The sun had just started to set. It had been a beautiful day, spent with Zelda and the other champions. We often fell into a comfortable silence but Daruk tried his best to keep us talking. In the periods of silence, I admired the clouds in the sky, the sounds of birds chirping, and the gentle breeze. Everything was so peaceful. Eventually, we had all accompanied the princess through the Lanayru Promenade, so that she and Link could make their way to the Spring of Wisdom. I only hoped that Zelda was having success; today was her birthday after all.
Upon their return, I knew that something was the matter. Zelda’s face was covered in disappointment and Link’s face only mirrored it. Daruk urged Zelda to speak and we soon learned that her efforts were fruitless once again. Urbosa tried to encourage Zelda, but even so, her face was still solemn. I wanted to offer my help too, as little as it might be.
“If I may….well, I’m not sure how to put this into words,” I began, as Zelda glanced up at me. “I’m actually quite embarrassed to say it, but I was thinking about what I do when I’m healing. You know, what usually goes through my mind.” I could feel my voice starting to break from feeling embarrassed, but I was ready to say it. “It helps when I think…when I think about –”
The words had barely left my mouth before I was cut off. The ground shook violently as we stood in front of Lanayru’s East Gate. Dark clouds spread across the sky, and lightning and thunder cracked and crashed around the setting sun. A mighty roar echoed across all of Hyrule. Revali took the skies and surveyed the land far beyond what any of us could see. The ground shook again as he descended in front of us.
“It’s awake…Ganon,” was all he said through fearful gasps.
My heart lurched and my head began to spin in disbelief.
The next few seconds passed by in a blur. I could hear Daruk yelling instructions while Urbosa urged Zelda to get somewhere safe. Zelda insisted that she would do what she could to help, and then we split in different directions. Revail took flight, Daruk set off to the North, and Urbosa, Link, and Zelda passed back through the promenade. I stood alone, hypnotized by the swirling malice that filled the once clear, blue sky. Terror pushed its way inside my heart but I knew that I needed to move — I had a job to do!
I tried to think of the fastest way to return to Ruta. I ran swiftly back through the promenade, hoping to catch a glimpse of Link one last time. I ran as hard as my legs would take me and caught up to Zelda and Link as they made their way towards the West Gate. I wanted to shout his name, to tell him to be careful! I wanted more than anything for him to be safe, but now wasn’t the time to show my heart to him. We parted ways at the exit and I glanced back, hoping to catch his blue eyes one last time. In that glance, I saw him reach for the princesses hand and urge her forward. In those moments my heart began to break. I didn’t know if I would ever see him again. I didn’t know if my feelings for him were real anymore.
Then he looked back at me with eyes that burnt with blue fire; eyes that would haunt me forever. His serious gaze burned into my soul and I knew what it meant — Be safe. Be a Champion.
Tears filled my eyes as I ran towards my homeland. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for this. I was afraid because I knew this time would come. I knew a time would come where we would all part and we would face Calamity Ganon. In my heart though, I wanted nothing more than my dear friends to be safe. I prayed for them. “Link…Zelda…may the Goddess smile upon you.”
Finally, I reached Zora’s Domain, where all of my fellow Zora had gathered in the community pools. Sidon stood close to my father, who was making every effort to keep our people calm.
“Father, I needed to see you before I go to Ruta!” I cried, gasping for breath. My feet ached, but my mission was not over yet.
“Mipha, don’t go!” Sidon cried, abandoning my father’s side and grabbing on to my legs.
“I must,” I replied, trying to hide my tears. “But I promise to return to you safe and sound.”
“My dear daughter,” Father’s voice broke as he bent down to embrace me, “please return to us.”
I held my father close and let my tears fall, but not before anyone noticed. A Zora knight was holding my trident and passed it to me as I left the communal area. The air in the domain was heavy and it had started to rain. Ruta was situated in the East Reservoir Lake and I made in that direction. I swam up the waterfalls with ease and approached the lake where Ruta stood.
The Divine Beast reared back upon my presence and I swam through the dark waters to board. It was time to be a Champion! Vah Ruta beckoned me, and I climbed aboard, and made my way to the control room, where Ruta’s heart lay.
“Ruta, we must aid Link and Zelda at all costs! We must make our way to higher ground. Calamity Ganon is our target!” I felt the beast lurch forward through the waters and then stop abruptly. “Ruta what’s wrong?” I cried, placing my hand against the control pad again. The beast and I were bonded, but something felt off. I could feel a heavy darkness pour through Ruta’s belly.
“Ruta…” I readied my trident and backed away from the glowing heart. A dark black and fuchsia malice poured from the heart and swirled around the control room. It started to take form in front of me. It was a terrifying, blight creature with long red hair and a glowing blue eye. It’s body resembled gooey malice and old Sheikah technology. It laughed maniacally as a long, glowing spear appeared in it’s clawed hand.
Ruta shook violently and the water in the room rippled under my feet. The blight locked its sight on me and swung its spear. I avoided gracefully and prepared my counter attack. I charged forward and threw my trident at it’s glowing eye. The blight reared back in pain as my trident hit it’s mark, then recovered quickly and summoned it’s spear again.
I dropped to the ground and searched for my trident in the water. I found it in enough time to dodge another blow of the monster’s glowing spear. Our battle had just started but I was already exhausted. My legs were ready to fall out from under me, and my breathing had become ragged. I searched for every ounce of strength in my body as I picked myself up to attack again.
The blight laughed again as I moved forward. Then the room began to change. Water filled the space and platforms floated to the surface. I climbed aboard one and watched in shock as the blight disappeared.
“Show yourself!” I cried, clutching my trident. I felt as though I could hear the very thumping of my heart in the unnatural silence as I waited for the blight to show itself. I heard movement behind me and I turned to face the demon, it’s glowing eye staring eerily into mine. My fingers slipped from the Lightscale Trident and I fell backwards into the water, sinking to the bottom of Ruta. I lay there, unable to move or speak, as the water began to drain and the platforms disappeared. The blight hovered above me and roared with violent triumph, my blood trickling from one of it’s sharp claws. I coughed weakly and tried to reach for my trident. I didn’t want to die alone. I didn’t want to break my promise to my father and brother. I looked up at the malice creature again and watched as it returned to the heart of Vah Ruta.
My time as a Champion was up.
Tears flowed from my eyes into the waters remaining in Vah Ruta’s belly. My spirit would become one with this beast. I felt my fingers reach around the trident and I clutched it with all of my might. My last feat of strength was a prayer to the Goddess. “Protect my people, Goddess of Hyrule. May they know grace and may they see the light once again.”
And then my life left me.
I heard their voices as though they were distant echoes. I wanted to call for them and to warn them of the blight…
My vision was starting to return to me. I wondered if I was alive….
“Your Highness, please wake up!”
Green flames glistened around me. My ethereal body felt light and my wound was gone. Two Zora knights hovered over my body. Tears filled their eyes as they stood around me, trying desperately to revive me. It was too late though, my spirit was already gone.
“We must take her body back,” one knight said to the other. He nodded and proceeded to gingerly lift my lifeless body from the bloodied pool of water.
I watched as my hand fell limp — I was really gone. The other knight grabbed my trident and together they left Vah Ruta.
I tried to follow them, but my efforts were fruitless. The blight that killed me, the blight that I now knew to be a fragment of Ganon, had sealed my soul here. I fell to my knees and cried out into the void. The Zora knights were far away with my body and I was overcome with emotion. Would Sidon see? What would father say? My tears flowed and I could hear Ganon’s Blight laugh from the heart of Ruta. I prayed that the others were able to best Ganon and that I was the only one who had failed that day.
A torrential rain has fallen upon Zora’s Domain since the day of my death and for the last one hundred years; a representation of my sorrow at being trapped inside Ruta, forever. In the years since I lost my battle with Ganon’s Blight, the Zora have tried to release my spirit by sending my trident down the Zora River. I was able to make contact with my people only once during that time, my spiritual body limiting any other attempt that I made. Since then, the Zora decided to celebrate my life in a festival every year. I can hear the annual festivities as I watch over them from Ruta.
Recently things began to feel different. I could feel a strange sensation through the old bond that Ruta and I had. It wasn’t uncommon for Ruta to be angry and active, but this sensation felt more like rage. Ruta’s roar echoed throughout the land and the rain poured harder, but soon after I felt a new presence enter Ruta.
It was him.
He was wearing the armor that I had crafted for him many years ago and it fit perfectly.
Link looked around curiously and I proceeded to guide him through Ruta. He faced every challenge flawlessly and soon found himself face to face with the heart of Vah Ruta. I warned him that the beast had bested me one hundred years ago and I begged him to be careful. Their battle commenced much like mine had. Link had a mighty arsenal with him and fought against the blight with ease. In those moments of his battle, I was brought back to the time when he saved me from the lynel. His movements were so beautiful and fluid. Link was now saving me once again. I wish I had told him how I felt all those years ago, and I wish I could have been the one to present him with that armor. Still…to see him once again was a gift like no other.
Once the final blow was dealt, the blight exploded, and in that instant I felt that Ruta was finally free. I knew that I didn’t have much time, and so I had to choose my final words to Link carefully. “Hello, Link. Because of your courage, my spirit is now free. And Ruta, as well. Thank you.”
I began to approach Link. The water rippled under my feet as I stepped forward, “For I am now allowed by this freedom…to be with you once again. Since I am now a spirit, my healing power would be wasted on me. I have no need of it. So therefore, I would like you to have it. Please accept Mipha’s Grace.”
I prayed that my healing power would be beneficial to him in his times to trial. “Yesterday, I was awash in a pool of tears. I had nearly given up hope and resigned myself to being trapped here, as a spirit, for the rest of eternity. But now you’re here. All this time, my hope was to see you once more. Promise me that you will not hesitate to call upon my power if you ever find yourself in need. Knowing that…will let my spirit rest in peace. I must go. Ruta and I have our roles to fulfill. We are both honored to be able to play the role of support. We’ll annihilate Ganon together.”
I knew that my time with Link was short, and I needed leave him with some final words. “Farewell. Save her, Link. Save the princess…save Princess Zelda.”
I knew deep in my heart that Link would save her, and save us all. My spirit was finally free, but my job as a champion was not over yet. The time would come where Ruta and I would aid Link once more, when he arrived to face Ganon a final time. I knew not of everything that happened during the last one hundred years, but I knew very soon that my spirit would finally come to rest.
Thank you Link for showing me a kindness…a love… a love in friendship. To the Goddess, I pray that my family is well and that my home will thrive. Protect Link and Zelda. Watch over Hyrule…and please smile upon my spirit, as I will return to you soon.
Featured image artwork is by the author, Heather Beard.