They traveled by moonlight from the cool fields to the cooler desert, so Ganondorf noticed the second the moon went dark. It was just a moment and could have been mistaken for a cloud passing by, if the night sky itself did not shine clear. For that moment, the moon was gone, swallowed by shadow, and Ganondorf’s chest tightened.
“My king,” Nabooru called behind him. He raised a hand, and she quieted. Magic, perhaps, but if so, his mothers or the Hylians? No guarantee his mothers would have provided warning. Their magic and mischief entertained them too much sometimes.
Perhaps it was something more. That ember of hope in his heart flickered, but Ganondorf forced himself to ignore it. The moon was back and even as he looked around, focused his senses, he noted nothing else amiss.
Then the wolves howled. One called out, its howl echoing through the canyon. Soon others followed in a chilling chorus. Keeping his expression calm, Ganondorf urged his horse on. From the echoes, something within the canyon attracted them. The wolves and the Gerudo enjoyed a rough peace: the wolves stayed high and the Gerudo remained low. Yet they had grown more restless as of late…
The war dragged on, and the Hylians grew more ruthless by the day in their attempts to breach their neighbors’ lands. There were whispers of dark magic in the Hylians’ bloody history. Ganondorf looked up again, and the moon remained still, white and deceivingly tranquil.
Now Ganondorf felt it. A strange spark in the air. That wasn’t Gerudo magic, not even his mothers’ strange blend.
An uneasy feeling grew in his heart. He saw the bridge ahead. On the bridge and right before it, he saw familiar dark silhouettes. Their howls quieted, and even as the Gerudo charged forward, the beasts scattered, back to their hiding spots in the canyon. Had the wolves been heading for the fortress? What caused such boldness from the beasts?
Perhaps it was only because he looked for more wolves that Ganondorf saw him huddled by the bridge. It was only by happenstance that Ganondorf caught the stranger’s gaze first, almost colorless in the moonlight.
A Hylian. On his side of the bridge.
Wrath rose like fire in his chest, and he called a halt. His warriors did not question. Silent shadows themselves, they spread out around them as Ganondorf halted his horse before the Hylian. They blocked the Hylian in. No escape. In response, the Hylian only stared at Ganondorf. A sword on his hip, a bow and quiver, and odd bags at his waist: more armed than Ganondorf originally guessed. Yet the Hylian made no motion to reach for a weapon, sitting on the ground like he had collapsed there. The Hylian looked at him with those moon-bleached eyes, too bold, as if asking for Ganondorf to pluck them out. Then his head fell, shoulders slumping. In that position, it would be so easy, one swipe of Ganondorf’s blade, and then that head would roll.
A spy? A scout? The garb didn’t match, the green odd and the clothes odder, and the assortment of weapons belonged to a warrior. Perhaps simply an unusual spy or assassin. Who knew how that warmongering king thought.
It didn’t matter. He would be dead soon enough. Yet…
The wolves claimed the canyon heights, but the Gerudo claimed paths through the canyons themselves, keeping an eye on the fields for those foolhardy enough to trespass. How had this tiny Hylian slipped through?
“You must be brave, Hylian, to travel this far.” Ganondorf paused for a reply. Let the Hylian glare and boast of his feat before his end. If he was clever enough to make it this far, then he was clever enough to know the fate of a spy in Gerudo lands. Ganondorf waited, yet the Hylian remained silent. Ganondorf’s scowl deepened. Perhaps he was simply stupid and lucky.
Well, unlucky, in this case.
The Hylian raised his head just as Ganondorf pulled out his glaive. He didn’t flinch when Ganondorf put the metal blade under his chin, giving argument for both brave and stupid. He remained silent as Ganondorf raised his head, letting Ganondorf look his fill. Perhaps too pale, even for a Hylian, but that could be the moonlight. His features were fair, almost elegant, and Ganondorf wondered if the Hylian was from noble stock. Perhaps related to one of the knights Ganondorf had recently slaughtered.
“Are you a spy for the Hylian King then? You have made it farther than any of his others.”
Ganondorf didn’t expect confirmation, but he expected some speech. Instead, the Hylian looked… confused? Yes, certainly confused. His face was as expressive as his mouth wasn’t. Ganondorf frowned. Confusion but no denial of anything. Something wasn’t right.
Nabooru shuffled beside him. He spared her a quick glance to see a frown darkening her face. Nothing was going right here.
That decided him. He pulled back his glaive and studied that face again. The Hylian didn’t lower his chin. If anything, the odd Hylian seemed to be studying him back. No, it wasn’t the moonlight. The Hylian looked white, and Ganondorf saw sweat glisten on his forehead. Perhaps not a spy then, but a sick fool who wandered the wrong way. But how had he made it this far?
Ganondorf jumped from his saddle, and as one, the Gerudo pulled out their weapons and aimed it at the Hylian. Ganondorf remembered the moon before, the breath of sorcery, and strode forward. Perhaps not sick but enchanted. With the Hylian King somehow still commanding the suicidal Sheikah, anything was possible.
Confusion but no fear on that pale face. Disoriented at most, and Ganondorf watched the Hylian close his eyes, as if steadying himself. When the Hylian opened his eyes again, Ganondorf knelt before him. Around him, his Gerudo remained tense and ready. If it was an enchantment, they would kill the Hylian at the first sudden movement.
Up close, Ganondorf realized the Hylian’s eyes were blue. “Can you speak, Hylian?”
To his annoyance, instead of answering, the Hylian nodded. Immediately, he looked more disoriented, lending credence to the possibility of him being ill. Ganondorf scowled. Surely an illness would not rob him of his tongue.
“Can you speak this tongue, Hylian?” he asked, question pointed. To his shock and growing rage, the Hylian scowled back and then nodded . Again. Did he not realize that death surrounded him? That he lived now only by Ganondorf’s will?
Haughty, arrogant Hylians, proud enough to act like another’s kingship meant nothing . He knew how the Hylian people viewed his kind. He heard the rumors, the laughter. They thought the Gerudo little more than animals, nothing but filthy thieves .
He would show them soon enough. His mothers whispered promises to him, promises of power and revenge. Perhaps Ganondorf would start with this runt.
“He might be fever-addled,” Nabooru offered, voice scornful.
“Fever-addled or no,” and there was Kali, the voice of reason, “we need to know how he passed the guards. No one does it by pure luck.”
“Interrogate him and have some fun with him. He looks like passable breeding stock.”
“Passable! He looks like he would break at the first ride!”
Ganondorf ignored them, watching as the Hylian closed his eyes and panted for breath. Ill or enchanted, it didn’t matter. His Hylian arrogance had sealed his fate. When he opened his blue eyes again, there was still no fear. Rage burned in Ganondorf’s heart. “Hylian,” he snarled and grabbed the Hylian’s skinny arm.
Or, at least, what he expected to be a skinny arm. He wrapped his hand around pure, hard muscle. Ganondorf had a split second to register that before the back of the Hylian’s hand flared. The Gerudo shouted but no one moved forward. Ganondorf couldn’t move at all.
On the back of the Hylian’s hand, the Triforce, the symbol of the Triad, shone with holy light. That light warmed Ganondorf, stole the breath from his lungs.
“The Mark of the Goddesses,” Kali whispered. Ganondorf couldn’t look away.
The entire Triforce, but the bottom right corner shone the brightest. Farore. The Goddess of Courage. The Hylian’s green garb…
Stunned, he looked away to meet the Hylian’s gaze. That was all the warning he had before those blue eyes closed and the Hylian slumped into his arms. The light dimmed and faded away, leaving them in darkness.
At last, Nabooru spoke. “So I suppose this means we aren’t killing him.”
Ganondorf laughed, harsh and breathless, and wrapped his arms tight around the Hylian. At last, at last , the Goddesses showed the Gerudo people they were not abandoned. His mothers were right. They were chosen .
It helped that their sign came with so fair a face, too.