• Published 4th Jul 2018
  • 23,741 Views, 4,032 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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XVII - Trails and Tribulations

Trails and Tribulations

The sun was slowly setting at the western horizon, gentle snowflakes drifted across a gelid northern wind. Nothing broke the peace and tranquility of the dying evening as the darkness of the night slowly emerged to reign until the sun was back to banish it for one more day. Nothing except for two colorful blurs cutting through the snowy sky with haste, one blue and one green, their strong wings pushing them forward as mile after mile swiftly disappeared beneath them.

As he forced his wings to keep beating, Wonder Bolt resolutely ignored the tiredness that was starting to seep into his very bones. He ignored the all encompassing cold that tried to steal the warmth from his blood as his wings moved up and down, up and down. As he completely ignored the protests of his tired body, all of his focus was solely locked onwards as he made sure to angle himself in such a way as to get as much speed as possible from the chilly tailwind that kept battering his form. The winds were both a blessing and a curse, for while the ever southward winds did speed up his flight considerably, they also heralded the advance of the very threat he was rushing to warn ponykind about.

He closed his weary eyes for a moment as he remembered the ghastly fight that had occurred but a few days ago, and the promise of what it foretold for the future of the Three Tribes. With a firm shake of his head, Bolt opened his eyes with a snap and a glower fixed itself on his muzzle as he forced his wings to beat a little faster despite how exhausted he currently felt. Up and down, up and down, as the ground far below darted past him, he kept pushing himself to the limit and beyond. Reaching the Armada as soon as possible so that ponykind could be warned of what was coming amidst the freezing winds, that was all that mattered. That was the mission he had been entrusted with, and he would not fail!

“I see a good clearing coming up ahead, let’s stop and rest a little there,” the green-coated pegasus flying at Bolt’s side calmly stated.

The meaning behind Link’s words was so against Wonder Bolt’s previous state of mind and utter focus on keeping his wings moving that the newly, unofficially, promoted corporal wasn’t proud to admit that it took several wing beats before he truly absorbed what his mysterious companion had said. But when he finally did, he reacted in accordance with the years of training that the Armada had given him.

“What?!” he shouted as he did a double take, certain that he couldn’t have heard it right and that Link couldn’t possibly have suggested that they stop their vital mission midway when time was of the essence!

But much to the azure-coated pegasus’ incredulity the sight before his eyes confirmed what his ears had just heard, as Link was already diving towards a clearing slightly to the left of their path, apparently without a care in the world. Wonder Bolt simply stood there hovering in place for a moment as his tired mind tried to formulate a response to this new development, but when he finally thought about voicing his protest, Link had already landed.

Cursing beneath his breath, the corporal dove towards the ground, intent on convincing Link that there was no time to lose! If there was to be any chance of the plan actually working then the help of the Storm Caller was paramount!

Part of Bolt’s mind wondered how, by the great winds, Link had managed to light a fire and start cooking a stew in the span of time it had taken him to shake off his mental stupor and descend to ground level, but a far larger part of his mind remained focused on the vital mission they had to complete, regardless of the inviting warmth of the fire or the tasty smelling stew now simmering atop it!

“Link, what do you think you’re doing?!” Wonder Bolt shouted in distress while forcing himself to ignore the mouthwatering smell slowly spreading out of the cooking pot. “There is no time to lose! We have to keep going!”

“You are tired and hungry,” Link simply stated without even looking to his fellow pegasus after getting a cutting board from who knew where and starting to dice carrots and potatoes before adding it all to the simmering stew. “You need to rest. There is no point in pushing yourself past the point of exhaustion. All that would do is jeopardize the mission.”

Bolt simply shook his head in exasperation. Sure, the knowledge that Link cared about his well being was slightly heartwarming since they were acquaintances at best, but the point remained that there were far more important things at hoof than the health of a single pegasus!

“There is no need for this! I can keep up until we reach Pegasopolis just fine!” he stated while stomping a hoof for emphasis as he tried to convince the odd pegasus to see reason.

“Good, but what about afterwards?” Link serenely replied as he taste tested the stew with a spoon that hadn’t been there a moment before, nodded in approval and turned to look Bolt in the eye as the spoon once again disappeared into the apparently bottomless pit that the green pegasus called a saddlebag.

“Time is important, yes. But you’re forgetting that there is a very good chance that we will not be able to reach your high command without issue,” he calmly stated as he gave Bolt a look that uncomfortably reminded him of when his late mom felt that he was missing the obvious. “And even in a best case scenario, you will have to be in good enough shape to explain the situation and help me convince them of the veracity of it all.”

“The scroll Fierce Breeze wrote, alongside you demonstrating your Storm Caller abilities, should be more than enough to get you a meeting with high command! Buck, it will be more than enough to get you a meeting with Commander Hurricane himself!” the corporal tried to explain to the green pegasus. What the hay, now that he thought about it Link should just ditch him here and keep going alone! The green pegasus was in far better shape than Bolt currently and looked more than ready to continue! But before he could voice that thought, Link interjected with a small head shake.

“Bolt, I’m an outsider to the Armada. Do you truly believe they would grant me an immediate meeting with your leaders without you there to present Fierce Breeze’s orders? And besides, going by the reactions of your squad mates, should I demonstrate my ability to control the weather with music to a large amount of pegasi without prior warning in order to try and gain entry to Pegasopolis, any time gained by rushing ahead would be lost thrice over in the ensuing chaos,” he stated as he picked two bowls and a loaf of bread from his bag, and Bolt cringed as, even as tired as he was, he could recognize the truth of his words. There could easily be a commotion depending on how Link demonstrated his abilities. “Rushing things will not help us, nor will it actually help us accomplish our objectives faster in the long run.”

“But-” Wonder Bolt attempted to interject, only for Link to have none of it and silence him with a look as he served a healthy portion of the stew into a bowl and pushed it into the azure-coated pegasus’ hooves.

“Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. In cases such as this you must be mindful of your pacing and know when to save your strength,” he seriously stated with a small nod before serving a portion of stew for himself and breaking the loaf of bread in two. “Patience is a virtue for a reason, Bolt. Now sit, eat and rest, we shall reach our objective when we reach it and no earlier.”

And with those words Link offered a very frustrated and aggravated looking Wonder Bolt his half of the loaf of bread, turned his gaze back towards his own meal and started to eat it at a slow and methodical pace as he savored every bite. There was not a hint of restlessness or apprehension on his placidly eating form.

Bolt opened and closed his mouth several times as he searched for the words needed to convince his companion to change his mind, to impress into him the critical need for haste in regards to their mission, only for a loud growling coming from his stomach to betray him as his body told him in no uncertain terms what it wanted, and demanded that he stop being silly and eat the tasty smelling stew that was but inches away from his muzzle.

Letting out a defeated sigh, Bolt sat back on his haunches and took a bite of the stew. Humming in contentment at the taste, he started to scarf it down as he finally realized how hungry he really was. And so he started to follow Link’s counsel and rested a bit, serving himself a second bowl of stew as the heat of the fire slowly warmed him.

It was a very tasty stew, after all.

“Are we there yet?” Ganondorf obnoxiously asked the very aggravated looking white-coated unicorn walking by his side as they followed at the very end of the caravan of ponies trotting down the dirt road leading them in a general south-bound heading.

“I will not deign to answer that question,” Zelda replied with a huff, aggravation clear in her features as she kept her gaze resolutely onwards, refusing to so much as glance at the large earth pony with the even larger sword strapped at his back.

“Oh, c’mon Princess, don’t be like that!” the Dark Lord joked as he took a step closer to Zelda and lightly bumped her side. The fact that his definition of lightly was enough to throw the smaller pony more than three feet to the side was irrelevant, in his opinion.

“Ganondorf!” Zelda hissed as she finally deigned to look his way in order to level her best glare at him after twisting midair and gracefully landing on her hooves without a single strand of her mane out of place.

“What?” he bluntly asked as he wondered what the problem was, it wasn’t like the Princess couldn’t deal with such an action in her sleep anyway. What was there for her to be angry about?

“Blessed Nayru, give me strength,” Zelda mumbled under her breath as she pinched the bridge of her muzzle for a moment before she resumed walking.

Easily keeping pace with the aggravated mare, the Wielder of Power stared at the slowly, slowly passing forested landscape as the pony caravan kept moving onwards at speeds that, while very respectable for a civilian group, were excruciatingly slow in his honest opinion.

“Are we there yet?” he asked once again out of sheer boredom as he decided that needling Zelda was far more entertaining than looking at the exact same scenery all the time.

“There are still two hours until we reach the point Old Oak has decided we will set up camp, at the minimum, and you know it,” the Wielder of Wisdom growled at him as blue sparks started flickering around her horn and her blue eyes attempted to pierce straight through his skull. “Ask me that question again and we shall see just how sturdy your new body really is!”

“Seriously! Why are they so damned slow! It’s like watching a Hylian patrol slowly crawling towards the ambush point where you are waiting! It takes them forever to get where you need them to be!” he complained with a slightly irritated grumble, all the while completely ignoring the Princess’ angrily retorted ‘What?!’ “And we can’t even rush ahead, or scout, or anything of use, what with how all the interesting enemies are behind us! And the lack of proper defenses for the caravan!”

“Deal with it,” Zelda mercilessly proclaimed as she once again turned her head towards the path, completely ignoring Ganondorf’s next few attempts at small talk. Really, if not for her slowly worsening eye twitch, the King of Thieves would have thought that she wasn’t even listening to him at all!

With another aggravated huff, the large earth pony pondered how the dullness of reality had come to bite him once again. He had intellectually known that a quest would involve a whole lot of walking, roaming, hiking, strolling, riding and all other variations of physically moving from point A to point B. How could he not after watching the Kid do it several dozen times and how it always involved an inordinate amount of time simply trying to go from place to place? But knowing about it was very different from experiencing it himself, especially when he found himself at the slowest speed possible of said physically moving from point A to point B!

Taking one more look around, Ganondorf attempted to find anything to distract his mind from his current boredom. One would think that an epic quest to find pink fire in order to stop an invasion of ice wraiths would have been more exciting than this!

Finding nothing of interest, both the forest and the caravan of ponies a few dozen meters ahead of them remaining as uninteresting as ever, Ganondorf let out an aggravated groan before his eyes settled on the white unicorn at his side that was still resolutely not looking at him. He pondered this new idea he had just had, for a moment or two that is, before he decided that he really had nothing better to do anyway, so why not?

And so, a small grin slowly surfacing on his muzzle, the Dark Lord took in a deep breath, turned his head straight towards Zelda, and innocently asked. “Are we th-”

Only to stop before he could finish the question, as he swiftly jumped to the side, avoiding a sphere of roaring fire that materialized where he had been standing but a fraction of a second ago. As he took in the Wielder of Wisdom’s very frustrated and irritated gaze, the growing eye twitch on her brow more prominent than ever as sparks of magic radiated from her horn and highlighted her features under a fierce blue glow, the Wielder of Power felt his grin grow even wider as he decided that had been the right decision after all. And so, no longer bored, he decided there was but one course of action to take.

“-ere yet?” he cheekily finished the interrupted question, before jumping backwards and un-holstering his greatsword in one swing in order to bat away the swiftly approaching flurry of fireballs raining towards him from one now very angry looking unicorn.

Now this would be very entertaining!

As the ponies bustled all around setting up camp for the night, either by unloading needed supplies and objects from the wagons, or setting up tents and fires, at the very center of activity Beautiful Blossom was guiding several of her fellow ponies as they prepared the evening meal.

But even as she prepared several dishes, while instructing other ponies on what to do and how to proceed with all the skill and grace of a maestro leading their orchestra, she was still more than able to appreciate the juicy gossip that the two younger mares helping to make soup right next to her were currently engaging in.

“I mean, it’s not that I want to question Ganondorf’s word, far from it!” Forest Blossom said to Sure Shot as she absentmindedly stirred the pot. “But that seemed a little… excessive for a sparring match, don’t you think?”

In response to her daughter’s words, Sure Shot proceeded to snort in apparent amusement, and so, as she tossed the already chopped onions into the cooking pot, she leveled the younger mare with a lightly incredulous look.

“Not sure how you haven’t noticed this by now, Forest, but excessive basically describes everything those three do!” the sea green ranger retorted white an exasperated shake of her head as she proceeded to chop the carrots. And Beautiful had to concede the mare the point; Ganondorf, Link, and Zelda really weren’t the kind of ponies to content themselves with half measures! “Or did you somehow forget what they did these past few days?”

“But that was different! Zelda was throwing fireballs, lightning bolts, earth spikes and other such things at him! It was as if she really wanted to hurt him!” Forest angrily retorted as she stomped her hooves in frustration, nearly knocking down a nearby basket filled with freshly baked bread, which earned the orange-coated mare a warning look from her mother which made her quickly secure said basket.

“All the while Ganondorf was somehow creating craters, with his bare hooves, large enough to fit an entire wagon in as he attempted to hit her head, while unleashing large gouts of flame with that magical sword of his,” Sure Shot snarked back with an eye roll and a dismissive huff. “How was that any different from what the crazy trio was doing back in the village near your cottage? Or did you somehow miss that new clearing that sprung into being after that sparring match of theirs?

“Sure, I agree that the fact that Zelda being a unicorn would normally be cause for severe concern, but she is an alright sort when all is said and done,” she continued as she finished the carrots and added them to the simmering soup as well. “And besides, it’s not like Ganondorf can’t take care of himself.”

“But even so, shouldn’t we maybe intervene or something?” Forest hesitantly asked as she stopped stirring in favor of half heartedly kicking at the ground with an uncertain look.

“Seriously Forest, let it be,” the ranger stated as she finished her own chores and cleaned her hooves on a clean cloth as she leveled a look at the younger mare. “Those two can resolve whatever lovers’ quarrel that set them off by themselves.”

“What?!” Forest shouted at Sure Shot as she processed the ranger’s choice of expression. And then proceeded to stammer and choke at her own words as the idea of her crush being already in a relationship hit her with all the strength of an avalanche. “But- Do you mean… No, they aren’t… are they?! Sure Shot, what do you mean by saying that?!”

As she took her daughter’s place at the forgotten pot before the lack of stirring could cause anything in it to burn, and seeing the surprised and slightly panicky look on the ranger’s muzzle as Forest advanced towards her until their snouts were nearly touching with each other, Beautiful Blossom decided that smoothing things over would not be amiss.

“Don’t worry dear, it was merely an expression,” she gracefully interjected as the sea green mare swiftly started to nod her agreement, before she continued as her words took in a lightly teasing tone. “No matter how close those two are, I’m quite sure they are not romantically interested in each other. Have no fear; you haven’t lost your chance yet!”

“What?!” Forest repeated as her cheeks turned crimson and she proceeded to try and avert eye contact with both of them. “I have no idea what you’re talking about!”

“Oh please, dear, you have hardly been subtle about it!” Beautiful teased as she removed the pot from the fire, placed it to the side, and then proceeded to give her daughter a half lidded look. “Not that I blame you, not in the slightest! Ganondorf is quite the dish, isn’t he?”

“Mom!” Forest interjected in mortification, not wanting to know her own mother’s opinion on how attractive her crush was.

“Now, now, dear, none of that,” she chided with a playful wink and a smile, all the while Sure Shot had hidden her own smile from view as she attempted to contain what sounded suspiciously like chuckling. “You have to be more assertive! For while I’m quite sure Ganondorf and Zelda are just friends, that doesn’t mean others won’t seek him all the same if you dawdle too long! Be bold, my dear Blossom! Be bold and go snatch your gallant stallion!”

As her daughter’s coat swiftly turned from burnt orange to vivid red, and she stammered denials unintelligibly as steam all but escaped from her ears in embarrassment, Beautiful Blossom turned to the now openly chuckling ranger as she decided that she may as well continue to impart her knowledge to the younger generation. “The same can be said to you, my dear ranger!”

“What?” Sure Shot questioned as she controlled her chuckling and gave the plum colored mare a confused look.

“Why, I mean that you have even less time and have to be even more assertive than my daughter!” she stated as if it was obvious, thought considering the even more lost look Sure Shot was now sporting she apparently would have to be even more direct and to the point if there was any hope for her to understand it all. Young ones these days! “My dear, while I’m certain that Zelda is not a threat to Forest’s interest in regards to Ganondorf, unfortunately the same cannot be said about her in regards to your interest in Link!”

“What?!” Sure Shot shouted in consternation as a hint of pink surfaced on her own muzzle.

“Why, yes! I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t something between those two!” she continued as she hid her mouth behind a hoof, giggling at the thought of it all. “And while the romantic in me admits that seeing a star-crossed romance between a pegasus and a unicorn would be truly delightful, the friend in me thinks that you also deserve a chance to make your feelings known!”

“WHAT?!” Sure Shot repeated even louder than before with a pole-axed look on her swiftly reddening features. Seriously, young ones these days! They had to have everything spelled out to them!

“You better start taking a more proactive stance, my dear, or I fear your stallion may be snatched away right before your muzzle! You must take a stance and claim his heart before another does it!” she declared with a firm nod to her stunned audience.

Sure Shot simply stared at Beautiful for a long moment, her mouth hanging open as she failed to find words to respond to the older mare. Eventually, with a fierce head shake, she swiftly blurted out, “I’m not interested in Link!

“Don’t try and play coy with me, my dear,” the plum colored pony stated with a musical laugh as she moved closer to Sure Shot and lightly bumped her side. “Why, the signs are all there, one needs but to have eyes to see them! The way you followed him everywhere these past few days, the way your eyes never stopped tracking his form!”

“Beautiful, seriously! I’m not interested in Link!” the very embarrassed mare stated in such a forceful way that to the older mare it looked like she was attempting to convince herself! “That’s it! Full stop!”

“Is that so?” she questioned the fidgeting mare with a look of deep interest.

“YES!” Sure Shot immediately replied, her features every bit as red and embarrassed as Forest’s. “And besides, I have no time for silly stallions!”

“Oh, I see, I apologize for my mistake, I understand completely!” Beautiful replied in sudden understanding as she berated herself for not noticing it sooner! It was so obvious as well! “You were scouting out the competition, weren’t you? Clever mare!”

“What?!” the ranger shouted in embarrassed confusion, gaining a wink from Beautiful from her troubles.

“Don’t worry about it, dear, while I know some uncultured buffoons seem to be unable to wrap their little minds around the concept, I have no problem with you walking the other side of the paddock!” Beautiful serenely stated with a chuckle. Truly, she thought that the younger mare would have known her better than to think she would be so narrow minded!


“I can see the appeal, really. Such poise and elegance! Zelda is quite the mare indeed! You have excellent taste, my dear!” she lightly continued as she gave her another wink and giggled as she started to move towards the next dish that needed finishing.

A long moment of silence followed Beautiful’s words, as a now thoroughly red faced Sure Shot stood completely still, mouth hanging open and eyes glassy as she stared at the older mare, until she finally hesitatingly replied.

“I… I’m… I’m going to go check the perimeter!” the ranger rushed to say before galloping away as fast as she could, leaving an extremely embarrassed and equally crimson faced Forest alone with her mother.

“Ah, young love!” Beautiful sighed with a happy smile as she remembered her own younger years, before she turned her expectant eyes to her daughter. “Well dear, now back to the topic of how best to snatch your stallion! My, will it be good to see this family growing again!”

“I’m gonna help Sure Shot!” Forest squeaked as she too galloped away after the ranger as fast as she could while refusing to make eye contact with anypony in sight.

Shaking her head as she watched the two mares rush away, Beautiful Blossom couldn’t help but chuckle at the silly hang ups of the younger generation, before she returned to the tasks at hoof. Dinner wouldn’t cook itself, after all!

“There it is, Pegasopolis! The great cloud fortress of the pegasi!” Wonder Bolt said in reverent awe as the first rays of the sun started to illuminate the pegasus city floating in the sky near the southern horizon.

Link could actually understand the azure-coated pony’s feelings. As the sun shone and glistened upon its pure white structures, making them shine brighter than polished marble, Link had to admit that Pegasopolis was an impressive sight, and coming from someone who had seen all that he had seen, that was saying something.

It wasn’t as if he was a stranger to impressive and grandiose structures, far from it. Nor was it like he was unfamiliar with floating cities. Sure, they were fairly uncommon, but not so much that he hadn’t stumbled upon them once in a while during his adventures. But he could safely say that this was the very first time he had ever seen a grandiose, floating city made entirely out of solidified clouds. Now that was something new.

He pondered how that could work in regards to everyday life. After all, even if all pegasi could stand and manipulate clouds as if they were solid objects, wouldn’t anything else fall straight through them and plummet to the ground down below? Bolt and his squad mates had armor and weapons made out of metal, so there was probably some way to deal with the issue. Now the question was, what exactly was it?

“We actually made some good time getting here, hopefully that will be enough; The worst of it is over, now let’s go, there’s not a moment to lose!” Bolt happily stated as he picked up his speed and headed straight to the faraway cloud fortress.

Setting aside the thought of how cloud structures interacted with everyday items aside for later perusal, Link followed straight after his traveling companion. All the while, he pondered if he should warn the pegasus about how erroneous his current thought process actually was. The worst part of this little mission was not over, not by a long-shot, much to the contrary.

Wonder Bolt seemed to be working under the strange impression that everything was going to proceed smoothly as they met with the Armada, that nothing would go wrong. And Link could say from personal experience how erroneous such a notion was.

Something would go wrong, that was a given. Something always went wrong when he first met another species while on a quest, after all. Especially if time was of the essence. Their leader would be missing, or away on an important mission, a priceless artifact would have been lost or stolen, an ancient monster would have escaped its prison and be terrorizing the locals, so on and so forth. A hundred and one different things would happen to hold them back and hinder the journey, official orders or not.

And that was forgoing the trials of valor he would undoubtedly have to undergo in order to prove his worth before anything of importance could be done.

Link really wished he could say he was exaggerating, but sadly it wasn’t possible, because that was simply how things were. So, of course his first meeting with the pegasus leadership would turn into some kind of test, trial, or martial contest. Because, of course, why wouldn’t it?

After all, it wasn’t like nine times out of ten the first meeting with the gorons demanded some kind of test of strength and valor, which had the annoying tendency to demanding he overwhelm several tons of sentient rock in one on one fights before he could so much as explain the reason for his visit. Or that the zora would likewise request him to show some kind of token as proof of his intentions, all the while completely ignoring that said tokens tended to be stowed away in very hazardous, inaccessible, faraway and inhospitable locations for some reason that frankly escaped him. Or that the rito could be at times downright antagonistic and refuse to so much as talk with him until something drastic happened and he inevitably saved someone important, stopped a rampaging monster, or stopped some kind of natural disaster. And that’s not even mentioning the gerudo and all that dealing with them tended to entail… and that was by no means an exhaustive list.

In the end he decided to keep his silence, best to let Bolt keep his high spirits for as long as he could. And besides, who knows? Things could actually go smoothly for a change.

Chuckling lightly at the absurd thought, Link mentally prepared himself for what was to come as he followed Wonder Bolt towards the great cloud fortress of the pegasi. He would simply have to overcome whatever obstacle it was that would materialize on his path, same as always.

Now the trick would be to do so without somehow ending up as the new chieftain of the pegasi or some other such nonsense, or accidentally getting engaged to someone he barely knew afterwards. It was always annoying when that happened.

Author's Note:

Sorry for the delay in posting this. Truth be told, the plan had been to finish this more than two weeks ago, but then quite a bit of trouble in RL happened and delayed everything. Thankfully nothing that couldn’t be solved, but it was really annoying and sapped my motivation to write for some time.

Nonetheless, here is the next chapter! Where we see Ganondorf and Zelda interacting with each other without a certain green buffer there to smooth the edges; Beautiful Blossom fulfills her familial duty of embarrassing the younger generation; and Wonder Bolt learns that Link is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to!

Ps. I recently published an Omake for this story: Legendary Swords, please check it out!

Hope you all enjoyed the chapter.