The Lingering Shadow

By Wm. Jay Carter III (Hero of Geeks)

Chapter VIII ~ The Graveyard

That night the moon hung like a bright mirror over the graveyard. Wisps of cloud mimicked serpents as they wound between stone and stalk, the stars steady and bright like pinholes in a black cloth sky. Rauru led Link under a familiar high wooden archway. A wide stone marker stood at a fork in the path. It read: Here lie the souls of those who swore fealty to the Royal Family of Hyrule. The Sheikah, guardians of the Royal Family and founders of Kakariko, watch over these spirits in their eternal slumber. Gravestones of varying shapes poked their heads above the low-lying moisture like silent guardians. Here in the graveyard behind Kakariko village were buried the valiant men and women that had protected their land and people from destruction. Link had been here many times before; once to delve deep into the tomb of the Hylian Royalty and another time seven years later to seek out and pacify an ancient spirit haunting the depths of the Shadow Temple. At the back of the graveyard Link could see the fenced shelf of earth protruding from the mountainside that led to the temple’s opening. It felt for a moment like suddenly finding he had only half a blanket on a bitterly cold night. The thick fog pressed them onward.

From the path on the right came the sound of clinking metal and when Link looked he saw the light of a lantern bobbing out of the mist. In an instant his gilded sword was in his hand. He held it out to halt Rauru. “It’s a Poe spirit,” Link whispered shortly.

“On the contrary, Master Hero, I believe it is our guide,” said Rauru at his side, smiling. Then Link saw that the lantern was connected to a thick pale arm, and the arm joined with a shabby shoulder clothed with brown sackcloth. The white, unshaven, mushy face of Dampé the gravekeeper came into view and cackled thinly.

“So you’re back, are you, Master Graverobber?” he said to Link. “Would you like me to get my shovel or are you going to push back the gravestones on your own this time?” The toothless jaw smacked open like the gravekeeper was expecting something to eat.

“No, thanks,” Link replied, sheathing his sword. “I haven’t got anything to add to your buried treasure anyway.” Dampé frowned as only he could, evoking the image of a prune that had folded in half.

Link recalled dimly when some time ago, in his terms, he had come upon Dampé for the first time. Dampé had been digging before a headstone and Link thought he was a graverobber. If Dampé hadn’t shown him that he was burying his own small treasures in unused lots to keep them safe Link might have tried to fight him off. The reality was that Dampé had become so disillusioned to the setting, having worked there since he was very young, that he had taken to giving tours of the cemetery to curious passersby and would surreptitiously offer to ‘loot a grave’ for them for a price. While the ‘loot’ wasn’t worth the price most of the time, for someone who had never done it the price was worth the scare. And Dampé loved scaring the wits out of people.

“Well, let me know, then…” said the gravekeeper, disappointed.

“Thank you for meeting us, Master Gravekeeper,” said Rauru. “Shall we continue?”

Dampé lead them through the fog of the graveyard in a pattern that quickly proved disorienting to Link. Though Link had been there before, the gravekeeper had a way of getting around that was both much quicker and much more confusing. There were certainly paths made to walk on, but the gravekeeper took the most direct route to their destination, taking detours around spots where he said the spirits of the buried dead were more restless.

“Dampé?” said Link, walking closer to the gravekeeper. “I had a question…I guess it would have been about a week ago—I came here and dug up a Hylian shield.” Rauru lagged behind a little, still in sight.

“Oh, you pushed back that one,” said Dampé. He held his lantern higher and peered into the mist. “Was that your question?” said the gravekeeper, confused.

“Um…no. I was wondering who the knight was that owned the shield. Who was buried there?”

Dampé looked like he had just been asked to name a distant relative he hadn’t seen in years. “Uh…was it Hansen…? No, Rankin…” As the gravekeeper tested names to see if they fit his memory, he happened to glance back at Rauru. Then he looked like he had just been caught burying treasures again. “Oh, uh…I mean no. I can’t remember his name. Yeah, I don’t know who that was…”

Link found this highly unlikely. “Can’t you just take me back to the headstone?” asked Link. “It’s important”. Link heard Rauru cough.

Dampé looked behind him nervously. “Uh, no…no time. Gotta get there soon. Just over…this way, this way…”

“…right…” said Link, disappointed. What was Rauru trying to hide, he wondered? He dropped the subject, though he planned on asking Rauru about it when he got a chance.

Their course went winding between gravestones, over small rows of bushes, around burial mounds, and through gates separating one section of the graveyard from another. At one point they crossed a shallow stream that had been laid with a path of large flat stones. By the time they arrived at their destination Link could have said they were somewhere near the entrance, but Dampé said they were nearer the northwestern corner.

Passing a row of finely sculpted headstones all etched with the symbol of the Triforce, Dampé led them to a low gate set in the middle of a line of bushes. The gravekeeper removed a medium-sized key-ring from his belt and fumbled through his collection of ancient keys. Link happened to notice a fresh grave nearby, just within his range of sight. Sometime in the next seven years Dampé would die, Link remembered, though he never discovered how. In Link’s future the gravekeeper’s ghost had led him deep under the graveyard through a passageway that led to the windmill in Kakariko village. But as Link didn’t know much else about the gravekeeper’s fate he remained silent on the matter.

Dampé unlocked the gate and it swung open with a high-pitched squeak. Dampé held the lantern high as his guests passed through into a square-hedged clearing. Rauru turned as he shut the gate behind him.

“The others will be along shortly,” said Rauru. Dampé bowed and shambled away, his pale crumpled form dissolving into the mist as if he were made of nothing. “Come,” said Rauru. “Remember, Link: Mudora’s restless spirit will not remember you. After we conjure him, follow my lead.”

Within the clearing, the mist was kept at bay by the surrounding hedge. It was small compared to the Tomb of the Royal Family, thought Link, but it was obvious that the space had been reserved for a person of special importance. A tall owl-shaped monument had been erected in the center. It bore a circular symbol at the base and an inscription on the owl’s chest. Link recognized the symbol from the walls of the Temple of Shadow. The inscription said: Mudora, Sage of Shadow and Secret Keeper.

The half-extended wings of the stone owl appeared to cradle Impa’s kneeling form. She bowed toward the monument once, then rose gracefully and bowed again, signing something with her hands as she did so. Then she stooped, lifted a shoot of bamboo from the ground and stood silently, facing away from them. Without turning she said “Good evening Master Rauru, Master Hero.”

“We did not wish to disturb you, Impa,” Rauru said. “You must have much to ponder.” Impa did not move or speak again. Link feared that her mood was party his fault—he had, after all, suggested that she should be a Sage. At the time he had felt like it was more of an honor he was offering her, but he hadn’t considered the responsibility it must be to represent your whole race as a spiritual leader. Link was glad he was only to be the Captain of the Royal Guard; he thought he would be more able to handle that than being a Sage of Hyrule.

Link considered the compact silhouette of the Sheikah Sage framed by Mudora’s tall monument. She must feel so small in the shadow of her late master’s legacy. Link thought about what it had meant to him when he found that his father had been Captain of the Royal Guard. He had met him once, but from that brief memory it seemed to Link that his father had been the true hero—he gave his life protecting the queen. Link wondered whether he would live up to his father’s example. His face flushed as he thought of how he must have made Impa feel.

After a respectful moment, Rauru stepped toward Impa. Link joined Impa on her other side, looking up at her. He noticed that the shoot of bamboo she held was a simple but elegant flute. Like Impa, Link thought. So simple the outward appearance, but what came of it must be haunting and beautiful at once. It was strange how he thought he could see only a flicker of sadness in her impenetrable expression—how could she lock away what she must be feeling? How could she hide it so well? What else might she be feeling that he didn’t know? Still she said nothing.

Link’s face felt hot against the cool night. He could have been fighting an Iron Knuckle soldier for how fast his heart was beating. “Impa, I’m really sorry…” he offered, balling his fists at his side, hoping she couldn’t hear the thumping in his ears. He wanted to convince her he didn’t mean to force something so big on her all at once, but for how hard the words came, he might have preferred facing the Iron Knuckle. “I didn’t think you…I didn’t know what…”

“It is well, Master Hero,” she said mercifully. And she placed her hand on his shoulder, never looking away from the writing on the monument. Something about how Impa spoke to him; not reproachfully as to a child who knew no better, but as if he were her equal…and how she rested her hand on his shoulder; as if for support, as if a part of her strength depended on him. In that moment Link began to feel the true nature of selflessness—like a weight one is willing to bear. And he rounded his shoulders to it.

The three of them stood in silence, pondering the monument to Mudora. As Link’s eyes traced the inscription of Mudora’s name, he remembered the brotherhood he had felt with Mudora earlier that day in the Stained Hall. Then Link noticed a smaller inscription on the stone owl just below Mudora’s title. It said: When there is a parting, a meeting is sure to follow. Link stared in astonishment. The words rang so familiar in Link’s mind, but they were different than what he remembered, somehow…

But then Rauru spoke, never turning, as if he were telling a story that he had wanted to tell for some time. “Many years ago, in the days before the princess Zelda was yet born, our beloved Brother Mudora perished. The moment I heard the news that his murderer had been captured, but that his book was gone, I knew that the secrets he held so faithfully were at risk, and I responded the only way I knew how. I sealed the Door of Time to prevent the prophesied evil from entering the Golden Land and prayed the Goddesses might forgive me for cutting off the destined hero from the weapon they had blessed. But my wariness proved fruitful at least two-fold. That night as I performed the evening rituals to the Goddess of Time, I heard from behind the cloisters a whisper of someone in the nave. I silently called for the guards, but the guards were not as silent, and when I arrived in the nave our quarry had fled. Closing the Door had, at least, prevented the intruder from entering, as I had hoped.

“It was then that I found Mudora’s book on the floor between the altar and the Door of Time. I opened it as Master Mudora had once instructed me. Surely, it was the very Book of Mudora, for it revealed to me its secrets. And to my wonder I found there among our brother’s hastily written final words my very own name. He had written to me as if he had known that I would be standing there between the Door and the altar and would need to know who had entered the temple. For among his writings I also saw the name of Lord Ganondorf. And as surely as I knew that Mudora had seen me there in the nave, I also knew that the Lord of Darkness had desecrated the Temple of our Goddesses with his cruel and heartless presence.”

Then Rauru turned to look directly at Impa. “And as I read I found another name there; one that was hidden after a manner that Mudora had taught me; one that Mudora commended to his brethren, the Sages. It was the name of she whom Mudora had chosen to succeed him as Sage of Shadow after he returned to the Goddesses. Impa, it was your name.” Impa bowed her head. Link listened with reverence.

Rauru continued. “As surely as Mudora’s power as a prophet was unmatched in his time I know that his choice in a successor is well placed. These many years I have discouraged the Sages from choosing another to take Mudora’s place while you were occupied with your duties as Zelda’s nursemaid. We have been incomplete for many years, Impa. But you are the right one to succeed him. And as you took your place as Sage of Shadow, I had a hope that we might yet again be whole.”

And for the first time in all the years he had known Impa, Link watched her shed a tear—just one—a single truthful testament of her love and respect for the man whose body lay beneath the ground on which they stood. “He was a great leader,” she said, her voice faltering, “and a wise man.” Then she gripped her bamboo flute and her voice rose suddenly. “And he was betrayed by his own!” The shrubs and mist contained her voice in a way that made Link feel that he and Rauru were private witnesses of Impa’s moment of passion. “This man died…for an honored one turned betrayer. This tear is pressed out like oil by the weight of shame. He was my brother…he was my brother…” And then she fell to her knees, pressing the flute to her chest, shaking her head forlornly. “Abrum…” she said, choking on the word.

And suddenly it was to Link as if he had come out of the darkness of the forest just in time to see the sun disappear behind the horizon. Too late, he thought. Now he knew what had caused Impa so much grief at being chosen as the next Sage of Shadow.

The clink of metal near the gate brought all three of them to attention. Impa’s bent form immediately stiffened. Link marveled at Impa’s discipline as she sat straight up and breathed one deep, chest-filling breath. Neither Link nor Rauru moved. The high-pitched squeak of the gate was followed by a heavy, gravelly voice.

“We are ready, Rauru,” said Gor Darmon. Rauru turned and looked directly at the Goron. Under one arm Gor Darmon carried a set of five wooden drums with green leather heads. He stood firmly on both legs.

“The springs have done you good,” Rauru said. “Come, brother, let us proceed.” Following Gor Darmon was Lutai carrying a small harp with ‘strings’ of flexible fish bones. Then Aako entered holding an ornate leaf-shaped viola and a finely crafted bow with a bundle of acorns dangling from the end. As they approached Mudora’s monument Impa stood, her face untroubled and inscrutable once again. She held her simple bamboo flute close to her body. Then Rauru drew from within his robes a long black horn with a double-reed.

Then Rauru played the song Link had learned not long ago, in his future—a nocturne that summoned one to the dais of the Shadow Temple. The melancholy hoot that came from the instrument was contained just as Impa’s passionate voice had been, and was perhaps just as sorrowful. As the final notes of the melody sounded, something else began to happen.

Quickly the mists pressed into the clearing through the gaps in the shrubs. With a mind of their own the wisps gathered and divided, swirled, swooped, and then pooled at the base of the monument. There they rose into a column, condensing, straightening, and finally solidifying into the shape of a man with pointed ears. His face bore slanted eyes and a long, straight nose under which sat a thin mustache. From his oval head hung a full curtain of long, silvery hair which was pulled straight backward, displaying a prominent widow’s peak atop a high forehead. His beard was equally impressive, its full length resting on his small chest. His robes were thick and straight and on the apron hanging from his mantle was the symbol of the Temple of Shadow, the same symbol that adorned his monument. The ghost of Mudora, the ancient Sage of Shadow stood before them.

Gor Darmon grinned widely, Lutai leaned into a respectful bow, Aako waved heartily, and Impa lowered her gaze and crossed her hands over her chest. Rauru stepped forward, nodding to Link to do the same.

The eyes of Mudora’s spirit scanned the company assembled before him. “You have brought me some old friends, Rauru,” he said with a thin, veiled baritone voice that reverberated dimly like the distant echo of lapping water in some maritime cavern. Link noticed that Mudora trilled his ‘r’s just like his avian counterpart. Mudora’s gaze paused on Impa, whose head was still inclined humbly. “And one of my finest students. Be at ease, young one,” he added. Impa raised her head. Link thought it strange to think of Impa as young, but he knew that Mudora was a very old Sage—and in the radiance of Mudora’s kind eyes, Impa looked very like a child. “Speak friend,” said Mudora, turning to Rauru.

“Master Mudora, I have brought you the hero of the prophecy, the boy Link, though he has greater experience than his appearance will suggest.”

“Mudora, sir,” said Link, and bowed shortly.

Mudora’s brows came together. “This is the Hero of the Queen’s prophecy?” he asked as if he were being shown the one precious gem he had been looking for his whole life. “I am honored, Master Link,” he said, and inclined his head, crossing his hands over his chest as Impa had done moments before. “May the tip of your sword ever find its home in the heart of evil.”

Rauru spoke again: “Master Mudora, the Hero has been to many lands, and discovered many wondrous things. Among them, he has discovered a way of dispelling the curses of very powerful magic; a kind of music that will ease a sorrowing soul.”

Mudora’s attention was fixed the moment he heard this. “And can this magic lend this suffering spirit a little strength?” he asked plaintively, his thin voice quivering. “Rauru, do I understand what you mean to say?”

“It shall be as you have desired, Mudora, old friend,” Rauru answered. “We have aught to ask of you, we Sages. We have need of your protection.”

“And what protection might the Sage of Shadow offer to his brethren?” Mudora was intent, hanging on Rauru’s words.

“As we have discussed, the Great Evil prophesied of in the days of the Queen Sage has come. The Lord Ganondorf infiltrated the temple, and we have driven him away, but at a cost. Our beloved queen and her captain have perished at his hands.”

“The child queen has passed you say? And her captain…oh, Rauru, would that I were there. I would have done all I could…” said Mudora.

“I know, friend. I know you would. But now that the Lord of the Gerudo is at large we fear his vengeance,” Rauru continued. “We fear that were he to attack we may not survive. Mudora, this music that eases souls…it is a powerful magic that captures the curse upon an afflicted spirit and molds it into a mask—a mask which may transform the wearer into the likeness of the afflicted one. Master Link has had experience with these masks and we believe it to be a course for our safety.”

“And you would ask it of this old man to lend the Sages of Hyrule his visage as a disguise,” said Mudora. “I am to offer my likeness as your cloak, my face as a mask for your safety?”

“Yes, friend, that is our hope,” said Rauru.

“Then I would say that you have eased the pains of a sorrowing soul, Master Rauru. And my thanks to you, Master Hero, for finding the salve for my wounds, though you knew it not.” Link offered a short bow.

“There is only one other matter, Mudora,” said Rauru. “The blessed spirits who are appeased in this way are permitted to move on…on to that place which awaits us all. You will not…rather, I will be unable…”

“Think no more on the matter, my friend,” said Mudora. “I know of the consequences. I have felt them gathering upon me each time you have come to see me. While your presence has aided my unease through these many long years, the moment I have awaited for so long has come. It is time.” Rauru stood a little taller; his shoulders pressed back just a little, small pools of wetness gathering in his eyes.

“I will miss you, friend,” Rauru said.

“And I you,” said Mudora, again looking on all of his visitors. “May the Goddesses bless you all.” And they all looked on him as if for the last time.

“Master Link, if you will, I believe we are ready,” said Rauru. Link nodded and pulled the Ocarina of Time from the pouch at his waist. He placed his fingers over all the holes and looked up at Mudora’s monument, the night sky full of strong pinhole stars, the faces of the Sages in the light of the bright mirror moon. Link raised the Ocarina to his lips…

But Impa interrupted. “Wait.” Her voice was quiet, but firm. She stepped forward, very near the ghost of her dead master. “Master, do you have aught that you might say to your humble student…a word or two for her aching soul?” Link felt that he was witnessing something extremely private, almost indecent. He had never seen Impa so like a child—showing her uncertainty, her doubt. But he could say that he had felt the same so many times before; uncertain, alone, unworthy.

Mudora’s ghost smiled tenderly. “Child, you had but to ask.” He raised a hand as if to place it on her cheek, but withdrew it. “If I could hold you I would, as I once did. Do not dwell on your brother’s treachery; it was he, not you, who committed the crime. Nevertheless I do not have any room in my heart but to love him, as I have loved you. Be at peace, child, as I am now.”

Link looked up at Impa and smiled. She caught his gaze and the corners of her mouth turned upward a little. The heat in his face had somehow moved to his chest.

Rauru set a hand on Impa’s shoulder. “It is time, Impa,” Rauru said. “Master Hero, if you please.”

Link again raised the Ocarina to his lips. As he played the melancholy Song of Healing, something in the strains tugged at his heart. Little by little those in audience felt the workings of the song within them—it was not as if they had never had troubles, but that they no longer mattered, and their pains were forgotten. Impa raised her flute to her mouth, joining its thick, hollow tenor to the ocarina’s breathy alto.

Then, when Link and Impa repeated the melody, Rauru added the plaintive hoot of his horn. One by one each of the Sage’s instruments contributed a layer to the spell: Lutai’s percussive harp chirruped, Gor Darmon’s drums boomed, and Aako’s rich, somber viola cooed all that he had never said in words. The effect was a chorus of instruments that could have stopped the ghosts themselves and mesmerized them for awe. And as the song ended the magic took effect.

Just as the mists had gathered to form the Sage’s ghost, so now they dispersed. Mudora’s form became wisps, like snakes, winding through the air, turning over and over. Then the wisps gathered and formed six small globes, one over each of the musicians’ heads. In moments the globes had solidified and each of the Sages was holding a mask after the likeness of Mudora, the ancient Sage of Shadow.

Holding them to their faces, each Sage was instantly transformed—Gor Darmon’s huge rocky body was diminished, Aako’s diminutive child-body grew, and soon instead of their usual appearance each Sage resembled the ghostly Mudora in every respect: the long nose, white pointed hair, lengthy beard and straight robes. The Sages were all identical save one distinction: as a curious effect of the magic, the symbol of their respective temples appeared on their aprons.

Link did not wear the Mask of Mudora that had formed above him. He held the likeness of the old man’s face in his hands. Here, he thought, was the face of Mudora; one of the oldest and wisest Sages in Hyrule.

One of the newly transformed Mudoras—the one with the symbol of the Temple of Light on his apron—approached Link and spoke in Rauru’s voice, albeit thin and veiled as Mudora’s was: “Master Hero, you have performed well. I will take this mask into my keeping. It is meant for the Sage of Spirit, when the time comes that another might be chosen.” Link let Rauru take the mask.

Then the Sage of Light turned to his fellow Sages. “Our brother is at rest, and we are now unknown to the world. Our true identities must not be revealed. We are as dead. It shall be said that the Sages were no more and the Goddesses sent their own emissaries to perform their works in Hyrule. Go well, brethren and sisters. We shall assemble again at need.”

The Sage of Forest pulled his now-beige viola from under his ghostly robes and drew the bow across the strings in a sprightly minuet. A moment later he vanished in a swoop of green lights, as bright as the stars above. The Sage of Fire followed suit with a bolero on his cream-colored drums, and then the Sage of Water with a serenade on her pearly fishbone harp. They both disappeared, red lights and blue lights trailing after them. The Sage of Shadow lingered.

“Thank you, Rauru, Link,” said Impa’s voice from the white face of the Sage of Shadow. “You have done me a great service. My heart is at peace.” Link could not tell for a moment whether it was really Impa or Mudora. He imagined it could have been either at that moment. And from within her ghostly white robes she pulled out her simple bamboo flute. “I think I will meditate here a little longer. May the Goddesses be with you.”

“Come, Hero,” said the Sage of Light, hiding the spare mask within his robes and lifting his white horn. “Join me if you will.” He played a prelude that Link knew as well. It would take them back to the Temple of Time. Maybe Rauru would explain why he had kept Dampé from telling him about the knight’s grave. Gladly, Link played to Rauru’s song, and when Link felt the strains of music pulling on him, up toward the bright mirror-moon, he let himself be carried away with Rauru into the night surrounded by gold lights.

High above the graveyard, somewhere among the bright pinhole stars, an owl hooted serenely.

* * *

Rauru and Link appeared in the nave of the Temple of Time, standing on the seal of the Sage of Light. The nave was brightly lit with many candelabrums. Even the four side chapels were glowing. A deep-throated chanting filled the smoky air composed of the voices of two-score monks. They were gathered in groups; two ranks of five in front of each chapel. Each monk wore a linen robe with an apron that corresponded to the symbolic color of the Goddess he served; red for Din, green for Faroe, blue for Nayru, and violet for Orda, the Goddess of Time. One among each of the groups was dressed in a robe of the symbolic color and wore an apron of white with the symbol of the Triforce embroidered on it. Link saw that Tobias was one of these—he walked out from among the disciples of Orda and stood before the seal of the Sage of Light. The chanting of the monks came to a crescendo and ceased.

Tobias raised his arms ceremonially. “Greetings, Sage of the Goddesses! Greetings Hero of Hyrule! I welcome you to the Temple of Time.” He bowed.

When the ghostly Sage of Light bowed in response, Link bowed as well. “We thank thee,” said Rauru’s thin voice. It was different now, though. Rauru was disguising it so it did not seem to be his own. “The Goddesses have heard your prayers for deliverance from the evil that plagues this land. They have seen your sufferings and send us, their representatives, to minister to you. In return, however, your Sages have been caught up and taken to the heavens to serve as the Goddesses decree. Ye shall see them no more.”

“We are honored to receive you, Wise One, and thank the Goddesses that Rauru has been counted worthy to serve the Goddesses, may they watch over him until the Day of Cataclysm when time shall end and Hyrule shall cease unless the Hero comes again to save us from peril,” said Tobias.

“It is well, Tobias of Orda. Stand forward,” said the Sage of Light. Tobias came and stood before the Sage, his head bowed. Then the Sage raised his thin voice. “Are there any among who would not follow the counsel of his brother Tobias of Orda in the stead of his master Rauru?”

Gradually the monks each bowed their heads in assent. It seemed to Link that they were not obligated to do so—the pattern of heads bowing was neither organized nor consistent. These monks were sincerely accepting Tobias as their master. When the last monk looked around and saw that every other monk’s head was bowed he, too bowed his head. “Not one,” said the monk loudly.

“Not one,” said the monks in unison.

“Not one?” asked the Sage.

“No, not one,” repeated the monks.

The Sage of Light placed his hand on Tobias’ head. “Wilt thou, Tobias of Orda, protect this sacred edifice and expend thy life before allowing it to come to ruin?”

“Aye,” said Tobias.

“Wilt thou guard its secrets and expend thy life before allowing them to be revealed to evil?”


“Then acting in the stead of Rauru of the Temple, and as messenger of the Goddesses I proclaim thee, Tobias of Orda, head of the Temple of Time. May the Goddess of Time receive thee at the end of thy journey.”

A chill ran up Link’s spine and he felt as if he had just witnessed something that would impact all of Hyrule. He wondered what it might have been like to be among the Sheikah, or the Gorons, or the Zora, or the Koroki as they received their respective Sages…

“And so I take my leave. Tobias, wilt thou grant the Hero lodging for the night?” Link was shocked. He thought he would get a chance to ask Rauru about the knight’s grave before he left.

“Yes, Master Sage,” said Tobias.

“No, wait…” said Link. But Rauru ignored him.

“Well. And now I depart, but we Sages shall come again when we are needed.”

“Come, Link, let me find you a room…” Tobias said. But Link wouldn’t let Rauru leave. Not when he had kept him from knowing. Not when he might never know. Link reached out for the Sage but he disappeared, vanishing like a ghost.

Link staggered into empty air. He was speechless. He was only vaguely aware of the monks shuffling out of the nave behind him. He fell to his knees, feeling like the wind had been knocked out of him. He didn’t even know why the identity of the knight was so important to him, but it was.

“Link, please…” said Tobias genuinely. He offered Link his hand. “Let me get you a room.”

But something in Link snapped and he threw Tobias’ hand away. “Keep it. I’m already staying with someone…” He stood and ran up the staircase. Tobias followed Link to the Temple’s main doors and then stopped, watching as he ran out into the night.

* * *

The ranch-hand seemed to sleep soundly under the bright mirror-moon. Under his head was a round shield. A cloth bag served as his pillow, the night air as his blanket. He mumbled in his sleep, and then spoke.

“I’ll never give it to you. You’ll have to kill me…”

Then a stark shadow fell over him, lingering in the bright moonlight.

“Such selfless wishes…” growled a deep voice. “Perhaps I should grant them to you…”

* * *

High in an upper bedchamber of the castle, the young queen seemed to sleep soundly under a thick quilt, her golden head resting serenely on a down pillow. Four Sheiks stood by—white men wrapped in white cloth, wearing solemn faces. Not asleep, but meditative, their stillness shamed the silence in the room. One might perhaps have heard the curtains whisper.

In moments, however, Zelda’s brows tightened, her muscles tensing, her small body curling. She moaned as one wounded, then suddenly screamed, violating the sacred silence. In response her dutiful Sheiks suddenly animated, acting as if in well-rehearsed concert—one was immediately at her side, another lit the black wicks of a candelabrum on the bed-table, and a third arrived with a cool wet cloth. As they comforted her with soothing voices, Zelda pushed herself upright in her bed panting and heaving. After a moment, she leaned back against the headboard and one of the Sheiks pressed the wet cloth to her forehead. For a moment all she could do was stare into the candlelight. When she spoke her voice was thin, but certain: “Din is angry.”

“My queen,” said one of the white guards, “what have you seen?”

Zelda pushed the Sheik’s hand away and he lowered the cloth from her head. In her ears echoed the sound of a wicked red laugh. She threw back her bedcovers and crossed the room to her wardrobe. “Take me to my father,” she said, throwing a robe over her nightgown, “and summon the Maidens.”

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