A/N: Sooooo this chapter is super long. i considered splitting it, but in the end, i stuck with it. i couldn't pick a good break point without feeling like i would be putting up a nothing chapter. this one takes place at the Temple of Mudora. I modeled it after St. Peter's in Rome, only with 3 domes, and, well, you'll see. hope you like it, let me know what you think, and if you catch any errors! cheers.
Chapter 17: The Triforce of Wisdom
Zelda was brought out of her fitful slumber when Impa brought in a breakfast tray. Link had already retreated to his chambers to bathe and change, returning in time setting up a table out on the balcony. Dawn was breaking over the eastern horizon, a brilliant yellow disc rising slowly over the shadowed crags of the mountain. Her father arrived as she tied a thin green silk dressing robe around her waist.
They ate a quiet breakfast on her balcony, toasting to Zelda's birthday and her mother's memory. Zelda could feel warm summer weather was coming, but there was a cool breeze this high up and the views beautiful; the snow capped Night Mountains to the north, and the expansive farms and plains of Hyrule to the south. It was comforting to Zelda to be with the three people she loved most in the world, their laughter and conversation distracting her from the stress of this historic day. Her father was telling Link embarrassing stories of Zelda's penchant for running around the castle naked when she was five. For a moment, Zelda closed her eyes and it almost seemed like she was just a normal girl, eating with her family.
Link and her father excused themselves when Malon and Zelda's personal maid, Evelyn, arrived. The morning flew by as Zelda bathed and beautified herself. Malon and Impa helped to keep her mind clear, getting her talking about anything but the day's events. They talked about Link, in embarrassing detail for Zelda, her hair, her dress, and even about what to have for dinner. When they finally finished polishing her nails, and braiding her hair it was already the eleventh hour.
The calm reflection in the stand mirror belied the true feeling Zelda had in her stomach. Her long golden hair had been combed for hours, with two braids that hung from her temples to her breasts, wrapped in blue ribbon. The rest then layered up and braided around a special diadem her father gave to her for the day. The thin silver circlet had a beautiful blue star sapphire Triforce fixed to the center of her forehead, and it went perfectly with the necklace of Alish. Zelda had designed her own dress for the day, a sleeveless white gown with a plunging neckline, and a blue and white sash that was embroidered in ancient Hylian text and symbols. A tight bodice pushed up her modest breasts, and the sash hid a tight white leather sword belt to which she affixed the Lion Sword of the Gerudo and its blue and gold scabbard. To Zelda, today was a day for all her people, including the Gerudo, even if, strictly speaking, they weren't her own. The sword was symbolic of her inclusion of them in today's events, and Hyrule's birthright. The overall effect, at least in Zelda's estimation, made her truly feel like a woman.
After Malon had left to prepare, Link returned with Zelda's new guard outfit, and a surprise birthday gift. He had somehow found the original copy ofthe Legend of Talamora: the Warrior Queen, one of Zelda's favorite fairytales. It was written in Ancient Hylian on a faded yellow parchment, bound with a carved wood cover, whose blue paint had almost completely peeled away. Her repeated questions as to its origin were met with the impish smile Link put on when remembering past adventures. Perhaps it had been in some long forgotten temple? She would remember to pry the answer out of him later.
Link had been given the right to choose any four Guardsmen help serve in Zelda's personal Knight's guard. They weren't planning on making all the Guardsmen into Knights yet, but eventually, Zelda planned on bringing them back in full. Link had chosen Captain Morann, Corporal Troy, and somewhat surprisingly, two of the oldest cadets, Yamal and Comen Aimon. The Captain, to his credit, was showing no ill will towards serving under the command of a man with no military training or rank. Zelda had witnessed first hand the rocky beginning of their relationship, but from what Link had told her, mutual respect of each other's soldiering had kick started a budding friendship.
The day's events would be going on at the great Mudora Temple located in the northwest section of Castletown. The Temple would be open all morning and Zelda would make her traditional appearance where, she would ostensibly request a summer blessing from the Goddesses. Zelda's attempt to take command of the Triforce of Wisdom would commence following her supplication, under the guise of being the traditional birthday celebration in the stone amphitheatre in front of the Temple. Every year, despite Zelda's repeated requests and obvious embarrassment, a great parade of nobility and townsfolk, some who could barely afford flour, would overfill the twenty thousand seat amphitheatre, and one by one, town by town, bring her a gift from their family or village. Zelda could do little to discourage the practice, which had been tradition going back centuries of Hylian Princesses. She turned over almost all the gifts (there were always a few too cute to give away) which ranged from cakes to horses and livestock, to the Temple priests who ministered to Hyrule's poor. This year, finally, Zelda would present her people their own gift.
Captain Morann led the procession from the castle's west gate to the Temple. There would be no need for horses, as the Temple was almost right outside the castle walls. The long downward slope of the Borus Road, the main street of west Castletown, gave Zelda an excellent view of her citizens rushing to and fro; from the Temple to their shops, knocking of doors of neighbors and exchanging presents on this ancient holyday. The West Gate was thrown open, the white tents of the makeshift Gerudo city drawing Zelda's attention. At this distance, it was hard for her to tell what was going on outside the walls, let alone a few blocks with these crowds, but she could see the patrols heading out on their daily rituals. It was hard to miss one hundred tanned Gerudo, even this far way.
The great throng parted way as they caught sight of Zelda walking the city streets, surrounded by four redshirted castle guardsmen, and the freshly knighted Link, proudly in wearing a Knight's tunic, at her side. The one hundred-or-so long procession of Northern Army soldiers carrying halberds and pikes trailing behind them certainly didn't hurt her chances of getting room to walk either. It had been ages since Zelda had walked the streets of her city; somehow the demands of state or the temptation of walking privately in her gardens with Link had kept them within the castle since her return. She didn't realize how much she had missed it; the smells, the sights, and the sound of pure entropic civilization at work. Somehow her spirits were soaring, despite the chaos around her, perhaps because of it, and the anxiety that had come to define her the last few days. She smiled and waved at the people that stopped and gawked at her, shook hands with the elderly gentlemen and ladies bent over their walking sticks too old to care about getting out of the way, and hugged babies and children that didn't know better than to run right over to the beautiful princess.
She was also keenly aware, though she did not dwell on it, that each step away from the castle freed her mind from the overwhelming presence of the Triforce.It's still there though, still blazing like a sun in my mind, but for the first time in weeks, I can turn my back to it. Zelda quickly banished the thought from her mind, content to continue playing the part of carefree royal. The Triforce would take perhaps the rest of her life; these last few hours would be her own.
They rounded a corner and passed under a great black marble archway with large twenty-foot tall soaring hawk statues on either side, marking the entrance to the marvelous Temple grounds. They were so expansive it was almost criminal considering the overcrowding that Castletown had experience in recent years. It was still a mile from the gate to the soaring bronze doors of the Temple. Despite its massive size, it was almost impossible to see from the street because of the priests' apartments and walls that lined southern perimeter. Trees and flower beds dotted the landscapes of the many parks and graveyards that filled the enclosure of the Hylian Temple. The great gray stone cathedral sprawled over the grounds, the Night Mountain range behind it making a spectacular and dramatic backdrop when contrasted with its three towering golden domes, each topped with their own respective Goddess statue.
Between the gate and the Temple, there were thousands of citizens already saving their seats in the great bowl amphitheatre that sunk in concentric stone rings a hundred feet into the ground and three hundred feet in diameter at the top. Above them soared perhaps the most amazing of the great Sheikah builder's beautiful testaments to the Goddesses. Around the rim of the amphitheatre stood three gigantic statues, Din, Nayru and Farore, each holding up a piece of the true Triforce, the empty center parallel a small marble pedestal on the ground two hundred feet below.
Tens of thousands more people were hanging around the yellow and red brick promenade, finding shade under semi-circle colonnade that surrounded the bowled amphitheatre. It was forbidden to sell or trade on the temple grounds, but there were hundreds of booths where food was distributed free to the poor. Black robed priests and white robed priestesses were walking among the crowd, conversing with and passing out a sundry of household supplies to the needy. Zelda was nearly brought to tears at the sight of the dirty, tattered clothes some of the children were wearing.
For Zelda, it had been hard to remember at times the personal trials of her people while she lived so comfortably in her castle. Her tour of Hyrule had served its purpose as an economic mission, as well as a re-enforcement of the need of her people in Zelda's consciousness. Ganondorf's evil was bleeding into Hyrule, this was a truth that Zelda knew intimately now. There could be no predicting what would happen after today, but Zelda held onto the belief that it promised to be better than before.
The procession came to a halt at the edge of the amphitheatre. Captain Morann motioned for the North Army division to spread out along the square, and a larger ring of ten soldiers encircled the four guardsmen surrounding Link and Zelda. Zelda could sense the tension in Link through their bond, his blue eyes were surprisingly cold, calculating, and Zelda could almost hear his mind assessing the potential threat of each citizen. After the soldiers had sufficiently immersed themselves into the crowd, they continued on along the edge of amphitheatre, the populace again giving way, but occasionally Zelda would hear a brave soul shout out birthday wishes or catcalls from giggling young girls toward Link.
Zelda was surprised to see a group of black robed men carrying short swords and quarterstaffs exit the main doors of the temple. They marched in two single file lines around a long, lean, elderly man with a great white beard that muffled his face like a scratchy wool scarf. He was dressed in ornate gold and red robes complete with tall cap and a well polished shepherd-style staff. Around his neck was a heavy golden Triforce necklace that gave the impression of pulling his frail body to the ground. The soldiers were priests in the Order of Maltarn, the first Hylian priest ordained by Mudora. They superficially served as the personal guard for Vicar of Nayru, the High Priest of the Hylian Church. Sahasrala had been High Priest before Zelda's father was even old enough to take the crown.
It was a surprise for Zelda to see him because he rarely left his quarters in the Temple these days. He had been in poor health even before she had left on her journey, and there was doubt as to whether he would even make it out for the ceremony today. Their entourages melted into the background as Zelda greeted Vicar Sahasrala formerly, touching her finger tips to her head, lips, and heart before curtsying. It symbolized the desire that Hylians would keep the Goddesses' commandments in their minds, in their words, and in their hearts always. Sahasrala returned the greeting with a creaky bow, before wrapping the Princess in warm embrace.
"The months without you have seemed like years to one as old as I, Princess….it warms my heart to see this day has come at last. My Nayru bless you on your birthday my dear." Sahasrala croaked the words out, a wheezy coughing fit interrupting him. Zelda's grip lingered on his hand and she closed her eyes for a moment, extending her mind into her ancient confidant. He suffered from no specific illness that Zelda could discover, but she poured a little enchantment into him, easing the pain on his old joints and lungs.
"As we knew it must my dear Vicar. Thank you. Please, walk with me, I wish to visit the Nayru shrine." Link re-appeared a step behind Zelda as she walked arm and arm with the elderly holy man, but the rest of the guard kept a wide perimeter. Occasionally a priest or noble would approach them, expressing their happiness to see Sahasrala out in the square again, or wishing the Princess birthday wishes, but for the most part they were left alone.
"You must tell me how you found Hyrule in your journey Princess…it has been too long since I left the temple grounds…some days I feel as though Hyrule and her people have passed me by. I can feel the Goddesses calling me now….I prayed for the strength to see this day for many years now." Sahasrala leaned heavily on the shepherd cane as they passed over the great golden Triforce seal of the Temple. His cane echoed into the far away ceiling.
"Hush, now Vicar. The people and I have benefited from your leadership and insight these many years. Where would I have been without your tutelage? Father has long said you were one of the greatest Vicars since Maltarn himself. You have drawn more priests and priestesses to the church than any other Vicar in three hundred years." Zelda patted his arm comfortingly as he led her to the altar of the Nayru shrine.
"You are too kind Princess. Too kind by far. So, is this strapping young fellow hawking over you our newest Knight? Brother Tarin tells me that he Faolan's lost son, such a warrior there never was before." Sahasrala tried to crane his neck around to look at Link, who had no doubt heard everything, but his old bones wouldn't make it.
"Oh yes, Vicar, where are my manners. This is Link, son of Faolan, First Knight of Hyrule." Zelda held out her arm for Link to join them. Link greeted the Vicar in the same formal manner, and shook the old man's hand warmly. They had crossed the long hall of the great Temple, and Zelda stepped away to ready herself for prayer. First she took in the sights of the Temple, marveling at the beauty of the ancient building as always, it's perfectly tapered red columns, capped in molded golden detail. The original frescos which Sheikah magic had preserved gave it history. The large stained glass windows they met you at every angle, and busts of the former Vicar's from Mudora and Maltarn to Sahasrala lined the long walls made it feel personal. Overtime, Hyrule's great artists and sculptors had added even more pieces, and on the either side of the pews there were paintings and sculptures of the Goddesses and Mudora at the lake, the coming of the Hylians, and other great events. The Temple could seat over forty thousand for services, with the central focus of the building being the Murals of the Goddesses that sat beneath the three massive golden domes.
Zelda joined the crowd of devotees that knelt along the long low banister before the altar of Nayru. The citizens in prayer beside her didn't seem to notice her at first, and she was happy to be able close her eyes and offer her prayer to the Goddesses as one of them. Soon the world around her seemed far away and her sense of time was lost. Great Goddess Nayru, source of wisdom and law, please grant me your blessing this day. I pray that I am worthy of your love, that I can serve as a vessel of your will. I ask that you lay your blessing on the people of Hyrule, and those beyond, that we might know peace and harmony in our days….
Zelda sank into a deep mediation, repeating her prayer over and over until its meaning filled her every thought. She was brought out of it by Link's gentle hand on her shoulder. "Princess, it's almost time." His voice was softer than normal, quiet in deference to the occasion or their holy location; probably both. The entire Temple had been cleared; only Zelda, Link, and Sahasrala remained. Her knees popped and ached as she pushed herself up from the broken cushion kneeler, and her palms, suddenly sweating from nervousness, slipped a little on the marble banister. Her eyes lingered on the magnificent mural of Nayru for a moment. The Goddess was dressed in an airy robe of blue, her arms raised to the sky. In her left hand she held a sapling and in her rights a golden scepter, but it was Nayru's eyes that held her gaze. They seemed to linger on Zelda as well.
"Princess, if you will, let me grant you a benediction." Zelda nodded her approval, and bowed her head to the aged priest's request. Sahasrala placed his hands on her temple and prayed, "Goddesses, today we present to you our most favored daughter. She comes before you in supplication for her people. Bring down your blessing on her, as she offers herself as sacrifice to your will."
Zelda rose up on her tiptoes to kiss him on the cheek, and took his arm to guide him toward the Temple doors. Link dropped into step on her other side, his eyes straight ahead, but his hand surreptitiously finding her own. The walk to the entrance of the Temple seemed to take hours. Even breathing was an effort now. The echoes of their steps were like war drums to Zelda, and she tightened her grip on Link's hand as they reached the hundred foot tall bronze temple doors. Sahasrala patted her hand once more, and left her side. Attendants that Zelda had not seen before appeared from behind a column, leading the Vicar out the common use side doors. Zelda heard the sounds of the colossal crowd outside, it pierced the unspoken desire for quiet that Zelda seemed to need.
More attendants appeared out of the shadows, ready to lift the great chains used to open the enormous doorway. "Link…thank you for being here. Thank you for everything. I love you." Abandoning caution and discretion, Zelda grabbed Link by his ears, pulling his head down to her for a fierce, passionate kiss. She could hear the loud metallic clang as the attendants dropped the chains in shock.
Eventually, Link gently pulled her hands away, his fingers brushing against her cheek. He smiled that mysterious smile Zelda loved, impish and confident at the same time. Suddenly composed, Zelda motioned for the attendants, who were busing themselves with fixing their grips, to open the door.
Zelda had romanticized and dramatized this moment in her mind so many times, it was somewhat comical when the sight that greeted her was so familiar. It would probably be unnerving for most people to see tens of thousands of people gathered to see you, most of them standing in the hot summer sun for hours with only the hope of catching a glimpse of you, to see hundreds of soldiers arrayed in formation underneath the sweeping colonnade and single file along her path to the amphitheatre. Most people would probably be frightened to death to see the long blue runner under her feet that stretched all the way down into a bowled amphitheatre, ending at a stone pedestal whose twin served as the resting spot of the Triforce of Wisdom in the Great Hall. Zelda reminded herself that most people would probably be unable to stand, let alone walk regally with the thunderous applause that erupted at the opening of that holy portal. None of these things fazed Zelda. They were normal, expected pieces of her life, and they were giving her more and more confidence with each moment. This is my life. This is why I was born.
The crowd in the bowl remained standing as Zelda descending the many steps of the amphitheatre, Link as it always seemed, right behind. Zelda acted as she normally would, a majestic smile and kind eyes greeting the outstretched arms of those wishing to touch her. At last she reached the bottom rung of the bowl, where her smiling father and the pensive Impa sat, along with every major noble and military leader in Hyrule. Every Gerudo council member was there as well, seated right behind her father. Nabooru and Alysa smiled when they spotted the Lion Sword firmly attached to her hip.
Zelda heard Link's footsteps stop at the bottom rung, and she continued alone to the center of the amphitheatre. The noise of the crowd was dying down now, at least that is what it seemed like to Zelda whose focus was now straight ahead. Waiting for her on the stone pedestal sat a large black iron cylinder, with a thick bolt through three rings on top. The iron cask had come from the Night Mountains thousands years ago, forged by Sheikah craftsmen, and only careful examination would reveal that it was three separate pieces that folded together. The cask was the only way to move the Triforce from its pedestal, and could only be carried by a Sheikah.
Her father joined Zelda in the center, handing her the Book of Mudora. He embraced her tenderly, kissing her forehead softly before returning to his seat without a word. The look in his dark eyes had been all she needed. Zelda turned the book over in her hands, feeling the golden inlay of the Triforce and Hawk as she looked up at the great stone Triforce held by the statue of the Goddesses. The sun was approaching the perfect midday height, just moments away from being framed inside that great Triforce as would only on this day each year. A hawk flew across the sky, its soaring wings silhouetted in the yellow light. Around her the dark shadows of that Triforce were creeping across the perfect circle at the bottom of the stone rings. And so it begins, Zelda thought to herself.
The crowd was silent and expectant as Zelda opened the Book of Mudora and began to read a passage. A simple enchantment and the natural acoustics of the amphitheatre carried her voice throughout.
"These are the words of the Goddesses Nayru, as written by Mudora, first Prophet of the Builders. 'It shall come to pass that the Adversary will return, and walk in Hyrule. In those days darkness and death will threaten life and all hope will seem lost. To the line of Irule there shall be born a daughter who walks with the light. Born under summer's first sun, her mother shall be the price of her life. And I, Nayru, will mark her as my own. When she comes of age I shall bestow upon her the gifts of Wisdom, that she may bear hope to her people Hyrule. Her love will be undying, and it is through her Love that the Adversary shall be defeated.'"
As she finished, the sun reached its peak and Zelda felt a lurch within her, as though the air in her body had been sucked out. All control left her, leaving Zelda an observer in her own skin. She swept her hand out like a conductor; the iron bolt flew from the cask, smacking into the ground and cracking the smooth stone surface. The three folded iron pieces of the cask fell open, and the golden Triforce of Wisdom floated up to her eye level, slowly rotating in place.
At first it was eerily silent within the amphitheatre, the crowd and Zelda both equally stunned and unsure of what would happen next. Then the Triforce began to sing. It was a new song, but still that same divine, intoxicating voice that sang like an entire orchestra. But now it was inviting Zelda to sing with it. The words came slowly from her mouth at first, but with each line Zelda became more confident. It was a language so beautiful, so complex, that it should never be spoken by a Hylian. Zelda understood what she was saying only by intuition, but the words came to her without hesitation.
Their song grew stronger and stronger, and now a glorious transparent golden light was pouring out of the Triforce like water. The light fell onto the ground and droplets of it splashed up on her dress before coalescing again; floating up to the sky as though the earth could not hold them. The longer they sang the more of the liquid light that came out. The beat became faster and faster and soon there was a pool of the light gathered at her feet; it was paradoxically cool and warm on her toes at the same time. The droplets continued to fall up to the sky like an inverted torrential downpour, little beads of rainbow light obscuring her vision.
The pool at her feet was filling quickly now, an invisible cylinder encompassing her, shaping it. The pedestal was melting from the bottom up, floating away into the sky with the droplets. They continued to sing an unending crescendo, and Zelda was no longer even pausing to breathe. The light was up to her knees now and swirling around that invisible container in rhythm with the Triforce. Zelda could feel her dress being pulled by its tide, and it was difficult not to be swept away by it.
As the light reached her breasts the Book of Mudora was pulled out of her hands, and Zelda could no longer hold her ground against the tide. Pages of the book tore out one by one, before disintegrating to pieces, and floating away. The swirling liquid light was lifting her off the ground now, spinning her around the Triforce. The light was filling her mouth but it didn't choke her. Zelda could only feel herself singing, because as the light entered her ears she couldn't hear anything.
She was completely submersed in the light in a moment, and then suddenly the spinning stopped. Zelda's revolutions came to a halt with the Triforce. Through the translucent golden light she could see the awed look on the crowd and realized that she was at least twenty feet off the ground, floating in a pool of light.
A blue glow was emanating from the Triforce now, pulsing like a heartbeat but Zelda's attention was pulled away from it briefly. A black haired woman leapt from her seat onto the floor for the amphitheatre, pulling a short sword from inside her blood red robe. The woman was screaming something at Zelda that she couldn't hear through the wall of liquid gold.
There was a flash of blue light and Zelda was blinded as though she has looked directly into the sun. A rainbow effect pulsed from the center of her vision, distorting her view. She willed her eyes to close and readjust, but the world was a still a chaotic mash. The colors were swirling about, mixing together, running over each other. The seconds seemed to stretch forever until the amphitheatre settled into view again.
The black haired woman was lying on her back in an expanding pool of blood, a Gerudo style knife protruding from her breasts. Zelda's eyes dashed back and forth restlessly, but she couldn't move her head to see what was happening. The crowd was running in panic, crashing into each other to get up the stairs, trampling young and old alike as they clamored to escape. The soldiers were rushing down the stairs, weapons drawn, forcing citizens out of the way. Some of the soldiers were evenattacking the crowdwhile still more came to the people's aid. Zelda recognized Jaser Malnus on the bottom circle, drawing his sword and jumping over the body of the dead woman. She tried to lift her hand to cover her eyes from another flash, but she still couldn't control her body. Zelda could feel the pulse before the blinding blue flash, instinctively her eyes closed at the last second.
"Zelda…Zelda…Zelda…Princess of Hyrule…Daughter of Alish…" The divine voice was echoing in her mind. It sounded as though there were a thousand voices speaking at once over and over again. It was powerfully seductive, the temptation too strong for Zelda to resist, though she desperately wanted to at the moment.
When she opened her eyes, Zelda was not surprised to find herself back in the field of golden light.
Link was watching in amazement as the light swirled about Zelda, lifting her high into the air. Everyone in the amphitheatre seemed to hold their breath, straining to hear the unnaturally beautiful song of Princess and Triforce. They sang of hope, beauty, love and happiness, but also of death, darkness, hatred and anguish. They sang of the earth, the oceans, the trees, the sky, the wind, the stars, the sun, and the moon. Link knew no one in all of Hyrule could comprehend the words, for this was the language in which the world was written, this was the language of the true Hyrule. But because of that truth, because of the purity of their song, Link knew that no one could fail know their words, even if they couldn't grasp them. It was the song of all that was and all that could be.
The part of his mind that was Zelda felt deliriously happy and powerful. Link himself felt the power of the Triforce of Wisdom welling up inside her, and he wondered if any mortal body could contain such awesome power.
And suddenly, the song stopped. The light was rushing like a waterfall to the sky, through the opening in the Goddesses' shared Triforce statue, seeming to stretch all the way to the sun. The flow of light was never ending. Zelda's rotation came to an end in her original position, if only twenty feet above the floor. The stillness in the air was deafening for Link, it was as if the world was pining for their song to continue.
From across the amphitheatre, the black haired woman who had accompanying Jaser to the ball the last night broke the silence. She leapt from her seat, pulling a Sheikah short sword from inside her robes. She screamed at the top of her lungs as she took aim at Zelda, "THE LORD OF POWER WILL WALK AMONG US AGAIN! THE TRUE KING COMES! ALL HAIL GANONDORF! DEATH TO IRULE'S - "
The loud thunk of Link's Gerudo knife piercing the woman's breastbone hung in the air for a moment. Then there was a blinding flash of blue light and all of Hyrule seemed to scream as one. Link's skin prickled at the piercing shriek and he felt the source of panic behind him. He spun about to catch King Iolan Daihi Irule stumble into his arms, blood bubbling from the dark purple wound staining his blue robes. "L..Link…"
Link eased him to the ground, his eyes never leaving the fleeing form of the King's assailant, Castle Warden Alastara Donah, his blood stained sword high in the air. Yamal and Comen Aimon darted up the stairway after him, slowed by the panicked crowd pushing over their neighbors in their rush to leave. A ring of soldiers surrounded Donah near the top, escorting him out, but they were met at the apex by an incensed Marshall Bern, who lopped off the head of the lead soldier with his great axe. Link could hear his scream, "BASTARD!!!!" even above the frenzied crowd.
"Link! Look out!" The muscled stomach of Alysa of the Bohdan flew inches away from Link's head as she dove to tackle Jaser Malnus, who was attacking him from behind. The world throbbed again as the Triforce blinded everyone for a moment with another brilliant blue flash. The rest of the Gerudo council and their companions stumbled a bit as they ran after Alysa, knives out, ready for battle.
Captain Morann, Corporal Troy and Malon were instantly at Link's side. "Troy, Malon, quickly, carry the King out of here. Take him inside the Temple; find a room to barricade yourself in! Holden, with me!" Link had to shout for them to hear him, but his orders were followed without hesitation. Troy heaved the King's body into his strong arms, Malon taking his sword, ready to defend them both.
Link's battle calm had taken over, the knowledge that Zelda was in danger filling him with a cold focus. He jumped up a few of the now emptied bottom rows, assessing the situation while readying his shield and drawing his sword. The Lord General Baden and his massive servant were leading a charge of soldiers descending from the Temple side of the promenade. The Lord General Malnus was on the other side, flanked by an unknown black robed man, commanding the traitorous force which marshaled from the south side. Everyone was giving the golden cylinder of light that envelope Zelda a wide birth. Alysa was punching and kicking a disarmed Jaser viciously, his blood splattering the white stones as her fist pummeled him again and again. Next to Alysa, Nabooru and Medila combined to impale one of the traitorous soldiers on his own pike. The rest of the Gerudo contingent assumed a defensive ring position as they were outnumbered and didn't know who to attack.
The exits of the Temple grounds appeared to be blocked somehow, because wherever the crowds at the top were running to, people were turning them back, running the other way. "Captain! We need to get the people out of the way! Secure the Temple and get them inside!" The Captain nodded his understanding, sprinting away up the stairs.
No one but Impa and Link seemed to notice the impossibly large pool of black-red blood where the woman Link had killed lay dead. Impa kneeled at the edge of the pool, her violet eyes searching for an answer. The woman's red robes appeared to liquefy with the blood and sure enough, she was soon naked, revealing red tattoos covering her arms, legs, and breasts. The color of her hair was bleeding out as well; flaxen roots appeared to grow incredibly fast out of her skull. The naked body laid sickly white in stark contrast of a ten foot wide pool of red blood. Impa, as Link now did, recognized the body. It was Seana, Shepherd of the Sheikah.
There was another flash of light from the Triforce, followed this time by what was unmistakably a small earthquake, and for the first time in his life, Link felt truly worried. The part of him that was Zelda had just left his body. She's gone. The pain of it brought Link to his knees while his body shook and started sweating profusely. He felt intensely empty inside, the euphoria of the Triforce that he was feeling from Zelda made a world without it sickening.
Simultaneously there was a maniacal, thunderous laugher overwhelming the crowd noise coming from the bubbling pool of blood. Rising up from the pool, a red haired giant, with skin tan like a Gerudo. His black armor was coated and dripping blood as he emerged. Ganondorf was here as Seana had predicted.
Zelda strolled through the golden field, her hands brushing the tops of the tall grass which illuminated the sunless world. The beautiful Triforce song seemed to come from every one of those blades of grass, wind blew through them like a flute and they vibrated like harps and violins. Zelda couldn't resist the urge and she began dancing in the field by herself. She imagined Link was dancing with her and a ghostly image of green smoke formed in the air, taking her in its arms. They twirled and stepped across the field, cresting to the top a low hill. A breeze swept the ghost Link away, but Zelda continued one last twirl. When she stopped, the golden lady with ethereal blue hair waited with open arms once again. She was beautiful in every way, her naked golden body in perfect proportions, and her skin was smooth with a golden sheen. The woman's eyes had no whites or pupils; they were large oval eyes of the deepest blue Zelda had ever seen. Floating between her outstretched arms was the Triforce of Wisdom.
"Welcome Princess Zelda, daughter of Alish. We are the Triforce of Wisdom, and we have waited for this day a very long time. It is our pleasure to welcome you here, in the land between Hyrule's world and Goddesses'. Your coming is a great joy for us, but we are not yet able to grant the request you hold in your mind." The golden woman's speech was as song to Zelda, in the same powerful language as before, but her rebuke was frightening to Zelda.
"Wha..what, what do you mean?" Zelda could feel the rising panic in her voice as she squeaked out her query.
"You are not complete daughter. You have left your heart behind with him." Wisdom swept her arms to the side, and the ghostly form of Link appeared again in the field. With a flick of her wrist a breeze swept across the field and blew the ghostly Link away. "Do not fear daughter, I shall help you."
Wisdom snapped her golden fingers to an azure spark, and Zelda felt a rushing sensation inside her. Her skin flushed and her heart quicken as the golden world quaked in reply. Part of her soul, her heart that had been with Link, returned to her body, and she was complete within herself for the first time since she was a child. The difference was palpable. She had never before understood what it was that she had shared with Impa and Link. Zelda had loved them each, and in her desperation to save them she had given them her love.
Wisdom interrupted her reverie, aware of Zelda's thoughts. "Yes Princess, your gift to them was a greater sacrifice then they, or you, have ever known. Love is the greatest gift we can give, but no one in all of history has given as deeply as you gave. To sacrifice one's soul, even if just a fraction, for another is a divine gift. This, above all else, proves that you are worthy of our love and our gift. But be warned, to master a piece of the Triforce, to know Wisdom, you risk losing not just a piece of your soul, but all that you are. We make no promises that the Princess Zelda who seeks our Wisdom will live on after it is granted. This is the sacrifice that Nayru demands; this is the path which only you can accept."
Zelda paused at Wisdom's warning, which confirmed her suspicions and fears. Wisdom waited patiently for her response as Zelda considered her warning. There could only be one answer. If her life was the price of peace, then it would be a gift willingly given. "I understand. I am ready." Her voice was strong with an absolute conviction she hadn't felt until that moment.
"Then take hold of the Triforce, and – " Wisdom's instructions were interrupted by a terrible tearing sound. The air ripped like fabric and a great black fire burned an oval twice the size of a man. Through the tear stepped the source of Zelda's nightmares, Ganondorf, more terrible than she had imagined. He was two heads taller than Link, with brilliant orange-red hair and glowing red eyes, dressed entirely in black armor, a great blood-red jewel encrusted on the breast plate. Ganondorf held the rusted chain of a golden woman the twin of Wisdom, with blazing red hair and eyes. Zelda could feel hatred in the enslaved Triforce of Power, and longed to free her. Power reached her arm out, stretching for her sister Wisdom, while Ganondorf reached out greedily for the Triforce of Wisdom, his path blocked instantly by Zelda.
"You are not welcome here Ganondorf! Leave us! Now!" Wisdom's melodious voice had gone from joyful to commanding. Her words were powerful, and Zelda was amazed that Ganondorf could resist them.
"Petty Gods and their petty servants; you have no power over me. I AM POWER." Ganondorf's defiant retort alone scared Zelda. He yanked on the corroded chain, pulling the red haired Power to his side as he rebuked Wisdom. "I have come to claim what is mine by right. Move aside little Princess or -" Ganondorf's threat was cutoff when the air rippled to open another portal. It was not the violent, unnatural entrance of Ganondorf, but a soft rushing sound, like a bubbling spring. A ghostly Link erupted from the rippling portal, crashing into Ganondorf and carrying them both back through the black flame. Power threw her hands out vainly for Wisdom as she was pulled back through the black flames.
"Now, Princess! Place your hands on the Triforce and do not release it or Link's battle will be in vain. The gift of the Goddess Nayru shall be yours, if you are worthy." The urgency in Wisdom's voice could not be understated, and Zelda quickly grabbed the floating Triforce. It burned her hands to touch, but she would not relinquish it. Through the tears welling up in her eyes Zelda watched Wisdom kiss the fingers on her right hand and place them on Zelda's left eye. Her face burned at the touch, and Zelda could see the reflection of a triangular outline burning in blue fire surrounding her eye just before the Triforce of Wisdom blazed like lighting in her hands.
Link was still shaking uncontrollably as Ganondorf completely emerged from the pool of blood. His maniacal laughter ceased as he bent over to rip Link's knife out of Seana's chest, showing no concern for his servants' death, or the chaos around him. Impa roared as she leapt to attack him, her short sword drawn. Ganondorf wasn't surprised though, he grabbed Impa by the throat and casually tossed her across the amphitheatre, crashing into the ring of Gerudo.
Link struggled to get up as the nauseous feeling subsided. Ganondorf was striding toward the tower of light that encased Zelda, a trail of blood dripping from his black armor and cloak. Behind him more creatures emerged from the pool of blood, climbing up out of the ground were hideously deformed men, half man half beast, with heads of wolves, vultures and pigs. There was skeletal Stalfos and piggish Moblins, huge spiders, man-sized lizards and more beasts that Link didn't even recognize. The carried black iron swords and spears and wore black armor adorned with spikes and horns.
Fresh cries of horror from the crowd that hadn't escaped the amphitheatre erupted as the beasts crawled out of the blood pool and rushed to attack anything that moved. Link brought his focus back on Ganondorf, who was on the other side of the golden tower of light now and reaching his hands into it. A black fire erupted at his touch, a flame that engulfed his entire body as he pushed forward into the golden light.
Link battled back the desire to be sick as he leapt into action, running down from his position on the amphitheatre, sheathing his sword. He charged directly at the burning Ganondorf, whose eyes were on the suspended Princess Zelda. Link leapt through the air, putting his shoulder into his shield, unsure and unafraid of what would happen as he crossed the golden barrier. To his surprise it was cool like a spring and warm like a bath all at once, and for a moment he felt that tremendous power and joy he had before. Then he collided with the burning Ganondorf, carrying him out of the Triforce's circle, and the nauseous feeling returned even stronger.
Link rolled over the flattened Ganondorf, his shoulder aching from striking the massive man. It had felt like running head first into a wall. Ganondorf screamed in anger, beating his massive fist into the ground, a great fissure gashing the solid stone from his force. Link scurried away, drawing his sword, readying himself for battle. Ganondorf turned away from Link though, running back toward the tower of light, his hands reaching out in angered desperation. Link was on his heels, his sword raised to cut down his dark opponent.
From within the shimmering tower of light a great thunderclap shook the earth again, and a bolt of lighting crashed down from the sun through the Triforce. Link looked up to see Zelda grasping it, her spine arched and head thrown back in silent agony. Ganondorf roared in anger as the liquid light crashed down from the heavens like a wave.
Link didn't have time to raise his shield, but the light passed through him harmlessly anyway, through is body and into his soul before carrying on like a tsunami. It cascaded down from the heavens and continued on in every direction. It sent chills down Link's spine as it passed through him, and he could feel the faintest impression of Zelda's familiar presence as it left him unharmed. Link could see the dazed look on everyone else in the Temple Square as the passed through them as well. The wave of liquid light continued on passing out of sight when it met the horizon.
Ganondorf alone was unfazed, and Link's attention snapped back to the moment, his survival instinct taking over. The air around Ganondorf was electrified with black lighting, his eyes blazing red death as he turned to face Link. When he spoke, Link remembered the terrible voice he had heard in the Sheikah fortress all those years ago. "Fifteen hundred years I have waited for this day. Fifteen hundred years imprisoned in that world, only to be turned away when victory was within my grasp. I will burn this land, I will ravage your women and my servants will feast on your children. When I am done Irule's people and their memories will be erased from history. I AM GANONDORF, LORD OF POWER!"
The bright summer sky darkened as black clouds swirled above, blotting out the sun. Unnatural red lightening raked the sky, striking down randomly in the square, knocking over statues, breaking off pieces of building. The panic in the crowd had reached a critical level as debris rained down upon them, crushing their loved ones and neighbors. Link wondered if Morann was close to getting them into the Temple yet.
The battle and confusion around Link was incredible. The Gerudo contingent and Impa were slaughtering the Apostate Army as the hideous beasts crawled out of the pool of blood, but the sheer number of creatures were beginning to push them back. They wouldn't be able to retreat very far though, as Baden's troops were outnumbered and retreating into the bottom of the amphitheatre. Malnus' traitors had encircled the top of the amphitheatre, using the high ground to rain down arrows on the Gerudo and the North Army alike.
Ganondorf was still ignoring Link, his focus on Zelda, who was still in the throws of some silent pain. She was still floating up in the air, holding the blazing Triforce tightly with both hands. The sun was now completely obscured by thick black clouds, and light came only from the blue pulses of the Triforce and Ganondorf's red lighting. Ganondorf raised his hands towards Zelda, black fire roiling between them, ready to consume the Princess. Link dove into action, driving his father's sword into Ganondorf's back, hilt to spine.
Ganondorf feel to his knees with a snarl and the black fire above his head exploded, throwing Link into the air and crashing down on his back. Link had kept his grip on the sword, pulling it out to a sickening snap as it severed Ganondorf's spine. Link's body was fighting his call to action, too sore to respond as he tried to get off the ground. A machete wielding green goblin creature, his small, misshapen, pointed teeth bared to make a grotesque grin materialized above him. Link's tired body wouldn't move out of the way as the creature raised its blade for a killing blow, and Link closed is eyes in anticipation.
There was a crunch above him, and Link opened his eyes to see Nabooru's smiling face, a long wooden spear shoved through the creature's skull. "What are you doing down there little cub? You can't kill anything lying on your back!" Nabooru offered Link a hand to lift his battered body.
Ganondorf was still bent over on his knees, but his roar of pain had turned into that chilling laughter. The dark warrior lifted himself off the ground, twisting his body around until his splintered spine cracked back into place. He turned to face Link and Nabooru, his red eyes freezing them both into place. "You have become quite the annoyance boy. I shall enjoy killing you. Ahhh, I see that the Aderes' children have joined you. We shall have to rape and slaughter you all over again. My soldiers have missed their wives these many years." Ganondorf licked his lips to emphasis his taunts, enraging Nabooru as he no doubt planned. Black flames formed in his right hand, twisting and turning until it solidified into a massive two-handed black sword. "Come then, it has been too long since I last killed children."
"We are all things. We are the past and the future. We were present when Din shaped the worlds with arms of fire, and when mother Nayru breathed order from chaos. We spoke of law to Farore's children, and gave them their nature. All life is from us and through us. All life ends with us. We are the Triforce of Wisdom, We are the Triforce. We are the soul of all worlds." As Wisdom spoke, Zelda was bombarded by a thousand rays of light from the blazing Triforce, unable to look away.
Zelda experienced a million lives in an instant. She was there at every birth, cried at every death, she was every bride and bridegroom; she had a thousand lovers and a million children. She knew the name of every citizen of Hyrule living and dead, knew their faces and their habits, their favorite foods and where they lived. She rode black stallions with her sister Gerudo, and stalked the towns of Hylians by starlight, searching for goods to steal. Zelda walked through the Kokiri forest, and lived a thousand years as a child of the Great Forest Spirit. She touched the bark of the eternal tree, and blossomed like a rose. Zelda grew as the vines over ancient Sheikah temples and flowed with the rivers through valleys. She was the earth and the wind. Zelda was all that had ever been.
Zelda was Seana of the Sheikah, fighting alongside her love Artimus in battle, in the shadow of the great Tower of the Goddesses. The red sun rose slowly in the east, bloodied as the muddy field beneath them. The battle had raged all night, and tens of thousands of Ganondorf's foul beasts lay dead on the dirt. The great Hylian warrior, Faolan was laying the enemy to waste under his black stead. His nameless child was strapped to his back, firing crossbow bolts into the giant boars the little bulblin-goblins rode. They made a fearsome pair, both cold emotionless warriors in the midst of anarchy.
The Knight's force had been reduced to only one hundred soldiers, and maybe fifty Sheikah were alive, fighting in pockets across the giant field. Perhaps three thousand of Ganondorf's monsters survived, but they were broken and disorganized, running for cover and abandoning their weapons. The impossible victory Seana had not dared to hope for had somehow come. Faolan approached her, his black stead billowing steamy breath into the early morning air, clearly exhausted. His cold face cracked a smile underneath the blood caked into his beard. "Well met Seana and Artimus Sheikah. A great victory is ours and we shall toast in the halls of Hyrule and the Night Moun – arrrghhhh! " A crossbow bolt punctured the Knight's chest, piercing his armor and traveling through to his son, who wailed in agony. Thousands of the little bulblins riding giant boars and oversized piggish moblins raced out from the cover of the forest.
The injured Faolan charged into them, crushing them under his great sword, and driving them back. Seana hollered a battle cry and charged after him, the little beasts falling under her short sword as she and Artimus danced through their numbers. More knights followed after Faolan, and for a moment Seana believed they would survive the ambush. Victory could still be theirs. She watched in amazement as Faolan ripped the bolt from his chest, then in horror as he pulled the child from his back. Even at a hundred feet Seana could see the boy's skin turning blue, his chest barely moving with breath. Faolan surveyed the field for a moment, his eyes meeting Seana's, and then he turned his black steed on them, retreating into the darkness of the forest.
"FAAAAOLLLLAAANN!!!! NO!!! COWARD!!!!" Seana screamed as she ran after the giant man, killing Ganondorf's little soldiers with barely a thought. Artimus was running behind her, calling out for her to watch her back, but Seana was mad with anger. Faolan had abandoned them. His knights were faltering as they watched him leave the battle, and now Ganondorf's minions were overrunning them. Screams of horses dying and men being run through couldn't penetrate the blood pounding in Seana's ears.
"SEANA! HELP ME!" Artimus's calls brought her out of her madness. He was surrounded by five moblins, deflecting their spears with his shield and sword as best he could, but there were too many. One rushed him from behind, skewering him. Two more dug their spears into his chest, and he fell limp to his knees, his body contorted painfully over the spears, frozen in the air. Spittle flew from her mouth as Seana roared in anger, launching herself on the nearest moblin. She bit into his neck, ripping open his artery, and stealing his spear. She whipped it around, beheading two more, and threw it like a javelin into the fourth. The last one squealed as it ran in fear from the insane woman, green blood dripping from her mouth, mad eyes wide with anger. Seana pulled a knife from her belt and tossed it into the creatures back, dropping it to the ground.
She ran to it, pulling the knife out and turning the beast over. She drove the knfe into its eyes, and cut its tusks from its mouth as it struggled to escape. All around her the battle raged on, but none would approach her. The rest of Ganondorf's soldiers and Hyrule's force slaughtered each other, until only Seana remained alive. The noon day sun blazed overhead and she staggered over to her fallen love, pulling the spears from his chest and closing his cold, dead eyes.
"WHO WAS THIS MAN, CHILD?" A thunderous voice boomed in Seana's skull, and she spun her head about to see where it came from. A black shadow stood behind her, taller than any man she had ever seen. His features were like smoke, except his eyes, which glowed red.
"He…he was my love. Artimus, Battle Captain of the Sheikah." Tears were welling in Seana's eyes, obscuring her vision. She knew that she should be afraid of the shadow man, but exhaustion and emotion had drained her of reason.
"DID HE DIE WELL?" Seana nodded as she sniffed, trying to hold back her tears.
"THIS WAS A GREAT BATTLE. FOR WHOM DO YOU FIGHT?"
Seana attempted to get off her knees, but her body was cramping and weak. She dropped back onto her heels, and considered the shadow. Weakly she responded, "We fight for Iolan, King of Hyrule, with his Knights, against the forces of the Adversary, Ganondorf."
"YET NONE STAND BESIDE YOU. YOU ALONE HAVE SURVIVED."
"No…there is another… Faolan…he could be alive. He abandoned us." Seana spat in disgust.
"YES. HE IS A TRAITOR. HE COULD HAVE SAVED YOUR LOVE. IRULE'S PEOPLE ARE TRAITORS. I WOULD NEVER HAVE ABANDONED YOU."
Exhausted as she was, Seana was still alarmed to hear the tone in the shadow man's voice. There was Power in the voice that she could not fight. She averted her eyes from his gaze as she meekly questioned him. "Who are you?"
"I AM GANONDORF. I AM THE TRUE KING OF HYRULE"
Zelda was all that would come to be or could have been. She was Zelda, wife of Jaser, King of Hyrule and tyrant. She was Zelda, Warrior Queen and High Priestess of the Temple. She was a slave girl, and a bar maid, a farm girl, a murderer, a prostitute. She was a million Zeldas, and she was none of them.
She was Zelda, newlywed bride of Link. They were honeymooning in the Lost Woods, far away from the troubles of Hyrule. They called to her, but Zelda and Link were taking a hard earned vacation from being heroes. Tomorrow they would set out for Castletown, where Zelda would accept her crown. First though, they would take a ride to the coast, to look at the ocean once more.
Link rose from the bed silently, his muscles rippling under his naked skin. Zelda bit her lip thinking of their last hour of ecstasy as she watched him pull on his pants silently and throw his sword strap over his shoulder. Link paused to give her a roguish grin before ducking through the low wooden door off to gather supplies and food stuffs. She pulled the sheet up to cover herself as she propped up on her elbow. Darkness gripped her heart whenever Link was out of the room and so she busied herself with simple tasks to keep herself occupied. With a sigh she pushed her naked legs out from under the sheets. They ached from her days and nights with Link, but it was pain she was happy to bare.
She dressed herself the simple two-tone green cotton dress the Kokiri had made for her, and set about cleaning clay plate dishes, collecting the scraps of food and spreading them out in the garden for the squirrels and birds which gathered outside their forest home.
Link soon returned with two giant bear skins and a number of rabbits and birds on strings. They spent the afternoon cleaning the skins and sewing cloaks for the long journey ahead. Winter would be in its full throws by the time they reached Castletown. Most of the day was spent in silent work, not uncomfortable silence, but the wondrous quiet reflection of the forest.
As dawn rose the next day they set out toward the coast, Link holding Zelda firmly in his arms as they let Epona set the pace. They could hear the sound of the ocean waves crashing against the cliffs in the distance. The forest gave way south of the Tower of the Gods, the smooth white pillar soaring high above them to the north. Zelda could feel Link's eyes linger on the Tower as Epona led them to the top of a small hill overlooking the southern coast.
Zelda's breath caught sharply as they crested. Hundreds of black sailed ships were beaching below them. Thousands of bare-chested men pulled on ropes tided to the ships. Tents were being erected all over the beach, and still more blacked sailed ships waited on anchor out to see.
"I remember Link. The Fermorians…."
Zelda was being overwhelmed by the enormity of the Triforce. It was as if the universe itself was crawling inside her skin. She was beginning to forget who she was, infinite lives and personalities taking over. She kept her grip on the Triforce, and through its blazing light she could see a faint reflection. Her face and arms morphed and changed into thousands of familiar strangers in an instant. Wisdom grabbed her wrists, her golden skin bleeding into Zelda's arms.
"We are the Triforce of Wisdom. We are the Triforce. We are the soul of all worlds. We are Zelda. Join us. Let go."
Zelda watched her face transform into that beautiful golden visage, her blonde hair transforming into that ghostly blue. The burning blue Triforce that swirled like water under her skin over her eye began to fade away.
No. The Triforce. I need it. Hyrule needs it. Link needs it. I must not give in. A familiar young women's voice echoed in her mind. It was gentle and pretty, but faint.
"We are the Triforce. We are the fire." The words came from her own golden lips, echoed by the beautiful golden woman who stood opposite her.
i am zelda.
"We are the Triforce. We are the earth."
I am zelda.
"We are the Triforce. We are the water."
I am Zelda.
"We are the Triforce. We are the wind."
I Am Zelda.
"We are the Triforce. We are the Light."
"NO! I AM ZELDA! I AM THE FIRE! I AM THE EARTH! I AM THE WATER! I AM THE WIND! I AM THE LIGHT!
I AM WISDOM! I AM ZELDA!!!"
Zelda's eyes widened in surprise at the force of her words, and a smiling Wisdom bowed before her. The Triforce cracked in her hands, shattering into infinite pieces before disintegrating into blue dust. It swirled in the air for a moment before flying into Zelda's body. It dug into her skin, her mouth and eyes then exploded like a star. Zelda felt the divine song of the Triforce radiate from every pore and a supernatural feeling of connection without oppression to every atom in the universe.
"Farewell Zelda, Princess and Light of Hyrule, true Daughter of Nayru."
Next time: The Battle of the Temple!