Chapter 4: Freedom’s Cost
The three young people rode in silence. Each of them pondered over the words spoken to them by Drakyira. Under normal circumstances they would seem to be nothing but a bunch of lies, but something inside each of them told them to trust the gold dragon.
Zelda was unsettled about what she had been told. What did the dragon lady mean that the Princess would have a great role to play? She had also mentioned “the gods’ most sacred emblem.” Zelda knew that she was referring to the Triforce. Surely she had nothing to do with a sacred artifact such as that.
Nathan had his own worries. Drakyira had said that he would face his worst fear. How soon would this be? The young adventurer had a good idea what she meant, and he didn’t want to face it. How could he obey her and not worry about the idea of having to face his worst fear that was also his worst memory?
Link was silent. He was nothing. No one. Just someone who goes around making money by his sword. How could his trials be the greatest of all? How could they be greater than those of King Harkinian himself? And why did he have to worry about fearing the powers of darkness? He had no intention of getting further caught up in this war. He didn’t want to be a hero. He didn’t have that kind of strength or courage. And he knew that Ganon would surely kill him if they met.
Nothing would change his mind. Absolutely nothing.
“My lord Ganon,” Mandrag said, kneeling before his master, light pouring through the stain-glassed windows into the black stoned room.
“This had better be important, Mandrag. Arise.” Mandrag obeyed and cleared his throat.
“Ophelius has observed the two Hylians that took the Princess from us, and has brought us information.” Ganon grinned. This was definitely worth his time.
“The Princess was taken by Nathan, son of Tannis and Link, son of Arn. They just left the cave of the Golden Dragons. Drakyira has been freed.” Ganon swore. This was going to be harder than he thought, if these three were strong enough to free the gold dragon. Mandrag continued. He was used to Ganon’s dark personality and wasn’t afraid to tell him what he knew. Besides, he was too important for Ganon to kill. However, the next bit of news worried him.
“Ophelius said that he felt divinity coming from Link.” Ganon was shocked. Surely this couldn’t be the fulfillment of the prophecy.
When all is lost, and Darkness chokes the land
Then shall the Hero come, but seem a normal Man
But blessed by the Gods is he
And he shall make the people free
He shall fight and end Shadow’s reign
By using the Sword of Evil’s Bane
Surely Ganondorf Dragmire, rightful King of Hyrule, could not be the evil spoken of, and surely this boy wasn’t the legendary hero. It was rubbish. Utter nonsense. The gods were not as strong as they liked to appear.
“I know what you are thinking,” Ganon said, “and I tell you not to worry about it. I have the Triforce of Power, and nothing can stop me. Send them a welcome party. Bring them to me.” Mandrag bowed.
“Yes, my lord.”
Harkinian stood on a balcony of Miniras, the legendary fortress of Hyrule. Its thick stonewalls were far superior to those of Hyrule Castle’s. And it was well hidden in the mountains, and provided few entrances. If they were somehow attacked, archers could easily fire arrows into the enemy lines and quickly take cover. It was virtually impregnable. Unfortunately, it couldn’t be used as the main castle of the kingdom. It was reserved for dire emergencies. As the main castle, too many people could leak information on its structure and a fatal weakness could be found. Besides, it wasn’t exactly the most homey place in Hyrule.
King Harkinian was grateful that most of the civilians had made it to Miniras by each town having mages cast teleportation spells. The King and his own men would have escaped the same way, but their mages had been slain and there was no time to find more. He knew that Hyrule’s ally, Calatia, would eagerly come and help them as soon as word reached them about Ganon. Calatia’s army was enormous, well trained, and battle hardened. However, the King was still worried sick. His daughter had still not returned, and he had no idea whether she was alive or dead. Or worse- a prisoner of Ganon. He needed the help of his advisor, Orgis, but he was nowhere to be found. He was probably dead.
The King heard footsteps and turned around to see Talius approaching him, his long black hair blowing in the air.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Harkinian said, referring to the setting sun.
“It is. Amazing how it can be so during times like these.”
“Nature doesn’t care about the happenings of the people of the world. No matter what, she carries out her own business.” The Prince was silent.
“No news of Zelda?”
“Nothing,” the King sighed.
“I wish I could go out there and look for her, but my duty states otherwise,” the Prince said darkly.
“So do I, but you know that we can’t. However, I have sent a group of men to search for her. See if we can find her.” He sighed again. “I just hope that Ganon doesn’t have her.” Both absent-mindedly gripped the stone railing of the balcony at the thought of what Ganon would do.
“I hope he doesn’t have the Triforce,” Talius said.
“If he did, he would have used it immediately, and we wouldn’t be talking to each other right now.” He looked at his son. “So, Talius, what do we do now?” He already knew the answer, but he wanted to test his heir’s knowledge. Talius was silent for a moment.
“We wait. That’s all we can do right now. We wait for word from Calatia.”
“Good, my son. You will be a great king someday.” Talius smiled.
“I hope so, Father. I really do.”
The rain poured and lightning split the sky. Thunder shook the land as Zelda, Link, and Nathan quickly rode down the forest trail, their horses’ hooves kicking up mud. Link was on the left, Zelda took the center, and Nathan rode on the right. Link and Nathan both had their swords drawn. Five Lizalfos stepped in the middle of the road. Link and Nathan slashed two of them with their blades as Zelda blasted three of them in the chests with blasts of holy magic. Arrows whizzed past Link’s face. He turned around to see Stalfos firing on them.
“Go!” he shouted, urging his horse to go faster, the monsters chasing after them. There were too many of Ganon’s servants for them to fight. Far too many.
The chase lasted a little longer, the three leaving their enemies in the dust.
“I think we lost them,” Nathan said a little too soon. Arrows suddenly buried deep into his horse’s flesh and one grazed his leg. His steed slumped to the ground as he fell off, shouting in pain. Link and Zelda stopped and turned around. Zelda quickly used her magic on the archers.
“Nathan!” Link cried. Zelda was horrified.
“Go!” Nathan ordered. “I’ll hold them off. Otherwise, I’ll only slow you down.”
“No, Nathan,” Link pleaded, “don’t do this.”
“Please,” Zelda begged. Nathan unsheathed his katana.
“Just do it!” he shouted. He slowly limped in the opposite direction.
“Nathan, no!” Link shouted. He started to follow him, but Nathan turned to Link, his sword ready.
“If you come near me, Link, I’ll kill you. Go. Now!” The two looked at each other’s eyes. Both knew that Nathan couldn’t possibly kill his best friend. Finally, Link relented. Nathan smiled softly at Link and Zelda. “Take care of each other,” he said softly. He continued back down the trail. Link turned his horse around, and he and Zelda continued their flight down the road, leaving their friend to his fate.
Lizalfos, Goriyas, and Moblins surrounded Nathan. He calmly took in his surroundings. The first Lizalfo lunged at him. Nathan, ignoring the stinging pain in his leg, threw it over his shoulders and slashed it in the neck. A Moblin and Goriya attacked simultaneously. He whirled around the Moblin and hit it in the back, knocking it into the Goriya, its blade ripping through the Moblin’s crude armor. Nathan chopped off the Goriya’s head. He saw another attack coming. He tried to dodge it, but the Moblin’s spear managed to make a light stab in his side. The beast pulled its weapon out and attacked again. Nathan cried out in pain and blocked the attack, his sword locking with the Moblin’s spear. A Wizzrobe hurled a fireball. Nathan quickly pushed the Moblin in front of it. He kicked it away as it caught fire. He pulled a dagger from off his belt and threw it at the Wizzrobe, its blade sinking into its throat. He clutched his side, trying to stop the bleeding. He tried to parry a Lizalfo’s attack, but failed. Its club hit him in the head, and he fell to the ground, darkness overtaking him. The monsters stopped. They took his unconscious body and carried it off.
Link and Zelda stopped inside a dark cave, finally finding a shelter from the pouring rain. They had taken many twists and turns, and were sure that the monsters wouldn’t find them. Link sat down on a rock, still dumbstruck by what Nathan had done. Link didn’t know whether or not his friend lived. Zelda looked at him, her tears mixing with the rain on her drenched face. She took a dry blanket out of her horse’s saddlebag and wrapped it around her shoulders. She looked over at Link. He seemed to be avoiding looking at her.
“Link?” she said quietly. She couldn’t imagine what he was going through. He had lost the young man that had been a brother to him for a large portion of his life. Link didn’t respond. She sat down next to him. He turned his head away. She placed her hand on his cheek, facing him towards her. His eyes were red and puffy, full of internal anguish and torment. Fiery anger was clear in his blue eyes. She hated to see him so hurt, so vulnerable. He suddenly threw his arms around her, crying into her shoulder. She wrapped the blanket around him as well and cradled him in her arms, resting her head against his, finally breaking down.
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