Title: Darkness Rising
Author: Alex Foster
Feedback: Let me know your opinions by review or email. Thank you.
Summary: With the coming of a mysterious sorcerer, Zelda soon finds that friends are becoming enemies. And with the foretelling of a prophecy that speaks of Hyrule's downfall, Link must race against time to keep not only Hyrule safe but Zelda as well. As the prophecy nears reality, Link is forced to choose between the country he loves and the woman he has vowed to protect.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by Nintendo. No money is being made and no infringement is intended.
Notes: Many thanks goes out to StarDragon Blue for taking the time to beta read this story. Since the beginning of this journey she has diligently checked and rechecked every chapter. Her inspirational remarks and sharp-eyed criticism have truly made me a better writer. Thanks also goes out to Marlene for helping me with chapter twenty-nine. Laura for her belief in me and for the gift of a dustjacket to this story. Christina Joy Sanders for going above and beyond the call of duty and crafting just what I was looking for. And last but not least, the readers of this saga who have waited a long time for these parts. It took me awhile, everyone, but I got there. I hope you all enjoyed the ride.
"Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand-in-hand."
"She's a witch, I tell you!" the old woman spat as she was led away.
General Tarmag looked down at his princess, the flickering torchlight casting deep shadows over his face. "Treason, murder, and witchcraft. Serious accusations," he said. "Anything to say before you are judged?"
Zelda felt the cold stone floor bite into her knees through her thin shift as she knelt in front of the Captain of Guards. One large, hot tear rolled down her cheek as she looked up at him. "For what purpose?" she asked quietly. "You have already made up your minds." She raised her voice so that the crowd could hear. "If any of you actually thought about what you were doing and why, you would see the error of it. I'm not the villain here. I'm not." The floor of the Great Hall rushed to meet her as her knees finally gave out. At nearly a hundred feet long, the Hall was the most important room in the castle next to the Throne room. It was here that she presided over balls and grand receptions. The smell of freshly baked bread still was pervasive throughout the room from the last banquet it had seen. It seemed like days ago, but a small condescending voice in her head reminded her it had just been hours. Unable to hold the tears back any longer, Zelda started sobbing.
A few of the spectators laughed.
"So be it." Tarmag drew his sword and laid the naked blade against her bare shoulder. "What shall do with this traitor?" he asked the crowd.
The Great Hall was filled with a single cry. "Kill her!"
"Run her through!"
"Yeah, hang her!"
Tarmag held out his hands for silence.
Reluctantly, they quieted down.
"Well, princess, it seems the people have decided." He sheathed his sword, and turned to the guards at the entranceway. "Hang her at dawn."
The crowd let out a shout of joy.
Two guards roughly grabbed her arms and lifted her to her feet. They bound her hands together with a cord. As they led her away, a tall man dressed in dark robes stepped in front of her. At his command, the guards obediently halted. He leaned in close so the crowd couldn't hear his words. "You should have taken my offer Princess," he said, his soft voice smooth as silk.
Zelda met his dark gaze. "Link was right. I never should have trusted you."
He smiled and shrugged. "We all make mistakes."
"And you made yours, Jarod. Link is still free, and you're as good as dead."
"Really?" He traced her jaw with a gloved finger. He ignored her flinch and continued. "Vox is out looking for him as we speak. He will find him and see to his death. Of that, I assure you. Sweet dreams, Princess." He nodded to the guards. "Take her away."
They bowed. "Yes, my lord."
Gripping her arms again, they led her out of the Hall and down Hyrule Castle's darkened halls to the dungeon.
They let her down a dark passageway with a low ceiling. The air was thick with the smell of dampness and decay. As she walked pasted heavy oak doors, filthy hands reached out through the bars and tried to grab at her.
Her ears burned at they made lewd offers to keep her warm for the night. Fear that the guards would indeed lock her up with those men formed like a knot in her chest.
They finally stopped at a cell at the end of the hall. Zelda nearly collapsed with relief as she peered through the bars on the door and saw that it was empty. Perhaps Jarod did not have the total control he sought.
One of her guards let go of her and pushed the door open. He leered. "Enjoy!"
One of the men behind her gave her a shove and sent her sprawling headfirst into the cell.
The guards laughed as she landed.
Without giving them the satisfaction of seeing her embarrassment, Zelda stood and pushed the slip down over herself again. "May I at least have some decent clothes to wear," she asked, trying to keep the quiver out of her voice.
"Dead women don't need no clothes," one of the guards said, then laughed at his own joke.
The door slammed shut, leaving her alone in the dimly lit cell.
Feeling her way along the floor, Zelda sat down in the far corner, she pulled her sore knees up and wrapped her arms around them. She wondered where Link was. From the way she treated him it wouldn't surprise her if he was a hundred miles from Hyrule.
In a way, she hoped he was. He tried to warn her, but she wouldn't listen. And because of that, she failed not only him, but the Triforce and the people of Hyrule as well.
Even the Triforce had abandoned her. In times of distress, she could always feel inside for the gentle glow of the Triforce of Wisdom, but not any more. When Jarod turned the guards against her, that glow had vanished.
Resting her head on her knees, Zelda closed her eyes.
Events of the past two days danced in her mind. Looking at them now, she saw things she had been blind to before.
Link had seen, he had known.
Eventually sleep came. Her last thoughts were of the man who had only tried to help her.
Impa pushed the door shut with a soft click and walked into her chambers.
The embers in the fireplace cast a dim glow into the room, lighting her way to its mantle.
Her hands found the oil lamp perched there. Taking a small piece of kindling from the fire, she lit the lamp.
The room grew in brightness as she raised the wick.
Holding the lamp, Impa turned and gasped.
Standing in the center of the room was a tall man shrouded in a hooded cloak.
"W-who are you?" Impa asked, her hands going to the dagger at her belt.
The cloaked man took a step forward and pushed back his hood.
"Oh, thank the Light," Impa whispered. Before her he stood, the man that prophecies spoke of with both admiration and fear. Wisps of light brown hair fell over his smooth brow but they could not mask the penetrating gaze of his eyes. Eyes that had seen too much for someone so young, the gaze of a warrior. As he moved Impa saw his cloak part to reveal the hilt of the sword at his hip. A sword that only one man could wield.
"Link," Impa said, "when you didn't come back I thought you—"
"I know. It couldn't be helped." He spoke quietly, but with strong confidence. "I need your help, Impa."