To Save the Zoras
Linkle carried Rutilah out of Death Mountain and followed Zora River to the shore, where a strange odor halted her.
"What is it?" Linkle scrunched up her face and searched for the smell.
"The water...is poisoned." Rutilah turned back to the water, "Surely you, being the Hero, can sense the dark power from here...it's a little less concentrated further down, I sensed as much near the mountain...but some the darkness is still carried to the delta. I didn't know it was so rotten, though."
"I didn't know Zora's River stretched this far out, or that water could rot." Linkle admitted.
"The water here comes from Zora's Domain...the toxic darkness is even stronger here than, say...over by that rock," Rutilah pointed towards a large white stone on the pointed end of the beach, "because of the magic that draws the water directly from Zora's Domain's to Hyrule, typically a blessing, but now a curse...the water must yet carry healing power, since this isn't as tainted yet as where I was."
"How does the river form from Zora's Domain's water without a bridge or aqueduct?" Linkle wondered, "I didn't even know Zora's Domain had it's own water."
"It doesn't, the water within Zora's Domain gains special properties somewhere on the way, that holy place is the 'source', that water travels here from Zora's River. In ages past, the river carried it's full power beyond the coast, and the water made wakes from Zora's Domain to here, it even poured beyond the Zora Archipelago, almost beyond the land holding Lake Hylia." Rutilah beamed happily, the old stories coming to mind as though she heard of them only hour prior, "It's said that the Zoras then lived to be old, and that the elderly were young, but then something happened and we fled inward."
"That sounds nice...eternal youth, so much more time...wait, did the records say 'fled', or-"
"The fairy tales say 'fled', the official records are lost, since before the time of my father's father."
"I wonder if...the something was a demon."
"It was said a Hero came to our aid then, too, so that's a possibility. He's depicted as a Zora in turquoise armor, but our people are all about respect where we're concerned...it's likely the king took some...artistic liberties, even shaping the Master Sword to fit his whim, but I like to think it was a Zora, not because of the usual reason that Hylians aren't capable of respecting us or...well, anyone, even each other, but because the Master Sword is a symbol of hope, and if someone other than a Hylian can bring that hope to people far and wide, then hope for the world as a whole is so much greater...and if the Master Sword changes form to mirror it's master, then that's only a more magical symbol of a hope, one that takes a unique form for it's Hero."
"He was a Zora." Linkle smiled, "I'm sure of it."
"Huh? I'm afraid I don't understand, did you meet him?" Rutilah inquired, "Maybe the gods told you of this Hero?"
"Nothing so grand, he saved your people...he was Zora...I guess that's what the Gorons meant."
"Ha, how niave...but I can't say I don't like that about you." Rutilah smiled, "From what you said, they made you a Sworn Sister, didn't they? You think much like them, in that case, I hear that they don't give that honor to just anyone, the person is a Goron in their eyes first."
"Yeah...except they don't have sisters, so-" Linkle shrugged.
"That's an interesting turn, is that what you meant when you said everyone's been mistaking you for a man?" Rutilah winced at the memory, "Again, I apologize for making such a fool of myself earlier, that must have been embarrassing for you."
"It's okay, I've gotten used to it." Linkle assured.
"Me making a fool-"
"No, no, I meant being mistaken for a guy!" Linkle laughed, "It was strange at first, but now nothing would surprise me!"
"Well, hopefully you get used to the appropriate pronouns again, Lady Hero." Rutilah rubbed her head and held her hand over her face to block the sun.
"I guess we should rest in the shade, if we're not heading out right now." Linkle turned about but found no shade then chuckled and sat Rutilah down.
"Hmm, what is this?" Rutilah looked up to find Linkle standing above her.
"I'm blocking the sun, instant shade!" Linkle explained, wriggling an arm out of it's sleeve.
"I see." Rutilah turned to the ocean before them, "Naive and polite, hmm?"
"Well, I was standing there like an idiot anyways, so we may as well make a true break out of it." Linkle explained as slipped out of her cloak and dropped it on Rutilah, "That should keep the sun off you."
Rutilah sighed resignedly and pulled on the cloak, then looked up, "I guess this should keep me from drying out...thank you. Actually, this all makes me think of Father, you may well gain his blessing if you keep this up."
"H-huh? I-I never—who said anything about that?!" Linkle cried.
"I did. What, you seemed surprised...we Zora are all about ceremony and respect, and ceremony as the embodiment of respectability...you didn't think it would be simple and easy, did you?"
"I-I just never considered marrying a Zora...you sure that's the only way to save you guys?" Linkle frowned, "Aside from the fact that we just met-"
"W-who said anything about marriage?!" Rutilah demanded, crossing her arms and lowering her head to hide her face.
"You did. You said something I would gain your father's blessing." Linkle leaned to the side and found Rutilah's face to be deep shade of red, "You're face is red, and I don't know if I should be worried about your health or not, if you still have a fever-"
"I'm fine, just unseasonably warm." Rutilah jumped when Linkle pulled the hood over her head, "A-ah, thanks...b-but what I meant was, I think Father may allow you into the temple to fight the monsters, so far he's kept the place locked up tight, thinking the problem will die of starvation...I doubt it will happen anytime soon," Linkle held out the bottle of water she collected earlier and pulled the lid off, Rutilah started to accept the bottle, "and I only said that because you've shown me great re—ah! Idiot, why?!"
Linkle furrowed her eyebrows as she stared at the cloak's soaked hood sticking to Rutilah's head, "You said you're warm, you're a Zora, this is a break, and I can't let you dry out, so this seemed like a good-"
"Way to disrespect a Zora!" Rutilah interrupted, correcting what Linkle was going to say, "I don't want Father to send you away, so treat me with respect...or I'll return again and we'll do this again...though the poison might have grown stronger by then...we should hurry. For what it's worth, I agree with your method, just don't let Father catch you doing that, or he will be quite displeased!"
"I understand, I guess your dad wouldn't care if he knew the Hero would be born an unlearned villager, he still wouldn't trust me to bumble my way to victory...you know what, this is also a trial!" Linkle smacked her fist into her hand, "Let's go and wow your dad!"
"Well, you will, anyways, I shall watch and and do my best to not be useless."
Linkle lifted Rutilah up and turned around, "Now, how do we get across the sea?"
"Well, I'll freeze the water into a raft, then secure your boots to it with vine-like ice formations." Rutilah squinted, "No...not a raft, too square, I need something more streamline...like a shark's head...okay, I think I have it! I'll propel you by manipulating the water."
"W-what about magic? I thought that was related to Heart somehow; so you shouldn't use too much magic!" Linkle pointed out, "Maybe we should restock first, I just remembered I need arrows, and you must be hungry."
"We stores of fish and plenty arrows back home, we trade with the Hylian captains frequently, as for your other concern, I can use my magic to absorb yours, with a simple spell...I'm not very strong, but if you open your magic reserves to me, I'll be fine."
"How do I open my magic reserves? Just focus on you and trying to transfer my magic?"
"Yes, also, relax, a tense body gives way to a tense mind, and results in a tense soul, you body effects your soul, if you're calm, I can draw magic from you easier."
"Okay...I'm relaxed." Linkle said, after a calming breath.
"Good...Magic Current!" Rutilah flicked her fingers at Linkle and began to draw out her magic.
"Ah-" Linkle grunted as magic started to flow away from her, but remembered to relax and closed her eyes. Suddenly Rutilah stopped and Linkle opened her eyes again, "I'm fine, just surprised...it feels like I'm getting pulled apart, seriously, I'm not scared, and I've got magic to spare."
"Oh, it's fine, I have what I require now, anymore would be a waste." Rutilah gestured to the water and a frozen, purple shape emerged from the water, "Step on the board and I'll secure you to it."
Linkle stepped on the board of ice and felt Rutilah securing her feet to the board, she bent her knees as she adjusted to the buoyant surface and turned to face the ocean, "Okay, I'm ready."
"I'll control the path, but you'll need to dodge the monsters I saw on my way here after that boat ran me over, just shift your weight, maybe practice a bit until you get used to it on the way."
Linkle took a breath as they started to move forward, as much as she would like to have been enjoying herself, some kind of dread took hold instead. Rutilah glanced up at her, "Are you scared? Seasick?"
"Hmm...both." Linkle smiled, "Maybe a bit hungry, but I've got this, I'm the Hero, remember?"
"As you wish, Hero." Rutilah continued, though there was a nagging doubt in the back of her mind.
Malron ran across Hyrule Field, cutting through the numerous monsters she encountered, and now awaited Tsuki's next message regarding the monsters in Hyrule, which left her more than enough time to wonder where the Royal Family was, if any survived, "Zelda left without a word, Impa bodily guarded Linkle...I ran, and the king and prince...are probably captured...where were our Sheikah then? Where are our Sheikah now?"
"Ronran, I've got no new intelligence on monsters, I believe they only appear in the world at night, or emerge from the ocean...speaking of ocean...you'll never believe what I'm looking at." Tsuki let the Whisper Cube slip and fall back into place, tapping at the suit before coming to a stop. The Sheikah stood beyond Lake Hylia and let out a deep sigh as water turned dark before his eyes, "The Zoras are in trouble, I'm dispatching you no-"
"That won't be necessary." a voice called from behind.
Tsuki turned to find a masked blonde in blue Sheikah armor, "Your armor resembles mine...a fan, or impostor?"
"Neither...you and I both know the first to wear this armor, the ancient myths of the one they called Sheik, who first ordered shadow to his side." the Sheikah took a step back from Tsuki and extended a hand, "Call me Ohirume."
Tsuki stared at the stranger's hand and met their gaze instead, "How did you follow me?"
"I left for you that message, that the Lady's Lake saw darkness on the horizon...you knew what you'd find even before you stepped foot upon this sacred ground, I merely came here to observe, ponder a solution that didn't require our heroes." Ohirume pointed at Tsuki's Whisper Cube, "A King's Cube, then...you have the blessing of the Royal Family."
"Few would make so mild a conclusion...how do you know I didn't just steal it?" Tsuki inquired.
"I don't know anything, yet, for now it's just wishful thinking...but if what you say is true, then I'm surprised the Gerudo let you take it." Ohirume sighed as Tsuki looked away, "Oh, so you-"
"Don't lecture me about honor, I know I'm faulted, I'm trying to make things right." Tsuki turned around, "But if you wish to pass judgment on a fool for trying...by all means."
Ohirume grunted and nudged Tsuki's shoulder, "That won't be necessary, either...the path of shadow was often a path for redemption, though also discovered on the path of crime...but you may be calm, as we have bigger fish to fry, if your aims align with mine, as they seem."
"You're plan, then?"
"Ask your warrior to go Castle Town, something's about to happen, here, a letter." Ohirume extended a hand, an envelope inside, "It bears the royal seal, just in case you were suspicious of a sudden letter from the princess."
"Hmm, I thought the princess was just being courteous."
"No, just cautious, she's a bit jumpy, but is heartened by Linkle's brave exploits on Death Mountain." Ohirume sighed, "Fortunately it didn't turn out badly...the princess had two dreams...Linkle could have failed, but she didn't."
"The princess has been having two dreams of late events?" Tsuki flapped the paper unceremoniously and folded it up, "Tell the princess I bid her good dreams, if only to avert the disaster foretold in this letter."
"Two dreams which both represent the absolute version of the consequences of a failure or victory...only absolutes, never the path." Ohirume sighed and turned red eyes to the sky, "If only we knew someone who would rebuild the Sheikah."
"Leave it to my agent," Tsuki assured, "that one's wanted to bring back the Sheikah since finding the hideout to be lonely."
"Well, then...godspeed to the both of you, this gives me time to visit that library I have to break into." Ohirume covered one eye and turned away as Tsuki's back straighten in surprise. Ohirume walked away, and vanished into the shadows.
"Tsuki, what's going on, who's voice was that?" Malron inquired.
"That Sheikah I've been working with. Ronran, go to Castle Town, the princess has had a vision of calamity, we'll need you to follow through on your word, rebuild the Sheikah! You haven't long to increase our numbers, so go back to the base and carry back as many arms as you can! Find the Sheikah hiding and tell them the princess is in hiding."
"Will do, Ganondorf's to be our target?"
"Yes...but it could still end badly, so be careful."
"I'll proceed with caution in mind." Malron rose from under the tree she was resting and stretched, "I should probably go out of costume, but I'll keep the hair...I don't want any confusion, and Ganondorf's probably looking for a redheaded pain in the neck."
"Ha, ha, you're going to make it far, kid." Tsuki laughed, "Shadow hide you."
"You too." Malron lowered her Whisper Cube and started back to the hideout.
Linebeck rose early in the morning to find the mermaid walking around with a book in one hand and toast in the other, "Don't let him catch you walking." Linebeck chided.
"Well, have you seen the state of the water outside? It's only a matter of time before-" Joanna jumped as the door flew in.
"Linebeck and Joanna," Jolene announced, "two birds with one stone! Get in the boat!"
Linebeck tore off his shirt and knelt by the water to soak it, "A moment, please? Surely a moment-"
"Fine, hurry up and—ah!" Jolene screeched as Linebeck threw the heavy shirt to land on Jolene's face, and when she removed it, she found the room empty. Heavy footfalls caught her attention, and she turned to punch Linebeck in the gut, except it wasn't Linebeck who ran behind her, but an older man she'd never seen before, "Who are you, where's Linebeck?!"
"On his boat?" the old man replied.
Jolene started to scoff when she heard Linebeck yelling, and stepped outside to see him sailing away, "Then the game continues!"
"Well, I don't think games should leave a bruised belly, but if you say so." the old man walked past her and fell into his chair, "Welcome to Bannan Island, by the way."
"Bye." Jolene turned away and ran out the door.
"Where's Lady Mermaid?" the Wayfarer frowned and sighed.
"Looks like the water's dark," Linebeck frowned, "wonder what that's about?"
He lowered a winch with a bottle attached to it, then pulled it back up with the pull of a lever and put the lid back on, "Hello, my corrupted little bottle of water...how did water of all things get corrupted? I guess I'll hold onto this...maybe bring it to the likes of Syrup...ah, why not Syrup herself? Might as well head to Kakariko Village's port."
Suddenly Joanna emerged from a box, "You talk to yourself often?"
"Ah! Joanna, I nearly jumped into the sea because of you!" Linebeck shouted.
"I wouldn't have pushed you in, wouldn't have been 'because' of anyone but yourself!"
"You just sound so much like your sister! What are you doing doing in that box, anyways?"
"I'm not claustrophobic, unlike my sister." Joanna said, crossing her arms, "She won't even go get my fins if they're in the closet!"
"Hmm, I bet the ultimate hiding place is in a box in the closet, then." Linebeck shook his head, "Anyways, why are you here? You're sister said to board the ship."
"She forgot to say which ship." Joanna smiled, "I wanted an adventure on the seas, and you're a genius, so you can figure out why it's turning colors!"
"I...I am a genius, aren't I? I...I'll make an antidote, all I need to do is figure out the properties of this water...unfortunately, there's only one way to do that, and I'm not sure I want to try it."
"The dose is where the poison's true strength lies, so if I don't play with it too much, it can't kill me." Joanna shook her head and revised, "I guess water can get absorbed through the skin, but we won't know what the effects are until we try it...hmm, maybe I've got to drink it for that, which means if I don't drink it-"
"No, no, no, if you swim in it long enough, there will be effects...this was custom made for Zoras, which means the source is somewhere Zoras can't go." Linebeck knitted his brows, then looked back up, "It's a riddle...this is why I love science! To solve a riddle you need to understand all the nuances and possibilities! For this...I need to understand the currents and wind patterns, narrow down plausible points of origins...and then understand why it happened...Ganondorf probably wants the Zoras out of the water because he's sending an armada...maybe the curse is caused by the witches! We have to find and warn Aryll...too bad I have no idea where she is."
"So, are we seeing Syrup anyways? Her pride as a witch demands that she undo the curse of another to prove her capabilities as a witch."
"Right, I'll check up on the Zoras after that, see how they're dealing with it...on the way, we'll collect more samples. Good thing I make glass bottles...too bad I only have a few here, I'll use them all!"
"Are you trying to be a wizard, too, Linebeck?"
"No, I'm a scientist, we uncover the truth through experiments, if something can be done consistently, we find out why!" Linebeck said proudly, "If something is sought then we find a way to make it happen!"
"I don't know, it still sounds like magic."
"It's nuanced." Linebeck replied simply, "Right now we have to decide our approach...but you being here is a game changer, I'll drop off at Kakariko Village's port and you'll sail up around in a big circle okay? When you see me on the docks, come back around and I'll hop aboard."
"Okay, I'll do that! Wait, how do you drive a boat?" Joanna asked enthusiastically.
"U-uh, well, you take the wheel...and make sure not to hit anything, I have this ship powered by simple device, you need just one person for the whole boat, which makes this ship both unique and awesome!"
"Awesnique!" Joanna gasped, "That'd be a great name for this ship."
"She already has a name, Linebeck is it!"
"How...egocentric of you."
Linebeck smirked, "Thanks, I try."
Ganondorf closed as he contemplated the compass, it had been depicted in the marble reliefs and the stories, but was now missing. It was supposed to be in the cave that seemed to have acted as a treasury, it also wasn't at the castle, and Death Mountain didn't erupt.
Ganondorf had been watching, and when it steadily lowered he shouted loudly, a hand raised to the mountain to ingratiate himself to the locals, and now they wished for a miracle on the sea. He called on the ones who bore the Triforce of Courage and Wisdom to deliver their pieces so he could wish for an end to all chaos, though vowed to do all within his newfound power to cleanse the ocean.
He was interested now, though, and pondered if and when the ocean would be cleansed. He smiled to himself and wondered who the one who fought Volga was. A Goron, perhaps an army of them, and it was probably a fluke, Volga's worse day coupled with their greatest ploy, but if it was Din herself come to intervene as Aveil feared, then not even she could stop Ganondorf. As long as he had the Triforce of Power, no one could stop Ganondorf.
"No one...except the other two." he sneered, "The gods can't fight the power they've bestowed upon us, I've bound a piece of reality to myself, a third of the foundation of the world is in my hand...and power can only be forcibly removed, but I'm even stronger than the gods now!"
Ganondorf rose from the throne and tapped the scepter against his hand, "Aveil, ready my organ, I sense...something's flowing into the waters Zora's Domain...perhaps the gods have called on their hero to save the Zoras from their planned annihilation. Ready a royal escort for me, I shall be that Hero! Call on the public to pray around the beginning of the Zora's River tomorrow, and witness their Hero, chosen by the goddesses, as he cleanses the ocean of it's filth!"
"As you wish, milord." Aveil backed away and Ganondorf closed door behind her with a wave.
"The Hero's at large." Ganondorf mused, "Already one curse fell to his hand...as expected, good thing I was watching the volcano...and that the Hylians believe I saved them! Ha, ha, ha go ahead, Nayru, Farore, Din, go ahead, call upon your 'hero', but not even he can save you from my master plan!"
Ganondorf smiled at the thought of battling the legendary Hero, and hoped to find a Triforce piece in his hand after the hilt of his sacred blade slipped from it, and then he'd hunt for the next piece, promising a place at his side, perhaps, if the offer of a safe world didn't draw in whoever had the Triforce of Courage or Wisdom.
Author's Notes: Okay, so we've got the return of Linebeck and the sisters, he's a scientist, one's a pirate, and the mermaid's his assistant, fun times. Ganondorf knows what we learn in ALBW, the Triforce doesn't just hold the essence of the gods, it's also the foundation of reality, and he's ready for the Hero to save the day...either way, victory is all but in his grasp!