With Death Mountain not far away, the three continued their journey. It would not be long before the last obtainable piece was found. Excitement rushed through all three of them, making them forget their aching joints, the wounds of battle, and the weariness that clung to them and refused to be shaken off.
Anna knew it would not be long now. Soon, the person who held the Tetraforce would be found, and the whole adventure would be over. They could go back to living normal lives, instead of wandering about constantly.
As they drew nearer to Death Mountain, Istas grew hesitant. Doubt, mixed with fear, ran through his body, turning his blood to ice. He knew that all the soldiers of his village wound not be far off when they reached the mountain, and he feared his capture. Anna, noticing this, took his hand in hers. "What's wrong?" she asked him, her face showing concern. He smiled at her, in spite of the fact he wasn't in the mood to smile, and tried to pretend that everything was fine. "Nothing," he answered. Anna released his hand, letting him walk away to where Link stood waiting. They began off again, and excitement soon erased any more doubt any of them possessed.
Death Mountain's craggy summit, which came into view a few minutes later, obstructed the harsh sun's light. They began to climb, making their way up the many ledges. The caves just above were likely to hold the last piece. Istas felt fear settle in his stomach like an ice wedge. His heart began to beat faster. He hoped to Farore that no one from his village was up there in those caves.
The Dark Faerie stood before the score of moblins and stalfos that awaited Ganon's arrival. The ambush was going to occur soon, just how soon was yet to be determined by Ganon. The Dark Faerie hoped the army was trained enough. If it wasn't....She broke off the thought before she even finished it. Ganon was not one to make idle threats, and she knew she'd be in for it if the army's skills weren't to his liking.
Ganon strode in with a whirl of his dark cape a few moments later. As he made his way past the Dark Faerie, he gave her a cold glance. She swallowed hard, praying the army could demonstrate themselves well in front of Ganon.
Ganon took his place in front of the army. He stood there for a few moments, his eyes searching the crowd that stood in front of him. The Dark Faerie could feel the tension in the chamber. Suddenly, Ganon spoke. The chamber fell deathly silent as Ganon's voice rang out.
"I have determined," he shouted, "that the princess and that cursed boy, Link, will soon inherit their power. We must plan our attack, and very soon. The Triforce will be mine!" Shouts of "All hail Master Ganon!" rose up from the assembled creatures in the small chamber. Ganon held his hand up for silence, and received it instantly.
" I have decided that the attack should be carried out as soon as possible; therefore, I have decided that we will attack tonight!" More cheers rose from the crowd of moblins and stalfos.
"And," Ganon shouted, and the crowd once again fell silent, "it has come to my attention that the legend of the Tetraforce is not merely legend. I have a piece of it before me. With the Tetraforce, all of Hyrule and beyond will belong to the dark side!" Gasps of awe and shouts of encouragement rose from the assembly.
"Dark Faerie," Ganon said to her as he strode from the room, "train the army some more while I go pinpoint the location of those fools."
"Yes, Master Ganon," the Dark Faerie answered obediently, then turned to the army. As she shouted commands, Ganon returned to his chamber. Standing before his crystal ball, he waved his hands over it. Mist appeared inside and swirled around, followed by some blurry images. These formed a sharp picture, and Ganon leaned over the crystal ball intently. So, he thought, chuckling a little, they are up on Death Mountain to retrieve a piece. He watched as they climbed farther and farther up, trying to reach the caves. He waved his hands once again over the crystal ball. Mist rose up, enveloping the scene and clouding it over. He looked up to where Princess Zelda still waited inside her crystal. "Well, well, Princess Zelda, it looks as if your 'Hero' won't be escaping me this time. It won't be long before I rule everything, and you and Link are my slaves." Princess Zelda felt anger well up inside of her. "No, Ganon, you're wrong! Link will escape and prevail over all your evil!" she shouted, angry. Ganon merely chuckled at her, making her even angrier. She felt so helpless, trapped in this cursed crystal! She was also worried. She knew they were planning to capture Link, and this time it looked as if Ganon would finally get his wish to completely conquer Hyrule granted. She no longer felt so sure that good would prevail; especially not if Ganon got his filthy hands on the Triforce. Worst of all, whether she liked it or not, she would be partially responsible, since Ganon would have to use her power to obtain the Triforce. All she could do was hope that Ganon couldn't catch Link. Suddenly, Ganon's rasping voice interrupted her thoughts.
"And, dear princess," he added, "the ambush will occur tonight, just as soon as my minions are done training. Your dear 'Hero' will have no chance! Once he arrives, I will be able to use the power in both of you to get my wish. And once I do, I will be the king of not only evil, but of Hyrule as well!"
"You are truly warped, Ganon!" Princess Zelda shouted from inside her crystal. Ganon, who had his back to her, whirled in her direction suddenly. His eyes flashed at her like fire. "From you, Zelda, I call it a compliment," he returned. Zelda glared at him fiercely. "You will never be able to capture Link!" Zelda shouted at him in response, although she wasn't completely confident in that. Ganon chuckled again. "That is where you are wrong, Princess Zelda," he growled. Zelda continued to glare at him. Inside, she felt raging anger, but also helplessness.....
By now, Link, Anna, and Istas had managed to climb Death Mountain's treacherous face. It was a long way up, and a very perilous climb as well. This mountain didn't get the name Death Mountain for nothing, Anna thought as they reached the summit,I feel like I'm going to faint from all this climbing!
They were near Spectacle Rock now; the Tower of Hera not far away. "All right, Istas," Link said, "you'll have to lead us through this one." Istas nodded, feeling scared and privileged at the same time. Hoping that no one from his village was nearby, he proceeded to show Link and Anna the caves that would take them safely past his village without anyone seeing them. Finally, they got started, walking inside one of the caves and deep inside Death Mountain.
"We'll have to be as quiet as possible," Istas warned, "you never know who might be wandering around in here." Link and Anna nodded, and they continued on. Link lit his lantern and held it before him, as it was dark inside the passageways of the cave. It cast a ghostly light on the ground and walls before them. Their shadows, deformed, dark shapes, etched themselves in the light as they moved. They searched everywhere possible, leaving nothing unexplored. Pervious experience had taught that a piece could be anywhere, and so they were meticulous as they explored. Still, they didn't turn up anything. After a time, they began to grow weary.
"I don't think we're going to find it just wandering around," Anna finally spoke up. Link and Istas both concurred, although none of them knew just where to look next. They continued to walk, unsure of where they were going. Finally, they stopped walking. "Maybe it's outside. That's where the first piece was found," Istas said, and so they turned around and went back out. By now, it was sunset, and the sky had turned beautiful shades of violet and pink. The sun was fleeing quickly, making their search a hasty one. This search, like the one inside the passageways of the mountain, turned up nothing.
"Looks like we're going back in again. Nayru, I hate going around in circles!" Anna fumed. Soon, they were all back inside again, searching as they had done before. they checked and re-checked all the places they could possibly go. Still, it rewarded them nothing. Finally, Istas said, his voice nervous, " There's only one place left that it could possibly be...." Anna gasped, realizing what he was saying. "You don't mean....your village, do you?" she asked, voice quaking in fear. Istas nodded solemnly. Link muttered, "This adventure just keeps getting better and better...."
They waited until they were sure that night had settled outside before they even attempted to sneak into the village. There would be less people out and about if they waited long enough, less of a chance they would be apprehended. Unfortunately, most of the Shiekah that would be out would be guards. "Din forbid if any of them see us," Istas said as they walked down a passageway that would lead to his village. All of them were nervous, tense, and the dark confines of the mountain passage weren't helping.
"You know how to sneak us in, right?" Link asked. Istas nodded. "Yes, but if any of them see us, they'll catch us for certain. There are too many of them to outrun, and some of them know these caves as well as I do."
"There's a comforting thought," Anna muttered dryly. "We have a couple problems," Link said. "First, how are we going to get into the village without anyone seeing us, and two, where in the village is the piece hidden?" Istas's face tightened in thought. "I'm pretty sure I can get us in the village all right, but I'm not exactly sure where the piece actually is. I have a pretty good idea, though."
"We better be careful when we get into the village then. We'll try not to waste too much time searching around, if it can be helped," Link decided. Istas began to walk again, running his hand along the rocky wall of the passageway. There was a small tunnel-like passage not too far away.....
Suddenly, his hand slipped off the rock and met air. There. He looked and saw the tunnel. "This way. We'll have to be extremely quiet once we're in the village," he warned. Anna and Link nodded. Istas sat, easing himself into the tunnel. Link and Anna followed suit. They slid down the rocky passage, easing themselves along with their hands. Once the tunnel ended, they found themselves in another passage. "The village is just beyond," Istas whispered to them, walking forward. They followed, following Istas. Soon, they were treading upon the dirt of the village ground. It was here that they all became tense, watchful for any guards that could be standing nearby. It was difficult, though, as most of the torches provided little light, making the way forth a dim and perilous one.
Anna's heart was in her throat, and her palms sweated. She looked around for a guard before she took any steps, and nerves made her body tremble. She thought she could make out the shady forms of guards, keeping their posts in the dark. The village was very quiet, as most people were in their homes, and the torches burned a bit lower. She hastened to keep up with Link and Istas, who walked with caution just ahead of her. They, too, were keeping a wary eye open for guards or any sign of the Tetraforce piece. Istas paused suddenly, making both Anna and link stop short. "What is it?" Link whispered quietly to him. Istas motioned for them to come closer.
"I think I know where the piece is, but it's going to be difficult to get it," Istas said very quietly, so that even Link and Anna, who were no more than a few inches away, could hardly hear him.
"Where is it, then?" Link asked, and Istas prepared to answer him, when a girl with red hair stepped out of the shadows, her spear lowered at them. Her eyes flashed anger as she approached. Then, as she saw them, she lowered the spear. The look of anger disappeared and was replaced by confusion. "Istas?" she asked. He held a finger to his lips and nodded a reply.
"What in the name of Din are you doing here? It wasn't smart, to come back here like this," the girl said, and Istas whispered in reply, "Yeah, I know, Mira. But I had to come back to get the piece of the Tetraforce." The girl smirked a little. "What? You brought your girlfriend and the former prisoner here, too? Farore, if they catch you, you're all in for it!"
"I know," Istas whispered back, impatient. Mira shrugged. "Suit yourselves, then. I may be your good friend, Istas, but even I say you're pushing your luck this time." It was Istas's turn to shrug at this comment. "I'll manage," he whispered to the girl, smiling a little. The girl pushed her red hair out of her face and smiled a little in return. "I have to go, Istas. I have guard duty, and I'll get Hagen's 'irresponsibility' lecture if I'm not back soon. But if I were you I'd get out of here as quick as I could." Istas nodded, and Mira turned, spear at her side, and walked off in the dark.
"Where's the piece, then?" Link asked again. Istas looked grim. "It's more than likely in the Elder's room, along with any other treasures of our village," he replied.
"Why didn't we just go retrieve it before, then?" Anna asked. "There wasn't any time before. Besides, we have to time this just right. The Elder found that piece a long time ago. I heard some stories about it, but I thought they were all rumors. We'll have to take a chance."
"Why didn't you say something about it before, then?" Anna asked, a bit impatiently. "You never asked. Besides, we had to get Link out of his cell, then. One thing kind of led to another....And," he added, looking at her slyly, " I was too captivated by your beauty to remember it, then." Anna could feel her face become flushed with heat. Her face became bright red.
"We don't have that much time," Link reminded them, and they began to walk slowly but carefully to the Elder's chambers. Cautiously, they stepped inside. It was dark, and so they had to wait until their eyes adjusted to the darkness before they moved at all. It appeared that they were in a type of hall, with the Elder's actual room at the end of it. Istas motioned to Anna and Link to be quiet, then led the way forward. Once they reached the room, they could see that it was black as pitch inside. The sound of the Elder's breathing as he slept made them all tense as they began in with the utmost caution. Again, they had to wait for their eyes to adjust to the dark before they did anything. They began to look around. There were ornate carvings in the stone of this room, the dirt floors covered by rich carpets. In the corner of the room was a mat on which the Elder slept.
Along the walls, there were chests and drawers. Anna brushed her hand along the top of one of the drawers. Her hand hit a square, glass case. At the same time, her pendant began to glow. She closed her hand around it to muffle the ever-growing light. Slowly, she lifted the glass case and took the piece. This she quickly slipped into her pocket, then motioned to Link and Istas. Carefully, they made their way out of the room, along the darkened hallway. As they made their way to the escape passage Istas had showed Anna, they could see some of the guards standing at their posts. She wondered why they didn't see them. They're probably asleep, she thought, noticing their drooping heads. She became a bit bolder, then. But suddenly, a whistle's sharp tweet pierced the air. "Oh, Din, one of them saw us!" Anna exclaimed, and Istas cursed in Shiekah. Hagen, who had been standing in the dark at his post, had seen them, and was now lumbering toward them. The rest of the guards were soon up and running. Hagen was cursing at Istas in Sheikah as he ran, and the rest of the guards were not far behind. The rest of the village, too, had exploded into chaos as well.
"Split up!" Link shouted, and they all scattered. A large group of guards also split themselves so that at least two or three followed each person. "This way, quickly!" Istas shouted, and led them up the passage that sloped upward, the entrance to the village. Two trainees standing on either side tried to stop them, but they were too fast, leaping from ledge to ledge upward until they were near the Tower of Hera. They ran quickly and blindly then, in all the passageways, until they finally came to the one that would lead to an area close to Kakariko Village. They didn't stop until they were past the village and into the Lost Woods. Here, they all rested until their spent breath returned. Link cut some branches for a fire. Soon, they were all in the fire's comforting glow. Anna removed the piece from her pocket. "That was one of the most exciting things I've ever done," she said, examining the piece in the firelight. "Me, too," Istas agreed, and they both laughed.
Ganon stood before his army once again. The Dark Faerie hovered just above them, waiting for Ganon to dismiss her and the army for the attack. Ganon paced back and forth a few times, examining every member of the army. All of them were armed with spears and swords, all were ready to leave at a moment's notice.
Ganon strode out of the room to his chamber. Waving his hands over his crystal ball, he could see the trio that sat around the fire. They were in the Lost Woods, he noted, which was both an advantage and disadvantage. It would take the army longer to sneak up on them, but they would be well hidden while they did. He returned to where his army stood in wait. All fell silent as he held up his arms.
"It is time to attack! Go, and do not fail me!" Ganon shouted. War cries and cheers erupted, and the group prepared to set out. "We will emerge victorious, Master Ganon," the Dark Faerie assured. She shrank until she was a small sphere of light with wings, then quickly flew off above the fleeing army. The ambush had begun.
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