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 6
The Return of the Sword

The scream of mixed anger and terror echoed through the valley. Even over the screams of pain that came from the burning Drow it rang, halting the battle completely. The once undead corpses began to rot rapidly once time caught up with them, and Agahnim, armored though he was, still felt the burn of the once more revealed sun, the heart of all Creation, the star Ieyadon.
And through it all, almost untouched by the five years that had past, stood the Sword Magnus Harkin Tridelan, clad in shining armor and holding tightly to the Master Sword. Though he looked to have not aged at all, anyone who peered into his eyes could see that ages of experience had touched the boy.
"Stand down, son of Dragmire," he stated, raising the Sword to point at Ganondorf. Harkin took a step forward, the beastmen who were not blinded by the sun making way for his passing. Even they could sense an aura about him, a commanding one that they dare not invoke. "Stand down and relinquish the TryForce."
The Gerudo man snarled at his enemy. How had the child returned, how had he escaped what lay beyond the Doors of Time? They could only be opened by the Master Sword, and no one but the Sword Magnus could even touch the hilt of the Sacred Blade. How had this happened? "I don't know how it is you stand here now," he spat in anger, drawing readying his own sword. "But I will never relinquish the TryForce, especially not to a child like you!"
The child narrowed his eyes, revealing a fire that Ganondorf had seen before in the eyes of the Gods before he had killed them. "Then you shall be forced to surrender."
Those words suddenly sent a chill down Ganondorf's spine. That this boy could say them so clearly, so full of confidence and force, it frightened him, truly frightened him. Something had touched this boy's soul in his time beyond the Doors, something had gifted him with so much power that he could put such fear into the heart of a virtual God. It was no long the Sword he bore alone that caused worry, this child, as he stood, even if he had not the weapon of the Gods, could have said those words and still had the same effect.
And a now named fear tore into Ganondorf's soul. He could not fight this boy, not now with so much of his armies wiped out in a single ray of sunlight, so many of his forces burning from the light of Ieyadon. He had to fall back, create a new plan to wipe out his enemies. Let Mephistopheles and his servant handle things until he was ready, they too would be wiped out soon enough, but the Sword Magnus had to wait.
"That shall be decided another time," the Gerudo whispered, and as he raised his hand, he, Agahnim, and what remained of his army vanished in flames. The Galians found themselves abandoned by their lord, now surrounded by the Gerudo, and surrendered.
Harkin lowered the Master Sword, then finely spun it by the hilt in his hand and placed it on the back of his armor when it stayed, held on by some kind of magical force. He held his hand to Regalas and smiled when the man accepted and rose to his feet. "It's been a while."
"By God," the Sage whispered, looking Harkin over in wonder. "It is you. Harkin, you came back! You've grown like a weed, but you don't look much older than you were five years ago."
Harkin's smiled didn't fade, but he nodded and looked towards the field where battle had been, seeing the dead bodies of the slain. Not surprisingly, almost the entirety of those fallen were members of Ganondorf's armies. "It seems that I was returned here just in time," came his soft voice, eyes now devoid of the rageful fire that had only moments before been in them.
"What happened to you?" Regalas asked as he walked alongside the boy towards the city. "When Ganondorf sent you beyond the Doors and into that light, I thought..."
Again, that warm smile. "It was Time itself that was beyond the Doors," Harkin answered. He paused, as if trying to find the right words to explain. "I have aged, but only a little in the body. My mind is what aged the most while I was there. It may have been five years to you here, but for me, an eternity passed by, preparing me for my fate as Sword Magnus."
He looked to see the other five Sages racing out of the city to join them, Raura and Impa gasping once they saw his face and recognized it. "The child Harkin?" Raura gasped, amazed that the boy had been returned to them. "How?"
"It can be explained later," Regalas replied, ushering them all back to the Spirit Temple. "We have more pressing matters. Ganondorf is bound to be rebuilding his armies with this reversal, we have to be ready."

High in the dark tower that stood in the ruins of Hyrule Castle, Ganondorf slammed his fist through a stone table, collapsing it under the force when it cracked and shattered. "How?!" he screamed, looking about for answers even though he knew there would be none. "How could he have come back, the Doors were sealed!" Again, part of the chamber was destroyed in his rage, but the dark king knew that tearing apart his own tower would not solve his problems.
"I believe the answer lies with Alahyde Himself," Agahnim stated. Ever since returning from the now sunlit Gerudo valley, he had wrapped himself in cloaks, his face masked in a red fabric cover. "It may be that your Uncle broke open the Doors to release the Magnus, though we probably can never be sure exactly what opened the Doors of Time."
Ganondorf finally began to calm down, then turned to see the form of the black haired man appeared in the room. Agahnim instantly bowed as he recognized who it was, while Ganondorf merely nodded. "You've returned to visit me after all these years, Father?"
The dark God Dragmire nodded, but there was no smile on his face as there once had been. His eyes were filled with a fury, one that Ganondorf knew was because of the failure at the Gerudo Valley. "The child is a threat," he plainly stated, walking past his son and taking seat in the throne of the room. "More of a threat than My Brother Alahyde, the Magnus is the greatest threat to everything I've planned."
"How is this mortal child so powerful?" Ganondorf asked. "Something about him frightened me back in the valley, and I don't know why."
Dragmire narrowed his eyes deep in thought. "He hold the power to take from you the TryForce," he finally answered. "The Master Sword is a powerful weapon, so powerful that it took all four of My siblings to forge it. The Sword was made from the power that is Ieyadon's heart, Ganondorf, it slays any evil, and that includes Gods of evil." He took what seemed to be breath. "Even I could not stand up to its might if I were struck by the blade."
He turned once more to his son. "That is why the Sword Magnus must be killed. By your hand or Ba'al's, I don't care, but he must die or he will destroy your power." Dragmire had a worried look on his face as he sat back in the throne. "I very much need you," he stated. He and Ganondorf both knew that the need was out of purpose and not love, but it served the same in Ganondorf being kept around. After all, a God-blood with the power of the Gods was a resource not to be wasted.
"Do what you can and make sure he is terminated." Dragmire stood from the throne and stepped towards the doors of the chamber before turning to face his son and Agahnim. "I wish you well, you will not see Me again until I feel it is required." And he vanished.
Ganondorf turned to his lieutenant and nodded. The Drow bowed before leaving his master, rushing to prepare a new army. The beastmen of the Dark World had been very useful, perhaps he could find other creatures that would serve just as well.

Night at last returned to the Gerudo Valley. The bodies of the dead had been taken care of and buried underneath the sands of the desert while the wounded of the Gerudo and the Galians were tended to. It had surprised those from Galia that the Gerudo did not slaughter them all, but instead aided their recovery, despite that they were enemies. Such kindness caused many to turn down being sent back to Galia and instead aid the Sages and the Sword Magnus in anyway they could. The Galia prisoners also felt such need when they discovered their well treatment.
Many of those that had joined the battle against Ganondorf were present at the funeral for Nabooru. Her former aid Iria set Nabooru's own scimitar upon the funeral pyre, while Regalas placed the pendent he had worn that was a gift from Sahasrahla with her before the pyre was set ablaze. Harkin, despite that he had not at all known Nabooru, was indeed there, still in his armor. It was not until the ceremony had finished that he finally brought up the subject on everyone's mind; the siege of Ganondorf's tower.
"We'll need the Sheikah," the boy stated as he headed up the gathering of Sages. He glanced to Impa who nodded her agreement. "If possible," Harkin continued, glancing to Darunia."The Gorons will be greatly needed. I know that your people have not fought since the war a thousand years ago, but this war we fight now it that for all Hyrule. Already entire continents on the other side of the planet have fallen to Ganondorf, Galia pays allegiance to him, and the entirety of Tylon is subjugated."
"We will do what we must," the Goron Sage replied, nodding his head to state his commitment. "I'm afraid that I cannot gather my people in Dra'gorah, but those in the Carath city Dra'moria will rally to my call, be certain of that."
Harkin sighed as he looked at the map of Tylon. "Do you think," he mused loudly, "that we may be able to get help from the Drow of Durin?"
Impa was uncertain as she gave no definite reply. "I will seek their help," she stated. "But I cannot make promises for them. I will leave at once though to gather the Sheikah in Tylon."
He nodded his thanks, then turned to Raura and Regalas. "This is where I need you two," he stated, then pointed to where Ganondorf's tower was marked on the map. "The Temple of Time is very focal to this plan, so I need Raura to go with me back there so we can open the Doors of Time again."
"What good will that do us?" Regalas asked. He very much remembered what had happened last time the Doors were opened.
"Trapping Ganondorf for eternity." The oldest Sage smiled as he realized the purpose of Harkin's plan. "Once he's lost the TryForce, we'll seal him as we had planned to do, except he'll be locked away in the fabric of time, with no way to free himself, Dragmire will have lost his greatest servant."
Something still was left even if that did succeed. "What of Ba'al," Regalas asked again. "Surely he will make a bid to claim the TryForce for Mephistopheles."
There was a nod from Harkin, but a smile as well. He had something already planned for that event. "He will be sealed behind the Doors with Ganondorf," he stated. "Those two can fight it out for eternity then, though once Ba'al is cut off from his master, I doubt he'll last long against Dragmire's son."
"A God-blood is much stronger than a simple Drow," Raura said in agreement, but still he knit his brow. "However, I'm not so sure it will be possible to trap both of them, let alone one. Perhaps we should look at the possibility of destroying them both."
"I will not fall to their level," the boy stated firmly. The Sages looked at him in shock, that he refuse to kill those that would kill him if they even had the chance. "They deserve to die, yes, that is true, but many who deserve death live, and many that deserve to live have died. I do not wish to take their lives unless there is no other choice, and we have a choice. The Doors of Time will not open unless by the power of the Master Sword, that is why I was released."
It finally came to them, why the Doors had opened for Harkin to return. "The Master Sword knew that you were ready," Regalas gasped. It all made sense now, but they had not thought about it before, that it was possible the Master Sword had a sentience of its own when needed. "So how do we bait them to the Temple?" he continued in questioning. "It's not like Ganondorf goes there daily for worship, the man hasn't set foot in there since he sent you beyond the Doors, no one has save myself, Darunia, and Nell."
"What does Ganondorf want now more than anything," Harkin said, placing the question before everyone. "Who is it that is the greatest threat to his power, to his dream? Me. I'm the Sword Magnus, I wield the Sword that can slay both him and his father Dragmire. So long as I live and hold the Master Sword, he can never truly be safe, until I'm dead." He then grinned. "Which means all I need do it put myself in the open at the Temple of Time."

Out far from Tylon in Holodrum, a couple and their son were making their way towards Tylon, riding in a covered wagon. The family had recently been forced to leave their home on the farm they once worked for a wealthy landowner, only to be replaced by his own relatives, but they felt they could find new opportunity in the heart kingdom of Hyrule.
Amid the depressing air that permeated their surroundings, the child had managed to remain a beacon of happiness for his parents, reminding them that as long as they had each other, they still had hope.
All that came to a halt when the black light tore open before them. The horses reared up in fear as a pale man clan in black armor walked out. His black hair was rough and long, his skin almost white as that of a corpse, but their was an unnatural sense of beauty about him. He most certainly was not Ba'al, but like Ba'al, this man wore a skull on his chest plate, the mark of Mephistopheles.
He stepped towards the family, each pace seeming to shake the ground. As he reached the wagon, the horses cried in terror and tried to back away from him. One touch and they went silent, falling dead in their reins. "That settles that," he spoke, his voice one almost soft, yet at the same time, foul and cruel. he turned to the man of the family and grinned, his thick black brows slanting in. "Cast out from your homes in favor of rich relatives," he continued. "My, how you must hate them. How much better could they do at working those lands, after all?"
"Wh-what do you want?" the father asked in fright, stuttering as he tried to regain his composure.
A shrug. "Oh, not much, perhaps hire some thieves or such to kill those that forced you from your homes, preferably in their sleep." He grinned at the looks of horror on the married couple's faces. "Oh, what a grand example to your son that would be...but it's what in your soul you wish upon that foul Ingo, isn't it?"
"No more of that, please!" the father begged. "Just tell me what you want and leave us be, sorcerer!"
The man laughed and took another step closer. "Indeed, I could be called such, but there are sorcerers who do not serve the same master as I do. Still, when I am done, it will not matter. Direct me to Tylon, for I have business there."
The man pointed slowly to the direction they had been going. "That way, t-to the southeast. We were going there ourselves."
Again, the man flashed that horrible grin. "You're lying," he spat, then thrust out his arm to catch the father in a tentacle of purple energy. He lifted the man up as his wife and son screamed in horror, then flung him aside, bones breaking and giving the obvious sounds of fracture.
"Dad!" the boy shouted, and the dark man snapped his eyes upon him, the glowing red boring into the child's very soul. "Leave him alone!"
"Shall I? Then tell me how to reach Tylon!"
Tears seeped out from the little boy's eyes. He trembled heavily, unable to answer this demonic man. "Unable to answer?" the man asked with a chuckle. "Come now...if your father's so dishonest, you must know! Isn't there a single ounce of innocence in your shell, boy?" A laugh escaped his lips, a laugh that tore into the boy's mind and soul. "I know what it hate your parents! They never give you what you want, always telling you to eat what you don't want to eat, to sleep when you don't want to sleep. I bet they hate you too. I'll bet they're going to sell you off at the next farm! Oh no, boy, you don't want to help want to see them suffer!"
With a second laugh, he flung his arm to the mother and sent her flying when a purple orb shot from his palm and slammed into her. In mere seconds, she hit the ground beside her husband, convulsing in pain. By now, the boy was crying his eyes out, but that came to a stop as the man in black stood over him. "Now," he hissed. "Tell me the real way to Tylon, or you will learn the true meaning of justice!"
"It's to the southeast like my dad said!" the child cried. "I'm telling the truth, please!"
The man grinned. "Very good," came the hissing words after a long pause.
"Now let them go, please..."
Again, that flashing grin, but the man now reached for a sword hilt that was at his sword. "I don't think would have killed them eventually anyway, so I'll merely save you the trouble." With that, he drew out his sword, filling the entire path with a vaporous red glow, but there was no blade on the hilt, only a fiery cloud. Turning around, he charged and slashed his sword down on the adults, causing screams to escape their lips.
And the child, forced to see it all with his eyes, could only scream.

Ba'al himself walked through the forests near Durin. He should have been in the Gerudo Valley by now, but something had been weakening his power from Mephistopheles, rending him unable to simply translocate there. His sword had been seeming to grow weaker as well. Its power was still there, but it no longer killed his victims in one blow. Something was seriously wrong.
"I suppose you're wondering why you're being forsaken."
He spun and drew his sword only to find the pale skinned man behind him. Ba'al's eyes saw the mark of his master on the man's chest plate and accordingly lowered his weapon. "A fellow servant to the lord of Flames," he replied, smiling a bit. "It's comforting to know I'm not alone."
The man laughed, giving Ba'al a chill down his spine. "Oh, but my dear Ba'al. You are alone." He drew his own vaporous red weapon and raised it. "I'm afraid that you have't been fulfilling your duties as Mephistopheles' hand, thus, you have been forsaken. I'm your replacement."
Replacement?! "I don't know who you think you are," Ba'al snapped angrily and he brought his sword to bear again, "but I am the hand of Mephistopheles! I need no replacement!"
The man grinned and took a step towards Ba'al. It was clear he intended to kill the Drow, but why? "My master is most disappointed in you, Ba'al. You failed to kill the Sword Magnus when he returned, when he was so easy to just pick off."
The Sword Magnus has returned?! Ba'al's black skin paled what little it could. He had not felt such a return at all, or he would have slaughtered that child, Mephistopheles surely must realize this. It seemed though that it didn't matter to this second servant of darkness. He was dead set on taking Ba'al's place. "Who are you to challenge my power?!" he screamed, but his only reply was again that laugh.
"Who am I?" the man repeated mockingly. "I am Azreal, the hand of Death, Ba'al! Born of service to Mephistopheles, and it is by my hand you shall die and be cast into the flames! That is your reward for your service, the very same that you give!"
Ba'al blached. He had been told his service would be rewarded with the grace of his master, these had to be lies. Mephistopheles would never betray his own loyal servant like that, by casting him into the very fires that he brought to the innocent. but then he realized, at last, that was what why his master also bore the name of the Prince of Lies. He had been deceived by his own master, and now, he had outlived his worth.
"No," he spat angrily, taking stance in ready to fight. "I will not be cast into the fires, not after all I had done for Mephistopheles! I paid worship when no one else would, I followed him when he was said to be nothing than a rebellious creation that would wither into nothing!"
And Azreal laughed. "Thus, your shall receive your just reward...eternity in the Inferno." He charged forward, the red cloud that was his weapon clashing against Ba'al's sword of fire. The smile on his face did not fade, and he sent Ba'al's sword flying from his hand, then cut the Drow down in an instant. Ba'al felt the fires burning through him, the same fires he had inflicted upon so many in his time as bringer of death. But it was only now that he knew the pain he had caused.
Lakes of fire burst in his mind, and even as he heard Azreal's laughter fade, his soul was torn down a tunnel of flames, screams all around him, wailing in agony, the very agony he had sent so many souls to join. The screams of Ba'al's own soul joined as he fell further into the abyss, then came crashing into what looked like lava. He stood, and for the first time, truly looked upon the face of his master. Mephistopheles, the Lord of Flames and Prince of Lies, was laughing at him, laughing at how foolish Ba'al had been to believe that he, in his own wickedness, would be spared from the Inferno.
And he screamed, eternally screamed, for now it would never end. He had earned his reward indeed, and his reward was eternal torture.
And Azreal, seeing this all in his eyes, picked up the blade which had once been Ba'al's and sheathed it at his side. Two weapons were better than one, after all, and with the mission he had, the more to bring down those in the world, all the better.

Impa snapped her head up as she felt something screaming in the back of her mind. She didn't know what it was, but it sounded familiar. She pushed it aside as she rode through the Lost Woods, navigating them as Regalas has said to. Following the faint voice in her hearts, she and her horse emerged in the forests near Durin, not far from their destination.
"Uh," she hissed, holding her hand over her mouth."What is that stench? Smells like sulphur."
As she wandered through the trees, she found the source of the smell, then realized that this had been the source of the scream she had felt before. It was impossible, but it lay before her. The black armor and cloak, the ebon skin and white hair, the skull upon the chest plate; it was Ba'al, dead and unmarked save for the look of painful horror on his face, as if he had been screaming when he died. Someone or something had used his own power on him, it was the only answer.
"Alahyde have mercy," the Sheikah whispered. Of all people who deserved death, she did not wish this death upon even Ba'al. Footprints led away from his body, footprints that looked to have been burned into the ground. Whoever had killed Ba'al could only have been even more powerful than he was. The stench of sulphur was strongest here, but it wasn't coming from Ba'al, it was coming from the footprints, and the red vapor that even now was dying away.
She took a few scraps of the burned grass and stuffed it in her belt pouch, then mounted her horse again and rode on out of the forest and towards Durin. It wasn't long before she reached the city that had been her home, but something again was wrong. It was when she entered that she realized what; Durin had been attack, much like Ba'al's attack a year ago, but this was more spread than just a few Drow. Dozens lay dead in the streets, horror pasted on their faces.
Impa dismounted and raced for the house of healing and found dozens more there, some dead and others dying. What caught her attention most though, was a figure in blue and white that lay on a bed, still alive. Impa ran over and gasped to see that it was Sheik. Sweat was pouring down the girl's face as she fought against her own screams. "By the Gods," the Sheikah woman whispered, kneeling down. "Don't give in, please..."
"I won't die," Sheik replied. "His sword couldn't kill me, but it hurt, burned me from the inside..." She winced and fought down another scream. "I should be recovering within the hour, burned so much, like nothing else..."
"It wasn't Ba'al," Sheik stated, but Impa already knew that fact. "It was someone else, he has this sword of red clouds, worse than Ba'al's blade. He attacked about three hours ago, killed so many before I could get here...I didn't think that..."
Impa whispered softly to the girl, to calm her and help the pain. "It's alright, young one. You lived because you did not fear him, even if just barely. Be glad that you did not fear at all, or it surely would have torn your soul apart."
Sheik's eyes started to water as she finally was able to stop the internal screams. "Those people...they... they don't have the choice, do they? I felt like I was being thrust into the Inferno when that sword touched me, what did it do to those people?"
It was now that Impa knew she had to tell Sheik, of just how close she had been to the eternal flames. "It robbed them of their choice, yes," she whispered. "Ba'al's sword cast all that it killed into the Inferno, be they of righteous heart or wicked, and I can already see that this new threat does the same, except much worse. Whoever this was, they killed Ba'al, I found his body in the woods not long ago."
Sheik closed her eyes tightly and silently moved her lips. It didn't take her superb hearing for Impa to know that the young Sheikah was thanking Alahyde for his grace, and begging him to free those unjustly imprisoned when the war was ended with Ganondorf's defeat.
"I will wait for your recovery," Impa stated, rising to her feet. "When you are well, we must go to Ma'rathi and rally the warriors there. The Sword Magnus has returned."
Sheik opened her eyes in shock and joy. "He really, has come back? To end Ganondorf's reign and free our world?"
Impa nodded with a smile. "He has. I'll gather your things and bring you something to speed your recovery, it seems that the worst for you is over. I need to help comfort the others, they were not so lucky as you."
"Will they..." Sheik did not finish, for she already knew the answer. Both she and Impa knew all that could be done was give the now cursed Drow hope that their souls would be freed from the Inferno should this end, that Alahyde indeed would do all he could to break them from imprisonment. Even the Drow healers knew that this was all that could be done now, but they too did what they could, staying with the dying until they passed on and praying to Alahyde to remember them. It was what separated them from their kin in Kazah'dur, from those they had left and rejected to seek the forgiveness of the Gods.
Sheik finally had recovered hours later, much to Impa's joy and that of the healers. It still amazed the young Sheikah that these Drow bore no bitterness that she was spared while many of their own had been damned against their wills. She knew it was because she had willingly put herself between them and certain death for the entire city, but it still did not fail to surprise her.
Impa soon returned with a fresh horse for Sheik and supplies. She spoke to the city leaders about the chance of aid in the battle to come, but also made it known she understood if they could not. In the end, the Drow promised to help if they were able, and it was enough for Impa.
She and Sheik rode hard towards the Sheikah village of Ma'rathi. It was deep into night when they arrived, and they had to pass the many guards that stood outside the village. Impa did most of the talking with Narikah, but it was Sheik's own few words that secured the aid of that village. They were not far out of leaving when Sheik finally asked Impa something that had been bothering her.
"Are you still angry at me?" she asked softly. "For leaving like I did. I know you wanted me to be safe, but I had to see for myself."
Impa merely nodded in understand. "I long ago stopped being angry for your decision, Sheik. You took my daughter with you, but I know she is very much in safe hands."
She blinked, a bit surprised by Impa's words. "Took her with me? Impa, what..."
Impa smiled. It was a smile that let Sheik know that she had passed Impa's own test; she was her own person, a new Sheikah born from who she had been before. It was enough for the girl to take full pride in herself, that she had made Impa proud after all.
They reached the woods, Impa finding the signs that the Lost Woods had again reached them from their place in Tylon. She had come to realize that the Lost Woods went where they were needed, that only their heart was in Tylon. It was no longer a surprise to her when they appeared in places they should not be, only listening for that voice which guided her through to where she need go.
In only hours, they burst from the Lost Woods and into the plains of Rivedale, crossing a path that would have otherwise taken a year to travel. Sheik was shocked by this, but Impa could only smile as they rode towards the Gerudo Valley. She had, before they left, informed Narikah of the Lost Woods and their ability to appear where they were needed. She knew that if he heeded her words, the Sheikah would soon be there. Already she could see those of her own home town assembled in the Gerudo Valley. She had stopped in Kira'tha to gain their aid before heading to Durin, so the sight was welcome indeed.
"Impa!" a familiar voice called. She came to a halt and dismounted her horse to greet the well built Sheikah man who embraced her. "I was worried that you'd be lost in the Woods trying to navigate its powers."
"No, it aided me as was needed," she replied, then glanced back to see Sheik approaching. "Kala, this is Sheik, an ally of mine."
The man bowed to the young woman. "Mela daka'sha, Sheik."
"Imin norah," she replied, returning with the proper greeting in the Sheikah language. "I'm afraid Impa has not told me much about you save that you were friends as children."
Kala smiled and nodded. "Indeed. Her own brother was an abusive bastard, so my family took her in and kept her safe from him until he finally died against a Wolfos. Damn fool always mocked her for taking on the training of a warrior, then ended up being the one who needed it."
"I still pity him," Impa replied, her tone sharp. "Even more now that I know he is burning for what he did. You have heard of the death knight Ba'al, have you not?"
Kala nodded again, the look in his eyes one of hate for that name. "We know of him, he killed twelve of my friends before he left the city, and we know of what his sword does to those who survive it. Visions of the Inferno, those that burn there screaming to any who live through the experience."
"My brother was one of those souls I saw when I was almost touched by his sword," Impa stated plainly. The tone in her voice told that despite her destain for her brother, she did not wish his fate on him. "He earned it, but I still wish he had been allowed a second chance. Also, Ba'al is dead by the hand of another like him."
"You have seen this second death knight."
She shook her head. "No, but Sheik has fought him. She was the only one who survived being struck by this new creature's own weapon, I suspect because she did not fear it. It's what allowed her to be untouchable by Ba'al sword."
It was at that moment Darunia stepped out to look over the assembled Gerudo, Goron, Hylian, and Sheikah armies. He walked down to Impa and greeted her with a large hug, careful to not squeeze too hard, and gave a more formal greeting to Sheik. He was indeed surprised when she returned the greeting in his own race's tongue, a language that not many outside the Gorons knew. Impa knew it because she was a blood bonded sister to Darunia, and the Royal Family had known it as a part of their own oaths to the Gorons, but this young Sheikah girl...
His thoughts were interrupted when Regalas rode over on Epona over, and by the look on his face, something was wrong. Deadly wrong. "What is it?" the Goron asked.
"Ganondorf didn't take the bait when Harkin and Raura went to open the Doors. ul Dragmire has massed an army, somehow bigger than the one before, and it's headed here." Regalas breathed heavily, revealing that he had barely just gotten there with the news. "I almost didn't escape the ruins, Harkin and Raura took a rift in time to translocate when the Drow surrounded the Temple."
"Someone call?" the young voice asked. Harkin and Raura appeared from the masses of their allies, causing Regalas to sigh in relief that they too had escaped. "Some of those Drow got toasted when they tried entering the Temple, we just left a moment ago and got here."
Impa then gave them the news; Ba'al was dead, killed by another servant of Mephistopheles, and that Durin had been attacked by the same new threat. She told them of Sheik's narrow survival, and the younger Sheikah explained the weapon her enemy had used; a sword hilt with a blaze of fiery red vapor for a blade, worse than the sword Ba'al had wielded. It had eliminated one of their enemies only to replace him with another far worse.
A cry rang out, a cry in Hylian that the armies of Dragmire were closing. Sheik drew out her double blades while Regalas readied his bow. He turned to Raura and nodded towards the Temple of Spirit, the gesture telling the old Sage to take safety there. Darunia was swift to bring the Gorons to ready, while Impa rallied the Sheikah and Iria prepared the Gerudo. There was no sun to help them this time against the Drow of Ganondorf's armies or the undead that he had no doubt brought up.
Harkin ran to get a vantage point high above and saw the sea that was his enemies draw near. He glanced to Regalas and nodded, then turned back to watch the approaching swarm. The Master Sword was released from his back and fell right into his left hand with perfect timing, and it was when the blade flashed that the armies of Hyrule prepared to be the first that attacked. "Elindai!" he cried, Sword raised just as Ganondorf's armies stopped at the entrance to the city. He saw Agahnim was the one leading this attack, but no sign of Ganondorf himself. The blade shined again, giving a second signal, this one to the archers. "Na, mira'dial! Karah!"
En masse, the arrows flew out and struck down the first line of Agahnim's forces. The Drow stared in shock at the now complete organization of his foes. The shining Sword revealed who it was leading the enemy, the one he now hated for his scars, for the failures caused to his master. The boy would die, and he would personally see to it that the Sword Magnus was dead.
It was then he sensed a great darkness, like that of Ba'al, but much stronger. The black rift opened to deposit the pale figure of Azreal, who stepped to Agahnim, then shocked the Drow and bowed slightly. "My lord Mephistopheles has ordered me to aid you in this genocide of the Gerudo," he stated. "Ba'al has been, how shall we say, removed from the company. Our goals are the same at the moment, so it would be best if we aided each other in this."
"The death of the Sword Magnus is what I want," Agahnim replied, nodding to accept this new hand of Mephistopheles as an ally for the time being. "Kill the Sages if you like, but the boy is mine, I have a score to settle with him."
"As you wish." Azreal chuckled and gripped the swords that hung sheathed at his waist. Both called for use, something Azreal very much intended to give them this night. His eyes scanned those they he would face, then found Sheik standing among his foes. She still lives?! his mind yelled. He had not thought that anyone could survive his blade. He had cut her through with the sword he carried, the Sheikah should have been dead and roasting in the Inferno now.
He would not let her escape this time, that much was sure. She had been worth plenty of trouble in Durin, not so again.
Agahnim raised his hand, then thrust forward, his armies rushing forward. "Let this end," he whispered, a smile on his lips beneath the red veil he wore to hide his scars. For Kazah'dur...for Dragmire!"
His eyes flashed, Azreal racing into the fray and drawing both swords he carried. That which he had taken from Ba'al burned through its victims while his own caused them pain even the fire blade could not cause. He ignored any draw out battles though, his eyes were on one person alone; he wanted Sheik for escaping the fires of Damnation.
"Sheikah!" he cried through the chaos, striking down a pair of Hylians and causing them to collapse, souls torn apart. "Sheikah of Durin!"
Sheik, just as she stabbed a Drow through the head, turned at the voice. It was one that chilled her blood, not from fear, but from what that voice had nearly brought her to. She saw him walking through the battle towards her, this time bearing both his sword and Ba'al's. A flick of her blades and a beastman was struck dead, leaving her to glare at Azreal in hate. "You've come here now?" she spat angrily. "I thought that you were the enemy of Ganondorf."
"We have a common purpose for now," he stated, then cut through a beastman and a Goron that were battling merely to the side of him. "We both want the Magnus dead."
Sheik's eyes went wide with shock that this man was so evil, he would strike down even his own allies. This was beyond the war for Hyrule, what now raged was a war for the very souls of Hyrule. "If you want the child," she hissed, raising her blades and holding them down along her arms. "You go through me."
He laughed and brandished both swords into the air. "I was hoping you'd say that!" Azreal bellowed. "Because you are right now the one I want!"
Blades clashed, Sheik having to use all the force of will she had to fight off the power of Azreal's own sword. Immune as she was to Ba'al's, she could not fight the darkness of this evil bringer of death. His weapon was too powerful to ignore. She snapped her foot up and landed a kick directly in Azreal's face, then back away just as a hulking one eyed creature with a horn in its forehead came between them.
With a yell, Azreal slashed through this creature and shoved it aside while the being writhed in pain. "No, little girl!" he snarled as he stepped towards the Sheikah. "There's no escape from the Inferno this time! I will send your soul to the fire, where you will burn eternally!"
"The souls you robbed of choice will be freed," she replied, holding a defensive stance. The girl knew that if she were to make good on that vow, she had to escape this beast's hold, she did not want to fail, not now. "You will fail, and just as you cast Ba'al into the fires that he served, you too will be bound to them!"
Azreal laughed, then swung down with Ba'al's sword. Sheik was quick to block, then arched back when the second sword swung for her. The feeling of fire raced through her soul, threatening to consume her, but she forced it from her mind, kicking Azreal's right hand hard and leaping up to slam her foot directly into his face. It bought her enough time to gain some room between them, allowing the girl to recover from her near-encounter with Azreal's weapon
"I know my fate," he stated, moving towards Sheik again. "I know that eternity in the fire is my reward, and I accept that. So long as I can take enough of you pathetic beings with me, that will be reward enough for my soul!"
He swung, causing Sheik to stumble back to the ground. She had not the time to recover when he was upon her, the red vapor blade of his own weapon mere inches from her chest. "No escape this time," he whispered, voice hissing like a snake. "This time, I send you down."
A flash, and he stumbled back. Sheik saw the white haired form of Impa now standing between her and Azreal. The older Sheikah was now holding a broad sword in her hands instead of the traditional single side blade she had been using before, but her stance made it obvious that she was no less skilled with this weapon.
"Get away from her, you filthy beast!" Impa roared, swinging at Azreal again and causing him to step back. Blow after blow was made, neither Impa nor Azreal making strike on each other. The sword that he held nearly caused Impa to lose her confidence from the visions she saw and the screams of the damn that flooded her ears, but she shoved them from her mind, holding onto the single thought that drove her on, that this monster had to be stopped here.
"Why do you protect her so much?!" Azreal asked as they circled each other. "Why, what is so special about that wretched girl?!"
"She is the future of this world!" Impa snapped as she held her sword at ready. "You will not claim her, nor will Ganondorf! You have to kill me first!"
Azreal grinned once more. "A pleasure." He struck, Impa deflecting, then dropping when the second blade came about. A flick of her wrist as she rose back up and Azreal was finally struck. He glared at Impa, then smiled again, confusing the Sheikah as to what so greatly amused him.
She turned and dropped just as a Stalfo swung to strike her, the skeleton taking a blow from Azreal that had been meant for her. As she came up, she thrust her sword straight into Azreal's chest and saw the pain in his eyes. That was when she felt the burning in her self, ripping through her. She looked down, and saw that the sword of fire once held by Ba'al had impaled through her stomach. Her mouth opened as a scream came out, and Azreal's laugh only drove that scream deep into the mind of Sheik as she stared in utter horror.
She collapsed, falling into Sheik's arms and feeling the fires tearing at her soul. "Sheik," she whispered painfully. "Sheik, I'm so sorry...that I..."
"Please," the girl begged, but she knew that there was no hope. The fires of the Inferno were claiming Impa's soul, and nothing could save her. "I'm sorry that I left, that I ran away, that-"
"You found yourself," Impa replied, giving a smile to Sheik. "I may be cursed to the fires, but that beast will know his own torment when I get there. Just promise that you'll free us all when this is that I can be with your father again..."
Sheik nodded numbly. "I promise," she choked. Impa finally passed, giving Azreal his own shock to see the peaceful look on her face as her soul was torn away. Sheik, however, had anything but a look of peace in her eyes. She picked up her own blades, then tore the cap from her head, revealing white streaks in her hair, and pulled the mask away from her face. The red of her eyes melted into blue, and it was then that Azreal knew why Impa had given sacrificed her own soul for Sheik.
"The princess..."
Even from where he was, Agahnim saw the unmasking of the Sheikah and realized now why he and Ganondorf had never been able to find Celestia. They had been searching for a Hylian, in Hylian cities and villages, and the whole time, the princess had been training and masquerading as a Sheikah.
"Your time of judgement is now," the girl hissed. Azreal saw the pure rage in her eyes and almost laughed, but then yelled when he was struck in the arm by a blur. Blood poured out from a wound, causing him to realize that his foe no longer feared even being torn into the flames of the Inferno. She was no long Sheik, no longer Princess Celestia...she was pure vengeance.
It was then that Azreal was thrust into a fight like he had never experienced. For the very first time, he was the one having to be defensive as Sheik struck again and again, fury accelerating her speed and allowing her blows to punch through his defense. Every time he swung his sword, she was once step ahead, moving like liquid and dodging every attack. Each time she avoided the strike, and each time she countered with a blow that sent him backwards.
Soon, she had disarmed him of Ba'al's sword, the hilt shattering as it struck the ground. His own sword remained, but he had now lost his advantage and only had one weapon left. Azreal now could only defend while Sheik was in a constant state of attack, blades flashing and causing welts and cuts to form wherever they could. The demonic knight was tired now, tired of this girl who time after time had defied his master, defied the tearing grip of the Inferno, defied the darkness that was in her own soul. She had to die now, if only to make sure that he would not be replaced by another as he had Ba'al.
"You claim," he spat as he blocked another strike from Sheik. "That I face my judgement!" A grin as he held the girl's attack and kicked her hard to the ground. "Then face yours, in the fires!"
She stood and lowered her arms, a gesture that he could not understand. "I do not fear anything now," she said. "I fear not death, not Ganondorf, not the fires, and certainly not you." The blades fell to the ground. "I fear nothing, because I belong to Alahyde."
"Then," Azreal replied as he reached back with his sword. "You are a fool!"
With a scream of rage, Azreal swung the blade of red clouds as the Princess of all Hyrule, As Regalas turned and watched, he stared in horror that the Sheikah made no move, and held his breath.
Nothing happened. Celestia still stood. Azreal looked at his sword, sure that he must have missed, then swung again, but once more, the girl was unaffected. Blow after blow, he swung, only for the blade to pass through Celestia as if she were thin air. It didn't make sense, it had nearly killed her before, why now did it do nothing? Why did this frail girl stand up to a blade that had slaughtered many, how could she have conquered the power of not one, but two servants of Mephistopheles? Yet here she stood, this insect, untouched by his mightiest blow!
"How?" he finally spoke in horror. "How?! I demand to know, how?!"
His hand screamed with pain as it was struck by the booted foot. Azreal stumbled back and saw his own sword explode at it touched the earth. Celestia again struck him with a sharp kick, the demonic warrior falling back even farther in fear of this girl. he couldn't understand it at all; this girl should be dead from all that he stuck with, how was it that she now was driving fear into his soul?
"You wish to know?" Celestia whispered, pausing as her enemy stumbled to hold his balance. "I am a child of the Gods, and I have already given my soul to Them. I don't fear death, I do not fear the Inferno, because I know that no one, not Ganondorf, not Ba'al, not you and your master, not even Dragmire can take what has already been surrendered to higher beings. That, demon, is why you can't touch me."
She turned as a sword was thrown to her. She saw Regalas nod before rejoining the battle and silently thanked him, then turned to face Azreal again. "By His Power to bring His Courage to turn back the His Wisdom to Create the Future! In the name of She of Eternal Compassion!"
"Go back to the Shadows of Darkness, go back to the Fires, and forever know the Judgement of the Gods!"
With one mighty swing, Celestia brought the now blazing sword smashing down on Azreal. Darkness burst around him while a million screams came from his lips, all crying out in unison. Flames of black shot out from the man and shattered, causing all around him and the Princess to stop and stare in amazement and shock. And all the while, Azreal was screaming with the voice of a million demons, until he finally fell dead, his soul torn apart. Fire burst out around the now lifeless body, burning it and claiming it back to the master it had served. Celestia fell to her knees, her task complete, her vengeance taken...
And her disguise exposed. She knew the moment she unmasked herself that she would no longer be able to hide, but she didn't need to anymore. Sheik was her, part of her very self, but she was still also Celestia, the Heir Princess to the throne of all Hyrule. Both sides had now accepted each other, both sides had become one, and now, she no longer wanted to hide.
"Princess," Regalas' voice whispered. He knelt down beside her and offered his hand. "We still have a battle to fight."
She looked up and saw that, even though the battle at large continued, those around her had stopped and were watching on shock. "There are those of you who have been forced to serve Ganondorf," she said, rising to her feet. "You serve him because you know no other choice, but now there stands the choice! Those of you that are Drow worship the Dark God Dragmire, but for what?! To secure eternity in the Inferno, is that what you strive for?!"
No one dared resume the battle they had been waging as the princess spoke. The Drow knew that it was true what she said, that by serving Dragmire, they only made sure that they would burn. But it was all they had known. And the beastmen, they had always believed that whoever held the TryForce was their fated master, yet somehow, this young woman stirred a rebellion in their hearts.
"But we have been condemned to there since the day we are born," a Drow soldier stated. "All Drow are."
"That's a lie of Dragmire," the princess replied, turning to face the one who had spoken. "No one can be accounted for the sins of those already dead, only their own. That is why the Drow of the surface abandoned Dragmire, that is why they seek to redeem their race for the pride of their forefathers, because they can only be held responsible for their own actions!" She turned, a fire back in her eyes. "Don't you see?! Ganondorf has lied to you all! To Drow, to beastman, all of you have been deceived!"
One Drow and one of the beastmen stepped forward, but weapons lowered. "So what would you have us do?" the Drow asked. "All we have ever known is our lives in service to Dragmire and his son, what would you have us do, Hylian?!"
Again, that fire flared in her eyes. "Fight against your fates," came the calm reply. "Fight alongside of the Sword, fight against the ones who put both your peoples in slavery. We will welcome the Drow back, but they must be willing to be welcomed."
The Drow narrowed his eyes. For a moment, Celestia thought that perhaps he would choose to continue as he had, but then he stabbed his sword to the ground and knelt before her. The beastman did as well, coming to his own choice. Soon, all those there who had once been ready to kill her, bowed before the princess. She smiled and told them to stand.
"Don't fight for me," she stated. "Fight for your own freedoms, for what is in you hearts. That's all I ask."
The Drow nodded and drew up their weapons again, this time turning towards those that still fought around them, while beastmen rush out to bring message to their fellows and to strike down the undead.
And the princess smiled, knowing that she did have what was needed to govern her people, that she was ready to take the throne, should it be recovered. And she knew that now, she had become a queen.

To Be Concluded...

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