The footsteps resonated on the marble floor of the throne room. They echoed across the land, far from North Castle. On his knees, he looked up and saw the man approaching. Behind the tall figure the sight was beautiful, but at the same time, heartbreaking. The sun was beginning to rise in the horizon. The young man shut his eyes tight, feeling warmth run down his cheeks. His whole body aching. Trying to understand how he had let all come to this.
* * *
Raúl had not slept, but he was as alert as he was when Captain Krin dispatched them to their posts. The briefing had been as short as it had been shocking. There wasn't much to explain anyway, but Krin had made sure everyone got it very clear. Every guard now had his eyes wide open. For the millionth time, the guard made sure his gear was complete and in place. He moved his arms slightly, making his armour rattle. Someone whispered from his right. He turned to see another guard putting his finger on his lips. He turned to his left and another of his fellows pointed at him and then ran his finger across his throat. Raúl sighed and shook his head smiling. Turning his attention back in front of him his heart almost stopped as he saw of a number of shining objects flying right towards him. He instinctively raised his shield but instead of the sound of arrows whipping past or hitting metal, he heard and saw something entirely different. A group of fairies flew past him as a lightning, leaving a trail of shiny sparkles and that distinctive magical sound. "Whoa!” Raúl managed as he saw the fairies fly away. Once again he turned his head to his friends and his eyes went even wider. A fairy was hovering before his friend's face and then flew away after a few seconds, towards the same direction the others had went. As he lowered his shield, he was startled yet again as he discovered one of these magical beings right in front of him. Raúl stared in awe as he saw light radiating from within the fairy's body.
"Get ready!" Raúl heard. He couldn't tell if the voice was male or female though. An instant later, this fairy was flying into the darkness too, behind the others.
After a few seconds, Raúl exchanged questioning looks with the nearest guards. He figured they'd all got the same cryptic message. But after a few seconds it dawned on everyone. Fairies were to be trusted. And they were on their way to North Castle, most likely to deliver the same warning: They were coming.
* * *
She spotted them as soon as they exited the forest. Had it been some other time, she would have smiled, but instead, her heart sank. She looked up to her left. He was on the balcony of his room as well, looking down to hers. Brandon and Liah looked at each other with grief. Not for a long time, because he dashed into his room. She swallowed and reached for the handrail to keep balance; she suddenly felt sick. She took her Triforce pendant firmly in her hands and prayed to the Goddesses for the sake of Hyrule. She prayed in vain.
Upon reaching the castle walls, the fairies headed to different directions. Among them was Kirsty, who flew directly towards Brandon's tower and into his room. He wasn't there, and neither was his sword. The door had been left open. She then hovered down to Liah's tower. The Princess was still there, whispering a desperate pray when she noticed Kirsty. The fairy landed on the handrail and her shine dimmed.
"Liah..." Kirsty’s voice was breathless.
"I know", her voice was barely audible.
For a moment, neither spoke. They were mad at each other for reasons they didn't remember now. A couple of days ago they had argued for some stupid reason again. Now it didn't matter.
"Liah, we must act now!" Kirsty said softly, yet urging.
"Yes…" Liah answered vaguely. "Yes," she added, with more confidence now, "let's go." Then they went into her room.
Kirsty’s friends had gone to see the King, Impa Captain Krin and the healers. They all needed to be ready.
* * *
The soldiers barely had a couple of seconds to draw their swords. As soon as the fairies disappeared, they heard a vicious war cry that sent chills down Raúl’s spine. They were all well trained, but they couldn’t help but feel intimidated at the sheer number of moblins and lizalfos coming towards them. Raúl was in shock. They are too many! And then the brawl began.
As the first of uncountable foes approached, the guard felt his partners had come to their senses too late. Raúl crashed his shield on the moblin’s dog face at the same time he heard the guard on his left cry in agony. He didn’t have time to register it though; another moblin attacked immediately. And then another. And then another. All around him, all Raúl could hear was metal hitting metal, moblins crying, guards yelling, lizalfos hissing, bodies falling. It was deafening. A rock fell from the skies right between him and the lizalfo in turn, they both turned their heads up and another rock crushed the lizard’s snout, knocking the animal out. “Scrubs!” Someone yelled. Great! Raúl knew it meant more trouble than help. They were attacking both sides.
Monsters kept coming, but Raúl didn’t stop fighting. However, when he had a couple of seconds to breath, he quickly scanned the nearby area and he lost every bit of hope. I’m alone… Turning around, everything he could see was monsters. Monsters going the same direction the fairies had gone. Seeing everything as in slow motion, he realised he was the only one left trying to stop them. He noticed he wasn’t even being attacked. They were ignoring him. “Argh!” A rock hit Raúl hard on his right shoulder, making him drop his sword and lose his balance. Taking two steps forward trying not to fall, he came in the way of a passing lizalfo, bumping into him. His world span and he fell on his back. He instinctively tried to get up, but another lizard stepped on his face as it strode by.
They’re way too many. We were completely unprepared. The castle guard is unprepared. It only took an instant for Raúl to realise this was not a simple attack to the castle. One among many the castle guard had effectively fought off. No. This was different. The monsters were showing a distinctive resolution, unusual in them. After being stepped on a couple of times more, Raúl was almost passing out when he heard something. He felt a sharp pain in his neck as he turned his head to his left and saw a pair of black horse legs. He looked up and had to blink to make sure his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him. Impossible! A pair of red eyes gazed fiercely down to him. But surprise and disbelief were instantly taken over by sheer terror when it finally dawned on him. The man on the black stallion breathed in deeply, closing his eyes, almost as if he could smell Raúl’s fear. Almost as if he could taste it. The guard’s hand groped the ground, trying to reach his sword. The man chuckled to himself.
“You really think you can do anything in that state?” His lips twisted in a mocking grin. He stretched his left arm out and opened his hand. Raúl felt the hilt of his sword all of a sudden. “There you go.” the man said, “Now do something.” he commanded. Raúl couldn’t even lift his own sword.
“You will never… defeat…” Raúl’s voice was trembling with fear. The last of the moblins had already run by.
“That’s where you’re all wrong. Pathetic Hylians. But you have paved your way to extinction with you overconfidence…” Raúl saw him stretch his hand again and he felt his sword being snatched away from his hand. His weapon hovered in the air, pointing threatening at him, inches above his chest. “… And this will be your end.” the man declared. And mercilessly, cold blooded, he slowly made Raúl’s sword go down.
“No!” Raúl managed to whisper. As he felt the tip of the weapon sink in, his breathing quickened and he looked up into the man’s eyes with a fear he hadn’t even dreamt he could feel. Immobile, he could only stare in shock as the sword slowly pierced into his chest. The pain was such, he couldn’t even scream. Soon, he couldn’t breathe anymore. The man looked down with satisfaction. Then, without saying a word, he slowly rode away. Leaving Raúl there to die.
Lying on the grass, alone, shivering, the young Hylian guard felt an unbearable sadness invading his heart, overrunning the physical pain. It all had happened so fast. Closing his eyes, Raúl cried until he exhaled his last breath.
* * *
Brandon came into Liah’s room just when she and Kirsty were about to go out.
“Brandon!” Liah gasped
“Liah! I’m taking you to the atic,” Brandon took her hand, “you stay there until…”
“No!” the Princess interrupted, yanking her hand from his, “I’m not hiding away!”
“What?” he looked at her for a couple of seconds, a bit surprised by her reaction, “No! I need you to be in a safe place!” he took her hand again.
“I’m not hiding away while you’re all fighting outside!” She said as she was being dragged along by him. “Brandon, let me go!”
The hero was not listening; the only thing he could think of was taking Liah to the attic, where he thought she could be safe in case some monster found his way into the castle. Kirsty, on the other hand, understood Liah’s feelings. Being a fairy princess herself, she felt compelled to serve her people, her land and, most of all, her friends by helping them, at least by warning them about the incoming.
“Brandon,” the fairy said, “Liah’s magic is powerful. Nayru’s essence dwells within her soul, just as Farore’s lives in yours!”
Brandon stopped in his tracks and eyed Kirsty with anger, although he knew she had a point. Liah pulled her hand away yet again.
“Don’t you see?” Kirsty continued, “Courage and Wisdom are more powerful together!”
“And I’m not a girl anymore!” the Princess added. Brandon shook his head.
“Don’t you understand?” Brandon said desperately.
“Understand what?” challenged Liah.
“I don’t want them to hurt you! If I…” he hesitated, “if something happened to you, I…”
Princess Liah’s look turned from anger to one of confusion. What are you trying to tell me?
Kirsty couldn’t believe it. Years of trying to find a way and he tells her now?
“Brandon?” the Princess pressed. Brandon took her hands taking a step forward. They were face to face now. Liah looked up at him and recognised his look as the one she sometimes found in his eyes when he was looking at her. The one that made her blush every time and made her wonder about his feelings for her, while making hers for him boil. The very same one that was making her whole body shake right now.
“Liah, I love you.” years of planning a way, and there it was. He simply said it. “I have loved you since the moment we first met, and I swore to protect you with my life if necessary. I will love you forever and I will keep that promise until I die.”
Almost by magnetism, bringing their bodies even closer, they kissed. And, for a moment, nothing else mattered. Time seemed to stop for them. They gave in to one another. Liah’s lips made him feel loved. Brandon’s arms made her feel protected. And they knew they would love each other forever, no matter what. They looked at each other after a couple of seconds.
“I love you too, Brandon. I’m sorry I took so long to realise, no, accept…” Brandon hugged her tightly, making her feel it was okay. There was nothing to explain.
A shriek made the three of them come back to reality. Kirsty’s face went pale.
“That was inside!” the fairy said, alarmed. She immediately darted downstairs, leaving Brandon and Liah alone.
“Please go to your room!” Brandon shouted and rushed downstairs. Liah didn’t have any intention of letting him fight alone.
Brandon didn’t want to say anything; Liah didn’t seem to have noticed, but he thought that had been her mother screaming. Queen Juliet was in the Debate Room with King Justin and his personal adviser Ann Marie. Brandon didn’t want to imagine why the Queen had screamed, but obviously it wasn’t good news. Running across the alley between the Throne Room and the Great Hall, he suddenly felt a rumble beneath his feet and then he heard someone yelling with anger. The whole building seemed to shake as, somewhere on his right, a wall was blasted off.
What the hell is happening? Brandon went a few steps back and entered the Throne Room. It took Brandon a few seconds to register was he was looking at. The wall separating the Debate and Throne rooms had been destroyed and there, right at the bottom of the stairs leading to the throne, King Justin lied surrounded by debris. When he saw Brandon at the entrance, he stretched a pleading hand.
“Bran…” he tried, but a lightning from inside the Debate Room hit him with tremendous force, sending him across the floor to the other side of the room and across the other wall. Brandon couldn’t believe his eyes, but what was coming was even worse. Entering from the left, a man clad in black was laughing maniacally. He was so focused on the King that he didn’t noticed Brandon staring at him dumb struck. The huge man walked with self satisfaction up the stairs and sat proudly on the throne. That’s when he saw Brandon. His eyes shifted from the hero’s to the sword in Brandon’s hand.
“Molasar?!” Brandon muttered as if he had to pronounce his name to make himself accept he was looking at him.
“Welcome, hero.” Molasar said mockingly, “Are you here to die as well? You shouldn’t have bothered. Everyone in this castle will die when I turn it into ruins.”
Brandon shook his head, finally snapping out of it. He paced furiously towards Molasar. “Get off that chair, bastard!”
“You want a piece of me?” Molasar said, sanding up. A long sword materialized in his right hand. “Come and get me!”
Brandon leaped up the stairs, brandishing his sword. Molasar, having the higher ground calmly deflected the blow, but it gave Brandon enough time to get to a better position.
Princess Liah reached the bottom of her tower and saw the King lying under debris. “Father!” she knelt, feeling helpless. He was already dead. Turning to her right, he could see all the way through the Great Hall and into the room beyond. She heard the sound of swordfight in the next room. Wearily, she walked through the whole in the wall. What she saw made her blood run cold. Molasar! And yet, somehow, she expected it. She had been having weird dreams lately. Nightmares. Premonitions! Or at least that’s what Ann Marie had told Liah when she told the advisor about her dreams. And, in fact, Ann was trying to tell King Justin about it when the door was suddenly blasted away.
Liah saw Brandon take a step back and almost fall when his foot found the edge of a step. She gasped audibly, making both fighters turn their attention momentarily to hers.
“Get out!” Brandon shouted. Molasar saw his opportunity and threw his fist to Brandon’s face. Hard. The young Hylian hero was sent flying downstairs and hit the ground out cold.
“Brandon!” screamed Liah, running over to him.
“Listen to him, Princess.” The Gerudo prince said, “Don’t get in the way. There’s nothing you can do anyway.” Molasar approached and the Princess stood up menacing. As he saw her, he thought she really was beautiful. Stunning even, despite the situation. Molasar had every Gerudo women he could want, but none of them was quite like the princess. A change from desert women would be nice. Princess Liah was so beautiful, so refined in her features. She sensed the lust in Molasar’s eyes and recoiled in disgust. “I will let you live, Princess,” he said, walking past Brandon, “come with me. It would be such a waste.” He said with sincere remorse, looking down Liah’s waist. He raised a hand a touched her cheek. Liah slapped him on the face hard, scratching him with her nails.
“Don’t touch me again, you pig!” she hissed bitterly.
“Bitch!” Molasar growled. He lifted her by the neck, burying his own nails in her skin. “You’re coming with me whether you like it or not.” he pulled her face close to his so he could whisper to her ear, “And when you do, I will make you… Ungh!” Molasar felt a rather uncomfortable feeling. Looking down he saw Brandon’s sword protruding from within his stomach.
Brandon swung his shield right towards Molasar’s head. It hit with a sickening crack, sending him stumbling forward. He released Liah, who fell down taking her hands to her neck. Brandon pulled his sword out of Molasar’s back.
“Don’t ever dare to talk to her like that again!” Brandon growled. He looked at Liah, she was bleeding profusely. “You damned…!” He attacked Molasar full of anger, aiming at his neck. But to his surprise, Molasar stopped the blow with his bare hand and drew his elbow down to Brandon’s face.
Liah was suddenly filled with fear. As the fight developed before her, she felt something horrible. Molasar was tremendously powerful. Unusually powerful. He raised his right hand and a black energy ball started to materialize. Liah thought she heard people crying in agony as the dark sphere grew bigger and bigger. The Princess instinctively crawled away, trying to escape. The cries were deafening now and Liah felt a knot in her bleeding throat. Molasar seemed to use the force of suffering souls to build his power up. He raised his other arm, chanting something illegible. A black smoke suddenly filled the room and the whole castle rumbled. Liah kept crawling away. Suddenly she felt something in her hand. She looked down. It was her mother’s foot.
“Li… ah…” a weak voice said.
“Mother!” the girl promptly took her mother’s hand. She saw blood coming out of her mouth.
“I… love you… darling” Queen Juliet managed. She smiled sadly.
“Mother, no!” Liah begged, holding her. But the Queen had already gone.
Dust started to shower from the ceiling. Across the smoke and dust, Liah caught a glimpse of Brandon dashing towards Molasar, who suddenly screamed maniacally. And then her world span.
The huge dark sphere above Molasar exploded with such force it made Liah’s body hurt like never before. She screamed, but her voice was not even audible above the sound of rock being blasted away. The ground trembled wildly. Then her world went black.
When Brandon opened his eyes, he could see the sky. He felt softness beneath him and for a moment he thought he was hovering in midair. Am I dead? He tried to move and his whole body ached. What is this? Where am I? He heard footsteps.
“Behold! Your precious castle!” Molasar’s voice boomed.
Slowly, Brandon stood up and looked around. What he saw made him fall to his knees, astonished. The castle was completely gone. Where there used to be walls, paintings, columns, rooms, towers… There was nothing. Only a few pillar bases and crumbling walls remained. Brandon could not even see debris. Molasar had literally reduced the castle to dust. Everything was gone. Everything was lost. Molasar’s footsteps resonated on the marble floor of the throne room. They echoed across the land, far from North Castle. On his knees, Brandon looked up and saw the man approaching. Behind the tall figure the sight was beautiful, but at the same time, heartbreaking. The sun was beginning to rise in the horizon. The young man shut his eyes tight, feeling warmth run down his cheeks. His whole body aching. Trying to understand how he had let all come to this. He had failed. He had failed to protect Hyrule, the castle, the Princess.
Molasar looked down to Brandon and lifted him by his tunic. “Now, pitiful Hylian, die!”
Brandon gasped as he felt a sharp pain on his left side, all the way to his right side. He gripped Molasar’s neck, but the pain was unbearable. He lowered his hand to his back. Molasar had pierced his sword across his body. Brandon felt dizzy. He coughed and spat blood. Feeling death rapidly settling on him, he found what he was looking for. In a swift motion, Brandon unsheathed his dagger and buried it into Molasar’s neck, looking at him with anger. The Gerudo released him, stumbling back, all his power suddenly gone. He pulled out the dagger and blood poured out profusely.
Brandon could see Molasar dying and felt relieved. Using every last bit of energy in his body, he raised his hand and looked at the object in it. An amulet. He had heard of it before, but this was the first time he had seen it. Before this moment, he thought it was a myth, but now he saw it was very real. A golden and a silver snake forming an ellipse, biting each other’s tails. It was said to give its wearer the power of death and also over it. He slowly put the golden chain around his neck, and in an instant, all the pain he felt was gone. But the sudden recovery came with an overwhelming feeling of suffering. All the souls controlled by the amulet begged him for mercy. He quickly removed he sword from his side and took the amulet off, feeling better instantly. What a powerful artefact it was. And dangerous. But as Brandon dreaded the imposing power of the amulet, he also knew he now could bring everyone back from death. He headed for Liah first.
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