The Lingering Shadow

By Wm. Jay Carter III (Hero of Geeks)

Chapter V: Of Magic and Malice

Two hunched figures on broomsticks flew high above the Barren Wastes. Past the churning sandstorms, the Pyramid of Power was the most prominent feature on the horizon. The next most prominent would have been the shrine of the Desert Colossus, but for those who were among the storms it was difficult enough to see anything a few feet away.

“Master! Abrum!” called a female voice out of the windblown sands.

“Here, my love!” said a male voice. In moments Asera was joined by Abrum.

“Where is the king?” asked Asera, raising her voice over the sound of the storm. As if in response the winds calmed and the sands surrounding them fell to the ground. The storm continued to whip up sand, but if it came near them it fell to the ground as well. Then Ganon’s voice spoke from behind.

“Stay close if you wish to live. Koume says it is this way.” The desert king continued to walk past them further out into the desert. Asera and Abrum obediently followed.

The journey was difficult. They had spent the night at a small shrine out in the middle of the desert, obviously built for a time when the sand-storms didn’t plague the land with their incessant winds. Inside they had found torches and reserves of water in clay pots. From there they had gone south—Ganon, Asera and Abrum plowing directly through the sands while Koume and Kotake flew above. Even with Ganon’s witch-aunts, Koume and Kotake, coming down periodically to tell them which way to go they only just made the Pyramid of Power by nightfall. When they arrived Abrum slumped down against the sloped wall of the pyramid, exhausted. Asera stood beside him, stroking his hair. Ganon was studying the pyramid wall, looking for something.

Within a minute Koume and Kotake had landed next to Ganon. The witches were quite venerable, yet sprightly for their old age. Each of them was the mirror image of the other. The only thing that might distinguish them apart was that Koume wore a headpiece set with a red gem that sparkled like fire even when no sun touched it, and Kotake wore a similar headpiece set with a blue gem, misted by frost even when it was not cold.

“What is so important about this pyramid, Lord Ganon?” asked Abrum. “Why does it concern you so? You said yourself you had no intention of worshipping the Goddesses…?”

Silence, impudent Sheikah whelp. I respect the true Goddess, not the three those Hylian fools appeal to. You have not the sense to keep your mouth shut. I am beginning to wonder why I ever agreed to allow you into my service.”

“If you remember, your Lordship,” Abrum said somewhat impatiently, “I taught you the magic of the Sheikah Sage and blended it with your own, making you all but invincible.”

Ganon turned. “Yes, and now we see how far it has gotten us! Overcome by a Hylian witch’s cheap trick. All but invincible…” Ganon added under his breath, kicking sand into Abrum’s face.

Abrum stood, his voice louder: “Then what was that back at the Fortress? A bomb flower, perhaps? And what of this walking through the sands without being touched? If our magic was sealed away, how did you do that?”

You have been among my thieves for ten years and you cannot remember that before you came our tribe had a magic of its own? You are a fool. We do not need you, anymore, whelp. Your magic is gone. Ours still remains of use.” Koume and Kotake looked at each other and smiled wickedly. Ganon looked past Abrum to Asera. Asera looked away. “What?” said Ganon. “Ashamed, are you, that you fell for a common Sheikah’s dog? It wasn’t I that bewitched him…” Ganon turned to study the wall of the pyramid again.

Abrum thrust his face at Ganon’s vehemently. “She didn’t bewitch me, Lord Ganon. I came of my own will.”

Ganon didn’t blink. “Of course you did, fool—she made you want her. They can all do it. How do you think we have survived this long with only one male every hundred years? It wouldn’t do for the king to be disinterested in his own women.”

Abrum assimilated this and turned to Asera. Her head was bowed. “Is it true?” he asked.

Tears fled from her sand-dried eyes. She nodded.

“These ten years have been a lie?”

She looked up into his contorted face. “I…”

“What sorcery is this?” he demanded, his voice grating against his throat. He seized her by the shoulders and shook her. “Have you not enough shame to speak, woman?”

“I am sorry, my love…”

“Do not bewitch me and then betray me again with words. I loved you, and you lied to me!” Abrum throttled her violently and threw her to the sand. Walking a few paces away he stared out into the sandstorms, painted evening-blue under the waxing moon.

Ganon must have found what he was looking for, for the next moment Abrum heard the stone of the pyramid grind and move. When he looked behind him a door had opened in the wall, wide enough across to admit four men abreast and just as high. “You may leave us if you wish, foolish whelp,” said Ganon. “Best of luck with the storms. Asera, come.” Ganon entered the pyramid and was immediately enveloped by the darkness within. Koume and Kotake followed.

Quietly, Asera stood, holding the scimitar at her waist by the handle. “Your sister was a fool not to love you,” she said. Abrum did not move. “When I first saw you, dancing for Mudora and the Sheikah court…I could see the envy in your sister’s eyes. She wanted to be Mudora’s servant…she did not deserve you. She did not love you as I did.” Abrum did not turn from looking off toward the storms. Asera stepped forward, placing a hand on Abrum’s arm. Abrum jerked his arm away immediately, still refusing to look at her. He thought he heard her inhale sharply. When she spoke again, her voice was farther away.

“I had to bewitch you. I had to be sure that you would come with me…” Her voice was still farther now. “If you didn’t, I would have had to kill you.” Now she was at the door of the pyramid. “Please forgive me…my love.”

The next thing he heard was the grating of stone, but by the time he turned around it was too late; the pyramid had shut.

* * *

The large room at the center of the pyramid had only two prominent features. One was the tomb of an ancient king. The other was his weapon: a fearsome trident that hung on the wall behind the tomb. After the King perished, shot through the heart with an arrow, he was entombed in a pyramid and his trident was enshrined with him in memory of his great and terrible deeds. As time passed over the pyramid with the sands, many foolish Gerudo went looking for the pyramid to claim the power of the Trident, but none ever returned. The paths to the pyramid were forbidden and the sands were cursed to be drawn up incessantly in storms so that no more foolish souls could reach the pyramid and waste their lives on the vain ambition of power.

Presently, Ganon’s cold black eyes sparkled like gluttonous obsidian in the torchlight. He stared at the object he desired: the legendary Trident of Power. The witches stood nearby. Ganon’s voice echoed off the chamber walls as he read the inscription beside the trident: “We grant you power to ruin the world: the power of darkness. Possessed by the evil spirit of the magic trident, you shall be the King of Darkness.”

Just as he had finished, Asera entered the chamber.

Asera,” Ganon said, never taking his eyes from the Object. “You are just in time to witness this momentous occasion. Come. Stand by me.”

Obediently, Asera joined her master. Ganondorf, please. You don’t have to take it…we have the tribe’s magic. That’s enough…”

“Magic is never enough, Asera. I will take what is mine. I am the King.”

“But you said…you destroyed the tribe. How can you be king now?”

Not the king of the Gerudo, Asera. The King of Darkness, and Hyrule.” Ganon looked at her hungrily and gently placed his hand around her throat. “What would you say, Asera…what would you?” She reached for the handle of her scimitar, but Ganon caught her arm with his other hand.

“What would I…Lord Ganon?” said Asera, attempting to twist her arm free. But it was no use—he was too strong for her.

“Would you…be my queen? The Queen of Darkness?” Ganon’s eyes were yet greedier still.

Asera struggled, but try as she might she could not release herself from Ganon’s iron grip. “You’re swine, Ganon. You always have been. Your heart is black and shriveled, and I will not serve you any longer. Kill me if you will, but I will not serve you any longer. Kill me or release…!”

But Ganon’s grip tightened like a vise and Asera could not breathe. Behind Ganon Asera could see the Trident glow with a faint red aura. As Ganon’s grip tightened Asera thought her eyes must be playing tricks on her and instead of Ganon’s face she thought she saw the face of a demonic boar. Then her vision failed her, and she saw no more.

“Lord Ganon,” Asera heard one of the witches say, somewhere on the edge of her consciousness, “your scepter awaits.” Then Asera fell to the floor as one dead.

* * *

Abrum was crouching against the outer wall of the pyramid, his head bowed. Then, suddenly he noticed the air become very quiet. Lifting his head Abrum saw the storms of sand cease; he could see the night sky again. There on the horizon was the ruined Gerudo Fortress, a cloud of dust still surrounding it. Far to the north was the Desert Colossus, the Shrine to the Goddess.

Then the wall behind Abrum rumbled and he jumped to his feet. Louder and yet more violent the pyramid shook, casting centuries of sand from its slanted face. Abrum stared at the wall where the door had been, the wall shaking again and again. Finally, the stones shifted and the wall began to open. There, emerging from the pyramid like a butterfly from its cocoon was a sight that defied Abrum’s ability to comprehend.

A gargantuan humanoid boar holding a wicked-looking trident crawled out of the doorway and stood before him on cloven feet. The monster grunted and squealed maliciously when it saw him, and out of the trident shot a globe of searing light that struck Abrum in the chest, flattening him to the sand, knocking him out. Before his consciousness faded completely, however, Abrum thought he heard the sound of a wicked red laugh

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