Princess and the Shadow
According to Abnar, the Sand Goddess didn’t discriminate between worshippers and non-worshippers. All who walked across her sands were worthy of her aid, should she decide to give it.
Perhaps, that was why the Gerudo had forsaken the Hylians.
Koume and Kotake continued to hover before Zelda and Nabooru, patiently waiting for one of them to make the first move. Nabooru took a step forward, her scimitars at the ready.
“I never liked either of you witches,” she pointed one of her blades at them. “It’s time to end this.”
Koume and Kotake simply laughed.
“Oh please!” Kotake screeched. “What can you possibly do, you traitor?”
“I’m no traitor!” Nabooru retorted. “You and Ganondorf have led the Gerudo to ruin! We shame the Sand Goddess!”
“Hmph,” Koume rolled her eyes. “The Sand Goddess has no need for your pitiful devotion.”
“We’ll see about that,” Nabooru started to rush forward, but Zelda moved in front of her, blocking her path.
“Wait, Nabooru,” she said. “I would ask these two a question before we begin.”
Nabooru stopped, but she didn’t lower her blades. She stared at Zelda for a moment before sighing and taking a step back.
“And what would that be, Sheikah?” Koume twirled her wand.
“There is a place deep in the wastelands,” Zelda explained. “It is called the Arbiter’s Grounds where a cursed mirror can be found.”
Nabooru finally lowered her scimitars, while the two witches exchanged glances.
“What does that have to do with us?” Kotake pointed to herself.
“Nothing,” Zelda shrugged. “As long as you tell me where it is.”
“And if we don’t?” Koume raised an eyebrow.
Zelda shrugged once more while brandishing her own blade. “I cannot force you to tell me, but you should know. I plan to defeat your king once and for all. Then, what will you do?”
The witches were silent for a moment before they both burst out laughing.
“You?” Koume asked, between fits of laughter. “You can’t be serious!”
“You’re nothing but a weak little man!” Kotake added.
Zelda felt Nabooru inch forward. “We’re getting nowhere.”
The witches finally calmed down, and Kotake wiped a tear from her eye.
“Very well,” she said, still struggling to hold back her laughter. “We could tell you where that place is…”
“If you pledge your loyalty to Lord Ganondorf,” Koume finished.
“Enough of this!” Nabooru leaped over Zelda and soared toward the witches.
“Nabooru, no!” Zelda shouted, reaching out in a futile attempt to stop her.
The witches drew their wands high into the air, preparing to strike. Nabooru was only a few feet away when they both unleashed their spells upon her. A large explosion engulfed Nabooru, and the hags resumed their hideous cackling as they waited for the Gerudo chief to fall to the floor.
But Nabooru didn’t fall.
Blue light began to shine through the smoke, and soon Nabooru’s form could be seen, floating in mid-air and completely encased in the protective prism of Zelda’s spell, gifted to her by the goddess Nayru. Nabooru whipped her head around in amazement before fixing her gaze on the witches, who seemed to be just as astonished.
“What happened?” she asked as she floated back down to the ground. Zelda closed her palm, and the magical barrier disintegrated and vanished. Koume and Kotake angrily gripped their wands, crying out in frustration before narrowing their eyes as they looked upon Zelda.
“You!” Kotake pointed a dry, withered finger down at her. “Who are you?”
“That wasn’t the shadow trickery the Sheikah, sister!” Koume hissed. “It wasn’t ordinary magic, either! It was bright and pure!”
“This guy isn’t fooling anyone!” Kotake screeched. “Let’s get him to show himself!”
The witches lifted their wands into the air again, and a white circle formed on the ground around Zelda’s feet. Nabooru started towards her, but Zelda held out her hand.
“It’s alright,” Zelda reassured. “Just watch the shadows.”
A pillar of light rose from the circle and overtook Zelda. For several seconds, she was lost in its glow, unable to move or even think. Then, as quickly as it had appeared, the light vanished, and Zelda opened her eyes, scanning the hall for any signs of the shadow.
The witches and Nabooru all wore identical shocked expressions as they gazed at Zelda, and she was perplexed until she noticed her clothing felt different. She looked down at herself and saw that she was now wearing the formal dress and regalia of the royal family. She was no longer Sheik, the last remaining member of the Sheikah clan. She stood before them as Zelda, heir to the throne of Hyrule Kingdom.
“The princess…here?” Nabooru whispered in disbelief.
“Princess Zelda!” Kotake spat, her bulging eyes wide with anger.
“In a Sheikah disguise!” Koume drew back in surprise.
“What are you doing here, Your Highness?” Nabooru asked as she finally regained her composure. “You should be in Hyrule Castle!”
“My, my, my,” Koume purred, once again twirling her wand. “The princess has delivered herself to us free of charge! We’ve saved Ganondorf the trouble of finding her.”
“You have to run!” Nabooru exclaimed as she grabbed Zelda’s arm. “They’ll kill you!”
“Don’t be foolish, Nabooru,” Koume cooed as she floated closer. “That honor goes to Lord Ganondorf. We wouldn’t dare take the opportunity from him.”
“What are you waiting for, sister?” Kotake asked impatiently. “Let’s take her away already!”
“Stay back!” Nabooru prepared to strike again, but Zelda called out to her.
“Never mind them!” she shouted. “Remember the shadows!”
Nabooru hesitated, and at that moment, the witches struck. The circle around Zelda morphed into a black puddle of water, and she began to slowly sink into it.
“No!” Nabooru cried as she ran towards the puddle, and that was when Zelda saw it. One of the torches behind Koume flickered ever so slightly, just enough that she could make out a shadow leaping out at the witch. Koume cried out in agony as the shadow made contact, and she fell to the ground, instantly being reduced to ashes. Her broomstick clattered to the floor beside her.
“Sister!” Kotake cried as she raced to Koume’s side, hovering over her ashes in disbelief.
The shadow turned to Kotake, and Nabooru finally reached the puddle. Zelda continued to sink, but she could still see the shadow as it encircled Kotake. The witch’s screams echoed through the hall until they, too, were extinguished.
All was silent for a moment.
Nabooru helped Zelda rise up from the dark puddle, which evaporated into the air. Zelda looked down at herself and found that she was now wearing her Sheikah attire, her face once again hidden behind a white hood and cloth.
“Nabooru, you must leave,” Zelda turned to the Gerudo chief. “The Sage here refused to tell me who or what created that shadow, but it’s too dangerous for either of us to face now.”
They both turned at the sound of a hollow and ominous voice calling out to them.
“I am not a creation, spawn of Hylia,” the shadow spoke, sending a chill down Zelda’s spine. “I am more ancient than your kingdom and your heroes. Cast aside. Abandoned. Only a shadow, softer than any phantom.”
Zelda watched as the shadow’s form swirled around itself as it struggled to maintain its shape, flickering like candlelight. It paused as if trying to tether its feet to the floor, before taking on the shape of a man with a long cap, tunic, and a dark, twisted version of the Master Sword. It once again resembled a dark version of Link, but Ruto said this couldn’t have been the Hero of Time, that he could never be corrupted by the darkness.
“I don’t know why you take on that form,” Zelda held out her hand, her mind racing as she tried to figure out what spell would work out best. “I only seek to stop Hyrule from being covered in darkness. Ganondorf –“
One moment, the shadow was several feet away. Zelda blinked, and it had already crossed the distance between them, its sword at her throat. Zelda gasped, ready to be struck down before she could react. She fell to the floor as the shadow’s blade met something metallic-sounding. She looked up and saw Nabooru standing between them, her arms crossed with the shadow’s blade stuck to her gauntlets. Zelda inspected them and noticed they were silver-plated.
“You should have listened to me before,” she grunted as she struggled against the shadow’s strength “You have to get away from here, princess!”
She quickly uncrossed her arms, forcing the shadow to stumble backward. It swiftly recovered and brought its blade up again, and Nabooru prepared to meet it, once more fending off the attack with her silver gauntlets.
“Your Highness!” Nabooru called back to her as the shadow began hammering down on her gauntlets. “Your mother…she was one of the most respected women in the entire Gerudo tribe. I don’t know where the Arbiter’s Grounds are, but if anyone does it’s Ganondorf.”
Nabooru forced the shadow back again, and Zelda noticed the silver gauntlets were beginning to smoke as if they were being burned by the shadow’s sword. Nabooru almost lost her balance, and Zelda could tell she was beginning to tire.
“Nabooru, please!” Zelda pleaded. “Don’t worry about me! You have to leave before it’s too late!”
“She knew…” Nabooru panted as the shadow charged again. “She always knew he was nothing but a wicked soul…and I believed her…”
Zelda hesitated for a moment before stretching out her hand, willing the Goddess Harp to appear before her. If Nabooru wouldn’t stop fighting, Zelda would have to lead the shadow away from this place. She began strumming her harp, willing for the new melody to catch the phantom’s attention. It seemed to pause for a moment before speaking again.
“She once called light down to the surface. Now she is forgotten.”
Zelda watched as Nabooru fell to one knee as the shadow’s blade finally pierced her gauntlet and skin. The Gerudo chief cried out in pain, and Zelda felt her stomach tighten as she called out to her, willing for her to run away. The shadow lifted its blade one last time, and Nabooru lowered her hands in defeat. The phantom brought its blade down just as Zelda was finally swept away.
And she found herself plunging into the light, Nabooru’s screams still echoing in her ears.