Chapter 11: Partisans
“I told you to memorize it and destroy it,” Ria said flatly.
Sitting at the table in the private dining room, Link continued examining his arrows, sighing as another one joined the pile of broken. “I have it memorized,” he told her, selecting another. “I just never thought anyone would have an interest in it. No one knows about what happened in that other future.”
“Oh?” The cloaked woman towered over him, the shadow cast by her deep hood seeming even darker than before, and folded her arms beneath the folds of gray cloth. “Do you think Ganondorf’s followers remain ignorant if you yet retain knowledge? Or someone who overheard you when you so carelessly started reading it aloud in The Assassin’s Blade might have been intrigued enough to think he might be able to sell it to someone. Or she.”
“Will you give it a rest?” Link demanded, throwing the arrow down and glaring up at her. Rising to his feet, he drew a deep breath before stalking to the other side of the room. “What’s the point of going to the Sacred Realm, anyway?”
Ria took a moment in answering, and then she said, “Perhaps the goddesses are not done with you. Perhaps they wish to ensure the protection of the Triforce.”
Snorting, he rounded on her. “Right. And I believe in Mother Tala.”
Abruptly, the door banged open, and Noah strode in, followed by Romani and Pelayla. He carelessly tossed his hat beside the arrows and said, “I know who took that prophecy of yours. Or the most likely candidate for the job.”
“Who?” he asked eagerly, staring at the man. Maybe if he moved swift enough, he could take it back before any damage was wrought from it.
The Karradaini shrugged and fell into a chair, legs sprawled out in front of him. “Everyone describes a man of middling height with a darker complexion entering this place, a lean man with black hair that curls around his ears, garbed in extremely plain clothes, though well-made. They thought he was a man from the country attempting to get free handouts from the innkeeper, who left because he got none. I talked to the innkeeper, too; he said the man asked specifically for the rooms of another countryman, one who liked to wear a plain tunic that was the color of forests. He claimed he was a friend of yours.”
The description did not sound familiar to Link, but the fact that the stranger had apparently thrown in the bit about forests.... He might have just said it to clarify the specific shade of his tunic, but his garb was distinct in Karradai even without mention of color, and few knew the truth of his upbringing.
“That man wants me to search for him,” he realized.
Everyone turned to stare at him. “Oh?” Romani said, a touch faintly. “What makes you think that.”
“This.” Plucking at his green tunic, Link sighed. “It was no chance that man mentioned forests in describing my usual garb; only a few know I grew up in
. If the man wanted to leave no trail, he would not have brought up forests. He wants me to follow him.” Kokiri Forest
Grabbing his hat, Noah unconsciously stroked the scarlet plume. “Do you wish to go now?”
Link frowned at him. “What?”
“Do you wish to go now?” he repeated. “With that man fresh in people’s memory, we can find him in two hours, three if it’s been awhile. Maybe we can get your prophecy back.”
“I’ll get my bow,” Romani offered, but Link cut her off.
“No. You, Ria, and Pelayla will stay here and watch the rooms, to make sure nothing else gets stolen.” His hand stole to the pouch containing the Ocarina of Time. Those other people had wanted that; he would never let it out of his sight or off his person. “Noah and I will search.”
Romani opened her mouth angrily, but Ria said, “A wise decision. One must guard what remains in one’s possession.”
“A fairy could be useful,” Pelayla said brightly. “Fairies can usually sense magic and such.”
“And how would that help us?” Link demanded. “Can that man use magic?”
“Well, what if he has a companion who can?” she countered. “Then you could be on guard.”
Noah stroked his chin thoughtfully. “I say we take her with us,” he responded. “If nothing else, she’ll be another pair of eyes.”
Throwing up his hand in frustration, Link snapped, “Fine, but you’ll need to wear less conspicuous clothes.”
“Less!” he spluttered indignantly. “You’re the one who stands out! You should dress more like a Karradaini than a... whatever you’re dressed like.”
Which is how Link found himself trekking a mile outside the city, clad in a thigh-length cerulean coat covered in thick embroidery.
“I hate this,” he muttered, not for the first time, as he stared down at himself. Even his breeches were encrusted with vibrant threads, nearly obscuring the virulent green fabric.
“How can you?” Noah responded, happily fingering the strange wolf-engraved bracelet connected to the ring by a delicate chain. He wore his plumed hat at a jaunty angle, and he seemed genuinely pleased to be wearing a coat blanketed with embroidery and tiny gems. “No one looked twice at you, either.”
It was true; as he and Noah asked after the strange man, no one had cast Link any of the questioning glances he had grown used to from Karradaini. They actually seemed to accept him. And they had asked numerous people, tracking the thief halfway across the city before one elderly man told them to head for a manor outside the settlement. Apparently, the dark-haired man had bought a loaf of bread and, when asked where he was staying, had told of some abandoned manor house outside the city, because he was too poor to afford an inn room.
“Whose estates are these?” he asked, glancing at Pelayla as she settled on his shoulder, panting slightly.
“No one’s,” Noah answered. “The only manor outside the city has long been abandoned. The estates last belonged to a noble lady, a cousin of the then-lord of Morda.”
Wishing for the familiar weight of his sword, Link stared at the run-down manor rising atop a hill before them, sprawling out in an empty shell of former grandeur. Overhead, haunting cries sounded from the twisted shapes of the skodrags far above, and beyond the building, only darkness waited. Shadows clung thickly to the rear of the dilapidated building, marking the end of the considerable light from
. Crystal City
“How far does this cavern stretch?” Link inquired as he started climbing the hill.
“No one knows,” Noah admitted. “This is the furthest anyone’s gone from the city. There’s bound to be some creatures lurking in the darkness.”
“Maybe we should be quiet,” Pelayla suggested, slipping between Link’s coat and shirt.
Noah nodded agreement, and then they all skirted the worn path leading to the front of the manor, creeping to the side and slinking through the shadows. Broken windows were set in the walls periodically, some even suggesting rooms beneath the ground, but few bore any sort of covering, and then the curtains were rotted and crumbling with age and cloaked in dust. Pausing at each opening, Link listened for a moment before slinking along to the next one, straining to catch anything.
What if he’s in an inner room, or an upper one? he wondered bleakly. Or what if he’s not even here? He could have been lying about where he was going. But if he truly wanted me to follow, wouldn’t he want to lead me to the correct location?
Suddenly, Noah gripped his arm, eyes wide and head tilted. Pointing to a relatively intact window offering a glimpse into a room under the ground--a room lit with crystal lamps and relatively free of dust--he knelt and moved forward. Link dropped to all fours beside him, peering through the glass cautiously.
Twelve people occupied the room, though “people” was a major generalization; on a normal day, Link would have only applied the term to eight, four men and four women, one of whom he recognized as Senna, though now she wore black robes edged in green and gold. Two of the remaining four were Lizalfos, one decked out in bands of gold and colorful sashes, the other swathed in a crimson cloak and leather-and-iron armor. Another bore a resemblance to the Lizalfos, but it was larger and more muscular, a hound beside curs, and bore a spiked crest at the back of its head, with sheets of steel covering it--a Dinolfos. And the final figure, planted in one corner and nearly lost in the shadows hovering about the edges of the room, was a Stalfos.
“It’s him,” Noah mouthed, pointing toward a dark-haired man with gaunt features. “That has to be him.”
Senna regarded the man in question with pursed lips, fingers steepled before her face as she leaned forward in a heavy wooden chair. “So Lonnu’s suspicions were correct, it seems. A prophecy real and true. Or prophetic instructions.”
A slender man Link recognized from The Assassin’s Blade straightened in his ladder-backed chair, casting a triumphant smile at no one in particular as he absently smoothed sleek mahogany bangs. “I told you.” Twisting, he glared first at the Stalfos, then at the Lizalfos in the cloak. “You two were there, and you didn’t believe me!”
“It is... difficult... to know what to believe,” the Lizalfos said smoothly, a slight sibilant cast to its words.
“No matter,” Senna said dismissively. “Whatever disbeliefs Lord Faska held, he has a right to his own opinion.”
Lord Faska seemed to preen beneath her words, but a woman shoved past the reptile roughly, earning a furious hiss that she ignored. Clad in black shirt and breeches, with a faded black cloak hanging from her shoulders and ending in a hem of white silk, she would have stood out anywhere even without her strange coloration. Feathery white hair, cropped in a shaggy line even with her jaw, fell over pure white skin, every visible inch the color of fresh snow. Beneath her long bangs, pink eyes glared fiercely, the pupils blood red.
“You say we have a right to our own opinions, yet how often have you called me down for what I hold toward all Hylians?” She clenched a fist, faded scars standing out on the taut skin. Her hair shifted a little, revealing the short rounded ears of a human.
“And that is the reason our lord left me in charge,” a woman cut in, shifting in her chair. With flame-hued hair, dark tan skin, and yellow eyes, she was most definitely Gerudo, clad in the traditional silken garments of her people. She glared at Senna, and Link was suddenly minded of two she-wolves fighting for control of the pack, both hardly able to stand the other. “If you were in charge, Senna, why, how many of the Partisans would leave?”
Slowly, Senna bowed her head, a wolf giving way but not giving up. “As you say, Avra. Though you only hold a minimal place over me.”
“Minimal!” the Gerudo blazed. “Minimal! I was his first supporter! I am his closest follower, his most loyal--”
“You shared his bed first; that is all,” Senna said dismissively, waving a hand in a languid manner.
The gaunt-faced man glanced at her, scorn in his feverish eyes. “And you wriggled your way into it soon after.”
“Be silent, you filthy demon-worshiper!” a tall man with flyaway ash-blond hair snapped, sitting upright in his chair to the right of Senna. His silken clothes hinted at wealth, the coat touched with detailed embroidery, the breeches of a fine cut. Even his polished black boots bore silver tooling and crimson tassels.
Regarding the man seated to her right with a hooded look, Senna ordered, “Asner, you need not defend me from Hynor. He serves the same man you do, the same man we all serve.”
“A man who abandoned us,” the Stalfos suddenly grated, voice like the grave split open and given terrible life.
“General Okbrand, you should know better!” the Gerudo woman snarled. “Our lord would never abandon us! It was the fault of that damned Hero!”
“Avra, please,” Senna sneered. “We have heard you blaze against the man often enough.”
The Stalfos turned to regard the slender mahogany-haired man--Lonnu--with the guttering flames that pulsed in his otherwise empty eye sockets. “This one held me from snapping his flimsy neck the time we saw him in Morda.” Flexing his bony fingers, the general growled wordlessly. “I could have ended all our troubles that day.”
“And where would that leave us?” Avra demanded. “The Hero dead, yes, but how do we know for sure he carries the Ocarina of Time with him? If he does not, will we ever manage to find it? The only other person who might know its location is the princess, but none of us have an inkling as to her location. Unless one of you are holding information back?”
Noah glanced at Link, a questioning light in his eyes, but Link stared down into the room, his heart hammering so loud he almost lost the thread of conversation. That Gerudo was the woman who had sent the people to kidnap him in search of the ocarina. He recognized Asner’s voice from the swordsman who had confronted Ria, and the albino woman had to be the one he had talked to after Link hid himself beneath the fallen tree. And they all served a common master. Surely they did not follow....
“The Ocarina of Time is our only sure path to freeing Lord Ganondorf.” Avra nodded decisively, as though stating the most logical thing in the world.
The window swayed; the world swayed. Struggling not to lose consciousness in his shock, Link forced his racing heart to slow, fought down the sudden fear drying his mouth. These people mean to free Ganondorf. Goddesses, what can I do?
“The only path?” Senna’s voice was almost mocking. “Avra, have you forgotten what Hynor managed to pluck from the Hero’s possessions? A prophecy of some sort, stating a way to enter the Sacred Realm. Once in the Sacred Realm, we can open the gate to the Evil Realm, and no messy time magicks involved. And thinking to find the ocarina unguarded? A fool notion. I saw the Hero’s eyes up close, when he accompanied the prince to the king and queen. A dangerous man, unwilling to trust. And quite handsome.” A sudden smile bloomed on her face, mysterious and seductive. “He fits into my tastes perfectly.”
“Then your tastes must be very broad indeed,” the fourth woman said from the shadows near the Stalfos, in an oddly metallic voice, “if Ganondorf, Asner, and the Hero all fit within them. Strange. Mayhaps you like tall men?”
The black robed woman shrugged smoothly, casually drawing attention to her impressive bosom with practiced ease. “Does it really matter to you, Shinabi, who I choose to take to my bed?”
“Trip, most likely,” the woman returned, barking a short laugh, “if it comes to the Hero.”
Bounding to her feet, Avra glared around her. “Enough!” she shouted. “We are here to discuss how to gain the Ocarina of Time, not the sorceress’s preference in men! At the least, we must draft plans to free Lord Ganondorf. Asner, how is your assignment coming along?”
The men jerked a thumb at Senna before crossing his arms. “She’s the one who can fulfill that plan.”
The Gerudo scowled fiercely as she sank back into her seat, yellow eyes stabbing murder into the woman across from her. “Very... well,” she gritted out. “And Hynor and Lonnu are attempting to learn what has brought the Hero here?”
Inclining his head, the dark-haired man said, “That is correct.”
Lonnu rubbed his hands together almost gleefully. “I hope it gives me the chance to secure some of Dragonslayer’s possessions. From what Hynor here told me he went through in his search for the ocarina, the Hero travels well.”
“Be quiet, thief,” Avra ordered. “You may be skilled at snatching objects and creeping so stealthily as to shame the shadows you use to your advantage, but you are too greedy for your own good.” With that, she turned and left the man quivering with rage, his face flushed. “And your armies are in position?”
General Okbrand grunted flatly in answer, and Lord Faska flourished his cloak as he said, “Certainly, I have convinced the king to--”
A tall bearded man with careworn eyes and a sad expression nodded. “Yes, my men are in line, whatever I could safely remove from my country.”
Surprisingly, the albino woman glanced at him, something close to sympathy in her hard eyes. “I would not blame you if you had not brought one soldier,” she said quietly.
“Blame is not yours to give, Kal,” Avra intoned, staring the woman down. “If King Jarj had not followed through on his part....”
The person in the shadows stepped forward, and Link stared at a tall woman of regal carriage, shaggy black hair falling to her hips, clad in chain mail and plate armor, with a bone pendant resting on her chest. At first, he thought her human, but then he noticed her eyes, like two circles of flat steel, with no distinction between pupil, iris, or white.
“My people are always ready to move, for whatever purpose,” she began, a smile on her rather ordinary face. One of her metal-gauntleted hands idly tapped at the pendant, the joint-long segments flashing in the light. “They are ready. Not just the Lesser Armored, which is all the Hero ever faced, but the Greater as well.” No, she was not wearing gauntlets; her hands were made of metal.
“At least the Iron Knuckles followed instructions,” Avra growled. “Well? Ra’noyl?”
The Dinolfos drew herself up to her impressive height of about eight foot, proud and intimidating, eyes flashing as she turned her head. “The Dinolfos are ready,” she announced in a rough voice. “This land was originally ours; we were slaughtered, driven out by the Riders. It is time we take back what is our birthright.” Her eyes became sharp and deadly. “This is what Ganondorf promised us, after all. Dinolfos do not like those who go back on their word.”
“And no one will,” Avra promised. Yellow eyes flicking to Senna, lounging almost smugly in her chair, she glowered. “Read that prophecy again.”
A delighted smile bloomed on her beautiful face, and she fished up one of her voluminous sleeves. Removing a piece of parchment, she unrolled it and read,
“If you seek to open the Gate,
The Key you seek is Shadowed Fate.
In the Secrets that lie beneath the Ground
Is where the Wisdom required is found.
To find the Third Force of Power,
First you must seek the Sacred Flower.
When the Three gather all in
Then you shall see the Sacred Ones’ Face.
On to the Realm through the Gates you pass.
Before you will stand a Magnificent Mass.
Three Stone Structures with Names familiar to you,
The Names of the Gods, Din, Farore, and Nayru.”
Concluding, the sorceress stared down at it, tapping her bottom lip in thought. “This Shadowed Fate is what is truly holding us back from using this to open the Evil Realm. I believe the Hero knows what Shadowed Fate refers to, and that is what he’s looking for. So I say we capture the Hero, question him about it, and then make sure he is no longer a threat.”
“I will take him,” the second Lizalfos said, in a cultured feminine voice that could have come from any nobly born lady. “It is fashionable to collar a human as a pet, and the fiercer the pet, the better.”
“Mate, what nonsense is that?” Lord Faska scoffed, regarding the sash-clothed creature. “Better to kill him.”
“We will discuss such things later, Lady Iscilix,” Avra said. “I say we end for now. Each of you know what you are to do?” Barely waiting for their nods, she continued, “Then go about your tasks.”
“Come on,” Noah hissed in Link’s ear, desperately tugging on the arm of his coat. “Come on, they’ll be out soon!”
Pelayla fluttered near the Hyrulian’s head. “Link, please,” she begged. “And if that man really wanted you to follow him, he’ll be searching for you!”
Tearing his gaze from the people--had they referred to themselves as the Partisans?--he rose and drew a deep breath. “Well then. Let’s go.”
Avoiding the narrow road, the three headed back toward
swiftly, circling around to approach from a direction opposite that of the old manor. They traveled in silence for awhile, then Noah asked, “Link, who’s this Ganondorf? When that Avra first mentioned his name, your face paled and your eyes grew so wide.... Who is he?” Crystal City
Link glanced at the man. If he betrayed him.... But he won’t. He can’t. If that was his intention, he would have done so long ago. “To know, you need to learn about my past.” And he began.
Arriving back at Evren’s Star, Noah shook his head in disbelief. “Now I understand why you blow up so often. Dragons, if that had happened to me....! How can you handle it?”
Link shrugged. “I’m not sure, to be honest,” he admitted as he opened the door. “I just take life one day at a time.”
“You need a wife,” Noah said. “A wife would make your life happier.”
Returning to the private dining room, Link found Ria and Romani seated in there, eating a meal in silence. Stomach rumbling loudly, he grabbed a hot crusty roll and ate it swiftly before sitting and clearing his throat. As the two women turned toward him, he related all he, Noah, and Pelayla had overheard.
Romani frowned in obvious confusion, but Ria’s gloved hands clenched into fists, and as he concluded, she growled, “So that is what they plan. To free Ganondorf. And they think you know what Shadowed Fate is.”
“I don’t!” he exclaimed. “Goddesses, why does it always have to be me? What can I do?”
“You can race against them,” the cloaked woman responded. “The only good I can see in that is their ignorance to Zelda’s location; they must think her yet in Hyrule. But an army is gathering, and the next battle of the Imprisoning War is beginning to draw near.”
“Lizalfos, Stalfos, Dinolfos, Iron Knuckle,” Link listed glumly. “And humans, I think. Jarj is the king of a nation of humans. Though I don’t know why he joined Ganondorf.”
Scratching his jaw, Noah said, “Well, they are doing a good job of hiding right now. So what are we going to do?”
“We try to solve the mystery of the prophecy before they do,” Link responded. “For now, I’ll go to this library and see if I can’t learn anything.”
Back to Story Menu