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Section Summaries

Tales From the Fallen

The following is an excerpt from the war journal of a soldier who served during the Twili Invasion of Hyrule in AD-2107. While it has not been confirmed for which side this unnamed soldier fought, the entry we've selected provides an accurate portrayal of the state of Hyrule, and the war, in the winter of that year. 06:59, December 5, 2016 (UTC) It's been six months of hell. Ask anyone. Hylian. Twili. It doesn't matter. This was has been hell for us all. Shit, as terrible as the soldiers got it, the civilians have it ten times worse. A hundred times. At least the powers that be need us. Need us fed, healthy, in fighting order.

Hyrule has been ravaged by the Twili Armies. Utterly ravaged. When the invasion started, in the south, in Ordon, its first victim was the forests and fields of that province. Hyrule's General Rus set off some massive explosion, they say by unleashing the full power of the Forest Medallion. A massive swath of the forest surrounding that old Temple is now just undead trees and terror. The rest of Ordon's fields were trampled by the armies, or choked under the corpses they left behind. So much for Hyrule's bread bowl. Not like this damnably harsh winter has been helping things, anyway.

Of course, not like there's much left for Hyrule to have to worry about feeding, after the massacre at Castle Town. I was there, you know? And by all that is considering holy in any of the world's religions, I hope I never go back and never seen anything like that again. Mostly all I remember is screaming. Screaming and dieing. If not for Commander Meado and Chief Jaden, not a single Hylian would have survived that day. Twili siegemages called down Dusk fueled strikes that broke the town walls. Some magical barrier surrounded the Castle (I still have no idea how that fell, everything was confusion). I swear at one point I saw a Darknut down one of the side alleys. And all this came after the city was already reeling from that ice mage's attack.

Hyrule lost that day. The King was forced to retreat to some hideaway. But it wasn't entirely a Twili victory, either. There are no Twili in Castle Town, at least not any oprganized force. But I don't think there's anything that can truly be said to be living in Castle Town. Duskblooded mutants, an army of undead, those creepy sliver things, and the vestiges of the Hylian and Twili scraping a day-to-day existence in the cracks between the other three. No, I never want to go back to Castle Town. They say there's a core group of Hylian Special Forces, naming themselves the Light Warriors in mockery of the Twili and the Dusk, out adventuring across Hyrule, trying to collect the necessary materials to forge some magic sword that will save Hyrule. I don't buy it. No single weapon can truly stand against the Twili onslaught. Not against Lord Grem. But then, the Light Warriors are part of the reason this war has lasted six months instead of ending in a swift Hylian defeat.

Chief Jaden and General Darrel have been leading raids on Twili supply lines. They steal what they can to feed their own soldiers and destroy the rest. No wonder the Twili advance ground to a halt. No army can ever march faster than its food, that's Logistics 101. They seem to be biding their time, waiting for something. I've heard whispers of a name: Polaris Eridanus. Not sure what it means; Polaris Eridanus is the Red Ice General, sure, but that's ancient history.

And now, to top it off, we're marching to Lake Hylia. That place has been frozen over almost as long as Castle Town. Hell, the lake froze before winter even started, and I'm convinced that's part of the reason this winter has been so long and cold! I just pray I survive this one, too. The Twili advance was unchecked until winter's icy grip and the harried supply lines choked all progress, but Hyrule's army has been fighting doggedly, like a trapped rat. Neither of us will leave Lake Hylia unbloodied, if we meet like leadership is expecting.

Of additional interest, though not mentioned in this excerpt, is Ganondorf Dragmyre's release from captivity during the first few days of the conflict, by a rogue Shiekah. This would eventually lead to his capture and subsequent imprisonment in the Twilight Realm, which would have deep ramifications generations later during the events that have come to be known as "The Reign of the Twilight Princess". However, by that winter he was still free in Hyrule, hunting down Sage Medallions for his own nefarious ends.

Guardians of the Plotline 33 1/2


Senshi Ma, Southern Path to Lake Hylia, 3 Months ago

“Hey, you! Get out of the way!” A Twili Sergeant yelled out to a cloaked figure that was blocking the road. The man ignored the solders commands and instead calmly pulled a small wind instrument out from his pouch and began playing a somber tune.

The sergeant and his lieutenant that was riding shotgun both jump down from the front of the wagon they were helming to approach the one man road block, “Just what the hell do you think you’re doing!?”

A sudden gust of wind blew off the man’s hood and opened up his cloak revealing the sword adorned on his hip. Both soldiers quickly drew their own weapons prompting the man to stop playing and smirk. In the blink of an eye both Twili were felled by a throwing daggers that had found themselves lodged in the back the men’s necks. A shrill whistle rang out calling the infantry to poor out from the two wagons. The solders quickly encircled the man who had taken the time it took them to gather to put away his instrument.

“I bet you all have quite a few questions right now,” the man said without showing a bit of concern from his predicament. “Who is this person? Why is he blocking our path? How did he kill those two that approaching him? But what you should really be asking yourself is, ‘what’s that buzzing sound?’”

The solders look at each other a bit puzzled over the man’s words, at least until a few of them finally heard it. Some of the soldiers turned around and finally noticed the small object zigzagging towards them at a high speed. “Oh shi-“ one of the solders called out but what quickly muted by the bombchu exploding at the rear of the formation.

The man took advantage of the chaos to draw his sword use a spinning attach that unleashed a wave of flame the killed or knocked back the solders that were all still standing. The survivors attempted to get back on their feet but most were two slow and quickly taken out by throwing knives. Two of the quicker ones managed to get up and charge the man with their spears. The man thrust out his free hand and sent of the two flying back head first into a nearby rock. He quickly parried the other’s spear, dash forward, and ran his flaming sword through the grunts chest.

Before the man could pull his blade free another twili hand jump up to strike him from behind. The man tried to reach but was too slow but by a stroke of luck was saved when another throwing knife pierced through twili’s eye and into his brain.

With his attacker downed the man quickly checked inside the two covered wagons for any remaining enemies, “Alright Misha, that’s all of them. You can come out.”

“I’d hope so!” The irate young girl yelled as she walked out from her hiding spot. “There were like 40 of them. Did we really just waist are time on another personal caravan?”

Senshi sheathed his sword as his approached his sidekick, “Maybe, with this many they may have been guarding something. I’ll start checking the wagons; make sure you check that officers pockets while you collect your knives. If we’re lucky he’ll have more than just movement orders.”

“I don’t need you to tell me that!” Misha barked as Senshi entered the rear wagon. “Stupid jerk, I know what I’m doing. More than I can say for him,” she mumbled as she started pulling her throwing knives out of the bodies. She sudden paused when she saw the knife that had landed in one of the Twili’s eyes. She didn’t recall throwing that one and when she pulled it out it was clear someone else had thrown it. Someone else had to be trailing them. Senshi jumped out of the wagon startling Misha who was contemplating the extra knife. She quickly pocketed it before he could notice.

“There’s nothing but personal effects in that one. Found some jerky and this book. It looks like it’s an herb guide. It might have for information of potions and poisons for you,” Senshi said he tossed the took the girl. His aim was too high though and she stumbled back as she tried to catch it only to fall into a strange purple portal that had suddenly opened behind her. “MISHA!” he yelled as he ran after into the portal without a second thought.

The area fell silent save for the whisper of the wind blowing through the pass as a cold front moved in overhead. A light flurry of snow began to fall slowly hiding the blood and carnage under a sheet of endless white. The snow was also a cover for any unseen hands that may have passed through; hiding any foot prints that may have been made, obscuring any trails made by dragging an unconscious prisoner away.

“Yay well thanks for nothing!” Misha yelled as she walked back to the trail. “Stupid blue haired bimbo, If I ever see her again it will be too soon.”

Senshi followed just behind her. Both of their appearances had changed quite a bit with the hair having grown longer and a new set of cloths and equipment. “Don’t be too hard on her, her soul was fragmented. That can have a debilitating effect on someone’s personality. Anyway we need to figure out how long we were gone.”

“Well it can’t be too long,” Misha said as she started to search the pockets of the dead officer, “even with this snow this guy’s body is still warm. That one you throw into a rock is gone though.”

“Looks like whatever was in the front wagon is gone as well.” Senshi said as he inspected their quarry. “Well great, thanks to that ditz and her bad time this entire attack was a waste of time,” the young girl spat.

“Maybe, but we gained something else more important instead,” Senshi reassure, “we found Polaris.”

Chan Family Estate, Day 1

A middle aged woman walks into the mansion’s library and slammed down a pile of books on a table Misha was doing a hand stand on while holding dagger between her toes. The young warrior stumbled slightly but managed to regain her balance.

“Young land I hope you’re not planning to throw that knife into one of these books for target practice,” the woman said with the fear inducing tone mastered by all mothers. “And honestly shouldn’t you be reading through these books instead of trying to destroy them.”

The girl clicked her tongue in annoyance as she jumped down from the table, “it’s not like I understand half of them.”

“Then start with the half you do,” the woman said as she slammed a book down in front of her.

“Yes Mrs. Chan,” Misha answered back with irate sarcasm.

“And no sass.” Mrs. Chan scolded as she gently smacked the young girl on the back of the head.

“Marly, please tell me that’s the last of them?” Senshi asked without bothering to look up from the tome he was engrossed in.

The Chan family matriarch apologized, “Sorry, one more stack. The war has caused a bit of a back log what with 3 sons and a daughter off fighting plus me your mother and the young one using most of our time to make scrolls and potions for your fathers unit. Translating and transcribing the Guardian library had to take a back seat.”

“I guilt trip myself enough already Marly, I don’t need more,” Senshi said finally looking up.

“That aside,” she said leaning in closer to speak more quietly, “how is it that a black ops agent like her has trouble reading historical records. Don’t they handle army intelligence?”

Senshi sighed as another wave of guilt washed over him, “five minutes ago she was reading through the translated text three times faster than I can. Five minutes ago she was Mikhail. Her abilities are split along with her personalities.”

“Are you saying I’m dumber than Mikhail?!” Misha shouted as he jumped up from her seat. She picked up a book from the top of the new pile and threw it at Senshi, “I’m just as smart as him.”

Senshi held out his palm causing the book to stop with midair with telekinetic force. The book fell to the floor causing a letter to fall out which Misha quickly snatched up. “See I can ever read ancient. Let see that’s ‘to’ and that’s ‘General.’ To General Ho-Hora-Horarisu E-ridanusu, Ji-a-de-n Bi-ri-yu, no ryu, Bi-ryu...”

Marly started looking over the girls shoulders to help her, “No dear that’s ‘Po’ not ‘Ho,’ and that little ‘A’ combines with the ‘Ji’ to make ‘Ja.’”

“What?” Senshi said as he jumped up and grabbed the letter and quickly looked over it, “’To General Polaris Eridanus, Jaden Bryseis and Elizabeth Bryseis. From Patriarch Soldat du Ciel.’ What the hell is this?”

Senshi tried to open the letter but couldn’t break the seal on it. It seemed to have some form of magic lock on it, “Damn it! Hey what was the book it fell out of?”

“It looks like some kind of journal, but the first date if from well over 1000 years ago. “ Marly said as she picked up the aged tome.

“I’ll take it with,” Senshi said grabbing the book, “in the meantime I think we need to go find Jaden Bryseis.”

Senshi, Eldin Province, Day 1

Senshi and Mikhail sat in the back of a small horse drawn cart filled with grain, corn and pumpkins. It was the last bit of the harvest from the Chan's lands that they could spare to the war effort and the cart driver was kind enough to let them hitch a ride.

"Um... Senshi?" Mikhail called out. "Senshi, are you ok?"

Not getting a response the boy tried to walk over to nudge him but a sudden bump in the road nearly caused him to fall out of the cart. Lucky the same bump shook Senshi back to his sense and he was able to catch him with his telekinesis.

"You shouldn't stand in a moving cart," Senshi scolded as he struggled to control his powers enough to set Mikhail down gently. 

The boy was quick to offer a nervous apology, "Sorry! You were on that same page for a long time though and I figured something was wrong when you didn't answer so I..."

Senshi raised his hand to get Mikhail the stop rambling. He could only tolerate so much of the near constant state of panic that personality seemed to be in. "Crawl next time. You won’t lose your balance that way. Anyway it was nothing to worry about, I thought I sense something but must just have been my imagination."

Mikhail could tell something was still bothering Senshi but he lacked the confidence to try and pry another further. Instead he felt changing the subject would be the safer course of action, "Did you find anything useful that book yet?"

"Not really," Senshi said as he close the book and tossed it down. "It's legal record book, births, marriages, death. There are mentions of people joining and departing The Order which is interesting but not relevant. The only thing noteworthy is that this Ciel character is the first Patriarch listed on there and that he died AD 1280 of old age. That gives us an idea of when it was we saw Polaris but only that it had to be before that date."

"Well if you want I can keep looking?" Mikhail asked sheepishly.

"Knock yourself out kid, but we'll be walking pretty soon," Senshi said as he pull three small rocks out of a pouch and placed them down on the cart floor.

Mikhail was confused by his answer, "What, why? I though this cart was bringing this food the the encampment. Didn't you want to ask Lord Phoenix where Jaden Bryseis is?"

The rocks became encased in a slight green glow as Senshi used his mind to levitate them up to his hand. "It is, but I already know Bryseis is in the forest. If we have trouble finding him there I'm sure my sister or Tsukiakari can help track him down. No, we're taking a small detour on the way to Faron. I found out there are still some refugees there that need supplies. Seeing how as there are only a few people in Hyrule that can walk around an undead hive unmolested I've decided handling the delivery."

A look of absolute terror washed over Mikhail face. His skin started to turn pale his eyes glossed over, "Um... maybe then um... my sister should be..."

"No," Senshi cut him off, "you’re the one with medical knowledge. I need you to keep it together Mikhail. This time I need you not Misha. Its time you tried find some of her confidence. In the mean time try reading that book to keep your mind off things. I need to focus on my training." The rocks he'd levitated began to spin around in a circle. Slowing he tried to increase the speed of each rock at different rate but even with all his focus he quickly lost control and one went flying off into the distance. He sighed in disappointment but then pulled a replacement from his pouch started over.

CONTINUES ON Red Death P#64

A Little Perspective

Baron Simeon Ryssdal, Twili Kingdom (Costal City), 2 weeks before Day 1

Across the thoroughfares of a city cloaked in the shade of the duskshard sky, there echoed the sound of marching. That sound of a thousand fold footsteps clicking in unison rang throughout the homes, taverns, and businesses of Roatha, one of the largest port towns in the entire Twili Kingdom. But among this militaristic clamor lingered another noise altogether; cheering. An entire nations worth of beings lined the streets singing, shouting, and crying tears of joy at the largest military parade in imperial army history.

A massive crowd of civilians had gathered to say goodbye to their loved ones, now departing for the tall ships the lined the harbor like a forest of trees. Bound for a trans-oceanic journey Hyrule, endless rows of infantry strutted up and down through the streets like a tsunami rushing back to the sea. The skies above these men appeared as if turned back by swarms of Kargarocs, they themselves dwarfed by the far less numerous, but far more massive Argorok Dragons.

Below them were hundreds of special agents, thousands of armored knights, and tens of thousands of infantrymen, all just a fraction of the Twili’s enormous war machine. In unison they approached the entrance to the harbor, two towering buildings interconnected on the third floor by a large wooden catwalk. On this footbridge stood a marching band, a baroness, and a baron nervously gripping his hands.

"Looks like they're all waiting for me. Why couldn't I have been given more time to write this thing?"

"Don't tell me you're considering backing out now" said Zephyra, the baroness in black. "Come on Simeon you've been through far worse than this. I can't believe someone who has faced down the armies of Uura and Holodrum would suffer from stage fright."

Seeing his grip on the handrails Zephyra wandered in closer and put Simeon's hands carefully into her grasp.

"Hey, don't worry about all those people. Just pretend you're giving the speech to me only. All you have to do is tell me what you sincerely believe. I know you can do this!"

Simeon looked into her warm glowing eyes and felt relieved.

"Your right. I can, no, I will do this! Are you ready?" 

"As I'll ever be."

"Then let's get started shall we?"

As Baron Simeon Ryssdal approached the edge of the catwalk the band behind him began to play. Using the power of telepathy Zephyra mentally transmitted the sounds of what she was hearing to all the formations of rank and file below. With a small gesture using his Rod of Light a magical spotlight shown down from the heavens to illuminate Ryssdal's dim silhouette.

"Brothers, fellow Twili! I come to you tonight bringing good news from the front lines. As of this evening another Hylian settlement has been successfully liberated by our brave men in the Imperial Army. The moral of the Hyruleans is collapsing; their corrupt regime is on its deathbed! As you prepare to depart for our new years offensive, know that the stage to bring about the end of the war is finally set."

The forces before him erupted into cheering. Spearmen raised their weapons skyward while others shouted triumphantly. After letting the crowd die down Baron Ryssdal continued on.

"Courageous defenders of the dusk, I stand before you not to preach of false hopes or to gloss over the difficulties that lay before us, but to explain why our operation shall end in victory. As we march forward we do so into the face of a well-trained, well equipped enemy. They will exploit any weakness you show them and fight fanatically to the bitter end. We would be unwise to underestimate our enemies resolve. But soldiers of the Twili Kingdom do not despair, for the blessings of dusk are with us!

I believe we will win because the statistics show us we will. When you arrive in Hyrule you will be part of the greatest invasion force the world has ever witnessed. As a whole you and your brothers enjoy a great many privileges the enemy does not. The average Hyrulean soldier lives exhausted, demoralized, and in constant fear of death. Hyrule has lost the men and resources it needs to fight a protracted conflict. You and your brothers have the advantage in both numbers and readiness for battle. 

I believe we will win because history shows us we will. Though we have suffered through many fierce, bloody wars the Twili Kingdom has always triumphed in the end. Our ancestors possessed only a fraction of the powers our generation is blessed with yet never did they fail in battle. Hyrule has thrown all of its might at our armies but has yet to win a battle of note. Their strength is depleted while ours has never been stronger! When your children look back on this era, they will know you stood firm on the right side of history. 

Finally I know we will win because the benevolence of dusk is on our side. We must never forget the blessings from our holy religion that the Hyruleans remain ignorant of. When you call upon the dusk, the dusk answers back. It heals you, nurtures you, and protects you in times of need. What can the Hyruleans call upon? The Goddesses?"

Upon the very mention of that word the entire city seemed to break out into booing, hissing, and growling.

"The dusk betters both the individual and society, and asks for nothing in return. The so called "Goddesses" only offer their power when it personally benefits them! Tell me, if the triune were indeed so righteous, why would they do nothing to stop the poverty and suffering of the world they claim to love? Why would they grant the Hylian's the title of their "chosen race" while looking down on our innocent kingdom in contempt? Truly, would any among us kneel before such corrupt and negligent deities?"

"NO!" was the answer tens of thousands replied at once.

"It is well you do not. Though the Hyruleans may languish in eternal servitude we will never surrender our freedom to the false goddesses! That is why we shall win!

We fight this war not for the self-benefit of our own nation, but to liberate the world from the shackles of goddess worship. With your skill and courage we shall break into their sacred realm and expose the Goddesses as the fraudulent demonesses' they truly are. We shall free their misguided worshipers and teach onto them the true freedom and kindness only dusk affords. We shall create a new world, free from the racism and religious oppression you have endured for so long. 

To your family you will achieve for them an era of lasting peace, equality, and freedom. Not just for a time, but for all time! The era of the false Goddesses is over. The era of the Twili starts tonight! There are no Goddesses. Only Twili! 

Good luck, and may the blessings of Dusk touch you all."

His message complete the armed audience clapped, shouted, and sang praise to the Twili Kingdom. With jubilant spirits the forces of the dusk marched onward towards the waiting ships. If Simeon wanted to make an impression it seemed he was effective. Indeed it seemed as if the entire country truly was departing for a new era. Regardless of what events were to transpire over the coming days, Hyrule would never again be the same after baron Ryssdal and his forces arrived.

Not A Happy Drunk

Rhendil Hurst, Tent on the outskirts of Gerudo Desert, Night 0

“Swill. Absolute swill.”

Rhendil Hurst lazily eyed the bottle of whiskey clutched in his fist. “Can you believe this horse piss? I won’t drink it!” he said over his shoulder, taking another swig. He hadn’t had a proper drink in months.

He slammed the bottle down on his desk and continued to scrutinize the dusty old map he’d spent the better part of the last six months inspecting. It was marked at various locations with colored pins, the positions of which seemed to have no rhyme or reason except to Rhendil himself.

“Not a sign of it,” he admitted at last. He leaned back in his chair and sighed heavily, rubbing his temples in frustration at the lack of a breakthrough. “Why do I even bother, Hikaru?” he asked, turning to face his companion.

At first glance it looked rather like a redead, gaunt and skeletal. It was only upon closer inspection one would realize it was made almost entirely of clay and dried plant roots. The surface of this “creature”, if it could even be called such, was dried and cracked, like a piece of poorly maintained pottery. Its eye sockets were sunken, with worn marble eyes that held no luster. In short, it had the appearance of an old corpse ravaged by the elements.

Yet this wasn’t the most peculiar aspect of its appearance. The center of its chest was hollowed, the recess holding a large, rusted brass gyroscope, tumbling slowly and hypnotically as with some unknown purpose. The golem’s left arm was a crudely constructed bundle of sticks that formed more of a pincer than a hand.

“I’m wasting my time,” Rhendil continued to address the cadaver. “If I were an honest man, I’d just admit that the thing is no more.”

The clay man gave no reply. It simply stood motionless as he looked into its eyes.

“Bah. You’re no help,” Rhendil grumbled. 

The captain paused for a moment, and then shrugged. “It seems I’m not an honest man.” He gulped down another mouthful of his vile non-liquor and returned to his fruitless search.

Rhendil Hurst, s***hole desert in the middle of nowhere, Dawn 1


“Uuuugggh.”

Rhendil couldn’t remember the last time his head hurt so badly. To be fair, at the moment he could hardly remember his own name.

As he lifted his head from off his desk, the map he’d been poring over came with it, stuck to his beard by globs of drool. He ripped the paper away from his face and tried to straighten the crumpled mess back onto his desk. Looking down at the map, he could see what a sorry state it was in. Many of the pins and pieces he’d so carefully positioned had been displaced…not like it mattered. He had it all memorized at this point.

“Hikaru!” he grumbled. “Make yourself useful.”

Silence was his only reply.

“Hikaru! I NEED A DRINK!” he roared, instantly regretting it as his head began to swim.

The golem shambled into view, clamped in its wooden pincer another bottle of the vile liquor he’d been drinking the night before.

“Fur of the wolfos,” Hurst explained, though to who he was explaining was unclear. The golem simply stared unfeelingly at him.

Over the last six months since he discovered the thing, Hurst had conditioned his new pet to perform all sorts of basic tasks for him. He had even, with some difficulty, figured out how to use the beast as a scout.

From where he sat, Rhendil surveyed his dusty tent. It was smaller than one would expect of a captain’s quarters, and with none of the usual amenities. Sand lined the entrance and spilled onto the floor. He hated this desert, and not just because of the lack of proper refreshments.

He’d been stationed here to keep him out of the way. The small band of troops under his command was just one of hundreds in this desert, and one of the least likely to be deployed anywhere crucial in the coming months. The powers that be saw him as an embarrassment just prominent enough to draw attention away from.

Which is why, as his hangover began to subside, he was more than a little surprised by the next few moments.

“Captain Hurst?”

Rhendil swiveled his head lazily to face the entrance to his tent. A messenger stood in the doorway, a scroll clutched in his hands.

“I have new orders for you, sir.”

Rhendil Hurst, S***hole desert in the middle of nowhere, Morning 1


“Well don’t just stand there, boy, hand it here!” Rhendil brusquely invited the courier into his tent, suddenly as sober as a monk. The messenger held out a small black scroll, kept closed by a deep gray duskshard clasp with glowing runes along the edge. Rhendil knew what this meant immediately: high priority instructions of the greatest secrecy.Rhendil took the strange parchment, removed the clasp, and unrolled it. The inside was blank except for a faint outline toward the edge of the paper that indicated where his thumb should be placed. He did so and the page, having recognized itself to be in the right hands, instantly revealed its contents.

Rhendil quickly grew agitated as he read the instructions. Lake Hylia? he thought to himself. Tonight?

The orders seemed to make little tactical sense. There was already a force headed toward the lake from the south. It seemed to Rhendil that sending such a small troop as his risked exposing the larger force readying itself to attack the lake. True, having his men there could allow the offensive to start from both directions as he approached from the northwest, surrounding any Hylian troops that may be stationed there, but those weren’t his orders. He was to make his way around the perimeter undetected and rendezvous with Baron Ryssdal and his men to await further instructions.

His eyes paused upon the name. Ryssdal. His blood pressure began to rise at the sight of it. The Baron was nearly 10 years his junior, with 100 times his command, and that didn’t sit well with Hurst. I’m to take orders from this greenhorn?

He took his hand away from the parchment and the orders immediately disappeared from view again. Looking up he saw the messenger staring, quite flummoxed, at Hikaru.

“Like what you see?” Rhendil remarked, startling the boy as he was brought back to his present circumstance.

“The construct,” the messenger began, referring to Hikaru. “It’s…not one of ours, is it?”

Rhendil shook his head. “No. I found it abandoned during the first attack on Castle Town, and took it as a souvenir. I thought it might prove useful. So far I’ve been right.”

“And the device in its chest?” the messenger continued to inquire, pointing at the gyroscope there embedded.

“A navigational aid I installed,” Rhendil waved dismissively.

“To what end?” The boy asked a little too soon after Rhendil had finished.

“If you must know, I’m looking for something,” he breathed through his teeth with forced politeness, beginning to understand the thrust of this man’s questions: Hurst was under investigation. His reassignment was merely an excuse to have this boy, who he now realized must be something more than a mere army courier, peek in on him.

The boy paused thoughtfully, looking down at the rumpled map that lay on Rhendil’s desk.

“…looking for what?” the boy’s tone of voice shifted slightly, a note of genuine curiosity creeping into it.

Rhendil smiled at the boy despite himself. “I’ll let you know if I ever find it.”

CONTINUES ON Out on the Fringes P#53

Old Evil

For centuries the mad scientist Sirius Fulmaren has manipulated, lied, cheated, and sought to subvert the  goddesses themselves.

His machinations have brought great horror and pain, though at times he has also proved a crucial element in preventing death and disaster. His path has been a complex one, criss crossing along time and bringing him into contact with a myriad of legendary figures.

And today that ends. Today Sirius Fulmaren shall be put to rest, his long journey at last reaching a pivotal point.

Sometime between IWS2 and IWS3, Sirius Fulmaren, Southwest Forest Border, Day 0 (Dec 31st, 2107)


“Well, I’ve gone and cheated.” Sirius chuckled at himself, as he typically did, regardless of whether he had made a joke or not. He checked the date and his smile faded.

“I didn’t realize it was already here. That we are already at this day.” He stood up from his work desk and dusted his clothes off. “The price you pay for knowing your future is the shock of when it really comes true. Really pulls at the old perpetually-in-denial heartstrings.” Sirius spoke to himself in typical fashion. Though at one point he had hosted a variety of living companions, Vera, his lifelong companion and sometimes wife. Severa, his vanished daughter.

Sirius looked around. He wasn’t at his desk after all. He wasn’t in his laboratory. His own vision was clouded from bitter resistance to the truth. Today was the day he died. He would have thought after all these years that death would be a more welcoming sight. But he only grew more hateful of its presence.

Growing rapidly more cognizant of the situation, Sirius found his old wit worming its way back

“I have to ask, how is this happening? My records of the future shows this isn’t supposed to happen for another two hundred years. You’re getting a little antsy these days, Kokage.”

“I believe you’ve spoken enough.”

“Well. I guess you don’t care for the whole back and forth thing anymore.”

Sirius was facing away from Kokage. His hands were bound behind his back, and Kokage pushed him forward a few paces, giving no further reply to Sirius. In front of Sirius the forest opened up into a small clearing, where a freshly dug grave awaited. Kokage pushed him again, and he tumbled forward, tripping and falling into his bodies last earthly stop. Sirius fell to the bottom of the ten foot drop, taking a face full of dirt as he collided with the ground. Wiping his face and coughing up the soil, he rose to his feet and looked upwards.

“I get the strangest feeling we can be seen right now.” Sirius commented, refusing to break from his persona to show fear of the end. “Looks like the time shockwave isn’t done yet, is it?” He smirked and pointed at Kokage, who now stood at the grave’s edge. “Our ancient Hyrulean King is still ensuring our fate is complete, even now. Look behind you, Kokage.”

The distrust between the two was far too great for Kokage to comply. But the sincerity of Sirius’ voice, and the sheer curiosity forced the forest elemental to steal a glance backwards. What he saw was exactly what Sirius had expected him to see.

“What is it, oh green man?” Sirius asked mockingly.

“It’s the battle at the timestone vault. The armies, the Ma - and just as you claim, the puppets of the king, the Gray Legends of the Trust. They’re all there.”

“Yes...I remember them, at least the ones I saw in the Battle of Disharmony.” Sirius went somber for a moment. “Do you understand Kokage? These are echoes going both ways. This isn’t a time portal or some magic of mine. We are seeing the past, as they see the future.”

Kokage could see that Sirius was telling the truth. Somehow, someway, the murder of Sirius Fulmaren was about to be on full display in the timestone vault. Sirius could see it in Kokage’s eyes. The forest guardian was reveling in the sudden influx of publicity the execution was receiving.

“Sirius Fulmaren. I personally shall carry out the execution for which you have been sentenced.”

The grave you now stand in bears special elemental seeds. These seeds are composed of clone material, taken from the bodies of the very clones you’ve created across the centuries. In your wake there have been special observers, ensuring that not everything you do is kept secret, or destroyed.

Your ankles have already been rooted down. Look at them.”

Sirius looked, and saw what looked like normal rope snaking its way around his ankles, and slowly up his legs. It wasn’t changing color, or changing shape. It was just ropelike and moving at a gradual pace.

“Looks like rope to me.” He touched his hand to it, expecting it to burn or freeze or something of that nature. But nothing happened besides the feeling of rope. “Still rope.” Sirius smiled at Kokage. “I would have thought a tree man would be better at this whole gardening thing.”

“What is your name?” Kokage asked, confidently and somewhat defiantly.

“Really? My name?” Sirius laughed. “You tie some rope around my legs, and expect me to forget that my name is…” He paused and scowled. “Okay I’m sure this is just one of those tricks, one of those weird things that you can do because I helped create you. Or...you helped create me?”

“What is my name?” Kokage asked, now certain that the ‘rope’ was working.

“...I don’t know. I don’t understand the question. I don’t think I can….I don’t understand the question.” Sirius seemed almost hypnotized. Kokage saw the opportunity to continue his explanation.

“The clone material was studied and engineered into a weapon that destroys memories, destroys knowledge. It attacks the mind. You are ceasing to exist in your own memories. You will burn in this pit, and be buried here. Your soul, should it continue on, shall not be attached to the persona you inhabit now. You are removed from yourself.”

Sirius did not fear his impending death. He no longer recognized himself nor Kokage, remembered where he was or why, and he had no sense of self. While his sheer survival instincts were screaming, it wasn’t to bring a proper reaction as the previously benign rope suddenly began sprouting tiny spines. It had now wrapped around his arms as well, pinning him down.

Just as he did not care what was happening, he could not see who began to shovel dirt into the grave. Sirius was completely isolated inside his mind, nameless and directionless. Above ground, Kokage watched as the grave rapidly filled. The roots consuming Sirius body would be done in mere minutes. To any watching the burial, it would all seem to have been a quick process, but in reality Sirius had been evading death for months, knowing it was due. So for Sirius, it had been long and drawn out, and the last few snarky comments were just the final words of someone who never progressed beyond denial.

“It is completed.” Kokage turned his back on the grave. He strode away into the forest, as the dirt on the grave was covered by a thick mess of vines, curling into brambly loops that warned any in the area to stay back. Sirius would be remembered as a threat even in death.

A History of Ratnis

There are very dark and old things in this world. The inner workings of the Ma are enough to drive a man to suicide, fleeing from what his soul might be exposed to rather than cope with the eternal darkness within.

Ratnis instilled such gripping dread that in his early existence he was purged out of his own body, and forced into a tiny bubble dimension outside the walls of Hyrule’s universe. Exactly when, who, or how has been lost to time. What is known is that it was many hundreds of years ago, long before either the Interloper, Epoch, Imprisoning, or any other legendary wars.

Ratnis remained locked away from hundreds of years, until he at last found a tiny portal into Hyrule, just large enough for him to insert a tiny part of his soul back into the world.

Ratnis removed two dark pieces of his spirit and turned them into living constructs, Sirius and Davus Fulmen. But Ratnis was partially foiled when a witch named Rhunerys interfered. Rhunerys did the bidding of Demise, a fellow Ma whom Ratnis held much contempt for. Even in failure Demise had accomplished much more than Ratnis ever had.

Ratnis, still trapped in his prison, could only watch as Rhunerys somehow stole away Sirius, transforming him from an empty shell of dark magic into a living humanoid. Ratnis was left only with Davus, who he used to spread darkness across the land until the year AD2107, when Davus was sent back in time and later killed.

And this left Ratnis with no other options but to wait for Sirius to die, so he could reclaim his stolen property. And wait he did. With Sirius dead, executed by Kokage, Ratnis could take his chance.

Morton Waypost, Southern Forest Region, Day 1

The gravesite of Sirius Fulmaren sat undisturbed for months following his execution. The thick brambles however had begun to sag and appear sickly. The dirt surrounding the grave was loose, and had begun to subtly shift. Though usually the air was still and the grave silent, today a stale wind and a dark cloud were blowing through. Soft hellish whispers floated gently on the cloud, and all in one motion it was sucked down through the dirt into the grave.

For a moment, things were silent. And then, the darkness below took hold of the corpse of Sirius, fully enveloping an consuming him. Ratnis had found a way back into Hyrule, and subsequently had put himself into the dead body of Sirius, partially merging with it, and assuming control.

A rougher wind picked up, and plumes of dirt and vines began to shoot into the air. It began with a few, and within seconds dozens of plumes of dirt where firing off, until everything was cast aside. Standing there within the now open grave was a single Garo.

Morton Waypost had risen.

“...I can’t remember anything.” Morton said. “Except my name. Why is this my name?” Morton’s eyes were shut tight. He could only piece bits of his thoughts together. “Morton is who I am, but I am also Ratnis. If you are still in here Sirius, I have taken control. Your life is now mine.” He paused and repeated himself a few times, to be certain that it was the Ma Ratnis in control and none other.

Satisfied, he looked down at his Garo robes. He suddenly felt the urge to pull back his Garo hood, and when he did, the rising sun briefly overwhelmed him. He looked at his body again, and was startled to find himself fully humanoid, no disfigurement or signs of being undead.

“That’s an interesting trick.” He tried to recall memories of his past life as Sirius, but could find nothing. The damned man had somehow locked away his memories even in death. It would take some effort to find out why he was now a Garo that could transform into a person. Sirius always had been an ass and bringer of trickery, but this was truly a new level.

Morton took a few steps away from the grave to a small stream, and looked at his reflection in the water. He blinked, and his face changed, but remained similar looking, still male, same green eyes, but everything else had been altered. He looked at his wrists, and saw a tattoo of a moon, but upon examining the rest of himself discovered no further markings.

“Well...looks like Sirius wasn’t quite done with this world, even in death.” Morton mused. And then the first memory of his life popped back in. It was the most recent one, Sirius’ death. It was time for him to find this Kokage.

He turned from the stream, but before he could set out on his search, a screaming sound like metal on rock filled the air. Looking up, he saw what was clearly a laboratory of some type burst out of thin air and immediately begun thundering down towards the forest. It crashed within seconds, landing on its side and destroying dozens of trees as it skidded to a halt.

“Lets reorient.” Morton paused. “Whoever this Kokage is can wait. First, let’s see what the hell that building is, and why it crashed.”

Morton Waypost, Laboratory Wreckage, Morning One

“...My god.” Morton looked in the reflection of a small stream. He smiled at his warping face. “Is looking good.” The aura of self-satisfaction that Sirius carried around with him seemed too strong for even Ratnis to suffocate. Morton brought his gaze up from the water to the smouldering heap that was the crashed Fulmaren laboratory. It’s original form was impossible to identify, a mashup of a traditional Hylian castle, and alien looking metallic structures that jutted out every which way. Metal bowl like objects adorned the structure in various places ,and many of the pathways and spires that had protruded were now crumbled on top of the main structure. It was a hideous work of art.

Further visual analysis confirmed that pieces of the lab had definitely fallen elsewhere in the forest as well, though it appeared to be limited to fragments, and all the core of the structure was still here in the southwestern forest corner.

Miraculously, ridiculously, the lab was actually sitting upright, though the main entrance was crushed beyond use. Morton struggled to pull memories of the building, but they remained locked away. Instead he looked for any other open areas, and spotted an open window a few feet up. Wasting no time, he assumed his Garo form and with enhanced agility was easily able to ascend the broken structure and enter into the opening.

He was met with a severely confused looking group of people. They were all staring at one another, wide eyed and open mouthed. Morton reeled with mental anguish as a memory from Sirius suddenly broke through the mind dam. The lab had just returned from another Era, The Battle of the Vault during the Epoch Wars.

Why was the lab there? No matter, it was back now. And why was everyone so still?

“Oh.” Morton said the word aloud as the lab fully resynced with the timeline, and everything within began moving. The wide opened mouth look was apparently unintentional as everyone in the room sprang into action. From left to right, the entire group leapt towards Morton, somehow already commonly identifying him as an enemy. Sirius memories flooded in, revealing their names as Morton dodged out of the way of the group attack.

Stella Delphinus, Annie Zephyrus, Severa Fulmaren, Ithan Chiaria, Lia Chiaria, Ella Huntley.

The memories from Sirius offered no explanation for why this group would be gathered here, except for the Chiaria’s. They were here because they expected Morton to be here. Sirius had somehow foreseen this and warned them. What were they protecting?

Morton dodged out of the way of the next group attack, and saw Lia turn towards him with fury in her eyes. He observed that Ithan looked somewhat pale and weak, standing behind the rest.

“This has all happened so quickly.” Morton remarked, his Garo blades drawn. “Anyone care to shed some light on what exactly is going on here?”

Lia advanced towards him, but she paused as Ithan had placed a hand on her back.

“I’m sorry, Lia.” Ithan mumbled the words. Lia’s eyes went wide and in an instant she and the entire group, except for Ithan, vanished from the room. Morton scowled on the inside, and took on human form, so that he might scowl on the outside too. He stepped towards Ithan, and glared at him.

“Ithan Chiaria, you have long been a friend of sorts to Sirius. You and your wretched sister. Why are you here?” Morton stepped closer to the visibly sick man. “And when did you become so powerful? Where did you send them? Teleportation is not something I recall you using so well.” Ithan smiled, betraying his condition.

“There’s very little I can’t do when I’ve decided to make the ultimate sacrifice.” His smile remained as pain crept beyond his eyes. Morton felt somewhat unsatisfied with Ithans reply, and pushed him up against a wall. Ithan didn’t drop his grin, and continued speaking. “I’m surprised you can suddenly remember anything from Sirius. Must be this place. In any case, the rest are safe now. Whatever plan you had for Severa, forget it.”

“You are going to die today, Ithan.” Morton snarled.

“I knew that before you did.” Ithan’s smile never wavered. Morton seemed in a fit of rage, and hurled him out the window, quickly following behind. Ithan went soaring through the air, but landed smoothly on the ground, his telekinesis still in-tact enough to soften the drop. Morton landed next to Ithan and leaned down, only to see the damned psychic was still smiling.

Gleeful

The Lonesome Treant, Laboratory Wreckage, Morning One

The giant tree creature's eyes slowly opened to the sound of glass shattering before looking towards the origin of the ruckus. Dew fell off its grassy mane as it rose to its feet, each movement slow and deliberate, as if to avoid making sound; A futile effort really, as moving at all made the sound of creaking bark. Still, the treant gradually made its way to investigate the possible threat to its home, clutching the nameless body it held so dearly close to its chest.

Before long, it came to a clearing despite its slow walk, stopping to remain blended among the trees. The treant's brow furrowed at the strange new addition to the forest's winding and sprawling design. It looked to be of man's design, yet its source of technological advance was indeterminable due to its woeful state of disrepair.

The creature would have shrugged and left had it not noticed that there was in fact a struggle unfold to the structure's side. Assumptions led back to the sound of shattering glass, thus the treant moved slowly and carefully to investigate further, remaining in the trees. It froze dead in its tracks as it caught sight of the unfolding feud; There were only two, but both looked to be of great power and history. In the encounter's intensity, no further observation could be made of the situation.

The treant wished to leave, but there was...something about this place that seemed especially important, a thought that was refusing to leave the creature's mind be. Giving in to such strange instinct, the treant took precaution, carefully placing the limp body it carried up high in a nearby tree. Hesitating only to make certain the body would not move from its resting place, the grassy giant moved closer to the fight, stopping once a full view was possible.

It rested a single knee upon a muddy patch and watched, it's glowing eyes being the only evidence of its presence among the trees in the morning light.

Those Crazy Zoras

Bernard Kotaro Kondoru’s Notes

Who is Jeskai Kondoru? When did the Kondoru clan come into existence? What is their purpose?

Jeskai is a Psychic Zora, who is the product of meddling by Sirius Fulmaren, who mixed tiny fragments of the souls of psychic twins Ithan and Lia Chiaria into Zora eggs. This was one of many experiments that Sirius performed on Zora clans in his long lifetime.

Jeskai was the culmination of years of work. Jeskai’s entire clan is first generation, created in 2078 as one of Sirius’ final acts in the last decades of his life.

Jeskai left his Zora clan behind six months after the Interloper War broke out, when one of their kind went missing, and is believed to be held captive by one of the warring factions in Hyrule. His missing companion is named Efran Kondoru, and is the only one of the group to possess full telekinesis. 

Jeskai Kondoru, Day 0 Midnight to Morning

“Efran, I wish you weren’t making me do this.” Jeskai sighed, and popped his head above the waters of the Eastern Ocean. The shore was half a days travel away, but by then it would be nightfall so there would be further travel until the morning. He performed a quick telepathic scan of the area, and didn’t detect any minds that could resonate back.

With nothing else to use as an excuse for delay, Jeskai continued swimming toward the shore. And while it did indeed take the remainder of daylight hours to reach shore, the trance like state that his mind entered translated the journey into mere seconds.

Waking from his trance, and rising from the water, Jeskai gazed at the sky. Clouds. He looked at the ground. Sand. It was always hard for him to find wonder in the small things of the world, when there was so much more to see within the mind itself. He dove back in the water, swimming several meters out to find a safe place to sleep. He allowed his foremind to enter a sleep state, and used his reserve mind to thicken the water around him, forming a shield that would still allow oxygen through.

Telepathic Central Crossway

Jeskai was asleep beneath the water, but his mind immediately entered into the telepathic link he shared with his kind. 28 of them at least. The 29th of his brothers and sisters was Efran, whom was cut off from the link.

He smiled at them all, but didn’t speak initially. The interactions within the link were often very different from waking reality. Although one was more prone to speaking. Bernard.

“Hello Bernard.” Jeskai smiled. Bernard was reluctant to fully submit to the link, but he still was considered one of the Kondoru clan, though his Kotaro name was not forgotten. He smiled back, and seemed particularly excited. “Did you make any progress on reaching out to any others?” Jeskai asked.

“Yes! There are a variety of telepathic creatures in Hyrule. Most of them are spirits not living the physical world, but a great many are amongst the Humanoid species, Hylians, though not limited to that country.” Bernard opened up a book, one whose cover featured a large crescent moon, and the back cover that of a full moon. He flipped through quickly, pointing at various individuals. “Known telepaths.” He shut the book and smiled. “I really must return to my work. And I believe you are to be waking up shortly.” Bernard put a hand on Jeskai’s shoulder. “See you next time.”

Jeskai, Day One

Time never did pass the same way in the link. Sometimes Jeskai got the feeling that it was something more than just a shared mental space. It felt like it really was another physical place. It was not a secret idea either, the entire clan theorized the possibility, as was the nature of the link.

The landscape felt uncomfortable, unhealthy. The wide spanning southern forest region wasn’t far off, and it gave Jeskai the sense he was being deceived. But his telepathy wasn’t tuned to non-humanoid creatures and objects. Yet.

He tentatively opened up his telepathic channels beyond the link, openly looking for receptive minds. He immediately got a flood of chaotic screaming signals, background noise, as if for a split second hundreds of telepathic voices had all yelled in agony at once. Jeskai pausd. It was more than just yelling. Seemed like a mind screaming out in death. It wasn’t uncommon for a previously non-telepathic mind to give off a kind of telepathic death flare from the sheer intensity of the life ending.

He shut the telepathy off and looked up at the sky, where a massive laboratory came hurtling from the sky and into the forest region. That’s where the screams came from, whatever portal had opened. At least that’s where most of them had come from.

The journey presents itself whether I look for it or not. Jeskai opened his telepathy back up to just the link, feeling the calming presence of his brothers and sisters. It reassured him, and he continued onwards towards the crash site.

The Funnel's Edge

Major Aydiim of the Twili Army, Southern Forests, Dawn of Day One

The hills were silent, but for the rumble and creak of wood and iron wheels rolling forth along the gravel-strewn pass. A line of laden carts and wagons, drawn by four-legged golem beasts of burden, stretched twelve deep to the south. Marching beside and before them came soldiers in their dozens, ashen-skinned, with halberds and crossbows, and short swords or tulwars at their hips.

The pass they took wound up through rocky hills from Ordon in the south, cut through a narrow corridor flanked by high, sheer walls of bare rock, and then descended back into the trees below, where it would then take a more direct path northeast into the desert. There, an army of a hundred thousand waited for the supplies mounded high in the wagon beds.

The Twili were wary as they led the wagons into that high pass, that claustrophobic terminus through the hills. For months, their supply caravans and any other units that separated from the main force, had been the target of vicious Hylian predations. Enormous caches of food, munitions, arms, armor, and raw materials had been destroyed or stolen, taxing the ever-dwindling supplies that Lord Grem's main force had on hand. And more, countless scouts and soldiers running escort duty had been killed or captured. Some unknown, unseen menace lurked in the forests of southern Hyrule, striking with swift fury and then vanishing into the gloom. They never struck in the same way, or in the same place, twice.

Major Aydiim's eyes were ranging all around, at the walls of stone flanking the apex of the pass's route through the hills, at the six wagons ahead of him and the six behind, and at the other Twili serving in his hand-picked security detail. Every set of eyes was watchful, every pair of shoulders square and tense. They were waiting. This time, he thought, they would be ready to make their stand. This time they would face down whatever Hylian ghost haunted their steps.

Up ahead, a sharp whistle blared through the pre-dawn gray. A look of consternation seized Aydiim's features, followed by bewilderment and concern as the line of wagons ahead rolled to a slow halt. Mutters rippled through the clusters of soldiers; steel clinked and leather creaked as Twili all around adjusted their weapons and settled into wary, ready stances.

"Hold!" He shouted the words, even though the entire caravan had already come to a full stop. "Hold, you light-blighted dreck!"

Adjusting the straps holding his bastard sword slung across his back, Aydiim began to push his way past the forward ranks. When he came even with the golems drawing the foremost supply wagon, he stopped.

Ahead, arrayed across the narrow passage, leaving no room to circumvent them, four Hylian soldiers formed a short phalanx behind a wall of four broad, circular shields emblazoned with the crimson phoenix. Four broad-headed spears bristled over the upper-right edge of each shield, directed toward the Twili. Behind those four, another pair of Hylians stood with bows trained forward, arrows nocked and drawn.

"Stand aside!" Aydiim called out to them. One and all, the Hylians' faces were graven as though from stone within their open-faced helms. "There need not be any deaths here today."

One of the shield bearers called out in answer.

"Go sit on a powder keg, you dusk-sucking Twili c—"

The sound of multiple sibilant hisses from the rocky ledges above drowned out the rest. Alarmed, Aydiim's gaze shot upward. Where before he'd seen nothing, where his scouts had seen nothing when they'd checked the pass, now he saw four more Hylians lining those ledges, two on each side of the passage.

Each held a bomb aloft, sparks hissing and spitting as the fuses burned down.

"Cover!" he managed in a hoarse cry as the arms drew back and then lashed forward, whipcord smooth, and hurled the bombs down into their midst.

The concussive, fiery blasts ripped through the gut, the very core of the wagon train. No cries of pain could be heard as bodies flew, ragged and ablaze, or as shrapnel tore through steel and deep into flesh. Fonts of blood sprayed and smoking shreds of flesh showered the huddled survivors in crimson. Even as the ringing in his ears began to fade, the passage was blanketed in a shroud of dark, sulfuric smoke and thick, choking dust.

"Form ranks!" came the major's strangled cry. He could hear the distant echoes of soldiers relaying the command, could see the silhouettes of gathering lines forming ahead and behind.

The twangs of bowstrings penetrated the confusion. Shadowed figures collapsed ahead of him. Footsteps in unison could be heard to slap against the bare rock beneath their feet. A flash of reflected fire on steel shields and blooded spear heads and more bodies fell. More arrows, more figures toppling.

And then soldiers were screaming, scrabbling across the dirt and the gravel to flee back the way they'd come. The wagons were in ruins, most damaged beyond the possibility of repair. There was nothing for it but to escape. To survive, and bring news back to the army, to Lord Grem himself. Aydiim, in a shocked daze, followed his men toward the southern mouth of the pass, back toward Ordon.

But something wasn't right. The shield-bearers were not in pursuit, nor were those above continuing their devastating bombardment. Just before the northernmost wagon, the phalanx was holding its position, barring that way out. The arrows from above were doing little now to thin the herd of shell shocked Twili.

They were being funneled south. They were being herded.

His blood run cold as winter slush in his veins, Aydiim shoved his way through the clamor, shouting orders even he could barely understand through the din. The sun was just rising over the eastern hills as he burst through the rear—now front—line, ragged as it was, and came to the head of their retreat.

As one, the Twili drew to a sudden halt.

Standing motionless at the southern mouth of the pass, barring the way back to Ordon whence they'd come, stood the one they called the Sunrise Knight. The rutilant radiance of the sword grasped in one chain-wrapped fist left no room for doubt. The knight's expression was firm as he raised his blade high and took the first step of his approach.

Darrel Mytura, Hidden Encampment, Morning One

"Twili scum-satchels didn't know what him 'em!" exclaimed Edge.

Like the other nine who traversed the forest in Darrel’s wake, Edge was one of the Hylian marines who had joined the Sunrise Knight’s campaign in the south. As with the others, he bore no name or identity but that he’d chosen for himself. These marines called themselves the Knight’s Sword, and only referred to one another as segments of the blade. The names and identities they’d carried before were buried deep.

Edge, the de facto second in command after Darrel himself, strode with an air of unwavering confidence following their victory, with his broad shield slung on his back, his bloodied spear in his fist, and a grim smile on his face. "Nayru's nipples, but that was satisfying!"

Point, a military courier and communications specialist out of Ordon, snorted, out of amusement, derision, or a bit of both. She too was spattered in blood and brimming with feral contentment.

Darrel strode through the trees at the front of his squad, silent, listening to their japes and exclamations with a quiet intensity. The blood was already cleaned from the blade of Morning's Edge, but flecks and splashes of crimson still soiled his surcoat and mail, and even then dried to a flesh-creeping crust in his unkempt beard.

It had been gruesome work, his part. Trapped, desperate, the Twili had been as feral animals when they rushed him. With the dawn sun's warmth on his face, he'd met their charge with unyielding, immovable force. His swings severed arms from shoulders, chopped heads free from long Twili necks. When he couldn't use his sword, he struck with chain-bound fists, and each blow caved skulls beneath crumpled armor and shattered jaw bones like blown glass. And as he hacked and parried, the shield-bearers, Edge, Tang, Fuller, and Scab, moved in from behind.

In the end, they made swift work of it.

"Would have been nice if we could have preserved a few of their supply wagons," sergeant Quillon, the squad's ordnance specialist, mused. For their parts, the rest of the marines only nodded their silent agreement with the sentiment.

Their encampment was hidden deep within the undead wood, amongst a land of death concealed in the trappings of vibrant life. The glade was riparian, snug against the bank of a narrow watercourse running south from Lake Hylia. The camp, such as it was, was constructed around a central pavilion, sparsely furnished, easily erected and easily struck when necessary.

As they entered the camp past the empty pickets, the Hylians broke apart to go to their own tents and attend to their own business. But Darrel did not follow suit. Instead he strode through the glade, past the pavilion, to the riverside edge. There the tents weren't Hylian, weren't adorned with the phoenix. They sported instead the Weeping Eye.

As he approached, a dark figure emerged as though out of nowhere to stand in his path.

"General," the man murmured through the veil concealing the lower half of his face.

"Where can I find Jaden?" Darrel asked. The Sheikah warrior glanced back over his shoulder for a moment, further into their side of the camp, and then back.

"He's in with the prisoner, Sir."

"Still?" The Sheikah nodded that it was so. "Fair enough. When he finishes with this business of his, tell Jaden that I'll be waiting for him in the command tent."

"Of course," the Sheikah said with a respectful inclination of the head.

Darrel turned and made his way back through the forest of canvas tents lashed to the ground with coarse rope and wooden stakes. He circumnavigated cold fire pits with naught in them but ash and the blackened husks of spent firewood. Theirs was a small camp, but it was orderly in its way. His marines were more prone to bouts of slovenliness than Jaden's Sheikah, but he did his best to clean up such lapses when he found them. His little group of Hylians were field tested now, fierce and clever and unswervingly loyal, and he intended to give them no excuses for failure.

The command tent was nothing more than a small, peaked-roof pavilion with four canvas sides that could be rolled up to a height roughly equal to the top of Darrel's head and tied off. Inside, there was a small table and a pair of stools. On the table were several furled sheaves of parchment, the largest a map of Hyrule from Ordon in the south to Snowpeak and the frigid wastes in the north. After ducking into the pavilion, it was that scroll he carefully unrolled across the surface, sweeping the others onto the ground. He took up a few rocks and placed them at the four corners of the map to hold it in place.

His left hand rested on his sword's pommel as he stared, unblinking.

This war has consumed you, my morning light, came the familiar refrain in its gentle, melodiously chiding tone. You barely eat; you sleep only to see my face again. Your spirit is strong, but it cannot sustain you. Not forever.

"I'm doing what has to be done," he murmured his reply, so low under his breath that one would have had to be standing at his side to have heard it clear. "The Daybreak Alliance is fractured. Kae and Mirra have vanished, as has Polaris. Those of us who remain... we're poisoned by vendettas and too many separate, conflicting agendas. I thought that by taking the fight to the Twili, I could hold us together until..."

Until a way forward presented itself, she said again, her voice a soft echo riding the current of his thoughts. You've never thought yourself equal to the tasks placed upon your shoulders, my love. You've been haunted by self-doubt since the day I met you. Your spirit is that of a titan, but your mind and heart play tricks on you. Some day, I think, you'll realize what you are capable of.

"What if they don't come back...?" he found himself asking.

Then, my love, you will have to find your way without them.

As before, as it always was when she came to him, the presence he felt faded into darkness. As he took his hand away from the hilt of Morning's Edge, he knew he would not hear her again for some time. Still, her words were imprinted on his thoughts as though pressed into them with a glowing iron.

He drew a finger in a circle around the desert region and tapped the center. That was where he knew they would find the Twili main force. He'd spent time in that encampment, the personal prisoner of Lord Grem. Thus far they'd been reluctant to move out of the relative comfort of their stronghold. Because of lesser Twili forces and the havoc ever wreaked upon the land by the very worst of the ancient Darks, the Twili must have been content to watch from afar as the kingdom's heart was devastated, as its infrastructure rapidly crumbled.

He almost howled in frustration. He was a battlefield commander, not a tactician. He felt utterly and entirely inadequate for the war he knew was looming just overhead.

The Twili wouldn't wait much longer. Hyrule Castle Town was an unapproachable hive of varicolored darknesses. Demons and the undead, vying for control of a haunted cesspool. Zora's Domain, along with the rivers and Lake Hylia, were frozen over. The Twili already held Ordon and the southern regions. Only the east, Eldin, appeared to have any chance at holding out. With resistance appearing so minimal in between, the Twili would have little choice but to uproot before long. Darrel and Jaden had not been able to stop every supply train from reaching the desert, but they'd choked off enough of the necessary resources from the main force that only by picking up and moving into new territories would they have a chance at plundering from the land what food and materials they would need. If the Hylians, and the Gorons, could fortify Eldin in time, the Twili would be facing a siege of treacherous mountain passes when they arrived. They would need replenished stores to wage an effective campaign there.

You will have to find your way without them.

If only, he mused, he could figure out how.

Spoon Fed

Jaden Bryseis, Black Ops Camp, Dawn 1

It had been a very long night. The Twili Captain known as Melined the Younger was Jaden’s latest captive. His Sheikah subordinates had brought him in two days earlier after some successful sabotage on a caravan coming into Ordon Province. Their camp sat in a precarious position and it could not be compromised. Therefore, any hope that Melined had of living or being incarcerated was nil. Of course, the Captain didn’t know this.

Jaden knew of Twili scryers. His sister, long missing in action and hopefully still alive, revealed that intel tactic. Therefore he had to keep his interrogation tents well cloaked so that surroundings could not compromise his operation. He had been working very closely with the legendary warrior Darrel Mytura. The Sunrise Knight had a clandestine force of Black Ops troops at his disposal, and the Sentinel had his Sheikah elite assisting with the back end of the project.

Similar to the fate of this Melined bloke, others had suffered Jaden’s rendition of torture tactics to extract information. He’d gotten many useful leads, and generated dozens of bodies…

For most of last night, Jaden exposed Melined to two rounds of his rendition. The first round was good party bad party, and it was hours under a hot torch that may or may not have been used to burn the Twili Captain when information given was incorrect or undesired. Burns, pummelings, close-quarters combat submission holds, and a bit of back-alley dentistry were mild punishments compared to what was to happen next.

He let Melined rest for an hour while he prepared a new list of questions. He wanted movement reports on supply lines, leads on future invasion plans, and the names of certain commanding officers behind it all. He got what he wanted from the supply lines route, as Darrel was currently out executing on some of that intel.

Round two of rendition was just as painful for Melined, but in a different way completely. There wasn’t any cutting, burning, or maiming. Just drowning. Jaden prepared his victim on a slanted table with the top half of his torso tilted toward the ground. He then bound him taut in shackles. Arms and legs were ironed together and the head and neck stabilized in a vice. He held a towel over Melined’s face and began to empty buckets of stagnant water on top of it. It didn’t take very long to extract the next invasion plans: Frozen Lake Hylia. Sure, another caravan was coming from Ordon to the desert, and the Hylia plans may or may not have been behind schedule. But Jaden was successful once again in getting what he wanted to know.

This caravan was another high yield hit. They were going to be passing by the Great Fairy Fountain today to fortify the Lake Hylia invasion units. But Melined refused to speak further, so Jaden let him sweat uncomfortably. Jaden informed him bluntly that this was his final chance to spare himself a painful passing.

“I killed your brother early in the war. That rout you bastards enacted in Southern Hyrule Field, the one assisted by Kinslayer? The one that got me captured? Before your Lieutenant Zelgadiz took me out, I split his head open like a ripe melon. Your name fits. I wore his brains on my fist...if you tell the truth when I return, I won’t be wearing yours.”

The Twili swore at him in anguish, throwing epithets and other uncouth language in his general direction. Burying his boot into the blasphemer’s ribs, Jaden said nothing and walked out.

A few hours later, he walked in carrying only a spoon and a green apple. This confused Melined greatly.

“Three chances to talk. Tell me the commanding officer’s name.”

The prisoner was badly beaten and barely able to move at this point. A few other Sheikah were watching their future leader work, waiting in the wings in case anything were to go wrong. But Jaden was an expert at these arts, having used many passed down from the very first Impa of their tribe.

Melined barely got out the word never before Jaden swiftly brought down the spoon’s flat end upon the bridge of his badly broken nose. He cried out fairly loud again, swearing he’d never say who was leading the Twili forces into the Lake.

"You really won't like the next part. I will ask you twice more, and refusal to answer, or an incorrect answer will result in a painful death. Who is commanding the invasion force?"

Melined told Jaden to fornicate with his mother. This displeased Jaden greatly. He dug the spoon into his apple and rounded out a thumb-sized chunk. Taking a bite out of the other side, he walked closer to his prisoner.

"Next time, I will not be merciful. Consider this your final warning."

Motioning his fellow Sheikah over, Jaden advised them to hold his victim's head still. He then took the spoon from the apple and proceeded to remove Melined's right eye completely from the socket. Sure, there were screams, and they were pretty loud. In between those screams were feigned assurances of compliance, which Jaden did not listen to. Since the spoon had been in the apple, it stung all the more with the removal.

He took the intact eyeball from his spoon and dangled it as his victim writhed and shuddered.

"I will do the same thing to your left eye. Last chance. Tell me who their commander is."

It finally got through to Melined as blood gushed from his empty socket. But it was already too late.

"His name is Ryssdal. Baron Simeon Ryssdal. He is one of our most powerful sorcerers. Not even your Scion would stand a chance. With his power, he may as well be Lord Grem himself, Praise be unto him!"

He wasn't lying. Jaden could sense the certainty in his voice and his heartbeat stabilize. How quaint, as he was to silence him. The praises to their heretical leader was the last straw. Flipping the bloody spoon backwards in his hand, Jaden rushed at Melined, burying the slim end into his empty socket and through his brain, killing him instantly.

His subordinates began to unchain the corpse as he stood there trying to gain control of his breath.

"Clean this mess up."

With his hands covered in blood, Jaden reached for a nearby flask of Sheikah Smokewater and exited the tent. Others nearby knew by that look on his face that he had gotten what he wanted from his victim. Again. He was always good at extracting information. He was almost as good at extracting teeth and eyeballs.

"Death by spooning, Lord Bryseis?"

One of his recon crew asked as he walked with the future chieftain.

"Indeed. Have you seen Lord Mytura?"

He still left his hands unwashed, taking long quaffs of his flask of hard liquor.

"He made his way to the Command Tent after a successful raid. You were in there a long time. He had been looking for you."

Nodding in affirmation, Jaden sent him as he was and made his way to the main tent.

Darrel looked exhausted and troubled. He was studying their campaign map, tracing on it and focusing his gaze on various locations.

"I spooned it out of the bastard. Where the next caravan is headed, where their advance invasion forces are going, and who is leading them. We got some work to do. Good job this morning, eh?"

Blood dripped from his hands as he approached closer to Darrel. He didn't dare say much more as that kind of focus meant his attitude could be anywhere on the spectrum of tired to frustrated. It was already a long day and it wasn't even past breakfast time.

Darrel Mytura, Hidden Encampment, Morning One

"I spooned it out of the bastard. Where the next caravan is headed, where their advance invasion forces are going, and who is leading them. We got some work to do. Good job this morning, eh?"

As always, Jaden’s approach was deadly silent. He was very much a Sheikah in that way. Darrel finally tore his eyes away from the map and up to meet the young warrior’s almost wolfish grin. There was a bestial gleam in his violet eyes that bespoke a fierce pride, as well as a somewhat darker pleasure. The blood still dripping from the Sheikah’s scarred and calloused hands did not go unnoticed, either.

“The operation went as smoothly as could be hoped,” Darrel replied. “We couldn’t salvage the wagons, unfortunately, but we accounted for every Twili head, at least.”

As he often did, Darrel found his mind at the heart, the eye of a storm. Theirs was a world of darkness, war torn and teetering on the brink, of slavery, annihilation, or something else in between. To have seen one so soiled as Jaden now was, standing before him, might once have stolen the heat from the Sunrise Knight’s blood. Alas, that such illusions of black and white morality could not survive the passage of time, nor the descent of the ever deepening shroud. Jaden tortured to acquire information, and Darrel in turn used that intelligence to wreak bloody slaughter amongst their enemies. To do anything else would be to invite an exponentially swifter devastation of all that they knew.

He straightened to his full height, rolled broad shoulders to work out the stiffness of immobility. The wind through the trees was a warm breath on his face, rustling his beard and causing the lank strands of his once-lustrous golden locks to flutter.

“This Twili, what did he give you?”

Jaden drew out his flask, a common affectation of his in recent months, and took a long swallow of the Sheikah liquor. After a hissing exhalation, he wiped a dribble from his bottom lip and answered.

“If we can believe the bastard, and I haven’t gotten a scrap of misinformation yet, then it looks like the Twili are finally getting restless.” Jaden came forward, took up a position at the edge of the table to Darrel’s left, and placed his right index finger on the map along the desert’s southeastern edge, leaving a bloody print to mark the spot. “They’ve started setting up staging areas near the passes that run through the mountains between the desert and the lake. That’s the route they’re going to use to move deeper into Hyrule.”

Darrel considered the positioning of the print for a long time in silence. Jaden watched him, watched the cogs turning behind his eyes, but didn’t speak. He already knew where Darrel’s contemplations were taking him.

“That’s closer than I’d like to the Fairy Fountain,” he mused. Jaden only nodded in agreement.

“Seems like a prime opportunity if you ask me.”

This time it was Darrel’s turn to nod. Jaden was right, it was an opportunity, a chance to disrupt the Twili advance in a more direct fashion than they’d been able to do in recent months. Considering the terrain, seeing the Twili proximity to the Fountain, to their cache of stolen supplies, their occasional hideout when matters got out of hand, a plan was starting to take shape in his mind.

“We can make this work,” he said softly, as much to himself as to Jaden. “If we plan it right, we can weaken them and then strike hard once they’re vulnerable.”

Jaden’s wolfish grin was back. “You read my mind, General.”

And this time, Darrel allowed himself his own brief, hellish half-smile. He held out a hand and cocked one eyebrow in a questioning look. Wordlessly, Jaden responded by slapping the flask into his fist. Darrel unscrewed the top and took a long draw, revelling as the fiery liquor scorched his throat on the way down. A sigh of satisfaction and he handed it back.

“Spooned it out of him, eh? I’ll consider myself lucky that I missed out on that mess.”

Jaden barked a quick, dark laugh, drawing one out of the dour Hylian as well.

A dull roar, somewhere off to the south, cut their gaiety off. The tremor that shook their camp brought back their shared gravity.

“What in the hell…?” Jaden murmured, peering out through the open side of the command tent, off in the direction of the clamor. “Twili?”

Darrel frowned, all levity and humor forgotten.

“I don’t know,” he said back. “But we should go find out.”

Morton Waypost, Grounds Outside the Crashed Lab, Morning 1

Morton had the upper hand, he could make the killing strike at any time. It was as if he had burst in upon Ithan in a medical facility, he was sick, already dying. This was a deeply unsatisfying situation to Morton, to Ratnis.

Ithan wouldn’t stop with his grinning. He couldn’t have made it more clear that he had seen this coming, either through some new power of foresight, or with the assistance of Sirius. He kept Ithan pinned down solidly, just in case it was a trick, and looked up as two unfamiliar faces came through the trees into the pseudo-clearing created by the wreckage.

Ithan seemed keen to subvert by offering false assistance. He calmly telepathically transmitted the names of the two individuals to Morton. Sirius must have had some knowledge of them too for the moment Ithan made the connection, Morton felt his memories return to him.

“Darrel Mytura. Jaden Bryseis.” Morton stood up as he spoke, keeping a foot planted on Ithan’s neck. He removed his hood, revealing his unfamiliar face, though his body remained rather bizarrely juxtaposed in Garo form. He looked rather awkward hunched over in such a manner, and quickly adjusted, fully assuming a humanoid form. “Ithan here is playing games. And I’m sorry to say, no, we haven’t met. Unless you met Sirius Fulmaren - I used to be him - well no, I took control of the body that used to be him. Anyway, I’m Morton.” He pushed his foot down hard onto Ithan’s neck, crunching down.

Ithan’s mouth opened in a scream, and while no sound came out, any creature with even a slight semblance of telepathic ability within 100 miles would have felt the scream pierce into their mind. Morton didn’t stop pushing, and Ithan was dead within seconds, his neck completely crushed in, spine severed. Morton straightened his pose, and gazed at Darrel and Jaden, who had seemed poised to attack but halted when they realized it was too late.

Ithan’s last thoughts, those that had escaped just before the scream, hovered in Morton’s mind.

(“Find the Kondoru. Do what has never been done. Convert the darkness to the purest of forms. Bring tranquility to chaos.”)

Morton knew he wasn’t the only one that had heard that message. He could wager a guess at what it meant, but he didn’t have the time to ponder it. He needed to escape this area, Ithan had given Morton the accidental benefit of knowing just how angry Darrel and Jaden would be with his murder. A fight was surely coming, and he needed to be quick, either in dispatching these two, or escaping. Once all clear, he could return to investigate the lab for further ways to unlock his memories.

He eyed his two soon to be foes carefully, and made no moves towards them.

“....I should be going then.” He said the words, but continued to stand still, waiting first for their response.

The Lonesome Treant, Laboratory Wreckage, Morning One

As the last echoes of Ithan's telepathic screams faded back into the silence of the wind, the Treant slowly blinked its eyes and looked down to the Earth solemnly. As if it could hear the echoes too despite the silent nature of the sickly man's death, it's body shuddered slightly before the Treant slowly began to rise to its feet. A few moments passed before it looked back at the body it had placed up high in a nearby tree, confirming it was still there before turning forward again and walking forth into the clearing with slow and deliberate steps. Its eyes looked down at Morton when it emerged, before looking down at the newly deceased body.

Moments passed before it step forward again, displaying intent of no harm in its slowness and calm before finally kneeling down on one knee next to Ithan. Ignoring Morton and the two other spectators entirely, the Treant began to dig, scooping large clumps of dirt with its powerful hands and setting it aside as if it weighed nothing. It's silent toil continued until a four foot deep man-sized hole had been created. Still ignoring the others and paying little mind to the dirtiness of its hands, the giant creature slowly scooped up Ithan's limp form, stopped as if considering before finally resting him inside. It hesitated to continue, making motions as if to pop what would be knuckles in its hands.

With a single swoop of it's arm, the Treant replaced the dirt into the hole, flattening it down with soft pounds of a mighty fist. As quickly as he had left the land of the living, Ithan was hidden away from the sight and memory of the living. The Treant wasted little time as it plucked a single blade of grass from its shoulder, squeezing it tightly in its mighty fist as if to crush it. A faint glow of green shimmered briefly before its hand opened once more, revealing a single zinnia resting and healthy upon the palm of its hand. Creating a divot in the dirt with a finger, the Treant gently planted the sunflower into the center of the fresh patch of dirt, pinching excess dirt around its root to keep it standing erect. The monster looked down at its work with a sad posture, moving its shoulders as if sighing before finally rising back up to its feet.

Its work done, it turned around wordlessly, slowly disappearing back into the trees to retrieve its companion and move on. As if intended by the Treant as a final touch, a butterfly took a rest upon the new sunflower as soon as the giant's form disappeared from view, with the thumping of it's footsteps echoing in the wind.

Ma Hunters Neo

Ayala Ma, Kokiri Forest, Morning 1

“So explain to me again why we’re here?” a solder asked to his buddy as he threw a card down on the tree stump they were sitting around.

“Guarding the Kokiri,” the other solder responded as he dealt out a new card to his friend then replaced two of his own. “Call.”

“Yeah, but why? Call,” the first solder asked again before throwing down his cards. “Pair of threes.”

“Damn, Jacks high. Your deal. I don’t know brass thinks it’s important, or at the very least WO has some connect with this place or something,” the second soldier answered while handing over the deck.

The first solder started to deal out the cards but still wasn’t happy with the answer he’d gotten, “Yeah but why us? Aren’t we supposed to be some kind of elite fighting unit? Shouldn’t they have normal grunts here?”

“Well that’s the positive version. This unit was original started out with a bunch of fuck ups who knew how to throw down. Two,” he said throwing down his cards. “Besides its WO’s assignment and we’re her support troops so here we are. Anyway, don’t let SSG Megumi here you bitching. Her idea of enforcing discipline will leave you walking funny for a month.”

“We’re here because the Light Warriors have used this as a sanctuary in the past and we owe to the Kokiri to protect them while Kokage’s missing. Plus we still need the Deku Tree’s help to make the sword.” Ayala said as she and Crim approached the two privates who had taken the night watch. The two solders quickly snapped two and saluted the Warrant Officer who merely stared at them with a confused look.

“We’ve been over this. You have to salute back or they’ll just keep standing there like that,” Crim whispered into Ayala’s ears.

“Oh right sorry,” she said while finally returning the salute and allowing the two privates to relax. Though there relief was short live as Ayala suddenly turned looking into the distant wood causing the 3 solders to assume she spotted an enemy and ready their weapons. Instead she darted into the woods with a gleeful expression.

“Oh, that’s probably the guy we’ve been covering for,” Crim said as the figure came into view. “You two better put down your weapons. From what I hear you don’t’ want that guy thinking you’re a threat.”

“Kokage!” Ayala squealed as she glumped her fellow Light Warrior. “Where have you been? It’s bee months.”

“Who are they?” Kokage ask having completely ignored Ayala’s questions.

“Oh they’re with me. They’ve been helping protect this place since disappeared. And you didn’t answer my question.” Ayala prodded again but a sudden explosion in the distance that seemed to make the whole forest shake ruined any chance of getting a straight answer.

“What the hell was that!” Crim yelled out.

Kokage turned towards the direction of the commotion with a melancholy gaze, “Something problematic, more than likely.”

The elemental’s response worried Ayala. Something blowing up in the middle of the forest would usually enrage Kokage but he seemed resigned too it this time. She was about to ask him about but her concentration was suddenly broken by a familiar warning followed suddenly by a sharp pain surging through her mind.

“Hey, Ayala you ok.” Crim asked as he saw the woman gripping her head in pain.

“Yeah, its passed now,” she said as she composed herself. “For a moment I thought I sensed a Ma but then I got some weird feedback. Like a psychic attack or something. Whatever it was I think we need to investigate that explosion. Me and Kokage will go ahead, have Megumi stay here and the rest of you follow after us.”

The race through the forest was uneventful. Ayala occasionally looked over at Kokage concerned over his disappearance and personality change but at this point she could tell he wasn’t going to talk about. As the two approached the large structure that was seemingly the cause of all the commotion a familiar voice called out to Ayala’s mind. “Find the Kondoru. Do what has never been done. Convert the darkness to the purest of forms. Bring tranquility to chaos.”

“What was that? Kondoru? That voice, was that?” She started to ask herself aloud but stopped when she finally caught sight of the three men standing outside of the large structure that had crashed into the forest.

“Darrel? Angry Sheikah guy? What’s going who’s that guy?” she asked trying to grasp the situation at hand, at least until she saw a strange wooden creature carried a body away. “And what’s that thing and what is it doing with… is that Ithan!?!” 

Ayala readied her sword of light and was about to attack the tree creature but was stopped by Kokage. “She’s burying him," he said with a harsh bluntness. “Ithan Chiaria is dead. That treat is merely granting a respectful resting place. If you anger should be directed anyway one would suspect it should be at the man your friends are staring down."

Making It Work

Henreth Tammas, Near Laboratory Wreckage, Morning One

In a flash of light, Henreth appeared. His surprise from the flashing distortion made him release his grip on the sailcloth and he fell a short distance to the ground. After wasting only a moment to recover, Henreth let out a grunt as he got to his feet. Taking in his surroundings, he wondered what possible force of nature or magic relocated him from a desert war-zone to a peacefully quiet forest.

Since standing there and asking himself questions wasn't going to get anything accomplished, he pulled out his map to check for his current location. Without any landmarks to help distinguish where he is, the map was basically useless. He was about to climb a tree to get a view of the landscape when he saw a metal structure in the distance. A minute or two of walking got him to what appeared to be the remains of a very sophisticated laboratory full of advanced technology. 

As he explored, he couldn't help but marvel at all the technology, even if most of it, if not everything seemed damaged beyond repair. Looking through the lab, he started to think that no one was there, despite nothing looking aged by time. Going on the assumption that no self-proclaimed owner was going to arrive and chastise, or worse, attack him for doing so, he decided to look for and take anything that may be considered useful.

He approached a broken control panel buried under a pile of books from a bookshelf and started to lift the shelf. A couple books fell from the pile, and one hit a button on its way to the floor. The control panel started sparking and crackling with uncontrolled electricity. Henreth quickly dropped the bookshelf and backed off just in time to avoid a very minor but very loud explosion, destroying what was left of the panel, as well as any books that were in the small blast radius. The blast made him flinch, making him quickly raise his arms to shield his face from anything that may have been sent flying in the air. After a moment of nothing happening, he lowered his arms and released the breath that he was didn't realize he was holding. Greater caution, he realized, should be taken around this area.

Jaden, Command Tent, Day 1

Their teamwork was really starting to develop into something of potential legend after six months in the field. Sure, Jaden did miss his family and his sister, but he knew that these labors would yield great results for the war as long as they kept pressing on. These supply caravans were getting too close to one of their emergency fallback points. This was an opportunity to cripple the Twili with a pincer attack; another collaboration between Darrel's Hylian Knight's Sword Marines and Jaden's clandestine team, Sheikah Unit Zero.

Best case scenario, the Fountain could be fortified further as an outpost with the acquired supplies. Worst case scenario, the advance forces going into Lake Hylia would be severely under-provisioned. As the two leaders were going over options and contingencies, a loud crash disrupted their war room stratagem. Sheikah and Hylian operatives alike inquired as to what they were going to do.

"Condition Yellow, soldier. The General and myself are going to investigate further, but stay on caution."

The camp mobilized to ensure it stayed defended while the commanding officers were away.

They both agreed to check it out and ran off toward the direction of the crash. Jaden took top-flight speed using his Lunar Celerity. He extended this gift to Darrel so that they could cover the pace of a horse at full gallop and save precious time. After all, they had a guerilla strike to plan.

Upon reaching the new clearing created by this giant building, they saw a familiar face at a serious disadvantage. A cloaked ninja of sorts had its foot on the neck of Ithan, who Darrel recognized instantly. He drew Morning's Edge, and Jaden drew Starcaller in short order, following suit. He also readied his starmetal kite shield.

It somehow knew their names and introduced itself as Morton. Before they could close the distance, Ithan's neck had been soundly crushed, and then the ground rumbled. A towering animated tree-being came forth in response to death.

“Find the Kondoru. Do what has never been done. Convert the darkness to the purest of forms. Bring tranquility to chaos.”

Jaden's eyes widened when he heard those words. They made little sense to him, but any dying declaration was important. He vaguely remembered this Ithan fellow, and Darrel had spoken of him when they'd exchanged war stories by the campfire on those nights when things were slower. Living history had just been snuffed out. He could sense the anger brewing in Darrel, and his friend's loss was his in turn. They had to pursue this Morton. As the tree creature moved to bury their fallen comrade, Jaden saluted the honored dead. As he did this, the ninja used a trick not too different from one of the Sheikah. He let loose a flashing smoke bomb of sorts. It wasn't a Deku nut, but it was enough to distort them a little.

Jaden was trained enough to see through diversions like this, and Darrel was wise enough not to let it shake him. The young Sheikah did not know of a forest caretaker like this massive being, but he did not want to anger it further by engaging in violence in front of it. He'd already had enough exposure to the guardian known as Kokage to know that respect of nature was to be kept while in these lands. Darrel was seething angry as he gave chase, and even though the ruinous castle did not give evidence that it could be fully combed in search of Ithan's murderer, it didn't stop him from going in. Jaden followed closely behind, and he could hear rummaging not too far in. He caught up to Darrel and motioned that he heard something. Motions were made to simulate digging and looting. Maybe the murderer was looking for something of value or advantage?

When he caught up to the sound, Jaden saw a heavily armored soldier indeed looting. He looked humanoid, possibly Hylian. But what would a soldier be doing this far out here without a post or commission? Was he a deserter? He certainly wasn't of the Knight's Sword, and the armor looked to be of a different time period. Darrel was darting his eyes around; that murderous Morton needed to be caught, and this wasn't helping them get anywhere near revenge.

"I'll handle this, unless you feel it better to pursue Morton. Up to you. No sign of where he went."

Jaden whispered to Darrel as he continued to analyze the soldier, who somehow did not notice two heavily armed elites amidst the ruins.

Henreth Tammas, Laboratory Wreckage, Morning One

"Yes, I'll search for Morton, I believe you can handle this person." Darrel whispered back immediately before rushing off to find the Garo. Jaden cautiously walked forward towards the soldier.

Henreth continued to dig through the piles of rubble and broken devices but was having no luck finding anything that was still intact, let alone useful. As he got up to search somewhere else, he heard the sounds of footsteps behind him. He quickly turned around to see a man clad in metal and leather armor, and on his was a satchel and a bastard sword. The man approached him and spoke.

"Hello, my name is Jaden Bryseis. May I ask for your name?"

"It's Henreth."

"Tell me, what brings you out here?"

"I was traveling the forest when I found this place." Henreth said, his answer being technically true.

"And you decided to loot from here because...?"

"Do you have anything to do with this... lab?" Henreth asked, hoping to change the subject, if only slightly.

"No, and from your appearance, neither do you, which brings us back to my previous question."

"Alright, I'll admit, I was going to take anything I could find. Are you going to arrest me?"

"No, but I suggest you do something more constructive with your time. Ever consider joining the military? We can use as many hands as we can get."

"And fight more Gerudo and Zora? No thank you."

"Gerudo and Zora? No we're fighting against the Twili. we haven't fought against the Gerudo or Zora for years let alone both together. Are you referring to the Battle of Disharmony that occurred almost a millennium ago?"

"I haven't heard of any twili. And what do you mean a millennium ago? Isn't it going on right now?" Henreth was beginning to get annoyed with all these unanswered questions.

"Hell, no! Where have you been? Have you not existed for the past 6 months?"

"I've been under a lot of stress recently, so you'll have to forgive me for not keeping up with current events." Henreth said as he was processing the new information. "By the way... This may seem like a strange question, but what year is it?"

...

"It's 2108 AD." Jaden said, now equally baffled.

Henreth couldn't believe what he was hearing. The idea that he was in the future was completely preposterous.

Jaden stared at Henreth with concern. He decided that they'll discuss this later, and changed the subject.

"Regardless of current events, my offer to join the military still stands."

"I'm not joining anyone until I get an explanation about what's going on here."

Jaden took a deep breath and mentally prepared himself for the answer.

"My friend, Darrel and I are members of a new group of "Light Warriors", essentially protectors of Hyrule in times of trouble, who are now known as the Daybreak Alliance. Basically both of us and what's left of the Hylian army have been waging a guerrilla war against an invading race of beings known as Twili."

Henreth took a few seconds to collect his thoughts. He was ready to give up on trying to avoid conflict since it kept finding its way to him. After pondering his situation, he made his choice.

"Alright, I'll join."

Jaden, Ruined Laboratory, Morning 1 

There was still much to learn about this Henreth. He seemed open enough to converse, but anyone would when they were caught with their hands full of loot. Given that Darrel was still in pursuit of Morton, he thought it best to see what the new recruit had.

"We'll get you sworn in and look into terms when we return to camp. For now, I know Darrel said he had it under control."

Turning to listen for footsteps and other noise out of place, Jaden focused, trying to find where the Sunrise Knight had continued his hunt. 

Time travel. It was hard to believe. But the armor and dialect didn't lie. He spoke without the colloquialisms of the present time. And from the sound of his heartbeat, though somewhat off-guard, he didn't seem to be lying. Either that, or he was in such deep cover that even he believed he was from nearly a millenium ago. To have to educate about what happened between felt very awkward. There would be more catching up to do, after they caught up to Darrel. 

"You won't regret this. Plenty of adventure to be had when you're with the likes of us."

Hearing a bit of commotion outside, Jaden silently motioned for Henreth to follow, then proceeded toward its source.

Foresight

Morton Waypost, The Elemental Production Lines, Fulmaren Laboratory, Morning 1

The longer he spent in this lab, the more of Sirius’ memories he felt unlock. He was certain now, it was time based. He just had to wait it out. Or find something that would speed up the process, something in this lab. Morton had no idea what that something would be, but he had to find it.

He knew he had been followed, but had no sense of where his pursuers were. He might even be safe in this labyrinth of a laboratory. And within seconds of his thoughts of safety, lights flashed on. Sparks flew from consoles, and strangely, chunks of wood flew through the room.

He heard whirring sounds and a faint buzzing voice. It was coming from somewhere in the room, though the damaged machinery was struggling deeply to speak its message.

“Elemental….bzzzzzt….Injection….active...bzzzt…”

Clouds of colored gas burst through the room, and chains fired out from every direction, wrapping around Morton’s arms and legs, forcing him into human form. His eyes were forced open by small little self propelling claws, which seemed to be feeding of the elemental clouds. A shimmering ghostly image of Sirius popped in front of him.

Morton snarled and tried to break free, but couldn’t. The image of Sirius laughed, completely cognizent of what was happening.

“Hello dead me! Or should I say, Ratnis?”

“Die.” Morton replied. Sirius shook his head.

“Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Shouldn’t say that. Also, funny story - I can’t hear anything you say. This is a recording. I’m just great at guessing. Here, watch this!” Holo-Sirius threw his arms out and he exploded backwards, stretching out into a flat ghostly wall. It swirled to life, moving images covering the surface.

“What is this?” Morton continued to struggle, but the elemental gas was highly disorienting. He felt completely entranced by the images on the wall, and watched them intently.

“Enjoy this Morton, a living memory you can watch.”


Jeskai, One Year Before IWS3, Distant Oceans

Jeskai sat on the coastline, next to him the Chiaria twins Ithan and Lia. They’d been meeting like this for months now, mostly performing mind links and enhancing their ability to telepathically exchange information and emotion. It was rarely easy to do consistently until you formed a stronger bond with someone, a trait that all three wished to defy, and expand the realm of telepathy far beyond themselves and their few kin.

“I think that’s enough for today.” Jeskai looked up to see Sirius standing on the deck of the ship. His father, in a way. Sirius had been responsible for the creation of Jeskai’s clan. He was always checking in, seeing how progress was going. Jeskai knew much of the man, and though he found it difficult to accept some of the things he had done, ultimately Sirius was redeemed for his newfound positive direction. To put it simply, once he finally created a lab grown Zora with magic powers, he gave up on the centuries of experimentation and suffering imposed on others. Jeskai knew that some might not forgive a man like that, even if he turned a corner. He and his brothers and sisters simply had too much gratitude for the man to ever see him for what he used to be, rather than what he had become.

“Hello Sirius.” Ithan was the first of the group to stand. “I agree, I know that you and I have other business to attend to.” He motioned for Lia, and the two began to walk off, intent on meeting private with Sirius, but the man stayed put.

“Jeskai, come with us today.” Sirius seemed more serious than normal.

The group departed together, walking in silence for a time, both spoken and of the mind. It was Sirius who at last spoke up.

“I’m tired of being cryptic, devising riddles or trying to allude...to anything. I’m going to die in a year, or maybe a few years, it’s hard to pin it down. But I know it will be at the hands of Kokage Tsukiakari.” Sirius name dropping had little effect on Jeskai. He recognized the name Kokage because Jeskai’s own brother, Bernard Kotaro, held a vast swath of historical knowledge, and as psychics they shared that to a degree. But to access the information was a little bit like visiting a library, you had to know where to look, and take the time.

“I thought you and Kokage had reached terms of peace.” Lia was typically more content to avoid speech, and stick to telepathy, which left Sirius somewhat surprised.

“Yes, and one of those terms is sticking to the path before us.” Sirius raised a hand to signal the topics end. “Staying focused. Jeskai, I’m not going to repeat my entire life story but certainly you’ve taken the time to convene with my old friend Bernard. And he told you about the dark being that originally created me, before the screaming sand witch got involved and proved that even the worst of darkness can be given a normal soul.” He paused. “Not to imply that my soul is anything but synthetic. But I can tell this is information you don’t need me repeating again. You understand that Ratnis is on a mission to return to Hyrule. He wants to kill me, remove the blight that is his failure. And he will do that by using me, by taking my corpse and waltzing it across Hyrule. I will die soon, and he will be ready. My corpse is the perfect vessel, there is nothing I can do to prevent this, nor do I wish to.”

“I’m tired of you talking, Sirius.” Ithan said, smirking, as was his typical way. “You can choose to be direct if you want, I think it takes all the mystery out.”

“That’s all I have to say for now.” Sirius was done. He turned and walked away without another word. Jeskai was left with Ithan and Lia, who also departed together in the opposite direction, leaving a single combined telepathic thought behind.

(“This conversation has not yet ended. We resume again tomorrow. Good day, Jeskai Kondoru.”)

Jeskai settled back in the sun and opened his mind to his clans link, basking in the comfort of their thoughts.


Morton, Laboratory, Day One

The chains holding Morton in the air released and he tumbled to the floor. He caught himself and rushed forward, but the wall of moving images was already gone. He looked back, and that translucent fake Sirius was back.

“I hope you enjoyed the show.” He paused for effect, a perfect recreation of the real Sirius’ habits. “And before you ask - yes I did just give you information. But it’s all part of the plan. I mean, I also am going to be murdered by Kokage - already murdered from your point of view, but the day it happens I’m going to take a nice memory erasing concoction. That’s probably affecting you pretty heavily right now.” Sirius sneered. “I’m not even real, and before long, nor will you be. I deem you the larval stage of Sintar the Serene. Don’t worry, knowing that name won’t help you figure out my plans, or stop them.” Sirius blipped out of existence, then back in for a brief moment. “Also, screw you. You’re an asshole, Ratnis. I hope they rip my - your - body apart when they rend your soul and rebuild it with absolute purity. Bye.”

Morton was left alone, in absolute shock. Sirius had planned for this more than he realized. The elemental gases were gone, and his mind returned to the matter at hand, of escaping.

Darrel Mytura, Fulmaren Laboratory, Morning One

The Sunrise Knight winced as he stalked through long, narrow stone hallways. Perhaps Jaden would have been the better choice to hunt Chiaria's murderer. His footsteps echoed loudly, too loudly, through the enclosed, labyrinthine corridors of the immense structure that had, must have, crashed into the forest.

He was certain of that last part, just as he was certain that the sound he made might well alert his quarry, because of the evidence all around him. Much of the structure was critically damaged; windows shattered out, walls and floors riven with massive cracks and fissures, and ghostly, ephemeral lights flickering and spraying showers of sparks through the deep, murky darkness through which he trod.

The whole scene felt wrong. This place, some sort of laboratory was his guess, based on the various busted instruments and devices he'd seen in a number of different rooms and antechambers, felt out of place. It raised his hackles higher and straighter with each step he took deeper into the bowels, until as he turned a corner into a particularly desolate and dark corridor, he wrapped his fingers tight around the leather-wrapped hilt and drew Morning's Edge out of the sheath with the telltale rasp of hot steel.

You are troubled, my morning light, Helen's voice whispered softly in his mind. What now has given you reason for concern? It does not feel as it so often has of late.

"Ithan Chiaria," Darrel murmured softly aloud. "I haven't seen him, haven't really seen, in ages, but he has always been a brother in arms, of sorts, as most Light Warriors have been.

"And this morning, out of nowhere, I watched his murder."

I am sorry, love. I too remember Ithan Chiaria; he was a great ally and asset. There was a moment's pause, and then the revenant whisper returned. Is it possible, my morning light, that what you beheld was not precisely what you believe?

Darrel paused in mid-step. Was it possible? Had he and Jaden not appeared at precisely the wrong moment, the moment at which they would have had little choice but to draw a certain and specific conclusion? Was he stalking the halls, seeking the creature named Morton with his sword in hand, because of some manner of misunderstanding? Had he not seen Ithan Chiaria at least once before, only to discover that the monster wearing his face, his flesh, was actually the fulgomancer, Davus Fulmen?

Momentarily shaken, unsure, he resumed his search, however more cautiously.

War has made you too hot-tempered, love. Too much like him. Seek the killer, find him, but keep an open mind if possible, Helen's ghastly voice counseled. And if you find matters to be as you feared... then destroy him.

He turned another corner, found himself stepping into a massive laboratory chamber, just as a series of chains seemed to unwind themselves from around the wrists and ankles of a figure of whom Darrel could only see the back.

The figure caught himself as he tumbled back to the floor and rushed forward, but the wall of moving images opposite the lab chamber from Darrel was already gone, before he had a chance to see any of what it had shown. As the figure looked back over his shoulder, a shimmering, ethereal image appeared between them.

“I hope you enjoyed the show. And before you ask - yes I did just give you information. But it’s all part of the plan. I mean, I also am going to be murdered by Kokage - already murdered from your point of view, but the day it happens I’m going to take a nice memory erasing concoction. That’s probably affecting you pretty heavily right now. I’m not even real, and before long, nor will you be. I deem you the larval stage of Sintar the Serene. Don’t worry, knowing that name won’t help you figure out my plans, or stop them.” The figure blinked out of existence for an instant, then back in for a brief moment. “Also, screw you. You’re an asshole, Ratnis. I hope they rip my - your - body apart when they rend your soul and rebuild it with absolute purity. Bye.”

The image vanished and Darrel was left to stare across the chamber at the man as he rubbed wrists and ankles where chains had bound him, much like the chains that still were clasped on Darrel's wrists.

He raised Morning's Edge, more out of caution than immediate, murderous intent.

"What the hell is all of this?"

Ayala, Lab Crash site, Morning 1

“It doesn’t seem right. All he’s done and he’s just dropped in a shallow unmarked grave,” Ayala said holding back tears of anger and sorrow.

Kokage could do little to offer consolation, “This is the best a trent could provide.”

“I know, it’s just that… I mean he’s save us, all of us. I think, I think we really would have all died some many times in the past if it wasn’t for him. He should have a monument or something, or at least a proper funeral.” Ayala reached out the gently caress the petals of the sun flower that was the sole marker of the grave. “I guess the flower is a nice touch though.” 

“These centuries, for you they have always passed in a blink of an eye. You have never had to suffer though the loss of humanity that has befallen so many of the others.” Kokage replied with an unwarranted harshness.

The elementals apparent non-sequitur did little back confused the girl, “What are you talking about?”

Kokage was quick to recant in an uncharacteristic attempt to subdue his cold demeanor. “Nothing, never mind. It is possible Ithan Chairia would not raise protest against the present circumstance. If that is any comfort to you.”

Ayala gazed at Kokage in silence for a brief moment but suddenly tapping on her breastplate. “Do me a favor, thank that trent for me. ”

A fairy crawled out from Ayala breastplate and let as large a yawn as its tiny body could produce. “What’d I miss?”

Ayala didn’t feel like explaining everything in detail at the moment, “I’ll tell you late. Can you take my armor and spear for me?”

Oberon nodded before quickly flying around Ayala causing her equipment to vanish in a flash of magic.

“What exactly are you intending to do?” Kokage asked fearing he already knew the answer.

“Exactly what you told me to. I’m gonna go take out my anger on the guy who did this.” Ayala said as she drew her Sword of Light and head for the ruins only to be blocked by a wall briars that suddenly burst out from the earth. “Just what the hell do you think you’re doing!?” 

The elemental was decidedly vague with his response, “That place is not safe. It would be unwise for you to enter it. More so now than ever since it is in ruin.” 

His answer only incited Ayala’s rage, “Don’t you dare!” She stormed over to the noticeable taller men and stared him down as if he were somehow a foot shorter then her. “I am sick and tired of everyone always trying to protect me. I don’t need you to start too.”

“That is not what this is about,” Kokage tried to explain.

“Then what? ” she yelled, “You didn’t exactly try to stop Darrel or the angry sheikah guy. ”

“An unfortunate oversite,” Kokage calmly answered, ”where it not for other matter providing a distraction-”

“Well it looks like we’ve stumbled on a bit of a lovers quarrel,” Crim’s voice called out, interrupting Kokage mid-sentence. “Trust me, just apologize and let her do what she wants. Otherwise some other much smoother guy might steal her from you.”

“Figures, there big busted ass building that suddenly appeared in the forest and all Sarge can think about is getting in WO’s pants,” one of the solders commented as the team emerged from the brush.

Crim was quick to denied the allegation, “No, I’m merely giving some friendly relationship advise to our ally. Any, WO what’s the plan?”

“You and Kokage can stay out here and stand guard. The rest of us are going to scout out inside that place and hopefully help the others find our new enemy.” Ayala commanded before storming off to the entrance.

“That is Sirius Fulmaren’s Laboratory,” Kokage finally admitted. “At its best it an unpredictable hive of wretched magic and chaotic technology. The wisest course would be to seal it off and let the forest consume so no one can ever be exposed to its contents.”

“And you’re an expert on this place all the sudden?” Ayala inquired her temper still unabated.

Kokage was still unwilling to full explain his role in the current situation, “Not all the sudden, no. There are merely few others still alive familiar with that lab.”

“Fine,” she snapped, “Then either guide us through or shut up.”

Kokage sighed heavily before finally relating and leading the others into the crumbling castle of chaos.

The group trekked through the twisted corridors doing their best to avoid any strange seeping liquids or sparks of unknown energies that permeated the unstable structure.

“Remember, this place is likely filled with all manner of hidden rooms, passages, and traps that only Sirius Fulmaren likely knew about. Be careful where you step and what you place your hand on.” Kokage once again warned, but as if to fulfill a prophecy, one of the solders fell through a hole in the floor the moment he finished speaking.

“Rick!” one of the others called out, “Are you ok?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. My ass broke the fall,” the private responded. “I could use some help getting out of here though. The hole in the ceiling is too high to reach.”

“Kokage do you think you can make a vine for him to climb up or something. Ayala asked but when she turned to face see saw nothing but a barrier of branches blocking the way forward. “Damn it Kokage, what are you doing?”

Kokage called out before the other side of the wooden wall, “Recovering the Sunrise Knight and the Shiekah Chief. You should collect your man and leave.”

“Damn you!” she yelled while punching the branch wall. “Brandon do you have any rope in that bag?”

“No,” the private answer apologetically, “it’s one of the many items Lt D’ren banned any company with working with Sergeant Megumi from having.”

The thought of Megumi’s hobbies made Ayala shutter for a moment. She’s had to forcefully rebuff more than a few passes the dominatrix had made at her the past few months.“Rick, is there anything down their can use as a ladder or a rope to throw up to use.”

The private looked around the room briefly but didn’t see anything of use, “No, nothing down here but some weird looking glass cages and a pile of burnt papers.”

“Ok, Oberon I need my spear, she said reaching out her hand so the fairy could return her weapon. Jon, think you can grab my legs and lower me down? In the meantime, Robert, see if you can’t hack through those branches. ” 

“What’s this?” Rick whispered to himself as he noticed a few pages in near the pile that at least partially survived fiery destruction. “‘It does appear that the artificial limb is subject to the same transformative effect as the full bodies I created for the Ma when exposed to their demonic energy. The effect is subdued however I suspect that’s a result of the individual Ma’s level of self control.’ What the hell is this?” Rick suddenly noticed Ayala being lowered down to help them and quickly hid away the remaining documents in his bag before anyone else could see.

--

Kokage made his way through the lab, searching for the remaining two Light Warriors. He heard a familiar voice echoing though the corridors and decided follow the sound to his source. He knew it had to be some kind of trick, or at least he hoped. After all as much as he wanted to believe there was no way Sirius could still be alive he had long since learned never to take anything for granted with that man.

He arrived in the chamber the voice was coming from just in time to see the recording Sirius had left behind end. He felt a brief bit of relief and the small window of doubt he had felt was finally lifted, but that momentary comfort quickly vanished when he noticed the others who were present.

"What the hell is all of this?" Darrel called out while reading his famous blade.

“That is Sirius Fulmaren proving just how dangerous he was. Even in death he has a plot in motion.”

Morton, Lab, Day 1

The room had quickly filled up with uninvited guests. Darrel alone might have been worth sticking around for a fight, but as he often did, Kokage showed up and put a damper on an otherwise manageable and happy situation.

“Kokage, it’s so pleasant to see you. I’ll just keep talking to make you more familiar and comfortable. It’s been a wild ride, these past few hours. First I wake up dead, then I find I can’t access Sirius’ memories, but oh don’t worry, just being in this place is like channeling everything that was ever wrong with that man’s wit and way of thinking. So now I’m remembering a whole lot more, even if it means sounding like that wretched corpse.” Morton shifted back and forth from humanoid to Garo form, ending on humanoid, with his face twisted around in such a way to mock Kokage’s own visage. “You killed me, great guardian. I still don’t know why that idiot Fulmaren let you do it. But I know he had a plan, as you so wisely stated. I don’t mean to say I’m unhappy to be dead - undead. After all-”

Morton stepped forward, and the room, having become very dimly lit while Morton spoke, exploded into strikes of lightning, but very small ones. They struck the broken magick machinery, bouncing around into the floors and walls. Thick swirling miniature stormclouds wrapped around Morton’s arms like snakes. The lightning popped and hissed, giving a dreading sense of life to the lifeless energy of the storm.

He thrust out an arm and the lightning snapped like the snake it resembled. Morton's stature swelled outward, a subtle but very real aura of darkness gently pulsing from his body, like ripples on a pond.

“The longer I inhabit that fools body, the more I understand how the witch Rhunerys ever took it from me. My powers grow, and soon my full self shall return. And when that happens, there will be no need for speeches and stalling.” Morton thrust his arms out, simultaneously releasing the faux-lightning snakes and switching to Garo form, rushing away as the combined dust and stormclouds blocked sight of him. In the time it took to put on his little show, he had managed to decipher enough of Sirius’ memories to know a very dangerous, but very fast way out of the lab and back to the forest. He followed it without a seconds hesitation, and within moments was outside the walls of the lab, jumping through the treetops of the marvelously real looking forest, certain that he would not be pursued. Those warriors would have other matters to attend to in times of war. Morton would have his chance to return.

DIVERGES HERE. Read on for Darrel and Co., or click Foresight P#46 to continue with Morton.

Darrel Mytura, Fulmaren Laboratory, Day One

Dumbfounded, struck by a sudden uncertainty bolstered by conflicted desires, Darrel watched the show of storm clouds, darkness, and snapping, coruscating lightning, even as it obscured this inner section of the laboratory and allowed the figure who called himself Morton Waypost vanish through passages that he could not see.

Or was it Sirius Fulmaren? That single question caused him to round on Kokage even as the shroud of concealment began to fade.

"What have you done here, Kokage?" he demanded, feeling the rage and anguish of a fellow Light Warrior's murder burgeon in his chest once more. It was strange that the loss would affect him so, given that he and Ithan had never been particularly close. Ithan had been... an ideal, a paragon of what the Light Warriors could and should be, intelligent, powerful, and ever well intentioned.

The muscles in his jaw flexed as he recalled the words spoken mere moments ago. Though he clearly was missing a part of this story, he knew what he needed to.

"I don't pretend to know all that much about Sirius Fulmaren outside of rumor and conjecture, but questionable as I've always heard he was, I've never heard that he was a murderer. Whatever your reason for killing him as that Morton fellow claims, it's clear you unleashed something worse. Something evil enough and powerful enough to kill someone I greatly admired."

He turned to face fully the forest guardian, even as his fingers trembled around the hilt of his sword, they gripped it so tight.

"I've spent too much time here already; I have a war to manage. Whatever Sirius, or Morton, has become, whatever your actions have unleashed here," he leaned in, "it's on you. Deal with it yourself." He drew in a deep breath and let it out in a heavy sigh. "You feel like filling us in on what we're missing here, come find our camp while we're still there. We'll listen. Otherwise, I'd prefer not to see your face until you've cleaned this shit up."

Without waiting for a reply, he spun on a heel and stormed out of the lab, seething as he went.

It was not a simple matter to make his way back out through the maze of corridors, but eventually he made his way back to the vestibule just inside the main entrance, where Jaden and the young man in strange armor were still standing, seemingly waiting.

He didn't both to stop, and struggled even to call back to the pair over his shoulder through gritted teeth as he swept through the door and out into the wood.

"It's time we were on our way back to camp, Jaden. We have an operation to prepare for." He paused for a moment in the doorway and looked back. The spirit aura shimmering around the young soldier was strange, but not without strength. "What do you say you put that armor of yours to use, friend? Where we're headed, there will be plenty of interlopers to go around."

Henreth Tammas, Laboratory Wreckage, Day One

"You won't regret this. Plenty of adventure to be had when you're with the likes of us."

'I look forward to it.' Henreth thought to himself in a dull tone, with a slight hint of sarcasm.

Before either can continue, Jaden turned his head towards some kind of a sound that he heard. Henreth was about to ask when Jaden waved his hand in a "follow me" fashion. The two of them proceeded to walk through some rooms and ended up in what looked to be a lobby of sorts to the building, with a nearby door leading outside. Henreth was willing to assume that the sounds were nothing but stones falling to the floor from the walls or roof as Jaden looked for whatever may have been the source.

Their waiting wasn't long as Darrel soon enough appeared from another doorway. He didn't seem to acknowledge their existence until he stopped in the doorway leading outside the building. Henreth wasn't sure whether to interpret the look on his face as one of anger or misery, but either way, he thought better than to ask, for the sake of not only avoiding any personal business, but also any potential hostility.

"It's time we were on our way back to camp, Jaden. We have an operation to prepare for." Darrel paused and looked back at Henreth for a moment. "What do you say you put that armor of yours to use, friend? Where we're headed, there will be plenty of interlopers to go around."

"The decision's has been made, I'll help. As long as whoever our enemy is doesn't rely too much on magic that is."

"Not a stickler for magic, are you?"

Henreth hesitated if only for a second, not wanting to reveal a big weakness to two strangers he doesn't know.

"Let's just say I paid for what ended up being a trade off and leave it at that."

Jaden and Darrel shared a glance with each other. They silently decided together that they'll ask later, they had more important matters to attend to. the both of them turned to leave with Henreth following. As they began to leave the building behind, Darrel turned to Henreth.

"The name's Darrel, what do they call you?"

"Henreth."

Jeskai, Southern Forest, Day 1

Jeskai had been able to move through the forest with relative ease once the telepathic noise died down. As he headed towards the crash sight, he gave some thought to the mental death scream. It had been Ithan, dying exactly the way he had told Jeskai he would, only originally he had said Lia would die too. But he heard no trace of her in his thoughts. If she had died, her mind would have also sent out a scream.

Jeskai struggled to recall everything Ithan had told him in the preceding years. With Ithan's death, some of the information felt faded, as if it had been stemming directly from Ithan’s mind. Without Lia or the rest of his clan around, he felt impaired, unable to fully recall the details of their many meetings.

It was a growing stress, abated slightly when he encountered other life forms. The distraction refocused him away from thoughts of Ithan, only to bring them back in full force when he laid eyes upon Darrel, Jaden, and Henreth.

Ithan’s dying telepathic message raced through Jeskai’s brain.

(“Find the Kondoru. Do what has never been done. Convert the darkness to the purest of forms. Bring tranquility to chaos.”)

Jeskai realized the message had been echoing in his mind since Ithan’s dying scream hit him, but he just hadn’t properly processed it. Jeskai was the Kondoru Ithan told them to seek. These people would end up being allies. He already knew of them to a degree, forces for good defending Hyrule, attempting to reclaim that which was already lost.

Jeskai, aware of the uneasiness telepathy often brought, chose to introduce himself verbally.

“Hello strangers. My name is Jeskai Kondoru. I have some interest in joining your war effort, if you would have me.” He paused. “I am from a clan of Zora that lives off the coast of Holodrum, but we are affiliated with the man who made that burning wreckage back there.” Jeskai gestured back towards the crash site. “Sirius Fulmaren had and has a vested interest in stopping the creature that killed Ithan. That creature will be back, and it will take the force of more than one powerful being to stop him. I offer my support as an ally in war, if you would agree to turn our collective forces upon Morton when given the chance.”

Ayala, South Forest, Day 1

Ayala and the other crawled their way back out of the laboratory as the rapidly encroaching forest growth finally made progressing anything farther impossible for them.

"Let me guess, that tree guy is the one making all these plants grow so fast?" Crim asked despite already knowing the answer.

"Yeah I'm..." Ayala started to reply but seemed far too distracted by the conversation she could see the other two Light Warriors having with an unknown Zora. "Wait did he just say..?"

"Hey you, new guy," she yelled as she ran over to the other group. "Did you just say your name was Kondoru? There was this voice I heard on my way here. I-I think it was Ithan. He said I had to find someone named Kondoru and then some stuff I didn't understand. Are you the one I'm suppose to find, or does none of what I just said make sense and I just sound like a crazy person?" 

The Lonesome Treant, Southern Forest (Ten minute walk from the wreckage), Day One

Though many others had appeared at scene of its work, but the Treant paid little mind. Making a mental note to return to that strange, broken structure, the living tree walked on into the thick of the woods; Every step seeming to bring life to some sort of plant life under its feet as it went. It paused after walking for what felt like only a few minutes, hearing the sound of running water. It turned to look at origin of the sound, finding itself staring at a rather large trunk instead. 

A small creek appeared before the Treant as it walked past the tree that blocked its view. Its eyes looked down at the water, admiring its calm nature as its own reflection looked back. This part of the forest was among the few areas yet touched by war; A fact that it has to bear heavily each day. Death everywhere...Why must Treant be denied rest? Resting the body it carried in the grass, the tree creature stepped quietly into the creek, slowly bending over to rinse it's rooty hands of the dirt and blood that stained them. Finally, it sat down next to its lifeless companion before picking it back up to inspect it. The girl's limp form rested in the Treants hands as if it was sleeping soundly; If only that were the case. It caressed the girl's cheek softly with a thumb as it heavily sighed at the skies before closing its eyes for a nap.

Jaden Bryseis, Southern Forest, Day 1

Henreth seemed eager for some adventure, and they were certainly in the right place for it. They both followed Darrel from the ruins and back to the outdoors, where it seemed others were readily flocking to their number. He recognized the young woman from the Battle for Castle Town, but he did not recognize this new Zora. 

He did, however recognize the name Kondoru. Things were starting to make more sense now. And for fate to favor their side wasn't unwelcome at all.

Walking toward Jeskai, Jaden extended his hand. He nodded at Ayala as he moved forward.

"Jaden Bryseis, Sentinel of the Sheikah. You're right, Jeskai. Morton's a sneaky little git. And if you want some action in the meantime, Darrel and I have something great planned."

He turned his head to look at the suspected pathway back to camp, and saw the giant tree creature settle back into the scenery. Shrugging his shoulders, he grinned and started walking alongside the others.

"Little lady, I can't speak entirely for Jeskai here, but I heard Ithan too. Last name fits. No crazy people here."

Jeskai, Southern Woods Region, Day 1

"Hey you, new guy," Ayala yelled as she ran over to the other group. "Did you just say your name was Kondoru? There was this voice I heard on my way here. I-I think it was Ithan. He said I had to find someone named Kondoru and then some stuff I didn't understand. Are you the one I'm suppose to find, or does none of what I just said make sense and I just sound like a crazy person?"

Jeskai didn’t initially answer. He watched as Jaden approached as well. Both he and Ayala had heard Ithan’s message. They would be valuable allies in the mission to convert Ratnis. Before Jeskai could answer, Jaden offered his input.

"Little lady, I can't speak entirely for Jeskai here, but I heard Ithan too. Last name fits. No crazy people here."

“You are correct, I am of the Kondoru. Jeskai Kondoru.” Jeskai finally clarified for Ayala that her sanity remained intact. “The request I have made, to deal with Morton, and the message you have received from Ithan are two pieces of the same puzzle. As for exactly what his message meant, there’s a long version and a short version of this story. I can tell either one, but I understand that you all have a destination to get to, so perhaps this story can be told along the way.” Jeskai had some small sense of a possible future, leading up to the events later in the day, at the lake. But it was fuzzy, and he had relied on Ithan actively supporting his mind to see it. He didn’t want to risk giving away too much information until he was beyond any point of clairvoyance.


Crumbling Stability

Horus, Infirmary Tent, Day One

Horus' eyes snapped open as he returned to the land of consciousness. Clutching his head, the Rito screamed incoherently in agony and madness. It was too much, far too much to bear; He could feel it, his body was dying. His body was icy cold with sweat and his vision was blurring, both things that were impossible for someone of his kin; Something was wrong! He rolled off of the bed with a clumsy thud into the dirt below, ruffling and dirtying the feathers of his wings, along with scuffing his clothes and face. 

None of that mattered if he was going to be dead anyway; Those bastards that were holding him hostage in this prison disguised as a tent poisoned his water, he just knew it! Bloody Twili filth and their underhanded tricks and tactics for making a hostage talk...Well it wasn't going to be him that gave away his friends, no sir! He will sooner die than betray Hylia's children; Before he does, he will take some of those monochromatic freaks with him. Grabbing only his bow, clutching it like a club, Horus with superhuman quickness dashed past the sick and injured within the infirmary, roaring a mixture of a terrified scream and a battlecry. A HKSM member met him at the entrance, checking inside with a look of concern. He was met with a vicious crack in the head with the decorative goat string nock of Horus' bow.

"DIE TWILI FILTH! YOU'LL NEVER BREAK ME!!!" he cried with a voice of hysteria and rage.

Mere moments later, the rest of the Sword Marines were upon him. Horus' eyes darted between them wildly, trying to determine the best course of action against such numbers; There had to be four or five of them...Or twenty even! He shook violently, sweating profusely as he began to hyperventilate. Several of the soldiers surrounding him were raising their hands, trying to calm him with words whilst the others cautiously hovered a hand at their weapons. This motion alone decided Horus' next action as he lunged at one of the men who wasn't raising his hands.

"YOU! YOU WERE THE ONE WHO DID IT! I'LL KILL YOU DEAD!" He screamed at the man to his left, moving in high, but shifting low to catch him offguard, landing a hit on their calf. 

The others realized their attempts at diplomacy fell on deaf ears, drawing their weapons. Horus' wind powers moved him to kick the soldier to his right despite being several feet away. Despite the quickness and strength of his impact, the soldier caught his leg, throwing him to the ground and making him drop his bow. As soon as he met dirt, Horus frantically crawled back to his feet, reaching for his sword. A fist met his nose with a crunch as he realized his sword was gone, catching him off guard and leaving him dazed. 

The abuse only enraged him further as he returned the favor with a right hook, knocking the soldier whom had punched him on his ass. Jumping over him, Horus was returning to the soldier that he had given a charlie horse to. His hands were outstretched and his teeth were gritting so hard, his canine teeth were starting to creak. Before his intent to strangle could meet the soldier's neck, the others were able to overpower him, slamming him against a nearby tree. Another roar of rage was interrupted with another punch to the face within the hurricane of confusion that was his mind.

Several minutes passed before Horus opened his eyes again, gasping rapidly for breath as an acute cold washed over him. He looked up, realizing a soldier had dumped a bucket of water on him before dropping it next to him. He wanted to vomit, so he reached for the bucket...To realize he couldn't; The men whom were able to apprehend him had tied him to the tree, away from the others. A clearer head made him realize that this was for their safety, not his. Realization of his actions quickly and promptly washed over him.

"...Oh Goddesses..." He raspy whispered to himself as his heart dropped down into his gut.

CONTINUES ON Picking Up the Pieces P#52

Morton, Southern Forest Region, Day 1

(“Find the Kondoru. Do what has never been done. Convert the darkness to the purest of forms. Bring tranquility to chaos.”)

Morton was growing tired of the echoing thought. He needed his mental strength fully focused upon dredging up Sirius’ memories. The lab would certainly help with that, and with some of his storm powers returned, he could easily give the magic other worldly machinery the jolt that it needed to function.

But, for the moment, returning to the lab was not an option. He would have to distract himself until nightfall, and then make an attempt on re-entry. He grimaced, wishing that Davus Fulmen was still available as a tool of destruction. The unsullied pillar of evil had always been reliable, but Polaris Eridanus, the everlasting toy of war cultivated by Rhunerys, had seen fit to end the existence of Fulmen. Of course, at the time, Morton’s present puppet master, Ratnis, had managed to grab some of the disenchanted fragments of Davus’ soul, such that he could use them to recreate the thunder villain, birthing him into the cycle of the storm once more.

But Morton was certain there was more. Sirius had some knowledge of it. Not all of Davus was destroyed that day, some of it fused onto the essence of Polaris. It seems that since her meddling with the Zora eggs, and with the storm, Rhunerys had interlinked the fate of Polaris and Ratnis, down through each and every creature that was of his line.

He suddenly felt a heavy weight within his Garo robes, and reached within, pulling out a weathered notebook with a crescent moon on the front, and a solar eclipse on the back. Morton knew in an instant what the notebook was, assuming it had somehow been planted on him while in the lab.

But was the lab so advanced that it planted an object on Morton without him knowing? Perhaps…

He flipped it open to the first page, finding a picture of Sirius and Vera Fulmaren, frozen in a cheery wave. The second page showed Severa Fulmaren scowling, with the darkness of Davus Fulmen ejecting out of her body. The image guided story continued on the next page, showing Davus being absorbed into Polaris being. It continued on even further, but Morton grew disinterested in the continued history lesson.

“This….Is the Lunar Notebook. Still intact even after his death.” Morton paused. Sirius had used this notebook as a second mind. It was a dangerous object, seemingly impervious to standard methods of destruction. Morton tested that out, attempting to stab the notebook, but the blade cleanly passed through, as if the book were not there at all. He briefly pondered if Sirius’ old assistant, Bernard Kotaro, still resided. If he did, the Zora Spirit was not revealing his presence.

Morton remained uneasy about the notebook. He didn’t choose to pick it up, and given its blatant nature as a secondary brain, he knew that Sirius was working against him. As always, through life’s end, he remained focused on his work. His body commandeered by the dark Ma that fathered him, his home destroyed, his family scattered, and still the mad scientist did not relent.

He returned his gaze to the pages of the book, and with hesitance, turned the page. He saw words appear.

(“Hello, Ratnis.”)

Morton felt a rush of instructions on how to reply, and placed his hand onto the pages. As he spoke the words, ink splashed onto the pages, etching the words into the magical book.

“I am only a fragment of Ratnis, the rest remains locked away. But you can be assured, he will return in full force. I am Morton Waypost, the puppet master of Sirius Fulmaren’s corpse.”

(“Now, now, don’t brag. You are the temporary rentee of my body. A body that was killed, as its mind had already been transferred here, to the Lunar Notebook. Don’t you just LOVE learning what’s going on?”) The gleefulness in the notebooks words enraged Morton. This wasn’t just a part of Sirius, this was Sirius. Morton suddenly felt deeply paranoid.

More words appeared.

(“You were chained up in my lab. I had an old friend waiting to plant the notebook on you - don't worry about who. I’m sure you’re wondering - can he reclaim his body? The answer is, obviously, definitely, absolutely yes. Not right this moment, but you can bet on the fact that I always take back what is mine.”) The notebook suddenly became superheated, forcing Morton to try to drop it, but it stayed in his hands (“Puppet Master indeed.”)

Morton snarled in response and shut the book. He glanced at the sky, anxious for nightfall so he could return to the lab, and at last find a way to destroy this book, and Sirius.

CONTINUES ON In Ruins Wake Part I P#60


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