Posted on July 17 2020 by David Nystrom
|| Part Twenty-Three || Part Twenty-Five ||
Osmond’s feet landed on smooth and dry stone. When he looked around, he was standing in a square hall of stone behind the water. He felt his arms and was surprised that he hadn’t been drenched.
“Some old magic,” Fado smiled confidently, “back in the day, there used to be a guard who’d stand by and await a signal that whoever was at the door was a friend. Then, he’d reveal that the Sleepless Waterfall was actually two falls on either side of this grotto.”
Osmond chuckled and Zelda’s eyes were wide.
“That’s incredible,” she said.
“The Zora are incredibly clever,” Fado said, beginning through the hall.
Zora’s Domain was as awe inspiring as every sight Osmond had seen since he became a Knight, and then some. The large body of water that sat in the middle of the cave, reflected an electric blue along the shining silver stone walls. Ribbons of gemstones glistened near the bottom of the clear lake and displayed their colors all around like a grand feast for the eyes.
Near the middle of the lake, stood a tall statue of a Zora woman. Her head was large and triangular, her bosom ample, and her waist thin. Her flowing dress was a vibrant purple marble that transitioned into a pale blue, and it flowed down over the island and into the water just enough to seem as if they were one. High above her head though, she held a scepter. A staff. Bearing the Zora Crest at its top.
“That’s Lady Ruto, isn’t it?” Osmond asked.
“Yes,” Fado said, skirting the pathway on the water’s edge.
“Do you know what happened to her?”
Osmond stared up at the statue, patiently awaiting a response. Zelda did the same.
“There are many rumors. Some I care not to speak of out of respect for the dead,” he went silent, his eyes glazing over as he too looked up at the effigy of Lady Ruto. “However, the most likely truth is that she was slain by the very same monster Lady Rutela sealed away, and I suspect we’re hunting.”
“You think they’re all the same creature?” Zelda asked.
“Because of that,” Fado turned and began walking, but pointed to a path just to the right.
Down the path, was a large wall painting of a spider like monster, devouring Zora. Around the outside of the image, were pictures of Zora Warriors standing up against the beast, before one bearing a Zora Crest emblazoned staff stood alone against it. The next image showed the Zora being defeated, and another coming in and lifting the staff up. This second Zora seemed to seal the beast away as a spirit of the first floated up into the heavens.
“It’s the most commonly told tale of how Rutela became the Sage of Ice, and eventual leader of the Zora race.”
Osmond moved down to take a closer look. The image of Ruto falling with the staff in her hands. Rutela raising the staff and sealing away the monster. It all seemed so familiar.
“Os?” Zelda tugged on Osmond’s sleeve.
They continued around the lake and began climbing a spiral ramp that ascended to the higher levels. A short tunnel awaited at the peak of the ramp, and on the other side was a small chamber with torches and a large seat carved into the far wall. Above the throne, another tunnel led back outside through an ornately decorated lattice gate. Finally, there was a passageway to the left where a lone Zora stood guard.
His skin was green, and his gills looked slightly dried out. Long whiskers hung from either side of his wide mouth and his large yellow eyes blinked quickly, as if he’d been asleep.
“Ako? You’re the one who’s still here?” Fado’s mouth hung open.
The elder Zora stepped out from the tunnel and smacked his lips together as he spoke, “eh. This was my home, still is. They ain’t getting me to leave.”
“Well it seems Lady Laruto’s seal on the monster in the Ice Temple has weakened and it attacked Castletown. We’re here to seal it back up again.”
“Oh right,” he nodded his head, as if it was no surprise. “Well I best let the King know. Hang on,” he began to walk towards the vacant throne.
“Ako, the King has been dead for nearly sixty years,” Fado said.
Ako squinted for a moment, then chuckled to himself, “oh ho ho… So, he has been.”
Fado smiled and began towards the stairs that ascended to the passageway behind the throne.
“Although, I didn’t mean King Zora. I meant Lord Jabun.”
Fado’s feet stopped moving.
Ako smiled dumbly, “our divine deity of course.”
“Does he mean Lord Jabu-Jabu?” Zelda asked. “Sir, Lord Jabu-“
“No, you stupid girl! I mean Lord Jabun.”
Zelda was about to snap back, but Fado’s hand stilled her and he responded, “Ako, who is Lord Jabun?”
Ako continued past the throne to where was a small pool of water was hidden away behind one of the torches. With creaking bones, he knelt down to the water and pressed his head into it. Some bubbles came up, then he came back out. He smiled up at the trio, then returned to his post.
They all watched curiously, then looked at each other, before back down at the watery hole in the floor. They stared at it for only a moment before a large blue and gray fish launched itself out of the water and onto the throne. It flopped around for a moment, before settling down on its round belly and shifting its eyes up to them.
Collectively they all shook their heads and blinked in a mixture of confusion and awe. Osmond felt his mouth opening and closing as he tried to speak, but he found only the chilly air from the tunnel filling his throat.
“Surely you don’t intend to go and face the monster with only those clothes. Ako, please fetch some armor for our champions.”
“Yes, my lord,” Ako spun around and ventured down the hallway he guarded with his feet splashing softly in the water.
“Please, come stand before me,” the fish said.
“Who are you?” Zelda asked once they were standing around the throne.
“I am Lord Jabun, the sole surviving heir of the great Lord Jabu-Jabu.”
Fado, for once, was speechless and it was something that the cucco sized deity seemed to realize.
“Master Fado, I must say I was not expecting you to be the one to come and challenge this foe.”
“You were expecting Lady Rutela?” Osmond said.
“Goodness no. Surely enough Hylian years have passed that she has been removed from the throne. Has something happened to her?”
More confused looks went through the trio.
There was a small antenna that extended up from Jabun’s forehead and it suddenly began to glow and bounce, as if indicating something important.
“Oh my… I see…” Jabun frowned.
“What? What is it?” Zelda asked.
“Which of you has seen her?”
“Seen who?” Fado asked, his eyes narrowing.
“The one who lingers atop the falls.”
A chilling silence filled the room. Osmond looked around, expecting to see flames flickering from a cool breeze. Instead though, they were not moving at all. Peaks of fire stood stationary, as if frozen in time and space. He looked to Zelda, and she had gone pale like a ghost. But not just her skin. Her golden hair, the blue in her cloak, all the color of her eyes and lips. Gone. He looked down to Fado, and saw the same strange phenomena.
“Wh-what’s going on?”
He stumbled backwards and looked at his own hands. They remained their pale pigment but everything around him had dissolved into a strange gray and white world.
“I see you’re awake,” a phantom female voice echoed out.
“Who’s there?” Osmond drew his sword and spun around.
“You need not be afraid, Hylian. Come, follow my voice.”
Without seeing it, Osmond could tell the voice came from above, from outside in the frozen Zora’s Fountain. He hesitated a moment, staring at the frozen in time figure of Zelda, then he swallowed hard, sheathed his sword, and went out through the tunnel.
Outside, snowflakes hung in the air without drifting to the snowy ground. Osmond’s boots left no tracks as he walked past a great stone altar, built just above the icy waters surface. The water flowed just under it and down over the falls, feeding the river below. As he examined it, movement to his left drew his attention.
The Zora woman, encircled by floating blue-green flames, stood looking down over the falls and clutching a tall staff with the Zora Crest on its top. A flowing and elegant dress hung gently from her shoulders and gracefully rested on the water. As she turned, her purple eyes and soft expression gave Osmond the feelings of a warm and almost motherly affection.
“You are quite the handsome Knight,” she said.
“Who are you?”
“I am the last lingering spirit of an age that will forever be defined by its mistakes. I am what remains of Queen Ruto, an echo.”
“Queen Ruto?” Osmond felt his knee bend and drop before he could fully comprehend.
“Please, Sir Knight, rise and tell me your name.”
“My name is Osmond. I am from Castletown.”
“A carpenter by trade but swordsman by choice, yes?” She smiled.
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“No,” her grin turned to a slight laugh as she sat down on the edge of the falls, “not by choice. Yours is a fate tied to that of a greater tale, I think. Tell me, does the Spirit of the Hero reside in you?”
Osmond gave her a curious look.
“Your answer is given,” she nodded, “that is not the path you are to take, but seeing how you can see and hear me, I suspect there is still a plan for you. Come and sit, I have much to tell you.”
As Osmond stepped from the snow-covered stone pathway, and into the frigid water, he was amazed that his feet were not soaked. They weren’t even submerged. The surface of the flowing water was as hard as ice for him.
“Where am I? What’s going on?”
“You’re in a place between the world of Light and realm of Darkness. I cannot exist in your world anymore, but because of my role to play, neither can I pass on to the sea of my ancestors.” She looked down over the edge, misty eyes filling with tears, “oh, how long I’ve waited for this day to come.”
There was a moment of silence as Osmond waited for her to catch her breath. She wiped her eyes on her wrist, then looked to him with that same loving stare.
“I shall tell you what you need to know before I return you to your world, but please indulge me a moment. Do you know love?”
Osmond felt his face warm at the question.
“Yes, I see you do. How long did I wish for him to return? I once loved a Hylian Knight, much like yourself. When I felt the presence of a destined knight, my spirit rose with joy. I thought, he has come back! I felt as though my prayers had been answered. Then your spirit became clearer to me, and I knew that my fate would be different than I hoped for. I still sense him though we are worlds apart. I have felt his pain, his suffering, of which there has been too much for one man. I would have forfeited my life to ease his pain for only a day, and perhaps one day a descendant of mine may do just that.”
“Why are you still here? Couldn’t you go be with him and live happily ever after?”
“I had a duty. I still have one. As did he. There are times, young one, when your task and destiny will dictate painful sacrifices. I see a moment in your future, it is still hazy to even me, but your destiny will one day call you to a great task, and the price will be extraordinary, and yet you will be glad.”
Osmond felt a chill race through is body, despite the warm gaze from Ruto.
“Do not be afraid, Osmond. You have much to do before that dawn rises. Come, I will show you what danger ripped me from your world and left me suspended in this state.”
She stood up and floated to the cliffs just to the side of the falls. Osmond rose and followed, floating in a way he couldn’t wrap his mind around. When they came to a stop, they turned and faced the rock where they had been seated in the middle of the falls. Ruto extended her staff and the scene began to play itself out.
Atop the falls, stood Ruto, wielding the staff as a weapon and facing off with a monster out of sight.
“Has the city been evacuated?” She shouted.
“Yes, Your Majesty!” a second voice called out.
It was familiar to Osmond.
“Then I will handle this monster!”
“Can you?” the tone of the second voice changed. Then she stepped into view. She approached Ruto slowly, with a menacing grin upon her blue-purple face.
It was Rutela.
David Wayne Nystrom is a Staff Writer for Zelda Dungeon. This story is an imagining of the final days in Hyrule prior to the Great Flood talked about in the opening cinematic of The Wind Waker. The first six chapters are available in audio podcast form and there’s a complete soundtrack for the first volume here. Head over to erawithoutahero.wordpress.com or follow the story account on twitter @ZeldaTEWAH where you can keep up on information regarding the future of the podcast, soundtrack, and other TEWAH news that will be coming soon! David’s top three Zelda games are Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, and Link’s Awakening. He’s also an avid Smash Bros. fan. Every Era Has Heroes…