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The Book of the Hero - The fires of war (looking for critiques!)

Feb 26, 2022
Hey all, long time lurker first time poster here. Finally made an account as for the first time in many years of attempts, I'm finally writing somewhat regularly. A lot of this writing is focused on a stupidly ambitious project I've had in my head for years of trying to fill in much of the background and unknown elements of lore in a way that builds on and hopefully doesn't contradict any canon sources. Like many of you I love a good Zelda theory and have my own headcanon surrounding the many unanswered questions presented in the series.

This excerpt is the prologue of what I hope will eventually become The Book of the Hero, the novelisation of events leading up to Ocarina of Time as well as between Majora's mask and Twilight Princess, featuring the hero of time as the protagonist, but including viewpoints from original characters. You'll probably spot quickly that it's a retelling of the story of how Link came into the care of the Deku tree. This is the first piece of writing I've ever shared and I would love any and all feedback and critiques so I can improve my writing. If there's interest, I have two more chapters finished and ready to post. Thanks and hope you enjoy:)

The woman shuddered, as she pressed her back hard against the trunk of a broad tree, half in fear of being spotted, half to keep herself from toppling to the ground. Around her the night sky was a menacing, twisting twilight, burnished orange by the fires that threatened to engulf the forest. The smoke caught in her throat and choked her already tired lungs but she forced herself to suppress a cough. Where once there had been no sounds but the chittering of birds and rustling of leaves, the idyllic meadow she had called home now reverberated with the whistling of arrows, the clang of steel on steel…and the painful cries of death.

In her arms the bundle of linen and fur stirred and burbled sleepily. In the swirling shadows beneath the trees she caught glimpses of gold and grey, glinting in the firelight. They were moving swiftly in her direction. The woman forced herself into a sprint once more. The wound on her side screamed in agony; her dress matted with blood clung to her skin She ignored her pain and struggled onwards, dodging hanging branches and gnarled roots. Behind, she heard voices but, calling on what little energy she had remaining, pushed herself to move even faster.

The woods. She must make reach the woods. With any luck her pursuers would find themselves lost in there. If not…well she just hoped the stories her Mother told her about the guardian of the forest were true. As she ran on, stumbling occasionally on the uneven ground, she whispered a quick prayer to Farore, to send a wind at her back to keep her moving and guide the way through the labyrinthine Lost Woods. Though her lungs still burned with exertion, it felt to the woman that her legs were suddenly not quite so heavy, and the gash on her flank did not throb quite so painfully. With renewed hope, knowing that the Goddesses were watching over her, she sped onward, along the snaking forest trail until she reached the fallen trunk of what must have once been a gigantic tree.

The innards of the trunk had been hollowed out to create a sort of tunnel, so wide that four men could comfortably walk abreast. Through the tunnel could be seen nothing but inky black, and the trees on either side were crowded together so closely they made a natural palisade, impossible to see through.
Though she had grown up in the Temple of the Sacred Meadow, and spent much of her childhood in this forest, she had never seen this place and yet she knew from her mother's stories that this was the Lost Woods of legend. It was an ancient grove, said to be full of magic but dangerous to any human foolhardy enough to enter. It was said the entire woodland would shift and change location making it impossible to find.

When she was very young, maybe eight years old, she had set out into the forest to find this magical place, so that she might meet a fairy - a dream of hers. Yet somehow, no matter how far she roamed she always found herself back at the meadow, without any idea of how or when she had doubled back. Her Mother had scolded her, saying the Woods were forbidden, though she couldn't or wouldn't say why.

A muffled grumble from the bundle of cloth in her arms snapped the woman back to the present. Shifting some of the material revealed a round, pink face, a shock of golden hair and two little, pointed ears. The woman smiled at her son, though the expression felt strained and unnatural in that moment. The baby was fussing and squirming but remained remarkably quiet despite the stresses of their escape from the besieged temple.

"You're such a brave boy, little Link. Hylia willing, I will always be with you, come what may".

The woman winced as the pain crescendoed once more, and her knees buckled. She felt a warm trickle of blood run down her leg.

"Queen Castrelda, by order of the High Priestesses of the Gerudo you are required to come with us. Offer us no resistance and your child will be unharmed".

The Queen did not even turn to face the accosters, instead, clutching her child to her breast she forced herself to speed through the ancient trunk and into the gloom beyond. She could hear the Gerudo warriors cursing and scrambling after her, barking more commands in both Hylian and the sharp staccato of the Gerudo tongue. Castrelda's back tensed, expecting at any moment to see the cold blade of a scimitar protruding from her chest.

But as the Queen ran blindly through the dark passageway, the cries of her pursuers suddenly broke off, leaving only the thud of her footsteps on the wooden surface and the thumping of her heart - both equally frantic. Castrelda risked a quick glance over her shoulder but instead of heavily armed Gerudo women the Queen could see nothing but more gloom. Still, she dared not slow down even for a second though her wound burned terribly and her head was beginning to swim. She didn't know how much longer she could go on but she must reach the Deku tree. She must.

Panting heavily she emerged from the tunnel but to her dismay saw only more gloomy passageways leading off in all directions flanked by imposing, impassable thickets. She wasn't sure if her foggy brain was playing tricks on her but she heard the cries of the soldiers now echoing and faint, as if from a great distance.
No time to think. She dived through the nearest tunnel and was engulfed in darkness once again. On and on she ran. Everytime she emerged into the open air she was greeted with the same sight. Nowhere to go but yet more dank tunnels. Does this hellish warren know no end?

She was reminded of her first visit to Hyrule castle as a young woman. While her Mother had an audience with the King, she and her handmaiden had explored the sprawling Castle grounds. Giggling and skipping through the fragrant gardens, overawed at the splendor of the place, they had wandered into a tall hedge maze. They were lost for hours until a young Sheikah attendant heard their wails and rescued them. The King himself had comforted them afterward. He was so noble and gallant then.

On the Queen ran. Castrelda could hear other noises now. A soft tinkling, like delicate bells, children laughing and…music? Now she knew she was slipping into the spirit realm. Soon the divine wind that guided her tired footsteps would instead be blowing her spirit to the afterlife.

But Link. Her son. She couldn't leave him yet. Not yet. Just a little farther. Then he'd be safe and she could go to meet the Gods in peace.

An arrow whistled from the treetops and thudded into her ankle, piercing bone and sinew. With a cry of anguish the Queen sprawled to ground, twisting her body as she fell so as to not crush her precious burden, and landing heavily on her shoulder. Trying desperately to shield the infant with her body she looked bleakly up to see the Gerudo archer perched on a branch, knocking another arrow and aiming straight at the bundle in her arms. Now Link did begin to cry.

"N-No..plea..se..he's ju..st a b-boy", Castrelda sobbed.

"Follow the music" the laughing children's voices were saying. "Listen, and follow the music".

With an earsplitting screech, a great owl swooped from the sky, dive bombing the startled archer and swiping at her with long, vicious talons. The Gerudo woman yelled in alarm and fired wildly, her arrow thudding harmlessly into a tree trunk. The Queen stared numbly as the enormous bird snatched the helpless woman from the branch and carried her away over the trees and out of sight.

As her cries faded, Castrelda caught a snatch of the eery, playful melody she had thought was only in her head, seemingly coming from a tunnel off to her left. Holding her baby in her one good arm, and kicking and pushing herself along with her only usable leg, the Queen crawled her way into the murky depths. Every movement was agony and her breath rattled in her chest but still she dragged herself forward, following the music of the forest.

A soft twinkling and a warm light caused her eyes to flutter open briefly.

"A fairy", Queen Castrelda murmered softly. "I found you".


Queen Castrelda of Hyrule closed her eyes and Farore's wind blew through the secret grove of The Great Deku Tree. The ancient trees stirred and swayed, bowing their mighty heads in mourning, as leaves whispered and danced in the breeze.

At the foot of the colossal forest guardian, the infant Prince lay swaddled on the soft mossy earth. The children of the forest huddled around him, jostling to get a better look and conversing in hushed tones. Around their heads flitted the multicoloured lights of the fairies.

Beyond all odds, Link was asleep once more, despite everything, though he frowned and fidgeted, as if troubled by dark dreams.
May 31, 2024
Hey, i know it's been two years but great work! I'm surprised no one has commented yet after all this time. My only suggestion is that instead of it going like:

"A fairy", Queen Castrelda murmered softly. "I found you".


it should have the Queen maybe start to say something and try to explain to the Great Deku Tree why she is here. Maybe even apologize. I agree that the Great Deku Tree should already know what is going on, but Castrelda doesn't know that. I look forward to you writing more in the future.

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