Posted on April 02 2021 by Alison Brunyee
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Ah children, the gleaming light of Hyrule’s future. Finding wonder and delight in all the small things dismissed by adults. Learning from their mistakes and gaining key skills to make the world a better place.
The red head paused to stick out her tongue out. “Hey, Mr, you still want this?”
Between heaving breaths, two answers came to mind. The first: yes, you insufferable menace. The second? No thank you, I’d rather keep my head.
“Put the spear down.” I held up my palms, but this only led the girl to thrust the weapon even closer to my nose. “Someone might get hurt, namely me, and I doubt Kavia would appreciate that.”
Her golden eyes widened. “You know Commander Kavia?”
“Yes, she gave me this necklace, see?” I pointed awkwardly.
The little thief’s grip wavered. Slowly, she lowered the spear just enough to take a peek. “The Commander choose a scrawny, pathetic voe like you?”
A tad harsh maybe, but I was not about to argue. “I was surprised too.” I laughed nervously. “But here we are.”
“That’s stupid, you can’t even defend yourself. I should save her the trouble and drive this through your thick head.”
“Steady on!” I tried to back away. Who leaves lethal weapons around for children to pick up anyway? Completely irresponsible.
“Then she won’t have to marry you and can still be commander.”
“Wait, marriage? What are you talking about?”
“Clueless as well.” She shook her head. “You’re wearing the commander’s engagement necklace; didn’t you know?”
No, Kavia neglected to share that with me. I really need to talk to her about that.
“Nabooru, what are you doing?”
A great shadow swallowed the light.
“Uh, oh.” At once the warrior became a cowering puppy.
“You know the rules.” Kavia strode over and snatched up the spear. “No use of weapons outside combat training”
“Sorry, Commander. Yes, Commander. I… I got a carried away. It won’t happen again.”
Kavia mounted the spear on the wall with a loud clang. “You’re not fully trained yet and you threatened to kill my voe!”
“I thought he was lying.” Nabooru pouted.
“Well, he isn’t. This is Ronri, and as long as he wears my necklace, you don’t kill him, is that clear?”
“Crystal, Commander.” The young red head saluted. “So, it’s true then? You chose him?”
The commander stooped low; her harsh features softening. “When you’re old enough, you will understand. Now, be good and return the mask.”
Dragging her heels, Nabooru relinquished the stone mask. “Here.”
Reunited, I looked down at the gaping mouth that had taken hours to carve. If this mask could talk, no doubt it would rebuke me for leaving it all alone. I hugged it, ignoring the quizzical glances of the Gerudo. If they saw no value in masks they could never hope to understand. Which reminded me.
“You promised I could see my friends.”
“I always keep my word, this way,” Kavia gestured to the open doorway. “Oh, and Nabooru, before you disappear, you can show us where you found that mask as well.”
The little thief made to protest, but decided against it. “Of course, Commander.”
Outside, the wind and sand struck relentlessly. I squinted through the stone mask trying to follow my guides and survey my surroundings at the same time. We trudged up a slight incline towards a set of archery targets. The surrounding cliffs provided better shelter here and the sand behaved itself.
There we saw the horses flicking their long tails and chomping on straw from a trough. Not just the large black stallions I had already seen but shorter varieties too. I suppose the younger Gerudo have to start somewhere, I mused before spotting something of interest amongst the group.
“Hello there, Toffee.”
I patted the brown hackney but he didn’t acknowledge me. Despite his nasty fall, Toffee seemed none the worse. In fact, surrounded by his kin he looked positively content. I couldn’t blame him. Being bombarded by Stalchildren, bandits and fire arrows must have terrified the poor thing. Still, I knew Yasei would be glad to know he was safe.
We stood in silence watching as Kavia spoke with the stable hand.
“Hey, Mr, do you really want to marry the Commander?” Nabooru asked.
“She is… erm… lovely, but I barely know her. I know that’s the way for some marriages, but being kidnapped and imprisoned is hardly ideal for a lasting relationship.”
“You were lucky. Some of the other raiding parties don’t leave survivors. The Commander doesn’t want to kill people for no reason, but that makes King Ganondorf really mad.”
“Yes, Kavia mentioned something about the king having little tolerance for failure.”
“He’s worse than that, he’s — just — so — mean.” She stamped her feet. “I don’t care if one Gerudo boy is born every hundred years. Why does he get to be king? The commander gets upset if I say so, but Ganondorf is nothing but a big fat bully. He bosses people around and those witch sisters that hang around him? They give me the creeps.”
So, the Gerudo had problems with their king too? I could not judge, King Hyrule wasn’t exactly in my good books at the moment. I thought about the other races across the land; the Gorons, Zora, Sheikah and Kokiri. What were their leaders like?
“Perhaps when you’re older you might be able to do something about all this,” I said to Nabooru.
“Huh?” She cocked her head to one side. “Me?”
Again, I wasn’t entirely sure. I suspected the Goddesses had plans for this child. The same vibrations I felt whenever magical forces were nearby were definitely coming from her.
“Anything can happen in the future. Believe in your strengths.”
“What does that even mean?” Her nose wrinkled up. “You know what, Mr? You’re a weird voe.”
I chuckled and then looked back at her with hooded eyes. “Ah, you don’t know the half of it, my dear.”
“Hey, come on over to the stables.” Kavia beckoned.
Nabooru gave me one last scowl before following the Commander.
How nice to have all the answers for a change. I could get used to this.
These stables held every possible comfort; from the soft brushes, horse shoes of every size, a surprising amount of hay and the smell was not particularly dire either. Inside the stalls, some occupants bobbed their heads up and down. Others snorted loudly whilst clopping the floor with their hooves.
I was transported back to Kawaranai in the spring, when the pumpkin fields were ploughed every year by a large shire horse. He’d been a gentle giant, fond of apples and whiskers that tickled your chin. The children absolutely adored him. Tilting the fertile soil was easy enough for him leaving wide muddy furrows perfect for planting. Nothing like the hard, sandy ground here in Gerudo valley.
“Sav’otta, and how are you this morning?” Up ahead, Kavia sat on her haunches as she spoke.
That must be a very small horse, I thought.
“Wouldn’t touch the scraps I gave him, Commander. Not even the cucco bones I saved especially.” The stable hand huffed.
Hang on, cucco bones? I found myself trembling, spirit lifted by the smallest of hopes.
Something between a high-pitched whine and a strangled cry came from the heap of matted fur. He was panting, barely able to lift his head. His tail gave a half-hearted wag as it brushed the floor.
I ruffled one droopy ear; heat radiated from him like a furnace. This was not the same dare devil horse chaser from last night. His hind leg stuck out at a stomach-churning angle, and the bandages were soaked with blood. That tumble in the wagon had crippled him.
When the husky tried to lick my hand, he winced. “Sorry Kilton, I wish I had some biscuits for you.”
I had never owned a dog. Father always said they were noisy, messy and a waste of rupees. Yet meeting Kilton had changed my perspective. Yes, he gobbled his own weight in food and smelt to high heaven. He did stick his slimy nose in at the most annoying times and his barking was a hammer to the brain. But more recently, I believed the husky and I had turned a corner. No longer at odds over Yasei’s attention but working together as a pack.
“His wounds are severe,” Kavia warned. “There’s a powder that can make him sleep. It would be painless.”
“No.” I wrapped my arms around him. “I can heal him.”
“My voe, he can’t move and he can’t eat. I think it’s kinder to let him go.”
“I need an instrument, something to play.”
“Yes, anything.” I could see plenty of old buckets and saddles, but sadly no instruments.
Throughout, Nabooru kept her distance and stared warily at Kilton. Did Gerudo even keep guard dogs at the fortress? Memories of Ms Mila calling him a wolf at the Happy Mask Shop came to mind. Maybe this was the first time the child had seen a husky and she was frightened.
“Can you really help that scruffy furball?”
Fool, not frightened — just insensitive!
“Of course, I can.”
“Fine, try this,” she said. “I use it to call the horses.”
“Oh, a penny whistle?” Maybe it was the obsession with snakes and swords, but I did not expect the Gerudo to be musically inclined. “Thank you, Nabooru.”
“You see how less words work, my voe?” Kavia grinned.
Right, no more excuses. You have an instrument now play the song. It can’t be that difficult.
But I had only heard Azamuku recite the Song of Healing once. Back when I pleaded for Carter’s soul on Hyrule Field. My mouth went dry. What if Kilton was too far gone? What if he turned into a mask too?
Hesitation struck like a viper.
Carter’s mask still haunted me. Having no family to speak of I couldn’t decide what to do with the damn thing. Selling to the unaware would be barbaric, but a burial didn’t seem right either. In the end, I’d locked it away in the darkest corner of my shop’s storage. Hoping I would never have to see it again.
Kilton whimpered. His blood shot eyes begged for help.
Yasei would never forgive me if I did nothing. I brought the instrument to my lips and winced at the appalling sound.
“Don’t blow so hard, Mr. It’s not a candle.”
“I’m doing my best,” I growled in frustration.
“Focus on what you know and the rest may come.”
When Azamuku played the song with such grace, my heart had filled with an all-encompassing serenity. He’d made it look so easy. I knew it worked, but that didn’t mean I’d be happy to play it. Sorcery and song in bed time stories were often morals in disguise after all.
“What a beautiful melody,” Kavia remarked. Her head swaying gently.
So, this was how it worked. My possessed fingers moved of their own accord; a side effect of the magic weaved within the song.
Nabooru gasped. “Something’s happening.”
A pink haze swirled around Kilton. His fur stood on end. The husky hypnotized by tiny aureate lights dancing around his nose.
When the air became heavy and pressed down on me, Nabooru’s penny whistle became a deadweight.
Do you remember who gave you this gift? You must, if you have chosen to use it.
My shoulders tensed. Unwelcome words chased away the promising calm.
A promise is a promise after all.
I played on, even though I knew then, that Azamuku was not a bad dream. He saw this as another favour and he would plague me until I paid my debt. Until I stole the Triforce, I would never be free.
Featured art: Alison Brunyee via Canva.com
Alison Brunyee (Otwl) is an Original Content Editor for Zelda Dungeon. She likes reading manga and collecting Japanese wind chimes. Her favorite Zelda game is Ocarina of Time, but she is currently battling through A Link to the Past. For a bit of escapism during this tough time, check out more fan fiction from her alter writing ego – Otwl. Stay safe x