Twilight Descent 2:
The Return of King Bulblin

By Stephen Stephano

Summary - Following the events of Twilight Princess, Hyrule finds itself a stronger, more unified country. That is, with one key exception. After the retreat of the Twili to the Twilight Realm, their Bulblin allies were ostracized and banished from the country to the harsh mountains east of Snowpeak Province. Amid a strong period of peace and economic prosperity in Hyrule, the Bulblin threat re-emerges after rumors of a new kingdom in the east and the survival of King Bulblin despite a deadly fall from the Bridge of Eldin are confirmed. With the royal family cold and calculated against their former enemies, the Adventurers' Guild must make a decision to either stand by the royal family and risk another war, or to stabilize the Bulblin stronghold for the good of the Kingdom while undermining their divine rulers. Story is narrated by series co-protagonist, Shira.

Prologue: A New Future

Soren and Shira both went on to living healthy and wealthy lives.  Soren was offered to join the Hylian Knights, but actually turned down what had once been a life’s dream of his.  After the adventure, he wasn’t really prepared for more fighting.  Instead, he settled down in a cottage down in Faron Woods, where he lived a more secluded life for several years after moving out.  Eventually he did move back to Hyrule Castle Town, where he opened a sword crafting business and met the love of his life.  Shira, after a short reverting back to her old shy self at home, began to adventure again.  She became great friends with Ashei, and helped her research the Yeti clan of the Snowpeak Mountains in Hyrule’s northeast.  Later in life she settled down in her favorite locale, Lake Hylia, building a lake house on the terraced greens just beneath the Great Hylian Bridge.  For years she lived as a fisherwoman and a diver, eventually one day performing a feat she said she would someday complete, reaching the insides of the Lakebed Temple.


 Although their lives would go in separate directions, the memories of the adventure would keep them together in spirit, forever.




            Well, that’s what I wish I could write.  My diary longs for such an ending, an ending of joy, of hope, an ending of optimism for the future.  Now that isn’t to say that every part of it is fiction, as it is true that Soren and I have not seen each other for quite some time.  I am sure that he is fine, off finding his true place in the kingdom.  He always said that he wanted to be a warrior, and back in the early years he certainly was that.  But now things have changed.  Everything has become much more complicated.  In war, there are allies and enemies.  The goal is to defeat the adversary.  It is a simple matter of good versus evil.  But peace is an intricate and complex web of attitude, motivation, and action. The web weaves over miles and miles of plains, mountains, rivers, seas, and other landforms.  Its threads stretch over the diverse races and peoples that inhabit this land.  It is a concept that our beloved land of Hyrule does not seem to understand.  In only a few short years we have forgotten the virtues of wisdom and courage that helped to lead us through the Twilight Invasion.


Now my life must change once again.  My name is Shira.  And soon, all of Hyrule will know my name.


Chapter 1: The Yeti

            One thing that you must understand is that Ashei is my best friend.  She showed me that women can indeed be strong, that they can be the leader of men.  In her native country her father raised her as a son, not as a daughter.  She wore men’s clothes, learned the ways of the sword and other advanced weaponry, and grew to be one of the young warriors of her time.  Rumor has it that several men challenged her to a duel one day, and she quickly disarmed them, before eventually defeating them in a battle of punches as well.  I cannot even fathom doing such things.  My advantage in a fight is to sneak up from behind, or from long range with my arrows.  I can shoot an apple off a man’s head from fifty paces away nine times out of ten.  Our skill sets complement each other well. 


            Another bond that we share is our love of discovery, and for the natural world.  As the lead investigator for the Adventurer’s Guild, a guild of warriors based in Hyrule Castle Town, Ashei performed complete investigation of several Hyrulian peoples.  One such race is the Yeti, a race of abominable snowmen that live in the inhospitable winter cold of Hyrule’s northeastern mountains.  It is on this day that Ashei and I are planning to meet two Yeti, their names Yeto and Yeta.  Getting bundled up for winter cold isn’t exactly my specialty.  I much prefer to hang out near my cottage on Lake Hylia, where the snows and cold almost never come.  Plus, it is April, not exactly a month reserved for such pursuits as skating and sledding. 


            I met her at the entrance to Snowpeak Province at ten that morning.  The wind was blowing hard, and my face was already beat red in the chilly atmosphere. 


“So, I see you’re looking ripe for a bit of sledding today?  I can’t wait.” Ashei said.  I just nodded my head and we began to walk up the steep slope leading to the summit of the mountain.  The trip to the top took about an hour or so, and when we reached the top I pulled out a glass bottle of milk.  As I stopped to take a swig, I noticed the outline of a very large creature moving our way. 


“Shira come,” Ashei said.  “The Yeti are up ahead.”  I put the milk away and slung my pack back over my shoulders.  Indeed, before too long, we came up to two furry creatures, one huge, and the other very small by comparison. 


“Welcome to Snowpeak, madams!” the larger of the two bellowed.

“It’s a pleasure to see you again Yeto,” Ashei said.  “This is my friend Shira.”


It felt awkward to interact with a creature that could no doubt crush me in a matter of seconds in his big and powerful arms.  But to that end, I just smiled and held out my hand.  “Pleased to meet you.” I said rather meekly.  Yeto motioned to the smaller creature, and it walked forward toward me.  “You meet Yeta, my wife?” Yeto asked me.  “Shira is your name, yes?” Yeta asked.


“Yes,” I responded.


“You were one of those responsible for the defeat of the Bulblin clan, yes?” Yeta asked.


I didn’t know how to respond to that.  I turned to Ashei.  “Actually, yes, Shira and her brother were members of our guild.  We’re on a reconnaissance mission here in the mountains.”


“What exactly are you looking for?” Yeto asked.


“We’ve heard rumors that the Bulblin may be reorganizing.  But there’s no real sign of their re-emergence anywhere near their traditional strongholds in northern Eldin and Lanayru Provinces.  We think that if they have reappeared, that they might have chosen a more discreet location to amass their forces.” Ashei said.


“I reckon I haven’t seen any in these mountains in years.” Yeto said.  But if they’re out here, they’re liable to be right out in plain sight on the mountain, for they aren’t too bright of character.  There’s only one way to find out.”


“We climb down the mountain?” I asked timidly.


“Oh no, that’s far too dangerous, and it would take far too much time.” Yeta said.  “It’s much easier to sled down.  Here, we sled down to Snowpeak Ruins, it only take few minutes.” 


Yeto quickly brought forward two sleds made of ice.  “I made these myself a few weeks ago.  They run real sleek and smooth.  You’ll be there in no time.”


We walked to the edge of the summit, and beyond it there was a slope of snow covered wilderness that led down the other side of the mountain.  Ashei set her sled on the ground and stepped on top of it.  “You’re going to snowboard down?” I asked. 


“Sure,” she responded.  “I do it all the time.  But you’ll probably want to lie headfirst.”


“This isn’t dangerous is it?” I asked. 


“Not really.  There are a few places where there are jumps in the course, but you will hardly see those coming.  It’ll be easy.”


The one thing about Ashei that still bugs me, she always tries to downplay things as much as possible.  That stands in vast contrast to my brother Soren, who would always pretend that the world was ending when in fact we just had to overcome a difficult obstacle.  My heart began to pound in my chest, more so than it had in years.  I wasn’t ready for this.


Yeto and Yeta gave us a signal. At that moment I pushed off the ledge, and the four of us started barreling down the mountain at a high rate of speed.  Almost immediately the terrain leveled off and we hit a ramp.  I went airborne, flying high over a gap in the mountaintop before landing in a snowdrift on the other side.  The landing was actually surprisingly soft, and the sled’s speed was barely hampered by the depth of the snow.  The wind whipped hard into my face from the left as I steered across a long, high plateau.  After about twenty seconds, the path narrowed and we entered a tunnel.  Yeta took the lead, followed by Ashei, me, and then Yeto in the rear.  We came to a wooden bridge over another chasm, and beyond the bridge the trail began to drop at a more severe grade.  As the sled picked up speed going down the hill, to my horror, I saw a large grove of pine trees up ahead. 

I didn’t have much time to move, so I froze.  I barreled through the trees, not even touching a single one.  It was a great stroke of luck, for I could have hit one of the low hanging branches, or worse, one of the tree trunks, and it would have been goodnight.  Past the trees we rounded a long bend to the right, leading around yet another chasm.  That’s when I saw Yeta and Ashei jump.  Without warning, I hit another bump and went airborne, this time landing on a small island between two chasms.  Almost before I knew what happened I hit the second bump at a very awkward angle.  I barely cleared the second chasm and landed hard on my chest, neck, and shoulders.  The impact had slowed my sled down, and I was now well behind Yeta and Ashei.  Yeto passed me and led me through another turn to the right, and then a hard hairpin turn back to the left.  As we entered the home stretch, a massive mansion carved into the side of the mountain became visible.  Not knowing how to stop the sled, I slid right across the finish zone and right up onto the front stairs of the mansion before I had finally come to a stop. 


“Well, it looks like you need some more practice.” Ashei said playfully.


“Oh mercy me, that was crazy.” I shouted.  “I could’ve died out there.”


“Eh, you’re just out of practice.  You’ve been sunbathing and swimming in the lake too much.  Don’t worry.  You’ll recover your adventuring alter ego before too long.”  Ashei turned to Yeto.  “I didn’t see any sign of them out there.  Have you checked the caves?”


“I’m up there all the time, I swear, I haven’t seen nothing.”


“Well, husband is sure.” Yeta said.  “Come, we will warm you up inside.  Husband prepare fish and carrot soup for you.”


The four of us all entered the front door to Snowpeak Ruins, the magnificent home of Yeto and Yeta.  The mansion, believe it or not, was once was once one of Hyrule’s great dungeons.  In fact, I had been told that the great hero, Link, was forced to fight Yeta in the couple’s bedroom because she had become possessed by the powers of the Twilight Mirror.  We walked forward into the second room, which appeared to be a family den of sorts, as it had several chairs and a fireplace.  We were about to sit down when we heard a sound of shattering glass come from the left. 


“Something in the kitchen!” Yeto shouted.  He burst open the door on the left and was greeted by the sight of two Bulblin warriors standing at the ready by the stone pot in the center of the room.  They notched their bows and shot Yeto right in the chest, then fled out the back door into the wilderness.  Yeto screamed and writhed in pain as he knocked into the walls.



Chapter 2: Tracks in the Snow


“Husband, you must hold still.  Stop writhing around, we must get the arrow out.”


Yeto looked into Yeta’s eyes, and lay as still as he could manage.  With a burst of strength, Yeta pulled straight up and ripped the arrow out of his chest.  Yeto let out a great scream as he flopped around, as if he had been zapped by a giant jellyfish.  Ashei and I both struggled to hold the giant furry creature down while Yeta advanced to the second arrow.  Once again, he yelped and struggled as she pulled it out.


“That was quite a shock.” I said.  “How did they get inside the mansion?”


“They probably destroyed the window with their spiked clubs.” Ashei said as she gave Yeto a red potion.  “They must have after something in the house, probably in the kitchen.”


Yeto drank some of the potion, and peered into his black cauldron.  “They take the soup.” He said with a scowl on his face.  I looked down into the cauldron, where there appeared to be a fair amount of soup inside, at least enough to feed six people.  “How much was there before?” I asked.


“There was at least double that before.” Yeto said. 


“Is this the first time this has happened?” Ashei asked him. 


“Yes.  They never come here, not ever.  This is first time.” Yeto said plainly. 


“Come Shira, we will follow them.” Ashei said to me.  I followed her out of the kitchen and into the cold of the mountain air.  There was a vast, snowy plain at the bottom of the mountain, and there were Bulblin tracks in the snow that led up a trail leading around the north end of the Snowpeak Ruins.  As we moved forward, the trail began to narrow and got much steeper.  Multiple other trails came in from the various peaks and cliffs and merged with our path.  The wind swirled around at a frantic pace, threatening to send us down the steep cliffs with any misstep. 


It was around a half mile up or so that I noticed something sinister.  The two Bulblin tracks turned into three.  Then they turned into four, then five, then six.  Before long, the trail was covered with Bulblin tracks.  I stopped and turned to Ashei.


“I don’t like this.” I said.  “The tracks are multiplying.  Maybe we should turn around.”


“Don’t you want to see where the tracks lead?” Ashei asked. 


“Well, yes I do.” I replied. “But, who knows how many of them are out there?  We might be walking right into a trap.” 


“This is why you always carry a sword with you.” Ashei said plainly.  She unsheathed her blade, and brought out from her pack another smaller blade.  “Here, take this.  Use your bow for sure, but in close quarters you’ll need it.”


I took the sword, which was about a foot and a half in length and rather undistinguished.  I swung it a few times in my right hand to get used to its feel.  Compared with my brother’s sword it was very light, but did not have very much range.  It was a nice quick strike weapon though. 


We continued on the trail, following the Bulblin tracks for the better part of the next hour or so.  The trail never seemed to know what it wanted to do.  It climbed in some places, dropped in others, and curved and switched back around the mountainous terrain in others.  All the while, we remained vigilant, ever watchful of a surprise attack that could catch us off guard.  Finally, the trail reached a dead end where giant rocks blocked the way forward.  In fact, a giant rock wall stretched out to our left and right. 


“This might be the eastern border of Hyrule.” Ashei said, consulting her map.  “We’re about an hour and a half removed from the Snowpeak Ruins, and as you’ll see, it was awfully close to the boundary anyway.  These same gigantic walls are found at the bottom of Ordona Province, the top of Lanayru Province, and the west of Death Mountain.”


“But there’s a hole in the wall on this trail.” I said.  “It’s just blocked by boulders.  Do you suppose that the Bulblins retreated and blocked the path?”


Ashei nodded.  “It sounds implausible seeing as the Bulblin, on the whole, are really not that strong.  It’s more likely that a rockslide caused this.  But no worries, I’ve got a bomb.  We can blast right through.  She took the blue explosive out of her pack and lit the fuse, then placed it at the base of the boulder.  We moved well away from the boulder prior to the explosion, which came with enough force to destroy the giant rock.  Only small rocks remained scattered on trail, which led forward underneath a natural archway in the giant wall.  We moved forward and noticed that the trail dropped significantly on the other side of the wall.  On the right of the trail there was a sign.  It had letters and symbols that seemed oddly familiar.


“Do you know what language this is?” I asked Ashei. 


She studied it for a moment, and then smiled.  “Yes.  Shad would probably be able to read this, but what I see, it looks like Hieratic with some Twili influence.  Honestly, it looks similar to some of the markings in the Hidden Village.”


“Yes!” I shouted.  “That’s it, the Hidden Village!  The Hidden Village was the base of operation for the Bulblin when they launched their initial attack on Lanayru Province.  Soren and I went through there and found a giant prison underneath, which the Twili were using to enslave people in order to help them re-create the Twilight Mirror’s ultimate power.  If this sign is in that same language, that means that the Bulblin have something rather serious set up in this area.”


We walked downhill for about a quarter mile or so before we came to a giant bend in the trail.  The trail went to the right, but as we got around the bend, I saw something that I never thought I would see.  Down in the valley below the trailhead, in the snowy wilderness, was a rather large collection of buildings.  The structures appeared rudimentary at best, but there was no mistaking their presence.  It was a city.


“My goodness!  What is that out there?” Ashei asked.


“I don’t know, but if I knew any better, I’d say it’s a Bulblin city.” I said.


 “We are definitely not in Hyrule anymore.” Ashei replied.



Chapter 3: Warm Cheese Soup


“So there’s a massive city out there, right beyond the border?” Yeta asked.


“Yes.” Ashei replied.  “It’s pretty large; it sprawls out in all directions in a large valley just beyond the boundary wall.  I’ve never seen anything like it.”


“I can’t believe it!” Yeto shouted.  “What could these fiends possibly be looking for in the mountains of Snowpeak?  And what were they doing here, at house?” 


“My guess is that they were simply looking for food.” I said with an unconvincing tone.  “After all, they were in the kitchen.  I think I saw one of them stealing from the soup cauldron.” 


“Shira, I have a feeling that this attack was about more than food.” Ashei said.  “The Bulblin are usually pretty deliberate, and their plans often involve creating as much destruction as possible, without regard to their natural resources or standard of living.  That being said, they are a pretty cowardly bunch when faced with brute force, which is probably why they cut and ran after seeing Yeto and Yeta.”


“That being said, the Bulblin aren’t the brightest race out there.  But, why would they have constructed this compound, this city across the border in such an inhospitable climate?” I asked.  “They have got to be up to something.”


“That’s quite enough for now, uh.” Yeta said.  “We’ll worry about them later.  Now, we have soup, uh.  Husband, is soup ready?” she asked. 


Now soup is a very important staple of the Hyrulian gastronomy, and indeed I have had some really killer soup dishes in my time.  Most were prepared by my mother Kaylee, who lives in Hyrule Castle Town.  My personal favorite was cucco and mild pepper, and really any soup prepared with either cucco or fish was certainly delicious.  But as good as her cooking was it did not match up with Yeto’s.  The soup he set down on the table was made up of fish, carrots, and cheese, with a pinch of a “special spice” found only in the mountains of Snowpeak Province.  Delectable did not even begin to describe the taste of it. 


“This is downright delicious!” I exclaimed as I ate.  I just couldn’t get enough of the soup, so to the others I must have looked ridiculous slurping it up as quickly as I could.  Luckily for me, Ashei was never really one to split hairs over table manners either, and she was clearly enjoying herself with the outstanding dish. 


“I am glad you like soup.” Yeto said.  “You must eat well in these mountains to survive.  Here, you can bottle up the rest if you wish.”


“That is very kind of you Yeto.” Ashei said, as she pulled two glass bottles out of her pack.

“Husband is wonderful cook, uh.” Yeta said.   “Better than any in Hyrule.  I wish more people would come to Snowpeak, the whole world would discover.  Maybe that why Bulblins attack.”


“Well, we’re not in any rush to leave.” Ashei said.  After all, it’s just about dark now anyway.  I reckon we’ll stay for a spell.”


“Certainly.” Yeto said.  “We’ll get bedroom ready for you.”


“That’s okay, I think we’ll be fine right here in the den area.  It’s pretty cozy here by the fireplace anyway.” I said. 


“It’s dangerous with the Bulblins around.  I’d feel better if you weren’t on ground level.” Yeto said.


“Alright.” Ashei said.  “We’ll follow.”


Snowpeak Mansion is pretty oddly laid out.  The mansion is spread out in a modified rectangular shape, with a pair of extensions in the back corners.  At the front of the building is the den, with the kitchen just to the left.  In the center is an open space, which in a warmer climate would probably be a courtyard but here, it’s just a windswept bowl of frostbite.  Ashei tells me that the place is fairly similar in layout to Hyrule Castle, though much less extravagant.


We crossed the snowy yard and climbed a ladder in the back right corner.  We took a small detour through a door on the right, and beyond the door was a prayer sanctuary.  After leading back outside and up a snaking ramp, we entered the bedroom.  The room was huge, with a domed ceiling and a floor made of solid ice.  There was a magnificent bed in the middle of the room, and a much smaller one near the back.  By this point I could not understand why most Hyrulians regarded the mansion as one of Hyrule’s most dangerous places.  Even more of a wonder was what exactly happened between Link and Yeta several years back that caused them to nearly kill each other in this room.  It seemed to me that the mansion contained secrets that Yeto and Yeta did not want us to know about.


It was a cold night and not a really comfortable one either.  It took me a while to fall asleep.


The next morning we bid the Yeti pair farewell, and headed on the mountainous trek westward back toward Hyrule Field.  Because of what we had discovered the previous day, we felt it necessary to forgo the usual path up to the mountaintops of the north and through to the upper Zora’s River valley.  Ashei knew a path through the jagged foothills directly west northwest of the Snowpeak Mansion, and indeed the path was just that, jagged.  It was a tough hike for several hours as we moved through the cold weather.  After cresting several ridges in the mountains, the terrain began to level off a bit, then began to descend just before lunchtime.  We had more of Yeto’s soup, and then continued onward.   By late afternoon, we had crested another ridge, and finally on the other side of the mountaintop Hyrule Field came into view.


It took a while to get down from the mountains, but by nightfall we had crossed into Lanayru Province.  Unfortunately for us, the weather did not seem to change much.  There was a lack of snow on the ground, but no lack of biting wild chill.  With no real place to make camp and with continuous movement the only means of keeping ourselves warm, we continued across northeastern Hyrule Field toward Hyrule Castle Town.  Our destination was Telma’s Bar, home base of the Adventurer’s Guild.  There we would report on our findings in the mountains, findings that were sure to kick up a storm of commotion in the Hyrulian capital.



Chapter 4 – Strategy Session


We reached Hyrule Castle Town around eleven in the morning the next day, following approximately twenty eight straight hours of travel.  It was a raw spring day; cold, windy, and rainy at times.  By this time I was so tired that I just wanted to curl up with a blanket and go to sleep.  But this was no time for sleep.  A rendezvous with the Adventurers’ Guild awaited us. 


We navigated the mostly empty streets of western Hyrule Castle Town, and arrived at Telma’s Bar at roughly half past eleven.  Already there were Shad and Auru, who were sitting at the map table talking.  Telma was behind the bar table, talking with a solitary figure.  I did not have the wherewithal to look as to who it was for I was simply too tired to concentrate on anything but the objective. 


“Ashei.” Telma said.  “It’s good to see you again.  You’ve been gone for almost a week.  But, I thought you said you were going to be out there for at least ten days.”


Shad and Auru stood up.  Ashei addressed them along with Telma.  “Yes, but circumstances have caused my early return.  Come, we will address these issues at the map table.”


I followed Ashei to the table.  We all sat down around the table and Ashei laid out what we had seen.  “We were at Snowpeak Ruins, and we were about to about to sit down with the Yeti for a meal.  Just then Yeto was attacked by two Bulblin fighters.  We pursued them, but were not able to find them.”


Auru’s interest was piqued.  “The Bulblin have moved into the Snowpeak region?  That is unusual.  But then again, we haven’t seen them much since the liberation of Hyrule Castle several years ago.  Was this all that you found?”


“No.” Ashei said.  “We continued to the east, to the Hyrulian border, and we used bombs to get through a blocked passageway.  Just beyond the border, down in a valley, there’s a major settlement in the snowy wasteland.”


“Is it a Bulblin settlement?” Telma asked. 


“We believe so.” I said.  “I investigated a sign pointing down to the settlement, and the markings of the sign were not hylian.  They appeared to be similar to those that I had seen in the hidden village several years ago.”


“Were the markings heavy on squiggly lines and line breaks?” Shad asked, paging through his dictionary.


“Why, yes, I guess you could say that.” I said. 


“The writing you saw is probably of Twili origin, or was probably in some way a dialect from the language of the Twilight Realm.  That means that the settlement is probably connected in some way with the Twili and their allies.”


“I’m not sure about that.” Ashei said.  “True, the Bulblin writing style is somewhat borrowed from the Twili, but that was largely due to their leadership being aligned with Zant and his corrupt rule.  Once he was defeated and Midna was restored to the Twili throne, the Bulblin and Twili have been against one another.”


“How do you know that?” Telma said. 


“Well, to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure about that.  But, don’t you get the feeling that if the Twili still cared about the Bulblin, that Midna would have made some effort to protect them from the onslaught they received from the Hylians following the defeat of Ganondorf?  The Hylian Knights completely decimated their force and drove them out of their base in Eldin Province before scattering their forces.”


“To do so would have angered Princess Zelda.” Telma said.  “There’s no way Midna or any of the Twili leadership would have risked that.  Zelda probably would have ordered an all-out invasion of the Twilight Realm if she even suspected that they were responsible for attacking her kingdom again.”


“Now, now, I’m sure that cooler heads would have prevailed.” Auru said.  “Midna and Zelda are good friends.  There’s no way they would have let the Bulblin drive a wedge between their people like that.”


“Here’s what’s bothering me.” I said.  “What possible use could the Twili have for the Bulblin?  Why were they aligned in the first place?” 


“The Bulblin were simply mercenaries.” Auru said.  “They had nothing, they had no infrastructure, they had no basic services, and they had no organized civilization.  The Twili led by Zant promised them riches, promised them a new life they never would have had on their own.  That’s why they aligned with Zant during the time of the twilight invasion.”


“Here’s the other thing.” I said.  “The only known link between Hyrule and the Twilight Realm is the Twilight Mirror, which is located high above the Arbiter’s Prison in the eastern desert.  Princess Zelda said that following the defeat of Ganondorf, Midna destroyed the mirror, cutting off that link.  Now our leader is not one to tell lies, so unless there is another link somewhere in Hyrule there’s no way the Twili could be involved in the happenings in the mountains.”


“Well, I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion yet.” Telma said.  “The questions that we need answered are twofold.  Why exactly are the Bulblin amassing themselves in a base of operation across the Hyrulian border?  And are the Twili somehow involved?


“Perhaps the most important question of all is this.” Ashei said.  “What kind of a threat does this newfound city pose to Hyrulian security?  That, my friends and comrades, is the question that needs answered.”


“I do believe another expedition to the mountains should be made, post-haste.” Telma said. “With that, you all know the code.  Nothing uttered here leaves this place.  The last thing we need is for the populace to know of such matters.”


We spoke about several other issues, and then adjourned the meeting at half past twelve.  By this time I was just about asleep and Ashei had to nudge me several times to keep me awake.  When I got back on the streets, they were much more crowded than before, particularly on the south road leading north toward downtown.  It was the height of the lunch rush, and people were out buying fruits, vegetables, bread, and other provisions from the various fruit stands.  Having not had anything to eat in almost seven hours, I bought two apples from the friendly goron running one of the fruit stands.  After stopping to eat for a few minutes, I made my way back west two blocks to my old home, a second-floor, single-room residence on Hyrule Castle Town’s southwest side. 


I had expected that my mother, Kaylee, would be at home.  But to my surprise, my brother Soren was there as well, along with a young woman I had not seen before.



Chapter 5 – Family Reunion 


“Shira, you’re home!” mother said with excitement as she came over and hugged me.  “I did not expect to see you for several more weeks, I’m so glad you’re here.”


“It’s great to see you again sis.” Soren said. 


“It’s good to see you too big brother.” I said.  “How has life been?”

“Oh, it’s been good.  I have a new job as a sword smith.  Business has been booming, and I’m about to move into a new house near downtown.”


“He’s about to make his big start, all on his own.” Kaylee said.  “I’m getting a bit teary-eyed at the thought of him moving out again so soon, but I know it’s for the best.”


“Again?” I asked.  “You mean you’ve been gone before?”


“I took a sabbatical down in Faron Province following the end of our adventure.  I decided to get out of the city, get in touch with the natural world, and just settle down in a place without all of the hustle and bustle of Hyrule Castle Town.  I built my own house of wood and sod near Faron Spring in the south of the province.   There were times where I would travel out of Hyrule proper, into the Ordona country.  It’s such a peaceful place.  The cool breeze, the gentle running water of the springs, and the sway of the trees, combined with the people there just make it so.”


“I take it you spent some time with Link then?” I asked.


“True, he does come from the Ordona region, and his house was just across the Ordon Bridge from mine. However, Link is a bit of an enigma.  There were times where I would speak to him, but we never really spent a lot of time together.  He never really ventures out of his comfort zone, and he is generally very quiet, never really revealing his true feelings.  I would go crazy trying to hold everything in like he does.”


Soren paused for a moment, and then turned to the girl beside him.  “I don’t believe you’ve met my girlfriend.” Soren said to me.  “Her name is Santha.  She comes from the Eldin province, far to the west.  Santha, this is my sister, Shira.”


“I have heard so much about you.” Santha said.  “You and your brother have been through a lot together.”


“Indeed we have.” I said.  “My mother too.”


“Now that’s all in the past dear.” Kaylee said.  “We now have a bright future, one where we can achieve our goals and live the way we desire.  Come, I’ve made a meal of boiled cucco and carrot & walnut soup.  There’s enough for all of you.”


My eyes immediately perked up at mother’s statement.  If you recall from our last adventure, cucco is my favorite food, and that was the meal we had on the night of the Twilight Invasion three years ago.  I was still a young girl that night, but even now, my love of cucco had not wavered.  Several of my friends tell me that I should not eat meat for it is inhumane and not good for the overall gastronomy, but Ashei tells me that is patently false, and that meats are important for developing a strong body.  She may be right, for the men of Hyrule eat meat all the time and they grow strong.  Mother’s cooking was always good, and this was no exception.  What surprised me was the soup, which was exceptional, though not quite as solid as the soup prepared by Yeto several days earlier.  Of course, comparing anybody’s cooking against that of the Yeti is

not really fair.  The Yeti live for food.  How else could they retain such girth to live in the brutal climate of Snowpeak Province? 


“So where have you been recently?” Santha asked me.


“I spent a great deal of time at Lake Hylia.” I answered.  I’ve grown to become very adept at fishing.  I once caught a giant loach that was enough food for a week.”


“That’s pretty impressive.  You must be physically strong to be able to reel in a fish of that size.”


It was true.  At the beginning of my brother and I’s first adventure, I was puny, a real weakling.  But during that time and since, I had devoted myself to being independent and taking care of myself, and part of that was getting physically strong and learning how to properly fight.  Ashei and the other members of the Adventurer’s Guild helped me get started down that path.  Through most of the adventure I didn’t even know how to fight with a sword.  Now, even though Soren would never admit it, I could probably give him a battle.  And I’m still a much better archer than he is. 


“Sis.” Kaylee said.  “I do recall you mentioning an adventure out to the mountains.  What happened out there?”


Remembering Telma’s words, I tried not to give anything away.  “Uh, well, Ashei and I met up with several of the Yeti out near the Snowpeak Ruins.  We’re researching their mannerisms, and the physical geography of the region, which is largely unmapped to this point.  We, stayed a few days out there, and they showed us around their mansion.  They made us soup too.”


“I thought you hated cold weather.” Soren said.


“Well, to be honest I do.” I said.  “That’s why I moved to Lake Hylia, and presumably that’s one of the reasons why you moved to Faron Woods too brother.  But Ashei asked me to come along, and I had never been to the mountains before, so I figured I would join her.  It was a rather interesting trip really.  I got to sled down a giant mountain!”


“I bet that was fun.” Santha said.


“Oh, actually it was death-defying!” I laughed.  “I honestly thought I was going to fall into one of the crevasses and never be seen again.” 


“Sis, that’s just you in a nutshell.” Soren said.  “You never did like to try new things, except maybe in cases of flying through the air at high speeds.  I’ll never forget that day where you decided to climb into that cannon at Lake Hylia.  I thought you had truly gone mad.”


“Wait, you climbed into a cannon?  You mean like the one Renado the shaman had in his basement in Kakariko Village?” Santha asked.  “Everybody in Kakariko knows about it, how it

was designed to send a person all the way into the heavens.  Well, until the day it disappeared of course.”     


I didn’t really know how to answer this, so I just nodded my head.  Soren, Santha, and I continued to converse for about another ten minutes or so before I told them that I needed to be going.  I had to return to Telma’s Bar for an afternoon briefing.  We waved our goodbyes and I left through the door, heading back to Hyrule Castle Town’s South Road.  From there, it was only two blocks south and one block west down a back alley to the bar.  But as I was reaching the entrance, I realized that I was being followed.  I quickly turned around and saw that Soren had been following me the whole way. 


“Soren, you scared me!” I yelled.  “What are you doing here?”


He was cross, and gazed into my eyes. “What’s really going on in the mountains?” He asked.



Chapter 6 – Bulblins Don’t Quit…


My brother was always a nosy fellow.  As a child, he was always getting into my things, and demanding to know private details of my life.  Sigh, it just never ends with him. 


After my initial feelings of detract though, I realized that it was a good thing he had come. After all, we had been through so much together, and after last week’s discovery, perhaps it was a good thing for him to see what Ashei and I had seen.  If nothing else, it might enable him to build up his supply of quality swords and blades for the inevitable rush of business he would see once the public learned of the Bulblin City.  After all, though we were all sworn to secrecy, it was impossible to keep such news hidden forever. 


Even though we had not traveled together in years, it seemed as though there was something that, just felt right about his presence.  The last time I had traveled through the mountains with Ashei, I was on edge, not sure what was around the next bend or if the next step would lead us to a vicious fall and an untimely demise.  With Soren at my side though, I feel as though everything is right in the world, and that I can do anything.  Armed with my trusty bow, my sword and shield, and five of my best friends, Telma, Soren, Ashei, Shad, and Auru, we all plotted our journey and trained in our fighting methods that night.  The next morning with said equipment and manpower, we trekked eastward across the East Lanayru Plain and into the mountains.  As with our previous journey, the first part of the trip would be conducted on horseback before yielding to some tough hiking.  The temperature had risen a bit since our nighttime journey a day and a half ago, which was nice.  Of course, it did not last very long, for the mountains were still snow covered and cold. 


It would not take us quite so long to reach Snowpeak Ruins this time, for we were traveling on a more direct path leading straight to the east.  The path we had taken the previous time was more northerly, and had dropped us into the plains of north central Lanayru, forcing us to backtrack to the south.  Ashei tells me that the trail is dangerous, far too risky for just two people to navigate.   With a whole group of six however, we would be able to help each other over the more difficult

passageways and rock faces.  She was right, for this particular trail led us over some of the most rugged terrain in all of Hyrule.  We crossed over mid-hill ridges barely three feet wide, and climbed over rock faces that were at least forty-five degrees steep.  Using an item that was initially discovered by Link but had since been put into production by my brother, the clawshot, we were able to grapple into the ice, allowing us to quickly pass.  I don’t know what we would have done in a warmer season.  Maybe vegetation would have been present.


We had our late day meal near the highest point in the mountains. The view was simply breathtaking as we stood thousands of feet above the plains of Lanayru, the sun in its glorious descent as we looked to the west.  We made camp that evening within an outcropping that protected us from the fierce winds at the summit.  Maybe it wasn’t the best of ideas to stay the night in such high elevation, as the air was thin and the temperature frigid.  Less than a day earlier we were in mild conditions on the plains of Lanayru.  I really do dislike the winter’s chill, particularly when the calendar has passed into springtime.


It would be all downhill from here.  After crossing a fairly rocky section, we reached a switchback filled course covered in deep snow.  It was perfect.  We took turns sliding down the course and eventually it collected into a bowl with really deep snow at the bottom, which served to slow us down.  After a few more rocky sections, the path merged with the trail that would lead us back to Snowpeak Mansion.  Only about thirty more minutes of downhill sliding and hiking and we would be there.


We reached the mansion sometime in the midday, a record run for speed, Ashei tells me.  It did not seem as though the time was much faster than the previous voyage but we did travel through the night the previous trip, something we did not do this time.  We all gathered in front of the Snowpeak Ruins, and saw that our two Yeti friends were not in view.  We opened the door and entered the mansion, and saw that the opening foyer was also deserted.  It seemed unusual to barge into somebody’s house like this, but they knew us very well, and always enjoyed having visitors.  We entered the living room of the mansion, and again noticed a commotion coming from the kitchen on the left.  We all moved into the doorway to see what the noise was about, and we noticed Yeto and Yeta shouting at a group of Bulblins that had been tied up in the corner of the room.  Yeto had a large club in his hand and looked exasperated.


“Why you always take soup?” Yeto shouted.  “Every week, every day, your kind rob from Yeto’s kitchen!  What need do you have for Yeto’s cooking?  You should ask before taking!”


“What problem do you have with us?” Yeta asked.  “Why you steal fish and cheese too?  We need food for survival!”


“We’re sorry, don’t hurt us please!” One of the bulblins pleaded.  “We’ve run into a severe shortage of food in our city, and there’s not much we can do.  We try to eat the snow and ice, our clothes even it so bad!”


“That not good to steal though!” Yeto shouted.  “You very brave for stealing from Yeti, but very dumb also!”

“Why you all live in mountains?” Yeta asked.  “There’s so much more places to go.”


“We’ve been ostracized by the Royal Family.  It not safe for us in the plains.  We’re outcasts here now.” The bulblin answered.


 Before Yeto could shout at them again, he noticed all of us standing in the doorway.  “Oh, hello there all.  Yeto is bit mad today, sorry for that.” 


“Don’t worry about it,” Ashei said.  “Hey anyway, while we’re here, perhaps we should get in on the fun, yeah?” 


“I don’t see why not.” Telma said. 


Soren and I stepped into the main part of the kitchen and looked straight at the three bulblins.  At the sight of us, the middle bulblin’s became very wide-eyed.  He then began to visibly tremble.  It took me a moment to wonder why he had reacted that way that was before I noticed two scars on his face and one across his chest.  Suddenly I began to have flashbacks to the confrontation in the underground beneath the Hidden Village years earlier.  It was him!  The one that had taken me hostage and threatened to slash my throat! 


“It…it’s you.” The Bulblin said.  “You and you, you’re the ones that ruined us!” he shouted as he struggled with his restraints.


“What are you saying?” Yeto asked.


“Them, the boy and girl.  Them and the man from Ordona, they murdered many of our kind.  That boy standing here, he killed Zerobaum, the Prince of Twilight!  They killed our king!”


Soren moved forward, but I held out my hand to stop him.  I walked forward and curtseyed to the bulblin trio.  “Ah yes, we meet again good sir.  It’s been a long time since our last meeting beneath the Hidden Village.  It’s such a shame that you’re in such a state of affairs, in the presence of two fearsome Yeti and my band of freedom fighters.”


“You miserable harlot, I should have killed you when I had the chance!  I had my knife ready to plunge into that neck of yours and you eluded me!  You should be dead along with your father!”


“Now now, there’s no need for such talk.” I asked.  “Surely you don’t mean to call me such names.  My brother and I showed great restraint by simply knocking you out as opposed to killing your sorry hide, which we easily could have done.”


“I don’t want to hear any more from you!  You’ve ruined us!” the bulblin screamed at me. 


“That ruin you have brought upon yourself.  It was your unintelligent despot that got you into this situation.  If you had not lived a life of pillaging, violence, and outright terrorism at the

expense of the people of Hyrule, your kind would not be in the predicament they are now.  You would not be hungry, relegated to such brutal cold, and struggling to survive in some unknown valley of despair across the border.” 


“If only I could get my hands on you I would destroy you for what you’ve done!  I would snap you to pieces!” the bulblin snapped at me.


“That’s quite enough.” Soren said.  “We’ll let the Yeti handle this from here.” 


“Actually, I like green man’s idea better.” Yeto said.  The abominable snowman called me over to him.  He whispered in my ear.  “You are fighting woman, yes?”  I answered amiably.  “You can surely defeat him, yes?”  I again answered positively.  “Then you should let him fight you here, now.  Tell him that if he defeats you they will be allowed to take all the food they want.”


I turned around and walked back to Telma and Ashei, who were surprised at Yeto’s proposal.  I could see based on their expressions that they were almost giddy at the thought.  What they didn’t know was how long I had waited for a moment like this.



“I accept your challenge.  Untie him, and let us proceed to the outdoors.”  We walked out into the living room area, and then out into the central courtyard of the mansion, which was more like a chilly, snow-covered open-air space in the middle of the gargantuan complex.


“Are you sure you want to go through with this, sis?” Soren asked me as I rubbed my sword down with a cloth.


 “Big brother, that’s a silly question.” I responded.  “Why wouldn’t I want to beat up a bulblin, especially one that once threatened my life?  Besides, I think this will help us move forward toward their stronghold.”


“How do you imagine that?” he asked.


“You’ll see.  Just step back and try not to be too protective of me.” 


The bulblin drew his blade and approached the center of the Snowpeak Mansion’s central courtyard.  There Yeto had drawn a circle in the snow, which was hardly visible for long because the conditions had worsened in the last few hours.  Snow had begun to fall, and the wind now whipped around at a fervent rate.  I moved forward to the circle’s edge and looked him straight in the eyes. 


“Here are the rules of this engagement!” I shouted.  We will fight by any means necessary until one of us attains such injury that they cannot continue, or until one us submits.  If you win this battle, Yeto has agreed that your side will be allowed any and all food that you desire from his kitchen.  But if I win, you will not only repay Yeto for the food that you have taken, but your group of three must show us into your city and take us to your leader.”


“With the guarantee that none of us will be harmed!” Soren shouted from behind.


“You have yourself a deal.  Prepare for pain!” the bulblin shouted. 



Chapter 7 – …Well, Maybe They Do


Yeto signaled the beginning of the fight, and as I anticipated, the bulblin came running after me with his blade raised.  I easily evaded this attack and swung at his right leg.  He jumped and the attack missed.  He attempted to roll around my backside and attack but I gave him a sweeping kick that connected with his mid-section and dropped him to the snow.  He quickly got up and ran after me again.  Again, I dodged and swung my sword.  This time the bulblin blocked it with his shield, and moved forward, nudging me with it.  Surprised, I nearly fell down, but I held my balance and the bulblin stepped back to notch an arrow.  I stepped back and put up my shield for a block but watched as the arrow missed two feet to my right.  That fact nearly made me laugh as I drove my sword toward him.  He fumbled, just barely able to get his blade up in time.   I exerted pressure on him and I could tell he was fighting it.  His face turned beat red, and with a mighty burst, I pushed the bulblin to the ground. 


“For woman, you are strong.” The bulblin said.  “But I am stronger.”  He got back up and jumped at me with his blade.  I blocked with my shield and nudged him back.  I then swung at him, forcing him backward.  The bulblin fumbled to draw his bow for another arrow shot, but I had already notched an arrow aimed at his heart.  “I don’t think you want to play this game.” I said with an intimidating tone.  “I’m more accurate with a bow that you’ll ever be.”  My adversary must not have had much confidence for he dropped his bow and re-drew his sword.  Our blades clanged several times, and then he dodged to the left and tried to dive at my left leg.  His attack missed and I jumped on top of him, tackling him to the snow.  I quickly disarmed him by pulling back his right arm, and then slipped my arms under his arms and behind his neck.  He was now immobilized as I flexed my strong, toned feminine muscles.  I laughed at his ridiculous attempts to break my hold. 


“Seems like you’re the damsel in distress.” I taunted.  “Do you give up?” I asked.  


“No!” the bulblin strained.  “I will beat you.”


“You really should get over your pride.  I have already proven superior to you and your kind once, and if you just got to know me, maybe things wouldn’t have to be this difficult.”  Having some fun with it, I whispered into his ear that he could be my servant, and he could cut and clean for me all the fish I caught out of Lake Hylia.  This sent him into another thrashing fit, but again nothing that would threaten my hold on him.  “No?  Well then, I guess I will have to apply more pressure.”  I put my locked hands right on his neck and forced in downward.  The bulblin let out a fierce yell as I tortured him.


“Beat him up, yeah!” Ashei shouted as I continued the pressure.  Then I let go, throwing him against the hard stone wall at the end of the courtyard.  He was gimpy as he got up, and he flailed in my general direction.  I brandished my gauntlet-covered fists, punching him three times in the face and dropping him again to the snow.  I picked up my shield and measured my adversary as

he struggled to get up.  When he did so, I rushed in and smashed him in the head, knocking him back against the wall.  I grabbed my bow and notched an arrow.  “Look, I really don’t want to be seen as the evil empress of bulblin destruction.” I shouted. “I could shoot this arrow and have it split your heart clear in two, but I would rather make peace with you and your kind.  If you want to end your suffering and have a hope of a better life, you will surrender and kneel before me.”


The others looked on as the bulblin barely stumbled, still shaken up in the head.  For a moment, the cold air ceased its whirl and everybody’s breathing became audible.  The snow seemed to dance as though defying gravity.  It was as though the whole world had come to a stop as I stood there, bow aimed my fallen adversary.  Then it happened.  The bulblin crawled out on knelt in front of me.  “I…recognize your strength as greater than my own.  Miss…mistress Shira, please guide us with your strength.”


Soren came over to me as I put my bow away.  “Rise, and take us to your leader.  We wish to find out everything we can about your settlement.”


Telma, Ashei, and Auru collected up the bulblin’s weapons, and Yeto declared his kitchen to again be his private domain.  Good for him.  Honestly, I don’t think I would have wagered my food supplies on the success of a friend in battle.  Despite our constant studies and contact with the Yeti, I’m not sure we’ll ever figure out what exactly rules over their thoughts and feelings. 


Unfortunately for us, our plan of departing Snowpeak Mansion that evening went awry thanks to the worsening conditions.  The snow and wind of earlier turned into a massive blizzard that brought biting cold and very poor visibility.  Not wanting to start our trek across the mountainous border in such a storm, especially at night, we sat down for a tasty alternative, a meal of reekfish, cheese, and carrot soup.  Indeed as I described in the last chapter, nothing that my mother makes can beat it.  Even Telma, who is an excellent cook and has made for us several delicious cucco-based dishes at past guild meetings, had to admit that Yeto does a fantastic job. 


The bulblins went hungry.


That night we all took turns watching over the bulblin trio while the rest of us slept.  It was probably unnecessary seeing as they had been disarmed and there was no escape for them, but as we learned in the last adventure, it is not wise to turn your back on an adversary.  It was very late in the evening, maybe just past midnight, when Soren and I took our first turn.  With the bulblin trio fast asleep across the room, the time allowed us to catch up a bit.


“So I understand you’ve taken up weapons crafting?  What is it that you are working on?” I asked.


Soren replied, “A lot of this is sensitive, so keep this in the family, but I am working on several munitions that will soon revolutionize the way battles are fought in this country.”


“Oh yes, do tell.” I said.

“You already know about the clawshot.  That was actually a very easy tool to craft, as it only required a metal handle connected to a spring loaded chain.  The hardest part was actually getting the trigger device to open and close the metal clasps at the end.  I don’t know who created the first clawshot, but it is supposedly of Zora origin.”


“The Zoras?” I asked.  “What use would they have for such an item?”


“I’m not sure, maybe to fish?” Soren replied.  “But what I do know is that the original clawshot was found in the Lakebed Temple way at the bottom of Lake Hylia.  At several hundred feet deep, the entrance to the temple is impossible for anybody but a Zora to reach without the use of their special armor, of which very little supply exists.  Sis, I know you’re a great swimmer and can hold your breath for long periods, but I’m not sure even you could pull that off.”


“Do you suppose you could catch fish with the clawshot?  It seems as though it would be quite difficult to do, but I can’t think of any other reason the Zoras would need it.  As you know, I fish often down in Lake Hylia during the warmer seasons and I’m hoping to have a good catch, will you make one for me?” I asked.


“No need to ask.  When we get back to Hyrule Castle Town, I’ll have it ready in no time.”


“Brother, thank you so much.”   


Soren continued with his presentation.  “I am currently working on three other projects.  The first is a weapon of Yeti origin called the ball-and-chain.  What I’ve done is crafted a spiked metal ball connected to a chain with a spring loaded mechanism at the end.  The trouble I am having is getting the triggering device to get the weapon to shoot straight.  When I figure that part out, the ball will shoot out at an adversary, and then return to you like a boomerang.”


“It seems like it would be very heavy to carry.” I said.


“Yes, and it is not the greatest option when faced with a quick moving foe.  But once it is complete, the ball and chain will be revolutionary because it is capable of taking out multiple enemies at once.  And against a slow-moving foe, it gives you an incredible advantage.”


Soren stopped to clear his throat, and then continued.  “The second weapon is a long range weapon, and is an improvement on the traditional bow and arrow.  I call it the crossbow.  What you have is a traditional bow, but with two additional wooden panels running along the sides of the string and a hollow wooden barrel running perpendicular to the string.  I am trying to figure out a way to get the string to pull back by pulling a lever on the barrel, and when I do, what you’ll have is a self-firing, always accurate bow that will prove to be quite deadly.”


“Brother, that’s not fair.” I said.  “It takes a lot of practice to be able to use a bow properly, and now you’re going to make it much easier.”


“Well, isn’t that the point?” Soren asked.

“I don’t know.  It seems like cheating to me.  If that bulblin had a bow like that, it’s possible that he could have defeated me.  Instead, my superior ability was decisive.  With a bow like yours, you have taken a lot of the skill out of the fight.” I said.


“It is a valid concern, I suppose.  But you also have to remember this.  The tools of war, much like the tools of craftsmanship, or cooking, or making clothes, or basically any task are always changing, always progressing.  The balance of power in this kingdom may not always be decided by swordsmanship.  And to be honest, I think my third project is going to help bring about the future.”


“What is it?” I asked.


Soren replied, “Do you remember the cannon that shot you up into the heavens?  I’ve always wondered about what was possible, if one could harness the power of such an awe-inspiring creation into a more portable size, a size that could be utilized in a large scale battle.  Imagine if these miniature cannons could be loaded with all sorts of bombs, and used against an incoming army, or against a city or stronghold important to the adversary.  It is conceivable that the entire area could be destroyed in a matter of minutes.”


I could sense the happiness in his tone, the almost child-like giddiness that had gripped Soren.  It made me rather uneasy, just thinking about the prospect of one of Hyrule’s cities, possibly even Hyrule Castle Town, getting blown away by a mass of cannons.  It made me ill just thinking about it. 


“How do you know that these weapons, once made, won’t fall into the wrong hands?” I asked.


“Sister, you know I am committed to the peace and sanctity of this country more than anybody.  I realize that what I do is a business, and I earn my living from the distribution of such weaponry, but believe me when I say that my creations are meant for good people to be able to defend themselves when the need presents itself.  There may come a day when as a whole we may need such force to maintain our sovereignty.  The twilight invasion caught us all totally off guard, and I feel it is my duty to make us all better prepared for the next time.”


I still wasn’t totally convinced.  “So you would not advocate use of such power against the Bulblin City?” I asked. 


“Of course not.” Soren responded.  “First of all we do not know what is there yet, and secondly it would be against our morals and virtues to launch an offensive like that.  We would be the invaders, the oppressors.” 


For once in my life, I found myself doubting my brother’s intentions.

Chapter 8: Bulblin City


Somehow, as we set out for the Bulblin City the next morning, I began to feel that our standing on the moral high ground was starting to shift.  I remembered brother’s last sentence, and thought it accurately described the six of us.  Maybe it is my maternal instinct and general feminine dislike for conflict and warfare speaking, but I couldn’t help but wonder what our intentions really were.  Why were we going to the Bulblin City?  Was it to explore?  Was it to learn about the place for defense purposes, which was our stated goal?  Or was it more ominous than that, to size up the place for an all-out offensive?


The weather was much nicer than the previous day, the wind was still a bit chilly but the snow had ceased.  Still, at least eight to ten inches of new-fallen snow had covered the trail leading to the east, making walking through it much more difficult.  My boots were scarcely high enough to keep out the snow, but the bulblin trio suffered the most, as their lousy footwear was woefully inadequate for the environment.  They tell me they have sturdier shoes, but that they aren’t designed for quick hit and runs on the Yeti kitchen, so they left them at home.  Oh well, it just goes to show that even in a place as rough as this, stealing is punished.


About two hours after we set out we reached the large canyon at the border.  On the other side of the gap on the right we saw the same sign that Ashei and I had seen on our first trip here.  Shad, our trusty bookworm, immediately opened his book of texts and examined the writings. 


“The characters are definitely somewhat similar to that of the Twili language; let me see if I can decode it.  Yes, right here, the letters are almost a perfect match.  I believe it says, Welcome to the kingdom of Bulblandia.  Bulblin City four miles ahead.”


Telma turned to the bulblin trio.  “How close is that?” she asked.


“Close enough.” They said simultaneously. 


“Well then.” Auru said.  “Let’s continue onward, we can be there by noon if we keep the pace.”


The trail was rather difficult and rocky for the next half mile or so, with the new fallen snow causing problems since we could hardly see the rocks as we descended the trail, heading around the west and south ends of the valley in which the Bulblin City sat.  After about an hour and a half of tough movement, we came to another steep, snowy downhill course.  A large cave was carved out of the rocks on the right, and just inside it was a large supply of sleds made of solid ice, similar to the ones the Yeti keep at the top of Snowpeak Mountain.


“Well, it looks like our only way down is by sliding, yeah.” Ashei said.  “Let’s go for it.”


“Are you sure about this Ashei honey?”  Telma asked.  “It looks like it could be rather dangerous.  It’s a long way down.” 


“At the very least, it doesn’t appear that there are any rocks on the course.” Auru said.  “Telma if you want we can ride down together, just hang onto me from behind.” 


“I will lead, yeah.” Ashei said.  “The rest of you, watch me take off and count to five, then push off.  I’ll be standing up and will serve as a lead; the bulblin will be in front of me.  If you see me turn off or start skidding, that is the signal that something bad is coming up and you all need to slow down immediately.”


The first time I dealt with such a ride days ago on Snowpeak Mountain, I was scared, and out of control most of the way down.  This time as I readied the sled, there was a feeling of calmness that had swept through my consciousness.  My breath was cold, my chest firmly pressed against the icy sled, my hands gripping the edge as I watched Ashei begin her takeoff.  In my head I counted down, four, three, two, one…and then I pushed off along with the others.  We were all about ten feet apart, thinking that the distance would keep us from crashing into one another, but that line of thought was erased thanks to a series of turns that came up early on the course.  I bumped into Soren, then into Telma as we moved around the curve to the right.  The same thing happened again as we turned back left, my foot accidentally hit Auru in the face.  His sled went briefly off course before getting back on track. 


The good news was that the curvy course, unlike the bumpy ride down Snowpeak, had a very smooth and flat surface.  In fact, it wasn’t incredibly fast at the time either thanks to the new fallen snow, but as we continued past a minute or so, it began to get much steeper and much faster.  We arched around two curves with trees on either side of the snow, then around a bit of a rocky crevasse before the Bulblin City emerged into view.  It was way beneath us still!  The course straightened out now as we began our approach, but the land began to drop away more and more.  Soon we were in a screaming dive.  The wind was flying into my face and stung my eyes as I hurled downward at what had to be seventy, eighty miles per hour.  The buildings got closer and closer in the foreground, and finally the ground leveled out at the bottom of the valley.  In the midst of the whooshing of the air all around me, I could hear the sounds of Bulblin horns filling the atmosphere. We could see the main entrance to the city coming up ahead fast, in fact too fast as we saw Ashei plow right through the open gate area despite several bulblin attempting to stop her.  I saw the others skid to a stop in the heavy snows just outside the entrance but I had cramped up, and allowed the sled to carry in, all the way past Ashei, and well down the main street.  There were Bulblin running around all over the place and I ended weaving around several groups before crashing right into two of them, finally bringing my trip to a halt. 


Upon getting to my feet, I noticed what was happening.  The horns that were still blaring all around the town were effectively warning sirens.  The guard towers must have seen us coming down the hill and notified everybody.  What’s more was that they were running, away from us!  I quickly weaved my way back toward the others, and the remaining people in the street simply cleared the way for me.  Were they scared of us?  Or were they simply taken aback that we had so quickly and so boldly invaded their space?  We were about to find out. 


“I see you didn’t want to stop, yeah?” Ashei asked me.


“No, I suppose not.” I replied.  “It was really fast coming down that hill.” 


“Well, we’re all here dear.” Telma replied.  “So where do we proceed from here?”


We all turned to the bulblin trio.  “This way.” They said meekly, and we headed straight up the main street, the same street where I had inadvertently flown down minutes earlier.  By this time, the street was mostly barren, although the horns still blared.  That alone made me nervous.  I could not tell if we were being led into a trap of our own making, my own making.  Soren could sense my nervousness and he came up and held my hand as we walked forward.  The city was almost eerie, nobody was around, and the buildings were rotten and had a dilapidated look to them.  It was as though we were in a ghost town.  The wind blew through the buildings and swept up the snow as we walked.  After a certain amount of time, maybe two minutes though it seemed much longer than that, we reached the center of the city.  I noticed that the central square was designed similarly to Hyrule Castle Town, with a circular walkway and a monument of the late King Bulblin in the middle where the fountain would be.  More buildings stretched out to the left and right and ahead stood a much larger building made of solid rock. 


“Do you suppose that is the Bulblin Castle?” Shad asked.


“Well, if it is, it certainly doesn’t look like much.” Auru replied.


“Then again, it’s consistent with everything we’ve seen here.” Soren answered.  “It reminds me of the Hidden Village.  Everything is just so…”


“Worn down?” I asked.


“I guess you could say that.” He answered.  “It just seems as though I see a bit of our hometown here too, and that’s the strangest thing.  It’s like a devastated and dire version of Hyrule Castle Town.”


“Could it be an omen?” Shad asked.


We all turned and looked at Shad menacingly.  “What in the world does that mean?” Auru asked.


Before Shad could answer, two wildebeest became visible to the north; they were headed directly toward us.  We also noticed that certain Bulblin were congregating on the rooftops around us, which would not be such a big deal except that the only two story buildings in the city were around the central square.  A few of them were carrying bows and arrows.  Armored Bulblin were aboard the wildebeest.  By now I was convinced of it, our three adversaries turned guides had led us into something rather sinister.  Now it was a matter of diagnosing whether the danger was truly overwhelming or not.


The two Bulblin on the wildebeest came around the monument and spread out to the sides.  Then a third wildebeest became visible in the distance.  A rather large figure was aboard the wildebeest, and when I realized who it was, my brain felt as though it had twisted into an enormous knot.


“Welcome to Bulblin City.” King Bulblin said.



Chapter 9: A Tenuous Accord


“So my eyes are not deceiving me.  You are, in fact, Soren and Shira, the infamous Siblings of Vengeance?”


The Bulblin Castle, if you could even call it that, was a hastily constructed and cramped monstrosity of stone, sod, and even ice in some places.  Spread out in front of us within the melancholy throne room was King Bulblin and what I would guess were his most trusted advisers and soldiers.  Soren and I stood just before the throne, with the other four just behind us, well clear of the other Bulblin that had gathered in the back of the room.


“The honor is ours, grand King of the Bulblin.” Soren said.  In a gesture of our respect we both knelt down and unsheathed our swords, laying them on the ground in front of us.  It was a shrewd move, for were the situation to go critical we had other weapons at our disposal. 


“Let me start by saying that I am very surprised to see you hylians in such a place as this.  For you to so boldly intrude into our city, you have great courage.”  King Bulblin got up from his throne and walked down toward us.  Soren and I both turned to one another, then back forward.  We were prepared to play this out to the bitter end.  King Bulblin folded his arms.  “I see that you have come, and I wonder, why is it that you have come?  What more could you possibly want from us?”


“We wish to learn more of your situation.  It was not until a week earlier that we had discovered your fair city.” I said.  “Over the past seven days my friends and I have witnessed your suffering first hand.  We wonder if something can be done to alleviate the problems that you face.”


“We also wish to know why you have come here, to the mountains.” Soren said.  “What lies here that is of importance to you and your people?”


“Do you bring us food?” King Bulblin asked.


“No.” I replied.


“Do you bring us medical supplies?” he asked.


“No.” Soren answered.


“Do you bring us material to help us build proper shelter?” he asked.


“We do not carry such things.” I said.


“Then I sense that your intentions are not as pure as you claim them to be.” King Bulblin replied.  “Tell me young ones of Castle Town, why should I trust you?  Were it not for you and this group, and that brave warrior from Ordona that nearly sent me to my ultimate demise, my people would not be cold, hungry, and struggling to survive every day.”


“You should trust us because we have the power of infinite justice on our side.” Soren replied.


“What ever do you mean?  King Bulblin asked.  “Speak up!”  


“This is what we mean.” Soren said as we both reached into a special purple bag with the Triforce insignia on it.  The Bulblin around King Bulblin quickly moved forward, as though to attack us thinking that we were about to attack, but he waved them to stand down.  We brandished a pair of medallions and slid them around our necks.  The medallions were golden and were in the shape of the Hylian Bird holding the Triforce, the same as the fountain in the center of Hyrule Castle Town. 


“These, were bestowed upon us by the Queen of Hyrule, Zelda.” I explained.  It is the Royal Medallion of Courage.  Any man or woman who is bestowed with this honor is distinguished as a true patriot of the Hyrulian Kingdom, and has the power to directly lobby the royal family as they see necessary to sustain the independence and peace of the kingdom.”


“Do you understand what this means?” Soren asked.


King Bulblin’s face began to turn red.  His knees and arms began to shake visibly.  Then he turned around and retrieved his horned helmet and spear.  “As I suspected.  Zelda obviously sent you here to do away with us and our kind.  To finish the battle that was fought over two long years ago.  But she has sent you in folly, for even with your legendary battling skills, surely the six of you will not stand a chance against the many of us!”


“You are mistaken. Zelda knows nothing of our voyage here.”  Telma shouted from the back.


There was a moment of nervousness and cacophony in the room.  King Bulblin blew his horn and everybody quieted down.  “Come forth wise lady.  State your name and profession.”


She stepped forward.  “My name is Telma, and I come as the leader of the Adventurer’s Guild of Hyrule Castle Town.  We are a group of freedom fighters.  We are not in any way connected with the Royal Family of Hyrule, though we strive for many of the same goals and aspirations.”


“And yet though you fight, you do not come to fight today?” King Bulblin asked. 


“Though my group often fights alongside the Royal Family, there are times where we do not agree with their principles.  This is one such time.  We agree that now, the Queen has overstepped her authority as an enlightened despot.  They ostracized your kind as a result of your alliance with Zant and the Twilight invaders, and they thought that they had eliminated the Bulblin from the Hyrulian consciousness.  But we believe that your constant troubles here pose grave compromise to Hyrulian security.” Telma responded.  “Am I right in saying that you would willingly seek revenge against the Royal Family for what they have done?”


King Bulblin was clearly somewhat confused, as he did not respond immediately.  Finally he spoke up.  “It is the custom for my people to serve the strongest side.  At present, the Hylia are simply too powerful for us to consider such retaliatory action.  But with each passing day, the temptation to break from tradition and launch an offensive is growing.  Whoa be this land when the day comes when death is preferable to living.”


King Bulblin’s words hung in the air for a while.  Nervously, I broke the silence.  “This is why we have come, to ensure the survival of your people and to repair the broken relations between you and the Kingdom of Hyrule.  As we have shown you today, we are connected with the Royal Family, and have the ability to fight on your behalf to help rebuild and grow the Bulblin people.  There is just one thing we ask of you in return.”


“What is it that you seek from us?” King Bulblin asked.


Soren responded.  “We ask that your people never forget the lessons of the Twilight war.  In return for our assistance you must pursue reform of the Bulblin way of life, and make certain that your hard working yet militaristic culture does not result in further losses of life for both you and for the people of Hyrule.  It is what my father would have wanted.”


Soren turned to me and I nodded my approval.  “It it true, though your kind was personally responsible for his death, he never would have wished this kind of solitude and suffering upon everybody gathered here today.  His job as a road builder may have been his work, but his dedication was toward connecting the peoples and cultures of Hyrule, a dedication that we seek to carry on with each and each one of you.  Please.  It is time for a new beginning.”


King Bulblin thought for a moment, and then motioned for his advisors to come over to speak with him.  Meanwhile, the six of us huddled together and discussed our position.  We agreed that we had done all we could, and it was now up to the Bulblin to make the next move.  Luckily, we did not have to wait long for a decision.


“I think…there is a way forward.” King Bulblin said.  “When you do see Zelda, tell her that I would wish to speak with her.”



Chapter 10: Hyrule Castle


Two and a half days later, we arrived back in Hyrule Castle Town amidst a cold spring shower that had turned the central Lanayru Plains into a slushy and muddy mess.  Despite the fact that we covered much of the plain on horseback, my clothes were covered with a watery muck and I was shivering by the time we reached the city, which was well after sunset.  I never thought I would say this, but there are some situations where the snow and cold is a good thing.  Springtime is cruel.  You can never tell if the sun will shine and warmth will abound, or if the rains will come and cover the ground.


Mother greeted us when we reached home, for had been kept up thanks to a noisy ruckus down the street. 


“My children, it is good to see you again.  But how you look so dirty and tattered.  You really should head to the bath.”  She was right.  Even my long hair was embedded with the awful mud of Hyrule Field.  Soren let me have the bath first, which was probably a good move on his part. 


While we were cleaning up, mother prepared a batch of carrot soup, bread, and some boiled cucco.  We all sat down to feast, and to discuss what had transpired in the mountains.  Although we were sworn to secrecy, since mother was at the center of the first Bulblin conflict, brother and I both felt that she deserved to know everything. 


“So, after you sledded down the hill into the city, you met with the Bulblin King?” Kaylee asked.


“Yes.  He actually came out to meet us in their city center.  We did not expect it to happen so quickly, but before we knew it we were inside the Bulblin Castle standing before him and his closest advisers.” Soren said.


“Before that, the townspeople were running around as if something horrible was happening.  They must have thought that we were invaders.” I said.


“Well, in a way you were, because you dropped in unannounced.  I’m sure they were quite surprised, especially the women and children.” Kaylee said.


“I never really thought of it that way, but yes, I suppose is a pack of Bulblin showed up walking down our street tomorrow I would be questioning their intentions.  I wouldn’t be running, but I would be very alert.” Soren said. 


“Tell me about your meeting with the King.” Kaylee said. 


“It was quite nerve racking.” I said.  “He accused us of bad intention, and I guess that isn’t surprising given our entrance to the city.  But we presented him our plan, which is to prop up his kingdom with assistance from our guild and other affiliated groups, and hopefully from the Royal Family directly.  We are going to request to speak with Zelda later today.”


“Now why would you want to help the Bulblin?  They were the ones responsible for the senseless killings of many, including father!” Kaylee said hurriedly. 


Soren responded.  “We have come to the conclusion that the punishment that has been inflicted on the Bulblin for their transgressions was certainly warranted.  They deserved to be banished from Hyrule into the harsh wilderness and they were.  However, sister and I, as well as the members of the guild feel that such continued treatment over a long period of time is starting to lead to resentment among the Bulblin.  They will eventually be forced to attack the center of Hyrule again in a desperate attempt at survival.  The King effectively said this himself.  We know that several Bulblin have been raiding the Yeti Mansion in Snowpeak Province as they are constantly low on food supplies.”


“Do you think the Queen will agree with your proposals?  And do you think that she will even speak to you directly?” Kaylee asked.


“That we are not entirely sure of.”  I said nervously.  “As holders of the Royal Medallion of Courage, we have no doubt that our word means much to her.  But as for the proposal itself, we are not certain how she will react.  After all, Zelda was responsible for the vengeful policies that have been pursued against the Bulblin.”


“Keep your wits about you at the Castle, mind your manners, and no matter what her decision is you respect it.” Mother said.


In an unsurprising turn of events, the weather had turned once again.  Today the midday sun was bright and the temperature fairly warm as we headed up the busy south highway.  In typical fashion, the street was clogged with hundreds of people attempting to complete their shopping, peddle their wares, and eat their midday meal before heading back to their homes or their jobs for the afternoon.  It was even more crowded as we reached downtown.  Crowds of five deep on either side blocked our path around the central fountain.  As much as I like living in the city, the unrivaled chaos of the midday rush is one thing I could do without.  Brother has been saying for months that the Knights really need to get involved with routing the traffic flow throughout Hyrule Castle Town.  Though I still think such a task would be petty and beneath those that should be our sworn protectors and could distract them from their fighting skills, he’s right.  Something has to be done. 


About thirty minutes past noon we had cleared the worst of the traffic and were on the North Road heading toward Hyrule Castle.  Five minutes later, we reached the front gate, where two Knights immediately confronted us.


“Stop!  Please state your business here!” one shouted.


We brandished our Triforce medallions.  “We are Sworn Brother and Sister of Queen Zelda.” Soren said loudly.  “We wish to speak to her regarding our findings in the Snowpeak Province.”


“You two went to Snowpeak?” Another Knight accosted.  “For what reason?”


“It was a reconnaissance mission to investigate the emergence of Bulblin activity in the mountains.  This is vital information that we think the Queen should know about.”


“Fair enough.  We will send word ahead.  Just hold tight for a few minutes while we get everything situated.”


A few minutes later we were led through the gates into the front courtyard of the castle grounds.  Although Hyrule Castle is visible throughout much of the central Hyrulian plains, you never really get a true picture of just how massive it is until you are up close.  The castle is at least seven or eight stories high and stretches outward for what seems like miles in all directions.  They say that it took many years of backbreaking labor to build it, which given the castle’s size and the heavy marble blocks that were used in its construction, does not sound outlandish at all.


I was just about to ask where we had to go when several more Knights emerged from the main entrance of the castle, spears in hand.  And then she appeared.  Her white and purple dress shimmered in the sundrenched air as she moved toward us, her hair braided in the front and perfectly groomed.  I could not help but be amazed by her pure beauty, something that I could only hope to replicate in my dreams.    


We knelt to the ground, as did the Knights around us, and Zelda raised her sword into the air.  “Sworn brother and sister of Hylian royalty, may your wisdom come forth today.  Rise, and state your petitions before the royal court.”


“Your majesty, we have come with news of a great settlement in the mountains.  It is located in an area just across the frontier.” Soren said.


“Indeed your majesty, my brother and I, along with several of our dear friends traveled out to the mountains last week and found a giant city not far from Snowpeak Ruins.  It is located in a great valley across the border.” I replied.


Zelda was not sure what to make of our declaration.  “So say you, there is a city in the snow-capped mountains of Hyrule’s northeast.  That area is a wasteland.  How did this come to be?  And what all do you know about this place?” she asked.


Soren answered.  “My Queen, we have learned that the area has been colonized by a group of Bulblin.  In the wake of their banishment from Hyrule following the Twilight Era, they fled the countryside and have now banded together in the frozen wilderness in an attempt to re-establish their identity as a people and to survive.”


“Brother speaks the truth your majesty.” I said.  “The city is fairly large, perhaps even larger than Kakariko Village, though not as massive as Hyrule Castle Town.  The city is designed in a similar manner as the town here, with paved cobblestone streets, buildings made of stone, and even a central fountain area that stands at the foot of their castle.”


“They built a castle?” Zelda asked.  “I would imagine it is fairly impressive as the Bulblin are quite advanced in the construction trade.  They have created dams and terraced living spaces in the Zora’s River valley in the past.  What I don’t understand is why the Bulblin have decided to flee into such a harsh climate when they could probably survive well along the river.”


“My Queen, the area in which the Bulblin live is very harsh.” I said.  The temperature is cold, the wind is biting, and the snows come rather quickly and unexpectedly.  But the Bulblin endure there because it is their culture to serve the strongest side.  Since you banished them from the country they feel that they have no choice but to abide by your wishes and remain outside of the country, for now.”  


“But your majesty, this is just the problem.” Soren said.  “My sister and I, as well as the rest of the Adventurer’s Guild, feel that due to a lack of food, water, proper shelter, and other basic needs, it is only a matter of time before the Bulblin resort to desperate measures, measures that could put Hyrulian security at risk.  Already, they have performed several raids on the Yeti in an attempt to gain necessary food supplies.  King Bulblin, whom we met with upon reaching the village, has assured us that this will occur on a much larger scale if his people are met with continued scorn from the Royal Family.”


Zelda turned to one of the knights and whispered something to him.  He nodded his head.  “Come.  There is something I must show you.” 


Zelda and the Knights of Hyrule led us forward through the main foyer of the castle, down a long hallway, and up a flight of stairs.  Beyond the next set of double doors was a sanctuary.  The room was lavishly decorated with all sorts of precious artifacts, most of them golden.  A giant golden statue of the Triforce and the Hylian Bird hung from the ceiling above the altar.  Surrounding it were statues of the three Hyrulian goddesses, Din, Nayru, and Farore. 


“This room is used not only for worship, but also as the meeting place of the Sages.  I ask them to impart their wisdom to us today.”  Zelda laid her sword down on the altar, and then faced us again. 


“If my intuition is correct, you two wish to help the Bulblin?” Zelda asked.


“Yes.  We feel that the only way to ensure the stability of the Kingdom from further warfare between the Bulblin and the Hylian people is to end the policies of banishment and embargo and to embrace a new era of openness.” Soren said.


“The Bulblin feel as though they have paid a heavy price for their past transgressions.” I added.  “Hunger, thirst, frostbite, a shortage of strength and hope for the future, they face these gloomy realities every day.  Really, their plight is not unlike that of the Gorons several years ago, although certainly the circumstances were different.  King Bulblin wishes to meet with you and discuss programs that will allow his people to get back on their feet.  In exchange for your assistance, he promises that you will have the sworn allegiance of his people, and that in the event of any future hostilities, his armed forces will be at your beck and call.”


“Please your majesty.” Soren said.  “For a better, stronger, and more secure kingdom, we must do for the Bulblin what we did for the Gorons, and work with them to satisfy their needs so that they can take their rightful place as a hard-working and responsible people within the Kingdom of Hyrule.”


Zelda thought for a moment.  She seemed to have a puzzled look on her face.  “There is something that I feel I must show you.  A scene will display on the ceiling.  It is that of a story of a young man and woman, one that I feel you have forgotten.”  She placed her sword into a pedestal atop the altar, and it began to glow.  The light flowed up to the ceiling, and within it, we could see shapes and people.  It looked like a street, possibly even one inside Hyrule Castle Town.  Yes, it was!  It was the East Road, between the STAR game tent and the fruit stands.  Then I noticed something else, something much more sinister.


I nudged Soren in the chest.  “Hey, isn’t that mother and father?!” I exclaimed.


“Yeah, it is.” He replied.  “What is this, sort of flashback?”


And that’s when it hit me.  We were about to see what we had not seen before, the horrible killing that occurred that day almost three years ago.   True to form, a pack of Bulblin came down the street wielding torches, clubs, and bows-and-arrows.  They were riding on their armored wildebeest.


“I can’t watch!” I yelled as I turned away, but Zelda grabbed me immediately and turned my head back around.  “Watch this!” She bellowed.  “I will prop open your eyes if I must for it is the eye of truth!”


I began to tremble as I saw it play out.  Two Bulblin came down the street and trampled over a pair of innocent bystanders, then shot an unsuspecting shopper in the back with an arrow.  Then they took aim at father.  Out of the corner of his eye, he saw them coming and pushed mother out of the way, but before he could get out of the street the two Bulblin smashed him in the head with their clubs.


I let out a scream of terror as I watched his body fall to the ground, lifeless.  Tears started to pour from my eyes.  The light continued to play, and a few seconds later, mother was standing over father, trying to get him to awake.  That’s when another Bulblin, King Bulblin himself, rode straight at her and knocked her to the ground with his horn.  He dismounted his wildebeest and picked her up off the cobblestone street amid tens of others running amok in the alley. 


“Zant told me that you would be here.  I must bring you to him.  The power of the Mirror of Twilight can only be unleashed then.” King Bulblin said before he re-mounted the wildebeest and led his pack out of town.  Then the light dimmed and eventually faded. 


I must have fainted because the next thing I knew, Soren was kneeling over me, rubbing my head gently with his right hand. 


“Sis, are you okay?” Soren asked me. 


“Uhh…yeah, I think so.  Where are we?” I asked. 


“You’re in the castle’s medical infirmary.” Soren said.  “You fainted at the end of our meeting with the Queen.”


“Huh.  That’s strange.” I said in a woozy tone.  “I hope she wasn’t upset with me.”


A doctor entered the room from the right.  He scribbled down some notes on a piece of parchment and handed it to Soren.  “It appears that your sister is a very interesting young lady.  She has very vivid reactions to certain memories, thoughts, and feelings within her brain.  In this case I feel that she was simply overrun by the outpouring of emotion caused by looking into the past.”


“That is indeed true.” Soren said.  “She once had a case of amnesia that was cured by being reunited with her most prized possessions.”


“Which were these?” The doctor asked.


“They were actually her stuffed cucco doll and her Zora flippers.  She likes cucco, and is a champion swimmer that can cross Lake Hylia faster than anybody in the kingdom.”


“I see.” The doctor said.  “Her brain function is certainly tied to resonance with certain people or objects.  She’ll be fine.  Just be sure to keep her out of bright light for the next few days.  I have prescribed her some blue potion, which should help her recover her psyche as well as any physical effects of the brain overload.  If she takes that once a day for the next few days all will be well.”


Soren was about to thank the doctor for his care, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw Zelda walking down the hallway.  She peered into the room and saw me lying in the bed, with Soren at my side.  Her face had a concerned look to it, but her demeanor was resolute.  As she turned around to walk back toward the foyer, she did not shed a tear. 



Chapter 11: Pain and Disdain


For the first time in my life, I was witness to a more cold and calculated side to our fair Queen.  While Zelda obviously cares for the well-being of all of Hyrule’s citizenry, myself included, I could not reconcile her exact motivation for showing us a flashback of father’s morbid killing at the hands of the Bulblin.  She had caused pains that I had not felt in years to resurface.  For most of the next two days, I felt sick.  The potions that the doctor had prescribed were effective in curing my headaches, but I could not get my mind to wander.  I woke up in cold sweats from countless nightmares.  Soren did his best to comfort me, as did mother, but it was still a difficult time for all of us. 


There was a meeting of the Adventurer’s Guild two days past our trip to Hyrule Castle, but I failed to attend.  Soren briefed them on my condition, which actually became the main topic of conversation in the absence of any new information about the Bulblin position.


The weather turned warm on the third day, as April was about to yield to May.  The temperatures turned Hyrule Castle Town into a dry and dusty locale, very similar climate to what we would normally see in summer.  It was on this day that I felt strong enough to discuss what had happened with mother.


“She showed us a scene from the past using magic.  It was that of father’s death.” I said.


Kaylee leaned back in her chair.  “Now that is mystifying.  Certainly, that day does not bring back any sort of endearing memories.  I remember being knocked unconscious by one of those attackers and waking up in the land of the Twili.”


“It was King Bulblin that attacked you.” I said.


“King Bulblin?  You mean their leader, the one that you spoke with recently?” Mother asked.


“Yes.  It was him.  We suspect that, at the time, he was aligned with the evil Zant, which led to many coordinated attacks between the Bulblin and the Twili.” Soren said.  “But once Zant was defeated, the Bulblin saw that his side was no longer strongest.”


“Why do you think Zelda chose to show me this horrible picture?” I asked.  “It has caused me nightmares for days.”


Mother leaned up.  “Children, I think the Queen is doing the same thing that I would have done in this situation.  I think you have both forgotten the sheer horrors that the Bulblin have inflicted upon this nation and upon us personally.  Clearly, the incident at Hyrule Castle has once again opened your mind to the past.  Remember that although the Twili were responsible for the invasion, the Bulblin were right there with them, and that father would still be with us had it not been for their senseless savagery.  Think about that before you decide to side with them.” 


Soren and I spent that afternoon walking on the South Road.  The conversation with mother had gone poorly, and indeed in my heart of hearts I still wanted to forgive the Bulblin.  But for the first time, I began to think that doing so would be in the face of not only parental disapproval, but also the disapproval of the Queen of Hyrule.


“Soren, do you truly think the Bulblin are sorry for what they’ve done?” I asked.


“Sis, I don’t know.” He replied.  “My feeling is that they are, but you can never tell what their true intentions are.  For all we know they might be plotting something.  They seem pretty serious and dire about their situation though.”


Brother’s answer pretty much summed up the situation for me.  My heart and my internal instincts were telling me that there were hundreds of Bulblin women and children that needed our assistance and that without our aid; they might languish in the brutal mountain climate.  But my brain was telling me that perhaps by helping them, their rulers would be setting us up for another future conflict.  My father once told me that war is simpler than peace, and now I see what he was talking about.


Several weeks passed.  With the Guild in a state of indecision, I allowed my mind to gravitate toward less pressing issues, such as frolicking in the streets of the city and passing the time down at the fountain in the center of time.  As I was a bit short of rupees I did not do much shopping outside of purchasing daily food supplies.  In several days time the Guild would be meeting again, but I ran into Ashei just past three.  We were outside the STAR game on the city’s east side.  She had a hurried look on her face.


“Here, you have to come see this.” Ashei said in a rushed tone.  She led me down a residential path leading to the eastern wall of the city.  Against the inside part of the wall was a set of slightly crumbled stairs.  We quickly summitted the staircase and looked out over the wall toward the eastern Lanayru Plain. 


“What’s going on?” I asked.


“Do you see the large group out toward the east, several miles past the bridge?” she asked.


“No.  I don’t see anything but grass.” I said.


“Here, take my telescope.  You’ll be better able to see it.”  Ashei said.


I took Ashei’s telescope and looked out over the plains.  Indeed, after a few seconds of playing around with the viewfinder, I noticed what appeared to be a large group of people carrying sticks.  Others in the same group had bows and arrows.   There was a vehicle of some kind, probably a covered wagon though I couldn’t tell exactly, that looked it was the article of the group’s attention.  My heart sank as I realized what was happening.


“We’ve got to tell the rest of the Guild.” Ashei said.


“Indeed.” I said.


We went to Telma’s Bar, only to find the place empty.  Telma showed up around half past four, and the others convened slightly after that.  We sat down to drinks of Ordon Milk and a small meal of crunchy fried cucco with wild fruits.  While our actual business does not usually begin during the meal, today we both felt the need to break normal protocol. 


“Telma yeah.” Ashei started as she gulped down a helping of cucco.  “You’ll never believe what we saw out in Hyrule Field today.”


“What was that, honey?” Telma asked.


“There was an attack on a covered wagon.  It looked as though Bulblin were responsible.”


Everybody immediately looked up from the table.  “Really?” Shad asked.  “Where did it occur?”


“It was about ten, maybe fifteen miles out of town.” Ashei said.  “My telescope was able to pick it up as it was happening.  When I noticed it, I ran into town and found Shira, and brought her along with me, yeah.”


“You saw it too?” Auru asked me.


“Yes, they overran the wagon and took it away, presumably with all of the supplies on board.”


The room was hushed, unhappy thoughts certainly circling through the minds of all assembled.  Telma spoke calmly.  “Ladies and gentlemen, it is my opinion that the Bulblin are growing more desperate.  They have clearly expanded their target range.  Before now they were totally inside the mountains, probably not reaching much farther than Snowpeak Ruins.  But if they intercepted a wagon just ten to fifteen miles from here, that  is at least eighty miles from Bulblin City.  And who knows if this is the first example of such an attack.”


“King Bulblin must be pursuing a new policy.”  Rusl said.  “Apparently, food supplies must be running even shorter in Bulblin City, forcing him to send his armed forces in to raid various merchants and commoners crossing East Hyrule Field.   That is a very, very serious offense and we must inform Zelda as quickly as possible.”


“I’m not sure that’s a good idea.” I said. 


Everybody turned back toward me.  “Why do you say that, honey?” Telma asked me. 


“The Queen has made it quite clear that she will not do anything to help the Bulblin, and that she considers them not to be a part of the Hyrulian Kingdom anymore.  This policy of punishment for past misdeeds has caused the Bulblin to make some unethical and dangerous, yet necessary decisions for their survival.  Clearly, the Queen’s position is starting to cause trauma closer to Hyrule Castle.  If we tell her about this, she’ll send in the Knights of Hyrule.”  I said.


“She’s right.” Auru said.  “If Zelda learns about this raid, we will certainly have a guerilla war on our hands.  It will be a game of hit and run between the Bulblin and the Knights all throughout Eastern Hyrule, with the potential for violence right here in Castle Town.”


Shad was unhappy with the direction of the conversation.  “Clearly you are all missing the biggest point.” He said.  “Isn’t it the royal family’s responsibility first and foremost to protect the people of the Kingdom?  We just had a Hylian wagon intercepted by foreign raiders today, and in my view, the Knights should be sent forth to protect all citizenry in the area, not to mention all commercial interest in the rural areas.  You propose to help them by giving them food and other needed supplies, but in doing so we will be essentially rewarding them for harming our own citizens.  Ladies and gentlemen, that’s not acceptable.”


Ashei took Auru’s side.  “Shad, with all respect given yeah, if you were stuck on a freezing mountaintop with nothing to eat and no rupees, I am sure that you would do whatever you could to survive, even stealing and harming others if it meant the difference between life and death.  Let’s face it, the Bulblin are too numerous and too tenacious for the Knights to constantly chase them down all the time, risking life and property in Hyrule Field and possibly Hyrule Castle Town as well.”


“You might as well throw Zora’s Domain in there too.” A strange voice said from behind.  We all rose up from the table and were shocked find a zora standing in our midst.  And it wasn’t just any zora either.  It was Prince Ralis. 



Chapter 12:  Embargo or Appeasement?


“My dear Ralis, what a surprise it is to see you honey.” Telma said.  “You should sit down while I fix up a batch of reekfish for you.” 


“Thanks but that’s okay, I’m not hungry.” Ralis said. 


“What exactly brings you here to Castle Town?” Auru asked.  


“I overheard part of your conversation.  Said that the Bulblin are starting to move into other parts of the country, that they attacked a wagon in the plains today.  “Well something rather unusual happened in Zora’s Domain about a week ago.  We were watching from over the waterfall when a huge bunch of them came into the lower bowl with giant spears.  Within minutes, they had succeeded in getting a pretty nice haul of fish out of the water.  Though their emergence was unusual, I did not think much of it.  But then later that night, a whole bunch of them came back while we were sleeping.  They continued to catch fish for several hours, and did not appear to have any signs of stopping, way exceeding the typical limit for fish taken out of the domain in a given day.  That number, as you would imagine, is tightly regulated to protect against overfishing.  I confronted them, and they left, but then they came back again in the morning.  Again I had to tell them to leave, this time before they got the amount they wanted.”


“Were they upset about this?” Rusl asked.


“Not initially.  At first it seemed as though they wanted to work with us in order to avoid overfishing the Domain, but eventually they became annoyed.  Two days ago, after several of my warriors told the Bulblin to leave for the day, things got heated, and one was struck in the gills with a spear.  My fighters had no choice but to physically beat them and toss them in the river.  They are probably washed up on the shores of Lake Hylia by now.”


“Oh dear, so there has been bloodshed already in Zora’s Domain?” I asked Ralis. 


“Yes.  It appears that my injured warrior, whose name is Rehobeth, will recover fully within a few days.  I also understand that the Bulblin are in a bit of a situation due to their banishment from the kingdom.  But these facts should not subject my people to their violent culture.”


“Have you discussed the situation with Zelda?” Ashei asked.


“Indeed I have.  She is sending two additional regiments of Hylian Knights to the region tomorrow, and they should arrive within a few days.”  Ralis turned to Telma.  “I just thought that since I would not be alive today without the care of you and that girl Ilia of Ordona, I owe it to you to divulge such matters.”


“Ralis, you have been a big help to us and many thanks for this news.  You are welcome here anytime, just as I wish we would be welcome in the Zora Kingdom.”


“Any time my lady.  It’ll be top reekfish on the house.” Ralis said.


With news of the skirmishes in Hyrule Field and Zora’s Domain, it was clear that the situation was escalating rather quickly.  Since the beginning of the week I had gone from fully backing assistance for the Bulblin to wanting to fight them for their misdeeds, to being totally and hopelessly undecided.  The worst part about it was that for the first time I could remember, the Guild was divided.  Ashei and Rusl still wanted to help the Bulblin.  Shad and Auru wanted to fight them off.   Telma and Soren weren’t taking sides yet, but I felt as though Telma wanted to appease, while Soren wanted to fight as a result of the events at Hyrule Castle.  If push came to shove, I would be the swing vote.  As you know from our first adventure, I am rarely the first person to make the decisive move, and I have always had mother, father, and big brother to make the tough decisions.  But now, it looked like our future was going to be dependent on my beck and call. 


I failed to get much sleep the next night as my mind spun.  In situations such as these, I usually like to consult with my closest friends and family, but since most of them had already staked out their position, I had no choice to but to get far away from everything.  The next morning, I informed brother that I was leaving town, and I staked out my horse on the east side of town.  In an earlier time, he might have tried to dissuade me out of fear that I would run into trouble out on Hyrule Field, but by now he had great respect for my ability to fight and take care of myself.  My ultimate destination was Lake Hylia, of which the north shore lay about thirty miles from Hyrule Castle Town.  On a nice sunny day with dry terrain, the trip takes just two hours.  The flat ground of eastern and southeastern Hyrule was a nice respite after all the mountainous, chilly terrain I was forced to cover over the past few months. 


Much to my surprise, there was actually a very noticeable presence on the trail by the Hylian Knights.  I rode past several of them along the route, including a group of five or six along the narrow part of the trail to the north of the Great Hylian Bridge.  This particular trail, because of its narrowness, was a hotbed of Bulblin activity back several years ago.  I wanted to slow down and speak with them but they looked as though they were busy and did not want to be disturbed.  So on I rode, until I reached the north cliffs of the lake.  Just east of the Great Hylian Bridge was Falbi’s Hut, which was a major transportation hub for getting between Hyrule Field and Lake Hylia.  For those that are unaware, Lake Hylia sits at the bottom of a gigantic hole in the earth’s crust, at least three hundred feet below Hyrule Field.  The crater was caused by a rift between tectonic plates beneath the earth’s surface, although the flow of Zora’s River was responsible for the smooth erosion of the land.  On the north and west side of the lakebed sits an area of sedimentary deposit, which forms a nice beach as well as raised landmass.  Back before the battles with Zant and Ganondorf this area was undeveloped for the most part, but I was one of the pioneers in encouraging people to build properties along the Lake Hylia coast.  My hut is one such property, and it lay in almost the perfect spot, right between the beach and the grassy knolls.


I entered Falbi’s Hut and immediately noticed his crazy multi-colored outfit.  The man is very eccentric, especially in his clothing choices.  On the streets of Hyrule Castle Town, the guys would probably beat him up but the women would adore his fashion.  I find it incredible that he still has not found a woman to call his own.  But I digress.  Thankfully due to the increased traffic flow, Falbi and his equally wacky brother Fyer had constructed a zipline that connected the top of the cliff to the lower shoreline.  In the past, you had to grab a cucco and hang on for dear life while the thing flapped over your head, dropping you gently to the ground.  If you didn’t hang on, well, I choose not to think about such things.  After handing over my rupees, Falbi strapped me into the zipline and away I went. 


The view from out over Lake Hylia is truly magnificent, especially at the noon hour or during the sunset.  The lake just looks so pristine.  The whole ride took about four minutes, starting at a slow speed and then picking up speed as the angle of descent increased.  Before long I was in the landing zone, where Fyer unhooked me.  Without thinking, I immediately leapt into the lake, probably splashing him in the process.  I didn’t care.  This was what I had come to do, to swim around the lake and get away from all the trouble.


The problem was, trouble always had a way of searching me out.



Chapter 13: The Tipping Point


It was about three hours past noon.  My skin was shriveled like a raisin by the time I finally emerged from the lake.  The heat of the afternoon was evident because I wasn’t the least bit chilled when I emerged from the lake.  My sopping wet clothes didn’t take much time to start drying out either.  Right on the shoreline, two zoras appeared to the left.  They all started walking toward me.  They were both carrying spears and appeared to have a sort of armor plating around their midsection. 


“You sure have a powerful stroke for a hylian.” One of the Zoras said.  “My name is Aguaro, and my friend here is Xelpruta.”


“Pleased to meet you.” Xelpruta said to me. 


“It’s nice to meet you as well, my name is Shira.” I responded. 


Aguaro shook his head.  “So it is true, you’re Shira, sister of Soren.  I have heard so much about you.  We traveled here from Lower Zora’s River by order of King Ralis.  He sent a large amount of Zora fighting forces to the area yesterday and ordered non-essential citizenry to evacuate to Lake Hylia.  He fears that the Bulblin will be returning to their bastions along the riverbed in an attempt to gather food and intercept travelers along the river.  Word spread along the waterway that he had spoken to your guild of freedom fighters yesterday afternoon in Hyrule Castle Town.”


“That is true.” I said.  “He said that the Bulblin are starting to get more aggressive in the area around Zora’s Domain.  I wondered if any activity was taking place here as well.”


“If it hasn’t happened yet, it should be taking place soon according to intelligence obtained by Ralis and the zora high ministry.” Xelpruta said.  “We fear an all-out war for Hyrule’s waterways.”


“Since we’ve found you, we figured we would ask if you had any advice for dealing with the Bulblin if they decide to attack.” Aguaro said.


“Well, the thing to remember is this.” I said.  “If you are able to get them into the water, they have no chance.  In the case of Lake Hylia, they really have no place to engage your kind here, unless they decide to build ships to sail on the lake, in which case you can simply tip them over.  The Bulblin aren’t very intelligent and their construction is rudimentary at best.  Most of the buildings in Bulblin City are made out of stone and sod, and their wooden scaffolds along Zora’s River are shoddy.”


Bulblin City?” Xelpruta asked.  “What’s that?


“It’s a congregation of Bulblin up in the mountains just to the east of the Hyrulian border.  The city, if you can call it that, lies at the bottom of the snowy valley between a pair of rugged mountain ranges.  That is their base of operation, which explains their whole situation.  Their women and children are cold and hungry, and their men are faced with the moral predicament of attempting to live justly but starving, or resorting to stealing and plundering to gain fulfillment of basic needs.”


The two zoras thought for a minute, and then Aguaro came to a conclusion.  “Maybe if we could make some sort of agreement with the Bulblin, maybe letting them take a certain amount of fish in return for stone and building materials from the mountains, maybe this impending war could be avoided.”


“Yes, but why would you want to negotiate with a race of people that already tried to destroy the country once before?” Xelpruta asked him. 


Unbelievable, I thought to myself.  If this conversation was in any way representative of the Zoras as a whole, they were divided along the exact same lines of discussion as we were.


“Come with me.  We’ll proceed to my cabin and discuss this further.” I said. 


From the grassy knolls reaching above my pad, we could see them, streaming in from the west as the sun dropped toward the horizon.  Whole families of zoras were swimming across Lake Hylia.  Some were headed toward Lakebed Temple, right near the geographic center of the lake.  Others were headed closer to the coast near Lanayru Cave, and still others moved in the direction of Fyer’s Pad at the end of the zipline.  But it was clear that Aguaro and Xelpruta were right, and that a wholesale evacuation of the Zora’s River Valley was taking place. 


That night, the three of us had a meal of delicious hylian whitefish, a type of fish found only in the depths of Lake Hylia.  Much more delectable than reekfish or scrod fish found further north in Zora’s Domain and the upper river valley, the amount of people fishing the lake for them was rising with each passing month.  They were nearly impossible to find in Hyrule Castle Town, another reason for why I spend as much time as I do here.  The two Zoras left a little after sunset, and I was left to my dreams for the night. 


For whatever reason, I tossed and turned quite a bit during the nighttime.  It was a full moon, and the moonlight shown brightly through the window of my wooden hut.  I did not know the time; I guessed it was maybe three or four hours past midnight.  As I rolled over and searched for dreamland once again, I heard a strange noise from outside that sounded like feet twitching over sticks.  I listened closely for about the next minute or so, and sure enough I heard it again.  That was quickly followed by a louder noise that sounded like indecipherable shouting.  I instantly got out of bed and moved toward the window.  From the corner, I saw three bulblin outside carrying wooden boxes.  They were armed with bows and arrows too.  Strangely, they had no lantern, torches, or fire-tipped arrows to guide them as they moved.


Knowing they couldn’t see me in the darkness I continued to observe their movements.  They attempted to open the door, but since it was bolted, they could not get through.  Instead of trying to force it open, which would have made a lot of noise in the process, they walked back over to the window.  They set two boxes down on the ground outside the window.  Clearly they were looking to break into my hut, and I began to contemplate what kind of response I would have for their misdeed.  A devious idea popped into my head.  I ran to my wooden cabinet and got out several lengths of rope, then grabbed my sword and shield.  This was going to be fun.


Crash!  A very large rock came tumbling through the window and through the floor.  Two of the bulblin came through.  I could hear them tip-toeing around, which I thought was hysterical seeing as anybody inside would have surely been awakening by such a clatter. 


“I don’t see anybody in here.  It’s abandoned.” I heard one of the bulblin say.  “Grab any food and tools that you can find and move out.” 


After a bit more shuffling and banging, probably through my bed and drawers, they finally made there way to the cabinet.  “I bet there is a nice stash of supplies in here.” I heard one of them say.  I readied my blade.  They opened the cabinet and out I jumped, landing a vicious spinning swordslash on two of them.  The move, which brother had taught me, landed perfectly, knocking them backward several feet to the floor.  I turned and faced the third one, who looked as though he just had an accident.  I gave him a shove with my shield and disarmed him, then turned my attention back to the other two.  They were still just trying to get to their feet as I had struck them right in the chest area.  After quickly disarming them as well, I tied them up with my rope, right at the foot of my bed.  The third bulblin tried to run, but could not reach the window, and didn’t know how to unlock the bolt on the door.  He did his best to fight me hand to hand, but he was no match, and soon he was tied up to my cabinet. I stepped back for a minute and admired my handiwork.  The knots were tight, so there would be no getting away for any of them.


“Now what do you have to say for yourselves?” I asked them. 


“That was a mean trick you pulled on us!” one of them replied. 


“Oh, I’m sorry.  I didn’t really mean to hurt you, seeing as you all attempted to rob me in the middle of the night.  My intention is solely to teach you a lesson.”


“Don’t hurt me please, you’ve already done enough!” one of the other bulblin shouted.


“Is that so?”  I moved slowly toward him, and sure enough, I had given him a nice gash across his ribs.  There was blood, but the cut was surely not deep enough to be a fatal blow.  “Well, it appears that you’ve been injured.  That was for breaking into my hut.”  I took my sword and held it to his neck.  Very carefully, I exhorted pressure, cutting him right below the adam’s apple.  He let out a scream as did one of the others.  Blood poured out of the wound. 


“That’s for leaving a hole in my nice wood floor.” I said with a bit of sass. 


“How dare you!” The bulblin by the cabinet said.  “You can’t just hurt us like this!  We never meant to hurt anybody!”


“Is that so?” I asked.  “And how exactly do you plan on stopping me?” There was a bit of silence as all three of them surely knew now the kind of predicament they were in.  “I may look like a soft and prissy woman, but I assure you that I am capable of just about anything.  I must apologize, for I have forgotten my manners, and haven’t even properly introduced myself.”


“I am Shira, Hylian warrioress, daughter of Kaylee and sister of Soren.”


There was a long bit of silence before any of them said anything, finally the one tied to the cabinet spoke up.  “So it is you, one of the great Bulblin destroyers.  When you jumped at us unexpectedly, and I saw you were female, I feared it was you.  And yet, I hoped it was you too.”


“Your logic confuses me.” I said as I took out my boomerang.


“Don’t listen to him!” the bulblin with the gash said.  “He’s an idiot and you’re going to kill us!”


I turned to the interrupting bulblin and smacked him thrice with my boomerang.  “I have no interest in killing, for it would leave an unsightly mess on my floor.  You would do well to stop jumping to such heinous conclusions for I am actually pure of heart.”  I turned back to the cabinet.  “Please, continue.  Why do you hope to see me?”


“Because I have heard all about you and your meetings with our King.” The bulblin said.  “He said that you were trying to round up support in your capital to help feed us and build our city.  In the mean time, King Bulblin is sending mercenary units like us all over the countryside right now in an effort to find food supplies.  That’s why we robbed you, or, tried to.  The rest of my family is starving back in Bulblin City.  I had no choice.


“I don’t suppose you have the slightest idea of how to live off the land, do you?”


“That’s impossible in the harsh environment of Bulblin City.” They replied.


“Gentlemen, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you’re not in Bulblin City anymore.”  I smacked all three of them with my boomerang several times.  “This is Lake Hylia!” I shouted.  “You’ve got fish all over this lake.  You can find fresh fruits and vegetables growing all over the wetlands and the plains on the north end of the lake!  It’s not difficult.  I think the biggest problem your kind has is that you like to commit random violence against people.”


“I can’t speak for the others you may have seen, but I promise you that if you showed us how to fish and to properly gather food, we would be indebted to you forever.” The bulblin said.


“Why should I trust you?” I asked.


“Because I sense the goodness in your heart.  A normal hylian would have already cut our throats by now.  You may hold us in your grasp, but in the end you want the same things we want, for Hylians and Bulblins of all colors to stand together and live peacefully.  Under our current state of banishment, that cannot happen.  Please, I beg you.  We don’t want to submit to a life of violence any longer.  Show us the way of the gatherer, and your reward will be great.”


“You sure speak well for a bulblin.  I still don’t trust you really, but I have an inkling that you and your two mercenary friends could be just the perfect experiment for my master plan.”  I took my sword and hacked through the ropes holding the bulblins captive.  “In two hours the sun will be just coming up, and the fish will be abounding in the shallows of the lake.  At that time we will proceed to the shore.  But before then you all have to do something for me.”


“What is that?” the Bulblin responded.


“There is a big hole in my floor that needs fixing.”



Chapter 14: The Experiment


“Hurry up and get that hole patched!  The sun is going to be coming up soon!” I shouted.


In spite of my attempt to incite fear into the three bulblin spread out on the floor, I was actually quite impressed with the quick progress they were making.  I chatted with two neighbors who had come from two houses down to check on me, and we were all in good spirits, though they questioned why I was even talking to the bulblin.  It is okay though, for they only had a rudimentary understanding of my upcoming experiment. 


The dimmest of light started to show over the horizon to the east, it was maybe five-thirty in the morning, six at the latest.  They finished the last of the work on the floor, fixing the hole with a light ash wood only found in the foothills above Lake Hylia.  The floor was originally constructed with a darker oak wood from Faron Woods, so the discoloration would be a memento of the occasion.  “Good work you three.” I said as I went to my cabinet to retrieve my fishing poles, my bait, and my fishing spear.  The latter I kept very close to me for obvious reasons. 


We walked out to a swampy and grassy area of the lakebed about a half mile to the west of my hut.  This particular area was filled with shade and nutrients for the various types of fish that inhabited the lake, making it a hotbed for fishing activity most mornings.  However, nobody else was present when we got there.  I turned to the most articulate of the three bulblin, their apparent leader, and asked, “What is your name?”


“You can call me Terex.” The bulblin replied.  “My comrades are Metcla and Pehrot.” 


“Terex, do you know how to fish?”  I asked.


“Well no, not really, nobody in my family ever taught me.  Only a select few of our kind have this knowledge and most of them have been dispatched to Zora’s Domain.”


“Listen well then, because what I am about to teach you is extremely valuable.  There is an old hylian proverb that says if you give somebody a fish, they will eat for a day, but if you teach somebody to fish that they will have food for a lifetime.  Reach into the bait jar and place some bait gently at the base of the lure.  Like this.”  I strung the rod and placed the bait, something that I had done hundreds, perhaps thousands of times.  Terex was a quick learner; he actually did it with some confidence.  “What next?” he asked. 


“Well now, you pick a spot in the lake where you want to land the lure, and then you cast out the line.  Here, watch this.”  I walked forward and spotted a school of about ten fish mired in the weeds about thirty feet away.  Effortlessly, I hurled out the line, the lure dropping into the water without much of a splash.  “Now you try it.” I told him.  The bulblin leaned backward and threw his body into an intense motion.  He released the rod forward, but he did so with such power that the rod flew out of his hands, flying into Lake Hylia. 


I admit it, I giggled a bit.  It is poor manners to laugh at somebody’s misfortune, but sometimes I find it hard to help myself.  “Silly, you don’t have to launch yourself at the lake just to get the line out there.  Watch me again.”  I reeled the line in.  The motion you need comes from your wrists and arms.  Watch the elbows and shoulders, they go back in tandem.  I don’t need to use my legs or anything lower than my chest to get the lure into the target zone.”  I re-cast the line and dropped it into the water. 


“What happens now?” Metcla asked.


“Well, now you wait.  You watch the fish to see what they do.  You hope that they grab the lure and you can reel them in.  Sometimes they bite quickly, other times you wait long periods of time.  Fishing can be fickle, you can get large amounts of fish in only a few hours some days, other days they just don’t want to bite and you go all day with meager opportunities.”


Luckily for all of us, it didn’t take long before one of the fish bit.  Quickly I set the hook and began to reel in the fish.  It wasn’t a very big one, and in less than a minute it was in.  The fish was a hylian bass, maybe about three pounds or so in weight. 


“That was pretty good.” Terex said. 


“I guess so.” I said.  “The fish wasn’t difficult to catch, but it’s a start.  Here, you try again.”


Terex took the line and tried to cast it.  This time it plopped into the shallow water short of the target area.  He reeled it in and tried again, this time putting more of a shoulder thrust into the motion.  It landed right near the fish and much to my surprise one of the fish bit immediately.  Terex immediately pulled in on the rod and before too long, had himself a small hylian pike.  Pehrot and Metcla applauded their bulblin comrade.


“That was impressive.” I said.


“You teach very well.” Terex said.


“Hey, let me try.”  Pehrot said as he took the rod from Terex.  Pehrot cast the line out deep into the lake, though after about fifteen minutes time he hadn’t come up with any fish.  Metcla eventually got a turn with the rod as well, but after about an hour or so, nothing had bit for them though I had caught another fish in that time span.  Then, just as we were about to leave, out of the corner of my eye I saw a giant hylian bass swim in and bite Metcla’s line.  He immediately jumped up and started pulling, but the fish was so large that he couldn’t control it, and the fish began to reel him into the lake.  Terex and Pehrot immediately sprung into action, as one bulblin grabbed Metcla from behind at the waist while the other grabbed the pole.  Together, all three of them fought the monstrous fish for several minutes until finally; the giant fish was subdued on the grassy sands of the marsh.  Watching the scene play out, a beautiful scene of Bulblin teamwork to achieve such a goal so quickly, told me a lot about their collective heart and state of mind.


“It’s a hylian loach.” I said.


“Whatever it is, it’s huge!” Terex yelled.  “That thing could’ve killed us!”


I burst out laughing.  “Well, at any rate, we better carry it back to the hut.  But first I want to show you something else.  Up on the hills just above the knoll here, there are lots of wild fruits and vegetables.  Here, I’ll grab the fish, you all run ahead.”


Several minutes later we were on a hill facing the lake.  The hilly area was carved out mostly from the flow of Zora’s River, which had totally defined the lakebed over hundreds of years.  Geological experts believed that in addition to the river’s natural flow, a shifting of tectonic mass beneath the surface years ago created several of Lake Hylia’s features.  These included the northern hillside, the giant crater in the center of the lake, and the lake’s most famous feature, the Lakebed Temple. 


“See these thorny bushes here.  They are filled with red and black berries if you know where to look.  All you have to do is pull the branches back and pick them clean.  If need be you can use tools to get to them.”  I pulled out my fishing spear, which I never got a chance to use while fishing because of how quickly the fish had bit today, and cut back several branches, revealing lots and lots of berries.  “At the base of some of these plants are Ordon nuts.  They are quite nutritious and filling.  You’ll find them in many spots throughout southern Hyrule, as their name suggests they originated in Ordona Province.” 


We spent maybe a half hour, maybe closer to an hour picking berries and nuts from the various plants in the area, and then started back for my hut.  Everything was going better than anticipated, but the next task was going to be more difficult.  I would have to show the three bulblin how to properly prepare the fish.  Cooking was never one of my strong suits, and compared to other hylian women my exploits were especially poor.  Nevertheless, I would do my best. 


Without boring you with too many of the details, and believe me, cutting and skinning raw fish is a boring and generally icky pursuit, the preparation of the meal went relatively fine.  After skinning the first fish I actually handed my fishing spear to Terex for him to cut with, still armed with my cutting knife in case if he or any of the other two bulblin had treachery in mind.  He struggled with it at first, but eventually got the hang of it.  Before too long the fish were being boiled within the stone pot I use for cooking.  About an hour later we sat down to a delectable meal.  Right before we sat down we prepared the table, and even though Metcla banged around and destroyed a pitcher and two of my clay cups, I let it be.  Trust me, I berated him heavily for his clumsiness and whacked him once for it, but overall they were still far exceeding every expectation I had for them in terms of manners and conscientiousness.  And to think, they had tried to rob me not even twelve hours ago.  Either they were really trying to hoodwink me, or my domicile training was having its desired effect. 


The meal, truthfully, wasn’t very good.  Sure the fruits and the nuts were a nice supplement, but the main course was very bland and tasteless.  In fact I was quite certain that I cooked the fish for far too long.  But the hungry bulblin trio ate it right up and asked for seconds while I simply moved the stuff around my plate for the most part.  Near the end of the meal, Terex spoke up.


“Miss Shira, I am happy for all that you’ve shown us today.  But, there’s something bothering me.”


“What is that?” I asked.


“You have shown us a lot about living off the lands of the Lake Hylia region.  But short of moving our families halfway across the forbidden land of Hyrule, this knowledge won’t really help us in the harsh climate of Bulblin City.  It’s much colder there, and food isn’t as plentiful.  What do we do when we get back home?”


“Yeah, our land isn’t the same.  Even you wouldn’t survive very well there.” Metcla said.


Truly, I hadn’t really considered that point.  The mountainous terrain of northeastern Hyrule and the outer country around Bulblin City was fairly rugged and difficult to traverse.  The last time I was there, with snow and ice covering the ground I did not get a very encompassing picture of the soils and vegetation of the region.  There was indeed much that I had to learn about the region in general. 


“Is it your goal to help your families, and to make your culture that of a self-sustaining and peaceful being?” I asked.  “Because if it is, I will go to bat for each and every one of you.  I will travel to Bulblin City to help teach the way of the land.  I will pledge that my guild of freedom fighters will fight to obtain food and medical supplies for those that need them most.  Most of all, I will do everything in my power to get the Royal Family of Hyrule to relax their policy of punishment against your kind.”


“You would do these things?  For us?” Terex asked.


“Yes, because you have shown yourselves as capable, and that violence against this country is not your aim, but that it can sometimes be a by-product of your fight for survival.  But in order for my plan to work, I will need to put you all on display.  We will travel to Hyrule Castle Town, we will live there, and you will need to be on your best behavior.  Public opinion among the hylian people, not all, but a great proportion, is that the bulblin are nasty war-mongering savages.  If you three are up for the challenge, we can change minds, and prevent what appears to be another hylian-bulblin conflict.”


The three bulblin conferred for a brief moment, and then Terex boomed his response.  “Miss Shira, how soon do we leave?”



Chapter 15: Light of Day, Darkness of Night


The next morning we all stood outside Fyer’s floating hut.  From the view several hundred feet beneath the Great Hylian Bridge, we could see the landing zone, no doubt many miles away, far above Falbi’s Hut. 


Terex looked like he was terrified.  “You mean that’s the only way up there?”  He asked.


“Well, they did complete a winding road leading from the knolls up the canyon back to Hyrule Field several years ago, but it’s a dangerous and very arduous passage that would probably take up a lot of our time.  So instead, we’re loading ourselves into the cannon.  Fyer, that will be four of us, please.”


“Are you sure about this?” Metcla asked. 


“Of course.” Fyer said.  “This baby’s been tested and fired hundreds of times and we ain’t never had an accident.  It’ll knock you right through the sky and land you like a fluffy pillow.”


Now came the fun part, at least for me.  The bulblin bickered for several minutes over who was to go first.  I made it clear that I was going last, and that they were not going to be allowed to back out for any reason.  In the end, Pehrot stepped into the box first, and Fyer began to turn the crank.  The rubber duckys below the barrel began to spin, and the cannon burst into view.  It turned to the north, charged energy, and shot.  Pehrot let out a shout as he was sent hurtling across the sky over Lake Hylia.  The other two bulblin watched as their comrade hurtled at several hundred miles per hour.  With the skies totally clear, we could see Pehrot virtually all the way to the landing zone, where he finally disappeared behind the one building out in the distance, Falbi’s Hut. 


“Well, that looked like a good shot.” Fyer said.  “We’re just getting warmed up.  Who’s next?”


Metcla walked into the box next.  Fyer turned the crank and the process repeated itself.  Metcla sailed across the clear sky toward the destination. 


“You’re not much of a leader are you?” I asked Terex.


“I beg your pardon?” he asked in an annoyed tone.


“True leaders have the ability to swallow their fears and show others the way.  Why didn’t you go first?” I asked.


Terex didn’t respond, but merely shook his head.  He was visibly upset as he entered the box.  Fyer again turned the crank and within seconds, Terex was on his way toward joining his bulblin pals.


“Well, this one’s pretty tame compared to the one over there.” I said to Fyer as I pointed to the cannon several islands away.


“What that one?  Oh yeah, that one will put you onto the tips of the heavens.  It’s really got a heck of a blast mechanism, unless anything I’ve ever seen.  A man named Link brought it here one day, and ever since then, hearty hylians have come to Lake Hylia wanting to be blasted by it.  The amazing part is, it never seems to wear down or lose its accuracy.” Fyer said convincingly.


“I should know, for I was the first person after Link to ever use it.” I said.


“No kidding.  Where does it take you?” Fyer asked.


“It takes you to the City in the Sky.  It’s an Oocca colony miles above Hyrule Field.  When I was there, I met Link, along with the Twilight Princess, Midna.  Link defeated a giant dragon that was attacking the city and recovered the last piece of the Twilight Mirror.  With the mirror re-constructed, we were all able to invade the Twilight Realm.”


“Well for you, this shot should be easy.  You should join your bulblin friends before they run away up there.” Fyer said.


“I guess so.  Thank you for everything Fyer.” I said as I entered the box.


What does it feel like to get shot out of a Hyrulian cannon?  Well, honestly, once you’re inside it you don’t really feel anything, except perhaps when the barrel arches backward.  At that point, you are pointed skyward and seconds later you’re surrounded by the blue yonder.  You don’t feel the impact of the explosion very much, except perhaps at your feet, where there is enough friction to make you feel as though there are powerful boosters strapped to your boots.  Due to the arc and speed of the flight, it’s hard to move your arms or legs much against the resistance of the air.  The only time you can really get them loose is right before the final drop to the landing zone, which for this ride is only about fifty or sixty feet. 


Indeed, the flight that day was just that, and before too long, I had landed in the giant netting behind Falbi’s Hut, bouncing several times before rolling to a stop at the bottom of the net.  Falbi came over and unclasped the bottom of the net, letting me out.  The three bulblin were all there waiting for me.  Pehrot looked as though he had seen a poe, but Metcla seemed in good spirits.


“Be sure to come back again soon my lady.” Falbi said as he led us out of the hut.  Just behind Falbi’s Hut was the alcove where I had left my horse.  Within minutes, I had given her a feeding and a good brushing and we were on our way north toward Hyrule Castle Town.


“So you’re experienced with horses too then?” Terex asked.


“Indeed.  I grew up in the city, but several years ago I traveled to the forests of Ordona, where I learned to ride.  Her name is Rama.  Two especially kind individuals named Fado and Ilia introduced me to all the horses and taught me how to properly care for them.  After about a week of feeding, brushing them, and working with their hooves and horseshoes, Ilia allowed me to ride around Ordon Ranch.  Rama was the first one I rode that day and she and I just kind of connected.”


“So how did you, obtain the horse?”  Metcla asked.


“Well, I didn’t steal her, if that’s what you’re asking.  I had to barter most of my possessions to obtain the rupees necessary to purchase her from the ranch.  I was hoping that my connections with the royal family would help me, but Ordona Province is a very independent region.  Some do not consider it a part of Hyrule proper.”


“Where is Ordona in relation to here?”  Terex asked.


“Why do you want to know?” I asked.


“It’s just that, you mentioned that there are lots of food items that grow there, and that the area is distant from the rest of Hyrule.  Socially and politically, it seems similar to Bulblandia, except that the climate is far warmer and the food and resources much more plentiful.”


“So you want to move there?  Is that it?” I inquired. 


“It would be much easier to live off of the land there.” Terex responded.


I paused for a moment as I considered what his true intentions were.  The sun shone down from above and the warm breeze of Hyrule Field ruffled my hair around a bit.


“You’d have to get along with the people there.  Something tells me that you wouldn’t be welcome there.” I said.


“What are the people like?” Metcla asked.


“The people of Ordona are a very tight knit community, and they do not take kindly to outsiders.  In all seriousness, some of the people there are quite surly and temperamental.  The mayor Bo, and his daughter Ilia who I mentioned earlier, are both frustrating to get along with.  One of the members of the guild I belong to in Hyrule Castle Town is from Ordona, and he can be quite difficult to interact with at times.  His name is Rusl.”


“What is this guild that you speak of?” Terex asked.


Now I was really backed into a corner.  I had wanted to introduce the Bulblin trio to the guild, but not this quickly.  I wanted to see how they would interact with the everyday folk of the city first.  But now the topic had emerged, and there was no sense of holding back my intentions.


“I belong to a guild of hyrulian freedom fighters; we call ourselves the Adventurer’s Guild.  Our mission is twofold, first to uphold the virtues that this kingdom was founded upon.  Those virtues are that of courage, power, and wisdom.  And second, we fight to protect the sovereignty of the kingdom through any means necessary, even when our sworn protectors refuse.  During the twilight conflict, the Bulblin were allied against us.”


“And this is why you dislike our kind?” Terex asked.


“No.  It is because your leader killed my father.  Many other hylians had family members suffered similar fates as a result of the Twili-Bulblin alliance.  Now we are deciding as a kingdom whether or not to take out our aggression on your kind once again.  My guild will have a large influence on whether or not that happens.  Like it or not, you three are now ambassadors of your people, and you best not foul up.”


The day wore on, and eventually it gave way to twilight, and then to darkness.  The tall spires of Hyrule Castle were visible in the distance.  About five miles east of town we were stopped by a trio of Hylian Knights.  Evidently, they had heard about the Bulblin attacks from earlier in the week and were on fierce guard for any foul play. 


“Stop, I must report this intrusion.” The first knight said.  “State your destination please.”


Hyrule Castle Town.” I said. 


The knight was puzzled.  “My lady, might I ask what you are doing with this group of Bulblin?”


“We are on our way to the city to brief my guild on the violence between the Bulblin and other races of the country.  These three are from the Bulblin City, and are my subjects for the time being until the conflict can be rectified.”


The knight conferred with the other two, then turned back to me.  “My lady, you have a lot of nerve.  In such a time where the Bulblin are laying in wait for our farmers, our merchants, our artisans, and our fellow Knights in order to strike and steal their valuables, we simply cannot allow you to pass so near to Hyrule Castle.”


“I think she’s lying to us.” One of the other knights said.  “I think she’s allied with them.  Just look at the weaponry she carries.”


“We should interrogate her Raym.” The third knight said.  “Why else would she be out here so late at night with a group of Bulblin except to commit acts of treachery?” 


“Now please, I don’t mean any…” I stumbled, surprised at the sudden change of dialogue.


“You’d better come with us, my lady.” The second knight, Raym, said as he moved to grab me. 


I didn’t know what to do.  Instinct took over.  I leapt backward and drew my sword.  “I will not submit to you!” I shouted.  “You question my intentions, and yet I sense yours are not pure of heart either.”


“Why you little wretch in petticoats!” The first knight yelled with a shrill voice.  “This be an act of treason against the kingdom!”


“You had best let her go.” A deep voice said from the distance.  I immediately recognized it as brother.  


“Halt!  Who goes there?!” the second knight demanded. 


“It is I, Soren the swordsmith.” He said as he brandished his gold medallion from Zelda.  It just dawned on me that had I remembered my medal, I could have avoided this whole situation. 


Or maybe not.  The second knight was very unhappy.  “Oh it’s just you.” Raym said.  “The one who thinks he’s too big for us.  We don’t answer to you.”


“Yes you do.” Soren said.  “You answer to me just as you answer to the Queen and all her loyal subjects.  I’ll have you know that I have a major shipment of swords, hand guards, and chain mail that is about to be shipped to your regiment, which could easily be re-directed if this conversation lasts ten more seconds.  Let them through or I’ll let the Queen know about all the terrible things you’ve done out here in the field.”


Raym hung his head.  “You win this time, but you’ll pay for this Soren.  Be gone!”


With that, we hastily moved to the west, away from the regiment of knights.  Within another hour or two, we were at the East bridge heading into town.  Once again we had to confer with a group of knights before heading into the city.  We were near the central fountain when Soren let me have it. 


“What in the world were you thinking?” he asked me sternly.


“What do you mean?” I asked.


“I mean you picked up some group of Bulblin and decided to bring them to Hyrule Castle Town, in the middle of the night?!  Are you out of your mind?!”


“We don’t have any time to waste.  We need to know just how easily the Bulblin can assimilate to Hylian society before we decide to help them or not.”


“I get that, but why here?  Why not someplace in the country where everybody won’t be turned about in the streets with the sight of these three?” Soren asked.


“That’s exactly it brother.  These three, named Terex, Metcla, and Pehrot, have passed my tests at Lake Hylia with flying colors.  We must know how they will react to being in the high-pressure environment of the capital city.  This is our hometown.  We owe it to these three to show them around a bit anyhow.”


Soren bit his tongue.  I knew what he was thinking; that such a decision was merely another of my crazy plans that always seemed to fail.  But I was determined to see this through, no matter what the cost.  It was the only thing to do, for better or for worse.



Chapter 16:  Domestication and Resolution


“Now as soon as you bring the plates from the washtub, we can serve the food.  So hurry up.” 


Metcla grabbed three plates, bobbled one of them as he turned around, and dropped it onto the wood floor.  The plate had a bit of a crack as a result but was still otherwise usable.  Still, I was upset. 


“You have to be careful with those!  These plates are valuable items, and mother would not be pleased with your clumsiness.” I said sternly. 


“Excuse me Miss Shira, but it is cramped in here, hard to move without hitting things.” Metcla said with an abrasive tone.


Terex smacked Metcla.  “Hey, this is another person’s house.  We need to respect it as such, just like back home.”


I was pleasantly surprised at Terex’s show of leadership.  Perhaps my getting under his skin at Lake Hylia had done some good.  Soren and Kaylee emerged from the cooking area with a large plate of cucco, mixed vegetables, and wild fruits that I had collected at Lake Hylia.  Santha was just behind them, carrying pails of cold water.  It was a real feast, but with seven people on hand, it was befitting of the occasion.


Several minutes into the meal, Kaylee made a comment about the way the three bulblin were eating their food.  Generally speaking they just took it off the plate with their hands and ate it.  I did not blame them for this, for it was probably the most food they had in front of them for months.  It was poor manners, but I did not wish to give them eating utensils.  They might mistake them for weapons.


“Where did you learn to make cucco this good?” Pehrot asked me.


“I didn’t make it, mother did.” I said pointing at Kaylee.  “She’s been working on her recipes for years and years.  I could never hope to do her cooking justice.”


“That’s for sure.” Soren said as he took another bite.  Leave it to brother to spoil it.


It was a beautiful spring evening in Hyrule Castle Town.  The sun was setting and the dinner shopping rush was past, yet it was still early for the milk bars and gaming areas to open.  The seven of us all walked toward downtown, eager to show the bulblin around town.  As expected, we got a lot of strange looks and even some degrading comments, but I told Terex, Metcla, and Pehrot to ignore them and not respond.  It was amazing their level of obedience.  I must have really scared them down by the lake.


“So this shop here,” Kaylee said, “They won’t let you in if your shoes are dirty.  You have to pay rupees to have your footwear cleaned and polished.”


“Rupees?” Terex asked.


“Rupees are the official currency of Hyrule.” Soren said as he pulled out several. “They are diamond shaped gemstones.  Green ones like this are worth 1, blue ones like these are 5, yellow ones like this are 10, and red ones like this one here are worth 20.”


“There are other colors as well.” Santha said.  “I don’t have any, but the purple ones are worth 50, orange ones are worth 100, and silver ones are the most rare and valuable, worth 200.”


“You people are rich.” Pehrot said.


“I wouldn’t say that.” Kaylee said.  “We do well enough, but the truly rich people of this city, they have items and valuables that you wouldn’t believe.”


“Mother, I don’t mean to interrupt.” I said.  “But what I think Pehrot means is that we are rich compared to those in Bulblin City.  Even the poorest of Hyrule Castle Town would compare favorably with those living there.”


“Really?  Is that so?” Kaylee asked.  “I had no idea it was that bad out there.”


“I don’t think anybody does.” I said.


We continued to walk through the city, swinging past the STAR game tent and the Malo Mart before getting back into the central square.  The giant fountain of the Hylian Bird beckoned, and the cobblestone streets gleamed in the moonlight.  We were about to turn south toward our final destination, Telma’s Bar, before something caught Terex’s eye.  He turned around and started running off to the north. 


“Terex!” I shouted.  Soren and I gave chase, but the bulblin was fast, and it took us until we were well into the archway that led into Hyrule Castle until we caught up.  He was breathing hard and was hunched over we got to him.  “What are you doing?” I asked him. 


“Is that…Hyrule Castle?” Terex asked.


“Well, yes it is.” Soren responded.  “Why do you ask?”


“It’s…gigantic.” Terex said.  “The whole of our world could fit inside it.  I had heard stories about it’s grandeur from people that came here years ago, but I never believed it.  It’s just so…beautiful and awe-inspiring.”


“Maybe someday you’ll get to see it from the inside.  But today is not that day.  We must proceed.  Are you ready?” I asked. 


We walked down the main south road for a ways, maybe about six or seven blocks before we reached the turnoff that led to Telma’s Bar.  It was late, but not late for us, as our meeting was just about to begin.  About a minute after walking in, Telma came over to us and introduced herself to the bulblin trio, and then the other members of the guild did the same.  Kaylee and Santha retired to the far end of the bar, and the meeting began.


“Ladies and gentlemen, this meeting of the Adventurer’s Guild is commenced.” Telma said.  “If there is no new business, I would like to bring about the resolution we discussed last week, the resolution on whether to provide official assistance to the Bulblin Nation.  Does anybody have any thoughts they would like to share?”


I raised my hand.  “The leader of the assembled bulblin has prepared a statement, and wishes us to hear it.” I said, turning to Terex. 


“What say you?”  Telma asked. 


“My name is Terex.  I come from Bulblin City, a conglomeration of building within the Kingdom of Bulblandia.  As a people we have been exiled due to transgressions committed during the Twilight War.  For upwards of two years we have been left to wander the outskirts of the Hyrulian kingdom, in the hopes of finding our own land of plenty.  Our search has been fruitless, and where we now reside is a brutal place over the Yeti country.  The temperatures are frigid and the soil rocky and difficult to traverse.  We cannot hope to exist as an agrarian civilization here, and groups of us follow herds of various animals every day in order to hunt and have food to survive.  In the winter months, even this proves fruitless.  In recent months, many of us have been dispatched to hunt, gather, and fish the lands and waters of the eastern Hyrule frontier.  It is a campaign hatched from our collective desperation.  We lack not only food, but water, shelter, clothes, and other basic needs.  In recent weeks there have been outright discussions among the bulblin leadership about engaging in hostilities against this kingdom once again.  You may have noticed that recently several bulblin groups have engaged in attacks against traveling merchants and artisans in eastern Hyrule Field.  I do not wish for this to occur, but if another war is to be averted, we will need help.  Today I ask personally for your assistance, to not only obtain food and supplies, but also volunteers to help build up our city, and to eventually become a new territory of the Hyrulian kingdom.”


“Terex, you speak very well for a bulblin.” Telma said.  “Shira, where did you find him and the others?”   


Lake Hylia.  I saw them one night near my hut on the north shore.” I said cautiously, not wanting to give away other details.


“And what happened that night?” Auru asked.


Now I was pressed.  “Well, there was a loud sound, and I rose to see what was the matter, and it was these three banging on my door.  They were hungry and were looking for food.” I said.


“They probably tried to break into her hut, yea.” Ashei said. 


Before I could respond to Ashei’s statement, Telma stepped in.  “It’s understandable given the situation they are facing.  But even more important than that, Shira, do you feel that the bulblin can be re-assimilated into living along with the other races of Hyrule?”


“The bulblin are very warlike in nature.” I said.  “But as brother and I observed in the Twilight conflict up through now, they are a very studious and fiercely loyal people.  With some nurturing and some caring towards them, they could eventually become as integral to this kingdom as the Gorons and Zoras.”


Soren nodded his head.  “I remember seeing Bulblin Castle for the first time, and though the material with which it was built was primitive, it was still very impressive.  You could tell that the architecture, the engineering, and the ground work were all done by talented builders.  From our experience in the past, and from what I saw there, I think continuing the current hard-line approach can only lead to further destruction.”


I was surprised, and very impressed by brother’s stand on the issue.  Shad chimed in next.  “Here’s the problem I have.  The royal family is clearly committed to protecting our merchants and artisans.  The Queen herself doesn’t seem to be giving much thought into helping the bulblin, and remains in favor of a blockade.  If we go against her, we are in danger of coming into direct conflict.  We could be seen as traitors.”


“I think that is unlikely.” Telma said.  “Zelda knows us extremely well.  She’ll take our input on this issue before even some of her advisers. 


“I don’t believe that to be true.” Rusl said.  “In a lot of ways we are the outsiders, and though we helped save and restore the kingdom in the Twilight era, we could be seen as the old and crusty outsiders in this battle.  After all, Shira and Soren’s first trip to Hyrule Castle was a failure.”


“Well, at any rate, I think we have dragged our feet long enough on this issue.” Telma said.  “We’ve debated this, made voyages to the bulblin country, and even brought several back as subjects.  We’re as informed as we’re ever going to be.  I move to bring this issue to a vote.” 


The guild members nodded their assurance.  Telma asked the three bulblin to leave the area, and then addressed us again.  “In order to approve a resolution, by guild law we must have 4 votes one way or the other, not counting any abstentions.  On the issue of assistance to the bulblin kingdom, I vote yea.  Auru?”


“Nay.”  Auru said.  “Soren?”


“Yea.” Soren said.  “Ashei?”


“Yea.” Ashei said.  “That’s three votes yea, one vote nay.” Telma said.  “Rusl?”


“Nay.” Rusl said.  “Three votes yea, two votes nay.  Shad?”


“Nay.” Shad said.  As he registered his vote, my stomach began to twist into knots.  The vote was tied, with one vote remaining, my own.


Telma spoke solemnly. “That’s three votes yea, three votes nay.  Shira, this decision now falls at your feet.  What say you?” 


The air in the room was heavy.  Fear was gripping me.  I couldn’t move, couldn’t handle the pressure.  After about twenty seconds had elapsed, brother spoke to me.  “Sis, it’s okay.  We’re committed to this, one way or the other.  You have to do what you think in your heart is right.”


I turned to him, and nodded.  “Yea.” I said with conviction.



Chapter 17: The Rebuild Begins


It was a cold, late spring morning in the mountains of northeastern Hyrule.  May was a cruel month in Snowpeak Province because it was still bitterly cold at nighttime, but warm enough in the afternoons to turn the snow-covered terrain into a slushy mess.  We all brought an extra pair of boots and plenty of supplies for this mission, which was to last approximately four weeks.  Through our contacts with local businesses and prominent individuals, the Guild was able to obtain food, clothing, wood and building supplies, and much more.  Public opinion as a whole was still very much against the bulblin race, but luckily for us, it seemed that the richer populations of the city were more likely to support our goals. 


Soren, Telma, and I directed the mission from the front, in Bulblin City, while Ashei and Shad acted as supply runners, making trips back and forth between Castle Town and Bulblin City.  Auru and Rusl stayed behind, working our contacts, especially their personal contacts in Lake Hylia and Ordona Province, to obtain supplies.  The three bulblin, Terex, Metcla, and Pehrot, accompanied Telma and I.


It was late on the eleventh day of May, amid reports of ever-increasing bulblin raids in East Hyrule Field and Zora’s Domain, that we reached the bowl-shaped valley where Bulblin City stood.  It had taken us two days to reach Bulblin City by horse-drawn carriage, since we had no choice but to utilize the main road from northern Lanayru Province, well north of the direct passage through the mountains that Ashei and I had used a month earlier.  Due to the steepness of the descent into the valley, we had to carry the initial shipment of supplies in on sleds down the slippery hills.  Thankfully for us, father’s old construction company, now partially owned by mother, had agreed to clear a road wide and flat enough down the valley that could be navigated by carriages within the week.


Just before sunset we entered the city, and proceeded directly to the main gates.  We were stopped by a pair of guards. 


“Halt!  I must report this arrival.” The bulblin said, before he noticed Terex in the front seat.  “Terex!  What are you doing here?  And with these hylian people?” 


“Tyrell.” Terex said.  “These people have come to help us.  Send word to the king that he is to meet us in the square.”


“Shall I alert the townspeople?” Tyrell asked.


“Yes you should, but make sure that the way forward for us stays clear.”


“Will do Terex.”  Tyrell immediately climbed up the makeshift tower above the gate, to where three bulblin horns were placed on the top rail.  He grabbed one of them and blew it, creating a low pitched sound that resonated across the foothills.  Two other bulblin accompanied us as we worked our way to the central square.  After a few minutes of waiting by the statue of King Bulblin in the center, the king himself emerged from the northern archway.  The crowds were growing quite large, no doubt attracted to the smell of fresh vegetables, fruits, and cucco that we were carrying. 


“I see that the hylian sibling heroes have returned.  But, where is your queen?” He asked. 


“Your majesty, our queen wishes not to assist your kind.” Soren said.  “But we do.”


“Contained in these crates and boxes are various kinds of food, some of the sturdiest and warmest articles of clothing in Hyrule, tools and wood supplies, specially mixed medicines from Castle Town, and other necessities.  These are the items that you were seeking when we last met.” I finished. 


“I, I appreciate your kindness, but this offering is inadequate for the whole of our city.” King Bulblin said.  “Even with the growing season approaching, we will need much more.”


“Your majesty.” Telma said.  “We are putting the whole of our work into helping build up your city and surrounding area.  Over the next weeks, many volunteers will be coming to help rebuild roads, homes, and businesses in Bulblin City.  Through our guild’s prestige and standing, our contacts will continue to provide necessary supplies as well.  The next shipment will be here tomorrow, it is at the summit of the trail as we speak.”


King Bulblin spoke to the gathered bulblin in the square for a minute, and ushered them to line up in single file lines.  His facial expression suggested confusion though.  “How do you expect to provide us with your help and your precious supplies in defiance of the Hyrulian royal family?”


I turned to Soren, hoping he would take the question.  He did.  “Queen Zelda is concerned about the violence occurring in the eastern part of the Hyrulian kingdom.  She blames your kind.  We feel that the recent raids have been out of a need for survival only, and by providing these supplies and manpower to you, we can minimize the need for such violence.  With your help, we can accomplish this goal, and then show her that such relationship works for both of us.”


King Bulblin paused to think for a moment, and then a big smile came across his face.  “Of course.” He said.  “You have come to realize what I had envisioned.  That a policy of friendship and brotherhood will erase the pain of the past, and ensure a stronger country for all races.”  He turned around and spoke with one of his advisers.  “We will do whatever we can to make ourselves worthy of your aid.”


The bulblin all came up to us, one by one, to obtain the food supplies.  By my count, we distributed four hundred or so pieces of cucco, and tens of pounds of fruits and vegetables.  There wasn’t quite enough to go around to all assembled, but those that did not get the food got first chance at the clothes.  There were shirts, pants, leggings, boots, hats, and even dresses for the ladies.  Generally speaking the clothes were designed for hylian children and teenaged citizenry, so they were big.  None of the clothiers we had spoken with designed clothes of proper size for bulblin, but they were thankful anyhow.  It was abundantly clear just how gratifying our generosity was to the bulblin, who shook our hands and even gave us hugs in some cases.  It was surreal, something that I would have never thought possible in the wake of father’s death, but in my heart, I know that this day, he was looking down on us with a very proud soul.



Chapter 18: The Queen Returns

Another cold night on a rocky bed. What else is new? Well, it's what I deserve I guess. I've worked very hard to make a good life for myself, and was in the process of giving it all up to help a people that desperately needed it. My back ached and my well-knitted clothes barely beat back the chill.

Thankfully for all of us, following some early rainstorms and chill, the late part of May was warmer and filled with sunshine. It made our tasks in the fields much easier, and the building in the city moved quicker. Supplies became even more plentiful, as the spring harvest from Ordona and Faron provinces made its way north throughout the rest of the kingdom. King Bulblin met with us every day, and lauded our efforts. During one of these meetings on the 25th, he unveiled a plan in which the mountains of Bulblandia would be mined for minerals such as iron ore, copper, and even precious metals that could utilized as rupees. It made sense really, for the Bulblin were a race founded on strength and external toughness. Mining was perfect, and would supplement the economy of the rest of the kingdom, which was mostly agrarian outside of a few locations like Castle Town and the Zora's River Valley.

A milestone was reached on the 6th day of June. On that day, the main highway from Snowpeak Mansion to the center of Bulblin City was completed, giving us a combination dirt and paved pathway with which to transport supplies. No longer would we have to use sleds, but could drive the wagons straight in and out of the city. Planting began that same week in many of the fields. Morale was extremely high as city residents had their collective spirits lifted, and news of violence back east continued to recede. The way I saw things, we were not far away from declaring victory. Telma and Ashei began to craft a presentation for the Queen herself. On the 9th, I was out in the fields about a mile south of the city walls, breaking up some rocky soil when I noticed something unusual. Back on the hill, there was something moving. Perhaps it was a person. I attempted to look but I couldn't tell what it was for it was shrouded and well camouflaged. Was it an animal? Within moments it moved out of sight, and I went back to work. I did not think much of it. However the next day, from a different field west of the city, I saw it again. This time I tracked down Ashei.

"Ashei, do you have your telescope with you?" I asked.

"Sure Shira. What do you need them for?"

"There's something strange up in the foothills above us. I think somebody may be spying on us."

"Let me see, where did you see it last?" Ashei asked. "I pointed toward a giant rock to the northwest. She held up the telescope and looked that way. "Yeah, it seems like an animal, or maybe a person dressed in brownish-green garb, yea? I can't pick out their facial features for we're too far away, but I think you might be right Shira."

"Why would anybody be doing that?" I asked.

"I do not know. Maybe to gauge our movements and pick out our supply shipments going into the city, yea? We have to tell Telma and the others at the meeting tomorrow."

A few more days passed. It still bothered me that I did not know who, or what, was investigating our activities. On the morning of the 13th, Ashei and I handed out supplies in the square before heading out east of town to tend the fields, which were just starting to flower a bit. Just then, I saw Telma coming straight for us. She had driven a wagon carriage right onto the field, which had dried enough by now for such a move. "Ashei! Shira! Come quickly, we need to get to Snowpeak Mansion, now!" We instantly jumped into the back, and Telma grabbed the reigns and we were off, heading up the mountainous trail.

"What is the matter Telma?" I asked.

"Not sure, but something big happened in Castle Town today. The rest of the guild is already on their way back there now. Yeto and Yeta will fill us in when we get to Snowpeak."

About three hours later we reached the mansion. The Yeti took us into the main room and we sat down. "Yeto, what is happening?" Telma asked.

"It's the Queen. She came through here several days back, asking what was happening in mountains."

"What did you tell her?" I asked.

"Said that building of road was happening. She then went toward Bulblin land."

"What happened after that, yea?" Ashei asked.

"She went to Bulblin land to look around. Yesterday morning she come back here, and run into brother not far from house."

My heart started to beat fast. "Zelda and Soren crossed paths yesterday?"

"He was carrying supplies and iron material to Bulblin land. Queen find out and her and Knights take him away. I tell others when they reached house last night. They are on way back to Castle Town." Yeto said with pain in his voice.

"What? Brother was kidnapped?" I asked. Before I knew it, emotions started to wash over me, and I started crying uncontrollably. Telma, Ashei, and Yeta did their best to calm me down. "Soup help?" Yeto asked.

"Yes, that would be good." Telma asked as she handed me a handkerchief.

It wasn't much longer until we had boarded the wagon and headed out toward the north. We moved as quickly as we could over the mountain trail, attempting to reach the Lanayru frontier before nightfall, which would allow us to continue through the night on the flatlands of northeastern Hyrule Field. A little bit before sundown, we made it down the last mountain pass, and the stars above came out to play over the grassy knolls. I was in too much off a mental hysteria to appreciate it though. Brother was in danger, perhaps in the hands of the same Knights that had attempted to apprehend me with the three bulblin about a month earlier. It gave me chills to think of what the Queen had in mind. Ashei did her best to keep me comfortable, like I said earlier; she is truly my best friend. Even in times like these, she knows how to make me feel at peace, even happy.

Telma drove the horses as much as she could, and deep into the night, I would guess about three or four, we reached Castle Town. We all trudged through the city and crashed upon reaching the bar. We would not sleep for long however, for as soon as the sun arose, I was on a mission, to figure out exactly what had transpired the previous day, and where brother was. The three of us walked north through the central square, and toward the south gates of Hyrule Castle. When we reached the gates, two Knights stopped us.

"Excuse me. What is the matter for which you are here?" The Knight asked.

"I have come to find the whereabouts of my brother, Soren." I said as I brandished my medallion. "Miss Shira is the name."

The Knight chuckled a bit, which I found annoying. "Ah yes, you are the honorable Shira. I have been instructed to tell you that your brother is here, safe and sound, and that the Queen wishes to see you. Follow me please." Telma and Ashei attempted to follow, but the other Knight explained that the invitation to enter was for me, and me only.

Keeping my wits about me as I moved forward, the Knights led forth to the main foyer of Hyrule Castle. There I was met by two of Zelda's royal attendants, who led me up several staircases and even onto the outside of the castle at times. There were rooms on the third level filled with armored statues, paintings of various hyrulian historical figures, and of course, lots of royal treasure. With each passing room, I got more and more nervous. Clearly, Zelda had this well planned in advance. As we reached the fourth level, I did all I could to prevent my fears from taking over. Those fears rose even higher when four more Knights appeared just before we were to reach the top level. Finally, we did reach the top level. It was a giant room, yet very plain, with pillars running down the sides. A purple carpet rolled down the center to a giant throne, in front of which stood Zelda herself. There was a young man knelt down before her, with three knights flanking him. It was brother.

"Miss Shira, we've been expecting you." Zelda said tersely.



Chapter 19: Mutiny

Totally surrounded, I walked slowly toward brother, who was sitting down between me and Zelda. The sun glowed over the glistening pillars of the chamber, which was partially indoors and partially on the castle’s exterior, possibly the roof though I could not tell exactly. As I got closer, Zelda began to walk toward me, her giant sword in hand.

“I knew that you would come.” Zelda said. “Because I know you. You have such a devout sense of loyalty and dedication to those close to you. Ever since I’ve known you, you have done everything in the name of your family, your friends, and for the betterment of people everywhere. In my dreams I see that you, Shira, are not driven by power, wisdom, or courage but yet you have a keen feeling for all three of those elements.” She walked over to brother, and instructed him to stand. He did, and I noticed for the first time that he was cuffed by the legs to a ball and chain.

“Your majesty, for what reason have you brought me here today?” I asked.

“Aah, but this is where you are misguided, for I have not brought you here at all. You have led yourself to me because of your caring, almost motherly qualities. Look at your brother. Here he stands, cuffed and bound by a ton of crippling iron chain, a prisoner of his own doing for charges of assisting a mongrel race that once nearly succeeded in destroying this country. It is true that we found him in the mountains carrying all sorts of food and medicinal supplies to the newly discovered bulblin settlement east of Snowpeak Province. It broke my heart to see one of my own honored dignitaries challenging my own royal decree of isolationism toward the Bulblin nation, but in my visions, I felt that it was not he who was behind the decision.”

Zelda walked forward again, and was now right in front of me. Standing face to face with the queen, her elaborate white and purple gown, her pristine facial features, her ivory white gauntlets and her polished golden shoulder armor, I found myself awestruck. “By getting to Soren first, I knew you would come here to save him. No big strong man is ever complete without his loving lady. And except in rare cases, it is the lady that controls the relationship, she is the one that uses her femininity in such a way to manipulate the male into doing whatever she pleases. I have observed your guild’s meetings, tracked your movements, and even spied on you from high above the plain in which the bulblin capital lies. It was all your doing. The building, the moving of supplies, the enlistment of hyrulian manpower to re-integrate the bulblin people with the rest of this kingdom, all of it. Your group and especially the men of your group voiced opposition to your plan, and when they did you had a chance to change course. But that didn’t happen did it? Even after I showed you again with my own powers what ruthless savages the bulblin people are, you still went against my will and felt a moral obligation to help them.”

A rush came over me. “Your majesty, I did what was right. I went and helped them because their people were dying in the snow, gravel, and ice of those mountains.”

“They were simply paying for their past transgressions against this kingdom.” Zelda said.

“They were cut off from the most basic of human needs, food, clothing, medicine, reasonable shelter, warm clothing items, everything. Our kind could not hope to endure and survive through what the bulblin have endured in that kind of chill and horrid terrain.” I said strongly.

“Shira, you do realize that the entire plan of banishing the Bulblin race was to eliminate them from our sight, from our land, for them to be somewhere else, to be somebody else’s dilemma. This Kingdom of Hyrule had already endured far too many of their dastardly deeds. Far too many of my people, including your father, had died for them to be welcomed back with open arms.” Zelda said.

“And in doing so, pushing them to the brink of starvation and extinction, you have only succeeded in driving this country to the brink of another war.” I said tersely. “King Bulblin had already made it known to us that the attacks in Hyrule Field were just the beginning, and that an all out war was near on the horizon, all because you wouldn’t act even a little bit civil toward his people in their time of desperate need.”

Zelda began to visibly frown. “Their desperate need they brought upon themselves for making the blood of the hylia flow red in the streets. Lest you forget that their alliance with the Twili nearly succeeded in sealing this land away in darkness forever.”

“For this I cannot excuse them. But your unwillingness to look toward the future and to reflect on only the past transgressions of the race has brought us to the brink of a brutal and deadly conflict. The Bulblin are strong, reliant, and rather skilled fighters. But they are capable of so much more if they are fully integrated into this kingdom. They would build our roads, our houses; they would hunt for and sell wild game in the streets of Castle Town. They would mine the mountains of the east for all sorts of minerals, ores, and precious metals.  If you need an example of an animalistic once culture considered unfit for hyrulian society, look no further than the Gorons.  Just years ago, they were all but banished from the kingdom, and now they provide many of these things to us. Have you as queen of Hyrule never considered these possibilities?”

Zelda’s answer was blunt and direct. “No I have not, and to even think in such a manner is by itself a matter of treason against this kingdom.”

“What a shame it is that war is all you know.” I took a few steps back. “In a time of peace such as this, you have not an aptitude for bringing people together, to create good in the world. You think only about punishment, and ways to spread the power of the royal family over those in the outlying regions. Because of that, I find you unfit to rule this country!” I shouted.

“What do you plan to do?” Zelda asked.

“I plan to fight you right now, for the crown of Hyrule!” I screamed.

Immediately, two Knights came up and grabbed me, and others began to swarm, but with a calm wave, Zelda got them to stand down. “The young lady wishes to fight, then a fight she shall receive. I will prepare for battle.” Zelda walked to the far side of the room and took off her crown, placing it on the throne. Her attendants flocked to her, and the Knights moved to the far corners of the room, leaving me alone on the side opposite Zelda. A sudden feeling of doom washed over me as I now realized where my sudden anger and temperament had taken me. I had asked to fight Zelda for the crown of Hyrule. What was I doing? Surely I could hold up against her sword tactics, but she also had magical powers strong enough to defeat giants. And even if I somehow were to defeat her, who knew what kind of chaos would result? Zelda rose from the throne and approached me in the center.

It was then that a solitary figure spoke up loudly. “No! I won’t stand for this!” It was brother, trying desperately to move toward the center against the weight of the iron ball and chain. “Shira! As much as I care for you and will defend you to your dying day, at this moment you have lost your way. I will not stand idly by watching you attempt to destroy the supreme ruler of this land! You will have to go through me first!”

Zelda swung backward. “Release him now!” She bellowed to her attendants. They immediately swarmed over to Soren and undid him from the iron chains. He walked quickly toward me. “A far greater authority than your own, or even that of the guild is at work here. It goes even beyond Zelda herself, to challenge for the crown would undermine the power of the goddesses and the very supernatural forces upon which all law and order exist in this kingdom! You are not a fool Shira, you know this to be true!” he shouted.

I was distraught, seeing brother yell and scream at me. “Brother, I am sorry. I have committed a very foul and heinous act here today. It was a sentence that just came out all wrong; I did not really intend to carry out its meaning. Please forgive me.”

“A lesson I must teach you, in self-respect and in loyalty to one’s superiors.” Soren said as he drew his sword from its sheath. He took several steps backward, then lunged forward and attacked me with his blade. Surprised, I just barely moved left and dodged it. The swing was not a fast one, had it been he could have severed my arm. “For that you’re going to suffer.” I said as I drew my sword and shield. He came at me again and this time I blocked the attack with my shield. He continued to drive me back across the room, until in desperation, I used a pillar to jump into the air for a parry attack. Soren blocked my attempt with his sword, and started pressing me the other way. He went for a vertical slash, and I dodged to the left. I rolled left and attempted to do a backside slash, but brother was well prepared and did a back flip to avoid it, landing on his feet.

“This is a silly exercise.” Soren said. “I make these weapons myself and I practice with them for days. You cannot defeat me like this.”

“I do not wish to hear you speak.” I said firmly. “I wish to prove you wrong!”

Soren came at me again, and this time I rolled around to the right, stopping on one knee and thrusting forward. He saw this and deked sideways, grabbing my right arm. He tried to pin my left as well but I swung my shield at him, knocking him in the head and down to the ground. I kicked him once and he rolled to get up. I pressed the advantage by swinging away several times, and the clang of our blades resonated for several seconds before he countered with a shield push. I landed on my feet about two yards back. Around me I heard the sounds of the Knights, who were clearly surprised by our sudden fight.

“Didn’t think I would hold my own, did you big brother?” I asked him teasingly.

“Your arrogance has steered you wrong!” He shouted at me. “Stop while you still can!”

I ran up to Soren again, and he blocked my swing with his shield. After a few more tries, he pushed me back with the shield again. I got the feeling that he was starting to baby me, as if he was not fighting his hardest. That made me even more upset, and I continued to press, swinging harder and harder. After a jump attack failed, I doubled back and swung for his legs. Soren countered with a jumping attack of his own, and this one caught me off guard. The wide side of his blade caught me just above the eyes. I fell down hard on my back. Soren attempted to pin me to the ground, but I rolled and avoided his move, swinging my sword again to shoo him away.

Tiredness began to seep into my arms and legs, but I knew that brother was suffering as well. My next move was an overhand smash that was blocked. He pushed back a bit with his shield. I then faked another overhand swing and then rolled straight forward and kicked Soren right in the chest. The move caught him off guard, and he fell backward five yards onto the ground. I attempted to swing and end it but he blocked my attempt. He then blocked two more sword swings before he rolled backward and to his feet. He came forward a step, and I swung low. He jumped over it, and I proceeded to go high, but Soren rolled to my right underneath the swing and struck me in the left abdomen with the sword’s handle. I doubled over in pain, and while I did so, Soren crushed my head with the front of his shield. This sent me to the ground, and my head struck the marble surface. By this time I hardly knew where I was. Soren turned me to my front side and pinned my arms with his strong muscles. Blood had begun to flow from my forehead, probably from the shield hit.

“Ow, Soren you’re squeezing way too hard! You’re going to break my arms!” I shouted.

“You had better submit, or I will break them, right here in front of the Queen.” He responded.

I had come to realize at this point, as I practically lay in a growing puddle of my own blood, that further resistance was simply futile. Brother was too strong.

“You’ve…beaten me.” I said meekly. That was the last thing I remember before passing out.



Chapter 20: Hyrule Castle Prison


I awoke in a dark place, dark, damp, and gloomy.  I lay on a cold, marble floor face down.  Pain was searing from my face and midsection as I attempted to move.  The blows that Soren had given me were purposeful.  I suppose he wanted to defeat me while dealing as little damage as possible, but underneath my tunic it was impossible to miss the bruises and scars covering many of my ribs.  It was difficult to know if any were broken. 


I looked up from the ground and saw a wooden chair in front of me.  On the seat there was a glass bottle containing an unknown liquid.  Through some difficult effort, I crawled up to the seat and grabbed the bottle, which also had a note attached to it.  Furiously, I undid the tie on the note and unfurled the paper. 


“Sister.” The note read, “I am sorry for how things turned out.  I did not wish to hurt you, but had to make the best of a bad situation, for both of our sakes.  I pleaded for them to release you, but the Queen resisted so.  She has declared you a traitor of the kingdom, and has decreed that you be held captive indefinitely.  The strange part is that Zelda has rounded up her attendants and closest aides along with some Knights and plans to meet with King Bulblin within days to discuss the continuation of our assistance to them.  It seems that our fight may have opened some eyes to our efforts.  She released me following the battle, and asked me to accompany her, but I respectfully declined, for I must tend to the armory and provide you things.  I have enclosed this red potion for you, drink it for you must be feeling much pain.  Soren.”


It was now that I turned around and took a look behind me.  Indeed, heavy iron bars surrounded me on three sides, with the marble wall behind the chair acting as the fourth side.  Moving my right leg, I also noticed that my leg was chained to a heavy iron ball not unlike the one Soren had been chained to in the throne room.  There was little doubt now that I was stuck in the depths of Hyrule Castle’s underground prison.  Who or what had brought me to this place, I had no idea, but it was honestly quite irrelevant. 


I felt better physically after drinking the potion, but emotionally I was a mess.  My mind wandered between remorse for my deciding to fight Zelda, and anger for her inability to see what was ailing the kingdom I myself had fought for during the Twilight conflict.  The worst part of it was the knowledge that I had been removed from consciousness, a mere afterthought in the fragile web of peace that was threatening to blow away. 


The time passed slowly.  There were no other prisoners in the area, though there were many other cells in the area.  Presumably there were others on the other side of the hallway as well but the hall was so dark I could not see across.  Water began to drip in from the ceiling.  It was warm and muggy in the prison, enough to make me get all sweaty and icky.  Worst of all, the smell was horrid, something between rotten cucco eggs and raw sewage waste.  I tried not to think about it as I attempted to get some sleep on the hard rocky ground. 


I awoke, maybe a few minutes or a few hours later, to the sound of a sordid man opening my cell.  “Here’s your ration of bread and water for the day.” He said, and quickly left.  I gingerly picked up some of the bread and bit into it.  It was very hard, and tasted as though it had sat in a vat of greasy oil for days.  I did my best to not gag.  The water was pretty bad too, probably from the fountain in the center of town.  After nibbling on a bit more of the bread, I threw it aside.  Several rats emerged and attempted to grab it, before realizing perhaps that it was too heavy for just two of them to carry, and left. 


Time continued to pass slowly.  I could only sleep for a few hours at a time before having to readjust myself on the cold hardness of the ground.  I tried the chair, but it was just as uncomfortable.  Before too long I began to lose track of daytime and nighttime.  I was beginning to feel sticky and dehydrated from the warmth of the chamber.  As I began to nod off again, I heard footsteps coming from the left.  I figured it was one of the guards, but much to my surprise, it was Soren. 


“Sister, how are you holding up?”  He asked.  “Did you get my potion?” 


“Uhh, yes I did and it helped.  But, how did you get in here?” I asked. 


“I know a way through the underground from the west side of town.  The guards only come through here once every two hours, so most of the time it is wide open.  The whole guild knows how to get down here now, and when the time is right we’re breaking you out of here.  Here, take these.  It’s some Ordon nuts, boiled cucco, and strawberries from Lake Hylia.  I brought another potion too.” 


Soren passed the food and drink through the bars, which I could barely reach because of the darned ball and chain around my leg.  I immediately took a piece of cucco and shoved it into my mouth; it was just about the best food I’d ever tasted.  “How do you intend on getting me out of here, and what are you waiting for?” 


“It would take some advanced weaponry to defeat the heavy iron locks on this cell.  We are developing such a device in the armory and it will be done in a few days.”


“What about the bulblin?” I asked. 


“No news yet.  We’re still waiting to hear word.” Soren responded.


“Brother, how long have I been in here?”


“Three days.  Don’t worry, before too long you’ll be rescued.  Just hang in there, I promise.”  Soren held out his hand and I grabbed it through the bars.  “I trust you brother.” I said, with a tear in my eye.  He let go, turned around, and left the dungeon.  I could hear the sloshing of water down the hall, which explained both the awful smell and humid atmosphere.  The next few days were horrible, filled with yet more hard bread and tainted water. I could feel myself just shriveling up and vegetating in that cell. Every so often the Knights would come by and insult me, call me names, even talk about some of the more impure things that they wished to do to me. One of them I recognized from the night I was traveling through Hyrule Field. They are all a bunch of chauvinistic pigs with no honor. Were it not for their kind, this kingdom would not have been on the verge of collapse during the Twilight wars.

It must have been late one night, for I was asleep on the rock hard floor when I heard commotion from down the way. A woman was screaming, and there was a lot of sloshing going on in the watery canals. A cell next to mine swung open. With a thud, the lady was shoved into the cell. “Now you stay down, you stupid slimy fish!” a man said just as he slammed the cell door. The lady, who I immediately noticed was a zora, was crying rather loudly. She had bruises and wounds on her legs and back. I moved against the chains over to the edge of my cell to get a better look in the darkness.

“Can you hear me?” I asked. “Let me see your face.”

The zora woman turned her head toward me. I immediately gasped in horror. It was Xelpruta, my dear friend from Lake Hylia. “Xelpruta! What happened to you?!” I shouted in agony.

“They came in the middle of the sunrise. Aguaro and I were in the fields on the north shore, along with your Bulblin friends. Terex met me with Pehrot and Metcla a few days previous, and they wanted help gathering the fruits of the field. We went to work. They wanted to show the others in Bulblin City what they could grow at home if they tried. They took up residence at your hut, but as we were getting back that morning, a detachment of Knights ambushed us. We fended them away for a while, but against the many of them, surrender was inevitable.”

“Oh my, why would they do that?!” I exclaimed.

“They claimed that we were assisting the enemy, the enemy being the Bulblin clan.” Xelpruta replied.

“What happened to the others?” I asked, fists clenched.

“Terex, Pehrot, and Metcla were taken prisoner, and are somewhere in this dungeon too. Aguaro, well, for injuring two of them during the ambush, the Knights had him executed.”

I could not believe what I was hearing. Warfare was being initiated against the Bulblin, and blood had been shed against Zoras. Not just any Zoras either, but one of my good friends had been killed. It was now brutally evident that war against the Bulblin was inevitable.

“Prince Ralis will not stand for this.” I said. “Word spreads along the waters quickly. He’ll pull his forces out of the Zora’s River Valley and prepare his warriors for battle.”

“He wouldn’t dare challenge the Queen.” Xelpruta whimpered.

“I think he would, if he knew that his own people were dying at the hands of the Hylian Knights.” I said.

Xelpruta did not respond. I wanted to tell her that everything was going to be okay, but in my heart I knew that was not wise. Even in a best case scenario, in which the Knights acted on their own without an order from Zelda, at the very least tensions between the Zora kingdom and the Hylian people were likely to deteriorate as a result of this. And who knows what else was transpiring across the Zora’s River valley. My mind raced as I thought of the horrifying possibilities.

Later that night, I saw Soren again. He provided me with more food and potion, of which I gave most of to Xelpruta.

“Brother, what are you doing here so late? Do you come with word from Bulblin City? Has the Queen returned?”

Soren shook his head. “Zelda returned this evening, and according to our sources, she did so without a deal with King Bulblin. It appears that war is unavoidable. The Knights are starting to mass in the streets this evening.”

“Did you find Terex, Metcla, and Pehrot?” I asked. “They were ambushed at Lake Hylia along with Xelpruta here. The Knights physically attacked them in the fields north of the lake and killed Aguaro.”

“They are down the way about three rows. It’s back closer to the entranceway from underground. If done correctly we’ll easily be able to break them out after we get you two out of here. We’re still watching to see when the initial engagement occurs based on the Knights’ movements, and while they are distracted, that’s when we’re going to strike here and clean house. Believe me, Telma, Auru, and I, we are going to have some of the most advanced weaponry known to man down here in a few days.”

“Please do it soon. I can’t take it being stuck here. I’m wasting away to nothing.” I said as I held Soren’s hand through the bars. He took a long look into my eyes, and took over down the rainy passageway back through the sewers. Xelpruta and I reached out to one another as we slunk down onto the cobblestones, too tired to think. As I felt her scaly, somewhat slimy flesh, I could only feel as though we were going to be together for a very long time.



Chapter 21:  We the Hunted


Another day slowly dragged by.  I felt sluggish and lethargic, more so that I had in my entire life.  For a mover like me, the worst part of imprisonment was the inability to get around.  As I again felt the chain attached to the iron ball which held me to the ground, I felt hopeless.  I did not know what was going to happen, or what would become of me. 


It was late in the night, I think, for I was sleeping.  The Knights came quickly, hordes of them, and bashed in the cell next to mine.  They grabbed Xelpruta and beat her with whips and chains, before carrying her out down the flooded passageway.  I shouted at them but they paid no attention.  She screamed and cried as the Knights carried out their duty and to me, those screams and cries of terror still haunt my dreams for they were not unlike other screams I had heard from other cells down the way.  Surely, surely I was next.  A strong-willed yet mildly attractive young woman like me who had defied the Queen, the Knights must be salivating over their chance to do whatever they please to me.


One of the Knights came by to drop my daily share of bread and water, which had dwindled with each passing day.  By his mere presence I knew it was getting close to noontime, for that was when they always came with the food.  A big grin crossed his face as he looked at me, perhaps as a man would size up a wild animal before moving in for the kill.  A past version of me would have been afraid, but the battles against Zant and his twilight warriors had made me strong.  These Knights were nothing compared to them.  The man laughed and started to leave, but out of the corner of my eye, I saw a bunch of shadows move in around him. 


“Who are you?”  The Knight shouted.  “How did you get in…”  The Knight was cut off by the sound of a metal thud, followed by a splash.  I then heard a voice call out to me.  “Shira!  Get away from the door!”  The voice sounded like Auru!  I immediately got up and ran toward the wooden chair opposite the door and put the chair between me and the door.  Within seconds, a whirring sound was heard in the tunnel, followed by an explosion right outside the cell door.  Debris filled the area, and dust and rock were thrown in all directions.  It was impossible to see at first but lanterns quickly swarmed in.  I saw the faces of Soren, Telma, Ashei, and Auru. 


“Shira, it’s time to leave.” Brother said.  “We must go, now!”


“But what about the chain?”  I asked. 


“Auru, if you would please.” Telma said.  Auru brandished from his pack a hammer, not unlike the one that Mother always kept handy.  The head gleamed, even in the darkness of the prison corridor.  With a mighty swing, Auru crushed the chains holding me to the iron ball. 


“It’s a diamond tipped hammer, can break through anything.” Soren said.  “I brought your sword and bow.  Let’s go.”


Instantly, we took off down the dark corridor of tunnels toward the exit.  Soren and Telma led the way with their lanterns while the rest of us slogged through the thigh deep water and looked out for incoming Knights.  We saw none, and were getting close to where Terex, Metcla, and Pehrot were being held when Soren came to an abrupt halt.  “Oh no, get down!” he suddenly yelled.  Within seconds, two bombs came roaring through the air in our general direction, before exploding just outside the cell where the bulblin trio were held.  Giant bulblin warriors came running down the corridor toward us.  They were rescuing their own, yet they nearly killed us.


“We need to turn around, there are more of them down that corridor!” Soren shouted.


“I know a way down and back to the bar from these tunnels.” Telma said.  Follow me!”


We immediately started moving quickly behind Telma, first straight ahead, then to the left.  There was still no sign of the Knights, which actually made me more nervous.  They had to have seen or heard the explosions.


“How did those bulblin get those weapons?” I asked frantically.


“It’s all the Knights’ fault!” Soren shouted.  “They invaded the weapon shop late last night when I was working on the bazookas!  They tried to capture me and take all the weapons from the shop but the bulblin followed them all the way from Hyrule Field and attacked.  They cleaned up and took all the weapons themselves.  Now we’ve got tens of bulblins poised to attack with our most advanced weaponry!”


“Oh my goodness!”  I shouted.


“The war is starting, and we’re in the middle of it.” Auru said. 


We continued to move down the corridors, but before long, we ran into a dead end.  After doubling backward three rows, we spotted a giant group of Knights amassed to the right.  They instantly started running after us through the slimy water.  “Run!” Soren shouted.


We ran and sloshed as quickly as we could.  It seemed with each passing curve we found more Knights, who took up the chase.  There must have been about twenty or so pursuing us as we moved up and to the right, back toward my cell and toward the main entrance to the prison.  Clearly, they wished to funnel us that direction, toward the castle.  We kept running, and before long, we reached the end of the sewers.  Not long after that, we raced down a lighted corridor to the entrance.  The stairs that led up into the castle itself became visible, but before we could get inside the foyer, a heavy iron gate dropped, sealing us in.  On the other side of the gate was a solitary Knight, and I immediately recognized him, the one who harassed me in Hyrule Field.  The remaining Knights moved in, we were cornered. 


“Raym!” Soren shouted.  “You dastardly fiend!  First you try to take my weapons and now you send the entire infantry after my guild!”


“Miserable Soren, I do what is necessary to protect the Kingdom from traitors like you and your sister.” Raym said with a smirk on his face. 


“You’re the traitor!”  Telma shouted.  “You acted in violation of the hyrulian crown by attacking a royal armory against the orders of the Queen!  And now the bulblin have everything!”


Raym laughed.  “It’s okay, once the insurrection is complete, we won’t have to worry about Zelda anymore.  She’ll be but a pawn once the kingdom of Hyrule falls into my clutches.  Unfortunately, you all won’t be around to see the dawn of the new order.  My loyal mercenaries here will see to that.”


Just then, the iron gate began to open again.  “What the heck?!” Raym shouted.  A young woman dressed in royal family garb stepped from around the corner and splashed poison into Raym’s face.  The young man shouted in pain as he dropped to the ground.  “Run!  This way, up the stairs!” she shouted.  It was Santha.


The Knights behind us tried to get us, and Telma, Ashei, and Auru turned back to face them in the very narrow corridor.  “Shira, Soren, we’ll fend them off!  Go now!” Telma shouted.  Soren turned to Santha as we ran up the stairs.  “There’s fighting everywhere in the streets, you’ll never make it outside!  Just down this direction to the right, there is a long winding tower with a staircase that leads up to the castle roof.  I’ll show you the way!”


The three of us ran down the passageway, which began to get dark again before long.  Before too long we reached the staircase, and from the shouts we heard behind us, it was clear that the Knights were not far behind.  We entered an archway and found the staircase.  It was a narrow staircase that was slippery and that had no guard rails.  Our destination was a doorway that seemed hundreds of feet above.  Santha pulled us aside here. 


“Rusl has released two golden cuccos up to the roof of the castle; they are waiting for you up just before the western spire.  Grab onto them and fly toward the south.  He and Shad are waiting for you with horses and you’ll speed off for Ordona.  It’s your only chance to get out of the city.”


“Wait, two cuccos?”  Soren said suddenly.  “How are you going to escape?” he asked hurriedly.


“Don’t you worry.  I’ve learned from the best.” She said, brandishing a sword and shield that she had apparently left in the room previously.  I had never seen her use a weapon before, much less a sword, for she was, up until now, the very definition of dainty and submissive.  The noise outside was getting louder.  Soren and Santha kissed one another passionately.  “Go now, before they can get you!” Santha shouted.  We immediately started climbing the stairs.  About twenty seconds later, three Knights entered the room.  Santha immediately began to fight them, swinging and evading their attacks.  We had reached the second level of the tower when Soren lit a bomb and threw it down.  The bomb exploded, sending two Knights sprawling to the ground.  From the corner of my eye, I saw Santha subdue the third with a flip kick to the head followed by a stab right to the chest.  She then made a run from the room. 


“Soren, when did you teach her to fight like that?” I asked.


“The day she agreed to date me.  It’s a thing.  Come on.”


We continued to climb up the stairs, making care not to slip and fall.  By this time, more Knights had moved into the base of the tower and were climbing after us, though they were at least three levels below.  It took a long time to reach the top room of the tower, and unfortunately for us, we still needed to climb another twenty-five feet up a flimsy scaffolding to the window exit above.  Luckily for us, the wooden pieces from arranged not at the same level, but in a staircase fashion, making movement easier.  We had gotten close to the top when the Knights came into the room and started shaking on the legs of the scaffolding in an effort to knock us down.  There were at least seven or eight of them as they eventually decided to try to cut the legs with their swords.  We were at the final jump, and Soren made the leap easily.  I was about to make the final push when the scaffold was cut down.  My legs gave out just as I leapt and I let out a giant scream.  Soren reached out and grabbed my left hand and held on as I bounced off the stone wall.  Shouts came from the floor.


“Give me your other hand Shira!  I’m not letting you fall, we’ve come too far!” Soren shouted. 


I reached out and grabbed his other hand.  In desperation the Knights below began to throw their blades at me as brother pulled me up.  I felt the handle of one hit me in the back before grazing my left leg right above my boot.  Thankfully, I was up and out onto the roof before any others could do damage.  My left arm felt like it was stretched totally out of place and blood began to stream from the cut on my leg. 


“Well, that was close.” I said.  “Let’s get out of here.” 


We walked across the red shingled roof toward the cuccos, who were about two hundred yards away on the left, just in front of the south spire.  The roof was shaped like a trapezoid, with steep sides.  Worst yet, it was raining, making the roof very slippery.  Carefully we helped one another up the shingles and onto the flat part at the top.  A cacophony of noise, including fights and even explosions filled the streets below us.  Indeed looking down toward Castle Town, it looked as though a fill out battle had erupted.  Brother and I were almost to the cuccos when unbelievably, four Knights appeared from the south spire’s roof window.  They quickly began to climb the steep section of roof toward us. 


“Looks like we’re not done here yet!” Soren shouted.  “Take them out, sis!”


Instinctively, I drew my bow.  The first shot was perfect, right between the ribs.  The Knight fell straight to the roof surface.  The second shot was again true, piercing the second Knight right in the neck.  He fell backward onto the steep section and plummeted toward his demise.  I was able to get off one more shot before the Knights got close, and it missed to the right.  Soren ran out to meet them, swinging for their legs.  His shot was true, and swept one of the Knights onto his back.  The other dodged though, and pushed Soren to the ground.  He scrambled to steady himself on the rainy shingles.  I moved forward and confronted the standing foe, and he swung at my head.  I ducked and poked at his midsection.  The blow connected, and he hunched over, enough for Soren to bring his blade down on his head from behind, knocking him out.  The other Knight got to his feet and swung from behind on brother.  I immediately moved forward and blocked the shot with my blade.  He attempted to overpower me but I rolled around him after three clangs, forcing the Knight to fight in two directions as Soren steadied himself.  We immediately pressed the advantage, Soren swinging high, I low.  Soren’s shot connected near the shoulder and I backed off, allowing brother to punch him thrice in the face, knocking him out. 


“Now we’re done.”  Soren said, as he grabbed the two golden cuccos.  “But, somehow I wish we could stay here and fight this thing out all the way.”


“There’s no sense in bloodshed against our fellow countrymen.” I said.  “Rightly or wrongly, we have to let fate and the powers of the goddesses settle this.” 


“I sure wish I could fly like Din and Nayru.”  Soren said as the feathers began to fly.



Chapter 22: The Hero Re-Emerges

The visibility was poor as we fell down from the skies over Castle Town, but I could not help but notice the chaos unfolding beneath our feet. There were people running everywhere, explosions, and sounds of fighting all over the city, mostly in the eastern and central quadrants. The most troubling part about it was, not all the fighting was Bulblin induced, for there was little sign of the smallish yet sturdy green attackers in the area around the fountain. Instead, it was normal hylians, pushing, shoving their way through the streets.

The flight was extremely long, over a mile in length from the roof of the castle to the southern archway leading out of town into Hyrule Field. We didn’t quite make it to the arch, and veered off from the main road to land on a roof about two blocks north of the exit. The southern tier of town wasn’t quite as dangerous, but there were people out and about with their weapons in sight. The scary thing was, we did not know who was on whose side, or if anybody even knew what was going on. We looked for Rusl and Shad, and spotted them just beyond the giant staircase that leads downward from the South Road into Hyrule Field. In an effort to avoid unruly folks, Soren and I hopped across the rooftops for a block, and then flew down onto a relatively deserted side street. We then ran as quickly as we could past the few remaining buildings and out into the grass of Hyrule Field. Rusl and Shad spotted us and rode over quickly. We quickly mounted and sped out of the city.

“You two are absolutely mad, fighting each other in front of the Queen.” Shad said. “We had to sacrifice three of our guild in order to get you out of harm’s way.”

“Were it not for Soren’s lady pleading us to be the inside plant, I am not sure the plan would have succeeded. But it did, and that is all that matters.” Rusl said. “We’ll have to regroup once we arrive back in Ordona Province.”

“What happened in there?” Shad asked.

“They rescued me from the cell, and then the Knights and the Bulblin both arrived and came after us.” I said. “They forced us away from the exits and back toward the castle through the darkest of the sewer tunnels. We made it through to the castle entrance where Raym tried to block us, but Santha arrived, knocked him unconscious and led us up one of the towers. We got to the roof from there and the golden cuccos helped us get down.”

“What happened to Telma, Ashei, and Auru?” Rusl asked.

“They fended off the chasing Knights while we escaped. We are not sure what became of them.”

“That’s not good. In fact, that really isn’t good. They could be injured from the fight, or perhaps even mortally wounded.” Shad said.

“Oh Shad, please try not to worry too much. Ashei and Auru are the two best warriors in our guild and they could defeat any Knights that come into their path.” Rusl said.

“But could they defeat a whole squadron? That seems doubtful to me.” Shad said. “And if they and Santha were unable to escape, they could be seen as enemies of the kingdom and held captive or perhaps even executed.”

“Zelda has bigger issues to deal with at this point in time.” Soren responded. “The Bulblin are wreaking havoc in the center of Castle Town and Raym is trying to lead a coup against her by getting his most loyal units of Knights to turn against the royal family. Although it does not seem like it to many, we are on the side of the royal family and Raym understands that. He had this all planned out from the start, that he would align himself with the Bulblin and persuade them to interrupt trade and commerce throughout Hyrule and through attacks in the field, turn the general populace against the Queen.”

“So this Raym character was hoping for Zelda to instigate all out warfare against the Bulblin, and then turn the Knights against her in the midst of the conflict! And our effort was acting in defiance of that prophecy! That’s why he tried to subjugate me that night in Hyrule Field!” I shouted.

“The attack on the armory was a major aspect of his plan, but it failed because the Bulblin double-crossed him.” Soren replied. They were using Raym as a pawn in their master plan, to gain access to all high-level hylian technology, including weapons and warfare in the event that our aid effort failed. They got close enough to the Knights to lull them into thinking that they were secure in their alliance, and then broke them off in one shot. And yet Raym still thinks the Bulblin are on his side, which proves the incompetence of the Knights’ leadership.”

“If this is all true, then it is likely that our three comrades are in grave danger. They are probably in the Knights’ hands, the only question is the loyalty of those Knights of Hyrule.” Shad said.

“Then what are we doing? We need to get back into Castle Town and save them!” I shouted.

“Negative.” Rusl said. “It’s far too dangerous there, plus the Knights and the Queen are both expecting you to make a quick return, you would fall right into their clutches without fail. Our only chance is to get out of harm’s way and to regroup. You survived almost two weeks in that awful prison, I am certain that Telma and the others can fend for a few days.”

“We will discuss this further when we get to Ordona. Rusl, let’s pick up the pace!” Shad said.

The four of us rode all throughout the afternoon and into the evening, crossing over the border into Faron Province about an hour before sunset. The temperature rose as we moved southward, which seemed strange given the descent of nightfall, but it was quite soothing after moving out of the cloudy, misty shroud of doom over Castle Town. The four of us set up camp next to Faron Spring and sat down to a meal of Faron fruits and fresh milk. It was the first time since my being detained that I had a taste of either. Though I am not the daintiest maiden in Hyrule I had begun to feel somewhat polluted and moldy from spending so much time in the damp and dark tunnels beneath Hyrule Castle. My skin felt slimy and cold to the touch and my hair was wrinkly and course, a real mess of oil and dirt. The food, as well as time in the Faron Spring, made me feel somewhat proper again.

The next morning we completed the trip through Faron Woods across the North Ordon Bridge and down into Ordon Village. Upon reaching the village, we were met by the village’s mayor, Bo, and his daughter Ilia, at their home on the village’s south side. Their home was made of wood but was otherwise quite similar to that of our home in Castle Town, a two story split level with beds along the walls and open space in the center. On the ground in the center was a raised platform, of which purpose I could not discern.

“Bo, this is Soren and Shira, the ones responsible for the defeat of Zerobaum.”

Bo bowed his head, as did Ilia. “Well I say, it is a pleasure to have you both in my home. I understand that things have gotten somewhat heated in Castle Town have they not? I beg you, please tell me your plight.”

Soren went ahead. “Mayor Bo, it is a strange battle of alliances. It all started when our guild, along with our allies in Castle Town decided to aid the Bulblins, who had been banished into the mountains and were starving to death.”

Bo was puzzled. “For why did you wish to help them, the ones that caused so much pain?”

“The Bulblin were desperate.” I said. “The policies of the royal family were unnecessarily harsh, causing them to conduct raids against traders and merchants throughout eastern Lanayru Province, including Zora’s Domain and Hyrule Field. We felt as a body that another war was inevitable without our intervention.”

“Rusl told me that you were imprisoned by the Queen. Is that true?” Ilia asked.

“It is true. Things, they got out of control.” I said, grasping for words. Ilia clearly was hoping to hear more, but before I could stumble further, brother picked me up. “We discovered during Shira’s imprisonment that a regiment of Hylian Knights had betrayed the Queen. These Knights, led by a sworn commander named Raym, intended to sit back and wait for war between the Hylians and Bulblin, and then turn on Zelda, forcing her from the throne, or at the very least to make an evil-hearted wish upon the Triforce against them.”

“Why would the betraying Knights wish for that?” Bo asked. “They could be killed.”

“Perhaps.” Shad said. “But in completing the wish, the power of the Triforce would likely consume Zelda, turning her into an evil puppet of its golden power. This is precisely the type of situation that befell the Evil King Ganondorf several years ago, and the evil wizard Agahnim years before him. The Triforce is extremely powerful, and has the ability to warp minds once its power has been called upon. It takes a truly righteous individual to effectively utilize it.”

“So by inflicting the events that would provoke war, the conspiring Knights were hoping to make Zelda desperate, and become their evil pawn through an evil wish upon the Triforce?” Ilia asked. “That is downright cruel and horrible.”

Soren responded. “Raym attempted to set off his master plan by taking over a royal armory attached to my weaponry shop two nights past. However, he was double crossed by the Bulblin, whose king personally arrived in surprise to take the weapons for themselves. I and my fellow sword smiths fought hard before making a hasty escape out the back. The next day we attacked the castle prison in order to free Shira, but the plan was compromised by the sudden fighting that descended upon the city. We were chased back into the castle, where my lady, Santha, knocked Raym unconscious and led us up a dangerous stairwell to the roof of Hyrule Castle. The others are still unaccounted for, they told us to run while they fended off the remaining Knights.”

“This is all so serious and grave.” Bo said. “What is it that you want from us? Convey your needs to us and we will do whatever we can.”

“We fear that Telma, Ashei, Auru, and Santha are in grave danger. Even if they somehow escaped from the castle prison, they are probably somewhat scattered amid the fighting in Castle Town. We need to save them and warn Zelda of the threat that Raym poses to her! The whole peace and sovereignty of the kingdom could depend on it!” I said with authority.

Just then, the front door of the house swung open. We all swung around to see what the noise was. A familiar face dressed in green emerged from the light of the day.

“Well then, it is time to fight again.” Link said.



Chapter 23:  Storm Clouds


“So you can split the apple on top of the target?” Ilia asked. 


“I know it to be true.” I answered. 

“Show me, I want to see you do it!”  Beth said.  “Yes, I wanna see!” Colin quickly said.


“Okay.” I said.  There was a bit of a breeze as I took out my bow and readied.  Ilia placed the apple on top of the target about thirty yards away.  I aimed and shot the arrow.  It passed close to the fruit but deflected off the top rung of the target inches below it.  I tried to look resolute but inside I was unhappy.


“That was close.  Link can do it.  I’ve seen him do it many times.” Beth said. 


Soren handed me another arrow.  “You’ll get it this time, sis.” He said. 


On the second attempt, I nailed it, right down the center.  The small crowd let out some cheers as I replaced my bow.  “That was great.” Beth said.  “You should try to shoot one off of Ilia’s head.”  Colin said excitedly. 


“Colin!  There’s no way I’m letting anybody do that, not even Link!” Ilia shouted. 


“But Link never misses.” Colin bemoaned.


Soren interrupted.  “I see them.  He’s on his way back now.”  Two minutes later, Link came riding into the clearing, aboard his loyal steed Epona. 


“It is done.” Link said.  “Not only will the Gorons be joining us, but the Zoras will be as well.”


“The Zoras?” Rusl asked.  “How did you get all the way to Zora’s Domain in that short of time?”


“I did no such thing.” Link said.  “I went to Death Mountain as planned to meet with Darbus, and little did I know that he and Ralis had a meeting several days earlier in Kakariko Village.  Darbus confided to me that several Zora were taken prisoner and killed by a group of rogue Knights about two weeks past.  For that, Ralis says that he is readying his forces for an attack against the Knights as retribution.  Darbus told me that the gorons were in no position to get involved but would provide equipment to the Zoras, but once he heard our plight, he has decided to call his forces into action in return for our saving him from the evil power of Fyrus years ago.”


There were cheers in the meadow.  “So the gorons will help us then?” Bo asked. 


“They will come from the west, linking up with the Zoras just outside the west gate as they come down the river from the north.  Darbus and Ralis will lead their force.  Bo and I will lead our group.  We will come from the south, and make our way toward the central fountain, until we link with their forces under the cover of night.  The goal is to find Zelda, quell the violence in Castle Town, and to seek out those seeking to betray the royal family.  My hope is that this movement will not come against a large amount of resistance, but if it does, we must reach the Castle and Zelda through any means necessary.”  Link said gravely.


“What if it turns out that the betrayal has already occurred?” Shad asked. 


“If that is the case, then all of us should be prepared to seize the city and the castle by force, and to save Zelda without fail. We depart in one day’s time.”


It did not come as a surprise to me that the Gorons had decided to help us.  It was not long ago that they themselves found themselves on the receiving end of a social and economic blockade from the hylian people.  A series of fights over food and living space in the streets of Kakariko had prompted the locals there to expel the gorons from the village, a move that was fully supported by the royal family.  Though the situation was eventually remedied shortly after the clearing of twilight rule from Eldin Province, it had a lot of parallels to the current situation with the Bulblin.  The Gorons were strong bodied and strong willed, and provided much of the hard physical labor and raw materials that the kingdom depended on every day.  With a little forward thinking, the Bulblin could become their equal in Hyrulian society. 


The sunrise came over Ordona Province early on the first of July.  Four days had passed since Soren and I had escaped from the depths of Hyrule Castle.  We still did not know what had become of our friends, but we were not long from finding out.  It would be a day’s journey across Ordona, Faron, and southern Lanayru Province, and at the end we would enter Castle Town under the cover of night.  The threat of danger was high.  We were to stay together no matter what. 


“Brother, what do you think we’ll find in Castle Town?” I asked. 


“Shira, honestly I don’t know what we’ll see.  The city could be in total disarray, or it could be fully under control.  It all depends on whether Zelda did anything to stop the fighting.”


“But could she?” I asked.  “What if a majority of the Knights turned against her?” 


“I think that is unlikely.” Soren responded.  “I know a lot of Knights personally, and very few would ever think of doing what Raym and his underlings are doing.  Once we move into the city and unearth them for the wizzrobes they are, they will be made example of.”


My uncertainties were getting the better of me once again.  I wanted to believe brother, and to trust Link, but something told me that we were walking into a trap, just waiting to be sprung upon us all.  The strange thing was I knew that the Knights were spineless and weak, easy to surrender in the heat of battle.  For that reason, I suspected that Raym had something hidden from view, a dastardly secret strong enough to plunge the kingdom into darkness. 


The day was very hot, but as we moved out of Faron Woods into the plains of Lanayru, storm clouds began to gather.  A brutal thunderstorm broke over us at about half past sixteen.  Cracks of thunder and flashes of lightning filled the skies.  Soren did his best to steady the horse as the downpour turned the dry grasslands into a mess of standing water.  My tunic became inundated with water from not only the rain but from the splashing mud puddles.  The visibility was extremely poor for about an hour or so when the rain finally relented and the sun arrived back into view.  Thanks to Link’s excellent orienteering, we were still directly on course.


In our plans, we outlined Wildflower Pass, a narrow passageway through the steep plateaus about thirty miles south of Castle Town, as the first potential for danger.  But the path was devoid of any sign of life.  We stopped here to water the horses, to eat and to rest for a spell.  Our plan was to wait there until sunset before continuing, to ensure that we would reach the city after darkness had descended onto the landscape.


“I just hope Ashei, Telma, and Auru are okay.” I said. 


“Sister, we’re going to bring them out of harm’s way.  Don’t you worry.” Soren replied.  His confidence was very reassuring for in situations like these he is often guarded.  Either he was not seeing the seeming darkness waiting for us in Castle Town, or I was being overly dramatic.  We would find out in a few short hours. 


Twilight descended onto Hyrule Field as we moved north from the pass.  We could see the spires of the castle in the distance as the sun set.  The sky lit up in a dashing palette of orange, red, pink, and purple.  Before long though, another dash of gray, then black began to creep in from the west.  About ten miles from town, we passed a group of Bulblin on horseback.  Not wanting to engage them in any way, we paid no attention to them.  They did not respond, but seemed to give us their undivided attention as we went past.  It was very strange to say the least. 


We rode another three miles or so, and then we passed another group, this one bigger than the last.  They noticed us, and stared at us as we went past.  Then two miles later, a third group that did the same thing.  All the while the storm clouds continued to gather, the temperature dropped, and the wind began to whip around in all directions.  We rode in solitude for the next two miles, putting us to within a mile or so of the south gate.  That’s when the bulblin appeared again, a long line of them on both sides of the trail.  They just stood there, like statues, eyeballing us as we galloped by.  A torrent of thunder and lightning again lit up the skies.  My nervousness was now advancing to outright fear.  Why were the bulblin in the field, in such great numbers, seemingly to surround us but otherwise not recognizing the world around them?  It felt as though we were charging directly into the mouth of the dragon.


The four of us, Shad, Rusl, Soren, and I, had ridden over 100 miles from Ordona Province, and were now enveloped in a driving rainstorm surrounded by bulblin standing five deep on either side of the trail.  Thunder and lightning continued to cackle as we reached the south stairs leading into Castle Town.  On the pedestal at the front of the stairs was King Bulblin. 


“We meet again, honorable ones.” King Bulblin said. 


“What is the meaning of this?” Soren asked.  “All of your people out here, just standing here in a driving rainstorm?”


“Ah, but we are hearty fellows dear Soren.  A little water never bothered us.” King Bulblin replied.  “After all, we are here to obtain what we have sought for so long, and we won’t leave until we get it.” 


“You want the things that we provided to you, food, clothes, shelter, yes?” I asked. 


“I cannot express to you enough what your guild’s generosity meant to us.  When the supreme rulers of this kingdom gave us a death sentence, your sense of courage and righteousness broke through the darkness of the past.  But we were also looking for a sense of purpose in this kingdom.  The Zora protect the waterways and ensure commerce between regions.  The Gorons mine the raw materials merchants and craftsman need to create goods.  The Ordona people plant the fields and create the wholesome foods that the hyrulian people indulge in every day.  We needed to stake out a role for ourselves.”


“And what is that?” Soren asked. 


“We are going to be the builders and engineers of a new, modern Hyrule.  We are going to bring modern, stone and iron buildings like that of Castle Town all over the countryside.  The roads will be paved.  Someday we will harness the power of the wheel and create mechanisms to automatically take us around the world much quicker than any horse.  This country will be stronger than any in the world because of our strength and creative thought.  But we cannot achieve these goals or even begin to work on them under the shroud of regressive leadership of Queen Zelda.  So I have a proposal to make.”


“Go on.” I said nervously.


“I understand that three of your friends are in trouble, the ones that helped you escape from the dungeon of the castle three days previous.  I found them in the tunnels yesterday, they are alive and well.  With their help, I and several of my henchmen cleared the remaining Knights from the area and sealed off one of the tunnels.  You’ll find them in the basement of the Malo Mart on the west side of town.  They probably haven’t had much to eat the last few days, so I would hurry.”


Our faces lit up.  “That is great news.” Soren said.  “We cannot thank you enough.” I repeated.


“In return, I wish you to bring Zelda to me.” The King said coldly.


Silence fell over the field, broken only by the intermittent claps of thunder.  Soren and I looked into each other’s eyes.  We both knew what the other was thinking. 


“You dastardly fiend!”  Soren shouted.  “You tricked us!” 


“You may have been truthful when you said you needed supplies and our help to build your city but Zelda was right.  Your ultimate goal was to take over the kingdom and turn it into a backwoods of ugly buildings and poverty!  We will not be an accessory to your insidious plot!”


“Oh Shira, why the anger?” King Bulblin replied. “I have it on good information that just several weeks ago you threatened to fight Zelda yourself for the crown over many of the same problems that I have with the royal family.  Now I’m giving you my support to topple her, once and for all.  Just imagine you, Queen of Hyrule.  Your father would have been so proud.”


“My father would never stand for such treachery.”  Queen Zelda may be vindictive, cruel, and blinded with power at times, but you are far worse.  Neither she nor any other members of the royal family have ever resorted to senseless killing of innocent citizens like you have!” I shouted.


“Just take a look around.” Soren said.  “You have hundreds, possibly thousands of your people standing out here in the midst of a great storm.  If you’ve come to attack our city, then you’ll have to go through us first.”


“So now the truth comes out.”  King Bulblin said blankly.  He paused for a moment, his facial expression visibly changed.  He seemed a bit confused, and consulted with his advisors for a minute before continuing.  “You may pass into the city to your friends.  But let it be known that that your time is running out.”


He moved to the side, as did the bulblin standing all around the entranceway.  After a brief moment of strange glances, the four of us passed into the city. 



Chapter 24:  The Battle for Castle Town


It was difficult to navigate the South Road because of the conglomerate of rock, wood, and garbage that had been strewn about in the fighting.  Up ahead, we saw a group of Knights blocking the way north.  We kept our wits about us as we turned west toward Telma’s Bar, which was not far from our rendezvous point with Ralis, Darbus and their combined Goron/Zora infantry.  The rainy weather was actually helping our cause, as it meant that few were on the streets in the cold, windswept darkness. 


Upon reaching Telma’s Bar, Rusl noticed a piece of parchment on the door.  “It reads, this is the sacred ground of the freedom fighters.  Only true defenders of the royal family and true believers in the Triforce may pass.”  He attempted to open the door, but it was bolted shut.


“Keep your wits about you.” Soren said just before he kicked in the door. The interior was dark, so we took our lanterns out.  There was some initial noise, but to our surprise it was not enemy activity.  Rather Darbus, the leader of the Gorons, and Ralis, King of the Zoras, were standing by the map table in the back of the room right next to two Knights. 


“Rusl, Shad, Soren, and Shira, it is good to see you.” One of the Knights said.  “We must proceed to the appointed place quickly.”  The eight of us moved quickly out the end of the bar and into the tunnel the led from the basement.  The Knights led us northward for several minutes, before we came to a dead end.  They took out some bombs, lit them, and watched as they exploded, exposing a new pathway.  It wasn’t long before we saw Ashei, Auru, and Telma.  They were huddled with their weapons and packs strewn about, clearly cold, hungry, and miserable from spending nearly four long days in the underground. 


“Am I ever glad to see you hon.” Telma told Shad as the latter handed her a bag of Ordon nuts. 

Auru was resolute as he took some smoked cucco from Soren.  “It’s been too darn long down in these parts.  I wasn’t sure we’d ever see the light of day again.”


“That’s how I felt.”  I said as I handed Ashei some food.  “Now we know exactly what you were going through Shira, minus the cell and chain yea.” she responded as she gathered her sword and shield.  One of the Knights who had directed us spoke to us.  “The time of battle is close at hand.  We must reach our rendezvous point.”  We all endured about ten more minutes of slogging through the dark, slimy, and cold sewers before coming to what appeared to be a dead end.  It was at this moment that Ralis turned to Darbus, and the latter curled up into a ball and jumped into the air before pounding the ground on the way down.  The ground shook for a moment before a giant staircase revealed itself.  “So this is the way forward yea?” Ashei asked.  Ralis nodded.  We all passed up the stairs, which led into the outer lawn of Hyrule Castle.  Already, a large group of Knights, Gorons, Zoras, and Hylians were gathered around the front door of the castle.  Over the din, I could hear the voice of Queen Zelda.  Surprisingly, the driving rain from earlier had ceased to just a drizzle.


“And so, ladies and gentlemen of the kingdom.” She bellowed. “Let it be that on this night, by the power of the sacred goddesses Din, Nayru, and Farore, we will defeat those that have betrayed us and we will do so right here in Castle Town.  The attack will be swift and sudden, and will catch them in their sleep.  I humble pray that our plan will work effectively and will result in the least possible resistance and loss of life.  Remember, Knights you are to guide the force on the front line, and will seek out the traitors in the very houses in which they keep.  The Gorons will provide assistance to you.  The Hylian infantry will back you up, as will the Zoras.”


Zelda paused for a moment.  She looked out into the crowd in our direction.  Immediately, she moved away from the front door and over toward us.  Instantly my stomach began to turn.  What did she intend to do?  The crowd cleared a path for the Queen, who curtseyed in front of us.


“It appears that I was wrong about you and your guild.” Zelda said.  “You were right all along.  All the Bulblin ever wanted was food, warmth, and the ability to live peacefully.  My eyes were blind to their plight.  In my want to protect the kingdom at all costs I was unnecessarily coldhearted, and I feel deep remorse for having declared you to be enemies of the kingdom.”  She reached out to me, and the rest of the guild all held hands around us in a circle.  “Tonight, I vow to take responsibility for my mistakes, for after we defeat Raym and his evil followers, I will make peace with the Bulblin nation and seek to build a deep, long lasting alliance with their King.  It will be the beginning of a new, forward future for Hyrule.”


“Your majesty, I do not believe King Bulblin wishes to befriend you any longer.” Soren said.  “In fact I believe he intends to attack very soon.  A large regiment of Bulblin is out in Hyrule Field now, lying in wait for the outcome of our fight with Raym.”


“Is this true?” Zelda asked me, her gloved hands covering my right hand in their silky texture.


“I believe it to be so.  But if they do attack, we brought our secret weapon.” I said, pointing with my left hand toward the tunnel we climbed out of.  Zelda and the others turned around, and from out of the hole came the Hero of Twilight. 


“Give us the power to revolutionize Hyrule, again!” Link shouted.  The crowd went crazy all around us, screaming and shouting as loud as they could. 


The time had come.  Our primary target was on the southeast side of town, a series of largely abandoned buildings that Zelda believed to be a base of operations for Raym’s followers.  The Knights and the Gorons led at the front, while the remaining Hylians and Zoras were in the back.  As we got closer to the target, much of the infantry was instructed to enter the houses and businesses around us.  Their goal was to use arrows to hunt down any enemies out in the open.  About a block away from the target of buildings Soren and I were instructed to enter a house on a street corner.  It was a two-story home not all that dissimilar from our own, and the residents had been told to leave early in the afternoon.  We swore that we would try not to break anything, but given the ferocious winds of the evening, even that would be difficult.  Lightning began to crackle across the sky again as well. 


From our perch, we heard Zelda giving out final orders when all of a sudden, a barrage of arrows came out from ahead.  Soren and I hit the ground, and a few seconds later several arrows came into the house, one of them shattering a glass on the table.  I could hear the rumbling of the gorons rolling toward their target several seconds later.  Once I got back to my perch I could see Darbus leading the group, bashing in the doors of buildings and cracking the windows.  Several of them were shot by arrows but other gorons got to their armored targets, and made quick work of them with their punches and overall physicality. 


From two streets ahead, I could see large numbers of enemy Knights moving forward, perhaps in an attempt to surround the Gorons.  But by this time, our Knights had moved ahead to stop them.  And thus the main battle began, stretching from the south road to three blocks east, a quarter mile long front of swords, armor, sweat and blood.  It was a line unpolished grayish green plating of our enemies against the bright silver of the loyal infantry.   Before long, the fighting spread into buildings, into backyards, and into alleys.  We were still seeing arrows flung our direction, but they were few and far between after the initial push by the gorons.


I arose from my perch, looking for a willing target.  Finding one, I pulled the bow back, aimed through the darkness and shot.  The arrow zoomed through the night and tagged the traitor on the back of the neck.  He crumpled to the ground quickly.  Without thinking, I saw another.  Again, the arrow pierced the night sky and caught the target, this time in the butt.  It was not my intended landing spot, but on such a windy evening as this, it is difficult just to reach the target.  Indeed, my next two shots were wayward, missing high and to the left both times.  Soren attempted two shots but was not true on either, in fact he nearly caught a friendly zora in the gills with the second shot.  He put his bow away and pulled out his telescope, using it to focus in on the battle.  As I hit with my fifth shot, I noticed a fiery look of anger come across brother’s face.  He pointed out the window toward the street.


“There he is!  Down there, to the right one block on the South Road!  It’s Raym!”


“It is!”  I shouted, noting his unmistakable shaggy hair and darkened skin.  “But why is he alone?  And why does he have somebody on his back?”


Soren froze for a moment, his mind intense in thought.  Then he made a dash for the stairs. 


“Wait up brother!  Don’t leave me here alone!”  I shouted. 


Soren ran with an animalistic gait.  Amid the fighting, he tore off down the South Road toward Raym.  Try as I might, I could not keep up, for my feminine legs were unable to sustain such a murderous pace.  It did not take him long to catch up with Raym, and about three blocks north of the South Gate, he was nearly there.  Amid the sprint, the sky opened once again, dropping rain on us as the thunder clapped louder than it had all night.


Sensing that Soren was near, I saw Raym pull off to the left against a tree.  Soren immediately confronted him.  I was too far away to hear their conversation at first, but I did notice Raym grab his subject and hold her in front of him.  It was Santha!  Soren threw out some threatening remarks but Raym held out a knife against Santha’s neck.  He was holding her hostage!  Seeing this, I quickly slunk backward into the shadows of a nearby building.


“Come on Raym, you don’t have to do this!” I heard Soren shout.  “Just leave her here and you can run to your Bulblin friends at the South Gate.  That way nobody gets hurt!”


Raym laughed.  “I don’t take kindly to threats.  And I certainly don’t take kindly to those that think they can bite their thumb at me.  You see, this treacherous harlot of yours injured me, right in front of my own followers without warning.  I’ve been looking forward to this for days.”


Without thinking, I grabbed my bow and aimed.  It would be a difficult shot, through rain, wind, and to a concealed target.  Santha covered much of Raym’s body, so any miss would likely be deadly.  My heart pounded hard from the running, and my fingers were slippery.


“I’m warning you now, let her go.  You have half of the city hunting for your sorry hide!  Your only chance is to go now.  Don’t make me think I won’t drag you straight to Zelda myself!”


“At this point it doesn’t matter.  I will have my revenge on both of you!” Raym bellowed as he moved the knife to plunge into Santha’s neck.


I let the arrow go.  It flew through the air and just grazed Raym’s hair, striking the tree.  Raym shook his head a split second, wondering what had happened.  Soren attempted to move forward to free Santha, but he slipped and fell on the wet cobblestones.  I immediately reached into my quiver but it was empty.  My heart sank.  Soren staggered to his knees. 


“Ha ha!” Raym shouted.  “Look at the honorable Soren now, face down in a puddle of filth with his lady about to die a painful death.  You’ll remember this night as the one in which the great Raym won back his innocence!”


He again went to stab Santha, but at that moment, lightning split the sky and struck the tree.  A massive explosion of light, sound, and sparks erupted right in front of my eyes.  My eardrums felt as though they were shattered.  When the light dispersed, the tree’s branches were on fire, and Raym, Santha, and Soren were all on the ground.  I ran over as quick as I could, narrowly avoiding falling.  My heart was in my throat. 


“Brother, brother are you okay!” I shouted as loud as I could.  Soren raised his arm slowly and got to his knees.  “Ah, oh, where am I?” He asked.  I left him and went for Santha and Raym.  Both were totally lifeless.  I checked their pulses, and neither was responsive.  By this time, Soren had come around a bit, and had crawled toward Santha.  Burns and scars covered parts of his face and arms, and his tunic was in tatters. 


“Is she okay?” Soren asked.


“Brother, I’m sorry.  She’s dead.”  I uttered, no doubt the saddest words I had ever spoken.


Soren collapsed into a heap, crying, bawling his eyes out.  I looked down at the fallen Raym, and then to Santha, as tears streamed down my face.



Chapter 25: Bulblin Overlord


“Lightning struck a tree and caused their deaths?”  One of the Knights asked.


“Look at the burns all over their bodies.” A zora said.  “I couldn’t think of a worse fate.” 


“Zelda and Link will be pleased to know that the enemy leader is deceased.  The resistance should fade fairly soon.”  Another Knight said. 


Soren attempted to remain resolute in the darkness, but his emotions had rendered him a physical shell with a core of raw anger.  He wished to run straight for the front lines and slice some enemies to bits.  My initial attempts to dissuade him fell on deaf ears.  Figuring there was no use, I agreed to a compromise.  We sought out the remainder of the guild, and we made a run straight toward the south end of the front line.  Ashei, Auru, and Rusl brandished their swords along with us while Telma and Shad carried supplies and medicines.


“Just promise me that you’ll stay with us and not do anything you might regret.” I pleaded. 


Soren nodded his acceptance, and we charged directly in behind a group of gorons.  Soren swung his blade quickly at two enemies, and dropped them instantly.  I managed well with another enemy knight, working to disarm him with a well timed upward slash.  I felt the presence of another enemy behind me, but Rusl and Auru took care of him quickly, tripping him up and then knocking him out with a team throw to the ground.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Ashei jump off of an abandoned wagon and dropkick one enemy while stabbing the other in the chest.  Her prowess never ceased to amaze me.  While I was arguably scared in my encounter with brother, facing Ashei in a fight would certainly be the end of me.  She was just too hardened, too talented, and too disciplined. 


“You all know that your leader’s dead right?!”  Soren shouted as he performed a shield attack against another enemy.  “You should all go home while you can.”


“Press them from the left!” a zora’s voice said.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw it was Ralis, who fired several fin-shaped boomerangs at the adversaries.  “Drive them backward to the north!”  Taking his advice, a group of Hylians and Knights moved further south, around the end of the line of defense.  By now brother had taken two good shots from the enemy, and he was bruised on his right arm, but he kept on fighting.  The good news for us was that the enemy did not have hardly any armor or defensive weaponry remaining after the initial surge by the Gorons and the Knights of Hyrule.  Better yet, reinforcements of Zoras and Hylians arrived to allow us to rest a spell.  With our greater weapons and mobility, as well as collective fighting spirit as a guild, we covered for each other and helped push back the traitors until when, about an hour or so after we initially ran into the lines, they retreated backward rather quickly.  Ralis called for us to give chase, and in doing so we linked up with Darbus’s goron force, which had actually broken through the front lines in the initial attack and circled back from the east.  Pressed by the Zoras and Hylians in the south, the Gorons in the east, Zelda and Link’s royal troops in the west, and with the walls of Hyrule Castle sealing off any potential exit to the north, the traitors were surrounded.  With nowhere to go, they opted to surrender.


“Be gone to the sewers, all of you.  You have neither the honor nor the virtue with which to live in this world of light.” Link said.


“Loyal Knights, see to it as commanded!” Zelda shouted.  Within minutes, two entrances to the sewers in the area were opened, and the Queen’s royal infantry began to lead the surrendering fighters into the abyss of the underground prison.  Cheers broke out all over the city, not only from the soldiers around us but also from the citizens that had crawled out from within their houses.  Even though it was three hours into the morning and the rain was incessant, it was a moment of solidarity in a city that over the years has had very little of it. 


About half an hour later, everybody began to head back toward Hyrule Castle.  We reached   Reminded of the Bulblin presence, Zelda and Link decided to keep everybody on alert.  After a long night of fighting and a long day of riding before it, we wished to soothe our weariness.  As we were about to find out, that time would be a long time coming. 


About half past five, an alert was sent forth from the towers of the castle.  Trebuchets were located in Hyrule Field to the west and north of the city, along with hundreds, maybe thousands of Bulblin troops.  This was in addition to the group we rode past on the way to the city, which was likely at least a thousand or so, perhaps greater.   They would far outnumber our combined force of zoras, gorons, and hylians. 


“What do we do?” Ralis asked Link.


“We put Knights at every entranceway to the city, and tell the citizenry to stay inside to avoid flying objects from the trebuchets.”


“The Gorons will back up the Knights.” Darbus said convincingly. 


“We’ll deal with the Bulblin the same way we dealt with the traitor Knights.  We’ll put our biggest and most heavily armored units at the front, and then the lighter and faster zoras and hylians will lie in wait.  There may be more of them than us, but there are only a few ways to get inside the walls of the city.  In those tight spaces, numbers do not matter.  We will be able to overwhelm their smallish frames with ease.” Zelda said. 


“Shall we send out the troops?” Link asked. 


“Yes.  The Bulblin may think they can catch us tired and sore, but they are also pitiful.  If it is a war they want, it is a war they will receive.”  Zelda called over her closest advisors and instructed them to clear out all life medicine from the castle and give it to the departing forces.  At fifteen minutes before six, a general alert went out for the whole city, which was just starting to stir as the morning crowds were expected to take to the streets at any moment.  Many citizens likely did not know about the alert though, as the alert horns blown from the castle are only audible for about a mile’s distance.  Those closer to the outer walls would be at the mercy of their own senses for the initial blow. 


And what an initial blow it was.  Soren and I were standing near the fountain at five minutes past six when a group of fairly large rocks appeared in the sky all around us.  “Incoming!” the Knights shouted, and they crashed into buildings a few seconds later.  They did not land near us, but did manage to clear the walls by a very large distance. 


“Did you see anything like those trebuchets the first time you were in Bulblin City?” Brother asked me.


“No.” I said.  “But I did see something else.  It was in a cave.”


“What was it?  A weapon?” Soren asked as another wave of rocks came tumbling in. 


“It was similar to the cannons that sit in the valley at Lake Hylia.  Do you remember the one that shot us up into the heavens, the one that you did not wish to enter?”


“Yes, I’ll never be able to forget it.” Soren said. 


“It was like that, only smaller, with the ability to launch smaller objects.  My best guess was that it was for bombs.”  I responded. 


Soren froze.  “You don’t think that, when the Bulblins attacked the armory last week, that they took the bombs because they were plotting to…”


“What?  Plotting to what?”  I asked.


“I…we have to warn them immediately!” Soren yelled.  He immediately ran back toward the entrance to the castle where Link and Zelda were standing.  “You have to order a retreat!  Immediately!”  He yelled.  “The Bulblin, they’ve got cannons and bombs!  They’ll overwhelm the entranceways with explosions.  You have to get them out of there!”


“What are you saying?”  Zelda asked in a puzzled manner.  “The Bulblin do not possess such advanced capability.  They did not possess it during the Twilight years and could not possibly have developed it in their years of solitude.”


Just then, from the front tower of the castle came two guards, sprinting across the grass.  “Your majesty, they have them.  Cannons and bazookas!  They are pouring in toward the south and west gate, as well as other areas of the wall!  With their manpower it will be very difficult to defeat them with such advanced weaponry!”


“Your majesty we must fall back, or many lives will be lost.” Soren pleaded. 


Zelda and Link conferred with one another, and then a minute or so later, Darbus and Ralis were called into the discussion.  After about a minute or so, Zelda announced her decision.  “We will stick with the original plan.  If they break through, I will fight King Bulblin myself.”


Link took off for the west gate.  That was our cue to follow.  Soren, I, and the rest of guild were on the move again, toward the rocks that were being flung upwards of a quarter mile into the city.  Moving was difficult as crowds of people were retreating from their homes toward the city center.  We tried to stay within back alleys and away from the main streets in order to allow the citizenry to reach safety.  We got to within a half mile or so of the west gate, not far from the Malo Mart actually when another wave of rocks came.  Or actually, I thought they were rocks but upon closer inspection they were blue colored!


“Duck and cover now!” Auru shouted.  All in front of us, a row of explosions tore through the streets and buildings.  Within seconds, many were lying on the ground, writhing and crying in pain.  The scene sickened me, and Soren, still an emotion mess, only became angered further.  Seeing innocent people injured and killed only served to remind us of father’s passing, something we did not take kindly to.  We kept getting closer to the gate, but another wave of bombs came through the air, this time right on top of us.  There was shouting and screaming as the explosives came near.  Soren was able to get inside a building, but I was stuck on the outside.  Seeing two come very near, I put my shield out and jumped backward.  The blow of the bombs pushed me back into a pair of crates, but the shield deflected most of the energy.  Still, my elbows and thighs were scraped from the fall. 


“Are you okay sis?” Soren asked as he came quickly for me. 


“Yes, I’m just a bit scraped up, that’s all.” I responded. 


“Here, take my telescope, get on top of that tower of crates there and focus in on the bridge and tell me what you see.” Soren instructed.  I took the item and panned out with the zoom.  Above the din of people scrambling eastward toward downtown, I noticed the mass of Knights and Gorons ahead protecting the entranceway.  Across the bridge, bulblins had moved two moveable cannons to within close range of the bridge. 


“They’ve got big cannons, right on the bridge.” I said. 


“Din have mercy!  We need to get them out of there now!” Soren shouted. 


But before either of us could move any farther forward, a huge cannon bombardment, followed by bazooka fire engulfed the area around the West Gate.  Within seconds, tens of Knights and Gorons were on the ground, either destroyed or defeated from the blasts.  A few seconds later, more explosions happened all around the outside walls of the city, which began to shake and crumble from their very foundations. 


“Fall back!  Fall back now!”  Soren shouted.  Auru and Ashei did the same, and were screaming at the top of their lungs, unlike anything I had ever seen before.  Before I could move, Telma grabbed me. 


“They are going to come for us, the Bulblin.” Telma said.  “We mustn’t allow ourselves to be captured at any cost.  Run!” 


“What is happening?” I asked. 


“Shira, their weaponry is far too advanced, we’ve got arrows and swords and they’ve got cannons and handheld bazookas!  They are going to lay waste to the city!  We need to get out of here now!” 


Sure enough, a few minutes after we started running back toward downtown, a section of the city’s wall gave in, and bulblin on warthogs came roaring into the west of town.  They carried flame-tipped arrows and began to shoot them from distance. 


“No time!  We’ll never make the center of town now!” Soren shouted.  “We have to reach home now, it’s our only chance!”  Immediately, we turned southward toward our home, which was about four blocks away from the west road.  After about two blocks of sprinting as fast as possible, I began to fall behind again.  Suddenly my legs felt very weak.  I tripped on a manhole cover, falling to the ground and sending my bow forward in front of me by several feet.  Soren heard this and turned around, but before he could reach me two bulblin came roaring down the pathway.  I could barely get to my knees before they both shot flaming arrows at me.  One missed to the left but the other was true, hitting me in the ribs.  I let out a death-raking scream as the piercing and extreme heat of the arrow immersed me in pain and set my tunic on fire.  Soren got to me just in time and pulled me away before the bulblin trampled me.  I was still screaming out in pain as he dragged me around the side of the street corner and behind a building.  In one motion he reached in and ripped out the arrow while trying to get me to roll on the ground to pat out the flames.  But I could no longer move much on my own, my body simply paralyzed by pain.  Blood streamed from the wound.  Soren picked me up and carried me the remaining block, dodging another bulblin attack in the process. 


“Brother, don’t let me die.  Not now.” I uttered softly. 


“I’m not letting you go.” Soren said as we entered the house.  I was starting to lose consciousness as I felt brother carry me up the stairs.  Mother was there, hiding underneath the bed, but crawled out immediately upon seeing me.  “She’s been burned and pierced by an arrow, get the potion and the bandages!” brother shouted.  Mother immediately sprung into action, and got the life medicine, urging me to drink some of it, bending my head upward since I could not do so on my own.  I could barely swallow.  Soren worked furiously on the wound, pressing several sheets of cloth into it to try to stop the blood and turning me upright with a fresh kettle to clean it out.  Mother then applied a circular bandage before Soren noticed something out the window that dismayed him. 


“It’s King Bulblin!  He’s right down the street, and other bulblin are pointing toward here!  We need to get out now!”


“The stables are just three houses down, the door’s open.  Can you carry her?” Mother asked. 


They carried me down and out of the house, mother not even stopping to shut the door.  I was barely able to stay awake, but I saw people running, running everywhere.  I saw gorons, zoras, hylians, bulblins, every known race all running, fighting for their lives.  Before I knew it, I was sitting in brother’s lap aboard our loyal steed and we were riding. 


“He’s right behind us!  Pick up the pace mother!” Soren called out.


“But I’ll run into people then!” mother replied. 


“That doesn’t matter now, we have to get out of the city any way we can!” Soren focused his attention back to me.  “You’re going to be fine sis.  We’re going to make it!”


“Just then, a blockade of three bulblin on wildebeest pulled directly ahead and charged straight at us.  They shot arrows but all missed.  As we got close, Soren noticed a gap in their formation and charged forward, hoping to drill a path between them.  But in the end, although our horse was able to make it through, mother wasn’t, her horse colliding directly with two wildebeest directly behind us.  She flipped over in the air and landed on her back, right on the cobblestones. 


“Mother!” Soren cried as he saw her go down.  He immediately pulled up on the reigns and turned back, only to see King Bulblin off his mount and racing toward her.  Soren tried to get there before him but it was too late.  He brandished his sword and held it up directly over mother as she screamed and writhed in pain. 


“For Din’s sake, let her go!” Soren screamed.  “She never did anything to you!”


“Ah, but innocence is no reason for mercy and empathy, not to your kind.” King Bulblin said.  “When hundreds of our own starved and froze to death in the mountains, your kind failed us.  So now we will fail you.”  He raised his sword into the air.


“No, don’t do this.” I cried softly.  “Let her go, please!” Soren pleaded.


“Soren take this now!”  Mother slid a piece of crystal glass along the ground toward brother.  “You’ll see father and me and we’ll always be together.  Be strong and do not weep for me.” 


Soren picked up the object as King Bulblin plunged the sword into mother’s chest.  I let out a scream as it happened, while brother visibly winced and shouted rather obscene words of which I could not recollect.  After that, I blacked out, sure that I was next to go.  The next thing I knew, I was near the city center.  Link was battling against bulblin infantry, and Zelda was doing battle with King Bulblin while explosions rang out all over the city, which had turned almost completely into rubble.  It seemed as though I had passed away into hell itself.



Chapter 26: Splash of Tears


“Shira, always remember that when one sees beyond the darkness, one sees a glorious future.  No matter what, do not forget this.”


Those were father’s words, the words that I had heard just hours before his disappearance and death at the hands of the bulblin nearly three years earlier.  Now with the whole world seemingly falling into despair and my own life in peril, those words rang true once again.  We were well out of the city now, somewhere in eastern Hyrule Field. 


“Are you doing okay sis?” Soren asked me as he gave me some keese wings to eat along with another half bottle of red potion. 


“It still hurts really badly.  I feel like I can barely lie straight.” I responded.


“Do you think you’ll be okay getting down the back mountain road to Lake Hylia?” he asked.


“I should be, so long as we’re walking and not flying.”


“We won’t go through to Fyer and Falbi’s unless we have to.” Soren said as he bit off one of the wings.  Did I mention that we’ve been chased most of the way?  Bulblin patrols are everywhere and they are quick after us.  Your little hut might not be safe for long.  As soon as you’ve recovered we’re going to have to move again.”


Brother and I continued to ride through the meadows on what was a very odd day, cool, misty and foggy, foggy enough that it was hard to see ahead further than a few hundred feet in some spots.  Conditions like these were common in the cooler months, but were quite unusual for midsummer.  The weather seemed rather ominous and did nothing to calm my nerves. 


By afternoon we were close to the turn off onto the mountainous path that led over toward Zora’s River and the back entrance to Lake Hylia.  This trail was very narrow, narrow enough that we would have to disembark and cover it on foot.  I still felt very weak and very tired, having not slept naturally in almost two days, but I had not a choice.  We reached the end of the trail and Soren pulled up on the reigns.  I was about to get off when Soren motioned for me to stay put. 


“I think I just heard a Bulblin horn.  Be very quiet and listen.”


I heard nothing for about a minute, nothing but the breath of the wind and the sway of the grass.  Then I heard it, two Bulblin horns, coming from ahead of us.  There was some rumbling in the distance as well.  “Wildebeest.” I said meekly.


“Good grief, they’re everywhere.” Soren said.  “We’re going to have to try for Falbi’s Hut now.”


We made our way back to the east, then southward toward the Great Hylian Bridge.  We reached the fork in the road that led to Falbi’s, but there were bulblin staked out in front of the area.  In fact, when we took a look down the trail with the telescope, it was obvious that the house had sustained serious damage. 


“Oh this isn’t good.  The place looks damaged and maybe abandoned from an attack.”


“Brother, what do we do now?” I asked. 


“I don’t know.  I don’t think we’re going to be able to reach Lake Hylia.  We’re going to have to press on to Ordona.”


Before Soren could finish his thought, there was a blaring of Bulblin horns from behind us.  We pivoted around but saw nothing.  Soren turned the horse back around.  We heard the horns again, this time coming from the mountainous area to our east.  “Brother, I think they are trying to trap us.” I said.  “They always had a base of operations in the canyons to the south of the Great Hylian Bridge.  If they’ve got a force there we’re sunk.”


Just then we saw them, a group of wildebeest carrying bulblin archers that appeared from behind us.  They were already starting to arch their bows.  “We have no choice, there’s too many of them, we have to try to get through.” Soren said as he kicked the horse into gear.  We flew down the grassy knoll toward the Great Hylian Bridge.  There were puddles and treacherous ditches across the trail, and it was a really bumpy ride, further aggravating my aching right side.  They shot arrows in our general direction, but they were errant.  As fast we were riding it would have been a major stroke of luck to actually hit us. 


There was a giant puddle right in front of the bridge.  We rode through it, but the resulting splash caused the horse to thrash about.  I barely hung on as brother worked to calm the horse down.  A few seconds later it was obvious why the horse had thrashed, as the liquid was irritating to the skin and smelled horrible.  “I think this is the stuff they use to make fires in stoves.” Soren said.


We kept going across the bridge and were about halfway across before our worse fears were realized.  Another group of bulblin emerged from the fog on the other side of the bridge, and there appeared to be another giant puddle there as well.  Looking backward then forward, I saw that both groups had flaming arrows. 


“Oh shoot, they’ve got them on both ends.  We’re going to be inundated.  Get off and duck.”


“I think we have a bigger worry than that.” I said with a defeated tone. 


Soren watched in horror as instead of shooting towards us, the bulblin on both ends shot arrows into the puddles.  On both ends of the bridge, walls of fire at least seven feet high blocked our way and were moving toward us.  We were surrounded with nowhere to go. 


“Why is the fire coming at us?” I asked, not really knowing what to say. 


“Father told me once the rock used to build the bridge is a marble-calcite mixture embedded with quartzite.  It’s strong but very grainy and vulnerable to fire.  If we stay here, we’re going to be burned to a crisp.” Soren said quickly. 


“I have an idea; grab me onto your shoulders.” I said rapidly.  He picked me up and I scrambled up onto one of the square-shaped pillars on the ledge of the bridge.  Soren jumped and grabbed my left hand, where I helped him up amid some really bad pains in my right ribs.  We got to our feet, continuing to watch the firestorm approach us on both sides. 


“Well great, now that we’re on the ledge, what do we do now?” Soren asked hurriedly.


“Now, we jump.” I said.


“From here?  Are you crazy, we’re up two hundred feet!  We’ll never make it through a fall of that magnitude!” Soren shouted.


“Well, it’s either we take a chance jumping into the lake, or we burn to death.” I said.  Brother was petrified.  “Look, I know your fears.  We’ll be fine, take my hand, we’ll jump together.  A few seconds and it’ll be over and we’ll be in the lake.”  Two bulblin arrows came our direction, but landed short.  “Please, we don’t have much time.”


Soren swallowed hard.  Without speaking a word, he nodded and grabbed my hand.  “On the count of three, we’ll go.  My own knees were a bit wobbly as I turned to look down at the target.  “One…two…three!”  We sprung off the bridge in each other’s arms.  There was no sound as we dropped, three, four, five seconds.  Then came the impact, which was a crashing of immense force against my feet and legs.  Quickly, my ears began to ring and block up.  As it turned out, the impact had barely slowed our speed, and we were well under the water surface before we knew what happened.  Since I had been holding my breath since the start of the jump, I flapped hard to try to reach the surface.  Just when I thought I was going to black out from lack of air, Soren grabbed my tunic by the neck and hoisted me upward to the surface. 


I coughed up some water as we made our way over toward shore.  Two zoras in the distance had seen our leap from the bridge and immediately came to our aid.  I noticed out of them was Aguaro.  “Are you two okay?  We need to get you to dry land.” 


“Aguaro, get me to my hut, please.”  I said meekly.


“Miss Shira, forgive me I did not notice you.  Xelha, you carry her, I’ll take him.  Make sure you keep her head and chest above water, she’s got a wound on her chest.”


The two zoras grabbed us and swam several miles along the rocky shoreline, until we reached the sandy beaches of the north coast.  Once on land, I attempted to get to my feet but it was difficult to walk.  My left knee and ankle felt crushed, and my right side was still hurting from the arrow shot earlier, so the zoras helped carry me across the beach and grass on their shoulders.  Once inside the hut, I collapsed right onto the bed.  Soren stayed on his feet, helping Aguaro to bandage my leg and rib area.  He was clearly hurting himself, but did not wish to submit to his weariness.  Meanwhile, Xelha, whom I learned was the daughter of the late Xelpruta, was examining my wounds. 


“She clearly has an incision in her chest.  The arrow you speak of missed her heart by a safe distance but it came within a gill of hitting her right lung.”  Xelha said.  “It’s amazing that the fall from the bridge didn’t exacerbate the wound and kill her.  Her foot and knee look to be a bit out of place, probably because of a bad entry into the water.  It’s amazing that you didn’t suffer the same fate Soren.”


“So, is she going to be okay?” Soren asked. 


“She’s very tired.  The leg will probably heal on its own with time, but the incision is dangerous.  You have to make sure she gets rest and proper life medicine.”


“The Bulblin are surely after us though.  They’ll probably come down the trail through the mountains looking for us.” Soren said. 


Just then, three Bulblin opened the front door.  We all turned around, the two zoras and Soren pulling their weapons immediately. 


“We’ll do what we can to protect you, Miss Shira.”


I sat up gently.  “Terex?  Metcla and Pehrot?  What are you doing here?  Brother let them in.”


“You did what you could for us, now we’ll do the same for you.” Metcla said.  “And this time we won’t break a hole in the floor.” 


“We’re redirecting bulblin fighters down across to the other side of the lake, to the west of the Great Hylian Bridge.” Terex said.  “Aguaro, we should also help set up a defensive perimeter around this area, tell your zora troops that Soren and Shira are here and to send help downriver in case the bulblin troops do come.” 


“Good bulblin sir, for what reason do you betray your kind?” Xelha asked. 


“Shira brought us in when nobody else would.  She fed us, showed us how to find food and shelter, and to create a better life for our kind.  She was behind the whole effort to re-supply Bulblin City and reintegrate our people into hyrulian society.  The least we can do is protect her in her time of need.”  Terex said. 


“Very well then.  I presume you have knowledge of the bulblin position and capabilities.  You must meet with our officers as soon as possible.”


I do not remember much of the following two to three days.  I slept for much of the time, trying to cope with my own struggle to survive amid the losses we had sustained.  Mother was dead, killed at the hands of King Bulblin.  Santha was also deceased, a result of a lightning strike.  There was no telling how many more loyal citizens had met their end in the fighting.  Just thinking about it made me realize just how fortunate I was to be alive. 


My brother is my saving grace.  For three days he stood at my bedside, giving me constant treatment for my injuries and weariness.  He never once complained.  All the while my zora and bulblin friends worked feverishly to repel the invasion that we knew was coming.  Late in the third day, I felt strong enough again to walk, and we went down to the beach.  It was a hot summer day, but the lack of people out on the shores was a giveaway that things were wrong.


“Have you heard anything from Castle Town?” I asked brother. 


“The Zoras say the water tells them that the fighting is still going on.  Nobody seems to know who’s going to win.”  He said. 


“Doesn’t really matter for us, we’ve already lost.” I said.


“Why do you say that?”  Soren asked.


“Mother is dead.  Santha is dead.  We don’t know if Ashei, Auru, Telma, or any of the others survived the bulblin onslaught.  Tens of others are surely gone too.  We never had a chance against their futuristic weapons.  King Bulblin is sure to take over the kingdom now unless Zelda and Link make a wish upon the Triforce.  Such a wish would likely be a reflection of cruel intentions, and would turn them evil.  So either way, the kingdom is in peril.”


“Shira I wish I could tell you otherwise, but what you say is true.  In the last few days I have lost my mother and my loving woman, and have seen further bloodshed of which I feel at least partially responsible for.  I feel like crying all the time, but I stay strong for you.  We’ve been through it all together and I don’t want to lose you too.  You’re too valuable to me, more than anybody else in the whole world.”


What brother told me was probably the sweetest thing I had ever heard, and a torrent of emotions came over me.  I ran over and hugged him as I started to cry.  “Oh Soren, if it weren’t for you I’d probably just be a prissy little girl, and that arrow certainly would have killed me.  You showed me how to be strong, to be independent, and to fight.  You wanted to fight and avenge father’s death.  You wanted to save mother at any cost.  And now you supported the effort to save the bulblin from extinction.  Every step of the way I wasn’t sure that we would make it through, but you convinced me there was no way we would fail.”  I buried my head into his chest.  “And now I’m sure we’ll make it through this too.  Just give me a few more days and we’ll fight the good fight again.”


“Something tells me we might not have a few days.” He said as he picked up the telescope.


“What do you mean?” I asked.  Soren panned out over the mountainous terrain north of my hut.  Then he pointed.  “There they are!  They have bazookas! They are aiming for the hut!” 


“Oh no! Is anybody in there?!”  I shouted.  But before we could even make a move, Soren instructed me to get down.  Three seconds later I saw a wave of bombs cut across the sky.  They seemed to come together in a perfect arc and exploded right over the hut.  I could not believe it. 


Before the dust could even clear, I saw many zoras and hylians running across the grassy knolls toward the beach, more specifically toward the docks where their boats were.  Aguaro and Xelha were at the front of the pack. 


“We have to go now.”  Aguaro said.  “The Bulblin are going to lay waste to this beach.”


“Where are Terex, Metcla, and Pehrot?” I asked. 


 “They are somewhere up in the mountains, I don’t know where.  They’ll have to fend for themselves now.”  Soren replied.  “We have to get to the boat.”


We immediately scampered to the boat dock about a quarter mile east, where my fishing boat was.  Within a minute or so we had unhooked it and were off into the waters of Lake Hylia.  Soren and Aguaro manned the oars and tried desperately to get out of harm’s way, but before long, bulblin fighters began to spill into the beachhead, and began to take aim at the many boats all around us.  For a while, their shots were inaccurate, but after a few minutes, they began to hit.  One boat to our left exploded, sending chills down the spines of the zoras, who jumped into the water and began to push the boat from behind.  I went to the tackle box and rummaged through my poles and bait, before finding a gleaming blue tunic with headgear and flippers.  It was zora armor, a gift I received from Xelpruta after diving all the way to Lakebed Temple last year. 


“Put this on.” I instructed him as I pulled out two pairs of earplugs.  It will allow you to breathe underwater.  The bombs can’t get us under the surface.”


Soren quickly put on the tunic and headgear.  “What are you going to do?” he asked. 


“Brother, I’ve done this dive before, I can do it again.” I said.  Lakebed Temple is the only safe place for us now.”


The next half an hour was a nervous paddle into the middle of Lake Hylia, a race of time and distance to clear the range of the bulblin bazookas.  Much to our chagrin, I saw with the telescope that several packs of bulblin were loading into remaining boats in an attempt to chase us out onto the lake.  We kept paddling, kept pushing, kept moving until we were at least five or six miles out into the open waters.  We were right over deepest part of the lake.


“Shira and Soren, we’re right over the temple.” Xelha said. 


“Can you assist her on the way down?” Soren asked. 


“I can to some degree, but if you dive too quickly, your blood will thicken and you’ll get dizzy and disoriented.  That’s death when you’re over a hundred feet down.  We have to take it slow.”


We got out of the boat, and took a deep breath.  The early part of the dive was easy, but once we reached the start of the crater surrounding the temple, I started to get a stitch in my right side.  The pain only got worse as we continued downward.  Soren led the way forward down to the lakebed, and the two zoras followed me.  We were about three, four minutes into the dive when we entered the temple.  I had reached it, but the pain was killing me and my lungs were begging for air.  There was still another fifty feet or so to go, past giant jellyfish and bonefish.  I kicked my feet furiously, but I had nothing left.  I could feel water seeping into my insides.  The two zoras grabbed me as I blacked out. 


I coughed violently.  Water spewed from my mouth as I came to.  It seemed for a moment that I was seeing double, but eventually brother and the two zoras came into view. 


“Din, you scare me sometimes.” Soren said.  “I thought for sure I had lost you.  Are you okay?”


“Welcome to Lakebed Temple.”  Aguaro and Xelha said.  “You’ll be safe in our sanctuary.”


Soren picked me up and held me, sopping wet clothes and all.  The two zoras smiled.


Epilogue:  Watery Abyss


Sitting on the steps of the rotating staircase, I looked at the mirror mother had given Soren right before her death.  “Do you think there is any significance to it?” I asked. 


“I don’t know.  But I can’t dispel the possibility.” Soren said.  “I feel as though we are somehow destined to return to the overworld, and this might a key.  Mother told us that by gazing into the mirror, we would see her and father.”


“I wonder what it means.” I said.


“Maybe one day we’ll find out.  But I’ll say this, the water’s reflection sure looks soothing.”


Lakebed Temple is a great place to visit, a true monument to zora architecture and culture, but it isn’t the greatest living space.  It is humid, moldy, and very rocky.  Oh sure there is food aplenty, but it is often difficult to obtain and poor in taste, a mixture of raw fish and wild mushrooms.  The Zoras are our only contact with the outside world.  We are certain that the country is plunging into a new era of death and destruction, and that we were very fortunate to survive.  What looms ahead for the two of us, I do not know.  Someday we will find a way to make it all right again.  It’s what father and mother would expect of us.


To be continued…?







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