Posted on August 24 2018 by Jarrod Raine
Chapter 20: King of Thieves
Link yawned, watching as the mountains began to surround the group. He breathed a sigh of relief. Hopefully this is where the “giant hole” is. Or we’re just lost. He shook his head. Now’s not the time to worry about that. As soon as we make sure this Ganondorf isn’t as evil as history proves he was, we’ll go right back to finding a new home. Probably.
He looked over to his right, finding Epona staring at him. He stopped Nightshade as Epona slowed her gait. Her eyes glared at him, as though they were saying, “Why are you riding that horse? I’m clearly the superior one.”
Link blinked. “You’re not the one carrying a sleeping princess. If you were, I bet we wouldn’t be having this staring contest.”
Epona whinnied, turning her head, before trotting off ahead toward the mountains.
Link sighed. “Maybe next time, Epona.”
“Are we there yet? I don’t think taking to your horse is healthy…”
Link looked down, seeing Zelda raise her arms to stretch. “We’re in a desert entering the highlands with nobody else to talk to and nothing else really to do. And she was glaring at me. And no, I don’t think we’re there yet.” It couldn’t have been that long since Kara Kara. “You really should go back to sleep, Your Highness.”
Zelda shook her head. “Not when we’re potentially so close to finding him. Though I must ask: Why are we going through the mountains?”
Link sighed. “This mountain range is bound to have a lot of caves that could satisfy Deya’s description of a ‘giant hole.’ If anything, the hole is likely a hidden cave. I don’t think we’re close to finding him outside of a miracle at the current time though.” Though, we have had a few recently. “Until then though, you should go back to sleep and get a proper rest.”
He knew his tone was imperative. He knew exactly who he was trying to give orders to. But he didn’t care. She needs to sleep and be in a proper mood so that our interaction with the man who saved us doesn’t turn sour.
She turned around to lock eyes with him, almost as a challenge of authority. At first, he almost relented, though he stared back. A few tense seconds passed before he heard Epona whinny again. Sighing, he relented the staring contest and looked over. Epona stood in an alcove, looking at Link before laying down in the sand.
“Looks like the decision has been taken from us. We’re going to camp here.” Thanks, Epona. He carefully got off Nightshade and offered to help Zelda do the same. She took his hand, and he carefully lowered her to the sand. She smiled at him sleepily, squeezing his fingers in her own. He returned the gesture before dropping her hand and nodding over her shoulder. “I’ll scout around to see if I can find any leads. In the meantime though, rest up. You only slept for an hour or two at best and it’s not healthy for-”
He paused. Something caught his eye as he glanced behind Zelda, Epona, and Nightshade, though, he was not sure if his sight played tricks.
No. No they did not. There was a small gap in the rock wall that formed the alcove Epona had made her bed, just wide enough for one person to fit through. Is this what I think it is?
“It’s not healthy for what?” Zelda glared at him, watching as Link went around her and the horses to the wall. “Hey, where are you going? What’s it not healthy for?” She paused as well, watching Link glance through the gap. “Is that a lead?”
He nodded. “I think so, actually.” He turned to his side, sliding through the gap slowly but surely. It was about ten feet between the point where he entered and where he could see the exit. “Let me see what’s on the other side first.” Though he had some trouble with his gear, he just barely managed to squeeze through the gap.
He found himself inside a clearing, with a very clear view of the starlit night sky. He smiled. It was a tranquil area, one he could relax in if there was a nice lake to fish in. Turning his gaze from the sky, he looked in front of him to see a small cliff, though his eyes widened as he saw what was just beyond that.
“A giant hole.”
“Giant” was an understatement. A more accurate description of the hole would have been “gargantuan.” And in front of it, he spotted a familiar figure in the night’s light, carefully considered several scattered and shapeless black ruins in the sand before him. The two made eye contact, and Deya brightened.
“Your Highness,” Link called back through the gap, “I think we found it!”
Ganondorf Dragmire brushed a grain of sand off his shoulder, then crossed his arms once more and leaned against the darkened doorway, waiting. He knew this was a bad idea, meeting the Descendent of Hylia so…abruptly. He may not have known Princess Zelda personally, but as a young Gerudo Lord, years before he bolted – exiled himself – from his coming duties, they ran in similar circles, so to speak. He had only seen her a couple times, before she was old enough to remember him, hanging off the arm of the late Queen of Hyrule during peace-seeking missions between their peoples. She always seemed so boisterous and unabashed, loudly speaking her curiosities about this new exotic culture. At the time, he thought her precious, albeit a bit rambunctious for a princess. But as they both grew older and he prepared to take the Desert Throne, rumors began to circulate that she believed herself of divine blood.
“She’s never been the same since Her Majesty died. We think she’s off her horse.”
Oh, no. She’s not crazy at all. She’s actually perfectly sane, and absolutely correct.
And that is exactly why she’s not going to like meeting me today.
He sighed and watched Zelda’s descent into the ancient facility ruins on the back of the red Rito. Maybe she did not know who he was? Even if she did, would she see the absence of his Triforce? Would she care to hear the steps he had taken to avoid repeating his past? Years, he had roamed Hyrule as a nomad, a simple man without a name, hiding in the shadows beneath the hood of his cloak. He never wanted to be what destiny had made him in the past. He was King of his own life.
Where is my cloak? He chewed his nail for a moment. Right. In the Lizalfos room. The beast had met quite an end, and Ganondorf had repurposed the room as his camp for the short time he intended on being here. The cloak lie folded at the foot of his bedroll. He suddenly felt a bit exposed without it, but he had hidden in the shadows long enough.
Besides, darkness loomed on the horizon, and if any chance of stopping it existed, he knew he’d need the aid of both the Princess and her Knight.
I wonder if Link knows who he is… He felt almost more nervous to meet the knight.
“Ganondorf?” Deya’s voice echoed off the stone walls of the pit. Ganondorf cringed and growled, looking back at the now-landed parade. The kid stared right at him, eyes alight in horror, hand over his mouth.
The Gerudo shook his head. You had one job, kid. He noticed Zelda freeze, fists balled up at her thighs. She looked to be the spitting image of her mother, even in the low light of night. Just as the Queen had looked so slight in frame, yet massive in presence, with bright, glittering eyes, so, too, did her daughter. Yet Ganondorf could immediately see Zelda’s presence spawned from unbridled emotions, and right now, it was fury and fear that filled the room. She met his gaze, and he held her there, waiting to see what she would say.
But it was neither of them that moved first.
“Zelda,” a young, blond Hylian knight stepped up behind the princess and leaned forward to whisper in her ear. Ganondorf recognized him immediately: the fallen boy from Ordon, whom Zelda had asked him to safely transport to Castle Town.
The Hero of Legend. His own personal downfall.
Ganondorf’s stomach flopped, and his hand immediately reached to the bow slung across his back, just to make sure it was there.
Link. We meet again.
I need your help.
He hefted himself from the wall and stepped out of the doorway before his stomach let loose his dinner on the floor. His hand went to his bow again; Link immediately dropped into a defensive stance, putting himself between Ganondorf and the princess, but the response was not needed. All that happened was the Rito bow pulled away, flew a couple feet, and landed before the knight, along with a knife and twin gold-hilted scimitars.
“You see I have stripped myself of arms,” Ganondorf began, raising his empty hands in submission. “I seek not to harm, but to talk.”
“Show me the back of your hand,” the princess demanded, her voice quivering only slightly. She cleared her throat and steeled herself, stepping forward. “Beneath your gauntlet.”
Ganondorf nodded, understanding immediately. Well, that answers at least one question. He carefully removed his right gauntlet and tossed it into the pile, raising his bare hand.
“Come closer,” she demanded. He obliged, stepping into a beam of moonlight. She looked up – he was much taller than her, and he found himself a bit surprised. She was even shorter than he remembered her mother being; certainly shorter than he expected. He lowered his hand to be closer to her.
“You do not have it?”
“I do not.”
“Have you ever?”
He took a deep breath. “Yes.”
Silence fell between them, and he suddenly realized he was a bit unnerved by her. Did she believe him? He did not know how he could even prove himself – and her doubt would be perfectly warranted, of course – but, more importantly, how would he even begin to convince her that someone else threatened Hyrule this time?
Since he became old enough to understand, he knew the weight his name bore. The first story he remembered reading had been the tale of the Hero of Time, and the first record of the name “Ganondorf.”
“He was the King of Thieves,” his sister had told him, “and he turned this land black beneath his evil.”
“But I am not evil. Why would I be named after such a horrible person?”
She had not told him that night. In fact, she would never tell him, not completely, anyway. “When you’re older, maybe you will learn.” “You are not that man. Do not let your name dictate who you are.” “I promise, someday, you will write your own history.” But never would she truly explain. She’d die in battle before she could, fighting in the brief and bloody war between the Hylians and Gerudo that stained the first several years of his life. And by the time he did learn who he truly was, he had already sworn to her memory that he would never, ever, ever be like that man of legend, for he had seen what darkness could truly do.
But how did he explain that to the Goddess Hylia herself?
“Prove it,” Zelda demanded with narrowed eyes.
“I have already done your bidding to save the only man to ever defeat me,” Ganondorf nodded to Link. The knight stood, stoic and loyal, next to his keep, but he noticed a curt nod and interpreted it as unspoken gratitude. Zelda did not look behind her, and did not see it. Ganondorf returned the subtle gesture and continued. “I am unarmed, and lay all my weapons and defenses at your feet. I do not possess the Triforce of Power, by my own choice, nor do I seek to regain it. But I do seek your peace, for you are correct that something is coming for Hyrule. Tell me, Your Highness, how do I show you I am not the man of my past?”
“The Demon King was a snake in the grass, lying in wait for the right moment. He weakened the sanctity of Hyrule by words.”
“You do not trust me, and I do not blame you.”
“Your Highness,” Deya’s voice cut in. Ganondorf had almost forgotten the Sheikah was there. Clearly, Zelda had, too. She slowly turned and glared at him. Discreetly, Link reached out and took her arm: he either sought to calm her down or hold her back. Either way, it didn’t work. She burned two angry holes into the poor kid, and he stuttered and stumbled over his own thought. “P-pardon my interruption, but- but I think he is…he is good. He s-s-saved us in Ord-don, and-”
“Thank you for your thoughts on this matter, Deya, and thank you for fulfilling your duty to the crown, but this is an issue you lack the knowledge to understand. You are dismissed.”
Deya gaped, mouth open like a gasping fish. Even Ganondorf could not stop his own thoughts from a very shocked, Well, then…
“That means leave, Deya.”
The red Rito came up, head bowed, and tugged Deya’s hand back until he snapped out of it and the two scampered out of the room, her avian talons scratching against the stone floor.
Ganondorf’s noble upbringing almost called the princess out for her brash attitude, but his reasonable mind reminded him that now was not the time if he truly sought her cooperation. Perhaps Link could talk to her; they seemed to have a relatively close relationship. Still, he couldn’t help but feel a bit appalled.
Again, not the time.
“You know of your past, then?” Zelda continued once the scraping of footsteps had faded.
“I am the reincarnation of Ganondorf Dragmire, and all his iterations. In my past lives, I have been responsible for the shattering of the Triforce, the awakening of evil, the conquering of Light by Twilight, and the downfall of Hyrule. Amongst many other crimes spoken of throughout recorded history.”
“Then tell me why I should believe you, when all you have given me is devastation.”
“Because my past will never be my present. I shed the Triforce of Power, which I was born with, and exiled myself from my own people, because that will never be me. I remember the war we fought, Hylians and Gerudo, and I watched my mother and sister leave our home one day, never to return. I know what devastation looks like.”
His heart panged with the memory, now so old, it resonated as a scar upon his chest. He remembered demanding to see his sister’s scimitar, to ensure it was properly sharpened. She presented it to him with a knowing grin, carefully placing his small hands around the hilt and bracing them so he could properly see the blade. He had barely known what to look for, but it sparkled and glimmered flawlessly in the sunlight, and he thought that was good enough.
That very blade came back to him, polished clean, as though nothing had happened. Its owner never would, though, and now it lay at the feet of a very angry Goddess Incarnate.
And she could only glare at him. He had known this would be a bad idea, meeting Princess Zelda like this. He had said it would be. But, when would have been better? He couldn’t fight this battle alone any longer. Whatever was coming, it was coming fast, and he could not hold it at bay any longer.
He was desperate, and her stubborn desire to protect her land from him would be its downfall if he didn’t get through.
“I know how I can prove it to you.” The words were out of his mouth before he even thought about them. She blinked, clearly just as taken aback as he was.
I do? “Yes.”
But he knew he had to, to face once more the demons inside himself. To hear the voices speak to him from the spirit realm, and listen as they taunted him for his past sins.
He had to take Zelda and Link to that grove.
Ganondorf sighed, running his hand down his face. “Tell me, Princess. What do you know of the Master Sword?”
Featured image by MaskedGolem.