A land found on a peninsula, separated from the rest of the world by a range of mountains and a mighty ocean encircling it. A land of forests, plains, deserts, farmlands, villages, and isolated homes. A land chosen to be the focus for the magic of an entire world. A land where a kingdom was created by the creatures of that magic. A land where a legend was born and heroes challenged evil. A land called... Hyrule.
Nine Years Ago
The warm orange flames lit the dark room. A man knelt by the hearth and stared into the fire, trying to draw knowledge from its depths. A whimpering changed his focus from the fire to a crib. He got up and looked at the sleeping girl. The brown-haired toddler stirred slightly inside it. A fox cub, just weaned, slept by her feet.
A loud crash sounded through the still, night forest. The man leaped to his feet, attempting to gaze past the walls into the night. The girl's mismatched blue and silver eyes opened then closed.
Hyrule hadn't changed, and Link hoped it never would. He rode out of the small village he had spent the night in and rode into the massive forest on its outskirts. The villagers had spoke in fear of gatherings of moblins within, looking so hopefully at the Kingdom's greatest hero. He sighed. So much for hoping the moblins would knock it off in his absence. Maybe a year just wasn't long enough to change moblin behavior.
It had been just a year. It seemed longer. the large trees pressed closer to the path. Not for the first time, he wondered how Zelda's year had been. Not that she needed any help from me. Not that she had missed me as much as I missed her. Probably is glad that I'm out of her hair. His brown eyes absentmindedly surveyed the surrounding forest. Should I go to the North Palace? Just to say hello, I was in the countryside, how are you, that type of thing. And accomplish what besides pouring salt in an open wound and grinding it in? He grimaced. No, it's best to avoid the Palace. If Zelda needed him, she would call for him telepathically like she said she would. And Zelda was always good at keeping her promises.
Catherine shied in the path and stopped. Link woke up from his thinking and glanced around. Nothing seemed out of place. "What is it, girl? Come on, we got a job to do." The mare reluctantly continued down the trail. She still shied visibly. "Easy, easy," he crooned as he petted her neck. "I don't like this any more than you do."
She snorted with disbelief. Catherine knew him too well to believe that.
Link brushed his brown hair out of his brown eyes as he gazed around the forest. Nothing seemed wrong, except it was too quiet.
Catherine still hadn't moved. He prodded her. "Come on." The horse refused to move. "I thought you wanted to get out of here." He prodded her again.
A sound above made him look up, straight up at the moblin falling on top of him with a drawn dagger. He saw it so clearly before the impact of bodies knocked him to the ground.
Catherine bolted but not very far before stopping. She wouldn't leave him like that. A sharp pain erupted in his arm as Link threw off the moblin and drew his sword.
The magical energy danced up the blade of his sword. Link aimed it at the moblin, sending the energy straight for him. The blue glow surrounded the monster and it vanished. He glanced down where he felt the pain. He saw the badly bleeding wound across his upper right arm. A glance was all he had time for as more moblins burst into the small clearing. "Great," Link took his stance. "I hate unexpected company."
Five of the dwarven creatures with doggish faces rushed toward him. He managed to zap two of them, but had to parry the blows from the swords and pole axes of the other three. Six more moblins crept into the clearing, circling around the human. He twisted the moblin's sword out of its hands and zapped the creature. Four more moblins jumped down from the trees.
The sleeve of his jerkin was soaked with blood, Link realized as he warily kept his distance. One moblin rushed forward with a yell. He zapped that one and another moblin slammed into his back.
He rolled with the moblin. The bloody sleeve ripped away as he managed to reach his feet. More moblins scrambled forward, and a dozen more peered out of the underbrush. "As much as I hate to give up a fight," he muttered through clinched teeth. "Catherine!"
She galloped through the circle of moblins. They scattered from her hooves. Link grabbed hold of the saddle with his left arm and yanked himself into it. They galloped wildly into the shadowy forest.
The moblins started to give chase, but their captain stopped them. "We have what Master wants." He took the bloody sleeve from the moblin who tore it from Link.
Link didn't know how far Catherine had ran before he realized that the moblins were not pursuing him. He stopped her and slid out of the saddle. He sheathed his sword. After pulling his supplies from the saddlebags, he started trying to dress the wound.
Princess Zelda of Hyrule sat at a table set up in the throne room of the North Palace listening to the courier drone on about the state of affairs of the kingdom. Her green eyes drifted away to stare out the windows. The rolling green meadow led gently down to Castle-town. The sun was shinning in the bright blue sky of early afternoon and large white clouds drifted in front of it. A more preferable scene than the courier's haughty expression. Eventually, he would notice and chide her for not paying attention but she had already paid more attention than her father usually did.
She stared out the window and had just made up her mind to dismiss the courier and go for a ride when the blow struck. Her stomach clenched as if it had caught a physical blow. Her vision darkened. She could still see the countryside outside the Palace but everything had shifted to shades of grey. A familiar chilling laughter filled her ears. She clutched the edge of the table.
"Your Highness?" The courier put down the stack of papers he held in his hands. "Are you feeling ill?"
She distractedly turned to the courier. Her vision had returned to normal and she could see his pensive face clearly. The laughter was gone as well. "I'm fine," came out of her mouth in a suppressed tone.
"Should I send for the Royal Physician?"
"I'm fine." She repeated firmly. "Please leave me alone. I need to consult with the Triforce." The courier left and Zelda turned to the three glowing pyramids floating above the throne. Green for wisdom, red for power, and yellow-gold for courage--the Triforce, the Power of Gold--locked together in the form of a larger pyramid. "What's wrong? There's trouble, what is it?"
Only the last Gensiarian can destroy the Triforce of Destruction.
Zelda blinked. "The Triforce of Destruction?" The Triforce remained silent. She swallowed and voiced the fear that had blossomed in her when she heard the laughter. "Has Ganon returned?"
He never truly left.
"But we vanquished him?"
Yes, but that which has gained immortality is not so easily destroyed. You weakened Ganon and forced him to change his form, yet destroyed was he not.
"No, no, no! This is wrong. We got the Triforce of Power away from Ganon. He should have died."
Part of Ganon did die. Part of Ganon did not. The part that did not die returned to the Dark Realm.
Zelda turned away and stared back out the window. If Ganon had returned in a form able to damage Hyrule, she needed Link. Ganon was probably already after him. She sighed, closed her eyes, clenched her teeth, and concentrated on Link. Link? Link, please. I need you.
Link swore at the moblin that had cut him. It seemed like it had planned to cut him in the one spot you couldn't bandage easily with one hand. But that wasn't possible; moblins weren't that smart.
He took a deep breath. He could feel the blackness at the fringe of his consciousness. "I think I lost a little more blood than is good for you, Catherine."
She bent her head down until she was face to face with the sitting young man. She pushed her muzzle against his chest.
He reached up with his left hand and scratched her forehead under her forelock. "It's all right. You tried to tell me. I just can't figure out why they didn't chase us." He could feel his eyelids dropping and he struggled to keep them open.
He heard, Link? Link, please. I need you, in Zelda's voice. It was faint as if coming from a great distance.
"Zelda?" He cried before falling back, unconscious. Catherine neighed with alarm.
The golden hawk perched on a branch looked down at the fallen human quizzically. It flew off, screeching.
Zelda broke her concentration, drained. Why did it take so much energy to call to Link now? It used to be so easy. But that was when he was still living in the Palace. Maybe it was based on proximity. Maybe she was out of practice with him. She hadn't contacted him since he left a year ago.
She would have to ponder why it took some much energy to contact Link later. She rang for the courier. He entered quickly. "Who is the leading authority on the Triforce in Hyrule?"
The courier showed his surprise, dumbfounded into forgetting to hide his expressions. "Surely it is yourself, Princess Zelda?"
"I can only focus its power; I know very little of its history. I need someone who knows the Triforce and magic."
The courier spread his hands in a helpless gesture. "I know of no one, your Highness."
Zelda sighed. "Send notices throughout the Kingdom." The courier left to do her bidding and she tried to ignore the fear gnawing at her. That laugh; how she hated that laugh! The last time she had heard it she thought she had lost Link forever.
Two Years Ago
Link and Ganon fought in an anteroom to his Grand Chamber in the Underworld. The evil wizard with the grotesque form hurled a spell at the young hero. Link's shield absorbed it, causing no harm. Link smirked. "You missed, Pig-Face. Wanna try again?"
Zelda eased out of the anteroom and ran through the Grand Chamber that Ganon used as a throne room. She paused to fire off magical arrows from her bow. The arrows hit the two moblins guarding the Triforce of Power and they vanished in flashes of blue light.
"You've been annoying long enough, you pitiful excuse for a hero." Ganon hurled another spell at Link. This one caught him and threw him against the wall. "I shall destroy you. And your precious Princess." Link pushed himself up against the wall, never lowering his guard. Ganon grinned at his determined expression. "I think I'll destroy her now. Ladies first." He looked around and his grin faded. "Where is she?"
She pulled the Triforce of Wisdom from the pouch on her belt. She laid one hand on its green surface and reached over for the Triforce of Power.
With a squeal of rage, Ganon threw up his hands to cast a spell. Link, running at full speed, hurled himself into Ganon's back. The spell ricocheted off the ceiling of the Grand Chamber and hit the floor as Ganon toppled over.
Zelda grasped the chain that flowed from the Triforce of Power with her touch. Link looked up briefly as he scrambled over Ganon. "Run for it, Zelda!" She flew for the doorway behind her and he raced after her.
Ganon lurched to his feet. "You will not escape!" He threw the spell wrapped in a ball of red energy. Zelda ducked into the doorway and grabbed Link's arm to pull him to safety. But the spell hit first. Link screamed at the red energy exploded around him. He crumpled to the floor without making another sound.
"Link!" Zelda dropped to her knees beside his fallen form, ignoring the numb feeling traveling up her left arm. He was still breathing; she could feel the rise and fall of his chest under her hands. A golden glow surrounded his body and lifted away from it, condensing into the shape of a pyramid. The Triforce of Courage flew up to the other two Triforces. "No!" she screamed. Link needed its magic to fight the spell. This couldn't happen now.
The three Triforces flew together, forming a larger pyramid. The green Triforce of Wisdom formed the apex. the golden Triforce of Courage went under it to the right. The red Triforce of Power went under it to the left. Just enough space was left between the three for an inverted pyramid to fit between them. A bright white light burst from them. When it faded, they floated in the air without any support.
Ganon laughed as he grabbed the stand for support. His evil, chilling laughter filled the halls of the Underworld. Zelda clenched her hands to stop their shaking, trying to block out the sound and not succeeding. She swallowed and looked up, cold rage burning in her emerald eyes. She stood up. "Go ahead and laugh, Ganon. Laugh all you want. But we won."
"Yes, you have the Power of Gold. But at what price, Princess?" he wheezed.
"This price," she hissed, channeling destructive energy at Ganon. The white light surrounded the pig-like humanoid and he screamed. He continued screaming as the light grew brighter and he vanished completely.
She dropped back to her knees at Link's side. "Link, Link." His breathing was shallower and his pulse was fading. "No! Link, you can't die. Someone help me, please!"
No one answered her call. She quickly pulled herself together and grabbed hold of Link. She dragged him through the halls of the Underworld toward the ones that led to the Palace. All the while begging with her mind for someone to help here, for someone to save Link.
And then Captain Krin appeared in the halls of the Underworld leading two of the Palace Guards. They carried Link back to the Palace where he got better. And where she learned she could send her thoughts to others. But only Link could send his to her.
Zelda shook her head. Mother Brain had tried to bring Ganon back just a little later, but she and Link had stopped him again with the help of Captain N. And that should have been the end of it.
But the moblins and other servants of Ganon had never stopped terrorizing her people. And Link had never truly stopped thinking of Ganon as a potential threat. Maybe I was just deluding myself.
She looked back out over the countryside. If Ganon could be defeated once, he could be defeated again. She and Link would save Hyrule again. Link, where was he? Was he all right?
"Be save, wherever you are," she murmured.
Lissa hung the ax back on the wall of the lean-to shed and stepped out into the warm afternoon sun. The light streamed down from the clearing surrounding the cabin. The young girl stretched the muscles she had just used to chop firewood to last for the week.
She did a half-skip half-step to the brook that ran across one corner of the clearing. She knelt next to the water on top of a very flat boulder and washed her face with its clear water. She looked up into the green shadows across the brook. "Who's there?" Her mismatched blue and silver eyes stared unblinkingly into one spot of the underbrush.
A wolf bounded out of that spot and leaped across the narrow brook. It carried the hind leg of a deer in its mouth. It stopped and faced her.
"Well, I suppose carrying that in your mouth would make it hard to announce that you're coming. Is it for me?"
The wolf lowered its head slightly with closed eyes.
She took the meat from him gravely. "I am perfectly capable of hunting. You didn't need to bring me this."
The wolf growled a reply to her and jumped back across the brook, disappearing into the forest. Lissa shook her head with a grin and carried the meat into the cabin.
The red fox uncurled his form out of a ball on the hearth and yapped a question at the human girl.
"This? A present from the leader of the wolf pack that Morelak belongs to. He wanted to thank me for taking care of him."
The fox yapped again.
"Nalga, that isn't nice. We're supposed to help because its the right thing to do. Not because we get stuff."
Nalga sat up on his haunches and yawned. But he still watched Lissa prepare the meat.
She had just finished when a golden hawk flew into the clearing screeching. He landed on the windowsill of the cabin's open window and repeated his story.
"Kilare, you're not making any sense. What do you mean, `Someone injured is in the woods'?"
Kilare screeched again, loud and insistent. "All right, all right, we're coming. Lead the way." Lissa left the cabin with Nalga trotting at her heels. "Okay, where is he?" The hawk screeched again and started flying down a trail leading from the clearing.
The hawk led them to the unconscious young man and a nervous brown mare. She placed herself between the two humans with a wild dare-come-no-closer look in her eyes.
Lissa held up her hands. "It's all right. We're here to help. I'm Lissa and this is Nalga and Kilare. "What's your name?"
The horse neighed a response.
"Pleased to meet you, Catherine. And I'm not going to hurt your master. I want to take you both to my cabin where I can tend to him and you can have some good grass to eat."
Catherine stared at the human girl for a few more seconds, then stepped out of the way. She examined him quickly. "He should be okay, once we get a decent bandage on his arm. Catherine, I'm going to need your help to get him home." The horse knelt down and Lissa hauled the young man over to her and finally managed to drape him across the saddle.
Kilare led the way back to the cabin's clearing. Lissa dragged the stranger into the cabin and into the bed without too much difficulty. Nalga and Kilare watched her as she tended him.
"I wonder who he is." She removed his sword belt. "Some sorta adventurer, I guess. Or maybe a knight in disguise." She pulled off his boots, then undid the loose bandage. "Yuck. Pretty deep. Looks like he was in a fight." She finished dressing it. "That should hold. Kilare, keep an eyes on him while I make sure Catherine's okay."
She left the cabin. Catherine was waiting nervously in the clearing. "Here, let me take that saddle off." The human girl's hands soothed as she ran them across the horse's body. "What happened to you two?"
Catherine quickly told her story as Lissa pulled off the saddle and saddle blanket. She ended it with a question.
"His name is Link? Well, he's going to be fine now, Catherine. And don't worry; no moblins are going to attack us."
The horse wasn't completely relieved, but she did bury her brown and pink muzzle into the grass and began to graze. Lissa gave her one last reassuring pat and reentered the cabin.
Kilare cried out a question.
"Yes, it's possible that he could be delirious, why?"
Kilare screeched a sentence.
"Moblins? Ganon? Zelda's in trouble? Triforce? What does all that mean?"
Kilare screeched sarcastically.
"Yes, I realize that you wouldn't ask me if you knew what he meant. Catherine says they were attacked by moblins. And Father always said to beware of them and their master Ganon. I think you should tell the other animals that we may need extra protection."
Kilare cried out a promise and flew out the door.
Lissa ducked a rag into some cool water and bathed Link's face. "The rest of the story must be good."
Zelda looked at the crumbling ruin in the red light of the sinking sun with obvious distaste. It had been two days since the vision and the duke that owned this castle was the only one to answer the notices she had sent out. Lack of any other leads brought her and the courier to visit.
The courier had an impassive look about him--trained not to revel emotions--but the cold tone betrayed his feelings toward this whim of the Princess. "Surely, there could have been some way to persuade them to bring their information to our North Palace."
"The Duke said the documents could not be moved," she replied. Every instinct she had screamed to turn around and leave. She silenced their objections. The need for information was too great. Hyrule's safety depended on her. By the Triforce, where is Link? She quickly chased that thought from her mind. Link would cut it close, like always. She turned her attention back to the courier. "Let's meet our host."
They both had to dismount and lead their horses across the rotting drawbridge. Storm, usually docile and dependable, was as skittish as a colt. The courier's horse wasn't acting much better. Zelda tried to soothe her white mare as they stood in the courtyard of bare spots of earth and dead grass. A dry fountain crumbled under their gaze.
"Welcome to our humble estate, Princess Zelda." A portly man dressed in a rich, purple robe, a stark contrast to the ruinous castle, descended on a flight of stone steps. "I am Duke Pendana. Come inside, please. You must be exhausted after such a long journey." The sun sank lower as they entered the castle.
The long, dark corridor had no visible sources of light, yet Link had no trouble seeing. He continued walking straight ahead, only glancing quickly into ornate but shadowy side corridors. The mason work of the hall he was walking through was cracked and shattered. Dark veins of space pulsed through what was left of the grey chipped figures.
A large dark door made of a smooth black wood blocked his path. He ran his hands over the wood searching for a latch or a knob. Words had been carved into the wood. "Despair, loneliness, fear," is what his fingers read.
"I'm not afraid." He shoved the door.
It swung open into a vast room. A massive throne carved from grey stone sat at the opposite end. A young woman with long blonde hair struggled against the ropes that tied her to the giant throne. She twisted to try to free herself and cried out with pain. "Zelda!" Link ran forward, drawing a dagger from his belt.
"No, Link!" she shouted. "Freeing me in your dream won't make any difference in the real world."
He stopped before stepping up on the dais and looked up at her. "Where are you? What's happening to you? Who has you?"
"No one has me yet. But I'm walking into a trap."
"A trap! Where? I'll rescue you!"
"You better rescue me! But there is something you must do before that. You have to find the last of the Gensiarians."
It wasn't the first time Zelda hadn't made any sense to him. "I hate to tell you this, but there is no last Gensiarian. They always have been and always will be."
"I know." She winced as if the pain had grown greater. "But the Triforce said there was one, so there must be."
"They're supposed to be pure magic, more powerful than the Triforce! How do you give an age to pure magic?"
"I don't know." She winced again.
"What's hurting you?" Link stepped closer.
Her voice fell softly. "It so hard to talk to you like this, Link. But you stay so far away. This is the longest conversation I've had with you for a long time. Please, as soon as you can, come to the North Palace. I need your help." Zelda started to fade.
"Zelda, don't walk into that trap!" Link shouted as she grew more transparent.
"I may not have a choice." Zelda faded entirely.
Link woke with a start. Slowly, he realized that he was lying on a bed in a dark room. He blinked his eyes slowly. A fire burned to his right, casting dancing shadows over the bed and onto the wall on his left. His arm had been rebandaged. A golden hawk perched on the headboard at his feet watched him with its beady eyes. He decided to risk sitting up. Pain from the gash matched the pain in his head, and he groaned softly.
The hawk screeched. Someone asleep in a chair by the fireplace jolted with alarm then relaxed. "What is it, Kilare?" A girl's voice called out sleepily from the chair.
"It's nothing, really. But I could use a pain killer."
The girl jumped out of the chair and turned toward the bed in one movement. "You're awake! What happened to you? Why do you keep babbling about Ganon?"
"Slow down. My name is Link."
"I know that. Catherine told me. I want to know about the fight with the moblins."
"Everybody always wants to jump straight to the good parts. When someone introduces themselves, its good manners to say how do you do and what your name is."
"Hello. Now do you have anything to deaden pain?"
"Yes. I suppose it still hurts a lot. It's a deep cut, but its healing nicely." She turned to a cabinet on the wall behind him and pulled out a jar and a roll of bandages. She sat down on the edge of the bed next to him. He could see her more clearly now. She was young, about twelve, with a petite build. Her long brown hair was braided back and draped over her shoulder. The eye visible in the firelight was blue. She pulled his arm toward her and started unwinding the bandage. "In a couple more days, it should be completely healed."
He looked down at it. She was right. "How long was I out?"
"Okay. Three nights ago, I spent the night in the village outside this forest."
"I know it. Haven't been there since Father died."
"They complained about moblin activity, so I decided to encourage the moblins to leave them alone. One literally got the drop on me and gave me that nice little scratch." He nodded down at the cut under his torn sleeve of his jerkin. "Then more than a dozen wanted to fight me at once, so I strategically retreated. I lost consciousness somewhere after I realized they weren't chasing me."
She smeared the contents of the jar on the wound. Her touch was gentle but her other hand kept a firm grip to keep him from jerking his arm back. "It stings for a few seconds, but it helps the body heal faster. What does Ganon, Zelda, and a Triforce have to do with you?"
"How long ago did your father die?"
"About four years ago."
"And you've been here alone since then?"
"Not alone. I have Kilare." She gestured to the golden hawk still perched on the end of the bed. "And Nalga." She gestured to a bundle of red fur near the fireplace that Link realized was a fox. "And you haven't answered my question."
"I just thought everyone in Hyrule knew about Ganon, Zelda, and me."
"Well, I don't." She started winding the fresh bandages around his arm. "I just know about Ganon and that he is evil."
"Okay. Zelda is the Princess of Hyrule. I helped her put Ganon out of commission and reassemble the Triforce, the Power of Gold. It's a powerful magical object that Ganon could use to conquer all of Hyrule if he had it."
"I thought you said you killed Ganon?"
"I put him out of commission. You can't kill Ganon--he's immortal. In fact, the only thing that can bring Ganon back to life is my blood. Oh no!" Link slapped his forehead. "That's why the moblins didn't chase me, all they wanted was my blood!" He started to get out of the bed. "I have to get to Zelda. She thought she was walking into a trap, and she's right!"
"Slow down," Lissa ordered as she pressed her hand against his chest. "You need my help to get out of this forest and to the Princess in time. And if I help you, I want to go with you."
"For you to go alone injured. Besides, I'm not exactly helpless. And if you don't take me, I'll just follow you."
"Why do you want to go?"
"Father always told me I had a destiny and that it would come for me."
"I'm not your destiny, kid. I just had an accident in your forest."
"I think you're going to lead me to my destiny. Besides, you can't leave me here for the moblins to find."
"All right," Link said reluctantly, "but I can't guarantee your safety."
"I can take care of myself." Lissa opened the cabin door. Bright moonlight flooded in. "There's food on the table, be sure to eat." She stepped out and left the door open. Link swung his feet out of the bed and headed to the table, famished. His sword and sword belt were lying beside the meat and bread. He put some meat between two slices of bread and munched on the sandwich as he buckled on his belt and pulled on his boots. He then watched Lissa through the open doorway.
The moon was full and bright, bathing Lissa in a soft glow. She stood in front of the forest addressing glowing eyes. When she finished speaking, the glowing eyes vanished. She reentered the cabin and started gathering supplies and straightening the cabin to leave it. Link watched her preparations with interest. "What did you do out there?"
"I asked them what they knew about your Princess and to pass on that we need a ride. Catherine can't carry both of us."
"Good point. Where is she?"
"Outside. Your saddle and other stuff is in the shed."
Link stepped outside the cabin. Catherine trotted up to him with a happy nicker. "Yeah, I'm glad to see you too." He petted her. "You're going to have to find the North Palace without me, girl. I gotta go find the Princess. Think you can handle that?"
Catherine vigorously nodded her head with a whinny.
"Okay, let's get our stuff."
Lissa was sitting on the ground in front of her cabin when Link and Catherine turned back around the corner. She had a pack strapped to her back and the fox's head poked out of the top of it. The hawk was perched on the roof of the cabin. An owl was perched on her arm, hooting at her.
"Thank you very much." The owl fluttered its wings, then swooped off silently into the night. She looked up at Link. "Your Princess went to visit a castle not far from here. But the animals don't trust the place. They said it wasn't there and then it was without any building. Oh, and transportation is on the way."
"Okay," he turned to the now-saddled Catherine. "Time for you to go, girl. We'll see you at the North Palace."
She nickered questioningly.
Lissa nodded. "That's right. I'm going with him."
Catherine shook her head and started trotting down the path leading from the clearing.
They stood in the clearing, waiting. Two huge winged creatures flew down and landed. They had the bodies of huge cats, but their heads were the same as eagles only larger. Their huge wings were feathered. Link gulped. Griffins, we got a couple of griffins.
The first one spoke in a combination of a snarl of a lion and the screech of an eagle. Lissa turned to Link. "They've offered to carry us."
"Are you sure?" Link asked incredulously. He was trying to forget the gory stories he knew about griffins.
"Of course. I can talk to animals." Lissa climbed on the back of a griffin. Link sighed and climbed on the other one. The hawk screeched and flew up out of the clearing.
Zelda sat in her room brushing her long blonde hair in preparation for supper. Someone knocked on the door. "Enter."
The courier entered and shut the door behind him. "Your Highness, I cannot believe that someone so obviously false can have anything about the Triforce in his possession."
She agreed, but it was her place to defend their host. "Perhaps hard times have hit this region."
"Perhaps," the courier said grudging. "Though it seems strange that they have not shared the good fortune the rest of Hyrule has."
"I must go to supper." She stood regally. "Snoop around a bit," she whispered to the courier as she stepped into the hall.
In the black of the night, someone opened the door of the stable. The horses, crazed with fear, ran out of the stable, out of the castle. Tied to the back of his horse was the gagged courier.
Zelda set down her goblet. "Duke, this is a marvelous meal, but I am afraid that my mission is important. May I see the information you have?"
"Of course." Duke Pendana offered Zelda his arm. Swallowing the surge of fear that had risen, she took it.
The cracked, black stone walls narrowed the further they walked down the hall. Cracks and rocks in the floor tripped Zelda, but never bothered her host. Someone had carved runes of a language as ancient as time with exquisite care into the walls. Zelda's sense of dread grew larger as the enormous set of doors loomed closer. The flickering candlelight revealed more runes carved onto the dark wood.
She translated the runes aloud. "This gate leads to Darkness." Gasping, she tried to pull away, but Pendana's steel grip held her fast.
"Surely, Princess Zelda, you're not thinking of leaving now? Not when your mission is so important." Zelda found herself looking into Pendana's red eyes. Her body went limp; the connection between mind and body broken. "A nice trick, isn't it? Only one of many tricks I can do. Now," Pendana's voice grew ugly, "you will become one of us and join our Master in the Dark Realm."
Her body refused to listen to her. By the Triforce, Link! Where are you?
I'm right here, Zelda. We're at the castle.
Her heart thudded involuntarily. I'm somewhere under the castle. I can't move. He has me under a spell. Hurry, I think we're in front of a portal to the Dark Realm.
The castle shuddered around them. "Intruders! How can that be?" Pendana shouted. He stepped up to the doors and traced over certain runes.
Link ran into the nearest open doorway from the courtyard with Lissa at his heels. "Zelda's in front of a portal to the Dark Realm. Can you keep it from opening?" He glanced up at the quivering black stones. "And keep this place from crashing down on us?"
"Would you like the moon too? I can try," Lissa said doubtfully. "I stopped a rock slide once."
"You can do it." He ran down the hallway.
Lissa took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She stretched her mind.
A picture rushed forward to her mind's eye. A fat man dressed in a purple robe and a blonde girl Link's age stood in front of a pair of enormous wooden doors. The man traced his finger over certain runes that were carved into the dark wood.
Lissa raised her hand and pressed it against the crack between the doors.
Pendana cursed. "Why won't you open?" He traced over the runes again, but the doors refused to respond. He turned back to the quivering stones. "Take her to her room. Once the intruders have reached her, destroy them all."
Stone-like hands picked Zelda off her feet.
Link, they're setting a trap! I'm being moved back up to my room.
Upstairs, the second main corridor, at the end. But the castle, he told it to fall once you reach me.
Let Lissa worry about the castle falling.
Who is Lissa? But she didn't voice the thought to Link. She wouldn't distract him anymore. She was dimly aware of going over, through, under, and around the stones making up the structure of the castle. Whatever carried her placed her body limply on the bed in the guest chambers.
Lissa put down her hand once the stone walls had pulled the blonde girl into itself. The fat man traced the runes again and now the doors opened for him. He fled inside and they closed ominously behind him. "Nothing's falling on me tonight."
"She could feel a pale purple glow surrounding herself. It reached out, slowly spreading a luminous purple net over the castle's undulant black stones. Their quivering stilled tremendously but they still strained against the net.
Link ran up a flight of stairs. They pulled up from the floor and twisted themselves upside down when he was halfway to the second floor. He leaped and somersaulted onto the second floor. He found himself in a long corridor. Zelda? Talk to me.
This way, quickly. I still can't move.
Walls started to spring up, trying to block him in the hall. He jumped through a doorway that a wall hadn't closed and reached the end of the corridor.
He found Zelda stretched out on a four-poster bed. "This really isn't the time to nap." The pallor of her skin and limpness of her body worried him. Was she still alive? Taking her up in his arms, he ran down the hall. The roof started to cave behind them. He ran faster, "Come on, Lissa. Don't give up now."
Link was halfway down the stairs when they started to turn and buckle. He jumped to the first floor and ran for the door. The floor buckled and rolled on itself. He had to start and stop running to get anywhere; a strange game of tag with an ugly fate for the loser. They reached a doorway to the courtyard and ran out. "Lissa! Come on, it's time to leave!"
Kilare that had flown beside the griffins dived into a doorway, screeching. Lissa stumbled out and the hawk flew behind her to make sure she left the building. The griffins swooped down--one grabbing a beak full of Link's shirt, the other Lissa's--and pulled them up and away from the castle.
The bubbling, churning castle exploded. The fireball created lit up the night and set after waves through the skies. The griffins set them down out of the danger zone. Link laid the still limp Zelda on the ground. "You did real good work back there."
"Did you know I could do that?"
"I figured anybody who could talk to animals was probably more than she seemed." He looked up at her and stared.
Thanks to the brightness, he finally saw both of Lissa's eyes. The one on her right side was blue. The one on her left was silver. And everyone knew that all Gensiarians have silver eyes.
Lissa sat down in the other chair beside Link in the hallway. Sunlight streamed in through the window, but his eyes focused on the closed bedroom door in front of him. "You should eat something."
She sighed. He had been this communicative since the griffins had brought them to the North Palace. He also hadn't moved from that chair since the servants brought the Princess to her bedroom and he had changed his jerkin. "I talked to the Captain of the Guard. Catherine made it here okay. And she found the Princess's horse and the courier that had gone to the castle with her."
"Catherine's always had more sense than that guy."
"So what happens now?" He stared at the door without blinking. "Link, tell me something. I've never done anything like this before."
He took a deep breath. "Ganon set this up. I'm not sure how. But his moblins were prowling for me and that castle was created to take Zelda to wherever he is now. So now we have to wait until Zelda is well enough to talk to the Triforce and find out how to stop him."
The Royal Physician opened the bedroom door and stepped out. Link jumped up and grabbed hold of the front of the man's jacket. "Is she all right?"
The doctor smiled benignly under his black mustache. "Welcome back, Link. The Princess is fine. She wishes to see you."
Link politely shoved him out of the way and entered the bedroom. The doctor chuckled. "To be young and in love."
"Oh, so that's what his problem is," Lissa replied.
Zelda was lying on her bed, her color finally returning to normal. So relieved that she was okay, he didn't watch what he said. "Boy, Zelda, that sure was a stupid thing to do."
"Like you have never done anything stupid. But thanks for the rescue."
"Do I get a kiss?"
"Forget it. You passed up your chance. Why do you bother asking?"
"Sorry, old habit." There was an uncomfortable pause between them. "Was it worth it?" He uttered quickly. "Getting caught, I mean."
"No, it wasn't. Ganon found a way back."
"But how? I thought we destroyed him, but the Triforce said we only destroyed part of him and he fled to the Dark Realm." Link looked away. "You knew? You knew he wasn't destroyed, that's why you left! And I thought it was something I did." She sat up and grabbed hold of his right arm directly on the wound. He winced under her grip. She let her hand fall away. "What happened to your arm?"
"A moblin cut it. It's practically healed so I don't think you need to call Kevin to come help."
"Why did a moblin cut it?"
"Geez, Zelda, it was a fight. People can get hurt in fights." Safety called for a diversion. "I found the last Gensiarian."
She let it drop. "How did you know we needed him? The Triforce said only the last Gensiarian could destroy the Triforce of Destruction, but I don't remember telling you that when I called for you."
"I had this funny dream. And you said I needed to find the last Gensiarian in it. Probably was a fever or something. But she found me anyway." He quickly pulled a young girl out of the hall and into the bedroom. "Lissa, meet Princess Zelda."
"Pleased to meet you, Princess."
Zelda shook Lissa's offered hand and motioned for her to sit in the chair beside her bed. Link watched the Princess scrutinize the brown-haired girl dressed in brown pants and a long green jerkin. And he saw her hide her double take at the sight of Lissa's eyes. "Call me Zelda, Lissa. Have you always had mismatched eyes?"
"Yes, for as long as I can remember. Father's eyes were hazel and he always said I got them from my mother. But he never talked about her."
"That's not all," Link said. "She understands animals and she kept that magical deathtrap castle from killing us last night."
"And the villagers were always frightened of me and called me a witch. Do you know why?"
Link turned from Zelda to Lissa. "We think you're the one the Triforce told us to find, the last Gensiarian," he explained.
Lissa grinned at him. "I told you that you had something to with my destiny!" Her grin faded. "But what's a Gensiarian?"
"No one is really sure. They are as old as time and have the most powerful magic in the universe. Link, could you help me with the pillows?" Link sighed, but helped pile some behind Zelda's back. "Thank you. You may be only half Gensiarian, Lissa, since you have one silver eye. Gensiarians have silver eyes and are immortal."
A servant knocked on the door and entered. "Your Highness, an elderly gentleman is here to see you. He says it is about the notice you sent."
Zelda nodded. "Send him in."
The man was old with long flowing white hair and beard, yet his hazel eyes were bright and young. He bowed deeply to Zelda. "I do not wish to disturb you for long, your Highness."
Link gave him a chair. "Have a seat."
The man sat. Zelda spoke to him in her regal voice. "Could you please tell us all you know about the Triforce and the Gensiarians?"
"Certainly. My name is Cassonn. In my youth, I studied as many ancient documents as I could find. The information I pass to you is the understanding I have drawn from these documents."
Cassonn took a deep breath and began. "Magic is chaotic, not nicely defined like everyone believes it is. At the creation of our world, the Gensiarians formed the Triforce to give magic boundaries. But they also created a way to destroy the Triforce, a fourth Triforce--the Triforce of Destruction. Inserted into the Triforce, it would destroy the Triforce and the magic boundaries that hold our world together. But they gave a way to destroy the Triforce of Destruction. The last Gensiarian, who would have to be mortal to be born, has the power to destroy the Triforce. But since the Gensiarians are neither good nor evil, the Triforce of Destruction hides in a place only they can reach."
"The limbo between the Light and Dark Realms." Lissa slapped her hand to her mouth.
"What is this Dark Realm? The Triforce said that is where Ganon is." Zelda said
"The Light Realm is our world, including the Underworld tunnels," Cassonn answered. "The Dark Realm is an evil version of our world. Some legends say that before Ganon made his wishes with the Triforce, it was a golden land that housed the Power of Gold."
"Do your legends say anything about destroying him while he's there?" Link asked bluntly.
"Without the Triforce of Power, he is too weak to survive in the Light Realm. As for destroying his mortal body, I have heard that an arrow made of silver is the weapon you must use. It is supposed to be hidden in the Dark Realm."
"All right, first we'll destroy this Triforce of Destruction," Zelda decided. "Then we'll take care of Ganon. How do we get to this limbo between the Light and Dark Realms?"
"I can go there. We need a portal between the Realms." Lissa snapped her mouth shut with a distressed expression.
"There is one in the desert to the east. A two day journey from the North Palace. And I'm afraid that is all I know." Cassonn stood up.
"Thank you for your help." Link escorted Cassonn to the door and looked down at Lissa when he returned. "Where did all that come from?"
"I don't know." She answered in a small voice.
"We should get started as soon as possible," Zelda said.
"You're not well enough to go," Link protested.
"I feel fine. And I can take care of myself."
"Ganon's already tried to grab you once. Maybe he needs you before he can get the Triforce back. You really want to give him the chance to try again?"
"You're injured. She's a child. I'm going."
"Why does everyone keep throwing this cut in my face? One little scratch and suddenly I can't handle Ganon's goons. I've gotten hurt worse falling off Catherine."
"But you usually land on your head and it doesn't do any damage!"
"Oh, I'm hardheaded, huh? What do you call a princess who is the only heir to the throne rushing into something that could get her killed?"
"One that's trying to keep her kingdom safe!"
"Fine," Link said gruffly and spread his hands in a helpless gesture. "Then Lissa can come back and tell the people of your kingdom what a pig-headed Princess they had!" He stormed from her bedroom.