Posted on May 14 2021 by Michaela El-Ters
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As the island slowly comes into focus, it becomes more apparent that the large, sheer cliff sides Aryll saw before overlook two small islands. Through the telescope, she can even pick out what looks like a small shack with a wisp of smoke coming out of the chimney. She thought she might see some wreckage but knew it was wishful thinking.
Loot rummages through a chest in the pilot house while Skett and Akoot flank Komali as he leans over the edge of the railing. Aryll cleans the lens of her telescope with her bandana before tying it around her neck. Please, goddesses, keep my brother safe a bit longer, she prays.
“We’re lucky someone’s living here,” Loot calls from within the pilot house. “I’ve heard a lot of islands south of the Great Sea are teemin’ with monsters.”
“Hopefully, they’ll be able to help us,” Komali replies. He turns to Skett and Akoot, “Some of us should stay on the boat, though, just in case. Would you mind keeping an eye on it until we get back?”
“And leave you alone, sire? No, I think not,” Skett says sternly. “Do you agree, Akoot?”
“Yes, Skett, I do. It would be most unwise for us to leave our post. Wherever you go, Prince Komali, we will follow.”
Komali shrugs and sighs good-naturedly, “Very well.”
Aryll inspects the Forest Firefly in the bottle. A gift from brother, she thinks. He left it with me for a reason, but why? During their travels, Aryll had hoped that the Firefly would do something. Anything. But every time she removed the bottle from her pocket, it continued to pulsate, its swirling colors unchanging.
Aryll sighs and tucks it back into her pocket. Loot clears his throat, and it startles her. “Oh, sorry, I didn’t see you there,” Aryll says, finally noticing what he’s holding. He’s gripping a steel-flanged mace. It has a short handle painted black and decorated with a skull on the tip.
“I dug this out of storage before we sailed back to Outset,” Loot explains. “These seas are dangerous, and I don’t like that we haven’t seen a single monster since we began this adventure. I’ve been sailing for years, and I’ve never seen anything like that.” Aryll follows his gaze towards the ocean before he finishes, “Anyway, I want to make sure you have a weapon to protect yourself.”
“I thought it was weird, too,” Aryll says and rests her hands on her hips. “But you don’t have to worry about me! I’ve been practicing fighting with Orca ever since I was kidnapped.”
“Orca’s one of the best warriors I’ve ever met, so you’re in good hands,” Loot replies. “But still. I brought enough weapons for all of us. You should hang on to it, just in case.”
The mace is surprisingly light when she takes it from him. She does a few practice swings and grins. “It’s a perfect fit, Loot! Thank you.”
She hangs it on her belt and joins Komali next to the railing. As soon as they reach the dock and anchor, Aryll jumps off the boat at the first chance she gets and sinks her toes into the sand.
“Land, at last!” Aryll laughs and twirls along the shore. She breathes a sigh of relief and looks up, giggling as the seagulls cry and circle overhead. “I like sailing, but nothing beats a sandy beach.”
“I agree. Well, I prefer flying, myself,” Komali rests a hand on his hip.
For a moment, Aryll almost forgets they’re at a new place and takes a few moments to observe their surroundings. Both of the islands are overgrown with bright green weeds and shrubs, with a few palm trees dotting the beach. These two small islands are connected by a rickety bridge leading up to the home she saw before. On closer inspection, the shack she saw before is a humble home with a thatched roof.
“Okay, let’s go!” Aryll says enthusiastically.
The bridge sways and creaks beneath them as they slowly make their way across. It looks like it’s been repaired a lot over the years, Aryll observes as she carefully steps from one plank to the next.
As soon as they cross the bridge, a tan bearded man waves them down and calls, “Well, what a surprise! Welcome to Bannan Island.” The man is dressed in a bright red shirt and straw hat. He scuffs the porch with his sandal, and with a toothy grin, continues, “It’s been quite some time since I’ve had any visitors. What brings you here?”
“We’re looking for someone,” Aryll says loudly before turning back to Komali. “He looks friendly, right?”
Komali looks back at the man and raises his eyebrows slightly, but he whispers, “We trust you. We’ve got your back.”
With Komali’s vote of confidence, Aryll strides forward and climbs the steps to the porch. She smooths out Tetra’s letter and hands it to the man before saying, “I’m looking for my brother, actually. He was sailing southward with some other…sailors and was shipwrecked. Have you heard anything about any recent shipwrecks?”
“Well, it’s like I said, it’s been a while since I’ve had any visitors,” the man takes the letter and scratches his head. “Come on in.”
Aryll is surprised by how colorful and strange the inside of the man’s house is — decorated with exotic rugs and large paintings on the wall. She can’t tell if it’s a statue propped against the wall, but she’s impressed at how large it is. In the corner is a portrait of a woman and young boy covered in a layer of dust. Is that his family? Aryll wonders.
“Just me, nowadays,” the man muses aloud as he flips off his sandals and pours himself a glass of coconut milk. He studies the letter and sips the milk from the glass.
“What did you say your name was?” Komali enters the house and crosses his arms.
“Don’t have one anymore. Call me the Old Wayfarer,” he replies as he studies the letter. He shakes his head and turns back to Aryll. “When did you say you got this?”
“About seven days ago,” Aryll replies, wringing her hands together.
Old Wayfarer risks and replies. “I can tell you this. If your brother and his friends were shipwrecked in these waters, that’s a dangerous way to be.”
“It…is?” Aryll utters softly.
“Well, a ship doesn’t just get wrecked by a storm or Big Octo. Not in the Ocean King’s domain. If your friends were shipwrecked around here as the letter suggests…I believe the Ghost Ship is responsible.”
The Ghost Ship? It’s not just a legend? Aryll’s thoughts race, and her heart pounds in her chest.
“I’ve been studying the stories of the Ghost Ship for a long time. It’s known to cause maritime accidents and claim lost souls at sea,” The Old Wayfarer unrolls a large map onto the floor. He points at the north-western quadrant and continues, “We’re here, and it haunts the seas south of here. We’ve lost a lot of sailors to the fog and the Ghost Ship over the years.”
“So…if the Ghost Ship really is to blame, how do we find them?” Komali asks.
“If you want to find them, you stay away from here,” The Old Wayfarer prods the map as he emphasizes his words. “I’ve spent years trying to find the Ghost Ship, understand it. I’m no closer to figuring it out. I’m…not sure where your friends might have ended up. It could be any one of these isles. But if I had to guess, I would start with Mercay. It’s not inhabited anymore, but…maybe someone there can help.”
“Thank you for your help,” Aryll bows and hands him a red Rupee.
As they step out of the home, Komali lowers his voice, “Well, I’m not thrilled to hear that most of what the Old Wayfarer had to say involved the Ghost Ship. But at least we have an idea of where we can search next?”
“Yeah,” Aryll nods.
Aryll shows Loot the coordinates based on the star chart they had been developing back on the ship. Sailing into uncharted waters meant they had to create a map on their own based on the constellations.
“Based on what the Old Wayfarer says, we should get there in a few days or so, as long as we avoid these coordinates and go around,” Aryll explains as she points to the map.
“Did he say anything else?” Loot asks.
“About that…um, there might be a G-Ghost Ship? Haunting the ocean?” Aryll stutters.
Loot frowns and stares at the map, “So they’ve got it all the way down here, too, huh? That ain’t good.”
“He said…he said it preys on lost souls at sea. Do you think…?”
“There’s no way the Hero of Winds would fall to the Ghost Ship!” Loot loudly proclaims, startling Skett and Akoot. He lowers his voice and finishes, “No way. Don’t worry, Aryll. We’ll find him.”
As sunset falls, its descent casts an orange hue over the waves. The seagulls circle the paddle steamer, gliding along with the gentle breeze. After days of fervently scanning the seas for any sign of a ship or island, Komali finally convinced Aryll to relax, and now they’re sitting on the deck playing a game of Squid Hunt.
The board game became increasingly popular over the years through the trade route, and she even got Sue-Belle to play it once with her. I wish I could have shared this game with Brother. He would have loved it, she thinks.
Aryll adjusts her pigtails and waits anxiously for Komali to finish his turn. He’s rubbing his chin and carefully considering his options, mumbling to himself. He finally settles on a coordinate in the middle.
“Splish!” Aryll giggles in spite of herself.
“Ugh, I lost again!” Komali shakes his head and laughs. “I really stink at this game.”
“So did I, but playing with Sturgeon really helps,” Aryll says. She smiles mischievously and teases, “Want to play another round? Beat your losing streak?”
Komali chuckles, “I think I need a break.”
Aryll leans back and watches the seagulls fly above her. Still no clouds, she notices. Aryll starts to pack up the board game and remembers her earlier conversation with Komali. She perks up and asks, “Hey, what did you mean before, about not being a good leader?”
Komali thinks for a moment and replies, “Well…lately I’ve been afraid that I won’t live up to my father’s successes. He’s so powerful and well-respected, and I…When I was young, I always relied on my grandmother and Medli. I thought they would always be by my side. But my grandmother passed away, and then…”
His expression falls, and his normally bright red eyes dim. After a moment, he shakes his head and continues, “When my father announced he would be passing the mantle to me so soon, I got scared. I thought I could run away from my responsibilities, but…I think I was just making excuses. Afraid to be alone. Some future Chieftain I am, huh?”
“I understand not wanting to be alone,” Aryll replies sympathetically. “I don’t think that makes you a bad leader. It makes you someone who cares, you know?”
Komali smiles more to himself than her, “Yeah, I suppose so.”
They sit and listen to the sound of the waves against the paddle steamer as the sky darkens. Loot lights the torches on the pilot house. Aryll lights a torch and holds it out at the bow, squinting into the darkness. The stars fade, leaving only the light of the moon as their guide.
It’s quiet… Aryll tilts her head. Too quiet. She looks up, expecting to see her seagull friends from before. But they’re nowhere to be found. She doesn’t realize there’s fog until it completely enshrouds the boat. It’s so thick and heavy that she can barely see Komali standing just a few feet from her.
This isn’t normal fog! This is… Aryll’s thoughts race as a chill runs down her spine, and the hair on her arms stands on end. A ghostly laugh echoes around them, and in front of the paddle steamer, the silhouette of a ship pierces through the fog.
Komali snatches a torch from the pilot house and leans over the edge of the railing. “I thought we were outside the coordinates, what’s it doing here?!”
Aryll’s breath becomes shaky as the skull adorning the bow is illuminated in the light of the torch. The bow of the Ghost Ship collides with the front of the paddle steamer, and the impact violently shakes the boat.
Loot brandishes an ax and joins them on the hull. “Keep your eyes open!” he says sternly as he pulls Aryll away from the bow. It’s the urgency and tone of his voice that snaps Aryll back to her senses. She grips her mace in one hand, torch in the other, and focuses on taking deep, slow breaths. Remember what Orca taught you.
For a moment, Aryll can only hear her heart pounding in her ears and the flickering flames of her torch before an ear-piercing shriek fills the air. From the bow of the Ghost Ship, Bokoblins jump onto the deck of the paddle steamer, their green eyes glowing as their pupils dilate.
Remembering that the Bokoblins are afraid of fire, Aryll waves her torch at the first one that approaches her. It stumbles away from it, but another Bokoblin disarms her with its trident. Acting purely on instinct, she clutches the mace with both hands and swings as hard as she can. The Bokoblin screeches and recoils in pain, dropping its trident. It darts away for a moment, watching her with its piercing gaze.
After a moment, it snatches its trident off the deck and lunges at her again. Aryll aims a kick squarely at its torso, knocking the wind out of it. Before it can get up, Komali flash kicks it overboard, using his outstretched wings to propel him forward. She mouths a ‘thank you’ and nods, and he nods in reply.
“Don’t let them overtake us! Knock them off or take them out!” Loot’s booming voice commands as he slams his ax down onto a Bokoblin. The impact causes its body to dissipate into a cloud of black and purple smoke.
“Understood!” Komali shouts, using his wings to deftly dodge the Bokoblin’s jabs and countering with forceful punches and strikes from his torch. The gusts of wind that are generated from his wings temporarily dissipate the fog around them. Aryll briefly sees Skett and Akoot take flight, followed by the sounds of screaming Bokoblins hitting the water.
Aryll loses count of how many Bokoblins she’s fighting and almost doesn’t notice that their numbers have finally dwindled. By the time the last Bokoblin disappears into smoke, she’s desperately trying to catch her breath and the flame from her torches has dwindled. Loot wipes the sweat from his brow and leans on his ax. Komali has keeled forward with his hands on his knees, wheezing as Skett and Akoot land next to him.
We can’t take much more of this, Aryll thinks.
“Look!” Skett points towards the bow of the Ghost Ship.
Four ghosts float above the Ghost Ship, swaying and giggling to themselves. Their hoods and clothes are tattered and their bow ties are stained. “Welcome,” their cacophonous voices echo all around them. “We are the Cubus Sisters, and we are so grateful for you to join us.”
“What…what do you mean?” Aryll says, trying hard to keep her voice strong.
“You’re lost,” the red Cubus Sister says, her ethereal form changing to resemble a young, human girl. “We were lost, too. Let us help you.”
“We can ease your pain,” the green Cubus Sister continues appearing next to her. Aryll takes a few steps back as the Cubus Sister conjures a familiar parchment in her hand.
Tetra’s letter! Aryll lunges to try and snatch the letter away from the Cubus Sister, but she disappears, reappearing alongside her ethereal sisters above the Ghost Ship.
“Give it back!” Aryll shouts desperately, clutching the mace tightly.
The green Cubus Sister tilts her head and waggles her finger disapprovingly. “Isn’t that why you accepted our letter?”
“Yes,” the purple Cubus Sister hisses. “We could feel your loneliness and pain and it called to us. We love a delicious, tormented soul!
The yellow Cubus Sister floats in front of Aryll giggles tauntingly, “So we lured you here! Hee hee!”
Tetra…didn’t send the letter? Brother wasn’t in trouble after all…? Why did I come all this way, then? What for? Aryll’s mind races.
“Don’t believe them, Aryll! They’re trying to trick you!” Komali’s voice shouts, but she can barely hear him now.
The Cubus Sisters surround Aryll, their ghostly appendages swirling and cacophonous voices drowning out her thoughts. Overwhelmed, Aryll drops the mace and falls to her knees. She covers her face with her hands and sobs.
The Ghost Ship…goes after lost souls…like me.
Featured art: Michaela El-Ters
Michaela El-Ters is an Associate Editor for Zelda Dungeon. Her first foray into fan fiction, this story was inspired by her love for The Wind Waker and the surprising amount of tragedy that permeates the game’s narrative and characters. When she isn’t writing or blogging, Michaela loves to watch movies and anime, read books, and cuddle her doggo. To read more of her content, check out her blog here.