The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Artifacts

Prologue

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Dream. Dreaming. I'm dreaming.

The realization comes to me a second too late. I slip, loose my foothold. My fingers brush the end of the rope, closing on air as it flutters above me on the cliff face. I frantically try for another handhold, but the cliff is suddenly smooth, the landscape changing with the impossible plasticity of the imagination. I fall.

Damn. Wake up; wake up, "WAKE UP!"

The sound tears from my throat, ringing in my ears. I fall for another second before realizing it isn't working.

Normally, I would enjoy falling in a dream. I might even flex my dream powers, and turn it into flight. Tonight, however, something is different. I don't feel the elation that normally comes with realizing I'm dreaming, and I can't summon the lighter-than-air feeling that would slow my fall. All I feel is a twinge of fear, and a strong sense of deja-vu, as if this isn't the first time my dream has ended in an impossible fall.

Or maybe, started with a fall?

Because I'm certainly not waking up, whatever's going on.

"Damn, damn, damn it AAAAAAARGHHH!" I scream in frustration on finding myself unable to jerk out of the dream.

I hit the ground. It hurts like hell.

I scramble to my feet, sick with apprehension. I'm here again. Why couldn't I remember a minute ago? I've been here many times. Each time I fall, and each time…something happens. Something bad. Whatever happened, I can't remember clearly; all I remember is a feeling of soul-crushing, mind-numbing inevitability, and an impossible sense of futility. Whatever dream I've been caught in, it is bad. And there is nothing I can do about it.

At first glance, the forest clearing I was in seems like it should be a pleasant place. But I can already feel the creeping terror of a nightmare, illogical but undeniable, beginning to seize me.

"Calm. Just a dream. Just a-"

A bush rustles. I jump, cut off in mid sentence, the fear surging higher in my mind. I turn my head slowly, looking towards the source of the noise. Red eyes stare back at me, and the terror in my heart jumps up another notch.

One very small part of me is standing back and laughing. This isn't scary. This can't hold a candle to some of the monsters in my nightmares. Remember the one with all the needles? Now THAT was a monster.

But fear knows no reason, and my breathing begins to quicken. Hating myself for it, I spin and throw myself into a run, dodging between trees and bushes, vaulting over rocks and fallen logs. I'm making a lot of noise, crashing through the forest in a panic, but I can still hear It coming up behind me. Before, the fear had been apprehension and terror of the unknown, but now it had solidified into a solid, gut-wrenching horror that filled the pit of my stomach with ice. I know it will catch me. It always does.

I throw myself into a slide, skimming on my forearms and belly under a fallen tree too tall to leap. The fine black soil of the forest flies up, filling my eyes and mouth. I cough and choke, some part of my mind screaming that this is a dream, I can still breathe, don't panic, WAKE UP, but I stumble to my feet and try to run onwards when It catches up to me. (I knew it would.)

A glimmer of gold grabs my attention first, as It leaps onto the log I'd just skidded under. It pauses for a second, as if to size me up. 'It' is a huge golden wolf, mane bristling and eyes red as blood. Just the sight of it pins me where I stand, dread rooting my feet to the ground, as half-remembered shadows of pain wash through my brain. It bares bone-white fangs at me, a snarl of rage and hate. A scrap of something green is caught between the teeth. And then It pounces.

I yell again as its giant paws hit my chest, throwing me to the ground. My head cracks sickeningly on a nearby branch, and I nearly black out, but I still smell its foul breath in my face, and then an indescribably awful, searing, fierce pain in my throat. Its jaws drip red, and I…die.

The last thing I hear before I waking up is a snarling growl which, once again, impossibly forms words. "YOU CAN'T RUN FROM DESTINY."

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