Dusk had begun to spread across the sky as the trio made their way to Hyrule castle. The air was beginning to cool, and the calls of the crickets and owls started to reach their ears. The battle in the Sanctuary had unnerved them all a bit, warning them that the battle for the pieces was a tight one.
Anna began to feel dizzy again from the effects of the hit she had taken. The ground before her began to tilt, and she could feel herself start to fall. Istas, who had been at her side, caught her, lowering her slowly to the ground.
"Are you okay?" he asked, concerned. She tried to answer him, but found that she could not. Instead, she nodded, swallowing hard.
"Must've taken a harder hit than you thought," Link, who was standing alongside them, said to her. Instead of answering Link, Anna coughed. Burning pain coursed through her, and the salty taste of blood filled her mouth. Turning her head, she spit it out upon the dirt. She took a deep breath, making her lungs burn once again.
"I'll be fine, really," she said to them, finding her voice. Neither Link nor Istas replied, their faces still etched with worry. Somehow, she found the strength to stand. Her legs felt like gelatin, and her head ached. She drew in another shaky breath. Closing her eyes, she managed to stop the ache and dizziness that threatened to bring her down again.
"Let's go," Link said, walking briskly ahead of Anna and Istas, his concern passing.
"You're sure you're fine?" Istas asked Anna. She nodded. "Come on, we're going to the castle," she said, sprinting away to catch up to her brother, who was quickly disappearing in the newly fallen darkness. Istas reluctantly followed them.
They arrived at the castle a short time later. A guard approached them. "Who do you wish to see, Link?" he asked.
"We have to see Impa," Link replied. The guard nodded, then hurried inside the castle. Impa came out a moment later, standing in the castle doorway.
"Link? You wished to see me?" Impa asked, walking up to them.
"Yes, Impa. We're still looking for those pieces. The princess told me that the museum had one of them. May we have it?"
Impa looked distressed. "Yes, we did have it at one time, but....I don't know where it is, exactly."
"What do you mean?" Link asked, confused.
"It was once hidden in our museum. Long ago, there were once two pieces here. One was found by a past king, years back. He did not know what it was for. One piece belonged to a young sorcerer we had generations ago. He studied the legends of the Tetraforce extensively, and, with those legends and clues he discovered, he mapped out the approximate locations of each piece. He found but one piece, though, which he kept in a chest with him along with his map. One evening, he was walking through the Lost Woods when he was attacked by some of Ganon's evil minions. He was destroyed, the chest was lost. To this day, as far as anyone knows, no one knows what became of that chest. He didn't tell anyone of his find, and so no one knew of the Tetraforce, not even the princess, until recently. Only some descendants of the Seven Wise Men knew about it before. Then, we found some old, hidden documents that were written by the sorcerer. They told of his find and the map, but not much else," Impa finished.
"I wonder where it is, then?" Anna asked.
"Anna, where's the location of the next piece? We don't have time to waste looking around for this one," Link said.
"Um," Anna said, fumbling in her pocket for the map and finding it, "I think it's out in the desert someplace."
"All right, we'll have to hurry to the desert tonight, then," Link said decidedly. Groans of protest from Anna and Istas greeted this statement. Just then, Anna coughed again, bringing tears to her eyes and pain to her chest. She doubled over, still coughing, the pain getting more intense. Finally, she stopped, but the pain still lingered.
"I have something that could cure that," Impa said, then disappeared inside the castle. Moments later, she came back holding a flask and a glass. She poured a thick, green liquid into the glass, then held it out to Anna, who was looking at it in disgust and doubt.
"Here, drink the entire glass," Impa told her. Anna's look of disgust deepened, but she took the glass and held it to her lips.
The bitter liquid filled her mouth, nearly choking her. However, she managed to drink the whole glass without too much trouble. Then, the three of them started out toward the desert.
"You should have seen the look on your face when you had to drink that stuff!" Istas laughed, walking alongside Anna.
"Nayru's Love, that stuff was worse than that porridge we had in your village," Anna replied. "Besides, I'd like to have seen you drink it, it's horribly bitter."
By now, they walking through the tall grasses of the swamp, where any enemy of theirs could have easily hidden. "Be careful. Get your weapons ready, and be prepared to fight anytime," Link advised. Neither of them needed to be told twice. The swamp was a dangerous place to begin with during the day, but at night, this danger increased tenfold.
As they walked, each one on alert for a sign of danger, a moblin jumped out at them, startling them. The moblin threw its spear at Link, who blocked it with his shield. However, just as he was about to strike, ten more moblins leapt from the tall grasses and surrounded them. The trio stood, backs facing each other, weapons ready. At that moment, an evil laugh filled the air. The Dark Faerie appeared, gold shard in hand.
"Looking for this?" she laughed at them, opening her hand to show it off. She laughed again, then said, "Pathetic fools! Did you really think you had a chance? Army, attack! Make certain that you destroy them all!" The moblins growled, then began to advance on them, their spears held at ready. Link, Anna, and Istas looked on in horror. They were outnumbered.
"Oh, Din help us," Link prayed quickly.
Then, the moblins attacked.
Ganon, in the meantime, was watching the action from his crystal ball. As the moblins leapt in on the three figures they had surrounded, he cackled and made the image disappear. He looked up to where the princess stood, trapped in crystal.
"Say goodbye to your 'Hero' Princess Zelda. Even as we speak, he and those other two are being destroyed by my army." Ganon finished this statement with a leer aimed in Zelda's direction.
"No, Farore, no...." Zelda said. She had seen the images in the crystal ball, and she had to admit that things were not looking too promising for Link now. She had to do something! But what could she do, trapped in crystal? Making a fist, she hit the side of the crystal, hard. This sent pain jolting through her arm, but was ineffective otherwise. Holding her pained arm against her, Zelda desperately tried to think of something. Time is running out! she thought frantically. Then, she had an idea. She prayed to the goddesses she had enough power to do this.....
Closing her eyes, Zelda concentrated as hard as she could. Link, can you hear me? she telepathically said, hoping the telepathic waves she was sending out were able to reach him.
Link, in the meantime, was slashing at a moblin that was coming toward him, only to receive a spear in his shoulder from the back. Ignoring the pain, he managed to remove the spear, then do a whirling blade attack. This managed to destroy a few moblins that were in range. However, there were the others that had not been destroyed, which were starting to advance on them. Link backed up away from them, trying to cogitate his next move. Suddenly, he could hear Zelda's voice in his head.
Link, can you hear me? Don't give up! I know you can do this! she cried inside his head. Just as she said this, a moblin leapt at him, brandishing its spear. Link made an upward slash, destroying it instantly.
Istas and Anna were holding their own behind Link. Anna put an arrow through one of the moblins that came toward her. Then, another moblin thrust its spear at Istas. Grabbing the spear behind the sharp point, he managed to flip the moblin that held the other end high into the air. As the moblin landed on the grass, Istas drew the sword Link had given him and plunged it deep within the moblin's body.
Finally, with most of the army defeated, the Dark Faerie made an attempt to finish them off. The remainder of the army cowered behind her, unwilling to battle. The Dark Faerie created some energy spheres, then fired them all as quickly as possible at Link, Istas, and Anna. However, the three of them had been ready, dodging quickly out of the way.
"Blast it! I may have lost this battle, but evil will win the war! I still have this piece from the desert to take to Master Ganon!" the Dark Faerie said, hovering above where the trio stood.
"I don't think so," Anna said, hitting the Dark Faerie's hand with some energy from her pendant. The Dark Faerie shrieked as her hand was burnt from the energy. The Tetraforce piece tumbled out of her hand and into Anna's.
" This isn't the last you've seen of me!" the Dark Faerie threatened, then she and her army made an inglorious retreat back to Ganon.
Suddenly, Link could hear Zelda's voice in his head again. Link, I know you're doing what you can, but hurry! Ganon plans to capture you as well!
Zelda, where are you? he asked her telepathically.
In Ganon's horrid underworld lair, she answered him.
All right, but do you know where that piece from the museum is? he asked her.
I have it, Link.
Zelda, her telepathic conversation with Link finished, opened her eyes again. Fortunately, Ganon, who was not Hylian, could not hear her "talking" to him. He was staring deeply into his crystal ball, watching the fight.
Just then, the Dark Faerie appeared in back of Ganon.
"You failed," Ganon snarled, whirling to face her.
"Yes, Master Ganon, I know," the Dark Faerie mumbled, looking at the floor instead of Ganon's burning eyes.
"Maybe I should destroy you," Ganon snapped at her.
"Oh, no, Master Ganon, I'll make it up to you, somehow," the Dark Faerie pleaded.
"Fine," Ganon barked.
"What do you wish me to do, Master Ganon?" the Dark Faerie asked nervously.
"After I revive my army, I want all of you to go find those pests and bring them here. They won't stand a chance against all of you," Ganon ordered.
"Yes, Master Ganon, but what of the Tetraforce pieces?" the Dark Faerie asked.
"That is the best part of my plan, you fool. We leave those pests to do the work for us. The pieces can't unite until they are all in one place together, anyway, and so when they get the remaining pieces, capture them and bring them to me!"
Princess Zelda gasped inside the crystal. So, that's their fiendish plan! she thought. She concentrated on trying to contact Link again, but she didn't have enough strength left to send the telepathic waves far enough.
Oh, I hope Link knows what he's doing, she thought waveringly.
Link's eyes opened. He'd been standing stock still for a few minutes now, listening for Zelda to come back inside his head. Hearing nothing, he turned to Anna and Istas, who stood side by side behind him, waiting for their next move.
"I found out what became of the piece, and where Zelda is," he told them.
"You have? Who contacted you? Sasharala?" Anna asked.
"No, it was Zelda. She contacted me from Ganon's underworld lair," Link answered her.
"Well, where's the piece?!" Anna snapped, impatient.
"Zelda has it. She must have taken it out of the museum and kept it with her so Ganon couldn't find it," Link replied.
"Well, this is just wonderful. We waste the time to go over there, and the princess had it all along," Anna said sardonically. She was hungry, tired, and her arms, especially the injured one, ached considerably.
"How will we get into the underground lair?" Istas asked Link.
"There's some entrances around Hyrule. There has to be. But first things first. We need to find the rest of the pieces and find out who the Chosen One is. Anna, where's the next piece?" Link asked.
Anna sighed, producing the map from her pocket. Unrolling it once again, she scanned it quickly.
"According to this, it's in or around Lake Hylia," Anna answered.
"Let's go," Link said, leading the way toward Lake Hylia. Istas followed, and Anna, sighing from weariness and frustration, followed.
Ganon was watching them as they started to walk. He had managed to revive most of his army, and was ready to plan an attack.
"Go, you fools, find the pieces," Ganon said to the three images in the crystal ball, "little do you realize you are really helping me!"
Princess Zelda, upon hearing this, slipped a hand into the pocket of her dress and found the Tetraforce piece. Ganon did not know she had it, and she hoped it would remain that way.
"Oh, Link, be careful," she mumbled softly.
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