**All Standard Disclaimers Apply**

Book Two in the Doppelganger Trilogy
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Shadow Kingdom
by The Wolfess

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Chapter Twenty Two: Genesis of the Kakariko Resistance

It was another boring night on the watch and Charl was at it alone again. He had switched gates for a few weeks, but at least the gate on the northern side of the town tended to get more action. If anyone was coming from Castle Town they generally used the north gate. The southern gate was so difficult to get to because travelers had to cross Kakariko Gorge to even reach the gate, and that's assuming that the bridge wasn't out or that there would actually be someone coming from the direction or Ordon besides the Ordonians themselves.

Nonetheless, despite all of the cold, boring nights on the gate watch, it was nights like this one that kept the ranger coming back to protect a town he didn't even belong to night after night. Nights like this, when odd sounds rumbled out of the dark like the first roaring yawns of a black storm. Charl sent for Renado immediately and strained his ears and eyes to see what dark beast, its hour come round at last, slunk forth from the bowels of Castle Town.

He could hear it from far off in the utter stillness of night while all the people of New Kakariko were tucked asleep in their beds. In the pitch dark of the mountain canyon corridor, the sounds grew closer and Charl could make out the rumbling of wooden cart wheels and heavy, labored breathing. By the time that the first person was seen, Renado had arrived at the gate with a small battalion of men, Gorons, and Sheikah. The Shadow Tribe had officially taken up residence there, but they were not seen that often. The Sheikah remained as invisible as possible, even with so little housing available in their one horse town. Volc had also come to the gate, and he stood beside Renado with a sword and shield in hand, ready for whatever might emerge from the unnaturally dark night.

A pair of piercing red lights appeared first in the black wall of night. It was followed by a hoard of other pairs, red and horrifying as they approached. Charl couldn't help but shake a little. He knew what was coming—or rather who was coming—but he had never seen so many at once. The Obsidian Eaters were making their way from Castle Town. They were coming to Kakariko to consume…consume everything and everyone. He had seen stragglers meander from the town before, even a couple small groups, but it wasn't just one grey-skinned, red eyed person who came hobbling out of the darkness this night—it was a whole bunch of them. Not so many as to be called a 'horde' necessarily, but 'a good sized crowd' was a good term for them. They came carrying their possessions in carts or packs or just in their arms. There were old people and young people, babies and warriors. Volc organized the soldiers on the front line and stood in the middle with Renado, tensed and ready for a fight. The people pressed together in front of the gate, crowding the bars. Renado could see them fill the tight corridor, at least until it turned and he could see no farther. They panted heavily and their red eyes glowed in the dark.

"Why do you come to our gate?" The shaman shouted, his voice deep and commanding. "Your kind is not welcome here. We will not eat the poisoned food." The crowd looked at him dully, then they slowly parted down the middle. An old man made his way through them. Renado recognized the chief advisor to the princess immediately and took a step closer to the bars. "I had worried about you, Forrad," he said to the old man, "but I'm afraid I can't let you in either old friend."

"Please," said Forrad, his voice as weak as his body looked. "I only followed her majesty's orders. But it was not really her majesty—it was some imposter woman with purple eyes. And the demon who leads her. Dark Link, the Shadow King. We have all been tricked."

Renado narrowed his eyes. Volc's heart skipped a beat. The shaman glanced over at the captain, who shot him a look that clearly said I told you so. "Do you mean to say that the King and Queen are imposters? That they are not the real Link and Zelda?" Renado said, his voice loud enough for everyone to hear.

Forrad and the other Obsidian Eaters nodded and shouted, everyone trying to give their own version of events. Forrad tried to quiet them, but his voice was too weak to carry. He looked up at Renado, his red eyes asking what his voice could not convey.

"SILENCE!" Renado roared, holding up his hands. "Let the Royal Advisor speak!"

The crowd quieted down. Forrad cleared his throat. "Thank you, Renado," he said. "Yes, that is what we mean. He announced it today in the square…there was a big smoke show, and he used magic to manipulate all of the Obsidian in the square. He threatened us by taking it away, and now he is hosting a big festival of it to win people over. He thinks intimidation and bullying can make us follow him without asking 'why'—but he is wrong. We will not do it. We heard that the people here do not eat Obsidian and do not follow all of the crown's orders. We want to live here. We want to help impeach him."

Renado was quiet, his facing growing dark and private as he mused over this information. The Obsidian Eaters were silent as well, except for their fast-paced, heavy breathing. They awaited his decision. Sighing, the shaman leaned over to the new Sheikah Matriarch, a younger elder named Shima. "What do you think?" he asked.

Shima nodded her head toward the Obsidan Eaters. "When you look at them, shaman, what do you see?"

Renado looked out over the crowd. He saw mothers carrying babies with razor sharp teeth. He saw children restrained by ropes and in cages. He saw old men wasting away, more Stalfos than men. He frowned and his eyes began to water. "I see a lost and hurting people," he said. "I see our brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers. I see our countrymen—true Hyrulians—a people who, even poisoned by the enemy's lies and tricks, will not stand behind anyone but the true monarch of Hyrule: Zelda Nohansen Harkine, Princess of Hyrule."

The Obsidan Eaters started to cheer. The soldiers and Gorons and Sheikah of Kakariko were murmuring agreement and nodding their heads. Renado didn't need to look at Volc to know the captain agreed as well.

"We will let you in, for you are our brothers and sisters. Your are our countrymen, and the day that the people of Kakariko Village turn away a Hyrulian citizen in need is the day we will have given ourselves over the worst evil of all: selfishness. So you all may come and we will make room. However, that black food must be left behind. We have real food here and you will not go without. Line up in two lines. You and your possessions will be checked individually before coming through the gate. All Obsidian will be discarded in piles by the canyon walls and burned to ashes." He paused, looking out over the crowd of red eyed, sallow faced people. His own expression was full of sympathy. "It will not be easy," he said. "Some of you will be too weak to survive the Purge. Some, too old." He looked down at Forrad, concern lining his mouth before he looked back up at everyone else. "Thanks to…Count Durtain," he said the name with obvious distaste. Everyone knew of the deceit and how many lives it cost, "we have a method to free your children, but it will not work on adults. Come now, two lines."

As the soldiers moved out to check them, Renado turned to the nearest Goron. "Call Darbus," he said. "We need to figure out some place to house these people, and we need to check our food supply. Have him and the elders meet us in my house." The Goron nodded and rolled off, in the direction of the path up the mountain. Renado turned to Shima next. "Can your people get a messenger hawk to Telma? We need to get her out of there. If this is truly an imposter, it's no longer safe for her to spy for us. Also, send one to Auru and another to Rusl. We will need the resistance force that stood up for us in the twilight war. We need them now more than ever. If you are willing, I would like to have the wisdom of the Sheikah Elders to guide us in our deliberations in my house." Shima promised that they would come and passed along the orders about the messenger hawks. Renado turned finally to Volc. He knew that he didn't even need to ask. "Meet us there as soon as possible."

Renado helped supervise the search of the Obsidian Eaters and found room for them in the inn or people's houses. Meanwhile, the guards collected all of the Obsidian they had confiscated in the channel and set it on fire. The smoke was black and foul smelling as it rose in air, leaving nothing but gray ashes behind.

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The round space inside Renado's house was more than a little crowded. Darbus and the four Goron elders had come, and they sat on the northwest side of the house. Shima and the Sheikah elders sat on the northeast side. Volc and a few of the primary Hylian organizers from Kakariko village sat on the southwest side. Forrad, alone, represented the Obsidian Eaters. He sat on the southeast side of the house with a wide girth given to him.

"Thank you all for coming," Renado said, holding his hands out to the side and turning in a circle. "These are dire times. Forrad, you said that you had evidence to back your claim?"

The old advisor nodded, and he pulled a flyer on thick parchment out of the tattered lapel of his jacket. Renado thanked him as he took it, and when he unfolded it he found a painting of Dark Link in his royal armor adorning the parchment. Behind him stood the black statue and Hyrule Castle decked out in the King's new black flags. On the bottom it said "Long Live Dark Link, Shadow King of Hyrule."

"He distributed these along with each person's new supply of Obsidian," Forrad said, twining his fingers to stop them from shaking. "He was impressing his image in the minds of the people alongside the distribution of that black food—and it was working, I think. Most of the people of Castle Town are already worshiping him as the Demon God returned. I do not think that is true though. He honors the Demon God as his patron, he calls him Demise, and other than a few magic tricks he shows no godly traits."

Renado nodded, looking at the parchment with renewed interest. "There's no question about what we must do, then," he said to everyone gathered. "A false king has taken the throne from the family of Hylia. We must return her majesty to the throne…wherever her majesty is."

"I think they're dead," Volc said, crossing his arms over his chest. A murmur arose from the gathering, and Renado glared at the former captain.

"Explain," he said, his voice terse.

"If the princess was in trouble, she would go to the Sheikah, wouldn't she? Aren't you guys her eternal protectors or something like that?" The Sheikah seemed indignant, but confirmed that that was, in general, their role. Volc nodded. "Uh huh…and have you seen either her or her infamous body guard since the army returned from the mountain campaign?"

All eyes turned on the elders. Shima looked at the ground. "We have not. We have launched search parties repeatedly and found nothing."

"And Epona follows me now," Volc said. "I know that horse…she would follow no master but Link—unless he had died. I know that."

"If they are dead," Renado said, his voice hesitant, "then we must be prepared to take Hyrule back without their help. We must also be prepared to elect a new monarch from among us. Most of the noble houses are completely corrupt and given over to Obsidian, and the princess had no heirs." The room was silent. The magnitude of what they were doing had hit them, and it settled upon their minds and hearts like a weight.

Darbus broke the silence. "We always knew it would come to this," he said. "From the beginning…when we decided to go against the orders of the crown. That act of public collective defiance could have ended in no other manner but war."

"These are villagers and farmers and poisoned city folk," said one of the hylians from Kakariko. "They—we—are not an army. We can't fight the hoards of King Dark Link."

"I can train them," Volc said. "With help from the Twilight Resistance group."

Renado nodded. "That is a good plan. We will flesh it out more later. For now, Darbus, I was wondering if you could help us with the housing problem."

"What did you have in mind, human?" said the proud Goron patriarch.

"Your people can punch through a mountainside in a couple hours. Can you all punch into the mountainside here and fashion houses from the stone?"

Darbus and the Goron elders whispered, and then he turned back smiling from ear to ear. "Sounds like a great challenge!" he said. "We'll do it!"

Renado bowed. "Thank you my friend. Of everyone gathered here, we owe your people the most."

Gor Coron grinned and waved his hand. "We learned a mighty lesson in the Twilight War," he said. "Hylians and Gorons…we are in this together. We will not fail to come to your aid in the future."

"Ayee! We are all bruddas!" said Gor Ebizo, smiling and nodding. "Bruddas stick togeda!"

It was Forrad who spoke next, his old eyes shrunken and hollow, still glowing red in the irises because of the poison flowing through his veins. "Brothers stick together indeed," he said, his tone grave, "and yet you are so willing to write your brothers in Castle Town off as a lost cause."

The room fell silent. The hylians from Kakariko were shuffling their feet and looking at their toes. The Sheikah were passive and unreadable. Volc rolled his eyes a little.

"Aren't they?" he asked. "It's not like they came back. And you all brought that stuff with you when you came, as much as you claimed that you wanted to get rid of it. We had to take it from you by force. That doesn't make you much better, does it?"

Forrad's voice rose a little and his whole body seemed to tremble with anger and weakness as he spoke. "Just because we chose to be loyal to the crown, no matter what the cost to ourselves, does not make us evil!" He wheezed at the end of his statement and bent over coughing. His fingers clawed at a large sack tied to his belt, but it had been emptied of its Obsidian. His eyes widened and he dropped to his knees.

"Get him to the couch!" Renado shouted, motioning toward the Kakariko Village troops to help move him. They ran over and picked him up, carefully moving him over to the cot in the corner once used by Volc himself. The old advisor rolled over onto his side, coughing and coughing, until he was gasping for breath in between coughs. The shaman grabbed the arm of the nearest villager. "Get Durtain from down below—now!"

"Yessir," said the young man, and he darted away. Within moments, the count was upstairs. His looked sullen and slightly irritated at being called up.

"What do you want?" he asked, crossing his arms over his chest.

Renado pointed at the old advisor. "Help him. Now."

Durtain rolled his eyes. "I told you already, the spell won't work on those who still have good in their hearts. It only works on the pure evil. It's a book of dark magic, you imbecile."

"Perhaps you can at least ease his pain," said Renado through gritted teeth. "Do it or we will send you back where you crawled to us from."

"Fine, but don't blame me if it doesn't work." The count went back downstairs and came up with the book of evil magic. He walked over to the coughing old man, then looked at solider who had come to get him. "Well, where's my seat?" he snapped. The soldier narrowed his eyes, but brought Durtain a stool. The Count rolled his eyes and sat down, opening the book to a marked page.

"Ínes éško," he started, his voice sounding bored and dull. "Šidad Babkųk žų čoλ asko, ra zayza žų asko kénčų sérn notat pi va fawndü bųžųš, aš e-éna jkar,"

One of the Kakariko hylians by Volc, assuming that the marquis also had learned ancient Gerudo, leaned over and whispered out of the corner of his mouth, "What's he sayin? I don't understand."

"Essentially," Volc whispered, "It translates to: Evil God of Darkness, great Father of all that is bad, this vessel of darkness has been tricked by the trickster, and now he needs a hand. But I was never very good at languages."

Durtain read and reread the words. Soon a purplish-black light surrounded Forrad's body. When the purple light had completely enveloped Forrad, Durtain stopped reading. The old man's coughing died down. He grew quiet. All eyes were watching him carefully, counting the rise and fall of his breaths.

Durtain snapped the book shut. The loud sound echoed through the room, and some there gave him dirty looks. He ignored them and walked back toward the basement.

"If it worked on him" Renado said, stopping Durtain by grabbing his arm, "then it will work on the others. We must start immediately."

"Just wait," Dutain said, his tone dry. All eyes turned to Forrad again. The old man took a deep breath, then turned back around. The eyes that looked at them remained unchanged—they were bright red.

"At least it helped him," said one of the Sheikah.

"Indeed, but it is a small comfort," Renado murmured. "He will still have to try to survive the purge."

Durtain resumed his walk back to the basement door. "It worked on Agatha because there was no shred of good left in her," he said, his voice suddenly more gentle. "Now I have to try to get her to remember who she used to be, but at least the influence of the fruit is gone. She is no longer violent. It may work on their children, and I will help them..." his eyes grew soft, and his face pensive. "I never want children to suffer…it's the least I can do."

With that, he disappeared down into the basement where his daughter waited. Volc watched him go, then walked over to Forrad and bowed before the old advisor.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I spoke too hastily."

Forrad nodded, a little shakier than before. "I chose to stay rather than to fight," he said, softer and gentler now, "as did many others. We did not choose so because we didn't see the evil of the black food or the changes in our monarch…we chose so because we have seen her Majesty's goodness. We have seen her wisdom, given by the goddesses themselves. We believe in her no matter what…and that is an unconditional loyalty." He paused and took a deep, steadying breath. His hand twitched, but he didn't reach for the pouch this time. This time he gripped the edge of the cot. "I have served the royal family all my life, as did my father before me, and his father before him. My son will serve when I pass on to the field of death. I will not let some evil apples separate me from my Lady…never."

No one spoke after that. They all had turned inward, inspecting their own hearts. Renado finally broke the reverie, but he did so quietly. "It's late," he said, "and we have much to think about and do. Let us meet here tomorrow and get started. We can't delay very long."

They all said goodnight and wandered away to their homes.

!

The next day, everyone got to work on their respective tasks. The Sheikah decided to send a small band to escort Telma to Kakariko before it was too late to get her out. They also sent the hawks to the rest of the Resistance Force and helped Renado and the other leaders finalize the practical aspects of the plan. Their militia was not big enough to survive the direct attack from Castle Town that was surely coming, so blocking the northern exit was unavoidable. None the less, the trade route between Ordon and Kakariko had to remain open and healthy, for the moment at least.

Volc thought that Mayor Bo should move all of the Ordonians into Kakariko. Though Renado and the Goron Elders agreed with him, they realized that they didn't have housing for them or their goats. Without the goats, both of the cities would lose vital things like milk, cheese, and meat when available. They were in a very dangerous position, and a meeting would need to be called to confer with the people of Ordon on how to best protect them. If the Shadow King decided to hit the Resistance where they were the most vulnerable, then Ordon would be the place.

The Gorons wasted no time getting to work. They worked through the day and night, pounding their mighty fists into the canyon walls. Finally, they managed to collapse enough rubble to close off the northern gate completely. Others were already making progress on more housing. They decided not to touch the Spirit Spring area, as that was a sacred place and was never to be defiled for humanity's temporary needs. The last thing they needed was to further anger an already angry light spirit.

Truth be told, Renado prayed at the spring every night. He prayed for patience from the spirit. He prayed for guidance and understanding. The shaman received little feedback—but he had noticed, over the course of time, that the spirit seemed to be withholding judgment. He had not decided if the efforts of the people of Kakariko would be effective. If not, Renado was sure that the spirits themselves would clean everything up—to the detriment of all life currently in the land of Hyrule.

Count Durtain ended up being put in charge—under strict supervision—of working with the Obsidian Children. It took a few sessions for some of them to surface, but once they did it was encouraging to their parents and other family. Hope began to grow in the hearts of the Obsidian Eaters loyal to the crown, even as their bodies fought desperately against them. Georgetta and Katti—Princess Zelda's day to day personal advisors and planners—were among those who had fled to Kakariko, along with the cook, the carriage driver, the announcer, and a few others. Along with old Forrad, they struggled nobly as their bodies fought off the poison of Obsidian.

As they all slipped into the coma stage, Darbus finished off a large meeting house. The villagers made it homey and comfortable, and then the soldiers started moving the comatose bodies in. The children who were freed were moved in there with their parents, but there were always plenty of people around to talk to them and keep them occupied. Like Agatha, most of them didn't remember who they were or who these people were, but deep underneath there was some vague recognition of a bond that went deeper than memory.

The Sheikah brought Telma into the city a few days after the Obsidian Eaters first arrived. Renado heard her before he saw her, and he rubbed his temples and groaned.

"I still don't understand why you boys are pulling me away!" she was saying. "I was doing just fine, and you can tell that shaman that he doesn't have to worry about me." They rounded the southern corner, and a few of the people watching the group actually laughed out loud. Telma strode at the front of the line, grayish make up obviously swiped off of most of her face in a hurried manner—some of it still showed on the edges of her chin and her whole neck and bosom were gray. Her eyes looked red, but she was currently in the process of taking out what appeared to be small, red lenses as they strode into the town. She threw them in the dirt as they came out and continued to wipe at the makeup on her neck with what was now a gray hand towel.

Stumbling behind this force of Gerudo magnitude were the Sheikah. Each of them was laden down with Telma's possessions. One had her cat, one had a couple suit cases, one had the cat's suitcases, and so on. They were truly a hilarious procession, and Telma talked without pause the whole way into town. "Really, was it so hard to just load up the wagon? Then yall wouldn't need to carry all of that you know. But since you rushed me, the least you can do is carry my bags—Hey!" She had caught sight of the shaman, who was trying to slink back into his house. He froze in his tracks and turned slowly, only to meet with an angry pair of Gerudo eyes. "What is the meaning of this? I am just fine! No one suspected me, honey, and we could have used a good pair of eyes in the capital to keep watch on those two." She turned to the nearest Sheikah, never missing a beat. "I knew it the whole time, you know—that couldn't be my Link, I said. He never comes by to see me anymore and he hardly eats. That's just not like that boy. And I've met the princess a time or two, and boy was she changed. I knew it. I was saying so from the beginning."

"Telma, it is not safe," Renada said, holding both of his hands up in a defensive manner. "Madame Fanadi has been called back as well and is settling in one of the new houses the Gorons have built for us. We're consolidating all of our allies here as much as we can."

Telma raised an eyebrow, obviously doing some quick thinking. She narrowed both of her eyes and got right in the shaman's face. "And what about those Ordonians?" she said, her arms crossing. "They're not here and you made no mention of calling THEM back. Who's going to protect them, hm?"

Renado looked away. His voice, when he spoke, was quiet. "We have no room for them and their goats," he said, "and we cannot sustain life without the goats."

Telma scoffed. "HA! That's a load of hog wash. You got a whole mountain up there sugar! If you can grow crops enough to sustain all these people up there, then you can grow some grass for them goats to eat. You just listen here," she pointed her finger, thrusting it right in his face. "You get those sweet people up to this here town and you get them here quick. If you don't, you'll have to answer to me."

Renado gulped. "Yes madam," he said, and he stepped back a few steps and bowed.

"Well, if that isn't the Telma I know and love," said an old voice. The barkeep turned around to see the famous resistance group—Auru, Ashei, and Shad—coming in the door behind her on three fine stallions. It was Auru who had spoken, and he stopped his mount as they drew close to where the shaman and the gerudo had been speaking. He swung off and landed solidly beside his horse. He took two quick steps and engulfed Telma in a hug.

"Well, if it isn't old Auru!" Telma said, laughing and smiling as she hugged him back. They pulled apart, and Shad and Ashei dismounted their horses and had their turns hugging Telma as well. "The whole gang's back together," said the barkeep, tears in her eyes. "If that isn't a little spot of joy in these dark times, I don't know what is."

"Minus our two Ordonians," said Shad, and they all nodded.

"Well I just spoke to this hard-headed shaman here about Rusl and the other Ordonian townsfolk," Telma said. "They'll be moved over SHORTLY," she glanced back at Renado as she said this.

"No sign of Link?" Auru said.

Telma shook her head. "Not even a whisper of him in Castle Town."

"And no word of him or the princess here either," Renado added. "We're not counting on them in this war—we're on our own."

The old general frowned. "Not good," he mumbled, stroking his beard. "We haven't heard anything either, and without the help of the Goddesses' Chosen fighting this bastard, we're in trouble."

"But not without hope," Ashei added, finally speaking up. "We can do this, Auru," she said.

Auru nodded. "Oh, I never said we couldn't. Just that we're in trouble. There would be many less casualties with the Chosen on our side."

"Well, enough chit chatting out here in the cold," Telma said. She turned to the Sheikah holding her things. "You guys and gals go put my things where I'm sleeping. I'll find it later. And take these three fine people's horses with you. I want them bunking near me, you hear?" The sheikah nodded and hurried off, a couple soldiers grabbing the three horses and dragging them with them. Telma then took the arms of the three resistance members as dragged them toward the inn. "You three come with me. We're going to strategize, just like in the old days. And I hear they have this great milk here called Chateau Ordona I've been dying to drink…."

As they strode off, already talking strategy and catching up on old times, Renado sighed and smiled, despite himself. He was right to bring them all back—despite her overwhelming personality, Telma brought light and life into any room, and the expertise of the resistance group would be invaluable. Those four together, plus everyone else they had, and not only would they win, people might even have fun living here in the mean time.

The shaman could feel a warm wind blowing. Spring was coming. With the snowmelt would come battles and hard times as the people of Castle Town thawed and got restless in the spring air. But until then, the once-small village of Kakariko would be getting ready. They had their work cut out for them. Worried, but hopeful, the shaman walked to the stables and readied a carriage. He better get the people of Ordon back to Kakariko quickly, before Telma had his head and he didn't live to see the spring at all.

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Author's Notes:

This is the first real movement we've had on this storyline in a while. The three strands are about to weave together, readers! You'll just have to wait and see. Thanks for reading, and please review!

Don't forget to "like" the Doppelganger Trilogy on Facebook to get special progress updates in between chapters and other goodies. We're almost at 100 likes, and I'm thinking about having a contest when we hit 100. You'll just have to wait and see what you could win.

~The Wolfess