The Highway Man

By TeenGeezer

Chapter One

Many years ago, before the Hero of Time had yet come to acquit the great wars of Hyrule's malignant quest for infinitely more power, the sun rose slowly over the broad Hyrule Field. Its gentle light, which would usually stir any creature it would touch, appeared to this time fail in its mission. All knew what the sun would bring today, and had already hidden themselves out of its sight. Not even a single cucco was there to crow upon its arrival. All the usual inhabitants of the field had been replaced by two great black armies, which marched ever onward from opposite directions towards the center of the field, each soldier on both sides having already made his amends to the Goddesses, knowing full well that he was likely going to die before he would ever see the sun arise again.

However, a lone figure had already been waiting for some time at the appointed place for the bloody conflict, and was able to watch the both armies simultaneously from afar, as they continued to march towards what they held as their destiny, as grim as it might have been. The figure knelt atop a nearby cliff, silently pondering a thousand things at once as he kept careful watch over the oncoming armies. He was covered closely in the dark blue cloak and attire of a highwayman, large, loose and weather-torn, with heavy leather boots to shield his weary feet from the back of the earth. Atop his head he wore a tall, broad-brimmed hat, which totally immersed his all of his face not covered by the cloak in a pitch black shadow. Nothing at all could be seen of that face but a mysterious, large, luminous red eye that stared out at the field and the stillness it contained, never blinking or squinting, but remaining constantly on the watch. In his hands, which were wrapped in a type of white gauze, he held a lengthy wooden staff, as long as he was tall. Deeply carved into it, bottom to top, were ancient runic Hylian letters, their meaning long forgotten to all present habitants of Hyrule. On his thick belt hung a simple yet well-made golden lantern, but with no light burning inside of it. This lone observer continued to watch the armies march ever closer towards him, and continued to keep himself silent.

Suddenly above his head appeared seven flickering flames, each one small enough to fit in one's hand, floating in midair and showing no signs of ever extinguishing. Each contained the hue of one of the seven principle colors, save one; there was a crimson red, an orange and a bright yellow, a green much like the surrounding grass, a blue resembling the nearby river, and also a deep violet. A bright pink flame stood out from them all, but in spite of all this, the cloaked figure below them hardly took notice of their arrival. He was busy trying to remember the past, and how he had become what he now was, and what he was about to do and how he was to accomplish it...his mind wended its way back to the time when he was but a small child, wandering all about Hyrule searching for something worth finding...

Chapter Two

It was near noon already, and the young child continued to sleep with the sun full upon his face; however, he had no dreams to fill his mind; he would never dream, and he didn't know what a dream was or that dreams even existed at all. At this time, though, his stomach began to rumble, and the boy was forced to arouse himself. He let out a lazy yawn and stretched his arms towards the blue sky above him. The child was about ten years of age, with brown sunburnt hair, knotted and overgrown. He wore naught but a torn shirt and a loose pair of pants, both made of white cloth, but also dirty and wrinkled. His eyes had no luster to them, and his nose was blunt and unattractive. His mouth curled downwards into a slight frown, and he stood himself up upon his rough, bare feet and walked to the nearby Zora's River, which he had fallen asleep next to the night before.

The child would subsist mainly upon any edible vegetation he could find out in Hyrule Field or anyplace else nearby he would wander to, although occasionally he would be able to spot a fish in the river and use a pointed stick to spear it. He would always enjoy making a fire with two sticks and grilling his prize before he would snarf it greedily down. Kneeling near the bank but seeing no fish today, the boy now walked a short distance past the end of the river, and knowing he'd already eaten all edible vegetables around there, now kept watch for uncautious travelers coming to or from the nearby castle whom he could easily steal some food from. Even without a home or a family to teach him thus, the boy always tried his best to avoid stealing his food unless he absolutely had to, seeing the displeasure it always caused his victims. Seeing them as such would always make his stomach act up too much for him to be able to eat anything at all, so he tried to get his food by more honest methods most of the time. Nevertheless, the boy waited for any with food to spare to pass by his hiding spot, and he waited for hours on end. To his dismay, the gates of the castle remained shut tight all day, and not even one person entered or left the castle town the entire time. His frown even more obvious by now, the boy now went to his last resort for food; a plump pale-skinned man that would always sit near a bend in Zora's River.

The child took a deep breath, jumped into the river a ways before the adult could see him, and let the cold current carry him underwater to a point past the man's back before he surfaced and climbed back onto dry ground. All the odd man would ever have with him was a small bag of beans, and they weren't even incredibly tasty, from the boy's standpoint. However, those particular beans had an unusual quality in that eating just one or two would provide enough nourishment for at least a day; the man always ate handfuls at a time, however, and had grown quite rotund from his habit. As the milky-skinned butterball continued eating, the boy watched intently from behind a nearby gate, coiled like a spring, waiting patiently for the right opportunity to grab a precious bean. Before long, the man carelessly flung a bean high into the air with his thumb, closed his eyes, and opened his mouth wide agape towards the sky. Immediately the boy made a mad dash past the man, grabbing the falling bean in midair, and did not stop his run until he was out of sight. The man waited several seconds for his bean, wondering where it might have gone, and eventually opening his eyes and realizing what had happened, yelled loudly, roused himself, and bumbled after the child for a few steps. As usual, though, he soon gave up and sat back down, chomping blissfully on more beans. After all, he would always have more of them than the little thief did, no matter how many times he would lose one; that was all that really mattered.

As the child popped his newly-obtained bean into his mouth a safe distance away, he watched the Hyrulian sun set below the horizon. Gnawing on the rock-hard bean, which would probably take him a good half hour to digest in all while he waited for his usual guilt to wear off, he sat down, relaxed, and thought about what he might want to do tomorrow. Eventually he decided that he would steal several magic beans from the fat man at once and then never bother him again, for he would keep those beans for a trip to Lake Hylia, which supposedly had better fishing than the river did. He wouldn't ever have to steal again if he could make the journey there and find a cave or something like it to stay in. Yes, that would definitely be better living than it was here; no more guilty thoughts, but still more food to eat. Definitely a good trade for a day or two's journey. He'd set off first thing in the morning. Having thus made his plans for the next day, his mind now wandered to a place it often came to and always stayed at; his brief past. The boy often wondered how he had gotten to where he was; he had no memory at all of a mother's or father's face, or even of a name to call himself by; the farthest back he could remember was when he had awoken one day inside of the market in Hyrule Castle Town, perhaps a year or two beforehand. He had immediately hidden himself in the alleys and had survived there for a short time by stealing his sustenance, but the guards eventually caught up with him and he was forced to flee the castle town. After being chased away he had journeyed to the river and had lived there ever since. Any of his life before the time he had woken up in town was a complete blank, though, and the child pondered often if he had even existed at all before that time. It wasn't extremely important to him, though, for in the present, which WAS important, he still had his life and a stomach full of food. He had grown very fast and quite strong and independent for a child by being forced to support himself, but nevertheless he would often imagine what it would be like to have a friend, or a mother to come home to. Oftentimes he would confuse himself over why he would even have these desires at all, for he'd never needed either one of those things beforehand. All of this thought tired the child out, and having finally finished off the bean, he fell asleep near the bank of the river, and quietly inhaled and exhaled the air of another dreamless night.

Chapter Three

The boy arose far earlier than usual the next morning, and gave an even louder, more gaping yawn than usual. Out of habit he headed straight for the river, and splashed some of the cold, fresh water upon his face. He was fully awake in a jolt, and his eyes opened as wide as they could stretch, with a "Brrrrrr!" from his lips to emphasize his displeasure. Involuntarily looking down at his reflection in the river, he was startled to see something unusual in the rippling water; a woman's face, with lovely features and a glowing complexion stared back at him, with a non-threatening but stern look upon her lovely face. As the startled child gaped at the image, he shook his head quickly, took another look, and naught was left to see but his own face staring bewildered back at him.

Sporting a quizzical countenance but dismissing the face as nothing more than the remnants of his sleepiness, the child now headed towards the pale man to make his final robbery before he set off. Approaching cautiously at first, he noticed as he rounded the first bend of the river that the man was still sound asleep. Happily jogging over to him and smiling brightly on account of his good fortune, the boy quietly undid the string holding the man's pouch closed and grabbed five beans, imagining that they would be plenty for the journey to Lake Hylia. As he held the beans tightly in his hand and looked at the fat man, sleeping, innocent and unaware of all that had been happening, the boy felt even more guilty than usual, and wished he could somehow repay the man for the many meals that the chubby one had supplied to him, although each time had been an unwilling donation. Not wanting to delay his journey for too long, though, he wondered what he could possibly leave for the man, and in a hurry. Looking hastily around, he noticed some pretty white flowers nearby. He thought for a moment about picking some for his beneficiary, but looking back at the man he thought of a better idea; why just give him a few flowers when he could have as many as he might ever want? Noticing a long stick, a good deal longer than he was tall, floating by in the river, he quickly salvaged it and began to use it to dig up a small patch of ground right next to the sleeping man, who remained as such. After he had tilled the soil and had made it soft and suitable for bean planting (after all, the man always had plenty of beans to spare), he wondered how he might let the man know what the soil was for; he couldn't leave a note or the like, since he had never learned to read or write. Looking out at the field which beckoned to him, and back at the man, who was beginning to noisily stir, the boy quickly ran over to the side of the dirt patch and with the end of the stick scratched a rough picture of a flower in the dirt, and poked a small hole in the center of the patch. Giving a quick smile and nod of thanks to the man, the boy, now holding the stick in one hand and the beans in the other, rushed off in the direction of Lake Hylia, over the endless expanse of Hyrule Field.

Chapter Four

For several days the boy continued wandering across the vast plain, using his newfound long stick to fend off any mean-spirited peahats or stalchildren that decided to aggress him, and he would eat a bean a day to keep himself going. Something worried him, though; in the distance he could always hear an unusual commotion, and with each passing day he seemed to draw closer to the source of the din. The sounds frightened him, as they were unfamiliar and loud, ringing in his ears each time they would reveal themselves, causing him to clutch his beans and his stick a little more tightly each time. As the boy wandered on day after day with no signs of the lake in sight, he became worried that his bean supply might soon run out, since he had thus far eaten four of his five and had no idea how much farther he had yet to travel. Perhaps he had taken a wrong turn, or maybe the journey was simply longer than he had predicted. Not sure what to do next in either case, he could accomplish naught in any given day except for more wandering, and the fact that no possible sources of food were ever seen was no help to his morale.

That night the boy, afraid, exhausted, and alone in the middle of nowhere, sat down after it had gotten dark and the moon had risen to remedy the situation. Refraining from eating his last precious bean, though, knowing it would be needed for tomorrow, the child tried to get himself to sleep early, figuring that he could get more walking in the next day if he were to wake up sooner. So he curled himself upon the ground and closed his eyes, in an attempt to get some rest. No sooner had he done so, though, than in the distance the clear, chilling howl of a wolf could be heard, and closer by he could also hear the chirps of insects and the rustling of unknowns in the bushes. Immediately opening his eyes, which were filled to the brim with fear, he snatched up his stick and held it tight and close, peering back and forth around him wildly. He had always been alone, as far back as he could remember, in any case, but he also could not remember any time in his life when he had been so afraid as he was then. He wondered how he could possibly even feel as he did. Confused and nerves shot, the boy could think of naught but to look up at the friendly, familiar stars, and the bright moon, his only friends. After staring for a time, panting of fear the entire while, thoughts of his pleasant times at the river entered back into his head, and all of the occasions upon which he had quietly considered his past along with them. These thoughts gently calmed the boy, and eventually, with his memories there to sing him lullabys, he laid upon his back and watched the sky fade as he closed his eyes and slipped willingly into unconsciousness.

No sooner had he become as such, though, than the moon above, usually full all year round in Hyrule, began to wane; a black crescent bagan to slowly engulf a sliver of the moon. Soon it had half, then nearly all of it, until the entire celestial body had been turned black, even darker than the rest of the sky around it. However, the night still remained as bright as if the moon's light still showed normally upon it, so anybody who was still awake at that hour in the entire land didn't even take notice. The inky moon seemed to keep an eerie watch over the sleeping lad, who had not arisen, but snored peacefully away, with the mysterious moon directly above his head.

Not far away, a young man named Talon was up late, caring for his small ranch, which he planned upon renovating as soon as his wife had finished carrying their child and all of them were able to settle down. Tiptoeing quietly into his wife's room, he looked at her face, kindly and peaceful, asleep in the moonlight, and he couldn't help but form a smile beneath his thick mustache. Placing his stout hand gently upon her delicate one, he thought of how prosperous his ranch would someday be, and how happy he and his family would be, and how he would someday hire a farmhand, and how even this one would be happy, perhaps even happier than the rest. His nocturnal daydreams were suddenly shattered, though, by a crimson flash through the window. Hurrying to see what had happened, looking outside he could hardly believe his eyes; the moon had not only turned totally black, but it had grown a huge, hideous, round red eye in the center of it! Talon gasped in fear, covering his mouth to avoid awakening his wife. His fear immediately escalated as the eye slowly began to move: it was looking around. And it was looking for something. Talon was terrified. It moved slightly to the left, then to the right, and when it would cross the window he would duck quickly, fearing it might see him. Cautiously peering up through the window again, his knees and teeth chattering furiously, he saw the eye now look downward, and finally stop moving. It had at last found what it was looking for. At this the eye began to grow larger, and before the poor rancher could blink, a ray of pure white light shot straight down from the eye to the earth below, and hit a short distance from the ranch. At this Talon heard a scream from not far away. Thinking his family to be in danger from the light, Talon closed his eyes, spread his arms outward and threw himself over his wife and unborn child to protect them. He waited for the horrors to come, whatever they were, shivering, for quite awhile, and after he could finally muster the courage to do so, opened one eye. The room seemed untouched and empty, except for himself, his wife, and his unborn child. He opened the other. His wife and her passenger were still peacefully sound asleep. Alert and tense, Talon tiptoed to the window again, only to look outside and see the moon as full and bright as it had ever been, without a red eye or a focused beam of light or anything else unusual about it at all. Scratching his head, Talon wondered if he had dreamed the whole thing up; perhaps he was too nervous about his wife. Yes, that was it; he had been sleepwalking out of overwork and under-rest, and the whole incident with the moon had been nothing but a lousy dream. In a cold sweat, Talon took one last look at his wife to make sure that she was alright, and confirming this he then walked back to his bed and uneasily settled himself "back" to sleep.

That ray of light had shone directly upon the boy asleep in the middle of Hyrule Field, but it had failed to awaken him. As soon as the eye in the moon had found him, the boy had begun to dream for the first time in his life; He found himself standing in the middle of a great, black, empty void, and in front of him suddenly appeared a great red eye, glaring unmistakably straight at him. With a scream, the boy attempted to run away from it, but wherever he would run to, the eye would remain in front of him, continuously staring him straight in the face and through his very heart and mind. After a few futile attempted escapes, the boy gave up and collapsed upon the empty ground, tears of desperation in his eyes. Sobbing, trying to hold in his fears, he stared below him and could see naught but pure blackness, and his two hands resting upon the top of it. For some reason that he could not comprehend, this hopeless sight tore down the boy's resistance and he gave a loud, wailing cry, tears streaming down his face. This was the first occasion upon which he could ever remember crying, and he didn't like it one bit; yet he was powerless to stop it all from happening. He helplessly cried for several minutes, staring straight at the emptiness below him, hating every second of the experience. Suddenly, though, an unknown yet strangely familiar woman's voice was heard; "Arise, thou hast proven thyself," it coaxed him gently. "Thou hast done well, and art a pleasant child to me...thou shalt be the one to serve mine purpose," the voice encouraged. At hearing this the boy noticed a faint glow radiating in front of him. Slowly raising his face up to see where the eye had been, the boy found that it had been replaced by the woman whom he had seen days earlier in the river. His flooded eyes opened wide, as did his gaping mouth, as he stared at her. She was the same as she had been before, lovely, clad in a long flowing garment, but so luminous that it was difficult to make out many of her features. After but a second or two, the boy was forced to look away from her or be blinded by her radiance, and as the light emitted from the woman grew stronger and stronger, he closed his eyes tighter and tighter. Faintly he could hear her speak to him once more; "Thou shalt find mine purpose, and thine as well...I shall see you again, child...continue to prove thyself!"

When the boy was next able to open his eyes, he found himself back in the middle of Hyrule Field, on the spot where he had fallen asleep, just an instant in time after he had begun dreaming. Running his hands over his face to make sure that he was unharmed, he found that he was not hurt, but he also felt the remnants of tear streams upon his cheeks. Now in desperate search of something to quiet his fears, he looked for his familiar friends in the sky, but as he slowly raised his eyes up he could do nothing except let out a terrified scream; the red eye continued to stare at him from the surface of the shadowy moon, even more menacingly than it had beforehand. The boy quickly smacked himself across the face, but the eye remained, in cold defiance. Within the second, though, it seemingly hypocritically vanished as quickly as it had come, and the moon shone just as it had before. In a terrifying instant the child somehow realized that he could not have dreamed it that time, no matter what the excuse was that he tried to convince himself of. Looking around himself and seeing nothing unusual remaining, he still could not fall back asleep or even bring himself to look up at the sky again that night.

Chapter 5

After a long, sleepless, and excruciatingly frightening night, the sun finally arose again after the moon had set; from the child's viewpoint, it had taken an eternity to do so. He was too tired and afraid to move on at all from the spot where he had sat up all night, but by now he could at least start to think about all that had happened. He repeatedly ran many equally perplexing questions through his head; "Who was that beautiful woman? What was that horrid eye? Are they connected? Could they be? How? What did she mean by her 'purpose,' and mine? Do I know her? Or it? What do I do, to please her now; I wasn't ever aware that I pleased her before!" he thought. No matter how many times he would consider and reconsider what had occurred the previous night, none of it would ever seem to make sense. As he tried once again to think it all through, the sleepless night before finally took its toll upon him and the boy instantly fell sound asleep, exhausted from sheer confusion as much as from lack of rest.

The boy slept for hours, and no dreams were present to bother him this time. However, he still thought that he could yet hear the mysterious woman whispering in his ear. This time she said to him: "Now! Thou art close! Thy final test begins! Awaketh, and see!" Hearing those words, he immediately sat up, wide awake, with a gasp, but looking around himself he again saw no one. What he did see, though, was the sun about to set below the horizon, and the sky above it turning from blue to bright orange. Worriedly and hurriedly standing himself up and quickly grabbing his stick, he immediately ran off blindly in the direction he was facing as fast as he could go, trying frantically to determine how to get to the lake and make up for the precious time he'd lost while he had unknowingly slept. As if to delay him purposely, his stomach growled loudly for attention; to quiet it he popped his last precious bean into his mouth without hesitation, not concerning himself with saving it for the future or even with remembering what the woman had told him seconds before; he couldn't waste time thinking now, he had to simply move, and move fast, or he would never reach his destination before he would perish.

Before he had run for very long, however, the familiar but still horrible commotion that he had heard his entire journey began to sound once again, and this time so loudly that the boy knew that it was not far away; there was no way for him to ignore it this time. Fear gripped him again, and he quickened his already frantic pace. A few seconds later, though, as he reached the top of a small hill, he found that he had not at all escaped from the horrid racket, but had actually happened upon its very origin; at seeing it the boy stopped dead in his tracks and stared horrified at the field in front of him. There were dead corpses of men, women, and horses laid out as far as he could see, and the red light from the sun at that hour shining over the morbid scene only made it seem all the more gruesome. A battle had occurred here, and had apparently gone on for many days straight; the only survivors were one man and one woman, and it seemed that the number would soon be cut in half, as the final pair left over from the battle were from opposite sides of the conflict, and continued to mercilessly attempt to slaughter each other. The man, in the white armor of a Hylian knight, rode upon a white horse, and was swinging his broad sword wildly at the woman, who was leaping and evading nimbly side to side upon the ground and responding to the man's attacks with her halberd. The boy could but watch the madness, his heart seemingly about to explode and his eyes frozen in horror.

Suddenly, the battle took a violent turn; the woman, who was dressed in the purple attire and veil of a Gerudo warrior, made such a vicious slash at the side of the horse the man was riding that with a painful neigh it fell dead instantly; the man, not expecting this, fell clumsily off his dying steed, and rolled a short distance away. Seeing an opportunity, the woman shouted a piercing war shriek to the sky and dashed towards the man straight as an arrow, leaping over the bodies of her fallen comrades and his alike along the way as if they were mere hurdles placed deliberately in her path to slow her progress. The man was prepared, though, for the oncoming assault; he agilely moved aside from the Gerudo's stab at his heart and cleaved her halberd in two with a strong swipe of his blade. Unnerved, she threw the remaining blunt and broken stick at him with a cry, knocking him back a short distance, and without a second thought pulled a now-inactive scimitar from the limp hand of a nearby Gerudo corpse. Brandishing it fiercely and reinstating its original mission, she leapt like a jaguar at the throat of the knight, but he was able to parry the blow a split second before the blade got there. Now arising from the ground, the knight ferociously dueled with the woman for several minutes straight, with neither one ever seeming to gain a clear advantage, until, that is, the Gerudo played her trump card; suddenly leaping back from him several feet, she gave another shriek louder than the first, and made an astronomically high jump into the air, so high that neither the knight nor the observing boy could believe their eyes. With the fierce red sun behind her yet fiercer silhouette she sent a swing even fiercer than that at the knight, and when he readily parried it his efforts were to be of no avail, as her scimitar sliced straight through his sword and cleaved the forged blade clear in two. This so startled the knight that as he stared at the broken hilt he could hardly notice the pain in his chest, where the woman's blade had hit home.

By this the man was forced panting back down to his knees, his hand resting upon the new wound. The Gerudo walked up to him slowly, panting as hard as he was, and pointed the scimitar at his throat. Not yet finishing him off she began to scream at him in fury; "This is just what this horrid war is all about; it's your fault!" she accused him, enraged. "Your people willingly accept the Sheikah as your guardians, letting them bask wantonly in the sacred light of your royal family's Triforce! Yet you leave us, their very neighbors, back in the dust, forced to steal our food to but keep ourselves alive, forced to take up residence in a desert where nothing ever grows, forced to live without any power to do anything!" she continued. "We are all sons and daughters of the Goddesses, but you and all of your people ignorantly and cruelly treat us like common dirt that you have the right and responsibility to tread over and spit upon at your leisure! Well, hopefully THIS will teach you and your accursed people that they and their precious royal guardians are no better than my people or any other; we, the Gerudo, will continue to resist your tyranny until we are able to claim our rightful piece of the Triforce from your blood-drenched hands!" At this she swung back her scimitar and was about to decapitate the soldier, but in that instant he played his own trump card, as he grabbed her ankle and tripped her up. Surprised, she let the precious sword fly out of her hands, and it landed a short distance away, embedding itself into the ground at the boy's feet, although he was too busy watching the two fighters to even notice it. Frantically trying to crawl upon her hands and knees to get it back, her progress was instantly halted by the knight, who retained his grip on her ankle and then leapt on top of her back; the weight of his armor caused her to wail in pain. Grabbing her about the throat, he angrily responded to her taunts; "Your people are nothing but greedy, power-hungry warmongers, and it is YOUR fault that we cannot even safely open the castle town's gates during the daytime anymore! The sacred mission of the knights of Hyrule is to see that you and your savage race do not threaten the innocent people of Hyrule on your barbaric raids for power that your corrupted king sends you upon, and to see that you are returned to your rightful place, you vile slaughterer!" Even while being strangled, the Gerudo was able to scowl in return, out of pure anger and nothing more; "Slaughterers? You dare call us slaughterers?" she countered. "You have shamelessly sent any army you could find, including the Sheikah, after us, threatening their lives and those of their families if they did not do as you pleased! And even they were honorable enough to refuse your murderous mission, yet only a few were able to escape you alive with their loved do not wish to protect anyone at all; you desire only to exterminate us and our children, whatever the cost to the rest of Hyrule, as well!" And the struggle continued on.

The boy, though, still frozen in his place and shivering with terror, did not go completely unnoticed; not with the sword right at his feet, at any rate. The Gerudo girl, looking up towards the hill where he was standing, suddenly noticed him and the precious weapon nearby, the glint of the sun upon her prize. "Kid!" she pleaded to him as loudly as she was able. "Kid, help me! This man is trying to kill me! Give me that sword there! Quickly! Please, kid! Don't let him kill me for no reason but to satisfy his lust for blood!" she begged, with an outstretched hand towards the child. The knight, however, now noticing the child himself, instantaneously retorted, not loosening his grip on the Gerudo's sun-browned throat for a second: "No, child, don't listen to her! She is a shameless liar! If she gets her dirty hands upon that sword, she will kill me with it and then you afterwards! She wishes only her own safety, and no one else's! Don't trust her for a moment, she is a born thief and a born killer!" The child slowly looked down at the curved blade underneath him; it made him shiver simply to see the red glint of the setting sun upon it. More out of fear of angering the maddened pair than anything else, he finally brought himself to pick it up, with a shivering hand.

"Good kid!" shouted the Gerudo, with renewed vigor. "Now, give it here!" And she stretched out her hand even farther towards the boy. "No! No, kid! Don't!" dissuaded the knight, shaking his head violently back and forth, his face pale. "Never, ever trust any Gerudo! She will rob you blind if she doesn't kill you, and she may even kill you first, then pick what she can out of your corpse! She is nothing but a greedy, murderous scoundrel; run away from here quickly, now, child, or she will kill you as well! Leave me here; I may perish, but I'll make sure that she won't come after you or any other innocent, ever again! Don't worry about me! Get away, as far away as you can from here! Just go, kid! GO!" At this the Gerudo girl desperately resumed and redoubled her pleas, and at that the knight shouted even louder and more convincingly for the boy to run away; both continued to yell louder and louder at the petrified child, who could do naught at all but stand, stare, and shiver.

As the child stared helplessly at the deathly scene in front of him, and tried to make sense of the frantic shouts sent his way, he attempted to think as quickly and clearly as he was able to about what would happen were he to obey either one of the suffering screamers in front of him: if he were to give the scimitar to the woman, as she had requested, she would most certainly kill the knight, if not him as well, were he to believe what the knight had told him. If he were to run away, as the knight had commanded him to do, he knew full well that the girl would be strangled to death by the knight, or, were she to escape his grasp, she would be able to kill him with the sword, were she to recover it from him as he fleeted. Whatever he might choose to do, someone would undoubtedly end up dying by his hand; as the child blankly looked around him, he could see the dead corpses of the fallen warriors of both sides of the conflict laying there lifeless upon the red earth, twisted into horribly gruesome positions, as if to commemorate their death throes from not long before. As he helplessly stared on, the sea of bodies around him seemed to spread and engulf the entire field, and him, from all sides. The bodies piled themselves up into huge mounds, and they gruesomely crawled towards him like waves upon the ocean, both skulls and the eyes of more recent corpses glaring menacingly at him, and bones and flesh alike reaching for him in endless numbers; yet the two oblivious survivors continued to unceasingly shout orders and pleas to the boy, even as he continued to observe the vision, a terrifying vision of the remains of war coming to claim him as their own. Terrified, the boy felt tears of fright welling up in his eyes yet again, and he wished only that he could be back at his old river once more, without death or suffering to haunt him and come after him; only a day's food to claim and a past to fantasize about. He suddenly felt a great hatred for the horrid thing called war, and for any who would glorify it, and heartlessly kill another being, only for the gain of himself or his land; the land was everyone's, and had enough in it to support everyone, even the boy knew that, but many apparently could never realize that simple truth, and that many had both killed and died for their misunderstanding, taking countless terrified bystanders with them. The boy looked down at the sword he held with tear-filled eyes, and then as he looked up again to escape its glare, what did he see but the two survivors, still shouting like lunatics at him, with no sign of ever stopping. This sight finally snapped something inside of the child, and in the same instant inspired him to utter the first word he'd ever spoken in his life. Straight up from the deepest part of his soul and his heart the word arose, the command he'd longed to give finally took shape and shattered the early evening sky, as he angrily drove the point of the sword deep into the ground:


Chapter 6

Upon hearing the child suddenly shout this simple yet incredibly powerful command loudly enough to drown out even their noisy and frenzied cries, both of the startled quarrelers immediately silenced themselves, and each one gave an unreserved look of surprised and incredible disbelief to the child. They watched him like a pair of hawks as he stood there upon the hill with the red setting sun to his back and the scimitar driven halfway into the ground at his feet; he panted madly, with tears rolling down his face, a face which contained the most enraged look that either one had ever seen, a horrifying glare frightening enough to have startled any battle-hardened warrior and intent enough to melt stone. Both of the fighters' faces became suddenly confused, even perhaps fearful upon seeing the boy in such a state; neither one could guess what he might try to do next. After a long pause the boy spoke a second time, even more loudly than he had before, and he never again lost the ability to speak ever afterwards, totally regardless of his previous state of muteness:

"Enough! Stop it! Stop it! Look around you! Look at what you've done! Look!" The two startled observers hesitated. "LOOK! NOW!" commanded the child, with a scream that could have awoken the dead, and his eyes burning with a fierce, otherwordly, and all-consuming fire. This time the two did not wait another second to obey. They each took a good long look all around them, and at long last the both of them finally had a chance to look upon all the dead bodies of their comrades. After a second the knight unwillingly loosened his grip upon the woman's throat, but she also hardly seemed to notice it at all; both stared in silence at the field around them, and both of their visages gradually softened. Before long the knight had gotten off of the woman's back and had wandered a short distance off, eventually kneeling at the head of the corpse of a fellow knight. The Gerudo had meanwhile done the same and now knelt at the side of a slain Gerudo warrior, holding the cadaver's hand tightly within her own. The boy watched in silence as the two of them bowed their heads to the earth and simultaneously began to cry softly. Each one covered his or her face, and a moment later, without restraint, both began to wail loudly and openly for their lost loved ones. Had that particular corpse been a friend, thought the boy, or a family member? Perhaps a respected and honorable leader? It didn't truly matter now, for whatever the reason may have been why that particular person had held a special place in their hearts, they had been killed, and none of it accounted for anything at all anymore.

"Why?" inquired the boy of the two survivors. "Why?"

The two looked up at him for a second, but neither one was able give him an answer, and both helplessly went back to crying over their lost companions. The boy watched them silently for another minute, and then slowly approached the pair. "Do you now finally see what you've done? You mighty warriors weep over all those whom you've lost...think of how many tears are being shed over this entire battlefield!" he cried as he waved his hand over the sea of dead bodies, and the eyes fo his listeners followed its path. "Families, friendships, everything that you supposedly uphold by fighting has been torn mercilessly apart by all of this meaningless bloodshed! Mothers and children cry for the rest of their lives over something like this..." unable to speak any further, the boy choked on his own sobs and finally broke down where he stood and fell upon his face.

At this the knight and the Gerudo stood up and walked over to him. Each one had the remainders of his or her own tears fresh upon his or her face. The girl placed her hand lightly upon the child's shoulder. "Kid...." she began, in a quiet voice.

"Go!" the child shouted at her, surprising the girl and causing her to draw her hand back with a gasp. "Just go away from here!" he sobbed. "Kid..." the knight tried to step in. "Go home!" The boy would have none of it. "Return to your families, heal your wounds, and warn your people about what war truly is before they are sent out to the battlefield again! Don't waste time here! Even more people will die at your hands! Go!" The two looked at each other for a second, and then at the sobbing child. After taking in his image for a few moments, the two warriors' tears began to flow again. At this, they slowly began to march their separate ways without a word, the knight north towards the castle town and the girl to the west, in the direction of the Gerudo valley. Neither one of them looked back, nor was either one able to do so; thus each one's teardrops left two long trails, all the way to each of their homes. Before long the child was left alone again, his tears soaking the red earth and mixing with the spilled blood of the dead all around him.

It was nighttime before the child was able to look up from the ground again. Gazing roundabout him, he could see nothing and no one but the dead, spread out over the entire abandoned battlefield, each one of them engulfed in moonlight; the scene was not unlike a ghastly field of snow. The usual chorus of crickets and other creatures of the night was now conspicuously silent. Taking a moment to recover, the child began to dry his tears and to think about what exactly he had done: Where within himself had he found that type of courage, to stand up to two fierce warriors and to command them so, and to immediately halt their fight, just like that? What did he possess to have motivated him to do so? Why had this incident occurred to him at all? Why here? Now? And to him, of all people; an orphan child? Why not to someone worthy, to a hero? Thoughts like these would always frighten and confuse him. While he pondered over all of this, a bright light flashed up above him, and he looked to see what it was; the moon! It glowed as brightly as the sun! A beam of light shot down from it, and made contact with the earth a short distance from him. Terrified, the child remembered the hideous red eye he had seen the previous night, and looked away to hide himself from it. However, he was both surprised and somewhat relieved to hear a familiar woman's voice call to him from the beam of light: "Thou hast passed thy final test; well done, lad!" Another voice, similar to it but not identical, chimed in: "Indeed, thou art the one who shall prepare the way; we have at long last found thee." A third voice echoed after them: "Look up now, child, you have displayed great honor, and none of it shall be in vain. Look up, now!" He did so, and to his surprise, the light from the moon had engulfed the entire area in a pure white aura which he could not see beyond. Even more to his surprise, there was not one woman in front of him this time; rather, there were three! Each one of them was nearly identical to the others, all of them possessing beautiful forms, long dresses and a brilliant, radiant light shining from their midst; however, the light coming from each one was of a slightly different hue this time, rather than a simple white light as before. From one woman came forth a strong red light, from the next an emerald-green-tinted brightness, and from the third a sky-blue glow. The three together, side by side, were a most beautiful sight to see, and the boy could not bring himself to even rise from the ground while in their glorious prescence.

He was immediately obligated to do so, though, when the luminous emerald figure coaxed him: "Be not afraid, we have looked upon thee with great favor; arise before us now, and know who has called thee here." The boy slowly arose, still unable to tear his eyes from the three resplendent women in front of him. The blue figure then uttered the command: "Listen well to what thou art about to hear, for thou dost hear indeed the words of the very creators of Hyrule." The boy was all ears. The figure concluded: "I am Nayru, Goddess of Wisdom." And she bowed down low to the child, with great ceremony. The red figure next introduced herself: "I am Din, Goddess of Power." And she bowed in the same fashion. "And I am Farore, Goddess of Courage," finished the last one, and she also bowed to the child. The bewildered boy, not knowing at all what to think or to do in such a situation, could think of no way to respond to it all except to bow back to the three goddesses, and he did so.

After all of the introductions had been thus completed, Din, the red goddess, began to speak once again: "Now, child, thou must comprehend the importance of what we tell thee. The fate of this entire land of Hyrule depends upon whether thou art willing to listen to us or not. Art thou willing to hear?" After a moment's hesitation, the boy brought himself to speak once again: "I am," he answered. The three goddesses nodded. "Good child," commended Nayru. "Now listen well."

"Ages ago, we, the three goddesses of creation, descended upon this very land of Hyrule, and decided to make it a land where all could live in peace and happiness for all time. Each of us contributed into making this place as beautiful and prosperous a place as it is today; placing with care every one of its rivers, plains, mountains--all of it was put into its place for a reason, and each had a unique cause, always for the good of the entire land, and with the mission of keeping order and peace here. After every place had been made good for living upon, the founders of each of Hyrule's many peoples were placed here, and from them sprung the many different and varied inhabitants and tribes of this land. Seeing all going thus far as we had planned and imagining our labors as completed, we took our leave and commenced our return to the heavens. Before we departed, though, we left behind a symbol of our trust in the peoples of this land; a relic known to this land's inhabitants as the Triforce. Within it is contained our very essences; Power, Wisdom, and Courage, each one in perfect balance. It was hidden in the sacred Golden Land, beyond the great and lofty doors of the Temple of Time, so that only a true hero would ever have the ability to gain hold of the wondrous golden triangles. For you see, child, the Triforce would be able to reflect and magnify the perfect and pure balance in his heart, and the entire land and all its inhabitants would become yet more prosperous and happy via their heavenly strengths. By leaving the Triforce within reach of the people, we displayed our trust in them, in that they would always desire to keep the balance of the three qualities; Power, Wisdom, Courage, within each and every one of their hearts, and that whomever might gain the Triforce, no matter whom, he or she would continue to benefit all of the land's peoples more and more. That is exactly what we intended...yet, sadly, child, some of this land's inhabitants would desire nothing more than to abuse the sacred Triforce, and to exploit the land for naught but their own benefit, at the cost of the rest of the people."

At this Nayru paused and Din resumed the tale. "In recent times this land's inhabitants have become too much consumed with greed, especially for Power, the force which I myself stand for; the force which is to be most carefully kept in check out of all three. The place where you stand is where but one of a series of brutal and terrible battles have taken place; indeed, many more have been slain elsewhere as well. The commotion you had heard while you journeyed across the plain was the sound of constant fighting, day and night; the only reason that you did not hear it for a period of time was that so many were eventually slain in their madness that the remainder of the soldiers could no longer be heard at a distance. The two you met had been making attempts upon each others lives for several days before you arrived, with neither nourishment nor rest. You see, child, war obsesses and consumes all who surrender to its traps with death, rather than life. Even as we speak to thee here, more are being slain, soldier and civilian alike, because of their desire for absolute power over each other and nothing more. They lie to themselves about what they truly fight for, but in reality it is naught but the raw Power of the Triforce that any fight for, all of them, at the core. If such terrible wars as these continue, all of the land's inhabitants will eventually be wiped out except for the fiercest and most ruthless, and the worst among them all will lay claim to the sacred Triforce. Thus his lust for Power will be all that the land shall see and feel, and the other forces will be thrown out of balance, as Hyrule deteriorates into a smouldering heap, under the reign of such a monster. The possibility of this horrendous occurrence is what forced us to return to this land and to do our utmost to assure that our toil was not in vain, and that this land doth not perish; however, child, there is more to this land's well-being than simply our intervention."

Din now fell silent as Farore began to speak. "One such person who would so wish to use the Triforce is a man named Ganondorf. As of now he is but a young child, perhaps your age, but you see, he is a Gerudo, of a tribe that has only one male born to it every hundred years. This very one is destined to become the king of all the rest of the Gerudo. Even now, though, young Ganondorf has been raised since birth within harsh and demanding circumstances, and he sees Power as the sole way out of and above it all. He has been taught full well the value of keeping all forces in balance, but he willfully ignores all of what he has heard, and through his ignorance others are forced to suffer. He has thus developed an overwhelming desire for more and more power, and treats his kinspeople and others' alike with cruelty, and all are powerless to resist him, since he has made it his life's purpose to increase in strength, and indeed he has done so from birth onward. He is nearly unstoppable even now, at a young age. His sole use for his people is to raid and pillage in search of the Triforce, which the Royal Family of this land is destined to protect. Sadly, there is corruption within the palace walls as well; the Hyrulian royalty guards the secrets surrounding the holy relic jealously, and ruthlessly annihilates all who wish any part of it for themselves. The other peoples of the land have been drawn against their will into the conflict as well; the Gorons of Death Mountain, the Hylian villagers of Kakariko, the river-dwelling Zora and the Sheikah of the desert alike; even the Kokiri children are forced to fashion swords for themselves with which to defend their own forest. Child, do you realize of how great a magnitude this is? None are safe from the scourge that continues to consume this land; it must be stopped, and immediately! And thou, child, art the one chosen by our own hands, the one who shall play a critical part in doing so!"

Upon hearing Farore say this the boy gave a startled gasp and fell back down to his knees. "Be not afraid," reassured Farore, "You need not accept this mission if you do not feel that you are able to accomplish it. Simply know that the fate of this land shall rest upon whomever doth accept this duty; thou art our first and best choice: You possess a balanced heart; Power enought to daunt and command mighty warriors, Courage enough to venture upon journeys that the bravest dare not take, and Wisdom enough to survive alone and to yet know also the feelings of others, even those whom you have not yet met. Thou art worthy in our eyes; art thou in yours?" The boy remained silent, and he lowered his head and looked at the ground, as if he was ashamed of something. The goddess of Courage continued: "Know also that thou shalt not be alone in thy efforts; our powers shall be behind you always, though in the end it is the strength and purity of your own heart that shall truly determine your success or failure. Your task shall eventually have a conclusion, as well; in due time another will take over your position as the guardian of this land, as you do now from your predecessor, your father."

The boy's heart skipped and his eyes bulged. Before he could say anything, Nayru again spoke to him; "Thou shalt learn more of thy past as well, if you so choose to accept thy mission. But now is not the time to consider thy past, but thy future, and that of this entire land as well! What doth thou sayest, boy? Dost thou believe that thou canst rid the land of this evil, dost thou believe that thou shalt indeed be striving for each and every life within this land? Art thou willing? Now is the time to answer, child; what dost thou wish? In the name of the lives of all, all those that we ourselves have created, I implore thee, make thy decision!" Upon hearing this stern commission the child felt his heart race even faster than it ever had beforehand. Still on his knees, the child thought over everything that he had heard straight out of the mouths of the creators of Hyrule. The lives of so many he had never even seen would be upon his shoulders if he were to accept the goddesses' request; the thought of it alone made him tremble. Hyrule was a vast land, and surely contained many for him to keep watch over. Could he truly manage it, even with the three glorious goddesses backing him? Then he considered the other side of the bargain; his past. He had indeed been offered all that he had ever wished for all of his life. In this context, what else could he truly do, as he would likely never know anything at all about his past were he to deny the goddesses their boon. Thus it was settled, that he indeed had nothing at all to go back to, no home or loved ones to return to, nothing to choose over what he had been offered. He was but an empty life as he was, and before him stood an opportunity to be filled to the brim. The boy stood up, looked all three of the goddesses straight in their faces without being afraid, and respectfully but bravely answered them: "I now see that I am only able to become what you are able to make of me. Thus I accept whatever burden it is that you may place upon me as well. I shall do only what you instruct and say only the words you place into my mouth from this day forward. I accept. I accept." After he realized what he had done he bowed his head and began to pant fearfully again, but he did not regret a word of what he had said.

There was a momentary silence. As the boy continued to stare at the ground, all three goddesses drew closer to him. Upon feeling their prescence, he looked up, to find himself staring at the three most gorgeous smiles he had ever seen. "Good lad!" Farore congratulated him. The boy could not help smiling back at them. "We knew that thou wouldst not fail us, thou hast passed all of thy trials, and art ready to receive thy instruction. Arise, and hear!" The boy obeyed, and Din implored him, "The scimitar, there, upon the hill." Looking behind him, the boy saw that the aura of light had faded and that the field was visible again, as was the blade embedded into the ground which had so frightened him. "Go and bring that blade here," Din said as she pointed to it with a strong, slender finger. As the boy tiptoed towards it, not wishing to arouse its anger, Nayru raised her hand and the boy's stick, also nearby, levitated above the ground and floated to the goddesses' feet, where it came to rest. The boy took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and with three strong pulls managed to dislodge the scimitar. He then ran back to the goddesses with it clenched tightly in his arms, to make sure that it was firmly under his control. "Good," commended Nayru, "Now, take that blade and also this staff." He did so and sat at their feet, awaiting instruction. "Now, carve into the stick what we tell thee to carve; do not listen with thy ears, but with thy heart. That which we speak holdeth immense power, thou must be sure to clearly hear every word of it." The boy, though he did not fully understand what he had been told, readied himself for carving. At this the three goddesses began to utter many different phrases at once in an ancient Hylian tongue, one which had long a dead language; however dead it might have been, though, it was a beautiful language, and with the three of them sounding out so many different words at the same time, to the boy it sounded more like music than a command. Nonetheless, the child could gain nothing from the words he heard, and stared confusedly at the blank stick in his hands. Suddenly in his head he heard the three goddesses tell him simultaneously, "With thy heart boy, with thy heart, concentrate! Thou shalt hear all that thou need hear!" The child thought a second, and then closed his eyes. He shut off all of his connections with the outside, and waited patiently. Before long he heard the goddesses' song echoing inside of his head, but with each successive letter and word it seemed to become clearer to him, more understandable. The boy's hand began to move, though he was not aware of it; the scimitar came to life again, but this time it sliced into wood instead of flesh; it carved mysterious runic letters, their meaning also long forgotten, into the stick, as the boy continued listening to the song. Before long the melody was playing clearly in his head; it was a legend, an ancient prophecy, from ages ago, remembered by none at all, but preserved forever.

Forever the cycle beginneth again,
But ne'er shall anybody knoweth
The face of one whom hath no face,
The heart of one whom hath a heart.
As the forces come together,
As the forces separate,
No desire shalt enter one
Save the need to play thy part.
E'er the forces righteous reigneth,
Sun and moon, without a war.
Each one riseth by the other
Here it beginneth, another start.

Before long the boy had carved the entire song out into the stick in the ancient runes, and he felt the staff begin to grow warmer in his hands. He opened his eyes to see the runes which he had carved shining with a bright white light! The goddesses had fallen silent, and watched as the boy's staff reilluminated the area and forced him to close his eyes once again. He waited. "Open thy eyes, child," he heard Din command. He did so. He was again surrounded in white light, but the goddesses had vanished from sight. He dropped the scimitar and it also vanished, but he held his staff, still glowing, tightly. "In darkness light may be hidden, boy," advised Nayru, from some unknown location. "Look!" A portal opened in front of him, and caused him to stagger back and use his staff to keep himself from falling. The inside of the void was purely black; this sight stirred frightening memories within his mind, but he forced himself to ignore them. "If thou art brave," he heard Farore instruct, "Step inside, and meet thy destiny!" The boy stared into the portal. Looking deeper inside he could see several small points of light in the distance, each one of a different color. His destiny. The boy grasped his glowing staff and began to run towards the black void in front of him. It drew closer and closer to him with each step. "This is it," he thought. "My life begins here." He was almost upon it. "And now!" The boy leapt at the portal with a shout, and just before he entered it the red eye appeared in front of him once again, and looking more menacing than it had ever appeared before. The boy's scream grew louder, but it was too late, he had entered the black portal and it had closed itself behind him.

Chapter Seven

Darkness. Endless, eternal, infinite darkness. For seven long years, that was all that the boy experienced. After leaping head-on into the black void that was supposed to fulfill all of his high hopes of heroism, all that he found inside of it was a black pit of infinite dimensions. After he had uttered that one final scream, the child floated about helplessly in empty space for years, without moving a limb, speaking a word, taking in a breath, or even thinking a single thought. As he waited patiently in a renewed silence for a glimmer of light to appear in the distance, in time he heard what sounded to him like a strong wind, far away. As it drew closer to his inanimate form, he felt a cold sensation envelop him. It would never leave him again.

After the seven years had finally passed, the boy felt the wind softly pass by him and continue onward past his back, and he slowly opened his eyes for the first time in what seemed to him like ages. The void had vanished; the first thing he saw was a green patch of grass below him. The boy noticed that he was kneeling on the grass, still tightly clutching the stick in his right hand. It seemed for a second that the staff was shorter than it had been before, but in truth it had not; the fact was that he had grown up while he had been trapped within seven years of solitude. Suddenly he noticed the hand which held the staff; his own. It was wrapped in an odd white cloth, and as his eyes scanned up to his elbow, he noticed tough, loose, dark blue fabric covering him. Peering downwards again, he now perceived heavy leather boots on his feet and was surprised to also feel a cloak over his back and half of his face, as well as a hat on his head. Slowly he stood up and got reacquainted with movement, breathing, and perception of himself. The sun was behind him, and his shadow in front of his face startled him; it was nothing like his meager, nimble shadow of yesteryear. It was a tall and foreboding one, a terrifying, dark grey wall engulfing all that touched it. He noticed a piece that stuck out conspicuously on the side of the shadow; a simple golden lantern hanging upon his belt. Confused, he looked up and scanned around him. He was smack in the middle of Hyrule Field; there was nothing except flat plains for leagues around. Nothing moving, nothing present except for himself.

Another gust of wind blew in from off of Death Mountain in the distance, ruffling his cloak, and the boy wondered what he should do next. He noticed a dusty path that lay to his left, and seeing no other indicators pointing him to any destination, he spontaneously decided to take it and to see where it might lead. He had not been following it for very long before a long-absent voice resounded clear as crystal within his head: "So thou hast awoken, after seven long years...follow this path, and see what you have become." Immediately the child recognized it; it was Farore's voice. Upon his hearing of it, heavy-laden memories poured into his head far too quickly, memories of his dazzling encounters with the creators of Hyrule, the mysterious mission that they had sent him upon, the two hate-consumed warriors whom he had saved from death, his tiresome journey across the land, the pale, fat man at the river; all of his past thoughts and memories viciously pushed and shoved to regain their rightful place within his mind, and the boy was forced to drop his staff and kneel down again, groaning in pain and tightly grasping his head in his hands. "Be strong!" Din's voice exhorted, out of nowhere. He clenched his teeth and his tumultuous mind was restored to order. Afraid, he stood up again and desperately listened for more counsel from above; none came. Saddened, he walked along the path for a while longer, leaving a cloud of dust rising behind him, and eventually he came to a small spring at the side of the road. Upon seeing it an icy javelin seemed to pierce his mind; he sensed something terrible within the spring. Nonetheless, he had not tasted water in seven years, and there was no sign of any more of it as far as he could see. Inch by inch he extended his head over the water, eyes closed so as not to see the unknown horror that awaited him. He lowered his cloak off of his face, cupped his hands, and filled them slowly with water. Nothing had happened as of yet, so he gulped the water down his parched throat. It was cold and clean, especially refreshing after seven years without it, so he took several more happy and relieved handfuls. Calmer now, he relaxed, opened his eyes, and looked at himself for the first time in seven years. The horrid red eye stared back at him from the surface of the water. With a scream he started back and fell over. The horrid thing that he had sensed within the spring was none other than himself.

As he tried to breathe and to recover from the shock he had just experienced, the three goddesses appeared in front of him once again, all of their glory still fully intact. Each one had a stern look upon her face, and they all remained silent. It took several seconds for the now-grown boy to speak to them, regardless of the fact that he had done the very same thing when he was but a youngster; "W-what am I?" he stammered, confused. Nayru stepped forward. "You have grown up, child," she answered in her usual silky tone. "The eye that you behold in the water is not something to be feared; rather it is a guiding light, a ray of hope to be searched for by the oppressed. Look again into the spring." Slowly the boy obeyed her, inching towards the spring; hesitating for a moment, he eventually gathered the courage to look at himself again. Indeed, underneath his hat nothing at all could be seen of his face; all that was observable betwixt the cloak and the hat was a black mass with the luminous red eye emerging out of it. "Gaze deeply, boy," Din now took over where Nayru had left off, as the young man looked at himself over the spring. "The eye is also a symbol of thy willingness to overcome thy own hesitations, by leaping fearlessly into the unknown blackness." As he thought it over, the eye didn't seem quite so fearsome now to the boy as it had before; gradually he came to accept it as a part fo his new face, and gazed deeply into its crimson depths, inquiring of it, wishing to learn all of the secrets that it contained. "Furthermore," Din concluded, "Thou didst not simply earn the eye for thyself, but you have inherited it." The boy looked up at her. "Thy own mother and father art an integral part of the eye that you possess."

The cloaked figure stared at her in disbelief. Farore now resumed speaking; "Thy parents were a noble couple indeed, always watching out for the welfare of others rather than their own, just as you do now. The only thing that they cared about more than the well-being of their fellowmen was you, once you were born." Near to tears, the shadowy form lost control of himself, fell to his knees, and begged of the goddesses: "Please! Before I can go on I need to know so much! Who were my parents? What do they have to do with this red eye attached to my face? Who am I? You have to tell me, please!" The three goddesses approached him step by step, and Farore placed her luminous hand upon his shoulder. "That is not knowledge that is to be revealed now," she calmly told him. The shadowy form bowed its head low to the ground. At this a sympathetic smile appeared upon the goddess's face, and she lifted his chin with her own hand, and he gazed upwards helplessly. Once again he could not avert his eyes from that beautiful smile once he had beheld it. "Worry not," she reassured him. "With the passage of time thou shalt eventually know everything, as promised. You need only have faith..." The red eye under the broad-brimmed hat began to quiver with irrepressible sadness. Farore took her hand off of his chin and stood erect with her two sisters. "Thou art no longer a boy," she said to the dark form kneeling in front of her. "Thou shalt never again remove thy hat from thy head; thy face shall remain unknown forever. Thy new life begins now; thou shalt no longer live for thyself. From this day forth thy life is the life of the rest of this land. Thy name shall remain a mystery; thou shalt only be called by one title, for thou art no longer a mere inhabitant of this land of Hyrule." The shadow on the ground in front of her listened intently. "Thou art a servant of the goddesses of this land, and a guiding light to their people! Thou shalt wander the fields and highways of this land of thy own accord, and thou shalt seek out the downtrodden wherever they might dwell." The figure's single eye stared straight at her as she spoke. "From this day forth, thou art no longer a mere boy...thou art a Highwayman!"

"...Highwayman?" the newly-named shadow said confusedly, more to himself than to the goddesses who had just named him. "A Highwayman," replied Farore. "A warrior of justice chosen by hand by the goddesses of Hyrule. A Highwayman, like the foretold Hero of Time, appears only during a time of great need, to assist the people." "Hero of Time?" inquired the Highwayman. "He is another warrior chosen on account of the purity of his heart, he shall eventually be sealed away just as you were for seven years. Thou shalt learn more of him in time, but now thou must focus upon thy own mission," Din answered him. "Tell me, dost thou remember the two warriors that thou met seven years ago?" she asked him. "Yes," was his reply, and Din's face grew very serious as she continued. "Two armies of opposing factions of the Hylians are going to meet in battle before the sun again sets. Before the day is out, several thousand more like those two warriors shall die unless an intervention is made. Thou, Highwayman, art that intervention." "What!?" shouted the Highwayman in disbelief, as he stood once again upon his feet. "I don't have nearly the strength necessary to halt so many soldiers! I had scarcely the strength to stop two worn-out warriors!..." At this, Din stepped forward and interrupted him, silencing him with an outstretched hand. "Thy heart wishes to stop the upcoming battle and to save the lives of the soldiers, does it not?" Din asked him. "Of course it does, but I am simply unable..." the Highwayman tried to respond. "Hold!" Din again stopped him. "That...that is all that thou shalt ever require to be successful." At this she raised her hand into the air, and a flash of light blinded the Highwayman for a second. He was forced to draw his weather-worn cape closely around him, which to his surprise was able to almost completely block out the heavenly light. After he lowered it, he saw six small flames come forth from Din's hand, each one of a different color. Before he could react, the flames flew towards him and hovered around him. Startled by the sight, the Highwayman again pulled his cloak tightly around himself for protection, but even as he did so Nayru's voice called to him: "Be not afraid! These fragments of flame are not made up of any ordinary fire; they contain the spirits of the entire land and its life. They shall aid thee in thy mission." Lowering his cloak, the Highwayman got a closer look at the burning oddities hovering in midair around his head. They were truly extraordinary, in the fact that they didn't ever seem to burn out or even flicker like normal flames, but they simply kept on burning brightly, as if they had already burned themselves into the very fabric of time. "Notice their colors," Nayru advised. "Look at the deep red one." He did so. "That is the spirit within the fiery Death Mountain, and of all of its sturdy people,the Gorons and the Hylians. The orange one, look at it also." The Highwayman obeyed. "In it is contained the essence and power of the setting sun. The bright yellow flame, that one is the sands of the western desert, and its resourceful peoples, the Gerudo and the Sheikah. The green one is the green forests, the Kokiri children within them ,and the life that they give to those around them. The blue one, it contains the hopes and dreams of the rivers and streams, and those of the aquatic Zora. The purple flame is the darkest flame, containing the power of the creatures of the darkness, which although they are not quite so obvious to see as the rest, still deserve their rightful place in this land, and they are willing to assist you to keep it." The Highwayman turned around and around several times to stare at each one of the flames, amazed. "The missing indigo is thy own self, and its blue hue is sealed within thy own weather-worn cloak," Nayru continued, as the Highwayman now looked down at himself in wonderment. "But there remains one last bit of fire you must become acquainted with..." she concluded. Another flash brightened the area, and after it had faded the goddeses had vanished, and in their place floated a bright pink flame, much like the others. It floated in amongst the other six, and as it did the Highwayman could hear Farore speak to him one last time: "This piece of fire contains our essence and our guiding force; we shall always be fighting right beside you, child, or rather, should I say...Highwayman." The flames began to gather together, and they clustered around the head of the Highwayman. "But..." he said, "What do I do now?" "We are always with you, though just where you wander to is thy own decision, and thine alone," he heard Nayru say to him. "What you must do now is go quickly to the spot where the two aforementioned armies are destined to clash, and foil destiny itself. The flames above thy head shall aid thee, thou shalt know what to do when the time comes. Wait no longer, the sun shall soon set, be on thy way, hurry!" Forgetting momentarily his own questions about the situation and thinking only of the lives about to be lost unless he took action, the Highwayman tipped the brim of his hat forward, over his single red eye, and dashed off, staff in hand, with speed beyond that which any mortal could possess. He didn't even notice what he was doing; he only knew that he had to stop the ensuing battle. He dashed past a young boy standing a short distance away, outside of a nearby ranch, dressed in sandals and a headband. The boy in the headband had been eagerly searching for rabbits all afternoon, but immediately forgot about them as the passing dark mass's speed left him breathless. The boy, in excited admiration, followed the speeding shadow as best he could, thinking to himself, "Wow! I wish I could run that fast!" Before long the Highwayman knew that he had come to the spot where the battle was to take place, and he stopped his run. The sun had begun to set and had turned the field where he stood to a bright red; the sight brought back horrible memories of past years. There was a high, rocky cliff nearby, and wishing to get a wider look at the surrounding area, he closed his eyes and made a 100-foot leap to the top of the cliff, knowing that the goddesses were there to aid him. After he had landed on top of the cliff, his single eye peered out from under his hat, and he knew that he had arrived without another second to lose. The armies were extremely close, and would arrive within minutes; great, black walls of flesh, both bearing flags with the insignia of the Triforce; each and every last soldier regretting the path he had taken, but knowing that turning back now would mean shame and death, while the battle ahead supposedly meant honor and death. As he watched the two sides draw ever closer to him as well as each other, the Highwayman began to wonder how he should stop the opposing sides and save them from not only the other side's swords but also from their own flawed perceptions of the situation. "We'll leave you so you can get some thinking done," he heard Din say to him from out of the pink flame. "One's first assignment can weigh heavily upon one's emotions; we'll let you sort everything out for yourself." At this the flames above his head vanished, and not wanting to waste the little time he had left to think, the Highwayman knelt, leaned his staff upon his side, and began to remember his past, and whatever connections it might have to his present mission...

Mere minutes later the flames reappeared above his head, and Farore urged him: "Get thyself up, the time has come, the armies are within sight of each other! You know what you must do, make haste!" The flames above his head began to burn even more brightly, and the Highwayman stood up. Looking back upon it, his past was indeed a short one; he wished for a future to counterbalance it, and this was his chance to begin to grasp his wish. Looking below himself, he saw the armies standing idle but a few hundred yards from each other, their march halted and their charge about to begin. Not expecting their conflict to be so imminent, the Highwayman desperately went over all of his possible actions in his mind, but he would have no time to decide, for as he was trying to come up with something effective to try, both of the opposing generals gave a loud clarion shout, and the two sides charged each other fiercely. There were now only three hundred yards between them. Two hundred. Seventy-five. The Highwayman could once again see in front of his face the corpse-strewn battlefield of his childhood which had remained engraved in his memory. It was about to reappear; he could not let it happen. In desperation, he grabbed hold of the violet flame above his head and hurled it down toward the center of the battlefield, with an even more desperate shout of "Halt!" Even above the chaos his voice could be heard by the armies, and they glanced up above momentarily to see a great ball of dark-colored fire come barreling down between them and erupt into a great wall of violet flame, higher than the walls of the castle. The charging men's horses reared back at the sight and threw their riders off of their backs; the two sides were now separated from each other by a wall of purple fire, and all were thrown into a frozen panic. The Highwayman, amazed with his own doing, stared at the goings-on below, and a moment later decided that he should intervene before things got out any more out of hand than they had already. Lightly he leapt off of the cliff, and his cape spread out in the wind, shadowing the setting sun as he fell to the ground below. "Look! There!" shouts arose from both sides of the conflict, as an unknown creature blotted out the sun with his form and landed unhurt after a 100-foot descent in front of them all. The soldiers were paralyzed with fear; the creature, clad in loose clothing, carrying a strange staff, and with flickering supernatural flames around his head and at his back, raised his head and showed to both sides his fearsome red eye. The armies began to flee with terrified screams, despite the orders of their generals, but were halted by another wall of violet flame, arisen in front of each side's escape route, to keep them all where they were. The armies were trapped within a spot where they'd journeyed for days to get to, but now they wanted more than anything else in the world to leave it, as many of the warriors dropped to their knees and sobbed hastened prayers to the goddesses for their wives and children.

"Stay where you are," a voice called out of the wind. It was the voice of the Highwayman, who raised his hand into the air. At this the walls of flame subsided, and the violet flame once again hovered around the head of the Highwayman. Not a single soldier dared move or speak. "I wish to see your leaders, and to speak to them," the cloaked one said. "Come here, I promise not to harm you if you act like men, not like monsters," he encouraged sternly. After a few moments of silence, two generals, each one a mighty man clad in silver armor, emerged out of each side of the crowd, heading towards the clearing in the center where the Highwayman stood. Both of them laid down their swords and knelt before the cloaked shadow in front of them, to make sure he didn't see them as threats. "For what purpose do you have dealings with us?" one of them asked. "Where do you come from?" the other added. "I am called the Highwayman," it responded. "I come out of the deepest darkness with a message of guiding light, from the goddesses Din, Nayru, and Farore themselves." The two armies gasped and murmured amongst themselves, wondering if he was telling the truth; many of them had heard their grandmothers whisper to them ancient legends of the Highwaymen of Hyrule, but had not believed them, at least after their parents had gotten ahold of them and convinced them that the tales were untrue. "Tell me," the cloaked messenger continued, "Why is it that all of you so desire to slaughter your own brothers? I see the pointed ears of the Hylian people upon each of your faces, ears that are supposed to hear the voices of the goddesses; what is the reason for such bloodshed?" One of the generals stood up immediately: "To defend the royal family and its sacred Triforce," he said as he had a thousand times before. "And you...?" the Highwayman turned his single eye towards the other. The other general stood up slowly. "We were offered a handsome sum to fight and to obtain the Triforce," he hesitatingly said. "Our families have trouble simply obtaining food for themselves, and though fighting was our last option, it was our only choice remaining. Even our loyalty to the royal family could not come before our children." Soldiers on both sides bowed their heads low. "Who would offer money for the Triforce?" the Highwayman asked him. "The Gerudo tribe," the general answered. "Or rather their king, Ganondorf." The Highwayman instantly recognized that name; the goddesses themselves had warned him of that man. "His own people of the desert are in even more dire straits than we are," the general added, "And yet they are powerless under him. He uses every resource he can find in the barren west to get closer to the Triforce and its power, as his own kind starve before his eyes. A great and terrible lust for power has overtaken him, and he uses our children's cries against us to accomplish his purpose." A few soldiers on both sides of the conflict had begun to cry upon hearing this; even the Highwayman was forced to bow his head. "I understand your plights," he said to everyone present, "And I come with a message from the creators of Hyrule themselves; they wish to help you, and to see all of you live your lives in happiness and without fear. Listen well." His entire audience perked up, wiped its tears, and listened intently as he held the pink flame within his hand, and it began to glow brightly. Nayru's voice echoed in his head: "The staff, boy! Hold it tightly!" The Highwayman did so, and the pink flame leapt onto the end of the staff. The flame burned brightly, but the staff did not burn at all. The runes carved into it began to glow with a white light, and soon the entire area was illuminated. The astounded soldiers were even more astounded to hear the voices of Hyrule's creators speak to them from out of the blinding light. "Our children, this war is not the way to happiness which ye seek," they said. "We created this land of Hyrule to be a land of peace, where all creatures could live in joy, security, and freedom. Of late troubled times hath indeed arisen, and we wish to see them ended as much as you do, our beloved ones. The way, though, is not within war against each other, but rather, the way is unity amongst thyselves." The armies could do naught but listen; each one's ears were perked at attention. "Reconcile with thy brother, let he who has more than enough for his family give to him who has not enough," the voice within the flame continued. "To survive, children, you must remember that you all have but one common goal in thy hearts, and you must all work together to realize it. Go home to thy families, and devote thy strengths to taking care of them to the best of thy ability. Farewell, children, we are watching over you, always..." The light momentarily blinded all who saw it, and when it faded away the Highwayman was nowhere to be seen, and the two armies were left staring at each other, the wind blowing past them all as they stood in front of a powerful sunset. Behind some nearby rocks, a small child emerged, dressed in sandals and a headband. "W-W-Wow," he stammered. "That man was so cool! I gotta learn to be as fast as him! And I'm gonna do it, too!" At that the child began to dash back home to the ranch as fast as his little feet could carry him, towards the setting sun.

The two sides sat staring at each other for a minute, wondering whether what they had just seen had been merely a dream; dream or not, however, the conflict so deeply ingrained within their hearts had faded away. The two generals embraced each other, and the soldiers gradually met each other; brothers tearfully caught up on affairs long overdue, families were inquired of and wished well, and soon the two sides were one united throng, heading in the direction of Death Mountain and of their home villages and towns. None of them noticed the cloaked figure standing once again on top of a nearby cliff, watching all of them go and chuckling as the child took off in the opposite direction. The pink flame above his head commended the Highwayman: "Well done, child, you have saved the lives of many valiant men, and none of them shall ever fight again, I assure you." The single eye looked up at the pink-colored flame. "From now on, though, the journey is yours, young Highwayman. Use the discerning power of your heart to determine where you should next wander to, who is in most need of thy help, and what you should next aim to accomplish." He nodded slowly, his heart heavy with uncertainty. "The night is descending now," the flame said to him, and indeed it was; the sun had by now gone down and the moon was just beginning to arise over the plains of Hyrule Field. "The lantern upon thy belt, hang it upon thy staff," the flame recommended. The Highwayman unhinged the simple golden lantern hanging upon his belt and attached it to the end of his staff, as he had been instructed. At this the pink flame entered into the lantern and began to glow brightly, as did the runes upon the staff. "Thou shalt guide many a lost and weary traveler with this light," the flame said to him. "But for tonight, let us guide you to a place to rest, as you become more acquainted with the darkness. Thou shalt eventually become one with it, and become a spot of light shining out of the night...but that is for another time," it said. Tired and weary, not to mention already thinking and worrying about what he might end up doing tomorrow, the Highwayman leapt off of the cliff where he stood, and with the glowing staff and lantern hanging over his shoulder, he began to walk to wherever his heart prompted him to go. Many times in years to come, travelers would report sightings of spirits hovering on the midnight horizon, crowding around a terrifying black figure, all of them wandering like a single lost soul along the highways of Hyrule.

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