Chapter 52 - Reawakening the Past
“I want no part in what is going ta happen tomorrow.” Talon grumbled, soothing down Giana’s ginger hair as she slept calmly by his side.
Impa nodded her head as she pulled up the covers on Ashley, his eyes drooping with the weight of his exhaustion. Despite the fact that they were kept inside the inn for the past few days, Francis found much for the kids to do. They had been cleaning and reorganizing the rooms. The place had never looked cleaner and if the plan ultimately succeeded tomorrow, Francis would be the proud owner of the first building to be refurbished in Glaun’rung.
“I understand Talon.” Impa soothed calmly, pressing a gentle hand on Ashley’s forehead before murmuring a few small words. Within seconds the boy had passed out and was in blissful slumber. “These children are the future of the world we are going to create for them. The less they have to see of these horrors, the better.”
Ingo grunted in agreement. He had been sitting in a chair along the opposite wall watching the bedtime rituals of the two children. “As much as I hate to admit, even Ashley deserves a chance to live a life free from the strife Naar and his army have brought.”
Talon gave an inquiring look towards Ingo. The two of them had always had a strained relationship and their reunion a few nights ago was no different. It wasn’t until the second day that they finally spoke to each other and settled their differences. It was tense for a while, but it seemed all had been forgiven on both sides. Malon had been thankful that Talon was equitable enough to work with Ingo and his brother in assisting Ashley and Giana around the inn.
Ingo’s reflections over the death of his family still ran deep and he never did trust Ashley with anything of value and was overly protective of Giana despite the little girl already having a plethora of guardians at her beck and call. During the rare times they allowed the two to play out back near the garden, he would always be watchful of the boy. Ingo gradually loosened his vigil on Ashley as he saw how dutiful he worked around the place, tidying up the pub even into the wee hours of the night.
“I think I’m gonna turn in fer the night.” Talon grunted as he lifted his legs up onto the bed and scooted closer to Giana, nestling her tiny body into the crook of one of his arms. Hiding out in the inn for the past few moons had taken its toll on everyone, nerves were shot and tensions were high. “Give my regards ta the rest, I’ll watch over the young’ns up here.”
Impa smiled as she quietly stood from Ashley’s bed and strode over to the door, she looked in Ingo’s direction expecting him to follow. The man took one final look of regret at Talon and Giana, resting peacefully in their bed before standing and following Impa out into the hall.
“I know this will sound odd,” Impa began as she lightly closed the door. “but there is something I must do with Princess Zelda tonight and we will not be attending the meeting. Please see to it that the others understand.”
Ingo smiled as he brushed his mustache with his forefingers, “You have my word, my lady.” He spoke chivalrously.
“Thank you.” Impa beamed. Being around Francis truly did do wonders on his brother, she mused.
The two of them contentedly strolled down the hallway, taking the stairs one at a time as they looked through the rails at the group gathered at the largest table in the pub nearest the roaring fireplace. It was getting uncomfortable living in close proximity to Ganondorf and Apolloni together. They were slithered up next to each other in the corner chair, her body disgustingly draped over his lap like some parasite. Her disposition had improved considerably since Ganondorf’s return. There was some odd sounds emanating from their room each night, Impa shuddered at the thought.
Link was sitting opposite Ganondorf with Malon and Zelda flanking him. Saria, not to be left out, sat in a chair kitty corner to Link’s position. Francis had called the meeting tonight after extensive reconnaissance on the Temple of Ballos, as the group seemed to have coined it. More acolytes were getting suspicious at the unusual activity within his pub and the time was soon coming before their cover was busted. The time to strike would have to be soon.
All eyes turned to Impa and Ingo as they reached the bottom step. She turned to gently rap her fingers on Zelda’s shoulder, snagging her attention. Zelda looked up curiously, “Yes?”
“We have to go somewhere princess.” Impa said softly, whispering so as to not be overheard.
Zelda looked confused. It had been a long time since she was referred to so formally in conversation. “Is something wrong?” She asked nervously.
Impa smiled as she shook her head, “No, but there is something we must do tonight, for we may not get another chance at it.”
“What are we to do? How do you know this?” Zelda asked, slight anxiety rising in her voice at Impa’s calm determination.
Impa exchanged a knowing look with Saria, who was straining to listen in, before continuing, “Let’s just say a little fairy told me.”
Link, who was close enough to hear the conversation, cocked his head at this peculiar statement, “Can I come with you two?”
Impa frowned in disapproval, “I’m afraid not, Link. Maybe in the future, you may, but for now your presence is required here.” She gestured to the rest of the group sitting around the table. “Don’t worry,” she continued as she saw the apprehensive look on Francis’ face, “Zelda and I are well versed in ensuring we are not seen. You do not need to worry about us out there.”
With one final touch on the arm, Zelda got up from the table. She gave one last look around. Ganondorf’s face was impassive, she couldn’t read what he was thinking. Apolloni merely raised her lip in derision at her. With one final glance back at Link, she smiled and turned. Impa and Zelda left the bar shutters swinging as they disappeared into the night.
Noticing flickering lights deep within Ganondorf’s ruby but disregarding it, Link initiated the meeting. “Impa and I have been tracking the movements of the apprentice wizards for a few days now. We know where a few of them live and sleep. We have seen no sign of Barrachas, or at least anyone that fits your description Francis.” The man nodded in acknowledgement. “I’m guessing the priest lives in the temple itself.”
“I can attest to that.” Francis offered. “I’ve only ever seen him out around town if he was on business with Talamir or Timner. I don’t recall seeing him outside of those rare occurrences.”
“So what do you propose we do?” Saria asked the obvious question.
“I think,” Link pressed urgently, slanting forward on his elbows, “we should dispatch several mages in their beds while they sleep.” Malon gasped at the cruel nature of it. Even if they were horrible men and deserved such a fate, she never expected the idea to come from Link. He pointed a finger at Ganondorf, “I will need your assistance in this matter. Since they can regenerate, I will need you to blow them to dust. Using the Cyn’Taak poison is too noisy and will cause a disturbance.”
“It is not that simple.” Ganondorf growled. “There are limits to my magick. I can vaporize these fools with the assistance of Kotake and Koume, both of whom are not here. If I try hard enough, I can remove one wizard, maybe two. Beyond that, it would be best off burning the corpses, but that takes time and draws attention. It all depends on how many you want killed.”
Link looked around the table before deciding on the number, “Three should do fine. Zelda, Malon and I will take their robes as a disguise and-”
Apolloni’s eyes flashed at this absurd idea as Ganondorf interrupted, “Apolloni will go with you; I will only kill three.” His tone was firm and not to be contested.
Link glared at the Gerudo king before resuming his thought, “Fine, Apolloni, Zelda and I will go into the temple in disguise. We will do our best to blend in and find this…object that gives these men their unholy powers.”
“What then?” Francis asked critically. “Have you even thought that far ahead? I called this meeting thinking that after several days, you might have come up with something better. Once you acquire this object, if there is even one, what will you do? Destroy it? Sneak it out of the temple? Use it yourself?”
Link sat there cursing himself silently, he hadn’t considered what he would do once he acquired whatever it was Barrachas held dear inside the temple. He was only focused on simply getting to it.
Francis sighed, his hand pressed to his forehead. “You’re a good kid Link. Smart, resourceful and very skilled, however I feel that sometimes you aren’t very bright in the planning department.” Malon scrunched her nose at his backhanded compliment.
Link was about to rebuke Francis when Ganondorf huffed indicating Apolloni remove herself from his lap and stand beside him. He leaned towards the table as he spoke gruffly, “Since it seems I am the only one with any real authority to make decisions here, I am going to tell you what we are all going to do.”
The conference went on for another hour. Heated disputes about the new plan shot back and forth. In time, a compromise was made and a resolution to enact the plan the very next day was agreed upon. At the conclusion of the discussion, Ganondorf signaled Apolloni silently to follow him upstairs to their single room, she obediently submitted and shadowed him up the stairs.
“I’m nervous Link.” Malon admitted as the two brothers left the pub and went to Francis’ home, to his youngest daughter Lily. “I’m afraid for you tomorrow.”
Link embraced her tenderly, “It’ll be okay. Just keep those horses ready for us in the stable, ok?”
They had just recently brought Epona and Harden into the city on Francis’ recent ‘return’ to the city. It was clear the guards paid very little attention to details since they did not bother to ask where the two spotted horses went. They were left in the forest in the care of Nabooru and Merin, clearly content living off the land than consenting to eat the dried hay heaped in the stalls.
A significant part of the plan was dedicated to escaping the capital regardless if things went flawlessly or not. They were still unsure of what the local populace would do if they were discovered. Malon was to saddle up the horses and fill their packs with the help of Ingo the next morning. To be ready at a moment’s notice to assist Link, Zelda and the two children onto the stallions. Ingo and Francis promised they’d summon any remaining horses that were deemed necessary for the rest to make good their escape.
“Do we have to work with him?” Malon said, glancing at Saria. It went unsaid who she was referring to.
Link squeezed her supple body tighter, “I share the feeling Malon. I don’t think we have a choice right now. He has talents we could use. And besides,” He withdrew from her as he raised a hand up. With intense concentration, he managed to conjure up a single dagger of obsidian into his palm. “What little I can do probably won’t be enough.” He vaporized the blade into mist as he let his hand drop; the little training he did get under Francis wasn’t sufficient to be of any real worth in the looming battle.
Should we show him now? Sora asked determinedly in Saria’s mind.
“No, not yet Sora. It is against her wishes, we have to respect that!” Saria spoke abruptly, bringing Link and Malon out of their conversation.
“Whose wishes?” Link asked.
Saria’s wings went rigid as she backed up, clasping her hands behind her back. “Nobody! Sora is just talking nonsense right now.” Before Link could ask about her obvious fabrication, the Kokiri grabbed Malon’s hand and practically dragged her to the staircase. “Come on Malon! It is a big day tomorrow and we need our rest.”
Link lifted an eyebrow at Saria’s abnormal behavior. Malon fumbled behind the diminutive girl as she turned around briefly to say good night. The two had been sharing a room these past few moons, they seemed to get along well. Talon slept in the same room as the two children while Link had a room all to himself. Impa and Zelda shared the final room at the end of the hall. Now that the ruse was up, it no longer seemed appropriate to be sharing a room with the princess of Hyrule.
He looked out the window. Where were they tonight? What were they doing? Sighing, he resigned to another lonely evening and trudged up the stairs to his bedroom.
The two delivered that night’s food to Nabooru and Merin. They each accepted it gratefully. Merin had offered to stay behind with Xavier again while insisting that Ashley get a warm, comfortable bed. He shouldn’t have to tolerate being out in the wilderness any longer, especially now that the cold southern winds of fall had started to blow. Nabooru, still untrusting of her, decided to stick around to keep a watchful eye on her fellow Gerudo. She was unsure if Merin was still under Ganondorf’s sway and did not want a stray agent of his wandering around unattended.
Xavier greeted Zelda warmly as it clumsily instigated a hug. Since being around Hylians and not of its own kind, it had tried mimicking certain actions. The sight of such a creature rumbling up to her with arms and claws spread was quite unnerving. As disgusting as it was having its slithering tongue licking her hair, she couldn’t help but feel joyful at having something love her so unconditionally.
After some trivial small talk, Impa roused Zelda from the discussion and prompted that they continue on their appointed task. With a final wave goodbye, they delved deeper into the forest. Zelda asked where they were headed but was greeted by nothing but a shake of Impa’s head. They pressed further into the trees until they came across an abandoned temple. It looked similar in nature to one they encountered in the Negev Marshlands but appeared better maintained.
“What is this place?” Zelda asked.
“It is a sacred place of rebirth.” Impa intoned; a faint trace of a smile on her face.
“Rebirth of what?” Zelda was completely lost.
They made their way inside the structure and proceeded further into its depths. “A rebirth of your memories, my princess.” Impa replied calmly.
“I don’t understand.” Zelda carped, wiping away a spider web that had swathed itself over her hair.
“You will Zelda. I have been waiting cycles for this very moment. It is the reason I was born. That all Sheikah are born.” Impa did not wait for a response from Zelda, but surged deeper.
They encountered various creatures of unspeakable lethality. Between the two of them, they made short work of the dark denizens that had taken residence inside the temple. At length they reached a final chamber that was pitch black save for a small shaft of light piercing the gloom from the ceiling where the brick had eroded and fallen away revealing the moonlit sky. The central vestibule housed a lake of purest water, so clear was its surface that they could see the ground beneath the watery veil.
“You must purify yourself in the water Zelda.” Impa said purposefully.
Zelda looked around in awe; as deteriorated as it was, the room held a certain beauty to its features. “Who created this place?” She asked in amazement, noticing remnants of statues that could have depicted a gorgeous woman, or was it a Goddess?
“You did Zelda.” Impa said ardently.
Zelda jerked her head in shock, “But I don’t remember…what?” She couldn’t wrap her mind around Impa’s declaration.
“You created many places with your nature embedded across the lands, not just Hyrule. I was surprised to find the location of this place just recently. I had given up all hope of ever fulfilling my purpose.” Impa beamed as she looked on the pristine lake with relief.
Zelda turned back to the water, “What am I to do?”
“Bath in it, Zelda.” Impa said, pointing to the cool liquid lapping at the brick steps just a few paces from them.
“With clothes on?” Zelda asked uncertainly, she didn’t like the idea of coming back sopping wet and leaving an obvious trail back to the inn. No amount of Sheikah magick could cover that.
“I should think not, but I don’t believe it matters either way.” Impa shrugged.
Zelda began stripping off all her clothes, gently folding them and laying them aside the steps. Shivering slightly at the chill dampness of the chamber, she placed one foot into the water and gasped at how unusually warm it was. Lacking much more incentive, she dove head first into the luxurious heat of the lake, her nude form cutting through the warm liquid. Presently she stood up from the lake and turned to Impa, water running down her body in rivulets.
“Okay Impa…I’ve bathed now. I don’t feel any different.” Zelda was wondering if Impa was mistaken about this place.
Impa waded out towards Zelda, having already undressed herself. She came up to her and pressed a motherly hand on Zelda’s shoulder. “I want you to trust me on this. It will be alarming to you, but I assure you that it is necessary.”
“I trust you.” Zelda said with a slight tremble in her voice.
Impa smiled before placing a firm hand behind Zelda’s back and with the other on her forehead, she dipped her back into the water. Submerging her entire body, Impa kept her there. At first it felt good. The warmth of the water seeping into her body, then the urge to breathe began creeping in. Zelda attempted to rise up for a breath but was firmly held in place by Impa. She then turned to struggling, her legs kicking out in panic as water began filling her lungs. She screamed in the water as Impa closed her eyes and gritted her teeth, she hated doing this to her.
Darkness crept into her vision as the blurred face of Impa faded from beyond the veil. The pain in her body was agonizing as water gurgled into her nose. With one final gasp, she was on a mountaintop beholding barren plains of molten fire. Zelda swirled around confused, looking at the unknown landscape before her. Flashes of lightning and thunder pirouetted across the sky, the azure blue blocked out by a thick layer of billowing clouds.
She turned her gaze down into the valley and saw millions of demons, hordes of them. They were indescribable horrors that were attacking Hylians, Gorons, Zoras and more; rending them apart, eating them, and even turning them inside out. It was a scene from a nightmare, a dream she couldn’t wake up from. She saw multitudes of demons gathering together to assault one last vestibule of light, a single village.
With a shuddering crack, the entire earth shook beneath her. The town began slowly rising into the air. Various demons were hanging on for dear life before finally falling to their doom thousands of feet below. Zelda watched in awe as she saw the floating island rise higher through the clouds and then out of sight.
A ring of steel and screams of pain jolted her attention back to the valley where a lone man was fighting off the throng. Adorned with a brilliant green tunic and cap that stood out contrastingly from the desolation around him, he was a beacon of hope in the midst of chaos. His sword rang true with every slice, limbs and heads flew in all directions as blood sprayed through the air. The man tirelessly ravaged through the mass before finally being struck down by an errant pincer impaling him through the chest.
Zelda wanted to scream out to the courageous, young man but was cut short as she heard a deafening roar behind her. She twirled around to see an abomination, crawling on six grotesque feet of purest black, oozing blood from its fingernails. The creature approached her with a grin spread across its snout, revealing rows of razor sharp teeth inside its maw. Trailing along its back was a mane of raging fire, an unquenchable blaze that was revolting to look at.
The beast gazed briefly behind her as the man’s heart was ripped beating out of his chest. Its cackle made her skin crawl, “It seems, my Goddess, that your champion has fallen.”
She burst out of the water screaming. Splashing and spluttering up water, Impa helped Zelda to her knees. She cringed and hung onto Impa for safety, a focal point of sanity in a world seemingly turned upside down. She became sobbing uncontrollably for minutes, unable to get the awful images out of her head. Where was she? What was that awful creature?
“Impa.” She spoke, her teeth clattering not from the cold but from abject terror. “I saw a terrible vision. It was dreadful.”
Impa soothed Zelda, stroking her hair calmly, “I know Zelda, I know. It was a memory of your past, reawakened.”
Zelda shook her head violently, “If it is part of my past, I want no part in it! Please don’t make me remember it again!”
“There is but one other place we must visit.” Zelda continued shaking her head fervently, but Impa persisted, “For the sake of our world, you must remember who you were. Who you are. The fate of Hyrule and of Link depends on it.”
The mention of his name calmed her, giving her focus. “Will knowing my past truly help him?” She asked fearfully.
Impa placed her cheek on Zelda’s head, “Yes, I believe so.”
Zelda withdrew and looked up into Impa’s face, “You said a little fairy told you to come here.”
Impa nodded, “Yes, someone who has a piece of you in her. Like all fairies.”
Zelda’s eyes grew intense as she asked, “What is her name?”