"The princess is fighting another one!"
Footsteps resounded through the halls of North Castle as knights and nobles alike hurried to windows and balconies overlooking the training arena. As they drew close the sound of clashing blades could once more be heard rising up from the battlefield, already distinguishing this new competitor as adept in swordplay -- for all their bravado, several fighters had been struck down by the princess in a single stroke.
Nevertheless, there were many different reactions to this.
"A peasant," one of the nobles scoffed, his sentiments repeated by several of his peers' disgruntled comments. Disgust could be found in his verdant clothes, his uncultured approach to the fight, his wild swings...and they capitalized on every opportunity to ridicule this vagabond from afar. Meanwhile, the Hylian Knights gathered around shared a different opinion: all were entranced by the scene, several were making bets on the victor, and a general even turned it into an object lesson for his subordinates. Even King Harkinian left his throne to view the battle, keeping a quiet, watchful gaze over the field.
Then there was a black-robed scholar whose eyes seemed to flash with anger every time he glanced over the rail.
"Something wrong, Wayen?" a guard quipped at him, drawing those dark green eyes towards himself. "Why do you always get so uptight about these fights, anyway? Not like the princess is in any real danger. Look!" he waved towards all the soldiers standing around the arena, ever attentive. "There's Knights all over the place. Anything goes wrong and they'll step in to stop it."
Wayen sent him a sideways glance through slitted eyelids, then turned with a huff and stalked away without a word. The knight shrugged and walked back over to the other soldiers, shaking his head. "I'll never understand that guy."
"He's a magic man, mate," another chuckled, patting the sword on his belt. "Don't even try to understand him." A chorus of laughter rose up among the other soldiers before they turned back to the fight below. Only one person kept his eyes on the door through which Wayen had disappeared.
After a moment, King Harkinian slipped away after him.
* * *
The scholar came to a stop in an empty hallway, one with windows also overlooking the arena. No matter how he tried he couldn't take his eyes off the clashing swords, but unlike most of the onlookers he did not do so out of wonder or excitement. Rage was all he felt at the sight of the princess charging against this wanderer. ...He did have to feel a touch of admiration at the challenger's persistence, yet that somehow only made this more infuriating.
"Is there a problem, Wayen?"
The words echoed along the stone walls, filling the commanding voice with all the more power. Wayen instinctively spun towards the approaching form of King Harkinian, inclining his head in a rigid bow. "Of course not, Your Highness," he replied, forcing a submissive tone. It still came out with an edge, though, and he chided himself for such a display. "I haven't the right to contest your decisions."
A few seconds passed before Harkinian loosed a sigh and walked over to where the scholar stood. "I understand that you fear for her safety," he muttered, gazing out at the sight below, "but --"
"Her safety, Highness, has never been in doubt," Wayen snapped before he could stop himself. The anger he felt had been building ever since this ridicule had been announced, and now it finally broke free. "Or so I'd have thought, until this talk of needing a protector suddenly sprang up."
King Harkinian stayed silent for a moment, allowing the scholar to compose himself. "You know well as I that she is not seeking a protector for herself," he finally said, voice low and kind -- but the underlying growl could not be missed. "It is for the Triforce of Wisdom."
"Then assign one of our number to this task!" Wayen spun towards him, and as he did lifted a hand over his face. Magic rippled along his fingertips, then shot out over his facial features. The air shimmered for a second before his mask shattered into a million flecks of dust.
By the time his hand returned to his side, the change was obvious. The scholar's skin, though never tan, had significantly paled until it was nearly white. His dark hair, on the other hand, had transformed to a pitch black, so deep that one could hardly separate the dusken strands with their sight. And most importantly of all, shining in the reflection of the setting sun was the replacement for his hazel eyes: a piercing crimson gaze that revealed all.
The Sheikah in disguise stood tall before his king, glaring at the man. "Have we ever failed you, Majesty? Have we once given way against those who would strike down the royal family?" The answer, of course, was a resounding no. "And yet after countless generations of service and protection, the Shadow Folk are to be cast aside so readily. What have we done to deserve such disgrace?"
Harkinian met his glare without flinching, standing strong against the insubordination -- oh, yes, Wayen had no doubt that he would be punished for this action. Challenging the king in open court would have been enough for banishment from the castle; doing so in private like this would not mitigate the monarch's wrath. By all rights, the only way he could save himself and his position now would be to throw himself at the king's feet and start begging for forgiveness.
But the race of Shadows never begged... Wayen certainly wasn't about to start. If his services were deemed unacceptable then, by the goddesses, why shouldn't he be thrown from the castle? He was already outcast enough among the other Sheikah hidden throughout Hyrule; seemed like a waste of effort to try and stay here if he wasn't wanted.
'Will that be your reply, Majesty?' he challenged in his mind. 'Will you too throw me out?'
The silence continued to deepen, going on so long that even Wayen started feeling uncomfortable –
And then King Harkinian took a deep breath and exhaled it, a weary smile coming to his face. He lifted a hand, clapped the Sheikah on his shoulder with it, turned them both back to the window. "Wayen... Do you believe you could defeat my daughter in combat?"
He tensed up at the very thought. "Not if the contest was of physical blows, no. Lady Impa has trained her far too well." The king turned with an arched eyebrow and a smirk on his lips. Wayen answered his unasked question by raising a hand and calling forth his magic once more -- this time taking the form of a collection of electric sparks shooting between his fingertips. "Were I permitted to use magic, however...then yes, I have no doubt I could beat her."
A slow nod. "And how well do you think magic would work against Ganon?"
... He did not respond.
"You place too much faith in your spellcasting, Sheikah -- a fatal error against a foe like this. Magic by its very nature is rebellious and volatile; it would be a simple task for him to turn your own power against you. No, it is the strength of steel that shall serve best against the warlock." Wayen grimaced at that. "Your spells and skills will continue to make you an invaluable guardian for Zelda and myself. But he who protects the Triforce shall become the personal enemy of Ganon himself -- a task for which we are woefully ill-equipped."
The scholar bowed his head, eyes narrowed and a scowl on his face. Watching the battle below did not help his mood...neither did it help him deny those words. They made a glaring amount of sense, if the stories of Ganon's strength were to be believed -- and given that he held the Triforce of Power, it would be foolish to believe otherwise. If anything, they underestimated his might.
And even the best Sheikah used magic to further empower themselves...
He despised the feeling of helplessness which that knowledge generated.
King Harkinian waited a few moments before patting the Sheikah on his back. "No one is prepared for the trials that await. If we are to survive, we must find someone who can successfully stand against Ganon."
"Are you saying that these brawls will locate the next Hero?" Wayen grumbled, recalling the ancient legends of Hyrule's greatest guardians.
"Not necessarily." His Majesty shrugged. "But whoever can defeat Zelda would certainly be a good candidate for the role." With those words serving as an unspoken farewell, the king turned away.
Wayen's eyes saw a new flash of movement down below, and he finally focused his gaze to see what was happening. A figure clothed in blue and white had leapt away from the arena and landed a few feet away... The green-robed swordsman remained on the elevated platform. He stared speechless for a moment, eyes wide with wonder: the boy had won, had defeated Zelda herself.
"Majesty?" he called out to the air, not even looking up to see if Harkinian was still even within earshot. His ears twitched, though, with the sound of scuffling cloths near the hall's end. "That argument...was it the same one Zelda used to convince you?"
There was a moment of silence, and then a low chuckle reached his ears. "One of many, my boy." More rustling cloth as the king turned away again. "One of many..."
Wayen stood there for several seconds more, silently watching the new protector being led away by a few knights. This wanderer, the Hero? He wanted to laugh at the thought, and would have if not for the man's victory -- he was certainly the most skilled of any who had come thus far. With a heavy sigh he lifted a hand and rewove the mask of magic over his face, concealing his Sheikah features in exchange for a Hylian's.
One last look was spared at the arena...and then he followed his king.
And the goddess spake verily, stating, "Behold! Though evil shall rise and wicked men advance against thee, I shalt ne'er abandon thee to their grip. Whenever the Great Cataclysm doth draw near, a Hero shall be sent forth into thine realm, and he shall be blessed with the Courage of my soul. He shalt be thy final savior, and no darkness shall stand against his light."
Thus the final words of Divine Farore wert uttered, and she returned to the heavenly realms…
Wayen sat back in his chair and shut his eyes, loosing a long sigh as he considered the text for the hundredth time this afternoon.
'That boy, the Hero? What nonsense…'
Memories of the battle between the random traveler and Zelda, the very Princess of Hyrule, were still strong – it was only a few hours ago, after all, when he had stared at Her Highness admitting defeat. That the victor of that fight was a strong warrior could not be contested, no matter how Wayen looked at it. If the man could overcome Zelda with a sword, he could defend the Triforce better than almost anyone in the kingdom.
But that still did not mean he could stand against Ganon.
'No matter what battles he has faced, he cannot be prepared for that beast.' For a moment he considered going to and confronting the princess – let her try and deny that claim! – but even as the thought crossed his mind, he shook it away. Zelda was too wise – '…Stubborn is more like it' – to heed such a flawed case: her champion might not be prepared, but he was better prepared than anyone else in the castle. That was the point she would make; that was the point he could not deny.
He shook his head, trying in vain to fling the thoughts from his mind completely. Such had been his inner conflict all day long, and he was tired of having the same argument go nowhere.
But at least this time his body seconded the request for a truce, weary as it was from a day spent combing through the texts of the vast Royal Library. It was time to do something other than sit still while a debate waged war in his mind, and so at last Wayen hefted himself from the table and stretched his legs.
The windowed wall next to his table drew his attention, its view into the open expanse of Hyrule Fields doing well to ease his strained eyes. Moonlight bathed the scenery in an eerie peace, a poignant choice of descriptions given today's events. The attack on Princess Zelda's carriage had caught many off guard, especially for most Hyruleans, who were unaware of the warlock Ganon and his growing power. But even those few who knew the full details had not expected such a bold strike so soon, and so deep inside Hyrule's borders.
And for Wayen especially, the fact that Moblins had been the attackers only sent further chills up his spine. 'Could the Gates be open once more? That would mean…'
… He pushed the thought away, unwilling to consider such implications.
But it didn't matter what exact methods Ganon had employed. The fact that Moblins had been sent implied a powerful magic was involved – no surprise, given that the warlord held the Triforce of Power – and even though their attack had failed, a message had been delivered. "I can go wherever I want," Wayen could almost hear the warlord proclaim. "I can bypass your every defense and strike however I please.
"And you can do nothing to stop it."
In the window's reflection, he could see his eyes flash red – literally.
'We'll see about that.'
* * *
His concerns, and the rage resulting from those concerns, had not subsided when Wayen left the library a few minutes later. For once he didn't bother to mask such emotions, instead using them to propel his walk to a furious pace. It was late enough that few people remained in the halls of the castle, but his expression and his gait made sure none of them bothered him.
Destination fixed firmly in mind, he navigated the maze of halls with ease, all the while working to keep his annoyance in check. Ganon's covert challenge was infuriating enough without having to worry about some Hero-wannabe roaming the halls and holding Zelda's unwarranted trust. Keeper of Knowledge or not, the princess was being decidedly foolish by trusting the Triforce's safety to some random vagabond. Even if the boy had saved her life…
And in fact, it all seemed too convenient…for this man to have been in exactly the right spot at exactly the right time… The possibility of him being Ganon's agent could not be ruled out. Why was the Princess so quick to do so? 'She probably used that 'blessed fountain' trick again… But anyone with an inkling of magic detection could sense that deception!'
"Zelda, you are too hasty," he muttered under his breath, letting a bit of his ire bleed out with the words.
A pang of guilt hit him for using such a disrespectful tone, but he shrugged it off. Even with his flaws, he remained a Sheikah, and as such it was his duty to conquer the dangers that the people of Hyrule never realized existed. Fighting veiled threats instead of outright evil beasts seemed distasteful to him, but someone had to do it. Might as well be him…
His ears perked up as they finally got his brain's attention: noise, and a great deal of it, was coming from a nearby chamber. '…Laughter? Ah, that's right, the party.' He slowed to a stop, studying his surroundings to confirm his location, and then hesitantly turned away. Earlier in the day it had been his intention to attend as well…but his earlier 'conversation' with His Highness had removed that right.
"I shall see you tomorrow, Sir Wayen," the King's words came to him again, the farewell His Majesty had given when Wayen had departed from the court that evening. Most would think it a friendly goodbye, which was its purpose: it was a common wording His Highness used to punish someone without shaming them publically. Anyone who had been in the court long enough, though, understood the command hidden within those words: do not show yourself before me until tomorrow.
For one whose life was lived to protect the King, being forbidden from approaching him for even a single day was terrifying even in thought, much less in practice. Nevertheless…Wayen dared not disobey the decree. With an exasperated sigh, he turned around and continued on a more circuitous route towards his destination.
Instinct directed him to take a long corridor weaving through the heart of the ancient structure. Already thoughts of and fear for the king were starting to cloud his mind once more, despite his efforts otherwise. Nothing would happen, he told himself – surely Ganon would not strike again so swiftly!
…yeah, that kind of thinking lasted about half a second.
Caught up in his worries, it took several moments before Wayen's brain registered the movement his eyes were already tracking. His reprieve ended when the sound of footsteps reached him as well, finding a character who seemed decidedly out of place approaching from the other direction. A peasant, judging by his modest apparel, glancing about every few moments – he was lost, it seemed, though where he might be heading at this hour was a mystery unto itself.
Then he spotted the sword hanging from the man's waist.
"You there!" the Scholar challenged at once, rushing towards the man. "What business have you in the castle this late?"
The man held up his hands like a criminal caught in the act…but only for a second, as though some realization hit him. He lowered one hand to rest against the hilt of his sword, and the other tried futilely to wave Wayen away. "Hey, hey, easy there pal! I'm just looking for the dinner party, that's all."
'Excuse me?' Wayen's jaw nearly dropped in disbelief. He narrowed his eyes in a fashion that he knew tended to intimidate, but, to his credit, the stranger hardly bashed an eyebrow – if anything, he only looked more confident following the unspoken challenge. "Parties held by the royalty are invitation only," he replied, letting his tone drop from 'accusatory' to 'firm'. "One cannot simply walk into the hall."
The swordsman only laughed in response and waved the protests aside. "Relax! Zelda asked me to attend – that should be all the invitation I need, right?"
Wayen blanched. 'Zelda ask– WAIT.'
His eyes widened. "You…" The Sheikah felt his fingers itching to grasp the dagger concealed at his waist, but he restrained himself. "You're the one who defeated Her Highness?"
"That's right!" Pridefulness flooded onto his face, completely ignorant of Wayen's harsh glare. The boy puffed up his chest in some stupid attempt to impress. "Saved her life from a couple of beasts earlier, too! I can't say it was an easy fight, but those Moblins never stood a chance against me!" He laughed merrily, not even noticing the Sheikah's fists clench and eyes flare up in rage.
Thi– this brag– this arrogant braggart was the one to guard the Triforce? That he had saved Her Highness was a matter of fact, but to act so childishly about it…ggggggrah! Wayen was about a hairsbreadth away from grabbing this imbecile by his collar and giving him a real fight. Even now, the Sheikah could spot at least ten distinct openings where he could land a fatal blow right then and there.
One thing stopped him.
"…Zelda asked me to attend…"
He could feel the warmth of blood seeping onto his hands as he stepped to the side and jerked a finger farther down the hall. "Third hall on your left," he spat, then spun about in a huff and marched away before the boy could even try to respond.
It was several minutes before he managed to regain even a piece of his composure.
* * *
Link stared after the stranger, a bit bewildered by the harsh departure. "Huh…wonder what his problem is?"
For several seconds he just stood there, scratching his head, wondering if he should go after the guy and give him a piece of his mind…but then his stomach growled again. Nah, forget about him – there was a party to get to! Thinking no more of the strange man, he hurried off down the hall…
* * *
Wayen's call into the rest room caught the attention of all its occupants, most of whom had been silently watching an ongoing poker game in the back. A few quizzical glances came his way, but after a moment they returned their focus to their cards; he hadn't been speaking to them, and Knights and Scholars never saw much reason to spend time with one another.
Only Krin himself kept looking at Wayen, surprise lingering in his eyes as he waved the Scholar over. He sat off to the side of the chamber, bandages visible on his forehead and arms but otherwise looking rather hale and hearty. It was a good sight to see; the captain was a loyal servant of the crown and one of the soldiers whom Wayen truly respected. "Good evening, Sir Wayen," Krin greeted as he approached, smirking at his involuntary scowl. "Is there something I can help you with?"
Wayen shoved his displeasure aside and walked over, forcing a smile onto his face. "If you don't mind," he said with a lowered voice, glancing to the others in the room – seemed most of them had gone back to their games. Good. Reaching into his vest pocket, he withdrew a piece of folded parchment and moved to lay it out on the table in front of Krin. "I just need some directions, that's all."
He finished revealing the page: a map of all Hyrule.
"Where exactly were you and the Princess attacked?"
Not even a cicada's cry met his ears as he drew closer to his destination, and it worried him. In the wake of the Moblins' attack that morning, it seemed the entire world had been driven into hiding. Silence pervaded the Hyrule Fields, casting an eerie pall over the normally vibrant kingdom. It would have sent most back to Hyrule Castle, to wait until morning had come before performing this investigation.
But Wayen was a Sheikah, and as such even he found benefits in such a setting – with no one around, he was free to dissolve his mask and wander the fields with his telltale traits showing. Casting his unhindered crimson gaze across the Fields felt wonderful…but once the initial exhilaration died, his unease returned in full force.
He tugged on his stallion's reins, bringing the black steed to a halt as they crested the final hill. "Whoa, Ebony…easy girl," he reassured, petting her mane while he looked over the area. There it was: the ruins of Princess Zelda's carriage, the location of the Moblin attack from earlier that day. Getting here had been simple enough, but once again the silence reminded him that something was not right about this place. "Stay here, girl," he muttered as he dropped to the ground.
With only slight hesitation, the mage stepped forward into the moonlight and approached the wreckage of the carriage. Barring another attack from Ganon's beasts, soldiers would be sent out tomorrow to clear the area, but for now the scene remained identical to how Krin and the Princess had left it. The wagon's remnants sat near the road's center; not too far from it his crimson gaze could make out the hole from which the Moblins had emerged.
Had the silent night not amplified his caution, he likely would have focused solely on completing his objective. Now, though, his ears twitched in search of a sound, his eyes scanned the area for any living creature, and his mind began stretching out its senses in search of any living thing. He continued walking towards the carriage, but his focus was on the world around it, searching for the cause of the silence…
The words nearly slipped past his ears, so softly were they spoken. He stopped in his tracks, raising his hands as magic swirled to his fingertips. Another look showed no signs of movement, but he knew what he had heard. Someone was hiding out there – and if one could hide from the Shadow Folk, they must have been very skilled…
The flash of motion in the corner of his eyes was all the warning Wayen received, but it served him well. Reflexes took over and propelled him to the side, so that all he felt was the wind whistling past his ears. He rolled to the side, barely recovered before he saw the black claw darting at his face, and threw himself forward into the dirt, watching the black nails slice into the earth.
Or rather, through the earth, meeting no resistance from the soil. Wayen's eyes widened at the sight, then he shot back to his feet and backpedalled several steps, putting distance between himself and his assailant.
At a glance, it might have been mistaken for a simple, ragged gray cloak floating on the breeze. But such notions vanished in light of the thin, gnarled claws emerging from the tattered sleeves, the black mist wafting out from the bottom of the cloth, and especially the sole glowing eye gazing out from the inky mass beneath the hood. Never before had Wayen seen one of these beasts, but he knew it at once:
…he cocked an eyebrow. "What, no lantern?"
A cackle escaped the creature, and glowing fangs appeared below its eye, in the shape of a grin. --i must have misplaced it…-- came its voice, louder this time.
Then, without another sound, it vanished.
Wayen hissed and jumped back another step, wary of those claws appearing from nowhere again. Intangibility and invisibility – those were the tricks of a Poe, and he would need several minutes of preparation before he could defend against them. But he didn't have minutes; he probably didn't have seconds. For now, though, he would settle for his sole advantage: 'An intangible Poe can only interact with its lantern,' he recalled from his studies. 'Without one, it'll need a physical, visible form to strike.'
It came a moment later, and the only forewarning was a shift in the wind as the claws whistled back into existence. 'From behind!' Wayen shot forward, dodging beyond the Poe's range, and spun about. His hands shot up, rippling with magic – too late. It had already vanished again.
This wouldn't work – the ghoul could play around with him fearlessly, just waiting for him to make a mistake. And eventually, he would; stamina wasn't his specialty. He needed distance and time, and he wouldn't get that here.
With a sudden burst of speed, Wayen turned and bolted straight into the forest.
* * *
--where arrrrrrrrrre you?-- the Poe called out, its ghastly voice still only going so far into the verdant sea. It passed tree after tree, always glancing about, always listening for movement, always tasting the air for the scent of its prey, and always hungering for a new soul to feast upon. Restrictions were so infuriating; with this live specimen, it would make sure to do things the right way. Slowly. Painfully. Draining the soul with all the care of a stampede of rolling Gorons.
It savored the thought, and the memories of past victims.
A speck of movement caught the ghoul's attention; turning that way, it happened to spy the boy – the Prey – leaping through the trees. Perhaps he was traveling by branches in order to throw the Poe off… It snickered at such futility. Such crazed tactics might have caught weakling mortals off guard, but they were useless dribble against a spirit of darkness.
It flew after him.
Branches, bark, leaves, more branches – the Poe shot through them without a sound, remaining intangible as it sought the prey. Prey moved well, even for a Sheikah, but he could hardly escape the ghastly pursuer. Through the bunches of leaves it could spot him leaping from branch to branch, sometimes glancing over his shoulder with a slight quiver in his eyes. Oh, what pathetic beings mortals could be…
A cackle threatened to escape it. The ghoul dove down, to a level just below the man's path, and shot forward – within a second, it was in front of him, and it hurried back upwards. Prey faced front just in time to see the Poe rematerialize – it could tell the instant he saw its golden eye shine once more. That look of shock was one it had seen countless times, but it savored every last one.
Its claws rose, and it shot towards its target –
But at the last moment, Prey angled himself downwards and dove beneath its fingers and fangs. It hissed with annoyance, spun down towards the ground…
The Poe floated there, dumbstruck by what it saw. Or rather, failed to see.
Prey was…gone. Simply gone! No sign of his passage, no sounds, nothing at all remained of him. The Poe's eye shot back and forth, covering the entire region. --nothing!?--
In an act of desperation, it bolted up through the canopy and cast its gaze all about the area. This time, though, it did not look with its eyes, but with its mind – seeking not a fleeing speck of frightened mortal, but the aura of such a being. With all animals in the region scared off by the Poe's very presence, that meant that Prey was the only living thing such sight would find…
--ther– wait, there?
--how did he-?!--
* * *
Wayen's weary form was waiting when the Poe bolted down from the skyline, rage evident in its very motions. Its dark presence pervaded the region, a cold breeze that made him shiver as its sole eye fell upon him. Despite such discomfort, he still had the gall to raise his hand and give it a tiny shake. He could see it in that eye – the disbelief. It still couldn't perceive how he'd gotten back here so swiftly.
He simply sat back against the Princess' ruined carriage and smiled.
It remained intangible and invisible, but his eyes fell upon it at once – Wayen had tuned in on its aura by now, so he no longer needed sight to find it. The ghoul seemed to notice this, slowly weaving around the area, glaring back as those red eyes never left it. Finally, it seemed to give up on the pretense and made itself visible once more, though not tangible.
They stared at one another for several long seconds.
Wayen broke the silence himself, as he rose to his feet and slung his cloak over his shoulders. "You are one of Ganon's servants, I presume?"
--no!-- He eyed the beast curiously, bewildered by its fervor…and by its sudden smirk. --i serve no one… i simply assist him, in exchange for many a meal.--
The Sheikah scoffed. Read between the lines – it was a servant of Ganon, and simply thought it had retained its independence. Ganon was offering it targets, and it was taking them of, no doubt, its own 'free will'. Hah! Next it would say that Ganon would let it leave this 'partnership' of theirs at any time…
He took a step to his right, and the ghoul followed suit, letting the pair circle each other pointlessly. "So the attack today was his doing, then?" An important assumption to verify.
--but of course,-- came the swift reply. --and i was sent to finish the job.-- It glanced around, then cackled softly. --a shame that ganon chose to attack the princess' carriage. much better defenses around that one; less deaths to feast upon.--
"I suppose," Wayen muttered, thinking of these so-called 'defenses'. Krin had been caught off guard; it was that braggart who had stepped in to save the carriage. A wandering vagabond with no place in Hyrule Castle, much less the job of guarding the Tri—
Oh, Dark World. He'd gotten distracted.
The claw was a mere inch from his face by the time he refocused—
It slashed right through him.
…and just like that, the illusion vanished.
Wayen leapt out from the shadows of the carriage, not giving the Poe a chance to realize what it had attacked – a mere Mirage Double. His hands glowing with a golden aura, he shot them forward, watching from above as the motion ignited the power within the trio of magic seals he had spent the last few minutes inscribing in the dirt. "Light Prison!"
Chains of light shot out from each seal, shooting straight for the Poe. With a gasp the ghoul shot forward, dodging one chain and taking another straight to his face, but not being ensnared. The Sheikah's mind raced as it recalculated and sent more chains out from the seals. Another pair bashed into its side, but its dodging ensured no firm capture. Nonetheless it slammed into the ground, and then – 'GOT YOU!'
One chain wrapped around the bottom of its cloak, snapping tight as it tried to flee. The seals sent out dozens more chains, each one finding its mark now. Within a second, the creature was entangled in a hundred restraints. Arms were tugged in both directions. Its neck played host to chains from all three seals – each one trying to drag it back to its own source. Captured by divine energy, the spirit couldn't even phase away. All it could do was scream its hollow wail and struggle against the unbreakable prison.
Wayen landed straight in front of it, arm outstretched. Sparks of light appeared and gathered around his fingertips… Then his hand… Then his entire arm was aglow with a brilliant luminance, shining so bright he had to shield his own eyes.
He smiled. The arm spun about, pointed directly at the ghoul.
--HOW CAN YOU USE LIGHT MAGIC!?!--
Shining like the sun itself, the spell pierced the night sky like a javelin and tore directly through the Poe. It was engulfed in an instant, before it even had time to scream. A never ending river of power formed of the sacred element of Light cascaded over the ghoul; Wayen could only guess as to what the magic was doing to it. Against a normal opponent this spell was described as a raging inferno; against a demon of darkness, the brilliant beam must have been agony incarnate.
He waited until the scream had stopped…then held it for a second more. Finally satisfied, the light faded away, until at last the moonlight had returned to prominence. Then he whipped his hand away, flinging the last traces of the spell into the dust. Where the Poe had been, only specks of light remained. No trace left of it either – good.
Only then did he reply to the ghoul's complaint.
"That's just my curse."
* * *
He knelt at the edge of the gaping hole from which the Moblins had climbed, fingers slipping through the cracks as he examined every last trace of energy in the area. The battle with that Poe had sent everything out of whack – he had to rush to get accurate readings, lest the aura from his Light magic corrupt the traces he'd been seeking.
Examining things with magic was like sprouting a sixth sense for the auras left behind from spells; even though the traces could not be seen or touched or tasted, he could still sense them and any of their irregularities. It sounded simple enough in theory…but he'd always struggled with it. 'Just like with all those other blasted elements…'
Within a few minutes, though, Wayen had his results, and had double- and triple-checked them. He sat back against the ground and gazed up at the stars, not exactly sure how to take this information. It could go either way, really…some of the implications were a relief…and others were absolutely terrifying.
"Don't jump to conclusions," he whispered to himself. "There could still be some Moblins out there in the world… The Gates could still be shut…"
Somehow, he didn't find that comforting.
Wayen rose after a moment and strode over to the carriage. There was something nagging his head now…something the Poe had said.
"…I was sent to finish the job…"
What 'job'? The Princess had been rescued and returned to the safety of Hyrule Castle… Anything valuable in the carriage had been brought back with her. If the job was to capture Princess Zelda, then the ghoul was several miles away from where it should have been. If it was to raid the carriage, that was also a useless gesture – and Ganon would not send a powerful creature like a Poe to do something so menial. 'What is he after this time?'
He examined the carriage and came up empty for clues; the thing didn't look like it had been touched for hours. With a weary sigh, he walked around to the back of it and glanced around… Nothing to be seen here—
'What is –' He came up short as his gaze found something on the edge of the woods.
That was it – that had to be it.
"Oh, Dark World."
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