The wispy, ominous ghosts of grey storm clouds took their bleak authority over the sky, making it darken. A cold, light mist drifted through the air. The wind itself was cold and ill-tempered, making the minute droplets that composed the mist move aimlessly about through the chill air.
The cold of the early morning seeped into the cottage, the wind making the small structure shudder, the mist flecking the windows with fine droplets. It was this same chill which shattered Anna's peaceful sleep. Already shivering, she opened her eyes and sat up. The last of the fire's embers died an icy death in the fireplace as the wind moaned and whispered outside the windows.
Removing the covers, she slowly began to rise from the bed. She noticed she still wore her dress, now wrinkled and creased. A dull ache crept up the arm she had injured some time before, and she grimaced in pain. As the pain intensified and shot up the rest of her arm and into her shoulder, she bit her lip to keep from crying out. Her eyes watered. Shutting them, she waited for the pain to subside. Once she was certain of its departure, she turned, shivering, to the window closest to her bed. The clouds frowned upon her, shutting out whatever rays of dawn were trying to come through and leaving clear pearls of water against the window. Already, the bleakness of the day worked itself into her spirit, and she sighed. At the same time, fused with this depression there came the feeling she'd been having the past few days. Its coldness began in the center of her being, working its way outward to fill her, much like the ripples of a pond. The serpent of worry that resided within her was stronger, each bite filling her body with chilled emotion.
Pressing the worry as far away as possible, she looked out the window again. Past the image of her own reflection, she saw the sea of grey that had taken residence in the sky. Not only will this day be boring, but dreary as well, she thought miserably.
Disquieted, she sank onto the bed again. The ache in her arm grew sharp again, and she rolled up the sleeve of her dress. The scars had grown slightly less over time, but it would be quite awhile before they faded permanently.
As the insignificant warmth the fire left in its wake at last faded, she shivered violently. She considered going back to bed, but she was no longer tired. A wave of pain spread through her arm again, and she rubbed her other hand over the pale, slightly puckered scars. The cottage creaked under the assault of the relentless gale, and she turned to the window again. Already, in the space of a few minutes, the sky had grown even darker. The wind howled like the cries of lost souls forever trapped, and the mist in the air grew increasingly heavy. The storm it heralded was to be a fierce one. It's rare to see a storm in such usually calm weather, Anna reflected, watching the inky clouds in the sky billow and churn under the wind's influence.
Turning from the window again, she listened to the moaning of the gale just outside the window. One moment, it would silence to a faint murmur she had to strain her ears to catch the slightest hint of, and the next, it would shriek wrathfully. Between times, it would whisper, seeming to tell secrets of the world that were not meant to be divulged. The mist soon became actual drops of water, chill and biting, that hit the panes and ran down in clear tracks to the ground below. The cottage grew even more frigid, if such a thing were possible. Sighing, she rose from the bed, still trembling, to where the fireplace stood cold, with only black remains to mark the fire that once glowed there. Quietly, she knelt to where the logs were piled, taking one and placing it among the ashes. The stack of logs diminished each day, and it would soon be time for Link to go to the Lost Woods again.
Rubbing her hands together to provide friction's brief heat, she then blew on them. The air that left her body that didn't serve to warm her hands turned to a small cloud of white fog that floated from her mouth and nose like steam from a fire-breathing beast. Silently, she stretched her arms out, her palms facing the fireplace's chilled interior. Trying to control the involuntary shivers that made her shake where she knelt, she focused on the fireplace. Closing her eyes, she could sense the heat that was building up around her. Concentrating a bit more, she could feel the heat flare up. Opening her eyes, she was greeted by a small flame poking up and twisting from within the fireplace. Warmth filled the room again, and for a second, she sat back on her heels. A sigh escaped, and she closed her eyes again. The fire bathed her body with heat, but her innards were still frozen.
Once again, that strange feeling of unease that had been plaguing her had taken control. Its grip was strong this time. Worry had a new name and identity, that of dread. What the cause of this dread happened to be was something that eluded her as she tried to ponder on it. The only explanation that could come to mind was that of the fortune teller, something she tried not to think about. How absurd, it was all a ridiculous fortune,she thought. Convincing herself of this worked as it had before, the feeling diminished, but did not go completely as she wished it to. It instead took up residence in the pit of her stomach, refusing to go anywhere.
Rising and stretching fatigued joints, she walked over to the table where last night's dinner remained. She picked off a bit of meat from a gristly bone and ate some, grimacing at the taste. It was evident that Link was going to have to hunt again today if they wished to eat. As she stood from the table, thunder growled a distant warning, and the drops that hit the window seemed to grow larger and more numerous. As she turned her attention to the window, lightning lit up the sky, outlining the angry clouds in a brief flash of light.
Link awoke as the snarling of the thunder faded into the distance. Rubbing sleep out of his eyes, he sat up, the sound of the steadily falling rain already becoming evident to his ears. Glancing around the room, he saw that Anna was already up, standing beside a window. "It's become worse," she murmured as he got out of bed. Walking over to her, he stood beside her and looked out, making a face. "Looks like a brutal storm," he commented. She nodded distractedly. "Link, you'll need to do some more hunting," she said quietly. He sighed. This was going to be a task easier said than done, especially in this weather, and he was now starting to despise the dreary task.
"We ought to wait awhile. The storm may let up a little," he replied. However, as he looked up at the dark mass of clouds, this prediction seemed extremely doubtful. The clouds that were coming in from a distance appeared even darker and more ominous.
"Looks like this is going to get worse before it gets any better," Anna said, voicing his thoughts. He turned from the window, and going to his bed, pulled on his boots. Standing, he grabbed his bow and wooden arrows from their place near his bed. Anna turned from the window, surprised. "Don't tell me you're going out in this!" she exclaimed. He nodded. "We don't have a choice, really," he said. "If Uncle were here, he'd be going out, rain or shine." Anna relented, seeing that he was right. "All right, go. Just be careful."
He opened the cottage door and went outside. The wind met him with great angry gusts, and the rain pounded upon him, soaking his clothes. He began to walk, scarcely able to keep his footing. As he continued in the direction of the village, the wind slackened a little, allowing him to move quicker. By the time he reached the village, however, he was soaking wet, not to mention cold. The village streets were quiet and deserted, and the villagers themselves were inside, not daring to venture out. He made his way through the empty cobblestone walkways, then headed north, to where some entrances to the Lost Woods greeted him.
Once under the shelter of the green leaf canopy, he was shielded from the wind and most of the rain. As he scanned the darkened forest, he could see that there were no animals around. Even the thieves, the plunderers that were relentless in their quest for illegal monetary gain from passer-by, were nowhere to be seen. The forest smelled of wet earth and damp leaves, and save for the sounds of the rain pelting the leaves and the sound his own feet made as he moved as quietly as possible through the trees, there was not a sound. He sighed quietly. It was to be another long hunt, one that could last into dark, and he could not afford to come home with nothing. In addition, as he moved, the wind picked up again, and this time, even the shelter of the trees wasn't enough. A gale struck him, going through his soaked clothes and chilling him to the bone. He began to move again, not only to see if there was game in another area, but also to keep himself warm. By the looks of it, he wasn't going to be awarded anytime soon.
Anna had been reluctant to see him go. Something inside of her screamed silently as he had gone out, and she held back from trying to talk him into staying. He was determined to go, and nothing she could say could have prevented his leaving. Now she felt alone, even scared. This wasn't a normal day, her intuition could sense it. Yet, there was no apparent reason for the way she felt. Try as she may, her mind could not conjure up any logical explanation.
Instead, she moved once again to the fire, and sitting beside it, tended to it by fanning it or putting more wood on it as it grew smaller. Finally, she stopped trying to busy herself, and, sitting back, allowed her cold, wanton emotions to take control for a time. Her feelings were trying to tell her mind something, as well as her instinct, but even as they tried, her brain was trying just as desperately to decipher them. The end result was a dim feeling of angst that grew larger within her. Her heart began to pulse faster in spite of her trying to keep calm. She tried once again to suppress the feelings that augmented within her, and although they faded, they still remained.
Time passed, and morning slid into midday. There was no sign of Link, and worry for him added itself to the jumble of emotions that coursed through her body. It was taking him a ridiculously long time to hunt, and she hoped that he had not run into some sort of trouble in spite of her warnings. As she left her cozy place in front of the fire, she looked to see that the clouds had grown from grey to pitch colored, and the rain was coming down in pounding, ice cold sheets. No wonder he's been out so long, she thought, as she took her place in front of the fire again. Lacing her fingers in her lap, she examined the ring on her finger. Twisting it slightly, she watched as it picked up the fire's molten glow, each facet of the diamond a tiny mirror image of the fire that was the only point of warmth and light in the otherwise dim cottage. Thinking of the one she loved seemed to extinguish the cold emotions for a time, and she smiled slightly. Dread's chilliness seemed to shrink away from the happy thoughts, but still remained, waiting for an opportune time to strike.
The passage of day to early night was marked by a simple darkening of the sky. There was no sun present in the sky to set. The rain lessened, but was still in the darkness. The temperature dropped in accordance to the cold Hyrulian night. Link had yet to appear with food in hand, and annoyed impatience had driven Anna to look out the window several times to see if he was coming.
Settling beside the fire after her latest trip to the window, she rose again after a moment to throw a piece of kindling onto the dying fire. Wherever Link is, he better have a good reason as to why it took him so long to get back, Anna thought, annoyed. She was becoming hungry, too, which only added to her growing restlessness. For a few minutes more, she sat beside the fire, blowing on it when needed, on occasion adding a scrap of dry wood to it. The fire flared a bit under each breath and addition of fuel, and heat flowed through the cottage in waves. As the minutes dragged on, she settled back, beginning to feel fatigued. The heat only added to her want for rest, and she leaned against the wall, her eyes already starting to close. She blinked sleepily into the fire's light, trying to fight the urge. It was going to be as it had been the night before, with her falling asleep while waiting for Link to come home.
Giving up, she allowed sleep to overtake her for a time. Her rest lasted for only seconds, although when she was startled awake, she was unaware of this. The source of her surprise was the sudden chill in the room, and she rose from the fire to find the cottage door open. Seeing nothing at the entrance, she walked to the cottage door, preparing to close it. As she drew closer, the lightning flared up angrily outside, and in its momentary, white brightness, she was scarcely able to make out a figure that blended with the darkness.
"Link?" she questioned, thinking that perhaps it was her brother home at last. She waited for a moment, and, receiving no answer, shut the cottage door. Perhaps I was imagining things, she thought, and started to walk back to the fire when the flew open, as though the wind had suddenly forced it to do so. Harsh cold air rushed into the cottage, screaming and whistling. The fire wilted in the fireplace cringed from the sudden gust, and the warm light in the cottage dimmed.
Anna's dread came surging back into her body from the recesses of her mind where she had tried to ignore it. Her heart pounded in her throat, and her breathing became rapid. Turning, she saw that a dark figure now stood in the doorway, and as the lightning lit the sky outside, she could discern a pair of gleaming eyes peering at her. The fire recovered as the wind from outside died down, and its light once again filled the cottage.
The woman that the light revealed was tall, with long, light brown hair that rippled down her thin shoulders in a waterfall. Her garb consisted of a long, wine colored dress and a cloak whose fabric was fashioned of a starless night's blackness. Around her neck was a curious object, a prism that was as black as the cloak. Her skin was pale, almost white. Her eyes, the color of a summer ocean, were windows to a dark and polluted soul. Her lips, seemingly red against the pale skin, formed a small, twisted smile. Anna felt her body go cold. The haunting eyes of the woman seemed to peer straight through her body, even through her very soul.
"Hello, Anna," the woman said, her tone hushed. Although her voice was soft, an undercurrent of bitter malice tainted it, and Anna shrank away. "H-How do you....?" she began, but words failed her, and she tried to back away from the looming figure. Her legs failed her, and she fell to the cottage floor. The woman pushed the cottage door shut, then walked to where Anna had fallen, a smirk touching her lips. Her eyes smoldered with black bitterness and anger, the likes of which Anna had not seen before. Even Ganon's eyes hadn't terrified her so. In these eyes, unlike those of Ganon's, there seemed to be something that spoke of not only evil, but of the bleak and stark unknown.
"Who are you?" Anna asked, trying to force her fear away. The woman's smirk grew to a chilling smile. Her eyes glinted. "I am Tempest," she said, her voice still soft, but with the same discreet malevolence. Before Anna could say anything more, Tempest spoke again. "No doubt you are wondering why I'm here." The hatred and bitterness in her voice was more apparent now. Anna stared up at her mutely, her insides ice and her heart throbbing almost painfully.
"Well, I've been watching you. And you're important to me, you see. I need something you have very badly," Tempest said, a deadly tone creeping into her voice. Anna automatically thought of her pendant, and she reached up, closing a protective hand around it. Tempest noticed this, and her eyes narrowed with disdain. "Fool, I have no need for trinkets," she snapped, and the malice and loathing in her voice were more than evident now.
Anna found that she could move again, and she did so quickly, standing and darting to her bed, all the while keeping her eyes riveted on Tempest. To Anna's great surprise, Tempest made no move toward her. Anger now replaced her initial fear, and she quickly sought her bow and quiver. Finding the bow alongside her bed, she closed her hand around its smooth wooden handle. At the same time, her other hand slid into the oiled leather quiver and grasped an arrow. Standing with her bow at her side, she glared at Tempest, her eyes glowing wrathfully, her cheeks flushed scarlet. "Get out of this place now," she snapped, her voice hardened with anger. Tempest merely smiled at the young girl. Anna then raised the bow, putting the arrow to it and drawing the bowstring back. "You don't belong here. Get out, before I kill you where you stand," Anna growled, the heat of anger rising within her and warming her body. Tempest's smile grew wider. At this display of arrogance, Anna loosed the bowstring. The arrow whistled sharply as it sliced the air, heading directly for Tempest's chest. Anna stood, holding her breath. Tempest's smile faded into an angry scowl. Her hand was quicker than Anna's eyes could follow. As she let her breath out, she could see that the arrow had made it to Tempest, but for some odd reason, Tempest was still standing. Anna gaped in shock. Tempest smiled a slight, bitter smile as she slowly drew the arrow away from her chest. Anna could now see in the dimness that the arrow had not pierced Tempest at all. Instead, to Anna's sheer amazement and utter horror, the woman had managed to catch the arrow behind its head just moments before it would have entered her and killed her. Slowly, Anna lowered her bow, too surprised and frightened to consider taking another shot.
"I must say, you have quite a temper. That goes without saying, wouldn't it, though, being a sibling of none other than the Legendary Hero," Tempest said darkly, her eyes hardening. Anna said nothing in response. How did this strange woman know so much about her?
"Enough with the foolish games, you little peasant wench. It's time I get what I came for," Tempest snarled, all softness and patience stripped from her voice now. Anna's bow fell from her hands as Tempest advanced, reaching up and undoing the chain that held the black prism around her neck. As Anna began to back away, Tempest smiled coldly, her eyes luminous with unholy joy. "You ought to be honored. I only choose the best to take soul energy from. I need it to stay alive, you know," she said, her temper fading, her voice smooth with sadistic coolness.
"What in Din's name are you talking about?" Anna asked, frightened. Here, Tempest paused momentarily, her smile remaining frozen upon her ghastly face. "I must have soul energy to live. The energy of one soul lasts for years. This prism helps me obtain and keep that energy. I've been alive for many years, and I intend to go on for many more. And that is why you must submit to me now!" Her words ended in an angry shriek. Dread renewed itself in Anna's body, but with it came a burning anger and even a bit of morbid curiosity. "And what of the person who is your victim?" she managed to ask boldly. Tempest had calmed again, and her eyes held a twisted air of triumph. "That is the best part, you little harlot. You'll find out, in a moment's time."
With this, the prism that Tempest held in her hand took on a violet glow. The fire shrank and flickered briefly in the fireplace before going out completely. In the now total darkness of the cottage, the shining prism glowed like a beacon, and Anna stared at it intently. She could see nothing now but the purple light that filled her vision, made everything around her become surreal. Slowly, she knelt, her legs having failed her. Tempest smiled. Like all the rest of her victims, she had fallen under the prism's hypnotic spell. The young girl stared at the prism with glazed, incoherent eyes, the eyes of a lifeless creature.
Tempest tossed the prism to the girl, watching as she picked it up, holding it in her palm and staring into its bright glow. Just like all the others, Tempest thought, with a cold laugh. With this, she held out a hand, her palm facing outward. The prism glowed a bit more brightly. Its spell was suddenly broken, but it was already too late for Anna. The prism seemed to grow suddenly hot, and she tried to throw it away. However, it remained in her hand, and she shrieked in pain and fear. Tempest's cruel laughter grew as Anna continued to cry out. As the glow faded and the prism fell to the floor, Anna's head fell forward, her hair falling over her half closed eyes. She suddenly felt very weak, very tired, and very cold.
Tempest stood over her, smiling. Laughing pitilessly, she tipped Anna's chin up with a finger. Looking into her latest victim's weary eyes, she said, softly and sweetly,
"And here it all ends." Her laughter fading, Tempest retrieved her prism, then turned and walked to the cottage door. Pulling it open, she hurried out into the storm, trying to make her getaway from Hyrule as fast as possible.
Anna watched the sorceress go with blurry, tired eyes. She was too tired to cry for help, or even to think clearly. She felt frigid, but it was a strange type of coldness, not that of a winter storm or a cool draft, but an unnamable kind of cold that no fire could alleviate. Before she realized it, she collapsed completely. She stared up at the cottage ceiling numbly, the weird coldness spreading to every part of her body. She raised her neck a bit, hoping that the rest of her body would rise with it, but it would not. Death, the end result of Tempest's spell, waited patiently in the dim cottage for a moment to take her, although the workings of Tempest's magic assured that her victim's death would take some time to actually happen. If a messenger of death could have a face and a body, Anna had just looked upon that face, that body, in Tempest.
Sighing quietly, Anna closed her eyes. My clouded future, she thought, her dim mind marshaling her scattered, murky thoughts one final time.Her waning strength was at last depleted. The cold was consuming her completely now. Faintly, she could hear the raindrops hit the window. A few stray tendrils of hair whispered softly as her head hit the floorboards. Her breathing and heartbeat slowed. She no longer felt anything, not even the cold, and she could no longer hear the rain, although the storm still raged outside.
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