Chapter 38 - Conspirators in Crime
The uproar they had caused in the camp was notable. The two of them landed amidst the multitude of burly men, demanding that they be taken to their leader. None of the men needed any more incentive to slice their throats than that. The first few attackers were either frozen into blocks of ice and immediately shattered or burnt to nothing but ashes, the rest of the brutes stayed a healthy distance back after that first skirmish. With great reluctance, they escorted the two hags to the central, spired tent residing towards the front of the horde.
Naar glanced up from his locket. Quickly snapping it shut before tucking it back into his armor, wiping a swift tear from his cheek. Mentally steeling himself for dealing with the arrogant interruption, he stormed up to the guard before snapping, “I requested that I was not to be disturbed at this time! Why do you bring this mess in here?” He roared as he dismissively flicking his hand in the direction of the two females.
“You should honestly have a bit more respect for your elders!” Kotake fumed as she sidestepped past the guard and brazenly entered the tent.
“We come with great tidings and this is how we are treated? Tsk, tsk, sister, they really do need to be taught a lesson!” Koume scoffed as she followed behind her sister. Naar’s eyes opened wide at their shameless behavior.
“You have five seconds to explain what it is you are doing here before I reduce you to nothing but dirt!” Naar threatened with growing malevolence to his tone.
“Ho, ho, ho, quite a temper we have on this one!” Kotake joked with her sister.
“He, he, he, I think we’ve dealt with this before, haven’t we?” Koume agreed jovially.
Angered at their impertinence, he swiftly summoned a gladius before swinging it down upon the head of the nearest hag. The sword shattered in his hand as it struck the barrier the witch was able to conjure at the last second. Shards went flying everywhere as Naar was knocked flat onto his rear from the blow. Within seconds he blasted them both with a beam of pure energy. The two sisters retaliated with a blend of their magicks. The two forces collided at the center of the tent, pulsing outward a huge shockwave that reached the furthest edges of the camp. The guard was knocked completely unconscious by the discharge.
“You have some skill you filthy witches, I will give you that!” Naar exclaimed.
Naar knew power when he saw it. The two witches were calm and determined to win the battle of wills. He always respected opponents who had as much power as he did. He respected them even more when they finally fell to his blade. With great exertion, he stood back up to his feet and pressed forward towards the women, his power palpitating in waves towards their combined energy. Little beads of sweat began to form on their temples, clear signs that he was ultimately winning. He smirked as they attempted to redouble their efforts.
The fire witch ducked out of the conflict before levitating off to his right, she conjured a fireball and hurled it at him. He rolled out of the way silencing his own attack. The ice witch free to move once more, attempted to head him off at the pass. The table behind him burst into flames as the chair in front hardened into solid ice. Both witches were floating in the air summoning more balls of deadly magick. With the deftness from decades of practice, Naar called two daggers into his hands.
He swiftly threw them at each witch, so concentrated they were on casting they didn’t notice the daggers until they were embedded into their shoulders. The magick evaporated into the air as they collapsed to the floor. Naar huffed as he paced up to the miscreant hags, he was going to enjoy killing them. He hadn’t felt this challenged in a good, long while.
“Stop! We can help you!” Kotake raised up a hand, erecting a quick barrier around them both.
Naar raised an eyebrow at this unforeseen twist. He had half expected them to be assassins making a futile attempt on his life. “Go on.” He commanded calmly.
A quick wave of Koume’s hand dispersed the blades entrenched into their arms. With the pain mostly gone, she hobbled up onto her feet, still beyond the protective aura being produced from her sister. Lightly brushing down her robes, she stared up at the imposing general. With a slightly haughty tone, she began, “We came not to be your enemies, but your allies. We have come to help you eliminate one of your greatest problems.”
Naar had a feeling what problem that could be, based on their ethnic garb. “You have my ears, do continue.” He grabbed a chair that wasn’t frozen and slid it beneath him before sitting coolly. “Could you diffuse the magick you’ve made in my tent?” He motioned to the flaming table and frozen chair. His voice was courteous but it was clear that it was not to be disobeyed.
Feeling more comfortable at his changed demeanor, they whisked the spells into oblivion. The table was scorched but was still serviceable. The chair didn’t fare as well. Releasing the aura that surrounded them, Koume stepped forward with her sister. They maintained a healthy distance of several paces between them and the general.
“We feel it would be mutually beneficial that we help you secure the Gerudo nation.” Kotake began.
“We know of a way we can eliminate Ganondorf’s barrier so that you can invade and harm him.” Koume offered.
Naar conjured up a glass of wine. Reclining back into the chair after taking a sip, he looked equably at the two witches. “And why would you offer me this deal? What is preventing me from just killing you two outright and still accomplishing my goal? They’ll eventually have to dismantle that shield if they hope to survive the next cycle. They have to be low on food and water, something I’m sure you two are perfectly aware we don’t need.” He leered as he took another sip of the delicious wine.
“Says the man who dines on fine drink.” Kotake muttered under her breath.
“Indeed sister, what a-” Koume started.
Startling them both, Naar spoke over their hushed conversation with veiled menace, “I drink because I enjoy the taste, not because I personally care for its value for sustaining my body. Either explain the reasoning for your offer or die by my hand, I personally don’t care which.”
Kotake snorted indignantly as he nonchalantly sipped again, “We firmly believe that Ganondorf is leading the Gerudo on the wrong path to prosperity.”
Koume chimed in with a cackle, “We want to make sure we are on the winning side in return for sparing our people.”
“Traitors then.” Naar mused. “Well then, I don’t see any reason not to hear you out.”
Kotake dove right into her explanation, “We can dispel the barrier around our fortress, for we are the ones who created it.”
Koume filled in the remaining details, “Ganondorf is the centerpiece of the spell. Without him, the entire aura falls apart. It is physically taxing on his heart.”
Naar rubbed his beard absently as he listened to the two crones, “So the barrier around the Temple of Time is of your doing?” They both nodded in agreement. Naar continued after their affirmation, “I’ve spent the last few cycles reading up on the Master Sword, the Triforce and many other delectable pieces of history and knowledge. Removing the barrier isn’t the only obstacles in my path.”
Kotake waggled a gnarled finger in the air, “That is where we can assist you. You mayhap have heard of a youth named Link?”
A low grumble signified the fact. Koume chortled at Naar’s grimace as the memories of the boy returned, “He has just recently been sent on a fool’s errand, a quest for the remaining sacred stones not currently in possession of the Gerudo.”
Naar gauged if he should reveal the location of the sapphire, ultimately deciding it wouldn’t do him any harm. “A fool’s errand indeed, I hold the Zora Sapphire. That deplorable runt would have to come to the heart of my army to wrest it from me. He would not get within leagues of my person before being cut to ribbons.”
Kotake flashed a nasty grin before bravely stepping forward towards Naar, “Might I suggest we enable Link to complete his mission?”
Naar’s chair flung backwards as he shattered the glass onto the floor. He stood up to his full commanding height, eyes glowering at the two unfazed witches. “What would ever possess me to allow that whelp to access the Master Sword?!”
Koume raised both hands up in mirth. She was clearly enjoying his anger at their proposal. “Naar, please sit back down and let us explain the plan to you. My sister and I have gone over this a dozen times, it is flawless.”
Their heated conversation had gone on late into the night. The sun was just cresting the horizon as the two witches sailed off into the morning blue. Several brutes looked up from their morning meals wondering what the shrinking specks in the sky were.
Their horse had vaporized several miles back, catapulting the two of them onto the ground. Their quick reflexes prevented any serious injuries from occurring as they lightly landed on their feet. Apolloni had willfully left a hopeless situation. She wasn’t sure if the mission could be completed now, but they had to try. Aveil shared a knowing look before they set off on foot towards the small village at the base of the gradual decline.
It took the better part of an hour to reach the hamlet, there were over a dozen buildings enclosed behind a wall of wooden pikes. There appeared to be only one entrance to the town, guarded by several garbed men armed with spears. Opting out of engaging in unnecessary battles, the two Gerudo vaulted over the back wall of the town. They landed silently on the dirt paths of the village, quickly dashing to the shadow of a nearby structure.
Their ears pricked up at the sound of stomping hooves rumbling closer. They darted from shadow to shadow getting a good view of the gated entrance. The sentries blew a bugle that echoed through the chill, night air. The gates swung open with creaking moans. A large group of horsemen entered in, neatly filling out the town courtyard with their bulk.
Apolloni’s eyes centered on their leader; she observed the body resting over the pommel of the saddle, it was Malon. She narrowed her eyes as the rider slumped off the horse with slovenly abandon. He signaled several of the guards to drag Malon off of the steed and carry her into the nearby house. Without further delay, she motioned to Aveil to follow her around the perimeter of the walled settlement. They slinked up to the back windows of the building, making sure to stay out of the light of the hanging lanterns.
The two women peeked over the window ledge. They regarded the situation as the man ordered the two guards to roughly dump Malon’s limp body onto the bed set up in the far corner. It was clear Malon was not doing well, she was lethargic and barely able to stay awake. If the arrowhead was not removed soon and any internal damage healed, she would most certainly die before the night was out. The man spoke gruffly to his two sentries, loud enough for the two Gerudo to eavesdrop.
“I need the doctor in here now! She is no use to me dead!” The man cawed.
Both men quickly saluted before hastening out into the hall, hailing the doctor. The leader was tapping his foot impatiently. After a few minutes, an old man came in with a bag full of medical equipment. Promptly ignoring the aggravated man standing by the door, the doctor slowly strode over to the bed where Malon lay.
“How long has she been like this?” The specialist asked in hushed tones, surprise evident in his voice.
“How should I know?!” The leader snapped. “Can you fix her?”
The medic shrugged as he turned back to the poor woman, “Perhaps, I can’t guarantee anything. She seems to have been injured a good while ago.”
“Just make her better again. I have need to speak to her tomorrow!” With an irritated snort, he stormed out of the room slamming the door behind him.
The old man shook his head before dedicating himself to the task at hand. He examined the broken shaft still lodged in Malon’s ribcage. He bowed his head in silence a bit, as if praying for her soul before the invasive operation. The doctor opened up his medical bag and pulled out a syringe the size of his hand; swiftly stabbing it near the arrow lesion, he injected the entire contents into Malon.
The man, who was clearly a surgeon, fastened to his head a pair of odd-looking scopes. He manipulated them in front of his eyes before leaning in close to her chest. Lacking any sort of modesty, he cut through her ivory robe and tore her clothes apart, revealing her round firm breasts. Completely oblivious to her budding sexuality, he brought forth a scalpel and began to make an incision on either side of the wooden shaft.
Aveil gently squeezed Apolloni’s hand as she looked on the operation. Despite killing multitudes of Hylians and other foul beasts, she still felt slightly sick at the sight of someone operating on another. Annoyed at Aveil’s weakness for these sorts of things, Apolloni jerked her hand away from hers. Aveil wilted at her reaction but dared not turn away from the window.
The surgeon placed an unknown device into the crevice of the incision he had previously made. He started cranking the opening wider with every turn of the device. Malon’s eyes shot open as she began shrieking bloody murder. The doctor yelled for several sentries to come hold her down. They gripped her arms and legs firmly. She thrashed around as the man slowly opened up the body cavity to unnatural lengths. Aveil bit her lip hard as she looked on with misery at Malon’s plight.
Seeing the objective in sight, the man reached into her body and slowly withdrew the entire shaft with spear tip intact from her ribs. He held her torso still as he examined closer the injury the arrow had wrought. He sighed in relief. It had only punctured one of her lungs and not her heart. The procedure would be significantly simpler. Cranking a few more rotations on the device, eliciting shrill cries from Malon, he set to work immediately on repairing the damage to her lacerated lung.
Aveil tugged on Apolloni’s leggings, her head snapped to her subordinate with exasperation. “What is it?” Apolloni hissed.
“Can we find a place to turn in for the night?” She queried; exhaustion palpable in her voice.
Apolloni sighed before looking around the village for potential locations, “I don’t think the people in this village will be agreeable to us staying with them openly.” She spotted a nearby stable where the men were filtering in their horses for feeding and rest. She pointed off in that direction. “We’ll sleep in there for the evening. Follow me.”
They slipped back into the shadows and disappeared into the night.
The first rays of light filtered in from the window, the blinding light tracking across her face. Malon blinked dazedly as she attempted to move her arm to shield her face from the glaring sun. She groaned in anguish when violent stabs of pain flashed through her ribs, she couldn’t even hold her tender side for it only brought more pain. She dejectedly dropped her arm to the bed, content with letting the agony subside slowly over the course of time. She noticed she was covered up in plain white sheets and was lying in a bed inside what appeared to be a log cabin.
“So you are finally awake, my dear.” The brusque voice startled her greatly, forcing her body into more spasms at the shock of the jolt. She grated heatedly.
“Where…am…I?” Malon racked her body with each individual word, her breath coming out in forced gasps.
The man was silhouetted against the window, his features in darkness against the glaring sun shining just beyond him. He was purposefully hiding his identity from her. He appeared to be a tall, gangly man with a light bit of paunch to his belly. He had his hands clasped behind his back and he hunched over ever so slightly, a physical birth defect no doubt. She could tell by his outline that he had a very elaborate mustache but she couldn’t decipher any other details about him.
“After all these long cycles, you have stumbled across my doorstep; to think that I would meet you here of all places!” The man squawked enthusiastically.
Malon shut her eyes briefly, she didn’t feel well enough for these stupid games. “What…do…you…want?” She exhaled sorely.
The man laughed heartily, sounding like a dying crow. “What do I want? You know, that is a very good question! I haven’t fully decided yet! Finding you amongst those Gerudo was a real stroke of providence for me. Tell me my dear Malon, where is your father?” A slight hint of menace entered his tone.
Malon studied his shape carefully at this question. Who was he? How did he know her name, not to mention her father? Her breathing getting increasingly labored, she managed to croak, “Who…are…you?”
“Ah yes, the inevitable question presents itself! I can’t believe you could have forgotten me so easily. If I recall, it was both you and that stupid Kokiri brat that got me fired and left me homeless! Penniless!” The resentment clear in his voice as spittle crossed the room from his accusations.
Malon’s eyes grew wide at the realization of who stood before her. The man slowly came into view as he walked towards her bedside. “You!” She exhaled.
“Yes me, so glad you finally recognized me! The ‘greedy, backstabbing’ Ingo! The one you got fired! It is so good to see you after all this time Malon.” He leered at her prone form.
Malon couldn’t take anymore. She swiftly passed out…