- Forcing the Issue
- With some help from Umbra, Isaac is freed from imprisonment.
- Forest Posts
- RIP Ken's Plot.
- Shards of Victory
- The plucky Ancient Mining facility team claims the light blessing and return to Kakariko.
Forcing the Issue
Isaac Kinslayer, Kakariko Village, Evening Three
It was still some time before full dark as Isaac strode, concealed within some Twili illusion magic that made him appear his once-normal Hylian self, into the village nestled at the base of Death Mountain. Along with him came a pair of agents of the Twili, intelligence operatives also magicked in shadow to appear as Hylian refugees, hard-worn and travel stained. Unlike the hidden village to the north, a remnant of a remnant, Kakariko Village was not overrun. Still, more than a few clusters of refugees fleeing the bloodshed cluttered its broad, dusty street. The slow-setting sun cast slanted golden rays across patched tents and filthy, bloodied faces, and set the motes of dust and dirt afire in the air.
"Keep a keen eye for anything that appears out of place," he instructed the two others under his breath as they walked deeper into the heart of the one-street town.
"Two eyes, preferably," the one named Coel quipped.
"You're sure he's here?"
The answer was delayed as they passed a Goron lumbering past them in the opposite direction, bearing an armload of spare supplies toward a small group of Hylians struggling to erect a tent in the shadow of one of the taller wooden buildings.
"Best intelligence reports we've got suggest he's here. We lost track of him a long time ago, though." That was Bryn, the other one. Coel's sister, he thought, though in all honest he neither remembered nor cared overmuch.
He didn't respond. He was scanning the surroundings. This village had never been particularly bustling, but there did seem to be more activity than he'd seen in recent memory here. The Gorons were a significant presence everywhere he looked. Guards, he realized. The Hylian forces were all further north, so the Gorons had descended in some force from Death Mountain to protect Kakariko Village. Strange, that.
"Why wouldn't they simply abandon this village? Goron City and their mines are secure and more than spacious enough to house them all. That'd be a far more defensible a location than here, with little more than a pair of rickety gates to hold back the hordes should they march here." He wasn't really speaking to the other two. Merely musing out loud. They seemed to realize the fact and remained silent as he scrutinized their surroundings.
There were a lot of Gorons. It was impossible to miss, now that he was looking. Rolling to and fro, going about their various business. Not that there was much business to conduct.
"Yes... Kinslayer?" There was always such a distinct unease when they spoke his name.
"Kill someone. Do it out in the open." He turned his eyes around on her, and for a moment the flames in them flared through the illusion. "I want to see what they do."
"They'll kill me if I do that, Kinslayer."
"And if you don't, I'll kill you, and you'll find that a lot less pleasant."
For his part, Coel remained silent. Either he wasn't truly Bryn's brother, or the Twili had much less compunction about sacrificing their kin. That silence was deafening, and it left the young Twili spy with little choice. Setting her jaw, she nodded, reaching down to draw the short sword at her hip. While she moved out into the street toward a cluster of refugees, Isaac and the other sank back into the shadows in an alley between tall buildings, mostly out of sight, and waited. The reaction would tell him everything he needed to know.
And then Isaac would kill another King.
Isaac Kinslayer, Kakariko Village, Evening Three
The Twili operative, glamoured to appear as a Hylian girl of two dozen years in a riding dress, looked utterly in place striding out into the middle of the dusty street, but for the furtive looks she cast in either direction.
"You should have sent me, m'lord," Coel uttered from behind him. "Bryn's an expert infiltrator, but her hand tends to slip when it comes to knifework."
Isaac snorted. "Lord?"
"... Kinslayer. But my sister's no assassin."
"That's about to change," Isaac replied. For just long enough to give me a window.
A pair of Gorons, covered in iron pauldrons and wristguards and open-faced helms but bearing their thick, stony front and backs--but for a single band of riveted iron across the chest--came stomping down the main thoroughfare, heavy hammers gripped in their fists swinging back and forward with every stride. Bryn had moved out far enough into the middle of the street that they were moving straight toward her. She was evidently uneasy, but judging by the looks on the faces of every refugee Isaac had seen thus far that was no entirely unexpected. The enormous sentries would have to split to bypass her. Isaac peered, watching closely, waiting for her twili dagger to flash in the light of the setting sun. He saw her hand drift to the back of her belt.
The Gorons moved around her as slow-flowing lava around a jut of stone on a mountainside and fell back into step and continued on, and the Twili agent's blade remained in its sheath.
"I told you, ah, Kinslayer. She's not much for getting bloody."
"No, but she has a keen eye," Isaac replied, for as he continued to watch her from his shaded alleyway, he could see her take a few steps in the direction of a clutch of travel-worn Hylians huddled around a tall figure in flowing robes of orange with a sash of crimson looping over the left shoulder across the chest and stomach and looping all the way to the hem of the robes beneath, embroidered in gold with the emblems of the Hylian faith of the Golden Triune. The cleric stood at the edge of a wooden porch. Flanking him stood a pair of Hylian guardsmen in breastplates and visored helms, bearing spears and shields with the golden triangles and the crimson phoenix on them on a field of blue, with capes hanging down their backs just past their sword belts. But where one appeared newly equipped, the other's steel was dull, dented and scratched, his cape moth-eaten, his bearing stooped and weary.
"... the faithful are ever tested, my friends. Threats in every hue of black have besieged Hyrule since time immemorial, when demonkind first squirmed out of the dark places, full of hate for the Light and Order of the new world that our ladies had together wrought, seeking to overturn it."
The assembled mass sat in the dirt, gazing up at him as his words washed over them.
"These Twili are but the last in a long history of interlopers inciting war against the Goddesses, and I admit that the vastness of their horde and the intensity of their animus toward us shook my faith and left me hollow. And as I sought desperately for a sign of the Goddesses' protection, every good turn took an ill one shortly after. They sent us champions and then they took them from us! They tore down the castle of Hylian Kings and filled our fair city with the dead! They devastated the south with magic, blighting our forests, and they sent an unnatural ice through our waterways and froze our rivers and lakes solid."
The words of this sermon seemed to have taken root in the crowd, and they hung on every word this priest spoke in his booming intonation. Bryn edged closer, Isaac saw, drawn in by the passionate speech.
"Come, let us go get your sister before she converts," Isaac growled, clasping his hands behind his back and stepping from the shadows back into the street.
The sermon had drawn more eyes, and other groups of refugees abandoned setting up their little tents or striking flint and steel into their bundles of twigs and dry leaves to draw nearer. Whoever this aged priest was, he spoke with an inelegant passion that enraptured those all around.
"The enemy, these Twili, now feel assured of their victory, and true to their name they have plunged Hyrule in the depthless black of night. The hour of the wolf is upon us, when the enemy's strength is at its greatest and it seems that no deliverance should come, but this hour is short and the twilight shall ever give way before the break of day. This I promise you."
As he strode closer, even Isaac felt taken in by the words. The nameless priest cast a peremptory look across the assembled crowd, standing a little straighter so that the roundness of his belly jutted outward, the thread of gold symbols on his crimson sash flashing in the sun's last, vestigial rays. Such a presence had this man, such a power to his words.
This could only be one man. Isaac was assured in that moment that he was looking upon the King of Hyrule, posing as a priest to give heart to his people and lend strength to their arms when the hammer stroke at last fell. Why else would a priest be guarded by armed men?
Safe within his illusion, he reached to his belt to carefully check his dagger in its sheath. The blade was clear and drew out an inch in total silence. His hand brushed the Sun Shard tucked into the back of his belt at the same time.
"Potent words, priest," he spoke loudly as he approached, beginning to push his way through the assembled onlookers. Few seemed to hear him or take note at all, so ensnared by the man's words, so ensorcelled by his elocution. Even Bryn gave way without a word or even a glance in his direction as he shoved her aside. "But I fear that your faith will go unrewarded."
"But of course, friend," the priest said, looking down at him with dull eyes, ones that seemed so unremarkable for one whose tongue was so silvered and potent. "Doubt lies heavy on the land, as ever it has in times such as these. But we have seen such times come and pass, and though the toll is ever high, we have gone on."
Of course they have, Isaac found himself thinking in agreement. Hyrule has faced the Ma, it has faced the dread lord of the desert reaches, it has faced the full fury of its elements, and it has faced its own worst impulses. The Lights have always risen as champions, bitter, broken champions though they may be.
He shook his head. No. These were not his thoughts. Not truly. Hyrule could be broken. It would be broken.
Why was there such a fog over his mind? The priest's words echoed like the chime of a bell reverberating endlessly.
"There will be... no snatching away victory this time."
The stooped guardsman shambled forward, straightening his back, straining to reach up and whisper into the priest's ear. The robed man nodded at whatever the hunched man said and fixed Isaac again with those dull eyes.
"Perhaps not, Kinslayer," the priest said, and Isaac felt something shatter in the air all about. His name seemed to hang in the stillness between them. "Perhaps you are right this time."
Suddenly eyes were looking to him from all around. Eyes were blinking in dirt-streaked faces as the Hylian onlookers turned their gazes to him and made to rise from their cross-legged crouches. Isaac realized only too late as he watched them climb to their feet all around that they were seeing him. Him. Not the glamour, but Isaac Kinslayer in all his glory.
"Faithful of Hyrule, this monster has come to kill me," the priest intoned deeply in that voice that bore such regal authority. "Take him!"
From all sides, hands snapped out to seize him.
Isaac Kinslayer, Subterranean Cells, Evening Three
When he came back to himself sometime later it was a struggle to lift the pebble-scaled lids of his eyes, so heavy were they. Still he worked his pained jaw into a scowl as he became aware of the cold stone against his back, and forced his eyes wide. For a moment, the fiery flare of his gaze illuminated the dark cell in which he lay, just long enough for him to get a sketchy view of the rough-cut dome of a ceiling, so low that he wouldn't even be able to stand upright beneath its apex. There were no other comforts, save for a wooden bucket whose purpose he needn't guess by the smell of it. He felt no pain, only an immense weight in his leaden limbs and a sluggishness to his thoughts and recollections.
It felt, frankly, like he was waking from a psychic hypnosis of sorts. An enforced sleep. He had only momentary flashes of being taken. He'd been surrounded on all sides by refugees, most of them not even armed save for the odd cudgel or hunting knife they might have fled their homes with. He should have butchered them all, should have left Kakariko a smoking ruin.
And yet he hadn't. He'd fought, but his motions had been slow, his senses dull. For the first time in a long time, he'd been utterly and entirely subdued.
Gradually his forced himself off of his back, turning over as he rose and coming to his knees, not rising any further lest he knock his head against the low stone ceiling of his present accommodations. Instead he made a halfhearted hand-wave in front of him and loosed a thin stream of flame, bright orange but for the vague violet cast to its undefined edges, and let it coalesce into an orb that he set to a slow circuit around the outermost edges of his cell. It was bare stone, save for the bars of Goron forged steel. He'd always been able to tell their works from that of Hylian smiths, for their metals were crafted to withstand the harsh temperatures in which the stone folk dwelt. He could burn his way free, but it would take time. Depending on how deep below the surface they'd dragged him, it might be easier to melt his way through the stone walls than to attempt it.
Still snarling, he settled down into a cross-legged position and waited. Waited for the fog to clear from his mind, for the pressure to lift from his limbs.
A droplet of water, condensation or the moisture of some stream dribbling down between the minute fissures in the rock, fell from the ceiling and turned to a puff of steam against the glaring serpent undulating upon his bare chest. He'd been robbed of his arsenal after his capture. His grey jacket was gone, as was his dagger, and the Blue Ring he'd worn on his right hand, and the Sun Shard he'd kept tucked safely inside his belt. They'd left him his trousers and drakeskin boots, but naught else. And so, naked from the waist up in the relative darkness, he waited patiently for a light.
It came not much later.
Down the corridor beyond the bars of his cell, he heard the gentle pad of soft-soled boots on hard stone. Closer it drew, the thud of heel and slap of toes growing imperceptibly louder in his ears until the three figures came to a halt before the bars. The first was, as before, robed in orange with a crimson sash slung across his shoulders and falling all the way to the hem of his robes. The others, his perpetual guard, were girded in Hylian arms, one tall and dignified within his steel, the other stooped and wretched.
"Well Kinslayer, you've made yourself a fine mess this time," the robed man mused idly, reaching a hand up to stroke his clean-shaven face, with its perfect high cheek bones and square jaw. His jade eyes seemed to gleam in the light of his fireball lamp as he regarded his prisoner. "To think you actually managed to kill me once, not so long ago."
Isaac quirked an eyebrow at that, still sitting with his legs crossed, looking up into the man's shadowed face through the bars.
"I'm sorry, I've killed a lot of people over the years but only one king that I know of."
To his surprise, the words elicited only an amused chuckle.
"Indeed," the King mused.
"But," said another voice, rasping through the visor of his helmet, "neither is this man a ruler."
Isaac looked to the tall guardsmen at the King's left. Or, perhaps not the King?
"You want to back it up and run that by me again?"
Arms in gauntlets of padded leather inlaid with steel reached up and took hold of the helm, lifting it slowly away. The face that stared back at him, now revealed in the rotating light of his fireball, was regal, the gaze peremptory. It stunned him in that moment that he'd even considered that this other man could be the ruler of Hyrule for even an instant, resplendent though he was in his own right.
"Your Majesty," Isaac said in acknowledgement of the false-guard's true identity. It was a clever enough ruse.
He looked away from the King then, and back to the man who stood front and center before him, garbed in fine robes fit for any lord or monarch.
"So who the fuck are y--"
It dawned on him an instant later. The lordly demeanor, the force and power of his words. The face he looked upon now was different than the one he'd worn before, but Isaac recognized the imperious eyes set within it all the same. Most importantly, though, was was the wretched thing clad in pocked and rusted steel standing to his right, hunched and feeble. It all made sense. The whispered words on the wooden porch steps. The simple words spoken that had shattered his glamour. The words that had lain a thick bank of fog upon his mind.
"The Pariah..." he mouthed softly in wonder, looking from one then to the other. "And the Plenipotentiary."
"The very same, Kinslayer."
"What in the black hell are you doing here Eyes? Voice?" He asked as in that moment another droplet fell from the ceiling, hissing away against his chest in a puff of steam. In that moment he was none-too-pleased to find himself staring at the old man's puppets through the bars of a cell. "I thought I killed you both."
The Plenipotentiary stood, if possible, even straighter and taller, and took another step toward the bars. He took hold of one, grasping long fingers around it as he leaned in.
"You did," he replied jovially. "And yet here I am. You didn't honestly think that the Scion of Order would leave a thing like you untended, did you? You've been making an awful mess of things lately, after all, as you Primordials are wont to do. The Scion sent us to enact this guise in the hopes that you might make a mistake. And so you have."
He smirked. "We're constructs, Kinslayer, spelled together by the Scion himself. You didn't honestly believe a little knife work would be the end of it?"
Isaac snorted. "I suppose not. But do you really think you'll keep me here?"
"Probably not for long," this time it was the King who spoke, though for as kingly his bearing his words lacked the same power. "But maybe for just long enough."
"Get comfortable, Kinslayer." The syllables struck him like a hammer, and suddenly he felt a strong compulsion in him to lie back down on his back. "There are pressing matters to attend to, but we'll be back before long. The King has urgent questions and you'll be providing us answers, willing or no."
Umbra, Depths of the Lake, Night 3
Slow. Slow, slow. Boring and slow! Stupid metal. Stupid dragon. Stupid lumber. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Can't trust others, can you dear? No. What's the point of multitasking if the taskers don't task?
Well, at least the metal was moving. Slowly, stupidly. But almost there. And the water was settled, the mud was stuck and drying. "Time to move."
Dragon first. Poor wings clipped. Sure, sure, the thing was able to handle itself, but so little time. Time, time, always the enemy. Those fools, just because she owned it, they thought they could use it all to their advantage! Wouldn't accept any help, would they, dear? No.
Well, so be it. It worked against them this time, isn't that ironic? So much ownership, yet so little control. The little seconds, slipping through a tight-held grip. Oh, how easy it would be to just let it all fall away... How easy, how simple, and how so very undesirable. No, no, that wouldn't do at all. "Time to move."
And then, the lake was empty.
Subterranean Cells - Night Three
In the depths, he lay. Dim, flickering light lit the edges of the catacomb, matching the flames which stuttered within him. Unwatched, he was, for the need to watch was gone with the words laid heavy upon his beaten brow. Shallow breath, after hours of shouting and snarling in rage, unable to hold back the words which bellowed forth. But that rage was quenched now, only the embers of his vast inferno warmed his soul.
A whisper, a voice out of memory. Its breath teased through him; the flames guttered.
"Poor dear. My dragon egg. Isn't it time you hatched?"
Softly, providing sustenance, the voice murmured a wordless entreaty. The inferno growled softly in recognition. Sustenance, yes. Power. Fuel! The small, dismal fire which lit his prison grew, flaring suddenly in power and intensity. Rims of an unholy purple, just on the edge of vision, flashed around the bright orange edges of each lapping tongue, the inner white intensity tearing at the stones around him.
And in that blinding light, a depth of shadow. A shape, like a body, but cut out from the world, crouched beside him.
"No time for laying down, love. You've work to do, don't you?"
Umbra smiled at her most promising investment as a smirk bloomed over his expression.
Isaac Kinslayer, Subterranean Cells, Night Three
The rush of power came on him all of a sudden, a torrent of poison flooding veins already pumping molten fire. His flame had waned in the last hours beneath the questioning of the Hylian King and the old man's instruments. The Plenipotentiary bid him speak, and the Pariah judged his words truthful or false, and all the while the honeyed words lay heavy upon his mind and soul, and sapped the vigor from his body. But in a flash the weight was gone and the fire in him roared to life in time with the rotating flame making its circuit around the edges of his cell. White, orange, and violet, that single flame erupted, lashing at the hewn stone, turning it red.
In the sudden influx of darkness, the sudden rush of Dusk to rekindle his spirit, he felt himself changing again. No death and revivification this time; he felt his pebbled flesh hardening, fingers elongating, nails growing out into cruel talons that dug hard into the stone beneath him. His jaw was clenched as the powers warred within him, warping his physical being further than ever, bringing forth the serpent. He felt teeth grow to points and stab into his gums. The taste of blood, fire, and venom filled his mouth and poured down his throat.
"No time for laying down, love. You've work to do, don't you?"
A smirk bloomed over his expression, for in the sudden incandescence he could see a deep shadow, depthless but not formless. A woman shape.
"No," he replied, and his voice was gravelly and hard. "No time for laying down."
One talon lashed out, taking hold of the shadow-creature's neck and jaw within the veil of darkness, pulling the figure roughly toward him as he lay supine.
"I knew it would be you," he said as he held the thing's face before his, claws digging into what he thought might be flesh though it was hidden from his eyes.
He pulled the face down upon his, passing through the darkness blind to plant his scaled lips upon the mouth that lay within, kissing it roughly. The fires in him poured out from him and into it, not to scorch but to imbue. To mark.
He wrenched her head away from his.
"You formed the bond. Now it's sealed."
He shoved the shadow-thing away and rose to his feet. Full of renewed power, he reached his hands to the bars of his cell and took hold of the two center-most. They glared hot at the touch, and he tore them aside. Even Goron steel could not hold him now. He ducked through the gap and out into the corridor, able to stand at his full height.
"If you'll forgive me, I have possessions to recover and a few favors to return before the sun comes up."
Isaac Kinslayer, Goron Mines Exterior, Late Night Three
Blood filled the night air. Outside of the prison block in which he'd been sealed was a broad quarry spanned by an elaborate series of wooden catwalks. More dragon now than man, despite his human-shape, Isaac strode through the darkness beneath the stars, coat fluttering behind him, and his talons tore flesh and melted armor to slag as Hylian and Goron alike threw themselves in his path. He recalled being dragged through the area, to and fro as he had been subjected to the King's questioning, and he retraced his steps back toward Goron City in the depths of Death Mountain with murderous contentment.
The planks beneath his feat tilted into a slight descent and at the bottom on the next level platform a pair of Gorons in iron bearing heavy hammers awaited him. He caught one hammerstroke and wrenched it sideways, using it to deflect the second with a deep clang. Smoothly he ducked under their arms and slipped behind the lumbering brutes, stiffening the fingers of both hands as he released the hammer haft. Pivoting on one foot, he drove his taloned hands into the narrow area beneath their jaws where the neck should have been.
A burst of heat and psychic force through his fingers and their heads popped like blisters in a splash of fire, blood, and matter, all spraying across the scaly flesh of his face and exposed chest. Mouth open in silent laughter, he even felt some of the wet warmth on his tongue.
More came, more fell, and he pressed forward. The serpent writ upon his flesh writhed in ecstasy as he fed it blood and death, and he felt the furnace of his soul stoke further and hotter. His eyes gleamed through the murk, orange and violet.
Back inside, he passed through caverns glaring bright as molten rock bubbled and flowed, and as he passed he drew the heat out of it, wrapping it around him in a swirl of blistering wind, leaving the floors hardened and cool. Still, he pressed forward. Through enclosed iron grates and pillars of flame blowing from volcanic vents he passed, and out at long last into the halls of the mountain folk.
"... have the Shard now at least. We can only hope that the team dispatched to the desert will return soon with the mineral, and that the Lord Paladin's daughter will retrieve the last blessing in due time."
They stood at the heart of the broad chamber beneath it's low ceiling, upon a circular platform of stone. The King had thrown back the hood of his robes and had placed the crown of Hyrule back atop his weathered brow. Before him were the two others, the Scion's slaves, girded still in Hylian soldiers' panoply. The King had two hands outstretched, holding the Sun Shard in all its dazzling glory out so that all three could lay eyes upon it. Isaac's dagger hung from Voice's belt.
"And it is a certainty that the giant Goron can smith this weapon?"
"I have assurances that there is no better craftsman in Goron City than he. With every ingredient in hand, this blade will be a light to destroy the darkness. A Dawn to drive back the Dusk. The one named Giga waits at the forge even now."
"Let us pray to the Three, then, that the ingredients arrive soon. The interlopers will not long delay their final assault, there can be no doubt of it now. Kinslayer was honest about that much. The sword must be ready when it comes."
"Pity," Isaac said, voice a low grind as he stepped out from the threshold of the mines. Heads swiveled in his direction and on their faces was writ fear. "Pity that all your best laid plans will turn to ash. There will be no sword."
"Kinslayer," Voice said, and for an instant Isaac could feel the impact of his words like a physical blow, but no amount of persuasion could dim the inferno within this time. "How did you escape your cell?"
"Doesn't matter, does it?" he asked, stepping out toward the platform and delighting as they edged back from his approach. Stepping into the light, the blood simmering against his skin became visible and they paled. "I came here to kill a second King. Killing you a second time will be a bonus."
He leaped up onto the platform as the trio stepped back to the far edge. Voice's free hand went to the dagger at his belt as he leveled his spear, but Isaac's outstretched hand beckoned and as if of its own volition the blade tore free of the mailed fist. In the air it flashed to dark fire, and when Isaac's talon closed about the haft it was a dagger no longer, but the Glaive of Inferno in its fullest glory, tongues of violet flame rippling across the dark steel.
He stepped close, feeling the thrust as Voice's spear punched into his exposed abdomen and out through his back, tearing a hole in his tattered coat. His left hand passed quickly, opening the throat and robbing the Plenipotentiary of his only weapon. He fell as blood spurted from his second smile and gurgled from his first. Still affixed upon the spear, he brought his Glaive up and drove it down and across his body, driving the blade fully through the hunched Pariah's chest with such force that he was thrown backward off the platform.
Then he was alone with the Hylian King.
"Nothing personal, Your Majesty," he practically purred, drawing close as he reached back, brushed aside the folds of his coat and snapped the spear haft with one hand and ripped it out from the front with the other. The wood was charred black where it had punctured his flesh, and trailers of smoke curled off of it as he threw the pieces away to either side. "But this war is over."
The King acted first, to his credit, throwing the Sun Shard out toward him. A jet of sizzling sunlight flashed out at him, but the Brand on his chest wriggled and coiled, forming a shield upon his scaly chest that rebuffed the burning light, and still Isaac moved closer. Lips curled back, exposing a mouth full of needle-sharp teeth, and as he closed the distance between them he slapped away the King's outstretched hand, sending the Shard skittering away across the rough stone. Again he splayed and stiffened the fingers of his right hand and drove the talons into the flesh of the King's chest, gripping him tight and wrenching him forward as the ruler of the realm cried out.
Like unto a serpent, Isaac's jaw unhinged and his mouth fell open--wider than a man's mouth should.
He closed it around the flesh of the struggling King's throat, letting the teeth sink in and wrenching his head this way and that, ripping the flesh and letting the crimson flood spray across his face. He threw the King backward off the platform, turned his head and spat his royal neck out upon the stone.
The Brand flared brighter and hotter than ever, swirling and writhing over him as it fed on the souls of the deceased. For a moment Isaac simply stood, staring down at his handiwork and reveling as the power suffused him. Then he stepped down off of the raised stone and took hold of the Glaive, ripping the blade free from Eyes' chest, then crossed over to the far wall and scooped the Sun Shard up where it lay. For an instant he thought of their words and considered going to kill the Goron named Giga.
But no, he couldn't yet could he? To get what he wanted, the Light Warriors and their misguided Daybreak Alliance needed hope. The hope of a sword that could save them all. Instead, he tucked the Shard back into his belt and headed outside into the night air. As he emerged, the horns were beginning to blare their dirge through the dark, and from the slopes below he could hear the rumbling cries of Gorons who knew of his presence. He didn't wait for them to descend upon him, instead throwing himself up into the night in a tail of violet flames, ascending toward the infernal mouth of Death Mountain, high above the stone city.
If the Lights wanted their sword, then the Sunrise Knight could come and face him for the final piece. There could be no avoiding a reckoning between them any longer.
Ayala, Forest, Morning 3
The trio made to the edge of forest in short time. Unfortunately doing so meant flying high and fast which is quiet uncomfortable for the inexperienced flyer in the group, something Ayala failed to take into account. Things would only get worse for Ella when Oberon noticed Kokage below them. Ayala tried to warn her new friend of the impending dive but failed to realize the high speed wind made her impossible to be heard and before Elle could say “what,” they entered a high speed plunge only pulling up to at the last possible second need to keep their organs from liquefying.
“Well, look whose back. Did you enjoy your night in the nice cots back at base?” Crim remarked upon seeing his lieutenant return.
Ayala just nodded paying meeting Crim’s sarcasm with her typical earnest cheerfulness, “Yup, I got my armor fix. See.”
Crim let out an exasperated sigh causing Len Ront to snicker. That fact that he could never tell is Ayala was seriously missing the point or just messing with him always vexed him, and Crim’s suffering always amused Len.
Ayala continued, “Actually I’m surprised to see you guys here, with Kokage. No wait, I guess I mean I’m surprised to see him here with you. I figured he’d bail once I left.”
“Continuing to helping them gets them out of the forest quicker. That’s the only reason.” Kokage responded bluntly as ever.
“Ah, don’t act you don’t care,” she teased knowingly.
“Anyway Lieutenant,” Capt D’Ren boomed having grown tired of the sudden distraction, “Do you have any news or orders from base?”
“Oh right, yah-” Ayala proceeded to explain the current situation include the impending final attack on Kakariko, the need for the Blessing of Ordon, and the possibility thatGrem was being strengthened by everyone killed during the war.
Upon hearing the explanation Kokage suddenly turned and started walking towards Ordon, “If Ordon is your goal that means part of the forest is a target of your enemies. With the time spent helping all of you it has been left unguarded for far too long.”
“That’s his way of saying he’s going to help. I have to go.” Ayala said before chasing after the Elemental.
“There goes our Squad Leader, running off again.” Crim sighed.
“You’re going with her, and take Pvt Rick with you.” D’ren ordered
“Tsk, damn it,” Crim mutter before grabbing the private and running to catch up the others.
Ella Huntley, Forest, Morning 3
As the others talked Ella kept a close eye on the forest around them. Back in the good old days she trained here with her father learning the skills and trade of a bounty hunter. She thought back to the first time she ever caught a bounty, ambushing the wanted man from the shadows. Ella slowly prowled around ignoring most of the conversation. When her companions finished talking she closed her eyes as the faint sound of snapping tree branches reached her ears.
“Shhh! Did you hear that?”
Before the others could respond Ella ran off into the dense woods like an animal on the hunt. She vaulted over roots and ducked under branches, finally coming face to face with a lone Twili. As the red eyed man caught sight of her she let loose a throwing star with such speed even Ella wondered how she achieved it. Though caught off guard the Twili held up a metal gauntlet and froze the throwing star in midair.
With the power gloves Magnesis properties activated the Twili snapped his fingers and let the frozen projectile fall.
“Stop! There’s no need to…” Before the Twili could speak Ella threw another throwing star. Though stopping it as easily as last time, Ella quickly leaped up into the tree tops and stalked her pray from above. The Twili in turn spotted her and pulled the largest boomerang Ella had ever seen out from behind his back. It had to at least be the size of a longsword, yet it flew effortlessly into the air.
Quite harmlessly as it went nowhere near Ella. Before she could comment on his poor aim, her adversary magnetically latched on to the boomerang and started guiding it through the tree tops like a buzz saw. Ella leapt from tree to tree narrowly avoiding the whirling weapon. In a vain attempt at communication the long bearded Twili shouted out to her.
“I’ll knock you out if I have to, but I’m not your enemy. Stop this at once!”
As he guided the boomerang to return to him, the Twili looked up to see Ella, staff drawn, jumping down at him. The killing blow was stopped at the last second by a staff far more ancient and elegant then the one Ella had in hand. She look up to see the disgraced Zora warrior she had dealt with just day ago.
“You again” said both Stella and Ella in uniform surprise. Just then the rest of Ella’s party finally caught up with her and all drew their weapons.
“Wait! I know this looks bad, but we’re allies not enemies. As much as it pains me to say this, the Twili and I are both on Hyrule’s side.”
“Ha” scoffed Ella. “Days ago you were foaming at the mouth with the chance to destroy Hyrule. Now you want to be its savior? As if! For all I know you’re just playing a long game to screw us over in the end.”
“I suppose I deserve your skepticism. If so, then perhaps a more trustworthy source will suffice.”
From out behind the trees another Zora female appeared. Though meeker than Stella she strode with an air of confidence and royalty that gave off a larger appearance that her short stature. Immediately everyone in Ayala’s group who recognized her sheathed their weapons and bowed before the Zora. Ella looked in confusion.
“Who’s this” asked Ella to Ayala. “Someone you know?”
“Not personally” replied the petite looking Zora. “I am Princess Orsina, second to that name, and heir to the Zora throne. I apologize if our intrusion caused alarm. It seems we have crossed paths by mere happenstance. …Or perhaps it was destined for us to be here. In time like these one can never tell.”
Hailing from the lowest class of Castle Town’s slums Ella was shocked to be in the presence of royalty, much less talking to a princess. If only her father could see her now. Embarrassed she knelt down in an awkward looking bow. Never having the need to learn formalities, Ella was at a loss for how to talk to Orsina.
“Your royal princess… I mean, your majesty, I formally wish to inform you…”
“Its O.K” said Orsina with compassion, “We’re at war now. You can speak openly and bluntly with me.”
“Thanks” replied Ella rising to stand. “If you didn’t mean to find us, what are you doing here with these… servants I presume?” Stella and the Twili both shot Ella a dirty look.
“We’re here for one reason only. Zora’s Domain is collapsing. There is only one way we can stop that...”
Stella Delphinus, Zora’s Domain, Flashback Night 2
“Oh god, no” said Stella aghast at the sight of seeing Zora’s Domain reduced to an arctic tundra. The whole city was unnaturally quiet in this frozen state, mostly decrypt and abandoned. The few citizens remaining clung around a smoldering excuse of a fire. The look of cold and starvation hung equally over them all as small crumbs of bread were passed out. Though a pitiful meal for even a cockroach the frail Zora all devoured it like a 4 course meal.
Below her feet Stella caught sight of several Zora frozen beneath the water. They must have been unfortunate victims who were below water when the region began to freeze. Worst of all no one, not even the children paid any attention to the frozen bodies that lined the pathways. The fragrance of rotting corpses filled the air with an overwhelming stench of death.
“Isn’t anyone going to come and give these people a proper burial?”
“I’m afraid most people here don’t have the strength or the will to do that anymore. Since I’m the most able bodied left I’ll take care of it” said Orsina solemnly. “Besides I can’t afford to exert our men any more then they have to.”
Stella was about to correct her in saying these people were civilians, when a horrible realization dawned upon her. The elderly, the women, the children. They were all armed with the trademark Zora spears. Zora’s Domain had taken to conscripting these people out of desperation.
Stella fell on her knees in despair “But, it can’t be. How? How could this happen?”
“The suffering you see before you is all the work of a Twili curse” said the princess. “Though we don’t know the means they used to cast it, the entire Zora River system has been completely frozen by some cursed form of dark magic. For six months our domain has stood like this, plunging our entire species into a state of sickness and famine.”
“Everything we’ve done to remove this ice has failed. Even with Hyrules greatest fire mages, the ice keeps creeping back faster than we can melt it. Thanks to them half of Zora’s Domain has either fled the country, or died as a result. I don’t think I need to emphasize how desperate the situation is now that you’ve seen it with your own eyes.”
“Faced with the possibility of extinction my father, King Realto, has chosen to do the unthinkable. Tomorrow evening, he’s going to renounce his claim to the throne and surrender to the Twili. In exchange the Twili will lift the curse, and give aid to our people. With the poor state of our army we can’t put up more than a token resistance. Yet to bow to the Twili will be a fate worse than death in my opinion.”
“When Zora’s Domain falls the Twili will have the opportunity to swing north, and take out Hidden Kakariko on two fronts. Given that the northern pass is weekly defended, that could be a war winning masterstroke right there. Make no mistake Twili mean to forcibly convert everyone into their demon worshiping faith. If they are allowed to succeed here, the Zora may live, but Hyrule will die. That is where you come in.”
“Your majesty, though I don’t deserve it, my life is committed to serving you to the dyeing breath. What is it that you request of me?”
“I chose you because I need someone who has inside knowledge of the Twili. We have uncovered that the Twili have developed some kind of thermal bomb, capable of melting even the thickest of ice caps. It is that weapon that the used to turn the tide at Lake Hylia. Reports say there is a backup stored at the Twili fortress in Ordon under the protection of its developer, Zephyra Ryssdal.”
“Zephyra” questioned Stella. “I know her; she’s the one who tricked me into believing the Zora were still at war with Hyrule! If it’s her you want then allow me to pay her a visit. I have some unsettled business to take care of.”
“We must be careful. We don’t have the strength to launch a full out attack on their fortress, so we’ll have to go the infiltration route. Accompanying us will be a Twili named Darwin Marrus. He claims to have fermented a rebellion against the Twili Kingdom years ago and maintains knowledge about their tactics. He also has a history with the Ryssdal family, so he’ll be sure to help us.”
Ella Huntley, Forest, Morning 3
“And that’s why we’re here” Princess Orsina finished explaining to the others. “The fortress Zephyra resides in was constructed overlooking Ordon spring. If you’re headed there, perhaps we could be of use to each other. You help us enter the fortress, and we’ll get you into the spirits spring.”
“Alright that does seem logical. We’ll help you if we can” said Ella to the princess. Ella then turned to look at Stella. “Look I still don’t trust you, and I sure as hell haven’t forgiven you for all the crap you’ve put me through! But right now we could use all the help we can get. You know the whole enemy of my enemy thing.”
“Thank you Ella. I know you won’t accept my apology, but I was wrong about you and the other Hylian’s. You’re a good person who was right the whole time. I shouldn’t have been so quick to turn against you back in that dungeon.”
“Yeah? No shit” said Ella walking away. As she passed Ayala she grabbed her on the shoulder. “Stella, if you really want to apologize then make sure this girl survives the coming battle. She might be our only way to return back to the past.”
“You’ve found a way back in time” shouted Stella with excitement.
“I don’t know. Maybe. Just shut up and do as you’re told alright?”
Shards of Victory
Mirra Lemeris, Ordon Spring, Night 3
The stormwinds nearly knocked Mirra over when they appeared, whistling and ripping through the dense trees all around them. They couldn’t see a thing in the pitch black, save for a pale gleam in a distant clearing. She had no sign of Hathor or Roc, but she made ahead.
“To me!” she called to the others. “I can see light just ahead!”
Mirra dashed ahead of the rest, emitting a white aura making her easier to see, and reached the high edge of a wide ravine that overlooked a wading pool. Jaden was first to catch up to her, followed by Polaris, Darrel, and Lia behind.
“Taden’s forces are corrupting the area,” Polaris announced, his voice whipping across to the others on the frigid wind. “But the Hated himself is long gone.”
“Then this should be easy,” Darrel crowed, not hesitating to draw his sword and leap into the cursed fray. His boots cracked down on jagged shards of ice, laced with veins of Blue Fire that hissed and lashed out at his feet. The Sunrise Knight kept moving to avoid the blasts, even as the cold weighed down on his muscles and mind.
“Behind you!” Mirra shouted through the snows, loosing a Light Arrow into the pelt of a giant spider that lunged from Darrel’s flank. The arrow struck it out of midair just as Darrel turned around, and he waved a cheerful salute to Mirra through the haze before bounding ahead. Jaden leapt from the high ledge they stood on and ran wide of Darrel’s path to cover his back.
Polaris clasped his fist to form a long Red Ice spear and took one step forward, but Mirra stopped him. “Wait,” she asked, then turned to grab Lia’s hand. “I need both of you up here.”
While Polaris stood guard, Mirra faced Lia and spread her palms out towards her. “Put your hands here,” she said to the girl, acting too swiftly to explain. Lia stretched out her fingers and let her hands hover a few inches from Mirra’s. The two locked eyes, until Mirra slowly closed hers, and Lia did the same.
’It’s alright,’ Lia’s voice suddenly entered Mirra’s mind. ’I know a mind meld when I see one.’
Slowly, the white light framing Mirra’s body from head to toe began to condense into an incandescence behind her eyes. She opened them slightly, and thin rays seemed to flicker and flash from beneath her lids.
Polaris spun on his heel to bring his Red Ice spear down on a spider that lurched into their circle, then unleashed three shards the length of lances into the column of arachnids crawling up the ledge.
Lia’s eyes flew wide and emitted white rays of light as Mirra’s energy coursed through them both, until a brilliant ring of white radiated from the ground around them and burst into the skies above in a majestic pillar, piercing the veil of storms and pushing the fell winds to the peak of the starry dome.
“Now!” she cried, and with the airs cleared, Polaris brought columns of Red Ice crashing down on the spiders that pursued Jaden and Darrel. The two of them reached the lip of the Ordon Spring fountain as the other three were instantly teleported to it from the ledge by Lia. The sudden warp had decoupled the spiritual link Mirra used to bond their power and banish the storms, and the pale light now left both their eyes.
“What black magick is this?” Darrel wondered aloud. A field of Blue Fire danced just over the surface of the shimmering wading pool, and when Darrel swung his sword close it not only lashed out and repelled his blade, but fused the pool below into a black sheen of solid ice.
The fusion rippled out until the entire pool was an obsidian black disc, with a layer of Blue Fire billowing inches above in coarse and tumbling waves.
“There’s more to the Hated’s curses than beasts and blizzards,” Polaris intoned, drawing close. He brandished Winter’s Tide, and the red glow seemed to hasten at the proximity to its opposite pole, until the five gathered at Spring of Ordon were bathed in its crimson hue. “Allow me.”
Polaris took one step onto the dark ice, and it withdrew at his advance, evaporating in blue plumes of flame as he approached. He burned a path through the center of the ice until he reached the center, then raised Winter’s Tide up with both hands on the hilt, let out a war cry, and plunged the blade into the fountain’s heart.
A maelstrom of red light and blue flame suddenly engulfed them all, and Jaden was barely able to knock the group down to their stomachs as Lia prepared a telekinetic shield at their front, sending the brunt of the blast overhead.
“Alright, now who knows how to draw this bloody goat god out of his hole?” the General griped, sheathing his blade as he rejoined the others at the fountain’s edge.
“I can,” Mirra answered, stepping forward into the water. “But I need all of you to join hands.”
’Not this again,’ Lia griped in her mind, loud enough for the others to hear. ’Do all of your spells involve holding hands?’ Jaden cocked an eyebrow and gave her a sideways glance, but didn’t let go of Lia’s hand.
Mirra stooped low in the waters until she was waist deep, then tossed her cloak and visor to the dry bank, drew a deep breath, and plunged underneath. The others bowed their heads for a moment, until a point of light began to glisten in the pond’s center. A faint ringing, like a birdsong or falling rain, seemed to ripple from the shimmering surface of the pool and fill their ears.
Mirra emerged from the pool in a splash and spread her arms wide, her eyes shut, her wet hair clinging to the curve in the plate of armor at her back as she tilted her head back.
“Awake, Ordona, awake! Now is the hour of our need, and thy grace the only remedy,” she prayed in solemn tones.
In a flash, the point of light before them erupted into a gargantuan being of the woodland, a Light Spirit resembling the herd animals of Ordon. The creature brought its massive, glowing eyes to bear on the troupe, then gradually shrank until it was barely the size of the goats it mimicked.
Without saying a sword, the creature knelt down to sip the waters of its fountain gently, then glanched up at Mirra and the others without raising its head. When it had drunk its fill, the beast suddenly scraped its hooves over the waters, and neighed in a gruff, almost threatening tone. It charged forward at Mirra but she did not flinch, and when it crashed into her she stood firm as the conjured avatar crashed into her breastplate, bursting into a blinding sphere of Light.
When the brilliance subsided, Mirra found a crystalline glass bottle floating above her outstretched hands, empty except for a mote of light dancing rhythmically within. She brought it close to her ears, and could hear the same mix of birdsong and falling rain twinkling within.
“The final ingredient for the Daybreak Sword, at long last,” Darrel said aloud, no small amount of awe in his voice. He stepped forward and held his hand out, receiving the Bottled Blessing from Mirra. “We are ready to return to Gigagoron in Death Mountain.”
“I can only hope we are not too late,” Jaden grimaced. “We wouldn’t have made it this far into occupied territory unless the Interlopers were on the march.”
“They will not have reached Upper Eldin yet,” Darrel surmised. He turned to Lia. “And even if they’re at Eldin’s gate, we have a way of getting around that.”
’I guess it’s my turn now,’ she whispered to the lot. “Everyone join hands.”
Lia, Ordon Spring, Pre-Dawn 4
Lia called for everyone to join hands in preparation for teleportation. It wasn’t necessary for the mind link itself, at least not her own, but it did have a calming effect on the group. Considering the urgency and harshness of the previous few teleport, it was important to pace the next one out more carefully.
(“Focus on our destination, let it replace all other thoughts in your mind. See yourself there.”) Lia sent the thought to the group. With a gentle whoosh of the air in the space left behind, the group blinked out of Ordon and their essences rushed off to Death Mountain.
Lynn, Unknown Location, Pre-Dawn 4
It was a strange emptiness. I lack of being within and without. A disconnect from not only the world, but from herself. The core of her being felt missing. She didn't know who she was, let alone where she should be.
But then something tugged at her. Not even a thought or a feeling, it just was. Almost like a voice, but without words or intonation. And when it happened again, minutes later, she clung to it, and found herself knowing she was moving, without experiencing any change.
A woman's voice. She couldn't place it, but it was familiar. It was anchored to the tattered remains of her very being, somehow. She could trace that tiny influence, feel its hook upon her, and where it was attached was a part of herself she hadn't known was left intact.
A thought, that was all, a single idea, summed in two words. pulling her along to the inevitable destination.
And, in a split second that should not have even been remarked, everything changed. A flash, of perception, not light, blinded them all.
And when The brave Light Warriors traveling from Ordon fell once more into the normal plane of existence, they found themselves not in the heat of Death Mountain, but among the canyons of Kakariko Village. And they found themselves counting one more in number than when they had left.
Darrel Mytura, Kakariko Village, Night Three
It came through not as a coherent thought, so much as a spiritual sensation. An elemental truth. Something about the teleportation process opened them to certain things that might otherwise have gone unheard or unfelt, but in that moment Darrel felt something that had been forgotten suddenly rekindled.
In an instant that seemed an eternity, they came to be in the center of a broad, dusty thoroughfare. Cognizance of the world returned in an instant, and he found himself kneeling on one knee hunched over with the rim of his shield planted in the dirt, leaning on it for support. He blinked, lifted his head, and cast about through the gloom and the flickering orbs of light created by torches and lamps and refugee fires. Kakariko Village. Somehow they'd not been transported fully to Death Mountain where the smith awaited them. They'd been held back. Diverted. The ascent up the mountain slopes would take hours more that they did not have.
"Is everyone alright?" he asked as he used his shield to climb to his feet. With his free hand he brushed the dirt from the knees of his trousers.
"We are all here," Mirra's voice came back through the dark. "Though here is not where we meant to be."
"Something pushed us off course, obviously."
"I have a feeling I know what that might be," came another voice. As his eyes began to readjust to the twilight and the torch-flames around them, Darrel made out a figure that had not traveled with them out of Ordon, but one he knew nonetheless. She stepped closer and he could make out the tumble of silver-blonde hair, and though her face was concealed by the play of shadows across it, he could envision in his mind's eye the severe expression so often fixed upon it.
His hand drifted to Morning's Edge at his hip, though he only rested his palm upon the sunburst on its pommel.
"Lynn Annei," he said. "What game do you think you're playing here? Do you mean to keep us from the Goron forges for some fell purpose?"
Even as he spoke the words, they felt wrong to him. Daybreak Alliance. He could still feel, some fundamental truth. She was as much a part of it as he, irrespective of their personal animus. And yet the prickle at the back of his neck would not relent. He was caught between wariness and a sense of the need for trust. He wondered if the others felt it too, in their hearts.
Just then, as a pregnant silence fell upon the group, horns sounded through the night air, first high upon the mountain slopes above, then descending post by post until the horns in the village itself began to sound their low, reverberant drone, a blare of alarm and mourning both. All around, voices could be heard beneath the blaring notes as the villagers and refugees alike began to pick up on the pattern. It was not, he realized, a warning of impending attack, but a proclamation of tragedy.
"The King is dead!" he heard one woman cry out through the murk. More voices cut through to echo the lament, or wail for the hopelessness of their cause.
As if to punctuate that cry, the earth lurched beneath their feet, sending folk stumbling to their hands and knees. A fountain of liquid fire surged up into the twilight from Death Mountain's apex, casting Kakariko Village in a hellish red glare. Using his right hand, he shielded his eyes and stared up the slopes toward Death Mountain's cavernous mouth. There, within the broader flare of the volcano's eruption he could make out a point of white-gold light, a single beacon shining brilliantly and clearly against the infernal plume, a point of purest daylight in the falling dark.
"Kinslayer," he said aloud so that the rest could hear. "He's here. He's slain the King and agitated the mountain."
"He's one man," Polaris cut in, even as he brandished Winter's Tide. "We are many. More even than a few minutes ago. Let us end him quickly and be done with it."
But shortly after the words died before a gust of arid wind down off the mountain, a new sound joined the din. The clangor of armor as Hylians began to appear from below the earth, emerging from the well that watered Kakariko Village. A few soldiers, and a great many ragged refugees began pouring out into the gloom of the village's single street. Too many voices obscured the words of any one, but the truth was plain to all.
The Hidden Village was under attack. The evacuation had begun. Cries of Twili and the Hated came through clear even amid the clamor.
"There's no more time," he said softly, but loud enough that his companions could hear. He pulled the pouch off of his belt that contained the blessing and the mineral within. "They're coming. We can't all go; some need to remain here and defend Kakariko. Others need to bring these pieces to Giga up in Goron City so he can get to work.
"And one of you is going to have to come with me to face the Kinslayer." He looked at each in turn, even Lynn, but his gaze finally alighted on Jaden, the Sentinel of the Shadow Folk and his brother in arms. "What say you, Jaden? One more time, together?"
Mirra Lemeris, Kakariko Village, Long Night 3
Mirra gasped at the chaos they encountered in the old mountain village: the cries of refugees, mourning their king and country, and the drums of war from the peaks above. Even as the fires leapt from the distant crag, she took the large satchel from Darrel’s hand and fastened it to her mail skirt, under her robes.
“This war is not yet over,” she called out to her companions. “As long as Hylian, and Zora, and Goron fight together, there is hope for our land!”
A horn blared over the rooftops of the settlement, shaking the village to its foundations with the movement of the earth. She turned to Lia, still mounted on Hathor with Roc at her shoulder.
“The Kinslayer attacks from above, and the Hated from below. We must make our way into the mountain while the others hold them at bay.”
Lia nodded, and stretched her arm out as Hathor charged forward, scooping Mirra up and into the saddle at Lia’s back. She tossed the satchel into the air, and it was caught in Roc’s talons, who swiftly glided off over the warming air and up the mountainside.
“We’re right behind you, Roc!”
As her gyrfalcon flew ahead, Mirra and Lia raced up the rocky paths of Death Mountain Trail, making their way for the caves of Goron City. Falling rocks exploded from the skies and blocked their path, but with flames licking her nostrils and flickering from her hooves, Hathor crashed through them, leaving Lia and Mirra to duck under the sparks and ash.
“We must hurry! There will be no chance of teleporting in these conditions,” Lia shouted over the din to Mirra behind her. Taking the reins herself, Mirra urged the warpig mount on until they reached the lip of a large cave, with Roc waiting for them on the perch of a small wooden sign.
As they arrived, a troop of Gorons emerged from the darkness with a robed sage at their rear. The chieftain raised one large hand and trained his gruff frown on the two adventurers.
“By the way he was talking about this Daybreak Alliance, I was expecting more than a couple of girls and their pets,” one of the guards griped.
“Silence, son, this is no time for your mouth,” he chieftain barked to his subordinate, then turned to Mirra and Lia. “Where are your companions?”
“My lord, the primordial sorcerers are upon us,” Mirra began. “Our brethren face the Kinslayer in the crater of your mountain, and the Hated in the slopes below. We count Gigagoron, your blacksmith, amongst our order, and we must call him to duty now!”
Lia hopped down from Hathor and took the satchel from Roc’s beak. She turned to the Chieftain and abruptly shoved it in his hands without a word.
“Say no more, child, we will tend to this at once,” the Chieftain intoned, understanding already. “Giga has foretold your arrival these past moons.”
Another rumble of volcanic eruption shook the premises, and Mirra and Lia startled, but the Gorons seemed unperturbed.
“It will take more than a few explosions and wizards to quiet the Gorons’ forge!” the Chieftain cried out suddenly, raising the parcel over his head to the cheers of his guards. “Quickly, to the smithy!”
With that, the Gorons curled up into balls once again, and sped off into their dark halls, the light of distant fires far below casting a warm hue in the distance.
“Well, we made it this far,” Lia said once they were alone again. “No point turning back now.”
She saddled up on Hathor again and reached out her hand to Mirra. Mirra mounted the boar as well, and Roc flapped to her shoulder.
“Alright, girl, let’s see what you can really do,” Lia slapped Hathor’s reins, and the pig took off towards Death Mountain’s highest reaches with a squealing roar. Behind her, Mirra lowered her white visor, and shrugged Roc off into the harsh skies above.
Taden Horwendil, Kakariko Village, Long Night 3
Chaos greeted him like an old friend. As he emerged from the stonework well, the throngs of Hylian villagers and refugees swarmed in every direction, panicking with apocalyptic fervor—“The King is dead!” and “All is lost!” they cried, as stormclouds gathered overhead. While the erupting peak of Death Mountain glared on the horizon, its fires were obscured except for their thundering roar by a sudden veil of fog.
Taden pulled the hood of his longcoat high over his white hair as he ducked into the maddening crowd, swiftly moving unseen through the mob. Even in the foray, he could sense the proximity of two who had borne his Relics and lived: the ones called Annei and Eridanus. Their auras had changed since last they had crossed paths with those shards of his soul, but the imprint was unmistakable still. Fate had brought them hither.
“General!” he cried out, his voice breaking over the shouting crowd like a thunderclap as he unsheathed his sword, and loosed a wave of Blue Fire upon the masses. In an instant, bodies fell to the ground and shattered into piles of frost, as the dark flames lapped over the earth and reached out towards the Red Zora. “…We meet again.”
With a jolt, he leapt over the trail of frost between them, stirring up the frozen remains of his victims into a funnel of ice that swirled around him as he flew, then spun in midair to send more waves of Blue Fire lancing across the commons. High, curved walls of ice rose up around them, giving them an impromptu arena in which to spar.
“You empty vessels each faced but a fraction of my power at the Castle and the Laboratory,” he called down mockingly from the air, holding his blade Aurgelmir aloft to taunt Polaris. “You cannot imagine the heights to which I have climbed ere now.”
Without descending from the skies, Taden whipped his sword sideways, and sent a barrage of ice spikes from the ridges of his arena walls down upon his foe, then readied to parry any counterattack. He had lost track of Lynn during his attack on the crowd, but could sense that she was still nearby. He called out to them both as the first gusts of his conjured blizzard began to sweeping down from the clouds that churned above.
“Only fitting that you meet your end on the eve of Hyrule’s destruction,” he laughed, cackling as the flaming rocks of the volcano smashed through the black snowclouds. “Your war is lost, your alliance has deserted you, and now the Hated comes for you both.”
Polaris Eridanus, Kakariko Village, Eternal Night of the 3rd
“Only fitting that you meet your end on the eve of Hyrule’s destruction,” he laughed, cackling as the flaming rocks of the volcano smashed through the black snowclouds. “Your war is lost, your alliance has deserted you, and now the Hated comes for you both.”
Frozen missiles of the Hated’s design crashed down around him like rainwater as the General raised his gaze to the heavens and beheld his old nemesis, Annei was nowhere to be seen, but he knew she was lurking.. Somewhere. He could sense her with his Mark, but her exact whereabouts were shielded to him. She was a part of the darkness. Preparing to do that night work that her kind did best. He didn’t have time to worry himself over whom exactly she intended to unleash her skillset upon. She had two options and the General had no clue as to which side she now stood on.
”Only fitting that you rose so high, while I fell and fell again, forced to claw my way through first the Pit and then the Warp. Oh! The path I’ve walked betwixt hell and time would make even you shiver. I’ve met with demons more fierce than thee Horwendil. True demons borne of the abyss. Not sad little boys playing at it like it’s some sort of game.”
A crimson fist rose slowly, Winters Tide materialized in it as if called forth from the aether and his sword arm burst into a howling torrent of Red Ice, it was impossible to discern the point at which blade and arm met. He was fluid and smooth, graceful in his violence as he slashed through the night air cleaving the nearest missile cleanly in two. The projectile formed by the Hated began to hiss and spit like animal fat in the pan until steadily, its color changed to that of the scaled general and was absorbed by the sword.
”My war has raged for millennia with and without the members of this alliance so let us not imagine that their departure causes me any disquiet. For as you’ve said yourself, The Hated comes for me," He thrust his blade skyward and a bolt of blood red magic burst towards the heavens, piercing the heart of a thunderhead above. With an instantaneous peal of thunder the cloud belched forth a bolt of crimson lightning across the sky and a bloody rain began to fall both inside and out of Taden’s makeshift arena. Those villagers seeking shelter from the maelstrom found their houses, shacks and hovels cradled and enclosed in a protective shelter of red ice, as for those stragglers still wandering the streets and hiding in the dark corners Polaris could only hope that they sought refuge before all was closed to them.
A pillar of Red Ice burst from the ground beneath Polaris’ feet, bringing him into the skies from which Taden taunted, and as he rose to those lofty heights Polaris bowed cordially ”And he kindly saved me the trouble of seeking him out. There was alway going to be a reckoning between you and I and our Sheikah friend. The scales are sorely in need of balancing. Now is as good a time as any for a bit more Order.”
Breaking into a run Polaris made to close the gap between he and his foe as crimson pillars exploded into existence to meet his every step, jutting from the cold ground hundreds of feet below. Lashing out with his free hand the General snagged another of the frozen spikes still raining down around them, and spinning on the spot he used its momentum to his advantage so that he merely had to guide it to a new target. Redirected the frozen javelin hurtled towards its maker, while with an audible snap the storm that was Winters Tide detonated outwards, roiling through the night sky, jets of red ice lashing out at odd angles as it bore down on he who had once used Polaris as a vessel.
Taden Horwendil, Kakariko Village, Long Night 3
“The scales are sorely in need of balancing. Now is as good a time as any for a bit more Order.”
While Polaris preached, Taden searched the air around them for the heat he had felt from Lynn Annei, but the Zora mage’s simmering blood rain had made the air all a blur. He had doused Taden’s arena of ice in a deluge of blood magic, and blanketed the village beyond in its warmth. She could be anywhere.
“You’ll lose more than your scales trying to right that balance,” Taden quipped, freezing Polaris's jagged blood missile in midair, “but then, what is flesh to one who has already lost his soul?”
Taden burst the frozen missile into a cloud of Blue Fire that exploded as Polaris advanced, stalling his charge enough for him to draw Aurgelmir and parry the claymore blow. Polaris’s reflexes were quick, though, and with Winter’s Tide melded into his arm he was able to spin around and slam the blade into Taden’s ribs without adjusting. The chryomancer fell while the Red Ice General stood poised on his pillar.
He touched down on one of the red columns the zora had raised, battered but not injured where the blade had struck his Dusk Mail, and he looked up at his foe. Their eyes met, Taden’s cool grey stare latching on to Polaris’s red leer looking down from above, and he sunk his foot back into a low stance with Aurgelmir drawn high over his head. He smirked. And with a wordless wave of his lower hand, he taunted the Zora to dive.
At once, they both leapt from their columns, Taden rising into the air as Polaris bore down, and Winter’s Tide met Aurgelmir in foreordained conflict. They traded blows methodically around the line of pillars Polaris had raised, Taden chanting a low curse methodically all the while.
“You may lend your red fury to the ire of the Three, and hunger for their feast of Order,” Taden muttered, bouncing off Polaris’s blade and alighting the opposite post, “but my Blue Fire shall forever oppose thee, with all the cold burn of Hatred.”
Taden’s curved longsword slashed against Polaris’s claymore, great ripples of red heat and Blue Fire emanating from each encounter. While he hovered through the air and propelled himself for each strike, Polaris danced expertly from column to column, until Taden reached the highest spike, and Polaris the one below. He readied for another strike, but then noticed Polaris lingered on the low ground. He would expect the ancient general to seek the higher position, unless…
“You grow reckless in your old age, General,” Taden bemoaned. “Would that you had known me when I was a boy, like your newfound ally not so long ago.”
Before their next blow, Taden’s curse took hold on the ground below, and he felt the icy sheen of his Blue Fire creep up from the remnants of his ice walls. A ring of Blue Fire now rose up in the center of the village otherwise blanketed in Red Ice, where their fight had begun. And then he found her. Within the ring, he sensed a slight warm body moving swiftly, positioning itself among the roots of Polaris’s columns far below.
“She has rid herself of your corruption, as have I,” Polaris rejoined, casting a crimson glare around the edges of his sword.
“Ah, but is it certainty that crowns your brow, jeweled by faith in your newfound friends, or does some doubt still linger there, with the weight of time still heavy on thee?” Taden asked.
He suddenly dropped his fighting stance and ducked away from the high pillar, diving down below and conjuring the winds around him to break his fall. Polaris could conjure the Red Ice, even convert the skies to its making, but if he needed the columns to chase Taden skyward, could the Zora fly?
When he reached the ground, he let loose a broad swing of his sword in every direction, sending more waves of Blue Fire through the area and establishing a frozen perimeter under his control. The flames hacked away at the Red Ice columns, until they began to crack and buckle, their bloodred sheen slowly eroding into Blue Ash.
The display of power worked, as from behind he sensed the oncoming attack of Lynn Annei, striking out in the open now that she knew her cover was blown. Reaching behind himself, Taden slapped her thin blade away and pulled her wrist forward, unsheathing his own Hated Knife to bring it to her pale neck.
At its touch, the black blade hissed into the Sheikah’s soft skin, fusing in place with the icy touch of its metal on the sweat from beneath her cowl, pulled down now to expose her collarbone. Slowly, tongues of Blue Flame etched into her feet, crawling up her legs until reaching her waist, fixing her in place.
“You should know better than to backstab a backstabber, especially one you trained,” he whispered in her long ear, then searched the skies above for Polaris. The streaks of blood rain splashed in his face, but ironically, he could sense the Zora against the red maelstrom above by his cold blood, standing atop the nearest pillar to them.
“Let’s see how far your loyalties truly lie, General. I’m sure you remember this blade?” Taden chided, adding a bright flare of Blue Fire to the Maskmaker's Knife at Lynn's neck, slowly coating her with rime that spread upwards toward her mouth and eyes. “You could destroy us both from on high, with all the wrath of your bloody heavens, or risk your life to save hers, in the pit of my frozen hell!”