A/N: I'm not even going to say anything. This story has been in my head for a while and I finally decided to write it. This is AU/AH and ties in with no game whatsoever. Please enjoy and I do not own The Legend of Zelda. Enjoy!
~Moon White Rose
Like all else, she had been warned. From the time she could crawl, the simple warning had been told to her in some way. It was a part of her, like her heart and soul; to except and heed it was as easy as breathing.
Never go into the forest alone; to even think of doing such a thing and getting found out was enough to get one branded as a suicidal lunatic. One never went out alone and one most certainly never even thought of stepping a foot past The Perimeter. Beyond that point was… his territory, and never had he been known for being merciful to the few stupid trespassers who had tried to leave.
It hadn't always been like this though, she had been told; this endless state of cold, sickness, hunger, and fear darker than the night. She could recall so well the evenings of her younger years, spent safely in her father's lap by the low, golden fire while he whispered the past into her ears. He had told her how his great-grandparents, just wed and starting their lives, had chosen to undertake the monumental task of building a town, along with twenty other young families.
In her mind as he had spoken, she could see them travel through a forest that, now dark and cruel, had once been full of ethereal beauty, light, and thriving life. So easily she could see the determination that slowly but surely birthed and grew Fair Forest Town, their home, so properly named at the time. She could also see their blissful ignorance at what was to come.
The troubles were miniscule and discreet at first. The surrounding forest, in all its beauty, had its problem with monsters, like the rest of the land beyond the trees; Hyrule, her father had called it. However, they were so few that none worried when the settlement began. Not long after completion though, monsters began to appear more frequently, but not enough to cause serious alarm. Then, what was once fertile grown that grew food in abundance slowly began to yield bad harvests and game became harder to find. Sickness became almost an everyday occurrence and lives in the night silently slipped away.
That all however, as everyone knew now, was only the beginning. Livestock had begun vanishing and nightly guards had been posted outside the settlement walls, ordered to protect with their lives all the things they held so dear that lied within.
Their lives were what it took for the true horror of their new, 'perfect', home to be unmasked. The next morning every guard had been found dead, but the bodies were not mangled or beyond recognition; a common sight if a monster was the victor of a fight.
Precise, clean, deep cuts were made along the arms, legs, stomachs, and throats of each unclothed body, a 'G' carved into every skull. It had been a sight that she was told no one could bear; all those tortured, degraded bodies lying in pools of dark crimson.
That all however was the past, and she knew that if she heeded the warning, kept her head down, and behaved, she would most likely be safe. That was where her problem came in. She heeded the warning, but the way she lived her life was a stark contradiction to how all the other girls lived theirs. Also, in those moments she was on her own, she admitted that what she did and what she wanted were as different as the sun and moon. She stood out, and that was dangerous, but a small part of her didn't care.
She secretly wanted to stick out; she wanted him to take notice. She wanted to meet him in the darkest glades of his domain and smile sweetly. She wanted him to think of her as a harmless fawn, tender and vulnerable. She wanted to see him realize all too late that she was in truth a bear, ready to kill and avenge all those who had fallen under his mysterious, silent tyranny.
A smile stretched across her face as she thought about what she wanted the most though. She wanted to see the life fade from his eyes and him enter the dark beyond with just one word from her lips ringing in his ears: "Payback."
"Who would go?"
Every muscle in her body was sore and taunt; they screamed for movement and she almost gave in. Then her stomach growled, reminding her she would be in for a long, sleepless night if she paid any heed to the rest of her body. The person next to her laughed softly, though to her pointed, slender ears, it sounded more like an expelled breath. Slowly she turned her head and amber eyes, mirrors to her own, were what she met.
"Perhaps you can inform your stomach that, if it wishes for food, it shall have to wait and be silent or it will get nothing tonight," whispered the person in her ear. She wanted to giggle so badly at her father's words, but instead bit her tongue and glared.
"Yours has not been so quiet lately either," she hissed in reply. Her attention returned to the clearing they had been watching for the past hour. Their hunting had started after noon and it was close to sunset now. What they were waiting for needed to show up soon, or-
"Serena." His voice was low and she saw from the corner of her eye her father slowly reach for the bow beside him with one hand, the other slowly reaching for an arrow. A doe was cautiously making her way into the clearing. Though it wasn't a buck like Serena and her father had hoped, they weren't going to turn down what was in front of them.
Fresh meat was fresh meat, and the doe would definitely keep her belly happy tonight. Slowly she reached for her bow and an arrow from her quiver. In silent unison, they stood, careful to make no sound as they notched their arrows and pulled back on the bowstrings. Serena's hand that held the arrow reached her mouth and her heart started to drum in her chest. This was it. Just one shot and she could say she finally brought down big game on her own.
Right before she let the arrow fly, she saw something out of the corner of her eye. Her body jerked at the flash of red, gold, and snow white, ruining her shot. The arrow flew, but wedged itself up to the end of the arrowhead in the doe's rump. The doe's head shot up as a cry of pain filled the air. In lightning speed, before she could move, Serena's father's let his arrow go. It struck just behind the deer's front leg, burying itself over halfway in, guaranteeing that both the lungs and heart had been punctured.
Numb, Serena watched as her father ran into the clearing, using his knife to finish the job. She couldn't believe it; it had happened once again. Again she had seen a glimpse of something that didn't belong amongst the green of the trees or the rich brown of the forest floor. At least, she mused bitterly, taking her time in joining her father, it's not something that belongs in our part of this cursed place. She knew that thought was ridiculous. Nopart of this whole forest belonged to her people; they just had a bit of it they could use to try to survive. This place was his. She wondered if it was him that she had seen.
"What caused you to miss?" the question snapped Serena from her thoughts and her father's attention was fully on her. His amber eyes were filled with nothing but love and concern and she had to smile. Even without trying, her father knew how to cheer her up.
"I saw it again, whatever it is." Her father only nodded as he stood, ruffling her smooth, ebony curls; the same color as her mother's hair. Serena always thought it was funny how she looked almost exactly like her mother, save for the exception of her eyes, but in personality was the reflection of her father, despite her mother's disapproval. She could almost hear her mother now; it was so easy to imagine how she would react when they got home.
"Really Owlan, it's bad enough you come in smelling like fish or animal innards, but must you drag our daughter along? She is a girl; she should be here with me, not out doing man's work with you." Serena couldn't hold back the laughter bubbling inside her.
"Let me guess, you're thinking of what your mother will say when we get home?" She nodded and he laughed as well. "Well then, let's get home and see if you're right."
It didn't take long to arrive back in Fair Forest, the dilapidated sign bearing the village name being the first thing to welcome them back home. The second thing, or rather the first person, to welcome them was someone Serena was more than happy to see.
"Glad to see you back Owlan, Kina was ready to send a search party out for you two," Greeted Pumm, Serena's grandfather. She gave him a big hug and he hugged her back, lifting her off the ground in the process. "So, what took you so long?" he questioned, setting her down.
"That," her father replied, motioning to the doe laying on the travois he and Serena had dragged back. At one time, dogs or horses pulled the travois', but no one dared take livestock out into the forest now.
Just another thing he's taken…. Serena shook her head and tried to sneak away when she lost interest in the conversation between her father and grandfather, but her father's hand landed on her shoulder before she could get far.
"And where are you headed?" She smiled up at him, the look on her face one of fake innocence.
"Just to visit with some friends, and before you ask, I've done my chores."
"Oh? Such as?" He was smiling and she pulled away.
"All of them. I helped in the garden, I did my share of the house cleaning, and all my mending is done. May I go now?"
"Go on." She bolted after kissing her grandfather on the cheek. Finally, time to herself. She made her way straight to the tavern. She knew her friends would be busy at this time, and solitude was what she craved. She knew she had seen something. Again.
"Water," she whispered to the bartender, and a wooden cup was set in front of her in moments. Weaving her way through the crowd, she found an unoccupied table in the corner and settled in. She hardly drank at first; she really only came here to think, something she had done a lot of lately. She was seventeen, marrying age, and so far, only one had asked her father for the permission to marry her.
And the day I say yes to Groose is the day I'll run naked through town and eat a cartload of dirt, she thought, downing her water in two gulps. There was no way she would ever have feelings of any kind for that vain, egotistical, pig. It didn't take much for her thoughts to start to drift, but suddenly, a voice rose above the low murmurs of the tavern and everyone fell silent.
"It's hopeless!" Spat Ingo, one of the head field workers. "It's nowhere near harvest time and I can already tell less than half that field will be salvageable. Come dead of winter, we'll all be so hungry, we'll start seeing each other as fair game!"
"Ingo, you're over exaggerating," came the soft reply of mild mannered Talon. "Surely things can't be that bad." His fifteen year old daughter Malon chimed in.
"But it is Daddy. The vegetables aren't growing well; some are spoiling in the ground!" This news was received with even a stronger reaction than the news of the future grain harvest.
When Fair Forest was established, trees had been cut to build their walls and houses and the cleared land was used to grow food. The one large field was to be tended by all and the harvest to be shared by everyone. When it came to vegetables though, each family was responsible for their garden. The fact that both were not doing well made it clear to Serena that they were worst off then she had thought.
Ingo who seemed to thrive off of negative reactions was quick to keep the bitter mood alive. "Let's just face it; we all know what's really going on and who's to blame. He's starving us! He sitting in that dark forest of his, laughing at our misfortune, because he's the one who's causing it!"
The tavern fell silent, but only for a brief moment. Many started yelling things like "He's right!" or "That monster's will kill us all!" and other things that all started to blend together in a web of words that could never be untangled. Serena however, stayed silent. She had mouthed off about the monster before, but had hardly heard other's, let alone adults, talk about him, so she was eager to see where this all would go. Suddenly, a voice rose above the rest and Serena suddenly wished that the only thing going was her.
"EVERYONE CALM DOWN!" A silence fell quickly at Groose's request. He was leaning against the wall by the entrance, as always looking far too sure of himself. There was no way she could leave now without being seen, and a confrontation with him was the last thing she wanted. "Now," he said "it seems to me that the only way we'd have a chance of surviving is if Hyrule suddenly decided to chop down this whole forest and send its entire army to save our hides. Since that hasn't happened yet, I think it's safe to assume that we're going nowhere."
"Yes, except perhaps, a six foot hole." She looked over her shoulder, certain she had heard someone, but there was only the rough wood of the wall. An uneasy feeling started to turn her stomach into knots and an icy feeling started to dance up her spine. Perhaps she shouldn't have come here. Suddenly, she needed to be out of this place; something was messing with her.
"What if we sent someone for help?" questioned someone half-heartedly. The question froze Serena. How often had she dreamed of doing that exact thing?
Ingo sneered at whoever had made the suggestion. "Oh yes, let's send someone out there to go and get help. You idiot, no one is stupid enough to go!"
"But, what if we had someone who knew the forest well try?" Malon fired back. The one who had made the suggestion was her older sister Cerima's husband, and Malon never tolerated someone downgrading her family, be they of blood or marriage.
"And who, Miss Malon, are you recommending?" Ingo growled, getting in the girl's face. Malon held her ground and her answer left her lips calmly.
"How about Sir Owlan? He's is the best hunter in the village. If anyone could, I bet he could do it." Serena felt a surge of pride at the words. While she found no appeal in the idea of her father out in the forest alone, she was proud that someone thought of her father as brave, which he was. Figure's Groose would ruin the moment.
"Owlan? There is no way that coward would ever leave his family. After all, don't forget, the monster killed his brother and oldest son- at least so you all have told me," he added, smiling at everyone.
Groose was not a born citizen of Fair Forest. He had showed up one night, out of nowhere, when Serena was fifteen. His body had been decorated with small cuts, deep gashes, and angry black bruises. His ankle had been twisted and it was certain a few ribs were broken, if not severely bruised. He had been weak from hunger, thirst, and blood loss and had passed out after managing to croak out the word help. It had taken well over a week for him to recover to the point that he could at least talk and move around, with help. That was when the questioning began, something Serena remembered well…
"We're very glad you're recovering, but there are some things we would like to know," Owlan said. Serena stood in the corner, silent. The tavern had been closed since the arrival of the red haired young man; it had been turned into a recovery room of sorts, thus it had been relatively empty. Today however it was occupied by many of the village men and a few of the women. Serena was the only child. There was no way she was going to miss this.
She had her doubts and suspicions like everyone else and she wanted her questions answered too. The red haired boy nodded a look of pain dancing across his face as he tried to get comfortable in the chair he was sitting in.
"I'll answer what I can, but I've got a few questions of my own, like why every person who was in here trying to help me get better had a sword and looked ready to run me through if I so much as sneezed," replied the boy, a note of sarcasm in his voice. A look to her father confirmed Serena's suspicion; he had heard it too, but was choosing to ignore it.
Owlan chose his words carefully. "We have our reasons. You are the first… visitor in our village since it was founded. What is your name and age, so that we may get the basic information out of the way?"
"G-… Groose. My name is Groose, and I'm eighteen." The hesitance on the name caught Serena's attention.
He was going to say something else, I'm sure of it! She wondered if her father noticed as well. They both were good at noticing little details, hence why they did well at hunting, though she knew she wasn't as good as her father. Yet.
"I see. So Groose, where are you from? How did you survive out there? This forest is harsh and unforgiving." What happened next cemented Serena's opinion in that this person, whoever he was, could not be trusted.
"It was horrible," he whispered, a hand covering his eyes. "The horrors out there are unimaginable! I lived a simple life in Hyrule, in Castle Town actually, and I loved history and lore. I read that Hylians came into this forest, but were never heard from again. I wanted to see if I could find anything, see if maybe there were somehow survivors, but the things I saw…. Please don't make me recall them sir, they are far too awful…." Serena wondered how anyone could fall for his act so completely.
Sure, his wounds were real enough, but she could tell by his theatrics that some, if not all of what he said was a lie. She lost interest in the conversation at that point, except for when He was brought up in a hushed tone. Everyone wondered why Groose was still alive, after being in the monster's territory. Finally her father came up with an answer that everyone more or less accepted.
"Perhaps he doesn't mind new prey wandering in… it's only when they try to leave that he has a problem." Not long after this was said, Groose asked if he could rest and everyone began to leave. Serena stayed close to her father as they left, especially when a glance over her shoulder showed that Groose was watching her intently. Nearly the whole way home passed in silence, and Serena had so many thoughts going through her head that she almost didn't see something that she had never seen before.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw a blur of snowy white, vibrant yellow, and deep scarlet. She whirled around to see what the thing could be and yelped. What she saw for just a second was the colors dissolving into a shower of yellow diamonds, but she was certain the colors were shaped like a body before they faded away.
"Serena, what's wrong?" she turned and looked up at her father. The words died on her tongue; she couldn't bring herself to tell her father for some reason- it was like something was holding her back. Instead she just shrugged and gripped her father's hand.
"I just… I'm scared Daddy, I'm scared." He pulled his hand out of hers and wrapped her in his arms. She felt him kiss the top of her head softly, and for just a moment, she felt safe.
"I know Serena, I am too."
"Besides, I don't think he's sane!" The statement snapped Serena out of her memories and she listened as Groose continued, her blood boiling with each word. "I don't think Owlan is strong enough or stable enough mentally to endure what's out there. Plus, as I said before, he's a coward."
Tarin, Talon's twin brother spoke up before Serena could, and for that, Groose was lucky. She was ready to kill. "Those are serious accusations, Groose. Owlan has proved himself to be brave, wise, and strong on a number of occasions. What proof do you have?" Groose folded his arms and a smirk danced across his face.
"On word: Serena." The tavern went silence and Serena started to taste blood from biting her tongue so hard. "He lets her act like a boy! Instead of staying home with her mother and doing cooking, cleaning, and gardening, she's out with him fishing, hunting, and gutting animals! She walks around in leather boots and breeches and her father's old shirts instead of dresses, skirts, and blouses, like she should. She's a very beautiful girl, but there's nothing attractive about her coming in with her father, drenched in sweat and covered in dirt. He's raised her to be a boy!"
"STOP IT!" she yelled, unable to take the insults any more. "You need to learn to shut your mouth, and keep those opinions of yours to yourself," she growled, slowly coming closer. Groose looked surprised to see her for a second, but it quickly vanished and he smiled that vain, self-absorbed smile of his.
"I can only speak the truth Serena. You really should stay home with Mommy." In a flash, the knife she kept on her hip was in her hand. No one had time to react before she let it fly and no one moved when it struck the wall, almost to the hilt, less than an inch from Groose's face.
"I didn't have to miss. And my father could survive out there. He could get help, and no matter what he's more a man than you'll ever be. You're the coward in this town, not him!"
"Oh really?" he snarled, "Than why won't he go? I don't have to ask him to, I know his answer would be no." The words left Serena's mouth before she had time to really understand what she was saying. She was only seeing red, and she wanted to put him in his place. Badly.
"The reason he's not going is because someone else is! You all what to know who will go? I'll tell you. The one going out there, killing that monster, and getting help… is me."
A/N: Well, this was way longer than I thought it would be, but finally it's done. So other than Serena (OC), who can tell me what games all characters mentioned are from? I used some old ones. If any can tell me what game Tarin is from, I'll be surprised; it's not a game I see a lot of FanFiction for. Anyway, tell me what you all think. Hopefully, I'll have Chapter 2 up soon. Bye!
~Moon White Rose