A Classic Pairing

Majin kept his head down and his hood, flimsy and immaterial, up as the pack of village guardsmen stalked past.

Hyrule had become overnight a different place, the very air itself was alive, electrified with tension that seemed to hum and vibrate as it settled over the land. People were nervous, even if most had no notion as to why, they could still feel that something was wrong.

Even in Kakariko Village, or perhaps especially there, the citizens were afraid. Their homes rested precariously at the foot of the harsh Death Mountain, that great smoking pillar of stone and fire wherein dwelt the typically affable but immeasurably powerful Gorons. Kakariko had become a hub of trade with the rock people, who had been far more accepting of the Hylians than their aquatic neighbors the Zora, but suddenly the Gorons had quite literally uprooted and left. The Hylians saw that as a very bad omen.

Majin pulled open the inn door and quickly crossed the common room to a booth near the back corner, encouraging the other patrons to ignore his presence. Most were already deep into the drink at this time, as if getting good and drunk was the most natural defense against fear and apprehension, and none noticed him enough to make problems. He slid into a booth, swiped a quick hand up to snuff the fire of the oil lamp, and luxuriated in the shadows.

He’d been relieved of the spoils of his invasion almost immediately upon his departure from Castle Town. His employer had been loathe to offer Majin the chance to betray him, which was foolish and unnecessary if the man had known anything at all about the Tokay he’d hired. Majin served his contracts faithfully, no matter what. A handshake and an agreement were as binding to him as anything.

He’d chosen not to be insulted, though, and had instead been happy to rid himself of the key. Stealing it had been all well and good, but if he’d been caught carrying it by any who had the inclination to search for it… It might have been very unpleasant. He’d gotten paid, and his employer had indicated that there might be more work for him in the future. All in all it had gone quite splendidly for Majin, even if he now had to keep his head down a bit more than usual.

A Hylian, one whom Majin had taken note of as soon as he entered, got up from his stool and tottered maladroitly over to the booth, sliding in across from the obscured Tokay. His bleary, cross-eyed smile and purple veined nose gave him a look of supreme unreliability, but Majin knew better than most that appearances were deceiving.

“Haldar.” He said with a slight nod of his head. The drunk man nodded back, but didn’t use his name. Good, he was sober enough for that, at least. The man had likely been here all night, reveling in a seemingly endless supply of ale.

“You made quite a mess.” Somewhat to Majin’s surprise the man, a professional informant and information broker, spoke with very little slur. “Looks like there’s going to be open war before long.”

Majin shrugged. “I suppose that was sort of the point, don’t you think? It tends to be the sort of thing that we assassins are good at.”

The man frowned, peering intently at him. “And that doesn’t bother you? A lot of folk are going to die ‘fore long.”

“I suppose so, but I don’t concern myself with all that. I do the jobs I’m paid for and I let the rest unfold as it will.”

Haldar, known in the underworld as the Pariah, shook his head, a sad look in his bloodshot eyes. “It’ll catch up to you eventually.” He took a breath, raised the ale mug he’d brought with him, and then wiped the corners of his mouth with his filthy sleeve. “Anyway, if you’re looking to get out of the country, the best route’s probably through the desert. The Gerudo probably won’t give you too much trouble; they look like they’re content to wait things out for now. The Zoras and Gorons are mobilizing though, and they’re paying close attention to their borders.”

It was more or less what he’d expected. Majin had already known that the Zoras would be the most aggressive when they received word of the theft, but the Gorons had a stake in the situation as well as wouldn’t be able to afford to ignore it.

“Fair enough.” Majin replied grimly, flicking a big red rupee to the Pariah, who accepted it gratefully. “Next one’s on me.”

A few minutes later he was back outside breathing deeply the cool air. With an escape route prepared for when he needed it, Majin headed out toward Hyrule Field, the broad grassy expanse upon which the young kingdom was built. He had a few other things to look in on before he withdrew.

Six feet tall, deep blue, and bearing a look of solemn certainty, Kaimu Kotaro marched his way along the coastline of Eastern Hyrule. Next to him lay the quiet east sea, beneath it the tattered remains of his isolated Zora clan, having been wiped out by a deadly plague. Kaimu himself was immune, a miraculous tragedy, giving him the terrible opportunity to avenge all of his fallen family members.

To the distant north, near the edge of his clan’s coastline sat a single cottage, barely held together after obvious signs of battle. Kaimu knew not of its origin, and had he not held the weight of his dead people on his shoulders, would have perhaps investigated further.

“I should have listened to you...” The dying words of Faralin Rato, Kaimu’s dearest and oldest friend. Mere hours before, Faralin had collapsed in his arms, the last of his Zora clan to succumb to the plague after many months of suffering. As he suffered through his memories, Kaimu felt a foreign object at his feet, and looked down, seeing it glinting in the sand. He picked up the object, brushing away the sand, revealing it to be a locket of sorts. Opening it up, he found nothing but a rolled up note.

“To my ever resilient Kotaro, your message has been lost for so long, but time doesn’t forget. I pray that you will keep this close to you until the moment is right.” Kaimu clutched the locket close to himself, certain of its importance, but not of its origin. His mind drifted to thoughts of younger days, when Fiora Ta - his life mate - had vanished on a journey to Labrynna. In the many days since, he had searched for her, but she seemed lost to history.

“It’s a seed, planted in your heart, destined to grow like a parasite, writhing its way into your soul, taking from you that which you are and twisting it into a demonic vision of hatred. I have seen dozens of men and women fall to it, face the darkness and fail. You think it makes you stronger, but you do not see it, your own descent into evil. You seek to help others for now because you fear where you might go if you ever stop. It cannot last forever, your noble journey shall end, as your fate eclipses your will.

As it did for the rest.”

It was as if he could not silence the memories. Kaimu recalled the words of the wizard Fulmen, a dark entity that had spoken of the evil in the hearts of all living beings. He had paradoxically repented in his last moments, claiming to be Ithan Chiaria, a young psychic defeated by Fulmen in his early life. And yet, Kaimu did not know if those parting words were those of the dark wizard or the apologetic boy.

Certainly the government of Labrynna saw no value to his repentance, for they executed the man, destroying the only living individual with knowledge of the plague that killed his people. Kaimu now carried the wizard’s gnarled wooden staff, praying that it would reveal its power and finally give him the answers he desired, putting his past behind him once and for all.

“You there, outsider.” An unfamiliar Zora stood at the edge of the forest, near an entrance to the inland Zora’s domain, a place where freshwater Zora’s lived under the reign of King Tiburon. He claimed leadership over all Zora of the land, but Kaimu’s clan had always operated independently, though respectful of his kingdom’s space. Since Zora’s were not physiologically adapted to salt or fresh water specifically, it had merely been politics that separated the Kotaro’s from the primary Zora kingdom.

“All due respect friend, but outsider is a term for one that steps foot on a stranger’s soil. This land is claimed by none, and sadly, inhabited by none.” Kaimu remained solemn, but was ever the professional, having learned in his old age that strangers do not often respect depression, seeing it as a sign of weakness.

“Are you of the Kotaro clan?” The inquiry of the Zora brought up a dark humor within Kaimu, and he could not resist the delirious smile brought to his face.

“I am the Kotaro clan. The rest are all dead, poisoned by a wizard that now too, is dead.” Kaimu’s tension eased slightly, realizing that this foreign Zora was little more than a messenger. It had been several years since his last communication with Tiburon or any of his kingdom. “What news do you bring?”

“None. I seek only the whereabouts of all Zoras. We shall likely speak again.” With those final parting words, the messenger Zora dove into the waters flowing from the west, and returned back towards Zora’s Domain.

His curiosity piqued, Kaimu walked westward towards Zora’s domain, but in true Zora fashion, the way river flowing from the rocky outcropping was barred by a magic force barely three feet off from the sandy beach.

Having visited Zora’s domain once before, Kaimu knew that the waterways spread across the land and turned instead to head towards Lake Floria, assuming there he would find an underwater entrance. Now heading southward down the coast, Kaimu could not help but shake the feeling that the strange Zora’s presence was a sign of changing times, that something very dark was coming to the land of Hyrule.

Kaimu initially began heading southward towards Lake Floria, but had spotted packs of wolfos far off, blocking his path. A deep pain rose in his chest, originating with the locket now hanging from his neck, and he felt compelled to turn around and head towards Kakariko instead. Being well suited to aquatic travel, he had returned to the water and maneuvered up and around Zora’s Domain, now finding himself halfway down Zora’s River. He rose from the water onto the shore to gain his bearings, and spotted a short man that was almost certainly a traveling salesman.

“Good day master Zora, can I interest you in any of my goods?” The man seemed to be a seller of general merchandize, carrying bottles, maps, and other such adventuring goods. Kaimu shook his head politely, as was the Hylian custom.

“I’m afraid I have no use for such objects. Would you perhaps know the latest news of the land though?”

“I’m afraid I don’t deal in information, if you seek knowledge, then you’d do best to continue down the river and enter Kakariko village.” It was evident to Kaimu that the man knew more than he was letting on. However, seeing as he had no need to pressure the man for information, he politely nodded once more and walked towards the river’s edge.

“Thank you for the honesty. I think you told me what I need to know.” Kaimu smiled cleverly, and dove into the water, swimming with haste westward, hoping to reach Hyrule field as quickly as possible. However, the moment his fins hit the water, the trinket hanging from his neck lit up brilliantly and began shrieking, debilitating Kaimu to the point that he could not control his body within the river's current. In a vicious turn of events, the water seemed to speed up and the staff he always carried on his person began to emit the same high pitched shriek. He began to smash into the rocks, his body getting heavily battered. In a matter of moments he was fired down to the end of the river and spat out violently onto Hyrule field. A massive tidal wave of water followed, and on instinct he fired off his electrical field, which conducted along the water and set off several small fires, all of which were instantly put out. Almost as if it never happened at all, the light emitted by his locket and staff faded, the water receded, and he was left sprawled out on Hyrule field, singed earth around him, with several trees having been knocked over. He remained conscious for only a few moments more, dragging himself into the shallowest part of Zora's River before falling into darkness.

Majin Kotage/Hyrule Field (Zora’s River Entrance)/Day 1

Majin had followed the road out of Kakariko into the sweeping plain that was the heart of the land, Hyrule Field. Had he chosen to turn west he might have retraced his hasty steps back to the gates of Hyrule Castle Town. Instead he’d turned left, following the river’s edge along rocky bluffs and around winding bends until it turned up into the mountainous country of the east.

Toward Zora’s Domain. He was reticent to put himself at the mercy of Tiburon’s auspices, but he had to see exactly what they were planning for himself. It was his way, if he couldn’t find someone to pay him for a job, he’d come up with one himself. If it yielded enough results he could sell what he found or took from the highest bidder. It wasn’t usually as lucrative as being contracted for a job, but it was a way to scratch out a living.

This, however, was not that. Majin had told the Pariah that it didn’t especially bother him that he was instrumental in starting what had the look of a long and bloody war. He’d been truthful, but he hadn’t over-shared either. He could shrug off a war, he supposed, so long as he knew the details. He hated being in the dark.

Well, in a manner of speaking.

He crested a rise and came upon a stretch of shallows where the river’s depth shrank to a trickle and paused, his wide reptilian mouth taking on a pensive frown.

A comatose Zora lay floating on his back in the shallows as gentle waves stirred up by the rocky bottom slapped against him, rocking him gently without disturbing him. He appeared to have been roughed by someone, or something; there was still a great deal about the flora and fauna of Hyrule that Majin did not know. Casting a critical eye over the scorched grass and smashed trees, he determined that he would rather not deal with whatever it was that the Zora’d been tussling with. 

Something was odd about this Zora though… He looked closer. There were differences, subtle differences, in the physiology as well as the culture of the Hyrulean and the coastal Zoras. This one looked more like a salt water fish, to Majin’s eye. And then his eyes opened wider, and he took in the pendant and the staff. It hit him; he knew this Zora. He and Kaimu had met years earlier when their separate marks ended up in cahoots, but he hadn’t seen the Zora in some years.

He stepped down into the water; if Kaimu was unconscious it would actually be detrimental to pull him onto dry land. Instead he walked up and, frowning slightly, began aggressively shaking the Zora to draw him from his stupor.

“Hey! Hey wake the hell up! Kaimu!”

Kaimu Kotaro

You will suffer eternally for your damnable acts you monster! I will hunt you to the ends of the earth, seek out your makers, and bring upon them the fury which you hath brought upon me! Even if I must seek you out for the next thousand years, across time and countless wars, my vengeance will not end!

Pitiful boy, your days of power and glory are already over! You are but a disgraceful shadow of your family name, and this vengeance you seek is nothing but terrified barks of a cornered wolf! I have defeated you, and in my own death I have gained an insight and power beyond that which you can comprehend!

Kaimu sat upon the rocks, the world around him a blue and black haze. Wisps of purple and yellow energy flitted about the air, almost as if in tune with the disembodied voices permeating his mind. The voices, though notably different, were curiously the same, one clearly that of the dark wizard Fulmen, and the other his supposed alter-ego of Chiaria, the boy defeated, consumed, and in his last moments, partially redeemed. Kaimu found himself smiling, thinking this to be his final resting place, a calm tranquil river where the voices of the lost flitted about, trapped in endless chaotic harmony.

“These are memories, aren’t they?” He mused to the watery darkness. The pendant around his neck began glowing again, this time a deep purple color. It seemed to be confirming his question. It was then that the pain started. Wrenching, tearing, mind-splitting pain. The staff in Kaimu’s right arm was forcibly fusing itself to him, sending streaks of purple and black into his skin. Horrifyingly, he realized he was watching his own body from the outside as his eyes yellowed, his face cracked, and the violent imagery of Zora’s and men alike being slaughtered - once adorning the staff - now became tattooed upon his body, emblazoned on his arms and legs.

Feel our suffering...

“Hey! Hey wake the hell up! Kaimu!” The pain stopped and Kaimu wrenched his eyes open. He was no longer sitting upon any rocks, no longer in a hazy world of shouting memories. Before him sat a creature quite familiar. A Tokay, once his ally, and now potentially the only living creature left he had a connection with. Yet, before he could muse further, the pain returned, his back arching in such a fashion that it must have appeared very nearly fatal to the Tokay. Screaming in agony, the pendant on Kaimu’s neck fused into his chest, searing a permanent dark black hue, spidering out in blue and purple streaks down his body. Small spikes, hardly enough to be dangerous, but certainly menacing in appearance tore out of his spine, and his fins took on a curvature so unnatural it would make the common Zora reel in disgust. And finally, the staff exploded in a thousand splinters, that same screeching voice from his mind releasing and flowing into his consciousness. He had no way of knowing if the Tokay, Majin, had heard it, or if it was merely all in his mind.

And the pain stopped once more. The staff was gone, but its energy now lay deep within his body, and the pendant had all but become a part of his very soul. The voices in his mind were louder than ever, but he could ignore them with ease. He realized darkly, once more, that he could very well be cursed with listening to the dying agony of both Fulmen and Chiaria for the remainder of his days.

“Majin...” Kaimu paused, for even his voice was different. Undulating, as if caught between the depths of the ocean, and the most twisted endless hallway from the nightmare’s of the demon lord himself. He took a deep breath, and it seemed to calm slightly, though it still felt as if he were somehow another being. He had but one question for his old acquaintance.

“Did you see that?”

Majin Kotage

The somewhat shell-shocked Tokay stood for a moment in shin deep water, blinking in surprise and confusion. He’d met Kaimu once years earlier, and had never seen anything quite like what he looked upon now. The Zora, who by oceanic Zora standards had been fairly average, now was a brutish thing with spines and bladed fins and slashing tattoos. The formed shadow of Majin’s cloak began seething a bit more turbulently.

“Uh… Kaimu, hello. That was… What exactly was that?”

Kaimu Kotaro

Kill! Murder! Tear his throat out! Show him no mercy, and bring upon him the shadow that he wields so arrogantly! Your transformation into darkness will be the end of all those that oppose you!

Kaimu felt the disembodied voice of Fulmen rattle in his brain, desperate for control. It was but an echo, a powerless memory. Rather than feel weakened and distracted by it, Kaimu’s resolve increased. He realized with great relief that his body was indeed stronger than before and deadlier, but he felt no magical energies or spirits guiding his mind, let alone his hand.

“Uh… Kaimu, hello. That was… What exactly was that?”

For the first time since before his clan had died, he smiled, for though he was not at peace, he had found his path.

“I don’t believe I have the appropriate words to describe to you what happened. I have been reborn, though I am still who I have always been. You may think me insane if I were to tell you what has truly happened to me.” His gaze turned towards Zora’s River. “I do not believe I would be so easily welcomed to the domain of my cousins, but nevertheless it is my destination. Where might your path be taking you? Perhaps the same way? I’ve always said that traveling is best done with allies, perhaps even friends.”

Majin Kotage

“Friend indeed, Kaimu old boy, friend indeed.” Majin contemplated for a moment the vicious looking Zora before him, more brute warrior than the genteel thinker that he’d seemed in days gone by. He had always been a fighter, in his way, but he had never had the appearance of a warrior in the manner that he did now. Then again, Majin conceded, he did not exactly look like his brethren either. Perhaps it didn’t really matter, so long as the mind was keen.

“I too am bound for the demesne of King Tiburon.” Majin answered, taking the winding trail up the waterway. Kaimu followed from the river, his blades slashing through the water like a shark’s dorsal fin. “I have some business matters there that need tending to, and I think that you overestimate the zeal of your cousins. The Zoras are in a state of high alert, certainly, but we are not the Hylian interlopers that they so revile.”

And after all, Majin thought inwardly, King Tiburon has been hoping for the chance I gave him since he ascended the Zora throne. He needn’t know of my involvement yet, but if it comes to it…

Kaimu Kotaro

I should have listened to you... Can we come to this spot together forever? Kaimu, you need to focus on being a leader, you don’t have time for silly dreams. Congratulations Kaimu, the newest born is of your line! ...I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.

You are weak, you are pathetic, you waste time on memories, you are not worthy of my strength!

“Kaimu.” Majin’s voice cut through Kaimu’s inner thoughts, smoothly returning him to reality. He looked around, seeing that he now stood at the entrance to Zora’s Domain. He had been here once before, some thirty years prior. It had all been part of his coming of age ceremony, long before he became an elder. He had not spoken a word when there, and knew not if anyone in the domain would even recognize him. They would certainly have difficulty seeing who he was now versus mere hours before.

“Majin I was contacted by an emissary from the domain before coming here. Of course that was before my...changes. As you say, the Zora’s will not view us as a threat the way they see the Hylians. However, I would be surprised if our combined presence did not cause at least some tension.” Majin had only silence for Kaimu, but in that silence Kaimu received all the answers he needed. “Shall we?”

Better Than Aquaman

King Tiburon/Zora’s Domain/Day 1

The Zora laid out on the stone slab before King Tiburon was unlike any he’d known. His scales had a reddish hue, and he carried a blade like unto no weapon he’d ever beheld. The funereal tattoos inscribed all over his scaly flesh were familiar, though done in a more intricate and refined pattern than was his people’s custom.

Contrary to the ink inscribed on the Zora’s flesh, however, this one was not dead.

He looked to the fierce Zora warriors standing opposite the bier from him. Neither one had been able to tell him where this strange Zora had come from or how he’d penetrated so deep into their domain without being accounted for. That troubled him, and with the inconsistencies in this creature’s tattoos and the gleaming weapon he bore, the King couldn’t help but let his suspicious nature take over as whispers of ‘assassin’ began to creep into his thoughts.

“Chain him.”

More of his warriors approached with clinking manacles and wound them tightly around the unconscious figure. Once secured, Tiburon felt a great deal more comfortable in his position. Still, there was something about him…

“His weapon, bring it here to me.” One of his warriors reverently lifted the blade away from the unconscious Zora and held it aloft in upturned palms for King Tiburon to lift away. He turned it over in his hands for several seconds, considering it. Beautiful work, by anyone’s estimation.

As the King touched the blade, though, the secured Zora shook and groaned, straining somnolently against his bonds. A shred of consciousness must have slipped in, then, as he found that he could not move as he desired. King Tiburon watched from above as frustration gave rise to a sudden burst of awareness. The Zora blinked several times, looking around and then down at the chains that held him, then finally up to the Zora King’s intent but cagey eyes.

“Welcome back to the waking world, Friend Zora.” He said affably, as though he did not have the Zora bound in chains. “You’ll forgive my precautions but you have appeared in the midst of very… special circumstances. I do not know who you are or from where you hail, but it might behoove you to speak quickly.”

Polaris Eridanus

The first thing Polaris noticed was his head. It ached like he'd been drug behind a raging Twinmold through all seven hells and back. It wasn't until he went to rub his temple to ease the throb that he noticed the chains and the people looking down on him. After a moment, the most richly ornamented spoke. 

“Welcome back to the waking world, Friend Zora. You’ll forgive my precautions but you have appeared in the midst of very… special circumstances. I do not know who you are or from where you hail, but it might behoove you to speak quickly.”

Have I really been gone so long that they no longer recognize my face? If he was going to be taken captive, not being recognized made the situation a hairsbreadth better he supposed. Polaris' tongue was thick and slow to react as he transferred thought to spoken word. "You would have my name? I shall give it. I am Polaris Eridanus, the Red Ice General some have dubbed me, and others freak, abomination and many more unsavory things beside."

The Zora who posed the question seemed little affected by his name, and when he offered no response, Polaris heaved a sigh and plowed on, "There was a time once, when I called this very domain home, but that was before. Since, I've travelled far and wide, the rumblings of war have sped my footsteps home friend."

Fidgeting with the bindings that held him to the stone slab Polaris briefly considered freeing himself, the slab reminded him way too much of the one that was to be his pyre. Instead he added,"Not to be discourteous because I understand the need for precaution all to well and fault you naught. All the same I gave you my name, now I would have yours...also, I find that this jewelry"Polaris rattled the chains lightly for effect, "with which you've so graciously adorned me ill fitting and not quite my style.

After all, we have a war to wage against those thrice damned interlopers."

King Tiburon

King Tiburon leaned forward as he sat, peering curiously at the Zora before him. The plea to be released from his bonds was anticipated, and Tiburon was well prepared for it. The rest, however…

“I am Tiburon, King of Zora’s Domain. I must say there has, to my knowledge, been no Zora of note who went by those names. The Eridanus line is middle class at best; there is little value in them, save perhaps for cannon fodder.” Tiburon turned the blade over again in his hands, inspecting it, searching for flaws and finding none. He met the red Zora’s eyes again. “I would prefer to leave the chains on, for now, at least until we’ve gotten a chance to understand one another better.”

There was one thing that he would guard against at all times, and that was assassins. Some of the most influential of his ancestors had been murdered, and he meant to be a leader of influence himself; the Zora who threw off the shackles binding them to the Hylian interlopers. He knew that making it happen would be a bloody struggle in the end, and that hard choices made kings unpopular. He needed to be careful, needed to guard against assassins and thieves at all times.

A furtive glance to the guards posted around the room reassured him.

“I am interested in your tattoos, Master Polaris.” Tiburon said conversationally. “They appear very much like my people’s funeral tattoos, but I’ve never seen ones quite as intricate as yours. It’s as though someone got very close to the right patterns, but embellished or couldn’t recall how to draw them exactly.

“Couple that with this majestic weapon,” he said, holding the finely wrought blade aloft, “and you must understand how suspect I find your appearance in our midst.”

Tiburon would get to talk of war in good time, but for the time being he had other things he needed to know.

Polaris Eridanus

King Tiburon? Who the bloody hell was this mad man? There hasn't been a King Tiburon in all of the long centuries of my life! Polaris narrowed his eyes at the false king and his slight against Polaris' honor, for the briefest of moments a chill draft went through the chamber before the crimson scaled zora could bring himself under control.

"King you say? And yet you've no idea who I am? How pleasant. The tattoos came in the same fashion that they always do. I died, my family adorned me with the markings of the Eridanus line and all that jazz. I didn't stay dead. The sword is mine. Left to me by my father. "

Polaris turned to better face his captor and stared him down. It wouldn't be out of the question for this man to be a king, he definitely looked like one, yet...he sure as hell wasn't king yesterday..."I told you why I was in your midst. War. There's to be war and a damn big one from the looks of it. I figured I could be of use, but if not. Give me my sword and I'll be on my merry way."

It loomed in the air more like an ultimatum than he'd intended it to be, so casually Polaris asked, "How'd you manage to get rid of all the ice? Not many people could manage that task, well aside of myself of course."

King Tiburon

Tiburon cocked an eyebrow. “Ice?” He looked around the audience chamber, seeing nothing but cool water flowing freely over smooth rock. “I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.”

The more he spoke with this peculiar red, tattooed Zora, the more he found him puzzling. He was beginning to suspect, however, that this Polaris Eridanus meant no immediate harm. He had guards enough to protect him in the event that he was wrong, but Tiburon had not become the King he was today by being a bad judge of character. He could see his own confusion mirrored in the eyes of his findling.

He snapped a finger toward one of his soldiers and pointed at the chained Zora. “Unchain him.” His eyes then went to Polaris’ own, holding them with his regal stare. “I do this as a gesture of good faith, for though you and I seem unable to satiate one another’s curiosity, you are still a Zora and thus for the time being I will grant you my trust.

“As to the war you seem so eager to help us wage, I would be most interested to hear your thoughts… General.”

Polaris Eridanus

The clanking of the chains as they fell away was like a sweet music unto his ears as Polaris stood, stretched and began to rub at his wrists where the cold steel manacles had bound him and silently he thanked the Goddesses that the situation hadn't come to blows. The more he was with this King Tiburon, the more Polaris found he liked the man. That he wanted to believe the man a king. Inclining his head towards the king, Polaris gave a small bow. "You are most kind Your Grace, I'll not forget nor betray this gift you've bestowed upon me."

Polaris took stock of the men surrounding the king, he didn't know a one of them, yet they all looked to be hard men. A look could not prove goodness nor honesty, but they had those looks about them as well. He found himself less disturbed than before about the situation. The removal of fetters will do that for a man he'd learned.

"I can't begin to fathom how you know naught of the ice that blanketed this part of the realm when it covered the vast majority of this province spreading icy tendrils from the river outside Hyrule Castle Town up the waterfall and through our domain and yet...mayhaps I was beneath the waterfall for longer than I imagined..."

Time was constant. Except for when it wasn't. On more than one occasion the flow of time had been skewed or altered when he was in the presence of that old crone...could she have had something to do with this? The notion seemed too foolish to even mention, yet...

"My thoughts on the war...if you'll permit me to speak freely, Your Grace," King Tiburon offered Polaris his sword, still in the scabbard, and inclined his head in response. Accepting the blade, Polaris smiled and then continued. "Remembrance needs be given to these Interlopers, let them know upon whose lands and waterways they trespass. This land is ours. These waters, especially are ours. It's for this reason that I would dispatch battalions to both of the great lakes in this land to hold our garrisons there and set patrols upon the rivers in the field and dam up those that would feed into their camps and provide nourishment for their soldiers. Hone the edges of the spear for striking, but keep it in thine chosen hands until the hour is ripe and then strike at the heart. This, is what I would do."

A sudden rush of excitement washed over the aged General, and paying no heed to the situation he drew his blade causing the guards to tense and reach for their weapons. "Do not fret brothers, I mean no harm." Polaris returned his attention to King Tiburon and shifted the sword so that the flat of the blade lay across his palms and he kneeled laying the weapon at Tiburon's feet. "From the depths of the deepest hell to the peak of the highest mountain in the north, I pledge myself, my blade Winters Tide," The blade shivered and a fine layer of hoarfrost spread from tip to crossguard at the speaking of its name."And my ice" Polaris turned one of his palms upward and jagged spikes of cold hungry crimson sprouted up from his palm."To your name and your cause. Like the winds of winter that come howling from the north I vow to fall upon your enemies with all of the might and fury of the tides of winter if you'll have King."

King Tiburon/Zora's Domain/Day 1

To say that Tiburon was taken aback by the display of fealty would be an understatement. There was something quite… grand about this Polaris Eridanus. There was a force of presence about him that Tiburon had seldom known before. He finally put a word to something that he’d been detecting since the Red Ice General had awoken: integrity. He could use that, in his present circumstances.

“Yes, I will have you, General Polaris, and all that comes with you.”

A minor functionary entered the audience chamber then, approaching Tiburon and whispering in his ear. His sudden victorious grin slowly turned to a frown. He directed a questioning stare at the official.

“What do they want?”

The functionary only shrugged. “They didn’t say.”

“Very well, bring them in.” The Zora bowed and departed, and Tiburon sought the Red Ice General’s eyes. “It may be soon that I must put your skills to the test, General. More visitors have come upon my domain and there can be no certainty yet what they desire. If they should prove useful then I will seek to attain their loyalty, but if they are dangerous, if they seek to accomplish the things I feared from you… I may require your mighty blade after all.”

As the two newcomers were led into the audience chamber flanked by armed Zora guards, Tiburon found himself again surprised by their outward appearance. One was a Tokay, slightly taller than his brethren, from what Tiburon knew of their tribes, and somewhat heartier looking. He was draped in a peculiar looking black cloak that never seemed to rustle of flap in the wind.

The other was a vicious looking Zora, as deep blue as Polaris was red, and covered in slashing tattoos over its body. They were not the same as Polaris’ own, but they were extensive. It was the fins, though, that were most striking. They were wicked looking bladed fins like Tiburon had never seen before. All Zoras had sharp fins, but these ones looked especially lethal.

“You have come upon the realm of the Zoras unbidden.” Tiburon declared in a clear, peremptory tone, looking down upon the strange pair from his ledge. “What business have you in my domain?”

Majin Kotage

Majin cast a critical eye over the soldiers flanking his and his Zora compatriot. The guards on either side of the pair were not overly exotic, typical Zoras with bladed spears and grim expressions on their faces. They would be dogged, but not overly challenging if it came to it.

The red scaled Zora who had taken up a place beside the King, however, appeared somewhat more dangerous. His funereal tattoos covered much of his body and the blade he bore was spectacular, perhaps the finest blade that Majin had ever laid eyes upon, and he had crept through the palaces of kings and nobles for many years now, pilfering from their treasuries and robbing their officers blind.

But they had to deal with the King first, lest they find out all too soon what this peculiar red Zora was capable of. He knew that what he’d done in Hyrule Castle Town had spurred a sequence of events that could unfold quickly and uncontrollably, and he meant to be on hand when things came to a head. Call it a function of the job, perhaps, but he needed to know.

Majin bowed his head respectfully to King Tiburon. “You will forgive you, your Majesty, if our appearance has given you pause for concern. I am a long way from home just now and I fear that matters in this land have grown quite turbulent. I seek the security of a people I can trust, and the Tokay of Labrynna have always had good relations with your cousins there.

“If you will permit me, I am quite skilled and would be honored to act under your auspices as your agent in these troubled times.” He bent to one knee in the customary way, then looked up. “I will not deign to speak for my companion, but despite his fearsome appearance you may yet know him, or at least of him.”

As Majin climbed back up to his feet, he turned his head to see what Kaimu would have to say.

Kaimu Kotaro

You would seek an alliance with that which you despise?

Kaimu felt Fulmen’s words floating in his mind, challenging his resolve, forcing up the troubled relationship between Kaimu’s deceased clan and King Tiburon’s domain. For a brief moment, Kaimu felt nothing but animosity towards the King, having no personal quarrel, but also standing very much opposed to the concept of a King. Yet, his violent outward appearance only encouraged him to maintain a peaceful demeanor.

“Your majesty.” Kaimu bowed before Tiburon. “Not long ago, one of your messengers tracked me down on the shores of my clan. As he no doubt has informed you, my clan is dead, choked by a dark plague at the hands of a now dead wizard. It is no secret that my clan long resisted becoming a part of your domain, despite the opportunity once existing long ago.” Tiburon remained silent, eyeing Kaimu’s fins every so closely. “But it is your domain that sent a messenger to find me. I can only assume that a great change is coming, or a great threat - perhaps both. I cannot bring my clan back, but I am convinced that the man responsible for their death is but a small part of a greater evil. I must see justice brought upon this evil, and so I now offer my services as your soldier” Kaimu bowed once more. “If you will have me.”

King Tiburon

A notion occurred to the youthful King Zora almost immediately.

The Zora were unquestionably the oldest and most noble of the races of what the skydwellers had come to call ‘Hyrule’. However, for all that they were without doubt the strongest and wisest tribe in the land, the Hylians multiplied like land dwelling vermin and could perhaps overwhelm the Zoras if they could force a confrontation on solid ground.

Zora relations with the Gorons of their cavernous mountain city in Death Mountain were not bad, but they were not especially firm either. The two tribes had rarely had any interest in one another. One dwelt beneath the rocky mountainside growing their bomb flowers and striving to herd the wild dodongos that inhabited their volcanic lands. The other left the land behind entirely as often as possible, swimming and diving in the cool blue waters of the realm’s rivers and lakes. What were they to one another?

Now though, King Tiburon could see the value in extending an olive branch to the Gorons of the mountain, and he had before him the perfect envoy. After all, if the Gorons chose to accept their advances in poor fashion, would it not be better to keep the people of his realm from harm, first and foremost? These three newcomers were not of his tribe, at least, not in any way that he was aware of, and they had offered him their services.

King Tiburon was suddenly smiling.

“This has been a most fortuitous day for the Zoras, my friends. It seems that fate itself bends backward to serve our ends. I will accept your services, and I have my first task for you.” He looked from the dark blue Zora and the Tokay to Polaris’ red scaled face. “You will join in this mission as well, General, if you don’t mind overmuch. It occurs to me that such a sensitive task may require strength of arms before it reaches its conclusion, and I’m sure you can bring much of that to the team.

“I need for you three to travel north and to ascend the treacherous trails up Death Mountain to Goron City. The shadow of war lies heavily upon this land, and the Zoras will need to make allies of the Gorons in the event that the tide turns against us. The Hylians are not as ancient or wise as we Zora are, but they are many and they are possessed of a particularly virulent ingenuity.”

Tiburon breathed a sigh, considering that darkly. He knew that the Hylians would not be removed from their ancestral territories without blood. Some of his advisers called it xenophobia, but many others saw what he saw. The Hylians were a blight upon a land that did not belong to them. The Gorons had to feel the same way, after all, they too had persisted while the Hylians had fled to the sky.

“Bring me the Gorons, and your rewards will be significant.”

Polaris Eridanus

Polaris silently retrieved his sword belt and stepped to the kings side fastening the belt about his waist as he did so. 

The two newcomers were ushered into the chamber flanked by Zora guardsman, the first a Tokay draped in a most peculiar black cloak that seemed more darkness than fabric so deep was the midnight of it's thread. The second was a vicious looking Zora with deep dark blues and purple spider webbing along his scales and a pair of wicked looking fins that would make any man wary. 

King Tiburon weighed the treaties both men made and deemed them worthy of his royal services. All throughout the process, the General stood unmoving at his side. Service was something that had been ingrained upon his very being long ago and it still came easy to him after all the centuries in exile. 

“You will join in this mission as well, General, if you don’t mind overmuch. It occurs to me that such a sensitive task may require strength of arms before it reaches its conclusion, and I’m sure you can bring much of that to the team."

Polaris nodded his assent and perked up his ears. He'd been immobile for far too long and was eager to get back to action. 

“I need for you three to travel north and to ascend the treacherous trails up Death Mountain to Goron City. The shadow of war lies heavily upon this land, and the Zoras will need to make allies of the Gorons in the event that the tide turns against us. The Hylians are not as ancient or wise as we Zora are, but they are many and they are possessed of a particularly virulent ingenuity.”

Polaris' face remained immovable as stone as King Tiburons words washed over him masking the shock as well as any man. The Hylians? When was it that they became the enemy? In the grand scheme of things it made no difference. He'd sworn himself to this king and his honor bound him to service. Besides, for all he was to himself and the denizens of Hyrule, he was Zora foremost. If it came to it, this would not be the first time he'd taken up arms against them, nor would it be the last. 

“Bring me the Gorons, and your rewards will be significant.”

"My liege, if it's the Goron's you want, it's them you shall have. This much I swear." Stepping forward to greet his new companions, Polaris' cold visage remained impassive save for the beginnings of a smile that bent the corners of his mouth. 

"Hail fellows, well met. It would seem that the king has set a task upon us. I am Polaris Eridanus."

So It Begins

Kaimu Kotaro

Kaimu paused and mused on the name for a moment. In all his time in Hyrule, Kaimu had many dealings with other Zora clans, and Eridanus was no stranger to him. But it was not a warrior’s name, filling his mind with little more than the image of humble fisherman Zora’s. While curious, it did not raise suspicions, Zora’s were a well traveled people, and it was not uncommon to encounter a previously unknown clan. What did raise his suspicions, however, were the funeral tattoo’s adorning Eridanus’s body, a sign of death, and yet he stood before Kaimu and Majin very much alive.

“And what might I call you two?”

“I am Kaimu, of the Kotaro line, last of my clan, whom were struck down by a dark wizard known as Fulmen.” Kaimu motioned towards Majin. “And this is my ally Majin. I see plenty of time in our future for conversation, but the day is already growing late and I would like to set out while we still can.”

“Agreed.” Spoke Majin.

“Very well, let us depart.” The three recruits gave one last show of respect to Tiburon before departing his domain. Emerging to see the sun beginning its slow descent, Kaimu readied himself for the journey downstream, his very recent transformation flooding his memories.

“If we swim downstream, we can set up camp at the bottom of the river. At first sunlight we should set out for Kakariko, unless you object?” Kaimu received no response from either ally. “Very well, let’s depart.” With those final words Kaimu dove into the water, hearing Majin and Eridanus following close behind.

Majin Kotage/Zora's River/Day 1

“Don’t you just love how he takes charge?” Majin asked of Polaris with a sardonic grin on his broad, reptilian mouth. “Still…”

Majin drew a breath, then hurled himself over the edge and jack knifed into the rushing waters of the upper river after his ally. He had to use what limited water magic he possessed to cover the items on his belts with small pockets of air to keep them dry, and so instead of propelling himself forward in that way Majin resorted to the natural swimming style of his people, on his belly, undulating through the water using his tail to power him forward, his hands and feet kicking when necessary. It was not so fast as his fish compatriots, but it was effective.

The journey down out of the elevated region of Zora’s Domain went faster than usual with the current carrying them more than anything else. All the while as the walls of rock all around them opened up into the sprawling expanse of Hyrule Field, the sun began its final descent toward the western horizon. After a while Majin caught up to his allies, who had made even better time than he had with their advantages, and grasped the bank of the river to hoist himself out.

He grimaced as he looked himself over. He’d had to discard his formed shadow when he dove into the water, letting all of that pilfered shadow return to where it belonged. It wasn’t nearly as effective in the water and he couldn’t do very much with his water magic abilities while he was carrying so much. He felt oddly naked without his cloak of formed shadow, and his hands lingered perpetually near the now exposed hilts of his butterfly swords as he looked around the area where they would camp.

“It’s going to take me all night to replace it all.” He groaned, realizing that the night wouldn’t likely be as restful as he’d hoped. He looked to the others. “I don’t know about you two, but I prefer to sleep on solid ground.”

Polaris Eridanus

“Don’t you just love how he takes charge? Still…”

As his newfound companions leapt into the river, Polaris just shrugged and followed after them. Surging down along the currents Polaris could feel the temperature of the stream dropping around his frigid aura. As he went, the days events were weighing heavily on his mind. At first glance one would think he'd woken up in an entirely different world. The lands that were frozen tundra just 24 hours ago were a lush green and the water was cool, as it always was when he swam, but not overly cool and most likely it was much warmer before he jumped in. It was a fine warm evening in the land of Hyrule and that didn't line up with how he knew things should be.

Then there was the matter of the Zora King, Tiburon was a cautious man, but just in his rulings so far. did he become king without Polaris knowing? Surely even an exile like himself would've heard news of the crowning. With castle town ravaged by war it was a bold move for the Goron's and Zora to band together and strike a blow at the Hylian crown. Such an action could alter the entire hierarchy of the land. 

It was a good feeling though, being welcomed back into the service of the king, his true king. If this is another test, a ploy by that witch..

The witch was dead, he'd seen the old crone pass before his very eyes, yet the possibility of her casting one final spell to send him reeling was distinct. Resolving to make due with what, and more importantly where he was, was all that the general could do.

Rising from the water Polaris surveyed the land, not a trace of the war remained to be seen, in the distance the walls of the city stood tall and proud where once lay a smoking ruin. Out in the field where bodies had lain strewn about there was naught but a sea of green grass dancing in the wind. No carrion crows circled above, the only birds chirped in the relative safety of the their tall proud trees. Trees that'd been chopped down to build siege engines and rams, ladders and trebuchets. All of this only strengthened a growing suspicion...

“I don’t know about you two, but I prefer to sleep on solid ground.”

Broken from thought, Polaris turned to his Tokay comrade and nodded, "Aye, dry land for me as well. The river creatures wouldn't appreciate it overmuch were I to remain in their stream for long."

Something Kaimu had said earlier was gnawing at him just now though. "Kaimu, that name you mentioned, Fulmen was it? As in Fulmen the Feared?"

Kaimu Kotaro

Kaimu stared at Polaris, unsure of just what his relationship with this Fulmen had been. He maintained his gaze just long enough to instill discomfort in his newfound ally.

“Polaris, I get a feeling from you that I cannot describe. You are here before me, but my mind tells me that you should not be. Truth be told, I have my own struggles within that might very well label me as insane. But...” Kaimu now sat upon the edge of the river, his lower half beneath its surface while Majin and Polaris made camp on the shore. “I am avoiding your question, I apologize. This form I hold now, this beast I have become is the doing of Fulmen, I am certain. I do not know him by any such title as the Feared, but it is most fitting of him."

“Fulmen perished by the hands of the Labrynnian Government, there are none alive who should still fear him.” Majin added.

"Perished? No, that cannot be...” Polaris stopped himself before continuing, as if he knew more than he was letting on. “Please continue.”

“I first met Fulmen in Labrynna, where I also first met Majin. We defeated him during a scheme to overtake the Labrynnian Government, and in his last moments he tried to repent. He claimed to be a young man by the name of Ithan, under the control of Fulmen. I am embarrassed to say I even believed him, as he promised that his own magic staff might cure my people.”

“He is not a creature to be trusted.” Polaris spoke with a calm, but clear hatred, a clear indication he had met this man.

“As Majin said, he was executed by the government officials he tried to deceive, they were uninterested in his repentance. I was offered his staff, and took it, blindly hoping for a cure, but when I returned home it was too late.” Kaimu paused, realizing that he was placing a large amount of trust in a Zora he had known for a very brief time. He knew, deep within, that it was because he had no other and desperately needed others to hear his story. Though the gnawing pain pushed him to continue to talk, he realized the danger in revealing the voices within, and cautiously left those details out.

“Where is this staff now?” Polaris inquired.

“Gone. Just yesterday I experienced an event beyond my control. The river became wild as if alive with rage and shattered the staff. The scars from the event our self evident - this form of mine is very recent...I am still trying to understand what happened. But Fulmen is dead, that much is sure. And now my friends, it is time for rest. I shall travel alongside you again in the morning.”

Zora’s River did not run deep, so Kaimu found it difficult to locate a spot where he could comfortably rest beneath the surface. He was not far from his allies, but distant enough that he was able to finally peer into his mind, converse with the voices within.

“What is the nature of your existence.” Kaimu spoke aloud, concerned that his sanity would be in question should he keep the interaction totally internalized. At first, he felt no response, for the briefest of moments entertaining the idea that there were no other voices, that it had been the product of stress and grief.

He is resting now, Zora.

“Are you Ithan?”

Ithan Chiaria, as an entity, never really existed. That evil creature stole him as a child, murdered his mother, growing him artificially with darkness and shadow.

“So that village, that was Ithan’s?”

I’m sorry, I cannot say any more.

Kaimu sighed and closed his eyes, happy to finally rest. His final thoughts before sleep were of his clan, the false hope of their revival plaguing his mind.

Polaris Eridanus/Zora's River/Night 1

Polaris learned much and more from Kaimu and as the careworn Zora drifted off into the river in search of rest Polaris wondered to himself. A dead Fulmen, but not 'the Feared.' Polaris knew no other Fulmen save Davus and this sounded very much like his work. And Ithan, Polaris had met a fellow by that name as well, but found himself hesitant to mention it to Kaimu. Intrigue upon intrigue. 

Majin was busying himself about setting up camp when Polaris approached him. "To say that our friend has suffered a great many hardships would be understating the matter I think. If there were ever a death to rejoice, Fulmens is one of them." Skeptical as he was, if the lightning mage had truly been brung low by a Labrynnian executioner, there was a great threat removed from the land. 

Unsure of how to ask the question he needed answered, Polaris decided to beat about the bush before he completely trampled it. "Without sounding completely foolish, might I ask...let's just say that I'm not entirely as up to date on current events as I'd like to be. Would you be so kind as to fill me in on anything that you may know? I fear that I may have been indisposed longer than I had originally imagined."

Majin Kotage

Majin still was unsure of this red scaled Zora. He seemed personable enough, if perhaps a bit stuff for his tastes, but he was peculiar in ways that he could not quite put his finger on. Some of his mannerisms seemed a bit… wrong for the Zoras of Labrynna, and from what he could tell of the Hylian Zoras, it was the same there as well. It was the little things, his stance, his bearing, even the slightest differences in the cadence of his speech. It was all very recognizably Zora, but seemed in some ways distorted. Even his tattoos were more elaborate.

Still, it couldn’t hurt to play along, and so Majin settled himself on the smooth, flat surface of a stump and began the long process of pulling the pervasive shadow of night to himself, for what was night, after all, but the shadow of the earth? It began in small, smoky wisps that grew denser as they began to swirl and curl around him while he spoke. 

“Well Polaris, let me think. Just over a day ago, some dreadful fiend assaulted Hyrule Castle Town, or so I’ve heard, and killed a dozen or so guards around the keep of His Majesty, Dromand Hyrule.” That sounded suitably vague enough not to implicate him. “Supposedly he stole from the royal treasury, though what was taken is anyone’s guess.

“Whatever it was must have been of great importance, however, as you’ve seen the early stages of Zora mobilization for yourself, and I suspect the Gorons will be gathering their might as well. The Gerudo… well who knows with the desert witches? All they seem to be interested in is raiding Hylian homesteads and building their fortress in the desert.”

He looked critically at the paltry amount of formed shadow he’d been able to gather so far and continued to lament that this was necessary. “Anyway that is a more recent survey of events in realm of Hyrule, but if you’d like I can perhaps go back a bit further. I am not from this land, but rather I hail from Labrynna in the east. Still, since we’re companions I’ll tell you what I know, and I’ll even do it for free.”

Polaris, for his part, seemed affronted by the notion that Majin might have charged him for the information, at which point Majin couldn’t help but laugh a little. “Everything has a price, friend Zora, information more so than most things. Any spy worth half his salt will tell you as much.

Kaimu Kotaro/Zora's River/Day 2

As soon as he had fallen asleep, his eyes opened, the night having passed before him in an instant. Kaimu slowly from the river, pulling himself onto dry land and gauging the time. It was barely after sunrise, and though it now felt like only moments, at the time it seemed like his nightmares would never end. He still heard the moaning, screaming death throes of his brethren, fated to live out their last moments in his mind forever. He shuddered inwardly, but kept his proud new demonic form stoic and sturdy against the insanity. Fearing what might happen if he stopped moving for too long, Kaimu gathered his thoughts, silently beginning his march towards the encampment of his allies.

Polaris Eridanus

It'd been centuries since he'd slept. Polaris hadn't lost himself in the warm embrace of a gentle slumber in literally hundreds of years, yet...he'd always been able to drift off into a state of consciousness that was not quite asleep and not quite...well, not. He'd come to cherish these vivid waking dreams for in them he was free. In them he was not wrongfully exiled. In them his men were still alive. Yet, on this night the General found no solace in his faux slumber. On this night he tossed and turned, flipped and rolled, grunted and cursed and woke and paced like a true insomniac. 

That blasted crone and her incessant meddlings. He wasn't an exile or outcast now, nor was he a decorated hero. He was simply Polaris Eridanus, second of his name, even though he was so blatantly in an age and time that was far before his great, great grandfathers birth that he may as well be any Talon, Deku or Hena birthed in a long line of fishermen as a proud son of a warrior line. The first Polaris Eridanus was not yet born and wouldn't be for quite some time. As far as these people were concerned he was just an arrogant net dragger. 

While Kaimu pulled himself from the waters and Majin wriggled out of his blankets to get closer to the dying embers of their night fire, Polaris cleared his throat to draw their attention. It was some time after the two of them settled around the fire (and at a good distance from the cold which he radiated) that Polaris spoke. "Friends, I think it is time I shared my secret with you. This is a truth that not even Tiburon is privy to though I don't doubt that he's suspicious...2 days past II traveled up the Zora's river, which at the time of my transit was as frozen as the blood in my veins, and crossed under the frozen waterfall to claim my birthright within the temple of my clan."

Pausing, Polaris surveyed the looks of confusion on the faces of his companions. "It was there that I encountered the witch and a host of unruly stone sentinels guarding my family treasures...about my time, the Eridanus line has risen well above the status of mere net draggers. Myself and my family have been warriors, generals and commanders for hundreds, if not thousands of years...yet, I fear I've fallen into my ancestors past and am with you now."

With his story almost at a close, Polaris pushed on, "I left one war for this one and may have lost my dragon for all eternity, yet here I am.

Majin Kotage

To say that Majin was taken aback by his companion’s news would be an understatement. Magic was no new concept to the Tokay, but what magic he’d encountered had been a thing of the elements, of fire and water, of forest and spirit, of light, and yes, of shadow.

Time, however, was a bit beyond his purview. He couldn’t fathom it, the kind of power it would require to do as Polaris suggested had been done to him. He knew of only one material with that kind of temporal effect: timeshift stones, and those had been mined out of existence decades, maybe even centuries earlier. There had been naught but the occasional fragment found in many years, though it was said that at one time they had been more easily come by.

He thought about that. Timeshift stones had once been plentiful, and all of the power they bestowed had been there for any common peasant who happened upon one. He suppressed a shiver at the thought of uneducated fools playing with that kind of power.

Still, as he looked over his companion with the keen eye of a trained spy, he thought that perhaps it didn’t seem so farfetched a notion. All of those minute inconsistencies in his demeanor started to sort themselves out in his mind. The almost imperceptible difference in his accent, the slight embellishment of his intricate funereal tattoos, it all began to settle into place. The more he thought about it, the more it seemed to make sense, given what he’d observed, that this Zora hailed not from a different tribe in a different region, but from the same tribe in a different era, for the passage of ages changed many things.

But Majin was the skeptic, he was the realist, and he was not one to so swiftly surrender to such flights of fancy. At least not so openly. Still, he liked this Polaris, after a fashion, and did not wish to offend him either.

“That is quite a bold claim, friend.” Majin said at last, breaking the brief silence that had settled over their company. “I do not mean to dispute you, for it may be even as you have suggested. Still, if such is the case then it raises certain philosophical questions that are best left alone, I think. Time is no easy thing to grip onto, and the ramifications of time travel are murky at best and paradoxical at worst.”

He looked briefly at Kaimu, trying to judge his reaction, but the deep azure Zora was as much an enigma to him lately as the crimson one, though in different ways, and his expression was not an easy one to read. He let out a sigh.

“I think that great things are happening in Hyrule right now, great and terrible things. I know a little of it, but there is much left that is yet to be discerned. It may be that your being here is a part of it, I can’t say, but what I can say is that I have a strong attunement to the pulse of nations and governments, and I can say that, whatever our reasons for being here, we find ourselves in the middle of calamitous times. Perhaps we will find the answers we seek in due course.” He brushed aside the “hem” of his reformed cloak and pointed north along the river’s edge toward Kakariko and the smoking peak looming up above it. “For now we have a job to do, and I think that we should move on.”

Kaimu Kotaro

"It was there that I encountered the witch and a host of unruly stone sentinels guarding my family treasures...about my time, the Eridanus line has risen well above the status of mere net draggers. Myself and my family have been warriors, generals and commanders for hundreds, if not thousands of years...yet, I fear I've fallen into my ancestors past and am with you now."

Kaimu listened with intense curiosity and skepticism as Polaris recounted his journey. Since he was very young he had been keen to spot that which did not belong, and was unwilling to allow even small details to go unconsidered, and much of what Polaris said didn't make sense, yet still seemed almost believable. Kaimu’s own personal desire for a way to go back in time and save his clan thrashed with his need to move forward and move on. While Kaimu silently contemplated the questionable origins of Polaris, Majin openly questioned his story.

“That is quite a bold claim, friend.” Majin said at last, breaking the brief silence that had settled over their company. “I do not mean to dispute you, for it may be even as you have suggested. Still, if such is the case then it raises certain philosophical questions that are best left alone, I think. Time is no easy thing to grip onto, and the ramifications of time travel are murky at best and paradoxical at worst.”

Kaimu faded into his own mind as Majin looked upon him, seemingly looking for whatever commentary he might have to add. In his dreaming he began envisioning a world in which he could freely travel to the past, find the wizard responsible for the curse and destroy him. He could save his clan, possibly even locate his lost mate Fiora. Yet, he knew it to be nothing more than a fantasy. For Polaris, were his story true, there was little implication of control or planning. In fact, he seemed to be undergoing his own karmic punishment just being in this world.

“…and I think that we should move on.” Majin’s words ended Kaimu’s daydreaming and he nodded in agreement. Cautiously, Kaimu entertained the thought that he might go a whole day without the voice of murder whispering in his ear. The darkly familiar feeling of Fulmen stirring buzzed around his mind, but no words came. He felt relief, for fear of insanity now plagued his every fiber - though in truth it had begun long before his transformation. As Kaimu pursued his own mind, the group began walking in silence, and he fell the farthest back, slipping in and out of his waking dream state. They continued in this way for some time, until Kaimu realized with some surprise that they had already traveled halfway to Kakariko, the sun shining brightly in the morning sky.

A Quick Spar, A Quick Temper

Polaris Eridanus/Hyrule Field/Day 2

The group walked in silence for a long time after Majin had, not unkindly, raised question to the legitimacy of Polaris' claims. The General himself had been content to nod and smile when Majin spoke and raised no arguments all the while taking mental notes. There was more to this Tokay than one saw at first glance. He'd expected a fair helping of skepticism before telling them and he knew that no amount of bickering on his part would change their minds. He didn't however expect all the government talk that came from Majin. Intriguing. Kaimu's silence wasn't alarming, Polaris figured his grizzled, but distant cousin qas just being jind as opposed to outright calling him a loon. 

As they progressed he watched their mannerisms and gleaned what information he could by such observations. Polaris found that knowing your companions was in a sense, a good deal more important than knowing your enemies, it was for this reason that when the trio reached the base of the long stair leading up to Kakariko Village from Hyrule Field, that he drew a few paces ahead and turned to face the others. 

"No amount of gnashing of the teeth or beating of the breast on my part will change either of your views on my story of origin. I expected a hearty amount of skepticism and hold no ill will to either of you if you take my story with a grain or two of salt. All the same, I felt that you needed to be in the know about it."

Polaris pinched the thumb and forefinger of his left hand close together. When they were less than an inch apart a minuscule crimson blizzard sprung to life between the two digits. Drawing his sword with his right hand, Polaris set to running the edges of Winter's Tide between his finger tips. A hearty red gleam rippled along the edge as Polaris blunted his blade. 

"That matter aside, I would much like to get in some exercise this morning and also come to know my companions a bit better. Would either of you care for a sparring session prior to our ascension?

Majin Kotage

Majin eyed the ice-coated blade for a moment, then nodded and reached down to pull his butterfly swords free from his shoulder belts. As he stretched and took a few practice swings, his cloak of manifest darkness swayed gently in concert with his motions.

“As a matter of fact, I think a good natured spar would be the perfect thing right now.” He said in a jovial tone. Polaris eyed him almost skeptically, perhaps considering his lack of stature an impediment.

Majin was fine with that.

“The usual rules? No drawing blood or knock out blows?” At the Zora’s nod Majin leapt into action. He didn’t immediately move to attack Polaris physically, but rather feinted forward and then jumped to the side, leaping up and grasping the sheer face of rock to either side of the Kakariko steps with his sticky fingertips, holding the butterfly swords between the rock and his palms even as the mass of shadows hanging about his shoulders transmuted into numerous undulant tentacles of shadow, the tips of each condensing into hard knots as they thrust forward to pummel Polaris or snatch him up in their grasp.

It took Polaris only a few swings of Winter’s Tide to fend off the first wave, but several of the tentacles rebounded from contact with the blade and drove down into the dirt and drew taut like stretched rubber, flinging Majin toward his friend turned opponent with breathtaking speed, his blades glinting in the rising sun.

Kaimu Kotaro

Kaimu had no words as Polaris requested a sparring match. He only felt his own inner rage boiling, finally hitting a tipping point as he had spent the past twenty four hours viciously suppressing his violent urges. He watched as Majin and Polaris began to spar, having first laid down somewhat tame rules by Kaimu’s rapidly rising standards. 

“Enough of these childish games, you shall both suffer the full magnitude of your crimes against the true world!” Kaimu was grinning sadistically, his voice tinged with authority and murder. “I shall save you from yourselves, and put you where you belong!” He charged forward, having seemingly succumbed to the voices of both his mental antagonists. He was on Majin in a second, tearing the butterfly blades from his hands, easily shattering them and plunging a single fin spike through his right shoulder, pinning him to the ground. Polaris was as still as a winter night, frozen in shock, giving just enough time for Kaimu to strike him hard in the leg, opening a deep and deadly wound. Now brought down to the ground on one knee, Kaimu grabbed Polaris and thrust him on top of Majin, driving Polaris’s sword through the both of them.

“Scum such as you shall never see redemption.” With those final words, Kaimu brought his fins down upon them, ripping their throats open and letting their blood stain the ground crimson.

Well done Kaimu… Kaimu blinked, and realized the voice of Fulmen was back, screeching with laughter. If only I had such great control over you, this might all be reality.

“No!” Kaimu shouted out, his eyes opening at last. And as if nothing had ever happened, for in truth nothing had, Majin and Polaris still stood mere yards away, locked in battle, having not heard his weak shout. It had all been fake, manufactured by his insanity in an attempt to push him over the edge. Fulmen wasn’t just an echo, he was actively seeking control. Ithan seemed absent, though Kaimu wondered if perhaps he was the only thing keeping Fulmen from gaining total control.

You may control your body, but your mind is not your own. Your rage betrays you.

Kaimu stood silently watching his friends spar as the voices in his mind fought their own war. His body crackled with electricity, and his fins ached for a fight. He knew that if he was unable to release the energy, his waking nightmare would become a reality. Kaimu was not a murderer, but the creature inside him certainly was, and the hunger showed no signs of slowing.

Polaris Eridanus

Polaris grunted in surprise as Majin was slingshotted towards him with cold steel in both hands. It had been agreed that no blood would be drawn, but bruises were unavoidable. With this in mind, Polaris spun to his left, and blocked the first slash with one of his fins. He was however too slow to avoid harm altogether and was rapped across the back with the flat of the blade he'd hoped to dodge altogether.

With only a fraction of a second to react, Polaris' failed dodge of Majins aerial assault left something to be desired where style was concerned and in a real battle, it would've proved a far more costly mistake. As it were, the welt and impending bruise would serve to remind the old General of the old adage, that bomb flowers come in small packaging. 

As the two circled each other, both taking stock of their opponent, Polaris made note that Majin was very quick and agile. Faster and more agile than he himself was. Although the mode of his friends magic appeared black, Polaris did not think it as nefarious as other dark artes he'd encountered. This appeared to be more a manipulation of shadow in it's most corporeal form, whereas dusk magic...well that was an entirely different ball of wax. With the morning mists still swirling about their feet, Polaris danced forward and lunged with his blunted sword aiming a forehand blow at Majins ribs. The Tokay easily deflected the blow, smacked Polaris across the thigh with his other blade and leapt out of range. 

Concealing his frustration, Polaris tried another tactic. Allowing his frigid aura to flow freely there was a palpable drop in temperature and the few wisps of fog that still floated about took on a faint reddish hue. Majin wouldn't immobilized by any means, but hopefully the increased density of the air would encumber him enough to somewhat shorten the gap in speed. Returning to the offensive, Polaris spun forward lashing out wildly with Winters Tide in the motion hoping draw his comrades attention to the blade and away from the kick aimed at his hip. 

Majin Kotage

Polaris charged forward again, blundering in with his big, heavy blade swinging in a wide arc, tip whistling through the misty morning air. It was an attack borne out of frustration, a hasty assault on a faster foe, and Majin deflected it easily.

He was not, to his chagrin, fast enough to evade the kick that his Zora adversary launched but moments later. The red scaled foot struck him square in the hip and Majin was sent tumbling backward ass over teakettle, completely stunned by the development. He’d seen the kick coming, after all, but he’d been too slow to block or dodge.

And then it hit him. The mist had begun to take on a reddish hue, and suddenly Majin had no doubt that it was the doing of his companion’s magic. The air, it seemed, had grown suddenly thick, impeding his movements. With that in mind he climbed to his feet, the formed shadow having reverted back into his cloak after his initial assault, and nodded with grudging admiration to Polaris.

“Well played, friend.”

A moment later he attacked. This time he didn’t leap or sprint or slide, he didn’t feint or juke. He didn’t even move.

His cloak flew apart, expanding outward in a similar manner as it first had, but forming into not a couple of tendrils, but a dozen, the ends of each condensing into blunted spearheads. Majin casually hooked his butterfly swords back onto his shoulder belts, knowing they could do little good in the face of Polaris’ mist, and crossed his arms over his chest.

Undulating like rearing serpents, the tentacles of shadow drew back and then thrust forth, striking two or three at a time with the speed of a cracked whip, slashing and stabbing from any and every direction.

Polaris Eridanus

"Well played, friend."

Polaris allowed himself the slightest, briefest twitch of his neck, dipping his chin ever so slightly to acknowledge the compliment. All the while his visage remained impassive and his eyes were locked on Majin.

What happened next, took him aback. The shadows that made up the dark cloak which his friend wore burst out in multiple directions sprouting a dozen blunted spearheads. The serpentine tentacles writhed and danced around the Tokay making him look more like some Lernaean beast than not.

Polaris didn't admire the scene overlong, within seconds a trio of the heads darted forward to strike at him. Polaris leapt over the first and, tucking his knees to his chest landed in a roll that sent him a hairsbreadth under the second. Rising to his feet with Winters Tide in hand Polaris smacked the third away and all three recoiled. No sooner than the first onslaught halted, the second began, it went like this for a time. Polaris ducking, dodging, diving and deflecting as many blows as he could. At times he came close to being overwhelmed and many strikes landed in succession on various parts of his body. At others he felt that he was starting to gain ground, only to again be pushed back by the ceaseless fury of the shadows. 

Rising from the most recent assault Polaris changed tactics, letting the crimson rime that blunted the edges of his blade trickle down its length and swirl away into the mist. When next the shadows attacked, Polaris held his ground until at last he spun, bringing Winters Tide down in a furious blur, he severed all three heads. 

As the headless tentacles retracted Majin only smirked, "I wondered when you'd try that."

As he spoke, the three whips trembled and blurred, shifting. Where once there had been three, now there were six. Fifteen in total. All adorned with the similar heads.

Grunting in frustration, Polaris sucked air and continued to do so until the mist shrouding the combatants feet surrounded him and began to snake it's way down his gullet. When the fog was gone entirely, Polaris halted his inhalation and looked at Majin, the red mist escaping through his nostrils framed his face in an ominous light. 

Sheathing his sword Polaris raised his hands and blew his breath out upon his palms and stretched his arms towards the incoming heads of the Hydra. A pair of crimson dragon heads, one from each palm burst forth on sinuous necks, and met the attackers mid air. The wyrms snapped and tore at the shadows with frozen teeth while the shadows throttled and danced around them. 

After a time the two companions locked eyes and an unspoken agreement passed between them. Polaris' dragons dissipated on the wind while Majins cloak folded in upon it's master and once again became a cloak. 

The two friends strode forward, when they met, Polaris clapped Majin on the back and grinned. 

"Well played indeed, friend."

Kaimu Kotaro

Kaimu had grown impatient as Polaris and Majin tested their strength against one another. His murderous dream had left him uneasy, to put it lightly. Polaris seemed positively ecstatic to have had the opportunity to fight, but Kaimu could feel only negativity in the face of such brazen joy. His mood was as sour as it had ever been, and he itched for a real battle where blood might be drawn. The seal was broken, and his soul thirsted.

“We need to be in Kakariko right now, this is a waste of time.” Majin seemed almost immediately put off by the demand, but was more than able to manage his own reaction moments later, certainly more so than Polaris, who just about started battling Kaimu again as his delight drained away. Kaimu rushed on ahead into the village, looking back over his shoulder only once as he did so.

“Follow me or don’t, but right now the last thing you want to do is make me angry. I’m not feeling so agreeable right now, and we need to be in this village or what I’m about to do might just end our little alliance.”

Majin Kotage

Majin and Polaris shared a look.

“What is going on with him?” The red-scaled Zora asked, frowning as he followed Kaimu’s path up the steps and into the village that lay at the base of Death Mountain.

“Mid-life crisis perhaps?” Majin asked, also frowning. “He’s been acting strangely for some time now. I’ve known him for a few years and we’ve always got on well together, I’ll see if I can’t rein him in a bit. Perhaps you should ask around about conditions on the mountain slopes. There’s a man at the inn named Haldar, he should be able to provide you with some useful information.”

And Majin was off, bounding up the steps as fast as his little legs could propel him. As he reached the top step he jumped, spinning in the air and grasping the sheer face of rock to his right with his fingers and toes. Scurrying up and in, he encircled the village from the ledges until he got a clear path and jumped.

He caught the edge of a tile roof with one hand, swung precariously for a moment, and then pulled himself up and over. From there it was a simple enough matter of moving along the rooftops, searching for where Kaimu had gone. So swift and silent was he as he stalked in broad daylight that no citizens of the village thought to cast their eyes upward.

One last leap placed him atop the roof of the inn. From there he looked out over the central avenue that ran through the village, watching and waiting.

Polaris Eridanus/Kakariko Village/Evening Day 2

Polaris smirked as he watched Majin jump and twirl, then shimmy his way up the flat cliff walls and off out of sight, presumably sneaking his way into town. Nimble as a cat and twice as quiet that one. He could sneak up on his own shadow..

Polaris shook his head, thinking..nah, surely not. But...Besides, what would it matter now? He'd already picked a side and even if his suspicions were true, Polaris was not going to fight against his people. Not this time. 

After Majins display, Polaris chose a more traditional method to enter the town, he walked through the front gate. As he took in the sights of the blossoming young village he found himself staring as construction whirled all around him, so much so that he garnered a few more off glances from the locals than he normally would have. 

As he walked through to the inns bar and pulled up a stool, he called to the woman behind, "My lady, I seek a man named Haldar, if you would be so kind as to.."

"Yar a wee bit red ain't ya? Cooked too long in tha' egg 'o yers? I ain't yer lady an' Haldar be the flea bitten sot o'er there." She pointed to the corner and hustled away to her business, but not before Polaris grabbed two tankards of ale from her tray. 

Pulling up a chair to the dimly lit table, Polaris sat a tankard in front of Haldar and took a long draught from his own before sitting down and appraising the man while he too, drank. 

"Now tha's ta proper way ta great a feller! I heared yeh asking' after me, so's ya know who I em, but who be you?"

Polaris inclined his head, "I am Polaris Eridanus friend, and I've sought you out to inquire about the conditions of the mountain slopes at present. I've been informed that you of all people would know best."

The mountain mans chest puffed up a bit at the praise and also, Polaris thought, that this was NOT his first nor even second or third tankard of the thick brown ale, Haldar was well into his cups already.

"Aye! Whoe'er tol' ya that' tol' ya true!! I'm a damn fine climber me'self. As fer ta passes, well, no more treacher'us tan normal. Falling' rocks, rollin' Gorons and such. Why d'yeh be askin'?"

Standing, Polaris tossed a few blue rupees on the table, "Why, I'm a damn fine climber as well sir, but my companions..." Thinking back on Majin's acrobatic display, the General grinned, "...may not be so skilled. Good day." Polaris strode away from the table and out the door. 

Once outside he positioned himself discreetly in the corner between some boxes and the wall, leaning against the boxes he watched the hustle and bustle of the townsfolk as he waited.