Zelda timed every movement carefully, willing herself to slow the steady buildup of magic in her system. Any wrong move, any unexpected surge in energy, and she’d be detected. She needed to steady her breathing as Impa had taught her.
She looked ahead from her hiding spot behind a jagged, slanted rock. The next time she moved, she’d be mere feet away from the Lon Lon Ranch tower. She spotted two sentries circling the top of the spire, the red feathers of their halberds glowing in the sun.
Zelda took another deep breath, waiting for a gust of wind to hide the sound of her footsteps as she dashed behind another slanted rock. As if on cue, the wind picked up. She counted down with her breath as she moved, making sure each step she took was as light as possible.
She was just a few paces away from another jagged rock when she came to an abrupt stop, her foot unwittingly kicking against a small stone. The noise was subtle, but the sentry atop the tower seemed to notice.
“Who’s there?” she called, turning in Zelda’s direction, or at least where she would have been. Thankfully, Zelda had managed to make it to her new hiding spot, avoiding outright detection. She sighed. Was it nerves? She shook her head in frustration.
Peering around, she found she was mere inches away from the splintered wood, dirt, and metal shards that made up what used to be the ranch’s fence. Now it was just a useless pile of rubble. She caught sight of the massive brown boulders that made up the foundation of one of the ranch’s walls. All she had to do was get past them and the tower, and she’d make it. Zelda took another deep breath and squatted down, trying to make herself as small as possible.
She counted the seconds in her head; one…two…three…
At the count of ten, Zelda jumped forward and dashed behind yet another slanted rock. She felt her foot catch on a jagged piece of metal and tried to compose herself as she fought to keep her balance, but the sentry’s eyes snapped toward her.
“You there!” The guard shouted, her deep voice echoing loud enough to be heard from any part of Hyrule Field. “Stop where you are!”
Zelda’s heart sank as she turned and raced toward a nearby woodpile. She felt like she was running in slow motion, her mind racing to think of a way out. Her heart pounded against her chest while she thought about her options, but none of them would save her in time.
“HALT!” The sentry shouted, but Zelda didn’t have the time to stop. She prayed that her speed would be enough to outpace them, but her heart sank as she heard the sharp clink of metal against metal. She didn’t have to look back to know that another Gerudo sentry, one of the ground patrols, had drawn her scimitar and was already closing the distance between the two of them.
This guard raised her scimitar high into the air, preparing to strike. Zelda closed her eyes as the guard brought her scimitar down, certain the blade would render flesh. To the guard’s immediate surprise, it was met with a blue, translucent wall.
Zelda had called upon the favor of Nayru, one of the three golden goddesses. The spell blocked the guard’s blow, but that didn’t stop Zelda from feeling the impact of the blade striking her shield. She reflexively took a step back, gritting her teeth as the guard struck the shield again and again. From her peripheral, she could see more guards running towards her from nearly every angle.
“Tell us who you are and why you’re trespassing in Gerudo territory!” Another guard, presumably the first one who spotted her, demanded, her dark green eyes glinting with both rage and curiosity. Zelda stared back at her, refusing to speak.
The guard paused, taking a moment to consider Zelda’s face. If there was a wind goddess, she had a strange sense of humor. A powerfully ill-timed gust blew her hood from over her head, uncovering long, golden hair tied up in a neat braid.
“The princess!” The guard in front of her shouted. “Dressed like a common thief!”
Zelda jumped back, placing more distance between herself and the surrounding guards. She took another deep breath. She didn’t want to use more magic than she had to and risk giving away her location. Looking around, she counted five warriors, while she was certain the other sentry circling the top of the spire was alerting the Kakariko Tower. Soon, reinforcements would be on their way.
She’d have to fight all of them using only Impa’s training and sheer luck.
Her opponent swiped at her again, but this time her scimitar met the blade of Zelda’s kodachi, gifted to her by Impa for completing her training proper. Zelda dodged the next blow and then delivered a firm kick to the woman’s knee, knocking her down. As she tried to get back up, Zelda struck the back of her neck with the flat of her blade, putting her out.
One down, four to go.
The remaining guards didn’t waste any time. They immediately closed ranks and spread out to surround her. A quick swipe from one of the sentries’ scimitars nearly struck Zelda, but she managed to dodge it in time before dispatching the guard with another swift strike with the flat of her blade.
Zelda looked behind her, gauging the distance between herself and her remaining opponents. It was a lot smaller than she would have liked, but it didn’t matter. She took a deep breath and braced herself. She needed to focus on the next guard before she could worry about the rest.
The sentry nearest her leaped without warning, her scimitar held high in the air. Zelda brought her kodachi up to block the attack, but she wasn’t prepared for the power behind it. Her wrist shook in its socket. The guard’s attack wasn’t anything special in terms of technique, but her strength was enough to overwhelm Zelda.
She tried to follow through with a kick, but the sentry dragged her blade down Zelda’s kodachi before quickly knocking it away. Zelda watched as her weapon spun across the ground. These warriors were a lot more cunning than she’d expected.
The guard grinned in triumph before lunging at Zelda, who sidestepped the attack and kicked her in the back of the knee. She dropped to the ground, and Zelda used the opportunity to snatch the scimitar from her hand. She knocked the guard out with the handle of its blade before retrieving her kodachi.
Three down, two to go.
The remaining two guards, realizing their comrades had been easily dispatched, went for Zelda’s legs, trying to bring her down like a bucking horse. One of them struck her shin with the hilt of her scimitar, while another caught Zelda in the stomach with a well-aimed kick. Zelda dropped to one knee and struck outwards with Impa’s training sword, but her blade was met with a scimitar and parried away.
Realizing she was now wide open, she flipped backwards as the guards held their ground. Taking a breath, she reached deep inside of herself. Immense power started bubbling up, pulsing through her blood like a mighty river. Lifting her arms into the air, she called out to Din. The Goddess of Power’s essence flooded into her, making Zelda feel both exhausted and exhilarated at the same time.
She stood up and thrusted the palm of her hand forward. A small globe of orange light materialized before her, gliding over towards the guards, who watched it with confusion. Zelda then balled up her fist, igniting the globe into a blaze just before it reached her assailants. The earth before them exploded into an inferno, a cover Zelda could use to escape.
She turned to make her way towards the gates of Hyrule Castle and was startled by a large black horse with red eyes and matching black barding, giving it the appearance of having onyx-colored dragon scales. It stood much too calmly for a horse, eyeing Zelda as if it had been standing there the entire time, politely waiting for her to finish her affairs. Zelda wanted to run around it, to still try to make it to Hyrule Castle undetected, but she knew there was no point now. Because sitting atop the horse was none other than Ganondorf himself.