When evil ruled all, an awakening voice from the Sacred Realm would call those destined to be Sages, who dwelled in the five temples.
Long esteemed as attendants of the royal family of Hyrule, the Sheikah spoke of many ancient legends. They were an old, secretive people, their crimson eyes and gray hair denoting their heritage and wisdom. It was no surprise then that Impa had foreseen Ganondorf’s attack on the castle and spirited Zelda away to a remote hideout, an abandoned village on the outskirts of Hyrule. The knights, noble and steadfast as they were, wouldn’t be enough.
Perhaps Impa knew there was little of chance of the royal family’s survival without the Ocarina of Time, the key to opening the Door of Time that led to the Sacred Realm. Zelda had given the ocarina to the boy from the forest, a parting gift for his journey to another realm.
He was to return one day, a champion ready to save Hyrule from the King of Evil. The awakening call would summon the Sages, who would lend their power to the Hero of Time and fell Ganon once and for all. Hyrule deserved that peace. Zelda’s prophecies had shown her as much.
Seven years later, there had been no awakening call, just as there had been no Hero of Time.
Zelda etched the fact into her mind as she slipped into her tights. She carefully wrapped her chest and torso, binding it so that she could move more freely in combat. She looked down at her hands, noticing that less than half of her fingers were wrapped in bandages now. Her training was going a lot better, though Impa constantly reminded her she had much to learn if she wanted to survive a fight against a trained Sheikah warrior.
She sighed, allowing the breeze to sweep her hair across her face. It still smelled faintly of wood and fire, something she’d never grow used to. Princesses didn’t wear bandages on their fingers. They didn’t jump from trees or collect bruises from sparring matches with their caretaker.
Yes, it was true she wouldn’t survive a fight with a Sheikah warrior. Her destiny was to lead the Sages in battle, after all, but that was before the Hero’s disappearance. She wasn’t just a princess now, and she’d have to be resourceful, using every single skill at her disposal. To defeat her adversary, she’d only have her magic, the techniques Impa had taught her, and her cunning.
It would all have to be enough.
She plaited her hair into a tight braid, tucking it into her hood before wrapping her head in an enchanted cloth designed to disguise her appearance. To everyone else, she’d have red eyes and a masculine physique, resembling a trained Sheikah warrior. They’d hardly suspect she was anything close to royalty, and she needed that advantage. Yes, the people of Hyrule would need to know she was still alive, but not yet. She couldn’t be recognized until the time was right.
Ganondorf would be the first to see her face before she destroyed him forever.
She paused before clenching her fists as the memory flashed in her mind. Her father, King Arwulf Ramuleese Hyrule, prepared to banish Ganondorf from the realm. The royal guards surrounded him, each with a spear pointed at his throat, but the dark wizard merely smiled, as if it was an amusing inconvenience.
“You may banish me today, but I will return for my throne.”
There was such malice and arrogance in his voice, as if he was confident no one in the room could defeat him. The guards inched their spears closer, the tips now prodding against his green skin. Still, his gaze didn’t break, eyes the color of gold and filled with hatred. A young Zelda shivered as she ducked behind her father’s throne. The king grunted before speaking.
“You will have nothing, and you will be nothing.”
Ganondorf chuckled, as if completely unaware of the spears ready to end his life in mere seconds. “I have as much of a claim to this kingdom as you do.”
The guards scoffed in unison, instantly offended by the madman’s words. How could such an evil man dare to say such a thing? What claim could someone who wanted the Triforce for nefarious deeds have for Hyrule? He couldn’t be serious! The king rose to his feet, staring down at Ganondorf with nothing short of disgust.
“A vile creature like you could never rule Hyrule!” he hissed through gritted teeth. “You would only bring the Goddess’ chosen land to ruin!”
Ganondorf’s hateful glare softened into a confident smirk, but he remained completely still. “Chosen land, you say? Would that include the Shadow Temple?”
The king scoffed, shaking his head in disbelief. Zelda scrunched up her nose, also confused. She’d heard of the Shadow Temple. Impa told her the Sheikah guarded it, and the Sheikah were protectors of the royal family. Of course the temple was part of Hyrule! What was this crazed warlock going on about?
“What madness are you speaking of?” asked the king.
Ganondorf sighed, closing his eyes. For a few moments, he said nothing, and the room went completely silent. It was an unsettling quiet, so unordinary Zelda thought she could hear Ganondorf breathing from across the room. He finally opened his eyes, seemingly satisfied with whatever conclusion he’d needed time to work out.
“I have been accused of many things today,” he spread out his arms, once again ignoring the spears as he gestured around the room, “but I am not mad. I wished to form an alliance between you and my people, yet you draw your swords against me. The Gerudo deserve a place in this kingdom just as the Gorons, Zoras, and others have established.”
The king slammed his fist against the arm of his throne. “You and the Gerudo deserve nothing! None of you pledged yourselves to the Golden Goddesses, the creators of this land! You worship the sand goddess and live as thieves and cutthroats.”
“Thievery,” Ganondorf smiled as if the word tasted sweet. “You know much about thievery, don’t you? Yet, between the two of us, you are a much bigger thief, my king.”
The king roared, startling Zelda, who gasped much louder than she intended. Ganondorf met her gaze, those shining golden eyes burying into her. Pulling her in. Inviting her to breathe in his miasma and rage. No! She darted out of view behind her father’s throne, still able to see him but certain the guards were going to end the dark wizard right there, but Ganondorf raised his hands, signaling he meant no harm.
“I will depart from this place,” he said, “but I will also leave behind a sentiment. Light will always cast a shadow, Your Majesty. They are both eternal, and you would do well to remember the shadows.”
Zelda loosened the grip on her kodachi, sighing in frustration. She’d always suspected Ganondorf to be up to something, but it wasn’t until the boy from the forest, Link, had warned her that she built up the courage to alert the kingdom. Courage. Was that was she was missing now?
Link spoke about a different time, a tangent where Ganondorf succeeded in entering the Sacred Realm and becoming the owner of the Triforce of Power. Link wielded the Triforce of Courage, while Zelda wielded the Triforce of Wisdom. With the Sacred Realm turned into a place of darkness, new Sages awakened across the land. Zelda became the leader of those Sages and sealed Ganondorf away forever once Link defeated him. It was why Zelda had to defeat him now before he found another way into the Sacred Realm.
Because the Hero of Time was not going to save them.
Zelda gave Link the Ocarina of Time to aid him in his journey to find his friend, urging him to call upon the Goddess of Time should he face any trouble. She’d hoped he would soon return from where he’d ventured off to, but seven years had passed since then. She couldn’t hope anymore. She had to act.
She had to awaken the Sages herself.
“Seems like you’re going after all.”
Zelda didn’t turn to face Impa, knowing she’d been watching for quite some time. Instead, she continued to equip herself with everything she needed as her guardian observed.
“Hyrule can still be saved.”
She heard Impa sigh and knew she was shaking her head. She’d done it so many times since Zelda mentioned her plan to awaken the Ancient Sages.
“Will they even fight alongside you?” Impa asked. “You said yourself their slumber is meant to be eternal. If the Sacred Realm becomes endangered, then new Sages will be awakened.”
“There will be no Hero in this timeline.”
“You don’t know that.”
Zelda paused, clenching her fists again. It was the same argument time and time again. It had been this way for months now. How long did Impa intend for them to wait? Seven more years? A hundred? No. She had to set off now. She could no longer delay.
“Hyrule has been a realm of darkness for seven long years, and Link never returned,” she said. “I know that I have the power to stop Ganondorf, even if I can’t wield the Master Sword. I will not give up on my people, my father, my legacy.”
“No one said you were giving up,” said Impa, “but you must remember this: when something doesn’t want to be awakened, it’s best to leave it be. There’s a reason the Ancient Sages chose eternal slumber.”
“They were privileged enough to make that choice. I am not.”
Zelda reached for the Goddess Harp, gifted to her by her late mother, and began strumming it. Each note echoed as if being stretched across unfathomable distances. As beautiful, haunting notes filled the air around them, tendrils of green light erupted from the ground, swirling around her like leaves caught in a shifting autumn breeze.
“I will find the Ancient Sages,” Zelda’s voice echoed as the green light tendrils encircled her, obscuring her from view. “One in a deep forest. One on a high mountain. One under a vast lake. One within the house of the dead. One inside a goddess of sand.”
“Fine,” Impa’s voice stayed calm and patient, even in the face of Zelda’s defiance. “It’s clear I won’t convince you, but I have warned you, Zelda.”
“From this moment on, I am Sheik,” Zelda corrected Impa as her feet left the ground. “I will not reveal my identity until I confront Ganondorf.”
“Sheik,” Impa repeated the name. “A member of the Sheikah clan awakening the Ancient Sages. You’re certainly going to catch Ganondorf’s attention.”
Zelda turned to face Impa as she began to finally vanish.
“And when he falls to his knees before me, I will have caught so much more.”