When Link entered the cabin, the first thing he noticed was that it smelled musty and everything was still. As his eyes adjusted to the dim light, he could see shelves lined with books and rolls of parchment that were likely maps.
He took a few more steps in—wary of some sort of trap—but everything stayed quiet and still.
Growing bolder, he moved to the wall with the books and began to help himself to the contents of the shelves.
He turned to unload his find on a table when he noticed his father cautiously peeking in.
"I think it's safe for you to come in," Link said. "Maybe the magic's worn off. Or maybe it was set so that only a Hylian could enter."
Mars cautiously stepped into the cabin, but when nothing happened, he moved with a little more confidence to the table where Link was spreading out the books.
"Did Vizier Ryu give you an education?" Mars asked, looking at one book upside down.
"Yes, one of the best."
"I'm glad," Mars said, putting the book back on the table. "I can't tell one mark from another. Alfon was always the bright one in the family."
Link grabbed an armload of parchments from the shelf and put them on the table. As he expected, they were maps.
"I bet you can read a map better than me, though," Link said.
"Oh, aye, I can read a map. I can figure out pictures real easy."
Link pushed the rolls over to him. "Start looking through those and see if there's anything useful in them—like a way to get off this island or landmass or whatever it is."
Mars began to examine the maps while Link flipped through the books, looking for information on light or dark magic.
After a while, though, he got tired of standing up. He looked around the room for a chair, but the only one there had a body sitting it—presumably Gardamon's.
Link stopped to look at the man. His body had mummified, but other than being a bit wrinkled and very dried out, it was very human-like. Or maybe that should have been Hylian-like, because Gardamon had the same long, pointed ears that Link and Zelda had.
He had obviously been very old when he died; he had very little hair left on top of his head, and it was white and wispy. He also had a long white beard that went down to his knees.
And then Link noticed that he had died clutching a small piece of paper in his left hand. Curious, Link reached for it and gently tugged it from his grasp.
I have foreseen your coming, Hero. Put your hand to mine.
Link was so startled, he took a step back.
His father noticed. "What's wrong?" he asked anxiously.
It took Link a moment to find his voice. "This piece of parchment was in his hand. It says, "I have foreseen your coming, Hero. Put your hand to mine."
"What does that mean?" Mars asked.
"I think…. See, Princess Zelda and I can speak telepathically—and Master Ryu and I could as well. Once you make a connection with another Hylian, you can speak to them. And to make a connection with them, you must touch hands—palm to palm."
Mars came around the table to stand beside Link. Together, they both looked at the mummified corpse.
"But… he's dead," Mars said. "It won't work… will it? How can you talk to someone who's dead?"
"I have no idea. But he says he foresaw my coming—assuming I'm the hero he's talking about—so he must have known I wouldn't get here until after he had died. This all seems to have been set up for me to find—like the fact that I could get into the house and you couldn't."
"Well… I don't know," Mars said timidly.
"If it doesn't work, I won't have lost anything," Link said practically. "But the man was obviously a wizard, so he might have left behind a spell that will help me in some way."
Link reached out and gingerly touched the mummy's right hand, which lay on its lap, palm up.
Link was shocked when he found himself floating in the same warm, golden place that he had been in when he had touched Zelda and Master Ryu.
"You must be Link," a voice said. Link didn't recognize it.
"Are you Gardamon?" Link asked.
Link exhaled in relief. "I have come a long way to find you."
"I know. I have been awaiting your coming."
"How did you know I was coming?"
"Oh, I used to scry," he said casually. "Not only that, but I read the stars. I foresaw your birth years before you were born."
"Master Gardamon, are you aware of what's happening in Hyrule?"
"Then I'll be brief: do you know how to kill the demons and close up the rift?"
"I do. In fact, you need only one thing to accomplish both goals: the Master Sword."
"The Master Sword?"
"Yes. It is an ancient weapon forged by the Goddess Hylia herself. It is made of heavenly materials and is imbued with such strong light magic that it will defeat any evil—even demons from the very depths of the Dark World."
"Where can I find it?"
"It has passed into the keeping of the brothers of the Order of Hylia. They guard it at their monastery in Shi-Ha."
"I know them!" Link said with surprise. "They tutored me as a child."
"Yes. They have been the guardians of the knowledge of the Knights of Hyrule for thousands of years. That is why Ryu took you there."
"Do you know Master Ryu? Can I speak to him as I'm speaking to you?"
"No, I'm afraid not."
"Why not? Because he wasn't a wizard?"
"No, because… I'm sorry, but he is in the Dark World."
"What do you mean?" Link asked, confused.
"There is a light side and a dark side to the Other World. I am in the light side, but he is in the dark side. I can communicate with you as a privilege of my being here, but he is not allowed to communicate with anyone outside the Dark World."
Link was stunned silent for a moment. "But… he did communicate with me. That's how I knew to come here and look for you."
"Did he?" Gardamon said with surprise.
"Yes, in a dream. Two dreams, actually."
"Hmm," Gardamon said thoughtfully. He was quiet for a moment, then offered an explanation. "Demons can communicate via dreams—in fact, they are responsible for nightmares. And demons can transfer their powers to others, so it's possible that Ryu made some sort of deal with one so that he could speak to you. But I shudder to think what price he paid to do so; demons do not share their power without a price, and they prefer to trade in pain and suffering."
Link winced to think about his mentor offering himself up as a sacrifice so that he could give Link information and warn him of danger.
"Why on earth would he be there?" Link asked Gardamon. "I thought only evil people were cursed to go there? Master Ryu was no evil person."
"He was not sent there by the gods; he was sent there by Nagadii's magic. And once you go there, you cannot come back. You can't even be reborn into the world of the living."
Link was rocked to his very core. He could suddenly hear the King's last words to him echoing in his head: "There's no coming back from where you're going."
"The King was going to send me to the Dark World so I couldn't reincarnate again," Link said with horror. "He was going to separate me and Princess Zelda for all of time."
"Yes. There was nothing worse that the King of Hyrule could have possibly done—no greater sin that he could have committed—than to try to thwart the will of the gods for all of time. If he had only tried to kill you, his punishment would not have been as great, but as it is, he too is confined to the Dark World for all eternity. He brought his curse down on himself.
"And, unfortunately, it has fallen on the people of Hyrule, too. And not just them, but the entire world as you know it. For setting himself against the gods and interfering with their plans, they have decreed that your land shall be destroyed by the demons unleashed by Nagadii. Only when the demons have done their work, and your land is devoid of life, will they force the demons back to the Dark World and remake the land."
Link felt his heart fall to his feet. "Then there is no hope."
"I didn't say that."
"But you just said that the gods have decreed this."
"They have decreed that they will allow this to happen—not that no one may stop it. Link, you are personally protected by the three goddesses: Din, Nayru, and Farore. Your world belongs to them and they will do everything within their power to save the people there. You are their weapon against this evil."
Link was silent for a moment, a thousand questions running through his head. But one came to mind very strongly. He hesitated to ask it, though, for fear that the answer would be negative. If he knew for certain that Zelda was no longer alive, then he could no longer hide and pretend; he would be forced to confront the full onslaught of his pain.
He drew in a deep breath and steeled all of his courage. "Do you know where Princess Zelda is? Does she… does she live?"
"Yes… for now."
Link's heart felt as if it was going to leap out of his chest, but it fell back down just as quickly. "What do you mean?" he asked anxiously.
"She is still adrift at sea, but she is nearing land. I believe she will come ashore somewhere on the western-most coast of Erenrue. But she needs help."
"Will someone find her? Can you see that?" Link was leaning forward, on his tiptoes, as if he could spring forward to her rescue.
"Not as such," Gardamon replied, "but I know she will be cared for."
"How? I can't get off this island… or land… whatever it is. Father said the wind and currents both move towards us."
"Hylians can do more than just talk to one another; they can also teleport."
Link took a moment to digest what he said. "What do you mean exactly?"
"If you want to go to someone, then you only have to want to go to them—and they have to want you to come to them. If you both desire it, then you will teleport to their side."
"So… I can bring Princess Zelda here? So I can take care of her?"
"It would be much preferable if you went to her—that way you can continue your mission to retrieve the Master Sword. If you bring her here, then neither of you will be able to leave because there will be no one on the other side of the ocean to call you back."
Link agreed with his logic.
"So… you can speak to me from the Other World," Link said slowly, a plan forming in his head. "Can I teleport someone out of the Other World? Like Master Ryu?"
"I'm sorry, but no. The barrier between the mortal and immortal worlds is much greater than a band of storms or strong currents. Only the gods can remove a soul from this world and place it in the mortal world."
"What about my father? If I hold onto him, can I take him with me when I leave?"
"No. Only Hylians can travel through this plane, which is somewhere between the moral and immortal worlds, because we are somewhere between mortal and immortal."
Link sighed unhappily.
"It is to your credit that you think of helping others," Gardamon praised. "Perhaps the gods will one day reward your kindness and grant your prayers. But until then, you must follow your destiny and save your world."
"What can you tell me about me and Princess Zelda? Are we fated to be together, as Master Ryu suspected?"
"Most definitely. As you probably know, Hylians are descended from the goddess Hylia. But human blood has weakened our blood over time until it is barely present. In a few more generations, there will be no Hylians born at all. You and Zelda have been chosen to restore the bloodline. If you don't, then the gods will allow the humans of your world to be wiped out—either in this catastrophe or another—and they will start again."
"You make it sound like humans aren't wanted. Why were they allowed to intermingle with us if they weren't?"
"Link, you only know a small portion of the entire world. There are multiple races—each living on their own landmass. Once upon a time, only Hylians lived in our portion of the world. Then humans—who came from this land—sailed across the ocean and settled in Hyrule. It was then that the gods created a barrier around each landmass to keep the inhabitants sealed inside—a combination of destructive storms and impassible currents and unfavorable winds. But for our world, it was already too late; humans intermarried with Hylians and their blood eventually came to dominate.
"There is nothing wrong with humans, but they are living in a place which is not theirs, and—albeit without malice—they have taken away the land that belongs to the Hylians. Hence the gods desire to purge our world of them.
"But even though they don't belong in our world, the goddesses have pity on the humans and Hylians both who live in their domain. After all, there is no person in our world who doesn't carry Hylian blood. So the goddesses decided that rather than wipe everyone out and start again, they would just restore the bloodline slowly, over generations, in the same way that it was weakened: through marriage."
"You said that humans are from this land. Are there still some here?"
"Yes, but wars have ravished their population and they are few in number and far from where you are. It would take you many months of travel to reach them. And I think I would not tempt the gods; who knows what may happen if we were to mingle with them and upset the balance in their world as they did in ours."
"So my father must remain here alone?"
"I am afraid so—at least so far as I can see. I can't see the future as I once did, but I can see everything that's happening all over the world."
Link was thoughtful for a moment. "Is there anything else I should know?"
"Nagadii is eliminating heirs to the throne of Hyrule and pressing men into military service."
"I knew he would kill to keep the throne for himself, but why is he growing the army?"
"He fears that Princess Zelda will be able to retake the throne if she manages to get help from her family in Erenrue. They have the largest standing army in the world, after all. And Zelda's grandfather is reckoned a fierce warrior. When he was a young man, newly come to the throne, Shi-Ha declared war on Erenrue. The war lasted less than a year before Shi-Ha sued for peace. King Ranis won every battle by an overwhelming majority."
"Is there reason to hope that he will help us?"
"Yes, I think you can expect that… if you can get to him. If Zelda comes ashore where I expect, you should be able to move due east and hit Pallis, the capital city of Erenrue, in… about two weeks. But there are demons already loose in the world, and the wild animals are growing more fierce as a result."
"Do you have another suggestion?"
"No, I think it would be best for you to take the princess to Erenrue. Her family will, at least, protect her. But there's a good chance they will help her retake the throne."
"And the Master Sword?"
"You will still need to retrieve it and kill all the demons. And that will not be an easy task," he warned. "Normal weapons will only stun minor demons for a short while; they will be completely ineffective against the major demons. So the best you can do, if you happen upon any on your way to Erenrue, is to stun them and run away. But you should take note of where they dwell. Once you have the Master Sword, you will have to return there and eliminate them completely. Only when all of the demons are purged from the world will you be able to close up the rift in the castle."
"Do you know how many we have to fight?"
"No, but I will see if I can learn more and help you on your quest. You will be able to contact me any time you need me—just as if I were alive."
Link paused, racking his brain for any more questions. Gardamon had been a font of knowledge—just as Master Ryu had hoped he would be.
"Is there anything else I should know?" Link said.
"I don't think so. Not at this time, anyways. Take one of my maps and mark where you find demons—the better to hunt them down later."
"Rest and gather your strength. I will tell you when to go to Princess Zelda."
Link felt tears well up in his eyes. "Thank you," he said with heartfelt gratitude.
He felt himself slowly being pulled backwards, out of the peaceful golden space.
"Never forget that the goddesses want you to succeed," Gardamon said, his voice beginning to fade away. "You will always find help, just when you least expect it."