• Published 4th Jul 2018
  • 23,094 Views, 3,920 Comments

The Power of Freedom - Greatazuredragon

Having long grown utterly bored with the destiny the gods had decreed for him, Ganondorf decided to take matters into his own hands and escape to a new dimension where he could be free. Even if that would mean turning into a pastel colored pony.

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XII - Preparation is Key

Preparation is Key

The first rays of the sun had just started to peek from beyond the eastern horizon as a new day was born. A chilly wind coursed through the sleepy little village as its inhabitants slowly started to wake up and get ready to greet the new day. All was quiet and peaceful, except for a small clearing right next to the Blossom family’s cottage.

“Good! Put your muscles into it!” Ganondorf cheerfully instructed as he blocked Forest Blossom’s blow, before he forced her to hurriedly backpedal in order to block one of his own strikes. He held back, of course. Massively, in fact. After all, the intention was to teach the mare, not to turn her into paste, but even so she still staggered backwards quite a bit as the strike fell.

While she clearly felt the blow, Forest pressed forward nonetheless. She ignored her fatigue and pain and pushed forth as she unleashed a new series of strikes against her teacher. Each strike was blocked with ease by the large earth pony as if they were nothing, his fresh and collected appearance a stark contrast to the sweaty and disheveled mare that was trying to make the imposing mountain of muscle move at least a step backwards.

“Yes, that’s it!” the large stallion said with a nod of approval and a small smile on his muzzle as he blocked a particularly strong buck from the orange coated mare. “Put your whole body behind your blows! Just like that!”

Forest’s cheeks turned crimson at the praise coming from her hero. And a moment later she felt as if her fatigue was washed away and was replaced by a surge of energy as she got her second wind and pressed forth, putting her everything behind each blow even as she kept in mind the basic fighting stances and moves Ganondorf had been teaching her these last few days.

“Better. You are grasping the basics nicely,” the large stallion boisterously proclaimed even as he forced the orange coated mare to stagger backwards as he hammered at any opening he could find in her stance. “Not that I would expect any less from my student!”

Cheeks flushing crimson at the praise, she forced herself to keep her footing even despite how her legs wanted to do nothing more than collapse due to exhaustion. She refused to fail her hero in such a manner. Ganondorf was taking his precious time to teach her how to fight and make her stronger, and she sure as buck was not going to let him down!

“Okay, that’s enough fighting practice for now,” the large earth pony decided as he blocked a new series of strikes while he gave the mare a professional once over to make sure she was still fit to keep going with their training, before he cheerfully continued. “That’s a nice and solid foundation there, now we just have to start building upon it!”

Forest simply nodded as she drew great gasps of air and tried to sweep some sweat out of her face with a trembling forehoof, not trusting herself to speak right now. She knew that her hero was strong, that was an undeniable fact. Just as she knew that he had probably undergone some serious training to get to that level. But nothing had prepared her for how arduous his training sessions had turned out to be.

For the past two days Ganondorf had awoken her three hours before sunrise for training, and proceeded to guide her in how to develop a fighting style and increase her striking power to the best of his abilities, only to repeat the process for two more hours after dinner, before he allowed her to collapse upon her bed.

To say that the training was arduous would be a massive understatement. When they weren’t exercising, they were working on her flexibility; when they weren’t building her endurance, they were improving her fighting stances; and when all of the above wasn’t happening, Ganondorf would be engaging her in actual mock fights to drive it all home and test her growth, all of it with barely any stops or chances for her to recover.

To say that Forest currently felt muscle pains in muscles that she didn’t even know she had would not be inaccurate. Only three things kept her coming back for more despite how tired she currently felt.

First, she absolutely refused to show such weakness to her hero after being the one to ask him for training in the first place! Secondly, despite all the pain and hardship, the training meant that she was spending several hours a day alone in the company of Ganondorf, and she was not going to give that up without a fight! And finally, and possibly almost as important as spending time with the brown coated stallion, she could actually feel herself growing stronger.

“Okay, I’m ready, what’s next?” she finally managed to speak as she pushed her fatigue away. The nod of approval that gained her from the large stallion made the crimson tint currently adorning her cheeks grow a few hues darker.

“I think it’s about time we move to the next step, which just so happens to be one of my personal favorites!” he cheerfully proclaimed as he moved towards one of the large trees that lined the small clearing they were currently using. “Magical strengthening and enhancement!”

Forest had already been automatically nodding to her teacher’s words, only to stop mid motion as she truly processed what he had just said.

“W-what? What do you mean with magical enhancement?” she asked in confusion as she wondered if she had heard him wrong. Magic was the domain of the unicorns, after all! Right?

“You forgot the strengthening bit, and it means exactly what it sounds like, using magic to strengthen and enhance your body past its natural limits,” the large earth pony nonchalantly answered as he lightly patted the very solid looking tree right next to him and nodded in apparent approval. “Now focus on your inner energy, grasp the magic that sleeps deep within you, bring it forth towards your hooves, and strike this tree down!”

“But, but I’m not a unicorn! I can’t cast a spell!” the tired and fidgeting mare replied in a near panic as her head looked from her hero to the large tree he had just commanded her to take down with her bare hooves. “And besides, even if we ignore that, doesn’t it take years of study for somepony to learn how to cast a spell right?”

“Only if you are a mage, wizard, or spell caster. Their fancy stuff is all about precision, control, study, research and all that needlessly complicated junk,” Ganondorf promptly replied with a derogatory snort before he gave Forest a slightly questioning look. “And who said anything about casting any spells?

“We aren’t talking about that useless prattle and needlessly flashy mumbo-jumbo that those trumped up scholars love. We are talking about emotion, will and, above all else, power!” he fiercely stated as he lightly struck the tree right next to him, the deceptively innocuous movement somehow carrying more than enough force to crater the large trunk in an explosion of bark and wood and cause the tree to topple over. “We are talking about taking hold of the magical energies that course through our very bodies and bending them to our desires not through some fancy-pants spell, but with nothing but our wills!”

Forest gaped for a moment as she saw what Ganondorf had done with what most would consider being nothing but a light tap, before she forced herself to close her mouth and pay close attention to her hero’s words.

“Emotion and willpower, those are the key tenets of the path of a true sorcerer, Forest! The mages, wizards and spell casters can keep their fancy shit and needlessly complicated spells,” he solemnly stated as he started to move towards Forest’s intently listening form. “All we need, all that any sorcerer and warlock needs, is pure undiluted power!”

Forest watched as if in a trance as her hero stopped right in front of her and rested his large hoof upon her shoulder. She felt as her muzzle acquired the hue of the dawn as he looked her straight in the eye, but nonetheless she listened to his every word with everything she had.

“Now grab hold of the magic that dwells deep within you. Bend it to your will, bring it forth and focus in the result you desire and nothing else,” Ganondorf instructed as he turned her so that she was facing another large tree. “Can you feel it, Forest?”

For a moment all that Forest Blossom could feel was Ganondorf’s strong hoof resting upon her coat, until with an internal head shake she closed her eyes and focused inward in search of what he was talking about. At first she felt nothing at all, but after a few minutes she thought that she felt something. It felt like a warm river flowing deep within her very being. She attempted to grab hold of it as he had instructed, only for it to slip away. Again and again she attempted to grasp it, only for it to escape her, almost as if she was attempting to grab water with her bare hooves.

Snarling in frustration after several more fruitless attempts, and knowing that failing Ganondorf was simply not an option, Forest instead dove head first into the river and willed it to obey her! If she couldn’t bring it forth then she would go to it instead! She refused to fail her hero’s teachings! She would succeed!

“Yes, that’s it!” she heard Ganondorf’s voice echo as if it was coming from very far away, all the while she felt as if her very body was now on fire as the strange river surrounded her from all sides. “Abandon all doubt; forsake the mere possibility of failure!

“Do not think, feel! Gather your will, muster your resolve, and let the fire of your emotions empower your very soul!” Ganondorf Lord roared, and as her body was enveloped and consumed by the fiery river Forest roared in kind. “Now stop wasting time, AND TAKE THAT TREE DOWN!”

Before she could even attempt to think about what she was doing, Forest’s eyes snapped open and she surged forth with a shout as her right hoof darted straight towards the very large tree right in front of her.

Her bare hoof met solid wood in an explosion of sound and power, and, before her own wide eyes and against all logic, wood lost.

“Not bad for a first try,” Ganondorf happily mused as he inspected the plate sized crater on the side of the tree caused by Forest’s hoof “Not bad at all!”

Forest started to smile at the praise she had just received, only to all but collapse in place as she was suddenly hit by a massive wave of fatigue. She felt her eyes grow heavy and her legs stop supporting her as she felt more tired than she had ever felt before in her whole life. But before she could hit the ground a strong hoof had grabbed hold of her tired form and kept her upright by pressing her against a large warm form.

“Guess training is over for now, feel free to take a nap, you made some decent progress today!” the large stallion happily proclaimed as he nonchalantly placed Forest’s utterly exhausted from atop his back as if she weighted nothing and started to trot towards the cottage. “Good job! You better keep it up!”

Even as she felt her cheeks burn due to the fact she was pressed against her hero’s back like a little filly, Forest couldn’t help but smile. And with a happy sigh she closed her eyes and surrendered herself to sleep.

After having carried the napping Forest back to her home, Ganondorf had cleaned himself of what little dust and grime that had settled upon his coat during the series of light exercises with a bucket of water taken from the rain barrel in the yard, before he decided to wake her up with another bucket of the refreshingly cold liquid so that she could clean herself and get ready for the day.

“Here,” he simply stated as he offered the sputtering mare a clean towel, all the while making sure it wouldn’t drag at the now slightly muddy ground. Forest mechanically accepted it even as she kept her gaze firmly locked upon the Dark Lord’s waterlogged mane and her face turned crimson once again.

Frankly, the way the mare’s face constantly got flushed all the time still made the King of Thieves slightly worried from time to time. But considering that he had brought up the subject of the earth pony mare’s constant fever bouts with the Princess yesterday, and how the Wielder of Wisdom had assured him that there was nothing wrong with the mare’s health, he decided to ignore the issue for the moment.

Though he really wished that the Princess had answered in a little more detail about the cause of Forest’s affliction. All that the unicorn had done was smile and tell him he would understand it eventually, a truly useless piece of advice in his humble opinion.

“Ganondorf, there you are!” the source of said useless piece of advice shouted as she and the Kid approached from the other side of the house.

“Morning Kid, Princess, so what’s up?” Ganondorf cheerfully greeted his fellow Triforce Wielders with a nod as he kept drying his mane.

“A good morning to you too, Ganondorf, Forest,” the green coated pegasus calmly replied as he nodded to each of them in turn. “And I fear that Zelda had a prophetic dream last night.”

The King of Thieves groaned loudly upon hearing that piece of news and moved his own towel so that it covered his eyes so he wouldn’t have to look at the glowering white coated font of bad news right away.

“Please tell me you are joking,” he grunted in annoyance as he tossed his towel onto a wooden bench next to the door and gave a mildly pleading look towards the green pegasus, all the while he ignored the still glowering unicorn and the confused looking earth pony now right next to him.

“I’m afraid not,” the green wonder replied with an apologetic shrug of his wings and a tiny smile on his muzzle.

“Indeed, the dream I had last night has all the signs of being a prophetic vision,” Zelda added her two bits as she let go of her glower in order to briefly greet Forest’s still confused looking form.

“That’s just perfect,” the Dark Lord grumbled as he gave Zelda an angry glower himself. “And I take it you were looking for me to inform me about said vision?”

“Indeed. The vision started with thr-” Zelda confirmed with a nod before she started to explain the prophetic dream, only to be immediately cut short by the Wielder of Power.

“Nope,” he firmly intoned as he rose a hoof up as if to physically stop the Princess from speaking. “If we allow you to do so, you will go through a whole damn dissertation of the whole thing and all it’s useless tiny details, when I really have no need of any of that useless stuff.”

Ganondorf ignored the indignant look Zelda was giving him for his blunt statement as he looked towards the placidly waiting pegasus right next to her before he gestured with his hoof for him to carry on.

“So come on Kid, sum it up, short and sweet,” he simply stated as he attempted to impose some semblance of order to his slowly drying mane.

“Incoming ice age caused by some kind of unknown ice wraith;” Link dutifully reported as requested with a barely perceptible smile on his muzzle, while Zelda let out an indignant huff and glared in the large stallion’s direction. “Internal infighting between the pony tribes shall weaken their defenses to the point of collapse; unknown chosen heroes will temporarily repel the threat through unknown means, which are somehow related to a pink flame; another unknown factor that may be somehow aligned with fire will then aid the ice wraiths; two unknown beacons will then prevent the total collapse of the defenders; and we need to find the Master Sword.”

“That’s a lot of unknowns, isn’t it, oh great seer?” Ganondorf couldn’t help but needle the unicorn even as he went through the rest of the information. “And a pink flame? I mean, really?”

He knew far too well that magical fire could, and often did, take basically any color and hue imaginable. One just had to look at Nayru’s sky blue and Farore’s forest green flames to confirm that. But seriously, pink?

“So ice apocalypse, huh? Well, if nothing else it will be something new,” he concluded with a shrug of his shoulders as he saved what little usable information the warning did contain to his memory. It was a definite annoyance, but he could deal with it. He always had, after all. “Any idea for a time frame?”

“Regrettably no, there was nothing to indicate a specific time frame in the vision,” Zelda all but snarled, her eyes all but daring him to comment about it. But before he could oblige her and state that of course there wasn’t a time frame in her vision, Link interjected and redirected his attention away from raising the Princess’ blood pressure further.

“Sooner rather than later, I’d say,” the Wielder of Courage firmly stated and gained the immediate attention of both the Dark Lord and the Princess.

“Why do you say that?” he bluntly asked as he stared at the pegasus.

“It’s been getting colder with each passing day, for one. And there is also that to consider,” the Kid simply replied as he pointed towards the mass of dark snow clouds that were occupying the entirety of the northern horizon and most of the eastern one where they were being slowly diverted to by the gales he had summoned. “I had to reapply the effect twice already to divert those snow clouds, but they are still heading in a general southbound setting, which is where most of the pony settlements are located according to Old Oak.”

“I see your point,” Ganondorf nodded his agreement to the Kid’s reasoning, it made sense. Before he turned to a still confused, and now also slightly unnerved, Forest Blossom. “Guess we will be upping your training then, Forest.”

Yes, that was for the best, the large stallion decided with a firm nod. He had to make sure she was at least minimally prepared for whatever it was that would come. For there was simply no way he was allowing his first apprentice ever to die to one of the Princess’ silly little visions!

“What the hay are you three talking about!? Prophetic dreams, visions, ice wraiths?!?” the mare shouted, incredulity and a quite few hints of panic clear in her voice. “You three can’t be serious!”

“Oh, we are quite serious. For you see, no matter how useless the little Princess here is in getting the useful details,” he stated as he nonchalantly gestured to the now furious looking unicorn with blue sparks dancing around her horn. “She is quite reliably accurate in regards of what little information she does get. It’s kind of infuriating really.

“So, if Zelda saw ice wraiths freezing everything over until they were stopped by pink fire, then there will be ice wraiths freezing everything over and we will need pink fire to stop them,” he simply stated as if it was no big deal, all the while he started to instinctually pet the clearly distraught mare’s mane in order to calm her down, as any proper gerudo would when faced with a fearful and fretful equine. “Though, are you sure the fire needs to be pink, Princess?”

Instead of answering him, Zelda instead had hidden her muzzle from view behind a white hoof as she made a noise that sounded suspiciously like a snicker. In turn, Ganondorf stopped his hoof near automatic motions and snorted dismissively at the Princess’ rude answer to his question.

“Whatever. So don’t worry overly much about it, what will happen will happen and we will take care of it then,” he firmly stated as he looked to a now dazzled but happy looking, and once more crimson faced, Forest Blossom, all the while he completely ignored the Princess’ rude snickers. So he wasn’t a fan of the color of the fire, so what. There was no need for her to make a huge deal about it!

“At least that resolves the issue of what element to imbue my new sword with. Can’t go wrong with fire, after all!” he thought out loud as he considered what he had to do to prepare himself for what was to come. And finishing his blade was right at the top of the list, and speaking of preparations, “So, what about a spar you two?”

“What?” Zelda asked in confusion as she finally stopped snickering, all the while Link simply tilted his head sideways in a silent request for him to elaborate.

“A spar? You know, a controlled fight between two or more individuals with the intent of helping to develop and or maintain one’s fighting capabilities?” Ganondorf teased as he purposefully misinterpreted the white unicorn’s question so that he could needle her due to her earlier rude behavior. “I would have expected that you would know the concept, at least in passing!”

“I know what a spar is, Ganondorf!” Zelda grumbled in annoyance, taking the bait hook, line and sinker.

“So why did you ask about it?” he innocently inquired as he widened his eyes as if he didn’t truly believe her claim, which caused the Wielder of Wisdom to grumble in annoyance and glare his way, much to his amusement. A small amused snort and a look from the green pegasus placidly taking it all in made him decide to cut his fun short and get back on track though.

“Look, forgoing for a moment that I will indeed enjoy trying to hit you in the face, and that you will undoubtedly enjoy it just as much to pay me back in kind,” Ganondorf simply stated as he made his thoughts known as he gave Zelda a level look. “The point is that none of us have come even remotely close to pushing ourselves since we arrived here, and as such have no idea about our current limitations.

“So I say that we flex our muscles and fix that issue right now at least a little bit before whatever is going to happen happens,” he finished with a solemn nod and a large fanged grin. “So I will repeat myself, what about a spar you two?”

“A logical argument,” Link calmly agreed with a small nod as he started to flex and loosen his muscles. “One on one, two on one or everybody for themselves?”

“Let’s make this interesting, shall we? Everybody for themselves, obviously!” the Dark Lord cheerfully replied as he also started to warm himself up.

“You two… why am I even surprised?” Zelda grumbled as she tiredly rested her brow upon her hoof. “So your reaction to learning about a looming, and possibly highly dangerous, supernatural threat to a whole civilization is to beat each other up, instead of say, warn everybody about it?!”

“And since when did warning the masses ever help? Much better to use the time to prepare ourselves, I say!” the King of Thieves easily replied as she sent the Wielder of Wisdom a taunting look. “Relax a little Princess, who knows, you may even have some fun!”

“Unlike you uncouth barbarians, I do not consider beating other people as an appropriate way to pass the time!” she immediately spat back as she raised her head in order to glare the Dark Lord’s way.

“Come on Zelda, I know you want to!” Ganondorf taunted as he lightly patted his chin with one hoof. “I will even sweeten the deal. You get one free shot!”

“You…” she snarled, only to be cut short as Link gently draped a wing over her body.

“Zelda, we do need to learn how we currently fare in true combat against a capable opponent,” the Wielder of Courage gently but firmly stated. “Right now the rest of the village is still waking up, so rushing will be of no help. And this will likely be the best opportunity we will get to see to this issue in a semi controlled setting, so why not take it?”

The Wielder of Wisdom stopped and started to think about that logical argument. Only for her train of thought to be well and truly derailed as a ball of mud hit her straight in the face.

Zelda slowly removed the dripping mud from her face, before she settled her hard unimpressed eyes upon the unrepentantly grinning form of the King of Thieves, who still had some of the mud he had grabbed from the wet ground in his outstretched hoof.

“One. Free. Shot.” Ganondorf taunted as he carefully enunciated each word.

And as the Princess developed a beautiful eye twitch upon her still mud streaked visage, the Wielder of Power lowered his hoof and prepared himself, his smile now larger than ever since he knew it wouldn’t be long now.

A moment later an angry feminine yell resounded through the air, proving him right.

“And that’s all that you know about him?” Fierce Breeze insistently asked for what Wonder Bolt felt had to be the tenth time this morning alone, and, considering how dawn had just happened minutes earlier and the sun was still barely above the horizon, that was saying something.

“Yes, that’s all that I know about Link!” he replied with a hint of irritation as he trotted with the second in command of the squad towards the house in which the green pegasus in question was staying with his companions. “Seriously, yes, I talked with him a little after that whole mess ended, and traded a few more words with him yesterday, but that’s it! You know that, since you have been grilling me about it nonstop ever since it happened!”

“He is a Storm Caller, scout! Need I remind you of that?!” the pink coated pegasus’s mare all but shouted in a mix of eagerness, awe and trepidation. “A bucking Storm Caller! Do you know what that could mean?! There hasn’t been a confirmed Storm Caller in more than three centuries!”

Wonder Bolt knew perfectly well what it would most likely mean. The higher ups in the Armada would most likely lose their minds once they learnt that there still was a living breathing pegasus that knew the once thought long lost art, just like Fierce Breeze was currently doing.

“Did you see how he managed to change the wind currents with a single song? It would have taken at least seven weather ponies to do that, maybe more! This could revolutionize how we tend to the weather as a whole!” Fierce Breeze all but gushed as her eyes took in a dreamy look. “The higher ups will be so pleased when he returns with us to the Armada! We may even get to talk with the Commander himself!”

“You do realize he may not want to return to the Armada with us, right?” he noncommittally asked in a polite tone of voice as they trotted down the path towards their mission of recruiting Link to the Armada. There was no need to be antagonistic to the mare, no matter the fact that the azure coated pegasus thought that the whole idea was pure folly.

After all, Fierce Breeze wasn’t the strongest of his detractors in the squad, not by a long shot. Truth be told, the second in command of their flight tended to be actually quite professional in her dealings with Bolt, almost never giving him a hard time without a valid reason. Even if how she never approached him without an official motive showed how she wasn’t exactly comfortable in dealing with his mixed heritage. So he felt that accompanying her in this new mission was hardly a hassle.

The fact that this would allow him to sate a little more of his curiosity about, and interact with, the mysterious pony that just so happened to be the only other pegasus he had ever met, besides his late mother, that had a positive relationship with the earth ponies was also a factor in his decision.

“Don’t be ridiculous, of course he will return with us after we promise to get him a pardon for either his desertion or whatever it was that caused him to be banished in the first place,” the pink pegasus said with a light scoff as she pushed a strand of her mane away from her eyes. Clearly the thought that any pegasus would refuse to return to the Armada covered in honors had not even passed through her mind. “Why wouldn’t he want to return to the greatness that is Pegasopolis? It sure beats living in a tiny earth pony hamlet in the middle of nowhere!”

Bolt simply made a noncommittal sound to indicate that he was listening. The memory of the green pegasus carrying the tiny earth pony filly in his back made him think that there could be quite a few reasons why a pony wouldn’t want to return to the great cloud fortress of the pegasi, but nonetheless he kept his silence. Just as he kept quiet about his thoughts about how the odd pegasus may not have ever even been a member of the Armada at all in the first place.

Storm Calling was a lost art, it was that simple, one of the many wonders that had been forever lost with the fall of the Dream Valley. Or so everypony had believed, until Link had come into the picture that is.

The last confirmed Storm Caller had died over a century before the Armada had even been founded. Nothing but stories, legends and the barest scraps of information about the skill now remained within the cloud halls of Pegasopolis. That was a fact.

And yet, the green pegasus had to have learned the skill somewhere. And if there was nopony who could teach him the skill in the known lands where the Three Tribes dwelled, wouldn’t it mean that he had to have learned it somewhere else?

Wonder Bolt’s thoughts about the possibility of survivors of the destruction of Dream Valley maybe having managed to create a colony in the unexplored regions were soon shoved out of his mind, as his keen ears alerted him to a series of loud sounds that were breaking the peace of the early morning.

“Fierce Breeze, do you hear that?” he questioned the mare as his ears swilled one way and then another in an attempt to better pick up the source of the sounds.

“Fighting! Come on scout, move it!” the pink pegasus hissed after a moment of careful listening before she bolted towards the source of the sounds, Wonder Bolt right behind her, as both of them realized that the sounds of loud crashing, things breaking and other assorted cacophony had to be coming from a brawl of some kind, a brawl that was currently happening in the exact direction of the cottage where Link and his companions were staying.

They hurriedly galloped down the tree covered path for a few steps before they instinctively took wing in order to go faster. All the while Wonder Bolt wondered who could be crazy enough to attack those three ponies.

Nopony in the squad would be stupid enough to attack Link and his companions, not after everything that they had seen and the utter beat down they had suffered in their hooves. And that was before you added the knowledge that the unicorn was a war mage into the mix. Or at least Bolt thought so. But then again, it wouldn’t be the first time some of his fellow warriors had astounded him with their intellect.

Perhaps the lieutenant had finally woken up?

And with that cheerful thought Wonder Bolt burst right next to the quaint little wooden cottage with Fierce Breeze right next to him, both of them on their guard and ready to act. Only for them both to simply stay where they were, hovering just a few feet above the ground, as they stared wide eyed at the source of the noise.

It was a fight alright, they had gotten that part right, and quite a fierce one at that. What they had gotten wrong was exactly whom the trio was fighting.

Ganondorf blocked a harsh blow from the green blur that was coming from his left before he retaliated with a fierce hammer blow straight to the pegasus’ chest the very next instant, whom despite the speed of the large earth pony’s attack had somehow managed to dart away just in the nick of time, leaving it so that Ganondorf’s strike only cratered the ground beneath them and not Link’s chest.

Before the stallion could even start to remove his hoof from the crater, a flurry of white hooves fell upon him, striking at any and all openings in sight. Apparently completely uncaring about the rain of blows besieging him from all sides, Ganondorf abandoned all thoughts of defense and pressed his own attack against the white coated unicorn. Blows capable of crushing stone sought his enemy’s elusive form, as Zelda twirled and spun around the heavy blows.

The mare jumped upwards as she whirled around in order to avoid a haymaker while simultaneously delivering a fierce buck of her own against the large stallion, only for a green blur to suddenly connect his own strike against her airborne form. The blow threw her away from the fight as Link used the mare as an impromptu springboard to redirect himself towards Ganondorf in order to deliver a heavy strike straight to his chin. Only for the large stallion to simply grunt and weather the blow before he returned one of his own against the green pegasus’ side.

“By the great winds,” Wonder Bolt heard Fierce Breeze exclaim from right next to him. A feeling he most definitely shared as they watched all three ponies return to the brawl as if the blows they had taken meant nothing and he watched, entranced, the three very different fighting styles being used in this fierce melee

Zelda’s whole fighting style seemed to be based around agility and flexibility; whether she was attacking, evading or simply repositioning, her movements carried the fluid motions of the fierce rapids. Dodging and weaving between attacks by the barest of margins, never taking a step that was not needed. She was like a river of quicksilver, flowing through the battlefield with apparently no effort, always on the move as she prepared her next attack or set up a new trick.

Ganondorf was a stark contrast to the unicorn mare. He was a monolith, enduring and unyielding as he stayed rooted in a single spot, not taking a single step backwards as he blocked all attacks that came his way with frighteningly fast movements of his hooves and only truly moving in order to deliver crushing blows against any who dared approach his imposing form. He was slower, yes, but his defense was rock solid, and every hit he delivered was spot on and carried more than enough force to lay down a grown pony in a single strike.

As for Link? Speed, that single word accurately summed up the green pegasus’ whole fighting style, sheer blistering speed. He was like a furious gale, a constant blur that was never where his opponents thought he was. While Zelda flowed around all attacks and Ganondorf blocked them with ease, Link instead was never anywhere even near to where the blow would fall, having already darted someplace else long beforehoof as he prepared his next attack run while his opponent struck nothing but air.

Wonder Bolt watched, wide eyed, as the white unicorn flowed and bent to avoid a strike that cratered the ground, before she gracefully twisted midair in order to deliver a buck straight to the large stallion’s head. Only for the stallion’s other hoof to dart between the blow and its target and block it with ease, not even straining as he kept a strike containing the entirety of the mare’s weight and all her considerable momentum at bay with a single hoof. They stayed in that position for a brief moment as they battled for dominance, before they were forced to disengage as an impossibly fast green blur darted in to strike at the openings now present in both their defenses.

The green blur pressed both ponies for a moment with a flurry of lightning fast blows, before he was forced to suddenly dart backwards due to an impromptu pincer maneuver held between Ganondorf’s crushing blows and Zelda’s ever flowing onslaught. Only for him to dash back a moment later with speeds that Bolt had trouble even attempting to follow as he dove right into the brawl once again.

And as he took in the fierce melee taking place between the three very different combatants, as they showed more martial skill and capability than anypony he had ever laid eyes upon, Wonder Bolt felt a shiver run down his spine as he came to a sudden realization.

The utter defeat they had suffered had been the squad getting off lightly.

And the second in command of said squad had firmly decided that the impossibly swift and lethally skilled pegasus was going to go back home with them. Without consulting said pegasus about it beforehoof. Or even thinking about how he would react to said little demand for that matter.

Wonder Bolt let out a tiny sigh of frustration as he started to think exactly how he would keep Fierce Breeze alive long enough so that they could leave this odd little hamlet, preferably in a way that prevented her and the squad from angering the impossible trio further. Or what exactly they would all do when Wind Shriek finally woke up and retook command of the squad.

This was going to be one huge headache, wasn’t it?

“What is this?” Ganondorf heard Forge Fire question in a tone of voice filled with wonder as he proceeded to give his broadsword its finishing touches. “This resilience and strength, I’ve never seen anything like it!”

He ignored the fawning mare as he gave the over five foot long sword a final check in order to confirm that the metal had settled as it should and that there were no imperfections that could threaten the structure of the blade. He nodded once in approval, happy that there was indeed no need to return the blade to the forge.

Now all he needed to do was enchant it for durability, strength, sharpness and add in the fire element to the sword. Which, all in all, would be a fairly quick and enjoyable process, the runes the blade would require were fairly simple after all, as were the enchantments needed. He never really understood why most rune-smiths made such a fuss about working with metal, since he personally never had found any difficulty in carving runes in the substance.

“Incredible! How did you manage to make this, this… I don’t even know what to call this kind of alloy!” the red coated blacksmith mare loudly proclaimed as she darted this way and that in order to better see the blade while not getting in Ganondorf’s way.

“Damascus steel,” the Dark Lord nonchalantly replied as he raised the large blade with a single hoof and leveled it with his sight in order to better see if it had taken the edge properly.

“Damascus steel,” Forge Fire spoke in near reverence, as if savoring the words while she stared at the sword like a starving Like Like staring at, basically anything, really. “So that is its name.”

Not paying the extremely excited looking pony much mind the brown coated stallion put the blade back onto the table with a satisfied nod. The sword wasn’t even close to what he tended to give to his top minions, much less personally use himself, but it was decent enough and would serve its intended function as a temporary blade dutifully and well.

“Magnificent, truly magnificent!” Forge Fire gushed as she darted around the sword all the while she kept staring at it from so up close that Ganondorf was slightly surprised she hadn’t cut herself on its blade yet. “Oh, what I wouldn’t do to be able to work with such a material!”

That last pleading statement at least managed to garner the King of Thieves’ attention due to the opportunity it presented. His keen mind swiftly considered what he now knew was coming, the level of quality of the weapons he had seen in this realm so far, the several steel ingots he knew remained still unused that belonged to the blacksmith, and came to a simple decision.

“You know what, how about this,” Ganondorf cheerfully stated as he gazed at Forge Fire’s eyes properly for the first time since he had entered the forge this day while a fanged grin grew on his muzzle. “You let me use the rest of the steel you got stored away however I want, and help me with the refining process and the other menial tasks of the forging, and I show you how to make Damascus steel.”

“Deal!” the red coated blacksmith excitedly shouted in a hurry, as if afraid that Ganondorf would change his mind if she didn’t answer fast enough. “I will grab the metal and set everything up right away!”

The Dark Lord watched the very excited looking blacksmith dart away at a very respectable speed for a non combatant with a faint air of befuddlement, not quite sure why she was that excited. It was just Damascus steel, after all. A decent enough alloy all in all, but nothing to really brag about. Whatever, at least he now had a new minion to do the drudge work for him and some more metal to play with.

It wouldn’t hurt to make some temporary blades for the Kid and the Princess so that they didn’t need to face whatever was coming unarmed, and by Din’s crimson flame he knew that they wouldn’t find anything even half way passable with the ponies. Especially considering what the winged ones tried to pass as military grade steel. He snorted in contempt at the mere idea that something as brittle as the pegasus blade he had inspected could ever be considered adequate by any proper blacksmith, much less military grade anything. And the feathered ponies were supposedly the militaristic ones of the Three Tribes!

As Forge Fire darted back with several steel ingots on her back and offloaded them near the forge before she darted away to get more, Ganondorf started to happily separate what he would need in order to refine the metal.

He would make their blades, and then as the metal cooled and settled he could proceed to enchant his own sword during that time before he saw if his fellow Triforce Wielders’ swords would need any extra work before he added the finishing touches. But he wouldn’t enchant them with any elemental empowerments or the like, or any other fancy stuff for that matter. No need to make the Kid and the little Princess think that this was some kind of gift or anything like that.

Though, perhaps some minor durability enhancements wouldn’t be out of the question. And maybe a few rune clusters to add to it at the very least since he would be already working on the subject. But nothing more! After all, making them the blades was simply a way to raise the whole group’s combat potential and nothing else! That was it, nothing more, at all!

And as Ganondorf moved towards the forge he reaffirmed that thought to himself with a solemn nod a few more times, despite how he was already planning what kind of blade would fit each of his companions’ particular fighting styles the best and how to make them.

“You simply can’t be serious! Do you take us for foals?” Sure Shot’s angry voice reverberated through the walls of Old Oak’s home. The shrill noise was enough to force Forest to fold her ears to protect them from the onslaught as she watched the mare glower at Zelda’s white form. “I don’t know how you convinced Forest of this idiocy, but the rest of us will not fall for your tricks!”

The orange coated mare couldn’t help but feel slightly insulted at the ranger’s angry words. As if she were some foolish filly that believed anything that she was told. She was a grown mare and knew far too well how to differentiate the truth from some clever scheme, thank you very much!

Sure, Zelda’s visions sounded like sheer lunacy at first. Unknown ice wraiths condemning the lands to ice and death as they unleashed an eternal winter did sound like quite the far fetched story, after all. Something that most definitely was not helped by what little they knew about the supposed prerequisites to defeating said wraiths in the first place, or even about the wraiths for that matter. So yes, she understood why the others were at least somewhat doubtful of the unicorn’s tale, since she herself had been plagued by similar doubts at first. But of course, those doubts had been swiftly shoved aside as her hero firmly stated his certainty of the validity of the white mare’s words. And if Ganondorf believed the vision to be real, then it obviously was so!

“Please calm yourself, Sure Shot,” Old Oak calmly asked as he gave the frantically pacing and fiercely scowling mare a slightly concerned look. “Let’s allow them to finish what they have to say before passing a proper judgment of their words.”

“Honored Elder, you can’t possibly be thinking about listening to this absurdity!” the mare snarled as she started to develop a somewhat worrisome eye twitch. “There is no way such a tall tale could possibly be true!”

“Is she always like this?” the azure coated pegasus standing at her side whispered underneath his breath as he kept a wary eye on the sea green mare as she discussed and argued with Zelda and Old Oak. All the while Link calmly stood next to them and a very confused looking Fierce Breeze tried to make sense of the whole situation.

“For these last few days?” Forest replied in an equally low tone of voice before she simply nodded once. “Yes.”

“Perfect,” Wonder Bolt groaned as his second in command entered the argument with a few pointed questions, the action apparently only serving to anger the ranger even further as she made an aborted motion of grabbing the bow on her back as she all but shouted at the pink pegasus.

“There you all are!” Ganondorf loudly proclaimed as he barged into Old Oak’s home unannounced, uninvited, and completely unconcerned by either of those things, or by the stifling atmosphere permeating the entire room for the matter. “I’ve been looking for you two everywhere!”

“Ganondorf,” Zelda coolly greeted the large stallion with a stiff nod. “It’s good that you are here. We were informing Old Oak, Fierce Breeze and the other’s about the vision and what it’s likely to come.”

“I see. So, are they somewhat accepting of your Seer mumbo-jumbo yet, or are they still in the disbelieving, there is no way this is real, total denial, stage of things?” he cheerfully asked as he trotted towards the group without a care to the odd looks he was getting for his words.

“Mostly the latter, but with a few hints of the former here and there,” Link placidly replied as he nodded in greeting, also apparently unaffected by the tense atmosphere. “And I see that you finished your blade.”

“Eeyup!” the Dark Lord joyfully exclaimed as he removed the large slab of metal he had been carrying at his back by a hilt that Forest hadn’t noticed at first, showing to all and sundry that said ‘slab of metal’ was in fact a massive broadsword. “This little one turned up quite alright if I may say so!”

Forest followed Ganondorf’s every move as he practiced a few quick swings with the large sword, which was covered from hilt to point by some weird squiggles for some reason. His muscles flexed and moved without a single trace of strain despite how obviously heavy such a large chunk of metal had to be, showing to everypony present his magnificent strength and exquisite musculature. A point that was driven even further as he held the blade up with a single hoof as if it weighted less than a feather

“Yeah, it will definitely get the job done for the time being!” he happily concluded as he placed the sword point first on the ground with a loud clanging noise before his hoof moved back towards his back where something else laid wrapped in cloth. “And talking about getting the job done, here, catch!”

The large stallion then proceed to unceremoniously toss the wrapped bundle in the air, which promptly made it start to slip loose as it gracelessly tumbled through the air and resulted in the two swords that had been hidden inside to spring loose and start spinning mid-flight.

Somepony loudly gasped, but before anything else could happen a green blur had already materialized next to the spinning blades and expertly grabbed them midair. Forest blinked once, and when she opened her eyes again Link was already right next to the white unicorn mare as if nothing had happened while he offered her one of the blades hilt first, and a very odd blade at that.

It didn’t look like any sword the mare had ever seen before. It was much shorter and thinner than a normal sword for one, and also apparently only had a sharp edge in one of its sides. It actually reminded Forest of a large kitchen knife truth be told, but much, much slimmer and slightly longer looking, not to mention somewhat curved. The other blade that Link was carefully examining at the very least looked like a normal bastard sword, though both blades did have the same weird squiggles written on them too.

“You aren’t ready for a blade yet, Forest,” Ganondorf joyfully said as he stopped next to the mare and noticed her interest in the swords. His sudden appearance made her jump slightly in surprise and her cheeks took in a rosy tint as she heard his next words. “After you advance some more in your training, I’ll make a sword for you too so we can practice.”

The orange coated mare only managed to mechanically nod her agreement as she used all the willpower she currently had to stop from squealing like a filly at the thought of receiving something personally made by her hero.

“Thanks,” Link simply replied after taking a few test swings of his sword and redirecting the large earth pony’s attention away from the orange coated mare, much to her simultaneous relief and disappointment.

“I offer you my sincere gratitude for this aid as well,” Zelda also added as she gave a regal nod towards the Dark Lord after she had checked the balance of the strange short sword.

“Whatever, it was nothing,” Ganondorf loudly grumbled as he averted his gaze away from the two ponies examining their new swords with a huff. “I just had some metal left over and some free time to kill. That’s it!”

“While those do look like some nice blades,” Fierce Breeze interjected in a slightly annoyed tone of voice before she tartly inquired. “Can we go back to the part about your affirmations that some kind of ice sky monsters are about to attack our lands?!”

“Of course,” Link calmly replied with a serene smile. Before he twirled his new blade around and promptly stashed it at the tiny saddlebag at his side, a tiny saddlebag that couldn’t be larger than one of his hooves, while the blade itself was longer than his foreleg, and then helpfully asked. “So what do you seek clarification about?”

Only for the pegasus mare to simply stand there and gape, eyes fixed at where the blade had disappeared from view, whatever questions she had well and truly forgotten.

“You don’t seem overly surprised,” Wonder Bolt commented faux casually and with a very blank look on his muzzle.

Forest on her part couldn’t do much more besides simply shrug her shoulders. She had no idea how the pegasus did that, or how the buck it could possibly work. But considering how Singing had started to do the very same thing, she had decided to simply not question it, at all.

It was far, far, far less headache inducing that way.

“Show yourself you filthy needle-head,” an obnoxiously loud shriek came from outside the cabin’s wooden walls, breaking both the strained silence that had settled over the room and the carefully blank mask of the azure pegasus at her side.

“Oh, great, he woke up,” Wonder Bolt moaned in a barely audible whisper as he looked upwards towards the ceiling as if seeking for strength, a pained look on his features. Before he continued in a deeply sarcastic tone of voice, “Things just keep getting better and better!”

“Come out and face judgment!” Wind Shriek yelled at the top of his lungs, the way his shrill voice pierced through the cabin’s thick wood walls probably meant he was being heard by everypony in the village. “Your filthy tricks won’t save you now!”

“Seems like one of your patients is calling, Princess!” Ganondorf joked with a chuckle as he nodded towards the door. “So, are you going to answer?”

The white coated mare simply threw the Dark Lord a withering look for a moment, before she moved towards said exit with an imperious huff, her face perfectly composed as she walked out of the cabin as if nothing was wrong. Though, as everypony else followed after the white unicorn, Forest did notice that her new sword was idly floating right next to her hips in a faint blue aura.

“So the coward finally decides to show herself!” the grey coated stallion shouted as he finally saw Zelda. His sword was firmly held on his hoof and a sneer was firm on his muzzle as he stood in front of a large group of very uneasy looking pegasi. “You won’t take me down with your tricks this time!”

“It seems that you have recovered fully, good,” the white unicorn calmly said as if she hadn’t even heard the lieutenant speak, her body posture calm and professional despite the slight coldness in her voice. “Do you require any further assistance?”

“Y- You…! What do you…?!” he sputtered in rage as his face contorted in fury. All the while more and more earth ponies gathered from their homes to see what exactly the source of the commotion was. “You hit me! A lieutenant of the Armada!”

A moment of awkward silence followed Wind Shriek’s shout as all eyes moved towards the deeply unimpressed unicorn mare who was simply staring at the furious pegasus with a slightly unbelieving expression on her muzzle.

“He isn’t very bright, is he?” Ganondorf casually asked in a conversational tone of voice. His words resounded in the stretching silence. Several ponies snickered at that, much to the lieutenant’s ever growing ire, though the green pegasus he was speaking to seemed to be more interested in gazing at the far horizon.

“Shut your mouth, mud-pony!” he yelled towards the amused looking Dark Lord, which caused Forest and most of the earth ponies in the crowd to stop snickering in order to level angry glares at the grey coated stallion.

“Who do you think you are?!” Sure Shot spat back with equal anger, her bow now firm in her hooves and an arrow already nocked in it. “You think you featherbrains can just barge into our village and do whatever you want?! Well, think again!”

And with that remark the floodgates broke, as the until that time uncertain looking expressions on the pegasi turned into angry sneers. And soon both sides started to argue and shout at each other. All the while Zelda remained half forgotten to the side, where she had promptly rested her brow upon one of her hooves and let out a tired sigh.

The argument started to escalate further and further as it looked like Sure Shot and Wind Shriek would actually attack each other. Until a startling, unyielding, but surprisingly serene voice cut through the entire cacophony like a hot knife through butter.

“Honored elder, it may be best if all non combatants go back indoors,” Link suddenly interjected in a tone of voice that badgered no contestation as he completely ignored the angry crowd while his hard eyes remained fixed upon the northern horizon. “Immediately.”

“You winged freaks think you can order us around?! Just try it and I’ll show you all your places!” Sure Shot angrily snarled as she drew her bow taut and several earth ponies shouted their agreement.

“Are you trying to threaten us, mud pony?!” Wind Shriek yelled in kind as he held his sword high while several pegasi voiced their support. “Try it and see what happens to you! We are pegasi of the Armada!”

“Like that means anything! You think you featherbrains can take us down when you aren’t hiding amidst the clouds!?” the mare sneered in answer as the situation swiftly grew out of control.

“Bring it on, mud-pony!” Wind Shriek yelled as he attempted to charge at the mare. Only to be silenced as a tiny rock was thrown at the back of his helmet with enough force to stagger him forward several steps and nearly make him collapse to the ground, while his helmet rang like a gong, the sound of which silenced the whole crowd.

“Idiot, shut up. Mare, be quiet,” Ganondorf bluntly cut both of them off, right hoof still outstretched from the motion of throwing said pebble as he barely paid them any attention. Head unrelentingly pointed northward as his gaze saw exactly what Link had already noticed. “Old timer, do as the Kid says. Now.”

“What? Why?” she heard Wonder Bolt warily question from the side, since the sputtering Sure Shot or the slightly concussed looking Wind Shriek didn’t seem to be in any condition to ask for his reasoning and the rest of the crowd had grown silent. All the while Forest’s wide eyes swiftly moved from Ganondorf’s imposing form, to Link’s uncharacteristically fierce visage and finally to Zelda’s narrowed gaze and ready form, all of them staring straight to the north, and felt a sudden hint of worry lodge itself deep within her.

“Simple really,” Ganondorf easily replied as he cracked his neck to one side then to another and a fanged grin started to appear in his muzzle. “The snow clouds are moving far too fast to be natural, against the wind, and heading straight this way.”

His words caused a wave of worried mutters to spring forth in the crowd, as each and every single pony present, be they pegasus or earth pony, stared at the northern horizon and at the mass of dark clouds swiftly heading their way despite the heavy winds blowing in the exact opposite direction.

And as the sun slowly set and the darkness of night fell upon the land, Forest Blossom remembered what Ganondorf had said about Zelda’s visions, and felt a shiver run down her spine.

Author's Note:

So, three guesses to what will happen in the next chapter, and the first two don’t count!

Wow, this was another quite large chapter, over ten thousand words all in all, but I think it shaped up quite well and advanced the plot nicely in the end. Hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.

And coming soon, in the next episode of The Power of Freedom: The Wraiths of Winter!