"Ever since we were kids, I'd always be the one to wake you up when you slept in. But this time, when all of this is over, will you come to wake me up?"
Dreaming of Home
Hallastro curled his chestnut brown fringe around his finger impatiently. It had been nearly 15 minutes since Ningan had gone to the 'toilet'. He was starting to get suspicious. It was lucky that he had placed an electromagnetic ring on his arm so he couldn't step too far away.
Eventually, he got tired of waiting, his stomach was starting to rumble and a delicious lunch at the outdoor cafe was just around the corner. Hallastro went to the public toilets and entered the gents. Sure enough, Ningan's feet could be seen under the cubicle.
"Come along, Ningan," he sighed. "We both have to eat sometime."
"In a minute you impatient fool! Can't you see I'm trying to do my business!"
Hallastro stepped back a little embarrassed. But it wasn't long until he heard the scratching of metal again.
"Ningan, what have I told you? Give it up!"
He kicked open the cubicle. Ningan was standing there chiselling away at his magnetic bracelet with a kitchen knife.
"You can't leave me for one minute can you?" Ningan groaned.
"Drop the knife and let's go." he grabbed him by the arm and escorted him out of the toilets.
Hallastra strolled through the food court, dragging the criminal ninja behind him all the way to the cafe where they were greeted by Eleanor, the waitress.
"Hello there, Officer Hallastra!" she smiled the prettiest smile. Then she gave Ningan a scowl.
"I seen you've brought one of your...clients."
"Yes, my only 'client' which I have been guarding for a month. This is Ningan, one time murderer and terrorist, full time psychopath."
It was true. Ningan had poisoned the Lupawn Gambling Lord, Jestrek and used a Powder Keg to explode the Ambrek Tower, causing complete chaos and terror in the City of Prosperity.
However, there were exceptions. For one, it had been an act of revenge. Jestrek had kidnapped him and two of his friends over a debt problem and threatened to blow up their hotel with the very same bomb. So when his plan had failed, Ningan stormed over and returned the Powder Keg. That was it. Oh, and the bit where he slipped poison into his drink. But he didn't do it single handedly. There had been three others involved, but Ningan was the leader, and when tracked down, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for intentional murder and terrorism.
Now, he resided in the land of Oblim, in the City of Justice, being closely monitored by the Divinites. The Divinites were a race which appeared human but sprouted wings from their backs. It was no surprise that Ningan stuck out like a burnt Zora.
Hallastro was a very handsome Divinite with thick brown hair a very gentle nature. He had been signed up to the police force by his family, but his true ambition was to be a writer. Ningan thought better of mentioning his old friend, Edgar who had also wanted to be a writer, as it might dig a deeper pit.
"What can I do for you then, Officer?" asked Eleanor, ignoring the criminal presence.
"Erm, I'll have a melted cheese sandwich and a side order of salad please."
"Milk please." Ningan interjected. Eleanor's face turned more sour than a year-old carton of the stuff.
"...Coming right up." the words were forced through her lips.
Ningan and Hallastro sat at a lovely table beside a few plants. The City of Justice was a beautiful architectural city with the finest marble buildings and white pavements. Even the courts were nicely built with gargantuan pillars holding their structure to the sky. Although, it was difficult to reach a higher altitude than Oblim. The whole country was situated on a tall island which was veiled by clouds. Such a perfect place to be chained to a confined cell. The only reason Ningan had been allowed to roam was because he was considered too dangerous to socialise with the other prisoners.
The joined pair finished their lunch and were sitting in silence in the food court. Hallastro's eyes would occasionally drift over to Ningan, who would always be sat there glaring at him with scarlet eyes. He never questioned where Ningan came from or what he was doing in Zylia, but had always assumed he was a strange foreign alien intent on killing.
Ningan on the other hand, had always assumed that Hallastro was a stuck-up, boastful, egoistic moron who thought he was above the world just because he was a police officer with wings. He was extremely frustrated with him because he was the only member of the law who had managed to chain him up. Just looking at his pure blue eyes made Ningan angry, but he kept it within.
"Right Ningan." he said. "we're going on a trip through town. I've got a treat for you."
"It'd better be good because I'm not wasting my energy for a balloon or something."
They stood up and once again, Ningan was dragged through the streets by his guard. Each and every Divinite would turn their eyes on him as though he was an intruder in their precious city. But as they progressed to the outer parts of town, Ningan noticed that the people started losing their wings. There were all sorts of strange, freakish people around the allies. Black hair, brown hair and red hair. Not like the perfect features of the Divinites. This must be the outcast part of the city, he realised.
They came to a petite shop on the very corner of the road. A wind chime hung over the doorway began to tingle and a smooth melody began to play. It was signed 'Madame Oneiro's Palace of Dreams.'
"What is this place?" Ningan snorted.
"It's a Palace of Dreams." Hallastro stated. "A very peculiar and wonderful place where dreams become reality...sort of..."
"What do you mean, sort of?"
"Well come inside and see!"
Hallastro grasped Ningan's wrist and they entered the enchanted Palace of Dreams.
The place was decorated with pink lanterns and strange silk curtains, as though they were venturing through a cloud. A soothing harp was playing in the corner. On its strings were long pink fingernails.
"Hello?" Hallastro spoke through the veil of silk. "We're here to inquire about the dream-reality therapy."
"Well what else would you be here for?!" chuckled a female voice. She pulled the curtain back and they were confronted with another veil on her head, covering her face completely.
"My name is Madame Oneiro!" she spoke in a melodic tone. "I here to serve your mind's needs."
She stood up from her seat and allowed a rosy dress to flow around her as well as dirty blonde hair to drape from her shoulders.
"Dream-reality therapy is an incredible journey into your mind which can alter your very thoughts and feelings! It simulates your visions and deciphers them so that they can be understood! For just 50 Rupees, you too can experience this magical quest into your sleeping mind!"
Hallastro handed her the money, which she snapped up like a Deku Baba.
"Wait," Ningan interrupted with puzzlement. "You're going to go to sleep and journey into some dream and leave me here alone?!"
"Of course not!" Hallastro laughed. "I do respect my job you know! I won't be taking part in this experience, I'm afraid. I'm paying for you!"
"What? You really think this is going to be entertaining for me? I'm not some kid you know!"
"This experience is a chance for you to escape this world and enter your memories, how things used to be. Isn't that a treat for you? I'm the only officer who knows about this place so count yourself lucky."
Ningan saw Hallastro's pleading blue eyes and sighed.
"I'll test it out, but you won't win me over that easily."
"I'm not trying to win you over. I know you'll be trying to escape tomorrow morning."
Madame Oneiro seemed to be having some sort of coughing fit which distracted them.
"Oh, sorry," she said instantly recovering. "If you don't mind, could you lie down on that bed over there? Time waits for no man, you know."
Ningan strolled over and pulled the curtain back. There was a delightful fluffy bed, all made up for a customer, with four posts and plush pillows. A strange wooden ring hung over it, decorated with threads and feathers. It was like a dream come true.
"Okay then, there are a few rules I need to explain." Madame Oneiro stated when Ningan had positioned himself comfortably. "When you enter the dream world, you will have exactly one hour to explore. You can do whatever you like in your mind's world, as your body remains still in this world. But when the hour is up, I will hit the gong and wake you up. Your mind will return and your time will end. Is that understood?"
"Yeah, I suggest we just get on with it." said Ningan.
"In that case, I will ready the pendulum."
She grabbed a silver pendant from beside her and steadied it in the air.
"I will begin the timer once you have fallen asleep. Now, watch the pendant. There is nothing else but the pendant."
Freaked out a little, Ningan looked over for Hallastro's approval. He was beaming with anticipation, which freaked him out even more.
"No distractions!" she scalded Ningan. "Focus on the pendulum!"
Madame Oneiro began to mumble foreign words, which distracted him even more.
Ningan focussed as much as he could. The pendant swung back and forth, back and forth. Ningan imagined the soft rhythm of the strings of the elegant harp. Back and forth, back and forth. His mind was drifting into the abyss. There's no going back, he thought. No return...
Thud. Ningan landed on a soft patch of soil, but it still hurt. The last thing he could remember was being warped into a pink swirl and then landing here. Wherever 'here' was. He stood up a rubbed his eyes, unable to believe what he was seeing. A vast, glistening lake spread before him with tweeting birds and splashing fish. A lake very familiar to him. He pinched himself and his hip throbbed. No, this was definitely reality. This was Lake Hylia.
"Where did you come from?!." said a voice which startled Ningan. Behind him, stood a straw scarecrow wearing a ridiculous hat.
"You look a little dazed." it said. "Do you know where you are?"
"Yes." Ningan laughed. "This is Lake Hylia, the greatest source of water in Hyrule..."
"...Exactly. Hey, now you come to mention it, you do resemble that race...the one that died out years ago."
"Sorry, must be off." said Ningan. "I've got a lot of exploring to do."
He dashed out of the lake leaving the scarecrow to query his appearance.
The field smelt so fresh, so wild and so free. He had finally made it back home. To Hyrule. It was the greatest dream he could wish for. The first place he went to was the very north west corner of the field. It was very plain, with just a single tree and a trickling brook. But not for Ningan. He advanced towards the stone wall and saw the Eye of Truth engraved into its surface. The Eye of the Sheikah. His finger traced its pattern and a wooden door appeared. With a click, the door opened. This was surreal. He was actually entering the village of the Sheikah.
Ningan lead the way into the building. A blast of heat warmed his soul as the hearth was alight. The cosy smell of cocoa drifted up his nostrils. There was no place better than the Moonshade Inn. Georgio was quickly entering behind him with the young girl grasping his hands.
"Agabri." he ordered.
Agabri, the maid, emerged from the shadows at the staircase. She seemed as though she had aged slightly. She took Impaz upstairs, presumably to her bedroom. Georgio gestured the seats beside the fire, where Dormin was already sitting, as per usual with his drink in hand. Ningan sat.
"Tell me, Ningan," the leader said sternly. "Is this some sort of horrible joke? Or have you actually lost your mind?"
"I'm not sure..." Ningan stuttered. "I'm not even supposed to be here." This experience was beginning to turn into a farce. He couldn't wait for the gong to sound.
"I think you need medication, fast." Georgio shoved Dormin off his seat. He was jolted awake and his drink splashed everywhere. "You're meant to be in charge of the Stock house, Dormin. Go and fetch some anti-hallucinogenic powder."
Dormin grunted and staggered to the door.
"I don't know where in Hyrule you've been since you walked through that door, but something's happened to you. You know you can't go wandering about during these terrible times."
"Why, what's going on?"
"Oh, for the sake of Hyrule, Ningan, you really have lost your mind! Hyrule is enduring a crisis! A war between the Gerudo and the Hylians! And the Sheikah are right at the heart of it!"
Ningan sat stunned, perplexed and horrified. This couldn't be true. A war in Hyrule? Nothing of the sort had happened for decades. This wasn't his dream. Why would he dream such a terrible thing?
"I suggest that once you take the drugs, you go and rest." Georgio sighed heavily. "You're bedroom is still unoccupied."
Ningan wondered about this concept. Was it possible to fall asleep within a dream? Whether it was or not, a rest was needed. He had had a busy day in the dream-world. Dormin returned with the bag of powder and handed it to him. Ningan nodded good day to him and Georgio before heading to the bedrooms above. He sniffed the bag and refused to take the unnecessary contents within. This left him pondering whether your health could be affected in the dream-world.
Drifting, drifting, drifting. His mind was a ship on the coast of Yosgul. He was scanning the horizon for a dock. But there was none. No sign of land for miles. So he stayed, drifting and drifting...
Ningan awoke on the same straw mattress of his former bed in the Moonshade Inn. He felt refreshed, but not drowsy. It was as though he hadn't slept a wink, despite the morning sun rising through the tiny window above his bed. Hearing voices from downstairs, he went to investigate.
The whole party was gathered around the hearth like usual. There was Georgio, the loyal leader, with Agabri the maid, Dormin the drunk, Jakunu the chef, Stalea the swordsman, (or swords-woman.) Tyruja the peculiar and Impaz, whoever she was. They were all leaning in to listen to Georgio's every word.
"What's going on?" Ningan yawned.
"Ningan, I think that you had better sit down." said Jakunu, as he stood up. "I'll go and fetch you some warm cocoa to awaken your senses."
He toddled off to the kitchen behind the bar. Georgio inhaled.
"What is this all about?" Ningan asked Georgio, consumed with worry. The rest of the tribe looked incredibly soleum, and nobody was talking.
"It is the Gerudo." "Georgio finally spoke. They have summoned their servants to attempt to steal the Golden Power which we refer to as the Triforce. If they get their hands upon it, Hyrule will face its doom. And they have almost succeeded."
There was a terrified gasp from the crowd which erupted in chatter and gossip shortly afterwards. It was Tyruja, who raised his umbrella to the gathering, who brought silence once more.
"It seems that we can do nothing about this event." Georgio sighed. "The Royal Family claims that the Sages have the situation under their control. They have supposedly hidden the Triforce deep within the Sacred Realm, far enough to keep evil forces away. But I have my doubts. Which is why I have created a plan."
"It is a plan which will ensure the safety of our tribe. As the Royal Family have already sought refuge, it seems we must to, as we are next on the hit list. That is why we are going to retreat...to the sky."
There was a deathly silence among the group, until Dormin cracked up.
"You can't be serious! The clouds are no place for any man!" he cackled. "It is a place only for angels! That is why the heavens are impossible to reach!"
"You, Dormin, are a fool." Georgio declared. "The heavens are not for angels, but for the Oocca. The Oocca are a bird race which inhabit the sky and have been connected to the Royal Family for quite some time. Like us, they have hidden themselves from the rest of Hyrule, only to emerge when the fair land is under attack."
"And you expect us to live among birds?" asked Ningan, disgusted at the proposal.
"Only until the situation is controlled, and then we may return. It is a safety procedure to ensure the security of our tribe."
"It sounds ridiculous to me." laughed Stalea. "Just how do you expect us to reach the sky?"
"Through a Sky Cannon." Tyruja interjected. "A special contraption which we have been keeping for many years beneath the soil of our own village."
"There is a special passage behind the cellar of the Stock House. It leads to a sacred hollow where the Oocca placed the Sky Cannon many years ago. It can take us right up to the clouds with ease."
There was much discussion about the whole concept, with excitement and anticipation. It seemed as though everyone was agreed to the idea. Except Ningan. It appeared so surreal. It made him wonder whether he was experiencing yet another dream. Yet, he had managed to drink the cocoa, and feel the warmth of the fire.
He didn't really wish to go either. He imagined going mad talking to birds on a remote island in the clouds, with no other contact. But he had no option. For his own safety, he would have to head skyward.
Hallastro bit his lip with anxiety. For some reason, Ningan wasn't waking up, no matter how many times Oneiro crashed that blasted gong. At first, they had presumed that he was dead but Hallastro pointed out his breathing. After that, the crazy mage had threatened to charge him by the hour, but he had refused.
"This oaf is wasting my valuable time!" she snarled. "For this is my career and I must make money to feed myself! Instead, I will have to solve his problems!"
"It was you who put him to sleep." Hallastro pointed out. "Why can't you just wake him back up?"
"You are foolish and therefore do not understand the concept of dreaming!" Oneiro growled. "Only when the dream is finished and the story is complete will he awaken!"
"And how long will that be?"
"Until his adventure ends. And by the looks of it, he's having an incredible time."
For the rest of the day, the village was in mourning. The Sheikah knew that once they had retreated to the Sky, they could not return to the same village. Apparently, the same thing had happened hundreds of years ago. The Sheikah had decided to guard the Castle to protect the Royal Family, but had to sacrifice their village's security. Their village became known as Kakariko.
Every member of the tribe was gathering the things that they wished to take on their journey. Things like clothes were essential. Stock items were not. But Gossip Stones were a must. This was going to be the only way that they could communicate to the world below.
Jakunu was finding it hard to say goodbye to the Moonshade Inn. It had been his home for many years, and he had cared for it like a child, always polished its wooden tables and giving it a fresh coat of paint once in a while. But now it was going to fall into disrepair and ruin. Ningan tried to comfort him, with hopes that he could build a new Inn up in the Sky, but the idea seemed impossible. Jakunu decided that he wanted to be alone and sent Ningan away to spend time with Impaz, his supposed daughter.
They left the Inn and went quietly to the water tank. Impaz never spoke a word. This was supposed to be quality time where Impaz could talk to her father, and he could discover exactly where she had come from.
"You need to use a better bottle than that." he told her. "It's just going to break on the flight and you're going to die of thirst."
Impaz gave him a look of despair. She had obviously taken him seriously. He had never been good with kids.
"Impaz, I know how silly this may seem," Ningan sighed. "But I have lost my memory, and don't remember much about you. Do you think you could fill me in?"
She inhaled and knelt down to fill her bottle.
"I used to live in a village in a valley. It was a pretty place, and I wouldn't have dreamed of living anywhere else. The birds would flock from the coast and we would bake bread in our mill."
"Me and my grandmother. She taught me had to grind the grain and use the stove. Anyway, the village was beautiful...during the day. During the night..."
"What happened?" Ningan questioned, anxiously. "Were their monsters? Thieves?"
"Much worse." she shuddered. "The dead would walk our streets. Ghosts, from another dimension. They would terrorise mothers with young and the livestock from the farm. The whole village would locked their doors for fear of their dreaded entrance."
"What did they look like?"
"They were just human. But they had twisted faces with dark eyes, and the most evil ways. People would sometimes disappear, never to be seen again. But my grandmother knew where they had gone. They were hostages of the dead."
"So when did I find you?"
"One night, the usual routine. The ghosts were haunting our homes again. But then you came, and scared them with your weapons. You freed the village for just one night. We praised you and offered you hospitality. Then two days later, my grandmother told me that I was going away, to stay with the hunters."
"Hunters? Who else was there?"
"There were four of you. You, Georgio, Stalea and Marston. You took me from my village and we travelled all the way to Hyrule."
So if there were four of us, how did I come to be your father?"
"The tribe had a meeting, and they found it appropriate for someone who owned their own home to care for me."
"But I don't own my own home in Kakariko any more! I sold it long ago! When I went travelling!"
"Travelling? Georgio tells me that you have stayed in the village for over eight years!"
"That is a lie! I have been travelling with the Resistance, the Royal Forces of Hyrule!"
"Ningan, you've never met the Royal Forces of Hyrule."
Ningan and Impaz turned to see Marston holding a bucket of water. He was wearing his usual silver waistcoat and greeting smile.
"Marston, you of all people know that I have travelled with the Resistance for four years!"
"I don't know what you're talking about Ningan!" he laughed. "I don't even know who the Resistance are!"
Ningan was horrified. This was so untrue! It was so unfair! Was this some sort of sick joke played on him? Why would Marston do such a thing? Had a whole chapter of his life been erased suddenly? Ningan threw the bottle to the ground and stormedtowards the village exit without even looking at them. There was only one explanation for this. This couldn't all be real. This was a dream. He had been lied to by his own subconsciousness and was being made a fool of. He wasn't going to stand for it any longer.
Without hesitation, he dashed from the village into Hyrule field and hurried towards the grand Hyrule Castle in the distance. Ningan ran and ran, full of angry energy which wouldn't let him down. He came to the castle drawbridge, and to his horror, found the splintered wood floating in the moat which surrounded the town. He waded through the water and into the town. The whole place was gloomy, grimy and deserted. So this was what the cost of war had done to Hyrule. As Ningan rushed towards the bleak horizon, he could only hope that the citizens of Hyrule had been evacuated as the Sheikah would soon be.
Grey clouds cloaked the towers. The lack of light laid dust on the windows. There were no guards, no tradesmen, no visitors. Hyrule Castle was in ruin. A tear faltered in Ningan's eye. A place which had once been his home, now empty and abandoned. The people who he once knew and loved, were maybe dead and gone. Courageously, he stepped into the entrance hall.
The corridors of the castle were practically empty. Once in a while, a maid would pass by but when Ningan tried to attract their attention, they would ignore him completely and stroll on. What was going on? Eventually he reached the throne room. He twisted the iron handle and explored inside. The Princess sat firmly on her violet throne, awaiting appointment. Ningan marched towards her and bowed.
"Greetings, Ningan." she spoke in a sombre tone. "I know how hard it must be for you in these dire times."
He nodded and stood to look at her. She looked sorrowful, and her eyes had formed red rings from weeping. Her skin was sickly pale and her body bony and weak. This was not the Princess Zelda which he remembered. This was just a lifeless imitation of the girl he once knew.
"Ningan..I have something to tell you..." she whimpered, and her eyes closed. "But when you hear it, I wish you not to think of me as weak or cowardly...Will you listen?"
Ningan saw the tears once again trickling down her trembling cheeks and felt a surge of pity. "Of course I will listen." he assured her.
"I have made a terrible mistake." she moaned. "I...I allowed the Gerudo tribe to take domination of our land and even the key to the Sacred Realm itself...the Master Sword."
Ningan stood silent. He could guess what was coming,.
The Sacred Realm will fall. The Triforce will be claimed by their hands. The end of Hyrule is nigh. The choice has been made to rid this world of evil once and for all. I have ordered the evacuation of every soul in the land, and I will sacrafice myself for their cause."
Ningan's heart dropped and his body collapsed to the marble floor. This was no dream. This was pure nightmarish.
"You mean you're goign to stay here and let them destroy you?! You've gone mad, Princess!!!" he begged himself to believe. "This isn't really happening."
"I'm afraid it is, Ningan." a voice echoed from the entrance hall. Ningan turned around to see Lamatte. His armour gleamed, even in the dull light which shone through the storm outside. To Ningan, it seemed very awkward. This was a dream so he was unsure that the events prior to his imprisonment had occurred.
"We have lost many men and women fighting this war. Once they were granted entrance to the Temple of Time, we knew we were defeated. I have chosen to stand by the Princess, alongside every other member of the Resistance. Will you join us, Ningan?"
Ningan stood and stared at Lamatte. Such a sacrifice seemed such a waste. He did not believe for a second that the Royal Hylian Forces could be defeated by the female warriors of the desert, especially if they were all as strong and bold and Lamatte. He then turned to Zelda and saw her misery and woe. Ningan had always thought of her as a wise and confident ruler. To find her weakened and frail seemed impossible.
"I don't know." he finished. "I have duties to serve both your family and my own. If Hyrule is truly defeated, then why should I protect its royalty?"
And with those last words, he dashed out of the throne room and down the spiral staircase which lead to the castle basement. After two or three turns, he came to the corridor which hid the entrance to Ningan's bedroom. He stopped outside the wooden door and cried. Instead of the usual Sir Lamatte and Ningan engraved on the surface, it was simply titled Sir Lamatte. With a final blow of disappointment and depression, he crept away from the castle in order to return to his true family.
Madame Oneiro was flustering about in a chest near the counter. Both of them were becoming extremely frustrated, with the sleeping shell on the bed and each other.
"What are you searching for?" asked Hallastro.
"An item which could possibly help your friend! An item which I haven't used for a long, long time..."
"Well hurry up about it!"
She grimaced and emerged with a looking glass of some sort. She blew on its dusty surface and revealed a scarlet lens. Hallastro examined it with puzzlement.
"What is it?"
"It is what is known as a Lens of Truth. It allows invisible objects to be seen with the naked eye."
Strangely, Hallastro felt as though he had seen an item like it before, very recently. No, not an item like it. He had seen the very same item.
"And how will this help us reach Ningan?"
"The mind itself is not visible to the naked eye." she lifted her veil. "But with this magical Lens, all of his dreams will be unearthed."
He watched her lean over the silent body will lay still and place the mystical lens over his forehead. Her expression would jump from a twist of confusion to a look of horror. It left Hallastro in complete uncertainty. Eventually she dropped the Lens back into the chest and turned to tell him exactly what she saw, so he hoped.
"It seems that Ningan's is drifting between two worlds." she announced. "However, one of these worlds is the world we know: Reality. The other is a dream, configured from pieces of Ningan's imagination. He is trapped between them, as though some force of evil is pulling him to each one."
"So how do we get him out?"
"The only way we are going to remove him from this cycle is by confronting his dreams themselves. We have to journey into his mind and see things how he does. Once we do that, we need to alter the events which occur. To do that, mwe need you to dream yourself."
"But I don't know anything about Ningan! He's just a convicted criminal that I'm paid to guard!"
"It seems that you would know more than you think. I will fetch the pendulum and put you to sleep. Then, it is up to you to remind Ningan that he is still dreaming and get him back to the world of reality. But you had better hurry. By the looks of things, a terrible disaster is going to happen within both of these dreams and destroy his mind. This will force him to choose which dream to die in."
"How much will it cost?" he asked stupidly.
"I'll do it free of charge. Now focus on the pendulum while I recite the spell..."
Hallastro landed with a thud on a comfortable mattress. Almost as comfortable as the feather filled one he had at home. The sky outside was dark and dismal. Definitely an apocalyptic sort of day. Suddenly, a shape began to move in the corner. Hallastro was not alone. He stood up and drew his guard baton. The figure turned and looked into his eyes. It leapt up from its bed and challenged him.
"Who the hell are you?!" it yelled, snatching its weapon. A feeble sword of steel.
"I am Hallastro the fourth, servant to the Oblimian Royal Family and guard to his majesty's prison! Present yourself!"
"I am Lamatte the first, servant to the Hyrulean Royal Family and servant to her majesty's resistance!" he pointed his blade. "Now explain just why you are stood in my bedroom or fight!"
"I am here for Ningan, the prisoner that I am guarding, so as to take him back to my world."
Lamatte withdrew his sword and stood glaring at the angelic alien before him. Hallastro also withdrew his weapon as a sign of trust.
"Since when was Ningan your prisoner?!"
"Since he was charged with the murder of the descendant of the greatest Lupawn in history. Now tell me where he is!"
"I don't know where he is! He must have left since I saw him in the throne room!"
Hallastro kept his eyes fixed on the knight. "The throne room? I shall go and find him then, if you are telling the truth."
He strolled towards the door but was halted by a sharpened sword blocking his path.
"I refuse to let you take Ningan to prison. No matter what world you may come from, you will fight for his freedom, to the death if so be it."
Hallastro raised an eyebrow and reluctantly drew his baton once more. "If so be it..." he nodded in agreement.
Lamatte charged furiously towards the Divinite with his blade raised to strike. Hallastro simply held out his baton in a blocking position. The sword collided. Zap. The foolish man collapsed to the floor. The electricity had passed straight through his sword and shocked violently. It was only temporary, but still enough to put him in his place. Hallastro placed his baton back into his belt and left the bedroom.
Ningan appeared in the Sheikah Village once again. Hewanted to see his family and be with them during there last moments in the village. Even his daughter, who he never remembered adopting, should be with him during teh final hours. Cautiously, he ventured inside. There, all the Sheikah gathered at the bar, just relaxing with a mug of cocoa. Marston looked up to see him, followed with Stalea and Tyruja.
"Have you calmed down yet?" asked Marston in a very patronising tone.
"Yeah, apparently you got yourself all freaked out about some fantasy you had about being part of the Royal Hylian Forces!" cackled Stalea.
Ningan strolled over casually and snatched the mug from her palms. It upturned and the liquid flowed out. He finished it off before returning it to Jakunu, who was staring, astounded.
"So you wanted to prove a point, did ya?"
She drew her sharpened stars from her belt. He drew his daggers.
"Now, now, children." warned Tyruja with temperateness. "Let's have no fighting while there's crockery about. Not to mention the fact remains that we're meant to be a family."
"You can choose your friends," Ningan spat. "But you can't choose your family."
He returned his daggers to his belt and strolled towards the door. He looked back at each member of the tribe. Marston was upset, and he looked at Ningan pleading for peace. Stalea was glaring with devilish red eyes, showing no remorse. Jakunu had stopped working and was watching the show take place, as were Dormin and Agabri. Georgio was shaking his head with shame, and Tyruja was looking very neutral, examining Ningan with thought.
"I don't think us all being stuck on some floating island is going to work." Ningan concluded. "Which is why I'm going to stay. I hope you come back someday, but for now, it's goodbye."
Without waiting for a reaction, Ningan opened the door and slipped away. He was upset at his decision, and was certain that he would later regret it, but now, it was time to return to the castle, to inform Zelda of his answer.
Hallastro marched through the complex castle, opening and closing every single door as he passed, in search of the throne room, where Ningan was rumoured to have been seen. It was difficult to believe that all of this was made from figments of Ningan's imagination, as it was an incredibly large expanse of architecture. It was even harder to believe that despite Ningan being unconscious, all this still existed.
He found himself at a grander looking door, with golden handles and ornate wooden carvings. The door creaked open and he saw a giant marble room with a throne in the centre. On the throne, Hallastro saw a young lady sat waiting for him to approach her. She smiled and beckoned him forward. As he came closer and saw her blonde curls fall down to her shoulders, he recognised her at once.
"Eleanor?!?!" Hallastro gasped.
"Don't look so surprised, Hallastro!!!" she grinned. A veil covered her face and she wore a crown as though she was princess. "This is your wish after all."
"Yes. It is your wish that I am here, within this castle, so as to aid you on your sequel."
"The sequel to the book that you have just published."
"Eleanor, I have never published a book!" he hissed. "It has always been my dream, but I have never reached that goal!"
"Indeed, it has always been your dream." she glowered. "Which is why here, it has been fulfilled. This is your imagination, Hallastro. This is your dream."
He looked at the dazzling maiden before him as a golden light appeared above her dainty tiara. A light coming from a window. Around him, the whole room had transformed from a cold, empty castle to a study, complete with candlesticks and a varnished desk, with a few pages scattered across its surface. It really was his dream.
"But where's Ningan?" he asked the strange princess.
"Forget about them, Hallastro." Eleanor's sweet voice assured him. "They are nothing. They do not exist...not in this world."
Oh no, he thought. It was clear what had happened. The curse which had took Ningan's mind was taking his too. And he didn't know what to do about it.
Ningan arrived at the Castle gates. He was pondering his decision once more. If he entered and confirmed with Zelda that he was going to stand by her during her sacrafice, there could be no turning back, if he wanted to preserve his dignity if he wanted to stay alive and well, with his family all around him, he would have to return to the Sheikah Village and apologise for his actions before it was too late.
"Having a little bit of tough time, I see?"
Ningan jerked awake and saw Tyruja with his regular black umbrella. He always seemed to appear from nowhere, but at the best times. "You could say that."
"You have been acting really strange since you went to bathe in Lake Hylia."
"It's not my fault!" he cried. "I seem to forget certain things, such as my own daughter, and imagine other things, like the Resistance. I just don't know what to do, Tyruja!"
"Well, I'm no doctor. But I don't think even a doctor would be able to diagnose what you have." He swivelled his umbrella on the ground and pondered. "The memory that you have of the Royal Hylian Forces is quite remarkable, considering that you've never seen them. Very detailed and precise. It makes me wonder..."
"...if you had a dream of some sort. A dream that felt so real, it was as though you were there, living it. Maybe if you decided to drop by the Castle, you might discover a thing or two."
"Do you think I should?"
"You used to be good friends with Zelda, didn't you? I'm sure she'd welcome your return."
"But what about the evacuation?"
"Ah. I hadn't thought of that." Tyruja sighed. "There's only one piece of advice that I can offer you. Try and remember as much of your dreams as you can. Write them down somewhere, in the back of a book or something."
Ningan reached into his satchel and searched for a book. Strangely, he didn't recall owning any books; reading wasn't his hobby. But sure enough, he felt the leather spine of a thick hardback. As he revealed its cover, it was titled 'A tendency to forget.' When he glanced up for Tyruja's approval, he had vanished.
Hallastro scavenged his desk in frustration for any sign or clue as to where Ningan might be, or even the owner of the castle.
"Aren't you going to continue writing?!" Eleanor hissed. "I didn't come here to watch you mess up your study area!!!"
"Well why don't you help me then!!!" he yelled.
"Help you do what?"
"Look for him!"
"The...erm...the person who was in this castle!"
"Hallastro, it was only ever you and me in this room."
"Was there?" His memory cast back to the man he had challenged just moments ago? Or was it a woman? What did they even look like?
"I suggest you get back to work." she advised. "You only have one more month before the editor wants to see a hardbound novel complete."
"I suppose you're right." Hallastro sighed. "What was the title of the book again?"
"Oh for goodness's sake, Hallastro! You've been writing it for weeks! Ironically, it's called 'A tendency to forget.'"
"Of course." he grabbed the nearest pages and scanned through them. The second chapter began with:
The Knight stood proud and tall, dressed in a golden dinner suit, looking quite smart and handsome. His shiny brown hair was combed firmly to look a little more presentable for the ball, compared to how he used to dress in the castle, thought Ningan.
What on Earth was this story meant to be about? He knew no knights, no ball and no castle. It was a strange creation from his imagination that he had never realised before.
"Excuse me!" Eleanor interrupted. "You're meant to be on chapter 6 by now! I was going to offer you some inspiration but you don't seem interested!"
"No, I am interested." he assured her without taking his eyes off the page.
"Good, here's my idea: once they head back on the road, they encounter a strange mythical creature called a unicorn. It warns them of danger ahead and orders them to turn back. The unicorn then takes the reigns of the wagon and they ride across a rainbow bridge, which takes them to..."
Hallastro was no longer listening. As he read further, he had discovered that the entire story was about some sort of ninja-assassin, called Ningan. He had heard the name before, but could not remember where. In his mind, he focussed hard on the name and imagined the figure of a man dressed in bandages and indigo clothing, with a crimson eye painted onto his chest.
A crashing sound occurred behind him. Eleanor shrieked and he spun round instantly. Just as he had imagined, Ningan had appeared from thin air and was sitting in a plant pot which he had knocked over the floor. he brushed himself of soil and stood up rubbing his crown.
"Who is this fool?!" Eleanor screamed.
"This is Ningan!" Hallastro said proudly. "He's the main character of my story!"
"Well can you tell him to fetch a brush to sweep up this mess? This is my castle you know!"
As Hallastro's arms flung around him, Ningan stood in a haze of confusion. Just a few seconds ago, he had been sat in the Sheikah Dojo reading a book which he had never seen before, and he had ended up sitting in a plant pot.
When Ningan turned to the first chapter, it read:
It was a silver night on the Mirror Lake, the full moon reflected off the clear blue water created a very romantic atmosphere.
Ningan wandered through the damp undergrowth on his toes, so as not to disturb any of the exotic wildlife the lurked in the tropical trees. In his right hand, his trusty dagger, sharpened to a point which no vine could withstand. In his left hand, the letter which had been directed to him through the mail. It had been written in a crisp golden parchment, but with no address.
What the hell?! This story was all about him!
He felt angry and suspicious that someone had written a whole book about an adventure which he hadn't even experienced yet. Instinctively, he turned back the cover to inspect the author's name. It was written by someone called Drawde Hallastro. Hallastro. It all came flooding back to him. And in that instance, Ningan was warped to the unfamiliar castle.
"Finally, you're back!" Hallastro beamed. "How, I don't know, but now we can both get out of here!"
"This is all a dream, isn't it?"
"Every part of it! There is no dramatic apocalypse! No vicious knight! No barren village! It was all just a dream!"
Ningan contemplated this concept and spotted Eleanor glaring at him. Her face was darkened, only lit by the roaring flames of the fireplace. But something glinted in her right hand. Something shiny and sharp. A malicious smile crept across her face, revealing terrible fangs.
"Eleanor! What are you?!" Ningan scowled.
"I am your worst nightmare. I am the Nightmare." she growled. "I am the essence of your imagination which brings fear and terror into your mind."
Hallastro stood gazing at her in amazement. He had never seen her look so ugly and terrifying.
"But you're part of my imagination," he frowned. "not Ningan's."
"I am part of everyone's imaginations!" she cackled. "I do not always remain in this form. Sometimes I am a sweet princess such as now, intent on ruining the novel which brings you wealth. But other times, I can appear as a storm, raging over a forbidden settlement, destroying its villagers until they are no more."
She turned to Ningan. He gritted his teeth and placed his hands cautiously on his trusty daggers.
"Yes, it's true!" her voice turned hysterical. "I am what has been bringing you misery during your insomnia! I stole from you everything you lived for! Your family, your friends and your future!"
"But you have not succeeded." Hallastro stated. "I am here with my study, my book and my friend."
Ningan glanced at him in mistrust.
"Which is why I have come to finish the job!" Eleanor raised her knife. When Ningan drew his daggers, they watched the feeble blade grow into a deadly black sword. Ningan leapt towards her, but was cast away by some sort of force.
"Foolish ninja!" she laughed. "I am not here to fight you. I'm not even here to kill you. After all-you cannot die in a dream, as there will always be a life in reality."
She strolled towards Hallastro, who had his baton pointed towards her. Although he stood acting with bravery, Ningan could tell that cowardice was a more regular form of approach, as his feet retreated as she advanced towards him.
"If you don't stop, this rod will electrocute you!" he warned her, but still she approached with her sword of darkness.
"I have no intention of stopping. But if you won't move, I will have to force you to."
Sure enough, Hallastro sidled behind his desk for refuge. Ningan shuffled towards the nearby bookshelf and inserted his hand behind its back. Eleanor raised her sword and slashed across the mountains of paperwork barricading the desk. It became nothing but confetti and fell all around them. Hallastro's eyes began to water for no apparent reason. Although he hadn't written any of these pages, it felt as though his life's work had been extinguished before him.
"What's up, angel?" she smirked. "I hope I haven't ruined your dreams?"
She plunged the blade into the varnished teak and it shattered into splinters. Hallastro hopped backwards to avoid the wreckage. Her laughter echoed continuously until a heavy object struck her in the back. Eleanor turned in disgust to see Ningan holding another book.
"Why don't you stop bullying him and come and take me on? Are you too scared? Is it because I'm armed?"
"I was going to save you for later, but if you truly insist..."
The blade charged towards him like a hunting raven. Just as she was in reach, Ningan heaved the entire bookshelf over her. A library of fictional fantasies and factual encyclopaedias toppled onto her. He waited for her final scream before the weight of the bookshelf finished her off. But instead, it hovered in suspense. Her arm was outstretched as though she was pushing it back.
"You haven't beaten me that easily, dear." she grinned.
Ningan attacked the bookshelf and forced it upon her, but her force was stronger and it kept pushing back.
"You'll never conquer me for as long as you sleep!" she screeched.
"...Maybe I won't..." he groaned. "But someone will."
"There are only two people in here, and one of them looks finished." she laughed at the cowering guard behind the splintered desk. "I will reign as the Nightmare for eternity. You are all my minions."
"...You really think that these sleepers will serve you? If that's what you want, tormenting them in their dreams is not the right way to go about it..."
"...And what other way do you say that I manipulate people to do as I wish? Persuade them with confectionery?"
"...I don't know...something which will make them work, like money..."
"As if that would work, foolish mortal! What currency do we use in this imaginary land?!"
"...I don't know..." he smirked. "I have a tendency to forget..."
The book struck her straight on the shoulder. Her concentration lapsed, causing her power to fade. The bookshelf fell with ease. Eleanor erupted with one final howl before she was vanquished by the furniture. Her sword fell behind her and clattered across the carpet. Beside it was the familiar epic book: 'A tendency to forget'.
"Thank you, Hallastro." Ningan smiled. "Though it's not like I would have tired out or anything."
"Of course not. I have always been known for a good shot." he grinned. "But right now we need to get back to reality."
"We wait for the gong."
Ningan strolled over and took the book and the sword. Hallastro tried to stop him but it seemed useless. He examined them carefully, twisting them in his hands.
"I wonder if we could take these rare artefacts back to the real world?"
"It's both impossible and unwise." Hallastro explained. "If people found out we take objects from our dreams, the world would be heaven. And if the world was heaven, no one would want to leave."
"I suppose." he placed the sword back beside the blood-drenched carpet, but kept the book securely in his arms.
"This is some piece of writing, Hallastro. Do you know it's about me?"
"I do, but I can't say I wrote it." he sighed. "I don't no anything about you. Which is a shame, because if I had, we might have gotten through this story much quicker."
"It's been fun, but we have to remember. It's all just been a dream."
"Dreams are where we want to be," Hallastro stated. "Which is why we all sleep in the end."
The gong rang in their ears and their bodies began to fall into emptiness. Their minds drifted towards the final port which was reality. But as they docked, they heard the echo of a monster, as though it were haunting them. The Nightmare wasn't dead. It had just simply moved on to another place.