Posted on October 12 2018 by Kat Vadam
Chapter 27: Fall – Part One
Deya and Avela looked at the wall with confusion as the room shook.
From his work table, Deya looked over at his winged companion. “What do you suppose that was?” Avela shrugged. He shrugged back, turning his head to return to his project. “You know, I think some of this might be ready for a test-run soon. What do you think?”
Giggling, Avela responded, “You’d know better than I would.”
The earth shook again, and the stone walls creaked in distress. A couple of shouts rang out, and, in the distance, even more screams. The two looked at each other, and he could see his own concern reflected in her eyes. They moved to open the room’s door, and peeking their heads out, they saw soldiers begin to run down the halls.
“What’s going on?” Avela called, as men and women continued to stampede by.
One man stopped near them. He looked up and down the hall, then shouted to his fellow soldiers. “There are civilians here! We need to evacuate them!”
“Evacuate? What’s happening?”
The entire room shook again, showering dust on the guard’s head. “Hyrule Castle is under attack!”
Deya leaned against the wall to steady himself, and Avela’s eyes filled with terror. He looked back the gear he had been working on, then once more to his friend. He gave a weak chuckle, then stated, “I suppose now is as good a time as any to try the set out, huh?”
She simply stared at him in response. Soldiers all along the hall began calling for everyone to evacuate, ushering scared people toward what they hoped might be safety as the sound of more explosions echoed down the corridor.
“We need to go,” said Avela, with a quiver in her voice.
“I know.” Deya looked back at his project. “But I think this will work. We might need all the protection we can get.” He walked over to the table and picked up his halberd, which now whirred mechanically, connected to a battery pack at its base. “Can you help me put this all on – quickly?” Avela jumped over to the table and began by picking up a large glove bound in wiring, helping him don his gear.
A few moments later, the two were running down the hall with the rest of the survivors from both Kakariko and Ordon. Avela nervously glanced over at Deya, now wearing a cloak to hide his equipment. It wasn’t perfect – a slight glow still emitted from beneath – but chaos reigned enough right now, and he did not want to add to the worry. As they neared the courtyard, shouts and screams of soldiers and civilians began to grow louder against a backdrop of inhuman cries that sent shivers down Deya’s spine. He began to notice the smell of smoke, and of sulfur growing stronger. The ground trembled beneath his feet.
He stepped out into the courtyard to see a sky almost black with smoke and storm clouds. Avela hugged him, both to calm his nerves, and, moreso, to calm her own.
“This is – this is – ” Avela whispered.
“Like Ordon Village all over again,” he finished with a solemn nod. “Except this time, it’s much worse.”
Deya’s attention was caught by a sharp, rapid movement of a blue light on his left.
Link stopped running and turned to see who had called for him. “Deya! What is it?”
Deya stared at the sword glowing blue in the young man’s hand. Fascinating. But time was not on his side right now. He focused back on Link “What are you doing? Where’s the Princess?”
Link’s face paled. “I – I don’t know. I’m going to find her, but I was trying to find Kaden first.”
Deya looked at Avela, and a decision was made between them. “We’ll find Kaden. You focus on the Princess. You’re her knight, and she needs you.”
“Are you sure?”
Still nervous, Avela hesitated, then gave a quick nod. “Yes. I can carry him out of here. It’ll be fine. Go. Be with her.”
Link stared for a moment before giving a quick thanks. He turned and charged into the castle.
Avela tuned to Deya and asked, “Are you sure about this? We’re already in a war zone.”
Deya sighed. “He’d do the same if I were missing you. And besides –” he pat the gear hidden in his cloak. “I think we might be all right.”
Everything is not all right! Everything is not all right! Link’s mind was racing. I have no idea where Kaden is, this has a low chance of ending well for the survivors, and I need to find Zelda, who could be anywhere!
He could barely focus on the castle around him. Every stone seemed to merge together as he ran through the castle. He turned a corner. His eyes widened upon seeing a group of pig-like archers, the very same he had seen in Ordon, each with their bows ready to fire at any guard who passed by. A large armored figure, with shaded face hidden behind dark plating, stood behind them shouting orders. As Link paused, it seemed to glance over at him, a thought horrifyingly confirmed when it raised and pointed a finger to him.
In response, Link ran forward and donned his shield as the archers fired with harmonious squeals, their arrows coming at random, and fast. His running led into a slide to get past the first three, which hit the ground behind and buried themselves in the dirt, before he used his momentum to get back into a sprint. He gripped his shield tight and raised it to block the rest. They pinged, each collision rippling through the metal and into his skin like little pricks.
His sight turned to one of the creatures to his left, and he brought the Master Sword down to bear. Before it could notch a second arrow, Link swung in a wide arc to his left, effortlessly cleaving it in two before it disappeared in a cloud of black and crimson smoke.
He glanced to his right as two of archers dropped their bows and grabbed thick, weighty wooden clubs with heads far larger than his own. They meant to cave his body in. He met them in their attack.
One swing – one beast down. A stab forward, he turned the sword and brought it up through flesh and sinew, and the next one fell. They, too, soon dissipated into smoke. Three down…
Link turned to face the remaining archers as they took a few steps back and to line up around their leader, all with arrows notched and aimed directly at him. He raised his shield and held the Master Sword firmly, waiting for the next volley, only to dodge as the massive, armored commander picked up a nearby barrel and chucked it directly at him.
Duck! His mind screamed, but he was slower on the draw. The barrel exploded against the back wall, knocking Link to the side as the archers fired. He just managed to raise his shield in time. He felt the wind of one arrow, and a sharp scratch as one grazed his ankle and hit the floor.
A familiar voice rang out in his head, one he recognized as the messenger spirit from Zora’s Domain. “Link, now would be a great time to focus your energy through the Master Sword.”
Link growled. I’m just a little busy at the moment…
“Just trust me, will you?! Swing the Master Sword right now while focusing your energy and I guarantee your problem here will be solved.”
How do I ‘focus my energy?! Link blocked another volley of arrows, raising the Master Sword up for an overhead slash. Fine!
He closed his eyes, took a breath, and let it out in one smooth motion. The world around him seemed to slow as he felt the sword warm up. His eyes flew open as he swung down.
To his great surprise, a beam of pure white energy left the blade, blasting outward and straight into one of the archers, cutting it clean in half. Link stared flabbergasted.
“I can do that?!”
He quickly raised up his shield once again to block more arrows; the remaining archers seemed to barely realized one more of them was gone. Once again, he focused his energy another swing and watched as another fell. And then another. He continued with a third and a fourth as the remaining archers fell. He turned his sights toward the leader, who unsheathed its own broadsword and shield in an offensive stance.
Link raised his shield and sword with a rejuvenated grin. “Bring it on.”
He clenched his right hand as his Triforce glowed and stared down the armored creature as both parties waited for the other to move. The air stood still. Link took a deep breath and twitched his shield arm. A sense of satisfaction hit as his opponent took the bait. It rushed in with its massive black shield in front. It stabbed at him.
Link sidestepped to his left and quickly inspected the leader’s exposed side for a weakness. Then he saw it, a small gap between the chestplate and backplate. He didn’t hesitate a moment more. Before the it could move its arm back to cover the weakness, he stabbed the Master Sword through it, feeling his lips part with a victorious cry.
It dropped its sword, grunting in pain, and swung its arm to knock Link back. But the effort was futile.
Link pulled the Master Sword out and dodged easily as it attempted another swing with its shield.. He ducked and noticed a similar gap its left side. With a stab through this gap too, he watched as it fell. And with it, the room became still.
After a moment, the spirit spoke to him again. “Don’t forget…”
Link picked up the Master Sword and sprinted down the hall. I know. Don’t need to tell me twice! He turned left, then right, then another left again before he saw his destination behind a massive gilded door.
If I had to guess, that’s probably the Sanctum…
Please let Zelda be there.
“I want you to listen to me…”
I listened, Hylia, and you said nothing. I need you, and you’re not here.
The Princess stood at the castle’s front gate, frozen, feet firmly planted against stone. Screams and pleas for help echoed on air thick with acrid smoke that burned her nasal passages, down into her throat. Her eyes stung, swollen, though more from her surroundings or her shed tears, she could not tell. She could not even begin to wonder.
Her head once more cursed the Goddess as she stared, blurred, upon what had once been her town, her people. Her eyes saw the bodies, she could smell the blood, she could feel the heat upon her flushed skin, but terror had numbed her into a sort of stupor. She processed nothing as some sort of warped inner defense mechanism continued her argument with Hylia.
Who was nowhere to be found. Of course…
She felt her fingers clench, her knees tremble beneath the layers of her dress. And her trusty worn boots, protecting toes that curled into soles worn thin.
“You cannot give in, Zelda…!”
“Your Highness!” A voice echoed in the distance like a faint call.
A shriek split the blackened sky; emerald snapped back into focus in time to see a tall, lanky beast with an elongated snout rear over her and raise a giant spiked club. And then, the beast collapsed, ridden to the ground by a much smaller human form. The rider, pale with razor crimson eyes, moved like a shadow, and Zelda tilted her head to watch in curiosity. No fear, no hesitation as the shadow being shifted and flowed with the winds and flames, ever floating with the embers. One moment, in front of her, the next, behind, burying a knife deep in the neck of another screaming creature that she had never even noticed was there.
Zelda felt weak, felt herself leaving her own body, disconnecting from reality. She was floating, rising to the skies, leaving this vast void below her. From the weight of mountains to the weight of a single feather, plucked from the hindquarters of a cucco just before a meal.
A stiff breeze picked her up and carried her with the whims of the world. She stared at the sky, grey and featureless. No clouds. No sun. No light.
“Down here. We’ll be safe here for now.”
That breeze slammed her hard against a wall, and she cried out as her shoulder crashed. She blinked, and the shapeless, featureless, boring sky took form once more as a stone bridge, spanning over a massive steel blue mote. She knelt, feeling a sting in her palms against small, sharp pebbles. She had been shoved against the bridge, and now, that shadow pressed against her, warm despite those cold eyes.
“Stay down, it’s ok.”
The Sheikah pressed a finger against her lips, listening to the thudding of footsteps above. They faded after a moment. Rylan shifted back, and smiled gently. “Hello, Zelda.”
“Rylan!” Zelda whispered sharply, and grabbed at the other’s waist. She clung, desperate to hold on to a warmth that would not burn, that would protect. “It’s all coming apart! It’s all-!”
“I know, I know,” Rylan nodded, running her fingers through Zelda’s hair. “It’s ok. I need you calm, ok?”
“But Castle Town is-”
“I know. But there are survivors.”
This caught Zelda off guard, and she immediately snapped her mouth shut. Her heart pounded in her ears.
“I and some of the other soldiers managed to get a handful of them out. Women and children, mostly. They’re headed for the forest.”
“Oh, Rylan, thank you-”
“But now, I need to get you out.” Rylan pulled them apart, grasping Zelda’s upper arms with a strong reassurance demanding of silence. “Which means I need you calm and strong, ok? Can you do that?”
Zelda gulped, and nodded, but she didn’t feel so sure. She wasn’t even sure if any of this was real. For all she knew, she was still standing, staring out over the remains of her hometown, or drifting up into the clouds, or asleep in her tower, and all of this was a terrible, terrible dream.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” the princess nodded after a moment. “I’m good.”
“Ok. Then where is there a bug-out door?”
Rylan held up her hand for silence, listening to the grounds above once more. But there was little sound now: no more cries and screams, no more clashing swords or pounding footsteps with the telltale clang of plate armor. Only the flow of the water below. “A door to a passage often used as a means of escape. Does the castle have one?”
Zelda thought, chewing her lip. “Sanctum. Behind a tapestry under the throne. The passage leads northeast. But I don’t even know if it’s still structurally stable.”
Rylan seemed to consider her words, then nodded. “It’s the best we’ve got; come on.” She took the princess’s hand, just as Impa would do, and lead her up to the bridge’s topside. Zelda followed without hesitation. They crept silently across the mote, ducking this way and that to stay in the shadows along the ascending path. A couple times, they had to duck into crevices in the rock, and Zelda felt herself once more pressed behind the safety of a warm human shield. She clung desperately to Rylan’s back, forcing herself to focus on silently obeying.
Before long, and with somehow only a few minor hiccups that Rylan relieved with a swift stab of her blade, the two entered Sanctum, the center of her castle and home to her father’s gilded throne.
Her heart stopped. A second too late, she found herself thrown once more against a wall.
“Don’t look. Just don’t look.”
But it was too late. Zelda had looked, and she had seen. She dropped to her knees. “No, no, no…”
No, please, no.
They had barely gotten along since her mother, the Queen’s most unfortunate passing. Constantly bickering, two headstrong, stubborn personalities clashing against one another. But…but he was her father. And she was his little girl, always the one to ride on his shoulders around the courtyard, or bring him flowers clotted with dirt that dropped onto the polished floors.
And there he sat, above Sanctum on his throne, crown in his lap, propped to sit up by the blade through his heart. Royal blue of his clothing had become rich violet, soaked through and glistening. She pressed herself into the cold stone floor.
“Wonderful of you to join us, Your Highness,” a male called. Zelda gulped, refusing to look up.
“Yoro,” Rylan hissed from somewhere several feet away. Zelda hadn’t seen where the Sheikah had gone, but she needed her. Desperately. Her father, his dull, unfocused eyes burned their way into her mind, until they were all she saw as she buried her face in her hands.
“Yoro, you’ve lost! Your troops have fallen or fled!”
Clank, clank, clank.
Zelda glanced up at the sound, doing her best to avoid looking at the throne. A grizzled man clad in full armor beaten and worn down with years approached her protector at a leisurely gait, hardly concerned by words or seconds ticking by. He grinned, first at the Sheikah, then at the princess, and Zelda narrowed her eyes for a moment.
The man tilted his head, then nodded approvingly. “You know who I am, don’t you?” The man scratched at his face, thin and slightly grown in. He looked pale, a bit underweight, but he wore his Hyrulean Royal armor as though it had been made for him. It had been made for him. “Yeah, you do. Think on it. The rest will come.” He looked at Rylan once more and jerked his thumb to the late king. “Look up there and tell me that I have lost. That bastard came first, and then,” he gestured to Zelda with a crooked, steady finger, “her. And you’ve done me a great favor bringing her here. I thank you.”
“And then what?” Rylan shouted, stepping between the man and Zelda. Zelda looked up, wondering if the warrior could truly take this lunatic on. “Will you take the throne?”
“I don’t care what happens to the throne.”
“The Sheikah is right, you know?” All in the room looked wildly around as a new voice echoed through the chamber. Zelda drew herself into as small a ball as she could. She should have moved. She needed to move, to somehow make her way to the bug out door. The symbol of the Triforce grew to a blinding white light on the back of her hand and she gasped. But she was frozen once more, rooted by terror.
Another man appeared as though from thin air. He considered Rylan for a moment, before flicking his wrist. A black and magenta amorphous tendril grew from the shadows themselves, and lashed the warrior into the wall like a ragdoll. She crashed with a sickening groan and fell to the ground, unmoving.
Zelda screamed. The new man then turned to face her. Her mind told her to run, just run! But she couldn’t. She could barely breathe. She could barely feel.
“Don’t worry, Your Highness. I can take care of this…nuscience.”
Yoro hit the wall in front of her. His head smashed. She heard his neck snap like a twig.
“He just could not be patient,” the second man said, almost remorseful, as he bent over the lifeless corpse. “Pity. Not much of a General, but he was a hell of a fighter.”
“Run!” Hylia screamed at her. Her body moved in a burst of energy not her own. She bolted to her feet, heading for the tapestry hanging beneath the lofted throne. Where her father sat. Where her father…
“Not so fast, now,” the man said, and her pathway suddenly became impeded by the very same shadow ichor, some sort of bloody torn viscera of her worst nightmares. She slid to a halt, nearly stumbling back onto her haunches. “You see, while my friend here had no plans for that vacated chair up there, I do. I have been working on this for a very long time. The king, of course, never once saw me coming – and why should he? I was a good little puppet, playing his game. And you fell right where I needed you to. So,” the man grinned, wicked maw splitting, exposing perfect teeth, “Princess Zelda, Descendant of Hylia, it is my greatest pleasure to introduce you once more to an old friend of yours.”
“Oh, my, Morris, you flatter me, hyping me up so much!” A cackle, a gust of wind, a burst of light. Much more stimulation, and Zelda thought she might just snap. Descending the stairs with a proud sashay, he portrayed a sort of elegance that suggested royalty, with a coy smile half hidden behind a swish of snow white hair. He stopped halfway down, and raised his hand with a conspicuous flick to examine his nails. “Of course, it is well deserved, I know. I won’t tell you to stop.” His eyes met her own, violet rimmed and black as the shadows he controlled; Hylia screamed. Zelda felt her own lips part, but the only thing to come out was a feeble wimper.
“You know, Daughter of the Goddesses, I had this whole speech made up long ago, in the Days of the Sky Children. Demon Lord presiding over this land, and whatnot. It was, oh, so stirring. But, I do not believe it to be necessary this time. I feel, if not you, the Goddess inside you recognizes me?” He ran a hand through his hair and winked.
He sighed, dropping his hand in frustration. “Seriously? Have the children of this world been so ignorant as to forget about me?”
“Ugh, fine. I am the Demon Lord who used to preside over this land, this world that your ancestors called the surface. You may call me Ghirahim. In truth, I very much prefer to be indulged with my full title: Lord Ghirahim. But I’m not fussy. And I have waited a long, long time to get my hands on you.” He snapped his fingers.
“Whatever you do…” Hylia’s warning echoed in her head as, for a moment, the two stared at each other, “…don’t give in!”
Before Zelda could say anything, the shadows engulfed her, like rapids that meant to drown. She tried to scream, and they flooded inside her with a mind of their own. She felt them burn beneath her skin and into her lungs, creeping through her entire body, twisting and contorting her, smothering her will back into unconscious oblivion. She could hear that malicious laugh echo around the ivory stone walls of her home, until it split her mouth and forced its way from her lungs. No thoughts came to her now. Claws ripped and tore at her dress and flesh, but she no longer bled.
As her feet touched the ground beneath her, she stared out her own eyes at that blond boy with the Triforce of Courage, sizing him up as he ran into the vaulted room. She wondered, mildly amused, how he had so many times been her downfall. He was weak, shaken, and she could practically taste his fear from where she stood.
She relished it. The Goddess Hylia was hers. He’d soon follow.
“Better late than never, I suppose,” she said with a small laugh. She flicked her wrist and several black tendrils of her malice spawned from the ground to take the boy in her grasp. “Your Triforce will be mine now.”
Featured image by MaskedGolem.