The pyre came with the death of every Hylian Royal. In the light of a full moon, a pyramid of wood was built on the royal grounds. Oil would paint the walls in the Triforce. The wooden coffin would be carried inside, and the entire structure would burn.
Zelda's coffin was filled with a blanket of the Royal Crest draped over the box. Silent Princesses; a blue-and-white flower, were laid out across her body. She had been dressed in her favorite outfit, which had become dirtied and torn after Agahnim had taken her. At the king's insistence, the designers had worked the intervening days cleaning the dress and repairing it in full rather than craft a new one. With her favorite clothes on, hand's clasped together, and eyes closed, she looked more as if she was sleeping than...dead. even know, she looked as she always had; brilliantly beautiful. Lord Dragmire stood behind the casket, waiting; a one-man pallbearer crew, ready to deliver Zelda to her rest.
King Phameekhan Harkinan stood over the coffin. Bent knees faintly poked out from the ceremonial robes. Fingertips sliding around the goblet of olive oil in one last effort of resistance; Impa recommended hold it with two hands after what happened in rehearsal. With the pyramid looming behind Lord Dragmire, the slick liquid was slinking back and forth around the rim. Torches were all around them in the night, the crackling filled his ears. Every pop was cannon fire. What good is a father if he can't protect his own child? And somehow, he was still allowed to be King? The fact that they got so close without him knowing...
Sheik had rallied the defenses early. Scattered enemy forces and luring them into every trap they had. The best case-scenario of whatever Hyrule could muster. It was not enough. Where one monster fell, two more arose out of shadow. The defenses slowly collapsed under the horde's sheer wait. Link had been nowhere to be found at the start either. He must have been protecting Zelda. Guess they were both failures. Ever since Link had lead the army out of Hyrule, the remaining citizens had been venturing out into caves; anticipating Ganon's return and the final destruction of Hyrule.
A squeeze on both shoulders. "It's okay." Impa steadied his hands with her own. "The goddesses are waiting for her."
"Y..yes. I suppose so." The King gave Zelda one last kiss on the forehead. The oil flowed down Zelda's body with a tiny but sickening splatter.
I love you father. Please, believe in yourself. Hyrule needs you more than ever.
The goblet slipped out of his hands, popping into the crowd and earning a gasp from all that saw.
Lord Dragmire caught it with three fingers. "Excuse me, My King," he handed it back to Phameekhan. "are you alright?"
King Phameekhan grabbed the grail and quickly recused himself. "Yes. Thank you. Please proceed."
"As you command." Dragmire slid the lid over the coffin, the king steadily watching Zelda's face be cut off from view.
Goodbye, my Zelda. I hope you and your mother are happy together. I promise I will not fail the kingdom as I have failed you.
Zelda's coffin was closed, and Lord Dragmire began the trudge the center of the pyramid. King Phameekhan grabbed a prye torch. "You're right, its time."
Impa approached the ceremonial gong. When the pyre had started and the pyramid was sealed, she would ring it to begone the rite of passage hymns.
Impa nodded. Teams of 3 druidic torchbearers were cloaked in black, lined up against each side of the pyramid, kneeling in prayer as the King as his lady-in-waiting approached.
The torchbearers finished their last rites. Taking the torches staked in the ground next to them, the druids ignited the firewood. The heat had sweat pouring down the King's head. His brow, his cheeks, his nose, his eyes. Lord Dragmire returned from inside the pyramid, hands gripped on the entrance to swiftly close it. "Ready when you are, my King."
Holding up his torch, Phameekan could just make out the front end of the coffin. In moments, two decades of love, life, light, would all be reduced to ash and bone.
It was for the best.
"Let the pyre begin!"
Phamekhan threw his torch inside the pyramid. Lord Dragmire slammed the door closed. The walls of the pyramid caught fire.
Impa rang out the gong.
Zelda pushed the lid out to the floor. Smoke poured into her lungs, forcing her to turn her back on the fire around her. The coffin's limited fresh air was fleeting. Fast. Her right hand began glowing golden.
Swirls of colored light. flourished around Zelda. Her being melding into the space around her. Flesh vaporized into nothing as she transformed to a wave of light between the swirls, they too disappearing in an instant. Through the opening at the top of the ceiling, Zelda floated above the burning pyramid; looking down a the crowd of Hylians in mourning. Her father, Lord Dragmire, and Impa chief among them.
I'm sorry father. I won't be gone for long. I promise.
Farore's Windwarping had her at the forest tree line in a flash. The air glowed in another brilliant whirlwind of light; Zelda emerge from the center. The cool air of the woods welcomed her back to Hylian form. Crickets were in a lively clamor all around her. Heh, look at that. Days of being trapped in her own body made her year for the most annoying sound on the planets: crickets. But enough of that. Impa would be here soon enough, and they could get started. She took rest on a log, her pyre glowing orange in the not-too-distance. She choose instead to looking at the golden glow in her hand. The Triforce of Wisdom.
Everything had taken a turn for the worse. Link was gone; being hunted like an animal. Everyone in Hyrule was preparing for the end of the kingdom. She had to do something now. She looked at her right hand. No matter how faint, Link's presence, his hope, had always been something she had clung too. And now it was gone. In the dungeons, he had pushed her forward. Whether at each other sides or fighting through several pocket of the insidious, he was always in her heart. He was giving his quest everything he had, driving her to do the same. And now her knight was gone.
Conjuring the power of the Triforce, she reached out to the world. The other pieces of the Triforce could never hide from her. And yet...the only Triforce was His. That sinking feeling of eternal darkness. How could she ever forget? That abyss of evil that lingered overhead no matter where their battles took them. Watching. Waiting.
Joke was on him though. They beat his beats monsters. They kicked his door down. They beat him. They beat him together. And there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it. And they would do it again. Together. He was alive. He was alive, damnit. The fact that He only had the Triforce of Power was proof of that in itself. Maybe some of the remaining fairies had recued him and was suppressing his energy from detection. She just needed to use more of the Triforce's power to reach him. Concentrate. Concentrate...
"Aaah!" She keeled over; her skull made a nasty thud against the ground. She was too busy clutching at her side to even notice. A serrated knife; specifically made to rip and tear through every speck of flesh as manically as possible. What else would Agahnim use to bleed Link? Only the Triforce itself could stabilize her on the brink of death. With every second, the gash was stinging even more. Playing dead was far too easy. And since the dead can't heal themselves, recovery wasn't an option. Impa had brought several medicines in the intermittent days to be safe than sorry; hopefully she had a lot more somewhere. Zelda had managed to steal a few glimpses at herself in brief talks with Impa over the past few days, the pale reflection wasn't inviting.
I'm too weak to... make myself better. This is a sick joke.
She leaned against the rock. Her fingers tapped the wound in her side. Every touch made the pain flare up. She kept drumming her fingers on it anyway. Something was wrong. Well, a lot of things were wrong, but there was something right now that was nagging at her...
I'm still in my princess clothes! She whipped her head around. If I get caught now...
Clutching her wound, Zelda stood up. Sleep was for the dead, so why was she still the princess?
A flash of brilliant light engulfed a spot in the forest. Gone was Princess Zelda, and in her place stood a figure of shadow.
There was answer for this. All of this. An answer in a place where a princess couldn't go. Especially now.
It's time for Zelda to stop feeling sorry for herself. She shouldn't be feeling anything. She's dead. And still wasting time. Link is hiding somewhere. Somewhere even Triforce users can't track. Impa probably has a a few ideas and plan...but what if she doesn't? He looked at his hand. "You're supposed to be Triforce of Wisdom. Give some! Nayru, I know you have an answer for this, I just need to find it! Please! Give me a direction to look and I'll do the rest!" He reached deep into its power. No matter how bad she had it, Link had it somewhere worse. He saw Zelda die. Sheik had to live to reunite them. He just needed to go a little farther...
Sheik dropped hand to the dirt with a scream. The stab wound. The pain. It had spread through the entire body. It was like being set on fire from the inside? Poison? Or something worse...
As Sheik's eyes closed, it stopped mattering.
Zelda's eyes snapped open. She'd been spotted. A dead princess what was supposed to be burning, casually sleeping int he forest. How could she forget to change into her Sheik clothes and—wait no, she was in her Sheikah outfit. And nobody seemed to be around. Was that a dream? Something had shaken her awake. It was...a yell, right? Someone's voice was ringing between the ears.
He hobbled up to his feet, bumping his side up against a tree. "My wound!" He looked down.
The wound wasn't hurting at all.
Sheik realized his arms were trembling; fingers caught in a rhythmic wriggle. The air. It felt charged with energy. It tasted like...like...
Sheik wiped away the olive oil off his face. Great. Nothing like smelling like a salad.
"What could be making such an awesome force?" He looked at the Triforce. It wasn't making a reaction, but this kind of power was too great for the Triforce to ignore it. It had to be Link. No one else could generate this kind of power. He was already unable to sense Link's Triforce before. Link would definitely have an explanation for all of this. "And now to pinpoint the source."
Sensing the location of such power was too easy. Somewhere near Lord Dragmire's manor. "Link did use to live there as a farmhand. Did he sneak back in? Hiding in a place he felt comfortable made sense enough." Dragmire Manor wasn't far at all. Even on foot. Sheik could use a good warm-up. And the energy was fading fast.
Running through the woods never felt so good. She'd done it so many times a chore, she could do it blindfolded. Which Impa made her do during her Sheikah training. The woods had lost that magic about it over the years. Many things had. But tonight, the leaves whistled as she blew past, the branches pointed her to the next step. The forest was alive. And it was with the Sheik. They were united; if only for a blink.
Reaching the end of the woods, Sheik looked up at the the manor on the hill. The top window was broken.
Windwarping up to the top of the hill, Sheik found glass and white chunks of something under the window. That looks like one of Lord Dragmire's head sculptures. Who would throw it out the window? Is this a...this is a robbery isn't it? Overhead, Sheik heard voices. Not in any language he understood. Something's wrong. I need to move. The air swirled around her again. "Gah!" Sheik leaned over against the wall, clutching her hip. It's back. I need to move fast. Front door it is.
No one seemed to be keeping watch at the entrance. Sheik pulled on one of the doors. Locked. He pulled out a needle, tinkering inside the heyhole. They bothered to lock the door, but gave themselves away by breaking a window? Maybe someone stayed behind and there was a struggle?
The right side of her body erupted with a sting as Sheik swung the door wide open. I cant believe someone would steal from Lord Dragmire; after everything he's done for us. And during my funeral, no less! Oh, they are going to pay. Another broken sculpture of Lord Dragmire was sprawled out in the foyer. Again, ahhh!...with the sculpture. Do they have a vendetta against Lord Dragmire? These have to be good-for-nothing scoundrels.
Marching forward, Sheik reached the upper stairwell and saw an absolute cluster of all of the clothes and cabinets on at the top of the upper stairwell. "By the goddesses!" Three quick steps up the stairs and Sheik keeled over the bannister. "Kyaah!" She was gasping for air, breaking out into a sweat. With both hands on the railing, she made her way up. The bandits were in Lord Dragmire's bedroom. He could hear it. The pain was pouring in with every step, her grip on the banister tightened. She slipped on a chunk of marble, screeching as her body flexed to stay upright and streeetching that pain across her body.
Climbing to the top of the stairs, Sheik beheld the mess in front of him. Dressers, drawers, and all manner of apparel was strewn around. Then she saw the person in Lord Dragmire's room. They locked eyes.
Just for a second, all that green made Zelda think Link.
But no, this person had blue over their green and a dumb symbol in their hat and definitely smaller than Link (but they had a bigger gut), and nowhere near as handsome...
And they just slammed the door in Sheik's face. And was sliding something behind the door.
Even getting ready to jump was too much strain on her side. Sheik tip-toed through the wreckage and reached the door. Not going to be that easy, you ass.
Sheik put his hand to the door. Turning into light and blending in with the air, his hand pushed into the door, reaching out and clamping down on something, returning to form. It quickly left his grasp. Impa had told her to just stay invisible when lightshifting, but Link had told him before that the sight of him lightshifting was unsettling. The rest of Sheik lightshifted through the door and Lord Dragmire's bed; in full view. The thief was flat on his ass in shock.
The wound in her side was blaring; begging for her to hunch over; relieve some of the pressure. Sheik couldn't. No sign of weakness allowed. It was only a lone robber. She could make this quick, but only while he was terrified.
Some wriggling, worm-like creature slinked themselves closer to the both of them. It was unsettling to look at. It noticed Sheik and hissed.
Sheik held up his hand. The Triforce of Wisdom glowed to life as light materialized in her palm. The burst flashed out and struck the creature. Leaving only a whiff of smoke.
He held up her hand at the robber. "Who are you?! What were you trying to steal from here?"
The thief looked wide-eyed; first at him, then at the smoke, then back at him, then back to the smoke. He was stammering out something, but it was completely unintelligible. Not that this schmuck seemed intelligent to begin with. They looked Hylian, so what language was that?
"Hylian you whoreson, do you speak it?!" Light was building up in Sheik's palm.
The robber blinked. He held a finger up and his hand. It started glowing. That can't be good.
Sheik fired off the light energy in his hand. Right into the scoundrel's kneecap. He thrashed on the ground, hat falling off to the floor. He was hollering in agony; pain was the universal language. Sheik looked up and saw a portal behind the thief as he was rolling on the floor in pain. He wasn't planning on running off into the woods at night. He's going somewhere far with that portal. And maybe he hadn't come alone. Someone could come for him at any moment.
"Are you ready to talk now?" He held his hand at the ready. "Or should i just kill you and walk through that and see what you were planning to do?"
The robber was on his hands and knees. A light was still glowing in his hand.
"Let's start with that. Did you take whatever was in your hand? I can promise you, you aren't leaving with it. You've already lost a leg and-"
The robber sprang up to his feet, hopping around a bit on one leg. He planted his foot into the floor. It gave a little at first, but every time he stamped it, it was getting firmer under him. Was that...were those cracks under his feet?
What in the world? Sheik had blasted him right in the knee. That kind of blast at the knee would down a Moblin! The hole in his outfit was still evident...and somehow, his pants were stitching itself back together?! Who is this guy?
And now, he was going for his hat. As if The Sheik wasn't right before him! Her light magic wasn't working, he had to be more direct.
A loud smack echoed in the air. Sheik's knee dug as deep into the robber's face as fast as she could get it. His head cranked back and he staggered backward. Planting the leg made the pain just too much to ignore. Sheik dropped down low on the landing, she sucked the wind through her teeth. Just kneed a few more and this will be over.
The thief felt his face and slid a quick finger under his nose. No blood. Not even a cucco-egg on his forehead. That didn't hurt either? It's that thing in his hand. Whatever it is. I have to take it from him! But I need to stun him first. No time for my light magic.
Sheik leapt up for another knee. The robber caught his knee and held Sheik's body weight in the air. With. One. Hand.
He didn't even move back. He just stopped my momentum dead in-
He launched her backward. She crashed through the door back-first. Wood went flying everywhere.
Zelda screamed. Chunks of door broken off in her body, several had pierce her side near the wound. She turned on her stomach, trying to scramble away. The pain. Goddesses, the pain. Every splinter was magnified tenfold.
Sheik felt a body lurch over him. He turned over and slashed out with his dagger in the right hand. The thief jumped back. They always did.
With his left hand, Sheik pulled out two kunai. One for his throat, one for his eye. Sheik swung his body forward, throwing the kunai as best he could. "Hrrn!" She fell back on her stomach, clutching it even harder. She put her hand one of the wood chips. It was like getting murdered all over again. Her side felt like it was about to burst...
Wait. It wasn't hers.
Sheik opened one eye. The robber was double over, stumbling back. A kunai dropped from out of his hand to the floor.
I got him. Sheik pressed against the floor, getting his chest up. His legs kicked around, propelling him forward any way they could. His knees slid under him. Reaching up to a cabinet, Sheik pulled himself up to his feet. The robber's hand was glowing.
You're NOT getting the chance.
Sheik charged forward. Grabbing the robber's shoulders and arm, Sheik anchored down. The robber dropped down until Sheik's foot slammed his jaw back into his skull. Sheik's other foot slashed down a on the back of his neck, and the robber rolled onto his back. His glowing hand was right in front of Sheik.
"Let's see what's so important!" Sheik wrenched back and took the robber's arm with her. She pried at his fingers, the light intensely shining between them. His finger refused to budge. That was fine. Sheik pulled his forearm back even move. His elbow was nudging further and further, grinding the nerves and bone in his arm. The elbow would pop through all the way momentarily. The fool was flailing his arms and legs around. Sheik's leg was on this throat. He wouldn't even see his arm snap in two. But oh, would he feel it. His hand flashed with a blinding light.
Zelda felt herself go forward. She looked at the robber's arm. His elbow was angling back out, arm rising up and carrying her with it. She tried to anchor back down and sink his arm again, but it was determined to haul her forward. The robber still had his body pinned down under her, but his legs where in standing position; planted firmly on the floor from the knee down. What is he trying to do?
Sheik wasn't going to find out.
Lifting his leg high up, Sheik brought it right down back on his throat. He heard a gasp, and slipped halfway back to the floor. Sheik swung his leg down again. Her back was against the floor again.
Okay, you're tougher than you look, but-
The robber's other hand grabbed her ankle and pulled it if off his neck. The robber lifted his head up just enough to slide Sheik's foot underneath, pinning it.
That's impossible! No one should be able to do that! Sheik brough his other foot down on the robber's stomach.
The robber reached for her other foot. Sheik swung her arm out of reach, then slammed it back on the robber's fingers, pinning crushing them between boot and stomach.
Too easy. And now...
Sheik rolled on his shoulders. Her waist shot up, back arching up onto her shoulders. The robber's arm bent back even deeper as it sloped down. "I'll rip you're whole arm off!" Zelda put her head back in a wince. With only one foot planted, and agony in her side from the stab wound, the door...her side was quivering, dark splotching in her costume getting bigger and bigger...
The pain ran up and down her spine. Her back collapsed to the floor. The robber's arms tried to slide out, but she caught his wrist at the last second.
I'm not letting go. I'm not letting go. I'm not letting go.
The robber pushed up off hiss feet, turning over on his side. Her other foot gave out and he snatched his arm free. Turning over on his side to his knees, the robber grabbed Sheik's arm with his free hand, shrugging off her weak kicks. From his knees, he got on one foot. Then the other.
I'm not letting-
The robber hoisted them up overhead. A quick rush of air coming back down. Her head was plummeting the fastest to the floor.
Oh, how can you be so cold
When there's a fire burning?
How can you be so cold
When all the ice is melting?
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