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Too Soon Edit

 Hyrule Castle Town - Marlow’s Place, Morning of the First

Marlow Huntley

Born to the south of Hyrule’s borders in a small village, Marlow escaped with his father during a vicious raid by unknown thieves. Having since been forced to grow up in poverty in the slums of Hyrule Castle Town, he now lives as a freelancer, and finds himself tiring of the constant adventuring in his older age. Yet, his greatest adventure lies ahead.

“No,” Marlow said definitively, “what makes you think you are any different than the others?”

“I have money,” the man replied, “lots of it.”

“So did they.”

“Trust me, not as much as me.”

“And why’s that?”

“My money comes from the king. I doubt the others can make that claim as well.”

Marlow eyed the man sheepishly, unsure whether or not his claim was legitimate. The man certainly looked rich alright. He was short, fat, bald, and had a generally unpleasant look about him, but all that was compensated by his expensive-looking golden silk robes and the numerous and unnecessary rings he wore on eight fingers.

“So the king sent you, did he?”

The man hesitated. “Well no, not exactly, my master sent me.”

“Oh, so the king sent him?”

“Um, no the king didn’t authori-…Look—it doesn’t matter who sent who, the point is I’m here now an-”

“What exactly is it that you do at the castle, um…I’m sorry I didn’t catch your name.” The bald man looked like he was on the verge of exploding. His face grew red with anger and he lowered his head which served only to make him look like an indignant and spoiled child who wasn’t getting his way.

“Lonlo,” he replied, “Lonlo Vrags. And I’ll have you know that I am the head administrative assistant in charge of-”

“Yeah yeah, you sort letters and . Or rather, you assist the guy who sorts letters and . Sounds important.”

Marlow knew he was being harsh, but he was having too much fun to stop. Besides, this guy needed to be brought down a few pegs; he reeked of someone who had spent his life receiving unearned respect because of who his parents were.

“To be honest,” Marlow continued, “I’m wondering why they would send someone in your…um…position to ask me this anyways. This seems more like city guard stuff.” The man glared and spoke very deliberately,

“Yes, well, the captain is very busy at the moment. I suppose I should tell you the reason for us asking you is that there was a break-in at the castle last night, and the captain thinks your target is one of the prime suspects given her, ahem, past. So are you willing to do it? I’m told you’re the best after all; surely you can accomplish this simple task. ”

The bastard’s taunting me. Probably hoping I’ll die.

Marlow paused, thinking. He didn’t necessarily need any money, but then again it wouldn’t hurt to be a little richer. “How much are you paying exactly?”

At this the esteemed Mr. Vrags reached inside his robes and produced a leather bag the size of a bomb, a bag which also happened to jingle with the tell-tale sound of rupees when he threw it on the table.

“That’s half; the other half will be paid once the job is complete.”

Marlow pulled the rope off the bag and watched as a mixture of red and silver rupees spilled onto the table. He hadn’t had a job that paid this well in years. “Half? Are you kidding me?”

“Is it not enough? I’m sure the king would be more than willing to offer a little more.” “Um, no, that’s fine thanks.”

“So does that mean you’ll do it?”

Marlow sighed deeply. Oh well, he thought, looks like I’m coming out of retirementafter all. “Yeah, I’ll do it.”

Vrags’ smile was so wide that it threatened to fall off his face. It was creepy really, almost unnatural, and it really made Marlow regret having agreed to anything proposed by a man such as this. “Wonderful!” he exclaimed, “I’m sure the king will be overjoyed to hear you have agreed to take on the task.”

Not that you’ll be the one telling him you slimy worm, Marlow thought with a smile, but he figured he would keep his mouth shut this time. Vrags reached into his pocket and pulled out a small scroll with a ribbon tied around it. “This is sign by the Captain of the Guard, it gives you permission to bypass most guards, which will be useful considering it will become much harder to enter and leave the city after last night.

Somehow I’ve become a lackey of the Royal Family, Marlow thought grimly. He didn’t particularly enjoy working on behalf of Hyrule, but at some point the amount of money he was being paid overtook his disdain for the king. “Good,” Marlow said as he took the scroll, “So that’s that. Now if you would be so kind to get out of my house.”

“Very well,” Vrags responded with a bow, “I do hope we will get to meet again soon. And remember, we want her alive.”

“Of course you do.”

When the door shut Marlow put his hands on head and fell back onto the bed in a heap. How he had gotten himself into this mess, he had no idea. Not only was he out of retirement, but he was doing it in style. Hunting down the most wanted criminal in the kingdom wasn’t exactly his idea of a leisurely activity.

Crazier still, he knew the bitch.

Or rather, he kind of knew her. He had seen her several years ago when she came to the city. Elizabeth Bryce, hard to believe she was just a minstrel back then. She was young and beautiful, and playing in a tavern may not have been the smartest move on her part, although he considered it probably earned her quite a bit of money. Marlow had had just one too many ales that night and was planning on trying to bed her despite the age difference. Unfortunately as he began to move towards her a different kind of need presented itself. He went outside to piss, and in a drunken stupor completely forgot about the lovely minstrel and ended up sleeping with the waitress instead.

After all these years and he still hadn’t changed. 

Of course that particular incident turned out to be a blessing considering who she turned into. Now it was hard to walk down any side street in Castle Town without seeing her face looking at you from a wanted sign. He had heard the stories; her alleged skill in battle he could handle, but apparently this one had magic on her side. Then again, he thought as he glanced at his sword, so did he.

He forced himself up and went to the dresser. His house was a modest one, a little two-room dwelling built into one of the side roads of West Castle Town. It had all he needed: a bed, a table, a pot, and a cup. Marlow was a man of simple taste. He opened the dresser and donned his tunic, a raggedy thing now. Perhaps after all of this was over, he mused, he could afford a new one. Shoot for the stars, he thought with a laugh.

But for now he had a job to do, and he wasn’t going to get it done sitting on his ass. He strapped his sword onto his waist and with a deep breath went out into the morning sunlight. 

Marlow, Day 1, Castletown Streets

The sun shined bright on the -covered streets of Hyrule Castle Town, creating an aroma that matched the ugliness. He traversed the maze that passed for a city with confidence, taking in the sights and sounds he knew so well: cuckoos chirping in cages, shop owners bartering relentlessly, and naked children covered in dirt chasing each other. It wasn’t much, but it was home.

This city was not as glamorous as the market district would have one believe. Castle Town was, according to what the Royal Family would have you believe, a booming economic center, a refuge for outcasts of all races, a place where one could come and hope to make something of himself, where all the hardships of the outside world would melt away in a pot filled with rupees and time stones alike.

Castle Town was hell.

In the slums, the side of town the city guard typically tried to keep visitors from seeing, the city was anything but glamorous. A stinking -hole of people scrounging from meal to meal, being forced to resort to theft and murder just to survive. People like he had been. Marlow had spent most of his childhood performing acts he had not initially been proud of. It had started small: a little piece of bread here, a couple green rupees there, but before he knew it him and his raggedy band of friends were killing city guard in order to take their armor and sell it. Marlow gradually warmed up to the idea of killing, in fact he enjoyed it. The delicious feeling he got when he put his sword into someone’s heart was unparalleled. It was that feeling that brought him out of hell. His affinity for murder earned him quite a reputation. Even better was when he found out he could profit off of it. His jobs weren’t always murders, but those usually paid the best and so he took them willingly.

He was busy spacing out and walking when a little girl holding a loaf of bread and wearing little more than rags sprinted into him on accident. “Easy there,” he said with a smile, “where are you off to in such a hurry?” 

The little girl looked up at him with eyes wide with fear before turning back to look down the street where two city guards were sprinting towards them with their swords out. 

“Run,” Marlow said quickly, “now!”

The little girl took no time in following orders, sprinting past him and into a side alley. “Stop her!” one of the guards shouted, now thirty yards away, “Stop the thief!” Marlow positioned himself in the middle of the street, taking out his sword.

“I said stop her you idiot, not us! Now, in the name of the king, we order you to sheath your sword and stand down!”

“No,” Marlow replied coolly, “but you know what I’ll do instead? If either of you two take one more step forward, I’ll kill you both.”

One of the guards laughed. “It’s two on one, two trained guards versus a single commoner. You aren’t even wearing armor. What chance do you think you could have against us? In fact I don’t even care about the girl anymore, it’s scumbags like you that we need to be making an example of. No slum rat has the right to address the king’s city guard like that.”

The other guard wasn’t laughing though, he was looking at Marlow’s sword while his simultaneously shook in his hand. “Jorg come on, l-let’s just let this guy go, ya? We have no problem with him.”

“No problem?” the other one replied, “Did you hear the insolence he showed us? You will help me bring him down or you can bet your ass that you won’t be wearing that armor in the morning.”

Marlow hadn’t moved in two minutes, he had stayed perfectly still with the slightest of smiles on his face. Come on, he thought, make the first move.

The guard called Jorg, with his heavily armored body, took a step forward. It was all Marlow needed.

Marlow sprinted forward, covering the 20 yards in three seconds and engaged the guard. His first swing was blocked, but Marlow’s speed overwhelmed the man. The second swing perfectly penetrated the space in the armor around the knee. The guard went down to his knees screaming and Marlow stabbed his throat quickly and efficiently. 

His partner stood dumbfounded as his partner dropped to the ground in a pool of blood. “Please,” he pleaded, “I never liked him anyway,” before dropping his sword and sprinting as fast as he could down the street. Marlow let him go, he figured that one wouldn’t make the same mistake again. He looked around the street at the faces peering out from around corners and stalls filled with fear. Laughing to himself, he cleaned his sword with a towel under his cloak and continued on his way whistling a jaunty tune.

Marlow Huntley/Morning 1/A Tavern in HCT

The ten or so people in the tavern went immediately silent when Marlow said the name. They stared at him with grim and fearful looks on their faces, some showing pity, others anger. “Come on,” the man sitting with Marlow said in a whisper, “Let’s go somewhere more private.” They stood up and moved to a table in the back corner shrouded in shadows. The people gradually returned to their conversations, but every now and then they would hazard glances at the Marlow, never lingering for too long.

“Look at ‘em,” they would say, “ain’t nothin’ but trouble gonna come outta that pair.”

“Tha’s that bounty hunter, ya know, The Hunter they call him.”

“Well ‘e picked the wrong person ta hunt if ya ask me.”

“I doubt ‘e can even find her, unless ‘e pissed her off first. Ain’t nobody gonna find her if she don’ wanna be found.”

“Nah, Sergey’ll know where she is.”

“Bad news for the Hunter then.”

Marlow pretended not to hear as he and Sergey talked in whispers. They were right about one thing though: if anyone knew where to find Elizabeth Bryce it was Sergey. He was entwined in the criminal world of Hyrule more than anyone, and to find a criminal you had to think like one.

“Marlow,” he said as they sat down, “ya can’t be coming in here and throwing around names like…” he paused, then continued in a whisper, “like Elizabeth Bryce. You’ll scare people. Now I like ya Marlow, we never had reason to buck heads in the past, so I’m telling you as a friend, do not go after this woman. You’ll die and you know it.”

“Sergey, listen, I appreciate what you’re doing for me but-“

“No!” Sergey exclaimed, “no ‘buts.’ Do not go after her, you can’t win. And that bounty ain’t worth it anyways.”

“I would agree with you if I was being paid the bounty. Trust me, I’m being paid much more.”

“How much more?”

“Enough to never have to work again. Enough to buy houses in the Market District for both me and my daughter. Sergey, look, I am going after her with your help or not. All I’m saying is if I had some help it might make it a bit easier for me.”

“A bit easier for you to die, ya mean?”

Marlow didn’t answer this time, just looked at Sergey with the slightest of smiles and imploring eyes. Sergey stared back before taking a long drink from his mug.

“Fine,” he said as he wiped off his mouth, “I’ll help ya, but no one knows bout this but us, you got that?”

“Of course, of course.”

“What I have really ain’t much. I know two things about Elizabeth Bryce. The first and most important thing is that she and the Gerudo are on somewhat friendly terms as of late.”

This didn’t surprise Marlow too much. The newly emerged Gerudo were thieves at their core, and seemed likely candidates to buddy up to someone like Bryce.

“The second thing I ain’t as sure on. Just that a few weeks ago I heard she was ransacking down in South Hyrule Field, near the lakes.”

“That’ll work just fine, it’s a start anyways. Thanks Sergey,” he said as he stood up to leave. 

“Anything else?”

“Ya, if that sword of yours can do what I’ve heard it can do, now might be the best time to turn it on.”

Marlow Huntley/Mid day 1/HCT

His face hit the ground hard when he stepped out of the bar. Instantly guards were surrounding him on all sides, shouting orders and yanking him back to his feet where he was punched in the stomach a few times. He doubled over in pain before one of the five or so guards stepped in front of him and clenched Marlow’s chin, forcing him to look into his face. 

“This is for Jorg,” was all he said before he brought an armored fist right into Marlow’s face.

Marlow Huntley/Early Morning 2/Behind Hyrule Castle Walls

"Dad, come one dad wake up."

"Wha-"

"Screw it, give me the jar."

Marlow burst awake as cold water was unceremoniously poured all over him. It took him a moment to register where he was. Hands were raised above him chained to a post in the stone wall behind him. He stood hesitantly on grass and could feel wind, meaning he was outside. He could make out the form of two guards looking at him, as well as, yes, next to them was his daughter Ella.

"Well what in bloody hell was that for!?" Marlow exclaimed, still somewhat confused about how he got here.

"I think I've waken you up after enough drunken nights to know what works on you," Ella said smiling. "Now will one of you two cut him down?"

"Here, let me, but you better thank me for this," said one of the guards. But this was not just any guard, Marlow suddenly realized. Marlow had few true friends, but the man unchaining him was certainly one of them. Kelvin Blythe was Marlow's oldest friend, and certainly the one that knew him the best. "Just be thankful that I was the one that found your daughter sneaking around and not one of the others scared shitless by the prospect of shadow monsters."

"Sneaking, what?" Marlow asked as his hands were freed from the wall. "Will someone please explain to me what is going on?"

"Sergey told me what happened," Ella replied, "with the guards knocking you out and bringing you to the castle. So last night I snuck in trying to find you. Scaling the wall wasn't so hard, nor was knocking out the guards up there. To be honest they seemed rather incompetent," she added with a giggle.

Marlow couldn't help but feel some pride. Only 19 and already his beautiful daughter was besting Castle Town's finest with ease.

"Yes, but luckily I wasn't," Kelvin said with a much more scathing tone than Marlow felt he was capable of. "Ella, there was a break in last night and you thought it would be a good idea to pull something like this? You should be dead right now." 'Uncle Kelvin,' as Ella referred to him as, was different than Marlow in many ways, his love of the law being the main one. In a way it was almost as if Ella had two fathers, one to teach her the ways of freelancing and one to bring her back down to the land of the law and of safety. 

"I found her hiding behind some bushes," Kelvin continued, "she told me you were being held back here so I went to the Captain to clear this up." He motioned to the other guard who had remained silent this entire time.

"Hello Marlow, I've been anxious to meet you."

"Constable Felick I presume. Your reputation precedes you." That reputation being one of strict adherence to the letter of the law with even stricter punishments. They had never crossed paths before, but Marlow had always assumed they wouldn't get along.

"As does yours mister Huntley, as does yours. No need to mince words here, I want you to know that the only reason your alive right now is because of the mission that was delivered to you yesterday morning. Killing guards is not something I look upon with a merciful glance. Nor would I normally consider hiring you to help us, but then again these are special times aren't they?"

"Special how?" Ella butted in. "What exactly is happening."

Felick looked at her coldly. "It seems a very important artifact was stolen last night, an artifact that could lead to all-out war if the proper precautions aren't taken. That, mister Huntley, is where you come in as you already know."

"Daddy what's he mean, what are you supposed to do?"

"He's been hired to bring in Elizabeth Bryce," Kelvin said emotionless.

Ella's jaw dropped and a wave of fear and anger took it over. "Absolutely not! No! No he's retired he's not doing that sort of thing anymore, right?" She looked at Marlow for support.

"I'm sorry Ella," he replied, "but I'm being paid far too much to turn this down." He didn't want this, to have to explain to her what he was doing, why he was doing it. He didn't want her involved at all, but it was too late for that.

"Too much indeed," the constable said, "but your friend here informed me you wouldn't be willing to help for anything else. I'll be blunt Huntley, I don't like you and I don't like what you stand for. But you're good at what you do and I know it. At the moment it's chaos. Two guards killed in one day, everyone's running around with no purpose, preparing for a war seems bound to happen. And we don't know a damn thing. No leads, no hints of a lead. Bryce is currently one of the few any of us can think of who would have the gall to pull a stunt like this. But I'm also aware that sending any of my guards after her would be a suicide mission. Besides, we need all the manpower we can muster to be here inside the city walls. So I say once again, consider yourself lucky to be alive, you have been put into a very...fortuitous situation."

"Fortuitous!?" Ella exclaimed. "He's going after a person you just said would be a suicide mission for any guard and you're saying his situation is fortuitous?"

"Ella shush," Kelvin said a bit too happily. "He won't be going alone."

Marlow looked up smiling, "you don't mean..."

"Yep, I'm going with you."

Marlow Huntley/Whatever the medieval equivalent to a mess hall is Inside the Barracks/Morning 2

Marlow sat smiling at the table drinking the free ale with his best friend Kelvin as his daughter sulked at the other end of the table not saying anything. "So you're really coming with me on this dangerous, suicidal, crazy, made-for-younger-people-than-us mission, huh? You sure you can handle it?"

"Me handle it? It was always me saving your ass back in the day anyway. Remember that giant Octorok that had you swarmed when we were getting a Water Dragon Scale in Floria?"

"The Octorok? I had that covered the whole time, but don't get me started on when you were screaming my name because of a pack of, what were they again Kelv? Was it keese? Ya? Scared by some keese were ya?"

They laughed and drank and reminisced while Ella had her hands in her head on the table. In many ways she was just like her father. He had trained her with various weapons from a young age, although she had never liked the big swords her father used. A couple of long knives and some throwing stars were what she liked to use. And like her father she opted out of most armor, wearing little an old brown and green tunic and some nice hunting boots. 

Her father used to joke that the Huntley colors were the colors of the forest, for hunters liked to blend in. Once upon a time she had liked hearing that because it made her feel special, like a noble. Only noble names had their own colors after all. But now she knew better, she had learned the way the world works. No one gives a shit about a Huntley and certainly no one cares if one lives or dies. They’ll send the Huntleys on these missions all they want, and if one dies then no big loss. 

No big loss.

But it was a big loss. It was a huge loss. Her father. She couldn’t truly process the idea of him being dead. Her mother was, as far as she knew, some whore still living somewhere in the city who had dropped her off when she was a baby with a letter scrawled, She cries too much on it. But Marlow Huntley hadn’t cared about the crying. He took that baby without second thought and raised her as well as he could.

Ella loved him for that. 

No big loss my ass.

If Elizabeth Bryce could be defeated (and that was no sure things, there were rumors going around that she was immortal) then why did it have to be her father that had to do it? Ella had no answer for that, but she did have a plan. One that she silently formed as her father and uncle ranted about their illustrious past adventures.

That's the thing about the past: no matter which way you spin it, it is, in fact, passed.

Meredith Delaan/Morning 2/Popper's Bombs and Sundries Shop

As arranged the night prior, Meredith returned to Popper's Shop to negotiate the specifics of her ordered jewelery. As she opened the door, she was greeted with a surprise.

"Meredith Delaan, you are under arrest for the possession and purveyance of a timeshift stone. Please come peaceably."

"Wh-What? A huh? I..." Her confusion was evident in both her expression an inflection. The guards had none of it. "If you just come with us, we'll get this all sorted out for you, ma'am. Don't cause trouble, and I'm sure a nice young girl like you can get off light."

She nonetheless fretted, wringing her hands together. "Oh! This is no good! I'll be fired for sure..."

Still, she put up no resistance, and was taken to the cells inside Hyrule Castle with no incident.

Hyrule Castle Prison Cells

Two Hours Later

Meredith sat in the cell with her knees hugged to her head. It was a most unpleasant place to be stuck for hours on end, she could hardly imagine the life of those people who were jailed for days, or even years. The voices of the guards carried to her.

"So, this is a timeshift stone, eh? Don't seem too dangerous to me."

"Ahre, you best put that away 'fore Cap'n Felick comes back. He'll chew you a new asshole if'n he catches ya with it!"

"Oh, put a cork in it, Knowle! I been chewed out afore. 'Sides, ain't like I'm doin' nothin' dangerous 'th it! 'M just lookin', s'all."

Meredith glanced through the bars at the two arguing guards. The timeshift stone was being tossed from hand to hand by the man identified as Ahre. The other, Knowle, had his chair leaning back against a wall but was glaring at Ahre and the stone.

"If you drop that an' somethin' 'appens, I'll kick yer ass m'self!"

"Come off it, already!"

The door to the cells opened, and two things happened: Ahre nearly dropped the timeshift stone and Knowle's chair scraped away from the wall as he fell startled to the floor. A female guard entered through the now-open doorway.

"Din's Tits, Arand!" shouted Knowle. "Ya don't need to just barge in like that! Ya scared the shit outta me! Try walking in nice and calm-like, as a normal person would."

Arand snorted derisively at her coworker. "Maybe if you two knuckleheads weren't screwing around, my entrance would have been less disconcerting."

"Fer the love of Nayru, Arand..." Ahre said with a roll of his eyes, "you an' yer fancy talk."

"Well, unlike some other guards in this room, I did not grow up shoveling shit. Get off the ground, you louse! Madame Impa says the girl can go free."

Meredith perked at the happy news. She unfurled herself from the fetal position and watched the room outside with full attention.

"Come on," continued Arand, "we're going to lock up that stone before you get us all in trouble!"

With that, Ahre followed Arand from the room, a sullen look on his face, leaving Knowle to release Meredith. He gave her a duty look as he searched his keyring.

"Don't see why she gets off scot-free an' the Mogma had to go see the Spook." he mumbled as he unlocked the door. "Don't seem fair to me. Pretty young girl like her gettin' special treatment."

Meredith started toward the door, about to offer a thank you for her release when he suddenly pushed her back into the cell. As she fell to the cold stone floor, she could hear him advancing on her. "Don't seem fair at all. Think maybe you need a lesson."

Fear filled her gaze as she looked up at him. He was unbuckling his belt with a dark look in his eyes. That was too much for her.

"I think only one person in this cell needs a lesson, Knowle." It was a voice, but it was not Meredith's. It was darker, deeper, and came from no visible source. The light from the torches dimmed, though they burned as fervently as ever, and suddenly the young girl seemed to melt.

"A noble guard in the employ of the King of Hyrule should not abuse his authority." A palpable ball of shadows replaced Meredith, formless and terrifying. "You have moments to live, best make peace with your Goddesses, and answer my next question honestly."

Knowle's stared in horror at the blackness before him. "Nayru's love..." It was no discredit to the man that he wet himself in those final moment, as the shadows ceased roiling and settled into a new form; that of pale-skinned woman of average height and medium build, with a burning red mane falling over her shoulders.

"Where have they taken the stone?"

Knowle only managed a whimper, staring into intense sapphire eyes. Those eyes saw more than his terrified visage, and across Knowle's mind flashed chaotic pictures as he envisioned the route through the halls that would take Arand and Ahre to the evidence lock-up. Moments later, the same path carried Alauth in its new form, leaving behind a new victim in the middle of Hyrule Castle's own jail.

Marlow Huntley/Morning 2/Hyrule Castle Courtyard

Marlow walked with Kelvin and Ella at his sides feeling a little buzzed from the drinks he and his friend had already been indulging in. Ella was still sulking at his side, not saying much. He understood her feelings, but still felt she was being selfish. He was never meant for a life cooped up in one place. The boredom of the past several years had been growing on him, and only now was he beginning to realize that this is what he had wanted all along. Going out with his best friend on one last great adventure, possibly the greatest he would ever have. What better way to top off a career than bringing down the infamous Elizabeth Bryce?

As they were walking towards the exit, two soldiers, a woman and a man, halted their journey and saluted Kelvin. "Lieutenant," the woman said formally before she elbowed the other guard prompting him to mumble the same.

Kelvin nodded, "Arand, good morn-" he paused, looking at the purple stone she held in her hand, "so that's it, huh?"

"What," Marlow asked, "that's what?"

"Felick had informed me that we had found an illicit timeshift stone last night. I assume you are taking it to the vault Arand?"

"Evidence actually, sir."

Kelvin nodded, "very well. I should accompany you there. Even behind our walls items that powerful are never safe."

"A little paranoid there don't you think?" Marlow jested.

"Not with timeshift stones. Never can be too paranoid with items like this." He put out his palm and Arand dutifully handed over the stone. He stored it in his pouch, "never too paranoid," he repeated.

"Mind if I tag along?" Marlow asked.

The other guards looked wary but Kelvin would never turn down his old friend. "Sure, if you want. But don't go stealing anything in there. That's all evidence on active cases. Ella, you should go home though."

Ella looked indignant, but maintained her recent vow of silence.

"Aw come on Kel," Marlow said, "it's not everyday us common citizen have a chance to see something like this."

Kelvin hesitated, but eventually agreed. The five of them then turned and began walking across the courtyard toward the guard house where several long and winding hallways would take them to the evidence room.

I'm Not Your Ma Edit

Castle Jail Halls, The Second Morning

Alauth posing as: Elizabeth Bryce

She marched with an air of self-confidence through the halls of the Castle. Not a guard was found along her path, an oversight she found most amusing. They were overconfident, not expecting an infiltrator so deep in their territory. How cocky, after the events of only two nights ago. But her luck seemed to have worn thin over the intervening minutes. Ahead were the voices of Arand and Ahre, and two others she did not recognize. They had found back-up. Knowing there was nothing worse than marching into an unknown situation, Alauth decided to even the playing field a bit.

Seconds Later-Meredith Delaan

Meredith ran scrambling around the corner, a look of sheer terror twisting her face. She ran full-tilt into a grey-bearded man, and clung to him for support as her legs lost their strength. She tried to scream, but sobs racked her body and stole her breath.

"Whoa, there, little lady. Slow down," the man calmly directed her, in a soothing voice. "What's the matter?" ==

She hiccuped, relying entirely on his support for her beleaguered body. Finally, she was able to stammer a hoarse response. "H-He's dead... M-Murder!"

Suddenly the entire group stiffened, entering high alert. The one guard she didn't recognize addressed her next. "Who's been killed?"

Meredith whimpered, recalling some horrific memory no doubt, and gave a choked answer. "The guard!"

Ahre spat out a curse. "Knowle!"

The other man, who seemed a leader to the two guards, remained calm but shot a scathing look at Ahre. He returned his attention to Meredith, his controlled demeanor attempting to soothe her. "Who killed him?"

Meredith's eyes widened, showing nearly all white, as she uttered a name that was a curse in itself. "Evil Elly Bryce!"

Marlow Huntley/Morning 2/Jail House Hallways

There was a collective intake of air by all five when little Meredith said the name. Ahre's eyes went wide with fear as Marlow's hand went instinctively to his sword.

"Dad, no!" Ella instantly said, breaking her silence. "If she's here, then we need to leave, Let the guards handle this!"

"Easy Ella," Kelvin said slowly, "I'm sure our friend here is mistaken." 

Marlow's eyes were narrow with contemplation as thoughts raced through his head. How could this be possible? How could someone like Bryce just appear in the jail cells behind the walls of the castle?

Kelvin took a step forward and put a hand on one of Meredith's shoulders in an attempt to calm down her rampant and heavy breathing. "Now I need you to be very sure of this. Describe the person you saw for us."

Meredith's words were interjected by occasional sobs. "I--sniff--her hair was long and--sniff--red, her--sniff--pale skin. It was her, I'm sure of it. I've seen her pictures all over town. And she...she," Meredith broke down again crying hysterically. 

Kelvin looked at Marlow somberly, "We should check this out. Even if it's not her, it sounds like another murder has taken place."

Marlow nodded and unsheathed his sword. It glowed a faint red, "I'm ready when you are."

"And just what am I supposed to do?" Ella said indignantly.

"You," Kelvin replied, "are to take her and get her to safety." He nodded towards Meredith.

"I-I'll go too!" Ahre butted in, his eyes still showing the fear of hearing Bryce's name. "After all, they need to know, ya know, where to go and all."

Arand shot him a scathing look but he ignored it. 

"Very well," Kelvin replied, "but take the back exit. Stray away from jail cells." He stopped to think. They were underground now, the cells were back several hallways and up the stairs. It would take a minute or two to get there, so they would have to hurry to catch whoever committed the murder. 

"Dad, let me come too," Ella pleaded. "Please!"

Marlow almost said yes, but stopped himself when he saw the look Kelvin gave him. "No, Kelvin's right. Go with these two, get to safety."

Ella looked indignant but said nothing.

"Come on, we better get moving," Kelvin said. And with that Marlow, Kelvin and Arand took off towards the cells while Ahre Meredith and Ella went the opposite direction.

Ella and the other two hadn't been walking for more than thirty seconds when she began to fall back. The other two were walking feverishly, especially Ahre as he tried to get as far away as possible. Meredith was struggling to keep up with him. Ella didn't have to pull any special tricks, she eventually just stopped walking as the other two, too concerned with their own lives to worry about her, continued on. Ella waited until they were out of sight before she doubled back hoping to be able to navigate the hallways and find the jail cells.Meredith Delaan Meredith ran, lagging somewhat behind the self-concerned Ahre. She found it odd, however, the she was able to outrun the girl who had been ordered to follow them. She had seemed in better shape than that. Sparing a glance backward, Meredith noticed a distinct lack of followers. The girl had left them. Well, one less complication, at least, thought Alauth.


As Meredith ran, her features began to melt and shift. Her hair grew red, her skin faded to pale. She grew taller, and filled out into sensuous curves. Finally, her clothes grew rigid, and a sheath sprouted from her back. Ahre noticed the distinct rattle of armor running behind him. He peeked over his shoulder, and let out a strangled gurgle of fear.


"Fu-No! Shit!" Somehow, he managed to run faster. Alauth as: Elizabeth Bryce Elizabeth just laughed at his terror. It was a soothing expression to her, causing a wicked grin to split her lips. She drew her darksteel blade.


"At least you're running, for all the good it will do you. Knowle just stood there and cried while I eviscerated him."


Ahre heaved a sob, his breath failing him in his dead sprint from the infamous murderer. He stumbled and fell, rolling to a stop on the ground. Elizabeth slowly continued her stride toward him. "Don't be sad, your death serves a higher calling."


He managed to draw his sword. "I-In the name of His M-m-majesty, King Dromand Hyrule, you are under arrest," he croaked, pausing before managing an awed finish to his proclamation, "Elizabeth... Bryce..."


She tisked at him. "A for effort, kid."


And then she was on him, her sword knocking aside his weak defense and plunging into his gut, slicing him stomach to sternum. She wrenched the blade out from him, and watched as his entrails quickly became him ex-trails. She wiped the blade clean on an unblemished portion of his shirt, and then it melted down into her hand as she shrunk. She briefly plucked the timeshift stone from his pouch, and then abruptly... swallowed it. Meredith Delaan Meredith looked down at her torso. By all accounts, it had been torn asunder in much the same way as Ahre's had been. Alauth could feel the weight of the timeshift stone caught in her body, occupying the space where a normal Hylian's kidney would have been found.


She let out an ear-splitting scream of bloody murder that echoed down the halls of the jail, and then fell dead at Ahre's side. ~Castle Cells~ Marlow Huntley The trio burst the door into the cells, Kelvin first with Marlow and Arand shortly behind, all three with their swords drawn and ready for anything. There was no killer however, merely a corpse spotted with blood laying face down.


"Goddess--" Arand cursed, "the girl was right."


Kelvin said nothing as he walked up and turned Knowle over and felt his pulse. He didn't expect to feel anything anyway.


"The killer has fled the scene, which means that he or she is still within castle grounds. Arand, go find Constable Felick right now and tell him to put everyone on high alert and to-" he was cut off by a faint sound. A scream, a young girl's scream, echoed through the door.


Marlow met Kelvin's eyes for half a second as they came to the same realization. "Ella," Marlow breathed, and he sprinted out the door.


---------


Ella was lost. Worse than that, she didn't even know how to get back to Meredith and Ahre. The hallways that comprised the basement of the guard towers seemed an impossible labyrinth of narrow, grey-brick walls. Great, now I'll have to explain to the first guard who finds me why I'm down here alone in the first place. But as if an answer to her prayers, a scream came through the hallways loud and clear. It was Meredith, and without thinking Ella sprinted towards her, determined to find out what was wrong.


---------


Marlow's sprint came to a dead halt when he found the bodies. Both the guard and the girl were spread out on the floor creating pools of blood. Kelvin and Arand caught up with him to find Marlow standing motionless over the two. He turned to the pair slowly, making eye contact with Kelvin. "She's not here," was all he could think to say. But what that meant he did not know. Had she escaped? Had Bryce--he was content with accepting that this was her work for the time being--taken her hostage? And either way, what had happened of Bryce?


Suddenly he snapped and started to yell, "Ella! Ella where are you!?"


Faintly, "Dad! Dad I'm here keep yelling!"


"Shit," Marlow whispered, and he ran past Kelvin and Arand towards the sound of his daughter's voice.


"Ella!"


"Dad!"


"Ella!"


"Dad!"


Finally he turned a corner and she was there, running towards him. They collided in a hug as Marlow cried slightly, "Thank the Goddess you're OK. I thought I had lost you."


"Lost me? Dad what are you talking about, I'm fine. Has something happened?"


Marlow didn't answer right away, "Come on, you'll see." And they began walking back to the others.


--------


As soon as Marlow ran past him, Kelvin turned to Arand. "Arand, find the Constable, tell him put the whole Castle on high alert. Lock all the gates, no one in or out. I'll move the bodies myself. Tell him to look for-" he paused.


"Sir, for what? Look for what?"


"Elizabeth Bryce." Castle Prison Hallways Marlow had his arm wrapped around his daughter as he rounded the corner to find Kelvin kneeling down to inspect the bodies. He turned at their arrival but said nothing. There was really nothing to be said. As Marlow approached he got his first good look at the dead pair; her clothes were tattered, his armor slashed through as if it were nothing. The bleeding had ceased and they now lay in pools that covered half the narrow hall. 


Kelvin rose slowly, addressing Marlow, "At the moment, we have to assume the worst. We can't know for sure, but we have to treat this like it really is Elizabeth Bryce who is doing this. It looks like our adventure has come to us this time."


Marlow looked at the bodies contemplating, "But it doesn't make sense, does it?"


"What do you mean?"


"Think about it. Why would Bryce break into the castle two nights ago, then randomly return to the scene of the crime? For what purpose? If she were interested in committing petty murder I would think she could do that outside the castle walls just as easily."


Kelvin paused, "Maybe she never left."


"No," Marlow said, shaking his head, "I trust you all had enough sense to perform a thorough search?"


"Of course but-"


He was cut off by the sound of someone rounding the corner from behind them; two people, they discovered when they turned around. Constable Felick, striding gracefully, and Arand, near sprinting, approached. The constable said nothing at first, merely walked up and focused on the bodies.


"Well," he said, turning to Kelvin, "explain the situation."


Kelvin went into meeting Arand and Ahre on their way to the evidence room, Meredith running up about a murder, how they had gone back to investigate and then returned to find this.


The constable was only concerned with one thing, "And what of the time stone, do you still have it?"


Kelvin's heart skipped a beat as he reached into his pockets to discover that it was gone. Thinking back he had no idea what had happened to it. "It's gone! Sir, I-by the goddess-I had it."


Felick ignored his fumbling, not missing a beat, "And what of any leads?"


Kelvin had left out the part about Bryce in his story. "Yes well, ahem, according to Meredith, it was-um- it was Elizabeth Bryce. Sir."


At this Felick's eyes went wide, the first sign that he was rattled at all. "She-she's back?"


Marlow cut in at this, "Sir, I don't think she was here in the first place. She might be here now but-"


"Shut up! I don't care why she's here! The fact of the matter is we have a missing time stone and Bryce is in the castle."


Ella became hostile, speaking up for the first time, "Don't talk to my da-"


She was cut off, Felick not seeming to notice the girl. "Kelvin, Huntley," saying the latter with a twinge of disgust, "follow me. Inform every guard of the situation. Shut the gates. Arand, stay here and keep guard. You, girl, "he said, now addressing Ella, "find a doctor and send him down to assist Arand with the bodies."


Marlow squinted his eyes at this but said nothing. With that, the three ran off, leaving Arand alone with the dead Ahre and the dead Meredith.

Constable Felick Constable Felick was not easily frightened, nor was he by any means dumb. He had never truly believed Bryce had been the thief in the first place, but he had felt that he had to do something, to start somewhere. That was why he had hired Huntley after all. Sending a mercenary on a fool's errand had seemed sufficient at the time. But if Bryce had really come here, if she was inside the castle, then there were only two reasons.


He watched as Kelvin ran to the castle gate, the great city looming just beyond. Up the stairs his lieutenant ran, to the top of the walls above the gate and he started ringing the bell. The thunderous sound roared out over the city, meaning only one thing: attack. Immediately, he knew, the city gates and the castle gates alike would be shut, denying both entrance and exit to everybody All off-duty guards would don their armor and begin patrolling, and the number of guards around the castle itself would soon be doubled. They were going to find Bryce, wherever she was. He had only one concern, though: the king. If Bryce was here, then he would more than likely be the target. Castle Medical Quarters Doctor Phillip Hak Life had become rather depressing for Doctor Phillip Hak. Ever since the break-in, he had performed more funeral preparations than medical procedures. And with the sounding of the alarm bell, he very well expected the death toll to rise, rather than slack.


A young girl burst through the door to the medical quarters and soon proved herself the herald to the fulfillment of that prophecy.


"Is there a doctor in the Castle?" she asked, breathless.


"I'm a doctor." he replied, with the smallest of sighs. "What seems to be the problem?"


"There's been a few murders. Constable Felick sent me to fetch you to help Arand with the bodies."


Doctor Hak lifted the glasses from his face and rubbed the bridge of his nose, hoping to curtail the imminent headache.


"Alright... Lead the way..." Murder Hall Doctor Hak cringed as they neared the site of the murders. He could already smell the blood. Oh. This is going to be bad. The young girl and he rounded the corner and his fears were proven more than adequately correct. There was blood spread all over the floors, and some splattered up the walls. There was, to his relief, none on the ceiling.


He saw Arand standing guard over the two bodies. She seemed to be slightly ill, but otherwise fine. The bodies at her feet were in far less healthy condition. Each was split up the middle, with entrails spilled over the flagstone.


"Okay, Arand. Let's move these bodies up to the morgue, then. As for you, young lady..."


He turned to address the girl that had led him to this grisly murder only to find her already gone.


"Huh. Well... how rude. Eh, anyway, to work." Castle Guard Medical Quarters, Over Half an Hour Later Henrietta Arand Arand's uniform was a great deal more uncomfortable to wear smattered with gore after moving the bodies of Ahre, Knowle and Meredith to the medical quarters' morgue, but she couldn't yet clean herself up and change. She was currently posted outside the morgue, keeping guard over the medical quarters while the Doctor worked in the morgue. There were currently no other guards inside, the rest assigned to patrol routes around the hallways.


There was a bit of a clatter from the morgue, and then Doctor Hak's voice shouted muffled by the door. "Arand! Can you give me a hand in here?"


Arand sighed, picking some dried flecks of person from her cuirass. She trudged over to the morgue's door, pushed it open and gasped in pain and confusion at the sword suddenly sprouting from her gut. She fell back, and lifted her gaze to peer into the deep sapphire eyes of Elizabeth Bryce.


"Hello there, Arand. That wound looks rather fatal. Best make the most of the time you have left. You see, I have a few questions for you..." Castle Guard Medical Quarters Morgue Doctor Phillip Hak Considering his line of work, it was something of note that the two corpses before Doctor Hak were some of the worst with which he had ever had the displeasure of working. Most deaths in Castle Town were random slayings, acts of passion. The deaths of Meredith Delaan, Kaleb Knowle and Petor Ahre were more calculated. Each strike was made with precision. The Meredith girl was by far the worst. She was made to suffer before expiring.


"How terrible..." the doctor said with a snort, leaning closer to squint at a particularly exquisite incision on the girl's body.


Meredith's eyes opened, impossible though it may seem given the state of her body. Doctor Hak attempted a scream of terror, but the exclamation was caught in his throat by the hand suddenly wringing his neck. Meredith's hand tightened, digging bloody nails into his skin as his eyes bulged. Meredith's face maintained a pale expressionless stare as the doctor's complexion only grew more florid. Then everything in him changed with no discernible difference, and he slumped into the rigor mortis grasp of Meredith's fist. With a creak and a snap, her fist unfurled and the mortal remains of Doctor Hak crumpled to a heap on the floor. Meredith turned, her head lolled unnaturally to one side, and called to the door.


"Arand! Can you give me a hand in here?"


It was the voice of Phillip Hak. Medical Quarters Henrietta Arand Whatever this beast was, this wretched creature known to Hyrule as Elizabeth Bryce, Arand no longer wanted anything to do with it. She clutched her gut, doing what she could to staunch the bleeding, but she could tell it was only a matter of time. Bryce was known to offer no mercy, and without medical care, the wound was fatal. It was a sobering realization, but in a way also liberating. Knowing one's death was mere moments away gave one a dark humor at the world. For example, Bryce was wasting her time asking about Arand's personal life, rather than what would seem the more important questions regarding castle security and the protection of King Dromand. It was a bit surreal, and more than a bit amusing. To think her final moments would be spent, as was so often purported in stories, in contemplation of the life she had lived.


"So," Arand said, with a coughing laugh, "I guess this is what they mean when they say, 'My life flashed before my eyes.'?"


And then she laid her head back against the wall, and passed cast off the mortal coil. Alauth as: Elizabeth Bryce Elizabeth dragged the body of Arand into the morgue, and placed it on the slab that had once held Meredith. Alauth had garnered all it needed from the interrogation.


"Now, there is but one remaining service you must provide, and I shall leave you to your rest."


Unsheathing her darksteel longsword, Elizabeth set to work hacking apart Arand's body, mutilating her features beyond any hope of recognition. The bodies of Ahre and Knowle and the torso and limbs of the unidentifiable female were laid out on the floor in, seen from the door, an upside-down Triforce. The doctor's body was split open up the middle, his innards spread across the room.


"And now, the finishing touch..."


Elizabeth closed her eyes, and the change began once more. Her hair pulled back into her skull, and then out from her skull it took on an auburn color. Her skin darkened to a more natural complexion, freckles popping up here and there. Her eyes opened, revealing themselves to be hazel with light green flecks.


She looked at both her arms, and the skin split up her forearms, turning into bloody but superficial gashes. She rubbed her hands over her face, and multiple lacerations graced it when she once more lowered them. And then her hair was a disheveled mess, matted with blood. Her clothes were the torn and tattered remnants of a guard's uniform, only barely covering her, stained as well with blood from the nicks that peppered her revealed flesh.


She crawled onto the central mortuary slab, situated in the middle triangle of the upside-down Triforce, and curled into a fetal position. Then the bloody and beaten Henrietta Arand began to sob in terrified anguish. Hyrule Castle Courtyard, The Second Day King Dromand Hyrule The day was warm and bright, and on such days the young king liked to walk through the courtyards, enjoying the flora and captive fauna and the feel of a cool breeze.


On this day, however, his guards were unusually tense, formed up around him in a tight circle of steel-encased flesh that entirely defeated the point. After half an hour of this, the king stopped his walk through the courtyard arboreal garden and turned to the head of his royal guard.


“Listen. It’s not that I don’t appreciate your concern, because I most certainly do. However, this is getting absurd.” Before the guardsmen could speak, however, a burst of smoke filled the path, and out of it stepped the lithe and graceful Impa, her cape swirling behind her and her eyes hard as agates.


She dropped into a quick bow, then straightened. “Your Majesty.”


“Ah, Impa, I thought that you would be out longer than this. I trust you delivered the message?”


She nodded. “I move quickly. The message was received, I assure you.” She drew closer, and the king noted with a certain satisfaction how uneasy her proximity made his guards. “I have returned just in time, it seems. There are some rather frantic reports of carnage in your dungeons. Intruders. Some rather hasty cries claim that Elizabeth Bryce herself is here within your walls.”


That gave the king pause. “Bryce you say? That’s impossible.”


“Two days ago many would have thought the same thing, but we know that your palace is not impregnable.”


He sighed and nodded. “Indeed we do.” He crossed his arms behind his back, his face adopting a pensive look. “Very well.


“Release the failsafe.”


Impa paused, considering her liege. “Are you certain of this? That creature is meant as a measure of last resort.”


“If Elizabeth Bryce in my dungeons, then the time is now.” The King shared a significant look with his closest lieutenant. “By royal command, the sub-levels are to be swept clean.”


At last she nodded. “As you command, Your Majesty.” In the Dungeons Deep beneath the palace, in the lowest subterranean level, the walls shuddered. Layers of dislodged dust drifted through empty, unlit corridors as the tremors began to grow in intensity. The upper levels would not feel them yet, but they were an omen of approaching death.


Flagstone floors began to crack. They were small, little more than hairline fractures at first, but they spread quickly as that which lay beneath the earth was called upon to fulfill its purpose.


In a cavernous chamber, the earth erupted up in a fountain of dirt and stone, and a dreadful cry filled the enclosed space, echoing upward into the dungeons above through the stone hallways. The earth rent apart and up through the breach rose a writhing figure, a terrible beast. Its long, limbless body was encased in thick, interlocking carapace plates as hard as steel, and its pincers were honed to razor sharpness before a mouth that would hungrily devour any flesh before it.


The Sentinel Moldorm fully extricated itself from the earth wherein it had been sealed, and with deadly speed and power it forced its way into the corridors, its massive bulk wholly blocking the way as it passed. Its pincers opened wide as they could, awaiting the flesh they would shear apart with one snap, as it slithered through corridors and up stairwells into the upper levels of the dungeons.


Castle Courtyard, The Second Day Marlow Huntley Marlow took stock of the situation. Kelvin had long since stopped ringing the bell and he was now shouting out orders to the mass of guards that now filled the courtyard, organizing them into ranks and explaining the situation. Marlow had no business with any of that though; he was here for one reason, and that reason may very well be in the dungeons right now. 


Finally, though, his daughter emerged from zigzagging through the maze of guards and ran up to her father. Marlow sighed in relief at her safety, and when he spoke to her he was forced to almost yell. "Listen to me-"


"No, you listen to me!" she cut in, also yelling over the crowd. "I know what your planning on doing and I won't let you! You can't go after her, not by yourself!"


He paused, forced to look at the intense sadness in his daughter's eyes. He empathized with her, but she didn't understand. He had to do this. "Ella," he said more softly, "just stay close to Kelvin and-"


"No, no I can't. You can't go in alone. If you go downstairs, I'm going in with you."


And Marlow knew he had lost. Ella had that fire in her eyes, the same fire she got whenever she had made her mind up. There was no fighting that. Besides, he was younger than she was when he had his first mission, and not nearly as trained. Her double long knives were deadly by any standards, raw, yes, but deadly. He could muster no more than a slight nod, which Ella promptly returned. "Let's go." Minutes Later in the dungeon hallways


They had been walking through the maze for a couple minutes when they found the bloody hallway empty. "I brought the doctor here," Ella said, "I don't know where they went."


Marlow had spent enough time around the castle in his life that he had a vague idea of where most things were. But the doctor's office he happened to know from years earlier when he had dragged a badly injured Kelvin in after they had a run-in with bandits in Hyrule Field. That had to be where the bodies were, and he figured he could get that guard Arand to help out with the search. "I do, let's go-"


His words were cut off by a deep rumble from that shook the entire hallway and caused dust to drip from the ceiling. It lasted only for a few seconds and then was gone as quickly as it had come. "What in Hylia's name was that?" Marlow asked more to himself than to Ella. But the rumble had faded and he had no time to think right now. "Forget it, let's go." Minutes later The door to the doctor's office was closed when they approached. Marlow knocked but no one answered.


"Maybe they're already done," Ella said.


But Marlow was listening closely, a faint noise was emanating from the room. "No."


He opened the door to find a room that could only be described as a massacre. Blood littered the walls and floor, body parts were strewn across, and the smell was intensely of death. And in the center on the table was Arand, curled up in a ball and sobbing lightly. She looked up when they entered but quickly looked away, obviously in some kind of emotional shock. He didn't know how to handle this, how to start. Ella though slowly approached the crying woman.


"It-It's Arand right?" No answer. "It's ok, just, tell us what happened here. Was it-was it her? Black Betty? You know. Elizabeth Bryce?"


Castle Dungeons Morgue Area, The Second Day Alauth!Arand "It-It's Arand right?" No answer. "It's ok, just, tell us what happened here. Was it-was it her? Black Betty? You know. Elizabeth Bryce?"


Shaking, Arand lifted her face from her knees to peer blurry-eyed at the young woman talking to her. Her voice croaked, but she managed an answer. "Y-Yes... I don't know... Everything's so dark..."


The girl, Ella, placed a hand lightly on Arand's shoulder. "Alright. It'll be okay. She's gone now, we're here." She turned to address the two men lingering near the door. "Let's get her outside. It can't be healthy to keep her in here with... all this."


Marlow and Kelvin entered the room now, faces twisted in disgust, and helped Arand from the mortuary slab, steadying her as they walked from the room. When they were halfway across the infirmary, a grating rumble shook the stones around them.


"The hell was that?"


Suddenly, the wall tore away in a crumbled heap as a huge moldorm smashed its way through the hallway outside.


"Fat fanny of Farore! That thing is ginormous!"


The two men released their grip on Arand and drew their swords. Ella's eyes widened with fear. The rumbling didn't stop as the moldorm's body continued to wriggle through the hall, further grinding up the once-ordered stones of the Castle Guards' Barracks.


"Alright, get ready." murmured Marlow, "Here comes the tail..."


The moldorm's segments began to thin, and the Marlow ready a strike. "Now!" His blade swung true, and struck through the softer flesh of the moldorm's newest body segment, severing the end of the tail from the rest of the creature. The creature squealed in pain and rage and rushed away from the group.


"Go, go! Ella, take Arand and get out. We'll handle this, it won't be long before it circles back to attack us!"


"But Dad!"


Marlow turned to glare at his rebellious daughter. "Enough! I've put up with letting you tag along, but you have to listen! You need to get Arand to safety. We'll catch up with you after we deal with this threat."


Ella glanced at Arand, who was simply staring at the destruction that had so suddenly encroached upon the Barracks, and sighed. "Alright, Dad. Keep him safe, Uncle Kelvin." She grabbed Arand's arm and pulled her. "Come on."


Arand followed without complaint, and Ella turned one last gaze over her shoulder to watch Kelvin and Marlow run off in the opposite direction after the moldorm. "Oh, Goddesses, keep them safe." Some Time Later Ella had led Arand through the path of destruction left by the moldorm. They had led a fruitless escape, as every exit had been sealed tight from the outside. Ella was beginning to worry, and Arand had not changed her vacant expression through the entire flight. Ella groaned in annoyance upon running across another sealed egress.


"We'll never get out of this place!"


Then, for seemingly no reason, Arand turned, her eyes finally focusing, and spoke her first words since the desecrated morgue. "There. Do you hear that?"


Ella blinked. "What?" She strained her ears, but heard nothing. "Are you doing okay, Arand?"


Arand didn't answer, instead opening a door to the left. Inside was the remains of the dungeon's cells. The bars were bent and twisted, no longer attached to anything. The moldorm had done a number on this place. Except for a large unexplained hole in the back of the central cell, populated by the crushed bodies of two guards. A few feet inside, a cave-in had blocked most of the way through, but the guards had apparently been working before the moldorm brought and end to their ill-fated escape attempt. Enough of the rubble had been cleared away to allow a strong breeze to spread swirls of dust and a hollow whistling through the room.


"Wow, Arand, you heard that? Anyway, let's finish what they started and get out of here..." Hyrule Field, Afternoon of the Second Ella and Arand had followed the underground tunnel for what felt like an eternity before coming upon its exit into Hyrule Field. The two women finally emerged into the sunlight of the afternoon. They were tired from crawling through dirt, and covered in grime, but they had escaped the death trap in the Castle dungeons. Ella immediately turned to face the far-off walls of Castle Town.

"We have to go back! Dad and Uncle Kelvin will be looking for us in Castle Town!"


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