So hello everyone, been a while, but I wanted to save this for the second chapter to not take anything away from the first. Yes, I'm back, and I'm thrilled to see how many folks are actually still interested in this universe and story. In spite of how many times I'm done with it, I might not be. Let's just say I've got an idea for another continuation once the Wrath of Cain is done, but that's a while off yet.

But I also say another heartfelt thanks to everyone who is still around. I really appreciate everyone reading, even if you don't review every chapter, because that still helps keep me going. I learned so much over the seven years writing the Silent Kingdom, both in terms of improving my technique, and learning the kinds of stories I want to tell. I'm sure that everyone noticed the result of that, how the it became a much darker story as it went on.

And I wanted to let everyone know about that visual novel I said I was writing in my profile message, which is done at this point. Or at least my part is. The writing has been done since December 2016, and the publisher said the programming has been done since February 2017, but the issue is an artist. It's not exactly a huge budget, even by VN standards, and finding an artist who doesn't flake out and disappear has been a challenge for the publisher. It's at the point he's giving up on freelancers and is going to hire a full-time artist to work in his office.

But I am happy to say I'm really happy with the story, and so is the publisher, and we're already talking about turning it into a trilogy. But that comes later, after the first one is out. Same publisher has also hired me to pen the script for a sci-fi VR shooter game he and his indie team are developing, but after writing the overarching world concept, I can't write an actual script until the levels are complete. In the meantime I'm left sitting on my hands, so I wanted to get back to this. Honestly, at this point, the Wrath of Cain has actually been in planning much longer than the Silent Kingdom was before I started it.

This chapter is a bit short, because it's primarily a little recap for everyone and setup for what's coming next. I'm not going to swear myself to any kind of schedule, in case the jobs I've been hired for suddenly need my full attention, but I'm going to try to have a minimum of one chapter a month. But I'm really excited to write this story, and I hope everyone enjoys it.

Chapter 2: The Plan

"It's Cain."

Sheila hadn't minced any words, dropping that statement like a bomb.

And Link's reaction was just as to the point. "Shit," he said.

They had moved away from the village, into the clearing near Link's tree house, while letting the rest of the village get on with the meal, though they all ate quietly, glancing occasionally toward the clearing and the group gathered there.

"It's that monster from the mask," Alex said, "I thought the sages were going to destroy that."

"We've been trying," Sheila said, "But the truth is nothing we've tried even scratched the Fused Shadow. Now I have even less hope of us being able to slay a living Cain on our own."

"What was this about temporal paradox?" Kilishandra asked, "Are you saying history has changed?"

Sheila nodded. "We were trying to predict anything Cain would be capable of when he resurrected," she said, "He burst out of the vault beneath the castle, though every magic and physical lock it had, and then shot into the sky, where he disappeared in a flash of light. The fact is he has traveled back in time and altered some event that has changed the world to this date."

"That's impossible," Link said, "I needed the Master Sword to travel through time both times I did it. What key does Cain have that would let him do it?"

"That's impossible?" Ganondorf asked, causing everyone to turn to him. He was somewhat apart from the group, leaning back against the large tree with his arms crossed.

Link started to speak, only for Ganondorf to cut him off. "That's where you draw the line?" Ganondorf asked, speaking harshly, almost growling, "You're talking about a being that defies the normal laws of reality on a regular basis. Cain is a being of power, like a demigod. Like I was when I had the Triforce of Power. It is nearly impossible for beings of power to travel between worlds of the multiverse without a foreign aid, like the Twilight Mirror. And yet, he did it.

"We still do not know what world he and the Twili originally came from, but they did cross dimensions. And then, Cain was killed by Darius in the ancient war. A spell of pure light, augmented by the Triforce of Wisdom's power. He was dead, and yet his soul, and his power, remained. Strong enough that the Twili carved his remains into the mask. The Fused Shadow, which housed his consciousness, which even attempted to take the body of another Twili as his own."

Ganondorf was slowly walking toward Link, and now stopped, looked down at him, their height difference harshly contrasted at this distance, but Link did not back down, staring back into Ganondorf's eyes. Link's fingers twitched, ready to go for his knife.

"Cain has defied the laws of life and death themselves, resurrected himself as if from nothing," Ganondorf said, "And now, the idea of him traveling back in time unaided, that is where you draw the line of impossible?"

"It does not seem much of a stretch, given what he's already done," Silviana said, and turned to Sheila, "Are we sure that's what happened, though?"

Sheila raised one arm, casting her hand behind her as she turned. A white light appeared before them, then opened wide, revealing an image within.

"This is the capital city of Hyrule," Sheila said.

"That can't be right..." Kilishandra said.

Her shock was because of the architecture. The old city was nowhere to be seen, instead replaced by tall towers of obsidian reaching skyward, and in the center like an egg clutched in a dark hand, was a black palace, also constructed completely of black obsidian.

"Now," Ganondorf said, "What culture do you know that builds everything out of black volcanic glass?"

Link couldn't take his eyes from the image. It looked so similar to what he saw when he had gone to the Twilight Realm years ago. It was the Twili. Of that he had no doubt.

"How did this happen?" Link asked.

"We can only theorize at this point," Sheila said, "But it's the same reasons we know Cain traveled through time when he disappeared. The world has drastically altered in a moment, and in this time, the Twili were successful in their conquest of Hyrule.

"The world as we know it has ceased to be, and it has been replaced with this."

"My guess," Ganondorf said, "Cain went back in time to a vital moment, and changed the outcome of events, or killed someone vital to those events."

"So if he changed history, and Hyrule ceased to exist in an instant, why are we still here?" Link asked.

"The barrier," Sheila said, pointing to the glowing dome overhead, "It's a product created by the other sages and myself. I'm afraid the details would be lost on you all, so I'll simplify for the sake of brevity."

She paused, and with a gesture of her hand, the image of the distant city vanished, and then with the butt of her staff, drew a line in the dirt.

"Think of this line as time," she said, "It's always flowing in one direction. You cannot deviate from it. And this is why when something was changed back here," and she drew an X on one end of the line, "it affects everything past it going forward. But this barrier we have made has created a bubble."

She drew a small circle to one side of the line. "Everything inside this bubble exists outside of the main timeline," she went on, "This is in complete defiance of the laws of time, set down by the gods an eternity ago. As such, it will not last long. I estimate we can maintain it for ten days at most."

"And then we just vanish from existence, like the rest of the world?" Silviana asked.

"Exactly," Sheila said, "Most of what is known of time travel is just theory, but we are certain the laws of time are absolute. It will not allow a paradox to exist, and thus corrects itself."

"Okay, let's say I believe now," Link said, "How do we fix this?"

"To put it simply, we chase Cain back through time, and kill him before he changes history," Ganondorf said.

"You say that like it actually is simple," Kilishandra said, "How do we even travel in time."

"The Master Sword," Link said, "I've done it twice. Once to travel back to the Temple of Time, before it fell into ruin, and the second time to..."

He paused, looking over at Kilishandra.

"Link, you're not going to upset me by saying when you saved Midna from Khall," Kilishandra said, "So, we use the Master Sword. But do we even know when history was changed?"

"No, that's the big problem," Sheila said.

"Won't matter," Link said, "You don't tell the sword what time you need to go to, it takes you where you are needed. So if we have any chance of stopping this, it'll get us there."

"Then we have our means of of travel, but we won't know how to actual fix this until we see what's been changed," Ganondorf said, "So now, show them."

"Show us?" Kilishandra asked.

"Here," Sheila said. She reached into a pocket inside her robe and produced a handful of what looked like silver bracelets, each a number of runic symbols carved into the band, which pulsed with a faint yellow glow. "The sages developed these as we tried to perfect the barrier. Each one has a similar enchantment, but only strong enough for one person. You wear these, and you'll be able to go outside the barrier without being erased, at least for a while. Same time limit, about ten days."

"You can't be more exact?" Link asked.

"Unfortunately not," Sheila said, "But those familiar with magic should be able to estimate, based on the strength of the mana remaining. The closer the spell is to failing, the more exact they can likely be."

"Calling it now," Ganondorf said, "At the end of this, I'm going to counting down from ten until it fails."

"So that's what this is then," Link said, "We have to go back in time, find Cain, and stop him from doing whatever it is he did, when we don't even have any idea what it was."

Kilishandra rubbed her temple. "Fate of the world at stake, enemy of unknown potential, and next to no chance of success," she said with a sigh, "Sometimes I hate my job."

"Speak for yourself," Ganondorf said with a grin, "I live for this shit."

"That's all well and good for you," came the voice of Rusl as he approached the group. The others turned to him as he turned over his tobacco pipe, knocking it against his arm to dump the resin within onto the ground.

"You were listening in," Link said.

"Of course I was," Rusl said, tucking his now empty pipe into his shirt pocket, "I suppose this is the kind of thing you've been keeping from everyone these past years."

"This is new on me," Link said.

"I mean this work you've been doing for the crown," Rusl said, "How much of it is threatening the world like this?"

"To be fair, this is the worst one since we started," Kilishandra said.

Rusl sighed, and smiled. "That's the difference between you kids and me," he said, "I always knew to not get in over my head. You... You just keep walking on the bottom."

Link shrugged. "It's worked so far."

"I certainly don't approve of the company you keep these days, however," Rusl said, looked pointedly at Ganondorf.

"Now isn't that hypocritical since you trust my daughter to sleep in your village?" Ganondorf asked with a smirk.

"I haven't see her invade the castle with an army demons at her back," Rusl said.

Ganondorf raised a finger, opening his mouth to respond, but stopped and lowered his hand. "Okay, that's valid," he said, "I'll let you have that one."

"I assume you have a plan for what you're going to do when you find this Cain person?" Rusl asked, turning to Ganondorf.

"Based on what we know, he's immune to nearly all forms of physical harm, but not magic," Ganondorf said, then gestured to Kilishandra, "And the two most powerful magicians in this world are standing right here."

"And my sword did have some effect on him the one time I directly encountered him," Link said.

"The one that glows, yet casts no light," Rusl said.

"That's the one," Link said.

"All right, then you figure out what you're going to to," Rusl said, "I'm going to go talk to the others and get some supplies together for you all."

"You really to tell them about this?" Kilishandra asked, "They'll be terrified."

"Do you hear laughter and chatter from over there?" Rusl asked, "They're terrified now. This at least lets everyone feel like they're doing something to help. Honestly, I can't believe how calm you lot are."

Rusl turned to leave without waiting for a response, heading back into the village proper.

"Calm," Link muttered, "Yeah, right."

"Back to the subject at hand," Ganondorf said, turning to him, "From what I know, the Master Sword could only take someone through time at the Temple of Time. At least that's what I gathered when I was watching the Hero of Time come and go during my first big show. That may not exist now. But then you did it just in the dungeon at Darimar."

"It's not the temple itself that's needed," Link said, "There's some kind of power at those two locations that it taps into."

"The entrances to the Sacred Realm," Sheila said, "There are three points on this earth that link the two worlds together. One was where the Temple of Time was constructed, and it was built there to close it intentionally. The second is where Darimar's castle was built in ancient times. The final one is far to the east of Hyrule, well out of our way."

"And not relevant, then," Ganondorf said.

"How do you know all that?" Alex asked.

Sheila had a small smirk as she replied, "The Sages are an interesting group. It's like they are a single entity in addition to being individuals. They share knowledge. To put it simply, I know everything that every sage throughout history has known. Each time the position was passed from one to another, the pool of wisdom and experiences grew.

"Though admittedly at my current stage, I am not able to comprehend everything I now know. But I understood enough of it to work with the other sages to create the barrier that now surrounds the village."

"But that's not relevant either," Ganondorf said, and looked directly at Link, "Before we set off, there's one more question: What did Cain change? You've had more experience with him than anyone else here. Any idea at all?"

Link knew Cain's goal had been to revive himself. He had attempted to take control of Midna, to take her body as his own. It was likely only a Twili could have been a victim to such an act, but now he was past that, and without taking someone else's body. So his efforts to take her must have just been the faster and easier way. But what beyond that?

Shaklator.

When Midna had used the mask to try to help them during the battle, Cain had been entirely focused on her, but in that state, he was too weak to match her, and she shattered the mask almost effortlessly.

"It's Shaklator," Link said, "It has to be. Cain hates her and wanted to kill her himself."

"That would make sense," Sheila said, "History says that during the ancient war, her scouting was what led Darius to to the rebels' hideaway, the city under the mountains. And it was there that Darius slew Cain, or at least we thought he did."

"Then it makes sense," Ganondorf said, "You recognized it, Link. The capital city, that is Twili architecture that replaced it."

"Yes," Link said.

"So what I surmise is that Cain changed the course of the ancient war," Ganondorf said, "After his death, the Twili were forced to flee across the sea, and attempted to take Hyrule. But the spirits of light that inhabit this land were more than they were ready for. And the Twilight Mirror, it was in Darius' possession when he disappeared following the war, and turned up here, and was used to banish the Twili from this world.

"Whether the Twili were still driven out or not, they did establish their nation here. The best hypothesis is that Darius, Shaklator, or both, were killed before the war was over, making their contributions, and possibly her eventual betrayal, to have never occurred. Thus altaring the outcome of the war, and the history of the world."

"So you're saying we go back in time to before Cain killed them, and stop him from doing so," Kilishandra said.

"It's the only chance we have before we vanish just like the rest of our world has," Ganondorf said.

"I don't know," Alex said, "Are we sure the world's so bad now?"

Everyone turned to him. "Think about it," he said, "The Twili have Hyrule, but without Shaklator and Darius, then the war was over. All that crap we went through five years ago, none of it would have happened. Mystara might not be a wasteland, and people are living there. We don't know."

"Exactly, we don't know," Ganondorf said, "Even if you're right, even if there are alternate versions of us out there, the simple fact is they are not us. This is not our world, and we can't exactly live in it if we're erased from existence.

"The very fact you're even thinking that is the evidence you're too soft."

"Hey, I can kill," Alex said, "Doesn't mean I have to enjoy it."

"I mean you're soft-hearted," Ganondorf said, and then pointed at him, before sweeping his arm, indicating the entire circle gathered, "Every last one of you, and I include you in this, Kili, are a bunch soft, would-be heroes who want to help people in need and try to believe in concepts of good and evil as if they are rote laws rather than mere philosophy.

"Good and evil, right and wrong, are all meaningless here. Maybe you can even see Cain as trying to help his people here, but that irrelevant. To save ourselves, the people we care about, and our world, we have to erase another from existence. In order to save our future, this future, and all the beings that exist within it, must die.

"It's them or us. It's just that simple."

He paused, and smiled, somehow a sinister smile even through the wildman beard covering his features.

"And that's why I'm here," he said, "To chaperone you bunch of goody-goodies and make sure you don't follow your instincts to jump in and help people in trouble and change history further. In order to save our future, we have to preserve every casualty that led up to it."

"And what exactly makes you the expert here?" Alex demanded.

"Don't argue with him!" Link said, but too late.

"Let me tell you something, boy," Ganondorf said, stepping toward Alex, "I have lived for more than four thousand years. Your entire existence is nothing more than an eyeblink compared to me. I've studied magicks across this entire world, and worlds beyond. I've commanded power beyond your wildest imaginings, and could have unmade the world if I so desired it." He paused, looking down at Alex, his face a mask of contempt. "Now," he added, "If you think there's someone more qualified to assess this situation, please point them out right now. Because if you can't, you need to shut the hell up. Got it?"

Alex hadn't backed down, but he swallowed before he was able to speak again. "Got it," he said.

Ganondorf may not have been nearly as powerful as he used to be, but he still had an overpowering presence. The man could probably intimidate a dozen Gorons into backing off if he tried.

"And you're staying here anyway," Ganondorf said, turning away from him.

"Wait, what?" Alex asked, "No, I'm going with this!"

Ganondorf turned, pointing at Link. "Magic sword and the most knowledge of this monster we have," he said, and then pointed at Kilishandra, "Sorceress." He then put his hand to his own chest. "Wizard."

And finally he pointed at Silviana. "Scout," he said, then looked back at Alex, "Shin-kicker. Get the message? There is nothing you can contribute to hunting a monster like this. You'd be dead weight. The only thing you might be good for is drawing its attention for a few seconds while it kills you."

Alex looked about to retort, but Silviana stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. "Pick your battles," she said, "You're not going to win this one."

"We retired from this shit for a reason," Alex said, "But I'm not going to let them drag you off without me."

"I won't be able to do anything in a fight against Cain either," Silviana said, "But he's right. I'm good at moving quietly and staying out of sight. If we have to avoid interfering with anyone that isn't Cain, I can go places they can't to keep a lookout."

Leaving them to it, Ganondorf turned to Link and Kilishandra. "Go get everything you're going to need," he said, "We have a very limited time limit on this, and I want to be going within the hour."

"You know, about six years ago, I'd have argued about this a lot harder," Link said.

"You still tried to claim it was impossible," Ganondorf said. "Trust me, it's much better to give everything the benefit of the doubt until you have proof it's impossible. You tend to be blindsided a lot less that way."

"Come on, let's get our things," Kilishandra said, turning to the ladder into the treehouse and climbing up without looking back.

Link did, pausing as he stepped onto the ladder to look over his shoulder. Sure enough, Ganondorf was watching them go, and he raised an eyebrow as Link looked back. So, he hadn't guessed it until now, Link noted.

Link had more than once wondered if his relationship with Kilishandra might change his judgement toward Ganondorf. The answer to that was resounding negative. Link still wanted to stab the guy. He had hoped to never see the wizard again, but it seemed life wasn't that kind.

And then working with him again. That was the insult to the injury. Time travel, changing history, and Shaklator. No, that was the insult. After going through so much to kill that bitch, now he had to go back in time to save her.

And save her from Cain at that.

Link paused as he stepped off the ladder onto the porch in front of his house. The images came unbidden to his mind. It may have been a dream, but the pain had been so real. And that horrific moment when he had been split in half, his eyes seperated yet both seeing the other half of his head, looking at each other. It sent a shiver down his spine even now.

It was something he'd never told anyone about. Midna had known because she'd been there. She'd understood. Fear was a natural human state, and Link knew that. It kept one alive, because it made them cautious. It made them careful.

But true, unbridled terror was something else. Link had never experienced a terror like that before in his life. And it had hit so hard, possibly because he'd never been so terrified, so helpless, ever before.

And he'd felt ashamed of it. People looked up to him. They followed him. He never truly believed himself to be the hero they claimed he was, but he knew they believed he was. And a hero was not supposed to be afraid. Especially not of a dream.

So he'd pushed it down, bottled it away. Tried to forget it happened. He invested himself into this task the queen had given him, hunting down everything from monsters to doomsday cults and dealing with them. And for a while, that had worked. But then the nightmares had started. The memory refused to die. And he knew why. When he wasn't focused, when he didn't have an immediate task, his thoughts always wondered back to the Fused Shadow. The broken pieces of that mask lay dormant in the vault beneath the castle.

Ganondorf was right. Cain defied all logic of life and death, still existing in that stone form, and he wasn't gone. And now he was truly alive again.

Link looked down at his hand, where the Triforce symbol had been for most of his life, but now was gone.

Am I strong enough to face him again? he wondered, Especially without the power that let me beat him before?

It wasn't physical strength Link was worried about, though. He had faced down everything from killer plants to dragons without flinching, using his wits to overcome them, not his raw power.

But Link wondered if he could face Cain without cracking under the pressure. In the kind of life he lived, one moment of hesitation is all it would take to kill someone.

Link moved to the door, looking inside. Kilishandra had tossed aside her shirt and was unlacing her trousers with one hand as she used the other to open the chest where she kept her armor. She kicked the trousers aside as she pulled the padded set from the chest, starting to get redressed. The padded trousers and matching shirt of course were for wearing under her armor, making the plates bearable.

And Link watched her, thinking about the time he had already cracked. He'd put up with the nightmares on his own for years, and then had come that night the two of them were sleeping at an inn on their way back to Hyrule.

She hadn't known what it was truly about. It had been the most vivid nightmare in some time, as if he was reliving it right then. But she'd come to him, and he told her. It spilled out, like a dam breaking under too much pressure. And telling someone had been a relief, like a weight pressing down on his chest had lifted. It felt good. And he'd started to apologize for dumping it all on her like that.

But then she kissed him.

Link wouldn't deny that he'd always known there was something there. He'd started to realize it back in Darimar. The fact was that Kilishandra had been so openly hostile to him that it was pretty obvious she was forcing it. As the two of them had to hate each other because of her father.

And it was actually kind of cute.

And then there was the dance. It may have been forced by Zelda, a show for the nobles, but they'd both known there was something there. She had still tried to deny it, but Link offered an olive branch, at least trying to make peace. At the time, he'd merely been thinking they could be friends. After all, he was with Midna.

But after everything was over, Midna had left. She'd made the choice herself to take up her responsibility over their relationship, and while it broke both their hearts, Link could never hold it against her. After watching Zelda grow so much over that year, transforming from the inexperienced princess into the queen Hyrule deserved, how long would it have been before Midna was ashamed of herself for not doing the same?

Link would never forget Midna, and would never forget what she meant to him, but he was still young, still had his life to live. He had wondered, working so closely with Kilishandra for years, if maybe that something between them could turn into something more.

They got along so well now, in spite of their working relationship having him outrank her, something he had thought she would hate, but it did seem she preferred to follow rather than lead. A true soldier in that regard, and she'd likely be unhappy as officer with men under her command.

And yet in spite of his wondering, the kiss had caught him completely off guard. It was like a bolt of lightning shot through him from the contact. After that, the night was blur of passion. Once they'd started, neither of them had any intention of stopping. If she wasn't on top of him, her legs and arms were both clamped around him, refusing to let go, not that he would have stopped if they weren't.

He had needed it. And so had she. They were both tired, and their stress was out of control. At least for a while, they needed to forget that the outside world existed.

And once it was done, Link slept soundly the rest of the night. He had woke feeling refreshed for the first time in a long while. He had managed to slip out of the bed without waking Kilishandra, and started to dress. She woke before he was finished.

And was where it had really started, he felt. A smile, and she returned it, and got up to dress herself. Not a word passed between them about it, and they made their way back to Hyrule to give their report to the queen, and immediately following that, they made for Kilishandra's room in the castle for the second round.

It might have seemed weird to those looking in from the outside of their relationship, but there had been any real discussion between them of it, or where they were going with it. It was an unspoken agreement, as he saw it, they they were just going one day at a time. He had no idea if it would last another day, or another fifty years. But now, they'd been sleeping in the same bed for three years with no sign of it ending anytime soon.

And Link found himself content with that for now. Midna had had a delicateness to her, and their lovemaking had been slow and gentle. Kilishandra was no maiden, and in the heat the moment was not shy about what she wanted. It was a wholly different experience.

"Hey, come help me," Kilishandra said, waking Link from his momentary lapse of nostalgia.

"Coming," he said, moving over to help her with her breastplate.

She had new armor, and so did he, made by the royal smith, Balthazar. It was made through the same painstaking process he had made the queen's armor. A new way of smelting the steel which resulted in metal thinner and lighter than anything other smiths produced, yet was far stronger.

As light as it was, the latches to hold the front and back of the breastplate together were hard to reach for the person wearing it, so it required help to get into and out of. Not that it was a new concept, as most any knight needed help with his armor. But with this armor, it didn't take four people to help lift them into a saddle.

Link had initially not been interested, preferring his chain shirt for the light weight and thus freedom of movement it offered, but upon actually wearing the armor himself, he was shocked to discover it was actually even lighter, and he could wear it under his tunic just like the chain shirt. And in the two years he'd had it, it had saved his life at least twice, the first time when a hill giant caught him full on with its club, tossing him a good twenty feet, yet the breastplate had held up to the impact, not even scratching the surface, sparing him from a crushed chest. And the second time, a man had pulled a stiletto and stabbed him. The blow had been hard enough that the knife had actually broken in half, and later Link couldn't find a scratch of wear it had struck.

Superior metal was truly amazing. It reminded him of what the dragon, Roxim, had remarked about ancient knights having armor so strong they could be rolled down a mountain and bounced off several cliffs without even scratching their surface. But it was likely that ancient armor had been fabricated with some form of magical aid, and what Balthazar had achieved was purely through science.

Kilishandra's armor was a bit more complete, having full arms and gauntlets, as well as shoulder pauldrons and greaves for her legs. Link preferred no armor on his legs, to maximize his movement ability, and also did not use shoulder pauldrons, though he did have plates for his biceps and gauntlets, but also still used his shield.

The other benefit of the armor being so light was it only took minutes to get into or out of it, another massive improvement over standard knight armor, and after helping Kilishandra lock her breastplate, he quickly changed cloths into his padded undershirt and was getting into his own breastplate when she helped him with the same. Then it was just a few more plates for the arms before pulling on his green tunic over it all.

"So how far is this Temple of Time?" she asked, turning and picking up the sheathed Master Sword from where it leaned against the wall and fastening the belt around her waist.

"Well, since we likely can't take the horses with us, just over an hour's walk," Link said as he tossed the baldric of his own weapon's sheath over his shoulder and fastening it across his chest.

"And anything in-between us and there?"

Link sighed. "If the entire world outside this barrier is different, like Sheila claims, I have no idea what's out there."

(placeholder)

Far north, in the courtyard of her castle, Midna, Queen of the Twili, stood in her royal armor, dark black like the obsidian used to construct the castle itself, as she faced the forty knights ready to go with her and investigate the bizarre light that had appeared to the south.

"You've all seen it," Queen Midna said loudly, so they could all here, "You've all felt its sting, even at this distance. That dome is likely even more deadly to us than the sun. I can fell the aura of magic I am unfamiliar with even at this distance. With my lord husband not returning for several more days, we must investigate ourselves. We must assume whomever created it is hostile, and will attack on sight.

"We travel in the shadows, and lie in wait. Do not emerge unless I order you to do so, and when you do, be ready for a fight to death."

She paused, more for effect than anything else, then slowly drew her weapon, though she did not need it, her shadow magic was far more deadly, but she held the sword high for her statement.

"Our ancestors came to this land, and defeated the monstrous light spirits whose very existence was a threat to our lives. And I will be damned if I let it be taken now. Are you ready to stand with me?"

A wordless shout of courage rose from her knights.

"Then we go," Queen Midna said, "Into the shadows we fade, and with the speed of darkness we fly."

Without another word, she began to sink as if into the ground, but in reality she was fading into the shadows, an ability all Twili had, and her knights did the same. They could travel far faster in the shadows than overland. And it would also protect them from the stinging, potentially deadly light radiating from the dome.

They would be at the dome of light in about an hour.