Finally. Three days had passed. The time had come.
As he rode across the wide, open plains outside the walls of Hyrule Castle New City, Ganondorf snickered loudly to himself. The night in which he found much of his solitude would be good to him tonight; distant storm clouds were shielding the bright rays of the glistening moon from the world, making this night a perfect night for the attack, indeed. But what was even more splendid was they would arrive in time to witness his complete takeover of the throne of Hyrule. The sound of thunder would declare his rule, and the lightning would proclaim his power.
It was going to be glorious…
He already had everything planned out. He will rendezvous with his Gerudo soldiers and lead them to the protecting wall of the city, where he will demonstrate just how protecting it really was. Then he will show how safe the walls around the palace really were, and with all his soldiers inside the attack will begin. He had already given the thankful guards some Gerudo whiskey for the evening, so they will be as dangerous as a crippled mule, and the palace will be easy enough for him to capture it alone.
With the palace in his grasp, he will then bring the detained Royal Family before him, where he had some special plans for them. Of course, he had to find the ocarina first, and since that little witch had it, what else could he do but torture her weakling of a father to coax it from her? She will cave in; she tried to look strong to intimidate him, but she was nothing more than a weak and fainthearted fool. And once she gives him the ocarina…well, he won’t have any other use for them, now will he?
A laugh escaped from his cruelly curled mouth as he pressed forward into the night, towards the camp of his Gerudo warriors. As he cackled like an animal ready to sadistically slaughter its prey, a distant thunder roll echoed across the plains…
“Ouch, that was a loud one,” Link cried as he raised his hands to his ears to contain the effects of the piercing thunder roll from doing more damage to his hearing. The rumble also affected Navi, although all she did was quiver as she hovered over Link’s shoulder. She wasn’t necessarily afraid of thunder, but she wasn’t ready to trust it, either.
“It’s quite a storm tonight, isn’t it?” Navi asked. “The clouds have already blocked out the moon, and it’s quite difficult to see anything. Hyrule Castle New City might as well have passed us by now.”
“Maybe,” Link admitted as he removed his hands from his ears, “but I’m sure we haven’t yet. In fact, I’m willing to bet we’re almost there.”
“Oh, and why’s that?”
“Well, it’s these trees.” Link then pointed to several sporadically positioned, sickly-looking trees dotted across the landscape. “I remember seeing these things upon our first approach to the city, and I don’t remember seeing them anywhere else. Why, I don’t know. But they seem to only grow in the region near the castle.”
“Understandable,” Navi admitted, “but you fail to mention how large that region is. We may as well be on the other side of that region, far away from the everything civilized, including the castle…”
“But King Zora specifically said that Zora’s River will take us directly to the Hyrule Castle New City. After what we did, I don’t think he would lie to us.”
Navi seemed to grimace. “Fine, whatever. I think I’ll just lie down until we get there. If you see the city, wake me up.”
Before Link had a chance to agree, Navi quickly slipped underneath his hat. Sighing, Link planted his back firmly on the raft and placed his hands behind his head. The wooden craft wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world to sit on, and it didn’t provide enough comfort for lying down either. Still, he didn’t want to waste any time stopping for a relaxing break; he wanted to reach Princess Zelda quickly so he could finish this quest and go home.
Speaking of which…
Link reached with one of his hands to feel Saria’s ocarina in his pouch. He hadn’t “spoken” to her for a long time, ever since they had entered Zora’s Domain. He had had plenty of opportunities during his three-day trip downriver, and yet he hadn’t taken any of them. Maybe he should speak to her now, and tell her he was nearly home…
No, not now. It was a little late, and although Saria said he could contact her anytime, he didn’t want to wake her up at this hour. And besides, maybe he should keep it a surprise. Maybe he should contact her when he was just entering the Lost Woods, and then startle her as she was talking to him with the ocarina. It would make a fabulous surprise return…
Actually, he wasn’t that kind of person. Still, something told him to hold off speaking to Saria for the time being. Now didn’t feel right; he decided to talk to her after giving Princess Zelda the Spiritual Stones and saying his goodbyes. Yes, he wasn’t going to stick around when Zelda goes uses the stones to get the Triforce…
“I guess I’ve lost interest in the Triforce,” he muttered softly. “Actually, I’ve never been that interested in it to begin with. Sure, it sounds interesting, but it was never a part of my life to begin with. Princess Zelda should be able to deal with it, as well as give Ganondorf what he deserves. I just wish I could give him what he deserves, for what he did to the Great Deku Tree…”
“Link,” Navi suddenly interrupted from underneath his hat. “You’re talking to yourself again…”
Perfect, perfect, perfect…
Everything was going according to plan. Everything was perfect…
Ganondorf snickered like a mischievous child that knew he had done something bad yet didn’t feel any guilt. He couldn’t believe it was this easy. He thought he might run against some kind of challenge, like guard patrols or casual eyewitnesses, but that wasn’t the case. There wasn’t even a stray dog anywhere in the streets; it was as if the Three Goddesses were blessing his actions with absolutely no resistance whatsoever!
As he watched his Gerudo soldiers enter the city limits through the opening he had created earlier in the wall, he couldn’t help but think of his double-crossing servants. The moment he had arrived at the camp, he found his Gerudo soldiers waiting for him, ready to take on the entire Hylian army alone. One of the guards mentioned that just three nights before, the second servant he had sent informed the camp that the first servant had escaped, run away. Ganondorf hadn’t been happy with that news; the first servant must’ve learned of his plans for her and had abandoned her Gerudo dignity to flee like the coward she was.
But what made his temper burn was the fact that the second servant hadn’t returned either, and no one at the camp had seen her since her report. The only possibility was that that wench had run away as well, maybe to join the first one in her cowardice. But it didn’t matter. Once he was the ruler of Hyrule, they would have no place to hide. And he would make sure they got the fitting punishment…
“My king,” a Gerudo suddenly whispered into his ear. “Everyone has entered the city limits. We await your instructions.”
Ganondorf snapped out of his trance and looked around. Sure enough, all of the Gerudo were assembled inside the limits of Hyrule Castle New City and were watching their king with eager eyes. The number of Gerudo present wasn’t a great deal – it was probably in the realm of fifty to seventy soldiers – but it would be more than enough to overcome the drunk guards at Hyrule Castle.
“Right,” Ganondorf laughed. “We will head down the back streets towards Hyrule Castle, where there is a perfect spot to get past the walls unnoticed and begin the attack. If you see anyone at all, make no attempt to silence them unless they see you. We do not want a battle fought outside the castle walls; that will give them an advantage…although, to be fair, they’ll probably need every advantage they can get.”
A muffled out audible chuckle broke out across the tiny sea of Gerudo women, but they quickly grew silent when they saw Ganondorf’s face grow serious. He kept this grim expression as he walked a short distance to his horse, which was being held by one of the Gerudo soldiers. Darkstorm knew when to remain calm and when to lash out at people, and he knew not to attack the Gerudo like he had attacked those stable boys. Ganondorf had taught him all too well…
“Follow me closely,” the Gerudo king ordered as he mounted his dark steed. “Anyone who lags behind will be punished. Now let’s move out.”
With a final nod, Ganondorf whipped Darkstorm’s neck with the reigns, causing the horse to shake his head furiously before trotting forward down the nearest back street. Behind him, the Gerudo soldiers trailed their king faithfully, but their footsteps were so muffled that he wouldn’t have realized they were there had he not already known. He snickered to himself as the structures of Hyrule Castle New City surrounded him and his guards, his mind wandering to his upcoming victory.
“Glorious,” he whispered. “Simply glorious…”
“Navi! Navi! Come out, quick! I see it!”
Link’s sudden and loud cry of excitement was enough to bring the fairy out from under the Kokiri’s hat and into the open. “What’s going on? What are you talking about? What do you see?”
“The castle! I can see the castle! Hyrule Castle! Look!”
Sure enough, in the gloominess of the night, dimly illuminated by the weak yet sufficient lights of the stars, was the towering structure known as Hyrule Castle. Because it sat on a hill, it was easy to spot the castle rising above the city that lay at its feet. Exact detail was impossible to perceive, but Link could still make out every tower, turret, parapet, and keep; it was like watching a very detailed shadow of something come to life. As if to show the two travelers that the structure was, indeed, Hyrule Castle, a great bolt of lightning cracked in the distance behind it, bathing the fortress in a sick, eerie light for a split second before allowing the building to disappear again in the blanket of night.
“Well, that’s great,” Navi uttered almost monotonously, although Link could tell by her flickering light that she was just as excited as he was. “Any idea how much longer until we get there?”
“I don’t know,” Link answered, “but judging by the way the river is winding, we should reach it in no time at all. The river does go all the way to the front door of the city, so we can just let the current take us there…”
Another, this time closer lightning bolt forked across the sky, interrupting Link with its commanding brother, thunder. Link nearly jumped back in surprise, but he quickly regained his composure and his breath.
“Boy, this is quite a storm tonight,” Link uttered, more to himself than to Navi.
“I’ll say,” the fay replied. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a storm like this before, almost as if it weren’t of this world…”
Just then, a small droplet of water splashed onto Navi’s wings. The fairy fluttered around unsteadily for a brief moment before she regained control over her flying. A little peeved, she looked up to the cloudy sky, just in time to allow another drop to fall onto her face.
“Oh, just perfect,” she muttered in frustration. “It’s starting to rain. I sure hope this trip doesn’t take that long, Link, because I…Link? Link?”
But Link wasn’t listening. He was too busy thinking about something, something he had seen many times before yet had never taken the time to really think about….
“Why…?” he thought uneasily as the rains started to fall a little harder and built into a solid curtain of water. “Why…does this feel so…familiar…?”
What a welcome ally!
As if in celebration of the Three Goddesses making everything go his way, Ganondorf spread his arms out and aimed his face to the sky, closing his eyes and opening his mouth as wide as he could to catch the rain on his slimy tongue. When he had collected enough water in his mouth, he swirled the liquid around in his cheeks for a moment before he spat them upon the cobbled ground at his feet. The swallowed water and spit merged with the clean rainwater as they trickled through the cracks of the stone floor of the castle courtyard.
Satisfied with that little ritual, Ganondorf turned his attention back to his Gerudo soldiers, which were right now scaling the castle walls using naturally growing creepers. It was almost too easy; how this kingdom has survived this long was a complete mystery to him. During their trek from the city walls to the castle walls, he and his soldiers had encountered no one, not even a lost drunk from a city tavern. Even the castle walls provided no threat; they hadn’t encountered a single patrol, and his lookouts standing on the wall right now didn’t seem to find any approaching.
Fate was either being extremely kind to him, or had a devastating plan in store for him…but Ganondorf was willing to bet he was being treated to the former. The Gerudo whiskey was too good to refuse and strong enough to turn a dragon into jelly, and the King of Hyrule was gullible enough to give his troops sick leave for being drunk.
It didn’t take long for all of his troops to scale the walls and assemble in the spacious courtyard. The rain was starting to plummet really hard right now, but no Gerudo’s face betrayed any kind of discomfort or anxiety. They were all ready to fight for their king, kill for their king, and die for their king…but with everything going his way, Ganondorf had a feeling not one of his soldiers was going to die this night.
Smirking, Ganondorf started to speak loudly; there was no point in remaining quiet any longer.
“Fellow Gerudo, our time has come! Hyrule is ours for the taking! The enemy will not put up much of a fight, so this will end quickly! And I assure you, once this is finished, the Gerudo will become the most powerful and mightiest race ever to rule this gods-forsaken land!”
The King of Thieves then grabbed his sword, withdrew it from his scabbard, and raised it high in the air. A lightning bolt cracked in the sky, showering the black blade and cruel king in an unholy light.
“Onward, for the glory of your king, the great and almighty Ganondorf! For the glory of the Gerudo! Attaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!”
The blast of thunder was so deafening it was very easy to tell that the lightning strike was very close, but Link found that out the hard way.
He didn’t see the actual lightning strike – by now the rains were blinding and the wind was strong enough to blow the rain sideways like a screen of insect stings - but he did see its consequences. A bright erupted ahead and to his left, which suggested the bolt had struck very close, indeed. The explosion flickered and crackled for a second before fizzling out like a blown-out candle, illuminating the surroundings for a brief moment. Still, he couldn’t see exactly what the bolt had hit because the rain was stinging his eyes.
But it didn’t take him long to find out. The first sign that things weren’t right was the loud creaking sound, like old wood being forced to move against its natural position. But what finally made Link realized what had happened was when a second, more distant lightning bolt lit up the silhouette of an enormous oak tree growing on the shore of the Zora’s River. It was very different from the sickly trees that were growing everywhere else, but that wasn’t what caught Link’s attention about it.
The tree was falling in the direction of the river, and it was going to land right on top of Link’s raft!
“Oh, noooooooo!” Link screamed.
“Link!” Navi’s tiny voice pierces the night like a frantic mother protecting her child. “Get out of there! Jump!”
But Link didn’t need Navi to tell him that. Without a second thought, Link turned around and jumped headfirst into the heaving river’s waves. The crash he created as he struck the surface of the water was only matched by the muffled out enormous thud the oak tree made as it slammed into the raft, tearing it apart with its ancient branches and scattering Link’s supplies in every conceivable direction.
Navi, who had managed to make it out of the way before Link could even see the tree, scanned the undulating surface of Zora’s River for any signs of Link. The wreckage of the raft was already drifting away with the current, leaving only a dark blue trail of water occasionally illuminated by more bolts of lightning.
“Link, where you?” the fey cried, unable to see any trace of the Kokiri. “Link! Link, are you there? Where are you? Link!”
“Link? Is that you?”
Kaepora Gaebora flinched when he thought he heard a tiny voice crying in the storm. It sounded too soft to be Link’s, but he was willing to believe anything right now.
The wound caused by the hunters in his wing had delayed him longer than he had wished. It was prone to bleeding without warning, and during those times the pain was enough to render his wing muscles useless. He had stopped to relax the pain too often, allowing too much time to slip by. To make up for time, he had forgone both eating and sleep, and already he felt as if he was going to drop dead any moment.
But he had to push on; if he didn’t, the princess was going to die at the hands of Ganondorf, which he will not allow. By the sacred oaths he took before becoming an Owl, he will not allow such a thing to happen. If that voice in the storm really was Link, Kaepora had to leave him be for now. As much as he wanted to find the young Mage-Bound again, he had a much more important job to do.
“Curses, Link! Why did you have to be a Magi-Con? Why?”
Keapora didn’t know long or how many times he had thought that; he had already lost count…
“Too easy! This is just too easy!”
Those words echoed in Ganondorf’s mind like his heavy footsteps in the palace hallways and whistled through his ears like the air brushing past his sword. Behind him were five other Gerudo, their weapons raised high as they made sure their king was safe from any possible surprise attack.
As he turned around a corner, Ganondorf thought of how little resistance his attack was encountering. He had expected to come across guards during his strolls through these hallways, drunk or no, but so far the only thing he had stumbled upon was a giant rat that had disappeared behind some barrels upon his arrival. He couldn’t explain why attacking Hyrule Castle was this easy, but he coolly guessed it was because the king had grown too trusting during years of peace and harmony.
Well, he was personally seeing to that, now was he?
He wasn’t sure if his other squadrons were encountering the same level of “resistance” as he was, but it didn’t matter. All they had to do was keep the rest of the castle, however many troops that meant, busy while he made his way to the king’s quarters and captured the kingdom of Hyrule without breaking a sweat. The plan must be working so far; why else was it this easy…?
It didn’t take him long to find the king’s bedroom; he had found it in his spare time during his searches for the Ocarina of Time. But now that he knew where the ocarina was, he knew exactly how to get it. And the way to get it was lying right behind the heavy oak door that Ganondorf was standing before, the door adorned with golden hinges and handle and surrounded by a brilliant frame pained bright red. Ganondorf had assumed there would be at least two guards standing here, but he found none waiting for him.
“Heh. Probably got off because they’re as drunk as a Gerudo whore on New Moon’s Night. Pity they’re not here…so they can’t taste the steel of my sword!”
“You!” Ganondorf ordered as he pointed to two Gerudo behind him. “Break this door down! Now!”
The two soldiers complied by nodding once before pushing their way past their king to get to the door. They looked at each other for a brief moment before taking two deep breaths and then, as if connected by a kind of psychic link, lifted their legs into the air and kicked the door with all their might. The door rattled violently, but it remained firmly in place. Undeterred, the two again synchronized their movements as they give the door yet another swift kick. This time, there was a loud clang as the bolt from the other side of the door gave way and the door flew open like a piece of driftwood upon a lake in a violent storm, splinters and chunks flying in every direction.
The room on the other side of the door was dark inside, as expected – the king was sleeping, after all. But this didn’t discourage Ganondorf in the least; he simply smirked at the destruction of the door as if he himself had performed the feat and then stepped inside, instructing the remaining three Gerudo to follow him inside.
As he stepped inside, a lightning bolt flashed outside, sprinkling its bright light through the curtains and illuminating the room just enough for the dark prince to see the room’s layout. And that one flash was enough for Ganondorf to find the king’s bed, which was positioned at the very end of the room, right up against the wall. The burst of light was enough for Ganondorf to see the actual king, his tall body strewn underneath the velvety blankets and his head hidden by the enormous silk pillow.
Ganondorf laughed, this time loud enough for anyone in the room to hear him. “This is why you’re not fit to rule this kingdom, you pathetic fool!”
He then motioned for his soldiers to remain where they were before beginning his stride across the room towards the bed. “How you have keep your crown,” he continued with a sneer, “will forever remain a mystery. But it will be no mystery as to how you lose that crown. You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do this. Ever since I met you…no, before I met you, I wanted to wring your neck and make you beg for mercy. But I’ll refrain from doing that, at least until I get what I want for your precious daughter!”
He ended with a cruel snicker and moments later stopped directly next to the lavish bed, within arm’s length of the sleeping ruler. Ganondorf hadn’t seen any kind of response from the king, but that was most likely because the king was a heavy sleeper. Well, the King of Thieves was going to give this king a rude awakening…
Just then, another bolt of lightning lit up the room, and Ganondorf stopped his speech cold. His eyes widened in surprise and worry when he saw what was lying on the king’s enormous pillow…actually, it was more along the line of what wasn’t lying on the pillow.
Nothing. There was nothing lying in the plush pillow’s indentation. But, then what was…?
“What in the name of the Three Goddesses is going on?”
Without a second thought, Ganondorf raised his sword above his head and released a loud growl before bringing the blade down on the “body” of the king as hard as he could. The massive sliced through the furry covers with ease, and pierced whatever was underneath them just as easily…
“Feathers? It can’t be…!”
But it was. Ganondorf was spellbound for a brief moment by the small flurry of feathers that fluttered when his sword struck whatever was under the bed, and when he snapped out of the trance he quickly reached for the edge of the covers and threw them off the bed. Just as he had feared, there were feather-pillows under the bed, positioned in such a way to replicate a reclining body.
And there was only one reason why the king would do such a thing…
“But that’s impossible!” Ganondorf cried. “It’s just not possible…!”
“But it is.”
When Ganondorf heard that voice, his heart skipped a beat. He had heard that voice before, but he couldn’t remember where or to whom it belonged. It wasn’t any of his Gerudo; they had hardly spoken since the beginning of the invasion. Who was it…?
Suddenly, a bright light erupted from the wall to Ganondorf’s left. The King of Thieves turned to find a figure standing right next to an enormous wardrobe cupboard, in the very spot that would make an excellent hiding place when the seeker was standing at the room’s door. The figure was holding a torch in her right hand that had probably be lit by a flint-strike, and in left hand was hidden behind her back in a formal stance. But what surprised Ganondorf the most was that she was wearing the exact same clothing of the second servant he had sent out. The figure was even wearing the hood over her face…wait, that’s it…!
“My lord!” one of the Gerudo in the room suddenly cried out. “That’s the second servant, the one who told us about the first servant running away…”
“You idiots!” Ganondorf snapped harshly without looking at the Gerudo soldiers and keeping an eye on the newcomer. “Are you so oblivious to not recognize the obvious? Are you that blind? This woman is anything but a Gerudo!”
“I wouldn’t be too hard on them, Ganondorf,” the figure smirked as she abruptly removed her left arm from behind her back and lifted it towards the hood. “After all, you were fooled by the charade as well. Or don’t you even remember?”
Ganondorf snarled. “I remember, wench. But I don’t suppose you came here just to tell me that. Why are you here? To put an end to my life personally, or to mock me?”
“Oh, no,” Impa smirked as her face was completely exposed in the light of the torch. “I came here to lock the door from the inside and make it look the king was really in here. And it’ll be decided later whether you are worthy of an execution. For now, my friends outside will be more than happy to take you in.”
Ganondorf turned his attention to the bedroom door, just in time to watch several Hylian guards storm into the room and seize the three Gerudo. Outside, he could see a couple more guards holding the two Gerudo that had broken the door. Three of the guards that entered the room walked right past the detained Gerudo and stood beside Ganondorf, their swords poised to strike should he make any sudden movements. But what shocked Ganondorf the most were the guards’ faces; they were strong, determined, and dedicated, completely the opposite of what a drunken soul should be!
“I’m assuming you’re wondering about this,” Impa interrupted, bringing Ganondorf’s attention back to her. To his complete amazement, she was holding a full bottle of alcohol in her left hand – she had probably hidden it behind her rags somehow. “Yes, I’ll admit it would’ve been a pretty good idea to give this to the guards just before your invasion of the castle. However, you forgot to include on factor in your plans, Ganondorf.”
“Oh, and what’s that?” the King of Thieves snarled in disgust.
That voice…it couldn’t be. For Ganondorf, hearing that voice was probably even worse than hearing Impa’s. He didn’t want it to be true, but when the wardrobe cupboard opened and Princess Zelda stepped out with that regal and satisfied look on her face, he knew it was true.
“You…” Ganondorf managed before Impa interrupted.
“Yes. You see, if it hadn’t been for Princess Zelda she would’ve never discovered your idea to slip the guards this slop of yours. She was also the architect of this little plan; I’ll admit I would’ve never thought of the weapon she came up with to capture you.”
“And what was that?” Ganondorf spat, unable to contain his fury any longer.
“Your own pride,” Zelda smiled. “I knew you were too smart to leave anything to chance before the invasion, so I came up with the idea to capture you during the invasion. We set everything up so that you would think everything was going your way, so that you would walk right into the snare without a second thought. And by what I heard, you were convinced beyond belief that you really had won.”
Ganondorf snarled through his teeth. “So…everything, from the castle walls to the streets to the castle…it was all planned. I assume you did this all while I was gone so I wouldn’t suspect anything beforehand.”
Impa nodded. “Absolutely right. We also had to arrest your remaining servants so they couldn’t escape and inform you, but they were no trouble at all. And even as we speak, your Gerudo soldiers are being rounded up by sober, prepared Hylian guards. Oh, don’t worry; we don’t do anything to them…except place them in nice, warm cells for the time being. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it, having waited for long periods of time in the open for you to come for them. And as for your horse, it’s most likely back in the stables, where we’ll be sure to give it a proper home with love and care.”
“You…you…you…how dare you!” Ganondorf tried to raise his sword and make a charge for Impa and Zelda, but the three guards that surrounded quickly stopped him dead in his tracks. He also discovered that one of them had already confiscated his sword; he hadn’t even noticed!
Now completely infuriated, Ganondorf could only mutter, “Where is the King of Hyrule now? Lying protected in some hidden room somewhere? I want to personally see this coward and…”
“Oh, no,” Impa grinned. “He’s personally leading the cleanup of your Gerudo as we speak. But he probably would’ve never gone through with this had Princess Zelda not convinced him of your schemes. So if there’s one person to thank for your capture, it should be the princess.”
Ganondorf snarled and gritted his teeth even tighter together. Princess Zelda…he had completely underestimated her. He thought she was nothing more than a spineless twit, but she had proved him wrong. He thought he had broken her spirit when he had encountered her at the Temple of Time, but she had in fact only grown stronger. And now she was orchestrating the failure of his invasion and the perseverance of her family’s reign over Hyrule.
And she still possessed the Ocarina of Time!
Just then, Impa made a gesture with the Gerudo whiskey in her hand. She lifted the bottle of alcohol high in the air before turning the neck upside down and allowing the watery contents to drain out of the bottle and onto the carpet. “Watch this, Ganondorf,” the princess’ protector ordered. “This is your plans, your future, and your luck. And if you aren’t careful, this will be your life.”
Ganondorf again tried to make a run for Impa and Zeda, but the guards again stopped him. Snapping at Zelda with his teeth, the desert prince mumbled, “We will see…”
“Take him away,” Impa commanded. “Search him for any other weapons, and keep him under close watch.”
The three guards saluted before they grabbed the King of Thieves and led him out of the room to join his five Gerudo soldiers. As they left the room, Ganondorf stole a final glance of Princess Zelda. He swore there and then he would get his revenge against that wench. Even if he died trying, he was going to make her pay…
Navi’s cry of glee preceded her beating her wings swiftly in order to carry her nimble body towards the Kokiri, who was slowly dragging himself out of the Zora’s River on the southern bank. He didn’t appear to be hurt, although it wasn’t difficult to tell he didn’t enjoy diving into ice-cold water during a thunderstorm.
When she reached Link, he head was facing down and he was practically crawling along the bank like a crippled horse, although none of his limbs appeared to be broken. He made no sounds except for the scraping of his skin against the soft mud and an occasional grunt from his lips.
“Link, are you all right?” Navi asked.
In response to the fairy’s question, Link unexpectedly coughed loudly and threw up a small stream of water from his throat. He had to cough several more times before he could finally speak properly. “I’m…I’m fine. I…I never thought I’d…I’d take another swim like that so soon after Zora’s Domain.”
Navi shook her head in relief. “Yeah, you’re okay. But I’m afraid the raft’s gone, as well as everything with it…”
“No need to worry about that,” Link assured as he turned around so he could sit down in the mud. “There wasn’t anything really important on that raft, just supplies for the trip. I’ve still got everything I need on my person, including the three Spiritual Stones.”
Just to make sure he was telling the truth, Link gave himself a quick check. Sure enough, he still had the three stones, as well as his ocarina and his weapons, including his sword. He couldn’t remember how his sword had returned to its scabbard after his battle with the Barinade. Maybe Ruto had put it there while he had fallen unconscious or something. But either way, he had everything except the Deku Shield he had lost to the fires of the Dodongos.
“Yes, I’m all right,” he muttered before taking a deep breath and looking up to Navi, who was hovering within arm’s length of his face. “So, how far are we from the city?”
“Not too far, I think,” Navi answered before giving a brief glance in the direction of the castle. “By the looks of things, we can definitely make it in under and hour. And the rain seems to have let up, so it won’t be a miserable journey either.”
Needless to say, the rain really had let up; in fact, it was so soft that Link hardly noticed it at all. It might as well have been a…a mist…
“Well, let’s get going,” Navi pleaded. “If at all possible, I’d like to spend as less time as possible out here in this weather. Maybe Princess Zelda can give you a hot bath when we get to the castle.”
“Sounds good,” Link commented as he stood up, but in reality his mind was thinking of something other than hot baths and Princess Zelda. As he erected himself, he looked around the vast plains. The rains were virtually gone, and the thunder and lightning strikes were all but nonexistent, but something else was starting to develop.
Mist. And it wasn’t a thin mist, either. It was already quite heavy, and it was growing thicker with each passing moment. At this rate, the blanket of haze would swallow up the distant Hyrule Castle completely. This didn’t particularly worry Link – after all, they could just follow Zora’s River straight to the castle – but what did worry him was the strange feeling he had come across this before. But where…?
“Link!” Navi cried impatiently. “Let’s get going before I start screaming right into your ear!”
“I’m coming, I’m coming! Shish!”
“It’s over. It’s finally over.”
Zelda muttered those words for the hundredth time as she shuffled into her bedroom, with Impa following closely behind. The princess’ protector didn’t say anything in response; she was just glad that Zelda’s plan had worked and that Ganondorf was now where he belonged. It had been a deadly gamble – Ganondorf was definitely self-righteous, but risking the plan on that evil man’s pride was taking a big chance – but in the end everything worked out.
As Impa smiled with satisfied relief, Zelda suddenly spoke up. “Impa, do you know when my father will be finished with rounding up the rest of the Gerudo?”
Impa shook her head. “I don’t, princess, but I wouldn’t worry. Ganondorf’s lies may have blinded him in the beginning, but your dedication eventually led him to see the truth. He will not be deceived in such a way again, thanks to you.”
“Thanks to me,” Zelda repeated in her mind. She had stopped in the middle of her bedroom and was at the moment staring into space, at nothing. “Link, when I tell you about this, I hope you will understand that I did this for you as well as for Hyrule. For what he did to you and your people, he deserves more than the worst torture imaginable. But I did this for you…for you, Link. For you…”
“Princess Zelda?” Impa’s voice suddenly crooned. “What’s wrong? You look a little tired. Maybe you should lie down. You’ve had a long day…”
“Not yet,” Zelda interrupted softly. “There’s something I want to do first.”
“All right. If you wish.”
Thanking Impa with a kind nod, Zelda headed for her private garden. The rains had by now thinned out to a delicate mist, but she could still see all her flowers and plants as if it were broad daylight, thanks to the enormous torch she had lit earlier and placed in the very center of the garden. As she walked closer to it, she watched as the torch’s flame burned with a fierce essence, and yet managed to hold a kind of gentle aura about it. It was capable of so much, and yet it decided to utilize its power for one thing.
For some reason, it reminded Zelda of Link…
Speaking of Link, Zelda only gazed in wonder at the torch for about a minute before turning to the real reason she had entered her garden. She made her way to the far end of her garden, where several vivid, colorful flowers were growing beneath a small pear tree. Smiling faintly, Zelda knelt down in her royal dress and reached for one flower that unusually stood apart from the others, just on the edge of the flowerbed.
It was a red fragile firefly, commonly called a brittle rose, which wasn’t a rare flower but, nevertheless, was beautiful and elegant in its own way. Brittle roses were very easy to grow because of their ability to go for years without water and nutrients. During periods of such dearth, their petals grew hard and brittle, making them easy to break but also giving them an exquisite luster in their colors. They were very popular with young Hylian women because of a tradition called Heart of Flowers, where a girl would give someone she likes a fragile firefly as a symbol of giving him her fragile heart.
Zelda had been keeping this brittle rose in a state of nutrition deprivation for several days now, and its petals had already hardened wonderfully. She carefully felt the flower’s delicate surface for a moment before she gently grabbed the plant’s green stalk and gave it a tender twist, causing the flower to come free right where she had bent it.
As she stood up, Zelda pressed the frail blossom daintily against her breast and closed her eyes. She had decided to pick the flower because she knew Link was coming. He would arrive at Hyrule Castle soon, and when he did…
“Link,” she thought as she closed her eyes, “I hardly know you, and yet I cannot stop thinking about you. I know not exactly what has come over me, but I do have my suspicions. When you come here, I will explain everything to you…how I lied to you, how I misled you, everything! And after that, I…will give this to you. If what I suspect is true, I hope you will accept my feelings for you. Because, Link, even though I hardly know you, I know I accept these feelings, for whatever reasons the Three Goddesses have given in their grand plan…”
Unable to think of her conflicting feelings any longer, Zelda allowed a single tear to slip from underneath her eyelash and roll down her cheek. When Link arrived, everything will hopefully fit together. Everything will hopefully…and finally…make sense…
“Link…” she sighed softly. “I…”
The voice was so loud that Princess Zelda snapped back to reality within seconds. And because she had never heard that voice before, her heart started to race. Who had spoken it? Where had it come from? It may have been loud, but Zelda knew its owner was somewhere nearby. But she couldn’t see anyone…
“Princess Zelda! I’m up here!”
Without a second’s thought, Princess Zelda looked up…and her heart nearly jumped out of her throat. There, perched upon one of the pear tree’s outer branches, was an enormous beast the size of a full-grown man, its huge eyes staring right at her with a hungry-looking gaze. Zelda, surprised and shocked at the same time, tried to scream but discovered her voice had left her. Unable to do anything else, she started to reflexively walk backwards, keeping her eyes on the strange creature.
“Careful, now,” she thought. “One wrong move, and only the Three Goddesses know what it’ll do…”
“Princess Zelda, are you finished out there?” It was Impa. “I really think you should get some sleep…princess, what’s wrong? Why are you walking like that…by Din’s Fire, what is that?”
As he stormed his way down the stairwell, led by the three guards who had surrounded him back in the king’s bedroom, Ganondorf snarled loudly, sending an echo down the twisted stone staircase. The lone front guard turned and looked at him, but then quickly turned around again.
“You can growl all you want,” the guard stated, “but it won’t change a thing. Maybe next time, you’ll think twice about attacking Hyrule Castle.”
Ganondorf only sneered angrily in response. Ever since leaving the king’s bedroom, he hadn’t spoken a word to anyone. He was too infuriated with how his plans had been stopped by a little whore whom everyone in Hyrule called their princess. Everything had been perfectly planned, plotted, and thought out. From collecting the Three Spiritual Stones to finding the Ocarina of Time, everything had been considered. There had thought there was absolutely no way he could messed up. No way! None!
But that brat had done it! She had destroyed everything he had spent years planning! He had severely underestimated her, and that was admittedly his own fault. But everything else was her fault! And he was going to make sure she got what she deserved!
“You’ll like it down here, Ganondorf,” one of the two guards behind him uttered. “The cells are a lot better than where your troops will be spending the next few months. Just be glad you’re a king…oh, and we’re going to have to ask you to remove your pretty clothes once you’re…”
“Let me ask you pathetic worms something.”
Ganondorf’s request was so sudden that it caught the three soldiers off guard. They at first didn’t know whether or not to grant the request, but realizing their descent down the stairs would take a little while, they figured a little conversation with their prisoner would be a nice change from conversing with themselves.
“Okay, Ganondorf,” the third guard said. “Go ahead and ask us pathetic worms whatever you want.”
A tiny smile crept across Ganondorf’s face. “Tell me, how well do you think you would’ve done against me and my Gerudo if your precious princess hadn’t helped you?”
The King of Thieve’s question was so unexpected and mocking that it took the guards a long moment to finally answer. “I…I don’t know,” the first guard finally replied. “But I suppose it really doesn’t matter, seeing that everything worked out in the end.”
“You know what I think?” the second guard uttered. “I think we would be dead without her. We’d probably have our heads cut off right now, and we wouldn’t even know because we’d be so drunk. If Princess Zelda hadn’t intervened, I’d never see my wife and son again.”
“I guess so,” the third guard agreed. “Hopefully, the king will take this opportunity to improve our performance. I feel the Hylian Guard has grown a little soft in these times of peace. I’m just glad the princess came through for us…”
“So, you really like that wench, don’t you?”
One of the guards behind Ganondorf gave the desert prince a hard shove in the shoulder. “Don’t say such things about Princess Zelda, you fiend! And yes, we love her like our own daughters. Everyone in Hyrule loves her with all their hearts.”
“I see.” Ganondorf’s lips widened their smile. “Then I guess it’ll be sad for you all when she’s dead.”
The guard in front of Ganondorf suddenly stopped his descent down the stairs, forcing the others to do the same. The guard then turned around to face the evil king. “What are you talking about, you brute? What do you mean, ‘when she’s dead’?”
Ganondorf snickered softly. “It doesn’t matter to you. You won’t be around to miss her.”
“What in the name of the Three Goddesses…?”
Without warning, Ganondorf removed his hidden bone dagger from behind his back and plunged it into the soldier’s neck. The soldier’s face flinched into an expression of surprise and shock before all life left his eyes like a flickering candle flame. The guard tried to say something, but it only caused more blood to spill from the enormous cut in his throat. It only took a moment for his body to grow limp and hang on the dagger in Ganondorf’s hands like a carelessly worn cape.
But Ganondorf didn’t take the time to bathe in the glory of his sadistic murder; instead, he left the blade buried in the soldier’s neck and turned around to face the other two, who were just as surprised as the first soldier.
“Stop him…!” one of the remaining soldiers cried as they tried to draw their swords, but they were too slow.
Like a bad dream come true, Ganondorf raised the palms of his hands to meet the faces of the two soldiers. The evil prince then flinched his fingers like fat whips before he sent two small yet lethal energy balls flying from his hands and right into the two guards’ mugs. There were no screams of agony from the poor soldiers; the balls of light hit their targets dead on and muffled any sounds that could possibly be made with their tiny explosions.
When the light from the explosions cleared, all that was left on the two soldiers’ faces was dead skin that draped like rotten vines on a decaying tree. Their faces had been erased, as if someone had taken a giant sword and shaved all the guards’ facial features off with one, careless stroke. The soldiers’ bodies stood erect for a moment longer before they collapsed to the floor with a loud clatter.
As he stood over the three soldiers’ bodies like a god of death, Ganondorf sneered so loudly he could hear it echo three times in the stairwell passage. He sneered at the soldiers’ stupidity, at how the guards were stupid not to find his bone dagger inserted into his upper arm, right underneath his armpit, during their search of his body for other possible weapons. Bone daggers were a Gerudo’s way of making sure regular melee weapons weren’t the only means of defense; they also happened to be unnoticeable because of their scabbards: human flesh. Sure, it hurt quite a bit to actually sheath the dagger into the skin, but once in it made the perfect weapon for times like this.
He knew he could’ve tried using the bone dagger to attack the princess, but as he stared at the lifeless bodies at his feet, Ganondorf understood how his anger would’ve gotten in the way; the guards would’ve simply taken the weapon from him and he would’ve been without a physical weapon. And he also understood how out of practice he was with his magical abilities, which is why it took him so long to gather enough energy for those light attacks.
But now everything he had learned was coming back to him, and this was the perfect time for his revenge. The princess thought he was rotting in a prison cell, and the only ones who knew otherwise were dead. Not taking this opportunity would haunt him for the rest of his life. He might be captured again, but it would be worth it.
“Princess Zelda,” he snarled in his mind as he bent down to pick up his sword. “When I get my hands on you, I’m going to show you true pain. I’m going to gouge our your eyes with my teeth, twist your fingers off your little hands, peel your skin all the way down your body, and burn you where it hurts the most…and that’s just the beginning!”
Of course, Ganondorf knew he wouldn’t have time to perform these vicious acts. The most be could probably do was slit her throat…but that would be more than enough.
With his sword in hand, Ganondorf began his climb up the stairs, leaving the three guards to bathe in their own blood…
“I have a bad feeling about this.”
Navi didn’t screech to a flying halt when Link said that, but she did slow her pace a little. “And what exactly is ‘this,’ Link? What exactly do you have a bad feeling about?”
Link didn’t know if Navi’s night vision allowed her to see him clearly in the heavy fog that surrounded them, but he shook his head anyway. “This situation, that’s what. I don’t know why, but, well…something just doesn’t feel right.”
Navi remained silent for a minute before responding, “Normally, I’d be inclined to say you’re just overreacting, but being with you has taught me you’re not that simple. Is there any particular reason why this ‘situation’ doesn’t feel right?”
“I guess…it’s because of this dream I had once…actually, several times. It started some time before Gohma was destroying the Great Deku Tree, and even now I sometimes have that dream when I sleep. It was very startling at first, but then I kind of got used to it. I guess I’ve gotten so used to it that it stopped bothering me after a while. But now…that same dream is starting to make me feel uncomfortable again.”
“I guess that makes sense,” Navi admitted, “but it’ll make even more sense if you tell me what the dream was.”
The Kokiri gave a weak smile. “I guess there’s no harm in telling it. Let’s see, it starts out in an empty plain, something like this one, and it starts to get really foggy…”
Link’s story was suddenly interrupted by another crash of thunder…
The door went crashing down with one swift kick from Ganondorf’s boot in a hail of splinters and chunks. Satisfied with the deed but also fervently hell-bent on carrying out his revenge, the King of Thieves ran into the princess’ bedroom, raising his sword high in anticipation of finding Zelda’s neck.
“Where are you, you little wench?” Ganondorf bellowed at the top of his lungs. “Where in the name of the Three Goddesses are you?”
The bedroom was empty save for the princess’ belongings; there were no actual living beings in sight. Irate with possibility she might be hiding, Ganondorf began a quick search of the room. He threw open the closet and emptied it by topping it over. He used his black sword to carve the bed sheets into tiny scraps, as well as the actual bed. He even used his fist to destroy the enormous mirror with one swift punch. But he found no one. Getting angrier by the minute, Ganondorf turned his attention to the only place he hadn’t looked: the only door other than the bedroom’s entrance.
Kicking the door down like the first one, Ganondorf burst into whatever was on the other side. To his complete disgust, it was a private garden, filled with the most colorful and vibrant plants he had ever seen. But he only allowed his revulsion to overcome his emotions for a split second before he returned to his vengeance-seeking persona.
“Show yourself, you little whore!” Ganondorf demanded. “Come on out or I’ll pick this place apart to find you! Or how about I simply…?”
At that moment, the King of the Gerudo noticed something that froze his threats. At the far end of the garden was a small stone platform that led to an enormous window on the far wall. Ganondorf remembered seeing that window. He had seen it during his visits with the king in his throne room. It was also the window through which he had seen someone spying on him; someone he had suspected to be the princess.
And it was broken, smashed in by a chair that lay at the foot of the shattered pane amidst thousands of shards of glass.
“No!” was all the Ganondorf could say as he ran as fast as he could to the broken window. He leapt over the short flight of stairs onto the platform and peered through the remnants of the glass. The throne room was empty; there was no one inside. The princess was gone.
“Curses!” Ganondorf roared. “How did she know I was coming? Does that witch have a sixth sense of some kind? Or is she using the Ocarina of Time somehow? Either way, I won’t let her get away…”
Just then, Ganondorf noticed two things arranged at the base of the broken window, on the throne room floor. The first thing he noticed was a flower, a kind he had never seen before. Its petals were obviously very brittle, because small pieces of it had already fallen off and were lying on the floor amidst the glass. Ganondorf picked it up out of curiosity, but quickly thought nothing of it when he noticed the second thing.
Starting on a very sharp shard of glass still affixed in the window’s frame and disappearing down a distant hallway was a thing yet noticeable trail of blood. Someone had cut her skin on the glass and was leaving a wonderful trail for him to follow. The blood was even still fresh; it hadn’t even dried up yet.
A cruel smile forming on his lips, Ganondorf snickered, “As I said, I won’t let her get away.”
He then grabbed the flower in his hand by the petals and squeezed it as hard as he could, crushing the delicate flower with a spiteful crunch before allowing the remnants to drift out of his palm and down to the floor, where he felt they belonged…
“Look! There it is! The city!”
Link was right. The fog had grown incredibly heavy since the incident with the tree and his raft, but he could easily make out the towering features of Hyrule Castle New City as if it were broad daylight. Of course, he so close to the towering metropolis it would be impossible not to see it, and two bright torches burning on the sides of the entrance also helped. He couldn’t see beyond the outer wall and several tall structures along the edge of the city, but it was unmistakable Hyrule Castle New City.
“Finally, we’re here,” Link sighed. “Now all we have to is get inside, find Princess Zelda, give her the Spiritual Stones, and home we go…”
“A great idea, except for one thing, Link,” Navi suddenly interrupted. “We’re locked out.”
“Look for yourself. The drawbridge is up. We can’t even get in.”
Link turned his attention to the giant entrance to the city, and to his dismay Navi was right. The huge drawbridge that had been down during the day was now raised, preventing anyone from crossing the huge moat into the city limits. Link remembered how Princess Zelda had to get special permission to lower the drawbridge for his midnight departure from the city; since she didn’t know he was here, there wasn’t going to be a repeat action.
“Looks like we’re stuck out here for the night,” Navi continued with a sigh. “And I was looking forward to finishing this thing tonight.”
“Great,” Link said with a sigh of his own. “What else can go wrong?”
As if answering the challenge, a thunder roll echoed across the sky before several starting droplets fell from the sky. It didn’t take long for the light drizzle to grow harder and harder until it felt exactly like passing through Zora’s Domain’s waterfall entrance several times during the course of a second. Link, deciding not to make the situation worse, shut his mouth and prayed that Navi would do the same.
The only upside was that the heavy rains were causing the fog to lift, but that wasn’t necessarily something Link needed. At least he could see the city’s facade more clearly now, but he would’ve traded that advantage for no rain at all…
“Hey, what was that?” Navi suddenly asked.
“What was what?”
“I thought I heard something. It sounded like a whistle of some kind, but I’m not sure.”
“Maybe it was the wind…”
“No, it sounded too shrill to be the wind. It had to be a whistle, or at least something that sounds like a whistle…”
Suddenly, Link heard a loud and uncannily familiar groan, and he knew exactly where it was coming from…
Market Square flew by like a vague dream for Princess Zelda, as did the rest of Hyrule Castle New City. But she didn’t complain; she and Impa had to make haste if they were to get out of the city before Ganondorf could catch them.
Zelda had never seen Impa’s beautiful white horse Puresnow gallop as fast as she was now; the princess had only seen the mare perform simple riding tricks back at the palace. She hoped Impa wouldn’t tire the poor horse out at the speed Impa was pushing her, despite the need for them to get away from Ganondorf. Zelda only hoped she had noticed the wound on her leg in time to end the bloody trail she had left for the King of Thieves to follow, because apparently Ganondorf’s horse – Darkstorm, she thought that was his name – was a very powerful horse. Powerful enough to catch up to Puresnow very easily…
As she sat in front of Impa, who was trying to keep Puresnow going fast enough and prevent the princess from falling off, Zelda couldn’t help but wonder about Link. She was so sure she would see him again very soon, but this recent turn of events was destroying that opportunity. Now she won’t have the chance to tell him what she had wanted to tell him ever since she had decided to lie to herself no longer. And Link…how will he find her again? How will he know what had happened if she wasn’t there to let him back into the castle? How long did he have to wait before it was safe to return to Hyrule Castle?
Why…did she care so much about this boy…?
“Princess, are you all right?” Impa’s voice suddenly interrupted.
Snapping out of her trance, Zelda looked up at her guardian. “Yes, I’m fine, Impa.”
“Good, because I’m afraid we’re being followed.”
Zelda’s face broke into an expression of horror. She turned to look behind Impa, expecting to see the evil figure of Ganondorf upon his dark steed, chasing them through the streets of Hyrule Castle New City. But all she saw were dark streets illuminated by a few lights from house windows; she couldn’t even make out a distant shadow of any pursuer.
“How do you know?”
Impa’s face tightened. “Because I can feel his dark aura getting closer. He must’ve discovered we were heading to the stables, even though we put a stop to your bleeding long before we got to them. Curse it all! I just wish I had had time to take care of his horse.”
“Impa, I’m so sorry…”
“Don’t be. Ganondorf may have been blinded by his pride during the invasion, but he isn’t stupid. He would’ve found out sooner or later; it just happened to be sooner than I had hoped for. But it’s starting to rain again; it should give us some cover when we’re outside the city. Let’s just hope we can get out into the open before Ganondorf sees us. Now cover your ears. I need to give the signal to open the main gate.”
After giving the princess a little bit of time to follow her instructions, Impa moved her lips and tongue into a pouted positioned before releasing two loud, brief, high-pitched whistles into the night…
The drawbridge. It was lowering.
Ordinarily, Link would be both surprised and relieved that such a thing were happening, because it meant getting into the city and getting out of the rain. But instead, he was both surprised and shocked. He had seen this, seen it enacted hundreds of times before. It may have been a coincidence, but the shape and size of the drawbridge and the sounds of the drawbridge as it groaned its way down were too recognizable. And while the drawbridge wasn’t attached to a castle, the fact that the city’s facade was part of Hyrule Castle New City was also too much to be a coincidence.
There was no denying it; Link was watching his dream being reenacted.
“Navi! This is it! This is my dream! It’s happening! Right now! Navi, where are you?”
“I’m right here. There’s no need to shout,” came the fay’s familiar voice to his left. Link turned his head, and sure enough he found Navi hovering over his left shoulder. Just like in his dream…
“Navi, look! You remember what I told you! This is my dream! It’s come to life! My dream is happening right now! Look, the drawbridge is lowering, just like…”
“Link, calm down!” Navi demanded. “I remember what you told me, but now I think you’re overreacting. There’s probably a very plausible reason for them lowering the drawbridge. Maybe Princess Zelda noticed us coming and is just letting us in…”
“Navi, you don’t understand…!” Link’s interruption was in turn interrupted by the loud thud of the drawbridge landing on the ground, bridging the gap between the soggy plains and the city limits. Link ignored it and just continued, despite the fact that the wind was blowing the rain into his face. “Navi, listen to me! You might not get it because you never had the dream yourself. But I’ve had it, and I know it when I see it. I had a strange feeling the moment we first arrived at this city; that’s how sure I am. Look at this, Navi! Look! How would you like to know that a white horse with two riders is going to come out of there right now?”
“Link, calm down, okay? Maybe there’s some truth to your dream, maybe not. I don’t know. But are you sure you’re not taking this too seriously? Are you sure you’re not…wait a minute, I hear something.”
“What is it? Another whistle?”
“No, it’s definitely not a whistle. It’s very familiar, let me just think…yes, it sounds like…by the Three Goddesses, it can’t be!”
Navi, with shock spread all over her tiny face, turned her attention to the lowered entrance to the city; Link did the same, sans the shocked expression. What he saw made his blood run cold. The rain was still falling quite heavily, so it masked the city entrance like an enormous see-through curtain. But he could still see something behind that curtain, something heading out of the darkness from inside the city and into the field, heading straight for Link and Navi.
Despite the fact he couldn’t make out any detail at all, Link knew exactly what was heading his way…
The sound of Puresnow’s hooves clattering upon the wooden planks of the drawbridge sounded little different than her hooves upon the cobbled stones of the city streets, but Zelda welcomed the slight change of sound. It signaled she and Impa were nearly out of the city, and therefore nearly out of Ganondorf’s clutches. By now even she could sense Ganondorf’s presence behind them; she still couldn’t see them, but he knew he was there. But in a matter of moments they would lose him in the thick wall of rain in the fields of Hyrule…
“By Farore’s Wind, someone’s in the way!” Impa suddenly yelled, more to herself than to Zelda. “Get out of the way! Quickly get out of the way! I can’t turn this horse around! Kid, get out of the way!”
Her heart suddenly leaping with hope, Zelda peered over Puresnow’s flowing white mane so she could see the “kid” to whom Impa was yelling. The rain still obscured her vision somewhat, but she didn’t need her whole eyesight to make out the familiar shape of a long, pointed hat upon the head of a familiar body.
“Link!” she screamed with all her might. “That’s Link! Impa, stop! We have to pick up Link! Impa, stop, please!”
“We can’t stop, princess!” Impa said immediately, although it sounded as if she had thought through Zelda’s request thoroughly. “If we do, Ganondorf will surely catch us. As much as I’d like to stop and pick the young lad up, we just can’t. I’m sorry!”
Zelda, not knowing what else to do, continued yelling at the top of her lungs. “Link, get out of the way! Quickly, Link! Get out of the way before you’re trampled! Link!”
Zelda…that was Princess Zelda’s voice!
But that was all that Link managed to scream back before the giant white horse was upon him. Unable to do anything else, Link scrambled to the side to avoid getting crushed by the steed’s thundering hooves. He managed to get out of the way just in time; moments after jumping out of harm’s way, the white horse blazed through where he had stood, neither slowing down or turning around.
Link, although a little dazed, managed to keep his eyes fixed on the retreating horse, as well as its…two…riders. He had been right! This was the horse from his dreams! The fact that Princess Zelda and Impa – he was sure the other voice belonged to Impa – were on that horse didn’t change a thing. And just like in his dream, one of the riders was looking back at him, and that rider was Zelda.
She was trying to tell him something, but the wind was blowing in the other direction and scattering her words. What was she saying? He couldn’t hear…wait a minute. What was she doing…?
As she watched the Kokiri pass them in a brief blur, Zelda felt helpless. There was so much she wanted to do for him, but she couldn’t do a thing except watch him as he watched her disappear…
No! There had to be something she could do! Link had all three Spiritual Stones. Why else had he returned? And if that was true, he had almost all of the keys to the Sacred Realm. The only key he didn’t have was in her possession…
In an instant, Zelda’s mind had been made up. Without a second thought, she reached with both her hands for the sewn pocket in her dress and tore the lining apart with her nails. She then grabbed the familiar item she had sewn inside that pocket with her right hand and brought it into the open.
She won’t allow Ganondorf to get his hands on the Ocarina of Time, but she also wasn’t going to let him stand by and think of another way to get the Triforce!
Hesitating for only a split second, Zelda pushed herself to the side of Impa and screamed as loud as she could, “Link! Here! Take this!”
Then, with all her might, she threw the Ocarina of Time in Link’s direction…
She had thrown something! Princess Zelda had thrown something at him! Link tried to see what it was, but the rain and wind blurred his vision and prevented him from seeing it clearly. All he could do was watch as the obscure object sailed through the lightning-adorned sky like a dying bird, flying over his head and disappearing somewhere a short distance away to his right.
But for some reason Link quickly forgot about the thrown object and turned his attention back to the retreating Zelda. By now, the horse had disappeared into the curtain of rainfall completely, but he thought he could still hear Zelda’s muffled cries. He could even recall Zelda’s horrified expression as she watched him during her frantic ride…
By the way, why were Princess Zelda and Impa riding away like that? Were they going after something? Or was something chasing after them? Hey, wait a minute. Wasn’t there something more to Link’s dream? Didn’t something else happen…?
A loud snort behind him was all he needed to remember. Turning around frantically, Link saw what he had only seen in his terrifying dream. The first thing he saw was the black horse, a huge, powerful-looking animal that seemed capable of tearing him apart with its frantic hooves and wild eyes. Speaking of its eyes, a flash of lightning lit the sky, and the horse’s eyes lit up with it. But instead of a sickly yellow, the eyes glowed demonic red…
Then the horse’s rider became the focus. As the horse reared in fervent madness, the rider forced the horse to calm down. He was exactly the same as Link had seen him back at the palace, but out here in the thunderstorm he appeared more wicked and malicious than before. His face was stiff with anger and determination, but his eyes were filled with a passionate cruelty Link hadn’t seen anywhere else. And unlike the horse’s eyes, which required a flash of lightning to glow with a sinful light, this man’s eyes seemed to glow like a demon’s corrupt soul on their own.
He scared Link more than Gohma, King Dodongo, and the Barinade ever could. Combined. Ganondorf, the King of Thieves, was just that evil…
The man stared into the thunderstorm with a heated glare, as if he had failed something very important. “Curses!” he cried out loud in a gruff voice. “I lost her!”
Link hoped Ganondorf hadn’t seen him, hoped the rain would somehow shield him from the evil man’s sight, but that hope was dashed when Ganondorf turned his head to his left and saw the Kokiri standing in the rain. “You there!” the Gerudo cried. “You, boy! You must’ve seen a horse go by here just now. Which way did they go? Answer me!”
Link didn’t say anything; he just kept his gaze affixed on the black-clothed man with a frozen expression of fear on his face. Starting to get irritated, Ganondorf raised his voice. “I heard screams earlier, you little brat. And since you’re the only one I’ve seen out here, they must’ve been yelling at you. Where are they? Why way did they go? Tell me! Now!”
Link somehow found the strength to take a single step backwards, although he kept his stare set on Ganondorf. The Gerudo watched this simple yet defying act, and he seemed to be a little amused by it. “So, you think you can protect the princess from me, is that it? You’ve got guts, kid. But if you don’t tell me where she is, I’m going to strew them all over Hyrule. Now tell me where she is before I come down there and slice you open like the dog you are!”
“Just try it,” Link dared in his mind, but in reality he was shaking violently. He knew Ganondorf would beat him in a one-on-one fight; even if he lost his sanity, like he had when he fought those Lizalfos, Ganondorf would carve him up as easily as a bolt of lightning burning through a tree.
Still, he wasn’t about to reveal where Princess Zelda had gone. Even if Ganondorf killed him, Link would never betray her. He just hoped Ganondorf wouldn’t find the three Spiritual Stones on his person if he did kill him…
Deciding to make a stand there and then, Link drew his sword from his scabbard. He instinctively reached for his Deku Shield as well, but remembering it wasn’t there he clutched the hilt of his sword with both hands and pointed it straight at Ganondorf. He was sending a clear message to the evil man that no matter what, Link would never tell him anything. Link also hoped Ganondorf would realize just how much he hated him, despite the fact they had never met before.
But seeing Link’s brave act only amused the Gerudo further. Ganondorf watched the Kokiri’s threat for a moment before his eyes seemed to flash with realization, as if he had learned something valuable and important. He then snickered loudly and gave Link a mocking smile.
“Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh. So you want to fight me, do you? You’re either one of the greatest fighters in the world or one of the world’s biggest fools. But I guess I can’t pass such a thing up, seeing your little heart’s so set on facing me. Here, allow me to make the first move.”
Without another word, Ganondorf raised the palm of his hand and aimed it at the Kokiri. Link, still aiming his sword at the Gerudo, watched in horror as a ball of white energy gathered in Ganondorf’s hand for a few seconds, growing to the size of Link’s head and to the brightness of a close star, before being released in his direction with a soft, audible vibration.
Link quickly spread his hands apart and called forth Nayru’s Love. The invisible shield came forth, blocking the path of the energy sphere. But Link’s confidence in defending himself from the attack was destroyed when the energy ball passed right through his shield! Without any time to dodge, Link felt the surge of pure energy course through his body, sending him flying backwards.
He landed on the ground with a thud, creating a small net noticeable splash in the soggy grass. He was still alive, but he couldn’t move; the King of Thieves’ attack had rendered him completely immobile. All Link could do was move his eyes and look up at the person he despised as the Gerudo king stared back at him.
“You pathetic, little fool,” Ganondorf finally uttered. “You have no idea who you are dealing with. But soon, you and all the world will know the true power of Ganondorf!”
Without another word, Ganondorf grabbed his horse’s reigns and whipped them aggressively against the beast’s neck. The horse reared wildly before pushing itself forward, supported by a loud cry from Ganondorf. Link managed to move his neck, which proved he wasn’t paralyzed, and watch as the King of the Gerudo disappeared into the night, melting into the darkness as if it were his own domain.
As he looked on, tears started to form in Link’s eyes. He had just come face to face with the man who had killed the Great Deku Tree, and he had been no match for him. Even with his own magical abilities, if he had used them, Link was sure Ganondorf would’ve found him to be as dangerous as an insect bite. The failure of Nayru’s Love merely solidified that idea…
He stared at the spot where Ganondorf had disappeared into the darkness for what seemed like an eternity, allowing the tears to flow more freely with each passing minute. He didn’t know how long he lay there, unable to move, but his mind was only occupied by one thought and one thought alone. Before he blacked out, he whispered aloud in his mind: