Even blindfolded, the Hylian strode into the arena with an eerie grace and assurance. Ganondorf crossed his arms across his chest and watched his Gerudo guide the Hylian into the light. It was the first time Ganondorf got a good look at him, away from the dungeons and the shadows of night.
The Hylian was filthy. Dirt darkened his fair hair and face and crimson spots of dried blood stained his clothes. Yet all the earth in Din’s kingdom could not hide how the Hylian jerked and cocked his head, then turned to stare, through the blindfold, at the altar.
Beside him, Nabooru startled. Ganondorf heard the rustle of clothes as the Elders shifted. Ganondorf smirked and watched his little Hylian. Only this small group accompanied him to watch the trial. Beaten down by the war, the pride of the Gerudo growing more lifeless by the day, seeing shadows when Din sent them fire…
Come, little one. Ganondorf watched as the Gerudo removed the blindcloth. The Hylian blinked, adjusting to the light, but otherwise appeared unperturbed. Show them that you are what we’ve waited for .
There was an empty spot beside Ganondorf where he expected his mothers to stand. He gritted his teeth and clenched his fists at the lack. True, the Hylian wasn’t much to look at, but the mark on his hand… The first sign in Ganondorf’s lifetime that the Goddesses hadn’t abandoned them. For all their words of power and greatness, his mothers were quick to look away when a chance at last presented itself.
Of course, it was odd that their symbol came in such a form, so maybe that was why they doubted. They doubted the Hylian , not Ganondorf.
Ganondorf flexed his fingers and watched his people leave the Hylian to face his trial. Skinny, pale, and dirty, based on physical appearance alone, he didn’t look like much. Yet he moved with confidence and grace, fearless in his assessment of the room and in his stride toward the Pearl.
Go, little one .
The first test: actually activating the trial. Ganondorf never saw anyone take the trial, but as King, he knew what to expect.
Or so he thought.
With a shout and what looked like a punch to the earth, the Hylian called upon a circle of flame. Nabooru jerked and cursed under her breath. The guard Teryn shouted in alarm but her sister Talia stopped her before she grabbed her weapon. Hearing the Elders mutter between themselves, Ganondorf felt a smile stretch across his face. Good. Good, little one.
Even as everyone reacted, the second part of the trial began. The doors slammed shut, locking the Hylian in, and the statues came to life. Nabooru leaned forward, eyes wide, Ganondorf watched on, lips curling to bare his teeth.
Go, little one.
And the little one did.
Ganondorf watched, anticipation and excitement heating his blood, as the Hylian tested and fought and all but danced around the arena. Determined and fearless, he moved as smoothly as the snakes he fought. No hesitation, just movement, and Ganondorf’s breath caught when the first snake crashed into the wall.
One down. Ganondorf exhaled, the sound almost a purr. Defeated with no visible effort.
His mothers promised him greatness and here was a tool from the Goddesses themselves, graciously given to him. No, it wasn’t odd at all that it came in the form of a Hylian. It was only fitting, a perfect prize to throw in the Hylian King’s face.
Two left. Ganondorf watched the Hylian run away but not far. Heart pounding and warmth pooling in his gut, Ganondorf watched the serpents charge the still figure.
Mere meters away and still he stood. Close enough for their shadows to blanket him and still nothing. Close enough for Ganondorf to feel an inkling of dismay and then the Hylian leaped backwards, an actual backflip, out of the way, and the serpents slammed into each other, leaving broken stone behind.
Nabooru began to cheer and Taryn and Talia applauded, and the Hylian looked up at them. This far, Ganondorf couldn’t make out his expression. Without a sound, the Hylian turned to claim his prize.
Ganondorf knew he already had his. His champion, his gift from the Goddesses. His mothers were wrong. He --
Fire shot up around the altar. The Hylian yelped and leaped back.
“Hey,” Nabooru murmured. “I thought the trial was over.”
It was , and yet before Ganondorf’s eyes, the crumbled stone drew together.
“This is not part of the trial.” Ganondorf leaned forward, the fire in his blood turning to ice, as the stone transformed into a massive, three-headed snake. Its screech echoed through the room.
No , Ganondorf thought as the battle began. He had just -- after all this time -- discovered his destiny. He refused to let anyone, even the Goddesses themselves, take it from him.
When the Hylian hit the dirt, Ganondorf knew what he had to do.
If some mysterious enemy wanted to tear Ganondorf’s destiny from him, they would have to fight Ganondorf first.