Posted on November 13 2020 by David Nystrom
|| Part Thirty || Part Thirty-Two ||
The Zora City under Lake Hylia had once been the Water Temple. A labyrinth of underwater passages that the Hero of Time had traversed and liberated from the Dark Lord’s evil grasp. Its central room was a pillar that supported the main cavern but had taken on a marketplace of sorts for the Zora people to trade with one another as well as visitors. Many of the other corridors and chambers had been expanded or altered to suit living quarters and barracks, however, the chamber in which the Hero of Time had liberated the temple from its evil influences had remained largely the same. This was save for the one major function it now served. It was the throne room.
Osmond, Fado, and the knights who accompanied them below crossed a stone bridge on the top floor to the center structure. One story below them was the water’s surface along with three passages that led out into the city.
The knights split off and descended a wooden staircase to the floor below. They inspected the paths but found nothing suspicious in them.
Fado commanded them to remain at the entrances to the paths as he and Osmond advanced to the stone bridge that led toward the throne room.
“We need to be careful. If she’s truly thrown her lot in with Adok, I suspect she’ll be wielding some exceptionally dark magic.”
“Anything I should know?” Osmond asked.
“Yeah,” Fado grinned as they began to climb the ramp to the door, “if you don’t come back alive, there’s going to be one pissed-off princess.”
As they entered the throne room, Osmond’s senses heightened.
The room was a large square with a decent sized marble walk surrounding a pool of water. Four platforms sat above the water, equally spaced apart and about a full hop from the perimeter of the walkway. Large spikes bordered the walkway along the straightaways except where the doorway was, and the stairway that led to the alcove where the throne sat.
The throne itself was made of what appeared to be a massive clamshell. Two large orange conch shells flanked the seat, with iron sconces stuck to the wall behind them. Two small channels of water ran on the far sides of the alcoves and flowed down into the central pool of the room. Lastly, suspended on golden ropes above the throne, was the circular emblem of the Sage of Water, carved into the largest sapphire Osmond could ever have imagined. Its beauty though was obscured by the thick layer of ice that clung to it and was creeping onto everything in the alcove.
Rutela sat with her head hung low and her staff resting on her shoulder. Her fingers slid up and down the shaft like it was the only precious thing she had left in the world.
“Welcome to the Great Hall of my people, Fado, Sage of Wind, and Osmond, Knight of Hyrule,” Rutela’s voice echoed in the chamber.
“You’re a little off on that,” Fado said. “See, they’re not your people. Laruto is the rightful heir to that throne you’re planted on. She has been since Ruto claimed her as her lawful daughter.”
“She is nothing. The orphan of some long dead line with no royal blood,” Rutela snapped. Her head lifted and she gritted her teeth. Small lines of frost pulsed around her eyes and the flowing scales that appeared like hair on her head, now sat rigid, frozen in tendrils of ice.
“Orphaned as she may have been, Ruto adopted her and gave her the title of successor, not you.”
“A decision that led to her demise and the weakening of the Zora people.”
“That you caused!” Osmond interjected.
“No! I saved our people from a fate worse than the tragedy at Zora’s Domain! I ensured we had a future by sacrificing those who were lost that day!” Rutela shot to her feet as she continued, “I aligned myself with forces that could liberate us from the oppressive cycle of Hyrule forever!”
“So, your aim was to change fate?” Fado asked.
“I have seen endless waters, devoid of life. A vast pool of deep blue hues which only monsters can claim home. By defying the Oaths to Hylia and the Holy Trinity above her, I give hope that there is a future for the Zora race!”
“Do you trust the promises of a sorcerer and liar, over those made by our creators?”
“No, I trust every ounce of their promises, and therefore fight their providence!”
Osmond drew his blade and narrowed his eyes at her.
“And you dear boy… Nothing more than a pawn in the king’s game. Your existence is as insignificant as a pebble against an army. Just another body in the annals of Hyrule’s bloody history of greed and hatred.”
Osmond gritted his teeth, “Enough. Surrender now and I’ll lobby for your death to be quick.”
“Bold. You’ve changed much since your introduction into the knights, and that is commendable. I do hope that if you live to see another dawn, that you will have listened to my words and see for yourself the truth of that crest you desired so much.”
“I’m here for the queen and the princess. For what you have done, my blade is sworn to avenge.”
Rutela’s lips curled, “Then seek your hallow reward!”
A blast of icicles shot forward from the base of her staff, forcing Osmond and Fado to leap out of the way. Fado was quickest to fire back with a gust of wind that drew her attention. Osmond charged up the stairs and swung his sword downward at her. Rutela’s eyes flickered, and Osmond’s sword missed, striking the throne behind her.
Osmond felt the ground beneath him vanish as he was thrown back by an unseen blast of magic. When he landed, he charged forward again, and this time was sent flying against the wall of the throne’s alcove.
Fado held his ground though and continued to push a powerful blast of wind toward Rutela. With Osmond’s physical attacks seeming to be ineffective, Fado pulled a hand back and hurled a Deku Nut from his pouch. The explosive seed erupted before it reached the Sage of Ice and instead forced Fado to shield his eyes.
Rutela dove at Fado, and drove her staff into him. He flew backward and had to use his magic to propel himself above the spikes at the base of the chamber. His feet planted on the wall, and he propelled himself back at her. They collided with a blast of magic barriers and both were tossed to one of the platforms in the center of the pool.
Osmond got back to his feet and leapt at the momentarily stunned Rutela. His sword grazed her arm as she rolled out of the way. She reacted by striking him on his side with her shin. Though his armor absorbed it, the force of the blow was still enough to knock him to his side. He rolled into the water quickly to avoid her staff which she tried to skewer him with.
“Stay out of the water, Os!” Fado shouted, launching another blast of his wind magic toward Rutela.
Osmond quickly started for the edge of the pool, but suddenly felt a pang of intense pain throughout his submerged body. He managed to turn his head and see that Rutela had stuck the head of her staff into the water and frozen it around him.
He couldn’t move.
Fado leapt over to the platform Rutela was on and tackled her at the knees. Though it didn’t topple her completely, it forced her to remove the staff from the water. The ice around Osmond weakened as quickly as it had formed, and he broke free.
Osmond leapt back over to aid Fado and swung his sword toward Rutela’s head. She raised her staff and blocked the attack, then sent a pulse of magic out from her body that sent both Fado and Osmond flying.
Rutela raised her staff above her head and brought it down with a mighty slam. Spikes of ice shot out in every direction from her, seeking to catch Fado and Osmond on their points. Fado again reacted by propelling himself away from the lethal skewers with a burst of magic. Osmond used his shield and rolled to the side with a thud.
Fado and Osmond shared a look from across the room as if trying to devise a plan of attack without speaking. Their speechless conversation though was interrupted by Rutela sending out another blast of magic.
Osmond rolled toward the stairs that led up to the throne. As he prepared to charge in, he noticed the flames on the wall and had an idea.
The Sage of Wind looked up and saw what Osmond was drawing attention to. He quickly sent a blast of magic with one hand at Rutela to keep her attention on him, then used his other hand to stir up the flames on the wall.
Rutela was caught off guard when the small tendril of fire snapped around her arm like a grappling hook. Osmond seized the opportunity and swung his blade at her restrained arm. Rutela thrashed against the restraint and mostly avoided the attack. Osmond’s strike though, left a deep gash in her staff-wielding arm.
She leapt away and sealed the wound quickly with some ice, conjured by her other hand. As she looked up, Osmond was already airborne with his follow up attack.
She swung her staff up to meet his blow and the two weapons collided. Fado sent forth his enchanted fire, wrapped it around one of Rutela’s ankles, and pulled her down to a knee. Osmond raised his sword up to strike again. As Rutela tried to defend again, the fire released her leg and bound her wrist. Osmond’s blade cleaved through her arm in one clean blow.
Rutela screamed in agony as she clutched the stump at the end of her arm. She quickly sealed it off with a blast of ice, but when she raised her head with hopes of attacking again, Osmond’s sword was pressed firmly to her throat.
“For the lives you’ve taken, I am justice,” Osmond said calmly.
Rutela shuddered in pain, shaking as the shock of the wound sank in on her body. She clutched the frozen stump and began to rock herself back and forth, muttering under her breath.
“What are you saying?” Osmond asked, raising the flat side of his blade to her chin in order that she would look up at him.
She continued to mutter her unintelligible chant, but louder and more defiantly. Fado approached and turned his ear to the words carefully.
“It’s Gerudo… it’s a summoning incantation.”
“We slew her pet, so what could she be summoning?”
No sooner had the question been asked, than an answer presented itself. What could only be described as a hole in space ripped open near the Zora throne. Black and purple waves of energy flowed out from it as a man stepped forth. His blue skin, the scars that revealed themselves on it, his shaved head, and dark robes that were cinched around his waist stood dominantly before them.
“Not a what, but who…” his voice rumbled as a smile curled onto his lips.
Osmond turned and pointed his blade at Adok.
“Well met boy. The last time we faced off, you were still but the nephew of a carpenter, trained by an old knight. Now though, I can see that you yourself are a knight of some great importance.”
Osmond tightened his grip on his blade and kept his eyes focused on Adok.
“Tell me, Sir Osmond, why are you here?” Adok asked.
“To protect Hyrule, the Royal Family, and everybody in the kingdom.”
Osmond flinched at the dismissal of his statement.
“You are here because destiny says you need to be. A destiny that was predestined for you over a millennia ago. You are here because you follow the will of the gods and not your own.”
“Then I am in service to the betterment of all people.”
Adok’s lips curled, “I find you fascinating, and as it turns out, quite useful.”
He waved his hand and Rutela suddenly vanished. Fado and Osmond both whirled around looking for her, but she was nowhere to be seen. They quickly refocused on Adok, who was slowly descending the stairs now.
“Alas, Rutela has one last duty to me before I can let you exact justice on her. Rest assured though, if it is vengeance for the queen’s death you seek, you may have it when I no longer require her or her gifts.”
The faux benevolence offered by Adok, only served as fuel to the rage building in Osmond.
“Adok, I’m going to stop you from destroying Hyrule. You won’t live to see a day she’s ruled by you or your kin!” Osmond barked.
“Who said I wanted to rule it? I am single-minded in my purpose and will stop at nothing until I get it, but ruling a wasteland has no shine to me. What I seek is far more personal and valuable.”
“What is it you want then?” Fado asked.
Adok glanced down at the sage, “Power, to begin with.”
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…