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Dungeon Runner is the third chapter of Interloper War Season 2. It follows Lynn during her solo journey in the Arbiters Grounds.

She's Willing to Sacrifice Edit

Lynn Hothnite/Late Morning 5/Gerudo Desert (Arbiter's Grounds)

Lynn descended on the disc of ice, landing on the rough of the Arbiter's Grounds. After she released the control of the disc, it immediately dissipated in the desert heat. She turned in s circle, examining the surroundings.

"Divulge thy moorings, Spirit! Present thyself to me!"

There was silence for a moment as the roof of the establishment remained empty. Then, a flash of light shot up from the middle of the space. Lynn huddled within her cloak, shielding herself from the radiance.

"You! Evil! I would have you gone from this holy place, foul creature!"

Lynn laughed at the being before her. "If thou art able, banish me. But thou art powerless. Mandate by the fool Goddesses. I am Hylian now; I am Sheikah. Thou shalt suffer my request!"

The thing's eyes narrowed, glaring at the cowled woman. "If you wish it, you must work for it. Mandated as it be, I cannot deny the Shiekah you possess, but if you die in acquiring that which you seek, it is not my burden to bear.

"You know that this place is the ancient prison for the Desert Thieves, I'm sure. With this war, the guards were called away to the Army, leaving me and my wards to watch over the prisoners here. But... I can only indirectly effect this world, and my wards have been overpowered. The Gerudo have escaped, and they now overrun the Arbiter's Grounds. My powers have allowed me only this: to keep the doors sealed against them, that they not escape to take vengeance on the Hylians for their incarceration, and join the Interloper forces. Still, the Gerudo are known to be master thieves and strong in magic; it is only a matter of time before they are able to overcome the seal, unlock the door, and rush down to destroy that which I am bound to protect.

"I do not wish to help the vile soul within you, but I can turn you to goodness, in some fashion. If you truly desire my Blessing, then put down this riot, stop these Gerudo. In even this single action, serve Hyrule's greater purpose, and I will give you the Blessing of Garo. Otherwise, leave, and I will await the arrival of a true Warrior of Light, he who deserves my Blessing."

"This which thou lade upon me I take in earnest. By day's end, thy Light will be mine."

The Light Spirit Garo shrunk back down into its spring, and a panel of the floor slid aside, opening a path to a staircase down into the ancient prison. This path Hothnite took, descending into the darkness, fingertips frosted and ready to kill.

[b][color=darkblue]Lynn Hothnite[/color]/Morning 5/Arbiter's Grounds[/b]

In the darkness of the interior of Arbiter's Grounds, Lynn could hear the murmur of conversation. She rounded a corner, and entered into torchlight. Three woman, tan-skinned and lithe, were standing in the corridor. They had been talking, until Lynn came into view.

"Oh, hell. That's a Sheikah. Dammit, how'd the Castle find out?"

"Doesn't matter, there's just the one. Kill her!"

As one the trio charged toward Lynn. But Hothnite merely smirked and rested her right hand on the wall. A soft crackle, no louder than the flames of the torch, and then a pattern of frost formed under her hand, spreading down the wall and over the floor. The Gerudo left bootprints in the frost behind them, layers of their footwear freezing and sticking to the floor. Then they left footprints as the soles of their boots completely fell apart. Then blood footprints as they're feet froze to the floor, another laying sloughing off with each step.

It took a few short steps for them to realize that it hurt, and then they screamed. Suddenly, with numbed feet burning with frozen pain, they lost their balance and tumbled to the floor. An unfortunate turn of events, as their exposed skin froze to the sub-zero stone and stuck, peeling from their bodies. Their screams increased in pitch and intensity as they rolled, trying to escape the pain, only to cause more harm as more of their flesh was torn away by the grasping claws of icy stone. It was minutes of torture before the Gerudo lost enough blood to fall unconscious. Lynn removed her hand from the wall, a smirk still alighted on her lips, and stepped over the bloody masses of the dying Gerudo.

"[color=darkblue]A tripartite death leaves but a fane to eradicate.[/color]"

[b][color=darkblue]Lynn Hothnite[/color]/Noon 5/Arbiter's Grounds[/b]
It was easy going, surprisingly. The Gerudo milled about in groups, and near all the traps were already disabled, or sprung as evidenced by the dead Gerudo found near them. What groups she did come across proved little challenge, though each one slowed her down more than the last. On the third group of soldiers, a group she should have avoided consisting of seven women, she managed only to kill two before the others broke morale and fled. Two more she killed as they ran, but the final three escaped. No doubt they had spread word of her presence, and raised an alarm; every group thereafter was prepared for her, each harder to fight than the last owing to their greater preparation times.

It was, quite frankly, becoming annoying. And now this group she faced had somehow managed to break into the armory the Army had left behind 'in case of riot'. The irony was not lost upon Lynn. They faced her with crossbows from behind a barricade in the only hallway that could lead her deeper into their fortifications. At least, by the volume of flying bolts, ten Gerudo, and probably more there without crossbows. A formidable force, all factors considered.

Lynn inhaled, a deep breath, and closed her eyes. She was sitting cross-legged on the floor, back around a corner. Then, lengthily, she released the breath, the air cooling with the exhalation. Then, she drew in another breath, releasing it colder than it was. She had been doing just that for the past hour or so, and the temperature was drastically colder in the hall than it had been when she started. The chill, of course, was worse nearer to Lynn, fading as it went outward and mingled with the unaltered air. None of the Gerudo were willing to climb over the barricade and seek her on the other side, fearing death if they moved, though their curiosity was mounting in the face of the dropping heat.

And still Lynn continued her breathing exercise, each repetition cooling the air another degree. Eventually, she was ready. She slowly stood, still pacing her breath to maintain the chill, and with sore legs walked around the corner, the freezing air following with her. In an instant the Gerudo saw her and parted from the fire they had made to keep themselves warm, taking up crossbows and aiming down the hall. They let loose a volley that screamed down the hall. And stopped, mid-air, colliding with a wall of literally frozen air. The fool thieves had given Lynn time to breath the air down to near absolute zero, and their weapons were useless. Lynn continued the slow stride forward, approaching the barricades. Beginning to panic, the Gerudo fired faster, but every shot flew only to a point and then hung frozen in place. Lynn got closer.

Soon, the cold was too much stress on the crossbows and the strings broke, rendering the weapons useless. The closer Lynn was to the Gerudo fortifications, the closer too was her shield of super-chilled air. A few of the Gerudo took up swords and charged over the barricade, trying to reach her before the cold overcame them. They ran, and then seemed to hit something solid, and they were flash frozen; skin, hair, clothes, eyeballs, nostrils, throat, tongue and mouth, lungs... everything froze in the chunk absolute zero, shattering under the stress of such an instant contraction. Onward Lynn moved, surrounded by her shield of coldness. The edge of freezing contacted the barricade, and the wood creaked and groaned, splintering and shattering as it contracted and froze. Some of the Gerudo fled, running down the hall. Others foolishly remained and were treated the same as their useless barricades.

Lynn pushed past the frozen splinters of wood and flesh, trailing the remaining Gerudo as they retreated down the straight hall. She inhaled, then blew out the breath with force. A deadly wind kicked up eddies in the frozen air, and a motionless gale blew down the hall, overtaking the fleeing women. They met the same fate as their allies.

Surveying the death around here, Lynn resumed normal breathing. Then she continued deeper into the Arbiter's Grounds. The chunk of absolute zero remained where it was, warming back to normal over the course of a long time.

[hr] [b][color=darkblue]Lynn Hothnite[/color]/Noon 5/Arbiter's Grounds[/b]
Lynn strode through the doorway and into what appeared to be the central chamber of the prison. It was mostly empty, excepting a few pillars and four Gerudo. They had been waiting for her, no doubt. It wouldn't matter. She'd managed to kill the others before, she would kill these the same.

"[color=tomato]You won't be going any further, Demoness.[/color]"

Lynn laughed.

"[color=tomato]Laugh all you want! We led this uprising, we killed every Hylian here! We are the best the Gerudo have to offer, and together we will stop you. Together we will save our sisters.[/color]"

"[color=darkblue]Put to the proof shall you be parted. Then shall none of you pass but unto Paradise, or to the Pit.[/color]"

They looked at her, confusion entering among their wrathful expressions. But such passed quickly as the presumed leader, their mouthpiece, let out a cry and charged down toward Lynn, undeterred. Lynn merely stood, waiting, until the Gerudo was within striking distance. The tanned woman lunged, using her charge to add power to the attack, and Lynn sidestepped from the path.

As she passed, Hothnite grabbed her wrist with one hand and pressed her left against the woman's elbow. She wrenched, using the momentum of the charge to aid in breaking the Gerudo's arm. The assailant screamed, and stumbled deeper into the hallway through which Lynn had entered. The three remaining Gerudo watched in surprise, their leader essentially removed from the battle in a single action. Lynn disappeared into the darkness behind her, following the injured Gerudo.

The trio in the main concourse heard more screaming, and then a sound (something like 'squalkch') stopped the voice, leaving behind only the echoing of footsteps returning down the hall. Lynn stepped back into the open area, brushing her palms.

"[color=darkblue]And the succeeding unsuccessful shall be...?[/color]" She skimmed her cold gaze over the Gerudo. They began to back away from their Demoness.

[b][color=darkblue]Lynn Hothnite[/color]/Noon 5/Arbiter's Grounds[/b]

The three remaining Gerudo stared in shock at Hothnite for a brief moment. Then, all three fled, each bolting in a different direction. One crouched, jumping impossibly through a hole in the ceiling. Another ran off to the opposite side of the room from Lynn, escaping through another passage. The final Gerudo left at quick pace through the door in the back of the hall, which fell in place with a thud and the clicking of a lock. Lynn chuckled.

"[color=darkblue]And now must I hunt the first to pursue the last? Very well.[/color]"

She closed her eyes, and propelled herself up through the hole in the ceiling. She arrived in a room with only one exit, which she took. On the other side of the door was a circular room lined with torches but otherwise apparently empty. Shew stepped into the center of the room, and there was a scrape of stone on stone. A secret passage under one of the lights opened and the Gerudo jumped out, slashing at Lynn who just managed to dodge. Then, the Gerudo retreated into another of the hidden passages under another lantern.

"[color=darkblue]Coy.[/color]"

Lynn removed the Biggoron's Sword from its sheath, allowing it to grow to full size, and readied herself for the resurgence of the Gerudo. The scraping noise returned, and a door revealed itself under another torch. Again Lynn was caught by surprise, apparently there were tunnels surrounding the room that allowed the Gerudo to move and attack from any angle. This time, Lynn parried the attack and again the Gerudo ducked into cover behind yet another torch.

For a third time, stone scraped against stone and a door opened. The Gerudo came out again, but Lynn was ready for her this time. To the Gerudo's merit, she wasn't surprised when Lynn met her head on and stopped her passing through the room, and merely jumped back after her attack was blocked, disappearing instead through the selfsame door through which she had appeared. Hothnite slowly bored of the situation.

Instead of waiting for yet another hit-and-run assault, Lynn issued forth a frosty blast, expelling ice magic from her fingers which extinguished all but one of the torches, lining the walls with a thin layer of frost everywhere but near the lit torch. She heard a muted gasp and grunt of frustration. The doors, all but one, had been frozen shut. With resignation, her foe opened the final viable door and stepped through to face Hothnite.

"[color=tomato]Smart move,[/color]" she said.

Lynn nodded, shifting into a fighting stance. "[color=darkblue]Shall we?[/color]"

The Gerudo charged her.

Lynn Hothnite/Noon 5/Arbiter's Grounds

Lynn left the circular room and the fresh Gerudo corpse inside it. She focused magic on the Biggoron's Sword, then hit it against the stone wall causing the frozen blood to shatter and fall to the floor where it melted into puddles. She sheathed the weapon in its magical sheath and dropped back through the hole into the main concourse.

In the main room, she turned her gaze to the western door, twirling in her finger the key she had taken from the dead Gerudo. "Thus continues a game once played, and played again. Twice more shall it repeat; no more, 'haps less."

She unlocked the door and continued her pursuit of the remaining fodder.

Our Love Edit

[b][color=darkblue]Lynn Hothnite[/color]/Early Afternoon 5/Arbiter's Grounds[/b]

Another set of spikes rocketed up from the ground, threatening to impale Hothnite in multiple, and critical locations. She jumped back as soon as she heard the latch release on the mechanism and avoided the death trap. It was slow going, but slow was safe and she would prefer not to be perforated. And she knew the Gerudo wasn't going anywhere. Call it a feeling in her bones.

A few more minutes of bored walking, punctuated with mere second of avoiding being punctured, and she had navigated the trapped room. Likely designed more to inspire fear than anything, the room had failed to actually impede her progress through the Grounds. She passed through the door.

"[color=tomato]I knew you would follow me, Sheikah. But when I'm done, you won't follow anyone else. Ever again.[/color]"

"[color=darkblue]Thy friends will keen if thy sword is keen as thy wit, Gerudo.[/color]" Lynn's retort came quick as she scanned the room. Bricks and blocks scattered around, as though the area had been under renovations before the start of the war drew resources away. There were a few scattered bodies, the remnants of the Hylian guard that had been posted on a skeleton shift to watch the prison.

"[color=tomato]None will keen for you after I run you through! If you can even reach me![/color]"

Lynn laughed. "T[color=darkblue]is a thing you know not, of great import.[/color]"

The Gerudo sneered, looking down at Hothnite from her perch high in the scaffolding. Lynn merely maintained the smirk across her lips. "[color=darkblue]I can fly.[/color]"

Lynn outstretched her arms, releasing her magic and again using it to levitate, slowly closing the distance between the two. The Gerudo's eyes widened in surprised, then she cursed under her breath. "[color=tomato]Should have known... Demoness.[/color]" The nickname amused Hothnite. "[color=tomato]But, I've got my own surprises up my sleeves![/color]"

She stepped aside, revealing a lever that had been behind her back. With a quick movement, she hit the switch on it and the lever fell. The quick clanking of an unwinding chain filled the room, and the chandelier fell on its chain, intercepting Lynn midair and crashing, with her underneath, to the ground. [hr]

[b][color=darkblue]Lynn Hothnite[/color]/Early Afternoon 5/Arbiter's Grounds[/b]
The Gerudo closely eyed the fallen chandelier, looking for the body underneath it.

"[color=tomato]Ha. That was easy enough.[/color]"

She turned to head down the hallway now blocked by the light fixture, but stopped when she heard shifting metal behind her. Turning back, she saw Lynn Hothnite crawl out from underneath the chandelier, bleeding from lacerations and small cuts peppering her body.

"[color=darkblue]A fair artifice. But naught necessitated.[/color]"

The fear on the Gerudo's face was palpable. It was invigorating. She took off running down the hall, fleeing her Demoness. Hothnite followed.

~~~~~

The Gerudo had hidden herself behind a sealed alcove at the end of the chase. Lynn could find no way in, but the Gerudo had no way out, save through Hothnite. This suited her just fine. She pressed her frigid palms to the stone and drove the warmth from it until the temperature in the alcove dropped well below freezing. Then, she left. The thief had dropped her key in flight, anyway. Killing her was just a bit of personal pleasure, and it ensured the completion of the Light Spirit's directive.

Of course, there was one final Gerudo of the four that had faced her in the main room. The one which she faced now.

"[color=tomato]There's a reason I'm the leader, Demoness.[/color]" the Gerudo taunted, performing some random hand movements, the somatic components of some spell. "[color=tomato]I know magic.[/color]"

She finished her gesticulating and split into four identical women, which spread out and surrounded Lynn.

"[color=darkblue]Ha. A quartet is as deftly defeated. My victory is not in doubt, but of more interest only.[/color]" Lynn rolled her head side-to-side, stretching her muscles and slightly popping her neck. "[color=darkblue]There is a phrase here applicable which oft by my frequent foe is used: Let's dance.[/color]"

[b][color=darkblue]Lynn Hothnite[/color]/Early Afternoon 5/Arbiter's Grounds[/b]

The Gerudo raised her arms over herself, attempting to stave off the blow from the Biggoron's Sword with her flesh. As to be expected, this did little. Hothnite drove the blade down through both limbs, cleaving into the thief's chest. Blood spurted out, spraying Lynn and the walls. The copies, each with a raised weapon ready to fall on Lynn to protect their summoner, disappeared with no fanfare in an anticlimactic puff of smoke. Lynn yanked her blade from the corpse, then leaned in to claim the key from the Gerudo's possession.

"[color=darkblue]Now I've my desideratum you have warrant to withdraw.[/color]" Hothnite smirked at her own dry humor.

Cleaning the gore from the Biggoron's Sword, Lynn made her way to the central chamber, all four keys in hand and the final lock beckoning to be opened. With nary a foe in her way and the obstacles already nullified she made quick the path and soon had each key in its respective lock. As was the way of things in these ancient temples, the locks reacted to the keys and undid themselves, the door then rolling open on some unseen mechanism. Lynn strode through the portal into the deepest confines of the Arbiter's Grounds, chasing the last of the Gerudo held in the hoary prison.

She was quite unprepared for what awaited her.

"[color=chocolate]It is my ward, this place entered. None are allowed. Hylians did set upon me this vigil, yet not a one has passed me. Gerudo took up the flame and accosted me, still not a one passed. Another comes, as the rest. Something Hylian yet not. Ye enter my ward. Ye not shall pass. None, either, have left. Ye not shall leave. I am Draclord,[/color]" spoke the titanic dragon, "[color=chocolate]this is my ward.[/color]"

Having finished its speech, it launched a volley of fireballs from its mouth, each taking its own arced path straight toward Hothnite.

Lynn Hothnite/Afternoon 5/Arbiter's Grounds (Boss Chamber)

Fireballs rained down around Hothnite. She dove to the side, avoiding the epicenter of the conjoining blasts. Still, she was buffeted by the aftershock and sent rolling over the ground, her clothes smoldering and her skin blistering. She gritted her teeth and stood, facing the enormous beast. It had no visible weakness to exploit, aside the normal frailties of living beings. If such be applicable to a being as this.

An idea came to her, and she once again unsheathed the Biggoron's Sword. According to legend, Link had once used the very weapon and in much the same way he had employed the Master Sword, albeit far less masterfully by size. Nonetheless, there were certain attributes that could be exploited if such were true. If her presumptions proved false, she would lose the weapon, and likely much more.

But she was quite certain in her correctness.

Draclord, true to form, initiated a second volley of fireballs, again each careening at diverse angles to converge on their single target. Lynn's fingers tightened around the Sword's hilt, readying for the foolish attempt to come. The fireballs closed, spread evenly in an arc before her. She swung, following their path. Each burning projectile colliding with the sword, a relic of an ancient and well-practiced master smith, and in turn each missile was deflected by the tempered metal. The results were as she had expected, though an unpracticed parry yielded wild results. Each deflected ball flew a disparate direction, colliding with wall, floor and ceiling alike. None had the fortune of striking the dragon.

"Truly the most valiant. Prior died in first. Few to second. Thirdly none, to now. And deflection naught the like has shown."

Lynn smiled at her foe. His speech was an amusing cant, to say the least. "Valiant, nay, but sure. Death has come afore, yet naught has prior conquered. Deflecting Reaper's scythe a challenge proved; this a bore, no more. Speak less, oh titan, we shall contest. By day's end, fall with the night."

Draclord uttered a guttural chuckle. "As will will be. With the day end, by night's fall." It spread its wings for a moment's lift, then dropped to the ground with giant force. The stone shattered under its bulk, showing as it crumbled the spreading shockwave. Lynn was buffeted by its force, kicked into the air then falling down into the sand and gravel.

She stood, wiping blood from her cheek. "We shall see."

Lynn Hothnite/Afternoon 5/Arbiter's Grounds (Boss Chamber)

Draclord swiped with its adamantine claws whistling through the air. Hothnite barely avoided the deadly attack and was buffeted by the winds generated from the move. She wobbled, fell, and rolled to avoid a follow-up stamp from the beast's other hand. She found herself lying between spread fingers, narrowly escaping Draclord's menace once again. It lifted the paw, sand falling off and clouding the air with dust. She looked around her at the impression left in the sand. And a plan formed.

She jumped to her feet and ran toward Draclord, dodging another flurry of swiping claws. She swung upward with the blade, cutting his palm, and it bellowed out a roar, turning from her to nurse the pain.

"Ne'er pain! An experience!" Draclord spun its tail, swishing behind as it spun and catching Hothnite in the side. She hung on the appendage as it flopped through the air attempting to dislodge her. "No repetitions!"

Hothnite plunged the Biggoron's Sword into the tail, causing it to go limp. Draclord roared again, its tail twitching impotently. "No! No! No! My mandate!"

Lynn laughed. "Your mandate can go to hell!"

She dropped from the tail, leaving the Biggoron's Sword buried in draconic flesh, and unsheathed the two matte black short swords, running under the beast. "Now die!" She swung upward into Draclord's undefended fleshy underbelly, and made contact with only air. Draclord again lifted itself on its wings to avoid the attack, and was primed to fall and crush her under its girth.

Just as planned.

Hothnite released a burst of arctic energy, catapulting herself from frozen air, escaping the shadow of the beast even as it fell. With another titanic crash it slammed into the ground. But the ground, now, was merely sand. And the sand gave way, as Draclord's bodyslam buried it in the soft ground.

"Impudence!"

Lynn strode toward her confined opponent. "You presumed to bring halt to Hothnite! Death, twice over, has come for this entity. And twice over has Death itself failed to claim the Hated. Ask how He has failed, ye now will with him visit!"

She levitated to before Draclord's face. It glowered at her with impotent rage. Then, surprisingly, it broke its hands from the ground, simultaneously releasing another salvo of fireballs from its mouth. She dodged the arms and summoned a brick of ice, against which the fireballs impacted. The pressure change of the sudden freeze and just so sudden heat caused a pressure wave that sent Lynn back to the walls of the room.

She looked up, dazed. Draclord was still trapped in the sand, but now it had arms to defend itself. And she would have to make a perilous approach to move within striking range.

What the WHAT Edit

Lynn Hothnite/Afternoon 5/Arbiter's Grounds (Boss Chamber)

Draclord was enraged, trapped and injured as it was. Claws whistled, slicing through the air and slamming against the ground, attempting to flatten Lynn or tear her to ribbons. Balls of fire careened across the room, some flying straight and others tracking her, burning the sand into glass where she had stood moments prior. But Sheikah training and many lifetimes of experience served Hothnite well. Instant reaction and calculated propulsion from arctic blasts saw her through, and while she was not unscathed she was still functioning.

And every missed attack brought her closer to the target. Eventually Draclord was unable to properly aim its baleful breath-bombs and was forced to rely purely on reaching out with its arms. Of course, this made things all the easier for Hothnite. A swipe with the left arm and she would jump into its path, using the momentum as a springboard to launch herself. Then a counter from the right and she run along the beast's forearm, jumping from the elbow to roll in the sand avoiding a hammerblow coming again from the left.

"Such dilatory action, foe mine. The day draws to a close. Now for thy life, the same. T'was fun, I admit, but such dalliance distracts. Adieu, adieu. We shan't meet again."

Draclord, well past words, snarled and spitted. The woman avoided everything, and that which hit was glancing. He could see how her clothes smoldered and fluttered in tatters around her, and the skin beneath showed lines and splotched of red, tattered and burnt same as the vestements which once covered it. But still she came!

The titan clasped his hands together over his head, one large heavy fist that he brought down on the head of his assailant. It saw the same success as every other attack and smashed into the sand, leaving Hothnite sprayed with fine grit but otherwise untouched. Dracdlord bellowed a frustrated roar. Lynn sprung onto his arms, running toward the shoulder. She stood, one foot on each arm, before Draclord's face.

"Thy ward is mine."

Darclord's eyes opened wide in rage. "NOOOO-" It's roaring denial was cut short as Hothnite's swords passed through its neck, severing the vocal chords. The beast's head fell free, hitting the ground as Lynn jumped away from the belatedly falling body. Next she landed in front of the body as it rolled forward onto the sand, sending up a shockwave of particulate as it settled into its final resting position.

Hothnite cleaned her blades, catching her breath after the confrontation. Then, finally, she made her way to the back of the chamber, toward the door which Draclord had defended with its body and its life. Whatever magic that had sealed it ended with the sizable sentinel and she was able to simply open it and pass through.

Inside she found her target. Chained to the wall amidst a stand of torches.

"At last..." A wicked smile painted Lynn's face.

The chained figure lifted its head, looking at the unexpected visitor. It had been... centuries since another had entered this place.

"Thou are the sole being of two attributes. The last living Gerudo, for all your sisters lay dead in this prison... And the only male Gerudo."

The prisoner shifted, and the chains jingled with his movement.

"You are also perhaps the sole person able to derive more fetid emotions than I." Hothnite made a curt, almost sarcastic bow. "Greetings, Ganondorf."

Lynn Hothnite/Afternoon 5/Arbiter's Grounds (Ganondorf's Cell)

Ganondorf sneered. "Who are you, Sheikah? What do you want?"

Hothnite shrugged. "I wear the raiments, yes, but Sheikah am no longer, in aught but body and training. Perhaps recall ye the name of the Hated?"

"Hardly." Ganondorf snorted. "I believe you're confused, perhaps. I am not Dragmyre."

Hothnite noddded. "Ah, so I see. Imprisoned merely for thy association with the King of Evil, then? Or thy membership among the Gerudo people. Shameful, is it not? The Hylians defy that they do not understand. For what length has this room held this man? For what purpose, but ignorance and fear?"

Ganondorf struggled against the chains binding him. "What you say is true? The Gerudo... are no more?"

"Alas, tis true. The Light Spirit, servant of the Hylians, had them exterminated, to the man."

Ganondorf growled in rage. The metal chains strained, creaking and bending against his tormented struggle. Hothinte shushed, mock comfort, as him.

"No doubt your bonds are magic in nature. Brute strength alone will sever them not. The Hylians are thorough, in the least."

Veins protruded as Ganondorf strained muscles. He groaned with supernatural effort, driven by sorrow and a desire, a need, to strike back at those who had imprisoned him and taken everything about which he had ever cared. His people, suffering for generations, their plight ignored by the Hylians and only increased by Dragmyre's fool campaign. Persecuted. Hunted down. Never allowed their own life. Imprisoned. This was the world into which he had been born. This was the world against which he raged.

The chains snapped, and broke. Ganondorf rushed forward, grabbing Hothnite and slamming her against the the wall. "Why are you here, Hated Sheikah? My people are dead at Hylian hands, and you are one of their sycophantic zealouts."

Lynn choked slightly, but responded. "I do not serve the Hylians. I came to unleash the final vestiges of the Gerudo. There is but ye. Through this freedom offered, the slain might have vengeance. Transgressions will be met with like."

Ganondorf tossed her aside. "I am not Dragmyre. I am no King of Evil, no powerful warlock. I have not the power to face the entire kingdom."

Slowly Lynn stood again, and moved back to Ganondorf's side. "Thou are still Ganondorf. Thou are the lone male Gerudo, in so many ways. But there is one ally to your cause. And a war outside rages, Hyrule stands on the brink of defeat from Interloper invaders. The time is ripe for your revenge. The people fear Ganondorf, they will fear ye!" A wicked smirk played on her face. "And there is a way to increase your powers."

Ganondorf turned to her, an inquiring look in his gaze.

She whispered, "The Sage Medallions."

He began to smirk. "Use the powers that serve the Hylians against them. Yes... Yes! And perhaps I might find other discontents, others like you, to rally to the cause of the doomed Gerudo. My people are not dead! Not while I still live!"

Hothnite nodded. All too easy. She turned, and spread her sphere of influence. The wall froze under her will and cracked. "Go, Lord Ganondorf. Taste freedom.Taste vengeance."

For a moment he skimmed her leather-clad form, tattered as her clothing was from the fight with Draclord. A momentary lasciviousness came over him. "And taste you?"

She smirked, coy yet aloof, and gestured him to the cracked wall. "Perhaps in due time."

He turned and run at the wall, slamming his fist into the middle of the fissure in the wall. It shattered outward and he passed through with Lynn right behind him. They continued in that manner through wall after wall until the shattered rubble fell onto sand and into sunlight. For the first time in a long time, Ganondorf felt the warmth of the sun on his skin and tasted the sweet fragrance of fresh desert air.

"We must part ways. I do not doubt we shall again meet." Lynn bowed to the large man. "Until such time, prosperity unto ye in thy quest."

Before Ganondorf could respond, an gust of arctic wind bore Hothnite upward along the sheer face of the prison. The last of the Gerudo set off into the desert.

IC: Mirra and Rukh, Twilight of the Fifth Day, Arbiter's Grounds

High, high above the bloodshed of Hyrule Field, and high, high above the forces gathering for a titanic clash upon the gates of Hyrule Castle itself, the winds were cool and gushing through a vortex of cloud lit by cold, blue stars. Oceans of ice formed and dispersed in crystals on the rolling backs of the westward storm. The warm, arid drought of the deserts far in the west had met a sudden shock of frigid air of such magnitude as to warp the skies for miles around. Such rapid and unexpected pressure changes alerted Mirra, and more than worried Rukh, as they patrolled the northwest province from above a cloud-cover cloak.

"Who do you suppose is behind that?" Mirra asked, patting the neck of the armor-played beast she straddled. Rukh didn't answer; he flapped his massive wings into an abrupt turn, and began heading straight for the Gerudo Desert at a downward angle. Mirra pulled her cloak tight around her padded armor, and tightened her grip on her rod of the heavens.

Twisted winds were whipping the sands of the Mirror Chamber in the Arbiter's Grounds, tempting the archaic architectural spells that protected the temple from erosion. Dark clouds gathered in a looming spiral above the swept dunes, thunder clapping and flashing across the folds, but then began to part as a beam of light shot through their center. With a shriek from the warbird and her rod held high, Mirra pierced through the gathering clouds and swooped across the air on a curtain of lightning. Rukh spread his wide, bladed wings to steady his descent, and came to a perch on the Mirror Chamber's highest sandstone platform.

No sooner did Rukh's Celestium talons touch the ground than a great rumble shook through the bowels of the temple's deepest chambers. With lightning-quick movements, Rukh folded his wings in and dashed to the precipice of the chamber's roof with his chest and beak to the ground, overlooking the open arena below. Mirra peered around his neck and reins to see what had caused the rumbling, when a deafening blast obliterated the wall immediately below their eavesdropping perch.

Then she saw him. Mirra's mind reeled at the sight of the Evil King of the Desert marching forth from his eternal prison in a mysterious hail of icy crystals. They may tell the same jokes more than once, but the Goddesses certainly did have a sense of humor. She smiled inwardly.

Rukh was not so cavalier. "He has been freed. Our part in the fate of this realm draws closer," the Thunderbird whispered, speaking in thought to the Hylian girl whose mind had been bound to his own. He shifted his head to look into her eyes. Mirra nodded solemnly. "Do you think we should give chase?" she asked. She clenched the Dominion Rod.

"Not by air, the weather is too violent. What has caused this arctic chaos?" Rukh inquired. Then an icy wind burst vertically from the exit the Dark King had made in the wall, and Mirra snatched at the reins to pull Rukh's face back before it froze his beak off. A figure rose up on the wind spell, laughing calmly to herself.

"Do you have any idea what you've just done?" Mirra shouted at the intruder. "You've just let the King of Evil go free!" Rukh sat back on his hind legs and lowered his eyes at the Sheikah insignia on the dark woman's clothes. He channeled his thoughts to Mirra with a new sense of foreboding.

"What treason is this?" Mirra accused, pointing her glowing rod at the Sheikah woman's costume. "You are sworn to protect the Seal of the Sages as a protector of the Royal Family! You have violated the injunction of the Light Spirits and the Goddesses themselves!" she said, her voice rising into a thunderous beat. "Whether you meant to or no, you have unleashed hell upon this countryside. Come quickly, we must stop him!" And with that, Mirra mounted Rukh and bolted around the Sheikah woman, stopping at the edge of the structure before taking off to reach out her hand and offer a lift. "Aren't you coming?" she asked the woman in the Royal Guard uniform. In the journey ahead, she would need every ally she could get.

Lynn Hothnite/Dying Light of the Fifth Day/Arbiter's Grounds

Hothnite's gaze skimmed the accuser and her mechanical mount. She did not recognize either, but their presence here was foreboding, with the potential to throw off the carefully orchestrated balance she had wrought with her manipulations. But Annei's Sheikah heritage proved once more a boon, convincing the girl of some alliance. There was salvage.

"King of Evil? Surely not! Thine eyes are mistaken. Am I not Sheikah? See not the hallmark of my rank, so heavily adorning this ragged armor? Tell me, stranger, what purpose purported could possibly precipitate such a perilous prison break presided by a patriotic proctor of the people? Nay, not he, but another now free.

She turned from the waiting hand presented to her, rising further to the spring of the Light Spirit housed atop the installation. "Come, to Garo, for the matter's truth. Find then the Gerudo have been exterminated within, a cleansing by this humble personage. Nevermore from the Desert Thieves will threat issue. Their kind is extinct; a fair riddance of them."

Mirra and Rukh/Sunset on the Fifth Day/Gerudo Desert

'Enemy...,' Rukh sent to Mirra. Steam kicked out of his nostrils as he narrowed his eyes at the Sheikah. 'This spy has released the prisoner.'

'We always thought it would take a great army to take down Garo and release him again,' Mirra replied. 'This girl could not have entered these grounds without the permission of the Light Spirit. Let us go see him and learn more before we leave this place.'

Mirra looked at the Sheikah warrior. She looked to be about her age, but a strange power emanated from her body. Yet it seemed displaced, as if its source were not her body, but the long shadow cast in the low, red sun. She cast a glance at Rukh, who was clutching his talons into the sandy brick of the roof. 'We have been observing from above for too long. This shadow agent does not know what she has done at Garo's bidding. We must see him.' Rukh grunted in consent as she mounted his saddle, and then jumped to the platform where the Sheikah had ascended. Together they walked up beside her.

"I am Mirra, Guardian of the Sacred Realm and Special Envoy of the Sky People to the Kingdom of Hyrule. What is your name and rank, Sheikah?" she asked. Rukh's plated feathers shone with a pale light as the wide pool spread before them began to glow. "And to what purpose has the Light Spirit set you here?"

Lynn Hothnite/Evening 5/Atop Arbiter's Grounds

Lynn stepped before the spring of the Light Spirit Garo. At her appearance the spiritual being sprouted out, shining its light on the area in lieu of the fallen sun.

First, it bowed it's head to the other woman. "Guardian Mirra, you are welcomed here." Then it turned to the false Sheikah. "You, accursed being!"

Lynn wagged her finger at Garo. "Hold thy tongue, Illuminated One. Lynn Annei has held her Sheikah oaths! To death's breath such oaths are honored by her! And thine own oath was given her! Make due, the task is done."

"Murderous beast! I asked not what you did. To quell a riot was a simple task."

"And simply was it performed. Word was given, the Blessing is needed. I travel hence to Hyrule Castle! Would ye deny the Hylians their deliverance?"

Garo glared at Lynn. "And what of he held within?"

Lynn shook his head. "Draclord was slain, and the magic weakened. His escape could not be stopped, nor helped. I go to take word to the Castle, to the Light Warriors."

"What trust is your words?"

Lynn just smirked at Garo. "Am I not Sheikah? Honor thy oath, by the Three are you bound!"

With that invocation, it seemed Garo's will was broken. The light in the area increased, shining blindingly. Lynn backed away, hiding herself in the tatters of her cloak and wavering on her feet. The light subsided, but Lynn's bottle, surprisingly left intact attached to her belt, was blessed with a supernatural brightness.

Mirra and Rukh / Twilight 5 / Arbiter's Grounds

Mirra's pupils tightened as Garo's sacred aura overwhelmed all earthly vision. "O Great Light Spirit, to thee we humbly pray," she mouthed. Mirra twirled her Dominion Rod through the air, and its smooth gems gathered the amber sunset into beads of gold running along its polished grip; then with the smack of the jurist's gavel it clanged to the earth and Mirra fell to her knees beside it. She began reciting Ancient Hylian verse.

Rukh's feathered gears picked up an auburn lustre; he held his comb high in a regal flourish, then prostrated himself with a deep bow of his windworn beak and wings. As the two companions knelt, they were made whole by the Spirit's healing light. Their shadows played across the desert sanctuary in long, obsidion ropes. Rukh's talons shed their tarnish, and the feathers behind Mirra's ears glistened with a new, enchanted oil.

The light subsided, and Mirra heard the Sheikah's ragged breathing behind her, still standing upright. Her shadow diminished at an oblique angle as the Spirit's aura faded. A thread of light rang out from the bottle on her belt with a blissful, fading hum. Without opening her eyes, the rod lain across her moonpale thighs, Mirra spoke to the other woman in a reverent whisper. "O valiant Sheikah, shadow of the Light's purpose, thou hast been wounded in the service of our Realms. If thou wouldst be healed, do but kneel before this Spirit's shrine, and find thyself renourished." She laid out her right palm beside her at the lip of Garo's wellspring.

Rukh gently nudged his beak into the small of the Sheikah's back, scooting her towards the clean plate of rock where Mirra knelt. 'It is considered less than courteous to remain standing after a blessing,' Rukh reminded her. He puffed air from his nostrils, tousling the injured woman's disheveled hair, before bowing down himself on the Sheikah's other side.

"Don't worry, that just means he likes you," Mirra giggled, then closed her eyes and bowed her head lower, tightening her grip on the twilit Dominion Rod.

[b][color=darkblue]Lynn Hothnite[/color]Evening 5/Arbiter's Grounds Rooftop[/b]
Lynn shook her head. "[color=darkblue]There is not time for such. I must make haste to the Castle. Word must spread, and quickly, if the prisoner escaped is as believed![/color]"

A gust of arid chill circulated the rooftop, and Hothnite was gone into the air, leaving a quickly diminishing trail of frosted vapor behind her as she traveled east toward the Castle.

Mirra and Rukh / Twilight 5 / Arbiter's Grounds

As Lynn Hothnite's vapor trail drifted away on the breeze, a pool of light expanded from the Light Spirit's shrine, encompassing Mirra and Rukh. Slowly they breathed in the cool desert air, and breathed out in unison over the rippling light of the wellspring. Garo did not resurface, but he administered his healing with mercy. As the pale light played across Mirra's cheek and hair, she channeled her mind deep into the glowing waters. 'O Great Light Spirit, we beseech thee, who is this nameless Sheikah who wields the icy wind, who defies the orders of a Guardian of the Realm, who deigns not to kneel at Your Excellency's shrine? What mischief has she wrought within the walls of thy ward? Who is Lynn Annei?'

A faint rumbling began to agitate the ripples of Garo's pool, then a door of rock began to slide away from the wall. 'Go, my child,' came Garo's voice, 'and see for thyself.' Mirra rose up and entered the door, newfound energy pulsing through her body, electricity crackling around the length of the Dominion Rod. Garo's sacred healing had restored her strength in full.

The door led down a dark stairwell, lined with unlit torches, that opened up on a larger room with a massive hole in its wall. Rukh leapt over to the pile of rubble just inside the hole, and saw that it was the first in a long serious of shattered walls. He sniffed at the jagged chunks of sandstone, and found that the wreckage was covered in ice. These walls had been frozen and demolished in succession, by some combination of cryomancy and brute force. Rukh turned back to look at Mirra, then both looked down the long, dark tunnel of walls collapsed into a frozen heap.

Rukh ruffled his feathers. 'I think we've just found our first clue.'

Mirra and Rukh / Twilight 5 / Arbiter's Grounds

Rukh led the way down the dark, chilled temple. They slowly picked their way over the hazardous shards of ice and rubble from the sequence of blasted walls. 'Climb on my back,' he said to Mirra. 'My night vision is better than yours.' Drawing on the pale green light of Mirra's Rod, his raptor eyes followed the pattern of two sets of footprints leading from the opposite direction: one, the faintest lines of pressure from a woman tiptoeing over the shards; the other, deep and uneven furrows from the heavy stomping of a man's bare feet. 'She and the prisoner walked out together, he in the lead and her behind. Ganondorf's feet were bare,' Rukh reasoned. And then he smelled blood. 'The Desert King cut his feet on the rubble as they made their escape. He cannot have made it very far from the prison.'

Mirra raised an eyebrow, noticing for the first time the many blackened drops of blood in the iced-over debris. "Shortcuts don't come cheap," she observed. They made their way into a dark hall, the pale green light of Mirra's Rod fading into an unseen ceiling. Rukh lowered his armored beak to the ground and began sniffing. There was a terrible battle, he said. His pace began to quicken. The rogue assassin was nearly killed by the Draclord.' They dashed past the upside-down skull of the vanquished desert wyrm, another sacred barrier the rogue assassin had profaned. 'Then she stole into Ganondorf's cell. Her tracks are bloody here from the fight, but Ganondorf had not yet begun to bleed.'

They followed Lynn's tracks to the entrance of the hall and down into the dungeon's caverns. Rukh's shimmering eyes fell upon the gored body of a Gerudo warrior, her own severed hands flung across her gashed torso. "Nayru's Love!" Mirra gasped, eyes wide at the dismembered corpse. 'This was their leader,' Rukh said. Her blood ran thick along the floor around her dead hands. "How can you tell?" Mirra asked. She slowly slid from Rukh's back to arrange the body with a measure of dignity, closing the vacant, horrified stare of her eyes. 'You are my sovereign now, but one of my ancient masters was the one who brought this sorceress in,' Rukh explained, 'back in the Imprisoning War. We were not kind to her. This is the tortured body of her excellency Aveil, the supreme Gerudo bellatrix.' Mirra said a prayer over the Gerudo corpse, then cupped the shriveled hands over her cold, painted lips.

As she stood up, she detached a jeweled ring from the Gerudo sorceress's ear, and hooked it into her own, next to her swaying, oiled feathers. Mirra noticed that she and Aveil shared the same long, pointed ears. She climbed back into the saddle, resting the Dominion Rod over her shoulder, and the two continued deeper into the catacombs. They came to a hallway completely coated in ice, reflecting the pale green light of Mirra's Rod in jagged planes. The outline of a door was visible behind a frozen pane at the end of the hallway. 'Silence,' Rukh signed. Mirra held her breath. 'I hear a heartbeat behind that frozen door.'

"I've got this," Mirra said. She descended from Rukh, then dropped to her knees and slammed the butt of the Dominion Rod into the ground with both hands. A pale green ring burst out across the hallway, then gathered into a runic spiral on the surface of the door. Mirra took a deep breath as she wrapped both hands around the staff's neck, then wrenched the electric rod from the ground to rip that frozen door from its hinges and take the assassin's ice down with it. 

Inside, she found the frozen corpse of another Gerudo, curled into a pitiful fetal position for one last chance at warmth. "I thought you said you heard a heartbeat?" Mirra asked. She knelt beside the stiff body and cradled it in her arms. 'I did,' Rukh explained. 'She has suspended her Spirit. The Gerudo community learned to use this technique many centuries ago, to survive the cruelty of the desert wind for nights at a time. It is not unlike the distance within our own soul,' Rukh reflected, letting his thoughts drift freely into Mirra's mind. She touched the tip of the Dominion Rod to the Gerudo's jeweled brow, and coaxed her Spirit back into the dwindling pulse of her heart. 

Slowly, the Gerudo woman's painted eyelids fluttered open, and her amber eyes met Mirra's emerald gaze. The healer moved her pale hands over the Gerudo's arms, down the curve of her dark back, and along her thighs. The frost on the Gerudo's body began to condense into beads of water under the warmth of Mirra's healing touch, and her spare, shallow breathing began to deepen and rise. Mirra drew her charge into an embrace, and the Gerudo released a sigh of resuscitation. Carefully, Mirra began to rise from the floor, helping the injured woman find her footing. Exhausted and sore, the Gerudo simply leaned on Mirra with her full weight, too weak to walk. The two breathed in unison for a long time.

'You know, I always found it hard to believe what the Castle used to tell us, back then, about the desert folk.'

"That they were not truly Hyrulean?"

'Yes. If the Gerudo were not truly Hyrulean, white magic would not be able to bring them back.'

Mirra, Rukh, and Telma / Evening 5 / Gerudo Desert

When the Gerudo's eyes finally fluttered open, she found herself soaring through a bank of moonlit clouds high above the sands of the desert. Startled, she began to rock in the saddle of the massive metallic bird that was carrying her, then gasped in shock and began flailing, hurting Rukh's balance and sending them down into a barrel roll. "I wouldn't do that if I were you," Mirra chided.

The Gerudo righted herself and stared at the back of Mirra's hood, puzzled. "Why didn't you kill me when you had the chance, Hylian?"

"That would have been counterproductive," Mirra said, flicking Rukh's reins to lift him higher above the clouds. "I need you alive, otherwise Ganondorf would never believe me about the Sheikah we saw."

"The Demoness?" the Gerudo hissed. "You're taking me to King Ganondorf?"

"Yes. That's why we grabbed these," Mirra said. She reached down and opened a bag on her saddle, and pulled out two large, steel-toed boots. "We found these in the guard room that you were sealed in by the Sheikah. I figure they must have took them to slow him down if he got past Draclord."

"But...these are...," the Gerudo stammered. "Ganon's Boots!"

"That's right," Mirra laughed, returning them to the satchel. "I am Mirra, Guardian of the Sacred Realm. This is Rukh, my mount," she added, patting his neck.

"Pleased to meet you, Mirra. My name is Telma."

Mirra turned her head to look directly into the eyes of the last suviving warrior of the once-proud Gerudo. "The Sheikah who attacked your sisters did so to blind your King with rage. That's why she tried to kill all of you and set Ganondorf free at the same time. Now, I fear that the King of Thieves is seeking vengeance under a grave illusion. We must tell him the truth about the Sheikah who deceived him. That's where you come in," Mirra said, then drove Rukh into a steep dive below the cloudbank.

Mirra, Rukh, Telma (with Ganondorf) / Gerudo Desert / Night 5

With Rukh searching the folds of the desert sands by starlight, Mirra and Telma were free to talk. "Do you know why the Gerudo hate the Hylians?" Telma asked her new companions. Rukh's eyes flashed with the memory of war

"After the Imprisoning War, we were banished to the Haunted Wasteland, on the far side of Lake Hylia. We were reduced to a warlike tribe of witches and thieves," Telma said.

"The Imprisoning War ended long before I was born," Mirra said. "I was raised by the Oocca, in their City in the Sky."

Telma laughed darkly. "Then you don't know the worst part, do you?"

'I do,' Rukh answered with a mental snarl. 'Every hundred years, the Hylians kill the Gerudo King.'

"There he is!" Telma shouted, pointing to a high dune rolling against the starry sky. Rukh could make out a lone, tall figure silhouetted in the night. He folded in his wings and closed the distance between them, narrowing his eyes and keeping his claws bared. When they touched down, he flapped out his wings in a grand flourish, readying himself to protect Mirra if need be.

"Your excellency Ganondorf, crown ruler of the Gerudo!" Mirra invoked the stranded man. "We come to lift illusions from thine eyes. The Sheikah who would be liberator is in truth thy deceiver, blinding thee with rage at a calumnied enemy. She is the genocidaire responsible for the massacre of your people, not the Hylians, though their crimes are long. It is from her thou must extract vengeance for this most heinous crime."

The Dark King's eyes stared through her suspiciously. "And why should I believe you, Hylian?" Ganondorf sneered.

"It is not I, your excellecny, whom I would have you believe," Mirra said, then stepped aside as Telma ran up to greet her King with a hug that knocked him to the ground. He started at the sight of what he thought was a ghost, until he realized it was the last Gerudo woman alive.

"It is as she says, my lord!" Telma affirmed. "The Sheikah Demoness was able to murder us one by one. She is the one responsible! The only reason I survived was because she left me for dead, and this Hylian woman rescued me." Telma broke into tears in Ganondorf's arms, the shock of today's events finally overwhelming her.

They waited in silence for a moment until the weeping hushed. "Here, we have brought you these," Telma said, brandishing the boots that the guards' had locked up in their chamber. She knelt down to put the boots on Ganondorf's feet, but saw that they were severely wounded. Ganondorf had been walking barefoot in the desert for miles by the time they finally caught up to him. Telma looked up at Mirra pleadingly.

Mirra took one step toward the two, but then she hesitated. Rukh growled low in the back of her mind. 'We have to do this,' she sent to him. 'It is the only way to divert him from the Sacred Realm.'

'I can think of another way,' Rukh replied, digging his talons into the sand. 'A few, in fact, especially while he's so weak. For Din's sake, Mirra, he's a fugitive from Garo. You know what the prophecies say about the Desert King of Thieves. We have to--'

'--I forbid it,' Mirra said. 'I swear, all this trouble over one ancient prophecy...'

'In case you forgot, that prophecy is the purpose for which I was made. It is the purpose for which you were sent to me. And it is the purpose for which we were both sent here, into Hyrule,' Rukh growled. 

Mirra stared him down. 'One people's prophecies can conflict with another's. In any case, the Arbiter's Grounds are now destroyed. The Hylians have no prison left that can hold this man. The scrolls of the prophets forget to mention that little nugget. If they really want to lock him up again, it would take a Council of Sages. And with the Sage Medallions lost to antiquity, it would take a Hero to assemble them. But if you and I can put Ganondorf on that Sheikah's trail for a while, the Goddesses won't have a reason to kill the son of a bitch like always. The last thing we need right now is the Hero of Time popping up. We're here to unite Hyrule against the Twili, not turn these people against each other with rumors and blood feuds.'

And so it was final. The Guardian of the Sacred Realm stepped towards the King of Thieves, then knelt down before him with open palms. Rukh's eyes darkened into pinpoints of light. Drawing water from her flask and a special powder from her pocket, Mirra washed Ganondorf's feet in absolute silence. The blood was caked thick with sand, and into this red clay Mirra pressed her faintly glowing hands. The glow of her hands intensified, and when their light faded, the dried blood was gone, as were the cuts along the length of his soles. It was over in a heartbeat.

In spite of herself, she avoided the Gerudo man's eyes. Did even he knew who he was, or whom he would become? She quickly prayed that she never have to find out. Mirra rose from the sand and returned to Rukh. His eyes did not try to hide their fury. 'That wasn't pretty,' he said. Mirra mounted him without assistance. 'It had to be done,' she replied. Rukh was silent. Mirra tugged his reins and he spread his wings obediently, preparing to run. Telma was tying the laces on Ganondorf's boots. "I must reach the Castle before sunrise," she said to her. "I'm afraid I cannot take you both."

"We shall take our own path," Telma said. "You have done enough for us. We know these desert wastes, and the unholy spirits who haunt them. The Poe shall be our guides. And we shall not rest until that Demoness is dead."

Rukh began champing at the bit of his reins. 'At least we have one thing in common,' he sent to them both, then dashed forward across the sands, Mirra kicking his sides. He leapt at the crest of a high dune, then spread his wings and began to climb higher, soaring in the direction of Hyrule Castle. They left the last Gerudo standing together in their desert, a look of mild surprise on their faces that a mechanical bird knew telepathy.

Lynn Hothnite/Evening 5 (post-twilight)/Skies above Hyrule

The cold air of the ending day cut across Lynn Hothnite as she flew above the land. While normally such a chill would be reinvigorating, she found it to be decidedly not. The wind grated against the burns that speckled her body. The coldness slid fingers of pain into the cuts peppering her flesh. She was injured, and such was finally taking its toll on her.

She could see where the landscape changed, the dull eternal sand giving way to a lighter green. It was approaching on her path toward the Castle, but didn't seem to be coming with enough speed. Her wounds were draining on her. Perhaps she should have accepted the healing from that woman.

But, no, that would have ended with her in a worse state. True, where Taden Hothnight was forced to cover himself in shrouds of cloth in venture into the daylight, Lynn Hothnite could stand the touch of sun upon her uncovered skin. The Light Spirit, even, she had stood against, until the Blessing was granted. The Blessing...

Her fingers stroked the bottle at her hip. She felt no pain in her hand as her fingers played over the glass. Lynn Hothnite had a resistance to the Light, through the nature of Annei's body. She was Sheikah, it was true enough; the Light Spirit had not, could not, deny it. It was what had facilitated bringing the Blessing to her possession. And it was the body, not he soul, that required healing.

Perhaps the Blessing was like a poison. While it had the power to kill her, if she absorbed it in small amounts it would build up an immunity. Was it worth the risk? If such assumptions were wrong then all Hothnight's plans would be for naught, and there was no telling what exactly would happen in such an instance. But at the rate this damaged body was failing her, such could be her fate none the matter.

Two glasses. One a miraculous elixir and the other a deadly poison. No way of telling which is the other except to take it up and taste it. But in this, the two were but one.

Hothnite stopped her forward movement and untied the bottle from her belt, holding it before her gaze and examining the glow within. Did it hold death, redemption? Would it heal the body only to kill the soul? Slowly, she uncorked it, and sniffed the Light Blessing. It was a scent like unto a bright summer day. Her face wrinkled into a look of disgust. f she did decide to risk the thing, it would likely taste just as horrid, or worse.

Cautiously, she dipper her fingertips into the bottle. It felt warm, but did not hurt. When she withdraw her hand her fingers shined with an unnatural luminosity. Light dripped as liquid from her fingertips, and she rubbed it between thumb and index. It was light and incorporeal with a heavy viscosity. Very interesting. After a while, the Light dissipated into the air around her, and her hand returned to its normal state.

And it was. There was no change to a hand that had been Blessed, glowing with the radiance of the Light Spirit. It was whole and hale, which seemed to be enough of a result. A small amount would not kill her, and if it proved to heal her, or give her an edge over those who would use Light magic against her, then it was worth the risk. She lifted the bottle to her lips and tilted it back.

The Blessing stuck to her teeth and her tongue and coated her throat. She grimaced, cringing at the sweetness of it as it slid down her gullet. Immediately she felt ill. Her gut clenched and she doubled over, having just enough frame of mind to replace the cork before the Blessing could spill out. She wretched, dry heaving, but nothing would come out as the Blessing was absorbed into her system.

Then, with a massive flash that lit up the night sky, Lynn Hothnite lost her ability to levitate and plummeted to the ground below.

Mirra, Rukh (w/ Lynn) / Night 5 / Hyrule Field

Rukh soared across the desert sands like a comet, bounding from gust to gust and scanning the skies methodically. Far in the distance, streaks of light in several colors illuminated a growing column of smoke. A great and furious battle raged beyond the horizon. 'We must reach the Castle quickly,' he said, his military instincts kicking in.'[/i] Rukh beat his broad, metallic wings harder. 'There is trouble in Castle Town.'

'So what else is new?' Mirra smirked. She leaned into Rukh's saddle and held the Dominion Rod aloft as her warbird gained speed. As they emerged from the canyonlands that led to the desert, a burst of light filled the night sky in the near distance. 'Looks like trouble found us,' she thought to Rukh.

As the pair reached the grasslands where the burst had erupted, the enormous bird banked left and sank into a spiral, inscribing the blast radius and scanning the ground carefully. 'What do you see?' Mirra asked him.

'I see the Sheikah woman, face down in the dirt,' he thought. Once Rukh knew it, Mirra knew it, too. Her rod and green irises began to glow with an internal light. When Rukh came close to the ground, she stood up in the saddle and then leapt into the air. Rukh spread his wings wide and began climbing into the sky again. Her emerald cloak and feathers fanned out beneath the waxing moon, and Mirra landed without a sound a few feet ahead of the Sheikah. Her limp form lay collapsed in the sand, barely breathing. A strange, golden hue seemed to ripple against the shifting shadows that always played across a Sheikah's garb.

As the woman started to stir, Mirra slowly raised the Dominion Rod, clutching it tight as its light began to spread. The Sheikah pushed her palms against the sand, seeming to struggle to support her own slight weight. In the silence, she did not yet notice the cool, green light as it began to shine on her back. When she brought a knee forward to push herself up, Mirra broke the silence.

"I asked you a question, Sheikah," Mirra said, raising her voice to cover the distance between them. She twirled the rod into the air, then slammed it down into the sand at her feet, bringing the Sheikah's face back down with it. The stunned, ragged woman was pinioned to the ground, the rhythmic gleam of the Dominion Rod mirrored in the pulsating light on her own head. Mirra closed the distance between them slowly, the green aura spreading from her eyes gradually strengthening the light covering the Sheikah's shaking form. She held the Dominion Rod high over her head. As her mind stretched over the Sheikah's body, she felt a spirit in shock and alarm, tinged with frustration and a searing pain. Staying out of the Sheikah's reach, she repeated the question she had asked her at the Arbiter's Grounds.

"What is your name and rank?" Mirra glared down at the top of her bounty's sand-tousled hair. The Sheikah's faint breathing rattled out slowly, compressed under the weight of the Dominion Rod's power.

As Mirra confronted the nameless assassin, Rukh circled the air beyond his madame's lights, soundlessly gliding behind the shadows.

Lynn/Night Five/Border of the Desert

She felt stuck in a bubble, as though experiencing the world from outside its purview. She felt as though she was being roughly handled, but her body was wrapped in thick wool. She thought she head voices, but cotton filled her ears. And sight was beyond her abilities. Everything was awash in a brightness beyond light, so blinding in its intensity that it made everything dark.

And then the bubble burst.

[b]Simultaneously[/b]

There was clarity. She could see it, everything. The Maiden of Heaven came down on her as she fell, tackling her from above, burying her deeper in the sand with the force. She tried to resist, to move, but her limbs would not answer her commands. They felt light. A brightness clouded her mind when she turned her attention to her own body.

And then she was sealed away, a bubble formed from her body and confining her.

[hr] [b]Subsequently[/b]

Lynn had a splitting headache, throbbing from the back to the front. It felt as though there was a knot of solid ice in the base of her skull. She groaned and tried to move. Her limbs would not respond.

[color=seagreen]"I asked you a question, Sheikah. What is your name and rank?"[/color]

Her face was being pushed into sand; she could barely breath as something compressed her chest. But she managed to choke out a response.

"Annei, Lynn! Sheikah Agent Class Two, Stealth Specialist Type Two! Ell dash one three seven seven dash aye two!"

IC: Mirra and Rukh / Desert Border / Night 5

As Rukh circled past the eastern shores of Lake Hylia, he could see the Castle silhouetted against the glow of a battle raging within it. A huge prism of light surrounded the keep, while smoke and fire rose from the town beyond. Suddenly, an enormous flash of light filled the entire sky, emanating from the direction of the Castle. In the sudden light, he saw a black army forcing its way over the town's defenses. They marched over a battlefield littered with bodies. Rukh knew they had no time to spare.

He completed the perimeter of the Lake and descended towards Mirra, who was still holding the Sheikah. As he touched down, he heard the Sheikah answering her questions.

"Annei, Lynn! Sheikah Agent Class Two, Stealth Specialist Type Two! L-1377-A2!"

Rukh's eyes narrowed at this new information. He turned his head to Mirra. 'I will handle this assassin. The Castle is under siege by an army of darkness and evil. They need you now.' Rukh opened his jaw wide, and his beak dislocated with the sound of grinding gears.

'Are you sure?' Mirra asked, looking into her bird's eyes. He sensed her hesitation.

'Courage, Mirra!' Rukh told her. She raised the Dominion Rod higher, and a ring of green light spread from where they were standing to encompass Lynn. Mirra waved the Dominion Rod, and Lynn's body shook as electricity danced over her limbs. With a flick of the rod, Mirra flipped Lynn onto her back and pinned her arms to her side, the rim of the energy circle that surrounded them glowing green all the while.

"I can see that you are still weakened, Annei, but I have the power to heal you. Answer Rukh's questions, and you may yet warrant a dose of healing when I return."

With that, Mirra inserted the Dominion Rod into Rukh's open beak, and it slid down the length of his gullet before locking into place. He closed his beak, and his eyes began to glow a brilliant emerald. Mirra plucked a feather from his back and clipped it to the earring she had collected from the dismembered Gerudo warrior.

You'd better take two,' Rukh advised, 'you've got a lot of ground to cover.' Mirra nodded, then plucked a second feather and attached it to the first. She set off for Hyrule field in a dash.

IC: Rukh / Gerudo Desert to Lake Hylia / Night 5

As Mirra disappeared behind a trail of dust, Rukh lowered his eyes at the Sheikah lying on her back. He could feel the energy of the Dominion Rod coursing through each plate in his armor. He slowly began to prowl inside the perimeter of the magical circle Mirra had left, keeping Lynn Annei in its center.

'Tell me something, Sheikah Agent Lynn Annei,' he came in close, then lowered his beak just above her head. 'What is a Stealth Specialist doing with enough cryomancy to freeze over a volcano? We saw what you did to the Arbiter's Grounds. We saw what you did to the prisoners there, to the Draclord monster. Just where did you get that kind of firepower--or should I say, snowpower?'

As his questions flew into Lynn's mind, Rukh began sniffing around her shoulders and hair. The Dominion Rod held her firmly to the energy field beneath them. There was nothing she could do. He began to pick up the smell of the Sheikah's body. Oddly, she did not smell as most Sheikah do. She gave off the same deep indigo aura and the usual scent of smoke and ash, but it was tinged with wisps of blue-white, with an almost mint or evergreen scent. Rukh also couldn't help but notice that the air of cold that had surrounded her before had faded, at least momentarily. Something in that flash of light seemed to have weakened her cryomancy. This was a perfect opportunity.

'You know what I always found odd about you Shadow Folk?' he asked rhetorically. 'You have almost no unique smell to you. It's a remarkable trait, and damned advantageous. Every one of you smells almost exactly the same. Impossible to tell apart! But you? You seem to be an exception. I get the normal whiff of the smoke and ashes you people always reek of, but then I get the distinct smell of...mountains, is it? I must say I'm impressed, Demoness. Even here, you seem to be something 'other than a humble servant of the Royal Family...

Imperceptibly at first, and then more swiftly, the circle of light Rukh and Lynn were on began to elevate, carrying both of them with it. Green light began to glimmer out of Rukh's joints and eyes. Too gradually for the disoriented Sheikah to notice, he began carrying them out of the desert until they were over the shores of Lake Hylia, then far out over the water. As they neared the center of the Lake, Rukh began to gather a layer of stormclouds overhead, which gave way to sheets of rain that fell through the Dominion Rod's barrier and sprinkled the dark surface of the water far below.

'Because if I know one thing, Agent Annei,' he continued, 'it's the many various odors of the Armed Forces of Hyrule. Add this information to your questionable behavior at the prison, and I believe we have what Intelligence calls 'grounds for suspicion.

The first roar of lightning barged across the rainy sky as Rukh leapt off the floating ring of light that held Lynn above the Lake and began circling around her on emerald wings of armor. Light poured from his feathers and plates, his long eyes beaming with a shine that lit the Lake for miles. He rose the floating platform higher as the wind picked up and the Lake began to writhe. Rukh came to a halt in mid-air in front of the ring, flapping his wings slowly as the power of the Dominion Rod held him and the Sheikah Agent aloft. He flashed his eyes, and a bolt of lightning ripped through the air between them. Lynn Annei's body began to crackle with green energy, and then slowly rise until she was being held upright.

'Open your eyes, Demoness' he commanded. His armor flashed, and two green sparks shot from Lynn's clenched eyelids, springing them wide open.

'Now tell me,' Rukh ordered, staring deep into her eyes, 'who are you really working for?'

Lynn/Above Lake Hylia/Fifth Night

Lynn looked around her, at the open expanse of the sky that spread to all sides, above and below. Down, far far down, the waters of Lake Hylia mocked her with a false promise of safe landing. She knew to fall from this height would kill her, break the bones in her body, even hitting the water's surface. But if this mechanical beast wished to intimidate her, it would receive no pleasure from seeing its attempts successful. Lynn brought a solid mask of stoicism to her face.

Although not as solid as she would have liked. There was a pain in her head, a growing migraine, like something clawing at the base of her skull, trying to tear its way upward from her spine into her brain. The corners of her lips twitched as the headache pounded in time with her heartbeat. With every flash of lightning she flinched, not from fear but recoiling from the sudden brightness as it lanced through her eyes.

Still, her stubbornness would win out. She would die before giving this enemy any satisfaction.

Gritting her teeth, she spat at the bird. "Annei, Lynn. Sheikah Agent Class Two, Stealth Specialist Type Two. Ell dash one three seven seven dash aye two."

Straining to overcome the throbbing in her skull, she focused her concentration on her foe, allowing the rising bile of hatred to supersede the pain. "I serve the Crown, the Royal Family of Hyrule. Why have you abducted me from the Castle? I guarantee what you seek you will not find it! I will die before I betray my oaths!"


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