Chapter 23: Countdown

 As a flurry of bright red feathers descended from a hole in the ceiling, Deya looked up from the project that he had been working on. Raising a dirty, scratched hand in greeting, he called out, “Greetings, Avela! How did the trip to Gerudo Town go?”

 Avela landed as gracefully as always, set a few full leather bags on the ground, roused her feathers, and turned to Deya as she shook her head. “Eh, it was horrible. But I suffered through it.”

 Deya gave a sad smile and chuckled in response. “I know I’ve said it before, but I still wish I was able to go up and go in your place. But I know that an upward flight with a passenger is hard on you, and they don’t let guys – or ‘voes’, as they call them – inside their walls. So-”

 Avela nodded and shrugged. “Knowing you, you probably have said it before, but it never hurts to repeat it.” She winked at Deya. “You know my memory.”

 Deya smirked. “Indeed, I do.”

 “And if you have said that before, then I’ve probably said something along the lines of, ‘Don’t worry about it, there’s nothing you can do about it, and-’”

 “‘You’ll pay me back at some point, anyway’,” Deya finished for her, grinning.

 Avela shook her head and gestured towards him with her wing. “There you go, then.”

 Nodding, Deya continued. “I know that you aren’t a fan of interacting with people that you don’t know.”

 “Especially when they call me names,” Avela added, looking away.

 “Avela, ‘Vure’ is just their word for ‘bird’. It’s not meant to be offensive.” Knowing that he couldn’t change her mind, Deya shook his head with a slight smile. “At any rate, did you get everything taken care of?”

 Avela nodded, lifting the leather bags. “Yep! I bought more food and bought a few more individual topaz gems from Isha, like you asked. I also returned the dress to Isha, the quilt to Romah, and the tablecloth to Lorn, and they paid for the repairs you made.”

 Deya crossed his arms. “It’s a good thing that they’re willing to pay for such a simple thing that I had to do on a regular basis growing up.”

 “And that you can apparently do faster than they can.”

 Deya shrugged, then winced and uncrossed his arms. Looking down at his clothes, he stated, “I forgot how dirty my hands were. I really need to stop putting them on my clothes. When we leave here, all of my clothes are going to need a thorough cleaning. Or burning. This whole place is a mess.”

 Avela nodded her agreement, then glanced around behind him. “And do you have any idea when that will be? How is your work coming along?”

 Deya turned around and looked over his makeshift workstation, littered with scraps of metal, small gems, and a variety of other materials and random objects he had salvaged from the ruins in which they stayed. “Hopefully soon. I’ve made good progress, honestly, but, to be honest, I can’t do much more with the few materials here. I think I’ll have to get the last few things from Castle Town.” Glancing back at Avela, he asked, “Also, do you remember if I had a halberd at Rito Village?”

 Avela shook her head. “I may not have great memory, but I think I would’ve noticed that.”

 “Hmm – that’s what I thought. That means that I left it at Hyrule Castle. I wanted to install some of-” he wove his hand over his cluttered table, “-this to it. Yet another reason to return there.” He thought for a moment. “On the other hand, I have been considering making an entirely new blade out of what I’ve been working on.” He shook his head to focus. “But even so, I’d still need to get other materials from Castle Town.”

 As his eyes fell on something on his work station, they shone with excitement. “Oh! And have I shown you this?” He picked up a large, cubed object he had found buried beneath rubble and dust. One entire corner had been pushed in, and it had taken quite a bit of elbow grease to scrub off what had to be a millennium’s worth of caked dust, but it still functioned, and quite well. “This thing is wild. I can’t wait to figure out what to do with it.”

 “What is it?”

 “I think this was the head of some mechanical sentry here. It’s beat up, but it still looks almost identical to a couple of the other sentries around these ruins. But,” he said, tapping a dirty, broken lens on the front of it, “do you see this? It’s like something out of a telescope or something. I don’t know what it’s made out of, yet – it could be glass, but it seems too durable. Maybe crystal, but it’s so clear and flawless – aside from the dirt. But behind it definitely is a crystal, which, when given a charge, I noticed blasts a powerful beam of energy through.”

 “That sounds cool!”

 Deya nodded and grinned. “Have you noticed a lack of Keese recently?”

 Avela cocked her head. “I hadn’t paid much attention, but now that you mention it, I haven’t seen many – er, any, actually.”

 Deya pat the broken-down head. “You can thank this. At one point while you were out, a Keese swarm found its way in here, so I decided to try firing this at them to see how strong it really was. They were obliterated by it.”

 Avela leaned over, placed a wing on the weapon, and whispered, “Thank you.” Turning back to Deya, she inquired, “But, you mentioned returning to Hyrule Castle? Do you think she’ll be back?”

 Deya sighed. “I don’t know if Her Highness and Link will have returned from their trip to the Lost Woods with Ganondorf by then or not. It doesn’t really matter, anyway.” Avela raised a brow. “You made a bigger deal of it than I did. Yes, it did rather hurt in the moment. In her defense, however, she was under quite a bit of stress, and I interrupted and overstepped my boundaries.”

 “Princess or not, the way she responded to you was rude.”

 Shrugging, Deya responded, “I don’t want to be on her wrong side. As a member of the royal family, she still has my respect. That was just a – bad moment for her. Besides. I’m not one to hold a grudge. I’ve seen grudges between others before – it only hurts everyone involved.”

 He clapped his hands together. “At any rate! Hyrule Castle plans! I’m hoping to leave here within the next three or four days. We can teleport back to Rito Village and head to Castle Town from there. I’ll want to pack up everything I can, and we can return later if need be.

 “Speaking of which, I was thinking we could build a teleportation station at the bottom of the pit we entered from, and perhaps another near Gerudo Town.”

 “That seems like a good idea to me.”

 Deya nodded, continuing, “And considering that we’ve already made one, it shouldn’t be as hard to make another, now that I have a better idea of what I’m doing. Don’t want anyone getting split on some sort of alternate plane of existence.” He winked, amused by her adorably clueless face. “Never mind. I don’t even know how it works. It’s just magic.” She tilted her head. “We should just get started packing, shouldn’t we?”

 

“Life is precious, and to be valued. I swear to protect it. To the poor, I will give riches. To the downtrodden, I will give my spirit. May I aid them in finding their path.”

Flawless. Not a single break in that long, thin reflection running the length of Yoro’s broadsword. Decades old, branded with the golden crest of the royal family, and still as perfect and sharp as the day he had completed his oath.

“Truth above all, and never to falter. I swear to uphold it. To the liar, I will speak honestly. To the false, I will remember my oath, that they may see the light.”

He ran his woolen cloth once more to the hilt. It was redundant to this point, but routines needed followed, and steps must never be overlooked for the sake of convenience. He had not kept his blade so perfectly and he had not survived on the battlefield for this long by cutting corners.

“I seek not personal power nor glory, for my name shall be written in history as a soldier for Her Grace.”

Yoro held up the sword once more, perpendicular to his face, staring down the blade. Like an extension to his body, a part of him just as his hand, his head, and his heart. The sun shone bright off the polished metal. He slashed it a few times, cutting the air with little more than a soft whisper.

“For the greater good, I will fight. For the sake of the Goddess, her Land, and and her Royal Line, I will lay down my life with valor.”

Yoro’s words echoed in the voice of another, and he spun to face the intruder.

“In Hylia’s name, my duty, my honor, my loyalty eternal, until, by blade or sickness, by time itself, She calls me home to her side.”

“Syril,” Yoro smiled, sheathing his blade and greeting the man. Another defector, tired of the hypocrisy of the crown, Syril had been the first of his troops to join Yoro’s side when he had left the Royal Army. Mid-twenties, sandy hair, bright violet eyes, and a scar that made for an interesting conversation piece along his jaw. Yoro had never been sure if he got it on the battlefield or in a drunken bar fight, and Syril never answered the same way twice.

Syril gave a brief salute. “I could never tell if those words were meant to be an oath or a prayer,” he said, flashing a hole where two teeth had once been, oddly enough, on the opposite side of his face as the scar.

“Knowing the king?”

“Fair point, sir,” Syril nodded. He raised a rolled up parchment. “This just came in for you.”

Yoro took the parchment, unrolled it, read the message, then rolled it back up with a nod. “And word of Morris?”

“About a day out.”

“Good. Prepare the men. We move tonight. Don’t want him catching up to us and standing in our way, now do we?”

“Then, he does not know?”

“No. And he won’t, not until we are done.”

Syril smiled approvingly. He, too, was tired of sitting and waiting. A roughly crafted club reinforced with bones that more than likely had been torn out barehanded never lay far from him. Rumor had it, he slept with the weapon. At the moment, it rested strapped between his shoulders, and a tuft of black fur clung to the tip, matted with speckles of dried blood.

The General sighed at the sight. When planning a coup, apparently, one could not be picky about the quality of character that took his side. The crazy and maniacal, the bored, the chaos seekers, and, sometimes among them, the loyal who could reign them all in and maintain order. Syril tended to bounce between, but his loyalty remained steadfast, even if his mind and approach were a bit aggressive. He’d get the job done, or he’d die trying.

“And what word should I return to the Lieutenants?” Syril asked.

Yoro glanced down at the note, still clutched in his hand. Finally, after so long of serving in the shadow of the king and the royal family, after making his break, after pecking and nipping back enough to bloodlet, the dawn crested on the horizon. His work was nearly complete. One last bite to the jugular, one last attack, and the monarchy would be weakened enough to fall. All he needed to do was give the word, and his waiting Darknuts and their troops, clouded by the night, would make their move. The last stronghold would fall, and then Hyrule Castle would be his for the taking. He crunched the parchment in his fingers.

“Our time has come. Attack.”

 

Featured image by MaskedGolem.

Beyond the Horizon is a collaboration between Adam Barham, Jarrod Raine, and Kat Vadam. Follow them on Twitter.

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