Chapter 45 - Breaking the Barrier
“And you simply play all day?” Ganondorf asked disbelievingly.
Saria nodded her head, “It’s all we knew how to do. Life was much simpler back then.” She mused.
Saria had finally gotten over her initial depression at seeing Talon being harshly punished. Now that she had a firm plan in place with Nabooru and Impa, she felt a lot more comfortable being around Ganondorf and keeping up the charade. There were nights she didn’t know if she could go on. Lying was a concept completely new to her.
Whenever Ganondorf asked what she had been up to, she regaled him with a variety of trivial things she did that day. Regardless of how inconsequential they were, Ganondorf continued to listen with an attentive ear. He would never interrupt and would also allow her to finish whatever she had to say. It was only recently that he started inquiring again about the nature of the Kokiri.
Ganondorf grunted, “That is a luxury we simply don’t have here in the desert.”
Saria turned her head to Ganondorf as they walked down the corridor, “Why can’t you simply have that here? Giana seems happy enough playing around with me.” She offered.
A brief smile broke his lips at her suggestion, “No Saria. We always have to be vigilant when living in the desert. When the sun rises into the sky, a punishing wind sears these lands, causing any unprotected soul to perish. When the moon climbs in the dark of night, a frigid gale pierces our homes and kills the unwary. No matter when it comes, the wind carries the same thing…death. That is why we cannot rest on our laurels at any waking moment.”
The Kokiri thought on that for a few moments, her wings slowing down their rhythmic beat as the gears in her head turned. “Well don’t you use magick? Don’t those witch elders have magick to change that wind?” She suggested.
Ganondorf scoffed at this notion, “Those witches wouldn’t even know what to do with that much power even if they had it! No, our magicks do not pass beyond the bounds of nature. There is only so much we can do with it. Now if only I had…” He let his fist and the conversation drop. “It need not matter.” He continued down the hall in silence.
The pair swept past a corner before a slight whiff caught Ganondorf’s nose. With one swift spin, he grabbed the woman before slamming her into the ground. Saria shrieked at seeing Impa gasping for air as Ganondorf strangled her larynx, leaning over the Sheikah scrutinizing her.
“What have we here?” Ganondorf sneered; tightening his grip on Impa’s neck.
Saria rushed up to them and began tugging on his arm, begging him to release her. “She is Impa! She has been assisting us all these cycles!” The panic of seeing her friend in misery made Saria remarkably compliant in revealing everything.
Without even looking up from Impa’s eyes, Ganondorf demanded firmly, “Assisting you? How?!” The woman struggled further. To keep her in check, he placed one knee on her abdomen and began pressing in.
“She helped Link, Talon, Zelda and me escape from those awful men. She made sure we found refuge here with the Gerudo, she-” Saria abruptly stopped as she realized what she had just said.
“Princess Zelda, huh?” Ganondorf said just above a whisper, his eyes intent on the Sheikah below him, the life force slowly draining out of her eyes.
Saria clapped a hand to her mouth as she tried in vain to put back in the secret she blurted out. “Did I say Zelda? I meant Zander!” She tried to counter. “Please don’t hurt Impa, she is a friend!”
Readjusting his grip on her neck, Ganondorf weighed his options at this juncture. How much would he benefit from having a Sheikah on his side if he purported to assist their cause? At length he relaxed his grip and released the knee that was digging into her stomach. “If she is a friend, then I should have no worries about her attacking. If she tries anything drastic, I will have no qualms in killing her.”
Impa immediately rolled to her side hacking out her lungs, desperate to get air into her body. After a few gulps, she managed to stammer, “How…did you know I was there?”
Ganondorf gestured to her loins, “Your monthly flow. It is uniquely different than any other Gerudo I’ve lived among. You made a careless mistake coming around me this time of month.” Impa flushed at his awkward reveal of her condition. She was right in keeping Zelda hidden away each orbit during these times. She would have been discovered long before now.
Saria was puzzled, “Monthly flow?”
Ganondorf rumbled, “Something you will never have to deal with child.”
Saria bristled at his comment, “I’m probably older than you Ganondorf!”
He raised a commanding hand for her to be still, “Why did you not choose to go with the others? Why stay when your duty was to your Princess?” He questioned, clearly well versed in the matters of the Royal Family.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures Ganondorf. You should know that.” Impa confuted, slowly rubbing her sore neck.
“You did not answer the question.” Ganondorf snarled.
Impa was about to expound on her statement when she noticed Ganondorf’s attention was riveted elsewhere. He looked beyond her down the corridor, evidently getting a message they were not receiving. She looked at him curiously and saw brief flashes of inner light dance across the ruby on his forehead. Was it some way of communication?
“No.” Ganondorf breathed. “It is too soon! Why are they implementing it now?” He roared.
Befuddled, Saria and Impa stumbled after Ganondorf as he raced down the corridors before flowing out into the glaring midday sun. Covering his eyes with his arm, he looked towards the sky and saw Kotake and Koume hovering just outside the aura. What were they up to? Several seconds passed before a huge shudder shook the entire compound. Ganondorf collapsed to the ground in agony as his heart beat frantically.
“What devilry are they causing? This is not what we agreed to!” He yelled.
Saria sidled up to him as she placed a comforting hand on his contorted form. He was clearly in a lot of pain, clutching at his chest as if his body was going to explode. Impa observed the witches high above them. They were drawing archaic diagrams in the sky and chanting in unknown tongues. A chill rolled down her spine as she realized what was coming.
Quickly taking Saria aside, Impa directed her firmly, “Saria, now is the time to put our plan into action. You secure the saddlebags and horses. I will see to it that Nabooru, Giana and Talon are with me when we meet you at the stables.”
Saria nodded nervously as another shockwave rocked the foundations of the fortress, causing one section of the structure to cave in. Several screams were heard before being silenced. The barrier was undulating in waves as it pulsated weakly, they could see clearer what lay beyond the malevolent shield. Impa dashed back into the fortress, hoping her objective had not perished in the previous collapse. Saria scrambled over to the stables to secure Epona and Harden for the journey. Ganondorf was barely aware of their absence as he writhed on the ground, clutching his chest in agony.
The next pulse shattered the barrier like a pane of glass. A huge beam of energy from the two sisters punctured the dome, blasting a hole through. Shimmering faintly before fading completely, the sun’s rays finally touched down on the compound for the first time in many cycles. Ganondorf’s heart stopped beating for all of a few seconds, he gasped in relief as a great weight was lifted off his body. He no longer had to maintain two individual barriers.
My lord! The enemy is attacking en masse. There are hundreds of them flooding the valley! They have constructed a bridge to cross the gorge on their own! The telepathic message from an elder manning the front barricade was panicky. He groaned as he shakily got to his feet.
Hold them off! Utilize the new weaponry the old man crafted for us. Do not let any of them through! Ganondorf ordered. He could feel the elder wincing at his strength of will.
He could see the guards clambering across the parapets setting up battle positions. At the first signal, the initial volley of arrows sailed through the air. They had improved upon the original formula of the poison. Instead of swelling the victims up before exploding, it bypassed the initial stage altogether. Within seconds, Ganondorf could hear slight puffs accompanied by men shouting as they most likely dove for cover.
That was not the only weapon they had created in the last few cycles, an apprentice was wheeling out several barrels filled with bombs. Inside each weapon was a concentrated blast of both poison and magick. Kotake and Koume were especially proud of this weapon. The Gerudo elder lit the first one before lobbing it into the mob, it exploded with incredible force. Any unfortunate grunts who were nearby were immediately vaporized, which caused a chain reaction with anyone else who happened to come in contact with their atomized ashes.
He knew they would be able to hold out for a time before needing assistance. Gazing up at the sky, it was clear the two witches weren’t going to float idly by on their brooms. They were gliding over to where the approaching Nevachrean army had reached an impasse. Each witch began lobbing magick bombs wreathed in flames and ice onto the heads of the Gerudo. Every unfortunate soul to be caught in their blast were swiftly immolated or frozen solid.
Ganondorf cursed their names and reviled the fact he was even raised by such traitors. Dismantling the barrier themselves was not part of the plan, nor was destroying it this early. He was expecting at least a fortnight to situate all the various pieces to the master puzzle before commencing the operation. Kotake and Koume were blocking all attempts at telepathy. He couldn’t even get through to them.
Leaving the valley in the capable hands of his subjects, Ganondorf moved ahead with the final touches, albeit prematurely. Sprinting down the decline, he swept past the whipping post and climbed up the ladder on the side of the massive portcullis structure leading to the desert. Skipping every other rung, he reached the top. Efficiently turning the mechanism, he lifted it just enough for a grown woman to creep under.
As his boots hit the dirt, he noticed a small flicker of light bobbing in the darkness of the stables perched up against the canyon wall. Furrowing his brow at this oddity, he paced over to the entrance and looked inside. The light had vanished, but he was confident in what he saw. Ears perked at the neighing of the horses, he investigated the stalls before coming to the final two.
“What do you think you are doing?” Ganondorf demanded of the Kokiri.
Saria yelped in fright as she dropped the final bag to the dirt with a clang. She spun around trying her best to look innocent. “I was…just trying to make sure the horses were set. You know, just in case we needed to escape.” She feebly broke a smile at him.
“You’re a terrible liar.” Ganondorf said disparagingly.
She was going to rebuke his statement when Nabooru rushed into the stables, shadowed closely by Impa and Talon, who held a frightened Giana in his arms. It became apparent they had hastily thrown on a simple, white shirt over his chest for cover. They had expedited their flight from the fortress. Ganondorf’s eyes widened in anger at these unforeseen events; too many things were gyrating wildly out of his control this day.
“My lord, Ganondorf!” Nabooru faltered, the abruptness of their meeting compelling her into formalities as a matter of habit.
He sneered at her, “What have we here? Trying to escape while the rest of us were under attack?” He advanced upon the group coldly, his hand out to the side drawing devilish energy, preparing to decimate them all.
“Ganondorf, stop! Please!” Saria screamed, she soared in-between them, holding her hands out like a shield. This would not happen again!
“They are deserters to their people; the penance is death!” Ganondorf raged, swiftly brushing the flying Kokiri to the side. Giana began crying as she buried her face in Talon’s chest, he looked on with firm resolve that this might be his last moments.
“We are leaving so we can help Link!” Saria divulged angrily.
The swirling magick crackled in his hand as he stopped in midstride, Ganondorf turned his face to Saria with sly cunning in his eyes. “You are leaving to assist him? Did I not send several Gerudo to ensure the task would be accomplished?” He questioned, probing deeper into what Saria knew.
She looked helplessly at Impa and the others but received no confirmation. They simply stood there waiting to see what Ganondorf would do. Sighing she did the only thing she could do well, tell the truth. “We are bringing Link the emerald I have around my neck,” she placed two fingers on the radiating stone, “and an ocarina that Impa has.”
Ganondorf’s eyes twisted to Impa as she shot a glare at Saria. “Is this true?” He probed flatly.
“It is. It would be pointless to have Link collect the other two sacred stones without the third and the ocarina to bind them together. Did you truly send him out not expecting him to succeed?” Impa shot back; her eyes a deathly calm.
“No, I did not send him on a mission I did not think he could complete.” Ganondorf responded, his mind a whirlwind of thoughts and ideas. This wasn’t exactly what he had in mind when first formulating this strategic move. Now that the witches had disrupted the original mission, maybe this was another way to fulfill the original objective? He needed to adapt to the changing situation or all his efforts would be for naught.
At length he released the energies sizzling around his outstretched hand. A collective sigh of relief was exhibited from the group. “I will join you then.” Ganondorf intoned, much to the shock and dismay of Nabooru and Impa. Far better to take matters into his own hands and help accomplish the mission than to sit back and let Kotake and Koume have their victory.
After a few moments of awkward silence, Ganondorf boomed, “Don’t just stand there like a bunch of imbeciles! Get everyone onto the horses and let’s go!”
Roused into action, Nabooru leaped up onto Harden as Talon handed up Giana to her. Straddling the fretful horse comfortably, she leaned back against her mother for comfort. Impa put one foot in the stirrup and hoisted herself onto Epona. After so many cycles of inactivity, she was bucking at the opportunity to flex her legs. Talon took another brown mare in the stall next to Harden while Ganondorf mounted his black stallion. The aged steed was nipping at the bit in anticipation of the ride. Ganondorf patted the neck of the beast soothingly, speaking soft words into its ears, it calmed down almost immediately.
“Saria, you are riding with me.” Ganondorf spoke. His tone did not give much leeway to refuse.
Reticently, Saria fluttered over to him, she inhaled suddenly when he reached out to grapple her and sit her roughly in front of him. She felt horribly stroppy as the Gerudo king wrapped his arms around either side of her to grip the reins of his horse. With a quick flick of the leather strap and a kick to the flanks, the horses bolted out of the stables into the courtyard.
Ganondorf brought his horse to a halt and looked upon the primary fortification of the fortress. He could hear the recurrent pounding of a battering ram hitting the wooden gates. It would only be a matter of time before they broke through. Looking higher to the ramparts, he noticed how few there were left of the defenders. He quickly summoned each of the four remaining elders.
Retreat to the colossus! Gather as many women as you can and make your way through the desert. Bring the old scientist with you! Ganondorf strummed. That old man seemed to have a knack for weaponry. It would be a waste to let him fall to the enemy.
Content with the confirming responses, he huffed and directed Nabooru and the others to follow him to the portcullis at the opposing end of the enclosure. Talon tried to direct his gaze away from the bloodied post that was nearby. Thankfully Nabooru redirected his attention when she was called upon to climb the ladder to the mechanism that would lift the gate higher so the horses could get through.
The first groups of women were just reaching the gate as Impa guided Epona under the spiked, metal bars. They were dragging the blubbering, feeble man with them. Several were already on horseback themselves. Ganondorf nodded to them as he signaled an elder to come follow him. He pointed out a small device tucked in the corner between the brick and the rock wall.
This is a bomb that will collapse the gate unto itself. Use it when the last of us is through. That should slow them down, enabling you to get to the colossus to set up defenses. Ganondorf directed.
Understood, my lord! The aged elder acknowledged.
“Mommy? Where are we going?” Giana asked fearfully looking up into Nabooru’s eyes.
“Shhh, dear. We are going somewhere safe. Just rest in my arms.” Nabooru soothed.
Ganondorf stared at the two of them absently before regaining his senses. At a command, he ordered the group to follow him through the desert. The elder watched the four horses ride across the dunes until they were nothing but pinpricks of black. A sudden eruption blasted a shockwave through the ground under her feet, her attention snapped back across the compound to see the army flooding in through the mangled barricade.
Those women better get over here quickly! We have no time left! The old woman stood idle as she waited. Seeing several groups of Gerudo sprinting towards her, she moved over to the device to ignite it.