Shadowed Fate

By Farore769

Chapter 13: Feraladrask


“I’m glad you could come,” Aphelandra said brightly, fiddling with the reins of the plump gray mare she had borrowed for the day. “Maybe you’ll be able to decipher some things about the temple.”

            Link uttered a neutral sound, shifting in his saddle. Phantom easily kept pace with the mare and the showy roan sprinter used by Tirgan, though the dun stallion occasionally nipped at Kyrani’s black gelding, which instantly nipped back before she could rein the animal in. She wore a pale blue gown, the color odd with her dark complexion, with skirts divided for riding astride, and her long hair still tumbled loosely past her shoulders.

            “It is fascinating, the temple,” Tirgan informed, sitting his mount as stiffly as the stick he resembled. “So ancient, so fascinating. The very air reeks with auras of mystery....” Acquiring a vacant look in his dark eyes, he dug out a journal and dipped a pen into a jar of ink held at his waist in a sort of scabbard, writing swiftly.

            Tossing her head and sending her hair flying like a spray of fire, Kyrani sneered. “I still am not sure how you convinced me to come along. It was probably my longing for fresh air after spending so long in that stagnant cavern.”

            Link silently agreed with her; the outside air tasted blessedly sweet compared to that underground, the breeze refreshingly cool. And, the previous night, Romani had come to the priest’s home, bringing a set of his usual garb, all his weapons, and even a new dark green cloak, meaning that he could wear his customary tunic and carry his sword and shield strapped across his back. He was not entirely back to normal, however; while all the ink had come off his face quite easily, his hair was oddly colored in shades varying from its true blond hue to a sooty shade to a few strands of pure black. Every glance at his reflection had made him grimace in distaste.  

            Aphelandra shrugged, swaying in her saddle in an almost serpentine manner. If her father was stiff, she was sinuous, resisting no movement. “Crystal City is not stagnant. It just takes a little time to get used to the lack of wind and sun. Still, there are no storms, either.”

            The Gerudo shook her head in something close to disgust. “To feel the wind, whether it is searing hot and carries scoring sand in its breath or bone-numbing cold that bears the hollow sense of death with it, is to experience life. The wind is the breath of the goddesses.”

            The priestess’s hands twitched toward the pen and ink jar sheathed at her right hip, but she resisted. “We are almost there,” she announced instead, peering ahead. “It is surrounded by trees, yet it is there if you look closely enough.”

            Spotting a small wood, Link searched among it for signs of the temple. At first, he found nothing among the leafy canopy, but then he caught a glimpse of a roof tiled in red, patches missing and much overgrown, but with areas polished to a bright gleam. He saw stone walls flash between gaps in trees, and then the horses entered the sprawling copse. Falling in behind Aphelandra, he searched for more signs of the building lying hidden within the trees, but he found none until they halted before the entrance.

            Stone the color of warm honey rose from the ground, covered in creepers and vines forcing their shoots between the blocks, and a large section of one of a pair of pillars flanking the door was missing, the broken edges worn smooth by time. The doorframe was crumbling, yet Link could hardly help but notice the archaic Hylian script covering it, offering praises to Din, the most temperamental of the Golden Three.

            “See, isn’t it fascinating?” Aphelandra practically gushed, dismounting less than gracefully and tying the mare’s reins around a nearby branch. “I know there are inner rooms we haven’t seen. And that writing! I’ve been trying to translate it, but all I have so far is....” Digging in her saddlebags, she tugged out a leather-bound book and riffled through the pages. “ ‘... offer our... Din, mos... den Three... war....’ It only gets more complicated from there on out.”

            “It says, ‘We offer our lives, our souls and beings to you, Din, most fiery-hearted of the Golden Three, who guides us through war and battles, through....’ ” Link shrugged, unable to read further because of the defacing. He had merely pieced together the fragmented parts that began the homage, using his knowledge of Din to guide him.

            “How do you know that?” Tirgan demanded eagerly, practically falling out of his saddle but writing swiftly.

            “I can read it,” he replied. “It’s just an older version of the script I’m used to.”

            Father and daughter shared significant looks, but Kyrani suddenly said, “He speaks true; the Hylian script is hardly any more difficult than the Gerudo writing, which is merely a different way of expressing the same language, rather than the simple tongue used in Karradai.”

            “Would you be willing to translate what’s inside?” Aphelandra asked Link. “Either of you,” she added, facing Kyrani. “Dragons, we’ve had you inside our house for nearly a year and I never thought to ask if you could read this script.”

            “To intrude upon the sacred temple of the goddess of battles....” The Gerudo sounded affronted. “No. It would be like defiling the Spirit Temple, like slaying a desert serpent even if he is about to sink his deadly fangs into your flesh.” Unconsciously, she rubbed the outer side of her right thigh. “Desert serpents are creatures of Din herself. To raise a hand against one is to raise a hand against the Creator herself.”

            “Well, all right,” Tirgan said indifferently, smoothly his hair and leaving streaks of ink in the yellow wisps. “Come, Aphelandra.”

            Together, the pair entered the temple, swiftly disappearing within the heavy shadows. Glancing at Kyrani, Link cast her a wry smile. “They never even asked me if I would accompany them.”

            “Do you wish to?”

            He shrugged. “I’m not sure how I would feel stepping within a ruined temple paying homage to Din; I’ve always read that she is a temperamental mistress. Besides, the goddess who chose me is Farore. No, I’d prefer conversing with you, if you don’t mind.”

            Nodding graciously, she inquired, “And what do you wish to talk about?”

            “Well, for one, you said you were an outcast of your own choice. Does that have something to do with these desert serpents? Did you kill one or something?”

            Straightening in her saddle, Kyrani shook her head. “Easterners are so ignorant. No one raises a hand against a desert serpent, even if he strikes out at you. To be bitten by a desert serpent is to die screaming within six hours, and many Gerudo have fallen to his fangs before. Only three have been recorded who survived the bite, and of them, only the great Uranu herself suffered no permanent damage; the others were either partially paralyzed or so weak they died within ten years.”

            “Then why are you an outcast?” he asked quietly.

            She hesitated. “A Gerudo rarely knows her father’s name, let alone knows the man,” she began slowly, as though measuring each word. “The men of other races are only needed to continue our people, and a Gerudo goes through so many in her violent life that she hardly cares to remember much more than the aspects in him that should make his daughter a fearsome warrior. So it is no surprise that I never knew my father as I grew up. But while a Gerudo is rarely raised by her birthmother--too much pain can come if great affection grows between two who share such an intimate connection--the mother always names her daughter, the only exception being if she dies in childbirth. Yet my mother not only handed me off to another woman right away, she never even bothered to gift me a name. And she did the unthinkable; instead of moving on and forgetting my father, as is right and true with Gerudo custom, she went off and followed him.

            “As I grew,” Kyrani continued, “I realized certain people meant to place me in a position of power, yet as a mere puppet. You see, they believed that, since my birthmother had not named me, I was not properly Gerudo and therefore could be used for their own advancement. I struggled against it, but only two others ever stood up for me, the two who had granted me a name and chosen to raise me. After I returned from my first solo excursion into the desert when I turned thirteen, others began trying to force me to conform to their wants. For years they tried, and for years I put them off. But I finally ran away, fled to the green lands to the east, and eventually came to this country, where the people practically mock Feraladrask.”

            “You mentioned this... Feraladrask before,” Link said, slightly chilled at the insight into Gerudian upbringing. “What is it?”

            “Feraladrask ne Gerudo, the One Great Dragon of the Daughters of the Desert, is said to be the daughter of Din,” Kyrani explained. “A burst of power transformed into spirit, to be reborn every thousand years in the flesh as a Gerudo woman. She is Din’s chosen fighter, the only individual truly worthy of the Triforce of Power, and bears her mother’s symbol on her palms. She has the ability to transform into a great copper and black dragon, to unite the Gerudo if ever they begin to split.”

            The banners of Karradai bore a copper and black dragon. And what she said of Feraladrask fit with the prophecy he had skimmed over. Brows drawing together, Link faced her and asked, “Reborn every thousand years? When is she to be reborn again?”

            Absently smoothing her horse’s mane, Kyrani sighed. “She has only been born into the flesh once; she is too new for aught else. Have you heard of the Lost War?”

            “A little,” he answered. “Enough to know it was the worst war the world has ever faced.”

            “It took place about a thousand years,” Kyrani said softly, staring down at nothing. “In the time when the two great demons yet surviving from before creation still roamed the world, the Fierce Deity gathered to her followers eager to share her power. But she is not a caring mistress, and views mortals as mere tools. With her immense strength, she moved forward to tear all of creation apart. But every race, from civil to bestial, faced with one great threat, banded together for the first and only time, human beside Hylian, Gerudo standing with our natural enemies the Lizalfos, and all others. Only truly spiritual beings stayed from the conflict, and just because the Fierce Deity would turn their own powers against them. And so, the greatest army of all time marched forward, with the very goddesses to lead them.

            “The war lasted years. It is hinted, in the ancient chronicles of the Gerudo, that entire races were wiped out forever. The Hyrulians lost their king and prince to the fighting, leaving the queen alone to rally them back and fight on. We Gerudo lost our king as well, though the Lizalfos ruler had attempted to save him and perished in the process, the only compassionate act between our two races. Much of the world went up in flames, and the serpentine dragons of the Northlands joined the Fierce Deity. Yet one fateful battle, it seemed that the armies of life would triumph through sheer force of will, led by the Golden Three and with masterful generals and intelligent fighters. But the greatest blow was not struck by Janthlianti, though the demon slaughtered thousands in mere seconds. It was when a young Hylian general, handsome, looked-up to and admired, with a bright future of fame and glory ahead of him--it was when he led all his men forward in a daring charge, straight toward the Fierce Deity herself. Led them forward, and turned on his former comrades.”

            Anger contorted Kyrani’s face. “His betrayal shattered the resolve of those who had previously been his allies. The armies of life faltered, and it seemed in that moment that Blazeyes would triumph over all, that Janthlianti would achieve her wish of destroying all created by the goddesses. But Din struck out toward her, and the two greatest powers of all struggled in a desperate fight. Farore guarded her sister’s back while gathering the ragged army around her, and Nayru, weeping even as she granted the wisdom needed to defeat the Fierce Deity to her followers, bound the demon in place. Fifty Hylians and fifty Sheikah struck Janthlianti at the same time with the knowledge that they would die once the blow fell, and in that one moment of weakness the goddesses pounced upon her and sealed her inside a mask, for even they could not destroy her utterly. As for that general and his followers, they were cursed for all eternity to know their mistakes and suffer for them in a hellish mockery of existence, sundered forever from all forms of civilization.

            “As those who had survived dared draw a tremulous breath, remnants of the goddesses’ powers yet lingered in the air. That power gathered together, and some pieces formed guiding spirits, while others returned to the races as greater magical prowess. Yet one bit of Din’s power gathered into a spirit, true, yet while the fighting was being wrapped up and the ragged victors were harrying the cursed general and his men from the land, a Gerudo gave birth on the field of battle, a sacred thing. The mother died instantly, but the spirit entered her child and encompassed the babe’s being. She was found by other Gerudo and named Uranu, a child of the greatest battle ever fought.”

            Sighing, the Gerudo shook her head. “Shortly after Uranu’s birth and the return to the desert--the entire Gerudo people had ridden out, and only four dozen returned--a Keshama had a vision granted by Din, and she spoke the prophecy of Feraladrask. The Gerudo people began eagerly awaiting the birth of that remarkable girl, one born on the battlefield from the ashes of war. Everyone was made to wind the Dragonhorn, a stylized representation of Feraladrask with a desert serpent coiled about her, for a roar would come when it touched Feraladrask’s lips. But not one produced anything but the usual cry, so they thought her yet to be born.”

            “But this Uranu was Feraladrask, wasn’t she?” Link inquired.

            “Of course!” Kyrani snapped. “But do you think anyone realized that? Of course not! Feraladrask never knows herself until she transforms. But pieces of the prophecy were fulfilled without anyone realizing. She was bitten by a serpent within the desert and lived. She fled the desert and studied in a land greener than the one of her birth, only done by two previous and three since, including myself. And then another war began, one you Hylians have forgotten. And Uranu returned in time to wind a mighty roar from the Dragonhorn before assuming the form of a dragon. She is sometimes called the Sand Goddess, and it is her you see in the Spirit Temple, with a desert serpent twined about her, though that image was hewn centuries before her mother first drew breath. And now we wait for Feraladrask to be reborn, to awaken to herself.”

            “Fate is cruel,” Link said bitterly. “Feraladrask will be forced to her destiny without say, as I was.”

            “Yet you have accepted, at least in part,” Kyrani countered. “You have your birthright, the Triforce of Courage, as does the Princess of Destiny. That traitor Ganondorf--he is no longer Gerudo; he has been cast out--stole Feraladrask’s right. She alone is worthy to bear the Triforce of Power. Yet that is not to be, now.”

            Idly fingering his reins, Link pondered the flood of new information. A Gerudo who can transform into a dragon. Would I want to meet her? She must be a fierce person. “Any idea who might be the new Feraladrask?”

            Shooting him a contemptuous look, Kyrani said, “No, of course not! No one knows who she is until she knows herself.”

            Aphelandra suddenly emerged from the temple, clutching something to her front. An eager smile crossed her delicate face, and she turned back to her father as he emerged, exclaiming, “I told you it would be worthwhile to return!”

            Tirgan nodded. “Never said it wouldn’t be. We need to return to Crystal City, now, before we are fined for borrowing these horses too long.”

            Untying her horse and mounting--she did not seem to care that the skirts of her robes were pushed up to her knees--the priestess nodded emphatically. “Oh yes, we do. You should have come inside, Link. It’s a fascinating place. You can still come in.”

            “I think I’ve been in enough temples to last me a lifetime,” he said quietly, mentally revisiting each of the temples of the Sages and the traps and horrors within.

            Clicking his tongue, Tirgan dragged himself onto his roan in a most ungainly manner. “Ah, but this one is special.”

            “Yes,” Aphelandra agreed. “No other temple in Karradai compares, at least not the ones I’ve visited. Too bad the temple to Nayru is sealed shut.”

            “Maybe Link could figure out a way to enter?” the stick-like man suggested, peering at the Hyrulian in a birdlike manner.

            Wheeling her gelding around, Kyrani said, “If you mean to return to the city before nightfall, we must head out now.” To punctuate her statement, she stood up in her stirrups and peered at the sunlight streaming through the canopy.

            “Yes, we must go.” Flapping reins and thumping his legs against the roan’s sides, Tirgan urged his mount forward. Aphelandra heeled her plump mare after him, swaying in her saddle in a manner that suggested her bones were no longer solid.

            Phantom trotted beside the black gelding, and once Link made it clear that no biting would be tolerated, the stallion ignored Kyrani’s mount. The woman studied the horse from the corner of her eye, then nodded in satisfaction. “He is fine, well bred and properly trained. And you seem to have a general idea of how to treat him.”

            “Well, I gleaned a little watching Gerudo practice horseback archery,” he said. “I’m a fair one at that, as well.”

            Waving a hand dismissively, Kyrani said, “Oh, the targets are only used for basic training. True horseback archery has your horse galloping among enemy fire and foes all around, trusting your mount to know when to turn. I’ve noticed Karradaini prefer animals that will not turn aside unless their rider saws on the reins, even if it means plunging over a cliff. I prefer an intelligent mount.”

            “I do, too,” Link responded, thinking of Epona. He would always take her over any other horse, even Phantom, for he knew her better, knew how she would react in certain situations.

            The two hour journey passed uneventfully, Tirgan and Aphelandra eagerly discussing their theories and comparing notes, the priest coming dangerously close to tumbling out of his saddle. Kyrani, however, stared off at the landscape, obviously lost in deep thought. With nothing better to do, Link mulled over what he had learned from the woman, wondering if it meant anything to him or had any connection with the prophecy he sought to decipher.

            Reaching the stables outside the entrance to the cavern, father and daughter returned their mounts while Link and Kyrani stabled theirs. The four trekked through the tunnel and out onto the open ledge, where a glider awaited them, a dark-haired woman leaning against it. Noticing them, she ushered them aboard before climbing beneath. Closing his eyes, Link did not open them again until Kyrani touched his shoulder after they were safely landed on the ledge overlooking Crystal City.

            Traveling down to the cavern floor, priest and priestess yet chatted animatedly. Kyrani, fingering a lock of fiery hair, glanced at Link with unreadable eyes, her long purposeful stride kicking against her skirts in a way that suggested she was more used to breeches. Her gown looked decidedly strange on her, he concluded. Like someone taking a wolf and pretending it’s a lapdog.

            They entered Crystal City together, people gathering more than usual in knots of gossipers, all gesturing wildly as they discussed what had to be a particularly juicy bit of news. Link eyed them curiously, wondering what they were talking about. The Gerudo seemed to note the unusual congregations, but the two Karradaini continued on oblivious, still caught up in comparing whatever they had learned in Din’s temple.

            “Goodbye, Link,” Aphelandra said cheerfully as she, Tirgan, and Kyrani started down a road that would take them away from Evren’s Star. “Thank you for those wonderful translations.”

            “Come back anytime you want,” Tirgan said, blinking rapidly as though startled.

            “May your blade sing the death song of many,” Kyrani intoned softly.

            He had heard that once in passing, spoken to a departing Gerudo. What had her response been? “May it glisten with the blood of your foes,” he replied.

            The barest upward curving of her lips showed her pleasure. Turning abruptly, she fell in step with the two Karradaini, standing out with her distinctive coloring and firm stride.

            Pausing until the crowds swallowed the three figures, Link traversed the tangled streets, ignoring the strange stares people shot at him. A few of those fools in thigh-length coats--Noah had finally deigned to tell him they were pledged for adventure and duels; a dueling guild, or adventuring guild, or some such nonsense--fingered the hilts of their swords when they noticed his, but if it came to a fight, he would be able to defeat them, even if they all came on him at once. Taxing as it was, there was always Din’s Fire.

            What am I thinking? he wondered, shaking his head slightly. Din’s Fire? That would kill dozens of innocent people!

            “Something wrong, lad?” a bent old woman asked, shifting the dark shawl wrapped around her head.

            “Just thinking,” he replied, attempting to edge past her.

            She nodded and planted herself firmly in his path. “Oh yes, terrible, a terrible death. Who would have thought, a royal murder? He was the last person I expected killed. I thought Prince Jendrick would be the one all the assassins would go after.”

            Suddenly hearing her words, Link gaped at the woman. “What did you say?” he demanded, seizing her stooped shoulders in his gauntleted hands. “A royal murder? Who?”

            She attempted to squirm out of his grasp, eyeing his sword fearfully. “I don’t know names as of yet, but I just know the crown prince and queen are safe. It may be that no one is dead.”

            What if those Partisans knew Noah and I were listening? he wondered, dread clenching his innards. We did follow the trail, after all, though I knew he wanted me to follow. Releasing the woman, he shoved a way through the crowds, trying desperately to avoid dashing back to the inn. He can’t be dead. If he is, it’s my fault.

            Finally reaching Evren’s Star, Link pushed the front door in so hard it banged against the wall, and then he strode up the stairs, heading for the private dining room. Throwing the door open, he gasped in relief as he saw Noah sprawled in a chair, Romani sitting on the edge of the table with Pelayla on her shoulder.

            “You’re back!” Noah exclaimed, grinning, no doubt about to make some comment about his hair. The expression faded, however, and he asked, “What’s wrong?”

            Closing the door behind him, Link explained, “There’s a rumor on the streets that either you or the king is dead.”

            Noah froze for a moment, then guffawed loudly. “My father, dead? He’ll never die, at least not for at least twenty more years. You had me scared for a moment.”

            Rising to her feet and smoothing her new pale green dress with flowers embroidered along the waist and neckline, Romani said, “I don’t think this is a laughing matter. Something had to be the cause of the rumor.”

            “Or it could just be people attempting to raise chaos,” Noah dismissed. “Like the rumors of some black-haired adventurer causing chaos within the library and killing a librarian. Well, Karradaini do not go jumping around because of rumors. We are steady and--”

            The door banging open cut off the rest of his words. Link whirled around and stared at Ria as she strode forward. “We need to leave this inn immediately. The Partisans are on the move.”

            “What do you mean?” Noah demanded, bounding to his feet. “I know Link said he overheard two yesterday--

            “You named this inn in front of Senna,” she explained. “At the least, we need a different inn in the city, though preferably one out of it.”

            “How do you know they’re on the move?” Pelayla asked.

            “Because,” the cloaked woman explained, “the Dinolfos Ra’noyl has murdered the king.”     


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