CHAPTER 6 - Homecoming
Link felt much better, after leaving the forest. He was tired though, because he'd stayed up half the night listening to Sora cry. Isannah was in front of him in the saddle, still asleep. Faylore was with Poonta, also asleep. Sora and Poonta both were wide awake, although Sora's eyes were red. But she held her head high and whistled a lively tune as they went.
Isannah stirred, then woke up, blinking sleepily in the sunlight. Link smiled down at her. She shook her golden head, then smiled back up at him. Suddenly Link had an overwhelming sense of caring for the little girl. She was like having a sister.
"I see it!" Sora exclaimed, making Faylore jump and stare around wide-eyed.
"Hyrule Castle! I see it!"
Link looked up, excitement and hope surging through him. He could see the tall towers of Hyrule castle in the distance. To one side, when he looked, was the wall in the middle of the field and Lon Lon Ranch. The sight of his home made Link want to cry. He had only been gone a few days, but it felt more like a thousand years. Sora turned to him, her eyes bright with excitement.
"Race ya!" Sora challenged.
"You're on!" Link exclaimed.
Sora and Stalker quickly left him eating dust. But it was so great to be home that he didn't care. He just laughed and shoved her out of her saddle at the end of the race. Sora let out a surprised squawk as she landed in the dirt.
"Now we're even." Link told her, grinning.
Sora paused, then smiled back. She struggled to her feet, then vaulted back into her horse's saddle. They waited until everyone had caught up, listening to Isannah go on excitedly about how fun the race had been. Finally Poonta and Faylore rode into view and they trotted across the drawbridge together. They trotted through Hyrule Castle Town together, one after the other. The guard let them through the gate, but Link noticed right away everyone's sad faces.
Link's parents were waiting for him. Someone must have alerted them to his arrival. His mom was crying, but Link could see they were not tears of joy and relief that he was back. Rhiannon was in tears too and his father had a look of anguish on his face. Something was wrong. Link jumped down off his horse and ran to hug his mother.
"Link!" His mother cried. "You're home!"
"Yes mother. What's wrong?" Link asked, looking down at her pained face. I've grown in just a few days, Link thought.
"Link, your Grandfather&ldots;" His mom began, but her voice was choked off by a sob.
"What? What's wrong with Grandfather?" Link demanded, looking at his father.
"He&ldots;passed away this morning." Link's father told him.
"No!" Link said softly.
"Link-" His father began but Link cut him off.
"NO!" Link cried.
Link had been very close to his Grandfather. He turned and ran; heading for the Temple of Time where he knew his Grandfather's body would be resting. There in the Temple, where his Grandfather had started his adventure. Link heard feet on the ground behind him. Someone was trying to stop him. He went faster, faster than he ever had in his life. He could see the tall belfry of the Temple ahead.
He finally reached the Temple and ran inside. He stopped in his tracks when he saw the funeral pyre, near the Altar of Time. He walked slowly towards it, hearing footsteps screech to a stop on the tile floor. "Link." Faylore said softly.
"Go away." Link growled.
"Link please." Faylore pleaded. Link whirled, eyes flashing with anger.
"Go away!" Link shouted.
Faylore shrank back. Then she turned and ran out of the Temple. Link turned back to the Altar and walked a few steps, then collapsed onto the floor and curled up in a sobbing ball of misery. He felt so alone, so weary and worn completely to the bone. It was only a few moments before he again heard footsteps on the tiles, but it seemed like a lifetime. "I said go away!" Link cried, jumping to his feet, not facing the person in the doorway.
"No." Came the firm reply. It was Sora.
Link kept his back to her. He felt, more than heard her approach. She laid a hand on his shoulder gently. Link turned and glared down at her. She just stared back up at him, he face expressionless. Then she turned facing the window and lifted her face to the sun.
"I could teach you a song Link&ldots;the Sheikah Song of the Dead." Sora said. "The Sheikah honor the dead. I could teach you how." "I didn't even get to say goodbye." Link told her. "Where's the honor in that?"
Sora didn't reply. She pulled out her harp and sat in the warm sun, motioning for Link to sit next to her. Link sat and Sora placed the harp in his lap. She picked up Link's hands and positioned them on the harp correctly. Then Sora helped him move his hands over the strings. Link was startled when the jumble of notes quickly became a melody, sweet but haunting. He was also surprised that Sora was such a patient teacher.
After Link had been playing for what seemed like an hour, Sora took
the harp from his hands. When she played, the melody sounded perfect. Then
she added her voice to it; singing words that made Link want to cry. Sora's
voice was soft and melodious, like a chirping songbird. Link listened to the
words and sighed. His eyelids drooped. He was so tired. The melody slowly
lulled him to sleep&ldots;
Sora was dreaming. She didn't know she had fallen asleep, yet now she was dreaming. In front of her, a boy of about seven stood. His hair was golden, shining in the bright light of the morning sun streaming down through a window. He smiled, small white teeth flashing. He was laughing at something. "Sora, you're such a mess!" The boy exclaimed. "Look at your hair."
"Oh shut up, Frat!" Her dream self replied.
"Sora the grump!" The boy called Frat teased.
"Sorella, Fratello! Don't fight!" A soft voice admonished from the doorway.
Sora's dream self turned. A woman with golden hair, much like the boys stood in the doorway. She had purple eyes! And oh was she beautiful! Sora's dream self jumped from the bed. And then it happened.
A figure took place of the woman. Wavy brown hair framed a strong
boned face with chilling ice blue eyes. Sora knew this person. This person
was bad. Her dream self stepped back as the man laughed evilly. She turned,
tried to run, but it was no use&ldots;
Sora woke up, screaming hysterically. She had fallen asleep, head on Link's shoulder, both of them lulled to sleep by the melody she'd been playing. Her harp clattered to the floor. Link grabbed her shoulders and shook her. Her purple eyes were wide with terror. She stared at him without really seeing him.
"Sora!" Link shouted. "Sora, it's me!"
"No! No Frat! He'll kill me if I tell!" Sora shrieked. "If either of us tell he'll kill us!"
"Sora! Sora, calm down!" Link struggled to hold the girl down. "It's Link!
"Link?" Sora asked, realization flooding into her eyes. "Oh by Din!"
Link sighed. Sora trembled violently, her eyes still wide and scared. She drew quick, shuddering breaths, and raked at the floor with her nails, as though trying to take hold of it. Link grabbed her wrists, trying to stop her before she hurt herself.
"Sora, are you okay?" Link asked.
"Yeah. I'm fine. I just had this really strange dream." Sora replied.
"We should go." Link said. "They're probably wondering where we are."
"Yeah." Sora struggled to her feet.
Sora straightened out her clothes. Never in her life had she wanted a warm bath as much as she wanted one now. She was a mess, her head ached and she felt all together pretty rotten. She carefully tucked her harp back into place, then followed Link out of the Temple with one last look at the Door of Time. Outside the air was cool and refreshing on her cheeks. She sighed and raised her face to the sun.
Link led her along the dirt path towards Hyrule castle, although she knew it probably better than he did. It seemed like so long since she had last sat upon that gate, playing her strange melodies. Was it really only less than a week ago that she met Link in his mad dash to get away from the court ladies? Sora smiled, remembering the disheveled Prince when he came to her gate. She'd seen boys react in many ways to girls, but never in that way. "Here we are." Link said. He waved his hand at a guard and they let down the drawbridge.
"I've never been inside this thing before." Sora stated.
"It's a castle, not a thing." Link told her.
"Well I know that!" Sora snapped.
Link led her down long, twisting corridors, like nothing she'd ever seen before in her life. Tapestries hung on the white marble walls. One had a picture of horses on it, making her wonder how Stalker was doing. Link led her down one long hall and pointed to a door near the end. Then he turned and walked off. Sora stared at the door a moment, then shrugged. She knocked on it.
"Who's there?" A voice from inside asked.
"Sora." Sora replied softly.
The door swung open. Poonta grinned at her. Faylore was near the back of the room, brushing her hair. Poonta grabbed Sora's arm and dragged her inside. Sora laughed and glanced around. She'd never seen a room like this in her whole life. Link's sister, Rhiannon, stepped out from another small room. With her was Isannah, who was wrapped in towels far bigger than she was.
"So this is Sora." Rhiannon smiled.
"Yep." Sora said, glancing around her nervously. "Nervous?" Rhiannon asked, laughing. "I don't see why. You've been around Link the last few days and he's the Prince of Hyrule. He's going to inherit the throne, not me."
"That's different." Sora stated. "Link's a boy."
Rhiannon laughed heartily at this, then turned, shaking her head. She led Isannah behind a screen to help her dress. Sora sat down on a comfy chair next to Poonta. She leaned her head back and closed her eyes. Soon she was asleep.
Sora was dreaming again. This time she could see seven blonde children of different ages out on a beautiful grassy meadow. There was the little boy she'd seen in her last dream. Beside him was a girl, a couple of years younger than he was and very pretty, with golden curls cascading all the way down to the middle of her back. The others in the picture didn't seem as important as these two.
The boy looked around warily, his eyes wide. The girl was beside him, clutching his arm and looking frightened. The meadow was totally silent. The sounds of children laughing had faded into non-existence. Then a war cry and&ldots; "They're attacking!"
The little girl jumped, flinched. She woke up as Sora, blinking in the dim light of a room. She was in bed. How'd she get here? Then the cry came again.
"They're attacking! The Gerudos are attacking!"
Sora jumped out of bed, kicking aside the blankets in furious haste. Of course! They had been preparing to attack. Faylore had been right! Sora ran out of the room and stopped dead in the hall, unsure where to go. Fighting Dodongos and Lizalfos was one thing. Gerudos, people like herself, was another. They weren't monsters. But their leader might as well be, Sora thought grimly. He was awful. Sora remembered. "Sora!" That was Poonta.
"Poonta!" Sora called. "What's going on?"
"They're attacking." Poonta told her. "Take this."
Poonta tossed a staff to Sora. Sora caught it and followed Poonta down the hall. Faylore opened the door to her room, carrying Isannah. Isannah was wide-awake and both girls looked frightened. Poonta halted to hand Faylore a dagger, then sprinted down the hall, Sora in her wake. Sora stumbled a bit, still sleepy, and the staff felt awkward in her hand. She was unsure what she was supposed to do with it.
There were shouts of fury and surprise as a flood of Gerudos rushed into the halls. They attacked with such fierceness; Sora could hear screams of people they killed. She dashed forward into the melee, swinging her staff. Sora got a smack in the face for her trouble, and a sharp kick in the stomach. She decided just to run, holding her staff out before her to knock down whoever stood in her way. Poonta was ahead of her, fighting like the warrior she was.
"Don't let them get by! Hold them off!" Someone shouted.
Sora spun around. Rhiannon was behind her, leading a slew of guards. She was dressed in armor, holding a sword. Brave girl, Sora thought. A bit foolhardy, but brave. Sora turned and trudged on. She was afraid of what she would see when she got outside.
Link stared into the clear water, listening to the silence filling the courtyard. He had sat here with his Grandfather, not long ago. Talking about how life used to be in Hyrule. When his Grandfather was just a kid. But that was so long ago, Grandfather, Link thought. Did you think it would change? Now they'll want to rush my 16th birthday. Link sighed. He stood, kicked a pebble into the water.
"Something wrong, Link?" A voice asked. Link looked up. It was his mother.
"No mother." Link replied.
"Don't lie to me Link." His mother said. "I'm you mother. I know when something is wrong. You're my son. I've known you since you were born." "Mom&ldots;it's just&ldots;with Grandfather dead," Link struggled. "I just don't want to get married yet. I'm a kid."
"I know Link." His mother sighed.
"Persephone! Get out of there!" Link looked up and saw his father waving down to them. Then he left.
"We'd best do as your father says, Link." Persephone said.
Link nodded. He turned toward the exit of the Courtyard. Standing there already was a group of Gerudos, lead by Captain Yzane and Mylintha. Persephone turned and gasped. Link fumbled with his dagger.
"I knew you were foolish." Mylintha muttered.
"Get him. Lock him up." Yzane commanded.
Link ran forward, holding his dagger up. Mylintha laughed and drew her swords. She swung and her swords clanged against another sword. Link looked up and saw Poonta, holding a sword that was nearly as big as her. Mylintha frowned and attacked again. Poonta parried, stumbling and nearly getting hit.
"Traitor." Mylintha hissed.
Poonta said nothing. She charged at Mylintha, holding her sword up. Mylintha knocked the sword out of Poonta's hand. It flew through the air and then skittered across the ground before hitting the wall and stopping completely. Mylintha raised her swords to Poonta's throat. Then something smacked Mylintha in the back of the head. She whirled. Behind her stood Sora, holding a staff and grinning.
"You!" Mylintha screeched. "Kill her! Kill the brat!"
Sora yelped and ran to the other side of the courtyard as half a dozen Gerudos with spears came running at her. Poonta jumped in front of them and fought, kicking and punching, trying hard to avoid spears coming her way. Link helped his mother to her feet and ran towards the entrance.
"Don't let them escape!" Yzane yelled.
Persephone stumbled along. She had trouble keeping up with her much stronger, much taller and much younger son. Suddenly Persephone stopped and her eyes widened in pain. Link stopped too and turned to his mother. "Mom, what's wrong?" Link asked.
Persephone fell forward, collapsing into her son arms. Link saw and arrow sticking up from her back. He settled on the ground and cradled her. Never in his life could he remember his mother seeming so frail.
"Link," Persephone rasped. "Link, take care of your father."
"Mom, no." Link whispered. "Not now. Please."
"Goodbye, Link." Persephone smiled weakly. "Always remember, that I love you."
Persephone shut her eyes. Link felt her boy go limp; could see she wasn't breathing. He sat very still, in shock, until something fell over him and landed in the grass. It was Sora. She glanced at Persephone, then at Link. "Link I-" Sora began.
"They'll pay." Link interrupted softly.
Sora said nothing. She climbed to her feet and offered Link a hand. Link rested his mother's body on the stone steps in the courtyard, then took Sora's hand and struggled to his feet.
"Link, duck!" Sora shouted.
Link did as he was told. Sora's staff swung over his head. It smacked into a Gerudo warrior. Sora charged into the crowd, fighting with her staff. Link hadn't known she could fight with a staff. He pulled out his dagger and followed her through the crowd. Something grabbed him. He grappled for his dagger. Sora came up behind the Gerudo and smacked her over the head. "Come on!"
Sora grabbed Link's wrist and pulled him through the crowd of angry Gerudos. Poonta stumbled up to them and together they ran out of the courtyard. They passed Cara in the hall, holding Isannah in one hand and trying to fight off a Gerudo with the other. Sora hit the Gerudo with her staff and Cara sprinted down the hall. Sora hoped the woman and poor Isannah would get to safety.
Link ran ahead of them and pushed aside a Tapestry on the wall. He opened a hidden door and started down a flight of stairs, motioning for Poonta and Sora to follow. Sora stumbled along behind Link and Poonta, nearly falling down the stairs. The passage led to the outside. "Watch out!" Someone yelled.
Sora peeked around Link's shoulder. The front of the castle had turned into a battlefield. Blood stained the green grass, swords clanged and people died. Link's gaze was trained on something. Sora looked in the direction he was looking. High on the wall of the tower, Kyrissam and Link's father were fighting.
"Link, we need to get to safety." Poonta said.
"Ya know, I think I agree." Sora put in.
"Yeah maybe we shou-" Link stopped. "Dad, look out!"
Too late. Kyrrisam shoved his sword through Link's father. Sora gulped, watching blood flow down the side off the tower. She had a sudden urge to be sick. Kyrrisam raised his sword high in the air, triumphantly, and the standing Gerudos gave a resounding cheer.
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