The Familiar Shadow
Metamorphosis. Change. The universe is full of such things. The caterpillar and the butterfly. The tadpole and the frog. All around it is there, the changes that occur. No one takes notice, no one even questions why or how, they just accept that it is. But then why, when something so much similar comes along, do all the questions arise? In the midst of all the things that change, people, no matter where or who, always question, what turns a man into a monster?
Chapter One: A Realm At War
It was sometime past midnight, close to one in the morning. The radiance of the full moon shone forth onto the ground, but its rays were cut off by the black smoke that choked the very atmosphere of the realm. It clawed its way toward the sky, covering the world in a darkness worse than night. The black smoke came from the hundreds of raging fires in the land. Soldiers worked constantly to keep them under control, while the more able fought fiercely at the front of the battle line.
The clatter of metal and the thumping of iron shod hooves on dry, deadened grass was loud in the realm, and came from all over. No place was a safe haven, no place at all. Every area carried with it the same dangers, and indeed not one place that had experienced any period of peace in the past months had done so without bloodshed. But such was the way of war. Any great gain required an equal loss in most cases, this war no exception to the old cliché’.
The middle of the field was the center of all the chaotic battling, men proclaiming their liberty in hoarse voices and others crying out final prayers in hushed gasps as blades moved to silence them. Even the great predators of the land had desisted from journeying out in such conditions, favoring to hunt for food in the secluded forests and rivers where it was still safe. On the outskirts of the battle corpses were piled, leaving an awful stench that flowed with the wind, almost a warning of death to those fighting.
This was not a period of peace, it never had been. In history it is now referred to as The First Dark Age. Wars broke out constantly, the toll of death was higher in the last ten years than it had been in centuries before. There was no civilized way of life, no houses or shops, just tents and other camps formed in places that had clearings, most exclusively, the outskirts of the forest of Kokiri, just bordering the edge of the field of Hyrule.
Here a group of Hylias had set their camp, their permanent place for battle strategy and rest. Their stockpiling of weaponry had been cleverly hidden in a hole in the earth covered with twigs and leaves and such. The farthest back from the battle was where the sick and wounded were, resting on cots that had been set aside. Near to these were the women’s tents. They had little role in battle, and served mostly for cooking meals and treating wounds. Women were mostly looked down upon by other groups, but not the group of Hylias camped near the forest.
These men and women were very civilized, not at all like a savage tribe. They held their women in high esteem, and appearance meant much to them all. They wore neat clean clothing when not warring, and when battles broke out they wore only the most fitting, non rusted and otherwise perfect armor available. This group had been different from the other Hylia tribes forever, but this latest generation craved something more; a united nation.
They had elected a leader to carry them into what they believed would be the final war, a battle that has now gone down in the books as The Great War of Unity. The leader was a young man named Harkinarian, who carried a sword that generations far before him wielded. It could be called a katana in the most technical sense, and had a ring just below the hilt, where a piece of bright red tassel hung. It was his family’s sword, and he would indeed pass it down to all after him. Harkinarian was a good leader, very intelligent for his age. He knew battles well, and was a master mind at strategic fighting. The other Hylia tribes looked down upon this one tribe, changing their name to something more fitting, that had spread through the tribes like wildfire.
Due to their lack of respect for their ancestors, and for their lack of use in magic, these Hylia were now called Hylians, which in the ancient language, meant quite literally Forgotten Magic. But in truth this was wrong. A few (including Harkinarian) were quite able in magic, and enjoyed teaching the art whenever they got the time, however they found the blade more effective. The soldiers were all finely armed and armored, wearing silver armor inscribed with the Triforce, the symbol of providence in Hyrule. They all carried diamond shaped shields with the Triforce and the ancient Crimson Bird of legend inscribed on it, and these they happily called Hylian shields. The swords were standardized and non descript, metal blade and gold hilt, for at the time, gold was not rare in the least, and its value was not near as much as it is today.
The soldiers worked just as feverishly in the camps as they did on the battlefields, and it showed. Men passed out and fell to their knees from all the running they had been doing, and others were exhausted from the long hours involved in cutting down enough trees to make a proper fire. A soldier with dirty blonde locks of hair falling just down to his shoulders slowly walked through the camp. His sword and shield were at his side, and his armor had been penetrated in numerous places, but he was not one to complain about pain.
With a cry of joy a young woman with brown hair tied in a pony tail behind her back who was visibly pregnant ran as fast as her legs could carry her to the man. He embraced her with a smile as he slowly began to remove his broken armor and look for replacements.
“Melaki, you’re okay?” the woman asked in a concerned tone.
“Yes, yes my love….I’m fine, just a few wounds. I have been quite worried as to the condition of you and our child though I’m afraid,” Melaki answered.
“Ah, not to worry, I’ve been fine. They guard a pregnant women every hour of the day,” she said, laughing a bit. Melaki smiled.
“And what about Link, how is he?” Melaki asked.
“You know it might be a girl,” she said.
“Yes Maron, I suppose anything is possible, but the blood of a knight flows through the child’s veins…surely he’ll be a great knight too,” Melaki said.
“Melaki! We need you on the battleground now, they’ve started to gain an upper hand!” one of the generals of the Hylian army called out.
“Please…be careful,” Maron said with a saddened look. Melaki stepped forward, kissing the woman passionately, then stepping away slowly with a slightly dark look about him. She knew as well as he did. They probably wouldn’t see each other again.
“If ever you should get into trouble….enter the forest…mysterious and magical things are said to be there….to you I give my undying love forever…I hope to see you soon,” Melaki said, turning and running for the field, arming his weapons. She hoped to see him again as well, no matter how highly stacked against her the odds were.
To describe better the events of the battle that occurred in the Unity War at this time, one should understand a little more about the tribe the Hylians were fighting at the time the final battle came along. All of the other tribes settling in the farther reaches of Hyrule had surrendered after a few battles and warnings of things to come. The Hylians controlled every tribe but one, the Mukri’ tribe, residing in the north of Hyrule field, near the Temple of Time, the place where the Hylians intended to build a community.
The Mukri’ fought with a ferocity rarely seen in battles. They wore little clothing, grass and corn husks and very few animal skins roughly the whole of their outfits. They fought not with metal either, but with magic, and magically potent bones of animals. They served as the blades, shields, and even masks of the tribe. They normally wore pain about their faces, although the fiercer had instead either tattoos or blood as decoration. The leader of the Mukri’ tribe was a man named Oni, a tall, very muscular man with hair down to his back, and the skull of a Wolfos about his face. He carried with him a sword made of several bones, most noticeable a leg bone and jagged teeth tied to it. This was the tribe the Hylians now fought.
The sound of the battle was loud, and could likely be heard from even the camp so far away. Metal and bone clashed, and men died every minute, some pierced through the heart by blades, others decapitated, but one thing was certain now. Both sides intended to win, in whatever way possible. The battle slowly worked its way up the rising hill on Hyrule field, due to the ferocity in which the Mukri’ fought with. As the Hylians were pushed closer and closer to their camp, they fought more ferociously, wanting to avoid suffering their women and children the wrath of the Mukri’ at all costs.
Distracted from the main fight all around them, nobody noticed the small group of four Mukri’ tribesman quietly running toward the Hylian camp. Nobody except Melaki. He ran full speed toward the tribesman, weapons at the ready. The Hylian general would have voiced his displeasure at the man running off like that could he find the time to yell in the midst of the heated combat he was engaged in. several soldiers stayed behind at the camp in case of an attack, but it mattered not to Melaki. He could feel something dark brimming on the edges, a feeling he always got before something terrible happened.
“You five! What do you think you’re doing?” Melaki asked.
“…right now, we think we kill you, shiny Hylian,” the first Mukri’ said.
“Yes, we think you’s head make fine trophy atop bone sword,” the second said.
“We shall see,” Melaki said, in a ready stance. He tried to size up the enemies before him, hard as it was in the smoke clogged night. The first was short and very fat, but carried two swords. The next, while thinner, had only a wooden club. The third and fourth were obviously twins, and had large clubs, and the fifth and final was large, but not fat, and had with him a spear. The first ran quickly at Melaki, who promptly kicked him in the chest, which did little. The Mukri’ swung at him with both of his blades, the Hylian just barely ducking out of the way. Melaki ran at the Mukri’ now, and he backed up only a few inches, but it was enough to give him the opportunity to stab the tribesman in the chest. Melaki angrily pushed the man off his blade, not even taking time to wipe blood from his blade before running at the second.
This Mukri’ punched at Melaki and missed, but was more precise with his club, hitting Melaki across the face and knocking him to the ground. The tribesman took out a small dagger, and got to his knees, stabbing at Melaki. The Hylian rolled to the side, then onto one knee, and with a single powerful strike, he cut the tribesman’s leg out from under him. Blood spurted from the wound and the man cried out in agony, and Melaki silence him with a smile, stabbing him in the throat. The Mukri’s cries of pain mixed in with a sick gurgling sound were heard for several seconds, then he was finally silent.
The third and fourth tribe members angrily ran at Melaki, the Hylian slashing one in the chest and stabbing the other through. The man who had been stabbed fell to the ground instantly dead, while the other who had been slashed at struggled to his feet, punching Melaki in the face. Angrily, he grabbed the Mukri’ by the hair, slamming him into his shield, then slitting his throat. The fifth and final man ran at Melaki, stabbing at him. The Hylian stepped to the side, stabbing at the Mukri. He brought his spear shaft up, blocking the stab and countering with a solid hit to the Hylian with the wooden end of his spear.
Angrily, the Mukri’ stabbed Melaki in the shoulder, blood spilling from the wound. With a grunt of pain Melaki quickly broke the point of the spear, removing it from his skin and throwing it to the ground. He then tackled the tribesman to the ground, punching him several times in the face before stabbing him in the heart. He stood up slowly, and was for a second relieved, then, almost instantly the feeling was replaced with a sickened feeling.
In the distance Melaki could see black smoke rising from the direction of the camp, and the smell of burning flesh was carried with it throughout the air of Hyrule. He ran as quickly as his legs would carry him to the spot, and found his greatest fears to be true. The entire camp had been laid to waste, and the burning and bleeding bodies were piled in a great fire, save a few scattered dying men and women. Among these Melaki recognized Sagro, a man he had fought alongside in the early battles of the Unity War. The man bled profusely from the chest, but was alive enough to speak.
“Melaki!” he called out as loud as possible.
“Sagro…what happened?” Melaki asked in disbelief.
“…the Mukri’ came. It was a sneak attack…the Hylian army out there thinks that they’re fighting the whole army…but in truth, half of them came here and…killed everyone,” Sagro explained. Melaki’s heart sank.
“Everyone?” he asked slowly, tears welling up in his blue eyes.
“No….not everyone…there are those of us that were horribly wounded…Maron was one of them…but don’t worry…the baby was delivered safely…Maron wanted me to tell you….she knew she was going to die….but she’s heading for the forest…and that the baby’s….name is Link,” Sagro said.
“Heh….so it was a boy….” Melaki said slowly, in shock at the entire situation. Sagro’s head fell backward gently, and a peaceful look entered his expression.
“Sagro? …Sagro! Don’t do this to me! …damn Mukri’!!!” Melaki said angrily, falling to his knees. He would have sobbed at that moment, was he just a bit less angry. At length, after much contemplation and thought, he stood, and headed in the direction of the battlefield. He would kill the Mukri’ with his fellow Hylians, and the nation would be theirs. He was a soldier, and as long as he was in the Hylian army, he had a family, and a home. However, he was fighting now only for himself, a fact that would come back to haunt him…
“His name is Link,” the Great Deku Tree said in his deep voice.
“Is this the one spoken of?” Navi asked, fluttering about the tree.
“I know not…he has no mark about his hand…but…this is a child of great destiny nonetheless. His future will be important to Hyrule, whether he be the chosen or not…Anklo!” the Great Deku Tree called loudly. Quickly, a young Kokiri boy ran to the meadow of the Deku Tree.
“Yes, Great Deku Tree?” the boy asked with a smile.
“Take this baby to the tree house, there he will live from now on,” the Great Deku Tree instructed.
“But there’s already a baby there…surely you don’t want me to leave Saria out in the cold?” Anklo asked.
“Ha ha ha, you are a very caring young boy…no, I want you to let them both be together. When Saria is old enough we will give her the house next to the tree house, but until then, I think it wise to leave the small children together,” the Great Deku Tree said.
“Yes Great Deku Tree,” Anklo said, taking the baby boy in his arms and running off quickly.
“I do have a feeling the child is chosen though Navi. Nothing is certain, but it was no accident that he lived tonight I deem,” the Great Deku Tree said quietly.
“I hope so….I hope so,” Navi said slowly.