You remember how TP had that long, rolling credits scene where you got brief looks into how characters turned out after the game? Yeah, I had so many points I wanted to delve into I went with that approach XD
Song of the Chapter: Ocarina Medley - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - Hyrule Symphony
Sur's spring had been thrumming with grateful worshipers until Emunah had shooed them all off. Outside the garden's walls the wild revelry still raged. However, when the golden gates slammed shut calm descended over the world.
"You have your privacy, young man," she told him with a weary smile. "I trust you know what to do."
During his last visit Emunah had been smiling and spry, despite her gray hair and wrinkles. Roran was alarmed at how rapidly the priestess had aged in such a short span. Now she was hunched over a wooden cane and hobbled as if every step pained her. Age had shrunken her form like a delicate doll. Only then did he remember how many loved ones she must have watched grow old and witness.
"It would be my honor to escort you to your home," he offered diplomatically.
The priestess scowled at him. "I'm old, young man, not made of glass. Leave a lady her peace."
Roran bowed deeply before he turned to Sur's shrine. His eyes first flicked from the stone dolphins etched upon the garden's walls to the swirling runes to the spring itself. Its surface was still as glass. He peered long and hard to glimpse the spring's bottom. Only his own frustrated reflection stared up at him.
His hand strayed to the hammer at his belt. A tingle ran up his arm when his fingers brushed against Storm Surge's handle. With one swift movement he could summon a storm and shatter the shrine's stillness.
Men, elves, and dwarves alike had offered him fantastic fortunes to purchase the weapon or just the time to study its secrets. King Orrin had offered to make him head of his warriors as Sur's chosen champion. Nasuada had outright offered him an earldom for his service to the realm, a title and wealth he could pass down to his unborn son and untold generations. He could pass down Storm Surge as but one more part of their legacy. Sur's waters always wiped the weapon's slate clean for a new name and a new beginning.
Yet Emunah had once assured him the hammer's priors names hadn't mattered; each new wielder had chosen one that best suited their purposes.
"All I wanted in this world was to inherit my father's farm and win Katrina's hand," he whispered to the spring. "I never asked for a Dragon Rider as a cousin, let alone two. Fate has given me little choice in how my life has gone since then. Please, merciful Sur, grant me that freedom now."
Sur did not appear before him. The wind did not even smell of salt.
Once more Roran lifted Storm Surge from his belt and savored holding the power of the tempest in his hands. Then he drew back his arms and hefted the hammer into the air. It landed with a deafening splash.
With bated breath he watched the spring, half-braced for Sur to throw it back in his face. Eventually the ripples died.
Roran sighed and turned back to Emunah's dwelling. He knocked on her door and waited. Receiving no response, he tried the latch himself. The door was unlocked.
He discovered the priestess in bed, already growing cold. She was still smiling.
Prince Ralis would not have to rule on his own for many years. He was still young, after all, with a team of his mother's most trusted and capable advisors at his side. Until he was formally crowned king years down the road, he could retreat from the public eye to learn and angle-fish in peace.
Unlike him, his mother had not been born to rule. She had not belonged to the royal family until she had accepted the Zora's Sapphire and agreed to his father's proposal. When King Zora had died, Rutela could have left the ruling to regents. Instead she had done her best to govern in her husband's absence. She had died fighting to protect her son and their people.
Despite his anxiety, Ralis took deep and calming breaths as he listened to the grievances of his people. Yes, there were advisors at his side to guide him, but he was the face upon his throne. He saw from their looks of gratitude how the Zoras appreciated their true ruler doing his best to mete out justice.
Whenever the cases grew too difficult or tedious, Ralis always reached up to reverently touch the heavy triskelion of gold and sapphire that now hung around his own neck. His mother's body had finally been laid to rest and her powers formally passed on. Still, he needed only to feel the Zora's Sapphire, and knew her spirit was watching over him. Ralis hoped he made her proud.
Eragon wiped tears from his eyes as Saphira shared the last of Brom's secrets.
"Forgive me for keeping it secret for so long," she whispered. "I ached to tell you for so long now but my oaths prevented me."
Eragon did not hesitate in taking her hands in his. "There is nothing to forgive, Saphira. Thank you for sharing that with me."
He vowed to eventually tell Murtagh but was in no rush to do so. They were still getting to know each other as brothers. Eragon's true paternity changed nothing.
Only then did he remember they were still before their mentors. Saphira had revealed Brom's secret memory for him as soon as Oromis had revealed his true parentage. Glaedr blinked in bemusement.
"So too were we bound by oaths, until Murtagh's revelation shattered all secrecy." Oromis bowed his head. "Not even he knows the truth of your parentage. Glaedr and I intended to tell you the next time we met in the flesh, but our reunion was long delayed. You must have many questions."
Eragon pondered the long story he did not yet know in its entirety and found he was not bitter. Link hadn't cared about his sire, only that he was still his blood. Neither had the Goddesses. Din and Farore had chosen both sons of Selena as their champions.
"I came to peace with my father's identity a long time ago," he replied at last. Eragon's ordeal with the Hero's Shade and his complicated legacy had been far more pressing than that of a dead man whose ghost had not come back to haunt him. "I wish Brom had told me when he was alive, but I am glad he trusted the revelation to you and Saphira instead of coming back himself."
In his heart of hearts he knew Brom slumbered undisturbed. Dragon magic and that of a latent Hero had shielded his body from Galbatorix's defilement.
Glaedr rumbled in confusion.
Eragon returned his bewilderment with a wry smile. "Did I ever tell you how I met my great-grandfather?"
Uli did not have much of a singing voice, but the little stream outside her home was like a lullaby in its own. As a baby Colin had always been soothed by it. Later on Rusl had taught him how to fish. It was one of the few hobbies they could bond over as father and soon.
Uli sighed wistfully as she rocked the wicker basket at her side. "Oh, Arielle. Your big brother will adore you."
Her newborn daughter did not stir. The stream had long since lulled her off to sleep. Heart heavy with longing, she envisioned her family complete for the first time. She could almost see Colin dutifully explaining everything about fishing to his clueless baby sister while she and Rusl looked on in proud amusement.
Ordon Village had been so quiet since its children had been taken. When they heard the distant sounds of wagon wheels creaking down the road, everyone around poked their heads out of their homes in hopeful curiosity. After all, traders were not due through the region for quite some time. Perhaps it was...
Uli's thoughts trailed off as the wagon came into view. After a moment of stunned disbelief, the silence broke. Jaggle and Pergie erupted from their house, shouting for their boys. Talo went racing for them, little Malo hurrying to keep up. A crying Beth ran into Hanch and Sera's arms. Mayor Bo, who had weathered the tough times like a stone, broke down into roaring sobs as he lifted his daughter up the ground like she was a little girl. Ilia fervently returned the embrace.
Uli only dimly paid attention to it all, even to her husband's return. Her eyes were locked on Colin. He carried himself with a self-confidence she had never seen before. Her heart soared in pride at the sword and wooden shield strapped to his back. Rusl would never have allowed him true steel if he was not sure of their son's ability to wield it well. Their little boy was not so little anymore; there were a few more inches of bare skin between his feet and the hem of his robe from a recent growth spurt.
Colin beamed at the sight of her and the bundle of pink blankets at her side, but he never broke from Rusl's side. Lifting Arielle from her basket, Uli stood to meet them.
For decades now even most of the royal guard had thought the Sheikah dead, the last of their numbers having dwindled into extinction at the end of the kingdom's last great civil war. Any further rumors of the Shadow Folk still watching over the Royal Family must have been clever propaganda, ensuring spies and assassins wasted precious time and resources seeking out shades of the past. Huno had certainly thought them extinct. Only when King Zant had breached the castle's last defenses did the Sheikah reveal themselves. The few survivors of that assault not only confirmed the existence of the Sheikah, but their selfless sacrifice. Where many Hylian guards had buckled or bolted against the onslaught of the shadow beasts, every last Sheikah had given their lives so that their princess might survive.
Not long after Zelda's restoration a pale-haired, red-eyed shaman had come to see the spirits of her people found their peace and to bear what remained of their bodies back to her tribe. Only at the queen's formal coronation had the Sheikah leader, Rayna, openly came forward to confirm the existence of her people and renew their loyalty to the Royal Family.
Rayna had returned to her tribe's mysterious homeland but had left behind her best warriors to watch over the new queen. Gradually, like most of his comrades, Huno had warmed up to most of the Shadow Folk now stationed alongside him... except Rayna's alleged son.
The Sheikah had never been among the burliest of races, but Rayna's son was small and slim for even his kind. His cowl concealed all but his golden hair and ruby eyes. All other Sheikah had hair that ranged from pale blond to golden white. No one had ever seen him without it. No one had ever seen him in the Queen's presence either.
"Who does the Queen think she's fooling?" old Marten muttered. "We know the tales of the Hero of Time as well as any who grew up in this land."
Huno spared the so-called Sheikah an uneasy glance. Sheik, as he claimed to be called, leaned against a wall and idly sharpened a knife. Zelda was apparently sealed away in her chambers, absorbed in a draft of establishing diplomatic ties with some new kingdom to the west.
"Admittedly, the name is suspicious, but his eyes are red," Huno argued.
"Sheikah are master illusionists, yeah? Of course they could teach our Queen a couple of tricks. She certainly didn't bother disguising her hair." Arlan, the bastard, arched a brow and smirked at him. "Trying to weasel your way out of your bet, Huno? What would our brothers-in-arms have to say about that?"
Huno once more cursed that drunken night of betting. He knew as well as any of them about the Queen's looming crackdown on insubordination in the ranks. Their new captain had been drafted from the frontier, a hardened veteran with a rod of steel up his ass. His comrades certainly wouldn't hesitate to throw him under the wagon to save their own skins. If his employment was about to be terminated then he might was well go out with a bang.
Gathering up his nerve, Huno marched down the hallway like a man heading to his execution. Blood-red eyes glanced up from their sharpening. Huno prayed that same knife wasn't about to pierce through his armor.
"A-a clever ruse, my Q-Q-Queen," he stuttered out.
Perhaps Zelda was testing her guards' ability to take the initiative. Perhaps he had passed some secret test and was about to be rewarded for his courage.
Red eyes bore into him. "How many Zeldas do you know?" The voice might have belonged to an adolescent in the throes of puberty... or a woman's deliberate attempt to deepen her timber.
Huno blinked at the question. Zelda was a traditional name of the Royal Family. Many other families named their daughters Zelda to curry divine favor and in the those girls would grow into the same wisdom and benevolence as their namesake. The fat old washerwoman who took his family's clothing each week as a Zelda. So was the pretty shop girl who sold apples on the southern street. He had a Zelda for a niece.
"Many, I take it. How many Links are in your barracks alone?"
"Too damn many," Huno muttered, before remembering he might be facing his monarch. They all went by nicknames to avoid any confusion as to what Link actually owed another Link rupees.
"There are Zoras named Link. The old Goron patriarch was a Link." Sheik pulled down his cowl to reveal a scowl and golden stubble covering a sharp face. "Did it ever occur to you Hylians we Sheikah know the old legends just as well?"
Huno stammered his apologies and made a swift escape. The uproarious laughter of his comrades followed him down the hall. He wondered how many times they had pulled that same trick on the others by now.
"Well, sugar, how did it go?"
Shad made no response. Hyperventilating, he clutched his bundle of objects like a life-line. A large stack of papers had been crammed into a brown leather journal that looked ready to explode. He also cradled an odd gray staff. Telma thought the poor thing looked ready to keel over.
Ashei rolled her eyes. Telma knew her too well to not see the smile she tried keeping from her face. "Eragon gave him the journal and the staff he wanted, yeah, but that's not even the half of it."
"Fyer finally finished that Sky Cannon and repaid that favor he owed me. Legally, the Sky Cannon was a commission on Shad's behalf. Fyre isn't allowed to shoot anyone into the heavens without Shad's permission, but I do not doubt he is already incorporating its extraordinary design into his own creations." Auru's brow crinkled. "I still insist everyone travel with a Sailcloth on of the off-chance we don't land somewhere safe."
Shad muttered something fast and hysteric. Telma wondered if it was even Hylian.
"The Queen also gave us a charter, yeah? Now it's an official expedition to the sky city."
Shad fell limp in a dead faint. Idly, Ashei caught him before he smacked face-first into the bar and smashed his glasses. Checking his pulse to ensure his heart hadn't given out from all the excitement, she sprawled the upper half of his body over the bar.
Telma insisted on free drinks for their Group. After all, wasn't every day one had their father's grandiose dream vindicated by solid evidence, a Hero's testimony, a straight shot to the sky, and a royal charter.
Arya had long served as a diplomat between her people and the other races of the rebellion. Serving as their face before the formal ambassadors of realms previously unknown was another matter entirely. First contact with the dragons had gone disastrously awry and their races had once almost warred each other into extinction. Again they had warred with humans mere years after establishing their first foothold in Alagaesia. For the first time in centuries the elves were about to meet new sentient races. Arya could not allow their first impressions to be anything but positive.
Furnost was a minor town by Broddring Kingdom's standards, a border settlement still recovering from the ruthless onslaughts of the shadow beasts. It was among the most neutral territories available in Alagaesia's heartland not set in the burning sands of the Hadarac. Once King Thedric had secretly met the dwarf Ivaldn in a vain attempt to prevent the War of Iron. Arya hoped negotiations with the Hyrulean powers proved far more productive. To compensate for Furnost's relative lack of large builds grand pavilions had been erected and spelled against the weather. Their canvases shimmered as a living rainbow of color to represent the harmony of races meeting beneath them.
Arya had forsaken her usual comfortable garments for a gown of green and gold. Its skirts flowed like water. Light dappled across it like late afternoon sunlight in Du Weldenvarden. Lady Mirella Gramme, head of the Hylian contingent, marveled at the wonders of elvan craftsmanship.
Arya took the compliment in stride, even as she fought to keep her gaze from Eragon. She had not seen him in the flesh since his departure for Orik's coronation.
Sir Eragon Veles served as an ambassador on Queen Zelda's behalf. Formality had forced him into a green silk tunic stitched with gold and silver. The odd, long hat he wore upon his head must have also been of Hylian style. On any other it would have looked ridiculous, but Eragon carried himself with self-assured pride that bestowed his atypical cap dignity. During his stay in Du Weldenvarden Arya had been unable to see him as anything more than a boy desperately searching for his place in the world. He now looked a man, though there was something in his stance that hinted he was not yet done growing.
Absorbed in conversation with the many humans who had rushed to his side, he had not yet noticed her. Neither had Saphira, who stood easily at his side while she enthusiastically engaged several Urgal Herndalls in conversation. Her hair hung loose in long silver-gold tresses. The skirt of her sapphire gown nearly touched the ground, but its high slits revealed practical silver breeches beneath. All she had to do was tear the skirt free to become a lethal force without any worry for human modesty.
Lady Mirella was not blind to her attention. "I understand your fascination. Never did I think to see an age where another Chosen Hero walked among us."
Arya considered the Hylian diplomat carefully. Her ears were as pointed as any elf's, but her face lined with age. Her steel-gray hair was tied up in elegant braids. Iron-gray eyes appraised her behind odd frames of metal and glass that aided sight.
"Forgive my ignorance, but how long does your kind live? On the surface we appear quite similar."
"You are well-acquainted with mundane humans, yes? Barring extreme spiritual prowess or gross misuse of magic, the average Hylian will live no longer." Mirella idly swirled her glass of wine. "You are the daughter of Queen Islanzadi, yes? Have you any brothers?"
Ah, politics. "I am an only child, perhaps not even the future queen. Our succession laws are more complex and my mother may rule for centuries more."
She did not expect Mirella's small smile before she excused herself from the conversation.
"Do not think Lady Mirella offended," murmured a voice to her left. "You have actually renewed her hopes."
Arya bit back a defensive spell. Those that could sneak up on an elf usually possessed deadly intentions. Calmly she turned to face Mirro, one of the Sheikah delegates. Aside from the weeping eye embroidered in crimson thread, his black robes were unmarked. Initially she had dismissed the Sheikah as more Hylians, superficially different for their pale hair and red eyes but otherwise alike. After all, despite their difference in skin color both Alagaesians and the Wandering Tribes both belonged to humanity. His stealth made her reconsider.
"I take it she does not wish our people to be united in marriage, Master Mirro?"
"Hyrule favors birth order over gender in its succession laws. Most of our neighbors favor the son above the daughter. Traditionally our queens marry lesser sons of native nobility to avoid legal conflict. Both Queen Linon and King Daphnes took outside matches and produced but one heir each. Lady Mirella is eager to welcome all races of Alagaesia as neighbors, but wishes for our people to build closer bonds with yours before any royal matches are considered."
Arya nodded in understanding. Even to outsiders it was obvious Nasuada and Orrin were awaiting a contract agreed upon by their cautious advisors before they took steps toward an official engagement. With Nasuada currently lacking a blood heir and Orrin's heirs so far from the main line her family had been Hyrule's last hope for an appropriate match from these new races. Doubtless Lady Mirella had some nephew of her own to offer as a suitable alternative.
At last Eragon met her eye. She readily opened her mind to him.
It's too noisy in here. Can we meet outside? He sent her a quick image of a quiet corner between where two tents met.
Arya agreed. She tried to excuse herself but discovered Mirro had already moved corner several lords that had tried to talk with her for hours. Saphira drew Eragon's subjects into her conversation, her and the Herndalls a living barrier that prevented any from following as he slipped between them.
She found Eragon at their meeting place. First she thought to lift her finger in the customary greeting, but never before had custom felt so trivial.
Her eyes instead focused upon his sword. Its scabbard was dark emerald and etched with golden vines and thorns.
Silently he drew the sword. Arya gasped. Its plain wooden hilt belied a blade that shimmered from darkest magenta to brilliant red and every shade in between. Intricate black thorns and roses twined across the blade's emerald inlay. Faced with such craftsmanship Rhunon might have abandoned her unbreakable oath to try and shape a weapon that could rival it.
"What a beautiful blade," she murmured.
Eragon shrugged as he sheathed it. "Every blacksmith between here and Hyrule has offered me a weapon. To not cause offense I took up a family heirloom. It is not the perfect fit... my old sword was, but I doubt any blade could match it."
Only then did she remember how strong his blood ties to Hyrule purportedly ran. Someone must have held onto his ancestor's weapon for a very long time. Arya had heard the rumors of the legendary sword Eragon had wielded in a faraway land. She wondered what had become of it but did not press him upon the matter.
In the aftermath of the battle a thousand Riders' swords had plummeted to earth as their reanimated masters had crumbled. Every last one had been burned alongside its wielder's remnants. Gods knew what evil could linger within them.
"Several elves are still in possession of Rider's blades," she offered instead. "Should you require a weapon worthy of your stature, I am confident any would be willing to gift such a relic to you. Rhunon's oaths do not prevent her from reworking a past creation."
Eragon bowed his head. "I'm not worthy of the honor, Arya Svit-kona. Not anymore. I am no longer a Dragon Rider. Even with our dragon forms, Saphira and I will live out the years of men."
Arya blinked. She had wondered how the bond had worked when both of its members now belonged to two separate races. It seemed cruel their lifespans adhered to the shorter-lived of their two bodies, but Eragon did not appear upset at the years robbed from him. Born human and blessed with human loved ones, perhaps he considered it a blessing.
"Your brother is the same?"
"Aye." He smiled sadly. "He and Thorn are happier for it. To be honest, so am I."
"So Oromis and Glaedr are the last," she whispered.
"There might be more eggs still out there," Eragon argued. It was telling how he did not even offer up the possibility of eggs from Saphira.
Arya slowly shook her head. "Eragon, the magic that bound our races in a pact with the dragons had to be tethered to something. You and Saphira essentially surrendered your connection to it. So did Thorn and Murtagh. Oromis is the last elvan Rider and Glaedr the last true dragon devoted to the pact. They have already withdrawn themselves from it. There will never be another Dragon Rider after him."
"Seven hells, why not!"
"The spirit of the Menoa Tree was never Linnea," she explained softly. "She never cared for elves. After what happened to her sister, she was content to smother us all in her vines and leave the world for dead. In return for her aid she demanded the end of Dragon Riders. I vowed to do what I could."
Eragon smiled wanly, the edges more like a dragon's snarl. "I wish I could be surprised. The magic of the Grey Folk subverts the natural order of this realm. In Hyrule I struggled to cast simple spells. Outside of this world I managed nothing at all. Of course the spirits want to purge all they can of it from this realm too."
Arya inclined her head. "The pact bound three races together to the detriment of those outside it. The Riders kept peace between our people for centuries. When Galbatorix destroyed them, it took us years to learn the statecraft that should have been ours from the beginning." She smiled. "Look at Hyrule, a realm of so many races able to coexist without a higher authority to turn too. Why can not Alagaesia learn to do the same?"
By the time her formal introduction to the Queen of Eluryh drew near, Nasuada knew she should not have been so nervous. The lords of her cities had formed a parliament and recognized her as queen. Queen Islanzadi and King Orik had formally recognized her kingdom and its claims over formal Imperial territory. Her kingdom and Surda had entered an alliance she hoped would one day permanently reunite their lands. Treaties had established territories and relationships with Urgal groups and the Wandering Tribes. She had hosted Hyrulean envoys from their four main races, including Sir Eragon, acting as an ambassador for Queen Zelda.
Yet even the living rocks and the fish-folk hailed from the same world she did. Queen Midna did not live under the same sun. She did not live under a sun at all, but a perpetual twilight her realm had taken its name from.
Nasuada knew a Mirror existed as the surest tie between the two worlds. Once in this realm the Twili could slid into the spaces between worlds to accelerate their travel. Such portals were easier to form at dusk and dawn, when the boundaries between worlds were naturally at their thinnest.
Though the Twili could have appeared right in the midst of her throne room, Nasuada's advisors had advocated a more diplomatic approach. Rather than flaunt their ability to cut through the heart of Dras-Leona's defenses, the Twili should arrive at the capital's outskirts. Lord Brutus Tabor occupied the sturdy fortress that had belonged to the old royal family and oversaw the day-to-day running of the rapidly-expanding capital, but a grand royal palace had swiftly been constructed at the base of Brodd's mountain. After the spirit's fall Galbatorix had called the place Helgrind. Now Brodd's people had rechristened the place Eagle Roost.
When the sun dipped low enough over the horizon and the blue sky burned orange, a hole of black and swirling cerulean appeared overhead. Battle-storm snorted but calmed when she stroked his neck. He had been trained as a warhorse, after all, and did not startle easily.
Despite their foreknowledge of the situation, Trianna and her other protectors still tensed when the Twili themselves appeared in a reign of black particles. Alagaesian magic did not behave like such.
Beneath voluminous robes the Twili were all slim and statuesque. Some gawked at the setting sun while others squinted and buried their faces deeper into dark hoods. Their eyes shone with a light of their own in the glowing gloom. Their fiery hair contrasted against their moon-pale skin. Silence fell as the two groups appraised each other, each unsure of who should make the first move.
The hesitation was broken by a sudden outburst of frantic barking. Nasuada flashed back to the shadow beasts as a dark shape surged forward-
Until a red-armored hand reached out to snag the silver collar around its neck. The creature fell back with a yip. "Gods damn it, Wolf!" Thorn snarled.
Nasuada blinked and further inspected the shadowy shape. It did indeed resemble a wolf, albeit the gangling limbs and squirming excitement of a half-grown puppy. On closer examination the short tentacles down its neck were just a ruff of dark fur. Its eyes blazed a brilliant blue that matched the glowing runes streaking its sides. From its mouth lolled an ordinary pink tongue over white teeth.
The Twili in the most ornate robes heaved an affectionate sigh. Her hood was down, revealing a beautiful face and elegant silver headdress. "Forgive him. This is first time in this realm."
Nasuada had been warned beforehand how creatures of the Twilight Realm had adapted to their environment. When Queen Midna had suggested bringing her pet along to give a better idea of what her world looked like, Nasuada had readily agreed. Wolf, despite his fearsome appearance, wagged his tail as eagerly as any mere dog.
"How can I be offended when he is so eager to greet this world?" Nasuada said pointedly. Her chastised guards quickly hid their anxious anticipation of attack behind more neutral stances. "We are well met, Queen Midna."
The Twilight Queen dipped her head, one sovereign acknowledging another. "We are indeed, Queen Nasuada. My champion speaks very highly of you."
Murtagh stood at his queen's right hand. Thorn, standing at her left, was preoccupied in holding back an eager puppy and swearing under his breath. Briefly Nasuada met Murtagh's gaze. He smiled slightly and bowed. Dressed in a black silk tunic and chain-mail, he carried himself as proudly as the dragon knight in a full suit of armor. During their time in Farthen Dur he had been so desperate to prove himself worthy of a cause. She was glad he had finally found one worth serving.
"Word has traveled far and wide of your deeds," Nasuada told her counterpart. "You were very brave in risking yourself for your people the way you did."
Queen Midna met her gaze levelly. "Zant was a usurper. In comparison to Galbatorix, his false reign lasted a blink of an eye. Though you lost both parents to war, you still risked yourself to liberate your people, and for far longer than I ever did. The spirit of this land was right to honor you."
After greetings and polite courtesies were exchanged, Nasuada escorted her guests through Dras-Leona. She was confident the night ahead would be a productive one indeed.
"A daughter." Roran blinked. Despite the proud grin on his face, it seemed he was not yet able to believe the son he insisted Eragon name was in fact a girl. "But..."
Katrina sighed fondly and shook her head. Although the birth had been relatively swift, the new mother had still rested and cleaned up before deeming to present her child to the rest of the family. "I tried telling you the healers thought otherwise, but you wouldn't listen."
"Ah, well," Roran joked. "As long as she's hearty and hale. There's always the next one." He was oblivious to his wife's displeased stare. Reverently he passed his newborn daughter into her honorary uncle's arms.
"She's so small," Eragon whispered in awe. In his own embrace she seemed even tinier. His heart fluttered as she instinctively nestled into his warmth and blinked up at him with eyes of infant blue. For a moment he feared dropping her or squeezing her too tight.
Saphira wrapped an arm around him and leaned her against his shoulder. It had grown easier for her so do since his last growth spurt. His well-worn (and well-loved) green tunic had needed even further alteration. Pure love and trust flowed across her bond.
She's safe with you, Eragon. She always will be. Aloud, she teased, "I suppose Thorn worn the bet between you two."
Roran tried to scowl and failed. Thorn had a way of worming his way into people's hearts, even when he had dared to openly challenge Roran's assertion about having a strong little son and galled him into a bet. Diplomacy in Eluryh's name had called him and Murtagh too far across the world to make it in time for the birth. The Ocarina of Time had long been returned to Zelda and warp songs were best not risked over such long distances with a lesser instrument. Even scrying turned out to have its limits when one pushed out so far from Alagaesia.
"It's not like I can't afford it now," Roran replied.
Nasuada had offered to declare him Earl of Palancar Valley and grant him the incomes to match. He had politely declined her. Carvahall was long burned and its scattered peoples having slowly taken root elsewhere. Roran had scoffed at feudal duties just as he had at suggestions of keeping Storm Surge. The borrowed gift had been returned to Sur's spring months ago.
He and Katrina had more thoughtfully considered the offer of Talon Lon Lon's legacy. Roran had been raised to inherit the farmstead. He knew crops better than castles. Katrina, a butcher's daughter, was no stranger to animals. Most tempting had been the horse herd, including some descended from the prized Lon Lon lines and some even from the royal stables. Horses had always been among the most valuable assets one could one in Palancar Valley. Snowfire's original owner had dreamed of one day breeding prestigious lines from such a fine stallion. Roran would soon be able to make that dream reality.
Though the new ranch was still in its final stages of completion, Roran and Katrina still had generous funds left over. They planned to move when their infant was old enough to brave the mountain passes. Goron gunpowder and dwarven knowledge of the Beor Mountains were swiftly completing a major trade route through them.
Eragon thoughtfully gazed down at his newborn niece. Any vague thoughts of naming her for one of his father figures had long been abandoned. Briefly he considered naming her for one of her grandmothers, but did not remember Ismira or even his Aunt Marian that well. From him such an honor felt hollow. Neither he nor Roran remembered Selena. Despite what she had done to save his life, her legacy as Morzan's Black Hand was a complicated one.
Should he honor a Hylian ancestor instead? Roran's new livelihood had come from them. His daughter would grow up riding horses and harassing Cuccos as Calon should have.
For one brief moment he considered the name Linkle before discarding it. Saphira choked back a laugh at the mere thought of it.
Beyond eyes of infant blue, his niece's one defining feature was her head of strawberry blonde hair. Eragon did not ache at the sight of it. His niece was not a living ghost, but echoes of the past combined into a new song.
"Mari," he murmured.
"Mari," Katrina uttered louder. "It suits her."
"Aye," Roran agreed. "A name and future all her own. There's no better gift than that."
"This is the place," Murtagh uttered. "I'm certain of it."
Eragon angled his wings to squeeze into the small clearing. Beneath his shadow an odd swarm of glowing orbs flitted away into the woods. It was rather late in the season for fireflies. He landed with a heavy thud, transforming only when his brother dismounted. They had wanted only to come alone.
Some time ago they had traveled to Carvahall's remnants to pay their respects. Murtagh did not share his brother's personal connection to their old family farm, but he had still wanted to see where their mother had grown up. Selena Veles had no grave site to visit. Galbatorix, ever jealous of Morzan's allegedly faithful Black Hand, had ordered her ashes scattered to the winds. It was a small mercy her bones had not been raised with the rest of his army.
Later Eragon had journeyed alone to Brom's diamond tomb. He had raised wards against thieves and altered the epitaph with more fitting words. Then he had knelt before his father's preserved body to thank him for watching over Eragon for so many years.
While the graves in Carvahall's ruins were humble plots in the ground and Brom's tomb held eternal grandeur, the final resting place of Link Veles and Malon Lon Lon was a grand mausoleum half-swallowed by the forest.
Murtagh tightly cradled the box of Epona's ashes to his chest. She deserved to rest alongside those who had loved her most.
"Do you'd think she'd rather her ashes to fly free on the wind or to be laid alongside her family?"
Eragon scarcely heard his brother's question. His disbelieving gaze was locked on the fresh offerings laid before the tomb, wooden children's toys and a small clay ocarina amongst them.
"The Skull Kid?" Murtagh muttered suspiciously.
Eragon shook his head. Silently he took the oaken box from his brother and stepped around the offerings into the tomb itself. Its door had long since rotted away. Though engulfed by vines and their names faded from time, the stone sarcophagi of his great-parents were still very much intact. He wondered which held the form the Hero's Shade had donned.
Leaving his ancestors undisturbed, he gently nestled Epona's ashes between their caskets and left them to their slumber.
The desert night was clear and cold. The wind whipped at her exposed skin. It had stolen all warmth from the sand. Despite her aching joints, Isra had remained kneeling in prayer throughout her daughter's long labor. So few children were born to their tribe and lived to see adulthood. Aisha had indeed survived. Her first child had been born hearty and hale.
When Shadi had first relayed the news, Isra had refused to believe until she had looked upon the impossible babe herself. Her firstborn grandchild was as bronze as any Gerudo and already had a thick thatch of fiery hair. The father had been an unremarkable Hylian, separated from his caravan and unmindful of the stories of sorceresses in the sands. Aisha had nursed him back to health and pointed him back toward civilization, but she had never discovered if he had survived to see his home again. Then she had fled back into the dunes to pray and await the inevitable.
Aisha was one of the few her age who fervently kept to the ways of the Gerudo. Their people's magic flowed strongly in her veins. Still, she had not borne a girl.
"Get up, girl, before you catch a cold."
Isra's red hair was streaked gray and her face lined with wrinkles. She proudly bore the scars of a hundred raids. Still she swiftly rose before stooping into a deep bow.
"Enough of that, girl. Stand and face me."
Isra did. What remained of Noor's hair shone silver in the moonlight. Where all other Gerudo her age had succumbed to the ravages of time, she had only gained further wrinkles and a temper that grew shorter by the year. Her blind eyes burned like suns.
"Forgive my weakness, grandmother," Isra said evenly. "Is it done?"
Noor scowled. "Is what done? Spit it out, girl!"
"The... boy. Is..."
"Din's tits, Isra! Your grandson was born hearty and hale. You saw it yourself before you went storming out of the tent." Noor rolled her eyes. "Did you honestly fucking think I'd order him killed? Do you know how many women I had to threaten with exile or worse if the boy should ever 'unfortunately' die in his cradle?
Isra inhaled sharply. Noor's skin was darker than most of their tribe, with a greenish tinge she alone possessed. Her half-sisters, like her mother and so many others, had perished in the massacre. Noor was no one's mother, no one's grandmother except by respectable honorific. Ganondorf's line would die with her. So should have any chance of a male child ever being born into their tribe ever again. Such treachery could never be allowed to take root in their people.
Noor's scowl softened, a craggy mountain resorting to tenderness. "A male is supposed to be born into our tribe once every hundred years, Isra. A central power helps keep our sisters from jostling for power and splintering the tribe every time some bitch with ambition comes along. The cycle started long before my sire's time. We thought he and his mothers had fucked it up forever."
Koume and Kotake had been born ordinary Gerudo with insatiable lust for power. They had delved in dark magic to keep themselves young and fair, only occasionally emerging from their solitude in the sands to try conceiving that next elusive male. Over three hundred years old, they finally emerged from the sands with a Gerudo boy that had both claimed as a son, looking like they had aged decades in a few short years. Even the Gerudo that had unquestionably hailed Ganondorf as their king had distrusted his mothers. They had lurked behind his throne in the shadows.
Their son's banishment had stripped them of most of their power, but not all. Before hunted down by their own sisters, Koume and Kotake had spitefully cursed the Gerudo's best and brightest with their own all-consuming hatred. Nabooru and so many others had been twisted into taking their vengeance upon Ganondorf's so-called murderer. They had nearly damned their whole race along with him.
Isra blinked. And then a prayer fell from her lips. A new king could not be born until the last had passed. Ganondorf, gods damn his soul, was dead.
Noor smiled, tears cascading down her face. "I'm blind, girl, but I'm not deaf. Don't you hear them? Our mothers and grandmothers are on the wind. Din smiles upon us all, and they're calling us home."
Isra had known only tents and the long journeys between oases. Her home had been her mother's arms and the company of her sisters. It was all she had been able to provide Aisha. Now her boy might grow up with more to his name.
"My daughter." Isra's voice cracked. "Has she named him yet?"
"Idris," Noor murmured. "So that he might help close the gap between us and the world. For his father was Hylian, and none but me would have entered this world without the aid of an outsider."
The Chamber of Heroes appeared undisturbed. There was nothing to suggest Ganondorf had ever discovered it during his occupation of the castle, and yet...
Even with the Triforce of Wisdom to aid her, it had taken Zelda months to carefully document the extensive inventory in search of anything suspicious. She could trust no other with such a precious hoard. Increasingly she doubted the foresight of her ancestors to hide away so many powerful artifacts in one place. Hyrule Castle had fallen before. It had done so against beneath her watch.
Zelda frowned as her fingers once more brushed over the objects the Hero of Termina had surrendered to her namesake. She had granted the Great Fairy's Sword to Eragon. No mortal weapon could ever match the Master Sword, but a blessed blade was the best alternative she could offer to him. Nothing else should have been disturbed.
Three deceptively wooden masks contained slumbering spirits. Their presences faintly stirred beneath her fingers. Her frown deepened when the fourth did the same.
While the three other masks depicted mundane members of the other races this one alone portrayed a humanoid face. Its silver hair and painted skin marked it apart from typical Hylians. While the other sealed spirits had always placidly reacted to her touch this one had simmered like a raging volcano about to erupt. It should have been burning to the touch, so much so she sometimes feared the mask bursting into flames. But now the wood was cool.
Staring deep into empty eye holes, Zelda raised her hands. Her Triforce flashed.
For a moment the mask pulsed with bright light and lifted into the air. Then it clattered back onto her table, any trace of a consciousness evaporated beneath Wisdom's scrutiny. It had never housed a soul at all, only the illusion of one.
Once more Zelda called upon her gift, but the mask had no more secrets to reveal. Whoever had slipped under the Demon King's nose and the chamber's wards knew better than to leave any trace of their presence behind.
"Gods," Zelda swore. No other curse was appropriate.
Records identified the artifact only as the Fierce Deity's Mask. Her ancestors had no better moniker to describe the raging presence so strongly sealed within.
She prayed the thief intended to wear the mask to harness power as their own. No matter how powerful the spirit within, it would have still been bound by it seal and the mortality of its bearer. If the thief intended to set that power loose...
Termina was a land ordinarily separated from Hyrule and its pathways to the Sacred Realm. Someone had banished the Fierce Deity's Mask there for good reason.
Arielle is the French rendering of Aryll. In WW she is Link's little sister.
As hinted by her appearance, Lady Mirella is indeed Shad's aunt. As a younger brother not important to the succession, Shad's father was able to spend his time and energy on history and archaeology. While Mirella has plenty of daughters of her own to go around, she has only one nephew. Time will tell if her hopes and dreams ever play out ;)
Messo takes his name from one of the many Sheikah monks in Breath of the Wild.
Rayna's name is taken from Grayna, the German version of Impaz's name. She is indeed the granddaughter Impaz referred to in that earlier chapter. And, yes, Sheik is indeed her son :p Rayna also used to be stationed at Hyrule Castle herself back in the day when she herself was young and gullible. Zelda's father was not exactly a paragon of moral purity when it came to his pretty and exotic protector. It should also be noted the manga of the original LotZ made Princess Zelda Link's half-sister. Apparently her mother (also named Zelda) had affair with a guy named Rune and Link was the result. So stranger things have happened in canon :p
Even before the last book of the series came out I had always planned on giving Roran a girl instead of a son XD Over the years her possible names ranged from Era to Lin to more original names. Just recently I decided on Mari as an echo of Malon and Link (whose original Japanese name is Rinku) given a life of its own. Her hair will remain strawberry blonde as she gets older - a mix between Link's bright gold and Malon's fiery red. The name is deliberately close to both Marin - who was perhaps modeled on Link's memories of Malon, and Mariru, one of the original names for WW Link's sister Aryll.
Long ago I planned on Noor being Nabooru and Ganondorf's daughter. Isra and Aisha would have been her blood descendants. Stupid younger me forgot Nabooru was already plotting against Ganondorf's faction since presumably before the beginning of the game -.- I instead pinned that mess on Koume and Kotake, who screwed up the minds of many Gerudo as a giant middle finger to those sent to hunt them down. I chose to give my Gerudo OCs Arabic names here. Idris means 'interpreter.'
I might write one-shots in a separate story called Ripples in the River if I want to delve deeper into this universe's back story and characters, and maybe give some brief hints of its future, but that's up in the air at this point. One day I may have enough of a solid plot for the full sequel to be written. As of right now I'm perfectly content to end this epic here. Thank you to readers old and new for your reviews, follows, and favs. Eight years, over three hundred thousand words, and sixty-ish chapters. It's been a hell of a ride.