Posted on September 21 2018 by Kat Vadam
Chapter 24: Omens
A booming voice echoed throughout the grove, catching Link by surprise. “It has been a long time since that sword has been wielded….”
Link dropped his arm to the side, his right hand still clutching the blade of legend, the Master Sword, as he looked around for the source of these words. Listening carefully to the ambience around him, he picked up on the creaking of wood, the rustling of leaves, and the rattling of what he thought were wooden chimes. A sort of hollow, dull melody. He glanced up a nearby tree and caught a rather odd sight: a small creature with a leaf on its face. It seemed to be made of bark and wood. And…no…that leaf IS its face.
The creature jumped as Link reared his head back a fraction, catching on that it had been seen. It bolted off to hide behind a different tree, this one more massive, more imposing, looming over the grove like an overseer. As Link watched it go to hide, he noticed several other similar creatures to it, peaking out of various nooks and crannies of the massive tree. And then, he focused on the tree itself – how he didn’t notice it before, he wasn’t sure, because it was enormous. Its branches created half the canopy above them, sheltering the ground from the very rays of the sun. And it had…a…face.
Yeah. Yeah, it is. He could clearly see the wood shaped such that the tree had long eyebrows, a large nose, a mustache, and a mouth.
Strange… This forest seemed to be full of hidden secrets.
The leaves on the tree shook as the wood moved. The creatures shifted away as the eyebrows of the tree raised in surprise. “It’s alright, children. These people will not cause any harm.”
“Whoa!” Link heard. It took him a moment to realize he had said it, and so had the Princess from behind him.
The little creatures began to pop out, one by one, to stare at him. There were so many, each made of wood, each with its own unique leaf-like face. As he watched, some of the creatures pulled out leaves and used them to fly.
“I apologize for startling you,” the massive, overseeing tree spoke again. “The sight of the Master Sword and its wielder reminded me of an age long past.”
Link took a step back as the tree turned its gaze down upon him.
This is a dream. Or I am going insane.
“I am the Great Deku Tree, the guardian spirit of this forest and the guardian of The Blade of Evil’s Bane. These are my children, the Koroks.”
“If I may,” Zelda’s musical tones caught Link off guard. He, too, felt as jumpy as the little tree “children,” and took a few breaths to try and calm himself.
The princess, on the other hand, did not seem to notice his distress, far too focused on the tree. She took a few steps toward it and craned her neck to look into its face. “I didn’t believe the legends were actually true; at least, in this case.”
The tree – the Great Deku Tree, apparently – chuckled, a sort of booming noise that rattled his teeth. “The legends are legends for good reason, Your Highness.”
Link looked past Zelda to see Ganondorf sigh and shake his head. He turned his gaze back towards the Deku Tree. “If you were in the legends, then you know why we came here, correct?” He hoped no one would notice the quiver in his voice; his fingers gripped the warmed hilt of the sword in desperate attempt to steady himself.
“Yes, and your timing could not be any more perfect, Link. There has been a great evil biding its time, waiting for its moment to strike.”
Zelda glanced back toward Ganondorf through the corner of her eye, her face covered with a sense of disdain. “We are well aware who you are referring to.”
“The man who stands with you is not the cause. It is a much older evil…”
“But…” she stammered, “he’s always been the Prince of Darkness, the King of Thieves, the-”
“Princess, I would not be so foolish as to allow such an individual into my forest. I have watched him as much as I have watched you and Link, and I have seen him distance himself from the being he once was.”
Link watched as Zelda locked herself in thought, eyes narrow and unfocused. It was as if everything she had known was flipped upside down, her confusion etched in every feature of her face. Her voice, though quiet, stuttered trying to counter. “But if he… How could… Why isn’t..”
“Your Highness.” Link spoke softly, approaching her. She blinked at him but did not really process he was there, trapped in her own thoughts. He reached out and gripped her upper arm – she seemed to respond well to physical contact. At least, from him. It had a sort of calming effect on her…when she wanted it to, at least. When she wasn’t so angry. “It’s alright. If he’s not evil, then he’s an ally.”
She tilted her head, processing his words. She looked down at his hand, then into his face. For a moment, she hesitated, then, she reached up and tangled their fingers together with a sigh. “I’m… I must apologize…”
Oh, thank Hylia, Link thought as he agreed. She seemed to be seeing reason. Maybe. He may have been able to read her most of the time, and she seemed to be finally grasping that maybe Ganondorf wasn’t so bad, but he shuddered to think if he was wrong. A vision of her at Zora’s Domain popped into his head. No, he didn’t really care to see her so enraged again.
From behind them, Ganondorf nodded. “All is forgiven if you accept me as I am, and not who I have been in the past.”
The Deku Tree’s voice rang out once again. “I sense a great fear lurking in your hearts, each different than the other. But I also sense great strength. In time, I believe that one will stand over the other.”
Link nodded. “We all have things to worry about. But about the evil – what are we up against?”
“Unfortunately, I am unsure. It is of great age, of this I am sure. Before my time, I believe.”
“I see.” Link chewed his lip, finding his fingers still occupied by Zelda’s. No one really seemed to know what they were up against, just that it was coming, and it was powerful enough to take down an entire kingdom. Maybe? That’s what he was getting. He felt woefully unprepared, even though apparently, the fate of Hyrule rested on him. Great. Just great. If nothing else, I can just poke whatever it is with this sword. If it doesn’t just sneak up behind me and poke me first.
As though listening to his thoughts, the Great Deku Tree chuckled once more. “Every sword requires its sheath, don’t you think?”
“Huh?” Link watched in amusement as five Koroks carried an intricately crafted sheath, colored royal blue with golden filigrees. He had to admit, it was stunning. The middle contained the symbol of the Triforce, its metal sheen glistening in the daylight.
They waddled over and held it up to him. “Here you go, Mister Hero. We cleaned it off for you!”
Link chuckled and picked it up. It was surprisingly light and had no signs of wear and tear. Almost by instinct, Link stepped back and brandished the sword, the blade effortlessly slicing through the air. As he brought it down in front of him with his right hand, he sheathed it with his left. The blade slid in perfectly. He slung the sheath behind him, then remembered he already had a sword just as the two blades collided with a very unheroic thunk! He smiled.
Zelda shifted her weight from one foot to the other, contemplating how she felt. On one hand, seeing Link with the sword of legend gave her a sense of security. Heroes of the past had wielded the Master Sword against every evil they have faced, and, even though Link was his own person, unsure and unsteady, she knew he’d rise to be the Hero once more. She had faith in him, if nothing and no one else.
But, on the other hand, everything seemed so looming and ominous, a sense of dread without a body. What came for them, if not Ganondorf? The balance of Courage, Wisdom, and Power was tipped, yet nothing could be said for sure about the who, how, and what do we do now? Deep in her gut, next to the sense of doubt – she still remained unconvinced of Ganondorf’s perfect innocence – she felt sick. Unreal. Like everything was falling apart around her, and she was frozen in place, forced to watch it fall.
Link had taken to examining the sword, running through his dance of blades until it was smooth and flawless once more. It had not taken long. She watched him, impressed for a moment despite her demanding thoughts, and reminded once more that, with him, they’d all be safe.
You are everything Hylia told me you would be.
“Of course, he is.”
Zelda jumped, almost tripping over a tree root. Hylia chuckled, stepping next to her, bathed in light with a warm smile on her face. Same blonde hair, same green eyes, Zelda felt she looked into an ethereal mirror, and the reflection that looked back was almost her, almost there, almost real.
“Am I dreaming?” the princess asked. Nearby, Ganondorf heard her.
“What, Your Highness?”
Zelda growled and shook her head. She took her leave and made her way back to the grove’s entrance, ducking behind a nearby tree. And then, she waited, and waited, and looked around, and waited.
“So, are you just going to make me look like an idiot, then leave? Thanks.”
“No. I’m here.” Hylia appeared once more, sitting at the tree’s base. She smiled radiantly. “Just waiting for you to see me.”
“Well, I see you. What do you want?”
She shook her head. “I know you’re angry with me, Zelda.”
“I am always angry with you, Hylia. What do you want?”
“I want you to listen to me.”
Zelda threw up her hands.
“Zelda, please,” Hylia pleaded, and that stopped her in her tracks. A frightened goddess was never a good sign. “You face an ancient evil, in its original form, through the hands of another. He is coy, and he is powerful. And as you two are now, I fear you are not ready to fight him.”
“What do you want me to do?”
Hylia’s form shifted in one fluid motion, defying natural movement. One moment she was sitting, and the next, she stood before Zelda, hand reaching out, and there was nothing that could be done. The moment the Goddess’s fingers touched, Zelda gasped and the world went dark.
Twisting, contorting and angry, engulfed in an inferno of black and crimson flames, she could see the world burning, but there was no warmth to be felt. No sense of freedom as she writhed and screamed, trapped in a frozen wasteland where her home once stood. She could see its spires and balconies, staring in horror as they were consumed by hate. She shivered uncontrollably.
“What do you want from me?” she called to the Goddess, sensing her presence. She heard a cry all around, echoing through this endless nightmare. “Why have you brought me here?!”
“You cannot give in, Zelda!” The cries took form, Hylia appearing before her. Her face was tear-streaked, her white dress torn. She gripped her chest and stumbled, falling to her knees with labored breaths that Zelda felt in her own lungs. “Please, no matter what happens, you cannot give into him!”
Zelda gasped once more and ripped her eyes away. She was back in the forest, flat on her back, staring up at a thick canopy of emerald leaves and several of those little leaf faces of the forest’s children. They squeaked at her and flailed, summoning to someone or something nearby. She sat up with a start, drenched in sweat and shaking violently.
Suddenly, she found herself wrapped in Impa’s warm, familiar embrace. Her heart raced her stomach for first to give way.
“It’s ok. It’s ok, Little Princess,” the Sheikah cooed, gripping her tightly. “It’s just a nightmare. It’s not real.”
“It was, Impa!” she sobbed. Her face pressed into Impa’s shoulder, and she uncurled herself to return the embrace. “Hylia was warning me of something, and I don’t know what!”
Impa fell conspicuously still. “What did she tell you?”
“That I can’t give in. But she wouldn’t tell me what’s coming. She wouldn’t tell me anything useful!”
“We…we need to get you home. Now.”
It took a moment for the urgency to settle in.
“Something has happened…” Zelda whispered, looking up to meet Impa’s crimson gaze. Her advisor stared back, in sorrow and fear. Her eyes watered with unshed tears that the princess had never once seen grace them. Not even when her mother died. Not in her bloodiest of battles.
Impa sniffed and nodded. “We need to get you home,” she repeated, pulling them both to stand. “It’s no longer safe for you outside the castle.”
“Impa, what’s happened?”
“Zelda, please, just come with me.”
The next words, the moment they were spoken, Zelda knew she would never forget for the rest of her life.
“You face an ancient evil, in its original form, through the hands of another. ”
“Kakariko has fallen.”
Featured image by MaskedGolem.