Posted on October 30 2020 by David Nystrom
|| Part Twenty-Eight || Part Thirty ||
It was a three-day ride to Lake Hylia. The Zora City had been constructed in the wake of the tragedy at Zora’s Domain, though now, it seemed Lake Hylia would have its own chapter in the sad tale. At word of being told they would be enslaved, the Zora took up arms and awaited the armies of Hyrule on the banks of the great lake.
“Intel shows that a second legion of Zora warriors are waiting inside the city entrance,” Impa explained, setting pieces on the map of the region.
They had arrived just before dawn. A heavy bank of fog lingered over the road between the gates where they set up camp and the edge of the lake. The gate house marked the edge of the Lake Hylia region of the Lanayru Province. Since the fall of Zora’s Domain, this small corner of the kingdom had been governed by the Zora and Rutela.
“They will have a strong advantage if the battle remains at the water’s edge,” Huron said. He had arrived just hours ago and was set to join the battle with a small force of Goron warriors.
“Our plan will be to lure the fight onto the dell here,” Impa slid the token for her forces to a point just north of the lake. “If we can do that, Sir Osmond and Lord Fado can lead an infiltration force around behind.”
“Across the bridge? They will likely expect this,” one high ranking officer scoffed.
“Which is why it is so important we draw them to us. The only entrance to the Zora City that we have access to is on the small island near the center of the lake. With another group of hostiles waiting inside, we need as much of the battle divided as possible.”
“What if I can get in below the surface? They probably won’t be defending the underwater entry,” Laruto asked.
“With all due respect, Your Highness, my plan was to use you as the bait and then get you as far away from the battle as possible,” Impa moved another figure from the shores back to their camp.
“Is that a risk you really wanna take?” Liam’s gruff voice came from the corner of the room.
“I don’t see a reason to put her in more danger. Besides, I don’t see a better option that could be earned through that,” Impa glared.
“Of course you don’t,” Liam laughed and approached the table. He picked up a few smaller tokens and placed them on the eastern shore of the lake, then slid some more near between the ones on the north shore and his.
“An all-out offensive?” Huron asked.
“An assault large enough that they’ll have to engage or be totally overwhelmed.”
“The potential losses on our side is too steep. We want to minimize casualties, Liam. Not guarantee them.”
“These people,” Laruto started, “my people, are not our enemies. They have been betrayed and deceived as we were. We must strive to save as many of them as we possibly can.”
“I don’t mean to kill them, just create that impression. They believe us to be invaders and looking to enslave them. We need to look the part. Once they advance, we pull back. No engagement necessary.”
“As opposed to using her as bait and drawing out or target?” Impa asked, leaning on the table.
“You want to just scare them,” Fado said, standing on a stool to see the table as well.
“Exactly. One we’re inside the City, it won’t matter if those on the shores are paying attention or not.”
Impa chewed on the idea with a sour expression. After a few tense moments, she relaxed her shoulders and sighed.
“If we draw them far enough, the kid and Fado here can walk right in and take her on.”
“Think you’re up to it?” Impa asked, turning to Osmond.
“I’ll do whatever I have to.”
“When she attacked at the castle, we weren’t rested or prepared,” Fado said. “Rest assured, we will not fail.”
Impa gave a small laugh. “Ever the optimist. And you’ve sure changed since the Swordsman Tournament kid. The princess has one helluva knight in her service.”
“Well?” Liam asked.
“Fine, we do it your way. Deploy three legions of shields to the banks. I will be in the lead of the northern most unit, with Laruto in the reserves halfway between there and camp. Do not intervene unless you have been given clearance to.”
“Yes ma’am!” Several officers saluted and rushed out to give their orders.
Osmond mounted his horse and Fado soon climbed up behind him. Huron walked up along side them and patted the mount along its armored mane.
“You two be careful, ya hear?”
“In a week, I’ll be back on your shoulder sipping a pint as we celebrate this drama being over,” Fado grinned.
“I’ll drink to that! Give ‘em hell!” Huron bellowed.
Osmond’s horse reared up and he kicked in, spurring onward.
* * * * *
Impa stood on the shore with Liam and Huron flanking her. Laruto was there also, but stood with a small group of four Knights of Hyrule a few feet behind the lead trio. A group of Zora warriors, equal in number to Impa’s group, came up from the shallows and stopped a couple spear lengths from them.
“Surrender Rutela to us and you will all be pardoned. There is no need for battle this day,” Impa issued.
“So you can place that usurper and Hyrulean puppet on our throne?” the lead Zora replied. “Withdraw all forces loyal to the crown of Hyrule and abandon Lake Hylia to her Supreme Majesty, Queen Rutela.”
“You always were a stooge to her, Zajer,” Liam scoffed.
“Enough!” Impa interjected.
The Zora leader fumed, his gills flapping hard and arm seizing on his trident. Liam grinned but said nothing more, pleased enough with the reaction his insult had bred.
“General Zajer, will you stand down?” Impa asked.
“No. Will you withdraw?”
“Only when you and your army have willfully surrendered.”
“Then it is war, Commander.”
“May the Goddess intervene on your behalf.”
The two groups of leaders turned away and returned to their armies.
Impa glared at Liam as they were approaching Laruto’s small group.
“And you wonder why I never want to see you when you’re in Castletown.”
“Oh, I know why. But now’s not the time for that conversation.”
The trio came along side Laruto and her knights.
“I suppose it didn’t go well?” the Zora sage asked.
“Well would have been an improvement,” Huron grunted.
“Apologies, you Highness,” Liam bowed his head.
The fog on the knoll was starting to lighten, however it clung to the waters surface like an infant to its mother. It concealed any waves that might have been stirred up by the defending forces laying underneath. Above them, dark clouds were beginning to build in the south with the rumbles of thunder riding the air like cavalry.
A knight near to Impa lifted a helmet to her and she took it. Placing it upon her head, the faceguard slid down to conceal all but her eyes. She wore plate armor over her shoulders and chest, with light weight greaves to cover her thighs while mounted. Her boots extended up to her knees and bore some studded iron over her shins. Underneath it all, she wore traditional Sheikah garb that allowed for the more fluid movements she was renowned for.
She scanned the water’s edge and waited patiently, expecting the Zora army to strike first. With her hand on the short sword at her side, she prepared to give signal for a volley from the archers in the rear of her battalion.
Soon enough, what appeared to be a rock in the water shifted suddenly. A Zora warrior, clad it shining silver armor, charged out of the shallows with his spear thrust forward.
A wave of shock arrows struck the surface of the water and the Zora warrior dropped to his knees with a violent convulsion. As several more emerged from just below the surface in a similar state, the Battle of Lake Hylia had begun.
Another curtain of electrically enchanted arrows illuminated the waters surface, forcing another surge of Zora warriors to fall to the ground unconscious. As a third wave of arrows descended, the next breed of soldiers emerged from the water.
This group was armed with thick wooden shields that caught the shock arrows and nullified the effect. Underneath the shields, came two Zora soldiers bearing smaller shields and curved long blades.
“Draw swords!” Impa commanded.
A chorus of blades rang out as they were pulled from their scabbards.
“Spears, advance! Archers, change!”
Heavy footsteps shook the earth as a line of Hylian Soldiers with long polearms and spears advanced past the archers and command unit. They came to a stop and lowered their weapons towards the oncoming Zora. The archers dropped their shock arrows and readied a second quiver filled with bomb arrows.
“Hold fire until their second wave!”
The archers changed formation so that there was a small flame between every few archers. They all slotted an arrow, but kept the fuses unlit as they awaited their next command.
The Zora wave collided with the spear line. Some Zora deflected the spear points with their shields, others with their blades. Some were impaled almost instantly as the Hyrulean soldiers adapted their angle.
“Advance!” Impa shouted, drawing her blade, and thrusting it forward.
At once, the remaining forces of Hyrule charged forward with swords and shields at the ready. The Zora forces that survived the spear front, were soon met with Hyrule’s gritter steel and iron weapons. The two forces clashed, their weapons creating a symphony of war.
As the next brand of the Zora Army emerged, Impa gave order for the archers to loose their next shots. As surely as they did, the arrows exploded on the shoreline. A torrent of explosions sent dirt, water, and Zora soldiers in every direction.
A new haze of fiery origin began to settle over the battlefield. The smoke from the explosions further decreased the visibility beyond the shoreline, but this was part of the plan.
On the western shore, about as far from the battle as the could have been, Osmond, Fado, and a dozen Knights of Hyrule observed the battle through telescopes. With the bomb arrows veiling the skirmish in smoke, the invasion force had their signal to advance.
Quickly and quietly, they moved westward to a narrow bridge that led out onto the first of two small islands on the lake. It was home to a small patch of flowers and reeds, but nothing else. Once there, they all drew their weapons and crept onto the second bridge. It groaned as they crossed it, but held as sturdy as it had for more than a century.
“Once inside, we split up,” Fado reminded the knights. “You three remain near the entrance and keep watch. The rest will engage anybody that stands between us and the throne room. Only Osmond and I are to engage Rutela. If you encounter her, fall back.”
They all acknowledged.
From her vantage point on a hill above the battle and fog of war, Laruto watched the small force descend into the stone mound that was the surface entrance to the Zora City. She turned to the Knight at her side and nodded. He responded by blowing into a horn as loudly as he could.
The sound of the bellowing horn let Impa know the others had successfully infiltrated the city, allowing her to execute the next phase of the battle.
“Fall back to the ridge! Defend the rightful Zora leader!”
Another horn sounded from amid the battlefield, and the Hyrulean forces broke westward at once. The Zora gave chase, just as Impa had hoped. The next wave of Zora soldiers emerged from the waters as well, armed with tridents and shields. The forces continued to war as they gathered near the central most beach of Lake Hylia’s northern coast.
Impa rode up along side Laruto and turned to view the battle.
“How long until they release it?” she asked.
“It won’t be long now,” Laruto said, a touch of sadness in her voice.
“Perhaps you should fall back to the camp when they do. The battle will become much more grim once it’s free.”
“No, I will stay. These are my people. I must be here to assure them that if they surrender, no more harm will come to them.”
No sooner had Impa nodded, than the surface of Lake Hylia began to swell. Suddenly, a large black mass emerged from the crests. Tentacles rose out of the water and slammed the water and ground all around.
“Fire and engage!” Impa shouted.
The massive Octorok was a secret weapon of the Zora Army and one Impa had expected they might summon. Despite being prepared for it, its presence meant the battle would shift into one much more bloody. Eliminating it as quickly as possible was the new task.
Impa pulled a short bow from the side of her horse, and drew an arrow from a quiver hung similarly. She pulled it back and let the arrow fly in the direction of the great monster. It struck the monster’s thick and fatty purple body, causing the creature to give off a high-pitched squeal.
One of its tentacles reached towards the shore and wrapped around a tree, which it used to pull itself closer before uprooting. Several soldiers on both sides dove out of the way as the tree came slamming down on to the ground. The branches shook violently as the Octorok whipped it into the air again to prepare another blow.
“You’re up, Liam,” Impa said.
“Gladly,” Liam kicked his spurs into his horse, and galloped down the bank toward the battle and monster.
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 seven 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 Skyward Sword. He’s also an avid Smash Bros. fan. Every Era Has Heroes…