Forest of Autumn Twilight, Prologue
TEASER: This story takes place many years before Link’s call and awakening to the Great Deku Tree, requesting him to save the land of Hyrule. Everything seems perfectly normal in Hyrule, but that soon changes when the king decides to invade the children of the Kokiri Forest and disturb their presence among the races of Hyrule. But before this even happens, an unsettling council has Fado (the dead Sage from The Wind Waker) and Saria cautious of the worst that could come from the act that the council has decided to take upon. Meanwhile, in the beginning, rightful commander and a warlord under the king, Coran and his command receive an alarming mission that shocks them all: invading the Gerudo Valley and Fortress that hangs within west of the castle, off of the army’s usual range. More is soon unraveled as the Kokiri Forest is turned dramatically over a short amount of time and soon the Forest of Autumn Twilight awakens...
Forest of Autumn Twilight
The Hylians named the forest Gwn Nerkdessha—the Forest of Sorrow. None of the other races that inhabited the peaceful and prosperous land of Hyrule had walked near or entered by their own free will. Those who entered did it because they were in desperation, in need, or did it because their commanding officer had told them to.
They had been hearing the cries and yells of joyful children for a few moments as their advance brought them nearer and nearer to the demented forest, though they actually never entered, they moved along briskly, but in a fashionable way. The cries, which weren’t very distinguishable, still echoed through the wood and out into the field beyond. The cries were a lament, a place for fun and good times to be had, a haven of peace and bliss.
On first hearing the cries of joy and carefree, the Knights clutched the reins of their steed, withdrawing their swords and brandishing them as if a monster or who knows what might come out after them. They stared at the area all around them, uneasy about the voices, crying “Come out!” and “Who goes there?”
But no answer came. No one stepped out in the daylight. The Knights looked uneasily at their commander, who was standing up in his stirrups, inspecting the grassy fields that lay before them on their right and left side.
“It is nothing,” he said at last. “It is simply the wind, carrying voices of children from the market. Proceed.”
He urged his mount forward along the sandy path, which ran, galloping along the straightforward path that lay long and winding ahead of them. The men that were under his command followed in a single file orderly fashion, their performance was reflected afterwards to the king.
“I have heard about that forest, my lord,” said one Knight gruffly, “and it is said that danger awaits within, even though it is occupied by the Kokiri. My intuition tells me that we should stay away from it. We would do well to heed it.”
“Nonsense!” Leader Coran Endel swung around in his saddle to glare at his scout and secondhand, who walked behind him. “Superstitious rubbish! But then you cals are noted for clinging to old, outmoded ways and ideas. It is time you entered the modern times of glory. The beasts and gods are gone and good riddance, I say. We Hylians have claimed power in this land.”
Coran kicked his mount in the sides and urged it to go on. He galloped on down the path for about a half a mile when it occurred to him that there were no hooves that he could hear, pounding the earth beneath them. He glanced over his shoulder to see that he was proceeding alone. None of his men had followed him.
Furious and agitated, Coran turned and galloped back to his command. He found almost half of his patrol group dismounted, the other half sat in their saddles inspecting their mounts that appeared to be shivering from the voices of the children.
“These stupid beasts have smarter brains than their masters,” Coran said angrily under his breath. Few horses will allow a cal to sit upon their backs and ride for them and fewer probably couldn’t even hold one up, considering how tall and built the cals were.
Coran sat upon his horse, facing his men. He was a tall, thin man, the type whose bones seemed to be full of calcium and vitamins, for he was definitely stronger then he originally looked. His eyes were dark and dank, full of coldness, without intelligence. He was well noted for his cruelty and—many would say his mindless—discipline.
“You will mount your horses and follow after me,” said Leader Coran coldly, “or I will report each and every one of you to the king. I will accuse all of you of cowardice and not following my lead. As you very well know, the penalty for even one of those counts is dishonorable discharge, and you know what that means.”
“Can and is he really allowed to do that?” whispered a newly made Knight, who was on his first assignment.
“He can,” returned the veterans grimly, “and believe us, he will.”
The Knights remounted and urged their steeds’ forward, kicking slightly at their sides. Coran glared at his squadron of fools and turned his mount as well, galloping down the path. He looked over his shoulder and was for once pleased to see that his command was following him briskly from behind.
This is too easy, just one simple command and they’re shaking in their armor, Coran thought smugly. But one thing bothers me, why did the king give us this assignment? He looked around uneasily as they made their way up and around a bend, hooves pounding the ground; earth flying up from the greenest grass in all of Hyrule. Why did the king want us to go to the Gerudo Valley? Did he want us dead? Coran shook his head at this and told himself, “No, that can’t be it...” Everybody knows what the Gerudos do if they catch an outsider entering their fortress. Why?
Coran though about this as they were nearing the fence that blocked the entrance to the valley. Well, whatever the case, he wasn’t going to disobey the king’s orders. As they slowly approached the fence, the men looked about uneasy and cautiously looking up to the rusty colored cliffs on each side of them. Even Coran looked up at them uneasily. Somehow, he was expecting a Gerudo archer to raise their knotted, wooden bow over the edge on top of the cliff, prepare their equally wooden arrow, and finally pierce one of the knights with the sharp, arrowhead, or even him, for that matter.
After a few heartbeats, they waited, but nothing came. Coran himself thought this action was very odd. Since when do the Gerudos leave no scout up on top of the cliffs, gazing out at the field and alerting the others? This was very strange. Could it be that they were expecting them? Could they have seen them and just pulled back into the heart of the valley, waiting for them? All of these questions drifted in Coran’s mind.
Still, the Knights and himself could indeed be killed, even though they were wearing armor. Their heads were visible, as open as the sun up in the sky during midday. The king took the idea of not wearing helmets, because of the weight and it would wear and hold them down, that would be added on with the rest of their armor.
Clutching his pride, Coran placed his right hand at the hilt of his sword and held onto it, but didn’t draw it. Coran didn’t show it, but he himself was afraid. He wasn’t expecting a mission like this. Most of the time when it involved a really dangerous act, he would go do one part, the part that didn’t involve getting hurt or killing himself. He was truly a selfish commander.
Letting go of the hilt of his sword, Coran gripped the reins of his steed, his boots digging deep into the horse’s skin, causing bloody gauges on the sides. Looking briefly at the sight before him, he determined it was safe and shouted, trying to encourage his squadron, “Knights! Let us move on and make our way into this—this heap of rusted rock!” he roared.
Many of the men weren’t really encouraged by this, the horses in fact, weren’t either. Coran kicked his steed in the sides and off his horse galloped, jumping a few feet over the old and knotted wooden fence, picketed in front of the entrance, to warn outsiders. The men followed suite of their commander, kicking the sides of their steed, jumping over the fence, and off, following close behind Coran, into the hearth of the valley.
Coran continued forward, gritting his teeth, eyes watering from the sudden blast of wind that filled the valley. Truly, this was suicide. Going into the middle of the Gerudos’ territory was a fine example of a slaughter. But, Coran assumed that the king wanted the Knights to flush out these filthy, thieving scum and have them thrown in the dungeons. But what if the king wanted him and his command dead? But, that couldn’t be the case; Coran was one of his best generals, almost top of the line.
Leaving the matter behind, Coran saw ahead of him the rickety old and knotted wooden bridge. On his approach to the bridge, his horse automatically reared and almost bucked him off the back. “Hie!” he yelled in the horse’s ear, trying to calm the stupid beast down. This attempt, however, didn’t work. Instead, the horse kept whinnying and trying to buck its master off. “Hie!” Coran yelled angrily. As with the time before, it didn’t listen. This time, Coran took action. He dug his boots harder into the skin, making the gauges open up fresh and start bleeding freely. This seemed to calm the horse down.
Many of the Knights clamored around Coran to see if he was all right.
"Are you all right, sir?" one Knight asked.
“Of course I am!” he snapped back, glaring at them all. “The damn beast is afraid of the cliff dropping off!”
He dismounted and walked up to the edge of the cliff, below he could see and hear a roaring river of crystal clear, blue water, ravaging the sides of the rusty cliffs. Many Knights wondered what he was doing, but didn’t dare ask or move. Slowly, Coran heaved his heavy head up and looked at the pathetic bridge that lay before him and his men. Truly, these desert scum were all rags and full of filth, having to steal, just to live off of themselves.
Coran swung around on his heal and faced his men, glaring at them all. His command stood stiff, from head to boot, awaiting his orders. Though not crazy about the idea of crossing the old bridge, the men were trying to act all the way. This, however, didn’t phase Coran; he walked among his legion, pacing back and forth among those in front of the others. After a fourth time back and forth, he stopped among the men and looked at them all, still glaring smugly.
“Listen up, men!” he yelled over the roar of the thrashing river below. “We will cross this rickety old bridge and make camp on the other side!” Many were especially uneasy about his. Camping right outside of the territory of the Gerudos? “It is twilight, as you can see,” he continued, holding a stiff hand, his index finger pointed to the west, “I want my tent set up near that huge boulder over there,” he said briskly, moving his hand to a boulder twice his size across the bridge. “You buffoons may set up your tent anywhere in that area, not across the bridge over here...Now come! Let us set up before this valley gets as dark as my black hair itself!”
After making his demands, the men grumbled, half of them slumped in their mounts, the other half frowning and shaking their heads, unsure about the situation. Seeing this, Coran grew furious, his veins stood out on his neck and face. “That is an order!” he roared.
The half on foot sighed and clamored back onto their mounts, while the remaining half urged their steeds forward, coming up beside Coran, who had already remounted his horse. “Everyone will follow after me, in single file,” he said curtly. “This bridge is weak and old, we don’t want any accidents, now do we?” he asked his command shortly. None of his men answered or stepped forward. “No? Well, let us move on!”
It would be a shame to lose some men or a horse for that matter, he thought as he moved ever closer to the edge of the bridge; his steed eyed it uneasily, ears twitching. The horse whinnied and trudged backwards a little, staying clear of the bridge. “Hie!” Coran cried. His horse moved forward, shaking with every step. The first hoof landed on an old board that was tied tightly through holes that strung it to the bridge altogether, as a pang echoed back five times louder from the deep canyon that lie below.
The next hoof of Coran’s steed landed, making an equally loud pang that sounded like the first. Coran urged his mount forward a few steps, cautiously awaiting the boards to snap under the weight that was carried on this beast. Fortunately for him, it didn’t, but he urged the horse on, glancing uneasily, sweat rolling down over his dark brows; rolling down his very neck and down into his breastplate.
After making it about halfway across, Coran heard the sound of more hooves on the bridge, making the same pang that he had heard as he tried to cross. Coran glanced over his shoulder to see others following his lead, coming slowly. He gulped and swung slowly around in his saddle, making a gesture at them to wait for him to cross. Many didn’t know what he had meant, but they stood still. “Do not cross the bridge any further!” he whispered scornfully, glancing back at his steed.
The Knights thought they understood what he meant and stayed still, not making the slightest movement. Coran sighed heavily and turned back to his mount, as it trudged slowly on. Finally, after a few moments, he made it across, unscathed by the rickety old bridge. His mount trotted slowly forward, but was soon commanded to stop. Coran then told his command to come across, but very slowly.
After the first made it across, Coran sighed heavily once again and was happy that another made it across the bridge, now all that was left was the rest of his command. Next, came another Knight and his mount, sighing with relief once they’d made it. The other Knights followed suite, and soon, the whole command was across, left unscathed. Now all that was left was to setup camp.
Many Knights stood warily, thinking that he was joking. They stood staring in disbelief, really and truly thinking that he was joking. It turned out that he wasn’t. “Well?” he demanded impatiently. None of his command said a word; all they could hear was the squawking of the crows that hovered in mid-flight; the crashing and roaring of the river below, snaking its way into the lake that lay in the distance.
One Knight, however, was brave enough to ask their commander. “W—What is it that you w—want, sir?” he managed to say. Coran turned and walked up to the man who spoke, his hot breath in the Knight’s face. His glare deepened even further, the man was deliberately shaking in his armor. “What do you mean ‘want’? I told you to set up my goddamn tent! What is with you cals? You call yourselves Knights?” he said, walking away from the man and stretching his arms out wide. “You barely even follow your orders for the goddesses’ sake!” he continued, humiliating them all. “All you cals do is relive the old times! Wake up! This is the dawn of a new era, a new age!” he eyed them all, as his voice boomed back ten times louder than originally.
“Now, when I say set up my tent...” he started calmly, “I mean put up my tent!” he yelled, causing several to jump at the raised volume of his voice. “And I mean now!” he finished, pointing to the boulder that he had stated earlier to where he wanted his tent set up.
Heeding his words, a few men began to take the crisp and light fabric from Coran’s saddlebag. The others began taking their own material from their own saddlebags, inspecting a good place to set up their domain for the night. The men that were setting up Coran’s laid the piece of material out flat and began taking out short, fresh wooden stakes and began to hit them with mallets.
All the while, Coran inspected the way his tent was being put up, but it occurred to him that no progress was being made to it. He glanced down at the nearest Knight and snapped, “What’s taking so long? The thing should have been up by now!” The Knight looked up at his commander and replied shortly, “The ground is too hard, lord. Nothing can penetrate this ground, even the stakes won’t go through.”
Coran thought for a heartbeat and then stooped down beside the Knight and held out his hand to the man. “Here,” he said irritably, “Give me the mallet.” The man obeyed the command and handed the mallet to Coran, who inspected it from the wooden shaft to end. He then raised it over his shoulder and swung down hard, causing a loud ring that echoed for minutes; all of the Knights cupped their hands over their ears and watched as the Knight next to Coran moved from the flash of sparks. Coran, however, didn’t seem to care; the sparks hit him in the face, singeing the hair on his face.
Coran looked at the ground in disdain and impatience. What the Knight had said was true, the ground was too hard for them to hammer into. He hated to admit that one of his men was right and this showed it. Fuming, Coran stood up and surveyed the rusty patch of ground that they were standing on. If one section of the earth was hard and rocky, then what good was it to try any of the other areas?
Many of the men watched as their commander walked up to the edge of the cliff and looked down into the roaring river below. He glanced up at the sky. It was already turning dusk. Great, he thought, Just great. It’s already dusk and soon this rusty dump of a canyon will be darker than the fields. Debating about what to do, Coran turned briskly on his heel and walked up to his secondhand, glaring at him right in the eye.
“Tell me, Tarus, what do you think we should do?” Coran asked icily.
The Knight looked abashed and stared at his commander, not believing what he had just said.
But before Tarus could answer, a battle horn blared from inside the fortress....