Ocarina of Time audiobook: Chapter 44- A Demon in Kakariko

Ocarina of Time audiobook: Chapter 44- A Demon in Kakariko

Chapter 44
A Demon in Kakariko Nabooru led the way back through the Spirit
Temple, with Link and Sheik almost running to keep up. The trek back to the entrance
was uneventful, for they encountered no traps, monsters, or magical apparitions of any kind.
Nabooru did frown when she saw the tiny markers Sheik had carved into the walls but said nothing. “Did you bring a horse?” Nabooru asked as
they entered yet another lavishly decorated corridor with tiles featuring flowers and
leaf motifs. The side rooms appeared to be designed for pilgrims. There was a dining
hall, a library brimming with scrolls, and dormitories. Link only got a fleeting glance
at them, for Nabooru did not pause. “Of course,” Sheik said. “We didn’t use the
portal to get here.” “A good thing you didn’t,” Nabooru said. “I
doubt your welcome would have been warm, not with the Twinrova sisters around. I do hope
Aveil was more accommodating when you met her.” “Actually, she threw us in a cell,” Navi said. Nabooru frowned again. “Well, I’m sure that
won’t happen again.” She slowed down, glancing sideways at Link with a curious expression.
“Just how did you escape?” “We used a portal stone,” Sheik explained. “Ah, I should have guessed,” Nabooru replied. “We had help,” Link admitted. “Some of the
Gerudo were freed from the curse. Aveil was one of them.” “I know,” Nabooru said. “The witches, or rather
their phantoms, wanted to use me for exterminating the rebel Gerudo.” She grimaced, her expression
growing hard. “Ganondorf will pay for what he’s done.” She sounded as though she wanted to storm
Ganondorf’s tower and confront him herself. Link didn’t entertain the thought. He knew
how horribly wrong it would go without the power of the Sages behind him. They only had one Sage left to find- the Sage
of Shadow. Since Shadow was most commonly associated with the Sheikah, Link guessed
that the final Sage would be a Sheikah. That left two people who could be the final Sage:
Impa or Halvard. Link would have been surprised if Rauru appointed the Mask Man to this role.
All of the Sages, except Rauru, were revered leaders of their people, and Halvard seemed
content to remain a creepy merchant turned spy. Link knew that Impa had been a leader amongst
her people, and he guessed that she became their leader after her assassination of the
former Gerudo king. That puzzled Link; by failing to kill Ganondorf, Impa had disobeyed
her superiors. If the Sheikah knew the Gerudo prince’s fate, he doubted Impa’s failure would
have gone unpunished. What had happened to Impa after that night, and why did she try
assassinating Ganondorf, only to spare him at the last moment? It was a decision that
had sealed Link’s fate, sending Hyrule towards a path of destruction. Perhaps something else
had motivated the Sheikah to assassinate the Gerudo king, and the prophecy was used to
justify the murder… Had that been what made Impa pause and question the High Seer’s judgement?
What else could have motivated the Sheikah to kill the Gerudo king? Link shook his head,
unable to sought out his thoughts as fatigue settled on him like a lead weight. “You all right, kid?” Link was almost startled when Nabooru spoke.
She had paused, leaving Link to nearly run straight into her. “I’m fine… I was just distracted, that’s
all,” he assured her. “It’s nothing.” Nabooru didn’t look convinced, but she nodded
and then gestured for Link to keep following her. They entered the temple’s central chambers
and discovered several Gerudo standing just inside the door. They must have been expecting
trouble, for their veils were raised. However, the moment they saw Nabooru, they gaped and
lowered the cloths from their faces. Link recognized Shinju immediately; she was the
only one with her hair down, which seemed more common amongst the lower ranking Gerudo. “Nabooru,” she gasped, astonished. “Hello, Shinju,” Nabooru said warmly. “It
is good to see you.” “We have dearly missed your counsel,” said
one of the other women. “Aveil should be here with the others shortly.” “Who else rides with you?” Nabooru asked. “Aveil commands an entire company. We weren’t
sure what kind of trouble we’d run into, knowing the kind of sorcery Ganondorf has dabbled
with,” Shinju explained. Once we secured the fortress, Aviel had the other Kokiri brought
here. She said you, or rather these two-” she nodded towards Link and Sheik “-had the
means to activate the portal outside and send them home.” “We do,” Link said, feeling a rush of gratitude
towards Aveil and the Gerudo who followed her. This meant that his oath to the Great
Deku Tree was finally fulfilled. The Kokiri are finally going home, he thought,
brimming with a sense of relief and happiness that seemed both foreign and strange. “They will be well on their way now. Once
our scouts reported you’d already arrived at the temple and they hadn’t encountered
any traps, Aveil ordered us here.” “What did you plan to do if you couldn’t find
us?” Navi asked. “We would have secured the fortress and sent
a message. The temple could accommodate us for a time,” Shinju replied before turning
back to Nabooru. “It’s been seven years, Nabooru, what happened? We thought you were dead.” “Will you lead us again?” another Gerudo asked. “Will we march the spears?” Nabooru rose a hand to stop the storm of questions.
“It will take more than two stupid hags to kill me,” she answered. “I will answer your
questions, but first, there are some things I must attend to,” Nabooru paused and then
gestured to Shinju. “Take me to Aveil. There is much I need to discuss with her.” Shinju led the way out of the temple, with
Nabooru and their small entourage in tow. More Gerudo were marching into the front plaza
of the temple. Nabooru paused at the temple’s wide steps,
eyeing the broken wreckage of the beamos. “Guess you didn’t like our sentries, huh?”
she asked casually, nudging a piece of the wreckage with her toe and flicking it. “You
know, a friend of mine claimed she blasted one with its own beam using nothing but a
pot lid?” “A pot lid?” Link repeated, more than a little
doubtful. “Yeah, I know. I’m pretty sure she was drunk
at the time.” “I thought Gerudo didn’t drink?” Navi piqued
quietly, aware of the guards spreading out around them, their attention directed towards
the grand archway. “Traditionally, we don’t,” Nabooru corrected.
“But I wasn’t the only wayward youth who snuck away from her betters and went sightseeing
at a tavern or two.” She noticed Zelda’s flat, unamused stare and added, “I wasn’t that wayward.” “Of course,” Zelda said, her tone clipped.
“I believe we were-” she gestured to an approaching Gerudo who sat astride a black horse. At the sight of Nabooru’s small company, Aveil
dismounted and waved off offers of assistance as she braced herself against her steed. Her
leg, Link noticed, was bandaged and she leaned heavily on the spear that was offered to her.
She strode forward, and Nabooru quickened her pace to join her beside the dais. Aveil
greeted her former queen in their native tongue and Nabooru answered her before clasping shoulders
with the woman. “It has been too long, Nabooru,” Aveil said. “It’s good to see you too, Aveil,” Nabooru
said. “I am glad you managed to talk some sense into the other councilors and force
Ganondorf to abdicate.” “There wasn’t much diplomacy involved,” Aveil
said flatly. “Unless you count being stabbed.” “So I heard,” Nabooru said dryly. “I am sorry that it came to this,” Aveil offered
more solemnly, her voice so soft that Link barely heard the words. “Ganondorf chose his path,” Nabooru said quietly,
her expression growing cold. “The man I knew is long dead, Aveil, as is the kingdom he
fought for.” Aveil looked troubled by these words. Her
eyes widened a little, and she swallowed. “Of course,” she said, almost hoarsely. “Shall
I have refreshments prepared in my tent?” “I could do with something other than roasted
leever,” Nabooru said with a slight smile. “Yes, some tea would be most welcome.” Two Gerudo quickly hastened away to carry
out Nabooru’s request. “Tell me, Aveil,” Nabooru said once the others
had departed. “Is it true Ganondorf survived after he was stabbed?” “How did you know that?” Aveil asked in surprise. “Wait… Ganondorf survived?” Link blurted
before he could stop himself. The two Gerudo glanced at him, Aveil with
narrowed eyes. Link swallowed. They probably thought he was insubordinate
for interrupting somebody of high rank. In truth, the news should not have come as a
surprise. Link knew Halvard suspected that Ganondorf couldn’t be killed so easily, and
neither Sheik nor Nabooru were convinced he was dead. Still, a part of him wanted to cling
to that belief that he’d never have to face the former Gerudo King. Only the Master Sword can finish him. Lost in his thoughts, Link hardly noticed
Nabooru and Aviel speaking. Aviel gestured to one of her guards, and Link was taken aback
when several Gerudo appeared; ushering forward a bedraggled group of Kokiri. Many of them
appeared confused, some staring at their captors with wary expressions. They were quiet, far
quieter than they should have been. Several Kokiri noticed Navi hovering beside
Link and pointed at her. Their own sprites hovered beside them, some of them recognized
Navi and greeted her. They sounded more relieved than confused, probably because they’d seen
her back in the fortress. Link spotted a few familiar faces amongst the Kokiri, but he
was unable to spot anyone that he knew well. To his immense relief, the girl who Ganondorf
had used as a hostage stood amidst the gathered crowd. One of the boys at the front, who was
just a head taller than his kin, stared at Navi and then at Link. “Why do you have a fairy?” he piped up, curiosity
shining in eyes. “What’s her name?” “Navi,” Link answered. “I met her in the woods.” The boy looked at him as if weighing the truth
of his words. “Are we really going home?” he asked. “Saria said she’d find a way, but
she disappeared. Some of the others did too.” “Yes,” Link answered. Seeing the boy was uncomfortable,
and knowing his scarred appearance probably wasn’t helping, Link knelt. “Saria sent Navi
and I to help you.” Link saw no point in confusing this boy by
explaining that he also grew up amongst the Kokiri. “She did?” the boy asked, a flicker of hope
lighting his blue eyes. It was an unusual color for a Kokiri. “How…how do you know
her?” “Navi introduced me to her,” Link said, gesturing
at Navi. She didn’t chastise him for lying, even though Link half expected it. “What’s
your name?” “Fado, from Bando Grove,” the boy answered.
He shared his name with Fado from Link’s home. Fado looked back at the portal, appearing
afraid. “This portal will really take us back?” “Really,” Link replied. “I promise. All I
have to do is activate it, and you’ll be back at the Sacred Forest Meadow.” Fado looked at him and smiled. “Will you come
with us?” Link’s heart ached. He wanted to return to
the forest and see Forenz and the others. He wanted to tell the Great Deku Tree, or
rather his successor, that he had done what the Great Deku Tree asked. One look at the
expression on Sheik’s face, once again passive and hard, told him that he wouldn’t be going
back. Not yet; he still had a job to do. “Not right now, but I’ll come as soon as I
can.” He held out a hand. Fado hesitated and then shook it. “Thank you…”
he paused, frowning. “What’s your name?” “Link.” Link almost winced, wishing he’d held
his tongue. There was no doubt that his name, and his infamy at failing to save the Great
Deku Tree, was not forgotten. Many of the Kokiri wouldn’t forgive him. If Fado connected
the dots between him and their forest guardian’s demise, he gave no sign of it. “Link, we need to get moving. Aveil says there
is trouble near Kakariko,” Sheik murmured quietly. “I will help you see the Kokiri home,
and then we must head there.” Even though fear stirred inside of him, Link
nodded, doing his best to remain calm. He didn’t want to frighten Fado or the others,
though it was doubtful the Kokiri were as timid or go lucky as they were before their
capture. Despite his efforts, Link wasn’t able to stop the trickle of dread he felt,
knowing that something was wrong. “Gather your friends, you should be able to
step onto the portal twenty at a time,” Link said, doing his best to sound strong and hide
his fear. “Once you arrive at the forest meadow, don’t linger on the dais. Head into the forest
temple- you’ll find the others there.” “Thank you, Link,” Fado said. Fado turned to speak to his kin, talking in
native Kokiri. The others all looked at Link with wide, inquisitive eyes. Then, after a
gesture from Fado, they began marching onto the dais. “You should do the honors,” Sheik said. Link nodded, his throat tightening and eyes
prickling with tears he refused to shed in front of Sheik. He had to be strong. “Thanks,” he managed hoarsely. He stepped on to the dais and turned to face
Fado. “Ready?” Link asked him, pulling the ocarina
from his pocket. “Ready,” Fado answered. “I’m going to step off the dais before the
portal activates,” he said. “Make sure the others stay in position.” Fado nodded, and Link began to play the ocarina,
blowing into the mouthpiece as his fingers tapped to the melody of Minuet of the Forest.
As it did, the portal hummed, coming to life, and upon that cue, Link stepped off the platform.
Several Kokiri cried out in shock as blue flames licked the rim of the dais. “It’s alright,” Link said, loud enough for
his voice to carry. “Just stay still.” He saw Fado wave in farewell, and then he
and the others vanished in a bright flash of light. The remaining Kokiri gasped, some murmuring
and others sounding afraid. Reassuring them, Link gestured for the next group to gather
on the dais. They did. Once the last group left, Link could barely
believe it. He was sore and exhausted, but he’d finally done it. “I told you that you would,” Navi whispered. “Yeah,” Link replied, wiping a stray tear
from his cheek, unable to contain all his emotions. “You did.” He hardly noticed Nabooru step beside him,
gazing at the portal. “That was a good thing you did, kid.” She clapped him on the back,
smiling. “Gather your horse. You still have one more Sage to find.” “What do you plan to do now?” Link asked her,
turning to see the other Gerudo were watching him as they began moving their horses into
the temple grounds. “Me? I intend to leave Aveil in charge as
a regent,” said Nabooru. “She will rally our people and sign a treaty between us and the
other kingdoms. She’s already sent word for our people to leave the occupied Hylian settlements
and flee Ganondorf’s tower if they haven’t already.” Link wasn’t sure what a treaty was. He made
a mental note to ask Navi later. “A treaty will be difficult,” said Sheik.
“I will do what I can, but I fear the resistance will be fierce.” “I know,” said Aveil, her lips thinning. “King
Nohansen invited us into his home, and on the night we celebrated the Nine Kingdoms’
unity, he was butchered. Humans of all races are not quick to forgive or forget. This will
be a difficult task.” “One I intend to accomplish,” Sheik answered. “I am certain you will,” Nabooru said. “I
will go to the Sacred Realm soon. I won’t keep Rauru waiting long.” “Make sure that you do not. It’s the only
way to keep this temple safe,” said Sheik. Nabooru nodded. “I understand.” Sheik gestured for Link to follow her to the
stables so that they could retrieve their horses. When they entered the stables, Link quickly
remembered what Sheik had said about trouble brewing near Kakariko. “There was a raid,” Sheik explained after
Link asked. “Aveil doesn’t know any more details other than the attackers were undead.” “Undead?” Navi asked. Link’s elation died
as it was washed away in a wave of dread. “Whatever happened, the attack was widespread,”
Sheik said grimly. That didn’t sound promising at all. “Is that why Halvard didn’t come back?” Link
asked. “Most likely,” Sheik answered, still sounding
troubled. “What caused them to appear now, I am not certain. Aviel said the attack was
repelled, so it probably wasn’t Ganondorf.” With that less than comforting thought, Link
led Epona out of the stables. Nabooru stood beside the dais, her spear raised in salute. “See you soon, kid,” Nabooru called out to
him. “Take good care of him, Sheik.” Sheik merely nodded. “I think she likes you,” Navi whispered to
Link. Link was glad it was dark because his cheeks
burned like they were on fire. “Thanks,” he said through clenched teeth. He hoped Sheik
hadn’t heard that. She had guided her horse onto the dais and was waiting for him. Knowing Epona might spook when the portal
activated, despite having been through one before, Link dismounted and took a firm hold
of her reigns. Handing Sheik his ocarina, he whispered a few soothing words to Epona.
Then, as Sheik’s haunting tune drifted into the night, the familiar blue flames erupted
around them. Epona jerked her head, ears going flat. Link
held her reins tight, still murmuring softly to calm the frisked mare. The world spun until the stars became a dizzying
array of white streaks across the sky, and a bright light enveloped everything. As the spinning subsided, the air became icy.
For a second, Link was sure Sheik had accidentally sent them to one of Hyrule’s snow-clad mountains.
As the world came back into focus, his breath misted in the chill air. It was snowing too. He’d never known it to
snow in Spring. Disorientated, his ears ringing from the swift
leap across Hyrule, it took Link longer than it should have to realize what was going on.
For a second, he thought Epona was pulling and tossing her head because she was upset
about being flung so many miles in an instant. Then he looked down at his tunic as a flurry
of snowflakes landed on him. He brushed a hand over his sleeve, leaving a gray smear. Link took a closer look at the powder on his
gauntlet and frowned. Ash. It was then that he recognised the inhuman
snarls coming from behind him. Another raid. His heart sank, dread gripping him as he spun
to behold a sight he’d hoped to never witness again. A red glow lit the night and fires
crackled in the distance. “Oh no,” Navi gasped. Kakariko was on fire. It was another raid,
and judging by the harsh cries of ReDeads, it was exactly like the one Aviel had warned
them about. The iconic windmill was a raging pyre of flames
burning high into the sky. The air was growing thick with smoke and burning embers rose like
a swarm of fireflies. Debris rained from the windmill’s sails as the flames consumed them. The scent of smoke, combined with the harsh
sounds of combat, grew too much for Epona. She reared, twisting like an animal caught
in a trap, and then flicked a hoof towards Link’s face. He stepped aside to avoid the
glancing blow. With difficulty, he got her under control and threw himself into the saddle
as Sheik leaped onto her own steed. Together they rode out of the graveyard, pushing
their steeds at a gallop. This can’t be happening, Link thought. We’re
so close to finding the last Sage. Epona charged forward through the frigid and
chaotic night. Before they even made it halfway back to the village, he heard brick and mortar
quaking. It was low and soft at first, impossible to hear over the fighting within the village.
With a loud snap, one of the windmill’s sails succumbed to the fire and broke away, hitting
the ground with a crash and hurling a flurry of embers into the sky. Then Link saw the windmill teeter forward.
The structure groaned, and with a thunderous roar, wood splintered and snapped, brick crumbled,
and the entire mill came crashing down. Screams followed, both from the living and the undead.
Epona reared with a shriek, writhing again and nearly throwing Link off. With his heart
in his throat, Link guided her to the village. The horses approached the final corner amidst
the rock-strewn path, entering the village. The houses nearest to them were up in flames
and some had already collapsed. As they approached the burning wreckage, Link saw shadowy figures
prowling amidst the wreckage. Navi recognized the gaunt monstrosities instantly.
“Stalfos.” Sheik quickly dismounted, steering her horse
behind the rocks before flattening herself behind a boulder. Link followed her, Epona
getting harder to control, her wide eyes glinting against the torchlight. Knowing any further
struggle with her would only injure both of them, Link dismounted. “Sheik,” he hissed, getting close to her.
“What are you doing?” She took out the ocarina and replied, “Make
sure nobody notices me.” “What?” He was confused but quickly realized what
Sheik was doing when she began playing the Song of Storms. People and undead alike paused in a moment
of bewilderment as clouds started to amass in the red, smoke-clad sky. Link took that
opportunity to send a blast of fire into a ReDead lumbering towards someone as they backed
against a wall. The Redead shrieked and burned. Unfortunately, Link didn’t hit the Stalfos
that was also racing towards the ReDead’s would-be quarry. The person cowering by the
wall shrieked as the monster rose its blade- “HEY!” Link bellowed, sprinting towards the
scene. The Stalfos paused, turning just in time to
see the Master Sword carve straight through the air and into its face. The terrified woman picked up her tattered
skirts and fled, not even bothering to give Link a backward glance. Someone else was screaming
nearby, but their attacker heard Link’s shout. Three Stalfos answered his challenge with
a clamour of steel. Link cleaved through one skeleton’s vertebrae and sent another undead
searching for its head. He quickly kicked the hapless monster in the ribs, knocking
it over before he spun around and hacked another Stalfos in half, leaving it resting in pieces. More creatures were coming. People were shouting
and running towards the trail leading up Death Mountain while soldiers formed a line between
them and their attackers. Amidst the confusion, almost no one paid a second thought to the
Sheikah or green-clad Hylian caught in the middle of the living dead. “Navi, watch my back!” Link yelled. Navi nodded in a wordless reply and sprung
higher into the air. He twirled the Master Sword in an arc as five
Stalfos tried taking him on at once. He felled three in a single arc, brought up his shield
to deflect a blow from the fourth, and slashed the fifth through its spine. Somewhere, Link heard a familiar battle cry.
He felt a surge of hope and relief as he recognized the sound- Gorons. He spun to see several Gorons charging into
the village, battering the undead aside. They swung their hammers to and fro, shattering
Stalfos and reducing ReDeads to silent husks. Link rushed to help them. Not that they seemed
to need his help. Encouraged by the sight of the burly mountain folk, soldiers in Hylian
armor came charging into the fray. A single ReDead decided to take on a Goron rather than
try and flee. Before it got a chance to break its remaining teeth on the Goron’s hide, a
hammer belted the decaying husk, sending it into the mud. “Stupid beast,” the Goron growled. His companion looked up to see Link hacking
at another skeleton, and seeing the green-clad Hylian, he bellowed a greeting. “It’s Brother Link!” the Goron cried. Link groaned. “Could you stop calling me that?” The other’s joined in with cries of, “Hooray!
We’re saved! Dodongo Buster has saved us!” Suppressing another groan, Link snarled as
he dispatched another Stalfos. Sheik’s face was still veiled beneath her white garbs,
but he was certain that she was smirking, even as she kicked away a redead and sent
her knife slicing through the neck of another. The Hylians, who were a good distance from
Link, glanced at each other. However, they weren’t given long to ponder, for bony fingers
and limbs burst free from the muddy soil. Stalfos after Stalfos emerged into the night,
shrieking as they broke out of their earthen tombs. A single Goron left his companions, walking
over to Sheik as though nothing out of the ordinary was happening. He casually swatted
a single stalfos to the side. “Sheik, Link?” he greeted them cheerily. “It is good to see
you both!” “Jemite?” Sheik asked. “Where is General Toru
or his captains? Have you seen them” Jemite never got a chance to answer. Or if
he did, Link never noticed. A strange droning noise caught his attention. What is that? It took him a moment to pinpoint the strange
noise, but when he did, he realized it was coming from inside Kakariko’s well. Bits of
burning timber lay amidst soot-covered rubble strewn about the well’s perimeter. Odd. He knew there was a seal on the well, but
until now, he hadn’t given any consideration to its significance. “Navi, can you hear that?” Link asked as his
companion joined him. “Yeah, I can.” Navi gazed in worry at the
well. The ominous droning was getting louder. Sheik heard it too. Link took a step towards
the well, but Sheik threw an arm out to stop him. “That better not be what I think it is,” she
said slowly. “What is it exactly?” Link asked. “You don’t want to know. Just stay back. If
anything comes out, run and find Impa or Halvard.” Her voice was hard. “What… I don’t understand-” Link began.
“How am I supposed to find them in this?” He gestured at the surrounding chaos. “Just do it!” Sheik turned, looking worried.
“Jemite, get your people back! There’s something trapped in there, and when it gets out, you
don’t want to be near it.” The Goron obeyed without question. Sheik took a few tentative steps towards the
well, firelight flickering on her face, revealing a look of dread. That was just as unsettling
as finding Kakariko swarming with undead. The buzzing sound rose in volume, as though
there was an enormous hornet’s nest inside well, and somebody had just kicked it. Then,
a thick black cloud burst through the seal, shattering stone and flinging debris high
into the air. The entity, if it was even one, resembled a thick plague of flies. Voices
whispered from within the dark mass, speaking of blood, hatred, and desperate hunger. Sheik craned her head upwards as the demon
began taking form. In the glow of the fire, Link watched as it morphed into a shape resembling
a human torso, its short arms ending in two bloody stumps. Where its neck ended, there
was a large, bulbous eye which twitched as the beast took in its surroundings. It was
beyond grotesque. Then, two hands formed on both side of the
creature, somehow moving without being attached to its stumps. What the hell is that thing? Link wondered,
wishing Navi could tell him. When no word was offered, he just gaped in shocked silence. “Link, run!” Sheik yelled. Link started running towards Epona, who was
still sheltered behind the rocks where he’d left her. The beast’s hands moved as though attached
to invisible strings. One opened, whipping straight towards Sheik. She ducked, knives
in hand, but even then, two ghostly fingers plucked her off the ground by one leg, throwing
her into the air before catching her and shaking her like a ragdoll. Sheik yelled, slashing
frantically at the creature’s fingers. “LET HER GO!” Link bellowed, stopping in his
tracks. The demon simply ignored him, its single eye focused on Sheik. The Gorons roared a challenge, and Link heard
someone shouting orders. The Hylian soldiers had managed to kill most of the remaining
undead separating them from him and Sheik and were now advancing. Some of the men were
pointing at the demon, while others notched bows and took aim. Several archers ran as
the other hand swung towards them, swatting and splattering men as though they were mere
insects. The stalfos took this chance to charge forward, intent on attacking the wounded,
but before they could, or Link could even rush to their aid, the Gorons surged forward. An arrow whizzed past, striking the hand holding
Sheik, the weapon’s shaft no bigger than a thorn compared to the monster’s hand. Link
ran forward, just as Sheik heaved one into the hand’s palm, twisting and shoving it as
hard as she could. The creature dropped her, and she slammed into a brick wall with a crunch.
She went down limply, falling like a sack. Link’s breath left him. “Sheik?” he asked weakly. She didn’t move.
He called out more urgency, “Sheik!” Several of the Hylians were already running
towards the fallen Sheikah, giving no heed to Link, and Jemite followed in their wake. “Link, we have to get help!” Navi yelled. Link nodded and broke into a run, sprinting
as fast as he could towards Epona. The creature’s form had already dissolved, and this time,
the entity was shooting straight towards him like a thick cloud of black insects. “It’s after us!” Navi cried. Link spun on his heels and saw the creature
tear the air. Knowing he could not outrun it, Link braced himself and held his sword
so tight that his fingers hurt. He channelled light magic into the blade and charged at
the demon with an angry snarl. It was a stupid move, but by the time he realized his error,
it was too late. The monster slammed into Link’s shield with
the force of a rampant bull. He hit the muddy earth, a spasm of pain rippling through his
chest, his ribs cracking upon impact. Gasping, he tried to roll onto his stomach and bring
himself to his knees. Somewhere nearby, Epona shrieked. There was a thunder of hooves as
she galloped off into the night, fleeing like the demon king himself was after her. The
shadow beast engulfed Link, plunging him into total darkness. A peculiar sensation ran along
his skin, as though he’d been plunged into an icy pond and was now being pulled slowly
under. Link wanted to scream as the shadow further
smothered him, his left hand burning with pain. He tried in vain to draw breath, but
it was as though something cold was pressing down on him. He couldn’t breathe. With a jolt
of horror, Link realized the creature was drawing energy from him. He sought the Triforce’s
comforting presence and felt something stir inside of him as it answered his call. He
could sense it now, a light amidst the darkness. He clung to it, clutching it as though it
was the only thing that stood between him and drowning in a storm. The creature’s hungry
murmurs grew louder, it cackled in excitement, certain of its triumph. “I haven’t come this far, just to get killed
by some mindless beast,” Link thought savagely, “and I am so done with getting knocked senseless…” The creature cackled, its insane laughter
rattling in Link’s mind. Shut up! Link thought, but even as he did,
his frustration yielded to a familiar terror, one that would not be ignored, despite his
every effort. Link felt his tenuous on Courage’s power slip,
and the world grew colder still. Damn it, he thought. All he had to do was use Courage, and he would
be free of the beast’s grasp, but it was like trying to swim to the surface of a murky river,
the light above growing ever more distant. Link’s lungs screamed for air, but he still
couldn’t breathe. Focusing as hard as he could, Link drew on Courage’s power. He didn’t hold
back this time, but rather allowed it to flood into him and surge through his body. A flash
of green light burst across his vision, leaving him dazed. The creature screamed in pain and rage, its
oppressive weight lifted, and Link sucked in air, heaving violently. He crawled towards the Master Sword, his limbs
feeling like lead as he moved forward. He saw a flicker of light through the corner
of one eye. Sheik was on her feet and leaning against the wall she’d fallen against. Her
palms were stretched outwards towards the demon. Several guards were standing near her side.
Three others were trying to riddle the demon with arrows without much success. The creature
retreated, howling in pain as it did so. The remaining Stalfos turned, saw their master
flee, and took flight. The few ReDead that remained were not so fortunate, and their
neverending torment was brought to a quick end. As Link’s fingers finally clung to the Master
Sword’s hilt, his vision blurred. He struggled to take in the air, and despite the fires
raging around him, he shivered violently. “Stay… awake… damn it!” he grunted, more
to himself than anything or anyone else. He could hear muffled voices, but couldn’t
make out any words as darkness claimed him. His head hit the Master Sword’s hilt with
a painful thump.

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