Posted on July 31 2020 by David Nystrom
|| Part Twenty-Five || Part Twenty-Seven ||
Color returned to the world around Osmond, and sounds soon followed. He looked down at his hands and saw the strange harp still there, proving the visions he’d witnessed as true. He remained atop the Sleepless Waterfall as he heard panicked cries from the Zora Throne Room.
When he returned to the chamber, both Zelda and Fado appeared as though they were going to accost him, but the small aquatic deity spoke first.
“Ah! I see you have spoken to her. Did she show you?”
Osmond nodded silently, his eyes not leaving the small harp in his hands.
“And has she… gone on?”
Again, Osmond only gave a silent affirmative.
“That is good. I am pleased to hear she is at last at peace.”
“Who are you all talking about? What is that in your hands, Osmond?” Zelda burst in finally.
“You’re talking about Ruto… aren’t you?” Fado asked, a look of realization sweeping across his face.
“Indeed. And that is the Dragon’s Lyre, a relic that is deeply connected to the history of the Zora Royal Family,” Jabun said from his small pond. A shadow fell on his face though, as he went on, “This means dark days are coming. Listen carefully to me, all of you.”
They listened intently.
“You all know well the tale of the Hero of Time, but there are questions that need answering. The largest of which, is and has been, what happened to him? Following the defeat of the Dark Prince, the Hero of Time vanished. The queen of that era, your great grandmother went on record claiming that she alone knew his whereabouts, reassuring the people of Hyrule that if he were needed again, she would call for him.”
“And now it’s a secret held by the Royal Family,” Fado added. “One of the powers that the Sage Counsel has been pushing for transparency on for… fifty years or so.”
“Correct. Lord Kalia was one of the first to push for it, though he later retracted his belief. Now Lords Sagesse and Huron seem to be the only ones who hold that belief.”
“What does that have to do with Rutela?”
“Rutela was Lady Ruto’s niece. It is no greatly kept secret that Lady Ruto had no offspring as her heart was forever tied to the Hero, however, this is not wholly true. In her final days in this world, Queen Ruto took on an infant that was not of her own blood. This adoption was enough to supplant the next would be heir to the Zora throne. It is also believed that the queen was close to discovering a way to communicate with the long-lost Hero of Time. If she had succeeded in this endeavor, along with solidifying a line of her own heirs, this pious throne-seeker would have been surely denied rights forever.”
“Rutela was supposed to be next…” Zelda pieced together.
“The child then… Who was she?” Osmond asked sternly.
The low rumble of a tremor from deep underground broke the conversation. Jabun dove under the water and disappeared for a moment. When he resurfaced, he was breathing heavily.
“I know not her name. It was something never spoken, save to the one who carried her from this place. Listen to the song the lyre plays, it will show you the identity of the one who should be seated on this throne. When you have found her, she will need to come here as part of an ancient prophecy in the Zora people’s history. She will no doubt know it.”
Another thundering roll of earth, stronger than before.
“The Ice Queen’s demon is awake, and it can only mean she is making her move to secure her place on this throne. Pray, defeat the beast and restore the Zora line.”
Jabun again dove under the water, but this time determined not to return. Osmond rose from his knelt position and drew his sword. His eyes narrowed on the hall that led out to the fountain.
“Stay here, start back to Castletown. If Rutela is truly making her move on this heir, we don’t have much time,” he said coldly as he started up the steps.
“Like hell,” Fado said, “Ruto was as much a friend to me as any of the other Sages. I’m not going to be denied a chance to fight the thing that was in part responsible for her death.”
“And I’m not letting you go against this thing alone. We’re supposed to have each other’s back. I can’t do that if you’re by yourself,” Zelda grinned, pulling the obscenely large Megaton Hammer from her back.
Osmond closed his eyes a moment as he prepared to protest. Then he felt a calming presence wash over him as Zelda’s hand rested on his shoulder. He gave a nod, and together the trio went out from the cavern.
* * * * *
“I can understand your fears, Lord Kalia. But I must argue against this brash measure,” the queen so elegantly said.
“Your Grace, I am certain of what I saw and if the spirits are to be believed, it is unwise for you to be left so unguarded,” Kalia said. He ruffled the feathers on his neck, still feeling the haunting eyes of that intense vision on him.
Immediately after he’d awoken from the vision, he revealed the vision to Sagesse, who had been the one to wake him from it. From there, the two of them set to work on a plan should the worst of events come to pass. Sagesse went to inform Impa and the soldiers that their duties would be increased. Kalia, meanwhile, flew to the king and warned him, before returning to the queen and urging her to retreat from Castletown.
“The North Castle is a secret to many. If I were to flee there, where my husband already is sequestered, surely it would draw more of our enemies to it.”
“It is a risk that we must take. When the princess returns, she is to follow the same action and retreat to the safety of that protected place. Please, Your Grace. You must make preparations immediately.”
Queen Zelda rested her head on her head on her hands and let out a hard breath. Uncharacteristic wrinkles showed on her furrowed brow and the touches of silver in her otherwise golden hair stood out for the first time in the Sage of Light’s memory.
“I cannot abandon our people. If it is deemed so important that I go into hiding, then my husband must return here. I will not leave our capital, our home, without a member of the Royal Family present.”
Kalia wanted to debate the topic further, but perceived a certain level of determination and resolution on the queen’s face. Despite his yearning, he dutifully bowed and took his leave. When he returned to his study in the Temple of Time, he examined the papers that he had gathered on his desk once more.
Among the documents, was one that stood out in the old bird’s eyes. It was a page condemning a man from the desert of treason, murder, high crimes against the royal interest, and theft. The man was aged about sixteen years, but this was a guess on the part of the jailer who had filled out the document as it had a clear question mark next to the number. Next was the description of the physical appearance.
Male with pale blue tint to skin. Hairless. Scarring across back, possibly from abuse by whipping or similar tool. Fingernails are jagged and sharp. His eyes are black and the skin around them show evidence of severe wind burn. Despite appearance, remains incredibly strong and it took four soldiers to restrain him upon his arrest.
Kalia lit his pipe and let a small river of smoke escape around his feathers. He knew the man in this description. It was Adok. But the dates on the page put the events of his arrest back nearly forty years.
“You’re still hung up on that?”
Kalia gave no response to the Sage of Shadow as he entered.
“He was an extremist. Brought up to hate the Royal Family, Hyrule, and all who aligned themselves with the beliefs she stands for.”
“That is what bothers me. I seldom believe it to be so simple. For that matter, I’m surprised you believe it to be.”
“I didn’t say that. I’m almost certain some other agent of evil is at work, for it seems that there always is. I just do not suspect Adok any more dangerous than a rogue band of Moblin.”
“How did the queen take to being told to retreat to the North Castle?”
“She refused. She demands a member of the Royal Family always be present here in Castletown, and unless we’re willing to call Daphnes back, she will remain.”
“I should have guessed,” Sagesse folded his arms and walked over to a window that overlooked part of the city. “Then I suppose I should ask Lady Impa to increase the guard on the queen. The number of shields and spears at her side should be equal to her determination.”
“On this, Lord Sagesse, I fully agree.”
* * * * *
Wind cut across the icy waters like a scythe harvesting wheat. Osmond braced against it as he pulled the oars to the small boat they had been given for crossing the fountain. Along with that and their thick coats, the trio were each provisioned with an ice pick and vile of red potion. Fado had also been given a bottle with a blue magic flame sealed inside.
The raft rode up on to the small stony landing, and Zelda leapt onto the shore to pull it up. The others disembarked, and together they ascended to a small flight of intricately chiseled stairs. At their peak stood a large basin filled with kindling, holding tightly to small tendrils of frozen water.
“I doubt it needs being said, but be careful in here. It was dangerous in the days of the Hero of Time, but now that it’s been poisoned by Rutela’s treachery…” Fado trailed off and the others took his meaning.
They passed through a small tunnel and emerged in a snowy opening. A row of icicles stood tall before a path to the left, while a sheet of red ice blocked another opening. High above, the cave opened to the chilling air, allowing it to howl and cut through the chamber.
Osmond’s boots crunched as he crossed toward the path blocked by the icicles, but Fado called out to stop him.
“Not that way.” He approached the crimson slab and pulled the bottle of magic fire from his hip. Opening it, he poured the flames onto the base of the ice, and stepped back. Steam began rising and the ice began to vanish.
The path beyond the newly opened doorway led to a tremendous subterranean lake covered in a rough sheet of ice. The domed ceiling sparkled with shimmering fragments of ice, illuminated by the clusters of luminous stone and the lanterns of its intrepid visitors.
“This path used to lead to a monument that was reserved for special ceremonies. It was where Rutela’s coronation was held, before she declared Zora’s Fountain a sacred place and barred entrance to all but those she deemed worthy.”
“I’m guessing that was a short list,” Osmond quipped.
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…