The Garden of Farore: Chapter Twenty-Four

SHAKEN by their encounter with the banshee, Link, Zelda and Diomedes were silent as they walked toward the door in the great room. Even the cheerful Stalfos soldier seemed depressed somehow; he said nothing but trudged along beside them with his bent javelin dangling loosely at his side. Prowl had been terrified by the banshee's appearance, and it had taken Link a while to calm her down enough for her to be caught; he carried her now, clutched against his chest like an infant. His brown shirtsleeves were torn where she had scratched and struggled.

Zelda held the map out in front of her, charting their progress through the Temple so far. There were several large rooms marked on the map, and after being turned around so much, she was unsure exactly where they were; she could only hope that a more distinctive feature would appear. She paused before climbing up onto the ledge, and checked the map once again. The great subterranean room with its skull motif looked like something dangerous.

The white arrow felt like a lead weight tied beneath her leather jerkin; she wanted it closer to her than the protection that her quiver would afford. More and more now, she was convinced that it had belonged to the Hero of Time. It was a good omen; if the legendary Link First could somehow help them from beyond the grave, their quest would be greatly advantaged. The Princess smiled slightly and glanced at Diomedes. Before they had entered the temple, she would not have believed that even Link First's influence could transcend death; now, faced with a genuine "undead" monster--and a good one--she was rethinking her attitudes. She slipped her hand into her pocket, felt the cool shaft of the arrow, and was reassured.

Diomedes tried the door, and it opened easily as if it had never been locked. The torch nearby shone brightly, burning with a flame that did not consume or destroy. Zelda reached out her hand towards its green light and found that, although it was warm, it did not seem to burn her. She smiled, liking the gentle radiance.

"Milady?" Diomedes said hopefully. "We ought to be getting on, yer know..."

"Sorry," Zelda sighed, and took her hand away from the torch. She stepped up to the door and looked through, wondering where they had come to next; she took an unbelieving step through, staring around with wide eyes, and then spat out an oath that turned the air blue. Link stared at her.

"Zelda, are you okay?" he asked shakily, astonished that the Princess Royal could have command of such language.

Zelda glared at the big hallway as if it had personally offended her. "No, I'm not!" she snapped. "Look--Diomedes, look! We are right back where we started!"

Indeed, they had ended up, somehow or other, back at the great octagonal hallway. The dusty walls rose out of sight into the shadowy reaches of the roof; there on the floor before them was the rusted remains of Diomedes' ancient discarded sword. They had come through one of the high doors that they had previously been unable to reach from the ground. Zelda was so irritated with her mapreading skills that it took her a few minutes to notice the difference in the room, but when it came she almost forgot her anger in amazement. A soft, aquatic blue-green light bathed the room, illuminating hitherto hidden features of the ancient stonework; the steady glow came from the torches that she had previously noticed in the center of the room. Two of them were alight, burning softly and without sound; one with the emerald radiance of the banshee's torch, the other with a gentle cerulean blue.

"What does it mean?" Zelda murmured, holding onto the rail that separated the high ledge from the floor of the chamber. She stared down at the golden torches with their colored flames, unable to understand what sort of magic had relit them. A moment's reflection reminded her of how the torch in the banshee's room had re-lit itself, and she frowned. "Is this linked to the unquiet spirit in that room?"

Diomedes let out a thoughtful 'h'm!', considering. "Perhaps, milady," he said. "Those torches could be linked to the ghost somehow--or she's got an evil spell on this place that we broke when we killed her. But that'd only explain one torch--if there's another one lit too..."

"Someone else killed a banshee," Zelda said slowly, realizing. "Dark and Sofia!"

"What are you talking about?" Link asked, confused. He had never seen the room before, the Princess remembered; he would not understand the riddle of the torches. She took him in hand, drawing him to the railing, and then explained about the darkened state of the room when she had first woken in it, and the identical torch in the banshee's room. Link listened intently, nodding; the idea made sense to him, as he had often come across such puzzles during his previous quest. "So," he said when she had done, following through with her idea, "if these torches are linked to the power of the ghosts, we have to kill the ghosts?"

"And light the torches, yes," Zelda agreed. "Two have been lit already, so we only have two to go. And now we have the secret to defeating them!"

"If the arrow works again," Diomedes pointed out practically. "Y'never know, milady, might've been a one-off. There's nothing to say that those things are reusable."

The Princess shrugged; there was nothing she could do about that until they came up against another banshee; then, she would have to see. Even if the arrow did not work again, they would be prepared to defeat the ghosts with flame now that they knew their weakness; both she and Link had the means to make fire stowed away in their packs. She looked over the edge of the stone rail, judging the distance down onto the floor of the hall. "We could jump down here, but then we have to get out another way. Link, do you have a rope and grappling hook in that bag of yours?"

He nodded, grinning. "Of course--it's part of my usual gear. Never leave home without it!"

"Then we can exit via that other door," Zelda said, pointing to the second door that lay behind a high wall. "We will climb up the rope and get out that way. We have to find the third and fourth ghosts--then, I imagine, the puzzle will unlock itself for us. The key to the Amulet is destroying the evil spirits that infect the place--the Temple itself is dedicated to Farore, and it intends us no harm."

"Well then!" Diomedes said cheerfully. "Let's get going, what!" Without waiting for their reply, he grasped the rail and vaulted over it, landing gracefully crouched on the ground below. He looked up, lifting his hand in a salute, and waved at them. "Need a hand down, milady?"

Zelda smiled. "No, I'm fine, thanks." More carefully than Diomedes, she climbed over the rail and then let herself down until she was hanging by her arms. It was only a short drop--two or three feet--to hit the ground, and she let go and landed with an impact that jarred her knees. Wincing slightly, she straightened up and then dusted off her hands. Prowl clung to Link's shirt as he followed suit, sliding off the ledge in the same manner as the Princess. Once on solid ground, he sighed happily and began to go through his belongings in search of the grappling hook. Zelda smoothed back her blonde hair and re-tied it, catching the locks that had gone astray during the banshee fight and her sojourn through the Temple's upper levels. The torches a few feet away drew her interest, and she went over to examine them, seeing for the first time that the stylized floral design held a pattern within it that could have been writing. She made out some familiar runes from Ancient Hylian, but she did not have the time to study more than a few letters before Link and Diomedes called her over.

It was a simple matter to stretch the rope between their two levels, and it only took two tries for Link to latch the hook onto the rail of the second high ledge. He tugged on it, making sure that the rope was secure, and then shinned up it with swift agility. Diomedes followed, and then Zelda. The door was unlocked and even broken in--the first that they had seen thus. It hung drunkenly on one hinge, wide enough to let them see the corridor beyond, which was dank-smelling and thick with spiderwebs. Zelda grimaced--she disliked spiders for their long creeping legs and evil little eyes.

Without having to be asked, Diomedes took the lead, tearing down swathes of cobwebs as he progressed through the passage. Things skittered in the webbed-up corners, small things with lots of legs. Link drew his dagger and followed the Stalfos in, cutting away the thick, silky strands that drifted too close to him. There was little light within save the torch reflections that shone faint through the open door; the natural luminescence of the stones seemed absent here, as if perhaps the spiders' work had dulled it. Zelda stepped through, ducking through the doorway with a shiver at the webs that crept into her golden hair. It took them several minutes to clear a way through the passageway and find the door at the other end; at least the state of this corridor showed that nothing hostile had gone before them. Diomedes pulled great thick sheets of web away from the door, baring its dulled wood; the latch was rusted, but still intact, and it took both he and Link to pull the portal open. It grated open on the floor; the wood was warped and no longer sat neatly in the frame.

They found themselves in a small, L-shaped room with a very high ceiling. Ahead, a ledge that was about six feet high offered the only way up and through to another passageway; the ladder that had once been there was rotted right through, and dissolved in a cloud of wood dust when Diomedes touched it. With an unspoken accord the three companions moved to tackle the obstacle, Diomedes giving Link and Zelda a leg up and then being helped up himself by the Princess and the warrior. A similar climb brought them up off the ledge onto a higher platform, a walkway that went all around the room as well as back into the walls. Link explored the different recesses, finding that a heavy brownstone block had been set into the floor to provide another way up. "Why could these builders not use stairs like everybody else?" he complained, hauling Diomedes up by the wrist.

Zelda glanced out over the room they had come from, seeing from the higher elevation that a door was set eight feet up in the wall, behind a small recessed ledge. That, she realized, was the way she had gone with Diomedes the first time, though how she had done it she had no idea. She was getting more and more convinced that the Temple was changing its shape around them.

They rounded a corner, and then came face to face with a dead end. The ladder, as they had come to expect, was broken, and there was no way up the sheer face. Link sighed. "Now what?" he asked rhetorically, glancing hopefully at the others.

Frowning, Zelda consulted the map again. The ladder would have led them back up to the top floor, if the map was right--but on a different level. The idea of traversing the twisted corridors again gave her no pleasure, even if she could have guaranteed that they would end up somewhere where they had not already been. She attempted to follow the course of their path, noting the other large rooms they had not come to yet. "There may be a way around," she said for Diomedes' benefit, "if we can get up here. The map shows another door at the end of the twisted corridors; perhaps if we hit the switch again..."

"Oh, botheration!" Diomedes sighed. "It's a bally nuisance figuring out which way up you are at the end of it. You sure there's nowhere else to try first, milady?"

Zelda sighed, and was about to say something to the negative, but she was forestalled by a deafening crash of falling stone. Link, who had been leaning idly against the wall while they spoke, suddenly disappeared in a cloud of bricks and masonry dust. Letting out a shocked cry the Princess threw her hands up, covering her mouth against the choking dust and cobwebs. The sound died away, and light spilled into their alcove; a new passageway had opened up where the stone had simply given way. Link lay on his back amidst broken stones and bits of mortar; he was coated from head to toe in thick white dust like miller's flour. As Zelda watched, he coughed, sending clouds of dust into the air, and painfully sat up. He ran a hand selfconsciously through his hair, and grinned weakly at them both. Prowl, looking mortally offended, surfaced from beneath a pile of smaller stones, and shook herself vigorously.

"Or," Zelda modified, "we could try that way."



Dark Link paused, a thoughtful expression on his face, then he lifted his head and delicately sniffed the air, like a fox testing for the presence of prey. Sofia gave him a sideways look that spoke volumes about her opinion. Ignoring her, the shadow walked lightly down the steps into the hall, and stood before the golden torches looking up at their soft light.

"What?" Sofia asked impatiently.

He did not look at her, but remained before the torches, his head tilted back to examine them. "The Princess and the boy were here, only a short time ago," he said softly. Glancing back with a flash of crimson, he looked at her for a moment and then walked forward and around the four torches, viewing them from every angle. This examination complete, he stood back and regarded them from a distance, the fingers of one hand lightly brushing his chin in an unconscious gesture of thoughtfulness.

Sofia frowned; with a tiled floor and no tracks, she couldn't see how he would know of Zelda's previous presence unless-- She shivered with a strange mixture of excitement and revulsion. Surely he couldn't smell them out? She already knew that his senses were acute, but that idea seemed frankly unnatural. Wary she came down the steps, her hand resting always on the hilt of her scimitar.

Dark Link reached out and gently brushed the cool gold of the green-lit torch with his fingertips. Throwing back his hood despite the light, he leaned forward to examine the pattern of the artifact at close range. He was silent for a long time, reading across the pattern, then sighed softly and muttered, "Saria..."

"What?" Sofia glanced at him. The word sounded somehow familiar to her, although she could not place it--something from an old tale, perhaps. She frowned as she saw that he wasn't even listening to her--he was gazing at the torch with an ancient sadness in his crimson eyes. A moment later he seemed to recover from whatever fugue he had experienced, and shook his head in irritation. Stepping back he turned away from the torch, and looked around the hall.

"There," he hissed, seemingly returned to his old self, and pointed to one of the doors that were locked away behind high walls. Sofia looked up at it with misgivings, unable to see how they would reach it, or how the others would have done so.

"Are you sure?"

Dark Link glanced back at her, then unslung his satchel and produced the rope a third time. Swiftly and deftly he fastened the dagger to the rope's end, using it as a weight, then paid out two feet of the rope and walked over to the high door with the home-made grapnel swinging in his hand. Sofia watched silently as the shadow judged the distance, and then he swung the weighted rope around his head three times, and released it. The dagger and its trailing cord flew up to the rail, hit, and wound tight around it several times to finish with the dagger swinging madly as it dangled on a few spare inches of rope. Dark Link tugged on it--it was secure. Without once glancing back to Sofia, he took hold of the rope and went up swiftly, hand over hand. She reluctantly followed his example, reminding herself that if the Princess truly had been here, then Dark Link had the best chance--so it seemed--to find her.

They stood at the top, facing the door, and looking at the spiderwebbed corridor that had so obviously been cleared just a few minutes earlier. Sofia glowered at the broken cobwebs, knowing that if she looked at Dark he would have a smile of triumph on his face for being proved correct. Without waiting for him to say anything, she strode forward into the corridor, holding her ponytail tightly in one hand to prevent the spiders crawling upon it. Small things skittered about underfoot, and from the sticky surface of the passage floor she knew she had stepped on some of them. Ignoring the spiders she hurried to the door at the other end, and tried it. It opened easily onto another small room.

Bag repacked and dagger stowed away, Dark Link reappeared beside her in his customary soundless manner. Sofia just turned her head and glanced at him for a moment, unwilling to give him the satisfaction of startling her. "Well?" she said softly.

The shadow gazed thoughtfully at the room, a serious expression on his face. "Ah..." he said, in a tone of satisfaction. "Yes, now I know where we are, at least in part. I have come this way before... or perhaps my twin had; I am not sure. We must find our way up here--the puzzle was solved long ago, so that is one thing we do not have to worry about."

"What puzzle?" Sofia asked, irritated.

He glanced at her for a moment, then turned his attention back to the task in hand, walking lightly across the floor to the ledge which would offer them a way forward. "The great Temples were of old filled with traps and dangers to befuddle the unwary--the spirits would only let pass those who could solve the puzzles and defeat the traps. It is the oldest legend in the book--to reach a treasure, you must first prove yourself worthy."

"Courageous, wise and pure of heart," Sofia could not help adding meaningfully.

Dark looked back at her sharply with a flash of crimson; he was angry at the jibe, but it showed only in his smoldering eyes, not in the calm, unruffled tone of his voice. "Indeed," was all he said, and then he leaped up, caught the edge of the higher platform, and pulled himself up onto it.



"Oh no, another painting," Link gulped, looking uneasily at the picture hanging on the wall before them. Once again it was a woman's face; this time, aside from the long black hair and pale face, she had rich red-brown hazel eyes, flecked with gold. Despite the beautiful rendering of the colors, she looked as evil as her two sisters had done, and this time a faint, horrible smirk hung about on the lips of the portrait.

The collapse of the wall had revealed a whole new section of the Temple, it seemed; the three of them clambered over rubble to find themselves in another, unfamiliar room. It was constructed of the same ancient brickwork as the rest, but where it was on the map was a mystery. There was only one door--this stood in the wall to their left hand side, and it was an altogether more ornate work, gleaming with gold and ivory inlay. It was locked tight shut with a heavy iron padlock. The Princess glanced upwards and noticed a hole in the ceiling that could be a way up to further places, although it was anybody's guess how they would be able to reach such a lofty exit. Defeated for the moment, Zelda looked around the room itself, examining its features for the first time.

It was larger than the room with the tiles had been. The walls were once again bare of features, save for the great painting on the wall to their right. This time the painting hung above a raised dais, upon which was an altar of sorts--draped with white cloth, its top covered with an inch or more of dust. Something ancient and tattered lay upon the altar--something that had once been living, but was now mere dry, dusty bones and skin held together by the simple white gown it wore. Strands of rich black hair still clung to the desiccated woven stems of a flower-garland around the remnant's head. If it had not been so old and obviously dead, it might have been gruesome--as it was, there was simply something sad about it all. Yet once again there was the evil in the background, a throbbing impulse barely felt.

Zelda glanced at Link and Diomedes, and then at the map. This room was not marked; they had strayed off the confines of the map itself and were in what seemed to be a new part of the Temple. Slowly and hesitantly, ever aware of the possibility of danger, the three walked forward into the room. Although nothing moved, there was a definite chill in the air, the hint of danger. Prowl hissed suddenly, viciously, and leaped from Link's shoulder to run for the far wall, where she huddled beside the door with fur so fluffed-up that she looked like a puffball.

"Whoever she was, she died wearing a wedding dress," Zelda mused, realizing for the first time the nature of the simple white Calatian gown. "Or was put here wearing one--one or the other." Although dust covered the remains now, she could still see a dark dried splotch on the front of the gown; curious, she walked slowly towards the figure on the dais, wishing to see more. She had to stop several feet away; the cold, and the evil, intensified as she drew closer until she could stand it no longer. "Nayru," the Princess gasped, shivering, and backed away.

In that moment there was a soft scraping, the sound of foot on stone. It came from outside the room. All three of them were silent, staring towards the hole they had made in the wall; a moment later the noise came again. A soft, stealthy crunch. Something was coming down the corridor outside. With an unspoken accord Link and Diomedes tiptoed to the hole, and took up positions either side of it with serpentine dagger and battered javelin held at the ready. Zelda unslung her bow, drawing the white arrow from her pocket; if the banshee was trying to creep up on them unawares, she would get the surprise of her unlife.

A shadow fell across the doorway. Link's fingers tightened around the hilt of his serpentine dagger. Zelda tensed, and then with an icy shock she realized. "No!" she cried, even as the unknown figure made to step through the hole, and the dagger and javelin came whistling down. With an effort, Link and Diomedes managed to pull their attacks up short thanks to the Princess's forewarning. Sofia froze in the act of bending to step through the hole, faced with glittering weapons.

"Sofia!" Link gasped, shocked at the realization that he had almost killed their comrade. He sheathed the serpentine dagger quickly, a big smile on his face. "Are you okay?"

The Gerudo woman smiled and nodded, accepting his hand as she stepped through the gap. "Yes... I'm fine. Goddess!" That last came as she noticed Diomedes, but Zelda made quick to get between them and explain that the Stalfos, odd as it seemed, was a friend. Sofia nodded, staring at him with thinly disguised fear; unlike Link and Zelda, the first she had seen of Stalfos was in the desert a month or so ago.

"But--how could you know it was Sofia?" Link asked, finally managing to ask the question that had puzzled him.

Zelda smiled. "We heard the sound of footfalls, did we not?" The Princess laughed in her relief and thankfulness at being reunited. "The ghost had no feet, remember? Whoever we heard, it could not have been her!"

"A surprisingly intelligent observation," came the soft voice of Dark Link. All of them flinched and turned, not having noticed his silent entry into the room. He faced them all down with his hands on his slim hips and a look of careless disinterest in his crimson eyes. "We meet again, Folly," was all he said, with a glance towards Diomedes. "I hope I find you well?" The tone of amused sarcasm in his voice was not missed by the Stalfos general: Diomedes' fists tightened.

"Been a long time, eh?" Diomedes answered, affecting a light, matter-of-fact tone. "You certainly don't seem to have changed much."

Dark smiled sharply, eyes gleaming with sudden mischief. "Do not be so sure, old friend. You can teach an old dog new tricks."

Zelda looked from one to the other in concern, mistrusting the new, ironic tone in the shadow's voice. "We cannot afford to fight each other now," she said firmly, changing the subject. "I do not know where the banshee is--I expected to find one here when I saw the painting, but nothing seems to have happened yet. Now we are all together, we should be able to defeat her without too much of a struggle. But where is she? Is she afraid of us all?"

"Clever girl," Dark Link mused. "So you have solved the puzzle already? We must defeat the sisters and relight the torches in order to continue; that much is true. But," he turned towards the painting, "you missed the vital key. Something must first be done to call the ghost to us. Fire an arrow at that picture."

"What?" Zelda asked, surprised.

He glanced at her, irritated. "Shoot the picture. Defile her resting place. That will rouse the ghost's anger, and then she will appear."

Uneasily, Zelda drew a normal arrow from her quiver and set it to the bowstring, then aimed, drew and fired. The iron point of the arrow thunked into the canvas with a solid thud. For a moment there was silence, and then with a poisonous hiss the painting dissolved, leaving that familiar oil-stain on the wall. With a slam the temperature in the room dropped fifty degrees. A noxious blood-colored mist coalesced around the remains on the dais; the five watched nervously as a dreadful vermillion light erupted from the altar. With sudden, horrible ferocity, the banshee lunged out of the smoke towards them, her clawed hands outstretched. Zelda fumbled at the white arrow in shock, and it rolled away from her; with a cry she scrabbled after it.

The banshee's shriek sent them all to their knees, save Dark Link and Diomedes--the one prepared for it and so braced against her evil charm, the other simply immune. Diomedes slung his javelin at her, but the bent haft foiled his throw and the weapon spiraled away to clatter harmless on the floor. Once again the Stalfos seized the banshee's wrists and tried to hold her back by sheer force. He succeeded, at least momentarily, keeping the monster away from the others long enough to let Link regain his feet and draw the serpentine dagger. The young Hero crouched, ready to spring forward and attack the banshee, but slender black fingers had his arm and pushed it down. "No," Dark Link hissed at him. "These creatures cannot be hurt that way--they will freeze your sword arm."

"Then what?" Link asked, staring at the shadow. In answer, Dark Link drew Sofia's dagger from his belt and narrowed his eyes. Diomedes and the banshee were struggling violently, locked together in a macabre waltz as they swayed across the room, and the throw was not a clear one. With a hiss of frustration, Dark Link hurled the dagger; by luck or good judgement it missed Diomedes and slammed into the banshee's shoulder. She wailed, momentarily distracted by the impact, and Diomedes was able to force her backwards into the wall and pin her there, at least for a moment or two.

Zelda had the arrow; she nocked it to the bowstring, and once again the warm golden fire played up and down the shaft and on the string itself. Dark Link whipped round and stared at her, a look of absolute shock upon his face; Link heard the shadow's involuntary intake of breath. The Princess frowned, trying to aim a shot that would miss Diomedes and hit the banshee. "Diomedes, move!" she cried, warning him, and then let fly. The Stalfos dived out of the way and the arrow sped towards the banshee's chest, but she flickered to one side and the white bolt missed her by inches to clatter off the far wall instead. "NO!" Zelda exclaimed. This was not going the way she had hoped.

The banshee reached up absently and tore out the dagger which was still embedded in her otherworldly flesh. Diomedes' momentary absence had given her the breathing space which she needed; she screamed again, getting the distracted Dark Link this time. He hissed in pain, doubling up and falling to his knees.

Sofia was rummaging in her pack for fire-making tools; she remembered how Dark had defeated the banshee when they had fought it last. With a cry of triumph the Gerudo surfaced with the rag she used to clean her scimitar, and a tinder box; she grabbed Diomedes' fallen javelin and wound the cloth around its end, then struck a flame into the rags. Lifting the burning weapon, Sofia advanced on the banshee with a grim expression on her face. The creature saw her coming and screamed at her, bending the full force of her horrible power onto the Gerudo girl, but Sofia did not falter and kept right on coming. The foul talons reached out for her and the banshee moaned in triumph as Sofia came within her grasp; then, she slammed the burning javelin into the long-dead heart of the creature. A freezing blast threw Sofia back and down onto the ground; the banshee screamed her death-cry, and dissolved in a stinking cloud of fume. Diomedes' javelin clattered encrusted with ice on the stain where she had been.

The Gerudo was lying on her back, unmoving; her lips were blue and ice was encrused onto her clothes and skin. "Sofia!" Zelda gasped, dashing over to her in panic. They gathered around her as Link tried to chafe life back into her frozen hands. In a few minutes his work was rewarded as she moaned softly and opened her eyes, starting to shiver violently.

"Is... is she dead?"

"She is gone," Zelda agreed, smiling in relief at her friend's recovery. "Thank Nayru you're alive, Sofia--that was a brave thing you did!" She scowled then, angry with herself. "I should not have missed with that arrow; it was a clear shot..."

"Hardly," Link contradicted, helping Sofia to her feet. "You only had a split second, Zel--I could not have hoped to hit her with that small chance. Where's the arrow?"

Dark Link held it. He stood a few feet away from the others, gazing at the gleaming thing in his hands; against the blackness of his skin it looked whiter than before. His ebon hair hung over his face as he turned the arrow between his slim black fingers; there was a faraway expression on his face. Zelda stood up, brushing herself down, and walked over to him.

"His?" she asked softly. The stress on the word left none of them in doubt as to who the Princess meant.

Dark Link tore his attention away from the arrow in his hands, and glanced at her. "His," he agreed softly. "He used the same upon me, once, though Ganondorf's magic shielded me then from such weapons. It still holds a little of his ancient power--although you should be wary of using it, for the magic is depleted through use." He sighed, and handed the arrow to Zelda. "I did not think to see one of these again. You are full of surprises."

"I found it here," Zelda explained, "or Diomedes found it. How many times may we use it, then, before its power fails?"

Dark shrugged. "Who knows? Once perhaps, or a hundred times. Who can tell how much magic remains in it after so long? I would keep it safe, if I were you, and use it only when you have greatest need."

"I shall," Zelda promised, taking the arrow and slipping it into her quiver. "Now--we have killed three of the ghosts. What comes next?" The torch was shining again in its niche beside the door, previously unnoticed; it burned with a soft, warm red flame, like a jewel.

"We must return to the hall," Dark told her. "The fourth Poe Sister awaits us there, where she mourns for the passing of her sisters." He turned and regarded the torch for a moment, its red light kindling like sparks in his crimson eyes. "The torches of agate, jasper and garnet have been lit. Now there remains the greatest of the four, the amethyst--Joelle's light."

"Poe Sisters?" Link asked. "Joelle? They have names? You seem to know more about these ghosts than we do."

Dark Link nodded, a slight smile crossing his features. "Of course," he said lightly. "I know all that Link First learned of the Poe Sisters; he defeated them when he came to this place. It is a long tale, my friends, and a grim one. Perhaps you wish to hear it?"

Zelda glanced at the others, Sofia, Link and Diomedes; although none said anything, it was plain to see that curiosity ran high in them all. With a shrug the Princess turned her attention back to the shadow. "We are in no hurry," she said simply. "Please, if you would."



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