• Published 31st Jul 2012
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A Link to Equestria - Wandering Quill



The Hero of Time's arrival to Equestria bears more consequence than anyone expected: the discovery of a common History... and of common enemies.

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Execution

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The scorching wind… it never changed. It seared the lands that were unfortunate enough to stand in its way. No matter when or where it blew, it brought only one thing with it.

Death.

This was the Gerudo Desert, after all. How the Royal Family had succeeded in negotiating with the tribe of thieves, no-one couldn’t tell. But to negotiate the execution of the Gerudo’s only male in so long at a location they worshipped was surprising news. It betrayed just how greatly Hyrule had been changing in the recent years. The Sages of Hyrule, the infinitely wise, eternally faithful spirits that swore allegiance to the king, had as much interest in such changes as there was water in that haunted desert.

In the opinion of the Sage of Light, leader of the council of sages, the man whose life they were about to reap could be thrown into Lake Hylia with five iron balls tied to his feet. He would not be missed. Not by the Hylians, not by the Gerudos, not even the Moblins would mourn his death.

Perhaps such an execution would prove ineffective, however. Ganondorf was no ordinary man. He was a demon capable of a million tricks. He would likely make it in freeing himself from the heavy binds. Then, he would disappear without a trace again. Hylia knew how hard it had been to chase him through the verdant fields of Hyrule after a courageous fairy boy discovered his plans to conquer the kingdom.

Alas, that was not a matter of his concern, nor was it his decision to make. He did not dare voice his thoughts either; it was not his place as a Sage to do so. Sages were beyond advisors. Once upon a time, the Hylian King relied on them to supply their ancient wisdom, and heeded their advice when such was required. In the present, their task had been reduced to that of an executioner. They were called to deliver the 'sanctified justice', as the king had called it, so that the thieves and prisoners they killed could find their way to Hylia.

His Majesty knows what he is doing, the sage thought, staying true to the unwavering faithfulness that the sages were famous for.

He cast a discreet glance at the other sages. A total of five others composed his council. Today, he was positioned rather oddly. He was almost detached from the council, even though he led it. Usually, the duty of terminating the prisoner's life befell upon him. Today was different.

It had been deliberated that the finishing blow should be dealt by the hand of the Sage of Water. Donning their white vests and masks of eternal neutrality, the sages were arranged one next to the other in front of a gigantic slab of charcoal rock. A pair of chains slithered from its top to the wrists of the struggling, devilish fiend. His eyes burned with a thirst for vengeance. They bore a dangerous gaze capable of piercing through one’s soul – almost literally so.

As the Sage of Water began to mutter the necessary words to enchant the sword before him, the thief’s mouth contorted into a snarl, and his head slowly rose in accordance with the tip of the sacred blade of light. The Sage of Light felt that no words were necessary for this brutal ritual of death. It would be a clean, quick execution, much undeserved for the man he was.

The moments that followed would remain hazy in his mind for a long time.

The sword twirled on itself a couple of times before pointing skyward in front of the Sage of Water. There was silence.

Then, the blade whistled through the air. The sickeningly acute screech of steel piercing through bone filled the air. The sages were unfazed even as the man's body twitched violently. The chains didn't allow it to move. Ganondorf had reacted just as little. A grumble was all he uttered before his eyes closed and his head drooped. His body hung limply from the chains that kept him imprisoned. The threat that was the Prince of Darkness was gone. Dead.

...if only that were true.

The Sage of Light’s head arched back in perfect synch with the sudden shudder of the man’s hands. The placid expression on the sage's mask slowly became a disturbed frown.

Ganondorf laughed. The man was suddenly overcome with life. He stood up and threw his fists forward, as if to punch the sages. The thick chains shivered and creaked, but held him back.

The Sage of Water gasped. The wise men, stripped of their only weapon and unsure of what to do, looked on. They could only watch as, one by one, the bolts that kept the locks in place shot in all directions.

The demon finally succeeded in releasing his left hand. They could only consider what they saw to be the single greatest horror they had ever witnessed in their ethereal lives.

The golden mark of the sacred Triforce shone on the back of his palm.

The Sage of Water visibly retreated. Ganondorf just cackled madly, mocking at the way his executioner had frozen in fear. When the last bolt failed to accomplish its only duty, the thief bounced off the monolith, arm outstretched toward the sage. The Sage of Water didn't so much as gasp before his neck was crushed in the man's grip. Just like that, the wise spirit disintegrated in a cloud of pure white specks of dust, which were carried away by the disgustingly hot breeze.

The other sages all took a step backwards, then more to make sure they were out of man’s reach. No, this was no longer a man. Those were the eyes of a beast, of an incredibly powerful devil, the stare of a madman. Without hesitation, he removed the sword from its chest. A toothy grin scarred his face, and a maniacal laughter burst forth. He was a bloodthirsty, insane demon.

In the Sages's darkest hour, only one solution appeared viable to spare their lives and the lives of the Hylian people. As if it had been orchestrated, all sages turned to the rear of the amphitheatre, preparing to raise their hands at the Mirror of Twilight. They would banish the fiend to the dimension where only the damned roamed. A suiting end for the one who claimed to rule evil.

They never did call upon the mirror's power, for before them did not stand the Mirror of Twilight. Their only hope of banishing this man to somewhere away from Hyrule was not there. In its place was a cloud as dark as the night sky, made of celestial dust and stars, surrounding the precious artifact. It rippled and whirled around the mirror.

The screech of something sharp scraping on glass filled the execution grounds. The wise men, trapped in their own confusion, did not even react. The ancient runes etched upon the mirror’s surface were wiped out of existence before their eyes. New, deformed lines were appearing in their place. They were ugly inscriptions written in a language not one of the six present had ever seen.

And though they were frightened, the condemned man held no fear in the gaze he cast directly at this nebulous being. Curiosity was possibly the best way to describe the spellbound manner with which he observed the birth of a new mirror, one which’s purpose they could only speculate.

Bearing a smug expression upon his face, he stepped forward, the triangular mark on the back of his open hand glittering ever brighter as he raised it at the ominous cloud. The air stilled, the sages but mere bystanders, paralyzed with unspoken words of terror and disgust.

Perhaps considering its work on the mirror done, the cloud floated down, towards the Gerudo. Even when he was being completely enveloped by the forthcoming mist, Ganondorf didn't utter a sound. He breathed in the cloud until it was no more. A deep blue aura slowly appeared around his body, like a flame that inspired further fright in the minds of the onlookers.

“Your land will be spared... for the time being,” it spoke, its voice a cavernous howl. It seemed capable of throwing the sages off their feet should its volume rise in the least.

The burning monster's eyes were set on the ancient artifact. The hand, still raised towards the cloud’s former position, slightly adjusted its angle to point directly at the modified mirror. “They speak the truth… only the true ruler of the Twilight Realm may destroy this relic.”

An inexplicable shimmer erupted from the new lines drawn upon the mirror's surface. It reclined back on its own, projecting its light upon the massive black stone where the man had been imprisoned.

Rings of light with engravings of complex designs materialized in thin air, rotating in different directions as the stone drew closer and their radius grew wider. Once they touched the grand rock, the strange patterns seemed to scar the monolith's shell. Soon, the projection on the mirror’s surface had been copied exactly onto the rock. The sages knew what was taking place: the activation of the portal that the looking glass was supposed to be.

“Stripped of your hero, however, you will find the task of directly confronting me much more arduous than it appears,” it continued, grabbing the sword by the blade and proceeding towards the podium where the mirror rested. The reflection on the stone had strangely assumed depth, like a funnel. Just like with the previous projection, the rings that composed this copy rotated. Their center was a single, triangular piece.

“That mark… it cannot be…” the Sage of Light managed to utter. The demon chose to simply ignore him. It waited with a satisfied smirk as the tug of the portal began to affect his legs.

“Your land has changed much since I last blessed it with my power. To think that imbuing the simple thought of owning one of the most powerful artifacts of all time would spawn an entire era of chaos… You have all done me proud. Perhaps, upon my return, I will grant you that honor again.”

The demon stretched out its arms to their full span. As if owner of a mind of its own, the mirror's brightness became equal to that of a thousand suns, and the demon’s body began to dissolve into countless fragment as dark as the moonless night sky. These were drawn into the portal, flying against the wind’s will.

Behind echoed its final words of farewell. When the sages finally grasped the gravity of the situation and their minds caught up to the incident, any trace of light abandoned the mirror, and the portal was no more.

Ganondorf was gone from Hyrule.

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“Are you completely sure of what you saw?”

It felt like it had been the millionth time that the mare had placed that question. No matter the answer the guard gave her, she insisted on asking it time and again. Breathing a long, deep sigh, the guard looked at her over his shoulder and summoned whatever politeness he had left. Hopefully it would clear the mare's doubts once and for all:

“Miss Sparkle, we have the creature locked up and incapacitated. I’m fairly certain we had enough time to look at it and describe it properly.” The mare was about to pose yet another question, but the violence in the guard’s abrupt shout left it to die in her throat. “WE’RE HERE.”

Ears pinned against her head and eyes fixed on the bulkier pony, the purple mare trotted forth. She carefully approached the wooden door of the dungeon chamber, as if the creature within would suddenly leap at her from within the darkness of the cell.

What met her eyes, however, was not a violent creature at all. Perhaps it was because it lay cold on the rocky ground, arms and legs splayed in random directions. Maybe even the way its mouth opened and closed rhythmically in its slumber. Whatever the reason, nothing about the thing inside told she should be afraid. The closest approximation she could give of it was that of a perfectly shaved Diamond Dog, albeit much, much smaller and even less muscled – let alone threatening. Dirty, green cloth adorned its whole body, a pointy hat of the same color over its head, a pair of belts holding the clothing in place.

“Are you sure that thing was about to attack you?” she asked, a certain hint of scorn rather patent in her words. The guard didn’t appear to take the subliminal message very well, as his previously passive expression quickly shifted to a frown.

“If you had read the briefing properly while we were in the chariot,” he brusquely replied, not willing to pass on an opportunity to bash the mare for her persistence. “Then you would have known that it was armed. A rather sharp sword, at that; I’ve only seen few like it.”

“Well I did read the briefing, but I still don’t see how that can be a threat to anyone. Even with a weapon. Especially a sword,” her retort carried just as much hostility as the stallion’s, something she realized too late but immediately tried to remedy by lowering her voice and looking away. “Whatever it is, it can’t be much older than a school-age foal. How would something that young go around with a weapon like that?”

“Reports from witnesses established that it came from the former entrance to the Canterlot Mines, which opens up near the city’s main plaza.”

The Canterlot Mines…

Memories of her brother’s wedding the previous year assaulted her mind. Her stay in those abandoned caves had been far from a good one. Her only salvation had been an auxiliary exit to the castle dungeons.

"Is there any other entrance?"

“None. This one's been blocked for several years now, and it’s the first time anything’s come out of it,” the guard added.

Chewing on the information for a moment, she continued to watch the creature in its sleep.

Green clothes… a creature stranger than anything ever seen in Equestria… Where have I heard of you before…

“I would like to see it up close,” she suddenly spoke, catching the guard completely by surprise.

“In there? You want to go in there?” his words dripped with ridicule, prompting a mixture of determination and anger to take over the mare's brow. They stood there for a moment, apparently an attempt from the guard to break the librarian, only to find that it was a lost battle.

The Princess’s protégé’s stubbornness was rather widespread among the higher ranks, if the constant hitch-hikes aboard a chariot to Canterlot were any indication. A groan was his sign of resignation. A pair of keys floated from the side of his armor to the front of his face. The crimson glow that enveloped the keys was immediately replaced with a purple one, and with a quick thanks, the mare plugged the key in the lock.

“I will wait here. If it tries anything funny, it gets a beating,” he remarked while stomping his hoof, causing the creature in the prison to twitch slightly.

Twilight gave him a sheepish smile. “Ha ha… ha… I don’t think that will be necessary, sir. With all due respect, of course,” she laughed uneasily, pushing the door open with a hoof and moving inside. “I, huh, won’t take long!”

Finally in the silence of the putrid stone cubicle, Twilight Sparkle made her relief clear with a sigh. Royal Guards (save for her brother that is) had never been easy to deal with. At least one or two of her friends could vouch for that, and it hadn’t changed in the least before and after she was in Canterlot.

Her train of thought was then interrupted by the soft snoring of the creature. The first thing she took notice of was the chain attached to its right leg, giving it minimum mobility thanks to its short length.

A necessary means of security, I suppose, she thought, crossing that mystery off the list.

There didn’t seem to be anything about this creature that particularly caught her attention. The only possible exception was the almost unbearable feeling that green was the only color she should be recognizing.

The report had mentioned how confused the creature had seemed upon arriving, having appeared to look around frenetically before engaging in combat with the guards after harassing civilians. Her mind began to drift into thought, the veracity of the report suddenly turning dubious. Suspicions regarding this creature’s ability to fight still pestered her, and she had severe doubts that it would simply cause a mess for no reason.

Maybe I just need to see it while it’s awake… I think I know where to find the information I need about this. At least it'll keep me busy meanwhile.

She hazarded a movement, approaching her hoof to its head to gently move the fringe of golden hair aside. The pair of tightly shut eyes underneath seemed to have longed for sleep. She would know – spending entire nights with her sight set on elaborate texts had eventually done a number on her appearance. The bags under her eyes were the proof.

Twilight actually felt a pang of sympathy for the creature. It had obviously been journeying for a long time. You poor thing… what have you endured...

An instant of further examination later, she got up and left, casting one last quizzical gaze at the sleeping being. The guard's little smile wasn't there anymore when she turned to him with her most serious expression.

“I want to know immediately when it wakes up,” she spoke noncommittally, closing the door behind her with a simple whisk of her magic. The guard gave a quick salutation and watched the mare leave.

In her mind, Twilight was banging her head against a wall. Something had clicked when she set her eyes on the alien creature. The green clothing. A beast unlike anything Equestria had ever seen.

It was in her nature to look into it. Her curiosity motivated her to beeline towards the Canterlot Castle's library. Books had always provided the answer she sought. There was no reason for them to not do so now.

But there was something else. Her drive wasn't based solely upon curiosity. The fact that this could be destiny nagged her to no end.

She stepped up her pace. She would either get to the bottom of it, or die trying.