When evil ruled all, an awakening voice from the Sacred Realm would call those destined to be Sages, who dwelled in the five temples.
Time seemed to favor no one, though it would be difficult to convince the people of Hyrule. The time of peace and prosperity seemed to have been nothing but a dream since the King of Evil’s return, this time with greater ambition. The knights of Hyrule, ever steadfast, eventually collapsed under the might of Ganondorf and his army of dark creatures and deadly Gerudo warriors.
Many of the kingdom’s citizens chose not to flee, certain that Ganondorf’s reign would be a short one. After all, Hyrule was a kingdom of myth and destiny. Only those chosen by the goddesses were worthy to rule, and none but the worthiest could save them. Or so they thought. Surely a hero would emerge to set everything right. The people held onto this hope, self-assured their prayers would soon be answered.
Seven years later, they were wrong. Still wrong.
A breeze rustled the trees, loud enough in the stillness of the afternoon calm to spook any hapless creature. A giant, fast-moving shadow swooped across the plains. Perhaps a bird’s. Perhaps a dragon’s. None knew what to expect in the current era.
The sky, while blue, was hazy, signaling the approaching twilight. Despite Ganondorf’s reign, the land hadn’t collapsed into an eternally dark landscape. Perhaps this was by design, or maybe the evil sorcerer wasn’t powerful enough to cast a large enough shadow. It was a glimmer of hope, something the people of Hyrule could hold onto.
Zelda stood atop the highest cliff she could find that could still provide adequate cover. She pulled her hood over her face, taking care to ensure it wouldn’t slip off as she made her way across Hyrule Field. She was wearing the most basic Sheikah training garb, made to allow for stealth, agility, and ease of movement. Trainees weren’t allowed to wear the Sheikah emblem until they’d completed their training. However, Zelda opted to not wear it as an extra layer of protection, a way to prevent drawing unnecessary attention to herself.
Below she could see Hyrule Castle, or at least what remained of it. Ganondorf had built a high, twisting black tower in its center that threatened the sky. Even after all these years as the King of Hyrule, he still wanted to challenge the gods.
Several other spires like it, smaller in size, dotted the landscape. From where she was positioned, Zelda could make out at least two. One towered over the ruins of what used to be Lon Lon Ranch, only a dilapidated old stable hinting it was once the most prosperous ranch in the land. A colossal tent had been erected, presumably to house the numerous Gerudo sentries who patrolled the field.
The other stood just outside of Kakariko Village, where no doubt the Gerudo had settled, driving out any hope of Hyrule’s citizens escaping to it for refuge. Even the Sheikah had all but vanished, and not even Impa knew where they’d all gone off to.
Death Mountain loomed above the village, a ring of grey smoke signaling the likelihood of it remaining under the Gorons’ protection. Zelda hadn’t been to Lake Hylia in ages, and she knew nothing of the Zoras’ predicament. She only hoped their domain was still safe, that Ganondorf hadn’t tried to wipe them out.
She inhaled, the scent of wildflowers and grass whirling through her body. Her nose itched the same way it did when she was a child, when her mother would stuff a tissue against her face just before she sneezed. Her mother. This time of day, they’d be having a picnic in the courtyard, sharing tarts as her father watched from afar.
The sound of metal clanging against metal broke her daze instantly. Had she been spotted? She froze, listening for any sign of movement. The nocking of an arrow. The unsheathing of a sword. She waited several moments before deciding she was safe.
She peered down at the Lon Lon Ranch tower, watching as two Gerudo warriors sparred with each other, each wielding a curved scimitar. Zelda exhaled. That must have been the source of the sound she’d just heard.
Watching the two spar together reminded Zelda of her training with Impa, learning the ways of combat in case Zelda needed to defend herself in her guardian’s absence. The movement and battle stances of the Gerudo warriors were familiar, and Zelda understood their purpose in combat.
Nevertheless, even a trained knight would have seen this display and been confused by it. Why did they need to train so many warriors and sentries now? Ganondorf ruled with no opposition, and none of the citizens would rebel against the sorcerer.
Still, she knew better. Ganondorf wasn’t preparing to fight a rival kingdom. He was preparing to fight destiny itself. Even an army would be no match for the Hero of Time.
Except, Zelda knew the truth. There was no Hero of Time now, and there wouldn’t be.
Link had warned her seven years ago about Ganondorf. He’d spoken about an alternate timeline where the evil sorcerer succeeded in entering the Sacred Realm and obtaining the Triforce of Power. Ganondorf almost destroyed Hyrule, turning it into a place of darkness and ruin before being defeated by Link, who’d awakened the Six Sages. After relaying his story, Link set off to find a dear friend, and Zelda had given him the Ocarina of Time for protection.
Zelda revealed all to her father who, instead of putting the evil sorcerer to death, simply banished him from Hyrule. She remembered that hateful stare as she hid behind her father’s throne. His eyes seemed to glow as if being fueled by his own malice.
“Before I depart, I would leave behind a sentiment,” Ganondorf had said. “Light cannot be without shadow, and you would do well to remember the shadows.”
A month later, word reached the castle that a massive army was approaching from the west. Impa spirited Zelda away instantly, taking her to a remote, nameless village on the outskirts of Hyrule, farther than she thought possible. They were certain they wouldn’t have to remain in hiding for long, that Link would eventually return from his journey to a distant realm.
Yet, as the years continued to pass, Zelda began to lose hope. Eventually, she decided it had been long enough. Her people were suffering, and Ganondorf grew in power with each passing day. Soon, he would be strong enough to enter the Sacred Realm, possibly by force, without any need of the Ocarina of Time, which was no longer in Zelda’s possession.
She sniffed the air once more. Someone was burning wood in the distance. Every sentry at every encampment would be on high alert, searching for any sign of someone approaching out in the open. Zelda would have preferred to travel at night, but she needed to save that advantage for when she scaled Ganondorf’s tower. Time was running out. There could be no more waiting, praying for a hero who didn’t exist. She closed her eyes, inhaling and calling upon the powers of the Golden Goddesses, before jumping off the ledge.