88 Miles Per Hour
Henrietta Arand/Afternoon 2/Hyrule Field
Henrietta followed Ella back in the direction of Castle Town. It would be a bit of a journey, judging by the time they had traveled underground. Likely they wouldn't get back before dark, which brought its own dangers. The conversation was lacking. Ella was too caught up in her own thoughts and concerns regarding her Father and Uncle, but Alauth was not put out by the brief solace. Its attention was focused on the timeshift stone held within the constructed body of Arand. Alauth probed it with tendrils formed beneath her skin, wondering how to harness the magic it held. Wondering how to control it, rather than be subjected to the whims of its temporal tether. Perhaps it was being probed too much. A strange vibration began, and heat spread through the construct from the stone's position.
Henrietta raised her eyes to Ella, who had stopped to looked back.
"Uhm... Arand? Are you okay? You're... glowing."
Arand raised her hands and saw she was. A dim purple glow shined from the edges of her flesh. The stone had activated. Arand's eyes widened in surprise and fear. Ella jumped forward and grabbed her shoulders, even as Arand shouted at her. "Get back!"
There was a flash of purple, and the two women disappeared from Hyrule Field.
Hyrule Field/Who Knows When
Henrietta squeezed her eyes shut against the glow that seemed to be coming from her eyes themselves. Of course, this did nothing to block the light, until it ended of its own accord. When her eyes opened again, the only familiar sight was Ella's face, twisted in confusion and fear. Hyrule Field looked entirely different, and there was no sign of Hyrule Castle, or Castle Town, in the distance.
"What... just happened? Where are we?" Ella wondered, stunned.
Arand frowned. Not where, when. There was no way she'd reveal the truth about the timeshift stone to the girl. So, instead, she simply said what would have been expected in such a situation. "I... have no idea..."
The two of them gazed around them, trying to take stock of the situation. Ella's eyes seemed to have caught on something first, however. She pointed behind Arand. "Then... do you know... what the hell [/i]that[/i] is?"
Arand slowly turned, made cautious by the awestruck fear in Ella's voice. A figure strode menacingly toward them. His skin was black, more scales than flesh, accented with ripples of red. His head was crowned with a mane of fire. Not red hair, but literal flames that danced in the wind. A scowl seemed permanently twisted across his lips. Ella shook with terror. Arand merely stood there, confused. There was a sense of... recognition. As though Alauth should know this demonic being, but couldn't remember.
It stopped towering over the pair, and spoke with a voice like death itself.
"You think I would not recognize you in this form, sibling mine? Your tricks are useless against these eyes, as you well know. But what is this pitiful thing with you? Why do I find one of my own... consorting with a mere Hylian?"
At the sound of that voice, a single word was dredged up from a part of Alauth's being that it did not even remember had ever existed. Arand spoke this word, naming this nightmare she saw.
Ella's eyelids fluttered, and she collapsed into Arand's arms.
Henrietta Arand/The Land Before Time/Hyrule Field
"I thought you had left the lot of them back at that last camp. They are such cowards, mewling to their Goddess. There are none worthy among them, yet you save this human? Why, I wonder?"
I don't... remember. How do I know this Demon King? More to the point, how does he know me? How can he see this construct so easily? Thoughts frantically ran through Alauth's mind, and Arand failed to respond in time.
"It won't matter soon, anyway. Perhaps there may be even one interesting challenge at their final bastion, as I kill their Goddess and claim the Triforce. Tomorrow will be a glorious day of slaughter! I see you've changed your mind, though. That's good. I've never liked your methods of sneaking around, I'm glad you'll stand openly with me as this world falls."
Arand merely nodded as Demise walked ahead of her. He turned to look back at her, and if possible, the sneer on his face grew.
"No need to keep that form! It's almost insulting."
"If it's all the same to you, I'll use this form to transport the girl here." Alauth had no idea what form it was expected to assume, and the excuse of carrying Ella was all too convenient to pass.
The imposing beast merely snorted at Arand. "And you cannot drag the thing in some less offensive form?"
Arand shook her head. "I could, but it's easier on me to maintain this form, rather than change. I am... drained after all that's been done today, and would prefer a bit of rest. Not all can have your physique, Brother."
Again, miraculously, the sneer grew. "Well, you are correct. Very well. But be sure to get this thing out of my sight if you don't want me to kill it. The though of those cowards running and hiding as they have done fills me with nothing but contempt."
Ella had woken shortly after, but wisely remained silent, feigning a continuation of the sleep. Arand's fearful shushing had done wonders to help convince her, though she had many questions. The rest of the walk had gone by with great fear and suspense, that was ultimately disappointed by a lack of activity. The camp was impressive, to say the least. Where Arand had expected tents, or other hastily erected structures, there was instead what appeared to be a full-fledged town. The inhabitants were myriad in their appearances and forms. Some were humanoid, and others were so inhuman that it made Ella's head hurt just to glance at them.
Still, the pair of Hylian women had been left to their own devices in a simple shack. Demise had left them telling Arand to be ready to move out at dawn's first light, after she had some time to recover expended energies. The human girl was Arand's to do with as she pleased; Demise had no time for such lesser beings.
After sundown, the shack had become pitch black. Arand slowly crawled to where Ella lay against one of the walls.
"Ella." she whispered.
A whisper was returned. "Arand. What the hell is going on here? Demise? How do you know? How did he know you?"
"Quiet!" Arand hushed the girl in her own hushed voice. "I don't know. Honestly, I don't. It... must have something to do... with what... you know... earlier today..." Her voiced trailed off, unwilling to directly talk about the supposed tortures Black Betty had supposedly subjected her to what was only hours ago, hundreds of years in the future.
Ella's voice softened. "Oh... that... makes sense. I'm sorry, Arand."
Arand shook her head. "It doesn't matter... We both have to push down... all that, if we're going to live. Whatever she did to me... either it's allowing us to survive in this... wherever-the-hell we are, or it's sent us to some sort of fake world. Either way... it was obviously meant for me, not you. I think... Ella, do you trust me?"
Ella shook her head. Despite the darkness, despite Arand's inability to see anything, Alauth could. It could see in this pitch black as well as the noon-day sun. "I don't know," Ella said. "We only just met. But, I don't really have a choice, do I? And... well, youare a Castle Guard. And you haven't led us wrong yet, despite anything that bitch may have done to you." She pursed her lips into a pensive smile. "Alright. I trust you, Arand."
Arand couldn't help but smile at the strong young woman in front of her. She was turning out to be an interesting ally. Despite the complications, it seemed worthwhile to have saved her. "Okay. I'm going to play along with this illusion, until we can find a way to defeat it, or escape it. I promise you, I won't be tricked by it. I won't let Black Betty win. But I don't want us to die, either."
"I don't know." Ella replied with a nervous waver in her voice. "Doing anything she wants doesn't seem like a good idea. Or a safe idea."
"But she obviously wants this to happen. She wants something to from me. If I pretend to give it to her, then we should be safe up until we find a way to beat her."
Ella sounded a bit more confident. "Yeah... well, if it means beating her, I'm all for it. Just don't lose yourself, Arand. Remember Hyrule, and your oath to the King."
It was Arand's turn to pensively purse her lips. I wish I could remember.
The Scions – The Land Before Time – Hyrule Field
The demon hoard, a muster of primordial filth, spread out across the plain before him. Mortal kind, in its infancy, faced already its end of days. They could not hope to stand against the full might of the legions of the Ma; they would be ground into dust beneath a charge of horned, clawed, cloven-footed fiends. All that the Goddesses had poured their powers into creating, all that his mistress the mighty Hylia had been tasked with protecting would be overturned in utter darkness as the Ma’s earthly prison was rent apart by their avarice.
Even from afar, the young warrior could see the lights of their fires, could hear the sounds of their otherworldly howls and cries echoing on the winds, and knew that there was little hope for survival. At his back were all those who’d remained on the surface world, they who had remained after Hylia had commanded the exodus of humankind into the safety of the heavens above. Rock-hard Goron berserks and meticulously trained Zora spear-men were their only defense, and their numbers were a pittance when measured against the innumerable ranks of demonkind.
“They stalk the earth like waking nightmares.”
That voice, he let its melodious quality sing in his ears. He didn’t have to look back to know that it was She. Hylia, the living Goddess. No mere mortal could sing every syllable as she could; no man or beast could lift the spirit as she could merely by drawing near to him. She was the guardian of all that the Triune had given them; he was but her right hand, a pale reflection of her radiance.
“They do at that.” He replied softly, cringing at the way his own words sounded like grinding stones by comparison. But that was not the worst of it. “Not for much longer, though.”
He was surprised by how bitter he sounded, but as he turned to look upon her he felt his breath catch in his chest. She stood before him as a woman, but where a human woman might be beautiful, she was perfection personified. Her golden hair spilled like rays of sunlight down her back, her flawless skin glowed with divine light and the elegant, snowy white dress hugging the contours of her figure seemed to come alight with it as well.
Even the sword at her hip did nothing to mar the perfection that Hylia embodied.
“I am glad of you,” said she as her wistful eyes gazed out over the horrors arrayed against them. “I may be the Triune’s chosen, but you have always been mine.”
“You honor me,” he said with downcast eyes, feeling his cheeks grow hot at the affectionate caress of her words. “I am but a servant who has sought what enlightenment may exist in this bleak world. You have uplifted me from the mire of humanity; you are our guiding light.”
She smiled, and he felt his spirits soar that he could have made it so. She glanced to the forces amassed at their backs and his gaze followed. “Do not disparage yourself so, love. These gathered here with us look to me to guide them, but they look to you to lead. I am the light that shelters them, but you are the flame that gives them courage. On the morrow, as my light wanes, your own must burn all the brighter for my absence.”
“Must it be so?” he asked, feeling his stomach turn to a pit of ice as he contemplated their course. Not for the first time he felt a powerful hatred for the counselor who’d proposed their plan. “Must you be the one to do this?”
“Who else is there?” And for the first time he heard a hint of sadness like a discordant note in her voice. Suddenly impassioned at her vulnerability, he leaned in and pressed his lips against her cheek and felt the softness and the warmth of her. For a moment there was silence between them and then he drew back, suddenly embarrassed. But she only smiled and trailed her hand affectionately down his cheek.
“I remember when you were Celeste, and you were not weighed down by such burdens,” he muttered, his voice thick with emotion. “Now you are Hylia, and I understand what you must do. I will help you carry your burden if I can.”
There was tenderness in her eyes, but before a loving word could be spoken in return a terrible cry rose up over the field from the legions arrayed before them. Instead when she spoke, it was with the stony resolve of the First Scion. “Steel yourself, my love, for the moment is nigh.”
Ella Huntley/Days of Future's Past/Demon Camp
As the first rays of sun lightened the cloud on the horizon, the camp was awash in activity. Every creature was preparing to leave, readying for the final assault. In their shack, Arand woke first.
Ella groaned. She had, understandably, not slept well.
"Ella. Listen. I had a dream last night. I feel... something. I think it might be what Black Betty wanted me to learn here. Magic."
Ella's eyes shot open, focusing on Arand. "No! Remember! If she wants it, then it can't be good."
Arand shook her head. "No, not if I can control it. Then we can use it against her. We can use it to survive this hellhole she's made for us!"
"You can't!" Ella shook her head, too. "It's too dangerous. You know that. It'll only corrupt you."
Arand smiled at Ella. "Well, that's why I have you, huh? If you can't trust me, at least I can trust you. Stick by my side, and if I do turn all evil, you can stop me." She patted one of the blades strapped to Ella's hip.
"Well..." Ella considered the prospect. Then she sighed. "Yeah, I can. Dad taught me well enough for that. Just... don't make me have to, alright?"
Arand held out her hand. "It's a promise." Ella took her hand and they shook on it.
"So, this... magic?" Ella prompted.
Arand lifted her hand. "Here. Watch this." Suddenly, her hand disappeared in a twinkle of light. "I can do that to any part I concentrate on. I think I can even do it to you. You know... hide you from these demons until we find a way to escape?"
Ella watched, amazed. "Even to me? Really? Is it safe?"
Arand just shrugged. "Let's find out!" She touched her fingertip to Ella's forehead, and another shimmer of light crossed Ella's eyes. When she looked down at herself, she saw nothing. "Okay, admittedly, this is really damn cool. Do you have to be touching me the whole time?"
"Yeah," Arand said, pulling her finger away from Ella. In the same shimmer, Ella's body reappeared. "I could... uh... give you a piggyback ride?"
Ella gave Arand a dead-pan stare. Arand cracked a grin and the two broke into a nervous laugh.
Henrietta Arand (Alauth)/Later that Morning/The Crater (Pre-Sealed Grounds)
Demise stood at the forefront of his demon horde. The chittering mass surrounded the edge of the crater, with their leader dead center of the circular ramp leading into the depths. From below, a holy light shone up through the misty gloom. A line of armored Gorons faced the Demon King; Zora spears were readied to thrust past this living shield-wall into the attackers. Demise surveyed this defense, and laughed.
"This is what they have to stand against me? I have personally slain more, and this is all that Hylia can muster against my entire army. Pitiful. It is nearly a waste of my time to defeat you."
He began to stride forward, and the Zora's readied their spears while Gorons assumed martial stances. Demise let out an amused grunt. "Spare yourselves the embarrassment, and me the time, and just bring out your Goddess." Not one Hylian moved. "No?" Demise sighed. "Very well..."
He drew his wicked black sword and swung the jagged edge, releasing a wave of evil that sent the Gorons sprawling into their Zora compatriots. The demons rushed forward as the tide broke. Hell was unleashed on Hyrule. The Hylians countered when a wave of goldenrod light washed across their ranks. With a zealous fervor, the Gorons reformed their lines and met the charging demons. Battle was met in earnest. Arand did her best to avoid the carnage and keep Ella safe; for the moment she was forgotten in the slaughter.
Demise cut a swathe into the Hylian forces. His sneer still twisted his lips. "Still far too easy."
Still, where Demise was not present, the lines held. The demons were stalled at the lip of the crater, and Demise slaughtered his way deeper and deeper. He reached halfway down the ramp, his eyes set on the light shining deep in the mist. Arand's eyes were likewise focused on the light. It was familiar. It brushed against Alauth's psyche, like a warm caress from a loved one. Alauth knew it had to reach the light before Demise. It was the only way to unlock the mystery of this past that Alauth felt it should know, but could not recall ever having had lived.
"Hold on." Arand warned Ella. The pair disappeared as Alauth released the form of Arand and brought its now shapeless construct to surround Ella's body, draping her with its cloaking light. It was an easy manipulation of light for Alauth, simply allowing the light emitted from one side to match the light absorbed by the opposite. Then, it constructed similarly cloaked wings sprouting from Ella's back. "Here we go!" Alauth launched Ella off the edge of the crater and the two soared down into the mists of the crater.
Henrietta Arand (Alauth)/Ancient Hyrule/The Crater (Pre-Sealed Grounds)
Alauth alighted in the deepest depths of the crater. What was there was indescribable by Ella, but to Alauth it felt almost like looking in a funhouse mirror. It was similar, but disproportionately large compared to any construct Alauth could create, and the sense of power radiating from it was impressive. It was the source of the glow they had seen from above. Arand took a stop forward, but they had only just beaten Demise. Her curiosity would have to wait as Demise charged forward into the crater. He stopped, glancing between the unknown entity and the supposedly invisible Arand.
"What is the meaning of this? Why are you here? I left you up there with the army."
A voice spoke from nowhere, though it was obviously the glowing entity that had been waiting here. "What? You forget so easily, Demise. Always the strongest Ma, never the smartest. I've been here the whole time, in order to carry out the plan."
Demise, as was his nature, sneered. "Is that so? Then where is Hylia?"
The disembodied voice laughed. "I think you misunderstand to what plan I am referring, dear brother."
The light shifted, and flowed a brilliant green. A warcry bellowed down from the land above; a massive army of Hylian creatures coalesced from the forests surrounding the area. Gorons, Zoras, strange mechanical creatures, even Kikwis joined the charge. And at the forefront was a single human in brilliant armor, young and virile. His gleaming silver sword cut down the demons left and right, driving them closer to the edge. The ground began to crack, and a swarm of Mogma claws broke through the crater's lip. The entire precipice collapsed under the demons, spilling the horde in an avalanche of dirt and rock.
Demise howled in anger at the green-glowing thing. "What have you done? Traitor! You turn your back on your own kind!"
The voice of the entity was not afraid. It sounded almost amused. '"You may may have been able to see through my constructs, but you could never see through me, Demise."'
Demise charged forward, yelling. "I will end you!"
'"And you've only ever been able to see through the constructs, never inside!"'
The shape of the thing wavered and split, revealing a woman of divine perfection. She deftly raised her sword and blocked Demise's strike with a confident little smirk on her beautiful lips. Conflicting sparks of holy and obscene energy skittered from their blades. "Hello, Demise."
The Demon King's eye twitched. "I'll deal with you once this bitch is dead, Malauth!"
Arand's eyes widened in recognition. Malauth! I remember now! This was a battle from antiquity far beyond the capabilities of either of the visitors from the future. Arand backed away from the bursts of diametrically opposed energies, shielding Ella from the worst of its effects, and watched.
Demise and Hylia were locked in mortal martial contest. Hylia was unleashing all her powers to end the threat to Hyrule, but it seemed there was no standing against the King of the Ma. With a powerful overhead strike he beat Hylia's sword aside and raised his massive foot to plant a potent kick in Hylia's solar plexus. The Goddess crumpled to the ground, gasping for breath that would not come. Demise lifted his weapon, gloating.
"And so not even a Goddess could withstand the might of Demise. Soon this world will fall."
As Demise swung low his blade, a shout tore down from the Hylian ranks. "No!" The young man that was their leader lept from where he had charged a third of the way through the demonic forces on the ramp and intercepted Demise's killing blow. He rolled past Hylia, coming up with a mystic looking spike in one hand and his sword in the other. "I." He spun to lash out at the Demon King. "Will not." He parried a blow meant to decapitate him. "Let." His sword bit out again, rebounding from Demise's own weapon and flying from his hands. "Celeste." A squeal of of static erupted into the crater as he blocked Demise's sword with the spike, sending the Demon King's own weapon rocketing into the distance. "Die!" He followed through with his parry and drove the spike into Demise's forehead.
All activity ceased, and the world became silence. Demise's eyes rolled back to look at the spike jutting from his head. The sneer finally disappeared from his face, replaced by the most terrifying of smirks. Then, the crater exploded.
The young man was blown backward by the blast as arcs of divine and profane essences intermingled in resonating waves of all-consuming power. He collided with Arand and Ella with the full force of a Din's wrath and the trio disappeared from that plane of existence.