Business in the Twilight

My name is Hael. For the entire 18 years that I have lived, I've been a merchant. Business is my life, pricing my specialty, and making deals my calling. But when the Twilight falls, everything changes. There is no business anymore. Everyone's locked up inside their houses, quaking in fear. Monsters roam freely. The Royal Castle is overrun by creatures, and I'm locked up in it's dungeon. But somehow, someway, no one knows. Everyone goes about their business in Castle Town, and those in Kakariko are forced to fend for themselves. Not one person gives a damn about the Zoras or the Gorons. Not one person gives a damn about me. I'm on my own.

Everyone is on their own.

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5. Chapter Five

            Long minutes had passed. I was still there, at a loss for words. I was defeated. Thoughts of what was to come ranged from death here to death there. Anyway I looked at it…my fate had now been sealed.

            “Why?” I suddenly blurted. “Why are you here? Why do I matter? Why am I not dead yet?” My eyes drifted down to my hands, still clutching my mother’s swords. Another thought struck me, Why…is she dead…?

            Oddly enough, he seemed slightly taken aback by my questions. But I wasn’t looking for answers. I only reveled in the past, mulling over what had been. My future seemed bleak, so the past was a hellish paradise. His next words brought me back to twisted reality.

            “Revenge.” It was a simple word. Spoken not softly, nor yelled. But said with conviction and purpose. I looked at him in the eyes, still fighting back the tears I had long stolen away.

            “I can see it your eyes,” he went on, “the suffering. The pain. The agony of betrayal. The hatred of those who stole your kin from you. Who stole your mother.” I looked down again.

            No. I don’t want this. Don’t be taken in by his words!

            His steely gaze forced itself into mine. A soft glimmer appeared in his eye. Was that…pity?

            “You loved your tribe. Your heritage. Your mother. But they didn’t care. All they cared about was winning. They only sought to destroy us.” I could feel his words worming their way inside my head. My eyes brimming, I shook my head.

            “No….no…no, no, no!” I whispered as I dropped to my knees. Finally, I felt hot streaks down my cheeks. It was the first time I had cried in years. A tear in my mind ripped through a nearly healed wound. The memory came flooding back.

            He knew he had won.

            “You can see it know, can’t you? The men bursting in, the flash of steel. And then your mother’s face, bloody and red, telling you to run.” His words coaxed me into a trance. I could see it. Every detail. Every drop of sweat. The smell of rampaging men. A scent of iron. And blood.

            So much blood.

            It was just as he said. Two men in knight’s armor came through the door, and my mother, swords in hand, quickly hid me in the attic.  I could see nothing. All I could hear was yelling, and the clang of metal on metal. Suddenly a different sound rang. That of a sword rendering flesh. My sharp nose was quick to betray me. The scent of blood filled my nose, and from my perch above, the last part of the battle was revealed. A soft thump as she hit the floor. Her hand clawing at a wound in her shoulder. Watching in horror was all I could do. A man stood beside her. He raised his sword.

            I remembered a short thought at the time, watching a pool form on the floor. I thought, But she’s so small. Did that really all come from her? She locked eyes with me, if only for a brief moment. Her strangled voice shook me from a daze. “Nigeru!”

            “Live!”

            I couldn’t breathe anymore.

            Ganondorf’s voice led me through the scene, from beginning to horrid end. Sobbing miserably on my knees, I clutched my hands over my ears, staring at the floor in agonizing silence. I couldn’t make a sound to drown him out. I was completely entranced. How did I live with this moment always in the back of my mind? And how was it that now, at the moment I needed my strength most, I betrayed myself?

            “Remember the scent of fresh blood. Hold onto that moment of fear. Of despair. Of rage! Let the memory flow. Remember the day everything was stolen from you. And those who stole it. The Hylian, the bastards that took the only thing you cared for, and their damned Goddesses! They started a war that only led to destruction! This Hael, is why I am here! This is why you are here! To avenge the wrongful deaths of our people, and those we loved!” The rest of his words were lost to my weeping, and it eventually became the only sound in the room. I tried regaining control of myself, but alas, it was no use. At this point I became a mere child again. The image of my mother being slaughtered…I can’t even begin to describe. I had long tried to forget the memory, but it took all of me to lay it dormant. The vision of the raised sword. The final swipe. And the fear that overtook me. I couldn’t watch the rest. I turned and fled through the attic window. What began next was a larger than life game of deceit.

            Finally, my uncontrolled crying subsided. But I couldn’t find the strength to stand. I sat there, staring into the floor. My mother’s swords lay in front of me. At some point I must have dropped them. It hurt to merely look at them.

            After the last tear dropped to the floor, I could sense movement in front of me. A pair of feet stopped just ahead.

            “This is why I brought you here. You needed to be reminded of the pain. Pain is what sculpts you, and decides how you move forward. So, I offer you this.” I looked up a Ganondorf, who stood towering above me. “I offer you a chance to use that pain. Use it to fuel you. Let it guide you in striking down your enemies. This is your chance to repay in tenfold what they did to you. To us. Join me, and we shall let hellfire rain upon this wretched kingdom and destroy the same happiness they destroyed. Come, and watch the world burn.”  He extended a hand out to me.

            It took me a moment to understand. Revenge? Was it possible? But who, exactly, would I exact it on? My hand twitched slightly. This didn’t feel right. No doubt, the old hot-headed version of me would jump at the opportunity. But that was before my mother’s lessons had finally stuck. Now, I had come so far to accepting it. Years of travel, meditation, and reveling in the past got me through that moment.

            But, a thought rang, if I was so ready to cope, why did I burst into a fit? What is this despair I feel? This desire to take his hand? I grappled with my own thoughts. All my hard worked seemed to accumulate to nothing. If anything, this was the test to prove myself. And I was failing miserably.  My mind was divided. Should I honor my mother’s teachings? Or chase her to my own death’s door? All this seemed awfully cliché. I knew the right decision. Only his words made me doubt myself. They made me doubt my very foundation—my own mother. I am not naïve. Nor am I a fool. I knew exactly where revenge would take me, and that was a very dark path indeed.

            Finally, I felt resolute. Now was the time to redeem myself, even if I still felt pain—even if my eyes still leaked weakness. I picked up her two swords and slowly rose. Finally, I drew myself to my full height, and met his gaze. A pang of fear shook me; his eyes were something that didn’t belong in this world. Sulfurous yellow enclosed a pit of black, which leaked pure hate and evil. Fury seemed to seep from his gaze as he looked down on me, and the fear that rolled off of him once again crept in. Shamefully, I couldn’t stomach looking him straight in the eye. I settled on staring just above them, swallowing a nervousness that rose from the pit of my gut. It was a strain to look up that high—he was much taller than I anticipated. The realization of how meager I was compared to him was daunting. Still, his hand waited in the air, outstretched, and expecting a partner. What I could barely squeeze out was nothing more than a whisper.

            “Do you take me for a fool?” I scarcely managed to utter.

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