As the sun set on the horizon, Linkle felt a chilly breeze hit her. She wished she had a coat or better, that she could pull a warm blanket up to her ears. She turned around and found the wooded area where Kakariko Village's trail began.
She felt her lip tremble and turned away, she felt so lost on so many levels, and felt like something in her chest was tugged at for a brief but rough instant. She pushed ahead and wiped her face with a sleeve, still coming up empty on how to impress the most powerful race in Hyrule as she hiked up the mountain trail.
"Halt, who goes there?" Linkle turned to find a Goron holding one hand out.
"Linkle, the Hero reborn!" she answered, gripping her fists tightly.
"Funny, a man called Ganondorf said the same thing...then he asked for our mines, saying his army was his weapon against evil, when we said we depend on the mines for our livelihood, Big Brother Dargun was cast into the heart of the volcano, even now he is buried in lava!"
"My army against evil is on my left and right shoulders! Ganondorf's going to face both of them and their crossbows one of these days!"
"I...I—can this truly be? Are we all but saved, then?" the Goron sighed heavily and curled into a ball, then bounced twice, uncurled, and started down the cliff to Linkle, while two others took his place, "Please, follow me!"
Malron found that Linkle was not outside the gate, waiting to be let in, and cast her glance down at the ground, "Was she here...what if-"
"I apologize for the intrusion." someone in a tight fitted outfit and face wrappings stood across from her, at the outskirts of the forest, "I have come here...first, I want you to know both the princess and Linkle are safe enough for now...at the very least, both are out of Ganondorf's hands."
"How can you know?!" Malron cried out dismounting Epona and pointing at the warrior's cloth, which draped over the shoulders, with a red eye on the front, "You...you're not-"
"Yes, I am a Sheikah, I must urge you to stay safe, remain in the village, Linkle is in no danger, though I can't speak for what she and the princess are about to get themselves into."
"I'm sorry...but no, I don't think I can do that...I will save Linkle!"
"You don't believe she is the Hero?"
"I don't care if she is or isn't, I just want her to stay alive!"
"You would face Ganondorf a second time?"
"Huh?! H-how do you know I saw him?"
"I saw you see him, I saw everything...I saw how everything you saw affected you. Fine, I want to help you, since you're so dead set on this." the Sheikah looked up at the cloudy sky, "They say that when the sun is gone, is when the stars come out...even when it's cloudy, it's just harder to see them."
"No one mentioned the clouds before."
"That's because...it's bad enough that the sun's gone...join me, Malron, become a star behind the clouds, you have a vision, I will help that vision go as far as I can!"
"Because...no one's facing him alone and coming out alive...Linkle has embarked on her journey and even now the princess bides her time, waiting for the day to fight alongside Linkle." the Sheikah nodded approvingly, "I believe you both have a passion and a vision, you just need to direct it. She has her way, you have yours, a two pronged attack is in order, she will have help, and so will you—you have great potential! Your training cannot be extensive, but I believe you will go far!"
"How do you know...in the case I train with you, how do you know I will go far?"
"Because," the Sheikah's eye grew wide with hope and certainty, "you wounded the beast, even now he feels the pain you inflicted, an injury that you inflicted!"
"I just stabbed him through the back of the neck."
"All the way through to his armor!" the Sheikah cried, at which point the Sheikah's enthusiasm started to intrigue Malron.
"But...Zelda said he lives."
"Did she say how long Ganondorf will live or how, if at all, he will die?"
"N-no, she didn't."
"She sees things in the near future and Ganondorf is a long term project...even then, she simply sees shadows on the wall, sometimes there are...hidden elements."
"How many of us are there?"
"The Sheikah...what are our numbers?"
"Two to Ganondorf's one...yourself included...my mentor was not...recovered...I pray she's in hiding, but I—it's hard to hope for it when even a token that there were leaves and grass is impossible to come by...who knows how Linkle survived? The only thing that makes sense at all is that...she's not your typical Hylian girl."
Malron thought a lot about what the warrior said, "She's not...Linkle...we will fight side by side one day!"
"Yes, I shall look forward to that day! Perhaps we will even bring back the others in hiding. Right now we have to keep attention off her while she does...whatever it is she's doing next. She is directed toward a different path, I hope one day your paths are allowed to intersect, even if for a brief moment before you have to part again."
"Will you meet with her, do you think?"
"I was planning on journeying to her location, if I can find her, but not until I at least give you the basic tools and show you some tricks."
"When you meet her...tell her I'm looking forward to her getting back in one piece."
"Hmm, short message—to be honest, I thought you were going to say for her to not push herself, or not to be a hero."
"I thought about saying it...I don't want a hero, but if that's what she's decided to be, then...there's no stopping her, so it's best not to slow her down."
"She's stronger than she looks...let's go back to Kakariko Village, then."
"What's back there?"
"Well, that's a secret to everyone...but between you and I, that's where our Sheikah base is—it's horribly lonely, though, it could do with one or two guests...someone to keep the place up, at least. All of the rooms have been blocked off by the last resident, stronger and braver than any Sheikah of my age can remember: Impa, who lived there for half a year before she left, by that time the town had been abandoned."
"So you have a base...but Impa was the last one there, it's been how long?"
"Our numbers have dwindled greatly, our base has been empty since she left thirty years ago."
"And no one's discovered it yet?"
"I wouldn't say that...there was something there, a powerful object, but all Sheikah took some treasure with them, keeping it safe from looters, recently a seal was breached, you may have noticed a cove on a map or on a hike, that is actually an entrance, that's where they must have broken in from!"
"How long has the seal been broken?"
"A couple of weeks now...there must be some reason for the intrusion."
"So, we're going there?"
"After I notify your people that you'll be gone for a while." the Sheikah stopped outside the welcome sign and turned to Malron, "Wait here, I'll be back with some rations, we've got a long walk ahead of us!"
Talron answered a knock at the door to find a strange bandaged guy who seemed to have armor painted on, a cloth fell over both sides of the blue outfit's torso, "Can I help you, son?"
"I wish to train your daughter to become a Sheikah, she has great potential."
"Well, I don't know." Talron frowned under his heavy mustache and sighed, "It's no exaggeration to say the ranch can't function right without her. It was tough enough with those two running around the one day, if this keeps up, she won't have a ranch to return to."
"I understand, why don't you and I speak about that in greater detail?" the Sheikah gestured towards the inside of the house.
Linkle was led into a cave at the end of long path. There were many holes in the mountainside, sometimes a Goron looked out to see what was happening.
She turned to met the eyes that gazed at her, mixed something of sorrow and relief, the silence itself made her heart ache for the Gorons. Whatever they feared must be powerful, but only in the moment they laid eyes on her did the relief become apparent, if they were counting on her, then she must have some edge they don't, and even if it was only the way she confidentially named herself their hero that made them think she could save them, she had to see this through. Besides, the sooner she built her reputation, the safer Malron would be—but she could never go home, that would be a mistake that could cost the village.
She stopped as three Gorons, grayed and wrinkled stepped down from a raised platform, and walked across to the entrance of the tall cavern she had stepped into, the Goron who led her stepped forward to address them, "Elder Brothers, I ask that you hear this Hylian's words."
"Very well...it must be important if you'd bring her all the way here." a short and surprisingly thin Goron peeked out from behind the guard, and he was noticeably surprised when he saw her.
"Why's everyone staring?" Linkle wondered, stepping back, "I have to save someone, right? What's the plan?"
She knew she said something wrong when they gasped and shared glances, "Um, I mean, we need a plan, right?"
"You," the apparent speaker for the other elder Gorons began, "you possess a certain bearing, as though there's a small fire waiting to leap to greater heights...it could be nothing, but this can be considered your test: Go into the heart of Death Mountain and retrieve our Big Brother for us! Even now he is probably submerged in lava...or worse! You've never heard of a dragon clan roaming our caverns, have you? Brother Dargun is in a bad place, the area he was thrown into is the seat of the dragon's general."
"So, how do I get him out?"
"The dragon in charge, Volga, has been gone a while, so we think Dargun should be hiding in the lava ring in the middle of the chamber. When Volga returns he will sense Dargun's presence, it'll all be over then, but no one can take on his army without causing a war!"
"That's where I come in?" Linkle inquired.
"If we could ask your assistance on the matter...we would be grateful."
"I'll do what I can!"
"You are brave...perhaps we will finally be saved...none of us are face enough to leap over the gap between the place where our territories meet, but you, being more lithe than we—though sadly, far weaker—may be able to use the rope swing we installed for our younger fighters, who are, sadly, not trained well enough yet, and time is short! Well will alert you by ringing our grand bell when he returns."
"How will I escape?"
"You don't have magic? That makes this more difficult, certainly."
"I pray Farore gives me speed, then! If I can bring him back before this Volga dragon returns, I'll be fine." Linkle turned to the side and cleared her throat, "So, uh, which way is the place I'm going through?"
"Over this way." the elder gestured for her to follow.
Linkle followed the Goron through a long tunnel that opened to a searing room, an apparent continuation of the tunnel they were in was across them, but Linkle wondered why it was like this.
"So, why did the tunnel end up like this?"
"Ganondorf tore it down himself, he attacked the tunnel from the outside...I would feel bad about sending you in there and giving us a great victory, but with Ganondorf on their side, we have, in a way, lost."
"Dragging in any other party isn't exactly a good way to get a challenge...unless he just wants you to go in and trample his men and fight him that way."
"Who knows why he does it? Perhaps he simply enjoys the sight of a war."
"What if...you said Ganondorf was here, so that means he might know that when Hyrule is oppressed, that a Hero rises, maybe he knows the Hero will be here."
"I didn't think of that...but there's something you should know, within the caves ahead there is a weapon—the best weapon for dragon slaying—the Drake's Bane, a hammer as black as death's embrace, it's not heavier than it's wielder can use, blessed by a Goron Hero of old, back when the Gorons were in a war with the dragons, so many years ago...my father was but a boy at the time, so didn't get the chance to wield any such hammer. There were many others, hidden or destroyed when the dragons invaded our portion, but we drove them back, by some miracle...Din, Goddess of War, must have been among our ranks at the time, or possessed the Goron Hero himself that day."
"You seem to share the dragons' love of battle."
"We Gorons have a saying: 'When you are raised on something, it is all you know, it is a part of you, it is something you breath each day, whether you like it or not, you love it', love being the inability to be without it...I would not necessarily die without war, but it would be a strange world, having spent decades combating the dragons—do you understand?"
Linkle nodded grimly and turned to the tunnel, "Lava?"
"Yes...we Gorons broke a hole in one of the walls below us, we waded waist deep for hours the other day, bashing through the rock until we reached this place...there was originally water below."
"Then why did you flood it with lava?"
"Gorons...sink like rocks—let's face it, we are rocks as much as Hylians are dust...water is our weakness, because once in, we cannot very well get out."
"That must have been terrifying!"
"Yes, our young wouldn't think twice about crossing over, even if we treated them like kings for years before sending them to save Dargun, only when we flooded it did they pour over in droves...only to be thrown into the lava below, they're pride injured and bruised." the Goron laughed, "And now here you are, willing to go over despite the lava...a reversal of fortunes is a decent enough summary."
"I can just jump like this?"
"Very direct, I like that! Yes, you may jump at will."
Linkle nodded and turned to the rope, she took a breath and ran over the edge, grabbed the rope, and watched as the tunnel drew nearer, and then further, each time she got closer to the other side, until she finally let go and landed on the other side.
"I'll be waiting near here, but not on the switch, so the rope is up, just in case they start sniffing around!"
"I'll just yell when I need to come back!" Linkle shouted, then turned and delved into the caves.
Aryll was having less luck than she expected, so far no guards knew of anyone able to breach the security, let alone anyone wearing green capable of that feat.
"Of course," she leaned against the tree outside the gate, regarding the destroyed landscape for a moment, "she sneaked past these guards once, if she wanted, she could have gone in there and remain unseen for hours...or got locked up in the first ten minutes...for all I know, she's a guest now...why can't I find that sister of mine?"
Footsteps next to her caught her attention, and Linebeck held out one of two teacups he was carrying, "Officer?" he smirked. She grinned and took the drink from him.
"Good work, Lieutenant Linebeck." she joked, before enjoying the hot tea.
"Still no luck?"
"None, these guards can't seriously have not seen her, unless the ones who did see her are further in, even still, I have no way of getting that far without an excuse...of course, the day Linkle gets her birthday cloak, we learn green is the Hero's color, thanks, stone tablet mysteriously showing up after all these years! It's like someone knew that the color was important, and decided to sell the cloaks, then brings up the ancient stone!"
"Well, that's a good plan, everyone with the nerves and stupidity would buy and wear them, all Ganondorf has to do is sift through them, eventually he gets the guy...and probably hangs him or commends him, depending on what his goals are...who knows, maybe he just needs someone everyone thinks is the Hero to endorse him?"
"I really don't care, I just want to find out Linkle's okay...she is, right?"
"Ha! You must be joking, kid's got a sister like you who's a full two years younger and as tough as nails! She's fine...what if—even as we speak—she's finding dirt on Ganondorf? The best thing would be to find out what his next move is, and predict what a hero like your sister would do!"
"I shudder to think what she'd do...you know, I heard a wall of darkness that rose up earlier...it's why all this looks so dead, she somehow survived—I must believe that—so she knows who did this, and I already have my suspicions...things like this don't just 'happen', a powerful wizard could make a wall of darkness, and Ganondorf never said who attacked, unless the wizard is that good at vanishing, if that's the case, Ganondorf would be dead...unless the invader retreated...but then he would return."
"Ganondorf giving quarter? Gerudo are relentless—well, at least the women are!"
"You're right...you must be—you know the Gerudo better than any Hylian, having been shot down and turned away so many times...but what I'm implying is something much bigger than your failure rate among Gerudo—that Ganondorf is our wizard! Linebeck, I must report back to my post, I'm looking forward to any information you discover; I'll investigate any rumors of a Hero I come across."
"Yeah, I'm right...thanks for bringing back those memories." Linebeck remarked, pacing a hand on Aryll's shoulder as she passed him, "Hey...somewhere out there, Linkle's alive, that's all that matters."
"I know...Ganondorf never would have had mostly women line up in front of him unless he was looking for someone who thought she was the Hero...for all we know, Linkle is the Hero."
"I was talking to myself...but if she's the Hero, she's better off than I am!"
Malron charged at the Sheikah, roaring as she approached, and cringed as the warrior jumped leapt forward and tripped her, sending her down to land on her hands.
"Why am I so bad at this?!"
"You're bad, not for a first day of practice...you show promise, to have harmed Ganondorf, a small token, almost a small victory...I imagine he's none too pleased with it, but I'm thrilled, who knows what you could do as a master of Sheikah weaponry?" Malron watched as the warrior began to pace around the room, sighing in frustration. The last few hours were predictable, to say the least, "What could he have wanted?"
"Maybe he has it already...what is it, anyways?"
"You might panic if I told you—it's all I can do to keep from panicking! Hyrule is in the balance!"
"Then, the Triforce?" Malron inquired, the list of things to put Hyrule in the balance was short.
"He...no—I'm not telling you...as long as we can overwhelm him, but I must be prepared for anything! Including you finding out what I know—if you knew, I can't say what you might do!"
"Alright, this has gone from bad to worse, tell me what's happening!"
"He knows how the device works—there's a book we had, in one of the leafs was the means to understanding perhaps the second greatest artifact in Hyrule. The book itself was a mundane thing that contained the manifest of the room, before we emptied it, and afterwards we marked down the Sheikah's name next to the object they left with. We used disappearing ink and even made the box it was in invisible! It hardly matters...he doesn't need it...for all he cares, the person with it is next to nothing, he's powerful enough! But if I knew it could be used against me, wouldn't I try to take it? Will he try to find her? It's not like she even hurt—but you hurt him! Oh...Malron, can I leave you here?"
"I guess...is Linkle involved?"
"Yes, I must try to find Linkle, now, before then, though, I must rest."
"Should I...cook something?"
"Hmm...I suppose you can't very well train in the fields while I'm asleep, you may master the bow, but I don't need you getting overwhelmed...sorry, but you need to stay here until I get back. Oh, wait," her teacher offered her a necklace, "You can use this to talk with me, in fact, call on me whenever you need to! Here's the plan, I'll keep one eye on Hyrule's monsters, and if you want to go somewhere, tell me and I'll give you a list of places, I'll try to send you after little groups until you get comfortable in not using a bow, you'll get to use fight and improve your style against relatively safe and easy monsters and experience what it's like to have the enemy try to slice your head off, try out every weapon, master them all, sword, knives, hand to hand...you'll need to put a disguise together later."
Malron started searching through the supplies and quickly looked around the room, "Where's the kitchen?"
"We don't really have a kitchen...typically food was cooked outside, if you want a stove or cooking spit, you'll have to fill out some orders that I'll bring back, you can run the place while I'm out fighting."
"Okay...well, I do run a ranch with my dad...the basics seem similar enough."
"How about finding us some 'ranch hands', as it were? After you make your disguise, I mean."
"Okay...I'll wake you in an hour, then?" Malron inquired, staring at the blue cube on the necklace.
"Sounds good...squeeze the cube and you'll have the hour."
"Huh...oh...that's weird, like one of those statues!"
A/Ns: Okay, we'll keep it there for now! Next time I'll try to have more Linebeck and Aryll.