so sure.” He turned to Amorette. “How was the corpse found?”
Amorette shrugged. “With an arrow in between the eyes.”
“We did it,” Philip said softly.
“We did what?” Ana asked.
“We stopped the Red Dragon’s rise.”
Philip moved around exciting, illustrating his story. “Link was attacking me and I hit him in the stomach. He fell backward and an arrow came out of his gauntlet. It would have hit
exactly in the forehead, but Sito got in the way.” Tulsa
“That’s why there was an arrow in your hand!” Mia exclaimed, grabbing Sito’s shoulder proudly.
looked a little bit faint. Ana glanced at him. “Oh relax,” she muttered, “you aren’t dead.” Tulsa
“Somehow I don’t feel like that’s the case,” he replied.
!” Tranns was at the top of the stairs. Beside her was Zelda, being held firmly with her arms behind her back. Tulsa
“Zelda!” Link shouted, running to the bottom step.
“Release her, Tranns,” Philip ordered.
At once, Tranns let go of Zelda’s arms. Zelda ran down the stairs and Link took her hand, pulling her over to the corner with
. The three of them stood huddled together, watching the Guardians. “Do you understand any of this, Link?” she asked him. Tulsa
“No,” he replied honestly.
? Do you?” Tulsa
shrugged slightly. “The big one in charge is Philip Dragmire. That one is Sito who’s in love with the one in the corner who’s a demon. That one with the brown hair doesn’t say much of anything and the dead guy was evil.” Tulsa
“You’re wrong on two accounts,” Sito said.
“Which two did I miss?”
Sito pointed to Philip. “That is not Philip Dragmire. His name is Philip Summer.”
“That’s one account,”
ticked off. Tulsa
“What’s the other?” Zelda questioned.
Philip looked at Ariadne. “She’s no demon,” he said softly. Carefully, he walked over to Ariadne who was still huddling in a corner. He extended his hand in her direction. For a moment, she watched his hand before gingerly placing hers inside of it.
“She’s Andorian,” Sito said.
Philip led Ariadne back to the rest of the group. She looked up at them in amazement. “You…you’re not afraid of me?”
Tranns sauntered down the stairs, swinging her arms casually. “Afraid of a little thing like you? Yeah right.”
“Who’d be afraid of Ariadne?”
inquired, looking around. Aden
“I for one,” Ana said haughtily, “never get afraid of my own friends.”
“Me neither,” Mia agreed. Beside her Jesse nodded.
A thin thread of white light suddenly appeared, hovering in the air on the far side of the room. With a gust of wind accompanying it, the thread began to expand, opening like a mouth. Purple and blue streaks appeared as the light took the form of a doorway. “That’s it,” Ana whispered, “That’s the bubble.”
“Where do we go from here?” Tranns asked.
“I don’t know,” Ana replied.
“Oblivion,” Sito supposed.
“Then I think,” Tranns drawled, “that it will be our greatest adventure of them all.”
Amorette looked at the rest of them. “I’m ready to start.” Without another backward glance, she turned to the glowing doorway and walked to it, allowing herself to become enveloped in the light. Her entire body glowed for a moment, then became a silhouette, then vanished into nothingness.
Sito licked his lips. He began to walk to the portal. Stopping at the entrance, he turned to face Ariadne, then Philip. With a tight, morbid smile, he turned his head away from them and walked through, “no regrets” echoing behind him.
Ana was next. She walked first to Link,
, and Zelda, careful to remain a respectable distance from them. “Try to be good,” she said, looking at Link. “Try not to kill people.” As she started for the portal, Jesse came to her side. She glanced up at him and smiled slightly, squeezing his hand. Together, the two of them entered. Tulsa
Mia kicked War’s head, the helmet ringing loudly. “Mia,”
scolded her, “he’s down.” Aden
“I know,” she said looking up at him. “I know.” Her face wrinkled up and she burst into tears. Tenderly,
draped his arm over her shoulders. He steered her to the yawning bubble and they entered. Aden
“My turn,” Tranns muttered. She squared her shoulders proudly and marched to the light. Just as she was about to enter, she turned around and walked back over to Philip, holding out her hand, palm up. Grinning, Philip placed her missing dagger in her hand. She ducked her head once, stuck the dagger into her boot, and ran, plunging herself headfirst into the opening.
“And then there were two,”
muttered dryly, watching Ariadne and Philip who still remained. Tulsa
Ariadne turned to look at Philip. She rose on her tip toes, caressing his face. “Are you ready?” she asked.
He shook his head. “No.”
She leaned forward, kissing him gently. When she pulled away, her eyes were glossy, but she smiled. “Everything you have ever done has led to this. Perhaps you were not made for times like these. Then again, perhaps you will go where I will be waiting.”
Philip placed his hand over hers. “I will see you again,” he promised her. “We will be together.”
Ariadne nodded. After a long pause, she turned around and began to walk to the portal. At the threshold, she held her arms at her sides and let her head fall back. As she entered the abyss, Philip could just see her hair turn light blue, almost white, and her hands turn pale green. And then she was gone.
Fighting to suppress everything he was feeling, Philip addressed the trio huddled in the corner. He made eye contact with each and every one of them before slowly trudging to the portal, going out of his way to walk over War’s body. When he entered, a great wave of light poured out of the rip, filling the entire space. Link,
, and Zelda shielded their eyes, closing them tightly until the light faded away. Tulsa
The Dancing Knight seemed different somehow. War’s body was gone and the sun was peeking over the horizon, pouring several golden rays of light into the cramped space. No trace seemed to remain of the Guardians, not even the blood from Sito’s hand that had stained the two halves of Link’s arrow.
“What happened?” Zelda asked slowly, looking from
to Link then back again. Tulsa
“I don’t know,”
“Whoever they were,” Zelda muttered, “they saved us from what must have been an awful future.”
“A future without me,”
quipped. “Honestly, how could anyone survive in this world without me?” Tulsa
Link laughed, clapping
on the back. “It would be a quiet world,” he teased. Tulsa
“I think I’ve just been insulted!”
scoffed. “Beware, Red Dragon, I’m the one that keeps you sane.” Tulsa
“Insane is more like it,” Link shot back. “Any sane and rational person would murder you!”
As the two of them began to air box, playfully insulting each other, Zelda stepped away, moving to the space where the light doorway had been. With great ceremony and respect, she held her hands out in front of her, touching her index fingers and thumbs together to form the shape of a triangle. She gave their departed saviors this Hylian salute. Once that was done, she turned around, smiling as she watched Link and
having fun. Tulsa
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