Broken Mirror: Chapter 50
MORNING light came fitful through the windowpane, clogged by snow; it had been falling without cease for most of the night. In the grate, the fire had burned down to gray ash. The room smelled stuffily of cinders and spent candle-wax. The air was stale, but still cold.
Sitting at the writing-desk, Zelda yawned hugely, and rubbed her eyes; they felt tired and heavy from too much reading in poor light. She had not meant to stay up all night, but her studies had been so engrossing that she had been unable to sleep.
The book lay open beside a spent candle-stub, battered and innocuous: a small sheaf of yellowed pages between slightly mildewed leather covers. She sat quite still for a while, thinking of many things, and then reached out and took it into her hands. The dusty ragged-edged pages rustled through her fingers like autumn leaves. Vellum, not paper--and poor quality vellum at that, for there were holes here and there that had been carefully written around. And yet someone had thought the story worth telling; had written it down, in fact, on whatever scraps had come to hand in a troubled time. How far did it date back? To the Imprisoning War? Further?
She opened the book and looked again at the title. The hand was an archaic one, but still a new addition: the page was lighter in colour, less worn. When she turned the page, her eyes met a block of dense close-written text, crammed in from margin to margin. There was no illumination, aside from an occasional large capital to show where something ended or began.
"Where did you get this?" she had said, staring down at the small volume in her hands. "'The Ocarina of Time'... but I've never seen this book before!" The others crowded around, their food forgotten in the excitement of the moment.
"What is it?" Sofia asked, leaning on her shoulder to peer at the cramped script. "What a mess! What does it say?"
"It's hard. Let me have some light!" She wriggled away from them and laid the book out carefully in the light of the big table candelabra. "It's definitely Ancient Hylian, but... it's all so close together... all right, let me see. Dark, have you read any of this?"
"I... a little." The shadow stood a few paces away, twisting his hands nervously. "But I did not want... I thought it better in your hands. The medallions are mentioned."
"They are?" Her eyes widened. "I have to read this. Now." With some care she closed the book and cradled it carefully in her hands. "Please excuse me, everyone."
She went back to her own room, lit a candle against the swirling snow, and read the whole thing from cover to cover, burying herself in the ancient prose. She devoured it. She lost herself in the mystic quest of the Hero of Time, in a story that few now could tell with any accuracy. She learned the character of the boy from the forest. She walked with him on that far-off ancient road, guided by the fairy Navi; at his side she learned the secret of the Stones, and that greatest treasure of the Hyrulian Royal Family, now lost to history: the Ocarina of Time.
And then she came to the second half of the book, and that was all new to her. Her hands shook and her breath quickened. None had ever known what happened to the Hero of Time after his defeat of Ganon; he passed out of history as mysteriously as he had come. But here, in this book, there had been a land called Termina and a moon that fell.
There was no land called Termina.
There was Hyrule. In the north there was Lotharia, in the south and east Calatia and Sosaria, to the west the land of the Gerudo. Somewhere in the far sea, if rumour was to be believed, was the mythic isle of Koholint, that mariners believed was nothing more than a dream. And beyond, perhaps, far beyond, was another land; the land whence the Gerudo had sailed, back in the dawn of history; but if it were true, that land was far out of their reach.
There was no land called Termina, and no fallen moon.
What did this mean?
Last night she had left a piece of ribbon between two pages as a bookmark; now, she turned to it and, translating mentally, read again a passage that had caught her eye.
The power of the Sages remains. When the power of all the Sages is awakened... The Sages' Seals will contain all the evil power in the void of the Realm...
Pages flicked through her fingers.
The strength of the Triforce of Power enabled him to become a mighty, evil king, but his dark ambitions were not satisfied...
...look for the five temples and awaken the five Sages...
...he crept away from the land that had made him a legend...
...three from this land, and three from the land of the fallen moon, who journeyed with him in the seven years. And the medallions were given into their keeping, as a favour from the Sages.
Zelda shoved her chair back, stood, and got the Gerudo map down from a high shelf. Carefully she spread it out on the sloping surface of the desk. "Link First," she muttered, laying a finger lightly on the mark for the Forest Temple. "The Knight of Fire, and the Fire Amulet. Here." Death Mountain pass. "And then..." Water would lie at Lake Hylia, surely, but she had no idea whether the Knight of Water would have been Hylian or... or Terminese. Oh, why had they not written down the names?
Her gaze settled once more on the mark of the Temple of Time. "Not Forest, Fire or Water... Not Spirit, if Spirit was Gerudo..." No Gerudo had ever been laid to rest in Hyrule Town, to her knowledge--and certainly not so shortly after the events of those seven infamous years. "So it would have to be Light, or Shadow... The Shadow Knight?" She felt a flash of instinctive unease at the name, remembering the warnings in the Book of Mudora. "But who was he..?"
The chronicle was no help; she had already looked up the entries for the Seven Dark Years, right at the start of the quest. The historical annals, normally so conscientous, failed at this point in time. 1496 - Inne thissum yeare did Kyng Hyrule VII most sorwefully pass on, and was crownéd Ganondorf Dragmire, Ganon I... That was all that was written, and there were no more chronicle entries until 1504, when Queen Zelda I was crowned amid grete rejoycing.
She sat with the book for a while longer, leafing through but not really reading anything. The task ahead seemed hopeless. Someone was going to have to go down to the Temple of Time to go through the ledgers. In those huge old books were written the names of all who had ever lain in the cemetery: a life for every box of bones that lay within the cavernous crypt. It was a long shot, but she could see no other way to begin the search--not without a name. At the least, they could narrow it down a little with the dates.
By the light, it was somewhere around midmorning. Zelda changed into clean clothes, splashed a little water on her face to wake herself up, and then left the room in search of her friends.
Half an hour later, two figures swathed against the cold quitted the main gate. It was bitter out with blizzard winds, and she had wondered if she could persuade anyone else to go. To her surprise, and despite the cold, Dark had volunteered.
They walked into town, rather than trust the feet of the horses to the treacherous ice. Zelda huddled in her cloak against the savage wind. Her hair, still growing out after the battle with Kurgh, whipped about and tugged and became crystallised with ice. She wore the warmest clothes she owned: a woollen undershirt and two pairs of hose, a thick tunic, gloves and a scarf beneath a heavy wool cloak; but even so she shivered. The wind seemed to find its way straight through the thick weave to her skin beneath. To think that she had laughed to see snow on the ground in Kakariko! "Nayru's Love," she said through chattering teeth. "I wish it was spring!"
"I also," Dark said; he had his head down against the wind and was struggling to hang on to his cloak. He glanced at her through frosted hair. "I swear that Hyrule did not used to be this cold!"
"Well, thank you for coming," Zelda answered. "Especially on such an awful day."
"I know not what help I shall be..."
"You can read the Ancient Hylian script, at least," she said, smiling at him. "Nobody else can, aside from me!"
"I am no scholar," he said.
Zelda knew she was pushing her luck, but she could not help asking. "Could the Hero of Time write?" she asked. "I mean no offence; I know that things were different in those days."
He looked at her for a moment, and then smiled suddenly, flashing his teeth. "No," he said. "He could puzzle out a few letters, enough to decipher road signs or read a map, but he never touched a pen in his life. I have had to learn."
Then Link First could not have written that book, Zelda thought. She had wondered about it; it seemed so accurate, so detailed. Whoever had written it had had inside information about the First Quest, information that she had never seen before. Perhaps it had been the work of the Prophet Princess; it was said that Zelda First had written a great deal, although nothing of hers had come down to posterity. Or so it was believed. "Dark?" she said after a while. "Have you ever been to Termina?"
There was a pause, slightly too long, and then he said casually, "Termina?"
"You know the name, don't you?" she said.
He looked ahead, into the whirling snow. They were approaching White Dragon Gate now, and there was no sign of any guards; perhaps they had taken refuge in the guardhouse beneath the gate. Dark was quiet until they had passed through the gate, and then he said, "In all my wanderings, I have never come across a land called Termina."
"How did you know it was a land?" Zelda asked.
"Do you suspect me of concealing something? Yes; the name is familiar. No; I know not why it should be so. I have never been there, and nor have I heard any other tell of it. Ganon knows it not. There is no land called Termina in all this great continent."
"And yet it is in the book," she said quietly, thoughtfully.
A strange look crossed his face--not surprised, exactly, but disturbed, uncomfortable. "I did not read that far," he said, his voice quite calm and apparently unconcerned.
She let that sink in for a moment, and then asked, "What happened to the Hero of Time after he saved Hyrule?"
He looked at her as if she were mad. "He wed Malon, daughter of Talon, and when she died he returned to the forest whence he came. It is in every history book."
"I don't mean that." Zelda looked at him evenly. "The Prophet Princess sent him back in time to relive the seven years that he had lost. But he would have gone back to a time when Ganon ruled Hyrule. Did he go into hiding until the world was saved by his former self? That seems unlikely for so great a hero! So the question historians have always asked is--what did he do with those seven years?"
"I know not," Dark said. "Why ask me? I did not exist then; I did not live through the Dark Years."
"I just think it may be important. We know so little about the first Knighthood--not even their names. Who were these people? How did he meet them? Where did they come from?"
"Those are questions I cannot answer," he said.
They walked on in silence for a while. The going became easier once they were off the exposed castle road; the city streets went some way to shield them from the wind and snow. At least it was not difficult to find the Temple of Time; it rose up above everything else like a man-built mountain, a great hill of sharp-edged stone. As they passed through the wrought iron gates, the bell began to ring again, tolling out the hour. Zelda counted: midday. She would not have believed it from the dead gray sky.
The Temple was deserted, save for a single brown-robed figure sweeping quietly near the altar. As they approached, the monk looked up and bowed without a sign of surprise. He was an old man, his back bent; his eyes were cool dark wells of night. He set down his broom and motioned to them to follow.
Zelda glanced up into the dusty rafters. The Temple was known to her, of course; she had been here many times with her father; yet every time she came she was awed anew at the silent weight of history within these stones. The Temple of Time was old in a way that even Hyrule Castle was not. The ancient walls had soaked up so many voices over the centuries that they seemed to resonate with a distant voice of their own, a memory of long-lost songs in praise of the Three. It had been a holy place long before the town was built; there had been a pagan shrine, a standing stone upon a hill. The stone indeed still stood in the cemetery behind the temple, eleven feet tall, ancient and mysterious, carved with swirls and spirals like the rolled leaves of a fern.
Behind the altar a tall passageway was roped off. This led, she knew, into the chapel, where according to legend the Sword of Evil's Bane had once rested, embedded in a pedestal of white marble. Now the chamber was filled with wooden pews; it was used for certain services in honour of Nayru. She glanced at Dark, wondering if he had his own memories of this place, but he seemed unmoved as he looked around.
They did not go up into the chapel; they followed the monk through a small wooden door into the vestry, where the choir kept their robes and songbooks. This too was deserted, and felt oddly ordinary after the majesty of the temple: it was nothing more than a small dull whitewashed room, full of dust, with a rickety wooden table and three stacked piles of chairs against one wall. The high arched windows were thick with cobwebs.
The monk bowed and left them here. In another moment, a further door opened. The man who stood there was the abbot of the Temple; Zelda recognised his gentle elderly features, and the long white sweep of his hair. He too wore the coarse brown robes of a monk, girdled at the waist with a hempen rope. From that belt hung a small sickle knife. His name was Sahasrahla and for nearly two hundred years he had been the caretaker of the Temple.
"Your Highness," he said, and bowed. "It is a pleasure to see you here."
"Thank you, Master Sage," she replied, attempting a curtsey--which did not work too well, given that she was wearing a man's tunic.
"Too many people nowadays lack respect for the gifts of the Goddesses," Sahasrahla said. "We don't get many visitors outside of services. What is it I can do for you? Would you like to walk round?"
Zelda glanced at Dark; he looked back steadily, waiting for her to speak. "Master Sage," she said, turning back to the old priest, "we have a favour to ask. We would like to see the ledgers in the crypt."
"Why is that?"
"We are looking for a particular person," she said, "who would have died sometime towards the end of the Age of Legends. We are not sure exactly who he is, but we know that he was buried here."
"But there would be thousands of names to go through," Sahasrahla said, frowning. "Even in a ten year period; and I am not sure if our records even go that far back."
"This person would have been a great name of his day," Dark said. "He would have been friends with the Hero of Time and would likely have been buried with full honours."
The abbot looked for a long time at the shadow, and his white brows drew together and shadowed his eyes. Finally, he said, "Well, I will take you down, and you can have a look for yourselves. But I can't say that I am too hopeful of your finding what it is you seek. Especially if you don't know exactly what you're looking for."
An hour later, Zelda was feeling inclined to agree. The vast crypt beneath the Temple was the last resting place of those who died in Hyrule City; the cellars extended for a long way beneath the city, and they were full of bones. There were shelves of skulls, ribs, thighs; boxes full of dislocated hands. It was deeply unsettling. A whole army of Stalfos lay beneath the city, awaiting only the call of dark magic to animate their long-dead bones.
The ledgers were stored in a windowless stone room adjoining the crypt: dozens of vast, dusty books that needed two hands to lift them. There was one wobbly wooden table and a pair of uncomfortable stacking chairs, of the same type as had been piled in the vestry. She and Dark staggered back and forth from shelf to table, leafed through page after page, squinting in the poor torchlight at the ranks of ancient dead, the names written in a hundred different hands. The books were yellowed, faded, full of dirt and dead spiders. They both grew filthy with gray dust.
"This is hopeless," he said at last. He bent his head and ran his dusty fingers through his hair, coating it by accident with pale gray streaks. When he looked up at her, there was a pale smudge on his black cheek. "The old man was right. We do not even know what it is we look for. How will we know if we find it?"
"It must be here," she said, and sighed. "Although I am losing hope. There are so many!"
"It seems the thing Hylians do most often is die," Dark said with a humourless little smile.
Zelda shivered at that, thinking that every name in the books meant a pile of bones in the cellar. "That's morbid," she said. "And I am sure it is not true either. We only die once in our lives."
"Speak for yourself," he muttered, bending his head to the page before him.
She turned a page, scanning down automatically now. When she reached the bottom she realised that she had not read a single name; she sighed deeply and went back to the top, tracing each name with her finger as she tried to force herself to take it in. Her head felt woolly and full now; it was hard to concentrate at all.
...Kueli, Teto, b. Apr 7 1499, d. Jun 12 1512
Kueli, Somi, b. Dec 11 1472, d. Jun 12 1512
Llyr, Makar, b. Jun 30 1491, d. Jun 12 1512
Huw, Toran, b. Nov 8 1460, d. Jun 13 1512
Dotour, Kafei, b. Sept 1 1459, d. Jun 15 1512...
Dotour, Kafei, b. Sept 1 1459, d. Jun 15 1512...
"Dark?" she said, lifting her head.
They pieced it together back in the Castle library, all four of them. They scoured the First Quest text and cross-referenced it to the few hints about the Knighthood in the Book of Mudora, and then dragged out other books, other histories, and went through those in search of that elusive name.
Kafei was of the Sheikah race; or at least, the First Quest text gave him the ruby-red Sheikah eyes. Released by the Hero of Time from an enchantment laid upon him, he had become friends with Link First. He and the Hero had had strangely parallel experiences; Link First had been a child trapped in a man's body, and Kafei had lived for a while as a man in the body of a child. They traveled together; they were comrades, blood brothers. Eventually, when each had grown once more into his full strength, they returned together to Hyrule.
Kafei Dotour had been one of the original Knights... the first, other than Link First, whose name and story they had learned for certain; but the revelation had been a disappointment. "We found his casket," Zelda said, sitting back in her chair. "We even opened it--and I hope he will forgive us for that, wherever he is now. It was empty."
"Empty?" Link said, frowning. "What do you mean, empty? No bones?"
"No bones." She sighed. "I had hoped... I thought perhaps the Amulet he bore would have been laid with him. But now... well, I don't pretend to understand. The entry in the ledger is clear, and the casket was definitely his--the carvings bore his name. But when we opened it, there was nothing inside."
Sofia was sitting over an atlas of the continent; she looked up now, a concerned look upon her face. "Do you suppose someone raided the tomb? Have we been beaten to it?"
"If so," Dark said, "it was a very long time ago. The dust was thick upon everything. But it is a long time since he died; a long time even to me. Anything could have happened in those intervening years."
"Anyway, why take the body?" Link said practically.
Zelda covered her eyes for a moment and leaned back in her chair. "The thing is," she said after a moment, "we don't actually know how he died. The ledgers don't give us that. Perhaps--for whatever reason--his body could not be recovered for burial, but they still gave him a tomb to honour his memory. Such things have been done before. But what happened to the Shadow Amulet in that case is anybody's guess."
"Then we will have to find out how this Kafei died," Sofia said. "Dark, I don't suppose... Did you know him?"
He looked at her for a moment. "I had never heard his name before this day," he said quietly. "I know nothing of this man, nor of the land whence he is supposed to have come. Termina! Perhaps it is not even within this world; certainly we still have our moon!"
"Dotour is certainly not a Hylian name," Zelda said thoughtfully. She sighed then. "Oh, I have no idea what it means. Maybe this is a dead end after all."
Dark closed his book with a snap. "Then let us try Lake Hylia, as I suggested earlier," he said. "I am tired of staring into books! Perhaps we will have more luck in the field."
"Well, we can't go until the snow melts," Link said.
Hyrule seemed to settle into winter during the next few days; there was not much more snow, but it grew no warmer, and every morning there were icy ferns on the windowpanes. Gradually the roads appeared out of the snow, which retreated before a small army of shovels; piles of the stuff were heaped up against every wall, and the city streets became treacherous and full of dirty slush. It was an unpleasant time to be abroad, and for the most part people stayed within. At the Castle they grew irritable and frustrated with their confinement. Link wanted to shoot or to practice with his sword, and became doubly annoyed at the biting weather and the constricting cast on his arm.
They talked, when they could be sure that they were not overheard, about Dark. Even Sofia could not deny that there was a change in him now. He was around more, and seemed more comfortable in their company; he would smile and even laugh at times; but there was an oddly melancholy look in his face that had not been there before.
On the morning of one particularly awful day, with blizzard winds rattling the panes, Zelda ascended the long winding stair to the tower room. The door at the top stood ajar; she knocked twice, waited, then pushed it open.
It never ceased to surprise her how unlived-in the tower room always looked. She was often in Link's room, or Sofia's, and though they were similar to her own, with the same furniture in the same places, a scatter of personal possessions, a slight untidiness here and there, revealed the inhabitant's personality at work. Dark's room was sterile. The few borrowed things on the dresser were still laid out in the way they had originally been; there had been no additions. A casual visitor would have thought it a guest room in need of a guest.
"Hello," she said.
He had been sitting quietly by the window, his hands resting in his lap; he turned his head as she entered, but made no other reaction.
She lingered in the doorway, waiting for an invitation. None came. "Can I come in?" she said at last.
He made a small movement with his right hand. Taking it as a gesture of permission, she crossed the room and sat down on the bed--feeling almost ashamed at being the first one to wrinkle the coverlet. "So... we are having dinner tonight. All of us. For the gift-giving."
He was looking at her. Waiting.
"Will you come?"
"It's Galdenor, isn't it?" she said, leaning back and crossing her legs. "Talk to me."
A painful silence. Finally, forced to it, he stood and rested on the windowsill, looking out through the snow-clogged glass. "He... disturbs me, Zelda." There was something like shame in the tone. "There is something... I... do not..."
"You don't trust him?"
"It is myself I do not trust, around him." Now he turned to face her. She looked into his eyes and sighed at what she saw there.
"Dark, we won't force you to come if you don't want to. Just as long as you don't feel... lonely, on your own."
He smiled faintly. She smiled back, glad to see even that much, then felt in the pocket of her tunic and brought out a small wrapped packet. "Anyway, I think you do have some gifts coming... I'll give you mine now, if you'd rather not come tonight."
Dark's eyes widened; he looked startled, even alarmed. "I... I did not..."
"I know. Don't worry about it." She held out the packet. "It's just a little thing; a trinket, really. You aren't easy to buy gifts for."
Hesitantly he reached out and took the little packet. His fingers moved over the cloth wrapping, smoothing out a wrinkle. The folds opened out, and he tipped the thing into the palm of his hand: an embroidered ribbon. Zelda watched his face intently, waiting for a reaction. It had taken her a long time to find it in the seamstress's shop; and then Link had scoffed, thinking it a strange sort of gift. He had a point, really. But something had just felt right about it.
The band was of green silk, stiffly embroidered with thread that gleamed jewel-bright in the slightly gloomy room. The whole was ten inches long and less than an inch wide; yet in that tiny space was a forest, green and verdant, hung with shimmering vines and spotted with flowers. There were deer the size of a thumbnail in the tiny trees, and a rust-coloured fox curled minutely beneath a bush.
He ran it slowly through his fingers, feeling the texture of it. "Did you... make..?"
She laughed. "No! No... I am notoriously awful at needlework. Perhaps it would have been better to make something myself, but... no. I bought it from a woman in town. I hope it's all right." A pause; an awkward silence. "You could tie your hair back with it; it would look nicer than that old bit of leather."
Dark made no response: he was still looking at the ribbon. She started to feel rather silly, and stood up to cover her embarassment. "Well, I think I should go and change."
"Yes." Preoccupied. Then he lifted his head and looked at her, his expression as unreadable as ever. "...Thank you."
"You're welcome," she said, smiling, and slipped out of the room. Her smile faded as the wooden door swung closed behind her; she started back down the long stair, feeling unaccountably sad.
He wasn't expecting anything at all...
Yule came and went, with all its accompanying glamour, and left them cooped up like pigeons in the castle while the winter raged outside. There were days when there was nothing to be seen but snow whirling outside the windows; firewood began to run low, and for a while unspoken in everybody's eyes was the dark spectre of hunger; but the town was warm and well stocked and that fear passed soon enough.
On one dull winter afternoon they came together for company in Link's room, having dragged extra chairs in from their own chambers. Galdenor sat and shivered at the desk as he worked his way through a stack of papers; Zelda talked quiet nothings with Link and Sofia, until they finally ran out of words, and then she took a chair over to the window and busied herself with a book. It was not yet five but they had already had to light candles against the dark; the room was cosy with the soft golden glow of flame.
Dark had not joined them this time. Zelda had not pressed the matter with him.
The candle she was reading by had burned low and formed a wax pool; now it began to gutter wildly. Her concentration broken by the flickering shadows, she yawned and laid the book to one side, then glanced about. Link was dozing on the bed; Sofia sat looking into the fire with Prowl stretched at her feet. A small carved table stood nearby, laid with the pieces of an abandoned chess game. The board did not tempt her: they had all played many games with it in the last few days.
A log, settling in the fire, cracked loudly. Link stirred at the sound, then sat up sleepily and rubbed at his eyes with the back of his left hand. "What time is it?" he said.
"Around five, I think," Sofia told him.
"In other words," Zelda added mischieviously, "not dinnertime."
"Ugh." He flopped back down and covered his face with his arm. "I'm tired of winter," he complained, his voice slightly muffled. "And I'm tired of sitting around indoors. I wish it would hurry up and be spring!"
Galdenor swung his chair round so that he was facing them. "That reminds me," he said solemnly. "I have something I need to tell you. I was discussing this with the King earlier today; next week, I think, I am going to leave you--as long as the weather permits. It has been wonderful staying here, but I have to get back to Gaelaidh." Their faces had fallen at that speech. "I would stay longer if I could," he said, "but there is too much to be done at home."
"We'll miss you, Galdenor," Zelda said.
He smiled at that. "I'm flattered! I would like to come back again, perhaps in summer for your Awakening festival... but we will have to see about that nearer the time."
"Maybe we should visit you instead," Link said, grinning.
Sofia brightened at this; Zelda saw it, and had an idea. "Galdenor?" she said. "What if we went with you, at least part of the way? We need to be leaving Hyrule City soon anyway; we have to travel down to Lake Hylia. There is no reason we couldn't take the western road for a while, and next week is as good a time as any for us to go."
"I have no objections," Galdenor said. He slipped his arm around Sofia's shoulders and held her close. "What say you, little sister?"
She smiled up at him. "It will still be hard to part with you, brother... but why not? I say let's do it."
"It's settled then!" Link said boldly.
They began to talk with animation of the things that needed doing: there were horses to ready, things to pack, supplies to buy. After so many long days shut up within the castle, everyone was enthusiastic to be moving. Zelda listened to Link as he made out a long list of equipment, and wondered where they would find the packhorses to carry it all, if he had his way.
Suddenly she realised that someone was not as eager for the departure. Sofia was sitting quietly now, listening as Link and Galdenor excitedly laid their plans. Her attention was upon her brother. Though she was smiling still, the expression seemed contrived; her eyes told a different story.
Here endeth Broken Mirror...
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