A Song of Gold and Darkness
" . . . so cam it
to passe; ðæt inn ye FIVTH AGE of þe
KYNGEDŒM OF HYRULE, ðæt danger moste foul once agayne rose—fromme owte of
legende-myst, a cursed fiend, stalker fen and moor, weald and
mountayne-talle. He hungered for þe
taste of dethe and payne; but moste of all, this goddess-hated dæmon lusted for
POWER, evenne as a stoat lusteð for bloode.
"Callynge forþ his hated under-defyls, þe damned dæmon
þrew down þe gode KYNGE HARKINIAN of Hyrule, and as captyfe toke þe PRINCESS
ZELDA. Ðus provynge his power, he moste
cowardlye slauhtered þe noble HYLIAN CNYCHTS evenne down to þe laste. Darkness spread across þe sonne, and the
mune becam as bloode. In þe
hefen-skye, ÞREE GOLDEN STARS wept a
tere of þe deepest redde to see soche yfel.
"Þe dæmon hight himme MANDRAG GANON.
"Nowe it happened in ðose days, ðat þe laste desendante of
þe SHIEKAH escaped þe vyle sourceriæs of GANON. Pursued fromme þe castle by hate-folle defyls of his armye, she
founde herself at þe end of strength.
Yet did þe goddesses see fyt to send a CHAMPION to her rescewe.
"A yonge wariour, þe laste of þe HYLIAN CNYCHTS, destroyed
þe cursed defyls, and ðus sayfed IMPAS lyfe.
She ðen revealed þe reason for hated GANON's attakke. Þe yonge man burned wyþ dutyes
bryght-flayme. So wyþ bryght-pattyrned
brand and hard-linked maille, he
journeyed evenne unto þe Centre of Darkness and ðus slew GANON.
"Ðus was þe fiend finally defeated, and þe yonge hero
sayfed þe PRINCESS ZELDA. His nam shall
echo þrough historey: he was LINK.
--fragment from "Þe Laye of Hyrule" an ancient history of
the world of Hyrule
descending globe of fire in the west, the sun had already dipped halfway below
the jagged silhouette of the Death Mountains.
Golden light, tinted ruby by the thin cowl of clouds that had settled
itself around the peaks of the towering mountains, limned the world in shades
piercing sunset cut through the mist-shrouded bowels of the venerable Lost
Woods. Ancient, knowing trees, gnarled
by age and weather, basked in the rare evening illumination. Their moss-hung boughs and the swallows'
nests that they cradled stretched towards the warmth. In the deepest, most forgotten glade of the massive forest, sunlight
glinted off the petrified surface of two giant trees, once guardians of their
to the east, the dark surface of the Great Water glinted with a thousand
brilliant gems of reflected sunlight.
The gentle surf brought waves of carnelian light to scatter and diffuse
into the moisture-darkened sand. From
the sheer cliffs that overlooked the easternmost tips of the coast, a handful
of fishermen gazed admiringly upon the daily spectacle.
sun imparted the day's last bit of warmth and light before finally slipping
beneath the mountains and relinquishing the land to the guardianship of the
stars and their pale queen, the moon.
had fallen upon the Old Kingdom.
mingled with the moon's pale radiance to highlight the world in silver. To the north, an owl hunted for dinner in
the maze-like Lost Hills. A jumble of
giant, monolithic rocks and boulders poking out like bones from a carpet of
emerald green grass, the Lost Hills endured in quiet majesty beneath the
overhead, the constellations burned with their pure, distant light. Here, nine stars combined to make the shape
that a village of child-sprites had named 'The Great Deku.' There, on the other side of the sky, four
blue stars and a red one formed the constellation known as 'Din's Torch.'
in the center, eight stars, all golden, formed a constellation known to all who
lived in Hyrule. Long ago, the desert
people had called it 'The Great Lasso.'
The ancestors of the Zora folk named it Sluurik, which means 'Wave of Gold.'
name by which it was known was, simply, 'the Triforce.'
night, in the center of the triangular constellation, a single point of crimson
appeared. It flared to a blazing,
hellish point of light for a fraction of a second, and then winked out, leaving
no trace of its existence. While many a stargazer had witnessed the oddity,
only a few would mark its importance . . .
* * * * *
Red Pope shifted in his robes of office.
layers of scarlet and crimson brocade trailed from his shoulders, flapped
lazily in the low evening breeze. He
adjusted his plumed, crested hat of office and pulled the rich velvet cloak
around his shoulders a little more tightly.
was too cool for his liking. The
Goddess Din approved of warmth. After all, had not she, in her infinite
power, cultivated the land with fire and given the world magma for its
lifeblood? Was not the sacred flame
that burned in the Red Pope's Cathedral called "Din's Fire?"
course, it made sense. Tonight, on this
cool, windy night, Din's Fire Star had appeared to light the way for the Red
Pope and all true followers of Din.
This breeze was merely a sign of the other, lesser goddesses' jealousy.
the Red Pope snapped. "Enough. I have seen the portents; Din has
spoken. Let us return." He gathered his cloak and robes in folds,
flipped up his broad hood, and strode—blood colored boots clicking on rough
stone—down the precipice.
from the needle of stone that extended from the low rock formation a few miles
out from the Red Cathedral, the Red Pope was an imposing sight. In his youth, he had been a blacksmith, and
the broad set of his shoulders still bespoke a build more typical to a laborer
than a cleric.
eyes had always been dark, but as his adult years lengthened into the shadow
that heralded the beginning of old age, the word to describe them became
flinty. His life had not been an easy
one, especially once he heeded the call of the One True Goddess and cast down his
hammer in favor of a cleric's scepter.
red-auburn hair framed his hard face under the hood. Once, before age and worry had made his body hard and cold, his
hair had been the angry color of heated iron just before quenching. However, his devotion to the Goddess of
Strength had tempered his body as well as his soul.
was his devotion to the Goddess that had gained him this position. The Red Pope was the highest position one
could hope to attain in this faith; it was not lightly aspired to, or earned.
only the seventh Ruwlish Red Pope to be elected by the Council of Din in two
millennia, this was a position to be not only cherished, but held in the
highest regard possible. After all,
everybody knew that Ruwlish were born
even more sinful than the blackest-souled Hylian. For a Ruwlish to achieve the status of Red Pope meant that Din
had taken a personal hand in things.
now, with the appearance of the Fire Star, she had done so again.
Red Pope planted his foot firmly in the stirrup and swung himself up onto his
horse's saddle. "Come, Jehan," he said
again. "Din has much work for us, and
little time in which to complete it."
his manservant, was a young man of ample build and spare wits. "Little time, your Holiness? I thought we had a quarter century—"
eyes narrowed. "Din has spoken to me,
my son," the Red Pope admonished, voice steely, "If we have all prepared in a
mere quarter century, we shall be blessedly lucky indeed. Now, let's be off."
heart raced. For the first time since
the Jewel Crusades, the Church of Din would be lending its full powers to a
meaningful cause! The Red Pope grinned
fiercely into the night and spurred his horse.
* * * * *
steppes of the Gerudo Desert were an inhospitable nightmare.
day, they were a scorching wasteland of tan and golden sand, dotted with
heat-cracked boulders and the loathsome things which craved their shade. Even seasoned travelers often lost their way
and perished amidst the pitiless, driving sandstorms that were the only form of
night, the unbearable heat became a cold that was surreal by comparison. The blazing sands turned pale and frozen by
moonlight, and the boulders absorbed what warmth they could. It was not uncommon to hear the crackle of
frost-rimed sand underfoot while traveling at night.
only folk to call the steppes their home were outlaws, nomads, and those few
tribes of unfortunates who still lived in exile. Out of those who still lived in amidst the monster-infested
dunes, only one noted both the existence and significance of the red star.
worried eyes glared into the center of the golden, triangular constellation,
willing it to revoke the dread omen.
Moonlight etched her face in lines of care and age as she sighed and
shook her head.
many years ago, her face had been reckoned beautiful by her small tribe. However, the passage of time had been
unforgiving as the desert winds to which she had become accustomed. Red eyes in this part of the world were
looked upon as demonic rather than a blessing, and tapered ears marked her as
outcast in this human-dominated land.
hair was silvery-white, but it had always been so. As far as she knew, that was an exclusive mark of her tribe's
lineage. Legend told that in an age
past, her ancestors had taken the vow to become sheikah—"shadows"—to protect the Royal Hylian family. Shellak had always found it odd that hair
the color of the moon had been bestowed upon a people that named themselves
shrugged creaking shoulders and turned.
paces away, her daughter Impa slept.
Shellak had been gifted with Impa late in life, and so while Shellak
herself counted nearly three score years to her own age, Impa had just
completed her rite of passage to womanhood a year past. Like her mother, Impa boasted hair of silver
and eyes crimson.
up, lass." Shellak's command was nearly
a whisper, but it produced an immediate result. Impa rolled to her feet blearily, and placed a sleep-heavy hand
on the long knife at her belt.
"Trouble?" Impa's voice held the same iron timbre as
her mother's but edged with the energy of youth.
nodded gravely. "Trouble of the worst
kind, I'm afraid."
eyes flickered towards the center of the Triforce constellation, widened. "You can't mean . . .?"
can. You've always known that it might
happen in your lifetime, girl. Don't go
all tremble-kneed on me, now." Shellak
tried to keep her voice stern, but a cold knife of dread twisted itself in her
guts. That her daughter, of all people,
had been ordained as fate's pawn . . . The injustice of it made Shellak burn
straightened her shoulders bravely.
"Where must we go?"
her mother answered simply. East
and east and east. So far east, you
will begin to hate the sight of the sun in the morning. The thought of the impossibly
long march bent Shellak's mouth into a frown.
"East, into the Springlands."
blanced. "The Springlands? Hyrule? We're outlawed there!"
held out her arms, palms up. "We have
no choice. The Royal Family--"
us hundreds of years ago," Impa snapped, "For our failure to protect them
during the Sosarian War. We have no
allegiance to them, now."
you must see it that way," Shellak sighed, with the air of one weary of
repeating the same argument, "Then think of this: all lands will be affected by
this curse. You know the prophecy as
well as I, girl."
ground her teeth, but remained silent.
Several heartbeats passed, with no words exchanged between mother and
daughter. Finally, Impa shifted her
cloak and nodded, once. "As you say, I
always knew it might happen in my lifetime."
felt like hugging her daughter, but feared it might break both of their
resolve. Instead, she gathered up her
pack and walking staff. Briefly
hesitating to consult the stars for direction, she motioned eastwards and began
* * * * *
myth said that once this had been a mountain in truth, but that a duel between
wizards had blasted it hollow. For
thousands of years since then, it had been home to the rock-like goron race,
who thrived in the semi-volcanic conditions within.
the peak, a man swathed in raven-and-crimson hued robes passed a pale, bony hand
before his face, and nodded, as if to reassure himself. The birth and death of the Blood Star
confirmed what a myriad of other portents had suggested: this was the night.
he marched back inside, ignoring the chill mountain wind that twisted his robes
into strange, billowing shapes. Now
that the Blood Star had revealed itself, he had little time. The ceremony would need to be performed
quickly if all was to proceed as planned.
the entrance to the ceremonial chamber within the mountain's peak, two guards
stood. Hunched slightly in their boiled
leather armor, they grunted to one another nervously. Covered underneath their armor with coarse, brown fur, the creatures
had no need of cloak or garments against the mountain air.
the dark-robed priest approached, both monsters stood a little taller. Incapable of standing fully erect like men,
the creatures' attempt at dignity was more comical than anything else. The priest would have laughed, but knew that
the fangs of the bulldog-like moblins were easily capable of tearing out a
deer's throat—much less a man's.
brushed by the guards imperiously and proceeded to the center of the
chamber. Lit by scores of bone-white
candles whose flames—eerily—did not waver in the wind, the chamber was otherwise
nearly solid black.
floor was of polished obsidian, set with white marble tiles that formed a
mosaic human skull. The dark priest
smiled grimly. He supposed that the
Master had been human once, so the image
of a human skull was not altogether inappropriate. The myriad of candles reflected in the floor and ceiling,
momentary illusion of walking amongst a sea of stars.
each corner of the perfectly square room, dark iron braziers burned with angry
red flames that warmed the chamber somewhat, but provided little illumination
against the nighted color of the walls and ceiling.
the exact center of the room stood an altar, made of the same polished obsidian
as the floor, walls, and ceiling.
However, no candlelight glanced off its surface. Stained with generations of unholy rites and
sacrifices, altar exuded an atmosphere of its own. Cold. Dead. Bitterly hateful and jealous of life itself.
priest took a few steps towards the altar and stopped.
preparations had already been made; as he stepped closer to the altar, a circle
of runes surrounding it began to blaze with a cold light. The candles guttered, although the wind
outside had died down to nothing.
the altar, a brass-rimmed iron bowl shuddered.
The liquid in it was not blood, although it may as well have been, as
far as the priest was concerned. As he
picked it up and turned it over above his head, the cold, unclean feeling of it chilled him through his skin to the
core of his being.
knew the canticle he must recite—knew it by rote. He had practiced it, the foreign words with their dark
inflections and grisly undertone, for hours on end. As he replaced the bowl on the altar, he could see smoke beginning
to rise from the circle of runes in his peripheral vision.
ahead, he began to chant, repeating the words over and over.
for the first time, he questioned his own motivations; the point of no return
was fast approaching. Was such drastic
action truly necessary to restore the balance?
He closed his eyes—that would not interfere with the ritual—and
continued the chant.
had been a cleric of Farore once, giving thanks for the rain and the waters and
the wind. But he had grown disenchanted
with his religion—with the world. How
could he sing praises to Farore every day and give thanks for her blessings
when all around him, the land grew warped from the lack of the Third
Triforce? The Goddesses had meant for
all three of the sacred artifacts to guide life on Hyrule, but the last had
been lost a millennium ago.
his disillusionment had turned to bitterness; he began to study the dark arts,
long forbidden by honest sorcerers. He
had gathered together the last of those who could teach him the rites necessary
for the resurrection of the one who had stolen the Triforce of Power so long
chant was complete.
priest gazed straight ahead. He would
be unleashing an unimaginable evil upon the world with this act, but that was
part of life; light could not exist without darkness, and good could not exist
without evil. He would accomplish what
the rest of the Priesthood had feared; he would bring evil back to the world in
order to make it whole once more.
gripped the bone hilt of his athame and took a bracing breath. Then, before there was time for his resolve
to crumble, he hurled himself forward onto the wickedly sharp blade of the
ceremonial knife and onto the altar.
his last seconds, he knew that he had made a mistake.
huge and black and unfathomably evil coalesced
from the smoke. So dark that it made
the obsidian seem white by contrast, the thing stretched, and chuckled. The sinister laughter was so obscene, the
air seemed to shrink away from it.
beneath Spectacle Rock on Death Mountain, the world trembled.