Ascension By


Part 2-2 Legends and Lies

The wind blew cold through the trees of the Kokiri Forest and Paige wonder if the icy glare of the charmed child in front of her was the cause. She drew her hands to her chest and tried to calm the fear that was threatening to cause her heart to burst. As hard as Paige tried though, she could not quell the panic that she felt. She wanted to turn and run so badly, but something the Kokiri had said rooted her to her spot.

"You… you said Link… Do… do you… do you know him? Know Link?" She again looked about herself for the package she had brought with her. "I… I… um… wanted to return to him…if you could tell me where he is…"

Mido could practically smell the apprehension coming from the woman and it gave him a sense of power over the larger, stronger figure. It was completely opposite to the feeling of impotence that he felt around Link. A crooked smile marred the child's visage. "You don't belong here!" he decreed in his most masterful voice. It sounded as a child would, whining for a toy, but it terrified Paige all the same. Her mouth opened and closed, incoherent words of excuse dribbling out. Mido laughed at her performance. "But now that you're here," Mido continued. "You'll never leave! You'll wander the forest maze forever! Maybe you'll become one of the forest's monsters or get eaten by one."

Paige's mouth froze in open horror, all her fears coming to life in front of her. Her head shook in denial and she took a timid step toward her judge and executioner in an attempt to beg mercy from him. In response, Mido took several aggressive steps towards her, which caused her to turn and flee deeper into the mysterious lost woods. Mido's caustic laughing behind her driving Paige's fear to unmanageable levels.

She couldn't stop laughing. Again he turned to look at her, wondering what could possibly be so funny as to cause such fits of giggling. It was beginning to make him feel self-conscious. "Navi," Link whispered to his fairy companion. "Is there anything on my face or something?"

The small fairy left her perch on Link's shoulder and floated to a point just in front of him. "I don't see anything," Navi answered.

He looked sidelong at Malon, who had placed a hand over her mouth to mask her smile. "Then what is she laughing about?" he indicated towards Malon with his eyes. Navi shrugged her small shoulders, before floating over to examine the young redhead. As soon as the ball of light appeared in front of her, Malon burst out into full-blown laughter. Navi shook her head at the strange girl, before returning to Link's side.

"Personally, I think she's just weird," Navi commented with a glance back in Malon's direction.

Link sighed… creatures of the dark, complicated mazes, ancient dungeons, ok …girls he just didn't understand. As they drew within sight of the entrance to Kokiri Forest, Link decided to save the enigma that was the female persuasion for another time and started a new tune on his ocarina.

Slowly, Malon's shoulders stopped shaking as she was finally able to suppress her mirth to a manageable level. Although all the two had done so far was to ride from Lon Lon Ranch through the Hylian plains towards the forest, Malon was enjoying events immensely. Link was a very good rider and his repertoire with Epona was equally excellent considering their short time together. They jumped over abandoned fences and galloped through gullies. The whole time Link played a variety of tunes on the ocarina, not missing a single note no matter how hard the ride. It was intoxicating. "I could ride like this forever," Malon enthused, leaning forward and hugging her horse about the neck. "I want to sing! I want to dance," she shouted out with excitement. Malon looked coyly at Link. She wasn't sure what kind of response to expect from her riding companion, but his continued silence was not it. "Hey! Are you listening to me?" If there was one thing that could anger Malon instantly, it was being ignored.

Still, Link said nothing; he was staring intently at something in the distance. Malon was beginning to sense that something might be wrong. Concern replaced the anger on her face. "Is something the matter? What is it you see?" she asked removing a stray lock of hair from her face that had come loose during the ride so she could see what it was that had taken Link's attention.

"There is a hitch and wagon sitting in front of the woods…"

"So?" Malon wondered what was so strange about that.

Before Link could answer, a figure on horseback entered the scene bearing a burning torch and riding quickly into the forest. He was shouting something repeatedly, but at this distance Link couldn't make out what it was. Not waiting a moment longer, Link bolted forward on Epona. "Wait here," he commanded to Malon over his shoulder.

Malon nodded and waited.

Thirty seconds later she rode after him, the sun just beginning to descend, signaling the end to midday.

Colorful Pennants flew high over the towers of Castle Hyrule and banners hung from the surrounding walls. From the front gate to the guards on the rear barricades, the entire castle was decked out with great finery. In just a few hours the emissaries from Termina and the sovereigns of the four lands would appear. Having undergone her final primping for the gathering, Zelda sat once again in the garden, this time with her father watching the sun set.

"So, what do you think of all this 'Hero of Legend' business?" the king addressed his daughter. While he himself never believed much in such fanciful things, preferring hard work to relying on miracles and the whims of deities, Zelda very much did believe. Case in point, he thought the silly flute that had been found stored in an old unused storage room several months ago a trinket. To her it was a treasured heirloom, which she had to personally guard. There were mornings in which he would spend with her relating to him of this dream or that legend until the sun began to sink in the evening sky. It was getting to the point he wished that Zelda were more involved with the realities of the day and not spending so much time dreaming of things that would never be. Already he could see his daughter's eyes begin to sparkle with the delight at a tale bursting to be told.

"The 'Hero of Legend' is a very old tale, almost as old as the 'Three Goddesses', and the Triforce," she spoke excitedly, not able to sit still. "He has also been referred to as the 'Hero of Time', 'The Chosen of Farore', 'Bearer of the Triforce of Courage', and 'Wielder of the Master Sword'. In some texts, the Master Sword has also been called the Sword of Time," Zelda paused in her tale with a far off look on her face.

A smile formed on the lips of the middle-aged king, seeing his daughter so enthralled. "And I thought I held a great many titles." Something she had said, stuck in his mind. "So… the man they seek is said to wield the Master Sword?" He wasn't sure if he believed in magical swords either. Legends were sometimes just lies by a fancier name, but still a sword with that name existed or was said to exist in the old temple near the edge of town.

Zelda whitened. She knew what her father was aiming at. She nodded in answer and began thinking of a rebuttal.

"Then if the Master Sword still lies in that old temple in town, then this whole search of theirs is a farce, correct?" He turned to watch his daughter's reaction carefully.

Staring back at him silently, it took her a moment to think of a retort. "Not… not necessarily, maybe he…"

Luckily for Zelda, someone from the court politely interrupted her. "Excuse me, your Highness, Princess… the Zora delegation headed by Princess Ruto, herself, has arrived. Also the watch tower reports sighting the Goron delegation nearing the castle as well."

"Very well," the king said in reply. I will be in my chambers, preparing. When all the parties arrive, inform me again." The king rose and kissed his daughter on the cheek.

"Pardon, Milord, but there is one more item. The Princess…

"Hello, Zelda, King Harkian," a voice greeted and curtsied. "Quite the gathering you've called for… just to discuss a myth."

Zelda stood and smiled at the Zora princess. "Ruto, it has been quite sometime since we last met," returning the gesture.

"You Hylians just don't throw enough parties. You really should live a bit more; visit the lake," Ruto directed toward the king in an admonishing tone.

Both Zelda and her father laughed, quite comfortable and familiar with the brash sometimes-condescending mannerisms of the zora heir to the throne. "If I had known you were growing into such a lovely young woman, I would hold balls every day," the king complemented.

"That is a lovely dress," Zelda agreed.

Ruto gave a half twirl to the right and then to the left, showing off the body length pearl white gown. Around her neck was a large beautiful sapphire embedded in a golden broach. On her head was a gold circlet with pearls and sapphires inlaid. "Thank you," she enthused, before her expression saddened slightly. "I will be meeting my fiancé this evening, Prince Sol. I've been told that we met once before when I was but a baby. Tonight will be our first true meeting."

Zelda caught Ruto's subtle change in tone, but it was lost to King Harkian, who grinned widely at her. "This is lovely news, Princess Ruto."

"Thank you, your Majesty," Ruto returned rather formally.

The king looked obliquely at his own daughter, who was watching Ruto rather intently. "Perchance my Zelda will catch the eye of one the visiting nobles." He watched as Zelda blushed in response to his suggestion, before excusing himself.

Now it was just the two child princesses watching the sunset beyond the mountains. They gave each other cursory looks, before silence reigned. They were each lost in their own thoughts of the approaching gathering, each with their own trepidations.

After studying Ruto's unusual sullen state, Zelda finally broke the quiet that hung in the air. "If you don't mind my saying it, for someone about to meet their future husband, you don't seem very excited."

Zelda's words startled Ruto, her face knitting in fear. She hadn't thought her hesitation so easy to see. "You can tell?" Ruto asked in a voice that was uncharacteristically subdued.

Zelda shook her head. "I would not call it obvious." The Hylian princess knew Ruto's predicament well. Her father had jested at her obligations just moments ago. She knew that on any given day, she could be betrothed to a neighboring kingdom's monarch to better the future of her people. She would also be expected to put her best face forward and to bury whatever personal reservations she may have on such an arrangement deep within herself. To show the slightest sign of disapproval would be a terrible breech of noble duty. "I am certain Father didn't notice," Zelda assured.

Ruto nodded and reaffirmed her resolve to keep up appearances, but first she would share a bit of her melancholy with her fellow princess. She let out a long and heavy sigh and spoke with a voice that was tired and withdrawn. "It's actually kind of strange when I think about it now," she stopped abruptly and turned to look Zelda in the eye. "If I tell you, promise you won't think me silly," Ruto asked plaintively.



"Okay," Zelda agreed, a chuckle entering her voice.

"Okay then." Ruto took a deep breath and held it before letting it out in a slow deliberate manner. "I've never felt your kind very attractive." At Zelda's slightly confused expression, Ruto elaborated. "Hylians, I mean… No offense, but you've always looked a little funny to me."

"No offense taken."

"Anyway… I've never had a problem with my engagement until recently. Now, I just don't know. I feel if I go through with marrying Sol, I could be missing out on something… something magical."


Ruto slowly nodded her head and watched the last rays of the sun slip past the horizon. Zelda could see clearly what was causing the problem. She smiled despite the glum expression on her friends face. "You're in love with someone else…"

Ruto didn't answer, but the deepening hue to her cheeks let Zelda know her guess was true. "And he's a Hylian, isn't he!" Again Ruto was quiet, but her frown gave her away. "I knew it!" Zelda jumped up from seat and threw her arms around the amphibious princess. "This isn't horrible. It's wonderful!"

Ruto stood and forcefully removed herself from Zelda's embrace. "Not when he's just a dream…" That said Ruto turned away from Zelda. "I will marry Prince Sol. That is the way things are supposed to be." She took a moment to recompose herself and purposefully strode from the garden.

Zelda watched her leave, Ruto's last words echoing through her mind. '…A dream? Could it be? No, it has to be a coincidence. ' The Hylian princess bunched the long folds of her dress into her small hands, wrinkling them in the process and ruining hours of work. She ran after her departing colleague. "Ruto! Wait! What dream! Wait!"

When the fear that fueled Paige's legs subsided, she dropped to her knees gasping for breath. She looked about herself, she could see an old abandoned shrine-like building about three hundred meters away… if she had been lost before; there was no word to describe her condition now. That Kokiri was nowhere in sight, she had lost the sword she had wanted to return, and she had not even seen no less talked to Link. Tears began to cloud her vision and her shoulders visibly shook. 'I am so stupid. I am so stupid,' Paige began to sob. 'Gram was right.' Unfortunately, Paige was not alone in her misery. A low growl gained her attention and she spun around to find the source.

A white wolfos stood on its hind legs and towered over the small housewife, before dropping back down to all fours. Paige knew nothing about wolfos, but she could tell from the creature's huge size that it wasn't normal. Having no plans to examine the monster any closer, she began to back away, using her hands and feet to push herself back until she ran into a tree. Desperately, Paige's hands groped the ground, looking for any means to defend herself. Finally, she gripped a large rock and lifted the heavy stone above her head with both hands. Her arms shook from the heavy weight. The white wolfos closed the distance with slow fixed steps, its eyes tracking the woman's every movement. As she lifted the heavy stone above her head, it let out a low menacing growl.

All Paige wanted now in life was to go home as her heart despaired that she would never see it or her husband again. A sob escaped her lips as she readied to drop the stone down on the thing's head. "Please, die… please!" Paige begged.

"That's an awful thing to wish for!" an almost lyrical voice admonished.

So surprised was Paige that the rock fell from hands, nearly striking her feet. She looked up the tree to the branches where the voice had come. Sitting there with a very disappointed expression was a green haired Kokiri girl. The perpetual child hopped from limb to limb of the tree until she was just over Paige's head. She reached her arms out expectantly and Paige did the natural thing and helped the little girl from the tree. To Paige's further shock, when the child reached the ground she ran over to the large Wolfos and hugged it!

"Are you alright, Blacky? That mean thing didn't hurt you, did it?" The green haired girl asked with obvious concern. The Wolfos shook its long snout and nuzzled the Kokiri girl's neck causing her to giggle. Satisfied that her friend was okay, the girl turned to face Paige. "Hello," the girl greeted with a timid smile.

For an instant Paige was at a complete loss for words. The sight of that little girl standing so… so… casually next to that… that beast that utterly dwarfed her! Even with all the day's aggravations and strangeness, Paige was not ready for the scene in front of her.

"H…E…L…L…O," the girl repeated, much slower.

"Uh… uh… Hello," Paige replied, finally finding the power of speech. For the first time since she made her decision to track Link down, Paige began to feel herself relax. The simple smile of the little girl in front of her was the intrinsic opposite of the look of scorn and disdain of the Kokiri boy that Paige had met earlier. It was even overcoming her fear of the Korkiri children. She smiled back, the hope of finding Link returning to her. "My name is Paige. What's yours?"

"Hello, Paige. My name… hmm… What do you think of the name Clarissa? Do you think it's a pretty name?" the little girl greeted back.

"Yes, Clarissa is a very pretty name," Paige responded in a friendly tone.

The girl smiled, before her face became concerned. "The Lost Forest isn't safe. You should leave as soon as possible. Blacky will show you the way out. He tried to help you when you first entered the forest but you ran away," the girl rebuked, shaking her head. "Just follow him this time," the girl directed and began walking back towards the tree.

'So that was what was chasing me earlier… Well, who in their right mind wouldn't run away from something like that,' Paige thought miffed. She noticed the girl begin to climb the tree again. Quickly, Paige snatched the little girl from the tree's trunk. "Little girls shouldn't be doing things like that. Anyway I can't go back just yet. I'm looking for someone, maybe you know him."

The girl frowned. "Do you know how long I've been climbing that tree?"

"No, I don't," Paige admitted.

"Neither do I, but it's been a very very long time… as long as I can remember. I've never fallen… okay, once someone had to catch me. But still I can do it… watch." Again the young girl started at the tree.

Again Paige stopped her. "I'm sure you can, but I need your help finding a friend of mine."

The green haired girl looked at her skeptically. "A friend of yours? …In Kokiri Forest? The Kokiri are forbidden to leave the woods and no one from outside is allowed in. I don't see how what you say can be true."

Paige took a deep breath and tried to be patient with the nameless Kokiri girl. "Well… that's what I thought too, until the other day. Yesterday, I met a boy around your age. His name is Link and he lives in this forest. Do you know him?"

"We Kokiri are few. We all know each other," the girl began in a somber voice. "Even if that were not true, Link would be known among the Kokiri. He stands out. He's bigger than the rest of us."

Paige smiled and nodded her head. "That's right! That's right! Link is Hylian. He would be different than all of you. Can you tell me where I can find him?"

"That's not what I meant," the girl said cryptically. "He's bigger than you too." A far off, forlorn looked stained the otherwise cherub appearance of the child. "I don't know where he is right now or if he'll be back soon. Sometimes he's gone for weeks."

A horrified look crossed Paige's face. 'Gone for weeks at time? He's just a little boy!' Paige did not need another reason to persuade her to take Link into her home, but this new information filled her with an iron resolve. There was no way she going to let this situation continue. "Where does he go?"

The little girl shrugged her shoulders. "He doesn't report to me. He goes where he goes. I'm too happy at his return to spend time interrogating him." This conversation was beginning to depress the girl. She dug in her pocket for something.

What Paige saw as the child's flippant attitude was causing her to lose patience. "If you don't know where Link is… can you tell me where I can find Saria?"

"Saria?" the girl paused from drawing an item from her pocket. "How do you know that name?" She took the musical instrument from her pocket and placed it to her lips.

"Link told me about her…" Paige's words were caught off by what was some of the most masterful playing she had ever heard. The song was familiar to her even though she had only heard it yesterday, but the piece was so unique and vigorous as to be unforgettable. And this girl played it even more skillfully than Link. "…Saria…"

Paige gaped openly at the young girl, Saria, the person Mrs. Garish believed had raised Link since infancy. 'You're nothing but a little girl… How could you have raised a small baby?' Paige thought with disbelief. "You're Saria, aren't you?" There was a note of wonder in her voice.

Saria paused in her playing and her eyes met Paige's. "Yes," she said simply. She placed her ocarina in her lap, both hands covering it as if it was one of her most precious items.

"I though you said your name was Clarissa?" Paige accused.

Saria though about that, "No… No, I didn't."

"You most certainly did!"

"No, I asked what you thought of the name Clarissa. I never claimed it as my own." Saria smile grew as she saw Paige's mouth open to argue more but close again in defeat. "Why are you looking for Link? Are you in trouble?"

"Me?" her ordeal in entering the forest and finding her way here was momentarily forgotten, "In trouble? No, I'm here to help him! I don't think someone his age should be surviving on his own. And I wanted to return something that was taken from him… but I must have dropped it."

'Surviving on his own? Did he say that? Does he think that?' Saria was quiet for a moment as she gathered her words. "He's never been alone. He's always had the Great Deku, the Kokiri and me" She continued the rest of her words in thought. 'And he will always have me.' "So why does he need your help?"

This Saria was just too young to understand. Paige didn't believe she had to explain herself to a child and her biases toward the Kokiri began to surface. "Well, Link is Hylian and he needs a Hylian to raise him and meet his needs. You're just a child, yourself, cursed to be young forever! What could you possibly know about children?"

Almost as soon as the words left her mouth, with a great suddenness the sky opened up and the rain began to pour down on the strange couple. Though her face remained angered, the fear that she was in a very magical place and that she may have over stepped her bounds, was creeping into Paige's bones. Looking at the face of Saria and the tears she was sure that were racing down the child's face lost in the rainwater, Paige knew the skies were mimicking the mood of the Kokiri.

"Is that so wrong?" Saria asked in a quiet voice that despite the roar of the rain seemed to echo through out the woods. "Blacky" the white wolfos, sensing the mood of her friend, nuzzled closer to Saria. "Is it wrong to be a child forever? What is so great about being an adult?" a bite of anger was starting to enter into Saria's normally angelic voice and a peal of lightening boomed from the sky. "Working all day… Worrying about this or that… growing gray, weak, old… Watching yourself and everything and everyone you know slowly decaying. What is so great about dying? I don't want those things to happen to him." Though her voice never raised in volume and her expression never lost its bitter sweet sadness, the sky above raged with thunder and lightning. The wind drove the rain into Paige's face, forcing her to cover her eyes with her hands. And just as quickly as it had begun, the rain and winds ebbed away to nothing.

When a ray of light warmed her face, Paige removed her hands and opened her eyes. Across from her, Saria was wiping the tears from her face with the backs of her hand and her smile was doing its best to reassert itself over her frown. "And what…" she began through soft bursts of disjointed laughter. "What makes you think Link is Hylian?" Saria finished wiping her face just as the sun shined through the canopy of the Lost Woods. "Let's go inside," Saria suggested and began walking towards the old building behind them. "We can sit down and talk about Link over a meal. Are you hungry? I am!"

Paige nodded dumbly, not sure what to make of Saria's capriciousness. She followed her towards the entrance to the old yet still immaculate temple save for the cling vines climbing its sides. "What is this place?" Paige asked, hoping to put the conversation back on friendly ground.

"This?" Saria asked twirling around, her hands stretched out as to indicate the entire area. "This is my secret place. Only Link has ever been invited here before. And this," she opened the door to the forest temple for her guest. "…Is my clubhouse."

From his hiding place, near the exit of the garden maze that led to the forest temple, Mido frowned. He knew this was leading to trouble.

"Paige! Damn it, Paige, where are you?" Gram shouted out into the dark of the forest. He slashed wickedly with his sword at the thicket and brush that seemed to reach out and grab him. "Curse this Farore forsaken place!"

He had traveled for a good half hour through the dense foliage; the trail he entered on had quickly collapsed into nothing. It was as if the forest itself was telling him he was unwanted. But Gram didn't give a damn what the forest wanted. He would find his wife even if he had to burn the whole of the forest down.

Whether it was the madness the woods were believed to instill or the anger and grief over his missing wife, burning down the woods seemed like a good idea to Gram Rami. He took the torch he bore in his right hand to see his way through the darkened woods and held it to the thick brush of the forest. But the lush green refused to light quickly enough for Gram and his frustrations grew to uncontrollable levels. He tossed the burning torch in front of him, happening to find some dry under brush that immediately burst into flames.

Gram laughed at the raging fire that began to spread just as the madness was beginning to spread in his mind. One last tenuous grip of sanity drove Gram forward. His wife… he had to find his wife. Wielding his sword as if it were a bat, he moved heedlessly through the fire until a glint of something metal caught his eye. Even in his craze, his curiosity bade him to take a closer look.

Wrapped in the smoldering remains of one of his wife's old shawls was the gold and silver blade of the Great Fairy Sword. The shred of sanity Gram had left told him his wife must have taken the sword to return to that boy. Not thinking very clearly, he bent down to pick it up, but despite the hellish fire that surrounded it, the sword and hilt were undamaged and cool to the touch. Finally, his reality snapped altogether. His wife had been here. She had been here and dropped the sword. Something or someone had made her drop the sword. Now the sword was here, but Paige was gone. His Paige was gone! Gone! This damnable forest and that boy had taken her from him. He raised both the Great Fairy Sword and his own knightly blade into the air, cursing both the forest and the boy, Link, with the foulest words his tattered mind could think of.

Just as the libel had left his mouth, the sky let pour a deluge of rain. A fierce storm had been birthed from the virgin blue sky. Instantly, the Fairy Sword that had felt as light as one made of wood and that he had lifted in the air so easily fell from his hands. It was as though it had gained the weight of a thousand swords. Drenched in both rain and sweat, dumbfounded and confused, he tried to pick up the sword a second time, but now the sword was scalding to the touch, even with the rain and dwindling fire. With a craze still in his eyes, Gram backed away from the magical sword. When he finally raised his head from where the sword lay on the ground, he saw two horses, one bearing a young red headed girl, and the other… a young boy with an ocarina to his lips and a fairy at his shoulder.

Navi lowered her hand after completing the spell over the sword of her people. "Trying to use the Great Fairy Sword against its master is liken to slitting your own throat after cutting off both your hands," the bright fairy intoned darkly. "Altogether… Impossible."

Completely lost in his dementia, Gram Rami held his own sword high over his head with both hands and charged at Link, saliva frothing at his mouth.

As the four nobles from Termina rode their horses in front of a small beautifully crafted coach made of fine mahogany and bearing the coat of arms of Termina's royal house, their eyes wandered the crowds and storefronts of Castleton.

"It's smaller than I expected," observed Prince Sol. "Not what one would anticipate."

"I don't know," mused Lord Saffron, admiring the cordiality of the Hylian townsfolk. "It has a quaintness to it that I find most appealing." They continued through the town, drawing inquisitive glances from the people around them until they reached the outer wall of the castle itself.

While their opinions of Castleton had been muted, they were stunned silent by the simplistic majesty of Hyrule Castle. Knights, whose armor glistened in the fresh moonlight and bright light of the oil burning lampposts, lined the cobblestone walkway leading to the castle gate. As the entourage past each of the sentries, they raised their polished swords in salute and greeting. Streamers and banners, unfurled from the parapets, told the fabled history of the castle from its inception many many years ago to the present day. Finally, they reached the castle, where courtiers awaited on either side of a plush red carpet.

"Welcome, friends from Termina to Castle Hyrule! I am Minister Arvest, an advisor to the King." A finely dressed middle-aged man shouted in a great voice.

Lord Saffron stepped forward to meet their host. "We are most honored. I am Lord Saffron, emissary of King Pental of the holy lands of Termina. This is Prince Sol of the Zora, Minister Krakken of the Gorons, and Lord Zapheer of the Deku," He indicated each of his colleagues and they nodded as their titles were given. Saffron searched for the final member of their group with his eyes, finally spotting her. "And this is…"

"Call me Narcissca."

Raising an eyebrow at the strange woman, Arvest noticed something else peculiar. "What is this?" the minister asked, taking note of how the horses were being detached from the small mahogany coach and four large men armed with broadswords and heavy armor lifted it into the air and on too their shoulders by two beams of polished wood.

Lord Saffron rushed over to intercept two guards from the castle who were approaching the peculiar box.

"I must ask for your further indulgence. I have the strictest of orders on this manner. This contains the greatest of Termina's treasures and is to be presented to the savoir of the kingdom and he alone."

The guards looked at the foreigners with skepticism. Minister Arvest too wasn't quite ready to let an unsearched container within the confines of Castle Hyrule. The minister flashed a look at the two guards, who nodded and again advanced on the hand carried carriage.

Saffron's expression darkened slightly and his hand moved to the hilt of his sword. "I really must insist on this matter." Saffron warned tactfully yet forcefully. The other three representatives took up defensive positions around the box as well. Narcissca was the only exception; she stood off to the side with an impatient expression. She wanted to get on with the business of finding the Hero of Time. Everything else was just an obstacle to that end.

The stand off continued with each party measuring the resolve of the other. Not wanting to be the cause of a diplomatic incident, the Hylian advisor sought out a compromise. "If the contents are as valuable as you say, then I will see to it that it is watched continuously by an elite contingent of our finest guards and marksmen." Arvest again made a hand gesture and no less than twelve men armed both with sword and crossbow stepped forward. They took up positions around the coach and began their guard.

Lord Saffron removed his hand from the hilt of his sword and the others beside him did likewise. "I thank you for your assistance in this the most imperative of my duties." He expressed with a large smile. Although Saffron well understood that those men weren't so much guarding the contents of the box as they were guarding against the contents of the box. It was a precaution he could understand and it did bolster the treasures safety considerably. "Now, if we may get on with the business at hand. I do not wish to sound impatient or rude, but the situation in Termina will not allow for any dallying. It is imperative that I find the hero who saved our lands and reenlist his aid as quickly as possible."

"Of course, of course, if you will come this way. The four sovereigns have gathered and they have brought with them their greatest scholars and most informed advisors. Together with those of us here serving my lord, king, I am certain we can solve this minor mystery." The minister gestured toward the great doors to the castle, which were immediately swung open by attendants. "All are gathered in the great library; we can begin discussions at once."

Everyone smiled at the possibility of finding their journey's end and with a spring in their step, they made their way to the entrance. Unfortunately, they didn't move fast enough for Narcissca. "It's about time," she mouthed under her breath and forced her way through the slower moving crowd in front of her. Not caring for any social etiquette or diplomatic niceties, Narcissca even pushed the Hylian advisor, Arvest, to the side with a rude shove.

Whether it was from the shock of seeing such a brusque display or the disarming allure of Narcissca in her white over tunic, which barely reached the mid of her thigh and matching knee high boots, but the knights and guards on duty stood by dumbly as she entered the castle unescorted. The nobles from Termina, who were a bit more accustomed to her antics looked on embarrassed and moved quickly to head off any misunderstandings.

Both the Deku minister and the Goron spoke at once to diffuse the potentially volatile situation. "You'll have to forgive our colleague…" the Goron began.

"She is just eager, as we all are, to find the 'Hero of Time' and rescue Termina from its present predicament."

Seeming to sense that perhaps she was treading on thin ice, Narcissca turned around and directed an uncharacteristically warm smile in the direction of the Hylian minister. No one noticed the twinkle in her eyes.

The minister blinked and then did so again as if to clear his vision. So did a number of the Hylian guards and escorts. After doing so, Avrest smiled broadly at Narcissca. "Quite understandable. I'm sure you have endured a number of hardships to reach this point, milady." He offered Narcissca his arm as he escorted the group further into the castle.

"Oh, I've been waiting for this moment a very long time." She accepted his arm. "I guess I am a little too excited at the prospect of finally meeting the Hero of Time."

"I do believe I am jealous," Arvest grimaced. "That this legend commands your attention so. Perhaps I should take up the sword?"

"You jest, Minister," Narcissca's voice was heard to say as the two disappeared further into the castle.

Most of the arrivals from Termina, who had traveled since the beginning with Narcissca, looked at this seemingly new side of her with an emotion approaching shock. Only the Zora prince looked nonplussed.

"I've always believed women to be an enigma, but that one takes it to a whole new level," Lord Saffron said in confidence to Prince Sol.

Prince Sol looked as though he had taken insult to those words. "As she said, she is merely excited at finally meeting the 'Hero of Legend'. Really, Lord Saffron, must you be so suspicious… looking for mystery and intrigue where none exists?" That said, Prince Sol moved to join the others in catching up with Narcissca and Minister Arvest. This left Lord Saffron alone, staring puzzlingly at the back of the Zora prince.

'You've never trusted Narcissca before…' Lord Saffron thought with disbelief. He could recall numerous times that Sol had approached him concerning his feelings of doubt around the motives of Narcissca. So little was known about the representative of the secluded Pathvarii. A group that until recently was so reclusive they were only spoke of in whispers and folklore. It was only the near catastrophic fate that they all had come close to sharing that brought the Pathvarii into the light.

With these thoughts in mind, Lord Saffron caught up with the others, just outside the corridor that led to the Great Library.

"If you don't mind my asking," Arvest began as they neared the library. "What is it that threatens your lands? Perhaps this hero of yours is unnecessary."

The minister's question gave the group from Termina pause. Minister Arvest could see by the looks on all but Narcissca's face that his question wasn't as simple as he thought.

Narcissca, who still held onto the minister's arm, stifled a chuckle as she watched the scene before her. "These silly little men don't know." Her rebuke drew glares from everyone but Prince Sol and the Hylians.

Saffron was growing more and more suspicious of "Lady Narcissca". Wondering what her reaction would be, he watched her intently as he asked the obvious question. "And do you know the cause of the disasters?"

Turning her formidable gaze onto Lord Saffron, Narcissca was silent for a moment, as if measuring her response. "Fire, wind, water, ice… It seems to me… your enemy is the very earth."

"Why are we out here again?" the soldier asked, raising the faceplate of his helmet so he could wipe the sweat from his brow. His fellows around him shrugged in answer. Neither did the fifty others behind him in formation know. Normally, he would have accepted this ignorance with a soldier's stoicism, but today had been a promised day off and it was to be the first day he would have been able to… enjoy… his wife's company since the birth of the baby. If he was going to be out here in this sweltering heat in full armor, he wanted to know why. He steered his horse toward that of his commander.


"I know… I know, resume your post," the knight said not moving his gaze from the back of the man in front of him.

"Ah… Yes, sir."

"The day's young yet… You still might make it to that date with your wife."

The soldier smiled and nodded, glad in the knowledge that someone was looking after the morale of the troops. The commander, a knight by the name of Anon Ards was still quite young at the age of thirty-three. He sighed as he continued to watch the furtive movements of his friend in front of him. A good decade younger than himself at twenty, Veral currently had the worn expression of a man three times his age. And Anon had a pretty good idea why that was and what it was they were looking for out here in the Gossamer Plains, west of Cloctowne. While he felt for his friend's plight, this was a wild goose chase at best and at worst…

"So, Richard. What is it we're looking for out here?"

Sir Richard Veral remained quiet, scanning the countryside, the sky; whatever he could lay his eyes on.


"Anything!" Veral shouted, drawing the attention of everyone around him. "Everything… I don't know. All I know is I'm going to find whoever or whatever is causing these damn disasters!"

'I thought so,' Anon sighed. "And do you have any idea where to look? Why are we here in the Gossamer Plains? Why not Ordura or the Springs of Ge'of?"

"I… we… we have to start somewhere?"

Anon rode up to Veral. "Do you think these fifty odd men are enough? Entire towns have fallen in this… thing's wake," he said in confidence. "I think we should wait until the delegation returns from its search for…"

Veral turned angrily on Anon. "Legends and lies is all their going to find! I will not stand by and watch as Termina is torn asunder in the meantime!"

Anon was not perturbed in the least by the outburst. He grabbed his younger colleague by the arm and jerked him forward. "Save that swallow of 'for king and country'. I know damn well the reason you've dragged my company and your own out here! You don't want to lose to the 'Hero of Legend'." Veral narrowed his eyes as the moniker was spoken and his expression dared Anon to continue, which he did. "You don't want to give up…"

"LOOK!" a voice shouted out behind them.

Both knights briefly turned around to see one of their soldiers pointing to the southeastern sky. When they themselves turned to look, their eyes widen in bewilderment. The sky was a clear blue, but a few wispy clouds did dot the area. However, there was one cloud unlike the rest. It seemed to have a life of its own, as it traveled against the wind toward a small village a few miles away. Its form was that of an angry storm cloud, its underbelly a dark crimson in color. Arcs of soundless lightning streaked from one end of it to another as it continually morphed in shape as if driven by a torrential wind or some infernal power.

Quickly, both knights rallied their companies and raced toward the village. They arrived just moments before the fast moving cloud arrived overhead. The villagers looked at the heavily armed troop worriedly, wondering what the king's men were doing in their quiet town in such force. They took little note of the strange cloud that loomed over them. It was just a cloud after all. The troops massed in the center of town and all the men's eyes soon turned to their commanders.

Anon had his company disperse through the town and order an evacuation. He didn't know why, but just looking at the thing above their heads filled him with foreboding.

Veral heard Anon issue the order to evacuate the town to his men. "Evacuate?! We've only just arrived, Anon! The fight has yet to begin!"

"Do you wish these villagers caught up in our battle?" Anon retorted.

Veral did not answer. He knew his friend was right in that regard, but… but he couldn't let this opportunity the Goddesses had given him escape. He reared his horse around to face his own group of men. "Ready crossbows!" he ordered.

With trained precision, the men quickly prepared their crossbows. Not one of them let the doubt that ran through them show on their faces. Would the arrows even reach? And if they did, what damage would they do to a cloud?

Veral was no fool. The same thoughts that ran through the minds of his men, raced through his own. But he had planned ahead. He knew what they faced was no normal foe. "Mages ready!"

His men allotted a moment of distraction to enter their otherwise strong attentiveness, as startled eyes turned to a dozen cloaked men who had ridden with them this day. With a few muffled words and hand gestures, the soldiers soon saw their arrows glow with magical fire. They smiled. They should have never doubted their commander.

Anon reappeared at Veral side. "The evacuation is well under way," he said catching his breath. He caught the steely-eyed expression of his friend and the determined look of the men and the hope of victory began to enter into his eyes. "We can do this!" He enthused placing his gauntleted hand on his friend's shoulder. "I thought you had come out here half cocked, but I was wrong. Who needs some 'Hero of Time'?"

Veral added a smug grin to his warrior face. He raised his arm, preparing to let loose the first salvo of magic arrows, when it started to drizzle.

While it looked like rain, it didn't feel like rain.

"Ow!" a voice rang out in pain, soon to be followed by a chorus of others.

The droplets of liquid went straight through nearly whatever interference they met, be it wood, metal, armor, flesh or even bone.

Anon tore off the metal gauntlet that covered his hands, dozens of small pin size holes dotted the surfaces. The hands that they covered were red with small droplets of blood and were beginning to swell. Dazed by what was going on, he unthinkingly turned his gaze skyward to see what was going on. It was the last thing his right eye would ever see again.

Hearing his friend cry out and cover his right eye, Veral quickly came to terms with what was going on. "Fire!" he ordered.

Despite the pain of needles piercing their flesh, the archers let fly their arrows. The magically enhanced arrows roared into the sky, piercing the cloud in dozens of locations. Their mystical fire lit up the interior of the cloud and for a moment the drizzle stopped.

Then the downpour began, as did the screaming.

When the first soldier fell, the mages quickly threw up a shield around the group and for a while it seemed that while dark their situation was not hopeless. The rain bounced off the bluish dome with the sound of nails hitting the floor. All around them buildings and structures not under the protective covering were shredded and crumbling. Veral and Anon with his one good eye looked at the scene in horror. But the worse was yet to befall them. As a group, the mages of the company fell down dead, each with a single arrow to the forehead. The arrows the soldiers had fired into the air had come back to earth with uncanny accuracy. With the mages dead, so was the shield.

"Flee!" Anon shouted and the soldiers did so with great haste. Anon turned to Veral who did not move. "What are you doing? Are you injured?"

Veral shook his head. "What have I done?"

"There is no time for that! We must flee." When his words drew no action from the still man, Anon used words he knew would. "Dying here will not earn you her heart or save Termina! Let us go, while our horses are still able to carry us!"

Veral nodded mutely and spurred his horse into a sprint for the plains.

Outside the village most of the town folk watched in numb horror as their town was shredded by thousands of needles from the sky. Silently, they parted for a group of nineteen horses that raced from the remnants of their homes, all that was left of the fifty plus that had left the castle that day. However, even less than the nineteen would make it home. Finished razing the town itself, the cloud moved toward its occupants.

"By the Goddess! It's coming this way," a man shouted drawing everyone's attention.

The people scattered in all directions. The cloud followed the largest group, further proving that there was an intellect behind this madness. Seeing this, Veral ordered everyone to scatter, including what remained of the two companies. "Meet back at the castle!"

No one bothered to acknowledge him, they just ran as fast as horse or foot would carry them.

The cloud hesitated for a moment, before further driving despair into their hearts. It split into smaller versions of itself and followed what groups it could, intent on killing as many as possible.

Veral raced well ahead of the small mass of destruction in the air. Many villagers behind him were not so lucky. He tried to drown out the wails and cries of those he could not help, tears of remorse and shame staining his handsome face. No longer able to bear it, he turned his horse around and charged back towards the stragglers. He reached out and threw a mother and child onto his horse, while he himself got down. He placed two more children onto one stirrup each and told them to hold on for dear life. His horse holding all it could, he smacked its rear, driving it away.

He spared a moment to make sure they made it safely, before turning back toward the scene of death with defiance in his dark eyes. He saw a man fall, drenched in blood. His wife, holding their baby child turned to him and urged him to stand, and then she too collapsed. Bleeding heavily himself, Veral approached the woman but there was nothing he could do for her. Her wailing baby drew his attention and he covered the child with his own body and prayed. "Lady Nayru… please let it be my final act to save this child. Please let my corpse shield him from this rain of death! Jylene, forgive me." The words spoken… he collapsed into darkness.