Zora's Ghost: Chapter 51

THE morning was bright, and clear; the first such that there had been for many days, and there was no freezing northern wind to chill the blood. The pale winter sun shone down on a changed world of black and white, chill and bright like the silver moon.

Galdenor stood in the courtyard, which had been swept clear of snow; he was wearing his warmest clothing, plus the thick fur cloak in which he had arrived, but he still shivered for all that. His head was bare and he smiled up at the sun, thinking of the heat of his desert home. It had been pleasant staying here and seeing his sister again, and the Hylian people had been nothing but kind, but all the same he would be glad to get back. This northern climate was too cold.

All around him was clatter and the clamour of hooves as his party made ready to depart. They brought away more than they had carried from Gaelaidh; he had given away the curved blades, the sacks of spices, the rolls of woven cloth, that he had brought as Yule gifts for the Hylian King, but Harkinian had repaid them in kind with Hylian goods: a pair of straight swords beautifully inlaid with precious metals, a set of gold and crystal cups in a wooden box lined with velvet, a gold-wire cage containing two pure white birds with fantastic curling tails. Quite apart from that there were two big wagons to be taken back, the one full of heavy oak timbers, the other laden with bars of steel; these were the first of many goods that would be exchanged between the Hylians and the Gerudo, the first heralds of trade between the peoples. Goddess knew how they would get them back to Gaelaidh without bogging down in sand.

A liveried page brought his horse, and he mounted, swinging himself into the saddle with practiced ease. He walked the horse around the courtyard, checking that things were going smoothly; the animal twitched and threw its head, clearly eager to be gone. The horses had been shut up for too long, like the people. Snow! he thought. A marvel and a wonder! But he would be glad to see the back of it.

"Hlæfdige Yamia," he said, reining in before one older Gerudo woman. "Are we set?"

She bowed and looked up at him. "We are, your Majesty."

"Tell everyone to mount up and move out. I want us to be off before the hour turns. We've got a long way to ride tonight."

"At once, your Majesty." Yamia bowed again and hurried off. Galdenor's horse shifted and kicked out at nothing; he leaned forward and patted it on the neck, murmuring quiet words to calm it. The long ears twitched up at the familiar sound of his voice and the horse settled somewhat. He didn't blame it for its nervousness this morning--his horse was not the only skittish animal in the courtyard, and he guessed well what was upsetting them. The desert-trained beasts didn't like the feel of the snow on their feet. There had been several upsets on the way here when the snow had first begun to fall.

"Galdenor! Hey, Galdenor!" He turned in the saddle at the sound of that voice, and grinned when he saw who it was. Zelda came trotting on a white horse, her bobbed hair gleaming like gold beneath the sun. She was warmly dressed and wrapped in a dark blue woollen cloak; her face was flushed with warmth. Galdenor envied her for that. "How are you?" she asked, smiling up at him.

"Cold," he said, "as ever. No wonder you Northerners are pale; this is the first time I have seen the sun since I came!"

"Come in summer, then," Zelda suggested. "Last year we had no rain for a month and the crops nearly failed."

"No rain for a month?" Galdenor said, laughing. "No rain for six months in Gaelaidh!"

Zelda turned serious for a moment. "We'll miss you," she said. "It's been good to have a sensible person around for a change. You even kept Link in line!"

"Where is he?" he asked. "Is he coming? You didn't seem sure last night."

"He'll be out in a minute," she told him. "He is annoyed about his arm; he wants the cast off."

"It must be frustrating to have your sword-arm plastered up and useless," Galdenor said.

"Well, the doctors say it is too soon, so that's the end of it." Zelda glanced back over her shoulder as more hooves rang out on the stones. Sofia appeared on her gray horse, followed by a cloaked and hooded figure on a lanky black: Dark, hiding once more from the sun. Behind them rode Link, looking glum. "There they are," she said unnecessarily, and waved. Sofia kicked her horse into a trot and came up bouncing in the saddle.



They rode out through the city, walking the horses gently on the slippery roads and going carefully with the rattling wagons. The main streets along their route had been shoveled clear and gritted last night, but there was still ice in patches, and it paid to be cautious. People stared down from windows at the strange visitors or gathered at the side of the road to watch them pass.

"It's a beautiful city," Galdenor said to his sister as they rode through the marketplace. "But I don't know... something about it just makes me uneasy."

"How come?" she asked.

"I don't know. It's too big. Man-made things shouldn't be this big." He glanced back at the castle, a great gray ghost against the sky. "That's what I mean," he said.

"I suppose I've grown used to it," Sofia said. "It got me that way at first."

"I wonder sometimes," Galdenor said thoughtfully, "why did Ganondorf do what he did? Did he come to Hyrule with good intentions?" He looked back again. "The first thing I saw was that," he said, "rising up out of the hills. Maybe he saw the same thing and felt what I did."

"You've never talked this way before," Sofia said. "What's the matter?"

His face was closed for a moment; then he smiled. "Nothing, I suppose. I'm just being silly. It just... unsettles me, that's all."

There were more people standing at the gate to watch them go. The Gerudo party rode out proudly with their heads held high, a mixed-sex band in brightly coloured fluttering silks, dark-skinned and golden-eyed and exotically beautiful. Zelda rode up on her white mare and joined Sofia and Galdenor at the head of the group; they talked together quietly. Dark rode off to one side, lost it seemed in his own thoughts.

Thus it was that Link, lagging behind, was the only one to see an odd happening at the gate. As their party passed across the drawbridge, his attention was caught by a figure standing behind the spectators, shadowed by the city walls. It was only there for a moment; then the person slipped back out of his line of sight and vanished into the alleys. He frowned and turned his eyes back to the road, unable to understand why a momentary glimpse had made such an impression upon him.



The sky was bright and clear, and the snow was not deep; they made good progress following the old road. They stopped for lunch in the small town of Parapa that nestled beneath the Shadowed Mountains, and when the time came to move on, they delayed still; for there were two roads out of here. One led on through the mountain pass, the other went south through farmland to the shores of Lake Hylia. The companions were to part here, albeit reluctantly.

Sofia clung to her brother, pressing her face into his chest. He ran his hands over the smooth sweep of her unbound hair. "I'll miss you, brother," she whispered, tilting her face towards his.

"And I you, sister," he said. "But we both have a path to follow. You must go on with your friends."

"I know," she said huskily, swallowing. "I made my choice."

"It's not forever." He smiled at her. "I'll write."

"Me too." She flung herself on him again and hugged him hard, pressing herself to him as if she would have made them both one. "Galdenor, I don't know why, but I'm just scared! I'm scared I won't see you again!"

"You will," Galdenor said. "I promise." He wrapped his arms around her for a moment and then let go, stood back. "We'll have to go," he said quietly. "We can't wait too long or we'll have to ride through the night to reach the camp."

"I know," Sofia said again. She brushed at her eyes. "Goodbye then, brother."

"See you soon, then, if the Goddess wills it!" he said, swinging up into the saddle. The horse reared and kicked the air; Galdenor kept his seat with the skill of one born to it. He grinned down at her, his eyes flashing in the sun, and in another moment was off, galloping along the dusty valley road with his company thundering behind. The wagons clattered into life as the packhorses strained after.

As the sound and wind died away, Zelda slipped her arm around Sofia, who stood trembling, staring after her brother. She gave one choked sob and fell into the Princess's shoulder. Link glanced away and pretended to see to his horse's girth; he was unwilling to intrude on such a private grief.

The four of them mounted in silence and rode off at a slow canter on the lake road. They had tarried as long as they could in Parapa, but there was nothing now to keep them here. Sofia rode with her head high; her eyes were dry but red-ringed, and her face was tragic. Zelda kept pace with her on the white horse and they spoke quietly, talking of unrelated things. Link sighed and looked back to where Dark rode, alone as ever, his head bowed and his face hidden by the low hood of his cloak. He respected Sofia's need for quiet right now, but the shadow made poor company.

Nonetheless, Dark was all he had right now. He dropped back. The shadow glanced up quickly as he fell in with him, but said nothing.

"How are you?" Link said, by way of an opening.

Dark shrugged.

"Do you want me to leave you alone?"

"No... I..." The shadow looked up, pushed back his hood and made a faint, awkward smile. "I am sorry," he said.

Link nodded but did not comment. They rode together in silence for some minutes, and his thought turned again towards that oddly disturbing glimpse at the gate. Finally, he said, "Did you see--?"

"See what?"

He frowned. What, after all, had he seen? Someone wearing a hooded cloak against the cold, that was all. Half the crowd had been similarly attired.

Dark was still watching him, crimson eyes slitted against the light.

"Nothing," he said at last.



They rode until it grew too dark to continue much further, and then turned off along a track to the village of Mido; it was a little out of their way, but there was still snow on the ground and it was too cold to sleep outside. It was full dark by the time they reached the inn. They handed their horses over to the grumpy stablehands and hurried inside, glad to get out of the chill night air.

The Mido inn was not half as pleasant as the Kakariko one; it was smaller and meaner, and the wooden floor had not been swept for several days. Link grimaced as he picked his way through sticky puddles of half-dried beer. The place had an unpleasant sour smell about it, probably something to do with the spills.

They were further inconvenienced to find that there were not rooms enough available; they would have to share a single one with only two beds between them. After a long argument it was decided that the girls should lie together in one bed and that Link should take the other, smaller one. Dark was content to sit up all night; it was no more than his usual practice. They paid and accepted their key. "We'll only stay one night," Zelda muttered to Link. "I am not fond of this place."

"Nor am I, for that matter," he said, glancing around. The silent patrons watched them over their cups. "Not too friendly is it?"

"At least it is warm," Dark said, "and it has a roof. We could have done worse." He turned away to go up the stairs and Link saw then that he had tied his hair back with the embroidered band. The green gleamed like a jewel against his smooth shadowy locks. Link smiled, and glanced quickly at Zelda; she did not seem to have noticed. Her attention was on Sofia who sat miserably by the fire, staring into the golden glow as if it held answers that she sought.

"Let's take dinner up to our room," he said after a moment, his mood sobering. "I don't feel like sitting down here tonight."

The food too was poor: old bread and dried meat and a kind of thick soup made with chunks of root vegetables. Evidently Mido was into the last of its winter stores. They sat on the bed or the floor and ate balancing wooden bowls on their knees. Dark sat quietly in the corner, cleaning his plain sword with a piece of soft oiled cloth; he worked methodically, polishing the blade from hilt to tip until it shone free from any hint of rust. When he had done, he turned it over and began on the other side with exactly the same steady patience.

"Where to next?" Link said. "It is only five miles or so to the lake shore. What do we do once we get there? Look for the Water Temple?"

"That might be difficult," Dark said, lifting his head. "It lies beneath the lake. Can you breathe underwater?"

"There's no need to be like that."

"It was a serious question." Dark held his sword up to the light, looking for small imperfections in the blade, and then picked up the discarded sheath and slipped it away. "Link First could and did."

Link laughed at that. "Now that I do not believe," he said. "Was he a man or a fish?"

"The Zoras made him a tunic that had magical properties," Zelda said. "When he wore it he could breathe water as if it were air. But we certainly don't have anything like that--which you know very well, Dark, so don't be obtuse." She dug around in her pack and found a package wrapped in cloth: Galdenor's map. "I am not sure how useful this will be," she said, opening it out, "because the lake looks different in the drawing. I think the shores have changed their shape since the map was made. They do change over time. But looking at this, there is something on the southern shore--a path or passage, I am not certain. I think we should look for it."

"It seems a strange place for a Knight's grave," Link remarked. "Way out in the middle of nowhere..."

Zelda sighed as she folded up the map. "Well, it is marked," she said. "All we can do is take a look. Perhaps there will be nothing; we won't know until we get there."

They turned in for the night, and an uncomfortable night it was; the beds were hard and the sheets coarse and there was never enough space. Zelda and Sofia curled up as far away from each other as they could get, sleeping top to toe. Link snored quietly, facing the wall; occasionally he sighed and shifted beneath the thin blanket.

Dark sat up in the chair and listened to the sleeping sounds of his friends. The moonlight bathed their faces in silver and set pale ghost lights in their spilled hair. He thought of the last time they had all been together at night, in that clearing outside Kokiri Forest; this was the first time that they had ever slept all together, peaceful and trusting, in his presence. They trusted him now; how in Din's name had that come about? Link's medallion--the Amulet of the Forest--hung in plain view on the back of a chair. He was armed. What was to stop him taking it? He could have slain the Hero in his sleep!

They trusted him--that was what stopped him. You were wrong, Sepultura, he thought, and reached up to touch the embroidered band.

The moonlight moved slowly across the room, and faded, as the first blush of dawn lit the eastern sky. That cold silver radiance was replaced by a rosy glimmering of mingled pink and gold. The sunlight crept through the window and stole up the length of the counterpane until it lit on Sofia's cheek and kindled her red hair to a fiery glow. She sighed, moved one hand across her face, and opened her eyes. Dark watched her waking; he saw the lines of her face become sharp and alert, as in a few short seconds the fogginess of dreams cleared, and consciousness returned. She blinked her golden eyes twice and looked up at him in his corner.

"You didn't murder us in our beds, then," she said sleepily.

"Not yet, anyway," he said.

She sat up, yawning, and stretched luxuriously before looking back at him. "If I'm not mistaken, that was another joke," she said. "You are in a good mood lately."

"Why should I not be?" he said, flashing his grin. "The sun shines, birds sing..."

"That makes three," Sofia said wonderingly. "Have you got a high temperature?"

"I certainly haven't," Zelda mumbled, surfacing at the other end of the bed. "I think my toes have frozen off." She rubbed at her eyes and used her fingers to comb her hair back from her face. "Good morning," she said, blinking. "What's for breakfast?"

"More dry bread, I suppose," Sofia said.

"Ugh, I hate this place." The Princess yawned as she slid her legs out of the covers. She was still dressed; they had gone to bed in their clothes, as much for the extra warmth as for the modesty. Her tunic was rumpled and scruffy-looking. She fished her boots out from under the bed and wrestled them onto her feet. "Get Link up, would you?" she asked.

"Link?" Dark called softly, glancing towards the other bed. "Breakfast!" In another breath the covers flipped back and the young warrior sat up, still half asleep.

"Wha'?" he said, looking about blearily for the promised meal. "Where?"

"Downstairs," Sofia told him, "in ten minutes. Come on! Let's be on our way!"



It was cold outside, but definitely not as cold as it had been before. The sun shone brightly, gleaming off the snowy ground, and there was a tingling in the air that smelled of spring. They rode down the old road, following the curve of the hills, and came out through a cutting on a long sandy slope that stretched down to the rippling edge of the lake. Its waters lay gray and misty, fringed with dark reeds, stretching out into distance and the pale sky. Splinters of ice like broken mirrors lay along the shore.

They sat silent for a minute or two. "Well," Link said, pulling his cloak about him, "here we are. Which way do we go from here?"

"South," Zelda said. She turned her horse and stood in the stirrups, looking ahead. "We'll follow the shore down and see if we come to anything."

Lake Hylia was deserted at this time of year--deserted even, it seemed, by the animals that should have lived there. They saw not a bird as they rode on. The dull waters lapped like the tongues of dogs, oozed muddily through whispering reeds crusted with ice. The shore was desolate and cold, barren as the desert, but with none of the desert's living heat. They passed what might have been a village: there were a few rude log cabins clustered together near the remains of a jetty; but there were no people and the buildings were broken down and derelict. The skeleton of a boat lay in the shallows nearby, its timbers black and rotting, jutting like the ribs of a whale. They were silent until they had left the abandoned houses far behind.

"I don't like this much," Sofia said. "When you said it was a lake, I thought of bright clear waters and sunshine. This is just horrible."

"Lakes never look their best in winter," Link told her.

She would not be comforted; she stared out at the murky waters, her eyes wide. "Anything could be down there," she said. "Anything at all."

They rode on, leaving the road behind now, and continued down along the shore. The horses picked their way through patches of snow, and then chill black mud; the ground grew damp and swampy. They dismounted and led the animals to save their feet. At midday they stopped and found seats on an old tree that had tipped and sunk in the mire until it was nearly horizontal, a thing of dead white wood and rotten, peeling bark. They ate sparingly of the dried foods they had brought with them; not even Link had much of an appetite. The horses browsed on stringy grass and blew into the waters of the lake.

"How much further, Zelda?" Sofia asked.

The Princess was poring over the map, frowning; she looked up and sighed. "I am not sure," she owned. "I think we ought to be close now; but I am not sure exactly what we are looking for."

"I think I know," Dark said. He was standing atop the fallen tree, balancing effortlessly on the slippery wood. "We have been heading straight for that," he said, pointing.

That was a small round island, half a mile or so away, and separated from them by a long flat stretch of reeds and open water. It rose out of the lake like an upturned bowl, its slopes furred with a greyish grass that rippled in the wind. It looked too regular to be real. Upon the crown, silhouetted against the lonely sky, was a tall standing stone. "What is that?" Link asked, scrambling onto the log to see better.

"I think it's a barrow," Zelda said. She lifted her head and folded the map. "You're right, Dark; it must be it."

"That is what we came all this way for?" Sofia asked, grimacing. "That vile little hill?"

"It isn't a hill," Zelda told her. "People built it. Our ways have changed since those times; but once, the dead were laid in mounds, and the greatest mounds were made for those who had been the greatest warriors. That is not a natural hill. It must be a barrow. And it is right where the mark lies on the map!" Her eyes were suddenly bright.

"Well, I don't like it," Sofia said flatly. "I don't like this place, and I don't like that hill."

"I agree," Dark said, startling them all. He slid down and landed ankle-deep in black mud; he grimaced and freed his feet before continuing. "I mislike the feel of this place. The dead are too close."

"The dead?" Link exclaimed.

"Dark, stop it," Zelda said. "We can't turn back now--not after we came all this way. We must at least take a look!"

"But the water," Sofia said doubtfully.

"It is shallow," Dark answered, "and where it is not we can probably swim. If we must." He pulled the ribbon from his hair and slipped it into his tunic.

Link went to his horse and, without saying anything, began to go through his bags, taking small useful things and putting them into his pockets. After a few moments the others followed suit. They could not ride across the watery expanse, and they would not have been able to get the horses up on the mound in any case. Zelda slung her bow across her back and stuffed a waterproofed wax packet of bowstrings into a pocket; she thought for a moment and then put Galdenor's map back in the saddlebag. She did not want to ruin it in the water, if they did have to swim.

They waded across, and it was slow going, for they had to feel out every step before they trusted the terrain. The silvery water hid a thousand muddy holes. It quickly rose over their boots; it reached their hips at midpoint. It was icy cold. They shivered uncontrollably as they sloshed and stumbled. The hill got closer, but slowly, painfully so.

Dark had been leading. Suddenly he disappeared with a splash; the water rippled and bubbled for a moment and then was still. "Nayru!" Zelda cried, surging forward. The water held her back; she thrashed with her arms, struggling to move faster. "Dark!"

"Hang on!" Link yelled. He plunged headlong and shot past her, windmilling his arms; in another moment he submerged entirely in a spray of silver drops. They saw his wake ripple swiftly onward for two or three seconds and then his head broke the surface; he gasped in air, flinging back the sodden mat of his hair as he trod water. "It's deep!" he shouted back to them. "Stay where you are!" He rolled forward and dived head-first, arching his back like a dolphin; his boots broke water for a moment, then slid smoothly beneath. Sofia floundered up to Zelda, and they clung to each other, shivering and afraid. The water bubbled.

"Where is he?" Zelda asked; her teeth were chattering so badly that she could barely get the words out.

"C-can't see," Sofia said. Her eyes were huge in her face, showing the whites all round. "A-hh... s'cold..."

The water erupted. Link bobbed up clutching something sodden: Dark's black cloak. He hauled on it, and in another moment the shadow appeared, limp and face down on the water surface. Link grabbed him under the arms and kicked powerfully towards the mound; he found solid ground, stood and hauled Dark upright. The water came up to their chests. Dark lifted his head and weakly shook his streaming hair out of his eyes; he clung to the young Hero, shivering, barely able to stand.

Link waved at them. "It's all right!" he shouted. "He's all right! Come on! But swim--and be careful, the mud is thick!"

"Th-that boy swims like a f-fish," Sofia stuttered.

"There's Calatians for you," Zelda said, grinning weakly. "Can you swim?"

"Not very well... g-go together, okay?"

"Ready," the Princess said. She swung her arms to try and generate some warmth and will, then looked at the other woman. "C-count of three."

They plunged together; and if the water had felt cold before, it was a hundred times worse when the whole body was immersed. Zelda gasped with each stroke. Tiny shards of ice stung and cut her face when she dipped it in; her clothes were full of cold mud that dragged her back. She dipped her head and blew, dipped and blew... it took forever to reach Link where he stood, shifting his feet against the mud that sucked at them. Sofia splashed beside her in a crude but serviceable dog-paddle.

The mound was only twenty yards or so away now, and the water fell away quickly as they approached. They staggered up out of the shallows, four soaked figures streaked with mud and pondweed, and sank down gasping on the base of the steep slope, wracked by shivers. "Dark... okay?" Zelda gasped out. The shadow had his eyes closed; he just nodded. His whole body shook with cold.

Link picked at his plaster cast, which was in sorry shape; long strips of wet bandage had come loose and hung down like streamers. "You're not supposed to get these wet, are you?" he asked, glancing up.

"Don't think so," Zelda said. She wrung out her tunic and then rubbed vigorously at her arms through the slick, dragging fabric of her wool shirt. "Oh, Nayru, I'm so cold..."

"Come on," Sofia groaned, forcing herself to her feet. "We can't stay here; we'll freeze. Let's try and climb it. It will warm us up a little at any rate."

The hill was steep, and they went mostly on hands and knees; they clutched at the grass for support, and it tore loose in their hands. A bitter wind tore at their heavy, sodden clothes. Zelda forced herself to keep moving, well aware now of the danger they were in. What had possessed them to go swimming in the lake in January? She hauled herself up foot by painful foot, tearing her fingers on the sharp-edged grasses; she reached the top first and staggered upright, leaning against the wind. The hilltop was around fifty yards wide, flat and circular. The standing stone stood proud at one end; at the other, there was a low stone-lined passage that led down into the hill itself.

Link joined her in another minute. He put his arms around her without saying a word, and she pressed herself towards him, clinging to his living warmth. They drew strength from each other. "We were mad," Zelda whispered. "How will we get back?"

"Don't worry," he answered. "We'll do it."

"Can one of you help me?" Sofia called suddenly, her voice strained. They broke from each other and hurried together to the edge of the mound. Sofia crouched a few yards below, perched precariously on the steep slope with her heels dug into the ground; she had hold of Dark, who hung limp against the hillside, supported only by Sofia's fingers in his belt. She looked up at them with wide, worried eyes. "One of you grab him," she said. Link slithered down to join her. They dragged him up together and laid him down on the flat stony ground. He lay in his wet clothes like a dead thing, bedraggled and thin.

"Hypothermia," Link said.

Sofia stared at him. "Can he get that?"

"Evidently." He looked around, his face grim. "Into the mound," he said. "We have to dry off out of the wind, if nothing else."

"This is a grave! We're not going into a grave!"

"There's nowhere else to go," Zelda said. "Link, can you carry him?"

"He doesn't weigh anything," he said. "Of course I can." He slipped his good arm beneath Dark and lifted him, draped him over his shoulder.

They lit a fire at the bottom of the steps; they had flint and steel, and the dry grass burned passably well although it did not last for long. Huddled in the entrance to the barrow, they scorched their hands and faces over the little blaze until it burned out, and then Sofia went out to fetch more. Zelda took off Dark's sodden cloak and wrung the water out of the thick black wool, then wrapped him in it and rubbed warmth back into his icy hands. He stirred finally and opened his eyes.

"All right?" Link asked.

"Cold." His voice was little more than a breath.

"We're all cold," Sofia said, clattering down the steps to dump an armful of grass on the fire.

Dark raised his head wearily. "We should not have come."

"I'm sorry," Zelda whispered. "It was my fault..."

"What's done is done," Link said. "We are here now. We'll wait until we're warmer, and then I suppose we had better go down and see what we have found."

They sat for near an hour, shivering, pressing together for warmth. The fire burned low and Sofia replenished it again and again until she had plucked clear a great chunk of the island's northern end. Link tried to seal the sodden bandages back around his cast, but the plaster would no longer stick. Eventually he drew his sword and cut away the dangling strips; it left the cast ragged-looking but still apparently sound.

"Now what?" Dark said at last. He had recovered his strength with the warmth of the fire; his eyes were bright and alert as he looked from one to another. Mud was drying on his cheeks and in his hair. "Do we go down?"

"It's too dark in there to see where we're going," Link said. "We need some sort of light before we try that. Could we make torches with the grass..?"

"We would need some wood or something to wind it on," Zelda said, sighing. "There's nothing up here--not even a bush."

"I could go down," Dark offered. "I need no light to find my way!"

Link glanced at the others; they nodded silently. "I think we may have to take you up on that," he said, turning back to the shadow. "Are you sure you are strong enough?"

"Strong enough, now." He looked up, his eyes wide and suddenly vulnerable. "I should thank you," he said quietly.

"I would have done it for any of us," Link answered.

Dark got to his feet and shook out the damp folds of his cloak. For a moment he leaned against the old wall, seeming to gather his strength, then he ducked beneath the low stone lintel and was gone from their sight.



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