Senshi, Mountains, Afternoon 2
A powerful wind storm kicked up just before Senshi and Misha arrived at their destination. They were forced to take shelter in a small cave to avoid getting lost in the whiteout conditions. Senshi had spent at least an hour trying to practice his telekinesis by manipulating smoke from small fire they had made. Unfortunately with his tutor having gone silent his progress was slow. He wondered why he was suddenly being left to his own devices. Was it because he left him after they encountered Lia, or perhaps it he felt Senshi had to try and progress on his own? Hell maybe he had something else to do, who could tell what a psychic ghost got up to in its spare time.
Deciding to take a break Senshi pulled out his Ocarina and began to take play a dark but relaxing song. After a few moments Misha took notice of his choice song. She’d heard him play it from time to time and it always seemed strange to her. “Why do you play that one?” she finally asked.
“I find it helps me think,” was all Senshi replied with, but that answer wasn’t good enough for Misha.
“No,” she fired back, “you play that windfish whenever you ‘think’ about stuff. You play this other one for some other reason I can’t seem to figure out.”
The girl was too astute for her own good. Senshi had been playing the Song of Healing in front of her from time to time in the vain hope that its ability to sooth troubled souls would help her fractured personality. It never worked but he still hoped one day, when she’s healed enough on her own, it might help make the final push. Still, he didn’t want to admit as much since Misha was type to fight against anyone trying to help her. He had to tell her something though, “It reminds me of… someone.”
Misha’s ears perked up clearly wanting to know more. Senshi elaborated, “She used to ask me to play it so she could sing along with it. I’d learned the melody from my uncle and she’d learned it while hiding in Termina. I guess lately, well since yesterday really, I’ve been thinking about her a lot.”
Senshi notice Misha visibly pout after hearing that answer. It seemed like she’d bought off on his half truth. Of course a second later she kicked over the fire much to Senshi’s surprise.
Before he could react Misha pointed to the caves opening, “the wind died. We can move again.”
Misha walked about outside to gather some snow in order to properly extinguish the fire and save some of the wood in case they ran short later. While she was distracted Senshi wrapped his Ocarina back up in a cloth and hid it in the girl’s pack.
“Senshi! Come look at this!” she shouted back into the cave.
Senshi quickly grabbed their packs and hurry out to see what Misha was screaming about. It was a large stone door. Carved into it was a symbol he recognized from the old caves on his home island, surrounded by the symbols of the six sages. It seemed as if the wind storm had uncovered the entrance to their destination. Senshi turned to Misha like he was about to complement her for finding the door but since said, “You know, you shouldn’t yell around here, you’ll cause and avalanche.”
Misha responded with a swift kick forcing Senshi to hold back from yelling considering what he’d just said. She then headed towards the door and fumbled around in the snow looking for the lever that opened it. Senshi soon joined her and after a moment they found it, except it was frozen solid.
“So, can we thaw it out,” Misha asked.
Senshi shook his head, “if the levers frozen then inner workings might be too and we can’t thaw those. I’ve got another idea though.” He touched the gems on the back of his golden gauntlets and he walked over the stone door and tried to lift it open. The door budged, though not by much. Finally he added in the force of his telekinesis to give a farther boost. At first it didn’t help at all, but he could hear the sound of ice cracking coming from inside. Finally he heard something shatter and he was able to lift the door all the way up. After Misha entered he let go causing the door to slam shut behind them with a crash heavy enough to make the ground shake.
“What was that about loud noises?” Misha quipped.
Senshi, Sanctuary of the Essence Gems, Afternoon 3
“Ugh, why do we have go up all their stairs?” Misha moaned, “The entrance is already half way up a mountain. Who’s the asshole who though this place need to go up even higher once you were in the cave?”
“It might have just been naturally shaped this ways.” Senshi offered as a retort, “plus if anyone broke in, the defenders would have the high ground.”
“It’s up a frozen mountain! Plus the people hear were super mages. I don’t think they need the tactical advantage.” Misha fired back. She expected a quick response but was surprised when Sensei didn’t offer one. Instead he’d simply stopped in his tracks. After taking a few more steps the much shorter Misha could finally see why, they had arrived.
It was a large circular room made of polished white marble. A pair of staircases hugged the walls leading up to a balcony that looked to have a hallway behind it. It was the center of the room the drawn Senshi’s attention though, six chest high pillars with a gem stone hovering just above each one.
Senshi finally made his way into the chamber and approached the stones, “Part of me hoped these wouldn’t be here. After everything we went through to destroy these things 400 year ago, to think they just reformed here. We bled and suffered to keep these things from threatening the world and it was all for...”
“So why don’t we just used them?” Misha ask innocently. “If we can’t get rid of them its better we keep them in our hands instead of leaving them here for someone else to find. Plus if they’re as powerful as you say we could use them to wipe the Interlopers in a matter of minutes.”
Senshi shot a menacing glare at the young girl which shocked her as much as it did confuse her. “Go inspect the second floor,” he said coldly.
Misha slipped back into her Mikhail persona and reacted like a child confused over a scolding, “what, what’s wrong? What’d I said?”
“Just!..” Senshi started to shout but quickly calmed himself. He realized he wasn’t being fair. There was no way Misha could understand just how dangerous the essence gems were or how horrible the war they fought over them was. To her they were just taboo super weapon; the kind of things the Black Ops had no issue using. “Please, just go see what’s up there.”
Shinigami spoke up with his own two-cents as Mikhail head up, “She’s right you know. We could do a LOT of damage with these things. Hell I bet that’s why the boy wonder was helping with your telepathy, so you could use all six at once.”
“I don’t want to hear this from you of people. You’re supposed to be the antithesis of these things.” Senshi replied while unpacking the spear and axe he’d brought with him.
The demon offered an alternate suggestion, “right, my bad, we’re a bad fit. How about this we just take the light stone and give it to your sister or one of the two Scions. They’d be able to win the war themselves with that kind of power and then you can just destroy the thing afterwards.”
Senshi stood in front of water gem holding the spear hope to convert into a water weapon. For a brief second he almost considered Shinigami’s suggestion but managed to shake off the temptation. “No, no one should ever wield these things directly. The weapons are a much safer plan. I just need to figure out how to make them.”
“Oh hohoho, such resolve for your plan, but you don’t even know how to execute it. They young truly are foolish.” A voice called out from behind. Senshi quickly drew his scythe as he turned around to see the visage of an old woman floating above the shadow stone.
“Who the hell are you?” he demanded.
The old woman seemed amused by the threat “Hmm..? I’m suppose I’m no one, not anymore. I’m just a shadow really. Of course if I was someone, I suspect it would be someone that couldn’t be hurt by that weapon.” The old woman pointed at the Shadow Scythe which instantly turned back into a simple metal shard.
Senshi cautiously reached for his sword but stopped short of drawing it, “Ok, so then what are you?”
“Oh hohoho, I suppose that is next logical question. Let just say I’m a memory the Shadow Gem held onto.” The old woman answered as vaguely as possible.
Senshi finally relaxed and let out an annoyed sigh, “So you’re telling me you’re an apparition the stone created to communicate with me. Let’s say I believe you and that the stone is sentient and what to have a chat. Why?”
“Because young boy, you want answers and he wants to give them to you,” she answer causing the Scythe to reform back into the shape it held when it was first created. “You’re correct the Gems aren’t sentient but that scythe has a soul and it wants to have a little chat with you. I’m just a proxy.”
The old woman notice Senshi and suddenly become intrigued and worried with the revelation of his weapons apparent consciousness. “Oh, you’re worried that you won’t be able to make any other weapons without sacrificing someone. Don’t worry, binding a soul an essence weapon is optional, we only did it with the first two to control the angels.”
“We?” Senshi asked having not missed the implication.
“Oh hohoho, how astute,” the old woman laughed. “Yes, I’m the shade of the Old Hag who created that scythe of yours. I also had a hand in the Sword of Lights creation. The Angels were somewhat unstable back that so we had to take measures to control them.”
“So your sacrificed two people and trapped the in weapons for all of eternity?” Senshi asked with disgust.
The hag seemed insulted by the accusation but was ultimately amused, “They volunteered for sentimental reasons. It gave them a way to protect and look after loved one.”
Senshi though for a brief moment before finally asking, “Tell me about them.”
“Oh, is that really the first question one want to ask. Don’t you want to get the point, aren’t you short on time?”
“It’s the question I need to ask,” Senshi responded firmly. “They deserve to have their story known.”
The apparition shrugged then took a moment to tell a brief history of Tendresse de Lumière and Vertias du Ciel and how they ended up bound inside the element weapons to keep the Angels under control. Though out of all of it, it was the common thread they both share that intrigued Senshi the most, Soldat du Ciel. That name kept popping up. He wanted to ask more about him and his era but now wasn’t the time.
“What about the Glaive of the Inferno and the Sword of Sunrise? Tell me of their creation?” Senshi asked, noting the odd omission.
The hag seemed dismissive, “Hmm? Those? No idea. They made we’re after my time.”
“After your time,” he questioned, “how can something be after your time. I thought you were just the stone’s projection.”
“Hey Senshi, I finished checking up here,” Mikhail called out with a well timed interruption. “Just five empty rooms and a sixth that I can’t get in.”
“Let me guess, the sealed one has a shadow symbol on it,” Senshi yelled back while keeping his gaze firmly on the old woman.
“Yeah how did…” Mikhail paused have finally gotten close enough to look down and see the hag, “who’s that!? Were we followed?”
Senshi didn’t answer and was instead more concerned with confronting the Hag, “You’re actually the spirit of the Shadow Gem’s former owner, aren’t you? You’ve probably entombed yourself in here to look after the place now that the Guardians are all but extinct. Which begs the question, why the ruse?”
The hag seemed more than a bit amused, “Oh hohohoho, you figured it out. Truth be told I figured if you knew the truth you’d bother me with questions I didn’t feel like answering. Question about eras that should remain forgotten and past wars to which the outcome wouldn’t be changed from knowing more about. In short, I didn’t want you wasting either of our time crying about the past. You found me out though. Well I suppose to be fair and reward your deduction I’ll answer one more question, but then you have to answer one from me. Better make it good.”
Senshi was starting to catch on to the Hag’s shroud nature. He suspected she would have said the same thing to him even if he hadn’t figured things out and this was just her way of convincing him to ask the correct question. While he figured he’d one day regret missing this chance to learn everything the Hag could tell him, he knew what he had to ask, “How do I make the last two weapons, and what is lost if I don’t use a soul?”
The hag smiled, “Of course, anyone who can use the gems and will there power into an object and forge a permanent link. But, I doubt you’ll be about to do that with Forest and Water. You’ll have to rely on a simpler method. Smash the gems with the weapons and force one of the shards into the weapon. That isn’t to say there won’t be draw backs. The souls are what allows the weapon to change it’s shape and to chose it’s owner. They can also aid the wielder in using the weapons power should they lack the aptitude in the element. Of course one could always be bound later.”
Senshi gripped the axe he had brought with him and approached the Forest Gem, “simple enough.”
“Oh hohoho, not so fast boy. You still need to answer my question,” the hag interrupted. Once he’d given her his attention she finally asked the question that had been the whole reason she bothered materializing before him, “why do you keep rejecting that scythe’s power?”
Senshi attempted to be dismissive with his response, “the people I wish to protect consider it evil. Using it around them is counterproductive.”
The hag knew better then to believe such tripe, “So what’s more important to you, keeping those people safe or making sure they like you?” She could tell she’d struck a never and decided to keep pushing. “Of course none of that explains why you haven’t been using it when those people aren’t around. So what’s the real reason? What are you scared of, yourself maybe?”
He didn’t have an answer, at least not one he was willing to say. The hag had him pinned. It was true he’d stopped using the Scythe because of how the other Light Warriors viewed it but that was just an excuse he’d always secretly been looking for. There was always a part of him the feared what he’d became if he tapped into its full potential. He’d already suffered greatly in the past from drawing on powers he shouldn’t and he lived in constant fear of doing that again.
The hag was of course amused by Senshi’s internal struggle and took her last moment to nail the point home, “I’ll let you in on an important secret. That Scythe, no Vertias, he grants power to those who will do anything to protect the ones they love. It’s a mindset you’ve always had but you never fully commit to for some childish reason or another. Embrace that way of thinking and you’ll be able to use the full power that weapon can grant. You better do it fast too. At least if you want to survive the battle we both know you’ll be facing once you leave here.” The hag let out one finally laugh as she slowly faded away.
Despite the weight of the hag words hanging over him, Senshi decided to leave the brooding for later. Getting the reason he came here from he slammed the axe into the Forest Gem splintering off a small shard. Taking the shard he forced it upon the side of the axe blade and willed them to merge together. To his surprise it actually worked and he repeated the process with the spear and the Water Gem.
“So should we say something profound or are we just supposed to stare at them in awe?” Misha asked in order to mock how mundane the moment felt despite the magnitude of what they’d just created.
“Let’s go,” Senshi said ignoring the comment as he turned to the exit. The implication of the hag’s final words was clear. Taur was on his way and they didn’t have time to waist standing around here. Nevertheless he barely made it down a single step before he stopped and turned back, “Damn it, I can’t leave these things like this. Shinigami lets take care of them.”
Several moments later the pair stepped back out into the open mountain air, except now Senshi was noticeably winded and Misha was visibly disappointed.
“I don’t see why you had to-”Misha started to speak but was cut off when the large stone door slammed shut behind them. They both froze for a second fearfully that the load noise might have started an avalanche but after a short moment of nothing Misha continued her thought. “Why did you shatter all of those things?”
“To make sure they can’t be used for a long time.” Senshi replied then grabbed the Water Spear in hand and let out a steady stream on the door. The water the made contact with the frigid rock quickly frozen into an ever growing wall of ice until Senshi was satisfied it was thick enough that nothing short of the Elemental Weapons could open the chamber again, “and that was the make sure they can’t be use for a very long time.”
Old Faces, New Faces
Desert Province, Day 3
The desert’s frigid ridgetops rose black and barren against a pale orange sky. Tattered banners dotted the shadowy dunes, like broken arrows in the backs of a fallen herd of cattle, where only days prior had the Twili army scattered.
And now the precrepuscular sky opened up in a glistening red wound that seared across the vault with a primordial thrum, shaking the bones of the earth. A blinding orb of crystal light revolved at its heart; and the light that fell on the horizon below shifted from gold, to red, to white.
When the meteor struck, like a teardrop from the heavens, a tremor permeated the ground. Even the desert sands seemed to roil at its otherworldly quake, and the Twili banners swayed and drooped in the ensuing winds. From one such banner, the winged silhouette of a mother gyrfalcon took flight headlong into the oncoming breeze.
Darkness covered the dunes for a time, until the late sun poured over the horizon once more, and only the wind lingered in the remnants of the forgotten fort.
Mirra Lemeris, Desert Province, Day 3
The circling white and grey gyrfalcon dipped low and leaned into an updraft from the meteor strike. It swept towards the ground and finally landed on the polished ivory shoulder plate of a woman perched at the top of the impact crater. She looked out over the sands with a small handheld telescope.
Her auburn fell almost scarlet against her cuirass in the harsh desert sun. Each curve and ridge of her armor glistened pale in the shifting sands. She wore a full suit of tight-fitting, all-white armor with an intricate gold inlay that gave a feather pattern to her garb. At the edges of her boots and gauntlets, jagged feathers raised up like wings. An ornate ivory longbow stretched above her shoulders, coupled with a quiver of gold, shimmering arrows. Her face was veiled under a bright red cowl that streamed long against her back, whipping in the frenzied breeze amidst her locks of hair, this too inlaid with gold that made the silken fabric scintillate with all the varied hues of wild flame.
Retracting her telescope, she adjusted the billowing mail skirt that draped down to her knees, and slung the spyglass alongside the long, curved blade that hung at her hip. She outstretched, and the great falcon on her shoulder hopped deftly to one hand. In the distance, she saw the smokestacks and tilted banners of a hastily abandoned Interloper camp, and knew her quest would lead her there next.
“The time has come to end this war,” she whispered to her bird. “Let us see what awaits us in the enemy camp on the horizon.”
Mirra lowered a solid white helmet with eyeless visor over her face, the sheer faceplate masking her completely and falling just past her lips and chin. She set off on foot for the Twili encampment as her raptor companion took wing to the skies.
Mirra Lemeris, Desert Province, Day 3
The sun hung low in the pale sky, and beneath it a waning moon. In the circle of her spyglass, Mirra saw the outlines of tents in an abandoned Twili camp on the horizon, and hiked over the last dunes that divided her from it.
The desert seeped into her ivory armor, adding a flashing sheen to her profile. Renewed from her retreat to the Sacred Realm, the new cuirass, gauntlets, and greaves given her by the gods soaked up the sunlight and stored it for her use. Whether for healing or destruction, the Sacred Armor she wore would save her from the Dusk that had come to haunt the world.
Her falcon clicked his beak from the yardarm of a tattered banner bearing the Twili marks. As Mirra drew close, he hopped from his perch and circled low, until he landed atop a spear that pierced through a bloated corpse, its mane of red hair tangled in a dried pool of blood.
“Hoy! I ain’t dead yet, buzzard!” a gruff voice shouted, and the falcon jumped back into the air. The bloated corpse suddenly rolled onto its side, and two beady, bloodshot eyes set back in sickly, green circles glared across the sands into Mirra’s. She startled and paused just inside the fortress gate, then darted ahead when she realized she may be able to help.
“You’re…impaled,” she lamented, standing over the fallen soldier. “Be still, I can assist—“
“It’s too late for me, girlie,” the main groaned, collapsing back against a rock. “I’m afraid this is it for my people.”
“Your ’people?’” she asked. “Are you not Twili?”
“Twili!” the man croaked, coughing blood into his red whiskers. “Don’t lump me in with those Interlopers! Not as I die on my native sands!”
“So you are…”
“Rykos Bumba, ma'am, Gerudo prince and last of my line; with my dying breath—“ the fallen brute choked on a fountain of blood dribbling down his swollen, greenish cheeks, “—the Desert people die with me!”
Mirra knelt down to look the self-styled martyr in the eye. “Is that so?” she smiled.
“Don’t patronize an old man, wench,” he coughed.
“I hate to break it to you, Sir Bumba, but I am certain I freed one of you prince folk from a dungeon in this very desert less than a half score moons ago,” she said.
Rykos started at that. “Can it be?” he said. His eyes drifted upward, looking through Mirra as if to the skies. His distant stare nearly gave way to death, but then a question flickered across his gaze. “Did he give a name?”
“Ganondorf,” she replied. “I gave him his boots.”
“…Then it was not all in vain.”
The Gerudo male looked at her for a moment, his eyes watery, and then heaved one tremendous final belch. A phlegmatic bubble of blood popped in his brown teeth, and the Gerudo prince she had found dying in the sands expired. His body lay exposed under foreign colors, but Mirra shut his wrinkled eyes and folded his arms.
Mirra rose from her knee and looked outward over the camp, the hot winds trailing her crimson robe sideways over her shoulders. From the lay of the wreckage around her, this lumbering thug had laid waste to a wide portion of the Twili camp just as they began their march. A scorched rim of earth surrounded her where explosions had baked the very sands into the bones of unsuspecting Twili.
Her falcon returned from his rounds to rest at the dead Gerudo’s side. He pecked his beak briefly into the man’s coat pockets, and fished out a single satchel that had been tied to his belt. Mirra picked it up and looked inside, and saw several dozen small, crystalline orbs that bore a deep red, fiery glow in their centers. She tied a knot again over the bag of Bombarbles and tossed it back to her familiar.
“You keep them. They might come in handy.”
The falcon chirped and looped the small satchel onto the leather harness at his back.
Mirra Lemeris, Desert Province, Day 3
Mirra paused from the perch of a tall lookout on the north side of the fort, leaning her shoulder against a wooden ballast. The sun baked the sands beyond, and her visibility was limited. Still, she knew the fates had returned her to the Desert with intention.
A howl caught her attention from far behind, and she turned to see a spot of shadow on the horizon. At last, it was a sign.
“Roc, why don’t you go see who’s joining us?” Mirra whistled down to her falcon.
The grey raptor lifted onto the hot, heavy breeze from their watchtower just as the shadow descended into the dunes toward them.
A full wind breathed over the land with a bitter heat. Mirra wiped sweat from her eye as she tilted her spyglass aloft.
In the near distance, she saw the shadow to be a great, armored bulbo charging through a column of dust at the Twili camp. A tall, heavyset swordsman sat hunched over its leather saddle, goading the boar on with a black whip. He wore a weathered red cloak, and Mirra couldn’t see his face.
She raised her hand, and signaled Roc to be at the ready with his missiles. But before she dropped her arm, the approaching figure brandished a polished steel knife that caught the sun on its curved blade. She stayed her hand.
Once he neared the watchtower where she still stood, she bid him remove his mask while Roc remained circling overhead. He complied.
“So it is you,” she called down. “The King of Thieves.”
Lord Ganon smiled under his upturned nose, and feigned a small bow to the crusader with his red hood about his shoulders.
“We meet again, Lady Lemeris.”
Mirra held her position at the tower, even as Ganondorf dismounted his bulbo and dropped his arms out to his sides, empty-handed. She studied him as he neared the lifeless corpse of Rykos.
“I don’t suppose you had anything to do with that?” she asked, gesturing towards the fallen prince.
“Killing him? No, no,” he said, clicking his tongue. “To be sure, he was…one of my ancestors," he offered, making a circle around his body. "Several of whom I called forth in a bloodrite to...fight these Interlopers. The portals should still be open in the Arbiter’s Grounds, for a time.”
Mirra stalled in her stance, raised one eyebrow. “You’ve tampered with the Mirror Chamber?”
“Well, no, not I,” the Prince replied with wry smirk. “Not yet, anyway.” Behind his back, Ganon slowly brought one arm in towards the long knife at his hip.
“Spare me thy riddles, thief,” she scolded, jerking over the bannister of her keep. “Is your heresy so far gone, to dare warp one’s own blood?”
“You Hylians,” Ganondorf scoffed, a note of anger tinging his voice. “You've never understood sacrifice...”
In a flash, he swept his knife into the flank of his bulbo, and the beast roared forward into Mirra’s wooden watchtower. It smashed on impact and she tumbled forward as the structure crumbled, but got caught up in the collapse and vanished under the cloud of debris.
Mirra Lemeris, Day 3, Desert Province
The winds slowly died down around the forgotten camp, letting the tattered banners droop from their masts and Ganondorf’s crimson cape sink to the cusp of his boots. They were sandy and worn now, after months of laying his plans in his homeland, where they had been clean and black as soot the day Mirra returned them to him. As the dust settled around the collapsed watchtower that held her down, he listened closely for signs of life.
“Come out and face me, settler!” Ganondorf called, hoisting his broadsword in the air. “Face the fate of all those who would challenge the Gerudo nation!”
Suddenly, a shattered pylon budged from the wreckage, and Mirra Lemeris stood upright amid the debris. Her pale face was smudged with ash and a small stream of dried blood. She lowered her eyes at Ganondorf, and her poised glare ran white with a refined and harnessed rage.
“You mistake me for thy enemy, Prince,” she said in a bare hush. “Would you bother to learn your adversary’s origins before you strike, thou may spare thyself the battle.”
Ganondorf hunkered down on his heels and squinted across the hot sands. “You delude yourself if you expect I shall lower my guard at the word of a blue-blooded Hylian,” he shouted.
“Nay, you mistake me again—I am no loyalist of the King’s,” Mirra chided. “I serve a higher power still.” The winds seemed to rise again, and dust began to swirl around them both. The smoke from the wreckage bombed by Ganon’s pig sent hot ash and smoldering cinders in the air over their heads. “Though Hyliaborn I may have been, my destiny lay in the Sacred Realm, a servant to the gods,” she stated, bringing her hand to the hilt of the sword at her side, “not to men.”
Mirra unsheathed her sword and wielded it directly, in a dueling fashion, to challenge Ganon formally. “Now then, you have offended the laws of the Seven by summoning ancestors through time to wage your petty war,” she intoned. “The dead shall not retread the roads of time to turn Princes into Kings. And should you persist in thou endeavor for the Spiritual Stones, you shall face trial for these mad sins when you breach the Sacred Realm.”
Ganondorf gawked at the aura of radiance that suddenly befell the woman’s armor, her very skin seeming to glow with a gold light. “Your gods’ trials…do not intimidate me,” he growled. He clenched both hands around the hilt of his broadsword and prepared to lunge at Mirra. “I will seize the Spiritual Stones for the races of men, and with them, the power to make the Gerudo nation sovereign over the world!”
“But consider, Prince,” she went on, “I serve a higher purpose in this era than bringing one heretic such as yourself to justice. If you would be king of more than thieves, but spare me this feud, and you will have an ally in the Sacred Realm when the time comes to face your destiny. I care little who wields the scepter of earthly power over this waste, but serve me in this world and I shall be in your debt in the next.”
Now Mirra lowered her blade to one side, and extended her other hand with the palm up and open. Prince Ganon, ever cunning, stopped to consider her offer.
“But what could a mortal such as myself possibly offer to a goddess?” he probed, sword still raised.
“Nor am I goddess,” she corrected. “I am but a servant of the Trinity, mortal yet, and my duty bids me traverse your Haunted Wasteland,” she gestured toward the unforgiving dunes that loomed around them like embalmed corpses in their arid mounds, their ghosts whispering on the winds along the shifting ridgelines, “I am all but but a prisoner myself in these lands without a worthy mount. Grant me your assistance in my hour of need, and you have my word as an emissary to vouchsafe your passage when you enter my Realm. By the Goddesses, I am sworn to uphold such a bond.”
Ganondorf paused, finally letting his blade fall to his lower guard. “But whither the warbird you rode into battle when first we crossed paths?” he asked, still wary.
Mirra grew wistful at this, and averted her eyes from the Prince. “Even to an emissary of the gods, some things remain hidden,” she admitted. “Nor do I know why the Goddesses returned me to these impenetrable sands without him. And so, as I provided you with the means to walk out of prison so few moons ago, so too do I call upon thy favor now.”
“So be it,” he said after a long silence, “you shall take the reins of Hathor, and in return I shall call upon thee in my hour of need some fateful day hence. For safe passage in your realm, I grant thee safe passage in mine.”
Ganondorf extended his sword upward once again, and Mirra met the edge of his blade with her own. “Thus an oath is formed, on our deaths be it broken,” she said, as they both brought their fists to their chest and solemnly nodded.
Ganondorf stepped back from the debris and clasped his broadsword to his back. He clapped his hands once, and the armored bulbo Hathor came roaring over the hills in a plume of fire. She stopped at Mirra’s side, and Ganondorf took her leather reins in his hand, and presented them to Mirra. She accepted them, and bowed her head slightly to the man before her.
“Let this be the dawn of a steady alliance,” she said to him, then mounted the great boar. “Until we meet again, Prince.”
With Ganon standing in the wreckage of the Twili encampment, watching her departure in the simmering noonday sun, Mirra continued her trek over the desert sands with newfound speed. Roc circled overhead and began to scout their next destination.
IC: Mirra Lemeris / Desert Province / Day 3
The sun hung interminably high in the arid blue sky, as if this day of her return to the realm would never pass into night. Pausing for a moment on her razorback mount, Mirra unclasped a canteen and sipped lukewarm water down her parched throat.
“There’s got to be a reason the goddesses sent me back here,” Mirra lamented, puzzling over the dazzling dunes on the horizon that seemed to drift off without end.
Suddenly, the white spot of her falcon Roc against the blue haze dove low and swooped back into the air over a steep rise in the sands. He circled there steadily, drawing Mirra closer.
“Hello?” she called out as she reached the dune’s ridge. Far below her, at the bottom of a steep grade in the sands, a lone woman lay facedown in dirt-stained robes half-buried in sand. “Hoy!” Mirra tried to rouse her, and noticed the woman curl her shoulders slightly, as if trying to push up.
Mirra hopped down from Hathor and skidded down the sandy slopes, shifting her feet and swerving her knees and hips as she descended. When she reached the bottom of the low pit this woman had fallen in, Roc met her shoulder and snapped lightly at the air.
She knelt down by the girl’s side and pulled the ivory gloves from her wrists. She touched her hand to the side of the girl’s face, and pushed thin strands of short-cropped brunette hair from her brow. Her eyes looked up at Mirra blankly, with what seemed like the vague shadow of pupils searching blindly over the vault. The girl's sweat seemed to reek of distilled mash, and yet something darker seemed to linger beneath the surface.
The girl mumbled to herself, as if she were conversing with another, but in tones too low for Mirra to hear even up close. Her eyes faded from focused, dark irises to mirky white pools that stared in no direction. Wherever she was, Mirra knew she was fargone.
“Nayru, guide this lost sheep back to waking life, and pour water o’er her cracked lips from the sieve of your Wisdom,” she intoned.
A white light glistened from the edges of Mirra’s palms, and she slowly cupped the young woman’s face in her hands. Gradually, her vision seemed to clear, and with a gasp she quickly sat up and gawked at Mirra. She wiped sand from her eyes. Mirra passed her her canteen, and the girl gulped the warm water greedily.
“I am Mirra Lemeris, a healer from the Sacred Realm,” she introduced herself. “Are you hurt? How did you come to be here?”
Lia / Desert Province / Day 3
“I am Mirra Lemeris, a healer from the Sacred Realm,” she introduced herself. “Are you hurt? How did you come to be here?”
Lia didn’t have any magical ability to ward off alcohol's effects. But they did naturally wear off faster due to some kind biological difference. So the time she had spent in the desert combined with the healing spell gave her a clear head again. Clearer than before, at least.
But she couldn’t quite summon the strength to speak, instead sending a small telepathic ‘thank you’ to this woman. Out of respect for having likely saved her life, Lia opted not to intrusively scan the woman’s mind for a name. Lia then telepathically transmitted the moments leading up to this one to her savior. Thoughts she sent included mourning her brother, drinking at the bar, and coming to the desert in a drunken haze before passing out.
Before long, Lia found the will to speak and not merely send thoughts.
“Lia.” She coughed and took another drink of water. “Came here with allies, but can’t…” Lia struggled. Her memory was normally solid but the drinking and depression were wreaking havoc on it. She couldn’t remember the names of her allies, and some of them she’d known for many years. “I’m sorry I’m having trouble remembering. There are others coming though, so that we can make the sword.” Lia felt some inner concern. She didn’t know this woman and was freely offering information. Alcohol hadn’t completely worn off. She was coherent now but not still not very wise. “We need to retrace my steps. They will come through the way I did.”
Jaden/HK Cantina/Day 3
Darrel was right. There had to be a new way to fight this war...something to break the cycle. Maybe have more husbands who could go home to their wives, men who could see their sweethearts once more, or make this winter not be their last one.
Heading through the portal shortly after Darrel, Jaden's dislike for super dry climates became way too well known.
"Just like a cloud o' dust right outta Nayru's nookie. Can't see a bloody thing!"
Following the sound of his companions' voices, he watched his steps as Polaris claimed he saw something. But it wasn't what Polaris saw in Jaden's mind as much as what the Sentinel felt. Was the Chieftain nearby? Someone or something was using one of the most secret Sheikah abilities. And Polaris looked different from what he could see, but the gusts of sand obscured the good look he tried to get.
"We might not be alone here, folks. I felt the Chieftain's presence just now. He might have come through the portal; might not be Lia you see up there. How can you see in this mess, anyway?"
Polaris Eridanus/ Hidden Kakariko/ 3rd Day
His eyes never straying from the distant horizon Polaris nodded distractedly at Darrels words and accepted the proffered waterskin, slinging it across his chest with the attached leather strap, the skin coming to rest at his hip.
"Always good to be back, eh?" he grumbled as he cast his eyes around their immediate vicinity. "Any sign of Lia? She just came through not long ago--she can't have ventured too far."
By virtue of the Chieftains Mark, he could sense Jaden’s approach as clearly as he heard it. And he heard him loud and clear, cursing with much fanfare as he came abreast of the General and Sunrise Knight.
"We might not be alone here, folks. I felt the Chieftain's presence just now. He might have come through the portal; might not be Lia you see up there. How can you see in this mess, anyway?"
Polaris pulled his gaze from the far off dunes and looked the Sheikah Sentinel up and down, gauging his current state and temperament. He would need to do this delicately.
”I have the answer to both your question and the possibility of the Chieftain following us. For starters, only us, Lia, and perhaps one other have traversed the path which she opened. We cannot count your Chieftain among that number.”
Unstoppering the corked skin at his hip, the General waggled an index finger in a circular motion and flicked it upward causing a small portion of the already warm water inside to raise to his lips. With his thirst temporarily quenched, he replaced the cork and raised the same finger into the air to emphasize his meaning, ”As I said, I possess the answer to your query regarding my Sight, but I ask you to belay that particular line for the time being. In the meantime, you are correct, we are NOT alone, I cannot see this other, so be on your guard as we progress.” Turning his attention back to that far off horizon, Polaris could see the vaguely familiar outline of the Chiaria girl and another whose identity he could only guess at, atop a rise behind them a gargantuan bullbo mount loomed.
Crouching down he cupped his hands and scooped up a large amount of sand, and muttered under his breath for a moment until the golden brown substance flashed a bright crimson before writhing into the form of a tightly coiled rope that was somewhere between sandy brown and blood red on the visible spectrum. Standing, Polaris affixed one end about his waist before passing it to Darrel.
Mytura eyed it suspiciously.
”Don’t worry, it isn’t cold. Well, it is actually, but not THAT cold. No harm will come to you from its touch, furthermore, you may find some relief from the harshness of the sun with it about your waist...
And if we find ourselves under attack, I can dissolve it in an instant...
Since I’m the only one who can see where we’re going, I figured it the safest way to navigate this storm...”
Tentatively, Darrel took hold of the rope and Polaris smiled reassuringly.
”There. Now then. This way.”
Motioning for the others to follow, Polaris set off across the dunes intimately aware of just who else it was that had passed through that portal.
IC: Mirra Lemeris / Desert Province / Day 3
“We need to retrace my steps. They will come through the way I did.”
Mirra winced and touched her fingertips to her temple, as the wartorn memories haunting Lia’s mind swarmed her own. Memories that were not yet hers flooded her vision, of the decisive lakeside battle and the Hylian exodus, until she realized the continuous flow of time from when she left this plane only moons ago from the very desert where they now stood.
When she opened her eyes, Lia was a blur, seeming to float to and fro over the shifting sands. Mirra began to wonder if she had encountered a mirage.
“You…bring word of the Allies?” she queried, then laughed aloud, wide-eyed, as the truth dawned on her. “The quest for the Daybreak Sword survives?” Mirra rushed up to Lia and grabbed her by the shoulders, pulling her in close with a gasp. “The Alliance lives?!”
She backed away from Lia and shut her solid plate visor over her face, tilting her gaze upward with arms thrown back. White light glistened in the lines of feathers etched into the opal mask's polished surface.
In the sunscorched haze, her gyrfalcon spun low in a thin white line under the clouds, then soared out over the horizon in the direction Lia had arrived.
With her mask lowered, Mirra took the stranded girl by the hand and began walking her up the slopes of the pit she had fallen into. When she stumbled, Mirra pressed her thumb and forefinger to her lip under her mask and whistled briskly, bringing her Bulbo mount scrambling downhill to meet them. She helped Lia into the saddle, and looped the reins around her hands twice to help her hold on.
“Let us go,” she said, patting Lia’s folded hands before she turned and began leading Hathor up to the ridgeline on foot.
From her bird’s eye view, Miira caught a glimpse of none other than Polaris Eridanus perched atop a distant dune. The Red Ice General’s scarlet scales scintillated in the distance.
“Reunited, at long last…,” Mirra sighed under her breath. "Alleluia."
With her opal mask still lowered, she readied her golden carved longbow and drew back a shimmering Light Arrow. She held the arrow nocked until its inner light grew meteoric, then fired it skyward in a near vertical streak. A pulsating column of light shot into the air, visible from at least as far as Polaris’s vantage, if not the warrior she knew to be at his side.
Darrel Mytura - Gerudo Desert Province - Day Three
"Since I’m the only one who can see where we’re going, I figured it the safest way to navigate this storm...”
Tentatively, Darrel took hold of the rope and Polaris smiled reassuringly. He did not loop it around his own waist, but instead coiled it around the palm of his right hand several times before passing the end of the rope to Jaden. He looked back to Polaris, his... friend, he supposed? His comrade? He gave a short nod and gripped the 'rope' tighter.
"There. Now then. This way."
Polaris began to lead the trio forward through the harsh gusts of sand. Darrel could use Morning's Herald to shield his face from the worst of it. Jaden drew up his veil to do the same. Polaris pressed forward across the dunes, seemingly unbothered.
He's different, Darrel thought to himself as they meandered forth. I remember when ours paths first crossed six months ago... a skilled warrior already, but at that time he had seemed so out of his depth...
They did battle before the steps of a hut overlooking a raging river far below. Darrel had been content to stay out of the conflicts that had begun once more to ravage Hyrule, until a young Zora and a wayward golem had happened upon his solitude, followed soon after by this crimson-scaled upstart, a Scion-not-yet-elevated, and an imperious if overmatched Sheikah agent. Weary and short-tempered, Darrel had given the Zora warrior battle, trading mighty blows of spirit and crimson ice until fortune gained him the upper hand.
It was well that the Zora had sensed their their purposes need not be at odds, else they might have destroyed one another.
"Perhaps, it would be a wise decision...Sunright Knight, you say? The name strikes a cord somewhere deep in my memory, but I cannot recall why."
The glacial coverings on the Zora's extremities fell, as crimson water, to the ground. Still clinging tight to the hilt of his argentine dagger, Polaris rose to his feet, warily assuming a combat stance to resume their duel if need be.
"Heh, you know what they say about assumptions...you'll have to forgive both my companions and myself." Audibly chuckling. "One of us, has a tendedncy to get, a bit overzealous I suppose...I have been traveling with them for only a short time now, but I assure you their intentions are of a good nature. My name is Polaris, and I wonder, if there is still a chance at the cooperation you spoke of? Or do we continue the fight until this damned leg gives out and becomes the end of me?"
"To you... Polaris, I will comply. We each stand down, sheath our weapons, and speak as one warrior to another." Darrel said, driving his blade home in its sheath and stepping forward to hold out a firm hand to his adversary. He would take a chance on this Zora's honor. He would accede to hope.
Another new Light Warrior for a new age, albeit birthed from an earlier one. Much as Darrel had begun to see Jaden grow in his strength and his confidence, he had seen it too in Polaris. Perhaps in Polaris most of all. Before his departure he had begun to step to the fore, willingly. In his absence, Darrel could still perceive that much had happened about him. To him.
Was this what others had seen in years past, when Darrel had stepped forward? Was this the inexorable march of time, that champions old eventually ceded the vanguard to those who came after? For years it had seemed to Darrel that it could not be so. He did not age, at least not in body, but his heart and his mind grew tired. Polaris and Jaden, they could take up the standard. And Horus. Ayala. Even Senshi, if he let himself. They had a new Scion to light their way.
Perhaps now was the time to handle old business. Once and for all.
In days to come, perhaps, Helen's voice whispered in his mind. He felt a soothing touch, light as a feather, brushing away the deep delve of his thoughts and smiled to himself. Darrel had always been given to brooding, and she had always been given to using her Celestial powers to keep him from it. Even now she remembered. We still have work to do yet. Together.
He let the thoughts fall away, letting himself be guided by Polaris' tug on the rope. Letting himself be lead. Instead he closed his eyes and let his spiritual senses range outward. Here in the desert, the heart of the ancient Gerudo lands, they who were most attuned to his element, he could project further.
Somewhere beyond, he felt a pair of pulses. Spiritual auras radiating in the sands.
He thought he felt another as well, but could not pinpoint it.
"Polaris!" he called out over the winds. "I can sense them through the storm, we're close!"
"I know, I can see them!" his friend replied, calling back. "Look forward; the storm seems to be winding down."
Darrel lowered his shield, finding that only a few stray, strong gusts of sand buffeted his face. Ahead, still opposite several large dunes that had mounded in between, he could see a ray of light shoot up into the air.
He opened his fist, letting the ice-rope fall away, and laughed.
"Well that's a signal if I've ever seen one." Jaden said as he stepped up beside the other two. "That's got to be the psychic, right?"
Darrel didn't wait to hear Polaris' answer. He fueled spirit into his legs to make his strides through the shifting sands easier and launched himself forward. He sensed something peculiar, a presence of spirit that he'd known once before, months earlier, if briefly. He landed hard atop the crest of a dune, smashing down into it so hard that he collapsed its peak. As the explosion of sand began to settle, he broke into a run. Atop the next rise he used his right hand to shield his eyes from the sun and gazed down into the next valley.
There was Lia, mounted atop an enormous bulbo. And beside her, girded in gleaming armor and still holding aloft her bow, stood one whom his eyes had not alighted upon in six long months. But whatever she'd been through, her spirit retained its resonance.
It was a time for returns, it seemed. Of paths intersecting.
"... Mirra Lemeris?" He plunged down the other side of the dune, sliding down its slope until he came to rest at the bottom, then rose to his feet and brushed himself off. "It is you. It seems this desert waste is determined to continue to bring us all together again. It is... good to see you."
He looked back over his shoulders as his companions crested the dune above. He couldn't help but allow a smile to crease his blonde-bearded face. Until, that is, his eyes came to the sagging psychic seated in the bulbo's saddle with reins tied around her to keep her seated. "Is she going to be alright?"
Lia, Before IWS3
Lia and Ithan looked upon a rolling wave of darkness. Like an ocean made of squid’s ink, the tide was rushing towards them. The past month of their lives had been a roller coaster of time travel, attempting to correct errors made by Sirius and ensure that Polaris Eridanus stayed on the correct path of time. It had been a grueling process and though he hid as best he could, Lia knew it was making Ithan sick. It would have been making them both equally sick but he was somehow drawing the time sickness from her.
Time travel didn’t always cause time sickness, but they had used questionable methods to force time travel, sometimes sending only their minds, sometimes their entire bodies. A mixture of magic and technology, but the end result was that Ithan was dying, and they both knew it.
Lia held hope there was a cure, and Ithan refused to talk about it. At this moment though, they had more pressing matters. The most recent time travel exploits had hurtled them much further into the future than they were supposed to go. So far that it seemed to be beyond the point of certainty, which they recognized as the final point in time where specific historical events seemed absolute. They were solidly in the realm of alternate futures, or so it seemed.
Ithan was exhibiting immense power. With barely any effort, he teleported them away from the wave of darkness just before it came crashing down, bringing them to the skies above, aboard a massive mechanical bird. One no longer piloted by anyone but the automated systems. It was the last stronghold of the time displacement runes, objects stolen by Sirius from another reality.
Sirius. What had he become in this reality? That wave of darkness had become his doing. Lia turned to Ithan.
“The prophecy failed here.” She said solemnly. “Sintar never came to be, and Sirius has fallen beyond our reach.” Ithan didn’t respond, instead focusing on the rune panel he was interacting with.
“It’s ready for us, time to go to our final destination. Hyrule, 2108AD.”
Lia / Desert Province / Day 3
Lia heard Darrel’s concerns and lazily opened an eye. “I’m fine, just resting. I’ll be ready when needed.” She shut her eyes and slumped over again, not asleep but only passingly aware of her surroundings. More rest was needed before she could be of use for the return trip to town.
C: Mirra Lemeris / Desert Province / Day 3
”Sunrise Knight!” Mirra laughed aloud, then stooped low to bow before Darrel. “I am at your service once more, m'lord.”
She rose and smiled contentedly at the sight of her old comrades. She rushed up to Darrel to embrace him in a tight hug, then saw Polaris and Jaden above, and waved up to them.
“Come,” she said, leading Darrel back up the dunes. “Lia has shared her memories with me, and I see clearly your goal. The final ore cannot be far. The Daybreak Sword is at hand!”
At the top of the dunes, Polaris hunched down to pull Darrel up the last few feet of sand, and Jaden likewise reached out to help Mirra. The General smirked under his grizzled scales. “Lemeris, you’re looking well.” She grinned and merely nodded without a word, then looked to Jaden. “It cannot be!” the Chieftain said, shocked. "Kae feared we had lost you to the Sacred Realm for good."
"Yes, I feared myself lost for a time...," Mirra said, her voice trailing off to a whisper, before she locked eyes with each companion in turn. "But the Fates have seen fit to return me hence. I do but pray I am not too late to aid in the Alliance's task."
The five assembled travelers looked out in the same direction over the undulant sands, their robes and garments brushed in the sandstrewn breeze, shoulder to shoulder with Lia seated on the bulbo at their side. The sun now tilted in the crystalline sky, a pale midday moon slung below it, and their shadows began to lengthen at their feet. Roc flew in a wide circle toward the group, and landed on Mirra's shoulder. In the distance, the simmering silhouettes of Gerudo ruins dotted the landscape, from the Arbiter’s Grounds to the Spirit Temple, and still others beyond.
“Lead the way, gentlemen,” she invoked. “Let us make time our ally.”
Polaris Eridanus, Desert, Afternoon of the 3rd
“Lead the way, gentlemen,” she invoked. “Let us make time our ally.”
Polaris snorted. ”I wouldn’t count on her being an ally. Time is the manipulator of man. Still, we’ve a need to press on, and so we shall.”
Stepping to the fore of the group, the air shimmered before him ever so briefly as he tapped into the magic of his Mark, at his back Jaden’s disquiet was palpable. Their destination revealed, Polaris severed the flow of magic, the Mark disappearing an instant before he looked over his shoulder.
”I believe the ore we seek can be located in the old mines. It will be a trek, but no so overlong that we shouldn’t reach them by nightfall.”
Scanning those gathered heroes among whose ranks he found himself, he sighed discontentedly. Perhaps he had been wrong earlier. And yet, that wasn’t a chance he found himself willing to take. A long pair of storm grey knives, each with a viciously curved blade took form in the blink of an eye, one in each hand.
”We should be on our guard.”
With one hooked blade, he motioned them to follow. Without further conversation, he turned and strode purposefully across the dunes twirling the lightning forged blades absentmindedly as the rest of the group fell in step alongside him.
Half of the reddish orange sun still peaked over the horizon as they came to the nearest edge of the ruins. Pausing, the General reminded the company, ”Just on the other side of this forgotten place lies our destination.”
Jaden, Gerudo Desert, Day 3
These sands were full of magicks. Those of his people, and the dead, and of other paradigms. His senses were in overdrive. This may have been one of the reasons among others that he drank so much. Being sober meant he felt all of it, and in many cases, it was distracting. However, he still did not know why he felt his Chieftain's presence so often.
Normally, he'd have plenty to say. A joke to crack or two, so as to lighten the mood. Instead, he focused, observed, and was ready to defend the group should a threat find them.
He kept thinking that it was too easy. Someone or something had to be waiting for them. This desert was notorious for housing colossal beasts, and worms. He could handle the bandits. A day ago, Twili were routed to the last standing, or so he thought. And he'd aided in a massive rescue effort here six months prior.
In the reddened sky, he saw these ruins. Somehow, they had never appeared on any map of this place he'd ever seen. And the cartography units had been from one end of this land to another. Some had even found islands on the sea, and a hidden isolationist kingdom known for having birthed a Hero of Time in a previous era. But never here. This was the kind of place only the Chieftain knew about. But where was the power coming from? Who but the leader of the Sheikah could see Truth among those present? Or among those who were not made known?
He still felt like the group was being followed. But those ruins were breathtaking. Architecture unlike any he'd ever laid eyes upon. If only there were more time to explore.
"What we seek is behind those walls. Stay together. We know not what else inhabits these ancient halls."
Spymaster, if you have guided us here, thank you. I am not worthy to take up your mantle just yet. Help us win this war and craft the history books in Hylia's favor.
Davus, Desert Ruins, Day 3
Davus had stayed as an energy field thinly stretched out, as thin as he could without stretching the limits of his strength. He followed the group from a distance, and though he knew he was mostly undetected, it was likely at least one of them was suspicious of his presence.
For now Lia seemed safe again, but Davus couldn’t leave. The return portal was closed, and at this point he’d be better served waiting for a good chance to reveal his presence and state his good intentions. Though it was laughable to think that anyone who had dealt with him before would trust his word, least of all Lia. So for the moment, he stayed invisible and stayed distant.
Darrel Mytura, Gerudo Desert Ruins, Evening Three
They came upon the ruins that their intelligence reports had earlier indicated they would find just as the sun began to slope slowly through the western sky toward the sandstone hills and cliffs far in the distance. The architecture here was remarkable, and distinctly not Gerudo in origin, unless they had broken from their typical conventions at some point in the past. Just by the way the stone was worn smooth at its edges he could tell that much of what was visible above the ground had many times been buried and unearthed by the sand and the arid desert winds. The broken stonework all about alternated seemingly at random between being pocked or polished by the elements.
Still, as Darrel strode through amongst toppled columns and scattered rubble, he was gripped by a strange feeling in his gut. Something was amiss. Something that had nothing to do with the remnants of the Twili encampment that had not so long ago been erected within these ruins, using the ruins as relief against the harsh desert sandstorms. Here in the desert, where the Gerudo had long dwelt in tune with the spiritual energies in a way no other people could claim... here is powers had always taken a strange turn. His offensive capabilities were no greater, really, than they were elsewhere, but his spiritual perceptions had always been keenest amongst the sands. Whatever he was feeling, he knew it had something to do with this spiritual intuitions.
"What we seek is behind those walls. Stay together. We know not what else inhabits these ancient halls."
"There is little of these walls left standing," he replied in a low voice. "At least here on the surface; who can say what we'll find when we make our way down?"
Jaden gave Darrel a sidelong glance. Something was clearly making the young Sheikah Sentinel uneasy too.
"Come on everyone, let's have a look around and see what we can find."
The group fanned out in every direction, combing through the unearthed ruins in search of whatever awaited them beneath the surface. Whatever this place had been, Darrel mused to himself as he stepped over the broken half-cylinder of a felled stone pillar, it had been massive. It must have been, in some era long past, truly a sight to behold, an oasis of civilization in this desiccated basin.
Rising from the dunes at the far edge of the ruin he could make out a ridgeline of low sandstone cliffs. He pressed ahead, ascending to the crest of one dune by way of a fallen wall of stone, which stuck out from the slope, clearly having been revealed by the sandstorm that had buffeted them upon their arrival through Lia's portal. With firm footing, he perched atop the mound of sand and rock and scanned the base of the cliffs ahead.
Eventually, his gaze alighted on the very thing they were looking for. There, shaded beneath an angular outcrop of stone that served as a natural overhang, he could make out a hole in the smooth face that might have escaped his notice but for the sand-worn timbers forming a frame around it. That was it, the mine shaft they'd been told would be here.
"Oi! It's here!" he called back to the others over his shoulder. "I've found our way in!"
Mirra Lemeris, Desert Province (Ghost Mine), Evening 3
”Let’s go,” Mirra nodded to Darrel. “Roc will stay here and watch the entrance with Lia.”
Mirra rolled her shoulder, and her white gyrfalcon hopped from it to the pommel of Hathor’s saddle, screeching lightly in recognition of Mirra’s command. Lia remained listless and withdrawn on her perch, but she lifted her bound hands slowly to pet Roc’s feathers.
The four turned to go into the hollowed out mountainside, their eyes straining to adjust to the sudden darkness after the harsh desert sun.
“Here, take these,” Polaris called out from the front of the group. He passed along three elongated chunks of Red Ice, warm to the touch and emitting a faint amber glow from within the red crystal. Raising hers up, Mirra saw the rising ceiling of the first chamber of the mine opening up onto a high, rounded cavern that stretched for several yards, at the top of which lay a colony of black Keese.
Their yellow eyes suddenly flashed open and a litany of shrieks filled the wide chamber. The squeaking rodents plunged down towards them in a torrent and they ducked, with only enough time for Polaris to shield them with a crude dome of ice. As they turned in a whirling cloud above them, they noticed the Keese’s fur beginning to glow yellow and spark.
They rolled out as the crackling swarm withdrew and unsheathed their weapons. Darrel swung Morning’s Edge in a wide arc and several fell, while Polaris and Jaden swiped at the air with twin blades in either hand and dead bats piled up around them. Mirra pulled back the string of her bow and unleashed Light Arrows on the colony, felling the last of the Keese down to one. It flew towards Darrel, and he caught it in one hand before it could strike his face, only to be shocked by a bolt of electricity that fired from the monster’s yellow charged fur. He flung it to the ground and stomped on it with the heel of his boot.
“Well, that was unexpected,” Darrel chided, rubbing the inside of his palm and singed fingertips. “I wonder where Keese would find Thunder magic all the way down here…”
At the far end of the chamber, they found two narrow gates leading off in different directions. The light of Polaris’s red shards cast as far down them as they could see, leading off into darkness.
“We should split up to search the area more quickly,” Jaden suggested, beginning to slink off towards the tunnel on the right.
“Nay, we should stay together in case one of us is injured or becomes lost,” Mirra warned. She stood beside Polaris and Darrel and glanced to the Sunrise Knight.
“Jaden is right,” he said. “We must risk it to save more time. Polaris, you go with him.” Darrel gestured down the right path at exchanged looks with Polaris.
“Fine, but be on your guard,” Mirra said, handing Polaris and Jaden each a Fairy in a Bottle.
Mirra and Darrel continued ahead. The dark tunnels only seemed to close in around them, the ceiling growing lower and the walls growing narrower as they proceeded. Shadows seemed to push in around the edges of red light from Polaris’s small shards, as if the very darkness of the mines grow thick as smoke the deeper they went.
At last, they came on a wide, open chamber with a low roof barely above their heads. Their lights exposed the edges of a churning sand pit, and a single overturned boulder a few paces out into the sands. Darrel unwound the faintly glowing chains around his waist and wrists and handed one end to Mirra, then ran ahead through the sucking sands until he reached the boulder’s platform.
“Ha! Easier than I thought,” he laughed, waving Mirra on. She skimmed across the sands briskly but tripped at the far end, her knees suddenly lurching forward into the mirky pit, only for Darrel to stoop down and catch her outreached hand. He pulled her up by the chain linking them and righted her next to him on the stone. Holding their Red Ice shards up again, they saw another stone further out on their path, and could barely discern the glistening outline of a metal arch further off in the gloom.
“After you,” Darrel said, keeping his sense of humor about him in the gathering dark. “Won’t be long now before we’re on the heels of victory.”
No sooner than the confident smirk crossed Darrel’s lips did a trio of dazzling Spume burst from the dark sands in the distance in a flurry of sparks.
“Duck!” he shouted, pulling Mirra downward and sheltering them both with Morning’s Herald, the sacred shield absorbing the electricity. He rolled forward and sprang towards a further stone block, landing lightly and brandishing his chained blade.
Mirra fired a Light Arrow into a second cretin as Darrel dispatched the first. Together, they vanquished the third amphibious vermin with a combined strike, and the room fell dark again.
“Come, before still more awake,” Mirra whispered to Darrel, lifting up her red icicle for the final leap across the sands.
When they reached the flattened platform at the far end of the sand pits, they found a metallic groove carved into the stone leading in a straight line directly into the wall. The rough, sandstone wall of the cavern was framed by a polished arc of metalwork. Darrel approached the wall methodically and ran both hands over the rocky surface.
Mirra knelt down, and touched the cool steel of the railing that ran straight through the floor, following its trail to a point at the bottom of the wall, like a track whose cart would smash right into it. At its terminus, she found a small, locked treasure chest.
“How’s your lockpicking?” Mirra asked Darrel, no key in sight.
He raised one palm and jerked his arm at the shoulder—a small burst of Spirit force fired from his hand and blasted the latch apart.
“Legendary,” he replied.
Mirra walked up to the chest and reached down to pull out a single gray scroll tied with a piece of hemp from inside. She unfurled the scroll, and found a tiered map drawn in smudged and grayish ink on the torn, faded parchment. Where their current tunnel of sandpits terminated, she could barely discern a faded line for a mining cart track that ran through the wall before them.
“How can this be?” Darrel asked aloud, studying the metal arc and its ornamental runes.
“I believe I begin to understand,” Mirra said faintly, standing upright and straining her ears to listen.
In the distance, a rhythmic rumbling suddenly churned up deep within the mines. A steamlike hissing pressed up through the floors, and a great clang and bang rattled dust from the walls.
“As ever, we are at the mercy of Time,” she said, a smirk now gracing her own lips. Darrel quizzed his brow at her, but before he could beg the question a blue ring of light washed across the cavern from behind the wall. It rippled through the sandstone catacombs, and all at once the chamber was transformed into an earthen, fertile tunnelwork that sang with an industrial whistle and drum.
Their crumbling scroll transformed into a clear white grid overlaying a finely detailed schematic of the mining facility on a firm blue parchment. At the top of the parchment, she saw the silvery scrawl of a title for the sprawling complex in Hylian text: the Ghost Mine. Mirra rolled the blueprint back up and fastened it to the quiver over her back.
Before them, the blocked tunnel had open up to reveal a massive central chamber surrounded by a wide wrought bronze catwalk, at the bottom of which stood Jaden and Polaris before a great blackened amethyst statue. Mine carts now whizzed around the catwalk along bronze and steel rails, and the rusted out pipes and panels now hissed and flash with colored lights and steam.
“Hoy, Daybreak!” Mirra called, but the Zora and Sheikah did not turn their heads, seemingly fixated on the gigantic crystal welded to a pedestal before them. In its center, Mirra recognized the Weeping Eye emblematic of the Sheikah tribe.
“What on earth is that thing?” Darrel asked, his mind racing with questions at the sight of the advanced machinery and mechanical wonders they were observing.
“They have been called Timeshift Stones,” Mirra surmised. They were walking down a bronze spiral staircase down to Polaris and Jaden’s level. “At least, I believe as much. I have never seen one up close.”
When they reached their comrades, it was Mirra who had questions now.
“Jaden, Polaris, how did you ignite this beacon? Which one of you summoned the Eye?”
Jaden, Ghost Mine, Evening 3
Normally Jaden wouldn't advocate for splitting up a group, but with the Twili on the march and the undead on their own chaotic warpath, a tactical gamble was worth it. Besides, he was so hypersensitive from consuming a cocktail of stimulants that being around too many people at once would cause him to get careless.
The tunnels had workmanship of a kind Jaden had never seen. While moving at the brisk pace Polaris had set, his low light vision took in all the patterns, cracks, and architectural supports. Natural stone shouldn't do what it was doing here. It gave him ideas for after the war, as the Chieftain had spoken of an expansion of the Redoubt, further underground.
Metal in the cart tracks also appeared to age nicely, and some had broken off. As they approached a section of this track, Jaden noticed a rather odd cleft in between the track and the stone below.
"General, a moment. Something seems off. I'll catch up quick."
Stopping briefly, Jaden was able to manipulate the portion of the track with a small switch that moved its juncture, and found a deep green oxidized metal case with a simple inverted rune on its base, along with a series of four sliding numbered combination locks. It seemed odd, and it gave off an unnatural energy, similar to that of Polaris' essence, but not exactly alike. He didn't say anything, but after putting it in his pack, he saw the General observing him and tapping his foot.
"Now isn't the time to treasure hunt, Jaden. But what you found there, we'll look at that after we get out of here."
Nodding in agreement, Jaden rose to his feet and they kept moving. He lent Polaris some of his enhanced speed to make up for the time. They moved so quickly that triggered traps went off after the pair were well passed. And Polaris artfully dodged Jaden's multiple faceted questions regarding the Chieftain's energy signature he'd felt whilst in the desert. It just didn't make sense, but as the heir, he knew the power behind the ancestral blessing of the First Impa, passed down from Chieftains and Impas across the millennia.
The pair kept going lower into the mine, and it was getting a little harder to see, but before too long, they were at the bottom of a massive chamber, where multiple tracks and trails lay above. But at the center of the room, a metallic glint and a giant gemstone stood. Jaden knew of the history of these stones, but he never thought he'd see one in his lifetime outside of the Redoubt.
"How...none should exist outside Kakariko..."
Jaden felt the energies of Truth surge once more, and the mine came alive, just as the sections of his peoples' inner sanctum would in times of dire need. But he did not trigger the stone.
If the General didn't set it off, who did? But the power was coming from his direction. Was Truth the secret power of the former Scourge of the Hylians? How did he come across this?
Anyone who wielded Truth took the Oath. The tales of Chieftains and Impas who broke said Oath were tragic. What was happening to his sister, that was nothing compared to those who broke it. To defend Hyrule against all its enemies no matter where they are found and to uphold the Crown of Hyrule's Royal Family no matter the sacrifice. Even if it means acting contrary to convention. The Shadow Folk operated outside the lines, and for good reason.
As mine carts and automatons were hard at work bustling about, Jaden's mind was racing faster than it ever had before. Sobriety heightened his function, the stims and essential oils from his tea had kicked into overdrive, and he was taking everything in around him when he heard Mirra's question. Shouting up to her,
"I am only the heir. That is not a power I wield yet. There's no way Polaris could have done it either, he is not Sheikah. Yet it is active. It is good to see you, though!"
Lia, Desert Ruins Lookout Post, Day 3
Lia was still a solid hour from absolute sobriety, though she was more or less back to her normal mental state, exhaustion and grief aside. She now observed her situation, stuck on guard duty to lessen the burden she had made herself into in such a short time.
She loosened and dropped her bindings to the ground, finding them to have been more for her safety during travel than actual restraint. Best to protect the drunks from themselves after all. Lia was contemplating leaving, creating a portal back to assist those headed to Ordon, but she was fairly confident any portal attempts would lead only to disaster. Confident until she felt a surge of magical temporal energy, the kind put out by timestones. Timestones weren’t a common thing in modern Hyrule, but they did still exist, despite what even the oldest of records would have you believe.
Lia had traveled through enough of history to realize where she was. The alcohol had clouded her vision, this was the ancient mining facility. It had just looked like nothing up until now. The next question was also easy to answer, whoever had activated the stone was sheikah in origin or bestowed their power in some way, so likely Polaris or Jaden.
Lia’s own father Tillorn had been sheikah, and one of the gifts he had passed on to Lia and Ithan before his death was the ability to interact with timestones. It had been one of the early drivers of what became a journey through time for both of them. The journey that ended up killing her brother, thanks to a sickness they both developed from time travel. Something that seemed to be kept in check by active time stones. The end result was that the moment the time stone became active, Lia went from half awake and hungover to alert and brimming with energy.
“I think it’s time we went and rejoined your friend Mirra and the rest.” Lia said to her guard companions.
Polaris Eridanus, Ghost Mine, Evening of the 3rd
As he and Jaden crept ever deeper into the ruined mine, the light provided by his red ice torches began to overpower and finally overcome the scant ambient light around them so that the corridors they traveled were cast with an eery crimson glow. All the while they walked, Polaris heard, more like felt, if he were being truthful a familiar hum in the back of his mind.
He had been here before, in another time. Another age. He’d withheld that information from his companions, they needn’t know. And yet, the time would soon come where he would have to provide answers. A truth, perhaps, but not the truth, would have to suffice. The risk involved with divulging all was too great. If he were to stand for Order, he would have to keep this and many other secrets to himself. Bile rose up in his throat when he thought about what was to come after this war. What he KNEW was coming. And what he knew he could not stop, lest he set in motion a cataclysmic chain reaction that would alter the entire timeline of land in ways he could not fathom.
He choked down the bile and pushed past Jaden into the vast circular chamber that spread out in the darkness around them. Cursing and making like he was brushing a cobweb from his face, Polaris passed a hand in front of his face awakening the Chieftains Mark. Surveying the ancient chamber, his shoulders sagged. He hadn’t been mistaken, a huge dormant Timestone rested on a pedestal before them.
”I had hoped to forestall this a bit longer…”
He was still muttering to himself when Jaden drew abreast of him. All of his focus was directed to the stone before him. Peering deep inside it, he found the nexus of its power and brushed away the fetters that held it and the rest of the mine inactive. He knew the Sentinel had spoken as the mine jumped to life, but he was one with the buzzing of the stone and the machinery it commanded. He could feel the tendrils of its power spreading out all across the mine, if he were given time to focus he could probably single out each and every one and their destination. Perhaps that would expedite their journey.
“Jaden, Polaris, how did you ignite this beacon? Which one of you summoned the Eye?”
The arrival of the others broke his concentration and slowly, face impassive, he turned to greet them.
"I am only the heir. That is not a power I wield yet. There's no way Polaris could have done it either, he is not Sheikah. Yet it is active. It is good to see you, though!"
”That… is not, entirely true Jaden.”
The seasoned Sheikah wheeled to face him with a look of bewilderment.
Polaris calmly raised a hand to forestall whatever his old protege was about to say.
”Peace Sentinel. Peace.”
Polaris thought that perhaps he had injured the man's pride with his admonition, but there was nothing to be done for it right now.
”I think I have previously stated, I have some experience with Timestones and Time in general. As you’ll recall, I was drawn into the past, and what was a thousand years or more for me was mere months for those gathered here.”
From the energies coursing out through the facility, Polaris could feel that, her faulties seemingly regained, Lia was making her way towards them. As the three who were before him eyed him warily, the General pressed on with his tale, once more reminding himself to gloss over the more… confusing, details of his tale.
”There will be no record of what I am about to tell you, so your histories will be useless to you in this friend.”
Polaris placed a hand gently on the shoulder of the young Bryseis and peered into his eyes, before closing his own and inwardly cursing at the hell he now knew he would have no choice but to let his friend endure. At least there was a happy ending to that horror story.
”When I unwittingly first interacted with a Timestone deep within another ancient vault, the Hyrule I ended up in was on the brink of war. It was viewed as a zero sum game to most in the end, but it wasn’t a complete loss…” Taking a deep breath, he blew it out slowly and removed his hand from Jaden's shoulder and took a step back, passing a hand over his face to fully reveal the Chieftains Mark to all.
The looks of shock and intrigue that crossed over the faces before him was expected and still it left him speechless for a brief moment.
”At the conclusion of that conflict, I embarked on a mission of utmost importance. He who was to become chieftain was among those who traveled with me. As a failsafe in case of his death, this chieftain Marked me as his equal. We walked several of the circles of some hell, fighting off demons and worse until finally we achieved our task.”
With a flick of his wrist Polaris extinguished the red ice torches that his companions still bore, as the last traces of them swirled into mist, he finished his tale.
”We were successful in our mission. And we were trapped. Through magicks I often avoid, I was able to transport my companions out of Perdition and back to their rightful homes. But as with all blood rites, there had to be an anchor for the spell. A sacrifice of sorts. So it was that I heeded Perditions Call and remained among the undead. Without this Mark, I never would have escaped that damnation and I doubt I would have survived the transformation The Wanderer worked in me hours ago. I have not enjoyed deceiving you all, but it was for the greater good. Time however, has forced my hand.”
Once more passing a hand before his face, he nodded. ”Now, as I’m sure there are questions, I’ll have them while we wait for Lady Chiaria.”
Lia, Ancient Mining Facility, Night 3
Though she had spoken to them as if they were joining her, Lia opted to leave Roc and Hathor at the entrance to the mining facility. They seemed capable enough to handle guard duty on their own, and neither one appeared very well suited to underground passages anyway. She only traveled a few dozen feet into the interior of the mine before halting, feeling a subtle static buzz course through her whole body. She rushed back outside and looked to the sky. Stormclouds. A very rare sight for the desert.
She scanned the area for the familiar life sign she expected to find. Almost instantly she sensed him, but it felt different, hazy and distorted.
“Davus…” Lia muttered. She was feeling at peak power levels but a battle with Davus would surely drag her back down. It was inconvenient and annoying. The clouds slowly coalesced, taking on a humanoid shape as Davus took on physical form. Something he didn’t always have a choice about. At various points in his existence he’d swapped between being able to freely dematerialize into energy, and being locked into a physical body. It seemed at the moment it was the former.
“Today is not the day you think it will be.” He said, notably lacking his normal smugness. He sounded tired, different in a very unsettling but safe way.
“I-” Lia wanted to reply, ask questions, find out what was different before things turned for the worse. But as her life typically stipulated, interruption by the fantastic was her destiny instead. A tear in the air to her left opened, a portal. And out stepped a total stranger. A woman, red haired, fierce looking but also bearing the eyes of someone who hadn’t truly slept in months. Lia felt a familiarity in her but no personal connections came to mind immediately.
Davus seemed equally perplexed by the sudden intrusion on their conversation. But unlike Lia, he clearly recognized the individual instantly. In the most measured tone Lia had ever heard him use, Davus addressed the newcomer.
“Severa. Did your father send you?” Her name was Severa then. Lia knew that name.
“No.” She replied flatly. “She did.” Severa pointed at Lia. Lia’s first instinct was that Severa was mistaken, but within seconds she replaced that with the obvious conclusion - time travel. Or Severa was potentially lying. Lia did a quick scan to check, and was met with the fury of Severa’s eyes. She sensed the scan instantly, and though she didn’t stop it, Lia quickly ceased from the glare alone.
“Well he did send me.” Davus said. “And before we start throwing punches, let me be the first to say that I’m not here to fight. Not here to fight you two at least. You both have plenty of reason to want to fight me of course, but-” Davus was cut off when Severa punched him in the face. He could have dematerialized to stop the blow, but Lia could see that even he knew he deserved it.
“You used me like a hiding place.” Severa said, spitting at the ground by his feet. She referred to back during the Epoch Wars, when Davus had hid his spirit very near Severa, within the horse she used to travel. She had later learned that for a brief time Davus had also harbored his soul inside her body, secretly. Something he had also done with Polaris. He got around.
Lia’s patience was great, but knowing that her allies could very well need her, she wished for events to explain themselves at a faster clip.
“Both of you explain yourselves. Severa, I do not know you. Davus, I do not trust you. Speak.” Lia crossed her arms and waited. Severa went first.
“You already scanned my mind, you know everything you need to know.” Severa said. It was true, Lia had already seen enough to know roughly what Severa had been through, but was hoping to hear it from her instead of just stealing the information. Nonetheless, she nodded, sufficiently satisfied, and turned her attention to Davus.
“Sirius sent me, to help.” Now that was a statement Lia could laugh at, and did. Davus frowned, looking more like a man angry that his favorite clothes were dirty rather than looking like the killer he was. She scanned him, and was shocked to discover the truth was as he said. But she didn’t trust Sirius either, believing him to be indirectly responsible for Ithan’s death.
“I don’t want your help.” Lia said. She was prepared to ditch them both, when the universe again decided to throw another set of ridiculous events at her. The shimmering image of Ithan, of all people, appeared between the three of them. To his left and right were the images of two Zoras, Jeskai and Efran. Oh come on. Lia thought. She didn’t feel ready for this, but had to be. The images only lasted a few seconds, long enough for Lia to look upon her dead brother's face as a telepathic message entered her mind. One insisting that Davus was telling the truth, and to trust him. Severa likewise seemed to have softened her stance, giving Lia the impression that she’d received the same message.
“This is all happening very quickly.” Severa said. “But I can see that perhaps you two need to discuss some things. Lia you don’t know me yet, but I assure you that I’m here because of you.” Severa looked back and forth between Davus and Lia. “They won’t trust you though, Davus. There’s no time to safely convince them. And they don’t know me, I would only be a hindrance.” Lia raised her eyebrows at Severa’s words.
“How do you know of my allies?” She asked. Severa smiled in response.
“You told me all I need to know.” Lia sighed at Severa’s words, growing weary of events that happened out of order. But such was the life of an involuntary time traveler. Severa continued speaking. “We can speak further in time, but for now, you should seek out your allies. I will be there to assist when necessary.” She narrowed her eyes and looked to Davus. “You also should stay behind for now. No amount of explanation will ease them of your presence.”
“Yes, so you’ve said.” Davus said dryly. “Very well.” He vanished into a shower of sparks, his voice echoing on the sandy winds. “I’ll be here when I’m needed.”
“What is the point of all this?” Lia asked Severa.
“To save the world, of course.” Severa replied. Lia smiled a little and turned to enter the mine once more. She looked back at Severa one more time, wondering how her life had gone from living in a secluded psychic village to traveling through time making friends with enemies and strangers. She missed the old days.
Davus Fulmen, The Third Night, Desert Mining Facility Exterior
Severa was left alone with Davus. He was incorporeal, but his presence hung heavy in the air, somewhat literally as clouds still lingered low in the sky. He was plotting his next words carefully, not wanting to be the one who sparked Severa’s ire.
He had only one card to play for getting Severa on his side. But it could break her, and she was still needed, that much he was certain of. He could possess her again, take control, though the concern that she would overpower him in turn lingered. He’d give control back of course, but he was concerned Lia and the others might need help and they wouldn’t get it if Davus was busy fighting Severa.
Severa it seemed was also plotting, but nothing so devious.
“You never acknowledged what I said. Do you remember stalking me, trying to control me?” Severa asked. Davus answered quietly.
“Yes.” Davus anticipated her next question. “I was reborn within the mind of Polaris after you all defeated me. It has been thousands of years and I am....changed. Not willingly but I do not seek to revert the changes either.” Severa didn’t even blink at the answer. Completely normal, practically mundane, for her.
“You have no idea of your true fate.” Severa said. Davus was curious now. His fate was the only question on his mind these days. “I’ve seen a hundred versions of you, and countless more exist. It may not surprise you to learn that in most realities, you’re some variant of the same bloodthirsty killer.” Davus felt uncharacteristically compelled to verbally defend himself.
“I was never bloodthirsty. I was a weapon.”
“Well.” Severa replied. “Most that you kill would be just fine with the word bloodthirsty. And as I was saying, there has been one special version of you. One that seems to have fallen between worlds, forgotten, known as Davie. I’ve never found a version of him alive. He was a watcher, a forgotten spectre guiding travelers like me back to safety.” Her voice grew tense and frustrated. “What I’m saying is that I cannot ever trust you, but I do believe you are different than you were. I think the only person who never truly changes is my father.” She paused to find the words. Her gaze roamed the landscape, as she tried to look away from Davus while speaking, even though he wasn’t even in front of her. “I guess in some twisted way, we are seeking the same short term goal of keeping these people alive. The world wasn’t meant to exist under Twili rule. This one wasn’t.”
“You sound like you are proposing an alliance. I’m shocked.” Davus was still thrown off by his own flippant remarks. Usually his sarcasm was more murderous in origin.
“But the thing is, I can sway them to trust me, or at least ally with me. Nobody in that group is going to give you even a single chance. You will be chased off, or imprisoned, or killed if they can manage it. You’re no Hothnight the Hated, but nonetheless the hatred you have generated is enough to fill a hundred realities.” Severa cleared her throat, suddenly looking very disgusted with herself. “So then I will have to uh...wield you.” Davus took humanoid form on instinct, ready to argue face to face. It was a mistake he should have been ready to avoid. Instantly Severa grabbed his arm with both hands, and he realized she was using the same technology Sirius had earlier. His physical form was being reconstituted into a weapon against his will. He didn’t struggle though, he at least wouldn’t make that mistake. After all, he did refer to himself as a weapon, it was only fitting he supposed.
“I can’t let you out of my sight, and I can’t let you into theirs. This will have to do for now.” Severa looked at the staff with disgust and entered the mine. “And don’t talk. Inanimate objects talking isn’t right.”
The Metal Monstrosity
Darrel Mytura, Ghost Mine, Evening Three
Darrel, already in awe of the transformation he saw in the ruin around them, was equally struck by the Red Ice General's tale. To have braved damnation itself, and dwelt within the Dusk Warp for aeons... It was a true wonder indeed, and the change he'd begun to perceive in the warrior's spiritual aura began to make sense. The White Wanderer had driven out the dusk, but it had left Polaris forever changed nonetheless, as changed as was the chamber in which they stood.
"Now, as I’m sure there are questions, I’ll have them while we wait for Lady Chiaria."
The whistle of releasing steam-valves and the blip and flash of electrical wonders of the ancient world, the rumbling roll of mine-carts down the tracks atop the spiraling brass catwalks was deafening in the pregnant silence that followed.
"I have only one question, friend," Darrel replied then. Polaris cocked one scaly brow in his direction.
"How tight do you suppose Jaden's cheeks are right now, knowing that you earned the Chieftain's Mark before he did?"
He cast a quick look at Jaden and winked.
Mirra cleared her throat, drawing three sets of eyes in her direction.
"Perhaps, friends, we should find this mineral you've come seeking?"
Darrel was already on to that task. He knew everything that he needed to know of Polaris and his ordeals. If the Red Ice General deigned to share more then he would lend a sympathetic ear, but it was not in him just now to press. Instead he stepped away from the stone, leaving Jaden to ask what questions he may of the Zora warrior, for it was he who would be most affected by the answers. Instead he began examining the chamber in which they'd found themselves. Cavernous and broad, lit by the many instruments and the flickering mechanical lights, it had come alive since the stone had been activated. The hiss and churn of pistons became a persistent din, a white noise just at the edge of hearing. The catwalk tracks on which the empty mine carts whizzed by were held aloft by metalwork columns and buttresses.
He had taken to examining the craftsmanship of one such brass beam, when something drew his attention to the next in the line. What it was that had grabbed his attention he couldn't even say at first, simply a feeling, a sensation that ensnared his focus. The next support beam in the line, several paces off, jutted up out of a mound of sand piled higher than he was tall. He drew nearer, straining his senses, feeling the prickle in his mind. The sand gave way beneath his boots as he began to climb up the outer edges of the pile.
It was odd, he found himself thinking. It looked as though it had been blow intentionally up against that wall, so deliberate was the placement. He didn't remember seeing a wall of sand before, though in truth he may not have been looking.
He was about to turn and move on until he felt the sand shift subtly beneath his feet. He took a step back when he heard it. A hiss and clack.
The wall of sand exploded outward and something hard, something metallic, struck his shield and hurled him from his feet. He landed several paces away on his back, the impact driving the breath from his lungs.
The haze of dust and sand began to settle and through it he could make out a single enormous, alloyed claw grasping open and closed to the sound of hissing pistons. That single claw was as large as he was, and as he watched from his back it reared up and drove the sharpened tips into the stonework floor.
"Everyone! Swords!" He choked out to the rest as he began to gulp air back into his lungs.
The arm attached to that enormous metal claw began to work, pulling at the ground. Still the sand continued to fall, until the air was clear enough for Darrel to see that the arm and the claw were attached to something enormous, something with gleaming blue eyes flashing like lightning from a hole that had been hidden beneath the sand. Rolling to one side, he pushed himself up to one knee and peered closer. With the mound of sand no longer obscuring his vision, he could see that the outer edge of the Timeshift Stone's area of effect stretched to several paces beyond the inner wall of the chamber in which they found themselves. When it had been activated, a segment of whatever creature he was looking at had fallen within its border, awakening a piece of the enormous mechanical monster much as the stone had awoken the rest of the facility.
He backed away, staring through into the dark through the revealed hole. The arm kept working, clawing at the stone, tearing deep as it groped for purchase and worked itself free.
"This must be some kind of ancient guardian for this facility!" he called to the rest, rising back to both feet and drawing Morning's Edge free. The burst of bright orange as it came free illuminated deeper into the darkness beyond the hole just in time to see the thing rear back, shuddering wildly.
A second claw burst through the stone, widening the hole, and drove into the stone floor. One more wrenching pull was all it took, and the thing came free all at once, tumbling wildly into the broad inner chamber in a shower of sand and stone chips, the rusted out parts of its massive body becoming sleek, polished metal as it rolled wildly. A mess of twisting metal limbs clutching at nothing, it gradually righted itself and rose high on six pointed legs, leveling at him and that pair of razor-sharp pincers as a tail curled up from behind, barbed and bladed in brass, emanating sparks of electricity blue as its many eyes.
He had but a moment to look back through the hole through which it had come, and beyond he thought he could just barely make out the shape of something wide and rounded. Something with the glint of brass.
He had no time to speculate further as the tail lashed down at him from above, driving its bladed point into the stone and loosing coruscating bolts of lightning in every direction, one of which struck the face of his shield and sent him careening backwards into his allies.
Mirra Lemeris, Ghost Mine, Night 3
Mirra rolled out of the way as Darrel careened towards them and landed on her knee. She readied a radiant Light Arrow at her bow, and let fly a streak of white magic at the arachnid mech that had attacked them. It slipped past the machine’s claws to pierce one of its eyes, and it seemed stunned for a moment as a cloud of steam burst from its hoists and pistons, obscuring it from view.
Mirra rose from her kneeling position and scooted across the sandstone tile to reach Darrel’s side. With her bow slung along her waist, she pressed one palm against the stooping swordsman’s back, and poured healing energy into his spine and muscles. Darrel gasped at the sudden rush of vigor.
“You take the tail, I’ll handle the claws,” he shouted over the rush of iron and steam. The Sunrise Knight gripped his blade and shield anew and charged back into the whirl of sand and steam.
“Allies, if you have some secret knowledge of these Timeshift Stones, now is the time to use it,” she called across the chamber to Jaden and Polaris, still gathered by the towering gem. This scorpion had been conjured by its chronomancy—if Sheikah magic could disable it, the demon may subside once more.
Mirra sprang to her feet and jumped far into the air, bounding with an unnatural buoyancy to land along the catwalks. She nocked an arrow once more, and fired at the Moldarach’s whipping tail.
Her Light Arrow connected, and a shower of sparks burst across the high ceiling of the chamber, revealing a vaulted dome above them with spiraling rings of tracks. Carts rolled along the edge of the vault by sheer magnetism, shimmering chunks of Timeshift ore clinging to their bins.
“Mytura, bring the thing back this way!”
Darrel looked back over his shoulder and nodded at Mirra, then flashed his sword wide in the air to send a scythe of Spirit slashing through the creature’s claws.
He began to step back slowly, swinging his blade to and fro to beat back the monster. He ducked and parried as if four swords swiped at him from the upper and lower pincers of either limb. Finally, his back was against the wall, and as his heel hit the brick corner, Mirra let fly her arrow.
A Light Arrow pierced the raw Timeshift ore packed into a mining cart high above their heads, and fragments of the time-bending crystal rained down in rapid shards. Blue bolts crashed into the Moldarach’s bronze exoskeleton, and at last its left talon clanged to the earth. While its felled claw remained polished bronze, half the beast’s body now turned suddenly to rust.
The scorpion stumbled, until the rusted line of mechanical legs on its side clattered back to life, sputtering and choking on steam and electric sparks caught in its rusted plating, and it resumed its attack in a newfound rage.
“If we can rust the rear, we can ruin the rest,” Darrel quipped. He looked up at Mirra from the shifting sands along the floor. “Behind you, Lemeris!”
To one side, the dismembered claw managed to right itself, and sprang sparking legs of its own from the holes at its steamlaced joints. The lumbering claw leapt to the ceiling and raced along the spiraling tracks, bearing down on Mirra as its one-armed host below rounded once more on Darrel. He sliced his sword through the air three times in quick succession, and another Spirit wave crashed against the scorpion’s three rusted legs.
“Allies, make haste!” Mirra shouted from the scaffold toward Polaris and Jaden, unsheathing her shortsword to stab the lunging claw at close range.
Jaden, Ghost Mine, Night 3
He was almost speechless upon hearing what had happened to Polaris. Whoever the heir was in the era that the Red Ice General had been taken to must have been in an extremely bad spot if he had to venture through Perdition. Heeding his friend's warning not to dwell too deeply on history for this matter, Jaden resolved to ask questions later, and also realized that in order to accept the Chieftain's Mark, then the Oath would have been taken as well. One that cements loyalty to the Crown and Shadow Folk among all other. One that would also supersede any Zora interests. There was no doubt in this, but Jaden also had to respect any decision Polaris were to make as though he were Chieftain. It made things a little awkward.
"I can't even begin to imagine how awful it would be to spend 1000 years or more in a realm of damnation. Whoever this heir was, you must have respected him deeply to make such a sacrifice. I will have more questions later, as this is more than intriguing."
Sobriety was becoming more of a struggle with the jokes being cracked. Jaden didn't laugh things off nearly as easily as he used to. Taking a quick swig of tea from his canteen, he did what he could to stave off withdrawal from the booze. Trading one master for another though, was that really sobriety?
Those thoughts and what not would be short lived. As Jaden expressed feigned humor at Darrel's remarks, a guardian came to life before the group. Darrel and Mirra were able to contain it as Jaden readied an attack strategy. His mind worked quickly to avoid causing further harm, but he also knew that he couldn't do anything with that timeshift stone just yet.
Suddenly, he remembered the coin that Senshi had given him. He'd tucked it into one of his hidden armor compartments, and got an idea. It was out of his element, but the more things in melee range of the Moldarach would cause more problems.
"Polaris, if what I'm about to do doesn't work, that time shift stone may give us another shot at this. Hold my beer."
The Red Ice General was thrown off by this statement at first, but he remembered what Jaden meant when he said this. He was going to do something that Polaris could work with him on that didn't require much thought.
Running the coin along Starcaller's flat, an electric current raced up and down the blade before gaining a charge.
"Darrel, heads' up!"
He could feel the storm's power building within him, but he didn't want to dwell on it too long. There was an active danger before them all. Coating his off-hand in Magic Powder, he transferred the blade to it, but that ended up causing a more dangerous reaction for him. The tattoo pattern on his right arm started to illuminate; namely the Ancient Wizard, the Mesmer. Light pink auras started to envelop the Sentinel, along with arcs of magical energy, and all of his allies felt their magical abilities receive a significant boost.
A moment later, the light faded, and Jaden appeared as a Celestial Aspect with flowing robes and a shrouded hood. Constellations shimmered throughout, along with a Weeping Eye on his chest. Starcaller had morphed into a wizard's staff. Echoes of uncertainty kept flying out of his mouth, as well as a few profanities.
Leveling the staff at Moldarach, arcs of Lunar Lightning began to fly out, but the first few missed. Once he was able to steady it, he used both hands to fire a very unstable wave of the stuff. It chained across multiple surfaces, but reformed and connected center mass, spreading the blast all throughout. It barely missed Darrel, and some of the blast flew up near where Mirra was. It was wild magic, and Jaden couldn't control it. The Aspect must have taken over to protect him and everyone else...
Polaris saw these blasts coming, and he figured out a way to encourage the corrosive processes. As Jaden was casting offensive magic for the first time, he laced Red Ice shrapnel into these arcs, as jagged as he could get it.
The Moldarach was fixed to the ground at this point, feeling the effects of Jaden's initial blasts. The Sentinel decided it was time for another salvo, and started sending ball lightning its way. Some of the blasts were deflected back by its tail, which Jaden counter-reflected with his staff and had to keep sending back, as the tail was still able to swing. He was keeping that limb occupied.
"More dismemberment, divide and conquer!"
Jaden's voice echoed with ancient wispy undertones as he kept up the ranged assault.
Polaris Eridanus, Ghost Mine, Night of the 3rd
"Whoever this heir was, you must have respected him deeply to make such a sacrifice..."
With a twinkle in his eye, [color=royalblue”If you only knew.”[/color]
Jaden had already moved to join the fight, summoning the aspect of a large spectral wizard. Joining him, Polaris circled and gave the monstrosity a wide berth, as he moved he began to infuse bits of his own magic into Jaden’s attacks adding jagged shards of red ice to the blasts as shrapnel.
The beast had slowed somewhat from the combined onslaught of all those gathered, its attacks were more infrequent, but perhaps even deadlier because of that. Drawing Winters Tide, Polaris took a step toward the beast and stopped in his tracks as a glint of bronze caught his eye. Turning, he found himself looking into the hollow from which the guardian came. There, jutting out at an odd angle from the wall was a chunk of the ore they sought.
With a quick glance back towards the others he ducked away and inside the hole in the wall.
Pressing one foot to the wall beside the stone, Polaris grasped the ore with both hands and heaved with every ounce of his being. The blasted rock didn't budge. Inspecting the thing from every angle imaginable he pulled, kicked and cursed all to no avail. The damned thing was rooted firmly. Held in place by time and...
Focusing he sent out tendrils towards the large timestone back in the chamber beyond, located it and cut power to the thing.
When next he tried the ore, he easily extricated it. Only, when he turned to leave he found the hole through which he had entered clogged up with the wreckage of the Moldarach. Sighing, he reactivated the stone only to have the piece of ore disappear from his hands and reappear back in the wall.
"Damnit. This is a waste of time!"
Winters Tide took form in his hands once more and in a blur he had swung the blade and severed the hunk of ore from the wall. Satisfied he stepped back into the central chamber and lifted the stone aloft.
"I have what we came for, it's time we leave."
Lia, Ancient Mining Facility, Night 3
Lia reached her allies just in time to witness Polaris carve the ore out of the wall. However, his previous act of activating the time stone meant that Moldarach was active and thrashing around.
(“Everyone! Focus on my thoughts! Do not let your mind wander from this message! I am absorbing the time energy and will be able to teleport us out shortly!”) Lia broadcast the telepathic command to only those in the Moldarach chamber, unable to reach Severa. She didn’t want to leave that woman behind - she seemed important, but there was no choice. Time was, relatively speaking, in short supply. She focused her mind for a longer range command, but kept it simple to ensure it didn’t degrade. It was unusual, the time field seemed to be inhibiting telepathic communication, but not transfer of energy - teleporting.
(“Severa, I will come back, I promise.”)
Lia’s body was resonating with the time energy, taking her already focused mind to the maximum possible heights of her own mental strength. As she focused, she could see Darrel, Jaden, Mirra, and Polaris all responding to her telepathy. Streams of telekinetic and telepathic waves were binding them together, though it was unlikely anyone but Lia was perceiving the streams. She had only seconds, as Moldarach seemed to be rearing up to attack, and would likely break the stream.
Lia sensed a single focused image forming between the team. Everyone had their destination clearly in mind. With enough certainty and power at hand, she mentally wound everyone even tighter, and unleashed the time energy all around them, converting it to raw telekinetic energy that would teleport them where they needed to go.
Just as Moldarach brought its body crashing down towards Lia, the entire group blinked out of the mine, bringing them all briefly to its entrance, where she rapidly tried to scan for Severa. Lia was unable to find her, but did get the signatures of Hathor and Roc. Confident she had them secure with the rest of the group, Lia teleported again, headed towards their final destination.
Severa & Davus, Ancient Mining Facility, Night 3
Severa felt a creeping sensation up her neck, the kind she only got when a plan had gone wrong. Lia wasn’t here anymore, none of them were. Their battle with whatever monster lay in this place had carried through the halls, but then had gone abruptly silent, leaving only a scraping metal sound in the distance.
Severa rounded a corner and peeked into the room where the fight had been taking place to see the all too familiar dome of time stone energy, as a metal monstrosity lumbered about. Moldarach.
(“We can't defeat this thing alone.”) Davus communicated telepathically from his current form, the jagged glass staff Severa now held. She didn’t bother replying to him, instead walking calmly into the room. Davus knew she had gained powers he hadn’t yet seen, but it seemed needlessly foolish to approach the creature. (“I see you have the confidence of your father. Do you also have the resources?”)
Severa shouted incoherently, mostly just noises. It wasn’t at Davus, but instead directed to the creature. She was a madwoman, intent on proving she could do as she pleased. Davus would need to give up this mission, escape when he could. Start over again. But for now he was helpless to resist as Severa rushed towards the monster. But to his surprise, she veered off sharply, narrowly avoiding Moldarach as it tried to turn too quickly and crashed into the ground. It was still weakened from its last fight.
(“Are you going to tell me the plan?”) Davus futilely continued to try and communicate with Severa, growing frustrated with his lack of autonomy. Given that he had no eyes of his own at the moment, he perceived the world through Severa’s eyes. He hadn’t given it much thought before, but realized now that he wasn’t just seeing through her eyes. Davus had a much stronger link to her mind, more than just telepathy. It was because of how she was controlling him, linking their minds and overpowering his through sheer force. It left him without influence, but not without perception.
Moldarach’s most recent crash to the ground had broken up a new passage into the timestone chamber, one that Severa immediately took advantage. She rushed into the timestone chamber, continued to ignore Davus’ attempts to speak with her, and slammed the staff onto the top of the timestone, holding it in place at the point of contact. She moved her hands down to where the two objects met, activating her solluna gauntlets ability to transfer magic energy between objects.
(“What are you doing to me?!”) Davus was overwhelmed by what he was experiencing. Severa was trying to erase him from existence, alter the timeline! He could feel the timestone energy being perverted by the technology she wore, technology made by Sirius. (“You must stop!”) with Davus latest protest, Severa finally reacted.
“Now.” She said calmly. “You see the universe for what it is.” The entire room fell away, the air itself shattering like glass around them, in its place a grassy field and clear sunny skies. But Davus could tell they hadn’t physically left the mine, but they had moved...somewhere. Severa continued to offer explanation, and Davus felt the sensation of being erased from history fade. He had been premature in his concerns.
Davus still saw the grass field, but simultaneously could see the Mine and Moldarach as if overlaid on the field but faded out like a ghost. The image of the Mine seemed to be flickering, and with each flicker the set pieces would change. The mine faded away and Davus was left just on the grassy field again, but only for a moment as a new image formed on the hill. One that was had to comprehend. He was seeing some kind of map, but most of the details were impossible to bring into focus. It wasn’t just the image of a flat scroll, but rather the map coordinates were spidering their way through the air itself, moving in all directions. The space around Davus contracted and then shattered, and suddenly he was in physical form, facing Severa. There was nothing around them. Nothing. Emptiness. Severa began speaking.
“We are in-between moments in time. We have not left the Moldarach chamber or the timestone chamber. We have as much time as we need here, in a manner of speaking. So settle in, this is going to take some explaining.”
Severa & Davus, Between Moments, Night 3
Davus felt it was odd to hold a conversation with Severa while he was in a non organic form, specifically as a weapon being wielded by her. After all, she had told him not to talk. Severa seemed to have like-minded thoughts, as Davus felt the sensation of a transformation being invoked. It was once a painful experience, but the pain of transforming was so familiar, that he Davus had no external reaction to it. It was also a quick process, being over in less than a minute, leaving him standing before Severa. For a fleeting moment he considered getting in a cheap shot and running, but standing between moments in time left no real options of escape.
Severa seemed to sense the entire internal exchange Davus was having, but didn’t directly acknowledge it. In truth she hadn’t severed the mental link with Davus, but it had become weak enough that he would not realize it was still active. She could sense his basic thoughts and emotions, but not much beyond that surface level material.
“My father left me a gift of personality, Davus. I need to explain things to people, the way that you need - needed, to kill. I can suppress it, and because I often hate people, I do just that. But some knowledge has to be shared or it becomes poisonous to the mind. And since my future seems to be shared with yours more frequently than I’d like, it’s time I made sure you know what you need to know.”
Davus blinked slowly in response while saying nothing. If there was one thing that both Severa and Sirius could induce in others without fail, it would have to have be confusion. They made sense while simultaneously not making any sense at all, and felt informative but typically left you with more questions than answers. It could often be addictively frustrating to even interact with them. It was easier for Davus when he could just give in to the compulsion to fight in order to escape something annoying. Severa continued speaking.
“This world’s timeline is stronger than most. We are in what is considered by most to be a core reality. Think of our universe like a book made of impervious material. You can turn the pages, read backwards or forwards, but any attempts to change the pages will fail - mostly. As it happens, only some of the pages are written, and the rest are nothing but ideas. Most believers would tell you that these future pages are words not yet spoken by the goddesses. And so when we glimpse too far into the future, we see only what could be, not what is. And as participants in this book, we are not meant to see it as a whole. The effects on those that attempt to do so would be unpredictable.”
There was no response to be had to Severa’s education on time. Davus stayed silent while she gathered her thoughts for further explanation.
“Lia and Ithan somehow broke beyond the barrier of the absolute. They did not stray from this reality, but went past the point of certainty. They visited a future that is not set in stone. It is possible for visitors from possible futures to come to us, but far less typical that we should visit our own uncertain futures. In most cases, attempts to change history either fail, create a parallel reality, or in the most extreme circumstances, destroy the universe in question. Ithan became extremely sick when he and Lia visited the uncertain future, and when my father - as Morton - killed him, he was really only doing him a favor. He was doomed to die within hours either way. His body couldn’t handle the stress of briefly existing in an uncertain state.”
“We saw his spirit.” Davus finally interjected. “He obviously wasn’t erased from reality, and the universe wasn’t destroyed. Explain that.” Davus felt unease. While they were outside time, flickers of the ancient mining facility filled the air around them. He didn’t feel like the two of them had as much time as Severa claimed. Nonetheless, he had no choice but to listen and wait for her to get them out of this situation.
“Ithan stabilized in death, such that his spirit was able to pass on to - to wherever it is now. He also empowered Lia so that she should potentially stabilize in time without dying. But I’m fairly certain that her exposure to this time stone undid that, and she has hours at most before death. She probably knows this too. But she needs someone else there to help her transition to the next life. She unwittingly was the force that helped Ithan, but if we aren’t there for her, she won't make it to the other side.”
“And that’s our responsibility now?” Davus asked.
“If you were willing to follow her here as a guardian, on command from my father, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t be willing to help her pass on.” Severa replied, and Davus stayed silent, but it was the type of silence that spoke for itself. Severa was right, he had no reason to change his course now. Lia needed to be saved, he knew in his gut that she and Ithan weren’t done helping the world yet.
“I’m still not sure I understand - we can more easily go back in time than forward?” Davus asked.
“It’s complicated. We all have a past, but we don’t all have a future. That’s the simplest way I can put it. Sometimes the rules don’t apply, sometimes they do. Or more accurately, the rules always apply and we just don’t understand the rules. Time isn’t a river flowing in one direction, it’s a prism we see the world through, and we can only focus on one point of light at a time.”
Davus put a hand up. “I’m not feeling right, Severa. This is all very fascinating, but I think we’ve been here too long. How do you plan to get us out?”
“There is a place that is always in-between moments of time. It’s been here forever. It transcends reality and thought.”
“Where-” Davus stopped his question at the first word. As soon as Severa began speaking of this forever-place, a temple was mere yards from them. It seemed like it had been there the whole time and he just hadn’t been able to see it. He was uncomfortable, like the temple itself was watching him. Davus very much wanted to leave and get as far from it as he could.
“Let’s talk to Davie before we go.” Severa said, walking towards and up the steps of the temple. “He’s the only way we can leave with our sanity intact.”