Approximately twenty years before the events of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
"So, Leif, what's the Zora village like? I've never been there." Rickard Fenris adjusted the pack on his back as he looked over at his brother. They were walking through the long tunnel from northern Hyrule to Zora's Domain.
Leif Fenris looked back at his younger brother. "I was only there once, but it's a peaceful place. The Zoras are pretty easygoing, but we do have to ask their permission to go to Snowpeak, since the entrance is in their territory."
"We'll have to spend the night here, won't we?" Rickard's pack rattled as he walked, the leather straps creaking with the movement. "I hope they have beds for Hylians. I heard they just sleep in the water."
Leif gave his brother a teasing grin, his dark blue eyes twinkling. "They don't get many visitors, so don't count on it." He laughed at Rickard's groan.
They emerged from the tunnel into a wide hallway, stone on one side, and open on the other, lined by smooth pillars. They were promptly stopped by a Zora wearing a helmet and holding a spear. The easy way the fish-man held the spear let them know he was not threatening them, but if they turned hostile, he knew how to use it.
"Welcome, travelers. What is your business in Zora's Domain?" The Zora's voice was high and musical, and he gestured out at the rest of the village as he spoke.
There were no buildings to speak of, but a magnificent waterfall rumbled down into a wide pool at the bottom of the village, accompanied by several smaller ones. Swirling, curving patterns decorated several places on the cliff sides, and they could see several Zoras swimming or walking below them.
Leif stepped forward. "I am Leif Fenris, and this is my brother, Rickard. We seek permission to enter the Snowpeak Mountains." He made sure he kept his hands away from the sword at his belt. He meant no harm to anyone here, but he had to admit he and his brother looked kind of rough. It had been a difficult journey to get here, and their clothes hadn't been in the best of shape to begin with.
The Zora looked them over for a few moments, his face inscrutable behind his helmet. "All right. I'll take you to the throne room. Follow me."
The aquatic being turned and strode up the path, and the brothers followed him. As they reached the top of the staircase and stepped out into the open, Rickard turned and pointed.
"Hey, you can see the castle from up here!"
"Hyrule Castle is the tallest building in the kingdom. You can see it from almost anywhere." Leif patted his brother's shoulder, gesturing for him to follow.
The Zora tapped his spear against the ground. "This way, please." The fish-man led the way into the throne room, and stopped at the entrance. "Announcing Leif and Rickard Fenris, travelers from Hyrule." He turned to them. "You must ask the King for permission to enter Snowpeak."
The brothers looked across the throne room. It was a long, wide hall, with a pool of deep water in the center. The architecture was smooth and flowing, as if the hall had been carved out with water. There were a number of Zoras in the hall, either sitting on the steps that lined the pool, or standing along the lattice walls that curved around the outer edge of the hall. More guards stood next to the throne at the end of the hall, on which sat a male Zora with a coral-and-gem crown. Next to him stood a female Zora, who wore a gold-and-sapphire necklace.
Leif and Rickard made their way across the hall, stopping and bowing before the throne.
"Rise," said the seated Zora. His voice was deeper than the guard's, but was still musical, as if the aquatic people ordinarily communicated through song instead of speech. "I am King Zora, and this is my Queen, Rutela. What is your business in my domain?"
"We seek permission to enter the Snowpeak Mountains, Your Majesties," Leif said. Rickard nodded silently next to him.
"The mountains are very dangerous. Why do you wish to go there?" Queen Rutela asked.
"We're looking for our family's ancestral mansion. It is said to be in the mountains somewhere." Leif looked up at the Zora royalty as he spoke, making sure his tone was respectful.
"Your second name is Fenris, correct?" At Leif's nod, King Zora continued. "My great-grandfather had dealings with a man called Fenris. His name was… Indrow, I believe. He shipped a substantial amount of lumber and stone up our river, and occasionally sent ore down it. This man was your ancestor, yes?"
"Yes, Your Majesty, Endrew Fenris was my ancestor. You wouldn't happen to know where, exactly, he built his mansion, would you?" Leif asked.
King Zora shook his head. "I do not. I do know that this… Endrew built a road to his mansion, and you may be able to find it. My people do not venture into Snowpeak often, and even then, we never go farther than the frozen river. You may enter, if you wish, but we will not send search parties after you."
Leif bowed. "I understand, Your Majesty. Thank you." He straightened. "We also ask to stay here for the night, if we may."
Queen Rutela smiled. "We are not accustomed to hosting humans, but you are welcome to stay as long as you like. Someone will show you to where you can stay."
The brothers thanked the Zora King and Queen, and followed one of the other aquatic beings out of the throne room. They spent the rest of the day in the village, and not long after dark, went to sleep on the seaweed-stuffed mattresses the Zora provided.
The next day, the brothers dressed in their warmest clothes and draped their cloaks over their packs. On a warning from the Zora who guided them to the frozen river, they kept the short swords they had brought within easy reach. Both were well trained with the swords, and the brothers were confident they could overcome any obstacle.
They thanked their guide as she turned around and headed back to Zora's Domain, and they looked out at the frozen river and beyond at the rocky white-covered landscape.
"Who would want to live here?" Rickard wondered. "It's so desolate."
Leif nodded. "It's certainly uninviting. Maybe Endrew thought no one would ever bother him out here."
Rickard grumbled. "None of the stories I've heard about him made him sound crazy. But he'd have to be to build a mansion out here."
Leif drew his cloak tighter. It was bitterly cold out here. "Well, come on. We aren't going to find the road by standing around talking. Look for a bridge."
They walked along the frozen shore for a few minutes, trying to spot a bridge under the ice. After a while, Rickard spotted some wood, but it turned out to be part of a boat.
"Say, Leif, this boat looks bigger than that tunnel entrance. How'd they get it here?"
Leif frowned thoughtfully under his scarf. "This river might not have always been frozen. See how it goes off there, to the left? This might join up with Zora's River at some point."
Rickard shrugged. "Well, it can't help us. See, it's broken in half. It's probably why they left it here." Rickard stopped and looked out across the frozen river, and the floes bobbing in the freezing water. "Come on, I think I see a path through the ice. Follow me!" Leif's younger brother boldly leaped from the shore to a large chunk of ice floating in the river, waving for Leif to follow him.
Somewhat more cautiously, Leif jumped onto the ice chunk, waving his arms to steady himself when he almost slipped. The brothers made their way over the frozen river slowly, stopping at the opposite shore.
They looked up at the steep and forbidding slope, but as Leif peered at the snow drifts, he started to see a regular path in places. He pulled his cloak tighter and started up the slope, sinking in the snow almost to his waist at times. Rickard followed, and they were halfway up the first slope in only twenty minutes.
Suddenly, they heard a low growling sound. The brothers stopped, trying to figure out where the noise was coming from. It seemed to be coming from under the snow, but Leif wasn't sure. He and Rickard drew their swords, gripping them tightly in their gloved hands.
With a fierce snarl and a spray of snow, a furry white creature leaped out at Leif. Almost without thinking, he slashed, and the dog-like creature fell to the snow with a whimper, staining it red.
Rickard poked it with his sword while Leif looked warily around for more of the things. But none came, and gradually they relaxed a little.
"What is this thing? It looks similar to a wolf, but it looks like it has of ice instead of fur."
Leif kicked the dead monster out of the way. "Must be a Wolfos. Smaller than wolves and not as intelligent. They attack each other more often than they do prey, and so there aren't many of them. I've heard that sorcerers like to make them into their servants, since they're already freakish. Let's hope we don't run into too many more."
Rickard looked at his brother. "What about real wolves?"
"If we don't bother them, they won't bother us. Just stay away from anything that looks like a den, and we should be fine." Leif kept his sword out, just in case.
They made good time up the mountain, and by midday, they were nearing the top of the peak. The brothers had to fight one more Wolfos on their way up, but the wildlife otherwise left them alone. Leif and Rickard spotted a great lumbering snow-bear twice, and both times had to huddle against the edge of the cliff and wait for it to leave. Luckily, it was heading down the mountain, and they were going up, so Leif thought they wouldn't see it again.
It was slower going the closer they got to the peak, because the snow got thicker and thicker, and they had to walk slower to avoid falling through in places. The path got very narrow, and at times they had to press themselves against the cliff to keep on it. The cold sapped their strength, but they were determined to reach the top by nightfall, and so they kept themselves going.
Around four hours after noon, they were almost at the top of the mountain. Leif found a strange stone sticking up out of the snow on a protrusion, and he stopped to clear it off and investigate. The Fenris brothers swept the snow away from the stone, and examined it in detail. It was about three and a half feet high, with a perfectly circular hole in the middle. Around the hole was carved another circle, making it look like an eye. There were three triangular markings on top of the circle, and underneath it stretched a mark that looked like a teardrop. Leif thought he heard a faint noise coming from the stone, but Rickard insisted that he didn't hear anything.
"Who put this here?" Rickard asked. "Is it a marker to show the way to the mansion?"
Leif shook his head. "I don't think so. The Fenris crest doesn't look like this. It looks more like two swords crossed over a winged shield. I don't know what this symbol is."
"Well, there's not much point in looking at it any more. It's starting to get dark already, so let's find a cave or something. I don't want to be out here at night." Rickard kicked some snow at the stone and turned around, but Leif remained standing there, looking at it a while longer.
He didn't know why, but the symbol seemed very familiar to him. He was certain it was making a faint noise, a pattern that rose and fell in pitch.
"Come on, Leif! I'm freezing out here! Let's build a fire or something!" Rickard called to him.
Leif broke away from the stone, deciding to investigate the symbol when they returned to Hyrule. Rickard was standing in snow up to his knees next to a hole in the cliff that was almost covered in snow. He was gingerly poking the hole with his sword, making sure an animal hadn't claimed it.
"This opens out further inside," Rickard told his brother, "but I can't make much out. This looks like a good place to stop for the night, if there isn't anything in there."
The brothers cleared the snow away from the hole quickly, shoving it aside so they could see in. Rickard, who was smaller, crawled in first, his sword out in front of him. Leif heard him stomping on stone, and he heard Rickard call for him to come inside.
Leif looked around the small cavern they found themselves in. It looked like it had been carved out and was not naturally occurring. This was reinforced by the ladder in a small niche running up the back wall. There was also a torch post, and a block of frozen ice sat in one corner of the small cave. Leif could dimly see another post inside it. Rickard was attempting to light a fire in the torch post with his matches, and before long, he succeeded, a crackling blaze spreading heat through the cave.
Rickard sat down next to the torch, shrugging off his pack and setting against the wall. "I think this means we've found the road, eh, Leif?" Rickard grinned at his brother. "Plus, I don't think anything lives in here, so we're probably safe for the night."
Leif set his own pack down next to his brother's. "Unless a Yeti comes in." They both laughed at this. Everybody knew Yetis weren't real. They were just a myth conjured up by overly imaginative travelers.
They resisted the urge to see what was up the ladder until they had warmed up a bit next to the torch.
"So, what do you think we'll find in Endrew's mansion?" Rickard asked. "I hope some maps of the mines, or at least something to tell us where they are."
Leif shrugged. "I don't know much about the mansion itself. All I know is Randall Fenris abandoned it about a hundred years ago after he lost all his money."
Rickard looked over at his brother. "How did Randall lose his money, again? I know he irritated the King somehow, but I never paid much attention when Father told his stories."
Leif smirked. "You should have. Those stories are the reason we're here. Now I'm glad you're not trying this by yourself."
His brother gave him an exasperated glare. "It was your idea. You fell for that line Father spun about us being descended from a Hero, and you thought we should go off and find the mansion ourselves. Never mind that we're not mountain climbers or soldiers. We raise horses for a living!"
Leif looked at Rickard with a grin. "Where's your sense of adventure?"
Rickard smirked back. "It went numb a few hours ago, along with the rest of my extremities. Now, are you going to tell me, or not?"
The elder Fenris sat up straighter as he remembered the stories his father had told him when they were children. "Well, I assume you know about Endrew Fenris and how he got rich off the mines he made in these mountains?" Rickard nodded and Leif continued. "That's good. I had hoped you were paying at least that much attention to Father." Leif grinned as Rickard rolled his eyes and he continued.
"Anyway, after Endrew built his mansion in the mountains, our family was one of the wealthiest in Hyrule for several generations. Then came Randall Fenris. From what Father showed me of his surviving business records, Randall was not a very smart man. Even before he insulted the King, he was running the business into the ground."
Rickard rubbed at his upper lip as the snow in his beard melted. "I knew that. I was just wondering how he insulted the King."
Leif thought for a moment. "I'm not sure. Whatever it was, it was bad enough for the King to decree that no one in Hyrule buy from him. Obviously, Randall lost a lot of money very quickly, so he moved out of the mansion and disappeared with what was left of the family fortune."
"And that's why we raise horses instead of living like princes," Rickard scoffed. "If I could meet him, I'd have a few things to say to him."
"Except for the fact that he's probably been dead for ninety years," Leif pointed out.
Rickard smiled wryly. "Well, there's that. But, the mines still had plenty left in them when they were abandoned, didn't they?"
"That's what Father said. Before he died, he told me that if we could find the mines, our family would be rich again." Leif leaned back against his bag, putting his hands behind his head.
"It's not so bad, raising horses." Rickard stood and walked over to the ladder. "But having all that money wouldn't be too bad, either, am I right?"
Leif put his cloak back on as he stood, also. "You're right. But, I want my children to have more than we did when we were growing up."
Rickard smirked at him. "You don't have any children, yet. You only got married last year. Speaking of Nomi, I wish she was here. I could use some of her cooking right about now." He patted his stomach for emphasis.
"I wish she could have come along, too, but someone had to stay behind with the ranch. I don't trust that hand you hired as far as I can throw him." Leif crossed to the ladder and paused by it.
His brother rolled his eyes. "Yes, we all know your opinion of Hingo. But, he can ride a horse like nobody's business, so that's why I hired him." Rickard gestured up the ladder. "Shall we see what else is in here? We've got a couple hours to look around, I think."
They headed up the ladder and looked around the next room in the cavern. It was quite a bit larger than the previous room, and they could see another ladder at the far end. There were a number of ledges, almost like giant steps, that lead up to the ladder, and there were several crates and boxes scattered around the cavern.
Rickard opened one of the boxes, and he turned to show Leif a fistful of rocks. "I'd say these are from the mines, though I'm surprised that there's anything left after a hundred years."
Leif looked at the box Rickard had opened more closely. "There's no way this box is a hundred years old. I'd say someone else was still mining after Randall left."
Rickard dropped the rocks back into the crate. "Maybe some of the workers came back up here and were mining on their own. All this stuff still looks pretty old, though. I don't think anyone's been here in a long time."
Leif yawned. "Well, I'm pretty tired from the climb, so I say we leave the rest of this for tomorrow. I'm going to sleep." He started back down the ladder and rolled out his cloak, taking a blanket out of his pack and resting his head on his bag.
Rickard stayed up a little while longer, looking around in the cavern, but eventually, he too retired, resting up for the climb tomorrow.
The next morning, The Fenris brothers looked around in the cavern some more, taking two pickaxes with them after testing the tools to make sure they were still useable.
They hiked up the rest of the cavern, ascending the ladder in the back of the second room, and finding a stone door at the very top. With effort, they rolled it aside and stepped out into the cold mountain air once again.
Leif and Rickard found themselves on a small icy plateau that swept up to a small hill with a frozen tree growing on one side. The brothers struggled through the deep snow up to the tree, pausing against it to look down at the rest of the mountain. This area seemed to be the highest part of this mountain, and they could see for miles in all directions. The mountains, covered in snow and ice, reflected a wide array of colors in the early morning sunlight.
Rickard whistled. "I wish I had a picto-box right about now. What a view!"
Leif nodded. "It's certainly impressive. If it wasn't so cold, I'd stay here and look longer. But, we have a ways to go still, so let's go." He turned away and looked down, searching for the remains of the old road.
When he finally spotted it, it was long and winding, ducking around outcroppings and occasionally disappearing in places. It was solidly constructed, and had stood up to the ravages of time fairly well, but almost a century of snowstorms had either eradicated or covered most of it, and it was little more than an outline in places.
The Fenris brothers made their way down the mountain, keeping to what was left of the road, and they came to a rickety wooden bridge, which was falling apart and covered in ice. There were gaps in it that would have to be jumped over, and they approached it slowly.
Rickard got up a running start and leaped over the gaps without slowing, like jumping hurdles in a race, and he skidded to a stop on the ice of the other side. Leif was frankly astonished that he didn't slip on the ice, and he approached the obstacle more carefully.
Leif jumped over the first gap and slowly made his way over the creaking wooden bridge, carefully avoiding any unstable areas. As he walked, he thought it pure dumb luck that Rickard hadn't put his foot through one and fallen off. He jumped over the second gap, and the third, and finally made his way to the end, where his brother stood.
Rickard's face was covered by a scarf and his hood, but the teasing in his voice made it obvious that he was smiling. "Took you long enough. The only way you'd have gone slower was with a broken leg."
Leif raised his eyebrow at this. "It was a miracle you didn't fall off. You'd probably still be falling if you had. Did you see the next part of the road while you were waiting?"
Rickard nodded. "It's through there. See how it slopes down real sharply and then straightens out? The road picks back up down there, and then it curves off to the right after that arch there."
The elder Fenris looked strangely at his brother. "You can see all that from here?"
The younger sibling shook his head. "I brought my Hawkeye." He held the item up for his brother to see.
Leif shrugged. "All right then. Let's go."
As they made their way down the mountain, following the road, Rickard remarked that their journey would have been made easier with a sled.
Leif replied as they passed through a frozen copse of evergreen trees. "Except you don't know how to ride one."
Rickard scoffed. "That shouldn't stop anybody. All it would take is a few minutes to figure out how to balance and control the slide. There aren't any sharp turns here, and it's all pretty much open."
"I'm sure everyone would be able to figure it out that quickly," Leif commented dryly. "It wouldn't be any trouble at all!" He chuckled as Rickard frowned at him under his scarf.
As the day began to draw to a close, they came to the curve that Rickard had spotted earlier, and they talked about stopping for the day as they made their way around it, but suddenly, Rickard stopped and grabbed his brother's arm.
"Leif, look at that!" Rickard thrust out his arm in front of him pointing ahead.
Leif looked up, and he saw it. Off in the distance, through the fog and the swirling snow, was the unmistakable outline of a building.
As if on cue, the fog parted, revealing the once-grand manor they had been searching for. The most noticeable feature was the great domed tower that dominated the structure, surrounded by the walls of the mansion.
"It looks like a fortress," Rickard commented. "See how it's on that plateau there, with drop-offs on all sides?"
Leif nodded. "It looks like the only way to get in is from the front." He looked up at the sky, attempting to judge how much daylight they had left. "I think we can get there before dark, don't you?"
His brother stretched his arms, some of the snow on his cloak falling off. "Probably. Let's go." Rickard started off down the road, his pace noticeably quicker than before.
They were both excited to have found their objective so quickly. They had thought it would take at least four days of searching to find the manor, but since they had found it now, it shaved precious time off their journey, which meant they now had more time to explore Endrew's mansion and discover its secrets.
The Fenris brothers made good time down the rest of the slope, and just as the sun was setting, the cloudy gray sky lighting up with brief streaks of color, they finally stumbled out of the snow and onto the small stone courtyard in front of the massive building.
They spent a few moments stomping the snow off their boots and shaking it off of their clothes as they looked up at the home their ancestors had built and lived in for generations.
The brothers shared a brief excited look before ascending the steps and opening the door, stepping inside.
Author's Note: This story originated as I was exploring Snowpeak Ruins in 'Twilight Princess' but I forgot about it until I played that part of the game again recently. I was going to just sum it up in my other Zelda story, 'The Fourth Piece', but the ideas I came up with were just too interesting to not make into a full story. This will be short, probably not more than seven chapters of about this size, but I hope you like it. Also, this will tie into 'The Fourth Piece' in the future, so I recommend reading that story if you like this one. Please tell me what you think, and thanks for reading!