Silent Courage

Extra 2: The Hollow

At twelve-years-old, Link sat on her roof as she looked around at the night sky, the full moon casting a glow on Ordon as the fall leaves fell to the ground from the howling wind. She didn't know why, but she always felt…sad on this night. Even though the stars and moon were the same, they felt…dark…depressed…and, truth be told, scary. She couldn't place it, why she felt like this, but maybe it had to do with the stories that were told on this night. The ones of the ghouls and ghosts that rise from Din's Hell to wreak havoc on the living, others of the dead humans that could turn into Keese, drank human blood, and lived in the ground, or the monsters that were the dead, and rose from the earth to eat human flesh. But the scariest story she heard was of the creature that takes kids if they wander into the forest.

She was told the story by Rusl, who was the best story teller in the village. He said that the creature was ten feet tall, it had short arms and hooks for hands, it had a long nose, a mouth full of sharp teeth, and no eyes. It was a bloodthirsty beast that thrived on the unlucky travellers that were lost in its woods, but the real meal that it was hungry for was children. This story was told to frighten the kids into not going to the woods, but Link had been there many times, and not once did she see this monster.

And boy was she happy about that, she wouldn't want to meet it anyway. But she was sceptical. Did such a creature like that even exist? And if it did, how did Rusl know? Did he see it? Was he told it by a friend? However he knew the story, Link had a feeling it was just that: a story, just something to give the kids a good scare.

How she wished now that she was right.

She climbed down from the roof using the oak tree by her house, and when her feet hit the ground, she heard a strange noise. It sounded like a goat got lose. Not wanting the goat to get hurt, she followed the sound and came to the Spirit Spring, where a big, male Ordon Goat was drinking the clear water. She sighed, he always got out. She walked over to the goat and tugged on his horns, but he simply tossed his head and sent her flying a few feet away. She sat up and leaned back on her hands, water dripping down her clothes and hair. She got to her feet and crossed her arms at the goat before going to his side and pushing with her back, trying to make him move. When that failed to work, she climbed onto the goat's back, using his fur to get up, and was planning to ride him like a horse, when a loud screeching was heard. It was like a mix between a cat and a Keese, and made the goat freak out.

Holding on for dear life, Link rode the goat out of the spring, but he didn't go back to Ordon. Instead, he ran across the bridge and into Faron Woods. He crashed through bushes and trees, going well off the path of the main trail with Link on his back. She was gripping the goat's fur with all her strength and her legs were in the air behind her at the speed the goat was going. She kept finding herself covered in leaves, mud and the odd branch as the scared goat went deeper into the trees.

When he finally stopped, the goat dropped to the ground. Exhausted, Link let go and fell to the ground beside him, her arms screaming from having held on to the goat. She panted as she looked around, they were in an area she had never seen before. The trees were all dead, white husks of their former selves, and the moon was an eerie orangey/red. The clouds were the same as the moon, and there were no stars, just an endless black void. It was like she entered an entirely different world.

After five long, hour-like minutes, Link stood up and patted the goat's side, noticing a bit of blood on his head. Probably from all the branches he rammed into. She tried helping him get to his feet, but being her, she didn't have the strength. Giving up, she sat down and rested her back on the goat, looking into the dead trees. Then, from out of nowhere, fog drifted in and obscured her vision, only letting her see a small circle around her. Getting scared, Link got up and shook the goat, trying to get it to move, when shuffling was heard behind her.

She turned quickly, but couldn't see anything. Then she saw a distant figure, which looked very tall. It was just standing there, watching her. A dark shiver went down her spine, and she could feel her heart beating fast in her chest. It was so loud that she thought the thing looking at her could hear it. Then, slowly, as if wanting to make the suspense rise, the thing walked towards her, raising a short arm and letting her see a shining hook. Fear entered her entire body, and she shook violently. This was the monster Rusl told her about. It was real, and it was coming right at her!

She stepped back, trying to get away, but tripped over the goat's head and fell back, going down a cliff she hadn't seen. Rolling down, she could hear the painful cries of the goat, and she could only imagine the monster ripping it apart with its hooks, making as much pain as it could. When she finally came to a stop, she found she was at the edge of a river, the water looking like blood, and she got to her feet. Stepping forward, she stepped on something soft and looked down.

Her scream must have been heard from Hyrule Castle.

It was a human body. The chest was ripped to shreds, right above the heart, as if someone, or something, had dug in and had taken it out, showing it to the person who had it. The eyes were missing, not even hollow sockets were there, only flesh, its nose was stretched out, and the mouth was open slightly, blood all around it. Looking away from the face, which was burned into her mind, she saw that the person's arms were missing, only the shoulders were there, and her heart started to beat faster. The monster must have done this, this was an unlucky traveller. She looked over her shoulder, and was thankful that the monster wasn't there, before searching the body. There was nothing in him, he only had his clothes.

There was another screech and she couldn't even turn before something grabbed the back of her shirt. She screamed as she was lifted off the ground and brought to the face of the monster, its eyeless gaze piercing into her, like it was looking into her soul. The monster walked over to the river, and dunked her in. She shivered as she was brought back up, shivering from the cold, crimson coloured water. The monster screeched in her face, making her smell its rotten breath, and it was about to rake its hook down her face when something hit the back of its head. The monster dropped Link, she fell on top of the body of the monster's last victim, and it screeched at the thing that attacked it, but when it looked, there was nothing there.

The monster turned back to Link, and she flinched back, trying to get away, when something kicked the monster in the back and made it trip over her. She put her arms over her head as the tall monster fell forward and shook the ground when it hit. She felt something wrap around her and her scream was caught in her throat when she was taken into the air. She watched as the dead trees traveled under her in a blur for a few moments before looking up behind her, a giant eagle was carrying her. Its eyes smirked as it lowered her into a nest and perched itself on the edge. "You are one foolish child," it chuckled, "coming into Dead Tree Woods. Don't you know the Hollow is merciful to no one? Especially children?"

Link looked down at the forest floor. So that's what that thing was called…

"I assume that you thought the Hollow was a myth?" the eagle asked. Link nodded. "Most humans do. As only a few of them escape the monster. I remember years ago, a young boy came in here by accident too. I believe he had been looking for a lost goat. I saved him as well after he confronted the Hollow. It was a very long time ago," she said. "He was no older than your age at the time."

Link was wondering who she was talking about.

"Well, you should stay here for the night. You don't want the monster to follow you back to your home," the eagle hopped into the nest, and Link moved aside. "Get some rest, I will keep watch. And don't worry about the Hollow, it can't climb trees."

Nodding, Link curled up and rested her head on her arms, the Hollow still on her mind as she fell asleep.

Link awoke the nest morning to find that it wasn't morning at all, the moon was still in the sky, as if it hadn't moved, and the clouds were the same shapes they were yesterday. Confused, she looked at the eagle, who was awake, and the bird's eyes smiled. "Time is frozen here, it has been since the Hollow came. And until it is dead, time will remain frozen, the trees will stay dead, and the river will be filled with undrinkable water."

Link blinked a few times, wondering why no one can kill it. "It is a strong monster, centuries old and still good as ever, but it is not immortal. But what way is there to kill it? It has no weaknesses. It is too fast, too strong, and too smart to be killed by normal means. Besides, what can anyone do? Your home is just lucky it doesn't know about it. If it had followed anyone, it would create chaos for the entire land."

Looking down at the floor, Link spotted the Hollow wandering around the base of the tree they're in, and backed up, not wanting it to see her. "What did I say last night? The Hollow can't climb tree-" the eagle was silenced when a thud shook the tree, and the two dared to look over the edge of the nest. Link's eyes grew wide when she saw the Hollow using its hooks to climb the tree. She looked at the eagle, who cursed under her breath. "There's another thing, he always seems to learn more every year. And now he knows how to climb. Come, we must go," the eagle grabbed Link by her shoulders and took off from the nest as the Hollow was about to make it.

But the problem was, the Hollow knew how to jump.

It leapt from the nest and landed on the back of the eagle, digging its hooks into her back. The eagle screeched and tried to toss the Hollow off, but nothing worked, the hooks were digging deeper into her flesh and were ripping her skin when she tried to dislodge it. Switching targets, the Hollow crawled down the eagle's side and fixed its gaze on Link, before reaching out for her. He was about to get her when she felt herself falling. The eagle had let her go. Not able to scream, Link flailed, trying to grab something, when she fell into a small hole that was wet and smelled horrible. She got to her feet and stood, almost puking when she saw where she was. She had fallen into the mauled body of the goat. That was disgusting. She gagged as she started to climb out of the body, but saw a figure and let herself fall back in.

She hugged her legs close to her chest and watched the outside of the hole as footsteps came closer and closer to her. Her heart beat increased again and she shivered as blood kept dripping down her, the smell of the goat making her senses duller. When she saw a face look in at her, she gasped and buried her head into her arms, waiting for the Hollow's hook to dig into her flesh and-

"Link?" the voice of Rusl interrupted her thoughts and her head snapped up, tears leaking out of her eyes. "Come on, quick!" Rusl grabbed her hand and pulled her out, sprinting away from the goat as he held her bridle-style. There was a screech and Link looked behind them to see the Hollow chasing after them, it's screechy cry echoing through the trees. Her arms tightened around Rusl's neck as he ran faster, somehow staying fifteen meters away from the Hollow.

They finally made it out of the woods, and Link couldn't take her eyes off the dead trees as the Hollow came to a stop, like it couldn't leave. It clawed the air in front of it, as if a barrier was keeping it inside, and after a while, it screeched and ran back to where it was supposed to be. Rusl put Link down as she kept staring at the trees wide-eyed, and as she did, her guardian wiped some of the blood off her and took some twigs out of her hair. "It's alright, Link. It's gone," Rusl whispered as he bent to her eye-level, making her look at him. "Let's get back to Ordon and get you cleaned up," he said and started walking, noticing Link's legs shaking as she trotted behind him.

Smiling softly, Rusl stopped and held out his arms. Without protest, Link hugged him and he picked her up, carrying her for the rest of the way. Once they were back in her tree house, Rusl started a bath as Link sat on the table, still in shock. Rusl shook her shoulder, making her come out of her daze slightly, and motioned to the bath. She went into the small separate room and started washing the blood off, her mind processing what happened.

When she came out, she saw Rusl leaning on the table, smiling worriedly. As she walked over, he bent down and hugged her, rocking her a bit. "You had quite the night, haven't you? It's not everyday someone sees the Hollow." Link shivered at the name. "Did it hurt you?" Link shook her head, which was buried in Rusl's neck. "Good. I remember when I encountered it," Link took her head away a bit, looking at him in shock. "Yes, I was your age, and I went out looking for a stray goat. When I found it, I saw it getting ripped apart by the Hollow. If it weren't for that eagle, I would be dead. That's why I warned you kids with the story I told, it was never fake, and it still haunts me. Link, I want you to never go into those woods again, I might not be there to save you next time." Link tilted her head, making him smile a bit. "I was looking for the goat that got out. When I was by the Spirit's Spring, I saw you riding it across the bridge, and I had heard the Hollow. Its cry is loud, as you know now, and can be heard from the spring on nights like this. It took me a while to remember the path, and all I was thinking about was you getting hurt or killed by it. It was lucky that I was passing the goat when I saw you in it."

Link gulped. She would never forget the Hollow or that night. But she hoped she'd never have to re-live it.


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