September 16, 2019
Lon Lon Ranch (present)
Malon nervously played with her hands as she watched her future husband to be zip hot coffee from a wooden mug as he waited for her father to awake from his seemly eternal slumber. Malon’s cheeks reddened at the realization that Stonard had arrived hours ago, and her father remained deep asleep.
“Marcilus, do you want me to tell him you are here? You have waited for so long.” Malon shyly suggested.
Stonard waived her offer off, putting his empty mug down while yawning.
“You know what? The trip has finally gotten to me, I will retreat to the guest room and sleep for a few hours. Do let me know when Talon awakes though!”
He gave her a kiss on the cheek and went into the room. Malon felt somewhat relieved by Stonard’s departure. She was embarrassed that Stonard had come all the way to the ranch to ask for her hand, and her father slept soundly if a bit longer than usual for the proposal to swiftly take place.
She wanted to postpone this prospective marriage at all costs, but wasn’t brave enough to deny Stonard herself. Perhaps there was another way she thought. Malon went up the steps and entered her father’s room, she softly closed the wooden door behind her.
She sat by her father’s side and gently tapped him on the arm stirring him awake.
“Oh! Malon…what? What is it?” Talon asked with droopy eyes.
“I need you to do me a favor! And you can’t say no!” Malon replied with urgency.
“It’s early Malon…whatever it is ask me when I wake up later in the day.” Talon finalized turning away from her.
“There is no time …Stonard arrived earlier. He is resting at his room. He is going to ask for my hand and you have to buy me some time.”
“What!? But I like Stonard…and besides I can’t just refuse him.”
“Don’t.” Malon sighed. “Just tell him to …wait another month. Yeah, tell him to wait another month…so that you can prepare a big celebration in the ranch.”
“But he won’t understand the reason for such a postponement after all he is just looking for a straight yes or no answer.” Talon reinforced.
“Then…tell him that yes, that you will allow him to marry me …but that I can’t know because you want to plan for a surprise celebration when he asks me.” Malon urged.
Talon scratched his balding head with a confused look.
“Wait? He hasn’t asked you to marry him yet?” He asked.
“No. I think…I think he is wary about me turning down his proposal. Perhaps he thinks that if he earns your approval I will be swayed by it or something.” Malon replied.
Talon placed his hand over Malon’s shoulder before he asked,
“You don’t want to marry him do you?”
“No.” Malon shook her head. “But only because I still feel that Link will return. I am scared to be wrong.”
“Well I won’t force you into something this important if you don’t feel ready. The heart is a strange thing honey.”
“I am sorry. I know you really like Stonard.” Malon apologized full of sincerity.
“Doesn’t matter if I like him, I am not the one marrying the boy.” Talon replied with a smile.
“Thank you dad.” Malon said with a sigh of relief.
* * *
Kokiri Village (present)
Link opened his eyes, he looked across his room, and neither Saria nor Aryl were anywhere to be found. He was tired, but it was finally daytime and some of the brightness peered through the curtains to let him know that it was time to leave.
Saria had told him that he had to go and to be honest there was nothing else for him to do at the forest. He had eliminated most of the surrounding Moblin plague, and the Deku Tree was finally strong enough to cast his protective magic around the forest keeping the Kokiri safe.
Link fastened his belt, strapped on his sword and shield, and exited his Tree House. He would be back to this Tree house, how could he not? He had been back many times during the other time line, had lived most of his entire life in its quiet yet comfortable innards.
Yet this time something felt strange as he walked out of the door and commenced the ordinary descent down its wooden ladder.
“Maybe it is the way Saria said ‘and we shall never meet again’…maybe she is just being over dramatic.” Link told himself as he made his way down.
As he walked back to the Forest entrance he saw all of his child hood friends playing around as always…carefree spirits. Some waved at him, some of the girls giggled at his way. Link had the body of a maturing 15 year old (though he was really 17) and was considered handsome by most. So he was used to the giggles and whispers. Everything seemed normal except for one little freckled boy named Mido or as Link referred to him jokingly; the alpha runt.
Mido eyed him curiously and ran towards him,
“Hey! Wait up Link!” Mido yelled as he approached him, “ Oh! Awesome Scar! How did you get it!!”
Link smiled, he had grown to like Mido and Mido had humbled himself throughout the years to end up admiring Link who he saw as his big brother.
“Long story …had a fight with a giant Moblin.” Link replied play fully messing around with Mido’s red hair.
“Did you win?” Mido asked wide eyed.
“I wouldn’t be here taking to you if I hadn’t.”
“Awesome!” Mido replied taking a curious look at Link, “Are you leaving again?”
“Yeah.” Link nodded.
Mido shook his head with a distressed look before replying,
“That’s not good. You promised you would continue my sword lessons when you returned.”
“I am truly sorry…I will owe them to you.” Link reached into one of his sheaths and pulled out a beautiful short sword, its blade made of fused sliver with gold.
Mido’s eyes brightened at the sight, his jaw dropped slightly as the blade shimmered before him.
“Now Mido, a great sword a great warrior does not make. However all great warriors carry with them a legendary weapon.” Link paused before he took Mido’s right hand and placed the hilt of the blade in it, “This is the Gilded sword! A legendary blade forged by the master blacksmiths of Termina. It was forged with the rare, and mystical gold dust! This is one of the blades I used to defeat Majora’s Mask!”
Mido eyed the blade in amazement, his ears reddened and his facial expression went from one of pure amazement to one of sincere confusion.
“It is the most awesome sword that I have ever seen. But…I don’t understand? Why are you showing it to me now?” Mido questioned.
Link smiled while patting Mido’s shoulder,
“Mido, I am not just showing you the blade. The blade is my parting gift to you. I have not much left to teach you…” Link paused for a second as he knew he was lying, but what else could he do? Just like he did when he left his tree house Link felt deep in his heart that he would never see Mido again. “You are already a worthy Kokiri Warrior, worthy of song and tale!” Link paused again. Perhaps he was over doing it, after all as far as he knew there had never been a Kokiri Warrior other than himself, and Mido had yet to do a great deed, but the boy seemed excited enough at this point for Link not to feel too bad about leaving.
“Indeed! After all I AM the GREAT MIDO!” Mido exclaimed before bursting in self confident laughter.
“That’s our Mido! So you see, with this sword I expect you to keep everyone in the village safe, especially Saria. Until I return everything is in your hands my freckled friend.” Link finalized.
There was a solemn moment between the two. Mido broke the silence when out of nowhere he hugged Link. Link was taken aback in surprise as tough, and arrogant Mido had a golden heart but he rarely showed it.
“I am sorry.”
“Sorry for what?” Link replied.
“For how I treated you.”
“Ah…we were kids…we are brothers. Brothers fight sometimes.”
“I know. Thank you.” Mido said.
That had been out of character coming from Mido, but perhaps he also felt that this would be their final goodbye. Saria had been very clear about never meeting again the night before. Link at first thought she was exaggerating but now he wasn’t so sure.
“Well I guess I got to go Mido. Remember take care of everyone. This is your duty as a legendary Kokiri Warrior!” Link exclaimed almost like a captain would order his troops.
Mido stood up right his face brightening again, as he twirled his new sword.
“I, the GREAT MIDO Will not fail you Link. I will keep the Kokiri and the The Great Deku Tree safe!” Mido finalized.
Link shook his hand, smiled, and patted his head before resuming towards the village’s entrance. As he walked he felt an urge to speak to the Great Deku Tree but thought the better of it. The tree had a way of spoiling future events, and Link was beginning to think that maybe the Tree had foretold his death to Saria. It seemed like the only plausible explanation for him leaving the forest destined to never return.
Knowing the future, the time of one’s death is a scary thing. Perhaps the greatest gift the goddesses gave to mortal beings was the total oblivious and unpredictable nature of their death. Link wasn’t about to spoil this gift for himself just yet.
As he made his way to the wooden bridge that connected the village to the outer forest Link could spot Saria in the distance. She was in the same spot she had been standing in the first time he left the forest. Oh! What wondrous time that had been!
Link had been a child of ten winters then. The excitement of leaving the forest was magical. The outer world seemed alien and completely fantastical to him at the time. He felt sorry that the other children couldn’t leave. They would forever miss the wondrous sights Hyrule had to offer.
I guess I should feel blessed for that Link thought reminiscing on how his life had differed from the other Kokiri Children.
As he approached Saria he couldn’t help but to smile at her. It wasn’t a happy smile, it was a smile rooted in acceptance. He had come to accept the fact that he had to leave…though he still wasn’t sure why.
“Saria…” Link greeted stopping right in front of her.
“Link…” Saria replied.
There was a silence between them broken only by the faint sounds of falling snow flakes.
“I guess … I am leaving. Never to see you again?” Link questioned looking straight into Saria’s blue eyes.
“I am…not sure. But I feel that…I feel that it is…yeah. This is good bye.”
“Yeah. I am a Hylian. I guess I don’t belong here.” Link conceded remembering what Saria had said.
“I didn’t mean that…It was wrong of me to say that. These woods will forever be your home. I just…you wouldn’t understand.” Saria exclaimed distressed as she embraced Link.
“Did…did the Great Deku say something? Like something about me or something?” Link asked.
“Well…there is a shadow that approaches our land.” Saria pulled back for a moment in order to stare at Link’s eyes directly with a serious worried expression on her face. “It comes from the West.”
“Why didn’t he summon me? If you hadn’t told me just now, I wouldn’t have known about it.” Link said in disappointment.
“You are not the Great Deku’s responsibility any longer. He can’t just tell you what to do. I chose to tell you, because I feel that it is inevitable that you will be drawn into this conflict.” Saria caressed Link’s cheek before continuing, “Princess Zelda will come for you, and you will have to decide whether to go with her or stay at the Ranch.”
“And? And then what?” Link asked puzzled at the strange prophecy.
“My vision ends there….I had been having that dream for weeks…then the Great Deku Tree told me about the shadow from the West. I have nothing else to say beyond that.” Saria replied then lowered her head, “At least in regards to your destiny.”
“So this is why I have to leave …”
“No. You have to leave because I want…no…I need you to.”
Saria walked away from Link briefly then turned around teary eyed. Link couldn’t tell if she was angry, scared, or both.
“You didn’t have to know this. It isn’t your concern. We were created long before you …just for you. To wait for you. Now your mission is done. We were to remain for all eternity in the forest as children. The Great Deku Tree took a liking to us and our fairies but …then this happened. He just told me we had to…stop being, as in giving up our humanity in order to survive. Just out of the blue!” Saria had screamed that last word out in frustration.
Link was taken aback by Saria’s frantic reaction. The always sweet, and soft spoken girl he knew was now angry and scared.
“I..” Link was cut shot before Saria exploded in another out burst.
“I want to do the right thing, the Tree showed me a vision of what was to come…everyone dies, slaughtered…I…the things they will do to us! But I hesitate, and I feel it is unfair. It is unfair to stop living. It is unfair that I can never see you again.”
This time Saria fell to her knees on the cold snow. Link got closer and embraced her softly. Saria broke down in tears inconsolably as Link held her in his arms.
“I will defend you. I will protect the forest.” Link said reassuringly.
“You can’t fight an army and hope to win. This isn’t about you. This is about the Kokiri. We have lived as we are long enough.” Saria answered in a softer tone.
“I can’t just walk away knowing this.” Link shook his head, “I will face what ever is coming with you!”
Saria’s eyes flared up again and she loosened herself from Link’s embrace while pushing him away,
“I want you far away! You need to start walking away from this forest, and you must never look back so that I never look back straying from my path. You and I will be the death of everyone if you don’t leave now.” Saria put her hand on her chest in an attempt to calm herself before she called for Aryl.
“But-” Link objected before being cut off by Saria,
“Aryl will remain by your side and you will leave us be…please…” Saria’s eyes watered up again, “please, I am conflicted about The Great Deku’s decision as it is. My attachment to you served us well against Ganondorf. But it is unhealthy. I am a magical being bound by powers beyond your comprehension, and even mine. You are a mortal bound by the passage of time, and death.”
Link shook his head and sighed. He didn’t know what to say mainly because he had a lot to say. The Kokiri were his life. He had been bound to them since his moribund mother sought shelter in the woods, and left him in the care of the Great Tree. If the Kokiri faced extinction, so should he. Then again he wasn’t a Kokiri by birth or blood.
“I don’t understand…all I want is to help.” Link said.
Aryl arrived at Link’s side but strangely remained silent.
“Then go. I have to prepare the Kokiri to accept this change…we have been human for so long that we have lost track of the centuries. I have to convince the rest of moving on. But I can’t do this …If I am still attached to you.” Saria said her voice full of sadness.
Link walked up to her and embraced her one final time, he squeezed her harder than ever before.
“I already lost you before…when you turned in to a sage. As long as you are safe…I can live with parting with you.” Link choked on his own words as he struggled with holding back his tears before continuing, “I love you…you will never know how much, you were everything to me for so long. I guess what I am trying to say is that you will always be with me…my only family.” Link finalized before letting her go and resuming towards the forest entrance.
Saria silently nodded to Aryl who proceeded to follow Link. Saria turned to watch Link go.
“And you with me …” Saria whispered. They would never meet again.
Hyrule Castle (present)
Zelda eyed cautiously the new visitors from her throne as Nabooru, and her two guard companions walked down a carpeted aisle towards her father in the throne room.
Nabooru was slender, and yet voluptuous and impossibly shredded all at once. Her Gerudo garbs left little to the imagination as most of her olive skin was exposed for everyone to see. Zelda admired how she could look so dashingly beautiful and deadly all at once.
“Greetings King Hyrule! I heard about a proposition that I wouldn’t turn down…and propositions so good that I can’t turn down greatly excite me. So kindly propose.” Nabooru firmly stated in a strange almost alien accent to Zelda.
“I see…Straight to the point.” The King gestured for his servants to bring out chairs and refreshments for his guests before continuing, “Beautiful Nabooru, I called you here to grant you a sizeable piece of Land in exchange for some services.”
“Umm what services do you have in mind?” Nabooru teased.
Zelda saw the King’s cheeks turn red and even General Stonard seemed uneasy at the sight of the Gerudo woman.
“Protection services. You see there have been reports of strange happenings-” King Hyrule was cut off by Nabooru who finished his sentence to everyone’s astonishment “in the North West Hebra region.”
Nabooru stood up from her chair, and took a jug of wine, and a large mug serving herself to her heart’s content.
“This land offering of yours better be better than what you were going to offer me when you invited me here.” Nabooru said in a serious no nonsense tone.
“The situation is that serious?” King Hyrule inquired.
“Well. As you know I have scouts everywhere. It is imperative, the Gerudo have traditionally done this.” Before she finished what she was about to say General Stonard felt the urge to add a few of his choice words,
“Indeed! Scouts in order to steal and murder!”
“General!” The King reprimanded.
“The old grouch is right though.” Nabooru replied with a smirk, “We are thieves among other things, but since I took over at least the Gerudos loyal to me have stopped the murdering part. Either way, I sent two scouts to the north west. They never came back.”
Zelda and her father eyed each other turning their attention back to the Gerudo queen. Her tale was beginning to resemble their own account of their missing soldiers.
“So I sent two more. They never returned. At that point I headed a party of my finest warriors and we found our scouts or at least parts of them chopped off and spread all over the snow.” Nabooru’s yellow eyes betrayed her anger as she recalled the events.
“Normally,” She resumed “ I would blame a deed like that to some sick individuals who ambushed my girls. But the second party I sent were part of my elite guards. I would pit any one of them against five of your best men and your men would be returned to you in coffins.”
General Stonard let out an incredulous laugh at her statement. But Nabooru didn’t change her serious expression. Zelda could tell that she hadn’t made that comment to boast. She had said it in order to illustrate the seriousness of the situation.
“We are dealing with something very dangerous here gentlemen, and if you brought me here to engage whoever did this to my women and your men. And yes, I did hear reports of your patrols gone missing. I really hope that you will make it worth my while.” Nabooru finished.
“Well I am offering you the sole ownership of all the Canyon lands… including the Arbiter’s Grounds. The new Border would be drawn at Mount Hylia. All of this in exchange of you and your guard to remain at the castle watching over us until Impa returns from her quest to the Hebran border.” The King offered seemly pleased with himself.
Nabooru filled her mug with wine once more, and took generous gulp from it before replying,
“If you made me come all the way here for this pitiful offering… then you have greatly wasted my time and I expect to be compensated for my troubles.” Nabooru exclaimed in anger.
Zelda felt puzzled, she had felt the land offering had been more than generous.
“I don’t understand Nabooru. You have been given nearly all, if not all of the canyon lands to the South West.” Zelda asked.
“What a beautiful woman you have become princess. I have heard tales of your wisdom, but it seems you lack knowledge in the dirty trappings of politics and war.” Nabooru replied.
“Enlighten us then! You ungrateful woman!” General Stonard cut in.
“I kindly advise your general to keep his thoughts to himself. I am not in the mood to entertain jesters today.” Nabooru said with a menacing glance directed at the general.
“No one more word from you Stonard.” The King commanded prompting Stonard’s thick visage to turn red in both anger and embarrassment.
“I am being offered lands that my people already occupy. The Princess herself has been witness to this in her constant travels to the grounds. My people live and trade in the place with your soldiers.” Nabooru paused to take another gulp from the mug, “Hylians have never had any interest in settling in those lands, because they can’t farm or grow crops and the living conditions are harsh. You are basically offering me nothing. What’s more, I would actually be making you and your people a favor by accepting such a generous gift.”
Zelda eyed both her father and the Gerudo warrior queen stunned in disbelief with little grasp of the situation.
“How are we benefitting from this move?” Zelda questioned.
Nabooru sighed and smiled she seemed truly stunned by Zelda’s naïve nature.
“By accepting these lands you will remove your military presence in the area. Allowing you to amass your forces in central Hyrule just in time to prepare for the upcoming war. My people would be left to defend the Canyon routes from the mysterious Hebran invaders. Your father, Princess, plans for my people to be his first line of defense.” Nabooru finished.
Zelda was stung by her words and the realization that both Stonard, and Her Father had plotted against the well being of the Gerudo all along, and she had gone along with the plan totally oblivious. Impa had been right about many things it seems. Her father wasn’t a great ruler.
As she pondered on the new found revelations, Nabooru stood up from her chair, tossed the mug and empty wine jug aside directing her gaze at her Father once more.
“I will propose now an offer that you will have to accept. You will keep moving your little border further east granting us vast Faron green lands. Otherwise I will decline your original offer and when the Hebran threat decides to make its way down Hyrule, we will stand idly aside, and we will let them pass unhindered and unopposed into Hyrule. You will have no prior warning, and who knows? Maybe they will offer me a better land deal than you. Do not think that I am not willing to deal with them because of what they did to my scouts. I am here dealing with you now after centuries of your people murdering mine. I will retreat now to my accommodations. You have until morning to make a decision.” Nabooru turned to Zelda, “It has been a pleasure to meet you, Princess. It seems that you are the only noble spirit in this room.” Nobooru finished signaling her companions to follow her as she exited the throne room, leaving Zelda, the King, and Stonard alone in the room.
“The audacity to come in here demanding favorable terms!” Stonard broke the silence.
“Indeed. It seems our young vixen is smarter than we thought.” King Hyrule added.
“The audacity….the audacity to trick them into defending the western borders for nothing! Why wasn’t I told!” Zelda demanded angrily.
“Zelda! Reign yourself! This is how politics work. My duty is to save Hylian lives. If the Gerudo battle the Hebran threat before they ever get to our main lands it would be highly beneficial to us.” The King explained.
Zelda couldn’t believe her ears, her father was willing to sacrifice the Gerudo without a second thought, as if they were animals.
“I can’t believe this. They are our allies. You are even asking their queen to protect us from assassins but you have no qualms about her people dying in our stead.” Zelda said.
“The Gerudo are born warriors…they like to fight and they like to steal things. They are criminals. Hyrule would be better off without them to be honest.” Stonard added.
Zelda stood up from her throne and walked towards Stonard. Once in front of him she slapped the man across the face. She slapped him so hard that her entire arm throbbed in a jolt of pain. So hard that Stonard stumbled into the ground. So hard her father jumped up from his own throne in astonishment.
“Zelda! The Goddesses be damned! What in blazes!?” The King yelled as Zelda was already on the way out of the room.
“Perhaps Hyrule would be better off without men like you.” She stated before exiting.
* * *
Hyrule Field (present)
“You have been extremely quiet since we left the forest. So unlike you Aryl…so unfairy like.” Link protested as he made his way through the untouched white blanket of snow covering miles upon miles of Hyrule’s field.
“You haven’t been much talkative either…” Aryl replied.
“Well, I am tired of listening to my own thoughts. What do you know about Saria’s duty to the Kokiri?”
“Less than you…all she said to me was that they had to return to the Tree…because their mission was over.” Aryl replied before adding, “I should be returning to a Great Fairy myself.”
“Why haven’t you?” Link asked.
“Because Saria made me promise her that I would watch over you.”
“You make it sound as if it was a bad thing.” Link stated sarcastically.
“It is. I am tired Link.”
“I thought fairies couldn’t really get tired.”
“Spiritually yes. I just said goodbye forever to a person that I had accompanied for centuries. If you think you are hurting for Saria…I am feeling a hundred times worse.” Aryl finalized.
A silence took over both of them for what seemed like hours. Until Link decided to speak again.
“We will return to the Forest…someday…”
“We will find nothing if we do.” Aryl said sounding defeated.
“Yeah…that might be so. But the Tree will still be there and at least he can tell us…well he can tell us something.”
“I am sorry about the way that I am treating you. I am just sad and angry. My spirits will improve in time. I hope.” Aryl said.
Link nodded and smiled. Everything that had happened between the night before and their current situation seemed surreal. One moment he was returning home from an arduous mission, and the next; they were on their way to the ranch after losing their home and everything that they had known to be home in their entire lives.
He still didn’t want to accept that he would never see Saria again. But his thoughts now turned to the Ranch and Malon. It had been two years since he had last seen Malon. She was the same age now that she had been when he first traveled to the future 7 winters prior.
“I think Malon must hate me.” Link blurted out.
“The horse girl? Why would she?” Aryl replied.
“Well I have a knack for disappearing when she least expects it for two years at a time.”
“Well your absences have all been justified, have they not?” Aryl reassured.
“Maybe.” Link replied not convinced.
“Well that’s a bridge you will cross when you actually get to it.”
“It will be soon.” Link paused to look at his surroundings and at the sun, “We are making good time, we might get there by nightfall.”
* * *
Hyrule Castle (present)
Impa rubbed her chin as she pondered what Nabooru had demanded from the King. She had been away during the reunion planning their mission to the Hebran border. As always the King sought her counsel, Stonard was too much of a prejudiced man to take his advice into consideration when it came to dealings with the other Races of Hyrule.
“You are going to have to cede those lands to the girl. She is not a fool. The big problem that we have is that we have no idea if the Hebran issue is the work of a few members of a Sheika cult or a small army… for that matter a mid sized army. We just don’t know what we are dealing with.” Impa stated warily before resuming, “So we might as well treat our only allies out west properly.”
The King sat on his throne with a flustered expression. His ultimate goal was to expand his Kingdom, not to do the opposite.
“There are peasants in the region who fought for us during the Civil War. They have formed farming communities in that area, most notably Ordona. I granted them their land,” the King explained.
“The Gerudo under Nabooru haven’t shown aggressive behaviors towards our men in the Nephra area. There have been no reports of thievery either. They are civilized. Ordona is further east near the woods, and from what you told me Nabooru requested the green areas closer to the Canyon. It seems like they will have little to no contact with our farmers in that region unless it is for trade or procreation. The Gerudo do need men after all.” Impa finalized.
“Stonard will not approve of this.” King Hyrule cautioned.
Impa smiled, giving the King a curious look. Stonard’s military advice was appreciated, but he never had the last word on any discussion.
“Stonard is not King. All that matters is that you say yes, or no to her demands your Majesty.” Impa replied.
“Go inform the vixen of my decision. Tell her that I will grant her the lands…but she must respect the rights and the ownership of land of the peasants already there. In turn I expect her and her army to serve as our first line of defense against any threat from beyond the Hebran border, and also the security services of the castle are her responsibility until you return from your mission.” King Hyrule finalized.
Impa bowed and exited the Throne room. She had much on her mind. She had spent the day selecting candidates and preparing supplies for their long and perilous journey in Hebra. More than preparations, her greatest concern was the prospect of having to face the Betrayed. Her people: the Sheikah.
The Sheikah were warriors well versed in magic and technology. Both of those went hand in hand. Impa came from a long line of Royal protectors. She was one of their best warriors or at least she liked to think herself as one. No man in Hyrule could match her…well no man except Link…maybe. But this could change once they meet with the Hebran Assassins.
As she walked towards Nabooru’s room, Zelda called out to her.
“Impa! Did you just talk to my father?” The young princess asked.
“Yes. I am on my way to deliver a message to Nabooru.” Impa replied.
“Did you know that they were trying to trick them?”
“Trick who?” Impa asked.
“The Gerudo! The land offering was a ruse!” Zelda angrily exclaimed.
“This is how negotiations work princess. Your father and well…his counselors, we were trying to get the upper hand. Nabooru showed she is a worthy leader and asked for better terms.” Impa explained.
“But that’s awful. They are our allies!”
“Not too long ago they were our enemies. But don’t be too distressed about this. Your father has agreed to Nabooru’s demands.” Impa finalized as they reach the Gerudo’s room.
With a few gentle knocks on the door one of Nabooru’s Gerudo guards opened it.
“We are here to speak with your queen.” Impa politely notified.
The Gerudo woman looked back into the room nodded and turned her attention back at Impa.
“You may come in.” The Gerudo woman replied.
“Ah, the Great Impa! What a sight! What a stunning sight indeed! What I would give for you to join my clan!” Nabooru greeted.
“Nabooru I am glad you accepted our invitation to come.” Impa responded.
“I will be glad too, if my terms have been met.”
Impa nodded and smiled pulling out a royal parchment.
“This is a parchment granting you the Lands beyond Mount Hylia. You will get 50 square miles of green land to do as you wish. We have Hylians living east of your lands in Ordona. We ask that you do not interfere with them negatively as those lands belong to them.” Impa explained.
“We have no quarrel with your people, provided that they leave us to our own devices.” Nabooru said in agreement.
“The King expects you to defend our land from the West in case of any attack that might come, beginning with the Hebran threat.”
“No.” Nabooru calmly replied.
“What?” Impa questioned she could see Zelda stirring nervously beside her.
“Tell your king that I request a thousand men at least to do what you ask. All I have is 500 women at the fortress.” Nabooru replied.
Impa wasn’t surprised by the girl’s reaction. The Gerudo weren’t numerous. They weren’t much good in conventional head to head combat, though they could decimate an Army 3 or 4 times their size utilizing the canyon to their advantage. Nabooru however was right about their numbers being a liability in the defense of the area.
“Once I return from my scouting mission we can fine tune that request because I will have an idea of the size of the force that lurks in Hebra.” Impa said, trying to convince the Gerudo Queen.
“No. What if you don’t return? We won’t know the size of the force and I won’t have my one thousand Hylian men. I won’t send my women into their deaths like this. What good is land if there is no one to live in it?” Nabooru replied.
“She is right.” Zelda agreed, “That’s a Royal Parchment and I am a Princess I will sign the parchment granting you one thousand five hundred troops as amends for how my father, and Stonard, treated you earlier.”
Nabooru smiled, pleased, but Impa was a bit disappointed at Zelda’s imprudence. The girl had just contradicted her father again, but this time in a consequential decision.
“It will be my pleasure to keep you safe while Impa is gone Princess. Clearly you are the Queen that Hyrule needs.” Nabooru stated.
“If that is all we will take our leave.” Impa finalized.
“I do have one more matter that I wish to ask about.” Nabooru interrupted Impa and Zelda before they were about to make their way out of the room.
“Where is Link? He is your greatest warrior, why isn’t he with you here?” Nabooru asked with a curious look in her fiery yellow pupils.
“What business have you with him?” Zelda asked her cheeks reddening.
“None. But I owe him a BIG favor, and now that he is grown I wish to repay him.” Nabooru explained teasingly.
“Re-repay him?” Zelda asked nervously seemly bothered by Nabooru’s statement.
“Hmm interesting…either way if you know of his whereabouts please let him know that Nabooru wants to see him.” Nabooru finalized taking a good look at Zelda before turning her attention to Impa, “You may take your leave my friends. A pleasure doing business with you.”
Manzyl had been riding for two days and nearly two nights almost non stop. His trek had begun in Castle Town with the order of delivering a letter written by Impa herself directly into the hands of the highest ranking officer at Hyrule’s small stone fort located at the Hebran border.
Manzyl considered himself a talented soldier, not top of his class but certainly better deserving of some of the positions his other peers had achieved in the army.
Being an errand boy wasn’t all that bad, he still got to wear the full uniform minus the heavy set armor, and he was given one of the fastest horses in the land. But his pay was miserable in comparison to the infantry men whose pay was already dismal.
He also disliked traveling in the cold, and snowy weather. Hebra wasn’t the place to stick around for long if you preferred warmer climates, he was hoping to deliver the message, rest for a night or two, and then to be sent on his way back to civilization in Hyrule.
Manzyl felt a tinge of relief when he finally saw the walled stone structure from a distance. As he approached the gates he slowed his horse to a soft gallop awaiting for the guards to command him to stop. To his surprise he galloped past the gates and into the stables unhindered.
“Lazy bums! Stonard leaves for a few days and the night shift is either asleep or playing games inside the Fortress.” Manzyl said to no one in particular as he dismounted his horse.
Gambling and drinking were Hyrule’s soldiers favorite past time, especially when left with out superiors to control their vices for any given amount of time.
What got Manzyl’s attention was the absolute silence that reigned supreme outside of the fortress. He would usually hear the men shouting and cursing well before reaching the stables.
He wasn’t told the details of the mission; in fact he was told not to open the letter contacting the message before it was handed to the highest ranking officer at the fort. However he was authorized to read the message and to burn the letter afterwards if he felt threatened or that the situation merited doing so. He had learned about the possibility of assassins perpetrating attacks against Hyrule’s forces stationed in Hebra.
Manzyl pulled the letter out, broke the royal seal and read it:
“Reinforcements will arrive soon, notify to messenger any changes in the situation.” The letter read. Manzyl wasn’t about to start a fire, instead he shredded the letter into small unreadable bits.
His gut feeling told him to get back on the horse and to bolt out of the place as fast as his steed could carry him. However what was he going to report to Impa and General Stonard upon his return? That the fort was silent so he got cold feet, destroyed the message and tucked tail? He would surely be put in a dungeon shortly afterwards. He had no choice but to investigate further.
As he entered the main structure in the fort he noticed that apart from the absolute silence, the building was cold and dark. No fires had been lit recently, which was a bad sign; Hebra during winters was deadly chilly, a place without fire was a place without people.
Manzyl unsheathed his sword, expecting an attacker to come at him from the shadows, but silence reigned supreme and no one attacked.
He explored the first and second floors of the fort, finding turned tables, broken pottery and a few weapons laying around.
“A struggle took place here.” Manzyl reflected.
He stopped his search when he spotted huge frozen blood puddles on the ground and remnants of blood splattered on the walls. There was no point in investigating further, the soldiers had disappeared and in their place blood remained.
Manzyl rushed out of the fort and into the stables. He kept looking over his shoulder and was very attentive to his surroundings but it was too dark to see much beyond a few meters. Once on his horse he galloped as fast as he could away from what had become a cold Hylian tomb.
“Once my serving term is over I am quitting this crap. Become a smith or a farmer…anything is better than this.” Manzyl barely finished talking to himself when he heard a whistling noise in the wind almost in unison with a sharp stinging stab on his chest that knocked him off the horse and into the ground.
The fall knocked the wind out of his lungs, but the arrow that pierced him was his main concern as he pulled it out of his chest in agonizing pain.
The shooter was out there probably taking aim at him for the kill shot. He rolled around trying to search for cover but the nearest tree was about 20 meters away and he was too hurt to make a sprint for it.
It came as a shock to him when no arrows came, and a tall lean figure distinguished itself from the darkness making a calm approach towards him.
“You! What do you want from me?” Manzyl asked recognizing that the man approaching him was no Hylian soldier. He couldn’t recognize the man’s uniform.
The man also had a strange set of red eyes, and a smirk that made Manzyl’s spine shiver.
“From you I want nothing. For you are nothing to me. I will not give you the pleasure of dying by my hand.” The mysterious man said in a deep voice.
Manzyl felt relieved at hearing that the man wouldn’t kill him. He was almost afraid to ask if he could just go on his way as he feared a negative answer but he asked anyway:
“So am I free to go?”
The man didn’t flinch at the question he just turned away from Manzyl and walked back to the direction he had come from.
“You are free to go. To the next life.” The man said signaling with his hand towards someone hidden in the darkness.
An arrow pierced Manzyl’s neck, causing him to drop his sword as he frantically tried to reach for it making gurgling noises as he collapsed on the ground choking on his own blood. Manzyl couldn’t have imagined a worse ending to his life.
The last words he would hear would be the red eyed man’s chilling command to a person he assumed was his killer.
“Cut off his head, and set it on a spike right at the gates. I want them to see.”