"Many years ago, there was a race of children who lived in the forests south of Hyrule. They were the Kokori, a race of fairy children. All were eternally young and had a personal fairy to watch over them. All except one. A young boy who was actually a Hylian lived among them for years. The boy was teased for not having a fairy of his own, but him and the Kokori lived in peace. One day, a fairy came to the boy. But this was no cause for celebration. It was a sign that terrible things outside the forest were happening. Destiny took the boy into it's hands, and nothing would ever be the same again."
-The Happy Mask Salesman
A team of six stepped into the ancient tomb. Arbiter and Lara were at the front, with Link and Snake following close behind. McCloud and another soldier brought up the rear. Casey had been left at the ship, grumbling but cooperative. Lara was actually a bit puzzled why a teenager like her would be so eager to follow. Maybe it was just she didn't want to cross someone like the Arbiter. She couldn't blame her.
Arbiter, Lara and the soldier kept their eyes open for any ambushes or attacks. Snake kept his eyes open as well, but not nearly as much. He didn't understand why there would be anything to worry about in this place. Link gazed at his surroundings with absolute awe. He knew where he was. The significance of this place, the fact that he was in here, staggered him.
The tomb was well-lit, several holes in the walls letting in enough light to see the hall clearly. Moss had grown over the stones building this place, creating a lush green carpet. Several images on the walls were still visible despite the decay. A lot of them, in fact…it was almost as if nature simply could not permit itself to destroy such works of art. A lot of them depicted a swordsman riding a horse, battling horrific monsters with his blade held high. The most prominent monster seemed to be some sort of boar-like creature.
The hallway led past a tapestry that had somehow survived year after year of exposure. The picture depicted three golden triangles in a formation resembling a pyramid. Three people were reaching for the triangles. A dark-skinned man with red hair and a demonic grin was reaching for the triangle on the top. A beautiful woman with long blonde hair and a beautiful purple dress reached for the triangle on the bottom left. Link was reaching for the triangle on the bottom right.
No, not Link. Lara had to blink to realize the person on the tapestry wasn't the same as the operative beside her. There were small differences, but differences enough. The tapestry's boy had blonder hair and a slightly more childish face. This tomb must belong to his ancestor , Lara mused to herself.
The group quickly came up to three doors at the end of the hall. A huge circular door that had an immense padlock and chains dominated the wall in front of them. Two smaller doors were on both sides of the larger one, simple things made of wood. The chains and padlock on the larger door nearly covered another picture of the three triangles.
"Huh. Wanna bet our target's behind that?" Snake remarked, jarring the silence. Link glanced back at the man harshly, but didn't contradict his statement. He had a point…the most valuable item in this tomb would logically have been kept under lock and key.
Arbiter tested the chains on the door. Incredibly strong steel, with no sign of rust or decay. In fact, there was almost no moss or vegetation on this wall despite the heavy decay at the entrance of the tomb. It was as if time stood still in this area, enabling the structure and tapestry to survive centuries of exposure.
"At the risk of stating the obvious, we'll need to open that door." Lara remarked.
"Way ahead of you." Snake replied, taking out a black box. The operative set it up on the door, pressing a button and causing it to display a red timer. 30 seconds and counting.
Everyone backed off, Link shooting Snake a bad look. Rather than pursue an argument, he covered his ears with the others, anticipating the explosion.
The smoke gradually cleared to show a door that hadn't been affected in the slightest. There wasn't even a crack in the stone or a dent in the chains. "What?" Snake was bewildered. How could a centuries-old door survive an explosion? It made no sense.
Arbiter knocked on the door again. No sign of any weakness. "What now?"
"Find the key?" Link suggested.
"Of course." Snake muttered sullenly. "How stupid of me."
"The young boy stepped out into the world, entering Hyrule for the first time. He met with the young princess, who requested his help to keep an ancient power away from a malevolent king. The king of darkness himself, Ganondorf. After many trials, the boy collected the necessary gems to unlock the temple containing that power. But then, the evil king conquered Hyrule in a bloody coup, and the princess was forced to leave the treasure of the royal family with the boy. That treasure was the final key to the ancient power the king wanted. That treasure was the Ocarina of Time."
-The Happy Mask Salesman
Arbiter quickly broke up the group into two teams of three. One team took the door to the left, another took the door to the left. By splitting up, they could search for the key faster. Snake had questioned whether the key would actually be in the temple itself. Lara had responded by reasoning that the builders of this place wouldn't want the place to be entirely accessible. It wasn't uncommon for temples and the like to have keys and other important items hidden in the building itself.
Snake, Lara and McCloud had taken the door to the right. That door led to another darkened hallway, with a stairwell steadily going down into the ground. Flashlights lit the way into the basement, although there wasn't really much to see. The walls had Hylian writing, but no pictures. Lara took pictures of the walls anyway, planning to get a translation later.
"Why would they make a tomb so elaborate?" Snake wondered aloud.
"It happens a lot with important people. Kings, popes, heroes, and the like. I'll wager that these writings tell the complete story of Link's ancestor."
Lara gave him an odd look. "Don't tell me you didn't see a resemblance."
"Of course I did. Just find it funny that his first assignment took him here. Pretty crazy coincidence, don't you think?"
"Maybe. While Douglas and I were investigating him, a lot of people compared him to the 'ancient hero'. I don't think they knew he was the actual descendant of this hero…I imagine they forgotten after this place was cut off from Hyrule proper."
"Makes some sense, but…"
"Hey…" McCloud suddenly interjected. "Do you hear that?"
Lara and Snake quieted down and listened. Sure enough, there was noise. No, not noise. It was too…coordinated, too melodic and precise to be noise. It was a low rumbling whistle, like wind blowing through a cave. It's pitch raised and lowered at specific intervals, like a flutist playing off sheet music.
"Don't tell me this tomb is whistling." Snake remarked.
"This place is very unusual." Lara commented. The operative glanced at the walls. "I mean, compare this to the entrance. This should've decayed years ago, but it doesn't show the slightest sign of age." She ran her fingers over the ancient symbols. "Remarkable."
"Yeah, yeah yeah. Can we get moving?"
"Very well." Lara sighed as she continued to walk down the hallway.
McCloud blinked. "There's a light up ahead."
"That's impossible. We're underground, and we couldn't have gotten to the other cliff face so soon." Snake countered.
"I've seen stranger things. Come on." Lara replied.
The light was coming from several fire pits in a small, circular room. Most of the room was filled with sand, a river of it dividing the stone floor. More symbols were imbedded in the walls, depicting the swordsman fighting a giant worm. Strangely, this swordsman seemed to be smaller, younger. The Hero in his youth, or another hero entirely? It seemed rather remarkable.
Many skeletons were scattered around the room, mostly around a single wooden chest.
"Gee, I wonder where the key is?" Snake muttered.
"Oh, be quiet." Lara replied as she stepped forward, being careful not to step in the sand.
Suddenly, a tiny trident erupted from the sand, stabbing her boot. It didn't pierce the leather, but she still felt it. Drawing her foot back, she backed off to take stock of what just happened.
A tiny skeletal figure emerged from the sand, carrying a small trident. Another one followed, and another. Soon a small legion of them erupted from the sand stream, all brandishing spears and tridents, shrieking at the intruders and steadily approaching them.
McCloud and Snake hurriedly brandished their guns, but Lara simply remarked "Save that ammo." The woman kneeled down and did a sweeping kick that broke every single one of the tiny creatures in half. The bones feel to the floor and dissolved in a strange shadowy mist. Lara hopped back up to her feet and shrugged. That was easy…
And then the bones in the room began rumbling. McCloud gulped audibly as the skulls' eyes lit up with an unearthly glow. The skeletons rattled on the floor as the creatures started to reform themselves, bone attaching to bone through some strange manner of magic. A skull hopped onto the top of an armoured chest and hissed. Soon, the three operatives were surrounded by a small army of skeleton warriors with swords, shields and skulls for armour.
McCloud shook like a leaf, but was able to get himself to fire at the heads of one of the approaching monsters. It connected with the skull and the head was blown to pieces, but the headless skeleton continued to advance. Lara found that her fighting moves and pistols were just as useless against these monstrosities. Even detaching a torso from the hips proved ineffectual, as the creatures simply crawled towards them using their hands, baring their teeth to bite.
Snake wasn't impressed, however. He waited until all the skeleton men were grouped up and then made his move. "Everyone get back!" He ordered, taking a grenade out of his belt. Neither of the other operatives argued, both of them ducking back into the hallway. Undoing the pin with his teeth, Snake tossed the round orb into the fray of skeleton monsters.
There was a brief pause, and the creatures looked at the unusual weapon oddly.
Then it detonated.
With a loud noise, the grenade burst and reduced every one of the monsters into shattered skeletons, too broken to reform again. Several of the skulls flew into the hallway, nearly conking McCloud on the head. Several other bone fragments fell to the floor nearby. Like the tiny creatures from before, the bones dissolved into mist. Another weird thing in the place, McCloud thought to himself.
Once the smoke had cleared, the skeleton monsters were gone. There wasn't any evidence that they had existed, or even that there had been a fight. The room looked completely untouched, not even any burns on the wall or indents from where the bones collided.
After scratching their heads briefly, the operatives cautiously walked in, stepped over the river, and opened the chest.
"You gotta be joking." Snake muttered.
Inside were several documents, all in Hylian Script. On top of the pile was a crudely drawn map of the tomb. Lara picked it up and took a closer look. The operative smiled. This wasn't a waste of time at all.
"Using the three stones and the Ocarina of Time, the hero opened the door to the ancient power. Although the boy took up the Master Sword, the blade of evil's bane, he was unable to stop the king from acquiring the ancient power, the Triforce…or more accurately, a piece of it. The Triforce of Power was imbedded in the king's wrist, giving him the strength he required to take over Hyrule. The Triforce of Courage was imbedded in the boy, and the Triforce of Wisdom went to the young princess. This was the beginning of legacy that would stretch on for centuries."
-The Happy Mask Salesman
"Very good. Thank you, Lara." Arbiter clicked off the commlink. He, Link and the other soldier had taken the door to the left, and were now walking through a long hallway with dim lighting from several torches.
The commander turned to Link. "Lara found a map. The key that we are looking for is in a room up ahead." He pointed forward. "So, let us go."
There really was nothing else to say. The three operatives walked through the hallway, glancing occasionally at the pictures on the walls. Like the rooms before, these walls depicted a swordsman in Link's outfit. This time however, the swordsman was young and the walls seemed to imply there were four heroes at one time. Link hoped that he would learn about this story soon.
At the end of the hallway was another circular door. The three operatives moved towards it quickly, keeping an eye out for any attacks. Lara had told them about the ambush of the skeleton men. 'Stalfos', Link had remarked. Thankfully no Stalfos or skeletons were in sight, and the group was able to get to the door with no difficulty.
The room on the other side of the door was large and imposing, with a ring of columns holding up the roof. More symbols and writing on the walls. How many stories were there to tell about this hero? , Arbiter wondered. From the look of it, there was more than one hero buried here. That would make sense.
The room was otherwise unremarkable, except for two large sets of black plate armour on either side. Both were larger than a normal human…in fact, they were slightly larger than Arbiter. The two sets of armour held circular shields and huge broadswords, all in all looking very menacing. Arbiter scanned both of them with his visor. Neither of them had any signs of being alive…symbolic statues, perhaps?
"This is the room. The key should be in here somewhere." Arbiter remarked. "Both of you search…"
Arbiter and the two operatives whirled around at the noise. The circular door had rolled back into place and several iron bars had slammed down, blocking their exit. A trap! Arbiter cursed under his breath.
"Ah man. Now what?" the soldier muttered.
A clanking noise answered him. A very loud clanking noise coming from two places in the room. The suits of armour were beginning to move. Arbiter blinked. What? He had scanned those things and there had been no sign of life! What was causing them to move?
Impossible or not, the suits weren't just rattling randomly. They were shifting as if a living creature was inside and preparing itself for battle. The swords and shields were slowly raised, and the sword was swung in thin air as if to test the range. Glowing red eyes peered from within the visors, and an inhuman growl emanated from the helmet.
Arbiter drew his Plasma Sword, the soldier took out his gun, and Link brought out his sword and reconfigured crossbow. The soldier would've sneered, but there were more important things to worry about then the quality of the weapons.
"Darknuts." Link spoke. Arbiter assumed that was the name of these…things. Very well. Three soldiers against two Darknuts. Seemed to be even odds.
The Darknuts didn't waste any time. The walking suits of armour charged towards the three with surprising speed, bringing their large swords down on them. If the three hadn't rolled out of the way in time, they would've been sliced in half. The soldier quickly tried firing at one of the behemoths, but the bullets only ricocheted off the metal.
Arbiter and Link instinctively knew not to use their swords on the armor plates themselves. They had to strike between the plates as much as they could, to damage whatever was inside the armor. Arbiter tried a direct beheading with his energy sword only to find the Darknut had protected his neck with a special guard. Somehow that guard was able to withstand the energy blade.
The soldier was a good shot, and tried to shoot one of the creatures in the eye. The bullet went in and there was a cry of pain, but the Darknut didn't go down. Normally a headshot like that would've at least felled a living creature. The creature snarled and swung his sword again, knocking the soldier aside. He quickly rolled away to absorb the impact.
Arbiter swung his energy sword once more and managed to sever the bindings of the Darknut's chestpiece. The metal plate rattled to the floor, exposing…something. It was difficult to tell what was under that armour. Whatever it was, it was fleshy and purple.
The Darknut's compatriot was ready to crush Arbiter with his sword, but a white arrow from Link hit before the monster could bring the blade over his head. The liquid nitrogen (or whatever it was Masha had put into the ice arrows) splattered over the blade and floor before hardening into ice, fusing the sword in place and preventing the Darknut from striking Arbiter. The Sangheili rolled away from the behemoth just before the ice broke. The enraged Darknut then turned it's full attention to Link.
The soldier saw the exposed flesh and fired several shots into it. The Darknut roared in pain and spun his sword around, destroying several of the columns. Arbiter and the soldier had to duck out of the sword's reach. Thankfully the roof still stayed up. The Darknut ungracefully ran into the wall and teetered unsteadily for a critical second. That second was all Arbiter needed to run his energy sword through the creature's unprotected chest. The monster screamed once more before falling to the ground, the armor sounding a dull clang in the room.
Link had his hands full with the remaining Darknut. The thing swung the huge sword fast, and Link had to constantly dodge the attacks. He rolled to avoid another swipe, and then decided to counterattack. Leaping into the air, the youth grabbed the Darknut's helmet and ripped off the visor. Landing on his feet, the young man was quick enough to dodge the enraged Darknut's second attack.
Under the Darknut's helmet was some sort of dog-like creature. Slavering jaws snarled at the attacker, and blood-red eyes glared at the youth from Ordon. The monster roared and raised it's sword again. Link readied himself for a counterattack…
When a bullet hole suddenly appeared in the beast's head. The creature froze, as if shocked by this sudden development. The eyes lolled back stupidly as the Darknut tumbled to the floor, letting out the same CLANG as it's brother.
"Good thing I was here." The soldier commented. Link didn't respond, but silently thanked the soldier.
To Arbiter's bewilderment, the Darknut's bodies and armor simply dissolved into mist and vanished. In the space of a second, there was no evidence that they had ever existed…except for a few missing columns and dents in the wall. What more, with a loud screech, the bars blocking the door out simply vanished.
"Magic." Link answered.
Arbiter would've disagreed, but decided there were more important things to consider. "Where is the key? I do not see any chests."
Link glanced around the room and found something. It was a small stone pedestal with a thin indent and the Triforce symbol on the side. Just like the pedestal he had pulled the Master Sword out of. Walking up to the small pedestal, Link drew his sword and stabbed it deep into the pedestal.
The soldier was puzzled. "Um, why…?"
He was promptly answered. There was a flash of light so bright that everyone had to cover their eyes and a strange sound that defied description. When the light had subsided, everyone looked up to see a spiked chest in the middle of the room. The chest had several ornate symbols carved into it's wooden frame, giving it an odd magical look.
"Magic." The soldier shrugged. Arbiter simply sighed and opened the chest.
A large black key was inside. Something resembling a smile appeared on the Sangheili's face. Link tried to hide his own excitement.
"Lara, Snake, McCloud, regroup to the tomb entrance. We have the key. Now we can open that door and pick up that Triforce. Move out."
"Using the Triforce of Courage and the Master Sword, the youth was able to overcome impossible odds and defeat the evil king. Although the king was made immortal by the power he had gained, the youth and the princess were able to seal him away in an alternate. But that was not the end of the story. Far from it. For centuries after the hero's death, his descendants took up his mantle as hero and protected Hyrule from threats unimaginable. And every time one of them falls for the final time, I bring them here to rest among their legacy, recording their deeds in the ever-growing walls of this tomb. Their legacy will live forever, even if this place is hidden from the rest of the world."
-The Happy Mask Salesman
The group was back at the door again. While Arbiter fit the key to the huge lock, Lara, Snake and the soldier compared bruises and stories.
"I still can't believe they're called Darknuts. Sounds like an airplane dish."
"Yeah. Some sort of peanuts."
"Well, dumb name or not, those things were dangerous. I think they're big enough to challenge Hunters."
"Nah, the Hunter's would fry them. Wouldn't they, Arbiter?"
"Perhaps." The key was now imbedded in the lock and Arbiter worked to twist the key and unlock the door to their target. Link was watching the door, itching to get inside.
"They'd definitely fry those Stalfos. Took us two minutes to get them. You'd think this place would be better guarded."
"Well, it is separated from Hyrule main. And the people who built this place probably didn't account for explosives or guns."
Everyone turned at the noise. The lock clicked and detached itself from the chains. The lock nearly landed on Link's foot as it collided with the floor. The chains fell away as well, uncovering the symbol of the Triforce on the door. There was now nothing impeding the group's progress into the tomb proper.
Placing his two hands on the door, Arbiter pushed the door to the side, opening the way.
Link couldn't stifle a reverent gasp as he walked into the room. His commander understood why.
The tomb was colossal, much larger than Arbiter would've guessed. And much more pristine as well…it was as if it had been completed a day before and not centuries ago. Tombs surrounded the area, each and every one marked with Hylian symbols that likely told which hero was in which tomb. A beautiful purple carpet had been laid out on the floor, and several tapestries depicting the heroes in impressive detail were hung around the room. Each and every one was wearing a similar tunic to Link's, and there was defiantly a resemblance.
Standing here, Arbiter could not help but think of the Mausoleum where he had accepted his duties. There was an almost sacred air of honour and power here, something that demanded respect from whoever stood in here. He could understand Link's reverence and excitement. Still, he had to remember why they were here.
The others spread out around the tomb, keeping a wary eye for any ambushes. Better safe then sorry, although the magnitude of the tomb was not lost on them. They didn't find anything of suspicion.
At the back of the room was a tomb more ornately decorated than the others. The tapestry above it seemed to be more intricate and impressive than the others. This must have been the very first hero…or at least, the first one recorded and buried here. The one who bore the Triforce of Courage on his hand. Link approached the tomb slowly.
Suddenly, a barrier materialized around the youth, cutting him off from the others.
"What?" Arbiter smashed his fist against the yellow barrier, only to draw it back as a sharp electrical pain coursed through his wrist. "Link, stay on your guard. This is an ambush…"
"Ambush?" A voice suddenly remarked. The voice seemed deep and hollow, like a ghost of a voice rather than a living voice. Everyone searched the room for the speaker, but he was nowhere to be seen. "More of a test. A final test for the hero."
The speaker suddenly materialized in front of Link. It looked exactly like the hero on the tapestry, only the tunic was white and seemed to be partially composed of mist. The hero's shade raised his sword towards the young Link.
"My son, welcome to the tomb of your ancestors. I know what you seek. You must face one last battle before you may claim your inheritance."
"You gotta be kidding." Snake muttered from behind the barrier.
"Snake, be quiet." Arbiter snapped.
Link gulped. He wasn't expected to face his own ancestor in combat…how could he describe what was going through his head? Excitement, trepidation, awe, fear, nervousness, reverence, determination…all at the same time. The youth was frozen for a moment…
He set his face and drew the Master Sword out of his scabbard and faced the hero's shade.
His ancestor smiled, and Link found himself smiling as well. This would not be a day he'd forget anytime soon.
They charged at each other.