Running to the meeting spot, I was frantic. And late. I was always late though. Mostly, I was a blend of excited and nervous at the prospect of seeing my friend again. I finally reached the rock that served as a landmark and let out a breath of relief as I noticed the sun hadn't completely descended below the horizon. They should still be here.
My relief was short lived. Not only was there no one in sight, but there was also a sinister feeling in the air. My heart was pounding in my ears as my gaze turned to Castletown. I couldn't have been more than half a mile away and at the top of a hill too, but I was still having a hard time making out the town beyond the walls that encircled it through the fog... wait, fog isn't that thick or dark. Oh goddess, please no.
The uncanny silence from before was ripped apart as blood-curling screams rent the air. Those anguished cries ripped me from my shock, and I started sprinting towards the town. I saw a horse with two cloaked figures shoot out of the gate I was headed towards, but I barely paid them a couple seconds notice. They were not my targets.
A guard tried to stop me from entering the gate, but with my small size and speed, I was able to easily dodge him. Castletown was absolute chaos. There were monsters everywhere, some attacking and tormenting the already terrified villagers and some just enjoying the sight of all the destruction. It was sickening.
The fire had already taken over more than a third of the houses, and it was spreading fast. There were still some people trying to combat it, but it looked as if most had already given up. Were it not for my single-minded determination to get to the castle, I might have done the same. The horrifying scene coupled with the toxic smell and desperate cries could have driven anyone to inaction.
I was stopped about halfway to my goal by a familiar face. It was Korst, the man who ran the shooting gallery and taught me how to properly use my first bow. I tried to show him that I was in a rush, but he wouldn't let me past.
"Link, we need to get out of here right now. The smoke has messed up your sense of direction. You're going the wrong way."
"No, I have to get to the castle," I yelled. He didn't budge. "She's in there. I have to get her out. I have to save her. You have to let me save her."
The desperate tone of my voice changed his hardened look to one of sympathy, but he held me with an arm when I tried to get past. "I'm sorry, son, but if she's in the castle, she's already lost. Look."
My glance past him confirmed his words. I could see orange flames licking the top of one of the spires. I sunk to my knees in despair. This is all wrong. This isn't how things are supposed to go. I felt completely empty inside as I watched the world around me burn.
I startled awake and took a few minutes to gather where I was. Relief coursed through my whole body when I realized I was lying in the grass of Hyrule field. With the sun beating down pleasantly on my body and the shock from the nightmare of that night seven years ago fading from my body, a smile made its way slowly across my face. I loved the feeling of the cool grass tickling the back of my neck. If I could spend all my time relaxing like this, I would be content.
"Aye, Link," called Landon, one of my traveling buddies. "Are you planning to spend the whole day sleeping? That won't put any food in our bellies, now will it?"
"No, I believe my sword does that."
"Don't be nasty," a voice from behind me said. I turned my head to see his twin brother, Trenton, approaching. "He's just pointing out that it's foolish to waste an entire day when it's hard enough to come by wages as it is. Besides that, being this close to the castle is dangerous. Though, Landon, you should know better than to antagonize Link after you've awoken him. You know how he is."
"Look, I told you my plans for the day were to wait here until nightfall. If you have a problem with that, you're more than welcome to leave. Remember, you're the ones who asked to join with me, not the other way around," I replied haughtily. I wasn't usually that rude, but today was the seventh anniversary of that fateful day. I was little sensitive.
They looked at each other, and engaged in one of their silent conversations I could never even begin to understand. Landon let out a sigh as he turned back towards me while moving the strands of brown hair that had fallen in front of his eyes back with his hand. "I'm sorry," he started, "I know it's a tough day for you. Trenton and I will leave and set up camp a more comfortable distance away from the castle. Once your mysterious stranger fails to show up yet again, you should join us."
I watched them leave until they're figures were specks on the horizon and promised myself to be kinder to the brothers in the future. They were nice enough fellows, made for enjoyable enough companions, and had helped me out of a tight spot a couple of times. Just not today. Today was hard enough without hearing complaints about my inability to accomplish what needed to be done. I was already fully aware of that particular limitation.
As predicted, I waited in vain until it was too dark to see. I never really expected anyone to show up, but at this point, it was tradition. Honestly, it was pretty much the one constant I had left in my life, and I refused to let it go. With one last glance towards the meeting rock, I jumped on Epona and rode towards camp, praying that tomorrow would be a better day. However, because of the darkness, I failed to see the pair of eyes, concealed in a tree, which followed my form as I left.