Sin of Sheikari: Chapter 17

Sins Revealed

Zelda wasted no time as the door closed behind her, her heart racing as her head whipped around, searching for the best spot to call forth the Sage of Shadow. She nearly resolved to summon her harp when she looked down at the floor, noticing a small hole.

She sighed. It was as if the temple was designed to test one’s ability to sink further into the darkness. She steeled herself and leaped down, trusting in her instincts that there would be a bottom. She was right and found herself in another enormous hall atop a slightly bouncy platform. She stood still for a moment, waiting for the floor to settle, before calling for her harp. It appeared in her hands, and she once again strummed it, the new melody escaping her fingertips as if it had been waiting for countless ages to be heard.

Tendrils of fuchsia-colored light snaked their way out of the floor, caressing Zelda as they gathered before her, merging into the figure of a man. Unlike the other four wise men, he didn’t look old at all save for his white hair, which was tied in a low ponytail long enough to sweep the floor. He was very tall and muscular with sharp features. He regarded Zelda for a moment, neither confused nor concerned.

“It appears you’ve seen it,” he said finally, his voice like cold water dripping in a cave. “The shadow we entered an eternal slumber to contain.”

He moved closer to her, and Zelda instinctively stepped back.

“You must tell me what it is!” she demanded. “It has followed me my entire journey, speaking to me about the Sheikah, taking on the form of the Hero of Time, calling me a spawn of Hylia. I have even watched it kill! Please! How can I stop it?”

“You cannot,” the man said plainly before turning away from her. “Even our brief slumber wasn’t enough to seal it away forever. Though I suppose that was to be expected.”

Zelda froze, certain all the color was draining from her face. What did he mean she couldn’t stop it? There had to be a way to at least slow it down. “What are you saying? It truly can’t be defeated?”

He turned to face Zelda again. “I am Odan, the Sage of Shadow, and I will tell you the truth. Then, you must run from here, complete your quest, and allow us to sleep once more.”

With that, the room faded until they once again were in the Chamber of Sages, the waterfalls offering little semblance of tranquility following Odan’s declaration. The Sage slowly rose up from the Shadow symbol in the pool of water.

Zelda closed her eyes, clasping her hands together as if in prayer. She had to know if it was truly impossible to defeat something that was capable of causing so much death and destruction.

The images of Koume and Kotake being reduced to dust, accompanied by Nabooru lowering her arms in defeat as the shadow closed in on her, caused Zelda to shiver. She looked over at Odan, who seemed to be trying to read her thoughts.

“There…” he began before pausing. He took a deep breath before continuing, “was once a goddess who walked the earth among us. Few know who she is in this age, but she once saved us from a great evil, the most ancient one of all.”

Zelda shivered again as she realized he must be talking about Hylia.

“She was tasked with guarding the Triforce by the Golden Goddesses,” Odan continued. “And she did for countless ages. Her name was Hylia, and you are her reincarnation.”

Zelda gasped. “I am…a reincarnation of a goddess?”

Odan sat cross-legged on top of the Shadow symbol, something that was both disconcerting and fascinating to look at, though he kept his eyes trained on Zelda. “Long ago, when Hyrule was still a wild and untamed land, a great evil rose from the earth, seeking to claim the Triforce. Hylia gathered her chosen people and sent them skyward along with the Triforce. However, not all humans went off into the sky. Two tribes stayed behind to fight alongside Hylia, who sealed the ancient evil away. Those two tribes were the Sheikah…and the Sheikari.”

Zelda frowned, trying to recall the name from any of her studies. “The Sheikari?”

Odan nodded. “While the Sheikah excelled in the art of combat, disguise, and technology, the Sheikari were masters of the mystical arts. It was they who placed the Triforce in the Sacred Realm for protection, choosing to hide its existence for eternity. They served as the guardians of the Golden Land, believing the Triforce should never be used by anyone.”

Zelda’s brow furrowed. So the Sheikari were able to enter the Sacred Realm even though they weren’t Sages? Their magic must have been incredibly powerful.

“The kingdom of Hyrule was established,” Odan went on, “and soon word of the Triforce spread across the land, causing countless wars over ownership of the golden relic. Tensions between the Sheikah and Sheikari tribes deteriorated. The Sheikari believed man did not deserve to approach the Triforce, while the Sheikah believed the Golden Goddesses would one day choose a member of the royal family to protect it. The Sheikah aligned with the Hylians, and the Sheikari, fearing it would lead to nothing but calamity, tried to use their magic to establish dominion over the Sacred Realm. They felt the Goddesses would allow this, but they were blind…”

Zelda instantly remembered Mison’s words from before.

“Serenades are so romantic, aren’t they?” yet his smile never reached his eyes. He had faded away before she could answer, and she knew now that he must have wanted it that way. She sighed. So, it was the Sheikari…

“The Goddesses declared them to be the Dark Interlopers, traitors to all who walked in the light,” Odan’s voice shook with anger as he spoke before he quickly recomposed himself. “The King of Hyrule, seeing his chance to rid the land of evil and unify all kingdoms under one banner, gathered six wise men with knowledge of the Sacred Realm and how to enter it. I along with Rauru, Mison, Grig, Abnar, and Nove entered the Chamber of Sages, and we…”

Zelda gasped, covering her mouth. No! They didn’t…

“We destroyed the Sheikari inside…”

Zelda fell to her knees, the water splashing around her as if it were taunting her. It couldn’t be true. The Sages were pure protectors of the Sacred Realm and the light, not murderers. No matter what the king wanted, they would never do something like that. She’d never known the Sages to be anything but kind and just.

If Odan noticed how stricken she looked, he said nothing, choosing to continue his confession. “The Sheikari had once built a temple meant to worship Hylia. When the goddesses abandoned them, many fled right away, but some remained in the sanctuary. The King of Hyrule ordered the Sheikah to find and eliminate all the remaining Sheikari, and the Sheikah obeyed, believing that their duty was to continue to protect Hylia’s reincarnation. They went to the Temple of Hylia and…slaughtered all who were inside, and do you know what became of that temple?”

Zelda’s mouth was dry, and she could only shake her head, refusing to acknowledge what he was implying. He couldn’t mean…

Odan nodded. “You are standing in it. This place has become a cavernous pit of filth and malice, but its true name is the Temple of Hylia.”

“No!” Zelda cried. She refused to believe it. This couldn’t be the same place, this nest of foul whispers, traps, and invisible passageways. “This pit of death and festering refuse cannot be the Temple of Hylia! You jest!”

“I do not jest,” Odan shook his head. He opened his mouth to speak again, but his voice caught in his throat. He continued, his voice growing hoarse. “It was defiled, and we were forbidden to speak of its existence. And once that was decided, we Sages were tasked with leading the knights of Hyrule deep into the desert, where the remaining Sheikari had taken refuge in a place known as the Arbiter’s Grounds. There, we called upon the Golden Goddesses, who sent forth the Light Spirits Faron, Eldin, and Lanayru to banish those Dark Interlopers.”

Zelda wanted to renounce his words more, but she paused, waiting to hear more about the Arbiter’s Grounds. Her mother had disappeared into the night, racing to the desert alone. Was the demise of the Sheikari what she’d seen in her vision?

Zelda shook her head. No, it had to be more than that. After all, if she’d seen a vision of the past, that wouldn’t have been reason enough to set off on her own. No, perhaps she hadn’t seen the past at all but the future.

She could have seen that the seal wouldn’t hold the Sheikari.

Odan paused for a moment before continuing “We knew the darkness we left behind, the darkness we helped create, would one day take form and eradicate all who lived, so we chose to seal it away through eternal slumber. We hoped one day, if the Sacred Realm was in peril, that new Sages would be awakened. We had no desire to enter the realm of light ever again.”

Zelda wrapped her arms around herself as she tried to make sense of everything Odan was saying. It couldn’t be true. If the Sages were supposed to be chosen by the Sacred Realm, how could any of this have happened? How could these men continue to hold their status?

Nove’s tale of the Forest Temple’s origins echoed through her mind. “This place was once a lush, empty meadow where the fae gathered undisturbed. That was until men entered it, seeking a place to build a stronghold for war.”

Grig had called her naive in the Fire Temple for wanting to free the people of Hyrule from their shackles under Ganondorf. “We believe there are those of us who can serve no purpose other than pure evil. So we lock or seal them away to keep them from those we deem worthy of being in our society.”

“Do you understand now?” Odan broke Zelda’s contemplation, his voice softening slightly. “The Sheikari may have been branded as Dark Interlopers, but they are also our sin. And ours alone to endure.”

Zelda opened her mouth, but no words came out. She didn’t know what to say or how to feel. Abnar had been afraid to tell her the truth, and now she was beginning to understand why he’d left it up to Odan.

“This Ganondorf…do what you must to save Hyrule,” Odan finally stood, his back to her. “Then, you must allow us to return to our slumber, to renew the seal on our sin and prevent an even greater catastrophe.”

It was then that Zelda found her voice, her body growing hot as she clenched her fists. She took a step forward, and Odan turned to face her, his expression one of resignation.

“I have one question for you,” she spoke, her voice shaking with anger.

“Yes, my child,” Odan responded calmly.

“Why do any of you deserve to sleep?”