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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

    Late For A Date
    (Bunnelby)
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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

    Late For A Date
    (Bunnelby)
    Level 15
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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.
     
  3. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachiod Machamp

    Late For A Date
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    I can't believe it's been two years since I posted the last update, but I'm finally back with a new chapter! I've also already started on the next one, so hopefully it won't be too long before I finish it.
    Link had visited the Sacred Grove with Saria countless times when he was a child and knew the area well. But that just made it even more of a surprise to see how much it had changed since then. The trees had darkened and begun to wither. The bushes which lined the labyrinthian path leading to the main clearing had become overground and were filled with the sounds of Mad Scrubs rustling around in the distance. And above all was the deathly chill that drifted out from the entrance of the Forest Temple. It was less like the cold wind of the Ice Cavern, but rather the oppressive atmosphere of the catacombs under Kakariko Village where Link had fought that grotesque being of warped flesh which he could only describe as ‘the Dead Hand’.

    “This place gives me the creeps.” Ruto shivered as she looked around.

    “Is this the Forest Temple?” Zelda looked up at the ancient stone building with a sense of curiosity. “The architecture reminds me of the Hyrule Castle, though it has a more… militant feel, I suppose. It looks like some kind of fortress or outpost built by ancient Hylians. Though, I’ve never heard of such a structure having been built out here in the woods. How would they have even been able to get here, with the curse?”

    “I never asked. I never even thought to consider it, before…” Link felt a lump form in his chest, as his mind fluttered over the many unanswered questions he’d never be able to ask the Great Deku Tree. “This forest used to be my whole world, and yet I barely know a thing about them.”

    “Hey, there, there,” Malon said calmly as she put her arm around Link’s shoulder, and the young teen slowly began to relax his posture. “It’s alright. You were just a kid back then. It’s normal to just take things for granted at that age, and it’s not like you knew what was… that things would…”

    Link stiffened for a moment before forcing himself to relax again. “That the Great Deku Tree would die and that my whole life would be turned upside down.”

    “You know, it’s okay to cry.” Zelda took a step forward and made a motion as if to comfort Link, but hesitated and dropped her hand back down to rest on the handle of the rapier sheathed at her waist. “You lost someone important to you, and no one here will fault you for mourning that loss.”

    “Well, I might.” Ruto stuck her tongue out playfully. “Okay, not really.”

    “No.” Link clenched his fists and shook himself free from Malon’s grip, then took a determined step towards the Forest Temple. “I’ve already taken the time I needed for that. It’s time to move forward now. We’re here to rescue the Kokiri and we shouldn’t let anything get in the way of that mission.”

    “How did you get here before us?” Mido shouted angrily as he walked up to the group from the hedge maze, along with Saria and three fairies. “We were ahead of you! You don’t even have a fairy!”

    “Oh, right, I guess I should have gone with them instead of you,” Navi muttered.

    “I told you, Link has magic now.” Saria sighed and shook her head. “He probably just used Farore’s Wind to teleport straight here, right?”

    “We took a couple quick stops first to arm ourselves.” Zelda gestured to her sword, while Link nodded.

    “Yeah, having a mage around is super useful,” Ruto said absently while leaning against the silver trident her father had commissioned for her after their last adventure.

    “I prefer to think of myself as a ‘magic knight’.” Link shrugged.

    “You aren’t actually a knight, though,” Zelda pointed out, then smiled. “But give it a few years. I’m sure Father would be more than willing to grant you a formal title when the time comes.”

    “Ugh, forget this,” Mido groaned. “Let’s just go.”

    “Problem.” Malon pointed up to the old doorway that served as the only visible entrance. “The stairs are gone.”

    Everyone looked up, and sure enough the steps which should have lead from the forest floor up were almost completely missing apart from a couple half-steps still barely attached to the upper floor.

    “That shouldn’t be a problem,” Navi spoke up. “Link can just use Farore’s Wind again to bring us all up there.”

    “No need.” Saria shook her head as she walked up to the front of the group, holding up her spear. “I’ve got this one.”

    With a twirl, Saria plunged the tip of her spear into the ground. At first, it didn’t seem like anything else was going to happen but then a cluster of thick roots burst from the ground in front of her, writhing their way towards the stone entranceway, forming a makeshift staircase.

    “What? Huh? Since when can you do that?” Ruto angrily demanded.

    “It’s this spear,” Saria held up the sharpened wood stick, which appeared to be rather plain other than the gold ring set just below the tip and blue cloth wrapped tightly around it as a grip. “It was fashioned by the Deku Sprout from the remains of the old Great Deku Tree and infused with some of his power, allowing me some level of control over any plants connected to him. Although its power is weak at the moment, and there are only a few places in the forest at this point where I can actually use it effectively.”

    “And I was given the legendary Sword of the Kokiri!” Mido proclaimed while waving the wood-handled shortsword.

    “Hey, isn’t that the sword you used to use?” Malon asked Link.

    Link nodded in confirmation. He considered pointing out that it was just a normal sword, the only notable thing about it that he ever noticed being that it was the only one he knew of made by the Kokiri, but decided against it. He knew far too well how fragile Mido’s ego could be and figured that it was best to let him have his this. Plus, Navi would likely interrupt him if he so much as opened his mouth, as she had a habit of doing.

    “A most impressive weapon,” Zelda said politely. “Both of them. Now, it would be unwise to tarry here too long, as we do not know what fate awaits the captured Kokiri. Shall we head inside?”

    “Of course, Princess.” Saria nodded. “I’ll lead the way, if you don’t mind. It has been a long while since I’ve ventured inside the Temple and my memories are distant, but I do believe I can recall the general layout.”

    “Very well,” Zelda motioned for Saria to climb the steps. “Then we shall follow your lead.”

    * * *
    The sun beat down overhead as the army settled into position in a circular formation atop a large ring of sandy dunes overlooking a large, open area of the desert. A single large skull rested in the center of the area, topped with an ancient horned helmet of a style unfamiliar to the residents of Hyrule. To the unknowing eye, it would appear that a giant lay dead, buried in the sand. But the Gerudo, Gorons and Shiekah assembled for the fight of their lives knew differently.

    There was an old Sheikah proverb, which translated into modern Hylian often ends up something to the effect of ‘That which is dead may never rise, but in the shadows even death may only be lies’. It was said that the Sheikah knew death better than any of the other races of Hyrule and the experiments once held within the Shadow Temple were proof that was at least once the case. But the skull before them was different than the twisted malfactions and walking corpses which now plagued the underground due to mortal hubris, or even the ghostly specters that haunted locations such as the Forest Temple. Those were merely the dead given a corrupt form of new life outside the light of the goddesses. This was a soldier of the ancient demon wars waged long before the founding of Hyrule, brought back through unknown means. This was the demon, Skeldritch.

    Ganondorf clenched his hand tightly around his bow. While the King of the Gerudo was generally known for his sword fighting skills and preferred melee combat when circumstances made battle inevitable, he was also among the most skilled archers in the Gerudo and currently held the highest score possible in the horseback archery range challenge held behind the Gerudo Fortress: 20 bullseyes in a row while his horse galloped at its top speed. While he had been against the idea at first, it had ultimately been decided that he would be the one of five archers spread across the army to carry the Silver Arrows they had received from the Zuna, each archer carrying but four of the magical items with their normal arrows. Ganondorf sincerely wished that they had a larger supply of Silver Arrows, but the Zuna only had twenty. He told himself that, if the process of making them still survived and that he himself made it through this battle, that he would have to personally commission the Zuna to begin fashioning them again, enough to supply an army the next time a demon reared its ugly head and began threatening innocent lives. But that was the future, and hopefully it would be a very long time before another demon invaded Hyrule, for now he had to focus on the battle ahead of him.

    Ganondorf raised his arm, paused, and thrust his hand out. “Charge!”

    As one, the first wave of their army charged, the Gerudo and Sheikah on horseback while the Gorons curled up into balls and rolled down the sandy slopes like boulders down a mountain. They were then followed by a second wave, and a third, before the archers followed last. As they approached, Skeldritch roared to life. Its hollowed eyes flashed and an intense red glow erupted within the skull-like head as it emerged from the sand, a snake-like body of armored vertebrae rising up, giving the demon the appearance of a tower of metal and bone.

    The first soldiers reached the base of Skeldritch’s spine, striking it as hard as they could and riding past so that others could do so in turn, before turning around and repeating the process. The archers, meanwhile, stayed back and pelted the demon with arrows. Not the Silver Arrows, as they were far too precious a resource to waste until they were sure they could land a killing blow, but a variety of more conventional arrow types. Ganondorf himself favored the Gerudo’s prized Ice Arrows, imbued with freezing magic, while others preferred arrows charged with fire or lightning. Unfortunately, Skeldritch seemed to lack any specific elemental weaknesses they could exploit, meaning that the magic arrows didn’t do much more than the standard arrows some archers used. However, a recent invention of the Gerudo made from the fibers and explosively volatile juices of the Bomb Flowers which grew around Death Mountain proved effective in damaging Skeldritch’s armor plating.

    But of course, Skeldritch wasn’t going to let them bombard it with attacks unopposed. Almost as soon as the attack started, Skeldritch opened its mouth and fired a laser down at their forces, killing over two dozen soldiers in one go. Everyone was careful to avoid these attacks after that, but not everyone was able to. Heavy casualties were sustained and roughly a tenth of the gathered force lay dead or dying by the time the surviving forces managed to break away the last of the demon’s armor. It pained Ganondorf to acknowledge that this counted as an ‘acceptable loss’ but he didn’t have time to dwell on the growing pit in his stomach as he notched another Ice Arrow and sent it flying at the demon’s spinal column. They had yet to expose any obvious weak point to target with the Silver Arrows, but they must have been growing close. And at last, the battle turned in their favor.

    The vertebrae just above the sand, which had taken the most damage thanks to their cavalry charges, exploded. Skeldritch screamed a horrid, unnatural wail at fell, crushing several soldiers who weren’t able to get out of the way fast enough, and its helmet clattered away from its skull.

    “This is it!” Darunia’s voice cried out as a young Sheikah archer fired the first of his Silver Arrows at the back of Skeldritch’s skull and the demon .

    Ganondorf rode around as the other chosen archers each fired one of their Ice Arrows, coming to see a veiny pink mass jutting out from a massive hole in its skull that the helmet had covered up. Fired his own arrow at it. Skeldritch let out one final scream before suddenly bolting upright and sinking beneath the sand before a second volley of Silver Arrows could be fired.

    The atmosphere was tense, as every seasoned warrior left watched warily for any sign of the skeletal demon reamerging. It didn’t take long before it shot back up from beneath where its helmet had landed. The armor covering its spine had somehow been restored, but it was notably shorter than before. The piece of its spine they had destroyed was still missing.

    “Concentrate your fire on the base of its spine!” Impa called out. “We need to save resources by focusing on only one part at a time!”

    Ganondorf nodded as he quickly grabbed a quiver of Bomb Arrows from one of his fallen sisters. The battle was far from over but they were making progress.

    * * *​

    The inside of the Forest Temple proved to be designed as if it were an old mansion, which only raised further questions regarding its origin. Not helping matters was the way the hallways warped and twisted in ways that should not have been physically possible. One section of the building in particular was apparently built sideways and yet gravity itself seemed to curve with the floor.

    Upon entering the building, the kids had found themselves in a large foyer with hallways leading out in several directions. They had ultimately decided to split into groups to cover more group and, after much debate over who would go with who, Link and Ruto went with Mido and Navi to explore the eastern side of the temple while Zelda and Malon went with Saria to explore the west side.

    “I wonder if people used to live here.” Malon said as she climbed up a large set of stairs.

    “I don’t know,” Zelda replied, a few steps up from her. “It seems that someone must have, but zI have no idea who or when that would have been.”

    “The Great Deku Tree didn’t talk about this place much.” Saria reached the top of the stairs first. “All I know is that a wealthy family from Hyrule once lived here a long time ago, who worshiped an evil spirit called the Baga Tree, who was sort of like an evil version of the Great Deku Tree. Anyway, they apparently tried sacrificing their four daughters to the Baga Tree for power, but the Baga Tree betrayed them by… Uh-oh.”

    “What is it?” Malon asked, worried.

    “The door’s locked.” Saria rattled the handle to prove her point, though the large chains shackled across the door made it obvious. “I don’t suppose either of you have a key?”

    “I guess we must have gone the wrong way,” Zelda replied. “Let’s head back. Wait, what was that?”

    “What was what?”

    Zelda pointed up at a painting hanging above the stairs they had just come up from. Though calling it a painting may have been generous, given that all that was depicted in it was a plain, black canvas. It was the third of its kind they had seen in that room.

    “There was a figure in the painting,” Zelda said. “It looked like a girl but she was only there for a second.”

    “It may have been a ghost,” Saria pointed out. “Let’s head back before it tries anything.”

    The three girls headed back down the two flights of stairs which made up the chamber they were currently in as quickly as they safely could and rushed for the exit. They were too slow, however, as a pair of chains shot up and wrapped around the door just like the one two floors above.

    “No! We’re locked in!” Zelda pointed out what was obvious to all of them.

    Saria sighed and turned around, facing the first of the empty portraits they had seen. But for a few seconds, it wasn’t empty. It was a shadowy figure dressed in a tattered red dress, wearing what seemed to be a wig made of straw and glowing yellow eyes, carrying a torch with a bright orange flame.

    “I just saw her!” Saria exclaimed. “In the painting! I think she was a poe.”

    A high pitched cackle suddenly echoed through the room.

    “More new friends! More new friends!” A girl’s voice said excitedly. “I’m Joelle! Do you want to play? How about hide and seek? I’ll hide, and you try to find me!”

    “I guess we’re going to have to play along if we want out of here.” Zelda said. “But this shouldn’t be too hard, right? We just need to check all of the paintings.”

    “Right!” Malon ran back up the first flight of stairs and turned to the second portrait, where the ghost was clearly visible. “Ha. there you are… hey, she’s disappeared again!”

    “You’re too slow!” The ghost taunted. “You’re going to do that if you want to catch me!”

    “Ugh, she’s cheating.” Malon grumbled. “How are we supposed to catch her if she’s just going to disappear when we find her?”

    “Well, there were only three paintings in this room, at least that I saw,” Zelda pointed out. “And there are three of us. If she can only hide in the paintings, then if we each look at one of them at the same time then she’ll have nowhere to go.”

    “Of course,” Saria agreed. “I’ll head to the top level.”

    Saria leaped up the first set of stairs in a single bound, turned around and jumped up the second set just as easily.

    “Wait, since when have you been able to do that?”

    “I’ve been doing a lot of training the last few years, making sure that I can defend the woods until the Deku Sprout regains enough power to do it himself.” Saria turned to face the third painting, where the ghost was plainly visible. “Got you!”

    The ghost vanished from the painting and reappeared on the first level just long enough to see Zelda staring at her, then switched to the middle floor to find Malon still there before appearing back in front of Saria. She shifted between the three paintings a few more times before finally giving up and finally appearing outside of a portrait, next to the door on the upper floor.

    “Aw, no fair. You guys figured it out too quickly.” The ghost moaned as Zelda and Malon both ran up to where she and Saria were. “Oh, well, that’s still the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Ooh, I know! Why don’t you find my other sisters and play with them, too? Then we can all meet up in the basement with our other new friends and we can all play together! Yay! That’ll be tons of fun! You can find my baby sister Amy if you keep going this way, and I think the kids who came with you are going to run into my other sisters. Ooh, this is going to be so. Much. Fun!”

    With a twirl the ghost, Joelle, vanished. The chains which had been blocking the door disappeared as well, opening up the way.

    “Well, that’s not what I expected,” Malon said. “Hopefully the other ghosts are that friendly.”

    “At least now we know the other Kokiri are safe.” Saria walked up to the now-open door. “It sounds like they’ve been locked up in the basement, though, so we should hurry up and find that ghost’s sisters.”

    “I wonder how Link and the others are doing,” Zelda mused as she and Malon followed Saria into the next room.

    * * *​

    “...so the family sacrificed their daughters and the Baga Tree gave them the power they asked for.” Mido fell to the ground as the Wolfos he just sunk his sword into burst into smoke. “And by power, I mean it turned them all into Stalfos as the Baga Tree cast the spell that turned the Lost Woods into… well the Lost Woods.”

    Link parried the blade of an armed Stalfos and struck it one final time, the skeleton collapsing into a pile of bones and then also turning to smoke. “Good job, Mido! Your fighting skills have definitely improved a lot since I left.”

    “Heh, it’s no big deal.” Mido rubbed his nose with the back of his arm, a smug look on his face.

    “Wait, you can talk?” Navi asked in apparent wonderment. Link was about to respond when Navi continued. “Or, wait, maybe I just keep interrupting you every time you try to speak?”

    Link glared up at her. “You’re doing it on purpose at this point, aren’t you?”

    “Maybe…”

    There was a loud splash, as Ruto jumped gracefully out of well in the corner of the courtyard, somersaulting twice before landing on her feet, holding her trident in one hand.

    “That’s the last of the octoroks,” Ruto said as she walked up to the others. “What’s next?”

    Link, Mido and Ruto all looked up to the top of a gazebo in the far side of the courtyard, where a poe dressed in a tattered blue outfit, weaning a hat and carrying a torch with a torch, floated there watching them.

    “Wow.” The ghost, Beth, said. “I can’t believe you managed to take down all of those monsters so easily. Well, I had my fun. And I guess your friends already played with one of my sisters and are about to reach another, so I guess that just leaves you with our oldest sister next. So, um… bye, I guess.”

    Beth spun around and vanished, leaving them alone.

    “Well, that was a thing that happened.” Ruto shrugged. “Now what?”

    Beth suddenly appeared again, directly in front of Link, her blue-flamed torch held behind her back. Before any of them had time to react, she wrapped her arms around him, she leaned in towards him and he felt something wet press up against his lips before she pulled away and vanished again with a giggle.

    “What was that?” Ruto yelled angrily while Link just stood there wide-eyed.

    * * *​

    Saria, Zelda and Malon now found themselves in a large open room full of blocks and toys scattered about aimlessly. In the middle of the room, a small poe wrapped in old green clothes was stacking blocks together, giggling loudly.

    “Bah bah boo!” The poe waved her green-flamed torch around.

    “I guess this must be Amy,” Zelda said, approaching carefully.

    “Wuwah?” Amy turned around at the sound of the unfamiliar voice, knocking over the blocks she had been playing with. She then turned back to them and then began crying loudly.

    “Oh, uh… I guess that other ghost wasn’t joking when she called this one her baby sister,” Malon said. “What do we do now?”

    “I don’t know, I’ve never had to deal with a baby before.” Zelda tried not to panic.

    “I know how to work with baby animals, but not baby people… or, baby ghosts…” Malon replied.

    Saria, however, was much more calm, approaching the infant ghost slowly while humming the tune she usually played, which many residents of the forest had taken to calling Saria’s Song. Amy’s crying slowed as Saria bent down and cradled the baby in her arms, rocking her gently as she walked back to the others and Amy’s crying stopped altogether.

    “Wow, I never imagined you’d be that good with babies.” Malon whispered. “Um, no offense.”

    Saria laughed softly. “Who do you think raised Link?”

    “I thought it was the Great Deku Tree?” Zelda answered uncertainly.

    “Well, yes, the Great Deku Tree did oversee Link’s development and education, and made sure he was properly cared for,” Saria replied. “But for as powerful and wise as he was, there’s only so much a big talking tree can do in raising a child. Most of that responsibility went to me, which is why we’ve always been so close.”

    “Wait, does that mean you’re like Link’s mom?” Malon asked.

    “Hmm… I’d say I’m more like a big sister,” Saria said as she thought about it. “Although now I guess he’s bigger than I am. That actually feels pretty weird. Though I suppose I’m going to have to get used to that, since he’s just going to get even taller as he continues to grow up, while I’m going to get shorter as I continue reverting back to a Korok.”

    “What do we do now that she’s stopped crying? Zelda asked, getting them back to the more immediate subject at hand. “We’re supposed to play with her, right?”

    “I suppose that’s up to her.” Saria looked down at Amy. “What do you want to do?”

    Amy looked up at her for a moment before turning to her blocks. “Bih casa!”

    “What does that mean?” Malon wondered aloud.

    “It sounded kind of like ‘build castle’,” Zelda said.

    “Is that what you want us to do?” Saria asked Amy. “Do you want us to build you a castle out of your blocks?”

    “Bih casa!” Amy repeated and nodded.

    “Alright, then I guess we better get to work building the biggest castle we can,” Malon said as she walked up to the blocks.

    The three girls worked together to build a castle with all of the blocks in the room, which was quite time consuming given just how many of them there turned out to be. Meanwhile, Saria also showed the other two how to properly hold the baby and they took turns singing to Amy and sharing their respective favorite songs. Malon’s was one that she learned from her mother before she passed away, which she regularly sang to the animals back at her father’s ranch, while Zelda shared the lullaby that Impa had always sung to get her to sleep when she was younger. After a while, they had built something that vaguely looked like Hyrule Castle.

    “How do you like it?” Zelda asked Amy as she set the baby ghost down in front of the castle.

    Amy giggled and floated around the castle. “Casa! Casa!

    The infant poe laughed happily as she climbed up to the roof and began playing around. Unfortunately, the block castle was not structurally sound enough to survive being whacked repeatedly with a ghostly torch and eventually collapsed back into a pile of strewn blocks. All three living girls held their breath, expecting the worst, but Amy continued to dance around happily, laughing and giggling before vanishing, her voice trailing off into nothing.

    “Huh, I guess we did it,” Zelda said, more to herself than the others.

    “Now what?” Malon asked.

    “I guess we head back to the foyer and wait for the others?” Saria suggested.

    * * *​

    Unknown to Zelda’s group, Link, Mido, Ruto and Navi had already returned to the foyer where they had just encountered the eldest of the four Poe Sisters, Meg. The purple poe had challenged them to a game of tag, which was proving quite difficult for the team due to her habit of teleporting around the room and making duplicates of herself to make things harder for them.

    Ruto jumped off a railing and tackled what she thought was the real poe, only for the specter to vanish in her arms as she fell to the floor. Mido was seeing similarly poor luck as he threw a pot at another ghost, which shattered against a wall while the fake Meg disappeared. Meanwhile, Link managed to get rid of two more of the copies while using his hover boots to chase them through the air.

    “Ugh, this is taking forever!” Ruto complained.

    One of the poes twirled around and a voice came out from all of them. “Come on, you can’t give up now! This is just starting to get fun!”

    Ruto lunged her trident at the closest ghost but it was just another fake. One of them twirled again and purple flames erupted from all of their lanterns, chasing after whichever child happened to be closest.

    “And why do you have to keep attacking us?” Ruto spun her trident around, dissipating the claims as they closed in on her. “Isn’t this just supposed to be a game?”

    “Mama and Papa played this with my sisters and I a long time ago, with knives and torches!”

    “Wait, what?” Ruto dropped her guard just long enough for a wisp of purple flame to strike her in the shoulder and she let out a pained gasp.

    “Of course it is, it’s tag. It’s like when Mama and Papa chased us around before they put us to bed for the last time.”

    Link grit his teeth, reflecting on the story Mido had explained to them earlier. He had no doubt that these poe sisters were the girls that had been sacrificed. If their parents were still alive, the young teen would have been tempted to kill them himself for what they had done. No child deserved that kind of fate.

    “That wasn’t a game.” Link looked up at Meg, the one he was now sure was the real one. “Your parents were horrible people. They killed you, didn’t they?”

    “I know.” The ghostly figure noticeably slumped in response while the others failed to react. She was the real one, for sure. “I’ve always known, even before it happened. I was old enough to understand but I couldn’t do anything. My sisters were too young to… I just had to pretend it was all a game. I couldn’t… I couldn’t…”

    Meg began crying, and while she was distracted Link ran through the air, small disks of colored light appearing as platforms under his boots with each step as he closed in on the ghost, before he jumped, arms outstretched. He grabbed her and held her tightly.

    “It’s alright,” Link reassured the dead girl as they fell gently back to the ground. “What happened was a long time ago. They can’t hurt you anymore. I’m sure it must have been awful and you were all denied the lives you should have had but that doesn’t give you the right to hurt others.”

    “I know…” Meg sighed as Link let go of her. “I know, but… Fine, we’ll let the other kids go.”

    Meg floated over to a large bronze torch set up in one corner of the room’s central platform and a deep purple flame burst out of it.

    “That was fun!” Joelle appeared over one of the other corners and the torch in that corner erupted in a red fire.

    “Hi!” Beth waved shyly at Link from the third torch, which lit up in blue fire.

    “Baba!” A green fire emerged from the final torch as Amy appeared above it.

    A door opened from one side of the room and Zelda walked in, followed by Malon and Saria. The three girls rushed over to where Ruto and Mido were standing as the floor began to rumble.

    “Are you alright?” The princess asked.

    “Fine.” Ruto replied.

    “What’s happening now?” Mido scowled.

    The floor in the center of the room began to rise, revealing a small platform.

    “This will take you down to the basement, where we left all the kids we took,” Meg explained.

    “We didn’t mean to cause any trouble,” Beth said. “We’re just so lonely.”

    “When we found that we could finally enter the woods, we thought that it was a chance to finally have friends.” Joelle continued.

    “We’re sorry we took everyone.” Meg lowered her head.

    “Wuhah?” Amy burbled.

    “At least you understand that what you did is wrong,” Zelda replied. “But I can’t imagine how lonely it must have been being sealed away here for so long, not to mention how horrible what happened to you before that was.”

    “We haven’t had the best unlife,” Meg conceded. “But that doesn’t forgive what we did.”

    “No,” Mido nodded. “No, it doesn’t. But as long as everyone’s unharmed, we’ll be willing to look the other way.

    “And maybe more than that,” Saria spoke up, to everyone else’s surprise. “How would you feel about coming with us, but to Kokiri Forest?”

    “What?” Mido turned to her.

    “The woods are practically defenseless right now,” Saria explained. “Until the Deku Sprout regains enough power, we’re under constant threat of monster attacks. We’ve already had to abandon the village itself and we don’t know what the future has in store. What I’m offering is that you four come with us so that you can help defend the Kokiri and the Great Deku Sprout. I’m sure that it will be a lot less boring than waiting around here for eternity, and some of the Kokiri will be willing to play with you once they’ve had time to get over the whole kidnapping thing.”

    Mido grunted. “Ugh, I guess that makes sense. Fine, I’ll allow it.”

    “We’ll consider your offer.” Meg nodded. “Thank you. Thank you so much.”
    Writing this chapter was interesting. All I really had planned for this part of the story was to have the adults fighting Skeldritch in the Gerudo Desert while the kids fight the Poe Sisters in the Forest Temple to rescue some captured Kokiri, which narratively was just to keep all the main characters out of Hyrule proper for reason that will become obvious soon. While the Skeldritch fight has progressed about how I would have expected, the Poe Sisters plot ended up taking a life of its own as I was writing. My only notes going into this was basically ‘the poe sisters kidnapped all the Kokiri so now the main characters have to rescue them’ but then as I was writing the first encounter I realized that the Poe Sister fights in game are kind of like games (Joelle and Beth’s fights are basically hide and seek, Amy makes you solve a puzzle and the Meg fight could be seen as a game of tag) and decided to play into that for writing out the encounters, making some changes for the sake of variety. And from there, I came up with a backstory for the sisters that explains their motivations for why they’re basically just playing with the main characters. Then, as I was fleshing that out, I realized that it explains why they even kidnapped all the Kokiri in the first place and everything just came together from there.

    I’ve already started writing the next chapter (I had another scene with Ganondorf’s group written but realized that I needed to push it back so that the timelines of the two storylines sync up better) so hopefully it won’t take too long for me to finish it and we can finally move into the actual plot of this book. I’m sure you’ll be surprised to see who the villains are going to be this time around.
     
  4. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachiod Machamp

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    The battle lasted for several hours. Of the roughly 5,000 soldiers they had gathered, only a little over 2,000 survived. It had taken their entire supply of Silver Arrows but in the end they won. Skeldritch had been slain, its corpse exploding in a puff of dark smoke. The only sign that the demon had ever existed was the blood and bodies of those who had lost their lives in the intense battle.

    Ganondorf took a swig from his waterskin before returning to search through the fallen for soldiers who were only injured but not dead yet. A scout had been sent to the nearest town where a group of healers had been stationed, but many of the injured would not survive long enough for them to arrive unless they could be treated now, and thus everyone who was able was now doing what they could to help.

    Picking through the corpses like this was the worst part of war, in Ganondorf’s mind. Seeing the faces of those he knew, and even those he didn’t, dead or scarred to the point of being almost unrecognizable. To say nothing of the blood which now stained the desert sands, or the smell of burnt flesh and entrails permeating the air, which was enough to make even some of the most seasoned warriors lose whatever contents their stomachs still contained at this point. This was the biggest battle Hyrule had seen since the great war ended over half a decade before and Ganondorf could only pray to the Goddess of Sands that it would be the last within his lifetime.

    A Sheikah groaned at Ganondorf’s feet, a silver-haired man who looked familiar to Ganondorf, though he wasn’t sure why. The left half of his face was red and covered in blisters, and it was likely that most of his body was covered in serious burns beneath his Sheikah armor. He must have been close to one of Skeldritch’s laser blasts. It wouldn’t have been a direct hit, or the boy would surely be dead, but close enough that the sheer heat given off by it was enough to sear flesh. Ganondorf was glad that he had decided against taking any Iron Knuckles into battle. While the elite Gerudo warriors were normally a major asset in a battle such as this, the thick metal armor they wore would have ensured an agonizing death when exposed to that level of heat.

    “Maz!”

    Ganondorf turned to see Impa rush up to him and crouch down beside the unconscious Sheikah, holding up one of his hands.

    “You know him,” Ganondorf stated.

    “My younger brother.” Impa gritted her teeth while tears welled up in her eyes. “He wasn’t supposed to be here. I had ordered him to stay behind and guard the village.”

    “I see.” Ganondorf nodded. “He’s breathing, though it’s faint. These injuries are severe and will likely never fully heal, but he should be able to recover if we can treat him now. Do you have any potions left?”

    Impa nodded and pulled out her last bottle of the red liquid while Ganondorf gently lifted the unconscious Maz into a seated position. She poured the potion down his throat and after an agonizingly long moment, Maz began to sputter and cough. Ganondorf then lowered him back down and turned him onto his side as the young Sheikah warrior took deep, pained breaths.

    “That’s all we can do for him now,” Ganondorf said. “Other than pray to the Goddesses for his recovery. Come, there are others who need our help.”

    Impa continued to stare down at her brother.

    “Do you hate me?” Ganondorf asked.

    “What?” Impa seemed taken aback by the question as she turned back to him.

    “It’s my fault this happened to him,” Ganondorf explained. “I’m the one who called for the aid of your people. The death or injury of the Sheikah and Gorons in this battle is on my hands. I could have just sent a larger force of my own people. The losses would have been much greater for the Gerudo, but we would have been the only ones affected. And that’s to say nothing of all those who died in the war, by my word if not my hand.”

    “No.” Impa shook her head defiantly. “Every soldier who fell here today signed up knowing the risks. And the war didn’t start with you, but you were the one who finally set your sword down and vied for peace. I do not hate you, King of the Gerudo. And I would not even if I had not fought by your side for the safety of Hyrule twice now.”

    “Thank you.” Ganondorf nodded again. “I hope you can forgive me for fetching for compliments, but I could use every word of reassurance right now to quell my doubts after this… massacre.”

    “I know the feeling better than I would care to admit,” Impa replied. “And how hard it is to cast aside that self-blame even when you know you are not at fault. But as you said, there are others who need our help right now. Let us tend to them for now.”

    “Yes.” Ganondorf rose back to his feet and began walking through the sea of blood and corpses once again. At least he could take solace in one thing: the demonic threat was over and it would be a long, long time before they would have to face something like that again.

    Ganondorf nearly fell over as the earth began to shake. The desert sands muted the effect of the earthquake but the tremors were still intense. He could feel that the quake must have come from the direction of Hyrule proper. For a moment, Ganondorf thought that Death Mountain itself must have erupted, but the plume of smoke would have been visible even from there.

    “What was that?” One soldier wondered aloud.

    “I don’t know,” Ganondorf muttered. “But it can’t be good.”

    * * *​

    The calming presence of the Great Deku Tree’s grove was a tremendous relief after the oppressive atmosphere of the Forest Temple, and Princess Zelda could only imagine what it was like for the Kokiri who had been imprisoned there to finally be home again. The children of the forest laughed excitedly and ran around the hollowed out interior of the Deku Tree, while Zelda and the others gathered around the Deku Sprout.

    “Thank you, heroes!” The young forest spirit gave a full-body nod. “I am glad to see you all returned safely.”

    “Aw, that wasn’t too hard.” Princess Ruto waved her hand as if dismissing the praise, though Zelda could see the zora girl had turned a deep blue as she blushed.

    “We were just lucky that the Poe Sisters were not as hostile as we had initially assumed.” Zelda nodded appreciatively. “Speaking of which…”

    “Ooh, this place is nice!”

    Four colorful spirits appeared above the crowd and looked around. Screams of terror echoed across the hollow trunk as the kokiri began to panic.

    “No, no, wait! It’s okay!” Saria raised her hands and tried to reassure everyone but none of the kokiri paid her much attention as they ducked behind outcroppings and fled into side-chambers. A few would have fallen down the huge pit in the middle of the central chamber if a wooden fence had not been set up around it specifically to prevent that from happening.

    At once, however, the panicked kokiri froze in place and focused their attention at the sound of a loud whistle reverberating through the tree.

    “Hey, listen up!” Mido shouted to the crowd. “Since clearly none of you morons were listening when we explained this earlier, let me say it again! These four are our friends now! They’ve agreed to live with us peacefully and help defend us from the monsters of the Lost Woods! So, I’m ordering you all to get along with them for the time being and anyone who goes against that is going to have to go through me, you got that?”

    There were a lot of hesitant nods and reluctant agreements as the kokiri slowly retreated from their hiding places.

    “Sometimes it’s easy to forget why you were appointed Chief,” Link mused. “It always throws me off when you actually show off your leadership skills.”

    Mido gave an annoyed grunt before turning to the Deku Sprout. “As I just said, we’ve negotiated with the poe sisters to allow them to live here with us in exchange for their assistance in keeping the village safe. I trust that you won’t have any objections to these terms.”

    “No, not at all.” The Deku Sprout laughed and looked up at the sisters. “Glad to have you here. Just don’t cause too much trouble and I’m sure we’ll all get along fine.”

    “Thank you,” Meg bowed, and her sisters followed suit. “It’s been so lonely all these decades, and we’re just glad to finally have friends for the first time since… well, for the first time ever, actually.”

    “I’m just glad that everyone’s safe. Hopefully we won’t have to deal with anything else for awh-” The Deku Sprout froze and stared into space for a moment. “Oh, no… EVERYONE! GET DOWN AND BRACE YOURSELVES!”

    Zelda barely had time to process the order before the earthquake hit. The young princess had dealt with many tremors in her 13 years of life so far, as to be expected when you live in a land as seismically active as Hyrule. But she couldn’t remember ever experiencing one this bad before. Zelda clutched her knees tightly, sure that she was going to be sick as it felt like the very ground itself was being torn apart. She couldn’t hear anything over the rumbling and thundering of the quake and for what must have been at least ten minutes Zelda like the world was coming to an end around her.

    It wasn’t until long after the earthquake had subsided that Zelda had finally found the strength to stand up again, shaking all the way. She tried to dust off her dress, but found herself unable to do anything but just stand there. She turned around slowly, taking in her surroundings as the room finally stopped spinning around her.

    “I thought I was going to die!” Ruto moaned, sitting nearby and holding tightly to her trident.

    To her other side, Malon was curled up into a ball and crying. Link knelt beside the sobbing farmgirl, patting her shoulder assuringly and trying to calm her down. Mido and Saria made their way across the room, checking on the other Kokiri who were just as broken up over the sudden traumatic experience. Even the poe sisters seemed shaken up, despite their undead state.

    “What just happened?” Zelda muttered in a daze as she felt her senses slowly return to normal.

    “This is bad.” The Deku Sprout stated the obvious. “This is really, really bad.”

    Link walked up beside the princess, holding up a still shaken but no longer crying Malon, while Ruto stood up on her other side.

    “Alright, you four!” The Deku Sprout’s voice evened out a little, though he was still clearly terrified about something that no one else was aware of yet. “You need to get back to Hyrule, now! No teleporting, it’s too dangerous. Saria and Navi can show you the way out through the Lost Woods. In fact, you two go with them. They’re probably going to need the extra help. Mido, poe sisters, I need you to stay here and protect the Kokiri. There’s no telling what might try to take advantage of the situation.”

    “What situation?” Mido snapped from the other end of the chamber, where he was helping a boy get his leg out from a hole he had gotten stuck in. “What in Farore’s name is happening?”

    “It’s bad,” the sprout repeated. “It’s really bad. Hyrule is being attacked by demons.”

    Zelda wasn’t sure how, but she was somehow both terrified and relieved at that. Not much was known about demons, other than they were beings born of pure darkness which had plagued Hyrule countless times throughout its ancient history. They were the strongest, most powerful monsters ever known to exist, and could only be killed by a weapon blessed with holy magic. The appearance of a demon was always a tragedy that would go down in history.

    But, they had already taken one out four years ago. Vaati, the Wind Mage, who had abducted the women of Hyrule and turned the men to stone. He was a fearsome foe, but in the end Zelda and her allies had vanquished him and saved Hyrule. A demon was fearsome and dangerous but it was a threat that she knew they could face.

    “Demons?” Ruto asked. “As in more than one?”

    “My powers are still weak, but I can sense at least three,” the Deku Sprout confirmed. “Each at least as strong as the one you fought before. Possibly greater.

    That feeling of relief instantly evaporated. The ground began to shake again as an aftershock hit, but she hardly noticed. Zelda had spent countless hours after the last few years researching everything that the royal library had on the history of demons in Hyrule, in preparation for the off chance that they would have to face one again. In all her research, she had never found any reference of more than two ever showing up at once since the founding of Hyrule and even that was almost unheard of.

    Zelda quickly went over all of the artifacts she knew could be used to slay a demon. When they had fought Vaati, they had used a magic orb called the Moon Pearl to weaken it, but the Moon Pearl had gone missing in the aftermath of that battle. There was the Four Sword, which had been used to seal Vaati away at least twice in recorded history and had been kept in safe in its place in the royal gardens for centuries, but it had also gone missing when Vaati was released. Light Arrows were one of the most common demon-killing weapons in history but she had no idea where they could even get those. She had also seen references to Silver Arrows but she knew even less about those and was partly convinced they were just a different name for the same thing. She once read a reference to something called the Goddess Sword but even the historians didn’t seem sure what it was because of how ancient it had already been to them. Swords, bows, staves, everything that she could think of had been lost to history. Unless the ancient sage Rauru returned and shared the location of such an artifact with them again as he had with the Moon Pearl, she could think of only one possible solution. There was only one weapon they could rely on, if they could even get to it.

    “...Princess… Princess!”

    Zelda was snapped back to reality as Link grabbed her by the shoulder and continued calling out to her.

    “Zelda, are you alright?”

    “What? Oh, yes, I was just thinking.” Princess Zelda muttered and rubbed her chin. “If we’re going to fight demons then we’ll need to get something that we can use to actually fight them and I can only think of one suitable weapon. We’re going to need the Master Sword.”

    “The what?” Ruto asked.

    “The Master Sword?” Malon gasped. “I thought that was just a legend.”

    “Ah, yes, the Blade of Evil’s Bane…” the Deku Sprout nodded. “Definitely a classic.”

    “Am I missing something?” Link asked.

    “The Master Sword is possibly the most famous weapon in Hyrule’s history.” Zelda explained. “Used to defeat countless dark forces and said to have even played a role in the founding of the Kingdom of Hyrule itself, though its origins have been shrouded in myth.”

    “It was once a sword used by the Goddess Hylia to fight the Demon King Demise,” the Deku Sprout elaborated. “It was then passed on to her chosen hero who reforged it within the sacred Goddess flames to create the Master Sword in order to slay Demise once and for all, and rescue the goddess’ mortal reincarnation, your ancestor who also happened to be named Zelda.”

    “That’s… good to know,” Zelda replied. “I think I’d like to get you to share some of your knowledge with the royal historians, if at all possible. You likely know a lot of information and history that’s been lost to us. After this is all over, of course. Anyway, as I was saying, the Master Sword is currently said to be sealed away in the Temple of Time where it can only be accessed by gathering the three Sacred Stones and playing the Ocarina of Time.”

    “Bad idea,” the Deku Sprout said. “Opening the Door of Time would also mean opening the entrance to the Sacred Realm and the resting place of the Triforce. There’s no telling what could happen if you did that.”

    “Well, what else are we supposed to do?” Zelda asked, her voice cracking a bit. “If what you said is true, then we’re facing a threat unlike anything that Hyrule has ever seen! We need a way to fight the demons and I don’t know how else we could go up against something like that. Do we even have another way to fight them? What are we supposed to do?”

    “First, you need to stop and breathe,” the Deku Sprout told her. “You need to keep a level head, all of you. Right now we don’t even know that what I’m sensing is even true. I’m still young and weak at this point, and it’s possible that I’m not sensing things properly right now, or even that something’s deliberately messing with my senses to try and lure you into a trap. For now, you just need to head back to Hyrule and see for yourselves what’s going on. Then you can make a plan once you have more information.”

    “Right, right, of course.” Zelda hadn’t noticed how rapid her breathing had gotten until she made an effort to slow it back down, then she turned back to her friends. “This will likely be the biggest fight that we’ll ever face, if not the biggest in the entire history of Hyrule. I know it's a lot to ask you to come with me, but please, stand by my side and help me save Hyrule once again.”

    “Of course.” Link nodded and held out his sword.

    “It’s my home, too.” Malon smiled, placing her bow atop Link’s blade.

    “I mean, we’re already taken down one demon together.” Ruto shrugged and held out her trident as well. “What’s a few more?”

    “I’ll lend you whatever assistance I can.” Saria added her spear to the mix.

    “I’ll help, too!” Navi chimed in.

    “Thank you.” Zelda wiped away a tear and pulled out her rapier, tapping the tip of its blade against the other outstretched weapons. With a unified motion, they gathered warriors tipped their weapons down and then pointed them all straight into the air above their heads. “Then we march at once. Saria, please lead the way.”

    “Of course, your highness,” Saria nodded as the group turned to leave.

    “Don’t die out there!” Mido called after them. “And for the record, I would come with you if I didn’t have to stay here on guard duty! Probably save all of your lives at least once, maybe even kill a demon on my own. Are you sure I can’t go with them?”

    “I’m sorry, Mido,” the Deku Sprout shook his head, “but demon attacks always lead to an increase in monster activity. Even most animals tend to go berserk at times like these. And since I’m not powerful enough to keep them away from here yet, the Kokiri are all relying on you to keep them safe.”

    “Fine,” Mido grumbled and folded his arms. “I guess that’s important, too.”

    * * *​

    Hyrule Field was a familiar sight to anyone from the area. Flowing emerald hills and wide, open grasslands as far as the eyes can see, interrupted by the occasional tree or river and with a few farms and towns scattered about. Hyrule Field was, in many ways, a fort of central hub connecting the other areas of Hyrule together and, for many, was Hyrule. It was normally a peaceful, serene land resting under a deep blue sky.

    Or at least it had been, just that morning. It was astounding and horrifying to see just how much the topography had changed within the span of just a few hours. Sloping hills and flatlands had given way to jagged mountains and gaping canyons that had been crudely carved out of the land. Even the grass itself seemed to have grown dull and paler than Zelda remembered it. Smoke could be seen billowing up from all across the countryside. So little was left of the once-familiar scenery that it was like they had walked out into a completely different country.

    “I… guess that explains the earthquakes.” Navi muttered, too stunned to say anything else.

    “What could do this?” Ruto wondered aloud.

    Malon grabbed Zelda’s arm and squeezed hard. The princess could tell exactly what was on the country girl’s mind as the thought was currently running through her’s as well. If something had torn up and reshaped the land like this, there was no way that their homes weren’t affected as well.

    “Whatever it was, it’s not done yet,” Link noted as the ground began to shake again. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the initial quake but still seemed to rattle everyone to their very core.

    A roar sounded in the distance, as loud as a volcanic eruption. Zelda almost wished that it was, as Death Mountain was a much more familiar threat than whatever made that beastial howl. The source of the roar soon came into view, rising to the top of a craggy hill that hadn’t been there a few hours ago. The demon, for there was no mistaking what this titanic monstrosity was, resembled a mix of a bull and a lion, with sharp, curved horns jutting out from a bright orange mane that stood out from its bluish fur. The demon’s eyes, glowing and spiteful, were like angry golden stars shiny so intensely that they could be seen clearly despite how far away the demon actually was. The demon was miles away and yet they could feel its malicious presence so intensely that it might as well have been standing right beside them.

    “What… is that thing?” Ruto asked.

    “I don’t know,” Zelda muttered, frozen in place. “It… it doesn’t look like the description of any demon I read about.”

    “I don’t know, either.” Navi added. “I don’t think this is one that’s ever attacked Hyrule before.”

    The demon bellowed again and slammed its arms against the ground, splitting the earth apart where it stood before racing away into the distance.

    “And there are supposed to be three of these things?” Ruto dropped to her knees. “H-how are we supposed to do this?”

    “I don’t know,” Zelda admitted. “But we have to do something. For now, let’s just try to make our way north to Castle Town. With luck, and the Goddesses permitting, we should be able to regroup with the others there.”

    “Right.” Link nodded, and pulled Ruto back up to her feet. “Let’s get going.”

    * * *​

    “What manner of madness is this?”

    No one had been prepared for what they would find as the army passed through Gerudo’s Canyon back to Hyrule. The countryside was, simply put, destroyed. At least half the various settlements across the country must have been on fire. They could see from the canyon that Lake Hylia was flooded. And above all they could see a monstrous figure stomping across the land, looking like the infernal offspring of a lynel and a moblin, and it was clear even from there that it must have been a demon even more powerful than the one they had just sacrificed so much to defeat.

    “In Din’s name, Hyrule has fallen!”

    Various curses and expletives bandied about across the battered army. Ganondorf gazed across the nightmare before him while Impa and Darunia did the same beside him.

    “How did this happen?” Ganondorf had to stop himself from cursing the goddesses. “Why did this happen?”

    “Even Death Mountain couldn’t do this much damage,” Darunia muttered.

    “We must send out rescue parties to the villages and farms,” Impa was visibly struggling to hold in her own shock. “We need to evacuate everyone we can and get them to safety. No one engages the demon until we have a clear plan.”

    “Of course.” Ganondorf forced himself to turn away from the carnage and address what was left of their assembled forces. “Soldiers, brothers-and-sisters-in-arms, friends! I know we only gathered you together to stop one demon and that it has taken everything we had to do just that, but I am afraid that a new tragedy has struck Hyrule in our absence. I know many of you are not from this country, but we all know what it is like to have our families and homes taken from us. It is with a heavy heart that I must ask each of you to risk your lives once again to help the people of Hyrule make it through this calamity. In a moment, we will be organizing scout parties to gather as many of the citizens of Hyrule and bring them back here to safety. You have all already sacrificed much and I am sorry to ask you to risk your lives like this again so soon. Participation will be voluntary, but I ask each of you to please put aside your personal safety for just a while longer and do what you can to help those people currently in need!”

    There was clambering and murmuring as Ganondorf finished his speech, which soon gave way to a roar of triumph as the soldiers collectively agreed to do their part. Satisfied, Ganondorf turned back to his fellow commanders.

    “It would appear that everyone is behind us,” he said. “I’ll organize the search parties. Impa, you know this area better than the rest of us. You’ll be in charge of figuring out where to send them. Darunia, you and Nabooru will lead the largest party up to Castle Town, as the largest city in the area. I’ll leave Aviel here to watch over the refugees that we send here and guide them back to the Gerudo Fortress. Any objections?”

    “Hoo, hoot! Before you get started, I think I should cut in.”

    The commanders looked up at a withered old tree nearby, where a familiar-looking owl had perched without them noticing.

    “Rauru?” Impa gasped.

    “My name is Kaepora Gaebora when I am in this form,” the Sage of Light reminded her. “I know it has been some time since I have appeared to any of you and I wish it could have been under better circumstances.”

    “What in Din’s name is going on?” Darunia asked him.

    “A tragedy unlike any that Hyrule has ever had to face,” Kaepora Gaebora explained. “A group of demons have all invaded Hyrule at once, each terrorizing the land in their own ways. Your armies have already slain the first, in the heart of the desert, but yet three more remain that I know of. The one which you see before you know erupted forth from the ground and began to rampage across the land, reshaping the countryside and destroying countless villages and farms. Another lies to the south, corrupting the waters and Lake Hylia and attacking those who live nearby with an army of phantom soldiers. Fortunately or not, it is still too early to tell, the third demon has spirited away most of the people of Hyrule to Hyrule Castle where they remain out of the way of the others. What it intends to do with them, I do not know, but they do at least appear to be safe for the time being. I wish I could tell you more but even I am not all-knowing.”

    “Thank you,” Ganondorf bowed to the spirit. “Intel such as this is invaluable and will surely aid us in planning our efforts. Though unfortunately, we are currently lacking in the means to fight off these demons, as we finished off our supply of silver arrows already. Even if we sent a scout to the zuna now, it would take some time before they could forge enough for us to use.”

    “What of the princess, and the others?” Impa asked. “If she was at Hyrule Castle, does that mean that she was captured by the demon there? Is she safe?”

    “Fortunately for us all, Princess Zelda and her friends did not follow your directions and left Hyrule for the Lost Woods through the use of the boy Link’s magic. They have had their own adventure but have made it through that trial safely and are now on their way back to Hyrule on foot. After you have made your preparations, I suggest we head to Castle Town to regroup with them and come with a plan.”

    “Well, that’s something at least.” Darunia chuckled nervously.

    “Alright then,” Ganondorf nodded. “Then we will head out as soon as we have organized the search parties.”

    * * *​

    The trip from the entrance of the lost woods to Castle Town had taken Link a full day’s walk by foot when he had first left his home four years ago, and would have taken at least twice that length if it had been in the state it was in now. Fortunately, he was able to use the power of Farore’s Wind to speed up the trip significantly. The Deku Sprout had warned them against using it, which Link now understood to be because the land had changed so much that he couldn’t rely on safely getting them where they wanted to go from memory. But he was at least able to send them in small bursts within eyesight to bypass some of the more hazardous terrain. Though even so, it still took them a day’s hike anyway before they reached the drawbridge leading into town. Or at least, what remained of the drawbridge, which had been split in two while the defensive wall around the city chipped and cracked open in several places.

    As they approached the damaged wall, Link could hear a commotion in the distance and turned to see what appeared to be three figures on horseback along with a tumbling boulder and massive owl approaching. It only took a moment to realize who they were and he stopped to wait for them to catch up, the others following suit.

    Darunia was the first to reach them, rolling up ahead of the others crashing to a halt just ahead of the kids. Rising to his feet, the Goron chief gave a hearty bellow and slapped Link on the back, nearly knocking him to the ground.

    “Hey, kids, good to see that you’re all alright!”

    Kaepora Gaebora, also known as Rauru, flew up beside them and perched on a nearby tree as the trio of Ganondorf, Nabooru and Impa rode up. Impa climbed down from her horse and ran to Princess Zelda’s side while the two Gerudo remained mounted.

    “You’re all safe?” Zelda started to cry. “I was worried that something would have happened to you in all this.”

    “We thought the same.” Impa hugged her charge. “Normally I would chastise you for not following my orders and staying at the castle, but in this situation it appears that was for the best.”

    “Do you know what’s going on?” Navi asked. “All we know is that at least three demons have attacked and, well, when we got here it was like this.”

    “I am afraid that is roughly the extent of our knowledge as well,” Kaepora Gaebora replied. “One is charging across Hyrule Fields, as you no doubt saw, one is in Lake Hylia, and the third is has imprisoned most of Hyrule’s population in Hyrule Castle.”

    Link shuddered and looked up at the castle. And he did have to look up, now, as Hyrule Castle was now suspended on a small plateau towering above the surrounding area, the castle’s moat now being an elaborate system of waterfalls cascading down the steep cliffs surrounding the castle.

    “There was also a fourth demon, Skeldritch, which had been active in the Gerudo Desert,” Ganondorf explained. “All this happened while we were returning from having fought it.”

    “Wait, you already fought a demon?” Zelda asked, astonished. “Why didn’t you tell me that was what you were doing?”

    “We had agreed that it would be best to keep the demon’s presence hidden until after we had slain it. I can see now that was a mistake.”

    “Does that mean you have something that we can use to fight demons?” Ruto asked.

    “Unfortunately not.” Ganondorf shook his head. “We had secured a limited supply of Silver Arrows from the nomadic Zuna tribe but we spent our entire supply taking down Skeldritch. To say nothing of the countless soldiers who lost their lives in the battle.”

    “And the rest of our forces are busy scouring Hyrule to help any survivors that may be out there,” Darunia added. “So for now it’s just us.”

    “That is unfortunate.” Zelda frowned. “I thought that I had a plan but I’m not so sure now. The Master Sword is said to be held behind the Door of Time in the Temple of Time. If we could gather the Spiritual Stones and the Ocarina of Time, then we could open the door and get it, but I’m not sure if that would be possible now.”

    “I have the Kokiri’s Emerald,” Saria held out the green gemstone.

    “And I always keep the Zora’s Sapphire with me.” Ruto lifted up her right arm, where the sapphire hung down from an ornate armband.

    “But the Goron’s Ruby is back in Goron Town,” Dorunia grumbled.

    “And the Ocarina of Time is secured in a vault in the castle.” Princess Zelda looked up to the room where the ocarina would have been. “If one of the demons is hiding up there right now, then there’s no way we’d be able to get it without getting into a fight we’d have no way of winning.”

    “And that’s assuming that any of us could even draw the Master Sword in the first place,” Impa pointed out. “According to legend, only a hero chosen by the Goddesses can wield it.”

    “I have no doubt that Link here is such a hero,” Kaepora Gaebora said, startling everyone else. “But he is not ready for it yet. If he were to try and draw it now, the Master Sword would likely hold him within the Sacred Realm until it decides that he’s ready. That is not something that we can afford right now.”

    “Link?” Ruto gave the boy a questioning look.

    “I never would have guessed…” Darunia trailed off.

    “Well, I can’t say that I’m surprised.” Saria would have smiled if she still had movable lips under her leaf mask.

    “Well, that would explain a lot,” Zelda mused. “Such as his role in my visions or how he just seems to pick up everything he tries almost right away.”

    “Well, setting aside that big revelation,” Ganondorf waved his hand dismissively, “opening the door to the Sacred Realm would also be a bad idea. Someone could barge right in there and steal the Triforce while we’re busy with the sword. I know that’s what I’d do if I were after it.”

    “Oh ho ho, the Triforce. Now there’s an interesting prize. Not what I’m after right now but still something to consider later.”

    Link looked up, along with everyone else, to see what appeared to be a strange old man in a white loincloth flying on a cloud above them, who had yellow skin and a long pointed mustache. But those weren’t nearly as distinctive as his head, which was the same shape as the rupee he was tossing around absently in one hand.

    “What, who are you?” Ganondorf raised his sword up at the old man.

    “Hm? Oh, yes, I suppose I should introduce m’self. Mah name’s Uncle Rupee, but you can just call me your new master.” The old man held up the rupee in his hand and a flash of light shot out from it. “You see, I’m looking for something that was taken from me a long, long time ago and now you fine folks are going to help me find it. Hope all y'all like green!”
    Author’s Note: At long last, we finally get to the actual plot of this story! Hyrule has been utterly devastated! Not one but three different demons are attacking at once! And now, one of those demons has captured our heroes with the intent of enslaving them to his will, and it’s… Uncle Rupee? Yep, I definitely went for a deep cut there. I don’t know much about Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland but I decided years ago to have its main villain be one of the three big bads of this book. We also get a glimpse of another one who you may be able to figure out, and if you guess his identity then you can probably work out the third one as well. The three villains of this book were chosen based on a specific theme and I’m curious who can figure out what that is.

    Man, it feels weird to finally reach this point. For those curious, the destruction going on in Hyrule right now was inspired by how the area seems to change so radically between each game in the series. While I’ve always chalked it up to just differences between games (it would be pretty boring if we just went through the same Hyrule every time) and I doubt there’s any sort of story reason for it, I’ve always liked the idea that there was some sort of big earthquake that happened between Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess which is why Hyrule Field in TP has all of those random canyons everywhere that never show up anywhere else, almost like the land has been torn up by something. Thus, my inspiration for this plotline which will have serious ramifications throughout the rest of this series. I should note that while I always had it in mind that this was a transition from OoT’s Hyrule to TP Hyrule, I ended up changing things up a bit when I got to actually writing it. While the overall layout of the region is still based primarily off of OoT in terms of where the major places are in relation to each other, and the general look of Hyrule Field is now based off of TP, I’m also mixing elements from across the series for this fic’s version of Hyrule. Obviously, we’ve already seen a few places such as the Tower of Hera show up and similar situations will pop up as the series continues. Notably here, the part that I came up with while writing this chapter, is that the area around Hyrule Castle now resembles BotW, which is why it's now on an elevated section with waterfalls. Other differences will probably be gradually introduced over time, but for the most part you can probably still assume that this Hyrule is still fairly close to OoT’s version except where stated otherwise.

    Oh, and as for the mention of Impa’s brother in the first scene it’s an old headcanon of mine that the Impa from OoT had a nephew named Sheik who was close friends with Zelda but who died during early in Ganondorf’s rise to power and that Zelda’s Sheik disguise is modeled after him in tribute. There is no evidence to this idea whatsoever in canon, but I like the idea and have long planned to have a version of that character in this story, though he likely won’t make an appearance until Book 3 at the earliest. I almost had this version of Sheik be the injured Sheikah here, and also would have been a Sheikah archer mentioned in the previous chapter, but I realized that he would only be in his early-to-mid teens at this point (he’s only a year or two older than Zelda, Link and the other kids) and thus too young to have been in this battle. So instead, I decided to make it Impa’s brother instead, who’ll be Sheik’s father if I ever do include him. I had trouble coming up with a name for the character, since no canon version of Impa at this point has a named male relative to draw from. I considered Rune, after Link’s father from an old LoZ manga, but ultimately decided against it (in case anyone’s curious, if and when Link’s father ever gets named in this story, I plan on naming him after Sir Raven from Akira HImekawa’s Oracle of Ages manga, but I may change my mind by the time its relevant as it won’t be for a very long time). Instead, I decided to name him after Maz Koshia, a Sheikah Monk who’s a boss in BotW’s dlc and was playable in Age of Calamity.
     
  5. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachiod Machamp

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    If someone had told Princess Zelda that there was a long-lost underground labyrinth of unknown origins hidden deep below Hyrule Castle, she likely would have believed it. If they then told her that Hyrule Castle and the surrounding area would be torn up from the ground to expose said ancient labyrinth and that almost the entire population of northern Hyrule would be enslaved to a demon who would force them to mine that labyrinth in pursuit of an ancient treasure, she would have thought that person mad. And yet there she was, pickaxe in hand and stationed in one of the lower tunnels. She tugged at the collar of the tight green unitard that she had been forced to wear along with everyone else, but the cursed clothing was practically fused to her skin.

    “I wouldn’t recommend that,” said a young woman with bright blue hair sticking out from the three-pointed hood of her own uniform. “If you pick at it too much, that’s when they really start to chaff. Just ask Barabbas over here.”

    “And people wondered why I never wore shirts,” A burly man with a bushy dark beard, who Zelda recognized as a shop owner back in Castle Town, muttered as he chipped away at the cavern wall.

    Zelda sighed and got back to work. As a princess, she wasn’t exactly used to the physical demands of hard labor but that hardly seemed to matter in her current state. Whatever dark magics that the demon known as Uncle Rupee had used to bind the citizens of Hyrule to his service prevented them from growing tired, or needing food or water. Instead, the ‘Tingles’ as he called them, were sustained by access to rupees. Or at least the rare crystals that rupees were traditionally made from, which is what Zelda and the rest of her people were being forced to dig up for the demon.

    “What does he even want with all of these?” Nabooru asked from the other side of their tunnel. “What purpose could a monster like that have with money? What, does he want to buy more of these garish outfits from some kind of underground demon marketplace?”

    “Rupee crystals are powerful sources of magic,” explained Darunia, who was nearby crushing boulders with his bare hands to release the gems inside. “They’ve been used since ancient times as fuel for powerful spells and enchantments, though that practice had largely fallen out of favor over time. They’re also incredibly tasty. I think they’re what you humans would call ‘candy’.”

    Zelda could see Link standing next to her, as he held up a green rupee and stared at it with interest.

    “Don’t you dare put that thing in your mouth!” Ruto shouted from his other side, but it was too late.

    Link licked the gemstone experimentally before sticking one end in his mouth and sucking on it. Judging from his expression he seemed to like it, though Zelda wasn’t sure if that was genuine or a side-effect of the curse. It was hard to tell with Link, who wasn’t exactly known for his good taste in food.

    “Told you,” Darunia smiled smugly before biting into a red rupee. “Sweet, aren’t they?”

    Princess Zelda briefly found herself contemplating trying one herself but quickly shoved that intrusive thought aside. She wasn’t a goron like Darunia and Link could sometimes be simultaneously the smartest and dumbest kid she knew.

    “Why are we even doing this?” Ruto complained, setting down her pickaxe. “This is dumb. What’s stopping us from just walking out of here?”

    “Wouldn’t recommend that, either,” the blue-haired woman turned and walked over to him. “You guys got here later, so you wouldn’t know, but some folks decided to suck up to the big guy and become his enforcers. Right mental in the head, they are, but unfortunately if one of them catches you trying to run off, they’ll just go straight to ‘Uncle’ so that he can just drag you right back down here. I heard people in the area I was working in earlier call them ‘Scratchers’. Dumb name, but everything’s dumb when you really think about it. By the way, we haven’t been introduced yet. You can call me Marcy, I run the Bombchu Bowling Alley back in town. Or at least I used to…”

    “A pleasure to meet you, though of course, I wish it could have been under better circumstances.” Zelda tried to curtsy, though it was difficult in the green-and-red uniform. “My name is Zelda.”

    “What, you mean like the princess?” Barabbas the shopkeeper asked, walking over to them.

    “I am the princess,” Zelda nodded.

    “Wait, you’re really Princess Zelda?” Marcy blinked a few times as she processed that. “Never thought that I’d ever see the day where I’d get to meet a member of the royal family. And it’s not even the weirdest thing that’s happened today.”

    “I’m a princess, too!” Ruto spoke up. “Princess Ruto of the Zora, the honor is all yours.”

    “I am not a princess,” Link stated matter-of-factly after spitting out the rupee that he had still been sucking on. “I’m Link. I work part-time at the Lon Lon Ranch, though I’m also training to be a knight. Nice to meet you.”

    “And I’m Chief Darunia, Big Brother of the Gorons!” Darunia declared, slapping Barabbas on the shoulder. To Zelda’s surprise, the big man didn’t even flinch.

    “Well, I guess since everyone else has introduced themselves,” Nabooru sighed as she walked over to the rest of the group, “I’m Nabooru, second-in-command of the Gerudo.”

    Marcy and Barabbas shared an incredulous look.

    “Blimey, It’s like we’re surrounded by royals,” Marcy said.

    “We were separated from the other half of our group after Uncle Rupee caught us,” Link explained. “There’s also King Ganondorf of the Gerudo, Zelda’s retainer Impa who’s also the leader of the Sheikah, an ancient sage named Rauru who I’m pretty sure is a ghost but is sometimes an owl for some reason, Saria from the Kokiri Forest who’s basically the closest thing to a mom I’ve ever had, her fairy companion Opera, my old fairy companion, Navi and Malon.”

    “Who’s Malon?” Marcy asked.

    “She’s the daughter of the owner of Lon Lon Ranch, and I guess pretty much my best friend now.”

    “...that feels anti-climactic.” Marcy shrugged. “Compared to the rest of your party, I was expecting her to be a witch or something.”

    “Wait, I thought I was your best friend,” Zelda said, sounding a bit rejected.

    “You’re a very close second, but I spend more time at the ranch than at the castle.” Link clarified.

    “Oh, I guess that’s true.” Zelda relented.

    “Hey, what about me?” Ruto pouted angrily.

    “You’re a friend who’s kind of a jerk sometimes,” Link explained.

    “Eh, fair enough.”

    “What’s going on down here!” A shout came from further down the tunnel. Zelda noticed Barabbas’ eyes narrow at the sound of the man’s voice.

    “Oh no, it’s a Scratcher!” Marcy started to panic.

    “I don’t hear any mining going on over here!” The green-clad man came running up to them. “You’re not getting paid to stand around and chat, now get back to work!”

    “We’re not getting paid at all, we’re slaves!” Ruto argued. “And so are you!”

    “That’s right!” The man snapped indignantly. “You’re all slaves now, so follow the Master’s orders and get back to mining for rupees! The Master Rupee isn’t going to find itse- Whoa!”

    Barabbas grabbed the man by his chest and slammed him into the tunnel wall.

    “How dare you touch me, you filthy-” The man’s eyes suddenly widened as he recognized his assailant. “Oh, hello, father. Still struggling to settle into the new way of things now, I see. You always were old-fashioned like that.”

    “I have no son,” Barrabas growled.

    “Then I suppose I don’t have a father, but I guess that suits me just fine.”

    Barrabas tightened his grip. “What’s your game, Purlo? What could that mad demon have possibly offered you?”

    “Please, don’t call me by my old name. I’m just Tingle now. We’re all just Tingle! Servants of the one true God In Heaven! Our savior who will bring us all to the fated Rupeeland where we can-”

    The madman didn’t get a chance to finish his ramblings before his father knocked him out with a single punch to the face.

    “Your mother would be so disappointed in you.” Barabbas sighed as he dropped his unconscious son. “As am I.”

    “Okay, okay, he just punched out the scratcher,” Marcy panicked. “Oh, we’re all going to be in so much trouble now. We need to find a way out here, fast, before Uncle Rupee catches us.”

    “Okay, yeah.” Zelda agreed absently, still processing the family drama that just unfolded in front of her. “Um, Link? Do you think you can Farore’s Wind us all out of here?”

    Link shook his head. “No, I already tried. This curse thing is blocking my magic.”

    “You’re a wizard, Link?” Marcy asked.

    “Does anyone else have a plan?” Zelda asked.

    Before anyone could come up with anything, the sound of hurried footsteps echoed through the tunnel. Likely a whole group of enemy TIngles.

    “Well, I guess time’s up!” Zelda declared quickly. “We’re just going to have to make a run for it!”

    Zelda and the other captives sprinted down the series of underground hallways while doing their best to avoid any of the guards. Barabbas was at the front of the group, leading everyone through the labyrinthian cave system until they eventually found themselves in a small side chamber.

    “Son of a Dodongo, it’s a dead end!” Darunia exclaimed as he scanned the room.

    “This place is like a maze,” Ruto complained.

    “Doesn’t help that we didn’t even know these tunnels existed this morning,” Nabooru said. “What even is this place, anyway? These seem to be old ruins of some kind, but not in a style that I’ve ever seen before. And how are all of these torches still burning? This place is ancient and underground!”

    “Magic, probably.” Zelda looked up at one of the ensconced torches in question. “But it would take research to figure out how or why they work, and we don’t exactly have the time. But I am curious about what this place is, as I’ve never heard anything about an underground maze beneath the castle before and I’ve spent a lot of time going through the old records.”

    “You’re standing in the remains of what was once known as the Auros Temple, which was built by a long-forgotten civilization that was wiped out long before the Kingdom of Hyrule was first founded.”

    Marcy turned to Princess Ruto. “Now that’s old. How do you even know that, anyway?”

    “I didn’t say that,” Ruto said defensively.

    “Over here!” Link called out to the others from the other end of the room, standing before a row of weathered iron bars. A figure could be seen slumped against the wall behind them but it was too dark to make out from a distance.

    Zelda walked up beside Link and crouched down to get a better look at whatever it was. At her approach, the unidentified being shifted over and pulled itself up against the bars so that its scaly green body was visible in the dim torchlight. It was mostly humanoid, with orange fins sticking out the top and sides of its head, with webbed hands and feet almost frog-like features.

    Ruto gasped from behind Zelda “What’s a river zora doing here?”

    “A what?” Darunia asked.

    “I’ve heard that term before,” Zelda said as the amphibious creature stared back at her with its baleful eyes.

    “They’re an… offshoot of my species. Or maybe just another type?” Ruto struggled to explain. “I think it’s like how Hylians and Gerudo are both types of humans? My people are the sea zora, while the river zora are both zoras but we’re also two different species, or something like that. But my people’s ancestors were said to have driven out the river Zora centuries ago and one hasn’t been seen in Hyrule since then.”

    “That is true,” the river Zora said. Its voice was raspy and hoarse, but a higher pitch than what Zelda was expecting. “The river Zora were forced to migrate to other regions long ago after a long and grueling war. But that is a subject for another day, for my true form is not what you see before you.”

    “What do you mean?” Zelda asked.

    “I was cursed by Uncle Rupee, much like you,” the thing that was not a Zora replied. “But the demon of avarice was unable to bind my form into one of his tingles, so instead he split my power in two and turned my halves into what you see before you. In truth, I am Venus, the Queen of Fairies.”

    “That story seems rather unlikely, but would hardly be the strangest thing that’s happened lately.” Nabooru folded her arms and leaned over Zelda’s shoulder. “So I take it that you want us to free you from this prison and reunite you with your other half so that you can turn back into the fairy queen and stop the demon?”

    “No, my power has been too diminished by this curse to be able to interfere directly,” the prisoner admitted. “But if you can assist me in restoring my true form, then I will do everything within whatever power I have left to aid you.”

    “We would be happy to help you, regardless.” Zelda briefly smiled before returning to a more serious expression. “But before we let you out, we will need to verify your claims. How do we know this isn’t some sort of trap?”

    “You are cautious,” the creature calling itself Venus noted. “Good, there is wisdom in that, as to be expected of a daughter of the royal family. I am afraid that there is not much that I can do at the moment to prove that I am who I say I am. But I can tell you that your party has previously traveled with two of my subjects who were under the Great Deku Tree’s care: the fairies Navi and Opera. In addition, I know that another of my followers, the Great Fairy of Magic, has chosen the boy Link as her champion, having already met with him twice now to bestow gifts of power and courage to the young hero. She also awaits your third meeting where she may finally bestow upon you her gift of wisdom to complete the set.”

    Zelda turned to Link. “Is that true?”

    “Well, we all know Navi, and Opera would be Saria’s fairy,” Link pointed out. “And I have met the great fairy a couple of times when she gave me Din’s Fire and Farore’s Wind. Not sure about the champion part, though.”

    Zelda nodded. “Then I suppose that will be good enough for now. Darunia, could you do the honors?”

    “Piece of quartz!” Darunia laughed jovially as he cracked his knuckles and walked up to the old iron bars. “Now stand back.”

    Everyone backed away from the green-clad goron as he grabbed the bars and began pulling. It didn’t take much effort for him to rip them straight out of the floor to create an opening for the cursed queen to escape.

    “Thank you,” Venus nodded as she hobbled out of her prison. “Though I am afraid that in my current state, I am unable to sense the location of my other half. Finding her may prove difficult.”

    “I wouldn’t worry too much about that,” Nabooru shrugged. “Honestly, I wouldn’t be too surprised if the rest of our group already found the other you and we just need to meet back up with them. The main issue is just going to be sneaking around since they took all of our weapons and who knows how many guards there are right now.”

    “Yeah, it’s hard to believe it’s only been a few hours since ol’ Uncle Rupee showed up and captured us,” Marcy chimed in. “Also, how are you all not more weirded out by this? Is this normal for you lot?”

    “I think we’re well past the point of normal mattering,” Zelda pointed out. “Now, let’s look for the others. Hopefully, they haven’t gotten into as much trouble as we have.”

    * * *​

    The other had, in fact, gotten into even more trouble. Ganondorf swung his sword high, managing to deflect the massive ball and chain before it could hit him, the heavy steel weapon slamming into the stone wall beside him. His opponent, a large, muscular Tingle in gilded steel armor, pulled his weapon back as Ganondorf readied himself for another attack. Impa was off to the side, defending Saria, Malon and the three other prisoners with them. Behind the Tingle Soldier, an injured river zora was locked away in an old hunting cage. The King of the Gerudo wasn’t sure that he bought the zora’s claims of being half of the cursed Fairy Queen but it was clear that this Uncle Rupee demon who had captured them had a vested interest in keeping her locked up if she was under such heavy guard. He was having trouble keeping up with his opponent, the silly green outfit that he had been forced to wear was not only restricting his movements but also seemed to be sapping his strength the more he fought against the guard. He wasn’t sure how much longer he would be able to keep this up but he knew that he needed to try.

    “What are you doing?” Impa asked the gold and green knight, anger in her voice. “Would you really betray your kingdom so easily and side with a demon?”

    “I am sorry, Lady Impa,” the knight shouted back as he spun his flail overhead. “I have no control. This armor, it’s controlling my body as if it has a will of its own. Look out!”

    Ganondorf dove to the side as the steel ball slammed into the ground where he had been standing, turning his momentum into a roll before thrusting his blade toward the soldier. The sword clanged off of his opponent’s armor and the knight was sent stumbling back. However, that also meant that the ball and chain whipped back to him and Ganondorf didn’t have enough time to dodge before the weapon slammed into him. Ganondorf was knocked flat on his stomach, in a daze.

    Ganondorf looked up to see the gold knight swat aside an arrow that Malon had sent hurtling his way. Impa and Saria charged forward with their sword and spear, respectively. The night turned and swung his chain, the spiked ball flying toward them. Impa jumped high while Saria slid along the ground and the ball passed harmlessly between them. Impa thrust her Eightfold Blade through one of the links of the chain, pinning it to the ground as she fell and effectively disabling the knight’s weapon.

    Seizing his chance, Ganondorf shot up and tackled the knight. The two men grappled for a few minutes but eventually, Ganondorf managed to get the upper hand and pinned him to the floor. Saria then tapped the end of her spear into the ground a few times and a mass of vines shot out of the dirt to tie the knight’s arms and legs down. Ganondorf stood up slowly, feeling woozy from how much the curse had drained him in that fight.

    “At least that’s over with now,” Ganondorf grumbled as he sat down on a large rock. “Let’s just get the zora and go.”

    As he said that, Impa was already crouched down in front of the cage, working her way at the lock. It didn’t take her long to get it open and the battered green zora crawled out.

    “Thank you, kind heroes,” the zora said, her feminine voice sounding very out of place coming from the fishlike creature. “I think I can feel the presence of my other half drawing closer. Follow me, your friends should be with her.”

    * * *​

    “This way!” the cursed zora called out to Zelda and the others as they ran down a tunnel. “I can feel my other half approaching!”

    The princess slowed her step as they went around the corner and found herself in a larger chamber full of colorful crystals. They had apparently found themselves in a large Rupee-ore vien that Uncle Rupee’s Tingle slaves hadn’t found yet. At the other end of the chamber, a group of familiar faces came into view from another tunnel.

    “Impa!” Zelda shouted as she saw her retainer for the first time in what felt like forever. “King Ganondorf, Saria, Malon!”

    The two groups reunited but there wasn’t much time for catching up. As soon as the two river zoras reached each other, there was a blinding flash of brilliant green light. Zelda had to raise her arms up in front of her face in order to shield her eyes and when she lowered them again, the amphibious creatures were gone, replaced by a tall woman who dwarfed even Ganondorf, who wore a simple yet elegant green dress, with a wreath of white flowers crowning her flowing brown hair. More distinctive, however, were the large white wings spreading out from her back. Any doubt that Zelda or the others may have had regarding her identity were quickly dispelled, for this woman could have have been anyone other than who she claimed.

    “Thank you, brave ones!” Queen Venus bowed her head to the assembled heroes and civilians. “Without your aid, I would not have been able to return to my true form on my own. Allow me to reward your efforts.”

    The Fairy Queen raised one of her hands and a flash of light erupted from it, dispelling the curse that Uncle Rupee had placed upon them. The garish green outfits that they had been forced to wear were gone and Zelda could feel her strength returning. She quickly found herself on her knees, bowing before Queen Venus in a show of thanks, and noticed that the others had all done the same. However, Queen Venus motioned for them to stand up again.

    “I wish that I could return the favor by casting out Uncle Rupee myself and freeing the denizens of Hyrule from his control, but I am afraid that will not be possible.” Venus shook her head, an expression of genuine sorrow on her face. “For you see, even though I have returned to my proper form, only a fraction of my power has been returned to me. It will take some time for me to recover. Time that we do not have. Thus, I will aid you in the only way that I can in my current state, by sending you where you need to go in order to obtain the tools required to defeat not just the vile Uncle Rupee but all of the threats that currently plague Hyrule.”

    “Where?” Zelda found herself asking.

    “Deep in the heart of the Gerudo Desert, across the Haunted Wastelands, there is an ancient temple of the spirit known as the Desert Colossus,” Venus replied. “Several ancient artifacts have been left hidden there, for safekeeping in the event that a catastrophe such as this should arise. You must find these artifacts and use them against the demons rampaging across Hyrule if you are to save the land and its people. The path before you will not be an easy one but I have faith that you will succeed.”

    “I know of the temple of which you speak,” Ganondorf said. “It is a spiritual place, revered as hallowed grounds by my people, but I find myself skeptical that it could still hold such secrets. Certainly, if there were artifacts hidden there that could slay a demon, then they would have been discovered by now.”

    “I understand your doubt but do now worry,” Venus assured him. “You will find as you search that you will discover many chambers and passages that have been sealed off, untouched by mortal hands for generations. It is there that you will find what you must seek.”

    “What are we waiting for?” Navi asked, flying around overhead. “Let’s get going!”

    “Very well, gather round and I will send you to the Desert Colossus without further delay.” Venus held her arms out, and sparkles of green magical energy began to glow around her hands.

    “Excuse me,” Marcy spoke up nervously from beside Barabas at the back of the group. “Sorry to interrupt. I know you guys are all heroes and whatnot and you should definitely go save Hyrule or whatever, but I just want to point out that the two of us aren’t really suited for that kind of adventuring or whatever. So, we’re just going to stay behind, if that’s alright. Just wanted to make that clear before you accidentally send us with you.”

    “Of course.” Venus nodded. “I would not have made that mistake. You will have your own roles here, assisting me as I rescue more of your kin from Uncle Rupee’s curse.”

    “Alright, good luck out there, then.” Marcy nodded, and both she and Barabas took a couple steps back while the rest of the group gathered closely around the Fairy Queen.

    With another blinding flash, Zelda and the others suddenly found themselves standing before the entrance to the temple, which Zelda noted reminded her of the architecture of the Temple of Hera they had explored in their initial adventure four years prior. More surprising than that, however, was the massive stone statue of a Gerudo woman that had been carved into the rocky cliff above the temple. From her studies of Gerudo culture the past few years, she believed it to be a representation of the Goddess of Sands, a major deity in ancient Gerduo mythology who was believed to be an embodiment of the desert itself, though modern scholars apparently believed to be an aspect of Din. She found herself curious to learn more, but for now, she needed to focus on the task at hand.

    “The Queen of Fairies indicated that there were several relics hidden within the temple,” Ganondorf pointed out as they walked up a short flight of steps to the entranceway. “Searching the whole area may take some time, so I believe we should split up into groups and spread out to cover more ground. Any objections.”

    Everyone agreed, so Ganondorf and Nabooru made the group arrangements as they knew the temple best. Ganondorf went to explore the eastern wing of the temple with Darunia while Nabooru took Ruto and Saria to the western hallway, leaving Zelda with Impa, Link and Malon to search the entrance hall for any other clues.

    At first, there didn’t seem to be much to explore. The large room was split into two levels, the lower section had a stone floor and two snake-like statues engraved with messages in Gerudo script, which made Zelda glad that she had learned the language, even if she was still a relative beginner. However, the messages they bore, or at least what Zelda could translate of them, didn’t seem to contain any clues that she could figure out. The upper level’s floor seemed to be some kind of cement, as far as the princess could tell, with a large red rug in the center flanked by two armed statues, much smaller than the ones below. Zelda and Impa ended up searching that floor while Link and Malon searched the lower one.

    The northern wall, spanning the length between the two side halls that the others had gone to explore, had four intricately carved pillars spread evenly across its length. Zelda found herself examining the designs in detail, not having much else to do, and eventually noticed that one of them had a slightly different pattern than the others. Where the other three each had an indentation, this one instead had a slightly raised surface. Finding this suspicious, Zelda pressed against the erroneous bulge which, to her surprise, sunk into the pillar so that it matched the others. There was a soft rumbling and Zelda turned around to see the two statues suddenly spring to life.

    One of the statues, or Armos, as living statues such as these were commonly known in Hyrule, began hopping along the ground towards Zelda, swinging its axe as it approached. The other went for Impa, who quickly pulled out her Eightfold Blade and engaged the Armos in battle. Following her instructor’s example, Zelda unsheathed her rapier and assumed a proper stance. As the statue approached, she dodged to the left and thrust her blade into the single large eye carved into the center of its face. The Armos seemed to growl in pain and it jumped away from her but quickly resumed its offensive. Thankfully, Armos were limited to pre-programmed attack patterns when they were created and unable to learn or adapt like true living beings would, meaning that Zelda was able to repeat her own actions to continually strike its weak point without issue until the Armos finally burst into magical flames and burned away to nothing. She was glad to see that it hadn’t taken her much longer than Impa had to defeat hers. Zelda took that as a sign that her swordsmanship was improving.

    “Very good,” Impa said, walking over to the princess. “Your form could have used a little work but you were quickly able to adapt and form a solid plan to defeat the opponent. However, next time I suggest being more cautious so that you don’t set off the trap in the first place.”

    Before Zelda could reply, there was another rumble and a section of the ceiling began to fall. She would have worried that the temple had begun to collapse except that the perfectly square cement slab was falling far too slowly to be natural. Sure enough, after reaching the ground, the slab rose back to the ceiling, before slowly falling again. Apparently, defeating those Armos was the key to activating some sort of magical elevator leading up to an upper chamber.

    “Hey, guys, we found a secret passage!” Zelda called down to the lower level to alert Link and Malon of their discovery as it would be best for the four of them to venture up together. However, to her surprise, there was no sign of the two other teens anywhere. “Link? Malon? Navi?”

    * * *​

    Malon was beginning to understand why so many Gerudo women had been moving to Hyrule since the peace treaty had been signed. Even the hottest summer days spent working out at the ranch were barely comparable to the blazing sun bearing down on her and even the winds were far more harsh than anything she’d experienced in her admittedly short life so far. But still, she hurried along the searing desert sands, managing to keep pace with Link and Navi

    A woman’s voice had called out to them from the desert shortly after they had arrived. Malon knew that it was a voice she had heard before and while she couldn’t quite place it herself, it was clear that Link and Navi seemed to recognize it. So, the trio had set out into the desert in the direction that the voice was coming from. A nagging feeling in the back of her mind told Malon that this probably wasn’t the best idea and that they should have at least let the others know they were going. Still, as long as Link was by her side, she knew that everything would be fine in the end. He was her best friend, after all, and had proven himself capable of just about anything in the time she had known him. He even managed to beat her record in her dad’s silly Cucko catching game, to say nothing of the fact that her favorite horse, Epona, had warmed up to him almost immediately despite usually avoiding anyone up to her.

    She found herself staring at the boy, as there wasn’t really much else to look at across the open sands. It was hard for her to believe at times that it had only been four years since they had first met, as she couldn’t really imagine him not being around at this point. Admittedly, he did spend a lot of his time up at the castle, training to be a knight, but the rest of the time he was back at her father’s ranch, either helping out with chores or hanging out with her as they frequently got into trouble. Her father’s assistant Ingo tended to be the subject of their pranks but every once and a while they’d mess with her dad as well.

    Her dad... Where was he? Was he alright? Malon felt like she hadn’t even had a chance to process everything that had happened in the past few hours left. That… thing… which had been rampaging across Hyrule Field… Lon Lon Ranch would have been right in the middle of its rampage. Was her home even still standing after all of this? She could only hope that her dad had just been taken by Uncle Rupee and that he’d be rescued along with everyone else, but what if he hadn’t? What if… what if? No… He had to be alright. He was her dad. He was always there for her, even after her mother had passed away. He was the only family that she had left. If anything were to happen to him… if anything were to happen…

    “Are you alright?”

    She hadn’t realized that she’d stopped running. Or that she was crying. But now she realized that Link was standing in front of her, a concerned look on his face. She opened her mouth to tell him what she was worried about but instead, she began bawling in earnest. She lost her strength and fell forward, Link catching her and holding the girl tightly in his arms. Malon wasn’t sure how long it took for her to recover but eventually, her tears dried up and she was able to stand again, even if her breath was still shallow and shaky.

    “Thank you,” she whispered hoarsely as she pulled away from Link.

    “It’s alright.” To Malon’s surprise, Link pulled her into another hug. Not that she minded. “I hope he’s okay, too. I lost the closest thing that I had to a father growing up and I hope that you won’t have to go through that like I did. Talon’s a good man, but… I know things don’t always turn out right. Just know that no matter what happens, I’ll always be here.”

    Malon felt a warmth that had nothing to do with the desert heat. In fact, she realized, they had actually made it out of the sun and into the shade of a vast cliff that extended as far as she could see in either direction, a pair of strange trees that only had leaves at the top forming an archway next to them. One thing that she didn’t like about growing up, she had recently begun to notice, was that her feelings were starting to change. She only had a few more years until she would be of age and she was finding that being close to Link was growing to be just as awkward as it was nice. She didn’t want to be feeling this way about her best friend but it was very hard for her to ignore how well-muscled he was getting when he was holding on to her like this, so she pulled herself away. He had a princess in his life, after all, and there was no way she was supposed to be able to compare to that. She would have to keep waiting until her knight in shining armor came to sweep her off her feet even if she really, really wanted that knight to be Link. Once they were both of age it would even be a literal description for him.

    Before the awkward moment could continue, to Malon’s relief and surprise, the section of rock wall framed by the two trees suddenly melted away to reveal a tunnel that had been hidden from view.

    “Alright, you lovebirds,” the woman’s voice from before returned, louder and more clear than before, “as sweet as this is to watch, I think you both better come in before the desert gets to you. Hyperthermia’s no joke. You too, Navi.”

    Malon blinked a few times and wiped away what remained of her tears as Link entered the tunnel before following after him. The sudden shock had pulled her mind away from any more unwelcome thoughts and she found that her breathing was level once more. At the end of the dark tunnel was a beautiful white marble fountain flanked by two large braziers. Malon suddenly remembered where she had heard the woman’s voice before and more importantly whose it was, just before the Great Fairy of Magic emerged from the water in front of them, her long pink hair tied back in a trio of ponytails and her shapely body covered in nothing but vines. This did nothing to help with Malon’s earlier awkwardness and she could see that even Link was more uncomfortable with her appearance this time than when they had seen her back when they had first met.

    “Welcome back, my noble champion and his darling paramour!” The Great Fairy of Magic said with a laugh, prompting a chuckle from Navi at the use of a word Malon didn’t recognize. “It has been far too long since I’ve seen either of you! I only wish that our reunion could be under better circumstances.”

    “So, you know what’s been happening in Hyrule?” Navi asked her senior, or at least that’s what Malon assumed the connection between them was. She didn’t actually know all that much about fairies.

    “Yes, I am afraid so.” The Great Fairy nodded solemnly. “In your previous visits, I tried to keep things simple because you were young and not yet experienced in the world. You are still too young, but circumstances have grown too dire to hold the truth from you any longer. Thus, I must simply say what it is that I have to say. Hyrule is in danger, and I am not just talking about the demons currently destroying the land and breaking its people. Those are certainly serious threats that must be dealt with immediately if Hyrule is to survive but there is more at work here than just those three monsters. No, what I refer to are the dark forces working from behind the scenes to bring about these dark events, and those from four years ago. Alas, whatever is behind these plots is shielded from my view, and those of my sisters, but I can tell you that these attacks are deliberate and that there is someone them who must be stopped. That is why I have chosen you, Link, son of Sir Raven and Lady Cia, to be my champion and have bestowed two of my blessings upon you so far, the gifts of Din’s Fire to fight the forces that threaten Hyrule’s peace and Farore’s Wind to return quickly to any place that may need your help. Today, I shall finally grant you my final blessing, Nayru’s Love. Use it, that you may protect yourself and those dear to you from harm.”

    Link walked up to the Great Fairy and knelt upon the golden mark of the Triforce engraved upon the marble fountain. She snapped her fingers and a blue crystal appeared in the air above her hand, which she floated down to Link. As he reached out to it with his left hand, it dissolved into light at his touch before being absorbed into him. He then stood up and held his hands out, creating a blue wall of magic around him before dismissing it just as quickly as he’d summoned it.

    “Good, good. You certainly do have a knack for magic.” The Great Fairy smiled, then turned her gaze to Malon. “And you, my dear. Come here.”

    Malon was startled by the summons but walked up to where Link had been standing, as he stepped off to the side.

    “You were with Link four years ago when I gave him my first gift,” the Great Fairy began. “At the time, I believed that the threat against Hyrule was only great enough for me to select one champion, so I did not offer the same blessing upon you back then. I see now that I was wrong in my belief. Whatever forces are conspiring in the darkness are far too great a threat and thus I have deemed it necessary to select a second champion, and I have selected you, Malon, daughter of Talon and Marin. No, recieve my gifts.”

    Before Malon had a chance to object, the Great Fairy of Magic snapped her fingers and three crystals manifested. The girl merely held out her hand in silence as the crystals floated down to her, red, then green and finally blue. With each one, Malon felt a surge of power flow through her as she absorbed the magic within. When it was done, she gave a polite curtsy as Link walked up beside her. She was having trouble processing what had just happened.

    “Now, my children, it is time for you to return to your friends.” The Great Fairy smiled again. “Now would probably be a good time to practice Farore’s Wind, so that you don’t have to trek through the desert again.”

    “Wait!” Malon called out before the Great Fairy could return to her pool, the girl’s senses catching up with her. “Before you go, I have a question.”

    “What is it, child?” The Great Fairy asked, though from the weariness in her voice, Malon could tell she already knew what the question would be.

    “You know what is happening in Hyrule, right? Can you please tell me what happened to my father?”

    The Great Fairy of Magic merely frowned, a deep sadness in her eyes. “I am sorry that there was nothing that I could do.”

    With that, the woman vanished beneath the calm surface of the water. Malon broke down crying again, with Link once again wrapping his arms around her to comfort the girl. Though this time, he couldn’t hold back tears of his own. Navi remained silent. Not even she was willing to interupt their moment of mourning.

    I know that it’s been a while but I’m finally back with a new chapter. I’m not going to lie, I was actually planning on putting this series on an indefinite hiatus after this chapter. I just lost interest in writing this story and readership’s been down since I started book 2 anyway, so I didn’t see much point in continuing. The only reason I was even bothering trying to finish this chapter was so that I could leave this notice somewhere that people might actually see it but even then other things kept getting in the way and I never got around to it. But then, once I finally managed to get back and finish this chapter, something magical happened: my creative spark for this series returned and I found myself actually enjoying writing this for the first time in ages. As such, I’m going to hold off on setting this aside for now. Though, I make no promise of ever actually finishing the series the series as a whole. I will also probably be making changes as I go to try and make this story a bit easier for me to write. The most noticeable of these is that I’m going to try and narrow down the cast as soon as I get the chance. The main group is just too dang big to properly balance out the characters and some of them, Nabooru in particular, feel like they might as well not even be there. So, some of the characters might be even more out of focus in the next few chapters before eventually being removed from the group altogether if I get the chance in this story, and if I make it to Book 3 and onwards, then I will try to focus on just a few main characters instead of the larger group. Which characters remain in focus may also change from book to book depending on what suits each individual story. There’s also going to be less of a dungeon crawl feel to future storylines, as I feel that the narrative structure doesn’t really work well outside of the videogame medium.

    As I mentioned earlier, it’s been a while since I wrote the first half of this chapter so I don’t remember much of it. I do remember that Marcy is meant to be the lady who runs the Bombchu Bowling Alley, with her name coming from a similar lazy blue-haired woman who works at the post office in The Minish Cap. Barabas is the shopkeeper that you get the Hylian Shield from. His name isn’t a reference to anything, I was just looking at his character model trying to come up with a name and I just went something like ‘You know what, he looks like a Barabas to me’. His being the father of Purlo (Twilight Princess’ take on a more realistic version of Tingle’s character) is a reference to the shopkeeper’s Terminian counterpart being the father of the original Tingle. I was planning on having Purlo be this story’s version of the ‘main’ Tingle but now I’m going back and forth on that. Also, Venus is a combination of two different Fairy Queens from the series, her name and the appearance of her proper fairy form are taken from A Link To the Past, while her role of being split into a pair of River Zora that are reunited by the main characters is taken from Four Swords Adventures. Oh, and her role in the Uncle Rupee plotline probably also makes her the counterpart of the Grand Fairy from Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland.

    There’s not much to talk about with the Desert Colossus part so far, other than this is a big sequence that I’ve had planned for years and will likely take the next few chapters to get through. The Great Fairy Fountain, however, is the big sequence of this chapter, at least as far as I’m concerned, and that part that really got me re-invested in this story. I wasn’t planning on adressing the fate of Talon until after the action at the end of the story but I found that it felt natural to include it here. The destruction of Lon Lon Ranch, and Talon’s death in particular, is going to play a large role in both Malin and Link’s character journeys throughout the series but I don’t want to give away too much right now. I also ended up introducing Malon’s crush on Link here, which may or may not be reciprocated, even though I wasn’t planning to feature that sub-plot until Book 3. However, thinking about it now, it makes more sense to focus on Malon’s feelings here since Book 3’s side of teh love triangle is going to be primarily focused on Zelda’s perspective since that storyline as a whole is planned to mainly focus on her development in general.

    Oh, and I named dropped Link and Malon’s parents. Link has had several different named fathers through various spin-off material and Sir Raven isn’t one of them. He’s a distant ancestor of Link in Akira Himekawa’s manga adaptation of Oracle of Season and Oracle of Ages, who Link allies with in OoA’s time travel sequence without realizing their connection. However, I like his name and that character in general, so I decided to make a version of him Link’s father in this story. Malon’s father is of course Talon as always and I settled on the name Marin for her mother for two reasons. Once, it’s the name of the character from Link’s Awakening that Malon was based on, and two, it’s apparently the name of a specific wind in the Mediterranean region (at least according to Wikipedia) which fits the naming convention of some of the members of the Wind Tribe in The Minish Cap, a group of redheaded people who live in the sky. Make of that what you will. The biggest thing here, however, is the identity of Link’s mother in this story, Cia, who you may recall as the main villain of Hyrule Warriors. This was always my plan for this story but I wasn’t planning on revealing it until the final story of the series when it becomes relevant. However, I decided to drop that bombshell here to keep you guessing on how that will change both her character and the story in general. And, to throw more fuel to the fire of speculation, I will also reveal that she had an unnamed cameo at the end of book 1.

    Oh, and before I go I want to point out that I now have a Discord server for discussing my works. You can find the invite code in my bio or PM me for a link if you’re interested. It’s kind of empty right now and I’d like to have some people to discuss my stories with. It might even help motivate me to update more regularly.
     

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