Four by Four

The Gathering Part Four


a/n: just a flash update, I'm trying to settle on a project and I found some notes for this one, thought I'd post them before I lost them again.

The town was forsaken; its residents pressed into darkness seeking the desperate's sanctuary of not being seen. Torches in hand, lit though they stood in the towns boundaries and had yet to brave the wilds beyond the walls, they wended down cobbles with their torches held high. Sometimes they'd catch a glimpse of life, of someone. A flicker of color ringed about by white before a shudder and cringe obscured it, a flash of cloth as its owner slipped away.

Bandaged face held high, Rustl kept pace through it all. As the cobbled roads stretched further along and the houses became scarcer. Though this first leg of their journey surely hurt, or so the grimace assured, the outsider looked in, and found the view far too familiar.

"It.. It looks like home… Tell me… all of Hyrule isn't like… isn't…"

Shad had no answers, no assurances, so he let a lonely breeze that passed them by offer all the words he couldn't. The sound was mournful, catching the edges as it wandered, the wind acquired something of a moan as it moved along.

Rustl shivered, having answer enough. Shad, hardly superstitious, simply pulled his bag and vest tighter and regulated the sound as just that, a sound. Noise. Insignificant...

Spying a sewer grate close by, he led his weary companion across the street, only pausing to check for horses that weren't out of habit.

"What…" Rustl grunted, no gasped.

"The… below…" Shad shivered, and the man he braced surely felt it. "It's not safe."

There were torches above, behind, about, they were stuck at the corners of each intersection. The edges of every building sported a lit light, as if in a pique of mad optimism someone had run all about making as much illumination as possible.

As if mere firelight could push this unnatural night back.

The efforts were doomed to failure, fire left no light, no appreciable light anyway. So, torch held high, sheading his own insignificant illumination against the dark that coiled in the edges and sprawled out to steel the edge off of the world, Shad enlisted himself amongst the ranks of the madly optimistic without even realizing it.

"Tell me…"

Another grate, Rustl looked too weary for another detour (even if it was just to nip across the street), so he steeled himself, and both stepped over the metal bars. As they passed something gleamed whitely up at them, a glimmer of red considered them then winked out. Shad, resolutely refusing to look down, missed it. Rustl, lips pressed into a thin line, hissing in absent agony missed the sight in the span of a grimace.

"Tell me, about the places beyond Castle Town." Shad bid. "Tell me, what I'm getting into."

Rustl shook his head, having no words, or perhaps no strength to speak the words.

There would be no horses, hardly white if they could have afforded them. There would be no hero's welcome, no farewell into sunset.

For the sun had abandoned them, as had so many many other things.

The guards cringed in the corners of their stations; their steely rustlings were all that differentiated them from the cowering citizenry. In this lightless night there was no color save gloom and grey and black. Save a flash of wide white, a drop of color amongst the unseeing span that was made to allow for sight.

The wind picked up, the moan from before nearly had words now…

Rustl leaned between the stone wall and a pillar that marked the edge of the public stables. He watched on, one eye weary, as Shad reached up and pulled back, causing the main gates between Castle Town and the world to creek open. When it was just wide enough to accommodate them both Shad took a breather. Actually, what he did was bend over double, wheezing, but he'd call it resting for a mite for dignity's sake.

Another sigh, there words this time, formed of angles and the like, there were words.

A whisper… A child's chant, save seeped in sacrilege of the darkest order. It drifted through the cracks and crevices of the abandoned town that wasn't quite hollow yet but was slowly getting there.

The gods are dead, did you hear, did you hear, the gods are dead…

Forcing himself to stand, never mind the pain and the blood that surely flowed, Rustl looked to the wind that pulled at their backs. Born, from some unspeakable low, breathing its unspeakable lyrics, he turned towards it, face twisting in a vicious scowl.

"Shut up, damned thing! The Gods… they aren't'… they can't be…"

Setting his glasses in place, Shad considered the wind's rout, and shivered. Baring the frivolities of change… if the wind acted as unnaturally as anything else in this cursed night than… Than it was born of Hyrule's Castle.

It was, perhaps, the last breath of a dying monarch. Shad imagined fire in the throne room, nameless faceless and supposedly wise fleeing… falling… As hope died before him and protectors abandoned their peoples, their king, surly such bitterness could be a dying man's last words.

And king and land were ever bound, such was where kingdoms were born. Man to earth, blood and bone…

But they weren't dead yet. Not him, not this would be hero from who knew where looking for his child.

Not Telma, waiting, so patently, for surely she knew they were gone, surely she'd "hold the fort" as it were, whilst waiting.

The wind and all its malevolence waited, lingered, coiled, and roiled, ever in place. To that moment, to the wind, and the things behind it, Shad spoke.

"Slay gods," he saw the sewers, his terrified flight and swallowed, voice once sure, now surely shaking. "We don't need them. Summon monsters," Rustl nodded, face firm, losing its angry edge, only determination remained. "We'll just slay them. We win, you lose, that's all that there is to it."

A snarl form up high, like thunder, save there was no light. No clouds. As unnatural from first to last, pressing his lips into a thin line, nevermind the shaking, Shad stood alone, yet not.

"We aren't dead yet!"

His voice, though broken, though weary (nevermind the journey had not begun) was his weapon. As were his words. He tossed both to the once apathetic heavens and the evil, dark thing beyond the once blue skies silently roared.

"We aren't dead yet!"

He shook at such a bald declaration. It's allusions to the savage (such a strange thing to contemplate, his dying, his being killed, so unreal when you considered the bulk of his life was pages and drawing and little good deeds) made him tremble.

A grunt, part growl, and then there was warmth at his side, a hand over his shoulder.

"We aren't but he… it… is." To Shad's bewildered look the hunter from beyond Castle Town's walls smiled. The exhaustion that pooled in lines of his face seeped from the edges (some red, some clear bitter sweat) glimmered in that failing light. "Rot… the wind's… rotting, rotten, you never forget the smell." A nudge urged Shad forward as the wounded man staggered a bit, keeping pace behind. "Let's go, he's gone now, and it's time we're gone too."