The skies of Hyrule shone with a golden light as the slowly rising sun heralded the start of another day. As its rays penetrated his bedroom, Link’s eyes unwillingly opened. He took a moment to rub them and blink a few times in order to get used to the newly-arrived light. He tried to force himself up into a kneeling position, but he ended up falling face first into his pillow.
The hero groaned and turned to face the window, where a small, blue bird was perched on the sill. Its chirpy song and cheerful demeanour taunted him and, had he been in his other form, Link would have probably found himself enjoying it for breakfast. But a quick glance at his hands proved that he was currently human, so the bird was free to live for another day.
Upon hearing footsteps outside his room, followed by a few sharp knocks on the door, Link mustered enough energy to prop himself up with his hands.
“Who is it?” he asked groggily.
The door opened, and a young, dark-haired servant boy entered the room. He looked quite nervous as he observed the hero.
“Um, His Majesty wants me to make sure you’re awake, sir,” he said in a timid voice.
Link sighed and fell forwards again. “Fine,” he grumbled, “I guess I’d better do as he says. Anything to stay in his good books.” As he spoke, something small and fluffy glided into his mouth towards his throat. He knelt up abruptly as he choked and coughed out the downy white feather that he had almost swallowed. He then picked up the pillow, and found that it bore a large gash on one side.
“Do you need me to fetch another pillow, sir?” the boy asked him.
“No, don’t bother,” Link replied grouchily, “If there’s nothing else, you can go.” Once he heard the door close, he slammed the pillow back down onto the bed. Immediately, several more feathers flew out of the hole.
Cursing under his breath, Link got out of bed and mentally braced himself for yet another day in the service of King Taranis of Hyrule.
As the sun blinked over the eastern horizon, it greeted another individual who would have preferred the cover of darkness. A lone beast poked its muzzle cautiously out of the relative safety of the rocky overhang it had chosen to hide in. The harsh cry of a hawk soaring overheard made it whinny in fear and it quickly darted back into what little shadow was left.
It shouldn’t have ended up this far from home, it knew. But it would have run to the end of the world if it could that night. Not daring to venture out into the welcoming sunlight, it instead cowered underneath the overhang, staring intently at the vast plain in front of it.
Amidst his feelings of anger and frustration, the voice of Princess Zelda felt like music to Link’s ears as he walked to the great hall where meals were held.
“Yes?” he responded, his mood lifted.
“What were you doing last night after you went to bed?” the princess asked.
“Uh…” The hero subconsciously raised a hand to the back of his ear.
“Only one of night patrol guards claims he heard growling from your room when he passed it.”
Link couldn’t tell whether she was angry or not.
“Look, I was a little annoyed when I left last night, you know that,” he explained, “I needed to get my anger out of my system somehow. Why are you so bothered, anyway? He didn’t come in, so there was no harm done. The pillow wasn’t so lucky, though,” he added.
“I’m bothered because Dad knows, and I don’t want to see you get shouted at again,” Zelda said in a concerned voice.
“So much for staying in his good books,” Link muttered as he followed Zelda into the hall.
As soon as he entered, the first thing Link noticed, over all the other faces and bodies, was the penetrating gaze of King Taranis at the other end of the room. He paused in his tracks, wondering how far he could go if he ran now. During his adventures, Link had encountered many terrifying creatures, but right now, none of them could hold a candle to that glare that Taranis was giving him.
The hero swallowed hard before resuming his march towards his place near the closer end of the table.
He was thankful that Taranis had let him sit among the knights of Hyrule, although he was certain that it had been Zelda who had influenced the decision. She had most definitely intervened when it came to Midna’s place at the table, for the Twilight Princess was allowed sit near the head, opposite Princess Zelda.
“So, what was going on in your room last night, then, eh?” a rough voice asked. The knight elbowed Link as he spoke.
“Mmm… What?” Link asked, his mind not quite in the room yet.
“I said, what was going on in your room?” the knight repeated, “I heard that you had some wild dog in there with you.”
“You could say that,” Link muttered, not wanting to talk about it. The knight continued to talk about it, but he didn’t listen. Instead, he kept his head down and tried not to meet anyone’s gaze during the whole meal, lest he was quizzed about it further.
Once breakfast was over, and the crowd began to disperse, the servant boy that had woken Link up earlier informed him that King Taranis wished to speak with him privately. He then led to the hero into the library.
“Wait here,” the servant instructed him, “His Majesty will be along shortly.”
Link didn’t say anything as the door closed, and instead sat down and rapped his fingers on one of the library’s polished tables.
“How did I get myself into this mess?” he said to himself, furrowing and rubbing his brow.
A few seconds later, the door opened again, and Taranis marched in importantly, keeping his eyes fixed on the young hero. Similarly, Link gazed back at him, their eyes locked in a deathly staring contest.
“Be thankful that you’re still alive,” the king spoke first, in a dangerously calm voice, as he sat down opposite Link, “
Normalinstructions for a guard involve investigating the source of any strange activity in the castle. Strange activity such as how the room of a young man who doesn’t keep any dangerous pets can have something growling in it.”
“What stopped him, then?” Link asked coolly.
“He was one of the new boys. And a bit of a coward, if I must be honest.”
Link nodded his head in understanding.
“Be thankful, then, that he ran off and reported his discovery to me first,” Taranis continued, “I knew exactly why your room would contain something that growled like that, and told him to ignore it.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”
“If he had reported it to someone else instead, then what would have happened do you think?”
Link said nothing.
“Either way, someone would have ended up seriously hurt or dead! Listen, Link,” the king seated himself opposite the hero, “By now, I have accepted that both you and that… Midna woman are not like the rest of us. However, I do not wish to allow a wild wolf…”
“Wild?” Link repeated incredulously, “I could be considered somewhat tame, surely?”
“As I was saying, I do not wish to allow a wild wolf to roam free in my castle. It’s bad enough you do it in town, but…”
Link leaned forward across the table. “Are we going back to last night again?” he asked, “Look, I did not touch that man!”
“And I believe you. But what do you expect people to think if they see an unconscious man lying in the street with a great big wolf standing near him?” Keeping his voice low, Taranis continued, “The fact remains that while you are here, among this many humans, any use of your power puts you in great danger. I allow you to wander the town as a wolf, which is at your own risk. However, I do not want you wandering these corridors as a wolf at all!
“You have to consider,” he continued, “the consequences if you were to be discovered. Right now, you have a reputation among the people of Hyrule as a valiant hero. If they saw a wolf from the Twilight wandering about, they would kill it. If they were to find out that you are in fact the aforementioned wolf, then what?”
Link swallowed, remembering the reaction of Ilia, his childhood friend from Ordona. “I understand,” he said quietly.
“And then you must think about how this would bounce back to us if people found that we knew you were a werewolf all along. How would it affect us? How would it affect Zelda?”
Link had to suppress a comment at this point. He knew that if Midna were in the room, she would have spoken up straight away, but he wasn’t that brash. He did, however, believe that the King had struck a low by bringing Zelda into the conversation.
Instead of voicing his thoughts, though, the hero merely grunted his acknowledgement of the situation.
“Good,” Taranis said, satisfied, “Consider this a warning, young man. Because if I ever catch you in these walls as a wolf, or if I ever hear of anything similar to what I was told last night, then I would have to take due action against you. Understand?”
Link nodded as King Taranis left. The hero remained seated, alone with his thoughts, for a while before leaving himself.
As Taranis left the room, he nearly ran into Zelda. The princess had been stood outside, eavesdropping on the conversation.
“Don’t you try to defend him,” the king warned her before she could speak, “First he runs off without a word of warning, then he’s causing trouble in town, intentional or not, and now this! I swear, if he gives us any more grief, then he’s out of here! Understand?” He walked off before Zelda could say anything in response, but she was determined.
“Wouldn’t it look strange, though?” she asked, following him, “Finding a wolf and throwing out a human?”
“It won’t look strange if he gets found out,” Taranis replied quietly, “And mark my words, the way he’s going, he’ll get found out sooner or later.”
It seemed that Link wasn’t the only one having a bad morning. As he surveyed the gang of minions that had gathered around his throne, Ganondorf Dragmire, self-proclaimed King of Twilight, held his head in his hands as his mind processed the news he had just been given.
“So you still haven’t convinced the Bulblins to swear allegiance with us again?” he said.
“Err… Not as such, sir,” one of the Bokoblins replied in a hoarse voice.
“Link really keeps their leader in check,” another piped up, “King Bulblin doesn’t follow him, but he’s not entirely keen on confronting him, either.”
Ganondorf groaned in frustration. “So the only way to get him on our side is to kill Link,” he muttered to himself, “But then once I kill Link, taking over Hyrule will be child’s play,” he paused thoughtfully, “Basically, any effort to gain the Bulblins’ loyalty would be worthless.”
The sorcerer groaned again. In what had felt like a short space of time, he had been killed, come back to life, taken over the Twilight Realm as king, and conquered the desert west of Hyrule. Unfortunately, the entire population of the desert consisted of Moldorms and Stalfos, and when he considered his previous achievement of once ruling the whole of Hyrule, it wasn’t really much to show for his efforts. This only served to make him angry, which he would usually take out on his hapless minions.
However, this time, he didn’t bother. He just sent them out and left himself to his musings.
“I don’t need those Bulblins, anyway,” he pondered, “If they’re not truly allies of Link, then they’re no real threat to me. Still, it would be nice to have someone useful on my side for a change.”
Once Link had gotten over his warning, he saddled up Epona, his beloved mare, and rode off to the Eldin province. He wanted to put the recent events behind him, even if it were only for an hour or so, and thought that a nice, brisk ride through the wide plains would do it.
Unfortunately, when King Taranis learned of his excursion, he had only allowed him to go on the condition that Zelda went with him.
“I thought he let me stay so that I could keep an eye on you, not the other way around,” the hero muttered.
“He just doesn’t want you running off again, that’s all,” Zelda replied.
“So he thinks that because you’re with me, I won’t run off?”
“I’d say that’s the idea.”
“He’d have been better off sending Midna with me instead, then,” Link smiled, “I wouldn’t dare try to escape from her clutches!”
“And you would try to escape from me?” Zelda laughed. “Besides,” she added, “I think Midna’s already gone to
, anyway.” Lake Hylia
“So your father lets her off on her own?”
“She doesn’t have a reputation of running off and getting herself into trouble.”
“No, just a reputation of making herself part of other people’s troubles!”
For all his jesting, Link wished that Midna was with him right now instead of Zelda. It wasn’t that he particularly preferred her over the Hyrulian princess, but Zelda always made him think of Taranis. It seemed his plans of relaxation were going astray. He needed something to take his mind off things, desperately. He pulled up on the reins, forcing his steed to halt.
“Hey, Princess!” he said eagerly as Zelda stopped next to him, “Race you to the bridge over there.” He pointed towards the bridge that connected the Eldin plains to the northern mountains.
“You’re joking, right?” Zelda asked, grinning with amusement, “I think you’ll find Ghost to be faster than your carthorse!” She gently patted her white stallion’s mane as she spoke.
Link felt a short chill, but ignored it. He had become used to the uneasy feeling he had whenever he looked at that horse, even though he could never fathom out why it ever occurred. Epona had snorted angrily at Zelda’s remark.
“I’ll have you know this ‘carthorse’ can wipe the floor with your fancy thing any time,” Link said confidently, kicking his heels into Epona’s sides and galloping off.
“What the - ? Come back here! That’s not fair!” Zelda called out, riding after him.
Once she finally caught up with him by the bridge, the princess chastised the hero, who merely claimed that if her horse was as good as she had said it was, then it should have had no trouble keeping up with him.
“Well, since Epona won that round so easily, then it should be no problem for her to catch us now,” Zelda said in a dangerously sweet voice, and quickly galloped away from the hero.
“Huh? Hey, get back here!” Link shouted at her. Epona darted after the stallion, but this time, Ghost nimbly swerved this way and that, catching the hero and his bulkier charger off-guard.
“What’s the matter? You given up already?” Link asked as he approached a now stationary Zelda. “What is it?” he asked, noting the expression that she now wore.
“I saw something move just then.”
“Yes, that was me chasing after you.”
“Not behind me! Over there!” Zelda indicated towards one of the rocky cliff faces that surrounded the plains. The pair watched for a few seconds until they saw a brief glimpse of white from underneath an outcrop.
“Was that it?” Link asked.
“I think so.” Zelda dismounted and started to approach the shady area.
“Zelda, wait,” Link called as he followed suit, “We don’t even know what it is. It could be one of Ganondorf’s monsters.”
Zelda glared at him in disbelief. “Such as what?”
“Look, just let me go first, OK? I don’t want anything to happen to you, and if it tries anything, this way it’ll have to get past me first.”
Looking again at the moving shadow, Zelda reluctantly agreed. Link carefully edged forward, his left hand hovering over the hilt of his sword. As they closed in on the shadow, they could see that whatever the creature was, it was big. Not as big as Epona, or as chunky, but still big enough to be wary of.
“It looks like a horse,” Zelda whispered in Link’s ear.
“Then we still need to be on our guard,” the hero whispered back, “Wild horses can be nasty.”
The creature appeared to scuttle back as it caught sight of the pair. This time, they could see something else that caught them by surprise.
“Did you see that?” Zelda whispered much more loudly.
“Yeah,” the hero nodded.
“That was a horn, wasn’t it?”
Link grinned gleefully. “Yes, it was.”
“Then it must be a…”
“Unicorn,” Link finished the sentence for her, “I don’t believe it.”
“Me neither.” After a short pause, Zelda asked, “Why are you still holding your hand over your sword?”
“Because I’m still not taking any chances! Despite what people might think, a unicorn is basically a wild horse with a horn coming out of its head!”
The unicorn skittered, causing Link and Zelda to jump slightly. Now they were closer than ever, they could see the creature’s slender, horse-like body, its golden-coloured horn, and its terrified expression.
“Link, lower your hand now. You’re scaring the poor thing.”
“But what if it…”
“Just look at it. I don’t think it would look like that if it wanted to attack us.”
Link sighed, and lowered his sword hand. The unicorn seemed to relax, but only slightly. By now, the two Hylians had it cornered, and it knew they were both armed.
“Hello, there,” Link said softly as he came face-to-muzzle with the beast, “Where did you come from?”
The unicorn shook its head and stamped its hoof.
“Back away! Back away!” Link hissed at Zelda. He then turned back to the agitated unicorn and said as soothingly as he could, “It’s all right. We don’t want to hurt you.”
But by now, there was no stopping it. The unicorn reared up and swung its head at Link.
“Get back!” the hero called out to Zelda. The princess stepped back a few paces until she suddenly stopped with a look of terror on her face. She was so paralysed with fear that she was nearly bowled over when the beast decided to bolt for the sunlight.
“Link! Are you all right?” Zelda asked with concern; the hero had stumbled as he tried to avoid the frightened creature’s horn. He stood up a little shakily and dusted himself down.
“Well, at least we got it out,” he said. Looking up, he saw the unicorn’s dust trail settle onto the ground. He could see that both Epona and Ghost had fled a short way away to avoid the startled creature. Epona was stamping her hooves in anger, while Ghost had maintained a dignified stance.
“We have to track it down,” Zelda said, “I don’t think a lone unicorn will last long out here in the open. Especially when Ganondorf’s monsters are roaming Hyrule.”
“Princess, that thing nearly impaled me! I’d say it can look after itself pretty well!”
“Only because you scared it by hovering over your sword! Unicorns are gentle creatures and don’t need people threatening them with swords.”
“Which part of ‘that thing nearly impaled me’ are you having trouble understanding?”
Zelda folded her arms in annoyance. “Before we showed up, it was just cowering under that rock. Whatever brought it here must have driven it to the height of its fear, and you certainly didn’t help.”
She marched off and mounted Ghost.
“Well, if you’re such an expert in unicorn-hunting, you try and catch the damn thing yourself,” Link muttered as he mounted Epona.
The dust trail and footprints had been jerky, with the unicorn darting about in all directions, until it turned west. A little further on, the hoof trail turned south.
“It’s heading towards Kakariko,” Link deduced, spurring Epona into a gallop.
Zelda looked warily over her shoulder before following. She thought she had seen a shadow lurking in the distance, but when she looked again, there was nothing there.
The usually peaceful mountain town of
was in chaos by the time the pair arrived. Just as Link had suspected, the unicorn had gotten there first and was now dashing around in deep fear, while the townspeople hid in their shops and houses. Kakariko
The hero rode as fast as he could towards the beast as though he was driving his own determination into his mare. However, his prey was agile, and would swiftly change direction as he chased it, much like how Ghost had done earlier.
Link gritted his teeth as he chased the creature. He eventually cornered it by a wall, at which time it had stopped to consider its next move. He only had it trapped for seconds, although the time felt much longer. As he eyed his prey, the hero could see the fear in its eyes. However, the fear didn’t stop it from trying to escape, and it again bolted straight towards Link.
This time, Link stood on Epona’s saddle and leapt onto the unicorn’s back as it passed him, which only served to send it into an even greater panic.
“Link!” Zelda cried out in fright as she caught up with him.
“Don’t worry about me!” Link called out in response, “All in a day’s work!”
The hero grasped hold of the animal’s neck as it ran and kicked about. He eventually mustered enough courage to grab it by the horn in an effort to control it.
“Calm down! I don’t want to hurt you, I want to help you,” Link hissed into the wild unicorn’s ear. Before he could say another word, though, a tide of emotion washed over him. For a split second, he felt a strong, unwavering sense of fear course through his body, while the image of a man with a bow flashed into his mind. The sensation then vanished as quickly as it came, and Link found himself lying on his back with the now calm unicorn standing over him.
“You’re scared because someone is hunting you,” he whispered weakly at the horse-like face, “I understand now.”
As Zelda dismounted from her stallion and rushed to Link’s side, one by one the inhabitants of the village emerged from their hiding places and began to crowd around the Hylians.
“Stand back!” Link warned them as he stood up, “We don’t want this creature running off again.” He carefully patted the nervous unicorn’s neck, mentally assuring it that he wouldn’t harm it.
“Are you OK?” Zelda asked, “Did she get you, too?” she added in a whisper.
Link gave her a puzzled look.
“I saw your face before you fell. She gave you a taste of her fear,” the princess explained, “She did the same thing to me before she ran off.”
“Someone’s hunting her,” Link whispered back, “I don’t know who or what, though.”
Amidst the crowd of onlookers, a tall, dark-skinned man approached the hero. Link smiled warmly as he recognised the face of Renado, Kakariko’s shaman.
“Link, how wonderful it is to see you again,” the shaman said, with a look of relief in his face, “I thank the goddesses that you turned up. When this beautiful creature arrived, I’m afraid to say that we feared for our lives, the way it ran like that.”
“You weren’t the only ones,” Link replied.
“And it is also an honour to see you here, Princess.” Renado bowed deeply at Zelda as he spoke, adding, “We do not often get the chance to be greeted by your presence.” He then turned his attention back to the unicorn, and asked the pair where it had come from.
“We don’t know exactly, Renado,” Link replied, “All we know is that she came from somewhere east of Eldin.”
The unicorn skittered again, much like it had in the Eldin plains, as the crowd started to draw nearer.
“Can you all stand back, please?” Zelda asked in an authoritative tone, “If she gets frightened again, we may not be able to stop her.”
The crowd dutifully dispersed, although most of the children, and some of the more curious adults, hung back to look at the unicorn some more. Hardly anything exciting had happened in Kakariko since the fall of the Twilight, and the mere sight of such a rare creature in the village was enough to catch anyone’s interest.
“We think someone, or something, chased her here,” Link was explaining to Renado, “I don’t know if it still is, but it looks like its given her a real fright, whatever it was.”
“Never mind what brought her here for now,” the shaman said sagely, “The important thing is that we can calm her down enough to get her back to where she belongs. This place is not safe for her.”
By now, the unicorn had started to stray from the group. She stamped and kicked up dust in the ground. Then, she sniffed the ground eagerly before snorting in frustration.
“I think she might be hungry,” Zelda said, approaching the beast and gently stroking her muzzle.
At that point, Link felt a familiar groan in his stomach. “So am I,” he commented.
“Already?” Zelda gave him a disbelieving look.
“It has been over an hour since breakfast,” the hero complained.
“But still…” Zelda didn’t finish her sentence, but instead agreed to stop at an inn for an early dinner, and a chance to rest the horses and the unicorn.
While the two Hylians had been busy chasing unicorns, over at the other side of Hyrule, Midna relaxed underneath the shade of a tree overhanging the bank of
, which sparkled in the sun. Although she had told the King of Hyrule that she planned to visit the lake that day to keep an eye for anything unusual coming from the desert to the west, she had really wanted to go for the benefit of Arden, her Aquamentus. Lake Hylia
She looked down at the surface of the lake, and could see the sleek, glossy black shape of her pet weaving through the water, using his waterproof wings to steer himself through the cool liquid. She reached out to a saddlebag, and retrieved a scrap of meat from inside it. The Twilight Princess then held the meat over the water.
The dark shape seemed to pause for a moment, and then it raced towards the surface like lightning. Midna threw the meat up into the air just as
broke the surface. The sunlight shimmered off his scales, briefly revealing the faint, elegant patterns that adorned his body, and glinted on the sole horn that protruded from his head. Arden
He quickly flapped his wings to get himself airborne, holding his hooves close to his body to keep himself streamlined. He expertly snapped up the meat that his mistress had thrown before making a U-turn and diving straight back into the water.
“Very impressive. Does it do any other tricks?”
Midna gasped and looked around to see that Ganondorf had silently appeared and was now sat behind her.
“More than you could ever hope to manage,” the Twilight Princess replied bitterly after regaining her composure, “I must say, it’s a bit brave of you to turn up here alone, without your lackeys.”
“I could say the same about you,” Ganondorf said coolly, “Sat here, with no little dog to protect you.”
Midna scoffed. “Ha! You don’t have to worry about me. I can take you on with one hand tied behind my back.”
“No, you can’t. No one can, except the Legendary Hero.”
“Then take me. Take me now.”
Ganondorf grinned. “Don’t tempt me, madam.” He wrapped an arm around Midna’s shoulders as he spoke.
burst forth from the water again, this time landing squarely on the ground. He spread his wings, growled at the sorcerer, and lowered his head so that his horn pointed straight at him. Arden
“I see your… creature objects to my treatment of you,” Ganondorf said.
“He’s not the only one.” Midna tried to force the dark lord’s arm off her, but he only gripped her tighter.
“Interesting creature, though,” Ganondorf conceded, “The power of a dragon mixed with the beauty of a unicorn. If you were to join me, I suppose it would be the same thing.”
The sorcerer finally released the Twili and stared hard at her. He wanted to do away with her now, but he fought hard to keep his rage to himself.
“Midna,” he uttered her name softly, “as much as it tears me inside to admit it, I’m asking you nicely. Be grateful that I am giving you this opportunity, especially after the trouble you’ve caused me in the past. You can join me now and all will be forgotten, or else I’ll be forced to take drastic measures on you.”
Midna shrugged. “Why change the habit of a lifetime?”
Ganondorf clenched his fist, trying to suppress his rage.
roared and kept his focus on him. Arden
“So that’s a ‘no’, is it?” Ganondorf snarled.
“You know by now that I would never follow a false king.” Midna folded her arms and glared at her harasser.
“Then you leave me no choice.” It was over in a matter of seconds. As the dark lord raised his hand to strike,
charged at him. Ganondorf quickly stood up and grasped his horn with one hand, holding the furious Aquamentus back with immense strength. Arden
tried to shake himself free, but his opponent kept a firm grip on him before punching him in the side of his face. The punch wasn’t enough to cause him much pain, but it did knock Arden off-balance enough for Ganondorf to shoot a dark magic blast at him. With a roar of pain, the beast staggered backwards and fell back clumsily into the water. Arden
The fight was over so soon that Midna was still trying to register what had happened by the time Ganondorf grabbed her arm and twisted it behind her back.
“You said you could take me on with one hand behind your back,” he growled threateningly, “Go on. Do your worst.”
Midna took a deep breath and glared daggers over her shoulder.
“Is that the best you can manage?” Her foe grinned and gave a menacing chuckle. “Really, I would have expected more of a fight from you.”
With her free hand, the Twili conjured up a magic blast of her own and sent it out like lightning into Ganondorf’s leg. The sorcerer cried out in pain for a moment, but never let go of his grasp on her.
“There it is!” he cried out triumphantly with a hint of ecstasy, “There’s the Midna I know! I knew you had it in you!”
Midna twisted her hand to strike again, but her actions were cut short. Ganondorf had brought his own free hand around to the princess’s chest, and Midna felt a great pain weaving through her entire body, as though she were being pulled in two ways.
She opened her mouth to scream, but her voice was lost to the sensation of being sucked into a black hole. The process lasted for minutes that felt like hours, and Midna would have breathed a sigh of relief once the pain stopped. However, she was in no condition to do so. As soon as the spell was over, her body slumped, unconscious, in Ganondorf’s arm, while the sorcerer held a glowing, ball-shaped, purple mass of energy in his hand.
He placed the body on the floor and took a few deep breaths to regain his energy, laughing gleefully as he studied the purple mass. Holding his other hand over the mass, a crystal materialised over it, trapping the energy inside.
“Sorry about that,” he said, staring at the crystal with the maniacal eyes of a madman, “but some things are just too good to waste.”
Taking one last look at his work, the sorcerer summoned up a portal to the Twilight Realm, and vanished through it, leaving the scenery as peaceful and serene as it ever was.
“I’m going to find out what it is that’s after her,” Link said as he ran his fork along his food, “I can’t imagine anything that could chase a unicorn all the way here just giving up and going home.”
“To be honest with you, I think it might already be here,” Zelda replied.
The pair were now enjoying an early dinner in the nearest inn they could find. Their horses were stabled up, as was the unicorn, which the stable hands had promised to take very good care of.
“It’s already here?” Link echoed, “How can you be sure? We don’t even know what it is.”
“When we followed her here, I…” Zelda hesitated. She knew how seriously Link took even the smallest of hunches. But it was too late now, she had piqued his interest, and he wouldn’t allow the topic to drop without a fight.
“I saw a shadow behind us,” she said at last, “Just before we got here. It could have been nothing, or a trick of the eyes. Don’t listen to me. Just forget I said anything.”
“Princess, you know that there’s a very good chance that it isn’t nothing.”
“Just forget it, all right? Like you said, we don’t even know what it is that was after her, anyway.”
The hero wanted to chase the topic further, but he knew that Zelda would say no more about it, and instead contented himself with his meal. As he chewed on a piece of meat, he turned his head this way and that, taking in his surroundings. Many people were glancing over in his direction, but he knew they were more interested in Princess Zelda.
Various rough-looking men of all shapes and sizes were occupying the bar. Link recognised some of them as guards and swordsmen from
, while others he guessed to be heavy workers or travellers. Hyrule Castle
Just as he was starting to shift his gaze across the room, the door opened, and a tall, muscular man entered and made his way to the bar. His stubble-lined face was framed by a matt of black hair, and his brown eyes were fixed with a piercing sternness, not unlike the expression found on a hawk.
As Link took in this new arrival’s appearance, he made particular note of his dress sense. Although he wore a dirty and torn short, which revealed various scars underneath, it was the fur cloak that caught Link’s eyes the most. He guessed that it was wolf fur, and felt as though the man was wearing the skin of someone he knew. He knew that that wasn’t true, but he felt that way all the same.
Once the man had passed him, he then noticed the end of a bow that were slung over the stranger’s back poking out from underneath the cloak, as well as a quiver of arrows strapped around his waist.
“A huntsman, I’d wager,” he swallowed and muttered to himself as he turned back around to face Zelda.
The princess said nothing. She glanced up briefly at the stranger and continued eating.
“Wonder what he’s doing here?” Link muttered.
Zelda looked up and over her friend’s shoulder. The man was now sat at the bar, ordering a drink.
“Clearly not on business,” she replied.
Somehow, that didn’t make Link feel any better. He knew that the huntsman had paid no attention to him as he passed, but when he did, the hero had felt as though he were a wolf, despite still being in human form. A small part of him had wanted to run and hide.
“You don’t see many of his kind around here,” he said more to himself than to Zelda. The princess had given him a questioning look, so he continued, “Back in Ordon, there were a few huntsmen living in the forests and mountains near the village. They kept to themselves mostly; we didn’t bother them unless we needed to and they didn’t bother us.
“They very rarely venture into, well, inhabited places. Not unless they have a real need to, or if they’ve been summoned by someone.”
“And you think this one’s up to something?” Zelda asked.
Link opened his mouth to respond, but the sound of footsteps coming towards them made him think twice. The huntsman had approached them and was now standing next to Link. But he paid the hero no heed and addressed Zelda instead.
“According to that lot over there,” the hunter indicated towards a group of swordsmen at the bar, “you’re Princess Zelda of Hyrule. Am I correct?”
“Indeed.” Zelda tried to sound indifferent when she spoke and took a small sip of wine.
“Well, I never,” the hunter bowed. It wasn’t a mocking gesture, but at the same time the movement wasn’t exactly one of genuine politeness. “It is an honour to meet you, Your Highness.” He then noticed Link for the first time. “And this runt is…?”
“Link,” Zelda cut in quick before her friend could make some kind of snappy response.
“Link?” The huntsman paused for a moment and licked his lips as he racked his brains, “You must be the other one those guys were on about. The one who saved this kingdom from monsters a long while back.”
“That’s me.” Link tried not to look the man in the eyes.
“Can’t have done a very good job of it, then, if you’re crawling with monsters again.” The hunter smiled and chuckled. “But I’ve got to say I appreciate your efforts, nonetheless. The name’s Corvin.” He beamed and offered his hand. Link reluctantly accepted the greeting, finally daring to look Corvin in the face properly.
“So,” Link tried to stop himself, but the words unexpectedly blundered out, “what brings someone like you to civilisation?”
“Link!” Zelda hissed angrily.
Corvin glared hard at Link, who was once again beginning to feel an overwhelming, feral urge to run. He knew it was ridiculous, but he felt as though the huntsman could stare straight through his human self at the wolf within.
However, Corvin suddenly brightened up and chuckled jovially, even going as far as to slap Link on the back. As he did so, the hero couldn’t help but notice a slight wince to the action.
“Well, you can tell your princess that I’m not here to poach any of her father’s wildlife for starters,” Corvin replied, “As for why I’m here, I’m afraid I can’t tell you.” He wrapped an arm around Link’s shoulders as he continued, “Nothing personal, you understand. It’s just that I’d rather no one else pried in my business. Rest assured, I’ll keep myself to myself, and won’t do anything to bother you or your lovely lady.”
Link tried to say something, but all he could force out was a strangled whine.
“Nervous chap, isn’t he?” Corvin said to Zelda as he released his grip on Link, “Like a little rabbit. I can’t see how he can fight monsters if he’s like that. Then again, I guess you never know what a timid little creature will do once it’s threatened.
“In fact, I hear you two have managed to capture a live unicorn.” He sounded impressed by the deed.
“I wouldn’t say ‘captured’,” Zelda explained when Link failed to respond, “More like calmed it down.”
“All the same, it’s an incredible accomplishment. Not many people can catch a unicorn.”
Much to Link’s annoyance, Zelda blushed.
“It’s something that often eludes even the best hunters.
“Thank you,” Zelda blushed even more.
“You’re welcome,” Corvin replied, “Listen, I need to get back to my drink now, as I’m very thirsty, so I won’t keep you two any longer. Charming to have met you both.” With a cheery smile, the huntsman nodded his head and left the pair alone.
“You can relax now,” Zelda said coolly once the hunter had returned to the bar, “For Farore’s sake, I’ve never seen you look so nervous,” she added.
But Link wasn’t listening. He was trying to peer over his shoulder through the corner of his eye.
“Link, stop worrying and eat your dinner,” the princess scolded him like a mother scolding a child.
When hero ignored her again, Zelda looked over at Corvin. She watched him closely, and noticed a slight wince as he gulped down a glass of ale. However, she soon became bored and ordered her friend to stop staring at him.
“He’s up to something,” the hero muttered.
“I cannot deny that,” Zelda said in reply, “But sitting there glaring at him isn’t going to help. You’ll only draw attention to yourself.” Leaning in closer and speaking in a faint whisper, the princess added, “What are we going to do about the unicorn?”
“When I get the chance, I’ll see if I can move her out of here,” Link replied, “Tonight if necessary, when it’s dark. Failing that, I’ll at least try and talk to her. See if I can find out what’s going on.”
“Tonight?” Zelda repeated, “And what are we supposed to do with her before then?”
Link shrugged. “Just keep her out of trouble.”
“I suppose you’re used to this, aren’t you? Babysitting troubled animals.”
“I’ve had my moments.”
“And what about Dad? We only said we’d be gone for a few hours. I think he’d notice if we weren’t back by this afternoon, let alone nightfall. If we stay too long, he’ll have your hide on his bedroom wall.”
“Then you go back without me. I’m more than capable of looking after myself.”
“Out of the question. I promised him I’d keep an eye on you.”
Link stood up abruptly. “Then why don’t you stick me on a lead or something?” he asked irritably. And before she could reply, he marched straight out of the inn.
“Link, I didn’t mean…” Zelda tried to call after him, but her words fell on deaf ears. Alone, she looked around the room, and found only anxious people quickly looking away. Her gaze then glided towards Corvin. Clearly, he had witnessed the outburst, and was the last face to turn away.
Link walked purposefully into the stables behind the inn. There, a couple of grooms were tending to the myriad of horses kept there. The hero knew that while they were there, he had no chance of speaking with the unicorn without causing a fuss. Instead, he wandered over to the beast’s stall, and saw that she appeared to be cowering at the far end.
“Has she been fed?” Link asked one of the grooms, inclining his head towards the creature.
“We’ve tried to feed her, but she doesn’t want to know,” the man replied.
Link took another look at the unicorn. Although she stood up straighter than she had when Zelda had found her, she still looked frightened.
“Hey, it’s OK,” Link said to her reassuringly, “These guys won’t hurt you, and neither will I.”
Epona whinnied from her stall. Link looked over at her briefly before turning his attention back to the unicorn.
“None of the horses will hurt you, either,” he added.
The unicorn snorted in what the hero assumed to be frustration.
“You’re not frightened of them?” he queried. He knew he was getting some strange looks from the grooms, but he knew that if he tried talking to her through his usual methods, all hell would break loose. “What are you worried about, then?” He knew the answer already, but he felt like the question was worth asking anyway.
“If we go now…” he started to say, but the unicorn reared up and backed away. Clearly, she wasn’t willing to go anywhere.
Link took another look at the grooms before facing the unicorn again. “I’ll be back,” he said, “You can’t stay here forever. I’ll get you out of here and back where you came from safe and sound, no matter what it takes.”
Hours after Ganondorf’s visit, the once peaceful
had become a place of bustling activity. Zoras patrolling the usually calm waters had surfaced onto dry land to witness the peculiar scene that was now presented before them, while people who were travelling nearby couldn’t resist trying to steal a glance at what was troubling them so much. Lake Hylia
It was this scene that greeted Rusl, a skilled swordsman from Ordon, and Ashei, a headstrong girl from the western mountains, when they arrived. Rusl dismounted from the sleek brown stallion he was riding, and approached one of the onlookers, a red-haired, bespectacled young man named Shad. Ashei quickly caught up with him.
“How’s the situation now, Shad?” she asked.
“Nothing’s changed,” the boy replied, “That thing’s still prowling about, attacking anyone who gets too close.”
“What thing?” Rusl asked, peering through the crowd.
“That strange dragon creature,” Ashei answered.
Rusl forced his way towards the front of the small crowd. There, under a lone tree, was the still, lifeless body of Midna. However, the big concern was Arden, who had resurfaced after recovering from Ganondorf’s attack, and had now taken to standing guard over her. He stamped his hooves on the ground, snarled, and pointed his horn at the group.
Rusl tried to get closer, but a Zora guard held his spear out in front of him.
merely spread his wings and roared at the swordsman. Arden
“Don’t get too close,” the Zora warned him, “We’ve already had three casualties today.”
“What happened here?” Rusl asked the guard.
“No one knows, if I’m honest,” the guard replied, “We were down at the bottom of the lake, and there were no other witnesses. All we know is that that creature was swimming about, minding its own business, surfaced for a short time, and then just fell in, unconscious. Then, once it regained its senses, it swam back out, and it’s been lurking about here, protecting who or whatever it is over there, ever since.”
“And there are no other witnesses, you say?” Rusl asked disbelievingly, folding his arms.
“No one saw what had happened on the surface.” The Zora, who had repeated the story many times before, was starting to get impatient.
“Are you sure?”
Rusl tried to look over at the body the Aquamentus was fiercely protecting.
“That’s that Twilight woman over there,” Ashei said, following her friend’s gaze.
“The one Link’s allied with?”
The girl nodded her head. Rusl led the group away from the crowd before speaking.
“So something attacked her, left her for dead, and that thing won’t allow anyone near enough to find out what’s going on?”
“That’s pretty much the situation at the moment, yes,” Shad confirmed.
Suddenly, a squawking voice spoke from above the crowd. “He doesn’t trust any of you enough to let you look at her, that’s his problem.”
The trio looked up as a pink-red bird with a light blue crest hovered over the gathering. It swooped down and landed on a rock near the group.
“Did that bird talk just then?” Shad asked, astounded. He lowered his glasses down his nose and peered at the bird over the rim.
“Plumm knows what’s going on,” the bird spoke in its squawk-like voice, ignoring the youth’s comment.
“I’ve heard about you,” Ashei glared at the bird, “Link’s told me about you. From what he’s told me, I thought you didn’t usually deal with humans.”
“Deal with humans?” Shad repeated, “What? Like, bargain?”
But no one paid him any heed.
Plumm ruffled her feathers importantly, and said, “I just thought you might want to know what’s going on. But, if you don’t want my help…” She made a grand show of trailing off her sentence, and spreading her wings.
“Wait, we want to know,” Rusl quickly insisted, “Why doesn’t that thing want us to try and help that Twilight woman?”
Plumm eyed the swordsman closely before replying. “I told you already; he doesn’t trust your kind.”
“What do you mean ‘our kind’?”
“I think she might mean humans,” Shad suggested, this time peering back at the Aquamentus.
“I believe his exact words were ‘Light Worlders’,” Plumm chirped, “Humans, Hylians, Zoras, even some beasts, although he seems to tolerate us more. He was very snappish with me, let me tell you, but he wasn’t as bad as he is with your lot.”
“‘His exact words’?” Rusl echoed, “You mean to say that that thing can talk as well?”
Plumm made a squawking laugh at the question. “As in ‘talk human language’? Of course not! He spoke his own species’ language. All animals can understand one another, you must know that,” she explained as though it were obvious, “You should be glad that Plumm can speak your language as well as that of the beasts.”
“Of course. Carry on,” Rusl said, nodding his head in understanding.
“Well, he said that his mistress was attacked by some warlock named Ganondorf…”
“Ganondorf?” the trio exclaimed.
“He was here?! And no one saw?” Ashei sounded livid.
“Hey, don’t shoot the messenger, woman!” Plumm cried, flapping her wings in a rage, “As I was saying, his mistress was attacked by this Ganondorf person. He tried to protect her, but failed. Now he’s trying to make sure no one else harms her.”
“So, she’s not dead, then?” Rusl asked, looking over at the scene again.
“It seems not. She’s out cold, but she’s still breathing. Well, not out cold as such. I’ve had a peek at her from that tree, and sometimes her eyes open and she tries to talk. But she might as well be out cold, anyway.”
“She’s Link’s friend,” Rusl said, “Does he know about this?”
“As soon as I found out who the woman was, I tried looking for him first,” Ashei explained, “but one of the guards in the castle town says he’s gone riding somewhere with Zelda. So I just went to you instead. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry,” Plumm puffed up her chest feathers, “I don’t think Link would be much use here, anyway.”
Rusl, Ashei, and Shad each exchanged puzzled glances. “Why wouldn’t he be much use?” Rusl asked, “I thought he was a friend of that woman.”
“Well, the dragon said that there are two people it could trust enough to try and heal his mistress,” the small bird paused for dramatic effect, relishing the attention she was getting, “I say ‘people’, although one of them isn’t a person as such…”
“Just spit it out!” Ashei exclaimed impatiently.
“All right, all right! Keep your hair on, woman! As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted,” Plumm held a beady blue eye on Ashei, “the two people that that thing trusts to help his mistress are the Princess of Light, and the Sacred Beast.”
Again, the trio looked puzzled.
“Those were his exact words,” Plumm squawked defensively, “and that’s all I know of it!”
“The Princess of Light?” Shad repeated thoughtfully, “You don’t think he could be referring to Zelda, do you?”
“She’s our best bet,” Rusl said, “but what about this Sacred Beast?”
“I’ve certainly never heard of a Sacred Beast,” Ashei said.
“Me neither,” Shad said.
“I suppose we’ll have to settle on finding Zelda for now,” Rusl mused.
“But if the Twilight woman and Link are friends, why doesn’t the dragon trust him?” Ashei asked.
“We’ll probably find out soon enough.” Rusl turned his attention to the mynah bird. “Thank you, Plumm. We’re very grateful for the information. If you can, try to keep talking with that thing. If you happen to find anything else out, you’ll be sure to tell one of us, right?”
Plumm gave the trio one last, long look, and then spread her wings and flew off.
“Right,” Rusl said decisively, “First of all, we need to find Link and Zelda. Ashei, did the guard tell you where they went?”
“I think he said they were heading towards the
,” the warrior girl replied. Eldin Province
“Then I’ll go there first, and try to find them. They need to know of their friend’s plight. You stay here and keep an eye on the situation. If anything changes, let one of us know as soon as possible. Send Plumm if necessary.”
Ashei nodded in acknowledgement.
“Shad,” Rusl paused hesitantly, “You see if you can find out anything about this Sacred Beast thing, all right?”
“I’ll try,” Shad replied, sounding a little disappointed.
“Right. Good luck to you, then,” the Ordonian swordsman said. He then saddled up on the horse he had borrowed and rode off to the east.
“It’s him she’s scared of, I’m sure of it.”
“I know, Link, but you can’t confront him now.”
“Why not? She knows he’s here and isn’t going to budge until he’s gone, he knows she’s here and is just dying to go out and find her. He needs to be dealt with quickly before something terrible happens to her.”
The pair were stood outside the stables near the inn, discussing what they were to do with the unicorn.
“You know that if she stays here, she’ll be a danger to others if Corvin finds her,” Link explained.
“There has to be another way of sorting this out, though,” Zelda added, “If you confront Corvin, you’ll only be drawing attention to yourself. And what if Corvin isn’t the one who’s after her?”
Link stared at the princess incredulously.
“I’m just trying to work out each possible outcome here,” Zelda explained, “If we could just get the unicorn out of here now, quietly, then we can work on getting her home safely, and Corvin need never know that it was us who moved her.”
Link folded his arms. “Good thinking, but there’s only one problem; if we move her now, she’s going to attract a lot of attention.”
“But if we wait until tonight, Corvin could find and kill her.”
“Which is why it’s worth getting rid of Corvin now and then moving the unicorn later.”
“No!” the princess insisted impatiently, “Listen, the unicorn’s main concern is her safety, right? So as long as knows we’re keeping her away from any danger, she should be all right.”
“We’re keeping her away from danger now, and she’s still panicking,” Link muttered, folding his arms, “She knows she’s not safe here. To be honest, I’m surprised she hasn’t tried to escape by now.”
“Exactly. We need to get her out of here now before she does try to escape. Corvin already knows that we were the ones who caught her, so he’ll be watching us carefully. If we leave her alone until later, he’ll seize his opportunity to get her. That’s why we have to move her now, and do it without anyone noticing.”
“Oh good,” Link said sarcastically, trying his best to keep his voice low, “Then he can not only kill her, but us as well.”
It seemed both sides were becoming exasperated by the situation, and the tension between the princess and the hero swelled immensely.
“He won’t attack all of us at once,” Zelda said as levelly as she could, “He doesn’t even have a horse, for Din’s sake, so he won’t be able to follow us!”
“That’s what bothers me most,” Link explained, “From what I saw of him, something is causing him pain, and yet he was able to track down and chase a unicorn all the way here. Doesn’t that strike you as odd?
“And he doesn’t think we’re much of a threat. Well, he doesn’t think I’m a threat anyway. He called me a rabbit, remember?” The hero made a low growl as he recalled the remark.
“Just hear me out,” Zelda said, “He might know that we’re the ones who caught the unicorn, but he doesn’t have to know that it’s us who are moving her to safety.”
“What are you suggesting?” Link asked, raising an eyebrow suspiciously.
“I’m suggesting that you can escort her as a…” Zelda checked their surroundings for any signs of eavesdroppers before continuing, “…as a wolf,” she finished in a whisper.
“And that won’t be drawing attention to myself at all,” Link said in another sarcastic tone, “Especially after last night,” he added bitterly.
“Look, I’ll go back in there and distract Corvin,” Zelda explained, “while I’m doing that, you can lead the unicorn out of here and through the Eldin Plains as a wolf. If you keep to the back roads here, then no one will see you. Plus, you can communicate with her that way, and assure her that she will be safe.”
“And what if this goes horribly wrong?”
“And here’s me thinking that you held the essence of the Triforce of Courage,” Zelda muttered mockingly, “What is it that you’re afraid of, exactly?”
“That guy’s a hunter! Apart from unicorns, what else do you think he hunts? I know it’s not a big deal to you, but I don’t exactly wish my life to end with my fur being used as a cloak or a rug or something.”
Zelda rolled her eyes and tutted. “You’re the biggest, baddest wolf in Hyrule,” she said, “I’m sure that if something were to go wrong, and Corvin found you, you’d be able to handle a mere human like him. Besides, a few minutes ago, you wanted to confront him.”
“Of course I did. If I make the first move, then I would gain the advantage by catching him off-guard.”
“Sorry, Link, but I don’t want you drawing any attention to yourself like that for the sake of ‘gaining the advantage’. It’s better for now if you keep a low profile.”
The tone of her voice suggested to Link that the princess was in no mood to discuss the situation any further. As Zelda started to walk towards the stables, Link came to a sudden realisation.
“So, you’re going to let me off my lead?” he asked.
“For now, yes,” the princess replied sweetly, “So make the most of it while you can.”
She carefully approached the two stable hands, who were sitting down on crates while talking with one another. Before either of them noticed her arrival, Zelda sent a small, blue, spark of magic floating towards them. Once it hit the pair, it burst like a bubble, and the stable hands fell fast asleep where they sat.
“That’ll keep them out for a few hours,” she explained to Link as she passed him on the way out, “Good luck.”
Link silently cursed Zelda as he again approached the stall that held the unicorn. It was all well and good for her, she would be safe and sound in the inn, keeping Corvin occupied. It was him who was risking life and limb escorting this beautiful, yet annoying, creature back to her home.
The huntsmen back in Ordona never scared him this much, he recalled. But then, he was just a normal Hylian back in the days before he had been cursed – or blessed – by Twilight. Now, he considered them something to be afraid of. He paused for a moment to think this through. He shouldn’t be scared of them if he was in human form, and yet the mere presence of Corvin had been enough to make him nervous.
Was he becoming a wolf in mind as well as body? He knew his instincts became more primal as a beast, but that was to be expected. He also knew he had taken to howling while in human form, but that was more through choice than any real instinct. He quickly shrugged it off and decided to shift all his focus on protecting the unicorn.
The creature skittered as he approached her stall, carefully opened the latch, and stepped inside.
“Ssh,” he said, placing a finger over his lips, “I’m going to get you out of here. Whatever you do, don’t cry out or make a fuss, understand?”
As his shape changed into that of the great wolf, the unicorn started in surprise.
“Calm down, calm down!” Link growled as quietly as he could manage, casting a wary eye in the direction of the two snoozing grooms, “It’s just me.”
The unicorn calmed herself. “You… You’re a… werewolf?” she asked nervously.
“If that’s what you wish to call me, yes,” Link replied, “Come on. I’m here to rescue you.”
“You are a creature of light and shadow,” the unicorn continued, “Neither man nor beast.”
“Now’s not the time to be poetic,” Link warned her, “Anyway, that’s not entirely true! My parents were human. Well, Hylian to be exact, which is a kind of human, only we’ve got pointy... Look, that’s not the point! The point is, you need to follow me!”
The unicorn did not answer, and remained frozen on the spot where she stood.
“Go with him, graceful, horned child,” a deep, yet warm voice spoke from the stall behind Link. The pair looked over, and saw Ghost stood watching them. In the stall next to him, Epona glared at Link, clearly biting back whatever remarks she was thinking.
The unicorn gazed over at the inn, her breathing becoming rapid.
“I know Corvin, the hunter’s, in there,” Link said calmly, “but he won’t get you. I’ll make sure of that. Just come with me.”
The unicorn hesitated at first, but after a few tentative steps she soon followed Link out of the stall.
“Good, good,” the wolf praised her efforts, “Now, if we just keep to the back alleyways until we reach the Eldin Plains, that’s the big field where Zelda and I found you, by the way, and then we can make a dash for your home. Can you do that, missy?”
“Grace,” the unicorn said firmly and quietly.
“My name is Grace.”
“Oh. Nice name. It suits you. Now come on!” And with that, Link bounded out of the stables and led Grace into the nearest alley before anyone could see them.
After a few minutes of cautious pacing, the two beasts eventually reached the path leading to the Eldin Plains.
“See, there’s nothing to worry about,” Link said confidently, “I’ll walk you to the border of Hyrule, but no further. After that, you’ll be on your own.”
Grace stopped in her tracks.
“On my… own?” she asked, her voice quivering with fear.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t take you any further than that,” Link said apologetically, turning around to look back at the unicorn.
“No,” Grace said, “I can’t go alone. What if he finds me again?”
“He won’t. I’ll make sure of that.”
Link took a few steps ahead, but realised that Grace wasn’t going to follow him. He turned back around and trotted towards her. He could see the fear reappearing in her eyes.
“He’ll find us out here…” she whispered faintly.
“No, he won’t,” Link snarled, “He won’t even realise that we’re gone. He never knew where you were hiding, and he’ll think I’m still in the village. Now, come on!” He was resisting the urge to nip the unicorn at the hooves just to get her moving.
Grace turned her head slightly to the cliff side on her right and uttered, “He’s up there! He’s already found us!”
“No, he hasn’t! There is no way that the hunter would get here before us!”
“Not the hunter! The hunter’s bird!”
“Bird? You mean like a hawk?” Link tried not to laugh, “You’re scared of a hawk?” The wolf padded towards the cliffs, trying to see what Grace had seen.
“Sir Wolf, don’t!” Grace exclaimed, slowly stepping towards him.
“Sir Wolf?” Link repeated, looking over his shoulder at the unicorn. Ignoring what she had said, he added, “I don’t see anything. There’s no one there. Where are you, little birdie?” he shouted at the cliffs in a singsong voice, “Come out, come out wherever you are!”
Suddenly, one of the rocks at the top of the tall cliff moved. Within seconds, the pair could make out the silhouette of a giant bird against the bright, sunny sky. Link’s ears drooped and he whined pitifully as he realised his mistake.
“That’s him!” Grace shrieked in terror, and bolted away from her escort.
“Grace, no!” Link called after her as he chased her, “Stay by me! Ugh!”
A giant claw fell on top of Link and pinned him to the ground.
“Here I am, little wolfie,” a sinister, raspy voice spoke from somewhere above him.
Link tried to crane his neck upwards for a better look at his captor. The bird resembled a giant eagle, with mottled blue and browny-red plumage. A hard, stone helmet obscured much of its face, with only its hooked beak poking out from underneath. Two gleaming greenish-yellow eyes could be seen from the narrow slits in the helmet.
A worn out, metal chest plate adorned its torso, bent and buckled from several years of use, and rusting slightly at the edges.
“A Helmaroc?” Link pondered aloud. He had seen pictures of the giant, helmeted birds in books, but had never come face to beak with one before.
“Clever little wolfie,” the Helmaroc sneered at him. It then noticed the retreating unicorn, and immediately took off after it.
“How in the names of the goddesses did I miss a bird as big as that?” Link shouted out loud in frustration as he picked himself up.
He then heard Grace’s screams, and saw her being picked up by the Helmaroc. Without thinking, Link bounded at his target, leapt up, and clenched his jaws over one of the bird’s long and bright tail feathers. While he wasn’t strong enough to pull it out completely, he was heavy enough for the bird to feel his weight hanging down from it.
The Helmaroc screeched in surprise, and twisted about in the air in an attempt to position itself so that it could reach him with its beak. In the confusion, it released the unicorn, who fell to a dull thud on the ground, and now sported several dark red patches on her white body.
Satisfied that Grace was now free, Link let go of his grip, falling equally unceremoniously on the ground. He rushed over to Grace’s side, stood in front of her, and growled at the huge eagle.
Meanwhile, Zelda was busy trying to keep Corvin from leaving Kakariko. However, the huntsman seemed very eager to go, and she was finding herself desperately trying to hinder his progress, if nothing else.
“I’m sorry, Your Highness, but I must go,” Corvin insisted politely, “and surely you must have some business to attend to, as well. You must be a very busy person, yourself.”
“But I haven’t heard about all the places you’ve been to yet,” Zelda said, wrapping her arms around the hunter’s shoulders, “I’m sure a big, strong man like you must have been on some fascinating adventures.”
“Maybe some other time,” Corvin said, wincing as he forced himself free from the embrace, “But right now, there is something that I have to do.”
At that point, a distant screech could be heard.
“Glen!” Corvin hissed very quietly while the other visitors chatted curiously with each other about what they had just heard. Zelda had to strain her ears to hear it.
“Is everything all right?” she asked sympathetically.
“I have to go, seriously,” Corvin said, racing to the inn’s door. Turning around, he glared at Zelda and said in a stern tone, “Don’t follow me.”
Zelda stood akimbo and said, “If you say it like that, then it’s practically an invitation.”
“I mean it!” Corvin warned her darkly. And before Zelda could say anything else, he was gone.
Link’s battle against the Helmaroc was going badly. He considered transforming back into his usual form, but the thoughts were immediately replaced by an adrenaline rush as he bit and clawed at the bird’s feet. He had expected Grace to help out, but the unicorn was too terrified to do anything except either stand still or run.
After being shaken off, the wolf found himself being plucked into the air by his foe’s beak. His heart beat faster and he began to feel faint. With a deft flick of its head, the Helmaroc tried to swallow him whole. With his tail going in first, Link frantically tried to wrap his front claws around the bottom half of the beak and force himself out.
“Grace! Do something!” he yelled at the top of his lungs, desperately scrambling to free himself from his predicament. He could feel the tip of the Helmaroc’s beak pressing into the back of his neck.
Much to his amazement, Grace paused in mid-dash, performed a graceful U-turn despite the minor injuries she had sustained, and charged at the bird, her head down, and her horn pointing towards her target. While doing very little harm, the impact was enough to make the Helmaroc choke on its meal and vomit Link out.
The wolf landed with a dull thud, dazed and exhausted, but still trying to find enough energy to stand up.
“Thank you,” he said weakly, swaying slightly as he attempted to steady himself.
“Pathetic insects,” the Helmaroc taunted, “You can’t hope to match me.”
Her brave deed done, fear reappeared in Grace’s face, and she backed off slowly, preparing to run away again.
“Grace, don’t,” Link warned her, his teeth bared ferociously.
The giant eagle chuckle a cruel, squawk-like laugh, and swiftly motioned to strike at the unicorn. With as much energy as he could muster, Link leapt up and tried to bite at the bird’s neck. However, the Helmaroc was quick to spot this, as he twisted his head around, caught the wolf in his beak again and tossed him to ground with considerable force.
“Sir Wolf!” Grace gasped in shock.
The Helmaroc pressed a claw over the shaking wolf, towering over his prey.
“Glenister!” called out a familiar voice, causing the bird to become distracted.
From the direction of Kakariko, the hazy shape of Corvin came into view, running towards the scuffle. Grace gasped again and, despite her gaping wounds, made her escape as fast as she could.
“Don’t just stand there!” the hunter shouted out as he tried to keep up, “Go after the unicorn!”
“You got lucky, wolf,” Glenister said to Link before carelessly kicking the wolf aside and taking off after Grace.
“May the winds of Farore protect you, Grace,” Link muttered weakly as he stood up.
A gasp of pain from Corvin pricked Link’s ears. He turned around to see the huntsman on his knees, grasping hold of an arm, his face an expression of repressed agony.
In spite of having been thrown and shaken about, Link still pulled himself together enough to adopt a defensive stance and growl warningly at the hunter.
“Huh?” Corvin said to himself, noticing the wolf for the first time. He suppressed his pain enough to stand up and approach the snarling beast. “Well, well, look at you,” he said, “Such interesting markings. Are all Hyrulian wolves like you, I wonder? I’ll bet your hide will fetch a lot. Assuming I survive this, of course,” he added, grasping his arm again, “But just in case…” He threw the cloak off, strung his bow, and drew out an arrow.
Link’s eyes widened in disbelief as the reality of what was now happening sank in. He swiftly leapt to one side as Corvin’s arrow flew past his shoulder and tried to charge at his opponent. However, his earlier encounter with Glenister had left him tired and dazed, and the second arrow buried itself into the right hand side of his chest area.
He howled in pain as Corvin readied a third arrow. But the shot was never made. As Link collapsed in exhaustion to the ground, he heard the voice of Princess Zelda, and tried watch the blurring confrontation from his position.
“I thought you said you weren’t here to poach my father’s wildlife,” she scolded the hunter.
“And I thought I told you not to follow me,” Corvin growled back at her. He turned around and approached the princess, who was mounted on Ghost.
Link wanted to jump up and attack before the huntsman did anything to her, but he couldn’t find the energy anymore.
“Never mind that,” Zelda said, drawing out her sword and aiming the point of the blade at Corvin. “Now, I don’t know who you are, where you come from, or what you are doing here, but I do know that killing that wolf was not on your agenda.”
“You don’t want to get on the wrong side of me, Your Highness,” Corvin said warningly, “But since I can’t resist beautiful women such as yourself.” He replaced the arrow back into the quiver and stormed off across the plain, clutching his arm again.
Zelda waited until the huntsman had disappeared from view before dismounting and leading Ghost towards the limp body, hoping that the worst hadn’t occurred.
Much to her relief, Link had retained enough stamina to keep his eyes open, but he didn’t know how much longer he could hold on for. Blood was oozing out of the hole that the arrow had made.
“Stay with me, Link,” Zelda said encouragingly as she inspected the lame wolf.
Link’s eyelids began to flutter. He was starting to feel very tired.
“Don’t you even think about going anywhere, Legendary Hero,” Ghost scolded him in a low voice, “If you do, I swear I’ll chase you across the plains of the afterlife just to get you back.”
Link’s eyes snapped open. “You’ll what?” he asked the stallion in a faint voice.
But Ghost said nothing else on the matter.
By now, Zelda had managed to turn the large wolf onto his back and was now trying to pull the arrow out of him, which only resulted in him yelping and accidentally scratching her arm with a front claw.
“Don’t move, Link,” she instructed the wolf, “I know it hurts, but I’ve got to get it out.” She then held onto the arrow again and pulled firmly, holding the other arm on Link’s chest. Link whimpered in pain and tried not to lash out as the arrow slowly started to slide out. He instinctively tried to grasp hold of the arrow himself, but quickly remembered that he no longer had opposable thumbs and let his paw lie limply next to it instead.
“Link, don’t,” Zelda ordered him as she noticed his flexing claws, “Just focus on staying with us.”
After a few more tugs, the arrow was finally freed from the wolf’s chest. Link’s eerie howling was heard across the vast plains before he panted heavily in relief.
“Good boy,” Zelda said, smiling and running her hand along the hero’s furred cheek. However, he was still bleeding, and while his still-human eyes showed the relief he felt, they also began to close, despite his best efforts.
Ghost whinnied in frustration and stamped his front hooves close to Link’s head in order to wake him up.
Zelda frantically searched for something she could use to try and stop the bleeding, and laid her eyes on Corvin’s discarded cloak. Link was initially reluctant to allow himself to be wrapped in it, but he eventually gave in and tried not to breathe through his nose. He didn’t want to be reminded of how he had gotten into this mess by the huntsman’s stench.
“Can you stand up?” Zelda wondered aloud as she urged her friend onto his feet.
Link was shaky, but he managed to stand up on his own. However, he lacked the energy to walk far without being supported. With some considerable effort and cooperation from all involved, he was hoisted onto Ghost’s back and carried across the field back into
. Kakariko Village
“You’re almost there, Hero,” the stallion spoke to him, “Don’t get lazy now. Trust me, I’ll be the first to know if you do.”
“I apologise again for this,” Ganondorf said casually to the crystal that held Midna’s soul. Upon his return to the Twilight Realm, the sorcerer king had demanded that the crystal be kept in a safe place while he recuperated from his actions.
He had to admit, staying alive for a few centuries, then getting killed and coming back to life was certainly taking its toll on him. But he knew he could still pull off the strongest of spells if he wished.
Once he was feeling better, he sought out the crystal and ordered that his slaves give him privacy as he set about putting his new plan into effect. He had never said what the crystal contained; many of the Twili only served him out of fear, and he knew that any chance they could find to use their true ruler’s power to overthrow him could be taken with open arms.
“You should be thankful, really,” he said to the glowing, purple mass inside the crystal, “I could have killed you there and then. I even left your body out of the water.”
The sorcerer relaxed against a wall and held the crystal close to his face.
“I suppose it’s my fault, really,” he continued, “I just find myself attracted to women as strong as you. I suppose it comes with being raised by the Gerudo.” Ganondorf paused wistfully as he recalled the tribe of women who, many moons ago, had occupied Hyrule’s deserts.
“And you are a strong woman, Midna. Not as strong as the Gerudo were, but still strong enough to catch my attention. It’s such a shame we got off on the wrong foot.
“However, I’m through with being nice. The facts remain thus; my current allies are, to put it bluntly, useless. The Twili, obedient as they are, do not have the protection of Light that you possess, while my hordes of monsters are… well, the less said about them, the better.
“You, on the other hand, are useful. You possess powers and knowledge that I can utilise. Powers that, for some reason, you do not use to help your friends as much as you should. Which I suppose is a blessing. Anyway, the point is, if you do not wish to use them, then I will.”
He paused after his triumphant speech and muttered to himself, “What am I doing? She can’t hear me from here. She’s just a soulless wreck out in the Light World! I would’ve been better off saying all that to her face before I did anything to her! Oh well, I’m pretty sure she got the message, anyway.”
The sorcerer raised his free hand towards the crystal, and summoned up as much energy as he could. Slowly, the purple mass started to stream out of the crystal, into his hand, and vanished up his arm. However, he had not gotten very far through the process when one of his Twili slaves burst in, breaking his concentration mid-spell.
“My Lord,” the Twili said, not noticing his master’s annoyed expression.
“Did I or did I not clearly say that I was not to be disturbed?” Ganondorf asked through gritted teeth.
“I apologise, my Lord,” the Twili said, bowing low, “But your monsters bring news of a giant bird that has appeared in the northern mountains.”
“Do I look like I care about that?” Ganondorf glared impatiently at his slave, who continued speaking regardless.
“They say that the bird was chasing after a…” the Twili paused and tried to think, “I cannot quite remember what they called it. It’s like an Aquamentus, but with hair and no wings.”
The sorcerer rolled his eyes and marched towards the now cowering creature. He crouched down a little and stared into the Twili’s red eyes.
“I don’t care,” he said slowly, “If it has nothing to do with Link or Zelda, then it is of no concern of mine.” Hoping that he had gotten his point across, he stood up again and turned his back to the slave.
“But, my Lord, I still think you should…”
Ganondorf groaned. “If I hear you out, then will you leave me alone?”
The Twili nodded rapidly.
“Right, fine! What is it?”
“I think you ought to follow me, my Lord.”
With another groan, the sorcerer placed the crystal on a smooth stone shelf before following the creature out.
“I’ll deal with you later,” he muttered over his shoulder as he left.
had quietened down by the time Zelda returned; clearly everyone had now forgotten about the unfamiliar cry that had echoed across the cliffs and returned to their previous business. Kakariko Village
She was vaguely aware of many heads turning to try and glimpse at the limp wolf that Ghost carried, but she duly ignored them.
“Ghost? What is it?” she asked when the stallion stopped abruptly, refusing to move from the spot where he stood. “Come on,” she said in an attempt to coax him onwards, pulling gently on the reins she held as she did so.
When the horse still refused to move, the princess peered at his back and noticed that Link had drifted unconscious.
“Don’t do this to me, Link!” she hissed in a low voice at the wolf. She carefully manoeuvred a delicate hand underneath the heavy beast. After feeling the sticky stains of blood, she was relieved to feel a faint heartbeat under the fur.
“Come on, Ghost,” Zelda tried to get her horse moving again, “We need to get him to Renado.”
The stallion began trotting again, and Zelda led him through the village to the Sanctuary that was situated near the Spirit Spring of Eldin. She didn’t know how she would explain the situation to the shaman, but she was certain that he would be able to help her friend.
Many more people watched curiously as the princess hurried through the dusty streets. They talked in low voices and pointed out the unconscious wolf to one another.
“Renado?” Zelda called as she rapped on the door to the Sanctuary, “Renado, are you there?”
“Princess?” Renado responded when he answered.
“Oh, thank the goddesses,” Zelda sighed with relief, “I need your help. It’s…” she was about to say ‘Link’ but quickly stopped herself. “This might sound a little odd, but it’s this wolf,” she said eventually, taking the cloak off Link as she spoke.
“A wolf?” Renado queried, stepping outside to see the furry bundle resting on Ghost’s saddle.
“It’s a long story, but this wolf’s been shot with an arrow and looks close to death,” Zelda explained hurriedly, “I managed to get the arrow out,” she continued, holding up Corvin’s arrow, which she still held, “but now he’s unconscious and he won’t wake up.”
The shaman looked uncertainly at the beast. “You want me to heal this wolf?” he asked in a slow voice.
Zelda sighed. “Look, I know it sounds strange, but you need to help this wolf! And if not you, then someone who can! The wolf must not die! Trust me. If the wolf dies, then we’ll also lose… Just help him. Please.”
The sense of urgency in her voice was enough to inform Renado not to question her any further, and so he set about picking up the heavy creature and carefully carrying it into the Sanctuary.
Luda!” he called to his daughter inside the hut, “Get me some blankets! And once you’ve done that, I’ll need some water from the Spirit Spring!”
Once inside, he laid the wolf down onto the blankets and examined the chest wound.
“He was struck hard,” he observed, “but not hard enough to it to be fatal. How long has he been unconscious?”
“Not long,” Zelda responded, “He drifted off about a few minutes or so before we got to you.”
“Then there’s a good chance he’ll live.” Renado’s face was expressionless as he traced the various scratches and wounds Link had obtained during his scuffle with Glenister. He paused as he studied the wolf’s left paw, brushing the fur back with his thumb.
Zelda’s heart leapt into her throat as she watched, and wondered if the shaman had spotted something that would confirm the beast’s true identity. She wasn’t sure how she would be able to explain if he did. The princess inwardly sighed with relief as Renado placed the paw down and continued inspecting the wolf.
Ludareturned with the water, Renado began cleaning the cuts, and rubbing various herbs over the chest wound. Zelda offered to help out wherever she could. The fact that Link didn’t seem to be responding to any of this started to worry her immensely, but then she would see his chest moving up and down as he breathed. It was enough to reassure her, but she still didn’t wish to see her friend in this sort of condition.
Every once in a while, Zelda would chance a look at the interior of the Sanctuary. A small group of torches were spread out along the walls, bathing the corners of the room not touched by sunlight in a gentle light. A tall pillar occupied the centre of the room, with a trapdoor leading to the basement positioned in front of it.
“I think that will do for now,” Renado said softly, “The wolf will survive, I am sure of that.” After a short pause, he then instructed
Ludato go outside and tend to Ghost.
“Thank you,” Zelda said, relieved at the news, “You have no idea how much this wolf’s survival means to me.”
“I think I do,” the shaman said, folding his arms and watching his daughter leave. Once the door closed behind her, he asked in a quiet, steady voice, “So, how long has Link been able to change his shape like this?”
Apart from trapping Midna’s soul and absorbing part of it, Ganondorf’s day hadn’t been going very well, and he didn’t expect it to get any better. He especially didn’t expect it to get much better when the Twili that had interrupted him led him through the Palace of Twilight to the front courtyard, where several Bokoblins had brought one of the creatures they had discovered roaming the northern Hyrulian mountains. Their catch was chained up, and the group was being carefully watched over by a pack of three Moblins. In turn, the whole scene was being watched by smalls groups of curious Twili.
“It’s a unicorn,” Ganondorf said simply as he eyed the panicking creature.
“That’s it!” the Twili said, snapping its fingers, “That was it; a unicorn.”
But Ganondorf wasn’t listening. He had already marched towards the Bokoblins.
“All right, who’s in charge of this rabble?” he asked menacingly.
When the Bokoblins hesitated, one of them pushed one of his colleagues forwards.
“Uh… Me, sir,” the monster croaked reluctantly, “I think.”
The monster screamed gutturally as Ganondorf grabbed him by the throat.
“What is this?” the sorcerer asked.
“Err… It’s a unicorn, sir.”
“I know it’s a bloody unicorn!” Ganondorf roared, releasing his grip and letting the monster fall, “I mean, what is it doing here?”
“Um, well, sir, the thing is,” the Bokoblin stuttered, “We thought it might be useful to you.”
“Useful? How? In the stables here, there are herds of Aquamenti. They were bred from unicorns and dragons! If I wanted to use something that was horse-like and has a sharp horn, then I could very easily take my pick from those! What use is a unicorn to me?”
“Well, we just thought that you could, you know, get it to work for you.”
Ganondorf turned around to face the Twili that had led him to the unicorn. “Did you say something about a giant bird, earlier?” he asked.
“Yes, my Lord,” the Twili replied, “According to those things, it was chasing the unicorn.”
The sorcerer turned back towards the Bokoblin. “So, why not go for the giant bird, instead?”
“That thing was huge, sir!” the Bokoblin cried, “We could never have captured that!”
Ganondorf sighed and glanced over at the terrified unicorn. The chains rattled wildly as it tried to free itself.
“You,” he addressed one of the Moblins, “Assist these idiots in taking this creature down to the dungeons, or somewhere where it won’t bother anyone, least of all me.”
The Moblin obediently took a chain from one of the Bokoblins, and led the unicorn away. The remaining Bokoblins hurried to keep up with him. When they had disappeared through the palace doors, Ganondorf approached the Twili slave.
“As for you,” he gave the slave a sharp smack with the back of his hand, much like a parent chastising a wayward child, “If I demand privacy, then don’t interrupt me like that again, unless it’s good news about the Legendary Hero or the Princess of Light. Got that?”
“Yes, my Lord,” the Twili cowered as his master loomed over him.
“Good.” Satisfied that he had made an impression, Ganondorf left the Twili to himself, and began to march back to where the crystal containing Midna’s soul was kept safe. He was determined not to allow anything else to interrupt him in his plans.
Back at Kakariko, the inside of the Sanctuary suddenly began to feel darker as Zelda blinked at Renado disbelievingly. How does he know? She thought to herself.
“Well, uh,” she fumbled around in her head for an answer, “since Hyrule was covered in Twilight, as far as I know.”
Renado inclined his head in understanding.
“You’ll have to ask him for yourself, really,” Zelda added quickly, “When he’s awake, obviously. And human.”
After a short, uneasy silence, Zelda asked, “How did you know that was Link?”
“A number of clues, really,” the shaman replied, “I first noticed the birthmark underneath his fur on the back of his paw. From what I could see, it matches the shape and positioning as the one Link has on the back of his hand.
“Then it was the eyes. I opened them briefly to see if they looked well enough. They were human eyes. Blue ones. Then of course, I knew why you were so desperate for the wolf to live. You were about to blurt it out yourself, but you stopped yourself.”
“I know,” Zelda said, “Look, I’m sorry you had to find out like that. I don’t know exactly how many people know of Link’s ability, and I didn’t want to say anything that…”
Renado held up a hand to silence her. “It’s all right, Princess,” he said calmly, “I don’t blame you for saying anything.”
“Thank you.” Zelda smiled, nervously at first, but it soon became a smile of relief. She then added, “Doesn’t it bother you that Link can turn into a wolf?”
“Me? No. If anything, I find it quite reassuring. Wolves are strong, courageous, fiercely loyal creatures. I think that says a lot about the young man.”
Zelda nodded. “I think you’re right,” she said, stroking an elegant finger over the wolf’s fur.
Luda’s voice sounded from the doorway, catching both the princess and the shaman by surprise, “There’s a gentleman here to see you. He says he’s a friend of Link’s.”
Zelda stood up and walked off to greet the man awaiting her. “Rusl,” she recognised the Ordonian swordsman.
“Princess Zelda,” Rusl greeted her with a small bow, “An honour to meet you, as always.” His eyes then fell on the shaman standing behind the princess. “And you must be the great Renado,” he added.
“That I am. Although I’m sure the ‘great’ part is open to debate,” Renado replied modestly.
“Well, I think it’s a pretty good description. I can’t thank you enough to taking care of my son after he was kidnapped. I know it’s been a long time since then, but I still owe you a debt of gratitude.” After clearing his throat, the swordsman asked, “Is Link around? I have some important news to give him.”
Zelda and Renado exchanged glances. The princess knew that, despite being Link’s closest friend from Ordon, Rusl still had no idea of the hero’s power.
“No, he’s not around at the moment,” Zelda tried her best to sound convincing, “I think he went off exploring somewhere.”
“Without Epona?” Rusl asked, inclining his head towards something stood a little way away from the Sanctuary. Looking over at the shape, Zelda could see that it was, indeed, Epona.
“What’s she doing out here?” she wondered aloud, rushing to the mare’s side.
“The innkeeper said that Link had disappeared and not returned for her, so he left her in my care after I told him that I knew the lad.”
Zelda sighed. In all her worry, she had completely forgotten about her friend’s steed.
“I’m sorry,” she said to Rusl, “I’ll make sure Link gets her back when he returns.”
“So you don’t know where he could have gotten to?”
“No, I don’t, I’m afraid. But I can pass on your message, if you wish.”
“Well, it’s something I need to tell you as well, anyway. In private,” he added in a whisper, walking up to her side.
“What is it?” The princess could now see the concern in Rusl’s eyes.
“It’s that Twilight woman,” Rusl replied.
The swordsman nodded gravely. “She’s been attacked by Ganondorf over at
.” Lake Hylia
“From what we’ve managed to find out, she seems to be semi-conscious.”
“Can’t you check?”
“That dragon monster of hers won’t let anyone close enough to see.”
,” Zelda said softly, realising what Rusl was referring to, “That’s her dragon’s name,” she added quickly. Arden
“According to our, ahem, source,
will only let two people approach the woman – the Princess of Light and the Sacred Beast. Now, Shad believes the ‘Princess of Light’ could have been in reference to you, but we know nothing about this ‘Sacred Beast’. Do you know anything about it?” he asked offhandedly. Arden
“No,” Zelda lied. She wondered if her response had been too quick to sound convincing enough, but Rusl didn’t question her further.
“So, I suppose it’s better that we found you first, since it seems unlikely that Link would be able to help. Strange, that, but I just thought he ought to know about it nevertheless.”
“He should,” Zelda agreed.
“Will you tell him, then?”
Zelda thought hard. “I think it’s more important that I see to Midna first. I know what
’s like when he’s concerned about her,” she said. Arden
“I think some people at the lake have found out already.”
“I’d better go and see this for myself. Just hold on a moment.”
Renado had already gone back into the Sanctuary by the time the pair had finished talking, so the princess rushed inside and quickly explained the situation to him.
“I need to go and see our friend, before her dragon hurts anyone,” she said in a low voice, “When Link wakes up, can you tell him about her? And we’d better keep Epona here as well. I hope you don’t mind taking care of her for him.” Just as she was about to leave, she gave the shaman one last instruction. “Oh, and don’t let him out of your sight. Please. I can’t explain now, but it would make both his life and mine easier if you kept an eye on him.”
“I shall do all I can within my power, Princess,” Renado vowed, bowing deeply. From the opposite end of the room,
Ludapolitely followed suit, despite not having heard any part of the conversation.
“Thank you,” Zelda said gratefully as she hurried back outside.
As Rusl led her away, Zelda chanced one last look behind her. She knew she was breaking the promise she had made to her father, but right now, Midna needed her more.
Less than an hour after Zelda’s departure, Link’s eyelids fluttered open, greeting him with a blurred view of the Sanctuary’s walls. He tried to stand up, but the pain of his chest wound coursed through him.
“Careful,” a warm, friendly voice said, “Don’t try to move so quickly.”
The wolf turned his head towards the source of the voice, and saw
Ludakneeling down next to him. He then tried standing up again, moving much slower so as to ease the pain. Once he was on his feet, he carefully padded about the hut, sniffing the ground.
He immediately picked up the scent of Princess Zelda, which was still strong, but was disappointed to see that she was not present. He also found the scent of Renado, who also did not appear to be in the room, as well as the faint, lingering smell of Corvin that still lurked in the discarded and forgotten fur cloak on the floor. The arrow that had been used to shoot him lay on top of it. Link growled as the memories of his confrontation returned to him.
“Calm down, now,”
Ludasaid, her voice breaking with worry. She picked up a bowl of water and placed it down near the wolf, adding, “I thought you might be thirsty.”
Link should have been insulted at the idea of drinking from a bowl on the floor, but the girl was right in her assumption, and all human manners were soon forgotten as he lapped up the water greedily. He could tell the water had come from the Spirit Spring by its taste, and relished each drop that slid down his throat.
For a while, the only sound in the otherwise silent room was that of Link slurping his drink. Then, the door opened quietly, and Renado entered with his usual calm, modest authority.
“Right, that’s his horse cleaned. Poor thing was dusty,” he said to himself. “Oh, I see that he’s awake,” he observed, looking over at the wolf.
Link turned to look up at the shaman, and the pair’s eyes locked for a brief moment.
“I hope he hasn’t been giving you too much trouble,” Renado addressed his daughter.
“No, he’s been a good boy,” the young girl said.
“I told you he would.” The shaman knelt down in front of the wolf and began another check-up on him.
“Now, stay still, Link. This won’t take a minute,” he instructed.
At the sound of his name, Link froze and stared in fear at the man.
Renado merely chuckled at his patient’s reaction. “Oh, the power of a name,” he said amiably as he examined the wolf, “Yes, I know it’s you. Don’t look so worried. Quite frankly, I don’t know what you’re frightened of. You could break my jaw with your own bite if you wanted to, so if anything, I’m the one who should be worried.
“That’s looking a little better,” he added, holding some of Link’s fur back in order to see the chest wound, “You were lucky, my boy.”
Once the examination was over, Link refused to move, but instead glared suspiciously at Renado.
“Why do you keep calling the wolf Link? The Princess called him that, too,”
Ludaasked, confused, “Are you saying this is Link as in the guy who saved Hyrule from the Twilight? How can that be?”
“There is no knowing the full power of those blessed by the goddesses,” Renado replied simply. Turning his attention back to the wolf, he said, “Listen, while you were asleep, something important cropped up and Zelda had to go.”
Link’s ears pricked up curiously as he snapped to attention.
“Apparently, a friend of yours, and hers, has been attacked by the warlock Ganondorf,” the shaman went on to say, “She’s reportedly still alive, but only just. Zelda has gone to see to her. It seems that this friend of yours owns a dragon who won’t let just anyone close to her.”
Link made a small growl in understanding, and started to bolt for the door. He briefly yelped in pain as he aggravated the chest wound, but he ran on nevertheless.
“The Princess also gave me specific instructions to keep an eye on you,” Renado continued to say to him, “Besides, I don’t think you’re in any condition to go out just now.”
Ludagasped in amazement as he finished speaking. Renado then turned around to see that Link had resumed his human form, and was now clutching his chest with his left arm.
“Like I said, you’re in no shape to leave right now. I know you’re worried about your friend, but you need to rest.”
Link slowly fell to the floor and craned his neck down, trying to inspect his wound. His tunic and undershirt both bore small holes which framed the mark, while his chainmail shirt still appeared to be somewhat intact. With most of the blood now gone, the wound looked quite small and insignificant. But in reality, it hurt where the arrow had pierced his flesh.
“How did you know it was me?” he asked, his voice low, but still audible.
Renado smiled. “I was wondering how long it would take you to ask me that,” he replied, “If you’re wondering if the Princess revealed your secret to me, then let me put your mind at ease. She didn’t. I worked it out myself. In all honesty, it was the birthmark that gave it away, although I very nearly didn’t find it under that fur at first.”
Link grinned and laughed amiably. “If that’s the case, then you’re better than most.”
He approached the arrow on the floor, picked it up, and inspected it carefully. After much observation, he noticed that the plumes that adorned its end were clipped Helmaroc feathers. Well, he thought to himself, what else would Corvin use?
While Renado and
Ludacontinued with their daily tasks, Link remained seated, his mind lost in thoughts of Zelda, Midna, and even the graceful unicorn that he had failed to protect.
“I don’t believe this. I’m dying, I have no unicorn, I waste some of my arrows on some stupid dog, and I was scolded and threatened by a woman! I can’t see how things could get any worse!”
Corvin had not taken the discovery that his Helmaroc had failed to catch the unicorn very well. Glenister was feeling embarrassed at having been outwitted by a pack of lowly Bokoblins, and hearing his master’s rants was doing nothing for his own mood.
“Do you really understand just how important that creature is to me?” the huntsman asked his faithful Helmaroc, “Its alicorn is my only chance of survival. Without it, I might as well be dead already!”
Glenister squawked plaintively in response.
“We spend days tracking down that unicorn, then we finally manage to separate it from its herd and chase it all the way here, and then you go and lose it! I knew I should’ve gone with you that time!”
Glenister glared at him. If he could speak his master’s language, he would’ve given him an earful there and then.
Corvin was about to speak again, but a sharp pain shooting from his arm into his body diverted his attention.
“It’s getting worse,” he muttered to himself, “You stay here,” he ordered the Helmaroc, “I won’t be long. If you see that unicorn running around here, you get it, understand? It’ll have to come this way to get to its home, so don’t miss it.”
The giant eagle remained on its perch while the huntsman walked back in the direction of
. Kakariko Village
In the warmth of the Sanctuary, Link quickly tired of resting and begged Renado’s permission to at least go outside and tend to Epona. The shaman gave the young hero a piercing gaze before eventually allowing him to go.
Epona noticed her master clutching at his chest as he approached her, and nuzzled him gently.
“Thanks, girl,” Link whispered to her gratefully. He smiled and chuckled quietly before adding, “You’ll love this, Epona. Turns out I’ve just had my first experience as a hunter’s prey. How about that, then?” He held up the arrow and observed it again.
“OK, it’s not very funny, I know,” he continued, “But it was strange, I’ll say that.” His face fell as he finally admitted to his steed that he had lost the unicorn that he was supposed to be protecting.
“You don’t care, do you?” he mused as Epona turned her head away in disinterest, “No, I guess you don’t. Not after I abandoned you just like that. I’m sorry, girl.”
As he raised an arm to pat Epona, his chest hurt again.
“Mind you,” he said, “Zelda’s just upped and abandoned me, even though she promised her father she wouldn’t. Then again, she does have her reasons. I hear Midna’s been attacked.”
Epona nickered and nuzzled the hero again.
“Some hero I’m turning out to be,” Link muttered bitterly, “I fail to protect a terrified unicorn from her attackers, I get shot, and I’m apparently in no condition to go running about after Midna.”
He looked up at the kindly face of his mare, and couldn’t help but smile. Sure, she could be short with him if he did anything that she, in her equine wisdom, considered stupid, but she would always be there for him if ever he needed her.
The peaceful silence was shattered as both horse and master’s attention was quickly diverted to the voice of Corvin a little way away from them.
“Argh! Stupid bird! If he had just gotten that unicorn for me, I’d be out of here by now!”
The huntsman was looking ragged as he marched in the direction of the Spirit Spring that was situated at the entrance to a cave near the Sanctuary.
Link’s heart leapt at he listened in on the man’s ranting. So the Helmaroc didn’t catch Grace after all, he thought, mentally cheering.
He continued to watch as Corvin started drinking the water with ferocious movements. Link quickly glanced around him before deciding his next move. The Helmaroc was clearly not around, while the only people outside didn’t seem to be paying any heed to the hunter.
This is it, Link thought, chest wound or no chest wound, I’m going to settle this once and for all. It’s the least I can do right now.
He advanced towards his foe confidently and stood over his crouched form. The huntsman was quick to notice the sudden shadow over him and glared up at Link’s face.
“Well, well,” he said in much the same manner he had when he had encountered Link’s lupine self, “If it isn’t the so-called hero. So, what do you want?”
“Just your swift end,” Link growled threateningly.
Corvin stood up to stare at the hero face to face. “And why would you want to do that all of a sudden?” he asked suspiciously.
“I know what you’re up to,” the hero replied, “You’re trying to hunt down that unicorn. The one that Zelda and I found.”
“Clever boy,” Corvin said, “I guess you’re smarter than I gave you credit for. But you want to kill me? That’s a good one! A little runt like you couldn’t hurt a fly! Even your princess has more capacity to kill me than you do! She sure surprised me when she turned her sword on me for shooting some…”
Corvin’s gaze slowly lowered towards Link’s hand. The young warrior followed it and realised that he still grasped the Helmaroc-plumed arrow, its point still red with dried blood.
“Where did you get that?” Corvin asked, his eyes staring straight into Link’s own blue irises.
“Oh, this? I er… Ow!” As he quickly raised his right arm up to scratch behind his ear, Link’s chest ached, and he immediately held his arm over it instead.
“Are you all right?” Corvin asked in mock concern.
“Me? I’m fine. Couldn’t be better. Ooh!”
“Only it looks like you’ve taken a nasty blow to the chest. Here, let me take a look at that for you.”
Link tried to protest, but Corvin held his arms back and inspected the wound. He snatched the arrow from the hero and carefully studied it alongside the mark.
“But this is exactly the same place where I shot the…” The huntsman grinned wickedly as the pieces fell into place. “Well, well,” he said once again, “It turns out I really was wrong about you earlier. You’re not a rabbit at all. You’re a wolf! You were the one I saw right after the unicorn ran off. You were the one I shot. Ha! No wonder the woman was so mad about that!”
Despite his aching chest, Link struggled free from his captor. He then drew out his sword and aimed its blade at Corvin’s throat.
“Go on, then, wolf,” the huntsman sneered, “Kill me.”
Link hesitated, his heart thumping against his ribs. He had never taken a human life before, except for Ganondorf, but he never considered the sorcerer truly human, anyway.
Corvin smirked. “I knew it. You act all big and tough around people, but when it comes right down to it, you’re not the big hero you claim to be! I guess you really are a rabbit, after all.”
At those words, a feral rage began to boil inside Link. The next thing he knew, he lunged at Corvin, his sword primed for the kill, and any pains from his chest were duly ignored. However, Corvin appeared to anticipate this sudden attack and deftly grabbed hold of Link’s arms. The retaliation made Link’s wound ache some more, and in his one moment of weakness, his left wrist was twisted enough to force him to drop his sword.
“I must say, I expected better from the so-called hero of this land,” Corvin sneered, “You’ve suffered a mere chest wound, and find yourself at my mercy. Meanwhile, I’m dying, and I’ve managed to overpower you.” He tutted, much like a disappointed teacher. “That doesn’t look very good on your part, does it now?”
“Dying?” Link snorted, “I find that hard to believe. You’re pretty active for a dying man.”
“True. I suppose this magic water of yours,” Corvin inclined his head towards the Spirit Spring, “has done me a whole world of good. But it won’t last. Nothing ever will, until I find the right cure. I was poisoned back home. By a deadly serpent. It bit straight into my arm and infected me with its slow-acting venom. Many remedies can keep the poison at bay, but the only known cure for it is the alicorn.”
“A unicorn’s horn,” Link said in understanding.
“If I could make a cup out the horn and drink from it, I could be cured of this poison. And I was almost there. But you and that princess of yours had to get involved, didn’t you? You had to interfere, and now I’m back where I started!”
“Why don’t you just give up now, then?” Link spat at him, “Nothing lives forever!”
“After all this time? After I’ve managed to track down a unicorn?”
“But you’ve lost it. It’s most likely on the way back to its herd now. Face it, you’re as good as dead, now.”
With a grunt of fury, Corvin tried to throw Link to the floor, but the hero fought through his injuries and pushed back against the huntsman, successfully overpowering him. The huntsman staggered in pain and surprise as he tried to stand up. Link used this time to hurriedly retrieve his sword before standing over his opponent, this time aiming the point of the blade at his chest.
Gritting his teeth, Link grasped the hilt with both hands and aimed straight downwards, towards Corvin’s torso. Sweat was pouring down his face and body now, and his mind suddenly raced with memories of the previous night.
He remembered wandering the town outside
as a wolf, and discovering a man lying dead in one of the darkened alleyways. He assumed from the mixed up scents of alcohol and various people that it may have been the result of a bar room brawl that had turned nasty, but as soon as a curious passer-by caught sight of it, all the blame was pinned on him. Hyrule Castle
He remembered ducking into the underground passageways near Telma’s bar to hide from the resulting furore. By the time he had re-emerged in human form, the news of the ‘wolf attack’ had reached King Taranis via the castle guards. He had been thankful that the King had worked out the truth behind the story, even if he had been angered by the discussion that followed.
And now here he was, about to kill someone for real, not as a wolf, but as a human. This wasn’t just some minion of darkness; this was a warrior, like him, who had fallen foul of a powerful opponent and was now fighting to survive. But then, this man had also tried to kill him in cold blood. Of course, he hadn’t known of the wolf’s true identity then, but by then, Link didn’t care.
As he raised the blade in preparation for the strike, his gaze drifted to his side, where a small crowd had gathered near the spring, all eyes turned on him. Among them, he could see Renado and
Luda, along with various soldiers he recognised from the Hyrulian Guard.
Taking a few deep breaths, he slowly lowered his sword, eventually letting his sword arm limp at his side.
Corvin sneered at him. “I knew you weren’t up to it, w- Ooh!”
Link had deftly cut him short with a well-placed step on the huntsman’s lower half as he walked away from the spring.
“Oi! You’re not getting away from me that easily!” Corvin shouted, standing up and chasing after the hero with as much dignity that he could muster.
Link gritted his teeth and tried to ignore him.
“What’s the matter? Are you afraid to kill me? A few minutes ago, you claimed you wanted my swift end!”
Link reached Epona, stopped, and turned back to face the hunter. “I don’t need to kill you,” he snarled, “You lost your only chance of survival. You don’t need anyone else’s help to die.”
He took hold of his mare’s reins and led her past the spring towards Hyrule’s southern province. He could see the worry in Epona’s eyes as she looked sideways between her master and the hunter taunting him. Link didn’t need to be a wolf to understand her nervous whinnying.
“I’m sorry, girl,” he said quietly as he turned towards a cave beyond the edge of the village. As he had expected, Corvin followed him through, still riling the hero up.
Out of the initial crowd that had developed, only Renado dared to follow the hero this far.
For a while, all that could be heard was Corvin’s taunting. Then, his words ended with an abrupt cry, followed by a startled neigh. The following silent seconds felt like minutes until Epona burst out of the cave with Link seated in her saddle.
When the shaman inspected the inside of the cave, all he saw was Corvin’s body lying dead on the ground, covered in blood and tooth marks. He said nothing as he solemnly watched the retreating shadow disappear from view.
“Is she all right?”
“As far as I can tell, but I’m not sure. It feels like there’s something missing, but I don’t know what.”
Zelda sat helplessly by Midna’s side as she studied the sleeping form. Opposite her, King Taranis gazed down, his brow furrowed into a stern frown. As soon as Zelda had arrived at
Lake Hylia, had let her examine the Twilight Princess. Wanting to move her somewhere private and more comfortable, Zelda had the Aquamentus take the body back to the castle. Arden
When she had returned without Link, she faced the wrath of her father, as she expected. She had managed to get a guard to take Midna up to her bedroom before answering him.
“Link’s at Kakariko right now and he’s not going anywhere else soon!” Zelda had shouted at her father when he pressed her for answers.
“How can you be sure of that?” the King had responded.
“Because he’s been hurt, too, Dad!” the Princess lowered her voice as she spoke, both to calm herself down and so that she wouldn’t be overheard, “Renado’s looking after him.”
Zelda had said nothing in response, and simply gone up to her room to see to Midna. Although Taranis had followed her, and shown genuine concern for the Twili, it was clear in his expression that he was not going to let the subject of Link drop.
“When you say he was hurt, how do you mean?” he asked her in a low tone after a while.
“He was near death!” the princess replied sharply, “He’s fine now, but for a while, I didn’t think he was going to make it.”
Taranis gave his daughter a long, hard stare.
“He was shot,” Zelda said after a long pause, “by a hunter.”
“A hunter?” It took a moment for the King to realise what had happened. “So when he was shot, he was a…”
“A wolf, yes,” Zelda confirmed, “Look, Dad, I can explain.” And she proceeded to tell her father about the unicorn and Corvin, and how she and Link were trying to protect the unicorn.
The King sighed before speaking. “You say the shaman of Kakariko is looking after Link. Does he know who the wolf is?”
Zelda nodded. “He doesn’t seem bothered about it, either. And I think he knows to keep it a secret.”
“I’ve said it once already, but it bears repeating; if he keeps up like this, Link’s going to get found out soon,” Taranis said wisely.
“I know,” Zelda said.
“And you encouraging this behaviour doesn’t help, either.”
“In this case, I thought it was for the best,” Zelda pleaded.
Eventually, Taranis decided to drop the subject as he looked back down at Midna.
“As disappointed as I am with Link, the more pressing concern now is madam here,” he said.
“I don’t know what could’ve happened to her,” Zelda said, “She doesn’t seem to talk much, and when she does... Well, I don’t know if she can’t remember or is too embarrassed to say what happened.”
“She has her pride.”
Zelda had tried using the Triforce of Wisdom that she held to see if her friend had been cursed at all. Although there were signs that she had been attacked with dark magic, the leftover energy had now dwindled to almost nothing. It had been recognisable as the magic wielded by Ganondorf, but what he had done to her was a mystery.
The only witness to the attack was
, but Plumm had already relayed to Rusl what the Aquamentus said he saw back at the lake. Zelda wondered if Link could glean any more information from Arden . It would be very difficult to pull off, as the two weren’t exactly on speaking terms with each other. However, according to Plumm’s information, he trusted the Sacred Beast, so he must hold the hero in some regard. She began to wonder if she should’ve told the swordsman the truth, but reasoned that that sort of decision was best left for Link.. Arden
“If Link were here, he might know what to do,” she said to herself.
“That can easily be arranged,” Taranis announced, turning to leave.
“Where are you going?” Zelda asked.
“To fetch Link,” the King replied, “I’d send someone else out to find him, but I don’t think they’d really know what to look for.”
Before Zelda could protest, Taranis had marched out to prepare for the journey.
Ganondorf had thought that out of all the beasts in the world he could trust his minions to look after, a unicorn would be one of the easiest. Especially a unicorn that was so frightened that it would do anything to remain alive. However, once he was halfway through the process of absorbing the rest of Midna’s soul, a panicking Bokoblin dashed into the room to inform him of the unicorn’s escape.
“And how exactly did this thing escape?” the sorcerer asked disbelievingly.
“Well, it was all going well,” the monster explained, “We had it under our control and everything, until…”
Ganondorf bared his teeth as he glowered at the Bokoblin. “Until what?”
“Until all of a sudden, we felt scared.”
“Scared? Of what?”
“We don’t know. Something just happened, and we just froze in fear. Once we stopped… being scared, we found that the unicorn had gone.”
“Is it still chained up?”
“Then it shouldn’t be too hard to catch again, should it?”
“But it’s fast, sir.”
“Then sneak up in front of it!”
“Have you seen that horn, sir?”
“Yes, I have, and if you don’t catch that unicorn soon, then your head will impaled on a spike that will look incredibly similar to it!” Ganondorf bellowed as he lifted the minion off the ground by the head.
Just then, the pair were suddenly distracted by the sound of galloping hooves and rattling chains.
“That’s it! That’s it coming over there!” the Bokoblin squealed in a croaky voice.
Grace skidded to a halt as she saw the sorcerer up ahead. From behind her, a mob of Bokoblins were chasing after her, along with the Moblin that Ganondorf had sent with them.
“There, you’ve got her, now,” Ganondorf growled at the Bokoblin as he dropped it to the floor.
“Er… right,” the Bokoblin croaked, “OK, gang. Let’s get her!”
Grace started galloping again, and in her hurry to escape, she ran straight towards Ganondorf, who grabbed her forcibly by the horn with his one free hand.
“Just be a good horse and let these minions of mine take you to the dungeons,” he said mockingly to her.
Grace tried to shake her head free, but the sorcerer held on firmly. As the Bokoblins grabbed hold of the chains, Grace bucked and kicked at them wildly. In the ensuing struggle, she managed to catch Ganondorf off-guard and wrest herself free from his grip. As the dark lord staggered back in surprise, he dropped the crystal onto the floor by Grace’s hooves.
Before he could duck down to retrieve it, however, the unicorn had accidentally stepped on it, cracking it open with her strong, hard hooves. The whole rabble stood, transfixed, as what remained of Midna’s soul billowed out.
Ganondorf reached out and tried to channel the rest of it into his own body, but to no avail. Panicked by the purple mass, Grace tried to bat it away with her horn, but she ended up scooping it up instead. Soon, the piece of soul that was left vanished through the horn, and into the unicorn’s body. Although she had not absorbed it in the same way that Ganondorf had, the soul remained firmly, and harmlessly, placed inside her.
“You give that back to me, now!” Ganondorf roared, a ball of dark magic forming in his hand.
With one last neigh of fear, Grace reared up and dashed away as fast as she could. She didn’t know where she was going or what had just happened. All she knew was that she wanted to get out of here by any means possible.
By now, Ganondorf was giving chase as fast as he could, calling in his Shadow Beings as reinforcements.
“I don’t care what happens to the unicorn!” he bellowed loudly at one such creature, “You can kill it for all I care! Just as long as you fetch me that piece of Midna’s soul that it carries!”
Grunting obediently in its strange language, the Shadow Being scuttled after the unicorn, and after a long chase, managed to grab her by the hind legs and trip her over. Grace had been tiring out from all the running she had been doing since arriving in Hyrule, and she now lacked the energy to kick back as effectively.
“Thank you,” an unfamiliar voice said from behind the Shadow Being, “Give the creature to us. We can take her back to the King.”
Once the Shadow Being reluctantly disappeared, two Twili took hold of Grace’s chains and led her away down a darkened corridor.
It wasn’t easy trying to move a unicorn stealthily but, after many close calls, the Twili finally led Grace into an inconspicuous room where a gathering of Twili surrounded a lone Shadow Being. Each one held a weapon that they had stolen from the Moblins and Bokoblins, which they used to threaten the disfigured monster.
At first, the unicorn tried to bolt, but then she sensed their emotions with her own powers. Unlike everything else she had encountered in the Twilight Realm, these creatures weren’t thinking of hurting her. They were desperate to help her, so much so that the mass of strong emotions hit her mind like a brick wall.
“That’s the one,” the Twili that had originally shown her to Ganondorf said, “That’s the unicorn.”
“And you’re sure that it carries a piece of our true ruler’s soul?” another said.
“That’s what we heard him saying to all those monsters,” a third added, “I’m surprised you didn’t hear. I would have thought the whole Twilight heard him.”
“But how can we make sure that she actually gets to Princess Midna?” yet another voice asked, “We can’t go out into the Light like she can.”
“I have ordered the Shadow Monster to make the portal lead to the Castle of the Light World,” one important-looking Twili announced, “But without going into the Light ourselves, this is the best we can hope for.”
Everyone gave each other nervous looks. Eventually, they bullied the Shadow Being into creating the portal for them. Grace pawed the ground with fright until the friendly-looking creatures urged her through. After all, she wanted to get out of this place, and right now, this was her best bet.
The Twili watched intently as the unicorn vanished through the portal. Once the vortex closed, however, the Shadow Being immediately began swatting at the slaves closest to it. The others valiantly fought back, but the monster forced its way through the crowd and dashed out of the room, screaming and shouting as loud as it could in its own, unusual language, even as the Twili swarmed upon it.
The cries of the Shadow Being echoed across the palace. Those that heard its message were quick to pass it on before vanishing through portals of their own.
As he rode out across the southern fields, Link tried to calm himself down. Ever since he had first managed to control his power, he had sworn never to take a human life as a wolf. As he wiped his mouth with his sleeve, he hoped that the confrontation with Corvin had all been a bad dream. However, he could still taste the hunter’s blood in his mouth, which proved the reality enough for him.
“There’s no going back now, Epona,” he said gravely to his steed. He rubbed his chest, which burned with pain.
But he had no time to dwell on his deeds or his injuries. Looking north towards the castle, Link stared in horror as a series of Twilight portals opened up above the town.
What’s Ganondorf up to now? The hero didn’t need to think twice before all previous events were forgotten, and he rode towards the castle as fast as Epona could carry him.
King Taranis cursed his luck as he surveyed the chaos that was forming outside the castle gates. Crowds of people were screaming and panicking as Shadow Beings roamed the streets. There was no way he could go and search for Link now that his front doorstep was being attacked like this.
He ordered his reluctant armies to fight back against the monsters and get the townspeople to safety. For the most part, it seemed as though the Shadow Beings were distracted with something else, so the job was relatively simple. Then, a great shadow blocked out the sky above the town.
One by one, everyone in the town looked up to see the giant eagle soaring above them.
“What is that?” Taranis asked as he eyed the Helmaroc.
“Looks like a giant eagle, Your Majesty,” one of his knights replied.
The king gave him a disapproving stare.
“What’s going on, Dad?” Zelda asked, dashing up to her father. Before Taranis could say another word, the princess glanced up at the Helmaroc, gasped, and then levelled her gaze to the ground.
“What are you looking for?” Taranis asked.
“If that bird is here, then that must mean the unicorn’s here as well,” Zelda replied hurriedly, “I don’t know what all this has to do with the Shadow Beings, though.”
Before her father could stop her, Zelda ran into the crowds, desperately searching for the unicorn.
Link, too, had noticed Glenister’s arrival as he neared
. Hyrule Castle
“So this must have something to do with Grace,” he muttered to himself, “Too bad that bird-brain doesn’t realise it has no reason to find her now.”
He considered shouting out at the Helmaroc as he neared the town, but the bird seemed to be doing very little at the moment, so he held his tongue.
Not that it can really reach down there, anyway, he thought, not unless Grace wanders out into the open, anyway.
When he reached the castle town at last, Link found that there was very little room for Epona to move. The mare found it difficult to navigate the streets and crowds at a gallop anyway, but now the place was worse than ever.
“Try and find the unicorn if you can,” the hero whispered to his steed before leaping off and landing awkwardly on top of a Shadow Being. He didn’t stop to question what was going on, and instead just fought it off, pausing only to clutch his burning chest wound.
The soldiers were grateful for Link’s arrival and aided him in the battle against the monsters as well as they could. However, Link was constantly distracted in his search for Grace.
A loud whinny grabbed everyone’s attention, and the nearby crowds collectively turned their heads to see a white shape fleeing from a dark monster.
“Hang on!” Link called out to the unicorn. Unfortunately, he quickly lost track of her as he ran into the crowds. Praying hard to the goddesses, he ducked unnoticed into one crowd, which immediately dispersed when someone pointed out the wolf that had somehow appeared in the middle of it.
Link knew it was a stupid thing for him to do, but he was at least thankful that he could now run faster and sniff the unicorn down. As he darted out into the open square at the centre of town, Glenister screeched eagerly from above, and landed hard in front of him, his feet bathed in the fountain’s waters.
“Now I’ve found you, wolf,” he said triumphantly to the hero, “I know you’re the one behind all these monsters and portal things. Now tell me, where is the unicorn?”
“Oh get lost, Glenister!” Link shouted back impatiently, “You have nothing against the unicorn now! Your master’s dead! You’re a free bird!”
Link nimbly dodged the Helmaroc’s pecking beak as he tried to track down Grace amid the confusion. He caught the interest of most of the soldiers he passed, but he knew that if he didn’t bother them, they wouldn’t bother him.
The Shadow Beings, however, bothered him regardless, and he found himself panting quickly as he ducked, weaved, and ploughed through them. One such attempt to avoid a Shadow Being caused him to run into Rusl, who was fighting off the monsters along with Ashei.
Almost immediately, the wolf made eye contact with the swordsman, and Link panted heavily as he wondered what his friend would do. He could see a glimmer of recognition in Rusl’s expression, but it wasn’t the kind of recognition he was expecting.
“You…” the swordsman said in a threatening tone.
“What is it?” Ashei asked curiously.
“That wolf! It’s the one who attacked us in Ordon when the children were kidnapped! It’s in league in those things,” Rusl replied, glaring at the beast.
Link didn’t stay to hear the rest of the conversation as he ran past his friends in desperation. Once he lost them, he could hear not just Grace, but Epona’s voice calling out for help. Following the sounds, the hero found them behind a large building, surrounded by Shadow Monsters.
Running on the same adrenaline he felt when he killed Corvin, Link ripped apart one Shadow Being before turning his focus on the rest. Some of them were fortunate enough to escape, but the others found themselves facing a swift death.
“Are you OK?” Epona asked as Link laid down on the floor, covered in scratches and panting.
“I’ll live,” he replied simply, “What’s the matter with her?” he added, pointing his snout towards the unicorn, who was trying to shake her chains off.
“I don’t know, she won’t talk to me.” Epona snorted irritably as she spoke.
“Then I’ll talk to her. Grace? Are you all right?”
“No,” the unicorn wailed between panicked breaths, “I don’t know what’s going on!”
“Ssh, be quiet,” Link said, glancing around his surroundings, “Tell me what happened. Quickly.”
“Well,” Grace sobbed, “First I was captured and taken to this horrible place, where some dark sorcerer wanted to lock me up. I tried to escape and broke something important.”
“You broke something?”
“And then this purple stuff flew into me, and now because of that, the sorcerer’s got these monsters after me.”
Link nodded in understanding. “What was this purple stuff?” he asked off-handedly.
“I don’t know. Some funny little creatures said something about it being part of someone’s soul, I don’t know whose. Midder’s or something.”
Link and Epona exchanged glances.
“Midna,” the wolf said.
“Rusl said she was attacked by Ganondorf earlier today,” Epona explained, “I suppose he must have taken her soul. But if she,” the mare inclined her head towards the unicorn, “only has part of it, where’s the rest?”
“I don’t want to think about it,” Link said despondently, “The important thing is that we get this part of her soul back to Midna.”
“And how are we going to do that?” Epona asked sardonically.
“I don’t know. I’d say we make a run for it, but we have no idea where Midna is.”
At that moment, Link and Epona’s ears pricked up as they heard a familiar voice scream, followed by a small flash of light. Just then, Princess Zelda backed into the trio and screamed again as Link yelped to get her attention.
“Oh, it’s you,” the princess sighed with relief, “What are you doing here?”
“What do you think?” Link asked in response after resuming human form.
“You’re supposed to be resting!” Zelda eyed her friend’s latest bruises and scratches as she spoke.
“Never mind that. How’s Midna?”
“You got my message then? I don’t know what Ganondorf did to her, but she…”
“He stole her soul,” Link interrupted her.
“According to her,” Link inclined his head towards Grace in a similar manner to Epona, “Ganondorf took Midna’s soul. I don’t know what he plans to do with it, but apparently part of it is residing within the unicorn.”
“But how did…?”
She was interrupted again, this time by a cry from a Shadow Kargarok above them.
“There’s no time to explain!” Link exclaimed, “Where is Midna now?”
“In the castle.”
“Do you know anything about removing souls?”
“I don’t know… Maybe if I looked it up or used my Triforce or something.”
“Good enough! Right,” Link said decisively, “you take the unicorn to the castle. Don’t stop until you get there. Epona and I will help deal with the Shadow Beings.”
A loud squawk filled the air.
“And the Helmaroc,” he added.
“Link, is that blood on your teeth?” Zelda asked suddenly.
Link didn’t answer, and instead hurried her onto the unicorn’s back before sending them both on their way.
“Come on, girl,” he said to his steed as he mounted, “Let’s go.”
With a roaring battle cry, he charged through the streets, sword aloft and ready for the fight. The magical power of the Master Sword allowed him to dispose of the Shadow Beings easily, but he knew that Glenister wasn’t going to give up so quickly.
Sure enough, the bird was still hovering above the town, watching the ground carefully. Link feared that it may spot Grace and Zelda escaping, so he grabbed a lance from one of the Hyrulian soldiers and threw it at the Helmaroc in order to distract it.
“Hey!” he called out to the bird, “I told you already, Corvin is dead! I killed him myself! The unicorn is useless to you!”
Glenister perched precariously on top of a nearby building and watched the hero curiously.
“Don’t make me come up there!” Link shouted threateningly, holding his sword up. The last thing he saw after that was the Helmaroc’s head rushing towards him.
“Don’t worry. This won’t hurt,” Zelda said reassuringly as she patted the unicorn’s neck. She raised her right hand, and tried to focus the energy in her Triforce piece. She looked deep beyond the unicorn’s physical form, and found something in there that didn’t belong in her body.
Reaching out, Zelda managed to draw out the piece of Twili soul that Grace held, and with her last ounce of strength, sent it hurtling towards its rightful owner.
Midna gasped as she woke up fully. The burst of life from her soul startled her.
“Zelda?” she asked, looking over at the exhausted princess.
“Midna?” Zelda replied as she gasped for breath, “Oh, thank the goddesses you’re still alive.”
“I guess it takes more than a maniacal sorcerer to get rid of me,” the Twilight Princess said uncertainly. Although she felt better, parts of her still felt empty.
Zelda smiled and tried to stand up.
“I won’t be long,” she said, “I’ve just got to see how things are outside. If things have calmed down, then I’ll need to arrange for this unicorn to return where she came from.”
“What?” Midna stared at Grace incredulously.
“Don’t worry about it,” Zelda said, “It’s over now. You just focus on getting better.”
“Me focus on getting better?” the Twilight Princess queried, “You’re the one who looks like you’re taking your last breaths!”
But Zelda ignored her and led Grace away into the corridor. It was here that she saw Rusl and a soldier carrying a scarred and unconscious Link through the castle.
“What’s going on?” she asked them.
“He was attacked by that bloody great bird out there!” the soldier replied when Rusl hesitated to answer, “He shouted some things at it and it attacked him.”
“If we hadn’t turned up when we did and fought it off, he would’ve been pecked to death,” Rusl added eventually.
“So he’ll live, then?”
“He’d better do!”
“Does Dad know about this?”
“He was the one who let us in here,” Rusl explained, “It’s all right, I can carry him from here,” he added to the soldier.
“Have things quietened down out there?” Zelda asked.
The guard nodded.
“Then you can take this unicorn outside into the stables for me. And see if you get those chains removed while you’re at it. Once I’m sure Link is going to be all right, I’ll try and take her back to where she came from.” The princess gave Grace an encouraging look as she urged her to go with the guard.
“The bird flew off after we overwhelmed it with arrows and lances,” Rusl told Zelda as he carried Link, “With the shadow monsters retreating ever since Link showed up like that, it’s calmed down quickly.” The swordsman looked as though he was about say something else, but he stopped himself.
Zelda accompanied him to Link’s room, where he gently placed the hero on his bed.
“He’ll live,” he said warmly, noting the princess’s worried expression, “How’s that friend of yours? The one who was attacked by Ganondorf?”
“She’s fine. She’s woken up now,” Zelda replied, “Typical. One recovers and another puts himself at near-death.”
“I told you, he’ll live.”
After a short silence, the princess said, “I’ll go and see to the unicorn. I’m sure she’s anxious to get out of here. You’re Link’s friend. I’m sure he’ll appreciate you sticking by him until he wakes up.”
Rusl nodded in acknowledgement and dutifully stayed with Link while Zelda left.
That evening, during sunset, Princess Zelda, proudly riding Ghost, looked over at the eastern forests, then turned to face the unicorn standing next to her.
“This is it, it’s over now,” she said, “That hunter and his bird won’t be back to bother you anymore, we’ll make sure of that. You’re safe. You can go now.”
Grace glanced nervously upwards, still half-expecting Corvin or Glenister to show up.
“Go, horned child,” Ghost said gently, “This kingdom is being attacked by dark forces on a regular basis. You will be safer back in your homeland.”
“What about the wolf knight?” Grace asked timidly.
“He is currently indisposed, but he sends his regards nevertheless. Now go.”
Grace backed up a little, reared up on her hind legs, and then ran off into the horizon.
“I still can’t believe it,” Zelda said to her steed, smiling, “A unicorn in Hyrule! It’s amazing that even in these dark days, we can still find something so beautiful and pure roaming the land.”
Ghost snorted in response. Once the unicorn became a faint white speck in the distance, Zelda pulled lightly on the reins and rode back to the castle.
“I don’t see what’s so important about this wolf, anyway.” Telma cleaned a beer glass as she spoke.
With normal life in the town swiftly resumed, and Link on the road to recovery, the Resistance had gathered at Telma’s bar that night to mend their own wounds and discuss what had happened.
Rusl sighed as he tried to explain the situation yet again. “Back when Colin was kidnapped by monsters, this wolf was spotted prowling around Ordon. A big wolf with greenish-brown markings and a chain on its left paw. It terrorised the villagers and stole some of our weapons.
“Since then, it had been seen lurking around various parts of Hyrule during the reign of Twilight. I even saw it sniffing about when I went to Faron Woods to search for the Sacred Grove.”
“I think I might have seen it at Snowpeak,” Ashei mused, “But there are a lot of wolves there, so I didn’t take much notice of it.”
“Right. And now that darkness is again trying to invade Hyrule, the wolf has returned. Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t that thing been found recently? Didn’t it kill someone last night?”
Telma, Ashei, and Auru nodded their heads grimly. Only Shad, who had his head buried in a big book and was muttering to himself, didn’t seem to react. He didn’t seem to be paying attention to the conversation at all, not that anyone else noticed.
“Then you must know that if the wolf has returned, then it’s a bad omen,” Rusl announced, clenching his fist determinedly, “And I, for one, will not rest until that beast has been destroyed once and for all!”
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