Chapter 49 - Princess of Twilight
“What?” Kotake snorted groggily righting herself quickly on her broom. It had become apparently clear she was nudged out of her stupor.
“You were sleeping once more sister. Were you dreaming again?” Koume chortled, having some personal humor at Kotake’s expense.
Kotake looking around her and realized they were passing over the eastern mountain ridge bordering the desert, they were trailing it down southward towards the colossus. The moon was just cresting past its zenith. Memories of the previous days had come back to her in a flash. They had eradicated the Gerudo Fortress defenses, allowing the Nevachrean army to surge in and take command over their once proud home.
Slightly appalled at how their people, those that were left behind, were treated. They sailed back to General Naar and demanded answers for this abominable treatment. Naar dispassionately handled their complaints with ease, casually dismissing it merely as the friction of war during a very heated time. He assured them that in future engagements and interactions with the Gerudo things would proceed more smoothly and respectfully. Mollified, the witches accepted the answer and whisked off into the night.
“I was.” Kotake murmured; her thoughts adrift among the dark corners of her memory. “I had a vision, I believe.”
Koume’s eyes expanded with interest, “Oh? We haven’t had one of those recently have we sister?”
Kotake shook her head in agreement, “No we have not.”
“Do tell. What did your vision consist of?” Koume asked eagerly, eyes glistening with anticipation.
Sailing through the air on their brooms, Kotake surveyed the mass expanse of desert and spied the looming monolith in the distance. They began angling towards that direction as Kotake began recalling her dream. “It was the strangest thing sister. We were fighting against that youth, Link, in the temple of the gods. He was using our own magick against us!”
Koume gasped in dismay, “That is not possible.” She thought about it some more. “Do you think that is what will happen to us if we continue to assist Ganondorf and Naar in this endeavor to support Link?” She probed hesitantly.
Kotake shook her head slowly, “I don’t believe it was something that will come to pass. I feel like it was a vision of a former life or maybe it was another reality. I can’t be certain which.”
“How odd.” Koume grated. “There are so many mysteries surrounding that young man, so many prophecies are built up around his birth. Many don’t seem to make sense, yet all of them pinpoint him as the lynchpin to the future.”
Kotake bowed her head in assent, she was also well aware of the prophecies Koume spoke of. The future was forked into various paths and almost all of them were dark and ended in nothingness. Only one seemed to offer any sort of hope for the Gerudo. It was quite unclear as to Link’s involvement, only that he was essential to the survival of their people.
The moment Link returned from the future, they felt the repercussions of his actions. They didn’t quite understand what had happened or who it was that traveled through time, but both witches became keenly aware that the future had been altered. Their first suspicion was when Ganondorf was imprisoned and that fake letter forged in their name was found on his person. They suspected it had something to do with this time traveling individual, they kept a close eye on the castle and eventually pinpointed the anomaly.
“Regardless sister,” Kotake crooned, “we must assist this impudent boy. It is the only way we will gain access to the Triforce.”
Koume swore an oath, “None of our magicks amount to anything compared to what the Goddesses laid down. If we had no need for that whelp, we’d simply access the Master Sword ourselves!”
Kotake grunted in approbation, “Speaking of which, if we are to reach Nevachrea tonight, we must speak with her.”
Koume understood who she meant, even without the name ever being spoken. Meetings with this individual were tenuous at best. “Hmmm, looks like we must fulfill our end of the bargain to get what we require.”
Touching down on one of the outstretched hands of the statue carved into the monolith, the two witches entered the temple. They startled several Gerudo with their appearance. Despite their involvement in the siege at their fortress, none of the women dared confront them on the matter. Giving the two a wide berth, the Gerudo filtered around the two sisters as they stalked down the passages of the inner complex.
Kotake and Koume stopped briefly at the makeshift laboratory set up in a side chamber that was filled with cobwebs and caked with dust. The golden brick glowed softly amongst the warm torches littered along the walls providing the only source of light. Terrance was readjusting his oversized glasses on his nub of a nose, irritated whenever they slipped off. He glanced up from his work to see the two crones waltz in pompously. He sniffed in disgust and turned back to his intensive work.
“Have you made the final adjustments to that weapon yet?” Kotake warbled with disdain for the enfeebled man.
“We need to have the bomb ready by the time we finish our errand to the south.” Koume clarified the timeline.
“Bah!” Terrance flapped his hand, their noses twitching in crankiness at his visual insult. “You can’t rush art. How many cycles have I made weapons for you? How many cycles have I been unpaid for my services? How many cycles have I-”
“Silence!” Crowed Kotake, her voice furious, “Your life hangs by a thread and you dare to insult us, you old coot!”
“It is Mr. Mizumi to you!” Terrance blubbered. He finally had enough of the mistreatment by these rapscallions. “A good look in a mirror will sort out who is older, you old bags!”
“What?” Flustered Koume. “How dare you insinuate that our ages are anything above two hundred!”
“Humph!” Terrance grumbled with clear animosity. “I frankly don’t care how old you are. You can go croak on your own wrinkles!” With a huff, he turned his back on the two witches and continued his experiments. This was clearly the wrong thing to do.
Terrance gasped in shock as his right foot was encased in ice, disabling him from moving from where he stood. “You will learn to respect the elders of the Gerudo, especially those that have watched over and guided this great nation throughout the cycles.” Kotake sneered, a deadly glint in her eyes.
Terrance screamed in agony as his foot melted away in the burning fire from Koume, leaving nothing but a seared stump. Lacking balance, he crumpled to the ground in a heap, his glasses flinging off onto the brick floor. The implausible notion of losing his foot was flooding his brain, allowing him to focus on little else but the pain.
“You will get up and you will continue working on our pet project and there will be no more complaints!” Koume seethed. With a jerk of her hand, she utilized her magick to sling Terrance back up onto his feet before ramming him over his work bench.
Groaning from the new injuries, Terrance struggled shakily up to a standing position, employing both hands on the table to keep his weight balanced. He shot the two witches a scathing look that they promptly ignored. With a flourish of their elongated sleeves, they hobbled out of the room clearly in great humor at his misery.
“I think that went well sister.” Kotake cawed jovially. She cocked her head as they walked down the corridor. “Do you think we were a bit too harsh on him?”
“Nonsense!” Koume refuted. “He is just a male. Moreover, he is not our king. Who cares what happens to him? Just so long as he gets the job done!”
They both chuckled at this simple truth. They continued on their singular objective, making their way through the winding passages and chambers of the complex temple which was the last refuge of the Gerudo during these dark times. Their ultimate goal was the mirror room, the exterior amphitheater was built into the backside of the colossus many millennia ago before even Kotake and Koume took over their predecessors’ jobs as spiritual leaders of the Gerudo.
Both women were initiates in the arcane arts when tasked with leading the future of the Gerudo nation. There would always be a king of the Gerudo, one who would lead their people to continued prosperity. However their precursors involved them in one of the greatest secrets of their tribe. Through the use of the dark magicks acquired from a uniquely different world, they were able to control the birthing of all male children. By keeping the culture wrapped around one king who could be controlled, they could manipulate the male to what they desired the Gerudo to achieve.
Unfortunately for Kotake and Koume, something along the way went awry. Cycles of plotting and planning, ciphering down the genetic lines to produce the ultimate Gerudo male provided them one of the most rebellious kings ever conceived. Neither witch could understand where they went wrong with their calculations; their intense prophecy readings turned up nothing, it was as if the man was possessed by an inner desire to rule outside of what they insisted for him.
They gazed upon the black stone standing at one end of the central enclosure with reverence. They stepped up to the central dais before looking at each other with uncertainty. Rotating the mirror so that it faced the rock, they sketched special pentagrams in the air as they summoned the dark powers of the Twili to activate the portal.
The inner blackness of the mirror sprung to life, multitudes of circular arcs spiraled in tightening rings across its surface. A beam of grey light flared across the arena from the depths of the mirror, resting on the opposing stone, stretching deep into the rock beyond what looked visually possible. A revolving, spherical hallway of mysterious energy appeared. Neither witch had ever dared to enter the realm of the Twili. They knew very little of that world and were uncertain of how to return from that dreadful place.
In time they began to see a shadowy figure slowly walking towards them from the inner gloom of the twilight corridor. The dark skinned woman was cloaked in a midnight cape, a black snakeskin belt held up a murky sash wrapped around her waist that did little but cover one leg fully. Elaborate runes that shone an iridescent blue adorned the two gauntlets that she wore on each arm. It was clearly ceremonial but neither Kotake nor Koume could read the unknown script. Her lengthy, auburn hair was hanging down past her shoulders and clasped together by an indescribable brooch. She truly looked the epitome of royalty.
The instant her foot touched the moonlit stone her physical manifestation disappeared, warped into the shadows on the floor. The two witches tracked her movements intensely as she swept from shadow to shadow, getting closer to their position. Within moments they felt the unsettling sensation of something stepping into their innermost being. They looked down to see the outline of the woman’s shade rise up between the two of them.
“What is it you want of me? As I’ve told you before, there is nothing further I can teach you without the payment we agreed upon.” The woman spoke proudly.
“We need to know your secret art of teleportation.” Kotake spoke, feeling awkward talking to a shadow on the ground.
“We have need of such magick to transport to somewhere far away.” Koume finished, aware that this woman was sly beyond measure, best not to reveal their entire hand.
A lilting giggle echoed throughout the amphitheater, causing facsimiles of laughter that made her mirth sound utterly eerie. The shadow responded slowly, with clear mocking tones, “After four hundred cycles and you just now decide you want to learn that from our tribe?”
Flustered at her cocky attitude, Kotake fumbled slightly, “We just never had a need for such abilities until recently.”
Koume added hastily, “We humbly ask that you teach us this hallowed magick, like you’ve taught us all these cycles, Princess Midna.”
Both witches felt it prudent to be deferential to this creature of twilight, they each bowed low to the shadow in their midst. A cackling laugh reverberated through the shade before simply replying flatly, “No.”
Kotake’s bulging eyes snapped open, “What?”
“Why not?” Koume intoned, with a slight hint of a whine.
“Not without that which you promised me. I am a patient woman, but your incessant stalling is trying my fortitude.” The two hags groaned as each clutched their chest, a heavy burden was placed on their hearts and it was getting harder to breath. “Do not forget who taught you everything you know to further your own fruitless ambitions. Your petty string pulling of the Gerudo is of no consequence to me. I assisted you only so that you may act as my hands to acquire that which I desire: the Fused Shadow.”
The witches trembled at the might of the Twili’s power. the Fused Shadow was an accursed relic that was created ages ago, in a time long since forgotten. It was the physical manifestation of magick so dark and dangerous that it was destroyed. Split into several pieces, they were given by the Goddess Hylia to the light spirits that pledged allegiance to her. They were to guard these profane artifacts until the end of time. This unholy expression of magick was once used by an ancient race known only as ‘The Interlopers’, beings that were intent on claiming the Triforce for themselves.
Midna continued caustically, “If you do not have what we agreed upon, then our conversation is over. You have wasted my time.”
Both witches felt her presence slipping from their shadows. Kotake cried out in desperation, they still needed her assistance! “Wait! We have one piece.”
A slight hesitation was felt in the darkness, Koume surged onward with the remainder of their news, “It was not easy to kill a light spirit for this piece, but we give this to you in return for one more session to learn your arts.”
Between the two of them, they produced a black, horned helmet. Its presence seemed to suck the very light from around it. It was fractured around the bottom revealing only one unblinking eye where it would have gone over the bearer’s face. Malevolent energies were spiraling outward from its structure. A vertex of dark magick was permeating the air around the trio. Kotake and Koume could feel the yearning of Midna as her shadow reached upward to grasp the object.
“So do we have a deal?” Kotake said smugly.
A chill rustled their robes as Midna’s shadow left their own. They saw it further down the enclosure near the black stone. “I’m afraid not. I asked for the entire Fused Shadow, not just a single piece. I’ve assisted your nation well beyond what I should have, now is the time I claim my due. I will hold onto this piece as insurance that you will come with the other three. Once I have all four pieces rightfully back where they belong, then I will deign to teach you further. Not until then.”
“That’s not fair! We worked hard for that piece!” Koume snarled, pointing a gnarled finger at the flitting shade.
“Your troubles are not my concern.” Midna said coolly. “If you truly cared about the livelihood of your people, like I do mine, you would spend less time on this war and more time getting me the last three pieces. Only through the assistance of the Twili can you hope to defeat this threat.” If they could see her face, she would be smirking cruelly.
“So are we to just abandon all those in our care to go chasing after these things?” Kotake asked flummoxed.
“They are spread out all over the land. It would take orbits to find them all!” Koume smoldered. Blast this princess! They had simply no leverage on her at all!
Midna reformed within the spiraling vortex stretching inward deep into the stone, she turned to smile at them. “Then I suggest you start flying. Time is not on your side.” She raised her hand to close the portal but stopped midway. She turned her head to the witches before interrogating, “Do you know of a light dweller who came through this way five moons ago?”
Kotake and Koume looked at each other quizzically. They shrugged before turning back to Midna. “Nothing we have ever heard of.” Kotake offered.
“Was it someone important to you?” Koume probed, eager to find something to blackmail against this woman.
Midna barely shook her head, “No. This light dweller came to us asking for information, leaving only just recently. I was curious if you knew anything about someone using this portal without your knowledge.” At the bewildered looks of the two crones, Midna gathered all the information she needed. “I thought as much.” With a wave of her hand, the portal closed and the light from the mirror faded. The surface of the rock was flat once more, leaving the two witches alone in the silence of the night.
So when do you think we should tell the others? Sora intoned in Saria’s mind.
Saria hummed nonchalantly as she laid out her bedroll in the particular way she liked it. Standing up she looked down at the bag satisfied, she nodded before responding back. “When we get closer to Nevachrea, I don’t think we should trouble them just yet.”
You know Impa would recognize who it is. Sora affirmed jestingly.
“Are you saying I should reveal our visitor to her now?” Saria asked.
Yes. At least confide in the one person who would understand the significance. Sora proposed.
“Who are you talking to?” The voice said from within her shirt.
Gasping, Saria peeked down inside her shirt to see her little guest, she had completely forgotten that she had the visitor placed inside her tunic. It had been a long time since she talked so casually to Sora openly like this. For those not well versed about what occurred seven cycles ago, it would appear to any bystander that she was quite loopy talking to herself.
“I’m sorry. I can’t believe I never told you!” Saria tittered. “Quite a few cycles ago, I almost died.” The little voice inhaled at the news. “I know! But Sora saved me, which is why you don’t see my fairy anymore. She is inside me now. I can hear her speaking to me. She can be very noisy sometimes.” She added as an afterthought.
Well, if you want me to stop talking, I will! Just don’t expect me to speak again, even if you want me to! Sora pouted.
“Oh, don’t be like that Sora! I didn’t mean it.” Saria laughed. Her smile slowly faded as she got nothing back but silence.
“Did she leave you?” The voice asked.
“No.” Saria said gloomily. “She can’t ever leave me. We are joined as one now. Her thoughts are mine, her feelings and emotions are extensions of me. Sora is just a bit upset right now, she’ll come around eventually.”
“Sounds dreamy.” The little voice bubbled. “I went looking for ways how to do that.”
Saria peeped down into her shirt once more, “Wait. Don’t all fairies know how to do that?”
“Well, yes…that is true. But mine is a special case.” The voice explained.
Saria looked up at the others. Giana was helping Talon feed Epona and Harden while Nabooru was setting up their bedrolls for the night. Impa had chosen to sleep off by herself next to a wayward tree. Ganondorf started the fire with his magick and was slowly increasing its strength. They had traveled hard these past few days, allowing little room for rest. They were within a few more moons of the Nevachrean capital of Glaun’rung. Only a few more days until Saria could see Link again! How happy he would be!
Saria smiled, “Yeah, I get what you mean.”