Chapter 19 - Enter the Gerudo
Apolloni paced the parapets lost in thought at the curious message traffic they had been glimpsing within their rubies. Every Gerudo elder had felt the summons through their telepathic connection. Ganondorf had tried to contact someone outside their realm of purview. He was in constant connection with this unknown third party and it irritated her. It infuriated Nabooru although she dared not admit it.
It had been an interminable day of patrol for her, they had went as far as the Negev Marshlands, almost a day’s journey south past Lake Hylia. They had avoided attracting the wrath of the indigenous creatures that lived there, humanoid reptiles that had taken sentience and were extremely lethal. They entered the fortress exhausted from their trip that morning. Apolloni was looking forward to being personally bathed and sharing the bed with her apprentice that night.
A hail from the nearby tower signaled intruders coming up the pass. She signaled Nabooru through her ruby of the incoming threat as she assembled a group to join her. They leapt down off the wall with spears in hand as they dashed for the bridge that spanned the gorge leading to the fortress. For centuries it had been the one bottleneck that led to their kingdom. They could defend it with ease and toss whoever lost into the raging waters below. If in desperate need they simply cut the bridge and let it fall, they could always rebuild it later.
Apolloni crouched down just behind a stone, giving orders to her women via hand gestures. Two hastened across the bridge and took up positions on the upper ledges of the valley. One leaped up to the high bluff and looked out onto the plains. The sun was just starting to set as it took the Gerudo several seconds to spot the inbound trespassers. She signaled back to Apolloni that there were two horses in one formation with four riders followed by two more horses with a rider each. A chase? Apolloni mused. It didn’t matter. They would be dead before they set foot on the bridge.
The slow cadence of crickets were slowly drowned out by the rising patter of hooves striking the rock, their echoes ricocheting through the valley, setting each of the Gerudo on edge. The first horse galloped into view with two young children astride it. Apolloni raised a hand to stay the archers from firing. This was unusual to have two children at their doorstep. She decided it best to see who the other riders were following before making any decisions.
The second horse bolted into view as a rather rotund man was holding a young girl, frantically trying to keep the horse from careening off into the gorge. The three children were an oddity but there would be no men tolerated beyond the bridge. With a gesture two Gerudo pounced on the portly man knocking him to the ground with a thud. A third Gerudo quickly plucked the screaming green-haired girl off the horse as another quickly snatched the reins and brought it under control.
Within a matter of seconds the other Gerudo had dismantled the first horse of its occupants and held the three girls at sword point. Apolloni dismissed the children and stalked over to the man still struggling on his back to be set free from the vice-like grip of the other Gerudo. What a disgusting man, Apolloni thought, what was he doing taking these three children here? She placed a sandaled foot on his chest as she leaned over his face looking for any trace of a lie as she spoke to him.
“Why are you here? What business do you have with the Gerudo? Are these children yours? Answer me quickly.” Apolloni threatened in a tone that wasn’t meant to be questioned.
He stopped resisting the women as he lay on the ground breathless in terror of both what was chasing them and his past coming back to haunt him. He blurted out in a rush, “We’re runnin’ way from soldiers who won’ die! Taken kids ta safety!” He coughed trying to gasp for air as the weight of Apolloni was slowly pressing into his chest.
A slow chirp from above directed Apolloni’s attention down the pass as more hoofs were heard throughout the canyon. She signaled two Gerudo to haul the man off to the fortress for questioning. She readied her crossbow and took aim down the path. A hush descended as the Gerudo stood in utter silence awaiting the pursuers. She checked her look-out up top to see if she was reading her signals right, two riders on black horses. Seemed easy enough.
The first rider was blown off his horse when the force of four crossbow bolts slammed into his chest. The second rider swerved off avoiding several more bolts, they splashed uselessly into the nearby pond. The man guided his horse along the edge of the canyon wall when a spear hurtled through the air and impaled him against the rock face. He hung limply on the shaft as both horses dispersed into the air, unnerving several Gerudo in the process.
Ignoring the strangeness of disappearing stallions, Apolloni stepped over to the three children and looked into their faces. They were trembling with fear; they couldn’t be any older than 12 cycles, she figured. They sure were a diverse lot. One looked like someone from the hicks complete with scraggly breeches, another had a torn white dress but Apolloni noted the red hair (very unique), finally she turned to the smallest of the three with what looked like a green tunic.
Just as she had finished examining them, a small flicker of green light caught her attention. She knelt down near the green haired girl, “What is your name young one?” she asked soothingly.
“S…Saria.” She said meekly, hands clasped behind her back.
“Show me that light you are hiding.” Apolloni had spoken gently to her, but it was clearly an order.
Sora shot out from under Saria’s tunic and buzzed in the Gerudo’s face. She jerked back as the tiny sprite assailed her in a small voice, “Stay back from her! Don’t you dare hurt her!”
Apolloni was entranced. She had never seen a real fairy before. This was getting more curious by the minute. A sharp trill interrupted her thoughts as she was directed to look over to the two men they had slain. Impossible! The man by the pond was slowly getting up after having taken four bolts to the chest! She swung her head in the other direction to see the second man slowly pulling the shaft through his body before hopping down to the ground, effectively unharmed.
One click of her fingers was enough to send the other Gerudo into the fray. They flowed in from all angles as they sliced up the two interlopers. Blood stained their blades as they appraised their handiwork, both men had been decapitated and various limbs severed. Apolloni moved to direct the Gerudo holding the girls captive to bring them in through the primary gate when another chirp was heard. Irritated, Apolloni looked at her scout, what now?
She stormed over to the center of the path, yanking a crossbow from one of her guards as she planted both feet firmly in front of the bridge. She aimed down the pass waiting for the three new horse riders to reveal themselves. Weeks of inaction and now struck with nine different trespassers in one day. She snorted derisively, this would not stand.
Nabooru stepped alongside Apolloni who merely grunted at her entrance to the skirmish. Nabooru calmly stood by, two scimitars in hand waiting patiently to puncture their first victims. The first rider roared into view waving its arms frantically as it yelled. She squinted as she tried to make out his facial features. Something about that young boy seemed awfully familiar.
“Not me! Don’t shoot me! Shoot the men behind me!” Link screamed as he galloped past the first wave of Gerudo. Bewildered at this, they turned to the two elders for guidance.
The realization slammed into Nabooru like a thunderclap, her hand shot up like a missile as she yelled, “Hold, this boy is not our enemy. Focus your attacks on his hunters.”
Their eyes met briefly as he raced past them and across the bridge. Apolloni gave a cry of outrage as she glared at Nabooru for letting the child through. She ignored her look of disapproval and refocused on the task at hand. The clops of the hooves were getting louder as they all tensed to attack this new menace. Nabooru flicked her eyes as one of the corpses dragged itself across the ground and clutched its head in order to reattach it, several stunned cries erupted from among the Gerudo at this impossible event.
“What devilry is this?!” Nabooru demanded.
An arrow hurtled through the air; a quick mental warning from Apolloni was enough to give Nabooru time to react to it. She crouched low and began dashing for one of the horses in an attempt to knock its rider to the ground. The boy had already dismounted and was futilely talking to the three guards who were refusing him from conversing with any of their captives. As one of the women shoved him to the ground in exasperation, she was directing him to leave when he looked over and noticed Nabooru charging Talamir.
“Nabooru! They can’t die!” Link yelled across the gorge.
It was enough of a distraction to interfere with her objective. With her attention misdirected the man backhanded the Gerudo knocking her to the ground. The black haired man nocked an arrow and released it, piercing through one of the Gerudo scouts on the bluffs. She collapsed with the pain and slid off into the gorge screaming the entire way down.
With a startled cry of protest, Link grasped one of the spears that a Gerudo was holding and ran across the bridge back into the fray. The weight of the spear was awkward as he tried to maintain balance running. He had never scrapped with a spear before, he was unsure of how well he could execute blows with one. Timner was almost upon him, trident raised he planned to skewer Link to the bridge planks.
Link had been hoping to have crossed the gorge prior to the conflict but had no other choice; he ducked to both knees as he jammed the butt of his spear into the bridge. Timner reacted too late as he swerved his horse. It slipped on the planks and fell onto the raised spear. The weight snapped the pole in two as the blade ascended deep into its flesh. With a whinnied shriek of agonizing pain, the horse pitched forward and fell flailing off the bridge.
Timner dove off the stallion and landed directly on top of Link pushing the air out of him. The bridge oscillated precariously as several support ropes had been severed with the advent of the horse. A pitched battle was raging across the gorge with a dozen Gerudo fruitlessly fighting three well-trained men of war who seemingly shrugged off all attempts to be slaughtered. More Gerudo were dying than they could afford.
Zelda screamed as Timner came to his senses and realized where he was. He grinned maliciously as he grasped Link’s neck and began choking the life out of him. “I have you now boy! You cannot escape this time!”
An arrow whizzed into his back, merely grunting from the sting, he continued his stranglehold on the boy. Link was straining to breathe amidst the man’s crushing grip. He tried to kick out with his feet but only managed a weak shake of the foot. His vision was starting to dim as Timner was laughing in triumph. He was finally going to kill this meddlesome boy!
A blow to his head affected a release on his grip; Link hacked in racking spasms as he tried to gulp in precious air. Timner looked up to see the young, red-headed girl looking furious at him. One glare wilted her expression as he punched her across the face. She tumbled off the side of the bridge managing to only grab one rope suspension line. She screamed in terror as her feet dangled thousands of feet over the rushing waters.
The rest of the Gerudo let loose their captives as Zelda ran to Malon to assist her from her predicament. Timner replaced his hands around Link’s neck and resumed squeezing the life out of him. He did not notice until the spear was through his heart that he had been hurt.
Saria had hung back as her captors surged forward to strike the man down who was choking Link. If this was the taste of battle and what it was like, she wanted no part of it. Sora huddled next to her neck for comfort as they gazed on the horrific mêlée unfolding before them.
“Cut the lines!” Nabooru yelled as she signaled the rest of her women to fall back. It was clear they were not going to win a battle against men who refused to meet the Goddesses.
She turned to see the young boy she knew being strangled to death. She clutched a spear from one of her scouts and ran across the bridge ramming it into the man’s heart. He turned to her with a look of surprise; he had released the boy once more which was a relief to Nabooru. The man stood up with purpose; with a forceful cry of pain he dragged the spear from his chest with a sickening shuck. Nabooru was incredulous at how these men could seemingly receive lethal strokes in stride.
The bridge swayed dangerously as the two girls on the edge screamed. Zelda had almost pulled Malon from the edge. Nabooru and Timner were locked in battle; her scimitars flashing in the sunlight as she blocked, parried, stabbed, and sliced through Timner. He made futile attempts at gouging her with the spear tip but she was too nimble to be caught. Another scream from the girls as she knocked the man against the sides of the suspension ropes, swinging the bridge at an awkward angle.
The rest of the Gerudo were still cutting the lines, Nabooru was prepared to go down with the intruders if need be. The protection of the fortress was of the highest priority. All were willing to die for that purpose.
Talamir caught another Gerudo off guard as he cut through her abdomen watching the blood spill out onto the ground as the woman slumped over in shock. He apparated a bow into his hands as he readied an arrow, the boy was his target. The red-headed woman did not matter.
Recovering, Link rolled over onto his stomach as an arrow thrust itself into the board plank he had been lying on. He quickly glanced up to see Talamir placing another arrow onto the drawstring, with little time left he dashed over to Zelda. With one heave from the two of them they lifted Malon over the edge as all three ran across the bridge towards the remaining Gerudo guards who were unsure themselves what to do.
Apolloni leapt onto the bridge to assist her elder sister in fighting the man, Timner was clearly outmatched in skill and he knew it. With each parried blow he stepped further back towards the edge of the gorge, closer to his brother. One final snap signified that the bridge had been cut. Both elders leapt and grasped the rocky ledge on the other side, Timner fell with the bridge down into the gorge. He was enveloped in the rushing rapids in seconds.
Talamir cursed their luck as he noted his other two men walk up beside him. No matter, he thought, he could still accomplish his goal. He raised his bow and took careful aim at the boy. He let loose the arrow as it honed in on its unfortunate target. A splatter of dust and warmth brushed Talamir’s face as he glanced over at one of his men being turned to ashes. With a jolt he spun around to see two old witches on brooms flanking a formidable man arrayed in nothing but sack cloth.
Another blast from the central man vaporized his other companion into nothing but atoms. Without a further thought, Talamir dove into the gorge and took his chances with the craggy rocks below. The man stalked over to the edge and looked down. With a disdainful huff he grabbed the blubbering old man he had brought with him. With a grand heave he threw him clear across the gorge and was caught by several Gerudo on the other side.
Apolloni looked on with delight as Nabooru turned away in disgust, Ganondorf had returned. With a flurry of magick incantations and drawings imprinted into the air, the three of them floated over the gap and landed safely onto the other side. Ganondorf surveyed the scene as his eyes riveted on the four children. He took specific note of the young blond-haired child that looked remarkably like a boy. The child looked familiar but he couldn’t place where he had seen the kid.
A cry erupted from Link which startled the group. He was holding a young girl in his arms, crying as a shaft protruded from her stomach; Sora was squealing in panic as she tried her best to staunch the flow of blood from the wound. Saria had stepped in front of Link to protect him…