Prelude to Legends: The Hyrule Fantasy

By Christopher Blair

In a time before the Legends...
Before the Epic we know began...

Before a Man became a Monster...
Before a Hero would be born...
Before a Princess would be burdened...

The War had yet to begin...

Chapter 3
A Shadow's Embrace

Smoke rose into the sky as Regalas and Harkin raced down the dirt road. Both knew that Isagale was lost, but precious time had been bought for them to escape this far. It was still a three day journey to Hyrule Castle though, and Regalas could only pray that he and Harkin made it in time. He only knew that Ganondorf's forces would be held back for a short time, but how long, he did not dare even guess.
"We'll be to Jemsa soon," he stated to Harkin, knowing that the boy was bound to be both quite hungry and tired. Epona was showing signs of exhaustion as well, so if only for her to recover if nothing else, the stop had to be made.
"I can still hear the voices," Harkin whispered. Regalas narrowed his eyes. Isagale was too far to hear anything even with Hylian ears, so what voice could the boy be hearing? "Different from anything I've heard, they...they're telling me to go to the Gerudo Valley."
Something was wrong, Regalas knew it. The Gerudo were a fierce race, and they were Ganondorf's race. Despite claims that he had been exiled from their society, there was still worry that some may in fact be followers of his. "It's not much farther to Jemsa."

"Where is the child?!"
One of the few people in Isagale still alive, Nagar broke down crying at Ganondorf's demand. "I don't know, Sahasrahla told one of his guards to take him!"
"Take him where?!" the Gerudo spat in anger. All this nonsense was very much trying his patience. He had already killed the elder Sahasrahla, so that source of information was gone. "Tell me now, or I will deliver a very painful death, one that I will keep you alive through so that you can feel every moment of it!"
Nagar collapsed to his knees in tears. "They probably went to Hyrule Castle, it's where Sahasrahla would most likely send them."
Hyrule Castle. He had been heading there anyway, but this made thing all that more difficult. This guard and the boy he protected had already gained a huge head start. Then again, if the Knight of Hyrule were assembled to stop him, his own army would more than prove itself superior. "That's all I need know," Ganondorf stated as he turned away. "Kill him."
"But you said that you would spare me!"
"I never said such a thing," he replied, turning back to face Nagar. "I merely said that your death would be the most painful possible if you did not tell me. Instead, it will be swift." The Gerudo turned and nodded to Agahnim, leaving the Drow to handle Nagar's death. There was a scream, then the sound of a sword being quickly drawn, followed by a thud. Agahnim soon joined his master in looking over the newest additions to the undead troops.
"How much of a head start," Ganondorf questioned, "does this guard have over us?"
"About a day on horse, though it all depends on how well he knows the area." Agahnim magicked the blood from his sword before sheathing it, then drew his cloaks tightly around him. "Shall I send our beastmen to hunt them?"
A shake of the head. "No, let them go. Hyrule's armies will mean nothing to our forces by the time we reach the castle. What of the Drow with us that still live?"
"I sent them back to Kazah'dur to gather reinforcements," the Drow answered, noting that the skies were completely clouded over now. A thick blanket of red blocked out the sun totally, meaning that he need not worry now about the light from Hyrule's star. "Also to make sure that our, troubles there don't escalate. Ba'al at last report was gathering quite a bit of power, power he claims to be from a second Fallen God."
Ganondorf narrowed his eyes. He knew who Agahnim spoke of, even if the Drow himself didn't. It meant trouble, not a great threat, but still trouble. "Mephistopheles," he whispered. He knew this 'fallen god'. "He is a creation of my Father's, but in the end, he rebelled, wanting to be the master and not the creation. I have no doubts that he is Ba'al's new master."
Agahnim's eyes widened a bit with worry. The Dark God had created this master of his rival? Why had he never heard of this Mephistopheles before? And why had this creature rebelled against his creator, knowing that to try and overthrow Dragmire was futile? "This creature of Dragmire' he..."
"I hold more power than he could hope to," Ganondorf stated in reply, smirking as he saw a group of Drow approach. "You return! What news of Kazah'dur do you bring?"
The leader of the group bowed low to Agahnim. "My lord, we bring grave news," he began, sorrow in his voice. "Ba'al has taken over the throne, your father and brothers are all dead by his hand."
"What?!" the Drow prince bellowed. He turned to Ganondorf, the look in his eyes one of pure rage. "If he has already done this, Ba'al must be stopped before he can threaten your own design!"
"No power," the Gerudo said with an air of confidence, "but the Master Sword can face the might of the TryForce. Ba'al is hardly a Sword Magnus, so let him try and depose me from my birthright." He turned to the Drow party with a grin. "Gather our living troops, and bring what supplies we need! Agahnim, get the naz'gua moving. We're heading to Hyrule Castle."
"But what of Ba'al?"
Again, Ganondorf flashed his teeth in reply. "As I said, let him come. We'll see what power Mephistopheles has given him and how it fares against the power of the TryForce."

Night had alright come by the time Regalas and Harkin arrived in the town of Jemsa. The man reached an inn and managed to secure some rooms and a spot in the stables for his horse. Harkin, meanwhile, had taken the chance to get a sheath for the Master Sword that he could strap on around his back. He returned to the inn just as Regalas was paying for their dinners that evening.
"There you are," he remarked softly, noticing the back scabbard that the boy now wore. "I was wondering what was so important to get here."
Harkin nodded as he pulled up a seat and started eating. "I figured I might as well be able to carry this thing and have some free hands."
Regalas smiled. The boy was catching on to his task fast, but it was obvious there was a long way to go before he was ready to face Ganondorf. First and foremost would be Harkin's skill with swordplay. "Tell me," he begin. "Your father, he ever teach you how to fight with a blade?"
Harkin paused as he chewed a piece of meat and swallowed. "Other than some lessons with handling a boot knife, no." He suddenly went very quiet and silently continued to eat. Regalas could tell that the subject of the boy's family was still very sensitive.
"I'm sorry if it brought up pain," he said, then sipped down some of his ale. "Harkin, the reason I ask is because if you are the Sword Magnus, you've got to know how to use the Sword you're Magnus to."
A slight nod was the only reply the boy gave. Regalas could tell that he was still in shock from everything that had happened in such a short span of time, and he honestly couldn't blame the child. However, Harkin had to be ready when the time came.
"You'll start lessons tomorrow once we reach Dun Talerd."
Harkin finally looked up. "That's a Dwarf city, why are we stopping there?"
"Because," Regalas replied sharply. "It's on the way to Hyrule Castle, and they can put new shoes on Epona, I don't trust the blacksmiths around here with that kind of work."
"But the Dwarves-"
Regalas made a slashing motion across his throat. "They are great blacksmiths, and regardless of what feuds went on between them and us Hylians centuries ago, they deserve respect for their craft. Besides, they're just a part of the Empire as any other race."
Harkin was silent the rest of the meal. Regalas knew he shouldn't have been so harsh with the boy, but Harkin was hardly versed in the reality of the world. He had to learn that there was more to things that what you learned of the past. He also had to learn how to use a sword, and fast. If Ganondorf has somehow found out that Harkin was the Sword Magnus and still alive, he was bound to realize where they were going.
When morning came, they set out almost at once, Regalas using every shortcut he knew to get to Dun Talerd faster. It wasn't long before they had reached the Dwarf city, most of the city carved in the side of the mountain pass, just as most Dwarf cities were. Regalas took his horse to a blacksmith and managed to reach an agreement on price with the dwarf for new shoes on Epona. Since it would be several hours for the shoes to be made and fitted onto the horse's hooves, Regalas took the chance to take Harkin and start teaching him proper swordplay.
"First thing first," he began as he pulled off his leather overshirt. "Show me how you hold a sword."
Drawing out his weapon, Harkin held it as best he could. Regalas sighed at the rather obvious novice posture, reminding himself that this boy knew little to nothing of fighting, and what little he knew was with long knives, not full swords. "Alright, let's start you on something a bit smaller so you can actually hold it right." He pulled the knife out of its sheath on his boot and handed it to Harkin as the boy put the Master Sword back in the back scabbard.
"Now, watch how I hold a weapon," the man continued, pulling out the slim sword that was on a belt sheath. He held it at position for gripping a broad sword, watching as Harkin did his best to mimic the stance. "Good," he said approvingly, helping Harkin get better posture, then taking position again, this time opposite the boy. "Alright, basic blocking techniques. Left," and as he moved his sword, Harkin reposition his own to block. "Good. Now right, good. Now again left, this time, downwards."
Harkin quickly caught onto the exercise, soon getting into full motion of the basic movements. It was just as Regalas was about to move to a new lesson that the boy tilted his head to the west, in the direction of where they had come from. "Something's coming," he stated, ears almost twitching. "From Isagale, probably already reach Jemsa by now, or gone through."
"Ganondorf's army," Regalas realized, sheathing his sword before pulling back on his overshirt and bidding Harkin to race back into the city. "Hurry, we need to get Epona and leave as soon as possible!"
"But we're still two days from Hyrule Castle!" the boy exclaimed, then stopped as he felt a warning in his hearts. He turned just in time to see a cloaked form burst out from the shadows and leap at him. He quickly fell back as the form went over, getting up and holding Regalas' knife at the ready.
"A heavy price for the Sword Magnus," the creature hissed, drawing a pair of long thin swords from in the cloaks. "A pity, this was too easy!"
"Stand down, Gauru!" Regalas called. The Gauru merely snorted, then fell dead as an arrow sprang forth and pierced his head. The man narrowed his eyes while Harkin ran to his side, then pulled another arrow from the thin quiver pack Harkin now noticed was attached to the back of Regalas' overshirt. He strung it ready and let go, the arrow flying forward and striking down another Gauru. "They already have agents here," he whispered, then led Harkin back into Dun Talerd, racing to the blacksmith's just as the dwarf was finishing up with putting Epona's new shoes on her hooves.
"There's trouble," he start sharply, glancing back out of the city. "Gauru assassins are in the area, and an army of undead are on their way, we need to get out of here fast."
The dwarf narrowed his eyes in suspicion. "I thought something was odd about all this. Why are they after you though?"
Regalas growled and saddled Epona before helping Harkin up. "It concerns the fate of all Hyrule. Dun Talerd must be evacuated, because once that army reaches here, it will leave no survivors, just like it did to Isagale!"
With his warning, Regalas mounted Epona and spurred her into full gallop, leaving the dwarf blacksmith to watch in confusion. "Damn strange folk," he muttered, then felt a pain shoot through his chest while a warm wet feeling spread over his front. He looked down to see a Gauru blade sticking out of his chest, then collapsed when it was pulled out.
Hours later, when the undead army moved through, the city of Dun Talerd was in ruins, just like Isagale and Jemsa before it. Ganondorf frowned as he looked over the devastation, then turned to Agahnim. "They escaped again," he growled in frustration. "It seems the Gauru are not a reliable as their reputation would suggest."
"We do know that the Hylians left not long before we reached here," the Drow stated, hoping that such news would be welcome to his master. "That means within the day, we should have them."
"That's if they make another stop," Ganondorf finished. He looked around at the dead dwarves, and the fires that still burned and the destroyed city. "No, I doubt our friends will risk another delay. That guard knows we're following them, he'll ride as long as he can and take any route he knows to shorten their journey."
Turning on his heel, Ganondorf picked up a large sword from the debris of what had been the blacksmith's shop. "Not a total waste," he muttered, testing the sword's handling and finding it perfect to his use. He looked to Agahnim and smiled, then walked to the black horse in armor that awaited him. "They're headed for Hyrule Castle and the Temple of Time, that much is clear. Let them, I say, it'll make wiping them and the Knights of Hyrule out all that more enjoyable!"
Agahnim bowed and turned as the Gerudo rode off, then felt something in the winds. It was similar to the power he felt from his own master, but somehow, it was different. And then there was the familiar scent in the air. He turned to one of his Drow and narrowed his eyes. "Move the army on," he ordered. "Ba'al is close by, we don't need to risk the chance of his causing losses to our forces."
With a bow, the three Drow ran to get the undead troops moving, while Agahnim drew his sword and stepped out to the mountain pass that was entrance to Dun Talerd. "I know you're here!" he called out, cloaks flapping about his form in the now strong winds that had picked up. "Show yourself, Ba'al! You killed my kin, now show yourself to me!"
"Interesting," came the cold voice. A black shrouded form appeared before Agahnim, pulling back the hood of his cloaks to reveal a sharply defined Drow face and white hair. "We both serve masters who were spawned by Dragmire Himself," he continued, chuckling a bit as he paced before the Drow Prince. "However, my lord is a god, while yours is a mere God-blood."
"That God-blood holds the TryForce," Agahnim stated with an angry curl in his voice. "He is more than your master will ever be, and you and Mephistopheles know it."
Ba'al let out a laugh that echoed through the pass. "The TryForce?!" he scoffed, mocking the mere idea of someone holding more power than his master. "I assure you, Ganondorf ul Dragmire and his precious TryForce are of no concern to us! It didn't help your father and your brothers when I slaughtered them, what make you think it'll save you from death?!"
This time, it was Agahnim's turn to smile. "You can't kill what's already been dead," he stated, pulling his own face veil and hood off to reveal the scars on his face. "The TryForce is what gave me this new life," he continued, noting the look of surprise on Ba'al's face. All the better to convince the fool that he was playing the wrong game, that's all that mattered right now. "If it can bring life to the dead, what chance do you think Mephistopheles has against Ganondorf?"
Ba'al narrowed his eyes at the Drow Prince. Indeed, he had nothing to counter such facts. The armies of undead that Ganondorf commanded proved that the Gerudo had power over the dead, and the beastmen...they were something else all together. However, it was Agahnim that held his concern at the moment. If he indeed was rerisen from death as he claimed...
"I have other things to address before my task with you and Ganondorf," he finally said, turning and vanishing much the same as he had appeared. "But we will meet again, Agahnim."
The Drow frowned, knowing that Ba'al had something in mind. Now was not to time to dwell though; he had his master to catch up with. Turning and pulling his veil and hood back over his face, Agahnim sheathed his sword and mounted his horse, then rode off in the direction of Hyrule Castle. There was much to do, and not much time to do it in.

Even as Regalas pushed Epona as fast as she could run, Harkin heard a voice in the wind, telling him this time though of a great danger that was approaching from the shadows. "They're speaking again."
The man frowned. Hearing voices that had no owners was not unusual for Hylians; their ears were long and point for the very purpose of hearing the Gods. However, for Harkin to here a voice while he could not, that was the strange part. "We can't go to the Gerudo," he stated, holding Epona on her trail. "It's too much a risk."
"No, the voices are warning me," the boy clarified. That got Regalas' attention in full. "Another threat from the shadows has awakened, a creation of the Dark God."
Eyes narrow, Regalas knew he had heard of this tale. "The Lord of Flames," he whispered. He did not know the creature's name, but he knew the story, something that Sahasrahla had been most adamant about teaching him. "From the Shadows, his fire will burn the souls of the righteous, and into the darkness he shall bind those he claims."
"It won't be on the side of Ganondorf."
That caused Regalas to being Epona to a halt. "What did you say?"
"The Shadow," Harkin continued. "The voice is telling me, that it and its servant are not on Ganondorf's side, but its own."
Now Regalas was worried. Ganondorf's armies were bad enough, but a second force of darkness was trying to claim Hyrule as well? If it wasn't facing the power of the TryForce in evil hands, it was facing that and the Flame of Shadows at the same time. He looked down the road, then kicked Epona's side to get her back on the path. They had to reach Hyrule castle soon and warn the king of the now duel threats of Ganondorf and the Lord of Flames.
"Not more than half a day now," he whispered. Having skipped a stop in Ruto village, they had cut several hours from the journey, but it had resulted in Epona wearing out faster.
"There's a shortcut," Harkin muttered, then glanced into the nearby forest. "In there."
"The Lost Woods?!" Regalas gasped in shock. "Are you crazy?! No one's ever come out of there alive, and not from beasts! It's a maze that can't be navigated!"
"The voice is telling me it'll take us straight to Hyrule Castle."
The man narrowed his eyes again. He had his doubts, but this voice that spoke to Harkin seemed not to be straying them wrong so far. Perhaps they should have gone to the Gerudo Valley, it had been closer in travel to Isagale than Hyrule Castle, but his doubts about the Gerudo had prevented that. Now that he looked back, it might have been a mistake not to go there. "Into the Lost Woods it is," he muttered, coaxing his horse into the forest and soon finding them in a near repeating system of trees.
"To the North," Harkin stated. Regalas nodded and steered Epona as the boy directed, finding that it indeed brought them to a new area. As Harkin continued to give directions, Regalas was in constant shock that they were indeed navigating the forests. Soon, they came bursting out of the woods to find Hyrule Castle in the distance.
Regalas was amazed; in less than two hours, they had made what was a day's journey. He looked back into the trees, utterly astounded at the powers of the Lost Woods. "Never did I think..." He trailed off, then spurred Epona onto towards the castle, reaching the gates of the outer walls in little time. He and Harkin dismounted, allowing Epona to rest in a nearby stable while they raced to the castle itself. If not for Regalas being a known face, the guards would not have allowed them entry.
The two hurried through the halls of the castle, Harkin struggling to keep up with Regalas, but they soon reached the throne room, evidentially barging in during some sort of meeting. Regalas noted that it was becoming a habit of his to have such timing. "Highness, forgive me, but I bring grave news from Isagale!"
"Might I ask who you think you are?" one of the men in the room demanded. Regalas turn to face him, then ignored the remark.
"Highness Grevian of the Clan Alahyde, the worst of all fears has happened. The TryForce has fallen into the hands of evil."
As it had in Isagale, a whisper of horror echoed through the throne room. King Grevian stood from his throne and stepped down to Regalas, looking him over. "I recognize you well, Regalas Veradal dai Latyra," he stated calmly, then noticed Harkin standing behind the man. "This child, however, I do not know. Who is he?"
"This is Harkin Tridelan," Regalas replied, noting the disbelief in the room. "He is of direct clan blood, but that is not why he is here. Sire, Alahyde has chosen this child as the Sword Magnus, and he bears the Master Sword as proof of this."
Grevian knit his brow while examining Harkin, then looking closely at the Sword held on his back. "It is the Sword," he finally said, then rose to his full height. "Why is Sahasrahla not with you, Regalas? I trust he could better explain why you have come, and why the Sword Magnus has been chosen."
This explanation would not be easy to give. "He stayed behind to hold off Ganondorf's armies in Isagale," Regalas replied, sighing heavily. "I don't believe he survived, and I know he didn't expect to when he sent us here."
"The outcast?!"
Regalas turned to see a red haired woman stepping forward. Her rounded ears gave away clearly that she was Gerudo, but she had an unusually slim nose in comparison to the rest of her kind. "You are..."
"Nabooru, Queen of the Gerudo," the woman said sharply, then turned to Grevian. "If the outcast has attacked Isagale, then it can only mean he's gained demonic powers."
"Corrupted a Holy power is more like it," Regalas corrected, keeping his eye on the Gerudo woman. "He's obtained the TryForce from the Realm of Light, and he's killed Harkanian and Latyra, this news was given to the boy by Alahyde Himself!" He noticed the whispers of horror again floating through the room. "Ganondorf is indeed the son of Dragmire, as he has claimed, and it seems that the Dark God is now putting in motion a plan to conquer not just Hyrule, but the entire cosmos!"
"Then he must be stopped at all costs!" Nabooru said in agreement. Regalas was surprised for the Gerudo to take his side; as one of Ganondorf's race, she should have held some sympathy for the thief king. Evidentially, she had read his thoughts. "Despite he was to be our King," she stated, looking to Regalas. "Ganondorf broke the most sacred of all Hyrule's laws and killed a member of the Clans most willingly and knowingly. That is why we exiled him, and that is why we will stand against him."
Grevian nodded to the Gerudo, then looked to the others in the room with a deep gaze. "Normally, I'd call a council of war to debate this matter," he stated, then narrowed his eyes. "However, since our enemy is even now on its way here, there is no time. As king of all Hyrule and thus all kingdoms in the Empire, I call on all the Knights of Hyrule to muster and defend against the dark threat of Dragmire's spawn. I expect you all to call on your own armies to help in this action."
"There hasn't been war in three hundred years!" one of the men in the room shouted as he jumped up from his seat. "Galia will not join any aggression, we have no need to fight!"
"Have you not paid attention?!" Regalas snapped in anger, pointing to Harkin, or more exactly, and the sword on Harkin's back. "The Sword Magnus has been chosen, the Sacred Blade has been awakened! The TryForce has fallen into the hands of Evil! What other signs do you need that this is the darkest hour we have yet faced?!"
A snort came from the man's lips. "You claim that this boy was told by the God of Wisdom that His Brothers are dead. Nothing can kill a God, soldier, so I very much doubt that this story holds much truth."
"Perhaps you should study the prophecies more," came a harsh voice. A man dress in simple robes stepped into the chamber, bowing slightly to the king, then standing besides Regalas. His eyes seemed to tell that he knew exactly what was going on. "If you had, you would know that this was all foretold long before even the Drow exiled themselves into Kazah'dur!"
"Raura," Regalas whispered to Harkin. The boy could see the reverence in the man's eyes, then looked to the sage. It was all too obvious almost everyone in the room gave Raura great respect.
"Nahz ahg, duradai. Itk grah, girathidan. Thrakatulika, nazg gah, Dragmire iskodah, muridah Kazah moriak danakur!" Raura bellowed. The light in the throne room seemed to die as he spoke those words, while a rumble shook through the entire castle. Everyone stared in shock at the sage, but he gave no apology for his words, not for the tongue that they belonged to.
"No one," Grevian said with fright, "has ever dared speak that tongue on these grounds, Raura. You know very well why."
The sage nodded. "Indeed, highness. However, it is a language which must be said, if only to show a small taste of the horrors to soon befall all of Hyrule!" He turned to face Regalas, then looked to Harkin. "You don't know this tongue," Raura said softly. "Thus, I shall tell you what it means. I will tell all of you." He took a deep breath, looked at the people in the room, and began. "It means plainly, that by Dragmire's hand, the blood of the Gods shall be spilled in their realm. Their greatest gift to Creation shall be stolen by his spawn, and all the universe shall see a shadow of evil blanket all things! That is what we see before us, Lord Berath, and unless this army of Ganondorf ul Dragmire's is stopped, the universe shall see death pour onto all life!"
The man who had objected to war, Berath, looked around for support in his words, but found none. He stood alone in his stand. "Very well," he growled. "Believe this Drow spun horror tale! You all know that only they would foretell such a thing!"
"Those words were spoken long before the Drow became so," Raura stated firmly. "They did not tell of these events, and though Dragmire Himself did, it is coming true. Harkanian and Latyra are dead, the TryForce had been claimed by Evil, and as you see before you, the Sword Magnus stands, ordained and blessed by Alahyde Himself!"
Berath glared at the Sage of Time, then stormed out of the throne room, but not before turning to those that remained. "Galia will not aid your war," he spat. "Expect no aid from us. Merely because you hold the seat of rule to the planet does not mean you can just go storming off to battle."
He then turned and left. Regalas moved to stop him, but Raura shook his head to the man, both knowing that Berath would never be convinced otherwise of the world's plight. The Sage turned to everyone that had stayed with a firm look in his eyes. "The forces of all Hyrule will never be assembled in time," he stated. He then looked to the female aide that stood beside the king. "Impa, I have need of your abilities," he stated, his eyes wandering now to a girl who only now just arrived in the throne room. "Take the princess to your people."
"What?!" the girl exclaimed, not knowing what was going on at all. "Why do I have to leave, what's going on that need me away from the castle?"
Raura finally broke a soft smile and stepped over to the girl. "Princess Celestia, war is coming, and I'm afraid you will not be safe here. With the Sheikah though, you will be." He then looked back to Impa, nodding to the white haired woman, then turning his eyes to Grevian. "I'm sure we both can agree that this is best."
As much as it pained him, the king nodded. "Leave as soon as possible," he stated to Impa, his eyes though on his daughter. "And assemble the Sheikah warriors. I'll stay here and assembled the Knights that are at the castle while messengers send word to those nearby."
"Father, no!" the princess cried. Fear was in her eyes now, incomparable fear. "My dreams, you know what they've told me!"
"And I'm only sorry I didn't believe them to be speaking of now," Grevian replied as he held Celestia's hand. "You must go with Impa though to the Sheikah. You will be safe there." He turned to Regalas and gestured for the man to kneel. "Hand me your sword," he stated, Regalas obeying at once and falling to his knees. As Grevian lightly placed the blade of the slime sword on the young man's shoulders, he knit his brow. "Regalas Veradal dai Latyra, son of Eldran and descendent of the Clan of Courage. You kneel a guard to the elder of you Clan, but you shall arise a Knight of Hyrule. As your task, you will be protector to the Sword Magnus until the threat to all Hyrule is over."
He pulled away the blade and nodded for Regalas to rise and take back his weapon. "Now that the formality of all that is done," the king cracked. "Let's get to work. Impa, you and Celestia leave at once for your people."
"At once," Impa replied, nodding to the princess and walking out of the chamber. Celestia looked to her father, then followed Impa, tears breaking down her cheeks. Grevian turned to Raura and sighed.
"This is going to be a long one," he muttered. "Isn't it, old friend?"
"Until Ganondorf is robbed of what he has stolen," Raura replied, his eyes telling of his own worries. "Alahyde gave me vision that even if we turn ul Dragmire's armies here, shadows will still befall Hyrule. There is more to the prophecies than what I told. Five years of Darkness will engulf the world until the Sword Magnus faces the Dark Lord. The end result of that, I do not know, for prophecy merely tells the road that will be traveled, not the destination of the journey."
The king nodded sadly, knowing well what the Sage meant. They only knew the way things would go, but not how they would end. Ganondorf still could destroy his foes and become the supreme ruler of all Creation. If that was not enough, it was obvious that the Sword Magnus was no warrior, nor in what little time they had left could he be prepared. There was little choice however, and there was no time left; they needed the Master Sword.
"Regalas, stay with the child," he finally stated, then turned to the other rulers and nobles in the room. "Return to your homes as fast as you can. Through gate or the seas, I don't care, but the armies of Hyrule must be mustered to face the threat of Dragmire's son.
"What of Galia and Berath," one of the nobles asked. "What stand to we have on them?"
Grevian sighed in remorse. "He will not aid us, and as such, we can expect no aid from Galia. Send a messenger to the Harkanians in Catalia, inform them that the worst has come to pass and the God of Power has been slain. We will need their forces to combat Ganondorf's armies."
As the nobles bowed to the king and left, Grevian turned to the trio of Knight, Sage and Sword Magnus. "Raura," he stated. "Take the child to the Temple of Time, he must be kept safe. Regalas, come with me. You need to be properly outfitted at a Knight."
"No offense," the archer said with respect. "But the armor of the knights would not aid me. I'm an archer, and heavy armor would only hinder my abilities."
Grevian broke a smile at the young man and nodded. "I should have expected that. Alright, light armor for you it is and a new bow just in case your own fails. When we're done, I want you to join Raura and the boy in the Temple, you must stay with him at all costs."
Regalas nodded and followed the king while Raura led Harkin out another door and through the castle. The boy looked around at the corridors, then finally noticed the temple as they reached outside. "Is that where we're going?"
"Yes," Raura replied, his voice calm. "That is the Temple of Time, my charge in my task as Sage for the Gods." He ushered the boy inside and took a seat while waiting for Regalas to arrived. "Might I ask, where are your parents if Regalas brought you here."
Harkin lowered his head. Again, he saw those images flash in his mind, his mother screamed as she was murdered, his father begging the Drow in vain to spare his family. "The Ulgranda attack my home," he whispered, hoping he would not have to continue. He looked up at Raura to see the old man nod and not press the issue. Somehow, he already knew.
"It is best to face what troubles you," the Sage mused softly. He looked at the boy with a smile. "Only by accepting that it is done, well, that's how you will conquer it. But by all means, you must face it when the time comes."
Harkin nodded and took a seat on the ground, his gaze find the symbol of the TryForce above what appeared to be a huge stone door. "What's behind there?"
Raura looked back to where Harkin was staring and knit his brow. "Those are the Doors of Time," he stated, his voice now not so calm. "What lies behind, I do not know, they have been shut tight since this temple was placed here by the Gods. Not even legends give any clue to what the doors hide."
Harkin could only gaze at the doors, and still was when Regalas arrived. The man was now clad in a chain shirt made of blue mithril under a new tunic. Like his old overshirt, the tunic had a quiver built in on the back so that he wouldn't be at a loss for arrows. The man looked to Harkin, then glanced to Raura. "How long as he been like that?"
"Since we arrived in here," the Sage replied with a smile. "Such a young mind trying to solve the riddles of the Temple. I only pray that he is safe in here until he must act on his fate."
A trumpet could be heard, Regalas instinctively readying his bow, but Raura bade him to stand down. Both knew that the battle had now begun, but it was far to soon; Ganondorf's armies were at least a day from the castle, and they did not have the grace of the God of Wisdom to guide them through the Lost Woods. How could the forces of Dragmire have reached their destination so soon?
Suddenly, a scream came just before a knight crashed through the doors of the temple. Regalas raised his bow and strung it with double arrows. He expected the undead Drow, beastmen, or even Ganondorf himself, but not the single man who stepped into the temple. He was armored in pure black, a cloak billowing around him, and a sword that seemed made of fire in his hand. The blue skin and white hair marked him as a Drow, but something about his black eyes suggested he was no longer such.
"Who are you?!" Regalas demanded, ready to fire should the man make any aggression. His eyes moved to the knight that had been flung through the doors, only to see him writhing in agony, as if he were burning from the inside out. It was then that Regalas felt something from this man; a pure evil, like nothing he had ever felt before. There was no doubt in his mind now that this was the servant of the Lord of Flames. Enemy of Ganondorf's or not, he was just as much a threat to Hyrule.
"I am called Ba'al," the man replied, brandishing his sword and grinning coldly. He took a step forward, shocking the three Hylians as nothing happened to him upon touching the threshold of the temple. "And as you can see," he continued, his cold smile not waving. "The power of your Gods means nothing to that of my master Mephistopheles."
So that's the beast's name! Regalas thought. He let his arrows fly without a second thought, but they were blocked by Ba'al's sword, incinerating the arrows into nothing. The Hylian knight gasped in horror, then restrung his bow with two more arrows.
"Why waste the ammunition?!" the demonic empowered Drow laughed as he continued to walk towards the Hylians, again vaporizing the arrows that Regalas fired. "I am the hand of Mephistopheles, and once we are done, He will be God over the universe! No Ganondorf, no Dragmire, no Alahyde, just Mephistopheles!"
Now drawing his own sword, Regalas backed away to keep guard over Harkin and Raura. "You don't yet realize who you face? The Sword Magnus has been anointed, Ba'al! The Blade of Evil's Bane has been awakened, and the time of the Dark God's end is at hand!"
Ba'al stopped as he looked past Regalas to Harkin. This boy was the savior of Hyrule?! A child was Alahyde's champion? What could a child possibly do against the armies of Dragmire, let alone against the Dark Gods. "This is who Alahyde chose?!" he bellowed in amusement. "A boy?! Alahyde must be even stupider than I thought, no child could stand against the power of my master, let alone Dragmire! Your precious God of Wisdom obviously has no love for your kind, Hylian, if he anoints a pathetic child as the Sword Magnus!"
"That He chose an innocent soul is proof that He cares," Regalas snapped back in reply. There was no doubt in his hearts that he was right, that the reason Harkin was chosen was because Alahyde loved those He had created. "Harkin is of the Goddess' Beloved, he is the innocent soul, and he is the one who will defeat your master and Ganondorf!"
"He has to live first." Ba'al let out a yell and raced at Regalas, attempting to move around the Hylian knight and get to Harkin, but he was stopped by the archer's sword. The smile that had been permented on his face finally fade as he realize that the Hylian was not about to let any harm come to the boy. "You're a fool," he spat, falling back and readying his sword. "Your only reward in guarding him will be death at my hands, and my sword will bind you into the darkness that is the Inferno!"
"The righteous have no fear of the Inferno," Regalas stated as he kept guard over Harkin and Raura. "Only the wicked are condemned to its fires, and you most certainly are bound to that place."
Ba'al growled and slashed again with his fiery sword, only for Regalas to again block the blow. It was then that he chuckled, noticing the strain in the Hylian's eyes. "You feel it, don't you?" he taunted, pushing harder with his weapon against Regalas' sword. "The fires, the torments that await those condemned to eternity in the Inferno. That is what my sword is, Hylian; a gate for the Inferno's power, condemning those who die by it to forever burn. The righteous or the wicked, it matters not to the Fire. In the end, all will be bound into the darkness!"
Ba'al gasped as a blazing light barely missed cutting into him. Standing there, with the Master Sword in hand, was Harkin, the child Sword Magnus. The blade of his weapon shined madly, causing Ba'al to back away. The fear that his own sword caused to its enemies was nothing compared to the sheer terror this blade instilled into him from just being near it.
"Harkin, get back!"
The boy ignored Regalas, holding the Master Sword out in challenge to Ba'al. The deadly look in his eyes was more than enough to say that despite he had no skill yet, he was not about to let this go on. "I don't know just who your master is," he stated, stepping forward. "But if I am fated to face Ganondorf and the power of the TryForce, then I must face you and your master as well!"
Ba'al again backed away, then growled. How dare this child think to challenge the might of Mephistopheles! How dare he even think to go against the hand of the God Demon! Surely this boy would suffer most in damnation once he was dead, it was the least he deserved for thinking he could fight the dark powers. "You shall burn the most," he snarled, raising his sword in ready. "I shall indeed have fun killing you!"
"Your fight is with me!" Regalas cut in, moving to keep Harkin behind him. "He is not ready to meet his fate, so I'll fight for him!"
The demonic Drow laugh and was about to attack when a sudden rumble shook the Temple of Time. He looked back and narrowed his eyes. "He's already here?!" Ba'al whispered, then turned back to the Hylians. "It appears this must be ended faster than we had planned." He rush forward, Regalas deflecting away the flaming sword and kicking Ba'al hard in the face. The archer pulled back, forcing Harkin and Raura to move towards the Doors of Time. Unless something cause Ba'al to break off soon, they didn't have a chance of survival.
It was then that Ba'al froze, turning to see a tall form in the doorway. The figure stepped forward, flames crackling as he set foot on the temple threshold, but they had no effect on him at all. He smiled and drew out a large blade from his cloak. His red hair and large sloped nose gave him away as Gerudo, and as only one male was born to the Gerudo every century, he could only be one person.
"Ganondorf," Raura gasped, horrified that such a pure evil being could set foot in the Temple of Time. Ba'al had the protection of Mephistopheles, but Ganondorf, he had nothing shielding him from the sacred wards of the Gods, the fact that fire had indeed burst around him was proof, but he was untouched by the protection the Temple had.
"That I am," he stated, chuckling and walking forward. "It seems that the Lost Woods hold quite unique properties. If one navigates them properly, they can reach a destination within mere hours instead of days." He glanced to Regalas and Harkin, knowing quite well that they had gotten to the castle the same way. "And now, Ba'al, if you would be so kind as to step aside and let the true Lord of Darkness handle the Sword Magnus, I may consider sparing your miserable life."
Regalas stared in horror at the two. It was now that he realize Ba'al and Ganondorf were very much the same; both serving Dark Gods, both condemning innocents to death, but the difference was, Ba'al condemned the innocent to damnation against their choice. At least if Ganondorf killed them, they had a chance to join the afterlife and join with the TryForce...but that thought shattered when he remembered that Ganondorf held the TryForce. One way or another, those lives were in torture for eternity unless this war ended.
His eyes moved to the Doors of Time. No one knew what lay beyond, nor how they opened. As he sheathed his sword, he looked at the alter before the doors and saw the answer. Carved into the stone was again the mark of the TryForce, but another carving was there; the shape of the Master Sword, detailed and pointing to what looked like a slot just wide enough for the Sacred Weapon's blade to slide in.
"Harkin," he whispered. "The Master Sword is the key. It's the key to opening the Doors."
"What good is that gonn'a do now?"
As Ba'al refused to let Ganondorf have his claim, the Gerudo caught notice of the trio in the corner of his eye. While his ears could not hear the whispers, Regalas' gestures were more than enough to tip him off. "You fool," he growled, pushing past Ba'al. "They've found how to open the Doors of Time!"
"Harkin, do it!"
The boy, not truly understanding, thrust the Master Sword into the slot. Light suddenly burst forth as the Doors slowly slid open, causing Ganondorf and Ba'al to shield their eyes. Harkin pulled out the Sword once the doorway was open, backing up the stairs, but not entering the Doors.
"Regalas, come on!"
The archer looked back but a moment, then drew his sword again while guarding Raura. "You've failed!" he called to both Gerudo and Drow. "The Sword Magnus will live to bring end to both of you!"
"Not if his life is mine," Ganondorf growled, leaping forward and over the Hylians to land before Harkin. He grinned as he reached forward at the boy, only for a sharp pain to shoot through his arm. It was no pain he had felt before though, it was like fire burning through him; Harkin had struck him with the Master Sword. He glared at the boy, rage now forming from this simple child. "You don't wish to enter the Doors," he whispered, then swat the child hard sending him flying through the Doors and into the light that lay beyond them. "Then so you shall become one with what lies beyond!"
"Harkin!" Regalas screamed, but he knew it was too late. Even as he moved to helped the boy, Harkin was already engulfed by the light beyond the Doors, all that remained of him the Master Sword as it clattered to the ground, going dark as it had been when it rested in the Temple of Light. Regalas and Raura could only stare in horror, knowing from that simple sign that Harkin had been lost, and with him, all hope.
The Sword Magnus was gone.

To Be Continued...

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