This is my first attempt at fanfiction so I would love to hear comments/cristism. Thanks
I just thought I would give a little background and disclaimer. Spoiler alert. It’s not my intention to fit this story into any timeline theory I just wanted to explore an idea I had after finishing TP. What if there was a re-incarnation of Ganondorf who remembered every failed attempt to conquer Hyrule and took the time to learn from past mistakes? What might he do differently?
Disclaimer While the story starts out pretty harmless the outline I currently have in my head gets very dark. So be prepared.
The metallic clinking of the chains around his ankles and wrists were the only sound to break the deafening silence as Link was led over the short distance from the prison to the courtroom. Since his capture the Hylians hadn’t taken any chances, there were a total of twenty-four guards, six per eight hour shift, which kept a constant watch. Twelve of those guards now led Link to the courtroom. Link could see the tension in the guards’ motions, their anxiousness obvious as their eyes followed any flicker of movement.
The door to the courtroom was opened by a pair of soldiers and the crowd in the courtroom fell silent as the guards poured through the door with Link sandwiched in the middle. As Link was led to the defendant’s stand in the middle of the courtroom he caught glimpses of the faces in the crowd. Hatred burned in the eyes he saw; they had heard the case against him and were here to see that justice was done.
Stepping onto the stand with Link one of the guards produced a chain and used it to secure Link’s hands to the podium in front of him. The guards then moved away and took their places around the courtroom giving the crowd their first look at him.
Were the two of the loudest cries that erupted from the crowd. Link knew that if they got out of control the guards would not even try to protect him.
The noise from the crowd died down to a dull roar as another door opened and the Judge entered the courtroom. With a couple sharp cracks from his gavel the room fell completely silent.
“This court is now in session,” the Judge began, “I have carefully reviewed all the evidence and eyewitness testimony in the matter of the People of Hyrule versus Link and am ready to give my verdict. Does the defendant have anything to say before the verdict is given?”
“No your Honor,” Link replied.
“Very well then. On the charge of pilfering sacred artifacts from the Zoras, Gorons, and the Royal Family I find you guilty. On the charge of conspiracy against the Royal family that led to their death I find you guilty. Finally, on the charge of brutally slaughtering defenseless women and children I find you guilty. You are hereby sentenced to death by hanging, which shall be carried out at dawn tomorrow. This court is adjourned.”
As the gavel came down cheers erupted from the crowd, in their minds Justice had been served and the Right Hand of Ganon would be executed at dawn.
Here's the first chapter. Enjoy and please leave comments/criticism.
Part 1: Rise of Darkness
Chapter 1: Nightmares 
“Link. . . . . . . . .Hey Link you awake yet?”
Link’s eyes blinked open. He remained motionless his gaze wandering from the ceiling to the dresser in front of him to the bed next to him, but his mind was blank. His surroundings foreign to him.
Something clicked and the room suddenly made sense. He was lying on his back on the floor of his bedroom. It had happened again.
For months now he had felt an uneasiness that he just couldn’t shake. He talked to his father and brother but they didn’t have an answer for it. But something changed a couple of weeks ago. At first it was just nights of tossing and turning. Then came the images. Horrific visions of monsters ransacking towns he had never seen before. Finally there was yesterday. All day long he felt the uneasiness slowly weigh him down despite his efforts to shake it off. After all if the farm wasn’t taken care of his family and a good part of the village would starve. But as the sun drew closer and closer to the horizon Link felt the growing weight pressing down on his entire body. It had gotten so bad that just walking from one side of the room to the other was exhausting. So he had decided to go to bed before sunset. However, his bed offered no relief and every time he closed his eyes the dark images flooded his mind. However, just before dawn Link did get a break when a new image entered his mind. This bright new image dispelled the monsters and brought peace to his mind, but he couldn’t remember what the image was.
The voice was much closer this time and was accompanied by a fist pounding on the door.
“I’m awake Aria,” Link called out, but the raspy sound in his voice surprised him and he noticed his throat felt sore. Moving to a sitting position Link became aware of a slight burning sensation on his left hand.
“Finally,” the relief and concern in her voice was unmistakable, “We thought you were going to sleep all day.”
“What time is it?”
NOON!? Link scrambled to his feet and began frantically searching for his work clothes. He was supposed to start his chores before sunrise today so when his father came back from town he would be free to help unload the supplies. He finally settled on his tan pants and green tunic. He had never been fond of this outfit and it didn’t help that his brother would tease him about looking like a fairy. The only reason he kept it was because as a baby he was found wrapped in these clothes. Why had he been abandoned in the woods and with such a strange idea for a blanket? But no time to think about that now.
“Slow down,” Aria warned as Link threw open his bedroom door nearly crashing into her, “Don’t worry your brother was able to pick up the slack.”
Aria followed Link across the open room that served as the main room of the house. Stopping at the wood stove he quickly spooned out some of the leftover stew into a bowl he found on the counter.
“When your dad came into the butcher’s shop this morning he was really worried about you,” she continued, “and after hearing him talk about what he heard last night so am I. Are you ok?” Aria put her hand on Link’s shoulder.
Her gentle touch surprised Link. Growing up she spent very little time with the girls of the village. Much to the dismay of her father Aria instead preferred to hang out with the boys. But the boys didn’t accept a girl being part of their group at first. But when Aria sent the town bully Herdman crying home to his mother with a bloody nose she was in. Link and Aria, however, had always been buddies; even before she was accepted by the rest of the boys. As a kid he saw her as a great playmate, she became a great friend when they got a little older, and now. . .
“I’m fine,” Link replied keeping his back to her he continued eating.
“Really?” Aria used her hand on Link’s shoulder to turn him around so she could look directly into his eyes.,“look at me and say it again.”
Link stared back at her eyes. Aria stood as tall as Link her face was smooth and elongated with one feature flowing gently into the next, but her most predominate feature were her green eyes. Her face was framed by her black wavy hair that fell from her head and disappeared behind her shoulders. Probably not by choice, she wore a tan and brown dress that accentuated her slender frame well. Just to look at her you’d never know you were dealing with a tough tomboy.
Link hated it when Aria did this. No one not even her own father could get anything past her. She could even tell you when a complete stranger was lying to her.
Link stared back at her piercing green eyes, “I’m fine.”
“Look, right now I don’t care whether or not you believe me, I’m very late. Father had to go to town early this morning and that means that Ruairi was left alone with the chores and you know how he is with tools.”
It was a flimsy excuse. His brother could handle the farm tools just as well as Link, although he didn’t always know his own strength. Aria studied him for a minute. Link could tell she still didn’t believe him, but she moved aside.
“Thank you,” Link placed his bowl in the sink and passed her.
“Don’t think we’re done talking about this,” Aria warned as Link ran out the front door. Link already knew he would have to give her a better answer, but for now he was just glad the interrogation was over.
Even though the sun was high in the sky the temperature was still comfortable. Of course the large trees surrounding the house helped. When the farm was built just enough of the ancient trees were cleared from the surrounding forest to make room for the house, barn, and stable and not a single scrap of lumber was wasted in their construction.
The farm house was small with three smaller rooms attached to the larger main room in the center. About a stone’s throw away stood the barn where they kept the feed for the cattle and the farming tools. A small stable attached to the back of the barn housed a few horses. Beyond the barn was one of two fields that had been carved out of the forest. The cattle spent their day in that field while the other field behind the house was used for crops. There was a path that connected the barn to the house and then another wider path that connected the barn to the road leading into town.
Following the sounds of splitting lumber Link eventually found Ruairi around the backside of the house chopping firewood. His brother stood at least a foot taller than Link with short brown hair on top of a face with very angular features surrounding his dark brown eyes. A large strong neck connected Ruairi’s head to his huge muscular frame. Link secretly envied the fact that his brothers arms were bigger than Link’s legs.
But Ruairi wasn’t actually related to Link. Ruairi’s father Eoghan had found Link abandoned in the woods when he was a baby. After trying to find Link’s parents Eoghan decided to adopt him. Ruairi was about five years old at the time, and as Link grew the two of them became as close as if they were brothers.
“Good morning sleeping beauty,” Ruairi teased as Link came around the corner of the house, “Did you get enough sleep little brother?”
“Yes I did,” Link said sarcastically, “What’s left?”
“Nothing, I was just finishing the firewood while you and Aria had that little lover’s quarrel. By the way I’m very good with tools.”
Link was surprised for a moment. He had forgotten the walls of the house were so thin. But his surprise didn’t slow him down from shooting back.
“If you’re so good with tools then how did the barn end up with a hole in the wall?”
“That was a faulty hammer you gave me.”
“Oh and I suppose the axe handle you splintered last week wasn’t your fault either?”
“Is it my fault the tools I work with can’t keep up with me? Besides at least I don’t need to take beauty naps til noon.”
“I didn’t mean to sleep that late.”
“Sure you didn’t,” Ruairi replied sarcasm dripping from every word; “I have to say that your little beauty nap was perfectly timed.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it is awfully convenient that it just happened to end right as I was finishing up all the morning chores.”
“What are you trying to say? That I somehow planned this?”
“Well, what else would you expect from a green fairy.”
That was it Link lunged at Ruairi, only realizing his mistake when his brother’s huge arms locked around him. Ruairi had always been bigger and stronger than Link. But over time Link had figured out ways around their physical differences. He even could even turn Ruairi’s strength against him. But a direct frontal assault was always doomed. Link struggled in vain to free himself but his brother’s arms were like iron straps around him.
“Boys, boys, boys,” Aria scolded. She stood at the corner of the house her hands on her hips and a mock scolding expression on her face, “When will you two learn to get along?”
Ruairi immediately released his hold and without his brother’s support Link fell to the ground, which Link was sure Ruairi intended. Standing up Link brushed the wood chips from his tunic.
“That’s better,” Aria said still using that smug scolding tone, “Now shake hands and be friends again.”
Link reluctantly turned to face his brother and then an idea crossed his mind. The look on Ruairi’s face told him his brother had the same idea. They both turned to face Aria.
“Oh, no you don’t,” her smug look vanished as her hands dropped from her waist and she began to backing away, “Don’t you two even think. . .”
But it was too late, Link and Ruairi lunged at Aria who moved just fast enough to get out of reach. That was Aria’s strength she didn’t stand a chance in a competition of brute force but she was fast, easily out maneuver her opponents. Link was the only boy in town that could even come close to matching her lightning quick speed.
Capitalizing on her advantage Aria darted around the house with Link and Ruairi close behind. As they came around the front of the house Link saw a horse drawn wagon pulling up alongside the barn. Aria must’ve seen it too because she immediately changed course and finally stopped right next to where Eoghan was getting down from the wagon.
Ruairi definitely got his size and strength from his father. Eoghan actually stood about an inch taller than Ruairi, even though Ruairi denied it. Eoghan had short dirty blonde hair that sat on top of a face with sharply angled features which caused him to always look as though he was angry. Even his brown eyes didn’t help when Link was trying to figure out what he was thinking. His loose shirt and pants mildly concealed the huge muscles underneath and even though Eoghan was well into his forties he could still take Link and Ruairi on at the same time and win. But despite his dominating presence Link had never known a more kind or gentle man.
Eoghan eyed the situation as Link and Ruairi came to a stop just a few steps away.
“Oh gods where did I go wrong, to have raised two boys who have no idea how to properly treat a lady?” his tone was serious, but Link thought he detected a hint of sarcasm.
“It’s not your fault,” Aria’s smug look had returned now that she stood next to Eoghan, “These two are just too wild.”
“That may be true my dear,” Eoghan turned his head to look at Aria, “But a lady doesn’t start a fight.”
“But she does finish them,” Aria replied without missing a beat.
A huge smile broke across Eoghan face as a deep laughter rolled out of his enormous frame.
“In your case that is very true,” still smiling he turned his attention back to Link and Ruairi, “Are you two going to stand there like statues or are you going to help your old man unload these supplies?”
Link and Ruairi immediately headed for the wagon. But as Link walked past Aria he bumped her just hard enough to make her stumble.
“Sorry,” Link said picking up a bag of grain. Aria’s green eyes narrowed, but she didn’t say anything.
The sun was hanging just above the tree tops when the four of them took the last bags off the wagon.
“Geez, dad did you by the whole town?” Ruairi commented.
“I just wanted to be sure we were prepared.”
“Prepared for what?!”
“Well, Rayl from the store said that there’s been some growing trouble recently and it’s starting to affect his shipments,” Eoghan replied, “So I just wanted to be sure that we could survive, if Rayl ran out of what we needed for a while.”
Ruairi tossed his bags in place, “Oh, what kind of trouble?”
“Apparently there’s been an increase in bandits and what’s worse is they seem much more organized than before so the King’s soldiers are having a hard time tracking them.”
“What about the Gorons and the Zoras,” Aria chimed in, “aren’t they helping?”
“Apparently they are having troubles of their own and can’t spare anyone to help,” Eoghan replied, “But that’s enough talk about such dark subjects. Let’s finish putting these supplies away we still have to go back to town to pick up the stuff that wouldn’t fit.”
“What?!” Ruairi and Link said almost in unison.
“Relax,” Eoghan said, “It’s just a few spare tools and couple more bags. Besides it’ll be dark soon and we need to make sure that Aria gets back to town safely,” he turned to Aria, “I’m sure your father will be wondering where you are.”
Aria looked at the ground sheepishly.
They put the last couple bags away quickly and all climbed into the wagon. Eoghan and Ruairi took the seat in the front while Aria and Link sat in the back of the wagon facing the rear. The sun had sunk half-way below the tree line; by the time they reached town it would be long gone. But as they pulled out onto road Link saw something move out of the corner of his eye. He couldn’t be sure but it looked like a shadow moving across the sunlit side of the barn.
very good. can't wait for the next chapter. it seems a bit more futuristic then the usual Zelda with the judges and whatnot but I liked it.
Glad you liked it so far.
A futuristic Zelda, that's an interesting idea. As I've been writing I hadn't really thought about like that. I had always assumed that Hyrule had a judicial system but it just never played part in any of the stories. If you don't mind I think I might explore that idea a little further. Out of curiousity, was there anything else that seemed more futuristic than usual?
I'm currently proofreading the next chapter, so hopefully it'll be up soon. Thanks for posting!
Link’s breathing was heavy, but he wasn’t tired. On his right arm he saw a shield and if it weren’t for the blood splatters it could’ve easily passed for brand new. In his left hand was a sword so covered in blood that he couldn’t see any distinguishing marks. Looking around he first noticed the buildings to his left. The houses appeared to have been carved out of the cliff face and their design reminded Link of the coral the trappers sometimes brought to town. His gaze continued to the top of the cliff where a large waterfall poured over the edge and came crashing down into the lake on his right.
Bodies littered the scene. Many floated lifelessly in the lake their blood staining the water red. Others covered the path that stretched out in front of him, disappearing behind the waterfall. A stream of blood weaved its way between the bodies toward Link pooling around his feet before continuing on behind him. Then it hit him, the blood lust. It built up inside him and crashed down over him like a wave on the sand. He looked around searching for an opponent, someone anyone to kill. In the distance he heard shouting and the clinking of armor. Link watched two dark figures appeared in front of him they seemed to just rise up out of the ground.
“Good,” one of the figures said, “At least they’ll put up a fight.”
Link’s eyes snapped open. His heart felt like it was trying to escape his chest with its frantic beating, while waves of trembles coursed through his body.
“It was just a dream, it was just a dream,” Link muttered under his heavy breathing. But the images were so vivid that every time he closed his eyes he was back on that blood soaked path. He pulled himself up to a sitting position and wrapping his arms around his knees he held them tight to his chest. What is wrong with me?
Link suddenly became aware of the people around him. In the moonlight he could see Aria, Ruairi, and Eoghan standing near and even though their faces were shadowed their concern was unmistakable. He took a quick glance around. He was still in the wagon and the thick row of trees on either side told Link they were a little ways outside of town.
Looking back at the people around him, Link wanted desperately to say something that would relieve their concern and break the silence that lingered in the air like a thick fog. But when he opened his mouth no words came out. He tried again but still nothing. Defeated, he decided instead to focus on controlling his trembling body.
The seconds ticked by each one feeling like an hour as Link rocked back and forth still trying to control the fading trembling in his body while his father, brother, and Aria stood like statues watching him.
Aria was the first to finally break the silence, “Link, what’s going on?”
“I don’t know,” Link finally replied, his voice thin and raspy.
“You dozed off as the sun set and from the second you feel asleep you were restless. But the longer you slept the worse it got and right before you woke up you were crying and screaming. It was terrifying to watch.” The horror in her voice didn’t help Link’s uneasiness.
“This was worse than last night,” Eoghan added. Ruairi nodded in agreement.
All eyes turned back to Link. But he didn’t have any answers for them. This latest dream felt like a caged animal in his mind and Link feared even the slightest slip in his efforts to suppress it would set the horrific images free. So again the seconds ticked on.
Then Link saw a change in Aria. She turned to Eoghan.
“Before you came in this morning I overheard my father talking to a customer about a traveling shaman that was passing through. According to the customer the shaman was planning on staying for a couple days. Maybe he can help.”
For the first time in months Link felt a flicker of hope rise in him.
“Did you hear where the shaman was staying?” Link heard the same hope in his father’s voice.
“No, but my father might know.”
“We’ll drop you off at your father’s butcher shop on our way into town, and then we’ll get the last of the supplies loaded and wait for you at the store,” Eoghan said.
In the moonlight Link saw a smile spread across her face, “Sounds good.”
Everyone climbed back into the wagon and they continued towards town. They were all cautiously hopeful and Aria helped Link stay awake.
Link shook his head as the sign with the town’s name on it came into view. “Last Stop” is what the sign read. It certainly was not the most creative name for a town, but not completely random either. The Faron Woods formed the southern border of Hyrule and Last Stop sat about a mile inside the woods and for the hunters and trappers this town was literally their last stop before continuing on into the heart of Faron. So Link had conceded that the town leaders couldn’t have been completely inebriated when they named the town.
But even though there was a steady flow of people that came through Last Stop throughout the year the town itself remained very small with all the buildings sitting inside a large circular clearing. Along the road that came in from the north was Tamira’s hotel and tavern, on the east side of town was Rayl’s Supply Store and to the west sat Brynmor’s Butcher shop. There were a few houses that filled in the spaces between the businesses and made the town into a large circle, but total there were no more than thirty people that stayed in Last Stop year round. Link guessed it probably had something to do with superstitions and legends that permeated the Faron Woods. Even the hunters and trappers didn’t venture more than a day’s journey from town. But Link had never really bought into all the ‘ghost’ stories that had emerged from the woods. He had always felt at home here.
Since the farm was on the west side of town the Butcher’s shop was the first building they passed. Aria hopped out of the wagon without waiting for it to stop and quickly disappeared into the shop. Eoghan continued on across the open area in the middle of town and brought the wagon to a stop in front of the supply store.
The town was quiet except for a few loud conversations coming from the tavern. Link noticed all but a couple of the windows were dark. The brightest source of light came from the moon.
“Rayl was sure he would be asleep by the time we made it back so he said he would leave the rest of supplies over here,” Eoghan’s voice was barely above a whisper as he disappeared around the north side of the store. Ruairi and Link followed, but as Ruairi rounded the corner he stopped suddenly causing Link to nearly run into him.
“A little warning next time,” Link said maneuvering around the giant in front of him, but Link stopped too when he followed his brother’s gaze.
Before them was another mountain of bags that was taller than Ruairi and nearly filled the five foot gap between the store and the nearest house. There was also two of every tool they used on the farm, which made Link smile a bit.
“You did buy the whole town,” Ruairi accused.
“Ssssh,” their father replied, “Like I said I just wanted to make sure we would be ok.”
Ruairi lowered his voice, “And where did you get the money for all this?”
“Mostly it’s on loan. The crops are turning out very well this year so we should be able to pay it off when the harvest comes in. Now let’s get this loaded so we can go home.”
Their father’s answer was a little abrupt but they did have to get it all loaded so Link and Ruairi took a deep breath as they walked toward the mountain. As Link worked he wondered if Eoghan was telling the whole truth about why he had bought so many supplies.
They were about half-way through the mountain when Aria reappeared.
“Sorry I took so long. I had some serious explaining to do before I could finally ask my father about the shaman. Anyway, my dad says he heard that the shaman is staying in a tent along the road just north of the tavern. ”
“That’s great as soon as we finish loading the wagon I’ll head straight there,” Link replied. The hope that started when Aria first mentioned the shaman was now growing.
“Actually, Ruairi and I can finish up here if you and Aria wanted to find out if the shaman will help you,” Eoghan said.
Link looked at his father and then Ruairi, “Are you sure? I don’t mind staying to finish up first.”
“Go. Hopefully that shaman will cure you and I’ll get a quiet night’s sleep.” Even though his brother’s tone was sarcastic, Link could tell Ruairi was concerned.
After tossing the bag of grain in his hands onto the wagon Link followed Aria across town. The noise from the tavern had died down to just a few hushed conversations as they walked past.
“Yea there’s a lot of people getting really angry with the way the soldiers are handling these highway robbers,” one man said.
“It’s not their fault,” another man replied, “the robbers don’t leave nothing behind so the soldiers don’t have any way to track’em.”
“Hey did you hear what’s happening in the Zora. . . ”
The voices faded away as Link and Aria continued walking. When they came around behind the tavern a cold chill ran up Link’s spine and he felt a mild burning sensation in his left hand.
“What’s the matter?”
Link saw Aria staring at his hands. He followed her gaze and realized he was rubbing the back of his left hand and immediately stopped.
“Nothing,” Link replied.
Pushing aside his growing unease Link forced himself to smile, although the burning sensation didn’t go away.
After a few minutes of searching they finally spotted a dome shaped tent sitting right along the tree line a short distance back from the road. The tent was made out of a black material and they probably would’ve never found it in the fading moonlight if Link hadn’t seen a strange pair of red dots briefly appear in front of it.
They started walking towards the tent when a flap on the tent moved. Link and Aria froze. A dark figure slowly emerged from the tent. The figure’s movements were slow and deliberate as if each move took a great deal of effort. At first Link thought that the person was hunched over in order to get through the tent opening, but when the figure cleared the tent Link realized he was wrong. The figure wore a dark hooded cloak that covered his entire body and hid its face.
“I’m Minhaga the shaman,” the figure said as he exited the tent. His voice was deep and hoarse but there was something about him that made Link’s skin crawl. The shaman continued, “I’ve been expecting you Link. Come sit down.”
The shaman motioned to three stools outside the tent. Link and Aria each claimed one and the shaman slowly sat down on the one that was left.
“How did you know Link was coming?” Aria asked.
“You must be Aria,” the shaman replied, “It doesn’t take supernatural insight to hear the rumors around this small town.”
“How did you know her name?”
“Do you really want to know that Link or would you like to see if I can help you?” the shaman replied.
Link didn’t answer.
“Good, tell me what’s been bothering you.”
Link began explaining the uneasiness he had been feeling for months and how at first he had been able to push it to the side but in the last few weeks it had intensified and was affecting his sleep. He also described the visions of monsters ransacking towns, but he kept his latest dream to himself. When he finished Link stole a quick glance at Aria. For a moment he could see the fear and concern in her face before she managed to hide it.
Silence fell over the group and Link realized just how quiet and still the forest was tonight.
Minhaga finally spoke, “You are a very unique lad Link. What you’ve been experiencing is not a sickness or your mind cracking. Instead you are feeling what few in this world can, the changing of an era.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Throughout most of the history of Hyrule times have been mostly stable. There was always some trouble that needed to be dealt with but nothing serious enough to upset the status quo. However, every few centuries a change comes along that challenges the very structure of this land. Most live their lives ignorant of the warning signs of this change, but there are a few who can sense it. You, Link are one of those few. I know because I feel it too.”
“What can I do about it?”
“You are bold,” the shaman sounded surprised, “but what is coming is too big for one boy to stand against. But I might have something that can help you.”
He reached into his cloaked and produced a small piece of string with a pendant attached to the middle of it. He offered it to Link.
“Keep this around your neck and it will bring peace to your mind and calm your dreams.”
“Thank you,” Link said as he took the necklace and studied it in his hand. It felt like a thin flat round piece of wood that fit inside his palm and it had some sort of carving in the middle, but with the moonlight gone it was too dark to make out what the carving was. It certainly didn’t seem like much, but he was willing to try anything at this point.
Link heard a wagon approaching from town. He looked at Aria.
“We’d better go, thank you for your time Minhaga and for this necklace.”
“You will come back tomorrow and let me know if it helped, won’t you?” the shaman asked as Link and Aria stood.
“I’ll do my best,” Link promised. He and Aria turned and began walking towards town.
Link turned to Aria modeling the necklace. “What do you think?”
Aria leaned in and took hold of the pendant around his neck. She studied it for a moment then leaned away letting it fall back against his chest.
She shrugged, “Looks good on you, do you think it’ll work?”
“I don’t know, although I do already feel the uneasiness lifting.”
Aria smiled, “That’s a good sign.”
When Link and Aria came around the tavern they were met by Ruairi and Eoghan. The wagon wasn’t as full as Link expected it would be.
“So did the old shaman cure you?” Ruairi asked.
“He gave me this.” Link held up the necklace.
“Oh great, now I’m living with a fairy with jewelry.”
“Knock it off you two,” Eoghan interrupted, but his attention suddenly turned to Aria who was leaning heavily on the wagon for support, “Are you ok?”
“I’m fine, I’m just really tired.”
“Let’s get you home.”
Link walked with Aria while Eoghan and Ruairi rode the wagon over to the butcher’s shop. By the time Aria got to the front door Link was supporting most of her weight.
Link opened the door, “Are you sure you’re ok?”
“I’ll be fine. You guys just worked me too hard today.” Link saw the start of a playful smile on her lips.
“Goodnight, and thanks for the ride back to town,” she said. Then she turned and disappeared into the butcher’s shop and the door closed behind her.
Link squeezed onto the wagon next to his brother and the three of them rode back to the farm. Even though Link was worried about Aria the uneasiness he had felt for the past few months was nearly gone and as he lay on his bed he drifted into a calm and dreamless sleep.
WOW....that was better than I was expecting. Far better. You, good sir, understand that which many do not: how to write well and with purpose. I found myself falling short of being able to provide full and meaningful critique, as I believe this has been well done up to this point. Perhaps just a couple of structural suggestions then?
“What about the Gorons and the Zoras, aren’t they helping,” Aria asked.
It is okay, and indeed proper, to put a question mark after 'helping', instead of a comma, without having to put a full stop. Like so:
“What about the Gorons and the Zoras, aren’t they helping?” Aria asked.
Though this all depends on your style and how you want to do it. That's the beauty of writing: as long as your consistent and considerate of the reader, you can pretty much do anything you want.
“So did the old shaman cure you,” Ruairi asked.
It seems that after almost every exchange of dialog, you explain the verbal action: said, remarked, replied, uttered, etc, etc. If it's in quotation marks, then it is self explanatory. And if you take my previous note into account, as in adding a question mark, then you wouldn't need to say 'asked' either and could replace it with a physical action.
Here's a poor example, including a full stop:
“So did the old shaman cure you?” Ruairi kicked a near rock into the trees.
Take a lesson from my own experience, in that if you do something too much, then it becomes expected. One main goal of the writer is to entertain and please the mind of the reader, and a big part of that comes from unpredictability. Try to constantly evolve and revolve your writing form, that way the reader is constantly getting bombarded by new and interesting information, which will hold their attention longer.
Other than those minor thoughts I had, I'd say well done! Keep it up!
Thank you Mendicus. I hope as I continue writing I'll keep getting more suggestions on how to improve.
I went back through and made some changes, but I had some trouble incorporating your suggestions and still keeping it clear to the reader who was speaking. Any thoughts?
I have also fell into that sinkhole, especially when there is more than two persons in the exchange. Now I'm no English major, but I think physical actions are always great cues to precede, intersect, or follow oration if you are looking for some freshness. So, having the character chew their lip, narrow their eyebrows, or glance off to some unknown region always works well; just remember to include a name or character-specific title in the description to avoid that confusion. Also, if the paragraph has dialog, only that one character should be speaking for the duration. If you have another character with dialog, they should have their own paragraph. That lessons the bedlam substantially, and it's what most readers expect.
I don't think you have issues with the latter, so take it as a friendly reminder.
This is also a good tool for developing personalties, as in displaying certain characteristics, nervous habits, or anomalies within a character. It saves time and space as well, for then you don't have to digress off into another paragraph just to give a character some attention.
Does that make sense? Clear as mud? Again, it's all about rotating structure to keep the mind entertained. I also believe it makes the writing more pleasant, as then you're not getting bored either. I think that's a contributer to why many aspiring writers don't make it: they don't keep it interesting for themselves.
Yes, I believe so. Much better, from a reader's standpoint. Just keep the idea of shifting structure in mind, and you'll be fine. You already have the base talent for writing, this is apparent, so now it's just the minor things that we all can do to make ourselves even better.
Thanks for the great comments so far. Here's the next chapter.
Chapter 3: The Runes 
When Link awoke the next morning he felt better than he had in months. But his concern for Aria had grown. He promised himself he would go see her as soon as the morning chores were finished. Link again settled on his green tunic and tan pants. He would have to do laundry soon.
“Good morning,” Link said as he entered the main room of the house heading for the stove. His father was already up, but judging by the half eaten food in front of him Link guessed he hadn’t been awake long.
“You seem better this morning,” Eoghan said between bites.
Link took his stew and joined Eoghan at the table, “I am better.”
“So what the shaman gave you worked?”
“It would seem so.”
“Glad to hear it,” Eoghan smiled.
Link heard the door to his brother’s room creak open.
“Good morning sleeping beauty,” he had every intention of giving his brother a hard time about being the last one up until he saw Ruairi’s face.
“Are you feeling ok?” Eoghan asked.
“I’m fine,” Ruairi replied, “just didn’t sleep good last night.”
“Maybe I should’ve tossed and turned so you could sleep better,” Link tried.
“Maybe,” Ruairi dropped into one of the chairs at the table and his head sunk into his hands.
Eoghan studied his son for a moment, “Take your time getting breakfast, Link and I will get the chores started.”
Ruairi nodded his head.
Link and Eoghan put their dishes away and headed outside. The sun was just barely peaking over the horizon as they walked towards the barn. The wagon would be the first chore. It had been very late by the time they got back to the farm so they decided to leave it till morning. Eoghan and Link were almost done unloading the wagon when Ruairi finally joined them. The breakfast seemed to have done him some good, although he still didn’t look like he felt well.
Between the three of them they were able to finish the chores in record time. When they finished Link turned to his father.
“Do you mind if I head into town? I promised the shaman if I had time I’d stop by again and I also want to check in on Aria.”
“That’s fine,” Eoghan said, “just be sure you’re back before dark.”
“I wasn’t planning on staying all day.”
“Ok. Are you going to take Epona? You haven’t been out to see her for a couple days. She probably thinks you’ve forgotten all about her.”
“Fine,” Link said as he turned towards the cattle’s field. He knew his father’s concern wasn’t really for Epona. In Link’s opinion his father had always taken those silly superstitions too seriously.
Link caught a glimpse of Epona as he reached the fence that surrounded the field. She had come a long way from first time he saw her. He was seven at the time and he and Aria were exploring the woods around the farm when they heard a noise in the underbrush. The noise resembled a horse’s neighing but it was different somehow and the sadness in the cry broke Link’s heart and has haunted him ever since. Link immediately went in search of the animal but Aria was a little more hesitant.
It didn’t take Link long to find the source of the cry. Before him was a frightened colt not much bigger than a large dog who looked more like a living skeleton than a horse. Link could see the fear in the colt’s eyes as he slowly approached and if Epona had had the strength then, he was sure she would’ve run and never been seen again. But she was barely strong enough to hold up her own head let alone run.
Link immediately brought her back to the farm and with help of his father he slowly nursed her back to health. But as she grew two things became crystal clear. First, she favored Link more than anyone else. In fact it took several years before she would let anyone other Link come near her. Second, she would never be big enough or strong enough to help with the farm work. It was this second thing that caused tension between Link and his father for a long time. For according to Eoghan every person and animal on the farm had to be able to pull their own weight or else the farm would fail and since Epona wasn’t able to help with even the simplest tasks they would have to sell her.
At the time Link had thought that his father was being unbearably cruel and when Link found out that Eoghan had been asking around town to see if anyone would be interested in Epona, Link refused to talk to his father for a month. But looking back now he understood his father’s point of view.
However, Link and Epona caught a break shortly after Link began speaking to his father again. At the time the cattle were being stalked by a pack of wolves and they were losing the herd because the wolves had become experts at separating the calves from the adults, but one evening Link forgot to lock Epona’s stall.
That night Link woke up to the angry bellowing of the cattle and another sound he couldn’t place. Ruairi and Eoghan must have heard it too because they were already standing like statues by the fence surrounding the cattle’s field. As Link approached he couldn’t believe his eyes. In the moonlight he could see the herd circled up in the middle of the field with the calves in the center and Epona stood at the edge of the group her eyes fixed on the tree line. Link followed her gaze and saw three large wolves standing between the fence and the trees. The wolves snarled at the herd but the cattle didn’t budge. Two of the wolves broke ranks and tried to circle around and that’s when Epona released what Link could only describe as a horse’s version of a battle cry. The herd suddenly split into three groups, the members the groups stood shoulder to shoulder and each group faced off against a different wolf while Epona stayed behind with the calves. As the wolves were pushed against the fence the wolf that seemed to be the leader let out a long mournful howl and a fourth wolf materialized out of the forest headed for the calves. Epona spotted the new wolf and again let out her battle cry. The herd quickly retreated back to the calves and circled around them while Epona trotting around the edge of the group her eyes looking outward. The wolves stopped their advance and for several moments they studied the cattle. Then one by one they slowly melted away into the forest. Even then the herd still didn’t budge and Epona continued watching the tree line. Eoghan, Link, and Ruairi continued to watch for several minutes before quietly returning to the house.
Link barely slept the rest of the night. He had nearly cried at the sight of Epona facing down the pack but at the same time he was so proud of what she had done. The next morning Eoghan announced that as long as Epona continued to protect the herd she could stay. Link was beside himself for the entire day. His brother actually asked him several times if he had eaten the mushrooms their father had warned them about.
Throughout the years since Epona’s intelligence and unparalleled ability to sense danger made her indispensable to their farm.
“Hey girl,” Link shouted hopping the fence. On hearing Link’s voice Epona immediately turned and started galloping towards him, but when she came within a few yards of Link she abruptly stopped, turned her side to him and started walking away. Link followed walking parallel to her.
“I know, I haven’t visited you in a few days and I’m sorry,” Link began, “will you forgive me?”
Epona let out a snort and kept walking.
Link continued, “I understand, you were left out here with only the smelly cattle for company, all the while thinking that your best friend had forgotten all about you.”
Epona neighed and shook her head as if she was agreeing with what Link was saying.
“But I brought you something. If I give it to you would you forgive me?”
Epona came to a stop at the fence that surrounded the field. She stared straight ahead into the forest.
“I brought your favorite treat; a carrot.”
At the word carrot Epona turned her head to look at Link. She watched closely while Link slowly pulled a large carrot out of his pocket and offered it to her. Hesitating for a moment Epona’s big brown eyes studied Link and the carrot carefully. Finally she came over and took the carrot. She nudged Link with her nose as she ate. All was forgiven.
Link saddled Epona and they headed into town.
The town seemed unusually still as Link and Epona entered the clearing. Last Stop was never a very busy town and through the buildings Link could see a few people wandering around, but something just didn’t feel right.
Link climbed down from Epona and led her around to the front of the butcher’s shop. He tied her reigns to the post out front and knocked on the front door.
“Sorry we’re closed today,” a male voice responded.
The sound of heavy footsteps on the wood floor of the shop approached. The footsteps came to a stop as the door swung part way open revealing Aria’s father Brynmor standing in the doorway. He stood about as tall as Link but was much bigger around, a fact which he didn’t hesitate to joke about. His green eyes were surrounded by a plump round face with short black hair on top.
“I’m sorry son, but Aria’s not feeling well today,” Brynmor said his voice sounded strained.
“Is there anything I can do?”
“Right now Aria just needs to rest.”
Link noticed the newly formed bags under his eyes. “Are you sure you don’t need any help, you look pretty tired?”
“It’s been a long morning,” his exhaustion clearly seeping into his voice, “I’d better get back to Aria. I’ll let her know you stopped by.”
Link turned and started walking away as Aria’s father closed the door. Brynmor had never been the kind of person to hide his emotions, but Link had never seen him look so worried.
Link wandered over to Epona and began stroking her mane absent mindedly. Suddenly an idea burst into his head. Link turned and sprinted north across town. Making his way around the tavern Link found Minhaga sitting outside his tent. The shaman still wore the hooded cloak and even in the day light Link couldn’t see his face.
“Good afternoon Link,” Minhaga said as Link came to a stop a few steps away, “I was beginning to wonder if you would make into town today. Come sit.”
Minhaga motioned to the stool next to him.
“No thanks. I’ve come to ask a favor. My friend Aria is sick and judging by the conversation I had with her father it’s pretty bad. Can you please help her?”
Minhaga’s abrupt answer made Link feel as though he had just punched him in the gut.
“But you’re a shaman aren’t you supposed to help people?”
“You’ve miss understood,” Minhaga replied, “when I said no I wasn’t refusing to help your friend. I’ve already been to see Aria and know that I cannot help her.”
Link’s heart sank into his boots, “Oh.”
“What is plaguing Aria is not a natural illness but some sort of curse and even the power of this rune failed to drive it from her.”
As he spoke the shaman reached into his cloak and produced an odd scrap of metal. The largest piece curved as though it formed part of a circle and attached to the inside of the curved piece were two straight pieces that started at the same point and angled away from each other as they moved away from the curved piece. Link sat down next to Minhaga examining the rune.
“What will this curse do to her?”
“It’s too early to tell. So far she is exhausted with a growing fever.”
Link returned the rune. “There must be something that can be done.”
Minhaga didn’t reply at first and Link again noticed how still the woods were. Finally, the shaman spoke, “Maybe there is something. . .”
“Tell me,” Link demanded. The forcefulness of his voice surprised him.
“Well,” Minhaga began, “the rune I have is actually one of four and while this one didn’t have the power on its own to cure your friend, perhaps the combined power of all four could.”
“Where are the other runes?” his impatience clearly bleeding into his voice.
“That’s the hard part,” Minhaga continued, “many centuries ago these runes once belonged to a great shaman who used their power to heal all that came to see him. But the rulers of the Zoras, Gorons, and Hylians became jealous of the shaman’s growing popularity with the people. So they stole the runes from the shaman and hid them. Striped of his power the people began to believe that the shaman was a fraud and with the people now turned against the shaman the King of Hyrule had him executed.”
“That’s terrible,” Link replied, “but what happened to the runes?”
“For centuries they remained hidden, but after decades of research I discovered their locations. But despite the fact that most have forgotten about their existence the other three runes are hidden in places that are too well guarded for me to get into.”
“Maybe I could get them,” Link offered.
A hoarse laugh escaped from under the shaman’s cloak. “What would a farm boy know about sneaking into well guarded places?”
“Why would I have to sneak in, couldn’t I just ask to borrow them?”
Minhaga’s voice suddenly became very serious, “That would not be wise.”
“First there are only a few who know of the runes and you would waste precious time trying to find them. Second, anyone who knows of the runes will also know the royal family’s version of the story that portrays the shaman as an evil man and they will almost certainly throw anyone asking about the runes into prison. And how could you help your friend from prison?”
Link thought for a moment, “So how do we get the runes?”
“You are a bold boy,” Minhaga replied, “but the road ahead is dangerous. As you are now you’d be lucky to last through the night. If you truly wish to help, get yourself more appropriately equipped and return by sunset.”
“I’ll be back soon,” Link jumped out of his seat and began sprinting towards town.
The silence in the town sent a tingle down Link’s spine as he sprinted back to Epona. It’s barely past noon. Where is everyone?
Even Epona seemed uneasy when Link untied her reigns and led her towards the path leading to the farm.
While he rode through the forest Link began thinking how he would explain this to his father and brother. Certainly they would understand him leaving to help Aria, but then there was the farm to consider. It would be much harder on them to run the farm without him. But how long could this possibly take? Hyrule wasn’t that big according to the hunters and trappers. He could travel anywhere he needed to within a couple of days so getting all the runes and bringing them back couldn’t take more than a week, right?
Link brought Epona to a stop in front of the barn. He quickly dismounted and made his way towards the house. He was sure his father would try to talk him out of leaving but Link knew he had to do this. The front door creaked open as he entered the house.
“Is that you Link?” Eoghan’s voice came from Ruairi’s room.
“Yes,” Link mentally prepared himself for the battle that was about to begin.
Carefully closing the door behind him Eoghan entered the main room. Making his way over to the table he sat down, “How’s Aria?”
“Not good. I’ve never seen Brynmor look so worried.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” Eoghan eyes met Link’s. Eoghan must’ve seen something in Link’s face because his gaze suddenly intensified and for a long moment neither one of them said anything.
“Where’s Ruairi?” Link asked trying to shift the focus off himself.
Eoghan motioned towards Ruairi’s room, but his gaze never left Link. “He’s sleeping.”
“And he accused me of being lazy yesterday.”
Silence again filled the room. Eoghan’s unwavering stare made Link start to fidget.
Link took in a long deep breath, “Yes.” He braced himself for his father’s response.
“I’ve known this day would come for a long time. . .” There was hint of sadness in his father’s voice that pulled on Link’s heart and threatened to derail his resolve.
“I love you father, but if there’s any hope of helping Aria it’s not here in these woods. The shaman told me about these ancient runes. . .”
Link’s voice trailed off as Eoghan held up a hand signaling him to stop.
“I’m not going to try to stop you.”
“What?!” All the preparing and planning Link had done on the way back from town evaporated from his mind, leaving him scrambling for what to say next.
“But. . .why?” Link finally managed to ask.
“Wait here,” Eoghan rose from the table and disappeared into his room. Link noticed that his father’s movements were slower than normal. He looked tired.
When Eoghan returned he was carrying a large cloth bag.
“As you know I found you abandoned in the woods all those years ago wrapped in the clothes you are wearing now,” Eoghan paused. Taking in a deep breath he continued, “but there was more that I’ve kept hidden from you.”
Link heard the clinking of metal objects striking each other as Eoghan set the bundle on the table and began opening it.
“When I found you I also found these items hidden nearby. It was never my intention to deceive you, but these are tools not toys and I hoped you would never have any use for them.”
As he spoke Eoghan began removing the contents of the cloth bag. The first item Link didn’t recognize, it was shaped like a shirt but seemed to be made entirely of metal. Next was a shield, large enough to cover Link’s entire mid-section and at first Link thought it had a plain silver finish until the light caught the intricate etchings of trees and plants he didn’t recognize. The final item was a sword.
“This first item is a chainmail shirt. You wear it under your tunic and it will protect you from minor injuries. I’m sure you recognize these other two. So put on the chainmail and meet me in the barn.”
Eoghan tossed the metal shirt over to Link then picked the sword and shield and went outside. Link quickly followed his father’s instructions.
The next several hours were spent listening to Eoghan’s painfully detailed explanations for how to care for the weapons. When Eoghan had finished explaining he made Link repeat back everything he had said while demonstrating how to do it. Finally when Link’s hands were sore from all the blade sharpening and shield polishing Eoghan allowed him to take a break.
“. . .a dull sword is no better than a wooden club.” Eoghan leaned against a nearby post as he finished speaking.
“How do you know about all of this?” Link asked.
“I wasn’t always a farmer. . .” for a moment his father seemed lost in a memory.
“Stand up and show me how you hold your sword and shield.”
Link tried to protest. But before he could he was forced to jump backwards to avoid being hit by a wooden club that seemed to come out of nowhere.
“Pick up your weapons,” Eoghan again commanded.
Link obeyed this time as his father prepared to swing again. Link tried to block the club with his shield but the force of the blow sent Link stumbling into the ground.
“You know you can’t match my strength. But strength alone does not determine the outcome of a fight. You should know that very well by now.”
Link thought back to his fights with Ruairi. Getting back on his feet he turned to face his father. Eoghan raised the club above his head and brought it straight down at Link. Link raised his sword to catch the club, but instead of trying to stop the blow Link stepped to the right and used his sword to guide the club away from him. While the club crashed into the ground Link spun around and brought the sword to a stop at the back of his father’s neck.
“Very good,” Eoghan said. Link lowered his sword and let his father stand up. Eoghan then quickly demonstrated a few fighting stances and made Link repeat them as he went. Finally, Eoghan seemed satisfied.
“That’s all we have time for. You should be going if you’re going to make it back to the shaman before sunset,” Eoghan sat down on a nearby stool, “Always remember to fight with your head not your emotions.”
Eoghan was hunched over on the stool. He looked exhausted.
“Are you ok?”
“I’ll be fine. There’s a couple of saddle bags I prepared for you by the door. I didn’t pack much food for Epona. Once you reach Hyrule Field she should be fine just eating the grass. Be careful, Hyrule is not a safe place to travel in a group let alone by yourself.”
“I love you dad,” Link threw his arms around the only father he had ever known.
“I love you too son,” Eoghan whispered in his ear, “Now go.”
As Link pulled away he saw a single tear run down his father’s face before it was wiped away. Calling for Epona Link turned and picked up the bags. He quickly loaded the bags and hopped on Epona. Link turned to look at his father one last time before he and Epona headed towards town.
The sun was just barely touching the tops of the trees when Link and Epona reached town. An eerie silence hung over the clearing. Link could feel Epona getting more and more agitated the closer they came to the tavern. When they came in sight of the shaman’s tent Epona simply refused to go any further. So Link tied her reigns to a post at the back of the tavern and walked the rest of the way.
“Minhaga,” Link called out as he approached the tent. For a brief moment there wasn’t any reply. Link was about to call out again when the flap on the tent was pushed open and the shaman slowly emerged. He had a large bird on his arm, but Link didn’t recognize what kind it was.
The shaman eyed Link. His attention seemed drawn to the sword and shield on Link’s back.
“I may have underestimated you,” the shaman commented as he sat down on the stool outside his tent.
“Well, I’m sure you’ll want to be going as quickly as possible. I’ll stay here and do what I can for your friend while you travel to find the runes,” Minhaga turned to his bird, “Look for Hammerhead, she will have instructions for you and will bring each rune you find back to me. The first place you need to go is Goron City in the mountain ranges to the west of Hyrule. The roads are well marked so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it. The rune is hidden in the abandoned section of the mines in Death Mountain.”
Link heard what Minhaga was saying, but couldn’t keep his eyes off the brightly colored feathers of the shaman’s bird. “What kind of bird is Hammerhead?”
“A Helmaroc. She’s only a hatchling, but she’ll soon grow to her full size. You’d better get going. It’d be best if you were out of the woods before nightfall.”
Link couldn’t believe that the shaman was already buying into the ridiculous superstitions.
“Thank you for all your help.” Link started back towards Epona.
“There is one more thing.”
Link spun around as Minhaga produced a small leather strap from his cloak and offered it to Link.
“This is a very rare item once used by the Gerudo thieves. They would wear one of these on their wrists and when there was no other way they would rub the jewel concealed beneath the leather flap and it would allow them to pass through the most heavily guarded rooms undetected. Try it.”
Link put the leather bracelet on his left wrist. Underneath a flap he found a flat round red ruby. Link rubbed the ruby. A gasped escaped Link’s mouth as his watched his hands and arms disappear. He looked for the rest of his body but he couldn’t see it. Using his hands Link felt his way down his body. It was all still there. Behind him Epona whined, upset by his sudden disappearance, but Link’s vision suddenly clouded over and his body began to shake.
“Rub the jewel again,” Minhaga commanded.
Link obeyed. His vision cleared and his body stopped shaking as he became visible again.
“That jewel will make you and anything your skin touches completely invisible, but if you don’t return to normal soon it will drain your strength. Be sure to use it wisely,” the shaman warned.
“I will.” Link walked back to Epona admiring the jewel.
Once he untied her it took a great deal of persuading to get her to move. Even then she tried to keep as much distance between her and the shaman as possible as they left town.
The forest remained unnervingly still along the path out of the Faron Woods. The crescent moon dominated the sky as the thick trees parted revealing Hyrule field. Before them lay vast rolling plain as far as Link could see and the swaying grass made the hills appear to move in the moonlight. Link felt uncomfortable as he stared out at the vast openness before him. He decided to spend one last night under the shelter of the trees.
Thanks! I’m glad my descriptions are coming across well, that’s something I’ve struggled with as I’ve been writing.
If you don’t mind me asking, given what you know about the shaman so far what’s your opinion of him?
I know where that character is going, but I can’t tell if I’ve described him correctly up to this point.
I'm glad to hear that there is some indecision about him, with some of the stuff I put in about Minhaga I was begining to worry I was giving too much away.
He will be explained later on, but since Link won't see him again for a while I just wanted to check.
I'm sorry it took so long to finish this chapter. I had a lot of ideas for future chapters that kept pulling my attention away from this one.
Chapter 5: Hyrule Field 
Link was suddenly awake. He kept his eyes closed but tightened his grip around the handle of his sword. He had heard Epona neighing and could tell she knew something was nearby. He focused on the sounds around him straining his ears to find any sign of the intruder. But the woods were quiet. The seconds ticked by and still only silence. Link was about to relax when the faint sound of hushed voices reached his pointed ears.
“That stupid horse,” a voice whispered, “I thought for sure he was going to wake up.”
“Why are you here Nukpana?” a second voice demanded with much more authority than the first.
“Ahriman and I are getting anxious, when do we strike?”
“Go back to the north and wait for. . .”
The voice was abruptly cut off by a desperate snort from Epona. Leaping to his feet Link drew his sword his eyes scanning the woods around him. But in the morning light that filtered through the trees he didn’t see anyone. Link noticed Epona’s gaze was fixed on the area he thought the voices had come from. He picked up his shield and began walking in that direction. But there were no tracks or bent plants, in fact there was no evidence at all that anyone had been anywhere near his camp. He walked far enough that he almost lost sight of Epona then decided to give up his search.
Once he got back to camp Link allowed himself to relax.
“That was strange, wasn’t it girl?” Link stored his weapons, “I wish you could tell me what you saw.” He stroked Epona’s mane while continuing to scan the woods for any sign of the voices.
Finally Link spoke, “We’d better be going.” Link pulled some of Epona’s food out of the bags and let her eat while he packed up his bedding and re-saddled her. When she had finished eating he led Epona out of the woods while he ate his breakfast.
Once they cleared the forest Link hopped on Epona and they joined up with the road headed west.
It was about noon when Link spotted a small group of trees just off the road. He and Epona had kept a steady pace since they left the woods and this was the first sign of any break from the sun. He brought Epona to a stop, dismounted and led her towards the small oasis.
Hyrule field was certainly much bigger than he had imagined. Even though he had been able to see the peaks of the western mountains since he left Faron they never seemed to get any closer.
“This is going to take longer than I thought,” Link said to Epona, “I just hope Aria can hold on.”
The coolness of the shade washed over him as he and Epona reached the trees. Link stopped to soak it in. He had never realized the sun could be so oppressing. But Epona kept moving and Link soon discovered why when she lowered her head and began noisily drinking from a small creek that ran through the middle of the oasis.
“Good girl.” Link patted her side as he joined her by the creek. He knelt down and scooped a handful of water. The cool water soothed his burning throat and continued on down to his stomach. Link hadn’t realized until that moment just how thirsty he was and continued greedily drinking until his stomach could hold no more. He splashed a handful of water in his face then leaned back against a nearby tree.
Closing his eyes Link allowed himself to rest for a moment. Epona had been able to maintain a fast pace all morning, but as much as he hated it he knew their pace would have to be slower for the rest of the day or they’d never make it.
Link felt Epona push his shoulder with her nose almost knocking him over.
“I’m awake,” Link protested as he peered at her through half open eyes. Then he noticed a clear ball of slime where Epona had nudged him.
Epona simply stared into the distance, leaving Link to scrape off the goo with his bare hands. He rubbed most of it into the grass, then leaned forward and used the creek water to wash the rest of it off.
“Watch where you wipe that thing next time,” Link looked up at Epona, “You could at least look at me while I’m talking to you.”
But Epona’s eyes remained fixed on something to the west. Link followed her gaze, but couldn’t see anything through the trees. Link looked back at Epona. Her gaze hadn’t shifted.
“What’s so interesting out there?”
He followed her gaze again and this time he saw it.
A covered wagon veered off the road headed for the trees. The wagon was drawn by two beautiful black stallions, although both horses looked as though they had been over worked. On the side of the wagon Link saw pieces of words that someone had tried to remove. Holding the reigns in the front seat was a large round man, as he approached Link guessed the man was nearly as tall as Ruairi but unlike Link’s brother this man seemed to have more fat than muscle. A fact that was accentuated by a bulging belly his shirt failed to contain. The man’s large round face had a hardness about it that made Link want to check to see if his weapons were nearby and the coldness of the man’s black eyes didn’t help. His face was topped with short messy hair which had so much dirt caked into it that Link couldn’t tell what its true color was. But what really caught Link’s eye was the long scar that started at the man’s chin and curved upward as it moved along the left side of his face stopping at his ear.
Link rose to his feet and led Epona to the edge of the trees. Her fidgeting matched Link’s own feelings. The wagon slowed down and came to a stop directly in front of them.
“Well, what have we here?” the voice came from the back of the wagon. A second man hopped down. He was about Link’s height and although he had a thin frame his muscles were well defined. He wore pants with no shirt and had sword strapped to his back. The smooth tan skin of his flawless face surrounded his light brown eyes and his blonde hair was neatly trimmed around his face. But the way he moved set Link on edge.
“You do know that this is my group of trees don’t you?” the small man said.
“I’m sorry I didn’t realize that,” Link replied, “we were just leaving. . .”
Link took Epona’s reigns and tried to walk past the wagon. But the small man moved to block their path. The wagon groaned as the large man climbed down.
“I’m afraid that won’t do, you see there is a fee for using these trees.” The way the small man acted reminded Link of the way a cat played with its catch.
“What sort of fee?”
“That’s for me to decide.” The small man started to move towards Epona. But Link stepped in front of him.
A smile started to form on the man’s face, “Are you sure you want to do that?”
Link didn’t respond.
“You know you’re just going to make this harder on yourself. I’ll take what I think is fair payment and you can be on your way.” Link could easily tell the man was enjoying this, but Link didn’t budge. “Have it your way.”
The small man’s eyes moved to something behind Link. Seeing his chance Link dropped low to the ground while reaching back and slapping Epona on the butt. Epona lurched forward forcing the man to dive to the ground to get out of the way. Link spun around still staying low to the ground and by the time he stood up he was behind the big man and had his shield on his right arm. The big man was leaning forward trying to recover from his failed attempt to grab Link when Link drove his shield into his back causing him to stubble forward and nearly land on the smaller man. Link drew his sword and waited for them to recover.
“That was really stupid,” the calmness of the small man’s voice had worn off a bit. Using his foot the small man prodded the large man who was already struggling to get up. “What are you waiting for you worthless pile of blubber, GET HIM!”
The large man finally got back on his feet and charged Link. While Link didn’t doubt that this man could deliver some devastating blows, he moved slower than Ruairi and at the last second Link ducked out of the way catching the man’s foot, sending him crashing into the ground.
“Do I have to do everything myself?” The small man lunged at Link while drawing his sword.
He moved faster than Link expected and Link barely managed to get his sword up in time. The man took a step back, his face still filled with arrogant confidence. He began slowly moving to Link’s left putting Link between the man and the wagon.
The small man moved almost as fast as Aria as he attacked again swinging his sword at Link’s left side. Link caught the sword with his but the man kept moving and rammed his shoulder into Link’s shield causing Link to stumble backwards, slamming into the wagon. Out of the corner of his eye Link noticed the man bringing his sword around. He barely managed to bring his shield up in time to block the attack on his throat. Knocking away the man’s sword with his shield Link brought his own sword around and struck the man in the side of the head with the handle of the sword. The man backed away holding the side of his head. Blood began oozing between his fingers.
A baby’s cry came from the wagon. Link instinctively headed towards the back of the wagon to investigate but was abruptly stopped by the large man. Something struck Link across his back. The force of the blow sent him to his knees. Link sat there stunned as a sword came rest on his shoulder.
“I’m impressed. I’ve been hit a few times before but never in the face. I suppose I should start by re. . .”
The sword slid off Link’s shoulder followed by a thud behind him. Link looked around and saw the small man collapsed on the ground. He looked up at the large man and saw eyes as big as the wheels on the wagon set inside a ghostly white face. Again Link looked behind himself. He saw only the small man lying in the grass in the shade of the trees. Link reached over and placed the back of his hand near the small man’s mouth. He could feel the air rushing in and out. At least the man was still alive, but what happened to him? Link turned back around. The big man’s body immediately stiffened as Link looked at him.
“Your friend is still alive,” Link said thinking that might ease the big man’s fear.
But a terrified expression was the only response.
Link slowly rose to his feet. The big man stepped away as Link stood and inspected his back. It would be sore for a while but the chain mail had held. Link noticed the large man’s eyes kept darting back and forth between Link and the man on the ground. So he slowly began moving away from the small man. As he did the large man slowly inched his way toward his friend, while always maintaining his distance from Link. When he finally was within reach of the small man he quickly picked him up and started running away faster than Link thought he was capable of moving.