Zelda and Impa stared at the bottomless pit that prevented them from progressing further into the temple’s depths. Zelda grabbed Impa’s hand, and the Sheikah didn’t even react as the two were transported across the pit to the other side. A wall stood before them with a face sporting a twisted, wicked smile carved into its surface.
“Don’t be fooled here,” Impa said, and Zelda watched as she walked towards the wall, certain the Sheikah would run right into it. Instead, Impa phased through it as if it wasn’t there at all. Zelda followed, but as she passed through she heard a voice whisper to her.
“Shadow Temple…Here is gathered Hyrule’s bloody history of greed and hatred.”
Zelda wrapped her arms around herself as she stumbled into the next room. Impa stood facing her, her expression unreadable in the dim light.
“Zelda, you must remain strong,” she said. “The spirits of those who died in this place are still here, and they will try to break you.”
Zelda took a deep breath and nodded. Impa was right, she could feel the anger and resentment of the spirits all around her. She steeled herself and followed the Sheikah deeper into the temple.
They made their way through the winding halls, avoiding traps and fighting off the Skulltulas that tried to stop them. Impa led the way, and Zelda realized she must know this place like the back of her hand. They soon reached a massive, cavernous chamber where the ground looked to have collapsed in on itself.
Zelda yelped as Impa slashed the air right above her head. A shriveled, decaying hand dropped to the ground, flailing about in an attempt to reach her before bursting into flames and disappearing. Impa sheathed her sword before turning to face ahead.
“We’re going to need you to get us past the guillotines,” she pointed to the large, blades hanging down from the ceiling. “It will be faster if you teleport us past all of them to the other side.”
Zelda nodded, once more invoking the power of Farore to whisk them away to safety. They materialized on a large platform, and Impa immediately took out her blade again.
“Watch out!” she called as a figure dropped down from the ceiling. A skeleton, wearing rusted armor, swung its sword at them. Zelda leaped out of the way as Impa parried the blow. A Stalfos! Zelda readied her kodachi, but Impa was already on the offensive.
The Sheikah danced around the enemy, her sword a blur as she struck again and again, until the Stalfos was driven back, its armor battered and broken. It let out a final howl of rage before crumbling to dust. Impa turned to face Zelda, sheathing her sword once again.
“Zelda,” she spoke calmly. “I spent many years training you in the ways of the Sheikah, but I never intended for you to use any of it. Yet now, standing here, you must use what I have taught you about moving through the shadows.”
She stepped towards the edge of the platform, peering down into the abyss, before looking back at Zelda.
“I’m sorry,” she shook her head, “but we have little time. We must jump.”
Zelda hugged herself as the realization sank in. The darkness below them seemed endless, and falling down such a massive and deep chasm would normally guarantee death. She shivered as she closed her eyes, imagining the horrors that awaited her. She could still feel the restless spirits all around them, waiting, hoping she would fail and soon join them in their foul existence.
“Zelda, we must hurry.”
Zelda took a deep breath, summoning whatever courage she had left, and stepped towards the edge. She could feel Impa’s hand on her shoulder, providing a small measure of comfort. Then she was falling, plummeting into the darkness.
For a moment, all was silent. She felt weightless as if she were floating in an endless sea of black. Then she slowly exhaled, allowing all her senses to converge. The shadows would be her ally at this moment, allowing her to reach safety. They would not betray her so long as she released herself and maintained her focus. She would land where the shadows deemed necessary. All that was left was to trust them.
In an instant, she was no longer falling. She stumbled as whatever she was standing on sunk downward before springing back up again. She looked over to see Impa watching her; the Sheikah nodded in approval.
“You paid close attention,” she said. “Though, I expected nothing less.”
Zelda examined her surroundings, including the odd structure she was standing on, and determined it to be a ferry of sorts. Impa stepped forward, pointing towards a Triforce symbol etched into the floor.
“Announce your presence, and it will lead you to the Sage’s chamber,” Impa explained.
Zelda hesitated for a moment before finally stepping forward and standing over the Triforce symbol. She closed her eyes, praying to the Golden Goddesses for assistance. Within seconds, she felt the magic coursing through her veins, and the ferry began to push forward against invisible currents.
“Now stand back,” Impa drew her sword as two more Stalfos dropped down from above. Zelda did as she was told, moving to the other side of the ferry as Impa engaged the enemies. The undead warriors wielded their swords with precision and skill, yet Impa was able to deflect each and every attack.
The Sheikah was a whirlwind of deadly steel, her blade moving so fast she could hardly see it. The Stalfos were no match for her, and soon they too were nothing more than dust. Impa turned back to Zelda, satisfied that the way was clear. The ferry continued to make its way along the invisible river until it finally stopped.
“Now jump!” Impa shouted as she leaped from the ferry. It began to sink into the bottomless trench below, but not before Zelda was able to jump to safety.
She landed awkwardly, stumbling as she tried to keep her balance. Impa was there to steady her, and together they made their way towards the entrance to the Sage’s chamber. When they reached the door, Zelda noticed Impa wasn’t standing next to her. She turned to see the Sheikah facing the direction of where the ferry had fallen into the trench, her sword at the ready.
She could see Impa shake her head, clutching her sword tightly. Zelda’s stomach dropped as realization dawned on her.
“Impa, no!” Zelda pleaded. “If it comes, we’ll both fight it. You don’t have to face it alone!”
“It’s my duty, Zelda,” Impa said softly, trying to keep her voice from trembling. “You must go on without me.”
“I don’t care about your duty!” Zelda shouted, wanting to snatch Impa’s sword from her and drag her into the Sage’s chamber. “I…I can’t watch anyone else die!”
“Did you think everyone would live when you set out on this journey?”
Zelda opened her mouth, but her voice caught in her throat as her vision blurred. She struggled to fight back tears as she looked at Impa. If she left now…if Impa didn’t go into the Sage’s chamber with her…
“You are a fine young woman,” Impa said as if she could read Zelda’s thoughts. “You have the courage of your father and the strength of your mother. I know you will succeed. Now go!”
Zelda reached out, tears streaming down her face, before pulling back. She turned around and approached the door ahead, pausing to wipe her face clean. Whatever horrors waited ahead, she had to face them. If not for her duty as a princess, then for her desire to protect those she cared about.
She was taught to trust the shadows, but she would also war with them if that was what it took.