Disclaimer: I do not own the Legend of Zelda or related characters and concepts. I am seeking no profit from this. Call and Betsy belong to me, though. Tommy’s here in honor of a real life horse I know.
“Git on, Tommy, we are not far, click-click!”
The dull-red horse with the white diamond on his forehead plodded along, pulling the covered wagon. He was an old but strong gelding, still strong enough to, on his own, pull a cart carrying two Hylians and their wares.
looked to the sky, letting the reins in his hands go slack. “Sky’s strange,” he said, “dark, like it’s gonna storm, but the air feels dry.” Taylor
“It feels like sunset,” his wife, Betsy, beside him answered, “but it’s barely even .” She checked a pocket watch just to be sure.
“I wonder if the village has changed much since we visited last,” Call commented. The wagon rolled over the great southern expanse of Hyrule Field. The thick treeline of the Faron Woods was on the horizon. “Their kids will be needin’ new clothes for sure – you know how youth are with growth-spurts.”
Call and Betsy were, by trade, as their surname denoted, tailors. Their little cart carried all manner of fabrics, wrapped up in bolts, plus needles, threads and other supplies. They even carried a sewing machine, powered by a foot pedal. The couple had thought of phasing that part out of the traveling part of their business until they could get a younger horse or a pair of oxen - for all its iron parts were quite heavy and taxing upon their single cart-animal.
The pair was headed to
– a part of their regular route when they left Ordon Village to make rounds to the small settlements. They visited twice a year – in the Fall to sell winter clothing and in late Spring to offer the villagers fresh summer clothes and make repairs to anything they couldn’t take care of themselves. Spring – which it was now – was also the time to trade with the village for wool. Betsy was an expert weaver and favored the fine wool of Ordon’s handsome blue goats over all the other animal-grown materials in Hyrule. Castle Town
“If a storm’s coming, we should try to beat it. We can stay at the entrance of the old
, if need be,” Betsy said. Forest Temple
Call encouraged Tommy to quicken his pace. “I still say the air’s too dry. Probably just overcast, it will pass.”
“It will be a delight to see the village again. Such a nice little community,” Betty said, “And the children…”
Her husband smiled and rubbed at his scratchy salt-and-pepper beard. In some ways, he and his wife lived vicariously through their customers. They had been married since they were in their late teens but had never had any children – despite all the prayers to Farore for new life and despite all the offerings they’d left at the various spirits’ springs. Spells and medicines had not helped either. A wise old woman who’d traded in herbs had told them that they should just enjoy life as they were – and so they did. The
thus considered all the children of their relatives, friends and customers to be their children, as well. Instead of the one, two or three young ones most families had, in their own way, they had close to one-hundred, each face and constantly changing measurements remembered. Taylors
Call sighed and spared a thought for the kids of
. The youngest had the strangest stare and often rudely asked him how much money he made as a tailor. As soon has he’d been able to talk, that one had spoken with an articulation beyond his years. His older brother was a mischief-maker. The last time they’d come to the village, he’d asked for a ghost costume so he could scare the local monkeys or something, but his mother wouldn’t allow it. There was a pretty little girl who was on the cusp of her teen years and she liked all of the shinier, finer fabrics in his collection. She’d asked him and Betsy every time for a “princess dress” but her parents insisted upon practical clothing that wouldn’t cost too much to get dirty and would be easy to repair if torn. Ordon Village
There was the son of the village’s smith and swordsman. Call could barely believe that the child was the son of an ex-soldier for the crown as the boy was such a timid thing. He often hid behind the man or his mother when Call approached him. He was a bit of a momma’s-boy, perhaps, and perhaps, in time, some of his father would come forth in him. There was another pretty girl in the village – a teenager now – who requested simple fabrics and designs that would allow her to work with the village livestock and to ride the village horse (truly, Ordon Village was a one-horse-town).
The horse belonged to a young herdsman, the eldest of the village’s children – pretty much a young man now. From his distant position, Call had watched him grow up. The man remembered the Spring he and Betsy had come to the little town after one of the harshest winters in the region to learn that nearly half the village had died of a terrible sickness, including both that boy’s parents. It had left him the only Hylian in the village (for
was a village of humans – with their rounded ears. The Hylian sub-race stayed mostly to central Hyrule, not the outlying areas). The village swordsman had taken the kid in and eventually, the boy had decided to “earn his keep” by learning the goat-herding trade. Ordon Village
That one had a way with animals that was amazing. He was very helpful, too, always being the first to offer help to Call and Betsy in unloading things. He’d pet and speak to Tommy softly; keeping him calm and making sure he was happily stabled. He was a very quiet boy, but straightforward and bold when he had something important to say. Upon their last visit to the village, Call had watched him wrestle a loose goat to the ground. The beast simply got up and walked back to its paddock in understanding that it had been bested. It was the most amazing thing the tailor had ever seen.
The village swordsman had told him that Link – Link was the boy’s name, would stroke and soothe a goat chosen for slaughter when the village needed meat, but was never called upon to do the killing himself. He was a brave boy, but also kind and none of the village wanted to ask him to do something that would diminish his kindness. Call had learned that the kid had been learning how to use a sword out of a desire to protect the town… The tailor hoped he’d never have to use one against anything living. It just didn’t seem right for such a sweet kid. He’d taught Link how to do a lot of different kinds of clothing repairs. In his herding job, it was something he needed to know. Twice-annual visits just weren’t sufficient.
Call wondered how the head swordsman’s wife was doing with her pregnancy. It was something she’d just learned about when he and Betsy had last visited. She would probably need new dresses. Baby-clothes would definitely be a part of the order. The wagon neared a chasm and crossed a wooden bridge. Call noticed his wife’s silence. Tommy suddenly halted and stood still, his ears pointed forward. Betsy pointed at something approaching them… a pair of somethings approaching them. They were black and moved across the horizon in a shamble or a crawl – a method of movement that was definitively perverse, unnatural.
In an instant, Tommy whinnied and reared up. He bucked and the wagon bucked with him. His harness broke. Call yanked on the reins hard but was pulled from the wagon seat and was dragged, in a standing position, in the dirt.
“Tommy! Tommy!” he shouted, trying to get control of his beast while bracing himself and digging the heels of his boots into the earth. The reins rubbed his hands raw as the horse surged forward, breaking free. Its frightened whinny was cut off as, suddenly, it was thrown to the ground by a huge black hand. The gelding skidded sideways in the dust and did not rise. Betsy screamed as a pair of black hands – these ones belonging to a different entity, crashed down atop the wagon, crumpling its canvas and sending bolts of colorful fabric spiraling, leaving trails behind them that might have looked graceful if anyone around had been capable of noticing grace at the time.
Call’s heart was pounding quickly. He looked around desperately. Two giant black…things… crouched around them. If they had not been wearing bizarre masks – the likes of which the humble tailor had never before seen - he would have been sure they’d been eying them the same way a pack of wolves eyed injured deer. This situation was even worse – this stag had no antlers with which to defend himself or his doe. Call didn’t carry a sword, or even so much as a bow with arrows. He and his wife were just humble people…
“Run!” he cried, jumping between her fear-frozen form and a hulking black beast. He heard her feet shift in the dirt as she darted. Not knowing what else to do, he grabbed up a fallen fabric bolt and threw it at the creature. “Go on! Git!” he screamed at it.
A great black palm came for him. Before he knew it, Call felt himself being lifted up off the ground. Long, gruesome fingers pressed in on his windpipe and down on the back of his neck. He could feel them grinding against his vertebrae. He gagged and clawed at the offending hand with his own with the desperation of caught wild animal. His legs flailed uselessly and he could not get enough of the black beast’s flesh near his mouth to bite it.
Call felt strange and weak. He supposed he was blacking out, but there was something that told him that more was going on. He could feel a “darkness” seeping into the pores of his skin, like his body was being invaded by an evil presence. It hurt. The pressure on the back of his neck increased. He did not know if he felt his neck snap or if it was something else. It took a lot of strength to break a neck. He could feel all of his muscles straining against his bones. His limbs felt like they were… growing? Darkness cemented itself over his eyes, yet he could see everything before him. His head felt heavy, as if something large were being worn on it, trapped there, fused to his skin. That was when Call noticed that he was free.
He heard Tommy whinny brokenly and whicker softly. Oh, gods, the poor horse was still alive! He looked around himself. He heard echoes in his mind, thoughts not his own.
Must feed… destroy… can do…nothing else. Not free. Obey… we must obey.
The black beasts stared at him. He stared back and found that he was as tall as they are, meeting them face-to-face. Call glanced down at his arms. To his horror, they were black and covered in patterns. He was shambling, perversely just like they were, following scents and screams. Betsy stood next to Tommy, close to the edge of the chasm.
What happened? Call asked, unable to speak, sending the echoes of his mind into the aether.
One of us now. No choice.
Who are you?
Otherland. We are from the Otherland…the Twilight. Hunger… conquest.
Call felt stirrings within him. He wanted to destroy – an inexplicable desire. He looked upon his fallen horse and ached for nothing more than to rip the animal open and watch its blood and entrails spill out onto the ground. He also felt a strange fealty to someone, and got a vision in his mind of someone he’d never met, a great king. Were the beasts conveying this image to him?
He was shambling towards Betsy. No…no…. he was still human enough to not want to hurt her. The other beasts were not. He wanted to stop, but felt his new feet carrying him forward. Tommy raised his head weakly and whinnied again. There was, perhaps, no more horrifying sound to Call than the squealing of a dying horse.
“Call…Call…” Betsy lamented, shivering.
Call tried to speak, to tell her to flee, but all that came out of whatever excuse he had for a mouth now was a horrible screech. He could not explain it, but his limbs ached to grab her up and tear her to pieces. His tongue longed for the taste of her blood. He could smell it through her skin along with her sweat and salt. From where did these horrible feelings come? He could sense the same lust among the other two black beasts. He knew that if he caught his wife, he would not make her one of them – she would not be transformed as he had been. No… she would become food.
Betsy looked to him, then to the cliff face and the chasm. “Goodbye, love,” she said before she jumped.
Call shambled to the edge and looked down. Her body lay below, broken upon the rocks. It had been quick – he could tell himself that, at least, even as his new muscles ached for flesh. He heard juicy sounds behind him and quickly joined his new comrades in devouring old Tommy.
The three beasts shuffled toward the forest, driven by something unexplainable. Call could hear the echoes of orders in his head – something about snuffing out light. He found the light through the clouds above him to be horrible and piercing. It seemed that the land itself darkened as they shambled. Plants and animals they passed by took on dark forms, covered in strange designs similar to that which draped Call’s new body. Animals that managed to keep their distance became spectral in nature – little flames of spirit.
It was not easy to wrestle the lemur-like spirit of Faron into submission. His terrible piercing light was swallowed up by magical entities that the black beasts produced. They resembled insects and scattered with the light, leaving the spirit helpless. A darkness like the hour of sunset settled comfortably over the land. Black magic rained down from the shifting clouds above.
So much for beating the storm. Call was a part of it. This was now the new king’s land and it was destined to grow.
! Were they destined to go there? Call’s heart clenched – it seemed that he still had one. He was stained in blood, but was still largely aware of himself, mourning his wife and fearing for the villagers. There was no way to warn them, was there? How many of them would he murder? Devour? How many of them would he and the two from the Otherland kill? How many would become monsters like they were? Ordon Village
Would he kill the timid little swordsman’s son first? Call shook his now great head, trying to dislodge the thought. A scent caught his attention, as well as the attention of the other cursed beings. It was a doggy-scent, musky.
Out of nowhere, a wolf came for his throat. The pain of teeth tearing past his skin was searing, but it was over quickly and Call found himself on the ground. He could not move, but somehow, he was not dead – not fully. As he “hovered” he noticed the flash of the wolf’s paws past him. He could have sworn he saw spectral human feet clad in sandals.
Call heard a call – a roar, a shriek. It brought strength to him and beckoned him to his feet. The little wolf stood before them, panting and looking exhausted and injured. Wounds glistened on its sides, blood matted in the fur.
The canine blood smelled delicious.
A creature floated in from the shadows and landed upon the wolf’s back. Call could sense power from it, although it was small. It appeared to be a tiny demon of some sort and had shapely feminine hips. What he sensed from it, however, did not feel demonic. He got a good look at the one eye that was visible beneath the helmet it wore as it harshly grabbed the wolf by the ear and whispered into it. That imp was like himself – a being trapped in a form not its own. Call did not know how he knew this. It was like the echoes in his mind of the thoughts of his fellow black beasts.
The wolf came for him again, but he grabbed it. How easily did his fingernails (or were they claws now?) slip past the animals’ thick fur and into its skin… Its muscles felt slick like butter and the creature whimpered. The canine broke free and stood on the ground determination in its (blue?) eyes. The imp on its back spread out her arms. Energy swirled around them both. It swirled around the black beasts. It swirled around Call as he approached, his new instincts eager to finish what he had started.
The wolf jumped. Quick agony ripped through his throat again. The slick feel of blood – his blood upon his skin, and air hissing through his torn windpipe. The ground again, then, something else…
It felt so warm, so inviting. Light. Light was upon his back. It wasn’t the kind of light that is seen by the eye, but something else entirely. He heard voices as if through water, including his wife’s saying “Call! Call!”
Time was irrelevant. Things that should have taken time were happening all at once, yet everything was still. Was this what dying felt like? Was he dead – really, truly dead and not just awaiting a shriek that would bring him back to his feet, intent on murder once again?
Call saw the two other black beasts upon the ground. What appeared to be spirits were rising from them. They were not draped in the light that draped him, but in something milder – a soft gloaming… twilight, but of a benevolent sort, different than what was enveloping the forest. The spirits looked straight at him. They were strange looking – almost human, almost Zora-like with big eyes and smooth features. The spirits did not match the bodies of the beasts at all.
He saw his own hands in front of him – his own Hylian hands, whitish and spectral. He was ascending, but not immediately.
He looked toward the wolf and the imp and was utterly surprised. He could see the spirits of them both, and neither of them matched their bodies. The imp’s form was that of a stately young woman. She bore some resemblance to the spirits of the black beasts, but had features that were more defined. She looked regal and refined. The wolf’s soul gave him an even bigger shock. His was the soul of a young Hylian dressed in the clothing style preferred by the villagers of Ordon. Call knew this soul.
I was killed by that kind young man? He thought.
He was drawn into the warmth and the light… to mercy and to freedom.
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