Posted on May 11 2018 by Jarrod Raine
Chapter 5: The Mark of a Hero
Deya struggled to maintain a steady head as his mind melted in a state of stress and panic. His world was burning – literally. Forget the attack on Ordon village the previous night; this attack was the real deal. His nose burned with the intense heat of the holocaust that was consuming the home he had known for only a few months, and the smells of smoke, of blood, of total destruction.
As he struggled to keep his mind straight, the blacksmith thought to lay out a large piece of cloth to put stuff on, planning to make a bundle of the things he needed while fleeing the chaos. Both he and Deya began to pile things onto the cloth, running around the smithy, shouting to each over the sound of the flames.
“Master, should I pack these order receipts?”
“Nay, lad! If Ordon survives, we can return for those. If not, then we won’t have much need of them anyhow! Have ye grabbed any food yet?”
“I’ll pack a few loaves of bread! Oh, and my electrical charges!”
Deya could barely focus on what was actually happening. His mind seemed to be attempting to contemplate everything at once, without actually being able to settle on one single focus. There were a few things that he was sure of, however. He was terrified for his own life, for the lives of the friends he had made there, for the life of the Princess, for his own future. He was sore, having been burnt by the flames that were drawing ever-nearer and hit by a few pieces of falling debris. He was tired after very little sleep the night before, because of the first attack. He was pretty much running primarily on adrenaline at this point. Everything else in his mind was a chaotic spiraling mess.
“Deya, we must be heading off now, or we might not be able to make it out!” his master called from one of the rooms in smithy.
“Yes, sir!” Deya responded. He grabbed the halberd he had made for himself. He looked it at for a moment, thinking about how he had planned to make his first electrical weapon prototype out of it, hoping he would still get a chance to do so at some point. He then ran back to the main room where the blacksmith was tying the pile into a bundle.
The blacksmith looked up at Deya. “We must be off! Are ye finished?”
“Good! Hurry now, before –”
The blacksmith’s face, which had been red from the heat, turned pale. “They’re here.”
Deya, trembling, turned around, seeing exactly that which he had been hoping to avoid. Standing behind him was a massive figure in black armor, carrying a jagged sword that was still red from his last victim. It somehow smelt like death itself.
Deya tightened his grip on his halberd and altered his stance, preparing for a fight. The blacksmith put his hand on Deya’s shoulder and whispered into his ear. “Nay, lad; you’re not ready. He’s too strong. Let’s head out the back way.”
“I’ve been training for a reason,” shot back Deya. “And he’s been one of the main forces in this attack. He has to be stopped; I can take him.”
Deya looked back at the being. “You must leave here, creature of darkness!”
The being seemed to stare him down for a moment. Suddenly, his sword was swinging directly towards Deya. Deya jumped backwards to dodge, then crouched and darted forward, hoping to jab at what appeared to be a weak point in the being’s armor. Before he could, his foot slipped, and he fell to the side, missing his thrust with the halberd. As he stumbled, he felt warm air hit him from above as the sword swung over him once more. This time, however, he heard a terrible sound behind him that made his heart sink. He sat up and turned to look behind him. His eyes widened, his jaw dropped, and his stomach flipped at the sight. He looked back at the armored figure as it began to step towards him. Deya looked back at the bundle that lay next what remained of his master. Taking one last look at the creature that had murdered his mentor and friend, he shot forward, grabbed the bundle, and darted out the back of the smithy as hot tears began to stream down his face. Where he ran to, he didn’t know. He just knew that he had to get away, both from the danger, and from the site of his worst mistake.
This…this can’t…! Zelda’s mind tried its hardest to focus, but she just could not comprehend. The flames had returned. The chaos, the screams, the fear that kept her rooted…her nightmare had come back, and she stared as the world around her burned once more. Wake up, she told herself, screwing her eyes tight. Wake up, wake up! She could feel heat on the back of her neck, and begged to Hylia to just make it all stop, please! Let me wake up! I cannot dream this once more!
“Open your eyes…!” Hylia’s voice echoed from within her, distant, yet with an alarm that made her tremble, for what could frighten a deity? Her eyes flew open, but the nightmare continued. The Golden Goddess stood before her, mouthing, but no more words could be understood.
“What do you want?!” she tried to scream, but her voice came out weak and choked. Black smoke filled her lungs and she coughed. In an instant, like an answer so malicious, Hylia’s face deformed and twisted, smiling wickedly, golden eyes turning jet black. And then it was gone, replaced by the welcome face of her advisor.
“What are you doing?!” Impa demanded, shaking her roughly by the shoulders.
Zelda gasped. The flames are real… She could see them over the stands and feel them at her back as what had once been her observation platform crumbled and burned, sending ashes and embers into the clouds above. The screams were real, too, coming from the Ordonians as they ran for their lives before swarms of dark, monstrous beasts. Her nightmare was no longer in her head.
Impa grabbed a ceremonial rapier out of the desperate clutches of her hand: the rapier she had been using to knight Link, that blond boy from last night. She had forgotten she was holding it. He was nowhere to be seen. “Focus, use your magic!”
“I…!” Zelda whimpered, shaking violently. “I can’t!”
Impa took her shoulders once more, this time a little softer, and locked their gazes. “Yes, you can. You must, Zelda. I will be right behind you.”
Zelda couldn’t speak. She could barely move for the fear that had overcome her, turning her legs to stone and ripping her speeding heart from her chest. She wanted to run, she wanted to fly. Somewhere, in the back of her mind, she clung to broken remnants of hope that she could still wake up. She reached out to take her advisor’s hands, but before she could, Impa shoved her roughly from her frozen spot, and she stumbled forward.
She raised her hands and stared at them, scabbed and blistered, and did her best to summon the power within her blood. Her Triforce glowed with a faint white light. It wasn’t much, but it would have to do. She looked up in time to see a beast twice her height with an elongated black snout and lolling purple tongue charging her, rearing back with a massive club of bones. She screamed and held out her hands. The pathetic blast of light magic that issued forward hit the ground several feet in front of the creature, spraying dirt. She tried to focus another shot, but her shaking hands sent it wide and behind.
She froze. And then, she ran straight forward, blindly firing weak blasts into the ground, hoping to hit the creature’s feet. Dirt rained down upon her with every failed shot, until finally one landed true as she brushed past the beast. It roared and launched back, and she kept running until she heard Impa behind her take its final breath.
She stumbled to a stop and spun wildly around, attempting to reorient herself. To her right, Impa had already engaged another creature like the first. All around, knights and guards battled enemies she had never seen, but they were outnumbered and quickly falling. They could not win this fight. And still the flames grew closer.
To her left, she watched in horror as another creature, this one with the face of a wild pig and gnashing teeth, ran at a woman and a young boy. The boy clung to the woman’s back as she knelt before the approaching beast.
She can’t move, Zelda realized. Her leg is broken. She took aim, hands glowing a little brighter, and fired off a blast. It missed. She fired another, missing again. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and let the air out in a slow, steady hiss.
“Now!” Hylia told her. She opened her eyes and fired off the greatest blast of magic she had ever formed. The light collided with the creature as it raised a blood-smeared blade meant to sever the woman’s head from her neck. The creature disintegrated with a cry of agony, leaving behind nothing but the weapon. Zelda charged forward to kneel in front of the woman and child.
“Knight! Knight!” she called. Nearby, one of the contestants she had eliminated fairly early caught sight and ran over. Crimson streamed down his face from a gash in his forehead. “Get them out of here, now!” Her voice betrayed her. She shuddered and took a quick moment to compose herself before pointing to a nearby break in the flames.
“Yes, Your Highness!” He picked up the woman and cradled her as he and the boy took off. Zelda wished them well, watching as the fire closed behind them.
You need to keep going, she told herself, heading off another wave of panic. You need to get everyone out. Her fists balled up, Triforce glowing a little brighter. Don’t stop now. She paused for a second longer, then went to stand. From nearby, the distinct clunking of armor approached. A massive figure, clad in dark plate, was coming towards her, slow, steady, and positively terrifying. She turned to face it and raised her hands. Mustering up more magic, she fired another shot.
The figure blocked it. She fired again, aiming square for its head. Blocked. Each shot the figure deflected with ease, as though they were simply pests to be swatted away. Step by step, it moved forward, until it loomed over her. She fell back onto her haunches, trapped between it and the fire. It drew a broadsword, pointed right at her.
“Farewell, Your Highness,” the figure’s voice boomed, words echoing into the sky, taking with them the very last of her courage. Her light flickered out, and the figure laughed. The end was here. This was it. This would be where she died, cowering, too scared to move. She covered her face with her useless hands. The figure’s armor spoke for its attack: she could hear the sword slicing through the air, and braced for the strike and the pain.
She opened her eyes. There he stood, exhausted and shaking from the strain, blocking the attack with a wooden shield and what strength he had left. Link, her chosen knight.
Link gritted his teeth at the impact. His arms still felt sore from his last competition, but he couldn’t let a single attack make it through him. Rusl had already evacuated with Kaden. He knew it was just the Princess left. “Don’t worry, Your Highness.. I’ll get you out of here!” He also knew he was lying. He could barely muster the strength to block the attack.
But he didn’t have a choice.
The armored assailant proceeded to make consecutive attacks, hitting Link’s shield each time, not giving a single moment for Link to counter with his sword. He’s purposely wearing me down. Link could feel every hit almost push him over. His legs felt like chu jelly, his arm as though it could break at any moment, but still, he stood his ground. Finally, the figure changed the direction of his attacks and aimed for Link’s left side. Link just barely had enough time to move his shield.
As the hit connected, his legs gave out and the shield snapped, the impact knocking him over several feet, much further than his opponent in the ceremony previously did. He nearly screamed in pain and clutched his arm, dropping his sword.
“You have heart, kid. But you aren’t a hero.”
Link looked over, watching as time practically slowed down. The figure stood over Zelda, readying the same attack he blocked earlier. He saw the terror in her eyes and that was all he needed. Despite his injuries, his body moved on its own, grabbing the sword once more and rushing towards his foe. He didn’t care what happened to him. Using one last burst of strength, Link swung his sword from his left up to his right to parry the broadsword, and a yellow light burst from the back of his right hand.
The foe stumbled back as his sword was knocked from his hand, the sudden light almost blinding him. As Link finished his swing, the light focused, and the mark became clear. The mark of the Triforce, the very same mark Princess Zelda held. Realizing what the glow was from, the figure muttered, “So he’s the oth-”
Boom. He didn’t have time to finish. A small explosion erupted in front of him, pushing him back from Link. The air grew silent before an arrow pierced through the air once again, causing another small explosion that knocked the assailant down. Link looked at where the arrow came from, seeing a cloaked figure with an elegantly curved bow. Another arrow, sparking at the tip, was prepped to fire. He fired a few more arrows around the assailant, pushing him further back.
Link turned back to the assailant, holding his sword out defensively. There was only one thought on his mind, echoing through his entire being. Protect the princess. The assailant looked at Link, before ordering a fallback. As the enemy troops retreated from the village, the light from Link’s Triforce faded with what little energy he had left. His arms fell limp, dropping the sword.
He turned his head to glance at Zelda. “Don’t worry…” His legs began to give out once again. “You’re…” He could feel his consciousness slipping away with each moment. But he knew his job today was done. The princess, his brother, the whole village. They were all safe now. “Safe…”
He collapsed on the ground, alive, but injured and unconscious.
Featured Image by MaskedGolem