HYRULE CASTLE – As the King of Red Lions descended, Link closed his eyes and held his breath. The crimson, maned boat sank slow and straight in the water, like a stone, suspended inside the wide column of light. The water felt unusually, pleasantly warm. He opened his eyes expecting a familiar sting, but he saw clearly under the water. When he finally gasped for air, instead of choking, he found he could breathe normally. And while Link pondered the strangeness of his surroundings, scanning the towers and spires of the castle growing quickly underfoot, a strong, unambiguous feeling overtook him.
I’ve been here before.
The words came forward like an answer. It was an odd, fleeting memory. When the wooden vessel touched down in a shallow castle pool, Link felt light-headed. He stepped out unsteadily, failing to notice that, somehow, they were no longer under water.
“You are probably wondering where we are, aren’t you?” asked the King of Red Lions, swinging its carved figurehead towards his young passenger. “Unfortunately, there is not enough time for me to explain to you now. Once you are able to strike down Ganon with the item you obtain in this castle, all will be made clear to you.”
Not enough time to explain?
“Trust in my words! See what awaits you in the castle!”
Link waded through the shallow pool and climbed the short, winding steps to the stone hallway leading inside. What awaits me in the castle, he thought, will probably try to kill me. Link paused and wiped his brow. The shadows at the end of the walkway were unsettling. He fixed the ancestral shield on his back and tiptoed towards the castle, straining to move noiselessly. Approaching the portal, he pressed himself against the wall and inched into the darkness. At the end of the long, black corridor, Link saw light, and silhouetted in its glow was a familiar figure.
The hulking, porcine foot soldier loomed in the center of the narrow opening. Link crouched low in the shadows and, from his vantage point, saw that the passageway opened into a room behind the grunt. He had used stealth to survive in the Forsaken Fortress, hiding in barrels and moving under the cover of darkness, and yet he had still been captured. Link waited again, hopeful the sentry would continue its patrol. However, as minutes passed, it became clear to him that there was only one way forward. Link quietly drew his bow.
Nock. Draw. Aim. Loose.
The arrow missed wide and disappeared behind the enemy. A bead of flop sweat slid down Link’s face. He nocked another arrow and fired hastily, this time falling short. His eyes watered, and hot blood pounded in his ears. Link swung the bow over his shoulder and drew his sword, strangling the hilt of the blade. He waited like cornered prey. Then, after what seemed like a very long time, the young hero allowed himself another thought.
Is that a... statue?
He squinted his almond-shaped eyes. Sword in hand, Link advanced cautiously towards the end of the hall. He picked up a fallen arrow from the ground, his second embarrassing misfire, and frowned as he dropped it into his quiver. It was further off than he had expected.
Link slowed his approach, coming only as close as he needed to see the motionless figure’s face. It was not a statue, he confirmed with a start. The brute’s yellow, slitted eyes shone dimly. Its open, cavernous mouth revealed a fearsome arrangement of large, flat teeth. The moblin was alive or, at least, not obviously dead. All the same, it did not move.
Link drew closer, nervously pointing his sword ahead of his body, and prodded his weapon at the beast’s stomach. The sword tip stopped hard. He swung the blade at the moblin’s chest. The sword recoiled on impact, knocking him to the ground. Link climbed to his feet and marched toward the enemy again. He scrutinized the moblin’s pig-like face, which was twisted into an expression of cruel surprise, and scowled.
His mind returned to the Forsaken Fortress. He touched the spot on his head where he had been throttled with the butt of a spear. It was still tender. After a moment of hesitation, Link edged warily around the guard, through the threshold into the great hall.
Once inside, he stood atop a staircase draped by a scarlet runner threaded with gold. Majestic arcades, formed with an unfamiliar, white stone, lined the sides of hall’s vast expanse. Link parted his lips in awe. It was the largest room he had ever seen. In the room’s center, facing away in the distance, a colossal statue raised a sword to the sky.
But he was also not alone. Around and below him, more than a dozen armored knights and moblins stood, with weapons drawn but stock-still, as if time had suddenly stopped.
What is this place?
Link took a deep breath and descended the stairs, checking side-to-side with every step. He passed a giant in polished, white armor. Through its great helm, blood-red eyes glimmered. Link caught his reflection in the knight’s jagged broadsword.
As he reached the base of the steps, Link surveyed his surroundings. High above him, two grand portraits hung from the rear wall: a solemn king in a red cloak and what appeared to be a family portrait. His eyes lingered on a young, blonde girl with blue eyes seated in the center of the painting. She reminded him of someone.
Link walked down another flight of stairs, searching for answers. He headed toward the statue in the center of the room, which grew taller with each stride. When he finally reached the face of the monument, Link froze. His skin prickled. He dropped his sword to the ground.
Is that... me?
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