Posted on October 05 2018 by Adam Barham
Chapter 26: Nightfall
“Can I help?”
Link turned to face Kaden. He had been busy for the past few hours carrying supplies from one end of the castle to the other to help the few Kakariko survivors who made it to Hyrule. His little brother, wanting to mimic the elder, had been dying to do the same, asking the same question at least three times now. He sighed with a small smile.
“Perhaps. I would ask for help with these crates here, but I think they’re a bit too heavy for you. But…” He jerked his head toward a small family sitting by some of the Ordon survivors. “Can you go comfort those people over there?”
Kaden looked over, taking in the father, mother, and child, before gathering himself proudly and nodding. “Sure!” Link watched as he ran off, chuckling as Kaden give the family a hug.
A familiar voice spoke behind him. “That family lost their eldest son in that attack.”
“I know…” Turning from the family and his brother, Link chewed his lip in distraction. “It’s hard losing a family member..”
Ganondorf walked up beside Link, holding a crate of his own. Link chuckled at the sight. He had put on armor typical of a Hylian soldier to hide the Gerudo clothes, but it didn’t really work. Size, hair, build, those were harder to hide. Still, the man didn’t want to take any chances of being recognized, and Link respected that. Ganondorf turned his head to face him. “They were some of the few lucky ones who escaped, despite their losses…”
Link nodded, looking at the ground. “It’ll take them time…and we must do the best we can in the meantime.”
“You have more experience of this than just Ordon, don’t you?”
Link’s expression became sullen as he walked toward a pile of supplies. He set the crate down. “Yeah…”
“I apologize if it’s a subject you’d rather not-”
“No, no.” Link waves his hand dismissively, but his eyes burned holes through the crates as his head fought off memories long forced into the ground. “It’s alright. I accepted their deaths a long time ago… But, Kaden..” He looked over in his brother’s direction. The family was smiling as Kaden grinned right back, showing off his pendant to their youngest – and only remaining – child. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. I’m not going to lose you too.
“I do have one question. That pendant around his neck. It looks similar to a mark of the hero from the annals: the pendant of courage.”
Is that a question? “It’s nothing more than a trinket my father gave me when he was gone on his duty as a knight.” Link turned his gaze from the scene, starting his trek back to the other side of the castle. He raised his voice over his shoulder to the young boy. “Hey, Kaden, stay here and help the others for now, alright?”
“Ok!” Kaden patted the small child on her head and scampered off to help another homeless family.
Link noticed out of the corner of his eye Ganondorf open his mouth to say something, only for him to remain silent, choosing instead to follow. As they walked, Link looked silently about. He could see the guards stare at him. More specifically, at the Master Sword on his back. Just walking around helping people carrying a legendary sword on my back that is a once-in-a-lifetime offer to see… Don’t mind me…
This isn’t weird at all.
Link glanced to his right down one of the many halls of Hyrule Castle. “Hey, Rusl. How’s the rest of the village?”
Rusl walked past a few of the castle guards, with a large sack slung over his shoulder. “A lot better than before. Some of them have even gotten used to living around the castle already. The King seems a bit irritated, but, the servants still provide.”
“Of course, they do,” he said, when what he really wanted to say was, well, you try defying the princess. He nodded at the rucksack. “Supplies?”
“Arms, actually. The princess asked for every able-bodied soldier, or really anyone, to be honest, to suit up for a possible battle. She’s even letting us use some of the weapons exclusive to the Royal Guard.”
Link watched him set down the sack. He opened it to reveal swords, spears, bows, and shields, all of which bore the same design of the Royal Guard. Some in schemes of violet and black and crimson, some in blue and chrome and red. All polished to a beautiful, perfect finish he, himself had never achieved.
“There are plenty more where that came from.” Rusl stretched his arms before glancing over to Ganondorf. “Who’s your new friend?”
Link hesitated as he glanced back to Ganondorf before shrugging. “It’s the guy who got me out of Ordon. He’s cool.”
Rusl’s eyes darted between the two, and then the man shrugged and laughed. “Well to each their own. A friend of Link’s is a friend of mine.” Rusl nodded at the Gerudo. “Thanks for saving him, and thank you for helping us here. We need everyone we can get at this point.”
Ganondorf nodded curtly, but his eyes gave the thanks needed to Link for not saying too much.
Link nodded in return. It was nice to see someone give the man the chance he deserved. The princess, for all her good, could not change her mind when it was made up, and he knew she still struggled. But Ganondorf had given up his past, and that’s all Link needed to know.
“Hey, Link. One more thing…” Rusl beckoned to him with a secretive hand.
Link, curious, inched closer as Rusl reached into the sack. He pulled out a pristine shield, blue with a light gray metal outline. In its center sat the emblem of the Royal Family, the symbol of the Triforce that Link bore sitting above a red, regal bird. “It turns out the princess gave explicit orders that this be given to you.”
Link reached out to take the shield, holding it in his hands. Me? She certainly seemed to see something in him he didn’t, nor couldn’t. And, try as he might, he couldn’t get used to her preference.
Still, he couldn’t say he disliked it, per se. Her smile, when she wore it, he felt in his heart. Her tears, in his own eyes. He loved hearing her talk to him when she felt engrossed in her passions, about food, about her memories, about…really anything that struck her fancy. She brightened his little world, and he knew he brightened hers. They needed each other.
He would never regret his oath. Not for a single moment.
Shaking his head from his stupor, Link focused on the shield. It had a decent weight to it, as well as a familiarity that he couldn’t explain. He slid it onto his left arm and noticed it was a perfect fit. “This won’t break like the last one, right?”
Rusl shook his head. “The metal is tougher than wood.” He tied up his sack and slung it over his shoulder again with a great heft and grunt. “The Royal Family has been holding onto that shield for generations. As for why, I don’t know.” He started to walk away, past Link. “Either way, that shield carries weight with the Royal Family. Don’t disappoint them.”
Link sighed and nodded. “Don’t need to tell me twice. Take care, Rusl.” He affixed the shield to his back before waving to Rusl.
A few seconds passed before Ganondorf spoke up again. Link hadn’t realized he was still there. “First the Master Sword, and now the Hylian Shield, if I recall its name correctly. All you need is the clothing and then you’ll look like your predecessor.”
“So it is a relic of the hero…” He paused before laughing. “I’m pretty sure the princess doesn’t keep a spare Hero’s outfit in her room. And even if she did, she doesn’t let me in there. At all.”
“Take this advice from someone who was raised in a city of women: A woman’s room is essentially her sanctuary. And no one enters her sanctuary without her permission. If one does, then may the goddesses have mercy on that person’s soul.”
Link chuckled as the advice. “Disturbing, yet, oddly accurate.” He turned to continue down the hall, passing by the infirmary. He paused as he scanned the empty room. The last time he had seen it, he had been a patient. As had…what was her name? Zelda’s handmaiden. He wondered what happened to her. And if it could have happened to him… “To think I was in there just a few weeks ago.”
“It’s only been a few weeks? I suppose time does fly when-”
Link was surprised as the pause, turning around. “What is it?”
“The Master Sword.”
Link glanced over his shoulder, noticing a faint glow coming from his sheath. He unsheathed the sword, shining a bright, brilliant cerulean blue. His confusion and bewilderment were soon followed by a sense of dread and urgency, as if the very air itself was filled with tension. Every fiber of his being was screaming at him that something was wrong.
And then the ground shook. Followed by a few loose pebbles falling off from the wall. A deep boom echoed through the halls. A few seconds passed as the castle became silent. Link took a deep breath and looked down the hall. There were guards rushing toward the source of the sound. One of them turned to Link, shouting as he continued down the hall. He couldn’t understand, as his heart thudded in his ears. He gulped, and breathed, and clenched his fists around the sword’s hilt.
“We’re under attack!”
Immediately, Link’s head snapped back into the race. No…they can’t be. They only just destroyed Kakariko yesterday. They can’t already be… Another thought crossed his head, one that filled him with dread. He immediately turned away from the guards and starting running down the hall, with one word echoing along the walls.
Featured image by MaskedGolem.