Chapter 7: Heartless Slaughter
Rain pelted down upon the mountains, eroding away their proud peaks bit by bit, shortening their majestic height. High atop the summit of the highest mountain in the middle of a lake, a building stood, tall and proud.
Carved of blue stone, ornate designs and characters adorned its cool walls. Water poured freely from some recesses cut into walls, and down into the lake surrounding it. Lush grass grew around the edges, and animals freely roamed here and there, but never coming near enough to the palace-like building.
The animals spread as the great ornate doors slowly opened, pushed open by none. Still, something seemed a bit more ominous to the night now that the doors had opened, almost as though someone had loosed something of great terror upon the area.
From the depths of the Temple, a lone figure slowly glided forward, face hidden by the hood of their royal blue cloak.
A hand, scarred and delicate, came forth from the cloak, glowing with unnatural light that pierced through the ink black darkness. Through the silent night, a voice was heard, commanding, regal, and wise.
"Someone is coming seeking me once again…" the figure spoke softly. The person stepped forward and past the safe haven of land, and onto the glassy lake. There they stood, almost as though the water was solid land, staring into the night.
A soft, crooning language left delicate lips and floated into the air, as captivating as a sweet song. The water glowed with bright light, illuminating the dark night sky in all its entirety. Images flashed through the water… Prince Edward of Termina speaking to his council, Zelda looking through countless books, her mind filled with countless worries, the armies of Vandellus marching through desert to reach Hyrule, their armor gleaming victory and swords bloodstained. Last of all, the image of Link, rushing back to the Castle as fast as his legs might carry him, eyes filled with a determined and resigned look.
Silvery and musical laughter filled the air as the person released the magic, the lake returning to its former translucent surface. The laughter was filled with amusement, coldness, and mocking.
"Oh, how amusing," the person said, chuckle still in their voice. "That fool Prince Edward is threatening our beautiful land of Hyrule because he cannot have his way? I sympathize with Princess Zelda, it is truly a shame that she must be bound unto that boy… Still, this new development with the vow... It could prove a problem, no doubt that's why that Link boy is seeking me…"
A few moments passed before the person spoke again, their voice a low monotone.
"Well, this will be interesting. Never in my thousands of years of living have I ever encountered something like this…" they said, voice soft, "I suppose that I cannot Vandellus reach Hyrule while Link and Her Highness seek me, can I? Perhaps I can lend a bit of… assistance to the events. Maybe a bit of a push forward…"
They called out in the same strange language, voice carrying through the night air and projecting out toward the mountains.
Within moments a loud howl was heard, and yellow eyes with slitted pupils appeared in the night, flashing at the person. It seemed as though it were awaiting something…
"Old friend," the person said softly, extending a hand out toward the east. "Please go and deal with the Vandellus rabble. Injure enough of them so that their march is delayed for about a month's time."
The thing gave another low growl before the eyes disappeared.
"Now, Link. Let's see if your courage fails you," the person said, smiling.
"So the Silver Mountains," Zelda whispered, looking at the map before her.
"Aye," Link responded, lowering his head respectfully in Zelda's presence.
The fading lights of noon played upon the shelves of books, candles flickering in the fading light. Zelda and Link sat across from each other, both staring down at the map Link had obtained from Rauru. Upon arriving back from Rauru's Temple, Link had promptly asked for an audience with Zelda, and her attendant had responded that she would wait patiently in the library for him.
Zelda sat, hands crossed and face screwed in contemplation. Her golden hair tied up in the latest fashion and her body clothed in the finest materials. The golden tiara upon her head sparkled in the fading light. For a time, all that could b heard was the rain pattering outside the widows and the call of thunder across the sky.
"And her Temple has never been reached before…" Zelda whispered to herself quietly. She stood from her chair, making her way over to a bookshelf, heels tapping against the hardwood floor. "This will be difficult…"
"The Temple will be the hardest thing to brave," Link replied, staring up at Zelda. "It is full of monsters, traps, illusions, and a bloodthirsty beast."
Zelda smiled mischievously, blue eyes sparkling in the dim candlelight. Link knew that smile, it was the smile she used whenever she was going to do something outrageously insane that would undoubtedly end badly.
"My Lady, please don't tell me that you're-," Link began, his usually stoic expression changing into one of great fear.
"If I were to come with you, Sir Link, you would not have to brave a Temple, would you, Sir Link?" Zelda asked, smiling.
"Y-your Highness, you cannot accompany me, there is too much for you to deal with," Link stuttered, "Vandellus is marching, Prince Edward might shift alliance, and the vow must be broken. You must remain here at the Castle!"
"Sir Link,"' Zelda said, frowning, "The Sages are on our side. Earlier this night, Vandellus was ambushed by a beast of terrible power. It wounded more than half of their army, and killed a good portion. Now Vandellus began marching weeks ago, why is it that suddenly a being of great power decides to assist our army after we begin searching for Artemis, Sage of Cosmos?"
"Your Highness, are you implying that the beast belonged to Artemis?" Link asked, dumbstruck. The Sage who was said never to help others unless on the command of the Goddesses had assisted them? That was extremely strange…
"I think that she wants us to find her," Zelda whispered, smiling slightly. "She is a cunning person, isn't she?"
"Yes, she certainly is," Link murmured, looking into the flickering flame of a candle. Could Artemis not have done it for Hyrule, but to sate her own bloodlust? From Rauru's vivid description of the Sage's personality, it certainly seemed like a possibility. "And what of Edward?"
"I could not care less about Edward," Zelda responded, sighing tiredly. "He is a callous boy who knows nothing. It is only by my father's will that I am bound to him."
Edward was quite the baby. He had run off just because he couldn't have his way. Zelda, King Harkinian, nor any other Hylian had offended him in any grievous way. There was no excuse for him to act as he had, even if he was a boy, he wasa prince, and as such, such have higher standards of behavior than any other man.
"I will accompany you, Sir Link," Zelda murmured. "Artemis will not harm neither you nor I if I am present with you, will she?"
"She shouldn't… she is your guardian, is she not?" Link asked, "It is her duty as Sage of Cosmos to make sure that nothing evil ever befalls you, Highness."
Zelda smiled slyly as she spoke the next comment. "Isn't that your duty as well, Sir Link?"
"Yes, I mean no, I mean… oh…" Link stuttered. "Highness…"
Zelda sighed as she saw Link hide behind his mask of indifference yet again. "Link, where is the real you?"
Termina Castle loomed high above the tiny city of Clocktown. Its large, ornate towers pierced the dim gray skies and showed the true splendor of Termina to all foreigners. Wild winds and rain pelted against the majestic building, almost as if in an attempt to topple the castle and send it reeling to the ground.
A figure, hooded in the black of the night, stood near the gated entrance, and looked upon a lit window with an evil smile wrought upon its face.
The gates creaked eerily forward, and the person was easily admitted into the castle grounds, the same smile of death plastered on its features. As boots clacked against the cobblestone ground, Terminian guards heard the rabble and came, spears held clasped in hands, shield ready in the other.
"Freeze!" they shouted, glaring at the lone figure with malice. "You are not allowed within these grounds, turn back now, or we shall smite you."
The smile widened across the person's face and mocking laughter was released into the air as the person stood their ground, staring at the guards as though they were insane.
"Fools." The word echoed like thunder to their ears. It unnerved each man, even the bravest, their spears shaking in their hands.
Without hesitation, the cloaked figure ignored them and continued on toward the lit tower, ignoring all their calls of warning and heeding only their own agenda.
"Charge!" the captain shouted, pointing his spear toward the victim. The other men cried calls of war, their spears aloft and ready to kill.
The person simply stopped, turning a glare upon them. It raised a hand toward them before shouting out.
"FREEZE!" Instantly each soldier had frozen, as if held in time. Their deadly spears had stopped their relentless flow downward, and their expressions of surprise and horror remained etched on their faces.
The scarred hand lowered, the person's delicate lips set in a tight line.
"You've chosen death over life, poor fools," the person murmured, "May the Goddesses have mercy on your pitiful souls."
As though someone had slashed them, blood spurted from each man's body and mixed with the water from the sky. The figure didn't flinch or gawk in horror as each man fell to the floor in a symphony of screams, landing with a sickening pile upon the ground.
When the last man had fallen, the person looked up toward the tower once again, and began forward again, their blood drenched figure a fearsome sight to behold.
Reaching the tower's wall, they placed a hand upon it and spoke a few words. Like a specter, they rose into the air, a figure of horror. When they had reached the window, they threw a hand back and broke through, ignoring the glass shards that flew through the air.
Within, a young boy cowered in his night things, staring at the figure that stood on their windowsill, covered in the blood of his best guards. His eyes were wide with terror as the person advanced upon him, holding a crimson hand out in warning.
"Edward…" the person spoke, staring into the boy's wide eyes.
Prince Edward of Termina gasped as the figure spoke his name. He shivered in fear, and then spoke, voice shaking. "What do you want from me… W-who are you?"
"I am the Guardian of Hyrule… the Guardian of Princess Zelda…" the person said. "I have come to warn you… If you harm Hyrule, or any of her citizens, I will slaughter you without mercy…"
Edward shivered, knowing that the person was speaking the truth. Such bloodlust and power hung about this cloaked person, it was almost as though death itself was personified in living flesh. Every word was full of wisdom and coldness, sending unpleasant tremors down the length of Edward's body.
"Is this an empty threat?" Edward asked, still feeling slightly foolish.
Within a moment the figure had a bloody hand clasped around Edward's throat, narrowed gray eyes staring directly into brown.
"I could kill you right now," the person laughed, "Crush your throat, suffocate you, burn you to death. Behead you, perhaps… or rip open your chest and pull from it your beating heart… Does it seem like an empty threat to you, boy?"
Edward gave a strangled gasp, nodding as much as the uncomfortable hold would allow him. "Yes, yes, I understand! Let me go!"
The person threw Edward against the way before turning around and retreating to the window.
"Remember what I have said to you," the chilling voice said. "I will not hesitate to kill you, Edward, if you harm Hyrule. This is a promise from I, the Sage of Cosmos."
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