Steeped in Fearful Armor

I spend much of my time pondering the state of things. I wonder how I could have done things differently, how I could have defied those damned goddesses. Unfortunately, no matter how many ways I approach the issue, I am left vexingly unfulfilled. The deck, as they say, has been stacked against me from the beginning. We Gerudo have long been Hyrule's least loved children.

When the goddesses handed down the keys that would open the gate to the Sacred Realm, we Gerudo were forgotten. The Kokiri, Gorons, and Zora all received a precious stone whose true value lay not in their material worth but their magical potential. Many minstrels and bards would spin a tale of the goddesses as kind and forgiving, citing this system as evidence. If there should ever be reason for the sovereign of each nation-state to withhold their gem, the road to the Sacred Realm would remain barred. No one people could summon up divine power against the others for selfish, personal gain.

How conveniently they forget the nature of the Hylian gift. They neglect to mention the royal family's ownership of the Ocarina of Time, the Temple of Time, and the Master Sword that lay within. The gemstones of power may be necessary to open the gate, but there could be no throwing open of those doors if it were not for the Ocarina's song or the hallowed ground of the Temple. The Temple sits upon Hylian land, surrounded by the fortress-walls of the castle, lorded over by the Sage Rauru who was Hylian in his lifetime. The clues need but be seen. The goddesses saw fit to grant their greatest gifts to the Hylians.

I know not why. They are, without exception, the most power-hungry, spoiled, decadent, and odious of the races. The Gorons find themselves in an odd situation, as their stupidity is both their greatest fault and saving grace. They allow the Hylians to mock and manipulate them, but the Gorons are too naïve to be vindictive. It's only due to their natural constitution and prodigious strength that they haven't been conquered in the name of the royal family. The Zora, while exceedingly arrogant, are courteous enough to keep to themselves. The Kokiri are entirely useless, neither a force of good or ill will, confined to the forests as they are.

But I digress. The Hylians. Yes. I hate them so. They would have you believe that their ears are long and pointed for the purpose of hearing messages from the gods. How easily that simple bed time story is turned into a piece of political propaganda when the court seeks dominance over another's land and livelihood. How easily they cite divine will in their crusades against whoever lives upon the land where the grass is greenest.

The king's royal subjects eat it up. They are blind, deaf, and dumb. To call them sheep would be insulting to livestock. I begrudgingly respect the king and his forefathers for so meticulously crafting such a powerful cult of personality.

Many have leveled the same grievance against my personage. I do not blame them. At first glance, the authority awarded to a male is disproportionate to his abilities as a leader. He need only be the he amongst a sea of she to earn his spot as patriarch. Perhaps there is some slim truth to this critique. But who do we have to blame for the state of affairs amongst my people?

Ah, yes, it's our dear friends, the goddesses. Ours is a legend that was old when Hyrule was young. We went to war in a conflict that most displeased the heavenly whores. In punishment, the wenches cast a horrible curse upon us, culling every last man in the tribe.

Yet no one seems to care. It is not the sort of story that lack evidence. You need but look upon the denizens of Gerudo Fortress. Or, for the fainter of heart, glance at the Gerudo who mingle amongst the small-minded Hylians in the castle-town. I'm sure you already do, eyeing every last curve, looking for any sign that they might be pilfering. But take note of their gender instead of their sex or their stolen goods. She is a woman. They are all women. Many yarns spun throughout the generations become myths and tall tales, yet one cannot deny our story.

We are the survivors of an aborted genocide. You think me melodramatic for calling it that? Look upon us: Left on our own, we Gerudo would die out if not for foreign men. A boy-king is born once every century. It is a miracle if he should live half that long, given the harsh conditions of the desert.

The goddesses have made us the whore and harlots of Hyrule, the thieves and vagabonds. Those selfish sluts drove us into the deserts with their beloved Hylian tools and stripped of us our dignity. Our women must be whores to the Hylians or the occasional adventurer from far away lands hardy enough to brave the deserts. My mother was one such whore. It disgusts me to think that, by all accounts, I am half-Hylian.

True, my olive skin and fiery mane of hair mark me as the kind of my people, but these are merely skin deep. My mother made the blasphemous pilgrimage to the Hylian kingdom, where she took an unworthy Hylian man to her bed. I was the result of that gut-wrenching union. She was nothing special, my mother. She was just as shocked as anyone when she bore a male.

That was the way of things in the valley. We are the children of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Long before the goddesses smote my forefathers in their infinitely cruel caprice, the other races regarded us as cutthroats and thieves. They gaze through the same veils to this day. The only difference being that, in the former case, they were wrong. We became the pocket-picking breeding stock that we are after the goddesses murdered the men. It was an act of necessity. We sacrificed our dignity for our survival.

That is why I coveted the Triforce. It was the only thing that would allow us to become more than the second-class citizens (I give us too much credit; second-class would be a vast improvement), the kind of people we have been since Hyrule's inception. The Triforce is our birthright. Each and every other race received a piece of the puzzle that would open the gateway to the Sacred Realm. Surely, it is only fair that we be allowed what is on the other side.

My naiveté is nauseating, I know. I should never have expected so much from the goddesses. We were put on this world to lick Hylian boots. Do you know the cause of the war that culminated in our fall? The Hylians fancied themselves an empire and, at the time, we were the only tribe that could compete with them. So they took up swords in the name of the goddesses (in the name of all that is wrong with the world) and marched against us.

My ancestors were afflicted with the same childish hope. They thought they deserved the same modicum of respect as their brother races. They were wrong and for that wrongness, my people knew a most hideous wrath.

I've long held to the tenant of "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth." The Hylians left us blind and gum-mouthed generations ago. It's only fitting. The other races suffered collateral damage and little else.

I don't deny the pain I've caused. The Lost Woods filled with monsters, but how often did people venture into those woods beforehand? It was poisonous to most and those that were immune to its gases found it impossible to navigate. As for the Great Deku Tree, it was nothing but a weight holding them back. How are they ever supposed to become anything of worth so long as they tug at his coattails? Yes, the Gorons suffered greatly, but I only revived Volvagia in response to an attempt on my life. Eye for an eye. The Zoras faced a lake-freezing winter after King Zora refused to let my people fish from his streams. Tooth for a tooth. The Hylians?

You expect me to feel guilty for giving them their just desserts? That isn't entirely correct. The truth of the matter is that I was merciful to them (more than even the lowliest deserved). I could have sent a Moblin horde against Kakariko Village, or instigated a ReDead migration from the castle-town to the village, but I did not. I respected their strength. Such is the way of the valley and the desert beyond. They were determined and resourceful enough to escape the castle-town with their lives. They were the fittest, so they survived. They had earned their place in my Hyrule.

Many of my own people thought me a hypocrite. Funny, that. Everything I had ever done was for the sake of my people. People like Nabooru would have you believe otherwise. How I hated her. I hate her even to this day, so long after she drew her final breath. She turned the women against me. I tried to give them everything. However, Nabooru would not have it. She squared her shoulders so strongly and puffer her chest out so proudly as she declared they would not take it. They had not earned it. I was the thief, she said, even as she conspired to relieve the Spirit Temple of the Silver Gauntlets.

My heart hurt greatly for them. Generations of living under the bulk of Hylian propaganda had warped their minds. They thought they didn't deserve what was taken from them before they were even born. They had finally become the subservient creatures in deed as well as word. So I punished them.

They disrespected their grandmothers far more than I. They turned a blind eye to all our ancestors fought and died for so they could remain impoverished and helpless, just as the Hylians wanted. If they wanted oppression, I would give them that which they desired in spades. In the end, my iron grip molded them into what I had wanted of them. Nabooru and others conspired against me, willing to take on impossible odds for the sake of her people. She saw a despot trampling upon her people, a despot she would see deposed. If only it had come a few years sooner.

I find it unfortunate that the mingling of my pride and outrage blinded me from the real threat. It's ironic that he was the one to undo me; he was born a Hylian, who I have sworn to crush, and raised a Kokiri, who have been without point or purpose as long as they have lived. Yes, the Hero of Time was my undoing. I should have taken greater steps to eliminate him, but I was so sure he would draw out Princess Zelda, the last remnant of that opulent, twisted royal family, that I stayed my hand. Zelda would have eventually surfaced if I had killed him before her appearance. She would have made some mistake, likely revealing herself to Impa in the crone's final moments. And victory would have been mine. I can see it so clearly.

No, nothing good will come of this. I must focus on the here and now. I cannot let this boy's resemblance to the Hero of old distract me. Surely, he is cut from the same cloth, an agent of the goddesses, a tool of destiny. I weep for him. He thinks his actions and thoughts to be his own, but he is a puppet jerking upon sinister strings. I will sever them. I will sever whatever hold the sky witches have on this land.

I will do it with the very sword that was to pierce my heart. The irony is rich and thick, like chocolate. This sword crafted by the sages to drive me from the mortal coil so that the Triforce of Power smoldering my right hand might return to the Sacred Realm—this sword is what I was lacking. Destiny is working against me. Destiny is but another name for the goddesses. Why else would this same form—a little man in green—appear before me again? He is their avatar and sword.

I will gut him slowly. I will do it with the Sword of the Sages. I, too, have come to wield a great sword that was crafted in order to wreak the will of the goddesses. (I cannot begin to express my anger at that. The polluted pantheon would have spilled my blood in my native desert. They had finally given something to my people—The Arbiter's Grounds, an executioner's block of the goddesses, hewn into the rock and earth so that the enemies of the goddesses might be butchered. Fitting, I suppose.) We both have a third-blessing of the Triforce and a great blade. The playing field is finally even.

He won't make it easy, I'll give him that. Our blood flows in rivers. He has already best me in the form of the accursed Princess Zelda, as my spirit-beast Ganon, and on horseback. But he is alone now. He no longer has the princess-turned-imp to wield her Twilight magics against me. He no longer has the other princess to pierce me with the Arrows of Light. It is all coming down to this, a clash of swords, a battle of wills, a duel of destiny.

The pain is immense. He must be in agony. I know I am. I've never felt more alive. We circle again, only to tear into each other with vicious strokes that would have split any other in twain. The sword of evil's bane is every bit as potent as it was a hundred years ago. My flesh is rent like so much paper. But I hurt him in turn. I hurt him because this is the only thing I can do for him.

He will not listen. He has been poisoned by the thrice-told tales of the imp and the Princess. I can only offer him a grand and lasting death. He will never know the pain of immortality, of gazing upon the place of birth, only to find it devoid of life. I have seen neither hide nor hair of a single Gerudo since I galvanized Zant into expanding his realm. My people are gone, but I remain.

I can only conjecture as to what has happened. In all likelihood, they are dead. Perhaps the goddesses massacred the women with a plague or a flood for some perceived blasphemy. I do not know. But I do know that I will not allow it to pass. Even with the Triforce of Power, I will never reach the goddesses, never wrap my powerful hands around their necks, never have the satisfaction of wringing their necks. At the very least, I can lord over their precious Hyrule again; make a mockery of their greatest creation.

This time, I will be sure to drown the Hylians in a sea of their own blood. I didn't think it possible for their flaws to grown even more hideous, yet it has. The Kokiri have vanished, likely exterminated in the name of some obscure religious tradition. Even their own village, Kakariko, is a hollow shell of what it once was. It resembles the desert now. To think of my home and Hylians in the same moment turns my stomach, but it is the truth.

My mind is wandering and the Master Sword has chastised me for it. My arm is almost severed. A grievous wound to be sure, but I give him one in turn, stabbing him through the side.

Damnedable fairies! Why must you rob me of my victory? Twice now I have spilled his blood in greater quantities than Death will allow but you must rear your ugly, iridescent heads to mend his wounds! It is a futile struggle. True, the Triforce shard imbedded in my body and soul give far greater endurance than any mortal man, but it he could kill me, he would have done so by now.

Even still, he tries. He lifts his sword again. He raises his shield, even though I have hacked it into pieces by now. Even his magic armor is in tatters, its reserves exhausted. I commend him for his tenacity. I wish his mother had left him in the valley. I would have liked very much to cross blades with him not as an enemy, but as a sparring partner.

I'm getting sentimental in my old age. Generations have turned to dust over the course of my supernaturally charged lifetime, even if I resemble a man of thirty. I'm so old. I can feel my age in my soul, if not my body. I'm so tired of fighting. This battle is the exception rather than the rule. This will be my last great fight, and then I shall rule until the end of my days (if such a thing is possible without force).

Perhaps that time is now. I have made a misstep. He will surely capitalize. It is nothing I cannot handle, but the battle will be close, far closer than I would like. He lashes out with shield rather than sword. Curious.

Too late do I realize his intent. The blow knocks me back, throwing me off balance and aggravating my plethora of wounds. It is then that he lands his true blow. He should be at wit's end, barely able to lift his sword. Instead, he flies. He leaps on the legs of a supreme warrior, over my head. I turn, hoping to catch him as he lands. I do not get the chance.

Just as my foot begins to move, there is pain. It is the worst pain I have ever felt—worse than the pang in my chest when I realized just how poor my people are, worse than the sting of the Master Sword driven into my snout with the first Hero's victory, worse than the Sages driving their sword into chest. It opens my skull in a blow that would have split helms. Blood flies. Vision blurs. Knees go weak.

I do not want to die.

The sword slips from my hands before I realize I cannot feel them. The barrier I have erected to bar Zelda collapses and she approaches. No. I was not supposed to be like this. I cannot fight both of them at once.

I do not want to die.

I find the strength in myself to turn somehow. Of course I do. I am he who bears the Triforce of Power. I am a master swordsman. I am a master of the dark arts. I am the Gerudo-King. This is merely a set back. The Hero has defeated me before yet I rose again. It will never end. For I am immortal. Congratulations, young one. You have one the day, but there will come a day when I am the one who stands over my enemies slain. I will retreat for now, as nothing can be gained from this battle.

I do not want to die.

But Destiny does not agree. I feel like a snake slithering into the core of my being, where its fangs find something unique and beautiful. Of course Destiny must have it. Of course Destiny rips it away in a sickening, wrenching motion. Of course it is the mark on my hand, the thing that keeps me alive.

I do not want to die.

Din's providence, the shard of Power, is leaving me. The sensation of that golden essence leaving me is so much worse than the blood oozing from my wounds that there is no comparison. It does not hurt, but it is worse than pain. It is an unmaking of myself.

I do not want to die.

But die I shall. I can feel it happening. My life, as long and bloody as it has been, is at an end.

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry, Mother. I could not avenge your womb. I could not undo the sick sin committed against it as the Hylian did his terrible deed within it. I could not make the pain and shame of your falling pregnant to a Hylian man worthwhile. You suffered through it for nothing. You are not even bones anymore. You are a memory, a memory that exists only within my mind. My mind shall soon be no more. You will die in the most horrible way as I, too, perish.

I'm sorry to my people. I'm sorry I could not be the savior you wanted, the savior you deserved. When I tried, I did not do as you wished. You spurned me as king of Hyrule. I failed even as I succeeded. I'm sorry.

I do not want to die.

I'm sorriest for you, Hero. You have destroyed the one thing that could stop the twisted machinations of those above. I am the only one who opposes them. I am the only one who can. How long will they smile upon your people? It has been that way for a long time, but nothing lasts. My people have long been despised, but it was ages before the goddesses truly hated us. Long live hatred, loathing, rebellion, and death for those are all that stand between Hyrule and oblivion. The cycle of death and corruption spirals ever downward while three spoiled girls watch for their own amusement. How long before they grow bored?

When the goddesses walk upon this land again, holding their great culling swords, then…then, Hero, then you will know.