• Chapter Thirty: Absolute Power (Part 2 of 2)

    And she was right. Shrieks of laughter startled her so badly that she let out a small scream. That laughing was not Ganondra’s. That laughing could only belong to Kotake and Koume.

    The hall lit eerily with the light from their magic: ice and fire trailing from their flying brooms. Even though she was invisible, Kotake shot a giant icicle straight for her. Lila barely had time to block it with her shield.

    "Well look who it is, sister!"

    "Why it's our very own Lila! Isn't she such a beautiful traitor?"

    Lila hurried to throw her cloak to the side so it wouldn't hinder her movements. Her hair was tied up under her hat, but some of it escaped over her eyes.

    "Yes. Now it's time for the traitor to die!"

    In unison, the witches hurled their magics where Lila had been standing. She recovered from the dodge thinking, How do I get them to come down? My sword won't reach them!

    The witches didn't miss a beat. They continued throwing fireballs and ice spears, hardly giving her time to breathe.

    Kotake complained, "Stop flitting about like a raven and let us kill you properly."

    Finally, Lila remembered her bow. She ducked behind a pillar to ready it. As she pulled back an arrow from the owl, the arrowhead glowed bright blue, just like Kotake's ice.

    The witch must have seen the glow because she said, "What's that?"

    Lila answered by rounding the pillar and aimed for Koume. The old witch was too slow to avoid the arrow, but it still missed the vital areas.

    "Lila," Koume whined, "didn't we raise you better than this?"

    Kotake threw back her head and laughed. "Yeah, the Lila we knew wouldn't have missed." Her mockery ended with a small gasp as a flaming arrow struck her chest.

    "Sister!" Koume cried. She attacked Lila again. "You will pay for that!"

    Lila held up her shield but felt the heat of the fire. Koume had thrown it with so much force it nearly knocked her to the ground.

    "Is that all you've got?" Lila shouted. Her shield was still up when another shard of ice hurtled toward her. It was time to retreat behind another pillar.

    "Are you playing hide-and-seek, little traitor?" Kotake hissed. "You know how good we are at that game."

    Lila let the horrible memories fuel her anger as she shot another arrow. This one hit Koume squarely, sending her flying a few feet across the room. Lila didn't have time to react before she was bathed in flames. Through the pain, she rolled over to the closest pillar she could see. She stood up and nocked another arrow... to see Kotake right in front of her.

    "Die, traitor!" the witch seethed. Out of her hand shot the coldest ice Lila had ever felt, but for some reason, she didn't get frozen in place. Quickly, she loosed the arrow on her tormentor. Kotake screamed as flames enveloped her body, radiating from the arrow deep in her chest. Lila hoped she was down for good.

    Shaking, Lila breathed heavily, feeling the cold slow her body. She had to get moving or she would freeze. She bolted from the pillar just as another fireball hit it.

    "You killed her!" Koume screeched. "You killed my darling sister! How? You're not supposed to be this strong!"

    Lila stared right at the witch's face and smirked. "You're next," she said, letting another arrow fly. Koume flew out of the way easily and retaliated. When Lila nocked the next arrow, it had kept with the pattern and burned with flames. She wasn't sure how that would affect the fire witch but shot her anyway. The flames simply joined with Koume's own and she laughed.

    "Did you think that would work? Think again." Koume sprayed fire at Lila and flew in close. Lila had to run while blocking with her shield, unable to fight against the relentless charge. She pulled out her sword, hoping the witch would get close enough. Finally came a break in the fire, and Lila struck where she thought Koume would be. A painful scream told her of her success.

    "Why?" Koume screeched as she fell, dying. "You weren't... supposed to... be so strong..."

    The light of her magic died and Lila dropped to her knees, gasping. She didn't have much time to recover, though, as powerful clapping rang through the hall.

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?

  • Chapter Thirty-One: Real Courage (Part 1 of 2)

    Lila's spine tingled as she turned around slowly. There was the Shadow Chieftess herself, looking like she had just watched something very entertaining.

    "Well done, Lila, well done," Ganondra lauded. "For a moment there I thought Kotake had you. Tell me, why didn't you freeze?"

    Lila coughed out a laugh. "Thanks to you I have some Chainmail that is Impervious. Comes in handy."

    "So it seems." Ganondra sighed, "It will be such a pity to see it destroyed along with you, but maybe it'll be all that's left of your corpse."

    Raising her sword and shield, Lila shouted, "It's time for your tyranny to end!" She charged. Ganondra didn't move so she knew she made the wrong move. Without a way for her to stop in time, Ganondra easily back-handed her out of the way. Lila fell back, feeling the fear return. She fought it and stood. Ganondra still hadn't moved.

    "You don't really expect it to be that easy, do you?" she mocked. "Come now, show me what you've learned."

    Lila tried to not let her into her head. She was just another dungeon boss, not the most terrifying woman alive. She would defeat Ganondra so Zale didn't have to be lonely. She took another deep breath and approached, slower this time.

    Ganondra said, "That's more like it. Unfortunately for you, I have business elsewhere. There's a prince that needs to be killed."

    "No!" Lila cried, but Ganondra was already a shadowy cloud speeding away. It was like Ganondra knew what Lila was thinking and directly hit her weak spot. Lila sheathed her sword and ran after the cloud but lost sight of it quickly. She hoped she could reach the field in time to save Zale.

    She couldn't live without him.

    Lila didn't bother with the secret passage this time and ran straight through the city, pushing away anyone in her path with her shield. She may have been cut a time or twenty, but she ignored it all. Only Zale mattered. The only thought she had was killing Ganondra before she killed her prince. Running wasn’t fast enough, and there were too many obstacles. Lila used her hookshot to get on top of the nearest roof. Then she ran across the roof and used her hookshot again to get to the next rooftop. Finally, she made it to Hyrule Field.

    Bodies of all races and creatures littered Hyrule Field, but Lila didn't spare them a thought. She searched the battle until she saw Ganondra. To her surprise, she stood in the middle of the field, facing the city and grinning wickedly. Had she tricked her? It didn't matter; Ganondra was going to die.

    An area had cleared of all fighting around Ganondra. Lila didn't know if she was using magic or if she was that intimidating. Lila drew her sword before she reached her.

    "This is it, my pet," Ganondrda said. "You have fought against me long enough. It is time for your final punishment!" This time she charged at Lila with her two enormous black swords. Lila had never seen her move so fast. It took all of her might to block Ganondra and then throw her back, only for her to attack again. If this kept up, Lila would never get in a strike. She had to change the tempo. She had to find a way to knock Ganondra off her guard. Carefully, she watched and waited. Each blow jarred her arms, adding to her pain.

    There! A spot opened up and she twisted to the side. Her sword struck Ganondra in the back.

    Ganondra jumped away and growled, "Time to die, pest." She tried to start the barrage again, but this time Lila moved the other way. Ganondra’s momentum when she stopped made her lean forward, almost falling. Lila had time to hit her back again. Ganondra threw out her arm, sending Lila flying. It took her a second to recover, and Ganondra stood over her by the time she did. Lila didn't let her get her, though, and thrust with her sword. They battled again, and this time Lila kept up. She got in a few more wounds on Ganondra until she used magic to throw Lila back.

    Lila was still on the ground when Ganondra was upon her. Ganondra kicked Lila’s sword out of reach from her outstretched arm and then kicked her in the stomach. She felt the blood rising to her mouth before she coughed it up. She couldn't get her eyes to focus. Was this the end?

    Ganondra crushed her sword hand with her boot and Lila screamed from the intense pain. Ganondra was laughing now, but Lila could see that the chieftess was weaker than before. If she could just get up, she might be able to finish her.

    The Shadow Chieftess spat out some blood and bile. "Stop your fighting, Lila. You know I have won. Hyrule belongs to me, now, and it's all thanks to you. Such a good spy, even if you turned on me in the end." She laughed again, watching Lila struggle to her knees. She was seeing spots where the blackness didn't rim her vision. Every breath hurt, every movement hurt, but she wouldn't let Ganondra beat her. Not this time. She finally grasped the Master Sword in her right hand when she heard a small grunt from her old leader.

    Lila looked up to see an arrow made entirely of light protruding from Ganondra’s chest. Her face contorted in anger and pain as she fell to his knees. Lila held her sword tightly and approached. Ganondra punched her, but she ignored it. She couldn't hurt her – or Zale – ever again. Lila plunged the Master Sword right through her heart.

    Then Lila collapsed.

    Her ears were ringing, but the pain was gone. Zale's face hovered in her vision. He was talking, but she couldn't hear. He held her. Tears poured down his face. Lila closed her eyes, content that he was alive.

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?

  • Chapter Thirty-One: Real Courage (Part 2 of 2)

    Zale clutched his love to his chest. He could barely feel her pulse, and she didn't react to anything he said or did. He didn't care that they were in the mud next to the Dragon of the Desert's corpse. The Master Sword glowed with an ethereal light on its blade, which had appeared right after he shot the arrow. But was his arrow too late? The light of both slowly faded as Ganondra’s body turned to stone.

    Dried blood caked around Lila's mouth. She had numerous cuts, bruises, and burns over every patch of skin he could see. Her tunic and hat were ruined almost beyond repair. Can I repair her? He worried she had lost too much blood already.

    The sounds of battle slowed around them. With Ganondra dead, the survivors that followed her surrendered or retreated. Some of Zale's allies ran to them: his personal servant and guard, Salvatore; a Zora medic; and a couple of his other retainers. He didn't let go of Lila until the Zora told him to lay her flat.

    He leaned his forehead against hers, his tears spilling onto her face, and whispered, "You promised me you'd come back. Come back to me, Lila. Come back."

    By this time the sword's light had completely faded, and Ganondra was now entirely made of stone. Some sort of magic made a heart-shaped object made of ruby and gold appear. Zale remembered the only other time he saw one and his spirits lifted. The heart burst into red and gold sparkles, which then entered Lila's body. She took a few shaky, deep breaths, but didn't wake.

    The Zora checked her pulse. "She's doing better. What was that magic?"

    Zale's voice cracked as he answered, "An object that only appears to the Hero after a great battle."

    The medic nodded with interest. "We need to get her out of here," he said soberly. "She may be stable, but not for long. She's still losing blood."

    The group rushed Lila to the medical tents. Salvatore had the forethought to bring her gear.

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?

  • Chapter Thirty-Two: A Peaceful Night In (Part 1 of 2)

    The next night, after a full day of running the kingdom on his own, Zale had a minute to himself. He returned to Lila's room, sat on a chair by her bed, and held her uninjured hand. Her equipment sat on a table opposite an open window, through which shouts and music could be heard, but the Master Sword leaned against the bed stand. He didn't feel right parting it from her, even if only across the room.

    Though he held them back for so long, tears streamed down his face. He spoke to Lila, even though she couldn't hear him. He needed someone to confide in, to support him.

    "You did it, Lila," he whispered. "Hyrule is safe thanks to you. The town and castle are being repaired quickly. While they're doing so, the people are celebrating your victory, but a deep sadness hangs in the air. Still, they've gone on nearly all day and all night."

    He sighed and closed his eyes. Then he looked at the moonlight illuminating her things. "You promised you'd come back, and I'm holding you to that promise. Everyone's waiting for you to join the party."

    He paused. "My father's still missing. We've searched all of the castle and the grounds several times over. We've found a lot of people, but not him." He paused again. Softly, he rubbed his thumb over the back of her hand. "Until he's found, I'm in charge, and Zelda has to remain in secrecy. Let me tell you, it's hard work bringing a kingdom back from devastation all by myself." He laughed a hollow laugh.

    "The generals went home with their soldiers, except for Fapiath. You may remember she's the burly, blonde woman from Ordon Province. She asked to see you for a personal matter. When I told her you were still unconscious, she insisted she'd stay and wait. She's taken over the care of the animals. She loves animals..."

    Zale's voice drifted off. He closed his eyes and leaned back in the chair.

    "I wish you could be here with me. It's amazing to see the change in people. The crime rate has gone down and productivity has risen. Having a common goal has united them so that they've set aside their differences and vices.

    "Won't you please come back?"

    Lila's hand twitched in his, and he bolted upright. She was moving like she was trying to wake from a bad dream.

    "I'm here, Lila," Zale said softly. "You're safe. You can rest easy now."

    Her eyes flickered open heavily. He smiled a big smile at her and said, "Welcome back, my love."

    She opened her mouth to say something but was too parched. He reached for a juice that sat on her bed stand, another thing waiting for her.

    "Drink slowly," he instructed as he held up her head. "There. Did that help?"

    Lila nodded slowly. "You're okay," she whispered.

    The tears sprang back to Zale's eyes and he smiled wider. "Yes, I am. And so are you, and so is all of Hyrule. But I almost lost you out there, even though you promised to return to me. That wasn't very nice."

    She managed to raise one side of her mouth in a tiny grin. "So...Ganondra—?"

    "Is dead. You defeated her."

    She looked to the window as though noticing the sound outside. Zale explained, "Everyone's happy because of you. They've been partying day and night since the battle."

    Lila wondered, "How long?"

    "A day or so," he said noncommittally. "You probably only need a few days more before you get out of that bed."

    "That would be nice." She closed her eyes, but the smile was stronger now. "I don't like being in a bed all the time. It gets boring."

    Zale let out a laugh, making her jump. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that. I'm just so relieved to be talking with you again."

    "You should get some sleep," Lila told him. "I think you need it more than me."

    "You're right. You have no idea how hard I've been working."

    He never let go of her hand the whole time.

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?

  • Chapter Thirty-Two: A Peaceful Night In (Part 2 of 2)

    Lila awoke to darkness a few days later. The moonlight was the only source of light. She stretched while still laying down, feeling all of the aches and pains. The fingers of her left hand were strapped together to keep the bones in place, so her joints hurt a lot from disuse. She longed to be outside again, maybe dueling with the soldiers who fought by her side.

    An unusual sound interrupted her musing, coming from outside the window. Curious, Lila closed her eyes and pretended to be asleep. She heard a person making their way toward her, though they were nearly silent. She felt the person close to her. Too close. Too close to her sword.

    Her good hand shot out to grab the intruder. It was too dark to see his face, but he almost had his hand on the Master Sword.

    "Guar—mrnm" Lila yelled, but he covered her mouth. It didn't do him any good. Two guards stood posted just outside her room at all hours. Who knew she would actually need their help?

    The door burst open, letting in a flood of light. They grabbed the intruder and started forcing him outside the door.

    "Let go of me! That sword belongs to me!" he shouted, desperately trying to escape. Then the light illuminated his face, and Lila gasped.

    "Wait!"

    "We've got this—hrn—, my lady," one guard grunted. "You can go back to sleep."

    "But—" They didn't stay to listen.

    An uncontrollable shiver overtook Lila's body. She recognized that face. She knew that face.

    It was her own.

    End of book one.

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?

  • Time for book 2!

    Chapter One: Fall of the Shadow Chieftess (Part 1 of 2)

    The battlefield flashed before Prince Zale's eyes - a muddied and bloodied land where he used to ride his horse and play with his little sister. What once was green and inviting now turned to charred ash under the dead and dying. It took most of the blonde man's will to leave those broken bodies of his comrades and enemies, but he had to keep his cool for the generals' sake. If he lost his head now, they would never stop drowning him in guilt, not that he wasn't doing that already.

    The young prince looked back at the map he held in his hands. It seemed his forces were dwindling, and no one had news of Lila's whereabouts. Their survival depended on her and the Master Sword, the Blade of Evil's Bane. She was alone, hopefully battling the Shadow Chieftess Ganondra... and not dying in the process. Before the battle started, Zale had made her promise to return. He sorely hoped she did - he might not be able to live on without her.

    A soldier ran to the command tent clutching his arm where an arrowhead buried itself. His hair and clothes were soaked in blood, and his eyes showed he was close to losing consciousness. A blue-scaled man with fins on his arms and legs caught the soldier before he fell. General Jovom placed a webbed hand over the arrowhead, and the area glowed with a soft blue light.

    Prince Zale couldn't wait until the soldier was healed to question him.

    "What's happened? Where's the rest of your troop?"

    The soldier took shuddering breaths and replied, "Dead, but some may only be injured. We were wiped out by a mob of bokoblins, and they're headed this way.

    General Davros, behind Zale, growled and took his hammer. "Time to move, Prince." Zale nodded his thanks to the soldier and grabbed his crossbow. The other generals gathered their own weapons. The Goron general, Nodu, also had a hammer, but the rock man's strength allowed him to wield one much larger than Davros's. The woman from Ordon, Fapiath, mounted her horse, lance at the ready. The Kakariko general, Eri, double-checked the belt around her waist that held numerous tools as well as a sword. When Jovon finished with the soldier, he grabbed his silver sword and shield.

    "I'll watch your back," the soldier volunteered.

    Jovon countered, "You'll likely reopen the wound if you fight. I didn't heal you completely."

    The soldier shook his head and readied his bow. "Doesn't matter. You all go. May Hylia bless your passage." He turned to face the oncoming enemy, and the others left. Zale had a feeling the soldier would fight to the death. He didn't even know his name.

    The generals separated to join their soldiers in battle. Prince Zale looked for any sort of vantage point. Until Lila appeared, he wanted to protect any he could. Then he would protect her.

    A large figure in black and red armor appeared in the middle of the battlefield. Combatants scattered, giving her a wide berth. It seemed like she had put up a magical barrier of some sort. No one attempted to attack her, except Zale. He pulled back the string of his crossbow, creating an arrow made of golden light. As soon as he loosed the arrow, the Shadow Chieftess looked directly at the prince. Ganondra caught the arrow easily and crushed it. Zale felt his stomach churn at his sadistic smile.

    A voice penetrated Zale's mind, as painful as a dagger. He buckled over, clutching his head.

    "Don't dare to trifle with me, child," said the silky voice of Ganondra. "Your Hero is on her way, but I'll kill you first if you try to interfere again."

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?

  • Chapter One: Fall of the Shadow Chieftess (Part 2 of 2)

    The voice retreated. Zale's ears were ringing, joining the cacophony of battle. When he looked up again, Ganondra was watching the town gates. Zale followed her gaze... and waited. Lila should be coming from there any minute. Right? Ganondra’s actions suggested she was still alive. They still had a chance.

    As predicted, a battered woman in green clothes ran out of the gates. She stopped briefly to look for her adversary. She ran forward at the sight of the woman who was nearly three times her size.

    Lila and Ganondra met in battle, and Zale watched on with horror. He didn't want Lila to die, but the Shadow Chieftess was so powerful, and Lila looked ready to collapse. Despite Ganondra’s warning, he prepared to shoot another arrow if he got the chance.

    Prince Zale's Hero fell. Ganondra kicked her and stomped on something he couldn't see. That was the final straw. He released the arrow with a yell born from pure agony and fear. Tears blurred his vision, so he quickly wiped them out of the way. It took him some time to figure out what had happened.

    Lady Ganondra was on her knees, looking at the sky. Something glowing brightly protruded from her chest. That must be the Master Sword, Zale thought. When he saw Lila, she was crumpled on the ground. He threw his crossbow to the side and ran to her.

    "Lila!"

    His gut-wrenching cry carried over the battlefield. Many warriors turned to look and stopped fighting. Others ignored the sound or couldn't hear it.

    Zale took Lila in his arms. Her eyes were open, so he said, "Stay with me! You said you'd come back to me!" But her eyes closed and he thought the worst.

    The Prince hadn't noticed, but four others followed him, one of them being a fish-like Zora healer. The Zora told him to lay Lila down gently.

    The Master Sword's glow slowly faded as Ganondra’s body turned to stone. Once it was gone and she was made entirely of stone, some sort of magic made a heart-shaped object made of rubies and gold appear. Zale recalled another battle Lila had triumphed in, after which the same heart helped her heal miraculously. His spirit soared in hope, but still worried she was too injured to survive this time. The heart burst into red and gold sparkles, which then entered her body. She took a few shaky, deep breaths, but didn't wake.

    Zale leaned his forehead against hers, his tears spilling onto her face, and whispered, "You promised me you'd come back. Come back to me, Lila. Come back."

    "She's doing better but still losing blood. What was that magic?" the Zora healer asked.

    Zale's voice croaked as he answered, "An object that only appears to the Hero after a great battle."

    The medic nodded with interest. "We need to get her out of here," he said soberly. "She may be stable, but not for long."

    Zale helped the others carry Lila to the medical tents. His personal servant - and friend - Salvatore, picked up her things, including the Master Sword. As he pulled the sword from the Shadow Chieftess's body, the stone crumbled to join the ash below as dust.

    With the Gerudo Chieftess down, her remaining subjects surrendered or ran. Zale was glad their fight was over.

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?

  • Chapter Two: Losing Courage (Part 1 of 2)

    The young prince had many duties to attend to after the battle, since his father, the king, had gone missing. It wasn't easy because his father had not announced an heir. He kept his children secret from his kingdom, for their safety, but also out of grief. Each child, Zale and Zelda, had had different mothers, but both died in childbirth. When the king saw that his firstborn was a son, he denied the child the privilege of royalty. He wanted a daughter to follow him, a reincarnation of the Goddess Hylia, so he took another wife. Having received the daughter he wanted, he kept her presence a secret so no one could hurt her.

    However, the king still trained Zale in the ways of running a kingdom. Maybe to rule if he died before Zelda was old enough. Maybe because he truly did love his son, even if he didn't show it in other ways. Whatever the reason, Zale took every chance he got to study and travel, always eager to learn about the world around him.

    Now he put that knowledge to use, but the loss of so many lives weighed him down. He felt partially responsible since he planned the battle but also knew there was nothing he could have done differently. Plus, Lila lay unconscious in a private room, and her life hung on by a thread that could cut at any second. He went to his love's room as soon as he was able, but it wasn't until the day after the battle.

    The room was small but big enough to make it cozy. It was on the top floor of the east wing, away from all other people. A large window let her see the town below… if she ever woke up. On the opposite wall, Lila's equipment lay neatly on an oak table, except for the Master Sword. Zale felt he didn't want to part Lila from her sword, even if only a few feet away. The sword leaned against the bedstand, easily in reach if Lila needed it for any reason.

    Sitting on a chair by Lila's bed, Zale took her hand, mostly to comfort himself. Unbidden, tears streamed down his face like the breaking of a dam. He hadn't allowed himself to show weakness until then. Even though she couldn't hear him or respond, he told her all of his troubles, his worries and fears, his self-doubt, and the affairs of the kingdom.

    "You did it, Lila," he started with a low, worn voice. "Hyrule is safe thanks to you. The town and castle are being repaired quickly. While they're doing so, the people are celebrating your victory, but a deep sadness hangs in the air. Still, they've gone on nearly all day and all night."

    He sighed and closed his eyes. Then he looked at the moonlight illuminating her things. "You promised you'd come back, and I'm holding you to that promise. Everyone's waiting for you to join the party."

    He paused, a lump in his throat. "My father's still missing. We've searched all over the castle and the grounds several times over. We've found a lot of people, but not him." He paused again. Softly, he rubbed his thumb over the back of her hand. "Until he's found, I'm in charge, and Zelda has to remain in secrecy. Let me tell you, it's hard work bringing a kingdom back from devastation all by myself." He let out a hollow laugh.

    "The generals went home with their soldiers, except for Fapiath. You may remember she's the burly, blonde woman from Ordon Province. She asked to see you for a personal matter. When I told her you were still unconscious--" the words caught in his throat "--she insisted she'd stay and wait. She's taken over the care of the animals. She loves animals..."

    Zale's voice drifted off. He closed his eyes and leaned back in the chair.

    "I wish you could be here with me. It's amazing to see the change in people. The crime rate has gone down and productivity has risen. Having a common goal has united them, so they've set aside their differences and vices.

    "Won't you please come back?"

    Lila's hand twitched in his, and he bolted upright. She was moving like she was trying to wake from a bad dream.

    "I'm here, Lila," Zale said softly, drawing close. "You're safe. You can rest easy now."

    Her eyes flickered open heavily. Her beautiful eyes were the color of the sky. He smiled a big smile at her and said, "Welcome back, my love."

    It was the first time he had called her that or even used the word to describe her. She opened her mouth to say something but was too parched. He reached for a juice that sat on her bedstand, another thing that waited for her.

    "Drink slowly," he instructed as he held up her head. "There. Did that help?"

    Lila nodded slowly, "You're okay," she whispered.

    Hearing her voice brought tears back to Zale's eyes. Oh, how he had longed to hear her voice! He couldn't stop - even if he wanted to - his smile broaden as he said, "Yes, I am. And so are you, and so is all of Hyrule. But I almost lost you out there, even though you promised to return to me. That wasn't very nice."

    He hadn't meant it as a joke, but he could see the mirth in the one side of her mouth that lifted into a tiny grin. "So... Ganondra--"

    "Is dead. You defeated her." Zale wanted her to speak as little as possible while recovering.

    She looked out the window as though noticing the sounds of celebration for the first time. Zale explained, "Everyone's happy because of you. They've been partying day and night since the battle.

    Lila wondered, "How long?"

    "A couple of days," he said noncommittally. "You probably only need a few days more before you get out of that bed."

    "That would be nice." She closed her eyes, but the smile was stronger now. "I don't like being in a bed all the time. It gets boring."

    Zale's laugh startled her. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that. I'm just so relieved to be talking with you again."

    "You should get some sleep," Lila told him. "I think you need it more than me."

    "You're right. You have no idea how hard I've been working. Let me help you sleep first."

    Lila rolled her eyes, but they drooped with deep tiredness. "I think I'll be out in a moment. Maybe it's the drink you gave me."

    "Ah, that would make sense," Zale said. "It's probably a medicine to help you heal. Your body takes a lot of energy to heal, so you get more tired as it does so. The body is working much harder to fix your injuries, as well as prevent infection."

    That seemed to be enough. Lila's eyes had closed and her breathing slowed down. Zale smiled loving at her sleeping form.

    "Sleep well, my love."

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?

  • Chapter Two: Losing Courage (Part 2 of 2)

    He got up to leave when he heard a small sob. He paused, wondering what it could possibly be. He took a knife from among Lila's supplies and cautiously walked toward the window. Slowly, he leaned out his head. What he saw surprised him.

    "Impa?"

    A girl huddled on the roof under the window. She held her knees tightly, and her whole body shook with suppressed crying. Her silvery hair used to be tied in a bun, but now it hung wildly, obscuring her face. Zale only recognized her by her uniform, which was cut and torn.

    He placed a hand on her and asked, "What's wrong, Impa? Why are you crying? Here, come inside and we'll talk."

    He helped her stand, preventing a fall, and through the window. She kept her dark red eyes downcast as she wiped the strands of hair from her face. The first thing she could say coherently was, "I'm sorry, Prince Zale. I'm so sorry!"

    Zale led her to a chair and made her sit. "Tell me what's going on."

    The girl sobbed some more before she could say, "Your - your father he's - he's dead."

    Zale’s whole body became weak. He staggered and leaned on Lila's bed. His throat tightened as tears threatened again. He could hardly breathe.

    "H-how?"

    Impa wiped her eyes and calmed herself, dreading what she had to tell him. After a brief pause, she began her tale.

    "We Shiekah took the king before Ganondra could, but only had time to save him, no one else. We hid in the village of the Shiekah, but the king had been poisoned in the escape. It took Chief Tephi several days to heal him so we could return. On the way back, we were attacked."

    She took a shuddering breath but still didn't look at Zale. "There were two old witches on brooms, one with the power of fire, the other with the power of ice. They commanded a small army of moblins and stalfos, so we didn't stand a chance. Chief Tephi ordered me to run to Hyrule Castle, but I hesitated. As I ran, the witches held me back with magic. The king - your father - used the last of his own magic to free me."

    Impa's head fell into her hands and she cried some more. Zale watched her motionlessly, feeling dead inside. His father was dead, and his protectors couldn't stop it. The Shiekah were brilliant in their defensive combat, but that wasn't enough to save him.

    The little girl in front of him - he realized she could only be a child - said, "I'm so sorry, Prince Zale. He died saving me. It's my fault he couldn't escape."

    He touched her arm gently and shook his head. "There was nothing more you could do. You were needed to carry the message, and you succeeded. Because of you, I know who killed my - him." He found he couldn't say the word "father."

    Impa asked, "Do you know who the witches were?"

    "Yes," Zale answered. "Kotake and Koume. Lila had warned us about them, but they never showed themselves at the battle."

    "What... what happened here?"

    "We took the castle back from Ganondra," Zale told her proudly. "Lila killed her, but she hasn't recovered yet." He looked down at her scarred face, feeling the love and sadness blend in his stomach.

    "I heard you talking to her," Impa probed.

    He nodded. "I needed someone to confide in. While I told her about the kingdom, she woke up for a short time. Hopefully, that means the worst is over."

    Impa also looked at the sleeping hero. "I'm sure she'll be fine," she said, not knowing if it was true. Lila looked pretty banged up.

    Zale watched Lila for a few more seconds, and then he stood. "Let me take you to the infirmary. I'm sure your last few days have been rough."

    Impa balked. "What about you? You look like you'll fall over from exhaustion at any minute!"

    He smiled sadly. "Lila said the same thing. Don't worry, I'll go to bed after you're taken care of. Do you have street clothes?"

    The Shiekah was a secret organization set up to protect the royal family. In order to keep that secret, they wore commoner clothes in public.

    Impa shook her head. "No, I lost all of my things."

    "I'll get you some. Wait here for a bit."

    Zale went outside the room and talked to Salvatore, who left to find some clothes. Several minutes later, with Impa changed, they made their way to the infirmary ward. Zale dropped her off, telling an attendant, "She's another refugee. She only has a few injuries, but she's gone through a major emotional trauma." Then he and Salvatore headed for his rooms.

    In a lonely hall, away from any prying eyes or ears, Zale couldn't hold it in any longer. He fell against the wall, crying uncontrollably. He felt so alone, so helpless. He didn't know how he would survive the next few weeks. After a time, Salvatore picked him up like a baby. He fell asleep in his friend's arms.

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?

  • Chapter Three: The Will to Go On (Part 1 of 2)

    A wet cloth dabbed his forehead when Zale woke up. He opened his eyes to see Salvatore sitting by his side.

    "How are you feeling, Sire?"

    Zale looked at the ceiling, remembering the events of the night before. Tears pooled in his eyes, so he closed them so Salvatore couldn't see. He covered his face with one hand, stopping the soothing cloth.

    "We need to go to my fa-father's chambers," he said, cursing his wavering voice. He sat up, ignoring Salvatore's helping hands. Then he told Salvatore to leave until he could get dressed.

    Zale walked quickly through the halls, Salvatore hurrying to keep up. The servant had to excuse the prince's rudeness, which slowed him down. When they were in the king's bedroom, Zale asked Salvatore to seal the room.

    "It's done, Sire."

    "No one will be able to hear anything?"

    "No one."

    Zale felt his heart pounding. He didn't want to have to think about Impa's story, but he had to be the one to break the news. Impa had said the king's will was in his chambers and that it was addressed specifically to Zale.

    But he couldn't do it properly. He held his head in his hands as he sat on his father's bed and croaked, "He's dead, Salvatore! He's dead!"

    The servant rushed to the prince's side. He put an arm around the boy's shoulders and said, "I'm so sorry, Sire."

    "He was killed by Kotake and Koume! The Shiekah were overpowered. Only Impa survived to tell me..."

    Salvatore gave Zale a moment to collect himself, then asked, "What can I do to help?"

    Zale sniffled, He felt too weak. He leaned against Salvatore's chest, trying to relax. "His will is somewhere in these chambers. We need to find it."

    "Yes, Sire. You rest here, and I'll look." He coaxed Zale to lie on the bed and then went off to search.

    The young, tired prince couldn't bring himself to move. All of his strength had left him, leaving his body feeling heavy. He stared into nowhere, breathing slowly. His father was dead; Lila was on death's door; the kingdom was in shambles; the people relied on him.

    But he was only seventeen. He wasn't even publically acknowledged until recently. So many wondered if he could lead them. He wondered if he could lead them. If bad news shook him this much to his core, what would happen if another crisis arose? But this wasn't just any bad news. He had lost his father.

    It seemed just as the king was warming up to his son, Ganondra struck and tore them apart again. Zale wished he could see his father one last time, give him one last hug, tell him for the last time he loved him. Ganondra and her minions stole that from him. They stole his confidence.

    And Zelda! His poor, poor little sister. She adored their father, and he doted on her. He gave her anything she asked for and more. She was too young to lose her father, being merely ten years old. Also, because of the secrecy surrounding her, she would only be able to share her grief with her servant, Nellie. Little Zelda had few other friends, none of whom knew her true identity and relationship to the dead king.

    Zale sat up slowly as Salvatore returned with an envelope. He gave the envelope to the prince without a word. As Impa had told him, it was addressed to him, with a few unexpected words.

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?

  • Chapter Three: The Will to Go On (Part 2 of 2)

    "Prince Zale, My Wonderful Son."

    That brought back the tears. His father had never said anything like that while he was alive. To know his father thought of him as wonderful...

    He must have been crying for too long because Salvatore slipped the envelope out of his hands. He looked up at his friend, his guard, his protector, with questioning eyes.

    "You don't have to read this now, Sire," Salvatore explained. "You continue to rest, and I'll have breakfast brought up to us."

    Zale pushed his hand away. "No, I have things needing to get done."

    Salvatore made Zale lay back against the pillows. "There's no shame in mourning for a loved one. You need some time."

    Zale sighed in frustration, but his body remained weak. He would have to do as Salvatore said, for which he was relieved. He let his friend take over and tried to ignore the pain.

    Breakfast took a long time to get through, but he felt much stronger after eating. He put his napkin on his plate and said, "I'm ready." Salvatore watched Zale open the will with shaking hands. When Zale flattened the will on the table, Salvatore protested.

    "Sire, this is not meant for me. There is information in there belonging to the royal family alone."

    Zale stilled him. "I can't do this alone." Salvatore cautiously sat back in his seat. Zale took a deep breath and began reading.

    "I, King Gaepora Nohansen Hyrule, do hereby declare this to be my final will and testament. The Kingdom of Hyrule and all of its territories belongs to my daughter, Zelda, upon my death," it started, but "daughter, Zelda" had been crossed out and replaced with "son, Zale." The original was something he somewhat expected, but the change made his head spin. Zale wasn't temporarily taking over, the kingdom now fell to him. He read on, skipping over the corrections that followed.

    "This is his birthright as a descendant of the Goddess Hylia, whose blood flows through his veins. This blood also gives life to my daughter, Zelda, who is to remain a secret until the kingdom, and she, are safe.

    "Though you mourn for my death, you must reveal yourself before my funeral. The transfer of power will go more smoothly if you do. I regret I couldn't do this sooner, and wish all of my subjects to take you as their king.

    "Chief Tephi of the Shiekah will help you in your new role, as well as stay by your side in the shadows. She will guide you and keep you safe. She aided me when I became king, and she will now aid you."

    There was a separate note at the bottom that looked to be written with the same ink as the revisions. The words made his voice crack, so Salvatore had to read it.

    "Zale, I know I wasn't a good father to you. I taught you and treated you as a lesser person. I'm sorry things have to end this way and sincerely hope you can forgive me. Maybe we will meet again in the next life and be better friends. I love you, my dearest son. I just wish I saw my errors sooner."

    There were other pages with details on the kingdom, but they left them aside for the time. Zale looked at the floor, not knowing what to do next. He thought of all the chaos around him and the responsibility he now had to bear. He thought of Zelda, Lila, Salvatore, and every one of his acquaintances. His father's last words left him not knowing how to feel, so he felt everything and nothing at the same time. He was happy but scared, sad but loved. The tears spilled from his eyes.

    Zale's voice was raw when he finally spoke. "Salvatore, I... I can't deal with this on my own. I have too many burdens to bear. How does my f-father expect me to handle all of this?"

    Salvatore spoke quietly yet firmly, "Sire, I know you. I know you will be great at this. You need not fear. I, and many others, will take on tasks as needed. You don't have to do everything by yourself. There are many who would love to lend you their aid. You just have to ask."

    Zale sighed and forced the tears to stop. Crying wouldn't help anything. Salvatore was right, and Zale would be better with time.

    "Let's get through the rest of this," he said with a clear voice. Salvatore smiled.

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?

  • Chapter Four: Copies (Part 1 of 2)

    That night, Zale had only begun to scratch the surface of the trials he faced. After reading and combing through the will, they had just enough time to assemble an emergency meeting before Salvatore forced him to bed. Messengers left to call back the Generals since they were important members of the court. Zale hated making them return before they settled at home, but they deserved to be a part of the future of the kingdom.

    After Zale fell into a fitful sleep, Lila woke in her own bed. Nothing had changed since Zale had been there, except a new glass of that strange drink. The only light came from the moon outside, and the only sounds were distant partying. Most people were asleep this early in the morning, but that didn't seem to be enough to stop their jubilee. She stretched under the sheets, feeling every broken bone, every little sore, especially in her hand. Her left hand - her dominant hand - was crushed by Ganondra right before she could defeat her. She hoped she'd be able to use weapons properly in the future.

    There was an unusual sound that interrupted her musing. It seemed to have come from outside. She decided to act with stealth, curious as to its source, and pretended to be asleep. Someone, or something, climbed carefully through the window. Lila could barely hear them; they must be trained. She sensed more than heard the intruder come near. They got close. Too close. And too close to her sword.

    With the speed of a snake, Lila shot out her hand to stop the thief. She grabbed a wrist and opened her eyes, glaring. Whoever it was had his fingers almost touching her sword, but the darkness hid the figure in shadow. From what she could tell, he was Hylian like her.

    Lila yelled, "Guar-mm!" The intruder covered her mouth with his free hand, but it didn't matter. Two soldiers had been assigned to watch her room at all times, so they easily heard her shout. Before the intruder could do any more, the door slammed open and he was restrained. He didn't give up, however.

    "Let go of me!" he shouted as he was dragged into the lit hallway. "That sword belongs to me!" The light illuminated his face and Lila gasped.

    "Wait!" she said.

    "We've got this - hrn - my lady," one guard grunted. "You can go back to sleep."

    "But--" The door closed on her protest, leaving her back in the dark. An uncontrollable shiver overtook her body. She had a hard time believing what she saw, but there was no denying it. She had seen his face before, but not on him. The intruder looked exactly like herself.

    Lila couldn't sleep even if she drank the medicine. She sat up in bed despite her pain. Her mind reeled, wondering how someone could look just like her. Plus, he had claimed the Master Sword belonged to him. Maybe...? No, he couldn't be, but who else would it be? Maybe this mysterious person was none other than Link, one of her... ancestors? How was that possible? Then a thought came to her. If she had a doppelganger, maybe Zale had one, too.

    Lila ripped the covers off and collected her things. Then she crept out the window, across the roof, and climbed to the ground. It wasn't easy, but Lila's heart raced, and her whole body felt tensed like a spring. The mystery was all she needed to keep her going.

    She looked for tracks, but there were too many footprints to guess which belonged to the intruder. She remembered he didn't have anything on him, no weapons or bags, probably to aid his silence. Then she thought about where she might hide her own stuff if she were to enter the castle the way he did. Her instincts told her to check the forest, and she didn't hesitate to follow.

    Several minutes later, her instincts proved true. Lila found a small structure made of leaves and sticks from the forest. Light spilled out of small holes, giving it away. She walked around it slowly, looking for a door. When she found one, she opened it cautiously.

    Someone attacked her... in a hug. The someone had fine blonde hair just like Zale's and wore an armored dress. The girl said, "Link! Thank the Goddess, I thought you'd been caught."

    Lila didn't return the hug, so the girl pulled back to look at her face. The girl gasped and jumped away.

    There was silence. Lila could hardly believe her eyes. If it wasn't for her encounter with the boy earlier, she probably wouldn't believe it. Same as that boy, this girl was a doppelganger of Zale.

    "You look just like him," Lila let out.

    The girl looked scared yet calculating. "Same goes for you. You look exactly like my companion, Link. Who am I to you?"

    "You look like the prince, Zale, and his... never mind." Lila wondered if she was allowed to talk about little Zelda yet, but it was too late.

    "His what?"

    Lila sighed. "His little sister, Zelda. You could be her from the future."

    The girl gasped. "That's my name! I wonder... do the two of you possess pieces of the Triforce?"

    "Yeah," Lila said, "but my hand is bandaged from an injury, so I can't show you. Actually, talking about it is making it tingle."

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?

  • Chapter Four: Copies (Part 2 of 2)

    Zelda offered her right hand. Three triangles glowed with gold light, the same as Zale's Light Crossbow and their own Triforces. The triangle near her thumb glowed brightest.

    "I bear the Triforce of Wisdom, and Link bears the Triforce--"

    "Of Courage," Lila finished with a nod. "So do I. You can probably guess what Zale has."

    "The Triforce of Wisdom. I don't know how this is possible. How could each piece be split in two? Wait, who has the Triforce of Power?"

    "It was the chieftess of the Gerudo, Ganondra, but I defeated her a few days ago. She's the one who broke my hand."

    Zelda pondered to herself for a minute. "Hm... could Rova have it? I've never seen..."

    Lila cleared her throat. She smiled at Zelda when she looked up. "Come to the castle. I'm sure Zale will be able to help. Plus, Link is there."

    "He is?"

    "Yeah. He, um, he's kind of, um, in the dungeon right now."

    Zelda gasped again. "Why? What happened?"

    Lila shuffled her feet. "Um, it's my fault. Because it was dark, all I knew is that someone was stealing my sword. The guards didn't stop even though I told them to wait when I saw his face. So, he's most likely in the dungeon. Sorry about that."

    Zelda shook her head in a kind way. "I'm sure it'll work out just fine. Let me grab some things, and you can lead the way."

    It was still dark when they left the makeshift hut, so Zelda kept her lantern lit. Lila hoped it wouldn't attract monsters but figured the two of them could handle it. Lila had trained with her off-hand growing up, and Zelda was probably at defending herself as Zale.

    As they walked, Lila asked, "Have you been to Castle Town before?"

    Zelda replied, "I have, but not in this time."

    "What do you mean?"

    "Link and I travel through time with our mentor, Rova. We've gathered several things from history as well as the future. We never really had a place to call home..."

    Lila felt sympathy for her, but something clicked in her mind. She remembered an encounter with a mythical race before the battle. The Children of the Forest gave her an ocarina and asked that she return a different one that had special properties. Aloud, she said, "The Ocarina of Time."

    Zelda gawked. "How did you know?"

    "It went missing recently. I guess I know where it went." She pulled out her wooden instrument and showed Zelda. "Does it look like this?"

    Zelda's face lit up, and she shuffled through a bag. "Yeah. Here, take a look."

    She handed Lila a round object that was the same except it was painted blue. Some of the paint had chipped and its gloss was gone, but she knew it was the same one depicted in tapestries that told the story of the Hero of Time.

    Lila handed it back to her and asked, "Do you know how to play?"

    Zelda shook her head. "I never learned. Link takes care of that."

    "You should, it's pretty easy. Do you play any other instruments?"

    "No." She paused. "But if I did, it would be a harp."

    "Like the Goddess?"

    "Yeah, like the Goddess."

    The girls shared a smile. Zelda put her ocarina away, but Lila asked, "Do you want to hear a forest song?"

    "Yeah, sure!"

    Lila put the mouthpiece to her lips and blew gently. She played the three notes she knew of the song a couple of times and then tried out some more. The melody stumbled from time to time, but gradually it became clear. She smiled, thinking of the green village and beautiful fairies. For a moment, she lost track of her surroundings.

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?

  • Chapter Five: Ambush (Part 1 of 2)

    Almost. If she did, she’d probably need rescuing from a certain someone. Snorts and grunts alerted her to the enemies present. Her lapse in sense allowed a dozen or so bulblins to surround her. Before, she had encountered two others from the blin family. Neither the taller, bulky moblins nor the shorter, hunched bokoblins were nearly as ugly. They had green skin, beady red eyes, two yellow horns on their heads, and padded armor. Lila was glad a cloth mask covered their stinky, impish mouths.

    “Time for a fight already?” Lila teased, weighing her options. Most held spiked clubs, but four stood farther out with bows ready to fire. One wrong move meant she and Zelda would get skewered. With her left hand out of commission, she’d only be able to fight one-handed. That ruled out her shield or bow. The hookshot might get them out of the circle, but would she be able to hold Zelda while using it? Then she wondered about the boomerang.

    All logic flew out of the window when the bulblin in front of her began to talk.

    “We no fight,” the thing rasped. “Come with us.”

    Lila was stunned. She had no idea these monsters could talk, let alone in a language she understood. Reflecting her confusion, all she could say was, “You talk?”

    The bulblins rolled their eyes. The leader said, “Yeah. Chief wants you. Come!”

    How did she not know that they could talk? As one of Ganondra’s main allies, Lila had seen many blinds around Gerudo. Maybe that’s why they wanted her–she had switched sides just recently. Even then, she had killed a lot of blins during her training…

    Oh. They probably had a huge grudge against her.

    Hoping Zelda wouldn’t get in harm’s way, Lila said, “Depends. Let my friend go and then I’ll go with you.”

    The bulblin leader’s glance shifted to Zelda. He stared at her for a few seconds, probably trying to comprehend what Lila was asking. Finally, he said, “She go.” He motioned with her head and two of the archers walked toward Lila and Zelda.

    Lila felt every nerve crackling with energy. She decided to play along with whatever the bulblins wanted her to do… for a while.

    “Lila,” Zelda whispered, “do you know what you’re doing?”

    Lila nodded slightly, not wanting to scare the bulblins. “Just get out of here, Deliah,” she said, using the first name that came to her. She didn’t want the bulblins to know Zelda’s name. To the blins, she said, “Let her go and I’ll come quietly. I won’t move until she’s gone.” To show that she meant it, she raised her hands away from her weapons.

    “Yeah, yeah,” said the leader, a bit impatient. “She go.” He waved a scaly arm, and the archers stepped back to make a path. They still had their sights set on Lila.

    Zelda looked worriedly at Lila, who nodded and said, “I’ll be find. Go, quickly.” She hoped Zelda wouldn’t try to be all noble and disrupt her plan.

    Zelda sighed, though she looked absolutely miserable, and walked out of the clearing. Lila was glad to see that all eyes stayed on herself and not Zelda. That meant they really didn’t care about anyone else.

    “You, come,” the leader bulblin said as soon as Zelda was out of sight.

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?

  • Chapter Five: Ambush (Part 2 of 2)

    “Okay, I’m coming,” Lila said. She felt so vulnerable with her hands raised and a dozen enemies ready to kill her, but she wanted to wait until Zelda had enough time to get as far away as possible.

    “Tie up–” the leader said.

    “That wasn’t the deal!” Lila protested.

    The archers drew back their arrows, and the ones with clubs took steps forward, but the leader put up a hand.

    “You right. How we trust you?”

    Lila swallowed hard. “You have all of the control, here. Do you really think I’ll try anything with all of your weapons pointed at me?”

    “Yes. Tie up. Take weapons.” The leader waved again, and the two archers did as they were told.

    Lila’s heart pounded. This wasn’t part of the plan. How could she escape if they took her weapons? One bulblin took her sword and other weapons. He looked her over meticulously until he was sure he got everything. He even took her tool belt, which hid even more weapons.

    The other blin was very good at tying rope. The rough hemp bit into her already aching wrists. Lila tried wiggling her hands just slightly, but the small movement only made the pain worse. There was no way she’d be able to free herself without a blade.

    “No fight,” the leader barked.

    “I’m not,” Lila answered quickly. “It just hurts.”

    “Good.”

    Lila didn’t like that reply. They obviously needed her alive, but they didn’t care if anything else happened to her. She had to be careful not to anger them. Who knows if they’d decide to cut her arm off or something?

    Once the leader was satisfied that she was secure, he grunted something, and everyone turned to him. The group gathered close around Lila. She could smell them, a putrid smell that almost made her gag. They were all shorter than her, especially since their shoulder slumped forward. Some of the clubs brushed into Lila, or were shoved at her, as they started moving forward. Oh yeah. These guys didn’t like her.

    “Where are you taking me?” Lila questioned.

    “Chief Gosthard,” the leader replied. “Quiet.”

    Lila figured that meant for her to be quiet. That was fine with her. She surveyed her situation again. The seven bulblins with clubs surrounded her closely, close enough to repeatedly hit her with their clubs. The leader walked a few paces ahead, carrying his own spiked club. The four archers had spread out again, their eyes trained on her. Even if she somehow miraculously escaped the rope, the archers would skewer her before she got near even one of them. She felt there was no hope for her plan, now. She would have to wait and see where they took her and if there was a way to escape there. She really hoped so.

    Her weapons were spread among the bulblins. The leader had fastened her belt around his waist. Her Master Sword hung on his back. One bulblin carried her boomerang, another her gauntlets, a third played with her daggers…

    “Hey, those are mine!” she shouted.

    The leader halted the company and spun around on his heel. He held out his club menacingly. “You be quiet, I said!”

    “Sorry,” Lila mumbled, bowing her head. She wasn’t ready to pick a fight yet. She remained silent the rest of the journey, in the dark of night.

    Zelda hid among the trees until the group of bulblins took Lila away. She wished she could follow them, but worried she’d get lost. No, she had to find Prince Zale and warn him. Hopefully, she would find Link as well. He would be able to save Lila. First, she had to find her way out of the woods.

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?

  • Chapter Six: Imposter? (Part 1 of 2)

    "Prince Zale, it's time to wake up."

    Zale groaned but rolled over to the side of his bed. Without opening his eyes, he sat up, letting his legs hang over the side. He waited to see if Salvatore had more to say, which he did.

    "The guards have informed me there is an intruder locked in the dungeon. He came for the Master Sword."

    Zale's eyes shot open. "Is Lila okay?"

    "Yes, she's fine. She stopped the intruder and called for help. Then the guards had her go back to sleep."

    Zale wished he could do the same as he felt weariness keep hold of his body and mind. Unfortunately, Salvatore still wasn't done.

    The servant said, "Sire, the intruder is an imposter. He looks the same as Lila."

    "What does that mean?" the prince wondered as his heart rate climbed again.

    Salvatore shrugged. "That's just what I was told. You should talk to him yourself."

    "Good idea. Wait, him?"

    After breakfast and tending to a few errands, Zale and Salvatore went to the dungeon. It was overfull with the Gerudo women who had surrendered. Zale hoped relations with the Gerudo would get better soon, but these things couldn't be rushed. For all he knew, they could be plotting revenge.

    Because of this, the intruder wasn't in the dungeon proper. He was locked in a private room near the entrance, and he was alone. He had no window, but torches lit the room brightly. The guard opened the door for Zale, and he gasped. As reported, this person, this imposter, could be Lila's twin. He hesitated until his mind reminded him to go in. He sat on a chair opposite the imposter, who was chained in his own chair.

    The look-alike had a similar expression of surprise and confusion on his face. "You look just like her!" he started, losing his cool.

    "Like who?" Zale questioned.

    "Like Zelda!"

    Zale's face hardened. "What are you talking about?"

    The imposter covered his mouth and looked scared. The guard informed Zale, "That's the most he's said so far."

    "Thank you," Zale said, "but I need you to leave. Salvatore, will you make sure no one can overhear us?"

    Salvatore and the guard bowed and left, closing the door with a click. Zale turned back to the imposter.

    "How do you know about Zelda?"

    Now the imposter was confused. "How do you know her?"

    "This is my dungeon. I believe that means you have to answer my questions. First, though, introductions. I am Zale, Prince of Hyrule." He hesitated, considering his father's words, but didn't say more.

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?

  • Chapter Six: Imposter? (Part 2 of 2)

    The intruder lowered his chained hands to rest on his lap. He seemed to relax his defenses. "My name is Link. I don't have a title."

    Zale nodded. So this wasn't an imposter. He thought of a possibility... if he wasn't lying. "Okay, good. How do you know my sister?"

    "She has a brother?" Link wondered.

    Zale sighed. "Yes."

    Link looked around the room without focusing anywhere. "But we grew up together, and we've never met you. At least I haven't."

    "Hold on. How old is she?"

    "Seventeen, same as me."

    Zale's eyes went wide. "My sister is only ten! We're talking about two different Zeldas!"

    "We are?"

    "Yeah." A theory popped into his head and he said, "Take off your gloves."

    "What?"

    Zale felt the Triforce on the back of his hand get warm. He held it up, making Link's eyes bulge out of his head.

    "You have the Triforce of Wisdom?"

    Zale nodded and put his hand down. "I assume you have the Triforce of Courage? And Zelda bears the same as me."

    Link nodded. "How did you know?"

    The prince considered his words carefully. "It seems, though I could be wrong, that there are two of each of us. Who holds the Triforce of Power?"

    "Um, I don't know. Maybe Rova does."

    "Who's Rova?"

    "Our mentor. She told me it was time to claim the Master Sword, so that's why I'm here."

    "Hmmm..." Zale thought in silence. "Does she have red hair and dark skin?"

    "Not at all, well, some of her hair is red, I guess," Link answered. "Half of it's red and half of it's light blue. Her skin is green."

    Zale was taken aback. What could that mean? Before they could discuss this further, Salvatore knocked and entered the room. He whispered something in the prince's ear.

    "What!" Zale stood immediately. "Where could she be? She's not recovered enough to be moved!"

    Salvatore said, "I don't know, Sire. No one does."

    Zale turned to Link. "C'mon. Let's go find her."

    "What, me?" Link questioned. "Find who?"

    "Guard, release the prisoner. We have a hero to find."

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?

  • Chapter Seven: The Past Can Kill You (Part 1 of 2)

    The sun was coming up by the time Lila’s captors reached a cave that led into a large mound-like hill. The hill and nearby area were cleared of trees. Lila guessed the trees had been cut down to make the blins’ weapons. Upon entering the cave, a smell assaulted her so strongly that it made her eyes water. She gagged but tried to hide it, not wanting to provoke her honor guard. She struggled to breathe for a few seconds, but they didn’t stop. In all of the places she had been, none smelled as bad as this one.

    They passed through many corridors and down several stairs. Wooden support beams created crevices where various blin were hiding. Lila tried to keep track of their path, but the smell made it hard to concentrate, and the darkness made it hard to see how many side passages there were. It didn’t take long for her to become completely lost.

    Eventually, they entered a large chamber, lit up brighter than the hallways had been. Columns allowed the room to be quite big, enough for maybe four dozen people to fit comfortably. The blins guarding her finally spread out. Other blins entered the chamber from various entryways. In the center was a grand wooden throne, and on that throne sat the biggest moblin Lila had ever seen. He wore a Hylian sword around his head like a crown, as well as a cape made of fur. His reddish, pudgy body hung over the edges of the throne.

    The bulblin leader kicked Lila’s legs and made her kneel. The smell was making her dizzy, so she almost fell on her face.

    “You, Hero,” the chief said. “You kill many! You make suffer! Now you suffer!”

    The blins around her made excited noises.

    “I’m suffering enough just being here and smelling your stench,” Lila retorted.

    The chief laughed. “You not even begin suffer! Take her to dungeon. I take weapons to treasury.”

    Lila wished she could see which way led to the treasury, but the bulblin leader grabbed her by the arm and steered her away before the chief got off of his throne. Her chest tightened in fear, thinking about losing the Master Sword. She could think of no way to get herself out of this mess. She felt tears running down her face. That’s from the smell, she told herself stubbornly. You will find a way out of this!

    But how?

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?

  • Post by Laxyak Loves LoZ (June 6, 2024 at 9:29 PM).

    This post was deleted by the author themselves: Posted the wrong chapter. (June 6, 2024 at 9:29 PM).
  • Chapter Seven: The Past Can Kill You (Part 2 of 2)

    “Do you have any idea where she would go?” Link asked. He, Zale, Salvatore, and three volunteers who could be spared from work rode out the town gates on horses.

    Zale had already considered a number of places. “My best guess is that she went to find your Zelda,” he said so only Link could hear.

    “How would she do that?” he asked with his eyebrows raised.

    “My Lila is resourceful that way,” Zale replied lovingly. “She probably tried to put herself in your shoes.”

    “Well, okay. I guess that makes sense.” Link turned in his saddle to address the others. “We’re heading into the eastern forest. Follow my lead.” He pushed his horse to move faster and everyone did the same.

    Zale noticed how similarly he moved compared to Lila, but there were subtle differences. He was more comfortable on a horse, for one. There were also discrepancies presented because of their genders. It was surreal to see the face of someone he loved on someone else’s body. Especially a male body.

    The horses had to slow as they entered the forest, so Link took the opportunity to question Zale.

    “Why do you trust me?” Link asked.

    “Hm? Probably because you look like someone I already trust. Why do you trust me?”

    “Who says I do?” Link paused to let that sink in. Then he sighed. “I didn’t tell you all of that stuff because I wanted to. I want answers as much as you do, that’s all.”

    Zale hesitated. “That’s all?”

    “Yup.”

    “So you still want the Master Sword?”

    “Of course. It belongs to me.”

    Zale pondered the words of his green-clad companion. He didn’t think it was a bad idea to trust him, but he’d need to keep a closer eye on Link.

    Suddenly, Link stopped his horse and sat up alert, bow at the ready. Zale looked around in confusion to see a blond-haired girl in a light blue dress approach from behind a tree. Seeing who it was, Link instantly lowered his guard and got off of his horse. He rushed to the girl, held her by the shoulders, and took in her ragged appearance.

    “You’re safe! Are you okay?” Link asked.

    The girl, Zelda, nodded. “I’m fine, but Lila… Oh Link, so much has happened!”

    Link said, “I know about Lila. Let me introduce you to Zale, prince of this time.” He gestured to Zale, who was off of his horse to greet Zelda.

    “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Zale said to his reflection. “Sorry to rush, but, did you say you’ve met Lila?”

    Zelda nodded again and said, “She was taken! She negotiated my release, but they tricked her! You have to save her!” The last she said to Link.

    Zale felt the blood drain from his face. “Who took her? Where?” Panic raced through Zale’s body. He’d almost lost her once, and now she was in danger again–without being fully healed, no less! He couldn’t lose someone else. She had to be okay, You promised, he thought.

    “Bulblins,” Zelda replied, practically in tears. “I think they went east, but I’m so lost in these woods.”

    “Don’t worry,” Link comforted her, “we’ll find her. Can you show me where they took her?”

    Zelda spread her arms. “Here. I didn’t want to get lost, so I waited here.”

    Link said, “Good. I should be able to track them.” He examined the ground, and, despite the early morning light, he was able to discern what direction they were headed. “You’re right, Zelda, they went east. You can ride my horse. Zale, can you take her back to the castle?”

    “I’ll be fine,” Zelda protested. “Let’s find Lila first.”

    Link nodded as she mounted the horse. “Okay. Let’s get moving, then. We don’t know how far we have to go.”

    Zale also mounted his horse. Then he looked down at Link and said, “Thank you.”

    Link replied, “Don’t thank me yet.”

    The Legend of Zelda: Real Courage :grinning:

    The battle for good and evil rages in Lila’s heart. What does courage mean, she wonders as she fights her way through various monster-filled dungeons. Was she really born to be a hero, or did the prince of Hyrule place his faith in the wrong person?