The sun was setting over the horizon, treating the world to the last few rays of its warm, orange glow. Seen from the Spirit Spring of Ordona, this was less of a routine event and more of a spectacle. Ilia knew this for sure; she had lost count of the number of times she and her friend, Link, had sat there together and watched the sun disappear into the night. Even now, the display had not lost any of its magic.
She looked over at Link, who was sitting in silence, and offered him a pleasant smile. He smiled back, but it didn’t contain much of the warmth it had once had. Ilia could see that his mind was on other things, but she didn’t say anything.
The two continued to sit in an unsettling silence as the dark blue shade of night crept over the heavens. Glancing back at Link, Ilia could see that his breathing had become heavy and he was flexing his fingers discreetly.
“Um, Link…?” she said in an uncertain voice.
The boy turned to face her, his expression stern. Ilia could feel his wild, blue eyes staring straight into her soul.
“If it’s all right with you, I’d better get going now.” She yawned as she spoke. “I’m feeling a little tired tonight.”
Link curtly nodded his acknowledgement, turned away and went back to watching the sunset. Uneasily, Ilia stood up and shuffled away from him. As she reached the gate, a soft growl emerged from behind her.
“Link?” Spinning around, Ilia found that the young man had vanished. In his place stood a large wolf with unusual, green-tinted markings and a shackle on its left paw. It slowly padded towards her, its lips curled into a ferocious snarl, and its eyes filled with a feral, hungry yearning.
“Link?” the girl said again. The wolf slunk down towards the ground in preparation for the hunt.
It wasn’t until the beast leapt up when Ilia eventually saw the sense to run from it. It whined as its nose hit the stony ground, but moments later it was up and running after its chosen prey.
She should have run into the village, she knew it, but Ilia’s legs took her in the opposite direction into the forest. The fading light made it look sinister and forbidding, and yet she still ran as fast as she could into the mass of trees.
But it was to no avail. Every time she thought she had escaped from the wolf, it would suddenly appear from behind or above her. It seemed as though everywhere she looked, everywhere she hid, the wolf would already be there, its teeth bared and its claws outstretched. All hope draining from her, Ilia slumped down against a tree and sobbed violently into her hands.
Out of the corner of her eye, Ilia could see the shape of Link peering around the tree. Both his voice and his face appeared concerned, but she wasn’t going to fall for the trick. Wiping an arm over her damp face, she quickly got up and backed away from him. She turned to run, only to find herself face to face with him. How he had managed to get behind her so quickly was beyond her knowledge.
“Link? What? How did you…” Ilia screamed as Link grabbed her firmly by the arms. “Get off me, you monster!”
“Ilia, calm down,” Link said soothingly.
“No! What are you, Link? You’re not human, I know that much!”
“Sssh…” the boy whispered at her, running a finger through her short hair. As Ilia calmed down and stopped trying to wrestle herself free from his grip, Link ran his thumb over her wet cheeks.
“That’s better,” he said quietly, “You’re not going to cry anymore, are you?”
“No,” Ilia said weakly, shaking her head.
“Good,” Link thrust her down onto the floor as he spoke, “because if there’s one thing I hate, it’s when my food has to go and make such a huge fuss!”
Ilia looked around in surprise, and realised that the forest had disappeared, leaving only herself and Link in a deep black space.
She could do nothing but watch in fear and wonder as Link transformed into the great wolf again and pounced on her. She opened her mouth to scream, but no sound was heard. The last thing she saw was the flash of the wolf’s jaws as they clamped onto her throat.
Ilia’s eyes snapped open in an instant. She felt something warm resting on top of her and, in a daze, immediately threw it off. She was relieved to find that it was only her bed sheet and that she was now in her house. It was still dark, but not the fearful dark she had experienced in her dream.
Sitting up, she took a moment to collect her thoughts. It had definitely been a dream, she confirmed to herself. She glanced upwards, wondering if her father had heard anything. It seemed to her that ever since she had discovered Link’s secret, she had been plagued by nightmares about him. The first time it happened, she had screamed in her sleep, which had in turn frightened her father.
After reassuring herself that she had not done anything to wake him, Ilia quietly reached for the discarded sheet, and tried to lull herself back to sleep. However, she couldn’t shake away the images from the nightmare, which brought back memories of previous dreams. In the end, she was too terrified to sleep.
The first few dreams had been bad enough. But once she had read that book, the dreams started getting worse, with Link acting more savage than she thought she could imagine. Even though she knew they were just dreams, fragments of her wayward imagination, it didn’t make them any less horrific.
And it wasn’t just in the night when the wolf haunted her, either. A few of those dreams had occurred in the middle of the day while she napped in the warm sun. It was thanks to those occasions that everyone in Ordon knew of her problem. She hadn’t told anyone what the dreams were about, and instead let everyone come to their own conclusions.
No longer able to sleep, she silently climbed out of bed and crept towards the bookcase. She pulled out a tome that was lying horizontally on top of the shelf and opened on the page she had left a thin leather bookmark in. Sitting down on the bed, she looked at the pages that she had read so many times before since borrowing the book from Rusl, the most experienced swordsman of the village. The cool light of the moon wasn’t enough for her to see the words properly and she lit a candle before perusing the book any further.
Once she placed the light near her, Ilia began to wish she hadn’t lit it at all. The heading ‘Chapter 13 – Werewolves’ was spread across the top of the page, while underneath it, interspersed with the text, were illustrations of monstrous, wolf-like creatures.
None of them seemed to depict how Link had appeared that fateful day, but she knew that parts of them had wormed their way into her subconscious. The accompanying text didn’t help ease her fears, either.
“Although specifics vary from wolf to wolf,” Ilia read aloud to herself in a whisper, “the basic principles of the werewolf curse are the same; those afflicted with the curse transform into a wolf either at will, or by some outside influence.
“When in a transformed state, the werewolf becomes much more vicious, with many going as far as to attack and kill humans, even their own loved ones. It is believed, but not confirmed, that those who transform at will have more control over their actions and use their curse as a way to rid themselves of their enemies. However, even then mistakes have been made.”
The rest of the chapter went on to explain stories of people in the past who had become werewolves in some way, and what terrible deeds they had done afterwards. Ilia had read the pages many times, but she couldn’t quite work out where Link would fit in. Whenever she thought she discovered a clue about Link’s transformation, she found that it only led to more questions.
Tired and frustrated, Ilia closed the book and left it lying on the bed next to her. The simplest thing to do, she knew, was to just ask Link. But he had disappeared on the very day she had learned of his power. She had plucked up the courage to mention it to him that afternoon, but when she arrived at his house, it was empty. She had later learned from a friend of Rusl’s that he was now staying at Hyrule Castle to help protect the royal family from a great evil that had resurfaced in the kingdom.
“This is ridiculous,” the girl scolded herself in a whisper, “Link’s my friend. He wouldn’t try to kill me.”
She quietly replaced to the book on the top of the bookcase, blew out the candle, and returned to her bed. As she lulled herself to sleep, she desperately tried to think of the happier times she had spent with Link before that day. But her efforts were in vain.
This time, he savagely tore her apart, limb by limb.
The breeze was surprisingly warm and pleasant as Link stood in the field to the north of Hyrule. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, allowing the sun’s light to grace the ground with no trouble.
A thick gauntlet covered his left arm, while he held a strong piece of string in his right hand. Slung over his back was a sheath housing his prized blade, the Master Sword. Since the dark sorcerer Ganondorf had escaped from the afterlife and threatened to invade Hyrule again, he found it necessary to take the sword, or any weapon he could carry, with him wherever he went. Even if he was just out flying his hawk, and especially if he was out flying his hawk with Princess Zelda.
The princess was leaning against a tree, watching the young hero drag the string along the ground. Attached to the string was a small wooden block covered with rabbit skin and a strip of meat. A large hawk swooped down at the bait, which Link quickly swung away as soon as it landed.
He gave a cheeky smile as the bird took off again, coming to rest in the tree that Zelda was leaning against.
“Poor thing,” she said jokingly, glancing up at the bird, “I think you’ve taunted him enough, Link. Let him have that now.”
The hawk immediately caught sight of the moving lure and set about trying to catch it once again. This time, Link let it grab onto the block and greedily tear at the meat, its wings spread over its prize.
“You want to hold him?” he took off the glove and offered it to the princess. As Zelda warily slipped the large gauntlet onto her arm, Link had to stifle a laugh. He took out another piece of meat and rested it on her wrist before whistling to get the hawk’s attention.
“Now just keep still…” he began to say.
“I know how to hold a falcon,” Zelda interrupted him, “You forget, I have had experience in this.”
“Oh. So why don’t you have one of your own?”
“Well, there was Sapphire, but after her, I just never thought about getting another.” Zelda was suddenly startled when the hawk landed on her arm. Its fierce yellow eyes gazed at her curiously before it turned its attention to the meat. “He is beautiful, I must admit,” Zelda said as she marvelled at it.
“I told you he was,” Link replied, “Watch yourself.”
The hawk, having gobbled its snack and quickly bored with staring at Zelda, flew off into another tree. The princess returned the glove to Link and let him try and call it back. Once the hawk was back on his arm, Link gently fastened its legs to the glove and covered its head with a plain, black hood.
“I didn’t always get a chance to train him back in Ordon,” he explained, “Most of the time, he was out in the wild, and I just used the whistle-grass to call him when I needed him. To be honest, I’m surprised he’s behaving this well, especially for a wild bird.”
“Maybe you’re just a good falconer,” Zelda suggested, handing him the lure she had retrieved for him.
“Or maybe he’s just so used to sitting on my arm and staring at my stupid face by now,” Link said, “Anyway, he’s better behaved than Arden, that’s for sure,” he added, referring to the half-dragon, half-unicorn Aquamentus owned by Midna, the Twilight Princess.
“I don’t know,
can be all right most of the time,” Zelda said. Arden
“Not when I’m around, he’s not! Did you know Midna asked me to feed him for her the other day? Damn thing nearly bit off my arm! I had to throw the meat over the door to his stall!”
Zelda raised a hand over her mouth to hide her giggles.
“It’s not funny, Zelda!” Link protested, “I swear, the sooner we get the Twilight Realm back for Midna the better. Then she can keep that monster far, far away from me!” He said the last part while making exaggerated gestures with his free arm to emphasise the distance.
“He’s not that bad, surely?” the princess said. She started to walk away from Link, towards another open area where two horses were grazing contently.
The hero followed her, still in a tirade about
. He stopped mid-sentence when he looked at Ghost, Zelda’s white stallion. For reasons he could not fathom, Ghost always seemed to unnerve him. His deep, soulful eyes peered at him, causing the hero to lose track of himself. Arden
Shaking his head, Link turned to his own steed, an earthy brown mare by the name of Epona. Still holding the hawk in his left hand, he climbed onto the stocky horse’s back and began to follow Zelda back to the castle.
A faint squawk caught his attention. He looked up to see a Kargarok, one of Ganondorf’s many minions, circling the sky above them. Epona sped up into a brisk trot, coming side by side with Ghost.
Curious, Zelda glanced upwards, staring straight at the monstrous bird. With another squawk, the creature swooped down at the pair. Before it could reach either of them, Link and Zelda split up.
The bird stopped itself before it could crash into the ground, set its eyes on Zelda and soared after her. Quick as a flash, Link halted Epona to unfasten the straps on his glove. Facing the hawk towards the Kargarok, he removed the hood and set it free. The monster screeched as the hawk’s claws latched into its shoulders and it flapped frantically. Shaken off, Link’s hawk flew away, but the attack had given Zelda enough time to unsheathe her own sword and slash at her opponent.
Crying out in pain, the Kargarok decided it had had enough of her and tried to make its escape. However, Link had swiftly leapt at it, pinning it to the ground with the tip of the Master Sword. The creature died as soon as the point pierced its heart, and Link stood back to watch its body turn to dust and fly into an invisible wind.
“Are you all right, Princess?” he asked.
“Don’t worry about me,” Zelda replied, “I’m fine. But what about your hawk?”
“Just leave him,” Link waved a hand dismissively, “Like I said, he’s a wild bird, really. He’ll come when I need him. At least, I hope he will.”
“What do you think Ganondorf’s up to?” Zelda asked, changing the subject, “It’s been almost a week since he revived himself and all we’ve had to deal with are Bokoblins and Kargaroks.”
“Yeah, it would be nice to have a bit of a challenge.” Zelda could see the eager spark in Link’s eyes light up as he spoke. It made him look wilder than usual.
“I mean don’t you think it’s a bit fishy that he’s sending out his weakest monsters first?” she said.
“Well, he knows he can’t go for a full-scale invasion, not after last time. You remember what he said then. He underestimated us, you especially.”
Both of them still vividly remembered how Zelda had summoned a powerful beam of light to attack the Dark Lord with.
“I know,” the princess said, “I’m just worried about what he might be planning, that’s all. If he’s only sending out the weak monsters, then that must mean he wants to save the stronger ones for something else.”
“Look, just don’t think about it. You’ll only find yourself fretting over things that may or may not happen.” Putting a hand on her shoulder, the hero continued, “Remember what I said to your father. Whatever happens, I’ll be there, and I’ll be ready. I’ll make sure nothing bad happens to you, your father, and to Hyrule.”
“Are you sure?”
Link looked at Zelda, uncertain if she really was doubting him or not.
“As a wolf looks after its pack.”
Zelda simply stared at her friend, smiled and shook her head.
The clouds of perpetual shadow swirled about the Twilight Realm as Ganondorf stood on a high balcony overlooking his new kingdom. With Midna out of the way, he had simply moved into the
and declared himself king, making sure those who stood against him were severely punished. Palaceof Twilight
The appearance of a shadowy bird caught his attention. His gaze followed the creature all the way to the palace, where he eventually lost sight of it and returned his thoughts to the world in which he now resided.
The Twilight Realm had its perks, he had to admit, such as the abundance of raw magic in the air and the rather striking views from high up. But it wasn’t in the same league as Hyrule. That kingdom was the chosen land of the gods, while the Twilight Realm was where those who had angered the goddesses had been banished. Side by side, it was clear which world was the better in his eyes.
“Y-your highness?” a timid voice asked from somewhere near the Dark Lord.
Ganondorf looked to see the nervous form of a Twili stood next to him. Looking at the short, stout creature and its anxious expression, he found it hard to believe that it had descended from a race that had once defied the goddesses with powerful magic.
“The Shadow Bird brought news with it,” the Twili mumbled.
“And?” Ganondorf asked after a long pause.
“What? Oh, it said that another Kargarok was killed today by the hero and the princess of Hyrule.”
“Good grief,” Ganondorf held his head in his hand, “I suppose that one thought it could catch them off-guard like the others, could it?”
“I… I don’t know, sir. It certainly seems that way.”
“Was there anything else? Or did you just come here to report a meaningless death?”
“Erm, no. Sorry.” After another pause, the Twili asked, “Can I go now?”
“If there is nothing else to say,” the sorcerer growled.
Bowing repeatedly, the creature hobbled away as quickly as it could.
For a while afterwards, Ganondorf remained completely still, looking out at the world around him. He hadn’t expected his monsters to kill Link, but he had assumed that after the first few monsters fell, the others would see sense to keep away from him until a full battle plan could be formulated.
The man chuckled wryly to himself. He knew he wasn’t one to point fingers at others in that respect. He himself had been very reckless, which had repeatedly led to his undoing. But that was all in the past; if he really wanted to get anywhere with this, he needed to take a step back and look at the big picture.
“At the moment, I have enough strength to tackle even the mightiest warrior, bar the princess and one lad with that blasted sword,” he muttered, “My monsters think they can kill this lad easily, and have repeatedly sent themselves to their deaths trying to prove it. That’s got to stop, first of all.
“I’ve yet to figure out how to actually get rid of Link and Zelda. And I still have to keep an eye out for Midna. I know she’ll be after my blood as much as they will, if not more so.”
Gritting his teeth and balling his hands into fists, he left the balcony and marched back inside the
. Palaceof Twilight
“What are you doing?”
Ilia looked up from her packing. “I’m just going to go out for a walk in the forest,” she replied evenly.
“On your own?”
Ilia said nothing, and forced some food into her bag. Eventually, she said, “I’ll be fine.”
“Just… just be careful,” Bo, the mayor of Ordon said.
“I’ll be fine,” Ilia said again, “I haven’t been feeling too well lately. I just need to clear my head, that’s all. I’m not going far.”
“I wish someone could go with you, all the same,” Bo said, “I know Link’s away in Hyrule, but what about…”
The mention of Link’s name caused Ilia to freeze, the memory of seeing him in wolf form returning.
“Are you OK?” her father asked.
Ilia forced the images out of her head and nodded. “Look, you don’t have to worry about me,” she reassured him. Before either of them could say another word, the girl grabbed her things and rushed out of the door.
She kept her head low as she walked through the village, trying not to make eye contact with anyone. When she reached Link’s house on the outskirts, she noticed how empty and lifeless it looked. Grasping her bag tightly, Ilia carried on walking, eventually approaching the Spirit Spring of Ordona.
She paused outside the closed gates, gazing between the bars at the beautiful pool on the other side. She could see the fairies fluttering and dancing over the water, watched by the mysterious Great Fairy. They seemed so happy, so carefree, that Ilia almost wished she could join them and forget all her worries.
She hurried on through the foliage, pausing briefly again at the Spirit Spring of Faron. Like she had seen in Ordona’s spring, a group of fairies were dancing over the waters and basking in the sunlight. Ignoring them, Ilia wandered further into the forest, a strange sense of foreboding washing over her.
This was her first visit to the forest since she discovered Link’s secret, and as the memories returned to her, she wondered if it really was a good idea to come back. She rationalised that Link wouldn’t suddenly jump out at her, but she was still fearful of other monsters lurking around. She then considered the thought that there may even be other werewolves around.
“This is silly,” she scolded herself, “You’ve been in here lots of times and come out perfectly fine.”
She then began to wonder why she had even come out into the forest in the first place.
You wanted to sort things out, she thought.
Ilia decided to stop for a moment to get the rest of her thoughts straight. She sat down on the ground near an old tree and took an apple out of her bag. As she crunched on the fruit, she thought back to the day when she had found out about Link’s ability.
He had been carried away from the village by a dragon, and Ilia had followed him on Epona. However, when she finally found the dragon, it was fighting a large, thick-furred wolf. At that point, she had believed Link to be dead. After the wolf had dealt with the dragon, Ilia had started to leave, chancing a look over her shoulder as she did so. It was then that she saw the wolf change into the familiar form of her friend.
When he found her moments afterwards, she had tried to act casual, but she doubted that he had been fully convinced. She hadn’t been able to hide her fear well, and was sure he suspected something.
And now he’s in Hyrule, so really, I don’t have anything to worry about, the girl thought. She was about to take another bite of apple when she heard a rustling in the leaves above her. She looked up, hoping to get a glimpse of what was up there, but all she could see were shadows. Then, one shadow leapt out and fell towards the ground near where she sat. Ilia screamed and held her hands over her head, but nothing else happened.
Cautiously, she opened her eyes and saw a monkey stood in front of her. It wore a red flower by one ear and was regarding her apple with hungry eyes.
“You want this?” Ilia asked, relieved that the creature wasn’t a monster.
The monkey chattered in reply. Ilia took the response as a ‘yes’ and tossed the apple over.
“I’m not really hungry, anyway,” she said.
The monkey sat down on a nearby stone and took a big bite out of the fruit, while Ilia went back to her thoughts. She looked over at the critter, who was watching her curiously as it munched on its snack.
“We used to be so close,” Ilia mused aloud to her guest, “Me and Link. And then I got kidnapped, and he… he rescued me. But since then, he’s been like a different person. I mean, he was still good and kind and honest like he always was, but he also seemed to be more... well, wild, I suppose. I should’ve seen it coming.”
The monkey ambled towards her and placed an arm on her shoulder as though it wanted to comfort her.
“Why didn’t he tell me anything?” Ilia continued, “Could he not trust me? Or was he afraid that I wouldn’t be his friend anymore?
“I can still remember it clearly, you know. How he had been a wolf. His eyes, and his teeth, and the way he fought that dragon. I know I can’t forget it. As soon as I do so, he wanders into my dreams, taunting me.”
By this point, Ilia felt like screaming into the air. “I don’t know who he is anymore,” she sobbed, “One day, he’s the best friend I ever had, the next, he’s the monster in my nightmares.”
Suddenly, the monkey chattered urgently at the girl, but she ignored the creature. A rustle in the distant bushes made her look up ahead. The monkey screeched loudly and ran off up the tree, dropping the half-finished apple to the floor. Ilia stood up, but her legs didn’t seem inclined to make any other movement.
A pair of evil, red eyes could be seen in the shrub, followed by a second, and then a third. Ilia watched them closely, hoping above all hope that they would go away. She had had enough nightmares for one day. However, the owners of the eyes revealed themselves and marched towards her.
In the dull light, Ilia couldn’t quite work out what the creatures were until they began to close in on her. Two of them were Bokoblins; she recalled Link talking about them after he had defeated Ganondorf. But the other one was something she had never seen nor heard of before. It looked very much like a bulldog, if bulldogs walked on their hind legs, wore heavy armour, and wielded spears. The bulldog grinned, showing its vicious yellow teeth.
Ilia snapped out of her fearful paralysis in time to avoid the attack from one of the monsters. She fled through the forest, hoping that she could outrun the beasts. She swiftly ducked under a low branch, turning only to see the ferocious bulldog smack its head right into it. It howled in pain and humiliation as it stood up and rubbed its head, while its comrades merely pointed and laughed at it.
The chase continued, with Ilia ducking and weaving through the trees as nimbly as she could. After tripping over an exposed tree root, she realised that she could no longer see her pursuers, but she didn’t want to take any risks. With every burst of energy she could muster, she ran on, oblivious to the unnatural darkness that was now following her.
She suddenly started to feel a strange sensation down her spine. Pausing to catch her breath, Ilia glanced around, wondering what was causing the unsettling feeling. A sound like a horn could be heard above her, and she looked up, trying her best to see through the dense branches. A shadow fell on her, blacking out her vision, and two sets of larges talons gripped her shoulders firmly.
Screaming, Ilia tried to wriggle free from the grasp of the monster, but the claws held her tightly, their sharp points dangerously close to her skin. With strong, heavy wing beats, the shadow creature rose, crying out triumphantly. Once the creature had carried her high above the trees, Ilia was sure she could feel her body disintegrating into nothingness. As soon as the feeling wore off, she was shocked to find that she was no longer hovering over the forest.
Dark clouds swirled ominously in the sky, while sinister mountains and buildings were situated as far as the eye could see. Ilia screamed again as her captor carried her towards the largest building. As it trumpeted into the shadowy darkness, other creatures of its kind flocked towards it, allowing the girl a chance to see them clearly for the first time.
The first thing she noticed was their faces; or rather, what she supposed were their faces. They appeared to have no eyes or mouths, and instead consisted of a hypnotic pattern of red contained within a funnel-shaped appendage. The neck then extended into a body resembling that of a bird’s, but twisted and cruel.
The birds soon flew away, giving Ilia’s captor a clear path to the large building. She drew a sharp breath, wondering where she was and whether she would ever return to Ordon. However, there was nothing she could do about it from her current position, so she simply held back and allowed the bird to carry her to their destination.
As he sat listening to the world around him, Link absently reached out and petted the fluffy white cat curled up on the table beside him. The cat purred and gave him a feline grin, which he returned with amusement.
After returning to the castle that morning, Link had retreated to the bar in the southern part of town, where he had spent most of his time eavesdropping on the various people that visited. This bar was popular with soldiers and swordsmen and he hoped that one of them would bring some news, or even a small hint, of Ganondorf’s plans. The owner, a large woman by the name of Telma, seemed to tolerate his presence even if he didn’t order anything. She knew of his role in ridding Hyrule of the evil that once ruled it, and was keen to help him in any way she could. When he wasn’t around, she vigilantly kept her eyes open for anything deeply suspicious.
Her cat, Louise, had also taken something of a liking to Link. She always seemed to sidle towards him as soon as he entered, much to her owner’s annoyance. Although he sometimes feigned annoyance himself, the hero didn’t really mind it; he was certain the cat knew more about current events than Telma did, and he would take any attempt she made to communicate with him very seriously. He knew news and gossip travelled fast, and that was especially true in the animal kingdom. The long range cries of various creatures, the flight of the birds, and even the rapidly changing scents allowed pretty much every beast the chance to catch up on everything faster than any human. And a lot of gossip from both the human and animal worlds ended up reaching the eyes, ears, and nose of Louise.
Much to his dismay though, she had appeared not to know of anything new that day. The last time the two had spoken, she had warned him of shadowy creatures from another realm – he had assumed it to be the Twilight – that were supposedly stalking Hyrule, but he had not yet encountered one.
“He’s just biding his time, isn’t he?” Link whispered to the cat, “That’s why there hasn’t been anything serious happening. He’s waiting for the right moment to strike.”
Louise opened one eye and meowed in reply.
Ilia’s heart began beating faster and her breathing became more rapid with each flap of the hideous bird’s wings. Eventually, she was dropped with a thud onto one of the balconies. The shadow beast perched on the ledge behind her and cried out to signal its return.
A group of similarly grotesque creatures appeared from one of the doorways opposite Ilia. Their faces appeared to be hidden underneath a flat, almost circular appendage. They crawled along the ground on all fours, as though feeling their way across with their long, dexterous fingers.
Ilia tried not to scream as one approached her. It raised a gruesome hand to her head and inspected her. Sweat poured down her brow and cheeks as she stared into the ugly, soulless face in front of her. After what seemed an eternity, the creature let her go, and turned to its comrades, grunting in an incomprehensible language. What they said to each other, Ilia did not know, but she suspected that it wasn’t good news for her.
The bird called out its strange cry once more before flying away and leaving the girl with the monsters. Ilia watched it disappear into the gloomy sky, almost wishing she was flying with it instead of staying with the newly arrived monsters. One of the creatures grasped her by the arm and started dragging her into the building. She knew better than to resist and allowed herself to be led into the inner chambers.
The inside of the building did little to raise her spirits. The walls were decked with strange patterns that flickered in and out of existence, while mysterious people were busy hurrying about. Unlike the monsters she had so far encountered in this world, these people looked more human, albeit with bodies patterned similarly to the walls and sombre expressions. Although she didn’t see much of them, as most of them ran away when they saw her escorts approaching, Ilia could see the sadness in their eyes whenever she glimpsed one.
Finally, her guides stopped outside a large door. One of them grunted indistinctly to one of the friendlier-looking people, who briefly glanced at Ilia before rushing into the next room. After a short while, the creature called out for her and the monsters hurriedly ushered her in.
“Dear girl, I introduce to you the King of Twilight, Ganondorf Dragmire,” the creature announced in a child-like voice, taking Ilia completely by surprise.
The first thing she saw upon her arrival was the imposing figure sat on the throne opposite the door, who certainly appeared to live up to his title. Link had told her about him, but he appeared much more intimidating in person. He watched her closely as one of the monsters forced her down onto her knees.
“You say this girl knows Link?” he asked the ugly creature while keeping his eyes firmly fixed on Ilia. “You may go now,” he added to the nervous, sad-looking figure who had allowed them in. Ilia tried to watch it hurry out, but a cruel hand clamped on her head and forced it back down.
One of the twisted, shadowy creatures grunted in its peculiar language, which Ganondorf appeared to understand.
“Is this true?” he asked Ilia, “Are you really a close friend of the Legendary Hero?” He stood up and started walking towards her.
Her head still down, she replied, “I don’t know what…”
“Look at me when you talk!” The sorcerer forcefully grabbed Ilia by her hair and dragged her upright, out of the monster’s grip. Her then grasped her chin and turned her face towards his.
“I… I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she repeated, gazing into Ganondorf’s wicked, amber eyes.
“I’m talking about Link,” he explained slowly, “These creatures claim that one of my Moblins overheard you talking about him in the forest. You were saying how he had become a monster in your eyes.”
Ilia didn’t say anything, but she was sure her expression told Ganondorf all he needed to know.
“He had a tough time catching you, I hear. The Moblin, I mean” the Dark King continued, “Had to call on one of the Shadow Kargaroks to help in the end. Moblins! When they’re good, they’re very, very good, but when they slip up, they’re disasters!”
Ilia still said nothing.
“So? Are you or are you not a friend of Link’s? It’s a simple enough question.”
“Yes,” Ilia replied meekly. Ganondorf had been getting angry, and she didn’t want to tempt fate.
“Close, are you?” There was a spark of wicked glee in the king’s voice.
“We were. Well, I don’t know anymore…” Ilia kept glancing around, looking for a way out. But she was surrounded by Ganondorf’s minions, and even if she could escape them, she knew she wouldn’t be able to escape from him.
“Here’s how we’re going to do things now,” he growled, irritated by his prisoner’s constant hesitations, “I’ll ask you some questions, and instead of pausing or mumbling, you answer yes or no. Can you get your head around that?”
“Yes.” Ilia nodded.
“Good. So, you’re a close friend of Link, am I correct?”
“Which means he would do anything to save you from trouble?”
“Yes. I think.”
Ganondorf grinned evilly. “So if something terrible were to happen to you, he would be distraught,” he pondered aloud.
“Yes,” Ilia responded, even though the last sentence hadn’t been a question, “Although I would think that my father would be…”
“Oh, never mind him!” Ganondorf interrupted in a loud voice, “It’s Link who I’m after! That’s it, I’m through with you! For now, at least. You!” He pointed at one of the misshapen creatures. “Take her to the dungeons. She may prove useful later.”
Ilia did little to free herself from the monster’s grasp as it led her out of the throne room.
As time went by, Link began to grow weary of the bar. He had heard nothing that had caught his interest and was thinking about calling it a day. He listened to the idle chatter of the customers and the steadily increasing sound of birds outside.
Unbeknown to him, Louise’s ears pricked up at the cacophony outside, and she leapt onto his lap, digging a claw into the hero’s leg and hissing urgently.
“Ow!” Link winced at the brief, but sharp pain and turned to face the white cat, who had leapt gracefully onto a windowsill and was now making her way outside. He quickly examined the tiny claw marks before rushing out after her.
He saw her sat in the street with a look of purpose on her feline face. Then, she turned around and darted into the crowds. Link had a tough time catching up with her, but he eventually glimpsed her tail disappearing into a dark, empty alley.
He glanced over his shoulder to make sure no one was looking, followed her far into the passage, and transformed into the great wolf. Breathing in through his wet nose, he could smell not just the cat, but also a group of crows hidden in the darkness. There were other lingering scents in the alley as well, but he tried not to focus on them, especially the one that he was sure had been left by someone who had way too much to drink. He approached Louise, who appeared to be harassing the crows.
“Tell me what you heard!” she was saying to the nearest bird.
“Look, I don’t know what you mean, miss,” the crow replied. Link wasn’t sure if he really didn’t know what Louise meant, or if he was just playing dumb, but he decided to intervene all the same.
“What’s going on?” he growled, walking up to the scene.
“Ah, here he is, now,” Louise purred, “If you can’t tell me, then you can at least tell him.”
“About what?” the wolf asked, confused.
Louise sighed when the crows didn’t reply. “I heard these guys chattering about something,” she explained, “It was something about one of those Shadow creatures taking a prisoner.”
“A prisoner?” Link repeated, sounding surprised.
“The ‘uman prisoner?” one of the other crows piped up in a croaky voice, “Yeah, we ‘eard about that, didn’t we?” he added, turning to his colleagues. The rest nodded in agreement.
“Do you know who it was that was taken?” Link asked them urgently.
At this, the crows all looked at each other and laughed raucously. It was a strange, mocking laugh that to the untrained ear were just loud squawks. Link bared his sharp teeth menacingly.
“Answer me!” he snarled.
“Don’t let them wind you up,” Louise muttered to him.
The second crow to have spoken to hopped towards the wolf and looked at him with one beady eye. “Calm down,” he said, “You won’t get far if you keep snarling and glaring at everyone you meet. Fact is we don’t know who it was who got stolen and, quite frankly, we don’t care. All we know is that it was a ‘uman girl in that forest to the south of ‘ere.” Leaving those words hanging in the air, the crow rejoined his fellows, who then flew away from the alley.
Link slowly stopped growling, but his heart was still thumping in his chest. He didn’t like what he was hearing. He looked sideways at Louise.
“I think that’s all they know. I’m sorry,” she said solemnly.
Link took a deep breath, trying not to think of the worst. “Why?” he finally said, “Why someone from Ordon?”
“Take it easy,” the cat said calmly, “We don’t know if it was someone from Ordon, or even if it was Ilia. Don’t look at me like that. I know you were thinking about her. The thing is, from what we know, it could have been anyone.”
No, it’s definitely someone from Ordon, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Ilia. You know it as well as I do, Link thought to himself. Out loud, he said, “You’re right. I’m just reading too much into this. Thank you for letting me know, anyway.”
“You’re welcome,” Louise purred, rubbing her head against the wolf’s chest. She took one last look at Link before running out of the alley.
Link remained stood in the dim passageway for a short time before finally emerging back into the streets in human form. Not wanting to return to the bar, he walked off towards the castle, all the while thinking about what he had just heard. Even if it isn’t someone from Ordon, it’s still a human prisoner, he thought. He sighed as he tried to think about what he ought to do next.
The dungeons of the
looked the same as the rest of the palace, Ilia noted as she sat on the dusty stone floor. The walls still throbbed with the eerie fluorescent patterns, and she spent some time trying to trace her finger over them as they materialised. The only things that seemed to be different were the chill in the air, which hit her more than it did in the other parts of the building, and the shadows scattered about the place. When observed from a lighter area, they made her feel very uneasy, as if she were being watched. But when she sat in one of them, it felt strangely comforting. Palaceof Twilight
The bars on the door separating her from the outside world were also festooned with the otherworldly patterns which snaked across them and seemed to come alive and dance if Ilia stared at them long enough. Stood in front of the cell was a burly Shadow Being. It grunted a lot while keeping a watchful eye on its charge.
The unsettling peace was eventually shattered by a distant door opening and closing, followed by light footsteps towards the cell. From her vantage point in the shadows, Ilia could see one of the strange, sad-looking creatures approach the hulking monster.
“I bring food and drink for the prisoner,” it said meekly, holding up the plate and cup it held in both hands.
The monster loomed in for a closer look. It then grunted authoritatively and opened the door to the cell with one great hand. As soon as the creature waddled inside, it slammed the door shut with force. Ilia slunk back further into the far end of the cell.
“Come on out, girl,” the new arrival said, “It’s not good for your kind to hide in the shadows here for too long.”
Reluctantly, Ilia shuffled out, feeling the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end as she came into the open.
“That’s it,” the creature said in a good natured tone, “It’s better to stay out here than remain in there. Much better.”
Ilia opened her mouth to speak, but her throat felt dry and she was too fearful to say anything.
“Eat, dear girl.” The creature presented her with the plate and cup. Ilia was relieved to see that the plate held food that at least looked edible, but she didn’t know what to make of the cup’s dull grey contents. Regardless, she gulped some of it down before making a start on the food.
As she ate, the creature muttered, “There we go. That’ll make you feel better than skulking in there all the time. It’s not good for Light World beings, the shadows of Twilight.”
Once she regained the confidence to speak, Ilia asked, “The Twilight? What’s that?”
“The magical force that hangs in the air of the Twilight Realm.”
“The Twilight Realm? Is that where we are right now?”
The mysterious being nodded.
“If you don’t mind my asking, who are you?”
The creature looked taken aback for a moment. “My girl, I’m just one of the slaves here. You need not concern yourself with me any more than that.”
“I was just being polite,” Ilia said apologetically, “I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“You have not caused offence,” the creature replied, “but since you asked, my name is
“I’m Ilia,” the girl introduced herself in a friendly tone. She offered to share some of her food with
, but the Twili turned it down. Meridian
“Although I am a slave to the Dark Lord Ganondorf, I am kept fed enough,” she explained. A low growl emerged from the Shadow monster, and
turned to look at it briefly. Meridian
“What’s the matter?” Ilia asked.
answered in a whisper as she turned back around to face Ilia, “We’re not actually supposed to converse with the prisoners.” Meridian
The two sat in an uncomfortable silence for a while. Ilia swallowed the last scrap of meat and reached for the cup.
“They say you know the Divine Beast,”
said in hushed tones. Meridian
Ilia paused in her movements. “The what?”
“The great wolf who serves our true ruler and helped free our world of a false king.”
“I-I don’t know what you mean. I don’t know of any Divine Beast.”
“Never mind. I can’t explain it now.”
“Oh,” Ilia said again. Once she downed the rest of her drink,
gathered up the empty plate and cup and turned to leave. Meridian
“Remember, Ilia,” she said as she stood in the doorway, “although they may feel that way, the darkest shadows of our world are not a safe haven for Light World beings such as yourself. Stay away from them if you can.”
The guard roared, shaking the room, and the Twili left without another word. As soon as the door slammed shut, Ilia thought about what
had said, and glanced nervously at the pitch black gloom at the far end of the cell. Meridian
“Stay away from the shadows,” she muttered, “How can I do that? This whole place is nothing but shadows!”
“You want me to do what?” Midna shouted disbelievingly at Link.
“I just wanted to know if you could find a way into the Twilight Realm,” the hero replied, “I thought it might be possible. And besides, don’t you want to get back at Ganondorf for taking over your world?”
“Of course I do!” the Twili Princess said, “But if it were that easy to get into the Twilight Realm, would we have needed the Mirror before? And would I still be here now?”
Link sighed and said nothing. Upon his return, he had found Midna lurking about the castle and forced her into the first empty room he could find so he could tell her about what he had heard from Louise and the crows.
“Do you even know if this prisoner is that girl of yours?” she asked him.
“No,” he admitted, looking down at the floor, “All I know is that it’s a girl and she was taken from either Faron or Ordona.”
“So what’s the big deal?”
“It’s still a human prisoner! It’s still someone who was plucked from here and dragged into the Twilight! You’d do the same if it was one of your kind that was imprisoned!”
Midna’s face twisted into a scowl. “That… monster has taken over my kingdom and is in control of my subjects! As long as he rules, every last one of them are prisoners in my eyes! If I knew of an easy way there so I could face him, I would have gone there myself in a flash.
“Whoever this human girl is, she will have to wait.”
Before Link could respond, Midna stormed out, her elegant robes sweeping behind her.
“Midna, wait!” he called, following her out. In his haste, he nearly ran into one of the maids, who had obviously seen the Twili’s departure.
“What was all that about?” she asked the hero as he apologised.
“What was what all about?” Link asked as casually as he could, scratching the back of an ear as he spoke.
“That shouting. And her stormin’ off,” the maid replied, “And don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. I heard the pair of you yelling at each other.”
Link mentally cursed himself. If that woman heard anything about the prisoner…
“’Course I couldn’t quite hear what it were that you were both sayin’,” the maid continued.
“It doesn’t matter,” Link said quickly.
“She sounded like you’d just stuck that sword of yours right up her backside the way she were yellin’! What in the names of the goddesses did you say to her?”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Fair enough. Doesn’t bother me, really. She gives me the creeps anyway, that lass. I know his highness said she were foreign, but I don’t know of any place that churns out women like her!”
Link crept away as she spoke. In his short time in the castle, he had gotten to know some of the servants, and he knew that given half a chance, that maid could talk the hind leg off Epona.
He hurried off towards Princess Zelda’s bedroom. He had hesitated in telling her the story first; he just knew that if he told her what he knew, the news would soon reach her father, and he didn’t want to think about what King Taranis would do if he found out how he had gained the information.
He observed the grand door briefly before knocking.
“Yes?” the voice of Zelda rang from the other side.
Link opened the door slightly and poked his head through. The princess was sat at her vanity desk, running a delicate gold chain through her fingers.
“You can come in, you know,” she said, glancing at her visitor out of the corner of her eye.
Link carefully closed the door once he was in, and wandered over to where the princess was sitting.
“That one’s nice, I don’t think I’ve seen you wearing that,” he commented, eyeing the miniature golden dragon charm attached to the chain.
“Thanks,” Zelda said, “It was a birthday present I got a few years ago. I don’t wear it much, to be honest.”
“You should do. I’ll bet it look nice on you,” Link said, the words almost tumbling out of his mouth before he could stop himself.
“Maybe,” Zelda mused, putting the necklace to one side. “So,” she added, standing up and grinning at the hero, “what do you want?”
“Hmm?” Looking at the princess, Link had lost track of his thoughts.
“Or did you just come in here to annoy me?” Despite her words, her tone was very much the opposite of annoyed.
“Uh…” Link scratched behind his ear and underneath his hat, desperately trying to pull himself together.
“Look, if you want your tummy tickled again, you’ll have to wait. You know you can’t transform here.”
“No,” Link said quickly, “I need to tell you something important.”
Noticing the serious tone in his voice, Zelda sat down onto her bed. “What is it?” she asked.
“It’s about Ganondorf,” Link replied, sitting down next to her, “I’ve heard he’s taken someone prisoner.”
“I don’t know. The only details anyone knows about it is that the prisoner’s a girl and that she was taken from the southern forests.”
“So it could be a friend of yours from Ordon,” Zelda guessed.
“What has Dad suggested we do about it?”
“Your father… doesn’t know about it yet,” the hero replied, “None of the humans do, except you, me, and anyone who’s learned to speak crow language.”
“Crows?” Zelda raised a querying eyebrow.
“And Telma’s cat. I don’t know how long it will take for the news to spread through to the humans.”
“I should have guessed,” Zelda said. Looking straight at Link, she asked, “Can you trust them, though?”
“Well, I trust the cat,” Link replied, “Take it from me, Louise knows more than she lets on most of the time.” He eyed the princess carefully as he spoke. He wasn’t always sure where he stood with Zelda. Most of the time she would treat his transformation as though it was completely normal, but there were times where it seemed to unnerve her. He hoped that this wouldn’t be one of the latter.
“Anyway,” he added, “does it really matter? I mean, never mind if the messenger was a human, a cat, or a crow, that doesn’t change what’s being said. The fact still remains that someone is trapped in the Twilight Realm.”
“But how do you hope to get there?”
“I… don’t know,” Link answered, hanging his head ashamedly, “I had hoped to persuade Midna to help, but she doesn’t seem keen.”
“Really? I would’ve thought she’d jump at the chance to have another shot at Ganondorf,” Zelda said.
“She said that if there was a way to get into the Twilight Realm easily, she would’ve already done it by now,” Link explained, “and she’s not enthralled by the fact we don’t know who the prisoner is.” He said the last part very reluctantly.
“Well, I think she’s got a point there,” the princess said, “Maybe we should wait a while. I know you’re worried, Link,” she laid her hand on his as she spoke, “but maybe it’s best we don’t rush into this headfirst. I mean, you’re suggesting we find a way straight into Ganondorf’s lair without any thought as to what he might have there. That could be what he wants. You could get yourself killed.”
Link bit his lip and looked away from her. He knew both she and Midna were right, but he didn’t want to admit it to himself or to Zelda.
“Let’s at least wait until the news reaches here or Ordon,” Zelda said, “I know Dad won’t trust you if he knew where you had gotten the information. To be honest, even I’m not sure you should trust it for now.”
Link glared at her and quickly removed his hand from under hers.
“Sorry, Link,” Zelda apologised.
“By the time the news reaches the humans, it could be too late,” Link said darkly.
“Or not,” the princess said, “Look at it this way, Link. Ganondorf must have his reasons for kidnapping that girl. And if it’s because she’s a friend of yours, then chances are he’s hoping you’ll try to rescue her. If it isn’t a friend of yours, then who knows what his motives are.
“Either way, you’ll still need to find a way into the Twilight Realm first,” she added, “Midna doesn’t seem to want to help with this, and I would rather you thought this through a bit more. If you still want carry on with your rescue mission right now, you’re on your own.”
Link stared at her with an incredulous expression.
“I’m sorry,” she said again.
“Fine,” Link said decisively. He got up to leave.
“You’re not seriously going on your own, are you?” Zelda asked.
Link paused by the door. He could tell she was worried about him. Eventually, he said, “I’ll just try to think of a way into the Twilight for now.”
Zelda nodded in acknowledgement and as the hero left the room.
It has to be Ilia who’s been taken, it must, Link thought stubbornly as he walked away from Zelda’s bedroom, why else would Louise tell me about it? He paused next to a window and looked out at the landscape. He grinned, an idea forming in his mind. He wanted to kick himself for not thinking of it earlier.
He darted off to the nearest exit, burst out onto one of the battlements, and leapt down onto the main courtyard. He paused briefly by the stables, but chose not to bring out Epona. Instead, he ran at full speed out through the main gates, straight down through the town, and out into the southern part of Hyrule. Once he had run far enough from the prowling eyes of the guards posted at the town walls, he paused again to transform into the wolf, and then resumed his journey towards the woods of Faron.
Ilia sat in a hunched-up position in her cell, glaring at the black shadows at the far end. She then looked over at the Shadow Being patrolling outside the doorway. Every so often, the creature would look at her, but no matter how many times she stared, she could never work out where its eyes were supposed to be.
Despite having eaten, she began to feel weak, and considered closing her eyes just for a few minutes. After another sideways glance at her unearthly guard, her eyelids fluttered shut and she slumped down onto the cold floor.
The Shadow Being looked over at her and, with a trace of caution, opened the door. It quietly crept towards Ilia and watched her closely. She started shivering as she slept, causing the monster to step back. Once it was certain that she would not be disturbed, it slowly lifted her off the ground, and carried her right to the back of the cell.
Watching the scene, out of Ilia’s sight, was Ganondorf. In one hand, he held
by the back of her neck. As the guard disappeared into the cell, he carried the frightened Twili over to the doorway to watch. Meridian
“Well, she wanted to stay in the shadows before you convinced her otherwise,” he said casually, “So, it’s only fair to give her what she wanted, right?”
said nothing. Instead, she glared at her king. Meridian
“Don’t look at me like that. You know sooner or later she will be affected by the Twilight, so we might as well speed things up a bit. Of course, now that we’ve dealt with her,” the sorcerer added as the guard left the cell, locking the door behind it, “there remains the question of what to do with you. Don’t think your trying to help her will go unpunished.”
said nothing in reply, and quietly contemplated her own fate as Ganondorf carried her away. Meridian
It was with a pounding heart and extraordinary stamina that Link finally reached the outskirts of the forest. He stopped for a moment to get his breath back, his tongue hanging lopsidedly out of his mouth. Once he felt better, he ran straight into the forest, his head darting in all directions as he tried to pick up any scent that could help him work out what had happened.
It took him a while, but he eventually detected a familiar scent in the air. Link only needed one whiff to realise that he had indeed found Ilia’s trail. Following where the odour felt strongest, Link soon found his friend’s bag left on the ground. The strong stench of a monkey was hanging in the air, too, as were several other smells, some he recognised, and others he found unfamiliar.
A rustle in the trees immediately caught the wolf’s attention. He instinctively growled up at the hidden entity.
“I know you’re up there,” he snarled.
In several swift movements, the monkey hiding in the tree leapt from branch to branch before landing neatly on the ground behind Link. He turned around to face his new companion.
“Oh, it’s you,” his features softened, “Look, I don’t have time to play with you right now, OK?”
“OK,” the monkey said. “The girl who had that is gone now,” she added as she watched Link sniffing around the bag.
Link’s ears pricked up and he looked straight at the monkey, hoping she would say more.
“I saw her before she got taken by that monster” the monkey explained, “She was nice. She gave me food.”
“Are you sure?”
“She was talking about that guy from her village, the nice one who rescued us from the
. That one that you smell like.” Forest Temple
Link rolled his eyes.
“Oh, wait, she was talking about you,” the monkey said, giggling to herself, “Anyway, she was crying, as well. Sounds like you did something really bad to her. She kept calling you a monster.”
Link sighed and tried to not to imagine the scene. “Then what happened?” he asked calmly.
“These monsters came out and she tried to run away. She escaped the ground monsters, but a big black bird picked her up and carried her off. It disappeared as it flew.”
“It was really scary. Everyone who saw it got in a panic. Not that that’s anything new, of course. There have been lots of monsters here recently, which is also scary, but that bird was really scary.”
“Never mind the other monsters,” Link said, “This big black bird. Is it here now?”
“Don’t know.” The monkey idly inspected her feet as she spoke.
“Well, can we…” The wolf’s question was cut short by the sound of approaching footsteps.
The monkey nimbly leapt into the trees while Link slunk back. Looking over at the source of the sound, he could see the large form of Bo heading in his direction, carrying a sword in one hand. It appeared the mayor hadn’t yet seen him.
“Ilia?” Bo shouted, his voice filled with worry.
Link slowly stepped backwards. He grabbed Ilia’s bag in his teeth and threw it towards the man. The thud of the bag hitting the floor caught his attention, and he ran over to it. Gasping for breath, he called out for his missing daughter again.
Keeping to the shadows, Link watched the mayor call for Ilia repeatedly. This is the second time his daughter’s been taken from him, the wolf thought sadly, crawling further into the shady darkness of the trees.
“Ilia!” Bo shouted again, “Ilia!”
“She’s not here.”
The voice came so abruptly that Bo nearly leapt out of his skin in fright. Brandishing his sword, he stammered, “W-who’s there?”
From the dense foliage, Link walked into the light, having resumed his true form. Bo breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of his friend.
“Oh, it’s you, Link,” he said, “You scared me half to death.” Once he got his breath back, he added, “What are you doing here? I thought you were staying in Hyrule with the Princess.”
“I was,” Link replied, “But then I heard news that a girl had been snatched from here. Naturally, I had to come and investigate.”
“A girl has been snatched?” Bo repeated, “You don’t think it’s…”
“Ilia?” Link finished for him, “I know it was her.” As he said this, he could see the tears threatening to well up in his friend’s eyes.
“Taken where, though?” the burly man asked, trying to hold on to his composure.
Link sighed as he thought about his answer. “The Twilight Realm,” he eventually replied.
“A world beyond our own. A realm of shadows.”
Bo didn’t want to believe a word, but he could tell from the deep seriousness of the hero’s voice that he wasn’t lying.
“She’s not gone forever,” Link explained, seemingly reading the mayor’s mind, “but she is in grave danger. Once I can find a way into the Twilight, I swear I’ll do whatever it takes to get her back here safely.” He turned to leave.
“I’m coming with you, then,” Bo announced, following him. Link stopped in his tracks and turned back around to face the man.
“No, you can’t,” he said simply.
“She’s my daughter, Link.”
“It’s too dangerous.”
“What are you implying?”
Link didn’t say anything. Instead, he walked on, glancing up at the sky hidden behind the thickly spread leaves. “You should go back,” he said with hardly a flicker of emotion.
“Why?” Bo demanded angrily as he followed him, “Why should I? My daughter’s been kidnapped! I can’t just sit around while she’s lost in some… shadow world!”
“Do you know what it’s like in the Twilight Realm?”
Something about the way Link asked the question silenced Bo.
“There is no light,” Link said, again looking at the patches of sky above him, “The sky is filled with dark clouds, and magic hangs in the air even more so than in Hyrule. And I mean raw, powerful, dark magic. The darkest shadows are able to regress a Light World being into a mere spirit within hours, maybe even faster than that.
“I mean no disrespect to you, Mayor, but I don’t feel you would be able to last long there.”
Bo didn’t know what to think. He knew that Link had changed a lot since he first left Ordon, but this was something else. Never had he seen the boy look and sound so stern.
“I swear, I’ll find her,” Link reassured him, “You have my word. You just return home and keep yourself and the rest of the village safe.”
Bo nodded silently in acknowledgement, realising that his friend was right. He wasn’t getting any younger, and he didn’t feel too sure about his chances of surviving the nightmarish world that Link had described. He only hoped that the boy would stay true to his word and bring Ilia back safely.
“Just stay on your guard, all the same,” Link advised the mayor, “I’m sure you know that there have been even more monsters roaming this place than usual ever since Ganondorf was revived.”
In spite of the grim situation, Bo was pleased to see Link give him an amiable smile before he darted off into the forest. There was something about that smile that seemed to assure him that his friend hadn’t lost touch with his cheery side and that he knew what he was doing.
Feeling hopeful, but still concerned for Ilia’s safety, Bo made his way back to his village, clutching his daughter’s forgotten bag.
“He’ll bring her back,” he said to himself, “He did it before, and he’ll do it again.”
Link sighed and groaned in exasperation as he marched through the forest. Although he had found, and dealt with, many ferocious creatures roaming the woods, he had not yet encountered a single Shadow Kargarok. He was sure he could use one to enter the Twilight Realm, but the place seemed to be devoid of them.
He had wanted to ask the monkey more about where and how the creature first appeared, but she had long gone. In fact, he hadn’t seen many of the other woodland animals about, either. Without them, the forest seemed eerily quiet and empty.
He took a minute to stop and think things through. There’s no way a Kargarok could spend too much time here, he thought, the branches can be quite thick in most places. It must have arrived only briefly.
Glancing over at his surroundings, the hero could almost see a face watching him from the darkness. As soon as he made eye contact with the creature, it leapt out and charged at him. Thinking fast, Link drew his sword and swiped at the monster. Although he only caught the side of the monster’s spear, the movement was enough to stop its assault, and make it step back a few paces to reconsider its strategy.
He looked straight into the grim, bulldog-like face of his opponent, realising that it was one he had never encountered before. However, he knew this wasn’t the time to ask for its name. Although his assailant was in fact the Moblin that had pursued Ilia and summoned the Kargarok, all Link knew about it was that it was big, ugly, and was bracing itself for its next attack. As it tried to swing its spear at him, Link swiftly ducked the flying tip, rising only to smash his shield into the Moblin’s face. The creature staggered about in a daze while Link attempted to pierce its armour. The monster quickly regained its senses enough to raise its weapon directly above its prey. Link glanced up just in time to see the point, and rolled out of harm’s way.
While the frustrated Moblin prised the spear out of the ground, the hero slashed at its back, cutting through a weaker part of its armour and creating a straight gash in its side. The hero knew such a feeble mark could hardly stop a monster such as this, but it was a start. He cursed loudly as he blocked the enraged beast’s next attack.
By now, the Moblin was feeling very humiliated; it had failed to catch the girl it had spotted talking about the Legendary Hero, and now it was struggling against this boy. Growling more to itself than to its adversary, it howled as it lunged at Link, hoping to pin the boy down to the ground.
As he again thrust his shield towards the hulking monster and slashed his sword deep into its other side, Link’s attention was immediately drawn to the unmistakable cry of the Shadow Kargarok. At last, his ticket into the Twilight Realm had arrived. He could see the dark bird swooping down towards him through the trees, and remained where he stood in the hope that it would pick him up and carry him off into the Twilight like it had done with Ilia.
Unfortunately, much to his dismay, the Kargarok did no such thing. Once it caught sight of Link stood wielding sword and shield, it swerved sharply in mid-air, soared straight back into the sky, and vanished back into the world it had come from.
Link could have sworn he heard the Moblin growl “Hey!” as it shook its fist at the space where the bird had once been. The bulldog-like creature then levelled its gaze at the hero.
“You still up for this?” Link asked threateningly, holding the blood-stained Master Sword at the ready.
The Moblin’s expression turned from anger to alarm. If the Kargarok had flown away from the boy, then that could only mean one thing. Throwing Link a vengeful glance, it turned away and ran into the dark surroundings, one hand clutching its spear, the other leaping from one open wound to the next.
Growling a little himself, Link wondered if he could make the creature summon the Kargarok again, and gave chase.
“So the boy is in the forest where you snatched the girl?” Ganondorf pondered aloud. The Kargarok had immediately informed the Dark King about Link once it had returned to the Twilight Realm.
The bird trumpeted in response to its master’s remark. From its perch on the arm of the throne, the sound almost deafened the sorcerer.
“Yes, I’m sure he must know of the girl’s disappearance by now,” Ganondorf said, “There are no others with him?” he added.
The bird shook its head.
Again, the Kargarok shook its funnel-shaped head.
“Are you sure about that?” Ganondorf’s tone became unnervingly calm, and he leaned in close towards his minion’s empty face.
The Kargarok anxiously nodded.
“Interesting. So he is alone. Shame. I would have liked to have killed two, or even three, birds with one stone,” the Kargarok winced slightly as Ganondorf said this, but the sorcerer did not notice, “but it’s still the chosen hero nevertheless.”
He rose from his throne, and began to pace in front of it, the shadowy bird watching his every move attentively.
“If Link is alone,” he mused, “then that must mean that
is without his protection. I know the King has an adequate army, but they are no match for me.” Laughing with malicious glee, he continued, “Since the hero’s already out looking for his Ordon girl, let’s make things a bit more interesting.” Hyrule Castle
The Kargarok tilted its head quizzically.
“Princess Zelda is alone in that castle, with no Legendary Hero to protect her.” The sorcerer rubbed his hands together as the plan formed in his mind. “I have a job for you,” he said suddenly, whirling around to face the large bird, “I want you to gather up an army of your kind, and tonight you will go to Hyrule Castle and kidnap Princess Zelda. Don’t kill her, just bring her here.”
The black monster spread its great wings and trumpeted fiercely at its master.
“As much as I’d love to go, I know what powers she holds. She won’t waste them on creatures such as yourself.”
The bird again cried out in protest.
“Just do it,” Ganondorf said through gritted teeth, “Go!” he yelled impatiently.
The Kargarok made one last cry of complaint, then leapt off its perch and soared through the air, eventually teleporting out of the room.
Finally alone, Ganondorf sat heavily onto his throne and mentally plotted out the rest of his plan.
Link was beginning to lose his patience. He had quickly lost sight of the Moblin, and had ended up relying on his lupine sense of smell to track it down, having picked up the scent of the foul creature, not to mention the blood that was still oozing out the wounds he had given it. Once he had caught up with it, he had then suffered a blow to the head that knocked him sideways.
By now, however, he was certain that the Moblin was slowing down. As he cornered the beast, he wondered how much longer it would last as more blood fell and stained the grass. He didn’t want to kill it, and worried that his link to the Twilight Realm was failing.
“Back, wolf!” the Moblin shouted roughly, poking its spear at Link.
Link dodged the point and circled his prey, all senses focused on the target. As the Moblin stabbed its weapon at him, he sidestepped the attack, and nimbly turned to pounce at it, firmly clamping his jaws onto the wooden handle. With a bark of surprise, the Moblin released its grip on the spear, allowing the wolf to pull it right out of its hands and toss it to one side. He could see now that the monster was growing weary. He was tiring a little himself, but he forced himself to stay focused.
Unfortunately, the Moblin still refused to call for the Kargarok. His patience wearing thin, Link cautiously closed in on his opponent.
With a roar of fury, the Moblin slapped a clawed hand into the side of Link’s face, knocking the wolf off balance and leaving several long, tiny gashes on his forehead and cheek.
That was it. The hero knew now that the black bird wasn’t going to return and chose to take his anger out on the Moblin. He bounded straight at the monster, and while his claws scraped loudly against the metal chest plate, his jaws found an exposed point where the neck connected with the body.
The Moblin flailed about in pain as the beast’s teeth pressed into its throat, but it was soon over. With one final convulsion, the monstrous bulldog’s body went limp. Link stood proudly over his kill, his heart still pounding against his ribs. He then stepped away as the creature’s body turned to dust and blew away into nothingness, leaving its spilt blood as the only sign that it had ever been alive.
As he began to calm down, the hero resumed his human form, and suddenly realised how bad the Moblin’s blood tasted. He then raised a hand to his face, feeling the souvenirs he had been left with. They ached with his touch and were still gently bleeding. Link looked down at the bottle attached to his belt, and found that it was filled with red medicine. Not wanting to waste such a potent potion, he instead licked his finger and ran it along the scarlet lines, carefully adding a bit of his saliva onto each cut in turn. He didn’t know if it would really help, but it was better than nothing.
Once he got his thoughts straight again, Link realised that he was now back at square one. He sighed in anger and frustration, and leaned back against a particularly old and gnarled tree, staring up at the heavens.
“Hang in there, Ilia,” he whispered softly, “I’m coming.”
As night fell over
, the air became tense. It didn’t take long for people to notice Link’s sudden disappearance, with Zelda and Midna among the first to be questioned about it. However, both were reluctant to explain what the hero had told them to King Taranis, which only served to sour his mood even more. Hyrule Castle
Despite the fact that Link had helped relieve him of a curse that Ganondorf had placed on him, Taranis was still wary of the boy and his connections with the Twilight. No matter how many times Zelda defended him, the King still couldn’t place his trust in someone who could freely transform himself into a wolf, a beast of darkness. And he certainly didn’t like the fact that the initial cause of the transformation was Twilight itself.
“I hope Link gets back soon,” Zelda said, glancing around briefly at the window. She was stood in front of a mirror in her bedroom, carefully removing the bonds from her hair. Outside, the stars twinkled in the dark blue sky.
Behind her, Midna snorted in derision. “I wouldn’t bet on it,” she said, “I know what a determined little bugger that lad is. He won’t be back until he’s found out what’s going on, mark my words.” She was sat in a dim corner of the room, her amber eyes appearing to glow in the shadow.
“I just don’t want him to get into any trouble with Dad,” Zelda said, “I keep telling him he can trust Link, and now he’ll never believe me. Not after this.”
“It’s not your problem. I wouldn’t worry about it. I’m sure Link can handle his Royal Shoutiness.”
“Don’t let Dad hear you calling him that,” the princess warned her friend, although she couldn’t completely hide her amusement at the comment, “otherwise you’ll both be in for it.”
“Well, I can’t see how your father can hate me even more than he does now,” the Twili remarked, “You’ve seen the looks he keeps giving me. I’m lucky I’m eating at the table and sleeping in a proper room like everyone else!”
“All the more reason for you to keep your comments to yourself, then,” Zelda said darkly. She wrapped one ribbon around her hand and made a start on another one.
“And it’s not just him,” Midna went on, “Have you seen how the servants go quiet and creep about whenever I’m around.”
“Yes, and I don’t think it helps when you creep about yourself.”
The Twilight Princess stared hard at Zelda, but didn’t say anything.
“What you’ve got to understand is that, generally speaking, people are quite nervous about twilight and shadows and all that,” Zelda continued to say, “It’s not very comforting for them. And after Zant took over that time, you must admit we’ve had it pretty rough here as far as dark forces are concerned. And then there’s the fact that your ancestors were banished to the Twilight Realm for wielding powerful shadow magic.”
“Yes, yes, I get your point.” Midna leaned back and sighed as she spoke.
“I think Link needs to understand that as well,” Zelda said, “Even he sometimes clashes with people when it comes to your world. I suppose I should be thankful he’s at least kept his… alter ego under wraps. Well, apart from that incident in the town with the postman.”
Midna grinned broadly. “I thought that was funny,” she said, “It was stupid of him, but still funny. I didn’t believe him at first when he told me about it, until he showed me the scrap he’d managed to tear from the poor sod’s shorts!”
Zelda smiled and chuckled as she remembered the event. “It was funny, but I’m just glad he didn’t get found out,” she said, wrapping the second band around her hand.
At that point, Midna decided to leave the Princess alone. She wished her a good night and glided out of the room with all the grace of a swan. Zelda remained where she was, working on taking off the band at the back. Once she finished, she placed all three on the vanity desk and made her way to the wardrobe, unaware of the sinister creature outside, plotting her fate.
Keeping its face hidden, the Shadow Kargarok that had been sent to kidnap her gripped the wall of the tower where her bedroom was situated. It dared to glance around every so often, catching sight of its comrades waiting in similar places, trying to blend in with the shadows.
From its awkward position, the Kargarok had tried to listen to the princesses’ conversation, hearing only muffled voices. When everything went quiet, it launched itself into the air and carefully levelled itself outside Zelda’s window. Although its face was devoid of expression, it was pleased to see that its target was now alone.
Turning briefly to face its companions, the Kargarok cried out the signal to attack, and immediately the remaining guards found flocks of the monstrous birds closing in on them, both in and out of the castle.
Zelda looked towards the source of the sudden noise just in time to see the leader swoop headfirst into the large window. The first hit served to weaken the glass, while the second caused it to shatter as the monster tried to manoeuvre itself in the room.
The princess quickly dashed over to the sheath propped against the bed, and drew out her sword. The Kargarok ducked and weaved its head with every move she made, cautiously approaching her as it did so.
With a cry of determination, Zelda jabbed the sword straight into the bird’s face and was sent flying back as the creature reared its funnel-shaped head in pain. While it was distracted, Zelda headed for the door and ran out onto the tower stairs. She had gotten quite far down when she heard the unmistakable sound of another Kargarok gradually stepping in her direction. The familiar, ugly head peered around at her, prompting her to rush back up into her room.
Unfortunately, the bird that she had stabbed had not retreated or even collapsed. It had managed to shake the sword out of its head and was now glaring at her. Summoning up her strength, Zelda created a small ball of light in one hand, which she shot at her opponent. The Kargarok reeled slightly at the attack and spread its wings to balance itself.
Zelda was so focused on keeping an eye on the monster that she forgot about the second one that had been carefully marching up the stairs to her room. The distant sound of an unlucky soldier who had tried to come to her aid being knocked back down brought her to her senses, and she hurriedly slammed the door shut.
By now, the bird in the room had steadied itself enough to confidently approach its prey, hoping to back her against the wall. Zelda tried to keep it at bay, but after a while, the second monster bashed its head onto the door, causing her body to shake from the vibrations. Trying to hold the door back, she sent another ball of light at the creature already in her room.
This time, as the Kargarok winced, she had to duck to avoid its flailing head. As she did so, her hand accidentally gripped onto the door handle, turning it enough to allow the bird outside to charge in, forcing her onto the ground.
Zelda’s head smacked against the stone floor, knocking her unconscious. The two Kargaroks leaned over to inspect the body before the leader grasped her in its claws. The last thing they heard before clumsily taking off into the night was another guard rushing up the stairs, shouting for the Princess.
Once they were safely up in the air, the leader called the retreat and, as quickly as they had come, the group returned to the Twilight Realm, taking Princess Zelda with them.
Once again, Ganondorf stood on one of the high balconies on the palace. This time, his cruel, amber eyes were firmly fixed on the sky, watching for any sign of the Kargaroks. His arms were folded tightly across his chest, and he wore a stern expression. If those birds return empty-handed…
Suddenly, a portal appeared in the sky from which a misshapen bird flew out, clutching something limp and lifeless in its talons. Although many others followed it, the Dark Lord was only interested in the one carrying the unmoving form.
When he was able to observe the body closely, Ganondorf could see Zelda’s chest heaving up and down as she breathed. The Kargarok trumpeted at him as he looked.
“Yes, I can see she’s not dead. Good work,” he said, “Once we’ve gotten both her and Link out of the way, we will be able to move on into the Light World.”
The Kargarok made an enquiring noise.
“No, I haven’t forgotten about her,” the sorcerer replied, “She can wait until afterwards. As powerful as she is, without the Legendary Hero and the Princess, Midna is nothing. Give her to me,” he instructed, inclining his head towards the unconscious Zelda. The bird gingerly released its grip, letting her drop into Ganondorf’s outstretched arms.
He smoothly shifted her long hair out of the way and gazed at her elegant face. She looked peaceful as she slept, completely oblivious to the danger she was now in. A bloody mark revealed where her head had collided with the floor when she fell, staining and clotting up her hair.
Ganondorf signalled for the Kargarok to leave, and then carried Zelda into the Palace, his mouth grinning ever more widely with each step.
The aftermath at the castle was filled with confused groups of people wondering what had just happened. One moment they were being attacked by malevolent creatures, and the next, the creatures had vanished, as did Princess Zelda. Once King Taranis had learned that the monsters had disappeared with his daughter, he immediately turned to the one person he was certain would know what was going on.
“Listen, Your Highness, I know you’re upset,” Midna said once he had found her and dragged her into his bedroom, “but you really need to calm down,” She was feeling quite tetchy herself, as some of the guards and servants were starting to make the connection between the Kargaroks and her race, and the last thing she needed was the King shouting and yelling at her.
“Listen, you! You need to remember that you don’t have anyone to defend you now that that hero’s done a runner and my daughter’s been kidnapped,” Taranis said with a menacingly level tone.
Midna stared at the man for a few seconds. “What do you want from me?” she asked.
“First of all, those creatures. They came from your realm, correct?”
“Indeed they did,” the Twilight Princess replied, “but don’t think this has anything to do with me. I’m just as much an enemy to them as anyone else here.” As if to demonstrate, she showed some of the scratches on her arms that she had received during the scuffle.
“So they must have taken her back there, then.”
“That would be a logical assumption, yes.” Midna realised too late that the remark had sounded more sarcastic than she had intended. Taranis glared at her briefly, but then seemed to ignore it.
“Well, since you’re from the same world, can’t you go there after them?”
“Look, I told Link this earlier today before he buggered off, and I’m telling you now; if I could get there easily, I would’ve done it sooner. Our worlds are not supposed to…”
“What did you just say?” King Taranis asked, interrupting Midna.
“I said if I could have gotten there easily…”
“No, before that. You said something about Link. You said you’d spoken to him before he disappeared.”
Midna tried to remember what she had just said, her cheeks turning red with embarrassment that she had let that remark slip so easily.
“That was another thing I wanted to discuss with you,” Taranis said, “I know you and Zelda both know where he is and why he disappeared. So, out with it!” he barked at the Twili.
“I don’t know where he is, exactly,” Midna replied, “but I’m sure he ran off in search of a way into the Twilight Realm.”
“And why did he all of a sudden decide to find a way into the Twilight Realm?”
Midna swallowed, frantically trying to find the right words. “He had heard that some monsters, much like the ones that took Zelda, kidnapped a girl in the southern forests and took her into the Twilight. He thought it might have been a girl he knew back in Ordon.”
“Is she what?”
“Is she someone he knew in Ordon?”
“I have no idea, Your Highness. All I know is, if it is the girl he thinks it is, he would do anything to get her back.”
“He swore he would do anything to make sure no harm came to Zelda.” The King’s voice had become slow and measured as he spoke. In a condescending tone, he added, “Now I know how much his word is worth, anyway.”
“Now don’t use that against him!” Midna said angrily, “I know you’re not particularly fond of him and his little skill, but Link has helped you in ways your army couldn’t even dream of! Like it or not, he is still your world’s Legendary Hero. To be honest, you’ve got more sense in mistrusting me than you have in mistrusting him.”
“Well, he turned his back on us, so what am I supposed to think?” Taranis was now heading towards the door.
“Where are you going?” Midna asked.
“Where do you think I’m going?” Taranis responded, “I’m going to find a way into the Twilight myself!”
“I don’t think that’s wise.”
“Yes,” Midna grabbed the King’s hand as he tried to turn the doorknob.
“Get off me,” he growled softly through gritted teeth.
“No,” Midna replied in a similarly threatening tone, “Even if you did find a way into the Twilight, you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. According to your daughter, your last encounter with Ganondorf resulted in you being turned into a dragon and brainwashed, and that was in this world! I don’t think he’ll be that kind a second time, and that’s assuming you don’t get affected by the shadows of Twilight before then!
“Let me go and find Link,” she added, “I promise you we’ll get her back somehow. You need to stay here and sort this mess out. This kingdom needs you more than ever right now. When this world was covered in Twilight, too many races were on the brink of losing their beloved rulers forever. I can’t let the people of Hyrule suffer the same distress.”
The look she gave Taranis told him that she meant every word she uttered. Gradually, his features softened. It pained him to know she was right. He had always been impulsive, even in his youth. But he was getting on in years now, which had most likely been his downfall in recent campaigns.
It had always been his friends and loved ones who would curb his reckless tendencies. Somehow, he could never find the wisdom to just step back and look at the big picture. That task had been left to his late wife and, more recently, his daughter. And now it was the turn of someone who he had openly been suspicious of to make him see sense.
He may not have thought highly of Link at that moment, but he knew of the young hero’s capabilities, that he wielded the legendary Blade of Evil’s Bane, and that he possessed the knowledge and power required to save the princess.
He silently gestured for Midna to release her tight grip on his hand before calmly opening the door.
“If you can find Link, then go now,” he said.
Nodding her head in acknowledgement, Midna hurried out of the room, walked swiftly past the slowly shrinking crowds of onlookers, and made her way outside to the stables, where she found her treasured Aquamentus.
, usually aggressive to varying degrees when handled by most people, made no sound as his mistress prepared him for the journey. Arden
“Up,” the Twili ordered her steed once she was sat in the saddle. She gripped
’s side tightly with her knees as he soared upwards into the stars. “Now, to find Link,” she muttered to herself, scanning the dark horizons for any sign of the hero, “And I think I know where he might be.” Arden
Link leaned forward, resting his arms on his lap as he eyed the scraps of his meal, picking out a piece of meat from between his teeth. He was now sitting underneath the few trees that were scattered at the forest’s edge. As he looked up at the night sky, he regretted leaving the castle so impulsively. It wasn’t that he didn’t like roughing it in the wild, but the time he had spent hunting his food and preparing the fire was time he could have spent trying to find another way into the Twilight Realm.
Unfortunately, the only option he could think of was trying to find another of Ganondorf’s minions who could summon a Shadow Being. He felt guilty for being unable to think of anything else, and briefly considered returning to
to try his luck with Midna and Zelda again. Hyrule Castle
A gentle breeze blew through the foliage, bringing with it a sense of serene calm. Link breathed in deeply through his nose, allowing the sensation to take over his body. His eyelids drooped low, and his muscles slowly relaxed. Even his mind relaxed, the thoughts of Ilia and the Twilight evaporating from the forefront of his consciousness.
However, a mysterious sound from his left dragged the hero out of his current state and he snapped to attention. Looking around, he saw a large shadow approaching him. He stood up warily, his hand hovering over the hilt of the Master Sword.
Gradually, as the shadow reached the light of the fire, Link could see a deep black, heavily-armoured charger bearing the similarly armed, and familiar, figure of Ganondorf Dragmire. He quickly unsheathed the sword, grabbed his shield, and struck a defensive pose.
“You’re looking for the Ordon girl, aren’t you?” Ganondorf asked, his mouth forming a wicked grin. The dim firelight illuminated his face, making him look even more intimidating than normal.
“What have you done with her?” Link asked in response. When Ganondorf didn’t reply, he asked again, “What have you done with Ilia?”
“Oh, she’s still alive, if that’s what you want to know,” the Dark Lord said casually.
“What have you done with her?” the hero asked a third time, his own fierce expression also accented in the dancing light of the flames. It was during times like these that he felt his inner wolf rising up within him. He didn’t need to transform, but he could feel the pride and ferocity of the wolf all the same. Anyone who saw him in such a state would often claim they saw the beast in him in his stern eyes, although they never knew how much truth their words carried.
“If you want, I could show you,” Ganondorf answered.
Link lowered his weapons warily.
“I could even take you straight to her,” the sorcerer continued to say.
The hero scoffed at this. “You’re offering to take me to her?” he said disbelievingly, “Sorry, but I’m not that gullible, so pardon me if I don’t accept.”
“Fair enough,” Ganondorf pulled on the reins as though preparing to leave, “I wish you luck in trying to get there yourself before she succumbs to Twilight.” A cruel grin crossed his lips as he spoke.
By now, Link was watching his enemy carefully. He was now certain that he was up to something.
“While you’re getting on with that,” Ganondorf said, “I might just help myself to Princess Zelda.”
As soon as he said the last two words, Link had leapt up at him, hoping to knock him off his steed. But Ganondorf had been ready and struck back with his fist. As Link fell onto the ground, his opponent turned around to leave. The hero staggered to his feet to see the sorcerer vanish through a dark portal.
Wasting no time, he picked up his sword and shield, but before he could make a dash for the portal, something large swooped down behind him and lifted him off the ground by the back of his tunic. He screamed in surprise as his mystery captor carried him straight into the portal before it could disappear.
Once the near-suffocating blackness of the portal vanished, Link was dropped onto a smooth stone floor. Once he picked himself up, he studied the view in front of him, completely ignoring his unknown aide.
“Aren’t you going to say ‘thank you’, then?” the almost childlike voice of Midna drifted to Link’s ears.
The hero span around and noticed
stood proudly behind him, the Twilight Princess seated on his back. The Aquamentus roared at him. Arden
“Uh… Thanks,” he stammered, too dumbfounded to think of anything else to say.
“You’re welcome,” Midna said as she dismounted, “So, what next, oh valiant hero?”
“Where in Din’s name did she come from?” Ganondorf shouted out. The Shadow Kargarok perched on the arm of his throne quivered as the voice echoed off the walls. It then trumpeted at him in what it hoped was a reassuring tone.
“I know I wanted to get rid of her as well,” the sorcerer answered, “but I thought you said Link was alone!”
The Kargarok’s empty, funnel-shaped face just stared at its master.
“It’s no use looking at me like that,” Ganondorf said, “If you want to set things right then listen to me.” He looked at the floating, ball-shaped apparition in front of him. The image of Link and Midna could be seen inside it. “As soon as she leaves the room,” Ganondorf went on to say, “follow her. And you make absolutely sure that neither she nor the captive come out alive. I’ll deal with the boy as originally planned. You got that?”
The Kargarok nodded its head vigorously.
“Good.” Still seething, Ganondorf sat back in his throne and returned his attention to the floating orb.
“He’s not here,” Link said, panic rising in his voice, “I saw him. He definitely went through the same portal that we did.”
“True, except he could have changed its destination as soon as he went through himself,” Midna said matter-of-factly.
“You think that’s what he did?”
“I’m fairly certain. Link, there’s something I need to…”
“Not now,” Link interrupted her. He wandered around the room, taking in his surroundings. “We’re definitely in the Twilight Realm, I can gather that much,” he feebly concluded.
“Well done,” Midna said sarcastically. Observing Link’s unenthusiastic stance, she added, “Why the long face? I thought this was where you wanted to be.”
“It was, but before he left, Ganondorf said that he was going to kidnap Zelda. I thought that if I followed him through the portal, I could…”
“…try to stop him? I hate to break this to you Link, but you’re a little late.”
“The castle was attacked earlier tonight by some of his Shadow Monsters,” the Twili explained, “They caused a bit of a ruckus and took the princess while everybody else was distracted. I promised the King that I would find you and that we would get her back.”
Link groaned, angry at himself for leaving the princess alone.
“Look, what’s done is done,” Midna said, “All we need to do now is find Zelda and the other girl, whoever she is.”
“Ilia,” Link said in a whisper, “I sniffed about in the forest. It was her who was taken,” he added.
“Right,” the Twili nodded in understanding.
snorted impatiently in the silence that followed. Arden
Link took another look around the room. “So, two doors,” he noted, pointing out the doors stood at opposite sides of the room.
“Yes…” Midna was looking around with equal expressions of confusion and interest.
“Should we split up?” Link asked.
“It might be better,” Midna replied, “I think I know what Ganondorf was up to, so be thankful I’m here to help.”
Link glanced between the two identical doorways. “Ladies first,” he offered.
Midna took hold of
’s reins, and led him towards the door on her left. Arden
“Oh, Midna!” Link called to her, “Just one thing. If you find Ilia, you will try not to, you know, scare her or anything.”
“I’ll do my best,” Midna said, “And Arden will behave.” The Aquamentus snorted again as he was led away.
As the pair left, Link hung back, hoping to get a glimpse of what was at the other side of the open door. But he couldn’t see much apart from distant walls before it closed. He approached the other door, hesitating before opening it. He pressed his hand to the door and then quickly shifted it away as the gateway’s eerie pattern glowed blue. He then carefully stepped into the room once the doorway was open, his footsteps echoing off the similarly-patterned walls.
Once inside, the door slammed shut behind him, but the hero ignored it. He was more concerned about the five Shadow Beings patrolling the small room. As soon as the sound of the door was heard, the monsters immediately rounded on him. He reached for his sword and with a few swift movements, he had defeated one and began fighting the other four, the eerie light of his sword that only revealed itself in Twilight dancing among the beasts.
As he fought, his eyes anxiously searched the room for any sign of either of the two missing girls. He very nearly missed her, but he soon caught sight of Ilia huddled up by the wall opposite the entrance. She was watching the melee with a look that bordered between fright and astonishment.
But he couldn’t watch her for long. A hard smack on the head by one of the lurching monsters was enough to bring his mind back to the fight. Link jumped to his feet, and drove his sword straight into the monster’s chest. It wasn’t until the point appeared out of the creature’s back when it collapsed and disappeared into nothingness.
The remaining monsters closed in on the lone hero, backing him towards a black spot on the ground he had failed to notice. As soon as he neared the spot, a great, dark plant rose from its depths, and grabbed Link with its strong maw. Link dropped his sword in shock and tried to struggle out of the plant’s grasp, but it only squeezed him tighter.
The familiar sound of someone teleporting into the room caught his attention, and he looked up to see Ganondorf smugly appear in front of him. Link noticed a large scabbard hanging loosely on the Dark Lord’s waist that he hadn’t been wearing earlier.
“You…” Link growled, resuming his struggle against the Deku Baba with even more determination.
“Yes, it is me,” the sorcerer grinned wryly as he spoke. The three Shadow Beings that had survived the fight drew back, allowing him to approach Link calmly, stopping right where he couldn’t reach.
As he tried to free himself, Link came very close to his opponent, their faces almost touching.
“Well, well, well,” Ganondorf said with amusement, “it seems the rat took the bait and ran straight into my trap. Not that I had any doubts, of course.”
“Where’s Zelda?” Link asked menacingly, glaring straight at his foe’s evil eyes, “I know you’ve got her as well!”
Unbeknown to him and Ganondorf, the Kargarok had appeared in the air above them and was trumpeting frantically at its master.
“Why don’t we see, shall we?” Ganondorf said, opening out his right hand. The floating orb materialised into view, this time showing an image of the room Midna had entered.
Link smiled smugly as he saw
fending off the wild myriad of monsters that were stationed in that room. No matter how many tried to engulf him, he was able to shake them off, and even destroy some of the stragglers with balls of dark flame that were shot from his horn. Arden
Elsewhere in the scene, Midna was supporting a badly beaten Zelda as they tried to escape. When the door didn’t open, Midna called for her steed to help, and
rushed at the door, a flame charged at his horn. Arden
Ganondorf noted his enemy’s expression and looked at the orb for the first time to see Midna destroy one of his minions with her own Shadow magic. It was then that he also noticed the Kargarok hovering above him. Slowly, he turned his head to face it, raised his left hand, and beckoned the bird to come closer.
The creature reluctantly swooped down to land beside him. It tried to squat down, bringing its head down lower than Ganondorf’s shoulders. For seconds that felt like hours, there was a tense silence between them.
Then, within the space of a few more seconds, the orb vanished into thin air, Ganondorf grabbed the Kargarok by the neck, lifted it up so that its face was level with his, and snarled angrily, “Care to explain what we just saw?”
When the bird refused to answer, he shook it violently and shouted with fury, “Why are they still alive? One of them is in no fit state to fight and the other should be no match for you and your little army! You can’t even get rid of that blasted Aquamentus!”
The Kargarok cried out feebly.
“Well it’s not good enough!” the sorcerer roared.
Suddenly, there was a crash at the other side of the door. All who were in the room looked over at the gateway, which briefly glowed blue with each smash.
“Stop them!” Ganondorf ordered the Shadow Beings, who immediately scuttled towards the din.
Forgetting about his unfortunate position, Link chanced a glimpse at Ilia, who was now unmistakably frightened by the whole scenario.
“It’s OK,” he tried to call to her as loud as he could, “You’re going to be all right!” But she only cowered even more, causing Link’s heart to sink.
After a few more crashes, the door opened and
leapt in. He shot more fireballs at the welcome party, making a clear path for Midna and Zelda. Arden
“Link!” the Twilight Princess yelled at the hero.
“Midna!” Link yelled back, “Can you take Ilia? She’s over there!” he added, inclining his head towards the shivering girl.
, you help Link,” Midna instructed. The Aquamentus obediently shot a fireball at the stationary Deku Baba before hanging back and watching the action. Arden
As the shadowy flames hit it, the plant dissolved into the air, freeing Link at last. He quickly picked up the Master Sword from the floor and charged at Ganondorf, who had stood dumbstruck at the scene.
Regaining his senses, he raised his arm up and tossed the protesting Kargarok at the hero. Link bent double and fell back as the giant bird hit him in the stomach and fell on top of him.
“Get off!” he cried out irritably as he tried to heave the scrabbling creature off him. He was able to remove the bird just in time to avoid a blast of dark magic from Ganondorf.
The Kargarok saw that this was no place for it to hang around, and took wing as soon as it could. However, its efforts at escape were in vain, as
gracefully flew after it. He clutched the monster’s neck in his strong jaws as he dived back to the ground and proceeded to shake it violently. He then tossed it to one side and allowed it to evaporate into nothing as its comrades had done before it. Arden
Meanwhile, Ganondorf had drawn out a large, two-handed sword and was swinging it at Link. While he could sidestep some of the attacks easily, Link found himself becoming more and more unsteady whenever he blocked a blow with his shield or his own sword. He desperately sought after an opening through which he could attack, but both the giant sword and his opponent’s constant movements made the task that much harder.
With a roar of pride,
reared up and charged at the warring pair, trampling onto Ganondorf. Link backed off while the sorcerer was distracted, and hurried over to the three girls. It wasn’t until he reached them when he realised just how bad things were. Arden
Although she was conscious, Zelda looked slightly unfocused, as though she were daydreaming. Link put his weapons down and gently ran his fingers along the hair that had become stained and sticky with blood. The princess gasped in pain when he tried to see the injury. Link hastily apologised and turned to look at Ilia.
He hadn’t fully noticed it when he first glanced at her, but he could now see that she appeared translucent, with the green flames of her soul visible within her. When he reached around to put an arm around her, he could see it behind her through her body. Unfortunately, Ilia only retreated from his advance, an apprehensive look on her face.
“Ilia, it’s me,” Link said in a whisper, a tear threatening to well up in his eye.
The girl looked up into his face suspiciously. “How do I know it’s you?” she asked.
“Remember back to when the Twilight covered Hyrule,” Midna said when she saw Link’s confused expression, “I believe we are vanishing from her vision while she vanishes from ours. She’s going to have a hard time trusting us in this state.”
“Well, I’m not leaving her behind!” Link hissed.
“I never said we would have to. Listen, we have to act fast, while
’s dealing with Ganondorf,” the Twili added in hushed tones, “He’s been playing tricks on us! I know where we are. We’re in the lower chambers of my Palace, close to the dungeons, but not actually in them. Ganondorf placed an enchantment on the room we came into first, making it look as though there were only two doors.” Arden
“But there are more, I take it,” Link finished for her, running a hand through his hair.
The group’s attention momentarily returned to the fight going on behind them. Ganondorf was on an irate
’s back, trying to wrestle the Aquamentus to the ground. Arden
“We have to go,” Midna said.
“Wait,” Link added, picking up his weapons and returning them to their respective places, “If Zelda can’t walk on her own, and you need to show us the way, then let me take her and save you the hassle of it. Please.”
Midna loosened her grip on Zelda, allowing Link to pick the princess up securely. She then led the group back out into the first room she and Link had entered.
“This wall should have a door as well,” she explained, pointing at the empty wall to their right, “If we can break the spell on it, then we should at least be able to get into the rest of the palace.”
“Let me try,” Zelda said softly.
“Are you well enough?” Link asked her.
“I think so…” she replied quietly and slowly. She still seemed a little glazed in Link’s opinion, but she raised a hand and began to summon up the power of her Triforce piece nonetheless. After a few seconds, her hand dropped a little, and Link redoubled his grip on her.
“If you can’t do it, then don’t waste your energy,” he advised her through his teeth.
“Link, she has to do it!” Midna yelled at him, “It’s our only way out!”
“I’m all right…” Zelda assured him in her quiet voice.
A small burst of light appeared on her hand, which then floated towards the wall on the group’s right. Once the light dispersed, a door had materialised in the previously empty space.
“Through there!” Midna ordered, heading towards the newly-formed structure.
It took some coaxing to get Ilia to follow, but soon everyone had crossed through to the rest of the
. Palaceof Twilight
“It’s all right,” Link said in an encouraging tone to her, “We’re going to get you out of here and back home.”
They followed Midna through the various corridors, until something caught Ilia’s eye.
“Meridian!” she cried, running up to a distorted creature that sat by the wall of the corridor.
Zelda only seemed to vaguely regard the creature, but Link and Midna exchanged grim glances. They both knew what it was; it was a Twili that was partway through the process of becoming one of Ganondorf’s monsters.
was still her normal size, her complexion was much darker, and her head had been warped into the all too familiar shape of a Shadow Being’s head. She stared at Ilia as though ashamed. Meridian
No words were spoken between the Twilight Princess and the Legendary Hero, but each seemed to read the other’s thoughts. Link carefully placed Zelda onto the ground next to Midna, and approached the Twili.
“You know this one?” he asked Ilia softly.
The girl nodded. “She gave me food when I was in the dungeon,” she replied, “and she told me about this place.”
Link wanted to smile; this was the most Ilia had said since he found her. But he kept a solemn demeanour as he unsheathed the Master Sword.
“Don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt her,” he explained, “This sword contains power from the Sols, the life force of the Twili. Hopefully, it can used to restore your friend.”
He carefully glided the blade over the top of the Twili, and immediately the mutations melted away and formed the normal Twili shape.
“Oh, thank you,”
said when she confirmed to herself that she was back to normal. “Thank you so much. Oh, dear girl,” she said, turning to Ilia, “the Shadows of Twilight are consuming you. You must escape. All of you. Even you, Your Highness,” she bowed to Midna, “The false king of Twilight wishes you dead.” Meridian
“We know and we’re trying to escape,” Link said, “And you must escape as well. Once Ganondorf finds out that we’ve broken the spell…”
“You don’t have to worry about me, great Beast of the Gods.”
Link paused for a moment. “How did you know…?”
“Who else would be able to break the false king’s curse other than the Divine Beast? We were informed that you were able to take on other forms.”
Link opened his mouth to say something, but he was interrupted as the calm atmosphere was broken by two loud roars. The first cry belonged to Arden, who sounded like he was hurt, while the second, which had sounded very aggressive, was only recognisable to Link and Midna.
“Ganon,” the hero said, as though answering a question only he could hear. “We need to get going,” he added to
, “If there is anywhere you can go, a secret hideout or anything, then go now. Don’t worry about Ilia or any of us. Just run.” Meridian
Without another word, the Twili dashed away from the group, as
’s cries of pain rang out again, this time louder and nearer. Arden
“We need to get out of here!” Midna exclaimed.
“But how?” Link asked, “Surely there must be some way we can get back to Hyrule without having to rely on Ganondorf’s magic.”
“What did he do when he passed through here as a ghost?” Zelda asked in a slightly dazed voice.
“He tapped into the Twilight magic and formed a portal using it,” Midna replied, “Or rather, he got some of our best magicians to do it for him.”
“Then you must surely be able to do that as well,” Link remarked.
“I could, but who knows how long it will take.”
could be seen clumsily running towards them. One of his front legs was clearly limp, but he set a good pace by gliding as he ran. A bulky shadow lumbered behind him, snorting and grunting angrily. Arden
“I’ll deal with Ganon,” Link said decisively, “Midna, you try and create a portal to Hyrule the way you described as fast as you can.”
“I’ll help her with my own magic,” Zelda volunteered.
“No you won’t!” The hero sounded almost aghast at the suggestion.
“I’m fine,” the princess insisted, taking her hand off Midna’s shoulder and standing on her own, “See?”
had reached the group and collapsed in a spot behind them. A large gash could be seen on his leg, with thick, dark crimson blood trickling down it. But it was the arrival of Arden ’s pursuer that brought Link and Zelda’s argument to a halt. A colossal, brutish boar was hurtling towards them. Its body was covered in black fur, except for the shock of red hair on its head. If Ganondorf had any humanity in him, it was completely gone from the eyes of the swine. One of its giant tusks was tipped with blood from where it had impaled Arden . Arden
Link sheathed his sword, bared his teeth, and charged straight at the monstrosity, transforming mid-run.
As she hung back away from the chaos around her, Ilia slumped down against a wall and tried to reflect on what had happened to her so far. Ever since she was brought into the Twilight, she had met the Dark Lord in person and found herself locked in the gloomy dungeons. She had fallen asleep some time after speaking with
, and had woken to find herself sitting the shadows she had been advised to avoid. Meridian
A long time after she had woken, she had been dragged into another room and left there with only a horde of disfigured monsters for company. And then a while after that, Link had arrived. Only, she couldn’t be sure if it was really him or some kind of illusion.
She suspected something was up when she realised that she could almost see right through him. But he looked and acted like Link, and she couldn’t see any other means of escape. What did that tall woman, Midna, say, she tried to remember. That she was vanishing from their vision and that they, in turn, were vanishing from hers. Was that what the Twilight did, she pondered briefly.
Their brief encounter with
had cheered her up, even though she too appeared to be becoming transparent once her curse had been removed. Ilia had been worried about what Ganondorf had done to her, but Link had been able to fix it. Can he fix what’s happening to me as well, she thought despondently, or am I stuck like this forever? Meridian
She tried to think of happier thoughts of Ordon, her father, and her friends. Link had said that he and the two women were going to help bring her back home.
Ilia looked up at the women, who were skilfully trying to manipulate the strong magic in the air. She didn’t know what to think about Midna, but she was sure in her mind that Zelda, when she did not carry any visible injuries, must be one of the most beautiful people she had ever seen. Despite the various blows to her head and body, she still seemed to possess a very dignified air about her. But then, Ilia didn’t see much of the world outside Ordon, so who was she to judge?
She then turned to face the dragon-like creature lying next to her. She had seen it defeat many of the monsters they had encountered, and felt sorry that it had ended up in the state it was in now. Gingerly, she stroked the back of a finger against its scales, ready to move back if it tried to bite her. But, much to her amazement, it did not object. Instead, it closed its eyes in relaxation and crooned contentedly.
As she stroked
’s scales, Ilia watched the heated battle between wolf and boar. Link was hanging onto Ganon by gripping his hair with his fangs, while the pig retaliated by vigorously shaking his body. Ilia grimaced as she observed the feral behaviour in her friend. She had seen it when she watched him fight the dragon, and many more times after that in her nightmares. She thought about Arden again, and remembered what she had called Link. Meridian
“The Divine Beast,” she said aloud to herself.
glanced between Ilia and the wolf and snorted arrogantly. Ilia smiled and chuckled at the creature’s reaction. Arden
’s kind worship him?” she wondered. Meridian
The roar that answered her sounded like a mocking laugh. Evidently, the beast didn’t think much of the hero.
Ilia heard Link yelp, the cry’s echoes making it sound louder that it really was, and saw that he was now lying rather uncomfortably across the curve of the wild boar’s tusks. He twisted his head and body forcefully and fastened his jaws onto his opponent’s nose. Ganon’s deep squeal nearly deafened everyone, and he reared up in pain, the determined wolf hanging on for dear life.
Link glared at Ganon in the eye as he pressed his teeth further into his flesh. His paws hung limp, allowing him to push all his strength into the bite.
“That Ordon girl of yours is terrified of you, you know,” the boar growled. His voice sounded even more cruel and menacing than in his human form. “My spies heard her talking about you in the forest, boy! And do you know what she said? You’re just a stranger to her now. No, actually. It was worse than that. You’re a monster!
“I saw the look on her face when you transformed just then. She was petrified! Why do you bother with her when you clearly frighten her so?”
You just keeping talking, Link thought, and I’ll just keep biting. You’ll never get me to let go this way.
Ganon winced as the teeth dug ever so slightly further into his snout. With a guttural roar, he swung his head to one side and smashed it face-first into the nearest wall. His tusks’ impact on the structure was enough to startle Link, who let go of his grip and fell firmly to the floor.
“Link! Come on!” Midna yelled, stood beside a small, but functioning portal. She sounded tired. “I can’t keep it open for long!”
The wolf glanced over to the swirling mass of white light. He ducked and crawled under Ganon’s tusks as the boar tried to crush him against the wall. Once he was free, he darted into the portal as fast as he could.
For a moment, the light enveloped him, blocking all of his senses. Then, as soon as it has appeared, it vanished, and Link landed into a pool of cold water. He walked away from the portal to allow Midna room to arrive and looked around at his new surroundings.
It was still dark, but it was the starlit dark of night rather than the ominous dark of the Twilight. Once the vortex disappeared, it appeared even darker, but that didn’t bother him. Sniffing around, he found Zelda and Ilia sitting near the pool’s edge, while
was lying in the water, submerging his injured leg. It took the wolf a short moment to realise that they had arrived in the Ordona spring. Arden
The fairies were hovering excitedly around Arden, who snapped at them in annoyance. Link could hear him yelling at them to leave him alone. When they refused to leave, he quickly trapped one in his mouth. A second later and he had gulped the fairy down.
Link didn’t know whether to be amused or horrified, so he studied his own reflection to take his mind off it. The scratches he had received from the Moblin looked less visible, and he could see that his teeth were again stained with blood. He drank some of the water and tried to rinse his mouth out before trotting towards the women.
Ilia, who had regained her solid form after leaving the Twilight, held back a gasp as the wolf approached her. Immediately, the beast stopped moving and observed her closely. Ilia took in his features more carefully, and could see, beyond the wet nose, sharp teeth, and furred face, the familiarity of her childhood friend.
She relaxed and allowed him to walk even closer. Once he was stood directly in front of her, she cautiously raised a hand and rested it on his head. Link whined happily as Ilia stroked his soft fur, and she seemed to pick up on that and smiled as well. It was a small smile, but it lifted his spirits as he saw it.
“Ganondorf’s not going to follow us, is he?” Ilia asked the group nervously.
“Well, I doubt he’ll follow us here,” Midna replied, “You OK, Zelda?” she added to the princess, who was holding her head in a hand as though keeping it steady.
“I’ll live,” she answered, sounding better than she previously had, “Which is more than I can say for the loyal wolf!” She rounded on Link. “I can’t believe you actually did leave on your own! You know Dad’s absolutely livid about that, don’t you?”
“You’re not going to make a habit of this, are you?” Midna asked darkly.
Link growled at the two princesses, but made no other attempt at responding.
“I’m just saying,” the Twili continued, “it’s not the first time you’ve abandoned one set of people who trusted you to help another, is it?”
Now Link’s growls had deepened and he adopted a defensive stance. Neither Ilia nor Zelda said a word.
“Listen, pup,” Midna said sternly, “Zelda and I are going back to the castle. The longer we stay gone, the more worried and angry His Royal Shoutiness will get. I for one don’t want to push my luck with him any further.
“You do what you have to do with your girl. Take her back home and make peace with her or whatever, but you must also decide where your allegiance lies.”
“Don’t you think you’re being a bit harsh?” Zelda asked.
“You want him to keep running off like he did today?” the Twili responded indignantly. Turning back to Link, she said, “Do you understand me?”
The wolf slowly stopped growling and whined in acknowledgement.
“Good,” the Twili sounded satisfied enough. “Come here,
!” she called to her steed. Once she and Zelda were comfortably seated on his back, the Aquamentus trotted as briskly as he could before launching into the air. Arden
“Come on, Ilia. Let’s get you back home,” Link said solemnly.
Ilia made a little scream when she heard his voice. She had been too busy watching
disappear into the sky to notice that her friend had resumed his human form. Arden
“You’re not going to get over this, are you?” Link commented as he helped the girl to her feet.
“Well, I… I don’t know,” Ilia felt like she was being interrogated by Ganondorf again.
“Do you really think I’m a monster?” Link’s question was barely audible, and his voice cracked a little as he spoke.
Ilia shyly looked away before walking past him in the direction of the village.
“Well, it doesn’t matter, anyway,” the hero said, jogging up to her, “I won’t be able to scare you since I can’t stay in Ordon anymore. I vowed to protect Hyrule and its Royal Family, and I can’t afford to abandon them again like I did today.”
“Those monsters,” Ilia suddenly said in a serious tone, “you killed them.”
“Yes, I did.”
“Did they all come from Meridian’s people? Would you have killed
if you couldn’t help her?” Meridian
“She was lucky,” Link answered slowly, trying to form the correct words in his mind, “The others weren’t. As well as changing their bodies, Ganondorf changes their minds. Whatever… humanity or compassion they may have had was gone. If I did anything wrong in killing them, I’m sure Midna, the tall one, would have said something to me.”
“What about you, Link?” Ilia asked, “What happens to your humanity and compassion when you become that… animal?”
“Nothing.” Link’s voice was quiet, yet sincere, “I may be a bit more aggressive than usual, but you don’t have anything to fear from me. You know that. You just stroked my fur earlier. That must mean something.”
Ilia walked on, stopping in front of Link’s house near the outskirts of the village. Link again jogged after her.
“Ilia,” he said, “before you go, I need you to promise me something.”
“You must never tell anyone what you saw and what you know. Please. Your father knows you were taken into the Twilight Realm, but that’s all. No one here knows about the Twili, that’s the name of Midna and
’s race, and above all, no one else here knows about my… talent.” Meridian
“I promise,” Ilia whispered after a short pause. She ran a finger along one of the scars on her friend’s face, which served to enhance the animal-like look to his eyes. “I’ll miss you,” she added, tears welling up in her eyes.
“I’ll miss you, too. And so will Epona,” Link whispered back, bringing his friend into a tight hug. For that short, blissful moment, everything felt just the way it had in the past.
Link released Ilia and watched her take a few steps towards
before turning to leave himself. Ordon Village
Ilia heard an unusual shuffle as she reached the gates and turned around just in time to see a dark green tail disappear into the foliage. For the first time since she discovered her childhood friend’s secret, she didn’t gasp or scream.
“May the fires of Din, the love of Nayru, and the winds of Farore protect you, heroic wolf.”
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