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Fanfiction Stray Thoughts II: Curse of Hyrule

Discussion in 'Literature Library' started by BZRich64, Jun 17, 2021.

  1. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachiod Machamp

    Broken Image Bird
    (Trumbeak)
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    I'm sorry it took so long but I'm finally back with the second entry in the The Legend of Zelda: Stray Thoughts series: Curse of Hyrule. If you haven't read the first part of this series, Whispers of Darkness, then I suggest reading it here so that you can understand what's going on in this one. Now, on to the story:
    Normally, Princess Zelda wouldn’t mind getting her feet wet. In fact, the sensation of walking barefoot through a puddle on a grassy field was something that she would enjoy under almost any other circumstances. However, wandering aimlessly around the flooded remains of Hyrule, the whole country torn asunder and left an almost unrecognizable ruin of its former state, was far from an enjoyable experience. The Crown Princess of Hyrule waded through the waist-deep floodwaters as she made her way across Hyrule Field in a desperate attempt to reach the castle on the horizon. Each step she took was heavier than the last and it wasn’t long before she couldn’t go any further. The water level continued to rise higher and higher up to her shoulders, while the fractured chunks of land shifted about violently.

    Eventually, the water passed over the girl’s head, while her feet remained anchored to the muddy ground. She held her breath for as long as she could while trying desperately to swim back up. A ground ruptured beneath her and Zelda fell into the endless depths below. Her eyes shut tightly as she reached the point where she could no longer hold her breath. It seemed to be the end until she felt a hand grab her firmly and begin to pull her back up, followed by another and another. Zelda could feel the air fill her lungs again as she was lifted out of the water. She couldn’t tell what was going on, however, as her eyes were still clamped tightly shut. She somehow knew that if she opened them, it would all be over, but she still needed to see who it was that had rescued her.

    She never did get to see who it was, however, because the moment she opened her eyes she was lying safely back in her bed staring at the familiar canopy overhead. Still shaken from the nightmare and surrounded by heavy curtains, Zelda felt alone, isolated from the world around her. She didn’t know for sure if what she had just seen was just a dream or a sign of what was to come.

    With a yawn, Zelda crawled out from under the sheets and pulled back one of the ornate curtains so that she could talk to the one person she knew would be able to help her sort things out. She then shut the curtains as quickly as she had opened them, her face turning bright red. The faithful yet aloof attendant that she had expected to have been there was nowhere to be seen. Instead, a familiar boy in a faded green tunic and cap was sitting quietly at a table tucked away in the far corner of the room, reading a book. The princess was quite flustered by this unexpected turn of events but relieved that the boy hadn’t looked up in time to catch a glimpse of her in nothing but her nightgown. Or at least, she hoped he hadn’t. She opened the curtains just a crack and looked out to see Link set the book down on the table.

    “W-where is Impa?” Zelda sputtered out the words, unable to keep her composure as well as she would have liked. “And what are you doing here? These are my private quarters, you know!”

    “I’m not sure,” Link replied with a shrug. “I was just told that she was going to be away for personal business and that I was supposed to guard you while she’s gone.”

    “Oh…” Zelda thought that it was strange that she hadn’t been told anything about this. “Alright, then. You… uh… didn’t see anything, did you?”

    “See what?”

    “Never mind…” Zelda let out a small sigh. “Just close your eyes for a few minutes while I get ready.”

    * * *​

    On the outskirts of the Gerudo Desert, an ancient fortress had been carved into the base of a mountain. For countless generations, this fortress served as the primary line of defense from which the Gerudo could defend themselves against invasions from Hyrule. One of the largest military encampments that the nomadic desert-dwellers had ever built, the Gerudo’s Fortress served as a testament to the long history of bloodshed between the two nations.

    But that history was over. Four years had passed since the peace treaty between the people of Hyrule and the Gerudo had been signed. Four years without any major incident. For the first time since the Fortress had been built, there was no need for its defenses. The area had been almost completely demilitarized in that time, with the Fortress itself now serving as a checkpoint for merchants and travelers venturing in and out of the desert, while the nearby archery range was now open for anyone to train their skills. Only the ancient Gerudo Training Grounds the fortress had been built atop remained unchanged, though passing the challenges that lied within were considered more ceremonial than practical.

    Deep within the old stone fortress, in a room lit only by torchlight, Ganondorf took a seat at the end of a long wooden table with a map of the desert covering most of its surface. For as long as Ganondorf had commanded his people as their king, he had used this room to strategize with his troops in the war against Hyrule. Now it generally served as a meeting hall to discuss diplomacy, and Ganondorf was loathe to see it return to its original purpose. But these were dire times for the Gerudo and something had to be done.

    Ganondorf stroked the red stubble of a beard he had recently begun to grow out as he examined the map before him. Figures representing his troops were positioned around it, representing the positions of his troops as they were stationed around the Gerudo Desert. His golden gaze laid transfixed on a lone piece placed in the center of the map; the piece which represented the King of Hyrule. Though Ganondorf was relieved that, at the very least, that was not who his current enemy was. He was merely reusing the old figure for the sake of convenience. In fact, the Kingdom of Hyrule would be aiding his forces in the coming battle.

    A knock at the door drew Ganondorf’s attention away from the map. “Enter.”

    The door opened and his second-in-command, Nabooru, was the first to enter, garbed in her usual white Gerudo clothing and her hair tied back in a large ponytail. She was followed by a pale, white-haired woman with piercing red eyes that marked her as a member of the Sheikah tribe, and a large, rotund but solidly-built Goron with a wild mane of hair. After the trio had each taken their places around the table, a second Gerudo woman entered the room and closed the door behind her. The general-turned-diplomat who was Nabooru had personally placed in charge of the fortress’ day-to-day operations took her seat at the opposite end of the table from Ganondorf, signaling that it was time to begin the meeting.

    “It is good to see you both again, Impa, Darunia,” Ganondorf nodded to the Sheikah and the Goron. “Though I do wish that this meeting could have been under better circumstances.”

    “Hey, any chance to fight side-by-side with all of you again sounds like a good time to me,” Darunia laughed jovially. “What is the occasion, anyway? Your messenger was pretty vague.”

    “I too would like to know more about the enemy that we will be facing,” Impa added. “I find it suspicious that you would send for us, specifically, rather than request Hyrule’s military aide through more formal means.”

    “Yes, I suppose that would seem odd,” Ganondorf agreed. “But with luck that won’t be necessary. You see, the monsters that dwell within our desert have been more active lately. At first, we didn’t think too much of it as they’ve mostly been staying away from populated areas, but then our scouts finally discovered what’s been causing them to be so restless lately.”

    “Let me guess, a bigger monster’s shown up and started controlling the small ones, so it's up to us to smash ‘em?” Darunia asked, slamming a fist into his open hand.

    “To put it simply, yes,” Ganondorf confirmed. “Normally we would just gather the strongest Gerudo warriors together to slay the beast ourselves but I fear that the monster may be too powerful for us to face alone. The reports that our scouts have sent in are a match for an ancient demon that appears in our old legends and I believe we all remember the last time we had to fight a demon.”

    A cold silence filled the air as memories of the battle against Vaati resurfaced, until Ganondorf continued.

    “I see why you wanted our help,” Darunia's jovial tone faded quickly. “But it wasn’t just the four of us last time. What about the others?”

    “I felt that it would be inappropriate to ask the children to risk their lives in another battle like this, and I don't know how to get in contact with the owl sage,” Ganondorf turned to Impa. “I was hoping that you would be able to help with that.”

    “I can summon Rauru if need be,” Impa nodded. “However, you still have not answered why you did not request military aid for this battle. Taking down a demon will be no easy task, especially when we do not have a weapon to fight it. The Master Sword remains sealed in the Sacred Realm, the Four Sword has not been seen since Vaati’s escape and even the Moon Pearl went missing in the aftermath of our battle. With the odds stacked again us, we should gather all the forces we can to fight the demon. I am sure that all the people of Hyrule would be willing to lend you their aide if they were to hear of this threat.”

    “I know, and that is exactly why I do not want word of this to spread,” Ganondorf replied. “I do not want word of this to spread. We don’t need to put more lives in danger than necessary. We made do with just a small group last time and I believe that we can do so again. That is why it will just be the four of us and a small band of hand-picked Gerudo warriors led by General Aviel.”

    “And here I was starting to think that I wasn’t a part of this conversation,” the green-clad woman joked. “But yeah, my girls and I are more than ready to back you up.”

    “What, you think I’m going to let you take all the fun?” Darunia returned to his cheerful disposition. “I’m going to round up some of my toughest Gorons to fight with us, too. We’re more than durable enough to stand up to whatever this so-called demon can throw at us.”

    “I insist on bringing some of the Sheikah under my command, as well,” Impa added. “They may not be trained to take on a foe like this but they will be able to fend off the smaller monsters that will no doubt try to come to the demon’s aide.”

    “Fine, but I still want to keep our numbers small,” Ganondorf relented. “No more than a dozen, each.”

    “Deal!” Darunia chuckled again. “Now tell us more about this demon.”

    “Of course,” Ganondorf returned his gaze to the map. “I will tell you everything we know about it so far, as well as what we can only speculate about based on the old stories. First, according to legend the legends, the ancient demon is known by the name Skeldritch.”

    * * *​

    Life in Hyrule had changed for many over the past four years. The new era of Hyrule meant not only an end to the war but a new era of cultural exchange and integration between the races of Hyrule. The trade of both goods and ideas spread between the Hylians, Sheikah, Gorons, Zora and Gerudo like never before, with Kakariko Village being the center of it all. The Sheikah settlement that had only just opened itself up to outsiders quickly became a cultural melting pot as members of all races settled into the area as a convenient waypoint between their different domains. As a result, the small town had seen an unprecedented level of expansion into an industrial metropolis that would likely rival Castle Town itself before long.

    Hyrule Castle, on the other hand, had not changed much despite the cultural revolution spreading around it. Few members of the kingdom’s aristocracy and nobility had much interest in what the outside world had to offer, while the knights, guards and other servants that made up the bulk of the castle’s population had lives outside the castle that they knew not to get mixed up with their duties. This would have made things boring for Princess Zelda if it weren’t for the few major changes that did affect her life.

    The biggest of those shakeups, as far as most in the castle were concerned, was the construction of the Royal Aviary atop the castle’s roof, designed to facilitate the reintroduction of an ancient species of bird to Hyrule. Specifically, the flock of giant birds that had saved Zelda and the others after the battle against Vaati, now known to have been called Loftwings in the era before the Kingdom’s founding, which had chosen to relocate to the castle grounds. Zelda herself had grown quite fond of the great birds and spent much of her free time caring for them. She had never felt as free as she did while soaring through the sky on the back of her faithful companion, the indigo-winged Loftwing she had taken to calling Zeffa, a name that appeared in old legends to describe a wind deity said to have taken the form of a blue bird.

    The other major change to Zelda’s life was that she was now blessed with the companionship of friends that she could have only dreamed of having when she was younger, both figuratively and literally. The adventures that had brought them together may have been short-lived but the connections they had formed back then had stuck with them. While Zelda hadn’t spent as much time with the older members of their old group, such as King Ganondorf or Chief Darunia, she was more interested in hanging out with those closer to her own age. In particular, she would often sneak out to Lon Lon Ranch to visit Link and Malon, who both called the ranch home. She had even convinced the ranch’s owner, Malon’s father Talon, to let her help with chores and taking care of the animals on occasion so that she could get a better understanding of what life was like for the working class.

    There were also rare days when Zelda had been able to convince her bodyguard Impa to let the princess and her friends visit Kakariko Village, taking in sights and sounds in the growing city that she couldn’t experience even wandering the streets of Castle Town. She had been hoping that this would be one such day but things did not go as she would have liked. With Impa away on some mysterious business that the princess was not privy to, Zelda was confined to the castle for the time being. She didn’t let that get her down, however, and instead decided to take advantage of the situation and turn it into an even rarer event. She believed the common folk would refer to it as a ‘sleepover’.

    And thanks to the power of Farore’s Wind granted to Link by a Great Fairy back during their old adventures, it did not take long for the boy to bring both Malon and Princess Ruto of the Zora to the castle. With parental consent, of course. And that is how the four kids found themselves lying down in the royal gardens, staring up at the clouds.

    “That one looks like an octorok,” Ruto said, pointing up at the sky.

    “I don’t see it,” Malon remarked.

    “Do you even know what an octorok is?”

    Malon paused before answering “…no.”

    “It reminds me of the Great Deku Tree.” Link said wistfully, his thoughts straying to the ancient forest guardian that had raised him. But his thoughts turned bittersweet as he recalled the Deku Tree’s death and how he had attempted to prevent it only to fail in saving the old tree’s life.

    Everyone was silent for a few minutes. Link didn’t talk much about his past, but they all knew what the Great Deku Tree had meant to him and how, even though he usually didn’t show it, Link still hadn’t fully gotten over what had happened.

    “Have you been back to the forest since then?” Zelda eventually asked, trying to break up the sudden silence.

    “No,” Link admitted.

    “We haven’t seen Sara or that fairy since they returned to the forest, have we?” Ruto pointed out.

    “Saria.” Zelda corrected her.

    “Yeah.” Ruto sat up. “Perhaps it might be good to pay them a visit?”

    “Without a fairy to guide us, we’d get lost in the woods and slowly become monsters,” Link reminder her gravely as he and the others sat up as well.

    “Not if you use Farore’s Wind,” Malon pointed out. “That is, if you feel up to it.”

    Link looked at his friends silently, before nodding his head. “If you guys want to go, then I could probably take us straight to my old house in the Kokiri Forest. It’s… been too long.”

    “Then I guess that settles it,” Zelda smiled. “I’m sure no one will notice we even left as long as we get back before sunset. Let’s go.”

    All four nodded to each other and the three girls grabbed Link’s outstretched hand. A green light emerged from it and swallowed them up before rising into the sky. The next thing they knew, the children were now standing inside of an old treehouse.

    Link’s old home had been left exactly as he remembered it, apart from the thick layer of dust that now blanketed everything. His mind wandered to the food he had stored away so many years ago and made a mental note not to open the drawer it had been left in.

    “Spacey,” Malon noted, looking around. “You could fit a cow in here, easily.”

    “I don’t… want to know… how your mind works,” Princess Ruto replied slowly.

    “Something seems… wrong, here.” Everyone’s attention was drawn to Zelda as she cautiously walked through the open doorway leading outside, and they followed.

    Kokiri Forest was a small, open area amid the otherwise dense and maze-like Lost Woods. Where the rest of the woods were dangerous and infested with monsters and the undead, the area that the Kokiri called home had always remained safe and peaceful thanks to the protection of the Great Deku Tree. But the Great Deku Tree had been gone for four years and the once tame forest had grown wild without him. There was not a single Kokiri in sight but the village was far from empty.

    Mad Shrubs danced about wildly between the trees as Deku Baba’s snapped their powerful jaws at anything that got too close. Even a couple of octoroks could be seen swimming through the small river that flowed through the forest. But the most immediate concern for the four children was the lone wolfos that had spotted them as they emerged from Link’s old treehouse and was now barreling towards them on all fours. Before they had a chance to brace themselves, however, a hooded figure draped in a cloak of dark leaves leapt down from the raised section of ground running beside Link’s house, plunging a long wooden spear into the monster’s hide. The beast collapsed as the cloaked figure stood up and turned to the kids.

    “I was wondering when you would finally return.” The mysterious stranger whipped around to deflect a stray seed fired by a nearby Mad Scrub before turning its attention back to them. “But this isn’t the place to talk. Follow me, quickly!”

    It feels so good to have finally finished this chapter and started this new entry in the series. Unfortunately, I can't make any promises in regards to an update schedule as I rarely get any motivation to write these days. It pains me just as much as you that I don't update these stories more often than I do but I can't really get anything done when I'm not in the mood to actually write. Still, I will try to update this story when I can and someday I hope to finish at least the first trilogy of the eight story saga that I have planned.
     
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  2. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachiod Machamp

    Broken Image Bird
    (Trumbeak)
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    There was an old saying among the Gerudo that Death rides the Desert Winds. Whether it was the scorching heat of the day, the frigid cold of the night, or storms of sand, the wind was always the enemy of those who called that desert home. Thankfully for the hastily gathered army of Gerudo, Sheikah and Gorons that now marched the desert, the winds were calm that day. But it was only a small blessing, given what they were about to face.

    A large predatory bird circled the air, its blue and white plumage blending in with the midday sky as it swooped down towards the approaching army. The bird, known as a Kargarok, perched on the outstretched arm of King Ganondorf at the head of the gathered forces.

    “We are close,” Ganondorf announced.

    “Alright, demon smashing time!” The chief of the Gorons exclaimed excitedly, bashing his fists together.

    “But we are not facing the demon yet,” Impa stated as she brought her horse to a stop beside Ganondorf’s. “We would be able to feel its presence by now if it were here.”

    “Correct,” Nabooru rode up to the others as she spoke. “As we discussed previously, attempting to face a demon head-on with conventional tactics would be foolhardy at best. We may be able to fight the demon, perhaps even weaken it significantly, but we cannot expect to be able to slay the beast with normal weapons.”

    “Then I take it you know of where we might find something that can kill a demon,” Impa said.

    “Possibly,” Ganondorf replied. “We do not know for sure, but I felt it best that we should check. Were you aware the Gerudo are not the only tribe that lives in this desert?”

    “Wait, you’re not?” Darunia was visibly caught off guard by this. “Who else could live out here.”

    “They are known as the Zuna,” Ganondorf explained. “They are a nomadic people that live even deeper in the desert than the Gerudo. We don’t know much of their culture, but their ancestors are said to have built the ancient pyramid that houses the Trident of Demise. They may know of or have access to something that we may use.”

    “The four of us will go in to negotiate with them,” Nabooru added. “Though it would probably be best if our forces camped out here for now. We don’t want them to take things the wrong way by marching on them with an army.”

    “Then I guess we shall meet these… Zuna, and see if they can help us,” Impa said calmly.

    “Yeah, now I’m curious to see what these people are like,” Darunia chuckled.

    * * *​

    Link, Zelda, Malon and Ruto walked hesitantly as they were led through the forest by a green-clad stranger. The person who they had seen slay a wolfos just moments earlier was obscured by their heavy cloak of dark leaves and a mask made from a single large leaf, which revealed nothing of the person wearing them beyond a humanoid frame. The only other thing they had to identify the person was the simple wooden spear they carried, which was wrapped in blue cloth around the shaft.

    Link recognized the path they took and tried to prepare himself for what they were about to see, but the other three were caught off guard when they reached a large clearing surrounding a large, dead tree. The remains of the Great Deku Tree hadn’t changed much since Link had left the forest. The shriveled, blackened wood was still substantially more impressive than anything that grew around it, and the large face formed into the trunk was still quite intimidating even if it no longer held any light or life. A place once sacred to the Kokiri now felt almost cursed.

    “Why are you bringing us here?” Link asked, finally, as they approached the dead tree.

    “Because this is the only safe place left in the forest,” their unknown guide explained, their voice was hollow like that of a Deku Scrub yet there was something familiar about it. “After the Great Deku Tree’s passing, the monsters of the Lost Woods were able to make their way into the Kokiri’s Forest and, well, the Kokiri have never had to defend themselves from something like this before. It didn’t take long for the village to fall and the Kokiri were forced to retreat here. You’ll learn more once we step inside.”

    With that, their guide walked through the gaping mouth of the Great Deku Tree. Link was cautious, as the last time he had entered the hollowed-out tree it had been infested with Skulltulas, Mad Scrubs, and, most dangerous of all, the Gohma.

    “Do not worry,” the hooded stranger said as if sensing Link’s hesitation. “The monsters that once infested the Great Deku Tree have long since fled. Without their queen, they could not withstand the power of this holy ground, even in its current state.”

    Link nodded and followed, with the girls following cautiously. This was unfamiliar territory for them, so they had all silently agreed to follow Link’s judgment while wandering what remained of his childhood home.

    The inside of the Deku Tree was much as Link remembered it from his brief time exploring the place in his previous visit. Though he was glad to see that there were no longer any Deku Babas growing out the roots and there was no tell-tale webbing that signified the presence of the parasitic arachnids that had killed the guardian spirit. What there was, however, was a familiar young boy waiting impatiently at the other end of the main chamber.

    “There you are!” The boy shouted angrily and ran up to the still-unidentified stranger who had led them here. “I keep telling you that it’s too dangerous to venture out there! We need to stay here and guard the… wait, who are these people?”

    “You should recognize at least one of them,” the hooded figure chuckled. “He hasn’t changed that much in the past four years.”

    The boy leered at Link as he sized the boy up before his eyes lit up with recognition. “What? No, you couldn’t be…”

    Link looked down at the self-proclaimed Boss of the Kokiri, who had changed little since Link had left the forest, though he did seem significantly smaller than Link remembered him. But that would be because of how much Link had grown while Mido, a Kokiri, was perpetually a child.

    “Hey, Mido.” Link wasn’t sure how to greet him, having never been particularly fond of the bully.

    “Link?” Mido cautiously reached for the Kokiri Sword sheathed at his hip, a one-of-a-kind blade that Link could have sworn he had left in Saria’s care. “No, you’re all ghosts trying to take more of us away! But I won’t let you-”

    “They’re not ghosts, Mido.” The cloaked figure sighed. “It really is Link, and some of the others Navi and I told you about. Now, if you don’t mind, I believe he will be wanting to speak with them.”

    “Yes, yes I suppose he would…” Mido glared at Link. “But I’ve got my eyes on you.”

    “I’m sorry about that,” the hooded figure said with a sigh. “Now, as I’m sure you just gathered, there’s someone that I think you should talk to. He’s waiting in the next room, so follow me.”

    At first, there didn’t seem to be anything within the room they were led to, behind a large, plump sapling growing in the center, surrounded by sunlight that leaked in through a hole higher up the tree. Looking up, however, they could see dozens of fairies flying around. One of those fairies, glowing bright blue, quickly dove towards them.

    “Link!” Navi shouted excitedly. “Link, I can’t believe it’s you! It’s been so long! Oh, it’s so good to see you! How are you doing?”

    Link opened his mouth to answer.

    “Wait, no, now’s not the time!” Navi interrupted before he could speak. “We can catch up later, but right now you need to talk to him.”

    “Who is it we’re supposed to talk to?” Zelda asked. “There doesn’t seem to be anyone else here.”

    “Oh, that would be me.” Everyone turned to where the sapling was growing but there didn’t seem to be anyone there. At least until the young tree blinked and opened its mouth to continue speaking. “Hi, we haven’t met yet. I was born shortly after the Great Deku Tree died. I suppose you could call me his son, though I have his memories so I suppose in a way I am him. You don’t have to call me Great, though. I’m just going by the Deku Sprout for now.”

    Link stared silently at the Deku Sprout, so Zelda took it upon herself to make their introductions.

    “Hello, I am Princess Zelda XVI of Hyrule. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Zelda curtsied, which earned a chuckle from the tree. “And these are Malon, Princess Ruto of the Zora, and I take it you already know Link.”

    “Ooh, so polite,” the young tree laughed. “It’s nice to finally meet you. And you’ve already met Saria, Mido and Navi so I guess we can move on to business.”

    “Saria?” Link perked up and turned to the cloaked figure, with the others doing the same.

    “Oh, right, I guess you wouldn’t recognize me like this.” Saria pulled back her hood and removed her mask so that they could finally get a good look at her.

    “You’re still wood.” Ruto blurted out the obvious.

    Saria nodded, her expression impossible to read as her face remained still, like a wooden carving of the girl Link had grown up with. “The Great Deku Tree created the Kokiri in the image of Hylian children so that Link would not be alone as he was raised here. But now that the Great Deku Tree is gone, we are all slowly reverting back to our true natures as spirits of the forest. My transformation was accelerated because of my time spent outside of the forest, but even the others are starting to change.”

    “And it's quite uncomfortable, might I add,” Mido spoke up, scratching at the collar of his tunic, where Link and the others could now see the bark creeping up his skin.

    “I’m not entirely sure why my predecessor decided to do it that way,” the Deku Sprout spoke up again. “Personally, I would have left the Koroks in their natural form and let you grow up knowing who and what you are, but what’s done is done. Oh, speaking of which, I don’t think you were ever told the full story of how you came to be raised by the Great Deku Tree. Care to hear it before we move on to talking about the monsters and stuff?”

    Link nodded.

    “Alright, so there was this big war fought between the races of Hyrule. Real nasty stuff. No one’s fault, really, but sometimes bad situations lead to disaster. Anyway, during the war, a Hylian woman fled to the Lost Woods with her baby to try and protect her child from the bloodshed and fighting and whatnot. Now, you know what happens to people who get lost in the woods and that really would have been a tragedy for you both to have turned into monsters like that, but then something strange happened. Something that I don’t think had ever really happened before. She didn’t get lost. That woman somehow managed to make her way all the way here to the Great Deku Tree and asked me, or him, to protect her child. I, er, the Great Deku Tree, was impressed by the woman’s ability and determination to have actually made it this far, and sensing that you had a great destiny that you needed to fulfill, promised to do as she asked. He took you in and turned the Koroks already under his protection into the Kokiri so that you could have a peaceful childhood before you had to go out and rescue Hyrule. I’m not entirely sure what happened to your mother, I’m afraid. She left the forest just as easily as she came and then… I don’t know. Admittedly, the Great Deku Tree didn’t pay much attention to things that happened outside the forest, but it’s still strange. Although I’m afraid to say that she probably passed on shortly after that. The war was a very dark time for everyone and I’m thankful that none of you have had to experience it. In fact, you’ve all played a big part in ensuring that nothing like it will happen again. For that, I would like to thank you.”

    “You’re welcome,” Zelda curtsied again and turned to Link. The boy was staring off into space, not quite as out of it as when he had first learned the secrets of his past back during their first adventure. Still, it was clear that she would have to take over as their group’s speaker. “However, it would appear that this forest is now facing its own problems and I have a feeling that you believe we can help.”

    “Very astute, though I shouldn’t expect less from the bloodline of Hylia,” the Deku Tree chuckled. “But yes. As much as I would prefer to leave you kids out of this perilous situation, things here are even worse than you’ve probably realized and we need your help if we’re going to do anything about it.”

    “Wait, how could it be worse?” Malon asked. “We’ve already seen that the Kokiri have been driven out of their homes by monsters and forced to take shelter here.”

    “Hey, where are those Kokoriki people, anyway?” Ruto wondered aloud. “We’ve only seen two so far.”

    Mido and Saria both turned away uncomfortably and the Deku Sprout frowned before replying. “You see, that’s the problem. They’re gone. Well, most of them, anyway.”

    “Ghosts,” Link stated, startling the others before explaining. “Mido thought we were ghosts here to take away more of the Kokiri. That means that some of the Kokiri have already been taken by ghosts.”

    Mido grimaced, confirming Link’s theory.

    “Correct,” the Deku Sprout shook in in a gesture that was likely meant to be a nod. “It just happened rather recently, which is why I haven’t sent Navi to get you yet, but a group of particularly malevolent Poes have taken up residence in the Forest Temple and have begun abducting the inhabitants of the forest. Not just Kokiri, but even Skull Kids and Deku Scrubs have been taken.”

    “That’s awful,” Malon gasped. “Are they…”

    “I don’t know,” the Deku Sprout replied grimly. “I’m still week due to my youth and whatever dark power they’re using is completely blocking the Forest Temple from my view. I honestly can’t tell you what’s going on in there or if anyone who’s been taken is even still alive. But no matter what, we must stop those Poes from causing any more harm. And while I may not be able to do much to aid you, I believe that you, all of you, can stop them together. So now I must ask: Will you help us?”

    “Of course!” Zelda replied, Link and Malon nodding in agreement.

    “Sure, why not.” Ruto shrugged.

    “Thank you,” the Deku Tree did another full-body nod, this one intended as a bow. “Of course I don’t expect you to go in unarmed. Return to your homes and make your preparations. When you are ready, Mido, Saria and Navi will meet you at the entrance to Forest Temple.”

    “That’s the old building behind the Sacred Grove where we used to hang out,” Saria added helpfully.

    * * *​

    Ganondorf, Nabooru, Impa and Darunia entered the Zuna settlement, which consisted of a few large tents set up sporadically around a small desert oasis. A few of the mysterious green-skinned beings seemed to be going about their daily routines. As they approached the water’s edge and those who had traveled by horseback dismounted their steeds, a Zuna dressed in white robes and a turban with a colorful feather sticking out walked up to them.

    “Greetings, travelers!” the man welcomed them. “Visitors to this village are a rare sight, indeed. What brings you to our village?”

    “Hello, I am Ganondorf, King of the Gerudo,” Ganondorf bowed. “And this is my second-in-command, Nabooru, as well as Impa and Darunia, who come from the lands east of the desert. We are here because of the demon that currently plagues these sands, but we do not currently possess a way of defeating the monster. But we have heard legends of your ancestors’ ability to forge divine weapons and we hoped that we could negotiate a trade for something that could aid us in our quest to protect the desert.”

    “Yeah, I think we have something that could work but you’re going to have to trade for it.” The Zuna turned his black eyes to the Kargaroc that Ganondorf had used to scout out the area, which was perched on the Gerudo King’s shoulder. “I see that you’ve managed to tame a roc. Is that normal for your people?”

    “The Gerudo learned how to tame them a few centuries ago and while it is still an uncommon pastime, there are some among my people who have devoted their lives to raising and training the desert birds,” Ganondorf explained. “I take it that you are interested in learning this skill?”

    “Yes, we have a way of enchanting the feathers and try to collect them whenever we can, but they can be hard to come across as rocs normally make their nests on the high cliffs where we can’t reach them. If you can have some of those people you mentioned bring us some of your trained Rocs and teach us how to raise our own, then we have some old magical arrows that should be exactly what you’re looking for.”

    “That sounds like a fair trade,” Ganondorf nodded. “I will send for some of the best Kargarok trainers to come here and teach their craft.”

    “Then we have a deal,” the Zuna said. “Though, I do have another request.”

    “And what would that be?” Ganondorf asked.

    “Could you get your people to stop ignoring us?” the Zuna requested.

    “What do you mean?” Ganondorf was confused by this.

    “I mean that it seems like no one ever visits us. It’s like we’re closed off from the rest of the world. Like we don’t even exist. We didn’t even know people lived outside of the desert but now you’ve just shown us that there’s a whole world out there that we haven’t been able to be a part of.”

    “Odd, I had always heard that the Zuna were an isolationist tribe, that you didn’t like interacting with others.”

    “No, not at all!” the Zuna raised his voice a bit. “We’ve all been wanting to open up and see what’s out there in the world, but no one ever comes to visit us and there hasn’t been anything we can do about it!”

    “I’m sorry, I had no idea,” Ganondorf apologized. “It would appear that my people have done you a great disservice, but I will do what I can to right this wrong. Once we have slain the demon, I will personally set up a caravan to initiate trade with your village, and that any Zuna who wish to Gerudo land will be allowed to do so. You have my word.”

    “I’m sure that some of the Gorons would love to explore this desert more,” Darunia chimed in. “ I might be sending an expedition or two to scout out the area once this whole demon thing gets taken care of, maybe set up a new village or two in the mountain regions nearby. I’ll be sure that they come to visit once they get settled in.”

    “The nations of Hyrule, the land where we come from, have recently been focusing on exchanging goods and ideas,” Impa explained. “I am sure that they would welcome the Zuna as a new member to the growing alliance of cultures.”

    “Alright, then I guess we better make sure this demon of yours gets taken care of!” the Zuna said excitedly. “I’ll go get those silver arrows for you.”
    This chapter was supposed to be done pretty much right after the first chapter, but then I ended up adding an extra scene at the end which took longer that I was expecting. But I finally got around to finishing it, so here you go. Now I should probably get started on the next chapter.
     

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