Posted on March 20 2020 by Alison Brunyee
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The rain lashed down in thick, heavy sheets. My every step fought against the wind as I followed Carter back into the pit of hell itself. It blew against the Hylian soldiers, forcing them to dig their heels into the slippery earth.
At the Gerudo Valley Pass, the monster horde swelled in number. Lizalfos and Moblins joined the fray, splitting into two large groups. They attempted to flank the Hylians, engaging them in several directions at once.
“They’ll be overrun!” I cried.
But Carter shook his head. “Don’t be so sure, look.”
General Impa bounded across the plain. She drew her Giant’s Knife and ploughed through half of the enemy. Her broad strokes sliced the monsters to ribbons, before they too disappeared into dark smoke. Crafty Lizalfos launched bomb arrows, forcing the Sheikah to jump from her horse in an explosion of bright orange and red flame.
Despite the setback, she dashed forward, quickly rising in a backward slam into the Lizalfo archers. The creatures spat in retaliation before meeting their demise. She turned her attention to the lanky Moblins who ran in the opposite direction.
“Had enough already? I’m not done with you yet!”
The monsters were dragged into a swirling ball of bubbling water. With enough Moblins caught in her trap, General Impa slashed them away with a heavy blow. The water became a sky of menacing daggers that rained down on the survivors making them scatter. She hunted, swinging her sword in ferocious crescents of teal, sapphire and turquoise. The colors bled together as if smeared by an artist’s brush but when the last Moblin disappeared, so too did the magical beauty.
Is this the magic of the Sheikah tribe? I thought with awe. So many years of research and I found nothing. No wonder the Royal Family keeps such things secret.
With the threat neutralized, cheers erupted and weapons were thrust skywards in triumph. Soldiers chanted the general’s name, good spirits infectious as they slapped each other on the back. I searched amongst them, but no Guru-Guru. Behind me, the shadow of Death Mountain now stood to my right, a reminder of the lands and people we had defended.
“I wouldn’t,” Carter said.
That was my first mistake, for not every soldier had survived. Bodies lay face down in the mud, unmoving. The wind stole my breath. I covered my mouth to reclaim it.
Any remaining troops regrouped behind the general and the king, continuing to protect the line that separated Gerudo Valley from Hyrule Field. The tide of battle now flowed in our favor as the enemy fled.
“Best move to the side, Ronri.” Carter caught my arm, (quite roughly I might add), and steered me away from the central rows. “You’ll be in the way.”
“But I thought it was over.”
He gave me a lob sided smile. “If only.”
Above, the rolling grey clouds turned jet black. Zizzing forks of lightning flashed and claps of thunder made the horses rear, riders straining to keep control of their mounts.
“I’ve never known such a storm!” I yelled to Carter over the gale.
“This isn’t natural,” he agreed.
King Hyrule squinted against the rain. His neck snapped up, back towards the cliff tops of Gerudo Valley.
I followed the king’s line of sight and gasped. “Is someone floating up there?”
Not just one person, more like a wall of fifty hooded figures. A strange green aura pulsing through their grey robes.
“I was wondering when they were gonna show,” Carter said. “Interloper scum.”
One figure swooped forward and threw back its hood. A man with long silver hair raised his arms to the storm. His arms a maze of extraordinary tattoos. He had talons instead of fingers and white eyes with no pupils so you had no idea where he was looking.
“Stand firm!” I heard the king shout before swords banged on shields. Except, it wasn’t coming from our side. Another army; with red plumed helmets and broadswords mirrored our own. The Interlopers hovered above. They smiled and held out their open palms.
What are they doing? I cocked my head.
Somehow, I hit the floor, but not before the soldier next to me disintegrated. The wind caught his ashes and whisked them away. Another soldier disappeared, then another, and another. The traitors poured out onto the fields. Who was friend and who was foe? I couldn’t tell anymore. Swords clashed. Yells and shouts deafening as I ran through the chaos. Ice shards flew and froze their victims on contact. The traitors pounced, shattering the helpless ice captives with eager blades.
Carter sought revenge. His deadly aim slicing a way through. He dragged me along again. “This way,” he kept saying. “This way.”
Was it wise to put my life in the hands of a swordsman? At that moment, I couldn’t trust myself not to panic. All thoughts of finding Guru-Guru were abandoned, replaced with a selfish desire to live. Boulders rained down from the sky; I coughed through dust clouds, wishing for the misery to end.
“Barricade,” Carter shouted in my ear, before throwing me under.
Beneath the wooden posts, I rubbed at helpless tears with my tunic, leaving a rosy stain. Should I pray? Will the Goddesses even hear me? An explosion too close for comfort made me jump. Panic coiled around my chest as I rocked myself like a child. Oh, please let me survive this. I promise I’ll never raise a weapon again; I swear.
The anthem of war had been playing for so long that it had become an ear worm. So it took a while before I realized that the noise had ceased. I gathered what little courage I had and raised my head over the splintered remains of the barricade.
“What in Hyrule?” I stared, fire arrows and ice crystals hung in mid-air. Monsters and men, still as statues, looked like playing pieces on a giant board. Rain drops popped as I wandered through them, and a bolt of lightning had stopped just before hitting the ground. Such eerie silence gave me the creeps, until I heard a familiar voice up ahead. My heart leapt as I broke into a run.
“Don’t you think this has gone far enough, Azamuku?”
Carter? My thoughts were a jumble. It sounded like Carter, but he was standing side by side with the silver haired man from before.
“You know how difficult the king can be. There will always be casualties of war.”
The voice from the wall? I tried to reconcile the warped stone that had fled when I tried to touch it, with the mage folding his hands into the sleeves of his robes.
“We agreed lives would be spared on both sides.”
“Yes, and they shall be. Who is better equipped to control the Triforce; a king who obeys the Goddesses without question and keeps it for himself? Or the enlightened, who understand the Sacred Realm’s essence and will use it for the good of all?”
Carter growled. “You’re the scholar, not I. We need to find the king before the spell wears off. No one can know about this.”
“Curious,” Azamuku said, “that may not be possible.”
Both heads twisted in my direction and a sudden sinking feeling developed.
Ah, that was not for my ears…
The swordsman looked aghast, he rounded on his companion. “How is this possible? You said everyone would be frozen in time.”
Azamuku glanced at me and shrugged. “The magic had no effect on him, you know what to do.”
Carter drew his sword.
“Sir, w-w-what are you doing?” I backed away, not liking the look in his eyes. “Please, I’ll keep quiet. I don’t even know what’s going on, truly.”
“I can’t take the risk,” he said. His voice dangerously low.
“But you’re a senior officer of the king!”
He stepped forward. “Should be, didn’t you hear me at the camp? Should be! I’ve dedicated my life to serve the king, and for what? To be passed over for captaincy time and time again.”
“But I trusted you.”
“Sad fact of life,” Carter said as he lifted his sword. “You shouldn’t trust anyone.”
Why? I haven’t done anything wrong!
Suddenly, his eyes went wide as saucers. His mouth gaped open and closed like a Hylian Bass. “Deceitful… Traitor…” The soldier dropped his sword and staggered forward.
“Never truer words spoken.” Azamuku pulled the dagger out of Carter’s back and kicked him away.
Horrified, I caught the falling man and dropped to my knees. “I’ll help you; I’ll help you,” I kept saying, even though his blood seeped through my fingers.
“Forgive me,” Carter begged as he squeezed my arm. “I never meant… I only wanted to stop the war. You believe me, don’t you?”
“Don’t talk.” I cradled him trying to offer some form of comfort. “Save your strength.”
“You’re wasting your time,” the Interloper said as he slowly wiped his blade. “Haven’t you heard of Poes?”
I swallowed. “The elders told me once that they’re spirits of the dead. They become monsters due to unresolved attachments in the mortal world.”
“Please Ronri… please…” Carter’s words were a painful gasp.
“He won’t become one, will he?
“A man with regrets like that? Most certainly.” Azamuku smirked.
“No one deserves such a terrible fate. You’re a mage, you could heal him.”
“The body, no. His soul I will consider, in return for a promise.”
“As one magician to another, in the future I will have need of your aid. If I help this man, do you promise to help me when the time comes?”
One magician to another? Is that what I am?
The desperation on Carter’s face was too much to bear. “If you save his soul, I promise to do what I can.”
Azamuku nodded. “Very well.” He plucked at the air in front of him, long strands of glowing light came away and a hole began to form. The hole grew larger, and beyond… a starry purple sky. He reached through the gap and brought back with him a pan flute made from bamboo.
“How?” I spluttered.
“Opening a vortex to another world is mere child’s play.” He took the instrument and played a melody.
I listened to the slow music hypnotized. It was unlike any folk song or lullaby that I had ever heard. Hearing soft notes made me feel calm. No, more than that, soothed. My sorrows melted away into the song; nerves torn apart by horror weaved back together. I could only describe the sensation as one might feel after bed rest from an illness or a warm, hearty meal.
Tiny lights surrounded Carter’s body. He closed his eyes and smiled.
The lights flittered like fireflies on a summer evening, and when they had gone, only a mask remained. Two halves that told a story, Carter’s story. The left half of the mask was white and smiled, but the right was blood red and drowning in black tears. I went to pick it up and then hesitated.
“Fear not, the darkness in his heart has been sealed away inside this mask. His soul is now at peace.”
“It isn’t that, I have… blood on my hands.”
Azamuku produced a cloth. “The ‘Song of Healing’ is a gift from those whom you call Interlopers. I see you are shocked, for the king will not speak of our compassion only our destruction.”
“You killed innocent people. I saw you smiling when you turned those soldiers into ashes.” I scrubbed at my hands.
“That is true. We smile as the king orders soldiers to take our heads. We have been hated across generations for cultivating a magical power. Fear of the unknown always brings out the ugliness of human nature, don’t you think?”
A blinding yellow light engulfed Hyrule Field.
“Curse the Goddesses,” Azamuku hissed under his breath. “Why must they interfere?”
I couldn’t believe my eyes, was that really a golden serpent flying across the sky? The creature turned, bared its fangs and dived straight towards us.
Featured art: Alison Brunyee via Canva.com
Alison Brunyee 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. You can check out more fan fiction from her alter writing ego – Otwl.