The screams filled the air more than the flames. The dark
was ablaze and overflowing with panic. No one could be entirely certain how it began. Who had been the first to scream? Who had been the first to fall? Now, all that was certain was that they were under attack. Shadowy figures, riding on horseback, galloped through the streets, wielding torches like swords. They lit buildings, people, and trees indiscriminately, the orange flames glowing off of their dark, half hidden faces with steely, determined eyes that showed neither mercy nor regret. villageof Kasuto
“Farore, defend us!” a villager cried, holding his hands up to the heavens imploringly.
“You’re under the dominion of Din now!” one of the riders shrieked in a shrill, decidedly feminine voice. She cantered past the hapless villager, lighting the back of his coat on fire as she made her way deeper into the fray.
Everyone knew it was the Gerudo right away. Aside from the customary Gerudo trappings adorning their horses, it was very evident that all the riders were female; all except for one. This was puzzling. They couldn’t tell what sort of man would be able to lead the Gerudo. Or, perhaps more appropriately, what sort of man the Gerudo would willingly submit themselves to. Yet it was clear that the leader of the raid was male and he didn’t seem terribly interested in the usual Gerudo bounty. They weren’t looking for gold or Rupees. They seemed to be arbitrarily out for destruction, burning everything in sight without cause.
“Reduce this village to a pile of ash!” the leader roared, his gravelly voice booming through the night.
“Let no man or woman escape!” the Gerudo’s lieutenant shouted at the top of her lungs.
“Or child,” the leader added with a sneer.
“Death to Kasuto!” they all chanted. “Death to Kasuto!”
It was all just so senseless! The Gerudo had begun to make a game out of it. Several of the lower ranking warriors lined up the men of the village in front of the well, taking turns to see who could knock the most into the gaping mouth of the well. They threw Deku seeds and various stolen goods from the sundry shop, looking almost as if they were enjoying a game at a carnival, not carnage.
An enormous mass of escaping villagers formed near the gate. They trampled over each other, screaming and panicking, each trying to be the first to get away. In the end, they were only destroying each other, making the work easier for the few Gerudo warriors that guarded the front gate. No one would escape. They saw to that, clubbing any fortunate individuals who happened to get through the mob.
Natalya watched from the second story window of her flat. In the other room, her small son was wailing, the noise frightening him out of his wits. She was frightened too, though she tried to push those feelings aside. The Gerudo had not yet reached her small quarter of the town, but she could see them coming. She also saw, clearly enough, that there was no escape through the gates.
“What are they looking for, momma?” her young daughter, barely a toddler, asked, staring out at the scene, more fascinated than horrified.
“I don’t know,” Natalya replied.
“Do you think they want the treasure?”
Natalya shook her head. “No.” She knew well enough where the village treasure was kept. The Gerudo band had burned the building to the ground without a thought, upon entering the town.
“What are we going to do, momma?”
“Go get your coat,” Natalya instructed her child. The girl nodded obediently and scampered off.
Closing the curtains, Natalya turned away from the window. She leaned over to blow out the oil lamp on a table nearby. Already, her mind was racing as she recalled the words of advice her husband had once given her. If the village should ever be attacked, he had said, she should get the children and herself out through the trees. There was a forest just north of the village. No gates opened to it, but the wood work around the village was incomplete there and one could easily slip through the fence.
With an air of determination, Natalya crossed the room, going into the nursery where her infant son was screaming at the top of his tiny lungs. She walked to his cradle and picked him up, bouncing him lightly in an attempt to calm the shrill cries. All too well, she knew they would easily be discovered, even in the darkness of the forest, if this continued. Fortunately, her son immediately calmed down, sensing the presence of his mother.
“Momma!” the daughter screamed suddenly. Clutching her baby to her shoulder, Natalya raced out of the nursery and into the sitting room. Her daughter had parted the curtains and was peeking through them. Over her head, Natalya could see the Gerudo riders getting closer and closer.
“It’s time to go,” Natalya said, holding her hand out. Immediately, her daughter came and took her hand. The little family turned and ran, not a moment too soon. With a shuddering crash, a stone, coated in kerosene and blazing with fire came flying through the window, shattering the glass and catching everything soft and fabric about the room ablaze.
“Come quickly,” Natalya said, trying to keep her voice calm. Clutching both her children, she took off at a run. They raced out of the small apartment and down the dark, narrow staircase, the sound of the Gerudo war cries bouncing off of the walls and echoing in their ears.
On the main floor, the landlord and his family were assembled. “Natalya!” he called out to her. “Quickly, we’ve got to get out of the village.”
“We can’t go to the gate,” she told them. “We have to head toward the forest. It’s our only chance.”
“The forest?” the landlord’s wife shrieked indignantly, hugging her teenage son to her side.
“Do as she says,” the landlord declared. He raced over to Natalya and picked up her daughter, carrying her on his hip. “Quickly!”
The tiny group set out, taking the back door. If it weren’t for the noise, and the eerie orange glow in the sky, it would have been like any other ordinary night. This part of the village was still untouched, a clear before picture to the devastation that was to come.
Holding her son with all her might, Natalya led them to the dark shadows of the forest. A low whistling suddenly caught their attention. Natalya stopped and turned to look up. Behind them, another catapulted stone, blazing with fire, came flying. “Get out of the way!” she shouted, running off to the left. She buried her face in her baby’s swaddling, cringing as she heard the stone impact with the ground. Still, she kept running, her breath becoming labored as a sharp pain stung her side. Her son was crying again. She could feel his hot tears against her cheek. “Don’t cry,” she begged him softly. “Everything will be all right, don’t cry.”
Finally, Natalya had to rest. She slowed to a stop and turned around to look behind her. Panic leaped up into her chest. For the first time, she realized that she and her son were alone. There was no sign of the landlord’s family or her daughter. For a moment, Natalya decided upon the worst, but it occurred to her that they must have taken a right while she took a left. Silently, she offered up a brief, sincere prayer to Farore, begging the goddess to protect them.
Another loud crash quickly reminded Natalya that there was no time for prayer. Before her, she could see the fence with several substantial openings into the forest. Hiking up her skirts with one hand, she took off at a sprint, though there was barely any strength left in her delicate frame. The clip clop of horses’ hooves haunted her from behind. They were gaining on her, even if they didn’t know she was there yet. Staunchly, Natalya resolved to die before she would let them harm her son.
She was at the fence now. With the horses ringing in her ears, she dropped to her knees, thrusting her baby through one of the holes and gently placing him on the soft forest soil. There was no way that she could climb through the opening herself, so she stood and started racing along the fence, looking for a way to get across herself and meet up with her child on the other side.
Natalya’s eyes shot up as she saw several Gerudo riders. One of them had spotted her and was pointing. In that instant, Natalya knew that she would never see her son again. She had only one choice, and that was to run. Run as far away from the forest as possible in the hopes that no one would know she had left her baby there. The goddesses only knew what would become of him, but Natalya would not be the cause of his demise. She would never lead the Gerudo to him.
“Death to all Gerudo!” she shrieked, gathering up her skirts again. Immediately, under the angry and indignant grunts of the riders, she took flight, running away from the fence and toward the northern gate of the village. Already, she knew that this would be the last night of her life. Somehow, that didn’t haunt her as much as it should have. At least her son would survive. She was determined that he would. She just couldn’t allow herself to believe otherwise.
From the forest, a pair of bright green eyes watched Natalya’s flight. The brave woman was hopelessly out numbered and the Gerudo riders easily overtook her with their swift mares. The leader of the pack grabbed the hapless woman by the hair and kicked her horse with her spurs. Immediately, the obedient mare began trotting off, dragging poor Natalya along the ground and into the brightness of the burning village.
Several more eyes appeared to watch the scene. The forest had been awakened by the noise, its inhabitants gathering together near the border to watch. They knew they couldn’t help, of course. This was strictly forbidden. Helpless as they were, however, they quickly realized that there was a creature even more helpless in their midst. Natalya’s son was wailing now, lacking his mother’s protective arms to comfort him. His cries filled the forest, drawing its inhabitants closer. They eyed this strange creature, wondering at his unusual form and the ghastly noise he was making.
“What should we do?” one of them asked.
Impa thought she knew a thing or two about pain, but this was beyond anything she had ever experienced in her lengthy career as a warrior. She felt as if she were being ripped apart, inside out. Though noted for being able to keep her wits about her in a battle situation, she found that she had lost all control of her own voice. She shouted and groaned involuntarily, drowning out all other sounds, except, perhaps, for the racing of her heart. It felt as though any second, it would burst from her chest.
The room felt slightly surreal, in part because of the sound. As Impa looked around her, the colors and shapes swirled together a bit, blurring reality. She could sense Glas by her side. He was saying something, but she couldn’t tell what it was. All she knew was that he was using his calm, rational voice, because the lines of his face were slack and his gentle eyes looked at her with deep concern. There was someone else in the room, hidden from Impa’s warped sight. All she could see of this stranger were the shadows she cast on the floor in the bright moonlight. Occasionally, one of her hands would appear, reaching into a pack, but it would disappear again. The healer, Impa remembered. That’s who it was.
“Impa,” Glas’ voice managed to break through the din as Impa’s hoarse voice gave out. “Stay calm.”
“Calm?” Impa repeated with a laugh. “Calm?”
Glas gently pressed a cold washcloth to her forehead. Droplets of water ran down her neck and shoulders, sinking into her hot skin. “You know, it’s a good thing you’re the warrior.”
She laughed bitterly. “Shut up.”
Impa didn’t mean to snap at Glas, but her anger just went beyond her control. Of all the nights, this was the one when she was most needed at
. News had reached them only a few hours earlier than Kasuto was under attack by a Gerudo raiding party. Although it was many hours away, Impa’s instincts immediately told her to get to North Castle as quickly as possible, should the Gerudo decide to take the journey down to this part of the world. Several months back, the King’s wife had given birth to a healthy daughter named Zelda. This was Impa’s new charge and it was her duty to protect the young princess at all costs. North Castle
She had practically been halfway out the door before she was forced to stop, realizing that her robes were damp. Still, she had tried to leave, but Glas, perhaps for the only time in his life, won out on the argument as the great, searing pain began to rack Impa’s distended body.
“Sorry,” Glas said quietly, looking properly chidden. He turned to go to the nightstand, but Impa reached out, grasping his arm.
“Don’t,” she told him gently.
Glas nodded, returning to her side once again. “I was just going to get some cold water.”
“I don’t need cold water,” Impa scoffed weakly.
“Certainly not,” the healer agreed from somewhere beyond Impa’s sightlines. “Where’s the hot water?”
“Kaya!” Glas shouted out to the doorway. “Kaya, hurry up!”
“A watched pot never boils!” Kaya’s cheerful voice shouted back from the adjacent room.
“And your sense of inappropriately timed humor never fails,” Glas shot back indignantly.
“Not now!” Impa barked at him.
“Sorry,” he repeated.
“It’s just that I –” A fresh burst of pain erupted, interrupting whatever it was she was going to say. Impa clutched her swollen belly, letting out a groan of agony that echoed off the cottage walls.
“There’s no time for this,” the midwife clucked.
“What?” Glas asked.
“What?” Impa snapped after him.
“This baby is in a bit of a rush to be born, it seems,” she replied, setting aside a few instruments that Impa could only guess at the purpose of. She picked up a terrycloth blanket from the floor. “This is it.”
“Oh gods,” Impa moaned, turning to look at Glas.
“You are my warrior,” Glas told her firmly, brushing her hair away from her pale, sweaty face. “There is nothing you can’t do. Including this.”
“Just remember, this was your idea,” she quipped hoarsely, bracing herself against the bed.
This was partly true. The fact of the matter was that Impa had been adamantly against the notion of family from the day she met Glas. She knew that it would distract her from her duties to the royal family, a notion that was strengthened on the day she was made royal nursemaid and bodyguard to the young Princess Zelda. But by then, the wheels were already in motion. At first, she had managed to keep her condition from Glas, Kaya, and the others, but things grew more difficult as time passed on. Impa still managed to conceal herself from the royals, electing to wear loose fitting robes rather than her Sheikah uniform. As a nursemaid, she was able to justify it. After all, wouldn’t the uniform merely frighten the young princess?
Glas, of course, was thrilled at the notion of becoming a father and this somewhat nullified Impa’s misgivings. After all, his duties were quite different from hers. He would better be able to provide for a child than she and to be certain, he was more than willing to take on the additional responsibilities. Impa only wished that it were possible for him to take on some of the pain that was now gripping her body.
“Just a little more,” the midwife told Impa, her voice half lost as phantom echoes filled Impa’s ears.
She knew Glas was gripping her hand tightly, but she couldn’t feel it. Hot tears began forming menacingly in the corners of her eyes. Impa steeled herself, screaming in her brain not to cry. She would not allow herself to become weak. Not now. To combat the tears, she let out a booming Sheikah war cry, her lungs burning with pain at the sudden and unexpected strain.
When she at last ran out of air, she let her scream die and was startled to find it replaced by a new sound. The crisp cries of a baby suddenly filled the tiny bedroom. Kaya came rushing to the doorway. She looked down and immediately made a face of great disgust. “Ew…”
“Kaya, out!” Glas snapped in a voice that wasn’t recognizable as his own. After all, Glas never raised his voice at anyone. Kaya didn’t need to be told twice. With a yelp, she scampered out of the room.
Impa let out a low moan. “Is it over?” she asked weakly.
Glas had disappeared from sight, kneeling next to the invisible midwife. Impa could just see his shadow on the floor, moving very slowly. “Yes,” the midwife said after an interminably long moment.
“Good,” Impa wheezed, falling back against the mattress.
When Glas stood up, he was holding the terrycloth blanket, wrapped tightly around a small, pink form with a wide, gaping mouth that let forth shrill cries. “Ten fingers, ten toes,” the midwife said, finally appearing in Impa’s sightlines. She was a stout, sturdy matron with long white hair pulled back into a loose bun at the base of her neck. “No twin,” she added.
Smiling vaguely, Impa turned her head to look at Glas. “You’re lucky,” she told him wryly.
“If there was a twin, I’d probably kill you.”
Glas chuckled, sitting on the side of the bed. “I wouldn’t put that past you,” he told her.
“I need to sleep,” Impa murmured drowsily.
“You can’t sleep yet,” the midwife told her. “You still need to pass the placenta. Then you can sleep.”
“More?” Impa moaned.
“Don’t worry, this is rather anticlimactic.” With that, the midwife disappeared from sight again.
“We have a daughter,” Glas told Impa fondly.
“I hope you’re not disappointed,” Impa replied. “That it’s not a son.”
“Not at all,” Glas assured her.
“Good, because we’re not doing this again.”
He smirked. “Deal.”
“I don’t think I’ll be able to walk tomorrow,” she mumbled. “And they’ll need me at the castle.”
“They can do without you for a day,” Glas sighed. “Zelda’s got a wet nurse and you need to rest.”
“There was an attack on Kasuto. I’m going to have to be there.”
“We’ll argue about this in the morning,” Glas muttered.
By this point, the child had calmed down, wails turning into soft whimpers. “What are we going to call her?” Glas asked, examining his newborn daughter’s face. She looked very much like Impa, but she had a tiny tuft of mousy brown hair, much like his.
“I don’t know,” Impa said. “What do you want to call her?”
“We could name her after your mother,” he suggested.
Impa made a face, as if she had eaten a lemon. “No,” she declared with no uncertain terms.
“Oh yes, I forgot how you felt about your mother.”
“I would never dream of cursing a child with the name Klymene.”
“All right,” Glas said with a nod. “No Klymene.”
A heavy silence filled the room. Impa sensed that she was supposed to make a suggestion, but to be honest she had no idea what to say. She had no idea how to go about naming something. Her horse’s name was just Filly. “How about Yonah?” she asked finally, as she found herself wondering how she was going to explain this situation to the Sheikah leader, Glas’ grandmother.
Glas shook his head. “No, it’s not right.”
“Not right,” Impa repeated, having no idea how he knew what was and was not right.
“Maybe we could name her after my mother,” Glas said after awhile.
“I like it,” Impa said at last. She wondered how sincere she sounded, but right now, she was too tired to care.
Leafa knelt down before a mound of dirt. It was covered with the carcasses of old, dried out flowers. To these, she added a fresh bouquet, a handful of lilies she had picked on her walk over. Lovingly, she caressed the dirt, feeling the grains run through her fingers. “Hello, Sojef,” she said softly.
He had died nearly ten years ago, following the disastrous first contact of the Sheikah and the people of the Kakariko village. Not much of a span of time, to be certain, yet Leafa felt as though it had been in another lifetime, back when she was the young Basileaus of her people, just beginning her career as a public servant.
“What was I telling you about, the last time I came?” she wondered. “I told you about the new child Robia and Tully had, I remember that. They named her Molly Leafa, after me. Leonid is just thrilled to be the big brother. You should see him. He runs through the village, making sure that everyone gets out of Robia’s way when she walks with Molly. It’s adorable.”
Softly laughing, Leafa looked up. Her eyes fell on the enormous silhouette of
, looming off to the north. All at once, her laughter died and she felt her chest deflate. She sank back down to her haunches. “Things have been so difficult here, Sojef.” North Castle
It was true, although Leafa hated to sound so dramatic. Looking at the castle though, she remembered all the hardships that had befallen her people. The shadow of the great castle was enormous and fell over the fields of the Kakariko village. Nothing grew there anymore. The land that had fed her ancestors for generations lay fallow and barren.
Of course, there was still enough food to go around. Her people, unable to harvest their own crops turned to other forms of vocation. Some of them began to concentrate on crafts, creating little trinkets and pieces of art that the Hylian tourists found to be quaint. They changed these for strange little stones called Rupees that Leafa and Tully would then use to purchase grain to feed the village.
Other villagers began to venture beyond the now gateless
, going into service for the Hylians who had settled around villageof Kakariko , creating a brand new town. There was plenty of work to be done, and the Hylians didn’t seem as equipped for manual labor as the villagers were. Grain could be earned by that avenue as well and Leafa supposed that she should have been grateful, and yet she wasn’t. North Castle
“It isn’t the same village you knew,” she told Sojef gently. “Things are so turned around that I can hardly recognize them.” She paused, reflecting on this statement. “Well, I’m sure it’s just me. I said it before and I’ll say it again, change is at the very heart of what we Humans are.”
“And here I thought it was broccoli.”
Leafa stood up, whirling around. For a moment, primal fear filled her head, but all that immediately dissolved into an enormous smile when she recognized the form of Kaya walking up the hill toward her. “Peace and long life, Kaya,” Leafa called, holding up her hands respectfully.
“Peace and long life,” Kaya responded, repeating the gesture.
“It’s been awhile,” Leafa laughed, dropping the pose to walk down the hill and meet Kaya halfway.
“Well, you know how it is. They like to keep us busy.”
“Indeed. What are you up to these days?”
Kaya smirked, striking her most heroic pose. “I have been given the sacred duty, nay, the privilege, of escorting diplomatic envoys to and from
.” North Castle
“You don’t sound too thrilled by it.”
“Well, it’s not exactly the kind of thing I trained for. A little boring actually. But then again, it beats being fired at with a barrage of arrows. Or worse. Cleaning up the mess afterward.”
Leafa smiled. “And how is Glas?”
“Glas is good. He’s had his hands full lately. There’s been little call for a healer lately. Things have just been too bloody peaceful since the Gerudos profusely apologized for their attack on Kasuto. Glas has been branching out into diplomacy.”
“Well, then you can spend some time with him.”
Kaya laughed. “I think I see Glas more than he sees his wife.”
“How’s Impa?” Leafa asked, lowering her voice a little bit. She felt odd, mentioning Impa so close to Sojef’s grave. After all, it was the embarrassment from his horrible misunderstanding that had slowly eaten away at Sojef and driven him into an early grave.
“Oh, Impa. I’m sure I recognize that name. Yes, yes it sounds vaguely familiar.” Kaya paused to touch her chin in mock thoughtfulness. “It’s certainly ringing a bell. I think I once knew an Impa.”
Leafa pursed her lips. “I see.”
Kaya shrugged. “Impa’s pretty much all work and no play these days. She practically lives at the castle now. Glas has to beg her to come home before most of the time.”
“She takes her duty very seriously.”
“Extremely.” Kaya rolled her eyes. “You know, I’m Sheikah, and I’m all about defending the royal family. I get that it’s a sacred duty and pretty much what we were made for, but…still…”
“Impa’s a bit of a zealot.”
“That’s putting it mildly.”
“Well, I hope she enjoys it.”
“I’m sure she does,” Kaya nodded. She paused for a minute, clearly debating something in her head. “How are things with you, Leafa?” she finally asked, a bit too carefully.
“Things have been…difficult,” Leafa replied diplomatically, uncertain of where this conversation was going.
“Well, the village has changed so much since we first made contact with you,” she answered.
“That’s for sure. I hear Tully married Robia.”
Leafa nodded. “They have two children now. A boy called Leonid. He’s about ten now. And they just had a daughter who they’re calling Molly.”
“Man, when did everyone grow up and have kids around us?” Kaya muttered absently.
A small frown formed on Leafa’s face. “What do you mean?”
“Oh, it just seems like everyone I know is married with kids now. Except for me of course. I was destined to die a spinster.”
The Basileaus smiled tightly. “There are worse fates.”
Kaya blinked as her error suddenly set in. “Oh! Leafa! I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to…well I just thought that…what I meant was…”
To ease the tension, Leafa forced a small laugh. “It’s all right,” she told her old friend. “I know you weren’t talking about me.”
“You’re still young, Leafa,” Kaya spat.
“Of course, of course.” Secretly, however, Leafa couldn’t bring herself to believe it. She was older than Kaya and well past thirty by this point. As Humans didn’t live as long as the Sheikah, Leafa was well aware that the best of her child bearing years were behind her and that the wrinkles forming around the corners of her eyes were destined to only grow deeper and deeper as time wore on.
“How’s the village?” Kaya asked quickly.
“It doesn’t feel the same,” Leafa admitted with a soft sigh. “The people aren’t as close as they used to be.”
“I’ve spotted a lot more Humans around the castle lately.”
“Well, we have to get our grain somehow,” Leafa said bitterly.
A heavy pause hung in the air. Kaya shifted her weight from one foot to the other, sensing the tension. “Well,” she said slowly, “I think it’s great. Great that the Hylians and Humans are able to get on in harmony.”
“Yes, that’s true.”
“How are your fields doing?”
“All the new fields have failed,” Leafa answered heavily.
“Well, that’s unfortunate. I’ll have to make sure the King knows that before he…” She trailed off.
“Before he what?” Leafa prompted her.
Kaya scowled, averting her eyes slightly. “There’s going to be a new series of proclamations made next week.”
Leafa shifted, trying to catch Kaya’s gaze again. “Proclamations of what nature?” she asked.
This seemed to unnerve Kaya even more. “Well…theKingisdemandingatithefromthevillage.”
Leafa blinked. “What?”
With a heavy sigh, Kaya repeated herself. “The King is demanding a tithe from the village.”
“He’s going to demand ten percent of your yielding.”
The Basileaus sputtered indignantly. “He can’t do that.”
“This is Hylian land now. He thinks he can.”
“But that’s absurd! My people lived on this land for generations before we made contact with you!”
“I know that!” Kaya snapped back. She paused, looking somewhat apologetic. “I mean, of course I know that. I tried to speak out on your behalf, but they just wouldn’t listen. I don’t really command respect, Leafa. No one wants to listen to me, even when I’m right.”
“I know you did,” Leafa sighed wearily. “But I suppose if anyone’s going to speak on behalf of my people, it should be me.” She ran her hands through her rust colored hair. “I’ll journey to the King myself.”
Glas and Shayla were at their favorite game. Shayla would turn away from Glas, covering her eyes with her hands. Glas, meanwhile, would slowly try and sneak up behind her, attempting to tag her on the shoulder. Shayla, however, would always manage to turn around just before he could touch her, so Glas would turn away, covering his eyes, while Shayla attempted to tag him. This game could go on for hours before one of them would finally manage to tap the other on the shoulder. This round, however, Glas was careful to make sure that Shayla always heard his approach. Then, while his back was turned, he could talk to her, playfully quizzing her.
“And who was the first queen of Hyrule?” he asked, his back turned and his eyes covered while his young daughter slowly crept up on him.
“I don’t remember,” she mumbled casually.
“Oh, come on, it’s an easy one.”
Shayla sighed insufferably, pausing to dwell on the question for a moment. “Queen Avril?” she guessed.
“Oh, Shayla, you know that’s not the answer. Think harder. The name of the first queen of Hyrule is the one with a D-name.”
“Oh!” Shayla cried, her round face lighting up. “Dasha Harkin?”
“Yes! Well done!”
She giggled. Suddenly, with all the ferocious force a nine year old could conjure, she lunged forward, wrapping her arms around her father. With a laugh, Glas gave in and fell to the floor, allowing her to tackle him. “I win!” she shouted triumphantly, sitting on his chest.
“Now another one,” Glas said.
Her face crumpled up into a look of disgust. “No more questions, poppa,” she implored.
“Come, come,” Glas laughed, touching her face lightly, “If I don’t ask you questions, how are you going to learn?”
“Learning is boring!” she declared.
“Clearly not my daughter,” Glas chuckled. “Come on, answer another question. You can get this one, I’ll make it easy.”
“No more questions!”
“Well…you could always go to bed.”
Shayla sighed in a long suffering manner. “All right, poppa,” she decided. “One more question. But make it a really, really easy one.”
“Deal,” he agreed, offering her his hand, which she shook. “All right, one more question. I’d better make it a really good one.”
“But not hard,” Shayla reminded him.
“Right. Good, but not hard. Let me think.” He paused to legitimately ponder it for a moment. “Fine, I’ve got a really good, really easy one for you.”
“Name the three Spiritual Stones.”
For a moment, Shayla scrunched up her face in concentration. Gradually, she relaxed, proclaiming in a proud voice, “The Zora Sapphire…”
“The Kokiri Emerald…”
“And the Gerudo Ruby!”
Glas fought to keep his face from falling. “The Goron Ruby,” he corrected her gently.
“Well, I knew that,” she shrugged. For a moment, she paused. “Why don’t the Gerudo have a Spiritual Stone?”
“Well, for the same reason the Humans don’t, I suppose.”
“They’re not worshippers of all our goddesses.”
“But I thought the Gerudo worshipped Din.”
“Yes,” Glas answered, “but they don’t worship Farore or Nayru. They don’t have balanced virtues.”
“Oh. Well, what about the Humans?”
“Centuries ago, the Humans worshipped a god known as Joxom, the harvest god. They used to believe that he created worms and horses and cows.”
Shayla wrinkled her nose at the mention of the worms. “Ew…”
Glas chuckled. “But they stopped worshipping their god a long time ago. And now, it seems, a lot of them are beginning to recognize the divinity of Din, Nayru, and Farore.” They heard the door to the cottage open, scraping against the carpeted floor. Footsteps, muffled slightly, began to come their way. “Someone’s home,” Glas said, sitting up and pulling Shayla into his lap.
A moment later, Impa appeared in the bedroom, pulling off her long purple cloak. “Momma!” Shayla cried happily, bouncing up to her feet and running over to hug Impa’s legs. “I made up a song today! Listen, listen, I’ll sing it for you.” She began to sing, sounding horribly off key, yet with the pure gusto that could only be created by an enthusiastic child. “The cat is a yo-yo. The yo-yo is red! I love the cat. I love the yo-yo!”
Impa looked down, a bit startled. “It’s after ,” she said, more to Glas than to Shayla. “Shouldn’t you be in bed?”
“I told her she could stay up until you got home,” Glas explained, rising to his feet and crossing over to his wife.
“It’s horribly late,” Impa declared. “Off to bed.” She patted Shayla’s hair lightly and then took a step back, gesturing to the door.
“Okay,” Shayla sighed.
“Shayla,” Glas called.
The girl scampered over to Glas as he leaned down, giving him a kiss on the cheek. “Goodnight, poppa!”
He ruffled her hair. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight, momma!” she called over her shoulder as she ran out of the room. A moment later, they heard the door to her bedroom close.
“It’s not good for her to stay up so late,” Impa said, stifling a yawn.
“I didn’t think you’d be home so late.”
“Sorry,” Impa muttered, crossing over to him. She gave him a tender kiss, resting her hands on his chest.
“We have to talk about Shayla,” he said softly.
“Impa, we can’t keep putting it off. Her tenth birthday is in a few months and she still can’t remember the difference between the Moon Pearl and the Pendants of Virtue. How will she pass her first trial of initiation?”
“We were both confused at that age. Our parents probably wondered the same thing about both of us.”
“And her fighting?” Glas raised an eyebrow. “Her skills are vastly behind the other Sheikah children of her age.”
Impa looked up at him. “I’ve never heard you so concerned about fighting before, Glas.”
“I’m not concerned about fighting. You know how I feel about violence. But I’m concerned about our daughter. Someone needs to teach her the
“She’ll be fine,” Impa assured him.
“Who’s going to teach her? You know I can’t.”
She sighed softly. “I’ll ask Kaya to teach her a few things, if that’s what you want.”
“No, Impa, that’s not what I want.”
“You should be the one teaching her.”
“Glas, please, I beg you, can we argue about this tomorrow? I’m absolutely exhausted.”
“Well, it’s late.”
“Things have been difficult at the castle.”
“Difficult how?” he asked, walking over to the bed and sitting down on it, resting his hands on his splayed knees.
“The Princess has been troubled.”
“By dreams. Nightmares.”
“She sees danger coming in the form of the Gerudo.”
“Well, that’s nothing new. The Gerudo have always been a problem. And they’ve been rather quiet the last few years.”
“The Gerudo Prince is scheduled to visit the King tomorrow,” Impa muttered, unlacing the ties that held her armor on.
“What’s his name?”
“Dragmire. Ganondorf Dragmire.”
“What’s he want with the King?”
“I have no idea.”
Glas pulled the sheets out, climbing under them. “Well, that isn’t necessarily bad. Maybe he wants to sue for peace?”
“Zelda’s dreams indicate otherwise. She sees him as a threat.”
“They’re just dreams, Impa.”
“She also sees hope.”
“A Kokiri boy.”
“Kokiri? But they can’t even leave their forest.”
“I know. That’s what makes it all so strange.”
Impa walked out of the room, headed for the adjoining bathroom. As Glas sat there in bed, he wondered about her concerns. Never being one who believed much in dreams or prophecies, he felt slightly annoyed that Impa was harping on the dreams of a ten year old girl. He knew she took her duties seriously, so he supposed it was unkind for him to scoff. Still, a pang of resentment struck him. These days, it seemed like her duties were consuming her. He missed spending time with her. Time, he well knew, was a treasure not to be squandered.
Leafa knew that staring around with her mouth gaping open was undignified, but she simply couldn’t help it. In all her days on the face of the world, she had never seen anything as incredible as what she now beheld. She had entered the throne room of
. Though the grand hall was less than austere, what it lacked was more than made up for now as she passed through the arched doorway. North Castle
A row of white, marble pillars flanked either side of the room, climbing high up into the sky, higher than anything Leafa had ever seen built by men. Billowing purple silks hung over the wall recesses. When the wind rippled through the room, Leafa could see that each silk covered a small alcove with a large window. Each window had iron tracery, depicting an image from Hylian lore; stories that Leafa couldn’t even conceive. A long red carpet led from the entry way to a dais on the opposite end of the room. The fabric of the carpet was plush, absorbing Leafa’s footsteps. She had traveled the castle barefoot, not knowing what decorum demanded, and her feet sank into the deep depths of the carpet.
On the dais were two thrones, one on the left for the King and a vacant seat on the right for the Queen. Leafa had heard that the Queen died tragically, some ten years ago while giving birth to her first and only child. The King made his presence known, however. He sat regally in his high backed chair, peering down at Leafa from his heights. He was a large man, his plump body draped in purple robes. A long, downy white beard spilled down from his chin over his chest and halfway to his naval. On his white head was a gold crown, studded with purple, red, and blue gemstones. Golden light filtered in through the stained glass window, falling over the King to give him an air of divinity. Leafa took a split second to examine the window itself. Most of it was little more than a mosaic of red, purple, and blue glass bits and pieces, but directly in the middle of the explosion of color, there was a symbol in golden yellow glass; three triangles forming a pyramid.
At the base of the dais, Leafa held her hands up in the traditional Human salute. Beside her, she sensed Tully do the same. All around the room, the courtiers stifled giggles, watching as the peculiar couple upheld their native traditions, blissfully ignorant of the custom of bowing to the King, fashionable among any civilized Hylians. “Peace and long life, your majesty,” Leafa said above their sniggering.
The King looked down at her with beady blue eyes. “Who are you?” he asked sternly.
Tully stepped forward. “Your majesty,” he addressed the King. “I present to you Leafa, Basileaus of Kakariko.”
The King glanced at one of his advisors. “Kakariko, that’s that Human colony, to the east, isn’t it?”
Leafa’s eyebrows shot up. “Colony?”
The advisor nodded to his King. “Yes, your highness.”
“I see.” The King stroked his beard absently. “I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the term. Basileaus? What does that mean?”
Stifling his indignation, Tully cleared his throat. “Basileaus is the term we use to refer to our leader,” he said tightly.
“Is that so?” The King appraised Leafa for a moment. “And you, my dear, are the leader of the colony?”
“Colony? I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the term,” Leafa replied.
“Well, a colony refers to an area that’s autonomously ruled under the monarchy and that sort of thing,” the King waved it off dismissively. “What brings you to my castle?”
For a moment Leafa paused. She considered making a back handed comment about the fact that she had never been invited to
before, despite giving the Hylians permission to build it on her land, but she bit her lip. “I have come to speak to you about the tithe you intend to impose on my people.” North Castle
“Tithe? I haven’t announced that yet.”
“I was informed,” Leafa explained.
“That’s beside the point, your majesty.”
“Is it? Well, what about the tithe?”
“I cannot permit you to impose it.”
“Permit me?” The King looked about at his subjects, properly indignant at the situation. “My dear girl, you are in no position to be forbidding me.”
“Basileaus,” Tully growled sharply. “You will address the Basileaus by her proper title.”
“I am king,” the King barked. “I will address my subjects as I like.”
“We are not your subjects!” Tully shouted, his rich voice echoing off of the marble columns.
“You live on my land.”
“It is not your –”
Leafa held out a hand to silence Tully. “The land cannot be owned by anyone,” she whispered before turning to face the King. “Regardless of who the land belongs to, the tithe cannot be imposed. My people would be unable to meet your demands. We would starve to death.”
“You’ll find that there are plenty of ways of providing for the tithe and your people,” the King told her.
“Our farmlands are failing,” she said. “We cannot grow anything in the shadow of your castle and all the other fertile areas have been taken over by your people. Ten percent of what we grow is ten percent too much.”
“I am more than willing to accept the tithe in the form of a monetary sum, as need be.”
“Yes. Shall we say, five hundred Rupees?”
“Your majesty, we do not use your currency.”
“It should be easy enough for you to assimilate into our society. I know there are plenty of job opportunities in our city.”
“What would you have me do? Order my people to give up the way of life that we’ve known for centuries in order to earn shiny stones?”
“Change is inevitable.”
“Yes,” Leafa agreed, “when it is made willingly and for the right reasons. But what you would have me do is –”
“Perfectly logical,” he interrupted her.
She sighed, leaning her head to one side to examine the King. “Then there’s no changing your mind?”
“I am a king,” he declared. “I never change my mind.”
Leafa could feel Tully tense by her side. She turned to give him a quick, warning gaze, before turning back to the King. “Let it be known to the gods that I came here to do my duty to my people.”
“Be on your way,” the King told her dismissively. He waved his hand, shooing her in the direction of the door.
Gathering up all the dignity she could muster, Leafa turned around, taking the slow, long march back along the red carpet. As she walked, she could feel the courtiers staring at her. How rustic she looked compared to them. In her simple homespun top and skirt, she lacked all the proper baubles and bangles that attended upon nobility in the world of the Hylians. As she made her way to the door, she could hear them laughing at her, pointing at her bare feet and unadorned hair, that grew wild, uncombed, falling around her shoulders.
Before arriving at the door, it was pulled open by a page. On the other side, Leafa found herself face to face with a foreign envoy. She had never seen Hylians like these before. There were five in the pack, four of them Amazonian women with fiery red hair, almost as wild as her own. The women flanked a man in the center, with equally untamed red hair, although he seemed somewhat bald on top. These Hylians were different from the others Leafa had met. They seemed to have a bit of a wild streak to them, and their dress evoked thoughts of the desert.
Tully pulled Leafa off to one side as this company came marching in procession down the carpet, lest she be trampled. “Ganondorf Dragmire, of the Kodiak Gerudo Pride,” the page announced.
“Your highness,” the man said in a gravelly voice as his party approached the throne.
“Come on, Leafa,” Tully said quietly, touching her shoulder. Together, the two of them walked out of the room, salvaging what little dignity they had left. The knight who had first escorted them along the corridors of the castle was gone now and once the doors of the throne room slammed shut, Tully and Leafa found they were quite alone in the castle.
The castle was absolutely buzzing with activity today. Frankly, Impa would rather have taken her young charge off to the field for some breathing space, but for some reason, Princess Zelda insisted on staying near her father this morning. Of course, the young girl wasn’t allowed near the throne room while he was hearing petitions, so Impa lead her down the corridor toward the courtyard.
“Impa?” Zelda asked thoughtfully, tilting her head to one side in a rather catlike gesture she had picked up several years back.
“Yes?” Impa answered, looking down.
“What do you think Ganondorf Dragmire wants with my father?”
“I don’t know,” she replied truthfully.
“Do you think it has something to do with the attack on Kasuto?”
“The attack on Kasuto? That was nearly ten years ago. How did you hear about that?”
“I’ve heard some of the courtiers talking about it from time to time,” the Princess said absently.
“What of it?”
“Some of the survivors say that the Gerudo Pride that began the attack was led by a man. Do you think it could be this Dragmire?”
“I don’t know,” Impa sighed. “I’m afraid I wasn’t there when it happened.” A twinge of guilt passed over Impa’s face and she hid it from the Princess, looking out ahead of her.
“I think the boy in my dream was from Kasuto,” Zelda muttered.
Impa paused, looking down again. “I thought you said he was a Kokiri.”
“Well, he was dressed like one. And he had a fairy with him. But I don’t think he was Kokiri. They couldn’t leave the forest, after all.”
“Perhaps,” Impa shrugged.
It never ceased to amaze her how composed and mature Zelda was. Although only a girl of ten, she bore herself like her mother, the Queen, always with dignity, always with grace. Unlike other children, Zelda never seemed interested in silly entertainments or trifles. She was a thoughtful child, always analyzing the situation around her. When she was in a public sphere, she was deathly silent, but Impa could tell from looking into the girl’s eyes that she was absorbing everything around her.
Today, for some reason, she seemed more regal than usual. Perhaps it was her clothing. Zelda’s dressers had put her in a pink and white gown, bearing the Hylian royal crest in gold and red thread. On her head, she wore a dignified headdress that tucked away her corn silk tresses, making her look a bit older than normal. Aside from her dress, she seemed much more reserved than natural for a child of her age. This immediately caused Impa great suspicion.
“Your majesty?” she said after a moment.
“Have you had more dreams?”
Zelda was silent for awhile. Again, she seemed to be analyzing the question in her unusual manner. Finally, she nodded slightly. “I had one last night,” she admitted softly.
They passed the throne room and the doorway to the courtyard came into sight. “I want you to tell me exactly what you dreamed,” Impa said firmly.
“It was the same as always,” the Princess replied.
“Tell me anything that was different.”
She frowned for a moment. “There was one thing.”
“The boy, the one standing in the shaft of light, he had something in his hands this time.”
“What did he have in his hands?”
“I can’t say for certain,” Zelda responded, “but I think…I think it was the Kokiri Emerald.”
“The Spiritual Stone?”
“Well, that’s interesting.”
Zelda turned away from her companion, glancing out one of the windows to the courtyard. She was silent for a moment. “Father doesn’t believe me,” she murmured quietly.
“You’ve told him about your dreams?”
“Yes. He just thinks I’m imagining it.” Another scowl settled on her delicate features. “Impa?”
“Do you know where the Ocarina of Time is kept?”
Impa was slightly taken aback by this question. “Yes,” she said slowly. “In the artifacts room upstairs.”
“I’d like to see it later.”
“As you wish. I can take you there after we –”
Both Impa and Zelda turned around. Equally surprised, they saw Glas huffing and puffing his way down the corridor. He was dressed in ceremonial Sheikah robes, his long hair pulled back at the base of his neck with a purple ribbon. “Glas,” Impa mumbled.
“I need to speak with you.”
“Glas, I’m with –”
“Go on,” Zelda told her. “I’ll just go outside.”
“But Princess, I –”
“I can stand to be alone in my own courtyard for a few moments, Impa,” Zelda insisted. With that, she turned around and vanished out into the sunlight.
Glas walked over to Impa. “Was that…?”
“Yes.” Impa rounded on him. “What are you doing here?”
“There’s a crisis up in the mountains,” Glas said, taking Impa’s shoulders in his hands. “Yonah’s sending a Sheikah envoy to help.”
“What’s the matter?”
“Apparently, the Gorons have reason to believe that their leader has been abducted.”
“The Goron leader is a man named Darunia,” Impa said absently. “I’ve met him before, he’s a good man.”
“Yes, I know. Which is why we need to help them, if we can.”
She frowned slightly. “And you have to go?”
“There are so few of us left. Everyone else is occupied with royal business. Kaya’s coming with me.”
“Thus assuring a diplomatic failure,” Impa deadpanned.
Glas smirked. “Give her some credit. She did help us out of a tight spot during a certain first contact situation.”
“Of course…” Impa blinked suddenly. “Who’s going to watch Shayla? If Kaya’s going with you…”
“She’s going to have to stay here with you,” Glas answered.
“What? No. No that’s utterly impossible.”
“I’m sorry, Glas. But do you have any idea how difficult that will be?”
“You’re watching after one child. Another shouldn’t be too terrible. And Shayla isn’t high maintenance. She can feed and dress herself.”
“But suppose someone suddenly asks about her? What am I going to say?”
“Is it so shameful to say that you’re watching after your own daughter for awhile?”
“They’ll think I’m not taking my job seriously.”
“I’m certain they won’t.”
She closed her eyes for a moment. “All right, all right, bring Shayla to the castle.”
“I already have,” he replied with a grin. “Kaya’s watching her for a few moments.”
“Kaya’s corrupting my child no doubt. She’s probably…” Impa trailed off as her eyes suddenly wandered to the window. Sitting in the courtyard, she saw Zelda. But the Princess wasn’t alone. She was with a young boy, one Impa had never seen before. His dress was shabby and peasant like and immediately, Impa took alarm.
Glas had followed her gaze. “He’s just a child. Relax.” He reached out and took Impa’s shoulders, turning her away from the window.
“What’s he doing out there? He’s not permitted here!”
“Relax,” Glas said soothingly.
Impa sighed. “How long are you going to be gone, Glas?”
“I don’t know. Why? Will you miss me?”
She smacked his arm. “That isn’t funny. Of course I’m going to miss you.”
He smiled gently. “I’m glad to hear it. I’m very loveable, you know. Everyone says so.”
The door to the throne room suddenly slammed open. Out from the room marched five Gerudo warriors, four female and one male. Without paying much attention to the Sheikahs standing in the middle of the hallway, they marched away in the opposite direction, the male pausing only briefly to throw an angry glare at the window. Clearly, this meeting had not gone as planned.
“You are incorrigible,” Impa whispered as the noisy footsteps of the Gerudo party receded into the distance.
“I know. That’s why you love me so much.”
Slowly, Impa allowed herself to smile. “Do I?”
“Well, I certainly love you.”
“I suppose I love you too.”
“Oh? You suppose?”
“Sometimes I forget.”
Glas leaned forward, resting his forehead against hers. “Well,” he whispered quietly, his voice harkening back to a time ten years ago. “I’ll just have to remind you.” He kissed her tenderly.
“Don’t be away too long.”
“I won’t be,” he promised. With that, he backed away, taking one last amorous look at his wife before turning around and disappearing around a corner.
Impa sighed softly, watching him leave. Although her lips were still warm from his kiss, she forced herself to shake her head, pushing aside all the feelings that were welling up in her chest. Clearing her throat, she squared her shoulders, turning to face the courtyard with staunch resolution. There was work to be done. She would see about this strange boy who had the nerve and the audacity to sneak an unauthorized visit with Princess Zelda.
“Disgraceful!” Tully snorted, balling his hands up into fists at his sides. “That’s what it is. An utter humiliation. I don’t know how you could stand there and take it, Leafa!”
“What would you have me do?” Leafa hissed back. “Jump up onto the dais and throttle him in front of all his courtiers and bodyguards?”
“I would have done it if you had ordered me to,” Tully replied bitterly. “Or even if you hadn’t stopped me.”
“Because violence easily resolves everything,” Leafa muttered.
They had been wandering the corridors of the castle for half an hour now. With no one to escort them out, they found themselves somewhat lost. The people they passed only gave them disdainful looks, so Leafa resolved that they would find their own way out, rather than suffer the humiliation of having to speak with any of these Hylians. Unfortunately, the castle was a veritable labyrinth to two Humans more accustomed to the simplistic huts of the Kakariko village.
“Leafa, he claimed our village for his own.”
“I know, Tully,” she sighed. “I know.”
“What are we going to do now?”
She scowled. “I wish I had an answer.”
“This would never have happened if –”
“If I hadn’t given them permission to build their castle so close to our lands,” Leafa finished for him.
“I wasn’t going to blame you,” Tully said quietly.
She nodded slightly. “I know. I just wanted to say it so you wouldn’t have to dance around the subject.”
“Why did you agree to let them?”
“Because we only met the Sheikah. We didn’t know what the other Hylians would be like.” She paused for a moment. “And at the time, I genuinely believed that we were ready to enter into a larger world.”
Tully was silent for a moment. “I felt so too,” he admitted at long last. “At the time.”
“As did many others. I did what I believed would be best for the village. How was I to know about the arrogance of their King?”
They had come to a chamber that neither remembered. It was a small, alcove off to one side of the hustle and bustle of the great hall. The walls and ceiling were constructed of the same stone that made up the outside of the castle. Three of the walls of the hexagon, the ones opposite the door, had large stain glass windows, each one depicting a different image of the Hylian goddesses. When Leafa looked down, she realized that they were treading on an engraved map of Hyrule. She sighed softly. Her foot was directly on top of Kakariko.
“What’s to become of us, Leafa?” Tully asked quietly, looking down at her foot with a forlorn expression.
“I don’t know,” Leafa answered, slowly removing her foot. As she did, she realized that engraved on the village were several small icons, depicting Human males as barbarian savages, wearing loincloths and hunting wild animals with spears and Human females as completely naked, dancing around a fire.
“Is this how they see us?”
She nodded grimly. “I guess so.”
“Well, let them.”
Leafa looked up at him. “What?”
“I say we return to our isolation. When we let them build on our land, we said we wanted to become part of the larger world, not submit to it.”
“Tully, what you’re suggesting is impossible.”
“Why not? We lived for centuries without any contact with the Hylians. Why can’t we severe the links now?”
“For one thing, our people are living in their village now.”
“We can call them back or give them the option of staying with their newfound Hylian friends.”
“For another thing,” she continued over him, “the King now perceives us as part of his land. We can’t change his mind as quickly as our own.”
“Then we can’t try?”
“The world only spins forward,” Leafa told him gently. “We can’t go back to the way we were. We can only go forward.”
Tully leaned against the wall, running a hand through the cornrows covering his scalp. “Then…we pay the tithe?”
“I don’t see how we can avoid it.”
“And I don’t see how we can afford it,” he countered.
“Then…I suppose we’ll just have to take up the King’s offer and sacrifice our people to the workforce.”
“This is a terrible day in our people’s history.”
“I know,” she told him, reaching out to pat his arm comfortingly. “I know.” She had to choke back her own sobs. If Tully was putting on a brave front for her, the least she could do was return the favor.
They heard footsteps clambering down the hall. A moment later, the Gerudo envoy they had passed in the throne room appeared, marching in formation past the alcove where they were standing. They seemed to be prepared to go by without any acknowledgement of the Humans, but abruptly, the man leading the pack held up his hand. All of them stopped, following his gaze as he turned to look intently at Leafa and Tully.
“You are Basileaus Leafa of Kakariko?” the Gerudo man asked in a low, gravelly voice.
“Yes,” Leafa replied, pulling herself up to full height to face the stranger.
Touching his forehead, the Gerudo prince bowed respectfully to her. “Peace and long life, Basileaus,” he said.
Leafa blinked in surprise. Recovering quickly, she held up her hands in salute. “Peace and long life…?”
“Dragmire,” he supplied. “Ganondorf Dragmire.”
“Peace and long life, Ganondorf Dragmire,” she said courteously.
“I’ve heard about the treatment you’ve received at the hands of the Hylian King,” he told her.
“Oh…that…” Leafa scowled, the humiliation renewing itself in her memory, much against her wishes.
Ganondorf watched her carefully as his female companions exchanged looks that were completely unreadable. “I am sorry to hear of it.”
“Thank you very much,” she said, blinking in surprise. “I wasn’t aware that the plight of my people was widely known.”
“The Gerudo like to keep informed about what’s going on in
,” he explained. North Castle
Tully cleared his throat loudly. “Oh.” Leafa turned to gesture to Tully. “My champion, Tully.”
“Peace and long life, Tully.”
“Peace and long life, sir,” Tully answered.
Absently, Ganondorf gestured to a woman on his left. “My lieutenant, Alpha Sarjenka of the Kodiak Gerudo Pride.”
“Peace and long life, Sarjenka,” Leafa said.
“Peace and long life,” Sarjenka replied in a rather droll voice.
“The way the King has treated the minorities of Hyrule has been appalling,” Ganondorf continued. “Something must be done about it.”
“I suppose so,” Leafa said quietly.
Ganondorf seemed to examine her for a moment, looking deep into her very heart. “Perhaps something is already underway,” he said softly. There was a tense silence which followed. Ganondorf watched Leafa, waiting to see her reaction, but she seemed to have none. Finally, at long last, he cleared his throat. “Of course, if action were taken against the King, I’m certain your village would be left unharmed.”
“I would hope,” Leafa answered.
“Peace and long life to you both,” Ganondorf said, imitating the gesture he had seen Leafa use earlier. Without further ado, he snapped his fingers once and the Gerudo envoy continued on through the hall, disappearing from sight.
When the echoes of their footsteps were stilled, Tully walked to Leafa’s elbow. “What do you think that meant?” he asked softly.
“I’m not sure,” she replied.
“It sounded to me like he’s planning an insurrection.”
“You didn’t object.”
“Which led him to promise to spare our village.”
Tully scowled. “Do you really think something’s going to happen?”
“Well,” she said slowly, “if it is, at least it won’t be to us.”
“But what about the King?”
Shayla was doing her best to teach Kaya how to play her favorite game, but the Sheikah warrior simply refused to follow the rules. “No, no, no,” Shayla said with a sigh that sounded horrifically like her mother, “you can’t try to tag me when I’m sneaking up on you!”
“But you said the only way to get a point is to tag the other person,” Kaya said with a smile, peeking out from in between her fingers.
“You can’t score a point when it’s my turn,” Shayla insisted.
“Why not?” Kaya asked, grinning.
“Because it’s against the rules!”
Kaya dropped her hands away from her face. “Rules are meant to be broken, Shayla.”
“That’s not what momma says.”
“Well,” Kaya tilted her head to one side. “Of course not. It’s your mother’s job to teach you about rules and such. It’s your favorite aunt’s job to teach you about the fun stuff.”
“But Aunt Phebe says I should follow the rules too.”
Laughing brightly, Kaya picked up Shayla, swinging her through the air upside down. “I’m your favorite aunt,” she insisted.
Shayla squealed with delight. “Not you’re not!” she cried.
Kaya swung the girl from side to side. “We have a stubborn one here,” she mumbled, mimicking Impa’s voice. “It’s going to take a lot to break her.” She clutched Shayla’s ankles and bounced her. “Say I’m your favorite!”
“No!” Shayla shouted stubbornly.
“Say it!” Kaya insisted, bouncing her again.
“I won’t, I won’t, I won’t!” Shayla declared.
“Say it! Say, ‘My favorite aunt is Aunt –’”
“Kaya!” Glas appeared on the far end of the hall.
“Busted,” Shayla whispered.
“Kaya, put her down!” Glas came racing through the corridor, grabbing Shayla around the middle and pulling her away from Kaya.
Sighing, Kaya released Shayla’s ankles, relinquishing custody to her father. “We were just having fun,” she muttered.
“Fun is perfectly good,” Glas said, setting his daughter upright, on her feet once more. “When it doesn’t involved splitting my child’s head open.”
“I wouldn’t have dropped her,” Kaya insisted. She folded her arms, pausing for a moment before she continued. “What did Impa say?”
“Impa will look after Shayla while we’re gone.”
“Do you have to go, poppa?” Shayla asked, clutching the bottom of Glas’ robes in her tiny fists.
“Yes,” Glas replied, ruffling her hair, “I do.”
“Because that’s what Grandma Yonah ordered.”
“Because we need to go help the Gorons.”
“Because their leader is missing and we have to find him.”
“Because if we don’t, they’ll run out of food and start eating little girls!” Kaya cried. For emphasis, she spread out her fingers like claws, lunging forward at Shayla with a menacing growl. Shayla shrieked in delight.
Glas did not look amused. “Kaya…”
“I’m only joking,” Kaya sighed. “She didn’t believe it, did she? You’re too smart for that kind of talk, aren’t you, Shayla?”
“Yup!” Shayla declared firmly.
He chuckled slightly. Glas could certainly appreciate a good joke. As long as Shayla knew it was just a joke. “Will you give us a moment, Kaya?”
“Sure,” Kaya replied with a nod. “I’m going to go see if our horses are ready or not.”
“Try not to talk about anything too serious while I’m gone,” Kaya said, stooping over to give Shayla a quick peck on the cheek. With that, she went off down the hallway, vanishing around a bend.
Carefully, Glas knelt down in front of Shayla, taking both of her hands in his. “You’re going to be good while I’m gone, right?”
“You won’t give your mother a hard time?”
Shayla sighed. “I promise, poppa.”
“Good girl,” he said, smiling affectionately.
“Will you be gone a long time, poppa?”
“No,” Glas said. “It shouldn’t be too long at all.”
“And when I get back, you can tell me about all your adventures.”
“While you’re spending time in the castle.”
“I get to stay in the castle?” she asked, her eyes getting wild and wide with excitement.
“Of course. This is where your mother works.”
“Do monsters live here?”
He blinked in surprise. “Where did you get such a silly idea?”
“Aunt Kaya said that there’s a Skullwalltula living in the castle, below the master bedroom.”
“Aunt Kaya says a lot of things,” Glas muttered with a grimace. “No, Shayla, there are no monsters in
.” North Castle
“Oh,” she mumbled with a look of disappointment.
“But you can spend the time with your mother. You can see all the important things she comes here to do every day.”
Shayla paused to consider this. “Can’t I go with you?” she finally questioned him innocently.
“Why would you want to do that?”
“I want to see the Gorons.”
“Because they’re so big!”
He smiled fondly. A part of him was rather proud of Shayla for remembering that Gorons were the largest of the Hylian races, even if she couldn’t tell the fictional Gerudo Ruby from the actual Goron Ruby. “I wish I could take you,” he told her truthfully, “but you know I can’t.”
“Grandma Yonah wouldn’t like it?”
Shayla shrugged. “Well, that’s okay,” she decided. “You can tell me all about it when you get back.”
“On my honor,” he said, dragging a finger across his heart. “Now give your father a hug.”
She surged forward, wrapping her arms around Glas’ neck. He smiled, patting her back lightly. “That’s my girl.”
“I love you, poppa,” she whispered in his ear.
“I love you, Shayla,” he replied.
Quickly, she kissed his cheek then took a step back, a big, broad smile glowing from her face. Some footsteps came echoing through the hallway and soon Kaya appeared once more. “Ready to get going?” she inquired, looking directly at the teary eyed Glas.
“Yes, yes,” he muttered, standing up and smoothing down the front of his plum colored robes.
“There aren’t any horses available, so we’ll have to go down the road to borrow a few from that ranch.”
“The one with that annoying hired hand?”
“That’s the one.”
Glas sighed. “We suffer for our duty.”
“Goodbye, Aunt Kaya,” Shayla said.
Kaya grinned broadly, leaning over to look at Shayla. “Goodbye, kiddo. Be good, okay?”
“You too, Aunt Kaya!”
“I’m always on my best behavior,” she sniffed, pretending to appear indignant, although she couldn’t hide her smile.
“Yeah, right, Aunt Kaya.”
A small chuckle escaped from Glas. “What can I say? She must have picked that up from her mother.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Kaya sighed. “Come on, we’ve gotta get out of here.”
Shayla continued to wave goodbye to Kaya and Glas, even after they had disappeared from her sight. Left alone in the hallway, she wondered what she was supposed to do now. With a shrug, she turned around, examining the walls for a few minutes before she grew bored. Sighing again, she walked over to a window, peering out to the courtyard below. Down there, she saw her mother, sitting by a rose bush with a girl roughly Shayla’s age. They seemed to be talking about something very serious and very important. Shayla could tell because they weren’t stirring a lot, but their mouths were moving. She leaned forward slightly, pressing her nose against the glass, wondering what could possibly be so important that a little girl, just like her, would sit so still!
Impa shifted her weight, reaching out a hand to touch the little girl’s shoulder. She moved forward, saying something that she clearly didn’t want anyone else to hear. The little girl nodded, glancing nervously over her shoulder. Suddenly, Impa reached into a little pouch hanging from her belt. From it, she removed a shiny black ocarina, which she offered to the little girl. The child took the ocarina, examining it closely before she finally nodded again. What was that about?
Leafa tore down the hallways of the castle, Tully struggling to keep up with his lithe leader. Her guilt was absolutely tearing her apart. How could she have permitted herself to feel so vindictive? She and Tully had been halfway out of the castle when it finally set in what she was doing; she was leaving the King to suffer a Gerudo attack, unaware of the dangers. What a terrible thing! Leafa simply could not allow herself to be so petty, in spite of the way she and her people had been treated by the disgraceful Hylian monarch.
Unfortunately, neither of them knew how to find the throne room again, so they raced through the corridors, trying to navigate the path once more. Several times, Leafa paused to ask a passerby, but generally, the courtier merely looked at her ragged clothing and her flushed face and burst into hysterical laughter. Frustrated, Tully once backed one such courtier into a wall, trying to make it clear how urgent the matter was. This merely served to scare the nobleman, thus confirming all the ridiculous stereotypes that had developed among the Hylians about the Human race.
“I don’t think they deserve this warning,” Tully said, and not for the first time since the frantic chase began.
“They’re not all like this,” Leafa called back to him. “Remember the Sheikah. Remember our friends.”
Tully couldn’t argue with that. The Sheikah had always been good to the Humans, especially their friends Kaya and Glas. And he supposed it was unfair to judge an entire society, based on the behavior of their upper crust. Still, a certain amount of resentment filled his head as he imagined, with horror, the base Hylians treating his son and daughter in the same manner they now abused their father. He wouldn’t allow it to happen.
“What are we going to say?” Tully asked.
“I don’t know.”
“All we know is that Dragmire made a threat against the monarchy and promised to spare our village.”
“Well, that’s something!”
“What if he doesn’t believe us?”
“That’s his folly,” Leafa replied. “We will have done our duty.”
“And what is our duty to them?”
“To treat them as we would have them treat us.”
“They won’t reciprocate.”
“That doesn’t matter in this.”
He sighed at her moralizing. “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
Leafa slowed to a stop as they came to a fork in the path. “But three lefts make a right,” she muttered, glancing first to the left and then to the right.
“Right,” she decided after a moment. Together, they took off once more, flying down the hall.
“This looks vaguely familiar,” Tully noted.
He gestured to a few portraits on the wall, supposedly of famous monarchs from generations past. “I think we’ve been by this before.”
She examined the paintings as they sprinted by. “Yes…”
“I know that looks familiar,” he added, pointing out at a decorative suit of armor standing against one wall.
“This is the right way!”
A stitch was beginning to form in Leafa’s side. With a grimace, she groaned inwardly, reminding herself that she was no longer a teenager. As she glanced over her shoulder, she realized that her champion too was struggling to maintain this speed. How she hated feeling old! Once again, she found herself considering the untaken path in her life. She could have been someone so different from who she was. She wondered if she could allow herself to regret her decisions. No, she decided coldly, there was no room for regret. Not now. Not with so many important matters weighing heavily on the speed of her legs.
They took a sharp turn, the pathway suddenly becoming clear to them, inexperienced though they were. Moving in perfect harmony, they made their way up a steep incline, carpeted with purple and gold fabric, passing a few more extravagant sculptures and paintings. Taking a final turn, Leafa stopped short, holding her arm out to instruct Tully to do the same. Before them, they saw the massive double doors of the throne room. The doors were shut now. Standing out in front of them were five knights, wearing ceremonial tunics rather than armor, all of them holding Hylian standards and staring at the Humans.
“You’re in an awful hurry,” one of them said. Leafa immediately recognized him as the Captain. His name was Starvling.
“I must speak with the King,” Leafa panted.
“Do you have an appointment?” Starvling sneered.
“I was just here this morning!” she cried.
Starvling turned to his lieutenant. “I’m sorry, who is this person?”
“I don’t know, sir,” the lieutenant replied with a shrug.
“She is Leafa!” Tully cried. “Basileaus of Kakariko!”
“I’m sorry, I’m afraid I can’t let you in,” Starvling said in a most sing song like manner.
“You must!” Leafa shouted. “It’s urgent!”
“I’m sorry, the King is busy.”
“But this is a matter of life and death!”
“Surely it can’t be that important. News that urgent doesn’t usually find its way to the King in the form of a Kludge.”
Leafa blinked, taking a step back. She had heard the word ‘Kludge’ before. Some of the villagers who were forced to work for the Hylians had told her of it. Apparently, it was the ancient Hylian word for ‘donkey.’ The Hylians had begun to refer to the Humans by this word. Immediately, indignation rose within the Basileaus of Kakariko.
“How dare you,” she growled.
“I think you’ve made her angry, Captain,” one of the knights said.
The Captain chuckled. “Kludges are so funny when they’re angry. They can sit there and glare and glare and there’s nothing they can do about it.” He turned back to Leafa. “Be on your way, Human.” Roughly, he pushed her back.
This was the final straw. Letting out another growl, Leafa surged forward, her nails poised to gouge out his eyes. At the last moment, the Captain turned his head, so she clawed at his cheek, drawing five threads of bright red blood. Immediately, the other knights fell on her. She kicked one in the stomach, sending him flying across the hall and into a wall. Tully sprang into action, rushing to defend his leader. Two of the knights closing in on Leafa turned abruptly, each of them grabbing one of Tully’s massive arms and pulling him back, pinning him against a wall.
The chief lieutenant grabbed Leafa around the waist, throwing her roughly to the ground. Starvling had recovered by this point. He walked past his lieutenant and stood over Leafa. Angrily, she shot her foot out, kicking him in the shins. This didn’t seem to hurt him much, but he fell to his knees anyway, pushing Leafa’s shoulders to the ground with his hands and sitting on her torso.
“Leafa!” Tully shouted, struggling against the Hylians holding him back. The two knights who weren’t holding him down rushed to join their friends. While Tully was a strong man, four against one were too much for him, especially after his exhausting run through the castle.
Starvling leaned forward, putting his face right into Leafa’s with a menacing grin. “Was there something you wanted to say to me, Kludge?”
She spat in his face. “No.”
At once, he pulled his hand back and struck her. “I said, was there something you wanted to say to me?”
Slowly, Leafa turned her face back to look at Starvling. Drudging up all her resolve, she quietly muttered, “I’m sorry.”
“What was that? I couldn’t hear you.”
“I’m sorry!!!” she roared, her voice echoing all the way down the hall. Her humiliation stretched further than that.
“That’s a good Kludge,” he whispered. Menacingly, he leaned forward, panting a light kiss on her lips. Leafa turned her face away in disgust. “I think she’s learned her lesson,” he said cheerfully, standing up and getting off of Leafa. “Let them be on their way.”
The guards holding Tully let go of him. Roughly, he stepped away from the wall, straightening out his tunic. After exchanging glares with the Hylians, he crossed the hallway to Leafa and offered her a hand, gently pulling her up to her feet. “Let’s go, Tully,” she said quietly.
Kaya glanced to one side at Glas. “Why are you being so quiet?” she asked him carefully.
“Why are you being so quiet?”
Glas turned to look at her. He seemed to be considering his word choice warily. “I’m just thinking.”
“That’s a nasty habit.” Silence. “About what?”
“You don’t like leaving her, do you?”
He laughed a little. “No. I hate being apart from her.”
They had come to the gates around the outermost part of the castle grounds. The sun was sinking slowly beneath the horizon, leaving the sky a magnificent shade of orange, rather like the insides of a mango, somewhat pink, somewhat yellow. As they approached the gate, several knights hurried, their armor clanking, to the door mechanism. They began turning the crank, lowering the drawbridge. Glas and Kaya paused, watching the surprisingly simple wooden plank drop down over the murky water of the moat.
“She’ll be okay,” Kaya told Glas gently.
“Yeah, I know.”
“So why are you so thoughtful?”
“She’s going to be ten soon, you know.”
Kaya nodded. “On the anniversary of the attack on Kasuto.”
“I prefer to think of it as the anniversary of her birth.”
The drawbridge hit the ground with a fantastic boom which shook the gate and they began walking again, Glas politely waving to one of the guards. “You know what today is?” he asked.
“It’s the tenth anniversary of our first contact with the Human village.”
“No. Has it really been ten years?”
Glas nodded. “Ten years ago yesterday, Sojef first mistook Impa for a wind goddess.”
“Boy did he miss the mark.”
On the other side of the gate, Glas gestured vaguely to the knights and they began to turn the wheel again, pulling the drawbridge back up. He started down the road, Kaya trotting to keep up with him. “I’m worried that Shayla won’t be ready for her rites,” he said after awhile.
He looked at her in surprise. “You do?”
Kaya nodded. “Impa asked me if I would be willing to put in a few hours, training Shayla.” She paused for a moment. “Glas, maybe she’s meant to follow your path. You didn’t want to be a warrior, after all.”
“I still went through my initiations,” Glas answered. “I didn’t close any doors until I decided what I wanted. Shayla’s too young to make a decision so great that will affect the rest of her life.”
“I suppose you’re right,” Kaya sighed. “Still, I think that maybe she –”
She was cut off suddenly by the loud whinny of a horse. Glas and Kaya both looked up sharply to see a fairly large white mare with a gray mane, bucking up on her hind legs and straining against a rope that was tying her to a tree. “Filly?”
“That’s Impa’s horse,” Glas said, taking off in the direction of the mare.
“What’s it doing out here?” Kaya asked, chasing after him.
“I don’t know,” he replied. He reached the horse, taking Filly’s nose in his hands and gently patting her side. She seemed to recognize him and stopped bucking at once. Carefully, he reached around her neck and untied her from the tree. “Easy girl,” he whispered, stroking her side.
When she arrived, Kaya leaned over and picked up the rope. Curiously, she turned it over in her hands for a moment or two, then leaned in close and sniffed it. “Glas.”
“This rope is made of hemp.”
“Hemp is native to the Ger –”
From the shadows of the tree’s branches, a hand reached down, clamping onto Kaya’s shoulder. With savage strength, she was thrust forward, her head bashed against the trunk of the tree. Before Glas could react, he heard a swift noise as several figures fell out of the branches, landing behind him. Filly neighed indignantly, kicking her hooves up and taking off down the road, back to the castle.
When Glas turned around, he saw several Gerudo warriors standing behind him, all of them brandishing weapons. He lifted his arms to show compliance, but one of the more headstrong women took this for a threat. She jumped forward, kneeing him in the stomach and grabbing his shoulders to push him down the ground. His nose cracked against a tree root and blood began gushing forth. On his side, he could hear Kaya struggling against the person who grabbed her from the tree. When he looked up, holding a hand over his nose, he saw her flung at his side, falling onto her knees and nursing a split lip.
“Necks!” one of the Gerudo women barked. Immediately, Glas felt a hand on his head. One of the Gerudos grabbed his hair, yanking it back violently to expose his unprotected neck. Beside him, he heard Kaya struggle as another warrior did the same to her.
“Sheikah scum,” one of the other Gerudos scoffed.
The first woman extended her arm, pointing her sword at Glas’ neck. She pulled back making to slit his throat when suddenly someone Glas couldn’t see clamped a hand down on her wrist. “No,” a deep voice told her.
Immediately, the woman returned her swords to the scabbards on her belt. “Yes, master.”
The person holding Glas’ hair back released it and Glas straightened himself out. When he looked up, he saw the imposing figure of the Gerudo prince standing before him. He wore dark brown armor all over his body. What little skin was revealed was a sickly color, almost green, not at all the healthy hues of a normal Gerudo. His wild mane of red hair primarily climbed down the back of his neck while the top of his head was somewhat bald, a fact half hidden by the jeweled circlet he wore. He looked down his long, pointed nose at Glas, a small smile on his narrow face.
“I’ve seen you before,” Ganondorf said calmly.
“Can’t say the same,” Glas replied, trying his best to keep his calm. At his side, he could feel Kaya squirming. He turned to look at her, but the Gerudo behind him grabbed his head, forcing him to look back at Ganondorf.
“You will not turn away from our leader,” she said in no uncertain tones.
Ganondorf, meanwhile, folded his arms across his massive chest, still eyeing Glas. “I saw him with the Sheikah nursemaid.”
“Princess Zelda’s guardian?” the sword wielder asked.
“Yes, Sarjenka.” He paused for a moment. “What was her name again?”
“Ah yes, yes.” Ganondorf looked Glas in the eyes. “I suppose all Sheikahs know each other. There are so few of you left.”
“Wish I could say the same for Gerudos!” Kaya shouted angrily.
Wearily, Ganondorf threw her a bored look. “You,” he said calmly, “I have not seen with the Princess’s guardian. This makes you expendable.” He glanced at one of his warriors. “Drag her off into the woods and kill her.”
There was a great scuffle to Glas’ side, but he was unable to turn his head to see what was going on. He could hear Kaya struggling. Some of the Gerudos in his sightlines disappeared to help their companion maintain control of Kaya. Already, he could hear the noise of the fray disappearing into the distance as Kaya was doubtlessly dragged toward the woods. Desperately, he fought against the hands on his head, trying to turn and catch the eye of his companion, but the Gerudo was far stronger than he was and kept him staring at Ganondorft.
Dragmire, for his part, watched the fray progress, both admiring and laughing at Kaya’s spirited attempts to break free. Finally, shadows consumed the mangled mass of limbs and Ganondorf turned back to his other prisoner. “You,” he said coldly, “might prove more useful.”
“I won’t help you,” Glas declared.
“Of course you won’t,” Ganondorf replied cheerfully. “You are a Sheikah, stiff upper lip and all. You will defend the royal family to the bitter end, like your father and grandfather and all your ancestors before you.”
“Master,” Sarjenka said quietly, “the attack. We need to move if we’re going to succeed.”
Ganondorf sighed. “Ah, yes. Right as usual, Sarjenka.”
“You have to get to the rendezvous point.”
He glanced at Glas again. “I’m sorry to cut this meeting short,” he said with mock sincerity. “I hope you understand; duty calls.”
“You’ll never get the Princess,” Glas told him softly.
At this, Dragmire laughed, almost merrily, if it were possible. “The Princess? You silly, silly man. What would I want with the Princess? I’m after something much, much more valuable.”
The Gerudo wagged a finger at him. “I’m so sorry, but I simply can’t allow you to distract me. I have matters to attend to.” He turned to Sarjenka. “Deal with him.” And with that, he walked away, mounting a black steed that one of his other servants brought out of the shadows for him. With a ferocious, “Ya!” he kicked his horses flanks and rode away at a swift gallop, heading off in the direction of North Castle and leaving Glas alone with the Gerudo women.
The courtyard was getting dark as the bright orange of the sky turned to a mellower, dark shade. Shayla had managed to find her way there with the advice of a kindly knight who pointed her in the right direction. As she wandered out, she looked up at the sky, humming softly to herself the little song she had written yesterday. She could hear her mother’s voice in the distance and followed the sound, picking at the little balls of lint on her bodice.
Boring though the castle seemed to her, the garden was incredible, unlike anything she had seen before. The bushes grew thick with wild roses of a variety of colors that dazzled her young imagination. Up ahead of her, she spotted a weeping willow with ivy growing up the bark in an elegant and delicate circular pattern. The air was fragrant, rich with the scent of lilacs. Squealing with delight, she spotted a patch of cattails and ran over to them, running her hands along the fuzzy, narrow stalks and yanking them, much like she pulled the tail of their neighbor’s annoying long haired cat, Reggie.
Almost at once, she heard the grass parting abruptly. She looked up quickly and her eyes immediately met with those of her mother, pushing aside the foliage to investigate the strange squeal. “Shayla!” she cried.
“Look, it’s Reggie’s tail!” Shayla told her happily.
“Come out of there,” Impa said, picking up Shayla around the waist and pulling her out of the bushes. She set her down on a bank of emerald green grass, by a small pond with a bridge and trellis on the opposite bank. Standing near the water was the young girl Shayla had seen from the window, her face half shadowed by the ridiculous headdress on her head. She looked up curiously as Impa pulled a little Sheikah out of the bushes.
“What’s going on?” she asked. “Who’s that?”
Impa turned Shayla around to face her. “Princess Zelda, this is Shayla. Shayla, this is Princess Zelda.”
Zelda gathered up her skirts in her hands, curtsying deeply to the new girl with a polite, “How do you do?”
Shayla seemed delighted by this formality and immediately returned the gesture with a deep, “How do you do?”
“Answer the question, Shayla,” Impa said. “Say, ‘I’m very well. Thank you, your majesty.’”
“I’m very well. Thank you, your majesty,” Shayla echoed, perfectly imitating her mother’s tone of voice.
Curiously, Zelda examined her. “Are you a Sheikah?” she asked.
Before Shayla could answer, Impa turned her face up to the sky, clearing her throat. “It’s getting late. We should go inside.”
“Will you be joining us, Shayla?”
“I think so,” Shayla replied.
Impa put a firm hand on each girl’s shoulder, turning them toward the castle. “Inside. It’s time that we were –” But she stopped suddenly, turning her face out toward the high wall surrounding the castle grounds.
“What?” Zelda prompted her after a moment. “What is it?”
Frowning, Impa continued to stare out into the distance. “I’m not sure,” she answered. “Something isn’t right.” She tightened her grip on Zelda’s shoulder. “Let’s get inside.”
There was no argument from either of the girls. In hushed silence, they allowed Impa to steer them back through the garden, taking the most direct path to the arched doorway back inside of the castle. On the other side, Impa turned around, closing and locking the doors. Once that was done, Impa hoped that her fears would depart, but she felt a cold shiver run up her spine and immediately knew something was very wrong. Across the hall was the small side door to the throne room. She led Shayla and Zelda through it, closing the door behind them.
The throne room was more or less deserted, as the King had stopped hearing petitions nearly an hour ago. Impa was somewhat surprised at the absence of courtiers loitering around the walls, but she shrugged it off. After all, she was never a fan of all the decorum and pomp. Up on the dais, the King had turned his throne around to look out the stained glass window. She knew he was there though, as she could see the top of his crown.
Releasing the girls, Impa walked past them, climbing the bottom step of the dais. “Your majesty?” she called. Much to her surprise, there was no response from the old King. Taking another step up to the dais, she tried again. “Sire?”
“Father?” Zelda murmured, walking down the red carpet with Shayla trailing after her.
Again, there was no response. “Your highness,” Impa snapped irritably. She got to the top of the dais and walked around the throne to look him in the eyes. Her breath caught in her throat and she struggled to stifle so much as the slightest sound. It was difficult, but she managed to harden her face to the sight before her.
The King was dead. Not only dead, but freshly so. As Impa looked, she saw that his downy beard had been cut away and his throat slit. Fresh blood was still trickling out of the wound. He stared up at the window with glazed eyes, fixed at nothing in particular. His mouth was open in an expression of awe or horror, which, Impa could not tell. It seemed that there had been a fight. The King’s royal robes were askew and there were several bruises on his face. On the floor, Impa now noticed several teeth.
“Father?” Zelda said again.
Impa forced herself to look away, hurrying back down the stairs again. “We have to get out of here,” she whispered fiercely.
“What’s going on?” Shayla asked.
“There’s no time for questions. We have to go.” Impa put her hands on the girls’ shoulders and was about to lead them out again when she noticed some movement out of the corner of her eye. Abruptly, she spun around, throwing a vicious punch which made solid contact with the jaw of the Gerudo warrior who had been attempting to sneak up behind them.
Both the girls screamed, backing away from the sudden scramble. Impa, meanwhile, reached out and grabbed the Gerudo around the throat, lifting her up into the air and throwing her up against the stairs of the dais. Quickly, the Gerudo recovered from the unplanned flight and sprang to her feet, drawing two long blades from her belt. She crossed them in front of her for a moment then began a wild display, thrusting the swords over and under each other and spinning the hilts in her hands. When she finished her routine, she held the swords out to either side, daring Impa to approach.
In two swift strides, Impa crossed the expanse between them, pulled her fist back, and punched the Gerudo in the face. The swords went flying to either side, skidding across the floor, and the warrior stumbled back, tripping over the steps to the dais and falling flat on her back, her arms and legs akimbo. Impa reached down and grabbed the Gerudo by her shoulders, lifting her clean off the ground. She crossed the floor swiftly, smashing the woman’s back up against the wall, her feet dangling several inches off of the ground.
“What have you done?” Impa growled, narrowing her cold, crimson eyes at the warrior.
“You may kill me and win this battle,” the Gerudo declared in her rich, exotic accent, “but you will never win the war.”
“The war with who?”
“No one can stop him!” the Gerudo shouted.
Impa slammed her back against the wall again. “Who?”
“Ganondorf Dragmire,” Zelda whispered, her bright blue eyes growing wide with fear.
Laughing menacingly, the Gerudo smiled. “Your little one speaks right,” she said fiercely. “No one can stop him now.”
“It’s begun,” Zelda murmured.
“Guards!” Impa shouted to the doors.
Again, the Gerudo laughed. “Dead,” she spat. “All dead.”
“Then I’ll have to dispose of you myself,” Impa hissed. With a loud, animal like roar, she hefted the Gerudo up into the air and threw her across the room, sending her crashing through the stained glass window above the dead King. The window shattered on the impact and as the Gerudo warrior dropped out of sight, plummeting down into the moat, no doubt, showers of red, purple, blue, and gold glass fell to the floor of the throne room, glimmering in the dying sunlight like fireflies.
As the final shambles of the window fell, a curl of dark black smoke came up through the opening. Impa sniffed and realized with terror that something was on fire in the castle. “The Gerudos are attacking the castle,” she whispered fiercely to herself, finally understanding the sense of alarm she had felt back in the courtyard.
“By Nayru…” Zelda muttered. Impa cringed, wishing that her young charge hadn’t heard that. “Are they really?”
“So it seems,” Impa answered softly. She turned around, swiftly crossing the room and picking up Zelda like a rag doll. “We have to get out of here. Now.”
It was getting late. As the boy walked down the road, he glanced up at the sky. He was fairly certain he could see a few purple stars beginning to spot the horizon, although there was no way of being sure if they were really stars, or merely fireflies. Regardless of which, they brought a small smile to his face. There was just something about shiny objects that seemed to move him.
His pockets jangled softly as he felt the three Spiritual Stones clatter against one another. They were certainly shiny. He only hoped they were worth the effort it had taken to retrieve them. In all of his life, he couldn’t ever remember working so hard to obtain so little. Well, he reasoned, at least the worst was over. He had won, against all odds and now he knew that there would be no more trouble. That’s what Zelda had told him after all. If they had the Spiritual Stones, they were set.
Already, he was beginning to imagine his triumphant homecoming. No one could make fun of him now. He had left the forest and performed some heroic tasks of great daring. So what if he didn’t have his own fairy? A small frown formed. Casually, he glanced up at the hovering ball of blue light by his shoulder. “Hey, Navi…” he called slowly.
“Yes?” the ball of light answered.
“When we get back to the forest, are you mine for keeps? Or are you just going to go back?”
“Well, I don’t know, Link,” she replied. “Wouldn’t that be wonderful though? I could stay with you forever!”
Link forced himself to smile slightly. “Yeah,” he said halfheartedly, “that would be…wonderful.”
The trek grew silent again, save for the tingling of the stones in Link’s pocket. His nose wrinkled slightly as he smelled something strange on the wind. At first, he wasn’t sure what it was, but eventually, he decided it was probably just a barbeque in the village. The thought of it made his stomach growl and he realized that he hadn’t had a thing to eat all day. All he had gotten was a bit of milk from that unusual ranch a few hours ago. Maybe he would go back there after he gave Zelda the stones. They had all seemed terribly nice…well…except for that annoying hired hand.
Turning around a bend in the road,
came into Link’s view. For a second, he felt an amazing sense of relief, seeing the final destination of his harrowing journey, but that relief quickly dissolved. It seemed that the sky was clouding up with enormous black thunderclouds that hadn’t been there a minute ago. North Castle
“It looks like it’s going to storm,” Navi murmured.
“Yeah,” he replied, though it seemed frightfully obvious. In the distance, he spotted a few torches which had just been lit, presumably by the castle guards in anticipation of nightfall. “I hope I don’t have to go through that whole ordeal again, just to get into the castle,” he said, recalling the rather tedious obstacles he had overcome only this morning.
“I’m sure it won’t be necessary,” Navi said in a matter-of-fact tone of voice. “If you show the Spiritual Stones to the guards, I’ll bet they let you pass right through. It’s not every day they see someone carrying one of Hyrule’s most sacred treasures, after all. That means you’re someone important.”
“We’ll see, I guess,” he sighed.
A low rumble of thunder in the distance shook them both. As Link looked up ahead of him, he noticed something rather peculiar. There were lit torches all right, but no sign of the castle guards anywhere. Navi seemed to notice this as well. “What’s going on?” she wondered.
“I don’t know,” he answered. Suddenly, he rounded on her. “I thought you were supposed to know these things!”
“Sorry,” she replied casually.
He took off at a bit of a run toward the torches. Navi sniffed indignantly and flew after him, managing to keep up, whether he liked it or not. They arrived at the phantom torches when, with a sudden clap of thunder, the rain began pouring down. And this wasn’t just a nice spring shower. This was a serious tempest. The raindrops were freezing cold and hit Link’s shoulders and arms like little pebbles, pelting painfully. Navi clearly wasn’t equipped to deal with this kind of torrent. The only rains they got in the forest were a few light April showers. With a panicked shriek, the fairy dove under Link’s green cap.
Link realized why he couldn’t see the guards in the torchlight as he got closer. They were all lying prone on the ground; face down in small pools of burgundy blood. He gasped in surprise, jumping back. This wasn’t the first time he had seen death, to be certain. After today’s escapades, he had seen very many variations of it. But these weren’t monsters that needed to be slain. These were people. Hylians just like him. Dead.
“They’re dead, Navi,” he told the fairy under his hat.
“The guards. They’re dead.” He glanced at them, noticing that one still had a gleaming silver sword stuck in his back. “It looks like they were all stabbed to death with swords.”
Carefully, Navi lifted the hem of the hat on Link’s head, glancing at the scene. “Those are Gerudo blades,” the fairy said quietly.
Before Navi could explain further, there was an enormous crash. “That’s not thunder!” Link cried, clutching his heart as it raced.
Sure enough, when he looked up, down the path, he saw that the drawbridge over the castle moat had come crashing down. Over the opening, a severed chain swung dangerously back and forth. As Link looked at it, he could clearly tell the chain hadn’t broken of natural weight. It had definitely been cut. The break was very clean. The drawbridge was meant to open.
As he looked through the entrance, he caught sight of the castle. He realized that half of the storm clouds weren’t clouds at all. They were billows of black smoke rising out of the castle. In the windows of the palace, he could see bright fingers of orange fire, flaring out from time to time in a great fight against the rain. Distantly, he thought he heard people screaming over the noise of the rain. Probably the courtiers and servants, he supposed, but he was quickly distracted from that.
A new sound emerged from the great cacophony: The pounding of horse hooves. Narrowing his eyes against the haze of the rain, Link spied the figure of a mare approaching at full gallop, out through the mouth of the gate. He leapt aside, for fear of being trampled as the swift creature flew at him. Luckily, Link was fast. He threw himself on a tuft of grass, spilling half the contents of his pockets and Navi out on the muddy ground.
“The stones!” Navi shouted. “Pick them up!”
Link scrambled on his hands and knees, grabbing the Spiritual Stones and shoving them into his pockets before returning to retrieve his Rupees, a few Deku Seeds, and Navi. All of these, he thrust violently into his pockets, accompanied by the indignant protests of the fairy.
When he looked up, the horse was galloping away from him. Getting to his feet, he called out to the rider. “Impa!” He recognized her from earlier this morning. She had been the one to escort him safely out of the castle and she had also taught him some very valuable information, in order to get around easily as he went on his quest for the Spiritual Stones.
Whether Impa heard him or not, she showed no sign. But, as she continued to ride away, Link saw a small face peer around her. Immediately, he locked eyes with Zelda. She seemed to be in a state of panic that almost made her unrecognizable, given her usually calm demeanor. It seemed she was trying to yell something to him, but Link couldn’t hear her. Suddenly, she reached out for something and as Link watched, a small black dot went soaring through the sky, falling into the murky depths of
’s moat. North Castle
Zelda’s face disappeared, hiding behind Impa as they moved farther and farther away. Although Link had not been able to hear what Zelda was telling him, he had a pretty good idea it had something to do with what was now in the moat. He watched them vanish for a moment, but once they were a speck on the horizon, he felt Navi jab him in the side. “You’re wasting time,” the fairy shrieked. “Go to the moat!” It seemed that Navi had been able to watch everything.
Link turned around and began to head to the moat, but he suddenly heard the clip clop of horse hooves again. From the rainy mist, a second steed emerged, this one black as the night with a fiery red mane. Against his better judgment, Link walked down the hill to see. He didn’t recognize this rider, not at first. But as the form drew closer and closer, a tiny red flag began waving in the back of Link’s mind. His dreams! He remembered this entire scene from his nightmares. Sure enough, as he crept nearer, he could see that the man on the black stallion was, in fact, an oily looking Gerudo man with a receding hairline.
His mind raced as Link tried to recall every last detail from his dream. What happened after the white horse and the black horse rode by? He screwed up his face in concentration. Suddenly, he remembered. Oh. That.
The rider of the black horse passed by Link, kicking him sharply in the side and sending him rolling across the wet, muddy grass. There was a sharp pain in his side now, throbbing and aching, but when Link looked down he was relieved to see that he wasn’t bleeding. Ruefully, he rather wished he had remembered that part of the dream a few moments earlier.
“Get off of me, Link!” Navi shouted.
“Oops.” Link quickly stood up, holding his side as Navi shot out from his pocket indignantly and ducked under his cap again. “Sorry.”
“Get to the moat!”
He took off at a slow jog, his ribs still aching from where the Gerudo had kicked him. The sound of the horses had utterly vanished, being replaced once again by the screams from
and the harsh pelting of the raindrops. Link made his way to the moat and, as he hoped, the object Zelda had thrown was still there. Carefully, he squatted by the bank and leaned over, reaching into the water to pull it up. At first, he didn’t know what it was, but as he turned the cold object over in his hands, he realized it was an ocarina. It was similar to the one Saria had given him, only a bit bigger and much darker. There was something special about it. Just holding the instrument, Link felt immense surges of ether flying around the air. This was important. North Castle
On the second floor of the castle, in a wing where the fire hadn’t quite reached, Shayla stood by a window, watching as the two horses disappeared into the mist. ‘Don’t leave Sir Lien,’ that’s what her mother had told her. But five minutes after Impa and Zelda vanished down the hallway a support beam was burned loose by the fire and fell on Lien, leaving him on the floor, quite dead it seemed.
Left alone, Shalya made her way through the burning castle, trying to find a path outside. She remembered everything her father had taught her about fire and she understood well enough the dangerous situation she was in, but all the same, her better reason failed her in the panic, leading her up the stairs, rather than down. At the window, she caught sight of her mother riding out at full gallop with the Princess flung over the saddle like a sack of potatoes. For some reason, little Shayla couldn’t tear her eyes away from the display. She stood there, completely frozen and unable to comprehend one very little question. Why?
Hot tears began to roll down her pudgy cheeks. She didn’t know why she was crying, she just knew that she was. Wringing one of her mousy brown plaits in her stubby fists, she thought longingly of her father, wishing that he would come sweeping in to rescue her from this awful nightmare. And yet, her father didn’t come. No one came. She was left alone.
There was a loud groan from the ceiling. Shayla had heard it before, when the support beam fell on poor Lien. The structure of the castle was beginning to give under the strain. Carelessly wiping away her tears, Shayla turned and began dashing through the castle, ducking the bursts of fire that would erupt as the flames discovered new sources of oxygen from closed drawers and cracked windows. She could hear voices, other people equally afraid, but she couldn’t find any of them.
“Poppa!” she screamed at the top of her lungs, not bothering to listen for an answer. He wouldn’t come.
She turned a corner and discovered a narrow spiral staircase, going down, presumably, to the kitchen. It was clearly a servants’ stair, made of wood and lacking any sort of railing or decorum. Without a thought, she raced down, the strained wooden steps creaking and moaning under her weight. At the bottom, she tore across the kitchen floor and was halfway to the nearest table when she suddenly heard a loud crack. Shayla looked back, over her shoulder, just in time to see the staircase collapse. Fresh flames began to race into the room, going straight for her. With a shriek, she ran to the table, pulling up the cloth and ducking underneath it.
It was deathly hot under the tablecloth, but Shayla felt a certain amount of relief from the fact that she could no longer see the fire. Pulling her knees to her chest, she rocked herself back and forth slowly singing the lullaby her father sang to her every night he tucked her into bed. She found herself troubled, stumbling over the words, yet she continued to sing, never allowing herself to stop for the briefest of moments. She couldn’t stop. If she stopped, she would cry.
There was a loud blast of noise, like a fresh cup of grease hitting a hot pan. A flash of light lit up Shayla’s face, followed by a rush of heat. When she looked over to her side, she realized that the tablecloth was on fire. She let out a loud shriek and dropped onto her hands and knees, crawling out the other side of the table. The kitchen behind her was completely ablaze now. There was only one doorway without fire in it, so Shayla sprang to her feet and cut a dash for it
Shayla shot down the hall, pumping her fists at her side and blinking away her freshly formed tears. Up ahead, she spotted the doorway to the courtyard she had discovered earlier. Without bothering to look for an alternative route, she sprinted for it, going as fast as her little legs would carry her. She was nearly through the door when suddenly, she felt a pair of arms wrap around her waist, lifting her clean off of the ground and pulling her back several meters. Before she had time to object, however, another support beam fell, crashing down into the doorway she was about to use. Shayla let out a mighty scream, flailing wildly at the heat and noise.
“Easy,” a soothing voice said in her ear.
Turning her head, she saw a strange woman holding her up off the ground. She looked at Shayla with sharp green eyes, but there was kindness in those eyes, causing the girl to calm down enough to say, “Who are you?”
“My name is Leafa,” the stranger answered. Gently, she set Shayla down on the ground and let go of her waist. “We’ve got to get you out of here. Where’s your mother?”
For a moment, Shayla was at a loss for words. She finally managed to utter a single one. “Gone.”
Leafa turned to look at a particularly burly man who appeared behind her. “She’s a Sheikah,” she murmured to her companion. “Look at her eyes.”
“All the Sheikahs are fighting the fire right now,” he said. He frowned slightly before adding, “A lot of them have been killed by the Gerudo.”
“We have to get her out of here,” Leafa said firmly.
“Hurry,” Tully insisted.
Bending down to look her in the eyes, Leafa held her hands out to Shayla. “Will you come with me?” There wasn’t a moment of delay. Shayla raced forward into Leafa’s arms, wrapping hers around the woman’s neck. Leafa smiled gently, picking Shayla up off the ground and carrying her on her hip. “Let’s go,” she said.
The three of them began rushing down the halls. It seemed that Leafa and Tully had a better sense of where they were going. Tully examined Shayla as they fled. There was no doubt about it, she was a Sheikah. She had those brilliant red eyes he remembered so clearly. He was a bit troubled by the fact that they were so dry. “It’s all right to cry, you know,” he told Shayla gently.
She shook her head. “No. I will never cry again.”
End of Part Two
Back to Story Menu