Chapter 21 - Sacking of the Castle
He stepped over the charred remains of the corpse lying at his feet; the acrid smell of burning flesh was blowing on the winds. Ash flew through his hair and attached itself to his clothes. Hyrule town was burning. The man skimmed the central plaza in disgust. They didn’t even put up a fight. Most of the town had been evacuated, save for a few elderly who couldn’t travel and those too stubborn to leave their homes. He regarded the castle burning on the higher hill overlooking the town, this certainly would not do.
The man turned to his commander, “Thanan, see to it those fires are put out at the castle. There are valuable resources we need there. I do not want them to be laid waste.”
“Yes my general!” Thanan gave a swift salute and was off like a shot, shouting orders to nearby soldiers to help assist in dousing the boiling flames.
General Naar paced over to the side streets leading to his ultimate objective. Even in the dwindling twilight he could see the barrier surrounding the temple. It was a shimmering, translucent field that encompassed the entire grounds of the building, its luminous, orange glow lit up the surrounding area with its light. Several of the men were huddled at the base of the barrier off to one side. They were fiddling with various contraptions.
“What is this?” Naar demanded, frightening the men at his sudden appearance behind them.
One of the braver men stood up amongst the others and gave a hurried salute, “We aren’t exactly sure sir! This was here when we arrived. It destroys anyone that touches it.”
“Really?” Naar was intrigued. He strolled up to the crackling aura. He could palpably feel the ripping energy coursing through the field. Almost imagining it, he was sure he could see the barrier almost bulge outwards in attempts to touch him. With a heave, he grabbed the neck of the soldier nearest him and threw him into the field. The sudden scream was instantly silenced as the man vaporized into nothing more than a bloody mist.
“Fascinating!” Naar commented, crossing his arms in thought. “Whoever did this is extremely talented. Quite remarkable.” He mused to himself.
Naar swept aside the men, cape billowing in the wind of the raging fires, completely indifferent to their frightened stares at his passing. It was clear that they were not going to get through that barrier by any means they had at their disposal. They needed more knowledge about this problem, there was still a lot they didn’t know about this temple. Too many questions and very few answers!
His thoughts were distracted when two men galloped up the main street sopping wet. Each leaped off their horses and stalked over to Naar, saluting briefly to their general.
Naar kept walking, “I assume you’ve come to tell me of your success?”
Keeping pace with him, both men hesitated slightly before the blond one spoke, “We were ambushed by a very powerful Gerudo man and two witches.”
Dual swords sliced through the air as each man groaned in swift, sudden pain. Talamir’s torso slumped off his waist as his face slammed into the cobblestone street. Timner fell face forward trying to catch himself as he was divided at the knees. Both men were cursing in the pain of their failure, Naar was heaving with rage at these two imbeciles.
Normally he would have destroyed these two idiots for their multiple disasters long before now. Why did he choose to make that stupid vow to their mother? She had died in childbirth. Each boy had grown to full maturity in the womb and had strained the woman every day. When the time came for them to be delivered, complications arose which prevented all from surviving; the doctor made the hasty decision to save the children from certain death. In her final death throes she made him vow to her to protect his nephews. Naar hadn’t expected things to turn out the way they did or he would have flat out refused.
With a puff of evaporating mist, the swords were gone as Naar looked down upon his idiotic nephews. What a disgrace they were to the grand campaign, couldn’t even kill a single boy! Not bothering to review his gory handiwork, Naar turned away. Talamir and Timner were struggling with voracious zeal to reconstruct their bodies.
It was Talamir that whined first, “But Naar, he was a powerful user of the dark arts!”
Naar kicked Talamir’s face so hard his upper body did a flip through the air as he hit the ground groaning. “Why is it that this infuriating child keeps getting away? There must be someth…did you say a male Gerudo?”
Naar knelt down and lifted the moaning Talamir up by the chin, “There was a Gerudo man there? And two witches?” His voice commanded attention, even Timner stopped attaching his legs as he raptly looked towards the conversation.
Slightly gasping from the pain of being lifted by his face alone, Talamir managed to rasp, “Yes…he had short red hair and a ruby inlaid into his forehead.”
Naar dropped his nephew with a grunt, “So the successor to the throne rises.” Naar ruminated more to himself than to the grumbling men at his feet. “Now things are getting interesting.”
Timner whispered to his brother as he dragged his right leg over to his bloody stump, “You should know when to shut the hell up around him.”
Talamir continued to rub his bruised face as he dragged himself over to his lower body, “I wish I could, but I keep forgetting.” Timner merely shook his head in disgust; why did his brother have to be so senseless?
Talamir cringed in throbbing pain as Naar smashed a boot heel into his arm, preventing him from reaching the remainder of his body, “You should be thankful I am bound by my vow to your mother or I would have new commanders!” Naar spit in Talamir’s face as he continued with venomous resolve, “Unfortunately for me, I have to uphold that vow or you two would be nothing but ash!”
Talamir cried out as Naar twisted his heel in further, “Now get up and get yourselves to the castle to assist Thanan in dousing the flames. No more failures or I shall string you both up in chains; a body part for each chain!”
Gasping as Naar released his arm from the pressure Talamir limply crawled over and reassembled himself. Timner was whole by this time and helped his degraded brother up onto his feet. Naar had already left them and was heading towards the castle, his lengthy, white hair swirling about his imposing figure.
“I truly think he hates me brother.” Talamir grimaced as he held his side during the excruciating process of restoration.
With his brother’s arm wrapped around his neck, Timner assisted him in walking a ways, “He regrets both of us. We probably shouldn’t have been born in his eyes. Only Ballos holds him to his pact, otherwise I’m sure we wouldn’t be here.”
Talamir sneered at the comment, “Yes, I guess we should all be thankful of this wonderful ‘gift’ that was bestowed upon us.”
Timner noted the sarcasm in his brother’s voice, “You know it was the only thing we could have done to save our people.”
“But at what cost?” Gently pushing away from his brother, feeling a bit steadier on his feet, “Is this the way we wish to live? To be remembered by?”
Timner looked around the town, at the broiling fires and smoking remains of the remaining citizens who chose to stay. He sighed, “We don’t have a choice anymore, and our hands are tied. This is who we are now.”
Each man was silent as they walked onward towards the castle to assist in quenching the raging pyres.
The castle had fared better than the rest of the town; the majorities of the fires was secluded in specific sections and were not spreading as quickly to adjacent areas. Various sorcerers were stationed on the upper hill and surrounding walls, casting spells to drown the heat of the conflagration; success was evident as Naar treaded up the hill to examine their progress. He spied a slender figure giving directions to several soldiers who raced into the castle to secure the interior.
Thanan was nowhere near the build of Naar but he held a commanding figure that inspired dread in all who met him. His grace and etiquette both on and off the battlefield was exemplary and wormed its way into Naar’s good graces over the course of years. Showing up shortly after the national pact was formed, Thanan was an anomaly to Naar. He did not know his origin or his heritage, he merely assumed he was a fellow Nevachrean, especially now with his sharing of their abilities.
Thanan was also Naar’s favored commander. They shared similar interests and much of the same humor. It was clear to those who viewed the pair that Thanan had secured his position as the literal right-hand man to the general. However, there were oddities about his character that even Naar had to take note of. Several specific tastes and preferences of Thanan put him on edge and gave the impression that he was not all there. Despite this, Naar could always rely on him to accomplish any task; he was invaluable.
“Any word on the status of our goal?” Naar questioned as he walked up beside Thanan.
Thanan barely gave Naar a hint of recognition at his entrance. He was quite comfortable with his general’s presence and seemed to have no fear of his volatile disposition. This quiet confidence both infuriated Naar but granted the man great respect in his eyes. Where most would cower with fear, Thanan would bravely stand up to him. He had some guts, Naar had to admit.
“It is still intact sir. Would you like to see it?” Thanan gestured towards the front gates.
With a rough nod, they were off down the path. They entered the main hall and were directed to a side passage by Thanan. Naar took the opportunity to behold the vast splendor that was Hyrule castle. Colossal marble pillars adorned the edges of the hall as impressive tapestries hung along the walls. Naar sneered at the opulence displayed in front of him. The sheer arrogance of the place revolted him. He turned to the side and spit on the tiled floor.
It was a few more turns and another staircase leading to an upper floor before they stopped presently at a set of double doors. With a grin, Thanan took both handles and pushed the frames apart revealing the vast library within. Even Naar gasped at the wealth of knowledge housed within the room. The chamber had three separate floors with ladders enabling access to each landing. Shelves filled with books reached up to the arched ceiling high above them.
“Extraordinary!” Naar exclaimed as his eyes expanded at the vast store of information contained within those tomes.
Thanan smiled, “Most of them are written in Hylian script, so they will need to be translated. But I assure you that whichever books you require we will get our sages on them right away!”
Naar stepped over to a nearby shelf and extracted a single, tattered tome and gazed at it. He swiped off the years of dust from its cover and felt the engraved ruins along its surface. He looked over at Thanan, “Do you think it’s here? What we need?”
Thanan merely shrugged, “Hard to say in this mess. It might be days before we find what we are looking for, or it could be years. That is a lot of books to navigate through.” He waved a hand at the rest of the room.
Naar agreed as he opened the book, several of its pages were loose at the bindings and were slowly falling out. Various deposits of silt and unknown flecks slipped off the pages and fell to the floor as he carefully skimmed the book. Such odd letters, he noted of the Hylian script. Surely there would be something in this vast library that would tell him of the fabled Triforce. He shuddered in anticipation, he was so close to his goal, but there were still many hurdles left to achieve it!
Shutting the book tight he placed it lightly on the nearby reading table, he walked back over to Thanan. “I want all of our sages locked within this room until they finish their job of translating and transcribing all these books. Notify me if they find anything with regards to what we seek. You can allow the prisoners to bring them food and provide any necessary entertainment if they please. I am retiring to my tent, see to it that nobody disturbs me, there is a highly interesting female that I’d like to get to know better.”
Thanan licked his scarred lips longingly, “Speaking of entertainment sir, there was found some lovely horses in the stables and two of them are quite able-bodied. Would you mind if I took one of the mares as my own?”
Naar studied Thanan’s eager eyes with curiosity, what a sick individual he was. What atrocious things went through that wicked mind of his? It really didn’t matter what strange passions the man had, as long as he maintained his usefulness, Naar really didn’t care. He certainly was an odd one though.
Naar waved a dismissive hand, “Go enjoy your horse. May she treat you well.”
Thanan saluted and practically pranced out of the library down the corridor. Naar had to admire the man’s enthusiasm, just wish he would channel it to more worthwhile pleasures. With a reverent grace, he slowly shut the two doors to the library and proceeded down the hall. He stepped back outside and examined the town below him. The fires were slowly abating; they had conquered the capital.
The army had reached the gates of the town and were situated just outside on the plains, poisoning the very ground with the tramping of a million boots, refuse and urine. The grass beneath their feet was nothing more now than churned mud and filth. Naar swept through the massive throng heading for the primary tent towards the center of the encampment. It had high wide-swept wings held up by arching poles at each of its corners. Emblazoned banners were strewn across ropes that traveled back to the center pillar that provided stability to the entire structure.
Naar swiped the flap aside as he looked upon his prize with glee. She turned around shocked at his appearance and frantically crawled backwards to get farther away from him. He merely laughed as he grabbed a leg and dragged her across the ground before flipping her onto the bed of furs.
“Now let’s see how unique you truly are!” Naar leered at the poor girl.